School of Movies
Castlevania (The Video Games)

Castlevania (The Video Games)

September 10, 2021

[School of Everything Else 2021]

An iconic series of games that has run since 1986 but never really resonated with mass audiences the way that Mario and Sonic did. These are the tales of vampire hunters and the creatures of the night that stand between them and (usually) Dracula. 

They have gone through many phases, and we cover each of them here in this mammoth, epic and thoroughly comprehensive show. First there are the side-scrolling whip-and-jump titles from the NES onwards through the SNES and Mega Drive, followed by their reinvention as both 3D action games, and (more significantly for video gaming history) as metroidvanias (a term that had to be invented to best describe them).

We take you through the rocky territory of Lords of Shadow and the triumphant return as "Bloodstained" as publisher Konami ran the official license into the ground with pachinko machines. We even touch on the strange and elusive mobile games. 

This show will tell you which of the 30+ titles are really worth sinking time into and why. And the whole thing is soaked in atmosphere and a dark, Gothic smorgasbord of classic music. 

Guests:

Jason "Chewie" Slate @TheManaPool

Alexa Vargas @Plutoburns whose YouTube channel is here

Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid

May 28, 2021

[School of Everything Else 2021]

This show was recorded a long, long time ago, pre-pandemic, and has been in cryo-storage, waiting to be unleashed. It's all about the 1998 seminal classic, Metal Gear Solid by visionary, genius, dirty old gimmer and maddening eccentric Hideo Kojima. It was an absolute linchpin of my formative years in gaming, and to my mind has only been bettered in the rest of its series dramatically speaking with Snake Eater.

For this show I went to the absurd lengths it took to acquire the GameCube remake "The Twin Snakes", allowing me to not only appraise that maligned shift in engine and ramped up post-Matrix style, but also to make a serious statement on the importance of not only remakes but remasters, and in continuing them down the line of machines, as lack of backwards-compatibility leaves more and more titles in an unplayable state for the average gaming enthusiast.

We go into the innovative metatextual gameplay, the crazy characters and foreboding, yet satirical atmosphere as we piece together what made this one such a massive winner. 

Guests:

Toby Jungius @TJungius of Through the Wind Door 

Derrick Ritchie @thenewdelboy

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

May 14, 2021

[School of Everything Else 2021]

This show was recorded back in 2020 not too long after the remake of the 1999 game was released, so there will be speculation regarding which direction Capcom will take the series, rather than a focus on Resident Evil VIII (which at the time of release was launched just days ago).

This was to Resident Evil 3 (the sequel to one of my favourite games of the 1990s) in a way that its remake is to the remake of Resident Evil 2 (one of my favourites of the 2010s). And it was a pivotal moment for both the original and the remake, when Capcom took the series in a direction that began like the cautious survival horrors of the previous decade but then evolved into crazy action. And our discussion is about how that seems like an inevitable path once again, and why this cycle might not be that bad.

This show is being released after well over a year of pandemic, though recorded at the beginning. It remains the biggest in my lifetime, and people are scared. So there's still a certain strange appeal about the notion of confronting our fears and seeing them symbolically rendered into disgusting undead beasties we can shoot, stab and evade. That makes this game either wildly inappropriate for our times or the most appropriate.

Guests:

James Perkins @Mijmeister

Derrick Ritchie @thenewdelboy

Hades

Hades

March 12, 2021

[School of Everything Else 2021]

An absolutely phenomenal game which took 2020 by storm. We talk about, among other things, why being trapped inside for month after month just made a game where you're trying to escape the Underworld weirdly more resonant.

There's an astonishing amount of story in there, astonishing art design and aesthetic, some of the most engrossing, multi-layered and sexy characters to ever grace a video game and action that's smoother than the downy fur on Cerberus' belly. 

This was also a special session because we recorded with everyone on-camera and since Sharon has played ten times the amount I have, she hosts. 

This was a commissioned episode from Nicholas Jaragosky, Jesse Ferguson, Chris Finik, Toby Jungius, Mackenzie Eastram, Maya Santandrea and Laureta Sela.

And our guests are Victoria Luna B. Grieve, Laureta Sela, Maya Santandrea, Matt Wardle, Greg Downing and Toby Jungius.

