As others have correctly pointed out, the show has very much found its groove now. If you, or anyone you know, drifted away after the first ep or two... it's time to give it another chance. The most gratifying thing after last week's episode was seeing people talking about games off the back of it. That's when I knew we'd gotten the balance right.
In the words of Sonic The Hedgehog, this weeks ep is "A good 'un!"
Interestingly, Ep 5 was the quickest one yet to edit - and I've realised that it's because I'm doing less experimenting with the format. And, also, I'm getting a bit of help with the sound and colour grading. Which is just as well, as this week my battered adrenal glands finally gave out, after a month or two of threats, and I succumbed to The Cold.
So, one last ep next week - the big series finale. Which, in true end-of-the-series fashion, brings back everything you've loved so far...
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
If a video game was made about you and an average day in your life aged 10, and then one at your current age, what would they be like? What system/console, what general aesthetic, soundtrack, characters, plot etc etc etc? Sorry if this is a stupid question!
252) The PlayStation 2 is, for me, the best games console ever due to its incredible library of good games, the diversity of its content and how far it was ahead of what had come before e.g. a DVD drive as standard. Having said all of that, modern consoles arguably operate more like the Xbox 360 than anything else. Which of the PS2 and X360 would you say was more influential?
253) Have you been to the computer games exhibition at the V&A museum and, if so, what did you think of it?
254) In the spirit of your underrated FPS games on Digitiser TV recently, what was your favourite RTS game that wasn't a Command and Conquer series entry?
255) With the PS5 (allegedly) and 'Nextbox' being under development now, would you prefer to keep the price in line with the PS4 and have relatively modest performance or do you feel that the market is ready for a jump in price for a more powerful machine?
253) I've not! But I should. I'm wary of going, because my other half would probably want to come with me just so she could drag me round all those tedious exhibits full of clothes. Though I do like the room with all the massive statues in.
254) Hunh. Good question. I'm struggling to think of any which weren't Command & Conquer. I did go through a phase of liking those tower defence-type games on my phone, mind.
255) I'm really sceptical about this rumoured next generation. The step from the previous generation to the current one was so incremental that I can only see an even smaller step going forwards. I dunno about the market, but they're only going to convince me it's worthwhile if they can really demonstrate a good reason why we need another generation.
Let's face it, the success of the Switch has proved that we don't need to throw All The Power at a game for it to be a classic.
Reasonably big fan of the show Biffo, but wanted to ask a question or two and add a correction for the letter readers. You lamented the lack of games with prog rock soundtracks, so I'm guessing you enjoyed Tim Follin's work on Plok?
Secondly, while Tiger's psuedo PDA/game console thingy (game.com) had nothing to do with R-Zone (in terms of being a part of the same line), the joke about them belonging in the trash bin more than made up for it (the debate thing had many more errors, but it was tongue-in-cheek so I didn't care).
Finally, as you mentioned ROM sites in a recent response, I think it's worth noting that the sites that came down as a result of the big N weren't known for doing their own dumping work or using "valid" dumps, so they just served as easily replaceable conduits.
Thanks for the laughs. I found the odd episodes so far funnier than the even ones (due to the game segment surprising me), so maybe that trend will continue?
WE'RE WATCHING YOU, JOHN.
Firstly, I'd just like to say that I've been tremendously enjoying the series so far and am delighted to have been able to contribute a little bit to getting it made. There's a great vibe between you and the other presenters - who are all brilliant and I want to see more of (*cough* season 2). I am generally a very happy camper indeed.
However, speaking of camp, "Chart Cat" is simply horrible in execution. I appreciate it's an over the top sketch, and I can kind of see what you were aiming for, but it sits just over the wrong line of "homophobic" for me. If I was more than (approximately) half gay, I'd probably be even more upset with it - "furious", perhaps.
It just felt tone deaf and gratuitous, and the more it went on, the worse I felt about it. It didn't work (at least not for me), and worst of all, there wasn't even a pay-off to the joke. It simply punched down. No fault of the guy playing the part, but writing-wise I'd have expected something more nuanced from a gurning speckle-flecked GamerGater.
I appreciate I'm no arbiter of comedy/taste/well anything really, and I want to reiterate that aside from this one relatively bum (GEDDIT?!) note (in terms of the show), I'm having a lovely time watching you all goofing around and being entertaining about gaming.
I wouldn't want to steer you away from your anarchic sensibilities - it's what makes Digitiser "Digitiser" after all. You owe me NOTHING. If the rest of the series is simply made up of Chart Cat simpering and making awkward gay innuendos about retro magazine covers, I'd appreciate it as the strong creative choice it would clearly be. It's possibly not something I'd want to fund long term, but hey hey - with a bit of tuning it might turn out great.
And there could even be a denouement we've not seen yet! This might be all part of the plan! But if that's the case, I don't think it should have been split across episodes -- I just hope I've made my point as to why that might be.
Anyway. I bloody love this show, and any criticism is intended in the kindest/most constructive possible sense.
Moc moc a moc,
If you're uncomfortable with it... then good. That's exactly what he was designed to do.
Glad you're enjoying it otherwise, Chris.
Q. What did Kanye West say when he approved of a porcupine?
A. "I'm a silly fellow, I like a quilly fellow!"
Love from Rob
Digitiser episode 4 had the Spectrum vs Commodore 64 argument/discussion. While I was aware of this, it wasn't something I personally came across at school myself at the time.
For me, it was very much Sinclair vs Acorn. I know of one person who had a C64; everyone else had a Spectrum or a BBC Micro. Me? I had a ZX81. I had to save up my own money to buy such things as my parents just couldn't fund my suddenly newfound expensive hobby.
Most of my immediate friends were far richer than my family, and they all had BBC Bs. A few had Spectrums, and I was aiming to buy one of those myself, but I found out that there were a few technical things I didn't like about the Spectrum - the graphical colour clash being the biggest problem for me. I ended up with a BBC B myself, having saved for the best part of a year.
Fun fact: Part of my fund raising involved selling my ZX81, RAM Pack, the joystick interface and all the tapes I had for it. The person who bought it was after a C64 for his daughter. God knows what her reaction was when she unwrapped that at Christmas. I mean, I had the thing running for him when he came round to see it as well, so he knew what he was getting.
How about that, eh?
It's with a heavy heart I mourn the death or death of Unreal Tournament... or do I? This week Epic games decided that they were going to put all their power into the dreaded Fortnite and leave the corpse of Unreal Tournament to bleach into bones in the sun of, well... nothing really!
Unreal Tournament was my game. Back in the day I was in the top 10 death match players in Europe, On deck 16 I could not be beaten - PHEER my pulse rifle skills! I knew where The Redeemer was. I would shove it up your ass from the other side of the map and you would never see it coming.
It seems a shame that they (Epic) are just going to leave it to fester - with that and Half-Life it appears two of my favourite PC games will never appear again...
And you know what? I am not that bothered...
I should be angry, but I don't care - these days publishers and games companies treat us all like moneybags they can bleed - if you're not syphoning all the money, they just don't care and they are not interested...
If, like you, Mr Biffo, I had any more reason to hate Fortnite, I have another...
But I think these days I am too jaded and ambivalent to care... fucking gaming!
Still - Mutant Year Zero looks pretty good eh? Oh.. its unreal Engine? Oh Epic! You absolute shitters..
I am getting to old for this.
The Poundland "the Master from that Doctor Who"
What erotic-themed video/computer games would you recommend?
Simon Westley, shop assistant at a sex shop in London
Because it was the most cost effective way to acquire extra Joy-Con™, I bought the version of Super Mario Party that came with neon green and neon pink Joy-Con™. When I took them out the box I was struck by how vivid they were, it was like seeing colour for the first time. Honestly, they’re magnificent. I can’t stop looking at them. They’re resplendent nestled amongst a sea (TV unit) of dreary black devices.
Have you ever bought a thing for function and found that you inexplicably loved to just look at it? It doesn’t have to be gaming related as my excellent example was.
Also, what’s the best looking console? INCLUDING HANDHELDS! Worst has to be the Pikachu N64 ja?
