Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten in 2010

I have that Bad Religion song pop into my head whenever I ponder next year. Too much time playing Crazy Taxi, obviously.

(Side note: there is no such thing as "too much time playing Crazy Taxi")

So I thought it would be a neat fit if I made a list of Ten things I am looking forward to in 2010. Do you see? Do you? Do you?

In no order beyond alphabetical!


1. Scott Pilgrim vol. 6 by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Why should it rock? Because it is the last in the Scott Pilgrim series and the Scott Pilgrim series is one of the best things anyone has done ever.
Why might it suck? If the art gets any stubbier the characters may actually disappear. Also if there isn't a Mega Man-style boss rush where all the evil exes appear again I might cry.


2. Alice in Wonderland
Why should it rock? Because it is Tim Burton directing an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. With Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar.
Why might it suck? Because there's a billion versions of it already. Also, it's a sort of "sequel" with a teenage Alice, which could potentially be quite interesting and also potentially be bloody awful. Plus American McGee did that already.

3. Ponyo
Why should it rock? Because it is Hayao Miyazaki's new film. Well, new-ish. I think the UK is about the only part of the world where it hasn't been released yet.
Why might it suck? It may not actually be good enough to cure cancer. I wouldn't bet on it, mind.

3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Why should it rock? Because it is Edgar Wright directing all six books in one glorious go. His copious on-set photos have already proved that if nothing else it'll prove magnificent detail-spotting fun.
Why might it suck? Six books in two hours? Also, it may actually come out before the sixth book, which would cause all sorts of quandaries (although I seem to recall reading that the film has a different ending to the book).

4. Toy Story 3
Why should it rock? Because it is Toy Story 3. It's like Toy Story 2, plus one.
Why might it suck? The guys voicing Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog have both died since the last one (although you can't really tell from the trailer).

Video games

5. Bayonetta
Why should it rock? It looks very much being like the maddest game ever made. Considering it's the spiritual sequel to God Hand, this is saying something. (Quick rundown - you play a witch who wears a suit made out of her own hair and shoot angels with the guns you've got strapped to your boots.)
Why might it suck? It might not actually be fun to play. Although word from Japan seems to suggest the exact opposite.

6. Bioshock 2
Why should it rock?
The first Bioshock is one of the best games I've ever played. The additions for the new game sound intriguing, but the main draw for me is simply getting to explore more of the underwater art deco dystopia of Rapture.
Why might it suck? It's being made by a different development team, and it's arguable that the first game didn't really need a sequel. Also, the Big Sister fights sound as though they may leave me a gibbering wreck on the floor.

7. Crackdown 2
Why should it rock? Crackdown plus one. All the new features announced thus far sound, to borrow the vernacular, sweet as.
Why might it suck? Again, it's being made by a different team. However, several of the original programmers have defected to this team, so the point may be moot.

8. Dead Rising 2
Why should it rock? It sounds like all the good bits of Dead Rising, minus the big helpings of rubbish idiocy that stopped it from actually being enjoyable.
Why might it suck? They may have kept the rubbish bits in and just not told us.

9. Ni-no-Kuni: The Another World
Why should it rock? It's an RPG from Level-5, the current can-do-no-wrong darlings of the gaming world. (Professor Layton and the recent Dragon Quests be theirs.) And they've teamed up with Studio Ghibli, who are doing the cutscenes and the general art design. I shall repeat that: Level-5 and Studio Ghibli have teamed up to make an RPG. Oh, and Joe Hisaishi's doing the music.
Why might it suck? I didn't really get on with Level-5's Rogue Galaxy. That's the best I can come up with on the downside. This game will fucking rock.

10. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
Why should it rock? I've got a soft spot for big crossover fighters. Despite the fact I've never heard of nearly all of Tatsunoko's output (they're a Japanese animation company, if you're wondering), the chance to pit Ryu against Viewtiful Joe is good enough for me.
Why might it suck? I don't think it will. I'm not looking for the sort of head-spinning brilliance I'm hoping the other things on this list will provide, merely silly, enjoyable entertainment. Which I suspect this will deliver on.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dearie me

Those wacky Japanese-porn-comment-people are still at it. That post has got 56 comments now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"So Bob, whatcha get me for Christmas?"

(adopts croaky voice) "I got you WEIRDNESS."

I'm confident that filming that video is the most fun any of the people in it have ever had.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why you should see Fantastic Mr. Fox

Well, there are multiple reasons, like "it's a good film" and such. But the main reason is that there is a character in it called Petey. He's one of Farmer Bean's lackeys, and he's voiced by Jarvis Cocker.

And rather than make up his appearance, they just made the model look like Jarvis Cocker.

This is a film with a stop-motion Jarvis Cocker in it.

And yes, he's holding a banjo because he sings a song at one point. Then Michael Gambon (Bean) shouts at him.

Me and my friend Phil sincerely hope Jarvis was given the model after filming finished and it now adorns his mantlepiece.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We are two mariners

Dear ITV, I have an idea to help get you some more viewers. It is a spin-off of The X Factor, called The D Factor. Basically it is almost exactly like its parent show, except the "wannabe hopefuls" or whatever they are called are only allowed to sing Decemberists songs.

This would work because a) it would be hilarious and b) I would watch it, so you're guaranteed a whole extra viewer. I feel the concept of a wild-eyed seventeen-year-old girl singing the entirety of "The Mariner's Revenge Song" in the time-honoured overblown-Mariah-Carey-style, caught in the glow of ten million lights, sweat trickling on her brow as Simon Cowell, Thingy and Whatsit furrow their brows and say, "Hmm", is one that quite frankly you owe humanity.

On a completely unrelated note, does anyone know if the "http" actually stands for anything?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ten Celebrities Who Would Clearly Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

I went to see Zombieland with a friend last night, it was extremely entertaining and comes recommended for those of you who like jokes and the sight of Woody Harrelson beating up a zombie with a banjo. On the way back we started compiling a list of, you guessed it, Ten Celebrities Who Would Clearly Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. We got to about 5 and I have taken it upon myself to fill in the rest.

In no partickerlar order:

Willie Nelson
Why? Because he is a hardcore fellow of the sort you suspect would nut the Grim Reaper if they were to meet on a dark corner one night. Also Harrelson's character mentioned liking his music in the film so he was obviously looming large in our minds.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Guitar over the head.

Why? It is a well-documented fact that Lemmy is indestructible.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Bass guitar over the head. Jack Daniel's-composed molotov cocktail for "afters".

Keith Richards
Why? See Lemmy.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Retreat up palm tree, hurl coconuts at incoming hordes.

Iggy Pop
Why? See Lemmy and Keith Richards.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Distract ravenous undead with ill-advised car insurance adverts. Use momentary advantage to bodily hurl a skinhead Ewan McGregor at them.

Max Brooks
Why? He wrote The Zombie Survival Guide. Presumably he would lead humanity, John Connor-style.
Preferred method of zombie execution: To paraphrase the book (it's been a long time since I flicked through it and I don't have a copy to hand) - "Blades don't need reloading".

Simon Pegg
Why? When you're writing articles for the Guardian on how zombies work, you know you know your stuff. I'd guess he'd act as Brooks' loyal deputy.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Cricket bat.

Sarah Michelle Gellar
Why? Years and years and years of beating up everything that California's effects guys can throw at her. This can be applied to any female star of one of Joss Whedon's shows, really. And Milla Jovovich.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Kick their heads off.

Russell Crowe
Why? He's a hard nut, innee?
Preferred method of zombie execution: Projectile telephone. Are we not entertained, etc, etc.

Judi Dench
Why? Even a zombie wouldn't lack decorum to such an extent as to try it on with Dame Judi.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Beat them to a pulp with an Oscar.

Christian Bale
Why? He's the Goddam Batman.
Preferred method of zombie execution: Terrifying rage.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Things I Have Done In Scribblenauts In The Few Hours Since I Bought It

# Tried to spawn Shakespeare, been disappointed (it seems the only famous person is if you rickroll - Einstein gives you a generic scientist, all others I've tried have yielded nothing)
# Discovered that a priest with a nunchuk can beat up Ra with surprising ease
# Found that a liger can beat a tiger
# Been absolutely delighted that manticores and chimeras can be summoned
# Been even more delighted that Behemoth and Leviathan actually give you Behemoth and Leviathan rather than generic monsters
# Tried to get Queen Elizabeth I and ended up with a female zombie, presumed it was deliberate
# Found kappas, tanuki (as in the mythological version rather than raccoon dogs), red caps and hobgoblins (although "hobgoblin" gives you the same as "orc" so I guess that doesn't really count)
# Formed a crimefighting team of me on a stegosaurus, a scientist on a camel and God on a zebra
# Found that if you type "pine marten" you get a wolverine - okay, same group of animals, but they ain't that alike... (ferret, stoat and weasel all give you a basic mustelid model)
# Ridden a narwhal
# Stuck a badger to a queen's hand with some glue
# Done some levels

Friday, September 11, 2009

Everybody's supersonic racing

So, a new 2D HD Sonic game for next year? I am intriguéd. And because everyone on the Internet already has fifty-seven opinions on it, here am I to offer what I would like to see.

  • Really fancy sprites. Work for the HD tag. I want Vanillaware-level quality here. I was, in fact, playing Sonic Advance 2 the other day and I decided that I prefer Sonic in sprites to polygons. Apparently I am retro.
  • Extra characters, but keep 'em leashed. I happen to rather like the ridiculously huge supporting cast, but let's just have them popping up in little cameos most of the time. Maybe have Tails tagging along behind Sonic, Sonic 2/3-style, but have any other characters non-playable and limited. Let's see Knuckles, Amy, Cream, Big, Omega, maybe Rouge, the Chaotix and possibly Blaze and Marine for the heck of it. Oh, and revive Mighty, Fang/Nack and Bark. No brand-new characters though.
  • Eggman is the main villain. No "henchman suddenly takes control" again. Although from what I can gather they already did that in Unleashed, but I haven't played that.
  • Proper badniks. By "badniks" I mean "robots that look like animals and when you bop 'em little animals come out". None of this generic humanoid stuff, it's just not as aesthetically interesting. (Honourable exception for the steampunk robots from Rush Adventure's Machine Labyrinth.)
  • Zones and acts. It still feels odd not popping "Zone" on the end of a Sonic level.
  • Less running, more platforming. Using momentum more, like back in The Good Old Days. Spin Dash and rolling about, baby.
  • Music by Hideki Naganuma or Richard Jacques. Either is acceptable. Or both.
  • Get seven Chaos Emeralds, become Super Sonic. From what I can recall, you haven't been able to be Super Sonic in any old level since Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Tut.
  • Metal Sonic. Metal Sonic is cool.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Concerning women member increase

So the other day I noticed that this post had suddenly got a few comments, and they were all in Japanese. "Huh," I thought. "Well, I guess it is about a giant robot suit, and them crazy Japanese folks do love their giant robot suits."

