Corn Bread – Savory Southern Style

So I find it a bit annoying to have to scroll through a backstory of the recipe I am looking for before reaching the recipe so let us put that after the actual recipe.  Sound good?

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Vegan, Gluten-free Cornbread

Ingredients:

1 and 1/3 cups Cornmeal

1 cup Buckwheat flour (if gluten is no problem, Whole Wheat or Spelt also worked well for us)

1 Tbsp Oil (grapeseed)

1 Tbsp Baking Powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Flax Meal

½ cup plant-based milk

1 cup water (used as needed)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat a muffin tin with either cooking spray or give it a light oiling.  If using oil it will probably take about one additional tablespoon to get all 12 cups covered properly.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir in the milk and about half of the water.  The mix should be thick and scoopable but not quite pourable.  I’ve experienced life with 6 different ovens and I have come to learn that cooking times and the water/liquid of most recipes requires some adjustments so I suspect this is a universal problem.   Just add water until the consistency matches the description and be confident that cornbread is pretty forgiving.

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Bake for 25 minutes.  As with most baked muffins and breads, you should be able to poke it with a toothpick and it come out clean.  The muffins should be quite firm but not hard.

If you have much experience with cornbread it might be noted that this recipe doesn’t produce the bright light yellow color that was typical of my MeeMaw’s recipe.  The whole grain flours seem to bring it to a light tan to even medium brown, especially when using buckwheat flour.  Don’t fret, their taste is quite authentic.

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Now… Story time!

The Plant Powered Gamers have had mostly smooth sailing on our Whole-Foods Plant-Based journey as resources and recipes are quite abundant when one begins to do a little searching. I was taken aback a year or so ago when Grant requested I make cornbread. Now cornbread is a staple from my childhood, as my grandma (MeeMaw, specifically) regularly prepared this delicious baked delight and I had made it traditional style with buttermilk years earlier. As I scoured the internet for a plant-based recipe I was shocked at how much “sweet stuff” and sugar was being put into the cornbread recipes. What was this abomination that others were referring to as cornbread? It looked more like a recipe for cornmeal cake.. why not add frosting? Cornbread in my little corner of the world is always prepared as a savory bread with only enough sugar added to balance flavor and bake properly. Grant and I have since been experimenting with this recipe in order to rectify the sad lack that must sit firmly in the lives of others, having been misinformed that cornbread was a sweet bread, and introduce them all to the wonders of our Southeastern style savory cornbread. If you have tried sweet cornbread and decided it wasn’t for you, I don’t blame you. It tastes rather “wrong” to me too. Give it one more try with this recipe and don’t forget to enjoy your muffin with a glass of plant-based milk or you may not get the full experience.

One note, if you prefer the traditional bright yellow cornbread you may have to resort to replacing the wheat/spelt/buckwheat flour with white flour. That is not a compromise I would take on a daily use recipe but for a special occasion I might consider as the bread made with the whole grain flours does as previously mentioned come out a bit more brown and has the appearance of basic whole grain muffins (ranging from light to medium brown).

Second note, for an interesting twist, replace the cup of water with vegetable broth to deepen the savory flavor.

Enjoy!

PlantPoweredGamers
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How I Got Mega Man 2

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Mega Man 2 is my favorite Mega Man game right

now, and boy do I have a lot to talk about! This little fan game called Mega Man Maker single-handedly got me into Mega Man. I originally got the game while I was playing a lot of Mario Maker but, I really didn`t like Mega Maker. A few weeks later when I was getting tired of Mario Maker, I picked Mega Maker back up again.

I started to wonder, what are Mega Man games like?

So I watched a couple of videos on Mega Man and played some of the games and I loved it. So, that`s how Mega Maker got me into Mega Man.

