The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Pokémon Yellow


In this week’s show, we’re talking about a franchise that consists of small monsters that can’t die. No, it’s not Rayman Raving Rabbids, although I can’t be the only one hoping those permanently shell shocked abominations get rabies and disappear off the face of the earth. I’m of course, referring to Pokémon.

Pokémon started out, like everything in video games, in Japan at the hands of Nintendo and Satoshi Tajiri, a man who for the record, DID NOT DIE last year, contrary to what some people have said. He wanted modern children of the go go 90’s to suffer the same boring insect collection hobby he had when he was younger and formed Game Freak to develop a idea that he’d been developing involving the game boy link cable. Over the next 5 years, complete with financial disasters, staff walkouts and trademark issues, they made and released Pokémon Red and Green.

But there was no Red and Green, I hear you cry. Well, there was, you just never saw it, so shut up. Red and Green were a word of mouth success in Japan and led to Pokémon Blue being made, which was the same game as Green, except with better sprites and music, effectively making Green look like that middle child in the family that no-one ever wants…and who can blame them, look at the sprites used.


He looks like he’s getting crushed by his own plant, there’s a flaw in evolution there.


Looks like someone opened the buffet.


He’s hiding behind a Doduo…I wonder what he’s doing there…
So Blue went on to be even more successful and Game Freak opened the series up to the more famous anime and trading card series that still carry on to this day. And when they brought that stuff over to America and Europe…oh boy did everyone know it.


Soon, it was everywhere, cards, cartoons, lunchboxes, hats, toys, furry porn and a movie. Nintendo decided to add on to the money making machine even more by releasing Pokémon Yellow, a culmination of the series at it’s peak…it was Pokémon red and blue. Except you now had a Pikachu at the start of the game and fought Jessie and James for no reason other than to give the game a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.

Of course, the problem with actually reviewing Pokémon Yellow and satirizing it is the fact that everyone and their mum has made a joke about Pokémon’s first generation. So throughout the course of this review, I’ll just steal everyone else’s.

First we’re introduced to Professor Oak, a moody looking professor who can’t be bothered to look up from his book when talking to you (However, he came when he heard you beat the elite 4). Followed by our main character, who isn’t Ash, but because this game is so anime inspired, he may as well be. Then we get his rival, Blue, or Gary, or Gary Motherfucking Oak, if you like. (You can’t ignore his girth apparently) or as I’d call him if there wasn’t a character limit, fartknuckles, leading to Professor Oak being a dick to his grandson.

The thing is with Pokémon is that while it has the façade of nice friendly kiddy game, underneath is an RPG made from molten hatred of pure evil that takes genuine skill to succeed in. Think you can fight Brock with your Pikachu? You can’t. You’ll die. Again. And Again. And Again. Leading many people who already owned the last couple of games to yell “WHY AM I STILL TRYING THIS STRATEGY?  I should have just traded over my mewtwo…”

As stated, the main difference is that you get Pikachu from the start and you fight Jessie and James, the inept duo from the show, but you also get all 3 starters from the other 2 games through some very silly circumstances, some stronger Pokémon are found earlier in the game, the sprites are bit nicer, Game Boy Colour support and Red has slightly pointier hair in the intro video. That’s it. Oh and Pikachu follows you making sound effects that grate the soundcard.


To the games credit though, it’s still a very fun and addictive game, it’s just too similar to its source material to stand up on its own. Some people see it as a directors cut that combines the best of the two games, but it takes out the strategy element of choosing a starter and thinking ahead of what they’ll become and it makes your team wholly predictable, Blastoise, Charizard and Venusaur are overpowered and the best of their types, so they’re in. Pikachu’s your starter, so you’ll use him. Add a flying type and a psychic and BOOM. Game over, you win, Oak came. You’d be better off playing Pokémon Red or Blue for the full experience. But then, the same can be said of Crystal to Gold And Silver…and Emerald to Ruby and Sapphire…and Platinum to…oh this is just stupid.

Of course, whilst it’s not as popular as it was in its heyday, the Pokémon bandwagon churns on. Next year see’s the release of Pokémon Black and White, which will no doubt be followed up by the Ultimate Directors Cut known as Pokémon Beige.

The Time (Dirty Bit) – The Black Eyed Peas

I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve never felt this way before
And I swear this is true
And I owe it all to you

Ok, so we start off with the bit from that famous song from Dirty Dancing. It’s pretty standard and nothing special apart from there’s some dancy synthy stuff in the background.

I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve never felt this way before
And I swear this is true
And I owe it all to you
You-you-you-you-you
You-you-you-you-you
You-you-you-you-you-you-y-y-y-y-you

Oh god, 3 lines of one word? This is the exact moment where someone realises that a classic 80’s song is about to be butchered and their face slowly changes from a grin to a look of horror. Like this;


Yep, I got Veitnam flashbacks listening to this song as well…

Dirty bit
Dirty bit

Is that necessary?


I-I came up in here to rock
Light a fire, make it hot

That’s how fire works.

I don’t wanna take no pictures
I just wanna take some shots
So come on, let’s go
Let’s lose control
Let’s do it all night
‘Til we can’t do it no mo’
People rockin’ to the sound
Turn it up and watch it pound
We gon’ rock it to the top
Until the roof come burnin’ down
Yeah, it’s hot in herrre

Songs ripped off: 2

The temperaturrre
Has got these ladies
Gettin’ freakierrr

I’m not sure where to begin with this whole section…It’s all about clubbing, like pretty much every Black Eyed Peas song of the past 2 years, and has out vocalist saying there’s a correlation between the temperature and the girls getting aroused…or something, I’m not sure what the definition of “freaky” is in this sense.


I got freaky, freaky, baby
I was chillin’ with my ladies
I didn’t come to get bougie
I came here to get crazy
I was born to get wiiild
That’s my styyyle
If you didn’t know that
Well, baby, now you know now

After 5 singles of basically the same bullcrap, I think EVERYONE knows now.

‘Cause I’m!
Havin’!
A good! Time!
With you!

AND I’M!
NOT!


I’m tellin’ you
I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve never felt this way before
And I swear this is true
And I owe it all to you
I’ve had the time of my life
And I’ve never felt this way before
And I swear this is true
And I owe it all to you
You-you-you-you-you
You-you-you-you-you

You-you-you-you-you-you-y-y-y-y-you

*Applies hammer to face in time with that bass*


Dirty bit
Dirty bit

Still no. The synthy dancey…thing isn’t that heavy or dirty, it’s just…sounds like a drill.

All-all these girls, they like my swagger
They callin’ me Mick Jagger

Swagger and Mick Jagger…I’ve heard this in a song before…

Songs ripped off: 3

I be rollin’ like a Stone
Jet-setter, jet-lagger
We ain’t messin’ with no maggots
Messin’ with the baddest
Chicks in the club
Honey, what’s up?

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who’s the baddest of them all?
Yeah, it’s gotta be the apl
I’m the mack daddy, y’all
Haters better step back
Ladies (don’t load your act)
I’m the party application
Rockin’ just like that

This is just uninspired writing, it’s like one of those guys that claims to be amazing at getting girls but fails everytime. I’m just bored listening to it.

‘Cause I’m!
Havin’!
A good! Time!
With you!
I’m tellin’ you
I-I-I-I’ve had
The time of my li-i-ife
And I’ve never felt this way before-fore
And I swear-wear
This is tru-u-ue
And I owe it all to you-ou
Oh, I-I-I-I’ve had
The time of my li-i-i-ow
And I’ve never felt this way before-fore
And I swear-wear
This is tru-u-ue
And I owe it all to you-ou
I-I-I-I’ve had
The time of my li-i-ife
And I’ve never felt this way before-fore
And I swear-wear
This is tru-u-ue
And I owe it all to you-ou
Oh, I-I-I-I’ve had
The time of my li-i-i-ow
And I’ve never felt this way before-fore
And I swear-wear
This is tru-u-ue
And I owe it all to you-ou
Dirty bit.

And we end with Will.i.am (because no-one else in their right mind would listen to this and go, yeah this is good) basically going mental with vocoders and voice effects and going “This sounds cool” when really it’s just incredibly annoying. This song is just an incredibly tiresome, irritating shameful excuse of a single that doesn’t need to exist, Time Of My Life was already a good song and you could have just switched the drum beat to make it more dance friendly or whatever, not re-record it and basically drop a turd on peoples nostalgia. I’ll admit I’m not the biggest fan of dance or R&B music and I’ve heard people say this song’s amazing in a club, but I’m not reviewing this song based on wether it’s great when you’re off your face on Vodka or E or whatever people do in clubs these days, so if you want to dance to it and enjoy it that way, fine, I’ll just change the station.

Diddy Kong Racing



It’s common knowledge that every successful Nintendo 64 Rareware game has to involve nauseatingly cute characters, as evidenced by the jiggy-em-up Banjo Kazooie with bouncing carrots, Monkey em-up Donkey Kong 64 with beetles, monkeys and Beavers and Squirrel em-up Conker’s Bad Fur Day with sweet corn, Nazi teddy bears and giant pieces of poo.
Of course, all of these are spun-off from one spin-off, which is a spin-off of something else in the first place, which even that could be considered a spin off…You’d think a gaming universe aimed at children would be simple, rather than more convoluted and stupid than a Dan Brown novel.

Diddy Kong Racing came out in 1997 as the alternative to Mario Kart, offering more than just silly cartoon characters in carts. This one offered silly cartoon characters in Hovercraft and planes. Whilst Mario Kart was all vroom vroom, thwack, finish track onto the next zany race, Diddy Kong Racing offers that, but adds a story mode that’s so pointless, it may have just been called “Diddy Kong drives around a tiny island like a simian Jeremy Clarkson for no real reason” Not that you can get more simian than Jeremy Clarkson.


It’s like Top Gun re-enacted by Wind In The Willows

According to the manual, because otherwise there’s no indication of any kind of story. Timber the tiger’s parents, who for some reason are incredibly rich, leave him to babysit their island, because that’s obviously good parenting, and he then loses it to outerspace pig wizard genie thing Wizpig, who then turns the four guardians of the island, whose very existence make Timber pointless, against the tigers. Timber then decides to do what anyone would do in that situation, call up a monkey, a bear, a mouse, a turtle, a badger, a squirrel and a crocodile.


Double rainbow! What does it mean? Sod all in this instance.
In total, there are 10 playable characters and each one has a more annoying voice than the last from quintessentially English badger Bumper, who appears to be slapping himself to awkwardly dancing Timber The Tiger,to be honest,  the character select screen looks more like a police identity parade at a theme park.


The characters happily dance, serial killer just out of shot.

The main point of adventure mode is to collect plot coupons symbolised as Balloons. Collect more and you unlock more areas in the form of DINOSAURS! SNOW! OCEAN! FIELDS! SPACE! and its a good thing they’ve kept all the clichés out of this game, I’d be really pissed off if all of these were in any other games I’ve played.
After collecting enough balloons and winning enough races, you eventually get to face Wizpig in a race that’s about as fair as an arm wrestling contest with Ryu when you have no arms yourself. Throughtout playing, I don’t understand why he didn’t just zap them, he’s described as a wizard, so obviously despite this advantage of being able to do hocus pocus stuff, he just goes “Oh you won fair and square, I’m going to stop being evil now, besides, I have to go, my planet needs me” and all the characters celebrate and party with an awkward conga line.


Pork vs Chicken, now all we need is a cow and the banquet is complete.

And that’s Diddy Kong Racing, a patronising waste of my time. Racing games don’t need stories, they’re about as needed in racing games as they are in porn or web reviews. The actual racing isn’t bad, but’s littered with rubbish power-ups that cancel each other out whenever you accidently pick up another one and the characters are annoying, so not even loop the loops, snowballs with faces, a Death Star Trench Run parody and jelly ice randomly in a track save it from being an unfair, annoying game. Now, good day.

Hours later…

Suddenly, there awoken a crash from outside, The Zero leaped away from his badly written web reviews to see a car crashed outside his house. It was outside, therefore it was none of his concern. He shrugged and started thinking about porn after that last sentence of his reviews. Suddenly, the door to his room flew open, there in a leather jacket and wearing sunglasses, he saw…himself?
“Come with me now, or you’ll surely die within the next few hours,” It was his voice, but in a different, yet identical body. The Zero Shrugged.
“Later, I want to watch someone fall down on youtube”
“We don’t have time to…” He then saw the video that Zero was on, “Oh I’ve seen this, this is hilarious,” and sat down next to him.
“Do you want, like, a pizza or something?” The Zero asked.
“Sure, what flavour have you got?”
“Ummm. Pepperoni, Meat feat, ham and pineapple”
“Err. I’m a vegetarian,”
“WHAT?”
“Oh yeah, spoilers and stuff, but in the future, you become a vegetarian,”
Zero frothed in rage and tightened his fists…

TO BE CONTINUED!

Cheryl Cole – The Flood

Turn the lights out, in the light house,

Ok, I quite like this opening, it’s simple, it’s quite nice. Haven’t heard any lyrics about lighthouses in a long time…hell, I’ve not heard anything about Lighthouses since The Lighthouse Family all those years ago…

I saw you coming,
Felt the ship wreck

Ok, maybe turning the lighthouse off wasn’t the smartest move after all…

Saw the wreckage, I heard you yelling,
Just a mess when I saw your reflection in the sand,

Pretty sure you can’t have a reflection in the sand…pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

Wondering where you were washed up,
Or I ran to the water, Mmmmm,

Mmmmm? What? Also, it’s worth noting that there’s been no rhyming yet, unless you count coming and yelling (Oh god, I’m having those flashbacks again…). Whilst it’s not necessary to have every second line rhyme, it’s a common enough convention in pop music for it to seem stranger when it’s not used, but judging by previous Cheryl Cole/Girls Aloud tracks, this is probably better. I’m looking at you “Something Kinda Oooh/Jumping on my tutu” Yeah, not really excusable.

I can put my hands down in it,
But I won’t bring nothing up,
Sitting at the shore all day, waiting on the tide to come

But you can’t hold on to water,
It fills you up but never stays,
It’s only good to wash away,

Mainstream pop, ballad or no ballad should NEVER try to be pseudo-intellectual. It just sounds wrong and in no way makes the singer seem deep, we all know she hasn’t written this song.

Today and your loving me like water,
You’re slipping through my fingers touch,
Natural disaster love, bringing on the flood,

I promised myself I would get through this without making a joke about the falling apart of Cheryl Cole’s marriage, but lines like “You’re slipping through my fingers and natural disaster love” it’s like she’s reaching out and going “Go on, I DARE YOU,”

The flood,
Love me like a flood, the flood,
Bring it on,

“Bring it on” That feels quite out of context to the rest of the song, especially at the end, I suppose it’s a reference to the “Bringing on” a line or two before, but still…

Stay the night out, by the beach house,
It’s oh so quiet,

Hang on, so you found the guy? That’s good.

Lit a candle,
By the window, so you might find it,
Hope you know you’ll always have a place to call your home,
Still I can’t help but think I could have saved you from drowning,

Oh.

Ohhh, oh,

My thoughts exactly. This is pretty dark…I mean, isn’t her demographic, like…well, anyone (mostly women though) that watches The X Factor? INCLUDING CHILDREN?

I can put my hands down in it, yeah,
But I won’t bring nothing up,

Sitting on the shore all day
Just waiting on the tide to come,

forever alone.

But you can’t hold on to water,
It fills you up but never stays,
It’s only good to wash away,
Today and your loving me like water,
You’re slipping through my fingers touch,
Natural disaster love, bringing on the flood,
The flood,
Love me like a flood, the flood,
Bring it on,

I knew the waves were icy, when I felt them all retreating,
Went to take a dive in the deep end,
Oh, what was I thinking?

Yes, talk me through that in more detail, oh wait, is it time for the chorus again already?

But you can’t hold on to water,
It fills you up but never stays,
It’s only good to wash away,
Today and your loving me like water,
You’re slipping through my fingers touch,
Natural disaster love, bringing on the flood,
The flood,
Love me like a flood, the flood,
Bring it on,
Ohohohoh Ohohohoh
Rising and falling in my dreams,
Rising and the falling of my tears that fill the ocean, (the ocean, the ocean)

Well, that was absolutely miserable, it’s about someone drowning, not being there to save them and regretting it for what seems like eternity. I expect this stuff from White Lies, not the less pointy headed face of ITV’s flagship talent show. Now, I have some memories I have to drink away…

Starfox Adventures

First of all, before I begin, its possible you don’t consider the following game retro and I can understand the reasoning and you don’t have to look at this as a retro review if you choose not to, just a review to a previous generation game, but its my feature, I make the rules!!!

Today we’re looking at Starfox, the arialosoft shooting game on the ZX spectrum and Commodore 64. I’m lying. Of course, I obviously mean the furry baiting, star wars style action adventure on rails shooting titles that are only remembered by one phrase.

For those not aware, Starfox is the courageous tale of a team of anthromophic creatures who dogfight in space ships. Led by the brave but boring Fox McCloud, the team changes slightly depending on the game, but usually and unfortunately consists Krystal, a blue clairvoyant fox who makes Claire from Team America’s psychic powers look like Merlin. Peppy Hare, the one joke catchphrase with legs, Falco McDouchebag, who’ll constantly undermine you with saracasm, because that’s cool…and Slippy Toad, a character so unlikeable, no-one bats an eyelid if you accidently shoot him down.

The series started in 1993 with the game Starfox, but because someone had made a game with the same name 5 years earlier, they had to rename it in Europe, adding another thing to the cool stuff we either get renamed or don’t get. Instead of settling for a more accurate name such as Space Fox goes shooty shooty bang bang, they named it Starwing. The game is basically. Shoot shoot, upgrade weapons, shoot. Fight boss. Level over.

This was repeated in the highly successful sequel Star Fox 64, again renamed in Europe as Lylat Wars, and effectively a remake of the original game, it gave the series more backstory and brought in a villainous team with a wolf voiced by a generic evil british bad guy, a pig that makes Slippy look likeable, a man ape hybrid who talks like a moron and Katie Price.

Lylat Wars has since been considered the high point of the series, despite it’s painful voice acting. It offers a considerable amount of replay value and is pretty fun, the same can’t be said for its sequel however.

Back in the turn of the century, 2nd Party developer Rare were making an un-related Zelda style game starring a fox called Dinosaur Planet when someone at Nintendo said, “This completely different idea to what we’re doing, but it’s exactly the same, put it on the new console and make it a Starfox game” and the result is Starfox Adventures.

Cutting almost everything that made Lylat Wars great, Starfox Adventures is an action adventure romp through Sauria or the terribly named “Dinosaur Planet” as it’s known by the natives. Imagine if all Sci-fi planets had imagination like that in their planet names. Tatooine would be “Jawa Planet” Super Mario Galaxy would be “Plumber Planet” Pandora would be “Blue Man Group planet” and the planet in Lost In Space would be “Planet of the douches” or something.
The plot of the game is that Fox has to collect the Spell Stones and Krazoa spirits to bring the planet back in alignment and to rescue Krystal, who’s trapped in a giant…wait for it…crystal. None of this has in no way anything similar to it than any of the magical plot coupons or motives in Zelda, not even the way Fox picks up items…

Anyway, so Fox pretty much decides to do all this because he clearly fancies Krystal, as evidence by the Sexophone in the background of the scene. He’s not alone, mind, He’s joined by Prince Tricky, the son of the earthwalker tribe leaders and king of spouting inane rubbish. Unfortunately for all of you with working hearing, the game also doesn’t treat you fairly, whilst it’s nice that especially coming from a largely mute N64 era that all the characters have full voices, it seems Rare went out of their way to find the most annoying possible, whilst some characters like Fox are well voiced, others aren’t quite so lucky. Also, what’s with the regional british accents? It’s like everything old has to be British, just like in every Hollywood movie ever and I maybe 96 years old, but I find that offensive.


It maybe a few years old, but the game looks stunning, look at that warpaint!

Amidst all this chaos, the main villain of the game is an old pirate military T Rex wolverine…thing in the form of General Scales. He looks big and intimidating, despite basically doing nothing for the entire game except spouting in a bizarre dialect and killing terradactyls “for the lolz”. and you want to punch him one by the end of the game, but don’t worry about it, there’s a big twist at the end that just appears out of nowhere, slaps you in the face and insults you and Scales just disappears for no reason. Fighting enemies is a bore as well, it auto targets and you basically hammer the A button until they die. It’s about as exciting as watching a paint drying contest…after the paints dried. Of course, there are boss battles and the ones that don’t rip off Yoshi’s Island are pretty challenging and at least make you think about hurting them in other ways than PRESS A TO INFLICT MASSIVE DAMAGE!!!!


Fox voids his bowels after turning round.
However, actually playing the game is a fairly enjoyable experience, sure it’s stuffed with stupid padding sections, it’s fairly annoying and is a clear Zelda rip-off, but Rare actually paid attention to the good aspects of Zelda and this comes across as more of an homage to the adventure genre. It’s clearly rushed and the entire second half feels tacked on, but the game does look fantastic and is a well-designed adventure game.

I’d give it a score out of ten, but quite frankly, I can’t be bothered, so let’s say…Smarch out of 10.