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GamelogoBy Australian Ninja

Remnants & Relics. Buttonhole *Special* Feature

Welcome dear reader to Remnants & Relics, the first in an ongoing series of features looking back at various aspects of yesterday's video games. This series is one that I'd hoped to kick off many months ago, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice, until now. So consider this your opportunity to put on your best pair or rose-tinted glasses, open up a luke-warm can of clichés and prepare to hop aboard the way-back-machine.... It came from beyond two dimensions! -A Look Back at Isometric Gaming-

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

ACMI Day Tripper

Welcome Buttonhole readers to another feature that is so choc-full of goodness that I've divided it into several sections. The top half is about the Indy video games showcased at ACMI. The bottom half is about the Pixar exhibit. It's ridiculously long and all terribly interesting to read, so you may as well read it in two halves, or just the parts that interest you. After reading about the ACMI exhibits on their website and getting more than a little excited, I decided to make the perilous trek to inner Melbourne. With time on my side and money stuffed in my pocket I ventured forth to the train station. Once on board I passed the time by staring out the window, reading a volume of Dark Horse's Concrete and snacking on tasty fruit. Arriving at Flinders St, I wandered around until inevitably finding my way out of the rat-maze like station.

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Classic Comic-book Review. Kraven's Last Hunt

"Here lies Spider-Man - Slain by the Hunter" So reads the grave of one of histories greatest superheros. "But he's not dead, is he? What happened to everyone's favourite web-slinger? Spidey seems to be alive and well now, what with his three movie deal and a string of monthly Marvel comic-book titles to his name, so why was he buried six feet under? The year is 1987. The company is Marvel. The character is Sergei Kravinov also known as 'Kraven the Hunter.' Back in the 60's Stan and Steve (Lee and Ditko, respectively) churned out a heap of cool villains for the title "Amazing Spider-Man." Doctor Octopus, The Cham

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Hyper Magazine Logo Q&A With Daniel Wilks from Hyper magazine

World's Most Dangerous Deputy Editor speaks to Buttonhole

Fri, 15 April 2005

Sammy by: Hillelman

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Following up on the well recieved Q&A with Cam Shea (hey that rhymes!), Mr. Daniel Wilks was kind enough to spend some time with us as well. Find out what Daniel had to say about writing game reviews, piracy, comics, acting, disgruntled readers and a whole lot more!

Q. You are the deputy editor of Hyper magazine (in case you forgot). How did you reach that position? What makes you "the world's most dangerous deputy editor" (a title you've been known to use in the magazine)?

I used to work on PC Powerplay a bunch of years ago. I got that job after freelancing for about 5 or so years. Then I "graduated" to having my own magazine for six issues. It was a disaster but not all my fault. There's an old expression that goes, "no matter how much you polish a turd it's still a turd" it summed up my experience there. Anyway, I freelanced for another year after that. I basically became known as something of a can do man. If any editor needed something done in a day, they came to me. When Elliot left I was apparently the first choice. This is just a roundabout way of saying that I fucking rock.

The "world's Most Dangerous" thing comes from a few instances when I was working on Powerplay. Basically I destroyed the Australian branch of an international peripherals company (who shall remain nameless due to the fact that after an interesting and tense run in I had with them at E3 last year we've come to an understanding) in a review. The company had no presence in Aus for a couple of years after that. I'm also the first games journalist that we know of who has been threatened with gross physical violence by a PR person.

Q. I was told you have an "interesting" background. I was also told you had done some acting work. That doesn't really give me much to go on, so I guess I'll just ask if you could please elaborate on those things.

Basically I was the opposite of Cam. He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life so he became a slacker. I didn't know what I wanted to do (during my teens) so instead I did a bit of everything. I acted, wrote, directed, did sound and lighting for a few porn films, started training to be a chef, worked as both a security and bodyguard. I ran my own theatre company for a couple of years, taught drama, was an employment agent, office manager, script editor, post graduate student administrator, invigilator and a few other things I can't remember. All by the time I was 24. I also studied various martial arts for 16 or so years but had to pack it in due to a bad back and blown out knee.

Of course the interesting thing you may be referring to could be my aberrant brain chemistry. I'm bi-polar (currently unmedicated) but when I was going through puberty I was a violent little freak who nearly killed someone and ended up on the breakfast of champions (Prozac, Lithium, Valium) for nearly a year.

As far as acting goes, let me put it this way, I was short, fat and had a high pitched voice. I lost all screen work when my voice broke at 12 but kept plugging away at stage stuff until I was 22. That was when I realised that I actually didn’t enjoy acting and moved to the other side " writing, producing and directing.

Q. Do you ever read other people's reviews of a game (or movie) that you've reviewed yourself?

I try not to until I've written a review. I prefer to work off my own impressions then have them tainted with other people's ideas. That said other people's reviews are invaluable if you want to check out if other people have encountered the same bugs, slowdown, quirks and the like.

Q. Do you notice any common flaws in games, any general problems that occur fairly regularly?

Imitation. I know it's the sincerest form of flattery but when one good game comes out there is no need for every damn developer to release their own half-arsed version.

Q. Is it essential for a reviewer to "finish" every game they review? Or, in other words, how much of a game do you believe one should be required to play before they can offer a fair review?

Ultimately I think it depends on the style of game. I always try to finish an RPG at least once before reviewing it because there seems to be a nasty habit of developers slacking off in the latter half of their game and degenerating into a plotless dungeon bash. I try to play at least 10 hours of any game I review - it's a fairly good time because most action games you can finish in that time or at least get fairly close to the end, you can unlock a shitload of stuff in fighting games in that time, play a bunch of maps in an RTS. Like I say though, ultimately the amount of time you need to play varies from game to game. La Pucelle I played for 50+ hours before the review. Catwoman I played for 50+ minutes.

Q. What advice can you offer people who are hoping to get into the "games journalism" business?

It's a very small industry locally. There are only 25 or so of us working full time in this country. It's also something of an old boy's club; if you are known in the industry the chances of you getting a job when someone steps down are much greater than if you simply apply for a job. My advice is write. Do it a lot. Send articles to magazines. If they like it they may publish it. If not, try again. Like we say in the magazine though, if you're going to write something for us, spell properly, use punctuation and for gods sake don't write a review of something we have already covered. We are willing to take a chance publishing an article we are sent but we're not willing to go out on a limb and dedicate money to maybe getting a half decent review from someone who sent us in a review of something they liked and maybe took weeks to write.

Q. What is your opinion regarding game piracy (or music and movie piracy for that matter)?

I'm anti-piracy. I know the arguments for and against but ultimately you can't sit down and say "I pirate (insert pirated product) because it's too expensive". If you can't afford an album" save the money. If you can't save the money then do without.

Q. What's the best live show (music, comedy, sporting event etc.) you've ever been to?

The Polyphonic Spree was awesome at the Enmore earlier this year. I've never seen a group give so much to the audience. Tori Amos during the Little Earthquakes tour (1995 I think) was brilliant. Grupo Capoeira Brazil Batisado was very cool (the baptism for Capoeristas in which they are given their fighting names).

Q. If you could meet and/or interview any three people, alive or dead, who would they be?

Takeshi Miike, the greatest and most prolific director in the world. Michael Marshal Smith so I could punch him in the mouth for writing the most perfect first novel I could ever imagine. Buster Keaton because he's the funniest man who ever lived.

Q. You're a big movie fan. What are some of the best DVD commentary tracks you've heard?

The commentary on John Carpenter's The Thing is gold - Carpenter and Kurt Russel have this easy camaraderie that lets you in on the fact that even though they haven't seen each other in years they are still close friends. The pair of them gets incredibly excited about things in the film and at one point you can hear a beer can being opened.

Believe it or not, the shitty nature on the rampage flick, Bats has a brilliant commentary. Lou Diamond Phillips does the commentary alongside the director Louis Morneau but unlike the director who seems to be under the mistaken impression that his film is any good, Phillips knows it was a piece of guano and proceeds to take the piss for 90 minutes.

Any Robert Rodriguez commentary is great; I learned more about making films from his movies than three years of uni.

Q. I believe you are also into comic books. Which comics do you read?

I read whatever takes my fancy on the day but as a hard and fast rule I will devour anything by Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis or Frank Miller. I know it's not "cool" but I dig supers. I love larger than life exploits and some of the sequential art done in the name of blowing shit up is absolutely sublime. Anything from Stormwatch for example. Or Kingdom Come. I also like my weird stories - Doom Patrol is one of my favourite ever series. Of course I can't rant about comics without bringing up my favourite trenchcoated, chain smoking good guy occultist with a dark past that was ripped off to create a background for Rupert Giles on Buffy, who does all the wrong things for the right reasons. Hellblazer is probably the book I've collected for the longest, even through the Azzarello years which were crap aside from the Hard Time story arc.

Q. While we're on the topic of comics, I'll ask you what is becoming my customary "pointless geeky question": who would win in a fight between Batman and Daredevil?

The real winner would be Marvel's lawyers who would be quick to jump on any form of expression that could possibly infringe on their copyrighted characters.

Seriously though, I would go for DD because I've never had much time for the Caped Crusader. Sonar and perfect balance would come in handy too. Unless Batman cheated and had some stupid bat-white noise generator and screwed up his ears.

The best scenario though would be Animal Man showing up, telling them both that they're fictional constructs whose every move is dictated by an outside force and looking slightly confused (and pissed off with Garth Ennis) when the Guardian Devil and the Bat turn into white space.

Damn I love Animal Man. Origin of the Species was genius.

Q. Back to videogames. Which games have you devoted the most playing time to over the years? Are there any classics that you find yourself always coming back to?

The most time spent playing would have to be Tetris. I can always go back to that game. It's brilliant and infinitely replayable. Elite is another one I get a hankering for now and then. Virtua Fighter 2 on the Saturn was brilliant and every time I see Tekken, DOA or the like I want to get a Saturn and put on VF2 - it leaves the rest of them for dead. I've spent way too much time playing World of Warcraft. I used to make fun of people who played MMOs but after having sunk 150+ hours into the game I can't really justify my scorn anymore.

Q. Are there any types of games-- for instance a genre you dislike, or titles made by a developer you aren't fond of -- that you dread having to play and/or review?

RTS bores the living shit out of me. Aside from that I'm OK. Neither Arxel Tribe of Monte Carlo send me stuff any more so I don't have to bother wasting my precious life on their crappy products.

Q. Recently Hyper has had something of a "conflict" (for lack of a better, less dramatic word) going on with some of its readers. The basis of this mainly stemmed from a couple of letters printed in the mag complaining of too many "in-jokes" and the magazine's brand of humour in general. Then people came out of the woodwork to rush to Hyper's defence. Has all of this died down again now and what are your thoughts on it all now that the dust has settled somewhat?

You can't please all the people all of the time. I think the "conflict" has been blown out of proportion. It was four negative letters in the end. Personally I believe that one of the strengths of Hyper is the sense of community. One of the ways to foster community is through humour, especially in-jokes. In-jokes allow readers to feel they are in on something that other people may not understand. They make readers one of us.

Q. What snacks and beverages do you find most suitable to go with gaming?

Beer. As far as food goes, things you can eat with one hand are vital.

Q. I asked Cam Shea this vitally important question, so I think it is only fair to get your response to it as well. If you could have a threesome with any female (or male if you want to swing that way) celebrities who would you chose?

Alyson Hannigan and Asia Argento. Or Ann-Margret (circa 1964) and Selma Blair. Or Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins (as Ginger and Brigitte). Or Emmanuelle Beart and Monica Bellucci.

Q. Of the upcoming next generation of consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo is there one that you are especially looking forward to?

Microsoft at the current stage - mostly because I'll be playing it by the end of the year. I'm also looking forward to seeing the Revolution just to see what is so revolutionary about it.

Q. What are some changes you would like to see in the immediate future of the games industry? What changes do you think we will see in the immediate future of the games industry?

I'd like to see the return of independent game developers like Jeff Minter. A turn from the studio structure to smaller, more interesting products would be great. I'd like to see games being released when they’re done, not when the deadline ends. I'd like to see gameplay take precedence over graphics. I'd like to see consumers buying good games rather than simply buying the next part in a series. I'd like to see someone apologise to Al Lowe for what they did to his series with Magna Cum Laude. I'd like to see developers put up the money to hire a team of elite mercenaries to stop Uwe Boll from making any more movies. I'd like to see games stop being an easy target for people looking to get into American parliament. I'd like to see myself getting a fat pay raise. I'd like to see Australia classes as part of Asia for game releases. I'd like to see the OFLC institute an R rating for games. I would like to see a game that contained boobies not be a juvenile piece of shit. I could go on but I think you get the point.

What changes do I think we'll see in the near future? All I can see is a lot of smaller companies being eaten up by the big boys. With any luck the focus will be taken off games as the source of all the world's ills. Aside from that I don't think things are going to change too much.

Thanks very much Daniel.

by: Hillelman

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More articles by Hillelman

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ToonlogoBy Borgieman

Manifest '07 Report

Ninja's note: Once again, it's time for another Buttonhole report on the Melbourne Anime Festival, otherwise known as Manifest 2007. If you missed Ichibod's feature on a previous Manifest, check it out here. This Manifest coverage comes to you courtesy of forum regular and newest Buttonhole contributor Borgieman, a cool guy who knows his Anime and has been known to play a video game or two. So read on true believers! A Day at Manifest 2007

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ToonlogoBy Australian Ninja

Only Yesterday. Anime Review

The problem with having favourite films is that every time I watch another Studio Ghibli film it becomes my new favourite. It kind of renders the word 'favourite' meaningless when every Studio Ghibli film takes my breath away. Still, I can't complain about being thoroughly entertained by this whimsical and insightful film, "Only Yesterday". This gem was directed by Isao Takahata, well known for his anime film Grave of the Fireflies. Although Only Yesterday is a light hearted film that ambles along at a leisurely pace, it still manages to explore themes such as love, work, family relationship struggles, following your dreams and country versus city living. In the film, the main character Taeko decides to take a working vacation in the country, getting away from her office bound job and unexpectedly starts t

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ToonlogoBy Jason

Speed Grapher V1. Anime Review

Well, "I don't like it" was my initial feeling when viewing this Anime for the first time. Subsequent viewings haven't changed my views a great deal. Nothing really stands out as being absolute shit but it seems that this series tries too hard. It's almost like they were more interested in creating something 'edgy' and confronting but sadly forgot to include an even remotely palatable story. The hero of this particular piece is a bloke called Tatsumi Saiga. Tatsumi is a photographer and a veteran war journalist for whom taking photos has become somewhat of a fetish. Although he seems to have become jaded - nothing is worth wasting his film on - that is, at least until he stumbles across an exclusive club for the mega rich

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