King Of Toilet Games: From An Expert Sitter

As a cell phone/ tablet user, you may be wondering, what exactly qualifies me to be an expert sitter? Well, since this is meant to be a short article, I'll simply show you. What? Were you actually expecting a picture of me on the toilet?

Regarding the meaning of the phrase Toilet Game I consulted Urban Dictionary to provide a definition:

"A game of any kind that may be played using one hand; therefore leaving one hand free to brace yourself, wipe, etc."

Certainly, any app game that fits this criterion would be considered a toilet game, but what is the perfect game to play while visiting 'John'? Typically it’s just a few minutes; occasionally, an individual might want to 'shoot the breeze,' contemplate the meaning of life, or what they want for dinner before returning to the task they left.

Bearing in mind that time is of the essence, I present two app games that, in my opinion, are the perfect way to spend those few minutes. Both are from the same company, King. I'm fairly certain you have a mobile device and are quite familiar with this developer and their most popular game, Candy Crush Saga. If you aren't, here is a short video on the company's history.

I love bubble pop games! I prefer Bubble Witch 3 Saga over its predecessors.  

The graphics are clean, and the theme and colors give a warm, cozy feel.   

Watching this will give you an idea of what the levels are like. 

My favorite levels are the ghost levels. Billy is the name of the little ghost that the player is helping reunite with his family by popping bubbles!  The player is also given four kittens. Each has its own magical power-up that lasts 30 mins.

via GIPHY

This article wouldn't be complete without something with Candy Crush in it. I picked  Candy Crush Friends Saga. It has all the same elements as all previous games, in a bite-size form. The player is given a friend with a special power-up; the player must collect a certain number of candies to charge up the special ability. There are 11 characters with a multitude of costumes to choose from. Each costume gives the characters a different personality. See Yeti’s victory dance as a werewolf

Both of these games not only fit within the parameters of the definition, but with all the power-ups, whether it's from cute magical kittens or the friends from Candy Crush Saga, you can power through levels and get high scores while you do business with John. Also, please don't forget to wash your hands.

You tell us. What is your favorite toilet game?

Squad Based Action Aliens Game Revealed

“What The Hell Are We Supposed to Use, Man?”

Aliens Dark Descent was revealed today at Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest. Developed by Tindalos Interactive and published by Focus Entertainment, Aliens Dark Descent will be coming to PS5, PS4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2023. This new game in the iconic franchise is said to be a “nerve-wracking, real-time action (game).”

"The entire team at Tindalos is dedicated to delivering a gaming experience faithful to the spirit of the Alien franchise, and adding its own, never-seen-before elements to this iconic universe. The gameplay we have developed is unique, inspired from our favorite tactical and CRPG games and packaged in nerve-wracking, real-time action. Translating from film to our game the sheer terror caused by the deadliest species known to man was quite a challenge, but I'm confident most of you will end up in strung-out shape - as Hicks himself would say. "

-Romain Clavier, CEO & Creative Director at Tindalos Interactive.
Colonial marines shooting xenomorphs
A small taste of the gameplay

This new iteration will attempt to deliver the over-the-top action of the second movie from a new perspective, setting, and deep original single-player story. Here’s hoping this one lands somewhere near Alien Isolation territory and avoids being a massive pile of dog shit like Colonial Marines.

Check out the spine-tingling trailer here:


Are you interested in a new Aliens game? Or should they give up already?

Let us know in the comments.

Friendship Enders: Wii Sports

Cast your minds back with me, my friends. Back before this dark and dismal time that is 2022. Back before the only way we could get a PS5 or Xbone Series X was by sitting up on our roof with butterfly nets and the naive hope that we could solve the quantum mechanics required to catch one of these shooting stars.

I’m talking about even before the PS4 and Xbone One (I’m going to keep saying Xbone until it gets a laugh) pulled us into the eighth generation kicking and screaming.

Yes, we’re going back to 2006 when this little company called Nintendo released one small console that led to an epidemic of broken TVs, massive property destruction, and tendonitis around the world. For those of you that missed the title of this article, it’s the Wii, and more specifically, the tie-in launch game, Wii Sports.    

They tried to warn us… but we didn’t listen.

Yes, our family managed to secure a Wii for my dad's birthday. In the short time it took us to set the console up and find enough batteries, we were in the future, playing tennis and golf and bowling; oh my. In the beginning, we were all overcome with just how realistic it was swinging the controller in our living room and having the mii character swing the racket on the screen at the same time.

After a while, our parents stopped playing as much as they used to, whereas my brother and I continued our careers in Wii Sports. We each picked one of the sports and began the arduous ascent to the top of the ranking system and that sweet, elusive pro-level ranking.

Pictured above: The final fight.

Now I won’t say that we pursued the goal of going Pro because we measured our self-worth by that damned erratic skill graph. I won’t say that because it makes it seem that much sadder out loud (but no less true).

Anyway, my brother picked bowling, and I, being the patriotic Aussie that I am, chose the classic Australian pastime, baseball. 

