Culture, Diary, Music

In Praise of Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean - 2012 press photo 01 (1448x815)It’s incredible how little I have written about Frank Ocean considering how many times I have played his music over the last four years, and how deeply it has touched me. Following the release of his second album, Blonde, in August, it’s high time I remedied this fact with a piece in praise of this singular artist.

Culture, Gaming

Replay: Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank (PS2, 2002), 600x463Publisher: SCE  Developer: Insomniac Games  Format: PS2  Release: 2002

On planet Rilgar, one of two game areas available in the demo for Ratchet & Clank, there is a seemingly impassable tunnel. This tunnel, a platforming gauntlet made all the more desperate by the pressure of a rising water level, can only be passed with a combination of gadgetry, mechanical understanding and flawless timing. Most first-timers aren’t capable of making it through this treacherous challenge with anything approaching casual decorum. But once you attain the skill and understanding to master it, you appreciate this formative sci-fi character action game more keenly than when you first took a chance on its fuzzy-eared protagonist and his robotic sidekick.

Culture, Gaming

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part four

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, key art 01 (1280x720)In the final part of my Star Wars games round-up we look back on the last decade of titles, including the oft-forgotten Republic Commando, the family-friendly adventure that started a global children’s craze, Lego Star Wars, the penultimate epic from LucasArts, The Force Unleashed, and look forward to EA’s Battlefront reboot. This lightspeed retrospective has shown me just how strong the Force was with some Star Wars games – and how nonexistent it was in others.

Enjoy the final part, and by all means share your own memories of Star Wars games if you’ve got ’em. I’m @dk33per on Twitter.

Culture, Gaming

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part three

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, 01, Boba Fett (1280x720)In the penultimate edition of my Star Wars games round-up, we find ourselves leaping between LucasArts mostly-middling Episode II-related titles, the original Star Wars MMOG, and BioWare’s celebrated RPG, Knights of the Old Republic. Now, allow me to dispense with the pleasantries and get stuck in, before Vader’s comes a-knocking to put me back on schedule.

Culture, Gaming

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part one

Star Wars X-Wing Alliance cover art (1280x720)Star Wars games. If you’re reading this I’m guessing you too will have some affection for interactive lightsaber swinging, X-Wing piloting, blocky 32-bit confrontations with Jabba the Hutt and other fantasies from George Lucas’ sci-fi saga that games have enabled us to live out.

With the seventh film hitting cinema screens next month, now is a fitting time to run through the Star Wars games of our generation – or, to put it another way, the last 25 years.

Culture, Gaming

Replay: MediEvil 2

MediEvil 2, characters art 02 (1920x1080)Publisher: SCE  Developer: SCE Cambridge Studio  Format: PS1  Release: 2000

It’s ironic, really. For a game about battling ghoulish creatures in typically disquieting surroundings, the scariest part about MediEvil 2 was facing up to its many nightmarish foes. I mean that literally, because lining up the broad sword-swings and crossbow bolts of bony protagonist, Sir Daniel Fortesque, with the rotting, uncoordinated corpses that stand in his way is tougher than juggling with pumpkins.

Culture, Film, Music

Sam Smith, James Bond and the benefits of a hit theme song

Sam Smith - Writing's on the Wall, single (960x540)The James Bond series’ legacy casts a long shadow. And we felt that shadow last Friday when Sam Smith’s theme song, ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, for the forthcoming 007 film, Spectre, premiered on BBC Radio 1, and instantly garnered responses of delight and derision from listeners.

No modern James Bond film has appeared without a babble of disagreement over its accompanying theme song. Though some, including Sir Roger Moore, have praised Smith’s song, others have labelled it “bland”, “excruciatingly wimpy”, and suggested it “doesn’t seem to fit the possible theme of the film”.

Whether Smith’s (over)emotional outpouring makes it to number one or not, a hit theme song can do wonders for the life of a film, and the singer who performs it.