Biffo, Gannon, Larry and Octav1us reminisce about the BASIC programming guide that came with the ZX Spectrum. That is, until their carefully crafted segment gets interrupted by a certain furious pig...
Appropriately for a video about the failed ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld, our attempts to talk about it are derailed entirely by the unexpected appearance of a certain furious pig...
Featuring Mr Biffo, Paul Gannon, Octav1us and Larry Bundy Jr.
Well strap my face to a lathe and grind me to bacon bits: I'm so grasped with irritation I could milk my own eyes.
Good God in a sex pod. Most game news is dull, isn't it? I mean, when you look at the bland, unsweetened oatmeal that passes for most game news these days, it's little wonder that everyone's plucking at the carcass of the Peter Molyneux/Godus story like a pack of musical sewer rats. If you're a games fan, that's literally the only thing going on that's actually interesting. Why do we pretend to care about stuff that is so spine-compactingly dull?
Why, I'm so angry I could vomit up a 50lb fly. And not any old fly: but a proper dirty one, that's been sniffing round a pile of worryingly dry dog sick. DRINK MORE WATER, YOU STUPID HOUND. Drink so much you actually drown.
So anyway. Something I've been thinking about a lot recently (recently = since about five minutes ago) is this: consoles are well boring now, aren't they and that innit? Whatever happened to the days when we got consoles that looked like car engine components, or DJ decks?
Well, staple my stomach to a goitre and roll me into a sitar stand. I'm so angry this week I could pass a stool. And when I say "stool", I literally mean one of those three-legged chairs. Hnng.
As I've previously complained, one of the things I hate more than almost all other things - more than genocide, hatred, and hatred among theatregoers ("theatred") - is video game cover art.
I dunno why, but it's generally so uninspired and lacking that it reduces me to a seething broth of adrenaline and punching.
With the thighs of the new year still freshly-wrapped around our necks, it's time to descend once more into The Pit of Loathing, and give a good kicking to some of the coming year's most highly anticipated games. HNNNNNNG!
THE WITCHER III: WILD HUNT
The biggest issue with the cover of The Witcher III is that it's so nondescript I'm struggling for something to say about it. And that's precisely why it offends: if mediocrity were a crime, those responsible for this would be locked up in The Tower, and have red-hot cobs inserted into their dents.
How long do you reckon it took them to come up with the "concept" of this cover? Two minutes? A minute?
"Yeah. It's alright. But... can't we give him glowing eyes, or something?"
"Alright. How's that?"
"Yeah, that'll do. That's probably fine now."
THE ORDER: 1886
Look: it's some sepia olde-timey guys, and a sepia olde-timey woman. And what's that in the hand of the sepia olde-timey guy at the front there?
Is it a collection of brass pipes? Or some sort of slimline oil radiator? Is this a game about Victorian plumbing, perhaps?
It's impossible to tell, because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to slap the game's logo over the one bit of the image which might suggest this game is about more than just posing for photographs in the 1800s.
Firstly, that logo is horrible. It looks like someone made it with a potato stamper.
Secondly, on first glance that image looks like some upside down guy in a hazmat suit, without a head, sinking into a tar pit.
Thirdly, who knows what the game might be about from this? Fossils? Collecting fossils? Is it a game about fossils? I really hope it's a game about fossils!
Lastly, just a suggestion, but if you want your game cover to stand out amid the crowd, maybe choose some colours other than black, grey, and other shades of grey.
DARK SOULS II: SCHOLAR OF THE FIRST SIN
Evidently, this is some sort of Harry Potter spin-off, as it's clearly a game starring the erstwhile half-giant Maigret (Hagrid), as played by the Rabbi Coltrane.
But wait! What's Hagrid holding in his hands there? Is it a cabbage? A chimpanzee's skull? A WWE belt?
We don't really know - but we bet Judas Priest wish they'd thought of it first.
DEAD ISLAND 2
Check it out, everyone! Duke Nukem is attacking a meth addict with that decorative mulberry bush!
Oh wait - that's not a mulberry bush. It's a giant Chupa-Chup covered in a swarm of cockroaches. And that's not a meth addict - it's Billy Zane.
At least this artwork is clean and to the point, and does the job of telling you exactly what this game is - basically more of the same as the first Dead Island.
