Monday, 31 May 2010

Rockstar Rides Again

Look at this blog, just look at it. TV shows everywhere. Chatting shit about comedians. WHERE ARE THE GAMES?!?! Call ourselves a games blog??? Well, we don't actually, but it's been a while since we chatted about some good old-fashioned games. And not many get as old-fashioned as the rootin' tootin' Red Dead Redemption. Come along Pilgrims...

Seeing as though most people in the UK can't even get a copy at the moment, I thought I best write a little somethin' somethin' about it. MAN, this game is good. I've just finished the game's story arc, and I reckon I've invested about 20-25 hours into it. I must say, I am impressed.

First of all, this is a true Rockstar game. Unashamed and unabashedly Rockstar. It's got all the same slightly-blocky-for-this-generation character models, exactly the same mission structure, and the same sort of gunplay Rockstar has honed over time. But this time, it feels good, and time has been invested to make it better than the sum of it's parts. The cinematics, which Rockstar have always pioneered, are some of the most impressive motion-capture stuff I've ever seen. It's starting to look real, like actually real, not like human movement, but humanacting. It's really fantastic to see, and really gets the mood going.

The main thing I've noticed when playing, is that this is the spiritual successor to Vice City. This is real-talk, badman GTA style. This is back-to-basics rudeboy shit. All the nonsense is gone. No going to the gym, no whinging mates asking to go bowling, no dates. This is straight-up guns and glory Spaghetti Western bizznizz. Indeed, by placing the story and the game in such a time, they've managed to cast aside all the baggage and minigames that were starting to weigh the GTA series down. This is a straight-up lads shooting fest. The girliest thing you can do is pick flowers, and that's often just a by-product of shooting animals in the face.

It seems that Rockstar had spent too much time trying to make a 'realistic' world in GTA IV, so much so that they actually succeeded. They made a world with hassle, with obligation, and with responsibilities. Blowing up shit in helicopters had to be put on hold, because your girlfriend wanted to go to the movies. With Red Dead, all that's stripped out, and what's left is an exhilerating, fast-paced all-action game, with it's cards clearly on the table.

Seriously, this game is lovely. A brilliantly executed, well-told story about the Wild West. Rockstar, you have indeed been Redeemed.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

LOST: Brapscallion

Ok, so LOST is all over. 6 years. 6 seasons. All done. It's been an incredible ride, and with the controversy the finale's currently courting, I thought it would only be right if some of us put our confused thoughts into some kind of order. Don't expect us to reveal mind-bending theories of excruciating dullness, or expect us to say things you may not be already thinking. But sharing helps, so we'd like to share with the group, and chat with you all about one of the greatest TV shows of modern times.

So, I was personally satisfied with the finale. I know a lot of the people weren't, but I thought it gave me the closure I needed after watching all 6 seasons. I think the reason I was satisfied was the emotional pay-off provided. I tried not to concentrate on the lack of science and 'answers', but instead concentrated on the characters themselves, and the peace they had at last found, and their ability to 'let go'. Indeed, I think this was an important theme in the show, almost a nod to the audience, and LOST's notoriously cult fans. If the characters themselves feel it's time to let go, then perhaps it's time for us to let go too. The rememberance scenes with each of the characters were genuinely touching, and were brilliantly done.

A lot of people were unhappy that a lot wasn't explained. Sure, we still don't really know about Dharma, but so what? Did you really want Abrams and Lindelof sat there in directors chairs, chatting for an hour about everything, Q&A style? I think a little bit of mystery is what drives LOST, and leaving stuff to speculation and debate is what's going to keep people guessing and thinking for years. Cop-Out? Maybe. But by doing this, they've kept it alive. How many times are you disappointed when you finally see the villain in a horror movie? Our imagination can create far scarier and more engaging things than anything on the screen.

So, what do I think happened? To describe what's going on is a task in itself, but I'll try and give my interpretation. The Island is based in the real world, and the people on there are alive. On the island, they are given a choice, a chance to redeem themselves for whatever shitty things they have done. The main characters do this, and are so absolved, and are released from purgatory, and allowed into 'heaven'.

On the island, Charlie redeemed himself, by being selfless,
and finding love, fatherhood and happiness.

