Before we get stuck in to… well, whatever this is, I want to warn you. This is a long-read. It’s probably going to be filled with a lot of my ramblings, and its structure might not be the best. But that’s what life is really like: messy, uncoordinated and full of curve balls. There will be several parts to this story, probably in different posts.
So let’s start.
It all begins almost one year ago on July 4th. A day of independence to some, but for me it now just signifies the one thing. My amazing, heartfelt and incredibly witty dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour on that evening. The night before, Mum had rushed him into our local hospital after his doctor’s surgery refused to see him because they were ‘too full’, had no emergency appointments… blah, blah. Mum made the choice to rush him into A&E – and it was the right choice.
She rang me that Saturday evening. I distinctly remember we had chosen to have pizza as a takeaway and a glass of wine. I had barely taken a sip and I received the phone call. I packed a bag in haste with some clothes and whatever else was classified as ’emergency’ and just left. During the 40-minute drive to my parents home, I rang both of my best friends. I said, “I need you to listen carefully. Something incredibly serious has happened with Dad, he’s in the hospital. He was acting funny last week – could be dementia, I don’t know, but I’m going to need you a lot this year, I can feel it.” I mean, I’m paraphrasing, but it was something to that effect. Of course, my best friends are amazing and I knew they would step up when faced with grave consequences. And they did.
When I arrived at the hospital, mask on, I waited about 10 minutes until some arse was acting up in front of a receptionist. They were rushed off their feet and apologised for my wait, I was fine with it. This was still in the middle of the pandemic, not all of us had received our first vaccination – I only had got my first one back in June. We were all under a lot of pressure.
They advised me to go into one of the rooms. I saw Dad. One side of his face was slurred, it looked like he’d had a stroke. The first thing he said to me was, “why are you crying?”. I immediately rushed over to his side, grabbed his hand and said, “Dad, you’re not very well. You’re really poorly.” He then said something strange, he said: “Why didn’t you tell me? You knew. You knew.”
He wasn’t lying.
You see, I sort of have a ‘hidden’ ability. It’s known to those I’m close to. From a young age, I’ve always had ‘visions’ of people dying. These are more than just dreams. Usually when I wake up from them, I’m physically crying, shaking all over and more often than not have a nose bleed. I shout and scream a lot in my sleep too, or so I’m told.
It was a long time ago, but back when I was around 14 or 15, I started having visions of my nana. She had recently died. I think it all started then. Then came my Mum’s best friend at the time. I’d had a vision the night before we went to see her in Scotland with Mum and Dad, she was surrounded by bottles of alcohol and was dead. Mum went to see her, but there was no answer. She went to speak to the neighbour. He told Mum she had died after drinking herself to death. Well, that was it. It all came after that.
I started receiving visions of people in our family dying. Slowly but surely they all rang true. My nana was the daughter of a gypsy, so perhaps that’s where it comes from – either way it now runs through Mum, my aunt and me. Anyway, back to the story…
Around November 2020, I’d had a particular vision that Dad was going to get a terminal illness and he would die relatively young, or rather at age he was now or soon. In the years prior to this vision, I’d dreamt of Dad’s death many times. From car accidents to him getting shot, plane crashes etc, but I just assumed it was my fear of letting him go. With this vision though, it felt different. Like someone, somewhere was calling out to me, signalling to me that this was going to change our lives forever. I’ve always known I’ve had a particular spirit bonded to me as a child. She’s followed me everywhere. Maybe you’ll think I’m crazy… but it feels very real to me.
So my spirit, I think, was calling out to me at this point. She’s often drawn attention to herself in the room I’m in. She’s moved things around in my old bedroom in my parents house, made herself very prominent in my parents’ attic and, just recently, has been watching over me in my new house with my soon-to-be husband.
When I woke from this particular vision, I was physically sweating everywhere. I had kicked and screamed during the night and the sheets were in disarray. I had been crying for a long time, not even aware I was doing it. But I didn’t have a nose bleed. Weird. So, I dismissed the notion of it being real.
In early December 2020, I received a call from Dad. He said my uncle had passed away. He’d contracted Covid-19 out in Spain at the time and my cousin barely got out to see him in time. I still think about how hard it must have been for him.
I started crying on the phone. Dad immediately asked what was wrong – it’s not really like me to cry over someone I wasn’t close to (for various reasons that I won’t go into). I said to him, “Dad,” and I kept repeating his name (I couldn’t control myself). “I thought it was you!”
To this day, I can’t really recall what he said. But I know it was something along the lines of, “Me? No, I’m fine. You’ve got nothing to worry about with me.” He said that phrase all the time, every time I asked him how he was on the phone, the “Me? I’m fine” is what he’d come back with.
Fast forward back to July 4th and here we are, where he says to me: “Why didn’t you tell me? You knew. You knew.” I don’t really know if he was talking to me or not at that point. He was looking elsewhere. So, I returned quickly with, “Yes I know, Dad. I knew. And I told you I knew something was wrong. Remember that call when you talked about your brother passing?” He nodded. “This is what I was talking about.” He went quiet. He was laid on the bed, fully clothed in his jacket (he didn’t want to take it off), and one side of his body was curled up.
There was a quietness in the room at that point. It just hung there, and it was stifling. I looked at Mum, who was just beside herself with worry. I looked at Dad, who for the first time, genuinely looked afraid. It was as if he’d seen a ghost when I’d walked into the room.
After a while, the silence was broken with a nurse coming in to check Dad’s vitals. They were holding him back in the room after they’d done some tests to see what was the issue. They couldn’t discharge him, even though he was full of agitation at that point. Walking around with his jacket on. He just wanted to be at home.
A couple of hours went by and we really had no clue what was happening. My stomach was playing havoc with me and I needed to get away for a bit. Mum gave me her keys (I forgot mine in the rush) and said I should just go home and go call my partner just to let him know what was going on. Dad wanted to come with us. It was hard to see him like this.
When I got back to my parents house, it was about 11pm. I couldn’t really sleep or get into any sort of comfortable positioning. So, I waited for Mum to come back home.
A little after 1am, I heard the car drawing up and I saw Mum alone. I’d got about three quarters of the way down the stairs when she rushed in and quite literally flopped into my arms. She sobbed. I just held her crying, not even knowing much at that point. Through her on- and off-again sobs, she said, “Your dad, they think he’s got a tumour. A brain tumour. They think it’s cancer.”
On July 4th around 1am, my entire world crumbled around me. This man who I’d loved all my life, who gave me everything, had cancer. Even now, writing this, I’m crying because it still feels like this happened yesterday.
In the days and weeks after the initial shock, we learned how bad it really was. It was terminal, it was his death sentence. Why? Because he was diagnosed at 67 with a Glioblastoma (wild type) frontal lobe brain tumour. And they gave him just 12-15 months survival rate.
But, in reality, it was a lot shorter than that. However, that’s a story for a different day.
You were always there for me.
A virtual avatar;
Watching from afar.
I never knew this day would come.
When I’d be left with tears that run.
How did we get here?
A silent place;
No longer face to face.
I never knew this day would come.
Where I’d wake up without the warm sun.
Where are you now?
A new life;
Taken with force by a would-be wife.
I never knew this day would come.
Scared to message having turned to the rum.
Won’t you come back to me?
It’s been over a year;
Even more I fear.
I never knew this day would come.
When my heart would break as if it was all just for fun.
No longer living;
Far from dying.
Waving to me from a screen, not that far.
Written for a good friend who I’ve fallen out of touch with. One day, I hope they’ll come back. For now, I just want them to know I’m thinking about them, that they’ll always be in my heart, and I’m fiercely proud of them. They are still a part of my pack – never left behind.
I’ve been meaning to post something on my personal blog for a while, though I’ve never gotten around to it. Life just sort of, throws you in at the deep end sometimes, while you tread water, hoping that you’re still kicking. In a way, there’s a morbid fascination to it. In one moment, you’re fantasizing about what it’s like to drown, the next you can’t breathe. Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically… But that’s what life is, right?
Two people that I deeply respected, admired and followed for many years died quite recently. They weren’t family members or even friends, but iconic characters of their time. Both of their deaths affected me in different ways; they died in the same month just two weeks apart.
One was Margot Kidder. She was, and always will be, my Lois Lane. I knew her as a character intimately when I was a kid. She was everything I had ever dreamed of being. A ballsy, sharp, level-headed reporter with a way of talking herself out of (and into) danger. When I read of Margot’s passing from the Christopher Reeve Foundation as I was scrolling through Facebook, I sat there in stunned silence. And that sentence right there was probably the kicker. It brought back all the moments I loved between Chris and Margot on screen.
Margot and Chris were good friends while they were on the set of Superman and Superman II. They were also fiercely loyal to Superman’s Director, Richard Donner; it was one of the reasons why Margot only came back for smaller parts in 3 and 4. I recently stumbled across a photo of the two of them together at Niagara Falls, on the set of Superman II. And I remembered that just last year, I was stood in the exact same place as two of my heroes. To many people, the death of these two actors and the characters they played on screen would just be a passing sadness. But to me, they were my childhood. A little bit of my childhood died; I’ll never get it back. Yet there’s a bitter sweetness to it, knowing that Superman caught Lois as she fell away.
The second, was a man who was diagnosed with bowel cancer several years ago. John ‘TotalBiscuit’ Bain was a very talented, vocal gaming critic who found fame through YouTube. I was lucky enough to meet him at a UK convention run by his long-time friend, Jesse Cox. Back then, he was suffering through Chemotherapy and, while undoubtedly in a lot of pain, sat for 8 hours at a table signing, meeting and greeting fans.
It was that year that I got on the train back from Telford, when I bumped into him at the train station. He was heading north to see family, listening to music, waiting for the train while people stood around him shivering in excitement. It was odd, I guess, seeing him in a normal setting around normal people, doing normal everyday things. But that’s just it, he wasn’t a celebrity, he didn’t let his status define him, instead he stood up for the little people; the indie game developers who were short on money, the gamers who had no voice. And he sure as hell helped people through rough times just by doing his own thing, and doing it damn well.
In late May, John Bain passed away peacefully. My heart broke for his wife Genna and their son. He was 33, just five years older than me. That puts things into perspective.
It wasn’t too long ago that I found myself in hospital undergoing an investigation. I sat and spoke to two women; one with pneumonia and the other who had cancer. And there I was sitting, panicking that I had just fainted and knowing that I was sat with two women that had much bigger problems than me. I felt terrible.
Something triggered in me then. And it’s still working it’s way through my brain now. It happened the other day when I was sat basking in the beautiful sunshine in our garden. I watched the birds have a dirt bath. And then, much later, watched another bird bathe in my neighbour’s stone water basin, flicking its feathers while the water jumped off its back. I realised that sometimes you don’t need to be moving forward in life, sometimes you need to stand (or sit) still and watch everything else happen around you.
Perhaps it’s the best advice I can give anyone who reads this. Letting things happen around you doesn’t mean that things are out of control. It doesn’t mean that you can’t help influence change. But it does give you time to assess what the right course of action may be. Sometimes doing nothing but watching and listening means everything to one person, allowing them to heal. Be content with who you are, allow yourself the time to – quite literally – stop and smell the roses because time is something we never get back. Know that it’s okay to stand still.
If you enjoyed John Bain’s content and would like to help support his family during this difficult time, please visit their Go Fund Me page, set up by his fans with all monies raised going to Genna Bain.
Animal Crossing fans have been paying Tom Nook their hard-earned Bells in exchange for suitable living quarters for more than a decade. Since the franchise’s initial Japanese release in 2001, Animal Crossing has blossomed into life on various Nintendo platforms over the years, including the highly commended titles Wild World (2005) and New Leaf (2012) on the Nintendo DS and 3DS respectively. While the series has gone from strength to strength on Nintendo’s handheld platforms, its venture onto home consoles has undoubtedly seen some dark days, with arguably the worst falling under Amiibo Festival (2015) on the Wii U.
The beloved franchise, which was perhaps seen as a niche title when Wild World released for the DS, turned mainstream with New Leaf’s arrival and, due to popular appeal, has seen inclusion in other Nintendo games, such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8. But this series can’t stray far from its roots and when Nintendo began to develop games for mobile devices, the Animal Crossing series was sure to be a great fit. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp arrived for iOS and Android devices last November and accrued 15 million downloads within its first week of release. While it may have only been half of the 32 million downloads Super Mario Run obtained in the same time frame, it’s still a tremendous feat.
If you’ve been playing Pocket Camp since its release, you’ll know there’s been a fair few updates in that time. Of course, one of the largest updates added Gardens into the mobile app, but what others would you like to see? Here’s a list of five features I love and five that I would like added.
Features I love…
- Camp Amenities
Similar to Public Works Projects (PWP for short), Camp Amenities are splendid ways for your villagers to interact with at your camp site. They usually take a good 12 hours for Cyrus to build but the payoff is excellent. Animals staying at your camp site all fall under one of several themes; be it natural, cool, sporty or cute, camp amenities allow your friendship levels to grow so you can get added bonuses like t-shirts, sparkle stones and Bells. The only drawback here is that you need one heck of a lot of materials to build them, with cotton in particular the bane of many an AC Pocket Camp fan. Pro Tip: Do requests for animals that give you cotton or link up your MyNintendo account and use your in-game points for more resources.
- Rotating Animals
One of the drawbacks in the AC series is the amount of time it takes it kick a villager out of your town that you loathe. That’s right, don’t think you’re the only one – we’ve all done it. But in Pocket Camp, villagers rotate every three hours and appear in different places on your map. Plus, if you’d rather swap out a villager with another, it’s incredibly easy to say goodbye without tearing up as you can always invite them back with a calling card.
- Request Interactions
Possibly the easiest way to earn friendship perks, Bells and other materials is by doing villager requests. But during these exchanges, albeit on rare occasions, you’ll receive a ‘meet-cute’ interaction. From making adorable seashell necklaces to baking a fruit pie, I just can’t get enough of these peppy on-screen actions.
- Event Themes
Like any other AC series, Pocket Camp players will receive in-game themed events during certain time periods throughout the year. From the festive theme to the New Year’s countdown theme, there’s plenty of stretch goals to achieve during these events that you’ll never stop trying to craft all the furniture in a set. Who knew AC could be so similar to Pokemon? Gotta craft ’em all.
- Furniture Placement
Furniture placement has evolved since the days of City Folk (aka Let’s Go to the City in Europe) and New Leaf. In Happy Home Designer, feng shui was a real art to master, but thankfully it came with a great drag and drop tool for the closet interior designer. Pocket Camp utilises this feature wonderfully, even allowing you to put away furniture in the blink of an eye and save your layouts easily. That means no more dragging the couch from one end to the other or popping it into your Mary Poppins-esque handbag to put it at the other side of the room either.
Features I’d like…
- App Save & Close Feature
Gone are the days when Resetti used to shout verbal abuse at you from his mole hole. Now, we’ve got bigger problems and I’m pretty sure Resetti wouldn’t like it. During its early release, I’d been wondering how to shut down the app efficiently and without losing any save data. I would pay my loan to OK Motors and exit the app, but on booting the app back up the same amount was still left to be paid. Due to the game’s autosave feature activating only when travelling from area to area, some data would always be lost. Let’s have a save and close function for us forgetful folk, eh?
- Bigger Camps
Nintendo: Hey, guess what? You get to craft all this exciting new stuff but you’ll never be able to fit any of it in your camp!
Player 1: Wait, what? But there’s that little piece of land on the bottom screen that never gets used. Can we put stuff there?
Nintendo: Oh, that section? No, you can’t put camp amenities there or extend your camp. It’s for another… purpose.
Player 1: Another purpose? Oh, I get it. It’s because you’ll eventually make us pay leaf tickets to expand our camp into that section.
Nintendo: *inaudible discussion* Yes, that’s right! *internal whispering* Make sure you add that on the next update.
Player 1: Ugh…
- New Areas
Between a leisurely stroll down at the beach to a spot of insect catching on a remote island, fans are chomping at the bit for new areas to explore. A beautiful city spot wouldn’t go amiss featuring K.K Slider’s newest grooves or a mini-game island to grind low-stock materials. Who knows what Nintendo will feature in the months to come.
- Swaps & Sales Market Boxes
Pocket Camp’s Market Box isn’t the most appealing feature within the mobile app, but there’s a few ways it could be improved. At the moment, players can only place materials found on the island within their boxes but wouldn’t it be super handy if fans could swap furniture or even resources instead?
There’s already a number of rumoured key character cameos out there in the wild, but I’d love to see Kapp’n back on the seas. With his hardy-ha-ha tunes about his life on the sea and his beautiful wife, the journey to an island isn’t the same without him. It’s hard not to love someone who sings you ditties all day and night long.
So, there you have it; my top five features of what I love and want is complete. However, there’s plenty of other fun things in the AC series that could make a return in Pocket Camp. Let me know which new features you’d like in the comment section below.
Disclaimer: Since writing the blog post below, Nintendo has very kindly sent My Nintendo News a Switch Console to preview and review. As I’m the Reviews Editor for the site, it’s fallen under my wing. So expect to see an unbiased article – or as much as I can be – on the Switch and, subsequently, Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Going forward, it also means I will be reviewing more Switch games, so I’m afraid you’re all stuck with me for the foreseeable future. I only hope that’s a good thing! 🙂
As most of you know, I’m an avid Nintendo fan. But I won’t be buying the Nintendo Switch at launch.
OK. So, you’re puzzled, right? I review Nintendo games on Wii U and 3DS over at My Nintendo News – and have been doing so for the past four years. Time really does fly.
Although I love reviewing games – both playing and writing – I’ve admittedly had a love-hate relationship with Nintendo as a company. From a consumer’s point of view, the Nintendo Switch in the UK is priced at £279.99. I pre-ordered it when it was announced, just like that. And then I asked myself why the hell did I do that?!
I have never pre-ordered a console or game in my life. If any of you know or have heard of TotalBiscuit on YouTube, you’ll know he absolutely hates the idea of pre-ordering. You get let down too many times from botched up jobs of a game, or pay for games that are £50 on launch then reduce to a measly £20 after a month. Pre-ordering, though, is sometimes a necessary evil.
Over the years, Nintendo has been plagued with stock issues from the amiibo rush to the recent problems with the NES Mini. So I thought, screw it. Let’s pre-order a Switch while I can, because I’m a reviewer and I need that system.
The thing is, I really don’t. And funnily enough, as a reviewer of Nintendo games, I’ll have to pay an arm and a leg if I want all of the accessories (£99.99 for a pro-controller on Amazon; you’re having a laugh, right!?) and a number of SD cards to store all those digitally downloaded games on. For UK consumers, if you want to buy all your games digitally, you’re going to need to store them on SD cards. Reportedly there will be compatible SD cards up to 2TB, but the highest ones available right now are 256GB, or thereabouts. The Nintendo Switch itself only comes packaged with 32GB. I mean… what?
Having played with the Switch, I feel like I’m in a much better position to justify not purchasing just yet. There are only a handful of launch titles – including Zelda: Breath of the Wild – that will arrive on March 3. I was teetering on the edge since the press event last weekend about whether I could actually justify such a purchase, and there was one thing that just sealed the deal.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch has better sounds and a better pixel to pixel resolution – and it’s not even by much. Wait, let me just get this straight. That’s it? Maybe there’s other features we don’t know about yet, maybe there isn’t. But the main point is, I bought my Wii U to play the new Zelda on, and I’m going to play it and review it on that system. Plus, I actually have a sweet Pro Controller for the Wii U, and that’s going to be one hell of a lot more comfortable than playing with Joy-Cons.
As for the Switch itself, I will eventually have to buy it, most probably just before Splatoon comes out. But I don’t want to go against my own morals just for the sake of buying a system when I don’t know all the ins and outs just yet. Oh, and it doesn’t even come bundled with multimedia apps like Netflix. Well, there goes my ability to binge-watch Pretty Little Liars in my living room then.
So, I apologise to the MNN readers out there. You won’t be getting any Switch reviews from me until I can reasonably justify purchasing the system from a consumer’s point of view. Because, at the end of the day, I am still a consumer.
The air is thick, painted with heavy sighs.
Grasping at straws, no longer with ties.
She sits there waiting.
Darkness, no sunrise.
The air is thick, suffocating with cries.
Moments pass and the next train draws in.
Her carriage awaits, bound by sin.
She sits inside waiting.
Darkness, all cooped in.
Moments pass, left to rot in a meat tin.
Destined for doom, they say.
All she felt was pain, night and day.
She sits in the cold waiting.
An owl girl with feathers that fray.
Destined for doom, too wise to obey.
Wishing her luck would change,
Cawing and flapping, so estranged.
She sits outside waiting,
But there’s no perfect exchange.
They meet. They talk. They part.
Once lovers, now perfect strangers.
She leaves, never looks back,
And silently lets go of her heart.
When your hero dies in life, whether it’s someone in your family, a friend or a famous individual, it’s always difficult to bear. And perhaps that’s why we seek solace in our own thoughts; we try to find peace when all we see is grief. At times, the world bleeds colour and all that’s left is a dark, frustrating grey hue. It covers your eyes and blinds you temporarily. Death finds a way to eat into our souls, no matter how much we try to smile and move on.
Christopher Reeve would have turned 63 on September 25, 2015 – today – if he were still alive. Almost 11 years on since he died, his death still weighs heavily on my mind. I still remember where I was, what I was doing and, even, what I was wearing the day he died. Travelling to my youth theatre group as part of an early morning Sunday rehearsal, I was sat in the car with my dad. When I heard of his death on the radio, I stared at my black converse and jeans.
In that moment, my mind was elsewhere. Tears dropped from my cheek and splashed onto my jeans; I wasn’t even aware I was crying. In fact, my immediate thought remembered his final wishes, the one where he decided that he’d manage to walk again. Somehow he’d summoned up the courage and walked straight into death.
Though Christopher Reeve died that day, Superman didn’t. A superhero in the movies, he was also seen as a hero in life, particularly for his work in paralysis. Setting up the Christopher and Dana Reeve charity was just a part of those plans to bring those with paralysis a better life. One in which they would be able to walk again.
Today, that same charity is asking his fans for a donation of $63 in honour of Christopher’s 63rd birthday. And I’ve just donated $63 – or the British equivalent of £41.50.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation is a fabulous charity, not only for the work that it continues to do on a daily basis for those with spinal-cord injuries or other types of paralysis, but for upholding the spirit of Superman for so many years and never giving up hope.
Having suffered a very serious back injury when I was 15, and again when I was 16, there were moments when I couldn’t feel my legs. I spent 40 minutes on a set of steel stairs and in the back of an ambulance believing I was paralysed from the hips down. At that age, it was the most terrifying thing in my life. When the feeling did come back into my legs, I remember feeling relieved and then entirely ashamed at myself. I knew people had suffered far worse and never lost hope for a second. In those 40 minutes, my hope was shattered completely.
Now I spend my life actually living. I am thankful every day that I can use my legs. Earlier this year, my friends and I ran the 5k Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK – another fantastic charity – and we raised near enough or over £200 for the cause.
Every day I’m thankful that I can run, jog, skip and swim. Every day I’m thankful that I can walk.
Happy 63rd Birthday, Christopher Reeve. And thank you for giving me hope.
Back in 2004, I was struck by the death of my hero and, along with many others, remembered all of the amazing feats this man had managed in his short lifetime. I was 14 when Christopher Reeve died. And today, almost ten years on, I’m shocked by the loss of his college best friend, Robin Williams.
The great comedy legend and Hollywood actor Robin Williams was found dead in his Californian home on August 11, having committed suicide. For a moment, when I (bleary-eyed) checked the news on my phone at 7am, I was stunned. I didn’t think it was real, in fact, my mind couldn’t process it was real. But sure enough, global news channels confirmed it. Robin Williams was gone.
Immediately my natural curiosity was sated. The man behind such classic films, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Mrs Doubtfire, and Hook, had battled severe depression and alcoholism for many years. Nobody knows why he committed suicide – even though the newspapers are throwing a few curve balls into the media frenzy, along with a statement from his wife that he had early Parkinson’s Disease – but, in a weird way, I understood.
As a former sufferer of depression, I found it incredibly difficult to talk about my problems to my friends and family. In fact, it was years after my Nana’s death when I realised I actually needed help. That the ongoing days and nights of crying into my pillow was not normal, that the idea of death was a glorified way out of my crap life. But, when I look back, I actually had a pretty good life. I had an amazing support network of family and friends, plus I had my writing and drama workshops, acceptance to university, and so on. However, I just couldn’t see that it all existed. Every night when I’d cry, I’d only see the darkness, the pain, the need for clear and refreshing physical pain rather than the emotional one. To me, nothing was right in the world. And I was selfish for taking up space, for living in it.
I can’t begin to understand what Robin Williams felt in those moments. But I do understand what it’s like to only see that insufferable darkness. I only hope he finds peace, wherever he may be, and can feel joy in seeing pigeons shit on other people’s heads while he looks on us from afar. And I also hope he reunites with Christopher Reeve once again, after all he needs to re-enact the scene as Reeve’s Russian proctologist. On that note, I’ll leave you with the very scene written in Christopher Reeve’s autobiography, Still Me:
“As the day of the operation drew closer, it became more and more painful and frightening to contemplate. In spite of efforts to protect me from the truth, I already knew that I had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery. I lay on my back, frozen, unable to avoid thinking the darkest thoughts. Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately. My first reaction was that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged. But it was Robin Williams. He and his wife, Marsha, had materialized from who knows where. And for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”
Looking back at 2013, I regret to say that I have totally and completely neglected my personal blog. It’s a shame really knowing that I put a lot of hard work into it when I was first starting out on WordPress. However, I’ve not been neglecting my professional writing portfolio, so in a tidy and alphabetical list below you’ll find links to various reviews and articles over 2013/14 that have been published here on the web (which is really more for my benefit, so I can keep track of where they’ve been published). Plus, I’ve been handling the content as an editor for Inkblots and Typing Spots – a literary magazine for young or aspiring writers – for around a year and a half now, which is where I spend most of my spare time! You do follow that, right? 🙂
Game Reviews 
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Just Dance 2014
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
Sonic Lost World
Super Mario 3D World
Wii Party U
Game Reviews 
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Inazuma Eleven GO: Light/Shadow
Kirby: Triple Deluxe
LEGO The Hobbit
Mario Golf: World Tour
Mario Kart 8
Mario Party: Island Tour
NES Remix 2
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For many years, becoming a princess was the cherry on the cake for little girls across the world, but when those girls grew up, they lost the need to place that gold, sparkling tiara on their heads. I can’t say I blame them; when we’re faced with the harsh world of reality, taking the lead role as princess in Mushroom Kingdom becomes nothing more than a trip down Nostalgia Lane. It’s no wonder both girls and women shudder with glee when the sacred vow of marriage arrives on their doorstep, complete with a glittering white dress and tiara. But what is so interesting is why both those girls and women place so much importance in the dress, and why it, inevitably, becomes the crux of the matter.
The gaming industry has been a fan of the damsel-in-distress story arc for quite a number of years, and it appears to keep getting bigger, bolder and better. Nintendo’s own Mario has been working this plot for – well, quite frankly, forever – but it works, right? In fact, Nintendo broke the “princess barrier” a few years ago and gave Princess Peach a chance to star in her own game: Super Princess Peach.
The game, originally released in 2006 (2005 for Japan), went on to relative success with gamers and critics alike – however, they dubbed the game as being “too easy” irrevocably making it difficult to die. The abundance of hints added to this ‘easy-vibe’, which ultimately led IGN critic Craig Harris to believe Nintendo were intentionally ‘spoon-feeding’ gamers: “Nintendo goes completely out of its way to spoon-feed the player, going so far as to nearly spell out the solution to every boss battle before the player enters the fight.” There was also the murmur of Nintendo planting ‘undercurrent sexist themes’ within the game – in one specific level, Peach has to avoid the Boos, and if one brushes past to touch her, she dies. Reading between the lines here spells out certain sexual connotations for sure, but what is so frustrating is that she can’t seem to fight back. Sure, she has her chance to fight bosses, but she uses her emotions of gloom, rage, joy and calm to defeat them. Is it such a ridiculous notion to allow Princess Peach to stomp enemies flat, just like her on-off boyfriend Mario? It’s somehow ironic that she must use her umbrella to hit an enemy, as if her body is too virtuous and pure, so she must imbue her rage in an inanimate object.
Super Princess Peach presents us with a rather interesting theory: if Peach was to take off the dress and wear women’s trousers and a shirt, accompanied by walking boots rather than dainty heels, could she shake off the damsel-in-distress image? Does her vulnerability come from her costume choice; trapped in a pink flouncy dress with nothing but white bloomers underneath? In fact, when a video game character gets the chance to shirk the dress, she does so, albeit only for half of the game in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time and subsequently, The Wind Waker. In both of these examples, Princess Zelda takes on a ‘boy-ish’ image, wearing cut-off trousers and, in Ocarina of Time, even wears a scarf to cover her feminine features. But as soon as she transforms back into the princess and into the dress, she is captured by Ganondorf, ending her plight to take on the evil usurper, giving control back to the male hero. Is it too much to ask Nintendo to make a game that actually modernises the female princess, letting her control her own fate for once?
From the Mario franchise, we’ve also been tempted by the cute yellow ‘Belle’ dress that Princess Daisy wears so wonderfully. Of course, we’ve yet to see a spin-off that takes Daisy from mere Mario Kart racing to super-stomping, princess-popping heroine – hopefully though, this isn’t as far off as we first imagined. As a new generation of ‘girl-gamers’ evolves, Nintendo must supply them with role models they can look up to, and role models that don’t trap the princess in the dress.
So, why is it that the dress matters so much to both women and girls? We get to look like the stereotypical princess, if only for one day, but that’s not to say we want to wear it every day. Do you think Nintendo needs to create characters suited to modern tastes, or is it better to keep up with tradition?