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Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Anti-Snowflake Rant

Now, I’m all for equality and believe people shouldn’t discriminate against others. But recently, it has started to become increasingly more and more tricky to maintain that ideology. The rise of the snowflake generation is seriously something I believe that needs to be fought against.

See, I recently came across this article. Please do give the article a read, but I’ll give you the general gist anyway. So, basically some waste of sperm on Twitter has said that a description of a fictional character in the game, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla  does not promote equality, that the character’s facial disfigurement is wrong, that using the word ‘disfigured’ is unacceptable.

There was a little extra to the message, where the idiot claimed their girlfriend, who just also happened to have scars on her face from burns, saw the description in question and was upset. Accusing the description as being ‘ableist’. but that follow up message seems to have disappeared, or at least I can’t find it now. Worryingly, Ubisoft, the makers of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla have folded instantly promising to remove the ‘offensive’ descriptive in an update. 

AC TWITTER

My question is… seriously? 

This is an Assassin’s Creed game right? An adult series of games that use historical settings and characters to tell the story. Games that are notably full of violence, murders, blood and gore… but describing a fictional character, who has been horrifically burnt as being ‘disfigured’ is a sore point? Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as the title suggests, is set during the Viking era. The Vikings weren’t exactly known for their pleasant behaviour. I mean, here’s a little taster of the kind of gameplay the game has:

Notice the rating at the start for mature audiences? If you want to just skip to the 3:55 mark and the ‘fight’ part of this video, you’ll see just how bloody and violent the game is. People being murdered with a hatchet, throats get cut open, swords are used to decapitate people, axes are thrown into bodies, animals are hacked to death and so much more. Here’s a quote taken from that very video:

“Making a game about Vikings, we really wanted to deliver on the brutality of the combat.”

And they do indeed do just that, brutal is the perfect way to describe the fighting in the game. It’s full for blood and gore… yet the describing of a burn victim as being ‘disfigured’ is an issue? The word disfigured is the absolute perfect descriptive to use here too. Not just perfect, but also, not in any way offensive, nor does it suggest ableism either. Not once in the deception in question does it even slightly imply that the character is in away way impeded by the disfigurement… so where is this alleged ‘ableism’ then?

SIMON WESTON

Allow me to introduce you to Simon Weston. A man who fought in the Falklands War, where he suffered horrific burns after the ship he was on was bombed. Forty-eight men were killed and ninety-seven wounded. One of those being Simon Weston, who suffered burns to almost half of his entire body. Long story short, and Weston went on to be one a huge personality on TV and radio, he’s done amazing work for charities, become a spokesperson for veterans and been awarded countless awards and honours. A man who suffered some truly horrific burns… yet he refers to himself as being disfigured.

Now I know one was hero does not speak for every burns victim on the planet. Just as one idiot on Twitter also doesn’t speak for every burns victim on the planet either. I just wanted to show that being a burns victim and being disfigured does not equate to ableism.

Even more insulting is that, if you want to check out the Twitter profile of the delicate little snowflake who ‘complained’, they’ve promised to ‘ruin’ other games (his words, not mine) in a similar manner. This prick isn’t fighting for equality, he just wants to throw his toys out of the pram, cry and be noticed. Certainly someone who shouldn’t be playing an adult rated game. And yet, Ubisoft have given in without even the slightest argument, apologised and said they will remove the ‘offering’ description. It’s pathetic. Yet, as I write this, Ubisoft have not responded to my similar complaint about the game…

What kind of example does giving into Twitter idiots set? All Ubisoft are doing is opening the door to more and more asinine complaints. Now, I’m not saying that genuine complaints shouldn’t be made or investigated, cos they should. Just that, this kind of crap should be thrown out by  companies like this. It all reminds me of another Twitter idiot who got a sandwich pulled and then renamed from a shop because it was ‘sexist’ because it dared to use the word ‘Gentleman’s’ in its name. .. but products with female associations were fine? Just getting back to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, so if someone with facial scaring can not be correctly described as being disfigured, where does it end? Will we no longer be able to describe people as having ginger hair, no longer can we call people short, describe their gender (we’re almost there anyway), can’t mention eye colour?

I actually have a sneak-peek at the next Assassin’s Creed game, an exclusive for my readers. It’s going to be called Assassin’s Creed: Snowflake. It’s set in 2020 and you don’t play as a ruthless assassin any more, you play as a Twitter user who pretends to be offered over nothing just to get attention. There are no weapons in the game, just a laptop that you use to send inane Tweets to game publishers and their employees  in order to get them to censor their work. In fact, I even have an exclusive description of the first target you go after in the game:

Human, no features, no gender, no  hair, no height, no anything. Just a human.
FACELESS

This is seriously worrying. You don’t dictate to artists or pressure how they should create and present their art. When things like this happen, it’s another step in the wrong direction. I’m against censorship on any level (legalities aside) and giving into an obvious pathetic Twitter troll is not the way forward. But here’s the thing, I’m not so much annoyed at the Twitter knob who started this whole thing, but more annoyed with Ubisoft themselves for just rolling over and taking it up the arse from said Twitter knob. There is NOTHING offensive about the description used for this fictional character in this overtly violent game. And if anyone is going to be offended by correctly describing a factional character in a game as being ‘disfigured’, then you seriously need to get a new hobby. One prat moans on Twitter and changes have to be made… but what about the other several million people playing the game… or does Twitter set the standards now?

“Writers for games and otherwise need to do better.”

No, Twitter wankers like you need to just fuck off, you snowflake twat.

So, I’ve decided that if Ubisoft are going to pussy out and change the non-offensive and completely correct descriptive of a fictional character in an overtly violent game set in the Vikings era, chock-full of killing, that I’ll not be buying the game or any Ubisoft title now. I have my own moral compass and I quite honestly can’t give money to a studio who panders to snowflakes like this. This also goes for any other publisher who wrongly decides to give into Twitter bullies. I’ll spend my money elsewhere instead.

 

Game Review: Dirt 5

As one of the world’s greatest radical free thinkers, moral philosophers and finest word-smiths ever once stated:

“Wanna get rowdy.
Gonna get a little unruly.
Get it fired up in a hurry.
Wanna get dirty.
It’s about time that I came to start the party.
Sweat dripping over my body.
Dancing getting just a little naughty.
Wanna get dirty.”

– Christina Aguilera

Yes, I do ‘wanna get dirty’ Christina and I am going to too, as I look at Codemasters Dirt 5, the latest in the Dirt franchise of racers.

This series of games has a bit of a confusing past. Originally a spin-off from the successful Colin McRae Rally franchise and called Colin McRae: Dirt. The Colin McRae name was dropped after 2009’s Colin McRae: Dirt 2 following the tragic death of McRae in 2007. The games then just became known as Dirt (insert number here). But just to make things that little bit more confusing, the Dirt series had it’s own spin-offs too, Dirt: Showdown, Dirt Rally and Dirt Rally 2.0. All in all, there have been a total of seven Dirt games (even more if you include the original Colin McRae titles) in the series, not including this new one, Dirt 5, which is the eighth game. Make sense? Anyway, about the game itself.

The Game

As the title may suggest, Dirt 5 is not a ‘normal’ racing game. You won’t find a showcase of exotic supercars and famed race circuits here. No tearing around Monza in a Ferrari F-50 à la Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. This is all about off-road racing, not necessarily rallying as such, just not racing on roads and race circuits. In fact, there isn’t any actual proper rally mode in Dirt 5. What you get instead are various disciplines/events based on off-road racing, but more on those later. First up, what does this game offer?

Well, if you’ve ever played any notable racing game in the last few years, then you’ll pretty much know what to expect here. You’ve got your basic game modes. Arcade gives you both Time Trial and Free Play. Time Trial gives you the choice of any of the cars and tracks, then it’s just you against the clock, going for fast times. This is a great way to get used to the tracks and cars without having to worry about winning (or losing). Free Play races are a single race events on any of the tracks. With both Time Trials or Free Play, you’re given a decent amount of options to customise your experience too. There are ten different locales to choose to race in including (but not only) Brazil, Greece, Morocco, USA and South Africa. Then each locale has from four to twelve tracks/events to race. You can customise each race with what class of car to use (super lites, modern rally, cross raid, 80s and 90s rally and more), with each class having multiple cars to choose from. Then you can change the weather, clear skies, rain, snow or dynamic weather. Select the time of day from dawn to night racing, you can also choose the speed at which time passes.

