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Archive for March, 2016

Returning to Kita

I have a long and lonely train ride ahead of me, to a long weekend traipsing back and forth between two hotels about a mile or so apart, carrying more bags than I probably need, spending money I don’t have on things I then have to drag back on the long and lonely train home.

Ye gods I love Kita.

We’re back for the third time, and as this is my seventh convention I’ve got a lot of people I’m looking forward to seeing who I only ever see at conventions, maybe getting a few games in with new people. For all this Kita is going to be shade smaller than in previous incarnations, it might not be quite so big a weekend as it has been in the past, but that won’t make it any less fun.

The timetable popped up on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, so let’s have a look:

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Click for full size

Friday

Registration opens at 10:00 for those who get there early enough, and there’s a couple of panels before the big opening ceremony. More importantly they’ve left an hour after the ceremony because it always over runs, smart move guys. Otherwise it’s a fairly relaxed day until the first party kicks off, a few panels for anyone who wants to dig right in, and more to the point I won’t have to wait until Saturday for the games room to open.

Also a geeky burlesque show, I feel that’s a no-brainer.

Saturday

The last time I stayed at the Holiday Inn down the road from the Hilton they never had bacon for breakfast, but I’m still looking forward to a weekend of cooked breakfasts. Anyway, besides breakfast there’s also the dealers room to look forward to in between panels, and while I’m seeing a few gaps in my own scheduling plans, I’m seeing a lot of hard decisions. In the morning, do I go to my first ever Build-A-Mech, or go to the Performing panel next door? In the afternoon do I go for LARP 101 or wait the half hour for Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (I love that game!).

The worst for me is after the Cosplay Parade. Without an event description I don’t pretend to know what the ATA industry panel will be (probably something obvious I’ve missed completely), and while the Cartoons: Not Just For Children aligns with my interests perfectly, there’s something so mystery box tantalising about the Untitled Kitacon Discussion.

As a metal-head, Saturday night is my kind of party, even as a non-drinker I shall destroy myself with biannual attempts at dancing interspersed with shouting myself hoarse. Or failing that I’ll go find a game in the bar somewhere, there’s usually a game of Cards Against Humanity, or someone up for whatever’s to hand.

Sunday

Ignoring for just one moment the infamous Kita’s Got Talent and the ever entertaining closing ceremonies, Sunday looks like a fairly well packed day too. Getting Legless with the Legless may have to supersede the charity auction despite how funny that proved last year, and Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer will be holding a luncheon that will likely be similar to his meal with Professor Elemental last year, although with 50% less dapper MC than the last time around. The man himself will return to perform in the evening before we are subjected to a long evening of cheese-tastic music. I’m sure Tim is thrilled.

Kita’s Got Talent usually presents us with a broader and more interesting selection of entertainment than does the more nationally recognised version, certainly a lot geekier. Finally the closing ceremony shall commence the winding down process as we come to terms with the end of another con, and another four months for me to sit and twiddle our thumbs until Amecon at the end of July.


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So that’s my Kita ’16, although there’s still a few things left unknown, so until the conbook is firmly in hand nothing is certain, not even certainty! Oh, but do read the conbook because Tim has an article in there. Are you going? Have you already made your plans? If so come see us, we want to see everyone, all at once if needs be.

Otherwise we’ll see you lovely people on the other side.

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10 Influential 80’s Geek Films

I thought it would be fun to see what kind of movies were out in the 80’s that may of influenced the hacking games that I posted last week. The 80’s were a full of lots of slightly (and in places not so slightly) tacky movies. This is not a Top 10 by any means, the films are just ones that I remember having an influence on me and possibly my peers around the same time.

The Wizard


Weird Science (1985)

Cheesy most of the way through a classic John Hughes film where two high school “nerds” attempt to create the perfect woman ending up with Kelly LaBrock (schwing). The computer nerd of the film (Wyatt) reaches the maximum he can do with his current equipment and then proceeds to hack into an unnamed system. Cue transitional video with large tapes rolling in the background to denote activity. Yes kids this was how data was both saved and loaded on corporate systems in the dark age of the eighties.

