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This Casino Slots game rips people off and changes people’s reviews to 5 stars.

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Stokes's Bristol Nightclub incident in detail (From: The Comeback Summer by Geoff Lemon)

IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a place where misadventure could begin, you can’t go past Mbargo. The nightclub’s streetfront is painted a purple so bright you’ll see it in your dreams. Strings of giant sequins shimmer in the breeze. Its phonically inventive name is spelt in silver letters that climb its three-storey terrace facade. Inside are strips of burning neon, a few booths, floorboards so marinated in drink that they have an ingredients list. Bristol is a student city on England’s south coast crowded with music and nightlife and street art. This is Banksy’s home town, and the tourism board suggests in rather strong terms that ‘you would be a fool not to see his amazing work firsthand’. The same organisation describes Mbargo as ‘intimate’, which is fair for a place where you can catch an STI standing up. Students cram into its modest dimensions while people with names like DJ Klaud battle for billing with £1.50 drink deals over seven sloppy nights a week. To get a sense of the story about to come, consider that it’s the kind of place open until two o’clock on a Monday morning, and that at two o’clock on a Monday morning, Ben Stokes still thought it had closed too early.
The Ashes of 2017–18 had disciplinary bookends. It was after that series that Australia’s two leaders went off the rails in South Africa. It was a few weeks before that Ashes tour that England’s biggest star windmilled his way into his own disaster.
In the early hours of 25 September 2017, Stokes and teammate Alex Hales were barred from re-entering Mbargo after a night out on the piss. A Sunday thrashing of an abject West Indies in an ignored series at the fag-end of the season apparently required ample celebration. After arguing with the bouncer and hanging about at the door for a while, they wandered off to find a casino in the hope of more drinking. They’d barely made it around the corner before getting in the middle of a conflict between four locals. As is said on the internet, it escalated quickly.
The 26 September reporting was bloodless. Withholding names, police stated that a man ‘was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm’ while another went to hospital with facial injuries. England’s director of cricket Andrew Strauss separately confirmed that Stokes was the arrestee, adding that he had been released without charge and that Hales had gamely offered to ‘help police with their enquiries’. Administrators had a good chance of hiding behind that investigation, and the next day Stokes was named in the upcoming Ashes squad as expected. But that night the video emerged.
Bristol student Max Wilson had shot it on his phone, then offered it to The Sun. What he thought was playing hardball was actually lowball: his opening price of £3000 was snapped up by a tabloid that would have paid ten times that. The Sun went on to make a mint by syndicating the rights worldwide. From a window above the fray, the vision showed six men on the street below performing the muddled choreography of a melee. One was right at the centre of it. One was waving a bottle, one dipped in and out, one tried to calm it. Two others floated around the edges. The central figure was unmistakable: red hair burning even in the streetlight as he launched into a series of blows against two of the men, falling to grapple with them on the ground, then following both across the street, swinging punches the whole way. Hales trailed behind, repeatedly and impotently shouting ‘Stokes! Stop! Stokes! Enough!’ The ECB could fudge issues that existed only in thickets of legalese, but not those captured in moving colour. Stokes was stood down from the next West Indies match, then suspended indefinitely. It emerged that he had broken his hand during the fight, something he’d done twice before while punching objects in dressing rooms.
The response in Australia was fierce: Stokes was a thug, a lowlife, a selection that would disgrace England. It was not entirely coincidental that a ban for England’s best player would be handy for the Aussie team, but there was also a cultural split. In England, plenty of people still minimise pub fights as lads letting off steam. In Australia, heavy media coverage as a succession of young men were killed had inverted that tolerance. The discourse now saw any punch as potentially deadly and accordingly reckless. This was more poignant in a cricket context given that David Hookes, the dashing Test batsman and state coach, was killed in 2004 by a pub bouncer’s fist.
The PR situation was bad for Stokes as details emerged of the injuries to the men he’d hit, and that one was a young war veteran and father. Stokes wasn’t officially removed from the Ashes squad through October but stayed behind when his teammates left, hoping for police to dismiss the matter in time for a late dash to Australia. His annual contract was renewed on the due date in case that came to pass. Then 29 October brought a twist in the tale.
‘Ben Stokes praised by gay couple after defending them from homophobic thugs,’ ran the headline. Kai Barry and Billy O’Connell had emerged. Not entirely out of nowhere: while Stokes had made no public comment, this story in his defence had initially been leaked to TV host Piers Morgan after the fight, as soon as the video appeared. Police body-camera footage played in court would later show that Stokes had given the same story to the arresting officer on the night. But no-one knew the identities of the fifth and sixth men in the video, and police appeals had turned up nothing.
It was The Sun again with the breakthrough. Kai and Billy were perfect for a readership not keen on nuance. ‘We couldn’t believe it when we found out they were famous cricketers. I just thought Ben and Alex were quite hot, fit guys,’ said Kai, who was memorably described as a ‘former House of Fraser sales assistant’. The paper had the pair do a full photo shoot: layering the fake tan, showing off chest waxes, mixing Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton into a range of outfits. Their best shot had them standing back to back, heads turned to the camera, in a mirror-image Zoolander moment.
Suddenly The Sun was the England team’s best friend. ‘Their claims could lead to the all-rounder being cleared over the punch-up and freed to play in the First Test in Australia next month,’ it gushed, then gave a tasting platter of quotes: ‘We were so grateful to Ben for stepping in to help. He was a real hero.’ ‘If Ben hadn’t intervened it could have been a lot worse for us.’ ‘We could’ve been in real trouble. Ben was a real gentleman.’ Would it be known forever as Kai and Billy’s Ashes? No. While the Bristol boys provided spin for Stokes’ reputation they didn’t influence the police. With charges still pending there was little choice – not given Strauss had previously sacked Kevin Pietersen for being annoying. Stokes remained suspended through the Ashes and a one-day series in Australia, and lost the vice-captaincy. It was January 2018 before the Crown Prosecution Service laid a charge.
That charge surprisingly came in as affray, a crime that can carry prison time but is classified as ‘a breach of the peace as a result of disorderly conduct’. The men he had punched, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, faced the same count, charged as equal participants in a fight rather than Stokes being charged with assaulting them. Alex Hales was not charged, despite being seen in the video to aim several kicks when Ryan Ali was lying on the ground. Given the underwhelming standing of the offence, Stokes was cleared by the ECB to tour New Zealand, and kept playing until his trial in August 2018, which he missed a Test to attend. None of the three defendants would be convicted.
The reasoning behind the charges was never released and was attributed vaguely to ‘CPS lawyers’. The service gave the case to Alison Morgan, a prosecutor of a class known as Treasury Counsel who usually handle serious criminal matters. Morgan had a scheduling clash and never ended up court for the case, but in 2018 and 2019 she would go on to win damages and admissions of libel from The Daily Mail, The Times and The Daily Telegraph variously for incorrectly reporting that she had been responsible for the inadequate and inconsistent charging decisions.
Morgan’s successor on the case was Nicholas Corsellis QC, who on the first day of trial was permitted by the CPS to request two assault charges be added against Stokes. ‘Upon further review,’ claimed a CPS statement, ‘we considered that additional assault charges would also be appropriate.’ This was patent nonsense from the service that eight months earlier had chosen the lesser charge. Any lawyer knows that no judge will allow new charges once a trial has begun, because the defence hasn’t had time to prepare. But such a request could deflect criticism of the prosecution service by technically making the judge the one who disallows the charge.
Working through the story from the trial and the tape is complicated. You had a Ryan and a Ryan, a Hale and a Hales, a Billy and a Barry and a Ben. You had several versions of events as to who knew whom, who was drinking with whom, who had insulted whom and who had merely engaged in ‘banter’, a word that in modern Britain has to do an unconscionable amount of lifting. The reporting had constantly mixed up the Ryans as to who had which injury, who was in hospital, who had played which part in the fight, and whose mum had which stern words to say about it.
Let’s agree that from now Ryan Ali is Ryan One, the firefighter who ended up with a fractured eye socket and a cracked tooth. Ryan Two can be Ryan Hale, the soldier who scored concussion and facial lacerations. Mr Barry and Mr O’Connell are best known per The Sun as Kai and Billy. In scorecard parlance we’ll leave the cricketers as Stokes and Hales.
Amid the confusion, Stokes and his lawyers built his case in a straightforward way. The UK legal definition of affray is ‘if a person threatens or uses unlawful violence or force towards another person, which causes another person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for their safety’. That means it doesn’t account for violence that harms a target, but violence that might frighten a theoretical bystander. The wiggle room for Stokes was with ‘unlawful’, because the charge excuses violence in defending oneself or others.
This interpretation hinged on the beginning of the video, where Ryan One waves a beer bottle about and takes a swing at Kai. The version from Stokes was that he was minding his own business walking down the street when he heard homophobic abuse. He intervened verbally and was threatened verbally by Ryan One – something that Ryan One denied but that couldn’t be proved or disproved. In fear for his safety Stokes had to nullify that threat by bashing Ryan One before it went the other way. He registered Ryan Two in his peripheral vision as another possible threat, and again had only one recourse.
Stokes also had to convince the jury to disregard testimony from Mbargo’s bouncer that he had been looking for a fight. A solid lump of a man, Andrew Cunningham had not enjoyed his patron’s attempts to get back into the club after the bouncer declined an offer of a bribe. ‘He got a bit verbally abusive towards myself. He mentioned my gold teeth and he said I looked like a cunt and I replied, “Thank you very much.” He just looked at me and told me my tattoos were shit and to look at my job.’ Cunningham described these words as coming in ‘a spiteful tone, quite an angry tone’, and said that Stokes still seemed angry as he walked away.
These were details the doorman had nothing to gain by inventing, but each of them Stokes denied. By his own accounting he had drunk a beer at the game and three pints at his hotel, then ‘potentially had some Jägerbombs’ along with half a dozen vodkas at the club. He insisted that after all of this he was not drunk.
If I may take a moment here to call upon the wisdom of experience – a person who cannot definitively say whether they have had any Jägerbombs has definitely had some Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is an experience that does not pass one by. Further to that, a person who says they have ‘potentially’ done something has definitely done that thing and doesn’t want to admit it. A person who has had between 15 and 24 standard drinks in one evening is shitfaced. A person who tries to bribe a bouncer £300 – three hundred quid! – to get into Mbargo – Mbargo! – is beyond shitfaced.
If Stokes admitted that he was drunk then the prosecution could say he was out of control. He claimed clear recall of assessing a threat, feeling fear and deciding to protect himself with force. He confidently denied details from the bouncer’s testimony, like using the word ‘cunt’ or mentioning gold teeth. Yet on other details he claimed a ‘significant memory blackout’. He didn’t remember the punch that saw Ryan One taken away by ambulance. He didn’t remember what the Ryans had said to Kai and Billy, only that those words were homophobic. With no head injury, as one of the few people who hadn’t been hit, he had supposedly suffered this memory loss despite being sober.
The version from Kai and Billy was compatible but vague: they had been walking along, they ‘heard … shouts’ of abuse from an unspecified source, then Stokes ‘stepped in’ and thus they avoided possible harm. They claimed to have been bought a drink by Stokes at Mbargo, although CCTV showed them meeting outside. The overall implication from both accounts was that the cricketers had been pals with Kai and Billy, while the Ryans as per The Sun’s headline were a roving band of thugs.
The reality though is that the Ryans were the ones hanging out with Kai and Billy at Mbargo. Police discussed CCTV from inside the club in questioning and at trial. On that footage the four Bristolians bought drinks for one another, danced together, and Kai was noted to have variously touched Ryan Two’s crotch and Ryan One’s buttock. Ryan One told police that all of this was taken lightheartedly and wasn’t a problem. Indeed, when the Ryans called it a night the other two left with them.
This much is clear from footage out the front of Mbargo, which shows Kai and Billy exit the club and start talking with a subdued Hales and a demonstrative Stokes, who are stuck outside. The vision was played in court to determine whether Stokes was antagonistic towards Kai and Billy, as he appears to impersonate them and to throw a lit cigarette their way. More interesting is that after a few minutes the Ryans emerge, and all six actors in the fight video briefly form a prequel in the one frame.
Ryan Two pats Billy on the chest in friendly fashion with his right hand before clapping him on the back with his left. He moves past and does the same to Kai before leaving the shot. Ryan One stops to speak to Kai. They lean in for a moment, talking, then Kai turns and they walk out of frame together. Billy hangs around for a few seconds at the door and then looks after them and races to catch up. Stokes and Hales remain outside the club to remonstrate further with the bouncers. Whatever discord develops around the corner is between four men who left amicably together minutes earlier.
There’s no way to know what caused that friction. If Ryan One did use homophobic slurs, he might have been drunkenly obnoxious for no reason. He might have had an insecure macho response to some extra flirtation. He might have thought unkindness was funny – ‘banter’ once again. Or he might have said something that was misunderstood, as both Ryans insisted in court that they had not used nor had the impulse to use any abusive language.
What clearly didn’t happen was an attack by bigots on random passers-by. This kind of crime is regular enough that an audience understands the horror of it, and this is what was evoked by the public accounts of Stokes, Billy and Kai. All we know is that there was some verbal dispute among the Bristol locals, and that Stokes came along behind them and put himself in the middle of it. Ryan One responded to the interference aggressively and away they went. There are plenty of reasons to look sideways at the idea that Stokes was a saviour. Foremost, neither Kai nor Billy was called upon as witnesses in court. You’d think it would be ideal to have Stokes’ story backed up by those who benefited from his selflessness. But his defence team had developed the impression that the pair had shown a changeable recall of events amid a hard-partying lifestyle, and would be dismantled by the prosecution on the stand.
That raises the question of whether The Sun coached their quotes for the 2017 interview. Despite missing court, Kai and Billy clearly enjoyed the attention. In 2018 after the trial they did a follow-up spread in the same paper about how poor Ben had been mistreated. They got a television spot on Good Morning Britain and glowed about his heroism. In 2019 The Sun wheeled them out once more to say that Stokes should get a knighthood. In 2017 they had ‘never watched cricket’ but by 2019 were supposedly volunteering sentences like, ‘He saved us, now he’s saved the Ashes.’ Whether they were paid for these appearances is not known, but the chance to be famous for a day can be lure enough.
If you find this cynical, consider that on the night in question, the Bristol boys were so deeply moved and thankful for Ben’s intervention that they left him to be arrested and never attempted to find out who he was. Seconds after the video ended, an off-duty policeman reached the scene. You might think that someone grateful to a saviour would speak on his behalf. Instead, said Kai, ‘it all got a bit scary so we walked off. It was too much for me and we went to Quigley’s takeaway for chicken burgers and cheesy chips.’ They didn’t give their hero a thought for over a month while police issued multiple appeals for witnesses.
As for Stokes, he told his arresting officer that ‘his friends’ had been attacked. After three minutes of chat outside a nightclub, these friends were so dear to him that he has never contacted them again: not after the newspaper piece, not after the verdict. He didn’t want to see how they were or thank them for their support. He didn’t mention them by name in his solicitor’s statement after the trial.
The Stokes defence rested on Ryan One’s bottle, which he had carried out of Mbargo to finish a beer, not to use in a Sharks versus Jets amateur production. But once he turned it over to hold it by the neck it became a weapon. Intent and interpretation can change the material nature of things. Part of Stokes’ justification in court was that the bottle implied that the two Ryans might have ‘other weapons’ hidden away. You can understand how a jury could decide that created doubt.
Not being convicted, though, doesn’t give the contents of the video a big green tick. It does not, as his lawyer claimed, vindicate Stokes. Looking in detail, Ryan One is belligerent but his movements telegraph a bluff. Hales is the person he’s gesturing at, but they’re several metres apart when Ryan One cocks his arm ostentatiously, showing off the bottle rather than bracing to swing. He skips forward but Hales skips back and Ryan One doesn’t follow. Kai stretches out an arm to impede Ryan One, who has a drunken stumble, nearly eats pavement, then staggers towards Kai and hits him in the back. That hand is still holding the bottle, but his strike is a side-arm cuff on a soft part of the body. It’s all pretty tame.
This is where Stokes gets involved. Having moved across to protect Hales, he now takes three large steps to run around Kai and booms his first punch at Ryan One. They fall to the ground and the bottle clinks away. Stokes gets to his feet to punch down at the fallen man, while Hales arrives to kick him ineffectively then runs off across the street for some unknown reason. Ice-cream van? Stokes is soon back in the grapple having his shirt pulled up to show off his Durham tan. Ryan Two steps in for the first time to pull Stokes away, prompting a couple more random punches at this new target, then Stokes trips backwards over Ryan One and sprawls in the street. Hales chooses this moment to return and aim some solid kicks at the head of the man on the ground. Nothing so far is a triumph of moral philosophy or the pugilistic arts. But if it all stopped here, perhaps you could say it was somewhere approaching fair. Ryan One has behaved like a turnip and it’s not an entirely unjust world that would give him a whack across the chops. The antagonists have disentangled, Stokes has some distance, it’s time to dust off and go home. Ryan Two steps forward for this purpose with his palm raised in conciliatory style and says, ‘Settle down, stop.’