Then today I noticed it had grown to 8 comments, and investigated further.

Here's a Babelfish translation.

Yup, it's porn. Like giant robot suits? You sure will love naked Japanese ladies!

I like compewter gamez

And I currently like Batman: Arkham Asylum. It's very good.

I also like that Scribblenauts is out this month. I also like that Professor Layton 2 is out this month. I also like that Brütal Legend is out next month.

But what do I like most of all?

I like that they're making a sequel to Ōkami.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Burning down the house

Stop it, David Blaine. Byrne. Whatever. Do you think they ever get each other confused? My gut tells me that hijinks would ensue. The wackiness of said hijinks would need to be plotted on a graph, mind, and I can't be bothered with that.

Which is the least coherent way I could come up with of saying that I am going to inflict you with my opinions on the first series of Dollhouse, as I watched the finale last night on the tellemebox.

For many a moon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my very favouritest TV show. It's not up at such lofty heights in my mind any more (it seems oddly dated and even quaint in places these days, especially the first couple of seasons), but I still heart it. I don't really know what my very favouritest TV show is any more, but if I was pushed Firefly would be a strong contender. Basically, what I am saying is that I like Joss Whedon and I like things that Joss Whedon makes.

So thirteen weeks ago I sat down to watch, aware of Dollhouse's reputation (bit of a rubbish start, but give it a chance) and willing to overlook quite a lot. And at the other end, it's a choice I'm glad I made.

Super-quick rundown: there's a secret organisation that wipes people's personalities (volunteers...most of the time) and downloads entire new people into their heads for paying clients. The clients order anything from a hostage negotiator to a jewel thief to a bodyguard to a high-class prostitute - but since these are rich people, the so-called "actives" are usually required for sex or violence. Or violent sex. Or sexy violence. It's Joe 90 with boobs and booms, basically, and at the end of the episode the active's brain is wiped clean and they're returned to the House.

The first three or four weeks were agreeable enough - the stories weren't super-gripping but kept me entertained, and there was enough groundwork being laid for the future to help push the thing along.

However, by week 6 ("Man on the Street") I was growing tired with the person-of-the-week stories.


When Dollhouse-obsessed FBI agent Paul Ballard finally got it awn with his shy neighbour Mellie, I got worried. Because in Joss Whedon's universe, if you have a drawn-out romantic will-they-won't-they, the will-they is usually followed by something awful happening. And indeed, the Dollhouse sent an assassin to kill Mellie, which distressed me because I liked the couple (and fancied Mellie something rotten). "Fine, I'm not watching any more," I decided. But I forgot that a Joss Whedon show would never have a defenceless semi-naked woman abruptly killed by an evil man (who'd been revealed as a rapist earlier in the episode) and Mellie was revealed to be an active too, who promptly killed him. Hooray! Maybe I would keep watching after all.


From there the series gradually got better and better, finishing with a top-notch episode (SPOILERS BACK!) set in the future, which has gone all post-apocalyptic on us. And featured Felicia Day and Molly off Heroes. (SPOILERS GONE!)

While it's never quite up to Whedon's previous televisual treats, it's some good stuff. The key is how it, with a mixture of good writing and good acting, gradually layers up sympathy for some pretty damn unsympathetic protagonists. Top marks to Tahmoh Penikett, who works hard to make Ballard more than a one-note Dogged Law Guy; Fran Kranz as the House's tech god Topher Brink (basically Xander from Buffy but smarter and with kind of a god complex), who you should technically hate but just can't; and Olivia Williams as House-head Adelle DeWitt. The scene in the finale (THE SPOILERS RETURN!) between Williams and Kranz as the latter has gone mad after his tech brings about the downfall of civilisation, and the former has essentially turned into his mother in trying to keep him together, was very affecting. (THE SPOILERS DEPART!)

The slightly mind-screwing (and rather scary) concept is explored well - the one that sticks out in my mind is "Haunted", the tenth episode, wherein a friend of DeWitt's utilises the House's technology to solve her own murder.

So, basically, it's good and if you choose to check it out, bear in mind that it takes a bit of time to get going. However, it rewards your perservance quite nicely. Roll on the unexpected and welcome second series!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pleasing story of the day

Shrew thought extinct found to not be extinct

I especially love the fact that the scientists' train of thought was essentially, "Everyone reckons this thing is extinct - eff that, we're gonna look for it anyway."

Friday, July 10, 2009


Konami create walking-simulation video game

Is this my fault, Konami? Is it because I never bought a Metal Gear Solid? Is that why you're doing this?

At least when Nintendo did it they packaged it with a couple of pedometers and encouraged you to actually, you know, go out for a walk.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Today I Die

I vaguely seem to recall hearing about Today I Die somewhere before, but I've never checked it out before. It's kind of a game that's also a poem, and it's rather wonderful. Give it a go.

Thursday, June 18, 2009





The full horrifying story of humankind's end

Monday, June 08, 2009

Scribblenauts will be the best game ever

For those not paying attention, it's the forthcoming DS game from the guys who made Drawn to Life. You solve puzzles by typing things in to an onscreen keyboard, which then spawns that thing for you to use.

You can also set up a stegosaurus vs. kraken fight, as demonstrated here.

