But anyway. Perhaps in keeping with the current atmosphere, I can at least offer you a more sombre and reflective Digitiser video - due on the channel later today - in which myself and my cohorts discuss the reasons we do YouTube. I'm immensely proud of how honest and open the team is, and I hope some of you find it helpful.
For now, though... let's do the 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: email@example.com
You like your British comics dontcha? Dunno if you remember Big Comic Book, it was basically an annual that was really thick and full of fleetway comic reprints from the likes of Buster, Monster Fun, Cor etc. from the 70s and 80s.
I got em for Xmas for a few years when I was a nipper, and spent many a night with my torch laughing at the Bumpkin Billionaires and the like.
Long story short, I got a few off that eBay recently for a “couple o quid” and can heartily recommend 'em! Whilst looking for these Big Comic Books I found you could get DVDs with, like 900 issues of Buster on or every issue of Oink comic (personal fave of mine - natch!) all very reasonably priced.
Oh yeah, remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I’d write something better? I was clearly talking out my arse again.
Keep on keepin on,
All your base etc etc etc,
PS. I had some crispy bacon and maple syrup Kettle Chips yesterday. They were really nice, surprisingly. Hooray!
I never bought a Big Comic Book - but I prefer the idea of the original comics and annuals. I liked all the letters pages and editorial bits as much as the strips. My favourites? Superstore from Whizzer and Chips (they sold everything, and it was all, like, 1p), Danny's Tranny (he had a magical transistor radio), Faceache (just for Ken Reid's art), and pretty much anything in Krazy. Also Dan Dare and Doomlord in the relaunched Eagle.
As a slightly younger member of the retro gaming community, I spent most of my time catching up on titles everyone else has been raving or ranting about for the past four decades.
One such example was picking up a copy of Ridge Racer for £5 a week ago, and it has instantly become a favourite of mine. I’m not a big racing game fan, but for some reason I have become incredibly invested in this early PS1 title, when arguably more fun and technically competent games on the system like Wipeout 2097 and Alien Resurrection have gone mostly unplayed after their initial testing.
Which brings me to my question, what games do you still find fun despite how they’ve aged and the successors that have resulted from them?
Thank you for all you do,
Incidentally, I played a bit of Defender of the Crown this week, which remains gorgeous, but is also dreadful. Video next week.
Hi Mr. Biffo. I've been meaning to send a letter sooner, but being a high school teacher... yeah, things get pretty hectic.
I live out in Southwest of the United States. I had no idea of what Digitiser was until Octav1ous brought it up in one of her videos. I was there day one of the launch of season 1, almost as a surprise - it was just on my YouTube feed the night of the premiere. I thought it was great; unlike anything I had seen regarding gaming content before, and each episode got better and better.
I soon realized there was a blog and now I check it out almost daily, reading the new reviews, keeping tabs on the letters page, always looking forward to seeing what you have to say on a certain topic or game - even if I might disagree from time to time.
I say all this in response to the question, "Why do this?" Well, to put it bluntly, people like me need you to do this.
I always considered writing fun, something I'm good at, but I forgot just how much fun it could be. When I was younger- younger than I am now I mean, I'm 31- I would write some of the most outlandish shit I could think of because who cares, it's funny to me.
I grew up watching stand up from people like Chris Rock, Dennis Leary, anything they would show on Comedy Central Presents and I was influence that humor, stuff that wasn't safe at the time like your Jeff Foxworthys and your Larry the Cable Guys. Needless to say, I got a lot of weird looks growing up, even now as an adult.. I've always been told that, to some, I was/am too crude, too shy, too religious, not religious enough, not manly enough, behaved just like a man, etc.
When I watch your show and see a man in his late 40's look genuinely happy to to discuss video games, finding gross out humor funny, and create a catchy tune named, "Sex Frog". I heave a sigh of relief; finally, someone gets it.
And then I check out the work of the other cast members and I say, "Sweet, more people get it!", And then I look at the comments of both the site and the YouTube page as well as the Friday letters and I say, "This place is cool... I think I'll stick around."