And finally, because I’m a creative genius, here is my wholly original question: Snog/Marry/Kill consoles?
Snog: 3DO. There's not a lot to recommend, but I had some good times with the 3DO, and it's an underrated kisser.
Marry: Xbox 360. I had the best gaming experiences of my life on the 360, I loved the controller, I liked the aesthetics. It was just a good all-rounder, and I wasn't ready to let it go.
Kill: Wii U. Just... y'know. We didn't need it.
What do you call a dam-building mammal that has been used as a chair for twenty-four hours?
Sat-on day/night beaver (Saturday Night Fever)
Love & hugs,
PS. Love the show!
PPS. Although Gannon in a leotard will haunt my nightmares for years.
PPPS. Sorry, did I say “haunt my nightmares”? I meant “spice up my dreams”.
Another superb episode of Digi this week - I don’t know how you’re managing it, but they really are getting better and better with every one, and I don’t want it to end.
The set-piece laughs have all been absurdly enjoyable, but I’ve come to feel that the intro segments with the team are the lynchpin of the show. They allow everyone to get some camera time, tee up the rest of proceedings, and welcome the viewer in nice and warmly. "Filler" they may be, but filler that does an important job!
I love the discussions, and each one gets me thinking about what my own choices would be - which I expect everyone’s been doing.
The same applies to the recent regular question of "Snog/marry/kill" during the interviews. So you know what? I’m going to tell you what my choices for that would be:
Snog: Incoming. Bought it on the strength of your review at the time, and my jaw dropped the moment I saw it in action. The graphics were something to lust after, and the arcade blaster-style gameplay started flooding me with serotonin right from that opening level with the gun turret. Loved its sexy ass clean off.
Marry: MechWarrior 2. I got my first PC in autumn ‘95 by managing to convince my parents that I needed it for studying - which was true, but the Pentium I steered them towards probably wasn’t essential for running MS Works. Excited by the machine’s arrival, I bought a PC mag with a cover disc that contained a demo of MechWarrior 2, which I played obsessively until I finally got the full game for Christmas and was lost to it forever. It may have been all flat polygons, but never have I felt so immersed in a game world - it was like a 3D shooter with the depth of an RPG, and it had its claws in me for months on end. I still think about my most memorable victories, the thrilling cinematic set-pieces - and the mission where you had to escort a diplomat to the opera - even now. “He really loves opera.”
Kill: SiN. This may be unfair, because it was a great, stupidly fun FPS, but as the records show, it was riddled with bugs to the point of being unplayable. When it worked, I really enjoyed it - so I also profoundly hated it for preventing me from being able to keep playing beyond a certain point, where it would all just prolapse into oblivion.
SiN would be a good candidate for that ‘most broken game you’ve played’ discussion, going back to the intro of episode 2, actually.
Oh, but there was also the pirated (shush!) version of Lemmings I had on the Spectrum, which either due to its uncertain provenance or my Speccy’s shortcomings, was a complete mess. It seemed to be so full of glitches that I was constantly forced into nuking my Lemmings - but then that resulted in what resembled a milkshake-coloured David Cronenberg body horror hellscape, which was just as traumatising as trying to get the game to work right.
And yes, having been a Spectrum owner, I was very pleased to see it win the head-to-head. I did get the best of both worlds however, as my next door neighbours had a C64. One day while playing Pole Position the older of the two brothers I was friends with - who was A Big Boy - went and sat on the keyboard and wriggled around on it for a bit, which magically made a hidden game of hangman appear. I like to think this was an act of distress on the machine’s part.
Anyway, what would you say your choices for snog/marry/kill games would be? You must have thought about it, having to quiz the guests on theirs?
I am, as always, positively a-quiver with anticipation for Sunday’s episode. Even more so this week, knowing about The Man’s Daddy and Sonic.
Get well soon then, yeah? You’ve got to keep your strength up for the final episode...
I couldn't even remember who'd done it, but I do remember the night I had in Liverpool with Rage's PR guy. He was excellent company, but he did get very drunk that night. When we got back to the hotel I learned that he'd booked us a twin room, rather than separate ones. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and when I came back out he'd passed out on top of his bed, wearing nothing but a pair of tiny black pants.