Pictured: Australian Baseball

After a while, we played Wii Sports so much that we began to notice some shortcomings. Mainly with the motion tracking in the controllers not being quite 1:1. This, of course, turned the gameplay from elegant swings of the Wiimote to flailing the Wiimote around like there was a spider on the end of it (one of those big wolf spider fuckers). Eventually, playing the game amounted to us using as little effort as possible to get the game to work. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we didn’t love playing the game. I loved playing “the sportsball” without having to leave the house and face my nemesis- the sun. It’s just that moving my arm to control the remote gets tiring after a while, and my life is a tug of war between laziness and stubbornness.

We even had a ritual in my house called the Wiimote hokey pokey that goes like this.

  1. You shake the Wiimote left.
  2. You shake the Wiimote right.
  3. You shake the Wiimote left.
  4. You shake the Wiimote right.
  5. You shake it all about becausethisgoddamncontrollerisn’tworking yetagaineventhoughIswearIcalibrateditthistimeandwhyisyoursworkingfinewhenmineobviouslydoesn’t.

After a while, the inevitable march of time ravaged the Wiimote as the motion tracking got less and less responsive… well it was either that or the infamous Wii bowling incident of 2013. 

It was a summer weekend afternoon, as with all great moments in history. I was playing some solo Wii sports bowling by myself in my living room (what a mysterious and suave character), and it was fair to say it was going well. I was on track for a new personal best and decided to give this next throw a bit more “oomph.”

Now, the mysterious and suave character that I am, I wasn’t wearing my wrist strap. As is the case with the karmic justice system of the universe, the Wiimote slipped from my hand. I swear I could hear my ancestors reveling in my misery as the Wiimote sailed through the air and smashed into the wall.  

From top to bottom: Top of controller, B button & bottom of the controller.

Now coming back to 2022, we’ve got the spiritual successor to Wii Sports in Switch Sports. Now the Wii, this great console, and its innovative game Wii Sports have been relegated to the display cabinet of history. Just remember to use the wrist strap, and hopefully, we get some sort of staff attachment further down the track.

What’s your favorite Wii Sports moment? Did you ever achieve that converted Pro Ranking? Let me know down below.

WAS MEGACON ORLANDO MEGA? OR A CON?

A few short weeks ago, I was fortunate to attend Orlando's biggest four-day convention extravaganza, Megacon! I've been going to Megacon for almost a decade now. While I could easily say that it was the best yet, I could also argue that some aspects of it were the worst I've ever experienced. As an extension of my thoughts and experiences, I've compiled a list of the pros and cons of Megacon 2022.

PRO: Cosplay And Costumes

Cosplayers were in full force from the streets to the south concourse red carpet runway this weekend. The Justice League was seen hanging out with Deadpool, Jedi and Sith dueled in the concourse with lightsabers in all colors, and every Spider-Man under the sun gathered together to take part in an amazing Spider-Verse photo shoot. It's always a delight to see people dress up as their favorite video game/film/anime characters and bring them to life in a captivating way. They work year-round on their cosplays, and it brings me great joy to see them being stopped to get their picture taken by fans who are amazed by all the effort they have put into their outfits.

Living my best life cosplaying as a Cog Soldier from my favorite game series Gears Of War.

CON: Parking

This year I am so glad that I booked a hotel that was within walking distance of the convention because parking was an absolute nightmare. On Saturday, Megacons official social media accounts were flooded with negative comments and refund requests due to a lack of parking spaces. Several fans were stuck in traffic for up to four hours only to get turned around due to no available parking. If the organizers want to do better next year, they either need to provide more parking spaces or cap off ticket sales after a certain number has been reached.

PRO: Guest LineUp

The all-star lineup of celebrities and voice actors at Megacon was, without a doubt, its defining feature. Fans traveled from around the world to meet their favorite stars and take pictures with them. There were several celebrities in attendance, including Brendan Fraser (The Mummy), Nathan Fillion (Con-Man, Firefly), William Zabka (Karate Kid, Cobra Kai), and even WWE Legend The Undertaker. Several amazing voice actors were also present at the event, including the Dragon Ball Z heroes Sean Schemmel (Goku) and Christopher Sabat (Vegeta), as well as the legend that is Kevin Conroy (Batman), and the Master Chief himself, Steve Downes. Lastly, all four Hobbits from The Lord Of The Rings also made a special appearance. I was able to relive my childhood dream of meeting the heroes I had grown up reading about in books and watching in films. It was a rather magical experience for me, I'd say.

You could tell my child wanted to be on the other side.

CON: Hobbit Lines

So I was one of many that purchased a ticket bundle where I was granted a photo op and signature from all four Hobbits; it doesn't sound too difficult to obtain, right? WRONG! When you bought the bundle, you would think all four autographs could be obtained at once, but that was not the case. There was a line for each of their tables, and you had to wait hours just to reach the front of the line. Several people failed to get the autographs they pre-purchased by the end of the two days that the Hobbits appeared due to the long and unorganized lines. If I hadn't been extremely lucky with how I planned my trip, I would have been one of those poor unfortunate souls. Of the four lines I waited in, the longest one lasted four hours, while the shortest was an hour and a half. It was even more difficult because the talent was either breaking for lunch or had to do a panel or photo op every 45 minutes. The situation wasn't made any better by the fact that a majority of the staff working there didn't know when or if the signings would resume. It got to the point where some crew members were asking those in line when the celebrities would return. My disappointment has nothing to do with the talent, but with how the bundles and lines were organized. If you paid for a special package, they should have at least grouped those with it together in its own line and allowed a time slot for them.

PRO: Artist Alley 

It's always a treat to see all the incredible artwork talented artists display at conventions. Every year at Megacon, I never seem to be disappointed. I find a few shops that stand out among the rest and amaze me with their creativity. As I was walking through the exhibit hall on the first day of the con, I discovered a shop named Ali Wagner Sculpts. My wife Taylor and I bought quite a few of their gorgeous handcrafted figurines on custom-painted canvases. We look forward to purchasing more as soon as we can to add to our growing collection! With an impressive array of beautiful artwork available for a great price, Rossome Designs is sure to leave you speechless with an abundant amount of designs from Marvel, Disney, and countless other brands. The one booth Taylor looks forward to seeing every year is Studio Hadley. Artist Mark Hadley has some of the most fascinating artwork out there. His pieces are both beautiful and spooky at the same time, and it works! All three of these artists are unbelievably talented at what they do and deserve some serious love, so please do me a solid and support them by giving them a follow on their socials.

Magnificent artwork from Ali Wagner Sculpts (Top left), Rossome Designs (Top Right), and Studio Hadley (Bottom).

CON: Overbooked On Saturday 

To put it simply, Saturday was a disaster. There should have been a cap on how many attendees were allowed on that day. Guests were constantly arriving on the show floor, elbow to elbow, as crowds piled in by the minute. There were still hundreds awaiting parking outside, trying to get in. On top of that, the website was still selling tickets for the event on that day. Although I am aware that Saturdays are usually the busiest and most crowded days of the convention, I have never encountered a situation this horrible in all my previous experiences at this convention or any other.

Taking everything into consideration, Megacon Orlando 2022 had its ups and downs. Yes, parking was difficult, crowds were excessive, and how they handled celebrity lines was less than pleasant. In no way do I intend to discourage you from experiencing all that it has to offer. In my opinion, there is nothing quite like the feeling you get walking into the con for the first time on opening day and being exposed to all the crazy, fun-filled adventures that await. With a variety of artwork to browse through and the creativity of cosplayers to marvel at, you are sure to have a wonderful time taking part in the convention. Despite its shortcomings, no con is without flaws, so don't let it stop you from unleashing your inner nerd!

Enjoy some photos from my experiences at Megacon, including a few of my cosplays and some awesome artwork.

Did you attend Megacon Orlando this year? Will you be attending any other cons in the near future? Share your thoughts down below in the comments.

The Games That Define a Generation - PlayStation Two

Another PlayStation article, another signature bootup sound. Let’s take a second and listen to another iconic sound in video game history:

From 2000 to 2018, the PlayStation 2 dominated the gaming landscape while an emerging console called the Xbox was still finding its feet as a competitor. Many innovations arose from the PS2’s life such as more robust online multiplayer experiences that originated from the Sega Dreamcast. The evolution of rhythm games with the release of the smash hit Guitar Hero and the use of the Playstation camera with the release of Eyetoy created new avenues for players to experience groundbreaking titles. Much like the original PlayStation, the PlayStation 2 was no slouch when it comes to competition-killing games. Here are some of my memorable titles along with other titles chosen by other Couch Soup contributors:

Monster Hunter (2004)

Box art from Monster Hunter (2004) with the flagship monster Rathalos

I recently wrote a piece on how Monster Hunter World is a great title to get into the franchise for new players. However, I first was converted to the series fold back when it was released in 2004. The different entries of the action RPG games center around a hunter who is part of a research team as they discover the world around them. That includes hunting monsters who have the nerve to be on the same planet as the player,  in order to harvest materials from said monsters to create better gear and further the plot of the game.

This was my first dabble into online multiplayer as well. From my friends in school who happen to have the game to players as far as Japan, it was cool to see a party hunting monsters to create sweet-looking armor and weapons. When a monster is vanquished and the famous quest victory theme blasts the TV speakers, a collective sigh of relief emerges for all the hard work from everyone in the party.

We don’t talk about Fatalis

The monsters are always the highlight during the hunt. From the flagship monster of the franchise Rathalos which breathes fire and can poison using its tail to the Plesioth which shoots water jets from its mouth and a hip check that can track players from a distance. Then there’s the almost unbeatable Fatalis which takes certain specific steps to defeat it. 

Each monster poses a unique challenge and obstacles. But it will still bring a level of satisfaction when those challenges are met whether on a solo hunt or with a party. Sometimes I often wonder if the monsters are the stars of the game rather than the player!

Guitar Hero (2005) and Rock Band (2007)

Trust me: You’re still a rock star with these buttons!

The rhythm game was popularized by Dance Dance Revolution in the arcades and Parappa the Rapper on the original PlayStation. The PlayStation 2 had its own renaissance of rhythm games with the rise of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Playing hit songs from the likes of Foghat’s “Smoke on the Water” to the blistering tapping of “Eruption” from Van Halen can now be done from the comfort of home or with friends. While Guitar Hero introduced the guitar controller to the world, Rock Band took it a step further as a drum set and a microphone were included to have the live show experience fully realized in a video game. 

From a personal standpoint, I had a great time playing with friends during the week and playing Dani California by The Red Hot Chili Peppers countless times on Rock Band to get the song right. From those same friends, we got better musically and started to learn and play real instruments after countless hours of playing Rock Band.

Yes, we’re totally a rock band from this photo. Can you guess where I am?

Titles that define the Playstation 2, according to the Couch Soup Community:

Here are some other titles from fellow contributors about their PS2 titles that define them:

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) - Tyler J. Graham

Grove Street 4 Life!

“I don’t have too many strong memories associated with the PlayStation 2 – it was a console released before I was even born. The one thing that vividly sticks out to me even to this day, though, was my early brush with the Grand Theft Auto series on the console. My dad loved playing GTA: San Andreas back when it was released in 2004, and I loved watching him drive the cars.

Sometimes, he would send me out of the room and carjack someone and then call me back in to drive the car around until I wrecked it. I’d go on to call San Andreas the “boomer game” because all I knew about it was that I got to drive cars around until they exploded. The PS2 was foundational for that memory, and I look back upon that quality time with my dad fondly.”

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (2002) - Candance Rose

Jango Fett making the most out of an awkward situation

“I was fifteen years old when this game was released. At this age, I was delving deep into Star Wars lore so this game offered a great medium to explore the galaxy further. It captivated me for hours on end. It offered diverse environments along with new controls & menus to master for the different gadgets of Jango Fett. The game started off easy, but the further I got into the story the difficulty ramped as I got closer to the end. 

This game definitely played a part in my evolution as a gamer realizing that different difficulties offered different gaming experiences. I started to enjoy a near-impossible challenge. (This game also made me develop a love for the flamethrower, but that’s another story for another time.) Overall, this game left me craving more of its kind for the Star Wars universe so I could continue my quest to become the best bounty hunter in the galaxy.”

Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex (2001) - Michelle Holstine

One of the many flying levels in Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex

“My game that defines my PlayStation 2 era would be Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex. This game guaranteed hours of collaboration and enjoyment with my family in the living room, even as only one person was actually playing. It helped us work together and uncovered a love for puzzle solving, linear-based games that continued into my adulthood. It also quickly made us fall in love with Naughty Dog, who continued to develop games that we were able to enjoy as an entire family. Crash has a special place in my heart and gave us amazing memories to look back on as a family.”

Thanks Tyler, Candace, and Michelle for contributing to this article!

What titles define the PlayStation 2 for you? Sound off in the comments and let’s talk about it!

Get Sorted With Automation* of Sorts

Have you ever felt the uncontrollable need to work in a mail sorting facility where the sorting machines constantly break down? No? Well, I have the perfect game for you anyway! 

Automation* of Sorts is a multiplayer action/puzzle game where you try to keep up with the never-ending maintenance of the automated machines in a variety of poorly-optimized sorting facilities. And when I say poorly optimized, I mean it. 

“Let’s give 110% effort for 85% pay due to our lower cost of living!”

This game is 18 levels of pure blissful hell, all wrapped up with the label of “fun for the family.” Play with up to four people in this challenging game built for couch co-op. Using Steam’s Remote Play, you can play online multiplayer, but it can be tricky to set up. We had three people playing, and once you get the hang of where you need to go and what you need to grab or repair, it is actually quite zen-like. My OCD brain was really digging this game. FIX ALL THE THINGS! SORT ALL THE MAIL!

via GIPHY

“Hurry up! Your shift is almost over!”

The difficulty scales the more people you have playing, which means that the mail bags or boxes come faster and more machines break down. The more broken machines, the more screaming right? Right! You are equipped with a portal if you decide you would like to play by yourself for a challenge (you psycho). This allows you to get around much faster. So you would place your portal in a perfect location of your choosing and port yourself back and forth to get the perfect score. Outstanding!

“Please schedule all breaks for when we are not busy.”

I had the extreme pleasure of being able to chat with the developer, Adam Prack (Adam Creations), while we played his game. The first thing we noticed was how incredibly catchy the game’s music is. We felt like it had a bit of an Incredibles vibe. Adam himself created all of the music for the game! As a matter of fact, he made everything for the game from the ground up. He had no official training and decided that this was something he wanted to do and taught himself game design. There was a lot of sketching to design each level, and when you see the levels, you will understand why. Each level has a slightly different angle, so you have to figure out where your characters can go to get to other sorting machines or the mail hopper. The level design is one of the things that Adam enjoyed the most about making the game. 

In-game Screenshot

As you run around and the machines break, you may notice that the mail starts to bunch up. You have to fix those machines fast, or you may end up with letters flying everywhere. You will also hear “HR lady” as we affectionately started calling her over the loudspeaker giving all kinds of unhelpful advice.  

“To the owner of the gray, self-driving car, please tell it to stop intimidating the other cars.”

Here’s a fun little tidbit of trivia. Adam’s wife did the voiceover for “HR lady.” She does a fantastic job. Adam’s children were the game testers, so you could say it was a family affair. Kids tend to be able to break a game faster than anyone (unless you are Louie). Fellow contributor Louie Reza was playing while we spoke to Adam and managed to break the game not once but THREE times. This is a callout to indie developers who need people to break your game to find the bugs. Message Louie. 

