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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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.