Thursday, 10 November 2011

Nothing to read? Why not buy my book! (And other plugs)

Good morning blog-readers (if anyone still reads this anymore!) I just wanted to plug my book which is now (finally) available to order online!

This link will lead you straight to my Lulu store where you will be able to order it - it will be available on Amazon too at a future date, but it does take them a while to get that sorted out...

Sorry for the lack of blog lately - I've been a very busy man. I hope to change that soon

Oh, and one last plug - The ever-wonderful Neety is adding middle names for charity, and there's only a couple of weeks to go until the deadline (Nov 30th) so please dig deep and suggest ideas! Only £1 per name!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Nintendo at E3

Now I'm an avid gamer. I always have been, and Nintendo has long been my console manufacturer of choice. (That is not to say that I dislike others, Neety and I own 15 in total, ranging from an XBOX 360 right back to an original Game Boy and the SNES. I even own a Sega Saturn, oh yes I do.) Therefore, instead of just catching up on the write up of their E3 conference, as I did with Microsoft and Sony, I thought that I'd watch Nintendo's live.

And before you ask, hell yes it was worth it.

Starting a few minutes late, we were taken on a ride through Nintendo's plans for the next year and beyond by the head honchos, most notably Miyamoto, Iwata-San and Reggie.

They began by addressing the fact that it is the 25th anniversary of the Zelda series. Which doesn't excite me massively. I own a few of them, and I appreciate they are good games, but they've never really been my cup of tea. Still, the announcement of releases for Skyward Sword on Wii and Links Awakening and 4 Swords on the eShop is good news.

And then.... we are teased with a little discussion of the new console, before we are left hanging on with that information, and Reggie comes to discuss the 3DS with us.

Just before we go any further, I would like to throw my hat into the endless mobius strip of discussion that the internet has been providing with regards to the 3DS. There seems to be a lot of discussion about whether it has had "healthy" launch sales, or if it is a disaster. Some people are defending it saying that in the launch window it has sold more than the original DS has - which sounds about right, but I can't be bothered to go and check those facts. My reaction to it is as follows: I love the 3DS and can't wait to get one, even if the games out so far are not must-have's just yet.

And speaking of the must-have's, Reggie ran us through five games in that category which will be released this year:

STARFOX 64 3D - There's not much I can say about this. I owned Starwing on SNES (sadly I don't own it any more, due to an incident with a bottle of Coke and my bedroom floor when I was 13 years old. No I'm not bitter about it, I just DON'T WISH TO DISCUSS IT ANY FURTHER!) which I loved, and have never played the N64 version, of which this is a port. Looks fun though.

KID ICARUS: UPRISING - This has been shown around since E3 last year, and consequentially, while it does look like a lot of fun (even if it seems to suffer from massively over-acting voice actors), I've seen a lot of screenshots and videos, and this didn't offer much new.

MARIOKART 3DS - After watching this trailer? My response was "HELL YEAH." It's Mariokart. In 3D. With underwater courses and customisable Karts. Oh, and hang gliders. I'm in!

SUPER MARIO 3D - A seeming cross between Super Mario 64, Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros? I'm all over that shit. Plus, the raccoon suit returns! (Sorry, the Tanooki suit). Very, very hyped about this.

And the big surprise? Luigi's Mansion 2. On 3DS. At the point this was mentioned, my ever wonderful Neety (who, as I type this, is writing her own E3 blog for femme gamer) squealed in excitement as she is a huge fan of the original. I enjoyed the original a lot too, so this is good news for all concerned.

And then a trailer montage of forthcoming 3DS games - Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D (YAYY!), Mario & Sonic at the 2012 Olympics (No interest for me whatsoever. Seriously, why have they not made the Mario V Sonic platformer we all want to see?), Ace Combat 3D (Planes. Flying. Looks pretty dull), Tetris (Brilliant but predictable), Cave Story 3D (Ah, Cave Story, allegedly an absolutely brilliant platformer. I found it incredibly dull) Resident Evil: Revelations (More Resi-action!), Driver: Renegade (Who keeps buying these games?), Pac-Man and Galaga (Looks colourful - no other insights on that one), Tekken 3D (Looks fun, but isn't the 3DS getting over-run with beat-em-ups? Street Fighter IV, DOA, Blazblue and now this?) and Metal Gear Solid 3. (No excitement here. Move along)

And then the moment we've been waiting for. The NEW CONSOLE!!! And it's called.....


Er... OK. I get why they wanted to keep the Wii branding, it is the most successful console in years... but still? That's the best they've got? I'd have preferred Wii2 to that! Never mind... I guess it means Sony's Playstation Vita will now not be the stupidest named console at this years E3!

