Category Archives: Game

The greatest cricket match ever: ‘England’ v ‘Girls I Fancy’, 1978

England opened the batting, Geoff Boycott and Michael Wombat garnering 36 runs before Wombat was bowled by Myrna Loy. Boycott followed soon after, stumped as he was tempted from the crease by an outswinger from The Dark One From Charlie’s Angels. Girls I Fancy bowler @little_mavis then hit top gear, supported by Linda Ronstadt, taking five wickets as England were bowled out for 165.

Felicity Kendall and Mandy At Work opened for Girls I Fancy, but Felicity’s lovely bottom availed her naught as she was bowled out for a duck. The Long Haired Barmaid At The Plough steadied the ship, and Girls I Fancy slowly took control. A magnificent 73 from @little_mavis made the result inevitable, Stella Next Door hitting the winning runs.

Forty years ago I was a computer operator working nights. God, that was a tedious job, involving not much more than changing tape decks once every two hours, or feeding in a stack of punched cards (yes, I’m that old). To pass the time, I played a series of games, including weird versions of Owzat!, like this one. I remember once that Various Beetles beat Fruits I Like by a single run.

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Finger Thumber Dumber Little Granny

Finger Thumber Dumber Little GrannyI was chatting the other day (on Twitter, not that that matters) about street games we used to play as children, back in the days when only one person on the street actually had a car (an Austin A30). No one but me had ever heard of one of my favourite games – Finger Thumber Dumber Little Granny.

The gang of kids divided into two teams, via picksies. One player of the defending team was Cush, and stood against the wall. His* teammates bent down, the first with his head in the cush’s stomach, the others in a line behind to form a line of backs. The other team would, one by one, run up behind and leap onto the backs of those bending, trying to make them collapse. If they did succumb, the leaping team ‘won’ and got to inflict the punishment again. If the defenders stood strong, the leader of the leapers would shout “Finger thumber dumber little granny!” and hold up either a forefinger, thumb, fist (dumber) or little finger (little granny). One of those bent over would have to guess which he held up, ostensibly unaided by the Cush, although I’m sure Steve Maltby cheated sometimes. If the guess was wrong, the leapers got to go again. If right, the defenders got their turn at inflicting pain and suffering on their playmates. It was a remarkably sophisticated in a satisfyingly violent way. I always wanted to be on Alan Bower’s team as he weighed about the same as the weekly pop lorry and was an expert at collapsing opponents.

BruegelExtensive research (I Googled) shows that as early as the 1500s, children in Europe and the Near East played “Bucca Bucca quot sunt hic?” which name lives on in the States as ‘Buck Buck’. Pieter Bruegel’s painting “Children’s Games” (1560) depicts children playing a variant of the game (bottom right of the painting).

*for some reason girls never wanted to play this

Yes, oh omnipresent authority figure?

NeeraPortrait“Casting wild magic is like… playing a flute by ear. I just kind of picked it up as I went along, doing what felt natural. In magical terms, I can play a pretty mean tune. But when I miss a note, the flute shoots fire at everyone. Also the flute sometimes turns me into a hamster.”

I’m having a bit of a retro gaming experience by playing Baldur’s Gate Enhanced on my laptop. One of my favourite enhancements? Neera, the wild mage, whose magic tends to go a bit monkeybonkers with, as they say, hilarious consequences. I also like the way she holds a staff.

“EAT FLAMING – or possibly frosty – DEATH!”

Stands-in-shadows

A6T-SjzCQAA2E7q.png largeSorry I’ve not posted in a while; that should be rectified soon.

In the meantime, have this drawing of my Skyrim assassin Stands-in-shadows, drawn by my talented daughter @TheRogueHeart.

Dragonborn

rssfjMary Wombat recently tweeted “I absolutely love the choral music at the start of Skyrim. It makes me tingle. It’s just so bloody butch”. Especially for her, here it is (click the player below). The picture on the right is of my very own Dragonborn, Flax, who you can follow on Twitter.

 

 

SR-Img-SoundtrackYou can buy the soundtrack album, a stonking 4-disc set, by clicking  HERE.

May the dirt taste good when I feed it to you

Cat has drawn my Dragon Age character. They are both awesome.

flax

Sten and Stinky to the rescue

So, Dragon Age is SO full of delights. Here’s one of them:Screenshot20111005020201859My mage, Flax, has been captured and is being held prisoner in the Naked Dungeon of Nakedness in Fort Drakon. Oh no, poor Flax! Note louche fellow prisoner at the back trying to impress her with his coolth.

Screenshot20111005021438515Who will rescue her? Why, Qunari giant Sten and his good buddy Stinky the wonderwolf of course. All they have to do is to bluff their way into the fort:

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“What’s your business in Fort Drakon” – Let Stinky… bluff?

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“Stinky collapses”

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“What’s wrong with him?” – Leave this to Stinky.

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“He whimpers pitifully”

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“All right. All right. Take him into the side room there. I’ll go get the captain to let you through. Just…. hang in there, OK?”

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“This is pointless. We should simply go in fighting”
       –
Stinky whines.

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“And now I’m talking to an animal. I’ve been in this country too long”

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“All right, what’s this about?” – Leave this to Stinky.

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“Happy barking”

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“Is that a pure bred mabari?”

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“Very well, take him through. And tell Neville I want a word with him when you get there”

Good dog, Stinky! If you let Sten try to handle it, of course, things go a little differently…Screenshot20111005180453593

FIGHT!

Wombat’s 10 most memorable computer game characters (& 5 honourable mentions)

You know what makes a memorable character in a computer game? The clues in the word – character. When you get the feeling that you’ve been in the company of real people, you’ve found a real character. One with depth. That, and of course a healthy gobbet of humour or a disregard for clothing. Here are just some of the people I’ve met over two decades of romping about in virtual worlds. Let me know if I’ve missed your favourite.
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Go for the eyes Boo, GO FOR THE EYES!! RaArrGHGHH!!!
minscMinsc is a shining baldy beacon of light in the dark and filthy world of Baldur’s Gate. An enormous beacon, in fact, attacking evil with an extreme fervour that occasionally causes those around him to suspect his sanity. The berserker ranger’s constant companion is Boo, who Minsc says is “a miniature giant space hamster” and those who value their eyes would do well not to argue.
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Would you be interested in these panties? They look about your size.
georgeAcross four point-and-click Broken Sword games, George and his on/off girlfriend, Nico, investigate Templars, Mayan gods, Glastonbury dragons and dodgy doings in the Vatican. Good natured and honest, nosey as hell, George always tries to see the best in people. And gets the shitty end of the stick for it most of the time. I loved telling him where to go, but loved more Nico’s way of breathing “Oh Georgie”.
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If I were indeed hostile, you would be bleeding.
Screenshot20110905171216301Ah, Sten! Apparently not many Dragon Age players bothered with Sten, since at first he’s very reluctant to talk about anything. Persevere though, and the Qunari giant is one of the most most rewarding companions ever. Witness his touching interactions with your dog, his embarrassment at being caught picking flowers by Leliana, his use of biscuits stolen from a nearby child to buy a boat ride. He’s really tough too, even if you dress him in a silly hat. Recognise his quote, above?
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Cake, and grief counselling, will be available at the conclusion of the test.
gladosPossibly the most lovable evil Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System ever. The honey-voiced AI that guides you through Aperture Science’s Testing Centre in Portal is always witty, and always promising of lovely cake. Ah nice, you think, as she cheers you on. Then she makes you incinerate your beloved Companion Cube, and you begin to suspect that all might not be right, and you begin to rebel. Her insults become funnier and, let’s admit it, more psychotic until you face off with her in a breathless final battle that still makes you giggle.
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I’m just a humble P.I. trying to save the world as we know it.
texTex Murphy, seedy post-apocalyptic future P.I. starring in five adventures (and six radio plays) with a catchy theme tune, and a wardrobe full of fedoras, raincoats and sneakers. Voiceover heaven as Tex wisecracks about whatever you’re telling him to do before his innate clumsiness has him falling over a credenza, whatever one of those is. At such times, Tex was not above destroying the fourth wall – “Ah, to be a fictional detective. Everything would be so much simpler then”.
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Boogle, can you be an axe?
torins11Cartoony fun with Torin & Boogle in Torin’s Passage, as the titular hero tries to rescue his family from an evil sorceress. Packed with humour and invention (at one point Torin bangs his head on the Game Menu), the game’s puzzles are often only soluble by using Boogle’s shape-shifting abilities. Highlights for me were the talking grass, that helped Torin cross a slippery slope (“Negatory! Nuh-oh! Yes, there!”) , and a sequence where our heroes fall from such a height that they have to pause in their screaming to take a breath. Just one question – what actually is Boogle?
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You know, if I could click you, you wouldn’t know a moment’s peace.
morteMorte is a floating, talking skull with a snarky attitude. While he lacks a body, he can still fight, biting with his sharp fangs and stinging the enemy with sarcastic taunts. The fact that he has no internal organs help to protect him from many ‘normal’ attacks, but also raises the question- where does he keep his inventory? The game? Planescape Torment, one of the better games based on D&D. It also featured a sexy woman with a tail. What could possibly be finer?

Nordom: Attention; Morte. I have a question. Do you have a destiny? A purpose?
Morte: Is Annah still wearing clothes?
Nordom: Affirmatory.
Morte: Then the answer is yes.

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All she wants to talk about is white sausage.
486222-gabeages_superGabriel Knight – New Orleans author and bookstore owner who finds his destiny as a Schattenjäger, or “Shadow Hunter”. Most notably voiced by Tim Curry, Gabriel’s louche drawl won many a heart among players, but rarely the heart of Grace Nakamura, his hot, sometime assistant. Gabriel is a rogue, a rapscallion and a womanizer, not unlike The Wombat, but is selfish and self-involved. Grace often manages to puncture his self-importance with amusing barbs. The team work was what made them attractive. Well, that and Tim Curry’s liquid voice.
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And now we have a dog. And Alistair is still the stupidest member of the party.
275px-Morrigan_profileI know, I know, two characters from Dragon Age, but how could I leave out Morrigan? The shape-shifting swamp-witch who forgot to wear a vest and is deliciously voiced by Claudia Black, while not exactly evil, is hardly anyone’s idea of a good girl. She manipulates you to kill her mother for her, and seduces you (if you’re a bloke, that is) into impregnating her for her own nefarious (and unexplained) purposes. I’m afraid in order to get on with the game, I had to dress her in a long blue dress, cos otherwise…. well, you know.
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Tombs with piped in music. How classy.
garrettGarrett. Master of stealth, archery and pickpocketing, and yet so much more than just a nefarious Thief, offering cynical asides and wry observations as he cases potential jobs. Also (and how cool is this?) he has a glass eye that he can take out and roll around corners to see what’s lurking. I adored the tension of sneaking around dark places with Garrett, trying not to be noticed at all. One of the scariest locations EVER in a game is The Cradle, an abandoned orphanage/insane asylum. Sweet Baby G, but that shook me more than somewhat. A new Thief game is under development, so YAY! (ssshhhh!)
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Honourable mentions
… or “Characters that were in my top ten until I thought of someone better”
vaultboyNothing says pizzaz like a winning smile. Vault-Boy’s a bit of a cheat for this list, since he’s not really a game character. He is the Fallout series mascot, who appears everywhere, from your stats screen, to your Pip-Boy and your Bobblehead collection. Nothing says Fallout like Vault-Boy.
hk47Conclusion: I’m going to pull your head off, because I don’t like your head. Star Wars game Knights Of The Old Republic is arguably the best Star Wars prequel to date. Among its many charms is the characterisation, exemplified by the brilliantly twisted HK-47, an assassin droid who speaks like C3PO but dryly expresses sociopathic sentiments, including a distain for organic life perfectly summed up by his repeated use of the word “meatbag”.
dalbozYour sword is blowing glue. Wait, let me try that again. I’ll bet not many of you remember Zork: Grand Inquisitor? Dalboz the Dungeon Master himself was imprisoned in a lantern and proceeds to act as narrator and guide. He calls you “AFGNCAAP”, a satirical, politically-correct acronym for “Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Person”, a reference to the habit of many early adventure games of giving the player’s character no identity, name, or background.
dreamfall 2007-07-01 14-15-11-49My beak is a finely tuned instrument of love. The Longest Journey and Dreamfall are beautiful games, and we all fell in love with Zoe Castillo, but the character that sticks in my mind is the sidekick Crow, who is a… well, crow (although – spoiler – he does turn out not to be an actual crow). I think you’ll have figured out by now that I like sidekicks who crack wise, and Crow is yet another of those. An example of Crow’s wisdom –

So we get help from someone wiser and more clued in than us. Beards are a good indication. It signifies age and wisdom, and also, sometimes, poor hygiene. I think those things are actually connected.

HBpC78co_Pxgen_r_1100xAThe figures…nothing but shadows…they won’t let me go back. An extremely personal choice – Nigel Danvers, the ghost-hunting wazzock from Jonathan Boakes’ superbly spooky games, most notably “The Lost Crown”. I became a huge fan of Danverspeak – Nigel spoke haltingly, like a character from a Thirties film when talkies had only just begun. Perfect for the feel of the game.

So there you go, earthlings – who have I left out (yes, yes, apart from Guybrush Threepwood, but he was too obvious)? Who would be in your top ten? I’d love you to tell me. I hope you do.

Dancing in the Dark

Dscf1109 Occasionally we have a power cut. When that happens, we go through three phases –

  1. Sodding hell, I’ll miss Chuck AND Twitter! Bastards!
  2. Oh well, nothing for it. Where are the candles?
  3. Ooh, this is lovely! Conversation and wine with no distractions.

Not to mention the games of Strip Twister.

Give me the naughty nightwear!

flaxI realise I am WAY behind the times, but I’ve just discovered Fallout 3.

Oh. My. God. Talk about your engrossing adventurey-cum-RPG games: this is a cracker!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Flax, blue-haired and small, expert in unarmed combat and persuading people to do what she wants. What does it say about me that in games like this I generally create empowered women, rather than baldy blokes in their Fifties? flaxcuI’ll let you decide – at least I don’t give them big guns (the one above is classified as a ‘small gun’, so there!

These “photos” are comparatively old – these days she wears leather, which will give you even more reason to doubt my intellectual capabilities.

Whatever the reasons, this game is my new drug. It is beautiful, intelligent, witty, violent (at times), sneaky (when you want it to be): I can’t get enough of it.

The blog title? That comes from an episode in the game where Flax managed to pick the lock of a safe to find that all it contained was something called – you guessed – Naughty Nightwear. As she left the room, she was confronted by this character:nn

Luckily, Flax’s persuasive skills were high enough to convince Lug-Nut that the Naughty Nightwear looked better on her than it would on him. So he left empty-handed, to be incinerated by a fire-ant shortly after.

Finally, here is Flax in said Naughty Nightwear after a rough night…flaxnn

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