Recent Movie Reviews

C.L.A.P. 1 : Tones C.L.A.P. 1 : Tones

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

A Great Lesson!

Its incredibly refreshing, even a little jarring to hear someone speaking in proper Mandarin (even if its couched in improper English) on Newgrounds.

Its a great lesson you have here and it covers probably the most important and difficult part of teaching Chinese to westerners, ie sounding out tones.

Now, while the lesson is really awesome and to those who already speak Mandarin will find this lesson incredibly rudimentary (though entertaining), there are probably some more things you could do to better help illustrate and more effectively teach the tone concepts to westerners who have no experience with it...mostly cause the tonal part is probably the hardest part for them to pick up. If it were anything else but that, I'd say it was perfect, and perfectly effective.

Stacked and repeated visual reinforcement would help this along...its already awesome that you have the tickmarks indicating the tone that's added to the sound, but those marks themselves are unfamiliar to the beginner - it may help to accompany those those the corresponding arabic numerals (1 2 3 4), and to have those along with the tonal marks accompanying each of the examples you give.
Also the end example sentencese that mix multiple words with different tones go by a little too fast, without any clear visual indication of what tone is going where...and to the untrained ear, this may be a little confusing. Since these end examples are meant to tie the lesson up and apply what's been learned so far, it'd be helpful to see just how the parts of the lesson are applied to these final examples.

That said, what you've got is really entertaining and does a good job of holding the viewers' attention, both with the content and the presentation, which are probably the most important grounds for effective teaching.

Great job and keep it up!

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RiseAndShine RiseAndShine

Rated 3 / 5 stars

Professional and Clean, But Clashes With the Audio

Kinetic typography is always fun, especially when its done as cleanly and professionally as this. Advertisers and studios would definately find this work very appealing - its crisp and smooth, keeping the pace with very few transitions that seem awkward or jarring without intending to be.

This is all well and good, and kudos for that!

However, and this is a problem I've seen with a lot of the kinetic typography work I've seen floating around YouTube, is that the style and motion of the typography doesn't very effectively present the audio clip. That is to say, there is a really noticable emotional gap between the visuals and the audio.
The visuals are sleek, austere, and contemporary, conveying a feeling of efficiency, reliability and energy and from these things, comfort. Its the stuff of transportation ads and MTV bumpers that advertise what's "coming up next."
The audio, on the other hand, is none of these things. It strange, surreal, dreamlike, almost nightmarish, shot through with the confusion of a feverdream, a feeling helped along by the disquieting delivery of Michael Shapiro's VO.

Both of these pieces are excellent on their own, but they seem to clash heavily when you put them together. Now, sometimes you can do this with surprisingly pleasant results - however, both halves of this audio-visual piece seem to hold unabashedly to their own emotional guns, and the result ends up without cohesion.

I know the focus in kinetic typography is suppose to be....well, the kineticism of the typography, as opposed to how true it is to the source material - and in this, this piece really does very well.
But the disjointedness, along with what few concessions were made to the subject matter- the Lambda symbol, the trains - makes it seem like it could do much better at expressing the audio.
I truly feel that if this went the extra mile to convey the mood of the audio while keeping that smooth dynamicism that it already has, then it would become so much more than the sum of its audio and visual parts.

As is, it currently stands shoulder to shoulder with most of the other good typography videos posted out on the internet - as almost all of them have the same problem - which ends up making this comparitively average at best.
Again, I must stress - it is well done. But if you could take it that extra mile, this could be even better than everything else that's out there.


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Legend of the BlackBook 1 Legend of the BlackBook 1

