Free Browser Games animals


How To Feed Animals

How to Feed Animals is our newest puzzle game. Play through 40 levels, combine the cute animals and feed them to pass each level.


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Animals Puzzle

Find pairs of matching cards in this cute animal puzzle! Select two cards to flip them and see if they match. Remember their position on the field and try to remove all of the cards as fast as you can.


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The cute animals are separated: Unite the pairs and watch them cheer in the puzzle game Animalines!


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Kids Color Book

Color your favorite animals! This fun educational game aids children train their coordination skills and helps recognize color, lines and shapes.


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Kids Puzzle Adventure

Go with us on a puzzle journey! Visit a farm, dive into the ocean or explore the prehistoric age and discover which animals and objects are hidden in the pictures.


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Kids Color Book 2

Color your favorite animals - now with 16 cute new images! This fun educational game aids children train their coordination skills and helps recognize color, lines and shapes.


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Animal Quiz

In this free quiz you can test your knowledge about animals in more than 300 levels. Look at the picture in each level and guess the correct name!


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Woodventure takes you on a journey through a magical forest full of cute animals. Your task in this classic Mahjong connect game is to find pairs and remove all animals from the playing field.


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Kids Puzzle Sea

Drag and drop the animals onto the matching silhouettes in the picture.


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Animals Connect

Match animals in this cute Mahjong connect game and try to earn as many points as possible!


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Match The Animal

This cute educational game is perfect for children to practice color and shape recognition! In three different levels with increasing difficulty, matching pairs of animals need to be identified and connected via a line.


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1010 Animals

Your goal in this addictive puzzle game is to score as many points as possible. Drop cute animal blocks on the game field and try to create full vertical or horizontal lines. As soon as a line is full, it is removed from the field. If there's no space left to add a block, the game is over.


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Momo Pop

Swap tiles and match cute animals to make them pop in this adorable Match3 game! C


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Baboo: Rainbow Puzzle

Help the cute Baboo animals and complete as many rainbow lines in this crazy addictive puzzle game as possible!


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Bad Ice Cream 3

Break blocks of ice, and eat the fruit to win! Bad Ice-Cream 3 lets you play as vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry frozen treats. You will face hungry animals and monsters in 40 icy levels. Create your own icy barriers for protection!


Bad Ice Cream 3 online game


Balloon Escape

These balloon animals are ready to take flight. Can you help them reach the heavens?


Balloon Escape online game


Catchy Bouncy

Join Lucas the magician and all of his friends in this fabulous casino game. Can you master each one of their challenges? They like to mix together classic games like slots and pachinko.


Catchy Bouncy online game


Cloud Critters

DODGE, JUMP AND SURVIVE IN THE SKY! Survive as long as you can in this addictive fast-paced arcade-style hopper game.


Cloud Critters online game



Frogee is here! Tap and jump to reach as high as possible. Collect stars and eat flies for points. Avoid dangerous animals and plants. Jump into a bubble to fly.


Froggee online game


Gooey Yama

Yama is a blob who considers himself a foodie. Help him jump over the obstacles and eat all this yummy stuff.


Gooey Yama online game


Hop Hop Animals


Hop Hop Animals online game


Impossible Cicle Animal

Click the mouse or tap the circle to rotate the animals.


Impossible Cicle Animal online game


Metal Animals

Metal Animals to the rescue! Control a team of cute and furry animals with weapons, and defend the tank from the enemy invasion. Stop the evil animals from destroying your tank!


Metal Animals online game


My Dolphin Show 8

Welcome to a paradise of aquatic sea animals! This ever popular show is unstoppable and offers a splashing 126 levels to play in 6 different worlds. Perform amazing tricks like doughnut jumping, splashing the audience and even score a soccer goal! Play various mini-games to keep your dolphin motivated. Are you ready to jump in and dive into a world of fun with your cute dolphin? Endless splashing fun!


My Dolphin Show 8 online game


Paws to Beauty: Back to the Wild


Paws to Beauty: Back to the Wild online game


Splish Drago Pong

Splish Drago Pong game is about surviving between two barriers and dodge the enemies, by controlling Drago and other creatures swimming between the two barriers


Splish Drago Pong online game


Funny Animals Memory

Funny Animals Memory Match is fun html5 game for kids and adults that you can play online for free. The aim of the game is to find all matching images to win the game. Choose level mode to play and have fun.


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Pixel Art

The painting has never been so simple and fun. Pixel Art is a pixel-coloring game. Choose your favorite graphics, such as animals, buildings, pizzas or people, and then color them according to different numbers. When you're done, you'll get a nice pixel picture. You can check them in your works. Have a good time.


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Shark Attack

Have you ever wondered what the life of a shark is like? Now you can live it. Swim around the ocean and hunt for your prey. Balance other aspects such as health, air and hunger. Avoid the jellyfish, bombs and fishing nets!


- Hunt other marine animals, including fish, octopus, starfish, crabs, and more
- Collect powerups for health, booster and energy
- Fun elements : attack boats, ships, divers and more
- Avoid the jelly fish, bombs and fishing nets


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Snoring: Elephant puzzle [Transilvania]

Sleepy Elephant snores so loud! Time to wake him up! Help cute animals to wake up Mr. Elephant by rolling, jumping and solving all the puzzles in this animal-themed logical puzzle for kids and adults.
Sleepy elephant and his friends welcome you to Transilvania! TRANSILVANIA world headed by Count Dracula has tons of fun things for you! play right now and not be scared! The cutest scary-based, challenging puzzle ever!


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Animal Match Pet Rescue

Match all same animals to send them to fight with flames, so you need to rescue pets to rescue forest.


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Wheels On the Bus

The wheels on the bus go round and round in this kids activity game. Ride the bus with fellow animals such as Tiger the driver, Elephant, Rabbit, Monkey and Fox.

Listen to the sweet voice singing the song. Allow your kids to work on discovery activities such as tapping on the animals, activating the bus lights, making the bird sing, honking the bus and more.


- cute animal characters
- touch-based activities for kids to keep busy


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Jigsaw Puzzle Domesticated Animals

Feel the laid back village atmosphere and take some time to hang out with domesticated animals. 16 images turned into jigsaw puzzle.


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Metal Animal

Metal Animals to the rescue! Control a team of cute and furry animals with weapons, and defend the tank from the enemy invasion. Stop the evil animals from destroying your tank!


- Innovative drag and drop mechanic: Drag and place metal animals onto strategic positions on your tank.
- Unlimited waves of enemies
- Different animals to control: foxes, cats, pandas, sheep - they all come with guns


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Hangman Animals

Hangman Animals is an online html5 game that you can play for free. Hangman Animals is an interesting puzzle game. Classic word guessing game and this time you need to guess animal related words. Think before you answer or you will be hanged:)! You can take your time and have fun!


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Catch to Animals

Catch to Animals, Click animals for highscore.


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Cute Animal Shapes

Cute Animal Shapes is an online game that you can play for free. This is an interesting puzzle Jigsaw game. This game can help children to learn more animals. You have to use the pieces to make a complete animal shape. You can choose your like animal first, try it. Have a good time.


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Birds Coloring

Birds Coloring is cool birds coloring pages for kids and adults. The game gives lots and lots of pet animals on which the user can draw and colour.


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Exotic Animals Jigsaw

Exotic Animals Jigsaw is perfect choice for jigsaw puzzle lovers. This game gives you the perfect jigsaw puzzle experience. Solve all puzzles and keep your brain sharp. You have three modes for each picture, easy, medium and hard. There is no time limit so you can have a leisurely experience. Have fun playing.


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Little Pony Caretaker

The cutest Pegasus kind pony is always taking care of other animals and sometimes make others to be happy by her amazing singing capability. So,she is so tired and dirty, she needs some care right now. Could you help her to take bathing,treating her wounds and decorating her with amazing outfits? Let's start and make her happy.


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Farm Valley

Build your farm, cultivate and harvest crops. Raise poultry, animals and livestock in the most popular farming game.


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Animal Daycare

Do you want to take care of your own pet in real life? Animal Daycare can help you. Pet care games with levels offer hours of fun to boys and girls who love animals and dream of becoming veterinarians, dog and cat groomers or animal hairdressers!


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Wild Animals Jigsaw

Wild Animals Jigsaw is perfect choice for jigsaw puzzle lovers. This game is about exotic wild animals and it gives you the perfect jigsaw puzzle experience. Solve all puzzles and keep your brain sharp. You have three modes for each picture, easy, medium and hard. There is no time limit so you can have a leisurely experience. Have fun playing.


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Cute Forest Tavern

A flood of cute animals are invading your tavern! They do not want to use your toilets but eat all your ice-cream stock! Quench their thirst before they get impatient. Send them the ice-cream and retrieve the glass when they finish. Beware; some animals are thirstier than others.
Cute Forest Tavern is a game of skill, speed and reflex in which you must distribute ice-cream. With these multiple counters, send the ice at the right animal.


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Deep Sea Fishing Mania

It's a nice sunny day and our little friend, the Happy Penguin, decided to go on a fishing trip for cute sea animals and fishes to put in his little aquarium – come and experience the joy!


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Exotic Sea Animals

Exotic Sea Animals is perfect choice for jigsaw puzzle lovers. This game is about sea animals and it gives you the perfect jigsaw puzzle experience. Solve all puzzles and keep your brain sharp. You have three modes for each picture, easy, medium and hard. There is no time limit so you can have a leisurely experience. Have fun playing.


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Cartoon Hidden Stars

Cartoon Hidden Stars is fun hidden objects html5 game suitable for all ages. I hope you like the cartoons and animals. This game is about cartoon animals and you need to find hidden stars hidden somewhere on the screen. Find all hidden stars to enter new level. No time, no rush. Have fun playing.


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Miners Adventure

Grandpa and grandchild are embarking on an adventure to collect the precious stones which are located under the ground. But it will now be easy to collect some sort of treasures other than the precious stones because of some kind of traps and dangerous animals. You should solve the puzzles inside of the game by cooperating with your friend and you should get out from the mine tunnels.


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Drawing & Coloring Animals

Here is a set of children's coloring with animals that will be interesting to both girls and boys.
Pick up the tools in the bottom to draw on Screen and paint the Characters. Use the Hand Tool to Zoom/Pinch Zoom & Drag the picture.


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Cartoon Animals Puzzle

Cartoon Animals Puzzle is perfect choice for jigsaw puzzle lovers. This game is about animals and it gives you the perfect jigsaw puzzle experience. Solve all puzzles and keep your brain sharp. You have three modes for each picture, easy, medium and hard. There is no time limit so you can have a leisurely experience. Have fun playing.


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Become a Puppy Groomer

A game for all the animals who are really looking to be cute. The time for revenge has come. Go to the other side ! You now are a superb groomer. You can use all instruments and take care of the pets. Some of the animals will really surprise you.


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Memory Match Jungle Animals

Memory Mach - Jungle Animals is a game that will test your visual memory and help you develop it, find pairs of animals.


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Super Raccoon World

Raccoon brothers are embarking on a huge adventure in the world of monster chickens, scorpions and some other creatures. In this chapter, what they need to do, is to collect all of the corns by avoiding the animals and after the corns are done, they should go back to their home which is in the tree hollow. You can start the game quickly by passing through the checkpoints inside of the game levels when the players health is over and when you completely fail.


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Become An Animal Dentist

A game for all the animals who are tired of being tortured by their dentist. The time for revenge has come. Go to the other side! You now are a superb dentist. You can use all instruments and take care of the pets. Some of the animals will really surprise you.

Become an animal dentist, is a skill game in which you will tear, cure or clean a multitude of animals teeth. You will find all the accessories of torture, as in a real veterinary dentist place. You will learn how to handle them.


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Jungle Hidden Animals

Find the hidden cartoon animals within time limit and there are many levels to find the animals and let's see your score have a try!


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Safari Chef

This chef loves feeding his pets! He’s gone as far as traveling the world to find the best dishes for animals. Join him around the globe and help him prepare his finest creations – visit 6 different countries (Brazil, Spain, Greenland, Mexico, Kenia and Japan, with a total of 90 unique stages) and learn about as many animals as you can while you feed them. Handle, mix and cook over 50 kinds of food , every animal has particular diets and restrictions! Good luck, rookie cook!


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Animal hunters

Sniper guns in the game hunt different animals,like deer, rabbits, wolves, pigs, hawks and swans. get some money, upgrade their equipment, improve the attributes of equipment


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Take a weekend trip through forest full of cute animals in this classic mahjong connect game.

Mahjong connect games have simple rule: two tiles can be connected if path between them has maximum of two turns. Your target is to clear whole board.

During game you can use three types of bonuses:
- hint: will show you one of next possible match,
- bomb: will blast random pair on board,
- reshuffle: will reshuffle all tiles on board


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Doodle Farm

Doodle Farm brings cute animals that you can use to breed and create new animals on your Farm.
Do you know how to create a dog or a tiger? Which two animals put together can create a third one as a result?
Does Cat + Dog = Tiger? Or does Duck + Herring = Penguin? You will find these answers and more as you mix and match creatures to build an entire animal kingdom, starting with just four creatures.


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Pixel Art 3D

Let’s play with tons of amazing 3D pixel arts! Pixel Art 3D has an incredibly wide range of categories of arts that you can color, like animals, vehicles, foods, and much more! Chose an amazing 3D pixel art that you want to color. Select a color and simply press and hold the blocks with the same number to fill.


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Didi & Friends Guess What

Didi and Friends, popular kids animation with over 1 billion views on Youtube is here with a brand new game.

Guess the hidden character, then drag and drop the matching picture to reveal it.

Teach your kids and toddlers to spot patterns, and get rewarded with happy smiles from Didi the Chicken and his friends!


- Learn everyday objects, animals, environmental elements and above all, the brand new set of Didi and Friends characters!


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Welcome to Stompfeed! A Fast paced addictive skill game.
Feed the animals the right food gain points make combos and have lots of fun.
An easy and intuitive gameplay awaits in this game that will have you hooked to your phone by testing your reflexes and your memory. Travel to a far nature reservation and take care of the animals by giving them their favourite food... And beware of the hungry dinosaur... WAIT!!! WHAT?????


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Animal Rescue 3D

Little animals at platoon stations are crossing the road back to the farm. Can you help them avoid passing cars?


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BTS Animals Coloring Book

BTS Animals Coloring Book is an online game that you can play for free. In this coloring book that belongs to you, you can create your own color world. Choose any image you want to paint to fill it, then use the brush to choose the color you like. I believe that you can make a colorful and perfect painting. Enjoy this game and have fun!


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Kids Cute Pairs

Let your kids enjoy a traditional game of Concentration. In this game they can play in three various difficulties, each with its own unique pictures including fruits and vegetables, musical instruments and animals. Therefore it provides challenge for kids of all ages. The game also includes mode for two players so you can play together!


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Kids Zoo Farm

Take your kids to visit cute animals at the zoo or at the farm. Your kids will not only learn about the animals from all around the world but also hear how they sound! They can even feed them and see what each animal likes. After the visit, kids can participate in a fun quiz and guess which animal is behind the curtain based on its sound.


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Cute Zoo

Welcome to cute Zoo! There are many cute animals - tigers, elephants, penguins and many others. Baby animals need your help and care. Heal the animals, wash and feed them. Play with the baby animals in fun games. The tiger cub loves to play with a toy mouse, the baby elephant loves balls, and penguins love to dive and swim. Have fun playing the game «Cute Zoo».


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Magic Zoo

Rather, come to Elisa’s magical zoo. Look at how many wonderful fairy-tale animals are here: griffin, unicorn and even a dragon! Help the princess take care of these fantastic creatures. Have a great time with the game Elisa Magic Zoo.


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Puppy Rescue

Control your helicopter to save the puppies. Then, bring them to safety.

Be careful, don't collide against other objects!

Can you navigate quickly and get the 3 stars?

Note: no animals are harmed in the making of this game.


- Interactive tutorial
- Cute and helpless puppy dogs needing rescue
- Play with keyboard, mouse or touch
- Over 20 challenging levels
- Each level gets progressively harder. Evade different objects such as hot air balloons, aircraft, moving platforms and more


/goto-gd-69e7a71a4f6a4dcfa5f35554bf7806eb Adventure online game


Blocks Puzzle Zoo

Rescue the captive animals by placing the block shapes onto the field to connect the keys with the cages!

Category:[{"id":"get-10","name":"Get 10","thumb":"https://img.cdn.famobi.com/portal/html5games/images/tmp/180/Get10Teaser.jpg"},{"id":"zoo-boom","name":"Zoo Boom","thumb":"https://img.cdn.famobi.com/portal/html5games/images/tmp/180/ZooBoomTeaser.jpg"},{"id":"1000-blocks","name":"1000 Blocks","thumb":"https://img.cdn.famobi.com/portal/html5games/images/tmp/180/1000Blocks_Teaser.jpg"}]

https://play.famobi.com/blocks-puzzle-zoo [{"id":"get-10","name":"Get 10","thumb":"https://img.cdn.famobi.com/portal/html5games/images/tmp/180/Get10Teaser.jpg"},{"id":"zoo-boom","name":"Zoo Boom","thumb":"https://img.cdn.famobi.com/portal/html5games/images/tmp/180/ZooBoomTeaser.jpg"},{"id":"1000-blocks","name":"1000 Blocks","thumb":"https://img.cdn.famobi.com/portal/html5games/images/tmp/180/1000Blocks_Teaser.jpg"}] online game


Connect Animals : Onet Kyodai

In CONNECT ANIMALS ONET KYODAI game, your goal is to find all matching pairs. It's a kind of matching game or connect game ("linker"), that is very fun to play, really challenging and very addictive. If you like cute animals and if you like puzzle games, you will love CONNECT ANIMALS ONET KYODAI, by far the best deluxe version of the Onet type games.


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Candy Smash

Your candy buddies are here and do not expect from them anything less than long hours of fun and entertainment.Candy Smash is fun addictive match 3 game.Match 2 or more candies to play the game.
And if the target is animals remove the candies and touch the animals to the ground.


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Pony Pet Salon

In Pony Pet Salon, get ready for some styling! These ponies are adorable, but each wants to have a new look. As one of the most talented stylists in the Ponyville, can you help these adorable animals?


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Merge Tower Animals

Merge Tower Animals is one of the Best casual games in 2019. Merge the cute animals to improve their power. Collect millions of coins to buy new animals, destroy thousands of enemies and reach higher levels.


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Snowy Delivery

Guide the snowman to deliver the gifts to the forest animals. Santa will be very happy.


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Funny Rescue Zookeeper

Amia had a bad day today at the zoo. As a zookeeper, Amia is responsible for taking care of all the animals there. Only today, things did not go as they should and Amia had a quite serious accident. Let's treat Amia so that she can return to take care of her beloved animals.


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Animal Connection

You can test your pattern detection skills in this relaxed puzzle. Animal Connection features 3 different game modes and 30 puzzle stages so you can enjoy matching cute animals for quite a while.


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Cartoon Animals In Cars Match 3

Cartoon Animals In Cars Match 3 – this cool game three in a row, in which you have to put the blocks of the same color in a series of three pieces or more to achieve the highest possible score, be careful to account the scale to the left did not fall too low, otherwise the game will be over. Enjoy the game!


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Funny Animals Match 3

Your funny animal buddies are here and do not expect from them anything less than long hours of fun and entertainment.Funny Animals Match 3 is fun addictive hyper casual match3 game.Match 3 or more same funny animals to play the game.


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Animals Mahjong Connect

Connect all the animals mahjong tiles and clear the board in this html5 animals puzzle games.


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Masha And Bear Cooking Dash

Animals in the forest are hungry. Who will feed poor animals in this food making games? Masha and Bear of course! With the help of kids, this restless little girl will be cooking food for every character from the popular cartoon “Masha and the Bear” in this food games! But each animal wants different ingredients. Find them all in this cooking dash and make the best oatmeal ever!


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Happy Animals Memory Game

This is game with happy animals, and your job is to match two same animals. It is easy and interesting. Choose in which mode you want to play and start the game. Use mouse to click on cards, or use finger on your phone.


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Ice Age Funny Dinosaurs Coloring

All children love to paint and paint! Today we will fall into the Ice Age, this is the time when dinosaurs still walked the earth. Among them are herbivores and predators. Color these amazing animals of ancient times. Use the slide bar on the right to select the desired color. Drag the panel with the palette using the left mouse button. Enjoy this new game «Ice Age Funny Dinosaurs Coloring»!


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Animal Guessing

There are many animals in the wonderful nature. Come and guess what they are.


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Animals Collection

Collect the animals in this game. Press any animal to start. Now move the 'mouse or finger tip' on identical adjacent animals (horizontally, vertically or diagonally). Select at least 3 animals. Release mouse button to make the match. Each 6th animals will give a bonus. More than 7 animals will give a time bonus. Collect the request animals within the giving time, or you will lose the game.


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Little Cat Doctor Pet Vet Game

Inside the family pet medical facility game, there are many adorable animals that you, as the best pet physician, need to rescue!


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Cute Animals Sky Fall

This is fun game with animals. You have obstacles on the sky like rocks and plains so tray to avoid them. You control an animal that is falling from the sky with your mouse train to collect more stars. Heave fun with this interesting animal game.


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Fun Learning For Kids

This education game is suitable for the toddlers and kids. It helps improve their awareness of shapes and surrounding things like toys, animals, fruits, and vehicles. There are many nice and colorful images in the game.
Let's start learning and have fun!


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Kids Memory Wild Animals

This is memory game with wild animals. In this game you can learn Wild Animals and to play with this animals as memory game. Click on the squares and lessen the name of the animal. Lear and play in this memory educational game for kids.


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Animal Shapes

In this game, you are given four animals and four shadow shapes of these animals and have to match each animal with its correct shape and fill all these shadow figures. Whenever you match all animals correctly, you will win the level. This game’s gameplay, graphic and theme makes it a very interesting and suitable choice for kids and can teach them about different animals.


/goto-gd-b548c9b5e9154f15b83dd19babc9a3ff Puzzle online game


Cute Animals Coloring

Let's enjoy coloring your favorite cute animals and make them happy with your coloring sense. Have a great fun!


/goto-gd-b25e167bf604448b8f3bf88daf46d365 Girls online game


Animals Valentine Coloring

The cutest pet animals are waiting for making them colorful and more beautiful. Could you help them? Have a great fun!


/goto-gd-cd1bdf058bce4eae8e9fe8b1561ec0af Arcade online game


Merge TD

Merge Animals is one of the Best casual games in 2020.Merge the cute animals to improve their power.Collect millions of coins to buy new animals, destroy thousands of enemies and reach higher levels.Merge 2 animals of the same kind and same level to improve its level and make it stronger

You have the perfect time killer at your hands,You can play this game any time anywhere, due to the simple game controls.The gameplay is fun and challenging


/goto-gd-3660111c33a14acbab431350a55c1c4e Puzzle online game


Amazing Animals Jigsaw

Fantastic Jigsaw game with rare animals.


/goto-gd-b36af5729d4c4f0ca400d668029328cb Puzzle online game


Princess Animal Dressup Party

Dress-up, dress-up aaaand more dress-up! That is what awaits you in this awesome new game called “Princess Animal Dress-up Party!” Join your favorite princesses and help them dress up as their dearest animals. Make sure to have lots of fun!


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Farm Animals Jigsaw

Farm Animals Jigsaw game is free online game and you have 6 images of animals in their farms in three modes to play. Choose one of the mode for the game that you previous choose and start to play. Drag and drop the pieces to solve the puzzle and create an image. Enjoy, and have fun!


/goto-gd-7a4dd89594714887b104b92676c2d8c7 Puzzle online game


Cute Animals With Cars Difference

Cute Animals With Cars Difference is a free online coloring and kids game! In this game you will find eight different pictures which have to be colored as fast as you can to obtain a great score at the end of the game. You have 23 different colors to choose. You can also save the colored image. Have fun!


/goto-gd-945c1f52b3ac476aa16f784818da763d Puzzle online game


Pet Doctor : Animal Care Game

Pet Doctor : Animal Care Game for children! This animal care game is a really entertaining educational game for children up to 8 years old with which you will learn to take care of your favorite animals.


