If you're in Blackpool for Play Expo this weekend, you'll get to see a glimpse of episode one. Everyone who has seen the first episode has come away raving about it - even those who don't have the first idea what Digitiser is - and it's fair to say that it isn't even the best episode of the series. Suffice to say, we're easing you in... Oh, HELLO!
Right. I need to drive up North. On with the letters...
No. Wait. Hang on.
Do you like Digitiser? Are you looking forward to Digitiser The Show? I'm doing all the editing for that and writing on here more or less for nothing - barring what I already receive from my lovely backers. That's a lot of work isn't it? More than you could ever know. And I buy all review copies and hardware from the monthly Patreon fund.
So, if you do enjoy what I do, please consider becoming a Patron of all things Digitiser. It won't cost much a month, and you do get blog posts from me, which tend to be a bit more personal than I write about on the site.
Go here now!
If you'd like to appear here, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone, or you've got a picture of a bin you wish to share, please send your filthy emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Somebody mentioned Monty Mole in last week’s letters page. Apparently, the company Urbanscan, owner of Gremlin’s IPS, were remaking/reimagining/etc. the Monty games alongside other Gremlin titles. This venture suddenly and mysteriously stopped after the first such release - Bounder’s World.
Information is suspiciously limited.
Has Mr. Biffo got any details on this situation?
Hope all is going well with your hard work on Digitiser: The Show. I'm very much looking forward to watching it.
In the meantime, I have hastily slapped together a web game of silliness in the hope it might assist in bringing exposure to the whole Digi "thing".
You can find it at http://mattbarney.co.uk/bin-o-sneak/ with source code etc available if you so wish.
Take care of yourself, and don't work too hard!
I hope this missive finds you well.
As I've never written in before, I'd like to complement you on the excellent of the articles and reviews on the website - a most enjoyable read (I did write into Digi for a competition once when it was on Teletext, though... I didn't win because I had the same unoriginal idea/answer as most of the other correspondents).
Interesting article on the costs of games machines this week. I'm old enough to have had an Atari 2600 (but not old enough to have paid for it by myself!), and I couldn't believe its cost, adjusting for inflation. I can't really adjudge it to have been worth either £199 or £1,085 of today's money! Or 50p, for that matter.
One other thing - unless my reading comprehension skills are lacking (I really hope not - I've won awards for it and stuff), I've detected lately that you rather enjoy(ed) a game of Road Rash. What I wonder, having enjoyed both, is whether you had any love for Skitchin'?
Have a nice Friday and a good weekend too.
I just got an email today saying I'll finally have to pay £175 for the privilege of several additional kilos of plastic alongside a copy of Fallout 76, which I don't even think I'll play. I love Fallout, but I fear I've come to the jarring realisation that it's officially too much to spend on "collectibles".
Possible short-term happiness aside, do you think these type of things are ever a worthwhile investment? Are game makers just taking the piss now?
What's the game like? I dunno. It needed a big update and I couldn't be bothered with it, so I went back to playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Anyway. It's all in the eye of the beholder innit? I'd never (intentionally) fork out for a bit of extra tat, but that's mostly because I'm trying to live a relatively tat-free existence these days.
Says the man who just bought a ton of old LCD games on eBay for the purposes of a feature that he's probably not going to end up doing.
I’ve disliked Super Mario Bros 2 for something like 25 years. Last week I completed it for the first time. It just seemed like something I needed to do. The result... I still think it’s a big poo.
There’s a disconnect between seeing Mario and then pressing the buttons and a different game happening, and that’s only become more prominent as the years have passed and the Mario formula has been refined.
There’s no way Doki Doki Panic would have sold 7 million copies or that people would be still be playing it now so I guess it was a shrewd move. Still it’s an awful game and if you disagree then why was there never another one? Eh? Eh?
Hark, I hath questions:
1. Which is worse Mario 2 or Lost Levels?
2. Considering they made two Mario 2s, one re-skin cash grab and the other a churned out cash grab, how good is Mario 3?
3. How come nearly all Mario sequels are different, but no other games do this?
4. The New Super Mario Bros. games are rather bland don’t you think?
2. Mario 3 is most excellent, Lindsey. That said, going back to it now, the controls - specifically Mario's momentum - is surprisingly demanding and tricksy.
