Sunday, 31 December 2017

Farewell, 2017.

Another year has ended, just about! With only a few hours to go, it's time for a little mini-retrospective of things I've made this year. I'm expanding to include stuff beyond my writing this time, and there will be videos I made or participated in as we go along. Here are the quick highlights, then!

Don't You Mess With A Little Girl's Dream, Or She's Liable To Grow Up Mean (Metroid: Rogue Dawn)

A huge sprawling piece motivated from beating the ROM hack Metroid: Rogue Dawn in January. I really liked doing this one, as I got to get real crunchy in a way I hadn't in a long while and let loose. Metroid has been a series that's inspired those esoteric weird thoughts in me, and it was good to get those out. The post is a little outdated now that an official Metroid II reimagining has occured, but this was still good to write.

Dark Souls 2: A Trip Report/Boss Critique: [Part 1] [Part 2]

Opinionated hard game writing. My favorite. Dark Souls 2 was a game that rubbed me in many ways. Some right, some unfortunate. It was all over the place and in these boss fight analyses I find a great deal of time to complain. That's me to a T, though. It was good to be critical in a different fashion, and I got to be a salty old fart about Souls games. What's not to love?

The Five Worst Doctor Who Stories EVER (That I Actually Kind Of Love)

Oh, this was a fun one to do. Finding a defense for some of the most unloved stories in Doctor Who history was a tricky one to do, but I found my groove. It took a lot of effort and note taking to get it done, but I'm pleased with the end result. There's nothing I love more than going to bat for unloved Doctor Who, and maybe I even made somebody reconsider! Possibly. I dunno. Either way, I liked this.

Trapped In A Maze Of Relationships (Persona 4 Golden)

The biggest non-novel thing I did this year, a massive 5000-plus word screed about how Persona 4 is a good game with good feelings. It was one of my Games Of The Year 2017, so you know it left a mark on me. I honestly don't have more to say beyond the fact that I believe I wrote this all in one sitting on the morning after I beat it. Just a white-hot stream of content from my brain to the Internet. Wild. Wild, but good.

A Psychic History: A Magically-Imbued Walking Tour In Gander, Newfoundland

Now this was out there. I attempted to become a third-rate psychogeographer and chart a journey and personal history through the bustling city streets of Gander, Newfoundland. I don't know if it worked, but it was way out of left field for me and sort of a trial run for something I'd love to try more of. It's easily the most out of my comfort zone I went this year, and for that I'm proud of it.

Doctor Who Reviews: Oxygen

Sure, I had my own First Impressions posts on Doctor Who and we'll see one later... but a nod to my pal Rainiac. He's dedicated enough to have done weekly podcasts on the show as it aired this year, and I got to be a part of several of them! I'm thankful for that, so here is me giving him a signal boost on what ended up being one of the best episodes of S10 Doctor Who. I could have picked the one I bitched about, but I went positive. For now.

Fairune: A Review

I dunno. Of all the formal traditional computer game reviews I did this year, it's this one that stands out the most to me. I tapped into some sort of passion for the thing and how I encountered it, and I really like how it turned out. They're good words for a good game, and I have very little to say otherwise.

Let's Play Shantae: Half-Genie Hero

That's right, I am a Let's Play type originally! This is the only actual LP I did in 2017, and it's of one of my new favorite games ever. I did it on the then-new Hardcore Mode because I'm some sort of Hard Game Monster, and I think I did pretty great at this! There's some bitching in there to fill commentary time, but all in all I love the game and like this.

Ninja Gaiden SPEEDRUN In 14:08

My friend Polly got me into trying a speedrun this year, and after a week this was the result. I have not refined it since, but I'm nonetheless proud of what a week's grind could produce. Perhaps 2018 will see me dust it down to a sub-13, or try out MORE games I love fast. Who knows?

Vlog: Grand Bank September 2017- A Beautiful Basement Of Old And New [Part 1] [Part 2]

Somewhat related to that whole third-rate psychogeographer thing are my Grand Bank travel vlogs. I adore this sleepy little place in the south of Newfoundland, and filming my interactions there help make the experience more enjoyable. It also gives me a way to relive those good times, and show off a perfect place to the masses. Please enjoy the lovely scenery and basement ramblings and whatnot.

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams (All Of It)

I really love the spooky marathon tradition that I've started here. Over the month of October I got to write words about all sorts of things from all sorts of sources, and really broaden my creative horizons. Where else did I talk about songs and 60 year-old movies? Nowhere else. I shall have to do another one of these in 2018, but what I'll talk about I have no idea. We'll worry about that in about 9 months, huh?

Both Of The Articles From Last Week

After resting my fingers for most of December, I always end up blitzing out a lot of content before year's end, due to the GOTY lists and the Doctor Who Christmas specials. You've likely already seen them as they're so recent, but here they are again! The Doctor Who one is my tearful goodbye to the Moffat era and Peter Capaldi, and the GOTY list is a celebration of everything that impressed me this year. What fun.

Frezno's 10 Year Let's Play Anniversary Retrospective Clip Show!!!

As of this evening, I have been making those Let's Play videos for a full-on decade. The pals and fans I've made along the way are treasures, and the memories priceless. I would not have this blog and the eyes that are on it were it not for me making those videos, and I'm eternally grateful. To commemorate this, I made a little clip show/retrospective where I waxed nostalgic and showed old footage of my highlights. Here's to however many years more I do this shit.

And so we close out the year. I've used this final space in year-end writeups past to highlight some character from my Game Of The Year, and talk hopeful for the upcoming new unknown. So, this time it's Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4. May her elegance and grace bless you for the year ahead. 2017 had its good spots, and it had its bad spots. Much like Persona 4 in that regard, actually. Hold on to those good memories. That's what Yukiko here represents: the good feelings from 2017 that will stick with you as you move into 2018. Keep them close, like a good luck charm. Happy New Year to you all, and may 2018 bring as much happiness as possible, for both you and I...

Friday, 29 December 2017

Frezno's Games Of The 2017 Thing!

Well, here we go again. 2017's setting just behind the big magical year mountains, and 2018 is about to crest over the... other big magical year mountains. This metaphor got away from me, but the point is that I played LOTS AND LOTS OF COMPUTER GAMES in 2017! It's time for another go-around retrospective of the most interesting, emotionally affecting, and/or Just Plain Fun things that I ended up blasting through this year. Expect a lot of arbitrary categories, some with more than one entry in them because I can't kill my darlings and this is my own goddamned list so I MAKE THE RULES HOORAY HAHA. I'm really excited to get into this whole thing and gush about stuff, so let's get right on rolling with Frezno's Games Of The 2017 Thing!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: 2017 Christmas Special (Twice Upon A Time)

I'm seein' double! FOUR Doctors!
Oh fuck. Here we are, at long last. For months I've pondered what I would write here. Now we're here... and where do I even begin? It's not just the end of Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who, but the end of Steven Moffat's seven-year tenure as the head of it all. It's a particularly bittersweet finale for me personally. I did some review podcasts with my pal Rainiac in the Matt Smith years, but it was the Peter Capaldi era where I became a regular guest, just to his immediate virtual left. Not only that, but 2014 and the start of the Peter Capaldi era is where I made a request on a whim. I pitched the idea of doing Doctor Who First Impressions to the webmistress of a site called Boss Dungeon, Andrea Ritsu. She said yes, and I got through the first series on there. Boss Dungeon's gone now, and those writeups are still here on the blog... but the point is, a girl giving me a chance to write about something I loved started all of this. I can't thank Andrea enough. Point is, the Peter Capaldi era is when I started looking at this show I love dearly with a more critical analysis mindset. It has enriched my enjoyment of the thing, in letting me analyse running themes and motifs in greater detail. Would I have adored Clara Oswald as much if I hadn't picked up on those teacher/mirror of the Doctor details? Maybe not. Writing about this era of the show made me love it more, and now that era has waltzed off into the sunset. Let's give Capaldi, and Moffat, one last critical analysis. Let's talk, you and I, about Twice Upon A Time.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 31 (Halloween H20)

