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Friday, 27 March 2015

Mesozoica and Prehistoric Kingdom: Spiritual Successors to Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis

When I was growing up four video games dominated my childhood and three of them were very similar: Zoo Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon 2 and Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis, (the fourth was Kingdom Hearts and later Kingdom Hearts II). The basis for Zoo Tycoon and its sequel was that you had to design, create and run your own zoo. In 2003 Blue Tongue Entertainment in association with Universal Interactive released Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis. It was similar to Zoo Tycoon except that you had to design, create and eventually open your very own Jurassic Park to the public. Characters from films, (unfortunately book characters who weren't in the films didn't make an appearance), helped you run your Jurassic Park; you would send Alan Grant to dig up dinosaur fossils, Dr Henry Wu would extract the dinosaur DNA so you could have dinosaurs and Ellie Sattler would tell if you if one of your dinosaurs was ill. I got the game in 2004 for my eight birthday and loved it. When I was older it was the first game that I managed to hack to fix a glitch and it was the first game that I played with mods; today I can't play an Elder Scrolls game without mods. It scored highly in many different gaming magazines and reviewers, Metacritic gave the PC version 72/100 while GameRankings 72.81%. Recently I even found out the game was rushed out and they wanted to do so much more with it! There was talks that a sequel would be released to coincide with a possible new Jurassic Park but unfortunately the parent company THQ closed down Blue Tongue with the rights to Operation Genesis with it. Although a sequel was now impossible many people wanted at least a spiritual successor and partially got one with the iOS game Jurassic Park: Builder. However I found a possible new spiritual successor. Going through YouTube I found out about a game called Prehistoric Kingdom, (PK), which seemed to be a possible successor that we have been dreaming of. However when looking about more information about the game a YouTuber called Best In Slot Gaming did a few videos about another game called Mesozoica. Now we had two spiritual successors. This week I thought it would be good to talk about both games; they won't be out by the end of 2015 or at the latest 2016 but they look very promising indeed.
Now let's look at the first one that I discovered: Prehistoric Kingdom.

Prehistoric Kingdom
 The above image is one of the models for PK of a Mosasaurus which was a large aquatic reptile that lived during the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, (if you watch the trailer for Jurassic World it is the same species that jumps from the tank and eats a shark). The inclusion of Mosasaurus is a promising sign as it gives the player the ability to make aquatic exhibits, something which Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis lacked. Other aquatic species have been confirmed including the giant shark Megalodon which, when alive, ate whales. In fact there will be 160 prehistoric animals in the game which they plan to rise to 202 in DLCs! The developers have even said that they are spending time on each species in order to make them seem realistic as well as give each species their own animation to make them seem truly alive. Even if they manage to do this for half the animals this would allow PK to make the player properly engaged with the game. However the developers have announced that PK will not just feature animals from the Mesozoic era, (the Age of Dinosaurs), but also animals that lived before and after the dinosaurs. Animals slated to appear have included Dimetrodon, (a Komodo Dragon sized reptile with a sail on its back that lived millions of years before the dinosaurs), mammoths, Titanoboa, (a 13 meter long snakes that lived in Colombia after the dinosaurs went extinct), and even Dodos! With this wide variety of animals to put in a possible zoo or wildlife park it could make each playthrough different. Another point to make is scientific accuracy. The developers have seemed to take note about recent updates in paleontology and have at least designed some of the creatures to fit to those new finds. Therapod dinosaurs, (the bipedal carnivores like T Rex), were found to be feathered and many of them, including Velociraptor, will be feathered in game. Tyrannosaurus has also been found to have feathers and they plan to have a feathered Tyrannosaurus and other therapods in the game but you have a choice whether to breed either a scaly or feathered dinosaur. This can allow you to have either a traditional Jurassic Park style Tyrannosaurus or a foreboding eagle like one. For example the famous Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III has been found to walk on fours and live more like a crocodile and the below picture shows that they've tried to do credit to the new theory.
Many different plans have been made in regards to gameplay. In the Zoo Tycoon franchise you had an ability to go either on a campaign mode where you had a certain amount of money and had to complete a series of challenges without running out of money and a sandbox mode where you had unlimited money to be creative with your zoo. It seems that PK has adopted both of these so you can either challenge yourself with a limited amount of money to build your ultimate prehistoric park or be creative with unlimited amount of money. Actual gameplay they have again been creative with you having the ability to go into an aerial mode to design your park but also a first person view where you can act as a keeper/guest and walk around the island that your park is on as well as physically drive the helicopter and jeep slated to be in the game. This would take much programming to do but if they manage to do it the gaming experience should be greatly enhanced. How do you get your extinct animals though? In Operation Genesis you had to send fossil crews to dig sites to dig up fossils which would then be extracted in a lab. PK has adopted a similar tactic where you have to send teams out to dig up fossils but they have added a new level to this concept. Your animals can breed which Operation Genesis missed out to keep in canon with the books and films. This can add a new level to the game as you could have a runaway population through overbreeding animals, (it would be amusing though to see a park full of dodos because they are overly fertile). With each animal having their own animations it could lead to some interesting mating dances which brings us onto another point: the AI.
I've put in the above image because it is Gallimimus, (the 'flocking this way' dinosaur from Jurassic Park), as the developers have said that they've put effort into the flocking AI for animals like Gallimimus. They also announced a realistic predator-prey relationship where herbivores move into herds as predators stalk them. Although difficult to do the developers plan to put full realistic AI in for the animals, (including guarding or raiding nests), which can add an extra level of detail to the game if done correctly. The final point to make about PK for now is emphasis on managing along side creating your kingdom. For example you have to make sure the fences get enough electricity to function so you may have to decide between having a fully lit hotel or having a Tyrannosaurus enclosure properly electrified. Another feature in regards to this is having to wait until a fence is fixed while in Zoo Tycoon or Operation Genesis you could simply drag and drop a new piece of fencing over the broken one. This could add an extra level of difficulty and challenge to the game.

