Friday, 27 April 2012

All Time Top 20 Videogames

Same as last time, this type of list is difficult. I've taken the nostalgic road with it. I've included the format I preferred/played each in brackets.

21. Alex The Kid in Miracle World (Master System I)

OK, I couldn't do the list with just 20 games. I can't think of a better place to start my list really, the Master System I was the first console I owned and Alex Kid was the first game I properly got into. I'd played videogames before this, but it was Alex Kid that got me hooked on gaming. This has a special place close to my heart.

20. Theme Hospital (PSX)

I lose hours on this game! I still have a bash on it every now and then, and it's still as addictive. My fave sim type strategy game ever.

19. Super Puzzle Fighter

This is my favourite of the puzzle-block type games, I think the combo system gives it an edge, plus it's 'Street Fighter' themed!

18. Plants Vs Zombies (iPhone)

As mobile device games go this is the best around in my opinion, I find it more addictive and way more strategic than most peoples favourite on-the-go game 'Angry Birds'. I want a sequel!

17. Fable (Xbox)

At the time the original Fable blew me away; The brilliant story and voice acting, the customisation, the massive open world, combat was good. I don't think they've come close to this with the sequels.

16. Gears of War (Xbox360)

The first 'next-gen' game on my list. Games have changed since the days I started playing them, gone have the blue skies, rainbows and cute characters. Replaced by grey terrains, darkness and shooting things in the face with a shotgun! Gears perfected the cover-based shooter mechanics and now they're common place in games. Great co-op gameplay and online modes, mixed with cutting edge (for console) graphics and some of the best voice acting, all make for one of the best games of recent years.

15. Streets of Rage 2 (Megadrive)

Megadrive vs Snes, they were the glory days of gaming right? I think this is my favourite game from that era, as a kid I would play through SOR2 over and over. I still like to have a go on this, usually on the move with my iPhone.

14. GoldenEye (N64)

At the time this changed FPS on consoles. Awesome 4 player modes, a nice assortment of weapons and gadgets and a cool campaign. It was most fun played with friends in deathmatch mode and the fact it was a good movie licensed game!

13. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

A beautiful, cinematic experience. Stunning graphics (back then), an amazing score to compliment the epic action, and actually original in its delivery of an adventure game. Basically a game full of awesome boss battles, and a true work of art.

12. Street fighter 2 (Arcade)

I'm not as fussed about SF as I once was, but it made a big enough impact on me as a kid that it holds a special place in my nostalgic mind. A game I can have a quick fix on these days, back then I put way too many coins into the arcade machine! I usually play as Ken, but my favourite character is E-Honda.

11. Final Fantasy 7 (PSX)

Just outside my top 10, another game that's got high on the list because of nostalgia. I spent so much time engrossed in its world, I actually have sentimental attachments to the characters (WTF!)

10. MarioKart (N64)

All versions of MarioKart are brilliant, I'll go with the N64 version cos it introduced me to the fun of a 4-player splitscreen race. Massive amounts of fun!

9. Pacman (Arcade/Xboxlive)

The original gaming mascot! This is still as addictive and fun to play as it was on its release. If you took away most of the next-gen games fancy graphics and sound, would they still be as much fun? Probably not. Pacman is pure gameplay. It's clearly one of the most influential games of all time, it even influenced the creation of my number one game! I also had Mr Pacman and Mrs Pacman on my wedding cake!

8. Left 4 Dead (Xbox360)

Valve reinvented the FPS and Zombie survival game with this one! And they remain leading pioneers of innovation (last years Portal 2!), Left 4 Dead is all about co-operative gameplay. Bring me L4D3!

7. Super Mario Bros (NES)

Videogame history! The original Super Mario game is the blueprint for an entire genre, all platform games have its basic components in place. And most of all it's still fun to play!

6. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)

I've completed this game a couple of times, both times clocking over 30 hours of play. A Star Wars RPG by Bioware! Geek heaven.

5. Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube)

Your zombie survival game is getting a bit stale, what do you do Capcom? You ditch the ZOMBIES?!! NOOOOOOO...wait, RE4 didn't just do that, they also got rid of the dated static backgrounds, and replaced them with some of the best graphics seen in a gaming world at the time. They upped the level of tension, and gave us a great combat system that kept elements of the past games. Great boss fights too! Unlike a lot of the fanboys I'm a big fan of RE5 too, which keeps the gameplay mechanics and adds  awesome co-op.

4. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox360)

Arkham Asylum is pretty much a perfect game; great atmosphere and graphics, cinematic sound and voice acting, awesome fighting system, stealth action that's not dull, cool gadgets, brilliant story, great boss fights...the only drawback is that it's a bit short. I wanted it to last forever!

3. Halo (xbox)

Another benchmark in console FPS, the first game I played that mixed a big game world with a first-person shooter. The controls are perfect as far as console based FPS go, great music, a nice array of weaponry and vehicles. And awesome level and character design. It got even better when they added online play on Halo 2, but this was a game changer.

2. Mass Effect 2 (Xbox360)

This games is as close to perfect as it gets. A big engrossing world, slick polished graphics and sound design, a truly awesome combat system and exploration and RPG elements that are fun. The first game was one of the best I've played, and this is better in every way. I liked ME3, but I preferred the story, missions and level design in this one. The last game didn't deserve the blasting it got for the ending though!

1. Metal Gear Sold 3 (PS2)

I'm a massive fan of the MGS series, since MGS on the PS1. It was hard to pick a favourite out of them, I love them all (except the portable 'Acid' games). I think this one went a long way to refresh the series, but keep the formula the same; with the change of scenery and time period and the new stealth-camouflage mechanics. I also think this one slightly edges it with the boss battles, they're always great in the Metal Gear series, but this had some stunning confrontations. The sniper battle with 'The End'! And the finale in the long grass! Snake? ...SNAKE?! ...SNNAAAAAAAAKE!!!!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

All Time Top 20 Films

Any list like this will never be perfect or final, but here's an attempt at my possible top 20 films. I've tried to go with films that are close to my heart, films that I've grown up with and the ones that blew me away at the time.

I have a bad habit of saying a film is a top 100, or 'a top 10 of this genre', and people always say 'there must be hundreds of films in your top 10'. So, I decided to give it a go and put them down on paper (or blog space). This is quite a 'geeky' list...

20. Toy Story

The original feature length, fully CG animated film and in my opinion it's still the best! Pixar at their very best, funny, touching and inspiring. I could watch this every week.

19. Stand By Me

I think it captures childhood and friendship in a lovingly told tale, kinda like a darker more serious companion piece to 'The Goonies'.

18. Labyrinth

Don't judge me! I grew up on this film; I love the tunes, I love Bowie, I love the puppet work and sets. As soon as I hear the music at the start of the film, along with that badly computer generated owl I'm hooked in.

17. Akira

I have Akira on my list because it was one of the first animated films to truly disturb me in a way I didn't think possible with animation. Cerebral and weird, it’s like the 2001 of anime. It also was the film that properly got me into Anime.

16. The Lost Boys

Yeah, ‘Lost Boys’ is in my top 20. I think this film actually looks great, yeah it‘s pretty cheesy, but it works and it‘s got that certain something that makes it timeless. But, I mostly hold this film so close because I grew up with it.

15. Ghostbusters

A great cast, loads of fun and laughs. Great writing, and Bill Murray at his best!

14. Amelie

Amelie is a brilliant feel good movie, that I find pretty magical and stunning to look at.

13. Back To The Future

80's were the best years in film for me. Adventures don't get much better really.

12. Survive Style 5

Quirky, colourful, surreal, dreamy and utterly bonkers.

11. Pulp Fiction

I’d go as far to say that this is probably the best written film of all time, the dialog is fresh, sharp and clever. Tarantino also gets great things from all of his cast, he directs with effortless style and energy. Pulp Fiction is one of my favourite films because for me, it was definitely a life-changing experience.

