Game Review: Hatoful Boyfriend

Type of game: Visual novel
Developed by: (original) Moa Hato (remake) Mediatonic
Published by: (remake) Devolver Digital
Year: (original) 2011 (remake) 2014
Played on: Steam

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And no, I don’t mean Christmas, I’m talking about the Steam Summer Sale – which admittedly does have things in common with December 25th *insert fat man Santa / Gabe Newell joke here.* During this week or so of heavily discounted PC games our spending here at AddAltMode tend to fall in to 2 categories: the ‘big’ games we really wanted but were waiting to obtain at a bargain price, and usually at least one or two really odd games purchased either out of curiosity or just for the giggles because they were so cheap. This is why our (non-Borderlands) gaming has become particularly random and uh, farmyard themed (?) in recent weeks: with AddAltMode B playing Goat Simulator and me settling down with this um pigeon-dating simulator….

Hatoful Boyfriend menu screen

Hatoful Boyfriend menu screen

Yes, Hatoful Boyfriend is a pigeon-dating simulator. Don’t judge me. In it, you play as the only human attending St.Pigeonations, a prestigious Japanese high-school run and attended by sentient birds. Ostensibly the goal is to progress through the typical milestones of the school calendar: classes, holidays, sports days and festivals, while getting to know “everybirdie” (the game uses this and similar terms throughout) and to find that special “somebirdie” to pursue more intimately. I enjoy interactive fiction a lot. I’d never dated a pigeon before, or indeed considered dating one but I was intrigued by two things: firstly just how off the wall the premise was, and secondly just how many extremely positive reviews this title seemed to have garnered. Could a game about romancing pigeons really be so engaging, or does the world just contain far more pigeon fanciers (and not in the racing sense) than I’d realised? The sale price of £1.74 seemed a reasonable sum to pay to find out more…

I thought it might make me laugh for an hour or two. How wrong can you be?

cheevos

No, I haven’t suddenly become a pigeon pervert but I did get suckered in, hook line and sinker. Because it turns out Hatoful Boyfriend is a much more intense, dark and engaging experience than I’d anticipated. There’s much, much more to this game than meets the eye…

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Female Transformers: News Round-up

So, a while back I posted a fairly passionate rant/ramble about female Transformers and being a female Transformers fan. It seems to have struck a chord for a lot of people as it got shared quite widely on Twitter, and continues to be one of our most viewed posts here. So it’s really nice to be able to follow up now by looking at all the femmebot-related news that has emerged since I wrote that earlier post because, happily, there’s quite a lot of it…

“TF ladies? Tell us more…”
Generations Arcee, Custom Slipstream, TF Prime Arcee

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The Polar Opposite of a Weapon: Part 2, Cerrian/Starstream Beam-Gun

Hi blogosphere!

Brief post today: I just realised that in my post describing my model Cerrian/Starstream Beam-Gun (the healing ray-guns wielded by Autobot medics from Transformer Universe) I didn’t put any photos of the completed and painted model, so I thought I’d better correct that glaring omission.

It still looks really heavy.

The grumpy old Medic should look more pleased: he could just shoot this through the Ground-bridge, and wouldn’t even have to leave the base.

This post is pretty much all pictures – so skip it if you’re not into that.

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Pandora’s (dress up) Box: Borderlands Cosplay project is go!

So, Project Slipstream is over. Time, methinks, for a new cosplay adventure. Having done two, largely foam-based, Transformers costumes in a row now, I’m keen to do something quite different: something less foam based and more easily packable (which probably means cosplaying a human character), and someone who would fit nicely in a paired cosplay with AddAltModeB. Hmm, human – or “humanish” – part of a group or shared world with other cosplayable characters. That doesn’t limit my options much, or indeed at all. But the golden rule of cosplay or should be: follow your passions. I chose to dress up as Arcee and Slipstream because I love Transformers and those characters in particular. What else have I been heavily into lately? Let’s assess the evidence…

CaptureAll paths lead to Pandora. Yes, 2015 is the year B and I have been obsessively playing the Borderlands franchise. We already finished Borderlands and its DLCs and recently completed our first run-through of Borderlands 2, which I think just might be my favourite game ever. I love the space-dieselpunk aesthetic, the dark humour, and the great multiplayer experience, which is ideal for us to play through together. The recent Steam Sale helped me seal the deal by buying all the remaining BL2 DLCs as well as The Pre-Sequel, Telltale Games’ Tales From The Borderlands and um, Poker Night 2 (which features CL4P-TP; although that wasn’t the only reason I bought it). So yeah, when I’m into something I tend to go big or forget it, so Borderlands cosplay was probably only a matter of time…