Link: [Weird Science on IMDB]

Real Genius (1985)

A young Val Kilmer (schwing) plays Chris Knight a genius at an institution for the gifted who is duped into making a military laser (because lasers were cool in the eighties). Along the way they meet the guy who lives in their closet Lazlo who helps them alter the destination of the test. During the film you’ll see lots of cool kit, lasers, ice that turns to gas, fun uses for liquid nitrogen, eighties style graphics, some social engineering and an interesting use for popcorn.

Link: [Real Genius on IMDB]

Wargames (1983)

Matthew Broderick plays a whizz kid who hacks the school computer, first of all changing his grades and then takes things further by hacking into the government security and plays a game with it. Trouble is the game he chooses is called “Global Thermo Nuclear War” and the game is not a game after all but a simulation that goes horribly wrong and causes a real reaction. Switching to Defcon 1…. BOOM

Link: [Wargames on IMDB]

Short Circuit (1986)

Ahh… I love this film so much. Although it does not involve a lot of hacking the genius of the film (played by Steve Gutenburg) does try to hack into the robot that has gone rogue due to a power spike. The robot names itself Johnny 5 and goes on a journey of discovery trying to prove that he is actually alive to avoid being dismantled by the military. I also forgot to mention the presence of Ally Sheedy (schwing)

Link [Short Circuit on IMDB]

Electric Dreams (1984)

If you have seen the more recent and awesome film called Her, just imagine almost the same film but in the 1980’s with more hair, cheesy pop and a big trak! Yes the computer who is named Edgar starts to get jealous of the new relationship Miles is getting into with Madeline who had moved in upstairs. At one point Miles think it’s a good idea to pour champagne onto the computer which only makes things worse. We here at GeekOut must state that pouring liquids onto electronics is generally a bad idea and not something we would advise. However this film is very cheesy but has a place in geek history and on top of that has a great soundtrack including a classic by Phil Oakey from the Human League.

Link: [Electric Dreams on IMDB]

The Wizard (1989)

Fred Savage plays Corey Woods whose brother Jimmy turns out to be awesome at Video games. They both run away from home and compete in what I think is the worlds first video game competition ever on film. It’s a terrible film in my opinion but really was a vision for what has only in the past 5 years or so become a reality where we now have E-Sports channels. You cannot watch The Wizard without acknowledging that the whole thing was basically a massive marketing move by Nintendo in the quest to promote a new game. I’d like to say they did well to disguise the whole thing like a film and the storyline was fantastic but that would be a big fat stack of lies. I do need to point out that the film includes the rarely seen and utterly useless Powerglove. Oh… Christian Slater is also in this film (schwing)

Link [The Wizard on IMDB]

Tron (1982)

You can’t mention eighties computer movies without talking about Tron. Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges) ex-employee of ENCOM takes it upon himself to find evidence that the corporation stole four video games he created. When hacking into the system something goes horribly wrong and Kevin is consumed by the computer and has to literally fight his way through as a program. It was genius back then and the 2010 reboot of the film was actually quite good which in itself was a rare thing.

Link [Tron on IMDB]

D.A.R.Y.L

A normal boy is dropped off in the middle of the woods and found by a childless couple. However this is no ordinary boy and before you ask: no, he is not made of wood and no his nose does not grow when he lies! Nope, Daryl is actually a super sophisticated robot that is now trying to be recalled by the military. What was it with the military in the eighties? Daryl learns human socialisation, human traits and emotional responses. I remember watching this film as a kid and being utterly captivated by it.

