Tuesday, 27 November 2007

A really, really good argument for Nintendo's internet fear and Friend Codes

This video was put up at GayGamer.net, made by someone who joined a game of Halo with the tag 'xxxgaygamerxxx'. The nasty homophobia is terrifying, but the really scary thing is that this video's entire two minutes thirty seconds pass without anyone actually making a gag, if you consider the fact that 'gay' isn't a gag, it's his tag.

Saturday, 24 November 2007


I saw this game 'No more heroes' in action at the TGS, but what with all of the Japanese language and booth babes... well, I had no clear idea of what was going on. It looked proper jokes though, and it seems only right the the website should follow suit.

It might look a little crappy on these sample videos, but the real thing looked great, despite being plastered across massive screens. I need a Wii! (Did you make the joke? Be ashamed.)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Why do we keep believing, no matter how many times we're let down?

Because we want to believe.

I'm getting pretty sick of all the dodgey looks I get for being foreign Japan. Don't think that if you ever get out here it'll be pure amazing and you'll just be surrounded by supercute-Pokemon. Because you'll probably just end up feeling a bit discriminated against. Like it's the 1970s, and you're a black man...

surrounded by Pokemon.

In fact, it will be much like this

Thursday, 15 November 2007

New MP3 player

It's down at the bottom on the right. This time, I'm hand-picking all the songs myself. Message me with requests, or if any songs don't load! Oh, and don't even bother pressing play if you don't have a sense of humor. In fact, if you can't take a joke you can get the fuck out of my house.

Episode 15 is up on purepwnage.com. But I don't have to tell you that, do I?

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Ah, at last he returns. We had been waiting, and having a great time in Japan too! well good for him....

....what a prick.

OK let me tell you what I've been doing:

After much research I have discovered that the Tesco brand chicken and mushroom pie is the best damn ready made pie you can buy on a student budged, followed closely by the ASDA variant. don't even get me started on the Sainsbury's chicken and bacon pie. IT'S TOO DAMN BACONY!!

As always me and Bara share different views on games, and I've been getting my fill of Half life 2 - Episode 2 and Halo 3. Oh yes, although I have to say I found a game that beats them all hands down.


OK so it takes a little time to get into, but trust me, this shizzle is genius! ...pizzle...

OK, some tips, put some plant under the falling water, put some fire under the oil, burn the plant, use the wall to catch and direct the FLOS! have hours of fun basically.

There's also a nifty little gadget that I discovered which comes in two variants, the m3 and the r4, they're exactly the same, just manufactured by different companies. they're little DS cartridges.. but.. WHAT'S THIS???? A tiny memory card in the back of it? And a website with all the DS games you care to pilfer. It really is a money saver, and as technically legal as a recordable VHS player, plus you can play all the games online because it's the DS that has your ID number, not the game. fun fun fun.

And does anyone think that Lilo's older sister, Nani, in Lilo and Stitch is hot? No? Me neither.

you know it's the thighs that get me... but seriously no, I have a girlfriend who I kiss on the mouth and everything.

TeH |\|1p|>0nZ!!!!111oneone

So, it has been a long time, friends. I wonder how you have been doing while the silence between us lasted. Perhaps you doubted my return. Perhaps you even strayed to other blogs. But I told you I was in this for the long term! I always intended to come back, when the chaos of moving to Japan was over. You knew that. And still you moved UK: resistance back up into the number one spot in bookmarks. But never mind. Let's forget the past. Let's start again.

Wow a lot has happened. As anyone would have expected, moving to Japan has been quite a shock to the system. One of the first things I noticed was how damn stylish everyone is. Seriously, how am I ever supposed to impress the ch1x0r when everyone else is THIS cool?

Yes the general level of English around here is so bad, that it is not a problem to demand fellatio on a T-shirt. In fact, I would venture to say that it is encouraged. One of the great side effects of the shockingly poor level of English understanding in Japan is the amount of freedom it proffers in public. It is quite liberating to be horrendously rude about everyone in ear shot. Even more than usual, I mean. Because over here they don't realize they should be punching you.

Having mocked the Japanese people's English, it's probably only fair I say a few words about my Japanese. After some careful deliberation, I have decided on the following words; 'Oh dear.' They seem to sum it up for me. I did not do any kanji revision over the summer holiday, so that my grasp of the written language has recessed back in on itself faster than Shinji goes back into the feotal position. (w00t!) I'm playing the DS Zelda in Japanese, partly to avoid the hassle of shipping a JAPANESE game from England, and partly due to a stubborn 'I'm in Japan, I'll play it in Japanese even if it's less fucking fun than Dead or Alive' attitude, and it is like having two games for the price of one; A Zelda game, and a Japanese reading-comprehension game. One of those games is fun.