IE: not something you'd ever want to play, unless you happened to be the biggest idiot on earth.
It's important to point out the comically lacklustre name for this game about cars.
Do we reckon "Project Cars" was written down on a memo at the start of the development process, and they just forgot to think of something better?
And now let us reflect upon the artwork, which doesn't even feature any cars, and looks like a late-90s flyer for a nightclub, as designed by a sixth-former for his graphic design coursework.
Congratulations, imbeciles: you're reasonable at Photoshop.
It's difficult to tell who the guy in the trench coat is - it's either Batman or Keith Flint from The Prodigy.
Either way, he appears to be on his way home from the breakers yard, as he's carrying a couple of bits of old car engine - I think that's an exhaust in his right hand, and part of a gearbox in his left.
And it looks like he's taken a shortcut through the local graveyard.
I truly can't wait to play the game, and have my chance to fit the parts to his car, which - I am assuming, from this artwork - is the entire point of the game. Pity's sake.
THE VIEWS OF FAT SOW DO NOT NECESSARILY COINCIDE WITH DIGITISER'S OWN.
Well sellotape my shoulders together and call me a stickleback. I'm so angry this week I could burst all over a crone.
In case you've missed the news over the last couple of days, Sony has been hacked big stylee, by a North Korea-sympathising group of (I assume) super-heros going by the name The Guardians of Peace. The hack - which led to gigabytes of confidential emails pulsing out online - was apparently in retaliation for the upcoming Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy The Interview, which revolves around the imagined assassination of pouting bad hair man-baby Kim Jong Un (please don't hack me, North Korea - it's just a joke... plus he really does look like a pouting bad hair man-baby).
If this is the future of warfare - striking at the Western capitalist dogs by embarrassing their beloved celebrities and powerful Hollywood types - then this pig is all for it. It's got to be better than, y'know, dropping drones on wedding parties and that.
Anyway, tucked away in among the stuff was the revelation that Sony is working on a Super Mario movie, produced by Avi Arad. Negotiations with Nintendo were reportedly completed in late October. And it just got me thinking, in the part of my brain that isn't clouded by raw bacon: does anybody need that? Who cares about where Mario came from, or what he thinks: he's just meant to be a funny little Italian jumping guy who eats mushrooms. He's not remotely engaging as a character, but as a corporate icon and an avatar he's perfect.
More to the point though, does anybody need any movie based upon a video game? Of course we don't - but that doesn't stop bloated Hollywood idiots trying anyway.
WHY DO THIS?
There are dozens of video game movies in development. They've been trying to get a Halo movie off the ground for years (now it's becoming an Xbox Live series), and Hitman (retitled 'Agent 47' for the large screen) is out next Spring. But also brewing their thighs in the sweatbox are - among others - films based around Angry Birds, Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Heavy Rain, and most absurdly of all, Tetris.
I get why movie studios do it - there's a built-in brand awareness with an existing property, so you're guaranteed a certain number of buttocks on seats. But it just seems to cut against the entire idea of games - all the more so now that games are sometimes bettering the storytelling available at the so-called "cin-e-ma".
A game like Uncharted (also in the works as a movie) is already a brilliant, cinematic work of fiction - with the added bonus of also being a game. I honestly don't know how interested I'm going to be in watching that as a linear, non-interactive experience.
Worse still, it makes me weep and shake like a goon to hear they're planning a movie based upon The Last of Us, because The Last of Us has better characterisation, acting, and storytelling than a huge majority of the guff Hollywood regurgitates into our faces. It's been years since I gasped at a film, because I was so involved with the characters: I did that twice in The Last of Us. Twice!
I repeat for unnecessary emphasis: How can a movie of The Last of Us possibly be better than the game, or add anything to what is already on offer? It can't - that is the answer to your (my) question.
SERIOUSLY - WHY DO THIS?
Of course, all of this is somewhat moot given that - as a pig (and not even a real one at that) - I'm not allowed in the cinema, and can't remember the last time I watched any movie based upon a game. Oh wait - yes I can: I watched Battleship. Admittedly, that was based upon a board game, but completely justified my point nonetheless.
It was like someone had made a movie by stitching together bits from the corpses of Michael Bay movies. Unfortunately, the body parts they harvested were all from the lower digestive tract.
