Our current Spreadshirt store designs will be retired to make way for a batch of new items (some of which will be themed around Digitiser The Show), so get in now if there's anything you wish to purchase - as this'll be your last chance.
Anyhow. Time now for an epic Friday Letters Page to kick your weekend off in style (in the style of somebody who likes reading 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, please send your filthy emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a rap group called The Roots, they’re really good if you like that sort of thing (and, you know, awful if you don’t like that sort of thing). Anyway they do this really pretentious thing where the numbering of their tracks is carried over between albums - so there’s 17 tracks on their first album, track one of their second album is numbered 18 - even on concept albums when they really are stand alone pieces.
Anyhoo, I wish John Whyte had done that with his letters, so we could see where we’re up to.
If he happened to check through his emails, did a quick count up then started doing that I’d have a lot of love for him.
Who am I kidding, I already love him.
Why did the chicken bark?
What did the big orange say to the little orange?
Hope you’re well, fella. Just thought I’d reach out and say howdy.
I left Twitter a few weeks back because I finally reached peak “Eeuurrggghhh Twitter!”
Overall, I heartily recommend it. However, an unfortunate side-effect has been that I genuinely miss my daily dose of your deliriously delightful drivel. It’s pretty much the only thing I do miss from Twitter, to be honest.
Naturally I keep up-to-date with the site, but it’s just not the same. I follow you on Instagram, but you don’t seem to use that much (understandable – neither do I, to be fair).
Erm. Yeah. Not sure where I’m going with this now. Anyhoo, keep up the great work with Digi – it’s wonderful.
Have a great day chap.
PS: Almost forgot – what’s your favourite Star Wars character? There’s a non-weird reason I'm asking this, I promise...
Anyhow, I've never gotten into Instagram for some reason. I have an account that I've never posted on, and my other half intermittently updates the Digitiser2000 Instagram, but we're never sure what we should put on it. Anyone got any ideas?
I do use it occasionally, mind, just to look at other people's photos. And yet, I rarely share my own pictures on social media anymore. People get weird and judge-y don't they? Unless you just go on about how awful your life is. That generally seems more acceptable than, y'know, being positive and actually liking your life and that.
I recently had the rare opportunity to properly play one game, a string of evenings and weekends with no need to worry about save points. It turned out to be a cautionary tale about critical consensus, with a side suspicion that reviewers often can't afford to form their own opinions.
My first choice was the original Mass Effect, which has an excellent reputation. After ten hours, I realised why some people love it, and that I had better things to do.
During the first mission, one squad member was late for their cutscene while another got trapped in a space portacabin. Backgrounds eventually blended into one, with lots of concrete. I delved into the deep combat system at a severe difficulty spike, but the answer was to hide until enemies arrived single file.
I killed everyone in a seedy bar, management included. Fresh employees nonchalantly popped up, ready for a side quest where I had to convince one of them that this was a dangerous place, with words. The menace to the universe was swiftly and firmly established, so moral choices boiled down to being obliging or sulky.
If Mass Effect had a reputation for being ambitiously broken, then I would have got much further, gleefully skipping through rubbish parts by any means possible. Instead, popular opinion made me feel that I was playing it wrong, and learning the right way seemed too much work.
Deadly Premonition was next, with far lower expectations. There was no fear of not "getting it", no shame in picking easy mode, and eventually, no guilt about consulting a walkthrough for two minor sticking points.
Despite the friendly recaps and episodic structure, one play session only ended at the 4am intersection of my bladder and horror endurances. In short, everything this guy said, except for the voice acting, which I think is absolutely as it was meant to be:
In both games, it probably takes about one week for the main story then another to rinse them dry. I doubt if game journos are paid for that, so suspect most only play for a few hours, then crib from the more passionate or masochistic. Which generally goes unnoticed, because most players also don't finish their games.
Now, much as I love your listicles, your opinions on many of the games themselves seem borrowed. Which is kind of fine, because you obviously can't play all of Rod Hull's Top Ten Games Featuring Tasteless Jokes About Dead Celebrities in one morning.
However, what I love about the new Digitiser is funnies mixing with deeper features that would have been too big for Teletext. So, perhaps, when the mood strikes, trade several lists for another meaty feature, where you look beyond the received wisdom of things? As usual, on any topic you fancy, not just games.
Anyway, give Deadly Premonition a whirl. If you hate it, then at least you'll witness one monster with Sensorium Girlybox moves. If you get hooked, then you can tell us if its character psychoanalysis is a work of genius, or more harmful than the charlatans who put you off therapy.
Also, it's very important that you keep in mind, David, that this site isn't my job - nor does it pay well enough for it to become my job anytime soon - despite lots of kind people giving me money to keep it going...
Consequently, rather than trying to please the people who read this site - most of whom read it for free - I focus on writing stuff that I'll enjoy writing. And I guess I've mostly enjoyed writing listicles recently more than I have the big meaty articles. I find they're quite a good way of capturing the Digitiser spirit, as the entries are bite-sized, and broken down like classic Digi pages. On a similar note, I find that short Friday Letters emails work better than long essays...
That says, it tends to go in waves, and I'm sure I'll go through a phase of writing bigger, meatier, features sooner or later. Which, no doubt, will result in a load of people getting upset with me, or just hiding their rudeness behind passive aggression, which seems to happen from time to time...
Also, I sense from your letter that you're implying the listicles are knocked-out, when in fact they take about three times as long to do as the big, "meaty" pieces, because I have to research them, rather than just writing straight from my brain. So, that was rude and wrong of you.
You’re so Metroidvania you probably think this letter is about you.
I wrote last week about franchises I’d never played. I said I’d the N64 Castlevania was the only one I’d played, well now it’s not.
Via the magic or “electronics” of the NES Classic Mini I have now played Castlevania and I found it to be a decent but unforgiving 2D platformer. What I did not find it to be was anything like Metroid, which raised the question of why the cool kids are describing things as “Metroidvania” if the first ‘vania didn’t even Metroid.
Ah well, maybe the widely disliked Castlevania II is more Metroidesque? Nope! I’m a fair way into that (thanks mainly to GameFAQs) and it’s more akin Zelda II, not a hint of Metroidisms to my eyes and thumbs.
If you shouted METROID! into my good ear I’d think of Metroid, not Super Metroid, not Metroid Prime, but the “Metroidvania” crowd are obviously referring specifically to the SNES era games which makes the coining of the term more odd. Right?
All of the above is a pretty compelling reason to get people to stop lazily using term “Metroidvania”, if you can let everyone know that’d be lovely.
Although...people used to say “Doom Clone” to mean “First Person Shooter” when Doom wasn’t the first FPS but the term has now gone.
I don’t have a point at all here, I’m really sorry.
Anyway I also started God of War (2005), turns out it’s a “Gaidenetta”.
In true Inside the Actors Studio fashion I’m done talking about myself and here is the vaguely related question. You’ve written some things about games, have you ever fallen foul of using the latest trendy terms instead of journalism?
Additionally, what are some gaming terms we no longer use? I’m sure we’d all like to laugh at what silly billys we were.
P.S. Everyone was right, the cables on the NES Mini are STUPIDLY short. Surely the target audience are too old to sit on the floor.
Can you please let me know what is the best way to cook Dizzy the egg and all of his Yolkfolk friends?
I am sick and tired of EA releasing the same FIFA game year after year and charging more money for it just because it has new players! It’s almost like they’re more bothered about making money and not actually making a decent game!
No word of a lie I walked into my local Oxfam t’other day and saw several copies of FIFA from years past. Nobody cares once the next game come out. “Oh hey, I’ve a great idea - let’s play some FIFA 06” said nobody in 2018. Bring back the days of sensible world of soccer and Nintendo World Cup!
Them were the days ah tell thee...
The Gaming Muso
Recently I have been indulging in DOS game soundtracks (if I'm honest I do this all the time, but for the purpose of the letter it sounds good if it's a thing that is specific to what I'm doing now). What is your favourite video game soundtrack?
All the best
My Wife and I are about to have our first child.
Can you offer any name suggestions for our daughter? What PC games would you recommend we introduce her to first?
Casting my eye over some recent ramblings on the Digitiser 2000 page, I gather you’re not much a fan of Playstation VR. Funnily enough, neither am I.
After several very long, geeky discussions about PSVR with a pal, I managed to swing the loan of his headset and kit, plus a copy of The Persistence, which is being touted as the game PSVR was made for, apparently.
After two days of use, and a third spent almost completely inactive due to a HORRIFIC case of what I’ve learned is called ‘VR simulation sickness,’ I’m now convinced that PSVR is one of the biggest cases of Emperor’s New Clothes in gaming I’ve ever lived to see.
I’m actually quite surprised that there hasn’t been more public commentary on just how ropey an experience PSVR is for some folks. I knew from the off that plugging the unit into a launch model PS4 instead of a PS4 Pro I’d be missing something.
I was unprepared for the blurry, eye-killing mess that I suddenly found myself trapped in. Even after a good hour of setting up and tweaking all the little details that Sony (helpfully) don’t tell you about, measuring the distance between my pupils and all that guff, my reward was a virtual out-of-body jaunt through a space station that looked like it was smeared in Vaseline.
"But, okay," I figured. "Maybe it’s not wise to expect too much of the hardware. VR gaming at home is still a new thing, after all. I’ll persevere."
