In just two weeks you'll finally be able to view the "fruits" of my "labours" when the first episode of Found Footage: The Series lands on YouTube. Mark September 10th in your diaries, and head across to the Digitiser2000 YouTube channel to subscribe yourself sore. Please spread the word wherever you can.
And now? It is letters time, love!
If you would 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 kind and sweaty emails early to this place here: email@example.com
1. Which game was the biggest change for you e.g. the game that made you realise that there was truly a new generation in technology or that after it games would never be as they were before?
2. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom battle is probably the game that will push me over the edge into buying a Nintendo Switch. I have found it really impressive and seems to have used both sets of characters well. While I do know for sure that it is the first Nintendo game not to be made by Nintendo, it is surely the first major release that falls into this category.
Do you have an opinion on Nintendo 'loaning' characters to other developers? It will help to create new game styles for existing characters, I believe and help to keep them relevant. I have never really enjoyed any Mario game other than Mario Kart but I like the look of this and I feel that an X-Com style Mario game simply wouldn't have been made by Nintendo. Obviously this won't be (and shouldn't be) the norm, but I see great potential in the characters appearing in non-Nintendo-developed games.
3. Whom would you name as Britain's greatest game developer?
2. Hmm. HMMMM. In the past, I've never really liked it when it has happened. It has been a bit hit-and-miss, but - at least for now - Mario + Rabbids seems to have some real quality control going on, and it looks like a real big heap of fun.
3. Really, it has to be Rockstar. It's just a shame that in order to be the greatest - or most successful anyway - they've had to pretend to be American.
Hope you had a relaxing (well deserved) holiday.
My wife doesn't really like modern video games. She only really likes traditional 2D Mario platformers, Sonic and Tetris.
Imagine her delight when I told her that there's a new 'old' Sonic game out and that I had purchased it for her. (She was delighted.)
Now I'm not a huge fan of the Sonic games but my wife knows the first two games inside out as well as Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, and she had a huge grin on her face the whole time playing the new Sonic Mania game.
There's loads of lovely little touches - the way the levels start off the same but then add in extra stuff (and are much longer). The CRT monitor filter options in the menu.
Even the music remains true to the original for the first act and then tastefully mixes it up for the second act, which seamlessly carries on from the end of the first act rather than having to 'load'. She squealed with delight at the Chemical Plant Zone boss! It's actually fairly challenging too, from what I can tell from her having to retry levels.
I do wonder though how many youngsters would be impressed with it. It is mostly pandering to the original Sonic fans. I certainly have no interest in playing it because I never liked the originals.
It's good value for the price as I suspect there's some replay ability once complete to get all the goodies/shortcuts worked out; but will it sell enough to let the people that need to know that there is still a market for these types of games?
Unrelated, I have been enjoying your recent exploration of Croatian Tuc biscuit varieties. My recent holiday to California found these buffalo wings crisps. They were good and genuinely tasted like buffalo wings (not much bleu though). I wondered what your thoughts on them might be.
As for the crisps... I love buffalo flavour things, but I find Kettle Chips a bit hit-and-miss. I strongly recommend you try Snyder's buffalo wing flavour pretzel pieces. They're incredible, and will stain your fingers and bowels.
Croatian crisps were a disappointment. The only varieties they had were paprika, salted and various types of salami flavour. They're big over there on their pretzel sticks - you know those ones you get at Christmas here? They love those. And these lumps of salted pig fat, which are like soft pork scratchings, only not as nice as that implies.
Oh, and Tuc biscuits. The roast chicken ones were the best.
My friend Asher showed me the Mr Biffo videos - I love them.
I wanted to ask what software you use for putting together/editing your stuff?
I have attached a beautiful photo for your records. Please enjoy it with reckless abandon.
I moved house two weeks today so have been without broadband beyond tethering my 4G phone and eating into my paltry 2Gb allowance. So naturally achievements and any sort of online shenanigans have been out of the question.
The thing is, I'm not sure I've even missed it that much. Sure, it's been weird to break the cycle of habitual internet usage of any sort, but it's refreshing to watch a TV show without Googling (other search engines are available) who that bit part actor is.