Which is an appropriate segue into the snogging/marrying/killing of games...
Snog: Um... hmm... Skool Daze on the Speccy. It's a scrappy, awkward, game, but... it still gives me a thrill.
Marry: Right now... Assassin's Creed Odyssey. It makes me feel unstoppable, and capable of anything, and it's beautiful, and I feel like I could spend the rest of my life with it. Hello, wife!
Kill: Call of Duty. The latest few. Enough is enough.
Hello Biffo Clyro,
A gothic fellow wrote in last week asking for spooky games, may I suggest CYBERQUEEN (http://aliendovecote.com/uploads/twine/LD25/CYBERQUEEN.html). It's one of those text games, but said text is pretty creepy! And everyone has probably heard of Kittyhorrorshow's Anatomy (steady on) by now, but it's also worth a look. It's a real Halloween in December.
Also just caught up on episode 4 of the Show. It keeps going from strength to strength. Looking forward to the last two.
We made this for you.
That is all.
As an avowed fan of clefts, I was thrilled at the amount of arse crack on display in episode 4 of Digitiser The Show. Are there any other discrete bodily areas usually hidden from public view that you'll be showcasing in future episodes?
I, for one, would very much enjoy seeing Gannon's popliteal fossa (kneepit) at some point. If this is not due to be featured on-screen, could I have a signed photo of it? I have enclosed an SAE.
I was going to send this earlier, but the outrageous O2 data outage prevented me from doing so at work. Outrageous!
I’ve been playing the new Star Trek mobile game, Star Trek Fleet Commander, this week. All the promise in that name... epic fleet combat, the Battle of Wolf 359, the Picard Manoeuvre, all that stuff. It’s actually just a tedious spreadsheet of a game with micro-transactions and an interminable grind to get half close the decent characters and ships.
What else was I expecting?
I remember a Star Trek ship combat shareware game on the Mac years back, in the MacOS 7 era. I wish I could remember what it was called! Pretty sure you did an article about Star Trek games a while back - the ones based on the Quake 3 engine were OK - but why do you think there’s never been a proper, good, classic one? Does the Star Trek narrative just not lend itself to videogames?
I have wondered why Star Trek, generally, struggles to translate into games, but it might be because everything is kind of team-based in Star Trek, and games - at least, the ones I like - are solitary experiences. The ships require a crew to control them, visits to planets need an away team, and the stories (at least many of the TV ones) are always a bit, y'know, wet.
That said, the Elite Force games are great, because they somehow manage to use the Star Trek universe in a way that's interesting, while also ignoring many of the tropes of the show.
I really got into Star Trek for a while when The Next Generation was on, but everything is just so... clean. That said, a few years back I did visit Vasquez Rocks in California, where they filmed that fight between Captain Kirk and the Gorn. Which was cool. Though I did make the mistake of climbing to the top of the big rock, and nearly passed out.
Dear Mister Brimble,
I am writing to complain about you and your blatant disregard for warehousing protocol. After having watched your most recent 'disaster' I was shocked to see a crustacean, a child, and a heavily overweight Fred West look-a-like set swathe to an entire shop floor of boxed goods.
None of your staff were wearing reflective gear, and I did not see a single wastage being recorded against inventory. I almost gurgled my gum-based drink in shock. I would have telephoned the British Alliance of Logistics and Laboratory Services had I not been gagged, bound to a fridge, and mercilessly beaten by a strange Latino cobbler I met in Hull.
This is the one before your last warning.
Inscribed on the walls of the Temple of the Oracle, in Delphi, was μηδὲν ἄγαν; 'nothing in excess.'
This formed the foundation of the concept of moderation where, as later in Christianity and Taoism, ancient Greeks believed that even otherwise healthy thing were harmful when overindulged in and that while nothing should be completely avoided, this was not tacit encouragement of those things that bring deleterious effects.
What I have always found fascinating about the original concept is that it extends, in principle, to desires and even thoughts and many have noted the dichotomy between our knowledge of the need for moderation and our natural instinct to defy it.
