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OZ Comic Con

Once again it's been a while. My interests have shifted away from games a bit and more into comics and graphic novels. I got half a dozen games around Christmas, and I've finished Gears of War 3, and I'm still playing Demon's Souls. I've also had a few ideas for graphic novels, so I've been trying to do a bit of research on how to write them (I don't want to illustrate them, because I am horrible at drawing). As such, I went to my first Comic Con here in Adelaide over the weekend.

Despite going on my own as none of the friends who I thought might be interested were able to, it was still a great day. I saw Bill Farmer, who has played the voice of Goofy for the last 25 years, Sean Schemmel who plays the voice of Goku and various other Dragon Ball Z characters, and Debi whose last name I forget. She plays the voice of Jimmy Neutron. While this panel wasn't something I was particularly interested IN, it was still pretty interesting nonetheless. Dragonball Z fans seem like they can get pretty crazy...

I briefly saw Sean Astin, I didn't go to his panel, just saw the end of it. He was mainly talking about Lord of The Rings, though he did field a question about Toy Soldiers, and I'm keen to see that movie again now. I went to a panel for Matt Doran, who is not a major actor but has been in some big films. He was a regular quite some time ago on Home and Away, an Australian soap (as Damien for those who know it), he also played Mouse in The Matrix, been in Thin Red Line, and played a small role in Stars Wars 2. There were only about a dozen people in the audience, and I had to leave about halfway through to get a train... I felt like such a bastard having to leave halfway through with an audience like that.

The setup of the place was pretty good, though I don't have anything to compare it to (note to self : Buy ticket in advance next year so I don't have to line up for 45 minutes). There was a massive blister pack for want of a better term for Star Wars, so you could stand inside it and have your picture taken, as though you were an action figure hanging on a shelf for someone to buy. I had a brief nerd moment when I saw some original animation cels for He-Man, but decided against it. Cosplay was out in force, and I saw Batman, Robin, The Punisher, Thor, Captain America, Naruto, Ellen Ripley with an alien bursting from her chest Alien 3 style, various zombies, Wonder Woman, storm troopers, Mario, Link, Master Chief, a Minecraft person and a bunch of stuff I didn't recognise, in particular all the manga I'm not familiar with. It was also cool that some of the security were dressed up as SWAT.

I had a good talk with Dave DeVries, a long time Adelaidean author of comics and screenplays. I found this really useful, he was more than willing to give me his time and I appreciated that. He also threw in a comic of his that I was willing to pay for, so that was awesome. I think what I got from the majority of the panels is that a lot of people are interested in drawing, but not so much the writing side. As I want to learn the craft, one of the ways is to examine what I'm reading, and the best way for me to do that is to write about what I'm reading. So here goes for some stuff I've been reading lately.

NewUniversal – Warren Ellis

I've really enjoyed what I've read by Warren Ellis so far (The Authority & Planetary) so I checked to see what my local library had. I understand that this is like a 'remake' of a previous series with the same name. This collects the first 6 issues. Something called the White Event occurs, some sort of cosmic event. Select individuals seem to be imbued with superpowers after this event. Some sort of sentience is trying to integrate our universe into the NewUniversal structure, and those imbued with those superpowers are the tools required to help do so. Meanwhile, covert government agencies have implemented certain protocols for instances just like this... because they have happened before. It seems that the premise of the book may be survival, because the protocols implemented indicate that if superpowered beings are allowed to thrive, then Darwinism will dictate humans are no longer required.

The storytelling is well done. There is nothing terribly subtle but nothing beats you over the head either, and Ellis trusts the reader to be able to put everything together. Every page or two something else is revealed about the players involved, which keeps you wanting to turn the page. At the end of the last issue in this collection, the government has decided on their next course of action, and I'm interested in seeing how that pans out. The library doesn't have the next collection, but I'm happy to buy this collection of books.

Fell – Warren Ellis

A search of Warren Ellis also turned this up at the library, a detective noirish book. Detective Fell has just moved to Snowtown (which I expect is a fictional US town, it isn't the Adelaide one infamous for its murders). At first I wasn't loving this, but the further I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. It's certainly got a lot of quirk, and that is the charm of this book. What is exceptional is the dialogue. Out of context, lines like "He was an alcoholic son of a **** Satan's going to be humping him right in the bunghole for the next million years, you mark my words. I love Jesus." sound ridiculous, but in context of the whole story and alongside the art, it really works. It's not just the stuff that Detective Feel investigates, it's that the rest of the world is populated with weird characters, like the PD receptionist whose husband left her for the dog, and the coroner who eats a piece of tomato after it falls into a corpse. Once again, I'd love to see more just so I can see what other weird characters Ellis comes up with that cross paths with detective Fell.

I've realised I haven't really touched on the story itself. Snowtown is a hole. For reasons not yet made clear to us, Detective Fell has been transferred to Snowtown, the impression given is that something went down and he isn't welcome across the bridge (where that is is unknown, supposedly to imply that it could be the closest dank suburb to you).Corpses turn up dead on the banks of the river frequently, and many residents of Snowtown are cagey or dodgy. Fell is a good detective, and he doesn't want to let things slide like everyone else does in Snowtown. So it is about his struggle with that, and figuring out where he belongs in Snowtown. From mad bomb men to wine enemas and poop injections this book is a bit of a trip.

Batman : The Killing Joke – Alan Moore

Alan Moore is one of the most well known comic book writers (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell). I'll admit that I'm not that familiar with Batman when it comes to comics. Sure, I've seen Batman Begins and Dark Knight and loved them, but I don't know how far removed they are from the comic books they are based on. As is implied by the title, the main adversary in this story is The Joker. The book wastes no time getting into things. Batman goes to Arkham Asylum and sits opposite The Joker. It's an interesting attempt by Batman to confront The Joker, Batman has made an assessment, figures that if they keep doing what they are doing one day one of them will kill the other. He doesn't want it on his conscience that he didn't at least try and prevent that from happening. Turns out it isn't actually The Joker, but someone dressed as him, and The Joker has escaped.

The Joker is really the star of this book. We see some flashbacks into his past, which fill us in on what led to his damaged psyche up until the day contaminated water changed him forever. And he wants to prove that good men can become mad if they have a bad day, and Commissioner Gordon bears the brunt of this attempt. We are all just a bad day away from being mad according to the Joker. His dialogue as he tries to prove his point is well thought out and provides depth to his character. I won't give away the end, but it left me wondering exactly what Alan Moore was trying to tell us. But I think I like those open ended stories because it provokes thought.

Any comics or graphic novels that you guys are reading?

Keeping lists for books and movies

It's been a while. I think my last several blogs have started off with a similar sentence...

I went away to Vietnam in November, and since then I've not been on Gamespot so much. I'm almost up to date with reading blogs, but haven't really commented due to being a bit behind. I've rarely read any gaming news since then, and I used to check the daily updates every day.

