Monday, December 13, 2010

On the kicking of ass, and the chewing of bubblegum

I downloaded Duke Nukem 3D on t'Xbox the other day, and have been playing it much of late. I did have the Saturn version way back when, but used the level select to skip through any bits I found too hard (i.e. most of it). So this is more or less a first playthrough.

And you know what's interesting? Its astonishing cheapness.

It's pretty hard, yeah. But a whole bunch of its hardness is due to the developers being cheating scumbags. Enemies fly around, shooting at you from slightly higher than you can move Duke's line-of-sight. Crucial bits of level-progression stuff are hidden in scenery that is nearly impossible to discern from non-descript background art. I've just come across a new type of enemy that flies at you and then self-destructs, doing a ton of damage - it's the aneurysm-inducing suicide soldiers from Serious Sam, except they can come from any angle and they're almost silent.

I'm not disparaging the game as a whole, mind. It's still a lot of fun to play, and it's interesting seeing the sort of stuff that became FPS standards: if I remember right, it was the first in the genre to offer some real-world environments; there are some basic switch puzzles that presage the way the genre has gradually grown a few brain cells; there's an emphasis on inventive weaponry, some of which is still distinctive (Shrinker! Woo!), as well as early outings for the sort of trap weaponry that is now common.

But it really is remarkable to see the sort of shenanigans that we used to put up with. Gearbox won't be able to get away with putting this sort of stuff in the forthcoming Forever. (If it actually is forthcoming. I'm remaining sceptical and Scully-like until the boxes are on shop shelves.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brains, &c.

You should watch World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries when it comes out. Why? Because I'm a zombie in it! Whether I'll actually show up on camera or not is an unknown quantity, but I'm in what I presume was one of the more expansive action sequences (a few soldiers and about a hundred zombies in the woods).

So, yeah. That's what I've been doing today.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Suspicions confirmed

I've been thinking for a while I should try and check out Twin Peaks some time.

And now the Horror Channel has started showing it nightly.

The TV execs are in my brain! And I love it.

Only remaining question is whether to use my newfound powers for good or evil.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Last Wednesday, a new TV series started. It was hosted by Wallace and Gromit.

Then on Friday, a new David Attenborough series began. It was immediately followed by a show about zombies.

Are TV execs reading my brainwaves and using them to commission new shows?

*wishes really hard for a proper gaming show hosted by Charlie Brooker*

Friday, October 15, 2010

A handy guide

I've just had this discussion with a friend via text message but I thought I'd save it here for posterity. When you've just come in from the pub:

Tea + toast + Lost in Translation = FUCK YEAH

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bye now to the mighty Zone

Wow, that was a laboured pun. Even for me.

I've never really been a PC gamer, it's just too much of a headache. However, round about the turn of the millennium I did give the concept a go. And during this brief period (round about mid 1998 to late 2000), I did what I always do when confronted with a new area of gamesplaying to navigate - I turned to a magazine. Said magazine was PC Zone.

I have read many a gaming mag in my years - some lasted one curious issue, others stayed with me for extended periods, as I eagerly snapped up each new edition. PC Zone fell into the latter category. It was, quite simply, a very fine read. Even though my PC of the time was too basic to run the majority of titles featured - it could just about manage Half-Life, but that was the extent - I got it every month for around 15-18 issues. (Actually, I decided to stop getting it one month and reversed the decision the next, with the result that I missed #71, which included the Half-Life review. That always niggled me.) It was simply a delight to devour, with every writer offering their own slant - it was the first magazine that showed me how each writer can have a very distinct voice - and great heaping helpings of articles and features that were interesting even if I had no intent of buying the games they were talking about. On a more practical level, the monthly demo discs were great, too.

I still have a couple of issues - and possibly a demo disc or two - floating about, and as such I'm sad to see that it's closing after 17 years. Farewell, Zone - you'll be missed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Today I have been watching series six of CSI: NY for a review. It never ceases to amaze me how this show can get writers who are capable of good, twisty (if usually ludicrous) plots and yet cannot write dialogue to save their collective lives. More than once this afternoon I've thought, "Oh my goodness s/he actually just said that," and I'm only four episodes in.

(The only instance I can think of off the top of my head is where a couple of guys are chasing a street hustler who's been doing a bit of three-card monte. When they catch him, one guy says, "Looks like it's time to fold." GROAN)

Also, everything must be explained at least three times for slower audience members. I think at one point they managed to explain a plot detail six times in forty seconds.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Living in the future, &c.

Every so often, the whole concept of Wi-Fi staggers me anew. I'm sitting in the front room Internetting it up on my new netbook with built in Wi-Fi, and it occurred to me that if you were to head back in time, say, twenty years, and explain how before long you'd be using tiny computers that could suck videos and information and music and stuff OUT OF THIN AIR you'd be burned as a witch.

