So I decided to write about my plan this Christmas. Starting November 27th (coincidentally US Thanksgiving, though I’m not in America) I’ve decided I want to watch as many Christmas movies as possible between now and the big day. Ratings are out of snowmen, and the movie is being rated as a CHRISTMAS movie, NOT as a movie in general. So without further ado:

Movie #1: Holly’s Holiday

An overworked executive falls for a store mannequin. Yes it sounds like a Mannequin rip off, except she never realizes that he’s a mannequin. It’s predictable, but doesn’t hammer you to death with Christmas.  Stars the lovely Claire Coffee who is currently best known as Adalind on Grimm. She’s not as lovely in that because she’s an evil Hexenbeast. It was great to see her star in something and not be evil. She’s lovely, the movie is predictably cute, and I can think of a worse way of spending 90 minutes. Three out of five snowmen.

Movie #2: A Snow Globe Christmas

An overworked executive falls for a store… Oops, nope, an overworked TV exec who has a very Scrooge like quality get smacked in the head. Shenanigans ensue. Alica Witt stars, with Donald Faison (Turk from “Scrubs“). Very sweet movie. Way more Christmassy than Holly’s Holiday. What’s fun is I follow Alicia Witt on Twitter (“Ooot”) and she was tweeting pics and Vine’s from the set when she was shooting this. The fact I knew it was filmed in the summer tarnished it a bit as I see poor Alicia standing there in scarf and wooly hat… Really loved the movie. Has a nice twist. Four out of five snowmen.

Movie #3: Santa’s Slay

A change of pace to a more adult movie. Everyone always mentions Bad Santa as a good adult Christmas movie, but it’s not that funny, and it’s pretty dark. This is actually a fun Christmas movie. With possibly the best opening in cinematic history, former wrestler Bill Goldberg plays Santa. Only in this universe Santa is an Icelandic demon who lost a bet to an angel, and for a thousand years had to be nice, deliver toys, and basically be the Coca Cola Santa we all know these days. Well the thousand years are up, and Santa is back in all his demonic glory. The movie is very funny, has some great cameos, all put there to be killed in amusing ways, and then there’s Goldberg himself. I was a big fan of him in his wrestling days, and he’s absolutely superb as demonic Santa. HIGHLY recommended. Also of note it was filmed just a few miles away from me. Definite five out of five snowmen.

Movie #4: A Cookie Cutter Christmas

Hateful rival girls grow up to be hateful rival women. In the first ten minutes it’s hard to cheer for anyone as the two lead characters suck. As the movie progresses though things improve. It’s about two rival schoolteachers competing in a cookie baking contest. Usual shenanigans ensue. It’s not SUPER Christmassy. Perhaps the highlight is Alan Thicke (father of misogynist piece of crap Robin Thicke, and also the father in Growing Pains whose son was another piece of crap, Kirk Cameron) who was basically paid to eat cookies in this movie. Nice work if you can get it. Two snowmen out of five.

Movie #5: Mrs Miracle

Last year the wife and I watched a Christmas movie called Call Me Mrs Miracle (or apparently Miracle in Manhattan is its alternate title.) It stars Doris Roberts are Mrs Merkel. A Mary Poppins-ish character who shows up like Sam Beckett and fixes everything. Doris absolutely superb and brings a warmth that I can think of few other actresses bringing. It’s typical holiday fare, and has JAMES VAN DER BEEK in it, who is a bit of a twat and won’t tell his twin six year old boys anything about their dead mother. There’s also love etc… It’s predictable, but Doris is just so damn lovable it elevates te movie. Four snowmen out of five.

Movie #6: Christmas Angel

(Review to come. WordPress ate the original.) Five out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #7: Window Wonderland

I wrote a long glowing review of this movie. And WordPress bloody ate it. So I won’t rewrite it. Suffice to say the leads are awesome, the movie avoids a lot of the usual Christmas cliches, and it’s the best one I’ve seen so far over this little project. SIX out of a Five Snowmen. Yes. It was that fun.

Movie #8: Christmas Town

Stereotypical hard ass Christmas hater hates Christmas. Gets convinced to take her son and stay in this weird town called Hollyville that appears on no map and seems oddly Christmassy… Lazily made movie. No attempt made to hide the fact that it’s filmed at Burnaby Lake in BC. Can clear see “Burnaby Lake General Store” in one shot. Very poor. Also clearly shot in the middle of summer. It’s supposed to be Christmas. No sign the usual Christmas tropes like snow etc… Nope, clearly it’s the middle of summer. What a piece of crap. Words cannot express how terrible this movie is. I couldn’t even finish it. Zero out of Five Snowmen as they all melted due to it clearly being summer.

Movie #9: On Strike For Christmas

Bunch of angry wives go on strike when their deadbeat sons and husbands do bugger all at Christmas. Hilarity briefly ensues. Three Snowmen out of Five.

Movie #10: His and Hers Christmas

Rival newspaper columnists document the holidays, fall in love, the end. The sets for their houses are awful as the view from the windows is clearly added in post. Very rough. Also a terrible movie. Also for a supposedly family friendly Christmas movie there’s lot of sexual references. Also almost nothing Christmas related in the first hour. Utter crap. Zero out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #11: Pete’s Christmas

A teenage boy has to relive an awful Christmas over and over until he gets it right. Immediately scored massive points with more Christmas in the first five seconds than movie #10 had in the first hour! Really fun movie. With a teenage lead it really hung on him being likeable, being able to act etc… No worries at all there. Very good movie. Bruce Dern is the kids grandfather, and is also awesome. As is the teen female lead. Great twist on the Groundhog Day plot device. If anything it has more depth than the original movie! Really enjoyed it. Five out of Five Snowmen.

Movie #12: Christmas Mail

A postal worker is assigned to spy on a strange woman who is replying to letters mailed to Santa. Sweet, predictable, and not bad. Three out of a Five Snowmen.

Movie #13: National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

A classic. Probably my favourite Christmas movie. TOO MANY SNOWMEN.

Movie #14: Naughty or Nice

A woman named Krissy Kringle accidentally receives Santa’s Naughty and Nice list. Hilarity ensues. Very cute movie. Really liked it. Worth seeing for the parents from Family Ties being he leads parents. Really good movie. Only caught it because my wife saw it listed and thought it sounded good. It got past my Christmas movie radar. Five out of Five Snowmen.

I’m back apparently…

November 28, 2014

It’s been a while. I miss writing. Time to shine.

Things will get silly if I link to every part at the start, so if you’re new, check the tags, and start with the intro.

So in part two things went wrong quite a bit. Lost my entire squad. How was I to know the bridge was going to blow? I reloaded my save. I’ve decided I am not doing that in future. From now I will play the game as the developer intended.

The reason the next part has been so delayed is the way I’m doing this is a pain. For technical reasons I won’t bore you with, saving the game is slow and unstable. I’m basically playing a bit, swapping back to the window to write it up, back to the game etc… In short to get about five minutes into the game takes about an hour of actual time to write stuff, edit screenshots etc… So I’m trying to figure out how to up my productivity.

I DID debate getting back to where I was in another version of the game so I could avoid said technical issues, but sadly given I HAD lost a squad member, it would be hard to get to that point in the exact same circumstance, so I’m stuck with the rod I made for my back. Lesson learned for a future Let’s Play…

So we’re on Mission 4, stage 3 now. Village People! We made it through the pier level. Just didn’t stand on them this time.

As you can see we have Jops, Stoo, RJ, Ubik and CJ in the squad. As you wander round this level, a nasty new element is introduced. Holes. In the ground. That enemies come out of. If you don’t know this is coming it can be very dangerous as your squad will get sneak attacked and you’ll die. Fortunately I remembered and lobbed a grenade or three down said hole to neutralize it. My colourblindness is causing me issues here as the troops blend in to the scenery more than they would for a normal person, so the difficulty bar is raised for me as often I can’t see the enemy until it’s far too late.

 

So far so good. Explodey thing chucked down that hole means no more baddun’s spewing forth from it. Hurrah! We slowly work out way down the map until we find a group of four huts. A grenade is lobbed. Disaster! The ensuing explosion kills two of the men. NO! Worse is yet to come while, in the confusion, TWO MORE DIE! In mere seconds we’ve gone from the above, to this.

We’ve lost all but CJ in the fire fight! A lone wolf against the odds. Further into the level something happens. I’m not entirely sure what, but there’s a big explosion and CJ is no more. My entire squad is dead. Shazbot! It’s hard to be upset. As the saying goes, “The death of one is a tragedy. The death of millions just a statistic”. Losing the entire squad is a hit, but unlike when we lost Jools, even though I lost Jops, my leader, this time, he’s not the first, and he won’t be the last to die.

The level reloads, with a bunch of newbies ready to die for the cause. Chris, Pete, Tadger, Hector and Elroy. All newbies. All green as a nine day old egg sandwich. I decide to change strategy here. I’m going to split the squad, and take two off on their own. Then if they die horribly I’ll take another two, and if they die, one to lone wolf the rest of it. We’ll see how it goes. First up, Chris and Pete get to go on an adventure together. Almost immediately Pete dies on a bloody grenade. This is going well…

Until next time…

 

 

 

The introduction is here. Part 1 is here.

So where were we?

Ah, yes. Off to the land of the ice and the snow from the midnight sun where the hot springs flow. Once more our mission is KILL ALL THE THINGS! And BLOW UP ALL THE OTHER THINGS! So with our mittens in our pockets, we bundle into the chopper and head for colder climes.

Friends are waiting immediately. In blue. On a white background. I CAN SEE YOU! TIME TO DIE! Amusingly they stand there, firing at me, their shots falling ludicrously short. I chortle a little. If I recall you can fall off the cliffs. It’s a quick way to get down, but I’m going to go the long way, lest it incapacitates me for any amount of time, giving the Blue Man Group a chance to shoot my spleen off. Once more we seem to have a GARDEN SHED OF CERTAIN REGENERATING DEATH! Only this time no obvious means of blowing it up. I believe FLYING PINEAPPLES OF LETHALITY, AKA grenades, will be found somewhere on this level. Either that or a nice big hammer.

Things turn ugly quickly. As we run along, slipping on the ice (seriously, you fall over), blue bastards pile in from all sides. We’re trying to get to a stash of grenades. You can see the tip of the shed to the right. The problem? Blue Man Group is pouring out of said shed. If I shoot them I stand a very real chance of blowing up my grenades. Worse, blowing myself up in the process. Oh the humanity!

We dash for the shed. A soldier runs out. We somehow lure him away and shoot him and grab the grenades. Two more soldiers appear. We fire…

NO! The grenade pile blows up. It takes the shed out, but poor Sergeant Jools is caught in the ensuing explosion! Bugger! A brief second to mourn is granted, then we must carry on with the mission. We run down to the south east corner to another shed. On the way another grenade is accidentally thrown. We have three left, with three sheds left to blow. Dodgy! Fortunately when we reach the southeast shed, there’s another handy box of exploding pineapples. The shed and the soldiers it dispensed are swiftly destroyed. Another brief second is spent mourning Sergeant Jools as we return past the scene of his tragic demise. This is no longer just a mission. This isn’t about justice. This is punishment.

A tidal wave of blue pours toward us as we rain hot lead upon them. Sergeant Jools will not have died in vain! We push on, more and more members of Blue Man Group trying to kill us, but we are victorious. As the last shed explodes in fire we run away quickly to avoid the falling roof. The mission is complete. We dance jubilantly in the snow.

And now, a moment of silence for our fallen hero. May he rest in peace.

The first gravestone appears on the hill as more conscripts arrive to join the line. Sergeant Jools took 17 enemies straight to Hell with him.

Staff Sergeant Jops, Sergeant Stoo, and Corporals RJ and Ubik toast their fallen friend before heading off for another mission.

From the snowy lands back to Vietnam. This phase is called Beachy Head, and it’s one of FOUR! YIKES! It’s BLOW UP ALL THE THINGS rather than KILL this time. The game informs me I have 55 recruits left. Hopefully that will be enough. Once more into the jungle my friends…

We start in the middle of the map, and look, a river… With no bridge. Oh dear. I figure for a strategy we’ll head east and around the little river inlet, work our way around, then cross the river at the top. This is going to be a tense one! We soon discover that a new terrain feature has been added. Swamp. It does exactly what you think it does. Slows you down badly. Through the forest we can see our enemy staring at us. Apparently the forests are immune to bullets, though we give it our best shot. We get to the first shed in the southeast corner and find a handy box of grenades. You’d think the enemy wouldn’t leave this just casually laying around. Their stupidity is our gain, however. Scratch one shed! No casualties so far. On our side at least.

Shed two is down. This time with a flying door. The tactic is to lob the grenade and RUN AWAY VERY FAST. The door goes whizzing past us but fails to hit any of us. What an ignominious fate, being killed by a flying door!

Now we have to cross the river. From the look of the map, and it’s such a blob it’s hard to tell, I think the shed is bottom left. However I am sticking to my plan of crossing to the north. I could break the squad into two but for the sake of speed I won’t, and just hope nothing is waiting to say hello with a high velocity piece of lead.

A bit of a panic ensues when, as we enter the water, we see an enemy swimming toward the other shore. This would mean he’d get there first, and have plenty of time to gun us all down in the water. A hasty retreat back to shore sees us there to greet him with the greeting he planned for us. Let’s try this again. We swim out. As we get just half way, an enemy comes running at us. Oh crap! The range is closing and it’s looking bad. Sergeant Jops leaps into action and fires as he emerges dripping wet from the water, saving the rest of the platoon from a lead filled watery doom. As we regroup on the shore, a soldier near a clump trees is halfheartedly firing at us. A grenade is thrown in his direction. He is soon dispatched.

Another conveniently placed batch of grenades are acquired and another shed joins the great garden center in the sky. I had somehow missed this one on the map. I thought three was a bit of an odd number. (Oh dear…) One shed to go, when suddenly an enemy appears out of seemingly thin air and starts blasting. Only quick reactions save the squad.

With soldiers closing in, a final grenade is lobbed at the remaining shed and VOILA! This phase is complete. The remaining enemy soldiers somehow lose the ability to use guns at this point, despite the fact we’re distracted, jumping up and down and clearly not paying attention. The phase two briefing, Pier Pressure: Kill everything that moves. Blow up everything that doesn’t. Righty ho then.

CRAP ON A CRACKER! The phase starts with multiple soldiers heading toward you. (The screenshot is from a few seconds in with a few dead as I was too busy trying not to die to hit the screen capture button.) The forces are wiped out and more start pouring over the water as we run east. I click to go on the pier but, the path finding being what it is, my squad run into the water… I click to get them out and then I run down the right pier, picking off enemy in the water as I go. “Surely it can’t be this simple, can it?” I think. I shoot the enemy soldiers heading for me, safe in the knowledge they can’t actually hurt me, and I hurl a grenade at the shed.


That went badly wrong. The shed exploded, sending debris flying over to the pier, which blew up, taking my entire squad with it. Bugger, bugger and thrice bugger. This is where we reach the dilemma. In an ideal world I’d play as the game was designed two decades ago. However the point of this is to get to the end and write as I play. Re-doing everything above seems sort of redundant as I’ve already written about it, so I will load the most recent save state and play to this point.

Only this time I won’t blow the pier up with my squad standing on it…

So here we go. Cannon Fodder. If you’ve not read the intro, perhaps you should.

It’s been a very long time since I played more than the opening two missions of this. I remember My Beautiful Skidoo and one thing you have to do (jump a river) and… Well that’s the extent of my memory. First, the ground rules for this play through:

1) Due to the fact I’m doing this in an emulator, I will be using save states rather than the game’s actual save feature. This is because Cannon Fodder used its own custom disk format for saving, and I remember fighting years ago to try and create a usable one. While I DID manage it then, I have no memory of HOW I did it. So rather than do that, I’ll just save the game state.

2) I may reload if it all goes wrong. I’m 41 years old and have four kids. I am not the good for nothing layabout I was back then with unlimited time and cigarettes. I’m now a good for nothing layabout ex-smoker with four kids, diabetes and a screwed up back. I’d really like to see the end of the game, and I know that it gets VERY hard (though not as hard as the allegedly impossible Cannon Fodder 2). I will avail myself of the ability to make my life a little bit easier. However I won’t be abusing it every five seconds. (If only because it seems to take quite a long time to unfreeze the emulator and I’m a man of little patience).

3) War will never be so much fun.  Go up to your brother, kill him with your gun, leave him lying in his uniform dying in the Sun. (The theme song from the intro, in case you didn’t watch the video on the intro piece.)

So the game is fired up, sitting on the hill. The Robinson’s are all tucked in, we are ready to fly!

Let’s get initiated boys!

I’m sorry, I don’t understand this mission briefing. It’s confusingly complicated! Not to mention grammatically inadequate! Should there not be a the in there to make it more aesthetically pleasing? Anyway, mission 1… KILL ALL THE THINGS!

The 13 recruits remaining is misleading as immediately on completion of this mission a bunch more meat puppets join the line by the hill and are fed into the war machine, with Stoo being added to Jools and Jops from the first mission for our second foray. The latter two were Heroes in Victory after the last mission, and therefore are promoted in rank. As far as I’m aware this has zero effect on the game beyond making it all the sadder when they inevitably die. (Though I think they’re supposedly more accurate etc…)

Mission 2. Love the Leslie Thomas reference. My Dad’s favourite author coincidentally. Now, let’s see what the mission briefing says. KILL ALL THE THINGS… AGAIN! Don’t worry. It does get more interesting after this. No sense posting more briefing screens, unless it’s something interesting and creative. And to be quite honest I can’t remember if that’s ever the case. I note the small print at the top. Phase 1 of 2. Yep, no more single missions.

Here’s the start of the mission. At the top of the screen there’s already a bastard incoming. He is swiftly dispatched as he can’t return fire. This highlights the fact that WATER IS NOT YOUR FRIEND! You enter water, you can’t fire. Your options are either split your group and leave one standing guard on shore or, if you have as cavalier a regard for their safety as I do, send them all in, and pray there isn’t a charlie nearby to shoot them in the face. It’s also best to check the map to see where is a good place to cross.

Well would you look at that. A bridge! In a level titled Bridge over the River Pie! I think I’ve figured out the clue in the title!!! The red X is where we are right now. So a standard sweep and clear. I figure we’ll skirt the shore to the bridge, then up and around anti-clockwise until everyone is dead. Hopefully them. Not me.

Immediately upon striking out for the bridge we’re jumped by the enemy. A tense firefight ensues. Fortunately our beloved heroes, including newcomer Stoo, survive the onslaught. We continue around until all the enemy are no more. One thing I have noticed: The path finding is HORRENDOUS! You have to micromanage the exact path you want them to take with constant clicks, or they’ll get stuck in the bushes, behind trees etc… Slightly frustrating. There’s also no logic. If you click and there’s a few pixels of water, they’ll walk through it rather than around it. This of course leads us to the earlier mentioned issue of not being able to fire while traversing water. In short, your soldiers are as dumb as a box of hair, the lovable little scamps.

We sweep around nicely. There are a couple of dodgy moments where, due to my colour blindness, I wind up having trouble distinguishing bad guys from bushes. No I am not joking. However all is well, and our 3 heroes survive phase 1 of the mission. Huzzah! There is much jubilation and jumping and celebrating, since the one thing you want to do in a war is jump up and down and draw attention to yourself.

Phase 2 is not KILL ALL THE THINGS… YET AGAIN! Well, it IS, but there’s an added wrinkle. We now have to destroy all enemy buildings as well. I remember this level well. In arguably the funniest death in the history of gaming, I got all the way here and blew the house up in a prior attempt, only for the roof to land on Jops, killing him. No such fate will befall our heroes here. I will not allow it. I fully expect this statement to bite me hard in a few minutes…

The level doesn’t mess about and throws you straight in the middle of the action with two enemy bearing down on you immediately. A swift burst of fire and they’re dead. Now the tension builds as we slowly work our way around the map, down to the bottom right corner to take out the enemies shed so they can no longer do their gardening. TAKE THAT, NAMELESS ENEMY I DON’T KNOW WHY I’M KILLING! (A prophetic meta-comment on the futility of war perhaps?)

So we start top right and merrily wend our way down. Had we had the forethought to bring some chainsaws, we could cut out a large chunk of this and go straight for the shed.

This is a tense level. This is the first level where you start to feel concerned for your little men. It’s very easy to lose someone on this level as the game stops mucking about and starts upping the difficulty. This is where Jops, Jools and Stoo go from being little groups of pixels to living breathing recreations of men. A Band of Brothers if you will.

There are many, many ducks flying over. And what the hell is that skeleton at the top? A former soldier? A dead yeti? A foreshadowing? We shiver despite the humidity and move on… A few scattered forces fire at us but we survive. It seems almost cruel to shoot the ones swimming toward us, unable to fire, but then they’d do the same to us so SCREW THEM! Then, suddenly, something strange in the forest. We start blasting away only to discover it’s… An unusual looking tree. Very glad ammo is unlimited in this.

Further around there is something in the water (pictured left, bottom right). Just what the hell IS that thing?! Being all low resolution as it is it looks like Swamp Thing had sex with an octopus and that was the offspring. Can it eat me if I go near it? I decided it’s best not to find out. And again with the ducks everywhere! This is quackers!

The Management would like to apologize for the quality of the last joke. Those responsible have been shot.

The water in that picture is traversed as quickly as possible to avoid being vulnerable. No attempt to eat us was made by Swamp Thing’s octopus love child.

We duck (HAHA!) and dive around until we reach the GARDEN SHED OF CERTAIN REGENERATING DEATH!

You see that shed? It constantly spawns enemies. I also remembered the fact that when you hit the fuel dump next door to it, shed go boom, door go flying. Where? Right in the little gap at the bottom where you’d inevitably be standing. I remember finding this out the hard way. I move up and around and blow the fuel dump. The roof goes up and for a couple of seconds things look like Jools, Jops and Stoo will be taking an early bath, but then mercifully lands up in the forest. The first horror of war occurs. You can just see it below the upper fuel dump, to the right of the forest. This enemy wasn’t killed. He lay there, bleeding and moaning. Meaning you have to shoot him again. For a second I think I’ve missed something elsewhere. Then I realise this poor dying enemy is the reason the mission isn’t complete. I sadly fire one last burst to end his pain. And the mission.

Two promotions to Sergeant, and one to Corporal. (If the poorly written text I happened upon via Google is to be believed.) Two missions in, no deaths. The current score is Home 50 – 0 Away. Some more recruits join the ever growing line of souls willing to die for whatever cause it is I’m fighting for/against. RJ now joins our existing heroes. I hope he packed his mittens!

Yes, we’re off to the snow and ice after the jungles of wherever the hell we just were. I am a sucker for snow levels in video games. Plus the snow contrasts nicely with the bad guys meaning my colour blindness won’t be such an issue. Huzzah!

How will the trip into the snow and ice go? Will our beloved heroes survive to go on a fourth mission? Will the introduction of grenades cause any tragic friendly fire incidents? All this and more will be answered next time on Cannon Fodder Revisited!

It’s been a very long time since I played Cannon Fodder. Probably early 1995 was the last time I played it in anger. Then I betrayed my beloved Amiga and went to the PC, lured by the shiny vistas of Doom and that was that. I “sold” my Amiga to my mother. However as with most things I “sold” to her I don’t recall ever seeing any actual cash from the process. If you knew my mother, this would not come as a surprise.

Anyhow this is a post about the one decent parent I have, and how we bonded over the Amiga. While we have disparate tastes for the most part, with me spending days staring at the wonders of Championship Manager while people looked on confused as to why I was playing a spreadsheet, we did share a few interests on the game front.

When my Dad and I heard about Cannon Fodder we were quite excited. I was already a hardened fan of Sensible Software at this point. As a football fan, Sensible Soccer (and later Sensible World of Soccer) was a huge deal to my friends and I. My Dad however, wasn’t a fan. Cannon Fodder was his indoctrination into the mighty Sensible Software who, let’s face it, if you were an Amiga fan back in the day, were arguably one of the best developers for the platform.

Given the controversy that surrounds games these days, it’s quite quaint to look back and remember the fuss surrounding the game. You see the Royal British Legion use a poppy for their symbol. Creating a war game with that as a symbol was considered an affront to all that was good and pure, and the papers had the temerity to complain about the decency of it all as a woman flaunted her breasts a few pages away, with the always rational Daily Star saying:

The poppy is a sacred reminder of the men and women who gave their lives in two world wars. How sickening to see it being abused to sell a savage computer game. The distributors say the poppy is there “to remind the customer that war is no joke.” That’s just publicity writer’s hypocrisy. Computer game designers compete to glorify war (emphasis added) and viciousness. How dare they use the poppy to turn truth on its head.

Make sure you don’t buy this shameful game.

The controversy was so great in fact that Sensible Software were forced to add this graphic at the very start of the game under the threat of legal action. You do not mess with the Royal British Legion. They fought in the war, you know!

You do not mess with the ROYAL BRITISH LEGION

The fact is, Cannon Fodder did not in any way glorify war. Quite the opposite in fact. You’re given little men to control. In a war. They carry through from mission to mission. You grow very attached. Sometimes when you kill an enemy, rather than just disappearing, they will lay there, dying. Crying out in pain. This was never a game that tried to glorify war. Given the atrocities we see carried out in games regularly today, it’s funny to think this was ever controversial. At E3 earlier this year every other game had vivid recreations of throats being slit and people being murdered with no attempt to relay any sort of emotional impact. You just glide from one atrocity to the next with the flick of the controller.

Playing Cannon Fodder was one of very few occasions where a game was so affecting it almost moved me to tears. You see I had Jops, one of the starting soldiers, still alive a fair few missions into the game. In fact I had lost NOBODY yet. Between missions, you sit on this screen to the right. At the top you have the score. Home and away. Away are the enemies. Home are your guys. A score is kept. Notice that hill in the picture to the right? Well you see aside from the stream of men at the bottom circling it who are your soldiers, (Limited numbers are added over the course of the game), crosses appear on the hill to commemorate those you have lost. As the game continues, the hill becomes an upsetting reminder of all those who gave their lives in the war. Yes, it’s a silly video game, yes the graphics are poor by today’s standards, but that hill slowly filling with crosses between missions was one of the most emotionally engaging visuals in all of video game history, and I have no doubt will continue to be so. It made you feel loss. It visualised the casualties for you, all those virtual lives lost. It showed you the cost. After a few missions, with me carefully keeping everyone alive… I lost Jops! I can still remember it. There was a fire fight. We got through it. I looked at the list of my soldiers. He was gone. Jops was gone. I didn’t even see it happen! I was shocked. I finished the level quite disheartened, and there it was. Jops‘ name scrolled up the “Lost in Service” screen. Such sadness evoked by a video game. Then the final hammer blow. A solitary white cross was now on the hill. I just sat there and stared at it. Jops‘ name now listed under “Heroes” on the top left.

If you call that glorifying war, I call you a liar.

With great enthusiasm my Dad and I waited for release day. Now back then, release days were fluid. There weren’t definite release days. With marketing and promotion nowhere near the business it is now, games just sort of magically appeared in shops when they were finished. Games were still pushed to market when they weren’t ready, but it was less of an issue. There was one decent local independent game store we supported which was about a 30 minute round trip away. This made just casually going there annoying just to find it wasn’t out (which we did once) so many, many phone calls were placed.

“Is it in yet?” “No!” The following day: “Is it in yet?” NO!” This went on for a while until one day, miraculously, it was! If I recall, it was a Friday that the shop finally got it in. I was a young petrol station employee, who worked weekends… However the timing was good as it was my weekend off meaning I would have ALL WEEKEND to soak in the marvel that was Cannon Fodder.

My Dad was buying the game though, meaning I would have to wait to play it, and as my mother had buggered off at this point, and my Dad and I were struggling to keep a roof over our heads, the extravagance of buying two copies was just not an option. So for that first little while I could watch my Dad until he took a break, and then I’d get to play for a bit, and that’s how it’d be until I got the cracked version off a mate a while later. (Intro screen pictured to the right.)

I remember grabbing the box from the shelf and handing it to my Dad, him paying for it and me holding it excitedly on the way home. Ah, those were simple days.

When we got home he unpacked the box, admired the shiny bullet keyring which as far as I’m aware my Dad still has. (Side note: I remember being rather disappointed that when I rushed to get Sensible World of Soccer in much the same fashion when it came out, that I didn’t get a little keyring or something too.) Then it was time to fire the game up, to be greeted by a song and intro sequence that would become the stuff of legend.

I can’t remember if my Dad ever completed the game. (I do remember he completed Syndicate,something I never managed.) I KNOW I didn’t. To this day whenever I hear the word Skidoo, I think of “My Beautiful Skidoo”, a level in the game that I remember trying to beat with my Dad and failing many, many times.

The Amiga was a great computer, so far ahead of the PC at the time and, in some ways, still is. There were many classic games, of which I may revisit many, many more on here as time goes on if the mood takes me. However for me, Cannon Fodder was THE game that defined the machine and the generation. When emulators first started appearing, it was the first game I grabbed hold of and played again. It wasn’t my favourite Amiga game, but it was the pinnacle of the platform in my opinion. It was such a unique game that hasn’t really ever been replicated. Not only that but it contains my favourite piece of game music of all time. In fact while writing this I’ve had the emulator running and playing that music for most of it. Rest in peace, Richard Joseph.

So, this is all leading to the fact that for a long time I’ve wanted to play Cannon Fodder again, properly. It took a Twitter friend saying “You should do that!” when I casually mentioned writing about the experience that I decided, in honour of my Dad and the great memories our time with this game gave me, I would play through it and document the experience. See if I can finish the game. (Not bloody likely I would imagine!)

Part 1 will be coming very soon. In fact this was SUPPOSED to be a short intro and then part 1 (since I’m already a couple of missions in), only it snowballed, like so many things I think will be brief, so I figure I’ll split it.

Let’s see if I can keep Jops alive for a while, for old times sake…

Did you know about the always online component? The fact that for a SINGLE PLAYER GAME you have to be connected to the Internet at all times? The fact that if a server goes down, you’ll lose all your progress since the last checkpoint, which are few and far between? Did you know this BEFORE you bought the game? Are you angry about the DRM? (Which let’s face it, despite what the Blizzard PR assholes said, it was all about.) Did you still go ahead and buy the game?

THEN YOU’RE A FUCKING MORON! Assholes like you are why PC gaming is increasingly ruined with DRM. Publishers know they can do it because despite all the whining, you’ll still buy their titles. Remember when games started coming with limited activations? You waved your fists and swore bloody murder, yet when a title you were interested in was released you stood there like Oliver saying “Please sir, may I have some more?” as they bent you over and reamed you. Took a little more of your rights away. The publishers know they can do this. They know you’re spineless and that for every 1000 people who claim they won’t buy a title, 999 of them will still buy it.

You can’t blame the pirates for any of this. YOU are to blame. YOU are the reason publishers will continue to do this, because you’re too much of a spineless asshole to take a stand and deny yourself something you wanted. No, gotta have Diablo 3… Why? Because IT’S NEW AND SHINY! You’re like fucking Magpies.

I didn’t get to play Diablo 2 when it came out. My system wasn’t good enough. When Diablo 3 was first touted I was really excited. I’d finally get a Diablo game ON RELEASE DAY. Then Blizzard announced that it would require you to always be online. Now my Internet connection is stable. There are many other issues that can screw you over however. If your router reboots while playing, goodbye progress, back to the last checkpoint you go. So many “What if’s?” And that’s just your end. As was evidenced on release day, and any gamer with an IQ in double figures should have known it was coming, Blizzard’s servers went down. They would not invest in enough servers for release day when, after the initial demand, usage will drop. No, far better to save some money and fuck the gullible sheep who bought the game. However, due to being tied to Battlenet, the outage took down World of Warcraft too! Just let that sink in for a second… The always online crippleware in Diablo 3 took down the worlds biggest MMORPG simply by virtue of being tied to the same service.

This was all predictable

You all saw this coming. You all knew, unless you never frequent any sort of gaming website, that Diablo 3 came with this component and the many flaws that would be involved in it. A component that meant you were beholden to Blizzard being able to keep servers up so you could play your SINGLE PLAYER GAME.

I’ve seen you piss and moan on message boards and forums and anywhere you can leave your asinine rhetoric about how upset you are, how horrible it is that a single player game has been saddled with the requirement to be always online, yet you STILL GAVE BLIZZARD YOUR MONEY WITH FULL ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE THAT THIS WAS THE CASE, that you’d be relying on a server you had no control over and which adds nothing at all to the single player experience.

Blizzard told you this was in the game months ago. You had plenty of time to think “No, this is unacceptable.” You berate Ubisoft for requiring you to be online. You complain about DRM on the PC and the increasingly harsh experience that PC gamers have to deal with just to play games. Yet as soon as Blizzard offered you a game whose single player was broken by design, with malice aforethought, you danced for them like the whores that you are.

Piracy isn’t ruining PC gaming. You are.

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