Monday, October 22, 2012

RedChocobo Is Mad!

Okay, I made the mistake this morning of reading an article by a hack that is working for Time Magazine called "How To Starve Internet Trolls" or as it is also known "The Biggest Load of Horse Shit on the Internet".  I won't link to the article because I don't want them to get more pageviews of their hackery but suffice to say that they try to make it sound like all trolls are online bullies and pedophiles that revel in personal destruction of others.  BULL SHIT with a capital SHIT.  Some people who call themselves trolls may be like that, but I would blame it more on individual communities.

I don't 4Chan, I don't Reddit.  Those places are, for lack of better words, cesspools of the Internet and I would think less of myself if I were to actively spend time there.  If you go to those places, you are in the cesspool no matter what.  To troll those places takes a special kind of psycho, especially 4Chan.  Anything goes in those places and to get a rise out of people you have to take things to the next level on purpose.  That is why so many Reddit and 4Chan trolls resort to blatant racism and pedophilia to get a rise out of people.  It's what the community requires.  To blame "trolling" for these people's disgusting actions is placing the blame in the wrong place.  You blame the community for creating an environment where such actions are not only allowed but rewarded.  They focus on a dude named Brutsch who got outed for trolling Reddit with borderline child porn and lost everything as a result, except for the only thing that mattered to him, his ego.  He got on fucking CNN for trolling.  That's an epic win for him.  They talk about how bad trolls are and how we shouldn't feed them and then give "Reddit's biggest troll" a fucking smorgasbord of troll food.  It would be like Scott Evans interviewing me in the magazine for trolling the forum, which of course Scott wouldn't do because IT WOULD DRAW ATTENTION TO ME!  FUCKING DUH!

The thing I take the most offense to is the fact that they characterize all trolls as the same kind of person as the idiot that they interviewed and say that Internet trolls revel in saying things obnoxious because nobody knows who they are and they wouldn't act the same way in public.  Again, bullshit.  The only online community that I troll happens to know exactly who I am in real life.  I've fully admitted that I "play a character" online but that I am not above acting like an idiot in public as well.  But I'm not about personal destruction.  I'm not going to follow someone around online and talk about how much of an idiot they are and call them names, that is below me.  I'll call their favorite car that they don't own a rustbucket however because attacking ideas is what trolling is all about for me.  In a short statement, all bullies are trolls but not all trolls are bullies.  Most of us just want to have fun but to try and throw all Internet trolls in with these scumbags is morally wrong.

But hey, they would know all about trolling because the article itself is trolling complete with name-calling, idiotic generalizations and complete logical fails.  It's a lame attempt to try and bully trolls into stopping but the truth is that the world at large loves trolling.  Why do you think the presidential debates get so much viewership?  It's because people love watching the candidates troll each other.  It's quite obvious that the author wants someone to blame for the death of Amanda Todd who was stalked by a online predator and people used her case to troll people on the Internet but the truth is that IS the Internet.  These communities have been created to allow people to be depraved and get away with it.  They are rewarded for their acts of disregard toward other people.  It's not anything new, people just have a much larger audience.  Reading a story on Gawker about the unmasking of "Reddit's Biggest Troll" tells a much better story that you can tell is written by someone who understands the community and the Internet in general instead of an angry person who just wants to say that trolling is the same as bullying.  In fact, trolling can be a good way to counter bullying as the girl who was nominated for Homecoming Court found out.

So you can be mad at trolls but the truth is that the trolls are just as if not more loyal to the community than the people they troll.  On MT who are the first people to respond when people come to flame?  The trolls.  Who are the first ones to post suggestions when people ask for ways to improve the community?  The trolls.  The truth is, communities need trolls just as much as they need any other type of poster.  Sure, they don't need idiots that post nearly naked pictures of teens online but really those parents and teens need to keep better control of their personal images.  There are a lot of disgusting people out there and we can't stop them completely but you could at least make it harder for yourself to become a victim.

So anyways, I guess I felt like jumping to the defense of trolling today.  I still won't be going on Reddit because I learned something about that community in my research today and that is that Reddit is full of freaks.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Republicans Want to Put the White Back into the White House

Conservatives have been hell bent on getting President Obama out of the White House, or to put it more accurately, the White People want the Black man out of the White House. Actually, like myself, he's of mixed race, so maybe they only want half of him out.

