Thursday, May 26, 2022

Crowdfund Madness!

Find it Here!

This post is a bit off the cuff, but I wanted to strike while the iron was hot on two crowdfunding campaigns that are currently killing it.

The first is the above Overmind by Jon Del Arroz, which is both a comic book as well as a novel! A Futuristic Adventure story in the spirit of Valerian, clearly this is a passion project for the writer who has already written a string of highly successful novels and comics. He has also included all kinds of add-ons and perks for those who desire it.

Here is the description:


Ayla Rin, Agent of Terra Prime has uncovered a plot against the Imperium!

On a faraway colony planet, the governor is linking his populace into an ethernet where they are being mind-controlled by a rogue artificial intelligence that seeks galactic domination!

Only Alya Rin can stop this nefarious plot and save humanity as we know it.

Fans of Valerian, The Incal, and Saga will love OVERMIND!

OVERMIND is a 66-Page graphic novel in the tradition of the great science fiction European comics, made for a modern era with the best art and storytelling in comics!

It is accompanied by a full-length sequel novel starring Special Agent Ayla Rin by #1 Bestselling Sci-Fi author, Jon Del Arroz.

We have a number of great rewards and add-ons with amazing collectibles and tons of books for your reading pleasure.

You can find Overmind here. Follow the link to see more of the gorgeous art.

But that is not all, at the same time, author Brian Niemeier has also started a campaign for his final Combat Frame XSeed novel: Combat Frame Ƶ XSeed!

It's been a long road of space opera madness, a mash-up of 1980s-era mecha anime influence and the typical weird bent he gives to his works, but now it's finally reached the end. This is book six in the saga: Combat Frame Ƶ XSeed!

The Hit Mech Saga’s World-Rending Conclusion

Betrayed by their makers …

… their sole hope is vengeance.

Humanity reels from the disastrous Battle of Earth. Blamed for the crushing defeat, the Guardian Angels are branded as traitors.

Jehu, Dex, and Kaiser must make a daring escape to save their families from a resurgent terror.

To clear their names, they must lead the rebel ExSols they once fought.

But against the combined might of the UCP and the Ynzu, do even Angels have a prayer of victory?

If you like Halo and Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’ll love Combat Frame Z Strike XSeed!

Not only that, but the stretch goals promise even more!

The XSeed saga is ending, but the fun's just starting! It's my pleasure to announce our first exciting stretch goal:

Readers loved the original Combat Frame Tech Manual. Having an illustrated guide to all the original series CFs made the pulse-pounding combat even more immersive.

All that was missing were stats on the incredible S-Series combat frames ...

Until now! Fans of the Mance, Imhullu, Einherjar, and other advanced war machines now have the chance to back a full-color guide to their favorite S-Series CFs.

Announcing our first stretch goal: Illustrated CF Tech Guide 2! Available when we reach $4000

Needless to say, it has almost reached the goal! Back it today to ensure it makes it!

Once more, you can find Combat Frame Ƶ XSeed here!

It might seem a bit soon for another signal boost post, but I did not expect these two to not only go up but blow up as fast as they have. It's going to be a hot summer! Get ready.

Until next time!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

NewPub Signal Boost Central: May Edition!

Find it Here!

Sorry, I've been quite deep into editing recently, so I haven't quite had the posting schedule I wish I did. Nonetheless, here are some books to look into for this heated month, starting with a book of my own from a couple years back. I still quite enjoy this one, and you will too if you've never gotten around to it yet. This is Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures!

The description:


Vigilantes fight from the shadows. In Summerside, Dark Magic poisons the dying city of cultists and gangsters. This is where heroes are made.

A man with a deadly touch, an ex-hitman, a concrete teenager, an invisible myth, and an indestructible knight, are but a few of those who stalk the midnight hour.

In these seven stories you will meet those fighting for the soul of the city, and those hoping to bring it to a brighter future. But is there anything left worth saving in a world of death?

Powers or Magic. Only one will win this war.

You can find it here!

As you can tell, this month I won't just be talking about new releases, but ones you might have missed. Also, we can try for some more obscure demographics.

For instance, here as a middle grade book you might have otherwise not seen come across your social media feed. This is Stay by Catherine Lawrence:

Find it Here!

This is the second printing by Shadowpaw Press:

Millie is eleven going on twelve when her life is upended by her parents’ decision to separate. Her mother gets a new boyfriend, and her father moves into a new place: an apartment with a big sign on the door that says NO DOGS ALLOWED. Since there’s nothing Millie wants more than a dog of her own, that seems like the biggest blow of all.

Hoping to get her parents back together—not just for her sake, but for the sake of her future dog—Millie is elated when her father moves back in after a short while. She can’t understand why her parents aren’t happy at the reconciliation until she learns the truth: her father is back because he has been diagnosed with cancer.

Told in verse by acclaimed Canadian poet Katherine Lawrence, Stay is a moving, touching, and yet often humorous portrait of a family in a time of crisis, whose pain is filtered through the thoughts and actions of an eleven-year-old girl. Stay captures the essence of what it means to grow up, confront your fears, support your family, and share in the wild optimism that only youth can harbour.

