2017 Challenges: The Beginning

So, with 2016 out of the way (finally, amirite?), I’m now looking ahead to 2017. I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the course of the past year (mostly that I definitely can’t cram as much into a year as I thought I could), so with that in mind, and all the reflecting out of the way, it’s time to set some 2017 challenges!

Coming to you this year with a brand new hashtag (#cs2017challenge), how many of the films, TV shows and games can you name in the 2017 Challenge logo?

Make 10 new cosplays (including one entirely from scratch)
I did really well with cosplay last year (8!), and I got a sewing machine for Christmas. I’ve decided I want to majorly up my game, so I’m going for double figures and the condition that one has to be completely made from scratch. I also really want to make an awesome prop, but we’ll see how we go with that one!

Watch 30 anime series
I have a couple of series I need to finish off (Dream Festival and Kuroko no Basuke), and then it’s on with the new series. This year I’m refining my rules – mostly because there’s no way I’m watching all of Black Butler and it not counting because I’ve watched the first episode, so as long as I’ve watched three episodes or less of a series, then it counts towards this years total! I’m also hoping to write a quick review of each series as I go as review practice.

Platinum 12 games
Last years target of 24 games seems a bit optimistic now, especially considering all of the other challenges going on at the same time, so this year I’ve reduced the total to just one platinum a month. I will be writing platinum reviews for each game I manage!

Watch 30 new ‘old’ films
I have a few films which when I say I’ve never seen, people are always shocked (E.T and Die Hard to name a couple). In the next week or so I’ll be compiling a list of 30 of these films, and watching them over the course of the year. I’ll be writing up my impressions of these films in an as yet unnamed feature.

Watch 60 films at the cinema
Look, we all know I failed hard at this one in 2016, so I’m reducing my total by 20 to give myself a chance. I’ll be writing reviews where I can, and logging my progress on Twitter under the challenge hashtag.

Clear the gaming backlog
My gaming backlog is shameful, and growing by the month. My aim for the year is to finish every game I own, and try to catch up with the releases I’ve missed. I’ll update this post with a proper list of which games this entails when I get a chance!

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Can poor gameplay be masked by excellent storytelling?

Games are now becoming such storytelling masterpieces that it’s becoming more common to hear of them being adapted to film. The Last of Us, Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed are currently going through the adaptation process right now but, importantly, they are games that are critically acclaimed (though the later Assassin’s Creed games are somewhat less so).

Often, the first ideas we have of upcoming games are about their story and with months of coverage before they even get released, it’s totally possible to completely buy into a game before you’ve even seen any actual gameplay footage. This happened to me with Murdered: Soul Suspect; the more I read about the premise and the story, the more excited I got and couldn’t wait to play.

Read the full article at This Is My Joystick.

Secret Cinema presents Back to The Future: The Verdict

After nearly a week of cancellations, the Secret Cinema finally opened its doors to legions of Back To The Future fans on Thursday 31st July. The event, which saw the building of the fictional town of Hill Valley from the hit movie, and stage the Hill Valley Fair, was held in a secret London location. Though punters were sceptical in the lead up to the event, and on the journey from the unmentionable train station to the event itself, all doubts were erased as soon as you set foot onto the property.

Secret Cinema really live up to their name, and all information was withheld until the last possible minute, including the location of the event which was emailed out to revellers just the day before. Unusually for a Secret Cinema event, the film was disclosed which helped to create the hype – normally customers don’t even know what film they’re watching until it rolls on the night.

Armed with dress codes and new identities, attendees could put in as much, or as little, effort as they liked. The result was overwhelming, and it made you feel a part of something special. The word ‘immersive’ has been paraded around a lot in relation to the event, but rightly so.

Read the full article at Filmoria.

The problem with Delsin

inFamous: Second Son was the PlayStation 4 game we were all waiting for. The first proper foray into the capabilities of next-gen gaming. For those familiar with Sucker Punch’s previous PS3 titles, it would be the chance to see where the story of conduits would go post-Cole, but for those taking their first venture into the world, it would be a new opportunity to get behind some superpowers of their own.

There’s no doubting that inFamous: Second Son is a great game, with some spectacularly beautiful graphics and brilliant gameplay, but the experience was marred by the unlikeable main character, Delsin Rowe. Cocky, arrogant and immature, the Second Son protagonist epitomises the worst of all the qualities we’ve become accustomed to as comic books and superheroes continue to bombard popular culture.

With two playthroughs for the good karma and bad karma endings, it can feel like a long ride when the main character just feels like a complete jerk. So just where does it all go wrong for Delsin?

Read the rest of my article at This Is My Joystick.

The end of How I Met Your Mother

After nine years on our screens, the final episode of How I Met Your Mother aired this week.

A long time in the making, the show has kept audiences hooked for nine seasons, waiting to find out how Ted did meet the mother.

Full spoilers for the show finale follow. You have been warned.

In true How I Met Your Mother style, the finale pulled a lot of punches and kept me hooked throughout, with plenty of moments which left me gasping, and at one point, crying.