 

Next week... WandaVision

Resident Evil 2

Resident Evil 2

March 20, 2020

[School of Everything Else 2020]

This show was recorded back in 2019 not too long after the remake of the 1998 game was released (in fact it was before the free DLC emerged) so there will be speculation regarding when Capcom would naturally proceed to a remake of Nemesis (which at the time of release is due out in a matter of days).

This was one of my favourite games of the 1990s, and the remake is one of my favourites of the 2010s, as well as being one of the most impressive and accomplished reworkings of a game that by modern standards is fairly simple and even clunky.

This show is being released at the time of a pandemic, the biggest in my lifetime, and people are scared. So there's a certain strange appeal about the notion of confronting our fears and seeing them symbolically rendered into disgusting undead beasties we can shoot, stab and evade. That makes this game either wildly inappropriate for our times or the most appropriate. 

Guests:

James Perkins @Mijmeister 

Derrick Ritchie @thenewdelboy 

Chrono Trigger

Chrono Trigger

February 14, 2020

[School of Everything Else 2020]

A game I have a 25-year history with, just starting and stopping over and over like Groundhog Day (as I will detail in the opening of the show) and have now finally concluded my staggered, protracted journey with.

In the UK during the 90s things were not as richly abundant in terms of readily available JRPGs (again, I'll detail this), so Chrono Trigger was yearned for, but never released in 1995 over here. In fact the first official physical copies on sale on British store shelves were the DS version, 14 years later in 2009.

But it's one of the most beloved of its type, and on this show (which I had to recruit a couple of experts for, to fill in all those details and secrets) hopefully should go some way to determining why it became such an abiding favourite. 

And before you ask me to delve into a dozen more fifty-hour JRPGs, take into account that this commission was a VERY special case!

Guests

Kevin Veighey

Alexander Peregrine 

And many thanks to the commissioners: Kevin Veighey, Alexander Peregrine, Nicholas Kosky, Matthew A Seibert and Brian Legg.

Spider-Man (PS4)

Spider-Man (PS4)

November 30, 2018

[School of Everything Else 2018]

This turned out to be one of my favourite games of all time, and as you'll hear it pushed so many of my positive buttons that exceptionally good games released immediately after I finished just don't measure up, for a variety of reasons.

This was a commissioned show by Chris Finik. I wasn't going to do an episode about it because I was very aware it might become work and suck all the joy out of the experience, but I was able to hit the right balance and crucially I decided while I was halfway through rather than being set the daunting task of completing and assessing forty hours of gameplay without having played a moment.

There are strong arguments afoot that this is one of the finest depictions of the wall-crawler in any media. We talk about why, and save the spoilers for the last act (around two hours in and you'll get a fair warning so nothing will be made worse for you if you haven't played, only better). 

Guest:

Jesse Ferguson of Recorded Tomorrow

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

March 30, 2018

[School of Everything Else 2018]

We're back on video games with a very intriguing commission. This one takes the form of a third-person action adventure with some protracted puzzling elements, but underneath the format there is a dark and upsetting, remarkably sensitive story about the nightmarish challenges that sometimes have to be faced when a person is suffering from psychosis. 

Made by Ninja Theory, the dev team behind Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, DMC and Disney Infinity 3.0 this game does things with its soundscape that very few others do. If you've not played it this show might still be a good place to start because you might either find it frustrating or alarming to play or else miss quite a bit as you barge through the many horned enemies. 

WARNING: This one gets heavy and maybe even frightening. 

Guest:

Doctor Lorin Grieve from Year of Steam

Overwatch

Overwatch

February 23, 2018

[School of Everything Else 2018]

One of the greatest character lineups in a multiplayer video game ever assembled, Overwatch presents us with a rich and colourful feast of carefully, lovingly prepared treats. 

We spent two and a half hours talking over the 26 current heroes, their backgrounds and design. That's our focus for the show, not playing the game itself or the mechanics.

This is a brand that's going to run and run and we suspect we'll be back here again at some point talking about a TV show or a movie or a different kind of game set in this world. We can't wait to see what Blizzard do.

Next Week: Black Panther

Guests

Jason "Chewie" Slate of The Mana Pool 

 Neil Taylor of TheKiddDogg 

Game Developer Glen Watts

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