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Wednesday Whimsy

Wednesday Whimsy

By: Caelrona

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Hiya all! Caelrona here, and I’ve got another Wednesday full of whimsy for you all. I’ve written a bit about video games before, but nothing too big. I did a post about one of my biggest guilty gaming pleasures; Harvest Moon, and I’ve also written a bit about my pretty serious addiction to Minecraft. So today I thought I’d write about my second biggest guilty gaming pleasure; Conker’s Bad Fur Day. This video game is so incredibly vulgar and disgusting, and I love it so much. The first time I played it, I was borrowing it from a friend’s brother who, for some reason unknown, had decided I should play it. I gotta say, I’m pretty dang grateful for that disturbing insight on his part, because I absolutely love this game. Something about a vulgar red squirrel, paired with the horribly designed N64 controller just gets me. While I no longer have the N64 cartridge (because it was borrowed, and they now cost upwards of $60 USD) I still play Conker on emulator on my computer, and I still enjoy it.

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Conker’s Bad Fur Day is an action platform game developed by Rare for the N64. It is Rare’s last game for that console, and one of the few N64 games requiring a 64MB cartridge. It is also one of the very few Nintendo games to carry an ESRB rating of ‘M’ for Mature. Conker’s development started like a lot of other Rare titles, however due to critical mockery for making yet another ‘Cutesy platformer’; Conker was retooled into a controversial game with pretty vulgar humor. It features a lot of technical effects that were uncommon at the time, especially for an N64 game, such as dynamic shadowing, lip syncing, colored lighting, no distance fog, large areas with a long draw distance, detailed facial animations, and individually rendered fingers on some characters. Unlike other N64 games, Conker relies heavily on cut scenes, and features a rich soundtrack. Rare also went in a new direction by getting rid of item collecting, which was a prominent feature in other Rare games like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64; instead utilizing context sensitive buttons to simplify things.

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The story follows Conker, an alcoholic red squirrel, who is attempting to return home to his girlfriend Berri after a night of binge drinking at the local tavern with his friends. Meanwhile, the Panther King finds that his throne’s side table is missing a leg and keeps spilling his milk. Unfortunately for Conker, the solution offered by the slightly unstable Professor Von Kriplespac is the use of a red squirrel as the fourth leg. Thus as Conker searches for his way home he finds himself embroiled in a series of increasingly absurd, gross and often dangerous situations, including (but not limited to) fighting a giant opera-singing pile of poo, knocking some big brass balls off a boiler, and helping a King Bee ‘pollinate’ a female sunflower large ‘stamens’; all while avoiding the King’s henchmen. Your life bar consists of 6 squares of anti-gravity chocolate, which can be found all over the world; and if you happen to die then don’t despair. Gregg, the Grim Reaper, will explain how squirrels, like cats, are one of those ‘special cases’ and Conker will get another chance.

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After the release of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Rare began development on another Conker game, referred to as Conker’s Other Bad Day. Sadly, this game was ultimately cancelled; although designer Chris Seavor said that it was to be a direct sequel, dealing with “Conker’s somewhat unsuccessful tenure as King. He spends all the treasury money on beer, parties and hookers. Thrown into prison, Conker is faced with the prospect of execution and the game starts with his escape, ball and chain attached, from the Castle’s highest tower.” When Rare was purchased by Microsoft in 2002, Rare instead developed Conker: Live & Reloaded, a pathetic excuse of a remake of Bad Fur Day, which was released on the Xbox console in 2005. Including updated graphics, updated camera control, an auto-targeting system and a brand new multiplayer mode, Conker:L&R also cut a lot of the fun from the game by replacing almost all of the obscene language with bleeps, changing several scenes and small bits of gameplay (such as the Key scene near the beginning) and in some cases replacing whole voice scripts that sound just terrible. I also read somewhere that a few chapters were cut out of the game, but I can’t find where I read that, or any evidence to back that up. All in all, considering that the game went from family friendly Nintendo to the killing field of Xbox, I was shocked at the censorship applied to Conker, especially since initial reports stated that they were going to be decreasing the censorship and adding content.

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So, that brings us to the conclusion of my second biggest guilty gaming pleasure; Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It is vulgar? Hell yes! It is disgusting? Even Conker vomits on occasion, so yeah. Is it fun? Most definitely. If Conker sounds like something you think you would enjoy, then I seriously recommend giving it a try. It is a lot of fun to play, and it will definitely take care of any cravings for nostalgic platformer action. Anyway, I’ve left Conker paused, and I would hate to keep my foul-mouthed squirrely friend waiting any longer!

