My Top 5 Chill Out Games

One of the things I love about games is the mental challenge, they get the gears going as you set about trying to solve the beautiful puzzle before you. They make you stretch your noggin in ways you didn’t know you could by giving you all kinds of different scenarios and configurations to figure out before your opponents to be crowned the winner.

Sometimes, though, you want a change of pace. You just want to chill out. The other thing I love about games is how they can bring people together, you can have a few drinks and a few laughs whilst moving coloured pieces about and not having to worry too much of work too hard at building a long standing strategy in order to claim your victory.

With a chill out game it doesn’t matter who wins, it doesn’t matter too much about strategy, the most important thing is to gather people round and have a bit of a laugh, or just a nice relaxing evening together.

So get into a comfy seat, grab some snacks and your favourite beverage, and don’t forget to invite your friends for the top 5 games for chilling out with.

 

5) Last Will 

last-will-2Welcome to Brewster’s Millions: The Board Game. Your Uncle has died, Hooray! He has left you his fortune, but first you must spend a nominal amount (it changes from game to game) within  eight weeks, to get the rest of the beautiful bullion, because that’s how life works. Right? Right?!

So, you have to set about living the most lavish lifestyle you can, by buying big houses that you leave to depreciate in value, buying dogs and horses to train and feed, having many lady companions who you take to dinner and on boating trips as well as throwing stupendous parties.

It’s a great, card based game that allows you to go down many different routes, and try loads of different ways to get rid of your cash. The Edwardian England setting makes for some oddly amusing scenarios, and it’s always fun to try and spend as much as you can before time runs out.

 

4) Sea of clouds

sea-of-clouds-2Arrggghhh me mateys! Hop aboard my sky pirate ship and we’ll go hunting for sky booty!

In Sea of clouds you all play as captains of flying pirate ships, like you do. You have to work together to plunder the swag, but it also means that you have to share. Another card based game, the booty is three face down cards in the middle, you have a look at booty pile number one, and decide if you want it or not, if you do you keep it and replace it with another face down, if you don’t want it simply put it back and put another card on top, and move onto the next Booty pile. If you go through all three and don’t like anything, then you can opt for a mystery card taken from the top of the deck.

Every few rounds you all board each others boats and have a big fight, with the winner claiming loads of doubloons to add to their pile.

This is a great, quick game, perfect for chilling out to. It’s fairly streamlined without too much extra stuff going on, you’re looking at cards and deciding which ones you want. The artwork is also perfect for a chill out, as there’s lots of dreamy, floaty clouds about with a dusky colour pallette.

 

3) Roll For the Galaxy

roll-for-the-galaxyThere are some who might not think of this as a chill out game, the box boasts of a frantic game of dice rolling and worker assignment. In some respects it is. Though I have found it to be fairly smooth riding, and some of the frantic scrambling is often replaced with careful thought and consideration.

You start off with a few dice with funny symbols on them which correspond to different phases, behind your player board you roll your dice using your special coloured dice rolling cup (which are very cute and a lovely little touch) depending on what symbols they land on depends on where you can assign them and what you can do during the round. You can explore new worlds, you can produce a good on a world you’ve already explored, or you can ship a good you’ve produced (the shipping of the goods is where you win victory points).

It’s lovely space theme, cute coloured dice and little rolling cups make this an unintentionally cute game, at least for me. Recommended for anyone with a love of dice or worker assignment games.

 

2) Sherriff of Nottingham

sheriff-of-nottinghamA little more of a party game, Sheriff of Nottingham plays up to five people. It’s a bluffing game at heart as each player is trying to smuggle contraband with their apples, chickens and cheese into the marketplace to sell on the black market for a pretty penny.

Each player takes turns in playing to deplorable Sheriff, who is represented by neat little standee. You put the cards you want to take into the market in a coloured felt pouch and pass them to the sheriff, declaring what you have in your bag as you pass it (obviously not telling him about any contraband you may have hidden inside). The sheriff has to then decide if you are telling the truth, if he suspects you of lying he can open your pouch and confiscate your contraband. However, if you were telling the truth and the Sheriff opens your pouch, he then has to pay you money for the inconvenience! The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the game.

