Tabletop Games

Marrying Mr. Darcy: Undead Expansion

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. I just do it for the undead masses. Marrying Mr. Darcy is copyright Evensen Creative. Images used for reference and commentary.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a game about marrying Mr. Darcy can only be enhanced by zombies.

This is a small expansion of 20 cards that add an extra obstacle to your pursuit of the perfect husband – the undead! New cards include undead mob attacks, as well as weapons and items. These can help you conquer or avoid the zombie hordes.

The biggest change is that the heroines and their suitors can become zombies themselves. This drastically changes the proposal stage. You don’t want to marry a rotting corpse! But…if you have been zombified, you can turn and claim one of the menfolk – even if he’s already married! It all depends on the roll of the dice.

Like in the original game, the heroine with the highest points wins – whether she is married, an old maid, or undead.

This is a small but worthy expansion. I would like a few more cards, and many of the zombie cards simply require you to exclaim something to get a +1 on your roll. I do not like having to exclaim things! People are always misunderstanding me.

The Undead Expansion is recommended for people who like both Mr. Darcy and zombies. The base game is required to play. It can also be coupled with the Emma Expansion.

3 out of 5 stars

Picture Books

Farmer George and the Hedgehogs by Nick Ward | Book Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Cover art is copyright of Pavilion.

This book is about George, a farmer who nearly kills four hedgehogs when he decides to light a spontaneous bonfire.

Luckily, his wife, Dotty, stops him from committing murder. They then decide to atone for their sins by taking care of the hedgehogs.

They do a terrible job.

First, they should have got them checked out for damage from smoke inhalation. They instead try to house them with several animals, who could irritate or injure them. Finally, they feed them milk and bread.

Do not feed hedgehogs milk or bread! They cannot digest these things! It is terrible for their little tummies, especially if they are recovering from a trauma and smoke inhalation.

George and Dotty might be forgiven for their ignorance, if it weren’t for the fact that all the animals – including the hedgehogs – can speak perfect English. This book must take place in an alternate universe like Oz. It is the only way for it to make sense.

This is a simple story, which does its best to highlight the dangers of bonfires and champion animal protection. Unfortunately, it leaves George looking like an incompetent farmar and Dotty looking, well, a little dotty.

2 out of 5 stars

Mobile Games

Disney Crossy Road | Mobile Game Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Woe is me. Disney Heroes is copyright Hipster Whale, Disney and Pixar. Images used for reference and commentary.

From the depraved minds that brought you Crossy Road comes a game where you can squish all your favourite Disney and Pixar characters.

You start off as Mickey Mouse. To unlock other characters, you can either meet them along your journey or you can use money you pick up to win one from a slot machine. You can also buy them with cash money. They average at US$1-3 per character, but there are some set deals.

Different characters have different locations you play in. Music can also change for characters. I got Chief Tui from Moana and Where You Are was playing. I liked it. It can be difficult to figure out how to navigate the obstacles in each of the different locations but this keeps you on your tootsies!

It seems like you get more money in Disney Crossy Road than the original. I am imagining this? Hmm. No complaints. More money please. I like collecting the characters a lot more in this version. Who cares about a random animal when you can get Disney characters? What I do not like is that sometimes you go to the slot machine to get a new character…and get a duplicate. What am I to do with a duplicate? I am not impressed.

Unlike the original Crossy Road, there is the opportunity to play as a hedgehog – Toy Story’s Mr. Pricklepants! Alas, he is a rare figure. I never found him. This saddens my little hedgepiggy heart.

Disney Crossy Road seems less stressful than its predecessor. Maybe this is because I like Disney! It is not easier. At all. Like the original, there are still nonsensical aspects. Do I think that Chien Po from Mulan could drown? Yes. Do I think he could get run over by a single chicken? No.

I recommend Disney Crossy Road to people who love Disney…and people who do not and just wish to squish beloved Disney characters.

3.8 out of 5 stars


The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith | Book Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. At this rate I’m going to have to get a job. Cover art is copyright of Puffin Books.*

“Why did the hedgehog cross the road?” sounds like the lead-in to a bad joke. Instead, it is the premise for a cautionary tale about a curious hoglet.

Max is a young hedgehog with a dream – to venture to the park on the other side of the road and hunt out the delicacies it has to offer. Curious and ambitious, he sets off to find the humans’ secret to crossing the road safely. What follows is disastrous. The victim of a hit-and-run, Max becomes disoriented – head spinning, words jumbled – yet he persists in his goal.