Until next time,

Caelrona – signing off! ❤

Legend of Zelda: A Look at the Past

By @hmsbeefnuts

When I looked at the best Mario Games last week, I realised that if I didn’t write something about the other Nintendo superstar, Link, I would not be able to sleep at night. Well, I would obviously, I’m not that bothered really, but, it felt like it should be done anyway. I thought instead of just writing a Top 5 games, I would shift focus and do a Top 5 Moments. Ahhhh I bet you didn’t see that coming did you? Flipped it on you. Moments are what the Zelda games are made of. There are moments in the game that stand out as not only the best bit of the game in question, but stand out as some of the best moments in gaming as a whole. Now it must be remembered that this is a personal blog, filled with my opinions, and surely you will not all agree with my choices, I’m sure you will have some of your own, but I think we could all agree, if you have played it, that these moments are some of the finest in gaming history. So without further ado, here they are…

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS: LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST

This was the first Zelda game I played. I can remember opening the box and looking at the colourful map that came with it. This was a new type of game for me, in many ways it was everything that I had wanted from a game, but didn’t, at that point, know was possible. As I loaded the game into my SNES, I was excited as the title screen came up, as the preamble took place, and the game proper began, I was blown away. Link (I always called him Link, or Conan) was trying to sleep in bed, his Father suddenly has to leave, and an adventure begins. There was so much promise in this beginning, the rain, the lightening, the music, all played their part. No one did games like Nintendo back then, and this is still, to this day, one of my favourite moments in gaming.

THE LOST WOODS: LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST

Another moment from one of the greatest games of all time. For me, this is all about the music, I loved the lost woods theme, and would wander there just to hear the music. The mysterious fog, the secret paths, and of course, the Master Sword. Pulling the Master Sword from it’s pedastal for the first time was a great moment, one that would be repeated later in other games. It is the music though that is most memorable for me here though, Zelda music is always great, and this is one of my favourite tunes.

GROWING UP: OCARINA OF TIME

Ocarina of Time was the first forray of the Zelda franchise into 3D, and it was a spectacular first attempt. Now usually in the top 3 of any Best Video Games of All Time List, Ocarina is a game filled with moments, and the best moments of gaming history. You start the game as a child, three quests later, and you are ready to step into the body of adult Link. But how is this achieved, well, by heaving the Master Sword from it’s stone plinth in the Temple of Time. This is the Sword in the Stone myth, the King Arthur Myth, and it was a genuinely thrilling moment, even though in practice I just pressed a button. Suddenly Ocarina of Time felt like a different game, a more adult game, all with a simple press of a button. What a moment.

RIDING EPONA: OCARINA OF TIME

This has to be one of the greatest moments in gaming history, and one that I had been waiting for,for seemingly ages. Link on horse back, was my Knight fantasy in a game. Riding over Hyrule field on your noble steed, what a rush. I don’t think I need to say too much more about this one, it’s a simple pleasure, but a pleasure none the less.

TITLE SCREEN: WIND WAKER

I was initially a bit sceptical about The Wind Waker. Why did it look so weird? Boy was I wrong. Wind Waker now looks just as amazing as it did back then, and I started to realise this from the moment I popped the disc into my Gamecube. That title screen, the Disney level visuals, and the music. The music was unbelievable, this is some of my favourite game music to this day, so relaxing, so cheerful, so full of the promise of sea based adventure. No one does this stuff as well as Nintendo, sit back, and take a listen, I bet you play it more than once.

There we are. My favourite Zelda type moments. I’m sure there are a million more I haven’t included, and if you feel I have been lax, please feel free to tell me about your favourite moments in the comments below. Until next time HEY LISTEN!!!