You can find Stay here.

Up next it is the final work from author Gibson Michaels before his untimely death. This would be the Mythic adventure of Eerie!

Find it Here!

In first century Ireland, the Celts and the Fae fend off an invasion of Roman legionnaires. In the Thirty-third century, a mining colony fights for survival as the world around it shakes and shatters. An ancient species seeks to end its long exile and return home. Three disparate worlds, separated by millions of light years and over three millennia of time, are now on a collision course. Their ultimate fates will be decided on a cold, barren world that is suddenly springing to life… Éerie.

Once again, you can find Eerie here.

How about some space opera next?

Find it Here!

We've covered this before, but in case you missed it, here is Richard Paolinelli's Galen's Blade. This takes place in the StarQuest universe!

This is what it's about:

The journey of Galen Dwyn continues in the second book of the Starquest 4th Age series.

While Dwyn lies in stasis, recovering from his injuries in his stand against Harmool's fleet, Rhea has assumed the title of Regent of Salacia while leading the search for her missing father, King Iodocus. She is also helping repair the damage done to the Alliance in her Uncle's and Mother's mad quest to launch a new Empire. A shocking assassination attempt is thwarted at the last second by Dwyn, who seems to be a changed man now that he has exited stasis to save his love.

The King's location is ascertained and a rescue mission mounted to retrieve him from the Wilds, a lawless area of space. An ambush splits their forces and Dwyn leads the ambushers away so that Rhea and her father can escape. Before Dwyn can find a way back to Alliance territory, an old enemy returns from the grave, and hold Rhea and the King hostage, while triggering a massive insurrection that overthrows the Alliance and installs a new Emperor.

Dwyn must now mount a second rescue while finding a way to rally a rebellion against this threat to peace in the Hominids' corner of the Andromeda Galaxy.

You can find Galen's Blade here.

Last but not least, let us take a look at Blood Mark, a horror book!

Find it Here!

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.

You can find Blood Mark here.

Once again, I apologize for the radio silence, as I have been editing quite a lot recently and hope to have something to show you by next month. For now, however, we will have to take it slow. There is just not much to be done about it. I mentioned this year was going to be slower on the blog for a reason.

Of course, I've written quite a bit already if you've missed it, so do be sure to check out either the archives here, or my page on amazon to see what you've missed. There is quite a lot there already.

Hope the summer is treating you well, and I will see you next time!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Heated Weekend

Hope you're having a good weekend! It's rather hot where I am.

The above is a video from VTuber Pippa Pipkin where she recites the classic Lovecraft story The Color Out of Space. Should you want something relaxing to listen or watch to in your spare time, it is a good use of it. She can be a bit hyper and edgy, for those concerned about such things, but she definitely knows how to get the tone of the story just right. Definitely recommend this read along, especially if you haven't read this one yet.

In other news, I've been in heavy editing one of the projects I recently mentioned. At the rate I'm going I hope to have it out by June. I can't say more than that until it's near completion, but much progress is being made to get it the best it can be. I definitely think you'll dig this one. It's going to be a good time when it's done.

Until then, the weather is getting hotter and hotter so hopefully you're in a nice cool place, enjoying the early summer heat. The year is almost half over, so savor what you've got!

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Jackal: One of the Best Video Games Ever Made

Back in the day, video games were centered on just about anything. Simply look at the concepts of things like Q-Bert, Bubble Bobble, and Super Mario Bros., to see just how wild things could get. The way designers came up with so many different ways and systems to earn score and top the scoreboards was something else, much more than today.

On the other hand, sometimes they got ideas from more likely places to create things a bit more "realistic" and grounded. One of the more influential games of this type was Capcom's 1985 arcade classic Commando, perhaps one of the most influential of its era. This was a top down run and gun game where you play as the titular Commando as he mows down enemy waves attempting to kill him on his mission and rescue POWs along the way.

Needless to say, the simple yet addicting gameplay would lead the charge for other run and gun games to come, such as Rush 'N Attack (Green Beret), Ikari Warriors, and even the almighty Contra. The video game adaptions of such movie franchises as Rambo even took from Commando. This game's influence couldn't be ignored.

The late 1980s were really the period the Golden Age of gaming started, and titles like this were why. The arcades were the hottest places for new ideas, and their console ports at the time tended to add on to them in unique ways.

Of course, the NES was probably the system most well known for having arcade ports, but it was the one most known for having them be unique and sometimes better than the source material, graphics aside. Games like Contra, Gun.Smoke, and Double Dragon II, were far superior to the arcade editions despite simpler art styles by adding on and sharpening what made the original games work so very well. When it came to a home port, you were gambling, but sometimes it was worth it.

All that said, let us get into 1986's Jackal, also known as Top Gunner in the arcades in North America because Top Gun was a popular movie in the west. It was later released in 1988 on the NES, which is definitely its most well known version today.