See? Best game ever.

Friday, June 05, 2009

This was a triumph

I'm making a note here

So yeah, I completed Portal last night and now I know what the Internet was going on about a year and a half ago.

It was actually a different bit of The Orange Box that stuck in my mind, namely Half-Life 2: Episode Two. I couldn't do the big setpiece battle at the end, and was berating this fact to a friend in the pub last week, who suggested I check what difficulty setting I was playing on, maybe shift it down to "easy". So I did, and the plan worked.

My problem was that when you have a game like Half-Life with a very strong narrative, getting stuck on a hard bit is extremely annoying. If you've engaged the player and they want to know how the story progresses, forbidding them because they're not good enough isn't on. It's like reading a book and then suddenly the author puts his hand over the page and says, "No, you can't read any more, you didn't fully comprehend that metaphor. Stay on this page until you get my meaning."

Another game I completed this week was BioShock, which understood the idea. You have an arrow pointing the direction, there are hints on the pause screen to help you progress, and if you die you respawn in a "Vita-Chamber", normally a little way back through the level, with weapons and such intact. In last issue's Official Xbox Magazine there's an interview with Jordan Thomas, the creative director of the forthcoming sequel. He explains that, "We felt the Vita-Chambers were pretty important in terms of making it a shooter that was more about offering you hard choices and less about stopping you finishing."

I loved the Vita-Chambers. BioShock was incredibly narrative-heavy, and 2K knew their place in not preventing me from enjoying the narrative. Some didn't like them, so BioShock 2 will apparently have the option to turn 'em off. Everyone wins.

It's a tricky line, of course. You've got not stopping the players from finishing the game, but you've also got not taking all the challenge out. Obviously there are many gamers who enjoy pitting themselves against a game, the sort who play Ikaruga blindfold with one hand behind their back, but I've never been that sort of player. I'm of the opinion that I don't mind being challenged, but I've paid money for this and if I'm irretrivably stuck I want a hand. That's why I like the idea of this "Kind Code" that Sir Shigsy of Moto is yammering about (even if it's already been done in Alone in the Dark). The thing about the way that gaming is opening up to more people is that there are a lot of new gamers who've never even heard of Mega Man, and keeping everyone happy is only going to get trickier. It'll be interesting to see what ideas come up.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I'm guessing most people have at least briefly encountered Microsoft's Natal by now. It makes me excited. Obviously it'll take a few years to kick off proper, but once it does, imagine shooting lightning in Bioshock 4 just by making a clawy hand. It'll be like being Ian McKellen in X-Men!

Although I must admit the bit I like most is the woman scrolling through a menu by gesturing.



hoverboards next plzkthx

Friday, May 08, 2009

Eee, technology

Formula 3 car made out of vegetables

I am of the opinion they missed a trick by not designing it to resemble a Wacky Races car.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Guess who got The Orange Box today?

(the answer is me, I did)

Guess who was confused by the fact that the box included the Finnish instruction manual rather than the English one for no obvious reason?

(again, it was me)

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I have no idea if that's real French or not. But it should be.

Anyway, you know how skips have those little signs on the sides - "LEVEL LOAD ONLY" and "NO FIRES"? I saw one today where an enterprising builder had altered them to read "EVIL TOADS ONLY" and "NO FRILS".

Well, it made me chuckle.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On aesthetics

I have long maintained that for a video game to achieve true beauty, it should avoid attempting photo-realistic graphics and instead devise its own particular stylised look (see: Ōkami, The Wind Waker etcetera).

Tomb Raider Underworld
may be forcing me to rethink this view. I keep getting distracted on the Thailand level and going, "ooooh, lookit the pretty undergrowth."

So, in conclusion: curse you, Lara Croft.

(On a side note, I'm rather impressed with the new graphical touch wherein Lara gets grimier as you scramble about the place but going for a dip cleans her off, but there's no way to mention it without sounding like a massive pervert.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


I picked up BioShock today.

So far I have:
  • stared blankly at the screen because the graphics were so good I thought I was still watching the intro movie and didn't realise I'd actually started playing the game
  • examined some wet bricks closely because the graphics are that good
  • been given goosebumps by the voyage into Rapture
  • been startled by a whale
  • sworn out loud several times as things blew up
  • sworn out loud several times as unpleasant things attacked me
  • been really, really, really creeped out in general
  • decided that the hype was accurate and this is a strong contender for Best Game Ever
And I've only played it for twenty minutes. Blimey.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Money will be spent

I am currently concocting a plan to purchase an Xbox 360 this week (most likely tomorrow). My parents are away in Prague and I always find it easier to spend large amounts of money when I have no one to justify it to for a day or two. My eventual justifications this time will involve my personal attempts to kick-start the world economy, I should think. At any rate, do not be surprised if I never update my blog again because I am too busy throwing cars about or stuffing ketchup bottles into zombies' mouths.

I am also planning a novel, because the creative side of my brain (which I thought was killed off altogether by the efforts of the creative writing course at Aberystwyth) has roused itself from its death-like stupor and been demanding exercise recently. It is proving quite hard to martial my thoughts into some sort of coherent planning form, but at present it looks like the resultant work will be 60% exploration of Celtic myth and 40% footling around. Its one talking point thus far is that the love interest only has one hand. Don't ask me why, but when I was thunking up characters a pretty redhead with no left hand named Sarah strolled into my frontal lobes more or less fully-formed.