Max is an endearing protagonist. You can’t help but root for his can-do attitude. He never loses sight of his goal, even when everything he thinks and says is jumbled. When asked how he is he says “KO” instead of “OK.” Admittedly, this is a pretty accurate summary of his current state. Thankfully he never tries to say “Dick King-Smith.” That could have rather rude results.

Max’s determination may come from a place or bravery or ignorance. His parents talk about the demise of many hedgehogs, but don’t directly engage their children in conversation about it. He has three sisters, but unfortunately they are underdeveloped and indistinguishable from one another. My favourite character in the book is Uncle B. He is the Dumbledore of hedgehogs. His eyes twinkle and everything.

‘The Hodgeheg’ is riddled with medical inaccuracies. Max falls asleep after suffering a concussion – very dangerous – and the book peddles the Hollywood myth that a head injury can be cured by another head injury. Max also has incredible eyesight, managing to see several details, even at night. Hedgehogs cannot see well, let alone after suffering a serious injury.

‘The Hodgeheg’ is a short book that can be enjoyed in one sitting. It has a wonderful message about perseverance, but horrible medical advice for a story that revolves around road safety. Best read with a grain of cynicism and a dash of suspended disbelief.

3.3 out of 5 stars
*The puffins live in the Random Penguin House and tell stories to children.

Console Games

Detroit: Become Human | Game Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. I am in great need of emotional support. Detroit: Become Human is copyright Quantic Dream. Images used for reference and commentary.

Premise: The year is 2038. Androids are commonplace. Deviants – rogue androids – are on the rise. You play as three different androids in Detroit, each with their own goals.

This game starts off mundane. For Markus and Kara. Connor gets thrown straight into a hostage situation. Go Connor! But the other two? You walk around, press some buttons. Snore. I did not pay $0 to borrow this game, just so that I could clean toilets, take out the trash, or help an old man go potty.

Then shit gets intense.

The controls take some getting used to. Which stick am I meant to move? Which button am I meant to press? OH MY GOD, THE EVIL HUMAN IS COMING FOR ME. What do you mean she’s dead? Don’t judge me, blonde android lady! I only have two small hands! Fuckin’ Todd.

Tip: Choose your appropriate skill level – casual or expert. I’ll stick with casual. It’s hedgepiggy friendy.

All of these androids are made by a company called Cyberlife. Yes, one company has the monopoly on this game-changing technology, that just happens to be going rogue. Guess they’re getting hella sued.

The three protagonists of Detroit: Become Human are:


Most Likely To: Exaggerate his oppression at the hands of humans.

Markus is the caretaker for Carl, a rich old man who is a kind, fatherly figure to him. Markus goes on to tell everyone how he was an oppressed slave. “I had to buy him paints and play chess with him!” Ungrateful little shit.

He is the leader of the deviants. The only reason he is appointed leader seems to be because he is a mandroid with magic hands. He can “convert” other androids to follow him. Can anyone say cult? Markus was gifted to Carl by the creator of Cyberlife. Suspicious. He is overly important to the story.

You can choose to make Markus a peaceful protestor or a dangerous tyrant. But he will still say radical things like “all humans hate us” and “we’re superior to them” even if you go the peaceful route.

Tip: Don’t get Markus killed unless you want everything to go to shit. He is the Chosen One. No one can do what he can. Especially if they are a ladydroid.


Most Likely To: Be a cinnamon roll that must be protected at all costs.

Connor is the android sent by Cyberlife to work with the police in hunting down and capturing deviants. He’s like Ryan Gosling’s character in Bladerunner 2049, but with a personality and no libido. Connor’s favourite things are doing coin tricks and looking at himself in the mirror. A lot.

His police partner is Hank Anderson, a has-been cop with a tragic backstory and suicidal tendencies. Hank’s dynamic with Connor is one of the best in the game.

You can choose to make Connor a stoic machine or man’s best friend.


Most Likely To: Be underutilised and underpowered – but brilliantly portrayed by Valorie Curry.

Kara is a housekeeper to an abusive father and his daughter. She is so inconsequential to the overall story arc that she can die in her second chapter. But if you manage to keep her alive, she has some wonderful moments with Alice, the daughter of aforementioned evil man.

It is unfortunate – no, it is effin’ aggravating – that Kara, the only playable female character, is resigned to a motherly figure. Her relationship with Alice is sweet and makes for some of the best moments in the story, but she is robbed of a greater role in the plot. She is on the sidelines, while Markus and Connor battle it out in Detroit.