BIG mistake. It turns out that, beyond the motion sickness that plenty of people report after using PSVR, I’m one of the tiny number of users who respond unusually badly to it. After my third session stalking around a space station sneaking up on space zombies, I took off the headset when I started feeling a bit queasy. "This will pass," I told myself. But within half an hour, I was laid up in bed, desperately trying to hold my lunch down, staring at the ceiling and thinking "wow, it doesn’t get much worse than this."
Except it did. Because an hour later, I was puking like the little girl in The Exorcist.
I’ve since had a few folks tell me I gave up too easily, that VR affects everyone like that (I’m pretty sure it doesn’t!) and that the games are ace. But to me, it seems like a technology - or at least, one particular implementation of it - that is SHOCKINGLY unrefined. Early adopters paid almost the same price as their consoles for that?
There. I feel better now I've got that off my chest.
Last week I was let go of my temporary contract for making my immediate supervisor cry.
I managed this feat by asking for more training on their systems, and I stood in disbelief as she flew out the building crying*. As I had a review around lunch I had already packed up and was ready to bounce, which is how I have the time to craft you this letter..
Each day in that place was bizarre. I got chewed out for working too fast. Was not allowed to talk at all, even if it was about work. Told off daily for wasting paper (using the printer to print things we had to send out). I was warned for having stubble (I sat next to a bloke with a 90's line beard and he had giant patchy comedy stubble), and (naturally) told off for not deleting all my emails from the inbox. I could go on.
For the most part I just lapped it in with a sense of mystery and joy. I got to tell some amazing stories and I wanted to see what happened next, knowing full well I wasn't ganna stay.
Have you ever experienced anything as strange in your employment?
Also, are you hiring as my website's doing alright, but doesn't pay the damn bills.
Love all the thing you do,
*You might think... "oh he was rude, or talked back..." - but no. I really asked the one question and watched.
Anyhow, I can't say I've ever worked somewhere that I've experienced precisely the sort of things you mention, but... as a freelance writer, it's fair to say I've got stories I could share... but won't. I still have bills to pay.
That new Spider-Man game is looking super sweet, innit? I can’t wait to buy it in January for under £15. I’ve become quite frugal in recent years, especially since buying a Nintendo Switch - the system where every game costs an average of £50 forever.
Thankfully, I also own a PS4, the system whose games absolutely cannot retain their value in any way, sometimes not even digitally.
Another culprit in this new-found frugality is the fact I bought an unnecessarily powerful iPad Pro and all the gubbins with the keyboard case and the Apple Pencil and that. This means not only can I type you this letter on a largely impractical physical keyboard, but also my artistic abilities have gone through the roof as you can tell from my enclosed portrait of everyone’s favourite actor and role model, Johnny Depp.
Digitiser is back and we are MOST PLEASED!
Yesterday, my manager told me about one time when he was at a Marillion gig, he was talking to Fish's then girlfriend, and then roadies came and whisked her away from him because they thought he was trying to chat her up.
Also, he watched the Found Footage finale, and he thought it was very professional, and very funny.
So he's good in't he?
I will OBSERVE you again soon.
I played a Final Fantasy game the other day for the first time in about 20 years - Why do all the characters dress like utter, utter c--ts?
Well, here’s an unexpected twist: Last week I said I was doing my best to avoid pre-ordering Spider-Man.
I didn’t pre order it.
Instead, I decided to play Witcher 3, which has been sat in a draw unplayed since I bought it on sale.
What a good decision that was. Loving every moment of it so far: I have successfully struck down some “ghouls” and something I think was called a “Noonwraith”. I even found some new trousers in a box (in the game, not “IRL”.)
It’s the game of the year edition so it should keep me occupied until about this time next year, where I’ll be able to get Spider-Man on sale! No more pre-orders from me. I win.
I had my home delivery shopping delivered earlier. I wanted some Peperami Firesticks. They didn't have any so I had my 'substitute' instead. Since when does black pudding substitute a quite spicy processed meat thing? Bah.
Peperami should bring out a fish version methinks. That'd upset the people you speak to with that love twang of ammonia on your breath.
I am, as always, your faithful and unreliable friend,
Howdy the Biffman!
My eldest (7) is addicted to playing that Roblox on the internets and watching videos of people talking and playing Roblox on the internets. It’s all a bit weird if you ask me!
Anyways, got her a WII at Xmas for a couple o' quid, and it’s refreshing to see her slowly go and discover a proper console and play a proper game like Mario Kart instead of that weird internet nonsense. I guess I’m just being an old fart I suppose.
Have you seen or played that Roblox? It’s a bit culty, if you ask me.