10. House of Flying Daggers

I'm a big Martial Arts movie fan, it was hard picking my favourite. HOFD is visually stunning, the story is solid and the action is breathtaking.

9. Spirited Away

Ghibli’s masterpiece is beautiful, weird and wonderful. Breathtaking animation, a magical story and incredible attention to detail. A great achievement.

8. 2001

A work of timeless art, 2001 is an audio/visual masterpiece and mind pummelling trippy. You don't exactly 'enjoy' it, it's more like an experience. It’s all in the painstaking attention to detail and photography with Kubrick, on a technical level the best director of all time imo. 

7. The Thing

John Carpenter’s atmospheric masterpiece makes my top 10 list because it’s psychological enough to please intellectual fans of the genre and splashes sufficient gore around to satisfy the rest. The traditional special effects are still amazing today and Carpenter's trademark music compliments the themes of isolation.

6. Leon

Leon works on many levels; there’s moments of intimate, tender drama, thrilling action, playful humour and gritty suspense. Reno is subtle and emotive in the lead, Portman shows fantastic talent for her years and Oldman’s over-the-top, scene stealing villain sets the screen on fire. A near perfect movie.

5. Goonies

I love an adventure, this sums up being a kid for me really. I watch The Goonies when I feel down, I watch it when I'm feeling nostalgic, I watch it at Christmas, and I might go watch it now...

4. Alien

A slow-burning, skillful and atmospheric tension builder. Subtle acting from the entire cast, and spectacular set design make the science-fiction believable. Genre defining and the best of its type.

3. Empire strikes back

I love Star Wars, I grew up on it. Empire is by far the best film in the series; a timeless masterpiece that surpasses the original in every way. It's a benchmark in visual and audio effects and it has some of the most iconic scenes in cinema history! I only have to hear that first bar of music from the theme and I'm a little kid again. Oh, and Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah is one of the greatest moments in film for me.

2. Oldboy

Korean revenge film 'Oldboy is a visceral and unforgettable experience that drags you into its dark world. An intriguing and twisting story, with superbly dynamic acting from Min-sik Choi. It looks outstanding, with excellent photography, flawless direction and brutally stunning choreography. Needs to be seen really.

1. Blade Runner

A visionary dystopian future, Blade Runner has actually got better with age! Skillfully paced, grand set and costume design, excellent music and truly great acting from Hauer and Ford. On a technical and artistic level Ridley Scott's film is arguably only surpassed by the best of Kubrick's work. But this bags my top spot!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Geek Parenting #1: Toy Story

Every parent of a toddler knows that most pre-school toys are rubbish; they're noisy and annoying, and you can never find the off button when you accidentally set them off! We will stand on AWOL toy shrapnel with our bare feet when going for a midnight zombie-walk to the toilet on a weekly can be a war zone!

Anyway, my little girl recently got two MASSIVE tubs of Duplo bricks from her grandparents (for anyone that doesn't know what Duplo is, it's basically big Lego), she literally got enough to make Duplo world! Finally, cool kiddie toys! So, like any respectable father I decided to test exactly how much Duplo we had and I built a tower in the living-room. I made it wide enough to fit several of her dolls inside, and it touched the ceiling in height. I was ready to take it outside and keep going, we had a lot of wife made me take it down before it fell over and killed the cat.

Lydia's idea of playing with her tubs of Duplo is to simply tip them all over the floor, both tubs, everywhere! I needed to guide my young padawan, teach her the art of the Duplo. But how? Well, she always points at my G1 Optimus Prime and goes 'Chooo chooo!', she thinks it's a train (awww), and she wants to play with him (not happening!). She's managed to pick it up just once, before I freaked out and quickly saved him from this mini Terminator. Knowing she loved my Autobot so much I decided we would make a giant Transformer with the Duplo bricks!

We used almost all of the red and blue Duplo to construct Optimus, and he took two attempts to build. The first attempt was smashed into several parts by Lydia playing Godzilla with a cushion, laughing her evil laugh as she watched me in slow motion; "NOOOOOOOOOOO!"...WHACK!

Lydia still pours the bricks everywhere. She started pointing at my R2D2 plush and saying; 'TOO DEE TOO!", did we make him with the duplo? No, I just give him to her;

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Custom Hand-Drawn Stormtrooper Raffy Kidrobot

It was my 30th (sigh) birthday last week and I got some lovely presents from my lovely wife, including a Kidrobot Raffy. It was a customise and paint it yourself vinyl toy from the Munky World range.

So here's what I did;

Being a massive Star Wars geek I decided to go for an iconic Stormtrooper look, plus it meant I could keep it quite simple and would only need a sharpie for the job!

I commend people that do complex designs, cos these things aren't easy to draw/paint on, one slip of the hand...

I love him anyway, and he's sitting proudly on my shelf.

Monday, 7 November 2011

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Back at primary school, you'd hear this question all the time. Then the usual answers from kids; Firemen (Fire Fighter now, in our politically correct world), Doctors and Nurses, Vets...I'd just sit there daydreaming, thinking to myself, I want to be...

5. A Cyborg

Yeah, so as a kid two of my favourite films were Terminator and Robocop (they still are), they were inappropriate films for my age, but I'd watched them and the idea of being made into a cyborg was cool. Obviously now I can see the implications...pretty sure Robocop didn't get to keep his todger, that wouldn't be fun (poor guy)! And airports would be a nightmare! But, as a kid I would pretend to walk like a robot and talk in a monotone voice, yeah I was awesome.

Alternatively: I also wanted to be 'wolverine', cos he was kinda like a cyborg, but also kinda like a ninja, and also one of the X-Men!

4. A Thundercat

When I was a kid I owned about 3 different Liono's, because my next door neighbour at the time had a bad habit of throwing my toys out of his bedroom window...I'm really not sure why I was friends with that boy. One of them was missing an arm and the other had no legs! So, I had 2 stunt-double Liono's for my full-working Liono. I was a dedicated fan.

Alternatively: I also wanted to be in the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'

3. A Tyrannosaurus Rex

Right, ok these are getting ridiculous. But, when I saw Jurassic Park at the cinemas it blew my tiny little mind! I think it was the summer holidays before going to high school, before innocence was lost forever...I still sometimes walk around the house like a T-Rex, cos I've got a two year old daughter, yeah, that's why.

Alternatively: I also wanted to be Godzilla!

2. A Ghostbuster

What kid didn't pretend to be a Ghostbuster in the 80's-90's!? Wearing their backpack with a water pistol attached. Actually, thinking about it, I kinda remember owning an actual Ghostbusters plasma Gun.

Alternatively: I also wanted to be in the A-Team

1. A Jedi

As a kid there was nothing cooler to me than a Jedi! I'm finding it hard to think of something cooler even now! Anything can be a lightsaber with a little imagination.

We've all been there;

In reality my real dream (one that was slightly more achievable anyway) was to be a comic book artist or cartoonist. When you was a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Leave a comment to let me know. Fantasy or Reality!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Kids in 80's Films...

In the 80's kids could do anything, but the films still had heart!

Scenario #1. So, you've moved to a new place with your mum again, started a new school and you're getting bullied by a gang of Karate experts? Oh man!

80's FILM: That's cool Daniel Larusso! No sweat. Your elderly Japanese neighbour will kick all their asses! And teach you the ancient and deadly art of Karate, just by getting you to clean his house and cars and other crap! You'll get the girl and win a national tournament (after minimal formal training!). Yay!

If the Film Was Made Today: The kids a male model, he's got a six pack and good hair. Girls today couldn't give a flying monkey shit if the lead guys the underdog or whatever. This kid gets intensive training with a MMA champion and works the hell out (he doesn't do karate, but no one will notice or care). He's already buff and tough, but he works out even more cos the other guy is a bit harder and said something nasty about his mum. Music by Black Eyed Peas.

Reality: Kid gets knacked up (beaten). They move again.

Scenario #2 You're in the school basketball team and you suck! But, don't worry you're actually a Werewolf! F'yeah!