Kara is also weak compared to her male counterparts. Despite being an android, she cannot pull off a plank of wood that is nailed to a door. Male androids can do these things with ease. She’s a machine, damn it! Give her some oomph! Let her kick some butts!

You can play Kara as protective of Alice or…distant-ish? She doesn’t have much diversion in her characterisation. She and Alice team up with a male android during the story, who is not crucial to their survival and refreshingly not a love interest. This makes him a lovely addition to their little family dynamic.

Tip: Keep Kara and Alice alive or I will come for you.

Detroit: Become Human is heavy-handed with the symbolism. Unlike the movie Zootopia, which built its own systemic racism without drawing direct parallels to specific minorities, Detroit: Become Human beats you over the head with blatant nods to historic racism and oppression, such as showing that the androids must stand in a compartment in the back of the bus, and having the android in the menu quote Martin Luther King Jr.

One of Detroit: Become Human’s best assets is its replayability. Just like a book you want to reread, this is a game you can replay, to discover new paths and outcomes, even Easter eggs you might have missed. You do not even need to replay the whole game, but can go back to specific chapters to see new outcomes. Prepare to have your heart broken on more than a few occasions.

Tip: In scenes, there are a limited number of things you can do before things progress. Choose carefully and be quick.

The game sources from – uhh, “pays homage to” – several other android titles like Blade Runner and iRobot. It touches on many of the impacts of androids in society, but only seems to graze the surface of these issues. Most of these issues are only peeked at in magazines you find lying around the place. People are out of jobs, blaming androids instead of the people who created them. Capitalism at work! People throw out their androids when they are done with them, instead of selling them on or salvaging them for parts. Apparently tons of people are poor and out of work, and the 1% is just throwing out perfectly good machinery, willy-nilly. Also, Russia is being a naughty-face.

Detroit: Become Human’s biggest failing is how it handles its (few) female characters. Kara is pigeon-holed into the role of mother, and then there is North. North is a female deviant, who used to be a prostitute. She is also Markus’ love interest. Yes, Markus can make her fall in love with him after a couple of days, even if he does nearly everything she disagrees with. Check out those mandroid pheromones!

North is also incapable of leading the deviants. Despite the fact that she is just as strong, smart and determined as Markus, she cannot succeed. Only he can. Detroit: Become Human could have had many, many more scenarios – good and bad – that played out if Markus died…but instead they chose to make him the linchpin of the game, undermining other characters like Connor and North in the process.

Detroit: Become Human is a good game, but not without its flaws. It is the little moments that make you fall in love with the characters. It is also one of the few games where your choices make a huge impact on how the story unfolds.

Did I mention Connor? Play for Connor.

3.8 out of 5 stars


Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake | Book Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Cover art is copyright of Puffin Books.

You think you know a fairy tale,

and recounting them is rather stale.

Yet when you read a Revolting Rhyme,

You’ll find you were hoodwinked all this time.

This is my second tussle with Roald Dahl’s rhyming couplet poetry. His ‘Dirty Beasts’ was an anthology of hits and misses, but ‘Revolting Rhymes’ is – as that delinquent Goldilocks would say – “just right.”

There are six fairy tales retold in this book: Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and The Three Little Pigs.

My prickly point with ‘Dirty Beasts’ was some of the poems’ length and rhythmic pace. The poems in ‘Revolting Rhymes’ are long – and read like short stories – but the pacing is spot on, which makes for smooth reading. Still, I stumbled when Dahl broke from his rhyming couplets to quote (or paraphrase) famous lines from the fairy tales. This choice displeased me. As a wise llama once said, “You threw off my groove!”

Five of the six poems have a unique spin on the old fairy tales. Modern readers may find Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf predictable. I believe this is because it has been ripped off by ‘Into the Woods’ and other hooligans. Dishonour! Goldilocks and the Three Bears is more of a cynical commentary on the original tale than a full twist.

‘Revolting Rhymes’ is a book that you can’t help but smile while reading, particularly if you are susceptible to schadenfreude. Good times – do read it.

4 out of 5 stars

Tabletop Games

Settlers of Catan | Tabletop Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Not even in the form of wool or grain. Settlers of Catan is copyright KOSMOS. Images used for reference and commentary.