In saying all this, it's also completely pointless; what does it really matter what they make a movie of? I'm not going to lose any sleep over it. Churning out populist, identikit, guaranteed theatre-fillers is what helps fund stuff that can be more experimental and interesting.
Yet I suppose it just slightly grates that cinema is seen as the pinnacle of entertainment - its messed-up actors and creators unjustly positioned as the gods of our modern era - when it's becoming increasingly clear that games can now make a legitimate claim to that crown.
Now get your faces out of my sty, you ghastly voyeurs: It is time for Fat Sow to make sweet, sweet romance with herself.
THE VIEWS OF FAT SOW DO NOT NECESSARILY COINCIDE WITH DIGITISER'S OWN.
Well grip my ankles, roll me into a ball, and fling me at a milliner's face. I’m so furious this week that I’m foaming not only at my own mouth, but at the mouths of others also.
Does anyone ever stop to look at videogame box art? No? Well, they really should – because it’s almost always utterly, and irredeemably, abominable. It might be technically accomplished - big deal, Piccasshole: we can all pick up a pen - but the industry still seems to be appealing to profound idiots who wouldn't know what art was if it gave them an electric enema. Where is the game's industry's Nevermind? Or Sergeant Pepper? Or Unknown Pleasures?
Seriously; go and have a look at Amazon’s Top 100 games chart (if you can stomach thinking about how much more tax you probably pay than those responsibility-free slavemasters). Does anything stand out as an actual art done good? Or are they just trying to sell you something with the minimum amount of creativity, because they think you're an ignorant prole?
Let’s have a rundown, and see how hated you are:
Oh, I get it. Baseball cap... leather trench coat... gun... smartphone... So THIS is what a middle-aged gaming executive thinks a cool hacker guy looks like. Thanks for clearing that up.
And what’s this? You’ve put your generic, boring character against a generic, boring, rain slicked city? Congratulations. You must be very proud of yourself. How ever did you come up with the idea to riff on Blade Runner?
What's next for your midlife crisis? Turning up to work in trainers and a poncho, and starting your own YouTube vlog? I see. Apparently, you already do that, and you have 317 subscribers.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Here's something nobody has ever seen before: a sweaty, crop-haired, soldier hunk in some sort of dusty, sepia-toned landscape.
This is so generic your mind actually fails to notice the sole interesting element: he’s wearing an exoskeleton.
Sorry - my mistake. That's not remotely interesting. It looks more like he's been to visit some sort of elaborate, goth art jeweller.
The very definition of "That'll do"...
Basically, the same picture they had on all the previous FIFA boxes.
Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire
Confusing, primary-coloured monsters. It's the artistic equivalent of rattling a tin of chickpeas to get the attention of a mewling infant.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Well just look at that: some olde worlde hoodie men. It's almost like they're worried people won't buy their game if they think it's got an entirely historical basis.
Actual historical people are boring apparently: we must make our characters look more like the sort of men teenage girls fantasise about meeting at bus stops.
God forbid anyone would ever release a game which didn't feature some Cool Hunks. This suggests the game is basically Les Mis meets The Chippendales meets Dapper Laughs.
Is it bad that when I look at the guillotine in the background I imagine it chopping off the top half of their ghastly heads?
Far Cry 4
A man in a shiny pink suit, sitting in a chair, looking like he’s about to pass judgement on someone. If I wanted to see that sort of thing I’d watch Saturday night television.
Super Smash Bros
This one's like some fan art suffered a crippling migraine, and fell out of a window into a skip full of discarded hospital sharps.
The Sims 4
As if you’d just walked into somebody else’s family party, and everyone there is someone you'd like to punch about the throat and mouth.
And they'd probably deserve it.
Football Manager 2015
So. Let's get this straight (so to speak)... You thought this was suitable artwork for your football management simulator did you?
Two excited young men in shorts, looking over at an older gentleman dressed in a suit, who has both fists raised?
Everyone knows that football is the most homoerotic of all the sports, but still...
For once, words fail me...
FAT SOW'S VIEWS DO NOT NECESSARY COINCIDE WITH DIGITISER'S OWN.
