“Where is your ‘canon’ now?” – The Night of the Doctor

The title comes from Paul Cornell. My response was “Right where I left it ;)”, but we’ll get to that.

So the Doctor Who mini episode ‘The Night of the Doctor’ got released last night. If you haven’t already, watch it. I’ll wait. Cos I’m going to spoil the ever-lovin’ crap out of it otherwise…

(Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then we’ll begin…)

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Eurovision 2013 Lead Up – The End Is The Beginning Is The End

Sure, I cheated on the title for this one. So sue me, I’m trying to catch up.

Last call, folks…

31. Greece

One thing that’s been consistent about Greece’s entries the last few years is that you know which culture they originated from.

Not as true this year, as here we’re getting a Greek Ska Band giving us a drinking anthem.

Cool beans.

Koza Mostra and Agathonas Iakovidis (now that is a name) have given as a fun song with “Alcohol is Free”. It has a contagious energy, which hopefully should do well for them.

32. Israel

I know it shouldn’t, but I always freak out every time I read at the beginning of an Israeli’s bio some variation of “Since completing military service…”

Moran Mazor (again, awesome name!) is another reality show winner who has springboarded off of that to a singing career and Eurovision representative. “Rak bishvilo” (“Only for him”) might be an example Mizrahi music; which is what Miss Mazor was selected for by Eyal Golan in his star hunting reality show; but I have no idea.

A pretty sounding song, but there seems to be a certain something missing. No idea what; hopefully they’ll pull it together on the night.

33. Armenia

An Armenian rock band called Dorians, influenced by Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, with a song written in part by Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi?

You’d think “Lonely Planet” would kick more ass than this…It’s not bad, I just would’ve expected something a little harder.

Still, it’s well performed with a nice guitar riff through it.Maybe they’ll rock out during the actual performance.

34. Hungary

ByeAlex is a journalist philosopher who sings on the side, with his song “Kedvesem” (“My darling”) being entered for consideration by his manager.

I for one am glad he did, as this is one of the better entrants this year. Dunno why, but I get a Cat Stevens vibe from this…

While I like the aesthetic of this preview clip, it really gives no indication on how it’ll be performed on the night, and stage presence always helps.

35. Norway

Forgive me while I pick my jaw up off the floor…

Gorgeous. Icy. Singing a song about feeding…yup, Norway is sending The Vampire Entrant this year!

Margaret Berger has the sort of charisma to do well at this year’s competition, and “I Feed You My Love” has a darker undercurrent than many of the other songs in the running. I’ll be looking forward to this one.

36. Albania

Rona Nishliu and Bledar Sejko bring the sort of harder rock I expected from Armenia with “Identitet” (“Identity”), but managing to mix it up with some Balkan folk music as well.

Singing in Albania is again a brave choice, with it being the only language really of its kind in Europe.
I like this one, but it may be too hard to do well with this crowd, sadly. Still, best of luck to them.

37. Georgia

Another entrant where they’re going to crank The Wind Machine up to Goddess Levels…

Nodiko Tatishvili and Sopho Gelovani are both well-respected Georgian singers, clearly have some talent and power behind their voices, and work really well together, complementing each other’s performances.

“Waterfall” is your fairly typical Eurovision Power Ballad, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Another one I like, and given Georgia’s political connections, I have no doubt we’ll see this one in the final.

38. Switzerland

The Swiss sent the Salvos to represent them?

Okay.

Takasa is compised of six members of the Salvation Army, who usually perform under the name “Heilsarmee” but had to change it due to the competition rules forbidding political and religious content.

Well, at least overtly…

Takasa is apparently a Swahili word for “clean” or “purify”. However, it may just be an acronym for “The Artists Known as Salvation Army”.

“You and me” is an okay song with a nice, uplifting message. Maybe I’m projecting here, but does it sound kinda like Christian Rock to anyone else? This is not necessarily a bad thing, just…odd.

39. Romania

Well…That’s a Hell of a thing to close out on.

The demeanour and the higher vocal range really prevent me from taking this one too seriously. Cezar is clearly a talented countertenor and some of his upcoming projects sound fascinating (Andrea Bocelli and Vangelis), but “It’s My Life” just doesn’t work for me.

