Monday, 31 January 2011

God is a Geek Podcast discusses horror in Dead Space...

This week's God is a Geek podcast discusses the lastest news and releases, but you'll also be thrilled to discover that they spend about five minutes disagreeing with my assertion that Dead Space is not horror.

There's some sort of misplaced British awkwardness that makes me think it's a bit unseemly to post a link to a recording of people talking about something I did, but then I think "what would Becky Sharpe do?".

No, not kill her husband and make it look like an accident.

Go and listen, if only because everyone at God is a Geek is very nice and they deserve your support.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Super Meat Boy vs. PETA, or why videogames shouldn't be used as soapboxes

Super Meat Boy is a two-dimensional platforming game in which you play as a skinless cube of meat who is trying to save his girlfriend, "Bandage Girl", from Dr. Fetus, a foetus (sorry, I'm British) in jar, wearing a tux. Super Meat Boy must evade countless gruesome traps (buzz saws, dirty hypodermic needles, piles of salt) in order to rescue his beloved. He is aided only by the fact that his skinless anatomy allows him to stick to walls.

Super Meat Boy is pleasingly difficult, though the mechanic is simple enough to learn within the first minute or so of play. Consequently, it's extremely good value, offering upwards of thirty hours of play for under £10.

But the best thing about the game is Super Meat Boy himself. Everything about him - from the trail of blood that he leaves in his wake to the delightful noises he makes when he runs, jumps, and slaps himself against a wall - is amusing.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Dead Space – Bloody, Brilliant & Innovative. But Is It Horror?

So I've started writing for

Once you've finished reading my article about Dead Space, stick around for the reviews, the forums and the news feed.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Deadly Premonition Review

Is Deadly Premonition a good game?

Deadly Premonition's Anna, strung up on a tree by the Raincoat Killer

That's the sort of question that a review is supposed to answer, but Deadly Premonition transcends notions of "good" or "bad" to the point where most of the reviews of the game are meta-reviews which point out how impossible it is to review the game. Because this review is talking about meta-reviews, it's a meta-meta-review.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Well-Rendered is on facebook for some reason.

Oh, and I created a faceache page for Well-Rendered a couple of days ago. I had a group before, but now it's a page. I'm not really sure what this will achieve, but I created it anyway.

It is here.

I am pretty sure hardly anyone arrives here through faceache, but never mind. I'm suffering from writer's block today.

Also a blocked nose. Perhaps the two are related.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

The woes of the modern gamer

The last month or so has featured an ongoing dialogue upon the "letters" page of Edge magazine. It's to do with the difficulties of combining gaming with parenting.

More on this later. Here's the credit, by the way.

The main source of woe seems to be unpausable cut-scenes, leaving parents in the lurch when they are torn between attending to a screaming child or following the plot. I'd like to assume that the child wins out, but that's not really the point. The point is that the ever-aging demographic of "core" gamers are going to need games to adapt if they are to continue to devote their time (and more importantly, to to developers and publishers) their money to gaming. Parenting is (so I've been told) an exhausting activity which requires constant vigilance, and the ability to stop what you're doing at a second's notice. It also means that parents are often only able to devote blocks of ten minutes to a game, so save-points may have to become a little more forgiving.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Super Smash TV and the burning of the videogame libraries

This may well be a blogging faux pas, but I'm going to reproduce a comment as an actual post.

You may remember this recent post in which I talked about my fears for the future of older console games. I rather melodramatically compared the lack of backwards compatibility in newer consoles to the burning of libraries. I then made a slightly scatterbrained case for legal emulators or better backwards compatibility.

Because I'm not a developer, I'm not really equipped with an understanding of the practical issues that stand in the way of creating really good (legal) emulators for older games consoles. I know, I know. What I lack in "knowledge" I make up for in scatterbrianed idealism, but you really need both to solve a problem.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness... Board Game?

Someone who reads Well-Rendered very carefully bestowed upon me the most wondrous birthday gift.

It is this.

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness Board Game

The history of video game adaptations into other media is troubled. It doesn't tend to work as well as adaptations in the other direction, from other media into video games.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A Gamer's Year Part 7: December


December was utterly exhausting. Most of it was taken up learning XHTML and CSS for my Open University course. Fascinating, challenging, exciting.

But it left little time for gaming. On December 22nd I began playing the excellent Baldur's Gate, an adaptation of Dungeons and Dragons for the PC. Complex, amusing and extremely challenging, Baldur's Gate deserves a lot more time than I was able to devote to it in 2010. 

2011 looks amazing already. I already have so much to write about, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.

A belated happy new year!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

A Gamer's Year Part 6: October and November


Enslaved was released in October. It fills a gap in the XBOX market which became apparent when the Uncharted series arrived on the Playstation: a game which aimed to tell a story through the medium of spectacle and a great script. And I think it did the job nicely, even though I still think it might have benefitted from an extra playable level set in the final area.

Following my journey West with Monkey and Trip, I covered the wonderful Nintendisco gaming night for 412limited. It was really good fun, but I'm not sure I have the stamina for events covereage.

Ha ha. "Events coverage". It was a SNES in a pub.

Nicky and Dave, if you're reading this, I'm laughing at my own pretentions, not your delightful evening. Sometimes all you need is a SNES. In a pub.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A Gamer's Year Part 5: September


As a child of the 90s, I owned almost all the Disney films on VHS. As anyone of a similar vintage will know, these videos always contained an advert for Disneyland. No matter how much magic you are experiencing right now, it's always possible to pay for more.

Now I am and have always been fascinated by space. I would read books about space, and imagine myself piloting spaceships. For three years' running, my Mum made me spaceship-shaped birthday cakes (my Mum is a whizz with the icing). Everyone knew about my space "thing".

So when my house finally got a copy of Beauty and the Beast (a wonderful film that has overtaken The Little Mermaid as my favourite Disney film, probably because of the scene with the library, sigh), I was very excited to see the following trailer:

I was really excited, because this looked like the film I had been waiting my whole life (9 years!) to see. I remember the moment of crushing disappointment quite clearly. I was watching the video for the first time with my family, and when this trailer began my Dad ruffled my hair and said something along the lines of "this looks like a film for Mary!"

A Gamer's Year Part 4: June, July, August

It looks like the 2010 gaming retrospective will continue into January. Heigh ho!

This section contains an impassioned rant about piracy and videogames' "artistic legacy". Never let it be said that I take blogging too seriously.

Delightful though my shiny new PC is, it's mainly a tool for learning Web design and playing retro games. And by "retro" I mean "released before 2006". I can turn the graphics on these games up all the way. My mouse/keyboard setup isn't quite optimal for playing FPSs either. 

So when Well-Rendered towers' other occupant decided to spend a weekend doing mysterious things in a field in France, I took the opportunity to clamber aboard his monolithic PC and play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its imaginatively-titled sequel Modern Warfare 2. I wasn't disappointed.