One of my favorites was Mega Man 2, and I wanted to play some of the other games. One small problem…

I was playing them on an emulator and if you know, emulators usually are a little buggy. A and B flipped around so you have to press B to shoot and A to jump so that would make me have to keep my hand in an akward position. Mega Man 3 just wouldn`t run properly for some unknown reason. Also, all other games besides Mega Man 1 were in Japanese. So I looked on steam one day and found something magical: Mega Man Legacy Collection. It was a compilation of Mega Man 1-6 and played super smoothly. So, if you like old retro games then give Mega Man Legacy Collection a try.

Grit and Persistence – An awesome lesson one can learn from games

I received a text from my son Grant while I was at work today.  He was incredibly excited and wanted to let me know that he had finally defeated the “Yellow Devil” from Mega Man for the NES.  If one is not familiar with that game or the lore of older NES classics in general that could be easily passed over as a “that’s nice..” moment, but the amount of effort and practice and persistence it took for him to topple that monstrosity was enormous.  That doesn’t come naturally, grit and persistence is a learned skill and you better believe you can grow and improve that skill just like any other.  The cool “thing” about persistence is that it can help in learning and mastering other skills.

So let me take a moment to brag on my boy here.  I’ve been gaming since I first saw an Atari around age 6.  It was my aunt’s old, somewhat worn-out console which she had mostly lost interest in roughly a decade earlier.  I was avidly playing during Nintendo’s empirical run through the NES and SNES days and have never been able to topple that insanely tough Yellow Devil from Mega Man.  He was my roadblock that kept me from ever finishing that game, though I really did still enjoy the game.  It became very frustrating to make it to him each time and proceed to blow every life and continue on him before having to restart.  Additionally I’ve never known anyone else personally who could tackle that tower of terror.  I think that’s a 90’s wrestling reference.. In any case, kudos to Grant for his achievement.

It is pretty easy for one to disregard the achievements of others, especially if it is not in an area or field that isn’t personally viewed as valuable or interesting.  To a non-gamer that feat probably seems pretty pointless.  It is interesting when one starts to view all of life as a learning experience, seeing what is the value and takeaway.  Pretty much everything we actively do or experience has some potential for progress, learning and life.  I cannot help but feel like the level of grit and dedication it takes for us gamers to overcome the sometimes ridiculous hurdles that game developers set before us will at least have the potential to aid us in our journey whatever we pursue.

Now let’s talk some Mega Man!

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Oh little Stage Select screen, you’ve inspired many developers over the years and have certainly come a long way…  Grant likes to take on Bombman first as he is, well… a pushover.  Don’t tell him though.. he is a bit sensitive and can pretty much spawn infinite explosives so, bad combination.

This little NES gem is one of the classics.  I found Mega Man immediately captivating as soon as the first boss robot was defeated and Mega Man equipped the fallen bot’s powers!  How awesome is that?  You actually get to use the bosses’ weapons against the other bosses!  In this lies one of the other cool aspects of this game.  Each boss is weak against one of the other bosses weapons.  What fun it is to puzzle through the game, attempting it in different orders to try and decipher which boss weapon will aid the most against other trickier bosses.  That’s right, non-linear gaming.  The player actually gets to choose the order to tackle the initial bosses.  In this first iteration of the series (which spawned MANY more) the bosses are a bit vanilla.  Bomb Man, Cut Man, Elec Man, Ice Man.. you get the idea.  It has also become the hallmark of the series to have at least 8 “Evil Robot Masters” and the original had only 6, but oh what a start it was.

met

Here we see the humble met, a long enduring enemy in the Mega Man series.  It hides in its helmet til do-gooder robots get close before spraying bullets in their direction.  These days Dr. Wily has promoted the Met race and allows them to drive heavy equipment and ride vehicles.  Progress!

The story goes that Dr. Light had created all of the robots to aid humanity, but the evil Dr. Wily stole the 6 boss robots and reprogrammed them to instead use their abilities as weapons.  Critique on humanity in general?  Perhaps.  We do have a tendency to weaponize practically everything that has ever been invented.  Maybe we will grow out of that habit eventually.  In any case, Mega Man is the only robot left with Dr. Light’s original programming to help, save and serve humanity and sets out to stop Dr. Wily’s evil plans for world domination.  Pretty short and sweet, just like the game if you can manage to get past a few tricky areas and opponents.  I personally always struggled with the slippery platforms in Ice Man’s stage and confronting Elec Man was always quite a challenge.  His attack hits a huge area and, while it is also awesome when the player gets it, it can be pretty daunting to take it away from Elec Man as he is pretty content to fry Mega Man and just keep his awesome electricity beam.

