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Hello and welcome to the personal blog for journalist and critic Joseph Ewens.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Game of the Year 2010 - Feature - PlayDevil

Finally for this glut of blog posts, I was among the writers who contributed to PlayDevil's Game of the Year 2010. Click below to see which five I selected, with a little blurb to explain each of my picks.

As with films, there were plenty of titles I missed in 2010, but I confident most of my selections would challenge for a place in any end-of-year list. Apart from Pokemon. Don't judge me!

Film of the Year 2010 - Feature - Den of Geek

The hive mind at Den of Geek broke down into its collective parts and each submitted their top 5 films of the year. I was one of these humble nodes and you can click the link below to find out what I selected.

The overall winner is definitively not what I would of chosen. Not that I think Toy Story 3 is bad, it's just definitely not as good as everyone else seems to think it is. So there!

Otherwise, if I missed something awesome it's probably because I didn't see it. There were so many fine looking features I missed in 2010, but DoG wanted personal selections and that is what I gave them. I'd encourage you to check out anything from my five you haven't see. I know from scouring my colleague's lists that there are plenty of films I'll be doing my best to catch up on in 2011.

Epic Mickey - Review - Den of Geek

Anyone clued in to the roster of upcoming video game releases might have been more than a little excited by the prospect of Epic Mickey. After all, the idea of combining the mind behind cult favourite Deus Ex with Disney's disc-eared avatar seems intriguing. Words like "dark" and "world-altering" were thrown around during the development, creating a small pocket of intense hype.

That tiny bubble burst into a cascade of disappointment following the game's release, which proved more rote than Epic. Still, it isn't bad and if you weren't caught up in the quagmire of prerelease hysteria, you might find that Epic Mickey scratches your 3D platforming itch for a little while.

Reikland Revolutionaries - Supplement - Liber Fanatica

This is one for fans of roleplaying and/or Warhammer. I know you're out there. Don't deny it! I can see that D&D 3.5 rulebook stuffed under your shirt and those paint-stained fingers thrust into pockets. You don't fool me, ultra-nerd!

Trying to describe roleplaying is notoriously difficult. I usually fail to find a palatable middle ground between 'collaborative storytelling' and 'men with beards and dice pretending to be wizards'. I'm not sure which sounds worse, but all you really need to know is, yes it's very nerdy, and, yes, it's very fun.

For this unofficial supplement to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3, I've concocted a series of revolutionary groups who make their home in the fictional province of Reikland. It's some added background flavour for players and GMs, along with fodder for potential campaign ideas and plot points. This forms a nice prelude to the work I'm currently undertaking for WFRP 3 proper, which should see the light of day during the late spring to early summer.

Turner Prize 2010 - Review - Aesthetica

In what is becoming a worryingly monthly trend, I have just now found the time to update my blog. I would promise to be more punctual with these posts, but I suspect I'd be too busy to keep my word. I'm afraid you'll have to put up with binge blogging for now.

Early in December I wrote my first article for the Aesthetica Blog, sister to the modern art magazine of the same name. What better place to start than the Turner Prize, an award that many people consider emblematic of what is both right and wrong with art today. As evidence of the strong feelings it evokes, check the second comment on the post, which contains such gems as, "Are u really that dumb that you think what u believe matters ?" Stirring stuff.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

DeathSpanks: Thongs of Virtue - Review - PlayDevil

Despite the curious title, this isn't some kind of bizarre sex game, but the latest computerised offering from Ron Gilbert - of Monkey Island and general LucasArts fame. In the much-aped vein of Diablo, DeathSpank is all about murdering monsters with increasingly awesome sharp/explosiony implements.

The gameplay is satisfying, but the real reason you come to a Gilbert game is for the witty wordplay. Every single line of dialogue is delivered with a charmingly over the top panache from the stellar voice-cast. The quips are not exactly Stoppardian, but there are enough chucklesome lines to get you through the game with a smile on your face.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Comic Jumper - Review - PlayDevil

Twisted Pixel have just announced Ms. 'Splosion Man, a sequel to their debut XBLA title, 'Splosion Man. Sandwiched between the two combustibles is Comic Jumper, a sidescrolling shooter that revels in the kind of fourth-wall bursting sillyness that has become Twisted Pixel's trademark.

The action itself is a little suspect, but it has the rare honour of being a genuinely amusing video game.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Problem With Sex as a Video Game Goal

Over at the mighty Kotaku, an editorial of mine has been posted on the subject of sex in video games. More specifically, the way in which video games that attempt emotional narratives often treat intercourse as the completion, or pinnacle, of a relationship.

It's a thrill to write for Kotaku and, judging by the number of comments, the article seems to have struck a minor cord. Plenty have chimed in tell me how wrong I am, or suggest games where romantic relationships are depicted more successfully. There are even a few who sympathise with my arguments, but then there's no accounting for taste.

To see people engaging with your work is all very gratifying and lovely. Hopefully a harbinger of things to come.