Sunday, 18 August 2019

Some Hints for Don't Escape 4

I think Don't Escape 4, released on Steam earlier this year, is an absolutely terrific point-and-click survival horror game, and you should all buy it immediately. (The three preceding games, previously released online, are also available to buy for Steam, and are worth picking up given the imminent demise of Flash.)

However, when I played the game on its release, there were a few puzzles I got stuck on, and after a few hours of much pointing and clicking and failing to work them out, I was forced to consult the Internet... and the only help available to me was in the form of full, complete walkthroughs, which did end up telling me rather more than I wanted to know when all I needed was a slight nudge in the right direction. So I thought I'd come up with my own list of suitably vague hints for the game.

Right, these are ordered roughly chronologically (although there may be some variance, what with free will and all), although the game has several story branches so some of them may not apply to your playthrough.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Edit Wars #12

Oh good lord, they're still going. Ahem. Actually, this one's a bit interesting - examples of possible censorship in the show for reasons of copyright or similar.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

From Cabin A to Cabin Z

Ah, Cabin Pressure. Whilst unquestionably a very funny show in its own right - certainly the funniest heard on Radio 4 in quite a good few years - halfway through its original run it was unexpectedly catapulted to international fame quite unheard of for a Radio 4 sitcom when one of its main cast, a certain Benedict Cumberbatch, began starring in a new crime drama on BBC One, instantly creating a massive fanbase which was eager to seek out some of his other work. By happy coincidence, a repeat run of the second series of Cabin Pressure began in the same week as that first series of Sherlock, and the rest is history.

Cabin Pressure ran for a total of four six-episode series plus two specials, totalling 26 episodes. That is the same number as there are letters in the alphabet. This is not a coincidence, as each episode is named after the location the crew of MJN Air are flying to that week, and the series works its way through the alphabet from A to Z: starting with the first episode, "Abu Dhabi", and all the way up to the grand finale, "Zurich". At least, that was the intention, and how the episodes were written and recorded: the actual broadcasts hit one or two snags.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Walton Earth?

Here is a Simpsons story you may be familiar with. In a speech on 27 January 1992, then-President of the United States George H.W. Bush mentions The Simpsons unflatteringly, stating American families should try to be "a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons". These remarks - or something very similar to them - are repeated during his speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention in August of that year. (Some sources claim that Bush's second use of the Waltons/Simpsons comparison was during his State of the Union address on 28 January, but that does not seem to be the case.)

The producers of The Simpsons quickly rush out a response, using redubbed animation (taken from the start of "Simpson and Delilah") and live-action footage of the speech, aired as a pre-titles sequence before a repeat of "Stark Raving Dad" on the 30th January, which you can see here. (Apologies for linking to a DVD extra someone's stuck on YouTube, but it is absolutely necessary to illustrate this article.)

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Broken Gamebooks #15: Vault of the Vampire

Bonus fact: At the request of the publisher, the illustrator "reluctantly" toned down the cleavage on the girl in the background.
Time to finish up on Keith Martin's adventure gamebooks, then. There are two things worth mentioning here, and the first is small, but interesting. Take a look at this picture of section 123, and its accompanying illustration:

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Scorpia Fish

The fifth Alex Rider book, Scorpia, was published in April 2004 in the UK (that printing is the one pictured above - if your copy looks similar but with a bigger insignia and a smaller title, then you've got a reprint from circa 2005, and it was reissued with new covers several times between 2009 and 2015 as the series' publishers struggled to find a design they liked) and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, in March 2005 in the US.

I recall reading some years ago that there was a fairly significant change to the text in the US edition. To quote from a conversation between Alex and his friend Tom on page 88 of the UK edition, during chapter 6 "Thoughts on a Train":

Alex hadn't mentioned his father. That was the one area that still troubled him. It was too private to share with anyone. "I've got to find Scorpia," he began. He paused, then continued carefully. "I think my dad may have had some sort of involvement with them. I never knew him. He died shortly after I was born."

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Let's Do The Mind Warp Again

The 1986 series of Doctor Who, a 14-part arc split up into four individual segments known collectively as The Trial of a Time Lord, is one of the shining examples of a deeply troubled production, perhaps best summed up by the writer of the final segment dying before he had completed the script, the script editor finishing it but the producer then getting cold feet about the original ending and deciding to change it, and the script editor being so incensed by this that he withdrew permission to use his version of the final episode and walked out on the production, meaning a new writing team had to be brought in to write a new conclusion without knowing anything about what was originally meant to happen with just days to spare.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Science Friction

Fighting Fantasy books are predominantly, well, fantasy. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Beneath Nightmare Castle, Crypt of the Sorcerer, Master of Chaos, The Keep of the Lich-Lord, Legend of the Shadow Warriors - there's very little doubt as to what genre these titles belong to. The series has occasionally diverged into other settings - over the series' 35-year history there have been two horror stories with a contemporary setting (House of Hell and Blood of the Zombies), a superhero tale (Appointment with F.E.A.R.) and the post-apocalyptic Mad Max-esque Freeway Fighter. But the most notable setting apart from high fantasy is science fiction, which was the setting for seven of the first 33 books in the series. These generally seem to be less well remembered than the rest of the series, and in fact the range's last stab at a science fiction entry was purportedly so negatively received that it completely killed off the idea of any more experiments, with every entry in the series' original run after that coming from the realm of high fantasy. But is this stigma totally deserved? Why not look at all seven sci-fi books from the series in the hope of finding out?