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DID YOU READ

Insert Credit: “Jetpack Joyride”

Insert Credit: “Jetpack Joyride”  (photo)

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Insert Credit endeavors to suss out where you should be allotting your video game allowance, sifting out a single title from many and crowning it as The One Game You Need to Get This Week. Don’t consider these reviews, gentle reader. Rather, think of Insert Credit as a mix of hands-on time, informed opinion and intuition.

For the week of September 1, 2011, you should insert credit into: “Jetpack Joyride.”

Let’s talk about elite iOS developers, shall we? Notching recurrent success on Apple’s iDevices is no mean feat, what with the sheer number of code monkeys trying to capture the attentions of folks in the market for new games. Then you factor in all the games that spike into the top of the charts but burn out all too fast. What you wind up is increasing respect for games like Rovio’s “Angry Birds” which has stayed in the upper echelons of the sales charts for months at a time. But, even though “Angry Birds” is the 800-lb. gorilla in the App Store, it’s only one game. It’s yet to be seen if Rovio can deliver another hit, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of “Angry Birds.”

That conundrum is what makes me tip my hat to Aussie developers Halfbrick. They’ve shown a canny insight for what makes for great portable gaming experiences and in the case of “Fruit Ninja Kinect,” they’ve managed to upscale one of their hits to HDTV via the Xbox 360 and have it feel just as good if not better in a new iteration.

Their latest effort shows the same intuitive sense of how to craft addictive yet rewarding gameplay that makes “Fruit Ninja” so satisfying. “Jetpack Joyride” operates on a simple premise: you steal a jetpack and romp through a never-ending high-tech lab, collecting coins and power-ups as you go. It’s an homage to the 16-bit period of home consoles, when titles like “Gunstar Heroes” and “Super Metroid” made the Genesis and SNES must-have machines. Lovingly animated pixel art and a jaunty chiptune theme song will hook you even if you were born far late to experience that era and the simplicity of the action will drag you into a powerful gravity that you won’t want to escape.

Barry Steakfries, Halfbrick’s Zelig-inspired mascot, steals an experimental jetpack which shoots a downward hail of machine gun bullets. You keep Barry aloft by tapping the screen and will need to weave through all manners of electrified zappers, homing missiles and flying laser beams for as long as you can. But even after you die, the gameplay continues. If you’ve collected a spin token, you’ll get a chance to grab extra rewards via a game-over slot machine. You’ll also get missions that level you up when accomplished and each level brings more coins to your stash. Said stash can be used to buy either cosmetic or functional tweaks to Barry’s gear, which gives you yet another motivator for playing.

That’s to say nothing of the various power-ups you get in the game–a Rocketeer-style gravity suit, a Harly-inspired motorcycle or a floating teleporter, to name just a few. Each has a slight tweak on the core mechanic but they all keep you hooked no matter what.

If you compare “Fruit Ninja” and “Jetpack Joyride,” they’re different in not only the way they’re played, but also in how they fit into your brain. “Fruit Ninja” amounts to an on-demand booty call, always there with accessible bananas when you want to stroke some fun into a few idle minutes. “Jetpack Joyride” gives you a relationship. You’re only going to succeed by concentrating and carving away chunks of time form other parts of your life. And the game gives you goals to work towards on multiple levels. You can still hit it and quit it, but the experience means much more if you keep it going as long as you can. It’s a hypnotic little game that pays back the $ 0.99 you spend on it with far more enjoyment that you thought possible.

What’s you high score in “Jetpack Joyride”? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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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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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.