Sunday, 30 April 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 3 (Thin Ice)

(Hello! You know the drill, I think. This is an episode of Doctor Who that just aired yesterday and there are spoilers for it, so if you've not seen it yet go watch it. Okay? Okay.)

Oh yes, that was quite nice and I'm still grinning like an idiot at that one definitive part where Doctor Who lays its cards on the table. We're going to get into that, apolitical blogging be DAMNED, but we gotta build to it just like the episode does. So, this is Thin Ice! That's Thin Ice by Sarah Dollard, not Thin Ice by Marc Platt which is a 1990 Doctor Who story with the 7th Doctor, Ice Warriors, and Ace leaving to go to Time Lord school. A 1990 story that never got made due to the minor problem of the show getting shitcanned in 1989, but it got an audio adaptation. I haven't listened to it. We straight up reused the title, but if like every goddamned Dalek story ever can be called Blank Of The Daleks then I see no harm in using a title for an unmade story for... an actually made one. That was a nice little tangent to bulk up my opening paragraph, aren't I fun? So, Sarah Dollard! She did Face The Raven last series! I really loved Face The Raven. It was the best Clara departure ever for the thirteen days in which it appeared to be Clara's actual departure. "Let me be brave" still resonates with me. Thin Ice is another memorable one, and it's quite good and I enjoyed it a lot. It'll probably be remembered, if not for being "the one with a giant fish under the Thames" then for that scene. Again, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Or, as we'd say on my pal Rainiac's Doctor Who Review podcast... we can't talk about that yet. He's cribbing from this writeup for his next episode 'cause I'm sitting it out to let another cohost get on and not crowd up shit, so I'm talking to the future here when he's looking shit up. Ahem. BIG FISH'S EYE REFLECTED IN BILL'S DIVING HELMET. MIRROR SHOT! MIRROR SHOT! QUOTE THIS VERBATIM ON THE SHOW! Now that we have that out of the way, let's tackle Thin Ice.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 2 (Smile)

(Hello hello! As always, this is an overview of a Doctor Who episode that just aired as of writing and there are spoilers for it in here! Go watch it first and then read it! These are customary spoiler warnings! On with it.)

The above face is not my Siskel/Ebert style ranking
of the episode.
In the end, it feels like I'm going in circles with this show. This is by no means a bad thing, as one of Doctor Who's strengths is building off of itself to tell a new and interesting story. Here we do basically just that. I spent time with my "5 Worst Doctor Who Stories That I Really Like" article rewatching and defending The Rings Of Akhaten, which is the last time we got the "new companion's first TARDIS trip to the amazing, strange, and wonderful world of the future!" plot. That's rattling in my head as I think back on Smile, as are the multiple little thematic homages and similarities to other Doctor Who stories that I caught. Then there's the fact that this comes from Frank Cotrell-Boyce, writer of Series 8's In The Forest Of The Night, an episode which (unless some really dire shit happens in the next 10 weeks) will almost certainly be in the top three of fandom's worst Capaldi episodes. He manages to make an episode that is not the worst ever this time, and I mostly enjoyed it. Unfortunately the point at which I stopped enjoying it is about the 3/4ths mark, but we will get to the good shit that led up to that.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Disney Afternoon Collection: A Review

Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia. Wistfulness for the entertainment of one's youth is a major driving factor in a lot of computer games, and it's been presented in a variety of different ways. You can make something that deliberately echoes a particular aesthetic or genre from the older days of games easily, be it done in pixel art or any other particular style. From there, you can go further and lovingly improve upon the good parts of history with more modern mechanics and design decisions, or poke fun at the percieved parts of those golden days that didn't really work. No matter what one does with their nostalgic remakes or reimaginings and whatnot, the originals are still out there with all the power they once held. We can still revisit them and let their merits and flaws stand as they were. 2015's Mega Man Legacy Collection, from Capcom and Digital Eclipse, offered this museum curation approach by putting six classic action-platformers into one bundle for a bargain price, adding a bunch of extra bells and whistles. This, then, is the spiritual successor. In the early 1990s Capcom partnered with Disney to make games based on the animated series which appeared on Disney's "Disney Afternoon" block of programming, and many of them are regarded as all-time classics which still inspire great nostalgia in people today. Now, the museum curation approach is applied to a group of those games. This is The Disney Afternoon Collection. Currently on display, the childhood memories of an entire generation.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Trapped In A Maze Of Relationships (Persona 4 Golden)

(Hi again! I played this game called Persona 4 Golden and it's available on the PS Vita if you have one of those! You can also get the original version of it on the Playstation 2, probably for cheap by now. I'm going to talk about everything this game does now so this is your spoiler warning, but in short it's very good and worth "10/10" on a review score scale and you should absolutely get at it if it sounds like your kind of jam. Okay, now for 6000 words of bullshit on how it made me cry.)

There are, in the weird and wide stream of sentience that is my headspace, the seeds for an article about "review culture" and the nature of video game review scores. This is not that article, but I do want to touch briefly on the notion of a "10/10" game. Obviously this will vary for many and, as you might see if that article ever goes live, I don't give a hot goddamn about ranking video games with a number. I let the words I craft speak for how the game affected me. What I am about to write and you are about to read is the longest "10/10" screed ever. For me personally, a "10/10" is a game that is not just extremely satisfying and enjoyable to play. It is an entertainment experience that creates gravity of its own inside my headspace. We are talking about games that stay with me for years after the fact, and fundamentally change who I am as a human being. The last piece of entertainment to well and truly do that to me was in the summer of 2015, when I watched the entirety of Dirty Pair on a whim. If you know me, you know I won't ever shut up about Dirty Pair since. Right here and now, in April 2017, we have the next thing to do that. Last Friday, I finished Persona 4 Golden on the PS Vita. It will almost certainly be the best game I played this year, and I would love to be proven wrong on this because it would mean I have even more affirming and life-changing journeys in store for me. I didn't analyze Dirty Pair, not really, because it was just good clean fun (and also because Josh Marsfelder did an infinitely better job of it than I). This, however, is my stomping ground. If nothing else, I can write about video games and feelings well. Right here and now, in April 2017, is the regenerative burst of positive energy that this game filled me with given wordform. This is Persona 4 Golden, and it changed me for the better.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Doctor Who Series 10 First Impressions: Episode 1 (The Pilot)

(It's that time again! Doctor Who is back on television, weekly this time for the next few months like it used to be in the Long Ago times! I am going to write up First Impressions post for every episode, usually the day after they air but anything could happen. Aiming for Sundays, though. This is The Pilot and it's the first episode and we're going to talk about it and there are spoilers so... go watch it first please.)

Reach out and touch me.
Oh, thank God. We're back. After Hell Bent and the departure of Clara Oswald, Knight of Mirrors And Competence, we had a long journey through the dark. An island of fun during the cold Christmas celebration with the last River Song adventure, and then nothing for an awful awful year. A hero tried to save us a year later, but after so long the program felt like a Ghost. Now we start the song again. There's a new girl ready to be wowed by the prospect of travelling through spacetime, but our title is dubious as best. This is not a Pilot for a new series. This is a series that, as is, is on its final legs. Peter Capaldi is on his way out, and 2017 will be his swan song. Still, it is a song worth singing with a new addition to the chorus. Let's cut all the musical metaphors and dive into the puddle that incites new adventures.

This is The Pilot, and I really loved it.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

I wrote about a bunch of Power Rangers Movie games from 1995.

Hi, kids! This is very brief as it's basically a plug for more of my words hosted on someone else's websphere. If you look down and to the right, at my little webring of cool sites you should click, you'll see one called Ranger Retrospective. This is a blog run by my Internet pal Samurai Karasu and it's dedicated to looking over every episode of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. You know, that show that got a big movie a while ago and had literally every episode streamed on Twitch in a marathon. Anyway, I pitched him an idea for a guest post and he gave me the thumbs up and I started to write it!

Two months ago. I admit I pulled a Douglas Adams and let the deadlines pile up while I poked and prodded at other pressing matters and articles. That's all in the past now, and the article's done and it's live! You can find it right here.

Considering Doctor Who writing is just around the corner again, this might be the last video game content you get in a while... unless I can find something really interesting to say about the game I've been playing and loving at present. Or if I form coherent thoughts out of recent opinions I've had. We'll see. Anyway, enjoy that writeup and go binge through that Power Rangers blog because Samurai Karasu is honestly funnier than me and he deserves it.

Monday, 10 April 2017

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

Oh boy! More Doctor Who bullshit! Sorry, but this will be the beginning of a bit of a blitz on the blog. Series 10 is going to be back in less than a month and that means I'll be bringing back the First Impressions series to blab about all of the new episodes and what they do right or wrong or whatever. The point is, I'm an opinionated asshole with a blog, and it's time to shove some of those opinions out there. Namely by offering alternative hot takes to the established opinions of Doctor Who fans. Wow! Nobody's ever done that shit before! Anyway, in 2014 while we were all waiting for Peter Capaldi to do something other than talk about his kidneys, Doctor Who Magazine published the results of its 50th Anniversary poll in which every televised Doctor Who story up to that point was ranked in a big gigantic list. All 241 of them. I take umbrage with some of these rankings, and we're going to focus on the ones that the poll called the worst of the worst. I went with the bottom 30 because that's low enough to be implied as dreadful while also having enough of these stories that I can actually defend. Not all of these are unjustly in the bottom of the barrel, and I have no empassioned defense for every single story here. Still, I've managed to pick five that I think get a bad rap. They might not always be undeserved bad raps, but I can redemptively read all five of the stories I'm about to put on the list. First, though, I need to rewatch them so I can actually make sure that I'm not full of shit. I'm writing this bit first and then I'll go watch some of them, just to give you a peek behind the curtain. So for you it's a nice quick scan down the page, but for me it's 100 minutes of watching the shit and re-reading critical analysis of it to see why it might be disliked. It's like fuckin' time travel, yes? Do note that since this is a 50th anniversary poll, no Capaldi-era stories were ranked on the list. If you want passionate defense of Peter Capaldi era stories, though, I wrote about all of them on this blog. Check out the First Impressions series. I was nice to at least two episodes that an updated version of this list would no doubt vote into the oblivion pool we're wading in now. Let's get on with it.

[Here is where you can imagine the famous TARDIS "VWOOORP... VWOOORP" sound effect as we go travel through time and space.]