Monday, 13 August 2018

Is Emu-Paradise no longer having Roms the begining of the end of Video Game History ?

Well seeing as I am most known for being that Super Nintendo guy a lot of the time, well I couldn't help but comment on the recent semi shoot down of EmuParadise. A lot of people will think of EmuParaide as that site full of game Roms and to a degree that is kind of true but id like to think that it was a lot more than that. Yes it was a place you could go to get Roms but it was also sort of a digital museum that celebrated retro gaming and even  helped to remind people of old games that they might have forgotten. Now you probably noticed I said semi shutting down and not shutting down well that's because the Roms are going but the site is not.

The situation with regards to emulation sites has been changing recently. Sure there have always been companies who have been hostile to it, companies that have thrown there weight around with legal threats and complaining to hosts demanding that Roms be removed but right now we seem to be in the eye of a storm and rather than put its team members in a position of risk EmuParadise has decided that it needs to change. Yeah I think its a shame to loose a good source of Roms, one which came without the risks of viruses and such but I think its good that it will continue to exist as a resource which will help chronicle the history of games even if it cant help people to actually play them.

Some people are saying that this shift is the beginning of the end, that it signals the beginning of the death of video game preservation. You see companies like Nintendo might be afraid that if people use emulators and Roms for free then they wont pay money for virtual console style games or collection discs or official mini consoles and well that is to some degree a fair argument, some people wont pay £6.50 to play Super Metroid on there Wii U or New 3DS if they can simply download it for free and use an emulator to play it on there PC. So if you look at it from Nintendo's few point then emulators and roms do kind of suck. Looking at it from the consumers point of view and also the video game historians point of view though and you will start to see a whole new range of issues and arguments.

Look at it in this way, if a person was to remember a game, one which meant a lot to them, one which held a special place in there heart, one that they had played in there youth well what about when you want to play that game what do you do? Well you have a handful of options one of them is to look up the original hardware and software, another is to look for a modern legal way to get the game be it to buy a micro console with preinstalled games or to look at old game compilation discs or a console system based marketplace and the third one of course is to download an emulator and a rom so that you can play the game on your PC. Now there is this idea which some companies and even people have which basically goes like this every one when they are downloading a rom are doing it because there a dirty pirate who wants to have something without paying for it and that basically if you do this then you are a thief.

OK so if  Sonic the Hedgehog is available on pretty much every console's market place, is also available on PC through Steam, on the Android phone store, on the I-Store and is on a whole bunch of officially licensed micro consoles and you still decide sod all that noise I am just going to grab it for free then you could make an argument that your basically stealing it because you don't want to pay for it but this is really simplifying matters. You see there are a lot of games which you cant pay for at the moment but you might want to play, games which are not available for all kinds of reasons, licensing issues, the company that made them no longer existing, perceived lack of interest by the owners. In these cases if you really really want to play the game then what do you do? Well you either get an original copy of the game and its hardware or you have to emulate. In both of these cases the studio that made the game is not going to profit. Game Studios do not get any money from you going on ebay or visiting a retro game store and paying for an old copy of one of there games. Its a little extreme to expect someone to pay lets say £1000 for a rare arcade cabinet just to play a game which they could easily use a computer to emulate. Plus and this is the real kicker hardware doesnt last forever especially if its some custom chip arcade game like one of the old pre jamma board ones, so if we only play a game using real hardware eventually this hardware will break and there might even be a time where we no longer manufacture the parts with which even the most tech savvy of people could manage a repair. Old machines will eventually die out and if there are games which no one is re-releasing on modern platforms then there is a chance that these games could die out as well.

I have to admit though that I am not as worried as a lot of other people and you know why? Its simple you can get tough on roms and kick up a stink but you will never get rid of it, at the very most you will simply push things underground a bit. Lots of us are sitting on huge supplies of Roms now and we will continue to swap and trade these and as long as that happens then not only can we play the otherwise unplayble but we can also hold on to our video game history.

Friday, 10 August 2018

The Halloween movie Canon Jigsaw Part 3: Where does Season of the Witch fit into all of this or does it simply not.