The idea they all went together was for dramatic effect, and to provide a nice group shot at the end. Dharma and the group the smoke monster sides with at the start shows man's greed, and the constant lust for power. I think the show's lasting message is that no matter what we do, we aren't bad people, and always have a chance to change ourselves, for a better life.

I think the more people talk about it, the more they realise that perhaps not being given exact answers was a good thing. People are talking about LOST now more than ever. If you were expecting the sixth and final season to end with everything answered and no questions left to ask, then you haven't been watching LOST.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I'm watching the LOST finale now.

Lordy Lordy.

Views DEFINITELY to follow.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Retro Monday: Andy Kaufman

Ok, so this is going to take a little explaining. Since we started Retro Monday, our aim has been clear. To reminisce about all things retro, and to maybe bring to light some excellent stuff people may not have seen before. So, after recently renting the incredible film Man on the Moon, I thought why not talk about a person?!?! One of the greatest comedians of all time, Andy Kaufman.

Kaufman was a performer/actor prolific in the 70's and early 80's, Kaufman never thought of himself as a comedian, although often regarded as one. I'm not going to even begin to list everything he did. If you don't already know, wiki him. But here was a man who was truly incredible.

He 'punished' ignorance. Well-known for his Latka character in popular sitcom Taxi, when he toured his act, he would often get heckled to do it. If he felt the crowd demanded it too much, he'd read the entire novel 'The Great Gatsby' to the audience. This kind of off-the-wall thinking is what makes him stand out, and such an inspiring man. Even his obnoxious alter-ego Tony Clifton, a lounge singer with a bad temperment and a rude manner, was a sight to behold...

He was an absolute master of showmanship. Everything this man did, from so-real-it-hurt fights with WWF superstars, to taking an entire audience out for milk and cookies, this man was unique. He died in 1984, but even that is shrouded in controversy, with many claiming he's still not dead, having instead pulled the greatest prank of all.

If you haven't seen it yet, Jim Carrey plays Kaufman in the film Man on the Moon, and it is excellent. I implore you to watch it, as it does more to explain Kaufman's brilliance more than my clumsy words can. If you need further convincing, check out the trailer

"T'ank you veddy much"

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Skate 3: Final Thoughts

Okay, so after almost a week with the game, and with some achievements scored and boards flipped, I feel like I can say sommert that makes some kind of sense. Haha, making sense, that's the aim, but let's see!

So the game itself is actually very similar to Skate 2. All the same frameworks are in there, the same challenges, the same attitude, and the same vibe. So much so, it feels somewhat more like an add-on pack, than a new game. A few new areas, a new trick, and some new challenges- 1200 ms points, and we're done. But strangely, I still don't feel cheated.

Skate 3 is an excellent excercise in fun and compulsive gaming. I don't think I've ever played a game in which I've been so satisfied with the idea of repetition. If I find a particular rail or stair gap I really enjoy hitting, I'll set my track marker down, and hit the spot over and over and over and over and over. Just like it's predecessor, this game can only survive on it's terrain. A good skate game is all about the level design. And I'm pleased to say that here we have clever, flowing areas, with all the fun of previous spots from previous games.

After some serious thought, I've reached the conclusion that yes, it is Skate 2.5. But, to be honest, anyone buying this game fully knows this, and accepts it. I was under no illusion that this game would be anything but, but I love it for it. No ridiculous Tony Hawk's style progression. No 1080 spins off a kerb, just the same honest gameplay, with some inspired new parks and areas, and new challenges to tackle.

If it ain't broke, then it soon will be when you
start doing them Hall of Meat challenges.

Darksiders The Force...

I'm normally really positive with my critique. Say the bad things, then mention the good. Mention the game's shortcomings, but also suggest how it could improve, and how it could be something brilliant. Basically a school report. But christ, Darksiders is APPALLING.

For a game with such enticing subject matter, they manage to make it so, so bland. The game is all about killing and collecting souls, but collecting all the souls in the world couldn't help this game acquire its own. It feels like such a clone, such a drawn-out obvious attempt at parting day-one purchasers and gullible impulse-buyers from money that could be spent on other, more heartfelt games.

Seriously, this is dire. This game came out the same day as Bayonetta, and for all intensive purposes, they might as well of come out in different dimensions. It's a good job I only rented this game, as it makes my Xbox cry.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Please Dismantling The Radio

The best things in life are free, they say, and sometimes you stumble across a little indie flash number that is just that. Today I had the pleasure of spending a few hours playing the Dismantlement series of games from - a nice little series of mind games in which you have to dismantle a series of objects using only a screwdriver and puzzle solving skills.