Rated 2 / 5 stars

Good Production Value and Not Much Else

(review contains spoilers)
Joseph Blanchette's long-awaited return to the portal has unfortunately turned out to less than triumphant. Arguably the most well-known out of the trio that produced the Legend of the Black Book, his name recognition and the group's overall production skills arguably are what have carried the viewership of this comedic World-of-Warcraft-inspired short, and in the end are the only things worth noting.
For a comedy short, the laughs are dismally few...the jokes seem to be consistently bland, leaning on tried-and-true (and uninteresting) cliches, funny voices and weak non-sequitur anachronisms to carry the funny. Add to this the droll pacing and a horribly derivative storyline and you're left with a production badly in need of a new scriptwriter, and a new director.
The voice-acting is nothing to phone home about - the voices all feel over-acted to compensate for the script, and feel over-the-top, but in the wrong direction. The except to this is Edwyn Tiong (Omahdon) as the cult leader, which becomes the best and only memorable part of the entire short.
The flash isn't without its good parts of course - as mentioned before, the production values of this short are good. The entire sequence where the lich king is released from the book is visually impressive and a lot of work has clearly gone into the re-design of the characters and the production of the set-pieces.
The animation itself never gets above par and Joseph Blanchette's animation skills don't seem to have improved much since his last effort, though that's somewhat forgivable since this is a comedic short, with relatively little action or drama. Taken with everything else though, it actually ends up climbing on top of all of this piece's faults and pushing them down even further.

What you guys have here, ultimately, is well-produced but mediocre. Nothing here is really bad, but almost everything, from the basic concept upwards, is uninteresting and more or less forgettable.
My recommendation would be to pass any future scripts by some other writers with some proven comedy chops, and to think more carefully about the pacing and timing as you're putting together the next iteration.
You guys seem to be a really inspired team, and it sounds like you want to make a lot of cool stuff. But until you brush up your chops in some critical areas, your efforts are in danger of being very quickly forgotten, which would be unfortunate considering all of the work and love you've clearly put into this.

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Toonwerks responds:

Joseph responds:

A fair review, but you were mislead in a few places:

1) This is not a "LegendaryFrog" cartoon. (I was kinda annoyed that my name appeared 2nd on the actually) While I did help with the script, it was primarily written by Casey and we all chipped in when we could. One of the weakness, we release, is Casey tends to ramble. We hope to improve this for the next one and have the story move along quicker.

2) LF also did not do the animation. That was handled by Mark. (th1rt3en) In my opinion, its light years of what I'm capable of. Which is why Mark did it! I did the artwork, because it's what I enjoy to do the most.

Most of the criticism against the movie we noticed near the end of production, and it's our own fault for letting it get that far. Things like overlong scenes and sound quality, we all think can be improved on next time.

Regardless, thanks for the honest feedback, and I hope the next part is more to your liking!

Recent Game Reviews

Gyossait Gyossait

Rated 4.5 / 5 stars

Does Not Disappoint

It was a shock at first to see one of amon26's works being posted here. When the game started, I first thought that someone was trying to imitate his style.

Having played amon26's previous games, Au Sable and All Of Our Friends Are Dead, its a pleasure to see this experience posted on the portal for a wider audience.

The most obvious standout feature of this is, of course, the artwork. The art as always serves brilliantly to paint the scene, and though the environment is mindbendingly surreal, the presentation makes it believable, immersive and consistent. Artwork has been stepped up from previous titles, and every drop of expressive potential is wrenched from the small pixels. Ffrom the tormented trees with impossible features to the shivering and frightened people to the eyes that begin to watch you when you've gone too far, everything works together to present a beautifully unsettling atmosphere.
Little design touches such as the character's last body remaining in the place where it died, the monsters resembling distorted versions of the people you pass, and the shower of water that eases your character's rage show how complete the thought process is.
The harshness of distortion in graphics, music and SFX is used to great effect and nothing is spared, created an agonized sense of unease that people familiar with the author's work will know very well. People unfamiliar with it will be in for a surprise, and for some this surprise will be a pleasant treat.

The storyline and presentation thereof is esoteric, evasive, and immediate. You as a player are dumped immediately into the environment, and watch the world and story unfold around you as if in a dream. It is a cold and refreshing breath of fresh air in a field of games where text boxes and unskippable cutscenes are the rule of the day. The writing is, in fact, almost too obscure to the point of indiscernability, but still appreciable for how different it is from everything else you typically see in games these days.