Link [D.A.R.Y.L on IMDB]

Superman 3 (1983)

Probably the worst of the three superman movies in my opinion but has some classic geekery in it. Gus Gorman played by Richard Pryor has a hidden talent of being a computer genius. Working for Wealthy businessman Ross Webster (think Donald Trump) he manages to bypass the internal computer security with ease. So next time you think the government is taking too much in tax, log onto the HMRC website and when your asked for a security code type in “OVERRIDE ALL SECURITY” it’s sure to work, the eighties tell us so.

Link [Superman 3 on IMDB]

Robocop (1987)

When Robocop was released it was vastly talked about  for being graphically violent and hard hitting. I was only 12 at the time it was out in the cinema and rated 18 I had to wait a fair few years before I was allowed to see it. You know I think it still stands tall to this day as a film that broke boundaries. Alex Murphy a regular cop on the mean streets of a futuristic Detroit gets shot by a street gang and then rebuilt into the worlds first cyborg policeman. The geekery is all over this film from the moment they begin to put Alex back together to the unveiling of the ED-209 mech run by the greedy OCP Corporation. This was another film that received a reboot in 2014 but there was something missing from it in my opinion and the original for me still stands as a better film. all together now “Dead or alive you are coming with me”, “Your move.. creep”

Link [Back to the Future 1 & Back To The Future 2 on IMDB]


 

I’m sure there are a lot of films I have missed, if you can think of any to add to our list then drop us a comment. If you’re one of our younger readers and have not seen these films then we encourage you to go and check them out. Then come back and tell us just how bad/ you thought they were.

[1] Schwing


Card Games

There’s something weirdly therapeutic about shuffling a deck of cards, and for enthusiasts of all stripes there’s an ever increasing number of games to choose from across a wide variety of genres, so many in fact that I for one do not remember the last time I played a game with the classic four-suite deck. The combination of a randomised deck, the resource-management elements of a hand, and the sheer volume of options afforded by the printed space on cards make them a versatile utility for any game designer.

But with such an array of choices, how do you know what’s right for you?

Decks

The structure of decks, and how those structures are reached can vary wildly:

Pre-built decks are the most common by far, and most frequently multiple decks control different elements of the game. For example, in Munchkin the Door deck describes your encounters, and the Treasure deck rewards you for your efforts. In Bucket of Doom (a recent acquisition of mine) players are required to formulate escape plans drawn from the Situation deck using one of their Item cards as the most essential component. Or to take it one step further, in Boss Monster, you have a Dungeon deck with which to built your evil lair, a Spell deck that grants you special powers, and all players are at the mercy of the Hero deck.

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Deck building games most commonly feature a single deck around which the entire game focusses, which is slowly divided amongst the players. The DC Deck Building Game is a favourite of mine, in which players begin with only a handful of powers, and must gather more powers, as well as allies, equipment, and even a few enemies in order to strengthen their chances of securing better cards as the game progresses, and work their way through the super-villains. Smash-Up takes a different course, where the deck is built right at the beginning by combining any two of the large choice of factions together, using complimentary tactics to compete for control of the bases.

CCGs (collectible card games) offer players a library of cards from which they can collect and horde, and building a deck from what cards they amass from booster packs and boxes. Whoever can build the best deck wins. This type of game lends itself to victory through study, knowledge, and yes, more than a little cash spent on cards that can assure victory, and this can create a rather elitist type of gamer, or just a bunch of people who really enjoy testing their strategic thinking.

The real beauty of the deck structure is that it is easy to expand upon. As a perfect example, Cards Against Humanity having such a simple structure allows the creators to bring out new decks based on what’s funny to a geographical area (or hand us some lazy British stereotypes, cheers lads) or simply add more material to keep the game fresh. Smash Up gains more factions to mix and mash, and CCG’s expand upon the ever growing market, changing with the time so as to prevent older players gaining too strong an advantage over new players. It never quite works out like that though…

Hands

Your only resource is the cards in your hand. Games may differ, changing the way cards are played depending on other elements of the game, but ultimately you can only control what you do with what you have. Card quality can vary, and you can end up with some hands offering you next to no choices, while others grant you significant bonuses in any situation. You’re frequently limited as to how many cards you can hold, and almost always limited on how many you replenish, so managing this precious resource is a tough balancing act of weighing pros and cons of each play, calculating the best order, but leaving yourself prepared for what may come.

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It’s little wonder it can take some people an hour to make up their minds.

The random nature of a well-shuffled deck can be a blessing and a curse. Some players may find that the cards they draw just aren’t good enough, or are stuck with the agony of choosing which of their incredible choices would be best used in the moment, only to find another, better situation arise soon after. Magic the Gathering players will be familiar with the terms Mana-Screwed or -Flooded referring to having too little or too much of the essential resource card. Fans of Cards Against Humanity or Dixit will know the sting of picking up “The Perfect Card” the moment they made an inadequate play.

This level of chaos can put some people off playing, but sometimes it’s best just to make the best of what you have and hope for a change of fortunes. And if it never happens you can always blame the cards.


Microsoft’s Twitter Bot Backfires Spectacularly

Microsoft Tay

The media was abuzz for approximately 24 hours when Microsoft released a Twitter bot and then subsequently shut it down. What a quick turn of events this was, but hey – If you take everything with a pinch of salt, it’s amusing yet somewhat disturbing all at the same time. Join Timlah as we look through what Microsoft did, all in the name of a fictional teenage girl they called Tay.

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What’s On At GeekOut

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Here at GeekOut South-West, we actively encourage one another to work on projects, or to attend events – and hey, that’s exactly what I’m going to chat to you today. Join Timlah and Joel as we look through our upcoming activities and events that we just have to burst out and scream about!

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YouTube Gaming – Recording and Editing

I helped to write this one! – Check it out on The Mental Attic :)

The Mental Attic

As you may know, for the past few months I’ve been recording Let’s Play videos under the name LawfulGeek Plays. I’ve had a few fun runs and will hopefully have a lot more in the future, as I really enjoy it and I’m learning a lot, not just on hosting videos but the editing of them as well.

If you’re thinking of doing this yourself, there’s a good chance you won’t know where to start, or you might doubt your skills. The only way to truly know if you’re suited for this—and I still don’t know, by the way, maybe I really suck at it—is to give it a go and see what happens, but on the software side, editing and recording, maybe my good buddy Timlah (from GeekOut South-West) and I can give you a hand.

These are the tools we use to record our videos and…

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Top 10 Characters Who Came Back From The Dead

GeekOut Top 10s

It’s Easter time! Therefore, it’s time to celebrate in the only ways we know how. With a Top 10 that’s very Easter themed – You could have chosen rabbits, or the more literal Easter Eggs, but no, you guys chose for our Top 10 list of Characters Who Came Back From The Dead. In some ways, I guess we should be thanking you for this one, as it’s not only topical, but it made us think.

Some of the characters in the list are incredibly well known, some of the entries may actually shock you. Don’t worry though, we’ve got the defibrillator at the ready to resuscitate any of you who may need bringing back during our list. But don’t worry: When there’s an end, there’s always the chance of rebirth. No Isaac from The Binding of Isaac fame, you’re not on this list.


Top 10

#10 – GLaDOS – Portal

GLaDOS

Aha, so you thought you killed off the AI of the Portal series in the first game, well think again you puny meatbag. GLaDOS makes a very dramatic exit at the end of the first game, where you are destroying the very cores that make her… Well her! GLaDOS is truly the reason the Portal series was able to continue, not Chell.

Coming in at number 10 only, because although it certainly was good to see her return from the “dead”, it was never truly confirmed that you killed her (even though it seemed like you had), plus the moment Portal 2 was announced, we all knew she’d be back. Plus, if nothing else, she gets a nudge onto the list for her beautiful singing voice. Ellen McLain, the voice of GLaDOS, is also a downright lovely individual who we had the pleasure of meeting and listening to at last years Kitacon Invasion.