In-game Screenshot

“Please do not bring personal items into the sorting facilities. There is a chance your lunch could be sorted incorrectly and sent to another location.”

We had a lot of fun running through the levels and passing mail bags back and forth like a well-oiled machine (which, ironically, this game does not have). If the machines were well oiled, they wouldn’t break as much? Just a thought. At the end of each level, you get a grade, but it’s not a letter grade like many games have. It’s positive reinforcement! Well done!

In-game Screenshot

“We are speeding up the line to help you!”

This game is a bit like Overcooked with the way things are set up, but it’s much less frustrating. The positive reinforcement at the end of each level makes you want to keep going and do better each time. This game definitely scratches that OCD itch. You will WANT to fix all the machines and get all the letters sorted. If you enjoy puzzles and working together, you will have a good time with this fun little indie game. It’s currently on Steam for a low price and remember that the more you purchase indie games, the better for these small developers. There are so many indie games on Steam now that it’s hard to get noticed, so if you find a game you like, make sure people know about it! Getting an indie game on console can be very difficult if the developer doesn’t have a publisher. Unfortunately for most indie developers, getting that publisher can prove challenging if they don’t have a known game. It’s a bit of a double edge sword. So many games end up lost in the sea of indie games on Steam. 

I did ask Adam what his next project will be, and he is beginning work on an action RPG-type game that is Zelda-esque. So keep an eye out for his upcoming work! For the full interview with Adam, check out the video below!

“Please complete all of your work prior to clocking out!”

Automation of Sorts - Indie Insights

What kinds of indie games do you enjoy? Is there any game you would like to see us take a look at? Let me know in the comments!

The Nightmare Inside: Were Pants Crapped?

So, I’m a self-proclaimed horror connoisseur. I LOVE horror. I watch a lot of horror movies and I play many horror games. Check out my article on Silent Hill one of the greatest horror games to date! Unfortunately, horror movies and games don’t scare me anymore. I think I have seen so much of it I am just numb to it. I’m someone who seeks the darkest shit on the internet. Hey, I watched Hellraiser when I was four! (Probably not the smartest parental judgment) There is not much I haven’t seen… 

The horror junkie in me always looks for a new game that will scare me, so I jumped at the opportunity to play The Nightmare Inside. Will it be the one to finally break me? Let’s find out!

BEWARE! THERE ARE HEAVY SPOILERS FOR THIS GAME IN THIS REVIEW!

The Nightmare Inside from DE Games tells the story of a man who just lost his daughter in a car accident and is dealing with the pain. You wake from a terrible nightmare and must escape from your torment by solving puzzles while being pursued by something not human.  

According to the steam page, this game contains:

I like the sound of that! Sounds like a recipe for pant shitting. 

In the spirit of giving a fair review for The Nightmare Inside and because I know I am a little numb and judgemental to horror games, I enlisted the help of fellow CouchSoup contributor Erika Aundawyn. Besides my own review written below, I wanted to get her POV on the game.

By her admission, Erika is a scaredy-cat with horror, so I had Erika play The Nightmare Inside, with me, as a wingman, on camera…

Bring it on!! 

We begin with an interesting story…

The game opens to a black screen with text telling the story of how you had finished work and were picking your daughter up from school. You were tired, and your eyes were closing. You hear the sound of a car accident and learn that this was the death of your daughter… I like it! It’s an interesting opening and certainly sets the game’s tone, and I enjoy a tortured soul story. Wait, that sounded disturbing…

You open your eyes to a dark apartment. This is where you will play out your nightmare. 

The atmosphere was okay for me… 

It’s a little dark, but I can understand it is for the atmosphere. The reflections and lighting in the game look good. Realistic and polished. The apartment is very large but feels a little bare. There isn’t much to catch the eye and explore, but the story mentions you have just moved into this house, so that’s understandable. As you explore the apartment, a full-sized artist doll is sitting around. Weird. We will come back to that later.

Around the apartment are a couple of notes to read that describe the struggles our main character is facing while dealing with the loss of his daughter. As the game goes on, the notes get even more desperate, and you can see your character's slow descent into despair. Those are interesting to look through, and I felt you got a good sense that things were getting direr. I like little details like that. 

I realized that all the tension doesn’t really amount to anything…

As you explore further, it becomes evident that this is more than a bad dream. You can’t leave. When you try to leave the apartment, you are back in it, and this is when things start getting weird. I get strong PT Trailer inspiration from this… Noises happen, and eerie music plays. You can hear doors opening around you, and it is clear that you are not alone. You spend a good amount of time walking around, trying to turn on light switches, and finding buttons with nothing happening. After a while, the suspenseful, ambient music just has no impact and isn’t scary anymore. The game starts feeling like you're just experiencing a power cut.

The game has a couple of puzzles to solve. 