So naturally they pick the Whitest guy in politics: Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA). I thought that Romney was going to pick Sen. Mark Rubio (R-FL), because of his ties to the Hispanic community and to capture some of the "sexy vote", as I like to call it. Instead, he went with the Tea Party darling, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). White Republicans rejoiced, especially Tea Partiers. If you haven't figured out, the Tea Party is comprised primarily of White people.

A couple of weeks ago, I was doing some research on Facebook to see how many of my FB friends were supporting Romney. 75 of them are supporting him...of those, 70 of them are White (the vast majority are Mormon, like myself), and five of them are Hispanic. All of those are Republicans, and a good amount of those are Tea Partiers (I honestly don't know how many there are in total, but I do know that some of them are). I did not find a single Black or Asian person supporting him, but Romney knows that he can't win that vote. I was really surprised that some Hispanics are supporting him, but maybe they thought that since his father was born in Mexico, then that makes him Hispanic as well...or at least they think that he'll have their best interest at heart.

Is this election all about race? Will the Conservatives keep telling blatant lies to convince the "20 Percenters" (the undecided) to vote for Rmoney and Eddie Munster?

I say yes...Republicans will do and say whatever it takes to win. I've had many a discussion with them, and tried in earnest to figure out what their issue was with President Obama. Whenever he was first elected, all I would get is "well, I don't like him". Over time I then got:

"He's going to take our guns away" (he didn't)

"He's a Socialist" (he's not, Hitler was, so making comparisons to him are factually inaccurate)

"Because he was born in Kenya" (he wasn't, despite releasing both versions of his birth certificate, as well as other evidence supporting this)

It's interesting to note that John McCain (R-AZ), his opponent on the 2008 Presidential election, was born in Spain. Where was the controversy there? Oh right, he's White. If he was Hispanic, it might have taken some of the heat off of Obama. Emphasis on "might have".

Anyways, as a minority, the first thing that popped into my head was "they hate him because he's Black". Over the years and countless more discussions, nothing that Conservatives have said has swayed my view on this. I've even had some people come out and say that they didn't like him because he is Black. In an odd way, I actually respect the fact that they're honest about how they feel, even though I don't agree with their opinion. Racism will exist as long as people aren't willing to change their views concerning other races of people.

Since Obama took office, we've also seen the rise of the Tea Party to power...primarily comprised of Whites looking to remove the President from office. Rep. John Boehner said himself that their (Republicans) ultimate goal was to make the President an one-term Administration. Believe it or not, he's White as well, and of course, he has a legion of White voters supporting him.

Over time of course, people are going to be critical of the President's policies, but I can't help but to think that part of that is the underlying racism that's involved because of the President's skin colour. This opinion has been reiterated whenever people refuse to use facts to back up their opinions, which are derived primarily from watching Fox News for hours on end (also comprised of White people).

Of course, some White Republicans will never admit that they're racist, because it wouldn't be the White right thing to do. As my buddy Jared would say, "not all Republicans are racist, but all racists are Republicans".

Food for thought indeed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rats Flying

I Dare You....

Sometimes it is just ratty to butterfly a stick em up. But I say, rats to you. That's right, rats, flying down the drain at the rate of unicorns touching solar panels. For every unicorn flying rat out there, solar panels and Priora are suffering. The road may be paved in golden cobblestones made from the dreams of thousands of tiny rats flying up your nose, but that is not the point.

The point is, rats flying is the best thing since United Airlines Lost Baggage Squad. Never lost your marbles on a flight with United? Flying rats took them, ingested them, and crapped them out in a barrage of stinky marbles. Pelting the plane with foulness best described as free pugs. Unfortunately, the Lost Baggage Squad's in flight meal servers were serving your eggs at the time, They were broken. As broken as flying rats.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I saw this on a stupid rage comic site and added the last two panels myself.  Women are smarter than to only play the trap at one level.

I Drove a Chevy and Liked it

America has pretty much always sucked at making small cars.  No other cars quite embody this fact like the Pinto, Gremlin, Pacer, and Vega.  You may have a soft spot in your heart for these little buckets of failure because all you have to do to make them good is shoehorn a huge V8 in 'em.  As economy cars, though, they were all entirely worthless.  Take the Vega for instance.  Aside from the 2300cc four cylinder engine that needed rebuilt every two or three miles, Chevy decided to use a TH350 transmission and a ten bolt rear differential; both pieces found in Camaros and trucks.  Out of the 90 horsepower the engine made at the crank, it's a wonder the little scamp could move under its own power at all.  For those drivers who didn't want to "upgrade" to the automatic transmission, the Vega's base transmission was a three speed manual with the shift quality of churning butter with rocks in it.
Things have certainly changed since then, but until recently, the American marques had a hard time competing with their import rivals on the econocar front.
Enter the new Chevy Sonic.  Video game character references aside, it's styled like an angry robot.  Its gaping maw chomps on a plus-sized Chevy bow-tie, and the exposed headlamp assemblies and swooping hood give it an aggressive disposition on the road.  Its looks are polarizing for sure but they've grown on me.
Like many cars in its class, the Sonic is tall, but Chevy has managed to keep its height reasonable.  It's not as goofy looking as a Fit, but it also doesn't sacrifice interior space in the interest of design.  It's a very good balance of form and function.
The interior is really where the little Sonic shines, though.  Frankly, the Sonic has a nicer interior than Chevy's own Corvette.  Very little in the Sonic would look out of place in a VW Golf.  Even the sound of the door closing makes an almost VW-esque thwump.  The center stack is a bit shiny and hard, but everything else is soft touch, matte finish stuff.  It appears to share its steering wheel with the 2012 Camaro, which is no bad thing.  It's thick and has grips in just the right places.  Even Chevy's gold bow-tie looks high quality.   A gauge cluster, reportedly inspired by motorcycles, sits in front of the driver, and it's supremely cool.  Thankfully, an analog tachometer is the most prevalent feature on the left, gnawing Pac-Man style on a rectangular digital readout on the right. This little multifunction rectangle displays fuel level, mileage, and the like, as well as your speed with a slight skew so you feel like you're going fast.  Polka-dots above and below the rectangle display dummy lights.
Turn the switchblade style key in the ignition and the Sonic whispers to life.  None of the buzzy shakiness of other cars of its size.  The car I drove was equipped with the manual transmission, thankfully.  The throws are longish, but relatively solid feeling with positive engagement.  One ergonomic foible: the seat mounted arm rest has no adjustment, and resting your arm on it makes it so your hand is three inches above the shifter.  grab the shifter and your elbow meets the very front of the rest.  I finally put the damn thing up.
Once underway, the Sonic feels seriously solid.  Road imperfections are felt but not heard.  At slow speeds, steering effort is pinky light.  At highway speeds it seems to weight up, but there could still be a bit more feel.  A slight twitch of the wheel at speed reminded me that I was driving a compact car, as it responded instantly to my inputs.
Getting off the highway I tossed it into a turn.  It responded eagerly with very little drama.  A little bit of lean, but no tire squeal.  Accelerating out of the turn, the little 1.4 turbo growled, but never shouted, and moved the little hatch with purpose.  It needs a few extra ponies to do a certain blue computer generated hedgehog proud, but for an economy car, the Sonic scoots along nicely, especially at the bottom end of the tach.  Seems to run out of breath after about 5000 rpm.
As far as cars go, I'm not easily impressed.  But the Sonic impressed me.  If I was in the market for a new car right now, the Sonic would be near the top of the list.  It blends fun, comfort, and economy better than cars in the midsize segment costing thousands more, and it proves that Chevy is serious about delivering genuinely good cars.  If this is a sign of things to come from GM, I can't wait to see more.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hey, Imma Write Some Stuff

It's been a while since I've written something here, so I'm just gonna write something.  Let me tell you, I will be as surprised by how this post ends as you are.

First of all, girls suck.  You spend five years with a girl, and suddenly, she decides you're old hat.  But I won't bore you with that sob story.  Just know, that as much as girls say that they want commitment and a guy who does sweet things for them, they are flakier than a pastry in the continental breakfast at a nice hotel.

Is anyone else tired of hearing about the election?  I mean really?  Is Romney going to make this country do a 180?  No.  Is Obama?  No.  Why?  Because the president doesn't run the country, congress does.  And congress is made up of rich guys who frankly don't give a flying rat shit about you or your bank account.

Speaking of politics, do you really think your vote counts?  in 2000, the popular vote went to Al Gore (for some dumb reason).  But Bush was our president.  Why?  Because the Electoral College saw your votes and thought, "lol wut?" and just elected Bush because fuck you.

I can hardly read articles on cars online anymore.  In a recent review of the new Ram 1500 with the Pentastar, the author wrote, "Describing the changes to the 2013 Ram as merely a face-lift is like saying that country music is popular in Texas.  The full-size pickup truck has been significantly tweaked, even if the sheet metal looks quite similar to the outgoing model."  Really?  This is what people are getting paid to write?  I am, by no means, a world class writer, but if writing was my job, I certainly wouldn't turn in something with a misused and weak metaphor. 

Supliment:  Thank you, Google Blogger, for whiting out half of my last paragraph because I copied and pasted it from another site.  I could bad mouth said site, but I won't do that, though they have been known to publish crap.

Enough about politics and complaining, though, let's talk cars.  There seems to be three different approaches to the midsize segment.  There're those who continue to make big sedans with big V6s, others make big cars with turbocharged four cylinder engines, and the stragglers who make smaller sedans with naturally aspirated fours.  Let's talk about the stragglers.  I am a big fan of the original Acura TSX.  It was light and tossable, it loved to rev, and it was a manageable size.  It should have been the Honda Accord, but that is another discussion for another time.  While the other two approaches yield more horsepower, none of the upcoming midsizers will be able to hold a candle to the driving experience of the new Mazda6. This is a car built by a company who has specifically said that they tuned the steering for feedback and quick recentering of the wheel. If they are putting time and effort tuning the recentering of the wheel, they are building a car with a purpose. Toyota seems to continue accidentally building the Camry, just taking the same formula and putting it through the replicator over and over again. Mazda is clearly trying with the new 6. The greatest thing about it, is that Mazda is not trying to build a Mazda Camry. The last 6 was arguably the most Camry like of all the 6s. And it flopped. Sure, the last gen 6 will remain the fastest 6, but the new car will be the purest driving experience in the midsize segment. I can't wait. Every response will feel as if the car is an extension of the driver. It will dive into corners with wreckless abandon, gripping until you let off the throttle, putting it into a controlled slide. The wheel will hum with an electric energy, begging you to clip that next apex. The little Skyactiv 4 cylinder will growl with a gristly rage. The shifter will shudder on startup, just so you know it's actually connected to something mechanical. Will the new 6 break? Hell yeah. It's a Mazda. Japanese Alfa Romeo. Will it shove you back in your seat? No, it's less than 200 horse. But who cares! Mazda built it all by themselves! They didn't ask Subaru to build a car for them.

Sorry about your rage. No actually I don't care. I hope you're raging. Hate.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It Has Been A Long Time Coming....

Trolling Is Not Dead, It Is Disguised

For those of you don't know, I am westys otherwise known as the Troll Force. Subtlety rules my way of life on Forums large and small. Many of my posts are simple in nature but most of them are pure troll posts or a way to troll more.

How is this possible? Many of the threads I do seem innocuous, I admit. Even to the other trolls who do not troll anymore seem to be oblivious of my trolling anymore. That is ok. I am the Force. My ways are not meant to be understood. Look on in awe or look on in confusion, both ways gratify me.

Recently, I played the part of Sok-Eye to perfection. Sok-Eye was my sock puppet on the MT Forum. Named for a sockeye salmon, a fish you have to troll for to catch it. The name gave away the intent yet no one caught on unless let in on the joke. In order to pull off such a brilliant sock puppet troll, I made 'her' a single mom of two daughters. 'They' supported my own personal beliefs that the FRS and Mustang were girls' cars as each one of those 'girls' loved one or both of these cars. I also dropped hints at my own personal likes and dislikes yet no one was the wiser. It was the ultimate troll pulled off by the Force. KNEEL BEFORE THE MASTER!!!

I said earlier in the post that I continue to troll. This is true. I will not divulge the posts on which I troll or how I do it. I assume that some of you out there have a brain and can use it to figure it out rather than using it to keep your skull from caving in. In any case, I continue to have fun regardless of the 'new and improved' methods for sniffing out threadbombs. Others will be blamed for my instigations and will cry foul all the while, I will sit back an enjoy. It has happened before, it will happen again. I have the patience to wait for it.

Do you?

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Super-Majority of Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck

It used to be that living "paycheck to paycheck" where one saves not a single dollar was a sign of fiscal mismanagement or not having enough income.  But unfortunately a report from the American Payroll Association says that 68% of Americans are living without any savings.  This little fact nearly slipped by me completely yesterday as the evening news mentioned it very briefly after briefly reporting that median incomes continue to slip in the US.  Of course these two facts are related and yet nobody really wants to talk about it.  What upset me about it further was that the anchor tried to skirt past the fact by saying that the reason Americans are living paycheck to paycheck is because "luxuries" like Internet and mobile phones are considered necessities.  Oh yes, I'm sure the $100 I spend on those things would really help me balance my budget.

We need to accept the fact that prices are going up while paychecks are going down and that the result is that people are struggling more and more with their financial situation.  I personally struggle with money quite a lot.  To the point where I just try to not even think about it because if I do I just despair to the point of depression.  I don't have a bad paying job either.  But when I look at it, I see everything but my paycheck going up and I see people not giving a single flark about it.  In fact there's a good portion of the population that wants to see my paycheck go down, but that's another story for another day.

America is headed for a very dangerous place.  One of the reasons the US was a "Land of Oppertunity" was because a man could, with hard work, make quite a lot of money without much schooling.  There wasn't really any school to go to for one to build a building, lay a road or manufacture widgets.  However a person could make good money in the past doing those very activities.  As the US continues to be content in giving up its manufacturing, allowing its infrastructure to rot and the demand for new contruction goes out the door, the demand for "unskilled" labor shrinks exponentially.  By some estimates we will have an 89,000,000 worker surplus in unskilled labor within the next 5 years.  Brings some perspective to why some can't find work, eh?  But if you're a financial vulture capitalist or lawyer things are fucking super!  Sorry RoTi.

But still, even after endless tax breaks and taxes being the lowest they've been in decades, we still must lower taxes further and hope that the magical "job creators" make more jobs for us to become wages slaves in.  However, those job creators are not creating jobs, they're hording cash to protect themselves when the markets flop again because they won't hire.  You know, there gets to be a point where we look and see business defending themselves and not giving a single fuck about the common man and we have to say "maybe it's time for business to feel some pain".  Maybe we should only start caring about ourselves.  We should say "raise taxes on corporations and lower them on individuals".  A nice 99.99% corporate tax seems good at this point to me.  Or maybe we should tax individuals the same way we tax businesses.  I would like it very much if I only had to pay taxes on my "profits" instead of my "revenues".  I don't think I'd ever pay taxes again.

What it comes down to is that the extremely wealthy have such a buffer now that they don't even notice when recessions happen anymore.  They just use them as excuses to get their tax burdens lowered again and again by calling themselves "job creators".  Bullshit.  Stuffing cash into your bank accounts doesn't create a single job.  Higher profits for you doesn't create a single job.  Why?  Because you purposely don't "create jobs" to get higher profits.  People cost you money, throwing money into derivatives doesn't.  And there by jove is the problem.  As long as you have enough money you can make your money make money without a single person to do any work for you.  Who cares if your country's manufacturing is falling through the floor because China will just build everything you need for you and you can continue to make money off of nothing.

Perhaps this is why Candidate Rmoney wanted the American auto companies to go under?  Maybe he has some interest in Chinese cars.  In fact we would hardly know the difference as they added Dodge Charger copies to our market that looked exactly right but had 4 cylinder engines.  Oh wait, Fiat is already going to do that.  Problem?  I hope so.  But that topic is actually a bit of a digression.  Oh well.

The point I'm getting to is the system that Romney is getting to has already proven that it does not work.  Trickle down does not work.  If it did, the already ridiculously low tax rates would have "fixed" the economy a long time ago.  I'm tired of the dangling carrot as mega-corporations pay single digit tax rates and continue to tell us if we just lower taxes a bit further than they'll "create jobs".  The only jobs I see are blow jobs for big business.  Time for a new system.

And yes, I want your money.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stories From My Brain

Right before I woke up this morning 5 minutes before the alarm like I always do I had the weirdest dream that was very easy to remember.  It was about a story that I'm fairly sure I've never seen anywhere or thought about before and I thought it was so cool that I need to write it down.

