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.

Saints Row Retrospective: You Ready For This, Playa?

When Rockstar North (then DMA Design) developed and released Grand Theft Auto III back in 2001, they literally changed gaming from that point on. GTA III certainly wasn’t the first open world/crime game, I mean, there were two other main GTA titles before it for starters. But that one game in particular struck a very receptive nerve among gamers. It was, for want of a better word, perfect at the time. It’s melding of open world, anarchic action and tight storytelling was unmatched in 2001. Yeah sure, there were other GTA-like games, but those just weren’t GTA.

For a good while after the release of GTA III, there was an ongoing trend of developers trying to out GTA Rockstar North, developers wanting to not just mimic GTA III, but also attempt to better it. Those games were a very mixed bag. Some really good titles, some awful ones. It seemed for a while that no one was capable of making a truly brilliant ‘GTA clone’, as they were labelled as back then. Then in 2006, American developers Volition threw their hat into the ring with Saints Row. A new franchise was born that is still going today, with the announcement of the latest game, Saints Row V last year. And according to Volition, they’re deep in development on the game too. So with fourteen years and four main games in the franchise… and a spin-off or two. I thought I’d take a look at the entire Saints Row franchise… you ready for this, playa?

Okay so a quick aside here. I originally started to write this one in August of last year when Saints Row V was first announced. Covered the first two games, but put the article on hold as I waited more info on the fifth game, and then… I just forgot about the whole thing. Then, Saints Row: The Third Remastered was announced, that I completely missed, until a friend mentioned it to me (thanks Martin). So with the remaster now out, I thought I’d get back into this retrospective and finish it. Oh and a big thanks to Dan over at Koch Media for sending me a copy of Saints Row: The Third Remastered.

I always do this, but I’m going to pop in a SPOILER warning right now. I’ll be covering the plots of each game, including the endings. So if you don’t want the story of Saints Row ruined, then stop reading now.

Saints Row

Saints Row 1

This is where it all started. You control an unnamed, low level street thug, who never talks. Finding yourself in the city of Stilwater, you are taken under the wing of local gang, the 3rd Street Saints, who really like the colour purple and is run by Julius Little. Dexter “Dex” Jackson, Johnny Gat, and Lin are Julius’ main lieutenants in the gang. After a few initiation missions, Julius Little tasks you, the player to take out the three rival gangs in Stilwater. An African American gang, the Vice Kings, who’s main source of income is from strip clubs and record labels. The Los Carnales are a Hispanic gang who’s main line of business is drugs, they run the narcotics trade. And finally, an underground racing gang called the Westside Rollerz. Julius also appoints one of his three lieutenants to each of the three gangs to work alongside you.

Once all three gangs are taken care of and the 3rd Street Saints in control of Stilwater, the player is made a chief lieutenant by Julius. Then, Stilwater’s corrupt police chief, Richard Monroe arrests Julius and holds him to ransom, forcing the player to kill the city’s mayor in exchange for Juluis’ life. The Saints ambush the police chief, kill him and free Julius. The mayor invites the player onto his yacht, where you learn that he (mayor) is planning on having all of the 3rd Street Saints arrested and to also have their main territory, Saints Row, burnt to the ground and made way for redevelopment. The mayor orders for you to be executed, at which point, the yacht explodes as Julius watches on. Was Julius involved in the explosion and are you, the player dead? Questions to ask as the game ends on a cliffhanger.

Saints Row 1 End

Saints Row, while definitely a ‘GTA clone’, also stood out in it’s own right. It wasn’t very original, but what it did do, it did very well and in some cases, it did it even better than GTA. The introduction of a cell phone for instance, which you could use to call in back up, unlock hidden secrets and cheats. A GPS system to help you get around the map. All done before GTA. There was a certain element of ridiculousness that came with Saints Row, which GTA just didn’t have at the time. An almost cartoony style, which gave the player many more options and ways to create havoc around the open world the game provided. Then there was the immense level of customisation available to you. Creating your player, with such a deep and easy to use system which allowed you to design a reasonably ‘normal’ looking character, or you could go the other way and create some real freaks of nature. That deep customisation also applied to the many vehicles in the game too. The customisation soon became a fan favourite feature and would only get more in-depth and more insane as the franchise continues.

Saints Row is packed with anarchic missions and side-quests/distractions which just make the game so much more fun and exciting. Developers Volition managed to make Saints Row offensive (a good thing) and thoroughly entertaining in ways Rockstar with GTA hadn’t even thought of back then. They do say that imitation is the best form of flattery, and so Rockstar should’ve been extremely flattered with Saints Row… and maybe a little envious too. A little bit ropy and rough around the edges now, especially with the controls. But Saints Row is still a great title to play.

Saints Row 2

Saints Row 2

Picking up five years after the events of the first game. Your character survived the explosion on the yacht… but not unscathed. Finding yourself in Stilwater’s maximum security prison, being in a coma since the explosion, and laid up in the infirmary of the prison. You regain consciousness, after some extensive plastic surgery (queue the game’s impressive customisation), you break out of the prison to find that the 3rd Street Saints have disbanded and leader of the gang, Julius Little has gone missing. Oh and you can talk now too. Amazing what being on board an exploding yacht can do.

The Ultor Corporation have redeveloped a large chuck of Stilwater, including the gang’s main territory, Saints Row itself. After taking down and rescuing ex-Saints lieutenant Johnny Gat from a court trail, you and Gat set about rebuilding the 3rd Street Saints. Setting up a new HQ in an earthquake damaged hotel, you the player becomes the new boss, and now earn the name of The Boss. With help from Johnny Gat and two new members, Pierce Washington and Shaundi, you have to recreate and even re-brand the 3rd Street Saints from the ground up.

Of course, after a five year absence, the  3rd Street Saints name is now mud and new gangs have moved it to lay a claim to the streets. The Ronin, a Japanese gang who run gambling and porn operations in Stilwater. The Sons of Samedi, a Haitian voodoo gang who run the drugs business. The Brotherhood, an outlaw gang who are into gun-running. Take out the new gangs, reclaim the city in the name of the 3rd Street Saints, teach that pesky Ultor Corporation to not mess with Saints Row… oh, and find out what happened to ex-leader Julius Little.

Saints Row 2 Gang Edit

Saints Row really was a cracking game, Saints Row 2 was even better. While still set in the same city as the previous game, the five year gap between the stories means the city has changed a lot, thanks to the not exactly on the level, Ultor Corporation. The map is familiar, yet still fresh.

Yes, the customisation is back, and far more in-depth than before. Not only can you still create a seriously strange looking character, you can now be male or female too. There’s even some amusing dialogue in the game from the likes of Johnny Gat who suggests that you look different somehow… but he can’t quite put his finger on it. Yes the customisation is back in full force with plenty of new features, you can even customise the gang itself now too. The humour of Saints Row 2 is what really works here, the first game had a sense of humour sure, but this sequel goes above and beyond to be hilarious. That crazy OTT gameplay style of Saints Row is back, and pushed even further this time around. More zany distractions and side missions, more stupidly silly but thoroughly enjoyable main missions too.

For me, this is as good as Saints Row got. It melded everything together perfectly. The OTT gameplay, the humour, the characters (especially Shaundi) and the story are all balanced to perfection. I quite honestly didn’t think Volition could ever top Saints Row 2. Then…

Saints Row: The Third

Saints Row 3

Taking place five years after the previous game’s events. The 3rd Street Saints have become a brand, and a vastly popular brand too. The Saints name appears on clothing, drinks and anything they can sell to keep the 3rd Street Saints brand alive and profitable. But don’t think that the Saints have gotten soft over the years, they still indulge in criminal activity. The game opens with you the Boss trying to rob a Stilwater bank, with help from Shaundi and Johnny Gat

But the robbery quickly goes sideways and the Boss along with his/her lieutenants are arrested. The trio are handed over to Phillipe Loren, head honcho of a worldwide criminal syndicate rather imaginatively called the Syndicate. So Loren says that Shaundi, Gat and you Boss (that’s really your character’s name, Boss) can keep their lives in exchange for most of the profits from the 3rd Street Saints brand. A deal that doesn’t go down too well at all. Johnny Gat sacrifices himself so Boss and Shaundi can escape, and what an escape it is too.

Boss and Shaundi find themselves in the (new) city of Steelport. A city overrun with gangs owned by the Syndicate. There’s the Morningstar who are Phillipe Loren’s main gang and who run the sex trade in the city. The Luchadores are a Mexican wrestling gang who run a large casino. Then the Deckers are a high-tech gang who operate the cyber black-market. Saints lieutenant, Pierce Washington turns up in Steelport and the Saints begin to fight back against Loren and his gangs to take over the city as their own.

Saints Row 3 Action

I said previously how Saints Row 2 is as good as it gets. That’s a statement that needs some clarification. I think the map, story and characters in Saints Row 2 are perfect, at the time, the customisation was unmatched too. For me, Saints Row 2 is the best of the franchise. But with Saints Row: The Third, Volition perfected other elements of the franchise. The zany, ridiculousness of the franchise is absolutely perfectly balanced against it’s more ‘grounded’ elements. The customisation is brilliant, now with many more options and variables. The distractions and side missions are wonderful. Yet saying all of that, I still prefer Saints Row 2 as an overall game.

What Saints Row: The Third does, it does with passion and delight. But the story is a bit flat, passé… a bit ‘seen it all before’. Plus I really miss old stoner Shaundi as a character as she becomes an overbearing business woman in this one. This game is still utterly brilliant. It’s OTT nature is sublime, the level and detail in the customisation is second to none, especially with the character creation. Over the years, people have made some amazing Boss characters, even some based on real world people and TV/film characters. I do genuinely adore Saints Row: The Third and it’s insanity, I just prefer Saints Row 2’s structure as a game little bit more.

But before I move onto the next game in the franchise, I just want to offer my view on Saints Row: The Third Remastered, and again, thanks to Dan over at Koch Media for a review code.

Saints Row 3 Remaster

So this remaster is just as good as the original game, but with a few bells and whistles. This is more than just a slight upgrade as Sperasoft Studio, who have handled this game, have done a bit more than just give it lick of paint. Models have been completely redesigned from the ground up, the characters, vehicles and weapons have all been re-built from scratch. The environments look beautiful, now with improved lighting, visual effects and a deeper colour palette. Every piece of previous DLC has been included too, that’s over 30 for those keeping count. From cosmetics that really add to the customisation to full on extra gameplay additions. And it all runs buttery smooth on the Xbox One X too. Some sites have been saying the game is locked at 30 fps on consoles… it’s not. In fact, there’s even an option to unlock the frame rate, which I did and had zero issues. The game looked and played silky smooth.

Saints Row: The Third Remastered is the definitive version of the game. Whether you’re new to the franchise or an old-timer when it comes to Saints Row. I highly recommend this remaster to anyone who fancies causing some crazy havoc and destruction…. with a great sense of humour to boot. But of course, this all depends on how much mileage you may get out of the game. I mean, at least on the Xbox, the original version is backwardly compatible, so is it really worth spending cash on this remaster? That’s a tough question to answer and I guess it all boils down to just how much you love the game.