With this in mind, the game is known (cleverly enough) as "Dismantlement".

The principle is simple, solve the puzzles to be able to remove parts of the object, which in turn allow you to remove other parts, until you find the surprise the fiendish object maker has left behind in the middle of the thing. There are currently (to the best of my knowledge) five of these games, and they're reminiscent of the old room escape puzzles (which also had me totally hooked).

The first four have proved challenging enough to be entertaining, but all soluble in a reasonable time frame, and really classify as pleasant distractions, just keeping your brain ticking over - the kind of puzzle you can have a go at when you're trying to solve a real problem and it and it puts the solving of that real problem into a co-processor - so you can get your brain working on this and suddenly EUREKA you've come up with the answer to the thing you're distracting yourself from. Here they are:

Alarm Clock
Tea Canister

The final one, however, The Fan. This has got me tearing my hair out. I bet it's actually really simple and when I crack it I'll be kicking myself. Until then, I'll have to find ANOTHER fiendish puzzle so I can drop THIS one into co-processor mode ;)

The Fan

Anyways, in summary, this is a nice lightweight way to while away an idle half hour, some less, some more. The gaming equivalent of grabbing a sudoku book for a long train journey, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. Give it a go, it's strangely peaceful, and you'll be pleased with yourself every time you finish one.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Retro Monday: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (PS1)

Now, HERE is a game...

A game I have sunk absolutely countless hours into, and the finest skating game ever crafter by man. A true masterpiece, THPS2 set the benchmark for all skating games to ever be judged by.

The original burst onto the scene and left people shocked, and just showed how exciting the formula could be. But it had flaws. It's trick book was a little basic, and it lacked features. After it became a smash hit, Mr Hawk came back strong in 2000, with this epic MONSTER of a game. Seriously, everything you've ever played in a skating game pretty much came from here.

10 years old, this game, but just look at the stuff it had in it. Create-a-skater, create-a-skatepark, Liscensed merch, real locations, the game really did carve the way for the skating sim (and yes, that pun was fully intentional). Put it this way, Skate 3 has only just implemented the Darkslide. Mr Hawk slapped this in 10 years ago, as Rodney Mullen's special move.

One thing games like this absolutely THRIVE on is level design, and oh boy, this game was dripping in diversity. All the levels had lovely unique feels. From Venice Beach, to the Bull Ring in Spain, to countless personal hours being sank into the now infamous School level, and the Ventura skatepark. This was a game that was clearly a game to be absolutely hammered, to be practised and cherished, and played to death. Literally. I reckon I'll be playing this game until my last days. I still play the original PS1 game. That and Star Wars beat-em-up Master of Teras Kasi is the only reason I have my PS2. Well them and Gitaroo Man, but that's for another time.

And the really good news? There is a version available for the iPhone. I found this out today, and nearly wet myself with excitement. The idea of playing THPS2 on the bus is possibly the best thing since I found out you can cook waffles in the toaster. Currently out only in America, I would hope to expect a UK iTunes release sooooon.

Back when Tony hadn't signed a 20-year deal with Activision to make skate games for ever, back when the franchise wasn't a joke, this really is a piece of gaming history. Ask anyone who owned a copy, and they'll tell you, this was a piece of pure joy, the definition of fun and playability. N64 owners always had Mario to tease you with, always chatting shit about fun factor, but with a copy of THPS2 in your hand, all that melted away.

Oh, and you can play as SPIDERMAN. End of discussion...

Friday, 14 May 2010

Skate 3: First Impressions

Due to illness, I've been able to play Skate 3 all day. Now I know what you're thinking, how convenient! But to be honest, if I was going to do that, I would of had some initiative and waited a week until Red Dead Redemption comes out to skive. But alas, I'm properly ill. So inbetween boshing some Paracetamols and swigging Orange Juice, I've been getting to grips with Skate 3. And it's good. But is it any good? Well, yes, but that's not the issue...

The problem is, is that I feel the franchise is suffering from Tony Hawks syndrome. With games like this, it gets difficult to improve upon them, and add new features which genuinely complement the game. Skate 2 was such an incredible game, that this just feels like an add-on pack, rather than a game. The challenges are different, but the create-a-brand aspect seems tacked-on, and a rather weak aspect.