I've stuck around because you and others have created something that is inviting, honest, and earnest- and the article you've written is a testament to those last two statements.
So if you need an answer to, "Why do this?" it's because without this, I would not have been motivated to pick up a journal and begin writing again - and rediscovered what I love about it.
I wouldn't feel empowered to be proud of the silly, strange, bizarre taste I have, but at the same time not letting those taste be the only definitiong of my character - a man is more than his interest after all. And who knows, maybe other people have gotten that same kick as well; and maybe someone will see our work and be inspired in the same way you have done for us.
I wish I had some concrete advice on how to deal with the whole frustration at the lack of mobility with both the site and the channel(s) but I don't. In my experience, people just want the same stuff they've gotten over and over again, leading them to be unwilling to try something new. But just know that to those 13,000 viewers or readers, this means more to us than you could ever know.
Thanks, Mr Biffo.
P.S. I heard you wrote the story for a PlayStation 2 game called Future Tactics, which I got at my used game store in town for $5. Is it true and if it is, what's the differences between writing for a game versus writing for the screen?
P.P.S. When I get paid, I'm buying a Fat Sow t-shirt. Because FUCK YOU PAUL! (Gannon)
As I tried to articulate in the article, I guess I'm fairly unique in terms of YouTubers in that I've had one career already in gaming, and then went away... and then tried to start it up again in an entirely new media landscape. I realised this week that the legacy of Digitiser - a lot of people quite literally grew up reading it - is what I've been wrestling with. Admittedly, more in my own head than in reality.
When I first started making the odd public appearance a few years back, so many people remarked that I didn't look or sound like they expected, and that knowledge - that taking Digi into a new medium is never going to be exactly what people expect - has been hard at times. For some people, everything I do is going to be compared to what I've done in the past, and it can be jarring when it's not exactly the same.
Thing is, Digitiser was as much a product of its format, just as the videos are, and it took me a while to get good at it. I still feel that I'm learning to do voice-overs, and edit, and be on camera - and find a way of using the tools at my disposal to get the best out of me.
It's like... I know I often mention that my favourite band is Marillion. In 1988 their original lead singer, Fish, left, and they got a new guy in who was very different. It took them a couple of albums, but they eventually became a far, far better band than they ever were with Fish. Yet, even 31 years on, some fans simply can't see beyond their first four albums - and everything they do now, no matter how good, will be met with the response "Not as good as the Fish era".
And I get it. I grew up with those first four albums, they hold a special place in my heart, and make my pulse race when I listen to them, in a way their more recent output can't hope to do. So, I understand it, I really do.
But the point is, when I hear that people like yourself are feeling inspired by what I'm doing now, and you haven't grown up with Digitiser, that's the best thing. It means so much to me.
If there's a meaning to life... it's surely to leave people's lives a little better than you found them. Doing that for just one person is a profound honour.
As for Future Tactics... I really enjoyed doing it. Originally, I pitched that the story should be told during the gameplay - with the characters chatting to one another during the battles - but ultimately they chose to go with cut-scenes. In essence, there was no real difference in terms of writing those, except that big chunks of the script are missing, in favour of missions/levels.
Plus, it was also extremely well-paid: I got as much money for that in 2003 as I did for Pudsey The Dog The Movie 10 years later.
In response to your post the other day about retro gaming - it will never die! With the state of gaming today a lot of studios seem to be looking to the past to fix the problems plagued by gaming today.
Whether it be a cool retro art style or a retro style of gameplay, developers will always look to yesteryear to find out what went wrong with a franchise/game, and revitalise it (see Sonic Mania/ Rayman Origins etc). Here’s hoping the laziness of battle royale and online only games dies off and games go back to being just about having fun.
Let me start by saying that while I did enjoy the show, I've enjoyed the content you've done since the initial six episodes a whole lot more. I love the variety of oddities, and the fun and facts in smaller portions. You, Paul, Octav1us, and Larry are all great together, and I love that banter and bickering, haha! Keep up the good work and I look forward to what's on the horizon!
Incidentally, I've just splashed out on a ton of extremely rare Nintendo stuff that I'm very excited to make a video on.