Saints Row IV

Saints Row 4

When I finished Saints Row: The Third, I honestly didn’t think that developer, Volition really had anywhere else to go. The previous game was so OTT, it didn’t leave much room for experimentation. But boy was I wrong!

So the opening to Saints Row IV takes place just a few months after the events of the last game. It begins with Boss going on a mission to assist MI-6. This mission results in Boss stopping a nuclear missile from hitting Washington D.C. and the White House. Being hailed a hero by the Americans, Boss is elected President of the United States.

Cut to five years later (they really like these five year time jumps eh?), now established as the POTUS, Boss has actor Keith David as his/her adviser and several 3rd Street Saints members as part of his/her cabinet. And if that’s not crazy enough, then things get really out of hand. Aliens invade Earth, led by evil warlord, Zinyak. These aliens, called Zin, abduct Boss along with his cabinet. The Zin enslave humanity and trap Boss in a computer simulation/The Matrix kind of thing, which he must escape, rescue the Saints and save the Earth from the aliens. See, I told you I was wrong about Volition having nowhere to go… but does it work?

Saints Row 4 Fight

I have a real love/hate relationship with Saints Row IV. There is a lot to love. The game features some very clever, self-referential and very meta writing and humour. There are parts of this game when your stuck in a 1950s sitcom. Parts where (thanks to the computer simulation) you go back into previous games. There’s a clever and very well observed Streets of Rage parody tied into one of the major events of Saints Row 2, there’s a part where you go back the very first game and Boss makes comments on how bad the graphics look. The moments between Keith David (who voiced Julius Little in the first two games) and Ruddy Pipper when they reference ‘that fight’, the interactions between characters both past and present, etc. Saints Row IV is crammed full of creative moments, references and in-jokes to films, TV shows and games, enough to keep the biggest nerd, like me, happy.

These touches are great, brilliantly written, conceived and realised. And that much loved customisation is back in full force too, turned up way beyond eleven. But there’s so much more I don’t like about Saints Row IV that I just can’t ignore. Where as Saints Row: The Third managed to strike the absolute perfect balance between it’s iconic craziness and yet, still maintain a level of verisimilitude, Saints Row IV goes way too far into the absurd. Your character is too overpowered, the fact you can run at super speed and fly around the map renders the use of vehicles redundant. You become a superhero. The computer simulation setting is horrible, the re-used map from the last game just doesn’t work here and gets old fast. The game is perpetually set at night, making everything gloomy. Plus the fact you become the POTUS is completely irrelevant as the aliens enslave and eventually destroy the Earth, rendering your presidential status completely void anyway.

Then there’s the mission structure itself. Truth be told, there’s only a small handful of actual story missions. Everything else revolves around the reused distractions and side missions from the previous game. On the previous games, these distractions and side missions were just that, distractions and side missions. But in Saints Row IV, they are integrated to the main plot, the side missions become part of the main story… so not actually side missions now. The whole game feels like an afterthought, like this was half a game that has been massively padded out. It just didn’t sit right with me. It’s too OTT, even for Saints Row, it’s main plot is haphazardly thrown together, it’s structure makes zero sense. You feel like you’re playing a game with cheat-codes on that you can’t turn off and it all gets a bit boring to be honest.

Saints Row 4 Keith Roddy

I enjoyed Saints Row IV from it’s humour point of view. It is funny, it’s well written and observed, it’s chock full of clever references and all that… but it’s just not a Saints Row game, it doesn’t feel right at all. If Volition had created an all new IP about a disgruntled and reluctant superhero, like the movie Hancock, I think they could be had a fantastic title here and future new franchise. If they had fleshed out the story proper and installed a real story progression system, instead of relying on building everything around side missions, this could’ve been amazing. Saints Row IV is a good and funny game that’s fatally flawed. It’s just not Saints Row and feels more like an extended piece of DLC over a full game.


Well that’s the main games in the franchise covered. But I also want to take a look at the various spin offs too.

Saints Row: Total Control

Saints Row TC

This game was developed by Punch Entertainment and not original developers Volition,  which should tell you all you need to know really. This wasn’t a ‘real’ Saints Row game, it was a Facebook only kind of thing.

This was completely non-canonical to the main series and was one of those property building games, very much like Mafia Wars or Gangster City, with some social media interactions thrown in. Those not very interesting tappy-tap games with no real depth and long, real-time waits to do mundane tasks. The game was set between the events of Saints Row 2 and Saints Row: The Third. Not that it really matters because, as I said, this was non-canonical and never mentioned or referenced in the main games.

No longer available as it was removed from Facebook back in 2011. No major loss either as it was dull and didn’t bring anything new to an already over crowded market then.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell

Saints Row Gat out of Hell

The story of this one is a little out there, maybe not quite to the level of Saints Row IV, but it’s certainly close. Taking place after Saints Row IV, Boss gets dragged to Hell by Satan after playing around with a Ouija Board. Satan tells Boss that he/she will have to marry his daughter, Jezebel. 3rd Street Saints lieutenants Johnny Gat and Kinzie Kensington go to Hell to save Boss. When in Hell, Gat and Kensington learn that the Saints old enemy, the Ultor Corporation have a branch down there. But instead of rekindling bad blood, Ultor offer to help Gat and Kensington save Boss from his forced marriage and take out Satan once and for all.

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell isn’t a full sequel or even a full game. It’s more if a fun and extended piece of DLC. It plays very similar to Saints Row IV before it. It’s stupid, OTT and ridiculous. You don’t play as Boss for the first time in a proper Saints Row game, Saints Row: Total Control doesn’t count. Instead you play as either Johnny Gat or Kinzie Kensington, with the ability to swap between the two.

Just as with Saints Row IV, you become incredibly overpowered and pick up all sorts of crazy talents. Flying and other superhuman abilities soon make you pretty much unstoppable. As you don’t play as Boss this time around, there’s no character customisation, which is definitely greatly missed. I enjoyed this one a bit more than Saints Row IV to be honest. I think it’s mainly because it can can be seen and treated as non-canonical, it doesn’t really effect the plot of the main games like Saints Row IV does. It’s not a big game at all, as it really is just a piece of DLC over a full title. But what it does, it does very well. It’s stupid, OTT, funny and a fun, playable little experiment.

That’s really it for Saints Row games and spin offs. There were a couple of planned, but never released games, such as Saints Row: Money Shot and Saints Row Undercover. Though an unfinished version of Saints Row Undercover has made itself onto the interwebs if you really want to check it out. But that’s about it. However, interestingly enough, the Saints Row universe is actually a shared one and spills over into other games too.

Red Faction

Red Faction

Red Faction is it’s own franchise, consisting of four main games. A franchise also developed by Volition, though no new games in the series have been announced since 2011’s Red Faction: Armageddon. Though a Red Faction: Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered, a remaster of the third game, was released in 2018.

The franchise is set way in the future, starting in 2075 and going through to 2175. Oh and takes place on Mars too. So pretty far removed from Saints Row really… even at it’s craziest. But the main villains of Red Faction are the Ultor Corporation, the same Ultor causing problems for the 3rd Street Saints since 2006.

Agents of Mayhem

Agents of Mayhem

This one is set in a futuristic version of Seoul, South Korea and is based off one of the endings to Gat out of Hell. Telling the story of M.A.Y.H.E.M. (Multinational AgencY Hunting Evil Masterminds), an organisation funded by the Ultor Corporation. Various agents from M.A.Y.H.E.M, including Johnny Gat, do battle against super-villain organisation L.E.G.I.O.N. (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations).

Overall

Saints Row All

I love the Saints Row franchise. It’s stupid, ridiculous, completely OTT and full of fun gameplay. Of the ‘GTA clones’, Saints Row is by far the best. So much so that it’s broken free from that ‘GTA clone’ label into it’s own, very much deserved sub-genre and one others just can not match. I may not have enjoyed Saints Row IV as a Saints Row game, but it is a fun-packed title none the less. For me, the games peaked with Saints Row 2. The map, the characters and the story was a great as the franchise got. But Saints Row: The Third is the franchise at it’s madcap best.

Saints Row V?

But before I end this, Saints Row V (or whatever it’ll be called) was officially announced last summer. That’s the reason why Sperasoft Studio took on Saints Row: The Third Remastered instead of series creator, Volition, who are already deep in development on the new title. Anyway, after the immensely fun, but far from right Saints Row IV, it’s hard to say or even guess where the franchise can go. I’m seriously curious as to what Volition have planned for the new game. So much so that I and some friends came up with a few ideas.

If we do ignore Saints Row: Gat out of Hell and it’s multiple different endings, if we go off the ‘proper’ ending to Saints Row IV. Then Earth has been destroyed, but Boss and what’s left of the 3rd Street Saints discover time-travel. The credits even roll with humorous images of the Saints going through time interacting with historical people and events. So, I guess Volition could use time-travel to put the Saints pretty much any-when they want. This could kick-start a new franchise of the Saints in history creating their brand centuries ago, Assassin’s Creed style. As my pal Badger suggested, have the Saints ride a T-Rex to kill Adolf Hitler.

Maybe the new game won’t be Saints Row V at all. Maybe it’s a complete reboot? Given the ending to Saints Row IV, given the fact Volition pretty much screwed the franchise from a storytelling perspective, maybe hitting the rest button is the best thing to do? An all new Saints Row starting fresh.

Or how about the idea that there are various 3rd Street Saints all over the world? Saints Row IV could’ve been the end of the story for that particular Boss. But what if there’s another Boss in China, England… pick a country. What if the 3rd Street Saints are a worldwide gang with branches spread all over the globe? The new game could jump back 20 years or so and tell the story of a new and different Boss in another country. A story that runs concurrent with the main plot of the first four games.

They could even do an origins kind of thing and tell the story of how the 3rd Street Saints began. Get into the histories of some of the more notable characters from the games like Johnny Gat or even Julius Little himself… remember him?

Perhaps Saints Row V could be a ‘real’ sequel to Saints Row: the Third. Maybe the events in Saints Row IV didn’t really happen, it could’ve all been a crazy dream, Bobby Ewing shower scene style. Then the new game could be the ‘proper’ sequel to Saints Row: the Third.

Anyway, enough of my rantings. Time to end this Saints Row retrospective, just sit back and wait to see what Volition have planned for the next game…

Maneater: Just When You Thought It Was Safe…

I love Jaws, it’s a brilliant, classic film that created the summer blockbuster. I could sit here and write an article on the making and importance of Jaws, I’m not going to because I already did that years ago. But the film’s influence can still be felt forty five years since it was released.