ALL GEEK TO ME’S CELEBRATION OF MARIO

By @hmsbeefnuts

Oh Mario, you have been around seemingly all my life, providing some of the greatest games known to man, inventing numerous genres and sub-genres and killing literally thousands of turtles and mushrooms by jumping on their heads. I love Mario, I love Mario games, and it occurred to me that I haven’t really written a great deal on plumbing in general, and Italian Plumbers specifically. Now it must be said, in recent times I haven’t kept up with the adventures of Mario. I don’t own a 3DS, although I really want one, and thanks to the fact I fell out of love with the Wii, the last Mario game I played was New Super Mario Bros, which I absolutely loved. Time then to write a little something something about Mario, and what better way than a Top 5 Mario games? Before we start, how about we step back in time with a look at the intro to the Mario cartoon, good times…

SUPER MARIO BROS

Not the first Mario game, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros had come before, but this was the game that revolutionised platforming as we knew it. A magical world, of pipes, killer mushrooms, turtles, toadstool people, a beautiful Princess, and dangerous fire breathing monsters, and of course, a portly Italian Plumber called Mario Mario. Created by the great Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros is a stone cold classic and is the first game I played on a Nintendo Console, and put every game I had thus played in the shade.

Jumping, running, smashing turtles heads in with your feet, or burning mushrooms to death with the fire flower power up, Mario is fun for all ages, and is still fun, the first, or thousandth time you play. Do you know where the warp pipes were? Where the secret extra life was in the World 1-1? Then there was the music, what amazingly catchy tunes, it is no surprise my message and email tones on my phone are all Mario sounds. This game established Nintendo as place where dreams and adventures could come true, in your living room or bedroom, and you could play them, and it was awesome. Save the Princess, win the day, oh what’s that? Your Princess is in another castle? Good, more levels to explore and turtles to smash.

SUPER MARIO BROS 3

The first Mario was genius. Read about it above, but what started as a fine idea, and a fine game, was perfected in this sequel. Super Mario 2 was a bit of a departure for the series, as it was based on a game called Doki Doki Panic with altered sprites. SMB3 was a return to form and a game so bursting with ideas I can barely conceive of a way they managed to cram it all on to the humble NES. For the first time, Mario was able to fly, unaided by transport, by use of a leaf, which obviously turned Mario into a part plumber, part raccoon hybrid, that could obviously fly by running fast and wagging his tail, perfectly sensible.

The fire flowers and mushrooms were back, but now we had frog suits, that made swimming a breeze, or the hammer suit, that turned Mario into a hammer throwing maniac, dealing death to all enemies that dared defy him. Also, Mario could ride around in a gigantic green clockwork boot, mental, but in a way that was genius, like Batman. This game was simply the best thing on the NES, and that is saying something. It defined Mario as the leader and innovator for all video games, and proved that blue hedgehogs absolutely suck, no matte how fast they can go. The finest 8-bit platformer there will ever be, and one of the finest games committed to cartridge, you must play it.

SUPER MARIO WORLD

With the dawn of a new console generation, a new era of Mario began. How could Nintendo top the amazing success and quality of SMB3? Well, make everything bigger and better, with better graphics and sound, with more power ups, secrets and surprises, and one more thing… you can ride a bloody dinosaur, that can eat all enemies. Yoshi was a stroke of genius. The sexually ambiguous green dinosaur was a whole host of fun, gulping enemies, spitting fireballs, or even growing wings like some sort of lizardy pegasus.

Bowser was back, and once again had taken Peach, and that son of a bitch was going down, if it was the last thing Mario did. The game was a whole lot bigger and better, with genius level design, fiendish secrets and a map world that was almost as fun as the actual levels. The power ups were down significantly in this game, however, al the favourites reappear. Leaves are out, feathers are in, and this time, Mario has a cape, like Superman, but yellow. SMW is one of the best games ever made, and is as fun to play now as it was back in the day.

SUPER MARIO KART

Mario has appeared in countless different genres in his time, but this game was the one that convinced me that he could do far more than just murder mushrooms mercilessly. Mario Kart on the SNES is one of the greatest multi-player games ever made. Countless hours, and days, and probably weeks have been spent playing Battle Mode, or trying to beat a time trial time, or racing the Grand Prix a few hundred times. This game brought the good guys and bad guys together for a few races around the mushroom kingdom, or a friendly game of battle mode.

A great racing game, with great power ups, who hasn’t thrilled to a brilliant bank shot from a green shell? Or a last second shot from a red homing shell, separating first and second? Tactical and fun, Mario Kart is a great way to pass an afternoon, or a morning, or all night. There have been other iterations, but this is perhaps the purest and as the first, it deserves its place in the annuls of history.

