You see, it's not really a very funny story, and actually incredibly sad and tragic, and I know it's annoying when people tease, but - sorry - I tried writing it out and have chosen to delete it instead. If you ever meet me in person - you can ask me about it.
And on that note... If you would like to appear on next week's page, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone - please send your emails for next week to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two things have bothered me by their absence since the release of the Star Wars Special Editions. Why is that we see the senate for three films, it's a major part of the story, and then we only hear about it being dissolved when Tarkin mentions it? This should be big news. It was the last remnant of democracy, and in the saga as it currently stands this bombshell is done a massive disservice.
Likewise Alderaan, why did we only glimpse the surface of the place in Ep. 3, right at the end? Surely the deaths of millions would have far greater impact on screen if we'd actually seen them.
Obviously these scenes couldn't be done in the original cut of IV, time or budget etc. Easier to have a character on screen just tell the audience, Princess Leia's and Kenobi's reaction telling us what had happened. But with everything that was added back into the Special Edition why not a couple of new scenes to flesh out those parts of the story?
Why no Alderaan in the prequels? It could have been just as easy, and greater fan service, to have the Trade Federation blockade there rather than creating Naboo. Likewise we could have had either of these scenes in Rogue One, considering how close it is time-wise to ANH. What do you reckon?
I mean, there was all that new celebration stuff at the end of the Return of the Jedi Special Edition, but he didn't think to add just a moment of people on Alderaan looking up at the sky just moments before they were all wiped out? That feels like a missed opportunity. Also... Princess Leia's reaction to seeing everyone she knows, her entire world, disintegrated, is rather muted, and it continues to irk me.
It's the one change to the original movies I would've made; you didn't need Greedo shooting first, or that weird Jabba scene, or the wholly unnecessary slapstick robots as they entered Mos Eisley. All it would've taken was a little suggestion of the human cost of the Death Star's weapon. And Obi-Wan Kenobi getting indigestion doesn't count. But no. My theory - and I genuinely believe this - is that Mr Lucas may be rather high on the old autism spectrum. There. Somebody had to say it.
Also, the Special Editions are 20 years old now, and as I'm typing this I'm realising that nobody else in their right minds is going to care, and it just makes us look a bit mad.
I would like to understand your position on Ligers. A necessary hybrid, or a blight upon God's green Earth? Thanks!
I also like the second Thor film. I am a bit of a sucker for stories about brothers. I should probably play that game about brothers where you control both at once using one analogue stick for each.
I don't remember what it's called.
I'm typing this on Monday. Tomorrow I am moving house and will be without home internet access for a solid eight days. I can use my phone and tether it to my computer, but even a 3G signal is non-existent at my new place.
I've not owned a TV for over 15 years, and the internet (aside from gaming) is my go-to source for entertainment. My mum said I should spend those days unpacking and getting my new apartment in order... but what's the point? I've got a massive storage room, and it can all stay in there in the boxes for all I care.
With this in mind, what do you think of the Thargoids possibly appearing in Elite: Dangerous? I was one of those crowdfunding people that plied £100 into it a couple or so years ago, and I've only played it for about ten minutes - my Smoking Brother stole my excellent joystick, rendering the game practically unplayable.
My Imaginary Wife was none too happy either after spending that amount on an alpha release. I did buy her a bottle of Amaretto and some good cheese as compensation though, which sort of cheered her up.
Oh, I can't find the photo of me when I painted my beard (as mentioned in last Friday Letters page), but I honestly did. Someone of not unsubstantial internet fame has seen it, but I don't want to mention who it is because another Internet loon will no doubt track it down and try and reveal my identity, just like the British fella that lives in Canada once tried to do. That caused me (and others) no end of trouble.
He was a psychiatric nurse.
I am fit and strong and that is all.
It's rare that I praise games these days. I am very much a lapsed gamer. After having spent my early gaming days loading tapes into an Atari 800 - which my dad bought, giving the excuse to my mum that he could "work out our finances" on it - to the Gameboy he won from a packet of Quavers shortly after it launched in the UK... to the 360 which was the last console I bought primarily for gaming.
I grabbed a PS4 not too long ago after looking for a PS3 simply to play Blu-rays, and maybe do a bit of gaming with. I then saw the PS4 on offer for £150 so nabbed one. I grabbed Bloodborne because I enjoyed the shit out of some Dark Souls, and man, that is a great game.
I still haven't finished it yet though, because I picked up Titanfall 2. It has consumed any and all gaming time since I bought it at the end of November. I've downloaded other games and played them for 5 minutes, but nothing has grabbed me quite as well as Titanfall 2. Nothing is as satisfying to control as Titanfall 2.
Basically I like the game a whole lot; the single player is the most fun I've had in a game for a long time. I recall buying Halo 4 and spending maybe 5/6 hours with it before being utterly bored to death. Nothing felt special any more, it was all the same thing over again. Remember Bungie stating something about having a bunch of cool encounters?
Yeah that wasn't a thing in Halo 4. It was very definitely a thing in Titanfall though. Apparently the developers basically had a 'game jam' type scenario where they all pitched ideas on cool little set pieces which would be great fun to play.
The game is basically all these ideas for levels woven together with a passable narrative to get you from one to the other. As such the game never outstays it's welcome, not by a long shot.
It took me maybe 6 hours to play through the first time. In these days of having other shit to do, because being an adult can be tedious like that, it was a joy. I mention Bloodborne. I enjoyed that a lot, and probably have 40 hours in it, mostly retreading old ground to recover blood shards. Going over the same bit again and again. There's none of that in Titanfall, and for that reason - and so many others - I adore it.
There's nothing quite like when the movement system clicks, and you're bunny hopping around the level rebounding off walls, taking alternate routes to an objective... flicking phase shift, before entering a room, sliding in on your knees as you pop back into the game world, only to empty your EVA 8 shotgun into a couple of pilots. Nothing quite like climbing into a Scorch Titan, and having idiot pilots try to climb on top, through your heat shield - which just melts them instead.
The game is full of these tiny moments of utter joy, which make you feel so great about playing. My most recent favourite moment was online, and I'm massively disappointed I couldn't figure out how to record it - because it was brilliant. In the game you can climb onto enemy Titans and extract batteries from them. It damages them, and you can then scamper off with a free battery for your own Titan (hooray!)
After you've extracted the battery the game always forces a leaping exit 180 degrees from where the Titan is looking - I imagine to give you a chance to run like hell.
Well on this occasion I was in a Titan and a guy clambered on top of my hulking robot of death to try and steal a battery. "HOW DARE YOU!?" I said to myself, and then noticed where I was stood; on an outcrop of the level right next to a drop that would kill a pilot. I simply walked over to the edge, faced away from it, and then turned around just in time to see him falling unavoidably to his death. I wish I could've heard the reaction, but all I know is I was howling...
...it's the little moments.
Sorry for rambling, but I will gleefully espouse the wonders of this game to anyone who will listen and even to those that won't.
Over the last few years I have continued to enjoy playing my old Xbox 360 whilst others have upgraded to the current gen. It has been a pleasure to get some of the big releases for only a few quid in CEX, especially as it has allowed me to take a gamble on some that received mixed reviews.
As the bargain bin runs dry I am looking to buy a PS4 or Nintendo Switch this year, but I must say that - speaking as an outsider - there doesn't seem to have been much that screams "must have!"
Perhaps I am old and jaded, having been playing games for 30-odd years, but it certain seems that everything 'worth playing' in the last few years has just been the newest iteration of an established franchise. Even Nintendo, which I have deep affection for since the NES days, seems less keen to innovate and more interested in coasting on big (read: overexposed) names. I feel like I've seen it all before.
I understand that it's Catch-22 for developers - the big franchises shift units and sell systems (I myself can't wait for Mass Effect Andromeda), but I find myself strangely unexcited about getting a new console this year, as they seem to provide less value for money.
However, since you continue to love playing and writing about games I feel I might be missing something, especially as I have been unable to play many of the indie games being released in the current gen.
Perhaps this a long way of asking: what do you recommend for keeping the gaming jadedness at bay?
After I stopped doing Digi for Teletext, it took me a couple of years to really get back into games. We had a review more or less every day, and so most of my spare time was taken up with playing. I just got sick of them. So... that's my advice. There are loads of great games out there. Just don't feel you have to play all of them.
After all this talk of the high price of the Wii U 2, I feel it's only fair to ignore the whole thing and give my opinion of the game of the year so far that I got in the PSN sale - Claire.
It's a great game: the protagonist even dies of a heart attack if she gets too upset that she's forgotten to do the washing up, or faces the gritty reality of the fact her husband is getting home from work after she's forgotten to make his dinner. The easier modes involve her drugging his frontier to make him less capable of making those pixel perfect jumps on the corporate ladder, thus making him less likely to run away with Sarah from the sales division.
I'd urge everyone to play it, or maybe something else since I think this was a dream I had about my hairdresser getting killed by a renegade group throwing a drinks vending machine on her head.
Zombiekicker (PSN id)
Last week in your Letters page, Lord Arse (if that is his real name) claimed to have invented the 27th letter of the alphabet.
However, I’d like to point out that for a long while, there were indeed 27 letters in the alphabet. Now, you may well argue that before the invention of the printing press and - later - typewriters, that there were many more letters of the alphabet, some of which may well be recognisable to those familiar with Nordic languages such as Icelandic. However, I am going to concern myself with what was taught as the 27th letter of the alphabet.
I am, of course, referring to the ampersand - &. This character is known by its name - “and” and is a representation of the Latin “et” (technical term for this is ligature). A good ampersand will appear to be a nice, maybe florid, conjunction of the two letters “e” and “t”.
However, the & character was never intended to be used as part of a word, so you would not write “hand” as “h&”. It was always intended to be used on its own, so it was in the alphabet chants in school that it would be taught in the following context: “x, y, z, and, per se, and” (“per se” meaning “on its own”). Eventually “and, per se, and” became “ampersand”.
So, there was already a 27th letter of the alphabet, but its use and inclusion (and, indeed its name), has changed.
The ampersand is a tricky thing to draw - I’ve seen many failed attempts on blackboards outside pubs, hand written notes and, alarmingly, on the main road from the A13 to Intu Lakeside in Thurrock (and if going to Lakeside isn’t punishment enough, seeing those awfully rendered characters on the road every time is enough to make my blood boil). So it’s nice to think that maybe, just maybe, Lord Arse has attempted to draw an ampersand, but failed miserably.
And now for things that I bet you won’t normally see in a Digitiser letter: citations. I’m not making this up.
Good old Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampersand#History
I first came across this rather nice story in a book: The Alphabet Abecedarium by Richard A Firmage, Bloomsbury Press. ISBN 0-7475-5299-1, so I’ll include that as reference too.
Back in the day, I would regularly play Destruction Derby 2 round at my friend's house. One of the tracks, Sca Motorplex, had the slogan 'the Home of Stock Car Racing' on it's loading screen. Whenever I saw this, I would say in a mock Northern accent, "Hello Mrs Racing, can your Stock Car come out to play?"
I did this without fail, for years.
I wonder if any of your readers have also irritated the living shit out of a gaming companion by the blunt repetition of an inane joke?
Hiya. People in the games industry do not know what words mean.
Exhibit A: The official EA Battlefront twitter account describing Jyn Erso as “iconic”.
Exhibit B: The PS4 pro. How exactly does making a games console a bit more powerful make it professional? Assuming pro is short for professional rather than Proops or prolapse, say.
Are civil engineers now using them to design bridges? Are other versions of the PS4 now rendered amateurish? And yes I know you can now earn money by playing games, but you hardly a need a pro version of the console for doing that. As a writer pro, what do you reckon?
I've been playing Rise of the Tomb Raider and rather enjoying it, especially the way you can make Lara scramble about on the ground like she's recreating the video for Sexy Christmas USA.
However the first twenty minutes or so almost had me attacking my Xbox with a toffee hammer, due to it's dull expositional cut scenes and a tutorial system that felt like a never ending slew of QuickTime events.
Back when I was a lad all this stuff would have been covered in the manual (normally a cassette inlay that concertina-ed to ridiculous length). Why don't they make manuals any more? Or Splicer bars? Or sausage dogs?
My only regret is the permanent damage to eBay's purchase recommendations.
Do any reviews of games that you have read over the years stand out as being particularly memorable or well-written?
Do you think that games now are better than they have ever been? If not then when was the best period, in your opinion?
Games better than they have been? Broadly speaking... yes. I think so. Though I've got an affection for the early-mid 90s Mega Drive/Super NES era, when developers had more restrictions on what they could do, and pushed the boundaries.
Now it feels like anything is possible. Sometimes limited resources - financially, creatively - are to a project's benefit. That's why you get so many lovely indie games, I think.
Dear Mr Biggo: with the recent "unpleasantness" surrounding the Nintendo Switch release, which console launch in history really got you out of bed thinking "oh man, this is gonna be one stone-gold groovy machine, I can't wait to get my freak on with it"?
Before I cared about my Megadrive library (i.e. when I saw those games as retro), I gave my copies of Sonic CD, Jungle Strike, Mega Games 3, and Flashback to a friend over the course of two or three of their birthdays. Now I'm thinking about collecting Megadrive games, it sort of stings. Have you ever given away stuff to friends that you wished you'd held onto in retrospect?
Incidentally, my old Digi 3DO now lives with teletext graphics guru Horsenburger. I didn't know this until I went to his house the year before last, and he had a 3DO, and I said "Oh! You've got a 3DO", and he said "Yes - it's yours". I had no idea I'd ever lent it to him. I don't want it back anyway. What would I even do with it?
Speaking of friends of mine who turned out to be thieves, this has reminded me of the time that a boy called Kevin Hill came round to my house, and as he was leaving I saw in his bag that he had my Donkey Kong Game & Watch and a dartboard-shaped rubber of mine, which he'd taken a shine to.
Quite innocently, I suggested they might have fallen in there, but then he suddenly burst into tears and ran away, and I realised he'd tried to steal them.