In Other News #002

Between sweltering record heatwaves, malfunctioning transport networks, trespassing dogs and national flood warnings, this week has been quite unusual to say the least. It’s just typical that by the time the weekend comes around, the “glorious” temperatures that baked us alive on our fragile daily commute are replaced with greying skies and miserable torrential rain. As luck would have it… Ok, enough of that. What else have I have been up to lately?

First of all, I finally dusted off SuperHot (pun not intended) after leaving it on the virtual shelf for quite some time, and eventually beat the main campaign into submission. I’d hit a brick wall on the later levels and put it to one side, but I’m so glad I came back to it. Man, I love this game. The core mechanic of “time only moves when you do” mixed with chaotic replayability reminiscent of Hotline Miami, and the bombastic style of That lobby scene from The Matrix creates an experience worthy of the “One more go” club. The icing on the cake are the dystopic and subversive plot events that unfold as you progress. There’s a lot of fun hidden gems within the game’s menu system too. On completion of the campaign, I seem to have unlocked both an endless mode and challenges. And I thought I was finally free…

It’s therefore little surprise that I’ve also been having an absolute blast with Devolver’s latest release My Friend Pedro. It’s a ridiculous game and for all the right reasons. Bullet time, wall jumps, twin-stick aiming, ranked gameplay with leaderboards, puzzle-solving mechanics, skateboards(?) it’s just a joy to play around with the various ways to chain combos together and maximise your scores through each level. There is also a GIF generator which upon finishing a level chooses one of your coolest looking (and often hilariously stupid) moments from that run, and lets you save it and upload to Twitter.

Meanwhile, I’ve been toying with the android version of RetroArch, a frontend application for a wide range of emulators, game engines and media players. It can be a little fiddly to navigate the menu system but there is an impressively large list of emulator cores (80 +) available to download. Game ROMs are not included, so you will need to obtain these separately. So far, I’ve tested Nintendo DS, NES and GBA emulations, and the useability and response rate is great on my Huawei Mate 20 Pro. I’m really tempted to try out the Commodore VIC20 core next, and revisit my early experiences of gaming with the likes of Rockman and Jetpack!

I stuck it out and finished watching season two of The Shannara Chronicles, only to discover that not only was there a cliffhanger ending but the show was canceled ahead of a third run! I’m rather gutted. This was a little guilty pleasure of mine, and over the last several episodes I found myself getting more engrossed in the story and the characters, overlooking the hammy acting. It’s such a shame. Hopefully, the studio can find a way (and another network) to bring it back.

I also binged my way through Osmosis, an impressive French sci-fi drama on Netflix. In what felt like a Black Mirror episode fleshed out over eight parts, a genius brother & sister develop and unveil a neural implant that promises the user to reveal their soul mate and pair them together. A group of hopeful beta testers are given the implant to trial ahead of its official release, with mixed results and unforeseen side effects. The show brings together a number of interesting characters, from the estranged development team to the troubled key test members, each having their own reasons for wanting to be a willing participant. Aside from an overarching discussion throughout of the “what if” moral issues surrounding involvement of technology in assisting or determining human relationships, love and emotions, there are also some dark twists and turns along the way. Gratuitous at times, and thought-provoking at others, if you’re a fan of Charlie Brooker, futurism and a spot of dystopia, you’ll probably like this too.