SUPER MARIO 64

I simply could not believe that Nintendo was going to allow me to play as Mario in a 3D environment. Until I played it. Then I couldn’t believe how amazing the game was. This is in my top 10 games of all time, no doubt. Everything that made Mario games so awesome and magical in 2D, was transferred perfectly into 3D worlds that, although a bit blocky now, were amazing back then. From the first few minutes running around Peaches’ Castle, to the last epic showdown with Bowser, this game was one of the most fun games out there.

I still enjoy a little run around every now and then through my favourite worlds, shell surfing, cannon firing, riding on the back of gigantic plesiosaurs, this game has a little something for everyone. Still, in my view, the greatest 3D platformer ever, you must play this game.

So there we are, 5 of my most favourite Mario games, that everyone should have a go at, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Gaming For Girls Part 5

By Kirkiechick

Hello boys and girls, it is I, Hmsbeefnuts with an introduction for one of our regular contributers here at All Geek To Me, Kirkiechick. Here, she valiantly continues her quest through Arkham City, and looks ahead to ventures new. I’ll be back on Wednesday for some Whimsy, but for now, sit back, relax, as we venture into the exciting world of Gaming for Girls…

I have news everyone! I have managed to complete Batman Arkham City 100% in Story Mode. All be it on Easy, but at least I know how the story “ends”! Don’t worry I will try not to reveal too much now! I left you the last time with trying to get into a weapons store as Catwoman for Poison Ivy. I managed to do this. Then I had a decision to make. Catwoman had heard the radio conversations about the progress of Batman. I had to decide whether to save him or not. I’ll let you find out for yourselves the outcome of either decision 😉

Back to Batman’s storyline, I awoke and was able to continue with the story. I found the next stage was to continue to fight goons and pick up clues as to the manipulation of Arkham City. Eventually a showdown had to take place. I shall just say that the showdown and subsequent conclusion to the story is amazing and knocks the socks off Arkham Asylum. I was so pleased with myself that I had eventually finished the storyline of Arkham City. Since then I have been working on the side missions and collecting the Riddler Trophies and solving the riddles for Batman and as Catwoman. So guys if you haven’t played Arkham City yet, I suggest you do as you are in for a treat!

I have found that some of the Trophies are hard to get. This frustrates me as I keep trying and trying. Hopefully I’ll eventually get them! It is fun to switch between playing as Batman and as Catwoman. The side missions are fun and there are still plenty of goons to dispatch! I have upgraded fully for Batman and Catwoman.

I haven’t been playing on LA Noire or Lost at all, as I have been concentrating on Arkham City. Hopefully I will play more of them now. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into a good gaming session with LA Noire. Happy gaming guys!

Code Breaker: How Online Passes and DLC are Making Playing Games A Pain

By @hmsbeefnuts

This article originally appeared on GameNTrain.com

Two Fridays ago, I went to my local games emporium and picked up SSX on the 360. I hadn’t pre-ordered it, but I know a few guys there and I’m always polite to them, and so they slipped me the pre-order bonuses that they were offering for the game. These amounted to a new character and a whole new mountain to race my snow boarder down. Excellent, it always pays to be polite! I made my way home, I had a few hours before I needed to start work, and thought there were few better ways to kill time than relaxing with some off piste action. Unfortunatley, it was not going to prove so easy to enjoy my game.

I slipped the disc in, the game started, and an update had to download. 20 seconds later, I restarted the game, here we go! Oh. I have to enter a code to download my online pass. OK, here we go, a 25 character code, lets enter that with my pad, that’ll be easy. OK finally ready. Except, I remembered I had the pre-order bonus DLC. Could I be bothered? I decided that if I didn’t do it now I may lose the code sheet. Another two 25 character codes, input with the awkward method of control pad. Finally, after about 10 minutes I was playing the game. I liked it a lot actually. Now I know that 10 minutes isn’t a great deal of time, and that I can hardly complain about getting free stuff, at least it would be churlish in the extreme. However, this DLC and Online pass malarkey has really started to piss me off. Games are supposed to be an enjoyable pass time, to relax and forget the stresses and strains of working and relationships etc. DLC and these codes that gamers are constantly having to input, basically amounts to a few minutes of Data Entry before we can enjoy the game we have spent £40 on. That’s too much like work to be considered fun.