The developers for Mesozoica have managed to show us an actual bit of gameplay what would be expected in the final product, (PK only the tech demo gameplay). Although it may be hard to tell in the above image but it looks very promising and we could have a very well designed finished product, especially as they are using Unity to create the game. First off you may be wondering what animals will be appearing in the game? The developers have announced a wide variety of Mesozoic fauna including the famous Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops to my favorite dinosaur Deinonychus. For those who don't know when Michael Crichton was writing Jurassic Park he liked the name Velociraptor but the real life animal was too small to be an antagonist so he attached the name to a larger relative, Deinonychus so Velociraptors in Jurassic Park are Deinonychus. This was one of the dinosaurs announced in UI Tech Demo and is a very good idea going for a less well known dinosaur as the first ones confirmed. The UI Tech Demo also announced that Mosasaurus would appear in the game and a stream on Twitch where fans could ask about the game it was announced that pterosaurs would also appear. In the same stream they announced that they do not have a list of Mesozoic fauna that will definitely be in the game for a very good reason. They want the fans to choose what they want in the game so they can have the dinosaurs, pterosaurs and other Mesozoic life that will truly interest fans as well as avoiding shoehorning in a particular species. Keeping with the fauna themselves they have been open about how much they have been working on the AI and in a Twitch stream on of the developers has stated that the predator-prey relation has been worked on extensively. They said that prey could hear or smell the carnivore much before they could see if and would either start to run or defend themselves accordingly while the carnivores sometimes could smell or hear the herbivores before they could see them and would then begin to stalk the prey.
On the 10th March 2015 this was released by the team showing an Allosaurus, (a carnivore from Late Jurassic Wyoming), hunting a Stegosaurus. If this predator-prey relationship is perfected we could experience a very thrilling game. Like Operation Genesis in Mesozoica you have to send teams out to fossil sites to dig up bones so you can breed dinosaurs. In Operation Genesis you were rewarded for how much you research a dinosaurs DNA by having it live longer, researching it to 60% could have a dinosaur live for 2 years while researching it to 100% could make it live to 10 years, (the less advanced programming available in 2003 meant the game could not handle a dinosaur living for so long because of the different algorithms at work). Mesozoica has adopted something similar but at the same time vastly different. The more you research a particular dinosaur or other animal you can unlock different skins for your dinosaur and with the Deinonychus at least, feathers. If done well could unlock a huge wave of creativity to the game as it would mean that no two playthroughs would be the same. On one you could focus on Stegosaurus over a raptor so have a wide range of Stegosaurs while having one scaly raptor while on another you could have a feathered raptor to just having one plain Stegosaurus. I am also looking forward to seeing an alternate version of this dinosaur:
The Dilophosaurus famous for killing Dennis Nedry is confirmed although minus the frill due to no scientific evidence of it.
They also have a realistic Spinosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, (hopefully with the ability to have it with feathers), but you have the ability to excavate the Jurassic Park style of both dinosaurs so you could have a realistic and JP Spinosaurus living side by side. Mesozoica offers four different play styles: the typical aerial creative view, a first person interactive view, the P.V.D, (Personal Visitor Drone), which allows you to take photos of your park and the ability to play as one of your animals! This I am particularly excited about as it takes the best elements of Primal Carnage and gives you the opportunity to wreak havoc Jurassic Park style. Particularly it could come in useful to test if your fences are possibly raptor proof to stop a possible mistake. The amount of programming to do this is massive from what I've heard they may pull it off, (I've heard a rumor that someone who worked on Primal Carnage is working on Mesozoica but how valid the rumor is I don't know and would much appreciate it if someone could tell me). Something quite impressive is the use of radars to create exhibits for aquatic and flying animals which can be put anywhere instead of clunky aviary walls and tanks so this could create unique exhibit designs. Mesozoica seems so far to focus on a campaign mode where you choose one of three companies, Gelco, Hadisoft and Eternemax, to fund your park but each of these companies have pros and cons which can add a whole new level to the game. As well as creating dinosaurs the developers have announced that you take on more of a managerial role in the game and can create either an eco-park or a ultra-capitalist park creating mass amounts of merchandise and quoting Ian Malcolm: "You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you're selling it". Again this adds another layer to gameplay but also you have to make in game decisions which could affect what your advisers think of you. For example cutting back on security could make your Security chief dislike and recaptures escaped dinosaurs at a slower rate or reducing funding to the dig sites could make the chief there not dig up any bones. The developers also announced that some paths you choose could have similar effects. One example they gave was the CEO of your company wants a T Rex steak and you have to decide whether to kill and cook a Tyrannosaurus or bear the brunt of the CEO. Also corporate espionage can happen and a Dennis Nedry could steal your DNA allowing a rival dinosaur park to come about. In order to stop this you would have to keep Security on side but at the same time do you cut the funding to your vets or paleontologists?
 Final Thoughts- Both games look very prospective and I would love to see a sequel to both; possibly a collaboration? Hopefully both will live up to the hype and it is amazing how two games with the initial idea to be a successor to Operation Genesis took two very different approaches. Both teams though could learn from each other as PK has a forum but no livestream while Mesozoica has a livestream but no forum. Both has allowed fans to properly engage with the developers and hopefully the games will reflect this engagement. If I've left any important information out I apologize: I either didn't mention it because I did not know about it or understand it. Thanks for reading and next week it will be the next part of An Alternate History Scenario for Every Country.

Friday, 20 March 2015

An Alternate History Scenario for Every Country (Part 5)

Welcome back to An Alternate History Scenario for Every Country! (Part 1: and the last post: Here we do any scenario ranging from the realistic to the unrealistic and look how the history of each country could have gone. Let's begin.

