Wrestle Jam

A couple of weeks ago I managed to spend every night of the week at the cinema catching up with the Oscar nominations. While I didn’t get to see the Oscars, as subscribing to Sky movies is daylight robbery, I did manage to see some excellent films such as Frost/Nixon (my movie of the year) and Darren Aronofsky,‘s The Wrestler, otherwise known as Mickey Rourke Strikes Back.

For those not into watching excellent pieces of cinema; The Wrestler is the story of a washed up 1980’s wrestling superstar. Now destitute, Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson is living life the only way he knows, and how that affects the relationship with his daughter and would-be squeeze. A major part of the film is Randy’s ties to his past fame, with one particular scene showing him and a young boy playing Wrestle Jam ’88, a fictional NES game from The Ram’s heyday. Kotaku ran a great article about the making of this piece of game art, I suggest you read it and be enlightened. I also suggest you see The Wrestler, it is not bobbins.

Apparently Aronofsky demanded a playable game, which was provided by brother and sister team Kristyn Hume and Randall Furino. All in all the game was a lightly featured clone of Wrestlemania, and even had it’s own 8-bit theme song (linked below). I adore this kind of commitment to building a film’s versimilitude, sure you could have run a video of any old game, or cobbled together some footage but here the production team seem to have gone one step further and made a work of homage from something many would consider no more than set dressing. Bravo!

Evolution, schmevolution…

Case in point...
Case in point...

Run now monkey men!!! Go hide behind your bearded idols, your simple tools at the ready, to remove those who dare to disagree from your delusional primate chain. I am here with disturbing thoughts and beliefs your “science” can not resolve. Your highest atheistas have failed, prepare to be exposed to ideas your simian minds can not hope to adequately resolve…

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in life (and, by all accounts that might be stretching me slightly) it’s that truth is in the eye of the beholder and evidence is the ass of a penguin. By that I mean; people believe what they want (yes, even atheism is a belief structure ladies) and you can easily pretend something isn’t there just because you can’t see it.

So, to all you latent-agnostic banana apologists out there; What about this blushing thing??

Yeah, that’s right, explain to me (and the rest of the befuddle scientific community while you’re at it) how the simple act of becoming red-faced at one’s embarrassment fits into the whole natural selection scheme of things…

With the 200th anniversary of the Anti-Christ Darwin’s birth looming large on the horizon, New Scientist (in an unusual act of objective examination) decided to ask luminaries from around the globe to express their thoughts on what gaps there still are in evolutionary theory. Richard “I-can’t-believe-it’s-completely-immaculate” Dawkins surprised everyone by taking up the mantle of Lord Inquisitor and asking his usual roll of meaningless questions. Frans de Waal however posited the much more succinct “Why do humans blush?”

Apparently, after 2 centuries of perverting our best minds and devouring more research monies than Black Mesa, evolutionary science has failed to explain this phenomenon in it’s own terms. There is no advantage to having this involuntary ability in any respect, in fact it can be said quite assuredly that it is a huge disadvantage (in both society and the natural world) and should have been routed out long ago if there is even the smallest grain of truth in “The Evolutionary Superstition” TM.

Now, I’m really sorry to rain on your vegan-hippy-carbonoffset-treehugging-love-renewable-Xmas parade, or whatever other pseudo religious humanist back-slap-athon you were all planning to mark the day your heathenistic confuser was laid into the world he tried so hard to subvert, but if you can’t tell me why I go red when I’m caught looking at some pretty girls A.R.T. then I ain’t buying your wares and I may even go to the extent of shooting the horse you rode in on just so you don’t try and peddle your sub-standard dross to any unassuming saps you might be find elsewhere…

Darick Robertson Draws Star Wars

As a chaser of abject awesomeness, check out this drawing by on Darick Robertson posted to the Growing Up Star Wars Flickr pool.

For those not in the know Darick is the artist behind Transmetropolitan, the other miscreant responsible is the perennial language abuser Warren Ellis. He also happens o be one of my favourite comic book artists evar.
Thanks to a Mr. Wil Wheaton for this internet treasure, whoever he is.

“Stop, stop! He’s already dead!”

Better Days
Better Days.

Apologies to all those ralph-fans out there(only lying to myself), I missed my post yesterday, to be honest I was a bit stuck for something to write, then I read a couple of things from which I found inspiration.  The first was an article on the escapist regarding games fanatasism, with particular focus on a certain spikey, blue mammal.  The second was Neil’s piece which linked to one particular fictional gem</lie> which excellently highlights the point I’m about to make.

Starting with an admission.  I am a Sonic the Hedgehog fan.  Since christmas 1991when my buddy Craig brought round his imported Japanese Mega Drive, I was hooked on the adventures of the speedy, blue one.  It was a whole year before I received my own Mega Drive along with both Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 2, still the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received, If someone gave me the gift of world peace and an end to all war, it would still slot in at no. 2 behind that Mega Drive.