Can’t wait for the show dude! It’s gonna be totes epic!
Catch you on the flipside!!!!!!!
It’s great to have Digi back from its break. It was on an extra-funny run of form before your holiday (hope you feel thoroughly recharged for it, btw), so its return after the brief hiatus has been most welcome.
And what a week this has been, with the recovered classic editions of Digi! Thanks for sharing, and utmost gratitude to Jason Robertson for the continuing heroics.
They’ve come at a fortuitous time actually, as, after the next few updates to Super Page 58, work will start in earnest on building a comprehensive, properly indexed archive of Digi screenshots.
I’ve left it until this point after the site’s reboot because, frankly, it’s a mammoth task and I wanted to get all the other updates online first. But I’ve been planning it out, and I’m confident it can be unveiled before 2018 has been sick on 2019’s brand new rug. Well, it would only be right to launch it in Digi’s 25th anniversary year, after all.
I’ve managed to scrape together as many screenshots from various dusty corners of the web as I can, and it seems like now would be a good time to put out the call to anyone reading who might be holding onto a few more so we can up the inventory.
So, if anyone happens to have saved old editions of Digi anywhere, either as images, TV card files, or whatever else - please do send the details to email@example.com, so we can build the most complete collection of Digi possible. This community deserves it.
Talking of updates to Super Page 58 - during a recent foray into the loft, I discovered a set of notes that must be nearly 20 years old, which were for a page I planned to make for the site back then. It was quite an odd moment when I realised what they were - I wish my other notes from that time had survived.
Anyway, the notes were for a Digi-themed drinking game, entitled Super Gin Game 34. Reading them now, I’m not entirely sure I understood how drinking games are supposed to work, but there’s still the basis for something in there.
I can’t decide whether to leave them in the past or resurrect the idea - what do you think? I keep veering from thinking it’d be fun, to writing it off as a completely terrible idea for a page. And obviously I don’t want to get sued for any alcohol-related injuries that it might bring about, either. Hmmm.
Anyway, really enjoying the recent updates - very many big-ups to you!
1. I am genuinely disappointed by the ongoing trend of games magazines/websites removing scores from reviews. The argument goes that a score is reductive and that not having one encourages the reader to appreciate the review and/or, what is the real difference between e.g. a 75 and a 77. While this has a certain logic to it, I disagree completely.
My own belief is that a score is a useful tool for the reader, which, who, in other words, is a potential customer. It makes sense that a football game receiving 84 and an RPG receiving 77 might confuse more than inform but the real value of a score is to distinguish between similar games. One might have two good football games but one, overall, is more enjoyable.
Respective scores of 85 & 90 indicate that they are both very good, but that one is, in the reviewer's opinion, better. Perhaps I am becoming prickly as I age but I find it slightly insulting that there is an implication that desiring a score means that I'm less likely to read the review - this is demonstrably false for me and for many others.
The real problem with scores, in my opinion, is that they have become inflated and the scale is not used correctly. Edge are probably still the best at using a full scale for scores, but they do suffer from taking themselves a little too seriously and being victims of the Nintendo distortion field. One final reason for disliking the removal of scores is that many of the largest (particularly USA) websites don't actually review the game in the true sense.
The game's attributes are rarely discussed rather than them being a generally poorly-written critique of the game's social issues. An egregious example is Polygon's recent review of Far Cry 5, after reading it you would have no idea how the game plays. That's a really long-winded way of saying that scores are useful, please keep them, everyone.
2. While I think that the backlash against so-called loot boxes has gone slightly too far in the other direction, there is clearly a problem, particularly when it comes to potential exploitation of children. Is there an argument for games to be more expensive? By my rough calculations, tracking inflation, games should cost around £70 in the UK, which they don't. Would you be willing to pay more to remove these mechanics?
3. Do you agree that, in terms of influence, the Commodore 64 had the best in-game music, generally-speaking, of any system?
When I listen to some pieces by Rob Hubbard, Jeroen Tel and Martin Galway, it is amazing, not only how they made such sounds from simple equipment, but many of the sounds themselves and styles ended up in modern music. Other systems had influential music produced on them, no doubt, but, for me, the Commodore 64 hosted the most original and distinctive music of any computer games platform.
2. Man, I dunno. £70 is a lot of money. But, at the same time... I suppose it's comparable to one of those big Lego sets, and nobody complains about those. Oddly, back in the day I wrote something proposing loot boxes, comparing games to action figures, and how it'd be cool to buy "accessory packs" for your games. In essence, I invented loot boxes. And penicillin and the Internet.
3. I dunno. I mean, I hear C64 music, and it sounds nice and that, but not being a C64 owner back in the day, I guess I've never really been able to compare the music in its contemporary setting.