Saturday, 31 August 2013

TV Review: Doctor Who 7.09 - Hide

A number of months ago when I reviewed Neil Cross' début Doctor Who story, I pondered whether I would be able to write one-word reviews and still receive the same amount of wonderful satisfaction and feedback upon publishing them. Of course, this was a ridiculous idea to ponder over, but if I were to extend the thought to single sentence reviews, would that suffice? In the case of Hide, Neil Cross' second script of the series, my shortened review would go something along the lines of this hefty statement: Hide is, without a doubt in my mind, the best episode of Doctor Who's seventh revived series thus far. This is one of those rare scripts from a guest writer that manages to reach the heights of more prominent, plot heavy showrunner-penned stories without actually contributing much to the over-arcing plot at all. For similar outings in Moffat's run, see series 5 instalment Vincent and the Doctor, series 6's weep-inducing The Girl Who Waited and... well, not a whole lot else. This episode is magnificent, albeit subtly so. It's not difficult to imagine how fulfilling it is to praise what could've been something of a flop, especially after two weeks prior of dire offerings, one of which was also penned by Cross.

The Rings of Akhaten was a decent enough episode, but what it basked in with the colourful production and set design wasn't balanced out with an equally spectacular and intricate script. It packed some good ideas and memorable moments, for sure, but none of them came close to realising their full potential, instead being stretched out or overblown to barely fill the 45 minutes. Neil Cross' Doctor Who broadcast début was an unbalanced one, then - So what makes his second chance absolutely worthy of its place in the spotlight? It's quite simple, really: this is a much more developed and fleshed-out script than a fair few of its predecessors, and it succeeds in a great number of aesthetic aspects. In honesty, aside from a few jumpy moments and odd dialogue exchanges in the first act of the story, Hide rarely does anything but succeed.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wind Waker HD's New Art-Style: Is it Really Such a Big Deal?

You can check out an enhanced version of this article in the upcoming fourth issue of Stream, the free web-mag edited by yours truly. The version you'll read below is the same in terms of the main bulk of the article, but the Stream version comes complete with comparison screenshots and the like. It'll be released very soon. Check out previous issues right here!

Ever wanted to know what my first truly magical Nintendo experience was? Set your DMC DeLorean to 2008 and crash through time into my abode (albeit not directly, because that could potentially rupture the space-time continuum and create a time paradox in which images of my body slowly disappear from any images that contain it, leading to an epic escapade in which you, my dear reader, attempt to undo your actions in order to resurrect me... wait, where was I going with this, again?) and you might just spot a GameCube and a copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker along with it. That, my friend, was my first experience with Nintendo. Well, excluding early sessions with the Parachute Game & Watch - but let me tell you something: that 3-frame LCD game ain't no Wind Waker, son.

Despite being a GameCube release, the third main polygonal Zelda game still stands tall as one of the most beautiful games ever made if you're looking at it visually. It can successfully topple many current generation titles when it comes to just how brilliantly crafted the game is artistically, and that's when we're not even bringing the gameplay, soundtrack, story, or any other aesthetics into the equation. If Ocarina had this magic spark in terms of how it was structured, then Majora's Mask certainly had it nailed down thematically even if the graphics were no different from its predecessor, in many cases quite literally. With Wind Waker, in my opinion, Nintendo pioneered in these aspects. Thematically it was no Majora, but in terms of gameplay and visual direction it trumps its predecessors, no questions asked, and all it has to offer is presented primarily through some truly wonderful art design. Oh, and did I mention the soundtrack? A large chunk of Koji Kondo's compositions for this game are among the best in the entire Zelda franchise. It really is a mesmerising experience from every angle, with very few hiccups along the way.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Back Again? [Update: 01/08/13]

A cold wind has blown over Noodle's Blog for a number of months, now. On the last day of January earlier this year, I promised I'd be rebooting the stream of reviews, features and what have you following another unannounced, lengthy hiatus over the Christmas period. Let's not beat around the bush, here... this didn't really happen. Sure, I got a bunch of Doctor Who reviews in several months later, and was on a roll mid-way through the latest series of the show, but due to a loss of time, interest, and most of all the individual episodes of impending doom that were my GCSE exams, I worked on but couldn't quite keep up with the schedule I originally planned. Despite two drafts of Doctor Who reviews already prepared for touch-ups and publication, GCSE revision took overall prominence and I decided to focus solely on what was undoubtedly the most important thing at the time.

So, I worked my butt off and tried my hardest in the exams. Some went surprisingly well, others didn't. But you don't really need to hear about that sort of stuff. What you may be wondering is what exactly this post is about. If you've been following my blog for a while - if so, thank you, and I appreciate you taking the time to read this here right now because it is sort of important - you may have noticed a trend when it comes to updates with the intention of getting back on track with my personal writing. The trend goes something like this: I post an update detailing a number of articles I plan on publishing sometime in the near future, nothing happens for weeks and eventually said articles are either unfinished or non-existent in my metaphorical pile of virtual sheets of paper. So yeah, I've not exactly been that reliable lately when it comes to writing. Thank goodness I don't have any real deadlines, because I'd be fired by now if I did.

Instead of repeating the same frustrating process detailed in the previous paragraph, I've decided to inform whoever is reading this of where exactly my head is at when it comes to writing at this moment in time. In one word, it's jumbled. In two, it's really jumbled. I want to keep writing, I know I'm capable of doing it - especially now there aren't any GCSE-related scrapes on the horizon, or hopefully ever for that matter - but since I finally finished my secondary education I've been suffering from something of a creative mental block; more commonly referred to as writer's block. This may seem like a cheap excuse for not writing, but until now I've barely been able to conceive a simple update such as the one you're reading right now. I wanted to write this friggin' thing a month ago when my free time officially started.

This doesn't mean I'm stopping altogether, mind. Far from it, in fact. I'll just be changing a few things. First off, the Doctor Who reviews, aside from that of the truly fantastic 'Hide' (which I'm working on to pleasing success at the moment, and should be published before the end of the month) may be postponed for a little while so I can work on other projects to give my blog a little something called variety. I enjoy writing Doctor Who reviews but I feel I'll be able to churn out other stuff faster seeing as I'd have to re-watch and re-adjust to the most recent series in order to finish of my synopses of its episodes. That said, they are broadcasting repeats of series 7 on BBC Three starting today, so in a few months we'll have reached the point where I'm at with the reviews, so many I'll resume writing the rest around that time.

Until then, what else is coming? Some kind of countdown feature, I should think, as I haven't worked on anything like that for quite a while now. I'm thinking something Breaking Bad related. I've not written any posts on Breaking Bad and I really feel that I should do so. Some one-off TV reviews have entered the realms of my consideration, too. A few Sherlock classics, or maybe even some Breaking Bad because, as noted above, I feel it appropriate for me to write about the TV show I enjoy the most (don't expect me to review an entire series, mind!). Something that is definitely likely to pop up soon enough is a review of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's fantastic The World's End, a film so good I saw it at the cinema twice and wouldn't mind going to see again.

Something that most definitely won't be happening any time soon but has been on my mind a fair bit lately is moving the blog to an actual web domain. I currently own a web space under my name and haven't really done anything with it since I received it as a Christmas present last year, but I do want to do something with it at some point and I'm not crossing off 'move blog to its own domain' off my metaphorical list of options just yet. On a very similar note, I've been trying to come up with a new name for the blog as 'Noodle's Blog' hasn't really felt relevant to me for quite a while now (I haven't used the alias of 'Noodle' for about a year). Any ideas on your behalf are more than welcome.

In short: new posts will be up soon, after my review of Hide has been published I won't be working on Doctor Who reviews for a little while and I'm looking for a new name for the blog, so if you have any suggestions drop them in the comments box below. Here's hoping I can get the blog back on track, and I mean that this time. Until next time, have a pleasant day!