I'm a 26-year old English writer, formerly known on the CBlogs as Xandaça. I've been an avid gamer since I was a wee lad, gripping a NES controller in my hands and comprehensively failing to get past those infuriating Hammer Bros on Level 8-3 of Super Mario Bros. I've stuck with Nintendo since then (not for any animosity towards the other console makers of course - Nintendo just make games I enjoy and have grown up with), apart from a brief sojourn with a Sony PlayStation, several woeful attempts to play Half-Life 2 using a laptop touchpad and sporadically wrangling a turn on my sister's beloved Sega Saturn.
In addition to burping out the occasional novel, I'm a passionate critic, writing reviews and articles of films, book and games for my school magazine and university newspaper, for which I created and edited its film section. In addition to starting up my own blog, covering television, games and movies, I am also a writer for Destructoid's cine-geek sister Flixist. While primarily a film geek, the evolution of the games industry over the course of its short lifetime has fascinated me and provided vast quantities of content for some incendiary pieces of work - perhaps a few more might spring up on here?
My Favourite Games of All Time (because who doesn't love having a few Of All Time lists?) are GoldenEye 007 (which I still play through at least once a year to remind me of its glories), Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Gunstar Heroes, Super Mario Bros 3 (I don't know who told Shigsy Miyamoto-san that raccoons could fly, but I'll love them forever) and No More Heroes.
I hope you find great enjoyment in my many scribings, and please keep an eye out for upcoming news on my novel(s) and do pay a visit to my blog sometime. And yes, the Dtoid community's 'no copy and paste' rule will be fully respected!
Nearly all my December Cblog entries have been lists, so before I go away for a few months to lay the foundations for what will hopefully be a most spectacular year, I thought I'd leave you with one more. A big one, filled with music and trailers and a picture of a puppy looking adorable Personally, 2011 feels like one of those times when everything has lined up and offering the kind of big opportunity to grasp with both hands now or risk losing forever. I joined the Destructoid community in early February of 2010 and it has been an enormously enjoyable and educational eleven months, getting to know all the different people, personalities and peculiarities of this most intelligent and welcoming corners of the internet. So before signing off until the Spring, here are my ten reasons to be optimistic for the new year.
Bond gets the X-factor: Bond fans have every reason to be delighted with the news that MGM's financial peril is finally stabilising and the 007 series is back on track to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2012 with its 23rd film. Fortunately, there'll be a chance to get your Bond fix before then in the shape of Jeffrey Deaver's continuation novel, currently under the working title of 'Project X'. While Sebastian Faulks comprehensively dropped the ball with Devil May Care in 2008, Deaver is a self-confessed lifelong Fleming devotee (Faulks often gave the impression that he felt writing a Bond novel was beneath him) and is an enormously experienced and respected thriller writer. No story details have been revealed yet, but Deaver will be making an appearance at a literary festival in Dubai where he will be giving a talk on his love of all things Bond. For updates, check the website here.
Deux Ex returns to our machines: Okay, so Invisible War was a misjudged crock for the most part, but developers Eidos Montreal have been making the right noises about atoning for that game's myriad failings. While there hasn't been a great deal in the way of actual gameplay shown in the trailers thus far, all the press previews to emerge so far have been encouraging. Even with only one great game under its mantle, albeit one that nabbed the second place in my Games of the Decade, the Deus Ex name is one of gaming's most revered and Eidos seem to be putting all the right ingredients in place (prequel storyline showing the root's of the original game's major conspiracies, themes questioning what makes us human, elaborate cybernetic augmentations, non-linear mission progression...) to do it justice.
More Doctor Who: "I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilise, street-level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, twelve jammy dodgers and a fez." If you don't get excited watching Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith reeling off that line at gunpoint in the Oval Office, your squee gland must be on the fritz. Steven Moffatt's first season in charge of the good Doctor yielded slightly uneven but often magnificent returns and his delightfully bonkers recent Christmas special (which included Michael Gambon, a flying shark and an opera singer awoken from cryogenic sleep to sing storm clouds into opening a path to save a crashing spaceship) was light years ahead of anything previous showrunner Russell T. Davies ever came up with. The attached preview was arguably better still, hinting at finally resolving the ongoing River Song storyline and taking in a visit to Monument Valley along the way. With the best Doctor since the series' 2005 return in place, what could possibly go wrong? Also, he wears a stetson now. And stetsons are cool.
Hanna: How do you follow an overindulgent WWII drama? Director Joe Wright looks to have made the right move by going for huge quantities of violence-based fun with Hanna, a film that takes the character concept of Kick-Ass' excellent Hit-Girl (although Chloe Grace Moretz is swapped out in favour of the always superb Saoirse Ronan) and gives it a full movie. The plot is paper-thin, with a fourteen-year old girl trained over her lifetime to be the ultimate assassin by her father (Eric Bana!) in the Finnish woods before being unleashed on Europe to track down a target, but pretty unbeatable for high-concept schlock. 2011 is looking pretty sparse as far as engaging cinematic entertainment goes, with Hollywood's slate once again bogged down with formulaic comic-book adaptations, sequels and rom-coms, marking out Hanna as one to keep an eye on when it releases in April. It won't win many awards – look to the Gary Oldman-starring Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as an early contender for that – but should prove a more-than-good-enough reason to wolf down unhealthy quantities of popcorn all the same.
Mondo Amore: A friend once summed up my musical taste as 'brunettes with guitars', which is entirely unfair as Sara Bareilles plays a piano. Mostly. Anyway, 2010 was a pretty terrific year for me on that front, with new albums from Scottish sirens Amy Macdonald, KT Tunstall and the aforementioned Bareilles, plus a terrific debut from Marina and the Diamonds. The long-delayed arrival of Mondo Amore, the follow-up to Nicole Atkins' phenomenal first album Neptune City in 2007, could easily blow all of them out of the water if it lives up to even a fraction of its predecessor's greatness. Combining inspiration from the spectral soulfulness of Angelo Badalamenti's compositions for David Lynch's TV landmark Twin Peaks with vocals that sizzle like they could fry an egg, any music fans not already intimately familiar with Atkins owe it to themselves to amend that oversight in 2011. Check out the video for Mondo Amore's first single Vultures below:
Harry Potter comes to an end: This goes both ways – fans of the series will finally get to see the spectacular climax to the eight-film series, while detractors can take comfort in the knowledge that Deathly Hallows Part Two will be the last piece of Potter they have to endure for at least a few years, if not forever depending on J.K. Rowling's desire to return to her golden goose in the future. The film series has been rather hit-and-miss and Part One had the same pacing problems as its counterpart book, but the final showdown at Hogwarts should be worth the admission price alone and with an entire film to wrap everything up, Alan Rickman's Snape should finally get the screen-time he's been waiting for.
Nintendo get their hardcore on: The Wii had a fantastic 2010 and while the early months of the new year are likely to be dedicated to Nintendo pushing their new 3DS handheld and its formidable launch line-up, it's looking likely that the company are preparing to cash in on that goodwill by announcing – if not launching – a new home console in 2011 as well. Even if that prediction doesn't come to pass, the 3DS' staggeringly strong line-up of games, which includes new entries in the Paper Mario, Mario Kart and Kid Icarus series, two dedicated Resident Evil games, a new Kingdom Hearts, Street Fighter and remakes of N64 classics Ocarina of Time and Lylat Wars, is more than enough to make a mockery of anyone who still believes the Japanese gaming behemoth has lost interest in its long-time gamer fanbase.
Alison Brie: There's not much to say here that can't be expressed photographically, but not only will the fetching Miss Brie be returning in new seasons of both the best television comedy (Community) and drama (Mad Men) of recent years, but also appear as one of an eye-bogglingly gorgeous cast for Scream 4 when it opens on April 15th. Whatever else may happen, 2011 will be absolutely Brie-licious. Complaints for that pun to the usual address.
Flixist: Okay, it's a shameless plug. But after a slightly bumpy start courtesy of some server trouble, Destructoid's cine-oriented sister site Flixist will very quickly be going from strength to strength in the new year. For one thing, we've been building up our library of reviews and will be using them in a thoroughly scientific manner* to reach our indisputable conclusions in assessing the best that cinema in 2010 had to offer. (Incidentally, make a point of going to see The Illusionist as soon as possible if you're in the right city). In addition, we've got plans to bring in literally billions** of new features, to further grow our all-important blogging community (that's you, folks!) and keep adding ever groovier stuff to the front page. But to do all that and more we're going to need your support, so add us to your bookmarks and visit often, with friends! It's pretty much a given that your every Flix-perience will be at least as good as sex, except that that I'll be involved in some capacity. (Sorry for that mental image).
*Methods may contain nuts and not be very scientific at all. **'Literally' here used in the most non-literal sense of the word
The Future? I may be taking a hiatus from Destructoid for a while but as mentioned in my introduction, 2011 may potentially turn out to be an enormously important year for me. There's Flixist of course (did I mention that you should visit us yet?), but last month my book was finally officially accepted by the US Copyright Office and after one more rewrite, it will be sent out to agents and publishers everwhere. A website of some sort may finally materialise too, with artwork and extracts and synopses and everything to get fans of Bond-esque spy fiction foaming at the mouth. I'm also looking for my first post-university home and a paying job until the literary career starts bringing in the billions. Once I get the appropriate visa, a trip to the States to see some old friends, neglected for far too long, will also be on the cards. So what are your resolutions and plans for the new year? Resolutions may be a bit of a joke, but there are few better times to think about the future you want to build for yourself and all the ambitions you want to make come true. Confucius probably said something about that, or Plato probably came up with a vaguely appropriate analogy that was a blatant excuse for more shadow-puppetry. But whatever your hopes and dreams, have a fantastic 2011 and by this point next year, may they all have come true. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: "Be excellent to each other... and party on, dudes!"