You have to search the apartment for keys and a couple of items. I enjoy that! It gives me a reason to explore and become immersed in the environment. The main puzzles, though, are Switch puzzles. Get the lights in the correct order to unlock a door. I don’t like puzzles like this! They are overused in horror games. There isn’t a clever riddle to solve or something deep to think about. You’re just poking buttons until you get the right order or waste time walking around and looking for markings on the walls. They kill the tension in horror games for me and take me out of the immersion. There was also a puzzle involving closing your eyes and listening to voices. You do this by pushing a button in the game which causes the screen to go black. You listen to whispers and ghostly sounds. Listening to them opens doors and allows you to proceed through the nightmare. This was interesting at first but got a little tedious after a while, especially when it wasn’t clear where you were supposed to be doing this. A lot of time was wasted walking around and closing your eyes in random places to try to trigger an event.

Jump scares! Oh, boy! 

These are the meat and bones of all horror games, and I was excited to see what The Nightmare Inside would bring to the table. For me, there weren’t any. Erika, on the other hand, felt differently. Check out that video above if you haven’t already. Do you remember the full-sized artist doll I mentioned earlier? It is alive and is following you around. It pops around the door frame once or twice to peekaboo you. I actually thought it was kinda funny during my playthrough. The dummy doesn’t pose any threat to you or look scary. It’s more like a naked guy just randomly appearing. There is maybe one bit in the game towards the end that I consider a jump scare. I wish there was some more of that throughout!

The game’s last act does kick it up a notch, and I was relieved. There is red lighting now and cryptic words painted on the wall. Follow him. Your character is falling deeper into darkness. There is actual blood on this part which made me happy! Yay, goriness! I like that… There still isn’t a lot to do, though, and you’re still walking around, trying doors, and looking at numbers on a wall. 

I liked the last act! I wish there was more of this in the game, and I wish it had come sooner. The tension was decent! There was real horror imagery, and the dummy actually tried to kill you. I was happy when he eventually punched me in the face. 

Do that more! Try to kill me or just go home already!

The Nightmare Inside is a short game. I completed it in around 30 minutes, but to be honest, even that felt like it dragged a little with a significant amount of time wasted not knowing what to do next.

I could tell the game took inspiration from other games, such as the PT trailer, but it just lacked originality. I was hoping the game was going to push hard on the psychological horror and really hone in on the torment of the character as a game like PT did. The game was okay, I enjoyed myself, but it was exactly how I expected it to be. The Nightmare Inside is very similar to many horror games. The game relied a little too much on creaky doors and walking around in the dark but didn’t have enough actual elements of horror to keep me invested. For such a short game, I feel like they could have put a lot more into ramping up the tension to keep the player on their toes. I never thought that I was in danger or that I needed to be fearful of anything in the game until the last couple of minutes. 

I had more fun watching my friend Erika squirm and squeal than playing it myself!

Again, it could just be me. As I said earlier, horror games don’t scare me, and I am a little judgemental because I love them so much. I just want something deeper and more thought-provoking, I guess. The Nightmare Inside is a one-time play with not much replayability. It is a decent game to try out if you’re looking for something short and spooky.

The final verdict is that my pants are still clean and fresh. If you’re a horror junkie like me, you may find it boring and uneventful. I give it a 4 out of 10 Soups

Erika, on the other hand… well, she did well and truly shit her pants. Her review was that some puzzles were frustrating but she did get scared. She gives The Nightmare Inside a solid 7 out of 10 Soups!

Shrunken kids, giant bugs, and surviving the backyard: Here's why you should try Grounded

Obsidian Entertainment has proved several times over that they are very good at what they do. You might know them as the developers of Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, The Outer Worlds, or, more recently, Grounded. Grounded is their first foray into the survival genre, and the game is currently still classified as a game preview, available on Xbox and Microsoft Windows. So far, I’m having so much fun playing this game! I’ve never felt such anticipation for a video game’s updates before as me and my friends await the next area to open up on the map. Although the exact release date is yet to be confirmed, Obsidian has announced it for 2022. I can’t give a full review of the game yet since it’s not quite finished, but here's an overview of the gameplay and a list of reasons why you absolutely need to try this game. 

If you’ve seen Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; then you already know the basic premise of Grounded. Four kids reduced to the size of an ant now have to face the backyard and all of the dangers that come with it, including a plethora of bugs that are now three times your size! On top of that, there are environmental dangers around every corner and even some unexpected enemies. It’s your job to survive, build your fortress and ultimately determine how you ended up in this situation.

Willow, Max, Hoops and Pete hiding behind the camera.

One of my favorite things about Grounded is the co-op. Two of my friends and I have been playing since it became available in July 2020, and we’ve been addicted ever since. We have a member of the party who loves building and another who is great at organizing us and getting stuff done. And then there’s me, who just loves being involved. I think we make a great team! Having friends to share in the journey can make some of the more difficult game elements feel a bit more bearable. Enemies are easier to take down, and building is faster when you have multiple people helping out. 

If you’ve ever played a survival game before, then you will already have a good idea of how Grounded works. Aside from a few quick tutorial bits at the start of the game, you’re largely thrown in blind and expected to figure it out. This isn’t a quick process. There is a lot to this game, and as you progress, new things will become available to you. It’s a constant learning curve of how best to survive each new threat using the new equipment available to you. 

