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Posts tagged “Comedy

MARVELus at the Bristol Improv Theatre on February 2nd

Looking for something different to do on a Saturday night? Love a good bit of comedy? A fan of Marvel? Well then we’ve got just the thing for you! The Bristol Improv Theatre are proudly sharing the comedy duo, The Just Us League. If you’ve been looking for an alternative form of comedy that combines both of your love of Marvel films and improv comedy, then this is the show for you. Before you make your mind up, why not check out the Just Us League and see more about the show?

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Memes And The Goon Show – Nothing Is Original

No, nothing is original, because if you go back far enough and dig deep enough you can always find one thing becoming another. Ideas have an ecology in the same way that living creatures do, passing their memetics down from one generation to the next, memes prove successful according to the society in which they thrive, and vanishing where they fail. Occasionally something ancient will rear its head and find a niche, like an intellectual coelacanth, or a pattern will prove so utterly successful that it will reappear in varying forms from generation to generation, like the shark or crocodile.

We all know internet memes, surrealist non sequitur humour, comedy born of masses of minds throwing spaghetti at the internet and seeing what sticks. In so many of today’s memes you can still see the patterns left behind by the Advice Dogs, notably the top and bottom framing font in white Impact with a black outline, and that may still be instantly recognisable there are people joining the internet today who wouldn’t recognise an Insanity Wolf if it stuffed them in a blender and drank the n00b smoothie that poured out. The badly spelled “He Protecc”, you can still see the heritage of Rage Comics, and even the Lolcats that preceded them.

There’s a line of surrealism in humour, the kind of comedy that is seemingly born of chaos and irrationality, through The Mighty Boosh, Reeves and Mortimer, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, back to the days of radio comedy, the Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Peter Sellers classic, The Goon Show.

This is comedy of clever stupidity, a fast paced hurricane of bizarre humour, a few well timed misunderstandings and a subversion of expectations, then a curveball thrown into the plot before a punchline that lands like a damp napkin, an anticlimax to completely subvert the very idea of a traditional narrative, but even they had their patterns and running gags.

The doltish Neddy Seagoon would inevitably fall prey to the criminal machinations of Jim Moriarty and Grytpype-Thynne, the lad Bluebottle would get killed in a blundering and obvious fashion, and Eccles would be told to shut up by himself. These things can be predicted, unlike a competition for a land-speed record in a Wurlitzer pipe organ, or the native britons halting war with the Roman invaders for “rough play”.

Give an episode or two a listen, they’re available in vast numbers on YouTube, and you’ll hear the inspiration behind so many comedy greats of today, the reoccurring gags and characters, the erratic tones of speech and rapid fire delivery. You can even hear the mark upon internet meme humour. If you trace it further back we might have a solid explanation for ancient knights doing battle with giant snails.

Nothing is original. A friend of mine engaged me on the topic of infinity a few months ago, and his sister rather tritely observed what a foolish errand it was. I don’t know why he chose the Matrix as his example as something that has a definite beginning and an end, and yet he could barely finish the sentence before I was asking where the Matrix began? Was it on the day of release, the start of filming, in the writing? Or could it be in all of the works that inspired it, the misinterpreted works of Jean Baudrillard, the philosophies and religions, the anime, the sci-fi, all the contributing factors the have their origins extending from the nineties all the way back to year 0HE and the dawn of culture? All of human history building to one film that has in turn gone on to inspire hundreds, maybe even thousands of other works.

Nothing is original, no, not even this article, which started as a half baked idea at 23:00 the night before publishing as I idly re-watched the Punisher and thought “Damn, I need to write something” and instead shovelling Christmas shortbread into my face. It’s not new to say that there are “no new ideas” to be found any more, nor is it new to liken the spread of thoughts and ideas to the spread and mutation of species. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating thing to look at media as a breeding ground for ideas, and to see their populations rise and fall.


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 – Drag Me To Hell

In 2009, Sam Raimi released the horror film he wrote with brother Ivan before taking to work on the Spider-Man franchise…

Did you ever see a horror film that made you howl with laughter but still left you creeped out? Because that’s Drag Me To Hell!

Oh, and the Evil Dead series. In short, if you enjoy your horror with a healthy dose of comedy then Sam Raimi is your man. In this he tells the tale of loan officer cursed by an old gypsy woman with a spooky eye, to be hunted by a demon for the terrible crime of not giving her a third extension on her loan. What follows will make you laugh until you vomit and/or the other way around. (more…)


Festival of the Spoken Nerd | GeekOut Interviews

After a few months of waiting, I went to see the Festival of The Spoken Nerd show in Wells last week. I had no idea what to expect from the show but was curious to find out and took four fellow geeks along with me. It was a busy crowd from a very varied age range, that I think spanned from 12 to 50+ and I think it certainly had something for everyone.

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Anime Review: My Hero Academia

Looking for more superheroes in your already super life? Think you’ve got room for watching a superhero fork before your very eyes? Ever wondered what they teach superheroes? In which case, this may very well be the anime for you – It can only be the hugely popular My Hero Academia, a series I have been asked to watch many times, by many people. Will it be as super-good as everyone makes out, or is it a super-flop? Read on to find out more!

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Anime Review: Bananya

Do you love cats? Great, because that’s all that you get in this anime. Do you love bananas? Great, because that’s all that you get to accompany the cats in this anime. This is literally, exactly as the description of the anime suggests, an anime about cats that reside in bananas. Ho boy, I think I’ve lost the plot now. Still, at 3 minutes per episode, you can’t really complain much for the rather cute depictions of cats in bananas, even if it’s one of the stranger concepts I’ve uncovered on Crunchyroll as of late.

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Anime Review: Interviews With Monster Girls

With a name like ‘Interviews With Monster Girls‘, you would be excused to think this is an ecchi. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term ‘ecchi’, this is effectively the same way as saying ‘sexy’. As such, I clicked on this one thinking it was going to be yet another harem anime and that I’d turn it over and look for something different. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for this particular anime, although I’m sure there are enough people who would watch it purely for the fantasisation of lady monster nibbling at necks and losing their heads. No really, this is something that happens a fair bit in this anime. Let’s have a look and see what I really thought of it.

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Video Game Review – Zenith

From Infinigon, an action RPG that follows the story of a reluctant wizard dragged out of the bottle he’s crawled into, and thrust into an adventure he’s not all that interested in. I had no idea this game existed, and was pleasantly surprised when it dropped into my lap. It’s been a while since I played a game knowing nothing about it, so it was refreshing to go blindly into something new.

Now, I will say that since getting Zenith I haven’t played much more than a couple of hours for reasons I’ll get to shortly; suffice to say that this is very much a “first impressions” review, but I made sure to get a big impression in the mean time.

NSFW Warning because of the rude words Zenith uses. That language is acceptable behind the wheel of a car, but not in the workplace, or around young people and the permanently offended.

Story

We begin with our reluctant hero, Argus Windell, already in deep trouble at the hands of his captors, a band of elves that we can easily label “The bad guys” because… well they’re threatening the hero, nice and easy right? Actually this looks to be a straight forward wartime situation where honestly neither side is right, they just have different opinions on what belongs to whom and how it should be dealt with, all swiftly and effortlessly delivered with a minimum of dialogue and no painfully expositional lines. This opening scene also delivers a lot of information about the nature of our main character Argus, who has a very classic “begrudging but snarky hero” thing going very well for him, comes across as well informed and fairly important.

Then in come the giant, arctic, tenor singing spiders to comically spare his life, followed by a chase to grab his stuff from the fleeing elves who have mercifully scattered into easily defeated groups in their flight. You follow a path laid out for rich people to fill their adventure fantasies complete with conveniently dispersed chests and potions for which Argus has a snide remark, and the first joke that made me laugh in the game (a sorcerer who never hired guards for his tower, he just left bottles of red-coloured poison lying around) after only a few minutes gameplay. Score one for Infinigon.

Shortly after this point I’m thrown a bit of a curveball. After Argus is helped out by his friends there’s the sudden appearance of a spaceship, a jarring blast of sci-fi injected into what I’d taken as plain fantasy, but after a fairly short space of time the sides start to drift together, and just like that I’m impressed. I don’t often see games where civilisations have the presence of mind to use magic to do sensible things. Fireballs, strange and terrible artifacts, sure, but let’s talk transport here!

In short a lot of story is injected into not a lot of time, and done so very well. This section could get longer, but there’s more to discuss…

Style

Visually the game suffers a little from an obviously low budget, but delivers at the very least a comfortable viewing experience with a few interesting little quirks that stand out, and played with all graphics set to full it’s more than enjoyable, with crisper and cleaner without overwhelming the senses in bright lights and pointless details. Once the magical technology fusion becomes more organic to the situation the characters start to look more fitting, shifting from overly colourful and out of place to a kind of understated magic-punk, stylish but not overbaked.

