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Thanos Of The MCU

So far Marvel’s roster of villains has been good enough. Outstanding examples are few, but they rarely detract from the quality of the film and have never been so bland, poorly motivated, and misinterpreted as to match up to Jesse Eisenburg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor!* Most appear for a single film, and are gone for good by the end because most of the heroes in the cinematic universe aren’t so foolish as to keep their rogue’s gallery imprisoned, they just go for full blown obliteration.

Two villains have never completely faded. Loki has stuck around as  beloved fan favourite and loose moral canon, and because Tom Hiddleston is having too much fun with the role. The other has yet to take his place in the front lines of action, but has been pulling the strings of Loki and Ronan the Accuser, and perhaps more since the earliest days of the Cinematic Universe. The Mad Titan, Thanos. (more…)


Robot Wars – Season 10, Best Final Ever

Spoilers let’s just get that out of the way now because I have to talk about this in detail. (more…)


GeekOut Shrewsbury November ’17

It seemed like such a long wait for it to be all over so soon…

One last gasp for air before we dive into the cold waters of Christmas Cheer, November 30th was GeekOut Shrewsbury, and we have had the biggest turnout since the beginning, way back in… um…

March! Wow, my memory is terrible. Let’s get into what little I recall of the gloriously blurry hurricane of geekiness that was GeekOut Shrewsbury the ninth, complete with photographic evidence. (more…)


GeekOut Shrewsbury in 2018

If you’re reading this on the day of publishing, you should already be on your way to GeekOut Shrewsbury, you can read this tomorrow or something just get to Monty’s Tower! If you’re reading this from Friday onwards, or if you are for whatever reason incapable of getting to GeekOut in Shrewsbury, then you have a lot to look forward to next year.

Note that all the details listed here are subject to minor changes, mostly additions, this is just a trailer after all, the finished product is still in the editing suite. So here I write in the past on the matter of the future, for you to read in the present. Moving swiftly on with the terrible march of time!

January 25th GeekOut Resolutions

We’ll ring in the new year with some pledges to change our ways for the geekier! No, there’ll be no demands to give up your vices or pledges to shed the Christmas-kilos, but why not finally commit to reading that book series you’ve always had your eye on, or digging into that unplayed collection of games in your Steam list? There’s that event you’ve been planning to attend, the cosplay that’s been sat on your to-do list for far too long, and all those films people have been telling you are essential viewing!

It’s time to resolve! In the mean time expect a Geeky Pub Quiz, we’ll be holding them every odd numbered month, gotta change things up from time to time.

February 22nd Sweet Lovecraft

As couples unite under strange stars, dancing to forbidden tunes, so too do the lovelorn yearn for the love that dare not speak its name, for fear of what horrors that name may invoke. Take up the felt-tip pens and assorted craft supplies, and sacrificially pour out your heart into creepy, eldritch, and alien Valentines cards (tentacles not required, but not discouraged).

Brush up on some Lovecraftian horror in February, you may wish to cite the verses found in the Necronomicon to profess your agonised screaming… or whatever emotions you may be feeling at the time.

March 29th March at the Movies

The unrelenting tide of cinema moves us to compose an entire quiz comprised of film and film related media and media that has itself been made into films. Red carpet pending, possible red welcome-mat stand in on hand, we’re on a budget here.

And on the subject of films…

April 26th DC vs Marvel

Fun isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe… but this does put a smile on my face.

The trailer says May, but in the UK it’ll be the day after April’s GeekOut Shrewsbury. Seems like a perfect day to pitch Marvel against DC, villains against villains, heroes against heroes, with the occasional 2000AD or Vision Comics cameo just to muddy the waters. We may or may not have to organise a GeekOut Cinema Trip while we’re on the job.

May 25th May The GeekOut Be With You

Star Wars and science fiction in general will be the focus of May’s quiz and overall event goings-on. If you can tell your Peacekeepers from your Stormtroopers, split your Jedi from your Rangers, and know which boxes to file Cylons and Borg then you’ll be off to a good start. You may also want to look up the meaning of the word Muadib.

June 28th Gamers Gauntlet

Time to run some tournaments. Victories in a variety of games – tabletop and video – will raise you through a bracket to compete for the disappointing prize which may or may not be a gauntlet. The games will be decided based on your votes throughout May and June, so keep an eye on GeekOut South-West for news and your chance to have some input on June’s Gamers Gauntlet.

July 26th Steam Punked

Gather ye round innovators and inventors, you’ll need to have your life’s work ready and on the table to be torn apart by the mustachio’d and judicious judging panel (it’s me). If times are hard, just slap some gears on something. Take your table lamp and show me your Situated Illuminatrix, show me no sofas but your Multicapacitated Respitor might turn heads. It’s the “Stick Some Gears On It” Inventors Fayre!

Class yourself up to the teeth in the latest in retro fashions, technolysed victoriana, top hats and chimney spouts, and sink your teeth into a the months quiz.

August 30th Tengen Toppa GeekOut Lagann

At the height of summer is the height of our untamed power! Kick off from underground and blast straight into the heavens with unrestrained might!

August’s anime themed GeekOut Meet will see us building prototype mechs to take us into the future and into victory, but in accordance with the space we’ll have to work with they shall be small and made predominantly of paper and cardboard.

September 27th Harry Potter and the Shrewsbury Geeks

Back to school, but if we must don uniforms lets at least keep it geeky. Septembers quiz shall be unapologetically strong on the Harry Potter themes, we’ll keep it mostly accessible but there’s no doubt that the Muggles will be disadvantaged. Dress wizardly or witchly for cheeky extra points, and expect September’s Disappointing Prize to be sourced from Labyrinth in Grope Lane.

October 25th Lycanthropic

Bang on full moon too, almost like we planned it that way…

Hallowe’en need not be a theme in it’s own right. It’s filled with potential, and subgenres and possibilities. Nor should we feel restricted to werewolves when the notion of humans becoming carnivorous monsters has been around longer than Anthony Hopkins. Competition and survivors TBD.

November 29th NaNoGeKo

Nearly finished NaNoWriMo?

They say everyone has a book inside them, well we’re not looking to extract the whole thing, just give it a peak at the outside world. Whether you’ve been taking part in National Novel Writing Month or are still in the planning stages, come prepared, or prepared to prepare to write the blurb for that book you’ve always wanted to put to paper. Expect a literary quiz, meaning no fewer than two competitions with prizes to boot! Arrive dressed in a dust jacket and your finest bookmark.

December 27th GiftWrapped GeekOut

Mimicking the annual habits of GeekOut Bristol, we shall be running a Super-Secret Santa, and this is important because we may very well be running the same this year on the 28th! This year we’ll impose a £5 spending limit, next year raising to £5.50 to account for inflation, but deducting fifty pence to account for economic disaster. The task is simple enough: buy a present for someone, you don’t know who. If you put a present in you can take a present out!

Running it in 2018 and in future years will pend the success of running it this year, much the same as GeekOut itself. So far you’ve made the effort that goes into running GeekOut all the more enjoyable. See you later on today, and again next month, and hopefully, all year after that. If you’re enjoying GeekOut then spread the love through Facebook and Meetup.


Unstable Magic

If ever you look upon geeks in hobby shops and coffee places, playing confusing card games and getting heated over nonsensical rules, and thought to yourself “They take a game way too seriously” then the creators of the biggest of those games has an answer for you. Magic: the Gathering, rich in story, wrought with impenetrable rules, and assailed with tournament laws that make all but the geekiest feel saddened, is about to release their first comedy set in thirteen years, the third of the so-called “UN-sets”, Unstable.

So while I wait patiently for my copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything… so very patiently… here’s Wizards of the Coast’s other big product release that has my attention. (more…)


Review – Punisher

Here I admit Netflix had me concerned. The Defenders had been skiing very much downhill in my opinion, with a rapid decline beginning in the second half of Luke Cage ending in a blander than bland Defenders with only a handful of redeemable features. Now the Punisher had been a little underutilised in Daredevil Season 2, but we were still presented with a version of Frank Castle that we fell utterly in love with in Jon Bernthal, a series of his own was inevitable with the fan support.

Creating a series to appeal to the fans, outside of the initial plot, little to no pre-planning to work him into the larger, very successful Marvel Mediaverse… Yeah, I think I was entitled to my doubts, but we have rather proved that cutting yourself loose of a shared universe can make life a hell of a lot easier. (more…)


MCM Birmingham

I don’t go to MCM comicons very often these days, despite living only ten minutes down the road from the Telford event it’s a rare occasion for me to have a weekend off, and they never seem to line up. This month circumstances so happened that I was able to arrange the day off* and so I went with a few friends to Birmingham NEC to get nerdy for a few hours. This does of course mean I’m only just getting through the Punisher, but it’s been worth the wait.

First of all let me say a quick thanks to the admins who corrected my minor screw-up, after accidentally buying a ticket for Sunday I emailed them to ask for a swap, and they had it done by morning. Despite the website saying no refunds or transfers, it was apparently nothing to set me up properly. Cheers guys.

The NEC was host to three events this weekend, and not only did that make for the most crowded train ride I’ve even been on, it also meant MCM was relocated to the far end of the building which is something of a new experience for me, despite having been at the NEC or the nearby Hilton at least a dozen times, I think this weekend was my first experience of the halls at the far end. Perhaps the halls are bigger? Certainly more labyrinthine, usually I can sweep through a comicon twice in in an hour, this year I’m still not sure I saw it all.

Important points, if you’re enjoying the newly rebooted Robot Wars then you might be interested in seeing the season 1 champion Apollo on tour with the robot fighting arena that pops up at every MCM (at least the ones I’ve attended). There are always a host of celebrities to meet, not least of which Warwick Davis and some of the Red Dwarf cast, Ian McElhinney, and Virginia Hey, and those are only the faces I saw. With time and money on the line however, I had to prioritise my Christmas shopping, no time for queues and autographs.

The advantage of having predominantly nerdy friends is that finding something for everyone is easy; the hard part of shopping at an MCM is deciding how much to spend, by and large the answer is too much. I notice this year there has been a distinct upswing in the number of custom Lego minifigures and randomised loot boxes, but sincerely I can’t say that I noticed anything lacking. Anime, comics, memorabilia, video games, film, cosplay… possibly every order of geeky interest is always solidly and massively represented.

I had the opportunity to say hi to a couple of friendly faces, at least one member of the Kitacon committee (Hi Claire!) and an artist friend from work, Faiza, who dropped me off at her stall in the artist’s alley to chat to her sister about D&D. Unexpected for sure, but good conversation is good conversation.

Ok, so the level of engagement is not quite so deep as one of the big anime conventions, but the appeal is universal, and this close to Wales then Birmingham is the biggest and the best.

And I’ve managed to check two more names of the Christmas list. I don’t care that it’s November, more fool you for not starting months ago.


*The caveat being that I’ve lost quite a substantial chunk of my weekly games night just as the campaign is heating up.


Review – Stick It To The Man

I’m not much of a platformer, I dabbled a little in Sonic in college, got on ok with Little Big Planet, but just occasionally I’ll spot one that appeals to my sensibilities. Stick It To The Man somehow wormed its way from Steam’s front page, onto my wishlist, onto my library…

Story

Ray suffers head trauma on a professional level, standing in the path of falling objects in order to get some practical data on hard-hat effectiveness. It’s a noble and pointless profession that calls into doubt everything you experience. His world is flat and cardboard, and filled with bizarre characters and broken physics: cars that drive vertically, triplets who are fused together beyond merely being conjoined, and actual ghosts who attempt to lobotomise the living. Things get weird when an alien crash-lands onto Ray’s head, and gives him strange psychic powers.

With his strange, pink, spaghetti arm stretching from his forehead, he reads the minds of nearby people, tears away walls of paper, hop from platform to platform, and gathers stickers that are oddly representative of physical or psychological objects and concepts that are the basis of your inventory. You have to run and jump through a cardboard world, a city infested with agents hunting for you and the alien in your brain, and the inside of your own head to confront the hijacking alien and your fairly boring past.

Characters are pretty one dimensional, but they’re literally two dimensional, and there’s nothing here to take seriously in the slightest. The comedy is a little on the nose in places, in fact it may be a little over the top on the self-reference and fourth wall breaking, but it’s more than enjoyable enough to keep dragging me along for another chapter because I feel like this game has surprises for me before it’s over.

Style

The off-colour and distorted characters running through a world of roughly cut cardboard, crayon drawings, and stickers that are falling off at the edges give a toy-like feel that brings to mind Little Big Planet. Psychonauts has its fingerprints solidly on Stick It, the art style is strongly reminiscent, as are the outlandish characters, and a comparison is inevitable when dealing with a puzzle-solving platformer with a telepathy theme. If you’re looking for further proof, just keep your eyes peeled for a taxidermied Double-Fine easter egg.

The animation is fairly clean, it gets a little ropy as objects bend and twist, but there’s no realism to uphold that would break immersion. Ray hangs a lampshade on the outlandishness of the world straight away by commenting on how he forgets how much jumping he has to do to get from home to work and back. It leaves you feeling immediately at home in a world that shouldn’t function, and you can forgive a lot of the bizarre logic, like passing objects to and from thought bubbles and charging a battery in the mind of a patient undergoing electroshock therapy.

Death is resolved by having a replacement of yourself printed at your most recent checkpoint.

Gameplay

I like a decent puzzle solver, one that rewards observation and deduction. Failing that I’ll take something relaxing that requires a moderate amount of thought, even if you’re working towards a punchline. For a game that spends so much time in brains it’s not very intellectually taxing, and most of the puzzles can be resolved with a “blunt object” approach of simply charging onward, thoroughly exploring, and trying everything you collect with everything you can interact with until something… well, sticks.

Between the mind reading, barrelling around the inside of your own head, and helping people with their lives, you spend intervening moments evading the goons of the vague-yet-menacing government agency who are out to arrest, detain, electrocute, and otherwise inconvenience you in an effort to retrieve the alien parasitically piggybacking in your cerebellum. They ramp up the tension, and give you a few moments of earnest platforming, making you jump and run through the cardboard city. You can use their own thoughts against them as a weapon to confuse or disable them temporarily, but for the most part you’ve just got to get out the way, and quickly.

There are a few moments where cut scenes occur too frequently. They’re short enough, but when you’ve walked no more than three steps from one to another you might as well wonder why they bothered, and more infuriatingly it’s for comical moments that serve no purpose whatsoever, and not even for the best jokes, which are rather well hidden and worth doing some extra exploring to find.

In short there’s nothing groundbreaking to be found here, but as a casual game that’s enjoyable without being overly demanding. It’s also worth the odd chuckle in between the more frustrating moments. I just broke out of a mental asylum, and things are starting to get very good! Worth picking up for sure, especially if you’re looking for something to tide you over while the tortuously long wait for Psychonauts 2 drags on.


The Tick vs. The Tick

Ben Edlund’s big blue hero has returned for a third outing onto the small screen, this time through Amazon Prime! You may have seen the pilot last year with Peter Serafinowicz donning the cerulean onesie and antennae, and now we have as far as episode six, certainly enough to start drawing comparisons between both the ’90s cartoon, but more importantly the 2001 short series with Patrick Warburton.

Let me say that I have loved the Tick in every iteration thus far, and to this day I haven’t worked out if he’s a parody of superheroes or just plain funny. For someone so dim he is shockingly verbose and oddly philosophical, despite espousing philosophies that simply don’t work in the real world, especially if you’re not bulletproof or unfeasibly strong like long-suffering and unwilling sidekick Arthur. So with my heart on my sleeve instead of in my chest where it should be, let’s start by looking at our live-action adaptions of that jovial giant of justice.

Critics! You face The Tick! (more…)


Toronto’s Dungeon Master For Hire

I recently learned that there is a gentleman in Canada is serving the greater Toronto area as a Dungeon Master for Hire…

Don’t I just feel like a complete idiot right about now? (more…)