I'm still having a lot of fun with it, and it's still the Skate we know and love, but I'm unsure as to whether it's made the same progress Skate 2 did over the original. I'll take some more drugs, and get cracking to bring you a verdict. Radical, dude.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Dark and delicious Part 1 - The Walking Dead

Hey gang, the good Dr here. I know it's been a long time since I properly posted anything (a couple of months i think) but I had my reasons. I wasn't abandoning you; please don't cry, no I had some 'real life' stuffs to sort and I'm pleased to say I'm getting back on track again. Yippee !!

You'll remember waaaaayyy back in march i promised you some graphic novel goodness, so I'm here today to serve up a slice of that awesome Zombie pie also known as 'The walking Dead.'

So, as old time mothers would say - 'are you sitting comfortably, then we'll begin'.

The walking Dead is the brain child of Mr Robert Kirkman ( Invincible) and artist Tony Moore ( later replaced by Charlie Adlard around issue #7.) It started out life back in 2003 and follows the travels of a group of human survivors abandoned during a Zombie apocalypse. Fighting and fending for themselves in a world stricken with the walking dead. Now I love a great zombie story, Romero's '...of the Dead' series is a classic and will always be in my eyes the benchmark of true catastrophic story telling. This is why I love these books so much, it's an incredible journey that you will share with this rag-tag bunch of outcasts, families, fighters and freaks.

Lets have a look at 1 of the key characters ( and don't worry I'll try not to spoil anything for you)

First up we have one of the strongest leads in anything I've ever read before - Rick Grimes - a small town police officer from Kentucky. The linchpin in most of the stories that take place. He takes a wild unpredictable pure gut wrenching roller coaster ride. A real head-fuck!
At the very beginning of issue #1 he is in a coma, hospitalized while the devastation outside is taking place. This is a great starting point for the book because there is no back story to the apocalypse, several issues in some characters are introduced over different periods of time and explain their spin on what they think the origins are. But nothing remains concrete. Rick, his family and the others are forced to survive by any means necessary, and I do mean by ANY MEANS possible, Very Grim, you'll see...

The other main character(s) in the books are of course the Zombies themselves, standard Romero classic shufflers. Traditional tireless, flesh craving undead. None of this super pumped-up 28 Days later nonsense, this doesn't include Charlie Brooker's Dead-Set 'cos I love him. Rick and the gang have had several ways to describe them throughout it's ongoing course but I won't tell you what they are as it could give away story arcs. The one thing i can tell you as any self assured Zombie fan can say is that destroying the brain works. But you could find other ways to slow them down or trick them, just as the gang do here.

Again I won't go into much detail as it will spoil it for those who haven't read through this masterpiece yet.
There are many other characters, with many different arcs running through them all. Shane, Tyreese, Glenn, Alice, The Governor. The best part of The walking dead for me wasn't the gore or the Zombies, it was the attachment to the characters.
It is so well written that I feel genuine emotion for these black and white people on paper, it's a testament to Kirkman's writing ( I feel the same about Invincible.) To watch them struggle, to cry, to tear chunks out of each other, I'm with them on the harrowing journey. Every step of the way you want things to work out, you wish things where different for them. In fact there are a few sections were I nearly welled up and there is 1 panel in particular that made a friend of mine stop reading it. The whole book !!. He couldn't handle the raw bleak truth. See if you can spot it ! Of course I will never tell you which bit that's for you to read and discover for yourself.
I picked up The Walking Dead very late into its time on the shop shelf, I steamed through #1-69 in 3 days and picked up the 2 latest issues just after that.
Amazing reading, so highly recommended. Pick them up now in trade paper back form and monster through them, I guarantee you an emotional journey.

Before I leave you in peace I just wanted to add that the American network AMC ( the channel behind Madmen and the superb Breaking bad) have picked up the rights to produce a live action Walking Dead that weirdly enough actually starts shooting this Saturday 15 may to have an air time this October in the U.S. 'Shawshank Redemption' and 'Green Mile' director Frank Darabont is on board to adapt the script, direct and produce the show, with him the writer of 'The Shield' and the amazing 'Dexter' Charles H. Eglee.. And finally anyone remember the old BBC show 'This Life' well Egg played by Andrew Lincoln is going to be stepping into Rick's shoes for the role. Fair enough !!

