Cute Demon Crashers Set to Return with Cute, Comfy and Consensual Queer Content

Cute Demon Crashers start menu

Screencap of Cute Demon Crashers’s main menu (once you’ve completed all the routes… which I did, because I love)

I don’t normally seek out erotic visual novels, but if I did, I doubt I’d leap to describe them as “delightful”. But Sugarscript’s Cute Demon Crashers proved the exception in both of these, by not only getting me to play a sexy dating sim but leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling that (you’d think) would be uncharacteristic of the genre. If you look at the creators’ mission statement, though, you’ll realize that was the point:

In our team, we felt there was a need of consent and safe spaces in 18+ VNs for women, and NaNoRenO 2015 was the perfect excuse to make a game to fit those needs!

Consent and comfort is a massive, integral part of Cute Demon Crashers. College student Claire (who the player can rename) accidentally summons three incubi and one succubus who sense that she’s lonely, and over the course of the game she can bond with them and learn about them, and, if she wants to, pick one to have sex with that night. Whichever adorable sexy demon she picks, the ensuing sex scene is sweet, gentle, sometimes funny, and each demon is lovely in their own unique way. Because consent is an integral part of the development team’s mission, it’s an integral part of the gameplay: plenty of options pop up throughout the scene, with Claire’s lovers asking her if she wants to do this, or that, or stop. And indeed, a big stop button is available in the corner of the screen at all times. If you hit the button or want to back down, the demons never make Claire feel bad about it, and they do everything they can to make sure she’s physically and emotionally comfortable throughout the whole process.

There are no bad ends in this visual novel. It’s entirely about having a good time and exploring sexuality in a fun, safe, and comfortable way, with the magical love demon aspect managing to be adorable rather than skeevy like it could be. The whole game was a delightful and fun experience, which is why I’m super excited that Sugarscript has announced that they’re working on a “Side B” sequel/spinoff for the game.

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I Want More Terrible Female Characters

Double standards are everywhere in geek cultures. Most of them are easy to spot in such things as clothing and armor options for genders. Such standards extend into character archetypes as well. A very well known trope that is often reserved specifically for women is the Damsel in Distress trope. We’re all familiar with this, but one character archetype that seems to skip women is the Jerk With A Heart of Gold.

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The Last of These The Last of Us posts. Probably.

tlou-joel-sarah-ellie-threatenedSo this is my third post about The Last of Us. You see, much as the fungus which affects the game’s whole setting and drives the plot forward, the game has infected my brain. I now spend a lot of time thinking about it when I am not cannibalizing other humans or rolling around Pittsburgh in a Humvee. If you didn’t get that second one, it’s probably a good time to mention that there are spoilers in this post. Though, honestly, if you are a PS3 gamer and you haven’t played this, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life.

Before I get to the golden egg hidden at the end of this post, let me recap you a bit. Continue reading

Nonviolent Battle: Super or Not Very Effective?

Since I’ve been going through everything that is Yu-Gi-Oh! to write more manga posts for you guys, I decided to look at the concept of different kinds of non-traditional battles and whether or not they properly illustrate the conflict and move the plot forward.

Probably the best and one of the most well-known examples of non-traditional combat is “Riddles in the Dark” in The Hobbit. What makes this such an easy example to understand is that they literally go from pointing weapons at one another to throwing riddles. Out of all of the examples I’m using here, this is the one I would consider closest to actual combat. The thing with non-traditional combat is that it still there still needs to be some sort of contest, and here it is a battle of the brains. “Riddles in the Dark” is both entertaining and dramatic, while still moving the plot of the story forward. So it’s a successful example.

battle 2So let’s get on with Yu-Gi-Oh! since you already knew I was going to bring it up. Card games instead of swords. Does it work? I’d say yes. The key thing about Yu-Gi-Oh! is that they aren’t just doing what they do for shits and giggles. There is always another, larger plot arc that motivated the characters to “do battle”. For example, Yugi went to Duelist Kingdom to get his Grandpa’s soul back. The characters still have motivations outside of the game. If you took away the cards, there would still be a story, which I think means it was successful replacement for fighting with weapons.

battle 1Hikaru no Go falls short in exactly that sense. What would happen if no one played Go? Absolutely nothing. There would be no story. And while I adore Hikaru no Go, if you don’t understand the game then you are shit out of luck, at least when reading the manga. I don’t know what the anime is like, but I suppose it’s possible that it did things differently. Granted, Hikaru no Go is more of a slice-of-life story than the extraordinariness that is Yu-Gi-Oh! But when all the conflict is conducted through a game that is never entirely explained, I don’t think that it is an entirely effective device for plot movement. So while we know there is conflict, it comes at the cost of a substantial plot.

