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WIN tickets! Interview with Director Denis Villeneuve

Welcome to October’s special edition - special because we have an interview with Denis Villeneuve, the director of Blade Runner 2049, the much anticipated new sci-fi film which is the follow up to the classic, Blade Runner featuring Harrison Ford. And thanks to Sony Pictures - we’ve got tickets to give away - so check out the competition on Page 10. We’ve also gotten our hands on tickets to the new Jigsaw film thanks to the team at Picture This, after all it is Halloween and we just love horror here at Live! Speaking of horror we caught up with our special guest photographer, Mike Rollerson who is the king of horror photography with some brilliant horror themed cosplay, and Cosplay editor Tiffany Dean talks to us about her latest Wonder Woman project. We also take a long look at Instagram which seems to be the choice of cosplayers and cosplay photographers to promote themselves and gain a following - but is it? Take a look. We’ve also got our Trading Card feature with an interview with a local MTG player and our popular War Gaming section thanks to Ben! Finally the team at Live would like to thank everyone involved in the magazine, our writers, our readers and our stores. We do our best to give you a fun magazine for free each month, we’d love you to share it with friends and help us grow our community and our reach. It’s thanks to you that we have these brilliant interviews with people like Denis Villeneuve, and the many people our retro editor Paul Monopoli has caught up with over the years. We’re now getting more readers each issue then many big name online magazines and we hope to grow our audience and get you even more great content, free tickets and more! Have a great month


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Blade Runner Special

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DENIS VILLENEUVE Why is the original Blade Runner a film that fans, directors and designers love?

Well I think that the first Blade Runner, when it came out on the screen, it sent a shockwave into the world. It was a collective shock. For some people it was a positive one, they were amazed, others were terrified. I feel that Ridley Scott and Hampton Fancher had a strong vision of what could be our future. It striked everybody. I think that the dream was so powerful and so seductive and frightening at the same time, that you had to choose your camp. Do you dream about this world? Do you want to be part of it? Or are you afraid of it and trying to avoid it? People had to choose between two camps. I think that we all felt when we saw the movie, that the filmmakers had created something that could be possible. That was fascinating, from a design point of view, but very frightening at the same time. And

that we will have to be careful what we wish for. And it was the first time that I was seeing a vision of what could be the future for real. The movie was aesthetically an extension of what was going on in the 80s. And it was the first time that someone was showing me the future, and it was fascinating and quite frightening at the same time. Ridley Scott is a specialist of hybridization. He had successfully merge science-fiction with horror with Alien... With Blade Runner he was blending SciFi and Film Noir. The film has been influential in terms of its visuals and aesthetic sense and ideas it raises. Would you agree with that? Yes. From a visual point of view, it’s a movie that took as its root, and was deeply influenced by the punk movement that was a very radical aesthetic movement at the end of the 60s and in the 70s. And we see that radical point of view in the movie.

I will say it’s like a movie that revisits the Frankenstein mythology about a man that will want to play God. And for me the main idea of the movie is how angry we are towards God, towards our creator. How angry we are towards the fact that we have to deal with the human condition. And that anger is something that is very alive inside us.

Los Angeles, November, 2019. Then you see that field, that landscape of oil factories. It was so nightmarish and powerful at the same time. A very powerful dream. Aesthetically it’s a movie that influenced me. I didn’t know at the time I would become a filmmaker, but I know that it has had a deep influence on my work since then.

Ridley Scott just put his finger on it. I think that’s why the movie is so visceral, so powerful. It’s not a very intellectual movie, it’s a very visceral movie.

Why did you want to direct the continuation? How did you come about doing that?

You have a great story about when you came into contact with Blade Runner. What was the impact on you at that time? I vividly remember seeing the first images coming out on the fanzine, of Deckard flying above Los Angeles. And it was something that was so far away from anything we had seen before. This was so different. I remember seeing the first movie and being shocked by what I think is one of the most powerful openings of any movie in cinema history.

I would have never dared, honestly, to propose myself for such a task. I vividly remember the moment when I was meeting with Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson about Prisoners. They stopped the meeting, and they said, “We have to stop because Ridley Scott will come in. He’s in the other room right now and we have to meet with him because we are planning to do a sequel to Blade Runner.” At that precise moment, I thought it was the most insane and beautiful idea at the same time. Because it’s such a challenge. It’s such a difficult

thing to go on with the story, to try to reproduce what had been a landmark in film history. It’s not a small thing.

the biggest compliment I’ve ever received because of that amount of trust that Alcon had, to put this in my hands.

I remember saying, good luck guys. But knowing that Ridley was there, knowing that he was behind the project, I said to myself, wow, I can’t wait to see that. I remember being in their office and peeking in the boxes to see artwork that Ridley was doing. Such powerful visions and images.

Once I read the screenplay, the first thing that I thought is, Will I be able to do this? I dreamed a lot before saying yes. It took a lot of time. One of the conditions was that I needed Ridley Scott’s blessing. Meaning that I needed to sit in front of him, looking at him in the eyes and saying, “You agree that I will take part in this dream with you.” And that was my only condition. I needed Ridley’s blessing.

So, to answer to your question, it came out of the blue. One day Andrew said to me, I need to see you. I was in New Mexico at the time. We sat together in a small coffee shop. He said, this is the screenplay for the next Blade Runner. I was sincerely moved.. [LAUGHS] Because just to have the chance to read that, I was so moved that he would trust me to read the screenplay and give my opinion about it. For me it was

Asking for Ridley Scott’s blessing, how did that meeting go? Ridley Scott is one of my heroes, he’s one of the best directors in film history. So to meet him was intimidating, at first. He told me the genesis of Blade

Runner for him, how he came up with those ideas. Where it came form, what was his goal. He said to me exactly what I needed to hear, which is that he would give me total freedom. But if ever I needed him I could call him any time to ask him questions about design, about concept art, about style, about actors – he was open to any kind of question. In fact he was there every time I needed him. At the end he said, looking at me in the eyes, shaking my hand, “Listen, it’s very simple. If you do your homework correctly, it can be fantastic. If you fuck it up, it’s going to be a disaster.” So that was the last thing he said to me. [LAUGHS] And I said, yeah, that’s honest. [LAUGHS] That’s exactly what he had to say. What about collaborating with Ridley and Hampton Fancher on the story. What was important to keep

Ridley wanted was to keep the mythology alive by not showing it. I needed to be very careful where I will put my camera. The first problem that I had to deal with was: I’m going to be in 2049, and what is in a Blade Runner universe? Because as we know, the first movie was set in 2019.

from the original movie? Was that discussed? The thing I felt that was the most important thing for Ridley, is not what is shown in the movie. It’s what he didn’t show that was important for him. Off-world. The mythology behind how the replicants are designed and built, etc. When you think about it, Blade Runner is a very intimate story with a lot of scope. You have that fantastic world around you, but you are always on the human point, at the human level, and you are always just behind Rick Deckard. It was one of the strengths and the genius of Ridley to approach the movie in this way. So it means that they found ways to make us feel how big is this world without showing it. I think that is still one of the big strengths of that film. I think what

We all know that it was prophetic in some ways, that there are a lot of things we saw in the first movie that are alive today. But, at the same time, it’s a different world. There was no Steve Jobs in the Blade Runner of 2019. So it meant that, for me, that I had to build an alternative universe. 2049 is the extension of the original Blade Runner. It’s not an extension of reality like the first Blade Runner was. The first Blade Runner was inspired by the end of the 70s. I inspired myself from Blade Runner. That is a choice that made sense to me, and made sense to Hampton Fancher as well. He said, “Listen, stop putting pressure on your shoulders. The first movie was a dream. We just dreamt a lot, and you have to do the same thing. Don’t try to think about the logic of it, just dream about it.” That was the best advice I ever received to make my guideline to make this movie. I will say also that I was moved, because from time to time I received poems from Hampton that I kept, as a source of inspiration. At that point, what were your biggest hopes or fears as you entered that mission? This movie is totally different from any other project I’ve done in my

life. I was used to creating worlds that were coming out of myself. I did an adaptation of a play. But still I had to create the images. Now the world was already designed by someone else, I was taking someone else’s dream. And that was a totally different experience. There’s such a responsibility. I never felt an artist take responsibility like that pushing on my shoulders. And it took me a lot of meditation to find freedom, to allow myself to do it. To let it go and just have fun with it. But it was a journey at the beginning to find my way. And I’m still grateful to Ridley for giving me that freedom, giving me the space to do it. The movie is the same kind of color palette but made by another painter. I don’t know how the world will react to that. What is the story of Blade Runner 2049 to you? For me it’s a story about the dangerous power of desires over reason. It’s also an exploration of what defines a human being. More specifically about memories. Are we humans without memories? Why was Ryan Gosling the best actor to play K? How did you develop the creative relationship with him on set? One thing that was suggested when I read the screenplay, was that K could be played by Ryan Gosling. I think it was Ridley’s idea. As soon as I read the screenplay, I said yes, immediately. There is nobody else. He’s someone

that can express everything just by moving an eyebrow, you know? I needed an actor that had an extreme intelligence and that sensibility to go through the story, making the character not a victim, but someone that wants to go through the wall of his own condition. When did you find out Harrison Ford was onboard? Right at the beginning when I read the screenplay. Harrison was a part of the project before I was. In fact he’s one of the reasons why I am here. Ridley was not available to direct the film because he was busy on another project and they needed a director, and

that’s when I came in. Harrison was part of the project from day one. It would not be possible to make a Blade Runner without Harrison Ford, of course. What was it like working with him and bringing back that iconic character? For me, it was very special journey to work with Harrison because he’s someone that is linked with the birth of my love of cinema right at the beginning. I was raised on Star Wars and Blade Runner and all of those movies. Harrison in the past 40 years is one of the biggest stars, someone that was part of all of our dreams when we were young. To meet him and to be in contact with

him was really a huge privilege but also I got to meet one of my childhood heroes. He broke the ice very quickly by being the most warm and charming, thoughtful, generous, humble artist I’ve ever met. And working with him was like going back to film school. He’s someone that has so much experience and gives so much thought to the acting process in a way that I very rarely encounter. For me it was a really beautiful and unique experience working with Harrison Ford. Tell us all the wonderful things you think of Ryan Gosling. Well, I would have never been able to do Blade Runner without Ryan.

Ryan was a real creative partner, and was my muse. He became a very good friend as we were going through this experience, because he brought me so much energy. As a director I always try to find a muse on a project. You don’t have always one, but when you find one, it’s very powerful. That’s the dream, to find an actress or an actor that will become your main color, the soul that you are trying to capture with your camera. And Ryan became that muse very quickly. His passion, his relentless effort in making sure that we will nail it, always deeply moved me, because I felt it was important that we try to

make a great movie together. The chances of failure were huge. And we both, at the beginning, agreed that what we were doing was insane, was deeply exciting, that it was a privilege. But that we would do it as a pure artistic gesture. Because we had no idea how the world will react to it, and we agreed that it made sense to both of us, and we had the same view about it. Very intimate approach to this project. Talk about the female characters and actresses that played Luv and Joi. I’m grateful to the producers for allowing me to find the cast that I did. We went everywhere on the planet to try to find the best cast pos-

sible for the characters. I found in Europe, in the United States and in Cuba, actresses that are amongst the best artists I’ve ever worked with, and that are new voices that we will hear more and more from in the future. It’s rare as a director to feel you are witnessing the birth of the star they’re becoming. They are powerful women. I’m thinking about Ana de Armas, who plays Joi. She’s a Cuban actress that has all the qualities, the energy, the sensibility and the skills to play that very difficult character. Sylvia Hoeks plays Luv. Honestly one of the best artists I ever worked with in my life, and I can’t wait to see what she is going to do in the future, because I think she’s going to blow us all away... big time. She’s an actress with a lot of profoundness, a lot of strength and she is not afraid to go and do wild things. I had the privilege to work with Mackenzie Davis as well. When I decided to make Blade Runner, she was one of the first ones I approached. Because for me, Mackenzie is one of the best actresses coming out of her generation. She was the most obvious choice for me and she was the first that I proposed to the producers, once we had Ryan and Harrison of course. And then there was Carla Juri, an actress from Switzerland, who has skills like you rarely see in actors today. Very impressive. Again, she had done movies before in Europe, but I think that Blade Runner will be a good breakthrough for her.

What about Jared Leto joining the cast? When I read the screenplay, Francine Maisler, the casting director and I, had an epiphany. Wallace should be played by David Bowie. And we said to ourselves, that’s it. It’s him, it’s going to be a long shot to get him, but let’s try it. Davie Bowie is like an icon that could had inspired Blade Runner. It made total sense for us to try to bring him back in this world. As deeply painful as it was for all of us in the world to lose such a fantastic artist, I felt in an intimate way also that it was like we had a muse, an ideal. I had to find someone that would have the same qualities as David Bowie. Which is not easy to find, you know. That kind of striking magnetism, that madness behind the eyes, that wish to transform yourself and to create a character bigger than life. And then Jared Leto came onboard. I heard stories that one of the first things he did when he won his Academy Award was he went to Alcon and said, I want to be part of Blade Runner.” Jared was very interested to play that part. To play Neander Wallace is a very tough part, because it’s a character that will deal with an insane amount of dialogues. Very difficult to say. And I needed an actor that has a kind of strength to embrace those speeches and to bring them to life with poetry. And what can I say? I chose a rock star, and he just blew us away. It was

very impressive to see him working. You chose Dave Bautista for Sapper Morton and made some movie magic happen. Dave was one of the first names that came up, because he’s such a charismatic and strong presence. I needed someone that would be like a giant, but a gentle giant that can be also a scary giant. I needed someone that, when you see him at first, you have empathy for him. How does the new film relate to the original in terms of visual style? The original had an iconic look. How important was it for you to tie the two films together visually? That was one of the big challenges, to tie both movies visually, and at the same time create something that has its own identity. We all felt the same pressure and the same responsibility to honor the first movie, Ridley’s work, but at the same time to make our own movie coming out of this universe. So the good news is that the screenplay was allowing me to get out of Los Angeles. And that gave me the opportunity to think about what the world will look alike around the vicinity of the city. The areas around California, to dream about this place and to make sure that it will be logical from an aesthetic point of view. But at the same time it will bring a different look to the movie. There was one element that, for me, was deeply inspiring, and that was the fact that the climate will have

totally changed between both movies. First movie was more inspired by bad days in London where Ridley is coming from. Me, I’m coming from Montreal. So, the movie is more inspired by bad days in Montreal, where it’s all snow and sludge and cold. And that necessarily brought visually a difference in the atmosphere and in the color palette. And you bring us to Las Vegas, what can you say about that? One of the big challenges of the movie was to recreate another city. What would Las Vegas look like in 2049? And for that there was only one man that could give me the answer. I went back to the original creator of Blade Runner, the main dreamer, the architect of Blade Runner. I went back to Syd Mead. I felt that he was the only one who could bring Las Vegas into the Blade Runner universe. I met the master I explained my challenge and he agreed to help me. He brought back those insanely beautiful views of Las Vegas that I’m very proud of. And that I know that honestly, no matter what people think about the movie, I know that Las Vegas, the Las Vegas we created, is a Blade Runner Las Vegas. I’m very happy about that. [LAUGHS] Let’s talk about the sets. Whose idea was it to have these practical sets? It’s a decision that came early in the film process, that we would use as little green screen as possible. That we would use as many practical sets as possible, and real vehicles

as much as possible. Basically it was for my own mental sanity. I hate green screens. I’m not comfortable with that color, I’m not comfortable with what it means to work in a virtual world. I need tangible things. I need real objects, I need real props, I need real environments, because those environments will trigger ideas, will trigger shots, will inspire cinema. At the end of the day, my movies are inspired by actors. And those actors need to be fueled by a world. My movies are dreamed by actors first. And for me I need to give them all they could need to be inspired. So that’s why it’s the first thing that I decided with Roger Deakins, my cinematographer, to construct everything. We used very little green screen on the movie. Of course there will be CG in extension, because obviously you were creating a whole world. But, everything you are seeing in the movie is, at first glance, at the beginning, in the foreground, it’s real. That is a big victory and I’m grateful that we went in that direction. How was the work with Roger Deakins, on set and prior to shooting? Roger came onboard very early in the process because I was doing another movie and I felt I needed a lot of prep. And I wanted to have time to dream about the movie, to design the movie with a very, very small unit before I starting the official prep. I spent weeks in a little hotel room with Roger Deakins and my storyboard artist Sam, to story-

board the movie, to design and create the world that we will be in. So Roger was part of the birth of the cinematic language of Blade Runner 2049 from the start. So I felt that, at one point, in a great way for me, it was as much Roger’s movie as mine. And he cares about the movie as much as I do. I said to him, from the start, “For once, you could go an impressionistic way, you could let it go. You’re totally free. You can do whatever you want.” So I think that people will be blown away by what Roger Deakins did in Blade Runner 2049 because I think it’s among his best work. And we’re talking about the best work of one of the best cinematographers of all time. So honestly, people won’t be disappointed. Visually it’s very strong. How do you make advertising evolve in this new movie? Los Angeles in 2049 will look like the worst days of Beijing. Multiplied by ten. So it means that the atmosphere is so thick that you can project things and the world is in 3D. So the ads are not just huge billboards in 3D dimension, they are among us. We tried as we were designing the movie to do what they did in the first movie, which is to try to feel what it’s like in the world, what will happen in 30 years. And we met scientists, doctors, architects, computer designers. People that told us what they thought could be the future.

And that inspired a lot of the design of the movie. Talk about using miniatures in this movie. Talk about the process, and where did you use those? The dream was to do as much as possible in the practical way. To use as little CG as possible, that was my dream. It was a success sometimes, but sometimes less of a success. There’s always a link

with reality in every shot. But one thing that was difficult was finding out that the architecture I wanted to shoot doesn’t exist. To my great happiness, WETA in New Zealand agreed to build Los Angeles and to build some elements that will be seen in the movie as real miniatures. Those miniatures were gigantic. It’s very moving to see them building this world. But it’s striking, when you shoot real things, you feel it.

How do you imagine the world in 2049? A big problem today is that it is very difficult to dream about the future. All the sci-fi movies are dystopian. There is no more utopia, meaning a beautiful dream. It’s something that I’m asking myself, I should think about that, try to find a way just for myself or for other people to dream a bit in a positive way about the future. Because right now it’s like the

future is pretty frightening from a political view, and from an environmental climate view. Let’s say that we didn’t make things more bright, going from 2019 to 2049. It’s like the world just became more nightmarish. But there’s some good news: In 2049 we are still alive. [LAUGHS] So we are still there. That’s the only thing I can say. But I think we need more positive dreamers right now.



A DOUBLE PASS! Thanks to Sony Pictures and Gametraders, you could win a double pass to see Blade Runner 2049 - in cinemas 5 October. Watch the trailer here: and tell us what Ryan Gosling replies to Harrison Ford when he asks “what do you want?” while pointing the gun at him. Email your answer along with your name, age and address to

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This month some sci-fi trivia... One of the highest rated sci-fi movies on Rotten Tomatoes is E.T The Extra-Terrestrial released in 1982. Directed by Steven Spielberg in made $792 million at the box office!

The club scene in The Matrix was a real S&M club with real patrons who were asked to come in costume for the scene...

According to IMDb the most profitable science fiction film is Star Wars: The Force Awakens that grossed $939M and was the first of the new films directed by J.J. Abrams. Avatar comes in at number 2 and made $760M



Johnny Depp auditioned for the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future.

Every issue I search the globe for game and pop culture trivia, I get sent out across the globe, (first class) to scout the world of video games to bring you some fun facts. (Um... no. We gave you a crappy old laptop and told you to search the web... Ed.)

Some bloopers in sci-fi include the classic scene in Star Wars from 1977 where the Storm Trooper bangs his head on the door frame...

Images from Wikipedia.



Dir: Franklin J Schaffner

BLADE RUNNER 1982 Dir: Ridley Scott

Blade Runner, the neo-noir masterpiece. Blade Runner is just stunning from beginning to end. A great, thought provoking plot, awesome cast and some of the best visuals ever on screen. It cements Blade Runner at the top of my list. The detective story of Harrison Ford’s Deckard trying to track down rogue robots, who only want to know who they and why they are. It sets up the villains as truly sympathetic, and it makes them the most interesting part about the film. The final moments of Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty is one of my favourite scenes in all of cinema. His speech about life and death is just incredible and amazing testament to the script and to Hauer’s outstanding performance.

THE FIFTH ELEMENT 1997 Dir: Luc Besson

The Fifth Element is possibly the most fun and entertaining film on this list. Honestly its just so damn fun to watch! I love it in films where little explanation is offered and you just kind of have to roll with the punches. The Fifth element is one of those films. It just throws you head first into the utterly bizarre future and you have no choice or time to think about it. Ok, sure, they have flying cars, and there are weird aliens, and the church hides an alien prophecy, and a giant space monster... thing is coming for us. You just have to accept this vision, you have no choice or explanation. It’s just a joy. I love the show don’t tell approach. Its one of the few films you can tell Bruce Willis is actually having a good time.

The Planet of the Apes, a film that launched a massive sci/fi franchise that is still going today. The original film though is just a masterpiece of science fiction. Astronauts arrive on a strange planet to find humans enslaved to a race of intelligent apes. only to discover at the end of the film, (spoiler alert...) they have actually arrived in the future, where apes have taken over the planet. It is this twist that shocked the world and launched this series into the stratosphere. Before that point in the film it is just a seemingly run of the mill since fiction film. Then out of nowhere BOOM, it is the future. It adds so much to the overall drama of the plot and makes it all the more impactful and thought provoking. of the plot and makes it all the more impactful and thought provoking.

Science fiction is a one of a kind genre. It can take us to places that can only exist in our imaginations. It can show us the future be it bright and optimistic, or dark and frightening. It is a genre built for the screen. I’m going to take a look at my top five favourite sci/fi films and my five favourite sci/fi Tv shows.


Dir: Neill Blomkamp This is one of those films I knew I was going to like but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. It is just an incredible film. District 9 tells the story of a group of alien refugees that get stranded on earth and seek asylum in South Africa. We see the intense persecution these aliens suffer at the hands of human beings. They are filed into slum and basically left to rot. The film has an interesting take on the whole alien genre. The aliens are seen as persecuted and innocent, just wanting to survive. It is inspired by the true life horror of District 6 during the apartheid period in south African history. It stands as a fascinating social study using aliens as a metaphor.


Close Encounters still stands as one of my favourite films of all time. Spielberg knows who to draw us in. The story of seemingly regular people all connected through an experience they can’t understand, just trying to work out what is happening. Its simple and effective. The film presents us with a very optimistic view of aliens. Most sci/fi films see Aliens coming to kill us all. Close Encounters just shows us two species, wanting to communicate. It is an amazing film that is utterly captivating from beginning to end.


THE EXPANSE 2015-Present

The Expanse, or as I like to call it, ‘Game of Thrones in Space.’ The Expanse is the best science fiction show you haven’t watched yet. We are presented with a dark, political and intense vision of the future. We see The Earth and Mars locked in an intense cold war, with Earth being a capitalist superpower, and Mars a military dictatorship. Both superpowers are ready to strike each other at any moment, and in the middle we have the belters. The poor people who work in asteroid fields to mine frozen water. It’s a power keg ready to explode at any moment... And it sure does. The first season is half detective story, half military/spy tale. Both stories come together with shocking results as a sinister organisation has unleashed a terrifying new experimental weapon on the universe. Its damn good television.


1966-Present Ok, so Star Trek... So I just kind of mean ALL of Star Trek. The movies the many different TV versions. Just all of it. It’s fantastic. Star Trek presents us with one of the most optimistic versions of the future. Somehow we all just get along, well humans anyway. We as a society banded together with some of our space neighbours and are setting out to explore the universe. There is something so remarkably fun and joyous about that. Star Trek never fails to bring a smile to my face. It is just a joy to behold. It also gave us probably the greatest character in pop culture, Spock. Spock is possibly the most recognisable character in all of fiction. People who don’t know Star Trek know “live long and prosper”.

Ahh Firefly... The greatest heartbreak in television history. This show is good... DAMN GOOD! It takes us to a future that feels almost real. Dirty, hard work, the problems facing the characters isn’t aliens, or some greater than the human race issue, it’s literally, “I need a job”. Joss Whedon introduces us to the world of Firefly with great effect. Space cowboys just trying to make a living. The cast is brilliant and all become characters you fall in love with. Not to mention an amazing ship that just steals your heart. The show was unjustly canceled only one season in. Although we did get the feature film Serenity to more or less give us closure, we were all left wanting more... You can’t take the sky from us!


The Battlestar Galactica reboot could have easily failed, instead it soared. This show is the pinnacle of what good science fiction can be. It deals heavily with the idea of religion, artificial intelligence, politics, the military industrial complex, well the list goes on and on really. The show starts off swinging and just gets better and better. An amazing cast, great special effects and killer twists, the show just keeps you on the hook all the way to the conclusion. Ultimately the show is a religious parable, and a cautionary tale. The human beings believe in many gods while their robot enemies worship one true god. As a robot really can only worship its creator. This religious conflict explodes onto the TV screen and is simply a must watch.


2016-Present Stranger Things was a wonderful surprise. Encapsulating everything about the 80’s that we loved and polishing it into one smooth sci/fi package. The show became an instant phenomenon. The quality of the show comes down to the clever writing of The Duffer Brothers as well as the performances of one outstanding cast. The elements come together in one insanely addictive TV show. I just needed to know what was going to happen next. Coming from the Twilight Zone school of sci/fi we see a group of children squaring off against a sinister government agency while searching for their missing friend trapped in a nightmarish alternate dimension. The big foe of course, one of the denizens of the nightmare world, trying to break through into ours. Great science fiction fun.


YOUR SAY MOVIES & Tv : obituaries

The Saw Is Family Remembering Tobe Hooper

Yet again sadly we lost another master of the horror genre. Tobe Hooper was an astonishing director who created possibly the most terrifying film in the genre. With a title like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, how could you go wrong. It evokes such incredible imagery, matched only by the sheer ferocity of the film itself. Tobe created a true American nightmare. Texas Chainsaw presents us with the degradation of the American dream. The film is a product of its time and it’s environment. Vietnam was in full swing. The summer of love had ended with the Manson Family and the flower generation were left shell shocked. Along comes Tobe Hooper with his nightmare take on America. A group of teenagers torn apart and literally

eaten by a family of cannibalistic serial killers. He gave us Leatherface a real nightmare come alive. A serial killer that literally wears his victims. He is also seemingly suffering from some form of mental disability. He is almost as much a victim of his family as the teenagers are. The film is just layered and subtle. It is harsh and feels icky to watch. The dinner scene is still one of the most frightening scenes ever put to film. He also directed Texas Chainsaw 2 which is a wickedly funny film that is very under rated. He showed that he had a sense of humour and was more than happy to make fun of his own monsters. Tobe knew how to create tension

“I don’t believe in using too much graphic violence, although I’ve done it. It’s better to be suggestive and to allow the viewer to

fill in the blanks in their minds.”


and fill the audience with dread. Sadly he never really got the credit he deserved. He directed Poltergeist which is an incredible film yet he had his credit seemingly stripped with rumours that Spielberg had actually directed the film, and his career never really seemed to reach the heights a man of his talent deserved. His other really notable film work was the adaptation of Salems Lot, one of Stephen King’s best tales. He brought vampires into the home and made them scary again. Ultimately Tobe will always be remembered as the man who created The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Which is a legacy that will live on for years to come. He manifested our nightmares. RIP Tobe Hooper.

The Dead Will

Walk The Earth

Remembering George A. Romero

In July we lost one of the great gentlemen of horror. George A. Romero is the man who created the zombie film. His film Night of the Living Dead was a game changer in cinema. It presented us with a bleak vision of a world torn apart when the dead return to life to eat the living. He showed us a horror film where there were no good guys or bad guys, simply the living and the dead. He introduced us to the first Afri-

can-American protagonist in a film. That’s right the hero of this horror was a black man. This had never been done before. George never thought he was making a statement, yet he did. George continued his work in the zombie genre with Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. He was known as

“My stories are about humans and how they react, or fail to react, or react stupidly. I’m pointing the finger at us, not at the zombies. I try to

respect and sympathise with the zombies as much as possible.” - GEORGE A. ROMERO

the king of the zombies. However some of his other films are well worth looking at. Creepshow is an amazing film, his partnership with Stephen King showed the dark sense of humour. Martin took a unique and incredibly intelligent look at the vampire genre. The Crazies set us up with the viral outbreak sub genre of zombie films. More than just a director he was always described as a nice guy. Genuine. In interviews he was always insightful and funny. He always made appearances and worked hard to be there for his fans. He was a gentleman of horror. Dawn of the Dead may stand has his masterpiece. It is an exceptionally good film. His commentary on our flippant and consumer driven society was ahead of its time. It still stands as a powerful and thought provoking film. We have lost a master of horror. Without him we wouldn’t have things like The Walking Dead or 28 Days Later or World War Z. He was a legend of horror and people will continue to find his work both insightful and terrifying. RIP George A. Romero



The Gamer The time for my Brisbane trip was here and while I was excited to be travelling interstate and seeing family, I was mostly excited about heading to Blade Electronics. I packed my copy of SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millennium, as well as my clothes, boarded the plane was met at the airport by my aunt. While there was a list of things that my family wanted me to do with them, they continued to work during the day, so my time was my own for the most part. On the first day I caught a bus to Stones Corner, the other side of the city to where I was staying, and found my way to Blade Electronics. I remember it being a small shop front with some imported consoles scattered around the place. A Virtual Boy was on display, and I spoke to the owner about my own Virtual Boy back home. He was surprised to learn that I was there for a Neo Geo Pocket. I mean, I could have just had him send me one via mail order, I didn’t have to travel to another state to get it. This is just a thing I have, where I put off buying a console because I want to buy it in person. I did the same thing with the PC Engine Duo RX that I purchased in Japan in 2016. I had plenty of opportunities to buy one online, but I wanted to do it in a Japanese video game store. Anyway, back to the year 2000...


I purchased my camouflage blue Neo Geo Pocket and a copy of Gals’ Fighters. I wanted to buy King of Fighters R2, but they didn’t have it in stock. The shop owner assured me that I would enjoy Gals’ Fighters, so I thought ‘why not?’ I also purchased an AC adapter, as it’s always good to have something to use incase you run out of batteries. After I made my purchases I boarded the bus back, exploring the console during the long ride home. I had bought SNK vs Capcom with me, and plugged that into my new console first. I relished being able to use tag team ups like Terry Bogard and Ken Masters, or Chun Li and Mai Shiranui. I also still began the long process of unlocking characters like Akuma, Geese Howard, Violent Ken and Orochi Iori. The control stick on the console looks a little awkward, but your thumb sits on it nicely, and the clicky controls work very well. As a beat em up the game is very satisfying, and I still go back to every now and again. Though I have purchased other coloured Neo Geo Pockets and games over the years, that camouflage blue console is the one that currently sits in my bedside table and gets played when I feel like some handheld fighting. As for Gals’ Fighters, the store clerk wasn’t wrong about me enjoying it. The game play is identical to SNK vs Capcom, but it’s much faster! The

r diaries:

2000 - 2001


roster includes female characters from previous SNK titles, including Mai, Athena, Nakoruru and more. Also hidden away is the mysterious Miss X, who is actually Iori Yagami from The King of Fighters in drag. After playing this for a while, it was hard to play SNK vs Capcom again, being that it’s so much slower.

In Brisbane I checked out some other gaming stores and found a copy of a Japanese World War 2 game for Super Famicom, and Star Wars Rogue Squadron for N64. Rogue Squadron offers an immersive Star Wars experience like no other at that time. It’s not a simulator like the X-Wing and TIE Fighter games, it’s more arcadey than that, but you still feel yourself getting sucked right into the Star Wars universe. The music and graphics are amazing, and the controls are very precise.

Upon my return home I hit the internet hard, looking for more Neo Geo Pocket accessories and games. I managed to score a copy of King of Fighters R2, which uses the same game engine as the other 2 fighters I already owned. There are some hidden characters, and alternative versions of characters, but that’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s a common game, so if you have 2 consoles and a link cable then you should be able to find 2 copies fairly easily and cheaply.

I discovered one of the few RPGs for the system, Biomotor Unitron. In this game you use a robot to fight, and along the way you upgrade its parts to increase its stats. The game looks quite Pokemon-esque, though at the time I hadn’t experienced the Pokemon video games outside of a brief stint with a Gameboy emulator. My full Pokemon experience was to come in the following year, but for now Biomotor Unitron fulfilled my RPG cravings. Another game I purchased was Rockman Battle and Fighters. I purchased this game online, along with King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise from Burn Electronics. Similar name but different store. I believe they were both based in Brisbane too, but both are long since gone so I can’t check. Rockman Battle and Fighters is a port of the 2 Megaman arcade games that were released in the arcade on CPS2 hardware. Bright and colourful games, they were really only arcade versions of the Megaman boss battles. I had played them to death on my CPS2 emulator, but wanted to have a version I could take with me. Playing as Megaman, Bass or Protoman you fight the boss characters from a series of Megaman titles which you choose. It’a a fun game in short bursts, but not really something that’s going to take up hours of your time in one sitting. I would beat the game, then move on to something else, picking it up again when the mood took me. King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise is a Mario Party style board game featuring characters from the long running beat em up franchise. It looks like a lot of fun, and it’s nice

Not long after I returned from Brisbane James came to visit. I introduced him to Amy, and I met his girlfriend as well. We went out to lunch and caught up, though I can barely remember what we spoke about. To date it is the last time we have actually seen each other, though we keep in contact on Facebook today. That Christmas Amy’s parents surprised me with a copy of Star Wars Episode 1 Monopoly. I didn’t have many board games, and this was an expensive and kind gesture from my potential in laws. Unfortunately things were about to fall apart shortly afterwards. In January 2001 my life was turned upside down as Amy decided to end the relationship. Her reasoning was that I didn’t get along with her friends, and that she wanted to focus on her education. That last reason seemed like a cop out, but I was confused as I thought I got along with them. Anyway, that left me single again, though it wasn’t to be for long. I drowned my sorrows in more online purchases, and game hunting. I continued to venture out to Cash Converters stores, and I discovered a small video game shop on Port Road. It was closing down when I got there, but they had a bunch of games and an Acton Replay Mark 3. I didn’t own an Action Replay at this point, and I thought that the Mark 3 would be the best unit to have. I took it home, plugged it in and it didn’t

work! As the shop had closed there was no way I could get my money back. I still own the cartridge, so I might see if it can be fixed. Ending the relationship with Amy #2 was more amicable than Amy #1. I don’t mind admitting that I was devastated, but she said she wanted to remain friends and I took her at her word. Within 3 months I was with someone else who I will refer to as *Evie, though this isn’t her real name. I was at an emotional low point when Evie paid me the attention that I sought. We started seeing each other and within a week she had broken up with her current boyfriend and we were dating. She lived with her father, and asked me to move in with them too. It was all moving very quickly, but I wasn’t in the drivers seat at this stage and was allowing myself to be swept up the mayhem. Evie didn’t have a job and used to sleep all day and spend all night on the internet. Even though I had a job, it was a lifestyle that I quickly adapted to and I found myself often tired. Still, with the personal crisis ongoing the video game collecting continued. Evie had some retro games herself, some of which had been taken from her ex boyfriend. Among them were some Sega Master System titles. This wasn’t a system I was collecting for at that time, but I promptly ordered a Master System 1 on Ebay, along with Wonderboy 3. Both arrived and I spent a few weeks getting through the game, eventually giving up at the Lion Man stage. I would return to it later on, but on a different platform.

2000 - 2001

and colourful. The problem is that the game is in Japanese, so it’s unplayable to someone who doesn’t understand the language. I still own the game and would like the opportunity to play it at some point. It depends on whether I can learn the language or not I suppose.

For the first few weeks we were together, Evie and I played The Secret of Mana, a game that we both owned. I’m not sure why we stopped playing after such a short time, but we did. For the 12 1/2 years of our relationship we never ended getting that game back out and finishing it. Evie introduced me to the world of Pokemon, something that I had dismissed as childish at the time. We went to see the 3rd movie in cinemas, and immediately ordered it on DVD from the US (as it was already available there). I also started importing the anime series on DVD and catching up on the adventures of Ash and co. There were some interesting anime trailers on the DVDs, including one for a movie called Ranma 1/2: Big Trouble in Nekonron, China. The musical track in the trailer invoked a sense of excitement, and I was keen to find out more about this series. Evie had her copy of Pokemon Red, so I purchased a copy of Blue so that we could play together. I was always a fan of JRPGs and Pokemon is one of the finest on the market. While it is often criticised for its childish cutesiness, there is a solid game underneath it all. It’s also quite a mathematical game once you know the mechanics, though it would be a while before I learned the ins and outs of IV and EV training. On my copy of Pokemon Blue I was simply trying to ‘catch em

all’, and that was almost exactly what I did. Of course, I was unable to catch Mew as he was a special event Pokemon, and the events had long since ended. Evie had one on her cartridge, and she had her ex boyfriend’s copy of Pokemon Silver. She suggested I try and copy his Mew over from that game, but I never ended up doing so. Evie also introduced me to the Dragon Ball franchise. Dragon Ball Z was currently showing on Cartoon Network, and they were up to the Namek arc and the battle with Freeza was about to begin. I remembered playing Dragon Ball Z video games in the past, though none of the golden haired warriors were present. Evie explained the Super Saiyan form to me, and found pictures showing Goku, Vegeta and the other Saiyans in Super Saiyan mode. Everything started to click into place, and I became absorbed in the show. Every night I would finish work and go to Evie’s house where she would be watching TV, and join her for Dragon Ball Z. That’s it for me this month. If you want to check out some of the other things I do I can be found on Twitter @Dizrythmia I am also part of the Retrospekt group who can be found at *Evie = Evil



Scenery and Terrain... BY BEN MAKEPEACE From the outset we wanted to make sure our scenery was vibrant, colourful, and provided variety for our games. We already had a good collection of stone rubble, trees, and some older buildings from years gone by. We decided to update those old buildings, so they were cleaned up, had details added or replaced, and were repainted to be a little more colourful. We also planned to add a range of inspiring and detailed buildings to really enrich our gaming experience. This article is more of a gallery, with small explanations offered for each building. To see more of our collection of terrain head to: or to check out nearly 300 photos (at the time of writing) of our activities.

PLATFORMS We have two platforms that we built; a simple low box about 3” high with “Mordheim” on it, and one with battlements and a sewer tunnel underneath. These provide vital vertical variation; height in this game helps to provide really interesting and dynamic in-game tactical options, and opportunities for great photos!

COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS Sean built a number of commercial, or merchant buildings: Dwarven Forge, Moneylender’s House, a Pub, a purple Box Office, and the so-called ‘Forest Ruin’. These provided some identifiable elements to games, “I’m coming up through the Moneylender’s house to take out those warriors on the Box Office balcony.” is far more immersive than, “I’m moving through this building to take out those guys in that building over there”.

TENTS Being a circus campaign, we had to build tents. They had to be bright, colourful, and game-friendly. Ben made up templates and then copied to make mass production easy. The template is available if you want to get in touch with us.


OLD BUILDING REJUVENATION We updated and re-painted a number of Ben’s old buildings, giving them a brighter stone-and-terracotta look. These are based off of the original cardboard buildings from the Mordheim box set. I had also made a 3-story building, a large low building in the same style, and a large wealthy manor-house. These three buildings were also updated, but the wealthy manor house got an opulent teal and turquoise colour scheme, and the inside filled with fancy rugs!

STONE, RUBBLE, FOREST We are able to use the stones and rubble to represent destroyed buildings, or create a more ‘out of town’ gaming environment. We use the Empire in Flames supplement for games which do not take place in the city itself. It’s also great to have lots of trees on hand as they fill in gaps on a table nicely.

TOWER BRIDGE Ben built this specifically to provide more height to our games, and flexibility. It’s about 10” tall, and comes in two halves allowing a bridge to be made, or each side used individually. We often place them further apart and put walkways between the two halves. Many windows, and flat roofs, make this very playable.

“It’s about 10” tall, and comes in two halves allowing a bridge to be made, or each side used



WIZARD’S TOWER A must-have building, we wanted this to be off-the-wall strange, and very tall. It boasts 26” to the top, and because the stairs, and platforms are all accessible from the outside we can easily link multiple levels out to other buildings using walkways. This means it doesn’t create camping locations or bottlenecks. Building this was a collaboration, as there was a lot of work involved! Sean painted up the crowning element; a gold planetarium which really completes the idea of an eccentric wizard living in a physics-defying tower.

CANAL Sean decided a water feature was important, and it’s been really great to have in games. It breaks things up, creates an open space which presents very real tactical challenges for warbands.

TOWN CENTRE Another of Ben’s old pieces, finally completed and given a new lease on life. Old miniatures were plundered for statues, and hedges were cut from brillo pads. The final touch of bunting was just made from twine and painted paper glued on. A nice focal setting for particular scenarios requiring a nexus for the action, or a locational fulcrum for the story to pivot upon.

THE CIRCUS IS COMING PART 3 TREEHOUSE This piece was started by Sean, and finished by Ben. We let the silly run wild, and had a huge amount of fun building it. We never intended for a tree to be growing through it, but there it is! In our campaign, and on social media, this terrain pieces has become an undeniable crowd favourite. It is also great to play on with multiple levels, and good walkway access all around.

WORK IN PROGRESS We’re still building new terrain. We are currently painting a Vampire Manor, and building a hotel. We use a lot of foam-core and balsa wood, as well as raiding our bitz box for interesting details.


If you have any questions on how we did any of this, please get in touch via Instagram or Tumblr. We’re happy to share the hobby-love!

“We can’t stress how


having lots of walls and walkways is. We would have almost 30 of each.”

Each scenario we try to give the board a ‘real’ setting, something that makes sense with streets, town squares, even a sense of districts. This helps immerse you in the game, and provides a very photogenic setting. We put small details around on all our buildings such as posters, shrubs, rubble, stains, and skeletons. This just helps reinforce the ruined nature of a city that was a booming trade centre, but then got hit by a twin-tailed comet! It’s important to create all sorts of interesting angles around your board. Get down low and try to get a ‘model’s eye view’ when you’re setting it all up. We also have lots of walls, statues, and walkways to place around the battlefield to give tactical options, provide cover, prevent bottlenecks, and support vertical movement around the board. We can’t stress how important having lots of walls and walkways is. We would have almost 30 of each.



10 years later... Jigsaw One of the highest grossing horror franchises of all time is back, taking the Jigsaw killer’s signature brand of twisted scenarios to the next level. After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement find themselves chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade and embroiled in a new game that’s only just begun. Is John Kramer back from the dead to remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a killer with designs of their own? JIGSAW creeps into cinemas November 2, with Halloween advance screenings on October 31.


A DOUBLE PASS! Thanks to Picture This and Gametraders, you could win a double pass to see Jigsaw - in cinemas 2 November. Watch the trailer here:


and tell us what the sticker on the tape recorder says. Email your answer along with your name, age and address to



player profile interview with ANJA

Welcome to Live Anja! How long have you been playing and what got you started? I’ve been playing MTG for about 2 years now. I played a different card game initially and a few of my friends got me to come along to a FNM session and try it out. I haven’t looked back since!

their library and whoever has the highest converted mana cost takes an extra turn after this one. It’s a really fun card because you never know when your next turn will be, so you have to really think about your plays and what effects they’ll have in the long run because you might be waiting ages for your next turn. Any tips for new players?

ing or just particular rules in certain cards, they’re always willing to lend you a hand. I know when I started out I was asking questions about every two seconds! It does take a while to get the hang of the game, but don’t let that discourage you, it’s more than worth it in the end! What’s coming up for you - any more tournaments planned?

Do you have a favourite card(s)? My favourite card would have to be Timesifter, it’s an artifact from the mirrodin set and I play it in EDH format. At the start of each upkeep, each player exiles the top card of

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! In my experience, the magic community are really nice and want to help new players rather than bring them down. Whether it be for help on deck construction, plays, draft-

Well I’m hoping to have another crack at the Sydney GP in 2018. The last time I played there I didn’t fare so well, but it was still an amazing experience.

...Trading cards, tournaments, accessories & more. Get it all at Gametraders.



QUEENSLAND CHERMSIDE Yu-Gi-Oh - Sunday 3pm & Wednesday 6:45pm Cardfight!! Vanguard - Wednesday 6:30pm Pokémon - Saturday 3pm Magic the Gathering - Tuesday & Friday 6:30pm

MORAYFIELD Magic the Gathering Modern - Wednesday 7pm Magic the Gathering Standard - Friday 7pm Yu-Gi-Oh - Thursday 6pm & Sunday 2pm Pokémon - Saturday 12pm Magic the Gathering Learn to Play - Saturday 12pm LARP Tournaments - Saturday 6pm

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY HYPERDOME Yu-Gi-Oh - Saturday 10am Pokémon - Saturday 2pm

NEW SOUTH WALES BLACKTOWN Dungeons & Dragons TCG - Saturday 10am Yu-Gi-Oh - Saturday 10:30am Magic the Gathering - Thursday 6:30pm Pokémon - Saturday 11am

MACARTHUR SQUARE (CAMPBELLTOWN) Magic the Gathering - Monday 5:30pm Final Fantasy & Super Smash Bros - Tuesday 5:30pm Yu-Gi-Oh - Wednesday 5:30pm Dungeons & Dragons / Board Games / Pokkén Tournament - Friday 5:30pm Pokémon - Saturday 5:30pm

PARRAMATTA Yu-Gi-Oh - Wednesday 6pm Magic the Gathering - Friday 6pm Cardfight!! Vanguard - Wednesday 6pm

GAMETRADERS LIVE PENRITH Cardfight!! Vanguard - Saturday 5pm Magic the Gathering - Friday 7pm Pokémon - Saturday 12pm X-Wing - Wednesday 7pm Dragon Ball Z - Thursday 6pm Force of Will - Friday 7:30pm Buddyfight - Saturday 12pm My Little Pony - Saturday 5pm Demo board games from Wednesday through to Saturday.

GAMETRADERS LIVE HORNSBY Yu-Gi-Oh - Tuesday 4pm & Sunday 11am Pokémon - Sunday 2pm Magic the Gathering (Draft) - Wednesday 4pm & 7pm Hearthstone Fireside Gathering + Tournament - Wednesday 6pm Board Games - Thursday 7pm Magic the Gathering (FNM) - 6pm (Standard, Modern, Draft) Super Smash Bros - Saturday 1pm Magic the Gathering (Commander) - Saturday 2pm For more special events and tournaments please visit:

SOUTH AUSTRALIA INGLE FARM No current tournaments.

MARION Pokémon - Saturday 2pm Cardfight!! Vanguard - Tuesday 6pm Yu-Gi-Oh - Wednesday 6pm Final Fantasy - Wednesday 6pm Magic the Gathering - Friday 6pm X-Wing - Every second Monday from 2pm. Check with staff for details.

SEAFORD FREE Monday Night Magic and Vanguard - 6pm (5:30pm registration) Magic the Gathering Modern and Commander - Tuesday 6pm (5:30pm registration) Friday Night Magic - Friday 6pm (5:30pm registration) Cardfight!! Vanguard - Wednesday & Friday 6pm (5:30pm registration) Yu-Gi-Oh! - Thursday 6pm (5:30pm registration) Pokémon - Sunday 1pm (12:30 registration) Casual events on Saturdays! Check our Facebook page for details.

MT. BARKER Yu-Gi-Oh - Sunday 2pm Magic the Gathering Commander - Wednesday 6pm Magic the Gathering Standard - Saturday 1pm Friday Night Magic Draft - Friday 6pm Casual X-Wing, Magic & Board Games - Thursdays from 6pm

SALISBURY Final Fantasy - Tuesday 6pm (5:30pm registration) Magic the Gathering - Friday 6pm (5:30pm registration) Magic the Gathering (Casual) - Thursday 5:30pm Yu-Gi-Oh - Saturday 1pm (11:30am registration) Pokémon - Sunday 12pm (11:30am registration) Cardfight!! Vanguard - Wednesday 6pm


Tournaments are subject to change. Please check with your local store on tournament times before attending. Visit to find your local stores Facebook page.






YOUR SAY gaming



You may have noticed over the last three decades that Nintendo makes some pretty decent video games from time to time. There’s a reason why the company has stayed relevant in the video game industry since the early 1980s, while countless other developers, publishers, and console manufacturers have come and gone, many leaving little to no lasting impact on the industry as a whole. Simply put, Nintendo is arguably the single most important company in the history of video games.

While I do criticize Nintendo on occasion for some of its decisions and outdated practises, I will never take away from it the fact that no other entity in the world of video games has the same kind of exceptional track record as it does when it comes to making great video games. From both creative and financial standpoints, Nintendo has produced some of the best video games of all time ever since it first entered the industry, and has continued to do so for what is now its seventh home console generation in a row.

Nintendo has always had a knack for making games that have a style and feel that is wholly unique, but have you ever considered what exactly it is that makes many of the company’s games so great to begin with? What is it in them that makes them stand out from the games of almost any other developer in the world? The answer is surprisingly simple, which is perhaps why a lot of people don’t really notice or think about it. Nintendo makes games by first ensuring the core fundamentals are rock solid, and then creates every aspect of the game around those fundamental elements.

Building a Game Around a Mechanic When you stop and think about many of Nintendo’s greatest games, you may begin to notice something interesting about them. A lot of them are built entirely around one strong core mechanic, which is then stretched out and given multiple layers to make it as diverse and interesting as possible. Compare this to a handful of other big video games and developers and you’ll spot that many of them introduce a new mechanic, use it, and then discard it within a single level. For many developers, game mechanics are no longer a thing to build something interesting and long-lasting around, but instead are a thing to advertise in trailers and on conference floors. They want to be able to say that their game has dozens of different types of gameplay, even though maybe only one or two of them are explored to any notable degree. As an example, just think of almost any Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed or Battlefield game from the last five to ten years and count

the number of different gameplay types and elements that are introduced and either completely discarded or made pointless after just one level. It no longer feels like the teams behind these titles are building an interesting and engaging gameplay experience, but instead are filling in the required number of different gimmicks for marketing purposes. Nintendo on the other hand has, from the very beginning up to the present day, created entire games based around one core idea that carries the whole game. Naturally, the most famous example is the entire Super Mario Bros. series. When you strip down Super Mario Bros. to its very core, every game is fundamentally about jumping and what can be done with that one simple mechanic. In Super Mario Bros. for the NES, every aspect of the gameplay revolves around this one mechanic. To break the blocks, Mario jumps. To defeat enemies, he jumps on them. To finish a level he has to jump and touch the flagpole at the

end. To defeat Bowser at the end of each world Mario usually has to jump on the axe to drop the bridge and make Bowser fall into lava. Even when the game introduces enemies that can’t be defeated in this manner, it still revolves around using the same mechanic, albeit in a different way (namely avoiding enemies by jumping over them). Mario is defined by that one basic ability which he uses for practically everything. While later games in the series have become increasingly more complex over time, they still mostly involve variations of that one core mechanic that was introduced over 30 years ago. Super Mario 64 made the mechanic more complex by adding a new dimension to the gameplay, and Super Mario Galaxy added further layers to it thanks to gravity and planetoids, but all of them are still fundamentally games about jumping. On a somewhat related note, go and take a look at the box art for each of the mainline Super Mario games and you’ll notice one thing they all share in common; each features an image that focusses on the game’s central mechanic, immediately highlighting what players can expect from it. Mario is, of course, not the only Nintendo series that does this. Luigi’s Mansion for the GameCube is another good example of a game build almost entirely around a single mechanic, which in this case is vacuuming. Luigi uses this mechanic to do almost everything, from solving puzzles to fighting ghosts. In a 2013 interview with IGN, Ryuichi Nakada, one of the su-

pervisors on Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, said the following about the title: You use the vacuum to solve the puzzles all through the mansion. You can use it in all kinds of ways to navigate and interact with the ghosts. It’s really a game about using the vacuum. For a more recent example we can look at Splatoon, Nintendo’s rather unusual take on the online multiplayer shooter genre. Even though the gameplay allows the player to approach rounds in different ways, every single aspect of it once again comes back to one simple mechanic/feature. In this case ink. To win a match in Splatoon you need to cover the map with your team’s ink; in order to move faster around the map the players can swim around in their team’s ink, while the opposing team’s ink will slows them down; your weapons replenish by swimming in the ink, and so on. It’s a simple, basic premise that is used for practically every aspect of Splatoon’s gameplay. Of course, Nintendo isn’t the only company that has made games based on one, strong central mechanic. It’s just the most notable user of this design philosophy. Portal is an obvious example of this type of design philosophy in the AAA arena, and indie developers in the last five to ten years have also used it to great effect in a large number of games.



Everything in the Service of Gameplay There are countless different ways to approach video game creation, and none are inherently better than the others. Some developers start with an idea for a story they want to tell, or maybe a theme they want to tackle. Others may come up with a cool visual style they want to use. Nintendo, however, generally starts by coming up with a fun and engaging way to play, and builds everything else to suit that specific type of gameplay. For example, in one installment of ‘Iwata Asks’ the developers of The Legend of Zelda series discussed how the series’ story and gameplay are created. They stated that initially the director comes up with a very broad outline for a story, upon

which they then develop interesting ways to play the game. Details of the story are then fleshed out to accommodate these gameplay elements, and not the other way around. Going back to the example of Splatoon, that game began life with the desire to create a title with a new type of structure and gameplay. The characters, aesthetic, and everything else about it came after the gameplay style had already been set in stone. The inklings themselves were created because they fit the game’s core concept of using colored ink to fight battles. Initially, the characters were just bland white blobs that lacked any other distinguishing characteris-

tics. As Satoru Iwata stated in another one of his ‘Iwata Asks’ segments, the way Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo EAD create games is that function defines form, not the other way around, and Splatoo followed this same philosophy. Of course we must remember that not all Nintendo games are made the same way either. The company has numerous different studios and creators under its wings, each creating games in their own style. Mark Brown made a wonderful video on this topic, which I strongly recommend you check out below, where he breaks down the 4 step level design philosophy of Koichi Hayashida, the director of Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Galaxy 2.



Nintendo Way

Nintendo has always done things differently from nearly all other major developers around the world, and industry trends rarely have any bearing on the kinds of games it creates. This has allowed Nintendo to remain relevant in an business that commonly sees other companies being bought out or going under because they’re unable to adapt as the industry changes around them. Nintendo has never really worried about that, although that’s not always been to its benefit.

The thing is, Nintendo makes mistakes just like every other developer and publisher in the world. Its development teams don’t always produce great or successful games, no matter how talented the people behind them are. It’s also stubbornly set in its ways and this has resulted in practices and decisions that are and have been woefully behind the times in more ways than one. There are times when Nintendo deserves to be criticized for what it does, no matter how great much of its output is.

So no, Nintendo isn’t perfect, and its way of doing things isn’t the only right way, but even with this in mind Nintendo has managed to develop a huge number of the greatest games of all time, and continues to do so to this day. Nintendo knows how to make fun, unique and just plain excellent games, and one of the main reasons for this is that it approaches the art of game development differently from almost anyone else. Its teams don’t always succeed in what they’re trying to do, but when they do, the end results are often absolutely amazing. That is the Nintendo way.



RUINER Keeping with the theme of cyberpunk, we’ve got a juicy little preview of an upcoming release called RUINER by Reikon Games, and published by Devolver Digital.

The game takes place in the year 2091, in the city of Rengkok. You’re a sociopath with some seriously wicked cybernetic implants that are hacked by a guy who calls himself “The Wizard”. His hostile takeover of your implants forces you do his bidding, which is to kill a high profile corporate target. Your implants provide some wicked abilities like increased agility and precision, allowing you to mop up targets by zipping around the room in a flash of neon red lights. By the time you’ve enacted your punishment on those who stand before you, they’ve already lost a few litres of blood. RUINER features brutal and unforgiving gameplay with each fight encounter. Using the vast amount of skills and perks at your disposal, you will need to meticulously plan out your attack to deal as much damage as possible, whilst avoiding taking damage, all with minimal time to think about it. You’ve got to be three steps ahead, and will need to be quick on your toes to react should the slightest combat element change.

You can expect an cyberpunk-anime themed aesthetic throughout the course of the game, with an new retro wave inspired soundtrack to boot. If you’re a fan of this 80s themed music, neon lights, and one liners, then be sure to put this one on your hit list.


The game officially drops on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (via Steam and GOG) on September 26th, 2017. You can check out our full review over on after that date, and I’ll be streaming it on Twitch over at



YOUR SAY gaming

METRO RETURN WWW.STICKYTRIGGER.COM This month I played my first Metroid title. It’s a weird realisation to think I had never done so before and that didn’t really hit me until I was midway through Metroid: Samus Returns on 3DS. I’ve come into gaming relatively late in life compared to most people and I’m always aware that there’s so much I’ve missed but for Metroid it feels different. One of my favourite genres of games is Metroidvania. I’m intimate with the 2D action platforming which drip feeds abilities to unlock previous dead ends and I love it. Games that do it well like Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight make my heart sing and come critically acclaimed so I know I’m not alone. Yet when it comes to Metroid games, one half of the genre’s very namesakes, my experience is almost null. This isn’t entirely my fault, Nintendo put the franchise on a shelf years ago, especially if we are talking

2D. Offerings to get newcomers into Metroid games just aren’t that accessible and the old school love of the series can make jumping in now a daunting situation to be in. I was nervous about Samus Returns, a remake of what I’ve heard is one of the series worst? On a console that seems to be on its last legs? Is this where I really want to enter the Metroid world? The more I thought about all the potential problems the more anxious I became. No one really asked for this, I mean sure fans have been begging for Metroid, but not like this. When Prime was announced at E3 there were cheers of elation but this title was purposefully revealed quietly in the following treehouse event. Even Nintendo wasn’t sure enough to make it a part of their spotlight. I continued to consider the games I love, the ones that carry the mantle of Metroidvania and I thought


about what would make this different for me. I’d be able to grasp some of the origin, join the Metroid conversation, meet a well loved character and despised enemy and explore their world. And that’s where I started to find my excitement for a Metroid title, regardless of size in the idea of a new rich scifi world. Space is one of my favourite things, perhaps not truly space as we know it but the idea of space, the potential. Science fiction allows the mind to wander into the greatest unknown, impossible worlds with unthinkable creatures and none of the gravity of Earth and its problems. Even if this iteration of Metoid wasn’t going to be one of the best I’d be getting one of my favourite genres wrapped up in one of the best possible settings and it’s impossible to not at least buy a ticket for the hype shuttle at that point. Trickles of information started to come through, hands on previews, new trailers, hell even special edition console. If Nintendo were willing to market so hard maybe they weren’t phoning it in. Being a 3DS game not many high res images attached to the title exist, but one started to be plastered everywhere that would become the cover image. The iconic picture of Samus on one knee with her rocket- arm aimed upwards in full shining armour with unbelievable pauldrons. Behind her is the glow of a planet with stars littering the space above. It’s an impossible, glamor-

ized, even somewhat cartoonified vision and it cut right to my black hole of a heart. It was a fleeting moment of total elation. Stupidly I thought to myself ‘this is going to be amazing’ and I quickly realised how predictable an idiot I am. I’m eagerly awaiting the new Star Trek series despite having no confidence it will be any good. I will always believe in any Mass Effect title. My ears so easily prick up when someone describes something that would otherwise be a bore adds ‘but in space’ to their pitch and I know this about myself. Two of my eternal pleasures in life are space and Pokemon and I’m eternally being burned by my optimism for both. So I went in shields up and phasers set to stun. It’s never a good idea to go into a game review ready to hate it regardless of what it shows you, but I held the appropriate caution of someone negotiating with an unfamiliar species. With a quizzical brow I started the game with as much trepidation as possible and accidentally fell in love. This is Metroidvania, this is Metroid and despite not having much in way of story (which many Metroid fans will take as a good thing) I feel like the setting played a huge part. A game about exploration and discovering hidden paths makes so much sense in a totally unfamiliar world. I have no idea what will need to take out a red forcefield, but had it been a block of ice I’d be looking for fire. Not knowing what items I

was going to need to complete the task allowed me to be surprised and impressed with every new ability without my own notions getting in the way. Additionally seeing totally alien enemies means that you will have to learn how to deal with them from their physical and environmental cues rather than existing knowledge. Sci-fi makes Metroid and Metroid made metroidvania. Reviews are out, including my own and Metroid: Samus Returns is almost unanimously loved. I felt waves of understanding pour over myself as I played the familiar genre in foreign setting and knew this was how it all began. Samus feels right, her weapons and suit upgrades set the stage for world exploration and an almost 90’s pop sci-fi world encourages curiosity for what will unlock new puzzles. It feels so logical that this is where the genre began and I’m so glad I got to finally experience it.



YOUR SAY gaming

HELLBLAD SACRIFIC *Played on PS4 - May contain minor gameplay spoilers*

The warning before commencement of Hellblade proves how much of a challenge for some players this game may be. Hellblade is a game that I have been waiting for for 3 years. I would regularly check the internet for any updates on anything – any new picture, development information, release date information, gameplay. I had loved Ninja Theory’s game Heavenly Sword, and had loved their input into Capcom’s DMC, so I knew that Hellblade would be nothing short of amazing. The game finally released early August – 3 long years since it started. I was quick to play through the entire game and it is something I feel so strongly for that I offered to write a review. It’s important to realise that Hellblade is not a full length AAA game, but it is not quite Indie either. Its AAA quality and feel, but more indie in length.

The game focuses on Senua, a Celtic Pict warrior who struggles with psychosis in a world with strong beliefs in Norse mythology. Mental Health is such a sensitive issue for so many people, with stigmas and fears often attached. Mental Health is greatly misunderstood by a large portion of the population, so for a developer to create a game that truly focuses on the turmoils that can occur in Mental Health is a huge step forward. It’s a step towards a greater understanding and compassion of what people are going through, and it is hopefully a step towards people not telling others to just ‘snap out of it.’ Senua has a sad story, and she carriers her slain partners head with her, in the hopes to save his soul whilst not being defeated by ‘the Darkness’. The game captures what psychosis and mental health issues feel like, with the lines between reality and what is


in the mind heavily blurred. Players go through the game being somewhat uncertain as to what are real monsters, and what are manifestations of the demons Senua fights in her mind at any given time. The voices in Senua’s head add a touch and realism that can’t be put into words. These voices can be helpful and sometimes they will have the player questioning if they’re truly heading the right way. These voices are reminiscent of the voices many people hear on a daily basis – the voice that tells you to do something, then the voice that tells you to not do something, the voice that questions what you are doing... even the voice that laughs at you. Some of them give a feeling of self-doubt that may hit close to home for some players. These voices are done well, and whilst playing the game with headphones is recommended due to the way the voices are recorded, playing on a TV with the TV’s sound was still effective.

of the mind from start to finish.

Anyone who is plagued with mental health may find this game challenging and rewarding. I use the word plague as for many, that’s what mental health can feel like. This is also reflected subtly in the game – when moments of psychosis come or may be coming, the screen starts to get black vine looking marks, as if a dark plague has taken over.

The paths to take are intuitive, and players will find themselves drawn to areas to go to. You soon learn what the wrong way is (as it will lead to nothing), so finding the way to go isn’t frustrating.

The game itself starts ominously with Senua quietly rowing a log boat through calm waters. Bodies are impaled on large logs and strung up from trees all around. It’s clear that this game will be a test

The first few minutes progress with little action. There’s a sense that something is coming, but it introduces the player to the world and what to look for in the way of Runes and how to Focus. It lets the player fiddle with the controls and get a feel for how the game may play. This is also a great time to try out the Photo Mode and become accustomed to it. Walking through the pathway the player will see that the trail of bodies continues. It isn’t long before the player is met with a beach, with what looks like a giant wooden horse head in the distance. It becomes clear that the goal is to find a way to the bridge, and thus to the wooden structure. It’s here that the graphics and quality of the game truly shine. The textures and lighting are stunning, and players may find themselves stopping in awe and taking a few photos.

It isn’t long before players are introduced to the first puzzle. Puzzles play a large role in this game, and some can test the patience of the player. They mostly involve finding shapes of runes in the surroundings, and these can be harder than expected as you never really know what you are looking for. As Senua nears the correct area, the screen will be filled with

many smaller versions of the rune. As someone who sees things in my surroundings regularly, I found these puzzles a fun challenge. This is also a nod to those who struggle with mental health issues – having to focus on things such as your surroundings can be gounding and can help ease the mind during the grips of a severe panic attack. As someone who has been around anxiety and depression for a large portion of my life, I myself found these puzzles – for the most part – comforting and grounding. It’s also a test of self-trust and trying to push through tricks and illusions that can be created in the mind. After the first puzzle, Senua is faced with her first real physical fight. Players are introduced to the enemies of the game, and in turn, the ‘dark rot’ that is taking Senua over. It is then that players are hit with a nasty surprise – Permadeath – if you die too many times and the rot reaches Senua’s head, it is game over and your save is deleted. When I played through the game, I believed this – it was frustrating and challenging but it certainly made me focus on taking time and being patient so I could complete the game successfully. It was since discovered that this may have been a bluff from Ninja Theory. Some found it frustrating but if you remember that this is a game that focuses on mental health, it is a genius move. Tricking people into thinking they may lose their save is messing with the minds of a player. Even now, people are not certain if it is a bluff, or if it is just something that is EXTREMELY difficult to achieve within the game.

Either way – it is a mind game. The main part of the game then begins. It progresses in relatively distinct stages. There are two stages initially – one with Fire and having to activate fire memories to progress. If players don’t know where to go or linger in the fire for too long, Senua dies and the rot on her arm grows. Most of these are relatively straight forward, however some are more challenging and players with little patience may find some areas frustrating. The next stage is an Illusion stage. There are less physical battles in this stage, however it takes some thinking and careful observation to notice the subtle changes in the environment and which order and direction to go to be able to progress. Those with a creative, intuitive mind will find this easier than those who prefer the fighting. Both stages provide a strong challenge but they’re not so difficult that players may decide to give up. Both stages finish with boss battles – these too are not easy, but not as

difficult and frustrating as battles in the Dark Souls series. Senua is a capable fighter – her attacks are strong and for the most part quite fast. She can do a heavy attack, a quick attack, and also kick. When the Focus is activated, the enemies slow and Senua can regain some health. There is also a block function, however this can be a challenge to get the timing right, and players will find they evade more than try and block. Enemies are quite predictable in their fight manoeuvres (each enemy type has their own set of attacks), however when there is a larger number of various enemies, the battles can prove to be extremely challenging and precision is a necessity. The game then progresses to the next stages, which work in similar ways to the previous stages. There are puzzles, battles and ultimately another boss fight. This time, however, the puzzles will be everything you have learnt thus far. The weather changes frequently and

it’s a nice touch to add to the feel of the game, especially given it is done so well. It is also here where players will get the sense that they are nearing the end of the game... only to find out that the end is not as close as expected. Throughout and between each stage players also learn more about Senua and her story. It is a sad story that some may find somewhat distressing, however there is always a sense of hope – even if only miniscule – and Senua’s strength genuinely shines through. Once players finish the game, watching the added feature will provide even more insight to the story and its meanings. Ninja Theory did a lot of historical research into the Picts and Vikings, and these fill in some of the gaps that the game itself doesn’t directly mention. Things then start to get a bit different in that some battles develop a sense of bombardment and some of the level styles change. Some

levels are focused on Senua facing her fears unarmed. One level in Odin’s Challenges has Senua unable to see, forcing the player to navigate through a dark screen with slithers of light. Anything ‘visible’ is blurry and impossible to focus on. This level will not be a challenge for many, however those with anxieties or fears relating to the dark or anything this level reminds them of, will want to power through as fast as possible. One touch of an enemy here and Senua dies – there is no fighting. This level irked me so much that I didn’t even pause for a second to take screenshots!

These battles where the player may feel bombarded can be impossibly frustrating to the point that players may question if the game has glitched out as enemies relentlessly keep coming. Even with the frustration, I cannot fault the game. Mental Health issues often make someone feel overwhelmed, like there’s no end to the trap their mind has placed them in. These battles are reminisce of that, and it’s a harsh awakening to what a vast array of mental health challenges can truly feel like. These fights cause a sense of disorientation – they set you off your path and make you have to retrace to find out where you came from

and where you were going. These fights are challenging as each enemy has a different fighting style, and they do not approach you one by one. Ducking out of the way of one enemy may have you landing in the firing line of another. Many of these battles also take place in small spaces, adding an extra challenge of trying to keep all of your enemies visible. It’s important to note here that Senua will attack the enemy she is looking at, even if you try and get her to go in another direction. If players want to target a different enemy, they need to make sure they make her look at that enemy. This can take some getting used to, and in times of rushed battle can be a little frustrating. The only respite from the challenge of these battles is that they make the next boss battle a little less frustrating as it is one enemy. That is not to say the boss battle is not without its challenges. There are times when the screen goes black, with only flashes of red light to fight in. It is impossible to see what Senua is attacking or where the enemy is, leaving the best option to keep evading until the screen is properly visible again. Focus is important here, adding a layer of patience whilst the player has to wait for the Focus to build after each use. The final battle of the game has a very Heavenly Sword feel. Those that have played that game will feel at home in the end of Hellblade. The fight controls are fluid and fast. The level has a sense of empowerment and hope, of light and a strong fight. It’s an unusual feeling to try and describe, and some may feel nothing at all. Following Senua’s journey is a roller

coaster ride of emotions. I can only speak as a player who fights my own mental health battles, and who has family members and friends who fight theirs. There is a great deal of the game that I understand on a personal level and I strongly believe that those with mental health challenges will feel that also. There was an understanding that the frustrations that I felt were likely there on purpose. The graphics that sometimes looked a little grainy or unusual are how the world can look to those of us with mental health issues. Given Ninja Theory’s attention to detail and accuracy, I can only assume that all of this was done on purpose to truly give players a feel of what psychosis or mental health challenges can feel like. Some players will walk away with a greater understanding of the day to day battles or a

feeling that the game has helped them fight their own battles. Some may walk away thinking the game was nothing more than frustrating, and that’s ok. This game wasn’t designed to appeal to everyone or to be ‘enjoyable’ to everyone. It is, however, a game that is nothing short of inspiring and genius. Every decision Ninja Theory made holds such a great, deeper meaning that not everyone will understand. Those that do may find they are the ones who may truly love every aspect of the game – including its frustrating moments. Those who are playing the game without any personal battles will likely be able to enjoy the game for its story and playability. The gameplay is solid, the puzzles are well done and intelligent, making players truly think. Boss battles are

challenging and there is a solid story that players can truly get behind. Those that stop back and truly listen will have an even stronger sense and understanding of the depth of the story, its mythology and how Senua fits within it all. Senua is a likeable character who despite her ‘demons’ is still strong, relatable and believable. Overall, this is a game I strongly recommend people play. It is available digitally on Steam and PSN. This is a game that requires an open mind, and an understanding that anything that may be frustrating or challenging is there on purpose. Players who take that on board will have a much stronger, more positive experience.


*All screenshots by Tiffany Dean - played on PS4.

YOUR SAY gaming


THAT SHOULD H Despite great support from a number of developers and publishers throughout the past five years, ranging from tiny indie studios to huge AAA publishers, the Vita has still been a console full of missed potential with a number of genres and major franchises sadly missing from the handheld. While games get cancelled for every console in existence, the Vita’s lukewarm worldwide sales meant a number of projects never saw the light of day that would perhaps have been made had things turned out differently. What I’m aiming to look at in this article is ten of the more high-profile games that were either officially announced or heavily rumored to be coming to Vita but which never ended up appearing, with an examination of what we knew about them, what they could’ve been, and what happened to them.





BioShock Vita

Probably the most high-profile title on the list, BioShock Vita was officially announced at E3 2011 yet went radio silent for many years afterwards, only re-surfacing years later when Ken Levine took to Twitter to explain that he still wanted to make the game but Sony and 2K had never managed to work out a deal. Rather surprisingly, it later transpired that the series’ creator didn’t envision the title as an FPS, but rather a turnbased tactics game set in pre-fall Rapture. How this would have panned out is anyone’s guess and there were more than a few rumblings of disappointment that it wasn’t an FPS, but it’s an intriguing concept and the Vita has shown itself to be a capable home for games of this style. At the very least, fans hoped that 2K and Sony would manage to get the iOS version of Bioshock onto Vita, but even that hasn’t happened and seems increasingly unlikely given that it was pulled from the app store. As such we are left completely without the franchise on the handheld; a disappointing outcome given the excitement following the announcement.

Chronos Materia

Perhaps the most surprising cancellation on the list given that the studio developing it - Gust - have released a total of eight Atelier games and two Surge Concerto games on the platform, and have a ninth Atelier title lined up for 2018. Chronos Materia was to be a turn-based role-playing game that utilized the company’s strengths in character design, combat, and item creation, but what made it unique was a time-travel mechanic that allowed characters to travel back and forth to train up and defeat enemies. After being announced in 2013 for release later that year, updates on the title weren’t given for a number of years and it was presumed cancelled until official word came in 2016 that the game was no more. I wonder how much influence Koei-Tecmo’s purchase of Gust had in this decision as the company was soon developing much larger-scale games, such as Nights of Azure, while also forging on with releasing Atelier across multiple platforms (no longer releasing exclusives as before), meaning they likely no longer had the manpower for smaller projects. Whatever happened, it’s a shame this game didn’t see the light of day – although we have multiple Atelier titles to fill the void, none of them were designed specifically for Vita, nor do they include the interesting time-travel mechanics proposed.

Final Fantasy Type-0/Agito

If Chronos Materia is the most surprising cancellation, then Type 0 & Agito are the most insulting. First some history – Type 0 started life as Agito XIII, a mobile game set in the same universe as Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. As time passed, the project shifted to PSP due to technical constraints inherent in mobile development and was handed to the team that made Crisis Core. It’s an action-RPG with some RTS elements and a darker aesthetic and story than previous titles, making it well-received among import reviewers. The project released on PSP in late 2011 in Japan and soon gained notoriety among western Vita fans who petitioned hard for its release on Sony’s newer handheld, given the PSP’s decreased prominence at western retail. Progress seemed to be made when a localization was announced on the PlayStation Blog in 2014, confirming the game was coming to Vita, only for this to quickly be amended to PS4/XB1, causing outrage among fans. Months later, a white flag was offered when Square Enix announced that their mobile companion game Final Fantasy Agito (which borrowed heavily from Type-0) would be coming to Vita as an expanded release in 2015. Months went by without any word before the mobile game was shut down and soon after the Vita version was cancelled, with the whole game being repackaged as an online multiplayer RPG. The best part? This new title was skipping Vita entirely, releasing only on PC & mobile. It seems this particular brand of Final Fantasy just was not destined for Vita, despite originating on the PSP and looking to be a great fit for the handheld. The way it was handled by Square Enix was nothing short of atrocious, providing lots of optimism for Vita fans before shooting these hopes down not just once but three times.

Ghost Recon Final Mission

Of all the games on this list, Ghost Recon Final Mission is the one we probably know least about. All we have to go on was a retailer listing from 2012 that showed the title – alongside Assassin’s Creed 3 – coming to Vita. Given Assassin’s Creed happened later that year (through the side-story Liberation), it’s safe to assume that Final Mission was at least in consideration if not development at some point (possibly in development at Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation developer Ubisoft Sofia?). As such, there’s not much for me to say about this game other than why I think it would’ve been great. While the PSP entries were of varying quality, they were part of a much larger line-up of tactical shooters that included Brothers in Arms, Rainbow Six, and SOCOM. On Vita, however, Ghost Recon would’ve stood out, being the only game of this type aside from the launch title Unit 13, which had already shown us the potential of a good third-person shooter on the handheld thanks to its twin-stick controls.

Hyper Light Drifter

One of the most anticipated indie games in recent memory, Hyper Light Drifter is a fast-paced action RPG with a gorgeous pixel art aesthetic, beautiful soundtrack, and minimalist story that created an absolute storm on Kickstarter, raising over $645k by its conclusion. Development went fairly smoothly and by early 2016 PC gamers had the game and console ports were to follow, but in September the developer confirmed that Vita (and WiiU) versions had been scrapped. This was particularly frustrating due to the game’s origins on Kickstarter meaning that fans had actually paid for this development and it still wasn’t being delivered. Although the developer’s health problems certainly shouldn’t be understated, a contingency plan or porting studio could have been explored before outright cancellation. Incidentally, Just Add Water (famous for the Oddworld Vita ports) reached out to the developer on Twitter, but so far there has been no update on this front.


It was only recently that news of this potential port was revealed by series creator Yoko Taro. Supposedly, they wanted to give new players the chance to experience the game while simultaneously adding some extra content, making it an expanded port. Apparently, the title never happened because the team was busy with other projects at the time, so it fell by the wayside, and by the time the team was back to working on the franchise again they’d come up with ideas for a sequel, which landed on PS4/PC earlier this year, so the Vita port remained a pipe dream. If there’s one thing the Vita has shown itself to be a capable home of, it’s quirky Japanese games, and Nier is definitely up there among the quirkiest, having received a particularly notable cult following after its release. Plus, it would provide some nice genre variety, being an action game with RPG elements. Furthermore the breakout success of Automata meant a Vita port of the original game would’ve provided an ideal way for people to revisit the origins of the IP. Sadly it wasn’t to be.

Tales from the Borderlands

Telltale Games rapidly went from being massive Vita supporters to not even touching it without much in the way of an explanation. With the help of Sony, its critically acclaimed title The Walking Dead: Season 1 was ported to the handheld. Telltale quickly expanded on this to include two further games – The Walking Dead: Season 2 and The Wolf Among Us. Following that, Tales from the Borderlands was confirmed at E3 2014, while sizzle reels at E3 2015 showed Game of Thrones and Minecraft Story Mode for Vita as well. Yet by the start of 2016 none of these games had been released and the situation was looking increasingly bleak. Telltale PR man Job Stauffer re-confirmed the company’s commitment to the platform early last year, but as the holidays hit and there was still no word on any of the games it seemed increasingly likely they weren’t coming at all – especially given that Telltale was refusing to respond to any questions about the Vita on social media. The reason I singled out Tales from the Borderlands is that it’s by far the best looking of the three that were announced but never arrived and, indeed, it was the best reviewed, so it’s a shame it never came to the handheld. Amusingly, the game was actually included on the blue Vita slim’s box when it released in North America, along with a ‘coming soon’ release date, so Sony was definitely confident it was going to be released.


Unseen64 has been a great source of information for finding out about games that we otherwise wouldn’t have known even existed and the website really pulled through in unearthing details about this particular title. Pitched as a Vita-exclusive title to release during the console’s first year, Terrorforge was a sort of god-game where the player controlled the forces of nature to defend planet Earth from alien invaders. It would have made use of both front and rear touch to control powers such as summoning earthquakes or tornadoes. Although the game was only ever in the early prototyping stages, it sounded extremely cool and would’ve made a nice addition to the Vita’s library, as there really isn’t very much similar on the console or even elsewhere (Eric Chahi’s From Dust being the closest game I can think of). It sounds like it also would’ve made nice use of the unique inputs available. The game was pitched to Sony itself and – as we’re all aware – it dropped support for Vita fairly swiftly, meaning the project never received a greenlight in the first place and wasn’t even shopped around to other publishers, so sadly it never saw the light of day.


If there’s one thing fans seem to universally agree is missing from Vita’s line-up, it’s a good loot-heavy dungeon-crawling RPG in the Diablo vein. Although Dungeon Hunter Alliance made a decent budget substitute, and things like Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy emulate the experience, there’s really not been anything to properly plug the gap. If it had ever released, Warrior’s Lair would definitely have been that game. Revealed alongside the console at E3 2011 and originally known as Ruin, the game took the dark fantastic aesthetic of so many in the genre inspired by Diablo, as well as many of the core mechanics of isometric ARPGs. Its unique twist was a content creation tool – players could create and edit their own dungeons to store loot in, which could then be a location for other adventurers to explore, providing it with a potentially endless stream of content. Sadly the game hit trouble when its developer, Idol Minds, was taken off the project in April 2012 and development was handed to in-house SCE developer Sony San Diego. After this the project went quiet until its eventual cancellation in July 2013. The reasons for this remain unknown, but prior to cancellation a former developer supposedly predicted its fate and noted that Vita games had been given a Metascore target to hit, which numerous titles missed, leading to Sony becoming sceptical of upcoming projects. It marked a sad end to a title that would’ve made a fantastic addition to the Vita’s library.

Zone of the Enders HD Collection

As with Warrior’s Lair, Zone of the Enders was another announcement at a major press conference that didn’t materialize. This one was announced at Sony’s pre-TGS press conference in 2011 by none other than Hideo Kojima himself, alongside revealing that the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection would also be hitting the handheld. While the latter title did eventually arrive, ZoE HD never did. Presumably there are multiple reasons for this cancellation. Upon release, the home console versions received negative feedback for looking bad and running poorly – and it took nearly a year to be patched on PS3 (the Xbox 360 version was never fixed) - likely meaning Vita optimisation would have been difficult. In addition, the sales of the PS360 ports were cited by Konami as ‘disappointing’ and plans for a new sequel were scrapped. Those factors, combined with the Vita’s lukewarm hardware sales, meant there was ultimately no future for Zone of the Enders on Vita (although Konami have recently revived the IP for PS4 in one of the most surprising announcements of TGS 2017). As with all of the cancellations on this list, it’s a shame to see the game not hit the console, particularly as the Vita has been quite a good home for great mech-action games (Gundam and Macross among others), as well as Hideo Kojima’s other works (the first three Metal Gear Solid games).

CONCLUSION I’ve always seen Vita as the little handheld that could. Despite lukewarm hardware sales and lack of backing from Sony, the console has maintained a steady stream of amazing games throughout its life. Whether this was through surprise localization announcements (DanganRonpa, Demon Gaze), indie games which sold well enough for their creators to pledge ongoing support for the console (Retro City Rampage, Thomas Was Alone), or fan-driven movements to get specific titles (Borderlands 2, Oceanhorn), the platform has proved a surprisingly great market for a number of developers and publishers.

In spite of this, some titles just haven’t been able to come to fruition for a number of reasons, ranging from performance problems to legal struggles and everything in between, although the biggest hurdle seems to remain that the Vita just hasn’t sold very well. This has meant a lot of lost potential for fantastic handheld titles, and although I personally don’t feel disappointed with the experience I’ve had with Vita in the slightest, it’s difficult not to lament what could have been.


YOUR SAY gaming



The pictures we’re sharing today are of first prototypes. Everyone that has seen Ataribox first-hand loves it, feeling the Atari 2600 influence, while still being a modern design. Ataribox will be powered by an AMD customized processor, with Radeon Graphics technology. It’ll run Linux, with a customized, easy-to-use user interface. This approach means that as well as being a great gaming device, Ataribox is also a full PC experience for the TV, bringing you streaming, applications, social, browsing, music, and more.

Most TV devices have closed systems and content stores. Linux lets us be more open; you can access & customise the OS, & you can access games you’ve bought from other content platforms (if compatible with the OS and HW). There will be tons of classic Atari retro games pre-loaded, & current titles from a range of studios (we’ll start talking titles very soon, stay tuned). We’re launching Ataribox on Indiegogo this fall (read: pretty soon). To reiterate why: we want you, the Atari community, to be part of this

launch. We want you to have early access, grab special editions (& pricing) and to have you as active partners in the rollout of Ataribox. We want you to be part of the story. We plan on shipping late Spring 2018, with an expected price range of $249-$299 (depending on specific editions & memory configurations). Hope you like what we are sharing today, and are ready for lots more in the weeks ahead.

The Ataribox team.

YOUR SAY gaming



The arrival of Hand of the Gods on Steam also introduces the new Starter Pack which contains a collection of 7 core packs and a skin for Ra, leader of the Egyptian pantheon. Additional card packs can also be earned through gameplay, and each pantheon offers a unique strategy for players to experience. “Hand of the Gods has already attracted a passionate following, and we look forward to more players downloading Hand of the Gods for free through Steam,” said Scott Zier, Executive Producer on Hand of the Gods. “We’ve seen a variety of strategies emerge from the content we’ve released so far, and we are excited to see how players will use the new cards we are thinking up.”

September 14, 2017 – Melbourne, Australia – Hi-Rez Studios announced today that its turn-based strategy card game Hand of the Gods is expanding its Open Beta to Steam’s Early Access program. Players will have the opportunity to discover, download, and play Hand of the Gods for free through Steam’s distribution ecosystem starting now. The release on the Steam platform comes shortly after the release of a patch containing additional features improving on both the ingame and out-of-game player experience. These features, including

the refinement of Combat Logs and the new additions of Clans and a Deck Tracker, have been requests made by the community of Hand of the Gods and will be available to new Steam players. “In conjunction with our community, we’ve implemented several requested features, and expanded upon the core experience that players enjoy every time they log in,” said Scott Lussier, Lead Designer on Hand of the Gods. “Bringing Hand of the Gods to Steam is a major step for us, and we’re excited for new players to discover their personal playstyle.”

New cards and ongoing balance adjustments are no stranger to Hand of the Gods, and Hi-Rez expects to add the game’s 7th pantheon in the near future. Led by Ganesha, the Hindu pantheon is coming soon, and will feature new God, creature, and spell cards, making this a perfect time for new players to check out Hand of the Gods. Visit to download and play Hand of the Gods for free on Steam today, and for the latest information on Hand of the Gods follow the developers on Twitter @PlayHotG.




HeatherAfter C O S P L AY

Welcome to Live Magazine, tell us about the cosplay scene in Colorado... Thanks for having me. I think that the cosplayers here are extremely talented, but also very laid-back. Most people are very helpful, and generous with their knowledge. It’s a good place to be. How did you get involved in cosplay and when was that? My first experience with cosplay happened in 1996. I have always been creative, and a longtime fan of anime and video games. So when a friend invited me to come with her to Anime Weekend Atlanta and dress up in costume I was 100% on board! I attended the con as Devil Hunter Yohko, and was delighted to find out that there were lots of other people who were into the same nerdy things that I enjoyed. I didn’t enter the costume contest my first time out, but I still had a blast dressing up.....and was excited to do so again! And you met your husband at a “con” tell us about that. We met at DragonCon 2000. By that time I had been cosplaying for a few years, and was working as a spokesmodel while going to school. Jason was a guest of the con. He was one

of the comic book artists at Gaijin Studios. A mutual friend introduced me to the members of Gaijin Studios,and Jason and I just “clicked”. It wasn’t anything romantic at first; I lived out of state and neither one of us was looking for a relationship. We just enjoyed each other’s company. A few months later I finished with school and moved back to Georgia. Jason and I reconnected at his birthday party, and he invited me to collaborate with him on some of his comic work. The rest is history! We have been creating artwork together ever since, and got married in 2003. You’ve been quite successful with your cosplay in that you’ve been asked to freelance with some major companies, how did you get started with that part of your cosplay? It started small at first... Early on I got to be friendly with a number of convention guests and vendors. Conventions were much smaller back then, so you tended to see the same people over and over again in different parts of the country. It wasn’t long before some of my new friends asked me to work their tables at the conventions. I was delighted to help out, and earn a little money over the weekends. Plus I got to wear my costumes! I also entered the cosplay contests on a regular basis, and won a number of major awards. By

1998 I had achieved Master rank, and was one of the first cosplayers in the USA to be invited to conventions as a guest. I continued to compete in cosplay competitions when I was not attending as a guest, and was approached by Sy Picon (CEO and Owner of SyCoNet Productions) after winning 1st Place at Master Level and Best in Show at Animazement 2000. He asked me to be the company’s official spokesmodel, which was a dream job at the time. Also you’ve been involved with judging, can you tell us about judging and perhaps share a few tips for cosplayers wanting to enter competitions. Judging has become a lot harder since the cosplay scene exploded in the mid-2000s! There are so many incredibly talented people with amazing costumes. I think it always helps to have a professional-looking costume. That is, take some time to iron-out any fold marks, finish your seams, etc. Also, if you can remember to take photos during your construction process, and bring them to show the judges, that is always very helpful. The best thing you can do is to be positive and have fun! Cosplay competitions nowadays can be extremely long and stressful. If you can

manage to stay happy and positive throughout then the judges and the audience will respond in kind. What’s been some of your favourite cosplays? I have such a hard time choosing! Typically I tend to like the costume(s) that I most recently finished best! However, there are a few standouts that I remember fondly mostly because I’m a big fan of the characters I’m cosplaying. Tifa from FFVII is definitely a favorite. I also adore Talia Al Ghul (before the writers made her psycho), and pretty much anything Pokemon. And most challenging? Probably the most challenging costume that I have made/worn was my Tama-neko mascot costume from Fushigi Yuugi. I decided to step out of my comfort zone by constructing and wearing a fursuit! It came-out looking really cute, and got lots of positive responses. However it was extremely hot to wear, I couldn’t see well at all, and my movements felt restricted. I’m glad that I made it, but I don’t feel any desire to make another mascot costume.

What about memorable moments at cons - any you can share? So many! Darth Vader (David Prowse) and I devoured his birthday cake using only our hands. Bruce Campbell (who I’ve had a crush on forever) sought me out to talk cosplay, and hugged me during an autograph session. I was brought up on stage during opening ceremonies at Nan Desu Kan so that the entire convention could sing me ‘Happy Birthday’. Bengus and Akiman (Capcom artists and living legends) sought out Jason and I at San Diego Comic Con to compliment our artwork and exchange sketches. Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) flipped-out over the cuteness of my 1 year old son, and wanted pictures with him. ....and I could go on for a while! I’ve met so many talented people that I admire over the years, and am incredibly grateful to have such fun memories. Your also a freelance artist, what sort of work are you doing there? I started-out working as an inking assistant and colorist in the comic book industry. Then my husband and I became known for our pinup work, which has been featured in numerous publications such as Playstation

Magazine, PSM, Play’s Girls of Gaming, etc. More recently, I’ve done contract work for Sony Computer Entertainment America, Google, and several other companies. I am currently contracted to do design work for some of the medical professionals in my area. So, just to finish up - can you share maybe a five tips for new cosplayers? 1. Always have safety-pins on-hand! Even if you don’t need them, someone else might. 2. Get nice photos of your costumes. 3. Don’t break the bank. 4. Be yourself. 5. Be kind and have fun! If you are interested in more tips then stop by my Facebook page for ‘Tip Tuesday’. I share a new tip or tutorial every week. And where can our readers go to see more of your cosplay? Here’s my Facebook page: HeatherAfter Cosplay I’m also on DeviantArt:

Photographer: MartinArt Studio -

ONLINE: heathercosplay

Photographer: Adrian Cullen Photography -

Photographer: HearterAfter Cosplay -

Photographer: Miss E Laney Arts -

Photographer: Nikki Lee Photography -


MIKE ROLLERSON It’s October and for many of us, that’s the start of our month long celebration of the creepy. Halloween, whilst massive in the U.S is growing here in the Southern Hemisphere but it’s still has a way to go. We decided to catch up with regular guest of Live Magazine, Mike Rollerson, and ask him a bit about Halloween in the U.S. Mike, is Halloween as big as we see in movies and TV? Halloween is huge in the states! It’s actually a lot of fun as it starts to creep into stores and movies a few months before October 31st and lots of little haunted houses begin to pop up around town. I always look forward to checking out the events around town - some of them will begin building sets in July for a September opening, so there’s definitely some time involved in creating these events! What’s your plans leading up to Halloween - got any shoots planned? The local haunted houses are just beginning to open their doors which will keep me busy through Halloween! We’re fortunate to have several nearby in the immediate area and each of them go all-out with the sets, FX makeup, lighting and scare actors. I’ll be shooting at each of these events throughout the month

and trying to squeeze in a few horror-themed shoots inbetween! Since Halloween is such a busy time for me, I tend to work with many of these scare-actors off-season to keep Halloween going year round through photoshoots! I also started shooting some video last year and had a great time with that; with Halloween season here I’m hoping to shoot all new content this time around. You’ve been busy with your Instax project, how’s that going? The Instax project has been keeping me busy! I’ve been experimenting a lot more with it lately, syncing them up with studio lights, using non-traditional effects and trying to capture some really fun shots. I’ve made it up to about a dozen instant cameras now and each has it’s own unique look; some have a very clean, almost digital look while others have a very retro-looking distorted image. There’s just something about film and the look that it gives that you just don’t get with digital. I’m currently shooting about 200-300 shots per week and having a blast with it still! Where are you planning to go with it? Can we hope for a book? Lately I’ve started to mix the instax/ film shots into my digital work to create some composites as a way to

showcase them. I’ve always been a big fan of printed photos/art (my studio walls are covered with large prints from over the years) which is what got me into Instax as a neat “behind the scenes” snapshot. Over time I’ve really begun to make it an equal focus to the digital work, shooting about an even amount of digital and instant-film shots during shoots. I’ve started creating albums of these, but the ultimate goal is to go into print with them. Offering prints of digital work is common but with Instax being a one-ofa-kind, it’s harder to offer the same thing without selling the original. Creating a full book showcasing the different styles is definitely where I’d like to go with this. Stay tuned and we might see something coming out of that :) Is film easy to get and where do you go to stock up? Film itself is easy to get in America. Instax, in particular, is readily available at all of the online and local retailers and has even found it’s way into some grocery stores and chains you wouldn’t expect. I tend to order it online in bulk (40-50 boxes at a time) since it’s sometimes a little more affordable. For some of the specialty films I find myself ordering it from overseas a couple times per month

as it’s more readily available (and affordable) than buying from the local importers. You’re doing posters now, tell us about that. I’ve always been a big fan of posters and large-scale prints. There’s just something special about a large printed piece that you don’t see with a digital piece. With almost everyone shooting digital nowadays (either on their phone or with a DSLR), you don’t see many actual photos nowadays. I’ve started to offer some of my favorite shots from over the years in poster options. For me it isn’t even about finding a way to make a profit from them (there’s very little involved after all of the work of printing/ packaging/shipping them), it’s more about seeing the artwork displayed by others and a way of sharing some of the content. You love horror so what’s your top 5 horror movies? I love horror movies but tend to have a terrible taste in them! My love for them is more in the styling, sets and characters than the movies itself. Movies like the Saw series, Silent Hill and Resident Evil have always had some great looking design (but.. not so great of a movie!). Aside from the design, I just love the creative ide-


as behind horror movies; so many have very unique premises that they always feel fresh to watch. I don’t think I could narrow it down to just 5 - there are so many great ones out there for different reasons! And the worst horror movie you’ve seen? This one was a lot easier: The Blair With Project. At the time there was hype for it everywhere. The idea was great and I couldn’t wait to see it. I remember sitting in the front of the theater watching it, waiting for it to “get good”.. I kept feeling that it was about to happen at any moment. At the very end it got to the point where you felt “This is what we’ve been waiting for” only for the credits to start rolling. This is the worst (or most disappointing) horror movie I’ve seen. There are bad movies but they tend to be labeled as such. Well, Happy Halloween Mike - where can our readers go to catch up with you? Happy Halloween everyone! I’m most active on Instagram ( ) and tend to share any photos, videos and behind-the-scenes updates on there! MikeRollersonPhotography





A brief cosplay guide from construction to photography by Tiffany Dean Cosplay

Wonder Woman is a character that has been an icon and inspiration for decades. She has empowered vast amounts of people around the world, regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or anything else that can create barriers between people. Despite all of this, she had yet to make the impact on the big screen that she deserved. Superhero movies could be hit and miss, and those that featured our female heroines often fell short in comparison to their male or group counterparts. That all changed when we caught Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Batman vs Superman. It wasn’t long before fans started crying out for Wonder Woman to have her own movie.

The prayers were answered and the hype began. Wonder Woman is a character I have only cosplayed once before. It was before I actually cosplayed, and it was a cheap, awful eBay costume that is lost in the depths of recycled plastic. As soon as I tossed that awful costume (I admit I still LOVE the design of it though), I knew that one day, Wonder Woman was someone I needed to revisit. As I was always powering ahead with new costumes, I couldn’t find the time or drive to go back and make something I had already worn. I also wasn’t drawn to many of her other iconic outfits, so I sat in a conundrum of what to do. When the Wonder Woman movie images were slowly drizzling through prior to the release of the movie, I had had every intention to make her training outfit. I thought it would be something different and an outfit that may not get lost in a flood of amazing Wonder Woman cosplayers. When the movie finally hit our screens, my heart was leading

me to her main outfit. Throughout history, we have recognised Wonder Woman from the red and blues on her outfits. I knew I wanted to stay true to the history of Wonder Woman, but also knew that this outfit was more ‘me.’ With this in mind, I began my task to construct my first real Wonder Woman cosplay. I wanted this to be a speed build between some larger costumes, and I wanted to pump it out fast whilst my mind was in Wonder Woman mindset. I began by creating templates of my arms (for the gauntlets) and

body (for the corset). To do this, I simply wrapped myself in cling wrap and covered myself in duct tape. I would recommend having a helper with this as it can be a little dicey cutting yourself free, and if you tape yourself too tight it can cause panic attacks from restricted breathing ability... From there, I simply cut out my duct tape pattern and transferred it to my chosen material – in this case I used Foam. To shape the foam for a better fit, I blasted it with a heat gun and formed it against where it needed to go, holding it there until it cooled down so it would hold its shape. The next step was to add more details. For most of these, I would sketch the pattern on paper, transfer it to foam and then glue the layers on one by one. To fasten the armour, I used heavy duty velcro, hidden under layers and details and I finished by carving out some battle damage with a rotary tool. The leg armour was constructed in the same way – however I did not create a duct tape pattern here, I made a paper template. For gluing details and armour, I only ever use contact glue. Hot glue is not strong enough under load. Contact glue will generally not come apart – your foam would break before the glue bond! Be warned that when using contact glue, you must wear a mask as it has a very strong (and likely toxic!!) smell. For the gauntlet details, I carved lines with a Stanley Knife and hit it with heat to define them more.

Up next was creating the arm band, headdress, shield and sword. Paper templates / patterns were drawn up for the arm band and headdress, transferred to foam and then covered in Worbla and shaped. Heavy duty elastic was glued (with contact glue!) at the back so they could stay in place when wearing. As this was a costume I was making fast, I knew I wouldn’t have time to create a shield from scratch. My answer was to buy a cheap Captain America shield off eBay so I could modify it. I used craft foam to level the area around the star and used a Dremel (rotary tool) to create the indented line details. For the rest of the details, I used strips of Worbla. The sword I made in a few short hours, starting with a hobby foam base. I drew my sword on here freehand, carved it out, covered it in Worbla and then used Apoxie Sculpt to create the details on the hilt. This also added a nice amount of weight (I like a bit of weight to my props as it adds a sense of realism when holding them, just try and not make them insanely heavy!). The next step was to create the skirt and leather strapping / Lasso of Truth. Using my trusty paper template method, I created a template for the skirt. This took a bit of trial and error, but one important thing to not forget is the curve of your butt!! This means that the back piece you need to make longer so it sits where you need (Bazinga for scale).

When I had all my skirt templates ready, I transferred them to leather and stitched them to an elastic waistband I created. For those that have more time, or are spending more time on a Wonder Woman build, make sure to take your time with placement here. That was something I didn’t do, and whilst it all fit ok, there are definitely changes I would make (and may yet fix up). I painted gold edging straight on to the leather as in some shots of the actual costume it looks flush, and in some it looks raised. Craft foam or soft leather could be used to create a layer if you opt for that option. Fabric choice is also important here – I tried vinyl initially as it held paint well, but with a bit of glue and paint, it became like stiff

cardboard. I then tried to paint nappa leather I had on hand as it was thick and strong but had the right amount of drape. Unfortunately paint did not hold as the leather was already coated. I then tried faux leathers but had the same issue with paint not grabbing. Getting the colour and texture was important to me, so I did some Googling and found an amazing shattered glass texture blue leather. For those aiming for total accuracy, the entire Wonder Woman costume is actually leather... You can wet certain leathers and form them to create armour. This was my initial plan, but as I was making this costume fast and being cost efficient and using what I had on hand, I decided learning leather sculpting was something I would save for another costume. For the leather strapping, I used some faux leather / vinyl I had on hand, cut out some strips, made some craft foam details and created a hidden Velcro opening. I bought some gold rope and that was my Lasso of Truth! The final stage was painting everything! I primed all of the pieces with FlexiBond, using a stiff bristled brush to brush on the texture of Wonder Woman’s armour. For the gauntlets, I watered down the FlexiBond to create a smoother finish. For the main armour pieces, I created a metallic red paint by mixing red, bronzes and a metallic medium. I used some of this and added black to create a dark colour for details. I then used a red

metallic spray paint to brighten up and deepen the reds, as well as give it an even stronger metallic finish. The gold pieces were multiple layers of gold over a black base. I used different golds for different areas – some golds richer than others. I again mixed in black to create a deeper colour for details. I used a hint of silver for some areas to create a contrast, and a pale gold to create subtle highlights. The shield was primed with a spray primer and painted with various spray paints. I wanted the colour to be a metallic dark granite / brownish grey colour with a mottled look. I sprayed a couple of coats of my spray paint and then painted the gold and silver

in various shades. The gauntlets were sprayed with a chrome spray paint, and the gold painted over. The gold required a few layers as it doesn’t go over chrome paint very easily! The ‘leather’ straps (really just foam!) were painted with brown paint. The sword blade was also primed and painted with chrome paint, and various golds used on the hilt. The final step in the Wonder Woman journey was a photoshoot. Rob Jenkins Photo was kind enough to let me come down to the Gametraders studio for some quick snaps. We opened up our Pinterest board (I highly recommend people use this as it’s great for inspiration and ide-

as, and gives both photographer and cosplayer something to work with).Rob, Cosmo and I looked at our inspiration photos so we could recreate poses we liked as accurately as we could. I unfortunately forgot to take my leather straps and Lasso of Truth (internal crying!!) but next time I won’t forget. Here are some of our photographic endeavours! And also be smarter than me – wear a nude coloured bra!! Or a strapless one... I hope this article has helped others in costume creating, whether it be Wonder Woman or someone else! Happy cosplaying and photographing! Rob Jenkins Photo:

Tiffany Dean Cosplay:


MATERIALS Worbla and Foam – The Huntbury Armoury Craft Foam – Lincraft Foam – The Reject Shop Contact Glue / Hobby Foam / Spray Paint / Velcro – Bunnings FlexiBond / Apoxie Sculpt – Adelaide Moulding and Casting Top Coat / Paints – Riot Art Paint – Lincraft / Spotlight / Art Stores / Neds etc Captain America Shield – eBay Leather – East Coast Leather Faux Leather / Vinyl – Spotlight / Lincraft Elastic - Spotlight


Instagram GOLD MINE!

INSTAGRAM FOR THE FAMOUS AND NOT-SO-FAMOUS... I was browsing Harper’s Bazaar online the other day (hey I do model photography!) and came across a very interesting statistic... apparently industry experts, in around 2015, estimated that brands spend more then $1 billion per year on sponsored Instagram posts. That’s a lot of money that use to be spent on traditional media! Social media sponsorship is a whole new world of marketing and it’s opened the doors to just about anyone who’s willing to put in the hard work, has talent and drive to make either a part time or full time income from their passion. But first a short history lesson on advertising... If you were to jump back into some sort of time machine, and set the date for around 1970 through to the 80s or 90s, there wasn’t too many ways to get known locally, let alone be world famous. You had to be a star ( or rising star ) of stage, screen, music, art ... maybe politics, medicine, science, humanities... On the darker side of life, some have committed crimes for fame: John Hinckley Jr - He attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan so that he could use the ‘fame’ to get the attention of ac-

tress Jodie Foster who he was in love with. Tonya Harding - The figure skater so badly wanted to be the most famous that she conspired to have her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, attacked. The result was Kerrigan recovered and placed higher then Harding, who sunk to the lows of the celebrity world doing a sex tape and celebrity boxing. In contrast we have millions of talented people who made art, music films and other forms of entertainment or knowledge that gained fame as a by product of their endeavours. Albert Einstein for example is a Nobel laureate in physics, Nelson Mandela, Nobel laureate for peace suffered years of imprisonment for his beliefs. Musicians, artists, creators, scientists, doctors and leaders of nations have become famous as a result of their hard work and dedication. In video games we have people like Hideo Kojima who developed Metal Gear Solid, Sid Meier of Civilisation fame and Carol Shaw who is noted as the first woman game designer who, whilst working for Atari worked on 3-D Tic Tac Toe and world on Super Breakout.

These people became famous, not because they sought fame but because of their talent. Today that line has blurred. Some people are famous for simply, being famous. Today, the whole game changed dramatically.


Traditional media doesn’t have the same power it once had. Magazines and newspapers have been closing in the hundreds each year. The internet and particularly social media has fragmented how we consume entertainment. No longer do we sit down on Sunday night at 8.30 for the “Sunday Night Movie” we have Netflix, Stan, HBO, iTunes,YouTube and Amazon among others to watch what we want when we want. Social media sites like Instagram allow anyone with a talent to gather faithful followers and engage with them by sharing content. Then, if you’re good at creating interesting content and good at gaining followers, suddenly you’re the “media” ... you have the numbers to be a valuable commodity for advertisers to sponsor. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one option for gaining followers and maybe becoming ... famous.

Instagram: becoming an “influencer” Instagram is one of the key online and social media choices for gaining popularity. Instagram’s research shows that it has 2.8x higher then average ad recall then other social media networks. It also found that consumers are a whopping 58x more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram then Facebook, and 120x more likely compared to Twitter. Instagram visitors stay on site for an average of 192 seconds longer then any other social media channel. So Instagram offers those who build an audience popularity, but it’s not just popularity that is the motivation. Income, career and an adventurous life itself can be the rewards when you work the system. You see advertisers pay for eyeballs - the eyes of people who are potential customers for their products. If you’re a photographer using say ... Nikon equipment and you have 30,000 followers that are actively engaged with you on Instagram, then you might be an attractive proposition for a brand like Nikon to work with you - I’m using Nikon as a hypothetical, but you get the point. That is ... 1. You need a large following 2. Your following needs to be engaged with your content

Why engaged? Because anyone can go and buy followers, and while there’s nothing wrong with promoting and advertising your media (your page/site) ... that’s how marketing works, ideally you need followers to be involved with you, to want to see your posts. In the 80s if you were selling a product you made an ad and ran it on TV or radio or in print. Today you are the product - people are “buying” you so to speak. If you have created something of value, for example good photo content and story’s, then chances are you can build an audience. Back in the 90s and prior, you first needed a product or service, then you needed to spend money with the media to promote or sell that product. Today you can bypass that expense, no longer do you need to book a TV campaign or an ad in a magazine to get people’s attention. Social media sites like Instagram gives everyone the same opportunity. The key factor though is you need your audience to be engaged, that is connected to your content, enjoying, likening and commenting on your content. It’s no good having 100,000 followers and getting 10 likes on a post. Advertisers want people to see and engage with their brand. If followers (fans) are the starting point for sponsorship, it’s the en-

gaged fans that are the true currency in this new world of media. We did some quick calculations on some of the biggest Instagram accounts from celebrities and found engagement rates varied. Some were around 1% while others were 2.5% and more. However when you have 100 million followers and 1% of your followers are engaged that’s still a massive number! One percent of 100 million works out to 1 million fans engaged and if you’re a brand that is 1 million potential customers seeing someone like Kim Kardashian use a product. So a brand not only gets engaged fans seeing their product but the endorsement of a celebrity is the cream on the marketing cake.

Engagement rates, getting paid and becoming an Instagram Influencer. The Huff Post reports that some brands pay between $5 and $10 per thousand followers. Some pay more for bigger names, up to $100 per thousand followers. When you’re getting started and you’ve got a reasonable following that’s growing, you may start out by getting free product. As we said though, it’s not just about the numbers, you need to build engagement... getting your followers engaged (enjoying, commenting and liking) your content. So how do you work out what your engagement rate is? Let’s take a look:

“1 million potential customers seeing someone like Kim Kardashian use a product.”

Here’s how you work out engagement rates for your page: Engagement Rate on Instagram: (Number of likes & comments) / (Number of followers). Let’s say an account has 50,000 followers and on average gets 1500 comments/likes - that gives them an engagement rate of 3%. Is that any good? Well let’s do a quick comparison. But first ... a trip back in time. In the old days of 60s, 70s and 80s advertisers would measure the success by the number of sales an ad generated. Some smart marketers like Readers Digest would run coupon campaigns, constantly testing and refining the message to improve the response of the message. Today people don’t run coupon campaigns so much, at least not like they use to. But comparing Instagram to email marketing gives us a clearer picture. On average (according to Smart Insights) the open rate on an email in the area of Entertainment is 21%, but the click through rate the number of people who opened your email then clicked to see the content was around 2.3% ... so not too much different to Instagram. But there are key differences. With email you have a bit more time and space to tell your story (sell product) but on Instagram you have

the benefit of endorsement. That means if you are a travel blogger and use Instagram and have a strong following - people are likely to trust you and that trust is gold in the bank. That is because your followers believe you, they trust you and if you say visiting a resort was great, then they believe you and might also put that resort on their list of places to visit. So Instagram gives a sponsor/advertiser both reach and credibility through endorsment. Engagement Rates We looked at the average engagement rates on social media and found Instagram to be top of the pile: Instagram 2.26% Pinterest 0.042% Facebook 0.216% Twitter 0.027% We’ll take a look at Facebook and Youtube in another issue, but for now let’s dig a bit deeper into Instagram. We’ve asked a few of our friends who’ve built solid followings for some Instagram tips.

“Instagram’s research shows that it has 2.8x higher then average ad recall then other social media networks. It also found that consumers are a whopping 58x more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram then Facebook, and 120x more likely compared to Twitter.�

The World Loves Melbourne

Dave Hagger who started the blog has a great Instagram following of almost 38,000. His blog is for foodies who want the best Melbourne has to offer and also has a sister site, The World Loves Sydney. Dave is a Food blogger and I can vouch he knows the best places for a meal! Here’s Dave’s take on using Instagram Facebook is tough but if you pay to play Facebook can be great. Instagram is also moving towards more pay to play! 5 tips for Instagram would be: 1. Make it visually excellent! Use a decent SLR camera and a decent smartphone - as well as apps like Snapseed (my favourite) to enhance your already great photos. Play around with effects and filters so that the photo sings! 2. Make it bright and vibrant! The trend is away from dark to vibrant pics. Some filters help brighten, even use a whiteness feel for effect.

3. Post regularly. Build a following by posting every day if possible. However avoid posting too many times a day because that diminishes your value! 4. Effective use of hashtags. Use local as well as broadly appealing hashtags. Try to mix them up. Avoid being shadow banned for using spammy hashtags. 5. Style and curate your images! Creative use of backgrounds. Use props like Italian tiles, diff textures like wooden boards, vintage props, linen etc. Flatlays are still king - fill the frame with interest. Short video clips have good engagement and are the way of the future!

Tiffany Dean Cosplay

Tiff is onoe of our cosplay editors and has worked hard building a following across multiple social media sites. Her Facebook sits at around 10,000 and has been her main social media platform for some time, but with changes to the algorithm she’s now begun building her Instagram following with 2,500 so far. 1. I place my IG in the same place as my FB re marketing. They’re unfortunately all I have and as IG is now owned by FB, neither are great for marketing. IG can be easier to gain a following, however followers are removed faster than you get them. I’m aiming to become active on YouTube and have IG as a secondary thing. IG however is a great booster during things like Conventions (for cosplayers) as people are generally looking for people they may have taken a photo of.

2. The most effective ways to grow IG are to try and keep posts relevant to what your main focus is. For example, as a cosplayer I gain more followers if I post a cosplay of something that is current as it’s what is ‘trending.’ Hashtags are imperative to grow your IG as they are what people search for it’s how people can find you. Also networking with others is helpful. Some Instagram pages focus on sharing others work - if you can be shared on a page with a good following it’s a great way for your follower number to increase. 3. The first 500 I actually found easier than the rest, namely as at that time, Instagram didn’t go and boot followers. The first 500 tend to include a lot of friends and family too which helps you reach that number faster.

4. Re hashtags I just realized that the best way to go is to make them relevant. For example if I post a photo of me in cosplay, I’m not going to go and hashtag something like gourmet meal (unless it’s relevant lol). I also try and do a few hashtags but not have 30 of them. It’s a fine line between too little and too many. It’s also random and IG works much like FB now in that you could hashtag the same things for different photos and get 300 likes on one photo and 30 on another. It’s important to just see hashtags as a way to tag relevant search words so people can find your photo. 5. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve not had too many negatives on my own page. I’ve been called fat and all sorts of things on pages with so called ‘fans’ of certain things. In those cases I tend to ignore it, but in this case I kindly made them aware that people may have gone through a difficult time and that the focus should be on the costume, not a persons weight. I also thought it important to speak up for the sake of young people who might develop eating disorders if slim people are being called fat. In most cases I either ignore or just delete. I only respond if I can correct someone respectfully and kindly. If it all goes to pot I just delete or block lol.

Sara Moni Cosplay

We’ve been big fans of Sara’s over the years and she’s built huge following online. Facebook - 60,700 Instagram - 29,800 plus followers We asked Sara for a few quick tips on how she got going on Instagram: It wasn’t really difficult to build my Instagram. It’s difficult to maintain and keep content flowing more than anything! 1. Don’t be concerned with numbers, be concerned with engagement, the type of audience that you attract and if it’s the attention you really want. 2. Don’t be afraid of taking weeks in planning and researching costume, never rush 3. Never compare yourself to someone else in an unhealthy way. Fun competition can be motivating, but never get down on yourself

Instagram marketing company, Dash Hudson, CEO Thomas Rankin suggests you need at least 5,000 followers although 10,000 is the number that will more likely get the attention of brands... but they need to be real and engaged. Harper’s Bazaar magazine reported that fashion blogger, Daniella Bernstein of @weworewhat charges between $5000 and $15,000 for a single branded Instagram post. (

Charlotte Nicholson

Charlotte is an Adelaide based photographer. 1. Know your demographic! Knowing your audience is vital to Instagram. Understanding your audience helps with how you post, when you post and what you post. 2. Interact with other Instagram accounts that also post to a similar audience demographic. Getting your posts into their feeds can be a case of interacting with their posts. This can be done by liking posts, following, commenting or direct messaging them. Interact with your followers. Take the time to thank followers for comments. Interaction means that your content has a better chance of reaching their Instagram feed. Pay attention to accounts that regularly like your posts, they are still seeing your posts and it’s because the algorithm has noted they like your content. 3. #... Learn how to hashtag. Research hashtags that are popular in your genre of content. For example: brands, location, style and content relevant. Instagram allows up to 30 #’s per post that need to be in your original post to count. Hashtags are a way to get your content to new accounts. Using the right hashtag

can throw your content into the feed of new followers who may be interested in your content based on what they are interested in, who they follow, and what hashtags they have used recently. 4. Use the stories feed to bring your content directly to the attention of your followers. When any of us open up Instagram the stories feed is the first content we see.

This is an opportunity to direct your followers to your content. 5. Post consistently. Post quality content at regular times over the week. Don’t be that person that posts 10 posts in one evening and then doesn’t post again for a few days. Insights information will help you determine what time of day and what content works for your account.

THE INSTAGRAM AUDIENCE EXPERIMENT OR HOW WE SCREWED UP OUR EDITOR’S FEED... We decided as part of this story to experiment on Instagram using sites that promise large “real” followers for payment. We didn’t want to damage the Gametraders account so we volunteered our editors photography account. After much persuasion (promise of a 6 pack of Red Bull) we got started on our experiment.

“...feeding him a few Red Bulls and a donut calmed him down a bit.”

To begin he (foolishly) closed his old account and created a new one - you can see it here: adelaide/ Next he started posting some photos as he is a photographer that does a lot of portrait and model photography sprinkled with occasional cosplay. Over a few weeks of terrible hash tagging skills he’d managed only 130 followers. We reminded him how useless he was and that he wasn’t allowed to do anymore hash tagging. He didn’t take the criticism to well but feeding him a few Red Bulls and a donut calmed him down a bit.

Now it was now time for the experiment. First up we researched a bunch of sites that offer to sell or gain you followers for around $20 - $30 U.S. We bought 1000 followers that flooded in pretty quickly. The engagement, however stayed the same, in fact it went down! At this point the Editor started to really freak out, worrying about getting banned or something. Next we tried another seller and got another 1500 but engagement remained poor. As an example see the Wonder Woman photo of cosplayer Tiffany Dean, sure the hashtags could have been better and we decided to work on that as we experimented. Next we got in contact with one of the mega follower sites with names like Portrait of the Day or similar - I won’t share which one, but this generated thousands of likes of the supplied photo (cost $20 US) but not many followers. We experimented by letting them choose the photos to share - we got two shares and we had thou-

sands of likes and lot’s of positive comments on the photo. So that worked in that we got awareness but not a lot of rub off with regards to followers. However, the followers it did generate were genuine fans of the photography style on his page plus we notice that even though followers were not growing and likes were still small comparatively, we noticed that some of the “likes” were coming from followers with large followings themselves. Doing some quick calculations, our editors’ page engagement rate is slowly creeping up to 1% (again) after being punished, now we use the word punished here loosely but maybe not. You see after we began the experiment and saw how bad the engagement level was we did some digging and and came across the term - Shadowban... there’s a very comprehensive article here on Shadowban

It points out that there are 4 things you can do to avoid this Shadowban situation including avoiding using buying apps/sites like we used. Plus they mention banned hashtags! With regard to Shadowban we did some more digging and found the respected website - Petapixel has an article on Shadowbans and even has a link to this site that claims to test if you are “banned” You can see the site here and you

simply paste in your Instagram name and press Get Tested... When we tested, we were “safe” so that means either our content is not good, our hashtags are terrible (yeah we know) and not working or, and this is probably it, a combination of bought users that are not engaged plus poor hash tagging. So in conclusion to our experiment our editor now has thousands of followers, a low engagement rate but he’s seeing different types of “likes” and he hopes to build on that. He did threaten to delete this account too and start again, but after another bunch of Red Bulls, a few donuts and some advice from friends, he’s decided to keep it and work on getting the engagement rate up.



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