What I’ve been up to


Destiny_2

I haven’t posted on here for a while.  Well, apart from going away on holiday for a long weekend last week, I haven’t been watching any movies and have more been concentrating on a combination of work and in my leisure time, playing some games.  Currently I’m playing Destiny 2 on Xbox One which I had pre-ordered a while back.  Short impressions?  I’m really digging it.  It’s not exactly far removed from Destiny 1, bar some improvements and polish to the formula, such as now being able to travel to different locations without returning to orbit.  I put many hours into Destiny 1 and can see me putting just as much time into this sequel.  The advent of clans and easier to be a part of fire teams seems an added incentive also.  Graphically it’s no slouch either, with varied planets to explore and great effects and atmosphere.  The core combat is also as satisfying as it ever was.  The game could greatly do with some new enemy types however but apart from that I’m having a great time.

Steam World Dig 2

Another game I’m enjoying is Steam World Dig 2 on the Nintendo Switch.  I liked the look of this game from footage I’d seen a while back and it’s as fun and interesting an experience as I’d hoped.  What can I say – platform exploration mixed with mining / digging is like gaming crack, and I find it very appealing that I want to rush back to the game time and time again.  It may be a 2D platformer but it has colourful, vibrant graphics with a charming art-style and plenty of detail.  I don’t have much else to say other than give it a try if curious.

I also got my hands on the highly anticipated Sonic Mania.  I have the Switch version and boy, I’d forgot how difficult Sonic used to be.  It’s sort of a celebration / re-imagining of the first 3 Sonic The Hedgehog games from waaaay back on the Sega Megadrive, with a few new stages added in for good measure.  Although I’m enjoying it and it’s still a great deal of addictive fun, it’s reliance on old-school pixel graphics is a little disappointing – a bit of refinement here and there would’ve been nice – and a few new animations only adds so much.  Overall for a Switch game it’s at times a bit ugly.  Yet as a celebration of a famed videogame character, I guess it does it’s job well enough.

twin-peaks

I finished watching Twin Peaks Season 3 also, and have come away somewhat disheartened.  The ending, without spoiling just left me thinking ‘wtf?’ and many plot threads (if they can be called that – this was not your usual show) failed to go anywhere.  I’m leaving my final verdict until after I’ve re-watched the whole season on Blu-ray where I can really study it … not that I’m really expecting to come away all that wiser.  We’ll see.  Yet I will say this:  as a purely artistic, utterly surreal ‘vision’ and as a return to film-making by acclaimed director David Lynch it was still effective, and at times amazing – but satisfying?  The jury’s still out on that one.

I have some movie reviews in the pipe line and a few other ideas for this blog, so keep an eye out for further updates soon.

Craig.

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My gaming history – Part 2


In the early nineties, I was in possession of two more gaming systems, firstly the much famed Sega Megadrive (aka Genesis) as well as another micro-computer, the Commodore Amiga 600.  Now for a long time, along with the Amstrad CPC 464 computer, I had found my gaming hobby growing, mostly down to having friends who had the same systems as me (mostly the Amstrad), and borrowing games and building a collection.  However it was time to movie on and if memory serves me correct, my parents got me a Megadrive for Christmas one year.  The only real issue with such a console was that compared to what I had been used to with the Amstrad, the games were much more expensive, and well let’s say the at the time bundled ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ was my only game for the system.  Not that I was complaining – I’d never seen graphics like that in my life and it was a firm favourite.

megadrive

I later with some saving and borrowing was able to get hold of games like Revenge of ‘Shinobi’, ‘Road Rash’ … as well as being able to rent some titles from my local video rental store.  One firm memory I have of this era though was the rather guilty confession of seeking out ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’, which was a later Christmas present and I remember finding it when looking for prezzies in my parent’s bedroom, and having a cheeky play on it when they weren’t at home…then putting it back and acting all surprised Christmas morning.  No, I’m not proud of myself but I was only about 14!.

Road Rash    Sonic the Hedgehog

I think I had the Commodore Amiga 600 a little after the Sega Megadrive and it was one of a series of computers that were all the craze at school amongst my friends.  When I had the Amstrad everyone talked about the Amiga (and it’s nearest rival at the time the Atari ST) both home computer’s which were like a more user-friendly, cheaper alternative to the PC which was more an office system back then and not as widely available.  The micro-computer boom fizzled out in the mid to late nineties when consoles and PCs became more popular (with the success various Sega and Nintendo systems ruling the nineties).  Yet despite owning a Megadrive, to have an Amiga made me feel like I was finally a part of a bigger, more respected crowd, and it was a system I really enjoyed.  I would buy, borrow and (ahem…copy) many games for the system and firm favourites were ‘Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge’, ‘The Chaos Engine’, ‘Alien Breed’, ‘Turrican’ (1 & 2), ‘Formula One Grand Prix’ and ‘Syndicate’.  I formed a friendship with a friend of mine that worked in a shop and both owning an Amiga developed a friendship that still exists today.  Good times.

Amiga 600

Monkey Island 2  Turrican 2

In part 3 I’ll be taking a look at the advent of PlayStation … the console to get that was marketed quite unlike other consoles before it.

Ori and the Blind Forest – impressions


Ori and the Blind Forest

I’ll admit, the latest blockbuster game over a smaller indie game will normally hold my attention much longer every time.  However recently that has changed, and with the release of the gorgeous old-school platformer ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’, my once feverish love of platforming games, harking back to the glory days of Sonic The Hedgehog, has been restored.

You play as a woodland spirit who after the death of his adoptive mother, he has to fend for himself in a sprawling forest in hope of returning it to it’s former glory.  I can’t say the story is the big pull here, and it’s fairly whimsical and vague at best, but the setting … this ultra-detailed woodland environment is a sheer wonder to behold.  This is certainly the best looking old-school platformer I have ever seen, utilising the graphical power of XB1 (and XB360, this is a Microsoft exclusive, so it’s also on the PC), to create a world that’s really fun to explore.  Now this is no easy children’s game, despite it’s cute looks – there are puzzles, platforming acrobatics and a wealth of abilities to upgrade that make every area fiendishly tricky.  Trick as in, it never feels like I can’t get past an area, it’s just going to take timing, memorization and a bit of skill.  That’s the addictive quality of this game and each new section presents new ways to play and explore and combat enemies.  It’s also a huge game and over 8 hours in I am still finding new places and earning new skills.

from my channel on YouTube

For £15.99 this is a must buy.  It borrows heavily from games such as Metroid and Sonic The Hedgehog and wear’s it’s clichés proudly – it doesn’t do a lot new, but gimmicks in my opinion have ruined many a decent looking platformer in the past, and this just does what it does very well indeed.

Essential.

Sonic 4: Episode 1 impressions


I have loved the Sonic The Hedgehog games ever since their debut on the classic Megadrive.  That was my first console outside of 8 bit and 16 bit computers like Amstrad and Amiga.  The simplicity and addictiveness made for many hours of gameplay.  I didn’t pursue the series as relentlessly as some players though, and after ‘Sonic 2’ I next came across the blue rodent with Sega’s ill fated Dreamcast.  That first foray into 3D proved entertaining but lacked the ‘one more go’ appeal of the classics.  It was a design choice that became the character’s Achilles heal however, and although graphics got better, Sega’s insistence on keeping the game 3D divided audiences.

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