Author Archives: Steve Perrin

About Steve Perrin

An old timey gamer and movie fan that enjoys playing and talking about games as well as moives. I have been playing games since the early 80's and still do today and been a fan of films since before I can remember. I hope to create a website that like minded gamers & moviegoers can read, enjoy and relate to.

T-800 V T-800 – Fan Made Film

I love the classic sci-fi/thriller/action/horror film The Terminator. Released in 1984, the flick is still as amazing to watch today as it was 36 years ago. The sequels… I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them. Yes even the mighty and massively popular Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a movie I’m not as keen on as others. It’s a great popcorn action flick… but it’s an awful sequel. Still, there has always been a question about the two films I’ve always wanted answered. Who would win in a straight up fight between the bad T-800 from The Terminator and the good T-800 from T2? Thankfully, that question has been somewhat answered by Mikhail Kramer on his YouTube channel, KRAMER’S MEDIA.

Mikhail has a bit of a penchant for creating fan made movies using Grand Theft Auto V‘s director mode and I love it when fans do things like this. Looking through the films he has made via GTA V is impressive. Mikhail has created short movies and trailers for The Matrix and I Am Legend plus others. He’s even had a go at making a Robocop 4. Using a cocktail of various mods, video/audio from the films he’s influenced by and of course GTA V itself, Mikhail has a few videos on his channel well worth watching. But it’s his latest video, Terminator 1984 Vs Terminator 2 that I want to give mention to here on my blog.

Arnie

There are a few issues with the film. Of course there are restrictions. I mean, Mikhail is directing these short movies with very limited resources. Then he also has his hands tied by the limitations of just what GTA V‘s director mode can actually do, it’s not a dedicated film creation piece of software, it’s just a fun addition to a game. Then there are slight graphical issues that are out of his hands due to how GTA V is programmed. I have a few personal niggles with some of the action in the film too, mainly the fist fights between the two T-800s. They just go on a bit too long and feature some questionable physics… you’ll see what I mean.

But minor niggles aside, this short flick shows some great cinematic moments and direction. The truck/semi chase is a particular highlight, using very film-like camera angles. Coming in at a little over 30 minutes, Mikhail’s Terminator 1984 Vs Terminator 2 is a very well made and observed little film. The fact it was made with a piece of software that’s not a dedicated film editor is even more impressive.

You can watch Mikhail’s video right here…

 

 

Honestly, that’s pretty damn good eh? Full of Easter eggs and references to the first two  flicks. Certainly a lot more entertaining than Terminator: Dark Fate and that shit cost $196 million to make. Also, don’t forget to check out Mikhail Kramer’s YouTube channel for more great GTA V made fan films.

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series 2, Part 1

Well, after a lot of research and re-watching GamesMaster, I have finally managed to complete series 2. Now, series 1 only had 10 episodes, but the episode count was upped to 26 for this series (and others after this)… so as I have a lot more to cover, I’ve decided to split this series into 2 parts.

Series 2

Originally airing on the 1st of October, 1992. This series gets of to a very cheeky start. Kicking off with the same opening titles as series 1 and even the beginning moments of an episode, with the same set as series 1 and Dominick Diamond still as he was in the same costume too… but the footage begins to glitch and a message pops up on screen telling the viewer not to adjust their TV set. The opening continues and the glitches get worse and worse as Dominick introduces the first challenge. Eventually, the footage just completely craps out and breaks down. A picture of a heard of sheep with some calming stock music plays until the system ‘reboots’ and series 2 starts proper.

A wire-frame helicopter flies out to an oil-rig, the setting for this series (filmed at the Sunbury Pumphouse, London and also used for the Red Dwarf episode Justice). More (good for the time) CGI builds GamesMaster once more, ready to dish out his challenges and gaming help. Celebrities this time include Vinnie Jones, Vic Reeves, Take That, Ulrika Jonsson and even Jet from Gladiators, who becomes directly connected to the GamesMaster family later.

Dominick Diamond

Then of course Dominick Diamond is back (so are his endless double entendres) and he’s wearing probably in his most iconic look for the entire show, that sharp red blazer attire that anyone who ever watched GamesMaster growing up will instantly recognise. The cloaked monk from series 1 is gone and replaced with a female scuba diver simply known as The Diver. Also introduced to series 2 was a place just called The Pit and whenever a challenger failed… badly, they would be taken to said Pit as punishment. Plus there was the addition of Auntie Marisha who would occasionally appear and serve food to the contestants and Dominic himself, always ending each episode with one of her freshly cooked specials. Despite a few changes and additions to the show, it’s format remained the same. First challenge,  game reviews and feature, celebrity challenge, followed by the GamesMaster tips. Then finishing with the final challenge. So with that out of the way, let’s get into the first episode of series 2.

Episode 1

Straight into the action with the first challenge on all time classic beat ’em up, Street Fighter II (SNES). Henry Coleman Jr. and Peter Deetz have to punch and kick each other until only one remains standing, in a best of 3 rounds bout. Henry chooses to play as sumo supremo Edmond Honda while Peter favours Hadoken throwing Ken Masters. The first round goes to Henry when he Hundred Hand Slaps Peter to a KO, the second round goes to Peter who lands some hefty hits and finishes Henry off with an uppercut. It’s one round each as the fight resumes and Henry takes a pasting from Peter and it looks like he’s going to lose this one without putting up much of a fight… but after a well timed slap-fest and back breaking bear hug, Henry takes E. Honda to victory and wins the first golden joystick of series 2.

The game reviews are brain game themed (whatever that means?). Platforming puzzler, Krusty’s Fun House (Mega Drive) gets an 87%. Troddlers (Amiga) is given a mediocre 46%. Then a preview (and TV first) of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive). Sticking with the tried and tested GamesMaster formula, it’s celebrity challenge time next. Comedian Tony Slattery has to take on Who Shot Johnny Rock? (Arcade). A laserdisc light-gun shooter set in the 1930’s mob era. Tony has to survive a shoot out in a pool hall and one in a casino, kill the bad guys and avoid shooting civilians, you know the drill if you’ve ever played a light-gun game. So Tony gets off to a fairly bad start (he did state he hates games) and loses 2 of his 3 lives in less than a minute. But he soon gets into it and blasts away mobsters with his roscoe, finishing the first level and making it to the casino… but he shoots one of those annoying civilians who needlessly pop up in the middle of a gunfight in these games, losing his last life and fails the challenge.

Tony Slattery

GamesMaster helps out some less fortunate people with his hints & tips for the first time this series. Super Mario World (SNES), Tennis (Game Boy) and Zool (Amiga) all get covered. Then it’s onto the final challenge of the first episode. Dragon’s Lair 2: Time Warp (Arcade) is GamesMaster’s title of choice and Dougie Johns has to make his way through the first level of the game without losing a life. Having to dodge a giant snake, falling rocks and a very angry mother-in-law, Dougie’s lighting fast reactions serve him well for a while until he misses a cue and gets eaten by said giant snake, failing the challenge and ending the first episode. As Dominick goes off to enjoy the Catfish & Almond Bake that Auntie Marisha has made for him.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 2

No fake title shenanigans this time around as episode 2 gets right into it. The first challenge is on Chuck Rock (Mega Drive). George Denifontos is the challenger who has to finish a whole level, including defeating the end of level Triceratops boss in just 1 minute 45 seconds in this prehistoric platformer. Taking a few hits making his way though the level, some strategic to save time, others not at all intentional, George makes it to the boss with only a little bit of health and time left. With just 1 second on the clock, George takes a hit from the boss which kills him, failing the challenge.

Reviews this week are platformers and include Dragon’s Lair (SNES) which gets 57%. The New Zealand Story (Master System) is awarded 87%. And Hook (SNES) is given 76%. The feature this episode covers music being made using game samples. Then a quick plug for GamesMaster Live follows. This episode’s celebrity challenge sees a return from the last series. Back is the game, Sonic Blast Man (Arcade) from episode 2 of series 1. Back too is that game’s challenger,  Paul Turner who last time beat professionally trained and experienced boxer, Garry Mason. This time, Paul takes on the legendary, the only man to fight Mike Tyson twice, former WBC heavyweight champion, Frank Bruno. Frank demolishes Paul in this test of strength punching challenge to take home the golden joystick.

Of course it’s tips time again as GamesMaster shares his knowledge. Faxanadu (NES), Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Amiga) and Fighting Masters (Mega Drive) are given a little help. Yes, next it’s the last challenge. Mother and son, Mavis and Matthew John-Myner both take on Zool (Amiga). The challenge is that whoever can finish a specially designed GamesMaster level the fastest wins. Mother Mavis goes first and finishes the level with a very respectable time of 54 seconds. But Son Matthew manages an impressive 43 seconds and all with having his left arm in plaster after breaking a bone. Auntie Marisha turns up with her homemade Cockles En Croute with Codswallop Dip as this episode ends.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 3

And so, here we go again. The first challenge is on Super Mario World (SNES) where Catherine Allen has to collect 200 coins on Donut Plains 1 and finish the level in 1 minute 15 seconds. Given the fact there are less than 200 coins on the main level and finding secrets is the only way to win this challenge, this is a tough one. Catherine manages to find a nice cache of hidden coins and nabs herself 201, but still needs to finish the level to win and now with only 20 seconds left. She goes for it, dodging enemies and projectiles to get to the end of the level with just 2 seconds left on the clock, taking home that golden joystick.

SMB Challenge

More reviews and they are all RPGs this time around. First up, Drakkhen (SNES) gets an understandable 46%. Darklands (PC) scores a 84%. Then Legends of Valour (PC) lands itself a nice 87%. Controller reviews follow as the Capcom Street Fighter 2 Joystick (SNES), the U-Force (NES), the Logic3 Free Wheel (Home Computers) and various Cheetah Characteristicks (Home Computers) all get looked at. Then another plug for GamesMaster Live. Yes it’s celebrity challenge time again as Vinnie Jones (when he was known for football not acting) takes on Callum Green at Soccer Brawl (Neo Geo), a futuristic soccer game with OTT power-ups and a smidgen of violence. With Vinnie playing as Korea while Callum favours Japan. Vinnie scores a very early goal thanks to a power-shot and follows that up with another goal via a header. Callum puts up a fight as the first half ends with Vinnie winning 2-0. Despite several decent shots, the second half doesn’t bring any more goals and Vinnie Jones wins the challenge and the golden joystick.

GamesMaster does his thing again and offers hints & tips next. Super Mario World (SNES), Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender (PC) and The Adventures of Rad Gravity (NES) get some much needed assistance. Then there’s something special for the final challenge. Returning from series 1, episode 9 is Sega European games-playing champ, Danny Curley. This starts what becomes a weekly challenge where Danny takes on open requests to play and try to win any Sega game. This first challenge sees Danny take on John Morrison who is plucked from the audience. The game of choice is Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive) and a speed challenge to finish the Spring Yard Zone Act 2 level in the fastest time. John goes first and finishes the level in 49 seconds. But Danny smashes through the level to finish in 40 seconds and wins the golden joystick… or does he? No golden joystick is given out as Dominick explains that Danny is far too good. But there is another reason why Danny didn’t win the golden joystick, I’m saving that for another article in this retrospective. But as previously mentioned, this all kick-starts a weekly challenge where Danny goes up against audience members at Sega games, so more from him later in the series. This episode ends as Dominick Diamond goes off to enjoy Auntie Marisha’s relatively normal sounding Salmon & Broccoli Quiche.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 4

Well this episode gets off to an interesting start as the much mentioned Auntie Marisha is actually seen for the first time. She appears up on one of the balconies handing out her interesting food to audience members. They’ll be more from Auntie Marisha as the series continues too.

Auntie M

But of course, first up it’s challenge time as always. Fire & Ice (Amiga) is GamesMaster’s game of choice here and taking up the challenge is Coolwinder Rye (which I think could be a great porn name). Coolwinder has to finish a level of the game in under 2 minutes, he even brings his own homemade joystick just for the challenge. After only 30 seconds, he loses a life and things begin to look bleak, especially when he soon loses another life leaving him with only one more chance. Then with just 10 seconds left on the clock, he gets taken out by one of the games many enemies and fails.

Beat ’em ups are the games under the spotlight this time around. Street Gangs (AKA  River City Ransom (NES) gets a unbelievable 32%, I mean , it’s one of the most loved and revered games on the NES. Fighting Masters (Mega Drive) scores 65%. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time (SNES) gets a deserved 80%. But still, River City Ransom 32%… seriously? The feature this episode takes an interesting look at the design and programming of System 3’s Putty (Amiga). Yes there’s another plug for GamesMaster Live… I’ll stop mentioning these from now on cos they just keep coming every episode. As is the tradition, it’s celebrity challenge time next. Navy Helicopter Flight Simulator (Amiga) is the game here and Matthew Frary goes up against English rugby union player Rory Underwood. The challenge is to land a helicopter on a carrier and the payers are scored on speed, accuracy and smoothness of the landing. Matthew’s landing scores him a 61% while Rory struggles with a 56% as Matthew Frary takes home the golden joystick.

Super Castlevania IV (SNES), Psycho Fox (Master System) and Prince of Persia (Game Boy) get the GamesMaster tips treatment this time. Then carrying on from the previous episode and Danny Curley is back as he is challenged to a game of Mario Lemieux Hockey (Mega Drive). Taking on Danny is Warren Brasier at a 1 minute 30 second period of ice hockey. It’s a frantic match with Danny scoring and early goal in 15 seconds, but Warren does not give up and manages to put a goal away himself with 22 seconds of the match left. The challenge ends in a 1-1 draw, though Danny does put another away after the time is up, it doesn’t count. This marks the first ever GamesMaster draw and seeing as Danny Curley technically didn’t lose, he still remains undefeated. Sprat Thermador with Rice Pilaf is Auntie Marisha’s meal for this episode.

Hockey challnge

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 5

It’s the brother and sister duo of Michael and Emily Gleeve who take up GamesMaster’s challenge on Pilotwings (SNES). Being given the sky-diving stage, whoever manages the highest score by falling through five rings and then making a landing wins. Emily makes her anti-game feelings clear when she says that girls have more sense than to waste money on gaming… so I guess she’s not a fan then? Turning this into  not just a battle of siblings, but also one of the sexes too. Emily takes up the challenge first and manages to go through all the rings and even makes a decent landing for 70 points, a good score but certainly beatable. Michael goes through the first three rings with ease… but then balls it up when he misses the final two, leaving him well behind on points and now needing a top-notch-landing for a higher score to beat his sister. Michael goes way past the big points for his landing and manages a mediocre 59 points. The anti-gamer Emily Gleeve wins the golden joystick.

This episode’s reviews are all scary, gory games. First up is Splatterhouse Part 2 (Mega Drive) which gets an understandable 57%. The Legacy: Realm of Terror (PC) manages a 87%. Then perhaps one of the scariest games ever made, Barbie Game Girl (Game Boy) is awarded 51%. Feature time and some add-on peripherals for the handheld consoles take the spotlight. The Solar Boy for Game Boy, The Master Gear Converter for Game Gear, The Joyplus Handyboy for Game Boy, The TV Tuner for Game Gear and The Workboy for Game Boy get looked at. This episode’s celebrity challenge involves the biggest boy band at the time, Take That. Dyna Blaster (Amiga) is the game here and the five TT lads have to blow each other up until only one remains standing. Gary Barlow blows himself up early on in the game, Howard Donald gets taken out by Robbie Williams, Mark Owen gets caught in a chain explosion and bows out, leaving just Robbie and Jason Orange… until he (Jason) manages to trap himself between one of his own bombs and one of Robbie’s. Dummy sucking, dungaree wearing prick Robbie Williams manages to win the golden joystick.

Robbie Williams

GamesMaster dishes out more of his hints & tips. Thunder Force III (Mega Drive), The Addams Family (SNES) and James Pond II: Codename RoboCod (Mega Drive) are all given that GamesMaster love. Then finally it’s the weekly Curley Challenge where Sega European champ, Danny Curley goes up against Jeff Gallies on basketball game Arch Rivals (Mega Drive). Danny scores and early 3 points, leaving Jeff to play catch up. More tight rim-shots and slam dunks follow as Jeff manages to beat Danny 20-17, ending Danny Curley’s unbeaten run. As Jeff takes home the golden joystick, Dominick enjoys some of Auntie Marisha’s Red Snapper.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 6

The light-gun game Mole Patrol (SNES) is the first challenge and Adam Freeman has to shoot 17 blue moles in 1 minute while avoiding shooting the pink ones. Adam gets of to a flying start and manages to get 10 moles down in 30 seconds, leaving him just 7 more to do at the halfway mark… but then he shoots a pink mole which speeds things up and he loses momentum. The clock ticks away and Adam fails with just 2 moles left to shoot.

Yes it’s review time again and (supposedly) historical simulations are the theme this time. SimCity (SNES) gets 94%. KGB (PC) is given 84%. Just the two reviews this episode as up next is a GamesMaster competition. Using AMOS (Amiga), the game programming software, the competition is for members of the public to submit game ideas and even go on to have the winning game become a real product available in shops. Then WWF superstar, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan takes on Hayden Croft at WWF Super WrestleMania (SNES). With this celebrity challenge being introduced by ‘The British Bulldog’ Davey Boy Smith instead of GamesMaster himself. With Jim Duggan playing as ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage while Hayden Croft chooses The Undertaker. There are body slams and suplexes a plenty as Hayden manages to win the match via a pin for the 3 count and gets his hands on the golden joystick.

This time it’s Super Mario World (SNES), The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants (NES) and Super Tennis (SNES) that all have their secrets revealed via GamesMaster’s tips. The final challenge offers something a bit different as Auntie Marisha herself takes on bitter rival Lettie Edwards at King of the Monsters 2: The Next Thing (Neo Geo) in a best of 3 smack-down. The gargantuan creatures punch, kick and throw each other into buildings as Auntie Marisha wins the first round. But Lettie isn’t the kind of old-gal to take that and she goes on to win the next 2 rounds after giving Auntie Marisha a pasting, poor Auntie M. So Lettie Edwards wins the golden joystick as Dominick goes off to enjoy some of Auntie Marisha’s Winkles in Whale Sputum Sauce, yummy.

Auntie M challenge

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 7

Straight into the action as Tim Cant tests his gaming skills at Myth: History in the Making (Amiga). Tim is given just 1 minute and 30 seconds to finish a level, including defeating the end of level boss, the Hydra. Tim comes prepared with his own, custom made joystick and even manages to give Dominick the giggles by cracking his own double entendres. Making great progress and even decapitating Medusa along the way, Tim makes this challenge look easy. With 45 seconds left, he comes face to face with the Hydra and that golden joystick is very much in sight. Tim takes out one of the heads from the Hydra leaving only 2 left… but then misses a jump to a platform and falls to his death, failing the challenge.

Reviews this week are sport games. Starting out with Speedball 2 (Master System) which rightfully gets a well deserved 91%. George Foreman’s KO Boxing (NES) is given a 54%. Then World Class Leader Board Golf (Mega Drive) lands an 84%, but no feature this time. Two celebrities for the price of one on this episode as Shadow and Jet from the hit TV show Gladiators go up against each other on American Gladiators (Mega Drive). Playing the assault course level of the game, Jet manages to take a bit of a lead early on but soon falls behind at the first obstacle. Shadow begins to pull away and makes easy work of this challenge. Jet is left way, way behind as Shadow breezes to victory and finishes the challenge, winning that golden joystick, while Jet only just starts the second obstacle of the course. Jet may have lost this challenge, but she’ll be back in both GamesMaster and another show I aim to cover later.

