A Star is Born - Galacticon (Steam) Review

 Relive the glory days of arcade gaming with Galacticon, a new game that combines the look and feel of classic 80's games like Defender and Joust

In the very distant future, mankind has at last finished with Earth. The landscapes are leveled, the mountains filled in, and no flowing rivers are left to pollute. Everything is nice and sterile as nature originally intended. Man's domination has achieved its goal and is now threatening neighboring planets with the same fate.

Out around the edges of the galaxy, a secret committee is meeting to prevent the Humans from expanding their inherently destructive nature. They call upon an ancient being, a God-like creature, called the Galacticon, to eliminate the threat and to restore balance.

 Relive the glory days of arcade gaming with Galacticon, a new game that combines the look and feel of classic 80's games like Defender and Joust

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Galacticon, by developer Radin Games and published by Flynn's Arcade Publishing, transforms players back to a time where arcades and shopping malls were prevalent and before the sense of wonder was lost.

The title is a marvelous throwback to the days when lighted marquees, pixel graphics, and monotone voice synthesizers were as recognizable as Micky Mouse and the Coke trademark logo.

Paying tribute to classic titles like Defender and Joust, Galacticon's opening levels passages are intense but somewhat routine as they're out of the basic barrel of 'kill and rescue survivors' clichés.

You take control of Galacticon, and through a fixed screen, maneuver left and right, destroying enemies, rescuing the planet's inhabitants, and placing them in transport ships. Once the transports are filled, you'll be prompted to fly upwards to the mother ship to unload your cargo and move on to the next level.

 Relive the glory days of arcade gaming with Galacticon, a new game that combines the look and feel of classic 80's games like Defender and Joust

Peas in a Pod

The rescue elements might be enough to make Galacticon a super fun action game. But what makes it more than that are the intangible dynamics inside the gameplay. For example, placing all the inhabitants of the same color in the same pod earns you top points, while mixing them up will earn you half.

And because you are only given three lives to start, every point is vital since the next extra life bonus is around the 200,000 mark. This itself makes Galacticon more than a shooter, it's a thinking man's shooting game as well.

And just like games of the past, it does not have an ending per se, so once you've complete the 8+ levels and the final boss, you replay the entire thing over, but this time with the difficulty ramped up considerably.

The game is simple enough that there isn't a second that goes by that isn't easy to understand especially for gamers old enough to remember the classics. If anyone will have difficulty understanding what makes Galacticon fun, it will be the modern players that have been trained to look at graphics over gameplay.

Players nowadays are bludgeoned by the choices they make, the spells they cast, and the weapons they choose. This game respects the deliberate nature of a forgotten genre slipping slowly back into the future.

 Relive the glory days of arcade gaming with Galacticon, a new game that combines the look and feel of classic 80's games like Defender and Joust

A Star is Born

The weight of the game obviously falls on the shoulders of its gameplay, and this is where it simply shines. Galacticon, isn't, by any stretch, a very profound game, nor does it try to be.

It is basically about an uncomplicated protagonist faced with an awesome, but uncomplicated, situation. Given a choice between the lives of Humans and the survival of the universe, he decides on the latter. Thankfully, there are a lot of people left to rescue and even more fun and excitement left to experience.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

I admit that I lost track of all the battles and invasions in the game. Dwarven Skykeep, by developer, Hack The Publisher, opens with a series of helpful tutorials and sequences which helps you understand the basic game mechanics.

After about a few hours in, however, I had a stark realization of how this game teeters between being very good to being just average. I'm not sure at what point did it meet at that crossroad, I just know that somewhere along the journey, it had lost it's way.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

The plot is simple stuff, spread fairly thin, in terms of events but portentous in terms of meaning. Our hero and head wizard, Sevendar Kness, lives barricaded behind an impenetrable triple locked tower, in a room that generates mana and other mysterious concoctions that only a wizard can conjure up. Sevendar himself is quirky, restless, partly paranoid, but for all intent and purposes, rather brilliant.

Around Sevendar are a handful of dwarves who are at his beck and call. Dwarves, like leprechauns are creatures of the public imagination. They don't bother anyone and go about their business building rooms, and structures, and being sent out to fight the invading goblins as long as you provide the brew.

Sevendar's main adversary is the evil-doer Warchief Poe, who inhabits the other side of Dwarven City just beyond the reach of one another. With a kingdom this large, one would assume both can live happily together, right? But that wouldn't be any fun. After all, fantasy games need to be lean and uncluttered to be fun. Reality is what is untidy.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

The Little Guys Don't Always Win

The gameplay mechanics in Dwarven Skykeep have been beefed up to appeal to players who have an interest in games combining strategy, RPG, tower defense, and deck building. By now, many of you will be familiar with these features, so I won't go into details about each one.

Essentially, you re-enforce your tower by building room to either side, top, and down of your structure. The rooms can be tailored to a specific role: a room to enchant the powers of Mana which will bring up your spell cards or a brewery to attract more dwarves to work for you.

Rooms can be created to craft items, like hammers, pick axes, to lessen repair times. Completing a level is mainly subjected as you have multiple option to completing them. You can literally complete a level just by putting out fires of draining a flood depending on the level.

But the game never hooks you the way the developers intended. The pacing is slow, the difficulty ramps up beyond your level making end battles extremely frustrating, and the deckbuilding elements don't play out as you expect them to. Yes, there are different environments to play on and there's a nice day and night cycle to view, but they are big effects hampered by lackluster game mechanics.

One problem is that the characters lack any type of appeal. As I mentioned above, Sevendar is a rather brilliant wizard, but he's to busy running up and down ladders and doing other things than being a wizard. The other characters are dull and lack any type of charisma. Sure, there are the occasional witty one-liners here and there, but it's was never enough to keep my attention.

