-->
Reviews

A Virus Named TOM

Hang on. Let me just play one more level, and I'll be right with you...


A Virus Named TOM

Publisher: Misfits Attic
Rated: Everyone
Players: 1-4
Price: $10.00
Platform: PC
Developer: Misfits Attic
Release date: 2012-08-01
URL

I had a real problem writing this review. Not because it was especially difficult to determine whether or not this game is worth your time and money (It is, so I’ll save you time now, and it’s not even that expensive.), but more because I kept booting the game up to take another look at it and then I’d be pretty much lost for another couple of hours. So there’s a lot to say for the appeal of A Virus Named TOM, if nothing else, in that it basically has me wanting to boot it up right now instead of finishing this sentence.

The game itself is fairly straightforward. A scientist, after being fired by the company that he created a bunch of great inventions for, decides that he will create a virus (named TOM) and gain his revenge on that company by wreaking havoc. The game itself consists of running across grids in order to arrange circuits so that you (TOM, the virus) can take over each circuit in whatever device until you spread yourself through that device and cause it to go haywire, the results of which you get to watch in quick animated cutscenes.

Of course, the company that your creator once worked for isn’t just going to sit back and allow this to happen. Obviously you’re going to have to deal with extra obstacles, and they are going to involve either obscuring which way a circuit is facing or sending antiviruses after you (with a few more tweaks on these obstacles the further you get in). But TOM is hardly defenseless, as you’ll eventually get glitches, which can freeze an antivirus in place and if you’re lucky, cause a collision that will clear the antiviruses -- at least for a little bit.

Probably the most compelling thing about A Virus Named TOM is that it brilliantly combines the need for quick, twitchy gameplay with puzzling in a package that -- while some of the levels are maddeningly difficult -- never gets so difficult that you, for example, throw your controller or break your keyboard in a fit of rage. (I have never done this although I think I came pretty close to breaking a friend’s Genesis controller playing Aladdin once.). Levels are timed, too -- the faster you complete them, the higher your score -- so there’s even more incentive to figure out the puzzles quickly.

I played with a keyboard because I don’t have a controller hooked up to my computer and found that the controls are indeed simple and easy to pick up. If you do happen to have a controller, I cannot suggest enough that you find a friend to come over and play with you. It’s a hell of a lot of fun (and you can even choose to play head-to-head instead of cooperatively, which is a lot of fun in and of itself).

Most importantly, A Virus Named TOM's puzzles hit the sweet spot between rewarding and difficult. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing the solution to a puzzle and being able to move quickly enough to accomplish it is immense, especially when you manage to get a gold medal (because of course there are medals). It’s a game that you can put a few minutes into (the individual levels do not take very long) or that you can sit and burn through until you realize that you should probably have gone to bed about an hour ago. Well worth your time and money.

8

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image