# February 2016 news

created: 1 Feb 2016; modified: 09 Oct 2017; status: finished; confidence: log;

This is the February 2016 edition of the gwern.net newsletter; previous, January 2016. This is a summary of the revision-history RSS feed, overlapping with Changelog & Google+ & LW media threads; brought to you by my donors on Patreon.

# Media

## Books

Fiction:

• Thorsby’s Transdimensional Brain Chip (Another Thorsby webcomic has finished. You know what you’re getting: clever high-concept plot which keeps slowly building with occasional comedy of errors, semi-awkward writing, and MS Paint art that never improves. If you liked Accidental Space Spy, you’ll like this. If not, not.)
• Chanson de Geste (Narnia fanfiction: realpolitik-Chthulian romance. Game mechanic reminds me of The Player of Games.)
• Lem’s Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (review)

Nonfiction:

## Film/TV

Live-action:

• The Black Cat 1934 (a horror film which falls straight into camp. I can forgive the poorer special effects like the embalmed corpses who you can see breathing and moving slightly, or how the heroine faints at the drop of a hat but when carried remains rigid and posed instead of letting herself flop like an unconscious woman would, but the whole movie is so over the top: the house has no windows, we jump to the villain in bed reading a book literally titled The Rites of Lucifer and sleeping with his stepdaughter, it’s difficult to accept Lugosi as a hero because his role as Dracula is so indelibly imprinted on him, and themes & Chekhov’s guns are introduced recklessly and never followed up on - a long discussion of how the black cat is immortal and the symbol of evil and may’ve infected the heroine is immediately dropped along with Lugosi’s ailurophobia never to be mentioned again, the chess game with life & death wagered on it has no particular meaning other than to let the villain do as he planned all along, and the Satanic black mass is exactly as silly as expected. That said, Karloff and Lugosi make an extremely striking pair on-screen, and even if one is never surprised, much less horrified, one is never all that bored, and the recklessness of the plot at least means it’s somewhat unpredictable.)

Anime:

## Games

• Broforce is a 2D pixel-art scrolling 1-hit-death run-and-gun action-shooter in the vein of Metal Slug with a War on Terror/Murica/1980s-action-movie theme; it adds an almost-fully destructible environment and emphasizes vertical movement, so it’s the campy offspring of Metal Slug & Minecraft. The homages to MS are particularly noticeable in the vehicles you can use to fight in and how the terrorist enemies give way to alien enemies with occasional three-way battles. I loved MS as a kid for its beautiful sprites, touches of humor (like sneaking up on Nazis while they chatted), and perfectly-balanced action gameplay, so when I saw BF come up on Steam during the 2016 Lunar sale for \$7.49, I bought it. I figured even as a single-player game, it looked fun.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. The controls are slick & reactive, with the default mapping of the up d-key to jump quickly coming to feel natural; the action is almost instantly addictive, especially as you start to figure out how to work around the limit that you can usually only shoot horizontally and you are often outranged so if you approach enemies the straightforward way, you will typically die immediately. There’s a lot of fun in figuring out how to best dig beneath enemies and attack them from behind, panic or shoot the suicide bombers into exploding amid a group of enemies, shoot out the ground underneath a tricky opponent, or set up chain reactions of explosions; since you do not choose which character & weapons you use, you also must learn how to work with individual characters in different situations (the Man in Black has a powerful shot, but the recoil means it can be tricky to use without knocking yourself into a pit or dropping a boulder onto your head; the Terminator’s minigun is fantastic for tunneling but also has steady recoil and takes a fraction of a second to spin up; MacGyver’s bomb throwing is more useful than it initially seems because you can destroy parts of the environment far from you and create impromptu suicide bombers). It borders on a physics puzzle game at times. While somewhat repetitious, there’s enough variety in level design to keep one interested: many levels are straightforward run-and-gun, but when encountering a mecha, it may be best to tunnel underneath it to kill it instead of hijacking it, and in a level with constant bombardment, tunneling is a necessity. The destructible environment may sound like a recipe for cheap deaths and the possibility of making a level impossible to complete when you’ve destroyed too much ground to progress, but while I had to make some tricky jumps and excavations after some particularly heated firefights, I don’t think I ever totally cut myself off from the end of the level.