The second problem, and perhaps the biggest, is Skykeep's balance. When the enemy attacks, fires usually rage throughout the tower, but it's difficult to put them out when the card you draw wants you to create tools instead of buckets of water. And this happens on numerous occasions which results in a game that is more frustrating than it needs to be and takes the fun out of the experience.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

Slay the Dwarves

There are a lot of good things about Dwarven Keeper, but it plays out more like a tower defense game than a true deck builder. It's a game you can enjoy in pieces, but the overall jigsaw never gets solved. I liked it, but Slay the Slayer is not. Let's hope more balancing tweaks are in the works.

An Epic Journey - Ghostlore (Steam) Review

Enter the eerie and dangerous world of Southeast-Asian folklore, where you must fight to survive against monsters inspired by myths and legends.

Ghostlore, by indie developers Adam and Andrew Teo, doesn't reinvent the AARPG genre as I had hoped it would. But then again, it's probably the last thing I expected from a game with a title like this.

While Ghostlore is a gem to play, it falters somewhat, and not because of the design itself, but due in large part to its genre; the Hero must be good, the villains must be bad, the world needs saving, and as a result, there's no room for nuances or special endings. But one thing it manages to accomplish is that it still gives players one heck of an adrenaline rush.

A Ghost With A Past

The story starts of with our hero who must save his mentor from the clutches of evil. When you pan around the first level, everything is engulfed in flames; the houses, the fields, the entire landscape has been turned into a blazing inferno.

You navigate through the broken pathway where you encounter a few goblins and what appears to be zombie-like scarecrows. You dispose of them rather quickly with your default weapon, a rusty but effective sword. You locate and save your mentor and he, in turn, gives you a compass that creates a portal to which the two of you are magically transported back to the main kingdom.

The land where you start is an eerie splendor of islands separated by a current of water. All of this is rendered beautifully by solid use of effects and shows the dichotomy of the two locations: one, a harsh and foreboding dark realm, and the other, an enchanted fairyland reminiscent of the Mushroom Kingdom in the Super Mario games.

The main hub is where your adventure begins. Following traditional mechanics from games like Diablo and Titan's Quest, our hero speaks with characters who offer quests to open the story. In the first few levels, you are sent to a neighboring land where you must retrieve a valuable trinket and dispose of an evil threat.

In this forbidding land, nothing lives, and it is thick with the blackened bones of dead trees as if the forest fires have only charred the greenery, leaving only the golden hue of wheat stalks. There are no other humans here only a slew of monsters confronting our Hero in a dramatic stare-down.

Additional creatures appear only when needed, then disappear back into the thick brush making the pace deliberate which allows for the discretion of exploration. Unlike Diablo's bottom dwelling creatures, Ghostlore employs magical beasts from Far East folklore.

There are no trolls, or ghostly coffin creepers, only little goblins, sadistic pigs, and mysterious mummy-like creatures wrapped in swaths of white linen. The story never goes into details of what these things are, but I guess it was a good idea as players can use their own imaginations to figure out what they are and where they came from.

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost

The gameplay is etched in the traditional seek, explore, destroy, and bring back type missions, but the highlight of Ghostlore lies in its robust skill system. Here, you command extraordinary supernatural powers, including the ability to materialize a bird that can fight alongside you or shards of blood that can penetrate through flesh.

You can build up your abilities by picking up items called Glyphs, which impact passive and special traits through a Tetris-style format. Choose a glyph that you want, place it in your skill tree and add the enhancements in the pattern. It's a very simple idea but holds powerful potential.

Since I consider myself to be an old-school gamer, my favorite feature is the graphics. The levels are an enchanting fairyland set in a pixel retro world, which is a triumph of art direction and design. Detailed decorative tombs and urns scamper and gambol in tribute to a cemetery scene straight out of a horror movie.

The in-game characters themselves are nicely designed, pale-skinned sprites with old, but wise faces. The spirit of the land is embodied by a great aura with expressive eyes and horns that spread in awesome complexity. The wonderful ambiance helps keep players moving along just to see what the next levels might look like.

As for the rest, the musical score and sound effects are enjoyable, and the controls are pretty decent, although the WASD movement was lacking. You can try playing with a standard controller, just make sure you enable it in the options menu. On the flip side, if you want to play using keyboard and mouse only, make sure to untick the box for controller, or else the entire screen goes wonky.

Next Level ARPG

Overall, Ghostlore offers a well-done gaming experience, but I can't help but wonder that somewhere deep is a much more broader game where greater complexity for the characters and quests development can be made.

But considering I walked into this expecting very little complexity at all, at least from the trailers and screenshots I've seen, I'm surprised by the positive experience. While Ghostlore may have a few shortcomings, it truly is a hidden gem.

Narrative Adventure Tails: The Backbone Preludes Coming to PC in February 2023

Eggnut and Raw Fury will release Tails: The Backbone Preludes on Steam on February 2. This prequel introduces a new series of stories surrounding four anthropomorphic animals in the post-noir dystopian vision of Vancouver brought to life in Backbone.

Players will experience a wealth of new gameplay elements, interactions, puzzles, and choices that will ripple throughout the narrative.

The prequel to the post-noir adventure Backbone lets players make branching decisions in the events leading up to the original game

Players will experience the narrative adventure game Tails: The Backbone Preludes, in which they guide four different characters through formative moments in their lives, set against a pixelized dystopian Vancouver inhabited by anthropomorphic animals.

As they traverse this post-noir narrative with branching choices, players will explore themes of change, circumstance, and consequence.

Key Features:

Tails: The Backbone Preludes is available to wishlist on Steam. To stay up to date on the game, please follow along at https://twitter.com/backbonegame.

This Copycat Vampire Survivor Game is Perhaps the Best One Out There

Brotato, the game by indie developer Blobfish Game Studios, is like nothing you've played before. It's a top-down rogue-lite arena shooter where instead of being some generic superhero with a gun, you're, well, a potato. Yes, an actual potato, armed to the teeth and ready to take on hordes of enemies hell-bent on making potato salad out of you.

Brotato, the game by indie developer Blobfish, is like nothing you've played before.

With fast and hectic game mechanics and accurate, responsive controls that make the action even more thrilling, you'll be in gaming heaven.

And the soundtrack...wow! It's got awesome tunes and sound effects that just adds another layer of fun to the already frantic gameplay.

