Run on Sun is Friends of the Earth’s campaign to make it easy for schools to run on solar power – and save bags of cash to spend on pupils.
Today, many gamers around the world were greatly saddened to hear that Neversoft, a games studio that is only two months away from celebrating its 20th anniversary, is no more. The developer is being merged with Call of Duty veterans Infinity Ward by their owners at Activision. The decision was made in light of their recent work with Infinity Ward as co-developer on last year’s Call of Duty: Ghosts. Out of most of those that mourn the loss of the studio, however, very few will miss them as much as I.
Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing, sent a memo to Giant Bomb, breaking the news (and subsequently, my heart). He said that after Neversoft worked with Infinity Ward on Ghosts that “it became clear that the two studios have very complementary skill sets. Between these two excellent studios, it seemed like a single ‘super-studio’ could emerge.” The name Neversoft will now be put to rest, and its 150 employees will be adopted under the Infinity Ward brand. The current executive VP of worldwide studios, Dave Stohl, will now be leading the new super-studio in creating larger and more ambitious projects. However, studio head and co-founder of Neversoft, Joel Jewett, and his colleague Scott Pease, studio director, will be retiring. After 20 years of service in the industry, the pair will be parting ways with the company once the transition is complete and the rest of the staff have been fully integrated later this year.
In recent years, the Los Angeles studio has been hard at work on various entries in the long-running Guitar Hero franchise. The plastic-instrument controlled rhythm game has long been a favourite at parties and it was a game that was genuinely fun for everyone of any age. The idea was developed further by Neversoft into Band Hero, which expanded the repertoire of instruments and gave the setlist a broader-appeal pop music focus. Guitar Hero ended up being one of the biggest hits of the seventh generation, and you would now be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t played it. Unfortunately, Activision mishandled the series, saturating their own market, and so the plug was pulled from Guitar Hero in early 2011.
Despite the massive success of Guitar Hero, however, the studio will be best remembered for their work on the iconic Tony Hawk series, which found its way onto just about every system available over the years. From the humble beginnings of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on the PlayStation One in 1999, the franchise went on to be one of the biggest in the industry and one of the most important in Activision’s wheelhouse. They made nine of the skating games in total, with the last being 2007’s Proving Ground. Over that time they evolved the design from a simple arcade skater, to a complex mission-based open world game.
I personally have a strong tie to the series, as Tony Hawk’s Underground on the GameCube was one of my most played games as a child. The sense of freedom and daring that came with zooming across the interesting levels, pulling crazy trick combos and finding secrets, is something that other games struggle to match. The character customisation was thoroughly impressive, and I spent hours designing the bottom of my board, despite the fact I’d rarely see it. THUG was simply THAT game to me as I grew up. That game that I became madly addicted to and that shaped my sense of what I did and didn’t like as a gamer. It helped form my identity as a videogame fanatic. I loved exploring a 3D environment, and I loved that some of the scenery was interactive. I loved that respawning was quick, and the comically exaggerated sound design. What didn’t I like, then? Games that weren’t Tony Hawk that’s what.
Ok, so yes, this news does strike a chord more than it usually would because I was very attached to their games. But that biased strong reaction to their demise is no bad thing on my part. As gamers we invest a lot of time, money and energy into experiencing what studios such as Neversoft have to offer. We commit to their products and learn them inside out. Tony Hawk became more a part of my identity than most other games because it also influenced my clothing style and music tastes at the time, and both of these are still noticeable in my personality to this day. It’s rare that a company can be this intrinsically linked to an individual’s identity, but therein lies the beauty of videogames. It’s a personal, unique experience that is shared amongst millions. It’s artists and programmers alike coming together to make something greater than the sum of it’s parts. A games studio’s worth can only truly be measured in the joy they generate, and in that respect, Neversoft were one of the richest companies in the world, purely off of the back of a ten year old me. They will be missed, they will be mourned, and their games will always be on my shelf. Here’s hoping that they can now bring Infinity Ward to even higher heights in the future.
Godzilla. King of the Monsters. A name synonymous with grand scale and fear. This coming month, he’s back in the new, rebooted Godzilla, with Gareth Edwards (Monsters) directing. The film, of course, looks to be even grander in scale than we’ve ever seen before. It has a bigger budget, a bigger cast, and the biggest depiction of the monster himself ever to grace the silver screen. But there is also fear. Not the fear of Godzilla wrecking the local suburb, but of this much-anticipated film being a wreck itself. I, however, am optimistic that this Godzilla may well be the best one ever, and could prove itself king of the genre once more. To explain to you why I believe this, it’s important that you understand the history of the icon.
The new interpretation of Godzilla is specifically being released this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the Japanese giant, with the storied series making its beginnings in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 epic Gojira. Inspired by the work of Ray Harryhausen, who brought the eponymous beast to life in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Honda chose to make an iconic monster (or ‘kaiju’ in Japanese) of his own when pressured by his employer to get to work on a new picture. He did not want a mindless creature feature, however. He desired much more, and set out to make something with heart and a mind that would impact his viewers on a very deep level.
Having been shocked during the war by the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Honda opted to make use of the national fear of nuclear weaponry to give the film its weight. The issue had recently resurfaced as a fresh topic of debate after Japanese fishermen aboard Lucky Dragon No.5 were contaminated following the nuclear fallout from the Castle Bravo thermonuclear test at Bikini Atoll (which was mirrored in the movie). One of the crew members died from acute radiation syndrome less than seven months later. With the wounds of WWII still deep in the minds of the Japanese and these new ones being etched in, Gojira came at the perfect time to strike a major chord.
The design of the creature was a mix of various dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus Rex, Iguanodon and Stegosaurus. But it still felt like it had something missing. The decision was then made to give Gojira charred black skin that resembled that of those who had suffered at the hands of the bomb. Everything about this production by Toho Studios was crafted to symbolise every aspect of nuclear fear, and it held nothing back. The attack on Tokyo at the film’s climax in particular, was made to give the impression of a rolling nuclear attack, but at a much slower pace to show the true devastation of the weaponry that Gojira represented.
The feature was met with widespread critical acclaim, and was held in high esteem by the public. It was decided to bring Gojira stateside, which was when it was first given the name of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. However, due to political tensions surrounding the nuclear debate, nearly all the direct references to nuclear war were taken out of the American version, and were replaced with out-of-place scenes involving a US journalist. This took away most of what made the film memorable, and would be the first strike against the franchise that America would make.
Over the next forty years, Toho churned out as many sequels as they possibly could to keep the box-office success alive. Although this allowed Godzilla to become a household name and secure his position within popular culture, it came at the expense of the original intention. Godzilla was no longer the bringer of terror and political messages, but instead now purely existed to fight other monsters in campy battles on cheap sets. It was all good fun and audiences still loved the films and their namesake, but it was certainly a shame to see them lose their unique edge.
Godzilla then lived through toys and other merchandise all the way up until 1998, when the Americans released their first attempt to make their own Godzilla flick from the ground up. In short, it was abysmal. Panned across the board by critics and moviegoers alike, the film was more of a disaster than if ‘zilla had destroyed the movie theatres himself. No atomic breath, no imposing presence, and put down easily by the military. This new cat-like dino was not the real deal. The acting, camerawork and story were all equally to blame for the catastrophe as well, killing audience’s respect and good memories of the Japan’s premiere city-leveller. This was America’s second strike against Godzilla, and it was the biggest setback in the history of the series.
In the few years that followed, Toho tried to pick up the reputation of their star by unleashing a whole new era of Godzilla features. They were mostly praised by fans, but still lacked enough of a punch to make up for the ‘98 stink-fest. They were all incredibly ambitious and were filled with bounds of kinetic action, yet they also showed that the concept was starting to age and ideas were running low. Final Wars, the last of the ‘Millennium Era’ films, was released in 2004, and would be the last that audiences would see of the famous kaiju.
Or, rather, it would have been. Legendary Pictures approached Toho several years later with a vision. A vision to bring Godzilla back to his roots. To respect the original Japanese intention for the character, but with the budget and effects only made possible by a big name American studio. The process started in 2009, and by the time negotiations and planning were finally completed, a date of May 2014 was set as the return of the legend.
So, here we are, ready to go see the king take his throne once more. What’s the problem, then? We’ve waited ten long years to get to see the big G on the big screen again! Well, some of us have. Many are apprehensive, and for good reason. As you would have noticed from this brief history, the American’s could well end up making their third strike, and over the years ideas for interesting new stories have been running dry.
There is no reason to fear in my eyes, though. Gareth Edwards has shown us that he wants this to have the impact of the original. With atomic bombs no longer relevant, he has turned to tsunamis, earthquakes and nuclear meltdowns for inspiration, and from clips that we’ve seen so far, it’s working well. He’s bringing the fear to 21st century issues, making Godzilla contemporary and terrifying again. The monsters and the destruction they cause are being made with the finest cutting-edge technology, the writing has been fine-tuned over a 4 year process, and the actors are all exemplary Hollywood talent. Godzilla once meant something, and if you watch the trailers for the new 2014 rendition, you’ll see that he means something once more. He’s not just going to be King of the Monsters again. He’ll be King of the Box-Office.
Over exploitation of water and changes in the climate have a direct affect on the environment and the animals that live there.
Think of the affects that the flooding has had in the South of England – and that’s only a tiny part of the world.
it’s about the environment :D
Seriously guys, follow this. We need more of these intelligent and well-written blogs up in this place. I think 90% of you following me are (like me) stuck in the land of Pokemon, Scott Pilgrim and Lego Movie gifs, so we should try some learning! =D
Anonymous said: what do u look like?
One day when I’m not feeling horribly ill like I am right now, I might take a photo of myself for y’all… but not today, mysterious and curious person.