Not only have you got the treacherous back garden to contend with, but you’ve also got thirst and hunger meters to keep track of. Water can be found in dewdrops hanging from blades of grass high above you. You need to find them, knock them off the grass, and, yep, you’ve guessed it, slurp it straight off the dirt floor. Delicious! Food is a bit more complicated because it's harder to find. My friends and I spent the first few months playing the game frantically searching for mushrooms since they can be picked and eaten right away. It took us far longer than I’d like to admit to realize that you can build a roasting spit and cook various small bugs, which are much more filling.

Our little lounge corner - complete with berry chair and roasting spit.

Above all else, of course, Grounded is about survival. Making the most of the game’s crafting system is absolutely crucial for surviving amongst the garden of chaos. You begin the game only able to craft very basic items. Each time you discover a new item or material, you are able to analyze it at one of the game’s many Field Stations. This then unlocks any crafting recipes related to this item. Eventually, you will build up a huge catalog of items that you can craft. Even after months of playing and leveling up, my friends and I still have so much yet to discover and craft. Every time you discover a new bug, its parts will allow you to create a brand new weapon and armor set. Each new bug will produce stronger sets. 

These combat upgrades are just one small part of the crafting system. The bulk of crafting is settlement building. Like in many good survival games, you can build yourself and your friends a little home to live in. One member of my little co-op team is big into the building elements of video games, and they have had an absolute blast building a few little homes for us. Our main house is on the edge of the pond and is kitted out with all of our crafting machines, a lounge area, a tower, and an extension solely for item storage. We’ve also built a mushroom fortress, a hobbit hole under the ground and a staircase, and a few rest stops spread across the map. The possibilities are literally endless with Grounded’s crafting system.

Our pond-side home with a tower, a zip line and a cute little bug home.

Outside of the wholesome co-op fun that makes up a lot of Grounded, the game can be very cruel when it wants to be. The map is covered in threats, and 90% of them are, much to my dismay, bugs. The worst of them are the spiders: not only are they horrifying to look at, but they make the most awful slurping sound. I have no idea who decided that spiders slurp, but I am absolutely not a fan. Obsidian must know how awful the spiders in Grounded are because they added an arachnophobia mode that turns the spiders into various blob formations, depending on how unspiderlike you would like them to be. So if you do happen to suffer from arachnophobia, you can hopefully still enjoy Grounded.

Ladybugs are friendly unless provoked, but that beetle in the background does not mess around.

Alongside the constantly looming bug threat is a multitude of environmental threats that make traversing the garden so much harder. If you’re not breaking your legs from fall damage, or drowning because you stayed under the water too long, then you’re sizzling to death in the sandpit or, even worse, suffocating in the haze. 

Grounded certainly makes you work for your survival, and I’ll be the first to admit that I completely underestimated the challenge level that this game would deliver. You’ll find that, sometimes, running into danger head-on is actually the best course of action. How else will you figure out the consequences and how to combat them? It can sometimes be a drawn-out process figuring out how to enter an area and having to find the parts needed to craft the gear you need to enter it safely. But it makes it all the more satisfying when you’re finally able to properly explore an area. And there’s a lot to explore - Grounded’s map is absolutely huge and still growing!

Just one huge corner of this colossal backyard.

As it exists currently, Grounded includes a lot of amazing stuff, and this isn’t even the full release! There are areas of the map that are yet to be filled, and there are definitely some interesting structures on the map that we don’t yet have access to. Obsidian is constantly updating the game with fixes and completely new areas for you to explore and, presumably, there are some things they’re keeping under wraps for the full release. I’ve reached out to Grounded’s official Twitter to find out if progress you make during Early Access carries over to the final release, but they haven’t been able to get back to me yet. Hopefully this will be confirmed in the lead up to the release. 

One thing that I’m hoping comes in the final version of the game is the continuation of the story missions and a deeper story for players to delve into. The game begins with a few story missions; that said, they act as a tutorial more than anything else. I’m desperate to learn more about these characters and how they came to be in this awful situation. I personally can’t wait for this game to be fully out in the world and to find an even bigger audience of people.

Elden Ring: A Literal Pain In the Ass

After over 100 maidenless hours spent on my first playthrough of Elden Ring, I’ve been given a great sense of triumph and accomplishment. To read my initial thoughts on the first 30 hours of the game, click here. Besides claiming my seat on the throne as an Elden Lord, I’ve also received something that will stick with me longer than any in-game achievement ever will, back pain. Through all the spellcasting, monster-slaying, and dog spotting, my character, Triss, easily got her 10,000 daily steps in. She explored crumbled ruins, dense forests, and scaled the tallest mountain in all of The Lands Between. On the other end of the controller sat a man in his apartment, enjoying a genre-defining adventure while contorted in rotating spots on his office chair or the cheap, uncomfortable couch he found on an online marketplace. I’m no stranger to multi-hour game sessions, but as I reach the decrepit age of 30, the damage inflicted by these long gaming shifts vividly rears its ugly head. Playing Elden Ring has become a literal pain in the ass.

As nerd culture connoisseurs, we all have our personal “Elden Ring.” An experience you enjoy can be so consuming that you neglect your body’s warning signs and basic needs to stretch and move. Between the abundance of entertainment services fighting for your attention (and your wallet!) and the increase in work-from-home positions over the last two years, I know I’m not the only one aching. This isn’t an article meant to shame you for enjoying time-consuming activities. But to remind you that finding a balance between your physical and mental health needs is key to living a happy, healthy life.