Gladiators

GamesMaster is back dishing put his helpful hints once more. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES), Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Master System) and Fire & Ice (Amiga) are all given some tips. It’s final challenge time and Tristan Grove takes on Jason Pickford at Super Tennis (SNES) in a best of 5 games match. Jason takes the first and second games with relative ease. Then Tristan takes the third and begins a comeback, quickly followed by winning the forth game making a 2 – 2 draw, with only 1 game left to play. Tristan loses the first 2 points and it looks like Jason will be winning this one, but then Jason has 2 outs making it 30 – 30 in this very tight last game. Tristan manages to score another point, making it now 40 – 30 in his favour and now with match point in hand… but he soon fluffs up and Jason scores a point making it deuce. Jason hits another out giving Tristan the advantage and match point once more. Then after a very nice across the court shot, Tristan scores the point making him the victor and winner of the golden joystick in this (quite honestly) pretty exciting game of tennis. Auntie Marisha serves up some Shark Fin Thermador for Dominick.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 8

The Addams Family (SNES) is the first game challenge of this episode. GamesMaster gives Lisa (just Lisa) 2 minutes to collect 50 dollar symbols and finish the level. I’d like to say how Lisa turned in a great effort and ploughed through the level, smashing the challenge… I’d like to say that. Instead, Lisa looses all but one of her energy in only 8 seconds and things begin to look very bleak. She manages to hold on for 18 more seconds and lasts just 26 seconds of her 2 minute time limit before jumping into an enemy and failing the challenge. Lisa is taken away to The Pit for punishment. Very poor indeed and I think, the fastest ever failing of a challenge on GamesMaster so far. But perhaps there was a reason for that…

Gaming version of board games are up for review this time. Scrabble (Home Computers) gets 80%. King’s Table – The Legend of Ragnarok (PC) is given 84%. While Trivial Pursuit (CD-TV) gets 68%. The feature this episode takes a look at the age old (pointless) fight of the console wars. Pitching Sega’s Mega Drive up against Nintendo’s SNES to see which one is best as gaming journalists offer their professional opinions on each machine. Kristian Schmid, some actor from Aussie daytime soap Neighbours, is the celebrity for this episode. GamesMaster gives him the laserdisc, light-gun game Space Pirates (Arcade) and Kristian has to shoot intergalactic bad guys and rescue hostages. Getting off to a great start, Kristian makes his way through the first few sections without missing a bad guy or losing any health, he’s looking like he’ll win this with ease. But he takes too many hits trying to save the hostages at the end and fails.

It’s that time again where GamesMaster throws out morsels of help to those struggling with games. The Immortal (Mega Drive), James Pond II – Codename Robocod (Amiga) and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Amiga) get some assistance. Agony (Amiga) is the final challenge this time. Jack, Angela, & Rashpal are plucked from the audience have to take turns in trying to get through the first level without dying. Going first is Jack who gets a little complacent and dies when he finds himself in a corner of the screen and is hit by an enemy. Next up is Angela who somehow manages to die in the exact same spot, the exact same way as Jack despite the fact she saw what happened before. So finally, it’s up to Rashpal to win a golden joystick. Rashpal does stay alive a little bit longer, he gets past the spot the previous two failed… but he doesn’t last that long and dies soon afterwards. Yeah they all failed the challenge… but all still lasted longer than Lisa did in her challenge. Meaning no golden joysticks at all for the first time ever. So Dominick consoles himself with some of Auntie Marisha’s Gefilte Fish Balls.

Golden joysticks won – 0

Episode 9

This first challenge has a bit of a surprise to it. Playing Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja (SNES) is Wolf Wood. Being tasked by GamesMaster to finish the first level in under 1 minute and 30 seconds. Wolf makes it to the end of the level with 30 seconds to spare, but he than has to defeat the end of level T-Rex. With just 2 seconds left on the clock, Wolf does indeed finish off the pesky prehistoric pest and wins the golden joystick. Now about that surprise, it turns out that Wolf is in fact the boyfriend of Lisa who failed so badly at The Addams Family (SNES) in the previous episode. Wolf winning this challenge not only got him a golden joystick, but he also earned Lisa’s freedom from The Pit… in a not at all scripted challenge. Especially suspicious seeing as the Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja level ends with the hero recusing his girlfriend…

Joe Mac

Anyway, it’s review time again and it’s arcade adventure games this episode. Another World (SNES) is given 76%. Prince of Persia (Master System) earns itself 80%. Flashback (Amiga & Mega Drive) is awarded a very much justified 94%. The episode’s feature looks at the Miracle Piano Teaching System (Various Systems) which teaches you how to play the piano via a blending of gaming and actual piano lessons. Then there’s a phone interview with Paul Reed who claims to have finished the then newly released Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive) on the day of release in the fastest time of 2 hours and 4 minutes while managing to collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds… and on his first attempt too. He then says that he wrapped the game up and gave it to a friend as a Christmas gift. All with no actual evidence… of course you did Paul, of course you did. Then Adam Whisker takes on professional snooker player John Parrott in this episode’s celebrity challenge. Archer MacLean’s Pool (Amiga) is the game of choice here and the man himself, Archer Maclean also provides commentary. Both Adam and John are given 1 minute and 30 seconds to get the highest score by sinking a many balls as they can. Adam goes first and scores 29 points, then it’s John’s turn next and he gets 23 points, he then misses a fairly easy shot that would’ve given him the lead. Adam takes home the golden joystick.

Yes it’s hints & tips time again. Super Mario World (SNES) and Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Mega Drive)… that’s it for this episode, just the 2 games helped via GamesMaster’s big tips. Matthew Sleet then takes on his father, Ian Sleet on beat ’em up  Fatal Fury (Neo Geo). Matthew playing as Joe Higashi beats the crap out of Ian playing as Andy Bogard. Neither one of them really seem to know what they were doing outside of some manic button mashing and they do take a round each in the best of 3 bouts fight, but it is Matthew who takes the golden joystick. Auntie Marisha serves up a very tasty sounding King Prawn & Oyster in Black Bean Sauce.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 10

GamesMaster breaks out the classic Super Mario Kart (SNES) for this episode’s first challenge. Peter Walters playing as a Koopa Troopa has to come first in a race on Mario Circuit 1 of Mushroom Cup 100cc. Not the hardest track in the game, but playing it on a harder, 100cc difficulty setting (though 150cc is the hardest). Peter gets off to a shaky start and goes off track more than once during the first lap. By the start of lap 3, he’s got things under control and is in 2nd but struggles to maintain that place. Starting his 5th and final lap, he’s still in 2nd with just 1st place Luigi to beat. Peter wastes a red shell that would mot definitely got him up to 1st if he hadn’t used it on a star protected Luigi and coming up to the last corner, Peter actually takes the number 1 spot, but only for a moment or so as Luigi manages to win with Peter less than half a second behind. Peter fails by literal milliseconds.

Driving games are under review this episode. Test Drive II: The Duel (SNES) is given 61%. Super Off Road (Game Gear) gets 84%. Jeep Jamboree: Off Road Adventure (Game Boy) scores an 84%. No feature this episode, so its straight to the celebrity challenge. GamesMaster has something a bit special up his sleeve for this one in a simple game of Catch the Flag, you know this. Two people, one on each side of a map and the aim is to grab your opponent’s flag and take it back to your base, gain a point for ever flag captured and the most points win. But what makes this one a bit special is the fact it’s played in a then, cutting edge virtual reality machine. These VR units were not like the more streamlined Oculus VR/PlayStation VR units we have today. Oh no, these things were huge pod things the player had to stand inside, 1992 was a wonderful time. And clambering into these David Cronenberg/Seth Brundle/The Fly type pods are Andy Thomson and Aussie soap star Richard Norton. It’s a very close game with both Andy and Richard being evenly matched… however, they’re not interested in capturing the flag in this game of capture the flag and just end up shooting each other instead, which also scores them points. Anyway, in a very rare and never happened before GamesMaster challenge, both of them score 3 points each when Richard gets the final kill in the last second, leading to a draw. That means that 2 golden joysticks are awarded for one challenge in this GamesMaster first.

More hints & tips are abound as GamesMaster does what he does best. QuackShot Starring Donald Duck (Mega Drive), Super Mario Land (Game Boy) and finally, F-Zero (SNES) have their secrets revealed. Of course we end with the final challenge and this one involves a bit of sibling rivalry as the Goddiano, identical triples of Nino, Angelo and Martino take on Pinball Fantasies (Amiga). Playing the Party Land table on this pinball classic, the aim is simple, whoever has the highest score using only one ball wins. Nino beats his brothers with a score of 338,150 over Angelo’s and Martino’s respective 195,630 and 191,880 points. Nino takes the golden joystick. Sadly, no Auntie Marisha’s delicious food this episode as Dominick has to dash off to host GamesMaster Live… at least all the annoying plugging for the event every episode can stop now.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 11

Back from his hosting duties at GamesMaster Live, Dominic Diamond wastes no time getting things started in this episode. The first challenge is on ABC Sports Presents: The Palm Spring Open (CD-I). Paying the game on one of the worst home consoles ever is Aidan Smith who has to finish the first three holes of the back nine on the Jack Nicklaus Resort course without going over par. Hole 1 is a 450 yard, par 4 with a huge bunker and a large body of water to negotiate, Aidan finishes the hole 1 over par. Hole 2 is a 132 yard, par 3, a smaller hole with fewer hazards and a good chance for Aidan to get back under par on… which he doesn’t and goes 1 over par again. Now 2 over par, Aidan needs a pretty much impossible 2 stoke win on the final 135 yard, par 4 hole. Of course he doesn’t do it, his first shot sends him into the trees and makes the impossibility of sinking the ball in 2 shots even more impossible. Aidan fails. Despite playing a game with lots of balls, holes and strokes, Dominick shows great restraint with the double entendres.

