One thing I'm thinking of doing - and probably will be doing soon - is setting up a second YouTube channel. It would allow Digitiser2000 to remain more curated towards gaming stuff, and give me an outlet for the sort of stuff that would end up losing us subscribers if I put it up on the main channel. You know: Found Footage-y type bits, more personal vlogs, outtakes... basically anything that I think some of you would enjoy, where I don't have to think about views.
We filmed a couple of videos last week which I think were hilarious, but I know they'd just annoy some of our viewers if I put them out on Digitiser2000, because they're nothing to do with gaming (despite featuring Eli Silverman in a Mario costume). So, this new channel would be the place for that sort of thing.
Also, back to Digitiser Series 2... one thing that has really been noticeable is that the recent videos have done much, much better in certain respects than Digitiser The Show. The views aren't as high - yet anyway; it's early days - but people are watching them the whole way through. Doubtless this is down to the series eps being much longer, and featuring a grab-bag of different topics, which means people switched off if there was something they didn't like.
This is shaping my thinking on a second series. Certainly, shorter episodes are a must, but I'm considering whether the route to go would be to crowdfund a far longer series of more ambitious, shorter, episodes - in the single-topic vein of the Digitiser Minis, but with a proper budget and higher production values than the eps we're currently putting out. Would love to know in the comments what your thoughts are on this.
Onwards! With letters!
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
- What do you think of the Dezaemon series of shmup-creation software? Two of them are available on the PS Store, BTW, as PSOne Classics. #notsponsored
- How do they compare to SEUCK?
- Do you have a favourite Tactical RPG? That’s the likes of Shining Force, Fire Emblem etc. for those who don’t know.
- Related to the above, I am/was playing the PS1 Arc The Lad games - £4 each on PSN (again, not sponsored) - at the time I am/was typing this. Thoughts?
2. I hadn't heard of that either until just now.
3. Not really. There was one on my iPad that I once played for an entire flight to America many years ago, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. I sort of prefer action-RPGs. Though, oddly, I don't mind a turn-based strategy game. Into The Breach is quite fun.
4. I... don't have any real overriding memory of Arc The Lad, other than thinking it was a stupid name.
Have these been the best answers ever!!!!!!!!!?!!!!??? Yes. Yes they have.
During the half term I took the family up to stay at my sister's near York.
One of the days when the weather was pleasant we decided to take a trip to the seaside to indulge in the great British tradition of looking at, but not entering, the sea, eating fish and chips and wasting money in a grotty arcade.
I meant to go to Hornsea but ended up going to Withernsea due to my not entirely paying attention while my sister recommended where we go.
Withernsea itself was quite lovely, if rather small, so after eating the fish and chips and observing the sea the only thing left to do was find an arcade for the kids to empty some coins.
Withernsea appeared to have two sizable arcades next to each other, Game King and Teddy's Amusements. I say appeared as they were actually joined by an open door. The resulting super amusements was the length of a good sized pier.
As you'd expect inside was mostly ticket dispensing dross and 2p pushers in various states of disrepair (although there was a Ms Pacman/Galaga anniversary cabinet) but one of said ticket-spewers caught my attention.
The machine in question was clearly a Plants vs Zombies machine. The player controlled pea shooters shooting a horde of zombies on screen, but for some reason the pea shooters were frosted white and the machine bore the title "Ice Man."
I marvelled at it. What did Plants vs Zombies have to do with ice? Was it the same game in a rebranded cabinet? What was it doing outside China? The official PvZ Last Stand machine only had one player, how did this have two? Most importantly, was it any good? I had to find out.
I called the boy over, we sat down and inserted £2.
Right away I was taken aback. A stream of water, strong enough to jet wash a patio came forth from the pea shooters and hit the screen displaying the level select. We selected the first level and away we went.
Gameplay was predictably simple. Shoot the zombies before they get to you, collect coins, go to next level. It didn't appear to have been scaled for two players so it was rather easy up until the last boss but I won't deny it was fun (even when warnings were sounding that the water level was too low and the pressure dropped to a pathetic dribble) and we did get enough tickets for a squeeze ball that broke before we'd reached our car.
Still, some questions remained. The titular Ice Man was probably the final boss, a yeti, but why non-ice zombie minions? It was definitively a different game so why craft a custom 2 player cabinet for 2 pea shooters in an ice themed game? Had the manufacturer of the original cabinet gone out of business and left thousands of competed pea heads to go to the highest bidder?