And that time has come! You may have see B’s recent post where he talked about why and how he plans to cosplay the Gunzerker, Salvador. I’ll be assisting in that endeavour too, and as you may also have spotted from a close reading of B’s post, I’ll be working on giving Salvador some insanely smart company in the form of…

Screenshot from Tannis' intro in Claptrap's Robot Revolution

Screenshot from Tannis’ intro in Claptrap’s Robot Revolution

Now for the inevitable thought dump about the why and how of Project Tannis…

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Book Review: The Rest of the Robots by Isaac Asimov

Robo Reads

Title: I, Robot
Author: Isaac Asimov
First Published: 1967

Just as its title suggests, this is another collection of (mostly) “Three Laws” robot stories from the creator of that seminal concept.  The most famous collection of Asimov’s robot stories is, of course, I, Robot (which I review here), so you’d be forgiven for thinking of this anthology as very much the Mechanical Men B-Team. There’s some truth to that. The first tale here, “Robot AL-76 Goes Astray” is an early work and does feel less polished than later tales, while another inclusion, “First Law,” is so brief that it’s really more of a sketch than a fully-formed short. But The Rest of The Robots is still well worth a look, not merely because it features a few tales that could sit happily alongside the finest I, Robot has to offer, but also for the way in which this collection provides fascinating background information about Asimov’s inspiration for writing and how the Three Laws notion evolved, as well as some insight into the author’s feelings on how his robots have been received.

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¡BIENVENIDOS A LA FIESTA, AMIGOS!

Salvador the Gunzerker, from Borderlands 2

Salvador the Gunzerker, from Borderlands 2

This is Salvador, a playable character in Borderlands 2, which is a mix of first-person shooter and RPG, the storyline of which is laced with a heavy dose of black comedy.

Unlike the other Vault Hunters, who came to the planet Pandora in search of riches, adventure or sanctuary from the law, Salvador is a local: born and bred in the lawless “borderlands” planets between the corporate-owned areas of the Six Galaxies. It’s evident to an attentive player that Salvador hasn’t gotten on well with the Hyperion Corporation during their recent efforts to take-over and “civilize” the planet: wanted posters for Salvador appear in many Hyperion-associated locations, alleging him to be guilty of to have done Manslaughter, Theft, Arson, Destruction of Property, Trespassing, Cannibalism, Public Indecency and Profanity.

Salvador is not necessarily my favourite character to play as in Borderlands 2, that honour goes to the Siren, Maya, a psychic warrior who can isolate an individual enemy in a hovering sphere of force, which allows all sorts of shenanigans and trickery. However, Salvador is by far the funniest character in the franchise. Furthermore, he’s a short, stocky chap with a beer gut and a scruffy beard. I can totally look like that. I already do.

AddAltModeR wanted to do a paired cosplay, and we just don’t have room to store any more foam-armoured Transformers outfits. She’s been itching to do her favourite Borderlands NPC Dr Patricia Tannis. So, Salvador was the only logical choice for me. Continue reading

Toy Customisation: Beast Hunters Starscream to TFA-ish Slipstream

Hey there, it’s AddAltModeB here, and I’ve been at the workbench for a bit to make something a little bit special for our display cabinet of toy robots: something specifically for AddAltModeR, who I should remind you has been known to dress like this:

Photo credit: Damian Pudner

Photo credit: Damian Pudner

Now, regular readers will know that we at AddAltMode are very fond of Slipstream: AddAltModeR has been building a cosplay of the character for some time, and I felt that Slipstream’s absence from our toy-shelf was a glaring omission, made only slightly more excusable by her extreme rarity (the only released of this character is a collector’s club exclusive.).

