December 2007

July was another great month for memorable clips, with stand out videos from all over the spectrum. But rather than blather on in a summation, perhaps we should just ease on in to the awesome.

Director Hype Williams lifts from Akira while Kanye West lips from Daft Punk for the anime-themed ‘Stronger‘. Flashy as hell and certainly memorable, if ultimately a little empty. Though even with a lot of recycled ideas, it’s still one hell of a clip.

Rilo Kiley certainly wins the ‘most ambitious’ award for All Through the Night is another ambitious wonder, but this time the execution matches the intent, as this is just a joy to watch from beginning to end. Granted that may have a lot to do with the oodles of appropriated Muppet action, but who am I to argue with felt and that wavy hair?

Hello Saferide went for cute and sweet for the equally cute and sweet tune, My Best Friend, and this was a case where I really enjoyed the mix of live action and animation.

SeaBear, on the other hand, went for weird and gorgeous with the stop-motion Hands Remember.

Oddly enough, Great Northern’s spot for Home felt like an appropriated Modest Mouse video, but I found it rather charming in any case.

Alright, so this one is a total selfish gimmie: Seeing as the band steadfastly refusing to make videos in any traditional sense, I’m forced to just say ‘screw it’ and use a live performance of Wilco doing ‘Impossible Germany’ in their practice loft. Great video? No, but a damn fine song.

Well, that does it for the first half of The Year in Music Videos, we’ll be rolling through August all the way to December tomorrow, so get your hang over cures ready in advance.

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Being as June is my internal clock’s mark for the beginning of Summer, it’s fitting that things went a little more high concept that month.

Kate Nash’s Foundations was maybe not so much high concept as well done flash that mixed live action and animation for yet another literal interpretation of lyrics.

CSS has already carved out a name for themselves in the music video world with a handful of imaginative spots, but so far Alcohol is my fav. I’m just a sucker for puppets.

Japan’s own Cornelius tends to turn out spectacular videos, and Like a Rolling Stone was no exception with its tiny army of miniatures. Ordinarily that’d creep me out, but I really dig it here.

Song (and admiration for Damon Gough) aside, Badly Drawn Boy’s spot for Promisessuper fight wins if for no other reason than I’d absolutely love a car that was powered by piano playing. How awesome would that be? In that world, I’d never go anywhere unless mrcookieface was driving.

Bat for Lashes’ ‘Donnie Darko meets In the Mouth of Madness’ spot for What’s a Girl to Do? is easily one of the best videos of the year. This is just a supremely well made spot. So much so that the aforementioned influences don’t at all overshadow this spot with cliche or overexposure.

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Oddly enough, May is a month when I’m more inclined to shut myself in with some Portishead or the like and just tune out to the weather, but I’m now denied my May thunderstorms of old due to locale. Still it remains a low-key month for me, so it’s a nice bit of synchronization when most of the clips for May match my decidedly non-flashy moods.

Color me a simple man, but performance videos are often a really smart choice for a band. The Kings of Leon eschew concept in favor of concert for this clip for Molly’s Chambers, and my only real complaint was that the effects were too forced in such a low-key setting.

Alberta Cross – The 80’s an interesting choice. Granted, the young lad is very much a Williams stand-in, but the format doesn’t feel tired or cliche.

I don’t know why I love lo-fi clips so much, but The Tigerpicks’ Disco Punk Electro Funk is one of those ‘made for a dollar’ clips that I just can’t get enough of.

Montage videos are always a tricky business, especially when you’re matching up stock footage to provide a literal interpretation of a song’s lyrics. Evermore gave it a shot nonetheless with their clip for Never Let You Go, which I must admit only works in portions. There are too many spots that seem rather forced, but I forgive those moments due to a couple points of visual smarts in the editing room.

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April seemed to have a bit of a timeless feel in regards to the videos, but not so much that the showcase clips are so much as a throwback as rather a great homage to a number of styles. Take a look…

I was a little late to the party concerning the Apples in Stereo excellent (and infectious) clip for Can You Feel It, but I’m not one to let a little belatedness keep me from enjoying a great track from a band I’ve long adored. Upbeat and fun (making it a perfect fit for the tune), this was a total bounce in your step spot.

Groove Armada’s Get Down, on the other hand, put more of a ‘back away slowly’ bounce in the step with a CGI horde of party crazed rabbits.