#9 – Frieza – Dragonball Z

Frieza Final Form

Frieza’s name was known all throughout the galaxy as the most fearsome warrior of all. He was able to level whole planets, barely using any effort at all. This intergalactic terrorist would incite fear upon those who gazed eyes on him, as well as having a rather flamboyant fighting force (Ginyu Force) at his disposal. Frieza seemed like he had it all, until he was cut into a million pieces, had parts of his body disintegrated and then left for dead on planet Namek. Talk about having a rough day.

But then, very shortly after the Frieza/Namek saga was over, we went back to Earth and lo and behold, Frieza returns! This time, he was on Earth! What ever could the world do– Oh, okay, a guy from the future comes along and in one slash with a sword manages to do what took Goku and friends what must have been eight episodes. Still, Frieza wasn’t finished there – Well he was, until very recently. Last year, in the film DragonBall Z: Resurrection ‘F’. This time, he seems to not be a robot, but golden! Now you’ve seen his true final form? Possibly?

#8 – Brian – Family Guy

This one was incredibly shocking and highly controversial. In fact, I’m not going to make and mistakes about it: I somewhat grew tired of Family Guy a while back. There’s only so much that you can take of what is effectively just constant running gags, which grow staler than a loaf of bread that you’ve left for only five minutes on a table in the Sahara Desert. I might be being rather descriptive of how stale some of the jokes can get, but there’s one thing this series did really well. It hit all of us right in the feels.

The very controversial episode of Brian’s death, aptly named Life of Brian, was actually somewhat hard to watch. The video above shows the clip of Brian’s death, so a small warning goes out to you – It’s a little bit brutal. The episode managed to handle the death of a main character really well. It didn’t resort to wacky humour about it, but instead, it felt as if the series was about to lose a sense of what it was – Same as how many of us feel whenever we lose someone or a pet that’s so near and dear to us. This episode stirred so many people, that a change.org petition was started and eventually Brian’s death was ret conned, proving the character was indeed loved and would have been sorely missed.

I wonder how Family Guy would look today if they kept the replacement dog..?

#7 – Jason Voorhees – Friday the Thirteenth

Friday-the-13th

The films series that just won’t die features one of our all time favourite immortal nemeses, the masked slasher Jason Voorhees. While the film franchise has limped, sagged and very nearly collapsed under the burden of abuse from varying directors there’s an underlying character to the mighty butcher of rampant teens, generally lying under the surface of a lake, but he’s seen as something of a representation of puritanical oppression. Not a lot oppressing him though.

The source of his immortality has never truly been explained, mostly that a series of flukes, assorted magicks (with a “k”) and prolonged periods of time spent in suspended animation have all contributed heavily to his prolonged existence so that he may foreshorten that of others. Trips to Hell and outer-space can’t hold him back, not even failed titles, spinoffs, or lousy versus films can keep him from rebooting.

#6 – Spawn

It was either him or Ghost Rider, it’s always a tough call when you have two incredible characters who have been offered a deal from the devil, and while we can forgive Nicolas Cage for a rather… different interpretation, we still love Spawn just that little bit more.

Maybe it’s the vast array of powers, challenging Malebolgia himself to mortal combat, OH! and Mortal Kombat! Al Simmons is just a more awesome character, a grim silhouette in the stereotypical stormy night that casts every bit as much fear as the flaming skull of vengeance, who also got a legendary cartoon series to boot. But what about his return from death? If you read his entry in the Top 10 Unfortunate Heroes you’ll know it’s not a happy tale, it’s a hellish contract born of a need for revenge, and to save the life of the one he loves, but it slowly becomes a mission, a duty to the forces of light born on the shoulders of a very dark soldier.