The Walking Dead #1-#71 available in stores or online. #72 should be out this month.
Please read, enjoy and digest the rawness.

official site

The good Dr Sanchez.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

GainBoy Gets ART No.2

The second in this amazing series. I don't really want to ruin these amazing pictures with my crappy words, so just click on it to make it bigger, and APPRECIATE...

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Retro Monday: Tekken (PS1)

Now here's a little curiosity for this fine monday, as I attempt to talk about a game I never actuallly owned. In fact, I never even owned the Playstation console on which to play it on. Today, I shall be attempting to explain all this, as we discuss Tekken...

This, in my memory, was a landmark game. I remember it so vividly, as it was one of the times I saw the future, right in front of me. My older cousin travelled up from the midlands, clutching a Playstation, desperate to show anyone who would watch this new console he had. He was one of the early adopters of the new console race, and managed to pick one up from Birmingham, as well as a few games.

Now, what's important here is context. At the time I had a Super Nintendo. Whilst the SNES was a dream machine, and provided me with countless hours of entertainment, the step-up to PSX was pretty monumental. When my cousin fired up the Playstation at our house for the first time, the first game he popped in was Tekken, and it was ASTOUNDING...

This game looked GORGEOUS. And it was 3D! A luxury often only glimpsed in arcades, here was an arcade system in the home. Tekken's look was vibrant, distinctive and very different from anything seen before. As a testament to how genuinely astounding this game was, I even remember the first match I ever saw. It was Law against Jack, and the difference in size of both characters, and the incredible fluidity of the graphics, and how solid it felt. 3d gaming was a very new idea, and one that was tetchy at the best of times. But Namco absolutely nailed it with Tekken, proving the technology could be utilised in awesome ways.

Ever since, Tekken has been going from strength to strength. Now on Tekken 6, and with a film in the works, Tekken is a fighting franchise with a serious fanbase, and a brilliant range of characters. None of this could be possible though without the immense groundwork laid down by the original, and nothing will quite affect me the same as the first time I watched a giant army man fighting Bruce Lee Cosplayer. Mmmmmm, CHICKEN!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Difficulty: EASY

Games are becoming easier, or so I keep being told. In the age of virtually every demographic playing Video Games, the notion and idea of difficulty in games has been an issue that has been leaping to the forefront of many discussions. Indeed, with the advent of achievements and trophies, the subject has become more apparent than ever, with players being awarded from embracing the higher difficulty levels. I find this subject fascinating, as people tend to have wildly differing views when it comes to difficulty, and what's right.

Trials HD. The closest you can come to self-harm with
a controller in your hand. Basically Motocross for
the NES, but with all the fun taken out.

Now, personally, I tend to play games on an easier setting. Call it wimping out, tell me I'm not enjoying the 'true' experience, but I enjoy it. I enjoy narrative in games, and with a limited time to play games now I'm a grown-up, I like to rattle through games, and not be stuck on sections to the point of frustration. I don't personally enjoy the idea of grinding heavily, or memorising enemy patterns and really crawling through a game. I'm fully aware that this kind of sadistic impulse gets some people well in the mood, but not me. I rely on the story of a game, and love to play through it, enjoying the story, almost like a movie.

I also like to feel like a bad-ass when playing games. When playing God of War 3, I wanted to feel like the son of Zeus, rather than some lackey who can't even handle a little Hippogriff. I wanna take down that bitch straight away, and breathe fire from my lungs whilst doing it. On an easier setting, the true boss battles are still challenging, but I can concentrate on dealing with the footsoldiers in creative ways, rather than shitting myself when something trivial comes along.

If Kratos is having trouble kicking a few dogs about,
How's he gonna react when Zeus shows up?

The catalyst for this little ramble was Bayonetta. I instinctly turned the difficulty down to 'easy' when I started playing. It's a rental, and I want to breeze through it, so I turned it down. Part way through the game, I decided that for a change, I'd try it on 'normal', to see what I was missing, as I thought to myself that maybe I would appreciate the challenging aspect, and maybe I was wrong.