This is a perfect chill out game, as it’s all about the exchange between the traders and the Sheriff it makes for some excellent funny moments, as everyone gets a shot at being the bully Sheriff it can bring out a part of people’s personalities they might not usually show, it’s about people getting together and having a laugh. For me, this is one game I really do not care about winning, in part thanks to the convoluted scoring system at the end, it’s all about having a good time with my friends.

 

1) Ticket To Ride

ticket-to-rideI choo choo choose you Ticket to Ride!

This is one of the biggest selling games ever, it’s considered a modern classic that is soon to join to the ranks of Monopoly and Cluedo as a game that everyone has in their house for posterity. After winning the Spiel De Jahres back in 2004 it’s gone on to sell millions of copies and managing to draw in a whole carriage load of people who might have otherwise shied away from board games. Even my mother bought a copy of her own accord.

It’s simplicity is one of it’s biggest draws for new players as well as making it a great chill out game for more experienced hands . You lay trains down to claim a route and connect cities on a map of North America, most points wins the game. That’s it, the turns can go quite quickly, so it doesn’t take all night to play a game, it’s perfect for gathering people around, having a few drinks and just… Chilling out!

 

There we have it folks. All the ingredients you need for a chilled evening with some friends! Don’t forget the tasty snacks and drinks (alcoholic or not, it’s your choice!)

 

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The Top 5 Darkest Pokémon Fan Theories

Being one of the biggest video game series of all time, Pokémon has built up an understandably huge and rabid fanbase. In the few years between main game releases fans can sometime get a little bored and come up with theories to explain things that you never even knew needed explaining. Granted, a lot of these veer off heavily into fan fiction territory but some of them raise legitimate questions. So grab a bowl of creepy pasta and settle down for the darkest fan theories in the Pokémon world.

 

Disclaimer – There will be many PokéPuns throughout this post, I will provide explanatory links for the uninitiated.

 

5. Gary’s Raticate didn’t make it off the S.S. Anne

gary-raticate

Everyone who’s played Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow will remember this rival battle. The S.S. Anne is a pretty tough area, there’s no way to heal on the ship and just as you think you’re done battling all the passengers Gary Oak shows up to halt your progress. In this battle he uses a Raticate that you’ve fought before a couple of times before but unfortunately this is the last time it’s ever seen in the game.

raticate

Some fans have theorised that Raticate was badly injured in the battle and through the confusion of being stuck on a cruise ship Gary wasn’t able to get him to the Pokémon centre in time. This is given credence by the fact that the next time we face Gary he’s in Lavender Tower which is essentially a multi storey Pokémon mausoleum and Raticate is missing from his party.

 

It’s a fun story to explain where it went but it’s more likely that Gary just boxed his Raticate like many of us did because it’s not a very good Pokémon. Or maybe his Pokémon we changed so he wouldn’t be too difficult to fight when you get there. He certainly doesn’t act sad when you meet him again, he even makes a pun that your Pokémon don’t look dead and goes on to say that he’s at the tower looking for a Cubone. Unless of course he’s using humour to cover his guilt? We may never know.

 

4. Gengar is Clefable’s dark reflection

 

Being a ghost type Pokémon makes Gengar’s very existence a dark idea. Nobody wants to think of poor cute Pokémon dying. People have noted some spooky similarities between Gengar and Clefable which have lead them to the conclusion Gengar may be a shadow version of Clefable come to life.

 

The similarities start with the body shape, their silhouettes are very close and the PokéDex entries log them at very similar heights and weights too. Their main types are also a mirror of each other, Normal type moves can’t hit a ghost type Pokémon and vise versa. According to early development art these two were also some of the first Pokémon ever designed so maybe they were supposed to be linked in some way.

gengar-clefable

The problem with this theory is that it doesn’t explain either of their respective previous evolutions. Cleffa and Clefairy don’t seem to have anything in common with Ghastly and Haunter. Plus none of the in game material makes any reference to them being related in any way. One thing is that Gengar’s name is probably a reference to a doppelgänger which is a spirit that mimics people so maybe there is some truth to this spooky theory.