OK so with Halloween being the story of what Michael Myers did on Halloween and the sequel Halloween 2 being a continuation of this most people would probably presume that Halloween 3 would be yet more of the same, after all that's pretty much how it went for horror movie Villains like Freddy Kruger and Chucky and such right? Well in this case you'd actually be wrong, in fact you could say that you would be dead wrong. You see Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, abandoned the story of Michael Myers altogether he doesn't really feature in the film at all, well except for the part where an advert for the first Halloween movie appears on a television set. The idea at this point in time was that  from this point on Halloween was going to be a sort of series of  anthology films, so film 1 and 2 would be about Michael and then 3 would be about something incredibly different happening one Halloween night and then 4 would be about another thing. I guess that kind of means that in Halloween universe terms we have a slight problem here, either Halloween 3 is happening in a completely different universe where the first Halloween at least exists as a movie or the whole Michael Myers thing really happened and then someone made a movie about those events, a movie which got the details at least close enough for its trailer to look like a pretty much beat for beat reenactment of some of what happened.

To be honest I kind of really like the idea of the Halloween trailer seen in Halloween 3 being a trailer for a movie based on real killings in that universe by Myers but then it would come with all kinds of problems, including the fact that people in future films should know who Micheal is on sight. Add to the fact that knowledge of  a killer in your neck of the woods who had survived a crazy amount of punishment and was basically a relentless killing machine would mean that everyone would have there houses so super super secure and live with loaded weapons in there hands every second of every day well lets just say you'd have to factor these kind of things into future films which would create a whole heap of work. OK I am going to leave this here as I could go in circles talking about it all for a very very long time.
I guess I should say at this point that I am an absolutely massive fan of Halloween 3. I have written about it quiet a few times, I have reviewed it, I have discussed whether it might have been met with a better reception if it was just called Season of the Witch with its Halloween connection severed. I have also spent a lot of time wondering what would have happened if the film had been a success, what would Halloween 4 and 5 and 6 have been about then, and how good or bad would they have been?

One thing I would have liked to have seen done in latter films is to have the events of Halloween 3 connected to the cult of Thorn. Yeah Myers is great on his own but I would have liked to have played the cults power up a little bit more, to have made it seem like they were a force for evil in the universe and that they didn't have all of there eggs in the Michael basket, they had the mask plan and various other ideas.

OK so I guess that's me done talking about Halloween 3 but I will say one thing, if you havent seen it then give it a bash, just don't go into it expecting a slasher film with a silent shadow killing people, go in to it with a fresh and open mind and you might just find that you really enjoy it.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Halloween movie Canon Jigsaw Part 2: How the original Halloween was alterd when it was brought to TV to set up Halloween 2 and that movies place in the universes canon.

The first Halloween was soon followed up by Halloween II. I ended my last Halloween blog post by saying that I would be talking about how the original Halloween was altered when it came to TV and that it was altered in order to add a few facts that they wanted to slip into the canon before the sequel so this is what I shall do now.

It was scenes added to the TV version of Halloween which introduced the twist that babysitter Laurie Strode, was Myer's long-lost sister.  So how and why did this come about? Well in 1980, the television rights to Halloween were sold to NBC for $4 million and apparently they wanted a few scenes to be censored to one degree or another. When Halloween appeared on television for the first time in October 1981 not only had bits been censored but Carpenter had also filmed twelve minutes of additional material and inserted it in to the movie. This stuff was filmed during the production of Halloween II and included a scene with Dr. Loomis at a hospital board review of Michael and with Dr. Loomis talking to a 6 year old Michael telling him that even if he has the board fooled he hasn't managed to fool him. Another scene featuring Dr. Loomis at Smith's Grove shows him examining Michael's abandoned cell just after his escape and seeing the word "Sister" scratched into the door.
The last scene added was one in which Lynda comes over to Laurie's house to borrow a silk blouse before Laurie leaves to babysit, just as Annie telephones asking to borrow the same blouse.To be honest as far as my memory goes Laurie was always Michael's sister so maybe the first ever version I saw must have been the altered one. also in my opinion any version with more Loomis is a good version as for me he is quite simply the best thing about the Halloween films.

OK so with that out of the way Halloween 2 was basically to the best of my knowledge pretty much always considered part of the Halloween canon with even Halloween H20 the film which came along and ignored every film after 2 considering the TV the events of Halloween 2 to have all happened within the cinematic universe.