(It should be noted at this point that by "novel" I mean "lengthy piece of prose that will never leave the boundaries of my computer screen and probably be read by a maximum of two people, one of whom will just be feigning interest".)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


So the Webcomic Thing was top fun for young and old. Personal highlight: meeting John Allison, who seemed far too young for a man who has been doing webcomics for ten years, and buying two books off him which he promptly signed with a little doodle in each (Shelley in one, Des in the other). And he then let me have a badge for free because I didn't have 50p in change. What a nice man.

Also Smithy gave me a jelly baby.

I would, however, like to question the wisdom of placing Sir John A. and Kate Beaton right near each other which resulted in considerable gridlock pretty much all day and prevented me from buying her book (I used the "I'll go later when there's less of a queue" reasoning then discovered she'd sold out).

Ah well. A very fine day anyway. Might have to go next year, hmm, yes, hmm.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Today has been an excellent day

  1. We finally got round to getting a new CD drive for the family PC (the last one went crazy about a month ago). The new one is powerful enough for me to surf the Interwubs and burn a CD to iTunes at the same time (our computer is very old, such a thing was previously beyond it without it running about five times slower).
  2. I picked up Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks second-hand for PS2. It cost me four squids because I traded in God of War. MK:SM has proved to be the game that I wanted GoW to be - over-the-top, stupid and very, very fun.
  3. 2-disc version of The Dark Knight for £6.99 from Sainsbury's. "I'm 'avin' some of that," I said. And I did!
  4. Passing by MSN, I saw the headline "Jeremy Clarkson locked in loo". Leave him there! Go on.
So yes, an excellent day. And tomorrow I meet Smithy face-to-face and proclaim my love to him. By which I mean have an upstanding and entirely heterosexual pleasant chat. Yes.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why you should go to the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing 2009

That's right, the UK Web & Mini Comix Thing 2009. The reasons you should go are many!

Reason #1: it's good, probably. I dunno, I haven't been before.
Reason #2: John Allison will be there. So will many other excellent people, admittedly, but John Allison.
Reason #3, a.k.a. The Main Reason: I have combined powers with the much-more-talented-than-me Matthew Smith to unleash The Royal Society for the Preservation of Sub-Literature Presents: A Series of Fragments from Lost Novels upon an unsuspecting planet, and copies of same will be available for your perusal at table 27.

To quote the peerless wisdom of Sanjay Nahasapeemapetilon, "You will be there or kindly be square."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oh, Capcom

This is now old news because it took place this morning but some crossed wires at Absolute Gadget prevented it being uploaded 'til now.

Hilariously ill-advised body parts scavenger hunt

Bless you, Capcom, you wacky funsters.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Music, maestro

As you may have noticed, I like video games. By extension, one of the things I like about video games is the music contained within. By extension, one of the things I like about the music contained within is both the increasing complexity of the music, now often supplied by full orchestras, and the fact that the early tunes made a virtue of the simplistic technology they could utilise, and thus sound really good when done with proper instruments and that. By extension, I enjoy finding stuff related to videogame music on YouTube. By extension, here are some of my favourites.

(Please ignore the fact that the videos are both linked and embedded. Blogger is leading me a merry dance tonight, I dunno what the heck's going on.)

Probably the best tune from a series with no end of good tunes, done all classy like. You don't get more smooth.

OutRun medley performed by Richard Jacques and an orchestra

Not the best quality video, but we will forgive it on the grounds that Richard Jacques is awesome and OutRun music is awesome, so Richard Jacques performing some OutRun music is super-awesome. Darn but I must get to Video Games Live this year.

The Legend of Zelda theme performed on theremin by ooo6

Theremin. Theremin. There, min. The remin. Mmm.

Nintendo medley performed by an a cappella choir

Bonus points for acting.

And finally, my favourite, good enough for me to have a copy on my iPod:

"Wind Waker Unplugged", by FreddeGredde

Possibly, dare I say it, better than the original game's music. And damn if I don't love The Wind Waker's music.

Avon will eat itself

...and presumably all of us too

Did they seriously not notice this? Is it an elaborate post-modern prank? Are they actually planning to turn us all into zombies?


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Who watched the Watchmen?

I did, and now I have a slight headache and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" going round and round in my brain.

So did I enjoy Yakkety Zack's filmeriffic version of that book by Dave Gibbons and [name removed at request of lawyers]? Yes, yes I did.

I felt it was a little over-faithful to the book, which was understandable, but still you kind of wished for it to stretch its wings a bit more. The credit sequence (40 or so years of backstory crammed together to the tune of the aforementioned Dylan song) was actually my favourite part of the movie. The David Bowie and Andy Warhol cameos were inspired.

It looked astonishing. The slow-mo in the fights was largely unecessary, but other than that the cinematography was sumptuous. Interesting to note that Gibbons actually comes across better from the enterprise than Moore - any attempts to mirror Gibbons' tracking shots or camera angles, as it were, always looked great, whereas some of Moore's directly transposed dialogue came across as a little portentous. Anyway, full marks to the costume and set design people. Although I can't decide if the ridiculous Richard Nixon makeup was a deliberate caricature or some makeup person getting over-enthusiastic.

Acting was good, going for little-known cast members (as well as quite startling lookalikes, I was surprised how closely nearly everyone matched their drawn versions) paid off in terms of immersion without going, "Ooh, it's George Clooney!" Top marks for Billy Crudup, who made excellent results of possibly one of the hardest-to-portray characters ever written. "Right, Billy, your motivation is that you percieve time in a non-linear fashion. Action!"

