Thursday, 29 January 2009

Kung-Fu Thursday

Return of the Street Fighter (Satsujin Ken 2)
Director: Shigehiro Ozawa
Starring: Sonny Chiba, Yôko Ichiji, Masashi Ishibashi
Fight Choreographer: Masafumi Suzuki
Country: Japan
Released: 27th April 1974

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Video Game Reviews

Brad Harmer’s job on this site is to review albums. Due to his intense laziness, he usually does this without listening to the album, and just goes on the cover artwork. We’re not really sure what Robert Wade’s job is on this site, but he talks about computer games a lot.

Can you imagine what would happen if Brad and Rob worked together?

HALO WARS (X-Box 360)

Brad: My first reaction on seeing that cover was "Wow! General Grievous has his own game?!"
Rob: Is it me or do the Covenant look kind of like penises?
Brad: What is it with video game developers and their complete inability to design usable weapons? Explain to me one situation where using those plasma-blade things would be preferable to just punching someone.
Rob: Well, surely a plasma blade is more like a lightsaber...without the license obviously.
Brad: I guess so. I suppose they’re more like plasma-knuckle-dusters.
Rob: Yeah, like a lava lamp that's slightly sharp.
Brad: Assuming you had no prior knowledge, what does this art say to you about the content? To someone like me, (who genuinely doesn't know), I don't even know what gameplay it entails. It could be anything from a MMORPG to an RTS.
Rob: I think it's a dancemat game. It's the position of the soldiers that makes me think dancemat game


Brad: I genuinely have no idea what to make of this one. I'm guessing that there's a rational explanation, though. Perhaps a Seven Samurai theme? No, wait, there's only six of them.
Rob: That does obviously put an immediate damper on the plan. On the far left, it looks like Toad of Toad Hall has gone rogue
Brad: I like the non-racist way they've given the frog a Frenchy moustache.
Rob: Surely two of those six characters are useless as the large robot in the middle has just punched through both their faces?
Brad: And I'm fairly sure the robot in the middle is the fat legless Jedi from Dark Empire. Note that neither of us has commented on the one who's obviously the protagonist...
Rob: He's wearing pretty gay boots, how's that?
Brad: I think it speaks volumes that, as potential purchasers of this game, we're so embarrassed about the main character that we're not even acknowledging his existence.
Rob: In all honesty, he's probably one of those really super-effeminate protagonists that you're embarrassed to play as too.
Brad: Games did that for a while. I'm sure that Metal Gear Solid, Devil May Cry and Legacy of Kain all gave you a really shitty emo character for a large chunk of the game. It was immensely unpopular as ideas go, but for some reason they kept doing it. "I've bought Max Payne II. Why the fuck am I playing Jackie from That 70s Show?

(Left: Mona Sax. Not pictured: Dignity)

Rob: Metal Gear Solid 2 had Raiden.
Brad: He sucked,
Rob: The implication was that he sucked, yeah
Brad: What's your score out of 10 for Chrono Trigger?
Rob: Having never played it, 6/10.
Brad: I'm giving it a 4/10, as it obviously harnesses technology that was old when Shining Force came out the first time.
Rob: But then, using the Chrono Trigger, they could presumably go back and use the Unreal III engine...except they didn't.