 

3. Ditto is a failed clone of Mew

dittomew

Being the first super secret Pokémon in the game’s history and supposedly the progenitor of all Pokémon life, Mew has always set imaginative minds racing. Back in the 90s kids would swear blind that you could find him by using Strength on that truck next to the S.S.Anne and you would try it because Mew was so mysterious and there was no internet back then to check. This failed cloning theory however does not seem as Farfetch’d when you look at some of the in game evidence.

 

It is well documented through some journal excerpts you find in the Pokémon Mansion on Cinnabar Island that Mewtwo was cloned from the newly christened Mew after scientists discovered the endless possibilities of its DNA. Throughout these “years of horrific gene splicing and DNA engineering experiments” it’s entirely conceivable that one of these failed attempts could have resulted in a Ditto. That’s not all we have to go on though, Mew and Ditto both have almost identical heights and weights, they are both gender-less and they also share the same colour for their normal and shiny variants. Ditto’s whole gimmick is that their only move is transform which copies the opponent’s appearance and moves. Who’s the only other Pokémon who can learn this? You guessed it, Mew. The last piece of evidence is that from Pokémon Yellow onward you can find Ditto in the Pokémon Mansion which is believed to be the remnants of the Lab where Mewtwo was created.

mewgavebirth

Unfortunately people finally asked the Pokémon creator if this was true at a Q&A and he had no idea what they were talking about… But isn’t that what he’d want us to think? Never give up on the conspiracy! Wake up Mareeple!

 

2. Cubone is an abandoned Kangaskhan cub

cuboneandkangaskhan

Cubone’s story is already one of the darkest and saddest things in the game. Categorised as the lonely Pokémon it is said to wear the the skull of its deceased mother, at night it cries mournfully which causes its skull helmet to rattle hollowly.

 

There are many references in the PokéDex to Cubone’s mother but it has never been formally named as another Pokémon species. This has lead people to theorise that Cubone could be an abandoned Kangaskhan cub. Kangaskhan is a kangaroo-like pokemon that is always pictured with a cub in their pouch. They are said to fiercely protect their young at any cost, perhaps even the ultimate cost in some cases. Perhaps the abandoned cub was forced to use the skull and another bone for protection thus starting off a new evolutionary line which would eventually lead Cubone to evolve into Marowak. Other people think that Marowak was originally supposed to evolve into Kangaskhan but this idea was scrapped late on in the game’s development. Again, the Pokémon creators have never confirmed any of these claims so we’re just left with our imaginations running wild.

 

1. Ash is in a coma throughout the anime series

the_very_best_by_skirt_wulf-d3lije4

Now this is one definitely crosses a line into the fan fiction. It seems to have originated on creepypasta.com which is a site where people share ghost stories. This theory concerns the Pokémon animated series and doesn’t really have anything to do with the games. In the first episode of the show the main character Ash and his Pikachu are attacked by a big flock of Spearow. In this bout Pikachu uses the power of a thunderstorm to to launch a massive attack on the angry birds which results in everyone getting knocked back by a big explosion. Some people think that in this moment Ash is put into a coma by the electric shock and the rest of the anime plays out in his head.

spearows

The theory is that Ash’s subconscious is trying to protect him from possible brain damage which also lets him live out his Pokémon trainer fantasies in piece. After this incident in the first episode the tone of the following episodes do change a bit. The series bad guys Team Rocket are a lot less menacing after this and become more of a comedy mild annoyance as the series goes on. In the now over 900 episodes of the show Ash has never physically aged a day but other characters have. The police officers and medical staff all have the same appearance and name, this is flimsily explained away by them being identical twins in the show.  His traveling partners could also represent aspects of himself. Brock being a surrogate parental figure and Misty, his ideal love interest. It might also explain why Ash always saves the world and meets all the legendary Pokémon yet nobody knows who he is and he never gets any recognition for it.

ashandpikachu

Overall this bit of fanfiction is a bit heavy handed and pretty easy to poke holes in but it would make the Pokémon anime one hell of a dark story if true. If you want to read the full coma story you can get that here.

 

So that is what I think are the darkest Pokémon fan theories on the internet, there are plenty more if any PokéFans out there have the stomach for it but for everyone else here’s the Pokémon theme song to cheer you up!

 

My Top 5 Studio Ghibli Films

Studio Ghibli has enraptured audiences since it’s inception in 1985. It’s produced some of the world’s most beloved characters that would give Mickey Mouse a run for his money. They have created opulent worlds full of magic, splendor and wonder. Most of all they have influenced and inspired almost everyone who watches.

For many they are the ultimate in Japanese anime, capturing Japanese culture and spreading strong messages about the preservation of nature. There are stories about loss and grief, stories about childhood innocence, about growing up. For myself they have been a big influence. I was immediately drawn in, mostly by the sense of magic that always seems to touch every single film, even those that might have more bleak story to tell, as well as the beautiful animations and captivating stories.

Here I’ve tried my hardest to pick just five of my favourite films that Studio Ghibli has produced.

5) Ponyo

ponyoWhat could be described as “Studio Ghibli does The Little Mermaid”. It’s about a little fish girl who falls in love with a boy. Her father tries his hardest to make her stay in the ocean, but the eponymous Ponyo only wants to be re-united with her friend.

That is really a bare bones description of the whimsy and beauty that lies beneath. Though Ponyo is clearly in love with Sosuke this is always portrayed as an innocent, or even platonic friendship. Compare this to the Disney version and it seems like a breath of fresh air. The characters are all adorable and you fall in love with them all. Especially little Ponyo herself, who’s cries for ham, a newfound favourite you can’t help but fall in love with.

This is a great movie that is a little more lighthearted than some other Ghibli movies, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch.

4) Howel’s Moving Castle

howlBased on the novel of the same name by Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle is filled with Ghibli’s signature magic and visual style.

I found this a very interesting watch. I have read the book, and it is very, quintessentially British, even down to a joke throughout the book about Wales. So I was very pleasantly surprised when I finally got round to seeing Howl’s Moving Castle and found it to be thoroughly Japanese. It manages to take all the great things about the book and put them through a Japanese filter, whilst somehow keeping a lingering sense of British whimsy.

A great film to watch as a family as there is something for everyone in here.

3) Spirited Away

spirited-awayNow we get to the one that broke all the records and really started to get Ghibli’s name out into the wider world. It was the first anime to get a mainstream release outside of Japan, it was the highest grossing film in Japan, beating the record set by Titanic. It even garnered the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

Chihiro must find work in the magical bath house to save her parents, who were turned into pigs for their greed when finding a food stall full of food. She has to go see the proprietor, Yubaba and make her way through this new world she finds herself in. Echoing Alice in Wonderland, it’s about a little girl who finds herself in a world full of strange, wonderful things and trying to make sense of the world that makes where anything can happen.

This a true cinematic delight, the story of little Chirio constantly battling on and never giving up no matter how hard the task at hand might be will win you over and have you cheering her every step of the way. The animation is stunning, it’s hard to believe that it was all hand drawn in the tradition style, it’ll knock your socks off.

2) My Neighbour Totoro

my-neighbour-totoroTotoro is one of Japan’s well known and well loved characters. To the Japanese he is like Mickey Mouse every young child knows who he is. He has inspired countless pieces of fan art and merchandise around the globe.

It follows the story of two young girls, Satsuki and Mei as they move into a new home to be closer to their mother who is being cared for in a hospital. Whilst exploring they come across the giant nature spirit, Totoro, who is part giant teddy bear, part spirit, all a bundle of love and joy. It’s a tale of innocence and exploring your surroundings. He even calls his catbus to help in the search when Mei goes missing.

A great film for young kids to help capture their imagination and inspire them to connect with nature

1) Laputa: Castle in the Sky

laputaThe first official Ghibli film (Nausicaa was made just before Ghibli was formed, though it is included in their DVD collections). It was part inspired by the flying island mentioned in Gulliver’s Travels.