The few, deranged, people who have the patience to read one of my reviews will know that the vast majority of my feelings are positive regarding the show, but as Digitiser enters it second half something else has appeared. If I might be reductive, episode 1 was full of energy, desire to succeed, ideas and spirit. Rough around the edges and a little short, but there was light in its eyes.
Episode 2's pacing was superior, technically better in every way, and a good show, rather than a collection of good moments took shape. Episode 3 was where the true potential of the show emerged. This isn't Mr Biffo & friends; this is a new show that nobody else is making, and one that with minor adjustments could be on 'mainstream TV' right now. If episode 3 had been, as I expected it to be, the peak of the series, I and most fair-minded backers would have been happy.
Then I watched episode 4.
Episode 4 did what I thought was impossible within this initial series - it raised the show to another level. On the strength of this episode, Digitiser is the best computer games-related show currently available. Others might have particular channels or presenters that they prefer, but for me, nothing available currently mixes fun, humour and content to the level that you do. Why? Quite simply because, deliberately or not, nothing is in excess.
In previous episodes my only issue with the opening discussion was that it felt slightly short. I haven't timed this one but it felt like a more natural length and I feel that the panellists collectively shone here. All spoke well, had interesting suggestions and I think their (relatively) serious approach to the segment made the comedic elements even better when they came.
Despite knowing that she would neither need nor heed my opinion, much respect to Miss Kitten for highlighting WipEout (sic) and to Gameplay Jenny for mentioning GTA's soundtrack, which for many reasons, is extremely underrated. The phone call & Fat Sow combination would have been cloying in episode 1, but the more restrained discussion here made this so funny that my wife became quite annoyed with me for how much I was laughing.
Octav1us Kitten was unknown to me before I watched Digitiser, although I have since watched some of her videos. Among her many strengths as a broadcaster is her ability to identify distinctive characteristics of hardware, which made her ideal for the R-Zone Show & Tell. She managed to convey her passion for games and technology, came across well, but I especially liked how she highlighted that it was a cheap way for people to enjoy some games at the time.
I often feel that in the world of 'creators and influencers' being given many things for free to 'unbox' it is rare for someone to see the bright sides in less-good products. After all, not everyone can/could afford the good machines. Show & Tell is a highlight of the show and I doubt that you need many pointers with this other than I encourage you to keep the stories about the hardware, as you have been doing.
The R-Zone review was one of your best in part because the machine itself was genuinely interesting and gave miss Kitten plenty to talk about - reviewing its games would not have worked so well and we would have lost a great chance to hear about something so unusual.
I always found Chart Cat funny and I did again here - the casting is how I would have imagined the character and the positioning in the show felt natural. The same goes for Larry's Fact of the Week. Interesting, informative, and again it fit the show's format and pace as did Mr Gannon's top 3.
Psygnosis Game or Prog Rock album cover is my favourite game of the series so far. The concept was without doubt your best yet because it lends itself so naturally to the format of Digitiser. It links to games, it allows divergence to things that aren't games and, whether by design or by accident, it allowed the panellists to come alive as an ensemble in a way that we have seen in glimpses up to now, but episode 4 is where the imago emerged.
Everyone contributed and there was no dominant force. On the theme of balance, we had humour, competition and information. This is apparent in all segments but the quiz felt like a perfect embodiment of how Digitiser isn't just you playing it for laughs.
Mr Yusuf's interview deserves more words than I am about to write, but that is because I feel that all I need to say is that if Digitiser runs for 100 episodes I would be genuinely surprised if you can record a more satisfying interview.
Mr Yusuf is an engaging interviewee whose own life is interesting and his knowledge and enthusiasm of the game really added to the interview. Again, it is the balance of the segment that elevates it. You discussed the game, you discussed Mr Yusuf and his life/work and without taking over you managed to frame the interview with your own thoughts on the game. Superb - quite simply the best single segment of Digitiser so far.
No part of Digitiser thus far has been of a higher median quality than the debate. Like with the interview and Show & Tell, we saw the series highlight for this segment in episode 4.
Obviously debate is helped by having a meaty question to discuss and this was a great choice because both systems have many passionate defenders, and, most importantly, they have many different strengths. It surely goes without saying that Mr Gannon made completely the wrong choice, but it was refreshing to see such an impassioned defence of the Spectrum and home computers in general - too many retro shows are all about Nintendo.
How nobody mentioned the SID chip is beyond me, however.
An excellent debate and one which demonstrates, I feel, that Digitiser isn't a nostalgia show for those who remember the Teletext days - it is bold, funny and intelligent programming.
Finishing the episode, I really enjoyed Rampage for real. It was arguably the best concept for a finale that you've had and it translated well to the screen, better than Duck Hunt and Nivvin's Pranny - joking aside, with a moderate increase to your cardboard box budget, that is a sequence that could work on broadcast TV now.
As for Lord Brannigan's appearance - it was the perfect balance. Surrealist, anarchic humour, but not overdoing it. There is a maxim that is everyone is special, nobody is, and it seems that you all understand that if every moment is crazy then none are.
In terms of constructive criticism, I really don't have much because I feel that the improvement and refinement episode-on-episode is rapid and strong. Not really a criticism, but I feel that there might come a time in future where you need to decide whether the crew is interchangeable completely, or if you are definitely THE presenter.
You are really good as a panellist and as a host. For example, part of me would like to see Jenny, Mr Bundy or Miss Kitten host the opening discussion, but I also think that that should be your role.
I don't really have strong feelings either way, but i do feel that this might need to be decided at some point. The only other thing is something that might seem really silly, but I urge caution with one of the jokes in the opening discussion i.e. when you described the segment as "filler". I and most who watch know that this was an obvious joke, but things like that can become a 'Ratner' moment and be an easy stick for your critics to (unfairly) beat you with.
For what it's worth, I thought that it was funny.
At the risk of resorting to hyperbole, this is one of the best episodes of television that I have watched this year. After it, I no longer see Digitiser as a work-in-progress and I don't feel as if I need to constantly talk about its potential.
You already have something special, and with this episode you have balanced perfectly the humour of Digitiser with the games content that keeps you all focused. After watching it, I went to bed with my mind racing at the possibilities for where you can go next - I felt inspired afterwards to write more often, to experience games differently or even to make my own online videos.
If this show can have that effect on me than I am sure that it will for others, too. While you don't need me to tell you this, you really have something with this show, this format and this cast.
To conclude, Digitiser was always special because it informed and entertained in a unique style. Without reservation, Digitiser: The Show also does. Your greatest achievement so far is not that you have made a show that is worthy of the name Digitiser and its history but instead that you have made a show that no longer needs people to know about the Teletext days to enjoy.
I agree that the progress has been rapid. People forget, but Digitiser didn't land fully formed 25 years ago; it took us a few months to realise how to make our unique sensibility work in that format, and the same is true of Digitiser The Show. We knew we had a strong base to start from with Ep 1. As you say - it's full of great moments - Larry's Show & Tell, Murderer or Pinoneer etc. It was just about adjusting the faders to get the balance right.
The constructive feedback we got on it was useful in that respect, but equally useful was shutting out a lot of that feedback and just looking at it myself. That episode was always going to be the one which was put under the most intense scrutiny.
I mean, pretty much my entire day job is about identifying what is and isn't working in a show, so I'm good at taking an objective overview of a project, and fine-tuning it. 20 years of getting notes from producers has given a solid, innate, sense of what does and doesn't work.
Digi's still never going to be for everyone; some people can't get beyond the humour. But even that, I feel, has become more balanced.
At the moment, I'm utterly spent, but once I'm recovered I want us to do more, because I've got a need to capitalise on what we've learned from series 1 as a whole. I'm possibly more proud of Digitiser The Show than anything I've ever been involved with. So, thank you.
+++++plug zone++++plug zone++++plug zone+++++
"Could you please put my friend, Gaz Thomas' new game trailer on the bit where you pimp stuff on the Friday Letters page please? He has put a lot of work into it."