Other points: great soundtrack, Malin Akerman is so beautiful it's seriously not even funny, blimey it was violent.

Overall, enjoyable but not great. It reminded me slightly of how you watch a Harry Potter film and think that it's not bad in pouring a book straight on to screen, but you want it to stand as a movie in its own right and it never quite manages it.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The world just got a little bit more awesome

Man makes working replica of the glider from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

"People always ask me if I'm an inventor, but I'm not. Inventions have a practical component to them; none of my pieces have that."

I love you, crazy Japanese man.

(Thanks to Smithy for the heads-up.)

Think thou on this

If you subscribe to the infinite worlds theory (i.e. if the universe is essentially infinite, that means there are worlds out there almost identical to our own with slight changes) then somewhere there is a planet where 50 Cent hails from Yorkshire.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The night was cold, and dark. And cold. And dark. And cold, and dark, and cold. Also it was raining.

The faint glow of the streetlight picked out a shadowy figure skulking through the inky blackness. The barest ember of a lit cigarette illuminated the careworn creases of his face and the scar across his left cheek. His stocky, imposing figure was briefly racked by violent coughing, because smoking totally gives you lung cancer. He stalked the sidewalks with his head down and his collar up. He was heading to a seedy building that looked almost ready to fall down, and had no sign of life except the single lit window on the second floor. And the cat that was nibbling a dead junkie's fingers.

That cat's gonna get a crack habit now, thought the man. That's how it works, right? Or is that HIV? He thought about shooting the cat to save it from its future misery, but he didn't want the local lowlifes to be attracted to the gunshot. He'd lost his pistol's silencer after the incident on the docks, and he wasn't quite confident enough of his makeshift replacement, a toilet roll tube with some Sellotape around it, to try it out yet.

Instead, he eased open the building's front door and ascended the stained staircase to the second floor. He dropped the cigarette butt in a plant pot that held a dead plant and several hundred cigarette butts, and approached the door.

The door read, Jackson Trythson: Private Detective over an image of a staring eye. Some wiseass kids had added "Trythson is super rubbish" underneath. The man didn't know whether they were uninventive in their insults or just kind of polite. Maybe both.

The man took a calming breath, then knocked on the door and opened it without waiting for a reply.

The detective's office was shabby, with nearly every surface covered in sheets of paper. A three-quarters-empty whisky bottle stood on the desk (except this was American whiskey, so you spell it with an "e", like that). Behind the desk was a chair, and in the chair was a man. In the man's hand was a glass tumbler. In the tumbler used to be some whiskey, but the man had drunk it. The man was asleep, and going "zzzz". The man (the other one, the one that had just come in the room and wasn't asleep) shut the door, which made the man in the chair wake up.

"...burlap sack! Huh? What? White! What're you doin' here?" said the man in the chair.
"I need your help," said White, who was the man that had just come into the office and shut the door and that. "All sorts of bad stuffs are up in my grill, man. Please, Jackson. Forget the business with the pipecleaners and help your old friend."
"You were never my friend," said Jackson Trythson, Private Dectective, who was the guy who'd just woken up. "I just kept you around for the spare organs."
White grinned. "Just the same, you old joker."
Jackson grinned back. "Good to see you."

Then they had passionate sweaty mansex. It was totally hot.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In which my fragile mind finally snaps




Friday, February 20, 2009


I was going to write about that ridiculous Pepsi logo document thing, but it has been pointed out to me that extra advertising is probably just what they want. So I won't. Not even a link.

How you like me now, giant corporation.

(I'm still half-convinced they're taking the mick with the whole thing.)

Instead, here's a picture I was going to pop behind this blog's title, but I couldn't get it how I liked it so I gave up. But I bothered to scan the photo in, so I am determined my efforts will not be in vain.

Ahh, innit pretty and that.

Incidentally, well done to LittleBigPlanet for clearing up so thoroughly at the Interactive Achievement Awards last night. I'd never heard of these awards before, but judging from the LBP-love they know what they're on about.

So yeah, I don't really have anything worthwhile to add to Teh Blogosphere tonight. I totally thought of something worth writing on earlier, but that was at like 8am and I've forgotten it now. Bah.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ah, the flesh of humans

I have recently discovered that an excellent way to banish a sense of vague dissatisfaction with your life is to watch some sort of zombie-based entertainment (in this case the last two episodes of Dead Set, which overall was very good if crushingly unsubtle when it came to the satirical comments) and think, "Hey, at least my intestines aren't being forcibly ripped from my still-living flesh by my undead friends and co-workers."

Also, I would like to take a moment to address Traveller's Tales.

Dear Traveller's Tales,

I am enjoying your latest product, the videogamey entity known to humans as Lego Batman. However, if you choose to create any further Lego games in the future, I will ask you to stop putting vehicle-based levels in them as they are invariably bloody awful.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A List Of Tiresome Opinions

...Thinking about it, I could probably retitle this blog to that.

I formally present an arbitrary collection of things I have seen/read/played/heard in the last two weeks or so, for no other reason than I can.


