My Spy (2020)

I mentioned in my review of Stuber last year my hope that this would be the film that causes Batista to go from “oh yeah, that guy” to “THE guy”. Sadly that’s not the case. This film is predictable, the villains are SEVERELY underdeveloped, and a lot of the actions of the characters don’t make any sense if you think about it for more than a minute. It’s also REALLY fun and well worth a watch.

Yeah it has some flaws, but I seriously doubt you’ll regret watching it. It’s funny, sweet, and has enough unique parts to stand out. It sets its tone very early on with a hostage situation that turns into laugh out loud comedy, and a reference to Iron Man 2 (although if the MCU exists in this universe, who played Drax?), and then plays a car chase to foreign language covers of I Will Survive and My Heart Will Go On. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless. It’s also something you don’t really expect in this film, a bit like the high number of Notting Hill references compared to most comedy action films.

Now when I say “things that don’t make sense” they’re mainly character-based mistakes rather than impossibilities. For example he stands in front of a class and admits he’s a spy. Number one on the “list of things needed to be a good spy” would be “never mention you’re a spy” yet he never suffers any backlash from this. (Number two on the list, by the way, is “a preference for cheese sandwiches over ham”, I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) It’s strange as he suffers for other things he do which aren’t spy-like, but not for this. It’s a very sweet moment, and incredibly funny, but like I said it doesn’t make that much sense. I mean, it is worth it for his description of his time in the service when he mentions killing people: “they were all terrorists, human traffickers, or really annoying”

One thing is made abundantly clear in this film: Batista is f*cking huge. You don’t normally notice it because he’s paired up against similarly muscled men. But when you see him standing against normal people, you realise he’s a massive human being. Like, scarily large.

So in summary I think you do need to see this. It’s not like “omg that was so smart and brilliant” but near the end they think a helicopters about to explode so she begs to do a slow cool-guy walk away from it. it doesn’t blow up so he throws a grenade at it so she can do it. How can you not love a film like that?

An American Pickle (2020)

I should have liked this. It’s a funny idea, and it’s something quirky and strange, I like strange. It just didn’t land with me, though. I went in not knowing what the story is, I came out and still didn’t really know, it goes through multiple ideas so quickly that it never really has an identity.

Essentially it’s about a guy who falls into a pickle vat and ends up being uncovered still alive 100 years later and you think the film is going to be about him adjusting to a modern age. Nope. He meets his great grandson who he hopes is a success, and you think it may be a family based drama about the two connecting, nope, although for the brief moment where it is that, it is superb. He finds a billboard in the graveyard where his family is buried and vows to get enough money to take it down. That storyline lasts about 20 minutes. He gets into an argument with his relative and starts selling pickles out of spite, becoming internet famous among hipsters. That is part of the previous story and is how he gets the money, so also doesn’t last that long. He goes on twitter and tweets offensive shit, which people love. He then slightly suggests running for President before offending Christians and having everybody hates him. That lasts about 5 minutes. He is about to get deported so makes up with his relative and the two try to smuggle him into Canada. That lasts about 10 minutes. He swaps places with his relative (they’re both played by Seth Rogan), so his great grandson gets deported to a place he doesn’t know. That storyline takes about 20 minutes, then the film ends.

It was first showcased on HBO’s streaming service, and it’s definitely a streaming movie. I would probably be more charitable towards it if I watched it online instead of cinema. As it is I just wish it was a TV show instead. If it was then each of those storylines I mentioned would have time to be fleshed out and breathe, they’d be able to develop into actual stories instead of just a collection of scenes.

It’s a shame, as Seth Rogen is great in it. Even when they are supposed to look exactly the same you can tell which one you’re looking at due to the way they carry themselves. It’s a testament to his talent that despite some characters being confused as to who is who, the audience never is. I would compliment the other actors, but most of them turn up, do a few scenes then are never heard from again as their story is dropped. So in summary, I’m not sure whether to recommend this. It had some good moments, but they were too fleeting to offer the film a full recommendation I’m afraid.

