A collection of reviews that can be written by anypony! Generally it's done and overseen by Tyro The Fox but anypony is welcome to write up an article reviewing anything they like. Games, movies, Youtube videos, poetry, Fan Fiction, almost anything.

You could do an article on a brick, I suppose, but I can't vouch for anyone being fascinated by it.

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I'm still figuring everything out but I will happily add you to the Blogs permission list or post the article under your name if you drop me a PM or at leatherboundbookreviews@gmail.com.
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  1. [​IMG]
    [size=+1]Super Smash Bros for 3DS Demo[/size]​

    Firstly, thank you Hybrid for the demo code. That was wonderful of you!

    Super Smash Bros is looking pretty good. Here's a few quick thoughts

    I mean, Mr Sakurai probably has a good idea for what he's doing by now but it probably needs a little reassurance. And yeah! This demo is pretty decent and a good prelude to the new, subtitle-less Smash Bros.

    OK, so, this is just the 3DS version. Even so, it runs fantastically, looks lovely and, well...The 3DS is effectively a portable Wii at this point. It's not a surprise that it looks good. Think 'Mini-Brawl' and you're not very far off, OK? It runs at 60 fps, the 3D looks neat, the characters all look great and the environments are all gorgeous looking. I cannot comment on any other than 'Battlefield' but everything else looks great.

    So, let's look at what I can comment on.

    The five characters I can play as are Mario, Link, Pikachu, Mega Man and The Villager.

    Now, Mario, Like and Pikachu have been around since the first game. Talking about them is almost entirely pointless as every Smash Bros player knows how they play. Mario is the balanced brawler that was ruined in Brawl with the inclusion of F.L.U.D.D.

    Well, in my opinion, anyway. There might be some Mario loyalists out there that can make him work better than I can.

    Then there's Link, who its the versatile fighter that can find ins and outs for any fighter.

    Lastly, Pikachu, the fast, area-denial character that can chase you down and finish you off.

    All of them feel fine. Link feels a little speedier this time and F.L.U.D.D is no longer a long stream across the stage to feebly push players away. Either way, if you've played the game before, you know what they're like.

    The interesting thing is the new characters.

    Mega Man is an entirely projectile based fighter. Even more so than Samus Aran. After all, even she would backslap an attacker if they came too close but Mega Man's main attack is a short to mid range burst from his Buster Cannon. It doesn't cause any recoil either. So, Mega Man can run through an attacker and still cause damage without doing anything to them. Otherwise, he can easily bounce around the level, hopping and shooting. Mega Man's B moves are all based around his alternative powers too, predictably. He can throw a buzz saw, which is effectively a more powerful Buster Cannon shot with greater range. It's quick and has decent range, making it just as effective as a boomerang. His down B summons some sort of ring of leaves. It can be fired forwards to cause damage but I have no idea what exactly it is...

    Then there's his side B. This is a missile that fires forwards and will attach to an enemy. There's a second or two and boom! Damage. It seems to play into the idea of Mega Man attempting to keep his distance from the main scrap and pick characters off one by one.

    I have to admit, I like the Blue Bomber in this. He plays right into my play style as an avid Olimar player. Hopping around a player and leaving something else to deal damage other than my fists is second nature to me already so I'm pretty OK with it. Plus, a decent recovery move, tight movement and smash moves that have a decent range. Yes please! Mega Man already feels fantastic.

    His Smash is both flashy and pretty cool. I wasn't expecting Battle Network Mega Man to turn up...Weird, random but perfectly fine. I actually remember the anime fondly...

    The Villager is a little more...gimmicky, I want to say. However, he's effective, I'll give him that!

    The Villager has a variety of very fast and hard hitting moves. Heck, he even has a smash that can bury fighters in the ground! He's hardly a push over. Speaking of which, is down B is a three stage trap. You remember Snake's ability to lay mines and explosives in the ground, right? Now imagine if that was more powerful but took about three or four actions before it did anything. First, he plants a seedling, then he makes it grow, then he spends two actions cutting the resulting tree down. The falling tree will cause heavy damage to whatever is in the way of it's fall.

    It's a harsh little attack if you line it up right but man is it hard!

    Thankfully, The Villager can hit hard with everything else too. This Side B summons a rocket powered Gyroid that he can ride or fire off. It seems like a flying version of Wario's Bike, which I happen to love using, so I'm happy with it. He's reported to be able to capture various items for later use and he feels very simple and stocky to control.

    His Up B is interesting. It's a Balloon Fight reference. Why? No idea. The Villager can fly around using the balloons in order to gain air but it's lessened by any loss of your two balloons. If both are lost, you fall, sadly. The movement seems pretty freeing, if floaty so making balloon loss very possible.

    Overall, I also like The Villager. I'm not sure if I would play as him very often but he's still very effective.

    I do like the idea that this little guy will go to any lengths to make sure his local museum has decent exibits. No matter the cost, that fish tank will be filled!

    Everything else are just little additions.

    Like the addition of the Omega mode for all levels. Apparently, you can push a button to make all levels flat and simple.

    Remember that old favourite of 'Final Destination and No Items, GO!!!'? Well, now that is a dedicated button for any level in the game. So, while Final Destination doesn't appear to be here, it's here in spirit. Unless it's unlocked later, of course.

    There's new items as well. Things like this fire burst thingy that shoots death in four directions, a gust gun that forces players off the stage and...fairies in bottles? I have no idea what it does but...Neat!

    As I fiddle with it and play around with it, I'll report back with more stuff but for now, I'm liking this. It's a neat little demo that just simply proves that Smash Bros for 3DS not only plays strongly on the console but might be something of a must own just in general.

    My only nitpick is the controls themselves. You cannot change them at all and you cannot turn off things like Tap Jump (jumping by pushing up). It's not too far away from the Gamecube controller I'm used too, this is just me being uncomfortable with the 3DS analog nub.

    Man, the next 3DS' analogue nipple is going to be bizarre in comparison...Anyway, it's just the demo...Still, a few options would have been nice. But like I said, just nitpicking.

    Anyway, if you can get hold of this, do so. It also supports multiplayer play too! I love Smash Bros. This is a good version of it from what I can see. I cannot wait to see what the rest of this is like.
  2. [​IMG]

    I dislike World of Tanks.

    I respect it. There a little bit of a simulator aspect to it. As far as I know, these are all real tanks that you get to learn and play with, even in a passing, 'I have to know what this is, even if I don't read the flavour text, just to play the game' sort of thing. You probably adore your P90's in Call of Duty but you have no idea of their history unless you're seriously into your guns. Or your tanks. Yes, it's a team-based, deathmatch sort of shooter where you kill each other on a map with guns but that simulator aspect is still there very strongly. Like I said, these are actual tank designs. Like a truck simulator or a train simulator, you get to know about what you drive around, mainly through osmosis.

    And unlike Truck and Train Simulators, Tanks are killing machines first and foremost. So, a deathmatch deelie in something like this makes sense.

    Pictured: What Tanks definitely don't do.

    I still don't like it. While the accessibility is nice as there's plenty of diversity in the roles your tanks can have, I didn't get into it. I also like the realistic damage you can take to individual systems so that you can still remain in the fight, even if you're just a gun, sitting in the ruined remains of your wheels. Congrats, you've been promoted to sniper, even though your tin can's gun has only enough power to topple the elderly.

    It's just being hit with something you couldn't possibly, ever see coming and having no defence other than keel over and die to stop it happening to you any more. You appear to be able to settle into several basic roles. Heavy cannons blow stuff up. Sniper Like Cannons can hit at range. Scout Tanks can't fight but are fast and point out the enemy to the heavy artillery. And I would just get blown up over and over and over and over.

    And over. And over. And, you get the point. I suck hard at World of Tanks and so, I couldn't get a good grip because I never felt like I was able to defend myself against anything. At all, unless I got to a higher level.

    Why am I talking about World of Tanks when the title of the review is Robocraft, that kookie thing I played on the radio a while back?(highlight footage up on the Youtube when I can).

    Well...Robocraft is like the Lego version.

    In fact, that seems a little derogatory, as Minecraft get's that comparison over and over. And, yeah, there's parallels to Minecraft and Robocraft but I think I can go one better.

    Imagine if World of Tanks had a sci-fi setting. And that you built your vehicle using the Gummi Ship system from Kingdom Hearts.

    You have no idea how long I've spent on this part of the game alone. It tickles my brain in the most wonderful place possible. If it's dropped from Kingdom Hearts 3, I will personally slap the entirety of Disney Interactive and Square Enix. It's that enjoyable for me.

    You are a little Spaceman. He has a ship-garage thing and keeps getting in sci-fi vehicle battles because, what else is there to do?

    And that's the story. It's a deathmatch shooter. If you want Storytime, go to TF2 and find the backstory comics. In fact, do that anyway, they're fantastic!

    Robocraft is all about the gameplay but first lets look at the aesthetics. Now, I've played a few free-to-play games in my time and, this has to be one of the better looking ones. There's polish here if your looking for it. The blocks look nice, the weapons look somewhat unpleasant to be standing in front of, as they should be, and the environments do look like what you'd think Mars should look like.

    Yes, you fight on Mars. And this other ice planet that I forget the name of because it's one of those places that was named by Scientists rather than Ancient Greeks. So, it has some random jumble of letters and numbers rather than a proper name.

    But it's an ice planet that's always covered in snow and ice. In a sci-fi game. It's only copyright that stops it from being called 'Hoth' officially, isn't it?

    It's hard to feel for the Rebels plight when they could have just rebuilt the Shield Generator with spare parts from a turret, a tauntaun and a passing hotdog van.

    Anyway, gameplay. It's basically World of Tanks. Kinda...

    You see, vehicles are very, very diverse in Robocraft because they can be made in almost anyway you like them to be. 'Robot' creation as the vehicles are called 'Robot's for some reason, all have a pool of basic blocks and bits to be made from.

    Weapons are split up into three rough categories.

    SMG's are little, rapid firing guns that don't do too much damage but are always ready to fire. They allow you to launch constant and spontaneous barrages against the enemy. However, they're low damage input forces you to place as many of them as possible in order to get the most benefit. I have to admit; lower level SMG's just felt like pea-shooters to me. Higher level SMG's are better but I just couldn't seem to gain many advantages with them. They appear to suit vehicles that can move quickly or be able to withstand heavy attack longer than the opponent.

    The Plasma Launcher is effectively heavy artillery. It fires a barrage of heavily damaging ammo that also spreads out. So, it's like a cross between an AA gun and a shotgun, in essence. This also happens to be the only weapon that's effected by gravity, effectively giving the weapon an arc to watch out for. However, this only mildly hampers it's ability to just point and shoot, for the moment anyway. No, it's biggest problem is reloading. You only really get one shot before you have to reload. This takes a minute tops but in a firefight, it could cost you dearly if you can't run for cover or fight back. This would suggest that they would be perfect for long range fights as you could deal heavy damage from somewhere far from the battle and you'd be right. They do have quite a range. However, if added to a fast vehicle, they also make for fantastic ambush weapons as your bust damage is effectively through the roof. Most robots would be bits and pieces in one shot.

    Lastly, there's the Rail Cannon. This is effectively, a sniper rifle on steroids. The Rail Cannon can hit things very accurately, even at long range thanks to it's ability to zoom in much further than the standard zoom. It even loses it's effectiveness when moving. In essence, it's a Sniper Rifle. It's pretty decent to use but it's armour piercing ability is a bit of a kicker if your hit with a good shot.

