Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Seven

Previous chapter: Apologies.

Chapter Forty Seven: Out and About.

The four housemates all went to the big park that weekend, as they had little else to do at home. Hera immediately set up for a brief musical performance, minus the singing. She pulled out her violin and played a few scales to warm up. "Doe, a deer, a female deer," Hera thought to herself.
Fran hugged Isabel.
Francesca hugged Isabel as a crowd gathered in front of Hera. "I brought all of us to the park so that we can get some inspiration," said Francesca.

"How well do you think it's working?" the elder Lion asked.
"Hera's enjoying herself, for one," Francesca replied.

Artix Entertainment Review Extra 1.2

Previous extra: Click here.

Excuses, Schcuses.
I comment on the apparent opinion that chibi games don't work, then compare how you can break bad news tactfully or offensively.

Graphics, really?
When I was in contact with Cysero over Twitter, he claimed that "Nope. Artix considers the art style one of the multitude of reasons that HS flopped," (Source) when I asked him whether he would reconsider using the HeroSmash cast or art style in another short project.

This contact was after he posted his controversial article basically dismissing HeroSmash and Oversoul as unwanted ideas.

This would have been a reasonable response if Artix Entertainment hadn't just released a similarly super-deformed mobile game called BattleGems. Not to mention all the other disproportionate games out there with big heads and little bodies that are still being maintained.

Templates from HeroSmash.
Super-deformed is generally defined as skewed proportions where heads are big and limbs are short. Bodies may be much smaller to fit with the style.

The mascot of HeroSmash.
Graphics are important to the game, but they have to fit the tone. Even games with lackluster graphics can be a hit if its other features more than make up for it.

a) Nun Attack
A 2d mobile game about a group of super-powered nuns who have to take down one of their flock gone bad. It became such a success that a sequel and a spin-off were made, Run and Gun and Yuki's Silent Quest respectively.
Super-deformed with the backing of God.
Being chibi was not even a problem to cosplay. Cysero's assumption that chibi graphics were a factor in a game's failure is not true in this case. The game went beyond its graphical limitations to go overboard and tell a tall tale, as befitting a superhuman game.
Closeup of a Nun Attack character. (Source)
Nun Attack's graphics are the closest to HeroSmash as the characters in both games have extremely large heads, small bodies, and fine thin limbs.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Six

Previous chapter: Bringing Up Old Times.

Chapter Forty Six: Apologies.

Isabel stormed off to the park to cool down after Hera criticized her playing. Hera felt uneasy even after a quick shower and change of clothes. She read the notes for Carnival of The Animals, thinking of how to play them on piano later.

She didn't look up when Attie and Francesca came downstairs. The two of them started watching an action flick. When the title theme played, Hera got up and walked over to her housemates. "I'm sorry," Hera said.

"What's there to apologize about?" said Attie. "I've got no beef against you."

"I forgive you!" Francesca said, getting up from her seat. She stood in front of Hera.

"Really?" Hera asked. "I thought I upset you two with the Mechanical Armageddon game idea, I..."

Francesca knocked the breath out of Hera by hugging her tightly. "I love you, Hera!" Francesca said. "You're like a big sister to me. That main character mess is all water under the bridge."
Francesca hugged Hera tightly.
"You're the little sister I never had," Hera replied. She let go of Francesca and the brunette did the same. "You might be morbid, capricious, and childish, but you're great fun to be around."

Francesca smiled. She then looked aside, slightly embarrassed.

"Is something wrong?" Hera asked, concerned. "Toothache acting up again? I asked you to go see a dentist."

"Her passion's acting up," Attie joked. "Watch your back, Hera."
Fran went deadpan.
"What?" said Francesca. "Can't I hug someone without romantic intent? I'm not bi like you, Attie."

"Nobody said you were," Attie said and chuckled. "Though your heart is practically on your sleeve when it comes to feelings."

"Just like her superhero persona," Hera said. "Only difference is that she looks like a standoffish headsman then."

--------

In the park, Isabel was engrossed with a chess match between two men. She stared as the men arranged the pieces in reply to their opponent's moves. Isabel felt drawn to the man with straggly black hair.
Isabel had a captive audience.
So, when the black-haired man started talking, Isabel discussed her work at the museum. The onlookers were captivated by the small talk, but he did not seem too interested until she went on about Francesca's superhero story. He looked up then.

"Your idea sounds interesting," he said. "Let me know when your cousin publishes it." He then turned back to his game.

Isabel felt snubbed, so she plodded back home.