Happy Halloween! Was it a productive day? Did you get any Halloween treats? I have a bunch left over so I'm currently snacking on shit intended to be given to nine year-olds in masks. We gave out Reese's cups. Y'know. The good shit. Of course, as a grown-ass adult I can't go out and get candy from strangers... so instead I watched movies with the horrifying death of human beings as spooky entertainment. John Carpenter's Halloween has become a tradition for me since 2013, and rewatching it today it's just as great. I wrote about it last year as the capstone for this, and yeah. Still good! I hold a fair bit of disdain for Halloween 2, and it doesn't really do much for me beyond being Halloween Part 2: This Time With MORE Grisly Kills! Beyond Halloween 3 I don't really care to go after any of the sequels... save this one. The idea of this one sounded neat enough that I figured I'd give it a spin. A Godzilla 1984 sort of situation that ignores all of that other stuff I don't care about to be a years-later sequel to the original... and I guess by extension Halloween 2 has to be there because it also continues the Laurie Strode plotline. Fine, okay, it's canon. What does the world of Halloween look like 20 years later, its own future update now almost as old as the original was at the time? Join me for one last haunt and we'll find out.

Monday, 30 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 30 (Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei)

One last song and dance before the finale, kids! We've got a doozy of a secret origin here, as these are the roots of a long-running series. Shin Megami Tensei and its various branches are a hell of a thing, and this year I completed two of them. The first, Persona 4 Golden, was a complete masterpiece and I wrote 5000 words about it. It is almost assuredly the second-best, if not best, video computer game I played this year. The second game, on the other hand, was the original. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. Well, the Super Famicom remake, but who's counting? I didn't really write about it, though I likely could have. Good thing I didn't, because now I can do this. That first game was actually a loose adaptation of a series of horror novels... and the first of those novels was actually turned into a Japanese OVA. It was watching that which got me to play Megami Tensei the first, and now I've returned to waffle about it for a few hundred words as one of the closers of our marathon. Dig in, kids. We're going into one hell of a world here.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 29 (Black Mirror)

Finally, something that's a little more straightforward. It still manages to be fucked up in a lot of ways, but in that good late October way where we indulge the darker side of things. Black Mirror is kind of what the name says; a twisted and weird reflection of our world and how certain elements of it can lead to nightmare dystopia scenarios. I guess it's kind of like The Twilight Zone for the modern age, being an anthology show... but there's no weird supernatural bullshit like aliens in the two episodes I watched. The ideas presented in these episodes probably won't happen in our world, but they're natural outcroppings of current themes in our culture. Or something. Black Mirror has something to say about the human condition, and it manages to do that with weird and wild fucked up scenarios. I should get into those episodes, huh? Only two this time, unlike the three I gave Star Trek... but the latter was a 90-minute one so it ends up being the same amount of time spent on it. I trusted Twitter pals to tell me which ones to go for, and ended up with these two. If there are better spooky-themed ones in the show, then my apologies. This is what I picked, and they were fucked enough to warrant inclusion on the blog. Without ado, let's pop on in.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 28 (Doctor Who: Ghost Light)

I like this image 'cause it makes the mansion look like
I really don't make things easy for myself, even near the end, do I? Granted, I have picked a pet era of mine to play with. We're in the wild and wonderful word of Sylvester McCoy-era Doctor Who, the last dying embers of the classic series. This is where I first got my feet wet in the history of Doctor Who as a thing other than that new and flashy show I'd been watching for a few years, and everything here is basically genius in some way. I already covered one of its twelve stories this year when I made a passionate defense of Paradise Towers, but this is equally as tricky. It's not that Ghost Light is a bad story. It's the 80th best story ever, according to fan poll malarkey. It's... a bit of a heavy one, though. More than that, I have to tie it into the spooky season somehow. That shouldn't be too hard, as it has a spooky Gothic Victorian atmosphere and deals with a muted version of what was going on in Event Horizon, with the idea of a place itself being bad. Let's try and dive into this as best we can.

Friday, 27 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 27 (Event Horizon)

Sorry not sorry. 
Well now, that was... interesting, to say the least. Thank goodness I'm back in my usual spot of talking about movies and TV shows and stuff. Sure, I do it just as surface level as the other things, but it's like a comfort food at this point and I'm used to how it works and how to talk about it. To that end, here's a 20 year old space horror movie. Event Horizon is a strange beast, at once feeling like it's plucking elements from other popular horror films and, at the same time, being its own wholly original and unique-ish thing. Some of the concepts it works with really resonate well with me, especially the reveals late in the movie. I admit though, that as soon as I saw Paul Anderson's name on this I was expecting a goofy trash-fest akin to his Resident Evil movies (next year maybe?). To my surprise, this plays it fairly straight. It's a pretty decent little spooky space film, so let's do the usual thing and delve into it for like a couple hundred words or whatever. Boy howdy am I going to appreciate only having to do that much when November hits and I'm doing 1700 fiction words a day. Anyway. Event Horizon!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 26 (Kraven's Last Hunt)

(Hey kids, just wanted to pre-empt this one with a respectable plug since it's basically the reason I'm doing this. Pal of the blog, Sean Dillon, requested this one. He's also doing a great big longform psychochronography project on it, and God help him with that quest. Go check out his blog, Fearful Symmetry , for that. Now for my far less thorough and surface level take...)

Another day, another medium I've never really tried to write critical about, and another subject that makes you go "what the fuck does this have to do with Halloween?" at first glance. I wondered much the same when I looked into what this was. A 6-part Spider-Man comic? With Kraven? Fucking KRAVEN? I admit my only real Spider-Man knowledge comes from the 90's cartoon series, so I immediately recognize Kraven as "that jungle hunter fucker". Someone like the Green Goblin or Venom seems like a bigger spooky threat to Spider-Man, based on their importance to that mythos in general. That this works at all may be a minor miracle, but I'm here to tell you that it does indeed pull it off. Even better, it manages to have some gnarly and wild shit in it that makes it a good choice indeed for a spooky marathon. Let's go through it, then. Kraven's Last Hunt.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 25 (Haunting Kate Bush Songs)

Oh, for the love of God. What the hell am I doing here? Here, with a week to go until the end of the spooky marathon, trying some totally unknown writing avenues to me. Lord knows I have enough spooky media around that I can view, but instead? Here I am. Trying out musical analysis. I don't know much about music other than what I like, which is going to make all of this frightfully amateur in its deep diving. Thankfully, since I'm not really a professional writer or anything, everything I do on here is frightfully amateur. That's enough bitching about it, so let's get into it. Kate Bush. By god, I love Kate Bush. She's in my top three of songstresses who have changed my life for the better with their music. Her songs can get weird, wild... and yes, spooky at times. I'm going to look at three Kate Bush songs with spooky undertones to them, and waffle about 'em a bit and do my usual thing. Or try to. Crank up those speakers and get ready for a big mood, 'cause it's time to listen to some Kate Bush, and we start with...