You can even customise your chosen vehicles. Change its base colour, add patterns, decals, sponsor logos and more. It’s not exactly Forza Motorsport levels of car customisation, but to be honest, that kind of deep car design isn’t really needed here. What is here, is quick and easy to use. You’ll be making your own custom liveries in no time with little to no fuss.

DIRT 5 ACTION

There’s a great mode called Playgrounds, here you get to drive around and have fun in custom made Gymkhana arenas. Don’t know what Gymkhana is? Well just click this link, but to put it in basic terms, Gymkhana is an event where you can take a car and throw it around an open area full of obstacles. Slaloms, jumps, donuts, drifts, anything you really want to do all in the name of big fun. In Playgrounds mode, you can try out other people’s custom created Gymkhana events and areas, of which there are already plenty of, even though the game has not yet been released (as of writing). Or if you feel up to it, you can create your own. There’s a very simple, easy to use creator mode which allows you to knock up your own OTT events with a pretty intuitive build mode. Place a start gate, fill the area with jumps, banked turns, flaming rings to jump through, barriers to help create a tight turns, numerous obstacles… even loop-the-loops and so much more, then place a finishing gate and enjoy. With very little time and effort, I was able to knock up a fairly rudimentary, stupidly silly but enjoyable event. I think those who love to create will get a real kick out of the Playgrounds feature.

So it’s on to the big one, Career mode. For me, this is where the real meat of any racing games lies. I’ve played a few racers in my time, and very few of them have a truly engaging career mode. Dirt 5‘s is actually pretty damn good. There’s a lot here to unwrap. You start be creating your avatar, nationality, race number. You can even create a player card, a kind of ID for your character. Choose a backdrop card from various designs, a lanyard, nickname, a sticker and an effect to give the whole thing a bit of pizzazz. But the main course are the races and events.

DIRT 5 ACTION 2

As I previously mentioned, there are various disciplines/events to play around with. Ultra cross, Rally Raid, Land Rush, Stampede, Ice Breakers, Sprints, Path Finder and of course Gymkhana. To be honest, a few of the events are fairly indistinguishable from others and just feel like lap or checkpoint races… just with a bit of a rally twist. But there are some pretty stand out events that really impressed me. From racing over the frozen East River of Roosevelt Island, New York to trying to make my way up Dadès Gorges, Morocco in a huge wheeled rock bouncer. The Career mode here will have you playing though all of the events as you progress to become champion.

Career mode also features sponsors, with different sponsors offering different pay-outs and bonuses. Pay you’ll ned to buy new cars for when the events get trickier later down the line. And there are a tonne of vehicles here to play around with. I was going to do a car count, but with all the different disciplines, each having their own set of cars… I kind of got lost in it all. But let’s just say, there’s a lot of cars here. I’ve not finished Career mode as I write this, not even close, but I have put a fair few hours into it and still not bored. Always looking forward to what the game is going to throw at me next.

DIRT 5 ACTION 3

Graphically, Dirt 5 is a real looker too. The environments can go from the lush greens and quite frankly, beauty of China with cherry blossom leaves falling, to the snowy slopes and icy climate of Norway and the Northern Lights, or the rugged rocks and very brown-ness but sunny climate of Arizona.

Then there’s the weather effects, for me, a true test of a racing game’s graphics and Dirt 5 does not disappoint. Dynamic weather means that you can start a race in the dry, but give it a lap or two and it’ll be chucking it down with rain. That rain affects the race too as the already muddy tracks get more and more wet, more muddy, to the point where they can become waterlogged. Puddles form and grow, the tyre tracks from previous laps fill with water. The snow is really effective too. There’s a race quite early in Career mode where you start on a track lightly covered in snow, the snow continues to fall. As the race progresses, the snow settles and by the time your on the last lap, the track has gone from a light dusting to several inches of the white stuff. Mud gets caked to the cars as they slide and drift around corners, pyrotechnics and lasers shoot into the sky at the side of the circuits, providing some great background effects and confetti cannons litter the tracks in bright coloured paper and more.

DIRT 5 ACTION 4

There’s also an online mode, but to be honest, I’ve not played it yet. I may update this review to reflect my views on that later when I’ve played it. But if the rest of the game is anything to go by, I’m sure it’ll be great.

Overall

Confession time, this is the first Dirt game I’ve put some decent time into. I’ve dabbled with some of the previous titles, but never really got onto them fully. Dirt 5, quite honestly, has really pulled me in. But there is a bit of a warning coming up. Dirt 5 is pure arcade action, previous titles did edge more toward the sim kind of racer. Never full simulation sure, but sim-like. This more arcadey approach could turn some Dirt fans off. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, there are no actual proper rally events. But on the other hand, others may find this one a lot more accessible to play.

Still, for me, this is the most fun I’ve had with a racing game for a while now. I’m really looking forward to finishing the Career, I’m sure I’ll also lose a lot of time making my own Gymkhana events. Plus, I’m pretty excited to see what Codemasters have planed for future DLCs. I think I’ll be getting a lot of play out of this one. If you want a bit of OTT rally-esque racing, then you can’t go wrong with Dirt 5. It’s fast, it’s frantic and it’s fantastic.

Game Review: Airplane Mode

Nonsense games (as I like to call them) have become rather popular over recent years. Titles like Goat Simulator, I Am Bread and Octodad: Dadliest Catch, et al. Those games that are really stupid and often offer completely pointless and irrelevant style gameplay. Games that put you in the shoes of weird and wonderful protagonists… or a slice of bread, and allow you to just play around with the game’s world and physics. While nonsense games have become en vogue recently, they’re not exactly new. Back in 1993 there was Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time game, and it was exactly what the title suggested. I think perhaps one of the more infamous nonsense games came from the unreleased, Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors for the Sega CD. While the game was never officially released, it has been leaked onto the interwebs. Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors was a collection of pointless mini-games, the most (in)famous one being Desert Bus. In it, you have to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, around a 415 mile trip… and you have to do it all in real time too. The bus can’t go any faster than 45mph and the in-game journey takes around eight hours of non-stop ‘play’ to complete. There’s no racing, no interactions, no traffic. Just you, an open desert road and a bus.

Well, developer Hosni Auji has thrown his pilot’s hat into the ring to try and make a nonsense, long haul travel game for a new generation, Airplane Mode. In the game, you are a passenger on a flight in economy class… and that’s about it really.

The Game

Your flight is from New York to Reykjavik, which takes around six hours, real-time remember. But if you don’t fancy that, then you can opt for a shorter New York to Nova Scotia, a two hour trip… and yes, I’ve spent the last few hours as a virtual airplane passenger just to to this review. I went for the latter, shorter flight, but I did stick it through till the end.

So, the game doesn’t bore you with having to wait around in the departure lounge, nor do you have to board, find your seat and store your luggage. Airplane Mode starts with you already in your seat… but you do have to go through all the pre-flight safety, taxi to the runway, etc. You even have to endure the pilot’s chit-chat they always do. Being stuck in an airplane seat in economy class offers you a few options. There’s the screen in the back of the seat in front of you. Just like real life, you can use it to watch movies, play games, check on flight info. You can even order your in-flight meal… oh yeah, you get fed on your flight.

FOOD

Aside from the screen, there’s the pocket on the back of the seat that houses the safety card you always get on flights. The magazine that has articles to read, endless ads for perfume, etc. And it’s all recreated in the game too, yes you can casually flick through the magazine and discover all sorts. There are even puzzles you can enjoy crosswords, sudoku and more.

I must admit, I couldn’t work out how to actually fill in said puzzles as you can’t use the keyboard to type in. So I just put the magazine back, a bit dismayed that I couldn’t actually interact with the puzzles. See, the game doesn’t tell you how to do anything, you just have to move the pointer around and click, see what works. That’s when I discovered my carry on luggage under the seat. My bag was then placed on the seat next to me and I could open it… and there it was, a pen I could pick up and use. Honestly, I felt like I had just discovered the Ark of the Covenant. I quickly picked the flight magazine back up and found not only could I now write with the pen to do the puzzles, I could write, draw and scribble freely.