It’s quite surprising that Jaws hasn’t seen too many games based on the IP. There was that NES one from 1987 and Jaws Unleashed for the PS2 and Xbox from 2006 and that’s it. Bit of a shame really because Jaws opens itself up to numerous possibilities. How about a game where you play as a famed shark hunter, hired to search the seas to take out various predators, and of course Bruce himself? Jaws Unleashed had a great idea, play as the shark and cause all sorts of untold chaos. It was a good game, sadly ruined by some clumsy controls and numerous glitches.

But there have been a few games inspired by Jaws, quite a few really, mainly tappy-tap mobile games. Maneater from Tripwire Interactive is one such game, just not a crappy tappy-tap mobile game. But is it Jaws great or Jaws: The Revenge terrible… or maybe just Jaws 2 disappointing?

Taking the idea from Jaws Unleashed and having you play as the shark, Maneater is already separating itself from other open world games around right now. The game kicks off with you playing as a fully grown bull shark who crosses paths with famed shark hunter, Scaly Pete. Without spoiling the story too much, you soon find yourself in control of a baby shark. The basic idea of the game is to survive the harsh waters, grow and evolve your shark and take out Scaly Pete.

Maneater Attack

Your shark is pretty minimal at the start and to be honest, the first hour or so, I really didn’t see much appeal in the game. But once I’d played around a bit, levelled up and gained some new abilities, I soon found myself really enjoying exploring the water and chomping up fish and humans alike. Your shark is pretty nimble and that only gets better as you level up. From starting out with bare basic moves such as biting and dashing, you’ll unlock abilities like a tail whip to becoming an electric shark… seriously.

Maneater isn’t trying to be factual in any way. It’s a game with it’s basihyal firmly in it’s cheek, a basihyal is what sharks have instead of a tongue, see the reference works. The missions themselves are pretty restrictive, go here and kill ten of a certain fish, go there and kill ten humans, etc. There a really little variation in it’s mission structure. Yet, I never felt bored doing any of this because swimming and jumping around like a shark is so much fun. And yes, I did say jumping around like a shark. Maneater does let you get out of the water and your shark can manoeuvre on land pretty well too. Granted, the movements are restricted compared to being in the water, but you can hop about on land and gobble up annoying humans with relative ease. Just keep an eye on your O2 meter as you’ll soon suffocate.

Outside of the main story missions, there are license plates to discover and special landmarks to find. On top of all the open world expiration a game like this offers. The map is also a pretty decent size and split into various areas, some areas you can’t access until you grow your shark from a baby shark (do-do-do-do do-do… I have two small children) to a teen, an adult and even an elder shark. All while unlocking new abilities and skills, which themselves can be upgraded. You have four main resources in the game, proteins, fats, minerals, and rare mutagenics. Kill and eat fish/humans and earn the resources or find them in chests under the water. Then spend your resources like in-game cash to upgrade your abilities.

Those abilities will come in very handy as the game progresses too. You start in a fairly quiet area with little to no threats. Mainly full of non-threatening catfish and the like, small and easy prey for a shark pup. But as the map opens up and the game’s story continues, you’ll soon find yourself facing snapping barracudas, alligators, bigger sharks and of course, the worst of animals, humans. It’s the killing humans when an element of Maneater really comes to life. Kill fish, turtles and the like, nothing untoward happens to your shark, it is nature after all. But it’s when you start munching on humans where the game kicks things up a notch.

Maneater Jump

See, there are shark hunters out there and the more humans you kill, the more of a threat you become. So the more ‘wanted’ by the hunters you are. It all works a bit like the wanted system in other open world games such as GTA. The more human killing you’re responsible for, the more the hunters come after you. Here’s where you have a choice, swim away and hide until it all dies down or stay and fight. Dash/jump out of the water while being shot at by the hunters and take them on. Keep attacking their boats until they sink, leaving you with a floating buffet. The ‘wanted’ system is really well implemented and works brilliantly too.

It all gets a bit madcap, especially with a fully upgraded electric shark, but outside of it’s craziness, the whole thing is presented as a real world documentary TV show. They even got Chris Parnell who is the host of ‘real’ reality TV show, Maneaters vs. Sharkhunters to do the voice over. So it has a level of authenticity even though it’s stupidly OTT… a bit like real ‘reality’ TV then. And that voice over is fantastic too, from spitting out shark facts to making bad puns/jokes to even suggesting the best way to cook and eat some of the fish you hunt in the game. The presentation of Maneater is both fascinating and funny.

Now, I do have one niggle with the game, it’s the controls. For the most part, they work just fine and after a short while, you’ll be swimming, dashing and exploring the water with ease. However, a big part of the game is battling and eating to survive. There no lock on feature and you really do need one too. You can press a button to look at a potential snack or fast approaching enemy, but you can’t lock onto them. This really is an issue, especially when in the midst of a big fight with a large enemy. There is a level of strategy when it comes to the underwater fights. It’s not quite as simple as just tap your bite button and hope for the best. Your targets, both big and small will either avoid you or attack you. Given the fact you are underwater for 90% of the game, these fights can get a bit confusing as an attacking alligator swims over and behind you, by the time you’ve adjusted the camera to where it now is, it’s already taken a bite. You do have a dodge move, but this just adds to the confusion and helps you lose sight of your target quicker. If you could lock on, this would make the fights a lot more enjoyable.

Maneater Shark

But niggle aside, Maneater is a brilliant game. highly recommended. It’s not too big so you get lost around the map, nor is it too small that you find yourself with little to do and become bored. There is little variety in the main missions, but that honestly didn’t bother me much because just exploring the waters was great fun and the fluid swimming controls really do work a treat.

I just can’t wait to see what, if any DLC Tripwire Interactive has planned as I want more. I wonder if the Jaws licence would be relatively cheap now…

I just got through a review of a game called Maneater and didn’t make a single Hall & Oates reference, almost did though.

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series 2, Part 2

Yes I’m back, as it’s time for part 2 of series 2 of my GamesMaster retrospective (part 1 is right here in case you missed it). No need for a long intro here, you know what the score by now. So let’s get into it.

Episode 14

Following on from the previous Christmas episode is this New Year’s special which aired on the 31st of December, 1992. Dominick makes his entrance, not in his iconic red blazer but… well…

Dominick Diamond Dame

Dressing as a panto dame, even Auntie Marisha got dressed up for the occasion…

Auntie M Horse

But enough panto themed tomfoolery, shenanigans and New Year merriment, it’s the first challenge. David Finch takes on space shooter To the Earth (NES) where he has to try and reach Uranus. But this is no ordinary challenge as poor David has to use the helmet-like, voice controlled Konami LaserScope, I say poor David because the Konami LaserScope was an utterly useless piece of hardware that just didn’t work properly. Uranus + a helmet controller + Dominik Diamond = double entendre nirvana. Anyway, so David fails the challenge spectacularly because the Konami LaserScope was shit.

The final reviews of 1992 are all flight sims. Tornado (PC, Amiga, & Atari ST) earns a 91%. Harrier (PC) lands 87%. Air Warrior (PC, Amiga, Atari ST, & Macintosh) nabs a 91%. No feature this episode, but a quick mention of how to join the GamesMaster club is thrown in. The joystick waggling, Olympic games themed Quest for Gold (Amiga) is the title of choice here for the celebrity challenge. Taking on the 100m sprint are two of the all time athletic greats, Colin Jackson and Linford Christie. But they are not taking on this challenge alone as Dominik calls in Carl Lewis to also give the game a bash… not THE Carl Lewis but just a spectator with the same name. Each of the challengers takes it in turns to get the fastest time in the 100m, sprint. Carl goes first and finishes the race in 14.3 seconds, Colin is up next and gets a very impressive 12 seconds dead, then Linford manages a 12.05 seconds. Colin Jackson takes home the gold…en joystick.

Yes it’s GamesMaster hints & tips time. The Addams Family (SNES), Dalek Attack (Amiga)… a Doctor Who based game is asked for help with by none other than an actual Dalek! Then finally, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (Game Boy) get some much needed assistance. Then it’s final challenge time and Streets of Rage 2 (Mega Drive) is the game of choice. Sega European Champion, Rezo Abdolali (wait, earlier in this series, they said that Danny Curley was Sega European Champion, he had several challenges remember?) takes on the Sega British Champ (and I thought Britain was part of Europe then… this whole challenge makes no sense), Karl Roberts. With Rezo playing as Axel while Karl chooses Blaze, they take each other on at a best of three round bout in a one on one fight. The first round is quite a tight one, considering that Rezo dominates for most of it, Karl does manage to make a comeback, but unfortunately, the timer runs out and Rezo wins… but only just. Karl takes the second round with relative ease, making it one round a piece. So onto the final round and Karl grabs himself a sword which should give him an advantage, but he wastes the weapon and Rezo unleashes an impressive flurry of punches and wins the final round. Rezo wins the golden joystick. Sadly, there’s no Auntie Marisha food to enjoy this time because she got drunk on cherry brandy at the New Year’s Eve party.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 15

Getting the first episode of a new year underway is the GamesMaster. Taz-Mania (Mega Drive) is the game of choice here and Nick Capoor is given just 2 minutes to beat the badlands level of the game, including taking out the end of level boss. Nick makes his way though the level with no major issues and reaches the boss, but with only 20 seconds to spare. After taking a hit and being run over by the car-boss, Nick looks like he’s going  to lose this one… but with barely 7 seconds left, he manages to land some well timed jumps and takes out the boss, winning the golden joystick.

It’s Sci-Fi games under the review spotlight this episode… I didn’t even know Sci-Fi was a genre of games? Still, WarpSpeed (SNES) gets 57%. Frontier: Elite 2 (PC & Amiga) scores an 87%. Eye of the Storm (PC & Amiga) is given 84%. No feature again this time. Super Kick Off (SNES) is the celebrity challenge as (then) Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright takes on Tammy Edmeat at a game of footie. The first half is pretty redundant as neither scores, and the same can be said about the second half too. Neither Ian or Tammy took a single shot the whole match, which means penalties. Ian misses his second penalty and Tammy takes a 1 goal lead, the shots continue to the end with each player allowed 5 penalties, but with Ian missing his second, Tammy goes on to win 5-4.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) is given some help. Then when a second person seeks the GamesMaster’s help, he turns them away because he didn’t like their haircut…. brutal. Kid Chameleon (Mega Drive) and Smash TV (SNES) also get some love. A spot of racing is up for the final challenge and Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing (Amiga) is the game. Clive Borden and Richard Walkling take it in turns to put in the fastest lap on GamesMaster’s choice of circuit, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Up first is Clive who gets a time of 01:10.70 for his lap. Richard struggles a tad and only gets a lap-time of 01:18.24. Clive wins the golden joystick. Auntie Marisha tempts Dominic with some Halibut lightly tossed in Brine.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 16

Terminator 2: The Arcade Game (Mega Drive) is the first challenge and Simon Bland gets to ‘skip to the end’ and has to take out the T-1000 in the game’s final level. Of course GamesMaster makes things a little trickier by only giving Simon the classic 1 minute and 30 seconds to complete this task. Full of confidence, Simon grabs hold of the Menacer, the light-gun peripheral for the Mega Drive and sets about blasting the mimetic poly-alloy robot from the future. This challenge proves no problemo for Simon as he takes out the T-1000 with ease to win the golden joystick.

