Virtually Impossible Appreciation Week

Other shows or games that remind you of Knightmare but aren't official derivatives.
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Pooka
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Virtually Impossible Appreciation Week

Post by Pooka » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:47 pm

I have a feeling this one will be brief...

Okay, so I'm about to effectively ostracise myself from the Knightmare Community by saying that I actually quite liked Virtually Impossible, to the point of drawing a map of the zones in my "adventure book" (Knightmare also had a map, earlier in the book, but still...) and, at one point, buying an episode off Anglia TV for £99 with a view to starting a website about it!

I didn't. I watched the VHS once and never did anything else. £99 - what was I thinking?!

It's pretty easy to understand why Tim wanted to make something like VI - he was testing out new VR technology where the contestant (or "Ranger") could be more immersed in the virtual world by means of a stupid helmet. It also made sense to stick it in the slot that would have accommodated a few more episodes of KM (although I would have much preferred a longer Series 8!), and I suppose also making it sci-fi was enough to differentiate it from the fantasy setting of KM.

I don't actually have much of a problem with the whole set-up of Sim Station Alpha (besides the name). It's certainly atmospheric enough, despite clearly being fake - it lacks the ambience of the KM Castle antechamber, but it was never supposed to.

I also don't have much of a problem with the characters, although I have trouble remembering them with the exception of Codsby (who always looked like a pooka to me), Qwerty (played by Ben Fellowes, with a ridiculous American accent but an energetic enough character to make him memorable) and the... female villain whose name I forget. Ice Queen? No, that's a bit too Aesandre-ish. There's also another female character who's a bit like an adventuress, but I don't remember her doing anything apart from scream.

The thing that really lets VI down is the gameplay. Some bits are really inspired - Tetris Towers is a nice geek moment, and the racing game is an affectionate tribute to 16-bit racers in general - but some of them are very strange indeed, especially the KM-like VR castle environment (Castle Ghastly) with things to collect and Toadiles wandering around. One thing I did notice was that, every episode, the team died at least once from an inescapable situation - so I think that's scripted, forcing them to give up a lot of points to "buy another life". It seems clunky and poorly-thought-out: in most computer games, a mess you can get into is one you can get out of. What's the Ranger meant to do here - run for it?

I'm also confused by the victories. VI is harder to win than Rescate or Chevalier, but easier than KM, with more than one winner in one short series. One team per episode, too. It's also not really defined what the prize is: 40,000 points gets the line "take your one-tenth of the cybernet and go!" from the villainess, but we don't know what the team actually gets - Codsby not having hands, I suppose he couldn't really give them anything.

So, all in all, great concept, but badly executed. I think it came too soon - wait a few years and VI would have benefited from new technology; I think Tim was either too pressured or too eager to jump straight into full-on VR at this point, and it wasn't powerful enough to provide a better sort of game.

But, as I say, I did enjoy this once I'd got past the "it's not KM but it was never supposed to be" feeling, and I do feel I'm in the minority there...

...because enjoying this programme wasn't just tough. It was... VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE!
Pooka - teacher, writer, comedian, musician, geek, and full-time Knightmarian.

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Re: Virtually Impossible Appreciation Week

Post by Canadanne » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:58 pm

Heh, I tried to watch this once, and barely made it through one third of the episode, so I'm afraid I have nothing to contribute this time. I can't make chat this weekend so at least I won't be missing much!

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Re: Virtually Impossible Appreciation Week

Post by pjmlfc05 » Fri Apr 17, 2015 7:43 pm

Sorry but it was a really bad idea by Tim to do this. Visual wise, it was naff. The Virtual Reality machine itself was overhyped and over rated. If anything, watching this gave me a headache! Forever in Knightmare's shadow.
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Re: Virtually Impossible Appreciation Week

Post by wombstar » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:41 pm

I did watch it but I wasn't to keen on it, it did have an interesting concept and could have been something really cool, but ended up being a little naff and a poor KM substitute. (I liked the Fish and the castle level)

I'm not completely negative towards it, I just didn't get into it at the time, (too old maybe) I also think part of the disappointment at the time comes from it not being KM, which is what i wanted.

Overall I find it boring, but looking back it wasn't terrible.. badly timed perhaps.


I did however love Time Busters but that's another topic.
It's always the cracked ones that let the light in

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