I used to think that DLC was a great idea. It extended the life of many of my favourite games, added new quests, characters or multi-player maps. I was happy to part with the extra cash on the few games that I deemed worth it, and then… DLC went crazy. Every game had DLC, and the DLC seemed to be more and more essential to the game. Almost as if developers were purposefully leaving parts of the full game out, just so they could charge consumers for it, and make extra money. But surely they wouldn’t do that right? Surely they wouldn’t charge you for DLC that was already on the disc. The Disc you bought for £40? Oh. Then we had day one DLC. That means that you bought the game, day one, probably had your free pre-order DLC, and then the developers had released further campaigns or maps etc. on your consoles download store. To get the full experience, you have to pay once, and then pay a little more when you get home. If the DLC is ready day one, it should be on the disc, for free. At least wait an appropriate amount of time before you come begging for more money.

I am quite simply becoming disgusted by this terrible grab for money. Now you might say that Jon, you don’t have to buy any of the DLC, no one is forcing you to buy it. You’d be right, no one is, but that doesn’t make it any more right. DLC done right is still a fine thing. Look at Bethesda games Oblivion and Fallout. Oblivion is an example of the very worst, and very best examples of DLC. Remember the reaction to Horse Armour? £5 for some shitty armour for your horse. However, DLC such as The Shivering Isles and Nights of the Nine expansions, offered a great deal for you 800 odd Microsoft points. Likewise the Fallout games. Each piece of DLC added something solid and worthwhile to the game. Yes it cost you a little more, but I at least thought you got your moneys worth. DLC has to be done correctly. Customers shouldn’t feel like they are getting ripped off. Price is important, but also timing. I can understand giving stores exclusive DLC in order to secure pre-orders, but when these exclusives become too much it all gets a bit ridiculous, see Batman Arkham City. Most stores had different DLC exclusives, it was a tough choice deciding where to pre-order the game.

Online passes are another aspect of gaming that has raised its ugly head recently, but is now firmly ingrained in the culture. I have never understood the reasoning behind the online pass. It goes a little something like this. A consumer buys say, SSX. After a few week, they get bored of it, and trade the game into a store, perhaps in order to afford a new game. Another customer then sees SSX in the store as a used game, picks it up and starts to play. Now companies like EA aren’t happy with this. They use the excuse that networks and servers that enable online play are expensive, and that the extra people who haven’t paid to play on it are driving up costs. The online pass then helps pay for these new players. Buy a new game, play online for free, after entering a code. Buy a game second hand, expect to pay £10 for the privilege of playing online.

All sounds pretty fair? Well it’s absolute bullshit. Only one person is using the game to play online. Firstly, the person who bought it new, they played online, then they sold it. They aren’t still playing it online are they? The person who has bought it second hand, well, they are still just one person, and if they are playing online, that’s still the same amount of people taking up server space, even though that person has changed. The extra people on the server excuse is absolute shit. The online pass is just an excuse for publishers to make money on used sales, which they can not do any other way. Used sales by the way are the main reason that game shops can survive.

In the UK our major game retailer GAME, has been recently rumoured to be closing, after some financial problems, which has resulted in it not stocking some huge games, Mass Effect 3 in particular. Used game sales help keep game retailers afloat. Yes there are undoubtedly problems with trading in your old games, you certainly won’t get a fair price, but they are an essential part of gaming culture for some consumers. Many people use trade ins in order to buy new games. Companies like EA may not get a piece of the action, but in many cases, people who buy used, would probably not buy new. EA are probably not losing a great deal of money this way. However, their draconian methods of trying to control consumers is far more likely to drive people away than secure sales. Look at Ubisofts DRM. We don’t have time to get into that here, but not being able to play your game unless you are connected to the internet is quite simply criminal.

Companies need to understand that making things harder and more expensive for loyal customers, is not the way to keep customers loyal. Punishing people who have paid you money to buy and play your game is counter productive. Is it any wonder that piracy is on the increase? Make things easy for people, and they will buy new, but most importantly buy. Make things hard, and more and more expensive, and people will look elsewhere for their entertainment, and perhaps pirate it. No one makes money from pirated games. Games should be easy and fun in order to play. Codes, online passes and increased DLC, are not aiding this process. They are making it a pain in the ass.

