Sunday, March 10, 2024

Google Stadia Exclusives Update

Update March 10, 2024: 

Gylt was released on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5Windows on Steam, plus Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S on July 6, 2023. It will be released for Nintendo Switch on March 14, 2024.

Hello Engineer was released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows on Steam, and Xbox One on August 17, 2023.

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs will be an enhanced port of the Stadia game. According to its website, it will be released on May 2, 2024 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, Windows on Steam, plus Xbox One.

Unfortunately, it seems that OutcastersPixelJunk Raiders, and Worm Game will be lost to history. If things do change, I'll update this post.

Original post on February 23, 2023:

Since Google's ill-fated game streaming service shut down on the 18th of January, I thought I'd do a list of the availability of Stadia's exclusive games in the same manner that I listed the Telltale game availability after the collapse of the original Telltale Games.

Gunsport, an action volleyball game by Necrosoft, is available for Windows in an offline version via the Steam beta channel of its sequel, Hyper Gunsport. A video on Twitter shows how to activate the original game.

Gylt, a horror adventure game by Tequila Works, will be coming to multiple platforms in 2023.

Hello Engineer, a racing and vehicle creation game by tinyBuild, will be released on Steam in 2023. 

PixelJunk Raiders, a space exploration roguelike by Q-Games, has an unknown future. In an interview with The Verge, the founder and CEO of Q-Games stated intentions to bring Pixeljunk Raiders to other platforms, but a publisher is needed to help with the costs of doing so.

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle, a sixty-four-player battle royal by Heavy Iron Studios, has not had any updates about its future. However, this is Pac-Man we're talking about. I'd be really surprised if Bandai Namco doesn't re-release it in some form at some point in the future. 

Outcasters, a multiplayer shooter by Splash Damage, sadly looks like it will be lost to history. Splash Damage tweeted that it would be difficult to port to another platform because its features are too tightly integrated into Stadia's infrastructure.

Worm Game, Google's multiplayer take on the Snake game, was released as a surprise just before the service shutdown. Since this was the game Google used to test the Stadia platform, this one is also likely going to be lost forever.

Luckily the Stadia exclusive game list is short. One game is already available outside of Stadia, two games are coming to one or more platforms soon, two have uncertain futures, and two are likely going to be lost forever. As someone who is involved in video game preservation, those last two hurt. 

I'll update this list if anything changes.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Comedy Anime Television Episode Review: Dropkick on My Devil!! - Season 1, Episode 1

I first found out about Dropkick on My Devil!!, also known as Jashin-chan Dropkick, while I was idly watching Hatsune Miku videos on YouTube. I watched all of Dropkick on my Devil!! X, or season three, as Miku appeared in each episode. I didn't like it at first, as the combination of comic gore and cute aesthetics is a bit off-putting. About three episodes into season three, I really started liking the show. Once I reached the end, I went back to season one and watched it from the beginning. Episode one takes place on Halloween, so it's the perfect time to review it. 

The episode opens with an exposition about the main premise of the show, in a similar fashion to the first page of the manga. If a human casts a spell to bring a demon to the human realm, the demon can not return to hell until the human casts the return spell or dies. A human witch named Yurine summoned a lamia, or a demon with the top half of a woman and the bottom half of a serpent, named Jashin-chan. The latter wants to return to hell, so she spends her time in the human realm trying to kill the former.

Yurine is extremely quick and strong for a human, so Jashin-chan never succeeds in killing her. Unfortunately for Jashin-chan, Yurine is also a sadist and takes pleasure in enacting brutal punishments with deadly weapons. Jashin-chan has a healing ability that restores her no matter if she is sliced, stabbed, or squished. Jashin-chan also isn't very intelligent, so she never learns her lesson.

After the opening with music alternating between sweet J-pop and heavy metal, which perfectly reflects its contrasting nature of the comic gore and cuteness, the episode throws the viewer right into an adaptation of chapter fifty-nine of the manga. It's weird that the first episode adapts a chapter from the fifth volume of the manga, but it is a scene that has all the main characters. All in all, it's a good introduction to everyone, as, by the end of the opening scene all of the characters are given their characterizations and main motivations.

