Author Archives: lewispackwood

About lewispackwood

The first game that Lewis ever played was "Horace Goes Skiing" on the ZX Spectrum. Yes, he's that old.

I finally got a PS4

Finally, more than two years after its launch, I’ve bought a PS4. Hurrah!

After blitzing my way through my backlog and selling a ton of games, I had the cash to hand. I spotted a sweet deal – a 500GB PS4 with No Man’s Sky, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Force Awakens Blu-ray and and extra controller for £269 – and I decided to treat myself for my birthday (which was last weekend). Hello current console generation, I’m here!


Now, in some ways this is probably the worst time to buy a PS4 – on Wednesday Sony is going to officially announce the much-leaked PS4 Slim and PS4 Neo, so prices for first-gen PS4s are likely to plummet. But in the end I decided that prices probably won’t drop much lower than the deal I got. And anyway, I’ve waited so damn long that I JUST CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER.

Also, it was my birthday, and I was determined that my treat would be the chance to go and explore undiscovered planets. It was either that or go-karting.

Speaking of No Man’s Sky, I’m having an absolute blast with it so far – I’m currently in the Led Zeppelin II galaxy and I’ve just had my first encounter with space pirates. Which didn’t go too well. Better shields is the next thing on my shopping list…

I’ll post more thoughts on the game later, but safe to say I’m having a whale of a time. My strategy is currently to ping about between the first couple of star systems in order to max out my ship, a bit like this guy who spent 30 hours on the first planet. Even on a single planet, there’s just so much to see – I keep telling myself “I’ll just see what’s over this ridge”, and before I know it hours have passed, along with countless ridges. I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but for the time being I’m in spacehog’s heaven.


Filed under Editorial

Spiffing Reads: Bass Fishing, Mario in the Arcade and Video-Game Vents

This week on Spiffing Reads, we start with a look back at when running a games magazine basically meant dicking about.

bass fishing

When bass fishing features go wrong: a cautionary tale (Eurogamer)

I used to be an avid games magazine reader. But like most gamers, I now rely on the internet for most gaming news and reviews (I still have a subscription to the excellent Retro Gamer though). Still, I miss the times when magazines ran ridiculous features with only a tenuous link to the games they were meant to be covering, like when Amiga Power hired a BB gatling gun for a feature on DOOM clones. And then there’s this classic tale of an ill-advised sea fishing trip in tentative relation to a certain Sega game.


The helplessness of Clock Tower (Kotaku UK)

I’ve never played the SNES game Clock Tower, but after reading this I’m inspired to give it a go. It sounds wonderfully macabre and quite unlike anything else from that era – an RPG where your only option is to run away.


What happened to gaming’s Waterworld? (Eurogamer)

I remember reading a feature about APB in Edge magazine many years ago, and thinking that it sounded like an amazing concept. It’s heartbreaking to read how the game struggled through years and years of development, never quite finding its feet, and eventually causing the closure of Realtime Worlds. Sad to think it was only live for three short months – a real kick in the teeth for all the people who worked on it, and a reminder that today’s online games necessarily leave little to no legacy when servers shut down.



Another story of a games studio struggling through difficult times, but this one has a happy ending. Australian studio Tantalus weathered the financial storms of 2007-09, and unlike many other Oz devs, survived to tell the tale. And I had no idea that an Australian studio ported both Mass Effect 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess to the Wii U! Good work, people.


My New Thing Is Making Sculptures In No Man’s Sky (Rock Paper Shotgun)

Because why not? I like the idea of spending your entire time in No Man’s Sky just sculpting out a planet full of Barbara Hepworth style sculptures. Or you could just make a wonky Thwomp and the ghosts from Pac-Man, like this guy did.

super mario bros wii coin world

Feature: A Close Look at New Super Mario Bros. Wii Coin World (Nintendo Life)

I had no idea this existed. In 2011, Nintendo teamed up with Capcom to produce a four-player arcade game that’s part slot machine, part mini-game-a-thon. Weird.


Deus Ex Gets Air Vents All Wrong, According To An Architect (Kotaku UK)

I love it when people get disproportionately serious about games. I’m also a big fan of deep dives into mundane topics. So this article is like manna from heaven – and I learned a thing or two about the practicalities of civilian architecture to boot.


Asperger’s, Obsession and Quitting No Man’s Sky (Let’s Play Video Games)

This was actually written a couple of weeks back, but I only just stumbled across it, so I thought I’d include it here. A touching tale of when otherwise satisfying gameplay loops go wrong.

Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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A few thoughts on today’s Nintendo Direct

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from today’s Nintendo Direct, seeing as Nintendo have said they won’t be revealing the NX just yet, even though it’s supposedly imminent. So what would they be showing then? Surely the pipes for the 3DS and Wii U must be a little dry right now as development swaps to the NX? Well, yes and no. There was nothing to really set the world alight in the presentation, but a few things made me sit up and notice, and even perhaps let out the odd ‘ooooooh’.

  • The reveal that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is out to download RIGHT NOW from the Wii U virtual console only served to make me chastise myself for the fact that I still haven’t gotten around to playing this game, DESPITE OWNING IT SINCE LAUNCH. I am mentally moving it up in the ‘to play’ order in my head as I write this.
  • zelda amiibosThose Zelda 30th anniversary amiibos were a nice surprise, and yet more fuel for my amiibo addition. To be honest, none is as cool as the Wolf Link amiibo that came out a little while back, not to mention the stonkingly brilliant Breath of the Wild amiibos that are on their way, but Ocarina Link is pretty cool. Look at him there, all wistful.
  • crrmmkewiae0w1bjpg-2c51a9_765wSpeaking of amiibos, the Poochy amiibo is just taking cuteness to the next level. I’m tempted to get it just to sit next to Yarn Yoshi on my shelf, even though I wasn’t too fussed about Yoshi’s Woolly World as a game.
  • Oooooh, another StreetPass Mii Plaza update! So now you can have 100 Miis in your plaza instead of just 10? And you can opt to skip most of the dialogue? And there are five new games that have been designed to be played in extremely short bursts? It’s like they read my mental tick list of all the things I wanted them to do to improve this. OK, the 3DS is going back into my bag, we’re-a-going Mii hunting.
  • 20160901_084223Ever Oasis is without doubt my highlight of the presentation. It’s from Grezzo, who did the wonderful 3DS conversion of Majora’s Mask, and Koichi Ishii, creator of the Mana series, is behind it. I love the idea of expanding your desert oasis and attracting more people to live there – building up bases and getting people to live in them was one of my highlights of Xenoblade Chronicles.
  • Now this was a surprise – a 2D Pikmin game for the 3DS. Looks kind of interesting, but I can’t help feel it might simplify the gameplay a little too much. And now it’s billed as an ‘action game’ rather than the puzzle/resource gathering game of old. Hmmm. I’m all for more Pikmin games, as I loved the first three, but I’m currently not sold on its reinvention as a 2D platformer thing. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out…
  • I’m looking forward to the rerelease of Dragon Quest VII – I’ve never played a Dragon Quest game, and I reckon it’s about damn time I tried one. I remember when Dragon Quest VIII was released when I was living in Japan, and pretty much the whole country stopped just to play that game. Happily, that’s coming to the 3DS as well in 2017 – nice to know there’s another one lined up if I enjoy number seven.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit Justice is obviously a must buy when it’s released on 8th September. Shame they seem to have skipped out on releasing the Sherlock Holmes one in the west though.
  • WiiUDS_JotunValhallaEdition_03_image912wOut of all the indie games in the line-up, the one that stood out by a country mile was Jotun: Valhalla Edition. The hand-drawn graphics look amazing. Apparently it came out for PC last year, but this is the first time I’ve heard of it. I’ve no idea whether it’s any good or not, but I’m tempted to buy it for the graphics alone.

So, despite no news of the NX, it turns out there’s plenty of upcoming Nintendo games that I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on – not to mention some tasty-looking amiibos. So much for whittling down the backlog.

Anyway, here’s the whole presentation if you want to give it a watch:


Filed under Opinions and Hearsay

J.B. Harold: the multi-million selling series you’ve never heard of

A while back, I was curious as to which games have sold the most overall, so I found myself browsing through a list of the best-selling titles of all time. It included the usual suspects – Super Mario, Call of Duty, etc. – but one name jumped out at me: J.B. Harold.


I’d never heard of the J.B. Harold series of adventure games before, despite the fact that they’ve supposedly sold 20 million copies. But it’s hardly surprising that I’ve never heard of them, as the games never made it to Europe, despite their popularity in Japan and their western setting. The first game has been ported to everything from the Turbografx-CD to the Nintendo DS to the iPhone, yet it still hasn’t been released in my home country.

I wrote about the series for Kotaku UK, and it was particularly interesting to join up the connections between this game and Dragon Quest, Hideo Kojima and Level-5. You can read the article by clicking the link below:

The 20-Million-Selling Game Series You’ve Never Heard Of


Filed under Pulp

Spiffing Reads: Lemmy’s legacy, Atari box art and why they say games rot your brain

This week on Spiffing Reads we start off with that old bone of contention – mainstream press railing on about how games rot your brain.

doom skeleton

Why Mainstream Reporting on Video Games is Still Often So Negative (Kotaku UK)

A brutal but enlightening look at why games still get bad coverage in the mainstream press. Short answer: negative stories get more hits, and most mainstream journalists still don’t understand video games.


I Played No Man’s Sky With an Astronomer to Separate its Science Fiction from Facts (Kotaku UK)

I did an article for Kotaku UK a while back where I compared No Man’s Sky to the actual universe, but having an actual astronomer talk through the game is fascinating, and well worth a read. I love the fact that ‘Lemmium’ in the game references the real-life efforts to have an element named after Motorhead’s Lemmy.


No Man’s Sky is the new Destiny (Polygon)

This article makes the excellent point that often the game we see at launch bears little resemblance to the game we end up with perhaps a year down the line, thanks to transformative updates. It reminds me of something I wrote a while back about how the head says it makes sense to wait and buy games many months after launch, when the problems have been fixed and they’re cheaper – but the heart just wants to jump in to the bubble of excitement around launch day.


The ‘handsome weeping boys’ paid to wipe away your tears (BBC News)

OK, I admit, this has nothing to do with video games, but it’s fascinating. A company is trying to bring Japanese office workers closer together by making them cry while a ‘handsome weeping boy’ dries their tears. Gimmicky, yes, but it also gives an insight into the formality of Japanese office culture.

super breakout

Ten times the Atari VCS promised too much (Digitiser 2000)

I love this article. It reminds me of times spent gazing at the fantastic artwork of games like Centipede, and trying to transpose the blocky graphics into something resembling the box art in my head while playing.

Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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Maybe the new Prey does have a sense of humour after all

A while back I wrote about my worries that the new version of Prey from Arkane Studios and Bethesda might be lacking the anarchic sense of humour that made the original so memorable. Well, maybe I shouldn’t have worried after all.

As revealed in a new Gamescom trailer, the new game lets you turn into a coffee cup. Good work, everyone. 

See that mug? That’s you, that is.

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Spiffing Reads: Rubbish Game Logos, Proto-No Man’s Sky and Japanese Faxes

This week on Spiffing Reads, we kick off with a look at how magic in video games is in need of a radical overhaul.

elemental magic

Putting the magic back into magic in fantasy games (Eurogamer)

It amazes me just how influential the ideas of Tolkien are in the modern age. We still have countless video-game dungeon adventures with elves, orcs and familiar magic spells, like fireballs. But as this article shows, various novels have very different ideas about how magic can be represented, and video games could well learn from them. China Mieville, for example, imagines a much grittier form of magic powered by fossil fuel. And another example (which isn’t discussed in this article) is the representation of magic in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (Amazon link), where performing spells actually rots your brain.


Modern Game Logos Are Rubbish (Digitiser 2000)

A cracking article that compares modern logos for games like The Last of Us and Battlefield with logos of old. Gosh darn it, modern logos are bland aren’t they? Most seem to be some sort of minor variation on the Impact font, probably in some misguided attempt to appear ‘grown-up’ and appeal to everyone. But they just end up being forgettable.


Playlist: The games that shaped No Man’s Sky (Eurogamer)

I was well aware of the debt that No Man’s Sky owes to Elite, but there are several space-exploration titles here that I’d never even heard of before. Captain Blood from 1988 sounds especially interesting.

japanese fax machine

It’s 2016 and I’m Buying a New Japanese Fax Machine (Kotaku UK)

When I lived in Japan, I distinctly remember having to fax someone to get tickets for an event. Bizarrely, faxes are still prominent in the country, as this great article expounds on. I also remember that in 2004, all the kids I taught had minidisc players rather than mP3 players, you could still buy VHS players and cassette walkmans in department stores, and practically no one used debit cards – everything was done in cash. Even buying stuff on Amazon involved posting off cash or postal orders as I recall. Japan – incredibly advanced and staunchly traditional, all at the same time.


Cognitive Dissonance and Contradictory Beliefs in the “Dead Space” Series (Philosophy and Video Games)

The first Dead Space game was so bloody good, wasn’t it? And Isaac’s ongoing visions of Nicole were one of the very best things about it.

Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.

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