Doctor Who: Stranded 1 (Big Finish)

Slight spoilers ahead. Listen to all of Stranded 1 first.

I recently listened to volume one of Big Finish’s newest Eighth Doctor adventure series, called “Stranded 1”. I’ve not listened to any other recent Eighth Doctor adventures, so I’m not at all familiar with his current companions, or even the circumstances that led to them being stranded in modern-day London, but I’ve pieced together enough from these episodes to kind of understand. (It’s kind of the comic-book story syndrome, where things happen that link back to previous stories (for instance, such and such happens and you get a text box telling you, the reader, to refer back to Issue No. 45 of either that strand or some other franchise)) That might be a big bit of confusion for some listeners (not being explicitly told what led to this situation really bothered me), but maybe there’s enough setup here.

Anyway, the premise here is intriguing: the Eighth Doctor and his companions are stuck in modern-day London with no functioning TARDIS. The Doctor doesn’t even have his sonic screwdriver. UNIT doesn’t even currently exist (as per the TV episode “Resolution”). I guess Torchwood exists because (spoiler warning) two characters mention Torchwood, but this incarnation of the Doctor can’t be allowed to learn about Torchwood (the Tenth Doctor is the first one to learn about that organization, remember? The end of series two of televised Who?). So they move into a house the Doctor somehow owns on Baker Street. (How does the Doctor own this house? I don’t know. This set of stories makes no effort to explain this. Just go with it) That house has been converted into flats, so the Doctor and companions deal with neighbors.

Volume one is presented as four episodes, each the length of a standard 25-minute (approximately) episode. Each episode has a self-contained adventure while lending to an ongoing arc.

Episode one (Lost Property) establishes the premise, and introduces a character briefly seen in televised Who, that being the Curator from the end of The Day of the Doctor (that 50th anniversary episode that aired a while ago). Played by Tom Baker, this episode carries on the idea of never explicitly stating either that he is a version of the Doctor (he’s definitely probably not the Fourth incarnation and definitely probably maybe possibly a future incarnation who already knows all these events). All the hemming and hawing about that is a bit annoying, but it does allow that version to hint at what’s to come later in the series. Plus you get Tom Baker on audio, which is never a bad thing.

If there’s a complaint I have about how these episodes are structured, it’s how the brevity of the episodes doesn’t really allow each episode’s specific plot to develop and breath. Each episode is trying, simultaneously, to continue the ongoing plot while also doing its own thing. Often this leads to the episode-specific plot emerging in the last 10 minutes of the episode and being hurriedly resolved. Sometimes it’s not even resolved (maybe I had files missing from the end of episode three (“Must-See TV”, a phrase that I’m not sure translates to UK culture because I don’t know if that phrase was ever a marketing term there in the ’90s like it was here on NBC but whatever) but that episode ended really abruptly, like in the midst of the episode’s villain boasting and scheming) when the end theme plays. I wish each episode’s plot had time to develop more. As it is, only episode four feels really fleshed out.

Speaking of episode four, that’s where all the plotlines and character development really comes together. However, I want to make mention of some neat guest casting, that being Tom Price, reprising his Torchwood character of Sergeant Andy Davidson. He’s one of our two links to Torchwood, the other being a character that apparently actually works to Torchwood in some capacity. Andy even gets to hang out with the Eighth Doctor a bit in episode four (“Divine Intervention”), which is fun to hear.

We have new supporting characters introduced with the other flatmates in the Doctor’s building on Baker Street. There are some neat dynamics in play, and hints for future episodes. I’m intrigued to find out what role Torchwood is going to play in the ongoing story. I’m not too invested in the relationships forming, as I don’t know about the companions (one of the companions doesn’t like to carry a cell phone, presumably due to something that happened in a previous adventure. What happened? I don’t know. Stranded makes no attempt at an explanation, just a hand-wavey “well, it happened in an earlier adventure, go listen to that”, which is all fine and dandy but doesn’t help me here).

So Stranded is Big Finish attempting something altogether new in Doctor Who, and I’m always up for that. In some ways it succeeds (the new characters are interesting. If I had the time, it’d be neat to listen to introduction stories for these current companions, but I don’t, so…). It manages to still feel like Doctor Who while not having anything that makes Doctor Who Doctor Who (at best it’s sort of similar to the early Pertwee era, but there’s no UNIT for the Doctor to hang around with). In other ways Stranded fails (no time for episode-specific plots to develop).

Either way, I’m on board and eagerly awaiting Stranded 2, if and when that ever happens (given the current world situation). I recommend giving it a listen.


