I did have another blog post planned for today, but I decided that I'd actually quite like to write about the fact that today I posted my 300th Finger Puppet Show strip. I remember, when I made the first strip, it was just a gift for a friend and I never intended to make a webcomic. I later decided that I wanted to make another one, and thought about doing it regularly... After doing about three or four, I didn't think I would be able to think up enough ideas to one a week, but now I do two a week and have been doing so for ages, so that all went very nicely. As you'll see if you read that strip, there is a strong emotional attachment to the webcomic for me as it acts as a kind of unbroken chain to the time when I started making it in 2012; I made it during what I would currently describe as the best time of my life and though every aspect of my life has changed since then, my webcomic remains the same. It's comforting, in a way. I remember I made the first strip in bed on a summer's afternoon after a lie in; it was a few weeks away from returning to university and seeing my friends again. I made the 300th strip on a cold winter's evening, getting it done as quickly as possible so that I wouldn't get to bed too late on a night when I had work the next day; the time I'd next see most of my friends was (and is) uncertain. How times have changed! I like to think that in 2020, when I've managed to pass at least my 600th strip, things will be completely different again.
This is the game that introduced us one of Nintendo's most well-known and beloved characters: Kirby. Although Kirby is a little different in his first appearance because he lacks the ability to steal the abilities of creatures he consumes. He can still eat the enemies, he just can't take any powers from them.
Anyway, Kirby's Dream Land is a pleasant little 2D platforming game. I say "little" because it really is a very short game: You'll probably be able to do the whole thing in less than an hour. But the thing is, while it is very short, it's still very pleasant.
The story goes that King Dedede has stolen all of Dream Land's supply of food, causing the people to go hungry, so Kirby sets out across the land to get it back. I actually feel like the fact that the game is so short, it feels like you really are going on the journey along with Kirby.
I generally find the whole experience very relaxing. The game is never all that hard, but it also manages to avoid being boring - meanwhile, it has a really nice 8-bit soundtrack and a really nice, hard to define, 'tone' to it all. I enjoy every second of it and find the whole game a delight.
The fact that it's so short is the only thing that Kirby's Dream Land has against it, but on the other hand, the length almost seems to perfectly match the laid back, peaceful, relaxing feel to the whole game. It's a fun, pleasant game and an important piece of Nintendo history... Just don't expect much of a comprehensive game out of it.
In today's blog post I'd like to talk a little about a way you can promote your writing, if you post at all online. I post regularly on two forums (DK Vine and The Waltons Forum) and have become fairly well known on each of them. As each of these forums cover subjects that I am very interested in, that means the subjects they cover are the kinds of things I may write about on my blog. Whenever I write something which may be of interest to the people on either of those forums, I go ahead and share it. I used to feel bad about 'spamming' people with my work, but the truth is that they may be legitimately interested, I do need to promote my work and I wouldn't hesitate if somebody else had written it. So I think that a good way to build traffic to your site is by getting yourself well known on a forum and sharing your work amongst people you know will like it. I am actually a member of some other forums too, but I don't post as prolifically on them, so I'd feel like I was abusing my freedom of posting if most of my very few posts were links to my own work. But, anyway, I think it's a good idea to make yourself known on as many areas around the internet as possible and to link back to your work whenever you can - it's a small and easy way to increase your readers. I hope that will be useful for you.
(Don't miss the latest Avoid Drowning podcast - featuring me!)
At some point near Christmas day, the fan in my laptop stopped working. Without a fan, my laptop got very hot in only a short space of time (I couldn't use it for more than an hour at a time) meaning I couldn't do very much with it. The laptop also had a broken disc drive and so it seemed like a good idea to replace it at this point; so I did. I'm writing this latest blog post on my new laptop and wondering what other exciting pieces of writing I'll do on this in the future.
I have to say though, that even though I'm very excited to have a new, clean, fast laptop that works better and does more than the old one, I am still sad about replacing it. I got my previous laptop back in 2010 and have a lot of memories with it; I can remember using it in my Sixth Form study room, watching DVDs with a friend, making notes from interesting lectures at Bath Spa University, sleeping over with friends and updating my blog before bed, writing out whole essays in the Bath Spa University library, having lovely video calls with friends who were far away, browsing the internet so that I have something at least slightly bearable to do while doing a work placement at the Job Centre, and so much more.
People say that it's wrong to put value on material possessions, and maybe I'm doing that; but then again, I value this material possession for immaterial things. When I open it up today, the memories of all its past uses come flooding back and though, when I use it less, I will still have those memories, it will feel different knowing that I lack a physical connection. For me, having a solid item which connects me to a past event is very important. So I will miss my old laptop (well, I do still have it) but I am also pleased about the features of my new laptop.
(Don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
Alan Moore is one of the most famous comic authors around, he's better known for his original works, but this Batman graphic novel is actually one of the best things I've read by him! Don't worry if you don't know much about Batman either, this is only the second Batman graphic novel that I've read (the first being Year One) but it still made enough sense to me.
The story starts with Batman heading down to an insane asylum so that he can visit his enemy The Joker; he wants to talk things over with him because he is sure that they will one day end up killing each other and that is not something he wants to happen. Sadly, The Joker escapes and soon starts coming up with some diabolical scheme.
But this story isn't so much about The Joker's latest evil plan, it's also about his origin story. Through flashbacks we see The Joker as a young man who's trying to make it as a comedian and I think it's really sad to see how things turn out. As much as he's a terrible, terrible person, The Joker still feels very vulnerable and human and I think that makes for a very engaging read.
Speaking of The Joker being a terrible person, there's quite a bit of shocking, extreme violence in this graphic novel. This might make some people uncomfortable (in fact it made me uncomfortable!) but I think it's appropriate because it does a lot to convey the thoughts and perspectives of characters.
As a graphic novel is partially a visual experience, I should say a little something about the excellent illustrations by Brian Bolland. I actually have "The Deluxe Edition" which features different colouring from the original because he wanted to take the time to improve it. I've not seen the original, so I can't compare, but the artwork in this edition is certainly very nice. I find it hard to write much about things that I find visually appealing, but I certainly have no complaints! My edition also came with a very short, standalone story about a man who wanted to kill Batman (written by Brian Bolland) and I liked that very much as well. Very dark and mildly comical.
Over all, I really enjoyed reading this and couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. I kept reading until I got to the end and was very excited the whole way through. An excellent read.
At the end of 2014, I didn't have a substantial income; I did work for SmartDatingUK and I enjoyed that writing, but I earned a really small amount of money and was dependent on Job Seekers' Allowance (which was cut down a little bit each time I got money from SmartDatingUK). The money it cost to stay living at home was more than the money I had coming in and my savings had been dwindling more and more as time went by; at that point they were pretty much all gone. On top of that I had to waste money going to the Job Centre every single week, where they did nothing to help me find work and treated me with no respect. I'd been struggling to find work ever since university ended in June; I had a short term job at a school, been tricked into handing out Conservative propaganda and then worked unpaid in The Job Centre. Having no money meant I could never see any friends and most of the people I was close with had moved away anyway. So by the last day of 2014, I'd spend a good six months not getting to see any friends and losing all of my money. Getting a job seemed like it would help, but even the lowest level jobs wouldn't get back to me. It was probably the lowest point of my life so far.
By the last day of 2015, however, things had moved forward quite nicely. I'm not sure I'd class 2015 as a 'good' year, but more of a 'recovery year' where my life was put back on track after the terrible derailment in the second half of 2014. Obviously, the first few months were just as bad as the end of 2014, but things made a temporary change for the better in February when I got a new job. Part of the new job was telemarketing (which I do not like) but an equal part of it was social media marketing and blogging, which I love and it gave me a chance to get some professional experience in the area I wanted; all the while I 'clicked' very nicely with the person who sat at the desk next to me and it felt good to be making a new friend. Sadly, this progress was brought to an end when I unexpectedly lost that job a little over a month later! So then I had no money again and I couldn't see my co-worker either (we still email). I had to spend another two months suffering away in the Job Centre before I found myself with another job. The next job, however, was superb: a full time writing position. That was only a six month contract and it ended in December, but I've kind of replaced it with another writing job and I feel like I'm doing okay, career-wise! I have loved all of my work sine then.
I suppose the problem is that I still don't get to see people often enough to be socially fulfilled and I need to work towards making new friends. There are a very small number of people who live close enough to meet up regularly and even then they are often busy when I'm not. This year I have solidified a friendship with somebody I only knew in passing last year and I am very pleased with that; the problem is that my attempts to make more friends and increase my social calendar have not gone all that well. A couple of people have unexpectedly invited me out to dinner, which was very nice and I hoped they'd become good friends who I could meet with regularly; sadly, I've not really heard anything from them since. I can't really understand why. I hope that 2016 will be the 'social recovery' after 2015 was the 'career recovery'; either way I am hopeful for 2016!
After Sonic the Hedgehog was a huge success, work began on two sequels at once; one of these was Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the other was Sonic the Hedgehog CD. While it isn't regarded quite as highly, I personally think that Sonic the Hedgehog CD was a greater sequel than Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The unique selling point of this game, and the reason that it has "CD" in the title is that it was originally released on a CD-ROM (rather than a cartridge) which made it possible to include a higher quality soundtrack. I was quite pleased with the music used in the game; it was often very good and helped to make the game generally more enjoyable. It's worth keeping in mind that there are two different soundtracks for the game: one for the American version and one for everywhere else.