/goto-gd-4a98f2a16e56413792624287abe7e44f Arcade online game


Wild animal hunting

Feel the fear inside your heart as this wild animal hunting game will take you to a ride in jungle safari. This is FPS hunting game with awesome weapons and wild animals. Your all jungle hunting skills will be tested in this wild animal hunting 2020 game


/goto-gd-2d12e019394b41b4b46a49220b32bcfc Action online game


Happy Animals Jigsaw Game

This is jigsaw game with cute animals. You can play from 4 up to 24 pieces in image. Put the images in right position and have fun. This is easy game and you will have a lot of fun.


/goto-gd-85ad672e4f6e4d79aa5ad376d38fc972 Puzzle online game


Cross That Road

Have you ever felt the adrenaline of dodging traffic while crossing the road? Jump into the role of small animals desperately trying to reach their destination – whatever it may be – and cross as many roads, railways, and rivers as you can!


/goto-gd-a589caffdf954b508c218ac98c9506ae Hypercasual online game


Jungle Dino Truck Transporter 2020

This big transport truck driving simulator is not like all the other cargo transporting games because with this amazing truck parking game you will transport ancient animals… The angry dinosaur are going to be transported to the whole new ancient dinosaur world where the other prehistoric beasts live.


/goto-gd-0cdf5f497cc44217a281d511f2e27ff5 Adventure online game


Green Park Escape

Green park escape is a point and click game developed by 8B Games.
Imagine that you had been to a park with your family to have a fun. You found animals resting under the tree. Your kids were eager to catch the fish from the water. You got trapped inside the park with family the security did not noticed you playing inside the park he locked the gate and went away. Now here is the interesting puzzles and hidden objects, to get escape with your family from the greenery park.


/goto-gd-7c490502a9dc4c038407d5d73130fd05 Puzzle online game


Wild Bear Hunting Game

This addictive free game gives you a taste of the African savanna and the real jungle life. Jungle is filled with wild animals and you will have to hunt animals and show your skills and power. Be a wild beast and feed your hungry nature. In this wildlife simulator game, some wild animals might resist on your attack and pounce on you, so beware and go for the kill. Hunt, fight with animals and complete quests


/goto-gd-5faf5d991e394cd3ab7ac57fd9bdc5b1 Action online game


Animal Zoo Transporter Truck Driving Game 3D

Complete challenging animal transport missions its not some crane operator and zoo constructor game. Play this immersive wild forest animals transporter simulation game 2020.


/goto-gd-f1ef2310b2af44479273f7c355633ddb Arcade online game


Real Jungle Animals Hunting

Real Jungle Animals Hunting is free fun when one is a professional hunter as an unprofessional will expose his life in trying to kill energetic creatures.This is an amazing and addictive action and Adventure game to take you to an ultimate adventure in the most realistic environment with tress, grass, outdoor, mountains etc. best world forest places.
How to play:
WASD or Arrow Key -> Move the player
R -> Reload Gun
Right Mouse Click -> Zoom
L - Lock/Unlock Cursor
Q- Switch Gun


/goto-gd-32b1173d9f134580b73924cf60e56009 Action online game


Preschool Games

In Preschool Games you can find and play four different puzzle games for preschool kids. You can play with colors, shapes, animals and numbers.


/goto-gd-919bc954654542b1bb4f2b3b19c02b1f Puzzle online game


Animals Puzzle

Play with 6 images in this perfect jigsaw puzzle game: Animals Puzzle. All images is with the animals. Solve all puzzles and keep your brain sharp. You have four modes for each picture, 16 pieces, 36 pieces, 64 pieces and 100 pieces. Enjoy and have fun.


/goto-gd-e5a2cf635eb34cb693056a6ab4eb7d80 Puzzle online game


Learning Farm Animals: Educational Games For Kids

Farm animals are cute, happy and funny! Our interactive educational games for kids kindergarten are creative and help children develop fine motor skills while learning about domestic animals that live on the farm!


/goto-gd-b7d8337f7c2244fe9dc4e09a63e68607 Girls online game


Find Animals Pair

Find Animals Pair is memory game with animals. Pair two same blocks with animals. Pair them all fastest as you can and try to pass all levels. Click or tap blocks to flip.


/goto-gd-86ed2003616a407686bc2d40a67309b9 Puzzle online game


Jungle Jump

The goal of the game is to help the animals cross the river safely. Help them bounce across the river to a safe place.

There are lots of collectibles. Lives and fruit points are few among them. Collecting rotten fruits will make the wooden paddle smaller. There are some interesting and funny power ups for the paddle.

Jungle Jump is a game for kids with cute characters and funny sounds. Have a fun with your kids and their cute animals


/goto-gd-dd7002b4076e425fa4eda86d3390d8dc Adventure online game


Dinasaur Hunt

In the forest, you have to hunt small dinos or other animals and make them your prey. They can feel your presence and can smell, so don’t make noises when you’re ready to hunt them! The sounds will drive you crazy to play and kill the wild animals of the era.
How to play:
WASD or Arrow keys -> Player Movement
E ->Eat Animals


/goto-gd-78df71c0e61a491ca270244dd36aedf0 Action online game


Hangman Challenge

At the top of the screen you will see a hint, it will direct your thoughts in the right direction, suggesting from which area the hidden word: animals, transport, school, fruit and so on. Click on the letters, choosing them from the set below. If any of them is correct, it will appear on the line. If there is none, the rope will begin to appear, then the head, and then the limbs one at a time. If a gallows draw before you guess the word, you lose.


/goto-gd-c062d53d85834621874a138ef173857d Arcade online game


Animals Jigsaw Puzzle Horses

Drag and drop the all picture pieces to their exact locations to complete the pictures of the animals - horses. The game comes with 8 pictures and three difficulties: 2x3, 3x4, 4x6.


/goto-gd-2eadd28dd01b433c8f1205f9c1e58044 Puzzle online game


Dream Pet Link

In Dream Pet Link you must connect identical tiles to each other to clear the board. It features cute animals such as lions, penguins, or sheeps. Play through all the nine levels of the game and make the best use of the limited time to match the identical tiles to make them disappear.


/goto-gd-f9de399f8d324adc828279e73f43951c Puzzle online game


Pin Rescue

Help. Your friend is trapped! Need your help to escape from this dangerous room. You need to meet and escape! Don't get hurt by dangerous animals or hidden devices!


/goto-gd-6a80509bd1f940b19fc7e4104482d059 Arcade online game


Creative Collage Design

You can design all kinds of creative collages: princess dresses made of flower petals, animals made of leaves; you can also use these collages to create your own story...You will love it!


/goto-gd-1de9ddaac8704c2da398d853479e11c9 Girls online game


Wild Hunt: Jungle Sniper Shooting

It is time to get your hunting gear, your gun, sharpen your senses and chase wild animals in realistic locations. Become the predator or a pray!


/goto-gd-548f5a6ac60e43148ceb3ed04b4266e5 Action online game


Funny Forest

In this Match 3 you must feed tender animals to move forward, each of them has their favorite fruit, this beautiful game is a real challenge.


/goto-gd-1376b752a7e142c081f798f3df7c3e2b Arcade online game


Find a Pair Animals

Welcome to the cute animals game! You want your kid to have fun and improve his skills in problem solving, concentration and memory at the same time? Then Find a Pair: Animals is the right choice! This free game contains 5 levels with animals.


/goto-gd-e5772000cf34474e97ff87a77d5b5eea Puzzle online game



Animal.io is an interesting multiplayer online game. Control your animal to push others off the platform by swinging your tail. Meat can increase your size and hamburger can add the length of tail, the mushroom will become little size but faster. Kill your enemies and win the game! To unlock more adorable animals!


/goto-gd-c84867a474c84d3198238a78060ec9ba Multiplayer online game


Animals Mahjong

Simplified classic Mahjong game with animals. You can eliminate pair of similar items. You can select only those pairs which have at least 2 adjacent sides open.


/goto-gd-c433a26c3156499e9d835e899d5b141a Arcade online game


Animals Memory Matching

This is a memory matching cards game with animals images.
Remember the card you touch/click and find the matching card.
This game is a brain game.
Play and Enjoy!


/goto-gd-08cd3ab1d8634dc9ad76385a9d8dbb68 Arcade online game


Animal Rescue Robot Hero

One of the best doctor robot flying ambulance simulator in Wild animal robot rescue games which have extreme challenging ambulance driving and rescue missions in animal robot transport ambulance games. Emergency Animal rescue game honors you with very noble act of helping the troubled animals of Doctor Robot flying rescue games 3D. Your role is to act like an ambulance emergency robot doctor on duty of safari animal rescue game who has special sympathy for injured animals of Grand Creature medical clinic. This act of kindness may prove life saving for the safari wilderness rescue hero of Grand rescue Dr Robot challenge games who is in some painful condition in Flying Animal ambulance transporter game due to some careless move on Grand Animal delivery . Place a full stop to all your other business to be a Robotic rescue Mission speed hero as there is nothing more precious in Crisis rescue creature transportation than to save the life of wild animals of Grand Hero robot rescuer City animal games.


/goto-gd-9c4be7197e89493ba91141490222125a Adventure online game


The Farmers

The goal of the game is only for players to build a farm that is completely their own according to their own preferences. Players can cultivate their own land, grow vegetables, fruits or fruit trees, or breed chickens, ducks, cattle, sheep or other creatures. Every time you breed, plant, or reclaim land, you will spend gold coins, and gold coins are obtained by harvesting agricultural products. Each time you harvest, in addition to gold coins, there are also experience improvements, including the farm, your own characters and the proficiency of certain vegetables. As the level increases, players can gradually unlock everything in the store, including vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, animals, fish, buildings, roads, and decorations.


/goto-gd-c0e63b3458f54f858ce516e785107f67 3D online game


Little Animals Coloring

What can you do if we give you a magic brush and a magic paint? Do you trust your abilities? Cute animals are waiting for you to add color to their lives, don't make them wait any longer, click now to start the adventure!


/goto-gd-8cb6416b41494b2082349350c6340154 Arcade online game


Girl And The Bear Dentist Game

This is a fun dental clinic game that combines Martha and bear cartoon characters! New tooth care game for all boys and girls! We will become pet doctors to treat tooth decay together! This is a pet doctor for the protagonist to treat all animals, for everyone to bring clean teeth family game!


/goto-gd-9aa4f928e4574550adb5e34641dbf27c Girls online game


Real Doctor Robot Animal Rescue

Real Doctor Robot Animal Rescue and Animals doctor game 2020 is of unusual nature among all the Ambulance Rescue Game or rescue robot monitoring system game with the blend of Animals Rescue Game Doctor Robot 3D games due to its different challenges in Doctor Rescue Mission Game and Animal Rescue game offline free 3d real mission.


/goto-gd-cb65f8bdb8604b0a9acae43e5618c6f4 Action online game


Hidden Cute Animals

Can you find all cute animals hidden on the image? Beware, many of them look similar, and you have limited time. Try to get maximum number of stars on each of 16 levels.


/goto-gd-fa0f77253b1047139bc760740ba632ee Puzzle online game


Animal Name

Animal Name

With the Animal Name game you learn the names of animals in a fun way on your phone, tablet or computer.

Game developed by:

Animal Name

With the Animal Name game you learn the names of animals in a fun way on your phone, tablet or computer.

Game developed by:


/goto-gd-945bdbee665e4f778195eb23e9429e40 Puzzle online game


Adopt a Pet Jigsaw

Adopt a Pet, hey guys, you love animals, right? Then this animal friendly puzzle will interest you. There is a very important message to people in this puzzle that when we decide to share our home with a pet, we must take them off the streets. Thus, we offer a cozy home to sweet animals living alone on the street. Adopt a Pet, in the puzzle game you will find 12 different great graphics on the subject, complete the puzzles, be happy.


/goto-gd-74c50bca8f804342bd43ee839cafdd8a Girls online game


Animals Jigsaw Puzzle Tiger

Drag and drop the all picture pieces to their exact locations to complete the pictures of animals - tiger. The game comes with 8 pictures and three difficulties: 2x3, 3x4, 4x6.


/goto-gd-e0368609daba45c59e0f394eefe4cc74 Puzzle online game


Wild Animals Coloring

Wild Animals Coloring is a free online coloring and kids game! In this game you will find eight different pictures which have to be colored as fast as you can to obtain a great score at the end of the game. You have 23 different colors to choose. You can also save the colored image. Have fun!


/goto-gd-1a8a831c85c34b899b2393fb7a99008a Puzzle online game


Spot the Difference 2

We're back with the 2nd edition of our popular Spot the Difference game.

Find 3 differences each, between the two pictures.

Pictures range from animals, to people, to household items and scenic views.

Can you solve the puzzle before the time runs out?


/goto-gd-4dd80219e1504a0da2b368f44e27f23b Puzzle online game


Animal Life Cycle

Animal Life Cycle

With the Animal Life Cycle game, learn about the life of animals in a fun way on your phone, tablet or computer.

Game developed by:


Animal Life Cycle

With the Animal Life Cycle game, learn about the life of animals in a fun way on your phone, tablet or computer.

Game developed by:



/goto-gd-82f890b4a03e4cd387af615e06591b82 Puzzle online game


Farm House Farming Games for Kids

Farm House is the best village farming and town-building game. The farmhouse is a classic simulation game, as a farmer, your role is to manage the farm, feed the animals, produce and build the city.

Become a farmer, let's do all the farming-related work and help build the city, Take care of your farm, feed your beloved pet, increase agricultural production using modern technology and trade your products with the help of a machine, buy land and develop your farm village.


/goto-gd-9eb1efbbcb544772a70d5d9ff7a6206f Farming online game


Animals Puzzle

Animal Puzzle is jigsaw game with Funny Animals. There is four interesting images with happy animals. Select your favorite image and put the mixed pieces in right position. This time will be easy because you can view the image in background.


/goto-gd-b010c765e74f469da2a8b195fbc59a9d Puzzle online game



Animal Paint

Paint the animals with the colors of your choice on your phone, tablet or computer.

Game developed by:


Animal Paint

Paint the animals with the colors of your choice on your phone, tablet or computer.

Game developed by:



/goto-gd-428a893c58a1449d8ff56711a5c9c26f Puzzle online game


Children Doctor Dentist 2

In our new exciting game, you will manage a real dental hospital. And every day you will have to see many patients - funny animals. All of them have the only problem - their teeth hurt. And all of them need to accept and provide medical care. And actually you have such a unique opportunity. Using modern medical tools, you can help your little patients.


/goto-gd-225102bed76847d99248bfe52a2fc17d Girls online game


Cartoon Animals Differences

Cartoon Animals Differences is a fun game of spotting the difference in 5 scenes with cute cartoon animals. In this game there is a challenge for everyone with a easy game play.
The clock is ticking, compare the images and find all of the differences quickly. Kids from 5 to 9 will have fun finding the differences and your child will develop and improve his or her visual skills and their sense of observation while playing this game. Have fun playing.


/goto-gd-912fe377de6249a58dd876db48a387b6 Arcade online game


Toddler Coloring Game

Draw all the colorful animals step by step. Painting for kids will be the best pastime! Watch as a drawn crocodile comes to life and dances to rock-and-roll, or a fox performs a salsa dance in our toddler coloring pages.


/goto-gd-dd1a9663953d4eb7820b9cfb7c104ecc Girls online game


1010 Animals Tetriz

‘1010 animals tetriz’ is a very addicting puzzle game. Pick the block groups from the left panels and drop in the board to create horizontal or vertical line of 10 blocks. Keep playing until you can fit the available blocks in the board.


/goto-gd-f816baced41c42958b92a54118efa663 Arcade online game


Survive Alone

You are left alone on a lonely Island. It is up to you to survive on this island full of wild animals and harsh weather.Can you craft material needed for your survival on this island?Craft items ,farm food, hunt animals, light a fire and eat fruits. Remember to keep yourself hydrated, well fed and happy. Try to keep living till the next day.


/goto-gd-5c8a95d81dea482cb4e9f07df37f6c6b 3D online game


Funky Animals Coloring

Funky Animals Coloring is a free online coloring and kids game! In this game you will find 8 different pictures which have to be colored as fast as you can to obtain a great score at the end of the game. You have 23 different colors to choose. You can also save the colored image. Have fun!


/goto-gd-d480e08ed9054202847df6d8621f4033 Puzzle online game


Adam and Eve Crossy River

Oh NO! What have Adam AND Eve gotten theirselves into this time?! Help Adam & Eve Cross the River in this BRAND NEW STYLE adventure! Make sure they both do NOT drown or get bitten by giant crabs and other dangerous animals while making it safely to the other side! Test your skills and timing and try to reach the highest score


/goto-gd-f645389032434403a986a283085489c5 Adventure online game


Baby Taylor Farm Tour Caring Animals

Taylor and dad will visit uncle James, a man who lives in a farm with lots of animals. Taylor is so excited to be there to see the farm animals she never seen before. Uncle James will teach Taylor how to care these animals. Do you want to learn with Taylor together? You will meet pig, sheep, duck, turkey and shepherd in the farm. Enjoy your farm life!


/goto-gd-630aaf29588446bbbe0eaea6ddfb0ec2 Girls online game


The 5 Best Mortal Kombat Final Boss Fights

Mortal Kombat, which was developed by Ed Boon and John Tobias, has been enthralling gamers for over 25 years with its bloody fighting and gory finishing moves. Following the release of utterly BRUTAL and violent 2021 movie, which pretty much nails the fatalities and characters, let’s look back at the franchise and the best Mortal Kombat final boss fights.

5. Shang Tsung (Mortal Kombat)

“Your soul is mine!”

Shang Tsung Mortal Kombat Final Boss FightsShang Tsung

Shang Tsung, who first appeared in the original 1992 game, is a powerful soul-stealing sorcerer from Outworld who also acts as the tournament’s host.

He embodies cunning and decadence, as shown by his fondness for lavish parties, grand palaces, and fashionable attire.

The character can transform into any fighter in the game, even turning into Goro and dealing huge amounts of damage.

When Shang Tsung is not shapeshifting into other fighters and performing all the signature moves, he will start shooting screaming skull fireballs at you, giving you very little time to breathe.

4. Onaga (Mortal Kombat: Deception)

“It is said that there is only one true ruler of Outworld… and that ruler has returned.”

Onaga Mortal Kombat Boss BattlesOnaga

Onaga, the ancient Dragon King, is the former emperor of Outworld.

Not much is known about the Mortal Kombat: Deception boss, except that his army was thought to be unstoppable and that he was once defeated by Shao Khan.

Onaga is impervious to projectiles, has devastating melee attacks, and can produce wind with his wings that knock fighters back and do damage.

Also, uppercuts don’t launch him in the air, and he cannot be thrown either. If that’s not enough, Onaga, being a dragon, also constantly spews flames and fireballs at you.

Fortunately, there are Kamidogu (mystic relics crafted by the Elder Gods) at the edges of the stage which you can use to weaken him.

3. Kronika (Mortal Kombat 11)

“The new era begins.”

Kronika Mortal Kombat Boss BattlesKronika

Kronika is a Titaness, a divine being of a higher status than an Elder God. She is the Keeper of Time, the Architect of the Universe’s Destiny, and the mother of Shinnok.

In the Mortal Kombat 11 storyline, she perceives a conflict between the powers of good and evil and tries to restore harmony by erasing the timeline and rewriting it from the beginning.

The Titaness is capable of summoning fighters to fight for her as she attempts to reshape the Sands of Time. She teleports continuously and uses projectile attacks to destroy her opponents. Kronika can also enlist the help of nearby animals, such as dinosaurs, to attack you.

Her time-bending attacks are insane, reversing your moves and making it difficult to react quickly. If she lands any move on you, expect to be drawn into a long combo that ends with you taking a lot of damage.

2. Shinnok (Mortal Kombat X)

“And all of Earthrealm will learn the truth of death.”


Shinnok is a vengeful, powerful god of Death who seeks death and destruction in all realms. He is the franchise’s primary antagonist, alongside Shao Kahn.

The Fallen Elder God has three different forms in which you can encounter him: Imposter, Bone Shaper or a Necromancer.

In Imposter form, he can mimic the move sets of other fighters.

When in Bone-shaper form, he can make weapons out of bones and attack you.

And in Necromancer form, he can summon skeletal hands to strike or catch you.

When the character absorbs the life force of Earthrealm through his amulet, he transforms into Corrupted Shinnok, a demonic creature with tremendous strength and the ability to control fire and lava, which he uses to shoot lava beams.

1. Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat 9)

“All realms will tremble before me! Outworld will again be conquerors, never the conquered.”

Shao KahnShao Kahn

Shao Kahn the Konqueror is the Emperor of Outworld, and for the most part, he has been the Mortal Kombat series’ main antagonist and probably the toughest final boss.

Kahn is known for his callousness, cruelty, and ferocity in combat, as well as his penchant for personal executions.

Although Mortal Kombat 9‘s Shao Kahn is very similar to his character in MK2 and MK3 in how he attacks, this is his most powerful incarnation. He’s far more complicated here.

The character wields his war hammer more often, charges almost constantly (which deals huge amounts of damage), throws spears at you, kicks you across the stage (this is Sparta!), taunts you and even has his own fatalities.

The emperor of Outworld’s sheer strength and ferocity sets him apart from the other Mortal Kombat bosses. He is without a doubt the most powerful boss fight within the entire franchise.

Which Mortal Kombat final boss fights finished you? Who rates as your toughest fight? Comment below!
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Monster Harvest Release Date Delayed For More Features

The Monster Harvest release date has been delayed so that the developers of the monster collecting and farming ARPG "could focus on incorporating important content." What do these additions include? Well, players can now look forward to a dungeon minimap, more crop variations, the farm size expanding, and a new female character model. There will also be variant dungeon rooms with some rare and unique encounters, unlockable Planimal attacks, new additions to the town and an overhaul of NPC's and relationships, and more structured goals and rewards for completing certain milestones in-game.

What is the new Monster Harvest release date?

Monster Harvest is now set to release July 8th, 2021 digitally on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. Publisher Merge Games will release physical editions on July 20th. Previously, the release date had been set for May 13th on PC and Switch, with Xbox and PlayStation releases in June.

What is Monster Harvest?

Monster Harvest is a pixelated farming simulator where you can mutate your crops with the Slime in order to create companions who will beat the crap out of everything that gets in your way. There are over 72 mutations, so there are a lot of different Planimals for you to get as you explore the world and take on the evil SlimeCo. in turn-based battles. There's also three unique seasons: Dry, Wet, and Dark, so you'll have to monitor your plants in order to get your preferred Planimals.

Quick Take

While the delay isn't an awesome thing, a lot of these things seem like basic inclusions that the game needs to have, so it makes sense that the game would be delayed in order to ensure that things such as a dungeon minimap will make it into the game. It's only about a two month delay, so it's not a huge deal. Still sucks, though.

What do you think of this announcement? Are you planning on getting a Monster Harvest digital or physical copy? Let us know in the comments!


No More Robots Unveils Gene-Splicing Tycoon Game

Let's Build a Zoo
Let’s Build a Zoo is set to combine zoo management and genetic meddling.

Have you ever wanted to build your own zoo and populate it with horrifying genetic abominations, nightmares that would put Alien: Resurrection to shame? Beasts so tormented that their existence is sheer agony and, as you walk past their cages, their eyes tell you they just want to be able to die?

No, us neither. So it’s a blessing that Let’s Build a Zoo is taking a cutesy approach to gene-splicing and zoo management. Published by No More Robots and developed by Springloaded Games, this zoo simulator not only lets you create and manage a zoo but you can also mash-up animals to create over 300,000 new beasts.


That should stop people complaining. Otters too boring, you say? Let’s see what you think of the BearShark! Oh, and look, someone just happens to have left the cage open. Don’t worry, the Giant SquidOwl will take care of it. We’re hoping that there will, indeed, be some Jurassic Park style consequences for breeding animals and failing to adequately safeguard your visitors.

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Let’s Build a Zoo will be coming to Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC this Summer. There’ll be a closed PC beta very soon; you can wishlist it on Steam right now.


