On…Geoguessr

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A quick blog post today just to highlight a cool little online game called Geoguessr. The game utilises Google Map’s streetview and places you in a random location. Your goal is try to and pinpoint where exactly you are in the world. You can move around and look around as you would in Streetview. You get points for proximity to the actual location. There are five rounds and then you get a total overview of how you did.

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On…Eternal Sonata

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I have never come across anyone who has played this game before. Released in 2007 originally for Xbox 360 and later on the PS3 (with more content), this J-RPG really didn’t make big waves. I still think sales figures are fascinating things and put these vague ideas I have about what’s underrated into perspective; so I am informed by VGChartz that in the UK, only 3300 copies sold and I own two of those copies (yeah I bought it for both consoles to get the extra content). Clearly not a runaway hit. Again, this is going to be another post lamenting an underrated game, as is my wont to do. Eternal Sonata is by no means perfect, and suffers from many of your standard J-RPG bug-bears, but the experience it provides with its gorgeous graphical style and the amazing use of its strong classical soundtrack all combined with a unique and rather surreal story is what makes this game.

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On…Jiro Dreams of Sushi

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I watched this documentary a little while ago after seeing it at the top of numerous critical review sites and just hearing a general good buzz around it. Whilst I’ve watched quite a few documentaries in my time, it’s not a genre I’m particularly familiar with. I suspect for a lot of people, including myself, documentaries bring to mind the kind of fuzzy VHS tapes that your teachers made you watch with their outdated information and interviews with people who had terrible haircuts. Jiro Dreams of Sushi, however, is light years away from those experiences, and it manages to be a delightful brief insight into the life of Jiro, a world-class sushi chef who hails from humble beginnings. Jiro himself is quietly passionate, incredibly dedicated to his work but remains steadfastly modest, and watching how his restaurant operates and his thought processes behind the sushi he creates was sublime. The documentary itself is incredibly high quality and extremely well done, hitting emotional high notes as well as providing a wonderful window into a kind of lifestyle that most people will never experience.

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On…Mad Men

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With Season 6 all wrapped up now, I wanted to reflect on Mad Men. Having followed the series since 2007 when it first aired, you’ll have to forgive me if my memories of the earlier seasons are a bit fuzzy. Anyway, a small introduction if you’ve been living under a rock and have never heard of this hit US TV show. Mad Men is a drama series set in the 1960s, following the exploits of ad agent creative executive Don Draper. Don is a suave ladies man played by Jon Hamm, who rocks the office with his mind-blowing creative pitches as well as his ability to make everyone’s panties drop when he walks into a room. We follow the extra-marital exploits of this married man, his life both at home and the office, as well as take a look at the other characters which surround him. The Mad Men cast is rather large and varied, and Don Draper is backed up by a dynamic and strongly developed secondary cast of office staff, clients, mistresses and wives. Mad Men, in my opinion, is very much a character-driven drama, with the 1960s setting adding a touch of flare and style unique to the show. But what Mad Men does so well, and what it is so critically renowned for, is how it weaves in these realistic yet slightly surreal storylines in with the general background noise of 1960s New York and all the upheavals and glories of that period. It is a show that has been praised for its historical accuracy, though I really don’t think that’s the main focus of the show. Instead, the main focus has to be on the adventures of Don Draper and company, particularly with an eye towards unravelling the mystery of Don’s past.

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On…Sherlock

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Sherlock Holmes is a hot property right now. To be fair, it always has been, and Sherlock Holmes holds the Guinness Book of Records for most portrayed movie character. It’s not just movie adaptations though, and undoubtedly through the years you’ve probably heard radio plays, cartoons and TV series all featuring our favourite genius detective. In recent years, we’ve had the TV spin-off House (a medical take replacing crimes with disease and detective skills with diagnostic ones) as well as the box office hits starring Robert Downey Jnr (not fantastic, in my opinion). But what I want to talk about today is the BBC series Sherlock, featuring a modern day adaptation of the Holmes franchise starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Created by Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat (famous for their work on Doctor Who), the series is about to air its 3rd season hopefully before the end of this year, after filming was delayed. The seasons are short, even by English TV standards, consisting of only 3 episodes each at an hour and a half long. Talk about short but sweet! Anyway, Sherlock happens to be one of my favourite TV series of recent years and something of a must watch.

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On…PC Games I Couldn’t Finish

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As I’m browsing my Steam library looking for a game to review, I quickly realised that there’s a whole category of games which I started but for whatever reason, could not finish. So because I’m rather pressed for time, I thought I’d do a short blog post dedicated to all those games which remain uncompleted in my library. Of course, based on the fact that I haven’t completed them, these aren’t full reviews and should not be taken that way. They’re more first impressions, I suppose, or in some cases, just reasons why I couldn’t finish them. I haven’t necessarily abandoned these games because they’re bad or unplayable, but oftentimes, I just don’t have the time or I wasn’t engaged enough to see them through or they’re in a genre which I don’t particularly like. In fact, many of these games were well received in general and I can definitely see how I could be wrong in my assessment. Perhaps the best parts of the games are still ahead, and if that’s the case, then I strongly urge you to correct me in my ways and to message me about them and I’ll try and give them another go. I’ll put down how much time I’ve spent on them based on my Steam stats, so you can get a rough idea of how far I got. I’ll also explain why I didn’t like them enough to finish them, so if you vehemently disagree, feel free to drop me a comment!

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On…Mudlarking on the Thames

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A slightly different type of blog entry today, because I wanted to reflect on a rather cool experience I went on last week as part of my work. We went mudlarking on a section of the Thames foreshore, just underneath Millennium Bridge on the north side. Mudlarking, for those who don’t know, is basically scavenging in the riverbed for things of value; whilst we weren’t exactly trying to make a living from our time down there, we did have on hand a member of the Thames Explorer Trust who expertly identified the various bits and bobs we brought to him. And really, I know the term mudlarking isn’t exactly accurate for we were all young adults and not Victorian children, but it’s the most succinct term I could think of. ‘Scavenging and picking up stuff’ is hardly very catchy. Anyway, it was a fascinating experience, and a rather unexpected one, for when I first found out about this item on our itinerary, I was a bit sceptical. What could be found on the Thames foreshore? Surely everything that could be scavenged had already been taken? I expected to find bits of glass bottles and rubbish, and thought the whole 3 hours would be more of a litter picking duty than a real mudlark. However, I was pleasantly surprised and we found a huge amount of interesting objects which kept us preoccupied for our time on the foreshore.

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