The Martian Farm (Recapture Dover)

lv4-00After two levels in the general “rural England” mould and a third that’s just London, The War of the Worlds gives us its first genuinely unconventional setting. This is the point where the game definitively steps beyond the narrow geographical territory of Wells’s rather perambulatory novel – a stop by the coast before we begin our long road-trip to the north. Perhaps most importantly, it’s just a fun idea: really, how many science-fiction video games are set in Kent?
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A Middle-Aged, Pleasant, Well-Meaning Priest (The Complete Scripts)

father ted the complete scriptsOne year after Father Ted aired its final episode, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews published a book. As its title suggests, The Complete Scripts collects in a single volume the screenplays for all 25 produced episodes. However, the book’s most intriguing aspect is that these are not actually the shooting scripts, but rather the second-last drafts. As the writers explain in the introduction, they like the idea of script books, but are disappointed when they contain only word-for-word transcriptions of a show’s dialogue. The Complete Scripts, then, is meant as a remedy to this lazy trend: an attempt at a product with innate value and interest of its own, beyond its utility as a straightforward reference. This is not just Father Ted printed, but something slightly askew from it – the version of Father Ted that aired in a slightly different universe, perhaps. If The Craggy Island Parish Magazines was an attempt to continue the show’s creative momentum on the page, The Complete Scripts represents a pause for reflection – the writers turning those same skills to the curatorial.
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A Cheap, Greedy Little Man (The Craggy Island Parish Magazines)

the craggy island parish magazinesThe sitcom format, powered as it is by the very particular way a cast perform and interact both with one other and with their live studio audience, doesn’t translate terribly well to book form. It’s to its credit, then, that The Craggy Island Parish Magazines largely resists the temptation to try to recreate Father Ted. An epistolary book combining prose and visual art, it’s completely unlike the show in structure, instead focusing on capturing its tone, feeling, and voices of its characters and world. Published a few months after the show’s conclusion, it’s the earliest post-finitum entry in what might dubiously be called the Father Ted Expanded Universe. Co-authored by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews in their joint prime, it has quite a head-start.
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The Factory Operational (Parliament Is Attacked)

lv3-01It’s evening, the sky an autumn bronze, and Martian forces are massing in central London. A mission falls to us: to marshall the resistance, to build an army, and to defend the city from the invaders. A more intuitive telling of this story might end right here, but the game has other ideas, using up the battle for London in the third of fourteen levels before moving on to stranger territory. As a lone Flying-Machine soars over Westminster, an Armoured Lorry narrowly escapes across the collapsing bridge, set on its noble mission of mild importance. We begin.
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Fire to the Sea (A Promenade Companion / Compagnon de Promenade)

compagnon de promenadeThe album Promenade stands alone, a complete and self-contained work. That said, also it has a couple of satellites in its orbit: two EPs whose names mark them as supplemental, a pair of records slaved to the album and implicitly elaborating on its meaning. One of these is called A Promenade Companion. The other is called Compagnon de Promenade. This will get complicated.
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Buzz’s Dungeon and the Cosmology of Spyro

buzz 01The Spyro series takes place in a universe which, at least structurally speaking, is genuinely unlike any other I’ve encountered in fiction. As you might expect from a mascot platformer, a typical Spyro game features a handful of free-roaming hub “homeworlds”, each of which in turn contains a selection of thematically-linked levels. We’ll concern ourselves primarily with the original trilogy developed by Insomniac Games, which constitutes a kind of canonical corpus (the series, much like Crash Bandicoot, famously nosediving when handed off to other studios). The first game takes place largely in a medieval fantasy world, differentiating itself from the genre’s more muted entries (eg, Dungeons & Dragons) by consciously drawing inspiration from fairy-tales and – a little less intuitively – the 1967 Richard Harris film Camelot, elevating its light, saturated Arthuriana into full-blown cartoon. Though retaining this idea as a key component of its identity, the series rapidly diversifies its environments as it goes, adding everything from tomb-raiding to psychedelic surrealism, Wild West shoot-outs to Eastern temples.
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Bridge Transports Are Hard to Come By (The Martians Land at the Thames)

lv2-01Every video-game level, to some degree or other, is a response to the one that precedes it. Where the first level of The War of the Worlds began peacefully, the second begins with fire: our introductory fly-by is interrupted by the arrival of a Martian Cylinder, scorching the trees as it comes in to land. This is the second Cylinder we’ll encounter in-game, and also the last – as in the novel and album, the craft lose their significance quite early on, with the focus shifting to their passengers. Still, the vast number of enemy Martian units suggests there must be a hell of a lot of these Cylinders dotted around the country – certainly more than the total of ten specified in the novel. In additional second-level inversions, we begin trapped in a stationary Machine-Gun Turret rather than a mobile Armoured Lorry, and instead of having to potter around with target practice, we’re thrown into immediate combat.
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