I've played a little PS4 while cursing the horrific rubberbanding AI on Wipeout 2048, but only plugged in the Eggsbox yesterday out of necessity so another box was cleared. In fact I've played Pokémon Shuffle on my 3DS more than anything else during this enforced layoff.
One thing I have realised I need a much bigger telly as my 21" set that did fine in the old house just won't do any more as it's just so far away by comparison.
It might be I get back on the horse in grand style once I'm reconnected, but as things stand I'm good that gaming has taken something of a backseat...
How Do! Only a couple of months until GT Sport is here! Hours and hours and hours of racing and customising goodness! Are you excited Monsieur Biffo?
Will the Mrs leave me because of it? Who knows?!
Stay tuned to find out.
Jim Leighton (Future World Darts Champion) x
Dear B.I.F.F.O. he is B.I.F.F.O. Just this very day I had a chap out to service our washing machine. This put me in the awkward position of having to find something to do in the living room while he dismantled some white goods in the kitchen.
Last time I was in a similar scenario I ended up watching hours and hours of Moto GP just so the window fitters would consider me a bloke and not some kept man house husband (even though I pretty much am). Anyway, I digress. I decided to watch some YouTube videos and ended up working my way through the Digitiser 2000 collection.
As I watched the Found Footage pilot and reacquainted myself with the Reversible Sedgewick, I became aware of a presence behind me.
And lo, as I turned round standing with a look of utter perplexity on his face, was the chap from Currys. I actually think that for a few seconds he feared he'd drifted off to some parallel world of madness. Anyway the washing machine is now working perfectly, even if the repair man has been irrevocably broken.
Did you have a nice holiday?
Also, what was the shittiest piece of tat you bought there?
I was one of those odd people that enjoyed No Man's Sky when it came out. I say enjoyed, I did eventually get bored of wandering around aimlessly collecting the same stuff over and again and scavenging for a new ship that gives you one more storage slot than you already have.
It's just had a big update and I thought I'd have another look. I'm enjoying it again - there is bonafide stuff to do, like actual missions. These are essentially fetch quests but still, it's direction that wasn't there before.
Confusingly, the base that I had previously established was now buried under rock. I managed to excavate it with my grenade launcher, but when I opened the door, it was also full of rock. I gave up on it and created a new base.
Don't leave your base unattended for ages or it will get terraformed and vandalised by rock golems.
The various updates have certainly made it look even prettier than it was and has a whole bunch of additional things in it. Well done Hello Games for sticking by it and offering players the chance to play something close to what we were imagining when it was originally touted.
Also, my wife is still enjoying Sonic Mania. She unlocked 'and Knuckles' mode the other day. Sadly, it doesn't let you be Sonic & Tails & Knuckles.
I have a question for you, Biffo:
How is Netflix/Amazon Video/Hulu etc impacting kids TV? Obviously, online streaming is having a massive impact on how adults watch TV, but how about the little ones? Speaking from experience, I can tell you that between me, my brother and my sister, we have four kids all under the age of four (three of whom are two and under) and when they watch telly it’s either Netflix our YouTube – it’s never terrestrial (I don’t even have terrestrial TV, or whatever they call it here in the States).
Is this shift (yes, I know four kids in a three families isn’t exactly a wide polling group) in how kids consume TV a good thing or a bad thing? Does it, potentially, mean more work for you because kids need more telly since they can watch an entire season in one sitting? Or is it more of a race to the bottom with any old crap being churned out to keep pace with demand?
Fortunately, I stuck to my guns - mostly out of necessity to be honest - and things are incredibly healthy now. CBBC has had an injection of cash - and new protections around it - while Netflix, Amazon, Disney and even Sky are all commissioning homegrown shows like never before.
Obviously, kids aren't watching telly in the way that they used to, but the BBC understand this and are trying to reach out to them. They know that they need to grow the next generation of viewers. I'm about to begin working on a new show for CBBC, which is aiming to be a bit of a multimedia leap forwards in that direction.
Whether this golden age will last is unknown - and I know that I'm in a fortunate position in that I'm pretty established in the industry, so my perspective might be different to someone just starting out.
The downside in working in kids TV is that it doesn't pay as well as adult telly - and certainly doesn't come with the same sort of respect, if that's the kind of thing you need. Consequently, I have to write a lot of it to make it financially viable. But...! I do enjoy it. Most of the time.