Yurine has relatives who send her prime cuts of wagyu beef on rare occasions, and Jashin-chan has a real skill at cooking. Other devils join them in eating the meal Jashin-chan prepared. Medusa, a kind ancient Greek gorgon woman. Minos is a minotaur, in that she is part woman and part cow, but she has no problem with eating beef as long as her parents don't know she is doing so. 

Jashin-chan also invited Pekora, a fallen angel who lost her halo preventing her from going back to heaven resulting in her becoming destitute and homeless. She feels she is disrespecting her Lord by eating a meal with demons, but she does so anyway because she is so hungry. However, Jashin-chan forgets she invited Pekora and is angry at her for being an angel eating with devils. Yurine threatens Jashin-chan, telling her to be nice. Jashin-chan then makes a big show of being friendly to the fallen angel, however, she gives her no beef in her sukiyaki. This angers the group, leading Jashin-chan to eat all the beef, followed by a brutal slicing punishment on Jashin-chan from Yurine.

That's the whole premise of the show. The rest of the episode expands on that, with an adaptation of the fifth and sixth chapters of the manga, showing that Medusa wears a bag over her head to prevent turning people to stone by looking at them, but doesn't affect Yurine due to a bracelet she wears that prevents petrification. Medusa also spends a lot of money on Jashin-chan, further angering Yurine due to Jashin-chan's selfishness. The episode ends with an adaptation of chapter twelve of the manga, which showcases another failed murder attempt by Jashin-chan followed by a gory punishment by Yurine. 

The comedy is pretty funny, and they break the fourth wall in that they know they are in an anime. Even though it adapts the stories from the manga, the anime has fun with the animated medium, even going so far as playing around with mosaic blur over Jashin-chan's injuries. There are also funny interludes with exposition by a busty male demon and a dog-like hell beast.

One of the best parts of this anime is the voice acting. This is especially true of Aina Suzuki, who really gets to have fun with the over-the-top antics of Jashin-chan. She has a cute anime-style voice, complete with ending some sentences with desu-no. This can be compared to Valley girls ending their sentences with "right?". But she also turns on a dime to angriness, and her cutesy veneer is dropped.

Dropkick on My Devil!! definitely is a show that is not for anyone. If you are put off by violence and gore, it's best to give this one a pass. If you're willing to look past that, you just might enjoy the show. The characters are interesting, the voice acting is great, the art style is cute when it's not gory, and the translation into English through subtitles is top-notch. This episode's plot is pretty thin, but as the first episode, it gives a great look into this strange world of angels, demons, and humans.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5

Monday, July 31, 2023

Comedy Science Fiction Animated Web Series Episode Review: Futurama - The Impossible Stream

Futurama has returned from the dead yet again with the broadcast of the first episode of the eleventh broadcast season, or the eighth production season. Yes, the season numbering is weird, but blame the Cartoon Network executives for that because that channel's two seasons of Futurama were broken up into four parts.

I'll admit that I'm a huge Futurama fan. I briefly changed my screen name from Lopantu to Bender followed by Flexo, both in 2000, before settling with MetaFox the next year when I got my first arcade cabinet with a Seta game of the same name. I'm not the rose-tinted glasses type though, so I was cautiously optimistic about this episode but prepared for a possible letdown since the series has been off the air for 10 years. That's a long break, so I wasn't sure if the showrunners would be able to get back in the groove right off the bat. 

I didn't have to worry, as it managed to hit the mark with its usual dose of satire relating to today's world, as well as jabs at itself and the executives who cancelled it. The episode starts off right where the series ended in 2013 with "Meanwhile". The Planet Express crew learn that the time-stopping shenanigans of that episode messed with time itself, pulling the world ten years forward into 3023. Fry is distraught that he has been in the future for twenty-three years but has nothing to show for it. He decides to watch every television show ever made. This leads to some funny names of shows that are parodies of popular television and streaming shows, callbacks to previous shows-within a show such as their Twilight Zone parody The Scary Door, the Emeril Lagasse parody Elsar, and a surprisingly funny jab at Netflix's anti-trans comedy specials from Ricky Gervais and Dave Chapelle.

The episode truly kicks off when Fry decides to binge all of the episodes of All My Circuits, Futurama's parody of soap operas which is more like a telenovela parody today as those are the only variation of shows of that type that remain popular. The professor puts Fry into a binging suit, while the rest of the staff gets All My Circuits renewed so that Fry can keep watching episodes before he runs out of them.

I'm not going to say more, as it's definitely worth watching. So far Futurama has all of the humor and wit of its predecessor, reminding me a lot of the humor of the Comedy Central run of the show after the release of four films which ran for four years from 2009 to 2013. The voice actors step into their roles perfectly as well. This aspect of the show especially feels like it never went off the air in the first place. Time will tell if the series retains the heart of the show as well, but as Bender says about Futurama is definitely true. It's back, baby!

Final Verdict:
4 out of 5

Friday, July 28, 2023

Open World Action-Adventure DLC Review: Sea of Thieves - The Legend of Monkey Island: The Journey to Mêlée Island

The Journey to Mêlée Island, the first chapter of the free Legend of Monkey Island Tall Tale expansion for Sea of Thieves, is available now. It aims to blend the open-world action-adventure pirate swashbuckler with the inventory-based adventure mechanics of the Monkey Island series.

The story fits snugly in between Curse of Monkey Island and Escape from Monkey Island. The Pirate Lord invited Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley Threepwood to honeymoon in the Sea of Thieves. However, there is a curse that makes Guybrush, and presumably Elaine in future chapters, relive memories of past adventures that create a skewed version of whatever island is being remembered.

This makes it possible for pirates from the Sea of Thieves to physically travel to Mêlée Island. Because of this, Kate Capsize and the Pirate Lord want to hire a pirate to free the honeymooners from their curse. The Pirate Lord wants to rescue them, while Kate wants revenge on Guybrush because he switched his face for hers on a wanted poster which caused her to be imprisoned on Phatt Island.

Most of the people on the island appear to be from Guybrush's memories because the SCUMM Bar patrons the chef, the lookout, the shady merchant, the shopkeeper, the ghost pirates, Otis the prisoner, and the three loitering pirates all appeared in Guybrush's first adventure. The presence of Murray could be from the skewed memories due to the curse. I'm glad the latter was included as I really loved Murray in this chapter, especially after he gets what he wants. The animators deserve a raise for Murray's animations.

One character that doesn't belong is a cursed skull from A Pirate's Life Tall Tale who is known as the Cursed Captain. He appears to have actually made it to Mêlée Island but got stuck up on the wall of the SCUMM Bar by the three important pirates. There's a lot of potential for story there and I hope Rare doesn't squander it in future chapters.

I thought the puzzles were fun. I liked how they integrated the Sea of Thieves mechanics into the puzzles too. The sword, tankard, and lantern all were used fantastically. The crane puzzle, especially, was great. It was a head-scratcher, especially when the crane wouldn't lift it. I was stuck for a while before I jumped into the water to see what was going on and saw the solution. That puzzle was something that felt like it could have been in the series proper.

The voices used the voice actors from The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition or Terrible Toybox's Return to Monkey Island for those that weren't in the LucasArts joint. They were just as excellent here as they were in the preceding games. The music was also used well, with the Monkey Island theme popping up as you approached Melee, the familiar SCUMM Bar music that faded out in volume as you got further away from the bar, and Walt the skeleton pirate playing the skeleton ship theme on his violin. Bonus points for the name Walt, too.

There were some aspects that didn't work as well, however. Hunting for pieces of eight was tedious and not fun at all. At the end of the chapter, I couldn't find all of the money needed for the optional content, so I just gave up and ended the chapter four pieces of eight short. The walk up and down the hill to get to the lookout and back also wasn't fun, and he didn't have enough pieces of eight for the trouble. I kept jumping off early on the path down and losing health. Getting hurt was worth it though, because it cut down on all the tedious walking.

The Journey to Mêlée Island was a good start to the Sea of Thieves Legend of Monkey Island expansion. The story, voice acting, music, and puzzles were great. I really hope the next chapter ditches the money collecting and long walks because it felt like artificially extending the time required to finish the chapter. If the issues with this chapter are sorted in future chapters, we could potentially be in for a great time.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5

Friday, July 21, 2023

Sea of Thieves: The Legend of Monkey Island - The Journey to Mêlée Island Is Available

Rare's open-world online multiplayer pirate action-adventure swashbuckler, Sea of Thieves, now has more pirate goodness with the addition of a Monkey Island campaign. All of the voice actors from the Monkey Island series have returned as well.