This episode’s games for review are all sports titles. John Madden Football ’93 (Mega Drive) scores 87%. David Crane’s Amazing Tennis (SNES) gets 80%. Sensible Soccer, Version 1.1 (Amiga) is given a very worthy 97%. The feature looks at the endlessly mentioned GamesMaster Live event. Then of course, it’s celebrity challenge time again. British Formula 1 ace, Johnny Herbert plays the awesome Lotus 3: The Ultimate Challenge (Amiga). GamesMaster tasks Johnny into finishing a specially designed GamesMaster track in 1 minute and 30 seconds. Getting off to a pretty bad start and bumping into roadside obstacles and losing valuable time, Johnny struggles in the first half of the race. The second half fares much better and he does make up a lot of lost time, but it’s just not enough as he runs out of time seconds away from the finish-line, no golden joystick here. Respect to Dominick for getting in a very cheeky Ayrton Senna jibe at the expense of Johnny, F1 fans would get it.

Lotus

Less fortunate peeps seek out GamesMaster for some help once more. Bart Simpson’s Escape from Camp Deadly (Game Boy), Asterix (Master System) and Another World (SNES) get some much needed attention. The final challenge starts something a bit special. The first round of the GamesMaster: Magazine Challenge where journalists from some of the most popular gaming magazines go up against each other in a knockout style tournament. This first round sees Paul Laken (Game Zone) take on Duncan McDonald (Zero) at the mighty Street Fighter II (SNES). With Paul playing as Dhalsim, while Duncan goes for Chun-Li. Duncan takes the first round with ease, the second round times-out and Paul wins due to having (very slightly) more health. The third and final round goes to Paul, but he doesn’t win a golden joystick as this is a knockout tournament, but he does get through to the next round. As a side note, I just want to say how, for so-called gaming experts who play games for a living, that was some of the worst, most boring Street Fighter II gameplay I’ve ever seen. No finesse, no using the character’s strengths or special moves, just pure button mashing and hope for the best fighting. Anyway, Auntie Marisha serves up some Fillet of Anchovy.

Golden joysticks won – 0

Episode 12

Kelly Sumnar, the managing director of Commodore UK, starts off this episode with a challenge on Humans (Amiga). Being given the classic 1 minute and 30 seconds to guide 5 cavemen to save a baby dinosaur trapped on a platform in this tricky but amusing puzzle game. Each of the cavemen has a special ability and Kelly will have to utilise all 5 of them to get this one done. Despite being the MD of one of the biggest computer companies in the world at the time, Kelly admits to never playing games before… so this one looks like it’s over before it even begins. But he does do it, Kelly manages to get his cavemen to save the baby dinosaur… even if I’m more than a little suspicious seeing as the clock ran out and was on 0 seconds for over a second, yet he still won?

Anyway, of course it’s review time again. Movie tie-ins are the subject this episode. James Bond 007: The Duel (Mega Drive) is given 73%. RoboCop 3 (SNES) has 61% rewarded to it.
Universal Soldier (Game Boy) lands 80%. The feature this episode looks as some bad games. Road Fighter (NES), Altered Beast (Mega Drive), Space Ace (Amiga), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Amiga) and Goal! (NES) all get mentioned. Then a quick update on the GamesMaster design a game competition using AMOS (Amiga). Todd Carty of Grange Hill and EastEnders fame is this episode’s celebrity and he takes on Jamie Brown at Baseball Stars 2 (Neo Geo). Each player is given a single innings to score as many runs as they can. Jamie steps up to bat first and scores a decent 5 runs. Todd is up next and doesn’t do quite as well, failing to score a single run. Jamie wins 5 – 0 and also gets himself a nice golden joystick to boot.

Super Mario World (SNES), Star Wars (NES) and Dungeon Master (Amiga) are given some relief thanks to GamesMaster. Then the continuation of the GamesMaster: Magazine Challenge errr… continues. Gary Harrod (Mean Machines) takes on Greg Watson (C&VG) at Street Fighter II (SNES). Gary plays as Guile while Greg plumps for the classic Ryu. Gary demolishes Greg in the first round, it’s not even close. The second round it a little closer, but not by much as Greg wins again and gets through to the final of the challenge. As another side note, this fight was much better than the one from the last episode. At least these guys looked like they actually knew how to play. Braised Calamari is what Dominick has to look forward for supper tonight thanks to Auntie Marisha.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 13

Well I’ve made it, I’m halfway though this 26 episode long series 2 and quite nicely, this one is a GamesMaster Christmas special as this episode originally aired on the 24th of December, 1992. I expect lots of Dominick Diamond trademark Christmas themed double entendres here. Keeping with the Yuletide festivities is the first challenge, Santa’s Xmas Caper (Amiga). Paul Tucker is given only 1 life and 1 minute to collect 20 Christmas presents in this platforming game. Despite Paul admitting he doesn’t like platformer games, he makes this challenge look easy and nabs all 20 gifts with 10 seconds on the clock and wins the golden joystick… not even a nice Christmas one tarted up with a bit of tinsel. At least GamesMaster himself made some effort…

GamesMaster

Review time again and given the fact this is a Christmas episode and that the reviews are always themed, can you guess what the theme is this episode? That’s right, helicopter games. Super SWIV (SNES) gets a very nice 87%. Steel Talons (Mega Drive) lands an understandable 57%. Comanche: Maximum Overkill (PC) is awarded a 94%… even Auntie Marisha likes it. The feature takes a look at those cheat code carts, the Datel Pro Action Replay (Amiga & SNES) and the Galoob Game Genie (NES, SNES & Mega Drive). It’s the final celebrity challenge of this first part of series 2 and they only went and landed a genuine legend. Playing Volfied (Amiga), a simple action/puzzle, Qix-like game that requires some quick thinking and reactions. Each challenger is given 1 minute to fill in as much of the screen as they can, whoever fills in the most wins. Oliver Gibson is the mere mortal taking on the quiz show maestro, former James Bond and grandfather of Oliver, Bob Holness. So it’s a grandson v grandfather challenge. Oliver struggles and loses 2 of his lives, but manages to pick up a time stop power-up which freezes all the enemies on screen and scores himself a very reasonable 48.8%. Bob gets off to a much better start, but soon finds himself in trouble and loses all of his lives, only managing a score of 14.7%. Oliver takes home the golden joystick.

Bob Holness

Straight into the hints & tips from GamesMaster once more. Super Soccer (SNES), James Pond 2: Codename: Robocod (Mega Drive) and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) all get a extra helping of Christmas cheer. Then it’s the final of the GamesMaster: Magazine Challenge as Gary Harrod (Mean Machines) has to go up against Paul Laken (Game Zone) at Street Fighter II (SNES) once more. Gary plays as Blanka while Paul Laken chooses Zangief. Given the previous rounds of this tournament and witnessing how badly Paul played compared to how well Gary did… I wonder who will win this one? Gary pummels Paul in round 1, winning with a perfect KO. Round 2 also goes to Gary (no surprise), though it’s quite obvious he was just playing with Paul before deciding to finish him off. Gary Harrod wins the golden joystick. Well that wraps up this Christmas episode… with a severe lack of festive games. Dominick leads the audience in a sing-a-long of O Come, All Ye Faithful before enjoying some of Auntie Marisha’s Sausage wrapped in Bacon. Very festive.

Golden joysticks won – 3


 

And so that’s it, halfway through this 26 episode marathon of series 2 of GamesMaster. Still plenty more to cover as this gargantuan retrospective continues. See you in part 2… when I get around to it.

Total golden joysticks won – 24

“Let’s say ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ to the man with the biggest sack of all, the GamesMaster.”

–  Dominick Diamond

Covid-19 (Or Why I Detest The Human Race)

So I’m breaking protocol a little here. Usually, I use this blog to express my views and share memories of movies and games. But now and then, I do like to offer my view on things going on in the news… and right now there’s no bigger story then the Coronavirus and how people are reacting to it.

Now, Coronavirus is not exactly new. It was first discovered in the 1960s, but the thing about viruses is that they mutate and evolve. This particular strand of Coronavirus, Covid-19 is new and it is killing people. As of writing, there have been 244,364 confirmed cases worldwide with 10,007 deaths. And again, these are only the reported cases, I’m sure there are others that have not yet been confirmed. With a population of around 7,577,130,400 on this planet, one could say that 10,007 deaths isn’t a great deal. Some people are even saying this is just a bit of flu. Which for me, is a massive understatement. Yeah perhaps the flu kills more people worldwide… but there are various forms of flu and it has been around a lot longer than Covid-19. So if you are going to be as idiotic to compare the two, of course the flu will seem worse. But let me ask you this, when was the last time entire countries went into lock-down because of a bit of flu? Multiple countries, mainly in Europe are shutting down to try and prevent the spread of this virus. Others are beginning to put strict restrictions in place as I write this, with the possibility of also going into lock-down too (I expect us to go the same route within the week)… over a bit of flu? Then there are major companies such as Disney, who have shutdown their theme parks and they never shutdown their parks. McDonald’s have closed down their restaurants for inside eating are are only operating on drive-tru and takeaways, other big name establishments are going the same route. Films and TV studios are shutting down production on big, million dollar films and shows. Massive sporting events have been cancelled or postponed… but it’s just a bit of flu right?

It’s pretty clear that Covid-19 is a lot more serious than a bit of flu and I’m genuinely worried at the amount of people not taking this as seriously as it needs to be taken. There really seems to be two trains of thought over this whole thing. It’s not that serious (it is) or it’s the end of the world and time to panic. Now, neither attitude is helping the situation, we need people to be aware, but still remain calm. But the panic is the reason I’m writing this now as it just goes to show how disgusting we are as a human race. Particularly when it comes to shopping.