Cats &, dogs Review and Opinion

Cats & Dogs (2001)
Director: Lawrence Gutterman

review by Emma French

Funny and diverting, Cats & Dogs never quite lives up to the excellence of its high concept. Two species secretly battling for world supremacy via an ultra-sophisticated underground espionage network is a terrific pitch, and though there is plenty done with it, flaws in both the execution and the animation detract from its achievement. Very much a film of two halves, the first half's somewhat plodding exposition, over-emphasis on the dull human characters and moments of cloying 'a boy and his dog' sentimentality feels lazy and underwritten. Fortunately the closing scenes' enhanced pace, commandeering of screen time by the real stars, the animals, and laugh out loud comic moments are surprisingly redemptive, and ensure that the film ends on a high note.
   The human subplot provides 'the science part' of the story, as the obsessive research of Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum) into curing human allergies to dogs in his basement laboratory has significant implications for the feline versus canine conflict raging around him. Oblivious to both the war and his neglected wife and son, played by Elizabeth Perkins and Alexander Pollock, Goldblum gets a unwanted reality check when Mr Tinkles (voice by Sean Hayes), the superbly villainous cat leader, who eats up the screen and gets all the best one-liners, kidnaps him and his family. Despite the brilliance of the scenes where Mr Tinkles holds the family hostage, Goldblum has far too few opportunities in this film to demonstrate his considerable comedic talents. Fans of his dry humour as Jurassic Park's chaos theorist will be disappointed by the extent to which he plays it straight in Cats & Dogs. The Brody family dog, Lou (Tobey Maguire) is suitably disingenuous and puppy-like when initiated into his role as a spy dog by the gruff veteran Butch (Alec Baldwin) but lacks charisma. Miriam Margoyles is suitably grotesque as the maidservant Sophie who loves to dress Mr Tinkles in the most demeaning outfits imaginable. A rather one-note actress, her part here recalls her Nurse in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, and is also in many ways a less sinister retread of her role in End Of Days.
   For a Hollywood blockbuster, the animation quality is disconcertingly variable. Facial expressions of the animals as they speak, for example, at many moments fail to convince. The script tries with varying degrees of success to pull off the double act of accessibility for kids but enough jokes to keep the adults happy that Disney animated features have led film audiences to expect. On the other hand, the gadgets, including a doghouse equipped with the type of radar equipment and tracking devices that would have made Q proud, and features such as the elite band of ninja cat assassins, are ingenious. Cats & Dogs is a fun way to pass 90 minutes at the movies and it is easy to see why children love it, but it will not be giving Shrek a run for its money on the level of artistic achievement.

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Chimera Review and Opinion

Chimera (1991)
Director: Lawrence Gordon Clark

review by Tony LeeSpoiler alert!While working in a busy NHS hospital, nurse Tracy Pickford gets a better job in a private fertility clinic. Travelling up from London to North Yorkshire, she's leaving behind boyfriend Peter Carson, a journalist heavily into film trivia (an article on Douglas Fairbanks' fencing tutor anyone?). He's not too happy about Tracy's move, especially as the first he hears about it is when he's disturbed by the noise of her going-away party. From the ensuing row, we learn that their relationship was not working - but their final parting isn't really bitter and they promise to keep in touch.
   The Jenner Clinic is out in the country, very quiet and far away from the bustle of a city casualty department. All seems normal, but for the off-limits section where they keep test animals, and the unchallenging nightshift Tracy is assigned to would be boring except for mysterious activities centring on those out of bounds laboratories. The clinic's test-tube babies programme is just a cover for advanced research into genetic engineering, and we see that Dr Jenner (David Calder) is displeased at a lack of progress in some areas of the secret project. He wants something to satisfy the clinic's financial backers, a product he can patent. A worried Tracy calls Peter for help, unsure what's really happening as nobody tells her anything. Midnight staff meetings and sudden panic actions increase her suspicions, which prove well founded when one of the experimental subjects manages to escape...
   This is the opening episode of Zenith/Anglia's TV production of Chimera (aka: Monkey Boy). Four 50-minute instalments of a miniseries adapted by Stephen Gallagher from his 1982 novel, and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, maker of the gripping IRA thriller Harry's Game (1982). The show was first broadcast on British TV in 1991. According to producer Nick Gillott: "Chimera is a controversial story about... scientific research that may be going on in secret, and about how such developments may be covered up by the government." But how can you make a drama out of something unseen and unknown? "We aim to convey the fear that is aroused when an ordinary man or woman tries to find out what is really going on behind the façade, and meets the forces of darkness," says Gillott. Meeting those sinister forces in Chimera is actor John Lynch (best known to genre fans for his supporting role in Hardware, 1990), who plays crusading journalist Peter Carson.
   "There are some highly emotionally-charged scenes about issues which are now very topical," says Lynch, and he considers the issue of genetic engineering particularly relevant. "The stories that are around about such developments, and the things that can be done in theory are frightening, and not far away from what Chimera is dealing with." In his role as reluctant hero Carson, he has to deal with the shock of discovering girlfriend Tracy has been murdered along with everyone else at the Jenner Clinic. (Actress Emer Gillespie's heroine is unexpectedly killed off very early on in Chimera, in a plot twist reminiscent of Hitchcock's Psycho).
   While local police scour the Yorkshire Moors for whoever's responsible for the first episode's climactic massacre, and the sullen Carson struggles to contain his grief, the fiendish Government figure of Hennessey appears. Played with a dour malevolence by Kenneth Cranham (co-star of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, 1989), this character brings a whole new dimension of political repression to Chimera. "I suppose I have played more than my share of nasty types, but I am getting used to it," Cranham notes. Does he think the story of Chimera is realistic? "I wouldn't put anything past them," he says, referring to the speculative SF background of Chimera's nightmarish scenario. On his arrival in the sleepy Yorkshire town nearest the Jenner Clinic, the antagonistic Hennessey orders all police out of the area, and calls up an army of khaki-clad 'specialists' who throw a security web around the site. Highly placed and powerful, Hennessey conducts the cover-up with a sorcerer's finesse, using his telephone like a magic wand, mutilated victims disappear en route to the mortuary, the press are officially gagged by a 'D' notice, and the regular police's mass-murder inquiry is abruptly cancelled without any explanation to the detective in charge.
   The narrative splinters, following a number of twists and themes. Lone survivor of the Jenner Clinic's staff, Alison Wells (a pivotal character played by Christine Kavanagh) had foreseen trouble and left work early on the night of the slaughter, she returns to aid Hennessey's plot to conceal the truth and avoid a public scandal. A sign-language expert is called in to interrogate a laboratory chimpanzee at the clinic, and this leads to one of Chimera's moments of bizarre humour, when we learn the ape can indeed communicate and hold broken conversations in an Anslang version of the system used by deaf and dumb humans. "Tell him he gets no more chocolate until we get an answer," Hennessey instructs the sign-interpreter. While on a nearby farm there's something lurking in the hayloft of an old barn, where a couple of over-imaginative kids have tea parties for their new friend, 'Mr Scarecrow'.

orphans Peter and Sarah (Andrew Leighton and Jennifer Harris) are unaware of the danger they're in...   

In part three, Peter Carson's subversive investigation uncovers Dr Jenner's dark past, including details of the probably illegal, certainly unethical genetic engineering experiment, he initiated a decade ago. A revolutionary project that led to the laboratory creation of a human-ape hybrid called 'Chad'. This creature has been kept alive purely for experimental purposes, imprisoned in Jenner's secure clinic. Now he's out roaming the countryside, a lost and lonely figure on the run from paramilitary teams and helicopter patrols. The police also pursue Carson, on orders from a concerned Hennessey, bothered about reports of the journalist's prying into classified areas of MoD activity. Carson manages to escape into London's backstreets with his videotaped evidence showing the chimera Chad's existence, intact. After these revelations, the doubly tragic dénouement of part four, is neither unexpected or long in coming. "It's not over yet," vows Carson. But later, in a post office sorting room, we see Hennessey confiscate copies of an incriminating video that had been mailed to the press.
   An uneven mixture of mad doctor SF, maniac-on-the-loose thriller, conspiracy chiller and monster hunt, Chimera is peppered with obvious yet delightful B-movie imagery, broken chicken eggs, animal cages littered with childrens1 toys, blood splattered on white medical coats - all simple but effective symbols of a complex, nerve-jangling and ever-popular theme. Writer Stephen Gallagher did his homework before starting the original novel, "I came across claims [that scientists] had produced a chimera, but had destroyed it at the embryo stage," he says. The rapidly advancing technology of genetic manipulation is, he states, "a Pandora's box." Adding, "the economic pressures for such progress... could provide cheap labour and military fodder, and (chimeras) could be harvested for transplant organs... my main fear is that we could have a slave species with no rights, who would live for nothing but exploitation. It would be social cruelty on a mass scale."
   This prophetic idea is included in the TV adaptation (which Gallagher confidently tackled following his experience scripting Doctor Who), in a chilling scene showing a most unusual production line. "The story is full-blooded and does not shirk the issues," he claims. "We show a creature which does terrible things to his victims, but who is just as much a victim." The 'chimera' Chad is played by actor Douglas Mann, under sophisticated makeup and animatronics devised by Bob Keen of the Image Animation effects house that worked on such Clive Barker monster-horrors as Hellraiser (1987) and Nightbreed (1990). The problems of making Chad believable as a half-ape character, fell upon primate consultant, Peter Elliott. An animal trainer who perfected his art of 'chimping' on such movies as Greystoke (1984), and Gorillas In The Mist (1988), he coached Doug Mann in simian movement and behaviour to prepare him for the demanding role of Chad, "a monster with a heart," says Elliott. "He is just a misunderstood guy [but, he explains] ...adult chimps are eight to ten times stronger in the upper body than man, and have the emotional stability of a one-year-old (human) child."
   In Chimera, the physically 'superhuman' Chad rips and stabs his way through the supporting cast, to escape certain death at the hands of Dr Jenner when his experimental life is deemed over. The violence though, is explicit only by the usually restrictive standards of television, and it's unlikely to bother anyone who has already started school - despite the TV announcer's dire warnings about "scenes... which may disturb."
   So is this, as Ken Cranham claims, "[a] Frankenstein of the 1990s," or merely sub-Quatermass techno-fear? Chimera does have its moments of compelling suspense and low-voltage shock, which easily eclipse the highlights of that earlier TV foray into the questionable values of genetic research produce, the absurd First Born (BBC, 1988). But, compared to other topical, fantastic, small screen dramatic-thriller serials of the era, like the nuclear-charged Edge Of Darkness, or even the quirky mysteries of Twin Peaks, it's a generally tame and only mildly interesting effort. Chimera is well intentioned, certainly, but perhaps a little too polite for the fervent tastes of your average gorehound.

previously published in US fanzine, MONSTER! #76 (April 1992)Related item:
tZ Stephen Gallagher: Jack Of All Trades - interview by Tom Matic

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The fly plus sequel and remakes- film reviews for zone-sf.com Review and Opinion

The Fly (1958)
Director: Kurt Newmann

Return Of The Fly (1959)
Director: Edward Bernds

reviews by Rob Marshall

"Fetch me a bowl of milk laced with rum." You ought to know the plot of this old movie. The Fly features a scientist who accidentally swaps heads with an insect after tinkering with a teleportation machine in his basement. The first 25 minutes play out like a murder mystery, as the Delambre family struggle to come to terms with the death of husband and father, André (Al Hedison). The scientist's brother and business partner, Francois (Vincent Price), tries to comfort the grief-stricken widow, Hélène (Patricia Owens), but she's the main suspect in what seems to be, at the very least, a case of manslaughter.
   One of the most eerie moments in this anti-technology SF horror on the loss of humanity involves the unexpected disappearance of a cat. Used by André as a live test subject, the unfortunate pet vanishes into the ether with a ghostly whine, and is never seen or heard from again. This chimes with the fate of another feline test animal in H.G. Wells' novel, The Invisible Man. In that book, obsessive scientist, Griffin, succeeds in making a cat invisible before trying his process on a human, but the cat slips out of an open window and is gone forever. In both cases, there is no comment on the innate cruelty of disposing of felines by advanced but unreliable science! Cat lovers everywhere may have a fit at the Delambres' lack of guilt or concern.
   The final scenes of The Fly, in which dodgy visual effects reveal a tiny human face on the fly's body crying out for help because it's stuck in a spider's web, have passed into genre legend as the epitome of high camp, and are often parodied.
   "The murderous brain of a fly!" A sequel, Return Of The Fly, appeared in the following year. It centres on the efforts of André's grownup son, Philippe (played by Bret Halsey), to repeat his father's experiments - but this time with an unlikely happy ending. Although terribly uneven (the man/rat hybrid is quite ridiculous!), this is a watchable thriller with a robbery and espionage plot. Phil continues his dad's research with a lab assistant who tries to steal the invention's blueprints to sell. So, greed and betrayal are added to already tragic circumstances, which see the creation of another fly-headed monster.
   Price is back as the concerned uncle, reluctantly agreeing to support and fund his stubborn nephew's experimentation with matter transmission. But unlike its predecessor, this shorter and ironically less ambitious film was shot cheaply in black and white instead of the colour used on the original. A further sequel, The Curse Of The Fly was produced in 1965.The Fly (1986)
Director: David Cronenberg

The Fly 2 (1989)
Director: Chris Walas

reviews by Christopher Geary

As the original 1950s' version of The Fly was set in Montreal, it was appropriate that Canadian David Cronenberg was chosen to co-write (with Charles Edward Pogue) and direct a new adaptation of the story.
   Cronenberg's The Fly is an intelligent revision of a much-loved yet cheesy SF monster movie, which dispenses with the flashback structure of the 'classic' film and opts for linear storytelling. It's a romantic triangle that can only end in tragic death, with an extraordinary central performance by Jeff Goldblum as reclusive scientist Seth Brundle, who becomes involved with journalist Veronica (Geena Davis) after she agrees to document his work.
   Instead of the fairly silly makeup effects seen in previous Fly movies, the new script focuses on Cronenberg's familiar theme of biological mutation and body horror, so the transformation of man into monster (Brundle into 'brundle-fly') is accomplished slowly, mimicking the grotesque symptoms of a leprous disease, explained as changes made at the genetic level during the teleportation procedure. (The instantaneous jump from one 'telepod' to another has spliced human DNA with that of a fly!) At first, Seth appears to have been improved by the experiment but, soon enough, his newfound athleticism is found to be only the initial stage of his disturbing mental and physical degeneration. Somewhat amusingly, the onset of his passion for sugary foodstuffs coincides with his increased (virtually Olympian) sex drive.
   Cronenberg also explores various stages of the psychosis that so frightens poor Veronica, especially on the discovery of her pregnancy. Apart from addressing the issue of pro-choice for abortion, The Fly also tackles irrational anxieties about AIDS, in a memorably poignant scene where Veronica unhesitatingly embraces Seth's grotesque body to comfort him.
   Before long, the ultimate inhumanity of grossly lumped brundlefly becomes apparent, but not before Cronenberg indulges his sense of humour in a crassly obvious dream sequence - as a doctor delivering Veronica's wriggling grub-like offspring - and Goldblum delivers his tour-de-force monologue on the hitherto unexplored subject of insect politics. He admits to his former lover: "I'll hurt you if you stay," and, even under thick layers of makeup, Goldblum's fearfully darting eyes and faltering voice reveal not only that Brundle's conscience and compassion is slipping away, but that he knows it's happening. It's a powerful scene of human horror that ranks highly among the best genre movie performances of all time, yet Goldblum was shamefully overlooked at the Oscars.
   When it comes to Hollywood sequels the often-repeated blunder is to highlight the shocks and effects, while casually forgetting about the characterisation, acting and dramatic conflict that made the money shots so effective in the original. With The Fly 2, making this very mistake was all but assured when they let a special effects man direct. Perhaps this decision was inspired by the relative success of Stan Winston's engagingly atmospheric Pumpkinhead (1988), but they could not have seriously expected lightning to strike twice in the monster movie field in so short a time.
   Eric Stolz (from Mask) plays Brundle's mutant son Martin. Daphne Zuniga (of Spaceballs fame) plays his girlfriend. Together they are trying to escape from the depraved clutches of industrialist Bartok (Lee Richardson), who prompts Martin into continuing with his father's work. Objects and animals get teleported, but no people. Eventually, Martin's genetic heritage reveals itself and things get messy in the biological sense. The resulting creature takes a graphic revenge on Bartok and his security men...
   Despite some impressive effects work, and seemingly increased production values, The Fly 2 is as predictable as the lunar cycle, and a wholly pointless sequel lacking in the poignancy and imagination of Cronenberg's film.previously published in VideoVista #35

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Light ages Review and Opinion

The Light Ages
Ian R. MacLeod
Pocket paperback £6.99

review by Simeon Shoul

Robbie Burrows grows up in a small Yorkshire pit-town, a pit-town with a difference. It isn't coal that they dig out of the ground it is Aether. A fluid, weightless, mystical substance, Aether (and the spells that control it) makes steel stronger, edges sharper, machines better. It makes and powers pumps and locomotives, enables telegraphy (almost telepathy), and lets the Guildmasters who know its secrets sculpt mythic beasts from common animals for the entertainment of the aristocracy...
   Aether has created an Industrial Revolution with a twist, at once magical, and brutal, founded of equal parts mysticism and sheer hard, bloody sweat. Poverty - still plenty of that around. Inequality - loads of that too. Pollution - oh yes, and of the nastiest kind. A little bit of Aether is a blessing, too much of it is a curse. Robbie Burrows gets to discover just how much of a curse Aether can be (radiation has nothing on it!). Rebelling against its domination of his life, and against the stultifying hard reality of his home, he flees to London, to bright lights, dark underworld and gathering revolution.
   Robbie, though he doesn't know it, is seeking both for balance in his own life and the world of privilege and poverty he inhabits, and for answers to how that world works, and why it is so disordered and unjust. Naive, and often careless, he stumbles in his search for answers, his awkward semi-courtship of an Aether-afflicted girl, Anna, his place in the gathering revolt aimed at the dominating Guilds. MacLeod has created a parallel world with careful, even meticulous precision. He is a measured, graceful writer, not in a hurry to thrust his characters into crises, content to allow drama to grow slowly out of the fabric of a discontented, restless life. Robbie slips from gutter to gala with the awkwardness of a semi-educated and gauche northern boy, this is reality as fantasy, with no cheap and easy solutions.
   This is at once the strength of the work, and its weakness. Many readers may feel dissatisfaction at the gradual development of the story, and crave harder, more complete answers. But MacLeod is alive to this. Robbie also craves hard answers, and if MacLeod denies them to him, that is a statement about how the world, even in fantasyland, really is. This is a mature, complex fantasy, a touch melancholy perhaps, but admirable for its depth and conviction. It won't please everyone, but for some it will prove a welcome relief from the mad scramble and cheap shortcuts of so much current work.

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Lost skeleton of cadavra Review and Opinion

The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra (2004)
Writer and director: Larry Blamire

review by Michael McCarty

The 1950-1961 period was the golden era for low-budget grade-Z science fiction movies. With a lot of heart and ambition but not so much talent - young filmmakers would create such B-movie cult classics as Plan Nine From Outer Space, Robot Monster, and Attack Of The Crab People. With no name actors, a cameraman and a few thousand bucks, independent studios would venture off to Bronson Canyon, California to make a quickie cheapie sci-fi horror picture.

The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra is a re-creation of those cheesy pictures of yesteryear. I had to check the DVD cover twice to make sure this film wasn't made in the 1950s - it has the look, lighting, production-value and tacky props from that time. The movie was done totally in the spirit of that era - the script was written in five days, the film was filmed in ten days and the whole thing cost less than $100,000 - probably the whole budget for Spider Man 2's catering bill.

The story is about a quirk couple, the Armstrongs - he is the scientist, she is the Betty Crocker-like wife (played by Fay Masterton) who discover a meteor that crashes nearby with high levels of "that rarest of all radioactive elements - atmosphereum" - Dr Armstrong (Larry Blamire) says. Mad scientist in need of a bad shave, Dr Fleming (Brian Howe) also wants the atmosphereum so he can bring the lost skeleton of Cadavra to life, and then rule the world. As it turns out an alien couple from the planet of Marva also need the atmosphereum for the ship to return home. The plot thickens when the aliens' mutant monster escapes. Then Dr Fleming transfers four different animals into one human female the sexy Animala (Jennifer Blaire), who charms with her cat-like manners.

The film has several funny lines, all delivered in deadpan style:

"Betty, you know what this meteor will mean to science - it could mean actual advancements in the field of science." - Dr Armstrong.

"Meow." - Animala.

"Aliens, us? Is this one of your Earth jokes?" - alien Kro-Bar (Andrew Parks) pretending to be human.

"You don't know the lost skeleton of Cadavra, but you will, you will." - Dr Fleming.

"I have risen." - The Skeleton.

There is plenty of rolling comedy with such sci-fi silliness as the skeleton crawling up the side of the mountain with wires showing all over the place, the bad dancing of the aliens and the unbridled passion purring and licking of Animala. Filmed in 'Skeletorama' this DVD is a laugh riot and, at the same time, a tribute to all those clunker sci-fi flicks from the 1950s and early 1960s.

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Remnant population by elizabeth moon Review and Opinion

Remnant Population
Elizabeth Moon
Orbit paperback £6.99

review by Duncan Hunter

Elizabeth Moon's Remnant Population recounts an apparently familiar SF tale from an unusual angle. An unscrupulous corporation orders the abandonment of an unprofitable colony on a far-flung planet. One stubborn colonist, however, manages to hide and avoids the enforced evacuation. Later, a second attempt is made to seed a colony in a more favourable location on the planet's surface, but shortly after the humans land they are massacred by a force of previously unknown alien creatures. The runaway from the evacuation, now the only surviving human on the planet, listens in horror to the last transmissions of those slaughtered in the massacre. Tension mounts as the aliens set about finding the original colony, determined to learn more about the humans who have destroyed their nesting grounds.
   Whereas the plotline seems at first to conform to many of the conventions of SF storytelling, Moon's choice of main character is original and surprising. Ofelia, the last human on the planet, the 'remnant population' of the title, is an elderly woman. A contract worker who has grown too old to fulfil the agricultural and maintenance duties described by her contract, she nevertheless refuses to move with her family to a new world. Instead she is determined to live out her days in solitude, taking advantage of the lonely freedom of the abandoned colony to tend her plants, care for the colony's animals and take stock of her life.
   These unhurried and absorbing descriptions of Ofelia's gardening and home keeping, rich with the smells and textures of her garden and the steamy climate of the tropical world, offer a welcome change from the preoccupations of many more action-focused SF writers. Choosing an elderly widow as the central character forces us to look at the events of a first encounter in an unusual way. Ofelia, aware that the aliens might appear at any moment, is naturally afraid of what will become of her should she fall into their hands. But when the aliens do eventually reach the site of her colony, their reaction to her is surprising. Although she has been ignored and treated as worthless by the leaders of her human society, the aliens recognise Ofelia at once as a wise and experienced matriarch, whose life experience as a mother and homemaker lends her a unique status amongst their people.
   In the best traditions of SF writing the novel challenges its readers to look at the world from an alternative viewpoint, inverting the assumptions and conventions of our society to demonstrate its rigidity and unfairness. The aliens (actually 'indigenes', since they are natives of the planet, as Moon has her characters point out on many occasions) value Ofelia's experience as an old woman because they prize her skills as a caregiver, educator and nurturer of children more than anything else. Yet the human characters who come into contact with her see her as little more than a useless and inconvenient obstacle to their goals. Humanity's contempt for the wisdom of its elders and caregivers and its obsession with power through the pursuit of academic, commercial and military status is thrown into stark contrast against the 'natural' values of the alien people.
   Moon's novel is an unusual and thought-provoking read.