It’s an epic tale following the trials of a little girl, Sheeta, who is thrust into a predicament she could never have predicted. She is protected by a magical charm passed down through her family from one generation to the next. A charm that is much sought after by sky pirates and the military. She teams up with a young boy, Pazu and together they must unlock the secrets of the amulet while trying to keep clear of those with bad intentions.

It’s a film about friendship, and finding out who you really are and taking your place in the world. It’s a beautiful film and you’ll love the robots that appear towards the end of the film.

The Frankenstein Theory (2013) Review

I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m the modern Horror genre’s biggest fan but every so often I find myself scrolling through Netflix or NowTV’s selection to see if anything piques my interest. On my latest trip I came across The Frankenstein Theory and at first glance it ticked some of the boxes for me. I mentioned in my review of The Visit that I like the found footage genre but I also like a good monster movie and this touted both in the description. It also said on the poster it showed on NowTV that it was from the creators of The Last Exorcism which is actually one of my favourite horror movies of all time. However since watching it I’ve looked up both these movies and I can’t find any crossover members of the directing, producing, music or writing teams on the Wikipedia pages so I don’t know where that claim came from.

 

This review will contain full spoilers

 

frank-theory

Thinking About Neck Bolts

Our story opens up in the office of Professor Jonathan Venkenheim who has hired a documentary crew lead by our main character Vicky for a secret adventure. The audience and the film crew both get the big reveal at the same time, Venkenheim is in search of a Frankenstein monster! He believes that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was actually a loose retelling of actual events and that his ancestor is the real Dr. Frankenstein. Unfortunately all the evidence of this was burned in a lab fire but he still holds out hope that the monster is still alive. Understandably the crew don’t believe a word of this but he’s paying good money so they go along with it. I really liked the comradery between the film crew, they are the grounded characters that act as the audience surrogate and mostly remark on how stupid and hopeless their situations are.

 

So apparently ol’ Frank is somewhere in the wilds of Canada at the moment so they pack up and set out on the road. Their first stop is with an eye witness they want to interview but it turns out this witness is a little bit of a meth head who holds them up at gunpoint when they mention he may have met Dr. F’s monster. So as you can expect from a horror movie it all goes downhill from here. Next they meet up with their guide Karl who can take them further into the wilderness, he’s your classic salty old hard-ass. They play him off to be a bit creepy at first as he tells them that out there you either listen to his orders or face an icy death. I really enjoyed this character though, his inclusion alleviates some of the tension once the gang gets to know him a bit over some drinks while they’re huddled in a yurt.

karl frank theory

Fright Night

Once nightfall comes is where things start to get a bit more weird. At first they all hear the baying of wolves which is unsettling but then they hear an almighty roar and some thrashing that freaks everyone out and silences the wolves. Come morning they find that their snowmobile is trashed leaving them a stranded. They also find some comically big footprints which Karl decides to follow so he can teach whoever did it a lesson. This starts off that good old horror movie cliche of everyone being picked off one by one. This is where the film lost me, you don’t see nearly enough of the monster and he seems to be able to appear out of nowhere considering he’s so huge. You’d also think he’d be more noticeable seeing as they’re surrounded by untouched white snow so anything approaching should stick out like a big green sore thumb.

The-Frankenstein-Theory-02-1

So even after all of this murdering Prof. Venkenheim still thinks he can reason with Big F using their shared family ties but he seems reluctant to go out there and put this to the test. He is eventually forced to once Frankie has Vicky and him trapped in the yurt. At this point we’re watching through a locked camera pointed at the door. We see him walk out then hear him try to reason with him and at first it seems to be working but then we hear what sounds like Venkenheim getting snapped in half.

 

I'm sad now

 

So it’s not until the very last scene that we get a decent look at the monster and he just looks like the giants from Game of Thrones but a bit more zombie like I guess. He comes into the room, bashes Vicky on the head and carries her off. We get to watch him stroll away into the distance through the open door as the credits roll and that’s it! I felt like this movie ended just as it was getting going. They could have at least let us see what life was like for Francesco and his new lady friend through handheld camera footage or something. It was seriously the most jarring and unsatisfying ending I’ve experienced in a long time. I would have really liked to see more hunting of the monster, he just shows up the first night they set up camp without any mystery at all. The main reason I watched this was because of the (now tenuous) links to The Last Exorcism but this was nowhere near as good so I would just recommend you watch that instead.

 

★★☆☆☆

The Little Prince Review

One morning, whilst still in my pyjamas I plonked myself on the sofa and had a scroll through Netflix. I came across The Little Prince, and thought an early morning cartoon was just what I needed. Having never read the book it’s based on, I had no idea what to expect.

I was expecting a quaint little film about a prince going about his princely duties. What I got was a film about something every person has in common, childhood and growing up.

Straight away you’re drawn in with the beautiful animation and the perfectly gravelled voice of Jeff Bridges talking about how he was forced to abandon childish pursuits and grow up when only a young boy.

life plan.pngThe beginning of the film is about a little girl (Riley Osborne), being really encouraged by her mother (Rachel McAdams) to succeed academically, there is even a life plan for the Little Girl, planning her every second through the weeks, months and years to make sure she achieves, though exactly what she is to achieve is never really clear.

little girlOne day, at the start of the school holidays, the Little Girl is left to carry out her life plan alone, the next door neighbour (Jeff Bridges) starts his plane, causing the propeller to crash into her house, leaving a great big hole. After receiving a letter in the form of a paper plane later that night with the beginning of a story on it, she is compelled to ditch her studies and visit the old man next door. From there they strike up a friendship that’s a little like About a Boy meets Pixar.

planeThrough all the time that the little girl and the old aviator spend together he keeps telling her the story of when he met The Little Prince (Paul Rudd) and his adventures, and this the best thing about The Little Prince. It’s a story within a story. The story of the novella is neatly bookmarked between the sections about the little girl, who is trapped in her mother’s dream for her. It is through her time spent with the Aviator and hearing the story of The Little Prince that she is able to enjoy being a child and learns to play and have fun. She learns that books and learning are not the only ways to learn and grow.

prince and foxThe film separates the two different stories with different animation styles. The sections with the Little Girl are all in Pixar level CGI, with all the world around the two protagonists very square and uniform. The sections with The Little Prince use the most amazing stop motion, though it is obviously very modern it really harks back to those old 70s and 80s animated short films, and filled me with nostalgia. I’m a big animation fan, stop motion being my favourite and this was just beautiful to look at.

The story keeps you fully engrossed, though I felt it lost it’s way a little towards the end. I thought it just needed a little tightening, and it manages to flit between the two different sections throughout with ease and precision. I also found at times that it seemed to try a little too hard to be like a Pixar film, especially with it’s soundtrack contains little quaint jazzy numbers, and when it really wants to tug at your heartstrings. I would say that I prefered The Little Prince, partly or my love of stop motion and partly for the sense of wonder and magic held within them.

airplan

All the performances work well, which is a good job considering the great cast list. Jeff Bridges is probably my favourite as The Old Aviator, he manages to be just the right balance of childishly wise and childishly silly, it’s like sitting listening to your favourite grandpa tell you tall tales.

Overall this is a beautiful film. It really explores the themes of childhood and how important it is to run and play and be silly, that books aren’t everything, with a little bit of loss, moving on and learning to be yourself in a world that wants you to conform to boot. I’m not sure if young children would sit through it, as it can be a little slow going compared to a lot of recent movies, but it is certainly a treat for adults who love animation, and great stories about childhood.

★★★★☆

 

No Man’s Sky – Review PS4

If you’ve tried to follow any of the news about this game over the 3 years since it was announced you’re probably pretty confused as to what this game is. The release of No Man’s Sky has been irreversibly marred by controversy due to one of the creators Shaun Murray being a bit vague about whether or not there is multiplayer. People have been unfairly slamming the game with low user review scores, trying to claim refunds on grounds of false advertising and most disturbingly sending death threats to the development team. I can say up front with 100% certainty that there is no multiplayer at all in No Man’s Sky and honestly I don’t think that would have made people happy anyway.

 

logo

 

So what is this game? At its most basic level NMS is a survival game, you explore an environment looking for resources to repair your ship, power your suit and upgrade your items. There have been plenty of similar games like this (e.g. Minecraft, Don’t Starve, The Long Dark) released on PC but NMS’s gimmick that set’s it apart is its huge universe that you can freely explore.

 

Lost in Space

 

You start the game by taking control of a faceless spaceman/woman/robot who wakes up next to a crashed ship on a random planet. This serves as the game’s tutorial mission, you need to repair your ship so you can leave the planet. The interesting thing about this task is that the planet is random so you can have a pretty different experience to another person. I started out on a horrible lifeless planet with acid rain that was constantly ticking away at my suit’s life support. You have to collect various elements like iron and plutonium by mining rocks and crystals then combine them into the missing ship parts. This can take a couple of hours depending on how lucky you get with resources in the area, it becomes a sort of balancing act though because some of these same resources are also used to recharge your life support. The start of this game is very confusing, it doesn’t really make a good first impression. I think it leaves you to figure out way too much on your own which just frustrated me especially because I had to keep running back to my ship to avoid the acid rain.

 

Once you fix your ship you’re finally free to start exploring SPAAAACE! I got the hell off my planet first second I could, once you get past the atmosphere you should start to see some planets around the current start system you’re in. You can fly to any of these planets which is a video game dream people have had for years. Your overall goal is to journey to the center of the universe but other than that you’re just supposed to explore the endless planets.

 

No Man's Sky_20160808210333

 

Throughout the marketing cycle they have been boasting that the game contains over 18 quintillion planets which is an almost unfathomable number if you’re not an astrophysicist. Most people playing the game will probably only see around 50-100 before they’re done so the game never really feels that big while you’re playing. I am in no way discounting the amazing technological achievement this game is however, the developer Hello Games have done some amazing things here. In the way Minecraft can randomly generate a landmass for you to play on NMS’s universe has been built in a similar way. Hello Games figured out a formula that creates planets all with random weather, animals, plants, alien buildings and oceans which is how such a small team has created something this huge. Once this had all been generated it was locked in place so everyone playing the game right now is in the same starting universe.

 

Fear of a Meme Planet

 

One of the only interactions you can have with other players is naming things you discover. If you’re the first person to discover something whether it be a star system, planet, creature, plant or rock you will have the opportunity to name it yourself. If by chance someone else were to land on your planet they would be see what you had named it. In my hours of playtime I didn’t come across anything other people had discovered, it seems as these kinds of interactions are extremely rare. How disappointing that barely anyone will get to explore the majesty of my planet Harambe IV in the Dark Naruto 420 star system but I guess that will make it a really special moment if you do find some evidence of another player.

 

On paper this really does sound like one of the greatest games of all time but unfortunately it’s just not that much fun. I ended up getting stuck in a rut just doing the same things over and over again. I would enter a star system, land on the nearest planet, look for a inventory upgrade, sell all my extra items then do it all again. There are definitely others things I could have been doing but none of it felt worth it.

 

NMS dog thing

 

They give you a very vague path to follow which I guess you could call a story but unfortunately it all amounts to nothing. After a while I found myself skipping planets which is not something I wanted to do but they don’t give you enough incentive to explore. A lot of the planets have the same buildings and alien ruins on them and there are no quests or missions to found on the planets. If you meet another alien they usually just give you a random item recipe or teach you a bit of their language so you can eventually understand what they’re saying. The aliens have actually been my favourite part of the game. They found a way to make them really charming even though for most of the game you can’t understand what they’re saying to you.

 

NoMansSky_Monolith

 

This game works much better as a passive activity, if you’ve got some music or a podcast to listen to while you play you’ll probably see less of NMS’s downsides. This game was just a bit of a disappointment for me. I didn’t have any ridiculous expectations like some other people on the internet but I did expect it to be more of a rewarding experience. I’ll definitely come back to it from time to time because it can be a beautiful game and it is a pretty amazing technical feat.

 
★★★☆☆

My Top 5 Movies About Moving House

Moving, moving, moving. Everyone around me seems to be moving house at the moment, myself included. So with just a couple of weeks to go before I embark on my 10th move in 10 years (seriously) I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best movies that involve moving home in the hopes of trying to fool myself that my move will go better than some of these!

5) Inside Out

insideoutA beautiful film that follows the personified emotions inside the head of Riley, a twelve year old girl as she makes the tough move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Along the way Riley has to deal with feelings of isolation and fear as she makes her way in a new school, a new house and no moving van with all her home comforts. All whilst also pining for her old life that she loved so much.

Not only is this a movie about how sadness can be an important emotion and is integral to being happy again, but also about the art of mourning the past and being able to move forward.

4) Footloose

foortloost
Don’t tell me this doesn’t turn you on?!

So, you’ve just moved into small town America from The bright lights and wind from Chicago only to discover that these red neck hicks have banned dancing! What do you do? You start a dancing rebellion, of course! Well, that’s what Ren McCormick  did!

With his fancy city dancing and new fangled cassette Walkman Ren (Kevin Bacon), brings down the tyranny of the two left footed and really rather dour Father Shaw (John Lithgow), Moore and all the kids danced in the streets.

It’s a perfect cheesy 80s movie with the soundtrack to go with it. It’s so lovable and ban so silly you can’t help but get caught up in it all and by the end you’re dancing with the best of them!

 

3) BeetleJuice

beetleuiceAdam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are poltergeists stuck in their quaint farmhouse. Despite their best efforts to spook them away, The Deetzes will not move. In their desperation to get rid of this vile couple they employ the services of one Beetleguese, a human exorcist to do the job for them. They end up making friends with Lydia, the daughter whose interest in the ‘Strange and unusual’ allows her to be able to see Adam and Barbera.

Beetlejuice manages to marry up dark comedy and horror in a unique way. One of Tim Burton’s earliest films, it’s full of his visual style and slightly warped sense of humour (anyone who commits suicide is doomed to be a civil servant for their afterlife). It’s a great warning for anyone moving into an old house, you never know, it could be haunted!

2) Coraline

coralineOne of my favourite films, ever. Coraline Jones is a feisty young blue head. She and her parents move into an apartment in a kinda creepy looking flat. Her parents, busy working all the time leave Coraline to explore the grounds and meet the new neighbours. Her adventures bring her to the Other Mother, who tempts Coraline to sew buttons into her eyes by showing her the magical and perfect alternate world she could be inhabiting. 

It’s glorious stop motion animation combines with it’s reluctance to talk down to kids to create a wonderful world that is filled with both beautiful wonder and darkest nightmares all at once.

With a kick ass lead character who can fight for herself and stand up for what is right, this is a great story for young girls. It is also a great story about exploring new places and learning new things, and perhaps that if something appears too be good to to be true, maybe it is.

 

1) Toy Story

toy-story
Woody has the cold, dead eyes of a killer

One of the greatest films ever, revolutionising not just CGI animation but how kids films are perceived by the wider public.

In this classic tale of jealousy and betrayal Woody, the rootinest tootinest sheriff in town, starts to get green eyes when a shiney new Buzz Lightyear appears on the scene taking over as the coolest toy in town. A mishap makes it look like Woody got rid of Buzz on purpose, so he goes on a quest to bring Buzz back into the fold, the clock is set, as they need to make it back before the moving van takes Andy and his family to their new home. Culminating in a tense and very emotional scene as Buzz and Woody try to catch up with the van.

This was the first feature length offering from Pixar, and it was an instant success. It’s revolution in CGI animation intrigued audiences, but they took it into their hearts because of the amazingly well developed and lovable characters and universal themes that we can all identify with, even if they are played out by toys.  

Finger crossed I don’t end up with creepy Other Mothers, ghosts or a fight between the toys!