--------

The elder Lion returned halfway through the action movie her housemates were watching. She was glad to see that her housemates were no longer arguing with each other.

"You missed a lot of the movie," Attie said. "It's okay, you can still catch up."

"It's simple to understand, one of the latest Marvel movies," Francesca said.

Isabel sat down and the housemates spent a pleasant evening discussing the film afterwards.

Next chapter: Out And About.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Five

Previous chapter: Wisdom and Toothache.

Chapter Forty Five: Bringing Up Old Times.

Francesca felt her toothache was much better the following morning. When she came down for breakfast, Attie had taken a steak for herself and put out pancakes for Francesca. Hera had already eaten and was talking to Attie.

"As I was saying, Attie," Hera said, "I'll compose a few snippets of music for a new game project I'm making with Francesca, involving some of our old characters. So the story's mostly Francesca's idea."

"Oh really?" said Attie. "If that's the case, maybe Francesca can tell me all about it."

Francesca told her cousin about her plan for the Mechanical Armageddon. "You know Demoliri, right? The executioner girl who lost the Freedom Heart? This time, she'll retrieve it, while beating back the supervillains, the Mechanical Armageddon is her redemption."
"Wait, isn't Demoliri the Goth chick with a nano-leotard and executioner's hood?" Attie asked. When Francesca nodded, Attie blurted, "You and your dumb ideas! Making your character an executioner with a creepy mask and a provocative outfit, then putting her in the starring role of your game idea!"

"That's what the last storyline was before the admins of our roleplaying group gave up. I wanted to tidy up the loose ends."

"By the way, nobody's going to read a story where the heroes win, nobody wants a straightforward superhero victory anymore," Attie said. "Just my advice, cause so many people hated your character for what she did in the roleplay and won't read about her redemption if you post it."

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Four

Previous chapter: After the Library.

Chapter Forty Four: Wisdom and Toothache.

It was one cold night, as it had rained earlier. Francesca was curled up in her bed, tossing and turning.

"Go away, I don't need your hugs, your orders, and not your demands of me!" Francesca suddenly yelled in her sleep. "Leave me alone and don't come back!"

It seemed that the chill left her room right at that moment. Francesca woke up, shivering. She pulled the blankets around herself and tried to sleep.

--------

Francesca groaned as she typed an email to her parents and brother again. She wondered if she should mention the nagging pain in the back of her mouth. Knowing her mother though, Mrs. Takahashi was likely to rush up to Willow Creek, get her checked, then complain about her fashion choices.

She decided not to mention the toothache for now, and sent the email. She wrote a short one to her British cousin as well. Francesca then went downstairs and prepared some spaghetti for herself, as her teeth hurt too much to eat harder food.
"Oh, ouch!" thought Francesca when she accidentally bit on her sore gum instead of a noodle. "My poor mouth."

"I'll have better luck asking Hera for advice," thought Francesca. "I've seen Doctor Richardson, her mother before, and Hera's got a bit of medical knowledge."

Just then, Hera came out of her room. She noticed Francesca's discomfort. So Hera sat in front of Francesca, who complained, "My mouth hurts."

"You have a pain in your mouth?" Hera asked. "But your lips are fine. Have you been brushing your teeth lately?"

Francesca stared gloomily at her plate of spaghetti. "It's a big itch at the back of my mouth," she said. "Started this morning, and I do brush my teeth, thank you very much."
"Wait, you turned nineteen last December," Hera said. "Did you know that wisdom teeth come out around that time?"

"Not until you mentioned it," Francesca said. "Does it mean anything?"

Announcement about The Four Stars.

The first season will come to an end at Chapter Fifty Two, and as a result, this blog won't be as weekly as before.

Once The Four Stars' first season has ended, this blog will return to posting academic papers and game reviews.

Not to worry, the series will continue at a later date, and even if it doesn't, the story hasn't ended between a rock and a hard place.

The Chosen Sims and I thank you for your patronage.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Three

Previous chapter: Library Trip.

Chapter Forty Three: After the Library.

Once the pair got into the library, Francesca ran over to the bookshelves and scanned through the titles. She didn't find what she was looking for on the first pass, nor on the second pass.

"Miss, may I know where the literature and history guides are kept?" Francesca asked the librarian, after she just couldn't find the books she wanted.

The librarian pointed upstairs. "Go up two flights of stairs, they're in the reading attic," she said.

"Thanks."

Attie was looking at some sports magazines when Francesca tapped her shoulder. "I'm going to get some books from upstairs," the brown-haired girl said. Attie nodded and continued looking at the magazines.

Francesca then went upstairs, and Attie followed moments later, curious about her cousin's plan.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty Two

Previous chapter: Broadway on The Brain.

Chapter Forty Two: Library Trip.

One morning, Hera was very bored after looking up how to program simple roleplaying games. She looked at the blob of plasticine that Isabel had left on the desk, then took it. She molded it, rolled it around, and somehow or other got sailors on the brain doing so. As a result, she ended up with a miniature statue of Sir Francis Drake.

Then she heard Attie shouting about the post arriving. The younger Lion was watering the garden. Hera carried the plasticine bust of Sir Francis Drake to the mailbox, whistling the lyrics to Chubby Checker's Twist on the way.
Attie continued watering the garden behind Hera's back, grumbling as she did so. "What back breaking work," she said while pouring the water onto the plants. "We need a sprinkler, stat."

Hera picked up the postcards and went back in, still carrying the Francis Drake bust with her. Before Attie could say anything about the Francis Drake bust, Hera shut the door. Attie stood up and stretched after putting away the watering can. She then went upstairs to find her twin.

Isabel was painting as usual, too engrossed in her work to notice Attie sneaking up beside her.

Isabel yelled loudly when Attie roared into her ear. The elder Lion shrank back from her twin, and had to step back from her easel.

"What's all that about, dummy?" Isabel said crossly after Attie finished roaring. "I told you not to scare me like that if you want something. You want a snack or my permission to do something or what?"

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty One

Previous chapter: Guildhall Wannabe.

Chapter Forty One: Broadway on The Brain.

While Isabel settled down to watch television, Hera was pacing in front of the full mirror in the Twins' room. "I am the greatest!" Hera exclaimed to her reflection. "I am the best! The most marvelous! Ugh."
She looked at her own reflection. "Wow, I'm so drab," she thought. "Hang on, Hera, don't you look like the black version of a Hollywood star? Rita Hayworth mouth and nose, mi amigo?"

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Forty

Previous chapter: Smothered in Perfume.

Chapter Forty: Guildhall Wannabe.

One afternoon, when Attie and Francesca were away at work, Hera was bored. She was tired of guns and science fiction, so she wanted to do something musical.

"Isabel, since we have nothing better to do, I'd like to tune up your piano playing," Hera said to the elder Lion. Isabel was drying her hair after washing it.

"Wait till I get my hair dried, Hera," the Lion said. So Hera went downstairs and waited. It was fifteen minutes until Isabel sauntered down to the music corner where the grand piano was.

Hera tapped her foot impatiently. Isabel sat with a plop on the piano chair and her hands crashed onto the piano keys. Hera winced. "That's not how you treat the piano!" she exclaimed.

"When were piano keys made out of fine china, I'd like to know?" Isabel said, a bit sharply. She shifted on the seat.

"No, I just don't like it when people slam on their instruments and call the resulting mess music."

"Ah, you still have a strong dislike of metal and Goth-punk music then."

Hera gritted her teeth. "Shall we start with the very basics?" she asked. "Refreshing your memory and all."

Isabel obliged and placed her hands gently on the keys this time. "Start at C," Hera said.

"Do re mi fa so la ti do, do ti la so fa mi re do," Hera whistled as Isabel played the scales. "Again," the blue-eyed woman said. "Go as fast as you can without missing the keys."

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty Nine

Previous chapter: The Scent of French Perfume.

Chapter Thirty Nine: Smothered in Perfume.

Isabel looked up when she heard the rocket lifting off. "Hera?" she asked, and went downstairs. Hera was busy composing a song on her computer. "Herakaris!" Isabel shouted. "Look out of the window!"

 Hera did as Isabel asked, then gasped in surprise. "MY ROCKET KIT!" Hera yelled at the top of her lungs. "It's gone!"

"Never mind that," Isabel said. "We have to find Attie and Francesca!" Hera ran out into the garden, still worried.

"Where the hell is the ship?!" Hera yelled at the sky. She had rushed out in such a hurry that she was still in her pajamas intead of her vest and skirt. Isabel tottered out on her heeled galoshes and peered into the sky as well. She narrowed her eyes at the sun's light. No sign of her twin or her cousin.
"Hey! Where's the ship?!"
 The rocket returned from its trip a few minutes later. It landed safely, covering Isabel and Hera in perfume. The door opened, and Hera saw her housemates inside.