    Now, there's a few extra things to consider here.

    One, you can only have one weapon type at a time. So, you can't mix it up with SMG's and Plasma Launchers. I'm OK with this as the Launcher and Railguns are so, so powerful, the SMG rarely seems to get the chance to fight back unless lucky. At least this forces thought and planning into vehicle design as you're usually looking to build something you know can cover for your weapon's weakness. Your weapon tends to dictate how you play.

    Another thing is that the physics model will make you it's ***** if you're not careful with your design. Lightness and balance plays a big roll in the design of your vehicle. You can just slap stuff together and roll out but you'd then be watching your robot flop all over the place as it struggles with the more awkward terrains of the map. Wide wheelbases make you stable but more of a target. Trade offs between what advantages you gain and what problems you make add to the depth this simple game can offer.

    What's also interesting is that the weapons have kickback. Recoil effects the Plasma Launcher and the Rail Cannon much more than the SMG. So, if you're using a light vehicle, you might want to be mindful of where you slap your guns. Once shot could topple you over or send you flying. It's something to definitely consider when trying to play with a robot that doesn't use wheels to move around. So obviously, you don't plonk a heavy weapon on top of a massive tower with a very small wheelbase and call it a day because you'll take one shot then wonder why you're looking at the Martian Sky all of a sudden.

    "Laws of Motion don't stop working just because you've made your machine into the shape of a phallus, you know!"

    Oh yes! The game allows for flying robots as well. The advantages are obvious, of course, but it's done in a few interesting ways.

    One method of flight is the Hovercraft route. The Hover Blade lifts the robot into the air but always has to push against the ground to work. This means you can't travel too far off the ground but it means your vehicle can travel over any ground with incredible ease. Even the ice from Hoth. This is marred by awkward stability and the fact that you do have a bit of sliding around to be careful of. It does allow you to raise and lower yourself a little but otherwise, it's a hovercraft. Shooting them down is easier as they tend to be lighter and have their engines in full view. However, they can be pretty nippy, and have a hight advantage.

    However, there's also thrusters and helium. These can create actual flying machines that can also carry guns. So, you can fly over the battlefield and drop a little death on those below. You're a massive target for anything below, of course, but it's still fun to do. Plus, there's nothing I like more than attaching thrusters to only a few blocks and farting myself around the map like a bottle rocket. It's utterly pointless but fun.

    Heck, I managed to make a vehicle that actually had an escape pod. If the vehicle base was destroyed, the main part of the ship could then fly away in a hurry. The issue was that I had no means of steering so I would just fart away into the air like a balloon being let off.

    Pictured: My Escape Strategy

    With the addition of aerofoils and rudders to add stability and control to your robot, flying becomes a viable option if you can put the resources into it.

    And even though the game's already very robust and freedom-loving system seems very open, there's still one place they'll limit you and that's in unlocking stuff, build limits and tier play. Because if they gave you everything to start with, where's the challenge outside of battles?

    Unlocking things appears very similar to World of Tanks. You have a tech tree and doing well within the battles will earn you these points. These can be saved up and used to unlock extra bits to add to your robots. Either new stuff or upgraded versions of what you already have. I don't mind this. It gives an obvious progression to what you're doing and you can see how powerful your machines are becoming. While trying to earn these points is a pain as winning can be difficult...Heck! Surviving can be difficult. Anyway, it's a simple and understandable system.

    The complications and quirks, assumingly to encourage various kinds of play as well as balancing begin here.

    Robocraft Querk #1: You can only earn tech points that correspond to your current tier. Certain tech requires a certain tech point from a particular tier to be unlocked. This means anything higher and lower than the tier you are currently on cannot be unlocked unless you move up or drop down in tier.

    The Tier system refers to the advancement of your robot. Vaguely. In essence, it's a little bar that fills up as you add more and more powerful stuff onto your vehicle. Once you hit a certain threshold, you'll increase in Tier, pitting you against more powerful robots when you next battle.

    Now, the thing is, this whole Tier Dependant Unlock system is weird. In theory, it forces a player to focus on only a few technologies as the fastest way to the best stuff is to only level up what's useful. If they can do that, they'll progress quickly. What actually happens is that people will try and fit high level weapons onto low level vehicles in the vain hope that they can dominate with their pathetically armoured but stupidly powerful gun on wheels. Some succeed but it varies in results. Either way, it's unusual to see a game encourage you to strip down to a lower level in order to pick up what you missed.

    I kinda like it. By the time you do this, you'll likely have plenty of decent gear that you can balance to try and fit your creation into tier and go out with your combination of low and high level stuff. It's another challenge that happens in the building aspect of the game. And I love the building aspect so, yes please! There's also that feeling of getting to fight a boss in an RPG that gave you a hard time. But know your 30 levels higher, he's a piece of cake now. It can get close but, the tier balancing makes it hard to be utterly devastating as the most powerful weapons alone can push you up an entire tier.

    Although, it's not ideal for the poor sods your mowing down with your Tier 9 hyper cannon but at least all the shots on you are pretty devastating potentially.

    The Robocraft Mantra

    Robocraft Querk #2: All items have permanence and must be brought using in-game currency before being attached to your robots. This means you are only unlocking the ability to expand the shop before you can buy what you've unlocked. Once a block has been attached to a robot, it is then entirely removed from your inventory and cannot be used elsewhere, meaning you have to keep stock of what you have and how much to spend on each robot you build.

    All right, fair enough. This, again, forces a little creativity in the design of your robots and then puts and emphasis on doing well in the battle because you'll need that moolah for upgrades and finishing off robots. Again, I don't mind this at all. It adds more worth to every component, making you care more about their price and effectiveness. You might not want to just get rid of all our older weapons for new ones as the combination of both could be more efficient. Stuff like this makes the game enjoyable to tinker with and think about, in my opinion. I like a challenge like this.

    Robocraft Querk #3: You still keep playing the match as long as you have a driver still alive.

    Let's talk battles actually.

    You're dropped into an interesting and hilly cavern usually, that the game prevents you from leaving for obvious reasons. All matches at the moment are Capture the Flag affairs with Deathmatch Rules thrown in. You die, that's it for the match. No respawn here buddy. In fact, being destroyed requires you to fix your ship using the money you use to buy new robot parts. Again, being hit in your pocket doesn't bother me as it makes sense.

    Anyway, you can either destroy the other team or cap their point. Easy. The capping of points actually seems to be so easy that most players seem to just rush straight for the other one. Some matches are over fast because everyone just swapped sides of the map and raced to see who could cap first. Of course, choke points and small passages force this behaviour to lead to fights as each platoon charges in all directions for the enemy base. It's actually pretty decent of the level design. All of them have a central battleground but there are channels leading around it and towards each cap point that will funnel players together for extra scraps. It's simple but effective.

    Now, the best thing about the mechanics on offer is just how much fun they are.

    Each component, from the wheels to the weapons to the armour blocks can be shot off. This can be both dangerous and hilarious. On one hand, you can weaken an enemy by stunting their firepower or even keeping them in one place by blowing up their movement components. The trick to this is that all blocks must attach back to the pilot someway, meaning that if the pilot is destroyed, then it's game over. But, you can also knock out lots by hitting weak links in their chain back to the pilot You can shoot off entire arms of cannons by doing this.

    On the flip side, having your vehicle smashed down to nothing but a wheel and a few blocks with a little space man pootling along on it, very confused as to how his tank became a convertible all of a sudden, is either hilarious or frustrating depending on your view. Afterall, your game doesn't end until you're entirely destroyed, meaning you can't do anything but wait for the match to end. If you still have components attached, you can try to move around to safety, especially if you're about to win. You usually get more for surviving a match, it would appear, so figuring out how to work your robot when it's just you in a metal seat is important if very rare as most battles will end with you being finished off if you get like this.

    The funny thing is how the game will continue to move the player, even if it makes no sense. Only two wheels on one side? Then you're just going to go in circles for a while. Only one hover blade? Have fun moving around when most of you is dragging on the floor. And yeah, you'd better run when all your guns are just little piles of ash on the floor. I have to admit, I find this a really fun mechanic. You can visually see how up a creek without a paddle you are just by looking at what's missing. To help, you do have a health meter that pops up when your damaged to give you a rough idea of how your doing over all but looking is usually better, I find to get you a better idea of damage.

    Afterall, 12% is ambiguous. But a man sitting on only one wheel and a couple of blocks, rolling around and around in little circles, is not.

    Good luck dodging oncoming fire though! The 'Headless Chicken' Maneuver is all you have now, sonny-jim!

    As for combat...Eh, it's right back to World of Tanks. I can manage to fight here a lot better but...eh. Again, I'm still being hit by things I cannot see and finding that there's some serious dominant strategies here. Like I said, SMG's feel like they have a power disadvantage in this because they cannot get the same upfront, one shot damage a Plasma Launcher or Rail Cannon gives. They're useful, sure, but they don't feel as gratifying to use when your vehicle gains a new hole with just one blast. You feel like you brought pea-shooters to an artillery fight.

    However, I prefer Robocraft to World of Tanks because I always feel like there's something I can do to combat against a strategy or failing of my machine. I can just rebuild or replace individual parts. Or can change my strategy or just upgrade my stuff.

    With World of Tanks, I felt like I could only upgrade myself as the best defence against most of the battles. That's less enjoyable. Robocraft feels more like your in control of your success as it's down to how you put your parts together, not who has what tank and when.

    Plus, like I said, that building thing just tickles my brain something fierce.

    Now, the game is free. You can by special currency with real money that can let you upgrade your vehicle faster but you can get along just fine with out spending a dime/penny/euro. What's nice is that this extra currency allows you to convert Tech Points into ones that can be used for any tier. You can also by blocks with them and use them to fix your robot. I actually think it's worth dropping a small amount into the game, just to get you started. You might be surprised how far it can go.

    The other thing to consider is that it's still in Alpha, apparently. Yes, it's early access. Woo! So, expect bugs but I honestly haven't seen many. Also, expect nerfs and changes here and there, which I think the game needs to make the experience as balanced and enjoyable as possible without sacrificing the excellent mechanics on offer here.

    I heartily recommend Robocraft. While I cannot guarantee longevity, it is a blast to just pick up and play. And it costs nothing but hard drive space and download time. Do it!

    You can go as serious or as silly as you like. Nothing forcing you to build anything you don't want to! Hyuck-hyuck!
  3. [​IMG]
    [size=+1]Five Nights at Freddy's[/size]​

    I caved, OK?! I gave in. I saw the Markiplier Let's Play! I saw the Game Grumps one! The thing is...So did a few friends of mine. So, I got to play this game myself because they brought it and pushed me forwards to be the one to play as they watched.

    Which is a rarity for me as I usually have to wait weeks and weeks before I get to play games that are doing the rounds on Youtube Let's Play Channels. Because I either have to be thorough or up to date. Sadly, can't be both...

    Ah well...It's a good thing this is a good game.

    For those that still don't know, you play as a guy that is stupendously desperate for the poultry $120 dollars the job of Night Watchman at a Family Pizza Restaurant called 'Freddy Fazbear's Pizza' offers. You are tasked with surviving the night while the animatronics that perform for the kids during the day, move around freely at night. This would be fine if it wasn't apparent that these machines would likely mistake you for an animatronic if they found you. And if they do find you, they'll attempt to stuff you into one of the costumes. That happens to already be full of electronics and metal.

    Forcefully, I might add.

    It's a pretty grim fate. However, your line of defence are two doors to your office, some lights and the system of security cameras in the restaurant.

    But why could you possibly want to shut out such beloved children's characters? Actually, they're pretty ugly, even as far as cheap animatronics go.​

    As a horror game, this is pretty excellent.

    As a reason to develop something of a respectful grudge against the developer 'Scott Games', it's pretty compelling.

    Gameplay is where this shines the most as the story has plenty of holes in it. Firstly, you have a limited amount of power you can use to run your equipment. So...Why is it all on a generator? Because it's cheaper? Because Freddy Fazbear's Pizza is meant to be spiraling the drain at this point, that does make sense but why leave me with only one night's worth of fuel for it?

    Well, there another thing here: you can't leave the office. It's against company policy to leave the office so you can't move to go fill up. Although, when there's monstrous animatronics running around, who would honestly care?

    Well, there's also Foxy of Pirate Cove. Each of the roaming Animatronics behaves differently. Freddy will only attack if you run out of power and the place is plunged into darkness. Bonnie the Rabbit and Chica the Chick will roam the hallways and poke their heads into the office. If they spot you, they will come and get you so you have to be vigilant. If you see them at the open doorways, you slam the door on them to stop them. Lastly, Foxy will come and get you if you don't watch him enough. However, he'll still come and get you if you watch him too often, ensuring that your at least using your camera's properly.

    Did you think it would be good to just shut both doors and wait? Well, the doors will pop open when the power drains away due to a genuine safety consideration with such doors that dictates they must open in case of fire during a power cut. Plus, you'll bring about your death faster as doing anything other than just sitting there will drain your power reserves faster. And you have till midnight to 6 AM to get through.

    But then...Why come back at all after the first night? It's just madness!

    In terms of story, over-thinking this is kinda easy to me. But I like it. We're playing by horror rules. This is a broken down and desperate company that's clinging onto whatever it can to keep itself afloat. It's miserably negligent, like if The Weyland Corporation took over 'Chuck E. Cheese'. No wonder it's going down the tubes! It's a wonder its survived for so long.

    "Don't mind the weird, fleshy pods in the broom cupboard either. Just sit down, eat your pizza and don't think about that smell of blood coming from the robots."

    Nope, what brings this together is the gameplay.

    For a quick idea of the gameplay, imagine a cross between Papers, Please! and Slender. You cannot move, you have little defence and what your doing is affecting both paranoia and suspense upon your frantic mind while also doing something unimaginably stupid. It's the equivalent of sitting in a system of caves with hungry, angry bears looking around for you. Simply the act of watching these things roam around in unpredictable ways is terrifying. Not necessarily horrifying as the Animatronics range from kinda doofy to mildly unsettling but not enough to carry the game.

    No, it's desperately trying to avoid them all executing that expertly delivered 'Ooga-Booga!' when you lose. Yes, this contains jump scares but in the best possible way.

    For starters, you head is doing most of the work (as it should be in Horror, I might add). You want to win to avoid being scared and the build up is the meat of the experience. It manages to condition you towards wanting to survive simply because no one likes a jump scare. And the ones in here are fast and decent. It's the fact that it isn't the be all, end all of the experience that sets this above Slender, at least for me.

    You're really helpless here. Sure, Slendy is stalking you and that delivers something similar but Freddy's keeps you constantly busy, stretching both your paranoia and attention span while Slender just lets you meander. You forget about Slender, most of the time because he just minces around until you get close to completing your goal. You see, Bonnie and Chica could arrive at any time, you're always preoccupied about their proximity to you.

    Add to that your power consumption, so you have to concentrate on ensuring that every single action you make counts.

    Add to that, Foxy's demanding nature.

    Add to that random attempts to distract you with weird glimpses of Freddy's face across the screen. I don't know why but bloody hell, it freaks me out!

    Add to that the fact that I occasionally had cameras die on me with no discernible reason then return to normal a moment later.

    Add to that the fact that there are regular bumps and footfalls and even Freddy's low chuckle echoing through the halls.

    The stretch on your frantic mind trying to keep up with everything so you don't get that nasty fright created a troubled fear that was a pure as a nightmare. I was actually shaking after playing this.

    Pretty accurate representation of my state afterwards.

    Now, this definitely deserves its time in the limelight. However, I can't imagine it lasting long as longevity is rather brief. Once the rhythms and patterns are down, it's possible to get relatively accustomed to the scares. It's biggest appeal is when it's played by the ignorant, rather than the experienced. Even so, I went in knowing how to play and what to do but I was still stumped by the third night.

    I...I also refused to play it again.

    Like I said, the unpredictability of the Animatronics does your head in. They follow patterns but they have some leeway that makes them just that extra bit more animalistic with their movements. Some times they head straight for you, sometimes they toy with you.

    I think it's pedestal is well deserved. It's just expertly crafted. It's simple and uncluttered to deliver you a powerful jolt to your sense of safety. And I rarely think it does so cheaply. After all, it's horror; the odds have to be stacked against you to make it engagingly unpleasant to play but they don't feel outside the realms of the possible.

    To sweeten that deal, it's only £4. It's a cheep scare, sure with not much to do when you complete all seven levels. But it's got the clout most AAA Horror Titles somehow manage to leave out.

    And I have the footage of various Youtubers screaming like they were being tasered in the throat to prove it.

    Markiplier: My Alternative to Pewdie Pie and superior Frightened Face-Puller. Look! You could drive a train through that open maw!
  4. Sunday was slower. We found fun stuff to do but it was definitely slower. And that's not just because of the Monopoly.

    Yes, Monopoly. My Little Pony Monopoly. With Speed Rules.

    I was almost entirely cleaned out in around 10 to 15 rounds. Foxy was able to sit relatively comfortably, especially after she got control of my stuff because I had entirely given up, handed her the whole of my lot for twenty then loudly begged for financial ruin. After all, several players controlled dangerous parts of the board while I sat on most of the greens for most of the game. Every other player could have easily flushed me out at any time. I'm amazed my suicidal streak lasted for another two or three turns as I attempted to throw myself against every hotel I could find.

    Once dead, Foxy trundled into a comfortable 3rd place. Enjoyable, yes. But when you're trying to play this quiet, brooding game in the same place as a concert blaring music over the top of us. It's...not the best placement for the little tournament but we muddled through.

    Still, before the reckless funk of Monopoly, there was me playing the MLP Collectable Card Game.

    Again, I deeply enjoy this game but I'm not certain my decks are 100% perfected when I decided to join in for a nice scrap. I think I'd got it in my head that a large, bloated deck would be a good idea as I could prepare for everything.

    Ha! No...If anyone plays this two, don't do this. It's stupid. Very, very silly to do unless you know exactly what you're doing. By Magic/Loyalty deck would often paralyse itself, despite my best efforts to counteract it simply because my magic cards outnumbered by loyalty ones. And you generally need two colours to be able to fight effectively.

    But I learned my lesson and chopped out plenty from it. It's much, much better now.

    For the rest of it, I caught a short rant about Pipsqueak's irritation with the wall used in the Harry Potter movies as the gateway to Platform 9 3/4 when he thought it was a ticket machine. That was pretty fun.

    Otherwise, we tried out the Anime League Dance Machine.

    They have definitely added stuff. Like a bizarre, Wario-Ware Inspired Mini-Game fest where you use your feet to control each game. Everything from shooting arrows, to balancing turtles to launching into sudden rap battles. Very cool idea but I feel like me and Foxy needed a little more practice before we could play it even half way competently. And I barely play DDR anyway, so it's just raising my skill from nothing to two left paws.

    Otherwise? We just hung around till the end. Me, Foxy and Zac plus a friend of Zac played games until the closing ceremony. Always fun, in my opinion. Just card games and bad impressions. Just as it should be.

    Am I glad I went? Totally!

    Will I go again? Totally! I think I need to figure out a better method of getting there but it was otherwise excellent.

    And that's roughly it from me. I hope those who turned up to our thing had fun. And to those who won our prises, I hope they give you many happy hours, reminding you of your moment of glory.

    Byesy bye! I need to mummify myself in my bed covers and sleep for a week.
  5. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh......

    The Premier Inn Bed has come to our rescue again.

    Ohhh...Oh, how wonderful. My poor paws...

    Early start; we got up and wandered in to the Convention Hall at about 8 am. Why? Because they asked us to. Did we have to? Not in the slightest. It was utterly pointless as we wouldn't be doing ANYTHING, till the afternoon.

    So...We messed around with Karaoke. You know what? The 'My Little Karaoke' thingy is pretty awesome! It effectively works as Singstar but, obviously, with various Pony related songs. The selection seems to be incredibly vast, ranging from community stuff to official songs that's joined by the accompanying video behind it. It's a very, very enjoyable experience and maaaan, was it expertly deployed at this con.

    In fact, it was so popular, the motion controlled super impressive toy thing was completely ignored the entire time. It was just a massive crowd for the all Brony choir around this one TV.

    One more note: try looking up Flutterwonder. Now try and sing along.

    Yeah. Impossible, right? Yeah! Why is it in their Karaoke song list?! It's almost entirely gibberish!

    So, then we tried out the 2nd Edition of BUCK Legacy.

    Now, I love the first edition. In fact, I'm ordering my own as soon as I can. I'll give a proper review when I've had a decent chance to play with it but the main things are tweaks to various characters, dungeon effects and dungeon cards. Heck! Even some more weapons and items to play with. It's just that little bit better.

    And...Oh! That box artwork, man!

    It's not exactly out yet so trying to find a picture isn't too easy...

    Then, it was us. Our Super Smash Bros Tournament. We had a large pile of pony prizes, a Gameboy pocket, a plushie Tepig and some weird food for people to try and win. Like Fish Fingers and Custard chocolate. Or the Red bottle of Brainwash...

    You know what? It was just so much fun!

    I don't know how but we got some incredibly talented players turn up. Guys like Taro from Anime League, who ripped apart the entire competition. The guy was able to defeat two of our competitions in their entirety. He might have taken the Game Boy too if he wasn't disqualified for not turning up.

    Then there's guys like Sheep, or Star (Who won last year actually) and just...uh...It was just so damn fun! Just in talking to all these people. Everyone that turned up, I think we just generated fun. Just...just like a perpetual motion machine of enjoyment! I cannot fathom how much I loved talking with you guys, messing around and hearing every joke we shared. Bad or terrible...or worse.

    Plus, Neo Shadow Zac in the flesh! Dude, you have a pretty awesome cosplay of Vinyl Scratch. Complete with Laser Pen Dubstep Gun for extra eye damage! Still, I get to mess around all day tomorrow.

    My voice is shot. My paws ache. My brain barely woiwdjijedm.fdsaf..d..f....

    Huh! Sorry...I think I need to, umm...to um.....nnnnnn.....
  6. I.



    Now that the internet in our hotel room is working and I no longer have Mic the Microphone giving story time while I'm trying to frantically peck out a blog response, I can give you something a little more in depth than...Well, a tiny, quick little thing.

    So, me and my good friend Foxytail have managed to get all the way to Manchester in England in order to run the Super Smash Brothers Brawl tournament. Which is basically awesome-sauce.

    Effectively this. Hey! I'm running on bacon and 5 hours of sleep in a bus! Cut me some slack!

    So, our journey started at about 11pm in London. We walked and then trained our way to the Coach station, where we climbed aboard after a long wait then sat down. About two hours later, we'd watches a Top Gear special, the true source of the Nile had been found and we figured we ought to get to sleep. I mean, we wouldn't get to any sort of bed...like at all for a good, solid 5 hours after we arrived in Manchester. Sleep would be a very, very good idea.

    I managed to sleep. Foxytail did not. Because Foxytail had the smart idea of showing me this:

    It looks like a Simulation of Fursuiters trying to use Skype in the dark but you need to play it to see just how effective this is.

    And it disturbed her during the night because ohmygodthatgamearetheyrightbehindmeIjustwanttohideaaaaaaaaahhhh!

    I can't blame her, I'm amazed how I managed to sleep at all. What with the eyes...and those teeth...

    Blllaaagh! Sorry. Shivers. Anyhoo!

    We arrived. We got some bacon for breakfast then headed over. There, we got our wristbands, packing up the stuff and then just sitting in the guest room.

    I decided to make a little post. Afterall, I've gone and done this two years running, why stop now?

    Then? THEN! We slept. By Celestia's Sainted Undercrackers, the beds at Premier Inn are lovely and plush. It's like they have it down to a fine art. I'm sat in it fight now, cuddling up to my Fluttershy plushie. It's wonderful. Tonight is going to be incredibly comfortable.

    So, then! Summer Sun Celebration. And here, I have to admit, I'm not heavily into the music side of the fandom. I dunno, I like the artwork, the games, the writing but not all of the music. I guess it's because my tastes never really left the late-80's/90's Rock scene...Bizarre but true. Still, what I saw was as impressive as always. It was flashy, fun and very ravey!

    ...We kinda set up the Wii in the guest room and played Smash Bros. Just me, Foxy, Cheesy Burger and anyone else that wandered through the room. I had my arse handed to me over and over. I...I think I'm just damn exhausted. However, Foxy's a beast on this stuff! That Kirby...Just watch out!

    Otherwise, we just wandered around. We got to meander into the musician's room, pratted around with a glow-stick laiden Shawnnnnnn and checked out the venders for this weekend. You know what? These guys look fantastic! Pillows, incredibly expensive plushies, pillows, t-shirts, toys! You name it, they've got it, apparently! It's early but this has started off on a really good hoof. Or paw, if you prefer.

    But yeah...BUCK feels very different. We've never been shoved together with all the musicians and artists before. It's nice, we get to actually chat to them for once rather than just pass them every so often at random times throughout the day. Even better is the Access All Areas we seem to be getting this year. OK, OK; it's a little childish but it's mildly fun to just flash your wrist and breeze past the staff with ease. It's the little things, sometimes...

    Anyhoo, after an evening of playing and turning glow sticks into chains...because I don't know, we cavorted home. And then I started writing a blog post. And it started about...ah, I'm too tired for this recursive crap...
  7. Hello,

    So, me and Foxy have landed at BUCK in Manchester. Currently, I'm in the Guest Room. I think Tombstone is working hard on something behind me, there's stories on Speed Running filling the air and there's not a piece of paper that someone hasn't doodled on. Some look pretty cool and some are kinda, sorta, a little bit unprintable here. There's the sewing of wigs and enough fast food packaging to drown in.

    So, the first thing I need to say is that BUCK's gotten muuuuuch bigger this year. I mean, they've gone from The Bridgewater Hall to Manchester Central next door. So, it's somewhere around twice as large. I don't think there's the entire building on display tonight but when you have a converted train station for a massive party, you can't help but feel like the convention is trying bloody hard to give events like Galacon and Bronycon a bloody nose. Everythings been bumped up.

    The size of the place is one thing. So is the organisation. It's like they've got polo-wearing sentries everywhere. Then there's the stalls and things. Good lord, this place is packed with shops. There's plushies, plushies, t-shirts, cards and plushies. I like plushies, OK?

    I have my Fluttershy tucked up in home, watching Dave.

    Then there's the game stuff. We've got our home gaming stuff and our prizes which look pretty good. And then there's Anime Leagues stuff. Good lord, they've got Karaoke and Computer Witchcraft.

    Still, we have a Dreamcast. Haha!

    Anyway, just checking in. I'll talk to you again soon.

  8. I've had this idea rattling in my head for a while. I thought I'd actually write down my thoughts on this.

    [size=+1]The Battle of TV : The UK vs. The US
    Big Bang Theory vs. The IT Crowd[/size]​

    This is kind of a big thing. Sort of. While The IT Crowd has long since ended after a final special episode to close everything out, Big Bang Theory continues to soldier onwards, seemingly never likely to end. Almost like a nerdy Friends...

    Still, that's the reason I want to compare these two. They're both shows that started up around the same time on the same basis: geek culture. So I was thinking about which tackles the subject the best? Who makes this stuff funnier? And above all, who made the better Geeky sit-com? The UK or the US?

    First, let's discuss each show.

    From the UK: The IT Crowd

    This is a sitcom set in a fictional office building for a company called Reynholm Industries. Not a soul knows what they do or what they produce but they just do business and have affairs. Jen Barber is it's newest employee. However, she's put in charge of the IT department that's located in the basement. Not only does she know nothing about computers but now has to ensure her department doesn't get out of hand, as her co-workers, Roy and Moss, are likely to get into plenty of trouble.

    This is the third successful sitcom from writer Graham Linehan. If you haven't heard of him, you might be more familiar with his work on shows such as Father Ted and Black Books. This, curiously, is the first time he's written a sitcom without a co-writer. It aired on Channel 4 from the 3 February 2006 to the 27 September 2013 for 25 episodes.

    From the US: Big Bang Theory

    When hot blonde Penny moves in across from nerds Leonard and Sheldon. Leonard falls in love with the country-raised, hopeful actress Penny while Neurotic Sheldon takes an immediate dislike to her. Their friends Howard, a jewish engineer, and Raj, an indian-born astrophysicist, work at the same university Leonard and Sheldon work at where they get into various scrapes. Meanwhile, Leonard attempts to win Penny's hand, despite the massive and attractive men she keeps finding.

    The Big Bang Theory was created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. Lorre is known for Two and a Half Men while Prady has worked on Star Trek: Voyager and Gilmore Girls. The show has been going since September 24, 2007 and hasn't stopped yet!

    So, this review is going to drill down with several sections to compare these two on. To be nice and thorough!

    The Writing

    If your only skimming this, I'll make this rather quick for you: IT Crowd has funnier jokes and wins by the virtue that I recognise most of them as jokes.

    Man, that sounds harsh on BBT but it just seems to be mostly true. Big Bang Theory in general seems to have one major joke that it plays up over and over and over when it can't think of anything else: Nerdy things sound weird when you have no basis of understanding. Like when they talk about some tiny manusia of comic book lore, or Star Trek or physics and we watch the bemused faces of the poor sod the Nerds have just info-dumped on. It's not a strong joke, especially episode after episode. Especially to someone like myself, who actually understands what they're talking about most of the time so to me their talking normally.

    It's like watching someone laughing because someone is speaking another language you happen to understand. I can see the joke but I don't find
    it funny. What else you got?

    Kinda trendy to say this about the show but I can't say they've not got a point.

    Well, my other issue with the show is that every aspect that made it seem interesting, unusual or actually funny in it's initial few seasons, slowly got written out.

    One of these is the relationship between Raj and Howard. Initially, they have some sort of pseudo-homoromantic thing going on, effectively acting like a married couple. Firstly, it's funny because the banter was enjoyably vicious sometimes, especially in how intimate they had gotten despite stating themselves as straight, over and over. There's something there and the moments between them have almost a parody air to them but I can't for the life of me tell you the proper term for what they do in this show so I'll try my best without it.

    In fact the pseudo-marital or pseudo-family aspects of the characters and relationships were really fun. Like the scene where Sheldon, Penny and Leonard act like a child, a mother and a father. I enjoyed that scene quite a bit as it was a natural delve into the psyche of these characters and almost how trapped within this weird little world they were. That's interesting as it's a trope we've seen quite a few times in other places being used to give an ordinary scene weird top spin. I liked that. I will give BBT some props for that.

    But then they split Raj and Howard up by giving Howard a girlfriend. I have nothing against Bernadette but it's just a tired old idea of newlyweds figuring out marriage that we could all write ourselves at this point. This leaves Raj dangling at the side of the group as all he seems to do is hang out and mope about being lonely. Changing the dynamic of the show to keep it fresh is a good idea, but this just dumps it a little closer to most of the other American Prime Time Sitcoms and standing out was what got us watching in the first place.

    But the secret weapon is still Dr Sheldon Cooper. The character is a lot of fun. I will admit that the show appears to know this and sticks him in the forefront of almost everything about the show but he's still damn fun. But too much Sheldon and you lose that one part of the show that kinda works. After all, he outshines most of the other characters as a character trait. I just hope he never gets a show of his own.

    On the other hand, IT Crowd is just much much funnier. Yes, there's a few of those sorts of 'what are they talking about, lol whut' jokes but there's a different slant to it.

    To me at least, IT Crowd feels inclusive. They use a lot of things people are already familiar with, then build jokes from that knowledge. There's actually quite a lot of IT Crowd that doesn't revolve around computers or geek culture. They go to a very, very gay musical, literally called 'Gay'. Moss invents a super comfortable bra and goes on Dragon's Den. There's even an episode dedicated to a secret club open to high scoring contestants on Countdown.

    For those that don't know, Countdown is the game show equivalent of an exam where you win teapots. It's been on British TV since 1982.

    While it's definitely a british show, a lot of the humour is pretty universal just from it's angle of attack, most of the time. Nothing is really presented in a way where your not meant to understand the characters. You get everything. It all makes sense, no matter who you are. My favourite example is how Linehan actually makes fun of ignorance about technology.

    As I mentioned, Jen doesn't know anything about computers beyond checking emails. After she behaves a little egotistically because of getting the Employee of the Month, Moss and Roy get their own back by offering to write Jen a technology speech to be spoken at a shareholders meeting. So, they come up with something very, very special for her to read out:


    Do you see what I mean? You get it pretty quickly. It's a recognisable aspect of having an interest in IT and technology in general. Here, the show is poking fun at the ignorance of some people that's universal but still really funny. It's a good formula and an enjoyable angle to tackle this. Just straight up enjoyable, by being inclusive.

    This is in part to the fact that Linehan's style is very absurd. Almost everything is as daft and stupid as possible. Everything. The TV shows, the situations, even some of the acting is nice and silly. I mean, it's a show where the emergency services number is changed to something with around 10 digits in it. It lets them get away with tackling a few iffy subjects here and there like dwarven people in work or the anxiety around transexuality. It's kind of so unbelievably silly, it's hard to get angry at it.

    As an added bonus of this, it makes everything so much more memorable. Just watch and see how many little things I come up with about each show and compare.

    BBT feels exclusive. Because of this reliance on jokes where your not supposed to know what the characters are talking about, not everyone can enjoy it. It shuts out a group of people with each joke. Even the ones that talk about some part of geek knowledge kinda needs some pre-knowledge first, shutting out anyone without that knowledge. It's not an incorrect method but there's a lot of shifting around between parodies and watching confused faces. But it's not as ideal as IT Crowd.

    So, Britain and Linehan wins on writing.

    The Actors

    Again, if you're skimming, how about I make it simple: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! I CAN'T CHOOSE!

    The absolute best part of Big Bang Theory is it's cast. I don't believe that it's script is all that strong but by Celestia's G-String, are these guys great fun! The jokes might fall flat but each one of these guys gives a unique energy to each one of their characters. There's Simon Helburg supplying Howard's lecherous grins. Johnny Galecki gives us Leonard's awkward, furtive glances around Kaley Cuoco's frank and bubbly Penny. Kunal Nayyar makes Raj both so cute when he's immobilised by a woman's presences, as well as just a tool when Raj is drunk. Melissa Rauch fits in well, creating the oddly freudian wife and Biologist, Bernadette. And I want to see Mayim Bialik in more things. I like her, please, more stuff.

    And...Yes, Jim 'You Might Remember Me as the Human Version of Walter from The Muppets' Parsons is a lot of fun. It's really one of the stand out parts of the show and Jim's portrayal of the insane, irritating physicist is still enjoyable when they give Sheldon something good to do. I mean, it's unsurprising that Sheldon is what all people remember first about the show.

    The hypothesis I put forwards on the show is that these guys are charismatic actors, saddled with making a crap script watchable.

    The IT Crowd, again, has so many quite standout performances.

    In fact, a couple of them are from Graham Linehan himself. Yeah, he does this sometimes, just turning up occasionally and filling in with some weird little cameo. He's done this in Father Ted and Black Books too. It's like a little game.

    "Get on my level, Linehan!"

    Anyway, IT Crowd has Christopher Morris, Matt Berry, Richard Ayoade, Chris O'Dowd and Noel Fielding. That's not to discredit Katherine Parkinson's performance, it's just that the other guys have made quite a name for themselves outside of this show. You don't often get random unknowns in IT Crowd. They're hardly little-known names in British TV.

    Especially Christopher Morris of the legendary, mock serious-conversation show Brass Eye. He gives this wonderfully bonkers and intensely eccentric boss. Matt Berry is tons of fun as a childish, playboy using the company to do whatever he wants. I still cannot get the image of him cackling with his robot hand held aloft.

    Then there's the three main characters. Here, neither actor is really standing out as they're all memorable, balanced and very enjoyable. Nothing really wrong with that as they can work off each other very, very well. Katherine Parkinson is excellent as an audience surrogate as well as her character offering another angle of attack for any comedic aspects. Lots of shouting and fantastic comedic line delivery that suits the silly tone well. She's fun when attempting to act as professional as possible despite having no idea what she's saying. Chris O'Dowd is great as the slobby geek, giving some fantastic jokes along the way.

    I always like Richard Ayoade in almost anything. Except maybe Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy as he doesn't appear to do much but say "Oh Ice Cream Eyes". Anyway, with Moss, he manages to make this collection of stereotypes in a side-parted afro easily one of the thirteen or fourteen memorable characters from this thing. The little ticks and ideas he has are all enjoyably silly from randomly spraying water on his ear to inventing ladders for moths. He's almost Sheldon-like in terms of character but balanced far, far more within the group so that he doesn't overshadow anyone else as the 'crazy but lovable weirdo' can do that quite a bit.

    Like in Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon rules all. It's kind of the point of the character and dynamic but...I dunno, the balance seems a tad off. But that's writing and not really the performers faults.

    As for the winner? Do I really have to say? ...OK, I'll cop out and call it a draw. I like both of these guys a lot. Especially BBT's cast for making a crap script watchable at least.

    The Representation of Geek Culture

    Are you skipping all of these? Really? All of them? Fine: IT Crowd. Sorry, it's just...better! It's smarter and more of a damn has actually been given, it would seem.

    You see, it boils down to the inclusivity of IT Crowd versus the Exclusivity of Big Bang Theory again here.

    Now, it's not a terrible thing that BBT regularly bring in guest stars to play a few side characters, giving each guest an odd little spin on their persona, providing they have one. The one that springs to mind is perennial rival Will Wheaton who plays what I assume to be a version of himself with the 'douche-canoe' nob turned to 11. At least, I hope it's just a character...

    Now, they do briefly explain who he is and why he's well known to the geeky characters, but I otherwise don't understand why they specifically created this 'Douche-Canoe' Wheaton just for this show. Did they have Wheaton on hand for something and wanted to raise his profile? It was an experiment? Did Bill Prady use his Star Trek: Voyager connections to get revenge on Wheaton by making him act like an unlikeable brat and foil to Sheldon? Couldn't the role just be someone from Sheldon's past that happens to be played by Will Wheaton? Lorre, Prady, did you have to forever associate this guy with being a Douche Canoe? It seems like a needless extravagance.

    And yes, I'm trying to push Douche Canoe as common parlance. It's a fun term to say.

    Seriously, dude? What do the writers have on you, dude? It can't possibly be as embarrassing on what you wore on Next Gen.

    Anyway, the extravagance actually messes with the comedy a little too. I know this touches on writing again but just shoving recognisable faces into your show can alienate people, especially when the face isn't recognised. Like the woman I'm told is from some Terminator spin-off show I've never seen. Sarah Connor Chronicles, I think. What about that woman that pops up in Howard's imagination while he's in the tub? Granted, not all the jokes are centred around who she is or what she does is but it's still distracting that the character has heard of her but I haven't. Still, I'm paying more attention to George Takei because he's just a suave guy.

    My most memorable example is the episode centered around a Stan Lee signing event where he even cameos at the end. The thing is, Raj repeated joke about how lots of comic book characters have alliterative names has some merit. It's just slightly lost on some people without the faintest idea about comic books because it's a list. You get the joke fast but there's not much being taught or conveyed concerning the interest other than it's stupid. While comic books can be stupid sometimes, let's face it, that's still something you'd have to know comic books to appreciate fully. Otherwise, it's just Raj jabbering on about stuff, not a comment relating to how alliterative names allowed comic book writers to remember character names easier. Afterall, it's a lot of characters to keep track of!

    The IT Crowd I remember actually being a lot more positive. It put a funny spin on introducing the audience to the idea of tabletop RPG Games. How? By making it analogous with prostitutes entertaining businessmen. The context is that Jen is made Head of Entertainment, which she's told is similar to the character Fredo from 'The Godfather', and attempts to supply culture and art to a bunch of morons that want nothing but girls with plenty of T&A. In order to ensure she doesn't encroach on her morals as effectively 'The Company Pimp' she enlists Moss and Roy to stage a Roleplay Session with them.

    "Which one of these on the sheet helps with Pole Dancing? Dexterity or this Rod of Absorbing? I need it because...It's central to my, err...role..."

    And it appears to present it all in a good light that is approachable. It's silly but you're engaged enough to keep up with what's going on. Moss's daft voices and impressions as well as the three businessmen having some pretty good lines keep the comedic flow while the audience gets the general jist of what one of these is like. It's a likely new idea, being presented in a way that holds interest because there's more than just jokes based on one aspect of the scene. There's several things happening throughout the sequence, ensuring that there's a wider range of possible jokes to be had, rather than Raj spouting a potentially meaningless list multiple times.

    Another angle to talk about this from is characterising and...it's a little hard to call there which is better.

    On one hand, The IT Crowd has Roy, who is rather typical and realistic as far as I can tell with the typical image of geeky men. Slightly slobby, enjoys games, watches obscure movies and hasn't much luck with girls. Fine but I can relate to him, somewhat. I mean, I'm not that much like him. I at least can hold down a relationship without burning myself quite badly. Moss, on the other hand, is every single stereotype of a 'Nerd' you could possibly put into one character.

    Nasally voice? Check. Bland or unfashionable clothing? Check. Attachment to Mother? Check. Uncomfortable around strange things? Check. Computer expert and technical geneous? Check. Weird and wacky mannerisms? Check. Sounds hilarious when he tries to sound cool or imposing? Check.

    However, I can excuse Moss. Like I said, the show tends to feel rather balanced where no one character outshines the other so Moss doesn't ever feel too over the top. He's actually quite endearing, and Linehan manages to use this cutesy nerd in some really creative situations. Such as when he attempts to pretend to be insane, just to ensure his psychiatrist doesn't release him. Or having to deal with bullies. I like the character a lot, plus he fits Linehan's exaggerated and silly tone for the whole show.


    Big Bang Theory is a touch more realistic. Sort of. At least in aim. It also has more nerdy characters to spread the selection of cliches around with. Effectively, we get a wider array of nerdy characters: the standard nerd, the cripplingly shy one, the insane maniac and the restraining order waiting to happen. I suppose my issues are, again, with the shows writing when it comes to these guys. As I've said, I feel the charm of the characters tends to come more from the performances, especially in later seasons, but not so much the writing. Here, the character's have their charms, sure but there's just something about them that distances you away from these guys. They're fall guys. You don't grow all that closer to these characters and find them appealing as they have plenty of jokes made at their expense that you're expected to laugh at.

    It doesn't help that they aren't always overtly likeable.

    Moss and Roy manage to make you find them endearing. They're buffoons, sure, but the situations they get into are relatable. They're a little exaggerated, but based within some relatable aspect of life. Like attempting to fit in with other people or curbing social media compulsions. We've all had that, mostly, at some point in our lives. Or know someone that has experienced what they're spoofing at the moment.

    How many people can relate to going into space? Or working with Steven Hawking? Or having a creepy stalker control your life? Big Bang Theory can't quite compete here, which is why I think Moss and Roy work better, surprisingly. They represent something much closer to the audience to enjoy than the high flying physicists. There's just something about underdog and maligned characters in comedies, they just seem to work better.

    The Final Verdict

    The IT Crowd is the better show, in my opinion. While it's probably not that hard to guess for anyone who's ever actually seen both shows or is even aware of the many flaws of Big Bang Theory, I thought it interesting to compare the two together as they both seemed somewhat similar when they came out within a short amount of time of each other.

    Still, I will give Big Bang Theory the props for at least trying a few of the things I did actually enjoy. Even if they didn't last and it turned completely to homogenized Sitcom fluff.

    So, a petty win for the UK and IT Crowd. The best kind of win!
  9. I will explain myself fully in the Community Post this week but for now:

    I'm really, really sorry about the recent turmoil. The reason is that I have likely gone mad.

    The good kind of mad but likely quite loopy. Perhaps an overdose of coffee is there too but just as crackers.

    On the plus side, you are now able to access Everypony Radio Livestream data through Ponyville Live.

    Which is interesting.

    Anyway, chin-chin!
  10. [​IMG]
    [size=+1]Goldeneye 007[/size]​

    Yep! More adventures in the games I missed out on in my youth of playing...the other consoles. And, again, I've gone for another mega-seller for the console. A game that is constantly marked as a bonafide classic. A must-play. A point in history when the first-person shooter was changed forever!

    Goldeneye on the N64. A trend setter on a console seemingly full of them! It is a legend every gamer should know of.

    And...after playing it for a while, my verdict is to announce that it is OK. Just, OK.

    It's still pretty fun after over a decade. This was released the same year as Lylat Wars and was made by then super-developers: Rare. Famous for Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conker's Bad Fur Day, Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong Country. Rare were kinda a big deal before Microsoft gobbled them up. They're still around, of course, but they don't seem to be the same rockstar developers they once were.

    Now, this really is the first time I've ever sat down and played this game before. I came in completely fresh. Me, a weirdo reviewer in 2014. Some games can stand that whole 'test of time' thing and unfortunately, Goldeneye hasn't aged as well as you may have thought.

    First, the plot. Ever seen Goldeneye, the 1995 James Bond movie? Good. It's basically that but you get to shoot things yourself. There's a Satellite Weapon thingy called Goldeneye that someone has stolen and taken over but it's up to Bond to unmask who stole the weapon and save the day. Seem rushed? It's OK, the game barely glances at it. I just about know what's going on and I haven't seen Goldeneye. I'm not sure I care to either though...

    So, why wouldn't it be awesome despite being a movie tie-in game? Reason one is in how it controls.

    I can understand this to a degree but, good lord! These controls are clunky as all bloody hell. I have had better luck constructing sandwiches with my feet. It's a weird combination of the strange controller and the now-defunkt movement system that throws you for a loop if you're not ready for it.

    In a modern first-person set up, you strafe by pushing left and right on the left analogue stick. Up and down will move you forwards and backwards. Effectively, your legs are moved around while your head is controlled by the right analogue stick that's turned and moved up and down with it. It's a relative standard for a reason. And I can forgive Rare for not having the insight to program the game in what would become the industry standard. It was 1997, I can't expect everything to be the same as 2014. I don't have the frame of reference to comment further. Perhaps what they went with was felt to be better with the N64 controller.

    Yeah, yeah, Insert your own 'Third-Arm' joke here...But seriously, The Wiimote was not the only weird controller throwing people for a loop, it seems.

    In Goldeneye, the analogue stick turns you and moves you forwards, like a tank. You strafe with any number of control combinations you want but the standard is left and right on the C buttons. Up and Down on the C buttons will move your head up and down. It's so awkward to relearn this stuff, I can scarcely believe it. They feel so unintuitive, it's practically crooked. Your first few goes will result in you pushing the wrong buttons or slamming into walls. I kept managing to push A to fire and accidentally swapping my weapon for another one by mistake. It was getting infuriating. After a few hours of play, I'd say I've grasped the controls but I'm hardly circle-strafing baddies with much finesse. Auto-Aim has become a necessity.

    Yes, the game will aim at things for you because it seems to be faster than using the control scheme. I don't mind this. The auto-aim is not an aimbot. You don't just fire and the computer does everything, it will only control Bond's wrist. So if you face a baddie, you will lock on until they move out of your view. It makes the controls passable as it eliminates all the awkward shuffling you'd have to do in order to line up a shot. Just rock back and forth, tapping the C buttons carefully and then fire. Meanwhile, baddie #1092-A has already sunk five bullets into Bond's colon while I was faffing around with my pistol sights. Fire fights would be infuriating without the Auto-Aim so I choose to keep it.

    But you can alter the controls. Do they change the controls to something more familiar? Yes and no. They're all rough configurations on a few main control schemes: using the analogue stick and the right side of the controller, analogue stick and the left side, the D pad and the C buttons and using two controllers to give you two analogue sticks. I played most of the game in this last mode. It felt a little better but it just replaced the C buttons with an analogue stick. There was absolutely nothing else altered except what I had to push to do things. And that I had to hold two controllers now. It's definitely an expensive option but I got used to it. I certainly got comfortable and started mowing down baddies.

    I began to enjoy myself.

    The game is rather fun. You're given a goal and it's up to you to figure out how it's completed. There's a little excitement there as you get into gun battles and run through these levels. The enjoyment and appeal of the game unfolds, showing you why it's so revered as a classic. The missions do offer a steady stream of challenge and didn't find myself baffled with what I have to do in some levels.

    On others however, they're a little fluffy with the details. I don't mind this approach. Why make the game utterly linear? It's a good idea to let us explore these places and do stuff within them. Like trying to find one building in an enemy base filled with guards. That was pretty cool as I wandered around in the cold wintery scenes, picking off guards before they could spot me. I'd find the radio tower I needed for the first objective. I climb inside, move to the control room, aaaaand...

    Well, the objective was to cut off the base's communications. So, I did what I've done for the other missions; push A on it.

    "Eh, no." The game said, "You've just turned on the communications device and raised the alarm. You failed."

    "Oh!" I sighed, as Bond's abdomen slowly filled up with hot lead. Ample amounts were provided by the guards surrounding him. "Then what do I do?"

    "I'm not telling. Try reading the manual or something like that." It replies, the game simply carrying on. Goldeneye is like that; it doesn't fail you and then bring you back to start again automagically. It just lets you wander around until you give up. It's partly like he's letting you explore the level freely to get your bearings and partly letting you wallow in your frustration as the respawning enemies dogpile you with their guns.

    "I...I haven't got the manual." I replied.

    "You idiot! Did you throw it out with the box?" It retorts, Bond currently fleeing for his life. Thankfully, the generous amount of health was aiding him. While you never get anything to replenish it, it is a decent amount and you can gain body armour to protect yourself further. "Because it's all in there! Like how you access all the extra gadgets we give you on a mission by mission basis. You're gonna need them! As well as how to exit the mission because I'm cool like that. I'll let you keep going even if you trip up to let you get a feel for what's happening. And how to find all those mission documents you skipped straight past without reading."

    "It's OK, I'll look it up on the internet, kay?" I said, turning to my laptop and began typing. Goldeneye gave me a strange look. I don't think it's heard of much since 1997 so the internet would have been that funny thing you used to download wallpaper and sounded like a computer trying to speak but having to start approaching English by learning Hellspawn first. In fact, my N64 seemed confused every time I prodded the 'shiny stone' in my hand and pressed it to my ear to talk to it.

    It was also confused as to why people were laughing at this grounded and centered intellectual instead of praising his wisdom.

    In fact Goldeneye needs a lot more thought than I was imagining to play it. Levels don't just push you in the right direction, they're all about the exploring. I'm only OK on this as some levels are enjoyable to get around and look around each corner.

    Some are not. Some are massive, confusing spaces that give almost no visual cues or landmarks to work off of. Some levels were either stumbling around in the draw-distance fog while others had corridors that looked so similar, I could barely tell which was which. Some levels became a slog because of the frequency I had to spend trundling through them. Because I had no idea that I had a doo-dad that would help me here or I had to do a certain thing in someplace somewhere, I kept getting my arse handed to me. It was annoying.

    One level I despised was Statue. The navigation there was absolutely awful. Granted, the place is meant to look like wreckage, fine. But it took me so, so long to get my grounding in this weird landscape. The only saving grace was finding the shotgun. Absolutely hated it's overload of information and yet, lack of geographical points to get bearings from.

    Pictured: First-Person-Shooter Hell

    Also, escorting people is kinda crappy. Granted, it was kind of pioneered and popularized by this game but man is it awkward. The Bond girl you have to save and escort around these places is pretty annoying. She has no weapon and barely any health herself, making her largely useless. She doesn't have any special skills or abilities. She doesn't say much. She doesn't even react to gun fights in most levels, as she dimly stands around you, soaking up gunfire.

    The other time I've sound her intolerably irritating is the prison level where this woman will actually run off if you get into too much gunfire. Fine! It's a reaction but she is then programmed to ditch you and hide. And you need her in order to finish the level. Often, she'll force you to backtrack through a good lion's share of the level just to pick her up. Then you trapse back, trying to keep the alert level low. Which happens to be pretty hard in this game as Bond's controls don't feel all that tight, blah, blah, blah. AI may be just about witless but sneaking around is still pretty awkward feeling. However, a few shots and no-one is any the wiser, thankfully.

    Yes, I mentioned Natalya, because it's impossible not to mention her. She's the route of all the despising thoughts anyone has ever had about an escort mission. Especially ones concerning unarmed ragdolls bumbling after you, having no interest or concern for the weapons on the floor! Can I have Alyx in this instead? Heck, if she brings her suit of armour, I'll even accept Ashley from Resi 4 .

    Wanna know what's still fun? The Multiplayer! You know, the thing that everyone remembers but was slapped together in a month or so?Still pretty good. Finishing Missions on the hardest difficulty unlocks things all over the place, including Multiplayer stuff, if I remember correctly so at least 1 complete save file is preferable for all the goodies.

    But the mode is still fun. The modes are as creative or basic as you want, the weapons are a good mix of heavy fire, rapid-fire guns, pistols and shotguns that makes killing your opponent very pleasant. Plus, they'll let you play in some decent arenas. Some are a little claustrophobic for my tastes but they do force players together often, ensuring that there's always a battle happening on a regular basis.

    Overall, it's certainly showing it's age. Goldeneye has become awkward and murky over the years. However, there's still a lot of good game under here still for new and returning players. You genuinely feel like you're on a mission and it's down to you. You're not funneled anywhere, you are James Bond. That has always been Goldeneye's greatest strength. It's emersion and fun because it makes you think. Possibly get the thoughts going and the heart racing. Just a little. You can't but wonder what happened to that in some games sometimes...

    I stress 'some', not all.

    I'm glad I visited this aging legend, despite the initial awkwardness. Even without a pair of rose tinted spectacles of my own.
  11. [​IMG]
    [size=+1]Random Food[/size]​

    So, I just went "Ah! Flip it!" one day and sunk some money into the economy. Part of it was necessary actually, like a new Mega Drive controller. Yes, under normal circumstances it's an extravagance but it's for the Free Play part of the Smash Bros. Tourney at BUCK so it made sense to me.

    You know what was even cooler? The controller is an Original too! It was released around the same time as my Mega Drive. So, it's like I have a set now! It's great! Someone spilt paint on the controller plug but it's great otherwise.

    I also then brought a load of weird food because I could. And because trying new things would cheer up a friend of mine. So, this is what I picked up and also what I thought of this little journey of discovery.

    In no particular order:

    Wasabi Crisps (or Potato Chips)

    These were just hurriedly picked up from a little shop I know that stocked imported products from Japan, China and Korea. So, it's a little hard to understand what you're getting. There's plenty of translation on everything, however. Thankful for that, I'll let you! It's like a mini-supermarket. It seems to attract people looking for something unusual to try (like me), people that know what they want specifically and people over here that are missing some food from home. We get a lot of students from these places in the local universities and colleges so I imagine they'd want some proper Pocky or something once in a while. Sadly, never really talked to any of them before and never understood why they didn't seem to mingle much.

    Anyway, Wasabi Crisps. Firstly, let's examine the bag.

    By Celestia's G-String, this thing is heavy duty! Over here at least in Ol' Blighty, if a company expects you to want to save your food for later, they'll provide a strong sticker so you can roll up the top of the bag and then stick it down. Simple and effective.

    The company this came from decided it needed it's own ZipLock bag to lock in that flavour. I get the idea but I do feel like it's a touch overkill. Still, it can't see any issue with washing the bag out after you're done and reusing it!

    Now, there is a brand of crisps over here where you're given some plain-ish crisps and a packet of salt. Effectively, it's Ready Salted flavour except without the 'Ready' part. You can put in as little or as much salt as you please, shake the bag and eat away. Lovely. This is the exact same except with a powerfully spicy herb! Just add the Wasabi to the fried potatoes and Bob's your uncle! So I did this and tasted some.

