MOVIE REVIEW – INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE

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Indie Game: The Movie is a Documentary Film initially released in 2012. It takes a look at the Indie Game industry and follows the creators of three successful indie games at various stages of the game development process.

The main indie games followed throughout the film are Super Meat Boy developed by Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, Braid created by Jonathan Blow, and finally, Fez created by Phil Fish.

Around 2008 a surge in the number of indie games released into the market started, mainly due to the rise of digital distribution channels, which removed the barrier of entry related to physical distribution indie developers struggled to overcome in the past. This growth in the indie games released has resulted in a healthy and robust indie game industry today, filled with many passionate and driven people chasing their dreams.

The film features numerous interviews with these individuals throughout the development process and gives incredible insight into the enormous passion, sacrifices made, and challenges faced by Indie Game Developers. Throughout the numerous conversations with these indie game developers, one thing becomes abundantly clear, and that is that the games they work on are far more than simple games, but rather a way of deep and meaningful self-expression, sharing a part of themselves and exposing personal vulnerabilities.

Indie Game: The Movie is a must-see film for anyone interested in the video game industry or game development in general, and it is one of the best films on the topic.

MOVIE REVIEW – INDIE GAME: THE MOVIE

MOVIE REVIEW – NOT FOR RESALE: A VIDEO GAME STORE DOCUMENTARY

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Not For Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is an interesting and informative film directed by Kevin J. James. It is a documentary film that examines the place of brick and mortar video game stores in a world that is increasingly becoming exclusively digitally focused.

The film focuses on a variety of Retro Game Stores, including two I have had the pleasure of visiting 8bit and Up in New York City and Pink Gorilla Games in Seattle. Numerous owners and employees of these stores are interviewed about the future of these local “Mom and Pop” shops in a world where physical media is becoming increasingly unfashionable and demand for physical retro video games is decreasing year on year (partly due to these retro games being made available on new platforms).

The documentary also examines the rise of the digital distribution of video games and how that affects the customer from a product ownership perspective. From a positive perspective, the digital distribution of video games has removed a massive barrier to entry for smaller and indie developers, who can now release their games alongside the big corporations. There are, however, also negative points. These mainly focus on the possibility that a customer can lose access to a digital product they have purchased if it is removed from the digital distribution platform. Digital products can be removed from digital distribution platforms for a variety of reasons, including the lapse of licensing agreements.

The film also examines the preservation of video games and video game history, an important task undertaken by various organizations, including the Video Game History Foundation and the National Video Game Museum in Frisco, Texas. These organizations strive to preserve all things related to the history of video games, not just merely the game itself but all source code, design documents, and marketing material. The documentary also discusses the Library of Congress of the United States’ video game section, where video games are stored for historical purposes in a similar way to which the Library archives films and books.

Not For Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is an enjoyable film that, at its core, looks at the impact video games have on our lives and the way this important part of many of our lives will be affected in the future.  Not For Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is an excellent documentary that comes highly recommended.

MOVIE REVIEW – NOT FOR RESALE: A VIDEO GAME STORE DOCUMENTARY

SURVIVING LOCKDOWN

I had to travel for work to New York City for a week at the end of February (returning early March), and upon returning, I became ill with the flu (I was tested for CODID-19, and luckily tests came back negative). Nevertheless, I was placed on doctor mandated self-isolation. On the 26th March at 23:59, the government of South Africa put the country on lockdown, meaning that you can only leave your house to buy food, get medication, or seek urgent medical assistance. The Army was deployed to assist the police in enforcing the lockdown, and leaving your home for any other reason than the ones mentioned above can result in you being arrested.

This does mean that I have been at home, except a handful of exceptions, for over a month now, and have kept myself busy with a variety of things, such as playing video games, watching some movies, doing a few Python courses and 3d printing a few things.
From a gaming perspective, I have been playing the following games:

Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening (on the Nintendo Switch)

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I thoroughly enjoyed Link’s Awakening, and it is an amazing remake of the Gameboy classic. The game has buckets of charm and is very enjoyable. It is not a challenging game, except for the last boss that can be a bit tricky. I highly recommend Link’s Awakening, and I enjoyed every second from beginning to end, and it took me about 15 hours to complete.

Animal Crossing New Horizons (on the Nintendo Switch)

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I have been absolutely obsessed with Animal Crossing New Horizons, and I must have logged over 40 hours of gameplay to date, and I am still far from done with this game. It is the perfect game while stuck at home, and it is a fantastically fun and feel-good game.

Afterparty (on the Nintendo Switch)

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A delightful adventure by Night School Studio, the creators of Oxenfree. I enjoyed this game, and I love the art style. The game is about 6 hours long, and I am now busy with my second play through doing alternative paths from my first playthrough. Afterparty is a must for anyone who loves adventure games.