Putting the magazine and pen back, I explored my bag some more. A novel, an actual novel I could read in game. Against the Grain (À rebours) by J K Huysmans, it’s a real book too that you can buy in real life. There was a USB cable, no idea what it was for, but I plugged it on to the USB slot in the chair regardless, shortly after, I discovered that you have a mobile phone. Yes, you can charge your in-game phone, it has a battery life and everything. So I left my phone charging while I turned my attention back to my bag.  A pair of Bluetooth headphones that you can use with the previously mentioned screen to hear what’s being played. Oh, and there’s also a blank note book that you can use to write and draw with the pen,  anything you like too…

DICK

Now I had my headphones working, I played around with the screen some more. There are three (public domain) films you can watch and even a Buggs Bunny cartoon. I kept exploring, but that was when the flight attendant came over and told me to do my seatbelt.

I began exploring my cramped space and found you can interact with the light and air-con above the seat. Close the blind in the window, pull down the tray, recline the seat. There’s even a sick bag and yes, it is useable too. The PA system interrupted my enjoyment of the Bugs Bunny cartoon as the captain spoke to detail me in on the flight, then after the safety video, we were off into the sky. Honestly, I was really quite impressed with how much detail and interaction there is… for a game where you sit in a seat of an airplane.

When we were firmly up and away, I noticed a little toilet symbol further down the aisle of the plane and I clicked on it. Yup, you can go to the toilet in the game and there’s even more interactions. Turn on the taps, get some soap, use paper towels, lift the toilet seat, flush the toilet. Even the baby changing table can be played with. After which pointless playing around, I returned back to my seat. There was a baby crying in the background, a few minutes later and we hit some turbulence. All of theses in-flight events are random too. You can even sometimes get a faulty screen that refuses to work properly.

PA

Anyway, after the flight attendant dished out the snacks and beer, which I got to choose, it was soon time to land. That’s when I decided to play around with my in-game phone and found even more stuff. Music, a camera option so you can take and even view pics, podcasts. You can listen to podcasts via your phone. I mean, I have told an abridged version of events here, but that two hour flight (no pun) flew by as I was too busy enjoying myself, playing around with all the little things the game allows you to. I’m still not sure that I found everything.

Overall

You know what? I actually really enjoyed this. Just remove the concept of you being stuck on a long haul flight and you have a fun little toybox to play around with here. Crosswords, sudoku, real films, in-flight magazine to read, a book, music to listen to and more. There are a few things that let the experience down. More puzzles in the magazine would be great. It seems to be the same puzzles in the magazine every time you play. I did restart the flight several times to check, even launched the longer six hour flight too. Every time I did, I got the exact same magazine with the exact same puzzles. So it would be nice to see some variation in the puzzles that are there and even add more variety of puzzles too. How about some spot the differences, word-searches, etc?

BOOK

Maybe some more (public domain) books? There’s loads of great, classic short stories and novels out there that are free to read which could be included in the game with ease and at no cost. More PD movies would be great. If they got that Bugs Bunny cartoon as PD, then there are plenty more that could be included. How about different classes? Being stuck in economy is something many of us are used to. So why not let us experience business class or even first class flights?

In all honesty, I really enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. If they add more features in future updates (see my suggestions), Airplane Mode could really get very interesting. In all honesty, it really is just a façade for being able to enjoy public domain works or draw cocks in a notebook, there’s nothing wrong with that either. I had a load of fun playing around with what the game offered, it just needs a bit more meat on the bones to add to it’s value. But what is here is surprisingly fun. I mean, just how many games can you think of where you can watch Bugs Bunny cartoons while drawing a picture of some huge (if somewhat angular) boobies?

BUGS

Game Review: 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin

I grew up watching seventies chop-socky flicks. Those distinctly cheesy, bad effects, badly dubbed, masters with long beards teaching students type of kung-fu films. Before Bruce Lee came along and revolutionised Hong Kong cinema, proving that kung-fu films could be so much more and even break down boundaries with Enter the Dragon, there was this unique brand of martial arts films that captured my heart from a young age.

SHAOLINS ROAD

Over the years, there have been a few games that have tried to emulate seventies kung-fu flicks. Titles like Shao-lin’s Road, Kung-Fu Master or more recently Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao, among others, have all tried to bring some of that Hong Kong, chop-socky love to gaming. From developer Sobaka Studio comes a new game hoping to capture some of that stylised kung-fu cinema magic with 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin. But is it Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury amazing or Jackie Chan’s New Fist of Fury atrocious?

The Plot

Set during the Chinese Year of the Water Monkey in 1572. You play as Wei Cheng, who’s parents were killed by Wokou (Chinese pirates) when Wei was a child. Taken in by his grandfather, Wei learns all about the family fishing business… as well as how to fight with a staff. Now a grown man, Wei’s village is attacked by bandits, his grandfather is killed and Wei is left for dead. Buddhist monks find Wei and nurse him back to health. This is when Wei learns those bandits were actually deadly Wokou. With the help of the monks, Wei sets out for revenge.

The Game

At heart, 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin is very basic scrolling beat ’em up fare. If you’ve ever played Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, Battletoads (just not the new one) or similar, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Move around the levels and smack the crap out of bad guys with various attacks. Even though 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin does have that basic style gameplay, there’s a lot more going on beneath which adds so many more layers to the gameplay.

9 MONKEYS OF SHAOLIN ACTION

You have your standard quick-light attack, a slower-heavy attack, a thrust raged attack and a dodge move. Then there’s a deflect/parry move which is used for defence, stringing together moves by mixing things up will build your combo score, bigger combos give you more points. Finish levels to earn reward points and use those points to spend on upgrades and for your moves. You can swap your standard staff weapon for something else, with different weapons having different modifiers and abilities. Special equip-able items and footwear, numerous variables that allow you to create a character they meets your own playstyle. These weapons and items are earned just by finishing the various levels ion the story.

There there are the additional attacks by holding down the left or right trigger buttons and pressing one of the three standard attacks. You’ll soon be learning acrobatic moves and magical attacks that will cause enemies to float, slow down and even pull enemies toward you, all of which can be upgraded. The story is split into five different chapters, each representing a clan of the Wokou that attacked your village. With each chapter featuring multiple levels and a boss fight. The levels themselves can be really creative and often offer something unique along the way, fight in a sawmill and you’ll find saw blades that need to be dodged, storms can bring lighting strikes that can hit you and the enemies, levels in long grass will slow you down and make enemies harder to see. Honestly, 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin really does offer a lot of little nuances that add layers to not just the levels but also the fighting itself.

9 MONKEYS OF SHAOLIN ACTION 2

Different enemies have their own strengths and weaknesses, meaning you’ll need to experiment with your variety of attacks to discover the best way to deal with each enemy type. And if that’s not enough for you, the game still offers more. There’s co-op action so you and a friend can play though the entire story together. Either online or even some old school, couch co-op. There are little statues hidden on the levels which unlock amusing gameplay mods. Remember GoldenEye 007 on the N64 with it’s big head, paintball mode, etc? Well you have some of those style unlockables here too. Give your character a big body, the emeries big heads and so on, just to add a little comedic slant to your game.

I did manage to finish the game in one sitting, in around four hours or so. It’s not a huge title at all. There are twenty-five levels, which does sound like a lot, but each level can be finished in just a few minutes. Still, you don’t really want a title like this to needlessly drag on anyway. 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin doesn’t outstay it’s welcome and neither did it feel too short. Besides, even though I finished it, I am going back to find all of those secrets and even try to finish it on the hardest difficulty. I really enjoyed this slice of retro beat ’em up action.

9 MONKEYS OF SHAOLIN ACTION 3

Overall

The only thing negative I really have is that the game never really goes full seventies kung-fu flick style, aesthetically speaking. I’d loved for it to have had a Chinese language with English subtitles to add a layer of authenticity. Maybe some seventies style film grain (could be one of the hidden extras, I’ve not yet found them all). A funky seventies soundtrack. But those really are just very minor niggles. 9 Monkeys Of Shaolin is fantastic and as an old school beat ’em up fan, this really scratched an itch.

GamesMaster: A Retrospective – Series Three, Part Two

So here we are, after part one, the inevitable part two of series three of my GamesMaster retrospective. There’s yet another slight format and location change coming up. This latter half of the series focuses on the previously mentioned GamesMaster Team Championship that people had been applying for and taking part in while the normal show was being aired. Due to this, the format changes to focus on said championship. Also, the set location was changed to the furnace you heard about in part one of series three (filmed at Clerkenwell House of Detention, they really liked filming in prisons!). Another change is that the co-presenters are gone. In the previous two series and the first part of this series, Dominik and Dexter were always joined by various gaming journalists (sometimes a celeb) to commentate on the challenges. Well, they’ve all been given the boot for this championship and Dexter is joined solely by Dave ‘The Games Animal’ Perry… they’ll be much, much more on him later.

DAVE AND DEXTER

So anyway, this second half of the series starts here with episode thirteen. The GamesMaster Team Championship breaks down like this, twenty-seven teams play nine knockout heats of three teams, with the winning team of their respective heat going through to the semi-finals. Three semi-finals of the previous nine winning teams follow, and then onto the grand final for the last three teams who won in the semis. Each of the teams consist of three players, of which there is a beat ’em up specialist, a platform specialist and an all rounder. Then in each episode, the teams will select their best gamer to play two initial challenges for points in a mini-league type thing. Team with the lowest amount of points will be eliminated from the championship after the second challenge, with the final challenge being a knockout, leaving just one team the winner at the end of each episode (heat) as the series progresses,. Which will all lead to the semi-finals and eventually, the grand final and win some smashing gaming prizes. Got that? Look, it’ll make more sense as you read this retrospective.

Now, even with this new approach, the show still pretty much sticks to the previous formula, but adds a new challenge just for the championships. So we’ll now have the first challenge, reviews/feature, second challenge, celeb challenge, hints & tips, final challenge. So with that lengthy explanation out of the way, on with the GamesMaster Team Championship.

Episode Thirteen

The first team are Armchairs of Hertfordshire (yes, the teams will all have team names) and they go up against Redbridge Raiders and Turbo Destructors in this first heat. The first challenge is on Aladdin (Mega Drive) and the players have to collect as many apples as they can in 45 seconds, each team choses one person for their team to take this on. The Armchairs grab 13 apples, Turbo Destructors manage to get 14, while Redbridge Raiders die in three seconds by falling into lava and score nowt. So this is how the scoring works, the winning team of each challenge will get 5 points, the second place team get 2 points and the losing team… well they get nothing. So this early in the championships the scores are:

Armchairs of Hertfordshire – 2
Redbridge Raiders – 0
Turbo Destructors – 5

SCOREBOARD

No, I’m not going to be posting a pic of every scoreboard in the championship, just this one as an example. Anyway, it’s the first set of reviews, Sensible Soccer (Mega Drive) scores with a 92%. Dennis the Menace (SNES) gets a 58%. Then Goal (Game Boy) get an embarrassing 37%. No feature, so it’s on to the next challenge and the game is winter sports game, Val d’Isere Championship (SNES). Contestants have to snowboard down a slalom course in the fastest time. The losing team always goes first in the second challenge, that’s Redbridge Raiders who finish with a time of 39.12 seconds. Armchairs of Hertfordshire are up next and get a time of 38.92. So, Turbo Destructors are up last and get a very impressive 34 seconds dead. After that, the scoreboards are:

Armchairs of Hertfordshire – 4
Redbridge Raiders – 0
Turbo Destructors – 10

That means the Redbridge Raiders are out of the championships already. But, Turbo Destructors and Armchairs of Hertfordshire go on to do battle in the final challenge (see, makes sense now eh?). Before that though, it’s celebrity challenge time, and just to make things a bit more confusing, there’s a little celeb championship going on within the main championships. A friendly game of footie with Vinnie Jones and Les Ferdinand. The game is the first ever FIFA game, FIFA International Soccer (Mega Drive) with Vinnie playing as Holland and Les as Brazil. Vinnie takes an early lead when he tucks one away, followed by another soon afterwards and the first half ends 2-0 to Holland. The second half gets underway and Les comes out fighting, her gets a couple of decent shots on target, but nothing gets through. The final whistle blows and Vinnie Jones is the winner, securing a place in the final of this championship… within a championship. Dexter Fletcher and Vinnie Jones together five years before appearing in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in1998.

VINNE JONES

Hints & tips next and GamesMaster helps out Aladdin (Mega Drive), Super Star Wars (SNES) and Syndicate (Amiga). Then it’s the final of this opening heat and there are no points here, just a simple win or lose, with the wining team going through to the semi-finals of the GamesMaster Team Championship. The game is the beat ’em up, World Heroes 2 (Neo Geo). Turbo Destructors play as Captain Kidd while Armchairs of Hertfordshire use Johnny Maximum. Armchairs take the first round, though it was a close fight. Turbo Destructors win the second round… using some spamming techniques. So it’s one round a piece and the final round goes to Turbo Destructors who win with relative ease and they go through to the semi-finals while Armchairs of Hertfordshire go home.

Golden joysticks won – 0

Episode Fourteen

This episode sees The Wizards, Culture Crew and The G.I.T.S fight for a place in the finals, the first game is Skyblazer (SNES) and the teams have to collect 50 diamonds in the quickest time. First up, The Wizards manage to grab 59 (thanks to a cheeky bonus) diamonds in 35 seconds. The G.I.T.S only pick up 25 diamonds in 22 seconds as they die before they can collect the total. So it’s Culture Crew next who mange 49 diamonds before the 35 seconds set by The Wizards is up:

The Wizards – 5
Culture Crew – 2
The G.I.T.S – 0

SKYBLAZER SNES

Reviews again and Aladdin (SNES) gets 78%. While Cybermorph (Atari Jaguar) get an inexplicable 81%. Then it’s feature time and we get an exclusive look at Mortal Kombat II (Arcade) before it’s release. The second challenge is on Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (Mega Drive) and the three teams have 45 seconds to get the highest bean count possible. The G.I.T.S go first and get a count of 28 beans. Culture Crew is up next and 25 beans before running out of time. Lastly, The Wizards also nab 25 beans, that makes the scoreboard look like:

The Wizards – 7
Culture Crew – 4
The G.I.T.S – 5

Despite failing the first challenge, The G.I.T.S secure second place with The Wizards in first, so they go through to the final challenge. But Culture Crew get sent packing. Onto the second round of the FIFA International Soccer (Mega Drive) celeb challenge and it’s Dennis Wise vs. John Barnes kicking a ball around bit, with Dennis playing as Germany and John as Italy. It’s an action packed first half and John Barnes really comes out attacking, scoring two goals. Dennis fights back and tucks one away before the halftime whistle blows… only for John to sneak in another goal seconds later. The first half ends 3-1 to Italy. John Barnes just keeps attacking and sticks another away, the final whistle blows and it’s 4-1 to John Barnes, who goes through to the final against Vinnie Jones from last episode.

TMNT TOURNEY

Micro Machines (Mega Drive), The Ren & Stimpy Show: Veediots! (SNES) and Donk! Samurai Duck! (Amiga) get some help from GamesMaster. So it’s the final challenge on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES) and The G.I.T.S play as Leonardo while The Wizards favour Shredder. The first round is very nearly a perfect as Leonardo destroys Shredder with ease. Round two is pretty much more of the same as The G.I.T.S win and secure a place in the semi-finals. 

Golden joysticks won – 0

Episode Fifteen

First challenge this time is on Street Fighter II Championship Edition (Mega Drive). The Hackney Pranksters, Essex All Stars and Humberside Hawks are the teams. Now, as there three teams, this particular two-player fighting game causes a few issues with how to fairly pit each selected member of the team against each other. So, this is a single round fight and each of the team’s beat ’em up specialist will play each of the other team’s beat ’em up specialist in a round robin tournament-thing, each round won earns the team 5 points. So Hackney Pranksters go up against Humberside Hawks first and the first fight goes to Humberside Hawks. But Hackney Pranksters stays on to fight Essex All Stars. Anyway, the second round goes to Essex All Stars. So next up are Humberside Hawks fighting Essex All Stars, so each team has then fought each other team on the same game… that’s how a round robin works, and they’ll be more later. Essex All Stars win against Humberside Hawks. All that is left to do next is tot up the points and it works out like this, Hackney Pranksters didn’t win a single round in the fight, so score 0. Humberside Hawks won one round, 5 points but Essex All Stars won two rounds, which leaves the scoreboard looking like this:

Hackney Pranksters  – 0
Essex All Stars – 10
Humberside Hawks – 5

It’s on to the reviews and this section features an inspiration to me and a man I didn’t even know was ever on GamesMaster until doing this very retrospective. So Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (Mega Drive) gets 75%. While World Soccer (SNES) scores 69%. The feature looks at the (then) soon to be released, disaster of a game Rise of the Robots (Multi-format). Oh, and as for the man I admire and didn’t even know was on GamesMaster

BIFFO

Paul ‘Mr. Biffo’ Rose! If you don’t know who he is, click here and here and here as Paul has been one of my biggest influencers, I seriously love this guy. Platform game Magic Boy (SNES) is the second challenge and the teams and they have to capture as many animals as possible in 45 seconds. Hackney Pranksters are up first and they manage to catch 9 animals before the clock runs out. Humberside Hawks don’t have time to see the end of the 45 seconds as they die before that can happen, but they did nab 6 animals. Finally, it’s Essex All Stars who get 7 animals. The scores stand at:

Hackney Pranksters  – 5
Essex All Stars – 12
Humberside Hawks – 5

With two teams on 5 points and as only the top two can go through to the final, it’s a tie-breaker. GamesMaster pits the two tying teams against each other on Super Mario Kart (SNES). One lap on the Mario Circuit track and whoever crosses the line first wins. Humberside Hawks do a cheeky shortcut to win and meet Essex All Stars in the final. Speaking of finals, it’s also the final of the FIFA International Soccer (Mega Drive) celeb challenge. Vinnie Jones vs John Barnes with Vinnie playing as Holland and John as Italy. Vinnie scores a bit if a sly goal and that’s the only goal in the first half. The second half sees two more goals… both of them from Vinnie Jones. Final score 3 – 0 to Vinnie Jones who wins the first golden joystick of the second half of series three.

VINNIE AND DEXTER

GamesMaster throws out some more gaming life preserves with his hints & tips. Cool Spot (SNES), Arabian Nights (Amiga) and Jungle Strike (Mega Drive) are all helped. It’s Humberside Hawks against Essex All Stars in the final. The game is tennis game, Davis Cup World Tour (Mega Drive) and each player has 10 balls to hit set targets. Humberside Hawks are up first and they score a very decent 7 points from 10 balls. Essex All Stars only manage to get a very poor 3 points from 10 balls. So Humberside Hawks go through to the semis while Essex All Stars are sent packing. I guess it’s also worth mentioning that it was the team captain who failed so badly for Essex All Stars in that last challenge, a kid called Simon.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Sixteen

Merry Christmas! Yes, it’s the GamesMaster 1993 Christmas special. There’s a slight break from the GamesMaster Team Championship as this episode is a Christmas panto special with three teams of celebs representing their panto, going up against each other to try and win a golden joystick. Though this isn’t part of the GamesMaster Team Championship, it still plays out the same with the three teams battling it out over various gaming challenges to win points, to get to the final. The teams are Dick Wittington – Croydon (Lorraine Chase, John Altman), Dick Wittington – Bath (Robert Duncan, Wayne Morris) and Aladdin – Woking (Graham Bickley, Ray Meagher). The first challenge is on Adventures of Yogi Bear (SNES) and players have 45 seconds to collect as many clocks as possible. Robert Duncan from Dick Wittington – Bath is first and he manages 16 clocks. Lorraine Chase from Dick Wittington – Croydon is next and gets 13 clocks. Then finally we have Graham Bickley from Aladdin – Woking, who scores 14 clocks. Same scoring as the normal championships so: 

Dick Wittington – Croydon – 0
Dick Wittington – Bath – 5
Aladdin – Woking – 2

GAMESMASTER CHRISTMAS

No reviews this time around, but five previous reviewers chose their games of the year, 1993. Steve Merret choses Street Fighter II: Championship Edition (Mega Drive) as his game of the year. Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall has FIFA International Soccer (Mega Drive) as his pick. Paul ‘Mr Biffo’ Rose selects Zombies Ate My Neighbors (SNES) is his game of the year. Andy Nuttall picks Syndicate (Amiga) as his game of 1993. While Josse Billson has three games, Sensible Soccer (Mega Drive), Claymates (SNES) and ClayFighter (SNES). No feature, but a competition called ‘Room of the Future’ where viewers can win some newly released games consoles is introduced. Then it’s onto the second challenge of the episode and the teams have 45 seconds to collect as many diamonds as they can on Super Alfred Chicken (SNES). Up first is John Altman for team Dick Wittington – Croydon, who gets a grand total of 0 as he dies early doors. Aladdin – Woking’s Ray Meagher is next and he does nab 12 diamonds before dying. Finally there’s Wayne Morris for Dick Wittington – Bath trounces over the others with 33 diamonds… and he doesn’t die either. Taking the scores to:

Dick Wittington – Croydon – 0
Dick Wittington – Bath – 10
Aladdin – Woking – 4

SUPER ALFRED CHICKEN SNES

A very poor performance from Dick Wittington – Croydon who didn’t score any points at all. As with the normal championships, it’s only the top two who got through to the final. So Dick Wittington – Croydon go home while Dick Wittington – Bath and Aladdin – Woking face each other in the final. Then, within this celebrity special episode, there’s still a ‘normal’ celebrity challenge to get through. Frank Bruno is the celeb and goes up against his own daughter, Nicola at boxing game Greatest Heavyweights (Mega Drive). It’s only a 1 round bout and Nicola comes out fighting, punching her father in the face over and over. There are no knockouts, so it goes to points and Nicola wins the golden joystick.

Showing some Christmas merriment, GamesMaster helps out those less fortunate once more. Joe & Mac (Game Boy) and Superman (Master System) are the games offered a little Christmas present. Then it’s on to the final where Dick Wittington – Bath and Aladdin – Woking have to play Christmas Lemmings (Amiga) and whoever saves the most % of lemmings in 45 seconds wins. Aladdin – Woking are first and get a very beatable 45%. Dick Wittington – Bath score a decent 60%. So team Dick Wittington – Bath are the golden joystick winners of this Christmas celebrity panto special.

Golden joysticks won – 2

Episode Seventeen

After that Christmas special, it’s back to the GamesMaster Team Championship. The first challenge is on Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (SNES). The contestants have 45 seconds to score as many points as they can. Dream Team are first and get a terrible 950 points before the clock runs out. Charlton Crew are next, who get a much more impressive 5100 points. Perfection score 1800, which is below average, but still enough to secure second place. The scores look very much like this:

Dream Team – 0
Perfection – 2
Charlton Crew – 5

SUPER EMPIRE STRIKES BACK SNES

Yup, review time once again. Boxing Legends of the Ring (SNES) get a 78%. Then F-117 Night Storm (Mega Drive) is given 67%. Another plug for the ‘Room of the Future’ competition and no feature. So it’s onto the second challenge, the game is on pinball game Dragon’s Revenge (Mega Drive) and the contestants have to beat a level boss in the quickest time only using one pinball. The losing team, Dream Team go first and manage to win in 40 seconds. Perfection next, who get off to a very bad start by losing their only ball in 9 seconds and fail. Charlton Crew are the last team and only have to last more than 9 seconds to win some points, but finish in under 40 seconds to win. The bad news is they lose the ball, the good news is… not until 25 seconds into the challenge. Though Charlton Crew failed, they lasted longer than Perfection. The scoreboard is thus:

Dream Team – 5
Perfection – 2
Charlton Crew – 7

Perfection are out of the championship, while Dream Team and Charlton Crew go to the final. Celebrity challenge time once more and two members of the audience have a chance of winning a date… but with who? She has been on GamesMaster before, the Games Mistress (Dianne Youdale). The challenge is on Lethal Enforcers (Mega Drive) and Games Mistress goes first to set a score within half a minute, then the contestants, Daniel and Steven have to try and beat that score in the fastest time possible. Games Mistress puts in a very beatable performance, after shooting a cop in the first 4 seconds, she does get a score of 46 in 30 seconds. Steve goes first and knocks up a score of 48 points with 5 seconds left. Daniel’s aim is worse than a drunken stormtrooper as gets a grand total of 0 points after loosing all his health due to massacring innocent civilians. Steven has a big ‘ole smile on his face, not just because he won a golden joystick, but because he also got to spend some time with the Games Mistress… lucky bastard.

GAMES MISTRESS

Technoclash (Mega Drive), Shadowrun (SNES) and Alien 3 (SNES) all have peeps asking GamesMaster for some help. Final challenge time and we have a fight on the rather ‘wooden’ beat ’em up Elfmania (Amiga). You know the score by now, best of three rounds and the winner goes through to the semi-finals. Dream Team and Charlton Crew grab hold of their joysticks to give each other a fierce beating (sorry, but there’s a severe lack of double entendre with Dominik not being around). The first round goes to Dream Team, as does the second. Truth be told, Elfmania is a bit crap… so lets just quickly move on. Dream Team go to the semi-finals.

Golden joysticks won –  1

Episode Eighteen

This episode’s three teams are Conquerors, Nightmares and Livewires. The first challenge is on Top Gear 2 (SNES) and the contestants have to finish a single lap of the Austrian circuit in the fastest time. Conquerors put in a strong effort and despite smashing into a billboard at the side of the track, they get a time of 33.51 seconds. Nightmares spend more time bumping into the back of the opposing cars than going around them, losing seconds and finishing in 37.06. Then we have Livewires, who get a time of 33.20 to win the big points. Scoreboard time:

Conquerors – 2
Nightmares – 0
Livewires – 5

TOP GEAR 2 SNES

Review round up and ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron (Mega Drive) gets 90% and F1 Pole Position (SNES) scores 78%. The feature looks at the pre-release version of Alien vs Predator (Jaguar) while that ‘Room of the Future’ competition continues. Round two of the championship next and the game is Tinhead (Mega Drive) and GamesMaster gives 45 seconds to score as many points as possible. Team Nightmares are first and gets a very nice 6150 points. Conquerors are next and they take too many hits, die after only a few seconds with a piss-poor score of 500. Livewires are up next and they can beat 500 points with ease, they do take a few hits and it looks bleak, but they manage to hold on and score 1000 points before dying. That mixes up the scoreboard a bit:

Conquerors – 2
Nightmares – 5
Livewires – 7

Nightmares and Livewires go through. Simone Robertson from then popular Aussie soap, Neighbours is the celeb and she takes on a Sam, a challenger from the audience at Plok (SNES). Given only a single life, whoever finishes a level in the fastest time wins. Simone breezes through the level, avoids the bad guys and finishes with a time of 21 seconds. Sam does even better and get to the end in just 17 seconds to win the golden joystick. A rather quick, ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ challenge.

3 BOUT COUNT NEO GEO

GamesMaster is back dishing out his hints & tips. Rocket Knight Adventures (Mega Drive), Magic Boy (Amiga) and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Game Boy) get some help. So it’s the final challenge, the game is wrestling game, 3 Count Bout (Neo Geo). Whoever pins their opponent first wins. Nightmares and Livewire get down to some man on man grappling action and it’s a close fight as the two exchange blows. They both have zero health left, but they have to pin to win and Nightmares just about manage to win by a whisker. 

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Nineteen

Three more teams fight it out for a place in the semi-final. Warwickshire 49ers, Heavy Tactics and Mega Maniacs are the teams. It’s another round robin tournament with a single round bout on Samurai Shodown (Neo Geo), each round won earns 5 points. Warwickshire 49ers vs Heavy Tactics first and Heavy Tactics win. Then Mega Maniacs step up to take on Heavy Tactics, for Heavy Tactics to win again. The last round is Warwickshire 49ers vs Mega Maniacs, which the 49ers win. Now each team has played each other. Warwickshire 49ers won one round, Heavy Tactics won two rounds, while Mega Maniacs won nowt:

Warwickshire 49ers – 5
Heavy Tactics – 10
Mega Maniacs – 0

SAMURAI SHODOWN NEO GEO

Eternal Champions (Mega Drive) scores 81%. Total Carnage (Game Boy) gets a mediocre 58% in the reviews. there’s a bit more of that ‘Room of the Future’ comp and no feature, so straight onto the second challenge. GamesMaster gives 45 seconds and 3 lives to collect as many bells as possible on Pop’n TwinBee: Rainbow Bell Adventures (SNES). Mega Maniacs up first and takes a few hits, dying before the clock expires, but grabbing 145 bells along the way. Warwickshire 49ers go next and they spend more time avoiding he bells than collecting them, but still get a total of 110 bells. Heavy Tactics get squished under a falling block and die, but they did collect 145 bells, the same as Mega Maniacs. The scoreboard says:

Warwickshire 49ers – 5
Heavy Tactics – 15
Mega Maniacs – 5

It’s a tie-break between Warwickshire 49ers and Mega Maniacs, so GamesMaster pits them against each other on Mortal Kombat (SNES). It’s only a single round fight, Warwickshire 49ers play as Sub-Zero while Mega Maniacs use Rayden. It’s not even a close fight as Mega Maniacs romp tom victory with ease. Celebrity challenge time again and athlete with the best laugh ever, Kriss Akabusi picks a challenger form the crowd, Gia. James Pond 3 (Mega Drive) is the game and it’s a simple finfish the level in the fastest time thing. Kriss goes first and falls on some spikes as well along with struggling to get up a hill, both errors lose him time. Kriss finishes with a beatable 28 seconds. Gia next and she falls on the same spikes and struggles with the same hill as Kriss, only much worse and runs out of time, failing the challenge. Kriss Akabusi wins the golden joystick… but he gives it to Gia in a gallant act of chivalry, or maybe he just didn’t want the golden joystick? Useless bit of trivia for you. YouTuber, ‘Guru’ Larry Bundy Jr bought Gia’s golden joystick from her on eBay a few years back.

MORTAL KOMBAT SNES 2

Hints & tips time yet again as Jurassic Park (SNES) and Brutal Sports Football (Amiga) get some GamesMaster help. Heavy Tactics take on Mega Maniacs at NBA Jam (SNES), whoever scores the most points in a single quarter wins. Mega Maniacs break the ice with a slam dunk to score first, they follow that up with another basket… and another. Heavy Tactics finally score, only for Mega Maniacs to score again, making it 8 -2 to the Mega Maniacs, it’s all a bit one-sided. Then Mega Maniacs foul and give 3 points to Heavy Tactics, it’s now 8 -5. Heavy Tactics do get another basket making the score 8 -7 and if they had a bit more time, they could’ve made an amazing comeback to win… IF they had more time. The clock runs down leaving the score 8 – 7 to Mega Maniacs who go to the semi-finals.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty

GamesMaster selects Eternal Champions (Mega Drive) for the first challenge and it’s another round robin beat ’em up thing. You know the score by now, one round bouts and each team plays against each other team with 5 points awarded for each round won. The three teams battling it out this episode are The Delilahs, Take This and Wanstead Magic. Up first it’s The Delilahs vs Take This and Take This wins. The Delilahs do battle with Wanstead Magic with the win going to The Delilahs. So the final round is between Wanstead Magic and Take This and ends with Take This as the victors. Setting up the scores like this:

The Delilahs – 5
Take This – 10
Wanstead Magic – 0

TEAM PICS

There are no reviews this time, but instead we get a a selection of previews seen at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Stunt Race FX (SNES) and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Mega Drive) get looked at. More ‘Room of the Future’ competition stuff before the second challenge. Bubba ‘n’ Stix (Mega Drive) is the game and the contestants are given 45 seconds to score as many points as possible. Wanstead Magic are first and scores 6,000, a good but certainly beatable attempt. The Delilahs are next and despite getting stuck in an easily escapable pit, losing seconds, they do manage a score of 6,300. Finally it’s Take This who lead with a 6,800 score:

The Delilahs – 12
Take This – 15
Wanstead Magic – 0

Wanstead Magic go home while The Delilahs will battle it out against Take This in the final. Celebrity challenge time now and Andrew Paul and Lisa Geoghan from popular police drama, The Bill are up. GamesMaster has them playing T2: The Arcade Game (SNES) and it’s whoever scores the most points in 45 seconds wins. Andrew goes first and manages a 11,500 score. Lisa tired her best, but only gets 10,900, meaning Andrew Paul wins the golden joystick… though to be fair, both were handicapped having to use that awful SNES Super Scope bazooka thing.

T2 SNES CHALLENGE

GamesMaster opens his ‘soup kitchen for the gaming undernourished’ (his words, not mine) as Puggsy (Mega Drive) and Zool (Mega Drive) get dished up with some help. Then it’s the final team challenge to secure a place in the semis. The Delilahs and Take This play a classic game of footie on Super Goal! 2 (SNES) is the game. The Delilahs playing as Brazil while Take This chose Germany. It’s a scoreless first half, but both teams had a few attempts on goal. The second half is a bit more spicy as Germany tuck one away. Despite fighting back, the score remains 1 – 0 to Germany as Take This go through.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty-One

Megabites, Elite 3 and RCC (Reading Console Crew) are the three teams this episode. The first challenge is on Adventures of Yogi Bear (SNES), with 45 seconds to collect as many clocks as possible. Megabites score an pretty good 34 clocks. Elite 3 just nudge ahead with 36 clocks collected. So RCC go last and mess up a little along the way, only managing to grab 26 clocks. Leaving the scoreboard looking like:

Megabites – 2
Elite 3 – 5
RCC – 0

DAVE AND DEXTER 2

Review time again and The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) is given a very worthy, but not good enough 81%. Alone in the Dark 2 (PC) gets 90%. Then we get a sneak peek at Sega’s Virtua Fighter (Arcade). Yup, more of that ‘Room of the Future’ comp. Second challenge time and Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 (Mega Drive) is the game. Whoever scores the most points in 45 seconds wins, simple. RCC go first and get a score of 221,990. Megabites are next and they get a relatively poor and very beatable score of 91,710. So it’s current leaders, Elite 3 next and they land a better score of 106,720:

Megabites – 2
Elite 3 – 7
RCC – 5

Elite 3 and RCC go to the final challenge. Snooker ace, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the celeb this episode and he has to picks an audience member, Carla to play pool game, Side Pocket (SNES). GamesMaster gives them just five shots each to score the most points. Carla goes first and gets off to a good start, sinking a couple of balls. She also sinks a rather lucky re-bound shot and scores 400 points. Ronnie is up next and puts in a rather rushed and dismal attempt to score 200 points. Carla wins the golden joystick.

JAMMIT MEGA DRIVE

GamesMaster hands out more hints & tips, Adventures of Dr. Franken (SNES), Desert Strike (Master System) and Linus Spacehead’s Cosmic Crusade (Mega Drive) get helped. Then it’s final challenge time as Elite 3 and RCC face each other on street basketball game, Jammit (Mega Drive), with the first player to score 5 baskets being declared the winner. They waste no time in dunking their balls on each other as they both score 1 basket a piece. It’s very evenly matched as neither team pulls ahead, until Elite 3 block an attack and sink a basket to make the score 4 – 2 in their favour. RCC do get another point, but Elite 3 just come right back and score their last and wining basket. 5 – 3 to Elite 3, and they send RCC home.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty-Two

So this is the last of the heats before the semi-finals start next episode. The teams are Fowley Force, Laser Force and Questers. Challenge number one is on Skitchin’ (Mega Drive) and contestants are given 45 seconds to overtake as many opponents as possible from starting in 7th. Fowley Force manage to do really, really badly and gain zero positions, remaining in 7th. Laser Force do just as badly and stay in 7th, can anyone gain a position? Questers show them how it’s done and finish in 3rd place. The scoreboard says this: 

Fowley Force – 2
Laser Force – 2
Questers – 5

SKITCHIN MEGA DRIVE

Time to look at some reviews again next and it’s basketball games under the spotlight. HyperDunk (Mega Drive) gets a 58%. NBA Showdown (Mega Drive) is given another 58%. Then NBA Jam (SNES & Mega Drive) is on fire with 92%. The winners of that ‘Room of the Future’ competition is announced and Sarah Tongue from Redditch won an Amiga CD-32, John Henry from Lancashire won a Philips CD-i, S Ahmed from Liverpool won an Atari Jaguar and Jonathan Rangel from Wolverhampton won a 3DO. Yup, crap prizes all round really and no eBay in 1994 to sell them on either. So with that out of the way, it’s onto the next challenge. Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D (SNES) is the game for some platforming action, contestants are given 45 seconds to get the highest score possible. Laser Force are first and get a very good but beatable 5,030 points. Fowley Force are up next and 4,420 is the very dismal score they manage. Which leaves current leaders, Questers a pretty easy target to beat… but they right mess it up, die and only get 2,500 points.

Fowley Force – 4
Laser Force – 7
Questers – 5

So the final will be between Laser Force and Questers. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage is the celebrity next and he plucks an audience member, Bertha.  WWF Rage in the Cage (Sega CD) is the game and it’s ‘yer basic last person standing wins. I’d like to say how this is a close fight, I’d like to say that, but Bertha destroys Randy to win the golden joystick.

RANDY SAVAGE

Lamborghini American Challenge (SNES) and Street Fighter II: Champion Edition (Mega Drive) get some GamesMaster help. Laser Force and Questers fight it out for the last spot in the semi-finals on Boxing Legends of the Ring (SNES). It’s a single round fight to be won by knockout or points. It really is a close one as both teams give as good as they get. No KOs, so it goes to points, which the judges score 10 – 9 to Questers. So that’s all of the heats done and dusted, it’s now onto the semi-finals as the GamesMaster Team Championship approaches its climax.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty- Three

So this is the start of the semi-finals and the winners from all the previous heats are back to take part in gaming challenges once more, this time battling for a spot in the final. Nine teams left and the first three are The G.I.T.S, Humberside Hawks and Dream Team, their first challenge is on Starwing (SNES). The teams have to score as many points as possible in 45 seconds. The G.I.T.S go first and make good use of the bonuses for extra points to score 8,004. Humberside Hawks go next and it looks like they are struggling for a while, but a well timed smart bomb with only 1 second left kills some enemies and they score 8,017 points. Dream Team go last and have some tough scores to beat, they miss out some early and easy points and end up with a total of 7,764. Scoreboard time:

The G.I.T.S – 2
Humberside Hawks – 5
Dream Team – 0

STARWING SNES

Reviews again and they focus on football games. Virtual Soccer (SNES) gets a 78%. The more cartoony Empire Soccer 94 (SNES) scores 81%. Then platformer Soccer Kid (SNES) is awarded 86%. No feature here, so straight to the second challenge on Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive). The teams just have to finish a level in the fastest time. Dream Team are up first and get a time of 30 seconds, very good but still beatable. The G.I.T.S go next and get the exact same time of 30 seconds. 30 seconds is beatable, as both the previous teams did loose a second or two slowing down. Humberside Hawks go last and early doors, a mistimed jump slows them down and they end with a time of 33 seconds.

The G.I.T.S – 7
Humberside Hawks – 5
Dream Team – 5

It’s tie-break time again and GamesMaster picks beat ’em up World Heroes 2 (Neo Geo). It’s a single round fight and it’s Humberside Hawks vs Dream Team. Humberside Hawks absolutely pummel Dream Team and almost get a prefect. The ‘techno, techno, techno, techno!” duo band, 2 Unlimited are the celebrities taking on Fatal Fury 2 (Neo Geo). Bandmates Ray Slijngaard and Anita Doth have to punch and kick each other until only one remains in this best of three fight. The first round is actually a close one with both giving as good as they get, but it goes to Ray. Second round is even closer as both players get down to a one hit wind situation, Ray just about takes it via a jumping punch to win the golden joystick.

2 UNLIMTED

GamesMaster pops up again to hand out some gaming help. Kevin Keegan’s Player Manager, (SNES) is asked for some help from Kevin Keegan himself! James Bond 007: The Duel (Master System) and then, Kevin Keegan comes back asking for more help on his own game again. Final time and it’s Super Mario Kart (SNES) and the players have a 5 lap race, first to pass the line wins. The G.I.T.S really get to grips with the power-sliding to get into 1st place, but when Humberside Hawks nab a star power-up, they shoot into the lead on lap 3. The G.I.T.S catch up, but get hit by a shell and lose valuable time when they get stuck on a boundary wall. Just before the final lap, The G.I.T.S pick up a star which helps them gain some of the lost ground, but it’s just no enough and Humberside Hawks win a place in the grand final.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty-Four

Round two of the semis and it’s Turbo Destructors, Mega Maniacs and Take This as the teams trying to secure a place in the final. GamesMaster selects Mortal Kombat (Mega Drive) as the game and yes, it’s another round robin. Mega Maniacs beat Turbo Destructors in round one and Take This in round two. The final round goes to Turbo Destructors. The scoreboard looks like:

Turbo Destructors – 5
Mega Maniacs – 10
Take This – 0

Another review round-up as Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Mega Drive) gets 90%. Choplifter III (SNES) scores 78%. Then there’s a preview of some of the games for the soon to be released 3DO console. Super Mario Bros. 3 (SNES) is the game for challenge number two and all they have to do is finish a level in the fastest time. Take This up first and they last a terrible 16 seconds before they die. Turbo Destructors and all they really have to do is stand still for longer than 16 seconds to secure some points, but they try to finish the level and get a time of 23 seconds. Mega Maniacs and again, all they have to do is survive longer then 16 seconds, which is easy… but they try to finish the level and die in just 6 seconds. 6 SECONDS! I can manage sex longer than that.

Turbo Destructors – 10 
Mega Maniacs – 10
Take This – 2

SUPER MARIO BROS. 3

Though it is a tie at the top of the scoreboard, it’s the loosing team who go home. Turbo Destructors and Mega Maniacs go through to the final. But before that, it’s celebrity challenge time again. Crash Test Dummies… not the band, but actual crash test dummies, Slick and Spin take on The Incredible Crash Dummies (Mega Drive). Fastest to finish the level wins the golden joystick. Slick goes first and gets a tie of 41 seconds. Spin goes next and just wins with a time of 40 seconds to take the golden joystick.

More hints & tips from GamesMaster and Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 (Mega Drive), Rock n’ Roll Racing (SNES) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Game Boy) are all given a leg up. So it’s the final between Turbo Destructors and Mega Maniacs. GamesMaster picks Striker (SNES) for some footie action. Mega Maniacs win and secure a place in the grand final. 

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty-Five

Nightmares, Elite 3 and Questors are the three teams vying for the last place in the grand final. Aladdin (Mega Drive) is the game picked by GamesMaster, who gives the teams 45 seconds to collect as many apples as possible. Team Nightmares storm though the level and pick up a very good 46 apples. Elite 3 pick up the pad next and also score 46 apples. Now, both previous teams did miss a couple of easy to grab apples along the way, so 46 is beatable. Questors are last on this challenge and are in good stead to win… but they miss a few very easy to get apples in the last few seconds and only grab 42 apples. The scoreboard says:

Nightmares –  5
Elite 3 –  5
Questors – 0

ALADDIN MEGA DRIVE

No reviews to speak of this time, instead it’s a preview/opinion as four FMV games for the Sega CD get looked at. Prize Fighter, Ground Zero: Texas, Double Switch and MegaRace get shown with a few comments (not really reviews and no scores) from some gaming industry peeps. No feature either, so let’s crack on with the second challenge. Pilotwings (SNES) is the game and it’s the parachuting level. Freefall trough rings, land close or on to the target to score points. Questors go first and they miss several rings and splashdown in the water, missing the landing target to score a very, very poor 9 out of a possible 100 points. Being at the bottom of the scoreboard… this does not look good for Questors at all. Elite 3 next and with a score of 9 to beat, this should be a doddle… and it is, going through all the rings already beats the previous score and even land a bullseye, scoring the maximum 100 points. Nightmares go next and again, all they have to do is beat 9 points, but they miss several rings and do a very sloppy landing outside of the target… but at least it wasn’t in the water, 11 points. 

Nightmares – 7
Elite 3 – 10
Questors – 0

PILOTWINGS SNES

After that very embarrassing performance, Questors go home. Long forgotten about, British boyband, Bad Boys Inc are the celebrities up next, well two of the four are, Tony Dowding and Ally Begg. The duo take on Star Wars: Rebel Assault (PC) and have to navigate Beggar’s Canyon in their training ship. Ally goes first and he pinballs around the canyon and blows up, only lasting 20 seconds. Tony next and he smashes into the canyon wall a few times too, but manages to last 37 seconds to win the golden joystick.

Once more, GamesMaster offers up some help. Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (SNES) and Premier Manager 2 (Amiga) are both given a leg up. So this is it, the last chance to secure a place in the grand final of the GamesMaster Team Championship. It’s Nightmares vs Elite 3 and they are fighting it out on Street Fighter II Turbo (SNES) in a classic best of three scrap. Elite 3 win the first two rounds to win.

Golden joysticks won – 1

Episode Twenty-Six

So this is it, all the previous heats and semi-finals have led to this point, the GamesMaster Team Championship grand final. There’s some really cheesy, toe-curling nineties trash-talk as the teams are introduced. Cybermorph (Atari Jaguar) is the game and contestants have just 45 seconds (again) to collect 18 diamond pods on the level. Mega Maniacs only grab 8, leaving 10 pods. Elite 3 just about get 9 pods. Then Humberside Hawks also nab 8 pods. With both Humberside Hawks and Mega Maniacs grabbing the same amount, the scores look like:

Humberside Hawks  – 2
Mega Maniacs – 2
Elite 3 – 5

CYBERMORPH (JAGUAR)

No reviews or feature, straight into the second challenge and GamesMaster selects one of the most infamously bad games ever made, Rise of the Robots (PC). As this is a beat ’em up, it’s another round robin scrap. Humberside Hawks win round one, Mega Maniacs win round two, then Humberside Hawks take the final round. After which:

Humberside Hawks  – 12
Mega Maniacs – 7
Elite 3 – 5

Elite 3 are out of the grand final, leaving Humberside Hawks and Mega Maniacs to duke it out. No celebrity challenge or GamesMaster hints & tips this time, straight back into the action. Things get shaken up a bit for this grand final. There are three separate challenges on three different games, so it’s the best of three challenges. Sonic CD (Sega CD) is the first game and it’s a simple finish the level in the quickest time thing. Humberside Hawks are up first and set a time of 34.68 seconds. Mega Maniacs mess up badly and fail, unable to beat the time set.

The next challenge is on Street Fighter II Turbo (SNES) in a best of three round fight. Mega Maniacs win the first round and the second round… quite easily too. So it’s one challenge a piece, whichever team wins the next challenge will become GamesMaster Team Champions.

STREET FIGHTER II TURBO SNES

So, this is it, Striker (SNES) is the game for two halves of (possible) goal scoring action. Humberside Hawks play as England and Mega Maniacs chose Germany… a bitter rivalry to be settled on the football pitch. Germany waste no time and score the opener in seconds, 1 – 0 to Germany and Mega Maniacs. England come back fighting and quickly respond with an attack with two shots.. both hit the crossbar. Germany are not too happy about that, so just as quickly pop another one in the net, 2 – 0 to Germany. The halftime whistle blows, England, Humberside Hawks are 2 goals down and need to come out fighting… and they do, putting the round leather thing between the posts 2 – 1 to Germany. With just a few seconds left on the clock, German make it 3 – 1. Then England put another away 3 – 2 with only 10 seconds left! It’s a close one, but England just couldn’t do it. Germany, team Mega Maniacs are GamesMaster Team Champions.

MEGSA MANIACS WIN

Mega Maniacs win an Amiga CD-32, Philips CD-i Atari Jaguar and a PC. The PC they (have) to donate to charity. Runners up, Humberside Hawks win a golden joystick each. Then, on top of their gaming console prizes, Mega Maniacs win a special jewel encrusted golden joystick each, as well as the title of GamesMaster Team Champions.

Golden joysticks won – 3
Jewel encrusted golden joysticks won – 3


Overall

You ask any GamesMaster fan about series three and you’ll get nothing but anger in return. That anger mainly comes from Dexter Fletcher’s presenting, his penchant for shouting and screaming ‘OI GAMESMARSTA!!!’ is a very notable point of anger, then there’s the infuriating whistling that he keeps doing. Myself, I always remember hating this series more than any of the others, but that was twenty-seven years ago. Re-watching it for this retrospective, I really didn’t think Dexter was all that bad to be honest. He doesn’t have the cheeky charm of Dominik Diamond and the writing of some of the ‘jokes’ for this series was pretty flat. But overall, Dexter was not as bad as I remember, yes he is a bit overbearing a times, but I still found him enjoyable… mostly. Looking at the series as an adult, I’m pretty sure it was the writing that was the biggest issue and not so much Dexter himself. Still, it’s not as if Dexter Fletcher would ever go on to do anything major after this is it?

Some of the format changes felt out of place, I understand they wanted to do something different, but I honestly got bored of the whole GamesMaster Team Championship thing in the second half, it just dragged on and on. You can probably tell as some my commentary here got less detailed and a bit more lax as it went on (I honestly lost interest at points). Plus, to cram in more challenges and more players for the teams, the challenges had to become shorter overall, which didn’t add much to the excitement really. Look at previous series and challenges lasted several minutes, here in the second half, most lasted seconds. I think if they had a smaller team count for the championship and made them fight it out over two episodes instead of cramming it all into one, it could’ve been better. Possibly the weakest series of the whole show? I’ll pass judgement after I’ve been through all seven series at the end.

DEXTER 2

Total golden joysticks won – 13
Total jewel encrusted golden joysticks won – 3

Well, now series three is out of the way, things begin to get really interesting both in front and behind the cameras at GamesMaster. Series four begins soon. 

“OI GAMESMARSTA!!!”

– Dexter Fletcher