Random Encounter #4 – Why Video Game Movies Are a Stupid Idea

Cap’n Tightpants IS Nathan Drake. Almost.

Video game movies have a terrible track record but, as the games get more cinematic, the movies should get better, right? Olivia Cottrell doesn’t think so…

As a fan of video games, I’m often asked if I’ve seen any of their big screen adaptations – the Tekken or Street Fighter movies, for example, or the truly, truly awful Doom movie (I did watch it but, for my own protection, my brain has blanked most of the memories out). People also tend to assume I’m excited by the prospect of a Mass Effect movie, or disappointed that the film based on the Uncharted franchise floundered and died.

The truth is, I’m glad when these movies never see the light of day. Not just because the adaptations seem to be universally bad, but because they play to the assumption that film is a higher form of entertainment. True, films are more mainstream than video games (but not, I’d argue, for much longer, thanks to Facebook-based casual gaming and the rise of the Wii as a family console) but there’s no reason why a film should perceived to be a more valuable or significant cultural property than a video game.

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Harry Potter – From Page to Screen and Beyond

We’ve been promising you this for ages, and here it is at last – an in-depth discussion of the boy wizard.

Our resident expert Sarah Burrow is joined by special guest Suzie Nockles (last heard in our Hunger Games episode) to assess the sprawling universe that is the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Just what made J.K. Rowling’s books so successful and did their big screen adaptations actually improve on them?  Could the Pottermore website have yet more surprises in store for fans? Hogwarts may have conquered Florida’s theme parks but will it fare as well in Japan? And was Dumbledore gay just because J.K. Rowling says he was?

All this and more, in the latest Impossible Podcast!


Visual Memory #4 – ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’

Welcome, ye scurvy landlubbers, to a rum-fuelled edition of Visual Memory!  The grog isn’t strictly necessary, but it’s rather fitting for the game Christopher Bell has loaded into the cannons this month.  Prepare to set sail for The Secret of Monkey Island!

This classic point-and-click adventure was created by a triumvirate of designers and writers, Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim Schaffer, as an alternative to heavy-handed adventure games where one slip meant instant death or inability to complete the game.  This was meant to be a more forgiving (there’s only one place you can die, and that’s by drowning), and thus more enjoyable experience.

Players take on the mantle of Guybrush Threepwood, a young scallywag out to prove himself as a mighty pirate on Mêlée Island. To do this he needs to complete three tasks to impress a trio of pirate lords. Along the way, he will meet the love of his life (the governess of Mêlée Island, Elaine Marley), as well as battling the ghost of LeChuck, an infamous pirate out to marry Elaine by any means necessary.

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Random Encounter #3 – Don’t Stop Believing

Journey video game title card

Can video games be good for the soul? In her ongoing examination of the state of gaming, Olivia Cottrell wonders if we couldn’t all do with a bit more soul…

Video games and religion are not what you might call natural bedfellows. Even as games have grown up in the last few years and started to explore questions of race, sexuality and the more basic issues of morality (good vs evil, the needs of the many or the needs of the few and so on) religion has been a topic that most games try to avoid. As a gamer with a vested interest in religion (being a Christian), I find it frustrating that so many titles still shy away from a frank look at this fundamental aspect of the human condition. And that, when they do attempt it, they often fall very short of the mark.

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Game of Thrones – From Page to Screen

Join Caleb Woodbridge, Sarah Burrow and – making his debut on the podcast – Kieran Mathers as they tackle George RR Martin’s epic fantasy sequence.

After an in-depth discussion of the books, including their use of history and magic, the team turns a ciritcal eye on the smash hit HBO series. Where did it succeed? Where did it fail? And how should Season 2 (and Season 3) move forward? All this, plus the burning question: do too many lesbian prostitutes spoil the broth?

PLEASE NOTE: The first 30 minutes of the podcast are spoiler free, but there are significant spoilers for the rest of the running time. You have been warned!


Visual Memory #3 – ‘Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors’

Its cult following may be more famous than the game that spawned it but, as evidence of a Darkstalkers reboot continues to mount, Christopher Bell looks back to 1994 and the birth of Capcom’s original monster mash.

As franchises go, Darkstalkers is one of the few to have flourished beyond its video game origins. It’s been turned into a popular manga comic, a couple of animated series (avoid the Saturday morning American TV version at all costs!) and a 15th anniversary coffee-table tribute book, packed with gorgeous artwork. Its most popular characters, meanwhile, have gone on to star in a host of other high-profile titles including the Marvel vs Capcom series and a Magic: The Gathering-style card game. Most noticeably, they’ve become a mainstay of the cosplay circuit, with (mostly female) characters drawing eyes and camera lenses at conventions across the globe.

Not bad for a series that hasn’t seen a new release since 1998.
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