Justice Playthrough #196: No Brakes Valet

The random number generator said that Those Spacecrafts was next on the list, but Norton says no. Sorry, RNG, but as many games as I’m barebacking for this trawl, I gotta play it safe. So instead, we’re gonna do:

Page 8, Game 26: No Brakes Valet by Captain Games

And boy am I glad this one crossed my path. It’s a riot.

As implied, you are indeed a valet parking cars. The cars are launched at high speed from one of two parking lot inlets, and it’s up to you to guide them to a parking spot. The more cars that are plausibly parked, the more you make in tips!

Warning: Parking Lot May Contain Physics

Smashing cars into things is gonna kinda happen, but don’t worry, they’re indestructible. You can steer them, you can even slow them down — way to LIE to me, “No Brakes” Valet! — but what you CAN’T do is speed them back up. Once you run outta steam, you stop where you stop, and if you’re not in a parking spot, sucks to be you.

Eventually, the game decides it’s fired enough cars out of its automotive cannon and you’ll get paid. Now go get that money!

A job done, I’m gonna blow my money on drugs

No Brakes Valet proves that you can make a game that’s at once a total joke and still a damned good game. The dev liberally sprinkled the NBV with funny little jokes, from trucks filled with chickens to exploding things that look like coffee cups to the Prime Minister showing up and needing to be guided to the VIP slot to surprise bonus levels to cars that ACTUALLY have no brakes to a pair of built-in sequels with their own little twists (the sequels being 2 Brakes 2 Valet and No Brakes Valet: Ontario Drift) to … there are just a ton of gags in here, and most of them made me laugh.

But then once the game has told its jokes, it then settles into a groove of being a fun, challenging exercise in kinetic puzzle solving. You need to have good strategy AND fast reflexes to get the cars where you need them to be.

It’s simple, it’s silly, it works. And it’s free! Play this game. You’ll be glad you did.

Will this next game have a two-player mode letting my wife and I park cars competitively?

Page 30, Game 26: Medieval Town and Country + Interiors Bundle by PVGames

“Medieval: Interiors and Exterior town tiles, characters, and more!”

Ah, an asset pack. Perhaps I could make a game about stabling unruly horses. I mean, I won’t. But perhaps I could.

Justice Playthrough #195: Blue Rose

An interactive novel that was not at all a waste of my time, and was on the balance quite adequate.

Which immediately makes it one of the best interactive novels I’ve yet encountered on this trawl. If my expectations for the genre go any lower, I’ll need a backhoe.

Page 11, Game 9: Blue Rose by WhiteCat

You’re Lena, a member of the famed Blue Rose Templars. You’re running a bog standard escort mission, when your team is jumped by a dragon and basically wiped the fuck out.

IT’S PLOT O’CLOCK MOTHAFUCKAS

So we haven’t even gotten out of the prologue and Blue Rose has already exceeded my expectations. My recurring complaint with other entries in this genre is that they tend to move about as fast as a sloth on horse tranquilizers. Even Animal Lover, a prior entry I was ultimately glad to have played, made a habit of stretching my patience to near breaking. Blue Rose, however, doesn’t fuck around. Click on new game and BOOM! DRAGON! What’s my name? What am I doing? Why am I here? SHUTDAFUCKUP! DRAGON! FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE!!!

Or, well, read about fighting for your life. The interactive bits haven’t really kicked in yet. But, hey, in a game like this, the really important decisions involve which pretty anime boy you’d like to bone; when it comes to petty shit like fighting dragons, you’re just along for the ride.

Anyway. The fight goes badly, and you get blasted down the first of many, many hills and receive the first of many, many traumatic brain injuries. When you come to, you are in the care of Tobias, a taciturn woodsboy who seems to hate you on sight.

Tobias in his natural habitat: his cabin, acting like a bag of dicks

What’s going on? (Stuff.) Why did Tobias save you? (Played the game to completion, still have no idea.) Did anyone else from your squad survive? (… you eventually ask after a ridiculously long time.) And most important of all: ARE THERE HOT BOYS YOU CAN FALL IN LOVE WITH?!

Yes. Obviously.

Blue Rose crushes the whole “pacing” issue I keep having with interactive novels. I have complaints about this game, but I give it all the credit in the world for respecting my time and NOT fucking around. I finished it in about two hours or so, and lesser games need that much time to even establish their basic premise. Shit happens here, and I respect the hell out of it for that.

What’s more, it looks lovely. These characters appear in enough story-related poses that I do NOT think the dev was using canned assets; I strongly suspect this is all original material, and the artist absolutely nails the whole manga feel. It really helps sell the story.

Erin, I love that you wanna be the peacemaker, but hon, this is gonna bite you in the ass someday….

… when it can be arsed to bother.

Sadly, the game is often very lazy visually; we’re firmly in the land of “Tell, don’t show” here. There were WAY too many moments that would have benefitted immensely from some art to help support the story, but just presented text on a generic setting background.

That sounds exciting. Wonder what it looks like?

Sometimes, we don’t even get that much effort. Here’s the in-game still from the huge plot twist that comes about two-thirds of the way in:

Spoiler…?

And sometimes, the game opts to neither show NOR tell. At one point, I go to a party. Apparently, my dress is very pretty. Very, very pretty. Oh so distractingly pretty.

Not only is there no picture of me in this literally indescribably awesome dress, there’s not even a rudimentary attempt at a description. So I’m just gonna have to assume it’s made out of PVC with a neckline down to my navel.

Behold my official headcannon

So, yeah. The constant visual punts were a recurring source of frustration.

More problematic, however, was that the protagonist’s priorities were often so bizarre that they kept kicking me out of the story. I get that her concerns are not my concerns, but seriously, I just watched my entire squad become dragon chow! Why am I obsessing over my sword and not wondering whether any of my squadmates are alive or dead?!

Later on, a Bad Mystic Thing happens which clearly has implications for a major character — a ROMANCEABLE character, if I’m interpreting the game’s home page correctly. Lena expresses absolutely no interest in this until she has to. I still have no idea what that character’s fate was. I assume it’s not good.

Also, as a Templar of the Blue Rose, I have paladin powers! Occasionally. When the plot needs me to remember that I do. One would have thought that if my crew had magic powers, someone would have busted out something flashy when a dragon was trying to eat them.

The story is honestly littered with little details that don’t quite line up, what look like early-draft plot threads (like a suggestion that somebody may still be alive but taken by the dragon) that didn’t get developed for the final version but somehow still hung around.

The non-romance bits of the story just feel weird and half-baked. But I gotta give credit where it’s due; when it’s time to start forging connections with the other characters in this story, that’s when the game comes alive.

And it even feels like a game! I kept making choices and shit! And my choices seemed to matter! Who would I like to hang with? Who do I wanna get closer to? I get to decide that!

BEHOLD THE MAP OF PLAYER AGENCY

My only complaint here is that Tobias is a romanceable option, and FUCK NO. Look, I’m a dude, and I know that women sometimes get turned on by the thrill of winning over somebody who’s not into them, but … come ON. If Tobias’s never-ending firehose of disdain actually moistens your panties, then you’re the reason why pick-up artists can respond with “But it works!” when called out on the misogyny behind negging. This guy is an incel waiting to become a domestic abuse horror story. And he’s yours for the taking.

But other than that, honestly, the romantic bits felt solid. I followed one of the options to a conclusion, and I’m glad I did. (A very chaste conclusion, I might add. Totally legit artistic choice and who knows maybe one of the other paths includes graphic stills of me getting Eiffel-towered at the inn, but if you give this a try yourself, set your expectations to kid-friendly.) My love interest wound up endangered in a way that seemed very natural for the story being told AND made me want to get my ass out there and save them! I was engaged! I was invested! Fuck yeah!

Whatever its narrative failings, it’s a romance game that handles the romance part well. It didn’t do everything it was trying to do, but it nailed its core element, and didn’t waste my time in the process. If you’re more of a fan of the genre than I am, you might actually love it, so I can definitely give it a qualified recommendation.

Is this next game gonna let me kiss somebody?

Page 45, Game 11: Those Spacecrafts by DaGammla

“A fun acrade shooter”

I’m guessing no. Unless you count kissing some motherfuckin’ aliens with my DEATH LASER! The I expect some hard-core makeout sessions!

Justice Playthrough #194: Hooks And Shotguns

“Whoa. Right, I need to go easy on this one, don’t I. This is clearly an early-stage alpha-ish game that the dev probably put online just for their friends or something. I’m sure it’s downloadable for free–“

“Oh, FUCK you, dude.”

Page 55, Game 27: Hooks And Shotguns by FifthEdgeStudios

Right. So. This is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, reminiscent of Contra. In fact, in the Bad Place, all copies of Contra have been replaced by this game.

You can use the titular shotgun, which blasts a three-bullet spread, or you can use the titular hook, which does nothing. Your sprite changes to indicate you’re now holding a hook gun, but no amount of button-mashing caused it to do a single goddamn thing (and this game has nothing resembling a tutorial mode). So even though the dev considered it important enough to put in the title, the hook is not in the $5 release of the game.

The first time I tried playing this game, I found movement to be weirdly floaty and unsatisfying. There was one early mini-boss battle that I could simply rush past and ignore. In fact, when I went back to fight the mini-boss, I found it very difficult to FIGHT the fucker at all, as I kept drifting off the side of the screen and triggering loads of adjacent areas. But I stuck it out, because I wanted to see what would happen when I finally whittled down his health.

Answer: the game crashed, and rendered itself unplayable. Permanently unplayable, as far as I can tell. When I went back in to do a screenshot run, I found an unbreakable wall of indeterminate height standing between me and the rest of the game.

Actually, I think that wall is doing me a favor

Can’t jump over it, can’t climb it, shooting it is pointless. Everything about this is pointless.

Perhaps if I delete and re-expand the game, it will return to a state where it’s playable. I think I’ll do the first half of that.

I find it hard to imagine this doing brisk sales. But anybody who somehow actually purchased this game deserves a refund and and apology.

Will this next game not fill me with hostility towards whoever shared it with me?

Page 11, Game 9: Blue Rose by WhiteCat

“Fantasy romance visual novel”

Oh, dear. Is this an interactive “novel”? I’ve had really dreadful luck with those. But good news, WhiteCat: after Shotguns & Hooks, there is literally nowhere to go but up. And who knows, maybe it’ll be just a straightforward piece of fiction. The ones I’ve encountered in this trawl have, to my pleasant surprise, consistently not sucked. Here’s hoping.