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DID YOU READ

Insert Credit: “Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet”

Insert Credit: “Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet”  (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 August 4, 2011, you should insert credit into: “Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.”

Like a good cup of strong black coffee, “Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet” has been brewing for a little while now. I remember seeing a trailer for the game about a year and a half ago and being intrigued by the smooth animation and great art direction. Whenevr this thing got here, it’d be sure to have charm up the wazoo. But, as always, the crucial question with games is how that pretty thing on the screen feels once you’ve got a controller in hand.

Thankfully, “ITSP” plays excellently, mixing elements of old-school sidescrollers with sophisticated presentation for a sharp experience. There’s a bit of an old-timey feel to the game, as if a silent movie and NES classics went off and had offspring. The game’s the creation of Shadow Planet Productions-which is a partnership between comics artist/animator Michel Gagné (“The Iron Giant”) and the Fuelcell Games indie dev studio. Gagné’s artistic background shines through in all of the game’s aesthetic elements. “ITSP” unspools with no written or spoken dialogue, telling its story solely with visuals and sound design. That story starts off with a mysterious probe turning a far-off sun into a giant, lightless orb. The sudden darkness prompts an daring UFO pilot to journey forth to the source of the attack to explore and somehow undo the shadowy aggression.

ITSP_BoxArt.pngThe titular planet harbors just enough creepiness to fee foreboding, but is so charmingly animated and realized that you’ll still want to explore. That’s important as “ITSP” falls under the genre called Metroidvania–after “Super Metroid” and “Castlevania”– where a game’s environment consists of a labyrinthine structure dotted with seeming dead ends along its accessible throughways. As you poke around the environment, you’ll discover new gadgets and new weapons that will make you more powerful and also let you open up areas and paths in places where you’ve already been. So, while the guided missiles you come upon are great for blowing up enemies, they’ll also come in handy for creating paths in places where the UFO can’t go initially. This kind of design really needs a compelling environment to live inside of and it gets one in spades with “ITSP.”

Part of the game’s challenge comes from managing all the weapons and gadgets you get and the environmental puzzle-solving will take a bit of trial-and-error in order to progress. All throughout, there’s a great cinematic score to accompany the sprightly animation and tense action.

“ITSP” is a game where style–in terms of look and mechanics–is the substance and, in lesser hands, the game would be an unfulfilling mess. Instead, this Summer of Arcade title makes it so that the darkness of the Shadow Planet becomes a beacon as to what can be accomplished with good taste and execution.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…