Saturday, December 29, 2012

Game Review! Scribblenauts Unlimited

First, I'll apologize for not posting in a while. Okay done. Now for... a review. Let's take a romp down memory lane with my first game review here on ChuckBlog. Take a look.

From January 23, 2011:
My first game review! Some people would have liked me to review something like, COD or Fifa, or Assassin's Creed, but I picked a game I think deserves at leats a cajillion rewards.Super Scribblenauts, a breakthough in gaming. You play as Maxwell, an imaginative chaacter who posseses a magical object, his notepad. In the game, you have to solve puzzles to obtain starites, to win the level. To solve these puzzles, you must think of an object that can help you out, then write it in Maxwell's Notebook. It will then appear, and you can use it! You can even add adjectives, it is incredible! (Or Scribblenautical as my friend Russel would say.) the game itself is for your DS, and will make a great addition! It is one of my favortie games!

Yeah man, it's THAT good.

That kinda hurt to read. All thing said, Super Scribblenauts is still one of my favorite games of all time. There is a concept here that simply cannot be overlooked in it's fantasticalness. The ability to summon almost anything with almost any properties within the realm of a game is simply brilliant, and for me, Super Scribblenauts is an almost perfect game.

And now a new page is turned, a new generation is here, and Scribblenauts came as well. I'll tell you, I was more excited about this game than any other launch title on the WiiU when I first saw it. I remember my friends and I eagerly huddling around a tiny screen, watching the Nintendo Press Conference, waiting for news about new titles on this exciting new platform. And then it was there, Scribblenauts on the WiiU. On a home console, in HD! Scribblenauts Unlimited, they called it, and it looked to be the most fantastic thing ever. Not only was there all the original features, but new things like being able to make your own items (WHAT?) and it promised to finally tell the tale of Maxwell's Mysterious Journal! I had been waiting for a concrete plot to explain the doppleganger, Scribblenauts, Starites, and Maxwell for years now! This game promised to cater to my every need. 

And I finally got it! And yet... something was wrong. Something was missing. 

Let's get started with the review portion, eh?

GAMEPLAY: Why not start with plot? You'll see. Scribblenauts has always suffered in the controls department. In fact, that's what keeps Super Scribblenauts from being an absolute perfect game in my book. Scribblenauts Unlimited improved some, and it certainly didn't get any worse. In all, it isn't nearly as clunky as the original, feels quite a bit more streamlined, and doesn't hinder the game in any way. Typing is all the same; where Unlimited makes it's biggest change gameplay wise is with the item editor! And this is the best part of Unlimited. The item editor allows one to take any item, tear it apart, rebuild it in ANY way imaginable, give it it's own traits and directives, and set it free. I've made plenty of awesome things like a gun that shoots kittens that blow up like nuclear warheads, a dragon that works like a priest, and man-spider who plays guitar. You can also set up your own shop and other players can download and rate your creations. It's a neat addition that works really well and adds a lot to Scribblenauts. However, the puzzles in Scribblenauts Unlimited are dumbed down inexcusably. This happened to the point that I was given a puzzle, came up with a creative solution, and seeing that nothing happened typed in a stupidly obvious answer and guess what, it worked!  This is not what Scribblenauts was about! It was about solving devious puzzles that required you to think and use your creativity, not to make you feel good about writing the word "apple" when given the puzzle "He's hungry."

PRESENTATION: And here's another place I was disappointed in Scribblenauts Unlimited. It took everything I've come to expect from a Scribblenauts game and changed it, and it didn't feel right! I have no qualm with change, but Unlimited just doesn't... feel right all the time. It feels like it wants to be something different, and I don't like this. Let me discuss. Traditionally, in a Scribblenauts game, you have a menu to select levels, and a sandbox to experiment in. This is great. Each level has a goal, and once you reach it you find a Starite, what you need to complete the game. If you ever need to test something out without jeopardizing a puzzle, you can save and go to the sandbox, make your own world from scratch. Scribblenauts Unlimited throws this all out the window. Each "level" is a huge map with multiple "objectives" and one or two Starite missions. Instead of navigating a collection of challenges within a group, you must roam around a large map and search for starite shards. These shards are obtained by solving incredibly mind-numbingly simple puzzles on the over world (such as the hungry man one I mentioned, only easier). Some of them are actually creative, and I'm not saying I didn't have fun with some of them, but they didn't feel right. However, the classic levels from Scribblenauts and it's Super Sequel remain. When you find a character with a starite icon the map changes to accommodate a level. By the way, they're all super easy. There's no sandbox in Unlimited, which is also a huge downer. To feel right I have to kill everyone in a stage (which, admittedly, is fun) THEN use it as a sandbox. 