The storyline is slightly more complicated this time and it also introduces a couple of things which would go on to be quite important to the series as a whole. One of the main villains of the game is Metal Sonic, a robotic version of Sonic created by Dr. Eggman who has since appeared many times and we are also introduced to Amy Rose (she gets kidnapped by Metal Sonic) and Amy later appears in basically every Sonic game. The whole game takes place on "Little Planet" where Eggman is building robots and highly technological cities for himself; you need to stop this, and you are occasionally able to travel into the future where you can see how things will change... There are good futures and bad futures based on your actions. There's also quite a cool animated opening cut scene.
Gameplay is the same as it had been in previous entries; you go through a series of side scrolling stages, fighting Eggman's robots on the way and fighting bosses every now and then. I felt like the level of difficulty was just right this time, with the bits that were hard being hard for fair reasons and everything feeling very reasonable. I actually also have to say that some of the levels are just plain cool (especially one of the boss fights) which is good, since I know that's what the Sonic series is ultimately aiming for.
On the whole, this is definitely one of the best 2D Sonic games. The gameplay and level design are spot on and while the story might be a little confusing, it's not really that important to the overall enjoyment of the game. The only real downside of Sonic the Hedgehog CD is that it feels pretty short.
Have you 'liked' my Facebook page yet? If not, you should go ahead and like it right away to make sure that you never miss any of my work and to ensure you get just a little bit more content from me. If you do already follow the posts on my Facebook page, then you may well have seen my post the other day which had an exciting piece of news: I now own a domain to use for this blog! This is something I've been planning on doing for some time. My friend Liam got it for me as a Christmas present (which I got early, on Saturday) and before giving it to me he was actually worried that I wouldn't like his "unorthodox" gift! But it was an excellent gift which I am extremely happy with. It makes it much easier for me to link to in a variety of places and it also helps to just generally make this blog look a little more professional; maybe it will even help to increase traffic a bit. Even if it does nothing, I'll be pleased just having a nicer looking URL: you may wonder why the current URL contains the phrase "every author who ever lived" and I think now is the perfect time to explain the origin of that. Back in 2011, when I was putting this blog together based on a suggestion from my friend Dalfino, I wasn't sure what to put for the URL and he said "just put the name of your favourite author" and so the URL I used is a reflection of my love of all books... I'll miss it, in a small way, but my excitement for my new domain outweighs this enormously.
At the start of this week, I made plans for the blog posts throughout the week. I remember being quite excited about Friday's post, because I had quite a good one in mind; the best idea I'd had in a little while, I thought! The problem is that now Friday is here and I don't have the slightest recollection of what I planned to write! So I thought I'd use this blog post to remind creative people just how important it is to make a note of your ideas as soon as you get them. I hope I will remember my idea for today's blog post eventually, but maybe I won't! In the past I used to note down ideas in my phone, but since my phone has lost that capability I've fallen out of the practice. All creatives should have a notebook (and pen!) with them at all times and whenever an idea comes, no matter how small, it needs to be written down! Don't let yourself lose any of your ideas.
(Don't miss today's Finger Puppet Show!)
Bonanza Bros. is an old Sega game where you play as two brothers who break into high security buildings and steal highly valuable items as a test for the security systems (or, at least, that's what they say). It's a fairly simple premise, but is actually quite fun.
Every level is a different building and all of them are 2D (though you are able to step into the background to hide from guards). You have to steal every valuable item and then get to the roof so that you can escape in the most inconspicuous of getaway vehicles: the zeppelin. However, along the way, you'll encounter various guards who will attack you in different ways; it's best to try and sneak past all of them, because you only have a weak gun (which will stun them temporarily) to defend yourself with.
For me, the biggest appeal of Bonanza Bros. is its sense of humour; most of the sound effects are quite comical and I like how the game often seems extremely violent, even though nobody ever really gets hurt. I also find the designs of most of the characters pretty amusing too. It's fun, it's silly and I like it. Plus, as a nice bonus, it can all be played in co-op mode, adding to the fun.
Though, as much as I may like Bonanza Bros. I have to admit that it does have its failings. The characters move very slowly, which can be occasionally frustrating and I really wish it was easier to avoid shots fired by guards. I also thought that the music used throughout the game was pretty bad. Perhaps most annoying of all is the fact that the game is always ready to be played in multiplayer mode (player two need only press a button) but because of this it is literally always in splitscreen... I know this ties back to its origin in arcades, but could it not be changed for console releases?
Overall though, while the game does have some flaws (mostly, perhaps, due to its age) it has enough charm to make it very enjoyable. Rating: 7/10
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