80's Film:
Keep it a secret right? No way Scott Howard! Just transform during the game and kick the other teams ass! No one will question a werewolf playing basketball. Despite looking like a mini wookie you will get all the girls, get your own tshirts, buy kegs of beer and surf on cars! You're totally rad!

If The Film Was Made Today: You're a little bit awkward and you're a loner, but in a way that's still sexy to the teen girls watching. And you're 'mysterious'. You look like a male model, with a six pack and good hair, even when you transform into a Wolfman! You're a sexy wolf, your eyes go a different colour and you get a bit disheveled. You might get sideburns and some designer stubble, but that's it. You suddenly have confidence, you beat up the jocks and get the girl. You never use your wolfman powers to win at basketball though! Your eternal curse is a secret that no one can ever know...Music by generic emo band.

Reality: You get bricks thrown at your face and people call you a freak!

Scenario #3: You and your misfit gang of friends find a treasure map in the attic!

80's Movie:
Adventure time! You all get on your BMXs and go after that treasure, you end up in an 'Indiana Jones' type situation, trying to avoid booby traps with criminals on your tail. A deformed, friendly giant that the fat kid befriended saves the day! Hurray!


...okay, all the kids are male models with six packs and good hair. Even the fat one. They're also MMA fighters. Or some such shit...

Kids sack it off and watch TV.

I <3 80's!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Being a Geek (Is There Life After 30?)

I turn 30 in a few weeks, I'm married and I have a little girl. And it got me thinking about how much of a kid I am in some ways.

I have a massive collection of Toys (most of them are still in the packages, I don't play with them! I'm not a total freak), comics and videogames. Most of my tshirts have superheroes or cult films on them, and I hold my jeans up with a belt adorned by a Super Mario World 'Mushroom'. I don't have much in the way of 'grown-up' clothing. And I can not physically walk passed a comic/toy shop without getting excited and going in, and most visits end with me leaving with something new.

Growing up

It might have been my up-bringing that made me into a bit of a man-child, looking back I don't think it was the most stable. In a way, maybe I went into my own world populated by the Thundercats and the X-Men to escape. That might be thinking too deeply and I was probably just a little nerd, but the thing that made that little nerd stick around was definitely the following...

My mum and dad split up when I was a kid (I'm not gonna get all emo in your face, don't worry), and I lost all of my childhood possessions. I was getting to an age where I told myself they didn't matter anymore, I was in the top year of primary school, with my teens just around the corner, so they didn't matter (they did). And be honest, you might have all those childhood things in a box up in the attic, but you've still got them. And when you have a look through them you get a warm feeling, right? Anyway, I thought I was too old for toys and games and I moved on, I thought being 'grown-up' meant; I didn't play with toys anymore, I started shaving, and I wore cheap deodorant. Later (late teens) I became nostalgic about my childhood, and all the things that I'd lost from that time. So, I started 'collecting' stuff, then ebay came into my life and nostalgia was in full-force, I could actually buy back my childhood!

Now my missus and partner in crime is also a bit of a nerd, most women would have probably made me get rid of such childish ways (and failed), but she kinda embraced the geek, she buys things for the nerd dungeon, our geek-central (bedroom). And we had Mr and Mrs Pacman on our wedding cake, which she made! We also smashed the Locust Horde together (three times)! Videogame fans will understand. And despite all this, turning 30 somehow feels it's embarrassing to be 30 and do these things! Should I sell all my toys and pretend to be a mature adult?

I can't help being excited about the next Mass Effect game, or Batman movie! That will never change, but should I start dressing like a 'grown-up'? How much longer can I rock the Star Wars tees and Mario belt? I guess things like this cross the minds of everyone turning 30; "Am I too old to continue this band that's not going anywhere?", "Am I too old to eat Coco pops?", "Should I really care if the new Avengers film is good or not?" or "Am I too old to pretend to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex?" (never!). I guess I'm just gonna have to grow old disgracefully and get mocked by all of you 'grown-ups'...

Hey you, out there! Yeah you! You are never too old to pretend to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Live the dream.