Moving well back to the charming side of the line was The Sleepy Jackson clip, Good Dancers, which just put a big smile on my face with this sweet tale of a janitor sweeping a nurse off her feet.

Retro is a good choice for Camera Obscura, as so many of their songs have a kind of timeless pop feel, but this journey through the years clip for Tears for Affairs was especially nice, as the effects and style for each ‘year’ seemed such a perfect fit.

Mumm-Ra went thoroughly modern with their art inspired clip for She’s Got You High. I can only image that Ron Mueck was on their minds with this larger-than-life museum piece which was 100 times better than the song itself.

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March was very much a month of weird, weird clips, but that’s what we’re here for.

The Klaxons (who are no stranger to weirdness) turned in this rather off clip for Gravity’s Rainbow , which I can only hope is a bizarre nod to Total Eclipse of the Heart.

The Bees popped up on the ‘Buddha’s radar with the Selig style animated romp for Who Cares What The Question Is?, and I can’t think of a finer introduction to this great band.

A double shot from Sweden’s prolific siblings Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer, as the clips for The Knife’s Pass This On and You Take My Breath Away both popped up on the front page over the course of February. You Take My Breath Away is a 80’s fueled disco nightmare (co-starring Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Wilson) while Pass This On certainly counts as one of the more uncomfortable videos I’d seen in a while with an earnest drag queen performing to a perplexed crowd.

Speaking of Knives, Grizzly Bear’s clip for Knife most certainly counts as the most ambitious clip of the month, and arguably it’s the most visually arresting one, to boot. The sci-fi weird fest (which took 6 months to complete) is just perfect for the tune, which in itself is kinda odd.

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February saw a return to a more even posting schedule, so there were a number of great clips to choose from ranging from sheer awesome to sheer WTF. Get your coffee on and let’s take a look through the highlights of the month…

Lily Allen – Alfie: You can always count on puppets to spice up a video, and in that regard Alfie delivered as the layabout lad to Lily Allen’s put upon sister.

Maldroid – Heck No! (I’ll Never Listen To Techno): Let’s see, what’s a sure fire recipe to get my attention? Robots, stop-motion animation,and a Lite Brite apparently, as this low-fi goof got me all tingly inside.

Samwell -What What: This Valentine’s Day surprise is notable sheerly for its camp value (and ridiculous NSFW lyrics), but even more interesting (to me, at least) is the detailed wikipedia entry some enterprising souls put together. That’s a lot of work for something so patently ridiculous.

The Knife – Heartbeats: Not a new video by any means, but an awesome one regardless. I just can’t get enough of this song, and the old-style skating is just so hypnotic.

The Go! Team – Junior Kickstart: I’m a big fan of The Go! Team, so throwing live-action Pac-Man into the mix is definitely chucking the chocolate into the peanut butter. I mean, really now… how awesome would this have been to see played out in real-life?

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Yup, it’s that time again. Get your speakers/headphones ready and kick back with the 3rd Annual Year in Music Videos list. Let’s just jump right into January, shall we?

For a guy who professes to be not much of a music video guy, Andy picked a winner for his first video post during my baby-break, as Fionn Regan – Be Good or Be Gone is a charmer of a clip, even though it breaks my cardinal rule of ‘don’t obscure the song’. The various locales really shine in this one.

Silversun Pickups – Lazy Eye really stuck with me (so much so that I’ve gone back to watch it multiple times over the year), even though the song itself doesn’t do much for me. I guess I’m just a sucker for teen love stories.

U2 – Window in the Skies is the kind of slick work you’d expect from U2, and while I think in some ways it’s a rather lazy video, the montage is superbly put together.

And, well…that really does it for January. I’m telling ya, I was so unprepared for the arrival of our twins would pretty much shatter my posting process, but if there was only going to be three clips of note, it’s a pretty good list.

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Crayon Physics

by Andy Cochrane on December 30, 2007 · 3 comments

in Uncategorized

I searched to see if this game had been covered here before, but I am decently sure it has not, so I give you a pretty damn awesome 2D puzzle game: Crayon Physics. The idea is really simple, the execution is awesome: using ‘crayons’, you draw boxes to push and guide a ball to the goal on each level (the video uses a tablet PC but you obviously can draw with a mouse). As soon as you complete drawing each box, gravity kicks in and it drops, obeying the rules of a pretty darn cool 2D physics engine.