There has to be a balance between the conflict itself and the motivation for that conflict—swing too close to conflict itself and you lose your story. I couldn’t think of any examples that didn’t put too much emphasis on story because with story usually comes some sort of conflict. Why would you write a story without a conflict? It’s like a sandwich without stuff between the two pieces of bread; it’s totally pointless. And really sad. So give your stories conflict in any way you see fit. Violent, non-violent, it matters not. Both can be effective. But make sure that whatever you chose doesn’t take away from the story.

Trailer Tuesdays: Brave New World

Brave New World marks the second expansion pack for Civilization V. And as of today, it’s available for purchase. I cannot even begin how to explain how excited I am for this game. Brave New World will be adding nine new civilizations, eight new Wonders, and a whole bunch of other features to the gameplay.

Probably most notable feature in this expansion pack that has me excited is the ability to create trade routes between your cities and another civilization. The Cultural Victory has also been vastly changed, and it’s now based on how much Tourism and influence your culture generates on other civs. Arioch’s Well of Souls explains it as such:

Tourism exerts a kind of offensive cultural pressure on the civilizations around you. Tourism is generated by Wonders and buildings that have Great Works or Artifacts housed in them. Tourism is increased with Open Borders agreements (+25%), Trade Routes (+25%), and shared religion. Tourism is countered by the foreign civilization’s own Culture; your Tourism is measured against that Culture, and ranked from “Exotic” (10%) to “Familiar” (30%) to “Popular” (60%) to “Influential” (100%+).

Additionally, the game will also split Great Artists into three separate units, Great Artists, Great Writers, and Great Musicians. These people will be able to generate Great Works that will help increase your culture and tourism. The works themselves will also be based on which great person you generate, since they are all named after historical figures. For instance, Murasaki Shikibu will write you The Tale of Genji, and Ludwig van Beethoven will compose The Fifth Symphony. Furthermore, after researching Archeology, you will be able to get Archeologists who can search for Artifacts to put in your museums, which will also increase your Culture and Tourism.

Another change to the game is the addition of Ideologies, which allows the player to choose between Atrocity, Freedom, and Order. This can be done after building at least three factories. Many of you players may recognize those Ideologies from the Social Policy trees. Your choice of Ideology will impact your relationship with other civs, and these three have been replaced on the trees by Exploration and Aesthetics. Certain Wonders will now only be available depending on which Ideologies and Social Policies you choose. For instance, Tradition unlocks the Hanging Gargens, and Liberty unlocks the Pyramids.

Among many other things, such as new units, new technologies, new city states, there are some minor changes to the religion brought in by the last expansion pack. I already talked about religion in this game and I was more or less underwhelmed by it, but Brave New World looks like it’ll be better to an extent in this regard.

If you don’t play Civilization V, you should probably give it a try, and you should definitely try it with the expansion packs. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting impatiently for Brave New World.

Oh, My Pop Culture Tactical Advantage: Gods + Kings

Civilization-V-Gods-Kings-backgroundOh, Civilization, how you amuse me.

This is a game based entirely on tactics. If you play without a good strategy, you’re bound to lose unless you’ve set the computer difficulty low. While I have played the earlier versions, my experience with Civilization is pretty limited to the latest installment and its expansion pack, Civilization V: Gods + Kings. I think what I like the most about this game, other than building giant death robots and conquering the world, is that we can see how culture and religion can impact growth and power, while completely neglecting how they impact society.

To be fair, that’s not completely true. The game does have a happiness meter, and if your population completely hates you, they will revolt via barbarians.

I suppose that Civ5 is about as accurate as a game can get in terms of application of religion by a society, though it does leave some things to be desired. Being “about as accurate” doesn’t mean entirely accurate, or that there’s no room for improvement in how religion is implemented.

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We All Live in A Pokémon World (Still)

If you visited any webpage, any tumblr, or talked to any person that remotely liked Pokémon on Tuesday, you’re probably more than well aware that The Pokémon Company released some big news. Though I was excited to find out what it was myself, I only had to load up my dash to be assailed with roughly a billion posts on the newest game to enter the franchise: Pokémon X Y. There are cries of it being way too early for another game to come out—Black/White 2 only debuted in October—yet those naysayers are drowned out by those who are ecstatic to see another generation of cute, powerful monsters enter the fray. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Fallen London

Facebook games: they’re repetitive, uninspired, and mindless, but somehow they’re still hideously addicting and I’ve played them all (or, at least a good chunk of them).

However, after a while I got bored of their calls for actually spending money and swore myself from ever playing such games again. That is until this game was brought to my attention… again.

A while ago, it was discussed between the writers at this blog that we should all give the game, Fallen London a shot and with the increased popularity on neo-Victorian literature and subcultures like steampunk, it seemed like a fair idea. However, it is blatantly a Facebook game, only not on Facebook. As such, I took a polite look at it, tipped my hat, and ollied out, never to set eyes on it again. Except that didn’t happen. No, it took one of my other friends bringing it up again for me to really try it out, and now I’m addicted.

Fallen London is set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic setting where the characters live in the desolate, dirty, and corrupt rubble of London. It starts by having the player character escape from jail and from there the way one builds their character is up to them. You can be a pious protector of the discriminated groups or a violent, rowdy sort that lives a hedonistic lifestyle. There’s no real coherent plot, but there are plot-lines that affect which events you run into later on in the game. For instance, my character just lost her soul because she got in too deep with the devils—who, strangely enough, run the government… actually, maybe that’s not so strange.

As I said, though, this game is definitely a Facebook game. It has the annoying restriction of only so many actions being able to be used until you run out and must wait several minutes for more. It also has a system where you can pay for certain perks, but unlike other Facebook games, it doesn’t really shove it down your throat. It’s usually possible to ignore the fact that it is so similar because of the game engine it’s programmed through; the StoryNexus engine allows for more depth in plot and different routes of story, so it seems more like you’re playing a game rather than just clicking on something to waste time.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested it, give Fallen London a shot! And if you join, let me know your screen-name and we can team-up and solve the mysteries of this place.

Score One for the Little Guy: Super Hexagon Rocks

was released for iPhone and iPad on Thursday, and it has drastically outperformed even its developer’s expectations. Having picked it up on Saturday and spent most of Sunday and this morning playing, I have to say it’s no surprise. Super Hexagon is a pure delight to play.

Though I love and play a great deal of games, it still is not often that I find myself smiling broadly from the sheer enjoyment of the experience. Super Hexagon achieves this with its flowing gameplay, simple visuals, and an astounding soundtrack. When you first start, losses come easily in the first several seconds, but you’re right back into it for another try with a simple tap of the screen. This means that the game can feature a steep learning curve and offer extremely challenging experiences without ever breaking the flow of the game. For those who don’t know, the term ‘flow’ in relation to gaming refers to when a players state of mind is fully engaged and focused on the game while fully enjoying. Basically, it means “in the zone.” Thus, a game which “flows” successfully facilitates this state in the player. The gameplay is so simple that it’s nearly impossible to explain, as even these screenshots tend not to help you understand. It’s a basic game of survival by dodging. You see an obstacle moving toward you, and you must move out of the way before it strikes you. Games of this type are nothing new, but Super Hexagon’s use of polygonal themes, catchy chiptunes (by Chipzel), and beautiful color palette set it apart. Such powerful music and colors could easily be overwhelming, but fortunately the music is tasteful and the color schemes pleasant.

Super Hexagon was developed by Terry Cavanagh, the indie developer genius behind VVVVVV. I can say genius because Marcus “Notch” Persson , member of Mensa and creator of Minecraft, lists Cavanagh as one of his idols. Cavanagh’s games tend to be reminiscent of those older gaming machines whose power was measured in bits, but they still always work in new and interesting ways.

Having already sold over 10,000 units, Super Hexagon is sure to keep me and many others smiling for quite some time to come. If you’ve got an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, this is a game you should definitely pick up.

Tomb Raider Reboot: The Sexual Assault Problem

Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault.

Aperigren: I will explain what this is about for those who do not know, but first I want to say something to those who do know. I am not upset over what will or will not be in the game, I am not upset over the trailer or how anything was portrayed in the trailer, and I am not upset over the way Ron Rosenberg, executive producer, initially talked about Lara or her characterization. I’m upset over how this whole situation is being handled both in the media and by the studio.

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