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 24 (Live A Live: Science Fiction Chapter)

I can't let you do that, Nanmo.
Huh? What in the fuck is this? This is an odd pick at first glance, I know. What in the world does it have to do with the spooky season? We'll get to that, but I first need to explain what this even is. Live A Live is a Japan-only Squaresoft RPG for the Super Nintendo, a somewhat little obscure gem buried back there. Behind your Final Fantasies and Chrono Triggers are a whole bunch of weird and wild Squaresoft games, and this is one of them. Live A Live's unique conceit is that it's split into a bunch of smaller chapters that you choose from in any order, each with their own protagonist and genre setting. There's a prehistoric setting with cave people in the Stone Age, a Wild West setting with cowboys and bandits, a ninja setting with lots of stealthy options, and so forth. After you clear the initial seven, you unlock some extra ones and the true plot of the game is revealed. Without spoiling anything, it's full of a lot of shocking twists that really surprised me back when I played it. It's absolutely worth a look. As to our purposes? Well, a single chapter of this can be blown through in about an hour or two. I fired Live A Live back up and ran through the very first chapter I played back on that first playthrough; the Science Fiction Chapter. As a microcosm out of context, it has a lot of subtle terrors going for it. Let's do the time warp again and fling ourselves forward into the future.

Monday, 23 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 23 (10 Cloverfield Lane)

Say Roseanne one more time and I'll break your other arm.
I had no real plan to cover this... but then again, the diversion into found footage sort of happened. After Cloverfield, I remembered that this movie came out and I hadn't seen it. Curiousity led me to it, and all I knew was the premise. John Goodman locks Mary Elizabeth Winstead in his basement because he thinks there's monsters outside or something. This being a Cloverfield-adjacent film, I expected the reveal at the end to be monsters. Nevertheless, what I got was pretty good! It does have some spooks and a lot of ambiguity, which I like. We can do our thing again and dive on in to what it does well, what weird shit went down outside the movie, and anything else that may cross my mind for the next couple of hundred words. On we go to 10 Cloverfield Lane!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 22 (Cloverfield)

ROAR-- wait are you filming me? Turn it off, turn
the goddamn camera off--
Here and now, 22 days into this big old extensive project, we're hitting a sort of strange intersection. By chance and happenstance we have gone from metafiction, to found footage, to found footage/monster movie. Where we are now is crossing over with where we were about two weeks prior. We were looking at the original Godzilla back then, and then Godzilla 1984. Both very good in their own rights and both big monster movies with a certain sort of ethos to them. Beyond the spectacle of a big lizard smashing buildings and making shit blow up, I mean. 2008's Cloverfield is a different sort of beast, in what feels like a strange mashup of something like The Blair Witch Project and something like Godzilla. It's also got the stamp of JJ Abrams on it, which would have me raise an eyebrow given how I feel about his involvement with Star Trek and Star Wars. He gets off the hook for now... mostly. What does a fusion of Godzilla and Blair Witch even look like? Let's find out, together.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 21 (The Blair Witch Project)

Pictured: The terrified confessions of a
soon-to-be fictional girl.
Let's continue along that weird and wild path of "imaginary gossip about real people" with a real pioneer in that craft. Yes, it's The Blair Witch Project and it's the film that brought the found footage genre to prominence... but we're on the other side of history here in 2017. To really appreciate The Blair Witch Project, you have to cast your mind back to 1999. This may be difficult if you weren't alive back then, or were an infant, or whatever. I was alive back then. I was an ordinary teen, still taking his first baby steps in the world of horror. Out comes this weird movie, and we've never seen anything quite like it. It doesn't look like a movie at all. This looks like real life, a series of tapes made in 1994 by a bunch of dead college kids of their last moments. Oh my god. Is this real? Is this a real bunch of footage of real college kids who died, crying and screaming, in the woods? The marketing and proto-viral nature of this one only helped blur the line between fantasy and reality, and basically launched found footage as its own genre. That's the 1999 side of history, but what of the 2017 side? Let's do our usual surface dive and head into the woods to find out.

Friday, 20 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 20 (Wes Craven's New Nightmare)

What if we had ideas that could think for themselves?
What if, one day, our dreams no longer needed us?
Wow. Holy fuck. I almost regret not doing this one last year. I guess I didn't want to load up on Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Still, we did get our Wes Craven on pretty good with two of his films. Nightmare On Elm Street was a real cool and heady slasher film with lots of thoughts on the nature of dreams and reality and all of that. Scream was this weirdly meta thing that brought slashers back into the mainstream, creating utterly reprehensible and petty villains in its own right. In between we have this movie, Wes Craven's grand return to his original creation. I've skipped over 5 whole other films to get right here, but I didn't when I first marathoned all of these in college. At the time I remember it being a totally jarring shock. The first few films were scary in their own right, but they veered more and more into camp with Freddy giving one-liners and ironic dream kills and all of that. Then Wes Craven hops right back in and makes it scary again and it's like a bucket of cold water. There's a lot more to this one than just moving the tone back to straight horror rather than horror-comedy, and it sets it apart from plenty of other horror films. I really dig it, so let's examine that for a moment. This is Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and it's brilliant.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 19 (Ecco The Dolphin)

I know this looks ludicrous. Really, I do. Those of you without any prior experience with Ecco The Dolphin might wonder what in the everloving fuck a 16-bit game about dolphins is doing in a Halloween marathon. Those of you with experience, on the other hand, are likely nodding your heads in agreement... if you've seen far enough into the game, that is. Let me assure you that, despite not being horrific in the traditional sense, Ecco The Dolphin absolutely belongs on here. There are at least two reasons for this, one a little more valid than the other, and both will be explored in due time while we're here tonight. Dive right on down into the depths of terror, even further than the surface waters terrorized by a shark. This shit will make one shark look tame. You'll see. Oh god, how you'll see.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 18 (Jaws)

What? Do I have something on my face?
Look, if I can put spooky comedies on here, I can put semi-spooky shark movies on here. I doubt anyone would contest putting Jaws onto a spooky marathon, though. Even before I'd seen Jaws, I knew things about it. My family was lucky enough to see it in a local theater at the time of its release, and occasionally shared stories about seeing it and being spooked by the guy's head in the boat. Then on the way home, in the dark, being spooked by the family dog. I think I would have caught this on TV sometime, but I couldn't pin down an exact year for you. It's a good one! We're going to do another surface-level dive into why. Pun unintended, but we'll roll with it. I live on an island myself, albeit one much larger than Amity Island. Still, the seaside is a constant companion and I do have a fondness for the ocean and its vistas. Sailing upon a coastal ferry in good weather is its own form of paradise. In that regard, a movie about the secret terror under the sea is especially affecting. Here, then, is Jaws.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 17 (Young Frankenstein)

Let me tell you, I wasn't quite looking forward to writing about this. Don't misunderstand; it's a good film with lots of good moments and I'll no doubt talk more about that. My issue is specifically with writing about it. This is an all-out comedy, and I find I have a particularly hard time writing about the merits of such a thing. With horror you can waffle on about atmosphere and slashing beasts and all that, but comedy? There really are only so many ways you can say "the jokes were funny". Still, I can roll up my sleeves and give it a try. I've been waffling my words for almost 20 years, I think I can manage a couple hundred or so on a comedy classic. So, here we go. Mel Brooks, a director I was introduced to by happening to catch Spaceballs on TV once and absolutely loving every moment of it. That still remains my favorite by the nostalgia alone, but I wouldn't fault anyone for whom Young Frankenstein is their favorite Mel Brooks movie. Let us dive in. I feel confident. This whole writing about Young Frankenstein thing? IT! COULD! WORK!