STORY: You know something I liked about Super Scribblenauts? It was simple. There was a lot to see and do, but the story was simple. You're Maxwell, a Scribblenaut. You're job is to find starites using a notebook that lets you summon anything. Along the way you'll have to fight many enemies and solve many problems. But the biggest challenge of all, is yourself. The game ends with a climactic battle against your evil doppleganger on the moon, one of the most epic games ever. Finally, Unlimited would reveal all my questions. How did Maxwell become a Scribblenaut (did it take place between Scribblenauts and Super)? What are the origins of the Doppleganger? What are the starites? Well guess what? Scribblenauts Unlimited decided that the cool story they had been building up to didn't deserve any more explanation, and that we would need something a bit more... watered down. Not as much mystery. Here's the plot in a nutshell: So these two adventurers fall in love and have like a billion kids (forty-two actually). And they give two of their favorite kids (Maxwell and his Sister) two fantastic items: a globe that will take you anywhere on the world, and a notebook that can summon anything (where they got them is anyone's guess). However, Mr. and Mrs. Adventurer fear that their children are becoming spoiled, so they send them away from home (at the age of like fourteen) to brave the world and gain character! So Maxwell and Sister set out to see the world. Almost immediately they are stopped by an old man asking for food (gee, sounds a lot like a puzzle I MENTIONED). Maxwell, who for some reason is a stuck-up jerk who loves to ruin people's lives in this telling of the Scribblenauts story, writes the man a rotten apple. The man gets upset and then casts a curse on Maxwell's sister, causing here to slowly turn into stone. The only way to save her is to gather starites so off he goes. Honestly, I strongly dislike this story. If this is 5th Cell's way of reinventing the Scribblenauts Story, then I am incredibly disappointed. However, the thought occurred to me that Scribblenauts Unlimited could simply be a prequel to the original Scribblenauts, that this is how Maxwell got his start finding Starites before he became a Scribblenaut. In all, the story wouldn't be too bad then. It even tells the tale of the doppleganger's origins (although quite briefly). It's not bad, but it doesn't feel quite right.

THE VERDICT: I'm going to go ahead and say, I like Scribblenauts Unlimited. This is in now way a bad game, it's a great game. If someone who was new to Scribblenauts played it, they might call it near to perfect. But as a fan, this game does not deliver where I wanted it to. The presentation feels wrong, the puzzles are way too easy, and the story is disappointing. However, the game is still Scribblenauts, and contains the innovation. The item editor is just enough to keep me very satisfied with the game, but it falls short of it's predecessors in my own opinion. Now, I know I normally use stars, but I will use a decimal system for this and say that is Super Scribblenauts was a 9.3 in my book, Scribblenauts Unlimited is a solid


Let me stress again: this is a very good game. It simply lacked the magic of the original titles to me. However, this game is still a complete blast to play. In fact, I'm going to go play it now!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saint James Marching Band 2012

The Saint James Band begins their Finals Exhibition performance.

     Avid readers of ChuckBlog for the past few years will remember me mentioning my membership in my high-school's band, the Saint James Marching Trojans. You can check out a post on them here for a little bit of background and stuff, or check out the official site here at

     And so this year's band season has come and gone, and I would be sorely remiss if I did not tell my readers of the band's success in San Antonio Texas at the BOA Alamodome Super-Regional. But first, a little background.

     The Saint James band is... different from most bands you'll find at a BOA (Bands of America) Competition. Bands of America is like the major-league of marching bands (there's also a league for drum-corps, but this is the highest competition a marching band can compete in). Most of the bands you find at a BOA competition (especially one as major as a Super-Regional or say, Grand Nationals) are very, very  good. And they also average to be very big. Do you see that picture up there? Yeah, we're not big.

     The Saint James Band is a 1A band. Every band is categorized into classes based on their size, and we are the smallest declension of this group. This creates very interesting side-effects. I'll tell you straight up that 1A bands do not win BOA competitions. They just... don't. You can argue all you want, but the 4A and 3A bands are the ones that get to finals, not the 1A bands. This is just because of the way that BOA is structured. I could go on a whole tangeant about how I feel it could be done better, but it's set up that it doesn't really matter what you do, it's how well you do it (some bands purchase shows almost identical to their last ones simply to maintain a higher position).