28 Weeks Later
Viewing enabled by: DVD rented from (which is my new favourite thing, incidentally)

I really enjoyed 28 Days Later, and wanted to catch this in the cinema but it never quite happened. Still, I've seen it now. And, indeed, enjoyed it. It's not quite up to its prequel, mainly due to less focus on characterisation, but as a more straightforward hit of action it satisfied. Special mentions must go to the extended death scene in the laboratory (vagaries employed to prevent spoilerfication), which was memorable both for the viciousness of it and the tragic overtones (it brought Oedipus to my mind, whether deliberately or not); and also the bit where Harold "I Have Been In Every Third Film/TV Show You Have Seen" Perrineau turns his helicopter into an impromptu zombie death machine, purely for being ridiculous and cool. Also, maybe I'm odd but I find it satisfying to see British landmarks get all kinds of messed up every once in a while instead of American ones - there was something faintly cathartic about Regent's Park tube station going kaboom in spectacular manner. (I have a certain fondness for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer purely for the bit where the Thames gets drained and the London Eye nearly falls over.) And just before we go, I'd like to nod my head towards its two young stars, the wonderfully named Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton. Carrying a film on young shoulders is risky. Carrying a film that's not aimed at family viewing on young shoulders is super-risky. Carrying an action film on young shoulders is super-duper-risky. Carrying an action-horror film on young shoulders is downright silly. But the pair pull it off, and do it well.
Ice-cream rating: better than Carte D'or Chocolate Inspiration, worse than Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Tales from Earthsea
Viewing enabled by: Lovefilm rental again

I found it quite hard to watch this without being mindful of the brouhaha that accompanied its making. Especially since a lot of it centred around an argument between a father and a son (the latter of whom had never before directed a film but ended up in charge) and then the first five minutes of the film features a man fatally stabbing his father for no apparent reason. And to be honest, the backstage shenanigans are more interesting than large portions of the plot. I've never read any of the Earthsea books, but the acceptable-but-hopelessly-generic fantasy storytelling shown here doesn't encourage me to. It's not bad, but it's not very inventive. Luckily, this is a Studio Ghibli film, so you can sit back and bathe your eyes in the glorious beauty of the whole enterprise. This film has arguably the prettiest sunsets I've ever seen (and I'm including real life here) and I could basically just watch some sort of sunset-montage edited out of this for two hours and be happy.
Month rating: better than January, worse than April

The Spiderwick Chronicles
Viewing enabled by: my mum has it on DVD and I watched it

And hey, another film adaptation of a series of fantasy books. This one is also a real looker, although that's about as much as it has in common with Earthsea. It's fairly squarely aimed at the younger end of the market, although surprisingly it focuses much more on character than I was expecting, and indeed more than these sort of films do. It's all about a family coping with divorce, really. Well, okay, it's really about a scientist compiling a field guide to fairies and an ogre trying to get hold of it and people getting spat in the face by a computer-generated Seth Rogen, but it's still about a family coping with divorce as well. The whole cast is excellent, but top marks go to Freddie "Charlie out of the Chocolate Factory" Highmore, who is called upon to play a pair of identical twins that are complete opposites, be in nearly every scene either once or twice as a result, and still manage to make both characters fully-rounded and believable. And he does it really well, despite only being about six months old. There's an Oscar or two in that lad's future, you mark my words. And on a completely unrelated note, this appealed to my geeky world-myth-loving side by concentrating on the sort of creatures that don't often get a showing in films (hobgoblins, brownies, sylphs, red caps, griffins etc.). So that's cool.
Cereal rating: better than Weetabix, worse than Special K

Treasure Planet
Viewing enabled by: my brother's TV

This one only half-counts because I only saw the second half, and the sound was quite low and my niece and nephew were running round going "Aaaah", so I couldn't fully concentrate. But I followed about 70% of the dialogue, and I saw the first half a few months ago so I have technically seen the whole film. Anyway. Maybe it's that everyone knows Treasure Island upside-down and back-to-front, but the storytelling was a little ho-hum. A bit you know what sort of thing is going to happen even if you don't know the story. A bit whateverrrrrrrr. But! This deserves a slap on the back purely on a design front. It's so pretty and hugely inventive. Great character design (I loved the pirate that was a head on a pair of arm/legs), great world design, great design. The hand-drawn and CG mix well, and it's basically highly enjoyable even with the sound off. One bum note is the writing of Ben Gunn as B.E.N., malfunctioning robot. From a story perspective it worked quite well, but it was a real case of "Oh look! Here's the comedy sidekick! Everybody laugh at the comedy sidekick and his hilarious antics!" Tiresome on its own, but when you've already got David Hyde Pierce on board, you've got sublime comic relief sorted quite adequately. B.E.N. just smacked of "We need this film's Genie plzkthx".
X-Men rating: better than Forge, worse than Vivisector

Books (or just book)

The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
Reading enabled by: my mum bought it for me in order to take advantage of a 3 for 2 deal at Waterstone's

I'm only halfway through this, but it's ace. It's got vampires and witches who turn into tigers and satire on bureaucracy and sarkiness and references to Hexen. And it's only the first of a trilogy so there's that great feeling when you're reading a book you're really enjoying and are happy in the knowledge that it won't be over when you finish it, there's more to come.
Doctor Who rating: better than the Sontarans, worse than the Daleks

Computer games

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on DS
Playing enabled by: I bought it on Friday

I've only got a little way in, but I like this. It's Fire Emblem, so I was destined to like it, but it's good to know. Being able to change unit classes is pleasingly odd, stylus control is largely satisfying with a back-up of D-pad and buttons if I want 'em, and there are a wealth of little touches that improve the general play no end (an important point for a series that fundamentally doesn't change much).
Blur rating: better than "She's So High", worse than "Charmless Man"

LittleBigPlanet on PS3
Playing enabled by: my brother's PS3, and me I guess since I bought it for him for Christmas

Brilliant. Love it. Gorgeous to gaze upon, delightful to play, you can stick stickers of Henry VIII's head all over the place, and you get a jetpack right near the beginning. And you can dress up like a Shakespearean character. Or a lion. Or a Shakespearean lion. And this is just from playing the tutorial levels on my own...
Robot rating: better than Ultra Magnus, equal to K9

CDs (or just CD)

Heart by Stars
Listening enabled by: I bought it on Thursday

Um, only listened to this all the way through once, and the first few songs a couple of times over that. Can't really remember much...I think it's fairly '80s, and probably the weakest of the three Stars albums I have, but still enjoyable. I really like the way it starts with each band member saying, "I am [insert name], and this is my heart."
Stephen King rating: better than Wizard and Glass, worse than Pet Sematary

Friday, January 16, 2009

Are games art?

A few months ago, I applied for a job for, which I didn't get. Obviously. Part of the application was to write a blog article on something game-related, and I just found my effort lying around on the hard drive. I was quite pleased with it then and reckon it still reads quite nicely now, so I thought I'd do a dash of rewriting and slap it up. Take it away, August 2008-me:

Monet. Mozart. Miyazaki. Mario? Is it time for computer games to rise tall and proclaim, “We are an art form”?

Gaming is looked down on by pretty much everyone. While all other forms of media, from painting through to movies, can rest snugly in their classification of art – deep, meaningful works portraying great ideas – games are still the idiot children, enjoyed by the idiot children. Lines and blobs beeping their way across TV screens, providing basic stimulation for those of short attention span. Of course, it’s rubbish. I know it, you know it, so why doesn’t anyone else?

Well, first off, games are astonishingly young. Barely 30 years old – by comparison, thirty years into cinema’s lifespan the concept of sound was just being addressed. Paintings were barely into the “stick man on cave walls” era (unless the aliens took all the fancy stuff with them after buggering off and leaving a couple of crystal skulls behind). The leaps in basic technology and general sophistication games have made from Pong through to GTAIV are bordering on the ridiculous, and it’s not surprising that the general perception of them hasn’t caught up yet.

So, is that it? The simple fact that dedicated gamers need to wait a generation or so before their pastime will be vindicated once and for all? Er, well, no. Games actually haven’t made a rosy perception of themselves easy to come by.

Frankly, they’ve given themselves an uphill struggle. The extremely basic capabilities of the first games machines meant that Space Invaders or Robotron or Oh No Those Pesky Aliens Are At It Again 7 were pretty much all they could handle, and this image got burned into the public’s mind and hasn’t scrubbed off yet. (Admittedly such scenarios are still a favourite haunt of games, but at least nowadays they have the narrative clout, invention and scope of Mass Effect or Dead Space to justify themselves. I'll stick my fingers in my ears and yell "LA LA LA" if you mention Gears of War.)

Which comes to the main point – the majority of games aren’t art. Neither are the majority of films. No-one in their right mind would state that Steven Seagal’s Pistol Whipped is comparable to Citizen Kane, just like you can’t hold up Big Beach Sports next to Super Mario Galaxy. But that pesky fellow John Public doesn’t realise that, so he holds up like his misinformed life depends on it. Look at the charts, after all – Ōkami’s nowhere to be seen on Wii because everyone’s buying Carnival: Funfair Games or the latest half-arsed Pixar tie-in instead. (I’ll leave the irony that Pixar regularly create some of cinema’s finest moments but no-one can be bothered to get a decent development team in to honour their films for another time.) And at Christmas it’s the same thing every year: two certain footie titles and a certain racing series fighting it out for number one (will the reader kindly ignore the generally excellent quality of FIFA and Pro Evo as it will cause the writer’s argument to collapse like the proverbial house of cards).

So there we are – games can be art, but most of the time they don’t deserve the title. They will, in time, like the way that comics were finally deemed worthy of dull, earnest essays like this one in the Eighties with the advent of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and their ilk. For now, gamers will have to wait before the art we play becomes justly acknowledged. That’s several years to prepare for a good “I told you so,” and a hearty mocking laugh. Get to it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


This German weatherman is my new favourite human. Consummate professionalism. Doesn't even object to the cat licking his chin. Good work sir.

EDIT: To continue the "excellent people" theme, here's Neil Gaiman in snowshoes.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thor, the Norse God of Thunder

I have discovered that the perfect answer to any question is "Thor, the Norse God of Thunder".

"Who ruled England from 1066 to 1087?"
"Thor, the Norse God of Thunder."

"What d'you fancy for dinner?"
"Thor, the Norse God of Thunder."

"Who likes short shorts?"
"Thor, the Norse God of Thunder."

"How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?"
"Thor, the Norse God of Thunder."

Okay, maybe not that last one.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


...kind of forgot one from my list of movies what I saw in t'cinema.


Not up to the level of the comic, but I wasn't really expecting it to be. Still great, the animation style was perfectly judged and it got the comic's abrupt changes of pace down nicely. Also, "Eye of the Tiger". Oh yes.

In sort-of-related news, I got Wall·E on DVD for Christmas and watched it this afternoon. I think it may just have clinched my Film of 2008 title, as well as Bestest Pixar Movie Evar, which is a high accolade indeed. Also, the extra short, Burn·E, is fabulous.