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By Nate VanLindt On 22 Mar, 2017 At 07:44 PM | Categorized As Books, Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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Chances are you probably grew up reading either the ‘Hardy Boys’ or the ‘Nancy Drew’ novels.  Those old blue and yellow-spined hardcovers on your bookshelf filled with stories of the exploits of Frank and Joe and Nancy and Bess.   Just the mention of Franklin W. Dixon or Carolyn Keene brings back fond recollections for many of us, and they weren’t even real people.  All the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew stories were ghost written by contract writers for years.  The same goes for the ‘Bobbsey Twins’ books by Laura Lee Hope and the ‘Tom Swift’ novels by Victor Appleton Jr.    These books gave literally generations of young readers the basics of deductive reasoning and entertained them all the while.  The first Hardy Boys book was published in 1927 and the first Nancy Drew book in 1930 and they’ve been in continuous print ever since.

With their long-lasting popularity, it’s not surprising to see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys occasionally resurface every decade or so for a facelift and some renewed book sales.  But one thing that most any fan would definitely not be expecting is the new comic series from Dynamite Comics entitled ‘Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie.’  ‘The Big Lie’ is everything that no one would expect from a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys team-up comic.  It’s gritty, violent, and hard-hitting right from the beginning.  The content is grim, the artwork has a rough retro feel, and the story is quite frankly, shocking.  It’s hard not to go into details without ruining the plot, but suffice it to say a fair assemblage of well-loved characters manage to make an appearance in issue one without things feeling crowded. On top of that, there are some surprising cameo appearances that might cause you to wax nostalgic.

Anthony Del Col of Kill Shakespeare fame manages to pull together tendrils of all our communal visions of Bayport from our childhood and weave them into the beginnings of a crime drama more reminiscent of an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street than a children’s mystery.   On top of that, Werther Dell’Edera’s minimalist art, which echoes notes of Darwyn Cooke but with more rough realism, perfectly rounds out the feel of the story.  Frank, Joe, and Nancy live very much in our present in this story and not in the picturesque Bayport that we read in novels as children.  People in this world are imperfect, petty, vicious, and most assuredly real.  It’s a novel approach to characters that have been relegated to childhood memories for far too long.

For those of you that weren’t raised on a steady diet of old clocks and tower treasures, never fear.  ‘The Big Lie’ stands well on its own regardless of your familiarity with the original source content.  It’s well-written, well-drawn and starts off a solid crime drama with a bang.  Issue one is at local comic book stores now, but it’s hard to expect anything but greatness from the forthcoming issues.  This one is a sleeper waiting to become a hit and whether you’re a fan of Frank, Joe, and Nancy or not, ‘The Big Lie’ is an absolute must-read for the indie comic reader.   One caveat however – this comic is definitely not for young readers.  It’s rated Teen+ and well deserves the rating.

Lineup of 6 MCs

No GravatarBronies hate them or love them do have quite a lot of talented individuals among them. Their latest creation? A visual novel based off of fan art.

 original inspiration

Before you completely dismiss the idea as ridiculous I should tell you of another visual novel called Katawa Shoujo. It was a visual novel sparked by a picture based off posts on 4chan. The link I will post tells the story better than I can. But back to the My Little Pony based game.

The resulting game is Starswirl Academy, where the protagonist is able to attend the prestigious institution his senior year because of his friend Twilight Sparkle. Also the protagonist is a rock named Tom in the original TV show. Before I delve into the plot and what I believe the game’s goal will be based on all the information the demo gives so far I’ll look at the work that went into the visual novel.

Lineup of 6 MCs

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Visually, the game’s backgrounds are as beautiful as that of any visual novel that comes out of top notch companies and the background music is nice and simple. The main problem with the game for some might be in the character designs. I like how they don’t make Pinkie’s hair as big and ridiculous as it is in the show, while some might dislike it tremendously. For me it’s Rarity’s hair that looks ridiculous, and I feel if they had drawn it some other way it might have looked much better.

What makes this game truly special is the touches they put here and there. For example the images of the characters always go through appropriate changes in facial expression, the cutie mark icons at the end of finished dialogue for each characters, and the way they zoom in on Pinkie when she’s too close to you.

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The demo of the game also tells a lot not only about the quality of the work but pretty much told me what the entire game will probably be about. One of their questions on their FAQ page is about why they chose Tom to be the main character, this is their response: “Because he’s a named show character that doesn’t have much fan work associated with him. He provides a good blank slate in terms of personality, but comes off as a very solid character when you get to know him. It also makes us laugh every time we get to make a geology pun.” This “blank slate” is a very important part of the game. The beginning of the demo talks about Tom’s dilemma of not really knowing who he is and letting people make choices for him. He’s not really sure why he wants to attend Starswirl Academy but is hoping to find the answer to that there. The game adds in something extra to make sure the game is not only about Tom’s growth as a person but his interaction with the other characters. The school has a long held tradition of having students give each other pins they call “flair” that represent either their personality or hobby. The flair is usually given by the upperclassman who’s gotten to know a person best, and they are usually very personal. I get a feeling the game will be extremely based on having Tom develop a very close relationship (more than likely romantic) with one of the girls who will give him his flair (although he doesn’t know it) and aid him reach self actualization.

In the midst of unavoidable moe.

In the midst of unavoidable moe.

This has a lot of storytelling potential and can make for a very touching story to some. This game was made in hopes to create something special to both fans and non-fans of the series and I think it can deliver on that promise. I will see if my predictions are correct once the full game comes out. In the meantime you too can play the demo.

You’ve made it this far, so have some Derpy.

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Shoot Derpy we’re treading on copyrights here.

This game will be released for free by Zap Apple Project. The game is made possible by the volunteer artists, musicians, and many other talented individuals lending their time and effort towards making a game everyone can enjoy.