Couldn't resist the quotable nature of this one, I fear. Whoops. What's striking immediately is that oh-so-familiar atmosphere, made all the better by the decision to make this a black and white movie. Really, a spoof sequel to Frankenstein had to be in black and white, didn't it? It just feels right for this sort of movie, even if many things happening in it are quite silly. Hell, you can look at the other horror spoof Mel Brooks did 20 years later for evidence here; Dracula Dead And Loving It is mighty fine and funny, but is somewhat lacking compared to this. Of course, that's more of a take on the Coppola Dracula film from the 90's but that's besides the point. Young Frankenstein has a great mood set up right away thanks to its black and white nature and all its thunder and lightning and whatnot, but what really sells it is the cast. Comedy is all about good delivery and timing, and everyone here has it. Of course there's the late great Gene Wilder in this one, and he's an absolute standout as the lead. His mad science is manic and over the top, without being too hammy. Some of my favorite moments with him are the quiet calm ones before his storms of rage; stuff like the "Quiet dignity and grace" or his "Abby Normal" bits. I love Marty Feldman as Igor, mostly because that man's weird bulgy eyes make him stand out but he does get some good lines in. Inspector Kemp isn't in the film too much but every time he shows up it's an absolute farce with his artificial arm and silly voice. Those are the standouts, but everyone manages to get a good one in.

Before we get to the good funny moments (because I sort of have to), I love that original props and stuff from the 1930's Frankenstein film were obtained and used for Young Frankenstein. It really makes this movie feel like a continuation of that canon with Dr. Frankenstein's grandson in the role. I don't want to explain too many jokes because just talking about comedy is nowhere near as funny as actually seeing this stuff. So... go see this movie. I'm nowhere near doing it justice and it's pretty good. I think my favorite gag I forgot about is Frankenstein throwing his darts through the window, and then the reveal later that they stuck in a policeman's hat and the tire of his car. That shit wrecked me because I didn't see it coming. You have Gene Wilder's aforementioned performance, but I love his very small voice while smooshed by the bookcase. Every bit of Frankenstein and the Creature's duet is utterly absurd and I adore it. There are just so many more little moments and gags that elicit good chuckles out of me and tickle me in just the right ways, but just listing them all would cheapen things. This is the thing about writing up comedy; it's a real tough thing for me to do! I think I made enough of a good try at it, though; I just about filled up the screen on my writing program without making it scroll, and these aren't meant to be long and detailed screeds. A simple little writeup about a good horror-themed comedy that is good and should be seen by you all. That's the short version, but you understand why I had to fill it out a bit more. Anyway, that's that! Actually, I could give you the short short version and sign off for the evening, so here goes.


Monday, 16 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 16 (Doctor Who: The Brain Of Morbius)

Surprise! I'm going back to my old haunts! Yes, it's time once again to look at a spooky classic Doctor Who story from the very spooky Phillip Hinchcliffe era of the show. The last time we were here, we looked at Hinchcliffe's first real sort of influence on Doctor Who with The Ark In Space. I could have gone to lots of places for another Hinchcliffe Horror outing, but I made this choice because it's another quite good story! Also because I have the DVD sitting here and it's quite convenient for me to slap it in and flip on the TV and lay down. So, this is The Brain Of Morbius and it's really just a great little adventure with Tom Baker and Lis Sladen in it. You can't ask for much else, but what you can ask for in a Halloween marathon is a little bit of horror. Your wish is granted. Here, then, is The Brain Of Morbius.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 15 (Spooky Star Trek TNG Episodes)

Captain's blog, Stardate 72832.4. After first watching it roughly one year ago, and viewing it on and off with lots of breaks between seasons, we have finally made it to me writing about Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm shuffling my hats about here, but the role remains much the same. Instead of waffling about Doctor Who like a third-rate Phil Sandifer, now I'm waffling about Star Trek like a third-rate Josh Marsfelder. Which is weird 'cause he's here right now. Ooh, breakin' the fourth wall. That's spooky. So is the assortment of television I've selected here! Even though there's so much I could say about how this show has positively changed me, I'm on a bit of a time limit here. So, I have to fire this off quick. I wanted to pick a handful of episodes that have more spooky elements to them. I don't know what it is, but late-era TNG had a whole bunch of episodes with gothic or surreal dream-like elements to them. Really, I'm almost spoiled for choice and wouldn't even need to stick to good episodes to do it! (Though, given what Fandom thinks, arguably my last choice didn't...). So, here are some words on some spooky-ish Star Trek episodes, and we begin with...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 14 (Angry Video Game Nerd Halloween Episodes)

Yes, I think this will be a fun and interesting little treat! It wasn't even planned for right now. I was supposed to be talking about 2000's Scary Movie, a big old spoof movie about horror tropes and turn of the century pop culture that I was going to re-evaluate. In 12 minutes we had transphobic gags, date rape gags, and some homophobia so... actually, fuck that! I shut off the film at that point, wondered what the hell I was on at 15 to enjoy this shit, and thought of what to do instead. We arrived back at low-brow humor, it turns out, with the Angry Video Game Nerd. Now, I've said things about this particular pool before. One big screed. ...or two. Or three. The ad hominem naysayers of the Internet would, if they gave two shits about me anymore, like to claim that I have a cross to bear against James Rolfe and his work. Incorrect! I have been a fan of this big dumb web series with the shouty fuck man for over a decade. I'll prove it by writing positive about some of his Halloween specials now. Rolfe is a horror nut, having not only reviewed about a billion spooky movies in his own horror marathon but also actually making a shitload of his own little low-budget horror films. This is a tradition that continued on throughout his AVGN work, and today I'm poking at his encounters with three of the deadliest slasher villains and their associated computer game tie-ins. Being that the 13th is just behind us, it only seems fitting to begin with...

Friday, 13 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 13 (Jason X)

Look, it's a Friday the 13th in October. I had to come back to this well. Of course, I was spoiled for choice on how to make a grand return... or so it would seem. I gave the original Friday the 13th a bit of a shakedown for being evil last year, and in many ways that reading stands. What we have in the subsequent sequels is an entirely new beast. Jason Voorhees, The Man Behind The Mask, starting a killing rampage that would last for ages. Where to drop in on one of horror cinema's most iconic Slasher Beasts, though? The beginning? His revival. Oh no. No no no. Let's go balls out with what is, if not the worst film in the franchise, the one with the most desperate grab for reinvention. Jason X. Friday The 13th Part X: JASON IN MOTHERFUCKING SPACE. The very end, so to speak, of Jason Voorhees. Oh, he'll continue on through reboots or whatever... but in the Prime Timeline of the Friday the 13th Cinematic Universe which began in 1980, this is where Jason Voorhee's adventures end.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 12 (Godzilla 1984)

Thirty years is a hell of a long time. For me, it's literally a lifetime. For the Godzilla series, as it turns out, it was a long period with all sorts of films followed by a decade-long rest. It was a time of Ghidoras and Mechagodzillas and Jet Jaguars and whatnot, a drift away from the unholy nuclear metaphor he was to something more base; a big monster which beat the shit out of other monsters. There's nothing wrong with that, not really! It can be quite satisfying to view... but there's something to the subtle horror that Godzilla once was. The folks at Toho seemed to think so, as well. Here we are then, in 1984. Thirty years on, and the beast has once again risen from the depths. Not to fight a space dragon, not to goof around with its child... but to destroy and terrorize the horrified populace of Japan, like the stomping allegory it once was. Here, then, is Godzilla 1984.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 11 (Godzilla)

[roaring intensifies]
Well, that turned out to have some interesting thematic resonance. Yes, we're looking at the granddad of daikaiju today, the original, the king of the monsters. It's Godzilla. Or Gojira, I suppose, in its creators' native tongue. There are like... I dunno, 40 of these movies? It's a pop culture phenomenon and you just get this vision in your head right away when you hear the name. A really big lizard stomping around Tokyo and fucking everything up, sometimes with other giant monsters and robots around also fucking shit up or fighting each other. Yeah, that's the shit! It sounds awesome! Well, that's not how it started. Nightmare On Elm Street began not with a one-liner jokester killing people with ironic themed murders, but a serious-minded menace transcending the boundary of dream and reality and just straight up killing. Friday the 13th began not with a hockey mask zombie stabbing and slicing as some immovable force, but a desperate woman stabbing and slicing to avenge her son and get back at those goddamn fucking teenagers. In this vein, Godzilla began not with a glorious spectacle of smashing buildings and fighting space dragons, but with a film that intertwined one giant monster's random attacks with a very human cost and a very human drama. This, then, is the true beginning of Godzilla.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 10 (When They Cry Eps. 1-4)

Every so often you get a work of fiction that just sticks with you. In our little marathon's case, that's usually due to it scaring the almighty piss out of you and leaving a mark on your psyche that lingers. Today's work didn't quite do that to me, but what it ended up being was unsettling as all fuck. We're looking at a small part of a larger whole here this time around. When They Cry, or Higurashi When They Cry, or Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, or... look, let's just call it When They Cry for simplicity, okay? Anyways, When They Cry started life as a visual novel series by one Ryukishi07. It ballooned out into an anime (which is what we're doing today, specifically) and a bunch of other bullshit. There's a really neat conceit to When They Cry and the way it tells its story, but we're going to ignore most of that and save it for offhand waffling at the end. As far as I was concerned for this, When They Cry is a four-episode serial not unlike classic Doctor Who. I'm doing it this way for two reasons. The first is that I don't have the time to do a deep dive into two 26-episode series of anime to do a great big waffle about the series as a whole. The second is more personal; this is how I originally experienced When They Cry, in August 2006. I did a marathon watch of the first four episodes which make up the first "arc" of the show, so to speak. Eleven years later and having not seen certain parts of it since that summer night, it's remarkable how much of it stayed with me. Marks on the psyche that linger, scratched by the fingernails of looming dread and terror. Delve deep with me.

Monday, 9 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 9 (Little Shop Of Horrors)

Me hungry.
Oh, I've been looking forward to doing this one for a while. Last year, pretty early on, I did The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was quite a good and interesting little horror-themed musical which paid tribute to the golden oldies of the genre. Little Shop Of Horrors has that same sort of idyllic setting (a decade not too far from our own) but beyond that it doesn't really play too much with that. It's still interesting that a lot of big musicals of that time were looking back to the 50's and whatnot; Grease, Rocky Horror, and even Little Shop Of Horrors here. I don't know if I like it as much as Rocky Horror, but Little Shop does its job well. The songs are mostly really good, which is a step in the right direction for a musical. All in all, the sound of this one is very soulful which I like. It's upbeat and peppy and I found myself moving along to the tunes a little as I lay back to watch the film. So, a success there. Let's do our thing again. Get in, talk bits, get out there. Here we go with the rad and fun Little Shop Of Horrors.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 8 (The Tommyknockers)

This is one hella eerie cover.
So we're back on that Stephen King train again. This will be a fun one. I knew, last year, that I had to cover It given my own personal experience with that work. I also knew that I'd have to cover something else by the man this time around. He's written an absolute shitload of things so I'm spoiled for choice... but there are big beloved ones. I could have gone with The Shining, or The Stand, or The Dark Tower, or anything else Big And Important. I could have gone with a second-tier classic like Firestarter or The Dead Zone. No. No, I think on some level, it could only be The Tommyknockers. Which is at once a somewhat-maligned entry of his (even by the man himself) and a compelling personal favorite. King may have executed things a bit long-winded and heavy-handed, but what he's executed here is some sort of compelling social commentary... albeit dressed up in a story about alien ghosts. It's no secret that Stephen King fired off a massive streak of hit novels in the 70's and 80's. It's also no secret that Stephen King had substance abuse problems. The two are intertwined in a deadly dance. The latter fueled the white-hot writing streak which led to the former. He's confessed to literally not being able to remember writing Cujo due to all the booze and drugs and other crap he was putting into his body. By the late 80's there was intervention from his family, and he finally did become clean. The Tommyknockers, written between 1982 and 1987, is in many respects a book about this... but dressed up in spooky metaphor.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 7 (Demon's Crest)

I picked a screenshot this time to show how
danged pretty this game is. 
It is time once again, as so often happens this month, to dive headlong into the world of the monstrous. The Demon Realm, even. Those who know me and know of my weird gonzo hard game prowess know that I eventually took some sort of liking to the Ghosts n Goblins series. So much so that the original game was an immediate pick for last year's marathon, and was written about here. Logically, I could have jumped to one of the other core entries for this year... but there isn't much more meat on that bone. Oh, they added in lots of new mechanics and whatnot as the games progressed. New armors, weapons, magic spells, a double jump, all that good shit. The core of its chaotic quarter-munching nature never really left it, and that whole "beat the game twice" bullshit actually stayed around. Hell, the only game to really evolve that chestnut is the Wonderswan one which added in a singular branching path to make you take a different stage 3 on your second loop. Funny how that works, huh? No, I've spilled enough complaining about the random chaos and the horseshit ending requirements for these games... for now, anyway. Let's take a different approach. Let's talk about Ghosts n Goblins games for normal people.

Friday, 6 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 6 (Castlevania II: Simon's Quest)

Now this is more my speed. No utter confusion like I had in trying to write about Species. I know this game well. Very well, as it turns out! Actually, now that I think on it, I'm pretty sure our story begins in 1995! On that same family trip where older people watched Species and I watched Free Willy 2! Sometime during it, we went to a flea market and I got three NES games. Gremlins 2, The Adventures Of Bayou Billy... and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. That's right, my Castlevania experience begins here. Even that's inaccurate to say, though. Me and my sister never called it "Castlevania II". We called it Simon's Quest. Now, this game's much maligned (and we'll get to that haunt in a moment) but there are two reasons why it stuck out in my mind as a gem and classic in my very small NES collection. One, I had no idea of the broader Castlevania series of action platformers and thus had no preconceptions of what Castlevania was "supposed" to be. Two, my sister bought me a Nintendo hint book which had a chapter on Castlevania II. I never beat it because it didn't detail the whole game (notably, the infamous tornado puzzle isn't mention), and yet it's stayed with me all these years later. Let us paint some broad strokes and look at Castlevania II... oh hell, let's just go all the way back to 1995 and call it Simon's Quest, huh?

Thursday, 5 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 5 (Species)

Whaddya at, humanity?
Every so often I come across a thing that I intend to write about, and its impressions on me are only "what in the fuck am I going to say about THAT?". Species, from 1995, is one of those. I guess there are some angles I can poke at. I don't need to be here for a 5000 word screed, after all. I'll just get in, get out, and see what I can make of whatever the hell I experienced. I suppose beginning at the beginning works well enough. Any doubts I had about slotting Species right here faded once I saw the credit "Sil Created By H.R. Giger" at the opening. So, somebody clearly had Alien on mind. Species is a very different take, though. We have horror in sexuality, but... well, our slasher from beyond the stars is a lady this time. Part of what's kept Species in my mind for over 20 years has been that lady. Not so much in her performance as I hadn't seen the movie until now, but in her name. Natasha Hendstridge, making her film debut. A local girl from my island of Newfoundland! THE SEX ALIEN IS A NEWFIE GIRL, EVERYBODY RUN. Hell, she's not even in the opening. The alien/human hybrid Sil is a little girl at first, a little girl who escapes gassing and rushes to freedom. It's hard not to root for her, even as we learn what her objective is through the rest of the movie... but then the horror begins. Tentacles burst forth from this ordinary girl in a bad situation, and she cocoons. Bursting forth some time later, naked and covered in space ichor, is Natasha Hendstridge. Hell, the first we see of her are her boobs. Get used to that. She's topless quite a bit. Something awakens within her once she reaches Los Angeles and gets nice clothes and adapts. Sil needs a man, and she'll kill to get one.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 4 (Metroid II: Return Of Samus)

This is real tricky ground we're delving over now. Metroid II is pretty fresh in my mind. Y'know, thanks to that big remake that came out a while ago. Which I wrote about here, in case you missed it. That was a GameFAQs review so it's more formal and... game journalist-y? I hesitate to call myself a game journalist, mostly because what I like to do here is the shit I am about to do right now. That being esoteric waffling bullshit with a hint of mysticism. The intent here is to do that, but everything gets tricky. I might want to write lots about Metroid II in the future and I don't want to blow my entire wad. I'll try and show restraint. Let's talk about Metroid II, how it's spooky, and how it ties into all that Aliens stuff I was babbling about yesterday.

Metroid II, more than any other game in the series, is haunted. I speak not just of the stark black caverns of planet SR388, or the harsh screeching chiptunes that eventually devolve into droning noise and dread. I speak of the future. Not only is Metroid II's climax a key lynchpin in the plot of the Metroid series, but its legacy is haunted by the future in varying attempts to possess it, and take possession of it. The curtain between worlds is thin here, and things bleed in from other timelines and other worlds. We will focus on those esoteric haunts later, and try and get some semblance of coherence here. First, the game itself. Metroid II, the sequel to 1986's hit NES game Metroid. There are plenty of comparisons to make between Metroid/Metroid II and Alien/Aliens. Thematically it's not a complete 1 for 1 fit, but it works well enough. Metroid II, kind of like my perception of what Aliens was, is a "bug hunt" where our heroine's goal is to destroy every last specimen of a deadly alien species. She encounters and kills many of said alien species before having a big showdown with the alien's queen, retreating into the depths of space with her adopted child. That last part is admittedly one of the future ghosts haunting us, but we'll get to that. Metroid II is much lighter on plot than Aliens, and it doesn't have that whole healing from trauma reading attached to it. Samus Aran, Metroid's heroine, is a capable badass bounty hunter who singlehandedly saved the day in the first game. She was not the terrified last survivor of a lone Xenomorph as Ripley was in Alien's closing moments. No, they apply that trauma to her in the future... and totally botch it, I might add. Still, we're not letting that future in right now. It's a terrible spectre screaming about babies, and we are haunted by it, but clutch your holy symbol close to your chest as we delve deeper.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 3 (Aliens)

I don't like it as much as Alien, but I'll be damned if my appreciation for it hasn't jumped up in places on this rewatch.

Pictured: Healing from trauma.
Oh yeah, we're free of the Ghost of September Past now. I'm writing this on the day of. Good lord almighty do I have egg on my face. I freely admit that. Last year I wrote about Alien, which is one of my favorite horror films. Here are those words and here is something I wrote near the end of that:

Aliens is a nice action movie, I guess, but Big Gun Fuck Man Vs. Scary Acid Blood Monster is slightly inferior to The Sexuality Slasher for me.

I mean, fuck me. I fucked it up. That is NOT what Aliens is at all. Oh, there are Big Gun Fuck Men (and Women) in it... but this is not a movie about them. It's partly about them and how they get totally fucked up by the aliens, but to me this movie is about Ripley, her trauma from the first movie, and her making attempts to heal that trauma and help someone else with their own trauma. It's all of this and far more shooty shooty gun gun than the original film had, but I nevertheless find myself with a new passion for Aliens. Let's delve into the Ripley stuff then, because it's what worked on me the most. Ripley wasn't quite the stereotypical Final Girl in Alien, but she ended up being the one who survived all that nasty shit on the Nostromo and even managed to blast a Xenomorph out of an airlock... albeit petrified the whole time and singing a song to herself to keep her nerves at bay. She lived, but nightmares are plaguing her. This shit fucked her up. Now, the Alien series is far from your typical slasher fare, but it's nonetheless a comparison I find myself coming back to. Final Girls have come back in horror movie sequels before. Off the top of my head there's Friday the 13th's Alice, who... died. Then there's Elm Street's Nancy, who... died. Halloween's Laurie Strode, who went through even more bullshit on the same goddamned night and (as of the upcoming film) will have dealt with this Myers shit for 40 fucking years. I haven't seen Halloween past #3 but Ripley's arc in Aliens feels different from those other girls'. Ripley survives her encounter in the first film, is traumatized... but gets to go back and confront her trauma. She wants to help the missing colonists of LV426, as well as destroy whatever xenomorph bullshit is down there. She wants in.

Monday, 2 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 2 (Stephen King Short Stories)

It's still the ghost of September past speaking to you from the evening of the 28th. I write in somewhat of a half-assed time limit fit of desperation, in which I have about 3 hours to get all of my affairs in order before hitting the sack and then hitting the road. It's a tricky bit of timing, and as I said in yesterday's post it leaves us with a bit of... limiting in what we can cover. I admit a certain level of procrastination due to not knowing if this trip was happening or not, but hell. If Douglas Adams can work under a deadline, me too. Here, of course, is the difference born out of desperation. The Enigma Of Amigara Fault was always planned. The following is a spur of the moment thing based on a friend mentioning one of the two things here to me today. So, here earlier than I intended is Stephen King. I gave IT a nice big bit of coverage last year, and now that has a new remake (which I've not seen and won't be talking about this year, sorry) so his meganovels are no stranger to these marathons. Sometimes overlooked, though, are his short stories. What does Stephen King under brevity look like, his horror contained within a smaller liminal space? Not unlike my own situation, actually. Well, I'm going to find out with two especially spooky and effective short stories from his 1985 short story collection, Skeleton Crew. Zooming out a bit, Skeleton Crew is one of the better collections he's done. The stories in it are mostly from the early 80's, a... contentious period for the man (though not for his work); it'll make sense later in the month. Pretty much all of the stories in this book are good ones, but I chose two in which the endings still stick in my mind. Let's get to the good stuff with the first one. Away we go...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 1 (The Enigma Of Amigara Fault)

This post is haunted.