     The Saint James band, however, is not held down by the constraints of being a bigger band. We're able to take risks, experiment, and usually pull it off quite well. So our goal, as a 1A band, is to win our class. And that's exactly what we did! That's right, the Saint James Band pulled off a great victory and got to perform in finals via exhibition (not graded, just for entertainment). Take a look at the results, and if you don't believe me, check here.

Class A
1st - Saint James School, AL
2nd - Jackson Academy, MS
3rd - Hidalgo H.S., TX

Outstanding Music Performance - Saint James School, AL & Jackson Academy, MS
Outstanding Visual Performance - Jackson Academy, MS
Outstanding General Effect - Saint James School, AL

     I'll tell you, it's an amazing experience winning our class in BOA. It was also amazing getting to perform with some of the best bands in the country. Winning our class was close, and Jackson Academy did a great job.

Performing in the Alamodome

     Alright, that's enough about the competition and such, why don't I give you some background on our show this year, Charming. I'm going to go ahead and say that I was a little bit uneasy about this year's show, but it's become one of my favorites that we've done. Charming is the story of Cinderella from the prince's point of view. This was a really cool show. If you're ever able to find any footage of it, watch it. You'll be entertained.

     We had a whole bunch of cool songs like "Can't Buy Me Love," "Single Ladies," and "I Will Always Love You." I've heard that we were the only band that got a standing ovation on our day of prelims. I'm very glad that all the work we put into the show payed off in the end, and I'm also ready for some concert band!

Class 1A Champions!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Updatus II

      It has been far too long since my last post, my loyal readers. Forgive me, please. However, this has to be another "update" post of sorts, so let's get started so I can get back into the swing of things.

      First of all, I am pronouncing Twixt a dead project. Gasp! Scream! Yes, I must have no work ethic, you are all saying. Well actually there's another reason. That reason is Zephyr. Zephyr is a game I'm actually developing currently on the Unity engine, you can check out my dev blog here. I'm working out some bugs in Zephyr, so the next Alpha won't be for a little while.

     I've been playing a lot of games recently, such as the new Pokemon and Dishonored. I'm thinking about writing up a review for one of those titles, so if you have a pick, comment it below.

     I've also been working on my writing. You probably all remember my homework poem (if you're a normal reader). Well, I've been hanging out on this site called and writing on there. No, I wasn't payed to say this, but StoryWrite is a great place for fresh authors to showcase their works and get some positive feedback, so get on there! But first you should check out my profile and some of my stories! Click here to do so!

     That's about all for this update! Expect some new game reviews, BGM Anthology, and who knows, maybe some PLATINUM AWARDS!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Game Review! SCP-087

     Alright, I need to get off of this horror-game fix or something; this is getting ridiculous. So, I won't do any more scary games after this, I promise. I don't know why I've suddenly become obsessed with the horror genre, but this will probably be my last one so...

     A couple of posts ago I talked about SLENDER, the indie horror sensation that's sweeping the nation! SLENDER is a terrifying game experience, but I've decided to pull up a game that I believe very few people will know about.

     SCP-087 is an experimental horror game developed by someone who is known only as haversine. The game is based off of the SCP Foundation, a website devoted to the documentation of fake scary things. The Foundation is a huge universe, and you can find thousands of entries, but few have such fame as 087. SCP-087 tells the story of a staircase in a university where mysterious things happen. Basically, people who enter 087 hear pleading cries from a child (which is mysteriously absent from the game adaptation), so they descend the staircase. However, the staircase doesn't seem to have an end, and by the time they realize this, they come fact to face with SCP-087-1, the entity who lives in the stairwell. Wanna get the full story? Click here!

     SCP-087 (the game) places you in the shoes of someone who has entered the stairwell. Why? Who cares. You're not getting out of there anyway. The game begins with a bang- literally. The door slams behind you and you are left to your own devices in SCP-087. So what do you do? You go down, of course. I'm going to point out here that, to the common bystander, SCP-087 looks like the most boring, pointless game in the history of humanity. "All you do is go down stairs!" they will say. "That's stupid!" But, it's not. It's really scary.

     The game's real kicker is it's audio. I advise using a plethora of headphones (how that would work, I don't care) when playing, because to get this game's full effect, you need to hear it. As you descend, you will hear breathing. Is it your own breathing? I sure hope not, because if so, you might be Darth Vader. Also, there will be a semi-permeable layer of white noise that increases in volume as you go down. This may not seem like much, but it makes every step sound like 087-1 is getting closer. These aren't all the sounds you'll hear, however, as SCP-087 seems to have an infinite supply of scary noises to throw at you, ever time I play it throws something new at me! There could be a body being thrown down the stairs, or some new moan to hear. It's petrifying.