An Elden Lord’s best attempt at the Mountain Pose

So, what are we to do as indoor inclined individuals? Over the years, many new experiences have emerged to help keep gamers physically active while holding a controller in their hand. With the emergence of virtual reality consoles being more accessible than ever, games like Beat Saber, Supernatural, and Pistol Whip combine sweat-inducing action with addictive game mechanics. My favorite exercise-centric videogame, Ring Fit Adventure for the Nintendo Switch, hit all-time popularity in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For months this title couldn’t be found on store shelves. Two years later, the game is very accessible and still a blast to play on a rainy day. Ring Fit Adventure combines yoga and cardio exercises with the help of placing both Joy-Con controllers into a ring-shaped Pilates peripheral device as well as a leg strap, provided with a copy of the game. Over time, creative minds have even found a way to use a modified version of the Ring Fit Adventure controller to beat a boss in Elden Ring.

Having lived through many gloomy Seattle winters, I’m someone who counts down the days until daylight savings time when the light lingers further into the evenings. With literal brighter days ahead of us, I know that the opportunities to keep my body in motion will multiply. In the meantime, I’ve prioritized limiting my single session playtime, invested in a yoga mat, and stretching utilizing a foam roller. While I won’t be attempting any boss fights using the produce in my fridge, I’m hoping to keep my body limber so that I may comfortably enjoy my preferred hobbies for years to come! 

Companies in the entertainment sphere will always compete for your time, data, and wallet. And while I loved every second of my playthrough of Elden Ring, it has really been a wake-up call that I’m not as limber as I once was. If I want to continue being able to enjoy playing games pain-free until I’m much older, some lifestyle changes will need to be made. They don’t have to be earth-shatteringly large commitments from the start, but I know that the longer you wait, the harder it is to break a bad habit. Committing to daily exercise or small changes like including Ring Fit Adventure into my gaming routine should be seen as an investment in myself. It’s easier said than done, but I know we could all benefit from getting off the couch a bit more and staying active. 

What is your personal “Elden Ring” these days? What are some of your best practices for keeping your body flexible while enjoying your favorite hobbies? Let me know in the comments below! 

Veni Vidi Venting: There’s Too Much Good Shit in Entertainment for This Adult

I am fully aware of how petty and first-world this actual problem is, but shut up because this is my article, and also, thanks for reading it. I’m a gamer at heart, soul, and brain holder. I also love being geeky with movies and shows. And therein lies the problem.

There’s so much good shit out there it’s maddening.

So close and yet so far away…

I remember the days (oh yeah, I’m this old) when there were pretty much two good shows per week, and you had to wait seven days before you could see either of them. Now, and I’m blaming YouTube for this, there’s access to so much good content that it all comes out at once. I need to put aside 14 hours just to watch the entire season in one go, so I don’t inadvertently run into spoilers on my social media. 

For a lot of people out there, that’s fine. Do some homework, maybe get ready for tomorrow, put a load in the laundry, shower, then put on three to four hours of the show you want to watch until it’s over in a couple of days. But then there are people like me. Full-time job? Check. Dependent animals that will die if not catered to apparently every minute of the day? Check. Living alone because I haven’t found someone willing to put up with my shit daily and willingly help around the house to lighten the load through dividing and conquering? Check.

Accurate depiction of me being “sad and alone” in my house while cooking.

Self-deprecating jokes aside (but never far), I got other things I gotta do on the daily, and it’s as hard as a weeb at an anime girl convention to keep up with all the delectable content out there. 

Don’t think about that last thing too long.

I should be forced to carry this sign with me at all times.

Anyway, all I’m saying is this: “can we take a year off, please?” Like just a year of really crappy movies that we can still watch, but like, not need to put 50 hours in each because I am backed up, man. As of this writing, I still haven’t seen either Bubba Facebook or PiecePipe (I think those are names of things) because JESUS they are as long as this sentence.

And that’s just for the shows and movies where all your effort comes from sitting silently and maintaining eye contact with the screen. Video games are on a whole nother plane of existence. I haven’t beaten most of the games I started in 2016 because every game is 50 hours of beautiful story, expert acting, and gorgeous visuals. But my ADHD mind needs to look at every possibility when there are choice prompts. So I save, make a choice, go back, make the other choice(s), see what the results are, then determine which one I would rather complete the story with. I also prefer to complete as much as possible on a first playthrough, so I get the whole intended experience the devs were going after. So even a 10-hour game becomes 20 on a first playthrough. You can imagine how wonderfully painful a game like Red Dead Redemption 2 can be to someone like me. And we’re not even including any subsequent playthroughs to complete trophy sets or unlockables.

When you catch your reflection on the loading screen.

I love games and movies and shows a lot. I think that is evident. So I love that there are this many good options out there in such a short amount of time, but it’s kind of like winning free pizza for a year: you get real excited and dive in, only to get so full you worry if you’re ever going to enjoy another piece.

Am I the only one on pop-cultural burnout? Have you guys been able to see everything all the time on the first day and keep up with all your favorite shows and stuff regularly? Please validate my tribulation and say you’re not.

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