You know who I feel is unfairly overlooked from classic tellybox Digitiser?
Morse and Lewis.
I loved those little guys, and would definitely watch some sort of silly, animated crime show. Assuming the reanimated corpse of John Thaw didn't come back to haunt (sue) you.
Anyway, I never got round to watching Found Footage in all its glory, so betwixt these Digi minisodes (that are excellent, incidentally), have started on it in the last week or so.
Man alive, what excellent nonsense. I mean, some of it is nightmare fuel, but I suppose that is the point. I can heartily recommend anyone who hasn't partaken (as if I'm not the only one here who hasn't) to get it down your peepers. It might not be the most mainstream thing in the internets, but eff those guys.
There's more than enough room for nonsense amidst the Twittertwatter and "Influencer" types, especially now you've got the extra channel on the go. (Petherfenny was a winner in my book).
I won't pretend I'd be pleased to see written content be reduced round these parts, but any Biffo at all is more than we deserve, so you just keep on making yourself (and everyone who loves this waffle) happy, and all will be right in the world.
As you'll have seen this week, despite my threat to reduce the written work... that hasn't really happened. It's more that there will be occasions, such as yesterday, where instead of writing an article, I chose to research and write a script for a video that'll probably be up on Tuesday. As implied above, it's about Amiga stuff. No, really. I went there.
Glad you loved Found Footage. I do toy with doing a follow-up of some nature - I had the best year making that (Digi, by comparison, was all over in a week, pretty much, and it was a hectic scramble). Indeed, at the back of my mind, part of trying to build up the audience on the channel is to ensure there's enough support for future projects of a similar nature. At the moment, I'm still doubting whether there's enough of an audience there to launch a Digi series 2 Kickstarter, but we'll see.
What's the nicest/most memorable compliment someone has given you re: Digitiser The Show?
Hello Sir Biffo, I hope you are well. I have 3 questions I wish to ask!
1) Where do you stand on the emulation vs real hardware debate?
2) What are your thoughts on the ZX Spectrum Next?
3) Why is it that when I go into a Skype call with my boss I get a serious case of the guffs? I'm not talking little squeakers that could be mistaken for a squeaky chair, I'm on about deep from the stomach rumblers.
2) I'm looking forward to it! I couldn't afford to back the Kickstarter at the time, but I very much want one.
3) Bum reasons.
A television question, if I may. You may not necessarily be able to answer this, but as you are the person I know who *may* be able to answer, I shall ask you. Maybe one of your other readers will know if you don’t.
Why is it that presenters in some programmes don’t look at the camera when quite clearly they are meant to be talking to the viewer? Not all do it, but a significant number do. It’s like they are having a conversation with someone off camera. I could understand it if they are and if that was shown as part of the edit, but this is not the case.
Currently, Amber Butchart does this on her series on BBC 4. Fiona Bruce did in a series about lossy art treasures and possible forgeries (and she’s a news reader, so should be comfortable speaking to a camera).
Any ideas why they do this?
I read your post on the state of retro gaming media with some concern. The doubts you aired about yours and Digi’s place were difficult reading, and I’m glad that, as you said, the post did its job as a brain dump exercise and helped you sort it all out in your head.
Even for a niche interest like retro gaming, the market is clearly saturated and difficult to make a significant dent on - but don’t let that colour your assessment of the success of your projects, which have literally brought joy to thousands of people.
Someone mentioned in the comments that during Digitiser The Show’s run they found themselves looking forward to the day of a new Digi episode with a sense of excitement and anticipation. That was exactly true for me - and many others I’m sure.
What concerned me more than anything though, was you questioning why people tuned into Digi in the Teletext days. Did they only ‘tolerate’ the humour because of the free games content? I hope this thought was fleeting, because the 800,000 viewers - two thirds of the audience at the time - that were lost when the suits mandated the culling of the funny stuff should say very loudly that this was far, far from the case.
The humour wasn’t just tolerated - it was the whole point. The very reason most of us tuned in. When Digigate happened I felt bereaved, and couldn’t bring myself to read it anymore. I hadn’t had much interest in games for a few years by this point, but Digi felt like my home - so Teletext Ltd basically saying people like me weren’t welcome anymore stung in a way that I was completely unprepared for.