...Although actually, thinking about it, it's only five years until Back to the Future II-time. Get a move on, hoverboard-developer-types, and so on.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Broken Social Scene's album gives me an aural erection. I've had "World Sick" in my head all day and I love it. Discuss.

(You don't really have to discuss)

Also, my copy of I'm a Cyborg finally arrived today. It was quite good.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Now is the time to write on the blog

Oh god, that title is an old forum joke from about four years ago that about sixty people in the entire world will get. I'm such a nerd.

So yeah. I felt like writing on this but I didn't have a topic in mind so I figured I'd just start and see what happens.

Nothing, apparently.

I think I'm gonna try booting up the Dreamcast in a bit. I'm currently on my second model and I'm pretty sure it's dying. I want to see if I can't get a bit of Shenmue action in, though, I'm halfway through a playthrough. I think. Haven't touched the thing in months due to its nearing-death.

Random fact: did you know that The 5th Dimension, the old ride at Chessington World of Adventures, had a script written by Douglas Adams? Sadly I only ever got to go on it once, the very first time I went to Chessington, and it scared the life out of me and I kept my eyes shut most of the way round. I was five or six at the time, so hey.

Incidentally, I went to Thorpe Park a couple of weeks ago, and Saw The Ride? Brilliant. It's so much fun. While I love rollercoasters, a lot of them make me slightly queasy or, hey, scare me a bit. But Saw stands proud alongside the likes of Nemesis, Oblivion and Rita as being pure exhilarating joy.

*goes to check the post that just came through the door*

Goddammit Lovefilm, where's my copy of I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK? I got an email like last Thursday saying it had been posted and it hasn't turned up yet.

Okay I think I'm done blathering now. I might go watch an episode of Firefly or summat.

(Entire world: "NOBODY CARES")

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Five great endings

Inspired by the fact that I've just been watching Lost in Translation, here are five great endings to things. Not necessarily the five best, but the fact that they're the first five to pop into my head probably counts for something.

5. Panzer Dragoon Saga

It may be twelve years old, but I still ain't gonna spoil it. It's probably on YouTube or something. What's brilliant is that it takes a staple occurrence of RPG gaming that happened right at the start of the game and that you no doubt forgot about and uses it to turn the entire plot on its head.

4. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

World peace is ushered in through the power of rocking out. Yes.

3. "Not Fade Away", the last episode of Angel

Angel's last series was its best and its last episode was arguably the best of that. I don't read the comic continuation because this episode ends it so wonderfully.

2. Lost in Translation

Well, yeah. It's the use of The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" that does it, really.

1. The last strip of Calvin and Hobbes


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Bat Man

So I seem to be on a bit of a Batman kick at the moment. I've been fiddling about with the challenge mode in Arkham Asylum, I watched Batman Begins for the first time in yonks the other day and plan to follow it up with The Dark Knight soon, and last week I even dreamt I was the man himself.

I'm pretty sure this has been observed before now, but I reckon the two most likely villains to appear in Nolan's next Batpic will be the Riddler and Harley Quinn, due to the way that each villain is really being marked up as different sides of Bats' personality and/or modus operandi. Observe:

Begins had Scarecrow (fear) and Ra's al Ghul (deception). Both also involved symbolism.
Knight had Joker (theatricality) and Two-Face (dual identities). Both also involved madness.
The next one will have Riddler (intelligence) and Harley (obsession). Both also involve a certain "look-at-me" mentality.

Like I say, it's surely been pointed out before. But when it happens, I totally called it.

(Or alternatively the series will go off on a complete tangent and Man-Bat and Killer Moth will be the bad guys.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Psychoville is brilliant

A friend lent me the DVD and I finished watching it earlier today and it's brilliant

And they're doing some more


Friday, January 01, 2010

A list of films that I saw in the year 2009 and brief opinions on same

And you can't say fairer than that.


Good solid family fantasy in the Never Ending Story/Willow/other such '80s movies mould - not amazing, but decent entertainment. Also I read the book a few months later and the film's actually better. Worth a watch to see Andy Serkis really enjoy saying the phrase "duct tape".


Covered way back when - basically, not bad. A bit too beholden to the comic sometimes, but probably as good a movie as you could make out of the material without incurring too much fanboy wrath. Top marks to Billy Crudup, who essayed what must be one of the hardest roles in the history of everything brilliantly.

