“Cut the Rope: Experiments” follows up on the smash mobile game

“Cut the Rope: Experiments” follows up on the smash mobile game (photo)

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Unless you’ve been under a very cozy rock, there’s no escaping that the popularity Apple’s iDevices has had a great impact on the video game industry. Among the changes wrought by the iPhone-centric seismic aftershocks has been the way that sequelization occurs on App Store games.

So many of the games on Apple’s digital download hub are priced as impulse buys with free content updates that keep you playing for as long as possible. These updates frequently offer new mechanics that add depth to the initial experience. “Angry Birds” has introduced the Toucan boomerang bird in this way and the pay-for-play Mighty Eagle, which clears tough puzzles for a small fee. With new chapters to long-tail games like “Angry Birds” coming regularly, the question gets posed: what exactly constitutes a sequel?

Indie dev studio ZeptoLab tries to answer that matter with “Cut the Rope: Experiments.” It’s the follow-up to the massive iOS hit “Cut the Rope,” where players need to perform the titular action to feed candy an adorable extra-terrestrial named Om Nom. In levels posed as a series of boxes, the sweet treats are attached to strings and a precise sequence of cuts is necessary to create the proper trajectory to get that sugar into Om Nom’s mouth. Along the way, other gimmicks–like candy floating in bubbles that need to be popped and gusts of air that change the direction of candy–get introduced.

“Experiments” adds a few wrinkles to this design. The physics-based puzzler introduces two new devices to aid players in their quest to feed Om Nom. A rope launcher that automatically attaches to candy helps you navigate around tricky obstacles while the candy’s falling through a level. The other’s a suction cup that you can place wherever you want on the level with a tap of your finger for precision placement of the precious candy. This all happens as a new character–a loopy scientist called The Professor–who’s trying to figure out Om Nom’s origins and you’ll get cutscenes and commentary on your performance as you move through the levels.

Is this enough to call “Experiments” a sequel as we generally think of them? It’s tough to say. Though it comes with 75 new levels and a skeletal plot, this new title doesn’t change that much about the core experience. In fact, the first third of the game rehashes stuff that seasoned “CTR” players will already know how to do and won’t provide much of a challenge in that regard. The rope launcher and suction cup levels are the real newness, contained in the latter two-thirds of the game, which aren’t terribly hard either.

Still, one consideration for starting fresh is the fact that ZeptoLab’s releasing “Cut the Rope: Experiments” on their own. They’d previously had a publishing deal with Chillingo, who’s since been acquired by EA. So, you can look at “Experiments” as a declaration of independence by the UK developer. It welcomes new players with a re-introduction, and gives a few new features to point the way to a new direction. The original “Cut the Rope” cost a measly $0.99 and added a crap-ton of free updates after launch, knocking the total number of levels up to 200. ZeptoLab will probably support “Cut the Rope: Experiments” in the same way, and the combination of robust add-ons, self-publishing and new gameplay mechanics should qualify it as a full-fledged sequel. Best of all, “Experiements” is still only 99 cents, making it a bargain whether you think of it as a true follow-up or not.

Do you think “Experiments” is going to be better than the original “Cut the Rope”? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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