With up to 6 weapons at your disposal, you can create unique builds and strategies while gathering items and traits as you fight off wave after wave of enemies until the timer runs out.

If you thought vegetables had no place in gaming, think again, cause in Brotato, not only do they come in all shapes and sizes, but they also come packing heat!

You can check out more of the game on Steam.

The Crackpet Show - A Rogue-Lite Game to Remember

The Crackpet Show - A Rogue-lite to Remember!

Have you ever wanted to be an animal? What about an animal that possesses the ability to shoot a rocket launcher? Well, The Crackpet Show by indie developer, Vixa Games gives you that opportunity and a whole lot more.

The Crackpet Show, as the title suggest, is a rogue-lite shoot’em-up game about mutated animals that fight in a bizarre TV show to crush their opponents with weapons that will make some third-country shudder.

As the start screen, you can select your favorite bestie, or beasties, in this case, gear them up and get ready for the ultimate showdown.

Have you ever wanted to be an animal with the ability to fire a rocket launcher? Well, The Crackpet Show gives you that opportunity and more!

Addictive as Crack

The game is action-packed and will have you hooked. From the get-go, you can choose from different beasts each with its own unique skills and abilities. You can then customize them with different items, skins, and enhancements that grant them special powers, like increased speed, temporary invulnerability, and attack power.

As you progress through the robust areas, you'll face bigger and more powerful enemies as well as bosses who are harder to defeat and hell bent on cancelling your contract. Of course, if you manage to survive to the end, you'll be rewarded with fame, fortune, and sweet sponsorship deals that will net you more unique items and upgrades.

The graphics are bright, vibrant, and very cartoon-like giving the game a very appealing look, especially to a younger audience. The only issue is that this game isn't intended for such a young crowd unless they like to see their favorite bunny splattered to death. The different caricatures, however, bring out the characters' personalities, from a rapid pig to a shark who appears to suffer from the mad-cow disease.

The animations are smooth and fluid, making it easy to control your pet while they blast their way through the levels and the sound effects adds to the atmosphere of craziness. Overall, the mix of upbeat music and sound effects make it fun to listen to while playing.

One nice feature is that there is plenty of replay value due to its rogue-like nature. Every time you play, or replay a level, for example, it's randomly generated so no two playthroughs will feel exactly alike. This feature keeps things fresh so even when you've beaten a certain area, you can go back and try again, but this time with better stats.

Plus, there are tons of weapon upgrades and achievements for completionists out there so even after beating all the levels, there’s still plenty left for them to explore.

Have you ever wanted to be an animal with the ability to fire a rocket launcher? Well, The Crackpet Show gives you that opportunity and more!

Whack Pack

So far all's well and good, right? Yes, mostly. Like other games of this genre, the game starts to get easy once you get a good build going. Still, I don't know quite what to say about this type of level design.

On one hand, it's quick and dynamically generated. On the second hand, each one seems easy to beat while the obligatory end-level boss is a hit-and-miss with some that can be defeated easily while others are just pure brutes.

Finally, let's talk about the co-op only mode. Now, conventionality isn't necessarily a strength and if the developers wanted to do a true co-op mode, they should have gone all in. Games like this almost always require on-line multiplayer to maximize its enjoyment.

Instead, Vixa Games erred on the side of familiarity and caution, and in the process, has left me with a game that I can only play by myself. Sure, I can do local co-op via split screen. But seriously, split screen? C'mon folks, it's 2022. We should get a real MP mode as the game deserves it.

Have you ever wanted to be an animal with the ability to fire a rocket launcher? Well, The Crackpet Show gives you that opportunity and more!

Gong Show Plus

All in all, however, The Crackpet Show is a really fun game full of action-packed combat and bright visuals that will keep players engaged for hours on end despite its lack of true co-op mode.

So, whether you're looking for a casual gaming experience or something more intense where every playthrough offers something new, this is a game worth checking out.

Stellar! Void Scrappers (PC) Steam Review

Stellar! Void Scrappers (PC) Steam Review

Indie developers are, for the most part, the silent center of attention behind big AAA developers. They say little, but flex their muscles and keep their eyes alert, and sooner or later, a few of them will unleash a game that will surprise the gaming public.

That's why it's interesting and even a little unsettling to find a game that's so addictive that I have to wonder why this idea hasn't really caught on before. To be quite honest, I didn't expect the Void Scrappers to sweep those who've played it off their feet, but that's what the gameplay does. And it does it with a certain rugged grace. 

I wrote my initial impressions of the game on a piece of paper, noting the following, "it is a simple game, wrapped in addiction, inside a simple premise." The gameplay fascinates you at the moment and getting from one level to the next is tricky, but it does it so that you're almost oblivious to time.

Void Scappers - Steam Review

One Man's Trash...

The story in Void Scrappers is hardly original, but I do know that in a parallel universe the galaxy as a whole has gone to the garbage and that scraps of metal are the most prized commodities. The only problem is that in order to obtain scraps, you'll need to blast them out of the enemy ships.

In short, the more enemy ships you destroy, the more scraps you can collect. Like all games of this genre, Void Scrappers' premise is for the player to survive for as long as possible against wave after wave of relentless enemy attacks.

Of course, with every level, there's the obligatory end-level boss who's a bit faster and stronger than the rest and can take much more damage than most enemy ships combined.

Fortunately, you can upgrade your ships in two ways: collect enough scraps to power up your basic traits or defeat bosses to level up your weapons. Either way, you'll need every upgradeable path to take on the most hardened of bosses later on in the game.

Void Scappers - Steam Review

Space Jockeys

Character selection is robust and you have a choice of different pilots to choose from, who in turn, possess different skills and attributes, as well as personalities. There's not much information revealed about these hired guns which adds a deeper sense of mystery and intrigue.

In their younger days, I presume, they may have been law enforcement officers, happily spending their time handing out tickets and enforcing the rule of law upon the galaxy.

Now, they are millions of miles from home, casually sitting in a grungy-filled bar waiting for their next job with their looks indicating that they've seen better days.

