A Joke – a play by Dan Freeman

Two days ago, in a small theatre located in Winsford I took my seat to watch the first ever public performance of ‘A Joke’ and would serve as the first of two previews before heading north where it will form part of the Edinburgh Fringe this year.


This is a new play by Dan Freeman; the creator/writer of ‘The Minister of Chance’, ‘The Light of September’ and the main constituent of Mundo Jazz.
Now this isn’t a review but my thoughts of the evening and confession time; I’m not a totally impartial observer since I had sponsored the play (well page 2 at least). This neatly introduces the fact this play is crowdfunded and various perks are on offer to help keep this show quite literally on the road. I’ll put enough links to make Jacob Marley blush at the end.

Now to the play itself… A tricky one this since I’m not going to spoil it but I have to write something and I think it is fair to at least give you an idea of what to expect.


The play is a three hander with each of our performers appearing onstage with knowledge of the world in general but nothing of themselves. As it progresses our three Joketeers(?!) go on a ‘Fools Journey’ navigating themselves through the structure of a joke and as a consequence life – after all what happens to a joke once it’s told?

To reveal more would be unfair but personally I saw within the performances various interpretations of the Fool, glimpses of Harry H Corbett and even homages to Flanagan and Allen. This may just be my imagination however but these thoughts crossed my mind as I watched.

Up to now I’ve not mentioned the cast. Our unnamed journeymen are played by Richard Oliver, Sylvester McCoy and Robert Picardo. Each provide a different perspective on their situation and are different characters despite being identically dressed (all costumes can be bought – I told you it was crowdfunded).

Now I said that this isn’t a review but it was a marvellous night with laughs a plenty.
The logo may be a chicken but it isn’t by any means a turkey.

Tickets and play information
 

http://www.danfreeman.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/ajokeplay/

Author

https://www.facebook.com/dan.freeman.127

Cast

https://www.facebook.com/4SylvesterMcCoy/

https://www.facebook.com/RichardOliverActor

https://www.facebook.com/rpicardo1

Team Racing League Races onto Steam

Team Racing League OUT NOW!
New take on the racing genre hits Steam today.

Haarlem, the Netherlands, August 11: Dutch developer Gamious, today releases Team Racing League: the first ever dedicated team-based racing game. Team Racing League delivers a totally new, esports, 3on3, team-based racing game experience. Use racing skills, smart tactics and unique abilities to beat your opponents. Team Racing League is now released on Steam Early Access at €9.99/£6.99/$9.99.

In Team Racing League, two teams of three players battle each other to the finish line; best- of-three format. Only one player needs to finish first for a team to win. Other players can choose to support their racing team mate, fight for position, or screw over opponents. With a range of unique abilities and team tactics at your disposal, TRL has been designed to be the most competitive top-down racer ever, creating an arena with lots of e-sports potential.

Check out a race in Team Racing League, for once you start playing you will be hooked!

“Team Racing League offers a new racing experience with a very competitive vibe,” said Pim Bouman, CEO of Gamious. “It provides something for everyone as you can play the game in different ways. Players will need to cooperate with their team mates if they want to win.”

Team Racing League’s development was inspired by top-down retro arcade racing games like Super Off Road and Championship Sprint. Instead of relying on power-ups, the game is all about teamwork and racing skills. It aims to be a pure racer, without artificial equalizing mechanics. During the race, the entire track and all racers are visible in a top-down view, giving both players and spectators an excellent overview. Team up with friends and beat your opponents together in exciting online multiplayer matches!

For more information:

Team Racing League on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/504460
Find out about Twitch Game Mode: http://www.gamious.com/team-racing-league-twitch-mode/

Masquerada Arrives on PS4; XB1 Update, Switch Coming

Masquerada: Songs and Shadows Unmasks Itself Today on PlayStation 4

PC Free Content Update Now Live, Xbox One Release Delayed Until 23 August, Nintendo Switch™ Version Revealed

Singapore - 8 August, 2017 - Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, a tactical RPG featuring the voice acting talents of Felicia Day, Matt Mercer, Jennifer Hale, Dave Fennoy, and Ashly Burch, launches today on PlayStation 4.
 
The PC version simultaneously receives a free update, adding all the new content debuting today on PlayStation 4. Publisher Ysbryd Games and developer Witching Hour Studios have rescheduled the Xbox One launch to 23 August, 2017. A Nintendo Switch version is in development, with the release date to be announced later.
 
A New Game+ mode enhances the dark Venetian story with additional scenes, extended dialogue, and new fights including a giant chicken boss. Main character Cicero Gavar will face the challenges in this new game mode armed with skills from all four elements instead of the single element chosen in the regular campaign.
 
Investigating the disappearance of a friend leads Cicero on a journey through a magical setting, inspired by Renaissance-era Venice and depicted in a vibrant, hand-drawn style. He and his companions must combine their elemental skills in real time combat with tactical pause to overcome the foes in their way, human or otherwise.
 
A sharp class divide puts Mascherines, masks that grant magical powers, in the hands of only the rich and powerful. Five years of civil war have destroyed many of the precious artifacts, and Cicero's party will learn along the way that the secrets and hardships of their pasts are intimately intertwined with the war, their society, and the history of the Mascherines themselves.
 
"The mysteries that Cicero and his friends unearth are all interconnected with the greater mysteries of the setting and social issues of the city-state in which they live," says Ian Gregory, Creative Director, Witching Hour Studios. "We've crafted something really special and are glad to bring it to a new audience."
 
"This is a fantastic and imaginative game, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it," says Felicia Day, voice actress for the character Orlana Corvail.
 
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows can be played in English, French, German, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese and Turkish languages, and is available for $19.99.
 
For more information, please visit the official website or follow @YsbrydGames and @WitchingHourSG on Twitter.

Gangs of Space Early Access Out Now on Steam

Gangs of Space launches today on Steam!

Greetings,

Today is a wonderful day for us beacause Gangs of Space launches on Steam Early Access!

You like bullet hell shmup, rogue like and MMO? That's good, our game has lot of love for you. Choose a ship, found your gang, invite your friends and conquer the galaxy before other gangs and pilots!

The game is a Free to Play without any cash/ingame shop but you can upgrade with one our 3 packs if you feel the need. Each one gives you new storage spaces for your ships or your precious loot, some pocket money to start and buy a nice ship or a skin and the possibility to rename some parts of the galaxy.

The launch on Steam is a new step in our history and we're realy happy to share this announcement with you. The game that we dreamed of is now available on PC, Mac and Linux and we sincerely hope you'll enjoy with it.

Next SEGA Forever Game is Ristar Download for Free

CATCH A RISING STAR!

The original Starboy joins the SEGA Forever Collection, just in time for the Weekend

SAN FRANCISCO, LONDON – August 10, 2017 – Get ready to grab your enemies... and head-butt them! Today Ristar, originally released in 1995 for the SEGA Genesis, joins the SEGA Forever collection as a free-to-play mobile title with ad support. Players can now download the game for free from the App Store for iPhone and iPad and Google Play Store for Android devices.

In Ristar, players explore six planet levels as a shining shooting star with stretchable arms, grabbing on to surroundings and enemies alike in an effort to topple Greedy, the evil tyrant who has taken ahold of the galaxy of Valdi.

With added features including leaderboards, cloud saves, controller support, and more, this official emulation of the unique side-scrolling platformer Ristar is the latest game to join SEGA Forever, a growing collection of classic SEGA titles from every console era that are available free-to-play (with ad support) for mobile devices. Additionally, players who wish to experience the games without ads can remove them for a one-time in app purchase priced at $1.99.

Death Squared Nintendo Switch Review

You will die a lot. Those five words neatly explain what will happen when you play Death Squared.
Want more? - For the most part you will be entirely responsible…


However you’re here for the complete package; So Death Squared is firstly a puzzle game and secondly a test on how well you can keep calm under pressure and not shout at each other*.


Now sidestepping the plot for a moment I’ll attempt to explain the basics of the game.


There are cubes that you control. In single player there are two (red and blue) whilst in multiplayer there are four (add a yellow and green to the mix).
So the number of players varies from 1, 2 or 4. The play environment is composed of tiles with various properties and a few other ‘toys (?)’ whose actions are in response to switches or to the movement of specific player cubes.

The basis of the game is to move these coloured cubes from their starting positions to their respective goals (denoted with a matching coloured circle).
And with that simple premise be prepared for torture.


Initially the levels are a little pedestrian. The linear routes helping to focus your attention on the obstacles you face. As the levels go by the game starts to introduce features and what can only be called ‘tricks’ that are designed to foil your progress. Part of the game’s design is that you’re expected to die since some of the traps when released are unavoidable; that surprisingly doesn’t mean it’s unfair, just designed to give you a good rubbing just when you think that you’re home and dry.

Later levels open out the playfield which actually does provide a different challenge. You are now faced with the question of which way shall I go (?) and is that tempting switch part of the test or a lure to extract another fatality. The deaths you experience are totalled for each level and there is no limit to the number of lives, you just restart the level after your demise. The challenge is in solving the puzzle and remembering the solution as you negotiate the ‘dance’ that you perform with the bots to ensure their survival.


At this point I’m going to veer away from the play mechanics and look at presentation. The cubes are ‘in fact’ A.I. bots and inhabit a series of test chambers. In game the inter-level sequences are characterized with audio of David, a slacker employee, and Iris his A.I. companion discussing life, the universe and well everything A.I. bot related. 
All this does sound very Portalesque but is very well done and sets the context for the puzzles whilst giving the player a continuing narrative (and confession time I have no idea what happens at the end – I’ve yet to finish the thing).

In fact the presentation of the whole package is of a high standard with a consistent look and feel. Apart from the colour, the bots are identifiable by an increasing number of lights giving them all ‘faces’ with an additional light on the top to show which bot you’re controlling. This brings up another point about the control system. Each of the Switches controllers operate one of the Bots and can also operate one additional bot when required. So in single player each stick operates its own Bot (a note to Neon owners here – the Bot colours are OPPOSITE to the controller colours) whilst in Multiplayer you may be required to control an extra Bot by holding down the shoulder button).

As you progress the levels unlock and you can revisit completed levels at any time. There is also a series of extremely hard levels (The Vault) for both single and multiplayer that are unlocked after you complete the respective sections. As I’ve not managed to complete the game yet I cannot comment on the difficulty of the bonus levels. So what lies beyond in unknown so I’ve no idea if you’d consider them a reward or a curse.

So the all-important round up. Is it any good?


Well yes it is but don’t wander in thinking that it will be easy or a quick game. It is a challenge and one that will keep you busy for quite a while.
Now if you excuse me I’ve some A.I. Bots that I’ve got to lead to their early death.

*Multiplayer only feature (shouting at the game is available in both single and multiplayer modes)

Death Squared for the Nintendo Switch was provided to us for an honest review. More information can be found and where to buy the game from, here.

- Neil Kenny

The First Pokemon Go School in the World?

Is this the first Pokemon Go School in the world?

The big Heritage, a none profit organisation based in Chester, UK. Have just announced what could be the first of its kind for the popular mobile game, Pokemon Go.

Watch out schools across the North West, we are rolling out a free Pokémon GO History programme from September.
Details to follow, but we can confirm that Woodslee Primary School in Bromborough will be the first school in the UK to be a Pokémon GO school. Local history and Pokémon GO in the classroom.
Share with a teacher who would love this!!!

Big heritage recently held a large scale Pokemon Go educational event in the City of Chester, that you can read about here. 

SAMURAI RIOT’ IS READY TO EXPLODE THROUGH STEAM IN SEPTEMBER 2017

‘SAMURAI RIOT’ IS READY TO EXPLODE THROUGH STEAM IN SEPTEMBER 2017'

Unleash yourself in the stunning visual landscape of brutal action

Wako Factory, a French indie development studio, is excited to announce Samurai Riot, their 2D, solo or co-op Arcade Beat'em Up for PC which is set for release on Steam

Samurai Riot in September 2017 and will cost £10.99, $14.99, €14.99.

Fans of this genre can look forward to a visual treat, where a backdrop story compels the player to really think about their decisions in game and the ramifications of their choices . Having been hired to bring peace and tranquility to the warring land, each choice you make as a Samurai, Tsurumaru/ Sukane, will have an influence on your destiny and, with an arsenal of deadly attacks at your disposal, the fight to make it through each battle will require guile, skill and forethought!

"The main inspiration in the creation of Samurai Riot is really simple -  we always loved to play cooperative games, especially arcade style - with each other. We felt that there are not enough local cooperative games to play,  so we decided to develop our own Beat’em Up, that focuses on the co-op experience.” said Kevin Buchet, game designer at Wako Factory. “We are also big fans of Japanese history and we have spent a lot of time on the backdrop story of the game, where you have to make the decision on what you would sacrifice in order to preserve your honor as a samurai and feel that our game seamlessly mixes traditional Japanese elements and mythology, in a fresh and modern take on the classic genre.”

Samurai Riot offers a plethora of choices and features including both solo and cooperative play, where the story immerses both players equally, with a multi-branching storyline, complete with eight different endings. Conversely, you could enter a PVP fight against your partner to win the lead! The more you play, the more you accumulate points to unlock new fighting schools for better replay value.

Easy to pick up and play, but difficult to master, Samurai Riot rewards the more demanding gamer with deeper content. Players can choose from 14 fighting schools that add a plethora of gameplay variation to the character’s moves and the devastation they can unleash upon their enemies.

FEATURES:

  • A unique cooperative system with devastating combined attacks
  • Multi-branching storyline with moral decision making
  • 8 different endings
  • 2D Arcade Gameplay
  • Strong replay value: change your gameplay by choosing between various fighting schools
  • Superb in game music and SFX

Wako Factory, “We have already attended many conventions, both in France and America, feedback has been great and many are already impressed by the cooperative gameplay we have presented. It has been really positive meeting gamers and hearing what they think of our game.”

TEST YOUR SKILL, PROVE YOUR MASTERY AND WIN THE DAY IN THIS CO-OP FOCUSED GAME.

Press Release END -

Chester Pokemon Go Event 17 Miles in 1 Minute Video

A little late in posting the video here, but here's our summary of Chester's very own Pokemon Go event.

Christmas in July Trade Event - London 2017

Christmas in July for those who are not aware is a trade show (or shows) that allow retailers or manufacturers the opportunity to present their Christmas selections to the media far in advance of the big day.

From a single event, this has bloomed into a season with individual retailers having their own shows and on 20th July (2017) at the former Billingsgate Fish Market, Amazon took their turn.
Once inside the venue was open plan with different zones representing various parts of the Amazon organisation. Active demonstrations were everywhere whilst samples of Amazon Food were being circulated*.

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Of interest to our regular readers was the gaming area found on the upper floor. A small delegation from Microsoft were taking people through the features of the forthcoming Xbox One X whilst a rolling video was demonstrating the visual enhancements of the new hardware; an example of which was on a table. I actually got to hold the new machine, well the casing for it, and it is fair to say that visually it is a black version of the Xbox One S. Thus maintaining the new smaller profile but what did strike me from a tactile point of view was the surface knurling which gave it a more rugged feel, that’s not to say it was pronounced just more apparent to the touch.  Still no confirmation on the internal hard drive size but Gamescom is just around the corner and that might be the venue for final SCU details.

Literally next door to the Xbox display was the Oculus VR demonstration area. Here you could try from a selection of demos. For those that don’t know the Occulus Rift is a head mounted 3D display that is driven by a PC. In order to allow you to interact with the 3D environment they were using a pair of Touch controllers. These resemble a small moulded pistol grips inside a halo like hoops. Fitted with safety straps these hung from the wrists until required and soon became a natural extension of your hands. The pads, triggers and buttons were exactly where you’d want them and gave you far more control than that offered by a conventional controller. Although initially available separately these controllers are now part of a time limited bundle pack.

The next person to experience it was my trusty compatriot Brian (Doyle) who chose the demo where you’re inside a building with a lot of interactive items.  At this point I’ll hand over to Brian;

My previous exposure to VR gaming is minimal. At Celebration Europe last year, I did try "Trials on Tattooine", the ILMxLAB's own "proof of concept" experimental VR, which required every person trying it to have their own private room and a minder. As it involved a lot of turning around and lightsabre combat I can only imagine what we looked like to the minders, but I hope it kept them amused. (I will confess that when I tried to deflect Stormtrooper blaster fire back at them, eventually I think some of the troopers just gave up and left out of boredom)
So this was my first go at proper commercially targeted VR, and I wasn't sure how it would compare.

The person ahead of me for the Oculus Rift, was REALLY getting into the Fruit Ninja-like game, to the extent that there was a deal of jumping around which was really putting the length of the flex to it's limits.

Being far more sedate, I tried the "Robo Recall" demo, which involved interacting with a cute and friendly little floating robot in a cluttered room as it provides you with a range of little toys for you "3d print" and interact with, from toy bottle rockets, to a free floating target practice range.
The illusion is incredible, at a basic level you KNEW you were still in a large open-plan display area, but the game area walls crowding in around you convince you otherwise (as does the remarkable sound design). Even not having a physical presence in the game beyond a pair of disembodied hands (which can interact with things but can't register touch), isn't enough to spoil it (When it really should). As someone who needs varifocal glasses there wasn't even a loss in focus when the depth of field changed, which surprised me more than I expected.

Of course, the effectiveness of the illusion is one reason I would probably be very limited in my playing. Since I was "in" a crowded area, I had an overwhelming urge to constantly check what was behind me, and for the Robo Recall game that was fine as all there was a blank wall with a door (Which you couldn't open). How exactly I would react to any remotely creepy or menacing game, with jump scares and worse yet, having to check behind me for shambling things, I'm honestly not sure how I'd react, but I'm not sure I could actually enjoy it.

Thanks Brian, now to my thoughts or call it a second viewpoint which seems very appropriate for a stereoscopic device…


Once I was kitted up and had the unit configured to my eyesight (just a slider) I then went through a tutorial on the way you interact inside the virtual environment. Here I must mention that unlike my previous experience of VR the Touch controllers mean that you don’t just see the tool being used but your actual hand and thanks to the gesture input you see the position of your fingers too.
Once the tutorial was over I was able to make a selection from the choice of demos. Since you were able to ‘see’ what the wearer was experiencing on a screen and the choice that Brian had made seemed to be a lot of fun I selected the same one.
I then found myself in some sort of worn out building behind a counter. The décor had a strong 80s office vibe. The sense of place was palpable and without spoiling the demo it used a device to create items to interact with; the first being a robot buddy. The 3D was convincing and the Touch controllers gave me the required tools to interact with the environment and I was genuinely disappointed when the demonstration came to an end and I had to return to the real world.

Sadly, my time at the Amazon event was limited as we were a late arrival so the coverage now draws to a close but I must give grateful thanks to Amazon for their hospitality.
*I must confess that the lemon drizzle cake was the best I’ve ever tasted and incredibly moist. The carrot cake was pretty nice also…

- Neil Kenny and Brian Doyle

TMA 167 – On Game!

On a totally, 100% film discussion free podcast, the boys get back to the good stuff! Video m’games! Tom’s finally succumbed to the charms of JRPGs with Persona 4 (a Parry certified ‘game for planes’) and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Mat on the other hand (and to the surprise of nobody) has beaten Yakuza 3, so he spends his time telling you where it currently lies in his rankings, before he gets into the joys of the 4th instalment in the series…

Listen here.

 

Niantic Team up with Chester for Exclusive Pokemon GO Event

Niantic Labs the developers behind Pokemon GO have partnered up with the City of Chester to bring Pokemon GO to fans around the UK for an action packed event on the weekend of Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd of July. 

The event will take place along side Chester's annual Heritage Festival, which celebrates the heritage of one of the world’s most historic cities.

You can follow the latest details as they evolve on the Chester's Pokemon Go Facebook page and we'll keep you updated as we hear more details.

UPDATE:

The team at http://bigheritage.co.uk have released some more information regarding the event held within Chester City;

Specifically related to Pokemon GO, we can confirm the following taking place between 10am-4pm across Chester on 22-23rd July:

Opening of Chester Castle for the first time to the public in 20 years - with Norman soldiers, a fully working medieval field kitchen, arms and archery demos and hands-on activities. The Castle will also home to more than one Pokémon Gym and a number of Pokéstops, meaning trainers will be able to enjoy some digital raids, alongside some historic ones!

  • Pokémon GO PastPort - Visit four historic camps across the city (to be revealed on the day) to find characters from across the city's history. They'll be ready to stamp your limited edition Pokemon GO Pastport which will be given out to trainers on the day. This is the only event in the world where Pokemon GO PastPorts are available!
  • Pokémon GO Map Trail - use the game to help you navigate around the city to find 10 specific Pokéstops and find the answer to questions on a special Pokémon GO explorers map. Complete all 10 and hand your map into a series of hubs across the city to be rewarded with a limited edition official Pokémon GO History Explorer certificate.
  • Free Pokémon Go facepainters, musicians, birds of prey, odd characters will be dotted around the city and free entry for under 16s at the Sick to Death attraction (also a gym!).
  • Free film screenings and craft activities at the Grosvenor Museum throughout the weekend.

We know that a lot of the above appeals to a family audience, and we are aware that people want to know what is happening within the game itself for the festival. We are currently working out this detail with Niantic Inc, but can already confirm the following:

  • Over 120 new Pokéstops and gyms across the city, (we think Chester will have the highest concentration of gyms in any city!)
  • Lure-mania - there are going to be more lures across the city than you'll have ever seen before.
  • Raid Radio - we want maximum participants at raids, which is no easy task given the amount of gyms. We will be helping to share radio info live via the Facebook event page and broadcasting live on Facebook throughout the weekend. Make sure you're following our page  to keep updated.
  • Chance to help us create your own in-game Pokéstop - As part of our partnership with Niantic Inc, we are aiming to hugely increase Pokéstops and gyms at historic sites across the UK. We will be asking players over the festival to nominate historic sites or places in their own local area (not just Chester) and adding these into the game (conditions apply!).

We will be confirming further details (both live and in-game) later this week as things develop. This is just the start!

One of the main activities at the event is the Pokemon Go PastPort, where players can collect stamps as they visit select locations around Chester and learn about the given area, these are; Vikings, Civl War, Romans and Normans.

TMA 166 – Full of Wonder

On this week’s TMA, Tom has finally done it! He’s finally got a full set on Retro Collect… If only it were the N64! It is of course, the Pokemon Mini! He talks us through that, Japanese N64 games and Super Famicom Fighting Games! Mat has perhaps unsurprisingly been playing a new Yakuza game (3) and gives us his feelings on how the ‘Year of Yakuza’ is going, before the boys get completely side tracked by discussions about film…

Listen here.

TMA 165 – Fun ‘n’ Games!

On yet another episode of Tom and Mat Attack, the boys do a little reflecting on the state of games. Mat’s Year of Yakuza brings him from 2 to Kenzan, a Japanese only release set in Edo Period of Japan’s history. The game has some questionable content by Western Standards that the boys pick apart and fan boy over Takeshi Kitano movies. Tom then has dabbled in some more N64 pick ups, that made him reflect over the purity of games that is becoming lost in an age of visceral experiences… Just to keep it light though, Mat’s been raiding in Pokemon Go and making some crazy money in Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire! What fun!

Listen here.

Adventure game Obscure Coming to Steam Soon

Obscure is a platformer, puzzle, adventure game inspired by titles like "The Witness", "Abzu" and "Journey".

We have a couple of screen shots of the game below and a few alpha in-game trailers for the game. Obscure is due to be released on Steam at the end of July, and we'll keep you posted on any more details about the game.

Death Squared Coming to Nintendo Switch on July 13th

Death Squared the co-op puzzle game by SMG Studio is coming to Nintendo Switch on July 13th. The game is already released on PC, PS4 and Xbox One but this month you'll be able to get your Death Squared on in a portable manner!