Rob: What's Sarah Jessica Parker doing in CSI?
Brad: And the T-1000, apparently. As an aside, did you ever notice that they did a hundred re-themes for the Cluedo boardgame, but not one based on CSI?
Rob: They did a CSI board game, apparently it sucks arse.
Brad: It does. It's basically a series of party-game style mini-levels, with no real connection to the series bar the box art.
Rob: Think about it, though...if a CSI board game followed the show, this is the format: A person goes to see the crime, that's like "Go" on a Monopoly board, then you would go to somewhere the equivalent of the Red properties, like Trafalgar square or something...
Brad: The thought has just occurred that that's supposed to be Gary Sinise...and some sort of bizarre hybrid of (as you mentioned) Sarah Jessica Parker, and Celine Dion.
Rob: That is genuinely Gary Sinise, by the way, it's a photo.
Brad: I know. That's the really scary thing. How can a photo of him look so little like him? What sort of game do you suppose this is anyway?
Rob: I've played the CSI: Las Vegas ones. They're point-and-click adventure games
Brad: Were they any good?
Rob: They're actually not bad. Except the voice actors drove me nuts, because they only had one or two phrases each.
Brad: Which seems awfully lazy.
Rob: Have you watched the show?
Brad: Yes. Which is what strikes me as odd. None of those actors had time to record more than two lines of dialogue? How hard was that to squeeze into their hectic schedule? Those CSI teams have a bizarre hierarchy anyway. That police force seems to swap manpower to various tasks like a fucking tag-team match.
Rob: That's what the Las Vegas Police Department is like: a wrestling faction.
Brad: What's your score for the CSI:NY - The Game?
Rob: Modern forensic techniques give me the foresight to say 4.
Brad: I'm giving it ten, because I think there may be a level in there that features Gary Sinise having to swab Sarah Jessica Parker's vagina...and that's been missing from most games I've played. Except that pirate copy of Joust.
Rob: Would you give My Horse Vet a 10 too?
Brad: Only if Gary Sinise was in it.


Rob: I sense a rip-off. Cleverly done, isn't it?
Brad: On first impressions this does appear to be a knock of off Theme Park, but I would never have called Theme Park, "A Quest filled adventure".
Rob: Ultimately it was, but the quests were fairly basic
Brad: Theme Park was the game this generation wasted hours on before The Sims was invented.
Rob: Yeah, games like that are great for when you want to play a game that has no ultimate reward.
Brad: One time I made a Theme Park that contained nothing but toilets.
Rob: What did you call it?
Brad: "Bog World." The thing is, no-one came into the park because there weren’t any rides to attract them, so I had to put in a bouncy castle to attract people in.
Rob: I bet that bouncy castle wore out within a day.
Brad: It was a wonderful sight to see two hundred glass-eyed mongoloids wandering around in a daze, trying to figure out why they'd paid 50 quid to wander round a field of full of nothing but port-a-loos, the occasional shrub and one worn out bouncy castle.
Rob: You've never been to Margate have you? Dreamland was pretty much that
Brad: Management games in general are hard to play seriously. There isn't a man alive who hasn't made two women as roomates in The Sims purely for the purposes of making them kiss.
Rob: I find management games hard to play intermittently. Any time I get into one I go absolutely nuts on it. My first Sims couple was a man I made gay with my dad
Brad: Do you mean that you and your Dad made a couple who were gay, or you created a Sim of your Dad, and made him gay? I hope it’s one of those, because the alternative is some sort of Weird Science scenario...
Rob: The second one.
Brad: Does "40 minigames" refer to the rides, you think?
Rob: Nah, it's on the Wii. It refers to some sort of waggle controls.
Brad: I thought "40 mini-games" was a summary of the Wii's discography...
Rob: Nah, there's a Mario game too.
Brad: Wii: It's all about innovation. Are we right in assuming this is a Theme Park clone?
Rob: Oh, I dare say it is
Brad: Score out of ten? I'm going for a 4, because I'm feeling generous.
Rob: 3, matching the score to the age demographic that doesn't remember the infinitely superior Theme games.


I don't know what a Nancy Drew is.
Rob: She's basically Scooby Doo for idiots. Which is already a stretch...
Brad: I seem to remember someone recommending me some Hardy Boys books whilst I was at school. And I also remember being disappointed at the lack of top-rope action.
Rob: It's essentially the same thing as Nancy Drew
Brad: Looking at the Snowmobiles in the foreground, there's every chance that this is actually the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
Rob: Now that game I'd play
Brad: You can, but not on a computer system. Ameritrash FTW.
Rob: That's superb. Almost as superb as the next game i have in mind
Brad: What's that?
Rob: Patience....Score for this one?
Brad: Actually, this cover’s bollocks, let’s not use it...


Brad: What the fuck is that little purple thing?
Rob: This game instantly gets a 9 from me, just because the term "Club Penguin" is possibly the most hilarious inadvertent joke ever.
Brad: This appears to be an avian knock off of James Pond.
Rob: Which wasn't overly original itself...
Brad: Jesus...only when Nintendo and Disney combine can you get a 3+ certificate.
Rob: The kiddiness should actually tear the whole Earth in two...
Brad: I can't figure out what this game is about, can you?
Rob: Not as far as a plot is concerned, no.
Brad: All I can tell is that it's a shitty platform game with penguins and a grinning little imp of the perverse. Plot isn't important when your target audience is three years old, I guess.
Rob: Hence, Attack of the Clones.
Brad: Say what you want, Attack of the Clones is still the seventh best film ever made. I'm going to give this game a seven. It's not my kind of game, but it's probably okay...
Rob: I'm gonna stick by the 9 because of "Club Penguin". Next is "Club Seal" or "Club Toddler"...


Brad: Amy Winehouse has cleaned herself up a bit.
Rob: It looks like she's slinging the cake at the photographer. Maybe that's where the "Mania" comes in?
Brad: I didn't realise that Cake Mania 1 was a big enough a success to justify a sequel.
Rob: The game's apparently been downloaded 35 million times
Brad: Wow. There really is not limit to the complete lack of taste amongst Nintendo owners...
Rob: On PC, numbnuts...they sold 280,000 on the DS, which is actually not that many considering they've sold about 60 million units.
Brad: Another game that uses the word "adventure" on the cover. I don't really know how "adventure" and "cakes" would work together. Unless Winehouse is baking them, I guess.
Rob: I think a "Cake Assault" game would be good.
Brad: Me too. The Wii controls virtually write themselves.
Rob: Absolutely. You could probably have an upgradeable library of cake-related weapons ranging from the Bakewell Grenades all the way to Black Forest Nukes.
Brad: We should be game developers. I'm still not clear on the nature of this game, however.
Rob: I think the game is against nature.
Brad: Score?
Rob: Can we give minuses? Holy shit, this game has 6 endings! That's a bit like Fallout III, so it gets an 8.
Brad: Okay, 8.


Brad: Why would you want to dissect a lightbulb?
Rob: I'm still not sure how a lightbulb can perform even the most basic experiments.
Brad: It is, to be fair, an anthropomorphic lightbulb. I don't really think that this is even a game, you know.
Rob: I think you may be right. It seems the DS has just shrunk down all nerdy kid's hobbies from the early 90s. There's a book collection on here, and this is essentially the chemistry there are LEGO games.
Brad: What's next, I wonder?
Rob: Perhaps Scalextric?
Brad: I was going to say "Play-Do", but I think that's Little Big Planet's department.
Rob: That game's awesome by the way. The most fun I've had with sacks since i discovered masturbation
Brad: I had a physics computer game when I was revising for my GCSEs. Every now and again, it would throw up a quiz, and if you got a question wrong, Albert Einstein turned up and was very condescending. I once revised solid for three days and ended up screaming "shut up you German cunt" at the computer.
Rob: How did your history GCSE go, on a related subject?
Brad: I have a B grade History GCSE. I know more history now than I did then, though. At least to the point I'm co-writing a book on Jack the Ripper. My teacher was just blindingly incompetent. Why do you ask?
Rob: Because shouting "Shut up you German cunt" may have come up in the exam?
Brad: Score out of ten?
Rob: 6/10
Brad: I'm going with a 1/10, because I'm not even convinced this is a game.


Brad: This is a 10/10.
Rob: Agreed. Do we even need to talk about it?


Brad: I can't lie. I didn't know there had been a Street Fighter III.
Rob: Does it seem like they've been put into close quarters for no reason? Ryu's arm seems to be a bit jammed
Brad: Yeah, this is blatantly posed.
Rob: They seem a bit annoyed by the whole thing.
Brad: Maybe they're trying to figure out what happened to Street Fighter III?
Rob: Perhaps. I get the feeling they don't get on outside of the game
Brad: Final score?
Rob: 7, because Ryu seems to be devoid of underarm hair.
Brad: 8, because this is one of the few games for which I can picture the gameplay and it is awesome.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Random PSP fun (PSP in this case being Paint Shop Pro)

In a move that could possibly spell the end of civilised society as we know it, I recently tracked down my copy of Paint Shop Pro that had been sat in my cupboard for several months. In my defence, I have an immense console and PC collection, as well as about 40 GB of legal music on my iTunes. It's a wonder I get anything done frankly.