Crayon Physics Deluxe is en route “when it’s done”, and it will allow you to draw any shape, not just boxes.I guess I should warn you that this game requires a download. But I have seen the old version in action in person, and it is super rad. The above video is the deluxe version, but it shows you the basic concept of how the gameplay works, so if you are intrigued, check it out. The physics engine alone would probably be a great engine to license out to other games makers, hopefully that will happen, because it is certainly a powerful one.

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Oh yes. There’s no way I could have gone through all those games and not come up with a clear winner. I bet you can’t guess what it is, though. Before I lay it down, let’s collect up all the individual month winners to see if a clue can be found:

January: Game of the Month: Virus 3
February: Game of the Month: You Don’t Know Jack
March: Game of the Month: Fancy Pants World 2 Demo
April: Game of the Month: P.O.D.
May: Game of the Month: Endless Zombie Rampage
June: Game of the Month: Awesome Blossom
July: Game of the Month: Miestas
August:Game of the Month: Too Many Ninjas!
September: Game of the Month: Blocky
October: Game of the Month: Portal: The Flash Version
November: Game of the Month: Against All Odds
December: Game of the Month: Vector Runner

Oddly enough, 2007’s Casual Game of the Year didn’t garner a Game of the Month nod. Weird, huh? However, the impact that it had on casual gaming this year was monumental, and it’ll be quite some time before we see the end of its imitators and sequels. Yup, that’s right… I’ve no choice but to give the nod to none other than (dun dun DUN…..)

Tower Defence: Casual Game of the Year 2007

But wait! Didn’t that show up at the end of 2006? Yes, but like a limited release Oscar candidate in reverse, leaked out to select cities at the end of the year in order to squeak into the nominations, Tower Defence (and it’s numerous spawn) just dominated 2007. I can think of no other game that generated so many knock-offs and updates, nor wasted as much time as Roman Sanine’s loving homage to a Blizzard mini-game. Resource management, ceaseless creeps, and a whole lot of carnage combine into a beautiful peanut-butter/chocolate combination of awesome, and the world is a better place for it.

So here’s to you, Roman Sanine, and your wonderful little game.

That does it for the week (and nearly the year), but check back on Monday as I round up the Year in Music Videos.

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TetricalAnd so, here we are at December. I feel rather meta doing a Best of post for a month that still has a few days left in it, but what the hell, right? Oddly enough, December had by far the least game posts of any month in 2007 (due to a number of reasons), but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any gems.

Free Rider 2 aped the ‘not a game’ ethos of its inspiration (the excellent typographical doodad Line Rider) but pretty much threw everything else out the window with multiple drawing tools, pre-made backgrounds, and a plethora of vehicle choices (including a hot air balloon, oddly enough). Still, there’s no shortage of fun to be had, and you can’t fault the designers for chucking the need for some serious precision in lieu of easy fun.

Tetrical, on the other hand, demanded nothing but precision with it’s three dimensional take on Tetris. I’m not ashamed to admit that this game pretty much kicked my brain’s ass upside down.

Chat Noir was another brain-killer, but it did so in a manner so charming that I can’t help but forgive it. Kind of like cats in general, I suppose. What should be a simple ‘box the object’ game soon devolves into a frustrating session of a cat going ‘nyah-nyah’ to our pitiful human brains, but I keep playing it anyway.

Pastel Games (they of Submachine and Covert Front) turned in a short-but-sweet puzzler with Mission to Mars, which I found myself quite engrossed with. I just with it was a longer game.

Cat on Dolphin really shouldn’t have taken up so much brain space with me, but I adore the goofy game nonetheless.

And finally, we come to the last game in the list (as well as the last standalone game post of the year). Care to wager a guess? It’s today’s Vector Runner. I stumbled upon this gem last night while writing up the July post, and it nearly kept me up waaaay past my bedtime. It’s simple, pleasing to look at, and fun, which makes it a perfect candidate for this list, as well as the clear winner of Game of the Month. Admit it, I blew you mind with that, didn’t I?

So there you have it: Transbuddha’s year in casual gaming, all nice and summed up for your time-wasting pleasure. Where’s that leave us? Well, check back in 15 and I’ll throw down on what I consider to be the Casual Game of the Year. Ooooooh, anticipation!

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