Tag Archives: adventure

Choice of Robots (Video Game/Visual Novel)

Producer: Choice of Games

Author: Kevin Gold

My rating: 5 of 5

You may just be in postgraduate studies right now, crafting the initial designs for your first real robot, but you know your creations are destined for greatness. One way or the other, you’re going to impact the world. But will you be a humanitarian, training your robots to work with people and crafting them to be useful in the medical field? Or will you create robots that are useful for the military, regardless of the consequences? Or hey, your robots are intelligent enough, will you just give them their freedom and let them decide for themselves what sorts of beings they should become?

Okay, so first off, I’m hesitant to call Choice of Robots either a video game or a visual novel–but I don’t really have a good word for what it is other than those. This is an entirely text-based computer game, devoid of pictures or background music entirely. Sounds kind of boring, right? It’s totally not. This is an indie choices matter sort of game that is just fabulous, truly. It’s smart, for one thing; the writer has a Ph.D. in computer science, and it shows. It’s very well thought out and organized. The game is like a visual novel in that you read a block of text and are offered a variety of choices you can make based on that text. Your choices are meaningful, and even small choices can have a big impact on what happens later in the game. Choices also influence your stats (empathy, grace, autonomy, and military appeal for your robot, plus your own wealth and fame) as well as your relationships with various other characters. I can see this game as having a great deal of replay value due to the huge number of story paths available; I’ve played through it three times already, and have only unlocked a few of the possibilities. If you’re willing to look past the surface simplicity of such a purely text-based game, I think Choice of Robots is an excellent game, and I will be trying other games by this group.

Note: I played Choice of Robots through Steam, and you can find out more at the Steam store page or on the game’s credits page.

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A Phantom Marooned (Danny Phantom Fanfic)

Author: LordPugsy

FanFiction ID: 9820196

Status: Complete (19 chapters)

My rating: 4 of 5

Danny knew something was off when his entire English class won a fancy cruise–in a contest no one remembered ever entering. Unsurprisingly, it’s not long before things go horribly pear-shaped, leaving the class stranded alone on an island, all their technology fried, and non-native tropical animals dangerously near. Worse, Danny has lost half of his ghost powers due to some weird barrier surrounding the island. Now the class is going to have to work together to survive, and Danny is going to have to be the hero his friends know him to be . . . somehow without revealing his more famous alter ego to the rest of the class.

Okay, maybe the basic premise of this story isn’t the most original ever, but I found the execution of the story in A Phantom Marooned to be quite enjoyable. The character development is well done, allowing more optimism and less angst than a lot of DP stories I’ve read. The characters are a bit older–around sixteen at this point–and they’re allowed to grow as people while still operating within their root personalities. There’s a nice blend of adventure and suspense–lots of tension both from the situation and from Danny’s trying so hard to keep his secret–with a pleasant dash of romance thrown in–both between Danny and Sam, and unexpectedly but welcomely, between Tucker and Valerie. Plus plenty of BAMFery on Danny’s part, which is thoroughly satisfying. If you want a story where he gets to shine and actually be recognized for being amazing as Danny Fenton, not just as Danny Phantom, then this is your story. I will warn that, although the author has this rated as K+, it’s probably closer to a T, maybe a T+. There isn’t a lot of language, and the romance is kept remarkably innocent and sweet, but later in the story, the group runs into a very violent, crazy group of bad guys, and . . . lets just say there’s a lot of blood and whump at certain points. The writing itself is quite good; there are a few grammatical/word choice issues at times, but nothing too obnoxious, and certainly not enough to detract from how enjoyable the story is as a whole. Definitely recommended.

Note: You can find A Phantom Marooned at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9820196/1/A-Phantom-Marooned.

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Danny Phantom (2004-2007 Cartoon)

Billionfold Studios with Nickelodeon

Status: Complete (3 Seasons/53 Episodes)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Fourteen-year-old Danny Fenton’s life gets a lot more interesting when an accident in his ghost-hunting parents’ lab transforms him into a half-ghost, a halfa as the other ghosts in Amity Park soon begin calling him. The change definitely comes with some cool powers–invisibility, intangibility, and the ability to sense when other ghosts are around, to name a few. But life isn’t all cool abilities and fun; Danny’s parents have built a portal into the Ghost Zone, the place where ghosts normally stay, and now the ghosts are spilling out and causing havoc all over town. And since his folks are well meaning but not exactly the most competent hunters ever, Danny finds himself in the position of being one of the only people who can do anything about Amity Park’s ghost problem. And with the help of his two best friends, techno-geek Tucker and goth-girl Sam, he sets out to do just that . . . which would be way easier if he didn’t have to also keep up with school, dodge bullies, and keep his ghost half a secret from his parents!