#5 – Harry Potter

Harry Potter

In a tale of epic struggle against what is effectively overcoming the unspeakable ultimate evil, Harry Potter makes it onto our list as a surprising entrant. After all, he manages to defeat Voldemort*, doesn’t he? So how can it be that The Boy Who Lived who ended up being The Boy Who Died Then Came Back To Life Again Or Something? Well, it’s all down to the details in this one, but Harry does indeed die.

He is a Horcrux, one that Voldemort himself accidentally created. The irony was that Harry had to kill himself in order to destroy one of the Horcruxes. Hey, everything in this series was entwined in some way, even the Golden Snitch that Harry was given by Dumbledore makes a very important appearance during this part. When Harry dies however, a lot of the story really comes together here. The Horcruxes are falling very quickly at this point and of course, time to go and defeat Voldemort once and for all.

*Or y’know, Neville Longbottom, the series whipping boy, is the one who ends up beheading the snake in a rather amazing scene in the films, but whatever!

#4 – Solomon Grundy – Batman

Solomon Grundy
Born on a Monday

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Lives for a week, a tale of tragedy that takes us a total of seven days and – in the case of Cyrus Gold – ultimately ends in reincarnation. You see, the immortal Grundy from the DC universe is an ancient and wealthy banker from days of yore whose carriage sinks into a peat-bog that supposedly contained one of DC’s infamous retcon devices, a Lazarus pit. The rejuvenating properties infuse Grundy, leaving him incapable of permanent death, or even coherent thought.

The pits are known to damage the mind and soul of those they help, whilst making the body incredibly powerful. To someone with the self-discipline or narrative importance of Ra’s Al Ghul the effects can be mitigated with rigorous self control and suitable sacrifice. For Solomon Grundy, it leaves a mindless giant capable of crushing a man with a shrug. Batman actually enjoys Grundy for the chance to cut-loose and get to some real damage dealing, despite the fact that the giant is reborn far larger and stronger than before.

He does rather lack some of the guile of Batman’s better villains, being incapable of articulating much more than the one rhyme that was skipping through his head as he suffocated to death in the mystic swamps.

#3 – Barbossa – Pirates of the Caribbean

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Although some credit must go to Captain Jack Sparrow for being dragged back from the locker against his somewhat shattered will, someone had to step up who knew how to get to the other side. And as it happens Jack recently killed someone who’s as good as he is at not staying dead for long.

It took a large crew and a whole lot of persuading to get Sparrow back from death, Barbossa made one sweet deal and came striding back to enjoy some juicy apples and revenge… juicy, juicy revenge. During his captaincy of the Black Pearl he got dangerously close to death before Sparrow and Turner finished the job, but as it turns out Tia Dalma/Calypso has a soft spot for the old sea dog.

More and more we’re seeing film series leave us with cliffhangers to drag us back to the cinema, but in this incredibly short scene there was more excitement drummed up for the third instalment of the trilogy than in any other series – at least that I’ve ever seen. Who knew a pair of boots would be such a welcome sight?

#2 – Gandalf – Lord of the Rings

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

Well, I guess Gandalf the Grey was right – The Balrog certainly didn’t get to pass Gandalf and his temper tantrum of turmoil. It ends up that Gandalf shouting those immortal words would also be Gandalf the Grey’s last. The whip reaches up, lashes around the leg of Gandalf and pulls him down… Well okay, it wasn’t his last, as he manages to call everyone fools because they aren’t flying. I mean for crying out loud, Hobbitses can’t even fly, Gandalf, you senile old guy.

Ahem, I digress. Later in the film, Gandalf makes a very lovely re-appearance, as Gandalf the White. Apparently, when this wizard dies, he manages to fall into a vat of Vanish Stain Removal. Enough joking though, Gandalf’s death was not in vain – He comes back way better than ever before and it’s one of the franchise’s most iconic moments.

#1 – Kenny – South Park

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Are you really surprised? Seriously?