Babyteeth (2019)

Those of who who have been following this blog for a while, or have spoken to me for an extended period of time, know that I LOVE slice of life dramedys, especially ones with a cool visual style and a female lead. For evidence of this, view my love for Ghost World and Lady Bird. I also love films that go into dark subject matter, 50/50, for example, is one of my favourite comedies. So lets look at this film:

  • Slice of life dramedy? Check.
  • Female lead? Check.
  • Dark themes? The lead has cancer, so check.
  • The lead has funky hair? Check.

So this should be one of my favourite films of the year, but it pains me to say that it may be one of my least favourites. It’s not one of the worst, it has too many good things about it for that to be the case, but from a subjective standpoint I just could not enjoy this. I never hide the fact that these reviews are entirely subjective, that’s why Lego Batman movie gets a more positive review than Dunkirk. This approach hits some films more than others, and never will it hit harder than for this.

This film lost me in three of the opening scenes, to the point where it would have had to work VERY hard to get me back in.

1: The “meet-cute”

If your story is based around a romance between two people, you need the introduction of the two to each other to have a certain spark. Whether it’s locked eyes from across the room, one helping the other with an issue, or even just sitting near each other and their being an unexplained chemistry. So how do these characters meet? He bumps into her whilst running at a train. At first I thought what had happened was him bumping into her slowed his momentum as he attempted suicide by jumping in front of the train. I actually loved that as it would have been incredibly unique and funny. Now I look back at it I’m not entirely sure that was the case, there is a slight chance it might have been though so I won’t hold that against it. What I will hold against it is the following: they start talking and she gets a nose-bleed. How does he stop it? Pretty much like this:

Yes, he basically smothers her face (with a cloth though, not just his hand). Oh, and you have no idea how much I had to search before I found a non-porn picture like that. It genuinely looks like it’s going to start a kidnapping scene, especially once he gets onto the floor and pulls her down with him. For some reason she finds this cute, so he asks her for money, which she gives him. It’s at this point the film is begins to make me feel uncomfortable.

2. The therapy scene

Soon after this we’re introduced to a scene titled something like “9am Tuesday appointment” which features a woman and a therapist talking and then having sex. It’s not made clear until near the end of the scene that they’re husband and wife so you’re sitting there thinking it’s a man abusing a vulnerable patient and then by the time you realise it’s not you’ve forgotten what actually happened in the scene as none of your notions about what was happening were correct. This is good a time as any to point out how weirdly the film introduces major plot points. How do we find out the main character has cancer? A title card that says “remission”. It’s not set up AT ALL.

3. The Dinner scene

This is where we find out the characters ages. The girl? 16, the guy (Moses), 23. So this film is about a 23 year old guy (who already has a girlfriend) going out with a 16 year old cancer patient, breaking into her house to steal things, and at one point stealing her drugs. Why should I give a shit about it?

Like I said, it would have taken A LOT for the film to come back from these scenes, and it never even looks like it’s going to. Moses never gets any better, never has a redeemable moment that makes him likeable. He continues doing awful things throughout the film and is never held accountable. His relationship with the main character (Milla) is basically this:

Moses: *steals from her*

Milla: You dick I hate you, leave!

Moses: *breaks into her room in middle of night*

Milla: I forgive you

Moses: *takes her to a house party and makes out with a girl in front of her*

Repeat ad nauseam.

It all makes for an incredibly frustrating watch. He doesn’t even make up for it in the closing scenes. Chronologically (there’s a random flashback at the end with no indication as to when it was) this film ends like this: She tells him the pain is too much and asks him to smother her with a pillow until she dies. He does it but stops halfway through, they then have sex. Yup, they really did a euthanasia-based sex scene. Fuck that. He wakes up the next morning and says hi to her parents and has a smoke. By this point, she is dead, and he doesn’t mention it to her mum before she goes to wake her up. He doesn’t even have the decency to look shocked. Well he might do but you can’t fucking see as the scene is weirdly shot with him being half in, half out the door so you can’t get a proper look at his face, instead being met with the far more interesting sight of beige. In that scene you NEED to see his emotion. You need to see the emotional conflict he’s going through, and this film hides that from us, and is all the worst for it. There are multiple sub-plots I haven’t mentioned because in the end they meant absolutely nothing.

Now onto the positives: the colours were wonderful. It had a vibrant palette that really popped and was interesting visually. Also the music was incredible, it had possibly one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard all year. That cannot make up for the rest of the film though. It doesn’t make up for how, I’m really struggling to find the words here. Well, you know how when you do exercise in the middle of a heat wave? (like running, jogging, or standing up out of a chair). You know that horrible sticky sweat you get? The sweat that clings to your body like it’s semi-solid and hangs in the air so you can almost taste it? Watching this film feels like touching that. It also reminded me of one of the worst songs in existence

Once Upon A Time In Nollywood

I noticed something a few weeks ago: the Western viewpoints of cinema. Despite Hollywood and the British film industry being made of people from diverse backgrounds (kinda), it’s only stories about locations we know that we see. This is kind of weird, wouldn’t a compelling story be a compelling story regardless of location? Would a love story not work just as well in Algiers as it does in New York? Studios push diversity in their marketing, and yet still only really do them set in Western world. “Look, a film consisting almost entirely of Asian people, diversity!” “Where’s it set?” “New York”.

As such I decided to be the annoying little prick I have a tendency to do, and write a story set in Africa. This was mainly because a lot of the countries are English speaking (woo colonialism and attempted genocide), yet are still uncharted lands when it comes to cinema. Seriously, how many films can you think of which are set in African countries and aren’t based around:

  • Extreme poverty
  • War
  • Period pieces involving slavery

I mean, I guess there’s Chappie and District 9. But other than that? Not much. So I decided to see if I could, similar to my Nightmare On Elm Street, just to be like “if I can, you can, stop making excuses”. So I present to you:

First off, yes that is a working title. As will become clear, I don’t know that much about Nigerian culture. I probably should have done more research into it, but I don’t know what I need to know. A google search can tell you facts, it can’t show you the random cultural quirks that make a country stand out. So if I was to do this, I would definitely have someone from the country go through and heavily edit it. I put a few cultural references in, a few bits of local slang, a few local locations, and local names (you’ll be surprised how many writers don’t do this). It’s not a perfect script, but I am kind of proud of what I’ve done. Not just because you should always feel proud when you complete a project, but also because it’s a plot I’m genuinely proud of. It has some imagery that I love, some of the most detestable characters I’ve ever done, and a mid-plot character change which doesn’t come off as made up on the spur of the moment (although it totally was). I can probably change the wording of the closing shot, I know exactly the image I want and I’m not sure it comes off quite as I see it in my head. I can probably cut the opening too as it’s just me repeating “this guy’s a dick” again and again. Also, this is not the best genre to write as you go along. You need to plan this, and I didn’t. So I really need to go through and connect a few threads better.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020)

So we’ve reached the point where I’m catching up on films I’ve missed so far this year. First off is this one, a film not released in cinemas but was on netflix. It was originally supposed to be released alongside Eurovision, which was cancelled due to COVID 19.

Eurovision is insane and weird, so this is perfect fodder for a film, and should allow Will Ferrell to be at his madcap best. It’s a shame then, just how plain this film is. Will Ferrell’s character is essentially “Will Ferrell with an accent”, and at this point that type of character is just becoming grating.  The film itself is incredibly plain, very American. It also has a central premise that doesn’t hold up if you do any research into it.

It’s about two Icelandic singers who enter Eurovision (essentially a Euro-wide singing contest which is, well it’s kind of weird) hoping to win. But (unknown to them), one of the people on the Icelandic Eurovision committee has been killing Icelandic singers because if a country wins then they have to host the next years contest, and the country can’t afford it, so if the singers die then they won’t win. The central premise is flawed, as if a country can’t afford to host, it can defer to another country, and that has happened multiple times. So the premise of the film doesn’t work. It doesn’t even work in the universe the film creates. A character mentions in passing that “Everybody hates UK so they never win”, but in this film, the song contest is being hosted by the UK. So they obviously won the year before. So even if in this film universe of “no, if you win, you HAVE to host” it completely lacks consistency.

The opening song has to be commended though, it’s the kind of weirdness that you associate with Eurovision and is kid of perfect, the rest of the film? Not so much. It’s an incredibly generic “a man and woman work together and one doesn’t realise the other is in love with them, complete with comedic misunderstanding” film. First off, why is it a romance film when it should be like a sports story? Also I consider it a mistake to have so much Will Ferrell, this is the perfect setting for an ensemble movie. You have different comedians be different performers, focus mainly on one night of the contest, and just let them all go nuts.

It’s also FAR too American. There’s a moment where the cast randomly burst into a song medley. This would have been a good opportunity to do like a mini-showcase of Eurovision hits, and whilst it does include ABBA and a Celine Dion song which was an entry in 1988, it also includes Madonna, Cher, and Black Eyed Peas. So that scene doesn’t give you an insight into the contest, and instead is just an advert for American music. It would be like if a film about the American film industry had a montage that consisted mainly of anime and Bollywood films.

One final thing: why the f*ck was this 2 hours long?

Unhinged (2020)

I’m well aware of my big flaw when it comes to reviewing: all of it is down to personal taste. So if a film is impressive, but for whatever reason just doesn’t grab me, I won’t review it favourably (and conversely, if a film is technically awful, but I have a soft spot for it, I’ll review it favourably). They’ll be some films I negatively review because they just didn’t gel with me. Keep that in mind when I talk about how much I disliked this film.

I get some people will like this, it’s a pulpy violent throwback full of well-crafted but realistic car chases. It just wasn’t for me. It might have been fun if I was drunk, or I could have just found it super depressing. Before I start this I’ll point out that the performances are all good, there is absolutely nothing any of the actors could have done to improve on it So why didn’t I like it? Hard to explain, it could be how, despite being only 90 minutes long, I spent a long time looking at my watch. It could be how, outside of the main character, you didn’t care about anybody. There at least 3 characters who have two scenes:

Scene one: the character gets introduced.

Scene two: the character gets killed.

I’m not asking for an essay-level of detail on every minor character, but I need to at least feel like these characters exist outside of this film, and I never felt like that, I was always constantly aware that these are just characters in a movie.

I guess my main problem with this film is it’s just so ugly. Not in terms of look, in terms of spirit and world. It’s all just so relentlessly cruel.

I haven’t seen anything this despairingly ugly since I last looked in the mirror. The “happy ending” of this film is basically the main character letting people do whatever they want and she will just stay quiet. Yay, she’s scared and won’t ever stand up for herself, yay?

It’s not a story, it’s just a bunch of stuff happening one after the other. It’s far too dependent on luck. If characters don’t do the exact thing that they do, there is no film. If the police aren’t as stupid as they are, there’s no film. If bystanders do, well, anything, there’s no film. Again, this all builds together so you never really lose yourself in the film, you’re constantly aware that it’s fiction. It doesn’t help that it never builds up to anything, it starts with him burning someone’s house down and killing them, how can you increase upon that? He doesn’t even change his car until the final act, with all the cameras around, he never gets pulled over by the police? That’s kind of the case for a lot of this film though, it depends on only the main characters being active in the plot. If they’re not a named character, they don’t do anything. So even when Russell Crowe strangles someone with their own tie in a diner, nobody in the building does anything. It’s America, you’d think at least one of them would have a gun. Plus, it’s a diner, so there’s enough knives around, or even things you can just pick up and hit him with. Also, the diner scene happens after Crowe’s character has:

  1. Burned down a house in full view of the neighbourhood.
  2. Run someone over outside of a petrol station.

He parks his vehicle outside the diner and just sits in there for quite a while. Definitely long enough for the police (who really should be searching for him) to spot it and drive there to arrest him. It’s just incredibly narratively frustrating. Especially since there probably is a way to do this, but this film couldn’t be bothered.