There will be three episodes. The first episode is The Journey to Mêlée Island, which is available right now!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Television Series Episode Review: Star Trek - The Next Generation: Time's Arrow (Part 2)

The follow-up to the final episode in season five of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Time's Arrow: Part 2, takes the unusual route of not following directly after the cliffhanger. Instead, there is a time skip of at least a month.

Jean-Luc Picard, Geordi LeForge, and Deanna Troi have rented an apartment under the guise of a traveling theater troupe. Will Riker poses as a police officer and Dr. Beverly Crusher serves as a nurse at a nearby hospital. Meanwhile, Data still resides at the hotel still pretending to be a French inventor. Mark Twain has been following Guinan for weeks, trying to discover what she and the people from the future are doing in nineteenth-century San Francisco. Naturally, as the author of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, he assumes that their presence will cause havoc to his time period.

After Data's machine picks up time skips, the aliens are revealed and Data's fate comes to fruition. The away team of the USS Enterprise-D has to stop the aliens on Devidia II in the twenty-fourth century, while they also have to deal with the fact that Mark Twain knows more about the future than he should.

While I was disappointed that racism wasn't mentioned in the previous episode, I did appreciate Mark Twain mentioning the European colonialists that destroyed existing civilizations in the name of exploration. It did ring a bit hollow though, with the ultimate treatment of the aliens by the Enterprise. Picard offered an alternative to one alien, so it was a bit surprising that this wasn't offered to the remaining members of that species.

Ultimately, while it isn't quite up to the standards of the previous episode, it does remain a fun episode to close the two-parter. I grew up in Elmira, NY, where Mark Twain is buried, so I have had an affinity for the author since childhood. It was fun to see him interact with the crew and be so willing to adapt his perspective on things. The treatment of the aliens was a bit jarring, but the rest of the episode wrapped up nicely.

Final Verdict:
3½ out of 5

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Television Series Episode Review: Star Trek - The Next Generation: Time's Arrow (Part 1)

While on my month-long trip through the Southern United States, I binged the third season of Star Trek: Picard. As it was a reunion of the main characters and their actors from Star Trek: The Next Generation, I wanted to go back and check out some of my favorite episodes from when I was young and see how they hold up today. 

Whoopi Goldberg's Guinan was always a special character to be. Whenever she was in an episode, I would always get excited as episodes that included her were almost always something special. Time's Arrow serves as an origin story, of sorts, for Guinan. The set-up for the first part of the two-part episode immediately draws you into the episode. Signs of extra-terrestrial life were discovered on Earth in the nineteenth century. Federation scientists call in the USS Enterprise-D to investigate because they had found the android Data's severed head among the old relics.

As fossil records indicated the presence of inhabitants of Devidia II, the Enterprise travels to the planet to investigate. Captain Jean-Luc Picard tries to keep Data from going on the away mission, but when the precise calculations of his positronic brain are needed, he reluctantly acquiesces. He shifts his body to be slightly out of sync with time, which causes him to become invisible to his crewmates. However, as Data has not shifted as far out of time as those on the planet, he is not visible to them.

However, things quickly get out of hand, and Data is sent hurtling back in time to the Earth's past. He arrives in San Francisco in 1893, gambles to win money, and sets himself up in a hotel where he tries to build a device with nineteenth-century materials meant to track the time shifts. Things don't go as planned when he discovers the presence of Guinan. He goes to see her and discovers that she is not from the future as he expected, but rather is from that time period as her species is very long-lived. She is entertaining high-society guests including the author, Mark Twain.

The first episode is every bit as fantastic as I remember it. However, I do wonder how a black woman managed to become so ingrained in high-society America in 1893. There are hints of a book written by her as well as the fact that her father sent her to Earth. It does manage to keep Guinan mysterious, which I like, but it would have been great to get more of a background on that, considering the intense racism present in America at that time. While more background would have been appreciated, the lack of it doesn't detract from the episode, as it works as it is presented.

The episode ends with a great cliffhanger, as the Enterprise crew travels through a portal back in time to discover the reason why aliens were on Earth and to try to rescue their missing shipmate and friend. This was a cliffhanger ending for season five, and it served its purpose well. At this point, Star Trek: The Next Generation was firing on all cylinders and it was an exciting preview of the fantastic adventures the crew would go through during the last two seasons of the show.

Final Verdict:
4½ out of 5