Unfortunately where this game falters most is the gameplay - unlike in previous works, where the involvement of the mouse invites clicking, the use of the down key is not necessarily a given, and only the overly curious or determined would discover it. Given that the down key is at times crucial to survival and progress, this becomes a major block in play and breaks the immersion somewhat.
The platforming is largely solid, though the jumping is a floaty and can become frustrating - tightening of the controls is strongly recommended, as many platform sequences that would otherwise feel just the right length instead feel a little too long due to the dodgy controls.
The gun and shield mechanics, once discovered, are clunky but servicable - like everything else it could use some tightening up.
Of note as well is the Crucible of Uxaxa, used to alternately sacrifice a poor girl or cross a boiling lake of blood - standing on the crucible is unexpectedly slippery, deadly when you're trying to cross the aforementioned lake. This is especially a problem as dying at that point involves re-crossing large portions of that screen, which can grow frustrating and will further break the immersion.
All-in-all, what game mechanics that exist are sparse, but functional. The flow of the game, however, would benefit greatly if the same attention to detail that was given to the art and design was given to play mechanics.

None of this is unexpected if you've played any of the author's previous work. Historically, amon26's games have always been artwork-heavy and mechanics-light, and this one is no different.
For future projects, however, some more careful implementation of game mechanics would benefit the game's impressive art and environment greatly.

Either way, the game is a sharp left turn from the usual fare on Newgrounds, and it is a solid object lesson for alternate modes of thinking in game design for the designers on this site.


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Hunters - Stage 6 Hunters - Stage 6

Rated 2 / 5 stars

An Admirable If Uninspired Effort

Having played through the entire series of games, Chapters 1 through 6, I'm finally getting down to reviewing.
As the title suggests, the biggest problem this game has is that, content-wise, it feels uninspired.
Technically the game functions well - there are no glitches and bugs, and everything worked exactly as expected. Throughout the entire series there were no bugs or glitches, no graphical errors, and nowhere where the programming or collision detection went awry. Considering the large amount of content, this is really well worth noting, especially since you were doing different things with every game, and every time it worked perfectly.
Also to be applauded is your consistency - everything else notwithstanding the series stands well together as a cohesive whole and may be presented as a six-game package without any jarring changes or adjustments, and all together it makes for a very neat presentation, which is better than can be said for a lot of games and movies, even on the professional level.
The most interesting parts of the game were actually the space-shooter sequences, those were fun and interesting to play through and engaging as well.
These are definitely worth noting and these must be kept in mind. That said, the game still suffers in a lot of ways, almost all of which stems from the headlining description of the game: uninspiring.
Everything, and I really do mean everything, from the art and sound design to the voice acting and directing to the gameplay design and the story felt incredibly uninspired. Its nothing we've never seen before, in fact I could take almost every one of the elements from the game and point to something that it's directly taken from.
While pastiches of other successful games have worked to make fun experiences,in this case it was not done very well, or very engagingly. Many elements, for example the "Metroid-vania" style gameplay were cut and pasted seemingly without any understanding of what made those types of games appealing: exploration of the unknown, interesting and believable enemies that challenge the player, beautiful environment artwork, and character growth through interesting and various items and tools is generally what makes these games tick, and Hunters features exactly none of these. This not only keeps the players from getting invested in the characters, the story and the events, but makes the game much less fun and interesting to play overall.
There are other issues with the game as well - the voice acting was too over-the-top. Your VO cast is fairly well known around the portal and they've done good voice acting work in the past, which leaves the directing that could use a little work. Hamming it up CAN work in certain instances, but it seems like you were trying for a story with serious elements in it and the over-the-top acting really clashes with it.
The story is also clumsily put together and the writing largely uninteresting - genre stereotypes are on full display here, from a plucky, overly snarky heroine to the inexplicable magic orbs (in a science fiction setting), to the megalomaniacal end boss.
All this said, while this isn't the first game you've ever made, it does seem like the first you've ever done on this sort of scale. And while sadly I, like everyone else, must question the continued featuring of this series on the front-page - I totally see that this was a lot of hard work on your part, and you should definitely be commended for all the work you've put in. Not everyone can say that they want to write, direct and code a six chapter run-and-gun shooter and actually pull it off.
However, since you have been getting a lot of front-page press, I highly recommend taking the critiques that have been offered seriously for future projects. This game is a great start, and hopefully you'll only be going up from here.
If you don't, however, all that will be left is what's embodied in this series: an admirable, but uninspired - and ultimately uninteresting - effort.


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Madness Hydraulic Madness Hydraulic

Rated 2 / 5 stars

Beautiful, But Technically Flawed

This game is unfortunately marred by some crippling technical issues which seriously bring this game's playability down.
I'm totally aware the system used in this and the two previous game was initially intended for keyboard play, and there are very few problems there, outside of the inherent awkwardness of aiming with a keyboard in a high-adrenaline, fast-paced shooter.
However, since mouse support was implemented in Madness Accelerant, the gameplay has been plagued with heavy and nigh-on unmissable delays whenever mouse control is used, where the main character becomes VERY slow to respond to aim commands from the mouse or move commands from the keyboard. The game runs smoothly the entire time- there is no drop in graphical or sound quality, nor is there the hiccuping associated with the "usual" lag- it seems to simply take a long time for the character on screen to acknowledge the command, sometimes up to ten or twelve seconds after input. This makes gameplay at best tedious and at worst completely unplayable as it grinds the player's interaction with the game to a complete halt - in the meanwhile the swarms of opponents onscreen continue hitting the character, knocking him down and whittling down his health.
The problem seems to stem from the number of enemies on-screen at once which, judging by the description in the Author Comments is something the creators are well aware of.
It must be said, however, that "CPU-crushing" is not a good selling point for a game and in fact does nothing more than advertise this game's biggest, most critical flaw.
Unfortunately despite what may or may not have been the creators' original intentions, the game is much more engaging and fun to play with mouse control - something demonstrated in Madness Accelerant when the problem was less pronounced due to the reduced number of onscreen enemies - and many players will (and likely already have) try to play the game with mouse control first, only to leave when the delay frustrates them completely.

There are other small flaws in the game's design which could use improvement. The health and damage system is somewhat awkward, and while getting knocked down every time the character takes a hit prevents the sudden massive health loss that was the flaw in Regent, it has the effect of completely stopping the action, which breaks the pacing of the game. A game like this relies on immersion in its fast, frenetic pace, and anything that would slow it, let alone break it, would completely ruin the player's engagement in the game. This is however, merely a design issue, and doesn't keep the game from being fun, only from being as fun as it likely could be.

Ultimately the game's biggest flaw - the unresponsiveness of the mouse - can be ignored. The game can be played on keyboard mode well enough, and its possible to go through the entire game without ever really *needing* the mouse. However, setting aside fun and engagment, you guys offer the mouse as a control option up front before every new game and before every continue, with no indication that using the mouse causes delays. If it continues, its going to ring of laziness or worse outright incompetence in the ability to implement or playtest a game properly.
Really, the game is fine without it, but for the sake of the experience, my recommendation would be to give some serious thought to resolving it, either by eliminating the delays in mouse control or simply by sticking to your roots and taking off mouse control altogether.

You guys are obviously talented people with proven chops. Mindchamber's art is beautiful, unique and distinctive as always, and Tom's knack for simplistic, interesting and fresh takes on gameplay is always a pleasure to see - we've learned to expect a lot out of you guys and where it really counts you didn't disappoint.
Unfortunately the technical issues seriously overshadow all of this, and reduce what could have been a really engaging, fun and memorable game into at best, an awkward yet passable shooter, or at worst, a frustrating, unplayable mess.


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Recent Audio Reviews

Arabesque No. 1 Arabesque No. 1

Rated 5 / 5 stars

This is impressive! Well played!
I'm of the opinion that you needn't be afraid of putting this here. Newgrounds is, after all, everything. By everyone. This counts. If you ask me, the place could use a touch of class like this.

Play on, music man!

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Twone responds:

Thank ya bud

Recent Art Reviews

Idol Idol

Rated 5 / 5 stars

A stunning piece, with a stirring premise and an equally stirring delivery.
The powerful contrast of shape, size and texture of the two figures really drives the concept deep into the bedrock of the brain - doubly so when it is explained and the viewer knows what everything is meant to represent.
The vastness and unknowability of the great black figure - especially in comparison to the frailty of the woman praying, practically unnoticed, at its back, is beautiful to behold. The two impossibly round circles behind it place it in a space beyond the woman - beyond her reach, and beyond her ken.
If nits must be picked, then there is perhaps some roughness to the 'feathers' pluming off of the entity's back and arms, where a little more detail and refinement to make them look more feather-like may have served the piece - and people who like to look at details - well. But the boldness and consistency of the style make this is a middling, pedantic issue at the very best.
It's a great piece - well done.

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Sulup responds:

I really enjoy a good review. Thank you very much!