 So what about the new upcoming film Halloween 2018 for want of a better title, well this is actual the first film to ignore Halloween 2, in this new upcoming movie nothing is cannon apart from the first Halloween movie, but its not even clear as far as I know which version of the origianl it is set to follow, so will it follow the Theatrical cut or the Television cut? Will Laurie and Michael be brother and sister or will he simply be some guy with her being just some random person he tried to kill? I guess we will have to just wait and see.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Halloween movie Canon Jigsaw Part 1: An explanation of Cannon and is the original Halloween a sequel to Black Christmas?

OK so this is the first in a series of posts about the Halloween film series but in order for this all to make sense I kind of need to start with explaining what the term"canon" means. It should be easy but its kind of not. Canon is basically any part of anything which is supposed to fit in to a larger story, its treated as something which actually happened and can be sited as a true series of events within a film or a comic series. I guess the easiest way to explain it would be to say that all of the regular issues of Spider-man happened and can be seen as counting as real events that happened in the life of Spider-man, where as any of the ''What If'' stories Marvel did happened outside of canon, they are interesting little tales which might feature the same characters but are supposed to be ignored for the purposes of the bigger picture.

Canon is a complex beast because what is and is not considered canon can change at almost any time, basically whenever the person or company holding the rights decides that it needs to. The easiest example for me to give is probably Star Wars. So for years and years books and comics and such were released which were supposed to show us what happened in the Star Wars universe after the end of Return of the Jedi. Fans invested a whole bunch of both time and money in following the adventures of Luke Skywalker and friends and then bang Disney buy Lucas Arts and they own Star Wars and pretty much the first thing they do is to tell us all that all of that stuff we had purchased and read was no longer canon, it was all basically alternative universe what if style stuff and that if we really wanted to follow what happened canon wise in the universe after Return of the Jedi then we would have to watch the new films and stuff that they were going to be working on.

Plenty of film series have toyed with canon in a whole range of ways scrubbing out a film here or there, telling us to ignore certain parts but arguably no other franchise has pissed around with its canon to quiet the same degree as the Halloween series. I cant even make it past the first film without having to talk about its Canon and whether it is part one of one story or part two of another and its only going to get more complicated from this point onwards.

So I guess usually the first place to start would be the original, in this case the 1979 slasher movie, Halloween. Sounds simple right? Well it mostly is apart from one little footnote and that's the fact that some people think that Halloween is kind of an unofficial sort of sequel to a film called Black Christmas. So what do Black Christmas and Halloween have in common, whats the connection? Well both of the films were released in the 1970s, Black Christmas in 1974 and Halloween in 1978, add to this that both of them are often credited for helping to kick-start the American slasher movie movement that pretty much dominated the 1980s. Add on to this the fact that some people feel that the origins of John Carpenter’s film can perhaps be traced back to a conversation he once had with Bob Clark about Black Christmas. The following is taken from an interview with Bob Clark and is about a discussion he had with John Carpenter.
I never intended to do a sequel [to Black Christmas]. I did a film about three years later… started a film with John Carpenter. It was his first film for Warner Bros. He asked me if I was ever going to do a sequel and I said no. I was through with horror; I didn’t come into the business to do just horror. He said, ‘Well what would you do if you did do a sequel?’ I said it would be the next year and the guy would have actually been caught, escape from a mental institution, go back to the house, and they would start all over again. And I would call it Halloween.
OK so that is for all intents and purposes basically the plot of Halloween right? So this conversation does very much make Halloween look like a Black Christmas sequel which went on to have its connection to Black Christmas stripped out of it doesn't it? Yet when you look into the history of Halloween a little more deeply you learn that producers Irwin Yablans and Moustapha Akkad approached Carpenter to direct a movie about a killer stalking babysitters. Carpenter and Debra Hill agreed, and began working on a script titled The Babysitter Murders. It was reportedly Yablans who then suggested the movie be re-titled Halloween, and that the story take place on Halloween night.

In total honesty I don't think Halloween is a sequel to Black Christmas in any way shape or form, but I do think that Carpenter had clearly enjoyed Black Christmas and had taken something away from his viewing of it, something which lurked in his mind and in certain ways came out during the making of Halloween but this is a common thing people do. It is one of the reasons why if I am writing stories I will try to limit what I read and watch and will try my best to look for elements of anything I have seen seeping into my work, as long as you keep it in check and you remain inspired instead of simply cutting and pasting whole chunks of something else I don't really think that it is a problem, heck if you can see even a slither of Black Christmas in the DNA of Halloween I am pretty sure most people involved in that film would take it as a very high form of compliment.

OK so join me next time when I will be talking about how the canon of the first film was changed for the TV version to set up what they decided needed to be set up for Halloween 2.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

My Retro Purchases July 2018

I started my retro purchasing on the 5th of July, when I picked up Tecmo world wrestling for the NES cart only for £2.50 and fight night round 2 for the original Xbox complete for £1.

While I was on holiday at the seaside I picked up  Warzone 2100 (Value Series) for the PlayStation complete for £1, Fluid for the PlayStation complete for £1, Star Trek: Invasion for the PlayStation complete for £1 and TOCA Touring Car Championship for the PlayStation complete for £. I think it would have been around the 13th but I didn't bother making a note of the fact I had gotten them until I got back home on the 16th so not exactly sure when I got them but it was from a weird little shop which mostly seemed to  repair disability scooters but had side lines in all kinds of other kinds of bits of this and that.

 On the 18th I I grabbed Yu-Gi-Oh The Falsebound Kingdom for Gamecube boxed with manual for £15, yeah it was from a CEX but I asked to see the disc first and checked that everything was genuine no reprinted fronts or anything like that. I have to admit I honestly don't get why people harp on about them doing that so much, seriously if your into your retro games then don't you look long and hard at what your looking at investing in before you do it? On the same day I also nipped into a charity shop and got Robot Warlords for the PS2 complete for 50pence.

On the 22nd I grabbed  Motorbike King complete for the PS2 for 10pence and Kickboxing Knockout for the PS1 missing manual for 50pence, yeah neither of them are titles which will set the world on fire but I kind of have a soft spot for some of the cheap budget stuff you could get your hands on for the playstation and playstation 2.

On the 25th I recieved Thunder Pro Wreslting Gaiden for the Sega Megadrive Japanese through the post it is complete and including postage it cost me £10 . I have meant to grab this for awile as its basically the megadrves version of Fire Pro Wrestling and from what I hear it was nearly turned into an American wrestling game called Jesse "The Body" Ventura Wrestling Superstars. I also went into a charity shop and grabbed WWE Crush Hour for the Gamecube complete for 15pence, Sensible Soccer 2006 complete for the ps2 for 15pence and Disney's stitch experiment 626 boxed but missing manual for 15pence.
I finished the month of today by grabbing Tatsunoko Vs Capcom, Kirby Epic Yarn, and The Legend of Spyro dawn of the dragon for wii all complete for £18 and then popping into a charity shop and getting Mercenaries 2 for the ps2 complete for £1 and Air Raid 3 for the PS2 complete for £1.
 So this month in total I spent £54.05 which I am actually pretty happy with as I have been trying to limit the amount of stuff I buy and have actually resisted buying a lot of things. I am a little bit dissapointed that this blog seems to have decended into little more than a place where I talk about my recent purchases. I fully admit the place has been very low on content for the last few months and if anyone follows me I appologise. In all honesty I think I have burned myself out a little bit. I was reviewing games and making YouTube videos and had become involved in a podcast all during which time I was trying my best to be there for others, hopefully things will turn around a little bit in another month or so.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

150 SNES games reviewed #37: Spindizzy Worlds

Spindizzy Worlds is a puzzle game published by Activision, originally released on the Amiga and Atari ST in 1990, which was then ported to the SNES by Ascii Entertainment. 

The game is a sequel to the 1986 video game Spindizzy which was released on early home computers such as the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, etc . Spindizzy Worlds uses an isometric view, and the player controls a robotic device named GERALD (who looks like a yellow spinning top). His name is an acronymn for Geographical Environmental Reconnaissance And Land Mapping Device. The idea of this game is to explore a star system before it is destroyed, collecting the jewel like icons there as you go.

The best way to think of this game is as a less cutsey prototype of Super Monkey Ball, which features a yellow spinning robot instead of a trapped simian. Now take that image and push the graphics back about 10 years from Monkey Ball and you will be pretty darn close to what is on offer here.

Gerald will spin everywhere you direct it – but you’ll have a tough time getting it to stop at first, meaning you’re going to go shooting off of this and that platform, you’re going to get half way up a ramp and fall off, and you’re possibly going to do it again and again. Going up and down elevators is hard because no matter how careful you think you’re being, or how softly you think you’re using your fingers, sometimes you will find that you just cant seem to hold the little blighter in place long enough. The trick to this is Gerald travels at around his medium speed, if you try the face buttons then you will soon learn that one of them if held makes him go faster and another acts as a sort of brake or slow movement button.

A lot of this game kind of relies on you knowing when to go quickly and when to slow down, and of course once you think you have the hang of this the game will decide to give you a treacherous task to perform and decide to up the ante by making you have to do it quickly. Of course, this stops the game from becoming a cakewalk once you think you have gotten the hang of things, but it can also cause the game to get incredibly frustrating and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are not people who have torn there own hair out in flights of swearing and frustration. However I have seen people play this like they have some kind of neural link with the bloody game. Just like in Super Monkey Ball there are some players who with the right amount of practice manage to get so in tune with the controls and Gerald’s strengths and limitations that they can turn this in to a form of video game ballet and it becomes amazing to watch. Players like this are a rarity though. Most people will bounce around like a mad spinning top shooting off the sides or crawling at the pace of a snail and I think that in a way this makes this a hard game to show footage of. I am not saying that I am incredibly bad at this game or anything but I am quiet a shaky person mostly due to medication I am on for epilepsy, so I hardly make this kind of thing look graceful.

The graphics and sound are both adequate but that’s the best I can say about them. They don’t really add anything much to the game. For me this game is a bit of a Marmite game, you will either love it or hate it. If you want a fun challenging puzzle game then it might be worth giving it a whack but I would only recommend this if you have played the living hell out of things such as Monkey Ball, Kororinpa and Marble Madness and simply need more of that kind of game. If you decide you want a crack at this game you can get it online with a cartridge-only PAL copy going for around £7 which I would say is quite a fair price for this title. My copy is boxed but not in the best of shape and in all honesty I cant remember where the heck I got it from, or when I even got it.

I would give this game six out of 10, but like I said I think it is a real Marmite game. I can see some people saying it deserves eight and I can equally imagine people calling it a poor sliding mess and claiming six is far too generous, and that they would have given it three. If you like puzzle games maybe give it a bash but I can promise you that if you don’t usually like this kind of thing then this game will not be the one to change your mind.

Monday, 2 July 2018

My Retro Purchases June 2018

I started my months purchases on the 6th of June with Thunder Birds Japanese cart only for the SNES arriving in the post, it cost me £3, postage was free so I think this was a pretty good pick up. I also went in a semi local retro shop on the way home from work and grabbed Sonic 2 for game gear cart only for £1.

On the 8th I went to an Indy store and I grabbed Gauntlet 2 cart and manual for NES for £5 and Hook for NES for £5 , in my opinion anytime you can get a NES game for £5 and its not a sports title then you just kind of have to jump on it.

On the 10th on the way home from work I grabbed Asterix and the Great Rescue for megadrive cart only for £. I have to admit to having been a huge Asterix fan as a kid. 
Things were quiet on the retro purchasing front then until the 17th when I spent £1 on a complete copy of Grand Turismo 4 for the PS2 which also happend to have a memory card in the case and the disc for Project Silpheed the lost planet in the case tucked into the manual. Not bad for £1 at all really.
On the 21st I grabbed two loose NES carts, RoboCop for £6 and StarWars for £7.

On the 21st I went to a charity shop, a charity shop which usually wants £3.99 for any game you could possibly call retro whatever format its on and even if it is just an old ps2 copy of FIFA. Well surprisingly this time they had a sign up saying they had too much stock and any product with a red dot on it was only 25pence and so I got the following games all complete all for 25pence each Brave: The Search For Spirit Dancer for PS2, The Jungle book grove party for ps2, Singstar Anthems for ps2, Medal of honor European assault for xbox, Sensible soccor 2006 for xbox, James bond everything or nothing for xbox, Splinter Cell for Xbox, and Mashed for xbox

On the 22nd I once again found myself in a charity shop and I grabbed The Lost World: Jurassic Park complete for PS1 for £1.50.
My last purchase of the month happened on June the  26th when I went into a charity shop and  I grabbed Tony hawk's underground complete for Xbox for £1, Halo (classics edition) complete for Xbox for £1 and Project Gotham racing 2 (classics edition) complete for £1. I might have ignored them if it wasn't for the fact that they were in amazing condition with totally scratch free discs.

So in June I spent £38.50 on retro games which is actually a pretty low amount for me, as for star pick ups I would argue that it wasn't much of an eventful month and I don't think I really have a favorite purchase, so lets see what next month brings.