Kenny infamously dies once an episode in early seasons of the world’s most even-handedly offensive cartoon series, it became the most widely known running gag in a series for a decade, and had a generation learning how to swear loudly in the face of death. They attempted to kill Kenny off permanently in an attempt to kill a joke they’d grown sick of, before demurely bringing him back in the same off-hand fashion they’d been doing for years.

As time progresses we learn that in fact Kenny’s parents conducted some strange ritual with elder beings to cause him to be reincarnated constantly, a superpower he uses to become the cloaked immortal hero Mysterion. In fact one of the most harrowing episodes of South Park was the episode in which we learn of how alarmingly aware of his immortality Kenny is, holding a gun to his head and screaming “Remember this time! You have to remember!”, but no one ever does, no one can mourn a child who never dies.

Bastards.


Honourable Mentions

Everything comes to an end, but not the characters in our Top 10 list! Well some of them kind of do, but they don’t all simply end there. But the below extra characters are also known for their ability to just come back from the dead. At least they’ve got a chance to redeem themselves in our Honourable Mentions list!

Dracula

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Depending on the version of Dracula that you look into, this vampire seems to just never stop dying and coming back to life. Interestingly, the state of how vampires sleep in the story of Dracula is known as “Death-Sleep”, as the vampires appear to be dead with their eyes wide open during their slumber, so if we take that into account as well, then hey, Dracula dies every damn night. But that’s not exactly true now is it?

I mean if we look at the Castlevania series, the amount of times Dracula has legitimately been killed is quite staggering – Yet he always manages to come back for some rather unspecific reason. “Oh we resurrected him”, “oh we’ve got to kill him again.” Who knows why he thinks it’s a good idea to keep fighting the Belmonts, but hey, Dracula has to have something to do in his unlife, right? I guess having a hobby is good enough in his world.

Player Character – Video Games

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I had the most terrible dream, I was plummeting to my death, nothing but darkness and my own echoing screams, and then suddenly I was assaulted by descending numbers. I don’t think they reached zero because I woke up somewhere near where it all took place. I’m almost reluctant to try and make the leap again… but the world will not save itself, and I don’t see anyone else around here who isn’t trying to kill me.

From the Hyperion New-U stations in Borderlands to the wave of bloody carnage that ends every successful run in Super Meat Boy, we’ve grown all too accustomed to the ability to just get up and try again. Perhaps the return of the roguelike owes itself to our newfound nonchalance in the face of death, because it can be hard to make death something to be feared, while at the same time allowing the player to get straight back into the fray without the tedium of starting from scratch.

From an allotted maximum number of lives, to money and experience penalties, defeat is not without its sting, but that doesn’t make it any less funny when your character dies and walks it off.


Oh we slayed this list! But lo and behold, when one goes down, it simply comes back within a week’s time much like Solomon Grundy. But now it’s time for you to decide what our list will be returning as next week. It’s time for you to help us pick next week’s iteration of our Top 10 list.

As always, thanks for reading our list. We love writing these and as they are still thoroughly well received, we’ll keep doing these until you guys say “stop with the Top 10 lists!” Let us know what you thought – Are these characters deserving of this list? Do you think we’ve missed any characters that deserve a special mention? Would you have reordered this list in any way? Please leave your comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for always being excellent!


Board Game Review: Welcome to the Dungeon

Welcome to the Dungeon logo

Co-operative to a point, Welcome to the Dungeon is a game about deceit and peril for one unlucky adventurer. But everyone who plays this game is the same hero, as you all vie to psyche one another out and enter the Dungeon. Timlah investigates one of the most recent additions to our collection of games.

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Review – Daredevil Season 2

I made a remark last week about this being The Defenders season 3 and I feel like I was right.

Our story picks up in the aftermath of Kingpin’s arrest, and the gangs of New York are scrambling for power despite the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen taking down their thugs every night in his shiny new suit. It’s causing some very serious issues at work now that Foggy knows he’s the vigilante putting fear of the devil into the low-lives flooding the streets, and his busy evening are making the practice of law increasingly hard work. Fortunately for Matt Murdock, there’s a new player on the scene, you may have heard… (more…)


History of Hacking games

I often think, before indulging in a series of reviews, we need to take a little look into history to see what has come before it. We did this with our series on Dungeon Keeper and now I’m choosing to do something similar with games that revolve around Hacking. So join me in a little history lesson about the first few games that simulate the process of hacking and attempt to make it ‘fun’.

We start our historic trip with a game called System 15,000 which was released in 1984. It was originally made for the Commodore 64 and later ported to both the ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro. Now remember that I have not actually played this game for about 30+ years so forgive me if my memory is a little hazy. I admit that I did have to do some digging to find more public information about the game which included the Wikipedia entry. According to that System 15,000 is actually the first game to depict hacking in any way. You play a friend of a friend who is commissioned to retrieve the missing sum of $1.5m from a company. In the instructions you are given a single lead in which to start with and from thereon in as Sherlock Holmes might say “The game is afoot”. The game then simulated dialling into various BBS systems in order to find out information where this money may be. I admit that I never actually finished the game, but I do remember very distinctly there was one point where it simulated your system being investigated by an external entity. During this time your not actually allowed to use your system and it makes you wait for an incredibly long time to continue, it was most odd.

System 15,000 dial screen on Spectrum

System 15,000 – Dial screen – Spectrum

In 1985 we find a game called Hacker which was released on a fair amount of the systems available at the time. Hacker took a very direct approach with it’s storyline, the cassette inlay had instructions on how to load the game and that was pretty much it. The World Of Spectrum archive page will give you the exact copy that went into the actual inlay. I have to admit I do love how this was done, and so did a lot of other people because the game was very critically acclaimed. Eventually you gain control of a robot that traverses tunnels deep within the earth guiding it towards some bits of documentation that have been shredded and distributed for security reasons. Your robot visited spies dotted across the world to acquire these bits of the documentation, all of which you would have to bargain with using money or one of the various other tools you gain in the game. It’s of note that the Wikipedia article mentions that different copies of the same game have different items that the spies want which is very inventive gameplay for the time. Like many of the games in the 80’s the game had no save so if you failed then you had to start from the beginning, failure was hard in the 80’s.

Commodore 64 Hacker Screenshot

Hacker – Using the tunnel – C64

Just a year later Activision followed up on the success of the first game and released a sequel Hacker II. It was notably more difficult than the original and once again you’re put in charge of controlling the robot to retrieve the “Doomsday Papers”. It follows on from the first one presuming that you were successful in your task. It appears that the U.S government took an interest in your previous activities and hired you for this particular job against the Soviet Union. Those off you who were alive in the 80’s will remember that the focus on the main threat during that time was Russia whereas in today’s games it’s all about the middle east being the main threat. Once again you are assigned a robot which has been smuggled into a high security Siberian base. Your job is to manipulate the robot through the base using your hacking skills to change the video surveillance system in order to not be spotted by the security guards. The game was again very critically acclaimed for it’s realistic (at the time) looking video system.

Commodore 64 Hacker II screenshot

Hacker II – Video manipulation – C64

Then there was Neuromancer a game based upon the William Gibson novel of the same name but sadly I never actually played it. I am a big fan of Mr Gibson’ work and feel like I have missed out on a part of hacking games history here. Maybe one day somebody will release it as freeware and I can play it.

I have three articles planned where I intend to visit some of the newer iterations of this genre starting in two weeks time. We shall start with Uplink by successful UK developer Introversion Software who you might know from the more recently released Prison Architect. Following that I’m going to look at Hacker Evolution Duality by Romanian developers Exosyphen Studios. Finally we will take on indie developed Hacknet, made by a single developer in Adelaide, Australia going by the name of Team Fractal Alligator.

Have you played any of the games we have mentioned or any other games that focus around Hacking? We’d be really interested to know about them, what made you play them and what your experience was with them? Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook and Twitter pages.