Seriously, I lasted about 5 minutes until I got to a miniboss. After dying about 12 times, I turned the difficulty back down. The boss was so unforgiving, so relentless in it's apparent unfairness that it just baffled me as to how this curve of difficulty was so obviously out-of-wack. Why was it so crushingly hard? On normal? Who has the time these days to play the same boss over and over again? Who gets pleasure out of this?

I think it's such an out-of-date idea. Originally, the difficulty of games was artificially inflated due to the restrictions on the machines. A NES or a Master System cartridge didn't have a great deal of memory, so they couldn't offer a huge amount of gameplay. They couldn't hold a great deal of anything really. Games were shorter due to this and budget restrictions, yet more pressure was put on them to be value for money. Because of this, difficulty was ramped up artificially, making some games absolutely nails, with the worst offenders often being the cheaper end of the retail spectrum.

Notoriously difficult, The Mega Man series of games
had players scratching their eyes out on a regular basis.

So, in the days of 100+hour games, Fully immersive stories with actual plots and twists worthy of Hollywood, who wants to break the illusion by dying a thousand times just to get through that awkward choke point with the bad guys with grenades? Not me.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Just a quickie, but a goodie

Hello strangers, I haven't done this in a while so I'm posting up this tasty little no. via the always informative IGN. Top 100 videogame villians. It has only just been posted as they are only on 100-90, but I would recommend sticking with it through to the presigious number 1 spot.

Anyways, it was a short and sweet post tonight.
Be back in full swing soon,

Dr Sanchez

Check the link for the main page -

May the 4th...

Has anyone else just had a day full of half-arsed Star Wars Facebook jokes? Very good guys, very good.

It inspired me to share something I recently found, Star Wars: Revisited. Ridiculous fanboy Adywan has re-edited the ENTIRE first film, A New Hope. The list of touch-ups is absolutely mental, and has tweaked and rejigged the 2004 special edition, into one of absolute perfection. Remember the Death Star reveal scene? Well check this out. Star Destroyers, a planet below, this shot now looks INCREDIBLE:

Are you sick of Tattoine only having 2 moons, and not 3? Are you constantly annoyed that R2D2 isn't the right colour in some scenes? Well worry not mental fanboy, your prayers have been answered! In all seriousness, this edit is fantastic. Little subtle touches and better editing means the film is snappier, more impressive, and subtly more involving.

A good example of just how different and, in my humble opinion, better this edit is to watch the clip, with the Death Star attack of both versions, for comparison:

Adywan is currently re-doing Empire, and this time he's actually shooting his own scenes. I couldn't be more excited, and I see this as the definitive Star Wars experience. May the 4th indeed.

If you wish to know more about the edit, and the list of stuff that Adywan's done is here. You can also watch the whole edit on Youtube if you have the patience, or do some digging and download the actual edit, if you play detective well enough. My copy is being sent to me from a friend, and I can't wait to see it.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Difficulty: MEDIUM

So I'm getting my thoughs out here first, as Brap's been talking about it recently. To save those people that skim the article and look at the pretty pictures some time:


So on with rationale. If you're new to games then yes, playing on easy is understandable. But I'm willing to bet anyone reading this has played their fair share of games, yes? If you're still playing on easy then where is the challenge? Where is the satisfaction of completing something when the game practically feeds it to you? A lot of games that I've played recently have a great depth to them, much more than would appear from first glance. For example, I recently went back to finish Dead Space, and stumbled upon a section that was excruciatingly tough to get by, I died over and over again, but I was determined to get through it. So I reloaded that save and stopped to survey the area, to try to plan out what to do before I flip the switch that brings on the shambling, leaping, exploding horde. Then I looked up, and out of a window. The view was unbelieavable, and while it wasn't my first thought, I would suggest to you: How many people that played the game on easy have seen that same view?

Now maybe you've read up to here and you're thinking, "If you want a challenge, play it on Hard you wuss!". The difference here is that whilst I like to get my money's worth, and I like to enjoy everything there is to offer, I have no intention of sitting through the same section until sticking forks in my eyes seems a reasonable alternative to playing. Maybe I'm just not good enough, but until console developers realise that action games require mouse and keyboard to work properly, I'm sticking to medium.

Now throw into the mix games that don't give you the option of difficulty settings. For example, the Grand Theft Auto series (if I'm wrong on this one, please forgive me) has been without a difficulty select since it's creation. Rather than letting you pick, it builds up pace by starting you out with easy missions and then goes on to massive sprawling missions that can easily go very, very wrong. This kind of progression makes it accessible to everyone, providing a simple introduction to game mechanics, and steadily building up the challenge to give that feeling of satisfaction and air-punching glory when completing that tough mission.