To the developer's credit, Void Scrappers is a more entertaining game, to me at least, than Vampire Survivors, because it takes place in space which provides a deeper challenge since you can incorporate other variables to make the game more challenging, such as asteroids, meteors, and space debris.

Even though none of these are present in the game, there's the possibility that they can be added later via a sequel or DLC.

Void Scappers - Steam Review

Don't Avoid the Void

The weight of the game obviously falls on the shoulders of gameplay. Here, I feel Void Scrapper has better combat strategies because it paces itself slower and more deliberately than other rogue-like games out there.

While other titles will try to overwhelm you from the start, Void Scrappers eases you ever so slowly until you've leveled up enough to stand a fighting chance.

Good movies also mimic this approach and it should be no surprise that good games follow. It's this type of pacing that provides good-honest fun because doing it in reverse would just spoil and totally ruin the build-up.

Overall, Void Scrappers is definitely a game worth getting, especially if you're a fan of fast-paced shooters. And at just under $5, you'll certainly be getting much more value here than with most games that cost considerably more.

Can AI Computers Be Smarter Than The People That Made Them?

In this article, we will look at some examples of what today’s best-performing AIs can do and why they got those results. Then, we will discuss whether it is possible for future AIs to outperform these current state-of-the-art systems.

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has become one of the biggest buzzwords in technology. With every passing day, we see more applications for this technology, from chatbots to self-driving cars.

Even something so small and practical as smartphones have advanced features that use some sort of internal AI software or neural network to function.

The Art of Learning

But does AI think or can it really think beyond its capabilities? Well, we know that there are two main theories about how AI works, so let's get to it. The first is called connectionist theory, which says that an algorithm models relationships between inputs and outputs.

In other words, information that goes in comes out with pre-determined results. This theory, while widely supported, was popularized by psychologist Daniel Kahneman in his book, 'Thinking Fast and Slow'.

The second theory is referred to as computationalism, which assumes that computers work via algorithms just like people do and thus there’s no special 'intelligence' involved.

In short, AI takes the concept of approaching a problem in a pragmatic or common sense way, thus the result is as close to what a human being would do. So regardless of how 'smart' or 'advanced' a computer might be, its limitations will always be with how robust its algorithm is.

With that being said, AI in general, cannot process thoughts the way humans can without giving them more direction, at least for now.

Many skeptics, however, believe that computer programs already possess intelligent behavior, so they argue that it is possible for AIs to be smarter than today’s most sophisticated algorithms. Others think that even if AIs could eventually achieve true general intelligibility, it would take them forever to get there.

While we're on the topic, we will also address the question of whether humans are inherently limited computationally due to our limited biological nature.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

No Need to be a Smart

Technically speaking, artificial intelligence (AI) does not allow for AIs to be smarter than humans. This is because an algorithm can never think about thinking; think about that for a second, and how impactful that statement is.

That's because an algorithm must always focus on discrete tasks or functions alone.

An example of this would be if there was an AI program that needed to learn how to play chess. It would have to stop learning how to move pieces and instead start studying concepts like statistics, algebra, and pre-determination, such as what its next move or moves will be.

This isn’t to say that creating intelligent machines is impossible, but it will take much more effort and research in engineering and computer science to make it fruition.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

Who's Smarter?

Recent developments in computer science have given rise to something called deep learning. Deep neural networks are computational models that can learn complex patterns from data, making it possible to program computers to perform tasks automatically.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just about giving computers simple commands to complete specific things. Now we can give them more complicated instructions to recognize patterns and identify logical concepts.

By incorporating algorithms like these into devices, technology becomes increasingly intelligent. For example, when someone uploads a picture onto social media, the software will apply advanced techniques such as deep learning to determine what kind of object or scene the image contains.

This will then produce descriptive features for this object or concept, which others have already researched and can use to understand what was contained in the photo as well.

Another area where deep learning has improved greatly is natural language processing. Technology now exists that can analyze human speech and written material with accuracy far beyond anything available just decades ago

With ever-growing amounts of data, an AI can find correlations and patterns across an unimaginable amount of information. This helps make machines become even smarter, as they’re able to connect ideas and concepts together much faster than the human brain can.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

They Are Getting Smarter

Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have brought to light that even computers can now perform tasks beyond what we, as humans, can do or hope to do. This is called deep learning or neural network technology.

Neural networks work by having multiple layers of nodes connected to each other. Nodes at one level learn how to perform simple tasks (think about how your body has neurons that connect to muscles), and then those skills are applied to another layer to achieve more complex functions.

The key difference between this method and earlier AI techniques like symbolic logic or rule-based systems is that it does not require programmed rules or steps to be inputted manually, hence, results are almost always dynamically determined, but with accuracy.

AI learns from examples given to it so that it can figure out its own rules and procedures for performing tasks. So the more problems we ask AI computers to solve, the more competent it becomes in that field. Scientists theorize that at some point, AI will be able to complete a set of tasks on their own, even mundane ones such as making a cup of coffee or watering plants, without being told to.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

They (AI) Will Always Be Smarter

Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have raised many questions about whether or not computers are intelligent enough to take over some of our daily tasks. This has got people thinking about how long it will take for machines to completely usurp human dominance, if ever.

One of the most common arguments against this is that humans make up around 2% of all living organisms, while computer programs only account for 0.01% of all life forms here on Earth. Therefore, it is impossible for computers to achieve true intelligence unless they grow beyond this size.

This argument may hold water, but there’s one major problem with it, we already live in a world where technology functions as an integral part of our lives.

According to Harvard Business School, this integration will continue to accelerate at a breakneck pace and calls this phenomenon digital disruption, and he predicts that it will happen within his own lifetime.

So what does this mean for you and for us? Well, eventually your job will be done by a program or at least something equivocal to it. While this may sound scary now, don’t worry, digital disruption won’t necessarily result in mass unemployment. On the contrary, it can open up whole new areas of employment for talented professionals who have advanced training in software.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

It's a Hard Question to Answer

Over the past few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the media almost constantly. Almost every major news outlet features at least an article about it at this moment. Technology companies use it for products and services, creating talk about whether or not it is needed.

