Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, December 4, 2008




Flashgames Series

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Remember the Where's Waldo books? For those who missed out on this treasure, it's a comic series by Martin Handford featuring crowd illustrations where you have to scan a very detailed picture in order to find Waldo (“Wally” in Portugal and Brazil, “Charlie” in France, “Holger” in Denmark, and so on) a skinny, bespectacled tourist in a distinctive red-striped shirt. The series was very popular in the 90's, and was even adapted into a television series, and video games.

Hidden-object flash-games take that concept and add a few more puzzle elements to ensure hours of fun. Let's take a look at three such games.

Dream Day Wedding
The first of the Dream Day series by Oberon Games, this game follows a wedding theme, where the player takes on the role of bride Jenny's best friend. The main gameplay features detailed scenes from retail outlets like the florist, the baker, the jeweler, etc. and inventories of objects that the player must find before the time runs out. There are also several mini-games, like the Perfect Match, a memory card game that you play in order to gain enough points to unlock the perfect honeymoon for Jenny; as well as the Choose a Story section, where you select scenarios that make influences the game's storyline.

Progress through the game is recorded in the format of a wedding scrapbook full of photos and mementos, with each turn of the page revealing a new challenge. The Hints system comes in the form of a Cupid who reveals the location of an item by shooting an arrow at it. The artwork, like the theme is softly sophisticated, and the soundtrack is a soothing selection of classics by Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach, which really lends ambience to the game.

Other games in the series: Dream Day Honeymoon, Dream Day First Home

If the frills of planning a wedding seem too fussy and feminine for you, you might want to try out Anarchy Entertainment's Redrum. Definitely NOT something to be played in front of kids, the storyline features Rose, a disturbed young girl who claims to hear voices. Dr. Sigmund Fraud, a crooked psychiatrist who tries to milk expensive medical bills from Rose's wealthy father. There's only one problem: aside from hearing voices, Rose really doesn't seem that sick, so Fraud has to keep convincing the father that Rose is sick enough to continue his expensive treatments. Rose's uncle, however, who happens to be a detective, smells a rat at the asylum. What's more, the "imaginary friends" that Rose talks to give her information that she's able to pass on to her uncle to help him crack the murder cases he's investigating.

The main gameplay involves the inventoried rooms that Rose's uncle needs to search for clues. Mini-games include anagrams that reveal the answer to cracking the case, puzzles to help you foil Dr Fraud's attempts to make Rose sicker, as well as unique hidden object twist where instead of searching for items, the scene itself is divided into mosaic-like tiles and you're given a list of tiles to match.

The graphics are pretty gory, featuring gruesome crime scenes, a lot of blood and bones, and ghostly images and all this is complemented by a creepy soundtrack that features a chilling instrumental version of 'Nature Boy'.

Other crime-based games to try out: Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate.

Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold
If horror isn't your thing, and you want to do more than just click around for items on a list, then Treasure Seekers: Visions of Gold is the perfect game for you. The plot is simple: a girl and her brother unravel hidden family secrets and search for treasure. Here, the similarities with other hidden-object games ends. The game begins in Emily's room, where you're asked to put away items. Unlike most hidden object games, there is no list of items to find on the screen. Instead your mouse will glitter over an object, such as a basket, and when you click the mouse you'll see silhouettes of a few items you need to find that belong in there and a large circle where you're supposed to drag and drop the item. Sometimes you won't be able to find the item you need until you look inside another object on the screen, or you might need to solve another puzzle on the screen to get the last item you need for the first puzzle; there might be up to six different puzzles to solve in one scene (each with up to five items). There are also puzzle board-games incorporated into the storyline to add variety.

The artwork imitates the kind of illustration found in children's storybooks, and the music is reminiscent of nursery rhymes in order to reinforce that effect. The beautifully animated storyboard keeps you moving seamlessly from puzzle to puzzle as you embark on a fantastic virtual adventure.

Similar games to try out: Hidden Mysteries: Buckingham Palace, Mystery Stories: Berlin Nights

By Ahsan Sajid

Music is for everyone, and in the heart of that spirit, we have decided the drastic jump from last week's black metal reviews to this week's underground hip-hop. This is no 'gangsta', 'in yo face', 'ghetto' rap, mind you: it's intelligent, poetic rap, what we're going to discuss today, most of these rappers having backgrounds in spoken word poetry itself. You may also notice a change in formatting, but it's just to make this review as organized, helpful and easy to read as possible.