The setting was some sort of zombie apocalypse type situation although my brain never really decided how all of that happened and my character (I say character because I was not myself) had been specially conscripted into a unit of "marines" that was assigned to defend a hospital facility.  Although we knew we had to defend the facility we didn't know why this particular facility was so special.  Before getting our weapons to go on a patrol we had to pass through a scanner device.

On our patrol making sure that "zombies" didn't come too close to the facility I keep having flashbacks and seeing this white form with multiple nuclei that I never remember having seen before.  We encounter nothing however.  Everywhere we go the sky is a dark red and it always appears to be near dusk.  There is a very large freeway next to the facility but all of the vehicles are like monster trucks.  My brain explains that one later.

After returning from our patrol I go outside with a group of civilians to a small "safe zone" that overlooks the freeway and I see that the vehicles are all shaped like monster trucks because they have to drive at high speeds over the top of the zombies because if they were lower than the zombies could swarm the vehicles to stop them.  This is the first time I see the "zombies" which are just human looking with dark red skin, animal like nature and incredible strength.  One of the vehicles crashes on the freeway but nobody bothers to stop to help.  The driver runs toward the facility but a zombie catches him and rips his head off.  "Cool!" a kid yells.  I laugh thinking about that now.

However, the man moving toward the facility encourages a zombie group to head toward the facility.  Although we cannot be touched in the safe zone, we also can't leave it and since I am unarmed I encourage the people to stay put while I radio for help.  It isn't a big deal usually because nobody can enter the facility without a keycard.  Most of the zombies get tired of trying to figure out how to get us and leave except for two surprisingly sentient ones that move toward the facility.  Seeing them brings on more flashbacks about the white blob.  Hearing "why is he letting them in" brings me back to reality as I see one of the doctors allowing the sentient zombies into the facility.  The first one goes in but the second one raises his hand and the doctor turns to goo.  The route now clear and me being needed to stop this new threat we move back into the facility.

Passing through the scanner to get our weapons an alarm goes off as I pass through stating "Black Magic detected".  The security guards raise their weapons on me.  I think "when did I contract Black Magic" but the machine indicates that the Black Magic was contracted 17 years ago rather than just now and that the origin is the Alabama containment zone, Alabama being the home state of my character.  Another flashback shows a facility, a man's picture is shown with "sedative drip at all times" next to it.  The white blob is on his head, externally.  "Black Magic" is the name for the substance that normally changes people into the "zombies" and is an alien organism.  The Black Magic are parasites that take over their hosts and use the hosts to destroy the ecosystem of a planet so they may colonize it.  While normal Black Magic is dark red, the white blob is revealed to be a form of Black Magic that has given the man powers beyond the normal super strength but has made him extremely unstable.  Doctors walk in and put some needle into the blob and it releases from the man.  He instantly dies as Black Magic cannot be removed from the host without killing them.  "We can control it" they say and the flashback ends.

I remember back to my troubled childhood, the rumors that a child had destroyed an entire room of people but the government covered it up.  How when I got angry at people they contracted illnesses.  The unique circumstances that had me stationed at the facility.  Men in suits walk up and tell the men to stand down, that I was necessary and that they needed me removed before bad things happened.  I realize now that the special form of Black Magic that I saw in the flashbacks was inside me somehow and had gone undetected for 17 years but was now active.  However I was still in complete control of myself despite the Black Magic being active.

Realizing that the sentient zombies were likely there because of me, I said that I was needed here.  One of the suits comes forward and attempts to grab me but I send him flying with a wave of my wrist.  The security guards fire their weapons but the bullets simply bounce off of me and I send them flying as well.  The remaining suit says into his radio "Project X is active, send support" before I raise my hand to him and electrify him enough to knock him out.  The rest of my marine unit looks at me and asks "You still with us bro".  I pause a moment before I say "Yeah, let's kick some ass."

That was pretty much the end of it except for an extra piece right at the end where a guy grabs me and says "Who made you" before I basically kill the heck out of him and face down a number of other people like me.

I thought it was a cool idea and I have no idea where it came from but, it's cool.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Game Review: Bad Piggies

Rovio is a very interesting company.  They are known for essentially a single game: Angry Birds.  And that game is fantastic.  I am a huge Angry Birds fan owning ad-free versions of every Angry Birds game, a special T-Mobile version of original birds with Mighty Eagle for Android and having three stars on almost every single stage in every version.  Additionally I own about a dozen different Angry Birds shirts and about 10 bird plush toys.  I love birds.  However, Rovio's last new game was a departure from Birds called Amazing Alex.  Frankly, it wasn't good.  There was no characters and it was essentially just a "set up and drop" game with no real action.  The result is that you had to make frustratingly small changes with a fairly lame control interface.  It felt like Cut the Rope or Where's my Water without any of the cute characters.

So when I found out that Rovio was planning a new release about the pigs I was prepared to be dissappointed.  I loved the birds, not the pigs.  However, I gave Rovio a second chance and downloaded Bad Piggies last Thursday.  I didn't play it until the afternoon and had a busy night but found myself more absorbed in it when I had the chance.  Circumstances on Friday gave me plenty of time to play with the pigs and play I did.  Bad Piggies is fantastic and shows that Rovio does have the potential to not only make fantastic games, but make fantastic games that follow a completely different formula than birds.

For those that haven't played it, what's wrong with you!?  The game follows the pigs trying to make up for their stupid mistakes by building vehicles to move from the starting point to the "goal line" (for one star) while fulfilling special conditions like a time limit, not using specific parts, gathering star boxes or not smashing the vehicle to earn the remaining stars.  Some stages even ask you to escort the massive King Pig in your vehicle which adds a lot of challenge.  The first set of stages focuses on ground movement using engines to power fans or wheels or even using shook pop bottles as rockets.  My favorite stages were the ones where you were given an engine with drive wheels and asked to navigate a stage.  I quickly learned that just building a frame with a massive engine and throwing the wheel on the back resulted in an upside-down vehicle or a cracked frame.  Some stages relied on momentum conservation while others relied on careful control of brute power.  The best part is that proper vehicle construction is only half of the game, actually piloting that vehicle is just as important which makes Bad Piggies effectively an action game.

Just as I was completely geeking out about building vehicles and driving them, I got into the second set of stages which adds flight.  I came.  While they ease you into flight by using balloons and fans which makes for some slower action with careful anticipation the helicopter blades come next.  What was a slow and careful manuvering of a balloon lifted vehicle turns into a frantic mashing of the power controls to keep your vehicle from crashing into ceilings and walls.  Eventually I got used to controlling the fast moving vehicles, but the first few flights resulted in some hilarious results.

Where Rovio has always shined is in their sounds and characters.  The sounds of destruction and the reactions of the pig pilot make me laugh even while I am failing.  Miss your jump and start flying toward a wall?  Watch the pig get worried and make a gasp of tense anticipation.  Fly off a sweet jump?  Listen to the pig shout with a mighty "Yee haw!"  Mr. Pig is a very conservative driver as he gets a very worried look on his face when you get a little speed in the tires.  Smash your vehicle and watch as Batman-like "crash" and "bang" pop out on screen with hilariously cartoon like sounds.  However, nothing is more satisfying than completing the stage even as your carefully developed vehicle smashes into pieces.  Basically the area where Amazing Alex completely failed is the area that Bad Piggies hits completely out of the ballpark.  I've played every stage and I am already begging for more.

I do have some gripes about Bad Piggies however.  One is the "Sandbox" stages.  Seperate from the main stages are stages that the game calls "The Sandbox".  The Sandbox contains four stages that are very large and contain 20 star boxes that have to be collected.  At first these stages are basically impossible but as you complete other stages, you add parts to the Sandbox until you have enough to build a very complex vehicle.  Once you have those complex parts like the large engine and large propeller the Sandbox stage becomes very easy.  In the end I found myself running around in a craft not unlike a Chinook helicopter just collecting all of the boxes.  It was EASY.  But then I built a plane with a huge amount of rockets on it and WHEE!  However the Sandbox shows that with enough parts any challenge is not a challenge anymore and leaves me wishing there was a real "sandbox" stage with relatively simple terrain that I could use to do crazy stuff.  The only other gripe I have is that Piggies is very processor intensive and therefore eats battery.  I can only play it for about an hour before my phone is back on the charger and most other games, even the notoriously battery hungry Kairosoft games, last 2-3 times longer.

So Bad Piggies was the game that Rovio really needed to do.  It proved that they can do more than just Angry Birds updates.  As of this morning, Android Market is showing 500,000+ downloads on Bad Piggies which is in 5 days half of all the downloads Amazing Alex has in 3 months.  Kudos Rovio, I believe in you again.