Many people have their own opinions about what AI will do and how it works. Some believe that it will take over the world, while others think it can be used for good only.

A lot of the time, though, these discussions seem more focused on who made the machine “smart” rather than if they are really smart themselves. This seems weird because we as humans understand how intelligent things are!

We know that dolphins are extremely intelligent and that some birds are clever too. Even some primates show advanced abilities like using tools and learning from experiences.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

Some Experts Say Machines will Always be Smarter

On a technical note, this is not an impossible feat as there have been several studies that prove it is possible to create computers that can be as intelligent or even more intelligent than their human creators.

In fact, some researchers claim that this is already happening with something we refer to as “neural networks.” These systems use algorithms and software programs inspired by how humans learn and process information to achieve intelligence.

Neuroscientists, for example, study brain functions so they know what makes people smart. They take these concepts and apply them to computer software programs in order to create technology that mimics human thinking patterns.

A neural network then learns by example just like you or I would. Rather than being taught facts, however, it comes across examples of things that make sense and then picks up additional knowledge from there.

It also uses feedback to determine if new information makes sense and therefore incorporated into its internal data or memory bank.

Can AI computers be smarter than the people that made them?

As This Point, We Will Never Know

Technically speaking, there is already intelligent software that can outperform humans in certain domains, like playing chess or math games, but these programs are designed by human beings and then improved through evolutionary processes.

There is no way to tell if an artificial intelligence program has surpassed its creators in intelligent thinking. If we ever find out, it would be through sheer chance, and perhaps, something that happens very little even in the field of computer science.

We can make some assumptions about what makes someone smarter than another person, but none of them are definitive. People who have won a Nobel Prize for their work are considered smart, so why not use this as our benchmark? After all, Alfred Nobel was clever enough to come up with dynamite.

There’s also Albert Einstein, one of the most well-known physicists of all time. He consistently amazed people with his insights, which made him quite popular. Unfortunately, he always refused to share these secrets because he thought they were too advanced.

A few other famous individuals like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates managed to stay anonymous until later in life when they revealed themselves. They both had strong leadership qualities that allowed them to inspire others around them, making them seem much more knowledgeable, and obviously, more successful.

PixelArt Interpretation: Autumn Leaves

Title: Autumn Leaves
Artist: @prantare
Twitter: https://twitter.com/prantare/status/1597010746399129601

Standing before this old house surrounded by trees with their leaves gently floating down upon its roof is a truly magical experience.

This breathtaking image is a beautiful tapestry of oranges, yellows, and browns, with each hue forming a distinct pattern yet blending seamlessly together.

I can almost feel the gentleness of the leaves as they rustle against the roof creating a calming reminder of the cycle of life.

From the leaves that once grew and flourished in the Spring, to their death and rebirth every Fall.

At this moment, you feel a deep sense of tranquility and peace as the beauty of nature comes into focus. It is a special sight that represents a place where one can find solace and peace in the ever-changing seasons.

This one scene will stay in my heart and mind for a long time.

PixelArt Interpretation: Not Giving Up

Title: Not Giving Up
Artist: @Anfuncanny Twitter: https://twitter.com/Anfuncanny/status/1589689986546180096

There is something incredibly beautiful and moving about someone who is hopeless in their pursuit of true love, but who nonetheless, continues to pursue it with all their heart. Here, our little friend stands awkwardly against the backdrop of overgrown foliage, holding wilted flowers in his hands as he shyly approaches the home of someone he truly cares for.

He acts with timid hesitation, and yet, there is something immensely brave and noble about him. In the face of rejection, he continues to hope for the best and the possibility of finding love, even though he realizes, he may never find it.

The person receiving this attention, on the other hand, may look upon our little friend with compassion and understanding. She may see him as a kindred spirit, as someone who knows what it is like to search for something that she herself, may never find. She may see him in the beauty of hope and in a brief moment, these two may be able to see the world through each other's eyes.

Regardless of the outcome, always remember that whether we succeed or fail, sometimes, the most important thing is just having the courage to try.

PixelArt Interpretation: The Pond

Title: Pond
Artist: @smolodev

The still surface of the pond mirrors the serenity of the surrounding landscape, with red rose petals floating gracefully atop its crystal-clear waters. Yet something is strangely missing in this idyllic scene; the presence of life, as not a single fish or aquatic creature can be found swimming beneath the water's mirrored surface.

I suppose it is in this absence of movement and clutter that true peace can be found. A somber place that transcends fleeting moments of activity, and instead, dwells in a state of tranquil stillness.

Each red flora, symbolize this stillness, with its beauty amplified by its solitude, as the soft ripples they create gently disturb the calm surface. Just beneath the water, reflects the shimmering shadows that hide upon its facade, like drops of blood staining an otherwise pure canvas.

This type of serenity, perhaps, reminds us to slow down and take time to savor these quiet moments of peace brought to us by the beauty that only life and nature can provide.

You can read more of my PixelArt Interpretations here.

Art Interpretation: Little Girl Gazing

As I look at this image of this innocent little girl with her curly hair tied on both sides of her head, I am inspired by the endless possibilities etched into the curiosity on her face. She looks up at the sky with wonder, perhaps dreaming of what she can do or become in life.

The portrait here serves as a reminder that every child, regardless of race, color, or background has the potential to reach for their dreams and achieve greatness. The limitless expanse above her serves as a metaphor for how high they can soar if they are given equal opportunity, support, and access to resources.

This image captures both the innocence and determination of youth, reminding us all to strive for a world where every child is supported in reaching their fullest potential. This little girl's gaze is a testament to not letting any obstacles hold us back from chasing our own aspirations and making our own mark on the world.

PixelArt Interpretation: Adopt Me?

Title: Adopt Me?
Artist: @AemAsca

As the young girl kneels on the ground, staring into the cardboard box, we can't help but feel a flood of emotions going through us. Within the confines of that small space, a gentle head peers over and waits to be welcomed into a loving home.

The words "Adopt Me?" written on the box not only call out to the little girl but to anyone who sees this scene unfold before them. With those subtle words, we are reminded of our immense capacity to love and to do so with compassion, and how even the smallest of God's creatures can touch our hearts in so many ways.

And yet, this simple image also highlights the harsh reality of animal overpopulation, homelessness, and cruelty as each year countless animals find themselves abandoned and without a permanent home to call their own.

As we witness this little girl's desire to offer refuge and care for this small creature, we are faced with the following question: what can we do to help more animals find their forever homes? This touching scene serves as a reminder that every gesture counts and that we have the power to make a difference in an animal's life.

Indie Recommendation: Moons of Darsalon

Early Impressions

The moon is always full in Darsalon! So party it up with your friends, and don't forget to bring a picnic blanket and a compass since you'll be going where no man has gone before. A telescope and some courage are welcome too since you might catch a glimpse of some intergalactic shenanigans as you traverse upward toward the skies or down deep into the caverns of the underground.

Koochy, Koochy, Koo!

Moons of Darsalon, by indie developer Dr. Kucho! Games is the next installment in the Darsalon series, (the first one being Pilots of Darsalon) and presents players with the task of rescuing a mining team lost on one of the moons orbiting the foliage-rich planet of Darsalon. The premise, as you can imagine might sound easy, until you realize the group you have to save have a combined IQ of a doorknob. But hey, that's what makes the game utterly fun and hilarious at the same time.

The first time I booted up the game, I was eerily reminded of the first few levels of Earthworm Jim, with its pixelated graphics and soft hues in colors. The actual gameplay, however, feels reminiscent of classic platforming and puzzle-solving games like Lemmings where the game challenges players to think strategically and use their abilities in creative ways to bring the mining team back safely.

But beyond just being an entertaining and charming experience, Moon of Darsalon also evokes feelings of nostalgia with its retro graphics and brilliant musical score. In a sea of big-budget blockbuster games, this one took me by surprise and it stands out as a refreshing and unique achievement in indie gaming. While the demo has its quirks, like resolution and controller issues, I still found the experience to be quite addicting, leaving me wanting to play more.

Bring Me Home, Baby!

Playing Moons of Darsalon not only brought me loads of fun, but it also gave me a sense of nostalgia for those classic games that I loved growing up. I would highly recommend this game to anyone looking for an exciting platforming and puzzle-solving experience. With its addicting gameplay and throwback feel, Moons of Darsalon is definitely a title to keep your eyes on.

We'll have more on Moons of Darsalon as it gets closer to release.


Is Dr. Kucho! Games the real name of the developer?

Yes! According to his bio, Dr. Kucho! was/still is a well-regarded Spanish house DJ who is now tinkering in the world of video game design. How cool is that?

You said Moons of Darsalon reminded you of Earthworm Jim, I think you meant to say Abe's Oddysee, perhaps?

No, pal. Aesthetically, the game reminds me a lot of Earthworm Jim. Gameplay-wise, it does have elements of Abe's Oddysee with its command prompts. So, yeah, you're half right.

The game looks cool, When is it scheduled for release?

According to the Steam page, the target release is aimed at the 1st Quarter of 2023.

Pixel Art Interpretation: This Old PC

The old PC sits neglected and forgotten, covered in dirt and vines, and yet, despite its dilapidated exterior, it still somehow manages to function. With a snap of a finger, the monitor flickers to life, displaying a game that transports the player to a world unimaginably different from the one in which the machine resides.

As I gaze upon this PC, it continues to perform its designated task and I cannot help but think about the power of technology. In a single moment, it can whisk us away from our current reality and transport us to an entirely new world full of boundless possibilities. And yet, as time marches forward and newer technology emerges, we so often cast aside our old, but loyal machines without a second thought.

This old and forgotten PC serves as a poignant reminder that just because something may appear outdated and tarnished on the outside, it does not mean that it has lost its value or purpose on the inside. So let us remember not to discard those who are no longer shiny or new, for they too, in their own humble ways, possess their own unique beauty and worth.

Something Old, Something New - EX-Zodiac (Steam) Review

Another Galaxy to Save

In the vast expanse of outer space, there exists a star system known as Sanzaru. Within the Sanzaru star system, and under the control of the ruthless Zodiac organization, its worlds have descended into chaos and oppression.

But there is hope – one lone hero rises to challenge Zodiac’s dominion: Kyuu, pilot of the phenomenal Ex-Zodiac spacecraft. As you embark on a thrilling rail shooter journey through 6 stunning galaxies, you'll turn the tide in your favor against overwhelming odds.

Haven't I Seen You Before?

From the moment you start playing EX-Zodiac, by indie developer MNKY, you'll raise your eyebrows and smirk to yourself, "Hmm, I think I've played this one before." And to no one's surprise, you probably have. EX-Zodiac pays tribute to Nintendo's Star Fox and it does it in a grand way. With crisp graphics, blazing-fast gameplay, and sound effects so identical to the original, you'd swear someone snuck a SNES console inside your PC.

From the get-go, it’s clear that no two levels are the same. As you fight your way through each level, waves of enemy ships threaten to take you down. But with quick reflexes and strategic thinking, you use your weapons, missiles, and smart bombs to take them down one by one. And just when things start to feel a bit too easy, a boss battle awaits at the end of each level – presenting an even greater challenge.

These bosses, ranging from massive robots to unknown extraterrestrial beings, will test every skill you possess as a player. With six levels available at launch and plans for twelve more in future updates, there is plenty of gameplay to keep you entertained. But each level brings forth new challenges and opportunities for growth as a player, creating an immersive and addicting experience as you dive into this fast-paced world where every second counts, and victory is all but guaranteed.

star fox and ex-zodiac meet

Aesthetically Retro

In an industry saturated with hyper-realistic graphics, EX-Zodiac stands out for its retro appeal. The colors are lush and vibrant, reminiscent of the games during the 16-bit era. Yet, this game is not simply a case of going for the nostalgic aesthetic, but creating the attention to detail in each pixel so clearly that it creates a carefully crafted world all its own.

Like the original Star Fox, the ship models, both yours and the enemies, are animated smoothly, and the background art is rich and imaginative with rolling mountains, snow-covered landscapes, and asteroids that break into pieces when fired upon. EX-Zodiac’s graphics may harken back to the glory days of the past, but they also show a mastery of form and function that elevates them beyond mere nostalgia.

The end-level bosses are imaginatively created and each has its own strengths and vulnerabilities. Exploiting where each of the weak spots is and how to attack them becomes the challenge. But once you become accustomed to where their weaknesses are, you'll have no problems taking them head-on.

In a time often fixated on pushing technology to its limits, it is refreshing to see a developer embrace simplicity and style with such finesse and deliberate pacing that it genuinely proves that sometimes less truly is more.

nintendo's star fox and ex-zodiac meet

Keep the Chatter Going

When you have the sound cranked up high, the sound elements truly add to the immersive experience. The soundtrack is booming with bass that perfectly complements the action on screen, and each sound effect is precise and impactful. It almost feels as if a full orchestra is playing in sync with the player’s actions.

But it’s not just about sheer volume or quantity either, the sound design also adds nuance to the game world and its characters. The subtle rumble of your ship's engine as it goes into hyperspeed mode, the unsettling screech of a monster, or the triumphant blast of a powerful weapon all enhance the atmosphere and bring greater depth to the gameplay. The game's implementation of sound, music and sound effects showcases the developer's masterful level of attention.

nintendo's star fox and ex-zodiac meet

You Had Me at Controls

As good as the sounds are, the controls in EX-Zodiac truly enhance the gaming experience. The tight, responsive, and intuitive motions allow for smooth movement of your ship, making you feel like a real pilot. What’s more, the addition of true mouse support adds another level of precision and accuracy, allowing for more precise movements and attacks. I actually did better using the mouse, so kudos to the developer for making this happen.

Each button serves its purpose effectively without feeling cluttered or overwhelming, elevating gameplay to new heights. Performing barrel rolls in the original Star Fox was difficult for me to do as a kid, but it's simple enough here with a simple press of a button. It’s clear that a lot of care and thought was put into creating these controls, ultimately creating an immersive and enjoyable gaming experience.

Kinks in the Armor

While EX-Zodiac may have sparked excitement for its futuristic, fast-paced gameplay and stunning graphics, it falls short in a few key areas. The biggest issue lies with the enemy’s uncanny accuracy. For example, no matter where you are on the screen, the enemy always seems to have laser aim, making it difficult to find any safe haven. to avoid their attacks. There are also Space Harrier-type bonus stages thrown in between levels, but those seem to feel out of place in the grand context of the game.

This becomes especially frustrating when combined with the breakneck speed of the game as trying to aim amidst all of the chaos is a very challenging feat. Another caveat to consider is that the game, like many others in this niche, is relatively on the short side and once you've played the game all the way through, there's a very little enticement to do it again.

While the game may offer impressive visuals and satisfying moments of victory, it’s ultimately hindered by these minor flaws. Keep in mind that the game is still in Early Access, so a lot of things can change or be added between now and its official release.

nintendo's star fox and ex-zodiac pc steam game review

A Worthy Successor

Overall, I really enjoyed my flight time with the game. EX-Zodiac is a nostalgic joyride back to the golden age of arcade gaming, especially for those who are big fans of Star Fox or just enjoy rail shooters in general. With its retro graphics and familiar gameplay mechanics, the game is a perfect example of how to do things right as it manages to capture the spirit of classic titles while offering new challenges to test players’ skills.

Despite its minor shortcomings, and I really do mean minor, EX-Zodiac remains a fun and exhilarating experience that anyone looking for some old-school arcade action would do well to give this game a try.

At the end of the day, it may not bring any major innovations to the gaming industry, but it delivers pure entertainment in spades. It's also very refreshing to know that in a time where big-budget blockbusters dominate the market, sometimes all we need is a simple indie game that allows us to relive our past experiences and just have a blast and that’s exactly what EX-Zodiac provides.


Where can I purchase EX-Zodiac?

You can purchase the game on Steam for $9.99

Who is the developer and publisher of EX-Zodiac?

MNKY is the developer and PixelJam is the publisher

You wrote about the limited replayability. Is there no additional content in the game?

As I wrote, the game is still in Early Access, so a lot of additional content will be available when it is officially released. My review was based on the current game build.

Fun Fact:

As I was playing Ex-Zodiac, someone walked up behind me and asked, "How'd you get Star Fox to play on your PC?"

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PixelArt Interpretation: Godzilla

At first glance, the image of Godzilla standing tall in a destroyed city may evoke fear and destruction. However, upon closer examination, it can also be seen as a symbol of rebirth and renewal.

The ruins in the background represent the crumbling of old systems and ways of thinking, making way for new growth amidst the ashes. Godzilla's energy breath, traditionally a source of destruction, represents the unleashing of pent-up power and potential. In this sense, Godzilla serves as both a warning and a mirror, showing us the potential consequences of our actions if we do not change our ways.

Though frightening, it is also undeniably exhilarating to witness this force of nature in all its majesty. As we gaze upon Godzilla amidst the fiery glow of a setting sun, we are reminded that there is always an opportunity for change and growth, even in the face of overwhelming power and turmoil.

Godzilla Has Nothing on These Monsters! Terror of Hemasaurus (Steam) Review

CAUTION: Do not play this game if you're scared of monsters, loud noises, or having your city destroyed.

Terror of Hemasaurus by indie developer Loren Lemcke offers a nostalgic yet fresh take on the old-school arcade classics like "Rampage" and "King of the Monsters". In this version, players have the opportunity to embody monstrous giants and wreak havoc on a retro-inspired cityscape as they smash buildings, fend off military attacks, and devour hapless citizens. The game explores themes of power and destruction and leaves a chaotic waste of pixels behind.

The bright cartoonish graphics provide a striking contrast to the dark undertones in its narrative, leading players to question their choices and motives. The story starts with, of all things, a global warming event that suddenly awakens giant monsters from centuries ago, and these behemoths only have one thing on their mind: destroy all human life on Earth.

Explosive Pixel Devastation

Aesthetically, Terror of Hemasaurus looks great. The use of pixels in graphic design has a unique ability to transport us back in time, evoking nostalgic memories of joystick-wielding days spent in front of the television. Yet, while the pixel may conjure thoughts of retro gaming, it also allows for the creation of vibrant and dynamic designs in that each tiny pixel serves as a building block for larger images, which when combined, create a kaleidoscope of color and motion.

From this standpoint, ToH lends itself well to bold, contrasting hues that pop out on the screen with dazzling vibrance. But its real power, however, lies in its potential for multifaceted compositions, as there is no limit to the level of detail and depth that can be achieved through pixel manipulation. For example, every destruction, every collapsed building, and every drop of pixel blood is done to near perfection. The graphics here may have roots in antiquity, but their modern applications are truly limitless.

Slap Helicopters and Eat Humans

Once you start laying Terror of Hemasaurus, the arcade action comes alive in a whole new way, and true to the original Rampage arcade game, this one also supports a four-player local co-op. In single-player mode, you control a monster that unleashes terror upon cities and their inhabitants, throwing punches at skyscrapers and even using butt slams and dropkicks to topple them to the ground.

The game is viewed and played like a side-scroller as you constantly move from left to right destroying and leveling everything in your path. You progress through multiple stages with each one presenting new challenges as you kick cars out of your way and cause destruction on an epic scale. Ultimately, the game offers more than just arcade action, in that it provokes thought on our own relationships with power and control.

I Am Terror Hear Me Roar

While some video games fall short in the audio department, ToH excels in creating a fully immersive soundscape. The growls and roars of the titular behemoths are enough to send shivers down your spine, while the satisfying crunch and explosion of buildings as they collapse adds to the exhilaration.

Even the background noises contribute to the game's atmosphere, immersing players in cities teeming with panicked civilians and scrambling military forces. The meticulous attention to detail in the sound design truly elevates and enhances the overall gaming experience and it's clear that a great deal of thought and effort went into perfecting these audio elements, resulting in a dynamic and atmospheric auditory experience.

Monster Smash

The controls are, to put it mildly, very instinctive. Each button press, joystick movement, and trigger pull feels fluid and intuitive, allowing players to dive right into the action without having to fumble with complicated controls. And yet, despite its simplicity, these controls manage to encompass a vast array of moves and abilities for each of the character's abilities.

Each frenzied battle becomes a carefully choreographed dance as players effortlessly execute devastating combos and strategic maneuvers. Truly, the controls in this game exemplify the perfect balance between simplicity and depth as they allow players to fully immerse themselves in the thrill of combat without becoming overwhelmed or distracted.

In many ways, the controls, graphics, and sound effects serve as an embodiment of the essence of gaming: to lose oneself completely in a virtual world where everything else fades away. Kudos to the developer for taking these key composites and making them work so effortlessly.

Getting a Beat Down

The game offers players a thrilling, high-stakes adventure as they battle to save the world from political factions waging war over resources in a climate change-ravaged environment. However, while the gameplay may be solid and the storyline timely, there are some minor issues worth mentioning. First, is that the pacing can feel repetitive at times, with players consistently facing off against the same enemy types in each level.

Second, certain elements of the story resolution can feel forced and contrived and though it addresses important themes such as environmental destruction, its treatment of these topics could have been less nuanced and less impactful. Overall, the game does present an entertaining gaming experience with a relevant premise but does have room for improvement.

Destructive But Lovable

As I completed the final level levels, a wave of exhilaration and nostalgia washed over me. And despite encountering some repetitive gameplay elements throughout my journey, the overall experience was pure arcade fun that I have not felt since the 16-bit days. Add to that the unique blend of strategy and intense action that kept me glued to the edge of my seat until the very end. While not without its flaws, Terror of Hemasaurus ultimately succeeds in what it set out to do: to deliver sheer fun and entertainment.


Where can I purchase Terror of Hemasaurus?

You can purchase the game on Steam for $12.99

Who's the developer and what other game(s) has he/she done?

The developer is Loren Lemcke and other games under his credit include Super Blood Bowl Hockey and Over 9000 Zombies

I've heard that the game has some sort of political message, specifically one on climate change. Is that true?

There's a reference to climate change in the intro, but to be quite honest with you, our political beliefs flew out the window the second we started smashing down skyscrapers.

Pixel Art Interpretation: A Cold Beer

Before us, is a mug of cold beer, with its frothy white foam cascading over the rim, which can symbolize so much. It represents, to me, the basic human need for nourishment and satisfaction, as well as the beauty and simplicity of enjoying a cold beverage on a hot day.

But it also represents something deeper, as the bonds that can be formed over a shared love of beer and the camaraderie that comes with sharing a drink with friends. When you look at this piece of art, It is a reminder to slow down and savor each moment, each sip, each taste of rich malt and hops.

The overflowing foam serves as a visual metaphor for the overflowing joy and contentment that can only come from simply indulging in a cold brew at the end of a long day. Within that foamy mug lies, not just refreshment, but also connection and meaning.

Art Interpretation: Medusa

Medusa, with her serpentine locks and deadly gaze, represents the duality of women, as creatures and seductresses, nurturers, and destroyers.

Medusa, with her serpentine locks and deadly gaze, represents the duality of women, as creatures and seductresses, nurturers, and destroyers. Throughout history, she has been demonized for her power and sexuality, deemed a monster for exerting control over her own body and destiny.

Yet, is it not men who fear and revile her, who try to confine her within the narrow confines of their own limited understanding? Medusa's true power lies in her refusal to be reduced to a mere object of male desire or domination. She challenges societal norms and upends expectations, refusing to conform to society's standards of femininity and beauty.

In many ways, Medusa represents the strength and independence that all women inherently possess. So let us embrace Medusa in all her fearsome beauty, for she represents the power of women to defy expectations and carve out their path in a world that seeks to silence them.