    If you like things spicy, this is your thing. To my palate, it tasted of mustard. Just strong mustard. Not a bad flavour, just not something I would have on a regular basis. Cool idea though! It does need more crisps though as the bag is huge but the amount of actual food is pretty laughable...

    Mochi (probably) - Brown Sugar and Red Bean Paste flavour

    I love Turkish Delight. I really do. It's texture, the flavour that's both sweet and a little fragrant. It's lovely stuff! Truly scrumptious!

    This Mochi seemed like that but a savoury option, somehow. It wasn't sweet, just sort of squishy. I can't say I've ever seen powdered brown sugar before. Even so, they're not terrible, just not exactly my thing. They seem like something you offer at a party or to an in-law like a slightly boring Ferrero Rocher.

    The reason I say this is...Just look at this box! It's so smart! To me at least, it looks like old, boxed software. It's like this should contain a tax calculator. Microsoft Food Simulator's Japanese Addon Pack, now with more temples!

    Flavoured Cold Teas - Mango and Lemon

    These are gorgeous! I really, really like these. I don't know what it is about these but I really enjoy them. Essentially, they seem to be the soft-drink equivalent of flavoured teas as it's quite clear that it's tea at it's base but the flavours almost dilute the kick of it. Or any potential kick it may have to create this beverage that delivers a little boost of energy gently. It's tasty and is a lovely little pick-me-up. I'm baffled they're not more popular but oh well! More for me and now I know where to find them without importing them!

    Choco Puffs

    Best Western comparison is if someone made a treat out of the centers of Crunch MnM's but added a chocolate spread centre with a little bit of a chestnut flavouring. At least, I think it's chestnut. I want to say chestnut but I'm honestly not all that sure. But they're a tasty little snack. I have very little to complain about. It's a crunchy droplet of something sweet you pop in your mouth. I cannot think of anything that's off-putting about that.

    Brain Wash - Blue flavour

    I...I just don't know...

    This is from a little shop known as Cyber Candy. This is my more usual place if I want something I cannot get anywhere else in the country. Sweets and drinks and chocolate and even cereal. The prices aren't brilliant as, of course, it's almost entirely imported but it's hard to find this stuff anywhere else. Heck! They even make their own chocolate bars now because they had requests for some of the weirder flavours that they didn't stock.

    This brings me on to Brain Wash. Now, I enjoy a good Ginger Beer every so often. It's spicy and kicks you in the throat as it goes down but I do enjoy it.

    Brain Wash violently assaults all senses it can the instant you open the bottle. To call it 'spicy' seems a little too lenient on it. The smell is pungent and powerful alone. Whatever they used to dye the drink blue actually stains the bottle where it's been sitting around, waiting for it's next victim, perched on the shelf.

    The flavour it not unpleasant, it's the manner and presence it gives if you see what I mean. It's a harsh drink. It's the closest to neat whiskey a soft drink can get. This stuff is caustic. It rolls through your mouth with the subtlety of acid mixed with a shot of vodka. There's this strange sherbet taste to it that I seriously cannot place at the moment that manages to also be fragrant in the same way that bleach is. To add to the horror, Brain Wash will taint your mouth with it's mark by staining your mouth blue. Powerfully. Ever had one of those lollipops that colour your tongue? Imagine that but twenty times more effective. And persistent.

    There's around three types of Ginseng going into this thing...as well as a good deal of ingredients I don't actually understand. Actually, let's look at some of these...

    "A Herbal Blend of American, Siberian and Korean Ginseng, African Capsicum, Buchu, Echineacea, Jalapeno Oil, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginger, Gotu Kola, Kola Nut, Brazilian Guarana, Skullcap (Mad Dog Weed), Clove, Damiana, Sage, Sodium Benzoate (to preserve taste)"

    What the hell is Scullcap/Mad Dog Weed? A quick wiki turns up that Scutellaria lateriflora (Mad Dog Weed) is a type of mint. Because what this drink needed was another thing to add to the sucker punch of a flavour it has.

    Echinacea is a flower that's been linked to cancer and cold cures although, there's been nothing to confirm that it has any real significance. What it's doing in here, I couldn't tell you.

    Ginkgo Biloba, or the Maidenhair tree, are native to China. They're meant to be something of a living fossil as they've been around for so long, there's actual fossils of this trees leaves. It's allegedly got some properties to do with the improvement of memory and concentration. Nothing on it's flavour or significance here.

    Kola Nut (Centella asiatica) apparently has plenty of culinary uses, the most relevant being 'thandaayyee' which is not someone thanking someone while falling down a well but an Indian summer drink. So at least it started off as a drink and makes some sense.

    Damiana (Turnera diffusa) is a small flower that has been made into a tea, mixed with sugar then used as an aphrodisiac. In fact, 100% concentrations of the stuff has been banned but it's perfectly fine within this drink. I can't remember feeling any more frisky although Wikipedia said nothing about a human trial. And I'm not a rat. Again, why it's here, I couldn't tell you. It's almost like sprinkling in a little heroin to flavour your tea.

    I cannot fathom why this combination of ingredients are in this drink as only a handful have ever been used in beverages before (to my knowledge). I'm all for experimentation but this ingredients list makes Brain Wash sound more and more like a bizarre witches' brew. I definitely won't doubt that there is a customer base for it somewhere. Perhaps this concoction is popular in it's native America but for me, it's just kinda fascinatingly disgusting. And this is coming from the man that enjoys a Fish-Finger and Custard Sandwich every now and then. With all these weird and exotic ingredients, it feels like a kind of medicine but I cannot recommend anyone try it. Pick it up only if you're desperate for something new to try out. And only then, I'd say. I can see this being an acquired taste to some. Although, I am curious what the Red one is like...
  12. [youtube]Xrrk--PmnyA[/youtube]
    [size=+1]Team Fortress 2 - The Love and War Update - Day 1[/size]​

    So, now we get to see the new weapons that have been thrown into the game. My thoughts are resoundingly positive.

    While the video is fine, it's definitely the new stuff that takes precedence. So, what have we got?

    The Back Scatter

    Another shotgun for the scout that's based on the idea of hitting from behind. Huh, I kinda thought that was the Force-a-nature. Eh, never mind, it seems like a decent enough gun. The idea of the Scout trying to get the drop on enemies is hardly new but it's good to see this encouraged with this weapon. My only concern is actually using the damn thing for anything other than shooting people in the back as it not only has a smaller clip size but it's also 20% less accurate.

    Wait, does that mean it scatters it's shot more? Or less? With a shotgun, do you want a wide scope or for all the pellets to reach your target? I think it might be the former. Which would suggest you'll be spreading your buckshot thin but you'll likely catch more. I don't mind this.

    The Tide Turner
    A shield that refills the charge meter after a kill while charging.

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Good idea. Sounds powerful enough to ensure the demonight doesn't die out. Good going!

    The Base Jumper
    Again, a really, really good idea. I can see so many possible applications for this. Especially considering the Soldier's advantage when he has the high ground. Now he can keep hold of it for longer! Splash damage is usually at it's best from a high distance so I am totally all for this. Cannot wait to pick this one up.

    The Classic
    Weird name but really interesting sniper rifle. The ability to charge your shot in and out of scoping is very interesting as it allows the player some ability to defend themselves if they're caught. The nerf to body damage is perfectly fine to me as a sniper should be looking for headshots anyway and this rifle encourages them greatly. I'd like to know how long this charge is for but otherwise, neat!

    The Air Strike

    A weapon that get's more shots the more you kill? Yes please! It's clearly meant to be used with the Base Jumper or the Gunboats and it's obviously geared towards rocket jumping and then raining down a little pain at full altitude if you can. I think I need to start looking into getting back into TF2 just to find this rocket launcher as it's applications, while geared to one thing, it sounds very interesting indeed.

    The Bread Items
    Meh. Bit of fun I suppose but they're just palette swaps. I won't be clamouring to use them.

    So, the update is now live, meaning you can go and grab your loot now. The thing is...will there be a third day? I'm wondering if there is and whether there was anything for the other classes like Pyro or Medic. It would seem decent as they rarely get anything in updates.
  13. [youtube]GLlLQ3LmZWU[/youtube]
    [size=+1]Team Fortress 2 - The Love and War Update - Day 1[/size]​

    I am a pretty big TF2 fan. I love this series to bits. The game is solid action with enough depth to keep you trying new stuff out should you be inclined. It's fun, it's funny. It's also incredibly silly. There's a great deal of talent, intelligence and fun that went into this game. When I want to shoot my fellow man for an hour or so, I do it with a rocket launcher I made myself out of scrap and I do it on TF2.

    You know what I love almost more so? The backstory.

    If you find yourself with a spare afternoon, go and read up on the TF2 backstory because it is not only hilarious but apparently becoming very relevant now. The game can only deliver so much in the way of personality for these nine nutters with weaponry so the regular comic series they've commissioned has allowed for these big characters to start coming out of their shells while they tell the story behind the battles.

    Want a quick version? Eh...I'll try...

    The first part you should know by now: Two brothers have hired teams of mercenaries (that's you) to fight over largely worthless plots of land and control over the Mann Co. Gravel Empire. The company is owned by muscle-bound hyperman Saxton Hale. There is also the Administrator, and her assistant Pauline, who have been playing the opposing teams of mercenaries off against each other for her own gain for years. The two brothers in charge have grown so old from this constant fighting that they actually build life-support machines to keep them alive as long as possible to hopefully outlive the other. This has not worked.

    Primarily because a third, estranged brother has killed them himself.

    Gray Mann and his army of robots has attempted to wrestle the Mann Co. company from Saxton Hale for a while now. However, he's finally done it. Using what appears to be his daughter, Hale has been defeated and Gray has taken over the company. This means that the Mercenaries have been fired and the fighting ceased.

    Gray attempts to find the store of Australium Hale is supposed to have been locked away by Hale but it's apparently all gone. This is what's needed for Gray Mann to recharge his own life-support machine. With his own life in the balance and the Administrator apparently vanished along with this priceless metal, Gray searches tirelessly for her and the Australium.

    Meanwhile, Pauline has been reassembling the Mercenary Team, one by one. Why? I don't know but as long as Soldier doesn't have to live in a box, the Demo has a job, the Spy and Scout don't have to hang for crimes they didn't commit and the Pyro gets to keep that Puppy, I don't mind.

    However, Gray Mann is plotting to get them. He's hired the now elderly characters from Team Fortress Classic to try and deal with the Mercenaries with only one addition: the Red Team Medic has joined them in the hunt for his former comrades. Does he care? Nope! It's a chance to see whether his experimentation has gotten better over time.

    You see, this world is insane. However, it's also incomplete.

    If there's one problem with all this, it's that the backstory now has a large hole in it. The comic book stops just as they're about to find The Sniper. So...Why is he right there and...What is the Medic doing there in the video? Clearly there's a little time skipping that no-one's gapped yet which saddens me. I'm being robbed of a TF2 verses TFC battle here! On top of crucial plot threads!

    Am I too disappointed? No, because this video was hilarious and awesome. I adored the interaction between the characters because, by jiminy, it's so rare to see from Valve. It's also so much fun! There's jokes and back chat from almost all the characters. There's even continuations from the comic's trends, like Scout's crush on Pauline and the Soldier's uncanny ability to get them all in stupid amounts of trouble.

