You know, there are a lot of things worth discussing in the realm of video games, comic books, movies, and just about all things nerdy, but these things don’t always have enough depth to them to justify an entire article. Therefore, it only seems right that every once in a while, I bring you some quick hits, giving some briefs thoughts on a range of topics that I found interesting over the last couple of weeks. This doesn’t mean they came out recently; it just means I came across them rather recently. With that said, let’s get started with the first volume of Quick Hits.
The Horrors of Region Locked Content
Since I’ve been living in the UK for the past few months, I’ve definitely found a taste for their television shows. Luckily for me, most of the shows worth watching happen to be free on Youtube…if you live here. These videos are region locked, which, for those of you who don’t know, means that only computers with IP addresses traced back to the UK can access these videos.
Here’s the part I don’t understand: brilliant shows like The IT Crowd are never going to make it to air in America. Whether they should or not is irrelevant; the overwhelming British-ness that pervades the language and the humour of the show makes it incredibly unlikely it will ever see the light of day in the states (or they’ll be ruined like America ruined The Inbetweeners) So why prevent those who can’t watch your show normally from being able to see it? You clearly have no problem giving away this content for free. Why not allow people from other countries to access these videos for themselves? That way, you bring to light a great show that deserves recognition and create a potential new audience of fans if that creative team or the actors involved ever wanted to do something in the US.
Heck, even if you don’t have interest in expanding your audience base (which makes no sense to me, but whatever), why not at least monetize the opportunity? By running a commercial before your videos, you’d be bringing in an additional level of income. If we can have professional Let’s Players like The Creatures or Two Best Friends Play, there’s clearly a lot of money to be made in this system. And if no one watches, you lose nothing, as you’re still protected by copyright. It just seems like region-locking content in these cases is detrimental in every way. What am I missing?
Say That Again?
There have been many…interesting video game names over the years, mostly in the indie genre. While VVVVVV and Katamari Damacy definitely turn some heads, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a stranger reaction than when I tell people I’m playing Brainpipe: A Plunge to Unhumanity. I mean, don’t get me wrong, games like Infinite Undiscovery are definitive head scratchers, but let’s break this game down to see why it’s just so strange, and in turn, so overwhelmingly awesome.
Brainpipe: What the heck is a brainpipe? I mean, I didn’t major in biology, but it seems weird to think of the brain as having a big pipe, yes? That said, the game mechanic is essentially you maneuvering through a long pipe and dodging obstacles that represent…I have no idea. It’s abstract in one of those ways that I can tell is artsy, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly it’s trying to say. That said, given it’s basically an “avoid all the things as the world moves faster” game, I may be overthinking it.
A Plunge: Now that’s an active verb if I’ve ever heard one. This isn’t just some adventure I accidentally walked into. Oh no. I’m plunging head first into this chaotic whirlwind of a game. I don’t know how I found this brainpipe or what it may be, but I’m going in with everything I have. So what’s the goal?
Unhumanity: Unhumanity is a concept that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Which is why I’m going to play this game for hours on end until I finally get good enough to reach the end and discover what it actually is. It’s one of those nonsense words that carry just enough legitimacy that you have to know how it ends. Is it weird? Very much so. But that very strangeness is what makes the game so appealing. Give it a try, and see if you can figure out what the heck unhumanity is for yourself.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong: Movie Edition
Whenever a movie is announced based on a property of which I’m aware, there are two questions that immediately pop into my head: who’s starring, and who’s directing. While the first one is rather obvious and tends to be the one that draws the big headline (think back to the hype when Robert Downey Jr. was announced as Iron Man), I’ve always considered the latter question to be more important. An actor can only do so much if he or she is given poor direction and a lacklustre script, after all.
Two big name projects recently came to the forefront of my mind. First, that Ender’s Game movie, which, while certainly less controversial than some of Orson Scott Card’s other works, still has some undertones that need to be handled delicately if the movie wants to avoid a spew of hate thrown its way (Card is a … controversial … writer to say the least). And when you think of directors that can handle such delicate undertones, how can you not think of Gavin Hood, the man behind the train wreck that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine? I mean, he’s as subtle as being hit over the head with a frying pan that’s been left on a hot stove for a couple hours. Should be great.
Oh, and speaking of Wolverine, The Wolverine looks to undo the damage of X-Men Origins by keeping Hugh Jackman and scrapping pretty much everyone else involved in the project. If handled properly, this could be 20th Century Fox’s big stand to prove that they can make superhero movies just as well as Marvel Studios while bringing in the big bucks. So, of course, they brought in James Mangold to direct. You know, the man whose last directing effort was the mess known as Knight and Day. He’s described on Rotten Tomatoes as “a director known for making sophisticated dramas that chronicle emotional and moral struggles”. You know, because when you think of Wolverine, you think of sophisticated dramas and emotional struggles. I mean, really, what could possibly go wrong?
(Excuse me while I facepalm…)
The Game You Should All Be Playing
If you’re a fan of any of the following things, you need to go buy Beat Hazard Ultra (with iTunes support) right now:
- Shooting things
- Pretty Lights
The game is a space shooter that procedurally generates levels based on the rises and falls in the music. Enemy ships slow down and speed up as the tempo changes. As such, the game really feels alive and dynamic. And for about a dollar more, you can play your own music, meaning you can jam out to your favourite songs and play an awesome video game at the same time. It’s a ton of fun, and the variety of enemy types, game modes (four, each of which have their own quirks that make them enjoyable) and power-ups to keep the game interesting. Best of all, since your music is creating the levels, you’ll never face the exact same layout twice. It’s a beautiful game well worth your time and money.
That’s it for Quick Hits Volume 1. Let me know in the comments below if you liked the format, and check back next week for the newest instalment of my Pokemon Let’s Play.