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The elec-beam is awesome and probably the best weapon in the game in the opinion of the Plant Powered Gamers.  It sprays a large portion of the screen with shocky robot-busting destruction.  

As I mentioned the Yellow Devil was always especially tricky to me, even as an adult.  He is a weird combination of dodging mixed with a really small hit box topped off with a slathering of short window for actually damaging him.  No P-shooter spam here, it has to be very precise attacks that hit that beast.  His attacks, on the other hand, pretty much go everywhere so it is a real challenge to keep up with his very damaging attacks while trying to hit that tiny window of opportunity he presents all so briefly.  The game is really pretty smooth sailing after him, and Grant said it was practically a done deal after felling the big Yella’ beast.

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The jerk not only closes his “eye” which is his only vulnerable point, he also disassembles himself and flies back and forth across the room, much to the detriment of poor Mega man who is caught in the middle and has to dodge this nonsense.  Apparently Dr. Wily watched Star Wars before designing this guy and removed his ventilation shaft.  Good call, doc.

yuka

Those evil blocks may look innocent but don’t be fooled.  They are known as “Yuka” blocks and they appear and disappear in sequence.  The sound they make as they do their little magic act still gives me chills.  The still image just doesn’t do justice to their evil trickery.  

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Be ready for such logical usage of the various powers as freezing fire.  Hey, we are gamers after all.  We will be happy to create our own “version” of logic!

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Ah Gutsman, the first heavyweight boss to pull the ol’ Jump, stomp and make the ground shake maneuver.  Not sure if he was the first in gaming history but good luck finding a better known game in which it happens.  

While still pictures really cannot do a game justice, perhaps they give a taste of what this old but still very fun game holds in store.  It is essentially the same game in all of its iterations (1-10) as well as a few spin-offs on other consoles.  Give it a try if the chance presents itself, likely the feuding doctors and their zany creations won’t disappoint.

Images courtesy of Grant, our local Mega Man pro who can be found on YouTube (LinkPlaysGames)  and Twitch (LinkPlaysGames206).

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Progress Report – Backyard Remodel

Far be it from me to claim any particular natural skill in handyman-type projects.  I can, however, manage searching the internet for information and I also enjoy learning new things.  This coupled with a bit of a paradigm shift in my view of and approach to working in and around the house has really helped me begin learning to do a lot of these sorts of things and I couldn’t help but share my progress on the back deck.  We have a nice space out back but it was not well maintained when we moved in but a year ago.  I’ve been slowly doing what I could with it but have moved on to a more organized, task-oriented approach.  I don’t really multitask well and handle the process of finishing a project much more efficiently if I see each part of the whole to completion.  Thus after getting rid of all of the ivy that had managed to mix itself with poison ivy which was arduous and quite an itchy task, I set out to try to salvage the back deck.  After a bit of research I realized every time I have ever used water-sealant in the past was not applied correctly.  I have to attribute the credit to finally teaching me the proper process where it is due.  I do not know this fellow personally, but he had a great and informative video and the results hold true, though I think his estimation of finishing the project in a day might have been pretty generous.  He was incredibly thorough, which was fantastic for me at my level of inexperience.  One issue I find with many very knowledgeable people is that when they teach something that they are so familiar with, they leave out some things that they find obvious and simple but to the student it can seem to leave gaps in the instructions.  Not so with Mr. Hazelton’s video, it was just right, even explaining the tools used.  I wouldn’t have even know that such a thing as a “deck pad” existed had that not been pointed out and likely would have tried to roll or paint it on instead.