     Another specific kicker in there is... the shadows. Occasionally, as you descend the stairwell, you'll encounter a shadow that appears and then disappears. At first, you think it could be you; but you're not that tall, and your arms aren't that long... oh crud. The shadows appear at random, and they're terrifying, because, unlike what I'm about to get to, you never see them coming. And this leads me to the final element of horror in this game. SCP-087-1.

     Of course you eventually encounter the... thing that lives in the staircase. But, here's our third kicker, you don't know when you're going to encounter him. Although there seems to be an infinite amount of stairs, 087-1 will spawn on a random (but not too far down, the most we've gotten is 117) floor. And you'll know when you get to him, because you'll see his face (see ex. a).

Look very closely, enlarge this if you must. He's there.
      087-1 will simply stand down there and wait for you, because where else are you going to go? He won't chase you, he won't do anything. He'll just wait. And you'll go right on down. Once you get close enough, he'll reach out with his ridiculously creepy hands, grab you, and the application will close. The end? Your screams will probably signify that. You actually can get past 087-1, but it isn't easy. You'll have to jump on the railings and onto the other stairwell, and even then it's possible he'll appear on the next flight. There's no way to beat the game, just a high score to get.

     So... how to rate this? Like I mentioned in my SLENDER review, experimental games can't be held up to a scale, to say, but I do think that I can rate this game based off the amount of fear coursing through my veins as I played it, and that's an


     SCP-087 is not the scariest game out there, but the scares it delivers are completely terrifying in their subtlety. If you want a drop out of your pants and die scare, try it's sister game, SCP-087-B. You might literally die. However, for the simplicity of this game, it's brilliantly terrifying. I would advise playing. With friends. In the dark. In a closet (shoutout to Will and Joe). 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


     Alright, so it's vary rare that I am to do a post that's this personal, but I thought you would all be interested (I'm probably wrong). As many of you know, or at least should know by now, I am an avid gamer. I love video games, they're such an amazing medium with literally endless possibilities. People have been saying stuff like "one day, movies in the theater will be interactive" for years, but I think it's already here, and it has been for a while. Video games allow someone to enter a story and interact in their own way while still getting the story! That's awesome!

     So other than that, why am I telling you this? Well, here's why. When it comes to thinking about careers, I've always been a little bit... meh. I only had a general idea of what I wanted to do. I enjoy creating things like stories, art, music, all that stuff. But it hit me one day, that I could literally make a career out of making one of the things I love the most: video games!

     So currently, that's where I'd like to go, into the gaming industry. Be it design, coding, whatever! That's where I'd like to be. But this isn't some sappy "look at my life" journal entry here, this is actually a project. I'd like to develop a game sometime very soon. Something very simple, but still very cool. 

     So I have entered the stages of game design. I do not know how long it will take me, I just know that it will take me a while (what am I even saying). Now, I don't know much about game design, but I can tell you this: I'm pretty sure the first stage is conceptualization. And, as an added bonus, I already know what I'm going to make. It's a little something called Twixt.

      No, not the Francis Ford Coppola horror flick that came out last year, the board game! ...still not ringing any bells? Alright, I'll explain. My family has been in possession of Twixt since before I was born. It's an old board game with a simply goal: build a wall to the other side of the board before your opponent. Sounds easy, right? Well, Twixt is actually incredibly deep, and the strategy that goes into it is really amazing, once you see it. Let me show you what it's like.

     That is the Twixt board, a large grid of dots, kinda like that game where you try to make as many squares as possible (I don't know if it has a name). Each player has pegs and bridges that they place down on the board when it's their turn. You start anywhere on the board. On your turn, you place down a peg, if you can connect it to another peg, then you place a bridge down between them. The first one to link their colored line to the other via bridge wins. Now, take a look at what gameplay is like.

     As you can see, you can't connect pegs just up/down and left/right. The bridges are too long. You have to go diagonally to connect the bridges, so it isn't a straight shot game. It's really really deep and really fun.

     I don't know how long it will take me to develop this, and I don't know what my level of success will be, but I do promise you that I will do it. So I guess ChuckBlog is currently doubling as a dev blog for Twixt. Or, I guess it'll need a new name... I dunno, Twixt2? Trixt? Charles's Twixt.

     I dunno.