Danny Phantom is one of those cartoons that I kind of wish I had discovered as a kid because I’m pretty sure I would have loved it. As it is, watching this as an adult is still pretty cool. The show has a strong Nickelodeon vibe, which is something that I unfortunately can’t solidly define; it’s just something that you know when you see it. But seriously, while falling solidly into the cartoon category, Danny Phantom manages to be engaging and fun in a way that most cartoons just miss. The comic-inspired superhero storyline is a winner to start with–complete with “pow” splash panels in some of the action scenes, which I love. The concept itself is pretty interesting, and Danny makes a good protagonist; he’s powerful and responsible for the most part, but also learns and grows as he goes and has his fair share of failings. He’s remarkably human, despite the whole half-ghost thing. He has some fabulous friends as well; Tucker and Sam absolutely make the show, Sam and her badass good sense in particular. Fair warning for parents that this show does include a certain amount of disrespect for authority and authority figures being incompetent; it’s one of the few negative comments I have about the show, honestly. Still, for all their bumbling, the Fentons do have their moments, and they kind of grew on me over the course of the story. As for the story itself, it’s fairly episodic with each episode focusing on a particular conflict–many of them with Danny fighting ghosts, but some with school, friends, and other normal teenage life issues with ghosts being a background issue. I enjoyed the recurring cast of antagonists, especially the way many of them become almost frenemies–a force to be opposed, but with plenty of punning and a certain casualness to the whole endeavor. But despite its episodic nature, there’s a broader progressive storyline that develops over the course of the show, which I looooove. Visually, again, the cartoon is pretty Nickelodeon with a distinct angular sort of style. I really like the color scheme–lots of strong greens and purples. It’s one of those strange styles that just works and fits the story remarkably well. Also, the music is fabulous and fits the story amazingly! So yeah, I would recommend Danny Phantom for older kids and teenagers as well as a fun treat for adults.

Created by Butch Hartman/Developed by Steve Marmel/Music by Guy Moon/Starring David Kaufman, Grey DeLisle, Rickey D’Shon Collins, Colleen Villard, Rob Paulsen, Kath Soucie, & Martin Mull

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The Hollow (2018 Animated TV Series)

Slap Happy Cartoons with Netflix

Status: Complete (1 Season/10 Episodes)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Three teenagers find themselves waking up together in a doorless room with no memory of who they are or what their lives were like before that moment. An old typewriter on the floor and names written on pieces of paper in their pockets are their only clues–Adam, Mira, Kai. Accepting that these are their own names and that playing along with whatever “game” or “puzzle” is afoot is their only way to escape, the three begin working together, putting their skills to work in the series of ever-stranger situations they find themselves in. And they’ve got some pretty crazy skills to put to work, too! Which makes them have to wonder, who on earth are they? Because normal people can’t do the things they can do, and they’re freaking themselves out.

The Hollow is a show that I actually watched on recommendation from some family members, and while it’s not exactly what I would normally watch, I did enjoy it. But I feel like I can’t properly review it without totally spoiling it, and it’s one of those shows that you do not want to go into with spoilers. The mystery and watching it unfold is a huge part of the enjoyment of this story. And yes, mystery there is aplenty. The what-on-earth-is-going-on factor is on a level that nearly surpasses that of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and that’s saying something.  It’s such a strange mix of genres and themes that I never really felt like I knew what was going on, right up until the end where everything’s explained. It did kind of feel like some of those kids’ stories where each character has specific skills that are suited to specific tasks and everyone fits just so; I didn’t care for that so much, it’s just not my thing, but it does make more sense once you get the explanations. The characters were good, not great, but good. Normal, if you can consider teenagers with superpowers to be normal. They’re relatable, which given the situation they’re in and how you’re supposed to be getting into that, is what you really want. The art is interesting; an animation style somewhere between an American cartoon and, say, A Cat in Paris, at least in terms of the character design. I think the character designs felt a bit inconsistent between characters, like the styles switched somewhere in between them, but it worked in this context. Overall, for those who enjoy having their head messed with and watching an inexplicable mystery unfold, I would recommend The Hollow.

Created by Vito Viscomi/Directed by Josh Mepham & Greg Sullivan/Starring Adrian Petriw, Ashleigh Ball, & Connor Parnall

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The Storyteller and the Thief (Voltron: Legendary Defender Fanfic)

Author: Laura of Maychoria/Maychorian

FanFiction ID: 12404441/AO3 ID: 10239332

The Cycle of the Five Lions, vol. 1

Status: Complete (7 chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Rated T/Dungeons & Dragons-based AU

In her quest to find her missing father and brother, Pidge has gone through a lot–giving up her career to become a rogue, leaving home, going by a fake name since she’s wanted under her own. But through it all, she’s taken comfort in the presence of the green fairy lion, Holly, who has been by her side, unseen by others. Or at least, unseen until one day when an annoying (to Pidge), flamboyant bard named Lance–also accompanied by a fairy lion, a blue one, that no one else can see–reveals that he can indeed see hers. He then proceeds to drag her to the inn where he’s staying with two elf friends, Coran and Allura, only to be told that they, and their lions, are part of something big–something that just may save the world from a threat so old and so awful that Lance and Pidge had always thought was only a fairy tale.

It’s an established fact that Maychorian is an amazing writer. But it’s only just recently that I’ve gotten into her VLD fanfics, and I’ve got to say that her work in them really shines. She’s got a good feel for what the fandom generally tends to enjoy, her style suits the series well, and her understanding of the characters is phenomenal. But even in light of that, with The Storyteller and the Thief,  I feel like she does something really special. Here we get almost a retelling of the Voltron story, but set in a D&D-based universe. So, for instance, Coran and Allura get their tragic backstory of losing their whole nation of Altea and being in stasis for years and years, only they’re elves and the stasis is effected by a spell. Pidge is still looking for her father and brother, but they were lost in a mission to the Dragon Waste as opposed to on Kerberos. Lance still deals with homesickness and livens everyone around with his words, but his family are sailing merchants and he’s a bard. And of course, the lions are fairy-like creatures of mysterious origin as opposed to giant magic robots. In an interesting meta sort of way, we get some D&D mechanics coming into the story as well, like named spells, classes of adventurers, and limits on arcane energy per day. In essence, the idea behind this story is one that sounds pretty weird at first, and yet in execution, it’s basically brilliant. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this story cycle!

Note: You can find The Storyteller and the Thief on FFnet at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12404441/1/The-Storyteller-and-the-Thief-The-Cycle-of-Five-Lions-1 or on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/works/10239332/chapters/22716101. You can also find some awesome art created for this series by karovie at https://archiveofourown.org/works/10239131/chapters/22715762.

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The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins (Graphic Novel)

Story by  Clint McElroy,  Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, & Travis McElroy

Illustrated by Carey Pietsch

The Adventure Zone, vol. 1

My rating: 4 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience, mostly for language

Join brave adventurers, Magnus, Merle, and Taako on their quest to fight goblins, find lost family members, and hopefully survive level one. Observe their sheer skill in BS-ing their way past obstacles–and their attempts to avoid them when possible, except where there’s treasure or items involved. Marvel as their Dungeon Master steps in to clarify the rules. In short, dive headlong into an engaging game of Dungeons & Dragons as an uninvolved observer.

First off, I have to confess that I have never listened to the podcast that this graphic novel is based on (also titled The Adventure Zone). So I’m just coming at this as a D&D player and a casual reader. With that in mind, this graphic novel is basically brilliant. It does a great job of showing you the story that the DM and the players are weaving, but never really lets you forget that this is, in fact, a roleplaying game that’s going on here. As such, there’s some meta kind of stuff that will be amusing to players but that won’t mean much to those who haven’t played D&D at least a little. Not that it wouldn’t be fun for them; there’s just stuff that will be missed. For gamers, I think this will truly strike a chord because it clearly shows oh-so-many of the struggles and quirks one tends to run into while playing and presents them in a humorous way. And yes, this graphic novel is definitely funny in a quirky, snarky kind of way. I liked the art as well; it suits the story nicely and does a great job of presenting graphically what was originally released as audio only on the podcast. Fair warning that there is a good bit of adult language here, as well as some significant violence (like, whole town destroyed violence) which probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but just putting that out there  in case you either don’t game or come from an atypical group that’s always sedate and polite. Not my general experience, gotta say. In any case, Here There Be Gerblins is definitely a GN I would recommend to fellow D&D players, as well as possibly to those interested in/curious about the game. I’m certainly looking forward to the next volume.

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You’re Sure of a Big Surprise (aka The Adventures of Gwaine and Smelly Geoff) (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Kroki_Refur

AO3 ID: 11052399

Status: Complete (oneshot)

My rating:  4 of 5

Rated T for mild violence, innuendo, language, alcohol, and general Gwaine-ness

When an obviously unnatural beast comes at their small party in the woods, Gwaine uses his astounding observational skills to determine that it’s going after Merlin in a very specific, prejudicial manner. His equally-impressive naming skills go into calling the creature “Geoff” to Arthur’s chagrin. Actually, Gwaine’s just a font of useful skills today, which is good, because Merlin’s in trouble.

So yeah, Gwaine and Smelly Geoff is one of those stories that’s kind of challenging to summarize, and I guess there’s technically not a ton of plot–magical beast attacks, Gwaine &co. deal with the consequences, Merlin is saved, oh, and Gwaine’s not as unobservant as most folks would like to think. Where this story really shines is not so much in its plot development, however, as in its character observations. The entire thing is told from Gwaine’s point of view, and it’s done so charmingly. His personality is just brimming over throughout the whole thing, tongue-in-cheek humor, ambient innuendo, brusque caring, mostly-hidden smarts, and all. And even though the actual plot is kind of serious, because of Gwaine’s humor, the whole story is actually pretty funny to read. Also, major kudos to the author for writing the whole thing in present tense without it sticking out painfully; I was, like, halfway through before I even noticed! This was definitely a fun story and a great character study–recommended.

Note: You can find You’re Sure of a Big Surprise at https://archiveofourown.org/works/11052399.

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