Ron Hazelton – How to Clean, Renew and Seal a Wood Deck in One Day

Perhaps my lack of experience is at least in part to blame for the longer work time, but I am quite happy with how it turned out.  In the past I’ve made attempts to simply “wing it” and clean up and water-seal porches and decks but had no clue there was such a thing as wood cleaner/brightener, having always used Bleach to little effect.  That cleaner/brightener was magical.  Coupled with a peaceful day of playing with our new pressure washer it already looked pretty good out there.  Now with new paint to cover and protect as well as to provide contrast for the flowers and plants we intend to set out I have some hope of creating a really nice space for us to hang out on cool mornings and afternoons.  It’ll probably be great for picnicking out back in the fall too!

A life-long love of learning is something I truly hope to impart upon Grant as he grows.  Hopefully things like this provide that example that one is never too old to seek advice on even what seems to be the most mundane project or idea.  It is amazing in the world we live in today to be able to seek out the advice of experts with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks and the cost of this information is amazingly free (unless you consider having to watch an add or two as payment).  Removing the fear and worry of failure is also very important to me and I hope as Grant and I approach this whole homeschooling thing we can recapture that understanding that one of the best ways to learn is to get out there and “mess something up”.  We learn best by doing, after all, and the doing is rarely flawless, so we might as well embrace and enjoy that process.

Now how about some before & after photos?  I cannot help but be eager to show off the final product.

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Here are my before photos, before we even began the cleaning process.  Yuck!

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Here are the after photos, after cleaning and staining.  I do believe Suzy snuck a kitty photo in there… not sure if it’s relevant.  Such a diva, that Niko.

Do you have any projects that you’ve been putting off out of either a fear of failure or lack of knowledge?  Cast that fear aside!  Seek out that knowledge!  Get out there and mess something up!  You’re bound to learn so much more than if you continue procrastinating.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Prime Day Approaches

Hello and forgive me for a brief tangent from my usual content.  I don’t intend to turn our little blog into a glorified advertising platform, though I will on occasion plug a product, service, webpage, youTube channel, etc. that the Plant Powered Gamers find awesome.  One of these magical “services” is the online shopping platform, Amazon.  You may have heard of them… In any case, we love our time at home and tend toward avoiding unnecessary trips to town and that makes shopping with Amazon a pretty straightforward slam dunk.  We tried out Prime a few years ago and have never really considered dropping it since.  They bundle so much value in to that membership fee that it would be silly for us to drop it.

Free Movies?  Got it.  Cheap movie/tv rentals?  Got that too.  Weird, hard-to-find baking ingredients?  I’m looking at you, Teff Flour.  They have that as well.  More rare and used video games than the local flea market?  Yep, though you’ll have to do without that special, authentic flea market smell of roasting pork rinds and fried butter sticks.  Fast, free shipping on virtually every order that is labelled as “Prime” (which is most of the time in our experience)?  You betcha.  If you happen to shop at Whole Foods they offer an in-store discount to boot.  Sweet.  Cheap rice, beans and greens all around!

So their deal during the first half of July (2-17) is that you can get a free 30-day Trial of Prime, just check out the link below.  Plus a bit of commission change goes to the Plant Powered Gamers as a bonus!  It’s like getting a 1-up Mushroom you get to share with Player-2.

Prime Day – Prime Membership

So here we are, several years into being Prime members and I am still finding bonus stuff they are offering to throw our way.  Today as we were streaming on Twitch – basically youTube for gaming videos – Grant and I noticed someone had a Twitch Prime membership.  Curious as to what this was we checked into it and found it was a free bonus included in our Prime membership anyway.  They offer free games every day, far more than any normal mortal could play through.  I simply linked my Twitch account to the Prime one and I totally get to download and keep them.  The games are tied into your Twitch account, but there is no need to actually use Twitch to watch streaming if that is not your thing.  It basically seems to be set up like Steam but with less emphasis on selling games and more emphasis on you watching people play them.  We actually use it mostly to meet up with other gamers to play multiplayer games at the moment (Ultimate Chicken Horse, anyone?) What’s more, Grant totally gets a free entry in this as well and can download the same games they offer me.  Even if you value these as “cast off” or “mobile-equivalent” $1 games, which many are not, if you take them up on their offer that would be a pretty sick value for the cost of the membership that is already giving you free movies and fast shipping.  Yikes!  You can check the next link to see what is up with this whole Twitch Prime thing:

