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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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