As a quick aside to illustrate how out of control my game purchasing became while in the employ of the UK's largest games retailer, I went to a friend's recently to play some Xbox 360 games, and resolved that I would only take games that could be played 2 player on local systems , so online multiplayer games were left at home as were single-player games. Even then, I was still able to take 15 games to my friend's house as well as a complete Rock Band set.

Anyway, to prove that my free time is not completely taken up by games, I thought I'd premiere my newest creation. In the spirit of proving that it doesn't take much to create one of these things, I made some Loldictators. I believe this is not a new concept, but then nothing ultimately is when it comes to the Internet, which is why I'm jaded when it comes to adult content; I've pretty much seen it all.

Anyway, here are my three creations, although two are based from the same photo. Incidentally, I've tagged these for a reason. If you enjoy them, spread the word and help E14 become the dominating force in geekdom and entertainment, so we can do one of those self-promotional adverts in 60 years time like WWE.

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Shit We Put Up With: Highlander - The Animated Series

Saturday morning cartoons are great. Whilst the genre has undoubtedly seen its peak with Ben 10, there's a lot of people who will tell you that the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties was very much the "Golden Age of Saturday Morning Cartoons". With shining examples like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Thundercats, Warner Brothers' Batman and the massively underrated Battletech as examples, this would indeed seem to be a convincing argument. However, what historians often do is to gloss over the unsavoury parts of a claim. And by "unsavoury", I mean "things that don't fit in with their argument". What I'm saying is that while the above may be true: for every Inhumanoids there was Bucky O'Hare and for every M.A.S.K. there was a Gobots.

Actually, M.A.S.K. wasn't that good either.

However, the single greatest failure in the history of Saturday Morning Cartoons has to be this:

Yeah. You just saw what you thought you saw. Highlander: The Animated Series.

Everyone here has seen the film Highlander, right? If not, get the fuck off of this website. You can't be emotionally fourteen and not have seen this film. It's pretty much bad acting, awesome sword fights and a Queen soundtrack from start to finish. Kind of like Krull but with awesome sword fights and a Queen soundtrack.

Those of you who have seen the film know that the basic premise is that some people are born immortal, and these immortals have to fight each other to the death (they may only be killed by decapitation) until only one of them remains. Those of you wondering how violent swordfights and decapitation are going to transfer to the Saturday morning cartoon format are probably wondering the same thing as the owners of the Highlander franchise, the writers of Highlander: The Animated Series, and the confused children watching Highlander: The Animated Series and wondering what the bloody hell this has to do with the movie.

I can hasz irrelevant franchise?

The series fortunately managed to avoid this problem by not showing any decapitation and setting the story 700 years after the movie. Thereby having absolutely nothing to with the movie at all.

The story took place on a post-apocalyptic Earth, 700 years after a meteorite collided, killing almost all of the population. In this Madmaxian wasteland, the Immortals united and swore an oath to put aside the sword-fighting and killing, to preserve the knowledge that humanity had lost. Why the hell they'd want to do that is anyone's guess. If I was Immortal on a planet full of Immortal people, I know we'd be using rocket launchers on each other all day just for the hell of it.

However, one Immortal named Kortan (not to be confused with with the movie's villian "The Kurgan", despite the fact that by this point confusion is inevitable) did not ally himself with the other Immortals. He still sought the prize and his empire grew until he controlled most of the planet from his fortress "Mogonda" (not to be confused with the word "mong", despite that being funny).

Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert *applause*) challenged Kortan and was defeated. With Connor's death came the prophecy of the rise of a new immortal, he would defeat Kortan. Don Vincente Marino Ramírez (I think that was Sean Connery in the movie, but who gives a fuck by this point, as he died in Highlander and was back in Highlander II. This frachise and continuity are sworn enemies.), has since waited seven hundred years for the unavowed immortal.

Quentin MacLeod is said to be the descendant of Connor MacLeod. Whilst a lot of Saturday Morning cartoons actually built up mythologies and recurring characters (you all remember how awesome it was when The Rat King turned up for a second time in Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, and don't deny it), Highlander: The Animated Series took an existing universe full of interesting characters and then finger-banged them until they were unrecognisable. Then, they wondered why no-one watched it.

The scary thing? Highlander: The Animated Series actually ran for two seasons between 1994 and 1995. The scarier thing? A box set containing all forty episodes is available on Region 1 DVD. Of course, several crocks of shit that no-one really wants are available on Region 1, so that's not all that surprising I guess.

Highlander: The Animated Series was very much a product of the nineties, and it wasn't the only "adult" product to be twisted and marketed at children. Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles was originally an adult comic series. A toy-line was produced based upon Terminator II: Judgment Day (look out for a future article entitled The Shit We Put Up With: Terminator Merchandising).

This was the point in my life where I realised toys in real-life would never be as cool as they were in adverts.

And, of course, there was this, which thankfully never saw production.

We can't blame Highlander: The Animated Series for being a product of its time. We can however, blame it for the headaches it used to give when we pondered the question "Why?".

Now, to take this rotten taste out of my mouth:

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Kung-Fu Thursday

V For Vendetta
Director: James McTeigue
Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Fry, John Hurt
Fight Choreographer: Chad Stahelski
Country: US/UK/Germany
Released: 2005

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Music Reviews

More music reviews for you now, with the quality of the entire package judged solely on the cover artwork. It's the only fair way.

Eagles of Death Metal - Heart On

I've been into metal and the metal scene since I was eleven. So, I can assure you that any band that is trying *this* hard to be metal has to be either restrained indie, or Machine Head. Neither of which is something that I would endorse.

This whole album cover is trying oh-so-hard to be kitsch, or ironic, (or whatever the hell it is when you're parodying something that you don't really understand) that it has to have been made by a bunch of students. It's got that jolly aren't-we-clever-ha-ha-ha attitude that students have all over their faces before you split their skull in twain with a battle axe. The red glossy nail varnish, the slight spattering of blood, and the slimline red font with the sine wave...all it's missing are the creases the cardboard cover picks up when you find it in a charity shop several years from now.

Either that or its a concept album about a hot woman who likes to pull peoples vital organs out and stick guitar leads into them. In which case this may be the most metal album ever made - 6/10

Franz Ferdinand - Tonight

It's not often that I get to review a band that I've actually heard of. I think the last one to achieve that was Guns N Roses. Maybe there are bands out there that have a presence outside of a track on Guitar Hero, but if there are, then I'm not really interested.

This cover is the perfect example of a band trying to say one thing, whilst accidentally saying something completely different (last witnessed with my review of LAX's The Game (or possibly The Game's LAX, it was kind of hard to tell)). It's clear here that the band is trying to say "No! Stand back! This man has collapsed due to the fantabulous rocking power within! His heart has overloaded and we're going to need to stick a guitar lead in just to get it beating again!"

Unfortunately for the band, it looks like they've just found this dead guy in an alley, and are trying to molest him, when all of a sudden we turn up, and the guy's all like "Whoa! Hi there! It's not what it looks like! We're just trying to help him. His flies were undone when we got here, I tell you! Then, his balls flew out and just happened to land in Simon's mouth!" - 4/10

Bands of the Household Division - Beating Retreat 2008

I'm not sure how this turned up on my review pile. I guess they must be a British battle-metal band of some kind. A "corps of drums" sounds pretty death metal too. This must be some seriously heavy shit. Err...horses, war-drums...swords...battalions...

You know what, I might actually have to hunt a copy of this down... - 10/10

Kreator - Hordes of Chaos

You see now, Eagles of Death Metal? If you'd stop trying too hard to be metal, then you'd end up with awesomeness like this! Blood red spiky font, black death/bootleg H.R. Giger style artwork. It's even called "Hordes of Chaos". This may actually be the most metal album this side of Beating Retreat 2008.

On the downside, looking at the artwork, this may not be an album and may just be an old Amiga game that wound up on my review pile somehow. - 8/10