I’d had my mind on this project for a while before starting it, but I decided I had to finish it completely in time for AddAltModeR’s birthday (today). The plan was to create a custom Slipstream toy out of a Starscream mold – preferably one that’s not already in AddAltModeR’s collection of Starscreams. I had a mold in mind, and I knew that the mold I was thinking of had already been used for this purpose by some fellow Shapeways users – who had done a great big chunk of the work for me already…

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Film Review: Jurassic World

Year: 2015
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard

So here we go then, one of the swathe of massive movie resurrection pictures hitting our screens in the next few years. And in before The Force Awakens, in before Ghostbusters III, we have this – the very definition of a franchise “de-extinction.” Which is interesting, of course, because the Jurassic Park films have always questioned if science should do things just because it can, and whether some fossils really ought to be left in the ground.

Trevorrow’s Jurassic World is a ‘soft’ reboot of the franchise: its world-building remains playfully respectful of Spielberg’s influential 1993 original and largely ignores the two underwhelming sequels. The film also chooses to anticipate and grapple head-on with the questions of how a 90s cinema classic will fare in the post-3D, post-Imax, CGI for breakfast cinemascape of 2015. “Twenty years ago, de-extinction was up there with magic” notes Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the steely operations manager of  Isla Nublar now a well-established theme resort which has managed to recover, expand and prosper since the unfortunate dino-rampage incidents of the original movie. But since then, the magic has mutated into the mundane, Claire continues: “now kids look at a stegosaurus like it’s an elephant at the zoo.” Plotwise, this is the rationale for the creation of Indominus Rex, a T-Rex spliced with DNA from various other creatures (Frankenstein’s shopping list is gradually revealed throughout the action as more of I-Rex’s capabilities come to light) who has been designed to be bigger, cooler, have “more teeth” and to wow the jaded smartphone generation.  Clearly, this also raises a flag of cinematic intention for Jurassic World.

The Dino-whisperer. Screenshot from Jurassic World official trailer #2

The Dino-whisperer. Screenshot from Jurassic World official trailer #2

The creation of such a beast as I-Rex is problematic on so many levels, not mention the fact that it’s just downright, dumb, reckless idea. But as a new powered up dino rampage ensues (come on guys, that’s hardly a spoiler, what else did you expect to happen, this is a Jurassic Park film after all) viewers get to enough enjoyably tense action sequences to make us glad of that stupidity. My reaction to the ‘birth’ of I-Rex encapsulates my feelings on the film as a whole fairly neatly: there are some troubling issues, and it’s not something we really needed, but since it’s here I’m happy enough to enjoy the ride. And there is plenty to enjoy here although the plot’s own lesson that bigger isn’t always better is one that remains perhaps more pertinent than the producers would have hoped.

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Here Be Dragons! TrollArt Fantasy Design

OK, who likes dragons? Everyone likes dragons don’t they? Except fantasy medieval peasants in thatched roofed cottages, they probably don’t and with good reason. But for the rest of us, dragons are awesome. Just like a certain Daenerys Targaryen, I have three dragons in my life, although the way I acquired mine was a little less extreme than how she hatched hers. My dragons come from an amazing German Fantasy merchandise company called TrollArt Fantasy Design. They sell a range of stuff, from troll and elf figures to steampunk accessories, but the main attraction has to be their lovely plush dragons, which are available in a range of colours, textures and sizes. Here are mine:

Plush dragons from TrollArt

Plush dragons from TrollArt

They are bean filled, so are quite huggable but their wings are softly wired so they can also be displayed in a pleasingly diverse number of ways: draped over anything from necks and shoulders – fantasy scarf style – to banisters. I keep mine on a clothes rail we’ve fitted in the alcove in our living room and they always seem to be a talking point when we have visitors.

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TFA Slipstream Cosplay final work in progress update: wings, jetpack and putting it all together!

Better late than never? OK, so my Transformers Animated Slipstream costume has been finished for a while now (since early May), and if you’re an AddAltMode regular you’ll probably already have seen photos of the finished ensemble, which I wore for Free Comic Book Day and for Plymouth’s DevCon. But as a Cosblogger as well as a cosplayer, I do want to finish the work in progress story.

So this is the final chapter, which will look at the process of making the wings and jetpack, as well as painting and putting it all together. Big thanks to those of you’ve shared the ups and downs of this costume build journey with me. Honestly, your support and encouragement has meant a lot.

A sofa full of Slipstream!

A sofa full of Slipstream (l-r top): under top and arms (with attached hood), leggings and hotpants. (l-r, lower): greaves, blasters, helmet, gloves, wings (jetpack attached here), gauntlet, shoulders, gauntlet, make up (silver facepaint & purple lipstick), chest piece, toe-guards, boots, corset.

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