Doom 64 (on the Nintendo Switch)

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Doom64 is a tremendous classic fps, and it plays fantastically in Switch Handheld mode. Initially released in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, it has now been re-released on modern platforms. All the enemies and weapons received a redesign from the original Doom games, and I love how enemies look in Doom 64. Doom 64 is a must-play for any Doom fan.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (on the Nintendo Switch)

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I am busy playing through Mario Kart 8 again, I have finished the game on the WiiU previously, but I am casually playing through it again between Animal Crossing sessions. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch is the definitive version of Mario Kart 8, with all the DLC included and with enhanced graphics (and a fixed battle mode), it is the best Mario Kart game to date.

Doom Eternal (on PC)

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Doom Eternal is a beautiful game, and it definitely amps up the difficulty from Doom 2016. All the enemies received a redesign from Doom 2016, with the new designs being more closely inspired by the original Doom games (Doom and Doom II). I love the redesigns of the enemies, and thus far, I am enjoying the game. The game has more strategy compared to Doom 2016, with some enemies having specific weak points that can be exploited, and certain kills (glory kill, chainsaw and flamethrower) providing specific pickups (either health, ammo or armor). The game truly looks amazing and performs great, and I am having no issues running the game at 144fps on Ultra Nightmare settings at 1440p on my 9900k and RTX2080. A definite must-play for FPS fans.

I have also watched a fair number of movies, including:

Not for Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary

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I enjoyed this documentary about Video Game stores and physical media, and I will be posting a full review soon.

Indie Game the Movie

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An entertaining and informative look at the indie game industry, a must-watch for anyone interested in the process of creating video games. I will also be posting a full review of Indie Game the Movie soon.

I have also kept myself busy 3D printing a few things, mostly using the CCTree PLA Wood filament. I have had a few requests from colleagues and friends for Baby Groot and Pikachu models, so I printed out a few of each to give away.

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SURVIVING LOCKDOWN

MOVIE REVIEW – BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

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Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a 2019 DC animated movie based on the comic book miniseries Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Freddie Williams II.

This movie is a great deal of fun and is more light-hearted than many other DC animated movies. The version of the Turtles in this movie is a mix between the 1987 cartoon and the Turtles from the comic books by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, keeping the colored face masks from the cartoon but being significantly more violent as in the comic books. It is worth reiterating that Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a lot more violent than the cartoon show, with the Turtles drawing blood in fights and Shredder killing quite a few people, the foot soldiers are also people like in the comic books and not robots as they where in the cartoon.

There are numerous homages to the 1987 cartoon in the movie, such as a scene from the cartoon shows opening sequence recreated in the movie, as shown in the screengrabs below.

Without spoiling the story, it centers around Shredder and Ra’s al Ghul teaming up to execute some evil plan and Batman teaming up with the Turtles to stop them. A great selection of Batman’s rogue gallery makes an appearance, such as the Penguin, Bane, Mr. Freez, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Scarecrow, and the Joker,  and some of them even get a unique TMNT twist. There are some truly amazing scenes with these villains, like when Leonardo is exposed to Scarecrows fear toxin, or when Bane tries to break Donatello’s back the same way he broke Batmans back (It didn’t work out so well for Bane, with Donatello having a shell).

There is also an epic scene where the Batmobile drives side by side with the Turtle Van and another great sequence where the Turtle Van fires manhole covers painted like pizzas, a reference to the 1989 Pizza Thrower Toy.

The voice cast does a fantastic job with Troy Baker voicing Batman as well as the Joker, and although he does an amazing job and has performed these roles before, he never quite reaches the levels of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill.

This movie is a joy to watch, and both fans of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will love it. It is one of my favorite DC animated movies and one of the most enjoyable movies I have watched this year. Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes highly recommended and is a must-watch for fans of either of the title characters. And to finish off, it is worth mentioning there is a post-credit scene that might hint at a sequel…

MOVIE REVIEW – BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

MOVIE REVIEW – BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

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Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is a 2018 animated movie produced by Warner Bros Animation and DC Entertainment and is based on a one-off graphic novel by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola (originally published in 1989). The story forms part of the DC Else World series which places known characters in different timelines or realities and does not form part of the main DC universe continuity.

The story takes place in a Victorian era Gotham city sometime in the 19th century, which is strongly styled after London during the Victorian times. The story revolves around a killer, Jack the Ripper, who is terrorizing Gotham city and how the Batman is trying to apprehend him.

Various familiar characters make an appearance such as Poison Ivy, James Gordon and Hugo Strange, but they all take on different roles than the ones we know them for. For example, young Tim Drake, Dick Grayson and Jason Todd are in a street gang known as the Robins.

The movie is beautifully animated as with most DC animated movies and the voice acting is outstanding, Bruce Wayne\Batman is voiced by Bruce Greenwood, who does an exceptional job, however I do always find it slightly jarring when Batman is voiced by anyone other than Kevin Conroy.

This movie is immensely engaging and does a great job of bringing the graphic novel to life. It does have a major plot twist, that I will not spoil, that adds a real sense of surprise to how the story ends.

It is a great movie for Batman and DC Animated Universe fans and is a really enjoyable watching experience.

MOVIE REVIEW – BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT