Mystery World Dizzy NES Cartridge Kickstarter

As a gamer in my mid-30's I have fond memories of gaming in the 80's. But there is one series which came out on the micro computers that holds a special place in my heart, and that series is Dizzy, the lovable puzzle solving egg. 

I have always had a soft spot for the good egg so when I heard that there was a Kickstarter to release a new (old found) game from the Oliver Twins I jumped at the chance to get in on the action. I played nearly all of the original Dizzy games on the Amstrad CPC 464 back in the 80's and held the games and their creators in high regard, fulfilling a geeky dream by listening to them at a retrospective of their career, meeting them and getting some of my games signed by them a few years ago. 

For those who are unaware Mystery World Dizzy is the NES game that was never released, even though the Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy had done so well on the platform. The game was discovered in the attic by the Twins and with the help of the online community was fixed and repaired to become playable and free to download online.  I have Kickstarted the physical NES release of the game and hope to get my mitts on the cartridge in February 2018. As of writing the campaign is still on, so if you are interested get on it now!

Mystery World Dizzy © Chris Wilkins, Oliver Twins

Metal Slug Vinyl OST Pre-Order

Data-Discs has been releasing video game soundtracks of classic games for quite some time now. They have been primarily releasing a lot of Sega OST's including classics such as Streets of Rage, Outrun, Revenge of Shinobi and Super Hang On but their newest release is Metal Slug, a series that was developed by SNK and gained fame on the NEOGEO. I like the game series just fine but the soundtrack never really resonated with me but but I know that this series has an ardent fanbase so I sure there will be many interested in procuring a record.

Couch Wisdom With Bjork

There are very few artists out there who have the longevity and singular vision of Bjork, the Icelandic superstar who has been entertaining the world for over three decades. I have seen Bjork in concert, used her amazing app and been to a few exhibitions of her work however it is always refreshing to hear her meditations on life, the universe and everything in-between. I find that she has an interesting and informed view of the world and her outlook on life is inspiring and beautiful in its simplicity. In 2016, Bjork spoke at the Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal and the resulting conversation is now available for free to stream or download on RedBull Radio. I had a listen and enjoyed it immensely and I'm sure you will too. Give it a whirl!

Couch Wisdom with Bjork

Dario Argento Barbican Talk on Suspiria

I am a bit of a fan of Dario Argento, director of many giallo films (Italian horror films)  from the 70s and 80s. I have a soft spot for Phenomena and Tenebrae but for me (and many others) his masterpiece is Suspiria. The tale follows ballet student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) who arrives at the prestigious Tanz Academy in Freiburg. The school is plagued by gruesome and supernatural happenings as students begin to die in horrific circumstances. Suzy tries to uncover what is happening but will she find out before it’s too late?

The film is famous for its vivid colour, artistic cinematography and dramatic synthesiser music by cult band, Goblin.

Argento is doing a talk at the Barbican on 14 Nov 2017, 20:30 after a 4K restoration of the film. I couldn't get tickets as they sold out almost instantly but I hope the Barbican will release some footage of the event and the talk online maybe. If you want to attend the screening and interview maybe you can find some online somewhere at a premium price...

Moomins and Oxfam Join Forces to Empower Women Worldwide

The Moomins are the foremost Finnish family, famous around the world for their carefree and loving nature. They gained fame from the comic strips of Tove Jansson in the 1940's but the 1990's animation brought them worldwide fame. The Moomins have joined with Oxfam to help women and girls around the world fight inequality and escape poverty for good. To do this they have released a book containing two short stories from Tales of Moominvalley from 1962, called The Invisible Girl and The Fir Tree.

The Invisible Child is about a little girl who turns invisible after being badly treated by the woman supposedly caring for her. She is given a place to stay at the Moominhouse and, when shown warmth, kindness and respect by the Moomin family, she gradually reappears and regains her place in the world - a right that every woman and girl should have.

The book is £5, of which at least £4 will go towards the various projects around the world.

Commodore 64 VR

I've spoken enthusiastically about VR and how it was changing the future but one creative person has used VR to change the past. 64jim64 has hacked together the VR64 headset, a VR headset for the 34 year old computer. The project outputs video from the computer, and 64jim64 has created his own game with stereoscopic depth built in to show off his home designed VR headset. Check out the video below as he explains what he has created and details how he achieved those results, it's all rather fascinating stuff!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in 2 Mins

I'm a huge comic nerd and over the last few years I've loved seeing a younger and more varied readership entering the fold. There are many reasons for this but I think the new line of comics aimed at a younger audience and the popular films have revived some interest in long gestating characters. Squirrel Girl is one of these characters and having read all of the graphic novels on the Marvel Now line I can say that she is an awesome character. When I try to explain the powers she has it gets a little strange so why not let this short 2 minute video by Marvel explain the basics. Enjoy!