Madagascar- King Andriamasinavalona does not divide Imerina
Imerina was a small kingdom in the hills of central Madagascar ruled by Andriamasinavalona. His rule was seen as being a golden age of harmony, peace, prosperity and justice and he is remembered as being a kind and just king. However late in his reign he divided his kingdom into four for his four favorite sons to rule over and his nephew Andriambonimerina to succeed him as king. This was done as Andriamasinavalona believed that the kingdom would be better defended by four brothers working together than just one as sole ruler. However when he died in 1710 the kingdom of Imerina fragmented and took 77 years to be unified again. In this scenario he makes his most powerful son, Andriantsimitoviaminiandriana, his heir and makes his three other sons vassals of the heir. When Andriamasinavalona dies the new king manages to keep Imerina united so the 77 years of conflict never rocks Madagascar. The new king would make the nobles pledge allegiance to him and starts enacting decrees which he passed in our timeline such as having anyone fined to set fire to a neighbors house. He would also continue to expand Imerina which started under his father and with his brothers Imerina's boundaries in our 1810 would be acquired much sooner and by 1787 the entire island would be under Imerina's rule. Imerina had the best weapons on the island so the conquest would be easier without the 77 years of conflict. The kingdom's succession rule would also be different with the king's following Andriamasinavalona and nominating their nephew as heir in our timeline so in this one they would nominate the favorite son. Imerina's expansion would also bring together the vastly different cultures across Madagascar and in an effort to reduce unrest the kingdom allows religious tolerance. Imerina expanding to the sea at a faster rate would allow rich landowners, (most likely the royal family), would take advantage of the trade from the Ottoman Empire, Portugal and Dutch East India Company. Soon as spice, cotton, gold and silver is traded in the eastern coastal towns the local farmers earn mass amounts of money through trading coffee, vanilla and lychees. Eventually the royal family moves to Manakara. Soon the kingdom has a growing middle class outside the royal family and adopts western weaponry and even changes religion to Christianity to build relations with the French traders. Fearing western influence in Madagascar Queen Ranavalona I bans Christianity earning vast reprisals from the French. The French invades, replaces the queen withe her son and the French establishes a protectorate. In the 1890s following years of uprisings the French officially annexes Madagascar, (something done much earlier in our timeline), and like in Vietnam they rule through a puppet king/queen until independence in the 1960s following years of fighting. 

Tunisia- Rome does not destroy Carthage
Following the Third Rome-Punic War the Romans captured the capital of the Carthaginian Empire in 146 BCE and burnt every building in the city as well as enslaving 50,000 city residents and if some sources can be trusted the Romans even sowed the soil with salt. The city soon became ruled from nearby Utica and today is a suburb in Tunisia's capital Tunis. In this scenario after taking the city the Roman Senate tells Scipio Aemilianus not to destroy the city and it is instead immediately made a Roman province. To keep Carthage from ever rising against Rome though Scipio Aemilianus and his force remains in the city to ensure that the army does not declare an independent Carthage as soon as Rome leaves. All slaves owned by Carthaginians are either freed or confiscated and given to retiring legionnaires. The Romans then start a process of 'Romanizing' Carthage by building temples worshiping Roman gods, creating Roman council buildings, making Latin the official language to be used by city officials and replacing Carthaginians with Romans. Roman rule would resemble their rule in Greece and Jerusalem with a Carthaginian 'King' being overseen by a Roman consul. The first consul would most likely be Scipio Aemilianus. Nevertheless Carthaginian and Carthage's religion would still be widespread, especially among peasants surrounding the city in arable lands, where the Carthaginian officials would adopt Latin to get higher up in society. Eventually Carthaginian would resemble a mixture of the original language and Latin, (like how Old English is a hybrid of Latin and Gaelic). Carthage would however try to rise up against Rome occasionally but these uprisings would be put down. Caesar for example would use Carthaginians to help him take Rome but when they try to reestablish independence after he becomes Emperor he would crush them under an iron boot. When Rome starts to collapse Carthage would finally declare independence as New Carthaginia; a new nation with a mixture of Roman style governance, a hybrid language of Latin-Carthaginian and a sizable population of Christian Vandals who fled to Carthage to escape persecution due to the Carthaginian religion allowing more diversity in the region. This would remain so until the area is conquered by the Umayyad dynasty and Islam is established as the main religion with a few people keeping the original religion. Modern day Tunisia would have Carthage and not Tunisia as the capital.

Greece- The Aetolian League, Sparta, Macedon and Achaean League unite against Rome
From 214-205 BCE Rome was at war with the Kingdom of Macedon, (most of present day Greece), and its ally the Achaean League while the Aetolian League, (another regional power), and Sparta allied with Rome. Eventually Rome managed to conquer the entirety of Greece. In this scenario Macedon manages to convince Sparta and the Aetolian League to fight Rome based on the older Greek alliance against the Persians, (made famous with King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans). The shared religion, government type, history and language convinces Aetolia and Sparta to turn against Rome in favor of their Greek brothers and sisters in Macedon. The united armies of Macedon, Sparta and the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues manage to easily defeat the Roman allies of Illyria, Elis and Messina who are quickly conquered by their neighbors, (the Achaean League making a land grab in Illyria and taking Elis). Soon Rome distracted by Hannibal calls a truce and the united front subdues the Attalid dynasty, (a Roman ally in west Turkey). With the Greek states victorious politicians and scholars have an idea: to unite Greece. With the public of the different Greek states rejoicing and the interaction between Greek hoplites during the war creating a more united front this allows Greece to unify. However it would be a very decentralized state with disagreements about who exactly would rule Greece and where the capital would be starting to emerge. It would be decided that the leaders of each Greek state would form a council that would meet at an ever changing city, (the most common meeting place being the more neutral Delphi), but the everyday ruling of the Greek states would be left to that state's particular leader. With the unified Greece great epics are written commencing the heroism and bravery of the Greeks compared to the Romans and the leaders of the states would be in as high regard as the Greek heroes of old such as King Leonidas of Sparta. Greece would compete with Rome in Egypt while seeking new conquests against the Seleucids in Turkey. However this unity would not last long with differences between the states becoming apparent and the different cultures between the varying states causing friction. After all Sparta was much different than Athens with Spartans promoting women much more compared to the Athenians. Soon the states would declare their own sovereignty with some closer to Rome declaring their alliance to Rome. When Julius Caesar takes power in Rome his armies with conquer the western Greek states, (close to hundred and fifty years later than in our timeline), and by the 1st Century CE Greece would be a Roman province. 

