Panzer Dragoon Coming to Switch

I am super excited that the Nintendo Direct today announced that they would be releasing Panzer Dragoon on the Nintendo Switch this winter. I’ve only played Panzer Dragoon Orta on the OG XBox but loved it. I have the Panzer Dragoon soundtrack as I heard it years ago on YouTube whilst marking books and bought the vinyl when it was released by DataDiscs a couple of years ago. I can’t wait to finally play the game!

In the words of Nintendo:

A new, remade version of the Panzer Dragoon game – true to the original, with improved graphics and controls, that suit modern gaming standards! On a far, lone planet, you encounter two dragons awaken from the ancient times. Armed with a deadly gun from the past, and the guidance of your armored blue dragon, you must fulfill your destiny and keep the Prototype Dragon from reaching the Tower or die trying. Panzer Dragon: Remake comes to Nintendo Switch this Winter!

His Dark Materials HBO Series Trailer Drops

With Game of Thrones ending soon it seems like HBO is really chucking money at shows to get its next big hit. A couple of weeks ago we got the Watchmen trailer and earlier today they released the His Dark Materials one. I’m a huge fan of the trilogy and have been for many years. In fact, way back in 2013, when I was creating an influence map the series featured quite prominently.

Anjum Razaq Influence Map

I look forward to seeing the show and hope it keeps more in line with the book series, blasphemy and all.

New Watchmen HBO Trailer Drops

Watchmen is one of the most important graphic novels of all time and whilst the 2009 film adaptation did an okay job of transferring the complex comic to the screen, it didn’t quite succeed in my opinion. Now HBO is having another bite of the Watchmen cherry with an all-star cast series adaptation. The trailer had me intrigued and I’m sure Alan Moore vitriolic. Well, we’ll soon find out if it’s any good but considering HBO’s impressive output, I wouldn’t count against it.

Yuzo Koshiro on Composing for Streets of Rage, Techno and Programming

Yuzo Koshiro, the composer behind the Streets of Rage games, was a pioneer when bringing the sounds of the clubs into games. The Streets of Rage soundtracks are amongst the most highly regarded of the 16-bit era and rightly so. Whilst The Orb, The Prodigy and Orbital were getting into the charts, Koshiro was applying the music styling of the genre into his soundtracks.

I have all three Streets of Rage soundtracks on vinyl and they are awesome!

I have all three Streets of Rage soundtracks on vinyl and they are awesome!

In an interview for Red Bull Music Academy, Koshiro discussed the early days of his career, how he and Motohiro Kawashima sought inspiration in nightclubs for Streets of Rage and why he never let limitations stop him from pushing forward. At nearly an hour and an half it’s an informative and interesting in-depth discussion about a very singular creator.

She-Ra Season 2 Trailer

The new trailer for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power season 2 has just dropped and I am excited. The first series was solid in my opinion and, even though it faced some backlash from some quarters, I’m pleased it is getting a second series. The release date is 26th April and I look forward to watching it and writing a review! For those who are curious, I reviewed the first series so check out the link.

Cuphead Coming to Switch

The Xbox One has not had the greatest of times this generation but one of its shining lights has been Cuphead, the old animation styled rock hard run and gun game. Well, I’m beyond excited to see the game has been announced for release on the Nintendo Switch on 18th April 2019. I’m definitely buying it and can’t wait to play it! For fans of old Fleischer and Disney animation this is a must.

The Public Information Films We'll Never Forget- BBC

Public Information Films were government funded mini movies which tackled the myriad of issues facing society over the time. The British government were true masters at creating small horror films that warned of imminent danger and scared the bejesus out of children, sitting in the hall with a rolled out tv/ video combo. Check out the BBC video that looks back kinda fondly, if that’s the term to use, at the films that informed and petrified us in equal measure.

The Public Information Films We'll Never Forget- ©BBC

What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us?

I’ve discovered a BBC short film (just under 5 mins) about Hauntology, the concept that there is a "nostalgia for lost futures." The term is a portmanteau of ‘haunt,’ meaning ‘to appear in a ghostly form’ and ‘-ology’ meaning ‘the study of the nature of being.’

Over the course of the video we see images of the past and projections of what the future could be like. Looking at the possible hopes and fears for the future left me feeling a bit depressed really and that is what hauntology does. Anyways, it’s a great video and worth a look!

What Is Hauntology? And Why Is It All Around Us?

Why the World Fell in Love With Monument Valley

I frequently speak about how video games can be an art form. Not all games are art in my opinion but some titles just stand out and really push the debate beyond doubt... step up Monument Valley and Monument Valley 2 by Ustwo.

In the Monument Valley games you manipulate Escher-style architecture and guide a silent princess through stunning vistas. In Monument Valley 2 you control a mother and daughter as they are seperated by the architecture. The journeys is relatively short (about 2 hours apiece) but memorable as each level is a masterpiece, a combination of stunning art and immaculate design (I’ve linked to two articles I’ve done below about the artistry in the gaming).

Red Bull Gaming have produced a short 10 minute documentary about what Ustwo is up to next and it looks intriguing. Now this is a video game studio I can get behind.

Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy Concert Returns to the Royal Albert Hall

The music of Final Fantasy, composed by Nobuo Uematsu, has always been a video game fan favourite and even reached quite high in the Classic FM Music of the Year charts. Well, the Royal Albert Hall is hosting 2 evenings of the music from the games but with a very special guest indeed, RIKKI, the original vocalist from Final Fantasy X!

I probably won’t be going as I have a few school commitments but maybe you folks might enjoy it. Click the link below the image to go to the official Royal Albert Hall website to snap up tickets!

Crow: The Legend- PSVR Animation

As teachers and educators we like to immerse our children in topics to interest and excite them. With certain topics this is easy as we have to facilities and resources nearby to engage them, however with certain topics like History this can be difficult as the places we are discussing are often not within reach.

Whilst carrying out research about native North America I came across a free PSVR animation called Crow: The Legend, a story about the origin of seasons. In the words of the animation creators, Boabab Studios:

The carefree forest animals imagine spring will last forever. However, winter comes and the animals soon realize that their lives are in danger. What they need is a hero; what they need is Crow: The Legend.

The 20 minute or so animation is a beautiful VR experience and stars John Legend, Oprah Winfrey and many other famous actors. It is a brilliant stimulus for writing and I hope to use it when we do our North America topic next term.

Fern Gully Trading Cards Set Opened 26 Years Later

Whilst at a Comic-con I picked up a pack of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest trading cards. For those not in the know Fern Gully is a 1992 animated musical film about the Australian rainforest inhabited by fairies. Crysta, a fairy, accidentally shrinks a young logger named Zak to the size of a fairy. Zak goes native and teams up with Crysta to rally the fairies and the animals of the rainforest to protect their home from the loggers and a malevolent pollution entity, Hexxus.

For people thinking that this premise sounds familiar, it is... think of Avatar crossed with Dances With Wolves and you get the idea.The film is not very memorable but does feature a pretty cool performance out of Robin Williams, pre- Aladdin.

Getting the cards was pretty awesome as they have survived being chucked for over 25 years and that is amazing. The cards themselves are alright but pretty basic, no gloss, no shinies and no activities but overall not too bad. They mostly contain stills from the film and character images. No muss, no fuss.

Huge Manga Exhibition at British Museum in 2019

I’ve been a HUGE manga fan for about 30 years now. Back when I got into it in the late 80s, manga and anime were not as prevalent as it is now in the West, so to see its emergence and cultural impact has been fascinating for me. In fact, my first ever blog post for this website in 2013 was an influence map:

The British Museum also recognises the influence of the artform on the world and is hosting its biggest ever exhibition from 23rd May to 26th August 2019. In their own words:

Immersive and playful, the exhibition will explore manga’s global appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.

I can’t wait to go to the exhibition.

I can’t wait to go to the exhibition.

