I don’t think anyone’s booted up Euro Truck Sim for the first time and not made a huge mistake that led to the infrastructure of a small shipping port shutting down. It turns out that the line between ‘everythings fine’ and ‘potential economic collapse’ is about 3 inches between a local’s car and a lorry driver with 30 minutes experience (most of which was spent not stopping fast enough for red lights and driving 56mph in a 30mph zone).
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It's been 12 years since the first Crackdown game hit the Xbox 360, and the third instalment in the series - after 5 years of development hell - is finally here.
But is it any good?
Lady Gaga’s ‘Joanne’ is an album I often revisit, and was one of my favourite albums of 2016. Yet, in 2019, I feel like it’s an album that really doesn’t seem to get the love I think it deserves. Why is that?Read More
Lets try something different! A new type of column with one BIG picture instead of lots of little words. This big picture is about Ace Combat 7, and how much fun I had crashing into the ground a lot. It’s more satisfying than Microsoft Flight Sim 98 for causing unnecessary damage to your aircraft, and maybe that’s what really matters.
Was that a review? Yeah, sure, why not?
You can find more of my comics by following me on twitter!
Oh dang! Ya boy Tom finally pulled his finger out and wrote a review.
This past Tuesday (29th Jan), I attended Monster Magnet’s lone UK date of their ‘Mindf****r’ tour at London’s Electric Brixton, a gig that in many ways was 12 years in the making. Their 2007 album ‘4-Way Diablo’ was one of the first albums I ever owned myself, rather than stealing from my dad’s CD collection or a compilation of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 soundtrack. Now, you’d be forgiven in thinking the 13 tracks that comprise ‘4-Way Diablo’, and indeed the wider Monster Magnet discography, are nothing more than self indulgent, over the top and derivative; but it was (and still is) for these reasons that I fell completely in love with the band. Yes, their leather-clad, rockstar schtick might be passé, but it’s entirely self aware and serves as a love letter to a bygone era of the genre. I’d never consider myself a stick in the mud, and I genuinely believe we live in one of the most exciting periods for alternative music in a good long while, but at a time where there’s a few too many ‘Oli Sykes’ types dominating headlines, it can’t hurt to have a few Dave Wyndorfs.
Personal exposition aside, how did the New Jersey natives perform on a wintery Tuesday in Brixton?
Opening the evening’s proceedings was local rock trio Puppy, a band I’ve been vociferously singing the praises of for the past couple of years. If you haven’t heard of Puppy yet, the only way I can describe their sound is Wheatus tossed in a blender with Iron Maiden, with a garnish of satanism for good measure. Trust me, they’re THAT good. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), their intro music - the Terminator 2 main theme - fails to play, resulting in a hilarious acapella cover by vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton instead. Technical mishaps aside, the band crack on with a blistering set that encompasses their burgeoning, yet impressive back catalogue, including a couple of tracks from their brand new album ‘The Goat’, released the previous week. Tracks such as The Great Beyond and Black Hole sound particularly huge, evoking both voluntary and involuntary head banging.
Whilst there’s not quite the usual standard to banter with the audience (I once saw Jock offer free merch in return for a ham sandwich), we’re instead treated to a jam-packed 40 minute set that never lets up, and it’s clear as the band walk off stage that they’ve definitely left an impression on the hometown crowd. If you’ve slept on Puppy up until now, I strongly encourage you give them a listen asap. 8/10
After a brief intermission, the lights fade and the mighty Monster Magnet take to the stage, and boy, they didn’t disappoint. Dave Wyndorf and co. might be getting up a bit in age (Wyndorf himself nearly eligible to claim a UK state pension), but you’d never notice it as they jump straight into Dopes To Infinity, with the eccentric frontman matching the energy of the crowd from the first note to the last. In fact, I’m fairly sure he only unclenched his outstretched fist to occasionally strum his guitar, being the band’s third guitarist (whether his was actually plugged in is a matter I’m still trying to figure out). Not giving anyone a moment to breath, the band continue straight into Rocket Freak off their latest album, demonstrating that their new tracks shred just as hard as their singles from the 90s.
From that point on, their set continues at a frenetic pace, with the band’s light show often mesmerising as much as the songs themselves (I sure hope nobody suffered from epilepsy). From the psychedelic journey that is Ego, The Living Planet to the iconic Space Lord, it’s impossible not to have a massive, stupid grin on your face, experiencing one of the last true ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ bands. The band return for a 3 track encore that culminates with an impassioned rendition of Powertrip, before sending everyone off happy into the snowy capital. 9/10
Monster Magnet might be as subtle as a sledgehammer, but honestly, what did you expect from a band whose latest album is titled ‘Mindf****r’? In fact, what did you expect from a band called Monster Magnet? What they do might not be to everyone’s taste, but damn do they do it well.
By Tom Baker
The curious case of an unexpected album release I see! Not only that, it is a cover album I hear! I hope they have covered songs that I know! Oh well might as well just put it on without seeing the tracklist and hope I can sing along. In all seriousness though, despite all my mixed feelings (spoiler) on the album, I would recommend putting this on and being surprised by what they play. So stop reading this and listen to it (or read on if you really want too).
It has only been in the last year that I’ve started listening to Weezer and classifying myself as “a fan”. I’ve always known of them of course, ‘Island in the Sun’ was used in every advertisement ever, ‘Buddy Holly’ was always playing on Kerrang!, ‘Beverly Hills’ whilst not the most creative song was seemingly everywhere at the time, and of course I grew up with the Guitar Hero & Rock Band games so I knew ‘My Name is Jonas’ inside and out. The point I am trying to make here is that when people speak about how their best ever work was Pinkerton or the Blue Album, I cannot join in as it is a painfully ignorant subject matter of mine, which might just paint my opinion of the Teal Album as a little different from the die hard fans.
The Teal Album by Weezer is such a strange album. I have spent a lot of time trying to describe my feelings but it has totally confused me. The tracks are not really that creative and there are more inspired covers by other bands but for the life of me I just cannot stop listening to this album. It is made up of some of the biggest pop songs that have been etched into pop culture over the years and because of this you’ll unexpectedly find yourself singing along even if you do not recognise the song at first. The track listing has been perfectly created to have the most perfect peaks and valleys of any album I’ve ever listened to and I think that is what makes it so damn replayable.
I believe the beauty of this album is listening to it start to finish, in this way you will you get the most out of it. However here is a quick tidbit on each song.
You start off with ‘Africa’ (originally by Toto) taking you through a nice stroll. Something we are all familiar with since they released it last year.
We then get ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’ (originally by Tears for Fears). Another 80’s classic that sounds similar in execution and you start to think that perhaps this album may be just a little one note.
‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ (originally by Eurythmics) plays and makes you aware that Weezer are not afraid of trying anything with the heavy synths and some high notes that you may question should not have been attempted by Rivers Cuomo.
‘Take on Me’ (originally by A-Ha) sounds so eerily similar to the original until the very last break. Here there are no instruments, just Rivers’ vocals enticing the goosebumps on your body.
‘Happy Together’ (originally by The Turtles) is the weakest song on the album. Of all the tracks ‘Happy Together’ sounds the most like a straight cover that they took from the band practice book and ultimately adds a lull in the middle of the album, just waiting to be picked back up by ‘Paranoid’.
‘Paranoid’ (originally by Black Sabbath) sees Weezer get heavy, so heavy in fact they employ their rhythm guitarist, Brian Bell, to sing this song. The heaviest track on the album and nothing comes close to matching the energy here either.
‘Mr. Blue Sky’ (originally by E.L.O) is so easy to sing along to it should be illegal. They were able capture the spirit of the original song here and get extra points for doing the outro too.
‘No Scrubs’ (originally by TLC) is the most surprising of all these sounds. The opening lyrics: “A scrub is a guy that thinks he's fly, And is also known as a busta” sound so bizarre coming from a band like Weezer, you’ll feel a lot of emotions here. Confusion, anger, slight arousal but in the end you will feel good.
‘Billie Jean’ (originally by Michael Jackson). There have been a lot of MJ covers over the years, sadly this is not one of the better ones. Like all songs on the album this is good to sing along to, but if you want something more creative stick to the likes of ‘Smooth Criminal’ by Alien Ant Farm.
Stand by Me (originally by Ben E. King) is the perfect track to end the album with. The vocals understandably are a lot different from Mr. King’s and I think that works in its favour.
Do yourself a favour and listen to this album, it is definitely a “greater than the sum of it parts” scenario. The Teal Album is not going to down in history as the next Pinkerton or Blue Album as it does not reinvent the wheel but more often than not adds their own rims to each cover. If you want something that is a fun time or something you’ll subconsciously sing along to then this album is for you. Just do not expect it to be the next great Weezer album you wanted it to be.
My aim today is to share some of the songs that Chris Cornell has had a hand in creating that I think more people should listen to, and hopefully open people’s eyes to an artist they may never have given a second thought about. This is neither a beginner’s guide nor a deep cuts collection. These are songs that maybe didn’t get as much radio airplay, album tracks that I think could have been put forward for the masses, and a couple of singles that are often overlooked. So, if you’ve ever found yourself grooving along to ‘Spoonman’ or headbanging to the outrageous noise of ‘Cochise’ but have never thought to go beyond the songs fed to you on a platter, this might just be the list for you.Read More
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2019, more like 20-fine-teen amirite?
The new year sees the release of some brand new games for everyone's favourite console - the Nintendo Switch. In this video, we run down some of the highlights, including:
* Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition
* New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
* Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
What was your favourite release from the month? Let us know in the comments below and don't forget to like, share and subscribe for more great content coming at you in 2019! 🤘
Intro music: “The Vagtastic Voyage” by Mexicofallz
Nineteen years. Nineteen years! Six thousand, six hundred and thirty two days ago since Unbreakable was released in the USA. The “Eastrail 177 Trilogy” as it has come to be known is such an anomaly in the film world right now. We have had so many studios chasing Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) trying to release multiple movies in a singular year. Whether it is the mishandled DC Extended Universe, the ill-fated “Dark Universe” Cinematic Universe that got off to a non-start with Mr. Cruise’s The Mummy or even Fox’s “sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss” X-Men Universe which seems to be slowly (and sadly) getting shut down with the Disney merger.
I’m a big fan of comic books and the movies that are made around them. So to have something that is so different from the MCU I believe should be applauded. It takes restraint to create three movies over NINETEEN YEARS when in perspective that is Marvel’s output for a single year. It’s obvious that there is money to be made in superheroes and after all these years it could be argued that the universe being created here was not for the sake of making money but was actually a carefully thought out trilogy by M. Night Shyamalan. With all that time to refine does that make it a good movie however?Read More
Ah another year and another Mario title. What better way to ring in 2019 than by jumping on mushrooms, dodging carnivorous plants and sliding down bare pipe. All of which and more you can do in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Arguably the last big Wii U release to be ported to the Switch, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has some big boots to fill coming off the monumental triumph of 2017’s Mario Odyssey.Read More
Did you know we’re living in the future? The future is NOW! Whatever you’re up to today, it’s almost certainly very cool and futuristic.
Ok, so 2019 might not be the future everyone was expecting, but that doesn’t mean bleak visions of the future have gone away. People have been dreaming of dreary cities full of film noir charm for the last few decades, so at least we’ve still got that to tide us over until the machine uprising grants us the true future we’re all desperate to die in poverty from.
Hey let’s look at some cool cyberpunk anime.Read More
Doctor Who is my favourite TV show, through and through. So why is it that Series 11 has left me feeling so conflicted about my love for the show? Am I having some form of crisis? Is the show all of a sudden really bad? Have I grown up? I don’t think it’s any of these things. Join me, as I take a look at some of the things I liked and disliked in Series 11 of Doctor Who in an effort to find some clarity.Read More
Hello everyone, you join us here for another year in the bag. 2018 somehow went by in a flash and also seemed to take forever to get to the stunning conclusion of the Brexit saga (we definitely aren’t going to hear anything about Brexit in 2019 right?). Whilst the news of the year has been mostly grim as the world’s leaders still deny climate change and it seems we are on the brink of our own extinction, the entertainment industry has had a truly fabulous year to help us forget our somewhat saddening existence.
So join me for my personal “favourite things” of the year (I will spell favourite the way we do in England, sorry Americans). Then join us from Wednesday 26th December for the beginning of the “UDS Sharkies 2018”. What a year it has been.Read More
It’s that time of year again - the Christmas tree is up, the tinsel is strung around the house, and the television is flooded with a load of rubbish films. That’s alright though, who’s actually paying attention? On Christmas day the TV is merely a vessel for background noise, something to neglect while everyone’s opening their presents, or vegging out after a particularly heavy turkey dinner.
But what if you don’t fancy slumming it with the latest drama in EastEnders or Coronation Street this year? We’ve compiled a list of a few films you might want to check out, and we’ve even gone to the trouble of coming up with some excuses for you to use in case someone says “that’s not Christmassy enough”.
It’s a big week for Marvel and its cinematic universe. A second ‘Captain Marvel’ trailer has been released to much hype, with the first trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ and the much sought after Avengers 4 trailer (and potential title reveal) finally being unveiled in the coming days. The Marvel Cinematic Universe where we stand in 2018 is an entertainment juggernaut, with millions of people embracing and holding close the characters and storylines involved. As one such person who loves this franchise, upon seeing the immersive experience ‘Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N’ was opening its doors at London’s ExCel centre, I jumped at the chance to book tickets, and went along with a quiet excitement at what might be contained within. But is this something worth attending, or just something made to capitalise on fandom? I went along to find out…Read More
When I was a little boy, I use to spend a lot of time on the Nintendo Gameboy. You know the one, heavy, bulky and grey. Powered by four (FOUR!?) AA batteries and I am pretty sure you could knock someone out with it if you gave it a good go. Besides the bulk of the system in question, the game I would play the most unsurprisingly was Tetris. I would spend hours upon hours rotating all the tetriminos into place, lining them up just right and somehow still being laughably bad and failing after a short while. There was something always just right about the challenge, the music and just the “feel” that would make me play that game for hours on end. At least in my younger years.
When I was thirteen, I use to spend a lot of time on my Sony PlayStation Portable. You know the one, heavy, bulky and grey. Who knows what powered that battery as I can always remember being plugged into the wall. Besides the questionable battery (which is probably expanding and about to explode somewhere in a draw right now), the game I would play the most unsurprisingly was Lumines. I would spend hours upon hours rotating all the cubes into place, lining them up just right into the time of the music and somehow being laughably bad and failing after a surprisingly long amount of time. There was something always just right about the challenge, the music and just the “feel” that would make me play that game for hours on end. At least in my teen years.
What happens if you smash Lumines and Tetris together? I’m pretty sure you’d get something that looks like “Tetris Effect”. Not to say that Tetris Effect is a simple cash-in that someone has haphazardly thrown together. In terms of gameplay it is the usual Tetris that we all know and have come to love at this point. Make sure you don’t reach the top otherwise it’s game over.
It is important to note that this is a good feeling Tetris game at its core, and with this foundation they just build more and more on top of it. Much like a really good cake, which is made even better with cracking icing.
The icing in this case is the sound design. This is the real draw of Tetris Effect and where most of the Lumines comparisons come into consideration. Each stage has different themes, different sounds, different music and a different colour scheme that makes them all feel unique in their own way. The first stage The Deep sees you underwater and as you rotate a block an aquatic sound emits, merging perfectly with the song that is being played. It is truly a wondrous feeling when you are focused upon the screen, the music immensering you, fully paired with getting a “Tetris”. It’s like achieving the ultimate kind of video game zen.
I have felt the opposite of zen however when playing the main campaign, Journey Mode. Unrivalled seat of the pants sweating frantically rotating anything just to create a line. In this mode you have a series of stages one after another, usually a theme or concept linking all of them together. Once you have achieved 36 lines you progress to the next stage after a brief intermission. At first the intermission, I believed it was unnecessary, I wanted it to be a constant rollercoaster ride with no breaks. However, after some time in that mode a lot of the stages are linked in theme but vary in speed so much that a breather from time to time is very necessary.
Something band new to Tetris as a whole is the Zone mechanic. As you create lines in the corner a circle fills up, at anytime you can activate zone and unleash an always super helpful time freeze. Once activated, the music fades away to a distant distortion in the background, that manic feeling you just had goes with it and here is a short period for you to compose yourself and create lines that stack up on to one another. Activating zone is not just a button to guarantee you will get out of your impossible jam however, you still need to be focused to succeed. Use it too early and it’s a waste, but if you deploy it too late then you may find yourself in an even worse position because it is just “too late”. Mastering however will allow you to perform a “decahexatris” of 16 lines simultaneously, or even more! I tip my hat to you if you can achieve more.
Aside from the main campaign there is another mode, Effect Mode, where there are different playlists or gameplay mechanics to add to the base Tetris Effect experience. It could be a chill playlist where you play Tetris where there are no constraints, and if you fail you will continue with no penalty or reach 150 lines as quick as you can. A personal favourite is the Purify Mode which “infects” certain blocks and the player has to try and clear said blocks before the infection spreads.
They also have community events here and if enough people contribute enough lines, rotations or games everyone receives an in-game gift. At first glance this can seem like a tacked-on addition but significant use of this mode will enhance your Tetris skills overall and make you a better player all around. There is a levelling system tied to how much you play and how well you play, the better you do the more points you will get leading to more challenges meaning you will keep returning and getting better at the game.
The game is lacking in some respects, after Puyo Puyo Tetris showed us how entertaining it could be to play Tetris together, the lack of any type of local multiplayer is very disheartening. Of the same vein is the world map which allows you to fly around in your respective avatar (of which you can obtain different ones through playing the game) whether it be a manta ray, bird, etc. and see other players that are currently active. Whilst the experience of flying around the world fits in the motif that Tetris Effect has, it would have been nice if you could interact with other players more meaningfully.
One of the main reasons that this is such a strong entry to the series is Virtual Reality. The developer has previous experience in VR and using this knowledge they have made sure that it is a well polished experience. The look, sound and feel are the delicious meaty filling and the VR is the most satisfying bread you can imagine to keep it contained. Placing the headset on, plugging in the headphones and allowing yourself to be fully engulfed in this world of Tetriminos is one heck of a time. You are aware of all the stages changing and evolving around you, the sound reacting to every move you make and that zone mechanic mentioned earlier? It feels even sweeter when activated in VR. This game is good on a regular television but when when you add VR you just feel more connected to it, you have no distractions, no phone messages, no outside noises, it is just you and the Tetris. Just like how I used to play it when I was a child on my Game Boy.
If you don’t like Tetris and have not throughout your life, then this is not going to be for you. Tetris Effect, however, is a really good Tetris game. If you have a PlayStation VR headset then it is a great Tetris game. It plays to the game’s strength of this being a 1 to 1 experience beaming straight into your soul. If you wanted something you could share with other people I’d recommend sticking with Puyo Puyo Tetris.
4 stars out of 5.
Hi readers, my name is Neale and I’m new to the Upside Down Shark team. I studied film at university, with Craig, focusing heavily on animation and animation production, so I thought for my first little article I’d write about a movie that had a big impact on me years ago when I first saw it, and how it changed the landscape for animated movies and science fiction.Read More
In part 1 of my introductory pair of articles, I covered my 5 favourite albums and TV shows. Here in part 2, I’m going to be covering some of my favourite video games and movies, but this time it’ll be a little bit different. Instead of writing up my ‘Top 5s’ as it were, I’ll instead be focusing on 5 video games and movies that have had the most impact on me. Sure, you’ll still be getting to know my favourites from both categories, but this time ranking isn’t going to factor in, because honestly my feelings are a lot less definitive in these areas. With that out of the way, we’ll begin with 5 of my favourite video games.Read More
Hi there. My name is Matt. Most people call me Dobbie. Either is fine, combine them both and you have my name anyway. Welcome, dear reader, to my first article for Upside Down Shark. I thought I’d take this opportunity to give everyone an idea of who I am and the sorts of things I’ll be writing about for UDS in the weeks, months and potential years ahead. Seeing as Pop Culture is the name of the game here, I feel the best way to show who I am is to give you a collection of my favourite albums, video games, TV shows and movies. I won’t go into too much detail here as we’ve got years ahead for proper dissection. In Part 1, we’ll cover my favourite albums and my favourite TV shows. So, let’s just jump into it, shall we?Read More
Pixar films are like children to me. It’s always hard for me to pick my favourite one (except for the Cars trilogy). Wall-E, Up, Ratatouille and Toy Story 3 are high up there but being somewhat of a superhero nerd I always find myself being drawn to The Incredibles. I have always found it to be the perfect Fantastic Four that was never made. Fourteen years (and another truly awful Fantastic Four film) since it was released we find ourselves with another Pixar made superhero film and I couldn’t be any happy.
The film takes place exactly where the first one finished. The Incredible family are outside a sports stadium watching the rise of the Underminer, then without missing a beat spring into action. The opening scene reminds you that the family are a well oiled machine when working together and whilst they may not have the outcome you expect from the first encounter it is very well done to set up the rest of the film.
Supers and their place in world has not changed since the first film, Supers are still outlawed but now the government has shut down the relocation programme as well, which find our heroes staying in a motel, eating takeout and wondering what to do next. Mr. Incredible & Elastigirl are offered the chance to change the perceptions of Supers and hopefully change the law so it is no longer illegal for them to be out in public.
Mr. Incredible is at home taking care of the kids whilst Elastigirl is out fighting crime. It is here where there is an entertaining balance of the film takes place, every time the main plot thickens with Elastigirl we go back to Mr. Incredible hilariously fumbling his way through parenthood mostly with Jack Jack.
In terms of new characters the Supers are hit and miss. Voyd is someone who can create portals to teleport any sort of matter through and is a strong stand out, whilst Brick is a strongman and Krushhauer can erm crush? The “weaker” Supers appear to be incredibly (no pun intended) B tier and are treated with as much screen time as necessarily to further the story but I doubt we will see the a spin-off movie starring Reflux anytime soon. Do not fear Edna and Frozone make strong appearances in the film too.
The overarching villain Screenslaver seems a bit predictable at first and may even seem a bit easy to write “Hey, we all look at screens too much” but looking deeper it also a commentary on the state of superhero films and how we are all looking for people to sweep in and save the day in reality that we comfort in films perhaps a bit too much. Whilst some of this may go over some people heads, it is important to remember that this is a superhero hero film and a kids film so try not to be too surprised when there is a happy ending.
The Incredibles 2 does more of what you love with The Incredibles and does it really well. Whilst some sequels seem half baked or a quick cash grab, time has helped the thoughts of the original Incredibles set and help mature the creation of this film that other superheroes will probably never get.