The Doctor Who Story That Does Not Exist

Story time! Here is my strange and unexplained Doctor Who memory:

Back in 2005-2008, I was learning about Doctor Who for basically the first time. When the show returned it was a show I barely remember watching as a little kid in the late ’80s, and my brief return to it in ’96 with the McGann movie. It just wasn’t something I knew much of before seeing Eccleston in the role on Sci Fi Channel. Anyway, during that first series, I was in a rush to read as much as I could about the show, and that checking out books from the University’s library system. One of those books was a hardback bound collection of academic essays discussing the development of the show and various stories throughout the show’s run. I remember skipping ahead to the Fifth Doctor’s seasons.

Skip ahead several years to 2009. Doctor Who is taking its first real break, with only a handful of episodes airing throughout the year (from “The Planet of the Dead” to “The End of Time Part 1”). A group of fans on the Gallifrey Base (or was it Outpost Gallifrey then?) got together to do what they called “The Great Nap Year Marathon”, where they would watch the show from “An Unearthly Child” to the most recently televised episode (which at that point, and for most of 2009, would be “The Planet of the Dead”). I joined in, and watched stories along with new discussion threads that would be posted. While most participants in the marathon were rewatching these episodes for the nth time, I was seeing original Doctor Who for effectively the first time; it was all new to me.

We eventually got to the Fifth Doctor’s seasons, and that’s when the spring semester was done. I fell out of touch with marathon discussions and stopped watching the show. I looked ahead to the list of Fifth Doctor stories and saw one that I remembered reading several essays about. It was the concluding chapter in a trilogy began back with Jon Pertwee’s Doctor, and saw the Doctor returning to that titular planet. The story was called “The Nightmare of Peladon”.

This was a story I’d read several essays about, and I was eagerly anticipating watching this story. For those who don’t remember, “The Nightmare of Peladon” continued that season’s trend of returning to the past, bringing back elements, creatures, locations, from the past. The Doctor was called back to Peladon to deal with the possible outbreak of war between Peladon and other planets in the Federation. The representative of Alpha Centauri made a return appearance, and was again the one to recognize and remember the Doctor. The Doctor, along with Tegan and Nyssa, try to maintain peace between the Federation planets as someone is trying to seed distrust and start a war, destroying the Federation. The Fifth Doctor, along with the Alpha Centauri representative, brought representatives from all the major planets together to broker a peace conference. This story marked the final appearance of Peladon, and brought to an end the “Peladon Trilogy”.

With the Nap Year Marathon, different people posted trailers for each story to begin discussion. I remember watching the trailer for “The Nightmare of Peladon”, seeing the name in the title sequence, and I clearly remember watching scenes of the Fifth Doctor meeting the Alpha Centauri representative and reintroducing himself, and the Alpha Centauri rep learning that Time Lords can regenerate and change their appearance. I remember watching scenes of the peace conference, with all the characters meeting in a great hall, around a great table, with the Doctor at the head of the table. The Ice Warriors were also in this story, but were really only a cameo appearance.

The marathon came and went and I never did get around to watching this story, or any other Davison stories. I forgot all about this story.

Until two years ago. Twitch ran a huge marathon of original series Doctor Who, going from “An Unearthly Child” all the way to “Survival” (while skipping incomplete/missing stories and all non-Terry Nation-written Dalek stories). This was the marathon that spawned numerous Doctor Who memes (“London 1965” “Salami Sandwich” “Heathrow, some 140 million years ago”, etc). I watched as much of this marathon as I could, and was looking forward to the Davison seasons. Finally, I had a good reason and opportunity to watch all of the Davison seasons. I’d finally get to watch all of “The Nightmare of Peladon”, and react to it with the Twitch chat.

There was only one problem.

“The Nightmare of Peladon” does not exist.

The Davison seasons came and went and there was no showing, no mention of this episode. No one in chat made any reference to Davison’s Doctor returning to Peladon.

Confused, I looked around online. I searched episode lists, I searched the TARDIS wikia. I searched anywhere and everwhere for any mention of the title. The story simply does not exist. I couldn’t even find a mention or reference to either the academic essays I’d read or the Gallifrey Base threads I frequented or the trailer I’d watched.

This was much worse than a story going missing from the BBC archives, as 97 episodes do to this day. This entire story simply fails to exist in this reality.

The essay being about a fake story I could reason with. Either done as a joke or a “trap street”, an entire series of essays about a story the essay writers made up could be something that happened. How, though, would you explain the Gallifrey Base thread? Were they in cahoots with the essay writers? What about the trailers, and the actual scenes from the actual episodes starring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, and Sarah Sutton that I watched? How does all of that end up not existing? Maybe it was all a dream I had, albeit a very vivid dream.

Okay, so it wasn’t televised Doctor Who. Maybe Big Finish did it as an audio story and I listened to it at some point. They do tons of Doctor Who stories, and love to revisit original series stories. Surely they’ve done a “Nightmare of Peladon” story with Peter Davison. Sorry, no such Big Finish story exists. So maybe it was a novel at some point in the ’90s. There were lots of novel strands, ranging from the Virgin New Adventures, the continuing adventure novels, the Eighth Doctor Adventure novels, and so many more. Maybe it was among those. Searching the title “The Nightmare of Peladon” returns no results whatsoever. So maybe I’ve got the title wrong. Nope, there was never a Fifth Doctor adventure taking place on Peladon in any media whatsoever, ranging from Big Finish to novels to even fanfiction. It does not exist anywhere in any form.

Anyway, there you have it, my memories of having watched bits of a Doctor Who story that I can never again watch because it does not exist.

Nintendo Switch Online: December 2018 NES Games

Nintendo have just rolled out the December 2018 NES games for Nintendo Switch Online. As expected, there are also some special editions thrown in as well.

DuOBOzcUwAAcKJX.jpg large

New this month are The Adventures of Lolo (a fun puzzle game for the NES, and also the first of a trilogy of games), Wario’s Woods (another puzzle game that’s kind of a blend of Yoshi’s Cookie and Dr. Mario), and Ninja Gaiden (a fun sidescroller, but I kind of prefer the sequels).

Nintendo has also been adding special editions of already-available games, versions set to certain conditions. First is Dr. Mario, which starts you at the end of level 20-Hi, with a small number of viruses left to clear, so you can see the game’s rarely seen UFO segment. The second is Metroid, which gives you all power-ups just before the fight against Ridley, in honor of Ridley’s debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Games I Don’t Think Anyone Remembers: Meteos (DS)


It was summer of 2005. I had had my Nintendo DS for a while, and I had heard about this new puzzle game just released for the system. It was called Meteos, and its style and mechanics intrigued me.

Meteos was a puzzle game. I’ve always been a fan of puzzle games, going back to Tetris and Dr. Mario on the NES. Meteos had a sci-fi style, with a story about planets battling with each other by launching blocks back and forth. The gameplay revolved around the DS’ touch screen and stylus: you moved blocks along vertical columns by touching and dragging them with the stylus. You lined up multiples of the same and those were launched to the top of the screen. If they were launched with enough force (ie. you get enough combos going), they go beyond the top of the screen to another player’s planet. The game becomes a sort of tug-of-war, with each player burning Meteos and trying to overload other player’s fields, in effect destroying their planet. The game had its share of power-ups to shake up gameplay.

There were different planets you could play as. Each planet had its own unique musical style and instrumentation, as well as Meteos symbols. In addition, each planet had its own level of gravity. Some planets had extreme gravity, meaning blocks fell quickly and you needed to build up a lot of combos to launch your Meteos off the screen. Some planets had very light gravity, meaning you could launch more Meteos quicker.


I remember playing against friends a lot in this game, and how fun it was. The DS was still a new handheld at that point, and I was getting used to the wireless gameplay the system offered, compared with the game link cable required for the Game Boy family of systems. Technology was progressing. Friends and I would occasionally play between classes or just before the weekly anime club meetings.

I would also play it on my own just because it was a really fun puzzle game, with a lot of personality, and a lot to unlock. The main story mode had multiple branching paths (made visually clear by a branching path you could take through the story mode (you chose which planet to go to next, and the planets available to choose were determined by your performance in the previous match).


The game also had a great soundtrack. I would carry a pair of earbuds around with me just so I could hear the music even when playing out and about campus. Each planet had its own musical style and instrumentation.

I remember there being a sequel released, but I never got or played it. Maybe it was that it was based on Disney properties, and lost that unique character and style the original had. Meteos was all about that interplanetary block puzzle-based warfare, and making it about Disney characters was a bizarre choice. I lost track of the games after that.


It wasn’t until I got an XBOX 360 back in 2011 that I learned that an additional game had been made and released on that system. Called Meteos Wars, it was released on XBOX Live Arcade. I downloaded and played it, but I don’t remember much about it.


I remembered the game the other day while playing Lumines on the Switch. Something about Lumines’ style reminded me of Meteos. Today I learned why.

You see, Tetsuya Mizuguchi was the producer of Meteos. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, then maybe you’ve heard of other games he either created or worked on. He worked on such games as Sega Rally Championship and Sega Touring Car Championship, and was partially in charge of Rez and Space Channel 5. Games he created include Rez, Lumines, and Child of Eden, all games with a heavy emphasis on interactive sound elements.

Then there’s Meteos’s lead designer, a guy named Masahiro Sakurai. The same Masahiro Sakurai in charge of the Super Smash Bros. series, although at that point we just had the first two games in the series. You get these two guys working together on a game and you know you’ve got something good.


As of this point, Meteos Wars on XBOX Live Arcade is the last game in the series. It’d be neat to see it come back, maybe for the 3DS. I don’t think it’d work as well on the Switch, as a lot of its style was based around having those two screens. However, given Sakurai’s heavy workload in regards to Smash, and Mizuguchi working on Tetris Effect, I don’t know if or when it’ll ever happen.

Does anyone else remember Meteos?

Remembering the Chronicles


Way back in the early 2000s (way back? Is it really so long ago?), a neighbor and I would hang out after school and play multiplayer Gamecube games. We played a lot of Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart Double Dash!!, Tales of Symphonia, and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, but one game in particular stood out among the others, that being Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. We played through the entirety of the game together, and eventually I borrowed his copy and my mom and I played through the game together. Eventually I would move on, graduate high school, go on to University. Life would progress. I lost contact with that neighbor, and those adventures we went on in those games became happy memories tucked away in my mind.

A couple weeks ago I got my own Gamecube, and got my own copy of FFCC. As I opened the package and saw the game’s case, memories rushed back to me, and I suddenly started remembering just why I love this game so much, why just hearing the opening theme, “Kaze No Ne“, makes me tear up.

I remember all those times hanging up with my neighbor, strategizing over the game, about who has which spell, which items, who should attack and how. He played a Selkie, I played a Yuke. I still have that save file on a GCN memory card. I still have that character, that old friend. I remember bringing that character over to a new save file so my mom and I could play together, journey through the world of the Crystal Chronicles. I remember just how much I truly enjoyed playing through a beautifully-made RPG with my mom, who loves RPGs just as much as I do. I remember she played as a Lilty, and we fought our way through those dungeons, collected those treasures, defeated those bosses, made our way to the end of the caravan’s journey and restored peace to the world. I treasure those memories. It makes me start to tear up again remembering just how happy that was.

I’m sat here listening to “Kaze No Ne” and the sound of that music, the voice of the singer, brings it all back.

I could go through all the technical details that I’ve realized lately concerning FFCC, about how it is one of the truest realizations of what an RPG really is in video game form: a role-playing game, a traditional table-top game, in the vein of Dungeons & Dragons, a bunch of friends hanging out, playing out an adventure, the story drawing organically from the conversations and jokes among those friends as they design their characters, make decisions, travel, deal with monsters, obstacles, and puzzles along the way. That’s what RPG campaigns like D&D are really all about, what makes them so popular, what makes me such a fan of the whole idea. FFCC recreates this so perfectly: discussion among friends playing about who will collect what weapons/spells, who will get what items, how everyone will attack, what everyone discovers along the way, how everyone reacts to what the game presents, how everyone works together to overcome the game’s challenges. FFCC does this so amazingly well.

I could go on about the game’s music. The game had an amazing soundtrack, from the opening theme to the background music. It was all so peaceful and beautiful, among if not the best soundtrack for any game on the Gamecube. I could go on about the visuals; they look dated today, but they still hold up so well. I could go on about the gameplay: I love the real-time combat, the way you unleash focus attacks and cast spells. I love how you and others can combine spells to make more powerful attacks. I could go on about the game’s story, about how emotional it is experiencing your character’s struggle to overcome the miasma and restore peace to the world, and how great it is to experience that with friends. I could go on about the experienced story, the story outside the game, that which you yourself experience with friends as you play.

Could it be the sacred wind
It’s calling me to now begin
To walk into the dark carrying the light of tomorrow

I was talking with my mom today, mentioning that I’d just obtained my own copy of FFCC. She also started remembering the game, and went on about how much she loved everything about it, and wishes she could play it again.

“Cast a spell for me when you play tonight,” she said when I told her I’d be playing it tonight. I really miss those times. I wish we could play the game together again.

Beating are the wings up high
Beyond the earth, beyond the sky
Come now, don’t hesitate
Don’t look back, we’ve got to go now

Don’t fear
You’ll be safe from now on
Morning sky watching over the world