I hope to be going to the exhibition and will write a review, as usual.

LINK- British Museum Manga Exhibition Tickets

LINK- Good Grief, Charlie Brown Exhibition Review

Thunder Force IV Soundtrack Incoming

I’m a huge fan of DataDiscs and their video game soundtrack releases. I have bought many of their vinyl OSTs including Okami, Golden Axe, Panzer Dragoon and all three Streets of Rages. Recently, they have announced that they will be publishing the soundtrack for Thunder Force IV. As a HUGE fan of the game back when it was out on the Megadrive (and recently released on the Nintendo Switch Store) I am beyond excited for this release and can’t wait. For those not in the know check out the soundtrack below and rock out!

Cunk On Everything- Book Review

Philomena Cunk, first appeared on our screens as part of Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe show. Over the next few years her oeuvre of absurdist, irreverent humour, punctuated with fleeting moments of profundity recalled edgy shows from the 90’s such as The Day Today, The 11 o’clock Show and Brass Eye.

Since then Cunk has appeared in various shows, including Cunk on Christmas, Cunk on Shakespeare and Cunk on Britain. Her wide-eyes insouciance has won her much acclaim and her ability to agitate and disarm experts has been a joy to watch. Now, actress Diane Morgan, who has played Cunk for the past few years, has co-authored a book with the help of Brooker and the author team behind the Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups series, Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley. Cunk On Everything is Morgan’s take on the encyclopaedia but with a leaf taken from Michael Gove in that “people in this country have had enough of experts,” so listen to the idiots instead.

Cunk On Everything is the world according to Philomena Cunk… it’s wonderful and weird!

Over the course of the alphabet we learn about Archie Medes (the cleanest philosopher), the xylophone (the sound of skeletons dancing) and the Taj Mahal (made out of ice cream).

I listened to the audiobook and over the course of just over 5 and a half hours found myself laughing away. The audiobook is delivered by Morgan with her usual deadpan wit and does not take itself too seriously, whilst genuinely getting you thinking about some things you never would have thought of.

This audiobook is exactly what fans of the character were looking for and I for one give it a thumbs up!

Betty Boop in Halloween Party- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

This 1932 Fleischer Studio animation isn’t really scary but more sweet as Betty Boop invites people over to hers for a Halloween Party, but “Bring Your Own Lunch.” However, a gorilla gatecrashes the party and it’s up to Betty and co. to ensure the evening is not ruined.

This is not a bonafide classic like the others I have shared so far but it is pretty good with a strong voice actress in Bonnie Poe and vaudeville, film and TV actress Mae Questel.

The Skeleton Dance- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The Skeleton Dance is the first of Disney’s Silly Symphony shorts, an animated cartoon series where music is integral to the whole piece. In this classic animation, as the clock strikes midnight four skeletons rise from their graves and proceed to have merry fun.

Considering that this was released in 1929 the macabre matter is somewhat surprising, however the animation is top notch and incredibly fluid. Check it out!

Ulysses 31: Vengeance of the Gods- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The 80's were an amazing time for cartoons and one of the finest is Ulysses 31. It tells a story similar to Homer's The Odyssey but set in the 31st century, hence the 31. The 26 part episode series is all great but the pilot episode is pretty scary, what with child kidnapping, child sacrifice and a freakin’ robotic cyclops! The music complements all this beautifully and I have spoken at length about the soundtrack before.

For those who only remember the series from the past check it out now on YouTube… it still holds up well!

Cobweb Hotel- Spooky Kids TV Appreciation Month (Spooktober)

The Cobweb Hotel is a spooky 1936 animation by Fleischer Studios. The cartoon tells the tale of a malevolent spider who runs a hotel where he traps unsuspecting travelling flies, bugs and other creatures in his cobwebby lair. However, the spider’s luck changes when a newly married fly couple come to stay.
The cartoon is beautifully animated and the sound design adds to the creepy atmosphere. The whole thing is a horrifying hellscape of nightmarish imagery which will stay with you long after the cartoon ends.