Mouse Smash

JC Lau's blog about geekery, gender and other rants


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Review: I saw Arrival and have some feels about it

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I didn’t read any reviews about Arrival (except this one) before I went to see it at theaters today. So, all I knew about the film was that there were aliens and something about scientists trying to communicate with them (which, if you think about it, they do in almost all films involving aliens).

What I wasn’t expecting, then, were lessons in the construction of language, the importance of clarity and perhaps something about not losing faith entirely in humanity.

Spoilers may follow, so be warned.

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Mouse Smash Reviews: Suicide Squad is a Resounding “Meh”

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One of the problems in film, generally, is being able to present a cohesive story with backstory, arcs, character development, conflicts to resolve and loose ends to tie up within a limited window of time. Now, the more characters you have in the story, the less time you can give any one of them, so that their stories get condensed and abridged until they aren’t really robust anymore.

Suicide Squad suffers from this problem in scads. With the DC comic villains each having their own origin stories and arcs from the comics, it’s hard to transpose those into a coherent narrative, and instead the overarching story feels like it’s cobbled together with a handful of random metahumans doing what they’re good at, with the writers being ordered to make a comic book film more like Marvel’s. At least they tried, I guess. Continue reading


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Review: Train Conductor World

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Train Conductor World is a new release from Voxel Agents, where the main mechanics involve line drawing to move trains from one track to another.

The premise of the game–set in Europe–is pretty straightforward, where you have to direct trains onto the correct track (based on color), by drawing a track for them. When levels are completed, you can acquire access to other cities, all of which have their own unique features. For example, Bruges has a huge canal down the middle of it, and you have to draw bridges for your trains to go on.Now, the game can get tricky when multiple trains need to cross paths, but of course your job is also to prevent them from colliding. Continue reading


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Review: Cassius Issue 2: More diversity, more plot thickening!

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I’ve previously written about Cassius Issue 1 for GeekGirlCon, and now I’ve been given the opportunity to continue following Junia in her epic adventures to understand the mark of Cassius!

As a bit of a recap, Cassius is a story from Arbitrary Muse Comics, the collective mind of Ann Uland and Emily Willis, and, while inspired by the Shakespearean play Julius Caesar, it’s clear almost right away that this is probably not the sort of story that Shakespeare imagined. Junia, the protagonist, inherits the mysterious mark of Cassius from her mentor—while on the run from would-be assassins—has to discover the meaning of the mark and what her destiny is. Continue reading


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Review: Tormentum – Dark Sorrow

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Tortmentum is not your regular point and click adventure game. Polish indie studio OhNoo promises a deep philosophical story of redemption, where the player’s moral choices affect the outcome. How well the game does this is debatable, but it is still worth playing for the amazing sensory experience.

The protagonist starts the game as a hooded, nameless amnesiac locked in a metal cage under a flying machine, his companion being a giant talking rat. From there, he has to escape from a hellish dungeon, travel across a desert and find out why he only has a memory of a particular statue. This sounds easy enough, although there are choices that the player makes along the way, such as lending help to one character over another, which are designed to influence the game’s outcome. Continue reading


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Review: Emoji Stars

IMG_1802I should start with a caveat: I’m not really a fan of real-time social games. Being designed for quick turns between players, they are usually straightforward, with little content to them.

That’s why I find it puzzling that I’m still playing Emoji Stars after two weeks. The goal of the game is to describe a song to a teammate using only emoticons. Your teammate guesses your song’s title, and then sends you a new song to guess. All the controls are by touch, although sometimes you might have to drag letters into the right order to spell out the song title.

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Review: Monument Valley

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Monument Valley is an elegantly-designed puzzle game with intriguing challenges and polished mechanics. You guide Princess Ida through ten Escheresque levels on a journey of discovery and forgiveness. Along the way, you meet crow people, befriend totem creatures and traverse seemingly-impossible optical illusions. Continue reading