T2 Challenge

Now it’s time to look at heroic games. Okay, so after the previous ‘Sci-Fi genre’, it’s clear whoever was coming up with the names for the themes of the reviews was running out of ideas… heroic games? Anyway, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Mega Drive) gets 68%. Pirates! (NES) earns a well deserved 91%. Then Super Star Wars (SNES) scores 87%. The feature takes a genuinely interesting look at the making of the first ever UK SNES TV commercial. Then a quick mention of how to get hold of a GamesMaster fact sheet. Celebrity challenge time again and Gallagher’s Gallery (Arcade), a bizarre light-gun game featuring American ‘comedian’ Gallagher is the game. Taking on this challenge are Mark Wingett and Huw Higginson, two actors from then popular TV series The Bill. The two pretend coppers have to shoot as many objects as they can in a shop, the more objects shoot, the more score they get. Playing alongside each other, Mark scores 1,900 points while Huw only manages a mere 850 points. Mark Wingett wins the golden joystick.

Super Mario World (SNES), Blazing Skies (SNES) and Pushover (Amiga) get some much needed help from GamesMaster. The final challenge brings with it something a little different-ish. Earlier in the series, Sega European Champion Danny Curley took on challenges from the audience and now it’s the turn of the Nintendo British Champion, Thomas Patterson to do the same. Playing NCAA Basketball (SNES), Thomas is challenged by a spectator pulled from the audience, Mike Bedford. It’s a fairly close game, but Thomas Patterson manages to win 10-8. Just as with Danny Curley earlier in the series, despite winning, Thomas is not given a golden joystick due to being a recognised gaming champion… but he’ll be back for more challenges. Auntie Marisha serves up some Coquilles Saint-Jacques with Bean Sprouts.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 17

Road Rash 2 (Mega Drive) kicks off this episode as Marlon Rose (with the word GamesMaster shaved into the back of his head) has to come first on the Hawaii track of the game. Marlon gets off to a cracking start as he makes his way through the pack and soon finds himself in 3rd place… for a while before he slams into an oncoming car and drops to 6th place. Not one to give up, Marlon gets back on his bike and gets into 2nd place, but he gets some hassle from the police. A few well timed punches to the face puts the copper in his place. Battling for 1st place, Marlon crashes into a road sign and rejoins the race in 5th but soon smashes into another car, leaving his bike’s health bar dangerously low. Another crash into a car makes his bike explode and Marlon fails.

It’s cult games for review this time around as The Blues Brothers (SNES) earns 51%. Doctor Who: Dalek Attack (Amiga) gets 73%. Star Wars (Game Boy) is given 80%. The feature takes a look at three home computers, the Atari Falcon, Acorn A3010, and the Amiga A1200 as the dawn of the 32-bit era begins. Singer Cathy Dennis is the celebrity here and she takes on Global Gladiators (Mega Drive). Cathy has 2 minutes to finish the first level of the game. Cathy takes several hits and her health bar gets very low, but that’s the least of her worries as she misjudges a jump and falls to her death, failing the challenge.

Krusty’s Super Fun House (SNES) gets some help before a rather rude oik demands a tip for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) but doesn’t say please. This just pisses GamesMaster off and he refuses to help, got to respect the GamesMaster if you want his assistance. U.N. Squadron (SNES) get a helpful hint, and then that rude oik from before comes back and says please to get the guidance he needs. And so the Thomas Patterson SNES challenges continue. Audience member Keith Pentlin throws down the gauntlet on Super Soccer (SNES). Thomas playing as Germany takes on Keith as Holland and they kick a football around a pitch for a while. Keith gets the first goal of the match, but Thomas quickly puts away an equaliser making it 1-1. Just seconds before the end of the first half, Thomas tucks another away making it 2-1 to the Nintendo British Champion. The second half doesn’t deliver any more goals so Thomas wins. Crab’s Pinchers with Cheesy Nibbles is Auntie Marisha delicacy this episode.

Golden joysticks won – 0

Episode 18

GamesMaster sets up the first challenge on Alien 3 (Mega Drive). With just 2 minutes, Shango Stableton (yes, that’s his name) has to free all eight hostages and finish the first level. Within the first 4 seconds, Shango gets hit by a xenomorph, but he manages to regroup and saves four hostages pretty sharpish. The time ticks away as he makes he way through the level rescuing the captives. With just 20 seconds on the clock, there are still two more hostages to find and it’s looking very unlikely Shango will win this one. More xenomorphs get in the way and with only 9 seconds left, he finds the last two hostages… but still has to exit the level. Shango makes it with only 2 seconds to spare in this very close challenge and he takes home the golden joystick.

Shoot ’em Ups (an actual gaming genre) get reviewed this time. Xenon 2: Megablast (Game Boy) is given 68%. Axelay (SNES) is awarded 87%. Probotector 2: Return of the Evil Forces (NES) gets 80%. No feature this time so straight into the celebrity challenge. Beat ’em Up World Heroes (Neo Geo) is the game here and Chris Brody takes on his own sister…  weather girl turned TV presenter Ulrika (ka-ka-ka) Jonsson. Chris takes the first round with ease but Ulrika wins the second making it one round each. The third and final round goes to Chris and he wins the golden joystick.

Ulrika J

More hints & tips from the G-man and up first is Super Mario World (SNES). Then someone asks for an unlimited lives cheat on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive) and GamesMaster has to admit he can’t help as there is no such cheat, the first time he has not be able to meet a request… though not really GamesMaster’s fault. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) is the last game to get some help this time around. Then back is Thomas Patterson who is challenged to a game on Pilotwings (SNES) by Scott Naylor. Choosing the hang-gliding stage, each player takes it in turn to score the most points. Scott goes first and it looks like he messes up pretty badly… but does he? Taking a rather unorthodox route to the lading pad, but still puts in a superb performance to score a very respectable 90/100 points. Thomas takes up the controller and sets about trying to beat that impressive 90 points, Thomas needs an absolutely perfect score here to win. Thomas takes a more traditional route to the landing pad but falls short and misses the pad completely, only scoring an average 60 points. Scott beats the Nintendo British Champion and wins the golden joystick. Dominick teases a 3D special challenge for the next episode before enjoying Auntie Marisha’s Sprat Nibbles in a Spicy Cajun Dip.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 19

Dominic Verson takes on the first challenge on The Magical Quest, starring Mickey Mouse (SNES). GamesMaster gives out his favourite 1 minute and 30 seconds to finish a level and kill the boss. Dominic admits he’s not managed to beat the time limit in practise, so he could fail this one before it’s even begun. Dominic reaches the boss with 50 seconds to spare, plenty of time, but he took a few hits along the way and doesn’t have full health. Taking another hit on the boss fight and with only one hit and 11 seconds left, this is going to be a close one after all. But he does it, with only 1 second remaining, Dominic wins the golden joystick.

And it’s sports games up for review this time. Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing (Mega Drive) gets 57%. Jimmy Connors Pro Tennis Tour (SNES) scores 80%. Front Page Football (PC) is handed 87%.  No feature… again. So it’s celebrity challenge time once more. Puzzle/platformer Sleepwalker (Amiga) is the game and offbeat comedian Vic Reeves is the challenger. This is a special Comic Relief challenge on a specially designed level just for GamesMaster. Vic has a bit of bother from troublesome snake early on and loses a lot of time and it all goes very wrong. Things don’t improve and he fails the challenge, badly via some atrocious game-playing… very poor indeed. GamesMaster rightfully, sends Vic Reeves down to the pit for his dismal performance.

Vic Reeves

Captain Dynamo (Amiga), The Magical Quest, starring Mickey Mouse (SNES) and Double Dragon (Master System) get some much needed help from GamesMaster. Dominik Diamond plucks three spectators from the audience to take part in a special 3D challenge called The Maelstrom 3D Challenge. Specially created just for GamesMaster, players have to fly their spaceship through an asteroid field and dock with the mother-ship. But it’s not only the contestants who get to experience the 3D as viewers at home could don a pair of 3D glasses and watch in three dimensions at home too. Of Garry, Scott & Nitesh, the three challengers chosen by Dominik, Gary goes first. He gets off to a good start, dodging and weaving the asteroids, but takes a few too many hits and his ship explodes. Scott grabs a hold of his joystick next. Doing better then Gary and getting very close to docking and finishing the challenge, he slams into a few space rocks and dies. Nitesh is last, but is he least? Well yes and no, Nitesh gets closer to the mother-ship than either of the other two… but still dies just seconds away from winning. No golden joystick here. Deep-Fried Dogfish is Auntie Marisha’s bountiful feast this time.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode 20

GamesMaster gets things rolling with the first challenge. Richard Sylvester has 2 minutes to finish a level on tricky platformer, Kid Chameleon (Mega Drive). Richard ploughs his way though the level with relative ease, making very few mistakes save a missed jump near the end. But with 7 seconds left on the clock, he wins a golden joystick.

Gods (SNES) receives 84%. Two Tribes: Populous 2 (Mega Drive) is given 84%. Utopia: The Creation of a Nation (SNES) lands a 76% as God games are reviewed. Just quickly, this kid pops up in the reviews a few times through the series. What the fuck is going on with these eyes? Seriously, this kid has been scaring me for quite a few episodes now…

Scary Eyes

Still no feature (again), so straight into the celebrity challenge. Host of classic show The Krypton Factor, Gordon Burns takes on Blastris (SNES). A variation of the classic game Tetris but using that Super Scope light-gun thing for the SNES that no one liked. Gordon has to clear five lines, oh and he’s playing on the hardest setting too. After a few unfortunate block drops, Gordon begins to get into a rhythm and clears three of the five lines required to win. The screen begins to fill up and it’s looking very rough, but a couple of very lucky block drops means Gordon scores another line, needing only one more… but he doesn’t get one more line. A cheeky and very lucky long block slides down the screen at just the right time in just the right place, clearing four more lines, meaning Gordon actually scored eight lines when he only needed five. Tip-top, even if a tad lucky bit of gaming to win the golden joystick.