Ethiopia- Ethiopian revolutionaries drive out the Italians
Throughout the Italian occupation of Ethiopia, (1936-1941), there was a guerrilla campaign against the Italian occupiers but they failed to drive them out until the Second World War. In this scenario following the Yekatit 12 Massacre, (where 30,000 people were murdered in revenge for an assassination attempt on Italian Viceroy Rodolfo Graziani in 1937), the Ethiopian population rise up against the occupiers. The exiled emperor Haile Selassie returns to his country to help lead the revolutionaries who rallies behind him for two reasons. The first is that he was a loved figurehead and the second was members of the Ethiopian aristocracy, (at least 125 people), were murdered during the massacre so it would be seen as him avenging himself. With such a wide scale revolt Mussolini sends more troops to put down the revolutionaries but his forces not used to guerrilla warfare find themselves constantly harassed despite their advanced weaponry. Local bandit revolutionaries such as Weldegabriel Mesazgi in the Mereta Sebene district become heroes and get widespread support. Mussolini would then pour in more resources to put down the revolutionaries, (funded by the Hitler regime), as volunteers from across the world flood to Ethiopia to help the revolutionaries in a scene similar to the Spanish Civil War. In 1938 another assassination attempt on Graziani succeeds making Mussolini pour more and more troops into the country. Soldiers indiscriminately killing civilians become more common as paranoia sets in seeing revolutionaries everywhere. When Mussolini's son is killed by a bomb on his plane in 1939 Mussolini pulls out of Ethiopia allowing Haile Selassie to return to Addis Addaba in victory.

Kiribati- Invaders from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji fail to come
 Following 1300 CE invaders from Tonga and Samoa invaded the island chain of Kiribati and later invaders from Fiji came. In this scenario the invaders fail to arrive at Kiribati thanks to harsh weather in the Pacific which destroys the invasion parties. As a result the culture, language and even ethnicity of Kiribati would be vastly different. Like Vikings in Europe the invaders from Polynesia and Melenesia brought their culture with them and many stayed settled down in Kiribati. Many of them married people native to Kiribati which blended their cultures. Without this Kiribati would not have some of its culture imported from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. To look at what Kiribati culture would be like we can look at its more northerly neighbor Micronesia where the invaders had less of an impact. It can easily be imagined that Kiribati would have a similar culture then to Micronesia. The language would also be different with Kiribati having much less Polynesian borrowings so we would have a much altered language as well. In regards to the ethnicity of Kiribati it would be less varied with the invaders now not being the ancestors to at least 1.2% of the population so the population could be very much different than today.

Sweden- Sweden is invaded during World War Two
During World War Two Sweden remained neutral throughout the war and was buffeted between both the Allies and Axis with Sweden offering thousands of Jews from Norway and Denmark refuge while being forced to give iron ore for the German war effort. In this scenario as Operation Barbarossa, (Hitler's invasion of Russia), takes place the Swedish government protests against the heavy amount of artillery and infantry going over their railroads so Hitler in one of his erratic moves decides to declare war on Sweden and the heavy amount of German troops in Swedish borders allows the Wehrmacht to easily defeat the unprepared Swedish army. Sweden only started rearming in 1943 so the unexpected invasion catches the army off-guard. The Swedish monarchy and parliament flees to Finland and eventually is smuggled into Britain. Many people from Sweden volunteered in the war so most likely the Swedish people would form a resistance movement against the occupiers and collaborative government put in place by Hitler. Unfortunately the Holocaust would come to Sweden. During the war almost all of Denmark's 8,000 Jews, (only 450 failed to flee to Sweden), as well as many Jews and refugees from Norway and Finland. With Sweden falling the SS would round up the refugees as well as any Jews that had lived in Sweden for all their life. In this scenario the numbers of those killed in the Holocaust would be terrifyingly higher. In 1944 the Soviet Union would invade northern Sweden leading Hitler to order a scorched earth policy and having SS agents to have railroads torn up. The Allies would oust the Axis from southern Sweden meeting with the Soviets in the middle but a secret meeting between Churchill and Stalin would give the Allies Sweden for Stalin to have a free hand in Poland. After the war Sweden receives much more in the Marshall Plan although the Swedish Communist Party would be much stronger with the people remembering that the Red Army helped liberate at least half the country...

Dominican Republic- The US annexes the Dominican Republic in 1869
Strangely when the Dominican Republic, (then called Santo Domingo), gained independence from Spain in 1865 two years later they requested that they join the USA in fear of being re-annexed by Haiti. When Andrew Johnson tried to do it in 1867 Congress blocked his proposal because of his refusal to work with Reconstruction policies and when Ulysses Grant tried to in 1870 but was rejected through anti-imperialism. In this scenario Congress agrees to annex Santo Domingo under Johnson for one of the reasons that Grant wanted to; it would strengthen Reconstruction by having an almost entire African-American state in the Union. However they have it annexed in 1869 when Johnson left the White House so Grant could take the credit. Surprisingly only the select few nationalists in Santo Domingo would be anti-US with them seeing the US being better than annexation from Haiti or Spain. However Grant would send troops to the area to ensure that no revolutionary ideas could spring up. Immediately US contractors would start building ports and naval bases in the area which would attract African-American workers from the southern states although tensions would emerge from the Spanish speaking natives and the new workers and riots would occur which would require the army to clamp them down. Slowly the people living in Santo Domingo would start learning English to get better jobs on the continental US. One of the final acts of Reconstruction would be to make Santo Domingo a state allowing more African-American Congressmen and the President of the Dominican Republic at the time, Buenaventura Baez, would be the first governor. By 1910 nationalism would die down but it would be the state where the ideas of black power originating with Marcus Garvey leading his supporters in the primarily African-American state. On the mainland civil rights would go at an easier rate with more Congressmen being in favor of civil rights laws so quite possibly laws such as the Dyer Bill, (which would have outlawed lynching if passed in 1921), could have been passed progressing civil rights. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

A Fact about each of the Friday the 13th Films

It's Friday the 13th and what better way to celebrate the unluckiest day of the year by looking at the famous film series. As a horror fan I have seen these films and they are my guilty pleasure. They are no masterpiece like Halloween or The Exorcist but they such fun films, (although I hate two of them and three I have to be in the mood for). Nevertheless each film contains some interesting trivia and so let's talk about them. As there are 12 films in the series, (a thirteenth should be coming out in 2016), so I'll do a fact on each individual film. Now let's grab a machete and put on a hockey mask for the most recent film...