Annnd we’re done. Thanks once again for your indulgence and patience. We’ll get back to video games, TV shows, comics and movies shortly.

I’ll be following along with the SBS Broadcast on Twitter. Follow me if you want to be barraged with pointless opinion. Or unfollow me for the weekend to save your sanity…

Be seeing you

 

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Eurovision 2013 Lead Up – Doom’s Beatbox, Rebirths, A Disney Villainess, Stealth Politiking, Buckaroo Banzai, The Never-Ending Drumbeat and The God of Thunder

Surprisingly, I needed to sleep. Who knew?

23. Latvia

Oh Victor…What the Hell, man?

Latvian beatboxing…there’s a phrase I never thought I’d type.

To be fair, lyrical complexity is not a hallmark of a Eurovision entry, but PeR (“Please Explain the Rhythm,” both oddly and aptly) is scraping the bottom of that particular barrel with “Here We Go”.

Blame it on Richards, and move along.

24. San Marino

From having objectively the worst song at last year’s competition, San Marino is sending Valentina Monetta back to compete again.

And you know what, it actually might work.

I had no idea if Ms Monetta had any discernible talent last time as she was auto-tuned to Hell and Back. “Crisalide (Vola)” (“Chrysalis (Fly)”) makes it clear that she does, and she’s pretty damn good too.

The major fault with this song is that’s trying to be a little bit of everything all at once. Soulful ballad or energetic pop song? That attempt to be something for everyone may hurt it when it comes to scoring, which is a pity cos this is such a better effort from San Marino than last year.

25. Macedonia

Meanwhile in Macedonia…what the frak did I just watch??

“Pred da se razdeni” (“Before the Sunrise”) feels like two songs grafted together in a ham-fisted manner, one sung by up and coming Macedonian music star Lozan, the other a bizarrely modernised Romani tune sung by Esma Redžepova, who I can only assume is a time -travelling gypsy Disney Villainess, given her outfit, entrance and set design.

This didn’t work for me. The song is clearly meant to work with the two styles in play, but it’s a juttering mess. I sense a trend this year that I’m not liking…

26. Azerbaijan

I often have a soft spot for Azerbaijan; they usually do something that I’m going to find entertaining.

The fact they’ve sent Farid Mammadov (another awesome name), a Greco-Roman wrestling practitioner with capoeira training is definitely entertaining. If worst comes to worst, he can fight crime on the streets of Malmö whilst he’s there.

“Hold Me” is your fairly standard Eurovision love ballad, well sung. Though there could be some amusing lyric confusion on the night…

27. Finland

Is there a word for that moment where you’re not sure if something is parody or not? “Poe’s Law” seems to be the closest analogy.

Krista Siegfrids’ “Marry Me” seems initially to be a Feminist Nightmare, but the social media buzz generated by her and her “Team Ding Dong” (massive points for that alone, really) seems to have the song pushing Gay Marriage Legislation in Finland; a country where the first bill to legalise it was voted down earlier this year.

Noble pursuits aside, the song is a bit on the nose, but Ms Siegfrids clearly has charisma in spades and that may save her on the night.

28. Malta

Gianluca Bezzina is a medical doctor who also sings.

That’s right; Malta sent their equivalent of Buckaroo Banzai to Eurovision.

Fuck. Yes.

“Tomorrow” is a cute song that may not work as well on stage as in the preview video, but given how sweet it is without being heavy-handed, and Gianluca’s obvious talent, I hope this does well on the night.

29. Bulgaria

This one’s got The Wind Machine cranked up to Goddess Level all over it.

This is the second time Elitsa & Stoyan have represented Bulgaria at Eurovision. And unlike their 2007 attempt, “Samo shampioni” (“Only champions”) does not feel weirdly experimental.

I love a bunch of folks wailing on drums as much as the next guy, and there’s definitely a fun vibe to this one. Let’s hope they hit it out of the park with the stage performance.

30. Iceland

With Azerbaijan sending a vigilante and Malta sending Buckaroo Banzai, Iceland just went “Fuck it. We’re sending Thor.”

As much as that guy Mjolnirs me in the face every Thursday, I’m okay with this.

While maybe not exactly a Norse God, Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson is an Icelandic singer who came to greater prominence when he took over lead vocal duties of the local rock band Todmobile.

“Ég á líf” (“I am alive”) is a sweet ballad with some power behind it, that should get it a few votes towards a finals place.

And that’s the first half of the second semi done. I’ll have the rest up before it broadcasts on the 16th.

Be seeing you.

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Eurovision 2013 Lead Up – Songbirds, Disorganised Crime, Love on Doom’s Doorstep, Dictatorial Pop, Space Princesses, Space Princes, Wood Nymphs, Beliebers and Angels & Demons.

Oh man, that was some unforgivable schedule slippage. Unfortunately, real world responsibilities took me away from this round-up for far too long.

But. we’ve still got 24 hours before the broadcast of the first semi-final, so let’s power on through

14. The Netherlands

Listening to her voice, it’s like Adele and Julie Andrews had a beautiful, beautiful love child… Though her background compares her more to Alanis Morissette and Melissa Etheridge. She even started her career in a wedding band called “Shotgun Wedding”!

How the Hell did I not hear of this woman before now??

Anouk is probably the most famous of this year’s entrants across Europe, and it’s easy to see why. She’s got a beautiful voice and an easy talent that comes through even in that simple video.

This one has impressed me most so far out of all this year’s entrants. The one to watch.

15. Montenegro

Oh God…

Yugoslavian Hip-Hop???

The sad thing is, it’ll probably do well!

Montenegro’s Who See throws everything into that film clip for “Igranka” (“The Party”), from the cast of Breaking Bad to ninjas and bikini cage fighting. At least they’re living up to their bio of having a sense of humour.

Despite my limited knowledge of hip-hop (and Yugoslavian dialects whilst sober), this is not to my tastes and comes off badly. Maybe it’ll be more endearing on the night? We can only hope.

16. Lithuania

Okay, I dunno what’s going on here, but there’s clearly something off about what should be a simple love song. It’s like the drummer and the guitarist are at odds and Andrius Pojavis (cool name, by the by) is just trying to hold it together.

This guy’s got some talent, sure, but “Something” just comes off as awkward and rushed. Or maybe it’s just Indie as fuck? Maybe it’ll be better on the night, but that was a pretty poor effort.

17. Belarus

Huh. Belarus has managed to discover ’90s pop. Who’d’ve thunk it?

Alyona Lanskaya  brings a fairly standard pop number to Eurovision with “Solayoh” (no translation sadly, despite the song being in English). Her stage presence on the night will make or break this, but it’s punchy.

18. Moldova

Yup.

That’s a Space Princess.

One can only hope the stage turns into her giant mecha and whisks her off at the end of the performance.

Aliona Moon (jeez, even the name is right!) was a back up singer for Moldova’s entry last year, Pasha Parfeny (who was as I recall, a wizard) who this year looks to be pulling piano duty.

“O mie” (“One thousand”) works beautifully in Romanian with Miss Moon’s sweet voice, and the staging is effective. Another one to look forward to on the night.

19. Ireland

And yup, that’s a Space Prince…

I never thought I’d say it, but I miss Jedward. Say what you will about those kids, but they had personality and presence. Ryan Dolan doesn’t really bring anything in the film clip for “Only Love Survives”. A competent voice, certainly, but one that seems at odds for a dance track.

Staging will once again make or break it.

20. Cyprus

Cyprus seems to have gone in completely the other direction compared to last year’s entry. A more mature singer with a ballad rather than a pure pop song.

Despina Olympiou seems to be better known for pop and dance, so this seems like a departure for her. “An me thimasai” (“If You Remember Me”) is a sweet ballad and well sung. Ms Olympiou also released Spanish and English versions of this song, and there are rumours she may not sing the Greek version on the night.

21. Belgium

Huh. It’s like the Italians tried to clone Justin Bieber, failed, and shipped him off to Belgium.

Roberto Bellarosa (another cool name) originally hails from italy, but settled in Belgium and did the talent show circuit there.

Full credit to the title, “Love Kills” is not a sentiment expressed often at Eurovision. But the novelty pretty much pins on that.

22. Serbia

Now, country where I’m most likely to be related to an entrant, what do you have for me this year?