I think the most important factor when forwarding my case in favour of playing on medium difficulty is this; Medium difficulty puts the settings for the game at how the developers intended it, the level at which it should be benchmarked at. If you're playing at a different difficulty, could it be said that you're not experiencing the game in the way it was intended to be?


GainBoy Gets ART

I've been wanting to do something like this for a while. GainBoy has hooked up with an incredibly talented poster artist by the name of Heartbox, to produce a series of posters advertising our little site, and looking darn cool whilst doing so.

We hope you'll enjoy them. They look AMAZING. Here's the first one:

To enjoy it in it's full glory, check it out here.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Retro Monday: Curb Your Enthusiasm (TV)

Ok, so the first series was aired in 2000, so that makes it 10 years old. Retro. So SHADDAP if you have a problem, I want to gush about this TV show.

I'm ashamed to say that I've recently seen it for the first time. Numerous friends, colleagues and pretty much everyone I've met whose opinion I respect has told me to watch Mr. David, and for some reason I ignored them all. And you know something? I'm kind of glad I did. I now have 7 series to watch, all sat here on DVD, and I feel like a spoilt child at Christmas. I'm now on season 3, and I reckon I've learnt enough to be able to offer some humble perspective on the delightful car-crash that it is.

This really is magnificence. It's such a weird formula, basically a 30-minute joke, with small jokes that build up to a devastating punchline. And the best thing is, personally, that I don't actually see them coming. Too many comedy shows I've seen are always far too clumsy in the set-up, so the payoff is painfully obvious. After 3 series, I still don't see the set-ups coming. And it's FANTASTIC. Everything from getting busted by Korean parking attendants, to getting 'finished off' by a shifty masseuse, the set-ups and payoffs in this show are so well-crafted and beautifully orchestrated, it's an absolute pleasure to watch Mr David's world come crumbling down around him.

And we come on to the literal star of the show. It just wouldn't work without Larry...

"I'll of those vanilla bullshit things.
You know what I'm talking about, that vanilla
bullshit thing you do. Frappa, Cappa, Whatever."

Even at his most cynical and offensive, Larry David isn't a bad guy. He's just a man caught up in a world he doesn't quite understand. With every bumbling mistake he makes, you can see he genuinely doesn't mean it, making it all the more brilliant to watch. There's just something oh-so-satisfying about watching a man so desperate just for things to go his way, surviving in a world where nothing does.

His deadpannery is just sublime. Such a well-delivered performance, although a large part of me just believes this to be as close to the real-life Larry David as to bear no difference. He's genuinely funny, and although at times mean-spirited, his motives always seem honest, and driven by a reason. It's no wonder that although he always lands himself in ludicrous situations, everyone ends up seeing some Larry in themselves.

After all this time of ignoring the show, I am now fully converted. It's easy to see why Ricky Gervais sees him as a 'Genius', hell he practically created Gervais' act for him. To think this show is this old is amazing. What a guy. Bring on the next 5 series!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Bayonetta: First Impressions

I got this from my Lovefilm account, as I didn't think I would like it, and was originally unimpressed with the demo. That being said, I decided to give it a chance, based on what my friends' experiences and anecdotes of the game. I'm about 2-3 hours in, and I must say, I'm pretty disappointed.

It just seems like a joke that I don't get.

It's repetitive, silly to the point of dullness, and just generally boring. One button bashing, Stephen Hawking would rule at this game. The dodging mechanic isn't bad, but the combat is far too fast, far too boring and skill-less. It doesn't feel like I'm particularly doing anything, rather just smashing buttons.

The soundtrack is also ridiculous. Not to the point of ironic delight, just to the point of it being dirge. So much so, I turned it off after about 30 minutes of grim realisation, and put on some hardcore metal. I hate Metal, but it seems to fit in well. The smooth jazz tones may work in Marvel vs Capcom, but here it just drags, and turns the game into an out-of-place oddity.

After playing God of War III, this is a big step down. Where God of War had panache and stylish brutality, this replaces these with OTT weird angel-looking things, and a plot that makes no fucking sense. I'm going to keep playing, but not for much longer.