If I hadn’t been in contact with you already, I’d never have realised you eventually overcame the suits and restored the humour. But how many others never knew? How many of them moved on with their lives, got families, and had big life stuff happen to them, distracting them from thinking about Digi?
Those of us that have found our way back to you are lucky. I wonder sometimes if there are old fans out there, thinking about the memories, but completely oblivious to your return - and the current renaissance that Digi is enjoying. I hope they find their way back eventually, because I know they’d be delighted and overwhelmed with everything that’s taken place in their absence.
As far as the humour not hitting the mark with the whole audience goes - individual preferences aside, how much of that is to do with the comedy landscape today compared with when Digi was on Teletext?
I was 14 when it launched and my young mind had already been prepared for its bizarreness thanks to exposure to Monty Python, The Young Ones, Naked Video, Absolutely and the like. Surreal whimsy, silliness and non-sequiturs seemed much more part of the mainstream comedy landscape back then - so maybe we were more primed for your style?
Hell, the BBC even poured scandalous amounts into the atrocious Glam Metal Detectives - including a single and TOTP appearance! - such was the seeming acceptance of weirder strands of comedy in the 90s.
Have we lost that to some degree? Certainly the surfeit off panel shows, and the likes of Ricky Gervais and Michael McIntyre, would suggest tastes are much more conventional today. YouTube as a global media behemoth probably doesn’t help, as nuance doesn’t get you large audiences, who aren’t then exposed to material that might broaden their horizons.
What to do about this? Frankly - ignore it. You’re a unique talent, you always have been, and your work has a devoted audience. Is it is as big as you - and many of us fans - would like? Perhaps not - but never downplay the amount your work matters to those of us that care, just how much pleasure it does bring, and how much our days are brightened when we see something new from you. You’ve changed lives.
There aren’t many things I make a point of watching live, or the moment that it’s published.
Remember the 800,000.
You make an interesting point about the comedy landscape changing. All that weird, niche, stuff has gravitated online, and there's a ton of it, so we're up against that too.
In the end, all I can do is what I'm compelled to do, and do it to the best of my ability. As I said to somebody in the comments yesterday, I can't guarantee it'll all feel like old Digi, and give you the nostalgic hit some people want, but I can promise that all of it will be true to me, and what's inside of my head - just as Digitiser always was.
I know some people are disappointed that I won't always play the greatest hits - and will continue to maintain that the old stuff is the best - but when I launched this site I tried to peddle that nostalgia, and... it just felt forced to me. I have to move forwards.
So, it's relief that somebody like yourself - I can think of no bigger fan of my work - is behind me doing that. Thank you. Again.
316) Despite allegations, I think that most reviews are what the reviewer genuinely thinks of the game in question. Can you, however, think of any games that you think might have been subject to 'kind' reviewing over the years?
317) Even though they aren't my favourite games, I think that Ubisoft deserves more credit for the off-year Far Cry series. Recently we've had Blood Dragon, Primal and New Dawn, all of which are original in their own way. What do you think of this sub-series?
318) Certain things seem perfectly-suited to be made into computer games, but due to particular elements, this can be very difficult. Examples would be professional wrestling or cycling. What do you think should make a great game but so far hasn't?
319) Do you ever miss joysticks as the default controller? Yes, I know I'd probably hate them if I had to go back, but I maintain that they were better for some types of games.
320) Do you think that it is an arguable point to say that the 16-bit era produced the most diverse and distinctive graphics of any generation, nostalgia aside?
317) I've loved all three of those games!
318) You know what? I'm amazed we've still not had the definitive Superman game. I get that the issue is he's so overwhelming powerful that there's no way a game could ever succeed in portraying that, but surely with today's hardware there's a better chance of it happening.
319) Nope. Always hated joysticks, even on arcade flying games.
320) If you ignore the modern indie scene... then yes. I would agree with you.
Right. That's it from this week. Don't forget to check out the new video when it's up. And if you haven't already - go and subscribe to the Digitiser channel, and our new second channel.