It was August about five years ago and more or less 7pm. I was waiting at my house for Bad Feri. He was the landlord of my then local bar and he had taken the night off.
"So you've never been to a casino?" he said, somewhat incredulously.
I still couldn't see what he thought was so odd about it. After all, I wasn't really brought up in the ways of town life - I was more accustomed to sitting at home, playing video games and suchlike.
That was two weeks ago. Now I stood in my house, best shirt on, real trousers, polished shoes...what an effort. Bad Feri's wife was dropping him off at mine, we were going to walk into Stoke town centre, have a couple of pints and then get a taxi to the city for a night of gambling then drinking and 'womanising' - remember, Feri was married. Bad Feri.
I was looking forward to it so much; I'd been out of work for months and was sick of being skint. I'd done a couple of days helping out Feri in his bar during a refit and had a few quid on me for the effort. It was the first time in ages I had money in my pocket. To be able to go out and do something different and fun felt like a holiday abroad.
The phone rang. Here we go, half an hour late because his dog's escaped.
"It's me. Get your shoes on. I'll be there in five minutes." It was my dad.
"It's your Uncle Dave. He's got a bad back. I've got to go down there to get him into hospital..."
"I can't, I'm..."
"...and YOU'RE driving. We've got to go. They won't admit him. He's in so much pain he might kill himself..."
"SHOW SOME FUCKING RESPECT! Listen, we've got to go down. It's up to ME to sort this fucking mess out again" - shouting now. There was a knock at the door.
"I've got to go, there's someone at the door"
"FIVE MINUTES. Make sure you're ready" my dad finished, hanging up.
Feri stood there grinning as I looked down from my front doorstep at him.
"I'm sorry mate it's off. My uncle's ill and I've got to help my dad in London with him."
It all came out too fast, like a child unconvincingly lying, "and I can't say no you know what he's like".
What an idiot.
"Oh. Alright mate," Feri said, trying unsuccessfully to hide his disappointment. I felt a sort of pity for him at that moment; I'd never seen him looking so...smart.
"We'll have to sort it out for another time," I continued apologising for a while afterwards before I shut the door. I knew I sounded like I wasn't being honest.
Now to work out what was going on. Uncle? Bad back? London? Why does my dad need to go down there? Suicide? He never calls my Uncle Dave 'uncle'? Why am I involved? Silly, silly thoughts: I know why I was needed.
I didn't need to wait for him to knock; I heard him mount the curb outside.
"You're driving" he said. I already guessed that before he had arrived, let alone watch him make for the passenger door. I got into his Discovery, £45,000 of unneeded extravagance, the air ice-cold. I bet the bastard had had the air conditioning running for an hour on his drive before he left, just to make it 'right' for him.
"You know how to adjust the seat don't ya'?" he said, messing around with the multitude of buttons on my seat, tilting me backwards and forwards, up and down.
Of course I knew - it was the same routine every time I had to drive. Oh, here we go - push the seat forward so my legs get crushed. Hilarious. The thing that I never mentioned was that, apart from my father's considerable extra weight we were more or less the same frame wise and I never needed to adjust the chair. This was just another one of those 'things' that he did... one of those 'things' that made your life just a little less pleasant.
"Quick slug?" he gestured towards me with his open Lucozade bottle.
"Nah, I'm alright thanks". I shook my head, trying to look like I was about to enter into concentration mode and doing my best not to show just how angry I was to have another day of my life ruined by him.
"Just as well, seeing as you're driving" he said, just before he winced in a fashion that would have been comical if I wasn't quite so very pissed off.
"Fucking hell!" he cried, "bit too much voddy in that!" he snorted as he watered down the already open bottle of Lucozade with added Smirnoff with a fresh bottle of the amber fizz, taking another quick swig to test that it was to his liking. I was glad it had brought tears to his eyes.
"Russ filled it up this morning," he nodded towards my side of the dashboard: "so we won't have to stop. You know the way, don't you?"
"I don't even know what's going on" - I think he could sense my irritability.
"Oi. Pack it in."
He had that stern, serious look and tone - the only sort you can learn and pull off successfully from having spent considerable time in the forces.
"It's our Dave. Our Margaret's been on, he's in a bad way. He's had this bad back for months now, done it at work from lifting that boom. They won't admit him an 'e's on about killin' himself the pain's so bad."
David worked for the BBC as a sound technician, "That's why I'VE got to go down there and sort this fucking mess OUT."
He didn't have to do anything. I could never understand that, but then maybe I could; he was already drunk when he rang me - this was just another one of his 'weird jollys', the sort that only happened when he was drunk and could only be justified by making some sort of crisis out of it.
It was now 7.15pm. This was going to be a tough evening.
I am unfit but still strong and that is all.
I wrote a multi-part thing about PC Zone magazine: http://www.forceforgood.co.uk/tag/an-incomplete-and-subjective-history/
Would you mind giving it a plug? Hopefully it might be of interest to Digi fans, and you feature in part 4!
I'm not normally one to put my stuff forward, but felt emboldened by some unsolicited and generous words of support from ex-Zone ed Will Porter so I figured, why not?
No worries if you can't or this arrives too late!
When will Battlefront II be available for the ZX80, please?
Hello, Biffykins. Goodness, what a lot of time has passed since I last did a letter. I can't say I have a great deal of news to deliver. Games-wise I have been playing Mass Effect Andromeda, which I am enjoying, but also I am entirely understanding of those who didn't. It's OK, y'know?
The shooty bits are fine except when the AI glitches out and I can just go at them like they're a static shooting gallery with my sniper rifle and they just stand around as people's heads explode around them. Some bits of UI and are clunky, and it still has BioWare's patented "pick this option to try and have sex with the person you're talking to" conversation choices, but the overall game is mostly OK.
Yeah, it's no Mass Effect 2, but then only one game is. Better than Dragon Age Inquisition, anyway.
That was only half the point of this though, the other part is that after a somewhat lengthy wait, I have completed my latest book, which I include below:
MR BIFFO AND THE TERRIBLE REVENGE
Once upon a time there was a very good boy called Mr Biffo who was so incredibly good you would not believe it if I told you about it, which I just did. Anyway. Mr Biffo was wandering around his garden wearing only the top half of his clothing, because he’d found it saved time if he was continually bottomnude given the usual messes he caused. Mr Biffo felt a familiar rumble in his tumbles, but before he could do anything about it, a Magical Poo Fairy appeared before him.
“Oh dear, not you again.” He said.
“No, it’s completely different this time, and I’m his brother or something. Look.”
The magical poo fairy lifted his skirts to show that yes indeed, on his underwear was written “I’M HIS BROTHER.”
“Fair enough, magical poo fairy’s magical poo fairy brother, how can I help you? Make it quick as I’ve got an appointment with some kind of container or just the floor at this point if I’m honest.”
“Well, I’m here to offer you a Deal. I can stop your uncontrollable urge to do poo all the time with one simple trick.”
“Is it a cork?”
“No, here, look.”
The magical poo fairy’s magical poo fairy brother waved his magical poo fairy wand, and suddenly Mr Biffo felt The Urge subside.
“Goodness, The Urge has gone! Whatever did you do?”
“It’s A Secret. OK Bye!”
Mr Biffo wondered what could have happened, but as he had been freed from the urge to cover his entire garden in a layer of faeces 2 inches thick, he didn’t think much more of it for now. He went about his business hopping seminude around the garden and shouting “I AM A HOPPY FROG” for the rest of the day in comfort and went to bed that night full of a newfound sense of wellbeing and relief.
Mr Biffo awoke the next day and was expecting the events of the previous day to be a dream, but his usual morning urge to paint the town brown was nowhere to be found.
He did however smell something, and that smell was a real bad one. He got out of his bed expecting it to be full of poo, or the entire room to be painted with it, but no, there was no botty meat to be seen anywhere. Mr Biffo chanced to glace out of the window and then the source of the intruding odour was clear. Everyone else in the whole world had been afflicted with Mr Biffo’s Special Condition, and the entire world outside had been repainted by an artist whose only paints were brown. The Original Magical Poo Fairy Not The Brother One was floating lazily above Mr Biffo’s bed.
“Well I hope you’re satisfied with yourself.”
“More than you can possibly imagine” said Mr Biffo, and he went to have his breakfast.
And that's also the end of this week's contribution.