I've been playing games, but a bit slower than usual. over Christmas and my birthday got 6 games; Gears of War 3, Demons Souls, Dark Souls, Dead Space 2, Skyrim, and Batman : Arkham City. Since then, I've finished GoW3, and all I've played since then is Demons Souls.

And I am freaking loving it. Been playing for about 35 hours and have defeated 6 bosses so far, though a couple of those I used some cheap tactics. Absolutely love this game. And I've heard Dark Souls is even better. But I'm in no hurry. At this rate these 6 games might last me til the end of the year, plus what I already had to play.

What I would like to find out from you fine people, is whether any of you utilise any electronic lists for keeping movies, TV shows, and books. Preferably apps for the iphone, but not entirely necessary. I've found something for movies and TV shows that seems to be decent, from memory I think it was imovielist. If anyone knows one for comic books/graphic novels that would also be really cool. And maybe even games! I just want to keep some lists of what I want to watch or see. If I don't record them when people tell me about them, then I am likely to forget.

So what games have you guys been playing that I probably haven't even heard about now that I am out of the loop a little?

Media Watch 3

It seems to be a while in between drinks these days. Either I can't think of much to write about, or I don't have time to research and write about topics. So I'll do an easy topic, stuff I've been reading playing or watching semi-recently. This includes a bit of a resurgence for me in graphic novels (sorry JBul).

Let's start with games. I hadn't played games on a console for a few weeks. I tried to figure out what the deal was, and any time I had an inkling to play a game, I thought about the game I last played and just couldn't be bothered. This is part of my intention to try and finish one game before I start another. In the end I decided that the reason I wasn't playing games was because I was trying to stick to this rule, but just didn't really want to play that game. That game was Mass Effect 2.

I can see that it is good in a sense, but it just really isn't dragging me in the same way the first one did. I'm not sure what the main difference is for me, but it just feels... clumsy for some reason. Oh, well. So I decided to put in Halo 3 : ODST. I loved Halo 3's campaign. After playing this for an hour or so, I felt much the same way as I did about Mass Effect 2. Nothing in particular stood out as bad. I just didn't feel any need to play it.

So the game that has actually held my interest that I've put many hours into, is Picross for the DS. If you like Sudoku or Hashi (Bridges) then this has a similar appeal. You are given a grid of varying sizes, and each row and column has a bunch of numbers. The numbers represent how many consecutive squares are filled in. If there is more than one number for a row or column, there has to be at least one space in the middle. So for example, if you are playing on a 5 by 5 grid and one of the rows has 2 2 next to it, the only way that can work is if the first two squares are filled, the third is empty, and the last two are filled. Once you've completed each row, the filled in squares make up a picture. That might sound complicated, but it's no more complicated than when you played your first Sudoku (actually, probably less so). If you don't have a DS, you can find free ones to do online.

Black Swan
This was a rollercoaster ride of a movie, and quite thought provoking. It got a lot of hype so most people probably know about, if for nothing more than a hot lesbian sex scene. While that is all well and good, the metaphor of the movie itself is stunningly portrayed. While Natalie Portmans character (I've forgotten her name) is the main lead in Swan Lake, a story about a black swan stealing the white swans (her twin) love and causing her to commit suicide, her character is herself tearing herself to pieces, acting out the role of the swans throughout the rest of the movie as well as on stage. It's a startlingly well portrayed story, with brief moments of fantasy that accentuate the theme. A well recommended watch.

Louis Theraux
I saw an advert for a documentary by this chap, called Lous Theraux and the Nazis. He met with Tom Metzner, a previous leader of the KKK and a well-known white supremacist. The documentary approach brings things to light, and while it leans towards being more tolerant, it still leaves a lot up to the viewer to make their own decisions. Especially interesting was when Tom visited a 'friend' to repair his TV (Tom's main job) who happened to be of questionable race (I think it was Peruvian), and Tom claimed to consider him a friend. He tried to retract the statement later when Louis tried to press him about the conflict and inconsistency with his views. A mother who was interviewed said that if her twin daughters, who were 11, had a black boyfriend, they would be disowned and she would never talk to them again. It was confronting stuff.

Perhaps more confronting for most people, was A Place For Paedophiles. I've already talked about paedophiles once before, and this certainly raised issues for and against what should happen to paedophiles who are or should be on the road to recovery. As a quick snapshot, 800 or so people are forceably sent to an institution, and this is after serving their sentence. They have to undergo a program to then actually be released into the population. To date, only 13 have been released. One member has been approved for release, but has been looking for housing for over a year. He has applied for over 1100, and they have all been rejected. When it was advertised in one area that housing was being sought, the property owner received threats, including rattlesnakes on his doorstep, as a warning to not accept his request. That is pretty intense. What I find most interesting is that they have already served their sentence in jail, but may then be held indefinitely for a crime that they could commit. On that basis, why doesn't everyone committed of a crime get a life sentence just in case they were going to do it again? There is a lot more to ponder here, and this is one of those topics that I might revisit. Next on the Louis Theraux checklist which I've recorded but not yet watched is to do with brothels. I expect this to be the least interesting of those I've seen so far, but don't expect it to be dull either.

True Blood Season 4
It's been a while since I watched season 3 of True Blood. Megan and I soaked up this season in about a week. I don't think it's really as strong as the previous seasons, but still good nonetheless. I don't want to raise any spoilers for anyone, so I will keep things vague. As it is a year since the end of the last season, certain shifts in power prove interesting. Some of the character development seemed a bit forced though. I'm guessing that a lot of actors contracts were up, were asking for too much money or just didn't want to do Season 5, because a lot of people die towards the end of this season, but a number of those deaths also set up interesting situations for the next season, like what is going to happen with Sooki's love life (I'm assuming her final act will still mean she will end up in the werewolf's arms though). A number of old characters appeared and seem set to wreak some havoc. Jason's genitals gets him in trouble in a few different ways in this season, but I think what happens between him and Hoight seems like something that legitimately happens to mates and breaks friendships. I must say though, I miss Jason playing a complete imbecile, he is so much more entertaining. I don't know the actors names, but those who played Marni and Lafayette really showed they are great actors in this season.

After borrowing The Authority from someone, I've been feeling like getting back into graphic novels. The only problem is, they are expensive. So, I found out that my library carries a decent selection, which is awesome. So I've been scouring top 100 lists and whatnot, and they seem to have a lot of it.