Unsung Geek Heroes

By Hmsbeefnuts

Now we all know who Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and James Cameron are. Likewise, we have all heard of Christian Bale, Harrison Ford and Jason Statham. Over the years, these people have provided us geeks with hundreds of hours of quality geek entertainment, and as a result, they are rightly rewarded with being known by the general populace, and of course, huge pay cheques. However, the films they are in are usually special effect extravaganzas, or based on characters that have a long standing in the geek community.

 In many cases, the thing you most like about a film etc, has been the work of a team of people who have worked for months and years on making the film/game look as good as it does, or working on the character, or even acting in the film, but being under heavy make up or CGI. Here I will discuss my personal unsung heroes, and even as I do so, I realise that thousands of people are being left out, so next time you enjoy a film etc., stay for the credits, and look at how many people were involved in making that film, game, or TV show.

Shigeru Miyamoto

 

If I told you that one man practically saved video games at a time when people thought they would be a passing fad, and helped turn them in to a world wide phenomenon that makes more money per year than Hollywood, you would be confused that most people don’t know his name. The fact that this man invented Mario, a character more well known globally than Mickey Mouse, but not only Mario, but The Legend of Zelda, and had a hand in Metroid, Poke’mon, Star Fox, Pikmin, Pilot Wings, F-Zero, Donkey Kong and a hundred more, is testament both to his creative talent, and the shame that the world should bare for not erecting a colossal statue to the man. Miyamoto is the dictionary definition of legend. He has given more children more hours of fun than any man on this planet, and lets be honest, more than a few adults too.

 

The Super Mario games alone would be enough to secure this man legendary status, but when added to his other accomplishments, especially The Legend of Zelda, have produced what many people agree are the greatest video games ever created. My personal favourite of his games include, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario World, and Star Fox 64, (Lylat Wars in the UK). The figure head of Nintendo, every time Miyamato appears at a press conference or trade show fun and hijinks are sure to follow. Please people, remember the name, he may not have had anything physical to do with Call of Duty or Halo, but in his own way, it is because of the trail blazing role he played as the creator of the modern video game, that video games were such a large part of all our childhoods. I challenge you not to smile whilst playing Mario or Zelda, or when beating a friend at Mario Kart Battle Mode.

Jack Pierce

 

Universal Horror make up master, and creator of the iconic looks of many of our beloved movie monsters. Ask a child to describe Frankenstein, Dracula or the wolfman, and inevitably they will describe a creature incredibly similar to Jack Pierces’ work. This guy is such a legend that other people on this list think he is legend, yeah he’s that good. Working in the early days of film, Pierce had to use all his gifts to create these wonderful effects. The Wolfman for example must have taken hours each day to apply to actor Lon Chaney Jnr. Each yack hair glued individually and painstakingly to the actors face, it’s no wonder that the two argued frequently.

 

The Frankenstein monster make up is now the established look of the monster, in reality an eerie green, in black and white, the fearsome creature, with it’s scars, square head and electric nodes on his neck (not bolts as is commonly assumed) the creature is a marvellous combination of actor and make up. Now I understand that the technicalities of the make up technician probably do not interest the average man, or woman on the street, but in my mind, Pierces’ make up kit should be placed in a museum and treated with as high esteem as any Renaissance era scrawling.

Richard Taylor

 

I don’t know if you have watched the special features on the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD’s or Blu-rays, but you should. If you have, you can’t have failed to notice the squeaky voiced bespectacled geek genius that is Richard Taylor. Creative powerhouse of the greatest effects company working today, WETA Workshop, this Kiwi man marvel has, with Peter Jackson, and hundreds of their underlings, created the impossible. LOTR was a book that most people assumed would be un-filmable, and whilst it is due to Jacksons tight direction and vision that the film was completed, it was thanks to Taylor and the fine people at WETA that the film looked so damn good, authentic and lived in, every prop, miniature, creature and weapon were created from scratch with loving care and attention to detail. It all looks so good because it all makes sense, items have a common inception and a story behind them, really watch the documentaries on the DVD’s, it’s like a few years in film school, but far more entertaining.

 

Taylor has also been heavily involved in King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Avatar, films that I think you will agree were stunning, at least visually, and in my opinion, stunning all round. Taylor is a major reason that WETA is now seen as the premier effects company in the world, and when you look at their innovations in the world of mo-cap, or their stunning work with their so called bigatures and their pioneering mass army programme MASSIVE, Taylor has helped shape the modern cinematic experience, and from humble beginnings, working in a shed on Jacksons early films Braindead, Meet The Feebles and Bad Taste. The guy deserves a haka.

Stan Lee

You might think that Stan Lee gets enough recognition for his work on Marvel comics, after all he has a cameo in basically every marvel film there has ever been, and I can understand this, but we have to remember people, we are geeks. We delight in the now standard Stan Lee cameo, whether being saved from an automotive death by a young Matt Murdoch, being confused for Hugh Heffner by Tony Stark, drinking a bottle of soft drink infused with Bruce Banners’ blood or trying to move Moljnir with a pick up truck, Stan Lee it would seem gets enough geek recognition. But I wonder, does the average person who just goes to see these films know who the hell the crazy old man is in these films? Well they should, for this man has had a hand in more modern myths than almost any other, the man deserves an Oscar for most important cameo in superhero films for a man who actually created the character, except that he would be the only nominee, and would win every year.

 

Stan the Man has had a hand in Spider-man, The X Men, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, The Avengers, Daredevil and many many more characters, the guy is Marvel. OK so in recent years, his creative output has been, well, not so good Stripperella anyone? But the guy deserves a break, and should get one. So the next time your in a Cinema, or at home with friends watching a Marvel movie, and Stan Lee shows up, cheer, and whisper (at the cinema) or shout (if at home) the name of the great man, and spread the word, Excelsior!!

Andy Serkis

The worlds most underrated actor in my opinion, Andy Serkis has given birth to some of modern cinemas most remarkable characters. Caesar the chimpanzee from the latest instalment of the Planet of the Apes franchise will no doubt be over looked come awards season, but the performance, mo-capped by Serkis and WETA, is outstanding. The subtlety of Serkis’ work helps create a living breathing character that holds his own with the human characters. Serkis himself has described the mo-cap process as basically digital make up, the actor is still very much acting, and emoting, but instead of make up, a CG character mirrors the actors motions and emotions. His work as Kong in King Kong was again a work of genius. Playing the character as very much a gorilla, not some monster, Kong exhibited a wide range of emotions and character traits, and it is a cold heart indeed who does not shed a tear when the big ape hits the pavement, after that horrendous fall.

 

It is however, Serkis’ work as Gollum, the evil Hobbit ring bearer in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, that will always be his master work. Quite simply CG characters could be described as living in B.G. (Before Gollum) and A.G. (Anno Gollumai). B.G. Characters, hello Jar Jar Binks, are quite simply, the Homo Erectus cousins to Gollums Homo Sapien. The performance on Serkis is infused in every asset of Gollum, not just the voice. Gollum was one of the most complicated characters put on screen in the last few years, and thanks to Serkis, was 100% believable. Deserving of numerous Oscar credits, Serkis’ work in the advancement of acting is unparalleled.

Rick Baker

 

Our second make up man on the list, and another veteran of the mighty werewolf. Baker is a master of his craft. His practical special effects and make ups are really unrivalled in the cinematic world. He has worked on Hellboy, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London and even Cursed!! But every genius has the odd misstep. His work on the werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf in London alone is worthy of his inclusion in any list of geek heroes. The scene is an amazing example of what practical effects can achieve, worth watching on its own even if you have no desire to watch the movie, you should though its really good. His work on other werewolf movies is equally as good, and this guy has worked on a fair few in his time.

 

The variety in his work shows the man’s range and depth. The werewolves of The Howling, are very different to the American werewolf, which in turn is very different to my favourite make up/effect of his, in the remake of The Wolfman. This film got a lot of hate, but I loved it, and most of all, I loved the design of The Wolfman. Big, hairy, be-fanged and be-clawed, a killing machine and a superb movie monster. I know he got stiffed during the filming as he had designed a practical transformation that by all accounts was going to outmatch the one in American Werewolf, and it is a shame that the film makers decided to go with CGI effects in the end, but never the less, his work in the movie is still outstanding. A master of a sadly slowly disappearing art, the practical effect is being steam rolled by the CGI effect, and people of Hollywood, I implore you, there is room for both!

So there we have it, a small selection of people who need more recognition for the amazing work they do, or have done, in the geek realm. Of course, I would also like the thank all the stunt men, fight choreographers, design teams, sfx teams, writers, best boys, camera operators, concept designers, weapon specialists, miniature departments, practical effects teams….

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