The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: ‘LaserCat’ and ‘Word After Word’

Vacation over, words and lasers begin

Uh…

LaserCat is a neon platforming adventure created by MonsterJail. Players are the titular LaserCat, trying to save their friend from a dastardly Wizzord who is holding them ransom for British Pound Sterlings. Oddly specific currency requirement, but it doesn’t matter since LaserCat does not have that kind of money. So, we’ll have to rescue our Owl friend ourselves.

LaserCat begins in a relatively plain fashion, as the cute little cat can only jump and move, with the sole goal of collecting 30 keys and unlocking Owl from their prison. Reaching the end of a pathway will open up the next room, complete with a title on top to give context for its layout and remember which room is which.

But there is rarely only one exit, for our feline friend has more than one path they can take. By exploring and traversing the environment, players can find their own paths throughout the maze of rooms and platforms to find all of the keys. In a way, it represents more of a free-roam adventure. There is no ‘correct’ direction that the player can go (unless we are talking speed running strats).

Adding to the strange whimsy is what occurs when a player does find a key. It does not simply add itself to the inventory. Instead, the key transports players to a trivia realm of sorts, and gives them a multiple-choice trivia question they must answer to escape. Depending on the player’s general knowledge of random facts, this could either be the easiest aspect of the game or the most terrifying. I personally find myself in the trivia loving corner, so it was a fantastic twist to add even more silly fun to the title.

Thankfully for those that despise trivia, the answers themselves are relatively easy to guess at — the two wrong answers are often blatant in their hilarity, such as the Battle of Hastings being possibly fought in 2066. Escaping the trivia realm is not the end, however, as the key is still in the player’s possession. Only after they return to a computer — the checkpoint/save point — does the key add to the inventory. Dying on the way is dangerous, as the key gets sent back.

I was not entirely sure what to expect with LaserCat, with its retro graphics and ‘open ended platforming’, but I can safely state that it is as ridiculous as it is fun. The platforming takes a bit of a backseat to the exploration of the levels (which I prefer). It feels like a dungeon crawler all about the magic of friendship. Some may not enjoy the direction, but if you love cats, trivia and platforming through neon squares then this is a fantastic game to add to your collection.

Incoming haystack.

Word After Word is a competitive linguistic game crafted by Jonah Warren, indie game dev and design professor in the United States. Players will compete against their friends and family to determine who has the best understanding of the popularity of words through the art of typing fast and hoping.

Players will be given an adjective, with the goal of finding a noun that commonly follows this adjective. It draws on a massive database compiled by Jonah using half a billion words sourced from TV, magazines, books and more. Pressing enter after typing a word will automatically ‘submit’ the phrase, and compare it to the database. The more prominent the noun is with that adjective, the more points the player will score towards the goal of maxing out the bar above. If it is not a pair, the player will instead receive a strike against their name. Five strikes and the player’s score resets back to zero, effectively making their chances of victory slim to none.

Word After Word can be played solo, or with others in a local multiplayer setup that requires multiple keyboards. Thankfully I had a few lying around courtesy of my father, but I know that this might not be feasible for everyone. It is definitely more fun with more people, as you’ll be constantly comparing the words that you put in with theirs while trying to ensure you don’t use the same word twice. If Wordle’s surge in popularity has shown anything it’s that people like competing against themselves and friends with words.

Word After Word is easily one of the stranger titles I have encountered. Unlike many games I slot in here this has more of a resemblance with the ‘software’ category. It dives in to how we associate certain adjectives with nouns, while also providing an aggregate amongst many media sources to reinforce those ideas. At the same time, it plays a lot like a board game with friends where you compete to write as many words as possible.

Regardless of your way and reason to play, it definitely dives in to the commonality of words that we use, and can be seen as an informative dive at the same time.

Links!

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.