Prime Day – Twitch Prime

Now they are offering a load of other goodies that we are not familiar with, and one might want to look into those as well.  As we here at Plant Powered Gamers have no experience with the other services offered I don’t really feel right promoting them, but don’t let our inexperience deter you if they catch your interest.  Prime Student, Pantry and Free Time all sound like they could be quite awesome, we just haven’t had the need nor opportunity as of yet to try them out.

One last note on that free trial above.  It lasts a month and they are hosting “Prime Day” on the 17th, officially.  It will be a day chock-full of silly online deals for many things you likely don’t need but may want anyway.  If you are capable of utilizing a bit of self control I encourage you to give that free trial a go and land the 16th of July right in its midst to see what it is all about.

Again, thanks for indulging my moment of deal promotion and another thanks if you actually check into these through our links to Amazon.  I wouldn’t bother to promote the service if it was anything less than spectacular.  It really is something we use pretty much every week to save time and as mentioned, bonus entertainment is the icing on that digital cake.

The Plant Powered Gamers are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Mid-summer Musings

July has already made its way to us, or perhaps we to it.  Mid-summer in the southeast really encourages one to take an occasional lazy day, or at least midday, in order to avoid the ridiculous heat and humidity.  This coupled with lots of time doing rather brain-free tasks in the yard of late has left us with plenty of time to ponder plans for the coming year.

Grant is fully in summer mode, loving the freedom and questioning why that sort of freedom ever has to end.  I realized that there was honestly no good answer to that question.  This left us once again returning to the discussion on trying homeschooling.  I have wanted to homeschool Grant since he was born.  I admit it may be more appealing in my imagination than the reality, but I love trying new things, new approaches and time with him is never a waste in any case so it’s hard to imagine how this couldn’t be a fun and exciting experience.  Grant is a straight-A student, having made it now though to the 6th grade and has never made less than 90% marks on his grade reports, so I know that it isn’t the case that he is just being lazy.  When a solid and productive student like that can be so incredibly dissatisfied with what they are doing and the things they are learning it just sets warning bells off for me.

Thankfully there are more resources on homeschooling than I could use in a lifetime, so I am in no fear of running out of methods, plans and ideas.  Currently we are leaning towards the “unschooling” or “Sudbury” methods.  I believe he has some pretty solid interests in science and technology and that will lead us into the other necessary subjects as they become needed.  He also quite the fan of fantasy literature and we have a great library to facilitate which is just a few miles down the road.  I am hoping to encourage him to do both some creative writing as well as outlines and scripting for his YouTube channel.  It is actually pretty exciting thinking up all of the ways we may be able to follow his interests and focus education to be very personalized.

Now this was not the intended focus of my writing when I began this, but then my focus shifts like the wind in regards to what I feel up to sharing.  I’ll be sure to share anything that we run across that seems amazing enough to be duplicated and of course I may mention our progress in passing or perhaps regularly, according to how interesting it seems.

In any case I have to give a link (that is like a digital shout-out) to the two pages that are acting like hub-worlds for my research and planning:

Bright Horizons Academy

This is the cover school that we chose to use.  They cover anywhere in Alabama and allow complete curriculum flexibility.  They also provide a massive list of links for great homeschooling information and inexpensive/free material.  This was the list that actually led me toward the unschooling information which I really was not even aware of until about a month ago.

Stories of an Unschooling Family

This page is actually a blog written primarily by a mother of several homeschooled children.  They have been unschooling for several years and it was great to see how that process unfolded for them as it gives me some insight as to what to expect.  As a bonus she does vlogs and a podcast and being Australian, she has a pretty awesome accent.

If any of you, my dear readers, know of any other great resources be sure to leave me a comment and let me know.  Wish us luck!

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.

Are You the Ultimate Chicken? Horse Maybe?

Following is a collection of musings by the Plant Powered Gamers on the delightful pass-time of deadly parkour with friends.. digitally of course.  Sharp and pointy things hurt us real folks after all, let’s leave the rough stuff to the happy digital animals of Ultimate Chicken Horse!

Some of the greatest things in life come from “mash-ups” – peanut butter & jelly, Tom & Jerry, ice cream and waffles, the duck-billed platypus… well that’s reaching. Finally, it all culminates in the ultimate platforming player-constructed sandbox death-trap race featuring cute and nimble little animals that are also great dancers.. Ultimate Chicken Horse!

Title

Party games beware, there is a new king in town. I can barely imagine how fun it would be to bring this game up to 5-8 player capability, but at up to 4-player-generated mayhem it is a riot. The game is available on Steam and PS4 and has online multiplayer as an option. Our experience is soley with the PC version as we are not currently equipped with a PS4. While it offers various modes, the Party mode is my favorite by far. The players can select one of 12 base stages to begin altering as they see fit with their choice of helpful or hurtful place-able objects that are offered at the beginning of each round from the “party box”.

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The “Party Box” holds all manor of fun ways to confound and kill your friends.. and sometimes yourself!

A bit of strategy must be used to make the level difficult enough to keep the other players from making it past one’s traps while still being manageable by the player who placed it.. though getting caught in one’s own traps is a pretty common occurrence. There are bonus points to be had for catching your “friends” in traps you placed as well as a variety of other feats. Points accumulate through each round until someone crosses the “finish line” in point totals or a set number of rounds have passed, which keeps games from dragging on too long.

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So many cute animals to play as.  So many levels to choose from.  So many deadly traps awaiting in each one.  Let’s go add more, shall we?

Players may take their pick of one of the many cute animal characters and can even dress them up in cute costumes which are unlocked by collecting “?”-Boxes scattered in stages. The animals have some pretty adorable and funny sound effects and “dances” as well. The controls are a little “slippery” but I suspect this is intentional in this sort of game as it only adds to the amusement to be had when stumbling off a ledge or into a booby-trap. I am already a rather mediocre at platform games, so Grant and I have had a lot of good laughs at my mishaps. We have even made several new friends online while playing, which is a great bonus.

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The levels can get pretty deadly as the match draws close to its end.  It leads to some insanely funny, mostly-luck-based platforming stunts.  Bonus: you can pretend that you planned it all out just perfectly and you really are that amazing.. at least until the next round when you miss the first jump or give a hug to a buzz saw near the starting point.

Grant is a pretty proficient with platforming games and as such usually comes out ahead. This game will certainly sharpen one’s skills quickly, though, and I have had a fair share of wins to put under my belt.. what an odd phrase that is. I can only imagine one would need a large wrestling-style title belt in order to place things under it. I digress.. In any case, there are several recordings in the archives at Link Plays Games’ YouTube Channel, so check it out if you like! If it seems entertaining then I would strongly encourage giving it a try. Being a rather inexpensive game to begin with, getting value from it should be quite effortless and it is a perfect fit for those odd times when we catch ourselves with 15 random minutes to fill while waiting on something.

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Seems like the perfect place to dance a ‘jig.  Good call, Chameleon!

paperAirplane

Ah see the racoon in his natural habitat.. flying majestically upon the top of a paper airplane, sailing to his goal at the end of the pointy-stick-filled-jungle-temple with cursed coin in tow.  Quiet now, let’s not startle him..

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Now don’t forget to collect and wear the proper attire before heading out into the deadly levels.  Just stop in at the friendly clubhouse and see what can be found in the costume trunk!

Light and fun, give Ultimate Chicken Horse a look and see what fun a bunch of animal buddies can have when equipped with buzz-saws, crossbows and a few gallons of honey….

If you are interested in seeing a bit of gameplay footage, head on over to Grant’s YouTube Channel:  Link Plays Games

PlantPoweredGamers
Grow Strong. Game On.