    The guy was roommates with a wizard and killed Tom Jones, he's a walking disaster area.

    I'm seriously enjoying all of this because it's just so well paced and scripted. I was even gripped by the death plot as it genuinely could have been the end for these bright and colourful characters. That hooked me in so much! I care about these guys and it's such a simple plot device to keep you watching.

    It's masterful. It's an artful piece of comedy and action. It's part of the reason why I love Team Fortress 2 so much.

    I suppose I should talk about the new taunts too? Umm...They seem OK. Kinda like the interactions you can use in Portal 2 between the two robots in the 'Co-Operative Testing Initiative'. Again, it's another outlet for the mad cartoon that is this game.

    Still, I cannot wait for day two. It might be greedy, but I'd love another short. Or even another comic to start plugging the time gap and continue the story. There's also been a hint of new weapons and items. I say, neat! TF2 can always use new weapons. I just wonder what they'll be.

    Oooo...It's like a mini-christmas!
  14. [youtube]jqvraGNfKVY[/youtube]​
  15. Two reivews in one week? I must be spoiling you.

    [size=+1]The Pokemon Trading Card Game[/size]​

    So, I'm messing around with something I actually do have to memories with. Again.

    So, I touched on the fact that Poke-Mania was at it's absolute height while I was in school and the Nintendo Game Boy had another ace in it's deck against every parent's wallet: Pokemon Blue, Red and Yellow. Every child had or wanted something Pokemon related. If you couldn't get the toys, you could watch the show, that was shown every single saturday on SM:TV live. This was an English, saturday morning kids show where you'd get shoddy sketches that were funnier when no one gave a crap (which seemed to be every week), competitions and cartoons to watch with your (then) gordy pals Ant and Dec with Cat Deeley.

    This is the sketch they'd do before every episode of Pokemon was played. They're dressed as Gary and Misty having a battle, not a prepubescent Doc Brown and Applejack getting caught making out.

    Outside of that, there were the toys and the cards. I remember collecting tons of these things. I think I just enjoyed collecting them, their designs interesting and the desire to fill out my collection like a little flattened Pokedex I kept together with a rubber band was pretty enjoyable a pastime with my friends, who'd swap cards with me all the time. We got into so many arguments over them too. It could get very heated if we had a rare card that the other wanted but might have been...borrowed without permission or traded for something that wasn't worth it. I didn't, of course, but others I can't speak for...

    What I find odd is that I never learned to play the game until 2014 when I brought a new deck of the cards. Namely, the Fennekin deck. At this point, the game had moved on but not enough that I couldn't catch up. Sure, it's been over a decade since I cared about Pokemon cards and using them for their intended purpose was all the fun I was likely to get out of these things and I am actually pleased I did as it turns out the Pokemon Trading Card Game (Pokemon TCG for short) is pretty fun. It mirrors the RPG games but has it's own twists and alternatives that made Pokemon battles fresh for me.

    So, I should start with the rules. They're reasonably simple.

    Both players have two decks of 60 cards. You can have any cards you like in there but only four of each card (except energies) are allowed. You have some counters to show damage, poison and burns then a coin for coin tosses. To start the game, you lay down some prize cards that are picked up for defeating your opponent's Pokemon. Then you draw some cards to make up your first hand. If you have a basic Pokemon to lay down, you can start. If not, you draw more cards until you do. Choose a basic Pokemon to start off with and some to go into the bench and your away!

    From here, your aims are to either defeat all your opponents usable Pokemon or pick up all your Prize cards. If you run out of cards to draw from your deck, you will lose automatically and give the game to your opponent.

    Should you win, you too can heroically pose with a pokeball, looking pleased with yourself. In fact, it's compulsory according to the rule book, as well as standing in your local town and challenging strangers that pass by your field of vision.

    Now, it's this rule that the first issue of Pokemon TCG kinda springs up. While rare, you can get completely screwed over in your first few turns if you only have one usable Basic Pokemon. All your opponent need do is defeat whatever you put forwards while your trying to find anything to back your team up in some way. Random chance is a big deciding factor in some games, as you can only receive new cards from either the prize area or your deck.

    However, some cards can negate this crap shoot by allowing you to search your deck for what it specified. Granted, you're made to shuffle every time so that your stream of new cards was kept a mystery but it always felt like a handy ability to keep near by because it could just save your game from stagnation. Or even inactivity.

    From this point onwards, the game is just like the Game Boy games...almost.

    For every action your Pokemon can take, they must have a matching number of energy cards attached to them. And you can only attach one energy during your turn. Some cards will let you get around such a rule but it's a constant rule and a possible delay to any plans you make as you warm your Pokemon up with a new energy at every opportunity you get. This is the first major alteration to the Game Boy games by swapping out PP for mandatory energy costs. The time spent between laying down a Pokemon and racing to power up a move so you can start to cause damage is crucial as it leaves your Pokemon, and your chances of winning, in a vulnerable position. When both players have no energies on their active Pokemon, this isn't an issue. But when only one does, it's a little daunting to scramble energies together. It pays to spread your energies around to all of your benched Pokemon too, on the off chance they get booted out to deal with whatever your opponent has left.

    Pictured: Adding Energy Cards to your Pokemon

    I don't think this is a bad system, however. It lets you get your opponent on the ropes if they make a mistake. If you were careless, you can get punished for it. That's excellent in a competitive game like this as there's plenty of cards and attacks that can take advantage of this rule. If you spot a pokemon with no energies, you have the chance of pulling it into active play and then pummeling it to pick up a cheeky prize card. It's a touch underhanded but it's hardly something that feels like cheating. That could mean the difference between victory and saving what's left of your pride.

    Another rule is the requirement that you can only lay down the required Basic Pokemon before you can bring evolution cards into play. While you can evolve any number of Pokemon at any time during your turn as long as you have their next stage card in your hand. But, you can only evolve a pokemon once and you can't if you've played that basic card that turn. Again, I don't mind this. It keeps some semblance of balance between each player no matter what's in their deck. Evolved pokemon tend to be very powerful and desirable, making getting them pretty high on the wishlist of your game but take some time to build up. Your opponent is clearly doing the game at all times, however, making it a race of tactics and luck to get the cards you need ASAP.

    Pictured: Evolving your Pokemon

    But, there's a pleasant freedom to this idea as well. You don't have to have pokemon that evolve as some basic pokemon can be seriously powerful on their own despite having no higher stages, meaning you can get a decent damage output without the dependency on evolution cards. Furthermore, you have control over what you put in your deck to rigging it to your advantage is a must. Whether you prefer to screw over your opponent with special rules or pokemon switches, burn through your deck a little quicker to get what you want or even use cards to search your deck for what you need. As long as it's within the 60 card limit, you can do anything.

    In fact, it's interesting that all cards have a use. Weak pokemon can be send out as a martyr while your bench is evolved and energized. All trainer cards can be played when you like on your turn and you can play more than one. Plus, energies are now like gold dust to me when they used to be those weird cards I never cared about...except for the rare variants. Your hand rarely feels like a waste unless you get some serious bad luck or you have not thought your deck through properly. It's pretty satisfying to see your patience in deck building pay off.

    The game doesn't seem all that difficult to pick up and learn but I think the most frustrating thing about it is that chance of being utterly stunned by your deck. It's rare if you've set your deck up correctly with a nice balance of what you like to play with but it's perfectly possible for powerful cards to either be at the bottom of your deck or one of your prize cards. It's a little more like a form of poker where you rig the deck however you like as the skill comes from dealing with whatever you're handed. But, your deck being stunted because you're shuffling has hidden your best cards can knock you for six, even if you don't make the best move.

    You might not get that energy you need. Or that evolution to deal with your opponents pokemon. Or that one stadium card you were banking on. A random chance element is a big part of most trading card games as far as I have seen so this is not anything new but definitely a shock to a card game virgin such as myself as having the game stun my progress so thoroughly was jarring.

    Not having that one card you just know could swing the balance can send you nuts too. Such as this beast right here!

    But I enjoy this game. The strategy and differences to it's source material got me back into Pokemon after so many years of being only so-so with the more recent RPG games. It's own idiosyncrasies are probably more engaging for me than the RPG as it requires more forethought and tactical thinking than mashing 'A' until everything falls over.

    Oh! I should talk about the decks and booster packs too...Well, they're all reasonably priced with a wide variety of decks to play with for about £10 over here with booster packs hovering around £2 to £3. And they're fine! I have little complaints as the boosters seem to have a decent number and the decks always have some powerful cards inside. I haven't seen one I haven't wanted at all yet.

    What's even more intriguing is the Online game. The Pokemon Trading Card Online is arguably one of the smartest moves I've seen for this game. In essence, it's a digital and free-to-play version of the game. It reminds me of a modern and card-based Pokemon Colosseum as your only choices are to fight in matches against Computer or Human opponents over the internet. The Computer seems to give you a decent challenge but the online players can range from equal to super-mega-incredibly-sprinkles-mecha powerful. Consider yourself warned.

    Plus, you get to play against pre-pubescent M. Night Shyamalan!

    What's weird about the Pokemon TCG Online is just how generous it feels. While every single card is virtual and therefore costs them nothing to give you, they seem to give you tons of them. They start you off with a fire, water and grass deck box to start playing and messing around with as you please. Also, as you win matches, you're given coins. These buy virtual goodies like card sleeves and deck boxes that are entirely aesthetic but the cheapest thing here is the booster packs. If you play for an hour, maybe too, you'll breeze through at least one booster pack with the AI but the humans are gonna make you sweat for those coins.

    I find this curiously pleasing. They're at a decent price that doesn't seem to far outside of the realm of possibility. However, there's got to be a way of paying for coins and just going on a booster pack spree. Or maybe buying up all the available decks?

    Well, no. There isn't. You earn these coins. No pay-to-win there.

    Instead, they do things Skylander's Style!

    Trust me! It sounds weird but I know what I'm doing! Especially this time!

    For every physical booster pack you buy, you get a code that gives you a free virtual pack of the same type. Now, they don't contain the same card because of the unpredictable nature of the packs but that's still a decent system as you'll have both to play with. One with your friends when you meet them, one for all the friends you can't see face to face. Decks have the same thing except they will match the cards in the deck in the virtual version because they are predictable. Again, it's a pretty neat concept that's a decent optional extra for anyone that wants it.

    The game itself? Damn good. It's a little lacking in music for some places but I always found myself too focused on what I was doing to care. Otherwise, it's a great way of practicing the game and all it's rules in an environment where it barely matters. The computer will also take you through the game as well as let you know what legal moves you have left by showing you what you can interact with clearly. You can right-click any upturned card to read it too, helping your knowledge of the game as you read up on stuff.

    But the Physical and Virtual decks are all optional though. You don't need one to play the other as they stand alone perfectly well but they compliment each other in a pleasing and non-intrusive way. The virtual deck system feels like a bonus and a greater incentive to buy pokemon cards. You effectively double whatever you buy.

    So, Pokemon has started me off on my interest in Card Based games. It's a decent game that I honestly wished I had learned when I was younger because damn! I would have collected totally different stuff when I was a kid! I would have had completely different fights too...

    With cards like these, who needs friends? Or front teeth?