“Ljubav je svuda” (“Love Is Everywhere”) is a fairly boppy dance number about the good and bad aspects of love (judging by the angel and devil motiffs) performed by Moje 3; a Serbian supergroup formed from Prvi glas Srbije (The First Voice of Serbia) finalists.

They’re pretty and they have good stage presence, so lets see what that gets them on the night.

And that’s the first semi-final down. We’ll get onto the second semi in a few hours, where we’ll wrap up the majority of the Baltic States before heading North once more. Until then…

Be seeing you

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Eurovision 2013 Lead Up – Jersey Girls, Singing Nuns, 6 Dalmations, Barefoot Bar Sinisters, Journalists & Army Brats

Schedule slippage already. No one is shocked by this I’m sure. Plenty of time until the deadline at least.

The first round of this was once again surprisingly painless, but the finalists often are. Hell, I’d say they were a little bland this year in some ways. Shall we find something more interesting?

7. Austria

It took me a moment, but singer Natália Kelly fulfilling all the band roles in this promo video seems an odd choice. Are they all going to be wearing face masks of her on the night??

The youngest entrant we’ve seen so far in this year’s contest, she’s still a professional, having been singing most of her life in productions and bands before getting a recording contract via Austria’s version of The Voice. She’s cleverly timed her Eurovision entry with her album debut.

I like “Shine”; Kelly’s got a good, strong voice, and this seems to come from a more positive place (somewhat) than the song with the same name Australians are more familiar with…But how well she’ll do will depend on her stage presence, and I’m not getting a lot of that from this.

8. Estonia

I feel like we crashed a Christmas Concert with that opening shot.

Birgit Õigemeel was the first winner of Estonia’s Idol variant; Eesti otsib superstaari (Literally “Estonia is Searching for a Superstar”) and has been working for the past five years as a singer and in various musical productions.

“Et uus saaks alguse” (“So there can be a new beginning”) feels like an almost back to basics approach to a Eurovision song entry. It’s heartfelt though, so hopefully that’ll get it some points.

9. Slovenia

Proof if any be needed that as long as Eurovision believes in them, the ’80s just won’t die!

Though I think the staging of this one on the night might give me a headache…

Hannah Mancini is another American born singer (there’s a few of those this year) with an impressive resume, including some Disney films. Her song “Straight into Love” is the kind of song Eurovision is known for in wider circles, though even at this early point I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing?

10. Croatia

In the first crazy move to win Eurovision, Croatia have formed the supergroup Klapa s Mora from six separate traditional klapa groups. Klapa is a type of a cappella singing originating from Dalmatia.

This move may actually work for Croatia; “Mižerja” (“Misery”) is a moving song (though my Croatian is worse than my French) that is beautifully performed with the six singers harmonising well.

11. Denmark

So Denmark has sent a time travelling forest spirit to represent them? Seriously, the BBC needs to start getting royalties for for the clear influence the TARDIS console rooms have had on Eurovision set design…

I think my audio was slightly out of sync for this video. Either that, or young Emmelie de Forest is lip syncing badly here. She’s been performing for a few years in Denmark, but she created a stir when she claimed to be an illegitimate descendant of Queen Victoria. Geneologists have disputed the claim, and this tried and true PR method has been quietly dropped currently.

“Only Teardrops” is a good song that’s already a hit back home and in other Eurovision countries, amd well performed by de Forest who has none of the weaknesses in her voice you might expect for a performer her age. This may do well, especially considering Denmark has been in the Top Five Finalists in the past three years.

12. Russia

Okay, so I’m getting a quasi-Adele vibe from this one. Not necessarily a bad thing though. The “uplifting” element for the video is a bit on the nose, however.

Dina Garipova is a former winner of Golos (Russia’s The Voice) as well as other music prizes. She’s also studying to be a journalist, and according to the press is a “true believer” in Eurovision. You’d think this would make her unpopular with elements back home.

Unless she’s a plant. Oh Putin, you devil…

“What If” is a nice song in the appropriate Eurovision style that borders on uplifting, and Garipova has a strong voice, though oddly accented. Still, the staging is what will make or break this one, as I’ve not got any indication from this whether Garipova has the presence to pull it off.