Besides, it's not the name that matters is it? It's what it does. And apparently, the WiiU does... well... everything. It has a controller that looks like an iPad with buttons. Go ahead, click here and find out. I'll wait. (I would have embedded the picture in this blog, but Blogger made it too big and wouldn't let me amend the size and I can't be bothered to fight it right now.)

And then we were shown a video of how this allows a huge number of possibilities. Using it as an inventory screen for a game (as the pic above demonstrates), playing the game on the controllers screen while the TV is in use for something else, using the touchscreen as a controller in itself, utilising motion controls also, video chat, surf the net ... it seems to do everything.

And then, we get some talk from developers saying how much they love it and how great it'll be (of course they say that, it's a Nintendo video at the Nintendo conference!) and then a montage of games to show that WiiU is for everyone. And by everyone, what Nintendo means is "It's for everyone, but all the games we're showing are designed to win over the hardcore gamer, as they're the ones who have abandoned us and they're the only people who watch E3 things anyway."

So in short, it seems great, and I'm sure I shall buy one, and I think it has the smell of success around it. Why do I think that? Well I was texting my friend MiniNomi and I pointed out - "E3. New Nintendo Console. Wierd controller. Rubbish Name. It's like it's 2005 all over again...."

Who knows, if it worked for the Wii, then I'm sure it'll work for the WiiU. (Although the name is still rubbish.)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

One, Two, Trilogy....

I begin this blog as I have so many others by apologising for the distinct lack of action this page has seen recently. Other things have been going on this year, and my mind has been elsewhere.

That said, I've decided to dip my toe into the world of blogging again, and upon glancing through my blogger account I found a half-written article that I felt I should revive, as it has been on my computer for ages. (Although this article will probably bear remarkably little resemblance to that post as I am writing this one on my notepad on a particularly quiet day at work (Except obviously the version you are reading now has been typed up, so this is the version I have written in the future from my current point of view, but when I type this up the current will be the past, and the typing will be the present, but from your point of view it's in the past@$%Q($£!$$£-----------------------------------TEMPORAL ERROR--------------TIME=-1<45-----------------------------------------------------

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Trilogies.

(And yes, I know I hadn't mentioned trilogies at any point in the previous paragraph, but trust me, that's where I was heading before I got sidetracked with all the temporal confusion)

Something that annoys me a great deal in life, is the misuse of the word trilogy. Just because there are three films/books/games in a series, does not automatically make it a trilogy. In fact, describes a trilogy as:

"a series or group of three plays, novels, operas, etc., that,although individually complete, are
closely related in theme,sequence, or the like."

To me, the most important word in that sentence is related. So it's not just a case of them showcasing the same characters (in my opinion). To me, a trilogy should be a trio of stories that come together to tell one over-arching story (And no, this doesn't mean that are not watchable within their own right, simply that the total trilogy is greater than the sum of its parts.)

A quick search of amazon for the word trilogy (narrowed to the Film and TV section for the sake of this blog, as otherwise I start to get lots of make-up in the search...) returns 1,061 results. And an awful lot of these are not really trilogies. The Robocop trilogy, for example, is not a trio of linked films, it is a trio of films that have Robocop in them.

I would like to point out, at this time I am not here to argue the artistic merits of third films in series' (as we know most of them are rubbish) and I will only pick examples of films I have seen to support my argument.

The number one result is Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, which is no surprise since I am writing this the weekend the fourth film opens at the cinema, and that, to me is a proper trilogy. You can watch all three films individually, but for the most satisfying experience, you watch all three of them, and by the end the characters have reached a suitable conclusion. (Plus, Kiera Knightly ends up on an island with a sprog, far away from any future sequels!)

While scrolling down the list, a lot of those that I would consider not real trilogies are older films, from back in the day when you simply sequalised a film by putting the same character(s) in a new situation (Naked Gun, Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop, Mad Max) or two older films and then a more modern addition to the canon, which simply takes one element of the previous films (Obvious example here is the Predators Trilogy box-set. Which contains Predator (the original), Predator 2 (The shitty sequel, only really noticeable for having an alien skull on board the Predators ship, which began the years of cross-pollination between the franchises) and then Predators (The most recent entry from a couple of years ago, which apart from the titular alien has bugger all to do with the other two))

Am I arguing that artistically, real trilogies are better than fake ones? Not at all - I just wish that there would be some differentiation between the two. And don't get me started on trilogy sets that only exist because they can, even though there are more films in the series.... (There's a box set called the Omen trilogy on here, and I'm pretty sure there's four films in that series (not including the remake)). But it could be worse, at least they don't use the word quadrilogy....

Thursday, 7 April 2011


This week I lost one of my best friends, who was taken from us too soon. Below are the words I wrote for his funeral:

About 12 years ago, Gavin took me to one side and told me that he was going to leave the youth service. This depressed me momentarily until his next sentence, which was “Instead, I’m just going to do shows on my own. Want to help?”

And that’s how Maverick started. Gavin had the vision, and I was the helper. And I quickly learnt that no matter how crazy his ideas, we’d achieve them. Staging Macbeth on a chessboard? Done. Casting, rehearsing and performing a show in a week? Done. Persuading a school that he, I, James, Matt and Brendan were a respectable theatre in education group? Done.

Over the next few years we repeatedly pushed people off Rockley pier in the name of art, painted 219 A3 playing cards to decorate a set with, acquired a surfboard from the tip and wrote, directed and produced more shows than I can possibly remember.

But while he was a man brimming over with artistic ideas, he never lost sight of the real reason behind Maverick. It was somewhere to go for the kids. Didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, what your circumstances, if you came along and were enthusiastic, you were instantly accepted.

And that just highlights who he was. A wonderful, caring and artistic person, who had the best track record I’ve ever known at trying to please everyone at once, and understood children’s theatre better than anyone I’ve ever met,. You can see that just by looking at the scripts, plays and stories that he wrote. Incidentally, people always thought that Gavin wrote scripts slowly. Not true. He wrote very quickly, it’s just he always avoided starting to write until the last possible moment.

I could talk about Gavin and Maverick forever. Without him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I’m sure that many of you wouldn’t either. He was one of my closest friends, and I shall miss him beyond belief.

To conclude, I thought I’d quote some of his own lyrics, with a small adjustment made to fit the situation (as he was prone to do himself.)

This is the Story
How one man changed our lives
Never looking for Glory
One man, One fedora
A legend that thrives.

Just remember, the teller may be gone, but the stories that he tells will forever live on.

Thanks Gav. We'll miss you.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

DVDs make me angry...

We've made it to 2011. That's right, a year that I always assumed would only ever exist as a Best Before Date on tinned goods is now here.And do you know what? I even thought about doing a blog about New Years Resolutions, in line with just about everyone on the internet. But then, this evening, I saw something that made me much angrier than stupid New Years resolutions.

Tonight, I watched Sex and the City 2 on DVD. No, that's not the thing that made me angry, as while it's not necessarily my sort of film, I managed to sit through it making a few silly and somewhat rude comments (to see the best of these, look for the hashtag #manvssatc on Twitter). No, what made me angry was after we'd watched the film, my lovely Neety wanted to put the special features on.

I feel I need to clarify this. The action of putting the special features on isn't what made me angry. What made me mildly annoyed firstly, was that the 'Special Features' Disc only has five featurettes on, which made me wonder why they couldn't just put it on the first disc (the answer, of course, being that then they can advertise it as a Two-Disc Special Edition), but again, I ignored this.

And then, the killer moment. When Neety clicked on the second featurette she wanted to watch, an advert for all the other Sex and the City DVDs played before the feature started. Yes, that's right, an advert was glued onto the front of the feature.

That's a step too far for me. I accept that we get trailers and adverts on DVDs when we first put them in (which you can always traditionally skip by pressing the menu button) and I know that these often don't seem to match up very well with the main feature. (Case in point is the SATC2 DVD which has a trailer for Cats and Dogs: The revenge of Kitty Galore on it. Because that will obviously appeal to the same people who'd watch Sex and the City....) And I expect special features for a film to contain clips from other films/shows in the franchise just to remind you of the bits you've forgotten. I even expect to see that incredibly annoying un-skippable anti-piracy advert on the front of the DVD that you have bought legally. (Interestingly, that advert is very rarely on pirated DVDs so I'm told, so doesn't that make the thing pointless in itself?) But to force you to sit through an advert when trying to watch a special feature on a DVD you've paid for? That's just rude.

Take TV for example. Yes, we now have the 'credit squeeze', where the end credits for the program you have just enjoyed are squashed to one side so that the irritating continuity announcer can remind you what is coming up next. But at least that's at the end, so you can ignore it or turn it off. But I take exception to being forced to watch adverts on a DVD I've paid for.

Can you imagine what it'd be like in real life if that was the situation. If whenever you wanted to see, speak to or engage with anyone, they would stop and advertise other things that they thought you might want, based on the opening line of conversation you had fed to them? No-one would stand for it. So why do we stand for it on DVDs?

I don't think we should. I think we should make a stand. I'm going to rise up and speak to producers of DVDs and tell them that this type of direct marketing just isn't cricket. And if that this all continues then I shall not be buying any more DVDs....

.... Oh who am I kidding. I'm not going to boycott anyone. This isn't going to stop me buying DVDs. (It's lack of money and storage space that does that!). In fact the entire result of this rant will simply be that you all read it and judge me for over-recating to the whole situation.

Ah well, ranting is what the internet is for, right?