Back at base I googled the creator Superwing. Their main page showed low pixel images of other machines, including a dinosaur hunter one which also appears to use PvZ peashooters, but every link 404's. I'm no investigative journalist so I left it there, curiosity not entirely satisfied.
So, there you have it. My run in with a bootleg arcade machine in 2019. I think there's a rabbit hole of bootleg machines waiting to be uncovered, could be a feature maybe? Maybe you've already done one that I've missed in which case I apologise. I've attached some pics of the machine.
Greetings Sir Biff Bichard (I can't believe I'm the first one to come up with that, so if that is an old one please use Biff Rhys Jones instead).
Firstly, would just like to say how good I think the site/YouTube stuff is at being inclusive without dumbing down.
I wouldn't class myself as a serious gamer by any means, and I missed most of the classic 80s stuff (I only really started with the Megadrive, and then often go several years between a new console so I'm aware there's loads of great stuff I've never played), but the content you put out always seems made with a genuine enthusiasm to inform, rather than a closed shop, 'it was only available on import so of course you'll not have heard of it', vibe.
But the few things you have discussed that I do have some prior knowledge of have all been done in a way that still made me want to read/watch. Maybe one day I'll get round to picking up one of those classic game devices that has hundreds of oldies in one place - perhaps not the 360 Rocker Palm Eyecare though...
As it is, I tend to stick with 2 or 3 favourites at a time, and reading last week's letters I thought my current game of choice worth mentioning in the context of episodic, Resident Evil style, film adaptionalised games with a variety of difficulty settings.
Apologies if this game has previously been subject to a scathing Digi review followed by a frenzied twitter debate, but I don't recall seeing it mentioned here before. It's called The Long Dark, and it's a kind of post climate apocalypse survival simulator.
Hunt, scavenge, stay warm, explore. It started in early access and still only has 2 episodes released after several years, and to be honest, until a recent update the episodes were less cop than the police station at the start of Resi 2. LINK ME DO, because the sandbox mode (put in as a bit of a throwaway by the developers) would definitely give Richard (of last weeks' letters fame) his fix of Resi style supply conservation and escape/ fight/ avoid conflict.
Do you try and take down the bear blocking your route with your last bullet, knowing that's a weeks' food and a lovely skin to craft, or retreat knowing the next indoor shelter can't be reached before night fall? Do you go into the blizzard in rags to reach the hut you passed but couldn't explore, or stay and repair your clothes as you slowly starve? Sadly you can't take a wolf's head clean off with a magnum. YET.
It's also permadeath, which I thought I would hate but I don't. Once I've messed up bad starting again can feel strangely cathartic. It has a well balanced set of difficulty modes, 'from Armageddon tourist' through to if 'this match doesn't light I'm going to die', and you never feel totally safe but it can also feel very serene and calming (there are no other human characters in sandbox to break up the fun with their incessant gob chunterring).
In sandbox you effectively set your own goals too, so you can either explore all of the locations, go for the longest survival possible as the weather worsens and man-made consumables slowly disappear, or just try to make it through the first few days on the hardest setting.
But the film will inevitably be shit.
Right, I'm off to tap up the Long Dark developers for some royalties and work on the brevity of my letter writing. Good luck with series 2!
Voiced by Guides
As for The Long Dark... somehow it had passed me by, but you've sold me on it.
After reading it basically every day since INCEPTION (its), Digitiser2000 finally got blocked on my work network. I can no longer spend my Fridays learning about stranger's poo, and might have to do what I'm paid for, or something.
Then again, public library; stranger's poo is pretty high on the agenda. I've ended up inspecting CCTV and writing logs (log-logs) just to figure out who decided to poo on the (toilet) (room's) floor. Top suspect: the guy who went in four times in an hour and was wiping his feet on the carpet for ages afterwards. Ages.
An ex-Rare and Free Radical Design staff member, David Doak lectures game design at the University opposite our office. As someone who spent an unhealthy amount of time in the late 90s playing Goldeneye, Perfect Dark and Blast Corps, when I found out he was literally across the road I got a little giddy with excitement.
That was about a year ago and I’d got over my initial excitement. However, recently I bumped into him in a nearby cafe. My fanboyism for Goldeneye couldn’t be restrained. I said hello and we briefly chatted. He said he was happy to sit down with a coffee and talk about his time at Rare and all that entails. We’ve yet to arrange anything, but he gave me his email address so at some point in the near future we’ll hopefully have a proper meeting.
I thought it might be worth mentioning to you on the off-chance there was something you really, really wanted to know about anything Rare related and I’ll ask him.
That aside, the new Digitiser stuff is brilliant. Gannon makes me laugh – a lot. The ensemble is great really, I’m looking forward to seeing series 2.
P.S. Years ago I lent my copy of Chatroom Freak to a mate to read on a flight to Australia and he said he made a mess of himself through laughing so much. The stewards asked him several times if he was okay. He does lose it when going into hysterics. I can imagine why they were concerned.
As for Chatroom Freak, I'm happy people are still enjoying it. I've tentatively considered doing some sort of new book thing in a similar vein, but I need to find an idea that's going to let me sort of free-associate in real-time, like what that one did.
As for Gannon and the ensemble making you laugh... don't miss tonight's video, for which we bring the team back together for some shocking larks.
I recently spotted the most sorry looking Amiga 500 in a second hand shop. It was pretty much free, so I took it home.
As it's incredibly incomplete (just the unit), I started wondering: is it really worth tracking down a (seemingly rare) power supply, RGB cable and F8 key? (which was also missing X_X). I love the machine's legacy (it's a very 'creative' machine and I'd like to think I'm a 'creative individual'), but maybe it doesn't even work. Perhaps you, or your readers could help me make my mind up.
So as I made my way home from the soccer-ball match last Sunday afternoon, I cut through the shopping centre with my family, and as I looked up through the swathes of perky people succumbing to their retail impulses, I spotted a majestic titan of cheerfulness bounding in my direction…
“I think that’s Mr Biffo” I whispered to my wife (“who?” she replied) … and as he drew nearer, I quickly decided I could not let this momentous opportunity pass me by, and plucked up the courage to politely/rudely enquire: “Hey, are you Mr Biffo?”
“Yes!” he instantly replied, “And this is the first time this has ever happened!”
(This all really occurred by the way – this is not just an elaborate set-up for a poop punchline).
And what unfolded next was an enchanting encounter indeed! I’d had a letter published here just a couple of weeks ago, so we had a launchpad for conversation – and thus we stood and chatted about Digitiser, Orlando, Disneyland, our geographical locations, my children … for a wholesome 2 minutes or so! (We covered topics very fast) – and Biffo even brought football into the conversation (a first?) after spotting one of my kid’s scarves!
Then we parted ways with a hearty handshake and I was filled with happiness for evermore. Well… at least for the next few minutes.
But hey, I genuinely mean it from the pit of my intestines, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you in person, and to be able to verbally express my gratitude for your output. I’ve been reading your work since I was 13 or 14 (so 20+ years) thus it’s no exaggeration to say you’ve had a legitimately huge impact on my sense of humour, how I write, and my attitude in general towards poop jokes.
And thank you for being so warm and friendly, despite me interrupting you and your partner’s shopping trip! I hope it was a very successful one. There was a Chicken Cottage nearby so I like to think you went home satisfied.
Also: I got to pretend I was famous for a couple of minutes, which is fun, but not something I'd want to happen all the time.
What you may not have noticed was the massive bag of pick and mix I had stuffed into my jacket pocket, which I'd been eating from without thinking as I walked around. By the time I got home, I felt sick, and had some weird hyperglycaemic reaction, and my wife hid the rest of the pick and mix to stop me eating the rest.
So sorry to hear about Magenta, Paul.
Mark Woods (Jabberwoc, a fan)
My only real memory of her was watching an episode of Network 7/Nozin' Around circa 1988 and seeing my old sociology and history teacher, Mr Moison, on there.
Now that I think about it, I don't understand why we never called him Mr Moisten. Another missed opportunity.
He was, nonetheless, my favourite teacher, because he once let us watch Monty Python in a lesson, and another time he was talking about Admiral Nelson's final words, and told us: "What he said was 'Kismet, Hardy', and not 'Kiss Me, Hardy', or even 'Kiss my hardie'".
He eventually had to tell me to calm down, because my laughter was disrupting the lesson.
All this talk and rumours of the next gen beginning soon seems a bit premature to me.