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Tarot of the cat people Review and Opinion

Tarot Of The Cat People
Karen Kuykendall
US Game Systems paperback + card deck $29

review by Amy Harlib

Karen Kuykendall (recently deceased), an exceedingly talented Arizona-resident artist and writer, wrote the instruction book and designed the 78 cards for this unique and gorgeous tarot set, still readily available. Well-known for her fantasy artwork in a variety of media most often featuring cats and cats with people as the subject, Kuykendall here enriches the traditional tarot deck with imagery and characters from her very personal and original invented otherworld: The Outer Regions.
   The Outer Regions are conceived as existing in a parallel universe, a very magical place divided into six kingdoms that are represented by various precious gemstones that serve as the defining emblems for each ecologically distinct territorial entity. The human inhabitants dwell in sophisticated civilisations that nevertheless maintain harmony with the forces of nature.
   Cats are the favourite animals in all these realms - everywhere revered, loved and even obeyed. The people in each of the sextet of areas, have distinctive appearances, cultures, dress and spiritual/magical practices but all acknowledge a basic underlying sacred Cosmic Order. Kuykendall's visuals depict appealing and wondrous folk, strong men and women that reflect in physiognomy and ornament the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Asia, Africa and Siberia/Mongolia, all accompanied by felines of a variety of species. They are rendered in the artist's unmistakable, unique style rich in exotic detail, gorgeous colours and dazzling lighting effects set-off by beautifully stylised, complementary backgrounds.
   The tarot pack contains full-length portraits of fascinating people in elaborate costumes with intricate jewellery and headdresses. The Major Arcana cards represent the Diamond Kingdom. The suit of Swords embodies the ruby Kingdom, likewise the suit of Wands, the Emerald Kingdom, while Cups and Pentacles serve that purpose for the Topaz and Sapphire Kingdoms respectively.
   The 192-page book describes the Outer Regions in the first section, in considerable detail that reads like an ethnographic account, yet all of it fascinates being the creation of a very imaginative and talented woman. All the cultural and survival activities of these imagined people, fraught with spiritual significance spelled out in the text, are then, in the following segments, directly related to the tarot deck as a means by which to interpret the image, the divinatory meanings and the reverse meanings. This imbues the process of interpreting the tarot with the exciting feeling of travelling and exploring in a fantastic new world as if the plot of a fantasy novel was unfolding while reading the cards. Nevertheless, the relevance to the reader's personal life is also crystal clear. Thus while using the included spreadsheet for performing ancient ten-card readings of the past, present and future, the seeker for knowledge and guidance will enjoy a very special tarot experience, for these cards are adorned with appealing and lovely personages both human and feline that obviously represent characters with rich and complex lives of their own!
   The Tarot Of The Cat People can't be too highly recommended for anyone who appreciates exquisite artwork, cats, special tarot decks and fantasy world building. For those who crave more of Karen Kuykendall's Outer Regions, she co-authored a novel (now out-of-print), of fantastic fiction set in that world with none other than grandmaster Andre Norton, a superb book titled Mark Of The Cat thankfully republished in 2002 by Meisha Merlin in an omnibus volume with a brand new sequel called Year Of The Rat - definitely something about which to purr excitedly!
   Serious ailurophiles, collectors and fans of Karen Kuykendall should seek out her two solo books: Cat People And Other Inhabitants Of The Outer Regions: The Fantasy Art of Karen Kuykendall (1979) and Karen's Cats (1980) - photos and memoirs of her cat companions, both published by Desert Diamond. These beautiful volumes will amply reward those who search for them, for although this lovely artist is sadly no longer with us, her wonderful work lives on.

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10,000 bc Review and Opinion

10,000 BC (2008)
Director: Roland Emmerich

review by Eric Turowski

This one looked a lot like Marcus Nispel's Pathfinder (2007), an action-filled, blood-spattered pseudo-historic epic with no sign of big-name actors. In spite of plot-holes large enough to pilot a super-tanker through, there is a certain satisfaction in cheesy entertainment trying to stitch together a bunch of bad science to make you believe you're actually viewing a possible crisis from a prehistoric era. Yes it's all very stupid, but it's also very fun - hey, it's a fantasy flick, right?

Without spoiling too much, we are assuming this film takes place in Africa (from the final reels, nuff said), which in days of yore contained no woolly mammoths (these were Eurasian and North American ice age critters), smilodons, (big-necked sabre toothed cats - North American, once again... there were other sabre-toothed cats in other parts of the world, but we're looking at smilodon californicus here my friends), nor terror birds (South American predators that eventually made it as far north as Florida before being wiped out by predators coming southward). So all animals in this film are absolutely anachronistic, as is the material from the film's conclusion (but that would spoil it).

Be that as it may, the plot is straightforward fare. A tribe of mountain-dwelling Palaeolithic folks are starving to death, waiting for mammoth migration so they might eat. D'leh (Stephen Strait) is a young man of the tribe, looked down upon because his father abandoned the tribe years before. He has the hots for Evolet (Camilla Belle) because she has goggly blue eyes and freckles. D'leh becomes the Chosen One (the prophecy says the Chosen One marries goggly-eyes), accidentally, during a mammoth hunt gone awry. Tribesmen begin to have a bad feeling about his ability to defeat the Almighty (sound familiar? Yes, it's a fantasy film).

Four-legged demons arrive (harbingers of the Almighty) and capture tribe members, including, of course, Evolet. D'leh, of course, pursues the four-legged demons (actually steel-wielding men on horseback) from mountain to desert to jungle to, well, desert again. Along the way, D'leh puts together an army of disgruntled ancient folks who have had family members kidnapped by the equestrian guys. Anachronistic dangerous-animal encounters ensue, and our band of united disgruntled cavemen experiment with navigation by the stars and dying of dehydration. Somehow, they blunder into the camp of the bad horse guys, and the recent dearth of mammoth and enslavement of Palaeolithic people sort of starts to make sense at the site of a big construction project (condos, I think they were). It turns into a spoiler from here on out, so just go see it.

I've read a lot of reviewers downplaying the CGI in this movie, but apparently none of them saw Hellboy (or Return Of The Jedi, Pitch Black, Crocodile 2: Death Swamp, and all the other blue CGI monsters that were kind of blurry). For me, the mammoths at the beginning of the film looked real enough that I was reminded of dogs and cats and other animals I am more acquainted with. This is a good sign that the CGI animals look and behave like real animals. The rest of the giant man-eating beasts were just as much fun. And for all the writers who griped about the film being cliché-ridden, quite frankly I can't think of anything more clichéd than a bunch of movie critics griping about a caveman-monster flick. Please! (And since you get the nerd version of the critique, you get the much better scientific complaints about monsters out of time and place so you can wow your less-read friends).

The inclusion of Raquel Welch would have garnered a full five-star review (and for the fervent fan of the mega-fauna, you may remove one star), but if you like fantasy films on an epic scale, you owe it to yourself to take peek. I will go as far as recommending a double-feature DVD night with friends (and lots of beer) with 10,000 BC and Pathfinder - see if you can tell them apart after a half-dozen pints.

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Alien worlds Review and Opinion

Alien Worlds (2005)

review by Alasdair Stuart

With the astonishing success of the Walking With... franchise still continuing, Channel Four take the concept in a new direction - into space. A group of ten scientists combined established scientific fact with CGI fiction to imagine what life could look like on other worlds.

What could so easily have been little more than an exercise in CGI wizardry is raised far above that by the sheer audacity of the worlds that have been developed. Split into two hour-long episodes, Alien Worlds examines two different directions life could take, walking the viewer through every aspect of the ecology and grounding it in scientific fact.

Aurealia, the first world explored is, in retrospect, a little disappointing. The eco system is unusual, with animals becoming plants and a race of large, bird-like creatures dominating the planet, but ultimately it's a little too pedestrian. The work done here is impressive and the eco system is designed from the ground up, small creatures called Mudpods providing both food and a foundation for the environment, but ultimately Aurealia feels a little too much like a standard science fiction world.

Blue Moon however, is a dizzying, hugely impressive world. Here, the scientists have modelled a planet with an atmosphere so thick that huge 'sky whales' swim through it, feeding off airborne plankton. Far beneath them, kilometre-high trees catch water in their upper, pond-shaped branches.

From the kilometre-tall trees to the bioluminescent predators that roam its surface, Blue Moon feels completely alien and is an utterly intoxicating place to visit as a result. The ideas on display here are genuinely unusual and it's difficult not to suspect the scientists had a great deal of fun coming up with this world. Whether it's the immense kite shaped predators that tether themselves to the trees, the sky whales or the scavenger hordes that feed on them, Blue Moon is a truly alien, truly memorable world.

Backed up by a making-of documentary and alien profiles, the DVD release of Alien Worlds is a winning combination of fact and fiction. The effects range from good to excellent, the science is sound and there's a real sense of wonder to the whole thing.

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Benny's video Review and Opinion

Benny's Video (1992)
Director: Michael Haneke

review by Jonathan McCalmont

Dating back to 1992, Benny's Video follows on from The Seventh Continent and precedes 71 Fragments In A Chronology Of Chance as part of what has come to be called the 'Emotional Glaciation' trilogy. It is the story of a teenager from a wealthy middleclass family who, when left alone for the weekend, invites a girl back to his parents' place and kills her with the kind of high-powered pellet gun that used to be used to slaughter animals. He then hides the body in his cupboard before telling his parents who help him to cover the whole thing up. But to merely describe the plot is to fail to do the film justice as the force of the film lies in its analysis and deconstruction of Benny's actions.

Much like 71 Fragments In A Chronology Of Chance and the recent Hidden, Benny's Video does not deal in explanations. Haneke claims in the interview included on the DVD that he has no real interest in explaining why Benny chose the particular girl he did or why he killed her, he simply shows us what happens and lets us draw our own conclusions by framing the actions in a certain context. The context in this case, is that of a video filmed by Benny of farmers pulling a pig into the middle of a yard as it screams before killing it with a pellet to the head. Benny watches and re-watches the video, pausing at the moment of death, rewinding and replaying the scene in slow motion as he takes in all of the nuances of the killing. We also know that Benny is someone with a huge fondness for violent films, when after the murder he calmly returns his videos, the shop assistant's voice betrays his genuine surprise that Benny does not take any more films out. Benny's de-sensitisation can also be seen in his room, the windows are covered with stout blackout curtains, and his only link with the outside world is a video camera pointed outside allowing him to take in the view. As if Haneke's point were not obvious enough, the killing itself is shown to us on a TV screen, demonstrating that the violence on screen is not real... it definitely isn't real for us but it doesn't seem real to Benny either, it's just another on-screen murder.

The problem with Benny's Video is that the film is 105 minutes long and this is pretty much the main idea of the film. 'Teenaged boy gets desensitised and kills someone' is not a particularly challenging idea, in fact, it has formed the basis for hundreds of hollow-skulled tabloid and reactionary attacks on pretty much every single non-mainstream art form there is. Given how pedestrian the idea is, I struggle to see why Haneke felt it could support an entire film. Also, unlike Hidden and 71 Fragments, you can sense that Haneke is fudging his "I don't explain, I only deconstruct" methodology as if you show a boy who experiences everything through the media and then kills someone, it's pretty clear that you are showing cause and effect and a description of cause and effect is what an explanation is. You don't need to wheel out Freud or folk psychology to explain an action when you're so scrupulously clear in your depiction of a relationship of cause and effect. So to the extent that Benny's Video is about the killing, I would argue that the ideas are a little thin and the methods and themes are better explored in some of Haneke's other works. Indeed, the included interview shows Haneke providing answers that are a little too glib and easy suggesting that at no point in the conception or construction of this film was he anywhere near the limits of his comfort zone. However, that does not mean that this film is devoid of interesting ideas.

The scene where Benny invites the girl back to his parents' flat is fantastically shot and positively crackles with the kind of nervous sexual tension that characterises teenage sexual liaisons. Benny invites the girl back to his place and naturally takes her to his bedroom where she sits, almost expectantly, expressing an interest in the things he shows her. Before the killing, he levels the camera at her and she smiles, he then leaves the camera on but the image on the TV in the background is of his crotch. The pellet gun even resembles a dildo suggesting that Benny can't distinguish between eros and thanatos... the urge to kill and the urge to fuck. When the pellet gun goes off, the mood is obviously broken but up until that moment there is a real sense that the encounter could have gone a very different way. Benny even acknowledges this as when he moves the body the girl's dress starts to slide upward and he gallantly pulls it back down. The time for that having passed...

Another interesting section comes when Benny and his mother take a trip to Egypt, leaving the father to 'tidy up'. Initially awkward, the scenes show Benny acting very much like a normal teenager, letting his mother in and allowing some affection to grow between them. However, the holiday in Egypt is portrayed mostly through grainy video footage, suggesting that Benny is still not completely connecting with reality. In one telling moment, he sits down in front of the camera, smiles and says "Hi Daddy!" before stepping out of the frame, as though he were trying on a new but equally false face.

Benny's Video is a film that feels stretched. It is full of soporific 'expressionistic' shots of empty rooms and landscapes that serve to give the film Haneke's trademarked coolness but the film's central idea is so slight that it struggles to fill the overly long running time. The fact that the film is so full of atmospheric shots also gives its narrative a piecemeal feeling, robbing the film's admittedly surprising conclusion of any emotional impact. Haneke is too good a filmmaker to create a true dud but, despite some lovely moments, Benny's Video is unarguably one of his weaker works.


Children of men Review and Opinion

Children Of Men (2006)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

review by Gary McMahon

It is the year 2027 and society is breaking down. There are food shortages, terrorist attacks are commonplace, and the city streets are filled with immigrants who are herded up and caged like animals. Mass infertility has halted childbirth across the globe, the last baby was born 18 years ago.

Theo is an office worker with his own demons to wrestle. When he hears of the death of baby Diego, the youngest person on Earth, and then narrowly escapes a random coffee shop bombing, his cynicism at the national grieving that follows the former event is almost overwhelming. Theo is a broken man. He has lost what it is that makes us human: the facility for hope.

Julian (Julianne Moore), his ex wife and leader of a hard-line band of terrorists, asks him to help smuggle a Fijian refugee called Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) out of the country. He accepts mainly for the money on offer, and for the love he once had for Julian and their dead child. But as Theo is drawn deeper into a plot that has massive ramifications for the entire world, and the refugee girl's secret is revealed, his hope slowly begins to reawaken.

The slow apocalypse featured in Children Of Men highlights a world not that far removed from our own: the future is already here, and it's crap. Horror is embedded in the familiar, and the film can almost be seen as a paean to the dreams and ambitions of the 20th century.

Clive Owen is mesmerising in the role of an accidental hero, a man who finds himself lurching from one terrifying situation to the next, and finally stumbles into his own redemption in the face of what might be a miracle. There are also a bunch of great cameo performances from Michael Caine as Theo's old hippy friend Jasper, Peter Mullan as a security officer who talks about himself in the third person, and the ever-lovely Julianne Moore: even the minor roles in the film are essayed perfectly.

The film consists of a series of long single-takes, with the action happening in the background while the camera focuses on the unwilling protagonist, following him into every corner of his perfectly realised world. Action scenes play like newsreel footage - scary, up-close and realistic. One pivotal and emotionally charged scene also contains the best use of CGI that I have ever seen. Stylistically, this is a bold piece of work, and the visual risks pay off spectacularly, especially in the final scenes, where both the authorities and the terrorists attack a refugee camp while Theo tries to save the life of a woman whose wellbeing has suddenly become more important than his own. In parts, I was reminded of Mad Max, the amazing pre-credit sequence of Dawn Of The Dead, 12 Monkeys, The Pianist... but Children Of Men is its own beast with a definite identity. The resemblance to these other films is in only terms of tone and mood, everything else is utterly original.

A special mention is due to the eclectic soundtrack, which is a real treat. The old Rolling Stones' song Ruby Tuesday has never been so moving, or so aptly used. In short, Children Of Men is an astonishing achievement, an intensely moving film about the importance of hope that focuses on one man's hard-fought redemption. There aren't many films like this one made any more, so savour it while you can. See it before it comes true.

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Eden lake Review and Opinion

Eden Lake (2008)
Writer and director: James Watkins

review by Jonathan McCalmont

In the 2009 edition of the Time Out Film Guide, noted film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum argues that going to the cinema is no longer an adult activity, the large screens are dominated by costumed vigilantes, the smaller screens by CGIed animals, and the entire comedy genre has been reduced to a series of crude pratfalls and fart jokes. As evidenced by the sugary beverages and the artificially coloured toxic waste on sale in foyers up and down the country, the modern cinema is built to suit the tastes of the adolescent and the child. This demographic shift might well go some way to explaining why it was that Eden Lake slipped so effortlessly from our cinema screens. After all, why should children want to watch a film that paints them as the villains? Personally, I am not entirely convinced by Rosenbaum's argument but the fact that he would make it speaks to the universality of the idea that there is a tangible and growing divide between the world of the adult and that of the child. At first glance, this is what the film is all about but a more open-minded reading suggests that our willingness to carve the world up in this way is actually part of a wider problem.

Much like Princess Diana prior to her marriage, Jenny (Kelly Reilly) is a prim and pretty young west London pre-school teacher. Her boyfriend Steve (Michael Fassbinder) is equally affluent and equally attractive, with all the bullish confidence that comes from a public school education. Hoping to propose in a romantic setting, Steve takes Jenny for a weekend outside of London camping on the shores of a disused quarry that has since been turned into a lake. Upon arriving at the lake, the couple are disappointed to find that someone is planning to turn it into a gated community. However, these trespasses by the forces of commerce are not nearly as disruptive as the discovery that the lake is also a gathering point for the local working-class children who come complete with hoodies, drum 'n' bass and large aggressive dogs.

Refusing to be cowed, Steve demands that the kids turn down their music, thereby kicking off a series of tit-for-tat escalations that end with Steve being stabbed to death while one of the kids videos him on her mobile phone. This leaves Jenny alone, scared and lost in the woods surrounding the lake as the kids hunt her down for fear that she run to the police. However, lost in the woods without a phone, Jenny does not turn to the police.

Cinematically, Eden Lake is an impressive piece of work. The plot is tightly written, introducing us, elegantly, not only to the main characters but also the worlds they inhabit. The tension levels are artfully built-up and explosively released as the situation for the couple keeps getting worse and worse. The film is incredibly focussed, well made and shot in a similarly earthy style to that used in Neil Marshall's The Descent, which is perhaps unavoidable given that the films share a production team (indeed, Watkins is both a writer and an assistant director on the incomprehensible sequel The Descent: Part Two). The only time Watkins' focus slips is towards the middle of the second act when the characters all start aimlessly running around in the woods until a set-piece turns up. Despite this, Eden Lake functions well on a purely technical level and is, undeniably, an entertaining and thrilling piece of horror filmmaking. However, what elevates this film above other merely well made works of horror such as Greg Maclean's Wolf Creek (2005), is the film's thematic depth.

It is not uncommon for literary critics to speak of horror purely in terms of the effect that it has upon its readers. For example, John Clute's The Darkening Garden (2006) suggests that horror that has been stripped of fantastical elements can only be discussed in terms of this effect. Even contemporary genre critics seem happy to live with this assessment as evidenced by Nick Mamatas' essay on horror in the October 2008 issue of The Internet Review Of Science Fiction. However, such assessments of the horror genre fail to recognise that much of horror's intellectual weight comes not from its capacity to make your spine tingle, but rather its usefulness as a tool of social commentary, allowing writers and directors to put their finger upon man's fears not only about other men, but also man's fears about his own twisted nature.

Indeed, Wes Craven's The Last House On The Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, are both well made and visually shocking works of what Clute calls 'affect horror', but they are classics because they also speak of the American mainstream's fear of the socially marginalised as well as pointing out the savagery and ruthlessness that underpins and preserves the genteel reality of the American middle-class existence. Similarly, Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door (1989) has real power not because of Ketchum's skill at inventing and describing scenes of horrific brutality and abuse, but because of what those acts reveal about the lengths to which humans are capable of going (particularly seeing as the novel is based upon a real story).

Eden Lake continues this grand tradition by tackling the issue of shared spaces and the conflict between different groups that can come from this forced cohabitation. Jenny and Steve are wealthy, attractive, young and live in London. Steve decides to take Jenny to Eden Lake because he sees it as a discovery he made while on a diving holiday. From Steve's point of view, Eden Lake is unclaimed territory. We can see that this is how he feels about the lake because of the visible contempt he has for the planned gated community that is being built around the lake. The people who will be moving into that community are doubtless identical to Jenny and Steve but nonetheless, these future residents are seen as interlopers. Similar hostility is evident in Steve when some local kids turn up on the same beach and begin to spoil the tranquillity with loud horseplay, even louder music and an unrestrained and potentially dangerous dog. Clearly annoyed by these interlopers (despite the fact that they probably spend far more time near that lake than Steve ever did), Steve demands that they turn down their music and control their dog but he is met only with the kind of hostility and complete lack of empathy that is the calling card of 'poorly socialised' teenagers.

Many critics have described the teenagers in Eden Lake as 'feral kids', but this could not be further from the truth. Unlike the children in David Moreau's Them, Eden Lake's teenagers have faces, names and parents. They are in no way feral. They just operate in accordance with different social laws as evidenced by the numerous scenes in which the group of teenagers interact, displaying that Brett is the leader who has the better clothes and the more confident manner while his girlfriend (another status symbol) grants him authority and allows him to determine what the group should do and what is required of its members (tellingly it is the black kid who is most eager to play along with Brett's violence... he is different to the other kids and so his status is the most precarious). Furthermore, when we see the kids' families they are not living in some hut in the hills. Instead they live in detached houses with jacuzzis, barbecues and no qualms about disciplining their children.

As with Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971), these are not young people who are wild and uncivilised, these are young people with a culture, a hierarchy and a set of values that just happen to be largely incommensurable with those of affluent adult Londoners.

Eden Lake is a film about how a diverse culture can result not only in different and seemingly incommensurable worldviews, but also how these clashing worldviews can result in violence when they are combined with shared spaces and a refusal to compromise. Indeed, the issues of age-gaps and class differences are present in Eden Lake but they exist solely as easy handles to latch onto as the film carries us along on its wave of violence and destruction. The kids are not feral, the parents are not incestuous hillbillies or members of some underclass... they are just not affluent Londoners. The film's central conflict stems as much from the kids' refusal to turn down their music when politely asked to as it does from Steve's arrogant belief that he can tell locals what to do when he decides to camp at their spot.

Steve's status as an interloper is conferred through two scenes. The first comes after an initial encounter with the kids when Steve spots one of their BMXs and decided to step into someone's kitchen in order to 'have a word' with the parents. He soon discovers that, despite the open door, nobody is home and he is soon trapped as an angry father stomps about downstairs looking for his son. In one elegant move, the tables are turned and Steve is transformed from tourist with a grievance to burglar. When you see this scene you'll groan at Steve's decision to step into someone else's house uninvited and that's precisely the point... Steve has little respect for the territory of others despite his anger and intolerance of what he sees as people intruding upon his turf, whether it is noisy kids or developers. The second scene comes when Steve and Jenny have lunch in a local café and decide to complain to the waitress about the local kids. "Not my kids!" the waitress spits at them and she is quite right... why would Steve assume that she would know who they were? The waitress tried to deflect the issue politely by making jokes but Steve keeps on asking, thereby alienating the friendly woman. Clearly all the locals look alike to Steve.

Trapped in the middle of this communication breakdown is Jenny. Despite being pretty, affluent and very much a Londoner, Jenny is presented as an interstitial character. Because she is a pre-school teacher she knows how to handle children and so pleads with her boyfriend that he compromise and see things from their point of view. Her cries fall on deaf ears and before long, Jenny is running for her life through the woods. As she lashes out in an attempt to stay alive, Jenny is not particularly discerning in her targets, killing two people that are expressly shown turning their backs on Brett and his desire to kill the couple. On a character level, this is particularly moving as Jenny's character-arc is a mirror image of the ridiculously reasonable character played by Dustin Hoffman in Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs (1971). Where Hoffman's character arc suggests that politeness, empathy and morality are just thin veneers that cover up the raging beast within, Kelly Reilly's Jenny never stops being the pretty and caring pre-school teacher. The point of Eden Lake is not that Jenny's ordeal unlocks the real Jenny that is hidden inside her, rather it is that a failure to compromise and a climate of danger and death can force otherwise good people to do things that are not only morally wrong but also deeply stupid and unnecessary. The fact that we are shown the repercussions of Jenny's foolish actions only underlines the need for cool heads and clear thinking.