All I can say about this film to end this review is this: Nicholas Cage turned it down. That shows the level we’re dealing with.

Onward (2020)

I was both looking forward to, and slightly apprehensive about this. Yes, it’s Pixar, and if a studio’s worst film is Cars (which, as much as I hate it, is MASSIVE financially) then you know you’re in for a good time, but since this film has been out I haven’t heard a lot of love for it. So maybe it’s just average, maybe it’s another Good Dinosaur, a film that’s perfectly serviceable but nothing special. After seeing the film, I don’t get it, it’s hard to say it’s one of Pixar’s best, but that’s only because their films are such high quality that it’s really hard to rank them. I will say this though: it’s going to take something special coming out for this not to be in consideration for one of the best films of the year.

I mean it could be argued that the plot is kind of generic, it’s essentially a road movie. But a lot of Pixar films are really when you think about it. For every brilliant plot of Ratatouille or Wall-E, you have the simple plot of Monsters University. Pixar are not about the story the telling, it’s about HOW they tell them, and they tell them perfectly. As to be expected it looks gorgeous, and the script and the characters are just as beautiful.

The best thing about this is just how deeply personal you can feel it is to the writer. I often criticise films by saying “I can’t imagine someone feeling they NEED to get this film made”. You could NEVER say that about this. It’s obviously deeply personal and that personal touch permeates every inch of the film.

It’s helped by the performances, Chris Pratt and Tom Holland work incredibly well together and their relationship is the true emotional core this film depends on. It depends on the brother relationship much more than the “sons missing their father” angle that you expect. I mean, the fact that they miss their deceased father is central to the film, and it does provide one or two deeply emotional moments, but the central emotional crux is the relationship between the two brothers. For a story about not-mythical creatures it is incredibly human, but then again that’s always been Pixars strength.

Now the downside: it feels like it doesn’t do enough with the premise. The film has two main concepts:

  1. Magic used to be a thing people could do, but then technology replaced it as it was simpler. Reminds me of the Arthur C. Clarke quote: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  2. The legs.  Okay I should mention it: this film is about them trying to bring their dad back from the dead but it goes wrong and only his bottom half comes back (fully clothed thankfully).

I feel it could have done more with those premises, although then I suppose there is a risk that might have taken away from the emotional developments. The legs thing is weird, and should provide very unique scenarios, but it really doesn’t provide that many. It does provide a great moment where the legs realise that his sons are there. One of them lets him know by tapping on his foot like he did when he was a child, after that the legs immediately search for the other son, and press down on his foot with his own. It’s the closest it will get to a hug, and it’s beautiful. As is the moment near the end, when you see it you’ll know.

So yeah, go see it. It’s a great film, and all the cast are brilliant (I haven’t mentioned it but Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer’s characters are crying out for a spin-off).

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

So the cinemas are now open again so I’m back at this. It’s been over a month since my last blog (been mainly writing some stuff I’ll be posting soon, which involved having to do research into Nigerian slang). There are some good films showing at the moment, Proxima looks like it could be good, My Spy could be fun, Onward is Pixar so should be great, and Unhinged looks like it could be great popcorn cinema. Not only that but classic films are being shown too; Goodfellas, Empire, Back To The Future, all classics in cinema history yet I am still yet to see and I have a chance to see them on the big screen for free so I’d be a fool not to do that, right?