Venom : Dark Origins
I've always been a Venom fan, so I thought I would start with a Venom tale. While it does cover the 'origin' as far as how Eddie Brock gets to bond with the alien symbiote that is effectively his suit, the first couple of issues (this is a collection of 5 comics) really focus on who Eddie is and what has made him the man he is. Eddie has a jaded view of the world. He wants people to think highly of him, and he is quite deceptive about getting that recognition. He steals a girls pom poms in high school so he can say he found them. He says he lives somwhere he doesn't so he can walk a girl home. Thugs attack them and Spiderman comes to their rescue. The girl who had been knocked down asked Eddie how he managed to beat them all, and he took the credit rather than give it to Spiderman. The art is very exaggerated, and works well. When it comes to the full Venom suit, it is more extreme than I've seen it; it's changed a lot since the last time I read a Venom comic which is from over a decade ago, with massive bulk and a more angular look. The story covers Eddie Brocks fall from grace in the media world, which he blames on Spiderman (I won't go into why). Once him and the suit bond (and this used to be Spidermans suit before he realised it was an alien) they share a common enemy, as the symbiote feels rejected by Spiderman. It's a retelling of the original story (which I haven't read so can't compare) so it ends up the same, with Venom eventually beaten and stored safely by the Fantastic 4 (until he inevtiably escapes at some time in the future of course so Marvel can release a whole bunch more stories). I wouldn't say I was amazed but it was decent.

Thunderbolts : Caged Angels
I'm still getting used to the more recent events in the Marvel Universe. One of the main ones is the Civil War, which I haven't read yet. Basically a Superpower Registration Act gets passed where it becomes law to have your true identity known if you have superpowers, and heroes fall down on both sides of the law. As I understand it, the Thunderbolts after this event are mostly made up of reformed villains who are secretly employed by the government to hunt down those who don't register. Jumping in at this point is a little bit of a trial by fire since I don't know the full details of those events, or the history of this series. Nevertheless, the premise sounds solid. Given that the members are generally reformed villains, they seem to be on the verge of tearing themselves apart at times (and sometimes do). Amongst the team themselves there is a jostling for power and manipulation. Meanwhile, some telepaths have allowed themselves to become captured by the team, and then use their abilities to manipulate them into attacking each other. I also discovered that a character from my old collecting days, Speedball, shows up as Penance in this series. Speedball always seemed really goofy in the New Warriors, and as I understand he accidentally killed a whole bunch of people and has since become Penance. I think this has shown that comics have come a long way in the last decade in making characters more multi-faceted and not so fantastical, with slightly more grounding in reality, and a little gritty.

I'll leave it at that for now, I've read a few more, and not just Marvel, and there are some pretty decent ones, but I don't want to make this too long.

Had any games that you felt you were good but still just couldn't play for one reason or another?

Any graphic novels or trade paper backs that you've read that you love?

JBul, why are comics yucky?

Random Update Number Something

Wow. It's been a while. I've been lurking around reading your blogs but haven't had a lot to say. Random updates.

I got an iphone, and this is the first internet enabled phone I've had. I don't know how I can ever go back. I've been thinking about getting some podcasts and I've tried a few (across various genres). Giant Bombcast seems decent as the guys seem to have a bit of fun and is about dudes playing games and having a chat as opposed to straight up reviews and news. I haven't really been listening to metal much lately, and I managed to find what could be the worst metal podcast. The presenters kept talking over the music comparing it to other bands, or citing their influences, or turning it off if it wasn't working for them. I think I want something more mainstream with more well known established stuff, not people ragging on demos. There is plenty out there... but I don't really know where to start. Do you listen to any podcasts? Anything that you think might be cool, doesn't have to be about games. I probably should listen to some news. The worst I can do is not download it :)

Games wise, I haven't really played a lot. I haven't played too much Mass Effect 2, which is the last game I was playing. I also played and finished Dead Nation which is a pretty decent dual-stick shooter. I'm hoping there is a sequel. My most played game recently is Picross for the DS. Cost me $10, and I've got so much value out of this game. For those that like puzzle games, it has a similar appeal to Sudoku or Hashi, so if you like those puzzles this will probably appeal to you. I really need to get back in to playing my other console games that have been on the back burner.

After seeing it in a shop for a while, I purchased a miniatures game, Heroscape. I had been contemplating a lot, and I said to Megan that I am going to keep going in to the shop until I buy it, so I may as well just bite the bullet and do it. I've only played a couple of games but I'm quite enjoying it. It has hexes so you can build the maps and they stack, so you can create elevations, and there are different types of terrain. Miniatures games always seem to have had a barrier of entry, and this seems much more accessible. The downside is that it also isn't as accessible because it turns out it has been discontinued at the moment, so some of the sets are hard to get or commanding a premium on the second hand market. I expect I will slowly build up my collection, and hold out hope that it gets reprinted because I think it still has quite a following.

I've also finished my first read through of 1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die. Because my computer is super slow, I've been reading a few entries while it is loading programs. I was intending to play through some of the early games to see how they hold up, but haven't had the opportunity to lately. There are a bunch that I've played, and I need to go back and check out the iphone games in particular (weirdly I haven't bought any games for it yet, and I used to buy them on Megans phone). Where other books in this series talk about their cIassics, there is a fair bit of "It's not perfect" statements in this book. There are plenty of entries that highlight the shortcomings of those games, or qualifying a positive with its limitations. As half the book is from 2000 onwards, thus recent stuff, I'm wondering how many of those entries in the last half of the book will be replaced in a new edition a few years down the line. Or will some of the older stuff suffer because it has truly become archaic? I might be interested enough to buy a new version in a few years, or at least find the list online to compare.

So quick blog, maybe I will expand on some of this stuff in their own right later.

So, what podcasts do you listen to?

Media Watch the 2nd

I've just moved in to a new place and don't have internet. I't s been a while since I've blogged, and that is part of the reason. So I thought I'd follow up something I did a while ago, and write about some of the media I've been consuming lately.

The Authority
My girlfriends sisters boyfriend (that sounds confusing) lent me the first 2 books of the Authority, a comic book series that started in 1999. It follows on from the dissolution of another series or group whose name escapes me at the moment. It was published by Wildstorm comics who I had not heard of. Each book comprises 8 comics, and there were two story arcs in each book. What was really refreshing is that this is a serious look at superheroes. There is plenty of action and violence, but not just for the sake of it. The Authority assert themselves as being watchers over the Earth, outside of any normal government or United Nations authority. Previously there had been agencies in developed countries to deal with super threats, but these had been scaled back because they were too costly to run. While not sanctioned in any way, there is a British agency that does share information with The Authority from time to time.

The stories are serious in nature, and the usual flippant quips in comic books are replaced with more realistic banter; the sort that you would have with your mates if you were a superhero. The characters are all dealt with maturely. Two of the characters are gay lovers, and this is never shoved in your face and it actually took me a while to realise this was the case; there was no evidence of a 'look at us! We are writing a comic that has gays in it!' type of attitude. While the main threats are other super powered foes, The Authority does not deal just with them. In one part, they intervene with an asian dictator who was mass slaughtering the populace. The President of the United States issues a warning to The Authority, and their response is that they will protect the Earth from various other threats, but they need to make sure the Earth is worth protecting. If that means handling domestic threats that other governments won't handle, then that is what they will do.