I feel like the finale was a good end to the show, if it had ended with “And that’s how I met your mother.” Unfortunately, it went on and Ted found himself once again at Robin’s window with a blue French horn.

My first real gripe with the episode was something that went on to make a little more sense as the episode progressed. Barney and Robin divorcing. Totally left-field, considering up until that point, season nine had been about them getting married in the first place. All of a sudden it was like those 20 episodes didn’t matter, and it was over with a quick “We got a divorce.” Barney and Robin have always made sense as a couple, they’ve always been on the same page, unlike Ted and Robin, so to see the back of their relationship was a little sad but ultimately makes sense, given the direction of the story as a whole. Case in point, I previously gave them the top position in my list of favourite pop culture couples (see here).

For my next problem, see: goodbye to the apartment. It’s all a bit Friends-eque, really. Yes, adults grow up and they have to move out of their 2 bedroom apartments, but couldn’t they have just done it and transitioned quickly? I get that it was the scene for Lily voicing her fears that Robin wouldn’t be there for any of the “big moments”, but I feel like this big moment could easily have just happened off camera. The move felt a little cliché to me; goodbye to the apartment, goodbye to the show. At least there was no ceremonial key returning.

Whilst we’re on the subject of the apartment-leaving Halloween party, Robin saying Ted was “the guy she should have probably ended up with” was quite infuriating. Hasn’t Robin had enough chances with Ted? Obviously, at this point, I didn’t know where the episode was going but it left a sour taste to think that Ted only seems like a consolation prize to Robin, and she only wants him when someone else has him.

The episode wasn’t all bad, though, and despite my whining, I did like it a lot. I stopped investing in Lily and Marshall as a couple quite a long time ago, but they had some good moments. However, my stand-out moment in the episode goes to Barney, when he holds his daughter for the first time, showing what a talented actor Neil Patrick Harris is as he managed to convey enough emotion in a seconds-long scene to bring tears to my eyes.

After spending all of season nine getting to know the mother, she’s killed off in an instant. The mother, or Tracy, as she’s apparently known, isn’t even given an on-screen death and her rapid health deterioration lasts all of one scene. After nine seasons, I feel like I’ve invested more in Ted than to have him just run back to Robin once he’d had the opportunity to get married and have a couple of kids.

Something that really stood out to me from the finale was when it comes to light that Ted and Tracy haven’t gotten married despite having their children. As an audience, we know that all Ted has ever wanted was to get married and have two children, presumably in that order. We know Ted has the daughter and son he always wanted, so it stands to reason that he would have gotten everything else he wanted too. When it was revealed that Tracy was pregnant, I for one assumed that the wedding would be brought forward, not postponed. The realisation that everything I’d assumed about Ted and Tracy’s relationship was wrong, coupled with the divorce of Barney and Robin perhaps opened my eyes to the fact that I didn’t know where things were going.

I understand that the writers have had the ending planned out from the get-go, but to spend nine years constantly reiterating that Robin isn’t the mother, that Ted and Robin don’t get married, only to have Ted run back to Robin feels like a bit of a let down. Ted isn’t one of my favourite protagonists ever, and probably wouldn’t even make it into a top ten list, but I feel like he deserved his happy-ever-after with his wife and two kids, and I feel like he’s been denied of that.

How I Met Your Dad, constantly billed as a stand-alone spin-off of the original series, has a lot to live up to, and despite the promises that it will be a whole different set of characters telling a different story, it feels like it’s not really the end for the original gang.

My prediction? How Number 31 met Barney.

Release day quandry

Alongside my PlayStation and television there is an ever-growing pile of games I refer to as my “to-complete pile.” Each time a new title is released, the pile grows and I feel a little worse about myself.

As pictured below, the games that I’m so heavily avoiding are some of the best games to be released lately, and LEGO Marvel (which I’ve since obtained the platinum in).

Currently, my pile sits in the order I want to complete the games in; of how annoyed I’ll be if the plots I’ve so carefully been avoiding are suddenly spoiled for me. Not playing these games is exhausting. Constantly on the alert for spoilers from podcasts, articles and loose-lipped friends, these are games I am going to go back to, games that I loved playing. That I will love playing again.

“I’m not going to buy any more games until I’ve finished the ones I’ve got” has become a catchphrase of mine, but as release day for a new game rolls around, I get caught up in the hype and want to be instantly involved. I don’t want to work through the pile just to get the new game, I want it now.

I’ve recently managed to restrain myself from buying both Thief and South Park: Stick of Truth on their own release days, and have made an internal promise that I’ll be caught up with my gaming pile by the time Watch Dogs rolls around.

Using new releases as an incentive brings about it’s own issues. If I really do want to make it through these games before I buy anything new, I have to add new titles to my ever-increasing list of spoiler-blocking.

With game developers bringing out so many worthy games in recent months, the urge to buy new games gets stronger and stronger. With each new release that I deprive myself of, I feel like I’m learning a valuable lesson about the perils of spreading myself too thinly across too many games.