So with all those great options in mind, what film did I deem important enough to be the first film I see post-lockdown? Sonic The Freaking Hedgehog. That should not be a surprise though considering that, well, it’s in the title of the page so if you didn’t read that then why are you here?

So was it worth it? Hard to tell, I consider it worth me seeing it as it’s a film I needed to have an opinion on, but it’s not one I feel was deeply important that I saw on a big screen, I wouldn’t have lost anything if I watched it on Netflix later in the year. Truth be told I’m not sure I would have even felt guilty if I illegally watched it.

I had hopes this wouldn’t be the greatest film in the world, but would at least be done with a lot of love. When the original trailer dropped and audiences complained about Sonics teeth being really creepy, the studio delayed the film so they could fix that issue. That showed to me that they had some pride in the project, and in some aspects that is easy to see. The closing credits are the most unique I’ve seen all year and it shows a real love not only for the film but for the original series. Sadly, this isn’t matched by the script. So much of it seems incredibly “first draft”. There are scenes and sequences which don’t really have any purpose, they don’t effect the story in any way whatsoever. Weirdly, this accusation could be levelled at the opening scene too (no, not the “I bet you’re wondering how I got here?” opening) where we see Sonic as a youth being hunted by echidnas before being protected by an owl. The echidnas are never mentioned again. There are other issues with the script as well, mainly in terms of consistency. I’ll start with the big one first: how fast does sonic go? Because usually when he runs we can see a blur so we know he’s moved, just very quickly (at much the same speed as an incredibly fast car, at one point it’s stated as 300mph). But when the story (or a joke) needs it, he can run A LOT faster. Two main examples: at one point he covers 800 miles in about 2 seconds, doing 400 of it soaking wet and with a fish on his head. The second is during the “bullet time” moments, one of which he moves and causes chaos around the room (affecting a whole bar-room full of people) in a split second. The other inconsistency: he says he needs human help to get inside the building as his bag of rings (just go with it) is on the roof of the building. Yet in the opening scene we see him do a vertical run up a similar building, so it’s pointless. Him being sneaked into the building leads to a moment you probably saw in the trailer where two random people hear sonic talking from inside the main character’s bag and think he’s kidnapped a child. “oh, it’s not mine” and they back off staring at him. Two things with this:

  1. This NEVER comes up again. So did they not tell the police?
  2. By this point the government think this guy is a terrorist and has put out a nationwide alert for him, putting his face all over the news. So these two people saw a terrorist going with a suspicious package into a large building, and didn’t question him? Bit weird. Even the security guard at the door didn’t recognise him. Also there’s never any information on how the government did the “oh he’s innocent now” announcement.

Mentioning the government has reminded me of something: our government are bastards. But also this: they didn’t see Robotnik get transported into the mushroom kingdom (eugh, I know, I know) so what exactly do they think happened? And why did they let the main character go free rather than question him A LOT about what happened? It’s like they didn’t put any thought into the story elements if it ruined their jokes. It’s all VERY “first draft”. There’s a lot of basic issues with this film that a good script editor would have fixed.

So yeah, that’s Sonic. It’s alright, has a few very funny moments, and Jim Carrey is somehow both the best and worst thing in the movie, with the exact same justification for both (his energy is both brilliant, yet also entirely inconsistent with the other characters). Definitely a “wait until netflix” film. Oh, the ending for this has THE most blatent product placement.

Superlee!