What is perhaps most interesting is the off the wall setting and abilities. There is nothing quite so simple as 'shoots fireballs' or 'heals quickly' here. Jenny Sparks is 'The Spirit of the 20th Century'. I don't even know what that means exactly (sure, she can also generate lightning too). Jack Hawksmoor is 'God of Cities'. Cities speak to him. When they are hurting, they let him know. The Doctor is like a shaman for the entire Earth, with knowledge from his predecessors passed down in his memories, or dreams. Sometimes he might just turn his enemies into trees, or whatever his odd mind comes up with at the time. The others are just as interesting. And lets not forget The Carrier. The Carrer is a shiftship that they discovered that is 50 miles wide. It orbits the Earth in a temporal sort of reality, and can shift in various ways, sometimes into 'The Bleed' or various other sorts of realities. Members of the Authority can also create doors through the carrier to anywhere on Earth. Even though they don't fully comprehend the Carrier and all of its abilities, it is the one place they can be safe from retribution, or intervention, from foes or governemment agencies. I'm sure there is plenty more potential for story development based on learning new things about the Carrier in the future.

This is probably one of the better, actually probably best, superhero graphic novels I've read. Admittedly I haven't read many lately, doing most of my collecting from the mid to late 90's. But if you are interested in graphic novels, I highly recommend checking this out.

Out of the Vortex
In the last one of these, I reviewed the 'Comics Greatest World' series. This was the launching of a new universe of superheroes. The series ended with the Vortex character coming out of a Vortex, which then led straight in to this 12 part series. We'll call him Vortex for the sake of this synopsis (they don't always know what to call him in the series either). When the vortex itself was created when an atom bomb was tested in the Cinnabar Flats, where Vortex was experimenting, it threw out lots of energy that created most of the superheroes that comprise Comics Greatest World and sucked him in to the vortex. Ever since it has been an army installation around the vortex to study it. When Vortex emerges half a century later, he is met mainly with violence from the humans. He takes back control of his facililty and chooses a human as a liasion.

His emergence attracts his enemies, the Septenarius (the Seekers who were searching for the Heretic during Comics Greatest World are part of the Septenarius). They consider him a destroyer of worlds, the heretic, and have come to destroy him. However his power is greater than theirs as individuals. While the story isn't bad, it feels a little shallow after having just read the Authority. It also feels padded, with extra characters and fights that didn't really seem necessary, although some of them do you give you slightly more insight to the characters. Authorities aren't sure who to trust. With Vortex claiming he is here to defend against the Septenarius, the army believes that with Vortex gone, the Septenarius also would not come. With Vortex near breaking point due to human violence around him, he eventually leaves, stating that when the Septenarius come, it is now up to Earth to defend itself... and that's how it ends. It seems a bit abrupt. Though there is are a couple of pages teaser where another character comes from the vortex, asking 'Where is Zolot the Deconstructionist?' I don't think I ever found out who this character or Zolot were... I will have to check my collection to see if I have the followups.

So not bad overall, but I felt that it could have been condensed down to maybe 6 issues and making it more consise without compromising the story.

Ratchet & Clank : Crack In Time
Another great entry in the series. Ratchet gets back to a pretty full arsenal of gear, and I love the way that this series has evolved. Most of the weapons from the original have been replaced with something different that still functions strategically similar to it's previous counterpart, but different enough to make them fresh, plus a few oddities. For example, Swarms are replaced with Tesla Spikes, and the Whirlwind is replaced with the Dynamo of Doom. The Rift Inducer is a bit of a riot, opening a rift in space where tentacles come out and attack your foes.

The main difference is that in between worlds that you can explore as Ratchet, there are segments that you play as Clank, and these involve time manipulation. It begins as simple time grenades that you throw at spinning platforms to slow them down enough for you to walk on, but there are also 'time locks' that need to be solved, and these are devious but clever puzzles that are a joy to solve. There might be a pad that you need to stand on to open the door, but how can you get through the door if it closes as soon as you step off the pad? By having multiple Clanks of course! Each of these rooms has two or more time pads. Stand on a pad, start the recording, head to where you need to go, then stop the recording. Once you start recording on a subsequent pad, the first recording will replay, allowing it to stand on the pad while you exit through the door. The intricacy of these quickly ramps ups, with chambers that need to be opened before pads can be stepped on, elevators that go up or down based on standing on a button, and platforms that only appear while a button is stepped on. Some require a bit of forward thinking, and before long, you will need to re-record previous versions of yourself as new options open up. The challenges after you finish the game are quite rewarding to play through as well, requiring split second timing to complete, as you can only record for 60 seconds.

Dead Nation
I was already intending to buy this, but then I got it free as part of the welcome back package. I've only played an hour or so of co-op with a mate, and I am enjoying it. I like me some dual shooter action. You have a flashlight that lights up the way, and the game is supposed to be dark and creepy, but occassionally it can mean that a zombie creeps up on you. Playing on regular difficulty, and it looks like it could get tough as we died a few times. You can purchase weapons, but outside of your standard rifle, they all have limited ammo. You can buy upgrades for weapons, as well as stock up on ammo at checkpoints. You can shoot cars to set them alight, setting off their alarms and attracting zombies before they explode, but then you deny yourself the chance to steal the cash that was in the boot. Not sure why everyone left cash in the boot of their car during a zombie apocalypse, but I'm not complaining... I've been itching to play a bit more, but would prefer to keep going with the co-op when my mate comes around rather than start a single player.

Call of Duty : Black Ops
One of the guys at work has two Xboxs and two copies, so I went round his place to give this a go with his clan. Bear in mind that I don't have Xbox Live and have never played a shooter online for any length of time. Or played the Black Ops campaign. But I did enjoy myself. I had a hard day helping her parents move, so the next day Megan bought me a copy. So then I played through the campaign. Usually I play these sorts of games on Regular difficulty, but I figured should I begin playing online I would need better skills, so I put it up to Hardened. That was pretty tough, (especially a couple of the Vietnam levels) but I got through it. I don't have my own internet yet [edit : have it now that I'm posting this], but I did play again around his place, and I got nicely trounced. Once I get the internet back up and running, I might finally join Xbox Live after owning an Xbox for over 5 years. Sorry JBul, this means I may become a douche.

Mass Effect 2
I'm not too far into this, but so far, I don't seem terribly impressed. And I loved the first one, I played through it twice to go through as a paragon and renegade. So far it just seems a little flat, and also feels a bit more cumbersome. But by the same token I can't really say why. The fact that I get a mission report kills the immersion too. I've just gone to meet Aria and exploring just seems plodding. Does it get better than this?

There are a few other games, and I've watched a few movies but nothing I care to write about. Anyway, now I've got internet back, it's time to catch up on news and whatnot.