If Eden Lake has a theme it is that the things that divide us are ultimately immaterial. You can come from different areas, different classes, different backgrounds, and be very different people but this does not mean that you are doomed to enter into conflict with each other. Instead the film functions as a kind of road-map to multiculturalism that argues the case for a willingness to compromise that takes precedence over more demanding political goals such as tolerance or understanding. This might well appear quite a banal point to be making but it is interesting to note that one of the founding texts of the neo-conservative justification for the 'war on terror' and the occupation of Iraq was Samuel P. Huntington's 1993 article 'The Clash Of Civilisations', and that article (and the book that appeared later) paint the world as divided into a series of incommensurable, uncompromising and eternally hostile monolithic cultural blocks.

This same pre-sociological understanding of how culture works permeates the point of view that Eden Lake is explicitly arguing against. There is no clash between 'adults' and 'kids', 'middle-class' and 'working-class' people or even 'Londoners' and 'middle Englanders', there are cultural differences but it is foolish simple-mindedness to assume that any of these blocks are monolithic or that they are necessarily hostile towards anyone. If critics have talked about Eden Lake as a film about feral teens and working class parents that refuse to control their off-spring it is because the type of people who write (and read) criticism tend to be more like Jenny and Steve than Brett and Paige but the truth is that when it comes to machismo, arrogance and a refusal to compromise then the problems are universal to humanity and not the preserve of any particular age-group or class.

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Escaflowne Review and Opinion

Escaflowne (2002)
Director: Kauki Akare

review by Amy Harlib

Escaflowne (aka: Escaflowne: A Girl From Gaea), a Japanese anime featurebased on a hugely popular TV series, has found limited distribution here in the USA and can readily be found on video/DVD. The up and coming director and creators, with considerable experience already, working on the TV version and on such projects as various Mobile Suit Gundam series, Stardust Memories and the acclaimed Cowboy Bebop series, possess ample qualifications to craft an exemplary full-length movie incarnation of the hit small screen programme.

The story focuses on a young woman, a high school senior named Hitomi (voiced by Kelly Sheridan) suffering feelings of alienation and depression. During a suicidal emotional crisis she experiences the ultimate, life-saving wish-fulfilment - to be transported to some 'other place' where she can feel important and appreciated, thus appealing to the desires of a vast majority of the intended youthful audience. This actually happens when emanations from Hitomi's inherent psychic power enables certain inhabitants of themagical parallel world of Gaea to sense her vibrations. In response, they open a doorway through which they whisk Hitomi away to their dimension badly in need of a prophesied 'Wing Goddess' saviour and our protagonist appears to be the candidate for the job.

Hitomi struggles to overcome her initial confusion and culture shock, for Gaea's denizens include not only exact human look-alikes, but a variety of sentient humanoid animals. Hitomi also learns to accept the awesome role thrust upon her and at the same time to cope with her awakening and burgeoning psychic skills. Hitomi's most significant companions includeyoung Prince Van (Kirby Morrow) with whom she slowly develops a romantic attachment despite his aloofness born of sorrow because of the destruction of his people and country by a brutal civil war instigated by none other than his very own brother Lord Folken (Paul Dobson) who will stop at nothing in his attempts to seize total power.

Besides Prince Van, Hitomi eventually wins the friendship of his chief supporters, members of the Abaharaki Clan who also oppose Lord Folken. They include: the Amazonian warrior Millerna (Venus Terzo), the brave fighter Allen (Brian Drummond), the financial backer, merchant Dryden (Michael Dobson), the mole-man fortune-teller (Terry Klassen), and the orphaned, high-spirited, kittenish, young felinoid Merle (Jocelyne Loewen). The heroes must face the formidable forces of Lord Folken and his sadistic, principal henchman Dilandau (Andrew Francis) reluctantly aided by the coerced, imposing caninoid Jajuka (Scott McNeil) and the ethereal prophetess Sola (Sylvia Zaradick), sole survivor of the conflict's depredations.

Hitomi's uncanny gifts as Wing Goddess represent the only means to summon and resurrect the legendary giant suit of white dragon armour, the eponymous Escaflowne. This device controlled by Prince Van who operates it in a cyborg-like manner from inside the chest cavity, is the sole match for its ebon-hued twin possessed by the Black Dragon Clan that bears its name. Despite the predictable outcome of all this, excitement gets generated along the way by several skirmishes and clashes (with some graphic violence) between the contending factions, building up to the big showdown.

One's interest also gets held by the colourful, vivid, eccentric leading characters, each one fascinating (including the antagonists), the actions and interactions of all hinting at tantalising depths no doubt developed in the TV series. The world Gaea also proves most intriguing with its spectacular landscapes, its exotic flora and fauna, and its myriad ofsentient races and varied cultures possessing a range of levels of technology from super-scientifically advanced to pastoral and shamanistic (these background aspects unquestionably revealed much more over the course of the TV episodes).

Escaflowne's splendidly detailed animation (enhanced by some CGI effects),heavily influenced to its benefit stylistically and cinematically by the masterful Hayao Miyazaki, dazzles the eye. Character and background design of the highest quality and a lovely, lush, dramatic score, offers much to enjoy here and that more than compensates for the basic wish-fulfilment plot which definitely had its amusing and surprising moments nevertheless. The considerable virtues of this anime series and its theatrical featuremake its popularity well deserved. Escaflowne represents excellent entertainment - a fantastic flight to a gorgeous otherworld for all who crave quality fantasy films.

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Flight of the living dead Review and Opinion

Flight Of The Living Dead: Outbreak On A Plane (2006)
Director: Scott Thomas

review by James A. Stewart

There is a popular train of thought in the movie industry that states you should never work with kids and animals. After watching Flight Of The Living Dead you could add zombies to this list. Director Scott Thomas and his strictly C-list cast combine to present a fun, straight to DVD film, but in reality one that adds nothing to the genre.

The plotline is pretty simple, take Snakes On A Plane, replace the constrictors and rattlers with the undead, and you are there. The flight is Paris-bound from LA. In an effort to escape the CIA, a scientist and his cryogenic coffin containing an infected body is on-board only for freak turbulence to release the corpse. The rest is taken from the classic zombie movie recipe book. It is worth noting that Scott Thomas does state that this film (originally called 'Plane Dead') was in pre-production before Snakes On A Plane.

Your take on Flight Of The Living Dead will really depend on your expectations. Fans of the zombie movie genre will feel like they have seen it all before. However, to its credit, at least it is a change of scene for the genre, as opposed to the remakes and rehashes that have been to the fore in recent years. There are also plenty of ingenious methods used in disposing of the zombies and whilst the dialogue is not great, it is actually quite mirthful at times, especially when delivered by the characters who are lifted straight out of the big book of stereotypes. Right down to the hero policeman and the pilot on his last flight.

There will be no need for any of the cast or crew to be preparing acceptance speeches in readiness for the Oscars not coming its way, but Flight Of The Living Dead is by no means the worst zombie movie out there. Indeed, in some ways the tongue-in-cheek delivery of the script and the relationships between the flight staff and passengers saves it from being taken too seriously. Whilst the cast is from the lower end of the star-scale the experienced campaigners in there do a good job of holding it together, Kevin J. O'Connor (Van Helsing, The Mummy, Deep Rising), and Erick Avari (Planet Of The Apes, Stargate) in particular.

Yep, Flight Of The Living Dead won't change your life, but if you enjoy zombie flicks it will make you smile without cringing and it will make you jump, maybe just once or twice. Oh, that, and there is blood and gore aplenty. As an aside, and to avoid any confusion - an online comic with the same title bears no relation to this film, and the creator of that (Scott Ewen) is not part of the Flight Of The Living Dead writing team.

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Shining Review and Opinion

Stephen King's The Shining (1997)
Director: Mick Garris

review by Steve Anderson

Obviously, at some point between Rose Red and Kingdom Hospital, Stephen King suddenly got strapped for ideas. So what did the man do? He said, 'Hey, I know! Rather than do something original, why don't I just bring out something I've already done, give it current special effects and run with it? But since I don't have the budget I had before, there's no way I can get any big name stars... I wonder what that one guy who used to be on Wings is doing?'

And so, one quick call to Steven Weber later, Stephen King had his answer: a completely rebuilt version of The Shining, which bears only a passing resemblance to the original movie, which bore only a passing resemblance to the book. The plot is largely the same, though. Recovering alcoholic and son of abusive parentage Jack Torrance (Weber) takes a job as the caretaker of one of the biggest and most famous hotels in and around Sidewinder, Colorado (not that it's hard to be the biggest or most famous anything in Sidewinder, Colorado) - the Overlook. Jack moves in, planning to spend the winter keeping an eye on the rambling old hotel along with his lovely wife Wendy (played ably by Rebecca De Mornay) and son Danny, played by a pretty much unknown (Courtland Mead) with a total gift for this kind of thing. Damn. Just, damn. The kid communicates fear like there's no tomorrow. He makes Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense look like was a day at Disneyland.

Danny has a gift, which I'm sure we all know about by now, and it comes across this time in the person of Tony, Danny's imaginary friend. No talking to a crooked finger this time - no, no. Danny gets to talk to a real human being-shaped imaginary friend, who looks creepily like the kid from the old Encyclopedia Britannica commercials. Most kids' imaginary friends favour a quick game of hopscotch... Danny's likes to float in midair, alter street signs at will and cause fire hoses to sprout teeth and attack in horrific, death-filled visions of the future.

Off they go into the Overlook, for two long months of paranoia, mystery, the occasional murder and a half naked rotting chick who's got a taste for little boys. Jack goes just as nuts in this version, arming himself, and chasing down his wife and child to kill them in the name of the management of the Overlook. And we're not talking the guys signing Jack's paycheque, either...

But Jack gets a little too caught up in the whole 'kill the family' aspect of the job, and forgets one tiny little detail. Here's a moral for you, folks... the devil is in the details. And when Jack forgets, the Overlook goes straight to hell. Literally. And then perhaps the strangest part hits at the epilogue, where Danny is treated to a Star Wars-esque vision of his dead father during a graduation ceremony from the school his father taught at. And even weirder... Danny in the future looks exactly like Tony did. The Encyclopedia Britannica kid, again. Danny, you poor dumb schmuck! You grew up to look like the kid in the encyclopedia commercials. Hang yourself now!

And the Overlook isn't as dead as we give it credit for... it starts rebuilding this summer. There's a lot that's changed from one version of The Shining to another. For instance, the new version has completely removed the classic "Here's Johnny!" scene. Also gone is the legendary "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" sequence that Jack Nicholson made famous. The axe is also gone.

In their absence, we now have scenes involving moving topiary animals, and a backboard shattered by one of Danny's psychic pulses. Weirder yet, the axe that so menaced the Torrances way back when has now been replaced by a giant croquet mallet that looks and swings more like a solid wooden sledgehammer.

While I'm thinking about it, what's Stephen King's deal with rats? They've been all over his work - The Stand, Graveyard Shift, and now this. And abusive parents, too - ever since It, this has been a theme running through his stuff, child abuse and rats. Plus, we get this line in the middle: "Don't thank me, thank your higher power." Why not name it?

And on a truly nifty note, filed under 'excellent planning', the scene selections appear in blocks of six - moving the cursor across them in order spells out the word 'redrum'. When you compare this 273-minute TV miniseries to Kubrick's The Shining, you find that the new version is much less shiny than the original.

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Toybox Review and Opinion

The Toybox (2005)
Director: Paolo Sedazzari

review by Paul Higson

If the only true crime a film can commit is to be boring then surely the solution is to keep it busy. This appears to be commonly understood. Therein lies the answer to a Brit horror aficionado's problems, the reason we are no longer receiving horrors in the classic mode of old, films that sit comfortably with us in retrospect as unconfused and a complete whole. The viewer meets the pace set by these films and we are always alert, and the new films, as a result, are unable to take us by surprise. Our skin is not given the time to crawl. We are not given the opportunity to ease into a thrill. We experience horror interruptus. We are poked and jabbed by images, words, colours, anything to keep our attention. The makers know how many films are out there and they are desperate to convince us to stay and wonder at their work. Do they ever ask our views? Are they aware that with rare exception (this review, for example) that with everyone badgering and badgered that when something half-decent or excellent comes along, before the word can be spread we are pulled into the next vortex of sound and light? Back to the duration of the viewing itself, in the rave scene the music only appealed when the drugs designed to accompany it were consumed. Many of the films are delivered in an amphetamine rush and the viewer either struggles to keep up or is left behind. Film as a leisure time occupation! Football isn't all goals.

The chief problem in Paolo Sedazzari's The Toybox, on one level, lies in the director's lack of control. This is a good film and there is terrific promise, it's a first feature, so there is no reason not to assume a great future. It's showy on a tight budget, a minor success. Its future could lie in a viewer's memory of the film and its re-examination, but first it must survive the dogfight for a format release that will bring it to the fore. The threat is that The Toybox will become just another noise in a din.

It couldn't be any more English a horror at least, set entirely in the small radius of a Norfolk village, chiefly in a farmhouse. The abode is an unnecessary prescription for reclusion for a young family with the result of a stereotypically disturbed household of father in slippers, mother in slip and children in brain slings. Berenice, the daughter (Claudine Spiteri), is convinced she is the reincarnation of the witch Celeste Noir and the children play a game called "Freddy's Gone Missing" in the kitchen, perilous for Freddy, the hamster, a minor mammal never to clued up on kitchen appliances. In four minutes this viewer is grabbed and is rubbing his hands in glee. Only a week before I was appalled by Michael J. Murphy's payback on a fur-ball mutt in his 1985 Bloodstream, do it to humans, so what, who gives a damn, do it to animals, brouhaha, upset. She recounts for her brother Brian (Elliott Jordan) the grisly local legend of Jake the Midfolker, a man who "carved his own path" between the North Folk and the South Folk. Older, Brian has been suffering during the term time that his older sister has been away at college. Now though, she is returning for the Christmas meltdown, with a boyfriend, Conrad (Craig Henderson) in tow.

Awaiting them is the rest of the family. Grandmother, Eleanora (Heather Chasen), dons her recently deceased husband's clothes to keep him close and alive, unaware of the onanistic sessions he indulged in from his favourite armchair, seemingly timed for the entrance of the granddaughter. Father, Rod (Christopher Terry) is a dull, displaced suburbanite driving his sex-deprived wife, Madeleine (Suzanne Bertish) to the bottle and, over the holiday, under her daughter's boyfriend's bedclothes. Dramatically marching the fields and country roads towards them is the foreboding, stern figure of a man (Alexander Abadzis) with a shadowy hound with red eyes, Jake the Midfolker and Black Shuck (shuck being old English for a ghost) seemingly in a return, and a bloodbath in the offing. Brian's friend Gavin (Christian Westcott) nips over to quit their band and the corpse stack starts to build with Gavin as the foundation brick.

If you haven't already worked it out, the family surname is Usher. There is more than an element of playfulness. That toying reaches out to the genre, but also to primetime British culture and turns in on the plot itself. Sadly, this japery is disfiguring to any threat recurrently engendered. Jokiness precludes what could have been more delicious shocks. By Jove, though, is our interest kept. Unfortunately, the pluses are many but the few faults hang around, brew, build and cull the overall effectiveness of the film as a horror.

With Se7en, Fincher gradually took the contrast down darkening his film and the story in tandem. Sedazzari takes his cue from this with a different tack. He is the latest bad algebra director to mistakenly assume that jittery camerawork can infect viewers with the jitters, to wrongly accept a casual correspondence between the two. As the violence escalates so does the camera movement, but the only effect on the viewer is a wonky eye. The bigger the screen the worse this will be, perhaps they have already decided against a theatrical presentation. A pity that no one was reining the director in as the technical support is splendid. The stationary landscapes of the second unit (in charge, Peter J. Clapperton) and the smooth Steadicam stints of Mike Hawkins impress, and the entire film should have been shot that way, particularly as there was always plenty enough going on anyway. The slightly fish-eyed, blue balance camera chase sequences down country guinnels and, opportunistically, amidst the winter scenery is marvellous. It feels wrong to return to the wrong when the film gives so much but it has to be pinpointed in the hope that there is no repeat of it when the team reconvene for their follow-up feature. So let's list the rest.

The older women are killed off-camera and their bodies never shown. It nags and you ask questions of yourself instead of concentrating on the film. Did the actresses see cadaver work as beneath them? It lacks finality, closure. The performances vary too, most of the acting is absolutely fine, but Christopher Terry is a touch am-dram while Suzanne Bertish is simply too good, reducing the other performances to something of a lesser pallor. Bertish is exciting, her face a dance. She is sparkling and naughty, and steals the show. Her film appearances are all too rare. One day, people may be reaching back to The Toybox if only for this rare glimpse of her talent. Peter Ellis, formerly the Chief Inspector in The Bill is another recognisable face added to the broth, here playing the Vicar, a role to which he is immensely suited. Henderson is familiar too, I'm certain a customary Google will turn up other notable appearances.

The lore engaged in the script shows a genuine love of the receding British history of the lost gods of England. The music is good throughout, mostly the work of Iain Chambers and Miguel D'Oliveira, but something older has been snuck in to the soundtrack. The opening title theme is heavily reminiscent of Coil.

It feels like Saxon Logan's Sleepwalker, only without the politics and at twice the length. It falls into the subgenre of "British horror idyllica" an outpost for strange little films like The Appointment, The Gathering, Expose, Vampyres and Orchard End Murders, capitalising on the beauty of the British countryside. It is an unreservedly English horror show, bless, and the locations in Melton and Saxthorpe in Norfolk are well chosen. It is an intelligent film, but over the top, chronic in its strivings to overachieve. Relax, dear filmmakers, take it easy, unwind, uncoil and strike with cold bites next time. Less is more.

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Asimov's science fiction 372 Review and Opinion

Asimov's Science Fiction #372 (January 2007)
editor: Sheila Williams
Dell www.asimovs.com $3.99

review by Jim Steel

Wow - 30 years already. How did that happen? Since the start of the 1980s, Asimov's SF magazine has been widely acknowledged as one of the heavyweights, and for much of that time it has been the undisputed frontrunner. However, since Gardner Dozois retired as editor it has wobbled. Sheila Williams still puts together a consistently interesting magazine but these days too many of the stories just seem to miss that killer spark. Maybe this anniversary year will add a little zest to things.

Three novelettes make up the bulk of the fiction in this issue. First up is Nancy Kress' Safeguard, which tells of four children who have been brought up since a very early age in a hermetically sealed dome somewhere in America's western desert. The children are genetically engineered to be race-specific plague carriers and were found during the invasion of an enemy nation. As well as the obvious WMD parallels, this story reminds one of the (possibly) apocryphal tales of kings who ordered children to be brought up in isolation to discover what the natural language of humanity was. In this case, the children do have a person - from the outside world - who talks to them, albeit from a sealed suit. She is a researcher called Taney. When an earthquake cracks the dome, these children reach the outside for the first time and go in search of the nearest person they have to a mother. Unfortunately everyone who meets them dies within six hours. It's great set-up, with superbly crafted characters, and is not overly sentimental. And don't forget that there is the aftermath of a major earthquake mixed in with this as well.

The Hikikomuri's Cartoon Kimono, by A.R. Morlan, on the other hand, seems to be extrapolation in search of a story. Tattooing is taken a stage further than today, with moving tattoos and carbon nanotubes inserted beneath the skin as body armour. The story of the evolution of the kimono is used as a metaphor for the evolution of body art in a story of a struggling tattooer in a low-rent part of town.

Gone are the days when Charles Stross used to prop up the bottom of the Interzone reader's poll. Now the happy owner of a Hugo, he has hauled his way to the top through pure will power. Trunk And Disorderly is a light-hearted story of wit and verve in a post-human society with a hero, a heroine, a villain and escapades... and a miniature mammoth. Fun.

Bruce McAllister's Poison is one of the strongest stories in this issue. In this wonderful piece of magical realism, a boy goes forth to confront the witch who lives in the woods who may be responsible for the death of his cat. Jack Dann's Battlefield Games probably matches it for sheer pleasure, if not originality. A soldier in a foxhole has to try and outwit an intelligent cruise missile, which of course wants to play him at chess to pass the time. The new type of war features in Jack Dann's Café Culture which tries, with some success, to get into the minds of suicide bombers, but doesn't really add much new to the debate, well written as it is.

Gunfight At The Sugarloaf Pet Food & Taxidermy is set a few years into the future and is a vaguely unsatisfying adventure story about a rural cop who uses android animals to entrap illegal hunters. Then there are four poems, one of which, by John Morressy, has the cover illustration and an elegiac introduction by Williams. It doesn't quite live up to that, but then not many things could. The issue is rounded off by Robert Silverberg's column, James Patrick Kelly's column on science fiction on the net, Paul Di Filippo on books, and an index for the issues published in 2006.


All star superman Review and Opinion

All Star Superman vol.1
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
DC Comics / Titan hardcover $19.95 / £11.99

review by Patrick Hudson

As the very first superhero, Superman defined the entire genre. The whole over-familiar superhero routine - the secret identity, the love triangle with his alter ego, the pure-hearted motivations and the underwear pervert fashion sense - comes from the pages of Superman. The costumed heroes that came after him have largely been defined by the ways in which they differ from this primary text. The accident of timing of his birth - just as America as preparing to step onto the world stage as a world-leading military and cultural force - has also lent Superman an iconic status, not just for the genre but as a symbol of America. 'Superman' is an instant-shorthand, nearly universally recognised in the west, and in much of the developing world, possibly only rivalled by Mickey Mouse and Elvis as a symbol for the American ideal.

His iconic status and position as the baseline of super-heroics make him difficult to make interesting. Introducing shades of grey to his characterisation, or making him overly gritty (in the current standard superhero style) risks adding all sorts of unwanted connotations about the wider world, and opens questions that the owners of the copyright would much rather leave firmly shut off. Additionally, his lack of a defining gimmick - unnecessary to differentiate him from the cowboys, two-fisted detectives, space heroes and funny animals with whom he shared the comics pages in 1938 - leaves him with very little in the way of built-in story hooks, and the character's long history means that all have been pretty much pursued to their logical conclusions.

Superman is thus a comics' creator's greatest challenge. It's a challenge that defeated Bryan Singer in 2006's Superman Returns, and has resulted in Superman's death, his resurrection, changes in costume and most recently a year away from DC without his super-powers. How much more is there to say about this already iconic character?

The latest attempt to answer that question comes in the shape of All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, assisted by the inking and colouring of Jamie Grant. Morrison has been working hard at DC over the last couple of years trying to re-shape the DC Universe into something for modern audiences, work that has been characterised by no lack of imagination or enthusiasm, but which has also tripped up more than once on the necessity to do something new while remaining something old. All-Star Superman, however, manages to find exactly the right balance between these twin demands. Morrison and Quitely have produced a book that combines modern storytelling techniques and some dark themes with a deliciously light touch of classic DC naiveté to produce a story that is light and fluffy but fresh and rich, like a lemon mousse. He manages to capture the timeless whimsy of the very best classic DC without seeming anachronistic or cloying, but underneath Morrison toys with more serious questions of mortality that one hardly notices.

All-Star Superman is intended to get back to the character's roots, and Morrison wastes no time, assuming that we know who Superman is, who Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are, and that the general outline of Clark's life. There are new characters - such as super-scientist Leo Quintum, and the strongmen from the future, Samson and Atlas - but Morrison is generally happy to stick with the existing cast. Luthor is the primary villain, but we get glimpses of Brainiac, the Parasite and yet another take on the Bizarro concept. While his take on the characters is slightly different to the way they appear in current DC continuity, his versions they are at least as familiar as those that appear in, say, the Lois & Clark series, or the Christopher Reeve movies.

This refreshing trust in his audience allows him to get things moving quickly, and in the first issue an act of sabotage by Lex Luthor sees Superman apparently doomed to a lingering demise. The subsequent stories trace Superman's reaction to the knowledge that he will soon die, although the resolution - be it life or death, and I don't doubt for a second that Morrison is willing to kill his Superman off - isn't reached in this collection, and this sense of foreboding is what keeps the lighter elements from overwhelming the series completely.

Frank Quitely brings a clean, elegant, widescreen style to the art that meshes perfectly with the character of Morrison's Superman, dignified, a man of few words. Superman himself is not the anatomy-diagram muscleman with a painted on costume of contemporary superhero comics, but solidly clad in a cosy looking costume. He's a big man but not disproportioned, solidly built to be believably powerful looking without being freakish. Clark Kent is also brilliantly characterised, with the lithe power of Superman turned inward in Kent, making him into a clump-footed stoop. The artwork is unfussy and spare, and the beautiful subtle inks and colours by Jamie Grant provide the atmosphere.

Morrison has been doing some great work at DC, and his wild, at times childlike, imagination works well in DC's often-quirky continuity. In 52 and Batman, Morrison has been sticking to the contemporary 'gritty' school, with 52 in particular being surprisingly brutal in places. Here, though, Superman's long history of light-hearted stories is evoked and then put into service of a modern, more sophisticated sensibility. Morrison and Quitely don't bother trying to sort out the kinks in Superman's past, but concentrate very precisely on their own intense, concentrated version of the iconic Man of Steel.

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Banner of souls Review and Opinion

Banner Of Souls
Liz Williams
Tor UK paperback £6.99

review by Duncan Lawie

Banner Of Souls is a first class piece of world building. It is set within our Solar system at least a thousand years in the future, where catastrophes and advances of every sort have transformed worlds and humanity. Earth has become an ocean world, ruled at a distance by the warriors of Mars, who believe they colonised the third planet. The male sex has almost completely disappeared - devolved to wild animals in the Martian wilderness, or the subject of genetic experiment at Nightshade, on the outer edge of the Solar system. Williams does an excellent job of describing this vastly different place to the reader whilst making it clear that the book's inhabitants recognise its mundanity. There is a significant change in the world apparent to the protagonists though - the introduction of haunt-tech a century before. This technology uses the powers of the Eldritch Realm, drawing back the souls of the dead into machines and weaponry, and the impact of the changes it has wrought is still reverberating through the worlds.

The tension builds through the course of the book, towards grand revelations in the last 50 pages. The protagonists are as naíve as the setting is fabulous. Dreams-of-War is a Martian warrior, whose fierceness is edited to give her an element of maternal instinct, a change to the structure of her mind, which her Matriarch has decided is essential in assigning her to protect Lunae. Lunae is a fast-growing child who is known as "the one who will hold back the flood," though neither she nor Dreams-of-War have any idea what this might mean, despite their repeated questioning of those apparently in authority. Equally uninformed is Yskaterina, who is given the duty of killing Lunae by her Aunt Elaki, the ruler of Nightshade. This is apparently a power struggle between Nightshade and the Martian Matriarchy, but to what end is as unclear to the reader as to the actors.

Liz Williams appears to enjoy playing with the sympathies of the reader, making it difficult to guess even what a happy ending to the book might be. This makes it difficult to feel much empathy for any of the characters, the one most likely the master of her own destiny is also most likely to be a 'baddie'. Both Yskaterina and Dreams-of-War take on their duties resentfully, and the exploration of their growing understanding of themselves and the worlds they inhabit is a major part of the story. With all the pieces manoeuvred into place, the hide-and-seek game between author and reader over, the end of the book explodes into a display of pyrotechnic writing. Having taken so long to get here, the book is over too soon.

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Consorts of heaven by jaine fenn Review and Opinion

Consorts Of Heaven
Jaine Fenn
Gollancz paperback £12.99

review by Duncan Lawie

Consorts Of Heaven begins in the dreary uplands with Kerin, a poor widow and healer of limited training, worrying about her 'sky-touched' son as a storm approaches. For a reader expecting a direct sequel to Jaine Fenn's first novel, Principles Of Angels, this is a distinctly disconcerting opening. The son, Damaru, finds an injured man in the moorlands behind their village in an area so isolated that Kerin has rarely seen someone she doesn't know before. It soon becomes clear that this stranger is from a very different world - in his first moments of consciousness he wants to "turn the lights on," to which Kerin responds with "I will open the door. Tis nearly dawn, so that should give us some light" (page 22). Yet there is barely a suggestion that this character is connected to the previous volume and this book maintains its silence for as long as possible.

It does this by having Sais - a word which means stranger - suffer memory loss. Having a protagonist with whom the reader can identify, who needs to learn both the world and his own purpose in it, is a familiar enough device, but Fenn uses it particularly well. The 'native' Kerin understands her world intimately but it would falsify her character to have her explain any of this common knowledge except that she is faced with an innocent. His presence allows us to learn from her, the structure of village life, the tenets of her religion, the nature of her son. She tells this from within her language and religion, so she becomes deeply worried at what she has to teach Sais. The idea that the stranger does not know the holy signs, nor understand what it means for Damaru to be sky-touched raises the concern that he is from the Abyss. It takes most of the book for the state of the sky-touched to be fully worked through from the original impression that it is a kind of blessed autism.

The scattering of information eventually provides the key to the world, as well as the spine of the story, for Damaru must travel with the drove of animals to market so that he can be presented to his society's most holy figure. Assuming Sais must be from the lowlands, the villagers send him off with the drove too - and Kerin with them to care for both her son and the stranger. As they travel, the world is shown to be real and the beliefs of the people to be sincere and with genuine foundation. The book holds out minimal hope that there will be a 'scientifictional' explanation of events even as it shapes the story as a journey to the city of knowledge. That SF explanation is only possible as a result of Sais' gradual recovery of self knowledge - and his origins show the world in another light. As this happens, the perversion of the religion and of the sky-touched becomes plain and Sais realises the quest he has to complete.

The climactic events are somewhat reminiscent of those in Principles Of Angels, with a sudden revelation of new layers of complexity in the world. This time, though, the purpose for running around in mazes of technology is much clearer - and the impact of the revelations on Kerin - are quite satisfying. Kerin has been built up over the course of the novel as an intelligent woman living in ignorant times and she is shown to be truly exceptional by her ability to handle the deeper reality of her world. When her response is contrasted with that of a narrow minded priest, it makes both reactions more convincing. The outcome is a book which stands ably alone - and perhaps even props up its sister. It will be interesting to see where the story goes next.

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Do androids dream of electric sheep by philip k dick Review and Opinion

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
Philip K. Dick
Orion paperback £6.99

review by Mike Philbin

Surely you've heard this often before... or maybe you haven't. It's a question, a simple question. And here it is. Is Philip K. Dick the modern day equivalent of William Shakespeare?

Now, I've gone totally PDK insane, yes? No. And I'll show you why. Dick's many books, the more I read them, have greater and greater resonance. Just like Shakespeare's numerous volumes.

I did hypothesise that maybe it was a symptom of me getting old. I'll be 40 years old next year. I know that doesn't make me eligible for a pension yet, but I'm no longer a spring chicken (even if I still feel like a stupid kid some times). I read this book Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? in my teens, just about the time the Blade Runner film came out. I'm not sure whether I read it at the same time, slightly before or slightly after... but I do remember that at the time I had read a couple of Dick non-runners. Maybe it was that time of my life, my troubled teens. But the classic PKD output had failed to resonate that nodule in me that deals with literary elation and critical worship. I just couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

See, it's the same with Shakespeare. We get 'exposed' to old Shaky in our teens, in our literature class and instinctively, we rebel against it, recoil from it. I did the same with PKD. It just was too hard to read, as was Shakespeare. Then I lived a little, well 20 or more years. And you can get a lot of living done in less time but to say it helped would be understating it.

Only at this late point in my life have I really started to enjoy the works of Philip K. Dick. I've read a few PKD books recently and have just been in awe. Take this book about androids. Now that I've reread it later in life I can safely say that it wipes the floor with the film version. No, wait, the film version was, no, is, my favourite film of all time, the way it contemporised genetic research those few years into the future, the way the characters were fully fleshed out, but they had nothing to do with the major thrust of the book.

Mercerism. That one pseudo-religious aspect was missing from the film and that is the aspect of the book that makes it shine like a star, makes it sing like a lark, makes it leap through hoops like... well, you get the idea.

And that 'you are an android' aspect. Why wasn't that played with in the movie more blatantly? As I read the book, and as the Nexus 6 parallel-group narrative unfurled excruciatingly, I truly believed that the entire world was filled with androids. In fact, I had this idea to write a book about just that. I was only half way through Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (DADOES) when I had this 'brainstorm' it was so obvious. It's an important part of the narrative that nobody truly knows who, or what, they are. But then Dick topped-and-tailed his android narrative so well, I plum forgot about writing my story. No great loss, because Dick's already done it. He's the master.

Is he? Well, yes. Isn't it obvious? If it isn't, I can only say this - you have not read any PKD. Just one glance through the humorous start of the DADOES book and you should be laughing your socks off at the sheer disturbing density of the humour (the opening scene when Deckard and his wife are awakened by the jolt of the mood machine - then they spend the entire first chapter arguing about which mood to download). That whole scene is so now. That's what humans are like now, 30 or 40 years later. Darling, what colour should our baby's eyes be? Darling, should I have my shins lengthened? Should one have Cuban heals built-into the foot? How about breast, ass, genital augmentation, do you have the menu there, luvvy?

But back to this 'Mercerism'... Why is it so fundamental to the life and soul of the book? Well, it's the act of faith that the book promotes, the solemn belief from the androids that they are their role, the solemn belief from Deckard that what he's doing as a job is right and proper, the belief that owning an animal somehow cleanses one of the sins of one's race, the belief that even the 'chicken heads' can make a difference. What? Chicken heads?

Yes, in the film it was the accelerated decrepitude sufferer J.F. Sebastian (they changed a lot in the film) but in the book, he's J.R. Isidore the chicken head - a sort of mongoloid sub-human who can't leave the planet because he'll never pass the aptitude test, a sort of negative entry exam, a departure pass. He's destined to remain on Earth with the kipple and the dust and the worsening radiation. It's a world that's literally crumbling under his feet. But still he tries to support the last three surviving androids who turn up in his apartment building looking for sanctuary, he is the old priest offering shelter to the war-wounded, the broken souled, the maimed of body, the injured party. He is the high priest of empathy. Empathy being the driving force behind the effectiveness of Mercerism - where the populace of the Earth conjoin psychically via the biofeedback-internet of the future.

Empathy tears through every aspect of the narrative, it's the basis for the Voigt-Kampff test which the 'Blade Runners' (as William S. Burroughs called them in his own screenplay version) use to determine whether their intended target is in fact an android. This test assesses the droid's empathic reaction to abstract mind-games involving either sex or animals. Empathy also plays a part in why these bounty hunters do what they do, their prime motivation. It's just such a deep book.

I am breathless trying even to make sense of it. Have I succeeded? Do you want to go out instantly and buy and read this book? Well, let's see.

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? is the story of one man and his sheep, it's an electric sheep. He can't afford a real one because he is bound to a police department and it's not every day that you get a gang of droids to retire. He subsists on basic cop pay until the day when he can earn his bonus by killing an illegal synthetic immigrant. Why are they retiring droids? Well, they're for off-world use only, you've got your standard pleasure model, your manual workers and your technicians. It's a hierarchy of artificial intelligence that mankind doesn't mind exploiting to its own ends (out in the silent darkness of space exploration) but certainly doesn't want staining our own planet. They're non-empathic, they have a minimal lifespan, they have minimal emotional vocabulary, they are 'genetic machines' - that's all, built to do a job.

But the Rosen institute's ambition is to make a droid that is indistinguishable from the real thing, what was the catchphrase in the movie? "More human than human." These guys are the real enemy in the book - again something the film doesn't really play upon. There's an interesting quote about the alien nature of the corporate mentality, "So that's how the largest manufacturer of androids operates... devious, and in a manner [Deckard] had never encountered before. A weird and convoluted new personality type."

Then there's TV chat show host Buster Friendly (another character missing from the film) and for very good reason as the film seemed terrified to even hint at dealing with Deckard's potential-android-ness. Dick used a similar world-famous media star character in such a metaphorical role in his The Game Players Of Titan novel and here it works really well to emphasise the sense of dread and paranoia.

Rachel's there, Roy Baty's there, Pris is there - it's all so very familiar to those who have watched (adored) the movie but Dick's intimate entangling of psychoanalytical threads adds a stunning resonance to the narrative. This is such a deep book - recommended reading for anyone.

Do androids dream of electric sheep by philip k dick Review and Opinion

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The fall by simon clark Review and Opinion

The Fall
Simon Clark
Hodder and Stoughton paperback £6.99

review by Tony Lee

A mixed group of people visiting an ancient amphitheatre are transported back in time by a mysterious force, to fight a battle in defence of a 19th century town besieged by hideous monsters from another dimension. American TV director Sam Baker, becomes leader of the unwitting travellers, by default, when apparently random stopovers in different eras require organisation of frightened tourists and attempts to investigate the disturbing phenomenon's affect on past, present and future events.

Time-travel is, perhaps, the most familiar of SF themes, and there are so few possible trails left untrammelled in the terrain measured by clocks, it's a wonder that anyone, writers included, would bother to visit there today. Simon Clark may not have discovered a temporal equivalent of the Northwest Passage, but he does bring refreshing vitality to this 100-year-old trope. Clark may have ascended from small press obscurity to notable British novelist, but I must confess to not having read anything by him until this book was recommended to me (rather tentatively, as I usually avoid horror novels), by a friend.

Happily, I can report that my friend and I are still on speaking terms, as The Fall offers plenty of thought-provoking intrigue and dramatic bits of business along the way, even though, conventional good versus evil morality aside, the point of it all does remain elusive. Like so much modern fiction, The Fall draws heavily upon filmic culture, and tends to favour cinematic qualities over literary. But, when vivid descriptions lend themselves to visualisation with such ease, it is often the case that the author has plundered screen imagery a little too eagerly. I found stuff here that seems to have been lifted from films like Terminator 2, Time Bandits, The Fly and Nightbreed, as matter (including the living variety) only half-enclosed by the time-bubble, is subject to horrific cut 'n' paste transformation. Flesh is carved up with guillotine precision, animals and humans are fused together as if by gene-splicing, while the dead are resurrected as demons.

Narrative pace ensures the story is never less than gripping, and a cruel plot trick - played on Baker and his companions - which violates causality (if only more than usual in this subgenre), means that with each time-slip the travellers unaccountably find themselves back where, but not when, their adventure began, in the ancient amphitheatre. And this peculiar reset button provides constant frustration for Baker & Co, making them victims rather than passengers on the backward journey, deepening the mystery of who or what has taken control of their destiny.

A compelling read that should satisfy even those who dislike horror stories.
- review previously published on the Ministry of Whimsy website.

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Howling hounds by phil locascio Review and Opinion

Howling Hounds
Phil Locascio
Sarob hardcover £25 / $45

review by Mario Guslandi

Should we believe the blurbs reported on the back or inside covers of today's books, claiming that every work of fiction is a masterpiece, and every writer a genius? For once though, in Phil Locascio's case, the blurbs prove to be reliable. Commenting upon his work, Brian A. Hopkins says: "In a time when new horror authors seem obsessed with carnage... Locascio is quietly building an oeuvre of top notch stories focused on character and plot." And Dennis Kirk adds: "Locascio is more than a writer, he's a storyteller."

I wholeheartedly subscribe to their points of view. Thank god there are still writers able to tell stories with a beginning and an end, to disquiet and gently scare without making us shrink in disgust. Locascio is one of them, a hell of a storyteller, whose yarns are full of truth, emotions, and credible characters. He reminds me a lot of Robert Bloch, the lamented horror writer nowadays unfairly remembered only for being the author of Psycho, but who actually wrote hundreds of delightful, witty, yet extremely dark short stories.

Howling Hounds is the first collection by Locascio, and it features 13 tales, most of which previously appeared in small press magazines or anthologies. The themes are various, the quality consistently good. The Sins Of Orville Sand is a story told in a kind of low-key manner dealing with life's unsolved mysteries, like the simple fact that "There's the bad that happens to good people."

Quietus is a compelling tale of exotic horror in which an Ethiopian endowed with the singular ability of 'tricking death' becomes the involuntary agent of a lethal disease. In The Hand Of Fate an accidental exchange of suitcases at Chicago's O'Hare Airport is the beginning of a dark sequence of events. Not A Nickel More is a predictable but enjoyable story about a young boy's conscience and a grumpy old man's corpse.

Bendable Rulers is a nasty piece of fiction hinting at sordid deeds, describing very little and just because of that being more terrifying than many, more explicit horror stories. In The Buried Past horror and humour mix up in a tale concerning an unusual inheritance left to the family's black sheep, while in The Midnight Pact a sinister pact between two former friends is fulfilled many years later.

The Harbor Of Ill Will presents us with a magic crystal globe leading both men and animals to perform violent acts and Side Effects describes the devastating untoward effects of an experimental antidepressant drug making the act of sleeping the most terrifying menace. Unpleasant memories of their youth haunt the main characters of That Which Lies Submerged and The Sorcerer Of Hooterville, two great stories where the loneliness and cruelty of life is the actual protagonist. Enjoy.

Howling hounds by phil locascio Review and Opinion

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It's only temporary by eric shapiro Review and Opinion

It's Only Temporary
Eric Shapiro
Permuted paperback $8.95

review by Debbie Moon

It's the end of the world - what are you going to do? Pray, panic, run, roll over and die? For newly graduated Sean, facing the fact that the life he's been preparing for is never going to happen, it's simple. He wants to be with former girlfriend Selma when the asteroid hits.

It's not like she even lives that far away. But reaching the one you love when the entire population is engaging in a final orgy of death, destruction, rape and general insanity is never going to be easy. Sean soon finds himself caught up in a nightmare of car wrecks, vengeful victims, pregnant women, and a lunatic lion trainer turning his animals on the population. Along the way, he finds himself reflecting on the mistakes he made with Selma, and the futility and wonder of life itself. But will he make it to Selma's in time for the reconciliation he's desperate for?

The end of the world usually comes to us in cinematic form, with big effects and a $20 million movie star on hand to bail us out. This smart novella tackles it from the personal angle, exploring the insanity unleashed in society in the face of any physical disaster. Yes, Sean can be a little annoying - after all, he is an American teenager - but Shapiro's tight writing draws the reader into the heart of his emotional confusion and his new, growing maturity. He's also skilled enough to ground the atrocities Sean stumbles across solidly in reality, so that even the insane lion tamer seems entirely plausible in this upended, chaotic world.

It's a smart take on the end of everything, and the only thing that can really be said against it is that it misses its best opportunity. Part way through, we're tantalised with the idea that this could all be a gigantic hallucination, that Sean is living the end of the world inside his own head. Now there's an original idea: but Shapiro swiftly drops this to follow a more traditional narrative.

Slender enough not to outstay its welcome, this unusual take on the apocalypse is an enjoyable read and manages to stir some real emotions. It's Only Temporary is a good solid novella from a writer with real talent.


My father's ghost Review and Opinion

My Father's Ghost: The Return Of My Old Man And Other Second Chances
Suzy McKee Charnas
Tarcher / Putnam hardcover $23.95

review by Amy Harlib

Acclaimed American writer of Nebula award-winning SF (The Holdfast Chronicles) and young adult fantasy novels, Suzy McKee Charnas (born in 1939), in her latest book, records a superb memoir about being a caregiver for her aging father Robin (Robinson) McKee from the time of his reluctant arrival in 1973 at her Albuquerque, New Mexico home to his curmudgeonly, gradual decline in health and to his eventual death 17 years later.

Written in a clear, elegant, utterly candid, compellingly honest style with all the emotional intensity and fascination of any fiction, it is a mystery why this brilliant recollection didn't receive critical attention from major publications such as The New York Times or The New Yorker or The New York Review Of Books although insider sources - Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly and Booklist gave My Father's Ghost the praise it deserved. Perhaps the subject matter, the unsparing account of an adult recalling all the vicissitudes of a parent-child relationship reversed by the inevitable consequences of aging, is too painful for far too many potential reviewers to examine closely.

Fortunately for readers out there, Charnas tells it like it was with love and warts and all. The author skilfully cuts back and forth from a present-day perspective to flashbacks from earlier moments in her and her father's lives and liberally sprinkles the text with apt excerpts from the 40-odd volumes of journals that Robin kept from 1930 until shortly before he moved in with his daughter. Charnas' tale reveals that when she was only eight-years-old, Robin McKee left his Upper West Side Manhattan apartment home and his wife and children (there was a younger girl named Liza) to move to a loft way downtown to live a Bohemian life pursuing his dream of fine-art painting after he had quit his job moderately successfully illustrating children's books.

Sporadically in touch over the years, Charnas hardly knew her father when he grudgingly admitted he could no longer live independently with his failing eyesight and other age-related, physical frailties. Charnas and her husband Steve were able to offer Robin the chance to live on their property in his own small cottage adjacent to the couple's New Mexico home in a warm, bright climate. Robin arrived with few possessions and his quirky tabby cat Bibi and for nearly two decades Charnas strove to get closer to her father and to cope with his hermit-like attitudes and eccentricities. Robin proved reluctant to attend to his personal hygiene, to paint or do any other artistic activity, to socialise, to shop unless his daughter went with him, to exercise adequately, and worst of all - to admit to increasing health complications.

Finally, when Robin's ailments became more serious then either his hosts could handle by themselves, Charnas found she was forced by necessity to find a suitable nursing home for her father. Her account frankly details the financial and emotional costs that the decision to place a close relation in a care-giving institution, even the best of them, entails. Poignantly, during Robin's final year of life at the Vista Linda Nursing Home, he experienced some miraculous happiness when he fell in love with another resident, Jane, whose feelings were mutual and they spent most of their time together with the beneficial effects on Robin being: his mellowing out in demeanour, his grooming himself better, his eating with more appetite, with Jane's urging, his voting in a Presidential election for the first time, and his participating in life in general a lot more.

When pneumonia ended Robin's life (he died in his sleep) in 1993, it took Charnas until recently to process her experiences and the contents of her father's journals to produce My Father's Ghost, a book that beautifully captures the ups and downs of her relationship with the colourful character who happened to be her male parent. Charnas' account details the positive and negative effects of living in close proximity with Robin: discovering family secrets that were often surprising and/or disturbing but always intriguing, becoming reacquainted with some of these relatives in question, experiencing how the ripple effects that caring for an aging parent influences every other aspect of life and most importantly - getting close physically and emotionally with one of the most significant people in her life. The cat Bibi and several dogs also feature prominently and touchingly in the narrative, documenting the importance of companion animals in adding to the pleasures and quality of life.

Anybody - ultimately - all of us, dealing with aging parents should read My Father's Ghost, a wise and revealing look at a father-daughter relationship rich in emotional complexity in a portrayal of relevance to everyone. All the troublesome and joyous happenstances of life with a man who understandably clung to his independence and splendid solitude and his daughter's heroic efforts to care for him throughout his gradual decline get examined insightfully and unflinchingly in this book which uses intricate detail to reveal universal truths. Suzy McKee Charnas' splendid, masterfully written book will rivet the reader's attention like a novel even as it offers inspiration and guidance for coping with thorny issues all of us must face. Any human being with a heart deserves to read My Father's Ghost, a heartfelt memoir that will haunt you long after the covers close.


Shriek by jeff vandermeer Review and Opinion

Shriek: An Afterword
Jeff Vandermeer
Macmillan paperback £10.99

review by David Hebblethwaite

This novel marks a return to 'Ambergris', the setting of Jeff Vandermeer's story collection City Of Saints And Madmen(though you don't need to have read it to understand and enjoy Shriek). One of the novellas in that earlier book took the form of a historical pamphlet, The Hoegbotton Guide To The Early History Of Ambergris by Duncan Shriek. This volume is presented as a biographical afterword to the 'Early History', written by Duncan's sister Janice after he has disappeared - or so she thinks, because Duncan has found her manuscript and made his own annotations.

As a historian, Duncan is obsessed with the 'gray caps', the mysterious mushroom people living below Ambergris who were (Duncan believes) responsible for several strange events in the city's history, such as the Silence, when 25,000 people just vanished. Duncan even ventures underground to investigate the gray caps - and returns to the surface infested with fungus that will never leave him entirely. Janice is concerned about her brother's obsession, and about his romantic liaisons with Mary Sabon, one of his students at Blythe Academy. But Janice also has problems of her own: though a successful gallery owner, she tries to commit suicide, and, after a period of convalescence, finds that the New Art movement on which her success was founded has gone out of fashion - and many of her artists have taken their work back.