GamesMaster is back to deliver some of his much needed help. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) get some help… have you noticed ho many times this game has been requested so far this series? Anyway, Auntie Marisha also pops up to ask GamesMaster for help with her soggy flan, which he gladly offers and even throws in a bit of flirting too. One of the unfortunates from last episode returns for more help with The Magical Quest, starring Mickey Mouse (SNES). Then onto the final challenge, a bit of a two on one affair as brothers, Thomas & Christoper Celestine take on Victor Ebubedike at (American) Football Frenzy (Neo Geo). The first to get 10 points wins. With a touchdown in American football equating to 6 points, Victor scores the first making it 6-0. But the Celestine brothers soon fight back and not only score a touchdown, but also score an extra 2 points, so it’s 8-6 to the brothers. But Victor Ebubedike isn’t one to give up as he carves his way back up the field to score another touchdown and takes the score to 12-8, winning the challenge and the golden joystick. Auntie Marisha serves up some rather questionable Boiled Tadpoles in a Basket.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 21

To kick things off this time around, Dominik plucks out random spectator, Helen Williams. Her game is the fun and overlooked puzzler, Bill’s Tomato Game (Amiga) and she is given a very unforgiving 1 minute to complete a level. Making a few test runs, Helen splats her tomato over and over… but this is the very nature of this game, it’s all about trial and error. You try, die, tweak your strategy and try, try again. She almost has it after a bit more tweaking, but with just 4 seconds left, her tomato gets splatted once more. Helen only has one last shot at this and those 4 seconds can’t be enough… but she does it, with less than 1 second left, Helen wins the golden joystick.

It’s review time again as classic games get a drubbing. Track & Field (Game Boy) scores a 57%. Dropzone (NES) gets a very decent 87%. Paperboy 2 (Mega Drive) is spanked with a 32%. Yes, a feature… at last and this one takes a gander at three new to the market controllers. The arcade fighting stick Topfighter (SNES), the flight sim stick Free Flight (PC) and the very bizarre motion controller stuck to a hat Free Spirit (PC) all get looked at. As is the tradition, it’s celebrity challenge time. Side scrolling shooter, Contra 3: The Alien Wars (SNES) is the game here and it’s boy-band East 17 who are taking this one on. The challenge is that the lads have to finish the first level of the game, if a life is lost, the controller gets passed to the next member of the band, up to four lives. Four members of the band, four lives, so only one life a piece. It’s a bit of a mixed bag of a performance as the first two lives (Tony and Brian) are lost pretty quickly within seconds of each other and things don’t look good. But the third life (John) fares better… for a while… until death. With only one more life left, it’s all up to the last member of the band (Terry) to finish the level. To be honest, he does a fine job, far better than the others… but slips off a platform and dies. Challenge failed, but at least none of them ran themselves over with their own car after eating too many jacket potatoes… yet. Still, Auntie Marisha deliverers a trolley full of cakes for the boys.

Of course it’s hints & tips time once more. Pushover (Amiga) and Pinball Fantasies (Amiga) get some assistance. Only two tips this time.. but GamesMaster does get a visit from a chicken… because? So it’s final challenge time as Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield’s Boxing (Mega Drive) is chosen for a round of fisticuffs.

Boxing Challenge

Taking on this one are the brother and sister siblings, Craig and Kirsty Munro. It’s a fairly even fight as brother and sister seem to be equally matched. But Kirsty manages to knock Craig down, he recovers… just about, but only long enough to be put back down again. This time, down for the count as Kirsty ‘wins’. Now, I have a bit more to say about this particular challenge later in another article, but for now, Kirsty takes the golden joystick. Auntie Marisha cooks up a finger buffet of Quayle’s Nipples for supper.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 22

Tricky but utterly charming puzzler Lemmings 2: The Tribes (Amiga) is the first challenge. Gavin Handsford is given 2 minutes to save all 50 lemmings in a specially designed GamesMaster level. He can’t afford to lose a single lemming here. Using some very clever tactics, Gavin destroys this challenge without breaking into a sweat and wins the golden joystick with ease.

It’s beat em’ ups up for review this time as Dirty Larry: Renegade Cop (Lynx) is slapped with a 46%. Best of the Best: Championship Karate (SNES) scores 73%. Sonic Blast Man (SNES) is given 76%. The feature this time tries to quell the myth that games are just for kids, as a trio of older ladies are sent to an arcade to play some games. It’s a very tongue in cheek feature but the ladies certainly enjoyed themselves. Famed improv comedienne Josie Lawrence is the celebrity taking on the next challenge. GamesMaster selects the light-gun game Mad Dog McCree 2: The Lost Gold (Arcade) and Josie (who’s never played a video game in her life) is given three lives to try to win a shootout against some dirty Banditos and rescue hostages over two stages. Losing a life very early on, Josie’s chances are looking slim, she does fair better better on her second life and even manages to save a hostage by clearing the first stage. Then on the second stage, Josie shoots her way to victory and wins the golden joystick.

Josie Lawrence

GamesMaster offers his assistance once more. Super Star Wars (SNES), Pinball Fantasises (Amiga) and European Club Soccer (Mega Drive) are all helped. The last challenge is the start of a special Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive) magazine challenge. Dave Goodyear (Mega Drive Advanced Gaming) takes on Paul Davis (Mean Machines Sega) in a race to finish act 1 of the Emerald Hill Zone stage of the game. Going first is Paul who misses a few spring jumps and finishes in 56 seconds. Up next is Dave who takes a different route, finds the speed boots and blisters through the level with a time of 30 seconds. As this is a tournament style challenge, no golden joystick is given until the winner of the final. Auntie Marisha cooks up some Halibut lightly tossed in Brine… again, she served that in episode 15 too.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 23

Captain Dynamo (Amiga) is the first challenge and it’s Emily Taylor taking this one on. With only 1 minute and 30 seconds to finish a level of this platform game without losing a life. There are a few tricky-dicky moments, but Emily handles them very well indeed. A section with some spinning blades makes her lose some valuable time, but even so, Emily gets to the end of the level with 3 seconds to spare. Golden joystick won.

Just the one review this time as the exceptional Star Fox (SNES) gets a very worthy 94% in this exclusive first TV review of the game. Feature time and the CD-ROM format is explained and looked at. Aston Villa striker, Tony Daley takes on Ben McCluskey at Striker (SNES) in a game of soccer. With Tony playing as England while Ben favours Italy. Tony tucks away an early goal, and another making it 2-0 at the end of the first half. The second half doesn’t fare much better for Ben as Tony puts away two more early goals… followed by another. A complete whitewash as Tony destroys Ben 5-0 to win the golden joystick.

More unfortunates seek out GamesMaster’s help. Populous (Mega Drive) gets some love. Then someone asks for help on Streets of Rage 2 (Mega Drive), but the (lack of) manners for the question offends GamesMaster and he refuses to help. Then the often requested The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) also gets some help. The next round of the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive) magazine challenge is next. Paul Mellorick (MEGA) takes on Dean Mortlock (Sega Power) in a race to finish act 1 of the Chemical Plant Zone on the game. Dean goes first and struggles with a time of 1 minute. Paul smashes the challenge with a time of 48 seconds to win and move onto the final. Bouillabaisse is Auntie Marisha’s delicacy this time around.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 24

The first challenge is on the all time classic Super Mario World (SNES). GamesMaster gives a very tight 1 minute and 15 seconds to finish the Chocolate Island 3 level. It’s Aaron Hill who takes this one on. Aaron gets off to a flying start and makes short work of the first half of the level. But just inches away from the end, he slams face first into a flying Koopa Troopa and falls to his death, failing the challenge and he’s banished to the pit.

It’s evolution games (seriously, who came up with the names for the review themes?) up for review now. The Lost Vikings (SNES) gets 80%. Mega Lo Mania (Mega Drive) lands a very nice 87%. Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja (Game Boy) is given 65%. This feature is a profile/interview on Sega European Champion Danny Curley. Celebrity challenge time and it’s the javelin throw on Summer Challenge (Amiga). Simon goes up against (then) javelin world record holder, Steve Backley. Simon goes first and chucks an impressive 90.72m. Steve struggles with an 87.12m throw. Simon wins the golden joystick.

Super Mario World (SNES), Final Fight (SNES) and Wonder Boy in Monster World (Mega Drive) are all helped thanks to GamesMaster. Then it’s the grand final of the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 magazine challenge. Paul Mellorick takes on Dave Goodyear in this special head to head, collect as many rings as you can, best of three rounds challenge. With Paul playing as Sonic and Dave as Tails. Paul takes the first round, but Dave wins the second, making it one round a piece. It’s onto the final, deciding round and it’s a close fight too, but Dave wins by just 2 rings to take home the golden joystick. Auntie Marisha serves up some Jellied Eels with Lychee Dumplings.

Sonic Challenge

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode 25

Jamie Spencer takes on action/platformer ActRaiser (SNES) in the first of GamesMaster’s challenges. He’s given just 1 minute and 30 seconds to finish the first level and defeat the boss. Jamie takes a few hits early on, but makes it to the end of level boss with 40 seconds left. With some well timed and careful hits, he could do this… but Jamie wastes too much time faffing about and runs out of time. Fail!

Eliminator Boat Duel (NES) scores 80%. Micro Machines (Mega Drive) is given 87% and Dirty Racing (Game Boy) scores a 54% as racing games get reviewed. No real feature this time, but the winner (and runner ups) of the previously mentioned GamesMaster Design a Game competition is announced. The winner was Brian Bell & Ashley Cunningham’s game, Charlie Chimp. Which was actually made and released for the Amiga in 1993. Yup it’s the challenge of the celebrity time again and Arm Champs 2 (Arcade) is the game here. This one is a three way fight as the professional British arm wrestling trio of Rod ‘Rambo’ Lanette, Robert ‘Bad News’ Browne, & Tony ‘The Lunatic’ Durey. They have to test their strength against the arcade machine. However, all three actually demolish the machine as their efforts are ‘too string to measure’ and all three score a ???.?kg. Meaning all three win a golden joystick by default.

GamesMaster is back to share his wisdom as Goblins 3 (Amiga), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)… again and The Addams Family (SNES) have their secrets revealed. Its the final challenge of this episode…and actually a second celebrity one too. Olympic gold medal winner, Duncan Goodhew takes on a comical diving challenge on Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’Fun (Amiga). Duncan has to high-dive into increasingly smaller containers. He takes care of the first two dives with style and some form of grace, but misses the third and final target to fail the challenge. Despite the loss, Auntie Marisha does give Duncan a nice cake before serving up the rather normal sounding Goujon of Cod for Dominik.

Golden joysticks won – 3

Episode 26

That’s it, I’m on the home straight as this second series of GamesMaster comes to an end… and what an end too. But before I get to that, it’s the first challenge. David Nulan has to beat the forest stage on Shadow of the Beast 3 (Amiga) in 1 minute and 30 seconds. The challenge is no problem for David as he wins with 7 seconds left and happily gets hold of a golden joystick.

It’s review time again as RPGs get looked at. Dungeon Master (SNES) scores 68%. Final Fantasy II (SNES) gets a 61%. Cyberspace (PC) is given a very high 91%… though as far as I can tell, the game never existed, I can’t find any info on this game at all other than the review in this episode. Look, it’s right there…

CyberSpace review

Anyway, a couple of previews for Uridium 2 and Goal! (Amiga) follow before a feature that takes a look at the making of Michael Jordan In Flight (PC). The final celebrity challenge of the series brings together British ice hockey star Kevin Conway and British field hockey star Sean Kerly to take each other on at NHLPA Hockey ’93 (Mega Drive). Kevin puts away a goal and despite putting up a good fight, Sean can’t seem to score. It’s a 1-0 victory to Kevin Conway as he wins a golden joystick.

For the last time this series, it’s hints & tips time again. The NewZealand Story (Mega Drive) and Goblins 2 (Amiga) are the last two games to get help this series. Mortal Kombat (Arcade) is the very last challenge as Jim McGuyver playing as Sub-Zero takes on Andy Thomas as Raiden. The first round is a close one, but Andy wins. But Jim takes the next round with ease. With one round each, is the final round of the final challenge of the final episode of the series. Jim goes on to win the final round (no finishing move) and takes home the golden joystick.

MK Challenge

Dominik prepares himself to feast on Auntie Marisha’s supper serving… but disaster strikes. There’s an explosion as it’s revealed that Auntie Marisha had blown up the kitchen. Dominik makes a run for a lifeboat to save his own skin as the oil rig the series has been taking place on begins to sink. Is this the end of GamesMaster? Well no there’s another 5 series to cover yet…

Golden joysticks won – 3


Overall

First up, the oil rig set is so much better then the gloomy church from series 1. There’s very welcome lack of smoke machines and lasers flying around. The set is also bigger which gives way to a lot more audience… but it can still a little dark at times. Dominik Diamond seems much more conformable this series and his personality really begins to come through much more. His banter with both the contestants and celebs is funny and charming. I think series 2 is where the production team really got to grips with the format and began to excel.

The finale of the oil rig blowing up was the first major addition to the ‘plot’ of the show and we’ll see more of a continuing story as the series goes on.

Dominick Diamond Dame 2

Total golden joysticks won – 28

So onto series 3… and what a series to cover too. I’m really looking forward to going over this one…

“Welcome to GamesMaster. Much imitated, frequently intermated, inside thigh agitated.”

–  Dominik Diamond

After Life 1 & 2

So how’s this whole lock-down/staying at home working out for everyone? I genuinely hope this virus hasn’t effected you too much. We are in the midst of uncertain times and plenty of us are sitting around without much to do. TV has been a last bastion of sanity for many folk recently.

Last year, Ricky Gervais let loose his latest TV show, After Life and it met with huge praise. Now, I have a very love/hate relationship with Ricky Gervais. Sometimes I think he’s the funniest man on the planet. I adore his bluntness, his honesty and he can be extremely observant. But then he can also comes across as very hypocritical and sycophantic at times too.

Truth be told, I’ve never much liked his work as an actor. His multi-award winning TV shows have never really done anything for me. The Office, Extras, Derek, etc have always gotten a big no from me. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a film with Ricky in that I’ve honestly enjoyed either. But when he’s being himself, when he’s just being Ricky Gervais, he can be one of the most heart-warning and entertaining people on the planet. His live Twitter broadcasts which he’s been doing since the lock-down have been really entertaining… just because Ricky is being Ricky. He talks shit, but it’s really interesting shit.

Anyway, I’m kind of drifting off on a tangent here. The point of this article is because series 2 of Ricky Gervais’ After Life aired on Netflix recently. I watched the first series out of sheer boredom last year and I thought… well I’ll get into that later. I wanted to watch series 2 and offer my opinion right here. But then the idea to re-watch series 1 and then series 2 back to back came to mind. So I thought I’d do a full rundown of each episode and give my view on the series as a whole.

Thankfully, one of Ricky’s talents is to know not to run something into the ground. His shows have always been short, a couple of series with only 6 episodes each (specials aside). I honestly don’t have the patience to sit through your average US TV show, 20+ episodes per season with dozens of seasons. I just lose interest due to the fact they needlessly drag things out. After Life follows that Ricky Gervais formula. 6 episodes and 2 series (so far). Which means I only have 12 episodes to sit through, and then they’re only 30 minute episodes too. Short but sweet that doesn’t outstay it’s welcome.

So here I go, all 12 After Life episodes watched and me offering my opinion on each series overall. I’ll be re-watching series 1, but this is the first time I’ll be watching series 2. But before that, a quick synopsis of what After Life is all about for those not in the know.

Synopsis

So After Life is a black, bittersweet comedy following Tony Johnson (Ricky Gervais). Set the fictional small town of Tambury, Tony works as a reporter/writer for an independent, free, local newspaper The Tambury Gazette run by his brother-in-law Matt (Tom Basden), the kind of free paper that covers inane local news. Tony recently lost his wife, Lisa (Kerry Godliman) to breast cancer, but she still talks to him via a pre-recorded video guide offering him life advice. Tony is in a pit of depression, he’s had enough, he’s suicidal due to his depression with his only real companion being Brandy, Lisa and Tony’s dog. Tony wants to try to set the world to rights, he says what he thinks with no censor, he has no moral compass anymore since the death of his wife. His ‘superpower’ as he calls it, is his cantankerous funk as he feels he can’t be any lower, so can’t be dragged down anymore, he has nothing to lose. Every time the people around Tony try to lift him, he just undermines them as much as he can. Tony is strangely content in his depression and no longer cares for anyone or anything… except Brandy.

Before I crack on, I’ll just pop up one of my obligatory SPOILER warnings here. If you’ve not seen After Life, then stop reading and go watch it now.

Series 1
Episode 1

Tony beings to adapt to life without Lisa. His sink is full of dirty washing up that’ll never be done. There’s no food in his house, not even for Brandy. On his way to work Tony meets his new postman called Pat (Joe Wilkinson)… yes postman Pat, who seems to have an issue with putting post though people’s letterboxes. Tony get’s called a peado by a 10 year old boy… and has a very cutting response, which really sets the tone of the character he is. Stopping off to see his psychiatrist (Paul Kaye) where Tony outlines his bleak look on life.

After Life Sandy

Sandy (Mandeep Dhillon) is the new reporter hired by the paper and she finds Tony’s downbeat attitude hard to take. Tony crosses paths with a local drug addict Julian (Tim Plester) on his way to visit his father, Ray (David Bradley) who is in a nursing home and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Ray is looked after by nurse Emma (Ashley Jensen). Tony and his father’s relationship is strained and Ray keeps asking to see Lisa. Matt takes Tony down the pub with Lenny (Tony Way), photographer at the Tambury Gazette in an attempt to help him out of his rut. Matt sends both Tony and Lenny to cover a big story for the newspaper about a man who has received the exact same birthday card five times (typical local news), the kind of non-stories that make Tony resent his work. As minor as the story is, the recipient of the cards gives Tony something to really think about.

When Tony is accosted by two young muggers on his way home, he soon sets them straight in his own unique, uncaring way… with the help of a tin of dog food. Lisa offers him more life advice through one of her recordings.

Episode 2

Sitting in the bath, Tony holds a razor blade to his wrist… until Brandy walks in looking for food. The only thing really keeping him alive is his love for his dog. Going to visit Lisa’s grave, Tony meets Anne (Penelope Wilton), an older widow who often sits on a bench talking to her dead husband at the graveyard. Visiting his father again, Tony begins to feel sorry for nurse Emma and just how/why she has to look after elderly people who no longer remember their relatives, but he massively misunderstands her motivation.

On his way back into work, Tony crosses paths with drug addict, Julian and arranges to try heroin for the first time later that day. Matt asks Tony to babysit George (Tommy Finnegan), Tony’s 10 year old nephew. After covering a story about a teenager who can play two recorders with his nostrils, Tony tries to work out why people want to be famous and get in the paper. In the newspaper office Tony is hounded by talker of bullshit and head of advertising, Kath (Diane Morgan), Sandy the new reporter and Tony find some common ground and actually get on as she begins to understand his attitude and straight talking, not caring demeanour.

After Life Anne

Matt drops George round at Tony’s place and the two hit it off. Taking George to a cafe for something to eat, Tony gets into an argument over why he can’t order a meal from the kids menu for himself but manages to get one over on the obnoxious waitress. Back at Tony’s place and Matt is late in picking up George… and Tony has Julian coming round with the heroin. After giving Tony a cannabis joint with heroin (as it’s safer than injecting), Tony passes out as Julian helps himself to Tony’s money from his wallet and leaves.

Episode 3

Just about managing to remember that Julian stole from him last night, Tony confronts the druggie on the street and learns he has spent the money on more drugs. Tony meets prostitute… sorry sex worker, Daphne aka ‘Roxy’ (Roisin Conaty) who is a friend of Julian and will do anything for £50. Tony hires her and takes her back to his place, but it’s not sex that he’s after. Tony spends £50 and asks Daphne to clean his house. The pair chat and Daphne opens up and tells Tony all about her life and teaches him a thing or two about sex worker myths.

On another visit to his father, the subject of Lisa is brought up again and nurse Emma suggests that Tony should just humour his father always asking to see the dead Lisa. Emma also gives Tony a few home truths about his attitude towards other people. Tony and Anne meet at the graveyard again and she imparts some worldly advice on losing someone close. Visiting his psychiatrist again, Tony gets some pointless advice… stop feeling sad. Matt arranges a works outing to a new comedy club that night. Meanwhile, Brian (David Earl) is (as Tony calls him) the ‘local nutter’ who wants to be in the newspaper. He brings what he claims is Freddie Mercury’s tooth, which Tony dismisses.

In one of her videos, Lisa tells Tony to take the dog to the beach for a walk. He does and Brandy enjoys herself, running around, playing catch. But Tony has other ideas, just walk into the sea, kill himself that way. As Brandy sits on the beach, Tony tries to kill himself again only for Brandy to begin barking. He can’t so it, he can’t leave his best friend so Tony gets out of the water. At the comedy club, a comedian begins making jokes about someone committing suicide. Noticing Tony isn’t enjoying the jokes, the comic picks him out in an attempt to ridicule him… big mistake. Tony just unloads, calmly, and tells the comic how his wife died of cancer and how he wants to kill himself, putting the comic in his place. Matt begins to really worry about Tony’s frame of mind.

After Life Comedy Club

Julian turns up at Tony’s place with a peace offering… more drugs. Tony thinks they have a lot in common until Julian sets him straight as they share a cannabis/heroin spliff.

Episode 4

Tony’s battle with postman Pat and his issue with not putting post though through the letterbox continues. Tony and Lenny cover more inane local news stories, one at the same hospital where Lisa died. Tony’s degrading of his job continues as he asks just why Sandy wants to be a journalist. Matt reveals that he has set Tony up on a blind date, a date he really doesn’t want to go on because he’d rather be dead with Lisa and resents Matt for trying to interfere with his life.

Tony visits his dad again and apologises to Emma for his attitude and behaviour. The two bond over the rather risque behaviour of Ray recently. Tony confides in Emma that he’s being set up on a blind date and she suggested he should go. At the graveyard, widow Anne offers Tony some dating advice and help as Tony agrees to go on the date. Sandy takes Tony shopping for date clothes and he realises just how out of touch he is. Tony gives Sandy some rare positive advice on her career. Bumping into Daphne on the street, she convinces Tony to give her the keys to his house as his ‘cleaner’ in front of Sandy, where as she most probably wants to use the house for her sex work. When Tony finally returns, worried at exactly what she has done in is home, he finds Daphne has completely cleaned his house and for free too.

Tony goes on the date and his date calls him out on his suicidal tendencies, claiming he’s putting it on. She ridicules Tony for putting his dog first after claiming Brandy is the reason he hasn’t killed himself yet. After ending the terrible date, Tony confronts a pair of muggers on a bike who try to steal a woman’s purse. They drop a claw hammer they were using as a weapon and Tony picks it up. Back at Tony’s place, Julian turns up again with more drugs. The two philosophise as Julian reveals more about his life. Julian tells Tony how he wants to kill himself with drugs after all he has been through if only he could afford it. Tony gives him a large sum of cash and Julian leaves, stopping off at a drug dealer with the intent to end his own life.

Episode 5

Walking past the school, Tony learns that his nephew, George is being bulled. Tony threatens to kill the 10 year old bully with the hammer he took from the muggers. At the nursing home, Tony tells Emma his his date was a disaster and the two agree it’s best to be single. Matt tells Tony that Julian has been found dead from a heroin overdose and Tony confesses that he was the one who gave Julian the money. Tony makes a second visit to the nursing home, not so much to visit his father, but more so to talk to Emma… but he has nothing much to say.

Tony and and Lenny cover a story about a woman who makes rice pudding with her own breast milk and bread with her virginal yeast. Top-notch journalism. Tony sends postman Pat a postcard to be delivered to his (Tony’s) place to prove that Pat keeps reading Tony’s post. After another fruitless visit to his psychiatrist, Tony puts an annoying street clipboard warrior in his place. The local nutter, Brian finally convinces Tony put him in the paper. Taking Tony, Lenny and Sandy to his house, Brian shows off his rather worrying hoarding. Tony says there is no story to publish, not even for a free, local non-story newspaper and leaves but Sandy stays wanting to find a story as Brian ‘entertains’ Lenny and Sandy with an off-beat puppet show.

Matt calls Tony into the newspaper office as he received a call from the school about a man threatening to kill a 10 yer old boy. The two have a heated debate over why Tony acts like this and Matt says that if Tony continues his destructive behaviour, he can no longer see his nephew. Tony meets Anne at the graveyard again looking for advice about how to deal with the pain he is in and she seems to get through to him… a bit. Back at the newspaper, it seems Sandy did find a story to write about Brian. She shows her story to Tony who thinks it’s brilliant, worth publishing. He even suggests it could be front page material.

Tony meets up with Daphne and offers her a shoulder after the death of Julian.

Episode 6

Matt asks Tony to cover a story about a baby who looks like Hitler. Finding a fatal flaw in the story Tony picks it apart. As stupid as the story is, Tony finds some humour in it and begins to lighten up. The newspaper talking bullshit machine, Kath begins to question Tony on his lack of religious belief. She tries to put up a good argument but Tony manages to easily answer all her queries. Tony goes to the crematorium to see off Julian but misses the service. Daphne is there and Tony says how he is going to ask Emma out on a date as Tony slowly begins to see a way out of his depression.

At the nursing home, Ray’s Alzheimer’s disease is getting worse, thinking Tony is someone called Charlie for sometime… he eventually remembers Tony as his son… kind of. Tony finally calls his psychiatrist out on his bullshit and gets shot of him as he was doing nothing to help with Tony’s life anyway. Tony learns that Matt’s marriage is on the rocks and talks to him offering some help. Realising how much of an awkward pain he has been to everyone, Tony begins to apologise and tries to right the wrongs he has been responsible for since Lisa’s death.

Tony goes back to the nursing home and asks Emma out on a date. She doesn’t say yes, but she doesn’t say no either and Tony leaves her to think about it. Tony and Anne meet at the graveyard again and she revels how happy she is despite being a widow. Anne comes out with more worldly advice that really gives Tony a lot to contemplate as he realises that life is actually worth living.

After Life Emma

Emma agrees to the date and the two walk off into the sun as Tony finally finds happiness after Lisa.

Overall

I could do this the short way. After Life is one of the most amazing pieces of modern TV.

The longer version is more worthy though. I laughed, I cried. After Life features some of the best writing I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a TV show… ever. Now, this show will not be for everyone. There is that Ricky Gervais humour, that use of swearing… lots of harsh swearing, he can be a bit preachy too and that style of humour is not for everyone. But under the crassness of some of the jokes is a real, emotive story about a man struggling with the loss of a loved one.

The dialogue between the characters feels very real and often heartbreaking, even when it’s being funny and lighthearted. The way Ricky as penned these scripts and story is amazing, truly masterful work. The characters are all memorable, from the main cast to the secondary and peripheral ones. The tricky subject of depression is handled very well and the pit Tony finds himself in is completely believable, even when he’s being his arsehole best, he’s still utterly charming. You will go from hating this guy to loving him and back again. The acting throughout is top-drawer stuff, even Brandy (Anti) the dog puts in a great performance.

The subject matter may not appeal most people, especially if you are currently going through a loss yourself. Yet some may even find it a rather cathartic release. After Life takes a very prickly subject matter and yet presents it in such an engrossing and endearing way.

“But get this through your head. I’d rather be nowhere with her than somewhere without her, all right?”

–  Tony Johnson

So here we are with series 2. Now, I just re-watched the first series and loved it just as much as the first time, but I do have some trepidation going into this second series. See, I feel the first one ended perfectly, Tony made amends for all his wrongs, he apologised to those he upset and (possibly) found happiness with Emma. Roll credits, a perfect ending. As I write this bit right here, I’ve not yet seen any of series 2 (except a trailer) and I’m just kind of concerned it’s going to be a bit superfluous.

Tony’s journey in series 1 was (for want of a better word) perfect. A miserable story told beautifully that ended just as it should have. In my mind, there is no need for another series. One and done. So I’m not really sure if I’m looking forward to seeing this second series to be honest. I’m sure it wont be terrible or anything, I just feel it’s going to have to undo several things resolved in the first series for Tony’s story to continue, a bit of retcon if you will.

After Life Poster 2

Well, here I go. All 6 episodes of Series 2 of After Life… I’ll offer my thoughts at the end.

Series 2
Episode 1

So Tony and Emma didn’t really work out, they’re friends and nothing more because he’s still not over losing Lisa and their dog, Brandy is the only thing keeping him sane. Everyone is still pretty much where they were before, no one has moved on any… except for nut case Brian who now deliverers the newspaper. Tony and and Lenny cover a story about the oldest woman in Tambury and what a mouth she has on her too. Tony is still in his depressive funk and decides he needs to be more Zen. While Matt’s marriage is all but over and he is living in the newspaper office.

After Life Old Lady

Tony visits his dad and the Alzheimer’s is getting worse as Ray doesn’t recognise Tony as his son (again). Anne is still at the graveyard as her and Tony exchange wisdom, Tony confesses he’s still no better then he was but no longer thinks about suicide anymore and really wants to try to move on and improve as a person. Matt begins to see Tony’s old (and useless) psychiatrist in order to help him with his marriage problems. 

Postman Pat stops off at Tony’s place to ‘use’ his bathroom, which tests Tony’s patience. Tony and Matt attend a Zen meditation session and the instructor’s personal habits bring out the worst in Tony as he loses his cool, which puts Matt on edge. Tony begins to drink more than usual as he gets emotional over an old video of Lisa.

Episode 2

Tony does his best to stick to his goal of improving but it gets harder each day. At the newspaper office, Matt quizzes Tony on his drinking, a talk Tony doesn’t take much notice of and quickly deflects. Kath starts badgering Tony on her beliefs again and of course, Tony makes short work of her inane rantings. At the graveyard, Tony tells Anne how everything went wrong at the Zen session and how he decided to get drunk afterwards.

James (Ethan Lawrence), the son of Lenny’s girlfriend is taken on at The Tambury Gazette on work experience. James suggests that the newspaper could cover the local amateur dramatics, The Tambury Players, an idea Sandy thinks is a great one. Tony, Lenny and Sandy all turn up to find a story where Tony meets a face from his past. With help of the organiser of the amateur dramatics, Sandy decides to write a gossip column in the paper and also cover their up and coming cabaret show. Matt goes to see his psychiatrist again for more completely pointless help.

At the nursing home, Emma is getting very friendly with the son of one of her patients, Simon (Bill Ward). something Tony begins to notice. Tony admits he’s trying to move on, trying to improve to Emma, but he’s just not ready to move on from Lisa yet. Back at Tony’s place, he and Daphne share a meal. Tony realises just how useless he is without Lisa after cooking a terrible meal. As a favour to Pat, Tony puts in a word for him with Daphne in an attempt to get them together.

Episode 3

Tony tells Pat all about Daphne, including the fact she’s a sex worker. That tit-bit of info just makes Pat more interested and a date between the two is arranged. Tony’s nephew, George begins to worry that his parents are going to divorce and Tony sets his mind at ease. It’s Sandy’s 30th birthday and she’s feeling down about getting older, Tony does his best to cheer her up, but the topic of discussion soon turns to Lisa.

After Life Lisa

Emma and Simon seem to be getting on better at the nursing home, as Tony learns… perhaps a little jealousy is creeping in? Emma confesses she likes Simon, but she doesn’t feel the same way about him as she does about Tony. Just a shame he’s too scared to commit. Back at the psychiatrist’s, Matt is told he needs to get back out there and find a woman. Meanwhile, Tony and Lenny talk to a woman for the paper who claims she can talk to cats. As crazy as the woman seems, she has a few nuggets of wisdom for Tony that gets him thinking.

The owner of The Tambury Gazette, Paul (Peter Egan) tells Matt that the newspaper is losing money and he wants to close it down and sell the building. Everyone will be out of a job if The Tambury Gazette ends publication and Sandy takes the news badly. Tony promises to save the paper and keep everyone (especially Sandy) in a job. Matt thinks Sandy’s gossip column could save the paper… with a bit of embellishment. Matt asks Tony to join him for a drink and back him up on his desire to find another woman. Down the pub, they bump into the psychiatrist and his rather obnoxious friends and the night doesn’t go very well… especially when Emma turns up with Simon.

Pat and Daphne meet up for their date. The two really hit it off and a second date is arranged. Tony consoles himself on his bad night in a bottle of wine and more videos of Lisa back at his place with Brandy for company.

Episode 4

Pat and Daphne arrive at Tony’s place for breakfast… uninvited of course. Back at the psychiatrist, Matt gets more useless help as his life unravels as the shrink is more interested in talking about his sex life than Matt’s failing marriage. Tony and Lenny interview a woman addicted to cosmetic surgery for the newspaper with disturbing and funny results. Back at the office, Kath asks Matt out on a ‘date’ to the cabaret being held by the amateur dramatics society, which he pencils in just to get rid of her and then tries to use Tony’s suicidal tendencies as an excuse not to go.

Tony spends some quality time with his father at the nursing home before talking to Emma about her and Simon in the pub last night. She really likes Tony, but says that she can’t put her life on hold because he still can’t move on from Lisa. Matt’s wife turns up at the office and he asks her to go with him to the cabaret to get out of going with Kath and maybe to help patch up their relationship? Noticing she is fed up, Tony asks Kath out for a coffee to try and cheer her up. Taking a detour to the shops, Tony buys a bottle of wine and after drinking half a bottle on the streets, he heads to the graveyard again to talk to Anne who tells him he shouldn’t drink alone. Tony breaks down taking about Lisa, saying how he feels like nothing without her. He strives to be ‘normal’ but just can’t do it.

Tony bumps into Paul, the owner of The Tambury Gazette and asks him to not close down the paper and sell the building. But the money he will make from selling the building is too great to turn down. Tony manages to convince him to hang on for a year and give the newspaper another chance, if things don’t improve, he’ll sell it then. Sandy is covering the cabaret for the newspaper when Tony tells her that the paper and building aren’t being sold… for at least a year anyway.

Episode 5

Tony has a particularly worrying visit with his dad, asking Emma if he’s okay as he looks a bit worse for wear. She tells him that he’s fine and that he has his good and bad days, this is a bad day. Tony asks Emma if she wants to go to the amateur cabaret with him, but she’s working so can’t go. At the graveyard, Tony and Anne share a few laughs. After asking Anne if she’s lonely, Tony invites her to the cabaret, Paul also agrees to tag along.

After Life Ray

It’s the night of the big (and very poor) armature dramatics cabaret and everyone is there… except Emma who is back at the nursing home looking after Ray. Tony tries to, very slyly, set up Anne with Paul, which doesn’t quite work out. Brian is on stage trying his best and his version of ‘comedy’, which goes down as badly as you’d expect. The whole show is a complete disaster. Emma sends Tony a message for him to call her, he leaves the show and phones her… she tells him that his father has died. A very clearly upset Tony begins to reminisce over his childhood to Emma back at the nursing home. Tony finally admits he feelings toward her.

Back at his place, Brandy does her best to cheer Tony up.

Episode 6

At the psychiatrists, Matt says how his marriage could be on the mend and it turns out that maybe the psychiatrist needs a shrink himself. Sandy sets about writing her story in the paper covering the cabaret last night. Tony delivers the news to Matt his dad died. Now his father has gone, Tony has even less to live for, he asks for space from his friends and co-workers, not sympathy.  With Ray now dead, Tony has no reason to come to the nursing home and see Emma anymore, but Tony tries to rationalise their (lack of a) relationship.

Daphne pops round to see Tony and worries about his state of mind after finding a bottle of sleeping pills, concerned he’s back on the suicide idea. At the newspaper’s office, Kath didn’t get the memo that Tony doesn’t want sympathy. Tony and Lenny cover a story about a 50 year old man who identifies as an 8 year old girl.

After Life Tony

At Ray’s funeral, Tony delivers a rather moving eulogy and thanks Emma for looking after his father. Tony is home alone, just him, Brandy and another bottle of wine. After watching some old family videos of Ray and Lisa, Tony gets very emotional and rediscovers those sleeping pills…  And… that’s where I’m leaving this one. Despite my earlier SPOILER warning, I just don’t want to spoil how this all ends… But I will say it’s a hell of a heavy and emotional ending.

Overall

So I may as well get right to this. I can’t honestly say I enjoyed this series as much as the first. I’ve been pin-balling around in my mind why that is… and I think I have it. But before I explain that…

Series 2 has been just as funny/offensive and just as emotional as the previous one. I decided to not cover the end of the last episode in my round up simply because I feel you need to experience it for yourself. After everything Tony has been through, you need to not have the end ruined. The last few minutes of the episode are extremely satisfying and my watching all the episodes back to back made it even more impactful.

Also watching the episodes in one long run also made me realise how much Ricky took from his old XFM/podcast broadcasts that he used to do with Stephen Merchant and Karl Dilkington. Honestly, direct lines of dialogue, conversations and even character traits have been lifted from their conversations. It’s pretty clear that Tony is based on (an exaggerated) Ricky himself. Matt is definitely has some Stephen Merchant about him and the annoying Kath with her inane questions and beliefs is Karl Pilkington to a T. The idea of postman Pat reading Tony’s mail comes from a chat the trio had 20 years ago. Anne telling Tony the fable of the frog and the scorpion also came from those podcasts… look, I could go on and on, but if you go back and listen to their old chats, you’ll find loads of stuff from them that have been incorporated into After Life.

Series 2 really has some great moments… which is partly why I don’t think it’s as good as the first. This one is some great moments, where as series 1 was just simply 6 great episodes. Yup, series 2 is still a brilliant bit of TV, but it certainly lacks what the first series had in places.

One of my concerns about this series was the fact Tony realised he was a prick and needed to move on from Lisa, not forget about her, just move on. The fact he apologised to those he had wronged at the end of series 1 and the fact he and Emma went out on a date was something I thought Ricky may have to retcon to continue the story. Thankfully Ricky Gervais doesn’t hit the reset button… but he does give it a bit of a tickle. I don’t know, but the slight U-turn of the character at the start of this series and the fact he then has to try to better himself… again just took me out of the story a bit.

But onto the main reason I didn’t like this one as much as the first. The whole series felt like an afterthought, maybe it was? It felt like Ricky hadn’t planned on a second series so by making Tony find redemption and a slice of happiness at the end of the first series, he had painted himself into a corner, hence the tickling of the reset button. A lot of the main plot points of series 2 felt, from an organic storytelling perspective, as if they should’ve really happened in the middle of series 1. I just think most of the story in this series would’ve made more sense in series 1 as apposed to being here.

Yes I enjoyed this series, but just not as much as the first. The humour is there, the characters are there and the writing is just as good, if not, in places better…. but for me, it just didn’t feel right as a whole series. Not as much as the first one did anyway. I’d have been more than happy if there hadn’t been a second one (as good as it is). For me, Tony’s realisation at the end of series 1 of how he’s been acting, his apologising to everyone, the little things he did to make people smile and then with he and Emma walking off together was just prefect. It didn’t spell everything out, but it gave us the viewers just enough information to paint our own future for the character and I really liked that.

As much as I did enjoy series 2, for what it was, it still felt superfluous. Not bad, not at all… just kind of unnecessary. I loved series 1 and I loved re-watching it for this article and I can see myself watching it again in the future. But I just don’t get that with series 2, I’m really not sure I’ll re-watch this one. I may re-watch the odd episode for the moments I really enjoyed, but not the series as a whole. As much as I enjoyed it, I’m happier with Tony walking off with Emma at the end of series 1 and me painting my own future for him than the one Ricky has painted for me here.

After Life Tony And Brandy

But all that aside and looking at the whole damn thing. After Life is an amazing piece of TV. The writing is sharp and bitter, it’s funny and heart breaking. Ricky Gervais as a writer and director has done his very best work here… and I don’t think he will ever better it. As an actor, he had me laughing at Tony’s attitude toward others, his manner of speaking, his directness was like Victor Meldrew times infinity. The emotions Tony feels through the series, I felt them too. I felt happy for him, sorry for him and I cried with him too. After Life is Ricky Gervais’ Sistine Chapel, yeah it has a few cracks, but it’s still an astonishingly beautiful piece of art that everyone should see. It’s (almost) perfection in 12, half hour episodes.

As I said in the intro to this article, I’ve never really liked Ricky as an actor… but this? This is a whole different level and I’m happy to eat my own words. Quite honestly, Ricky Gervais deserves every bit of praise, every award After Life is sure to win.

After Life Tony And Lisa

You’re in lock-down, you’ve not got much else to do. So binge watch After Life.

“I used to drink when I was happy. That was all right, but now I drink when I’m sad. That’s not so good cos it happens more often.”

–  Tony Johnson

Honor Blackman

Yes I know I’m a little bit late on this, but I’ve been busy with other writing projects. Still, I had to make time to remember Honor Blackman.

Honor Blackman was born on the 22nd of August, 1925. When Honor turned 15, her parents paid for acting lessons for her at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While holding down a clerical assistant job and following her graduation from acting school, Honor appeared in a few stage plays in small roles. Hungry for more, she began seeking out a career in acting.

Her film acting career started when she appeared as Emma in the 1947 film, Fame Is the Spur, in a minor, non-speaking uncredited role. But it was the 60s when Honor’s film career really took off. A very memorable performance as the Greek goddess of women, Hera in the classic Jason and the Argonauts from 1963 got her noticed and she began to land more roles in both TV and the movies. In 1968, she starred in the western flick Shalako, alongside Sean Connery… not for the first time.

Honor also went on to find TV fame with The Avengers. Bowler hat and umbrella used as a sword The Avengers not Iron Man punching Thanos in the face The Avengers. A show where Honor played Cathy Gale, the first female partner of slick British spy, John Steed. Of course one can’t talk about Honor and The Avengers without mentioning…

Honor also appeared in the greatest TV show of all time Columbo, alongside the legend that was Peter Falk in the Dagger of the Mind episode. Other TV roles include Dr Who, Minder on the Orient Express, a spin-off from the British TV show Minder, Casualty and perhaps her most famous TV role (that wasn’t The Avengers), The Upper Hand. The British version of the popular US sit-com, Who’s the Boss?

Honor Blackman’s acting career continued through the 80s and 90s and even into the 2000s. 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary featured Honor Blackman and she also appeared in the comedy/zombie flick Cockneys vs Zombies in 2012. Her screen acting career spanned eight decades.

Of course, I’ve saved the best for last. Honor Blackman was my all time favourite Bond girl in the quintessential James Bond flick, Goldfinger (1964). There’s just something(s) about this particular Bond film that make it a classic.

Pussy Galore

You have the best actor playing James Bond with Sean Connery, then you have Bond iconography such as the Aston Martin DB5 with all it’s gadgets which has gone down in cinematic history. There’s the greatest Bond song of all time sung by Shirley Bassey and then there’s the bad guy, Goldfinger himself with that immortal comeback line…

“No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”

–  Auric Goldfinger

Finally, we have Honor Blackman herself as the greatest Bond girl ever, Pussy Galore. She was sexy, straight talking and tough. Her introduction to the film is stuff of legend, the greatest Bond girl moment ever.

That sultry smile as Bond wakes up, those deep blue eyes and of course, that raspy voice. Honor was amazing in Goldfinger and more than held her own against Sean Connery.

Honor died of natural causes aged 94 in Lewes, East Sussex on the 5th of April, 2020.

Honor Blackman 2

“I’m told leather drives men up the wall. I like wearing it because it because it feels nice.”

– Honor Blackman

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 Dominik 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.

Total golden joysticks won – 24

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

–  Dominik Diamond