L. Ron Hubbard

I guess somewhere up to 14 years ago, my mother decided to purchase me some books (as that is the when the last book was released). They were the Mission Earth series of books, written by L. Ron Hubbard. I had no idea who he was back then, and I'm assuming neither did my mother. They were all in nice hard cover, sounded like decent science fiction and they were only $4 each on special. Only thing is, I am missing book number 4 of this dekalogy (collection of 10). So I've never attempted to read the series. It's been sitting on a bookshelf basically forever.

For those that don't know, L. Ron Hubbard is the founder of Scientology.

When Megan moved in with me some 6 months ago, she looked at those books sitting in the bookshelf, turned to me and gave me a funny look. "What are those doing there?" I wondered what she was talking about. I explained that I just hadn't read them. I had heard by this time that L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of Scientology, but it meant little to me. I didn't know that much about Scientology (I actually decided to read the wikipedia article before reading this), and to me these were just science fiction books. "He's bloody weird. He actually believes all that stuff he's written. To him, all that is real." The conversation didn't last long, but she made it clear she is actually a little uncomfortable having them in the house, which I do find interesting given that she is a very open minded person.

So, last week, I decided to make the effort to actually read these books and find out whether I want to keep them, or track down the fourth book, or chuck them out to make Megan happy. So far, I'm about 50 pages into the first book, and I have to say I am intrigued by the writing styIe It seems to have a sort of vibrancy, and it is written in first person as someones account of the events who often gets excited at the retelling. When it comes to fantasy/sci-fi I'm used to it written from a casual third persons perspective. I wouldn't say I'm enthralled yet, but I do want to keep reading. So far, this is just a sci-fi novel and I don't feel the need to pay, I mean donate, to the Church of Scientology.

But it begs the question for me, do the actions or beliefs of the author have anything to do with a readers enjoyment of the book? If I asked you to read an L. Ron Hubbard book, what would your response be? What if you found out that George Lucas believed that the Star Wars canon actually exists out there somewhere; would you suddenly not enjoy Star Wars? What if Tolkien believed that Middle Earth really existed on an alternate plane to our own; would the books or movies become less valid entertainment from someone who doesn't believe? What if people believed that the stories in the bible actually existed? (Sorry, had to go there).

Based on what I've just read about Scientology, this 'religion' does seem a little bit dodgy. But even if this fiction is fact to the author, it is just interesting fiction to me, and that is all I'm asking for.

Megan is away this week, coming back on Friday. So I'm intending to put up 'I Love L. Ron Hubbard' posters, a note saying I'm leaving her if she won't come and 'audit' with me, and whatever I, or you, can think of. I'm open to ideas for this prank :) When I get home and she looks at me funny, I'll just say "Tom Cruise would understand..."


This was just a random thought. A couple of days ago I was cleaning up and rearranging some books. I wondered about how many I have, and whether some of them I will read again, but I don't want to throw any away for those times when I might want to read them again. I know it will never happen, but wouldn't it be cool if you could send a physical copy of the book to the publisher, and they would let you download a digital copy, maybe for a small price? If they included the original cover art and maybe any alternate art for any later printings that would be awesome. Of course, it won't happen. If you want a digital copy they will make you pay for the new download (which I haven't looked into but I suspect they are much cheaper than printed books). It would tidy up the house some more.

Not sure how I feel about reading books on my computer though. Does anyone have any e-book readers? I'm a bit concerned about a future where everything I do is in front of a screen (I do too much of it now). As I understand it, the Kindle is not backlit and actually has a reading lamp so it is more passive light. Does anyone have any thoughts on e-book readers or services? It might be a future I should start thinking about instead of printed books.

My Media This Week

I thought I'd try something different to what I normally do. I know some other people do some of these. Seeing as I've had the week off, I've been able to partake in a bit more media; movies, books, games and TV, and thought I'd write some quick synopses on them. Perhaps I could make this a monthly thing. Let me know what you think. I've written this over several days, so instead of changing what I had already written, I just added extra thoughts as an edit.


Drawn Together
This is one of the most offensive and vulgar shows ever... and I love it. It is an animated show, and the premise is similar to Big Brother; a collection of cartoon characters have been 'Drawn Together' to be filmed on camera 24/7. These include Xandir, the gay video game hero out to save his girlfriend, Ling-Ling, a Japanese battle monster ala Pokemon, Foxxy Love, a scantily clad black woman from a music group (ala Josie & The Pusscats and my favourite Captain Hero, a necrophiliac closet gay who has a very perverted sense of his place in the world. Among others of course. The show pushes boundaries like no other, whether it is sexism, racism, or just plain old vulgarity. There are plenty of pop culture references, and the breaking of the fourth wall (and maybe the floor and ceiling too). Not to mention the plain ridiculousness of the stories. A recent episode had Toot (a black and white Betty Boop type who is now fat and ugly) mistaken for a talking cow and become a sacred Indian icon so she could have sex with billions of men, and then once discovered was chased by Indian women with their men on thier backs, and firing lasers from the dots on their foreheads. So, yeah. If you are easily offended, stay away! If it sounds like it might interest you, then watch the first episode. You will know instantly whether you love it or hate it. There are no illusions here.

Mad Men
I've just started watching this, and have only seen two episodes. I'm still not entirely sold on it yet, but I've been told it does get better, and that you build up a love/hate relationship with the characters. Set in the 50's and based an advertisement execs of the time, it is brimming with sexism from the time, all the more offensive because it is probably how it was back in the day. Where sexist remarks in the aforementioned Drawn Together are for comedy shock value, their delivery here is to show the true sexist thoughts of those that lived in the time, and not just the men. The women are also portrayed as those who 'know their place' and what is expected of them. I'm not sure if it is the main crux of the entire season or future seasons, but thus far it has focused on cigarette advertising, where health benefits could no longer be used as marketing due to research, and how advertisers were dealing with this change. The interesting part, and perhaps why I wasn't so sure about the series, is that I haven't really found a character that I really like. Most of them are douches. But I think that is part of the series allure. Speaking to someone last night who loves the show, they said you will learn to love and hate them. I will give it at least a few more episodes before I give up on this one.

UPDATE : I've since watched a couple more episodes of this, and I just can't quite get into it. I came home today and Megan had watched a couple more episodes on top of that (after I told her I wasn't interested any more) and she said she was loving it. But I'll still give it a miss.

Biggest Loser Families
I never thought I would care for this show, but Megan has got me into it. It's coming in to the end stretch now (this is the Australian version by the way), and it is amazing when they do the weigh-ins the difference ten weeks has made, with losses of over 50kg in some cases. I look at some of the challenges they do, and I cringe. They all weigh more than I do but I can't see myself doing some of what they do. As well as losing weight, they are becoming quite strong athletes as well.