13. Ukraine

No dark powers from Ukraine this year…Wait, did she summon a unicorn?!?

Looking at the press materials, Zlata Ognevich is a pop idol in the making, potentially in the worst sense. Though my formative years are coloured by Lynn Minmay in that regard, so take my observations with a grain of salt.

“Gravity” seems like another fine entry, but again somewhat safe. Where are my vampires, dammit?!

That’ll do for now; next entry will be soon so as to get back on schedule.

Next time! We head for the shores of the Netherlands before sweeping through the former Yugoslavian states, north to Doctor Doom’s doorstep, south again through former Soviet Republics, then safely across the Channel to the Emerald Isle, with nary a Jedward in sight!

Be seeing you…

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Eurovision 2013 Lead Up – The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning

Yup. It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights…in Sweden. As a reminder, here’s how the host nation won last year…

Yes. With the Power of HammerTime ™!

It’s that time again, my freaky darlings, for the kitsch grandeur that is The Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, that epic battle of epic epicness where monsters, heroes, villains, madmen, time travellers, corporate interests and state sponsored “talent” duke it out for Eternal Glory in front of an audience of millions. Or something like that.

I’ve promised every year for the last six years or so that I’d do a proper lead up to the contest looking at each country’s entries for this year, and last year I actually did it! Since it went down kind of okay, I’m doing it again in the hope of having it wrapped up before the European broadcast of the first semi-final on May 14.

So without further gilding the lily, and no more ado, we’ll start with the guaranteed finalists; the host nation and the Big Five before looking at the entries for the two semi-finals in listed performance order in the coming weeks.

1. Sweden

Oh God, what is with that hair? Oh right, ex-boy band member. And an ex-Idol finalist. Oddly, in that order. Huh.

Robin Stjemberg is already well-known in Sweden for his debut album My Version, which is a series of well received cover songs. He’s also the first representative to get to Eurovision from the Swedish Melodifestivalen’s “Second Chance” Round.

The song “You” is fairly typical Eurovision pop,which seems like such a change from the edgier “Euphoria” from a year ago. Worse, Stjemberg’s voice sounds tonally off, even flat in the preview performance. Still, this kid’s got the power to rally a crowd behind him, so if he wants to win, let’s hope he can pull off a better performance and excite the crowd on the night.

2. France

It’s like Courtney Love went Cajun… And I’m okay with that.

Amandine Bourgeois sounds like a provincial dessert, or at least the name of a singer who used to hit the Toulouse bars Back in the Day, so that works.

Having been recently told by a Congolese National that my French is terrible, I won’t even try to translate the lyrics of her song “L’enfer et moi” (“Hell and me”), but there’s a seductive darkness about it.  She’s got some power behind that voice, and this a much more appealing entrant than France’s last few entries in recent years. I hope she does well.

3. Germany

A glitter covered Aryan Superwoman. Really Germany? Really?

Cascada is a German Eurodance outfit, who’ve had some success outside of Europe with “Evacuate the Dancefloor” in 2009 amongst other songs, though that’s the one I know them for. That’s more electropop than eurodance though, but I digress.

Germany’s entry “Glorious” brings the first controversy I’ll note on here; there were accusations of plagiarism against this song by German regional broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk (North German Broadcasting, or NDR), who claimed it was ripping off last year’s Eurovision winner, “Eurphoria”. The plagiarism accusation was investigated and ultimately dismissed. Though this is not the first time Cascada has had their songs compared to other artists’. But to be fair, “Euphoria” also had plagiarism charges raised against it, and they ultimately went nowhere as well.

This seems like a tame entry as well. It certainly feels more superficial than what they’ve gone for in more recent years, and I don’t even think Cascada bringing it on the night can elevate this one.

4. Italy

Anyone else need to go to the bathroom after that opening sound effect? I was commenting to a friend how I was surprised that David Tenant hadn’t had a bigger effect of Japanese culture. Clearly cos it all got cashed in by Europe. That hair!? What the Hell, man?!?

All kidding aside, Marco Mengoni is an Italian singer, having started his career as an X-Factor winner and advancing onwards to win awards in Italy and Europe. The Italian entry “L’Essenziale” (“The Essential”) is described by Mengoni as “an Italian style ballad in the tipping point between love and social issues”. Given my Italian is even worse than my French, I’ll have to take his word for it. But this is a sweet sounding song, and Mengoni has a beautiful voice.

5. Spain

Did I take a wrong turn in Andalusia? Is this the Irish entrant??

Huh. ESDM or El Sueño De Morfeo (Morpheus’ Dream) are a Spanish pop-rock band with Celtic influences. Cool.

The Spanish entry “Contigo Hasta El Final” (“With You Until The End”) has a nice sound to it, and lead singer Raquel del Rosario has a sweet voice that surprisingly suits this style of music. While I like this, it feels too slight to do well at this contest. But I’ve been wrong before. Then again, Spain has landed in the bottom half of the hunt every year since 2005, so this year may sadly be no different.

6. United Kingdom

When we heard that Bonnie Tyler was representing the United Kingdom in this year’s Eurovision, our first response was an almost universal “Bueno,” oddly.

I’m surprised the UK are trying the same strategy as last year given how badly it went for them then, but then again I’d hold Bonnie Tyler above Englebert Humperdink any day.

“Believe In Me” is a well written ballad that benefits from Tyler’s famous husky voice, and hopefully it’ll do well for her and the UK.

And that’s part one of six down. In about five days time we’ll hit the garden spots of Eastern Europe before cutting through the Baltic States and diving straight into Mother Russia. But keep in mind geography was never my strong suit…

Be seeing you

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The Fall of the House of Mojo

I was awoken last week (yeah, this took that long to write) by the news that Disney have officially closed down LucasArts. 150 employees losing their jobs in that market and profession is rough, and I and I’m sure pretty much everyone else who has been following this story hope they all find lucrative employment soon. But as important as that and its consequences are, I’m not equipped to talk about it.

For me, the closure is sad outside of the above for reasons of nostalgia more than anything else. The LucasArts I (and many others) remember is from their glory days of the ’90s and the Renaissance of Adventure Games they ushered in. That LucasArts hasn’t existed for a very long time, despite the amazing faith that some of us had that they might one day be great again. It’s a weird mirror of when Sierra was formally shut down in 2008. I was never as much of a huge fan for the Sierra games, but friends of mine were; they’d cut their teeth on the Quest for Glory games, so I sympathised when their favourite gaming studio closed down. The situation is reversed for me today.

Lotsa good memories here

LucasArts made me the gamer I am today. The impact the company had on how I perceive and interact with this hobby is enormous. Because of them, I am an adventure gamer and a space jockey. Sadly, both those genres have had their glory days too, but there’s still some folk out there keeping them alive and making some fascinating innovations as well.

With this entry I’m going to look at the LucasArts games I played; and a couple of the ones I should’ve played; in release order but not my play order, as my memory’s not good enough to pin that down exactly. Don’t expect a lot of insight here, these are just the nostalgic ramblings of a sad old gamer today.

1987 – Maniac Mansion

The Birth of SCUMMBack when they were still Lucasfilm Games, this is where what I consider adventure gaming really began. I first played this not long after it came out, but I really remember playing this one on my cousin’s Amiga in the early ’90s. I remember it being a weird port; the mansion had a massive security door to access the upper levels; if you didn’t type in the right copy protection code, the mansion would explode after a time limit. Unfortunately we didn’t know what the code was despite it being a legitimate copy, so we blew up a lot.

I loved that they included this as a game within a game as part of the meta fiction of Day of the Tentacle. That’s actually how I replayed and completed this game. A crazy fun time with some features that wouldn’t be seen again for a very long time, if ever.

1989 – Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade – The Adventure Game

Have fun Keeping Up With The Joneses.Not quite where it all began for me, but this was the second adventure game I have strong memories of. It was a surprisingly well told adaptation of the third Indy film, with some devilish puzzles and forethought needed to advance. I mean, you had to look up how to fly a bi-plane in the library in Venice so you could escape the Nazis later! Hell, I even still have my old notes…

I played this one again in 2009 when it was re-released on Steam, and it was still fun. And in keeping with a later tradition, I even wore my Indy hat whilst playing it.

January 1990 – Loom

Hello, I'm Bobbin Threadbare. Are you my mother?While released in ’90, the full “talkie” release didn’t come out until ’92, and that’s the definitive version of this beautiful game. I didn’t play it until 2003 after I managed to get a copy of the talkie version from an ex-girlfriend. There’s a re-release on Steam for this one as well, and I strongly recommend you pick it up.

Cos I’m lazy, I dug back into the archives and found my original notes on the game from a decade younger version of myself. My thoughts haven’t changed too much, really…

…this evening I finished an old classic adventure game called LOOM. Now this is a beautiful game, but the ending is far from a happy one. In fact, it’s a pyrrhic victory for the unlikely hero Bobbin and his allies, as the world is literally split asunder, with Chaos gaining control of one half, and Bobbin managing to keep the other half protected from her. Now admittedly Bobbin stopped Chaos from securing the device that would have given her total domination over the world, but he’s also condemned those he couldn’t save to short, miserable and nightmarish lives. Even Chaos was surprised he actually did it. Though perhaps the creators of the game were hopeful of a sequel, as Chaos’ taunts of, “We will meet again!” follow Bobbin as he transcends the physical plane to join his brethren.

Now this was a ballsy ending to this cute little fantasy adventure game, and when I watched it I was shocked. I mean Bobbin, good, sweet-natured Bobbin sacrificed half the fucking world to halt Chaos and her Army of the Dead. Desperate plan, and it worked, but it made me realise that I have gotten used to happy endings! Now I ask myself, when the smeg did this happen?? Now whilst Hollywood has been trying to cram this whole “Happy Endings Do Happen” stuff down my throat for years, and I am generally an optimist, I’m also enough of a realist to know that life is painful some of the time. Hard decisions do need to be made and they do require sacrifices.

Hmmm…maybe I just didn’t expect such an ending from such a gorgeous game. Damn you, Moriarty!! (Brian Moriarty, game creator).

But I’ll be honest; this is what my friends and I really remember most about Loom:

October 1990 – The Secret of Monkey Island

Look Behind You! A Three-Headed Monkey!!Now, this. This is where it all began for me. The game that started me on the path of being an adventure gamer. Hell, the game that made me a gamer. I wouldn’t still be playing if it wasn’t for this game, and I’m a fan of Ron Gilbert’s for life cos of this. Hell, I started following Gilbert and Tim Schafer on Twitter when they started live tweeting a play through of the Special Edition back in 2009.

Sure, parts of it haven’t aged well, and there’s some strange design choices, but this thing is still funny, with a neat story and great characters that endure to this day. This is still the first major influence that made me want to be a pirate (the second naturally being The Princess Bride). If for some reason you still haven’t played this, check out the Special Edition on pretty much any modern platform you can think of.

1991  Monkey Island 2 – LeChuck’s Revenge

Violets are blue, roses are red, we're coming aboard, prepare to eat lead!Some would say this is more of the same. I’d argue this is something greater. The definitive takes on these characters. One of the best implementations of interactive music in a video game. And that ending. I truly wonder if Gilbert knows what he would’ve done next, but I still hope to find out one day.

There’s some great puzzles here, and I remember this game being one of the first to have difficulty levels in an adventure game. I can’t remember if subsequent versions and ports of this kept that feature, but I remember thinking it was pretty innovative at the time.

And did this rip off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, or did the films rip this off. Seeing Captain Jack Sparrow rowing away in a coffin always makes me wonder…

Again, check out the Special Edition if you haven’t or somehow haven’t played this one at all.

1992  Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis

The Man in the Hat is BackAn Indiana Jones game not based off any existing material? 12-year-old me thought that was madness. I’m glad he was wrong.

Starting with the Drew Struzan inspired box artwork by William Eaken, Hal Barwood and his team got this game right from the ground up with an original story that felt right, worthy and contemptible villains, a great female lead in psychic Sophia Hapgood and a fantastic MacGuffin in the Lost City of Atlantis. The puzzles were great too, with three streams of gameplay making replayability a must. Probably the best Indiana Jones video game ever made, it may be naive but it’s a pity we got Kingdom of the Crystal Skull instead of this as the post Crusade film.

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