So a few years ago I had a really bad pun I needed to get rid of. It was too bad to use on it’s own on facebook so I had to think of a way to make it somewhat acceptable. In the end I decided on this:

Screenshot 2020-06-27 at 11.31.05

Okay it’s not the best method but it transformed a shit joke into a mediocre one. I then used the “reasons I’d make a terrible superhero” to dump out more bad puns, then shit changed. I started to use jokes about the format of superhero movies, about morality, and about vengeance. People really started to dig it, so I considered having it in another medium. We briefly had a webcomic (visible here) but I needed more. I eventually decided as a sketch show, albeit one where every episode has a running theme. It was when I was thinking of this that I came up with one of the most distinguished parts of the series: Lee would be a male character, but Superlee would be female. I’ll freely admit that this is because the one performer I trust with this character is a woman, plus I found the idea funny. It’s easy to justify too, just say “well, of course, I look different, that’s a point of a secret identity”.  That part has been kept, because I found it funny, and it’s unique. Plus it really sets up the weird pseudo-reality tone that I’m going for. There was just one issue; sketch shows are really fast-paced, and the way I write REALLY isn’t. So I put it on the backburner until last month when I needed to write a sitcom for reasons I can’t be bothered to go into here. It went through a few structural changes as I was writing it. I had a character who was originally supposed to be in one scene but then I decided to make him a season regular. I added a narrator, not so much for the benefit of this episode but it will really come into it’s own later in the season. The format is pretty much settled, and all but one major character. I’ve set up the first season with this episode and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve managed, especially since with the exception of one scene it’s filmable on a cheap budget. I know this isn’t the final draft, but I’ve definitely got the major parts down. I feel different drafts from here on in will be tweaks rather than complete rewrites. Hope you guys enjoy it too, here you go:

superlee begins

5 Video Games We Need Sequels/Remakes Of

Very similar to the last one, only this time it won’t be franchises I’m looking at, I’ll be focusing on one-off games that for some reason never got a sequel. Here I’m mainly looking at the very weird, and the incredibly wonderful. The newest game here is 18 years old, so I think it’s safe to say that for all of these if there was going to be a sequel it would have happened by now. I mean, can you imagine doing a sequel in 2020 to something released in the ’90s? It would never work.

Space Station Silicon Valley (N64: 1998)

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Okay, this is a weird game (expect that to be a recurring theme throughout this blog btw). Originally released in the late ’90s, when Sega was still a big deal, and the PlayStation was huge. The video game market was huge at the time in terms of variety, you had games where you could control a wide range of white people, muscle-bound men, heavily chested women, all of them were seen by marketers as the pinnacle of humanity. It’s in this environment where this game was released and you controlled……a computer chip. You see, this game is populated by robotic animals so you can jump into any dead robot animal and control them. It’s a wonderfully unique system which leads to different ways of playing the game. Every animal has two special skills, fox’s for example, can use a rocket boost, kangaroos can punch, sheep can go “baa” (oh, and they can float). This game is perfect for a reboot because of the animals, the merchandise potential is huge (50 animals-50 funko pops). Even if it’s not this game exactly, the idea of controlling a computer chip in a world of robots is brilliant. Can you picture that in an open-world game? The possibilities it will open up are endless and the potential for DLC is staggering.

B.O.B (SNES: 1993)

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Yup, another robot game. This one’s a platformer though. It has a weird sense of humour that’s kind of charming (the game starts with the main character crashing his dad’s space car into an asteroid whilst on a date). It’s a standard platformer but because you’re controlling a robot it means you have access to different attachments including helicopter blades, trampolines, etc. It has a good health system too, you gain health by just going into recharging points. This makes sense as, you know, it is a robot. I kind of love the look of it too, it has a kind of electric plant look. Look at the picture above, that’s how it deals with inside scenes, now look at the outside ones:

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I love the level of detail on everything, it makes it feel, I dunno, “squelchy”? So the whole thing feels alive, it feels like the character is on an alien world full of life. Now if this were to be remade today I’m not sure how it should be done, a 3D one would be kind of cool but I feel it would risk losing some of the charm it has. Plus some graphical styles only seem to work 2D, if this went 3D they’d either have to make it cel-shaded, or *shudders*, realistic. You need to keep this simple and fun, but I feel you could lean into making it funnier; maybe lean into making it more of a Metroid parody.

Glover (N64/Playstation: 1999)

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I’ll admit I haven’t actually played this game. It’s a late replacement for Zombies Ate My Neighbours, which I only today found out had a sequel to Ghoul Patrol, and as such isn’t eligible for this blog (shame as I LOVE LOVE LOVE that game). So, what causes this game to warrant a mention despite never having played it? Well, you play a glove, and the point of the game is to get a ball to the end of the level. Admit it, that is SUPER unique. You could even make that game a VR one with motion controls in the modern era. It’s not the most famous glove in video game history, that would be the power glove, and how was that received?

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Oh, not good then. So yeah it’s safe to say this is probably the best-received videogame based glove of all time. I admit that’s an extremely low bar but still.

This is a weird game, but it would also be a lot of fun for drunk people to play together. Do short levels where people make asses of themselves in front of their friends.

Blast Corps (N64: 1997)

This is a strange game, but once I tell you the premise of it you’ll wonder why it’s not been done since. Here goes: you have to destroy buildings to stop a runaway nuclear missile hitting them. Yes, it’s incredibly 90’s but it’s just so satisfying. In many ways it’s a puzzle game, you have to figure out the best way of achieving the goals with the tools at your disposal. And there’s a lot of tools (insert obvious joke here) for you to play with. Bulldozers, giant robots, the A-team van, all of them you can use. Personally, I feel that’s the games biggest weakness; there’s no consistency between levels. You’ll be driving a bulldozer in one level and the next one you’d have to attempt it with a dump truck when it would have been easier with the aforementioned dozer. There’s no reason given for you abandoning the vehicle at the end of every level and it’s just kind of weird as it makes no sense for the story. This is the biggest change I’d make. I’d also attempt to link the levels somehow so it’s a semi-open world. So each level is distinct but you drive through tunnels to get to the next one whilst it loads, giving the appearance of one continuous level (similar to how they did it in Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland). Have it so you can have any vehicle you’ve unlocked if you choose, BUT either have it so you have to pay attention to petrol levels, or have vehicle wear and tear so you don’t use the same one again and again.

Eternal Darkness (Gamecube: 2002)

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Would you believe that this moment FUCKED ME UP when I first played it?

Obviously, I was going to mention this. A psychological horror game where you have a sanity meter, and when that depletes, well, shit gets weird. By which I mean:

  • A character dramatically changes size, growing to become a giant, or shrinking to become tiny.
  • Blood drips off the walls
  • Paintings change from idyllic landscapes to hellish ones.
  • Statues come to life and look at you as you walk past them.

So far, so standard, right? I mean, it’s a neat quirk but nothing game-changing. But then it gets MUCH better when it doesn’t just get weird for the character, it does for the player too. It’s great as it starts messing with your head as you play it. Here are some of my favourites:

  • The screen goes blank, making it seem as if your TV has turned itself off.
  • The volume suddenly lowers.
  • The camera begins tilting.
  • The game will appear to reset.
  • A fly starts walking on the screen.

That last one genuinely got me, I went up to the screen and tried to swat it way. Clever bastards. I think this is a great idea and one I’d love to see implemented (why the Resident Evil or Outlast franchises haven’t done something similar I have no idea). It’s even more puzzling when you consider the multiple new ways players can be messed with. Just off the top of my head:

  • Lost internet connection.
  • Fake messages from your contacts.
  • Deleting all your games.
  • A message from the police saying they’ve found illegal content in your internet history (for PC version)

Even better (but MUCH trickier to do) would be to have it connect to a camera that is directed at the player and shown onscreen (like when you watch a lot of streamers on twitch etc). Then have THAT screen get fucked up, make it look like things are appearing behind them etc. This will also REALLY add to the experience of watching them being streamed. Another way; if people have headsets on where they’re talking to people then have fake voices on it. Now, these suggestions are intense and could lead to issues, but just imagine how shit scared you’ll be playing them.

That’s that done, which obvious ones did I miss? I know I’m probably missing A LOT of sega and PlayStation games, so let me know.