With both Shriek siblings out of work (Duncan having been dismissed from Blythe Academy when his affair with Mary Sabon was discovered), war breaks out between the rival publishing houses Hoegbotton & Sons (the merchants who effectively rule Amergris, as much as anyone can be said to) and Frankwrithe & Lewden. Duncan and Janice find a new vocation as reporters for the 'Ambergris Daily Broadsheet'. Things change again after the war: with the city and its inhabitants transformed by the effects of Frankwrithe & Lewden's fungal bombs (obtained, presumably, from the gray caps), Mary Sabon, now a practising historian, proposes the theory of Nativism - that the gray caps have no conscious thought and thus played no active part in Ambergrisian history. This is in direct opposition to Duncan's contention, which is that they gray caps do have influence and intentions, just not ones that we may understand - and they will strike back if their plans are interfered with. Mary is the one whose theories are embraced - but what does it mean for Ambergris if Duncan is right?

Perhaps the exploits of a historian and a gallery owner may not seem particularly exciting subject matter for a fantasy novel (unless the protagonists are turned into unstoppable action heroes - which, thankfully, the Shrieks are not, indeed, Vandermeer probably spends more time describing academic debates than Duncan's underground adventures). Scratch the surface, however, and Shriek proves vital and compelling because (just as in the best epic fantasy yarns) the fate of the world - or, more accurately, how its inhabitants see their world - is at stake. Yes, this sounds melodramatic, but consider: there's an alien people living under the city, and it makes a difference to the Ambergrisians whether that people are (in effect) harmless animals or a deadly threat with unknowable intent. There are interesting parallels with our own world, particularly in the way we rely on other people's interpretations to construct our reality (for history books, substitute television, newspapers or the Internet), and the way we try to find meaning in tragic events (the Ambergrisians would rather think of an event like the Silence as their own fault than as an accidental by-product of the gray caps' activities).

There's more: Vandermeer presents the very act of writing as a pursuit that, in its own way, is as dangerous and bewildering and meddling with magic could ever be. Duncan observes that "too many words can be a trap," and there are traps aplenty in Shriek, such as tales of the editor Sirin publishing fiction as non-fiction and vice versa, or Mary quoting Duncan's writings out of context in her afterword. We come to realize that the distance between what actually happened and the account in the text we have may be even greater than we thought. But there's a problem: instead of the tingle of imagination at the prospect of working out where the discrepancies might lie, one feels almost overwhelmed at the sheer number of possibilities. And, since it's hard to know where to even begin disentangling it all, one may as well take the book at face value. So that's something of a missed opportunity, but there is still much to think about in Shriek, and it's most welcome.

There is also, however, much to enjoy. Vandermeer gives us some beautiful passages and turns of phrase, and some funny ones, too (a marvellous rant from a publisher against Duncan springs immediately to mind). His characters are interesting, particularly the two Shriek siblings (it's a shame that Janice can be such a pain, but never mind). And there are some wonderful flights of imagination: Ambergris, a city that hums and sings like a real place despite (or perhaps because of) being stitched together from elements of disparate time periods, would be fascinating in its own right. But add to that phenomena like the Shift, when reality itself becomes fluid, or the gray caps' mysterious part-mechanical, part-organic contraption whose function Duncan can only guess at, and you have something rather special.

However, Shriek falls at the very last hurdle, and for a most unusual reason. For its ultimate effect, the novel relies on the reader disbelieving the fantasy to an extent, but Vandermeer has imagined it so completely that this is pretty much an impossible task (or so I found). Still, we should not let this sully the fine novel Jeff Vandermeer has produced. If you've never visited Ambergris before, you'll find Shriek to be a superb introduction, if you have, it's a return trip you should not miss.

Shriek by jeff vandermeer Review and Opinion

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Family-Friendly PS4 Games Everyone Will Love

Looking for the best PS4 games for kids? You’ve come to the right place! Finding kid-friendly PS4 games can be a bit of task for parents when there’s such a wealth of choice out there, but with your precious ones seeking new adventures and fun-filled interactive experiences more than ever it’s well worth investing time in finding the right family friendly games !So, get ready for game night with these great PlayStation 4 games for kids to play!

Updated 05/03/2020 – Added Dreams

Best PS4 Games For Kids
Best PS4 Games For Kids: Dreams

A stunning PS4 title, Dreams is a hugely accessible creative suite that allows players of all ages to literally create their own games from the ground up with a suite of extremely powerful tools.


Though Dreams grants near infinite creative latitude to players, for the less creative folks among you, much enjoyment can be had from just downloading games that other people have made and play them. Dreams is simply essential (we did award it a perfect 10/10 score after all).

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Lego Marvel Super Heroes

You can take your pick from a massive choice of Lego games and your kids will love them! Lego Marvel Super Heroes will see your little ones swapping between 180 characters from the Marvel universe. They’ll play through 15 missions with all their favorite heroes, including Spider-Man.

Best PS4 Games For Kids

Like other Lego games, they’ll be brick-building and puzzle solving, while enjoying many laughs along the way. The Lego games are also great when played in co-op. So, pick up a controller with them and let your creativity flow! If they love this, there’s also a second videogame in the series, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.

Related Content – Best PS4 Exclusives – Amazing Games That Everyone Should Play

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Lego Worlds

Traveller’s Tales open world sandbox game Lego Worlds is one of the numerous Lego games that are great for kids. They can unleash their creativity a build a world made of Lego bricks in a similar vein to Minecraft.

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There’s an infinite number of randomly generated worlds that you explore finding chest, collecting golden bricks and carrying out tasks. Play this game with them, and you’ll also enjoy it too.

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Minecraft PS4 Edition

Minecraft is an incredible sandbox game that will stretch the imagination of your child. From simple buildings to huge cities, smash blocks, gather resources and create whatever you like.

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The controls are intuitive with the DualShock 4(PS4 controller) touchpad and the possibilities are endless. Minecraft has often been called ‘online LEGO’ but the good thing is that these bricks never run out! Get creative with your child and introduce them to Minecraft PS4 Edition. If you pick this up, make sure they check out the best Minecraft maps for PS4!

Related Content – The Best PSVR Games

Best PS4 Games For Kids: LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions brings toys-to-life with various LEGO-building packs based on famous franchises that you piece together before magically bringing into the game via a USB portal which plugs into the PlayStation 4.

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Before you even begin playing, it’s great fun joining in with your kids, following the instructions in the booklet to build the likes of the DeLorean from Back to the Future or the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter. Gameplay takes the familiar LEGO formula as you control mini-figures around colorful environments solving puzzles and smashing blocks. The familiar universes come to life in a unique and enjoyable interactive experience.

Best PS4 Games For Kids: LittleBigPlanet 3

This colorful puzzle-platformer videogame is one of the best kid-friendly PS4 games. Sackboy has become a PlayStation icon and alongside the cast of quirky characters jumps, swings and navigates numerous levels that really capture the imagination.

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LittleBigPlanet 3 really encourages creativity, and outside of the main game there’s the option for your little ones to create their own levels, or download levels from the community. With so many levels available, it’s a game that you can keep coming back to and never be bored.

Related Content – Best PS4 Indie Games – Excellent Games Everyone Should Play

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Overcooked!

This addictive cooking simulation action game is brilliant if you’ve got more than one child, and you’ll definitely want to join in too!

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Up to four players are chefs who run around a kitchen against the clock preparing ingredients before cooking them and serving them up. It’s fast paced, hilarious and requires solid teamwork – if you don’t want to set the kitchen on fire.

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley follows the same farming simulation mould as games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. It’s absolutely charming! The idea is to look after your farm by gathering resources, growing crops and rearing animals. There’s a whole town to explore, so you’ll also be fishing, mining and speaking with the locals as you visit the various shops. Stardew Valley will keep you kids entertained for hours, and you won’t mind watching, and then setting up your own profile once they’ve gone to bed.

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This is one of the best single player PS4 games for kids, and adults! Also, with the new multiplayer feature coming soon, online play will be enabled, but you’ll also be able to play Stardew Valley as a family game, tending to the farm together. So, it’s one of the best PS4 games for kids, but it’s also set to be one of the leading titles to play together as a family.

Related Content – Upcoming PS4 Games: PlayStation 4 Titles In 2020 You Won’t Want To Miss

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Just Dance 2020

Get your kids up and moving! The Just Dance franchise has been around for some time, and this latest iteration is the best yet. The whole family can play too as you mimic the moves of an on-screen dancer to popular songs.

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You’ll need a PlayStation camera to play and there’s a host of game modes, including a fun karaoke mode (if you own a USB microphone.) It’s a great way to join in with the children, or just sit back and watch as they wear themselves out having fun.

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered

If you want to give your kids some serious game time and know for sure that they’ll definitely be learning too, then you can’t go wrong with Letter Quest. The role-playing, word-finding game jazzes up its educational values – having to think up and spells words with magic and potions – as you defeat cartoon monsters.

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We really like this one as it gives you the chance to introduce new words to your children and encourages spelling practice!

Related Content – PS5 FAQ – Everything You Need To Know (Honest)

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Rocket League

One of the best PS4 games for kids is Rocket League if they like their sports. It fuses cars with soccer to deliver an action-packed sports title that is a lot of fun to play. You can play offline, but for competitive play you’ll need an internet connection.

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As there’s also older children and adults playing, it’s probably best to turn off its chat function. Each round only lasts around five minutes so it’s a good game to dip and out off.

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Rayman Legends

If you’ve got a kid who loves puzzles game fused with a bit of action then you can’t go wrong with Rayman Legends. Not only will it get your little ones thinking but the goofy characters will keep them entertainment while the bright and colorful visuals simply pop out of the screen.

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This side-scrolling platformer does contain cartoon violence such as slapping and slamming enemies, but it’s no worse than watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon.

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Best PS4 Games For Kids: Puyo Puyo Tetris

You’ve probably heard of Tetris, the shape-shifting, shape-matching game that was a major craze in the late 80s and early 90s! The classic puzzle game has been given a makeover for PS4 and fuses Tetris with another classic Japanese drop puzzler called Puyo Puyo.

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Graphics are colorful, the sounds are delightful and it’s a great party game that will encourage their competitiveness with their siblings, though we suspect you’ll be challenging them too!

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Take your kids on an adventure in this colorful video game. Find and collect magical creatures. There’s a ton of stuff to do, including crafting, fishing and farming. There’s also some great environments to explore, such as the snow-capped mountains and sandy beaches.

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Yonder looks stunning and is sure to kick-start their imaginations! It’s also really relaxing to play thanks to its calming soundtrack. With its beautiful setting and charming narrative, it’s like walking through the pages of a fairy-tale.

Related Content – All Free PS3, PS Vita, PS4, PS5 PS Plus Games

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Unravel Two

Unravel Two is the perfect game for families to play together. It offers two-player co-op allowing a child and parent to play together. It is also forgiving, not relying on one player for anything. At any time the second player can complete a puzzle or save the other player.

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It is not too long and can be played in chunks. Most of all Unravel 2 is a cute adventure that will appeal to younger children for many reasons beyond Yarny being adorable.

Best PS4 Games For Kids: Starlink: Battle For Atlas

Take flight in Starlink: Battle For Atlas as a member of the Starlink crew as they battle the enemy Legion. Combine different weapons to create devastating combos and halt the Legion’s efforts. Outside of a solid and fun gameplay loop, Starlink offers a bunch of unique and beautiful planets to explore.

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All of this can be done with another player in couch co-op, making it the perfect game for a parent and kid to play through together. Another way this game is great for kids is that Starlink is a Toys-To-Life game. Physical toys of all the characters, ships, and weapons, can be attached to your controller to change your loadout in game. Whilst, kids may love it, your bank account may have the opposite reaction.

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What Makes A PS4 Game Suitable For Kids?

The most important thing to look for when you’re looking for a PS4 video game suitable for children is its rating. Thankfully, the ESRB (North America) and PEGI (Europe) rating systems are clearly labelled on game boxes and digital content that you’ll find on the PlayStation Store, so choosing a game for your child is easier than ever.

Choosing some of the best PS4 games for kids is really going to depend on what sort of experiences your children enjoy. The good news is we’ve reviewed plenty of them, and many of our reviewers have young families so we know what games will appeal. Consequently, we’ve come up with a selection of PS4 games for children that span different genres from adventure and puzzle games to simulation and sport.

So while the aforementioned titles are the best PS4 games for kids that we’d personally recommend, but there are many more, including the brilliant Crash Bandicoot N Sane Trilogy and Ratchet And Clank for those slightly older children! If you can think of any more great kid-friendly PS4 games, let us know in the comments below.


Cheat Codes Every 'Assassin's Creed: Odyssey' Player Should Know

Strategy Guide/Walkthrough/FAQ


Legendary armor sets

Successfully complete the indicated task to unlock the corresponding legendary armor set. There are twelve sets in the base game (excluding DLC). Legendary armor sets contain five armor pieces. Equip all five pieces of a legendary armor set to gain a bonus stat buff.

    Achilles Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Heroes Of The Cult branch. The bonus stat buff is 2% damage dealt restored as health.

    Agememnon Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Silver Bane branch. For the fifth armor piece, go to the Silver Mine near the "Silver Mountain" title in the Silver Mountain Region of Attika. The bonus stat buff is +50% burning rate.

    Arena Fighter Set: Fight in the Arena on the isle of Pephka. Go to Pirate Point on the far east shore to find the Arena.
    Successfully complete all the battles, then complete the battles a second time to unlock all five legendary armor pieces. The bonus stat buff is 10% health restored with overpower attacks.

    Artemis Set: Successfully complete the "Daughters Of Artemis" quests. The quest is available at the Temple Of Artemis, in the center of the Phokis region. Hunt all the Legendary Animals to unlock all five armor pieces. The bonus stat buff is +15% damage with hunter abilities.

    Athenian War Hero Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Delian League branch. The bonus stat buff is all arrows pierce shields.

    Demigod Set: Loot Deimos at the end of the main story quest to get four of the legendary armor pieces. The fifth piece is found on the final Cult Of Kosmos member. The bonus stat buff is +10% damage with all abilities.

    Greek Hero Set: Defeat five mercenaries carrying legendary armor pieces. Check their loot rewards to find the following five pieces: The Translucent, The Lucky Drunk, The Resplendent, The Frenzied, and The Flash. The bonus stat buff is +20% to all resistances.

    Immortal Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Worshippers Of The Bloodline branch. The bonus stat buff is 20% health restored on death (two minute cooldown).

    Pilgrim Set: Find the legendary armor pieces in treasure chests in the following five locations: Akropolis Of Argos (Argolis, Argos), Temple Of Athena (Lakonia, Sparta), Temple Of The Golden-Bowed Goddess (Malis, Pandora's Cove), Eleusis Telesterion (Attika, Sacred Plain Of Demeter), and Temple Of Britomartis (Messara, Little Egypt). The bonus stat buff is -40% adrenaline for Shadow Of Nyx.

    Pirate Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Gods Of The Aegis Sea branch. The bonus stat buff is +15% damage to all assassin abilities.

    Snake Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Eyes Of Kosmos branch. The bonus stat buff is +10% intoxicated damage and weakening effect.

    Spartan War Hero Set: Defeat all five Cult Of Kosmos members of the Peloponnesian League branch. The bonus stat buff is +15 damage to all warrior abilities.

All treasure map locations

Xenia's questline has you use treasure maps to locate the following six treasure items: Golden Feather Of Ajax, Makedonian Bracelet, Triton's Shell Of The Tides, Apollo's Lyre, Pan's Flute, and Olouros Fortress Coffer. Find all treasures to complete Xenia's questline and get the "A Pirate's Life For Me" trophy. The questline starts on Keos. At the start of story Sequence 7, you can find all the treasures. You are given multiple treasure maps by Xenia, but only one of them is correct. The way this is normally done is by checking all maps in the inventory against your world map to track down which could be the real spot. This can be a tedious process -- so using the video guide below makes it much easier by showing you exactly where to go right away.


    1. Golden Feather Of Ajax - 1:30
    2. Makedonian Bracelet - 5:26
    3. Triton's Conch Shell Of The Tides - 9:20
    4. Pan's Flute - 15:21
    5. Apollo's Lyre - 16:19
    6. Olouros Fortress Coffer - 19:25

Finding Atlantis

To find Atlantis and get the "Birthright" trophy, complete the "A Family's Legacy" side quest, which is automatically unlocked after the "United Front" main mission in Sequence 7. The quest takes you to Thera, one of the Volcanic Islands. You must then scan the area with your eagle to retrieve an ancient tablet and then follow the beams of light to direct them to the giant stone door. Behind the door is Atlantis - The Lost City, where you also get to meet Pythagoras. This will then unlock "The Gates Of Atlantis" side quest, which is an endgame questline. You will get the "Birthright" trophy after meeting Pythagoras.

Cyclops boss location

To fight the Cyclops boss and get the "Eye On The Prize" trophy for defeating him, complete the "A God Among Men" (Kythera Island), "Left To Dye" (Kythera Island), and "Stairway To Olympos" (Kythera Island) side quests. As part of this questline, you will find the Cyclops boss on the Forgotten Isle (he is not accessible outside of this quest). Note: This has nothing to do with the Sequence 1 story boss that has the same name. The Cyclops of this questline is a high-level one-eyed monster.

Medusa boss location

To fight the Medusa boss and get the "In Perseus's Image" trophy for defeating her, complete the "Romancing The Stone Garden" (Lesbos Island), "Love's Long Shadow", "Hard To Artemis", "Heavy Is The Spear", "Keys To Happiness?", and "Writhing Dead" side quests. Medusa is the endboss of this questline, found in the Petrified Temple on Lesbos. All of these quests take place on Lesbos Island, which is a high-level endgame region. Medusa is a Level 50 boss -- so you need to be at least Level 46 to have a chance.

Minotaur boss location

To fight the Minotaur boss and get the "A-maze-ing Victory!" trophy for defeating him, complete the "Myths And Minotaurs" (Messara Island), "Of Minotaurs And Men" (Messara Island), and "He Waits" (Messara Island) side quests. The Minotaur is the endboss of this questline, found in the Labyrinth Of Lost Souls. Simply complete the side quests to fight him.

Sphinx riddle solutions and location

To complete the Sphinx riddle and get the "Riddle Me This" trophy, complete the "A Family's Legacy" (Thera), "Lore Of The Sphinx" (Boeotia Region), and "Awaken The Myth" (Boeotia Region) side quests. The "A Family's Legacy" side quest is automatically unlocked after the "United Front" main mission in Sequence 7. That side quest will take you to Atlantis. After discovering Atlantis, you will unlock the "Lore Of The Sphinx" quest. Unlike the other three world bosses, this one is not an actual fight but a series of three questions that must be answered correctly. The tricky part is the questions are different every time. They are selected from a pool of 12 possible questions. The correct answers can be: Stars, Tree, Fish, Hummingbird, Sun, Memory, Moon, Mountain, Spider, Time, Death, River. If you answer incorrectly, you will die and have to answer a new set of questions. It is important that you remember your answers (or write them down). After the three questions, you must press three buttons corresponding with your answers. If you press a wrong button, you die and have to start over.

Secret ending

To get the secret Atlantis (true) ending, first find Atlantis to unlock the "Between Two Worlds" storyline and begin "The Gates Of Atlantis" quest. You must then defeat four mythical creatures for their artifacts (Cyclops, Medusa, Minotaur, and Sphinx). Then, return to Atlantis to unlock the true ending. Note: Medusa is Level 50 -- so this must be done after completing the main story.

Becoming Champion of the Arena

The Arena is found in Pephka, the region in the bottom right of the world map. Defeat all five enemies in the Arena to become Champion and get the "Are You Not Entertained?" achievement. The last enemy is Level 50, but you can defeat him at Level 45 with good gear. At Level 50, the enemy is not too difficult to defeat. Note: Defeating just the Level 50 arena champ is not enough to get the "Are You Not Entertained?" achievement -- you must defeat all five enemies.

Easily defeat Legendary Animals

To easily defeat Legendary Animals, you can trick enemies into fighting them for you. First, build up your Wanted Meter until a Mercenary is dispatched to hunt you. The higher the Wanted Level, the more powerful the Mercenary will be. You will normally just need a Mercenary that is a little higher level than you. Wait until a Mercenary appears nearby. Once they see you, run to the Legendary Hunt location. The Mercenary will follow you for a long time. As long as you are on the island with the Legendary Hunt, you should be able to lure the Mercenary into a fight. Go to the Legendary Animal and start fighting. Once the Mercenary and the Animal engage, you can move back and allow them to fight. The Legendary Animal will normally win in a fight against a Mercenary. While the animal is distracted by the Mercenary, attack it from behind to get in some easy hits, then back away. Once the Mercenary is killed, quickly kill the animal. This trick also works with other enemies. For example, if there is a bandit camp nearby, you can lure the entire group of enemies (and leader) to the Legendary Animal to fight it.

Romancing options

To romance someone in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, you just need to find them and complete their side or main quests. Watch for a "romance" option, which just means sex. The following is a list of all characters you can sleep with. There will be a quick cutscene that shows how your character seals the deal. Note: Romance has no effect on future romances. You can romance all characters in the game, if desired. There are no repercussions or negative effects from romancing any character, even if you romance women and men. Your gender selection at the start of the game also does not change who you can romance.


    Odessa: She is a young relative of Odysseus. She can be found and rescued on Ithaka, in Odysseus's Palace, to begin her quests.

    Auxesia: She is an elderly woman that gives you a quest. She can be found in Phokis, on Mount Parnassos.

    Xenia: She is a bronze-skinned pirate that sends you on quests to locate hidden treasures.

    Roxana: She is a tough fighter. She can be found on the small island of Hydrea, where she is sparring.

    Kyra: She is a long-hair Spartan rebel soldier. She is located in the Silver Islands region, on the isle of Mykonos. She can be found in the Porphyrion Cave.

    Daphnae: She is a young "Daughter of Artemis". She can be found near the Temple Of Artemis, in the Phokis region.


    Kosta: He is a thick, bearded blacksmith that is located on on Lokris Island. He can be found in the port town on Red Lake Bay.

    Alkibiades: He is a lean, silver-haired young man. He can be found in Athens, in the Attika region. You will meet him in Perikles's house in Sequence 4.

    Lykaon: He is a lean, rugged healer. He can be found in Phokis, in a town in the Sacred Lands of Apollo.

Daughters Of Artemis questline location and walkthrough

Successfully complete the "Daughters Of Artemis" questline to get the "Master Of The Hunt" trophy, as well as a full legendary armor set for the "Fashion's Creed" trophy. The "Daughters Of Artemis" questline starts with "The Daughters Of Artemis" side quest in the "Phokis" region ("Sacred Lands Of Apollo" sub-region). It is given by an NPC called Daphnae. She asks you to kill a boar. You must complete all nine of her quests (all hunting quests):


    1. The Daughters Of Artemis - 0:05
    2. Kallisto The Bear - 5:05
    3. The Erymanthian Boar - 7:08
    4. The Hind Of Keryneia - 9:07
    5. The Kretan Bull - 10:23
    6. The Krokottas Hyena - 12:03
    7. The Lykaon Wolf - 14:08
    8. The Namean Lion - 16:37
    9. Artemis's Request - 18:56

Hippokrates questline location and walkthrough

The "Hippokrates" questline starts with the "Inheritance Insurance" side quest in the Boeotia region. You must first complete all other side quests in Boeotia. This can be done as early as Sequence 7, when the story takes you to that region. Hippokrates' questline consists of the "Inheritance Insurance" and "Too Much Of A Good Thing" quests. Complete this questline to get the "Trust Me, I'm A Doctor" trophy.

Olympic questline location and walkthrough

The Olympic questline is automatically unlocked during Sequence 7, after the "Kings Of Sparta" main mission. It can then be selected from the questlog. It requires you to deliver a champion to the Olympics, but in the end you fight in the Olympics yourself. The Olympic questline consists of the following quests: "Delivering A Champion", "The Contender", "The Long Game", and "Pankration". Successfully complete the Olympic questline to get the "Going For Gold" trophy.

