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DID YOU READ

“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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.