Haunted not by any malicious ghoul or ghost, but haunted by the necessity of me actually not being here at my computer on October the 1st. I'm writing this on September the 28th, the eve before I head out. I'm the ghost haunting this post, the ghost of September Past working on spooky words early. As such, we need to be quick about things. I've no time to watch a movie, no time for a lengthy reread of a book, no time to play through a big game. Luckily for us, brevity can be a powerful tool. Here, then, is a one-off short story in manga form which manages to be more terrifying than many feature films, a quick work that is not unlike an expert sword slash of horror. One swipe, one cut. That's all it takes to bring something utterly horrific to life. I give you... Junji Ito's The Enigma Of Amigara Fault. The link right there will take you to it and it will not take you long to read. Of course, maybe you're already familiar. Either way, now you know the terror. Now let's talk about that terror, shall we? As we are to do for the next 30 days, of course.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Metroid: Samus Returns (A Review)

(Hi, kids! I got a copy of that new Metroid game and played it and liked it a lot, so I did a review of it which is right down below this paragraph. It's not as esoteric as my other Metroid posts, being a more mainline review for GameFAQs, but I'm sure you'll like it. Anyway, here's my words on it.)

Metroid. Where do we even begin? It's a pillar of an action/adventure series from Nintendo that's been around for over three decades, but it's the last of those decades that have proven turbulent. The 2010s have been somewhat unkind to the series; 2010's Metroid Other M sought to bring coherent story and narrative to the series and fell flat on its face in doing so. Six years later gave us a spinoff, Federation Force, which further alienated the die-hard Metroid fanbase. The only shining light for them last year was the release of a fan game, Another Metroid 2 Remake (AM2R). As the name suggested, it was a remake of the second game in the series and radically reinvented it, updating its play style to feel more like later 2D games in the series. Nintendo did not take kindly to this and issued takedown notices for AM2R... and yet, here we are. A year after that unkind business, Nintendo and developer MercurySteam have taken their own crack at reinventing and reimagining Metroid II into a bolder, more expansive form. Did they treat their own creation with more love and care than the fandom that's kept the candle burning for Metroid these long seven years? Here, then, is Metroid: Samus Returns.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Coming Soon: 31 More Days, 31 More Screams!

Hey hey. Very very quick post this time around, while I grapple with writer's inspiration to try and get some motivation to write about some computer games. In the meantime, I'm thinking ahead to the very busy future as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder. It's September now, and summer's in its dying embers. Thank God for that, but it also means that October's just a few weeks away. Last year I had a lot of fun with a monthly marathon of short writeups on spooky-themed media and I want to do it again! So... that's the plan! October 1st will be the start of 31 More Days, 31 More Screams... and I need your help! I did open the floor to requests last year, but as I recall I only took about one or two. I'd like to do more, if you out there have wild and weird requests for me. Let's do that again, and set a few ground rules.

-Obviously if I did it in last year's marathon, I can't do it again. So... check out the old ones I did before making a suggestion.

-I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to throat trauma, which makes me apprehensive towards a lot of the slasher genre. You can still make that request, but just warn me if such things are involved; I'll let my own genre-savviness warn me of when said trauma's about to happen so I can look away or whatever.

-Basically all forms of media are fair game for this, but if you're going to suggest something more long-form than a movie, be wary of how long it may take me. I'm a fast reader and can conquer books quickly, but more longform video games are subject to scrutiny; my free time's at a bit of a premium, after all.

-I'd prefer if you left your comments here, just so I have them all in one place rather than spread over four different social media channels and messenger services.

I think that's about it. Please pop some suggestions in so I can fill up the month! I used a lot of my favorite picks last year, but I'm sure together we can build an interesting and eclectic list. I'm looking forward to seeing what you all throw at me, and I hope you're looking forward to reading about it!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Fairune (A Review)

You know, how we come across video games and play them is a process equally as important as the content of the games themselves. Sure, every game is imbued with some crackling magical alchemy (or necromancy, if the thing's dire) on the basic level. The essential psychogeographical (and psychochronographical, while we're throwing out the Big Smart People Words) power of where and when you are while first experiencing a game has some truth to it as well. So, today we're going to talk about a game called Fairune. Before that we're going to talk about the where and when of how I encountered Fairune. I had a day trip this past Wednesday, and I knew I'd be waiting for people to finish their doctor's appointment. I also had a PS Vita and about 8 dollars to spare. With that, off I went looking for a cheap and simple game experience for me to kill time with whilst waiting. Scrolling through all the games on the store and peeking at prices, I came across a little game with a pixel art character. Fairune. Peeking further, after all the hyped up mechanics and whatnot, this tidbit: "Fairune is a faithful homage to the computer games of the 1980s.". Which, you better believe we're going to unpack that. In a moment. The time and place had been set. Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland. Hospital parking lot. 8 AM. For the next 90 minutes I experienced Fairune, and then between... 4:30 and 5:30 PM, back at home, I experienced the rest of the game. That's fairly short, but in the end it was a good experience. We've set the where, we've set the when... and now for the what. Here is Fairune. It was good.

Friday, 21 July 2017

From The SMPS Vaults: Mega Man Unlimited (A Review)

(Hey all! A little history lesson, in case you're unaware. I got my start writing for video games as a hobby by contributing to a site called Socks Make People Sexy. A lot of my words are still up on the main site, but a lot of them were also on the review subforum of the SMPS forums... and the SMPS forums sadly went offline quite a while ago. I made a lot of good friends from that site and those forums and still talk to a lot of them, but there were some writing casualties that left more than a few words of mine wiped from the Internet. I still have the text files, so I guess I can sporadically archive my own old writing here on the blog for the time being. Anyway, this is a review of the fan game Mega Man Unlimited that I wrote in June 2014. I was hard on it, but in hindsight it's at least better than Mighty No. 9 which is better than nothing. On to the wayback machine!)

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 12 (The Doctor Falls)

Really, it was the only way Series 10 could have gone out.

And they lived happily ever after.
I'm trying something different here. I've not rewatched the episode yet. I'm letting my words stand on the initial viewing I did last night for once. This is partly because I forgot to PVR it and can't wrangle out a rewatch method immediately due to shenanigans and can't wait, but also sort of a new take. I've called these "First Impressions" but they're honestly second impressions because I always do a rewatch and take notes. Not today. For the last episode of this series, for the penultimate episode of Peter Capaldi's run and of the Moffat era, we will do a true First Impression. Or rather, we already did because the above line I started this all with is my first impression. For better or worse, this is Steven Moffat at his Steven Moffattiest. And now we pad time before talking about the ending by talking about everything else before it. The stuff that matters. Here, then, is The Doctor Falls.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 11 (World Enough And Time)

Holy shit. What a state of flux to be left in.

I'm seein' double! FOUR Masters!
By now I'm used to playing in a state of flux when it comes to these two-part episodes. I'm still casting my mind back to Nov. 2014 and Dark Water, when this was a new thing for me to write about. Since then we had an entire series worth of two parters, and more. Some turned out good, some turned out bad. Dark Water seems like a good comparison point to start with World Enough And Time. In a way, we're hitting a lot of those plot beats again. The death of a character. Cybermen and body horror. The end episode reveal of OH SHIT IT WAS THE MASTER ALL ALONG. Writing it out like that, it sounds like I should be infuriated at the episode for rehashing all this shit; much like I was when Lie Of The Land happened. I'm not, and that's probably because the rest of the episode glues together. This was a hell of an episode of television, despite one or two little gripes based on past experience and that state of flux we're left in before the other half drops. As of now it's in my top three... somewhere, but I don't know which one of my previous top three to bump off for it. I won't worry about that yet until we get to the series ranking in a week or two. For now... World Enough And Time.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 10 (The Eaters Of Light)

I don't have an easy summary for this one beyond "it's fine" so let's just launch on into it.

It's okay, everyone. I speak glowing tentacle.
This is one of the ones this year I was a little excited for, considering the pedigree of the writer. Rona Munro wrote the final story of classic Doctor Who, Survival, and that's one which I quite like. After a long writing career she came back to Doctor Who for this. I don't know anything about her writing career other than writing a 28 year-old story that capped off old Doctor Who, so I've no clue how her style evolved or anything. Aside from one similar shot, this episode has nary a thing to do with Survival so we're going to ignore it for the time being. Instead we'll just plunge on in to... The Eaters Of Light.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 9 (Empress Of Mars)

That's a marked improvement over last week. Thank goodness for it.

"Allow me to break the ice. My name is Iraxxa.
Learn it well, for it is the chilling sound of your doom!"
Mark Gatiss! He's probably Doctor Who's best mid-tier quality episode writer. Sometimes he pens a dud and sometimes he pens a classic of the series. I won't go over his Doctor Who stories in short summation, save for the two I've already looked at in the Capaldi era. Robot Of Sherwood was a fine bit of welcome fluff for the early Capaldi era when we weren't sure about this callous new guy. Not a classic of Series 8, but somewhere in the middle? Possibly lower back since Series 8 was really quite consistently good. Sleep No More is a little more interesting, as it's Gatiss getting a little experimental and doing Doctor Who: Found Footage Edition. Yeah, okay, walking snot monsters and all that but he tried something new and it mostly worked. Also I maintain that the twist ending is still one of the scariest bits of conceptual horror in recent memory on Doctor Who. And now Mark Gatiss is doing the Ice Warriors! Again! He brought them back in 2013 for the 50th after like 40 years and it worked. Now he's done it again and it doesn't work AS well as Cold War... but after the contemptuous dull dud we went through last week? I'll take a mid-tier Gatiss episode like a man dying of thirst. Let's take a quick stroll through... Empress Of Mars.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 8 (The Lie Of The Land)


It's not a Before The Flood level of hecking up a good setup, but it still left me wanting.

The Monks are your friends. This is a good episode.
Toby Whithouse is amazing at Doctor Who.
Actually, let's go with that. What did I say last week? "Hecking it up, in this case, would be the Monks ruling planet Earth like a bunch of dictators. Or not following up on the theme of consent and it being healthy.". So within the first three goddamn minutes we heck this up because the actual literal thought police burst in and rush a woman off to the labor camps for 10 years for not believing in the lie of the Monks and making propaganda of this. WHOOPS! I was even ready to play ball with the whole opening monologue from the Doctor about how the Monks have helped us and that all they ask for is obedience... but sweet christ.
It still works with the "fear is inefficient" model and "we need to be loved" and all that but good GOD. I was expecting something a little more meaty and interesting, a world that's imperfect because it's not our Doctor Who world but one that's at least somewhat improved by the Monks. What we get is a drab bland dystopia where everyone wears black and there's an actual literal fucking thought police dedicated to catching people who don't believe the lie of the Monks! At one point in a Bill monologue she mentions that someone was sentenced to 10 years for owning comics! What the actual fuck?  It's going extra to show that this is a bad world that should be torn down, but it didn't really need to do that; the fact that it's not "our" Doctor Who world is enough for the audience to want that. Then again, this is the same guy who thought he needed to telegraph a fucking predestination paradox in the opening of his last episode so I get the vibe that he doesn't trust the audience to pick up on subtlety.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 7 (The Pyramid At The End Of The World)

(Hey it's a Doctor Who thing and there's spoilers for it.)

If nothing else, now I'm really excited for next week.

Google didn't have any better pictures so this will
have to do.
Okay, we really are sort of playing about in that fun state of quantum flux between weeks. This exact reaction to The Pyramid At The End Of The World is only possible within the next six days; once the next episode drops and we have a realization of the consequences of this one's ending, my perceptions are going to change massively. Funny enough, the last time this happened was another joint by Peter Harness from 16 months ago; the Zygon Inv__ two-parter. There are one or two parallels to be drawn here between those episodes and Pyramid, but we'll have to save that. What we have in the meantime is a neat setup playing off of the previous setup of Extremis. I like this episode fine, which is a bit of an inversion (HEH) of how I felt about the first half of Peter Harness's previous job. Really, the vibe I get here is of Under The Lake; an interesting premise with an ending that can lead to some really clever bits if they follow up their own themes in the ways I'm expecting and hoping for. That should terrify me considering how much of a fucking botch job I thought Before The Flood was, but I have a little more faith this time. Whether or not it will be unwarranted... well, those of you reading this on the day it's written are just going to have to wait along with me. Anyone from the future coming in already knows if The Lie Of The Land fucked up or not, but hey. Fingers crossed, right? Good. Let's talk about this show a little bit before we get to the specifics of what crackles about it.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impression: Episode 6 (Extremis)

(Doctor Who impressions! Spoilers! Yep!)


The Doctor as President? This simulation is already better
than reality.
So here we are, back again with a High Concept Steven Moffat Episode that also furthers along the arc of the series, so to speak. It's absolutely a very good One Of Those, despite my usual gripes about a Steven Moffat arc that I've had already. More to the point... I should be careful what I fucking wish for. On my pal Rainiac's Doctor Who podcast thing, I have expressed a desire for more weird shit to happen. I probably said that after we did Knock Knock and I was let down by how stock it was. Well, THE FINGER SURE DID FUCKIN CURL ON THAT MONKEY'S PAW DIDN'T IT? Moffat threw a bunch of shit into a blender and made another Doctor Who smoothie. This isn't just "Doctor Who Does X", this is "Doctor Who Does A WHOLE BUNCH OF BULLSHIT AT ONCE". Lovecraftian undertones of an understanding of the universe beyond our human comprehension, mixed with equal parts Star Trek, Hitchhiker's Guide, The Dark Tower, The Mind Robber, The Happening, and Undertale. Garnish with Moffat tropes and you have your Doctor Who smoothie for this week. Fuck it, get my bendy straw. We're going in full throttle with this one.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 5 (Oxygen)

(Doctor Who post. Spoilers.)

Holy mother of fuck.

You've got red on you.
What's that? We did the "one sentence synopsis" gag last week? Shit. Okay I guess we do have to talk more about that episode of Doctor Who, then. Nah, I'm just heckin' with ya, I was going to elaborate on it any way. You know my time wasting/stalling shenanigans by now, but unfortunately they have run out. Run out right about now. At the end of this sentence. Period. That was also a smart joke but what we have here is a very smart episode of Doctor Who! Oxygen, by Jamie Mathieson, who is perhaps Doctor Who's most consistent writer in the Capaldi era. His previous three episodes were all highlights of their respective series. Mummy On The Orient Express was a solid episode with a lot of cool tricks and puzzle solving. Flatline brought Clara Oswald full-on into her role as a mirror of the Doctor. The Girl Who Died was an oasis of high-quality Doctor Who after wading through an underwater base of shit. That's where we are yet again. Knock Knock was no Before The Flood, but it was a letdown from a really good run of three in a row. Oxygen not only climbs back up to those peaks, but it may even surpass them. I haven't decided if it's beaten out Thin Ice as the best S10 episode so far, but we'll see how I feel about that once I get all of the words out on the page.