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LEGO Jurassic World at MCM London Comic Con

Originally Published for MCM Buzz on the 23rd of May 2015

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Things just became prehistoric here at the MCM London Comic Con Games Dome as Jurassic World opens its gates. LEGO masterminds TT Games are keeping the details of the Jurassic World adventure heavily under wraps until the film is released in cinemas, but as LEGO Jurassic World covers all of the original Jurassic Park trilogy, there was plenty of nostalgia-inducing goodness to cover.

Fastening our InGen seatbelts, we embarked to Isla Nublar and were treated to some exclusive footage of the original Jurassic Park like we’d never seen it before. Jamie Eden, the game’s director presented the panel, whilst lead story designer Graham Goring played through the exclusive MCM London content.

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The adventure began with the triceratops scene, as Dr. Ellie Sattler steps off Jurassic Park’s first guided tour to help the hurting herbivore. The gameplay feels familiar, drawing from the LEGO games before it as you swap out between LEGO figures to solve puzzles to jump, climb and smash your way through the levels. One thing that has changed is that you can play as the real stars of the park, the dinosaurs themselves. Unlike any characters in previous games, the dinos add an extra dimension to the game, allowing for more versatile level design and a host of new abilities. Many of the larger animals can charge to knock over objects and create bridges, and Jamie Eden revealed that the enormous aquatic Mosasaur is playable and even has its own area in one of the game’s two open world islands.

In the iconic T-Rex car chase once the player has unlocked LEGO’s free play mode you can return and play the level over as the pursuing predator. In order to counteract the terror that some of these magnificent creatures brought to the big screen in 1993, TT Games have added their signature comic twist to many of the scenes; dinosaurs can be distracted by bones, frisbees and rubber ducks and Gennaro ends up in the mouth of the T-Rex only to brush her teeth!

This doesn’t mean the game’s characters have been ignored, and a love of the source material and attention to detail makes them feel distinct from previous game figures. As an expert paleobotanist Ellie can grow plants to affect the level and grow bridges, platforms and alter the environment. She can even dive head first into dino droppings, whilst most characters won’t go near them. Muldoon can track dinosaurs, fire tranquilliser darts and is best suited for general acts of badassery, whilst Lex can hack terminals and shatter windows with her ear-piercing scream. You can even play as the animated strand of genetic code Mr. DNA.

Raptors are the only dinos that can build LEGO structures, clever girl...

The TT Games veterans followed up their panel to share a series of facts about the game in an engaging Q&A, revealing that it will have 20 levels, five for each film, dinosaur skeletons will be playable characters and there will be dinosaur races on the ground and in the air. Lastly, perhaps my favourite; there will be a cheat brick that dresses all the characters in Dennis Nedry’s horrible Hawaiian shirts.

Lego Jurassic World will be released on PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U on the 12th of June 2015.

Hands on With Splatoon at MCM London Comic Con

Originally Published for MCM Buzz on the 23rd of May 2015

Nintendo’s first original characters since 2001 are debuting in Splatoon, the studios’ anarchic paint-shooting extravaganzaand MCM Buzz have popped to B&Q for some high quality emulsion and returned the the MCM London Comic Con show floor to get our multicoloured hands on the highly anticipated title.

Playing two rounds of the game’s unique ‘turf wars’ multiplayer mode, it was splatoon4clear this game is something special. In this mode you are split into two teams of four and pitted against each other, with your only directive being to engulf the area in your teams’ colour of paint. What is surprising is that there is so much to this simple objective. You can transform yourself into a squid to travel quickly, refill your paint, climb walls that are painted in your colour or hide and escape your foes. When you’re on the offensive, you can blast your paint sprayer at an opponent or throwing a paint grenade to cover them from head to toe which causes them to ‘splatter’ and respawn at their starting point.

Whilst that last feature seems similar to regular deathmatch-type shooters, in Splatoon getting your opponent to explode in a blast of colour is more fun than it is essential. Sure you will lose a few seconds respawning, but what makes Splatoon stand out is the fact that if you beat your rival team over and over, but they have painted more ground, you’re going to have a hard time winning. As a squid you can only move in patches of ground that are painted your colour, so if there’s not much of it around you, you’re going to have a serious disadvantage.

In the first round I was focused on attacking my opponents more than covering ground, and I paid the price as three opponents leaped up from their paint splatters to completely obliterate me. After my second game, I couldn’t be pulled from the booth. Splatoon is more tactical than your regular shooter. The colours are so wonderfully vibrant you can’t help but smile and perhaps, most importantly, it’s as much fun as watching Saturday morning cartoons with your friends on your 7th birthday eating cake for breakfast. Once again Nintendo look like they are set to prove that games don’t have to be serious or dark to have real substance. In a word, it’s Inkredible!

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Splatoon will be released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii U on the 29th of May, and is available to try out this weekend at the MCM London Comic Con over at the Nintendo stand.

Cyanide & Happiness at MCM London Comic Con

Originally Published for MCM Buzz on the 23rd of May 2015GetAttachment

Ribs were tickled, bellies were busted and chortles were had on the Vidfest stage in the Cyanide & Happiness Panel featuring co-creator, writer, actor, animator and producer Rob Denbleyker. The panel took its audience through the growth of the hugely popular web comics, from stick figures to animated shorts, showing exclusive clips from their video vault and a few fan favourites to top it off. Their YouTube channel houses over 120 videos and has gathered an incredible following, with over 4 million subscribers. During the panel, Rob revealed the origins of Depressing Comic Week, his animated inspirations and the rewards of collaborating.

The panel began by showcasing one of the first Cyanide & Happiness video shorts, ‘The Sign’, a simple animation with a kicker of a punch line (sorry), following it up with one a clip from one of their latest efforts, the slickly-animated and completely hilarious Cyanide & Happiness Show. He explained the steps the Explosm team took to make their show a reality, starting from how they made their entry into the world of animation.

“We have actually been animators since way before the comic even started. When I was 14, i ‘borrowed’ a copy of flash from the Internet and taught myself how to animate some Newgrounds stuff. It’s actually where a lot of these guys started like Eddsworld and TomSka. It was a little hotbed of creativity where you post your first shitty animation and people would tell you you sucked and you made another one and you got better and better.”

After posting their first few Cyanide & Happiness shorts in 2007, they decided to seek help with production. “Around 2010 we decided that we were being held back by making these ourselves… We collaborated for the first time and made a sequence of shorts including Beer Run.” The YouTube channel began to take off, jumping to 600,000 subscribers and there was some interest in making a Cyanide & Happiness TV show. After about a year and a half of discussions with two prospective producers of the show, the team decided to go a different way, as “any contract they showed us involved us giving up all of our rights, so we’re were like, ‘screw that – we already have a fanbase online!’ At the same time, Kickstarter was becoming a thing, so we decided to go that way instead.”

The generosity of the Cyanide & Happiness community came through, and the Kickstarter target of $250,000 was exceeded. Instead of the proposed 8 episodes of The Cyanide & Happiness Show, the team ended up making 11, as well as an entire year of video shorts in the lead-up with the Explosm team having full creative control. Watching these videos is enough to convince anyone that the investment was worth it, and Cyanide & Happiness regularly produce some of the funniest and most original videos you can find online.

Following the presentation, Rob opened up the floor for a Q&A. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

Guest: How long does it take you to think of these ideas?

Rob: Most ideas just come from hanging out with friends…It’s very collaborative, especially the comics.

Guest: Who came up with the baby in the trunk sketch?

Rob: That was Kris. We almost didn’t made it because we were trying to figure out a good way to end it, but when we came up with the ending, it was the finisher we needed. 

Guest: How do you know which ideas will work?

Rob: I think it’s something we’ve gotten better at over the years. I think the key is collaboration: when you’re in a group of 5 people and they have the same sense of humour, you can trust your sense of humour if it makes the room laugh.

Guest: Do you have any advice for anybody who wants to do something similar?

Rob: Just do it. The tools are available and it’s becoming cheaper and cheaper. All you need is Flash and YouTube… If you enjoy something just do it, don’t worry about the business, just worry about making it funny or moving or something you genuinely are interested in.

Guest: Is there a future for Ted Bear?

Rob: There is a Ted Bear 3 in the works. I just started writing it.

Guest: What was the story with The Depressing Episode?

Rob: It started out as Depressing Comic Week in 2006… I sent this comic to Dave. I wasn’t sure about it so asked him, and he said it was a good comic, but it was more depressing than funny. I said,  ‘Hey, we should do a whole week of depressing comics!’ And he said, ‘That’s a terrible idea, let’s do it!’ And there’s been a Depressing Comic Week ever since. There’s also a Depressing Comic Book now. The episode was a special.

Guest: How long did it take to make the Lunk episode?

Rob: About 5 months. That was one of our longest ones. The Lunk one began as a sketch. Kris drew the most ridiculous messed up version of Link and he just titled it Lunk.

Guest: Will you ever make a full-length feature?

Rob: We have an idea for a musical, but it’s a bit too much for us just yet…

You can meet Rob Denbleyker at the Cyanide & Happiness stall (number P3), stock up on Explosm goodies and commission a sketch of your own this weekend, only at MCM London Comic Con.

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