Ouro, A Sci-Fi Short Animation About Vengence

There are some amazing animations out there and finding the truly outstanding ones can bebit of a task but I have one to share with you. Ouro is a revenge story about a girl who is murdered but then brought back to life through a mystical snake. So far so 80's tropey but in essence this is very 80's, apart from the animation which reminds me of the angular styling of Samurai Jack, Batman: The Animated Series or, for the connoisseur anime fan, The Big O. The music is synth pop infused electronica and suits the visuals well. 

The short animation, directed by Pierre-Jean Le Moël and Eva Jiahui Gao, is wordless yet so much is conveyed in its short 3 minute run time. Give it a watch!

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm Release Today

Dontnod games are releasing part one of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm today. I played Life is Strange and loved the experience, so when I heard that they were making a side story of the game explaining the events in Chloe's life I was intrigued but a little worried. Often when creators go back to the well and try to do an interesting 'take' on their original work it lacks something that drew you in with the original work but I'm willing to give it a try.

The open letter from the writing team of the game is a novel way to promote the game and whilst I found some bits heartfelt others felt a bit cringey but hey, that's what happens when you see people put their emotions out there. Anyways, I'm going to download the game and give it a play. Later!

Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated- Series 1 Review

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated began in 2010 and had a hard hurdle to climb. After years of sub-par Scooby Doo shows hopes weren't high for this new series but dear gosh does this incarnation of the series blows all expectations out of the water.   

Mystery Incorporated follows the traditional Scooby-Doo trope of the monster-of-the-week but adds further depth by adding an over-arcing story. The gang live in Crystal Cove, “The Most Hauntedest Place on Earth” and share a love of mystery solving. The series takes the basic premise of the original couple of series but grounds the protagonists further by introducing their families and giving them a home. By adding the parents continuity, depth and dynamics are introduced to the characters, and it's the interplay between the protagonists that really shines. Daphne loves Fred, but Fred loves creating traps and spending time solving mysteries with the gang. Velma and Shaggy are an item but keeping it hidden from Scooby so as not to upset him. The dynamics created by this simple slight alteration in the mythos ensures that the script and dialogue between the characters zips along at a cracking pace, pop culture references are dropped left, right and centre and you have to listen out for zingy one liners, one of my personal faves being Velma berating Scooby, "Before you go code brown..."

Marvellous stuff with a Whedon-esque lilt, and not a shwarma in sight.

For a kids show there are a lot of pop culture references but then this isn't a kids show aimed at kids, it's more like Disney's Gravity Falls, a 'kids' show more suited for adults. For a series that is over 40 years old that started off with janky Hannah-Barbara animated chase scenes, choreographed to cheesy pop music to one which cites Twin Peaks, The X Files and H.P. Lovecraft amongst some of its influences the series really adds layers to the traditional Scooby Doo formula. When a Vincent Price nod appears in the form of recurring character Vincent Van Ghoul and a Cabinet of Doctor Caligari reference is dropped, you know that this is something special with writers who have a deep knowledge and love of cinema yet a fondness for the original Scooby Doo shows.

As a 36 year old man with a 2 1/2 year old daughter it really is difficult to explain how good Mystery Incorporated! is but I will say that it is one of the best animated shows that I've ever seen, and I am an animation aficionado so that is high praise indeed.

With Mystery Incorporated, Scooby Doo has come back bigger, brighter and better than ever before. As a huge fan of animation I can say unreservedly that this is a great return for an iconic series. I am currently ordering series 2 of the show as the series ends on a cliffhanger that I need closure on.

Series 1 is currently airing on Amazon Prime and I would recommend everyone watch it!

Escape- A Short Animation Created from Within VR

Virtual Reality is here and unlike on previous occasions, is gaining traction. I've already spoken at length about how the technology can be used in lessons as a stimulus for writing. As the technology matures people are beginning to use VR in exciting innovative ways, stretching media in new and innovative ways.

Artist Nick Ladd has produced an exciting short film, called Escape, using Quill and ANIMVR. The result is a short but sweet animation.

Tonbridge Comic-Con

I live in a small village in the Kent countryside but enjoy going into London once a month to get my comics as well as visit exhibitions and galleries. Having a young daughter and another baby on the way sometimes makes this difficult, so I was ecstatic to hear that Tonbridge is getting its own very own comic-con. The comic-con will be held at the Angel Centre on Sunday, September 24th 2017.

For those not in the know comic conventions see film, comic and tv show fans come together to meet and take photographs with special celebrity guests, take part in cosplay competitions and engage with their fandom through discussions and panels. 

I have booked two tickets, one for me and one for a friend and will report how the first Tonbridge comic-con goes but hopefully it is a success and takes off.