Easy "Aphrodite's Embrace" trophy

During certain dialogues in main and side quests, you can choose dialogue lines with a Heart icon on them. If you always select those, they will lead to romances. An easy way to get this early is by doing the "Age Is Just A Number" side quest in Phokis (Grand Mount Parnassos sub-region). It requires you to loot a deer and bear, which are both found in the same region as the quest. When returning to the quest giver at the end of the quest, select the "Let Me Satisfy You" dialogue with the heart icon to get the "Aphrodite's Embrace" trophy after the resulting cutscene. Alternatively, at the end of Sequence 4 in the "Perikle's Symposium" main quest, you will go to a party and can sleep with Alkibiades. Select the "Let's Get These Clothes Off" dialogue with the heart icon after getting oil for Alkibiades.

Easy "Everybody Benefits" trophy

Markos's questline starts with the "A Business Opportunity" side quest on Kos Island ("Highlands Of Asklepiades" sub-region). It begins by finding Markos in a cage inside the enemy fort, where the quest marker is displayed. You must free him and carry him back to his house to continue the questline. At the end of the questline, he will give you a nice axe and you will get the "Everybody Benefits" trophy.

Easy "I Have The Power" trophy

First, unlock the "Warrior Ability: Overpower Attacks" and "Hunter Ability: Overpower Bow Strike" skills. Only the first tier of the skills are required. Once you have the skills, press R1 + R2 to perform an overpower attack (consumes three full adrenaline segments). Do this with the following weapon types to get the "I Have The Power" trophy: Sword, Dagger, Heavy Blunt, Heavy Bladed, Staff, Spear, Bow (requires "Overpower Bow Strike" skill). Note: There is also a Bare-Handed takedown when you unequip the weapons from inventory, but it is not required for this trophy.

Easy "Ramming Speed" and "Wrath Of The Amazons" trophies

First, get a female crew (cosmetic ship skin). There are multiple of these in the game, but the following are the easiest options:

  • Get "The Assassins (Female)" from Ubisoft Club for free, as it just requires a Uplay account. In the map menu, press Left and select the "Ubisoft Club" option.

  • Find "Bandits (Female)" at the "Sunken Wreck Of Datis" underwater location, southwest of Delos Island.

  • Successfully complete the "Olympian" questline ("Going For Gold" trophy).

  • Successfully complete the "Daughters Of Artemis" questline ("Master Of The Hunt" trophy).

In the ship menu, select the Female Crew cosmetic item in the bottom right corner. Leave the lieutenants blank (no female lieutenants required for this). Then, disable a ship at sea. Shoot it until it is disabled, but do not board it. Ram it at full speed at its center (hold X to speed up) to break the ship in half and get the "Ramming Speed" and "Wrath Of The Amazons" trophies for cleaving a ship in half and for cleaving it with a female crew.

Easy "Stink Eye" trophy

First, successfully complete Sequence 1 of the story. At the end of the sequence, you will encounter the "Cyclops" boss. There will be a funny cutscene in which your character puts the Cyclop's eye in a goat's rectum. You can later find this eye again. Simply return after Sequence 1 and kill some random goats anywhere on Kephallonia (starting region). After approximately 10-20 goat kills (it is a random drop), it should drop. Goats can easily be killed with the bow from a distance. Make sure to loot the goats after killing them. Goats are found everywhere in that region, and the eye can be dropped anywhere on the island.

Easy "War Master" trophy

This trophy requires you to take down a region's power level (purple bar on map) to zero and only then kill the leader of the region. Hover over any region on the map, and it will display a purple bar in the bottom right corner. It can say fortified (three bars), weakened (two bars), vulnerable (one bar). You must make the purple bar completely disappear. This can be done by doing the following things:

  • Kill soldiers from the faction in power (see colored outlines around the region; Red = Sparta, Blue = Athens).

  • Burn war supplies (found at forts and leader houses).

  • Pillage the nation treasure (found at forts).

To find war supplies and nation treasure more easily, use your eagle to scan enemy forts and look for the purple icons. Supplies can be burned down with the torch. Only after the purple bar on the map disappears can you kill the leader. The leader is marked on the map by a gray or purple icon. A good place to do this is on Kos Island because it is a very small region and fast to complete. Just go to all the question-mark icons on the map to reveal the forts, leader house, and other points of interest that allow you to lower the power level. Note: This does not work in the Megaris region (first story region where you must play conquest battles).

Easy "You Work For Me Now" trophy

Legendary NPCs are usually the Captains/Polemarchs at enemy Forts. You can use your eagle to see if an enemy is legendary. Press Up to use eagle view and L2 to scan the enemies. In the top right corner, it will display the NPC rarity. The ones you want are colored yellow. Simply go to a fort and scan everyone before attacking. To recruit the NPCs, you must knock them out. Either use the Sparta Kick skill as the finishing blow or unequip your weapon in the inventory to fight with bare fists. You can use weapons to weaken the enemy, just the final hit must be from bare hands or Sparta Kick. When the enemy is knocked out, stand over them and press L3 to recruit. You cannot do this while in combat. If other enemies are still alive, kill them, then recruit the knocked-out enemies. Then, open the ship menu, select "Special Lieutenants", and hire the NPC for some money.


Successfully complete one of the following tasks to get a trophy:

    Epic Cycle (Platinum): Earn every trophy.
    Island Hopper (Gold): Complete 20 Quests on Pephka, Obsidian and Abantis islands.
    Are You Not Entertained? (Silver): Become Champion of the Arena.
    Child of Poseidon (Silver): Complete all underwater location objectives.
    I am Legend (Silver): Equip 1 Legendary melee weapon and 5 Legendary armor pieces.
    Lord of the Seas (Silver): Fully upgrade the Adrestia.
    The Argonauts (Silver): Fully crew the Adrestia with Legendary Lieutenants.
    Birthright (Bronze): Discover Atlantis and speak with Pythagoras.
    Blood Sport (Bronze): Defeat a Mercenary in the Arena.
    Demigod (Bronze): Reach Level 50.
    Fashion's Creed (Bronze): Equip a Legendary Armor set.
    Godly Power (Bronze): Acquire a Tier 3 active Ability.
    Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Bronze): Upgrade the Adrestia for the first time.
    Hermes's Homie (Bronze): Unveil all sub-regions of Greece.
    Hero for Hire (Bronze): Win your first on land conquest battle in any region (excluding Megaris in Hero's Journey).
    I Have the Power (Bronze): Perform an Overpower Attack with every weapon type.
    Infamous (Bronze): Raise your Bounty to the maximum level.
    Make It Your Own (Bronze): Engrave your first item.
    Misthios in Training (Bronze): Complete 20 Bounties, War Contracts, or Naval Quests from Message Boards.
    Ramming Speed (Bronze): Cleave a ship in half.
    Scourge of the Aegean (Bronze): Sink your first Epic Ship.
    Shiny! (Bronze): Acquire and equip your first Legendary item.
    The Midas Touch (Bronze): Engrave a Legendary Item with a Legendary Effect.
    Top of the Food Chain (Bronze): Become the first Mercenary.
    War Master (Bronze): Kill the Leader of any Region with Low Resources, other than Megaris.
    You Work for Me Now (Bronze): Recruit and assign a Legendary NPC for your ship.

Additionally, there are 26 secret trophies:

    This is Sparta! (Bronze): Complete the Battle of 300.
    An Odyssey in the Making (Bronze): Complete Episode 1.
    Past Mistakes (Bronze): Complete Episode 2.
    Evil Unearthed (Bronze): Complete Episode 3.
    The Bright Minds (Bronze): Complete Episode 4.
    From the Ashes (Bronze): Complete Episode 5.
    Democracy Falls (Bronze): Complete Episode 6.
    Legend in the Making (Bronze): Complete Episode 7.
    Taking Back Athens (Bronze): Complete Episode 8.
    Odyssey's End (Gold): Complete Episode 9 + Epilogue.
    Legacy Restored (Silver): Upgrade your Spear to Tier 6.
    The Cult Unmasked (Silver): Defeat all the Cultists of Kosmos.
    Stink Eye (Bronze): Recover the Cyclops's eye from a goat on Kephallonia.
    In Perseus's Image (Bronze): Defeat Medusa.
    A-maze-ing Victory! (Bronze): Defeat the Minotaur.
    Eye on the Prize (Bronze): Defeat the Cyclops.
    Riddle Me This (Bronze): Outwit the Sphinx.
    Master of the Hunt (Bronze): Complete the Daughters of Artemis questline.
    Everybody Benefits (Bronze): Complete Markos's questline.
    Trust Me, I'm a Doctor (Bronze): Complete the Hippokrates questline.
    A Pirate's Life for Me (Bronze): Complete Xenia's questline.
    Going For Gold (Silver): Complete the Olympic questline.
    One Head Down... (Silver): Defeat a full cluster of Cultists of Kosmos.
    Birthright (Bronze): Discover Atlantis and speak with Pythagoras.
    Island Hopper (Gold): Complete 20 Quests on Pephka, Obsidian and Abantis islands.
    Wrath of the Amazons (Bronze): Cleave a ship while having an all-women crew.


Big Changes 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' Needs To Make

After more than 200 hours, I've come to the conclusion that there are some Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that are badly needed. While this is generally a pretty great casual game, there are little things here or there that just annoy the heck out of me and my friends.

Worst of all, many of these troublesome issues could be fixed with some very tiny changes. I don't want Bells to fall from the sky, but it would be nice if portions of the game were a wee bit less... aggravating.

Here are the 21 Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes I'd love to see added to the game!

Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Island Sharing

Sharing Islands and Cloud Storage

I'm gonna start my big ol' list of Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fixes with a heavy hitter: sharing islands and cloud storage.

I had to get the digital version of New Horizons thanks to my local gaming store temporarily closing down. The entire game with all of its assets is a few gigabytes at most, and I would bet that your actual island data takes up a very small portion of that.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the exact kind of game that makes paying for Nintendo Switch Online's cloud storage worth it. However big an island might be, surely Nintendo could afford to allow us to safely store them as a backup?

Moreover, why are we restricted to one island per console? In terms of file size, there is absolutely no reason that they couldn't make an option for multiple islands. My understanding is that previous games tended to be on handheld consoles that were only used by one person at a time, but that's not the case with the Nintendo Switch. One island per console just doesn't fit for a family game system, and removing this limitation is one of the improvements that Nintendo needs to focus on the most.

Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Crafting Multiple

Crafting Multiple Items (and Using Your Storage)

If you love fishing, you'll surely hit a point where you want to craft Fish Bait. This is one of the more obvious Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life issues that most players experience.

First, you have to dig up a Manila Clam and listen to that same silly pun every. Single. Time. Then, you need to actually craft the Fish Bait, which entails the following:

  • Put the Manila Clam(s) in your inventory.

  • Go to the workbench and go through an unnecessary dialog asking if you want to craft.

  • Confirm crafting the item.

  • Watch an animation (which you can thankfully speed up).

  • Celebrate that you made a thing. Hooray!

  • Go through another prompt asking if you want to keep crafting.

  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • If I want to make 20 bags of Fish Bait, it is going to take me several minutes at least. Why? This is an absolutely unnecessary time sink in a game that's already pretty darn slow.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Inventory

    Faster Storage Management

    Speaking of slowing things down, moving things into and out of your storage is an absolute chore. You can only move items one at a time in either direction and it takes a good long while to get it done. Meanwhile, selling items at Nook's Cranny lets you select multiple items at a time and sell them in one go.

    Better organizing for your hundreds of items is one of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that are sorely needed. It would be helpful to be able to select multiple items in the backpack and in your storage to make moving multiple things much easier.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - DIYs

    A Way to Store DIYs

    See how there are a few DIY recipes on the floor there? That's an older screenshot of mine. The situation today is about five times worse.

    I could sell these spare DIYs I have, but they're an invaluable trading tool. They can be traded for other items or given away to friends. And yet, it's impossible to actually put them into any kind of storage. Your only real option is to drop them on the floor or place them on a piece of in-game furniture, and even that has its limits.

    Some kind of DIY filing cabinet that stores your spares would be a very useful Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement. People are not going to sell most of their DIYs and they can pile up quickly unless you're a very active trader.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Trading

    Make Trading Safer (and Faster)

    I've done a bit of trading through various online communities. Thus far, I've been lucky to not deal with any scammers. The day will inevitably come, and that's why making trading safer is probably one of the higher priority Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that need to be put in the game.

    There are goodness knows how many games where players can drop and pick up items. It didn't take game developers long to realize that this made for a terrible trading system. Blizzard Entertainment learned their lesson and implemented a simple (but effective) trading system in Diablo II 20 years ago.

    We need some kind of dedicated trading interface. Not only will it make trading easier, it will make it safer and prevent scams. It absolutely must be able to transfer Bells, Nook Mile Tickets, DIYs, and even the clothes off of your back—sometimes, you travel to a new island with absolutely everything for sale, clothes included.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Vaulting

    Climbing Cliffs and Leaping Lakes

    You're restricted to a tiny portion of the island at the very beginning of your journey. Your world expands when you first unlock a vaulting pole a few days into the game, allowing you to jump over rivers. A new dimension is added to your travels when you unlock the ladder a few days later and gain the ability to ascend cliffs.

    There is rarely a scenario where players may not carry a vaulting pole or ladder. Heck, even though my island is filled with inclines and bridges, I still carry my vaulting pole and ladder just in case.

    These two tools are essential pieces of equipment. The Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fix for this problem is simple enough: these items really ought to have their own dedicated equipment slot, separate from the inventory.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Camera Angles

    Changing the Camera Angle

    When you're at home or in some buildings, you can freely move the camera around. Outside, though? You can change the vertical angle, but you're not allowed to rotate the camera.

    Nintendo has shown that they're perfectly capable of implementing a free-moving camera, and yet that's just not an option when you're out of doors, making this a prime pick for an Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fix. Just use the indoor system outdoors!

    I've seen some people argue that this exists to maintain the "traditional" look of the previous games which had a fixed camera. Thanks, but I'm not invested in your nostalgia. I'd like to actually be able to find the items I've dropped that somehow fell behind a tree.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Basic Houses

    Upgrade 'Basic' Villager Houses

    Did you know that not all villager houses are the same? The first few villagers that join you get a different type of "basic" house. As far as I know, there's not really a way to get them to upgrade to their "true" house without kicking them out of your town and inviting them back.

    That is patently ridiculous. Surely this is one of those Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that Tom Nook could take care of for a simple fee, yes, yes?

    Players ought to be able to outright upgrade these "basic" houses for a nominal fee. The game could always use more money sinks, anyway.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Getting Rid of Villagers

    Kicking Out Villagers (and Keeping Them Out)

    While we're on the subject of villagers, let's acknowledge that there are basically two kinds of people: those who care about the animals living on their island, and the slightly nutty folks who have made a perfect plan for who they want to live with them.

    I firmly fall in the latter category, and I must admit that I've found this whole experience immensely slow and frustrating. For starters, you can get maybe one villager a week to leave. I thought that was that and took my time searching Mystery Tour islands for one of the villagers I actually wanted.

    I then discovered (much to my consternation) that a random villager just moved in on his own without prompting. This undocumented "feature" has now made my problem worse. Shuffling out all of the unwanted villagers I have is the only time I've ever considered time traveling.

    There needs to be some kind of mechanic to make it easier to remove them. And no, using Amiibo figures and Amiibo Cards ain't gonna cut it.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Construction

    Speeding Up Construction (in Some Cases)

    Part of the appeal of Animal Crossing is the slower pace of the game. If a shop opens up at 8:00 in the morning, it opens at 8:00 in the morning. Sure, you could cheat by setting your system clock forward, but some view that as going against the spirit of the game.

    I rushed to get my island set up to unlock terraforming—a task that can only be completed once you're closer to 10 villagers. Once I was done, I found myself wanting to move around all of my buildings and construct new inclines and bridges.

    To say that it took a while was an understatement. It took me three weeks to get everything in place and I was sorely tempted to cheat with time-traveling. It would be nice for there to be an option to move or construct more than one building a day, even if I had to pay a premium. I might have taken that option and it'd make for a fine Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Lock Furniture.jpg

    Locking Furniture in Place

    One of my favorite spots on my island is this nice little bamboo forest that I built. This forest has a hot spring right in the middle and it's all coming together very nicely. Unfortunately, actually using the trees has become a chore.

    You see, the same button that's used to pick up items is also used to pick up furniture. Once I whack the bamboo trees with my Stone Axe, I inevitably pick up the hot spring (or some other piece of decoration by accident). Then, I have to carefully move everything back into place.

    I'd love to see an option to "lock" furniture so that it couldn't be easily picked up, perhaps with a specialized tool. This way, I can actually use the harvestable elements of my island without all the inconvenience.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Custom Designs

    Custom Designs and Terraforming

    Unlocking terraforming starts the "endgame" of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in a sense. You're able to reshape pretty much every bit of your whole island to your liking.

    Part of terraforming is the ability to place certain floor designs on the ground permanently. You also have the option to use Custom Designs (created by yourself or others), but I found, much to my dismay, that it's no different than the default "spray" option. That is to say, Custom Designs placed with the terraforming tool aren't actually permanent.

    Lots of people have made their own custom paths (some of which you can see in images here). They look nice, but they're awfully fragile. The ideal solution is to let the terraforming tool put down Custom Designs as permanently as anything else.

    This may be a slightly more difficult Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fix, but I'd argue it's well worth the trouble. I'd certainly love to spruce my island up a bit and not have to worry about kicking my floor away.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Moving Rocks

    Please, Please Let Us Move Rocks

    Saying that I like things to have their proper place would be a massive understatement. I like designing things and getting everything set up just right. New Horizons largely gives me a lot of freedom for moving things around with one exception: rocks.

    You know those big ol' rocks that pop up on your island? There is genuinely no way to move them. If you break them, they respawn at a random spot. If you want to spawn them somewhere specific, there is only one solution: pave over your entire island so that there are only a handful of valid spawn locations.

    This whole process took me a week-and-a-half and it was a tremendous pain in the ass. The fix here is simple:

    • Using fruit + axe breaks a rock.

    • Using fruit + shovel picks up a rock.

    • Trying to take a rock home from a Mystery Tour doesn't work because it's "too heavy."

    This solution would let players break rocks if needed, move the rocks wherever they like, and prevent any possibility of taking home extra rocks. And best of all, I wouldn't have to pave over my whole island again if I accidentally break one.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - What Do I Own

    What Do I Already Own?

    I am very frugal with my Bells... right up until the Able Sisters shop opens. Then I go on a fashion frenzy and buy pretty much every item I don't have. The problem is, I'm not always sure.

    To better understand things, here's a quick primer on "cataloging": if you pick up an item, it gets added to the roster of things you can buy from the Nook Stop. If it's not a craftable item, you can purchase it again at some future point.

    When it comes to clothing, you only need to buy (or otherwise acquire them) once and you're set. The problem is that neither Able Sisters nor Nook's Cranny indicate which items you already own, nor is there any sort of failsafe in place. Here's the Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life remedy: a simple icon indicating that you've cataloged an item.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Shopping Faster

    Shopping Should Be Faster

    Shopping isn't just full of mysteries — it takes a long time, especially if you're buying a lot of items in one go.

    Think back to your last online order of groceries. Suppose that you had to check out and pay for each and every individual item on your list. It would get annoying fast, wouldn't it? Well, that's exactly how shopping works in New Horizons.

    It's not so bad in Nook's Cranny, but it's pretty terrible in Able Sisters. Yes, you can wear multiple clothing items at the same time—a hat, some pants, a shirt, etc.—but buying multiple items of one type is awful. If there were seven pairs of pants you wanted, you would have buy one pair, complete the transaction, and repeat it again several more times.

    The Able Sisters (and Nook's Cranny, Leif, and any other shop while we're at it) badly need a proper shopping cart. You give me the things, I give you the Bells, and everyone leaves happy without wasting half an hour.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Talking.jpg

    Talking Should Be Faster, Too (...Too)

    One of the most helpful Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes would be to speed up text. Anyone who has traveled to another island or talked to Saharah knows exactly what I'm talking about.

    I understand the necessity for some of this dialog the first time around, but do I really need to hear the whole spiel about prices and exchange tickets every time I buy a rug? Blathers, bless his feathered heart, is just as bad at times. And goodness forbid you click the wrong online play option at the airport; you'll be sitting through half a page of annoying text yet again.

    I don't think the amount of dialog should be cut down entirely, but it would be nice to have a way to massively speed things up beyond holding down the B button. 

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Nook Miles items.jpg

    Buying Alternate Nook Rewards Items

    Here's a mild spoiler: once you're a fair ways into the game, you can purchase a certain selection of special items with Nook Miles. What the game doesn't tell you is that each of these items have variants, and each island only gets one variant. If you want them all, you'll have to trade.

    That's not such a big deal. What is a big deal is that owning these items doesn't entitle you to buy them again. Even if you've unlocked an alternate color Phone Box or Drinks Machine, you will only ever be able to buy the one tied to your island.

    Collecting is a big part of the game. You should be able to buy the alternate Nook Miles items once you've acquired them. If balance is a concern, then the cost of the non-native items could be increased to compensate.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Identify Items

    Making it Easier to Identify Items

    Iconography in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is wildly inconsistent. You can see the actual items in your storage, but your inventory only shows a clothing class or a leaf. The only way to know what an item is for certain is to either place it on the ground, put it on, or drop it into your storage.

    At the minimum, a little dot of color would be helpful to show off variant designs. This Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement would make managing your inventory much easier.

    A much better improvement, however, would be to show a miniature version of the item as depicted above. It can be seen decently even on handheld mode and deciphering items would be as easy as pie.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Golden Tools

    Golden Tools Should Matter More

    In previous Animal Crossing games, golden tools were the ultimate item. Once acquired, they would never break. The golden tools in New Horizons are practically a joke in comparison.

    As an example, here's what goes into a Golden Axe and the sale value for the sum total of items:

    • 5 Tree Branches (25 Bells)

    • 1 Stone (75 Bells)

    • 1 Iron Nugget (375 Bells)

    • 3 Wood (180 Bells)

    • 1 Gold Nugget (10,000 Bells)

    The inclusion of a Gold Nugget ups the cost of a Golden Axe by a factor of more than 10. What do you get in exchange? An extra 100 uses before it breaks. (And regular tools have 100 uses to begin with.)

    I understand that there a balance concerns, but double the uses for more than 10 times the cost just doesn't add up. If golden tools had 1,000 uses, it would be a much more worthwhile endeavor while still not being invincible.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Nintendo Switch Messaging

    Nintendo Switch Online Messaging

    This is a bit outside of the purview of the game itself, but it'd be a massive Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement nonetheless. Nintendo's reliance on friend codes presents a problem: how do I get my Nintendo Switch friends into the game?

    Believe it or not, you can add friends on the Nintendo Switch ecosystem but there is absolutely no way to actually communicate with them via the console itself. There are no private messages. There is no text chat. There is no voice chat.

    Xbox Live had this down nearly 20 years ago. Voice chat and text messages were gradually refined and improved to the point of perfection. This is a silly oversight on Nintendo's part and they really should get around to improving this part of their service.

    Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Multiplayer in General.jpg

    Multiplayer in General

    Closing things out is another big point of contention with Animal Crossing: New Horizons: the multiplayer is shallow and often aggravating to play.

    First, there's the issue of connecting. Every time someone comes onto your island, everyone on the island must sit through a nearly three-minute cutscene. Every single time.

    You can't sit out this cutscene, either; you just have to deal with it. If you're in a menu, the other player can't connect until you close it and you will be repeatedly nagged to close the window while they're trying to connect. This makes activities like selling turnips a special kind of hell.

    Local multiplayer has its problems, too. Because of the silly shared islands, only one person is "in charge" of the party — local co-op players on the same console don't even have access to their own inventories! This would have been a piss-poor multiplayer system in 2005, and there's no excuse for it in 2020.

    Some time ago, I saw a beautiful tweet that succinctly sums up all of the little problems I have with Animal Crossing: New Horizons: