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Wednesday, 26 August 2020 09:16

‘High Score’ puts in its initials

While there may still be those out there who happily dismiss video games as kid stuff or somehow niche, the truth is that anyone in this country born in the last half-century likely has some connection to them.

Obviously, gaming is big business in 2020, a multibillion-dollar industry that economically outperforms the music industry and the movie industry – combined. But it was definitely a rollercoaster ride of booms and busts along the way.

“High Score,” the new six-episode docuseries from Netflix, is an exploration of that ride, a look back to the early days of the industry evolved from the domain of a few into a world occupied by billions. Along the way, we hear the stories of assorted successes (and a few failures) as told by the people responsible.

By necessity, the filmmakers must pick and choose the people and places on which to focus. With just a half-dozen episodes – most coming in at around 45 minutes, give or take – it’s all about snapshots; there just isn’t time for a deep dive into video game history. But these glimpses are what makes the series work, looks at with the people involved, whether as designers and developers or simply players. Seeing their passion for the medium is what really makes “High Score” soar.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 14:04

‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ really connects

In a cinematic landscape featuring more animated offerings than ever before, it’s tough to find ways to stand out. But even in a crowded field, Disney stands ears-and-shoulders above the competition.

Even leaving aside the fact that Pixar is a Disney concern, Walt Disney Animation has had a heck of a run over the past half-decade or so. Yes, things were a little underwhelming in the earlier part of the 21st century, but there’s no arguing the quality of the studio’s recent run – “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012), “Frozen” (2013), “Big Hero 6” (2014), “Zootopia” (2016) and “Moana” (2016) were all hugely successful both commercially and critically; “Frozen” and “Zootopia” even won Oscars.

The latest offering – the first sequel in this new wave – is “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” A sequel to “Wreck-It Ralph,” it melds the retro charm of the original’s characters with an updated, more modern setting. The combination of old and new is an undeniable success; not only are there some delightful jokes and clever pop culture nods, there’s a surprising depth to the emotions explored. Funny gags AND genuine connection – we’re talking top-tier animated fare.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 16 October 2018 18:07

Taking command – ‘8-Bit Apocalypse’

In this age of esports and gaming computers and generational consoles, it can be easy to forget that video games have been on the entertainment scene for a relatively brief time. In the industry’s nascent years, video games were shared experiences, only playable through pumping quarter after quarter into game cabinets in arcades across the world.

Those early days serve as the setting for Alex Rubens’s new book “8-Bit Apocalypse: The Untold Story of Atari’s Missile Command” (The Overlook Press, $26.95). It’s a look at the world of video games – and the culture at large – through the lens of one specific game, the Atari classic “Missile Command.”

Through that one game, Rubens examines the explosion of the industry in the late 1970s and juxtaposes it with the Cold War political climate of the time – a comparison for which “Missile Command” was uniquely suited. It also allows for a look at how video games in general have impacted – and continue to impact - the culture at large.

Published in Tekk

Video game adaptation an unengaging experience

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 02 November 2016 12:08

Rusty Lake: Roots' worth the price of admission

The Rusty Lake series of point-and-click puzzle games have long been known for their creepy aesthetic; the tradition continues with the recently-released 'Rusty Lake: Roots' ($2.99, available on Android, Apple, Steam, and iOS), a multi-tiered game that doles out the grim backstory of some of the characters that have previously been revealed to players of the unnerving game.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 11:24

Pokmon GO' causing real-life pain

LOS ANGELES Beware: 'Pokmon Go,' a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, can be harmful to your health.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 22 June 2016 10:32

'Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art'

New book explores cultural evolution by way of the internet

In a world increasingly driven by rapid advancement in technological capabilities, it can be a little weird to exist as one of those people who, by accident of birth, straddles the line between those largely disconnected from the internet world and those who have no concept of a world without it.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 11:53

Warcraft' what is it good for?

Video game adaptation offers interesting visuals, messy narrative

Video game adaptations have long been among the toughest nuts for Hollywood to crack. Despite the fact that video games have become one of the most massive entertainment industries in the world, with beloved franchises inspiring millions of people to spend billions of dollars, the transition from small screen to large has rarely been a successful one.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 10:03

King's Quest: Once Upon a Climb

Some people's nerd cred comes from comic books and movies, but mine has its roots in video games. When I was growing up I played King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne on the family Atari-ST. The graphics were what you'd consider a little flat and you had to type in your commands. So things have come a long way, but that doesn't mean we don't miss some of the older-style games.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 04 May 2016 10:01

Weekly Time Waster (05-04-2016)

'Zenge: Starborn'

Published in Time Waster Weekly
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