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Textboxes can only be advanced by means of the spacebar, fairly high on the list of things you’d think to try, but there is no other option. Still, only a minor nuisance, but there are a few instances of text floating above character heads during cutscenes in which the text is hard to read because it lacks a harder outline, and the colours aren’t distinct enough to clearly make out the words. At least these aren’t the moments when important details are revealed, more often than not it’s during these moments when you aren’t entirely focused on the dialogue.

Gameplay

Here’s where I have a few gripes.

I’m in no doubt that this game would have played much better with a controller, I was running on mouse and keyboard. The controls were well mapped and thought out, (unlike a few blockbusters I could mention) and despite the fact that they couldn’t be adjusted, I found there wasn’t really a need. Where the issues came for me were with facing my character in the right direction. Two noticeable instances in which this was an issue:

Enemy corpses fade fast in Zenith. More often than not I’d find myself finishing a fight having lost half of my spoils already, which became less of an issue if I could easily spam to collect mid-combat, but that’s not so easy to do. Now this wouldn’t be so irritating, but post-fight I’d often find myself amidst the bodies unable to pick them clean fast enough because I have to spin myself around to face the bodies that still have something to grab, and when they’re merged together, and every time I turn I also run a few feet, suddenly the corpse I wanted is behind me, and again, and aga- oh now it’s gone.

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Second was a puzzle. Now I loved the puzzle, definitely stealing that for my regular Dungeons & Dragons game (strictly not for profit of course) but the objects that I needed to interact with in a specific order were fairly densely packed together given that I was having trouble getting Argus to point in the right direction.

That said, once you’ve acclimatised a little to the pace and motion of the game combat itself flows fairly nicely, and you’re quickly given a few nice little tactical options; interesting melee weapons, a ranged spell, a conjured shield, and a massive shockwave spell to cover your back when you’re surrounded. Potions have a recharge time to prevent spamming (and overdose of course) which is a little long. You may find yourself needing more than one in a fight and unable to drink fast enough, made worse by the fact that health doesn’t replenish naturally. All of which brings me to my final point.

Why I Stopped Playing…

Your first boss is fairly early in the game, before you’ve even gained your first level and started to really see what Argus is capable of achieving. The demon Deuueagh has moderate health which should make for a quick fight, jumps backwards and forwards from the combat area, leaving you with a smattering of easily defeated skeletons to keep you occupied. Sounds good on paper, but there are some pretty tremendous problems I found with it.

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If you like your RPGs hardcore with a punishing difficulty curve I commend you, sadly that’s not me, and Zenith could do with a variable difficulty for the likes of people who enjoy games despite being really bad at them (me). It wouldn’t even require any alterations in the level designs, shortened waits for potions would be a good start because this boss hits hard, and is fast enough to hit you constantly no matter how much you run or block.

Worst of all, with only one save point prior to the fight, there’s a nice little cutscene for you to watch over and over and over again following disappointment after disappointment. Come on Infinigon, that’s game design basics, at least make it easier to skip past.

… For A Short While

I have a new computer!

Aside from being overjoyed and looking forward to doing a lot more game reviews in the near future, it made the game run a lot smoother, look quite a bit nicer, and more importantly I surpassed Deuueagh to find the first major plot point and break into what one might call “the game proper”.

And that’s the thing, for all the issues I faced early in the game I found I really wanted to surpass them and break into the real meat of what Zenith had to offer me. Now that first awkward hurdle is behind me I’m enjoying it more and more, and while it’s still a game hampered by design flaws, it’s still fun, compelling, and ultimately achieves what it sets out to achieve; a humorous ARPG filled with parody, sarcasm, action, and elves in barrels being thrown over mountains. Well one, but that’s more than I expected.

Get Zenith. It’s worth it at £10.99, and I think Infinigon as a studio has a lot more to offer in the future.


Anime Review: Bungo Stray Dogs

Fans of all that is supernatural and magical will be quite keen on this new series; but ultimately, is Bungo Stray Dogs a riveting tale of the strange and the peculiar, or is it just a cash in attempt at a misfit group? Join Timlah through our latest anime review.

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