Is Nostalgia a Good Thing? by Allison James

Time and time again, I see people lauding the likes of Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time as the two best games of all time. Being a PlayStation-only user for most of my life (I've had an N64 ever since they could be bought for £10 at car boot sales, and now having a full time job and a steady flow of money I'm finally able to whore myself to all of the new consoles the minute they're launched), I didn't get to play either of these titles until long after their initial release. I just don't get how they could be considered the best. I pretty much despise the camera in both games, and they can seem slow and glitchy to me at times. Sure, they're not bad by any admission, but the best? Meh!However, the moment I think about PS1 games, or even SNES games, they suddenly seem so much better to me. The thing is - are they? Are they fundamentally better, or is my brain just jaded with time and memories? While there are some games (Ape Escape and Spyro both spring to mind) that I can still today play and love - and I got Ape Escape relatively late, a year or so after I got my first PlayStation 2 - others, when I replay them expecting a blast back to the wonderful past, I just get hit with a wave of old, outdated gameplay and flaws aplenty.Crash Bandicoot is one of these. I'm far too used to being able to control the camera in games with the right analogue stick - it's intuitive and works fantastically. In the days of PS1, not everyone had a controller with analogue sticks. In place, L2 and R2 turned the camera left and right - fiddly as all hell. But Crash Bandicoot took it one further - you could control the camera in the same way you can control an avalanche. That is, you can't. The camera is fixed to follow the level route, a claustrophobic, linear path. What makes the game (almost) unplayable for me nowadays is that judging where you're going to land is an absolute bitch. And the games demand you hop carefully across tiny platforms even in the first set of five levels. As with Mario 64 and OoT, it's not a bad game to this day. It's just aged and flawed.Some games have it even worse. One of the first games I played for PS1 was called Mr Domino (or something like that). I doubt I'd touched the game since the 20th century until I rebought it off eBay a few months ago. What I got was a very, very, very bad game that bore no resemblance to my fond, happy memories, and went so far as to take a big, domino-shaped shit on them.The thing is though, some games have aged incredibly well. I only recently got to play through more than just the demo of PS1 game Tombi, as it's expensive as heck to get a hold of. But it's amazing. It's original, it's a side scroller so it's not plagued with all the problems games attempting 3D for the first proper time had, and it's funny and cute as heck. It's not just PlayStation either - games like Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64, and any highly rated 2D platformer on NES, SNES, Master System and Megadrive/Genesis, are still fantastic fun (though also pretty difficult, and old platformers' tendency to destroy your progress when you run out of lives makes me angry).Happens with other media as well. Think back to whatever children's TV programmes you watched as a youngster. For me, that's shows like Budgie the Little Helicopter, Finders Keepers, Art Attack, SMart, Alphabet Castle, Playbus, ZZZap!, Fun House, I could go on all goddamn day. I recently watched an old episode of Budgie, and yep - childish, godawful writing and storyline, bad voice acting, and the animation was cheaply done too. Yet it was my favourite TV programme 15 years ago. And think what you will of the music you grew up with - if someone released a song today that was as any '80s or '90s song would go, today it would be laughed right off the charts by today's artists.So is nostalgia a good thing? It depends. Its problem is that it lures you into revisiting memories, which can sometimes bring up fond results, but can also sometimes irrepairably break said memories. Mind you, without it, we'd all be into rap right now. And that would suck.

My Take On: Religion by Allison James

It is and always has been a touchy subject. For some people, religion is their life. For others, it's a big part of it. It's everywhere - in our language (for Christ's/God's sake, goddamn, holy [swear word], etc), in our events (Christmas/Hanukah/other, Easter etc), in our buildings (probably 99% of villages, towns and cities have at least one church or chapel, larger places often having tens of them). Everybody has their own take on religion, here's mine.I personally am agnostic - the belief that no human can know or prove the existence of one or many higher powers. If one or many was ever proven, somehow, I wouldn't deny it either. But I do not dismiss most other religions altogether.With Christianity, there are some things I like about it. The general upbeatness of many of its members, and the positivity around it, I love. There's a "feel" to it which is just nice. However, I cannot believe in it. While I understand the majority of the Bible is not factual, but a compilation of stories with positive end morals, there's some of it that's contradictory to itself, some of it that's outright mean (scare tactics with the whole Hell thing?), and anything that forbids things or restrains freedoms isn't great.Preachers are my number one hate of Christianity (not that it can 100% be blamed for them) - single-minded, loudmouthed dicks that go around pushing their beliefs on other people and just end up turning them off it all for life. You do get preachers, minor (people on the 'net, for example) and major (the ones that go into towns with loudspeakers), for other religions too, including atheism/agnosticism - for the record, I dislike them all. Live and let live, heck.My number one hated trait in any religion that has it is when they strictly forbid doing anything with anyone of any other religious belief, encourage attacking of other believers, etc. Basically, the trait that causes every single religion-based war that has happened in the past, and every one that will no doubt happen in the future. Why would anybody want that? And why would anybody think a higher power exists/ed that wants/ed that? It makes no sense to me and only ever results in deaths, and no converts.That's generally my thought on religion though. I like the togetherness experienced by people that share one, but dislike the conflict between those that differ. I don't like pushiness of anybody and their religious beliefs (including those that do not believe in a God or multiple gods) - I've made an educated and informed decision on my religious beliefs and anyone that tries to change them will only make the case for me turning to theirs worse. And to extend, I don't like that there's so many of them.If everybody else is willing to believe in Goduddhallanesh, heck, I'm in.

Time Travel: Possible? by Allison James

Time travel; a concept thought about for centuries. There are so many thoughts on its (non-?)existance, it's unbelievable. It's the primary gimmick of more than a handful of films, programs and literature, including many high-up examples as the Back to the Future film trilogy, and the several-decade-long UK sci-fi series Doctor Who. Time travel is everywhere.But from a realistic perspective? It seems impossible. Possibly the most famous example disproving time travel is the Grandfather Paradox: "If you went back in time and killed your own grandfather before he gave birth to the relevant parent, how could you have been born and gone back in time in the first place?" But there's a side-road to this. Perhaps nobody currently in existance could/would do it for fear of erasing themselves. Anybody that would, and did, simply wouldn't exist in the first place.

One idea is that time is not a single, linear line. If you did go back in time and do anything to alter the future, it would simply create a new "branch". These two timelines would then run independently. As odd as it sounds, and as incredibly difficult as it is to visualise, it's plausible.

Perhaps time isn't even a dimension. There is no line. There is no possibility of back and forth. It's just something that... "is". It's only the fact we've given it a measurement scale, something that when applied with anything else can be humanly or naturally adjusted, that the idea of time travel comes to light in the first place.

There's another theory, which starts dipping its toe into religion-esque concepts and seems completely unplausible but not disprovable. What about if humans, at one point in the future, did discover time travel. All hell broke loose, either related (people constantly altering the future) or less so (something like global warming). The vast majority of the human race was killed. The remainder, in an effort to recouperate, went back in time to restore the Earth to its original natural status, free of all technology and vandals of time - kicked the device for time travel into the nearest pit and started copulating. Hell, maybe there was only one guy, so advanced in skill and everything, but NOT HUMAN, that went back, invented humanity, dinosaurs, and all other life forms. Maybe he was called Godfrey. But, in effect, what I just said above prior to the time travel never happened. Maybe humanity today is the result of a process of perfection from repeated journeys through time.

Those that know me know I'm not a religious person. But something had to happen to bring us to where we are today, and when you don't believe, you owe it to yourself to speculate.

Any comments on your opinions of time travel (keep them as un-religiony as possible, please - unless it of course pertains to your theories) are more than welcome, and I will likely reply and share my thoughts on your own speculation.