Let the Right One In

Excellent. Spooky, thoughtful, tender and atmospheric. And again, better than the book (although the fact that the original author wrote the screenplay probably helped there). A stunning pair of performances from the young leads.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

I basically only went to see this as an X-fan, expecting it to be fairly dire and SUPER-SERIOUS AND ANGSTY. Imagine my surprise and delight that everyone was more interested in being shamelessly over-the-top and silly. And did it have a bit where Hugh Jackman walked away from an explosion in slow motion? Yes, it did have a bit where Hugh Jackman walked away from an explosion in slow motion!


Blimey, but this was a feast for the eyeballs. Being the first (and thus far, only) full-length film I've seen in 3D probably helped, but I kept having these moments where I'd admire a background detail then think "Someone made that." The atmosphere is impeccable, the soundtrack astonishing. My initial feeling was that the story was a little too simplistic, but on reflection I considered that it was deliberately positioning itself as a traditional fairy tale. Rewatchings on DVD also helped me pinpoint a few extra subtleties I'd missed the first time round. Basically, what I am saying is that this is an excellent film.

Star Trek

God bless you, JJ. You remembered that blockbusters used to be fun. This relentlessly entertaining romp kept me fully entertained in the most straightforward sense from beginning to end. And it had the best haircuts for extras in the history of anything ever.

I've Loved You So Long

Okay, so this isn't a 2009 film but I saw it in a cinema (well, my local arts centre) in 2009 and I hadn't seen it before so it counts. Fantastic acting all round, it might have been in with a shot of my favourite film of the year but for the plot, which seemed to be saying "Ha! Shocked you there!" when it was pretty obvious what was being led up to. Still superb, though.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I found this passable enough when actually sitting in the cinema but upon reflection it was rubbish, wasn't it? Let's move on.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Otherwise known as David Yates Continues His Love Affair With The Colour Grey. Admittedly there was more point to the dour palette here than in Order of the Phoenix, but c'mon man. Anyway, it was all right in that special way that Harry Potter films have of being passable adaptations of books but fairly limp when it comes to being films in their own right.

(500) Days of Summer

Top stuff. Intelligently written and acted (top marks for protagonist Tom's descent into misery, where you feel bad for him but at the same time want to yell at him to stop being such a tit) with all sorts of brilliant inventive bits (the dance sequence, the split-screen party, the spoof of nouvelle vague that had me in absolute stitches). On a down note, I recognised several songs in the soundtrack but only own one of them, which means I'm not cool. Bah.

District 9

Very good, but not quite as good as the hype made out. An excellent performance from Sharlto Copley (who is apparently in the A-Team remake or something?) kept it grounded. Pun not really intended.


Excellent. Paul Bettany's central performance is surely worth an award nod or three, if not the awards themselves. Actually, everyone was fantastic in it. Some great sequences showing time-lapse nature, too.


Another slightly over-hyped entry - I felt that the comedy and drama were superlative, but the action/adventure sections seemed tacked on and could quite easily have been junked. A slight disappointment, but only very slight. Doug is probably the best character in all the films of the year, though.

In the Loop

An exquisitely sharp wit, remarkably depressing, pretty much a failure when it comes to actually creating believable characters. Probably not the point for this sort of movie, admittedly, but I always find it hard to warm to films where you can't sympathise with at least one person.


Another one that I wasn't expecting much out of - probably a few good cheap laughs, inventive zombie-splotting, the end. A very nice surprise to find a witty, well-rounded comedy that satisfied on every level and leaves me wishing they'd hurry up and release the DVD already.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

Yes, it got around Ledger's death smoothly, yes, it was very odd. And yes, surprisingly, Lily Cole gave a good performance. It did feel like a series of remarkable visual ideas searching for something more concrete, though.


Lovely look, good ideas, bit of a shame the script occasionally let it down. Not bad, but I imagine the short film that inspired it is probably better.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Now this was great. Witty, charming, imaginative, and, as noted, had a stop-motion Jarvis Cocker in it. The scene where Mr. Fox and Badger's arguement devolves into snarling and claw-waving was quite possibly the funniest scene of the year. Loved the "cuss" stuff, as well, which was far funnier than it probably should have been.

Where the Wild Things Are

What an odd film. It captured that arbitrary logic of many kids' stories (by which I mean both stories for kids and stories by kids) exquisitely, and the monsters were remarkable. A flawless performance by the wonderfully-named Max Records as Max, too. Overall, good not great; very memorable, though. But seriously, how did Spike Jonze ever convince the suits to stump up the cash?

So, best film of the year? Well, it's a toss-up between Let the Right One In and Coraline. And frankly, I can't make my mind up (it was originally Swedish vampires quite comfortably, but DVD rewatchings of girl meeting scary Freudian monster has seen my opinion of it rise, and I haven't got round to rewatching Right One yet). We'll call it a draw for now.