Sage Francis:
Before Sage Francis became a full-time rapper, he paid his dues as a slam poet. During the late 1990s, he made his first demo tape and fronted the now defunct band Art Official Intelligence and hosted various radio shows. After several EPs, tours, winning MC battles, he signed with anticon, releasing his first solo album, and later in 2005 he was the first hip-hop artist to sign with punk label Epitaph, releasing his first proper album, A Healthy Distrust- a must for a proper definition of real underground hip-hop.

Francis' style is different because of his intense flow, sharp wit, and sophisticated lyricism. Francis has won acclaim both as a freestyle battler and as an unapologetically intellectual lyricist. Francis uses a broad emotional palette to address a wide range of personal, cultural, and political issues. His unconventional style and personality have given him crossover appeal from fans of many different genres, but at the same time alienated close-minded hip-hop listeners.

Why Listen?
You don't have to like hip-hop to like Sage Francis. Sure his freestyle flow is one of the fastest out of any rapper alive, but he's also an artist who employs live music instead of mixed, prerecorded beats, so there's also something for the people that don't consider hip-hop real music for whatever reason. Anyone who is interested in politics, poetry, journalism, or just plain entertainment, would miss a lot if they missed Sage Francis.

All though almost all of his songs are standalone hits, as far as top priority listening goes, the album A Healthy Distrust should be top priority. An emotional and honest album, hear him debate over his confusion with religious norms in the song Sun Vs Moon, confess to his childhood frustrations and the trouble of growing up in the Oedipal masterpiece Sea Lion, and rap faster than the average human ear can decipher words in the truly poetic Escape Artist.

Similar Artists:
Many of Francis' contemporaries in the underground hip-hop scene have a somewhat similar sound, and if you've enjoyed Sage Francis so far, it might be time to broaden your musical appreciation even more.

Atmosphere- After several changes in lineup and sound, Atmosphere is currently a hip-hop duo featuring rapper Slug and producer Ant, often joined by a DJ, Mr. Dibbs. Very politically motivated lyrics, a vicious and energetic delivery, and recurring characters in most songs are just a few of the things that define Atmosphere. Give a listen to the album God Loves Ugly.

Aesop Rock- Often a controversy amongst hip-hop listeners, Aesop Rock is known for his peculiar style that blends a varying tone and delivery with lyrics that contain intricate sequences of widely varying imagery, metaphors, puns, absurdism, and pop culture references. Not to mention his even more peculiar voice. Hardcore fans embrace Aesop Rock as being to them what Bob Dylan was to their parents. Give whatever you find a listen, if for curiosity alone at first. You'll love him in no time!

Sole: Underground rapper and co-founder of anticon, his album Bottle of Humans was one of the milestones in the early days of the late nineties anticon movement who distanced themselves from what they perceived as the increasingly superficial nature of mainstream hip-hop. Dig in for a listen to the very first of underground hip-hop.

This was it for the week people. Next week we'll make another drastic jump!

By The Dark Lord

We're all about fast cars. We are also about fast being sexy. Sometimes the two just can't agree with each other. Case in point: the Weber F1 (or faster one) is a beauty with a twin supercharged LS7 pushing 900hp but a beast when it comes to being easy on the eyes.

At just over 2,400lbs. the Weber has weight and horsepower on its side with a power to weight ratio of just 2.7lbs per horsepower. The Weber has tons of tech that allows it to obtain some ludicrous speeds when you want to outrun all those people looking at you funny. Even though the body could be sexier, every inch of the Weber has been honed for high speed and it all serves a purpose. You might not like it's looks but it'd be one hell of a ride.

With 900 hp it reaches 60 mph or 100 km/h in about 2.5 s. For that mind boggling mix of power and ugliness you have to pay a chilling 1,620,000 Swiss Francs. Ouch.

Made entirely from ultra-light yet superstrong carbon fiber coupled with state-of-the-art aerodynamics computer software keeps the car stable at the highest speeds. While it's all very aerodynamic, it makes an old Corolla look good.


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