3. I dunno why that is. You could say the same about Zelda - barring Ocarina of Time/Majora's Mask. Which felt like an aberration even at the time. I think it's just the Nintendo approach to making everything new and fresh, and really thinking about what they do, before putting pen (code) to paper (whatever it is that they put code into).
4. They're no Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario 3D, but I've quite enjoyed them. They don't seem to have the wealth of ideas as a Super Mario World, but what does?
Last week I was in the right place at the right time. I got myself a boxed ZX Spectrum for £20. Manuals included too. Sold “for spares” - but it works! Joy!
But wait! The best thing is the plug on the mains lead. It’s clearly from a previous decade. Here’s a photo.
It’s a Bakelite monstrosity, and get this: there’s a switch at the front of it. That turns power on and off. I have never seen anything like that before. Clearly from a time when wall sockets may not have had a switch on them.
I’ve replaced it with a modern plug. The wires inside were not properly anchored to the pins. Also the fuse was a 13amp. Always check those plugs on second hand electricals!
As this Spectrum will end up in a school for Code Club end of term fun, the need for a modern safe plug is necessary. However, the plug will be kept. It’s an interesting curio, but it will not be powering anything again while I have it.
THANKS A LOT, DUNNING.
It’s about time I sent you a serious message for a change, so perhaps you can keep this one away from the shredder for a minute longer!
Thank you for all your support for this year’s Teletext Block Party. It was wonderful to see many familiar faces from the comments section of this site in the fleshy real world.
I’d also like to extend a thank you to organiser Jason Robertson, the Teletext Archaeologist, who has spent many a month meticulously smoothing out every fine detail to ensure a wondrous weekend for all concerned.
But one thing from the event that’s gone relatively unnoticed is the launch of WikiTelFax (WTF), Peter Kwan’s new online teletext service that anyone can edit. On Sunday we had at least seven people simultaneously editing the same teletext page from different parts of the U.K.
For the curious, it can be found at http://www.xenoxxx.com.
While learning to use this service, I put together the first page of a theoretical comic strip entitled "The Continuing Adventures of Mr T". It may be the sort of thing your readers would like to see, so I’ve attached an image.
I very much look forward to the madness of PLAY Blackpool and your Gaming Antiques Roadshow panel. I would bring along my limited edition Boogerman jar of wet farts, but it has recently been designated as ‘Worse Than Sonic’s Rings’ and placed in quarantine by the European Toxic Wastes Bureau.
And that’s it, so you may now shred this message.
...Seriously, please shred it - the Toxic Wastes Bureau are looking for me.
Also: I rather like the look of your comic strip. It reminds me of the old Oracle 4-T adventures. 4-Mr T, in fact.
For those who missed Block Party 2018.
1. Some lovely photos: https://tammylynn.co.uk/bloktoberfest/
2. Vote for the best artwork: http://teletextart.co.uk/voting-now-open-bloktoberfest-teletext-art-competition
3. A written account: http://arbitraryfiles.com/events/blockparty18.html
Starlink looked really good, but all I'm hearing about the masses of DLC is really burning my socks. I thought Disney had successfully murdered that particular monetisation model, and yet here we are.
Anyway we all know the best bit was Star Fox, so it got me thinking what a Star Fox game on the Switch would be like.
Would it stick to the idea of branching missions with secret paths, occasional all-range mode/Landmaster/walker stages, great dumb bosses? More open world, a Rebel Galaxy/Elite(?)-inspired series of missions with lots of sideq uests/procedurally generated encounters? A visual novel?
As long as the multiplayer is good, I'm probably in. Though how a multiplayer VN would work I'm not sure...
What's a Friday Letters Page without a mention of poo?
I now realise that my letter last week was a travesty and I endeavour to try to write a letter of more substance this week.
Good luck to you and the rest of the crew heading up to Blackpool for PlayExpo this weekend. I wish I could be there for the live Digitiser experience - 90 whole minutes of (semi) organised chaos? What an absolute treat everyone’s in for (but possibly not Gannon, judging by the videos you shared earlier).
Hope you all have a blast, and enjoy getting the band back together after the wild time you had filming in July. Can’t wait for the live episode of the series proper, which I am going to ringfence on my calendar as soon as the date is announced, and nothing, NOTHING, shall be allowed to get in the way of it.
I can’t quite believe we’re now properly counting down to the release of episode 1 - you must have been editing round the clock since last month to get it ready. I am, quite predictably, a giddy, quivering mass of anticipation. I know it’s going to be great - even a landmark moment, if you’ll allow the hyperbole. And the most amazing thing is that it’s happening now, and it’s Digitiser. We are truly lucky people.
As excited as I am to see it, I think what makes me just as happy is knowing that you’ve had the opportunity to express yourself free from the restrictions of the day job, and realise your vision. I hope you feel you’ve been able to do that, that you’ve achieved what you set out to do, and made the kind of show you wanted to make.
You do you, Paul - the show will find its audience naturally. The patented Biffo brand of anarchic humour is already known and loved, so trust your instincts.
Speaking of Biffo-branded humour - those fancy Found Footage doohickeys look rather lush indeed, and more than worth the wait. A deep dive into the bonus material is definitely in order! Is there much in the way of deleted scenes, or did it pretty much all make it into the series? And, importantly (because I’m sure Glyn will want to know) - are they in-universe canon?!
Have a most excellent time in Blackpool - and do try not to give anyone an anaphylactic shock if you can help it...
PS I’m doing the absolute bully best I can to harvest all the recovered Digi screenshots that are out there for the Super Page 58 archive, but sadly this key site has gone down: http://al.robotfuzz.com/~al/teletext/ Don’t bother clicking, it’s not there anymore. Its loss has tragically deprived us of a load of recoveries from ‘93 and ‘94, so if anyone knows how to get hold of the gent behind it, please do let me know. Cheers!
Sent from my iPhone
It took me a long while to figure that out. The solution? Found Footage-y interstitials! Frankly, Found Footage was always meant to be one long Digitiser-style reveal-oh, but it's still weird how well they fit. I edited a Le Chef one yesterday... Le-Pompt!
The Found Footage USBs are really, really lovely. And, of course, we could get a lot more stuff on there than we could with a DVD. In terms of deleted scenes... there were really only two, one of which would've required a full edit (though it didn't seem worth it, as I was never hugely pleased with my script for it), and another of which I simply couldn't find.
There is some of the former on the USB though, but overall it's a bunch of raw footage - plus the premiere Q&A, the Trojan Arse documentary, and assorted bits and bobs... including most of the music from the series. There's hours of stuff. 16gb's worth!
I am in America at the moment so apologies if I have missed the deadline.
229) I feel that the standard of computer game reviews has rarely been lower. So many reviews at the major websites have very little to do with how the game plays or its features. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prime example - many sites, Polygon, Kotaku and, to an increasing extent, Eurogamer seem to be more concerned with writing a sociological essay with only vague references to the gameplay.
I believe that there is a place for this sort of writing, but I feel that the actual review part of reviews is being lost.
230) With the sad end of GamesMaster magazine and Games TM, other than the loss of jobs, I feel that the real loss is the ever-decreasing British voice in games writing. American sites have almost a monopoly on English language content. Do you think less British publications is bad, or am I being too parochial?
231) What is a game feature that is extremely popular but that you would not have thought would catch on. For me it would be photo modes.
232) Does Nintendo make too many sequels?
229) You might be right. Really, though, there are plenty of gameplay videos which show you how a game plays. I'd rather read a really great piece of writing than something which goes into the minutiae of a game's mechanics. That always bores me.
230) I think having a British voice in games journalism is important, but have we really lost it? I mean, there are billions of British gaming YouTubers, loads of British gaming sites - even IGN is overseen by former British games journalist royalty Julian "Jaz" Rignall. I think what has been lost somewhat is the quirkiness that was a hallmark of 80s and 90s games writing. Everything is so buttoned-up now, and hardcore, rather than being entertaining first. That to me was the hallmark of British games wring.
231) Bloody photo modes. In Assassin's Creed Odyssey I'm constantly activating the photo mode mid-fight, and it's driving me mental. In terms of what would catch on that I hadn't expected... I suppose I'm just constantly surprised by the popularity of streaming and gameplay videos. Not least Fortnite and Minecraft.
232) This is somewhat ironic, given that Nintendo once held a reputation for not making enough sequels. For me, they're guilty of making too many sequels to their lesser games - Mario Party springs to mind - and putting out deluxe versions of existing games (Mario Kart and Splatoon on the Switch). I'd never say no to a Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild sequel, but they're not going to be easy to churn out. Also: where are the Switch sequels to F-Zero, Pilotwings, Punch-Out, Warioware, Excitebike and Metroid??