Well stretch my lips over my snout and call me a peel-over. I’m back once again like the Renegade Master. Which opinions are the best sort of opinions? Pickled “o(p)nions”. And by pickled, I mean drunk – and I’m drunk right now on a heady concoction of resentment, indignation, and vodka. This is literally my rage against the machines.
Even though I’m just some made-up pig, who now exists even less than she did when she appeared every Monday, or whatever it was, on Teletext’s barely-remembered Digitiser, it doesn’t mean I’ve not spread my gaze over recent gaming developments, like furious butter on a limp slice of digital toast.
Do you know what I hate – and I mean literally hate more than I hate myself? Homogenisation. Yeah, ha ha – isn’t that a funny word… IF YOU’RE 14 YEARS OLD (because it has “genis” in the middle, which sounds like a mash-up between “penis” and “genitals”)? But it’s also a word that applies to the current state of console gaming. Homogenisation seems to have become a philosophy at The Big Two.
CRAPULOUS 4 BILLION
Completely ignoring the Wii U (as most of the buying public seem to do) there’s literally nothing to separate the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Now that Microsoft has stopped trying to pour its Kinect down our throats, like some weird waterboarding experiment, they’re pretty much the same console.
They’ve even given up with the casing design – what happened to consoles looking like some Giger-esque engine component (Mega Drive) or a DJ deck (PlayStation), or something you’d hang from a baby’s crib mobile (SNES)? Once upon a time you could actually get excited about unboxing a console. Now it has all the thrills of unwrapping a new boiler thermostat.
Even the controllers are edging closer together. It’s like – on an aesthetic level at least – the games industry is churning out identikit boybands. It’s skull-splinteringly boring. We get it – you want your console to sit unobtrusively in our living rooms. But it doesn’t. It sits there under the telly, constantly shrieking about how mature and grown-up it is, like some miniature philosophy student who’s just had his first shave.
Oh, sure, let’s all bleat on about the fact that games on the PlayStation 4 look generally a little bit better than the Xbox One. But watch those side-by-side comparison videos they put up on YouTube. Seriously – rip a hole in the gusset of your own awful prejudice and watch them closely. Watch them and ask yourself whether the difference is ever really that stark. Or really worth getting into some sort of pointless faff over. Honestly, does it matter?
Frankly, I even struggle to tell the difference between 30fps and 60fps, or even really see how graphics have improved since the previous generation of machines. And even when I can tell the difference, it’s so slight that I can’t work up the energy to care. For the most part, all these new machines seem to really be able to do is throw more antagonists at the screen. It’s as if George Lucas went even more mental, and re-released the original Star Wars films again – only this time there were 400 identical Darth Vaders in every scene, running around like a flock of hyperactive children.
But oh no – we’re all too scared to say this aren’t we? Buddha forbid we question the wisdom of spending three hundred slurps just to have a few extra dust motes floating around the screen.
I mean, let’s get real here. What has this new generation really given us? On both systems, the Uncanny Valley still seems only incrementally closer to being bridged. Slicing the skin off Kevin Spacey’s sour face and wrapping it around a ventriloquist’s dummy isn’t going to convince anyone you’re watching a real person. NPCs still have that same, stop/start-y, bobble-headed gait that they’ve had for years.
I dunno what I was expecting. I just feel a bit cheated. Not only am I unable to really tell the difference between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, but I can barely tell the difference between them and the 360 and PS3. Surely a new generation was never meant to be like this? Surely it was never meant to boil down to which one has the exclusive rights to Tomb Raider for a bit, or which one upset you the least by not insisting you grant its executives access to a potential live stream of you wandering around with your genis hanging out.
Visually, there’s been nothing I’ve seen thus far on the Xbox 360 and PS4 that has impressed me as much as flying over the sun-licked mountains in GTA V, or the ocean waves in Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag (more or less identical across the generations), or the sublime and subtle characterisation in The Last of Us. Maybe I’m expecting too much too soon, but it’s like the console industry has entered its iPhone phase. We’re being tempted to upgrade, where there’s no real compelling reason to do so. At least on a new iPhone you can play all your old games.
God. I hate the people responsible for this rage. I hate those people, and all other people and things equally.
THE VIEWS OF FAT SOW DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT DIGITISER’S OWN.
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