Sonic was a departure from every other game I’d played up to that Christmas, about the most visually impressive game I’d played up to this point had been in an arcade, something like maybe wonderboy, or possibly the TMNT arcade game.  I’d never considered recreating this at home possible, not on my Spectrum anyway which offered impressive art if you didn’t mind it monochrome, and with little or no sound.  Sonic completely blew everything before it out of the water, Green Hill Zone Act 1is in my opinion the best designed level for any game on any system, and a perfect showcase for what sonic games should be all about, speed.  Playing Sonic on Xbox live acade my best run through time for act 1 is 29 seconds, I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid I hit 27, but that might be youthful exuberance (or out and out lying).  That doesn’t mean though that you had to complete the first level quickly, If you meander through the level it’s no less rewarding but with so much speed to hand it seems like a shame not to use it.

Later games went on to add further characters from the good ((though confusing) Knuckles the Echidna, Miles”Tails” Prower, Amy Rose(sometimes)), the bad (Charmy Bee, Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, Big the Cat, Cream the Rabbit (Oh god it’s like yiffy paedophilia!)) and the Ugly (Big the Cat, again).

Right that’s the potted history out the way, what was I saying?  I love the whole Sonic franchise, unfortunately only in the same way that I love the whole Star Wars franchise, or the whole Indiana Jones franchise, that is after the first three entries I zone out and pretend that nothing else happened.  Deep down there’s a small, grey sinkhole in my heart where I bury all the bad things that happen to a franchise that meant something to me as a child, every time George Lucas sticks his dick into my childhood (thank you South Park) I just bury it away and pretend it never happened.  The same is true of Sonic team, following Sonic & Knuckles (the last of the 2D series on  the megadrive) came Sonic 3D, it wasn’t fast paced and the concept of roaming an isometric 3D plain looking for birdies was like playing a re-skinned version of Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters, only more disapointing what with the original being about ten years old by this point.

Sega, realising their mistake at setting Sonic in a 3D environment, went on to completely ignore it, with all of the main cannon games being made in 3D, and all but Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast receiving anything other than a critical mauling.  Meanwhile on the GBA and DS all of Sonic’s continued adventures in two dimensions have been praised by both fans and critics alike.

Mind you do I really expect anyone to take note of criticism, when the BTOC’s in town?  No of course not, the fact of the matter is that despite well deserved criticism Sonic the Hedgehog is not just a mascot for Sega anymore, but a mascot for the industry, Sonic is not only recognised by gamers but by people on the outside, particularly parents, grown up gamers who remember Sonic from before but no longer pay attention to the industry.  It’s this sense of a “safe bet” which has given Sonic a critic proof sales dynamic.

Apologies to the artist but I couldnt bring myself to use something derogatory
Apologies to the artist but I couldn't bring myself to use something truly derogatory, I quite liked this.

That and (Welcome to the dark places) Sonic fans that didn’t abandon the blue one when it was a sensible time to jump ship.  I’ve never understood the concept of fanboyism, of the Otaku, of the fanatic until I saw Sonic the Hedgehog fans.  If Sega’sefforts to force me away from the series hadn’t worked then the fans themselves just might.  Not that I’m critical of all fans, I’ve already said that despite Sega’s best efforts, I’m still a fan, thing is though as a fan, I’ve never really considered it necessary to produce badly spelt yiffy porn.  Maybe it’s just me but I’ve never revved up a Sonic game and thought “Y’know, this is good, but imagine if Sonic was taking Amy Rose roughly from behind while Tails tickles his balls.”  I just… seriously I’m lost for words.  I know for a fact that I don’t have to look very hard online to find hundreds of grotty fan-fictions of this very scene.  They’ve even got celebrity endorsement of a fashion thanks to Excel Saga creator Rikdo Koshi, who has in the past produced Sonic dojin.  This being Rikdo though I’d like to think that there was some reasoning behind his art, even if it was just one of the BTOC’s stop offs.

Funny 'cos it's true

I found this handy venn diagram on google images and I can’t help but think that this isn’t something only I’ve noticed, the internet’s saturated with it, possibly more-so than any other franchise (with the possible exception of Final Fantasy, though the quality of FF games has remained high, almost inspite of the garaunteed sales and obsessive fans)

I stated in my title he’s already dead, and I can’t help but think that in my mind Sonic is just that, I still remember the good times, I’ve got the original Sonic game on Live Arcade, and I’ll continue to enjoy it, will I ever buy a new Sonic the Hedgehog game?  no probably not, I can’t help but feel that Sega has long since rendered the franchise, and to that end Sonic himself dead to me.  It’s just sad that that hasn’t  stopped others who proclaim to love him from repeatedly raping his spikey, blue, attitude filled, corpse.

Silence is golden…

Listening to or, more correctly, flicking past Radio 3 in the car on my way to work, I didn’t expect to hear anything of interest, never mind something that would motivate me to blog (I think that’s a verb now-a-days).

In any case, I heard tell of an experimental performance called Gold Dust that is to be part of the Cut and Splice festival at Wilton’s Music Hall on 25th October. This alone is not that interesting but the announcer went on to state that, to take part in this event, the performers (Matthew Lee Knowles and Neil Luck) must be isolated in adjacent hotel rooms for four days before hand. They are not allowed to eat, imbibing only liquids, and must attempt to move, sleep and think as little as possible. No contact with the outside world is permitted during this period, but they must update a blog with their experiences of the process. After their four days of isolation, they go straight to the venue and begin playing together.

Well I thought it sounded pretty cool, a bit weird and most certainly different, so here you go: