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By beb-E

A lot of you have probably heard of the Penny Arcade web comic. Or not. Let's refresh. As mentioned, Penny Arcade is a webcomic by illustrator Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. They debuted in 1998, and have since gone on to become immensely popular. Their main focus is on video games, the industry and the gamer sub-culture.With such narration begins the game, Penny Arcade Adventures Episode 1: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. OTRSPOD is an adventure/RPG, set in the fictional city of New Arcadia, in the year 1992 featuring the protagonists Johnathan “Gabe” Gabriel, Tycho Brahe (the alter egos of Mike and Jerry respectively from their webcomic), and a character of your creation, a rake-wielding average person who has just been rendered homeless by a robot of gigantic proportion. Stepping on houses seems to be a hobby for those big robots, doesn't it?The primary story does not become very clear early in the game, but that's one of the goals. Gabe and Tycho run the Startling Developments Detective Agency, and you team up with them as you race to discovery what madness lay behind the giant robots, biting trash cans and evil mimes. But, not without the help of mechanical genius and brilliant niece of Tycho, Anne Claire. Anne Claire guides and points our heroes in the right direction as you progressively find clues, such as gears and goop-fluids of strange and questionable origin.The dialogues are witty and humor is ever-present, as Jerry Holkins' displays his mastery in script writing. The conversations between the characters are on-key with what's in the PA webcomics. The dialogue choices are some of the weirdest you'll ever see, and yet it feels like home. It feels like Penny Arcade. Your introduction into the PA world is so seemless that, whether it's trashy songs, songs about trash, or boiling pee, you'll feel it's always been like that, only you've never realized it.There are no spoken dialogues, rather everything is shown in speech bubbles. Except for that song about trash, which isn't really a dialogue, more like a slurred version of some alien language or the other. There is a narration, however. A… booming godly voice by a raspy old man, who's most likely suffering from Alzheimer's. Very fitting with the game's supernatural atmosphere, though, and it couldn't been done any better. The sounds of the game does one thing and it does it very well. It complements. Everything, from the sfx, raspy old men, the smell of napal- I mean, the gatling of a tommy gun- everything just falls into place like one big perfect jigsaw puzzle.Simplistic graphics makes for a simplistic system requirement. Very comic-like art that really brings out the 1920s of the game. There's something very nostalgic about the visuals, and it makes you want to snooze back into your chair and let the game play itself. Cool animations like evil mimes throwing invisible objects at you, and little vulgar robots hurling liquid at you really does the trick. Overall, it's got great artwork that reminds me of XIII and Freedom Force at the same time.An adventure/RPG game, it generally involves gathering key objects, or defeating villains (are there other objective in games?), and the battle system is heavily borrowed from the final fantasy series. All characters (heroes and enemies) have three sorts of actions in battle- Item, Attack, and Special. Items can buff up your skills, buff down your opponents skills or cause damage. Special involves a tiny on-screen minigame (like tapping buttons for five seconds), where the better you do, the more damage your character does. You have two more allies, the niece who wields a rocking cool flame thrower, and a lazy cat that… grooms himself…Opponents have strengths and weakness. Some are vulnerable against fists and rakes, while strong against Tycho's Thompson, or the other way around. You can perform blocks or counterattacks by pressing the spacebar at the right time during the opponent's attack. Tactical work is necessary- once you've mastered those, and have learnt the different strengths and weaknesses of enemies, it starts to dull down a bit, but never exactly boring. A more variety of enemies would have made the battles slightly funner.There's a slightly irritating shortcoming, though. Pathfinding is very poorly done as the characters frequently get stuck against objects. Rather than running around an obstacle to reach the clicked destination, it'll go straight, regardless of what lay in the path, trash cans, hobos or PCs. But, that's the only thing, and it falls short on very little or no other grounds at all. Although mostly aimed at the hardcore Penny Arcade fans, the game has something for everyone (as long as they're of age, as the game sports a mature rating). Undoubtedly, the Episodic Penny Arcade Adventures is off to a good start. Around 6 to 8 hours of fun gameplay, Episode 1: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is a fun game, full of great dialogue, cool sounds, great artwork and visuals, and some really satisfying crunches!

By Hitoishi Chakma

Wheelsbd, the automobile website that is Bangladesh's very own, recently arranged a spectacular three week long event for all the automobile enthusiasts of the country. The event, 'Summer Fest 2008' kicked off on the 27th of June with a rally that started out from the Pakistan Embassy in Gulshan, and this rally that ended at the Bashundhara Convention Center saw enthusiasts show up with their production models as well as their souped up modified ones.

The Summer Fest 2008 could be dubbed as a meet for all the motorheads that Bangladesh sports. It had three car rallies all of which, except the last one, were held on the weekends. And there were on road dyno tests which were the toned down versions of the real dyno test that is obviously very expensive to conduct. The event concluded on the 17th of July with a well organized rally that had a total of 18 cars, 9 of which were of WheelsBD's and the other 9 from 6 different auto clubs of the country.

The very intriguing part of the whole event was the on road dyno tests that were being carried out at the FFC parking lot in North Gulshan. Mr. Bayezid a student of Automobile Engineering who was conducting the tests and Mr. Salman Khan the President of WheelsBD were there to explain to us the details while they were testing a 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer EX. Using a laptop, they were simply collecting data from the engine processor using the OBD Port 2, while they put the car through its paces. And they also found a use for the North Gulshan Avenue Road as they were putting each car through a quarter mile run on that road to see how each car would fare in a drag race. In the end the Lancer EX turned out to produce 113 Nm of torque at 4500 rpm with a total BHP of 96.8. And for the quarter mile run, the Lancer took a not-quite earth shattering 20.17 seconds.

Mr. Touhid Hussein the Chairman of WheelsBD when asked, what wheelsBD looked forward to achieve from this event, replied, “We only wanted to get all the clubs of the country together and join hands to make wheelsBD stronger.”

WheelsBD is already planning for a 'Winter Fest' that is scheduled for the December of this year.

By Murtaza Zakiul Anrar

They slash you to pieces, they throw 'shurikens' at you, they scale walls (and rival good ol' Spidey), they poison you.......ahhh Ninjas. They couldn't look any cooler in those movies. They've managed to eat the minds of my two little cousins and one of them actually says he wants to be a Ninja when he grows up !

So what's so cool about them? Is it their slick outfits? Or the little star shaped thingies they just love to throw around? Are they cooler than Chuck Norris? Well....one can't get ALL the answers right? Anyways lets take a look at these dudes in black:

The Ninjas' history is hard to trace, for there are few,if any, records of their existence. However it is known that they originated from the philosophy of Nonuse or " the art of stealth". It was regarded as a religion by a group of Japanese priests at around 523 A.D. But they weren't violent - their role was simply gathering and sharing information for the ruling classes.

From 645-794 A.D. these priests found themselves harassed and attacked by the current government - forcing them to use their knowledge of Nonuse to protect themselves and perfecting their fighting prowess. From then on to around 1192 A.D. the country saw the rise of a new civilization and with it a new class of wealthy, privileged families. These families fought one another for power and the need for spies, informants, and assassins grew with it. They were always jealous and would do anything to readily neutralize any threat or competition. Thus, the demand for the Nonuse monks arose and the first Ninjas were born.

The Ninja were ingenious. Their knowledge were both unique and secret. They could tell the time of the day by seeing a cat's eyes - as cats have sensitive eyes they constantly adjust as the sun passes over the sky.

The Ninja, like sailors, used the stars to navigate at night but they also discovered two other ways of determining direction. One is through the use of a tree stump. If the Ninja came across the stump of a tree, he simply looked at the growth rings to tell which direction was North. The rings become narrower and closer together as they approach North and wider and further apart as they approach South.

Another, more accurate way, of determining direction was by the use of the sun and three sticks. This method accurately determines True North. The Ninja found a fairly clear area that wasn't overgrow with trees or bushes, etc. then he found a stick that was about a foot long and two twigs whose length didn't matter. The Ninja drove the foot long stick into the ground and observed the shadow cast by it and then placed one of the twigs on the ground, at the end of the shadow. He then waited about 15 minutes for the shadow to move and placed the other twig at the end of the shadow's new location. The Ninja then placed his right foot on the first twig and his second foot on the second twig and the Ninja was now facing True North.

Since the Ninja had to survive in nature they were trained naturalists. They tracked down sources of water by studying the insects in the area - a high concentration of ants or crickets in an area usually meant a nearby water body.

Women also played significant roles in the Ninja communities. Known as Kunoichi, a female Ninja's job was to get as close to the enemy as possible, be it by using their own femininity. The Kunoichi were trained in a variety of weapons like the Ninja, but because of the different situations they faced it was also very common for them to carry a variety of close range weapons - blinding powder, daggers, poisons, ropes or even fans.....because they were easy to conceal and deadly at close range. Imagine a young woman crying, and how it would make you feel. You'd probably want to try to help her, and maybe even offer her some assistance. This is just one example of how the kunoichi could trick someone into walking right into a trap, a very powerful weapon! The Kunoichi's clothing depended on the situation, maybe it called for NO clothes ( ever watched Ninja 3: The Domination ?)

I've always liked cars and Batman so when the Batmobile came out in a 1/24th scale die cast, I had to have it. That started me thinking about a Batman computer mod, and I considered several options with windows, graphics, lights, etc., but it just wasn't really what I was looking for. About then the movie, Batman Begins came out and there was a cool new Batmobile. A couple of weeks after seeing Batman Begins I was walking through Wal-Mart and noticed a 1/6 scale RC model of the Tumbler Batmobile. I'd just finished a Hummer H2 mod using a 1/6 scale Hummer RC.

Hmmm....what could be cooler than a computer modded Batmobile? I began measuring the Tumbler RC model and various computer parts and after many potential configurations, I settled in on a layout that looked like it would work. After Christmas, the Batmobile RC was marked down and I bought a brand new one to rip apart for my mod. I couldn't resist playing with it for a couple of days but it wasn't the coolest RC vehicle ever so it was easy to begin taking it apart. It took about a month and a half working in my spare time to build the Batmobile PC.

This is the computer I started out with. It's an AMD Sempron 2800+ with 40 gig HD, 736 megs of DDR 400 ram, and CD/DVD. I just use this computer for web surfing so the on-board video and Sempron processor are OK for that. This works out better as most video cards won't fit inside the Batmobile body.


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