Valkyria Chronicles
I think I finished with this as of today. Playing through the game a second time in an attempt to get an 'A' ranking on the levels is a different experience. To get an 'A' ranking you need to complete the level in as few turns as possible. The first time you play a level, you need to be careful, figure out where the enemies are and set up reasonable defenses. Because you are better equipped and leveled up the second time around, the first several levels are a breeze to waltz through, though if you try and run your scouts up against shock troopers you may still be in trouble, so leveling and upgrading weapons doesn't break the inherent differences of the cIasses. You play them entirely different too, because you only need to complete the one (sometimes multiple) objective; if you leave enemies behind you that could slaughter you the following turn it doesn't matter, or if most of your team die it doesn't matter, because they will be revived for the next battle. Interestingly, the more scripted battles that are perhaps the funner ones the first time around fare worse the second time around, because you just have to wait for stuff to happen. And I think Megan might be getting sick of me saying "VEG-TA-BALLS!" whenever we eat (anyone who has played the game with Largo for a period of time will know what I'm talking about).

I think there were three battles that I didn't get an 'A' ranking on, but I finished it on my second playthrough and then started a new clear data save... which means that the story resets. I could load an older save that is closer to the end of the game to replay those levels for their 'A' rank, but I don't think it is worth it. I don't think it unlocks any other guns or other benefits. For anyone who has played it and hasn't finished it twice, there is an epilogue after the second playthrough. Just video, not an extra level. So you could look it up on youtube I suppose if you are done with the actual gameplay.

Ratchet & Clank : Quest For Booty
I loved Tools of Destruction, so I was keen to get back in to this game. It is still as pretty as the previous version. There is a new grabbing maneouvre with the Omniwrench, but I'm not sure I really like the addition. Basically it is used like a lasso to latch on to and extend bridges, or to tilt platforms. I think what puts me off most is that it takes two buttons. I know that sounds whiny, but I've only played a couple of levels so far, and it seems to be getting a bit of use, so having it mapped to a single button would have made more sense. After a first level which gives you a few of the weapons from the first game, it strips you of them shortly thereafter and I'm now gunless which is slightly annoying. I've done one 'on rails' section where you jump from rail to rail, and I found it hard to figure it out and died a number of times, I don't remember the visuals getting in the way this much last time, or falling off a rail if you don't land squarely on it after swinging. Still I expect I will warm up to it pretty quickly.

UPDATE : I finished it, as it really isn't that long. I knew it was more like an expansion pack, but I reckon it was only about 4 hours tops. So just when I was getting into the swing of things, it rips it out from under you. But in true Ratchet & Clank form, it makes fun of it with the ending sequence. It seems a bit more combat heavy this time, though it throws a couple of other things in to the mix. You are able to pick up a few objects with your wrench, and probably the most inventive addition are light grubs which you need to pick up and carry around or throw in some dark caves to clear out bat-type things that are afraid of the light. If you don't they knock you off of high perches. I don't think it was quite as good as Tools of Destruction (it was missing some features like upgrading your weapons, though I think when it gave you back a selection of your weapons it gives you fully souped up ones anyway) and I think Crack In Time is going to be better for taking a different gameplay track than Quest For Booty.

Dungeon Hunter : Alliance
I've been playing this co-op around a mates house. Much as I enjoy these games, I just haven't really played any for quite a while. Probably Marvel : Ultimate Alliance was the last. While this is a downloadable title, it is still quite playable and engrossing. I've gone the mage, and I'm still toying around with how I want my build to work. I'm tending to play the long range, with a long range splash damage spell to complement my staff, but I've also got a freeze aura that damages and slows anyone who gets close to me, while my friend lays into them with the warrior cIass A quite effective combination is to freeze them, use my shock damage which reduces their armour, and then both of them wail on whats left. My character is weak though and can't wear any decent armour, so now that we are getting a bit into it, my character dies pretty quickly if he gets too close or surrounded. Furthermore whenever I'm firing my staff (regular weapon) I have to stand still. This can be problematic in boss battles where some of them simply move fast and are difficult or impossible to avoid, necessitating quaffing down healing potions like there is no tomorrow. Having to keep drinking healing potions feels like a bit of a cop out to me. Still, I enjoy this game a lot, and if we ever get truly stuck then we can just wander around and level up our dudes some.

There are probably better games out there of its ilk, and I should probably play those. Like Diablo!


It's taken a while for me to watch this film. At least I think I watched it. Maybe I was dreaming? I found it quite enjoyable. From the trailers I knew it must be trippy, but I didn't understand that it was about hijacking dreams until I watched it. I thought it was quite clever, though I suspect if I thought about it long enough I'd find some holes, but I don't really want to find them. I'm happy to suspend belief. The way all the dreams simply tie together was quite amazing. I knew that despite having a well written story, that they would just have to go and throw a twist in, though it was really a cliffhanger rather than a twist ending, leaving you wondering. I won't explain any more as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. If you haven't seen it, I recommend watching this film.

The Lookout
Probably a lesser known film, this stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Chris, a man who went through a tragic accident, killing two of his friends and giving him a mental disability. He can't remember things, or sequence them very well, and needs notes around his house or writing things in his notepad to remember. He lives with a blind friend, Lewis, played by Jeff Daniels. While blind, he is pretty self-sufficient, and is there to help Chris and make sure no one takes advantage of him. Chris works as a cleaner in a small town bank, and he becomes the target of a group of local thugs who want to rob the bank. The leader plays to Chris insecurities, and Chris can't help but think it is a good idea. To the outsider watching, it is obvious that Chris is being set up to take the fall, but something goes wrong during the heist. The plot isn't overly convoluted compared to similar movies, and it is all the better for it. A recommended watch.

Street Kings
I'd seen this before, but Megan hadn't seen it. For those that haven't, it shares some similiarities with Training Day. Keanue Reeves plays a cop who is part of a squad that plays by their own rules. He is willing to do what it takes to get the job done; shoot first and plant drugs if the situation calls for it, to make sure it gets the bad guys out of the neighbourhood. Things turn sour when Internal Affairs start looking in to him, as one of his ex partners has snitched on him. But all isn't as it seems; when he goes to confront his accuser against his captains orders, he witnesses him being gunned down, and the web of deceit gets thicker as people around him appear to be covering his back. A solid film.


Shards of a Broken Crown - Raymond E. Feist
Feist is one of my favourite authors. I've been writing fantasy since my teens really, but it wasn't until I read Feist that I realised how terrible everything I had written truly was, and this gave me something to shoot for. I've recently gone back to read the majority of his books, and this is the fourth and final book in the SerpentWar Saga. Two of the elements I enjoy most about Feists writing are the mortality of the characters, and the division between the magical/supernatural and the regular population. Throughout his books main characters die, unlike some fantasy books where all the heroes survive without a scratch on them. It creates a sense of continuity; that life does still go on without them. The first book set in this world by Feist, Magician, focuses a reasonable amount on the magician Pug, and his boyhood friend Tomas who rises in power due to donning some magical armour left behind by an old race, and they still exist are integral to this story, but I enjoy how there are two relatively separate worlds; the wars fought by mortal men, and those that are pursued by the likes of Pug and Tomas. The conflicts of men are usually spurred on by dark forces more than a simple greedy ruler, but the more magically minded do not often get involved until those sources are revealed, as the general running of the Kingdom are of little concern to them. There are some great struggles, either internally or between characters. Pug often clashes with Prince Patrick; Pug is an honorary Duke of the Kingdom, and Patrick views him like a weapon that he can unleash, something that Pug certainly does not appreciate. Dash also fights an internal struggle, being the son of the Duke of Krondor, as to whether he wishes to serve the Crown, something that he has never been asked whether he wants to do, simply being born into service.

It's the last book I've read of Feists before I stopped reading for a few years. I own the first book of the next series, Talon of The Silverhawk, but I haven't read it yet. I will read a few other books first.

Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
I've never read this book. As a semi-geek this is somewhat surprising. I have watched the film though, which I did enjoy. I smashed this in a couple of days beause it is so short. What a ridiculous and entertaining book. It is a real page turner, because I always wanted to not only find out what astonishing thing would happen next, but also to find out how it would be delivered or explained. Douglas Adams mastery of the word is amazing. Probably the best character of all is Marvin, the depressed robot, who mopes around and doesn't want anyone to talk to him, and complains about anything and everything. I don't even know how to really explain this book, but I highly recommend it. It does end a bit abruptly, but I suspect that has something to do with this being adapted from a radio series, and I think the followup is Restauraunt at the End Of The World, which is hinted at at the end of the book. Makes me want to watch the movie again, and see if his other written works hold up as well as this.

The Cure For Death By Lightning - Gail Anderson-Dargatz
I asked Megan to suggest a book to me, and this is something she picked up while backpacking overseas. Normally she says you are supposed to swap books when you go to different hostels, but she loved this so much that she had to keep it. I'm five chapters in, and thus far I don't know if it is really my thing, but that is part of why I had Megan suggest a book for me, to break out of what I would normally read. It is a drama set in America in the 50's, and there are a lot of references to after the war, such as rationing of certain goods. It is set on a farmstead, and focuses on a 15 year old girl. It seems all the characters have flaws, her dad in particular who has some sort of head trauma, and gets all angry at some visitors, but then often forgets about it. The whole setting seems a bit morose at the moment, no-one seems to be happy about anything, and the girl has just been asked to bury some cats that her dad has drowned like it is some regular chore, unbeknownst to him that she was trying to save them from that fate. I couldn't say I'm really enjoying it so far, but I am going to stick with it.

Aliens : Sacrifice

Comics Greatest World

See my first post below for Aliens : Sacrifice and Comics Greatest World. I went over the character limit, so perhaps this one is a bit long!

Holiday Time!

I decided at the last minute to take some holidays this week. I'm only supposed to technically accrue a certain amount and I'm pretty sure I'm up to or probably over the limit because I haven't taken a lot of leave in the last couple of years I've been working at my current job. I've been thinking about all this awesome stuff I should do or catch up.... but it doesn't seem like a week is anywhere near enough time to do everything. The three major things I thought I would do (on top of some general cleanup and gardening) are;

1. Write my book.
2. Play games.
3. Read.

I've been writing a fantasy novel for years, but it I'm still in the early stages, and I need to get myself out of it. I find it difficult to write when I've been out of it for a while. So this week, my intention is to spend 3 hours a day. I'm dedicating a block of time, and this is my 'work' this week. During that block of time, I am not allowing myself to do anything else. There is no giving up if I come across some sort of roadblock. I'm sort of building my world in tandem with the writing itself (though I've been focusing on the world building more lately), so if I get stuck on one or the other, I can always switch, or do some research (that still counts). The goal is that if I stick with this for at least 4 days (given that Jebus died for our sins and whatnot and there are some family affairs over the weekend) then if I can dedicate one day a week to when I go back to work it will be much easier to get in the zone.

I bought Ratchet & Clank Future : A Crack In Time a few weeks ago for $30, as well as Rock Band Beatles for $10 and Rock Band AC/DC for $19. It was the first time I'd seen Crack In Time cheap, and I have been holding off playing Quest For Booty until I had Crack In Time because I thought Crack In Time was the second one... turns out Quest For Booty was the second one. So I expect I will play that this week. I couldn't help myself and walked past an EB games, and bough Halo ODST and Bioshock 2 on a 2 for 1 deal, paid $48. I know Bioshock 2 isn't meant to be as good as the first, but I'm guessing I will still enjoy it.

So I'm figuring I would catch up on my backlog. I counted and I have more games than I expected... I don't think I will make it through 16 this week! I'm still playing Valkyria Chronicles which is awesome. I've finished it once, now I'm replaying for an A rank on all the levels and to max out my team. Replaying games, especially immediately, is a rarity for me, so take that as strong recommendation. So still left I've got...

Xbox 360
Splinter Cell Double Agent
Lego Batman
Mass Effect 2
X-Men Origins : Wolverine
Lego Indiana Jones
Halo 3 ODST
Bioshock 2

Legend of Zelda Windwaker
A Boy & His Blob
Pikmin 2

Ratchet & Clank Quest For Booty
Ratchet & Clank Future : Crack In Time
Aliens vs Predator
Killzone 2

I'm thinking that once I finish Valkyria Chronicles, which I expect may be today, I will play Ratchet & Clank Quest For Booty, Aliens vs Predator and Madworld... after that I'm not so sure. I might save Mass Effect 2 for when Megan is home. She doesn't play games, but she enjoys watching sometimes, and I'm sure that is one she will enjoy watching for the story.

I'm also just about finished the last book of the SerpentWar Saga from Raymond E. Feist. I picked up 5 books from Megans parents as they were cleaning out their library. Among them were some cIassics I have never read, Dune and Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (I know, I know). The other was a Feist/Wurts collaboration which I also haven't read, and the other 2 were about old england which will help me with my research for some basis in reality for my writing. Plus I've been wanting to read a few graphic novels or comics to feel them out a bit more, so I will probably break out a couple of those this week.

Seriously, only a week to do all this stuff?

1001 Video Games : Part 2

Here we are for another round of older games. So this lot takes me from 1981 where we left off last time, up to 1983 (though there are still a handful from 1983 to play). If you've played any or disagree with any of my admittedly quick assessments, sound off!

Qix - I remember playing a clone of this on the Amiga. Imagine an empty field bounded on all four sides. The object is to move your cursor from anywhere around that border, to rejoin the border somewhere else, and claim a portion of the board. The catch? The 'Qix' that moves randomly within those borders. If it touches your line before you complete a pass, you die. Also to complicate matters are sparks that wander around the border, or along your line if you stop, meaing you can't wait forever to make your move. Also interesting is the addition of being able to move slow or fast. Moving slowly means more chance of getting hit, but also doubles your score. If you've never tried such a game, I recommend giving it a go. It wasn't enough to keep me interested for long, but the main mechanics still hold up well.

Scramble - Another shooter that didn't hold my interest for too long. Still, it's probably among the better ones that I've played amongst these older titles.

Stargate - Aka Defender 2. I found this much more playable than the original, it seems to have slowed down just a little bit, but it's enough to make a huge difference to the playability for me. I think the version I played had funky sound problems, otherwise this was a terrible sounding game. Once again, even though this is an improvement over its predecessor, it still didn't hold my interest for more than one play.

Venture - I thought this was one I might actually enjoy. But I was wrong. Enemies just seem to move too fast and randomly to avoid. I gave it several goes just in case I needed to get back into the 'old school' groove, but I never found it, and decided to give up before I got frustrated.
Ms Pacman - I gave this one play. Basically just a slightly modified Pacman, still playable, but not enough to hold my interest for more than one play. Lots of people raved about the latest iteration, so they probably add more intricacies that I could enjoy more.

Gorf - Gorf managed to get a second play. A shoot-em-up with 4 different levels, a couple of which ape strategies from other similar games, Space Invaders and Galaxian. It got a second play because I wanted to see all the different levels (it loops and gets harder) but that was enough for me.

Ultima I - This doesn't sound promising "In spite of its importance in the story of the CRPG genre, Ultima I now seems an impossibly dated and awkward game, in everything from setting to design." Ah well, the emulation I tried wouldn't let me save my character as it couldn't find a disk to save it on.

Gravitar - I had a feeling I would like this one given the description, and my time spent with Lunar Lander. It is more complex, but I probably didn't enjoy it quite as much. Mainly because you have to try and shoot defenses that are on the ground... and you have to be aiming down to do that. That combined with gravity made it hard to pull off.

The Hobbit - Another text adventure. This one actually has graphics, but they are drawn so slowly it is excrutiating. There was a chest in the middle of the floor, which I figured out how to open, but I had no idea how to look in the chest; typing 'look chest' just redrew the area again, while I had to wait until it finished to try again. In the end I attacked Thorin, who counterattacked, killed me with one blow, at which point I was told I had finished 0.0% of the adventure. About as much I want to play. And that's the problem with these text adventures. I know what I want to do, but not how the game wants me to word it. Graphical adventures overcome this by allowing you to interact with anything important you can see.

Choplifter - I found the Master System version of this game. I remember enjoying this when I was younger. Not so much now. Only gave it a single play and died pretty quickly.

Robotron 2084 - I played a remake using mouse and keyboard. Wasn't too bad, but nothing I'd rave about either. Great advancement in its day, but I'd rather play any number of dual stick shooters instead using a controller.

Miner 2049er - I'm not sure if there is a better version, but I played the Atari 2600 version. I can see how it would have been good in its day, but just isn't captivating to me now. Seemed a bit random when I fell down bits that didn't seem like there were holes in the ground.

Moon Patrol - I played a remake which seems like it did a pretty good job or replicating the original. Played it a few times. Pretty simple and not much variety. Amusingly each time you die the message appears 'Next time will be better?" as if proffering a question.

Q*Bert - I played an online version a few times. For those not aware, it looks like an isometric platform/puzzler, and as weird orange thing with a massive nose, you are tasked with changing the colour of all the tiles on the map, and to do that, you have to step on them. The enemies are pretty relentless though, and the map design sometimes means there really isn't a way to avoid them if you've made a wrong step. Good for a few plays, but then I was getting a little bored of it.

Xevious - I played the demo on XBLA close to when it came out. I thought it sucked. Not going to play it again. Next.

Sokoban - I decided to search for this on Megans iphone. Its a simple concept, but devilishly clever, and I expect most older gamers have seen it in some form. The presentation is simple, you are on a 2D warehouse floor, and you are tasked with pushing boxes that are strewn about to fill in the designated spaces. You can only push a crate, not pull it. Therefore if you push a crate into a corner and it isn't the correct spot, you need to start again. The clever part is the level design. You need to think ahead, and make sure that you aren't pushing a box into a spot where it will block the path of another that you need to push later. The last level I tried, I've looked at for probably half an hour and I know I'm so close to the solution... I know what I CAN'T push, but can't quite figure out where to start... so even without much action, this is still an amazingly engrossing puzzler.

Time Pilot - The first time I tried playing this, the version was obviously about 10 times too fast, and I went back to the main screen after about 5 seconds after losing all my lives. Then I found an arcade version that was better emulated. Reasonable, but not enough to really hold my interest. A bit different than other shoot-em-ups of its time, you turn your jet while it stays centred on the screen.

Utopia - Requires two players to play, so this one won't be happening. Pretty sure I played a sequel that was set in the future, which was somewhat akin to Sim City with terraforming requirements.

I, Robot - I tried briefly to look for this online, but came up with scores of entries that had 'robot' in the title, but not the one I was looking for. I found out there is a company called irobot that make a robot that scrubs floors though.

Archon - I didn't play this for too long. I can see where the appeal is though. This is a turn-based strategy game crossed with real time battles. It plays a little bit like chess, though I didn't learn all the rules. I imagine it was great back in the day, but there have been many enhancements in this field to be entirely interested in it today. Like Valkyria Chronicles which I'm playing at the moment. That could be considered the evolution of this game.

Star Wars Arcade - I'm too lazy to look for this game because the search will turn up billions of results. And the fact is, I've played it on the Amiga. It was pretty decent and looked great with its vector graphics back in the day. My fondest memory was having a cracked version for the Amiga that had different audio. It was hilarious when Darth Vader would say "Ah, bastard!" in a British accent whenever I shot his craft.

Chuckie Egg - A simple single screen platformer, where your goal is to collect all the eggs while avoiding the chickens that roam the level. Jumping gets you across platforms, but you don't jump high enough to leap over enemies. This it all about anticipating what your enemies will do, but they are randomised, not always following the same path. If anyone can find a chicken that can climb a ladder in real life, let me know.

Dragons Lair - I think I played a version of this on the Amiga. I just tried to look one up, but couldn't find one quickly. I did find an NES version, which is an action game, not like the original arcade. A horrible horrible action game. The original arcade was on a laserdisc, and therefore the animation was superb, it was like watching a cartoon (which was amazing in 1983 for its release) but it played different scenes depending on whether you moved the joystick in the right direction or pressed the button at the right time. But you never knew what it was, it was trial and error. It was great for its time. Now, imagine a game with quick time events that didn't give you button prompts. Sound like fun? Yeah, thought not.

Gyruss - Among the shoot-em-ups, this is probably the one I like the most... but still not enough to play for long. Another 'circle' shooter where you shoot from the outside in, probably the most awkward part was playing with a keyboard. Pressing left will only get you to the left hand side of the screen, then you have to press up to get to the top. There is probably a good update in there that could benefit from an analog stick.

Mad Planets - Apparently this was hard to emulate due to the control scheme. So I settled for watching some video. I don't quite understand what is going on, but instead of fighting aliens you are fighting... planets. And they get pissed if you shoot their moons. Looks like it could get manic.