So Stokes punches him.
It’s roughly his fifth punch overall, and he really winds up into this one. He misses so hard that he stumbles away into the shadows of the shop awnings along the road.
Hales starts shouting for him to stop. Ryan Two backs into the street, still holding his palm up. Stokes closes on him from about five metres away, six large steps, to where Ryan Two is standing on his own. Stokes pushes him a couple of times, as Ryan Two keeps trying to placate him and saying ‘Stop.’ Stokes throws his sixth punch, largely missing as his target ducks.
Ryan Two keeps pulling away and reversing, into the middle of the street now. Stokes follows him, grabbing his sleeve to drag him back. By this point Ryan One has found his feet and walked around behind his friend. Both of them are in the same line of sight for Stokes, and both are backing away. Stokes aims his seventh and his eighth punches, which Ryan Two tries to deflect, as Hales walks up behind Stokes to grab him.
Stokes yanks away from his friend and switches to Ryan One instead, taking seven paces to grab him before throwing his ninth punch of the night. He grabs again; Ryan One blocks that arm and pushes himself back away from Stokes. Ryan Two again intercedes, putting himself between the two with his palms up and his arm extended.
Stokes throws his tenth punch, a right-hander at the face of Ryan Two, then shoves him backwards. Ryan Two backs away once more, four paces. Stokes follows, steadies, lines up, then launches his strongest punch yet, his eleventh, a proper right hook from a solid base, one that cracks across the man’s head and gives him concussion. Ryan Two ends up flat on his back in the middle of the street, his hands still outstretched for a moment in useless protest until they twitch and drop to the blacktop.
Stokes isn’t done. He once more shoves away the restraining Hales and follows Ryan One, who keeps backing away saying, ‘Alright, alright, alright.’ Five more paces from Stokes before another blow at the man’s head. Kai and Billy are now standing over the poleaxed Ryan Two. The video ends, but seconds later Stokes will punch Ryan One hard enough to knock him out too, before off-duty cop Andrew Spure arrives on the scene to bring down the curtain. When the body-camera footage kicks in some minutes later, Stokes is in handcuffs but Ryan One is still laid out in the street. Ryan Two has regained consciousness, folded his shirt under his friend’s head and is asking police for an ambulance.
‘At this point, I felt vulnerable and frightened. I was concerned for myself and others.’ This was how Stokes described that sequence to the court. An elite athlete with years of gym work and training to snap a bat through the line of a ball with astounding power and precision, swinging fists as hard as he can at men with none of those advantages. Punching so hard that he breaks his hand, and repeatedly shoving away a friend so he can punch some more. Frightened and threatened by two targets shouting ‘Get back!’ and ‘Stop!’
The off-duty officer testified that Stokes ‘seemed to be the main aggressor or was progressing forward trying to get to’ Ryan One, who was ‘trying to back away or get away from the situation’. The student who filmed the video can be heard on the tape at one stage exclaiming ‘Fuck!’ and testified that it was because ‘I felt a little bit sorry about the lad that had been punched and it looked like he had his hands up’. That tallied with the prosecutor’s depiction of ‘a sustained episode of significant violence that left onlookers shocked at what was taking place’.
The defendant stuck to his strategy. ‘No, my sole focus was to protect myself.’ All up, in the 33 seconds of footage after he falls over, Stokes takes 35 steps forward to keep hitting two men who keep trying to get away. Not once is he hit back.
After the verdict, Stokes’ solicitor positioned him as the victim. It had been ‘an eleven-month ordeal for Ben … The jury’s decision fairly reflects the truth of what happened that night … He was minding his own business … It was only when others came under threat that Ben became physically engaged. The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present …’ The statement was impossibly self-righteous and self-absorbed.
If there was anyone to feel sorry for it was Ryan Hale, the second of our two Ryans. He’s the one who emerged from the club with a friendly arm around the shoulder for Kai and Billy. He’s the one who interposed himself to end the fight, then kept putting himself back in the firing line, trying to calm an intimidating stranger while dodging blows. For his show of restraint he got laid out regardless, concussed in the street, then was issued a criminal charge equal to that of the man who hit him, and described in national media as a violent bigot in an untested story to support that man’s defence.
Lawyers for Ryan Two made a more convincing post-trial statement, noting that Kai and Billy, ‘neither of whom were relied upon by the prosecution or the defence team for Mr Stokes, have taken the opportunity to speak with various media outlets about the alleged homophobic abuse that they received in the early hours of September 25. Mr Hale has passionately denied this allegation throughout the course of this case,’ it continued.
‘It is upsetting to Mr Hale that although he was acquitted, the accusation that he was the author of such abuse remains. Both Mr Hale and Mr Ali were knocked unconscious by Mr Stokes, and although Mr Stokes has been acquitted of an affray, Mr Hale struggles with the reasons why the Crown Prosecution Service did not treat him as a victim of an unlawful assault.’Good question. Avon and Somerset police were the investigating force, and they were frustrated by the decision. Ryan Two was filmed clearly not hurting anyone, but police were instructed by the CPS to proceed with a charge. Hales (the cricketer) was filmed fighting but ‘a decision was made at a senior level of the CPS’ not to proceed. Police expected Stokes to be charged with assault but the CPS declined. It doesn’t take a wild cynic to think that placing the same lukewarm charge on three men for vastly divergent behaviour might ensure that none would be convicted, even as the trial would maintain the pretence that a defendant of influential standing had not been given a free pass.
A couple of years down the line, the original interview with Kai and Billy has disappeared. All traces have been scrubbed from The Sun website, its social media history, and even from the Wayback Machine internet archive. Given its headline of ‘homophobic thugs’ and text that names Ryan Two but not Ryan One, the libel liability isn’t hard to spot. Later interviews with Kai and Billy take the passive voice – they ‘suffered homophobic slurs outside a Bristol nightclub’.
The article that was once claimed to exonerate brave Ben Stokes now links only to a missing content page, with a picture of a dropped ice-cream cone and the phrase ‘legal removal’ inserted into the web URL. In terms of consequences, Stokes missed one tour. When he resumed his career in January 2018, the Australians hadn’t yet ruined theirs. Their year-long bans looked much more stringent. But the Stokes case dragged on in other ways. With no criminal liability, the Australians confessed promptly enough for the sporting world to give them the full length of the lash. Their situation was ugly but there was closure. Stokes got stuck in legal stasis, unable to be fully backed or condemned. Instead his issue was always present, a browser full of open tabs that the ECB swore they would read any day now.
Through 2018 Stokes was back but he wasn’t back, in the sunglasses and finger-guns sense. In his return one-day series he nearly cost England a match with 39 from 73 balls in Wellington. His first Test hit was a duck as England got rolled in Auckland for 58. At Trent Bridge while Stokes was injured, England posted a world record 481 against Australia. With Stokes three weeks later at the same ground they made 268. He crawled to 50 from 103, the second-slowest any Englishman had reached that milestone in 20 years. That span covered Alastair Cook’s whole career. It was apologetic batting, acting out responsibility via the scorecard. Stokes was creeping back into the team like he’d been kicked out in a blazing row and was hoping to tip-toe to the sofa.
It was December 2018 before the ECB disciplinary committee ruled on him and Hales. In a ‘remarkable coincidence’, wrote Simon Heffer in The Telegraph, ‘the punishment both players faced in terms of bans from playing at international level was covered by the amount of games they had already missed when dropped by England’s selectors, in the furore that followed the incident’. The verdict compounded the omissions around the case by not addressing the violence at its heart. Nor did Stokes, apologising only ‘to my team-mates, coaches and support staff’, and then ‘to England supporters and to the public for bringing the game into disrepute’.
The implicit next step was to rebuild that reputation. It might have been easier had his court defence not meant that he wasn’t game to admit any fault at all. It might have been easier if he or his advisers had been willing to change tack once the trial was done. Imagine a world where Stokes had stood outside court and apologised for overreacting, for the injuries he’d caused, and for the time and energy he had sucked out of other people’s lives. That would have been a show of responsibility beyond a scorecard. When the time came around to assess forgiveness, it might have meant forgiveness was deserved.
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9/11 and the Mandela Effect

9/11 and the Mandela Effect
You’ve probably seen the meme that says we’re living in the wrong timeline. While this sounds like a joke, there might be some truth to it. There are some researchers who claim what happened on 9/11 was a temporal event that caused our timeline to split in two. Supposedly there is a parallel world where the Twin Towers still exist and the apocalypse is being avoided. This is not to say I think we are living in the wrong timeline, but that is something I will get into in another thread. Just know that there is still hope.
Perhaps the darkest timeline is needed for some collective shadow work.
However, I do think our timeline has been altered and probably more times than once. While this is not something you can really prove, there are many oddities surrounding 9/11 as well as a synchronistic pattern hidden in pop culture that seems to point to this. In the movie Back to the Future, after the protagonist accidentally activates a time machine and alters the future, the Twin Pines Mall becomes the Lone Pine Mall. Notice how the clock reads 9:11 when flipped upside down.
134 reads like hel when flipped upside too. Are we living in a bardo state like in the movie Jacob's Ladder or the show The Good Place?
Was this a reference to the Mandela Effect and the Twin Towers becoming the One World Trade Center? In the second Back to the Future movie, the protagonists accidentally create a new timeline where a wealthy man named Biff takes over their town. Biff lives in a skyscraper casino and turns their town into a chaotic dystopia. According to the screenwriter Bob Gale, Biff was based on Donald Trump. This is not a political statement, I’m just saying it’s odd how things turned out.
I wonder if Bob Gale knew Trump would run for president?
In the Super Mario Bros. movie, a meteorite impact millions of years ago caused the universe to split into two timelines, the one we live in, and one where dinosaurs evolved into a humanoid race. President Koopa, a reptilian human hybrid, seems to be another caricature of Trump. President Koopa wants to merge his dimension with ours and attempts to rule Manhattan from the Twin Towers, which are portrayed as a gateway between worlds. The Super Mario franchise is strange when you think about shamans eating mushrooms to commune with serpent gods.
Looks kind of similar, right?
There are many more examples of the WTC acting as a gateway. In an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Twin Towers are used to transmit energy that propels the earth into another dimension. Take note of the sphere between the buildings, this will become relevant later. In the intro of Power Rangers: Time Force, a machine called the Time Shadow is seen standing on the towers. Take note of the moon in the background as well. This will become relevant too. During the final scene of Fringe season 1, the WTC is seen intact in a parallel universe. In the intro of Power Rangers: Time Force, a machine called the Time Shadow is seen standing on the towers. Take note of the moon in the background as well. This will become relevant too. During the final scene of Fringe season 1, the WTC is seen intact in a parallel universe.
I miss cartoons.
Another interesting example can be found in Star Trek. In the show, space explorers are sent back in time to stop an alien invasion in the 1940s that altered the outcome of WWII and allowed the Nazis to invade the US. Once they kill the alien leader, one of the characters tells the protagonist that the timeline has corrected itself just as an image of the Twin Towers burning passes in the background.
From Star Trek: Enterprise
The idea of a parallel world where the Nazis won WWII is very prominent in pop culture. But why is this? Is it possible creative people can intuitively sense other realities while absorbed in the act of creating? Philip K. Dick believed that’s what he did when he wrote The Man in the High Castle. He claimed:
"I in my stories and novels sometimes write about counterfeit worlds. Semi-real worlds as well as deranged private worlds, inhabited often by just one person…. At no time did I have a theoretical or conscious explanation for my preoccupation with these pluriform pseudo-worlds, but now I think I understand. What I was sensing was the manifold of partially actualized realities lying tangent to what evidently is the most actualized one—the one that the majority of us, by consensus gentium, agree on."
Coincidentally, Philip K. Dick was one of the first modern thinkers to predict the Mandela Effect. He once declared:
“we are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in our reality occurs.”
The Nazis were rumored to be in possession of a time machine known as Die Glocke, or in English, The Bell. They were supposedly taught how to build this device by extraterrestrials and the craft was said to be kept in a facility known as Der Riese, or The Giant. It sounds far fetched, but The Nazi Party was actually formed from The Thule Society, an occult group that dabbled in channeling and other magical practices. They were also known to use the Black Sun symbol, an esoteric representation of a gateway into another dimension.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sun_(symbol))
In Twin Peaks, a show about a small town caught in the midst of an interdimensional battle between good and evil, there seems to be a reference to Die Glocke. In season 8 there is a device that looks just like it, and at one point, a character called The Giant appears next to it.
A conception of Die Glocke compared to the mysterious bell device in Twin Peaks.
Twin Peaks is full of occult symbolism. In one episode a character is given instructions to find a portal that opens 253 yards east of Jack Rabbit’s Palace at 2:53 pm on October 1st. This portal is located in Washington. However, there is another in Las Vegas. Strangely enough, on October 1st, 2017, the Las Vegas shooting occurred in a lot 253 yards away from the Luxor Hotel, a giant black pyramid with the strongest beam of light in the world shooting out of it. Victims were mostly those attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival.
There's also black pyramids on the instructions.
But it gets stranger. Jason Aldean was one of the headliners. If you look at his tattoos, there’s a Jack card and an Ace card underneath a black sun, which as mentioned earlier, is an occult symbol that represents a portal. This card from the Illuminati game is almost identical. A Jack is worth 10 points. An Ace is worth 1 point. This odd coincidence seems to be a reference to the date 10/1. Keep in mind this date looks like the number 101. This will become relevant too. But was the Route 91 Harvest a literal harvest of souls meant to energize a portal?
This one is too much of a coincidence for me.
The name Twin Peaks seems to be a reference to the Twin Pillars, a Masonic concept that originated from the Biblical idea of Boaz and Jachin, two pillars that stood on the porch of King Solomon's Temple. The Twin Pillars can be found in ancient architecture all over the world and are sometimes used in Tarot. They are said to represent a doorway into a higher realm. In this Masonic artwork, you can see the Black Sun between them.
Jachin, Boaz, and the Black Sun.
The Twin Pillars and the gateway in between can be represented by the number 101. In Twin Peaks, the entrance to The Black Lodge, a place that exists in another dimension, is depicted as a rabbit hole between two trees, which resembles a zero between two ones. In George Orwell’s famous novel 1984, Room 101 is a place where people’s worst fears come true. In The Matrix, Neo’s apartment number is 101. Here it’s interesting to note that he escapes the matrix by going in room 303. This year marks 303 years since Freemasonry was founded. Perhaps they will make their getaway come December? Many occult researchers claim the Twin Towers were supposed to represent the Twin Pillars. There even used to be a statue called The Sphere placed in between them, making the buildings resemble the 101 Gateway.
The Black Lodge entrance from Twin Peaks and The Sphere centered between the Twin Towers.
Is it possible that the WTC‘s design was intended to create an interdimensional doorway using sacred geometry? Some say the Twin Towers even acted as a tuning fork. The buildings were wrapped in aluminum alloy with a resonant hollow interior. If you look at the picture above and to the right, you can kind of see how the sides of the towers even look like one. The Colgate Clock also once faced the WTC from across the water. If you’ve read my previous threads, you’ll probably notice it’s octagonal shape. Many portals in pop culture are portrayed as being 8 sided, like CERN, the largest particle collider in the world. Many conspiracy theorists speculate CERN is actually an interdimensional doorway. Some of the scientists working there have even said this. Why is there so much symbolism? Can it all really be just a coincidence at this point? Did 9/11 really alter our timeline?
The Colgate Clock compared to CERN.
According to many people, 9/11 is the reason the Statue of Liberty’s torch is closed. However, this isn’t true. Lady Liberty’s torch has been closed for over 100 years. Yet, there are some people who claim to have visited it. But according to official history, this is impossible. In this reality, The Black Tom Explosion was the reason the Lady Liberty’s torch closed. The explosion occurred in 1916 and was one of the first foreign attacks on US soil prior to Pearl Harbor. The explosion was also one of the largest non-nuclear explosions ever documented. The explosion was so powerful it caused the outer wall of Jersey City's city hall to crack and the Brooklyn Bridge to shake. Ironically, besides Lady Liberty’s torch, the explosion lodged shrapnel in the clock tower of The Jersey Journal building, stopping the clock at 2:12 am. It also caused windows miles away in Times Square to shatter. Perhaps the matrix was trying to tell us something. Was this a time shattering event?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Tom_explosion
https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60763-d103887-r126254125-Statue_of_Liberty-New_York_City_New_York.html
Some people also claim they remember the Statue of Liberty being on Ellis Island. However, it has always been on Liberty Island. Once again, this is not something I recall learning in school. I’m sure some people do, but if my theory is correct, it’s because only some people in this timeline are from the old one. However, you can still find what appears to be residue left over from the previous reality.
Residue from a previous reality?
There are references in pop culture that seem to hint at the connection between the Mandela Effect and Lady Liberty as well. In the video game Assassin’s Creed Unity, the protagonist must find an exit portal to get himself out of a simulation. He finds it on the statue’s torch. In the movie Men in Black II, the statue’s torch is actually a giant Neuralyzer, a handheld device that uses a bright white flash to wipe people’s minds. At the end of the movie, the torch is activated and it illuminates the sky, erasing the memory of everyone in New York City.
The scenes from Assassin's Creed and Men In Black II
In the Netflix series The OA, a show about people who can jump between parallel universes, the Statue of Liberty shows up a lot. It seems to play an important role that was never really explained due to the show’s sudden cancellation. Some fans have pointed out that in one scene, Lady Liberty is holding her torch in the wrong hand. Some say this was just an error while others think it may have a deeper meaning.
The Statue of Liberty scene from The OA.
In The OA, the protagonist searches for The Rose Window, an object she says acts like a portal to other dimensions. I find this very symbolic considering the Twin Pillar symbolism mentioned earlier. Many older cathedrals have huge rose windows centered between two tall towers.
Old cathedrals with 101 Gateway symbolism built into the architecture.
If you’ve read my previous threads, you might have already made the connection that the 101 Gateway is another version of the Saturn Stargate. If you’re not familiar with the theory, we live in a simulation controlled by Saturn and the Moon, and The Elite are tying to break out. Our simulated reality is sometimes represented by a cube, and some say The Kaaba is one of these symbolic structures. The Kaaba sits between two pillars underneath a clocktower with a crescent moon on top.
Kaaba at Mecca.
Ironically, Fritz Koenig, the artist who created The Sphere sculpture between the Twin Towers, said The Kaaba was the inspiration behind his art installation. We can see this symbolism repeated in much of our pop culture as well. In the video game Fortnite, a giant cube destroys a location called Tilted Towers then forms a portal in the sky. At another point in the game, it is revealed that the cube’s true form is a giant demon named the Storm King. His horns are reminiscent of a crescent moon.
The second time you fight the Storm King its at a location called Twine Peaks lmao.
But are there anymore significant Mandela Effects associated with the WTC? According to some people, Hurricane Erin never happened in their timeline. If you‘re unaware, like I was until recently, there was a massive hurricane headed right for New York on the morning of 9/11. Because of the events that occurred on 9/11, I understand how Hurricane Erin would be easy to forget. Nevertheless, the storm was strange. Hurricane Erin, which was slightly larger than Hurricane Katrina, received almost no media coverage as she charged toward New York City. On the morning of 9/11, just as the planes were about to hit, Hurricane Erin grew to her largest size, but slowed down and remained almost stationary off the East coast. But right after the WTC fell, she made a sharp right turn and headed back out to sea.
Hurricane Erin on September 11th, 2001.
Hurricane Erin’s name is also interesting. The name Erin originated from Ériu, a goddess typically seen by the sea playing a harp. I find this curious becau HAARP uses extremely powerful radio frequencies to heat up the ionosphere and create clouds of plasma. Not only does this affect the climate, but the electromagnetic waves produced by it could hypothetically mess with our minds, perhaps changing or even erasing our memories. se many conspiracy theorists blame HAARP for both weather manipulation and the Mandela Effect.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89riu
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-frequency_Active_Auroral_Research_Program
In my last thread, I talked about MH370. I believe it’s disappearance, like the events discussed in this thread, was a part of a Saturn Stargate ritual. A sacrifice to the god of time. Would it be beyond the god of the fourth dimension to grant someone access to a wormhole? Perhaps The Elite are not purposely creating Mandela Effects and branching timelines. Perhaps it is just a side effect of trying to beak the matrix. But I digress. At the end of my last thread I said I would talk more about rabbit symbolism and its association with time travel. However, before I talk about that, or the Law of One, I thought I should talk about this first. Thanks for reading.
Oh yeah, in case you did read my last thread, check this out. The fact that this article was posted 2 weeks after my MH370 conspiracy post has me kind of spooked lol.
https://nypost.com/2020/10/07/washed-up-debris-on-australian-beach-could-belong-to-missing-mh370/
submitted by nickhintonn333 to conspiracy [link] [comments]

10 More Overlooked Single Player Indie Games

Here’s a link to the first post with 10 other overlooked indie games.
Introduction
We're all familiar with the Hotline Miami's, Hollow Knight's, and Celeste's of the world. These are some of the indie games that hit the big time. Of course, for every one of these games, there's 100 other indie games that have been glossed over, relegated to a spot in a digital store few people will ever find themselves in. I wanted to bring attention to some of these lesser known indie games. I'm going to order them according to Metacritic Critic Ratings. Some of the games at the bottom have pretty low critic ratings. I personally disagree with the low scores of these games, but it's only fair that you hear from more than just me.
Price will include a link to the U.S. store page of the game. Price is in U.S. dollars.
1. Inertial Drift
2. Pumpkin Jack
3. Pato Box
4. Ultra Hat Dimension
5. Penarium
6. SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption
7. Tamashii
8. Daggerhood
9. The Bunker
10. Cybarian: The Time-Traveling Warrior
Have you played any of these games? What are some other overlooked single player indie games?
If you’re looking for more indie games to play, see my post here:
submitted by Underwhere_Overthere to xboxone [link] [comments]

20 Overlooked Single Player Indie Games

We're all familiar with the Hotline Miami's, Hollow Knight's, and Celeste's of the world. These are some of the indie games that hit the big time. Of course, for every one of these games, there's 100 other indie games that have been glossed over, relegated to a spot in a digital store few people will ever find themselves in. I wanted to bring attention to some of these lesser known indie games.
I'm going to order them according to Metacritic Critic Ratings. Some of the games at the bottom have pretty low critic ratings. I personally disagree with the low scores of these games, but it's only fair that you hear from more than just me. Keep in mind that games with only one or two User Ratings on Metacritic will not show the score. A game needs at least three User Ratings on Metacritic before the score will be shown. This is not the case for Critic Reviews.
Price will contain the U.S. PlayStation Store link to the game.
1. Hayfever
2. Valfaris
3. Four Sided Fantasy
4. Bleep Bloop
5. Horizon Shift ‘81
6. Daggerhood
7. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
8. Ultra Hat Dimension
9. Remothered: Tormented Fathers
10. Reverie
11. Inertial Drift
12. Cursed Castilla (Maldita Castilla EX)
13. Pato Box
14. The Count Lucanor
15. The Bunker
16. A Tale of Paper
17. Late Shift
18. SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption
19. Verlet Swing
20. Neon Drive
Conclusion
My top 5 on the list in order would be the following: (1.) Hayfever, (2.) Valfaris, (3.) Cursed Castilla: (Maldita Castilla EX), (4.) Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, and (5.) Bleep Bloop.
Have you played any of these games? What are some other overlooked single player indie games?
If you’re looking for more indie games to play, see my post here:
submitted by Underwhere_Overthere to PS5 [link] [comments]

No Game Is Perfect: A New Vegas review thingy written by a New Vegas Fanboy

Hello this is me from the past before I wrote the review talking right now, just wanted to say I'm betting100 caps on this getting downvoted enough where it gets no attention or people simply not caring, oh well my dad always said "Just keep moving forward", he got hit by a biker because he walked into the street after he said that. Besides that, I had also reviewed Fallout 4 and I forgot about a lot of the key features like songs etc. planning on making this one better. But without further wait let's continue!

"Too many people have an opinion on things they know nothing about. And the more ignorant they are, the more opinions they have." -Scientist man from Camp McCarran
Fallout New Vegas was released by Obsidian Entertainment on October 19th, 2010 for North American audiences and released on October 21st for Australia and the next day for European audiences.

Let me just first of all shoot down the time restraints argument, 1. Bethesda had given them full access to their engine meaning a large amount of work was prebuilt for them 2. The bros working on the game had even said the engine was great to work with 3. They built an entire sewer system for Vegas instead of working on things that should have been more important, it wasn't Bethesda's whole fault, Obsidian bit off more than they could chew. Now that's out of the way let's start with the good

DA GOOD:
New Vegas has awesome writing, the main quest is well written sure but the real star is the side quests. New Vegas has about 75 unique side quests compared to the 17(?) 3 had and each one shares a unique story. You could be scouting competition for a show in a casino, finding prostitutes, helping ghouls go to the moon, or doing mercenary work for the NCR. What is even better is most quests had multiple ways to finish them, weather that be through skill checks, or other manners. It gave you a good amount of role playing freedom to develop your character how you desire. This leads me into the point that every NPC can be killed so you can really turn you character into a jackass, it makes it so you have consequences for every action you take.
Obsidian really struck home with the amount of small details as well, for example when your gun jams you use actual techniques to unjam them from real life. They even added in a unique card game called caravan and 3 different types of currency.
3 is regarded as the darkest game in the franchise, while the atmosphere is darkest, I believe NV takes the cake for darkest theme. It touches subjects on things like slavery, racism, prostitution, corruption and politics that you don't normally see in other games. It is grim as fuck and I appreciate the game for taking a look at the dark themes the apocalypse can bring.
DA BAD:
Like fallout 3 NV's combat has a lot left to be desired, it is reliant on vats and can be bothersome. At least it added crosshairs though
Another issue is how damn empty the map is. It feels like most of the map is located north near Vegas and the southern portion is empty as hell, It almost feels like it was designed for an isometric view like Fallout 1, and 2. I get it, the Mojave desert is an empty fucking place but jesus you could have taken the initiative and added more tribal stuff, or combat zones where everyone was wiped out, or war memorials or something. As well as the amount of invisible walls on mountains is just annoying.
Caesars Legion is also so underdeveloped it is sad. Going with the Legion basically locks you out of 75% of the map since it is all NCR controlled. They made an entire empty sewer but skimped out on a main faction.
I hear a lot of people always complain about bugs but I saw no less than any other Bethesda game so idk maybe I'm lucky.

Probably done. Remember this is just my opinion and anyone is allowed to disagree, feel free to discuss in the comments.
submitted by User_not_ to Fallout [link] [comments]

A return to gaming in 2020: catching up on a missed decade.

Prior to this year, it’s no exaggeration to say that the only game I’d played in full since about 2010 was the original BioShock. Not really sure why I stepped away from gaming - probably just some usual combination of life getting in the way and dodgy prioritisation. Then, like many others, I became acquainted with a boatload of surplus indoor time this year, and chose to find my way back with an N3DS and a Switch. Turns out I really missed it. I’ve been slowly playing through a variety of titles I missed the first time around, as well as various others I’ve stumbled across along the way.
In compiling this list, I have learned that my gameplay times are crushingly slow, people have extremely strong opinions about the Paper Mario series and actually it turns out a really poorly specced PC was holding me back from gaming all this time. Would love to hear what others thought of this selection of games, especially those who hold dissenting opinions about my DNF list (I expect plenty in support of Xenoblade, lol). Be warned this is all through the lens of someone who is plainly just thrilled to be back in the fold and has zero concerns spending way more time than necessary to complete games! I suspect I have more patience and rosier-tinted glasses as compared to the average weathered gamer, so would also be interested to hear how my experiences stack up in the wider gaming context.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Total play time: ~30 hours
Zelda factored little in my adolescent years, and apart from renting OoT a handful of times for the 64 (and spamming bombs in SSB) this is pretty much the only Zelda experience I've had. It's kind of a blessing and a curse, from what I can tell: I have none of the hangups but equally none of the emotional connection that often seems to accompany the franchise. I really only played this because it had been given to me and came highly recommended.
But this was about as good as introductions get - sure, it helped that this was essentially the first console game I'd played in its entirety in over a decade, but the game is clearly exceptional by all accounts. It seems I love a good gameplay mechanic where it doesn't tip into gimmickry, and the wall merge system I found novel, baffling and satisfying without ever being too frustrating.
I obviously can't speak to the nostalgia aspect of it, but coming to it fresh was a charming experience. It's pretty hard not to be at least casually familiar with aspects of Zelda lore, and I liked that there weren't any lengthy cutscenes (looking at you, Ōkami) or tedious tutorials to slog through. The storytelling is a little naff but not distractingly so, and for me the pretty predictable ending was offset by the fun final boss battle. And you sure do feel good solving some of those puzzles.
I'm not yet game to branch out into the open world of BotW, but I'm pretty glad my maiden Zelda foray was this one instead. More games ought to allow one to become a painting.
Highlights: big bomb flower lols, boss battles that were satisfying / a great relief to complete
Ōkami HD Total play time: 50:57:29 Completion %: 50/100 stray beads
I remember seeing promo material for this game back when it was first released and thinking the brush mechanic was dope - a hype disproportionate to the amount of PS2 I owned (none). So regardless I was probably always going to be predisposed to like this game.
This was the first game I finished on the Switch and I enjoyed it immensely. The art style is killer and helps it look great for a game of its age into the bargain, the brush mechanic and the puzzle element it introduces feels integrated rather than gimmicky, and the storytelling is rich and humorous. I know others have commented that the game is overly long, but I enjoyed being in the world enough that it never felt a slog. (This coming from someone who has played 100+ hours of Picross but…)
I will agree that the combat system was pretty whatever, though. I am a pretty rubbish gamer by conventional skill standards and even I found this game wildly easy, but I think that also speaks to my enjoyment of the game as an all-round narrative experience rather than pure mechanics. An additional dishonorable mention for having to fight Orochi no less than three times?! Sure, going back in time was a pretty neat narrative arc and I could forgive repeating the fight in that context, but by the Ark I was sure they had to be taking the piss.
Unlocking the additional skins gives this game some replay potential for me, especially the photorealistic wolf, laughable only in hindsight. The existence of about twice as many stray beads as I collected also means I may dip in and out in future, but mostly I have minimal desire to bring my dragon-head-whacking count up to 48. Nevertheless, a pretty inimitable experience, even if it took me a decade and a half to get there.
Highlights: the dang art style, drawing an emoji face for my demon mask and seeing it show up again in Sei-an City
Paper Mario: Sticker Star Total play time: ~30 hours
I can understand the criticism of this game: the combat system sucks and makes traversing through the world often not very fun, the characters are unmemorable, the necessity of having certain stickers to win certain fights is infuriating, the plot is generic, the lack of levelling up is nonsense. None of that stopped me from enjoying this game, though! Take that! As always, this was probably helped immensely by the nostalgia I carry for the original Paper Mario on the 64 and the fact I hadn’t really had any other Mario games to compare it to for a long time.
The super vitriolic abuse it seems to cop online feels a bit disproportionate but. From poking around the series, it looks like one that people are particularly vocal about, with the only correct answer being “TTYD is the best game in the series and all other future titles will be held against this specific benchmark”. Honestly I’m just glad I played this game without the knowledge of what the gaming community thought of it, because I don’t think this is a genuinely bad game.
Kirby: Planet Robobot Total play time: ~20 hours Completion %: 81%
Evidently I rather enjoy the cute-thing-in-a-mech-suit genre, between this game and Gato Roboto. But I have very fond memories of playing The Crystal Shards and am a Kirby main (lol) in SSB so I could probably be coerced into playing literally any Kirby game. I don’t have too much to say about this game; I think anyone familiar with the franchise will understand pretty much how it plays, but the mech suit mechanic is a heap of fun, with copy abilities possible both in and out of the suit.
There were some little details that I thought were quite fun: the collection of stickers that you can use to decorate your mech was bonus entertainment, the variety of gameplay styles in the final boss battle, the remote control Kirby in the casino levels. It looks great, it’s charming, and as mentioned, I like an idiosyncratic feature that isn’t gimmicky, and I think the mech suit ticks that box. I picked up Extra Epic Yarn off the back of this, too - it just looks so dang sweet.
What the Golf? Total play time: 08:24:56 Completion %: 97% Total strokes: 11656 Games I subsequently want to play: Superhot
If there ever was a time for escapism, the middle of a pandemic seems to be a pretty good candidate, and I am certainly guilty of using this game as a bit of a feel-good salve. But what the golf, it was a grand old time, and I think we can all use the laughs it provides. I bought the game off the expectations set by the trailer and was happily not disappointed.
This is a pretty straightforward game by all standards: simple overworld, three levels per stage, emphasis on silly in "silly physics". It feels like the schtick should get old pretty fast, but there's enough sly nods and references (and straight-up gameplay duplication) to keep it fresh and consistently funny. Caveat: pun disdainers avoid.
It's the perfect game to dip in and out of - none of the stages are particularly long, and while some of the pacrown levels can be a bit frustrating, you're not at all forced to complete them in linear fashion. Nevertheless, I played this game in pretty lengthy stints, so the format isn't a barrier in that sense either.
I know this is a fairly new game to the Switch, but it's been out on PC for a while it seems. I bought it only having seen it in the eShop, so if there was a hype train, it did not make a stop at my station.
Highlights: the Superhot levels, WHAT?, the constant anticipation of what a button press would do in a new level
Ori and the Blind Forest Total play time: 14:44:46 Completion %: 96% Total deaths: 488
It’s something of a classic, and evidently with good reason - I think I would have played this game for its art alone, but of course its reputation has since come to precede it. It runs really smoothly on the Switch, and the platforming is tight and enjoyable. Not sure how common it is in the wider world, but I really liked the save mechanic - as a chronic saver, I rather appreciated being responsible for setting my own save points, especially when it came to some of the more challenging sequences. I expected to struggle a lot with this one but I found the challenges fair, even the escape sequences, much as I may have wanted to burn down the Ginso Tree on the first few attempts.
Feels like most people who’ve had an eye on it have played it by now, and there’s plenty of reviews out there for those on the fence to decide either way, but personally I’m very glad to have played and finished it. I’ve since been told that both the sequel and Hollow Knight eclipse this game, though I do have some idea of what to expect from both. Now if Will of the Wisps could just get a Switch port...
Mosaic Total play time: ~3 hours
I’d been wanting to pick this game up because a friend of mine had a hand in its creation, but I kind of could not have picked a worse time for it. Without spoiling anything, the premise of the game is being stuck in a very boring corporate dystopia, and a lot of the gameplay revolves around the repetition of your daily routines. Obviously this kind of experience can already be a little harrowing at the best of times, but in the middle of a global pandemic where time feels completely immaterial it was often a bit much.
Certainly the gameplay won’t be for everyone; there is a lot of walking around in this game, and you can interact with various depressing billboards and your smartphone in ways you think might have some kind of a purpose but ultimately formally contribute nothing to your game - so in that sense, it’s kind of a bang on expression of its premise, though its messaging can be a little on the nose at times.
If you’re into the visual style and can get down with the premise, this is a unique gaming experience which is both lovely and deeply unsettling at times. If you’re at all curious, the website gives a fairly clear mission statement of the game.
Gato Roboto Total play time: 05:23:28 Completion %: 78%
Short and sweet, this one, and looks and feels great. I’d never really picked myself as one for metroidvanias, but this game came onto my radar after Ori and I was looking for a shorter, punchy game in a similar style, and this delivered on expectations.
As mentioned, I’m kind of crap at games, so the difficulty for this one felt about right for me. There were a handful of times the boss battles threatened to tip into frustration, but mostly it was just my timing being off (second stage of the mouse battle in the heater core comes to mind) as well as in the earlier parts of the game where I had just been lax in picking up healthkits.
I’ve seen some complaints about it being too much of a Metroid clone, but you can’t get down with that criticism if you’ve never played Metroid *taps head*. Its short length seems to be another frequent comment, but if you’re going in with expectations suitably managed then I think there’s not too much to fault otherwise. But of course this is coming from someone who has played basically no metroidvanias in their life lol.
And finally, my DNF list:
submitted by theburningflame to patientgamers [link] [comments]

A Cinematic Guide to The Weeknd: Pt 3. My Dear Melancholy and After Hours

A Cinematic Guide to The Weeknd: Pt 3. My Dear Melancholy and After Hours

My Dear Melancholy

Gaspar Noe/Cannes Film Festival
The My Dear Melancholy era notable for being a time when The Weeknd was in proximity to a lot of serious directors. While he’s had a foot in Hollywood for awhile, 2017 through 2019 he was actively engaging with filmmakers like the Safdies Brothers, Gaspar Noe, and Claire Denis, amongst others. While he had been actively courting the Safdies since Good Time was released, he attended the 2018 Cannes Film Festival where he crossed paths Noe, whose film Climax took home a number awards at Cannes. Noe’s Enter the Void had previously served as an inspiration for Kiss Land, and for MDM (and later After Hours) seem to call back to Noe’s other films, like Irreversible and Love, which are both twisted depictions of heartbreak. On the other hand, Climax is about a French dance troupe who accidentally take LSD, and according to Noe is not a “message” movie. It is an audacious psychedelic technical exercise, with numerous long takes and highly choreographed set pieces. The idea for Noe, who had previously captured the feeling of drugs in previous films, was to do the opposite, and present the objectively reality of drugs, watching people high from a sober perspective.
Noe is a rather strong advocate of film, and the opening scene of Climax features VHS boxes of a number of films that have influenced his filmmaking. Two of note are Schizophrenia, otherwise known as Angst, one of Noe’s favorite films which The Weeknd name checked to the Safdies, and Possession, which would go on to be an influence on After Hours (more on this later). He is also said to have sat next to Benicio Del Toro at Cannes, which means he likely caught some of the Un Certain Regard section, where Del Toro served as a jury member. Outside of that section, there were a few other films of interest such as The House That Jack Built from Lars Von Trier (The Weeknd has previously expressed affection for Von Trier’s Antichrist), Mandy from Pastos Costamos, and music video director Romain Gavras’s The World Is Yours, as well as a restoration of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Noe has referred to as the film that got him into filmmaking.
https://preview.redd.it/qga7a3l8ct261.png?width=910&format=png&auto=webp&s=371cf20d42ee8783cc23bfe7f2cfa16a0a927a0e
Asian Cinema
Later in 2018, The Weeknd continued his globetrotting with a tour of Asia. He once claimed in an interview that whenever visiting a foreign country he only watches films from there. I’ve previously written about the influence of Asian cinema on Kiss Land, and there’s not enough work from the MDM era to glean anything cinematically adjacent to this, but now would be a good time to mention that the "Call Out My Name" video was heavily inspired by the work of famed Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto. The Asian tour poster seems to be a reference to Ichi the Killer, which leads us to Takashi Miike. Though he is notoriously prolific across a number of genres, his most popular works internationally are genre melding blends of horror, comedy and crime, most notably Audition, Ichi the Killer and Gozu. Another film worth mentioning is Perfect Blue, Satoshi Kon’s masterwork about a pop star’s mysterious stalker that The Weeknd posted about on Instagram before. Bloody and haunting, the film was a major influence on Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream. In Interviews he has also mentioned a number of Korean films, such as The Wailing, I Saw the Devil and Oldboy. While Wong Kar Wai was previously mentioned as an influence on Beauty Behind the Madness, also worth mentioning is the work of John Woo, specifically A Better Tomorrow, well known for the shot of smoking a cigar off money, and Infernal Affairs, Andrew Lau’s crime classic which served has the basis for Scorsese’s The Departed.
https://preview.redd.it/fx7o9s2bct261.png?width=642&format=png&auto=webp&s=0fec2f841e9d3b09104238d0f89595daa6140faa
https://preview.redd.it/n4x7fiy9ct261.png?width=1316&format=png&auto=webp&s=8a9650263272518216fc5f36913e80a10d2b0a8e

After Hours

Martin Scorsese
While After Hours more so than any other Weeknd album is bursting at the seams with cinematic references, the influence of Martin Scorsese stands above all. Similar to The Weeknd’s body of work, many Scorsese’s are explorations of violence and masculinity, investigating them from a perspective that depending on who you ask (and how they’re feeling) glamorizes, condemns or just simply presents the reality of characters on the fringes of society.
While there are direct references to a number of prominent Scorsese films, what’s interesting is that his influence also reverberates in other films/filmmakers that influence After Hours. Todd Phillips’s Joker is in effect an homage to Scorsese’s loner-centric New York films, and the Safdie Brothers have been putting their own millennial spin on the type of 70s gritty thriller that Scorsese trafficked in (Scorsese was also a producer on Uncut Gems). Specific Scorsese works will be discussed more in depth in the requisite sections, but it is worth mentioning upfront what a prominent role that Scorsese plays in the nucleus of After Hours.
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Urban HorroIsolation
With After Hours, The Weeknd departs from the slicker sounds and influences that permeated Starboy and returns to the cinematic grittiness of Beauty Behind the Madness. While urban horror is a theme that permeates throughout The Weeknd as a project overall, there is a thorough line to be drawn here that follows a number of 70s and 80s cinematic and aesthetic references. For one thing, while the initial bandaged nose was a reference to Chinatown (previously, The Weeknd has a Kiss Land demo titled "Roman Polanski"), the full bandaged face that is so prominently featured throughout the After Hours era is a classic cinematic visual trope that was especially prominent throughout 60s and 80s, though it saw a slight re-emergence in the 2010s. The fully bandaged face is often used to remake someone in the image of another, usually against their will (The Skin I Live In, Eyes Without Face), or as a case of mistaken identity and doppelgängers (Good Night Mommy, Scalpel), themes present throughout much of After Hours. The "Too Late" video acknowledges these references, but instead presents the bandages on two Los Angeles models recovering from plastic surgery, in a nod to a famous Steven Meisel’s photoshoot for Vogue Italia.
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The “masks” people wear is another horror trope that is featured prominently on After Hours, and this is best seen in the red suit character. One important reference in the film is to Brian De Palma’s Dressed To Kill, where a serial killer is targeting the patients of a psychiatrist (any more on this film will veer towards spoiler territory). The Weeknd is on the record as saying Jim Carrey’s The Mask as being a large influence on the Red Suit character, it being one of the first film’s he watched in theaters. One of the more complex references would be to Joker. While it sort of an in-joke that the character of the Joker is commonly overanalyzed and misinterpreted, referencing Todd Phillips’s Joker is more nuanced because it is in essence a full on homage to Martin Scorsese’s New York films, most notably Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, which focus on eccentric loners, and can both be seen as cautionary tale of urban isolation, a theme explored perhaps in songs like "Faith." The King of Comedy revolves around a would be obsessive stand up Rupert Pupkin haggling his way to perform on late night TV, with The Weeknd’s talk show appearances being a prominent part of the early After Hours marketing, most notably in the “short film”. This idea of isolated and compressed urbanites recurs throughout After Hours and it’s films.
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The idea of urban repression is in the subway scene of the After Hours short film. The entire film itself is something of a reference to the subway scene to Possession (another Gaspar Noe favorite), mimicking the (also subway set) scene in which Isabelle Adjani’s Anna convulses on the subway due to a miscarriage, as well as Jacob’s Ladder, a 90s cult classic horror film starring Tim Robbins as a Vietnam vet (like Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle) who is experiencing demonic hallucinations, encountering them in the subway and later at a party he attends, splitting the scene into two.
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Las Vegas
As always, The Weeknd once again grounds After Hours with a strong sense of place, this time setting the album against a nocturnal odyssey through Las Vegas. One of the most prominent films is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s book. This is directly referenced in the "Heartless" video, which sees The Weeknd and Metro Boomin in the Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro roles as they tumble through a Las Vegas casino. The Weeknd has gone on the record to state that the famous red suit character was influenced by Sammy Davis Jr.’s character in the film Poor Devil. However, similar red suit has also been sported by a number of Vegas characters, most notably Richard Pryor and Robert De Niro’s Sam Rothstein in Martin Scorsese’s Casino. With the red suit, The Weeknd seems to be playing with the idea of a devil-ish other, another side of his personality that emerges in Las Vegas.
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While the city lights are the oft discussed part of part of Las Vegas, it should be noted that similar to Beauty Behind the Madness, the desert that surrounds Las Vegas is just as important to the juxtaposition of its beauty. The "Until I Bleed Out" video ends/"Snowchild" video in the desert, similar to the confrontation between Robert De Niro’s and Joe Pesci’s showdown in the desert in Casino, as well as Joe Pesci's death in Goodfellas. The idea of a hedonistic desert playground also bears semblance to Westworld, both the film and the TV show. The desert seems to represent some sort of freedom to The Weeknd, as the "Snowchild" video portrays the desert as a pensive location for reflection, as well as the "In Your Eyes" video showing the girl prominently dancing with the dismembered head out in the open, in reference to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, another prominent desert film.
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New York/The Safdies
Despite it’s Las Vegas setting, After Hours also takes a good amount from films set in New York, most notably Martin Scorsese’s 1983 film After Hours. Besides the title, After Hours is similarly about a twisting and turning nighttime odyssey. The film stars Griffin Dunne as Paul, a working class stiff who heads downtown to rendezvous with a woman he met at a diner earlier that night. Of course, things don’t turn out the way they should, chaos ensues, and Paul is set on a dangerous trek back uptown. Like the film, the album After Hours is set off by a woman (though the album takes more stock in romantic endeavors), seems to be set over a single night (or at least a condensed period of time), and involves similar chaos and misadventures (sirens at night at the end of Faith). Tonally, After Hours the film is more comedic perhaps than After Hours the album, however The Weeknd is on the record as having said that "Heartless" and "Blinding Lights" placement on the album is intended to be somewhat comedic, reflecting exaggerated machismo and ecstasy, respectively (to comedic effect).
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Another of the most prominent filmmakers of After Hours are the Safdies, who featured The Weeknd in Uncut Gems. They also served as a link to Oneohtrix Point Never, who scored their last two films and later worked After Hours. I believe there are three major film tropes (not genres) that inspired After Hours, all of which the Safdies’s have engaged with. There is the one-long-night films, in which a character spends one-long-night on the run from whatever chaos and forces may be that they left in their path. This can be seen in the Good Time, as well as After Hours (the movie). Then, there is the descent-into-madness type, where a character slowly loses grip with reality and ends up in over their head (something like Scarface or Breaking Bad, but for our purposes Jacob’s Ladder can be categorized here as well), which the Safdies did with Uncut Gems. Lastly, but maybe most importantly, the Safdies also explored toxic romance (more on this later) in their less seen film Heaven Knows What, about two heroin addicts and the destructiveness their love brings out in each other, an idea that recurs throughout After Hours on songs like "Until I Bleed Out" and "Nothing Compares." A recurring song throughout Heaven Knows What is Isao Tomita’s synth version of Debussy’s "Claire De Lune", which is featured in some episodes of Memento Mori and bears some resemblance to the start of "Alone Again".
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Obsession/Toxic Romance
While love and lust and the ups and downs with it have been a formative part of The Weeknd’s ideology and themes, I don’t think it would be remiss to say that After Hours is perhaps his most outwardly romantic album. Despite this, one of the major arcs of the album is toxicity that comes with it, which a number of already mentioned films deal with. While "In Your Eyes" is one of the more romantic and accessible songs on the album, a re-assessment of it Ala Sting’s “Every Breathe You Take” could frame it as lonely obsessing, such as Travis Bickle’s infatuation with Jodie Foster’s teenage prostitute Iris, Joker's fixation on Murray Franklin, Rupert Pupkin’s obsession with Jerry Langford. Casino also deals with toxic romance, another prominent theme in After Hours, best seen in the love triangle that forms between Sam, his partner Nicky and his wife Ginger, played by Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone respectively.
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In almost all of the After Hours’s video content, The Weeknd seems to constantly meet his demise at the hands of women. Another interesting reference that may be something of a reach is to Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film about Reynolds Woodcock, a couture dressmaker loosely based on Cristobal Balenciaga and his muse Alma, played by Daniel Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps, respectively. The film delves into their dysfunctional relationship, with Woodcock berating her and Alma poisoning his tea to keep him dependent on her. One of the highpoint of the film is a New Years Eve Party that bears strong resemblance to the "Until I Bleed Out" video. While the balloons may just be a callback to his earlier work, there is something about the color grading/temperature and the production design of the "Until I Bleed Out" video (as well as parts of the "Blinding Lights" video) that made me immediately think of Phantom Thread. A similar relationship is seen in the German horror film Der Fan, which The Weeknd has mentioned in a recent interview. In Der Fan, a young girl Simone spends her days obsessing over popstar R, until she finally encounters him outside his studio. The film is similar to the aforementioned Takashi Miike’s Audition in its exploration of obsession and idealization. In the film, an older man puts up a fake casting call to search for the perfect girlfriend. While Audition explores these themes from an Eastern perspective of societal pressure, Der Fan explores it through a Western lens of pop idolization and idealization. Both films deal with the idea that despite outward appearances, the perfect partner does not exist, and anyone that claims to be (or has the expectations put on them) is not who they seem.
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One film he has spoken at length about is Trouble Everyday, Claire Denis’s arthouse vampire movie. The film stars Vincent Gallo as Shane, a scientist who travels to Paris under the guise of his honeymoon to track down core, a woman who he was once obsessed with who has now become a vampire. Core is locked up in a basement but sometimes sneaks out to seduce and consume unwilling victims. This seems to be where some of the bloody face stuff comes from, but I believe it’s influence is a little more conceptual. To me, a good companion film to Trouble Everyday is American Psycho, which seems to also have been a thematic influence on After Hours. Both films concern idealized version of masculinity and femininity, both very sexual and physical, but hostile as well. American Psycho ends with Patrick Bateman confessing to the killing of a prostitute, but no one believe him. Trouble Everyday ends with Shane killing Core, but Shane is unable to arouse himself after that except through violence. Koji Wakamatsu, a former Yakuza turned prominent extreme Japanese filmmaker (and a major influence on Gaspar Noe) is quoted as saying “For me, violence, the body and sex are an integral part of life.” Despite being hollow, idealized impressions of the self, a vampire and as a banker (cold, seductive bloodsuckers = monsters), Patrick Bateman and Core represent the Frankenstein-ian relationship between sexuality and violence, which I believe is the main theme of After Hours. Truly, we hurt the ones we love.
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Postscript

To cap things off, I would just like to illuminate some key takeaways. As a filmmaker myself, this has been an extremely helpful exercise in understanding other artists process and ideas.
Steeped in the history of the medium…
It’s clear that The Weeknd is not your typical “I’m influenced by cinema” artist but an extremely legit film buff with serious credentials. The Weeknd’s film taste leans towards 70s-00s genre works, mostly horror, drama and thriller, and is well versed in the classics but also has the nose to sniff out deeper cuts and obscurities. The mantra of “good artists borrow, great artists steal” works even better if not many people know where you’re stealing from! What is impressive to me is that he is not just versed in “mainstream” obscurities, but also serious deep cuts. Films like Possession and Phantom of the Paradise may not stick out to the average person on the street but are well known in most film circles. Films like Inland Empire and New Rose Hotel (Der Fan was especially impressive to me, it is one of my favorite films) however are not as well known and it is very impressive to me that he can come across films like that, and really get enough out of it to bring into his own work.
…is able to interpolate contemporary/mainstream films…
This perhaps is one of the most impressive aspects of his integration of film into The Weeknd’s work. It is very easy for film buffs to get lost within their own obscure taste, living in a world where everyone is an idiot for not knowing who Shinya Tsukamoto. Trilogy and Kiss Land had a lot of contemporary obscurities, like Stalker, David Lynch etc., well known but they still existed as artifacts, not of the time we live in. However, perhaps picking something from his work on Fifty Shades of Grey, of late he has kept his finger on the zeitgeist and anticipated/integrated what the filmmakers of today are doing, such as his work on Black Panther and Game of Thrones, general appreciation of Tarantino, the works of Nicolas Winding Refn in Starboy, and his use of the Joker and Uncut Gems on After Hours, both of which came out just a few months before the album. It feels Jackson-esque, and I believe this is one thing that will help him further in his quest for pop stardom.
…while also being fully in tune to the works of modern transgressive auteurs…
In addition to keeping up with the mainstream is in touch with, The Weeknd also makes it a point to seek out and learn from the cutting edge filmmakers of today. While the Safdies were always going to blow up, I don’t doubt that a Weeknd co-sign accelerated their rise. Gaspar Noe is one thing, Enter the Void and Irreversible exist as masterpieces of the mainstream obscurities I’ve been mentioning, but he really truly tries to understand the heart of Noe’s work, even going so far back as to understand Noe’s influences (I sincerely hope he is tuned in to the work of Koji Wakamatsu). But most of all, to be a fan of Claire Denis is one thing, but to seek her out and make her an offer that she ACCEPTED is absolutely astounding to me. Just spitballing but it would be like if Michael Jackson shot a music video with Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who I’d bet good money that The Weeknd was put on to by Noe). We can only PRAY that one day we will be blessed with a David Lynch Weeknd video.
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…and that just about does it. Hope you enjoyed this and thanks for being patient with me. I got quite busy after the first two and had my own projects/work going that kept me occupied. As we’re still technically in the After Hours era, I also wanted to wait until a few more videos and interviews came out to aid me in my research.
I also wanted to find enough time to make the Letterboxd for this. I personally don’t love Letterboxd culture, I find the popular culture surrounding the site a bit snobbish and exclusive, but I’ve gotten a number of requests for one and you gotta give the people what they want. Throughout the list are a few films that he hasn’t mentioned but are some of my personal favorites and I believe Weeknd fans will like, I encourage you to accidentally stumble upon things on it. Don't overthink, just pick something and watch!
If you’d like to follow me further, you can find me on Instagram here, where I post about film reviews Letterboxd style. I prefer Instagram so that more average people see it instead of an echo chamber of film snobs. I am also a filmmaker myself, I just recently wrapped this short film and am currently in the process of putting together my next project.
The main reason I did this however, besides a general appreciation of The Weeknd’s work, was to put more people on to the beautiful art form that is cinema. One thing I learned from Scorsese is that one must be an advocate and truly champion your medium. I hope that this encourages to check out more interesting movies than they wouldn’t normally come across, and I hope this will inspire more people to create more as well, whether it be to write, make films, music, anything. If even one person picks up a pencil, a camera or a keyboard because of these posts, I will be satisfied.
Thanks all!
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