Seeing the success of Commando, Konami thought how they could top it themselves. So, taking that top down formula, they instead used vehicles and gave the player a bit more movement. In doing this, they created Tokushu Butai Jackal (Special Forces Jackal) for the arcade. It was originally going to have one of those rotary joysticks to allow aim and shoot (similar to how dual stick aim works now for top down games) but wisely decided against it, instead having the player work around enemy approach instead of making everything into a bullet sponge.

The arcade version of Jackal (which is what every later edition would simply be called) was a very fun experience. Challenging, but the level design and enemy placement required the player thinking about their approach, and the unique control set up made them adopt strategy to succeed. Then there was the soundtrack, driving and high energy to simulate entering enemy territory to rescue your men. It's almost like they made the climax of The Delta Force into a game.

What makes the controls work as that there are only two buttons. One fires a fast but weak machine gun, and the other fires a slower abut strong grenade launcher. In every other version aside from the Japanese arcade original, the machine gun only fires northward meaning that lining your shots around enemy fire requires a bit more strategy, though otherwise the versions are the same. With just these two attacks, and the upgrades that can give you missile launchers, Jackal pretty much stays the same through its half-hour length.

At this point, we might as well discuss the difference between the arcade and the NES version, since the latter is basically what the game is more known for today, if it is thought of at all. 

Mainly, the field of view is bigger due to it no longer being limited to a vertical screen. Jackal has a lot of horizontal movement, after all. Also, instead of being one long continuous stage it is divided more traditionally into six stages, though the map at the end of each stage remains the same regardless. It's more of a presentation choice. Your jeep can also carry the full amount of POWs in each level which makes a bit more sense in a game about score and upgrades--you should be able to get the max amount if you play well.

Otherwise, aside from a slight expected graphics dip, the versions are not that much different. The soundtrack is also more typical of Konami's 8-bit output, meaning it was better than most of their arcade OST (sound-wise) at the time. You definitely did not feel like the NES version was a downgrade when you played this one.

What makes Jackal so good is that everything comes together perfectly. It's not a game you think about much when you aren't playing it, until you pick it up again. It's at that moment that everything comes together and you question how you had forgotten it was this good.

As an example, back in the day we didn't tend to buy a lot of games. My friends didn't and neither did my family, especially with rental shops around. For some reason, the one game, aside from the endless versions of Super Mario Bros. everyone had, everyone appeared to own was Jackal. I couldn't quite tell you why, but it was everywhere. It was a great co-op experience with friends, the controls were perfect, the music absorbing, and the incredible variety with such a simple concept such as dealing with on foot enemies, stationary cannons, bombers, and other vehicles, always made it a joy to experience. It was also the perfect length for an arcade shooter at six levels and being almost exactly half an hour in length. And, just like Contra or Sunset Riders, its difficulty is perfectly balanced, never feeling quarter-munching hard, but perfectly fair.

The one thing I couldn't tell you was why it never had a sequel, despite its popularity. It was never quite on the level of fame as the big boys or the licensed games that Konami put out, but it was certainly no bomb and had an enduring success on the NES. One might imagine what a Super Jackal might have been on the SNES, or maybe a MERCs style sequel published by Sega for the Genesis, But one was never made.

Instead it was filed away in the attic with the rest of the NES collection when kids moved on to the new 16-bit systems. Jackal was more or less forgotten by that point.

Regardless, today if one mentioned Jackal to anyone who has ever played an NES before you would certainly get words of praise following it. This is a classic and a game I wish would have more influence now, especially in the top-down action game subgenre. In other words, no dual analog for aiming and thereby turning the game into a bullet sponge fest to pump up the difficulty, but a well balanced game requiring strategy and different approaches to the many situations that the player is faced with. 

Many top down games say they are influenced by Jackal, but almost none really are in this aspect. It's one of the reasons it has never been topped in its genre, even though it could be. These old games still have plenty of life left in them!

All that said, the NES is unmistakable one of the best systems video games has ever, and will ever, produce. Nostalgia aside, it was home to many high quality experiences never again replicated either in the arcade or the home market. Jackal is one of these examples, which is what helps make it one of the best games ever made.

In these days, as AAA gaming falls further and further into the abyss and more and more people begin moving to indie and retro gaming, the NES will once again come out of storage, as will that infamous box or cartridge art of those soldiers going wild in the jeep with the gun blasting away. They will put the game in and within minutes realize just what they were missing.

I don't know what the industry's future holds, but I do know that it won't be in what they are pushing today. It will be in the simpler and more pure arcade experiences that built the industry from the ground up to begin with.

It will be with short lengths and infinite replay value, co-op games with loved ones, and pure arcade experiences based on skill, strategy, and score. The future in gaming is going to be when it reconnects with the past to make new experiences again. When it does, games like Jackal will be the blueprint they need to remember the magic they so desperately need. Simple, yet complex. Easy to get into, but hard to master. The classics had it all.

And that is what makes Jackal one of the best games ever made.