Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Book Report: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

 

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Douglas Adams' trailblazing, free-wheeling, eminently quotable novel is a fun, exuberant experience that ends way too quickly. The sense of playfulness, the sharpness of the wit and satire on display, and the endless trove of imagination no doubt inspired the likes of "Futurama" and "Rick & Morty."

Sci-fi absurdity elevated beyond its extreme is the order of the day, and Adams hits his stride in the opening, never looking back and only reaching farther and getting stranger as he goes.

While his characters leave little to connect to, and his plotting is a snake eating its own tail, then puking it up and swallowing it once again, all the perceived shortcomings are mitigated by the wild, untamed nature of the storytelling. At times the story plays as though concocted by Mad Lib. There is always a sense of Adams making it seem like he's getting away with something that he shouldn't bem and you're along for the ride.

He gives you many fish for which to be thankful, and proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the answer is indeed 42.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

BOOK REPORT: "The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir"

 

The Room Where It Happened: A White House MemoirThe Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John R. Bolton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a juicy, old-fashioned revenge-fueled tell-all that provides an unsettling -- if unsuprising -- peek inside the inner workings of the Trump presidency.

Bolton, a diehard GOP foot soldier who was brought into the Trump fold in order to provide experience and perspective in matters of global affairs, found himself hoofing it on a treadmill to nowhere. His exasperation is amusing, and bravery commendable.

The author's insights into Trump's scattershot approach to domestic and international crises are sharp and poignant. What emerges is a picture of a man in over his head. There was little effort to portray Trump as a sympathetic figure, but -- as Bolton sees it -- it's easy to feel some sympathy for a man unequipped to deal with the role in which he was thrust.

While there are few bombshells or juicy revelations in "The Room Where it Happened," what emerges is a steady, enthralling instant history that reads like a novel. It's a page Bolton seems relieved to have turned.

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Friday, March 19, 2021

"Explosionade DX" Review


Suiting up inside giant, overpowered mech in "Explosionade DX," you unleash destruction upon your hapless foes. The action title grants you an exuberant feeling of vigorous angst as a renegade Lieutenant who finds himself as the realm's last defense against assaulting forces.

A revamped version of the Xbox Live Indie Games release, the new version feels and plays like a modern game rather than an Xbox 360-era relic.

Inspired by the likes of "Cybernator" and "Metal Warriors," the game is a whiz-bang energy.

The Mommy's Best Games dev team packs the 60 levels with increasingly frenetic thrills. To survive, you must juggle an array of attacks, defenses and evasive maneuvers. Revamped graphics, leaderboards and new enemies amp up the package.

The two-player, local co-op mode expands the fun considerably, allowing you and a pal to team up in your torrent of destruction.

Bubbling with the exuberant passion of a project dreamed up in a garage, "Explosionade DX" bubbles with the excitement of an independent game while sparkling with the polish granted by a heftier budget and technological advances. Time has been kind to the buried gem of the past.

When life gives you explosions, make "Explosionade."

Publisher provided review code.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

"Taxi Chaos" Review


A takeoff on the 1999 arcade classic "Crazy Taxi," "Taxi Chaos" sets you loose among a chaotic New York cityscape, tasking you to spirit passengers from one places to the next.

Your ride is equipped with nitro boosts and jump capability, making each fare a real-time strategy puzzle to navigate traffic, exploit shortcuts and shave seconds off your time to up your score.

The Lion Castle dev team figuratively floors it on the pick-up-and-play aspect of the concept, but stalls in neutral when it comes to the replayability side of the equation. There are nominal upgrades and advancements on deck, but most of it is just window dressing, with no tangible reason to surge ahead other than the exuberance of the gameplay, which wears thin after a bit.

A mission-based mode in the vein of "Stuntman," or a sizable multiplayer dimension would have done wonders to the base game, which -- as it stands -- is barely more than a casual touch-screen tapper.

"Taxi Chaos" is a lighthearted diversion that works as a palate cleanser between more serious enterprises. It's fun to take for a spin, though it falters over the long haul.

Publisher provided review code.


Monday, January 18, 2021

"Space Invaders Forever" Review


Ever since it started rocking arcades in 1978, "Space Invaders" has been a video game staple, steadfastly refusing to evolve as other trends came and went. Its simplistic charm -- oft-copied but rarely surpassed -- has been incalculably influential.

Staying relevant has been another, tougher story.

"Space Invaders Forever" is the latest attempt to inject some new life into the old bones, rounding up three games in an effort to revitalize the ancient concept. 

The results are largely satisfying, particularly on the form of the main event, "Space Invaders Extreme," which follows the lead of "Pac-Man Championship Edition" to add new layers of strategy and playfulness to the 16-level mix, complete with boss fights and hidden surprises. By far the most entertaining and replayable of the three included modes, the fevered blast-and-dodge routine rarely goes stale.

The dev team at Taito Corporation had middling success with its other components: "Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders: and "Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE." The quick-hit, party game-style feel works best in quick hits.

The overall lack of online multiplayer is an unfortunate, if understandable omission. "Space Invaders" is decidedly old school, and that sentiment continues in its latest release. "Forever" is a mixed bag that delivers the highs and lows of the concept, content to rest in orbit rather than shoot for the stars.

Publisher provided review code.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Review: OnePlus 8T+5G


 As the world continues the shift to 5G, T-Mobile is intent on leading the charge with its array of devices geared to take advantage of the network.

An upgrade over the OnePlus 8, the premium OnePlus 8T+5G vies to stand alongside the likes of Samsung's flagship phones. Armed with a 120 Hz display, four rear cameras and heavy-duty battery life, the phone manages to match specs with the best of the bunch.

The real star, of course, is the network. While 5G connectivity fades outside of heavily urbanized and trafficked areas -- I couldn't get service at all during a weekend trip to Silver City, NM -- the coverage performs so well at full service that it feels like a hefty downgrade to shift to WiFi. If this is the phone you get, unlimited data is a must.

The OnePlus 8T+5G's slim form factor and vivid display makes it a joy to watch HD video or play high-performance games while on the go. It's a solid option for those looking to take advantage of PlayStation and Xbox game streaming. That's where the advantages of the network truly come into play, reducing lag and latency that too often plagues services such as PlayStation Now, Google Stadia and remote play.

The 65-watt charger -- equipped with an unwieldy white box of an adapter, pumps the phone with juice in minutes. The charger is so efficient that I find myself lining my other devices for it every morning. Using the heavy hitter makes it tough to go back to whatever dinky USB-C adapter you were using before.

The lack of induction charging is a head-scratching absence, and some awkward button placement makes it difficult to affix to tripods. The minimal downsides are far eclipsed by everything going for the device. While the move from 5G to 4G may not be as dramatic as the jump from 3G to 4G, the subtleties of the advances combine to make you so comfortable that it's tough to look back.

Review unit provided by T-Mobile.