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Friday the 13th (2009)- The Producer Michael Bay walked out of the premiere 
Michael Bay had produced the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003 and although it was not a patch on the original it was still a creative and relatively good homage to the classic. Bay then decided to do the same for Friday the 13th and give Jason Voorhees a new origin story as he did with Leatherface. However he was not directing; he was only a producer so did not see the full film until the premiere. The remake of Friday the 13th contains the most sex and sexual content in any of the series and normally in past films Jason's kills overshadow the scenes which normally remain brief. This film however had nudity and sex crammed into every other scene and to make matters worse the kills were not even impressive! (You might be able to tell that this is the one that I hate although the acting and plot was bad even for Friday the 13th standards) Michael Bay was so angry at this that he refused to watch the entire film and walked out in disgust. Although he might have stayed if a few CGI explosions were thrown in.

Freddy vs. Jason- A three way crossover 
At the start of the 1990s New Line Cinema bought the rights to Friday the 13th and after Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday they decided not to make another film, (this lasted eight years). However the company also made the Nightmare on Elm Street films and an idea to pit Jason Voorhees against Freddy Krueger came about. In 2003 Freddy vs. Jason was released. The plot involved Freddy Krueger being unable to stalk the dreams of Springwood's teenagers because the adults have never mentioned him so Freddy has been forgotten. With Freddy relying on the teens knowing him he is doomed to remain in hell until he thinks of a way to make them remember and that is where Jason comes in... Freddy tricks Jason into going to Springwood, kill a few people so would get the residents talking about Freddy again thus giving him back his power. This works until Jason starts killing too many people, making people talk about Jason giving him more power, so an angry Freddy fights Jason. This is quite an interesting concept as you can easily imagine Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees being urban legends whose popularity rises and falls with each generation. Similar to how some urban legends of the 1990s and pennydreadfuls of the 19th Century have been reinvented and became even more popular with Creepypastas. However the original idea for an ending was to have a third character cross over into the fight. The idea was to have Jason and Freddy fight to the death in Crystal Lake which becomes a fiery whirlpool and drags them to hell. The next day the main character and her father would walk on the now dry lake and the dad would pick up Freddy's glove. That is until Freddy's hand bursts from the ground and drags him under. The camera would pan to Freddy putting on his glove ready to fight Jason until hooks burst from the wall and impales them. Then from the shadows this figure would appear...
Yes Pinhead from the Hellraiser films would come out of the shadows and then say: 'Gentlemen, what seems to be the problem?'. New Line scrapped the idea though knowing that getting rights to Pinhead would be just too difficult.

Jason X- The screenwriter based it off Alien
In this film Jason goes to space, (you read that correctly). As you get your head around the fact that New Line's first idea when bringing back the series was taking Jason to space you might be surprised that screenwriter, Todd Farmer, based the idea for Jason X off of Alien and the Alien franchise. It is unsurprising with Alien being much like a slasher film with a solitary figure kills off the cast one by one in a dark and claustrophobic scenario until the lone survivor manages to fend the killer off. Alien today remains one of the most critically acclaimed horror films of all time. Certain plot points bear a striking resemblance to Alien such as how they find both killers, (a frozen Jason and a facehugger), take them on board who then kills the first people they see and slowly hunt down the ship's crew while at one part changing form, (the Alien going from a chestburster to the adult Alien and Jason becoming a cyborg). Both are eventually defeated by being forced into space, (Sigourney Weaver's Ripley firing the Alien out of an airlock to a character maneuvering Jason into a planet's atmosphere burning him up). Although Jason X does contain one of the greatest kills in the series: Jason submerging someones face in liquid nitrogen and then smashing it against a worktop.

Jason goes to Hell: The Final Friday- The Necronomicon makes has a cameo
The Necronomicon made its appearance in the works of H.P. Lovecraft but in cinema it is famous for being the book that resurrected the dead as the zombie like Deadites in the Evil Dead films. In Jason goes to Hell the same prop used in The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead II makes a quick cameo with one of the character's briefly holding the book. This is fitting with the premise of the film being Jason trying to resurrect himself. The prop creator Tom Sullivan was very upset though that his prop was used without his permission and has refused to let any of his props to be lent out without his say so. This film contains another few curious fact pieces though. At the start of the film Jason is blown apart and his heart is eaten by a coroner, (it is a strange film), but the heart prop would later be used in Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk till Dawn as the heart of the character Monkey Man. The other little piece comes through context. This was the first Friday film made by New Line, who also owned Nightmare on Elm Street. At the end of the film a dog digs a small hole to find Jason's mask but Freddy Krueger's arm comes out the ground and drags it under! Freddy was played by Kane Hodder who also played Jason in four of the films making him the only actor to play both Freddy and Jason in an official film.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason takes Manhattan- Only 36 minutes happens in New York
Despite it being called Jason takes Manhattan the film does not take place in New York City until 1 hour 4 minutes, in a runtime of 1 hour 40 minutes, but instead takes place on a party boat for most of the film. The reason for this was cost. Despite having the highest budget yet at $5 million filming in New York was just too expensive and they cut costs by filming in Canada and cutting out most of the scenes in New York. They did not even have enough money to bring back Lar Park Lincoln to reprise her role from the previous film. Originally the script had Jason going to all the famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building but costs forced them to abandon this idea. One scene where a boxer continuously punches Jason, (for almost two minutes), before Jason uppercuts his head off was originally going to happen in Madison Square Garden but had to be rewrote to happen on a miscellaneous rooftop. One scene which remained in the film was Jason standing in Times Square and during filming Kane Hodder who played Jason refused to break character and would delight fans by staring at them all of a sudden giving the appearance that he was actually Jason.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood- It was originally going to be Freddy vs. Jason
By 1988 Paramount Studios wanted to breathe new life into the series and thought that a crossover was in order. Part VII was going to have Freddy Krueger battle Jason Voorhees in the ultimate battle. Considering that the film was going to be released in the 1980s when both series were at their height of their popularity so it was going to be a big hit although problems arose with copyright. Paramount had problem gaining the rights to Nightmare so the script was rewritten to have Jason battle a mentally scarred teenager called Tina Shepard with telekinetic powers. Although this sounds stupid they pulled it off very well with some fantastic special effects. This film also saw stuntman Kane Hodder don the hockey mask which was perfect seen as how much Jason is beaten up and thrown about in this entry. The director described it as 'the Terminator vs. Carrie' and it is an accurate description.

Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI- It contains countless movie references
This is my personal favorite of the series and contains many movie references. For one the title credits come over a James Bond parody where Jason walks across the screen and flicks blood at the camera! The film contains though countless of horror references. The hardware store is called Karloff's after the famous actor Boris Karloff who played Ihmotep the mummy in Universal's The Mummy and more famously the Frankenstein's Monster in Frankenstein. A character mentions a Cunningham Road which is a reference to Sean Cunningham who directed the first film while another character is called Sissy, a reference to Sissy Spacek who played Carrie in the film adapted from Stephen King's novel. Director Tom McLoughlin wanted to honor the Universal horrors and even said that he wanted the film to suit being in black and white. Unlike the previous entries which recapped on prior installments this one starts off in a graveyard during a thunder storm which sets the mood; almost like a classic horror like Dracula or Frankenstein. The opening of the lead Tommy Jarvis unearthing Jason's grave and accidentally bringing him back to life through a lightning strike is also similar to Frankenstein meets the Wolfman where the Wolfman is resurrected by a bolt of lightning after his grave is unearthed. In this sense Jason is much like the Frankenstein Monster, a giant undead hulk who never stops...

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning- A chocolate bar sets the plot into motion
At the end of Part IV Jason Voorhees is killed and this new film had a novel concept; to have a new killer in each film. This, if done correctly, could have made the series much more interesting and could have turned it into a murder mystery. With Jason being in the sequels you can guess what happened. The basic problem of this is that they didn't want Tommy Jarvis to straight up be the killer as the previous film had implied. The first kill in the film is not by the Jason copycat but rather by an angry man who kills another with an ax, (the victim is pictured above), because he offered him a chocolate bar. Someone was paid to write that. Anyhow Jason seemingly back from the dead starts killing people off and eventually after a showdown the killer is revealed to be a paramedic who take away the ax victim but plot twist. It turns out he was secretly the ax victim's father and was inspired by Jason Voorhees to get revenge. Out of everyone he was the least likely culprit because he was in two scenes and not even center in one of them! What I find strange though that this film had the highest body count until Jason Lives. This man killed more people than the real Jason!

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter- The cast hated the director Joseph Zito
The Final Chapter. How naive. Despite this the director Joseph Zito was hated by multiple cast members. Due to a tight budget Zito wanted to cut corners on safety which included making Judie Aronson stay in a near-freezing lake between shots and Peter Barton to actually be slammed into a shower wall during his death scene. Corey Feldman, (famous for The Goonies and The Lost Boys), became bratty on set because of Zito and when he had to hack at Jason at the end of the film he imagined the sandbags that he was hacking to be Zito. Ironically it was the actor who played Jason, Ted White, who campaigned for better treatment and managed to get a mat for Barton's death scene. White was so angry with Zito that he refused to have his name in the credits.

Friday the 13th Part III- It was intended to be the final film
Part III was the first film in the series to be in 3-D and was the first film to feature Jason's hockey mask. It was also intended to be the last. At the end of the film the last survivor manages to embed an ax into Jason's head and after stumbling around for a few seconds he fell down, seemingly dead. They made references to the first film thanks to this such as the end where the corpse of Mrs Voorhees rising from the water making reference to the corpse of Jason doing the same in the first film. Also a character reads a copy of the horror magazine Fangoria but if you look quickly you can see an article about Tom Savini, the make-up and special effects artist who made realistic special effects for the first film. On a side note the place where the ax hit Jason can be seen in every film, the original mask was recast for each film to keep continuity.

Friday the 13th Part II- Betsy Palmer forgot that she was in it
The films show us that Jason is devoted to his mother, even keeping her jumper and severed head in his cabin in the woods. During the film the main female lead notices how she resembles Jason's mother, played by Betsy Palmer, and puts on her jumper and pretends to be her. Jason is fooled by this and Betsy Palmer's face is edited over the actresses' to make it look like that we are looking through Jason's eyes. However Palmer forgot she even appeared in the film! During a horror convention in 2003 when talking about why she didn't reprise her role as Pamela Voorhees in Freddy vs. Jason she said that she hadn't appeared in one of the films since the first one. With her scene being filmed in one day in front of a black screen she didn't consider it acting and even forgot about shooting it completely.

Friday the 13th- The final scene has been rated one of cinema's scariest
It may come to a surprise but Jason isn't the killer in the first film. The killer is not revealed until the last twenty minutes where it turns out to be Pamela Voorhees who has been driven mad by the drowning of her son Jason in 1958 so has blamed the camp counselors and the reopening of Camp Crystal Lake caused her to have another relapse. After the last survivor Alice manages to decapitate Mrs Voorhees with her own machete she takes a canoe to the lake and sets sail only for the next morning for the decaying corpse of Jason to burst out and drag her under. The complete shock of this has allowed it to terrify audience after audience, even earning the film spot 31 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. Even if you know about what is going to happen the anticipation of it is terrifying and definitely allows Friday the 13th to stick in the mind.

Friday, 6 March 2015

An Alternate History Scenario for Every Country (Part Four)

Welcome back to An Alternate History Scenario for Every Country, (for Part 1:, Part 2: Part 3: For this fortnight I'm swapping when I do this and the normal post. Anyhow let's look at some quick fire alternate history scenarios, they don't have to be realistic just inventive.

Argentina- Juan Peron is not ousted from power in 1955
In 1955 the President of Argentina Juan Peron was ousted from power in a military coup starting with the Bombing of the Plaza de Mayo, (pictured above), of that year. In this scenario the Revolucion Libertadora fails when the leaders of the coup, General Eduardo Lonardi, General Pedro Aramburu and Admiral Isaac Rojas, are betrayed by other coup members. Peron has them placed under house arrest and replaces them with Peronists to ensure that no other coup would take place. Peron would continue his domestic policies which he had done prior to the 1954 coup such as giving women further rights. Prior to 1955 Peron had legalized divorce and gave women the vote so it is easy to imagine that he would continue this such as making domestic abuse illegal and pass laws allowing women to have an equal pay to men. He most likely would continue his plans to increase workers rights and most likely would set up plans to ensure workers and unions gain more rights including forbidding strike breakers and setting up an equivalent of the National Labor Relations Board, calling it the Peronist Workers' Committee, (Committe del trabajador peronista). However the political repression would still continue with Peron arresting business leaders who become publicly outspoken against his labor reforms and massive backlash from both the left and right who want their views put across. By 1955 the Catholic Church had become very anti-Peron so when he takes reprisals by arresting bishops there would be even more backlash against the Peronist government; escalating further when the Pope excommunicates Peron. By 1957 students start protesting against the censorship and political repression and Peron's Justicialist Party loses the election to the Radical Civil Union Party, (UCR). The party then balances the conflict between the workers and businessmen with Peron in the background heavily influencing politics, (something he did in our timeline). The UCR reduces the political repression, although it still censors the opposition, but tensions are reduced. Peron does not run for election again with his party not risking such a controversial figure representing them so in 1974 the coup which installed a military junta does not take place. Argentina continues the reforms which helps the poorer people, despite opposition from Nixon and later Reagan, and today Argentina is a more equal society.

Italy- The Renaissance fuels Italian nationalism and unification
The Renaissance was started in Italy in our timeline and from there spread ideas of science and the arts across Europe with Italian sculptors and painters heavily influencing European culture for centuries to come. However during this period the Italian states were warring between each other and were constantly influenced by foreign powers, mainly Spain, France and Austria. In this scenario the culture created from the Renaissance makes the Kingdom of Naples, Florence, Milan, Venice and the Papal States realize that they are not Venetians or Milanese or Romans but rather Italians. The Italian states form a federation similar to the Holy Roman Empire and starts a process of Italian nationalism. The Italian states work together to hearken back to the days of the Roman Empire and starts funding the sciences and the arts. Great plays are wrote commending the Roman emperors such as Caesar and Augustus while the artists like Da Vinci are commissioned to create masterpieces commemorating the glories of Rome and the greater culture Italy has against other European nations. Soon the Holy Roman Empire and France start to try and influence the disintegration of the Italian League which unites them into declaring war to drive foreigners from Italy. The united armies of the Italian states funded by the economic powerhouse of Venice the Italian Wars of Independence, (1490-1510), succeeds in driving France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire from Italy but at the cost of increasing xenophobia with bands of fanatics indiscriminately attacking anyone deemed to be un-Italian. By 1520 it becomes clear that the most powerful members of the Italian League are Piedmont and Venice, (Piedmont for its military and Venice for the economy), and the Papal States are quickly relegated. Soon Italy unifies with a Piedmont king and Venice becomes the seat of an oligarchic council to advise the king. The Pope rejects this and locks himself in the Vatican with the power of the Pope broken centuries early. A united Italy becomes a Mediterranean power to rival the Ottoman Empire and starts an empire managing to challenge the power of the Ottomans in Africa capturing Oran, Libya and Egypt. Italian explorers start establishing colonies in the Americas however like with other European powers the natives would be ruthlessly exploited. Science meanwhile would become further advanced with people like Galileo Galilei not being silenced by the Church so Italy becomes a technological as well as an economic power. This lasts until the 18th century when Britain and France challenges Italy in the Americas and Napoleon conquers the Italian peninsula.

Nauru- Nauru does not allow phosphate mining
When Nauru gained independence the island nation, (with the second smallest population), let strip mining operations take place and because big business only thinks about money the Nauru environment was destroyed. In this scenario Nauru instead decides to copy Costa Rica noticing that the rare wildlife, giant coral reefs and beautiful beaches could instead attract nature tourism. Quickly as in our timeline the Nauru economy rapidly grows but instead of destroying the environment it becomes preserved. The creation of tourism creates more jobs to accommodate the increase in tourists which heavily reduces the unemployment rate, (in our timeline it is at 90%). With the boom in the economy the government builds more infrastructures and creates more things to benefit the public. Nauru becomes an extremely wealthy country and the tax haven system that they would continue would make Nauru the Pacific version of Monaco, albeit with more focus on the environment.

Cuba- The Bay of Pigs invasion succeeds
In 1961 the US government funded Cuban exiles to land at the Bay of Pigs and overthrow the communist regime of Fidel Castro and re-install the right-wing Fulgencio Batista. It turns out the public did not support Batista and the Cuban exiles were either killed or arrested. In this scenario three B-52 bombers that failed to support the exiles arrive as planned. The B-52 bombers manage to inflict heavy damage to the Cuban positions but the Cuban defenders only fail when a stray bombs hits Castro and he is killed. With Fidel Castro killed the Cuban exiles manage to take over Cuba and when they take Havana declares Fulgencio Batista President. Fidel Castro's brother Raul as well as other key figures of Castro's Democratic Revolutionary Front such as Jose Ramon Fernandez would be summarily executed with Batista quickly cracking down on left wing leanings in Cuba. Batista privatizes the sugar industry allowing US businesses to move back in which makes JFK commend him on CNN. Batista cancels Castro's reforms such as building infrastructure and schools which causes the people of Cuba to suffer. Illiteracy becomes rampant again, (Castro managed to increase the literacy rate from 60-76% to 96%), and poverty becomes rampant again for the lower classes, something which took until after the Cuban Missile Crisis to happen in Castro's Cuba. As the Bay of Pigs succeeded Cuba never officially allies itself with the USSR so no Soviet missiles are built in Cuba which means the Cold War remains hot. The Missile Crisis however helped in our timeline to briefly diffuse Cold War tensions, (it did not last ling though), so the Cold War remains dangerously tense. However Che Guevara leads a guerrilla campaign against the Batista regime again and the poor angry at the reform cuts which favored them sides with the revolutionaries. JFK moves military advisers from South Korea to Cuba seeing it as a greater threat with unofficial battles happening between the 'advisers' and Cuban revolutionaries. After JFK's assassination Johnson escalates the war and the tonnes of napalm and Agent Orange which was sprayed over Vietnam killing tens of thousands of innocent people and poisoned thousands of children destroys the Cuban economy. Eventually after years of fighting the US withdraws and after Batista's death in 1974 Che Guevara re-installs the communist government with him as President. However he would have to manage a destroyed economy with no support from the vastly different ideologies of the USSR and China; relying instead on little funding from Yugoslavia. Today Cuba would be extremely poor with most of its infrastructure still destroyed.

Pakistan- The military is given less power in the constitution
In Pakistan's constitution if the government is deemed to be corrupt the military can legally overthrow it and install a non-corrupt government, supposedly the opposing party. Naturally this has been abused, including when Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, (pictured above), overthrew the government in 1977. In this scenario the constitution does not have this clause. This would make a military coup increasingly challenged when one happened and would give the military less power in Pakistani politics. Of course major events would still happen, such as the Indo-Pakistan Wars and the Bangladesh War of Independence, the military would be unable to find an excuse to overthrow the government. This would allow Pakistan to see more social reforms and increase in civil rights as there would be less repression from the military. For example Zia-ul-Haq would be unable to lead his coup so women would have more rights as he opposed female rights. The Taliban would not have formed either with Zia-ul-Haq wanting to build Afghanistan up as an enemy to India which was fulfilled after his death thanks to the influence from Pakistan's secret service the ISI. Similarly with no military coups civilian governments would hold foreign affairs and relations with India would be made better and a deal which would suit all possibly being achieved, although the likelihood would be unrealistic. Pakistan would not develop nuclear weapons as it was a policy put forward by the military so there would be even less tension with neighbor India.

Iraq- The Mongols do not sack Baghdad in 1258
In 1258 after subduing Iran the grandson of Genghis Kahn Hulegu Kahn went to destroy the Abbasid Caliphate whose capital was Baghdad on the orders of his brother Mongke. Baghdad refused to surrender so he burnt the city to the ground, massacred the inhabitants with the Caliph Al-Musta'sim and destroyed the canals. In this scenario Al-Musta'sim after seeing what the Mongols did in Iran, (raping, burning cities, looting etc.), immediately surrenders to the Ilkhanate. Despite their reputation the Mongols would not destroy places that surrendered, (Hulegu even had commands to destroy the city only if it did not surrender), so Baghdad and by default the Abbasid Caliphate would be made an Ilkhanate province divided into Syria and Iraq. Like in our timeline in Iraq the Mongols would hunt down and wipe out the Assassins with help from the Caliphate.
I'm not joking the Assassins from Assassin's Creed were a real group. Baghdad declined thanks to the siege so with it not being sacked Baghdad would remain an area of great trade, education and culture with it paying regular tributes to their Mongol masters to avoid being sacked. This would continue until the coming of Tamer Lane, (another Mongol Kahn), and they too would offer tribute to avoid being destroyed. A wise decision since he ordered virtual genocide of the Baghdad populace wanting each soldier to bring him two hundred severed heads. Life would continue for Baghdad paying regular tribute to avoid being sacked. That is until the Mongols start to collapse in the 1530s and Baghdad refuses to pay tribute. The years of building up its armies allows it to push out the Mongols from Iraq and conquers Mesopotamia forming the Iraq Caliphate. Allying itself with fellow Shia nation Iran against the Mongols Iraq remains a major regional power holding massive sway with it being on a major trade root and becomes the epicenter of Muslim culture and learning. Poets, mathematicians and writers not only from the Muslim world but from China, Africa and Europe would come to Baghdad to make their fortunes.

Kazakhstan- Kasym Khan urbanizes the Kazakh Khanate
Under the reign of Kasym Khan, (1511-1518), the Kazakh Khanate expanded its borders to modern day Kazakstan and remained that way until the coming of the Russian army in the 19th century. In our timeline Kasym Khan made an alliance with the Timurid Babur who founded the Moghal Empire in India, the difference being that Babur urbanized to fit in with his Indian subjects. In this scenario seeing the success of his ally Kasym Khan decides to do the same but with much more difficulty. He convinces the different warring Kahns to adopt farming but gradually; they make some people establish farms as the Kahns continue a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Kasym would establish a permanent capital on the Caspian Sea and establishes a decentralized state convincing other Kahns to establish regional capitals. Following his death his successors continue his gradual move from nomads to urbanizing. The Khanate still remains a massive power going over the borders to wreak havoc on Russian traders and taking slaves. By the 17th century the Kazakh Khanate would have abandoned its nomadic roots, becoming similar to the Crimean Khanate. With the Khans generally abandoning slave raids the Russians do not attack until the late 19th century but the Khanate offers more of a fight with it having fortified cities and gunpowder although it would not be up to the standard of the Russian invaders. Russian hold would be tenuous over Kazakhstan with uprisings regularly taking place, especially when Russia tried to Russify the area. When the Russian Revolution broke out the Khanate would declare independence as Kazakhstan and would remain so until the heavily industrialized Russians return under Stalin in 1939. When the war comes to Russia it would again break off and with Stalin distracted with Hitler and later the US Kazakhstan would remain independent but a communist coup influenced by Stalin would bring the nation firmly into the communist camp. When Mao Tse-tung seized power in China Kazakhstan would flit between both camps during the Cold War.

Thanks for reading and please leave suggestions. If you wanted to see a country please check the other posts as I may have already done them. I've done this one this week because next Friday is Friday the 13th and I am a horror movie fan so a certain someone will be visiting the blog...