Do you think the next gen will start next year? I will be playing catch up for a while yet, as there are still so many games I have to buy let alone play.
Two of my favourite games this gen are Xcom 2 and Divinity Original Sin 2 have you played them Mr B?
What did you think of them?
Great video on Berserk, and just to let you know there is a superb clone on PSN ATM for the princely sum of £1.69 (I forget the name but it's great).
When will your video about the Neo Geo mini be up? When I was younger the two console's that I used to dream of owning were the Neo Geo and the PC Engine GT. Unfortunatley finances dictated that my destiny was to never own either machine. Anyway I am very interested in the Neo Geo mini and look forward to your appraisal.
As for the next gen... I dunno. Aren't the rumours now saying 2021? Maybe we'll hear more at E3.
308) At the risk of starting with a big question, what do you think computer games' biggest influence on popular culture has been i.e. in what main way have they made an impact?
309) Which games character do you think could have been a bigger 'star' than they ended up being?
310) It often seems to me that there are several musical acts e.g. Starcadian, Justice, Lacquer and many others that would not exist had Daft Punk not existed, but actually made better music than Daft Punk themselves (recently anyway). An example of a games equivalent might be Super Mario Brothers, which owes a great debt to Pitfall, but soon eclipsed its progenitor. Can you think of any others?
311) If you had to choose someone as being the most creative games designer, regardless of the actual quality of their games, whom would you choose? You might not like this, but I am nominating Hideo Kojima - there are so many creative moments in his games and while some are downright silly, something like The End, or Psycho Mantis battles are something that few others would have been able to imagine.
312) On a related note, what is your favourite 'nice touch' in a game? By way of example, I remember being genuinely amazed by the dog tag scene at the end of Metal Gear Solid 2, or, in fact, the way that the rain would bounce off the camera in first-person mode on the tanker.
313) Would you rather have never played Skool Daze, or Super Mario Brothers?
314) Do you think that retro gaming will be helped or hurt by the apparent march towards streaming and emulation?
315) What, relatively, was the best era for first-person perspective shooting games?
309) That's a tough one, because it needs to be a combination of iconic character design and a great game. For some reason, Ristar pops into my head, but even he was clearly a derivative of the Mario/Sonic school of character design. Great game though.
310) Oh, loads. I mean, even Sonic The Hedgehog was Sega's response to Mario. The one I always come back to is Resident Evil, which most people forget was a fairly shameless rip-off of Alone In The Dark.
311) Kojima is a true auteur, without a doubt, and many of the things he brought to his games, which others hated - breaking the fourth wall and the like - I've always loved. Miyamoto is the most obvious example of a creative game designer, though. It's hardly an original answer, but with good reason.
312) I've got a real thing about mud and puddles in games. I was blown away by them in King Kong and Call of Duty 3 on the Xbox 360. And on a related note, I loved how your car would get progressively more dirty in Colin McRae.
313) Super Mario Bros. I couldn't live without having played Skool Daze. I've much more of an emotional connection to it.
314) That depends whether old games end up being properly curated. At the moment it's a free-for-all, when it comes to ROMs, but if somebody could package up all the old games - in some sort of gaming Netflix - I'd happily pay six quid a month.
315) For me, it was that era that happened just after Doom; Duke Nukem 3D, Dark Forces, Heretic, Hexen... into Sin, Goldeneye, Medal of Honor, Terminator Future Shock, Outlaws et al, culminating in Half-Life.
You want Friday letters! I have nothing to say! I have no questions because I always unleash them on Patreon!
So instead I'll say:
I hope everyone reading this (should this make the page) is having a good week. Regardless of what your brain goblins may say, you are a deeply loved and appreciated person and you have a positive impact on this world.
Also: bum poo willy fanny.
So, a new ToeJam And Earl game's finally been released, and by that, Idon't mean the rerelease on the Mega Drive Collection, I'd say it's exciting, but is it one of the franchises that deserved to be revived?
And I say that as someone who's never played TJ&E ever, yet has seen gameplay, and let's not forget about the many other classic franchises that never got a new release like Jet Set Radio and
the-series-i-dont-know-the-name-of-but-has-Jet-Set-Willy-innit. Just wanted to know.
From the BV reviewer.
P.S. Sonic 3 didn't appear in the AtGames Genesis collection in 2016 too, but S&K did, just a update on the Michael Jackson/SEGA video.