Look, these are scary and uncertain times, but running around the shops, ransacking the shelves of any and everything is fucking stupid. Those greedy, selfish imbeciles who queue up for hours before shops open, standing in line to grab anything they can. There are people out there that need shopping more than others, the elderly, disabled, etc. And sadly these folk have no chance of getting what they need when you have wankers filling up multiple trolleys with dozens of packs of toilet roll (why?), emptying the shelves of milk, pasta, tinned food. Then what about baby and toddler items, baby wipes, nappies, baby milk and food, etc? I have a 2.5 year old and a 3 month old. Now the 3 month old is easy enough to keep fed with breast feeding (not me, my girlfriend), but how am I supposed to explain to my 2.5 year old daughter that she can’t eat because some selfish pricks are stockpiling food, not giving others a chance? The baby wipes and nappies thing is a concern, but at least we still have hot water to clean them if needed or we could get some reusable nappies if things get desperate… but I can’t do that with the lack of baby food and milk. Yet the selfish out there continue to fill up their baskets and trolleys with as much as they can.

We have a 24 hour supermarket near by and I decided to go out on a late night shopping trip to help avoid the crowds. I was greeted by mostly empty shelves and fridges. Enjoy my slideshow…

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No vegetables, the meat section was completely empty, pet food gone, baby items are like gold dust, etc. I was walking around with no more than 5 items in my trolley and looking at all these ransacked shelves. There was this old woman trying to get some shopping done with a younger female, I guess her daughter. There was nothing for her. As I walked past, I offered up what little I had in my trolley as the scene broke my heart, I just thought if that were my Nan struggling to find food, I’d want someone to help. Yet despite my good nature, the young lady with her (I guess) mother turned down my offer. But what little I had, I was willing to give up just to help this old lady.

I’m currently off work with depression, but that shopping trip was one of the most depressing things I’ve experienced.

I managed to get a few items to hold us over, but this panic buying needs to stop. If everyone just shopped normally, stopped stockpiling, stopped panic buying then there would be more than enough for everyone. There isn’t a shortage of goods, just a shortage of intelligence. Just shop as normal, maybe do two shops a week instead of one if you’re really that concerned. But going out in droves and ransacking the shops is not helping this situation at all.

Now I’m sure some, a very small % of these people are trying to shop not only for themselves but others, elderly relatives and so on. But the majority of them are clearly just being selfish scum. There are even people bulk buying goods to then sell them at a hugely increased price on the internet or in their own shops. That’s fucking low, profiting from such a worldwide problem. I’ve even read stories and seen videos of shop workers being verbally and psychically abused just for doing their jobs, being blamed for the stock shortages. If only there was a pandemic that could wipe out these selfish, uneducated pricks.

But do you know what annoying me even more than any of that? Covid-19 spreads from person to person very easily and the chances of it spreading and even mutating further is multiplied when people are in groups. So let me just get this right, being in groups massively increases the chances of contracting Covid-19 and helping it to spread. So let me ask you this, given we know that being in groups is a bad idea… why are people lining up in large groups at supermarkets, all grabbing things off shelves and increasing the chances of spreading Covid-19? Just stop and think for a second. People are fighting each other for produce in an attempt to fend of Covid-19 and by doing so, they are increasing the chances of spreading Covid-19. They’re fucking idiots.

And to anyone out there ransacking the shop shelves for themselves or to make money by selling items on and to those smaller shops upping their prices (there’s one near me selling hand sanitiser for £7.50 a bottle when it’s worth closer to £2), to all you people. You are fucking low-life scum. You’re taking food from people who need it most, from the elderly, from babies. I’ll survive on a cheese sandwich, but when your taking food and items I need to care for my children… fuck you. I hope this coronavirus hits you hard. I hope the police issue huge fines to those who are price gouging and force you to give your stock away to charities. I hope your business closes down so you are left desperate like how you’re leaving so many others.

Even during World War II, people didn’t behave like this, there was solidarity, there was appreciation for each other, there was respect. And that was with constant air-raids and Nazi invasions. I thought that we as a people, as a species were better than this… clearly not. I’ve seen what humanity can be like the last few days and it’s disgusting.

My elderly mother had to go out this morning and get us in some basics for our babies, because supermarkets are opening earlier for pensioners. There’s something very wrong about that, especially given the fact it’s the elderly who are in high risk of contracting Covid-19. I should be looking after my mother, not the other way around. But sadly, due to the selfish people out there stockpiling and profiting from this virus, needs must.

Stop the panic buying and stockpiling and just shop normally, panic doesn’t help anyone and is just going to increase the spreading of Covid-19. Stay indoors as much as you can, only leave if it’s essential. In order to beat this virus, we need calm and thoughtfulness, consideration for others. We don’t need panic and people fighting over some toilet roll.

The Beginning Of The End For Rockstar Games?

I am, what you may call, an older gamer. I’ve been around a few years and seen my fair share of games and gaming studios over the years.

Back in 1988, I played a rather simple but pretty good arcade style shooter on the Amiga called Menace. Okay, it never blew me away but it was pretty decent none the less. The follow up, Blood Money was, and in my opinion, still is a fine shooter well worth playing today. It was around this time in 1989 when I really began to follow the team behind these 2 games. They were called DMA Design and I fast became a fan. Other top quality games followed like the impressively violent shooter, Walker. The sued by Pixar, Unirally and of course, they were the same team behind the greatest puzzle game ever made… Lemmings.

Lemmings Art

DMA Design were amazing in that late 80s – mid 90s period. But it was certain game they created in 1997 that literally changed the world of gaming forever. Grand Theft Auto. I don’t really need to go into detail over how DMA Design became Rockstar North and kickstarted the whole Rockstar Games empire… I already did that in my book, MICROBRITS, buy a copy now! But needless to say, Rockstar Games became one of the biggest and most popular gaming studios in the world and I’ve been a fan for decades, going right back to that game Menace from 88.

As a fan, as someone who has followed this company and loved their games for so long, it pains me to see what they have become in recent years. The staggering success of Grand Theft Auto V has been both a blessing and a curse for them. From my point of view, I think the cash cow that is GTA V had made the company lazy and complacent. Now before I get all the hate, hear me out. Let’s just look at their gaming output over a 5 year period…

Between 2008 – 2013:

Grand Theft Auto IV
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Midnight Club: Los Angeles
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
L.A. Noire
Max Payne 3
Grand Theft Auto V

I think you’ll agree that’s an impressive list of games and DLCs right there. In fact, I’d like to go on record as saying that the DLCs made for GTA IV and RDR are the finest pieces of DLC I have ever played and was more than happy to have paid for them, and I detest DLC in games. And that list doesn’t include ports and remasters, with the exception of Bully. And yes, they only published L.A. Noire and didn’t develop it, though some work was done by Rockstar given the troubles the developer, Team Bondi were having at the time.

Anyway, the point is that there isn’t a bad game in that list up there. Some arguably better than others sure, but an all outright bad game? Nope. Proof that even with a multi-game production run, Rockstar can do quality and quantity in equal measure. Even before those years, Rockstar continually made/published high quality games and released them frequently too.

Rockstar Titles

Now let’s look at the following 5 years…

Between 2013 – 2018:

Red Dead Redemption II

Okay so to be fair, they also re-released GTA V with a few new bells and whistles for the current generation. But just look at that drop off in production there. No impressive DLCs for GTA V (despite voice actors and Rockstar themselves claiming DLC was coming) and only 1 game?

Just very quickly want to bring up this bit of news that is still on the official Rockstar Games site

Coming in 2014
Expect big things in both Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto V next year including:
GTA Online Heists. We know many of you in the GTA Online community are super excited for the debut of co-operative Heists. Heists are currently in development and we are working very hard to get them as polished and as fun as they can be. Stay tuned for much more detail in the New Year.
GTAV Story Mode Updates. For those ready to jump back into the story of Grand Theft Auto V, we have big plans for substantial additions in 2014 continuing Michael, Franklin and Trevor’s action, mayhem and unexpected adventures in Southern San Andreas.

Something is not right here. Yes I know games get more advanced and take longer to develop and produce, so I guess some kind of drop off is to be expected. But just look at those 2 lists again. That’s not “some drop off”, that’s a complete lack of production.

Then look at Rockstar Games themselves. It’s not 1 studio making games, they have studios all over the world. Rockstar India, Rockstar Leeds, Rockstar Lincoln, Rockstar London, Rockstar New England, Rockstar North, Rockstar San Diego, Rockstar Toronto. That’s the list of current Rockstar game studios working today. That doesn’t include Rockstar International, their main publishing HQ or Rockstar Games HQ itself in New York.

Rockstar Games Logos

Now to be fair some of those studios listed up there are not dedicated development studios. Some work on localisations for the games, some work on ports, etc. But still, they have a lot of studios under the Rockstar Games umbrella. So with all of those resources, all of those talented staff… how do they go from 10+ games and DLCs between 2008 – 2013 to just 1 game and no DLCs between 2013 – 2018?

One such reason for the drop off in game production is the blessing and a curse that is GTA V that I previously touched upon. The fact that GTA V sold a staggering amount, the fact it went on to become the best selling piece of entertainment ever (making 1 billion dollars in it’s first three days alone), the fact that as of December 2019 GTA V has sold 120 million copies worldwide and still sells today… almost 7 years since it’s original release in 2013. The fact it continues to make a hell of a lot of money for Rockstar Games and their parent company Take-Two, both via sales and shark cards for the online portion of the game. Just the fact that 1 game has made so much money means they have rested on their laurels, it means they don’t have to make games to keep the company alive. All they have to do is keep updating GTA: Online with an overly expensive in-game new cars, a new hat every few months and idiots will continue to pay for shark cards and put money into Rockstar and Take-Two’s bank accounts as they have been for the last 7 years. Why would they spend money on expensive game production when they can just release a new update with a handful of new items and let the fans fork-out real world cash for in-game currency to buy said items making millions in profit each year from very little output?

Shark Cards

Then of course, I have to address the whole Leslie Benzies incident. I’ll not go into detail here, you can look it up for yourself, but suffice it to say that Leslie “leaving” Rockstar Games in 2016 has had an impact. For those who do not know, Leslie Benzies (for me) was the rock in Rockstar. He started out as a programmer in 1995 working on the DMA Design game Space Station Silicon Valley. In 1998, he was the one who put together the team that would create Grand Theft Auto III… to then go on to change the world of gaming from that point onward and help transform DMA Design into Rockstar North and then expand into Rockstar Games. Leslie became producer/development director/game designer for pretty much every Rockstar Games hit from that point on. He eventually became executive producer for the company. Then go read about all the troubles in developing Red Dead Redemption and how it was Leslie, as executive producer and lead designer who got the project under control and finished. For me RDR is the best game Rockstar have ever made, even it’s sequel (prequel) could not match it. My main problems with RDR II was that it was over produced and over bloated with a lot of filler… it was missing Leslie Benzies’ touch, his direction.

I don’t care what anyone else says, a Leslie Benzies-less Rockstar Games is a major downturn and has had an impact on their games and the company on the whole.

Leslie and Dan

Which brings me bang up to date with the very soon departure of Dan Houser, who is set to leave Rockstar Games in March this year. Again, just a brief history on who Dan is/was. Along with his brother Sam, Dan Houser co-founded Rockstar Games. Dan has written/co-written pretty much every GTA game from GTA 2 onward as well as penning other games like Smuggler’s Run 2: Hostile Territory, Bully, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Red Dead Redemption and it’s sequel (prequel). Dan has also been executive producer on many Rockstar titles. In short, Dan is/was a major player in Rockstar Games, the company and many of it’s games wouldn’t have existed without him. Even Take-Two’s share price dropped after the announcement that Dan was leaving. So with Dan’s soon approaching exit in a few weeks on top of Leslie’s departure, 2 of the main 3 at Rockstar are no more, leaving Sam Houser as the only original (main) member left… I wonder how long before he leaves too?

Now Take-Two have very recently put out a statement saying that Rockstar Games are stronger and better then ever (one of the founders and main writers is leaving… and things are better than ever? That’s unbelievably arrogant and disrespectful ) and that Sam has no intention of leaving. But let’s be honest, Take-Two are hardly going to put out a statement that Rockstar Games are in trouble and slowly sinking, of course they’re going to put on a brave face even if whatever is going in behind the scenes is seriously hitting the fan.

Shit Fan

And that’s just the big boys at Rockstar who’ve left, what about the lower level staff, the ones in the front line doing all the work? We know several employees left with Leslie and setup a new studioHow many more have left since Leslie’s departure that we don’t know about and how many will leave when Dan finally goes? 

Yeah I know, due to GTA V that Rockstar and Take-Two have made shit-loads of money and they have more than enough to keep afloat, but money isn’t everything. Just how much of a toll, from a creativity point of view, has milking GTA: Online (and now RDR: Online) had on the staff who crave to make new games? There’s got to be a point where staff members have had enough and want to do more than update a game over and over for 7 years, the morale and drive must be low. They must want to do what they want to do… make games, be creative again like they used to be pre-GTA V. Fans have been crying out for new Rockstar games for years now. As good (but flawed) as RDR II was… it’s still only 1 game and as covered, a huge drop off in production from before. If the talented staff at Rockstar Games hadn’t spent all that time and resources at continually making updates, adding new vehicles, clothing and game modes to GTA: Online, could they instead have made amazing DLCs like before and even new games like Bully II, GTA VI and even new IPs already?

Bully II

Rockstar Games are slowly dying, maybe not profit making wise, but creativity wise, most definitely so. The downturn of the company can be traced back to the success of GTA V and the absence of Leslie Benzies. Dan leaving soon is a far bigger blow than Take-Two are willing to admit (publicly anyway). Staff must be getting bored of not making games and readying themselves to leave if they haven’t already. We’ve seen this many, many times in the past too. A small game studio makes it big to the point where they become over inflated and burst. It’s happened a lot in the past and it will happen again.

I honestly think that Rockstar Games is slowly rotting away from the inside out. I truly believe this is the beginning of the end for the company. I’m not saying you’ll wake up tomorrow with the news that Take-Two have closed Rockstar down, this will be a gradual process as the company slowly dissolves away. Everyone waiting for GTA VI or Bully II had better not hold their breath.

RDR Grave

 

 

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series 1

So here we are, at the start of the very, very long retrospective looking back at the greatest gaming TV show ever, GamesMaster. Just before I get into this, you’ll have to excuse the rather average/grainy quality images throughout this whole retrospective. GamesMaster has never been given a home release or a clean up, so I’m having to use old VHS recordings and almost 30 year old footage to get these pics. It’s the best I can do.

Series 1

Originally aired on the 7th of January, 1992, kicking off with a (for the time) very nice CGI opening title of, who I assume, is the GamesMaster himself sitting on a throne. Series 1 was set and filmed in an abandoned church (St Paul’s Church, Dock Street, London). Presented by the foppish and very cheeky Dominik Diamond who wastes no time in tossing off and slipping in as many double entendre and sly sexual references as he can.

Series 1 Dominik

Series 1 consisted of 10 episodes and featured celebrities such as Jimmy White, Annabel Croft, Barry McGuigan, Eric Bristow and others, all trying their gaming skills at some of the newest games on the market.

A mysterious and cloaked monk would bring the golden joysticks to the winners of the challenges in this series and was played by gaming media pioneer Dave Perry, who would become an integral part of GamesMaster and part of one of the show’s most infamous moments… but I’m getting ahead of myself here. First up, every episode from series 1.

Episode 1

Kicking off with the first challenge is Daniel from Edgware, who has to finish the first level of Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) and collect 50 coins all in just 2 minutes. Despite Daniel messing up and initially missing a pipe housing some hidden coins, he does manage to complete the challenge with 14 seconds to spare, winning the very first GamesMaster golden joystick.

Games reviewed are movie themed, The Terminator (Mega Drive) which scores a 87%. The Addams Family (NES) gets a 63%. And finally, the greatest point n’ click adventure game ever made, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis which receives a very worthy 93%. Then next up is a feature on customising the Nintendo Game Boy. Moving onto the first celebrity challenge. A game of footie on Manchester United Europe (Amiga) where Simon from Bishop’s Stortford takes on then Wimbledon F.C. and England striker, John Fashanu. Simon playing as Liverpool beats John playing as Manchester 2-0 to take home that golden joystick.

Then it’s the turn of the GamesMaster to deliver his hints & tips on Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive), Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (Amiga) and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES) with that infamous and annoying whirlwind thing. Episode 1 ends with the final challenge, a shootout on Mad Dog McCree (Arcade), the first ever live action laserdisc game. Tony from North Wales is the man who has to shoot the varmints in this Wild West light-gun game. Tony finishes the challenge with ease to win the golden joystick and ends the first ever episode of GamesMaster.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 2

First up is a challenge on Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive). Being given 2 minutes to collect 150 rings and finish the first level, Alex from Stanmore, decides to show his cocky side. Thinking that 150 rings is too easy, he asks for the challenge to be upped to 160 rings. Seeing as the level only has 163 rings in total, collecting 160 in 2 minutes is no mean feat. Of course he does it because this is Alex Verrey here, who would soon become known to many British gamers as ‘Big Boy Barry’ (more on that later).

Big Boy Barry

Reviews this time are all beat em’ ups. Starting with The First Samurai (Amiga) which gets a very respectable 90%. Pit-Fighter (Amiga) doesn’t do so well getting a 59%, which I think is about 59% too much. Then Double Dragon II (Game Boy) receives 70%. The feature this time looks at gaming peripherals such as the Power Glove, Quickjoy Footpedal and the Sega Action Chair… all utter pants. The celebrity challenge is next and Paul goes up against former British heavyweight boxing champ, Garry Mason at Sonic Blast Man (Arcade). A game where all you have to do is punch a pad as hard as you can to score the hardest hits. Of course the professionally trained and experienced boxer loses (how/why? I don’t know) and Paul wins his golden joystick.

GamesMaster shares his help on games such as Strider (Mega Drive), Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) and Robocop (NES). Then onto a challenge on one of my all time favourite games, Lemmings (Amiga). Given 2 minutes to save 91% of his lemmings, Robert from Leicester is the guy for the job… oh, he also has to do this on one of the hardest levels in the game and he was only told this 5 minutes before filming began too. After a slightly mistimed exploding lemming, Robert loses a few rodents and only manages to save 87%, Robert is the first non-celeb to fail a GamesMaster challenge.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 3

The first challenge of this episode is on Mega Man 2 (NES), an already tricky game made even harder here, Nick from Muswell Hill has to finish one of the most difficult levels in the game without losing a life and in under 3 minutes, including defeating the end of level boss. But Nick misjudges a tricky jump midway through and plunges to his death, failing the challenge.

Racing games get the review treatment this time around. Starting with Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 (Amiga) which gets a stupidly low 68%. Formula One Grand Prix (Amiga) receives a very deserving 89%. Then OutRun Europa (Master System) is handed a 52%. A sneak peek at a then up and coming movie tie-in game, Dune (PC & Amiga) is next and is highly praised too. The formula continues as next up is the celebrity challenge. Sahid from Mile End takes on former British ladies number 1 Annabel Croft at tennis. Pro Tennis Tour 2 (Amiga) is the game of choice, which Annabel wins, making her the first celeb winner of a GamesMaster golden joystick. But who wouldn’t enjoy getting beaten off by Annabel Croft?

Annabel Croft

More hints & tips follow with Alex Kidd (Master System), Cadaver (Amiga) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) all made a little bit easier. Zoom! (Mega Drive) is the final challenge and to mix things up a bit, three members of the audience are selected to play and finish the first level in 1 minute. Scott, George and Dorla (I think, the sound wasn’t very good) are randomly chosen from the audience… all three of them fail, bringing the end of episode 3.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 4

Classic beat/bike em’ up, Road Rash (Mega Drive) is the first challenge of this episode. Richard from Dartford is tasked to complete and win a race on the Redwood Forest stage on the game, punching, kicking and riding his way to victory. After smashing into a car at a crossroads, Richard falls behind and only manages to finish second, failing the challenge… might have had something to do with the stupid way he held the controller too.

Reviews this episode are fantasy games. First up is the gorgeous Psygnosis classic, Shadow of the Beast (Mega Drive) which gets an understandable 59%. Then Populous II (Amiga) is given a much more worthy 94% because it’s one of the greatest game sequels ever made. Finally, Kings Quest V (PC) is handed a 62%. The feature looks at SEGA’s marketing ideas for the Mega Drive. Then onto the celebrity challenge. World Champion darts legend, Eric Bristow is given the game Heimdall (Amiga) where he has to throw axes at a tied in place maiden to cut her hair and free her from her captives in 2 minutes… he fails. Also worth noting that this challenge is the first ‘proper’ appearance of Dave Perry as co-commentator not hidden by the monk outfit… and so it begins…

GamesMaster once more shares his wisdom in the form of hints & tips. Folks having trouble with Duck Tales (NES), Altered Beast (Mega Drive) and Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) all get a helping hand. Then to the final challenge of the episode. Panza Kick Boxing (Amiga) is the game of choice here and siblings, Jason and Lisa have to fight it out. Despite Lisa being knocked down early in round 1, she manages to knock her brother out in round 2 to win the challenge.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 5

Straight into the action with the first challenge. Duck Tails (NES) is GamesMaster’s game of choice here and it’s Scott from Manchester who has to make his way though and finish the icy Himalayas level in 2.5 minutes. Scott claims to be very confident he’ll beat the challenge with ease… and he does, finishing the level with 39 seconds to spare.

Duck Tails Challenge

Review time once more, this time the games are linked by the word “funk”. ToeJam & Earl (Mega Drive) manages a 70%. Top Banana (Amiga) is given 65%, while Bart Simpson’s Escape from Camp Deadly (Game Boy) gets 89%. Up next is a preview of the then latest Bitmap Brothers game, The Chaos Engine (Amiga). Which shows an early 3-player version, the final release was only 2-player. Then a quick intro to the GamesMaster Golden Goal competition on Kick Off 2 (Amiga), before the obligatory celebrity challenge. Legendary game designer Archer MacLean has to tackle his very own game with Jimmy White’s ‘Whirlwind’ Snooker (Amiga). Archer goes up against Christian from Nottingham while the man himself, Jimmy White offers commentary with Dominick. Each player is given just 90 seconds score as many points as they can only using the coloured balls. Christian scores 31 points but Archer manages 37 points and wins the golden joystick. Then Jimmy White has to pull off a trick-shot designed by Archer MacLean on the game, just for fun, no golden joystick reward here.

It’s tip time again as people seek help from the main man. Spider-Man (Mega Drive), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) and Shadow of the Beast II (Amiga) all get covered. Then onto the final challenge. Neighbours (Amiga) based on the popular Aussie soap is the game of choice and the aim is to race around Ramsay Street against other residents and win. Taking on the challenge is another celeb (I guess?), Ashley Paske who was on the show itself. The game is terrible, but even so, Ashley is extremely bad at it and fails spectacularly.

And with that, we’re halfway through the first series.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 6

After perhaps the most double entendre fuelled intro by Dominick, up to this point anyway, the first challenge tees off. Top Player’s Golf (Neo Geo) is the game of choice as Mark from Ross-on-Wye (with a handicap of 4) takes up this challenge and has to finish the first 3 holes of the course in level par or below. After a couple of rough shots and landing in the bunker, Mark fails the challenge.

Reviews next and futuristic games are the theme this time around. First up is Alien Breed (Amiga) which scores an understandable 70%. Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (Mega Drive) earns a very reasonable 85%. Then Wing Commander II (PC) nabs an underwhelming 59%. The feature this time around looks at the overtly expensive Neo Geo console. Yes, it’s the celebrity challenge next as Capital Radio DJs Pat Sharp and Mick Brown take on Ski or Die (Amiga) and have to battle for the best score on the aerial skiing section and pull of impressive tricks. Mick scores a total of 54.5 for his aerial antics, while Pat after some very shoddy jumps, only manages 40.6. Making Mick the winner of the golden joystick.

Time once more for the GamesMaster tips. Gamers having trouble with The Legend of Zelda (NES), Forgotten Worlds (Mega Drive) and Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll (NES) are all given a helping hand. Then, of course, it’s the final challenge of this episode. Isometric puzzler Brat (Amiga) is the game of choice this time. Michael is the man who thinks he can guide the leather jacket wearing toddler to the end of the level. Getting off to a flying start and looking very much like a winner, he manages to make it near to the end of the level, but a slightly misplaced bit of direction causes him to fail.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 7

It’s a James Pond 2: Codename: Robocod (Amiga) challenge that kicks off this episode. Having to finish the first level in less than 1 minute and amass 50,000 points along the way too are 3 members of the audience. Mark, Julie and Claire all take turns in tackling this challenge. After falling on some spikes… several times, Claire dies and fails early doors. Next up is Mark who doesn’t fair much better, again, falling on spikes… several times before being killed by a snake. Finally, it’s Julie’s turn who also manages to fall on some spikes… several times, yet she does last a little longer than the others before death via snake occurs. No winners on this one.

Time for a few reviews and this time, adventure games are up for scoring. The Immortal (NES) nabs 80%. Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (PC) earns itself a very deserving 94%. With Heroes of the Lance (Master System) getting 65%. Then it’s time for a preview of Alien 3 (Mega Drive), based on the movie of the same name. Finishing with a feature looking at gaming music soundtracks in a Top of the Pops style countdown… Xenon 2 Megablast (Amiga) is number 1. Celebrity challenge time next and British wrestler, Kendo Nagasaki (real name: Peter Thornley) takes on David from Hertfordshire at WWF WrestleMania Challenge (NES) with the first person to win via a pinfall. David completely destroys Kendo to win the golden joystick.

GamesMaster Moore 2

Hints & tips next as GamesMaster offers his help for The Legend of Zelda (NES), Strider (Mega Drive) and Mega Man (NES). But before I move on, does anyone know why a wire-frame butt-plug always used to float near the GamesMaster’s head during his segments? This episode’s final challenge is on Thunder Force III (Mega Drive) as Jeremy has to finish the underwater level of Seiren on the game’s hardest difficulty setting. Due to a typhoon of bullets, Jeremy fails the challenge spectacularly.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 8

Strider (Mega Drive) is the game for the first challenge and Chevron from Harrow has to make his way through the first level and finish off the boss in 3 minutes. Some very confident playing, a few minor niggles aside and Chevron destroys this challenge with 45 seconds to spare.

Flight sims are put up for review this time. Birds of Prey (Amiga) lands itself 80%. F-22 Interceptor (Mega Drive) gets 72%. While Knights of the Sky (Amiga) receives a 80%. A preview of ATAC: The Secret War Against Drugs (PC), a flight sim come anti-drug themed shooter is shown. Then onto the celebrity challenge. 1987 Wimbledon champ, Pat Cash takes on his wife, Emily at Baseball Stars Professional (Neo Geo). Simple enough rules, 1 innings each and whoever gets the most runs wins. Pat manages a respectable 5 runs, while Emily a grand total of 0. Pat Cash wins the golden joystick with ease.

The GamesMaster helps out more of the less fortunate with his hints. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES), Alex Kid (Master System) and Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters (Amiga) all shown a little love. Then of course, the inevitable final challenge. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Amiga) is the game of choice and it’s that annoying sliding puzzle thing from this very poor game that makes for this challenge. This is another audience challenge as Dominick selects someone from the crowd to tackle this one. Martin from Stanwell is the man for the job… maybe? No, he fails and only manages to complete 25% of the puzzle before the timer runs out.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 9

Challenge number one from this penultimate show comes from Zany Golf (Amiga). Father and son, Nigel and Adam have to complete as many holes on this crazy golf game as they can without running out of shots. The person who finishes the most holes wins. The opening windmill hole causes a few problems for Nigel, but they both manage to sink their balls with shots to spare. The second hole is an issue for Adam who runs out of shots, while his father manages to putt his way to victory and win the golden joystick. However, a rather funny ‘judge’s decision’ rules that Nigel is too old to be playing games, so the golden joystick is given to son Adam instead.

This review round-up looks at sports games. John Madden Football ’92 (Mega Drive) scores 95%. NBA All-Star Challenge (Game Boy) gets 69%. With Graham Gooch World Class Cricket (Amiga) manages a 60%. The winner of the previously mentioned GamesMaster Golden Goal competition on Kick Off 2 (Amiga) is announced… it was Robert Moss from Hertfordshire if you were wondering. This episode’s celebrity challenge involves former British featherweight boxing champ, Barry McGuigan who goes up against Gary from Aldershot. They fight it out on Final Blow (Amiga) with the winner being the last man standing after being punched a few dozen times… you know, boxing. In the first round, Barry comes out fists flying and manages to knock down Garry with 30 seconds of the round left. Recovering from his beating, Gary comes back strong and puts Barry on the canvas with 15 seconds left and again in the final second of the first round. Being saved by the bell, the fight goes onto the second round. A flurry of punches and an uppercut from Gary puts Barry McGuigan down only 13 seconds into the second round and out for the count. Making Gary the winner of the golden joystick.

Barry McGuigan

It’s tip time again as GamesMaster hands out his help. Metal Gear (NES), Mega Man 2 (NES) and The Revenge of Shinobi (Mega Drive) are all looked at. Final challenge time and it’s Sega European games-playing champ, Danny Curley who takes on this one. To make things a bit harder for the champ, he has to play a brand new game he’s never seen before. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (Mega Drive) is the game and Danny has to finish the second and third levels, rescue all 11 the hostages, kill the boss, not lose a life… and all in 2.5 minutes. Danny completely demolishes this challenge with 1:09 still on the clock. Well he was Sega European games-playing champ.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 10

So here we are, the final episode of series 1 of GamesMaster. Kicking off, as always with the first challenge. Classic light-gun game Duck Hunt (NES) is the game of choice and having to shoot his way to victory is a name a lot of older British gaming/YouTube fans should recognise… a young Paul Gannon (though it sounds like Dominick introduces him as Paul Gammon). Getting off to a very strong start Paul scores an impressive 9 out of 10 on the first level, needing another 9 out of 10 on the second to win the prize. Early on, he misses a target, meaning he can not afford to miss any more… Paul misses the very last one and fails the challenge. No golden joystick here.

And just to try and embarrass Paul a bit, here he is on GamesMaster not winning a golden joystick and I have no idea why he’s wearing his watch near his elbow…

Paul Gannon

As is the norm, it’s review time and adult games are looked at. Deluxe Strip Poker 2 (Amiga) is dealt 60%. Geisha (Amiga) is given 41%. And finally, Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work (Amiga) gets an unbelievable 89%. The feature this time around takes a look at the then soon to be released, latest 16-bit console the Super Nintendo Entertainment System… I could’ve just written SNES there couldn’t I? If you’ve been following the format so far, then you know it’s celebrity challenge time. GamesMaster has chosen Emlyn Hughes International Soccer (Amiga) for a game of footie. Playing is Suni from Ealing going up against the man himself, former Liverpool FC and England captain Emlyn Hughes. With Suni playing as Brazil while Emlyn favours England. Suni makes short work of this challenge and completely decimates Emlyn 5-0 to win the golden joystick.

The last batch of hints & tips for this series as people struggling with The Legend of Zelda (NES), Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (Mega Drive) and The Adventures of Rad Gravity (NES) are all helped. Then onto the final challenge of the final episode with Decap Attack (Mega Drive). Having to finish the first 2 levels of the game in under 2 minutes is John from Hastings. Managing to fly through the first level with ease, it’s onto the second level with 1:07 still on the clock to finish this challenge. John messes up on a jump and takes a hit from an enemy, leaving him short on time and vulnerable as he can only take one more hit before dying and failing the challenge. But he finishes the second level with 12 seconds left to win the final golden joystick of this series.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Overall

As welcome as the first series of GamesMaster was, compared to latter series, this was a little uneven and not quite there yet. Dominik Diamond’s cheeky persona is here, but doesn’t really come alive until later series. The lighting is very drab and dank with a few lasers shooting around and smoke machines making the set look like a really bad early 90s rave venue. I never really liked the original set. The show evolves (for the most part) later on and as the budget increases, so does the quality. The first series is a little ropy and rough around the edges, but for the first dedicated gaming TV show, GamesMaster did well indeed.

And with that out of the way, it’s time to don the smoking jacket and enjoy a nice hot cup of jasmine tea.

Series 1 End

Total golden joysticks won this series – 18

Much more to come in series 2… when I get round to it.

“You may be wondering why I’m playing with my organ in a crowded church? Well, this is GamesMaster, television’s only video game magazine show. Coming to you from the only church in the country where Harry Secombe is too fat to fit through the door. But nevertheless, we’ve managed to squeeze and ample portion into tonight’s slot.”

– Dominick Diamond

 

 

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Introduction

When it comes to worthy and quality gaming TV shows, there aren’t that many worth remembering. They usually lacked substance or even a basic understanding of the gaming world. Here in the UK, we had a few gaming shows through the 90s and most of them were complete pants. But one stood out in the rather small crowd. A show that had humour (often both very adult, near the knuckle and childish), gaming news & reviews, challenges, celebrity guests, hints & cheats and above all… it had respect for games and the gaming community.

GamesMaster ran for 7 series (seasons for my American readers) between 1992 – 1998. With a total of 126 episodes. It was massively popular among British gamers such as myself and the millions of viewers who tuned in week after week to watch, what was, at the time, the UK’s first and only dedicated gaming TV show.

At first, I thought about doing a short-ish article just looking at how GamesMaster began, grew and ultimately ended. But after reading what I had written, it felt unworthy and disrespectful to what was, quite easily the greatest gaming TV show ever made. So I decided to do something more in-depth. A proper intro (this that you’re reading right now), a look at every series, every single episode and right up to the end of GamesMaster and it’s influence and impact.

There a hell of a lot to cover here and this is just the beginning. So here we go. My in-depth retrospective look at GamesMaster, from it’s origins to it’s end including every episode and as many interesting tit-bits I can find and cram in along the way.

Just a quick aside. When I do these large retrospectives, I usually pre-write the whole thing in advance and publish each part one after the other. Due to a lack of time, other writing projects and more than several other distractions. I’m writing and publishing this gargantuan retrospective as and when each part is done. As I aim to cover every series and every episode (and a few bonuses along the way), so this will take a while. So please do bear with me as there will be gaps of days, even weeks as I write this epic, multi-part retrospective.

So with that out of the way, onto GamesMaster… all of it.

Origins And Format

GamesMaster was the brainchild of Jane Hewland, who founded TV production company Hewland International. While watching her young son playing video games, she began to wonder why this increasingly popular form of entertainment is not represented much on TV. Jane put together a pitch for a new TV show that would not just cover new games, but also work in an element of competition via gaming challenges. Channel 4 caught wind of the pitch and offered to push ahead with the production and so GamesMaster was born.

Interestingly enough, because the show had a competitive angle, it fell under the jurisdiction of the sports department of programmes. So I guess GamesMaster could be considered the first foray into what we now call e-sports.

The format of GamesMaster took ideas from popular gaming magazines of the day. It would feature news and reviews, but the main thrust of the show would be the challenges where members of the public (and sometimes celebrities) would go up against the latest games and compete to win the coveted golden joystick trophy, which was just a cheap computer joystick spray painted gold.

GamesMaster Golden Joystick

The show would have a main presenter who introduced the games, challenges and spoke with the contestants and often joined by a co-commentator, who would be an industry insider or gaming journalist, comically talking about the games being played. Then there was the titular GamesMaster himself. Played by the legendary Sir Patrick Moore, who would introduce the game challenges as well as offer his endless wisdom as the GamesMaster to provide hints, tips and cheats for the latest titles.

GamesMaster Moore

Each series had a theme/location and even a continuity linked story for the presenter as the series “story” evolved… more of which I’ll cover with each series write-up.

GamesMaster’s format was structured but also felt very fresh and exciting too, with a little anarchy thrown in. This was the first time games and the gaming world had a dedicated TV show. Aimed at older children/teens, but with some more than risqué adult humour. GamesMaster aired at 6:30 pm, before the watershed, how they got away with some of the sexual innuendos, references and jokes was hilarious and it was that blending of gaming and near the knuckle humour that made the show such a hit.

First airing in 1992, during the 16-bit generation of gaming with the Mega Drive and SNES and being the first dedicated gaming TV show had developers and publishers eager to show off their latest games. The GamesMaster production team built up a very friendly and close relationship with many gaming studios at the time which was beneficial to all involved. GamesMaster got their millions of viewers watching for the latest games and the developers/publishers got their games in front of the millions of avid viewing gamers with parent’s money to spend on their software. Due to this close working partnership with developers and publishers, on occasion, GamesMaster could show off titles well in advance of their release date and often getting the edge over popular gaming magazines at the time.

During it’s run, GamesMaster was THE TV show to watch at a time before the internet took off proper and gaming culture was everywhere.

GamesMaster Title 2

So with the intro out of the way, I’ll kick things off with a look at the very first series and every episode of GamesMaster.

 

 

Have You Stayed With Atari Today?

I tend not to cover news on this blog, I usually stick with opinion pieces, histories and sharing memories, etc. But a slice of news has surfaced today that made me chuckle a little that I felt I had to quickly cover.

When it comes to big names in gaming, Atari were one of the biggest. The grandfather of gaming to most people and the company the defined home gaming with their brand of consoles, going back to 1977’s iconic Atari 2600. I think it would be fair to say that Atari as a company have had a very chequered past. I mean, they were central in the infamous video game crash of 1983.

The company has died, been reborn and swapped hands so many times over the years that I’m really not sure who own the name anymore. A new console, the Atari VCS is said to be released this year, but that’s not what I want to cover here. I’m going to look at the Atari hotels… yes Atari hotels.

Atari Logo 2

It’s very recently been announced that Atari (whoever owns the name now) has teamed up with real estate developer True North Studio and GSD group to build eight Atari hotels around the U.S. The first is set to begin building in mid-2020 in Phoenix, Arizona… which given Atari’s rather ‘interesting’ connection to that particular place is kind of ironically amusing (see the previously mentioned video game crash of 1983).

The hotels will obviously be gaming related. They will be used to house the ever increasing in popularity e-sport events. Guests can expect VR experiences, interactions and games. Gaming related rooms utilising famed Atari IPs. All along with standard hotel facilities such as restaurants, bars, gyms and all the other stuff a hotel usually offers.

More sites for hotels are planned outside of the Phoenix one with Austin, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle all set to have their own Atari hotels built over the next few years.

Honestly, I love the sound of them, I’d love to stay in an Atari hotel and revisit my childhood as well as experience (what I hope will be) cutting edge gaming interactions and experiences. But there is serious doubt over of they will ever happen. I mean, there have been numerous stories of troubles in getting the new console made and ready for release. So if that’s been a bit of trouble, how will multiple, cutting edge gaming hotels work out?

I just hope they do happen and that they will have guest capacities of 2600, 2700, 5200 and 7800.

You can check out the official website right here. Plus here’s a few renders of what the hotels could look like…