Tonbridge Comic-con

Fatal Frame 2 Fun Animation

Fatal Frame, known here in England as Project Zero, is a scary game in which the player controls the protagonist Mio Amakura as she searches the Lost Village for (and sometimes, with) her twin sister, Mayu. Exploring the seemingly deserted village the player finds various objects with which to solves puzzles in order to advance. Ghosts pop up and attack or assist Mio, who hasthe 'Camera Obscura', an antique camera that has the ability to harm the spirits and reveals hidden things.

The game is a very popular series in Japan and I love the series, having played and completed the first one on the original Xbox. Since then there have been 4 more games released in the series and I have played and completed most of them, except for game 4 as it never saw a release in the West on the Wii.

Well Markiplier with the help of GrittySugar! have made a hilarious animation based on the tropes of the series.

Great Find in the Loft

Anyone who has ever watched the Goonies has undoubtedly dreamt of finding a secret map that leads to treasure. Since watching the classic film in the 80's I've dreamt of going into the loft and finding awesome cool pieces of bric a brac. Well, over the past couple of weekends I've been cleaning the loft, organising it and preparing the large amount of material goods contained within, to prepare for the arrival of our daughter. Whilst organising it I did find something intriguing... no, it wasn't the map to One Eyed Willy's treasure (How did I miss that great name!) but it was something pretty impressive.

A double box set of vinyls by Linguaphone to learn French. The sets were in beautiful sturdy cases and have stood the test of time well considering they are from the 1950's.

I have a record player but haven't played these yet.  We teach French at school and this might be quite a cool way to introduce the children to older way of learning a new language. Now I'm no hipster as I think it is probably a lot easier and convenient to learn a new language through the more modern means at our disposal but this does offer the children a great opportunity to learn about the evolution of media.

Sonic Mania Soundtrack Pre-order

SEGA and Data Discs have just announced the official Sonic Mania vinyl album. For those who don't know Sonic Mania is the soon-to-be released Sonic game. Wait come back... don't run away. THIS Sonic game is a proper old skool Sonic game with faux 16-bit 2D style graphics.

The Sonic Mania vinyl will feature 16 new tracks by composer Tee Lopes, who has released several of the tracks on YouTube to build up interest in the project. As well as re-imaginings of classic tracks the vinyl promises to offer brand new tracks. I've listened to a few and as a whole they feel full of energy and very jazzy, mostly like the tracks in the Sonic Rush collection of games.

Pre-orders for the Sonic Mania Vinyl go live on the Data-Disc site at 8am (BST) and I for one will be trying to order the limited edition version of the vinyl for my collection. The vinyl will come with a digital download code so you can listen to it on your digital device. I can't comment upon the quality of the vinyl as it will ship in September but based on the many vinyls I have bought already from them it should be exceptional.

13th Doctor Revealed

The internet is melting down with the news that the 13th Doctor will be Jodie Whittaker. The reveal of the first female Doctor is attracting lots of attention, with many saying it's about time whilst others are saying that it isn't staying true to the character.

Now I'm no SJW but I am actually looking forward to the new Doctor, female or not. The last series was one of the best for quite some time in my opinion and this was in large part due to the companion, Bill Potts (played by the superb Pearl Mackie). In the last few series many felt that the companions were playing too big a role and detracting from the Doctor. Whilst it is true that the Doctor has always had companions I agree with the sentiment that the companions seemed to have a had more prominent role in later series, often with a will they/ won't they romantic dynamic with the Doctor. With Bill being gay this dynamic was done away straight away and instead we had a fresh and vibrant series with a companion just wanting to have fun and see the universe. With a new female Doctor I wonder what relationship she will have with her companions and will it be another female or will the series writers shake things up and make it a male companion? Whatever they decide that must be a good thing for a beloved series that is on the up.

Clues have been abound for a while that the Doctor had previously been a girl and that in Gallifrey gender was/ is more fluid. In fact, the General in the episode the Day of the Doctor had been female for the first 10 incarnation but turned into a male in the 11th incarnation.

In the penultimate episode of the last series the Doctor talks to Bill:

DOCTOR: She was my first friend, always so brilliant, from the first day at the Academy. So fast, so funny. She was my man crush.

BILL: I'm sorry? 

DOCTOR: Yeah, I think she was a man back then. I'm fairly sure that I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.

BILL: So, the Time Lords, bit flexible on the whole man-woman thing, then, yeah? 

DOCTOR: We're the most civilised civilisation in the universe. We're billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes. 

So the clues were there and speaking as a bit of a sci-fi nerd, it would seem likely that if there were beings greater than us they may have done away with corporeal bodies and exist as pure energy, neither male nor female but both yet neither; lots of prominent sci-fi authors have considered this scenrio so why not Doctor Who? Also, speaking as the father of a young daughter, I look forward to seeing a female take the lead of such an iconic character. What do you think?