Settlers of Catan – known by today’s youngters as “Catan” – is a game of strategy and luck. The aim is to build roads and settlements to gain points and resources. The player to reach 10 points wins.

If you do not place your initial two settlements on spaces that will give you different types of resources and often, you have screwed yourself for the whole game. Choose wisely or suffer!

Catan is known as the modern replacement for Monopoly. Why is this? Because it is a gateway game that is accessible to non-gamers. Yes, you can get your family of noobs to play this game. It is also because it is a game that you play when you don’t have any better games to play.

Catan has several expansions. It is the sort of game that needs to get decked out and upgraded to keep old-timers invested. It is a game for 2-4 players, but you can also buy an expansion to widen that number of people to 6.

Settlers of Catan is recommended for new gamers, or people who want to connect with – or convert – some noobs.

3 out of 5 stars

Mobile Games

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Game Ever | Mobile Game Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Grumpy Cat is a stingy girl. She doesn’t share no dough. Grumpy Cat’s Worst Game Ever is copyright Lucky Kat Studios. Images used for reference and commentary.

Everyone knows that cats rule the Internet – and Grumpy Cat is their small angry queen. She’s been a meme, she’s starred in her own movie – and now she has her own game. Girl has one hell of an agent! Someone hit me up. I’m game! Haha. Game. Aren’t I so clever?

Grumpy’s game is a compilation of mini games. Lots of very fast mini games – and they only get faster! There is no slacking if you want to keep this kitty content. From fishing, to making cat pizzas, to swatting the hands that would dare touch Grumpy Cat. There are so many games to play and not enough time to get bored. Just enough time to get frustrated.

Every round you play, you get three lives. Each mini game you fail loses you a life. If you win games, you win coins! 100 coins gets you the chance to win a new Grumpy – Chef Grumpy, Detective Grumpy, Hunter Grumpy! Each one unlocks a new mini game – and if you get a duplicate, you get a free life!

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Game Ever isn’t the worst game ever – she just has very high standards! Good for keeping you sharp and alert.

3.3 out of 5 stars

Picture Books

Just Go to Bed by Mercer Mayer | Book Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Cover art is copyright of Golden Press.*

This book is about Little Critter. I do not know what kind of critter he is or why he has such an ambivalent name, but it is what it is.

In this book, Little Critter is using his imagination to its full potential. He imagines himself as all different kinds of professions and creatures – a cowboy, a sea monster, a superhero – but his father stomps all over his happiness, telling him to do ridiculous things like have a bath, put on pajamas, and go to bed.

At first, Little Critter’s father intercepts each of his adventures in character. He is a robot capturing the space cadet, or a bandit chasing the engineer. Then his temper begins to grow. If you want to read a book about bedtime from a parent’s perspective, Adam Mansbach wrote a good one.

I cannot help but empathise with Little Critter’s plight. Sleep is overrated. Imagination is everything. Adults are too uptight about these things. I know because someone has written “brush your teeth” in pencil before “and go to bed” in this book. Little critters do not brush their teeth!

‘Just Go To Bed’ by Mercer Mayer is about imagination in its prime being stilted for something as mundane as sleep. It is a stark and honest depiction of the imaginative potential of a child, juxtaposed with the “necessities” of life.

3 out of 5 stars
*Which is owned by the Random Penguin House. They own everything!

Picture Books

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd | Book Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Cover art is copyright of Penguin Books NZ.*

Hairy Maclary

was up to no good.

He was out to patrol

his neck of the hood.

Pursued by his crew,

first – Hercules Morse.

A gang leader needs

his muscle, of course.

Bottomly Potts

was his dog on the street,

he knew every secret

of the horde and elite.

Muffin McLay

was his trusted advisor,

though his hipster haircut

would make you none the wiser.

Bitzer Maloney

was Maclary’s bookie.

He could always sniff out

a chump or a rookie.

Schnitzel von Krumm

was Maclary’s best snitch.

He could get all the dirt

without gaining a stitch.

Maclary’s boys leered

through windows and doors,

they strutted down streets

and loitered near stores.

Onlookers knew something

was about to go down,

when the gang confronted

the toughest cat in town.

Notorious gangster

Scarface Claw

withdrew his guns

and let out a roar.

The six canine goons,

they yelped and they fled,

they scurried back home

and curled up in bed.

When pondering street gangs

children, be wary –

and remember the dangers

of Donaldson’s Dairy.

3.5 out of 5 stars
*Little blue penguins are native to New Zealand. They are very cute.