It's hard for me to be fair about the game, because I am playing it through a filter of 'What? "The flaming road of the permission to continue is for when the wind of breath reaches the flame of the road?" What the fu... oh, what, you want me to BLOW ON THE CANDLES? Jesus.' But it looks gorgeous, I do find that I end up blocking the screen a little with my hand, but I'm getting more used to the control system, and I think it is much better than some kind of button-pen compromise, the score is not up to Ocarina of Time standards, but will probably grow on me, and I love the fact that the faerie uses Navi's sample for "Hey!" when she wants your attention. I always liked the idea of cell shading in Zelda, it was other factors altogether that left Windwaker feeling hollow and foreign to the Zelda world - The DS one is much closer to the mark. All in all, this game feels very comfortable, like it naturally belongs in my hands. I'm looking forward to what it holds in store.

So what have I been up to in the land of the l337? Less then you might have expected, to be honest. I've been busy with school and everything, and some of the geekier areas of Tokyo, quite frankly, scare me. That's not to say I have been completely inactive. Oh, heaven forbid. I felt incredibly lucky to have a chance to go and see the Tokyo Game Show, surely something of a mecca for people like you and I. So now that enough time has passed to render all the 'hot' and 'exclusive' information from the show completely and irrefutably yesterday's news, I get around to writing a little about the show. To be honest, I wasn't privy to that much 'hot' information anyway, as this was not a press-day, but an open-to-the-public day, and also, the sheer scale of the thing was overwhelming, and I spent a lot of the day in awed, aimless circumambulation. The crowds were mad. As much as I wanted to see the new Biohazard (That means Resident Evil, you noob!) and Final Fantasy stuff, the crowds were just too much. I did cue up so that my Japanese friend could give the upcoming Dragon Quest on DS a try, and it looks beautiful. Fairly old-school, but I have a felling that it's going to be a real joy to play. Square-Enix are pouring the same amount of love into the upcoming Final Fantasy DS stuff, there's really going to be a lot to get exited about.

I also had a runabout on the upcoming DS Ninja Gaiden (A lot of DS I know, but it is the only console that I have out here) and it looks great and plays as smooth as butter. It is all done with the touch pen, and somehow it is even more satisfying to hack and slash your way though than Zelda. The demo went as far as the first boss battle, an angry looking red dragon. It was pretty easy to dispatch the sucker, but things will surely get harder, and the game will be a distracting play regardless of the difficulty.

In other news, they were showing videos of what is going to be the 3rd in the 龍が如く series (Yakuza 3) and it is set in Samurai times! You play as one of Kazuma Kiryu's ancestors (who looks miraculously like him) At first I was a little upset. No more nasty-looking suits. No more screams of "What the fuck!?" No more super-realistic vision of Kabuki-cho. But the videos looked amazing, and if Sega manage to carry through the lovable antihero and feeling of the originals, then this may well be the first of the PS3 games to really excite my interest. Don't hold your breath though. Yakuza 2 has not even had a confirmed European release, so things look equally dodgey for Yakuza 3.

Even If I never get a playstation 3 and never see Yakuza 2 or 3, being in Sega's corner was the closest I've had to a religious experience yet. It was great just soaking up the Sega vibes; even if half of the games on show were obscure JRPGs that I will never play or care about. As much as I don't consider myself into the kinky booth-girl stuff, there is something really, really hot about a girl in a capcom dress. I suppose this is one case in which the brand on the clothes is important. After those photos I made a bee-line for the Tecmo girls, but the girl I was with started getting annoyed. For annoyed read: fucking furious. Don't worry, if you want to see all the booth girls there is a website dedicated to the subject; Destructoid.

Well, I saw a lot at the game show, but I think I have pretty much written up the best of the bunch. I hope everyone is appropriately jealous, and messages me to say so, because if not, what was the point of coming all the way to this very difficult-to-live-in country?

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

R.I.P. Bibimbub

The best restaurant on my street, and the only one that was not a franchise, has closed. The absolutely brilliant little Korean family-run dive, Bibimbub has disappeared, replaced by an overly-fancy looking Japanese restaurant.

A moment's silence for the death of the family restaurant, and the unequivocal victory of the faceless franchise.

On a similar, yet quite different note, my model agency has gone bankrupt and shut up shop.

Fuck 'em. I hated em anyway.


Last night, my friends dragged me out to the new restaurant, only for us to find it was run by the same people! The menu had changed along with the decoration, but it was actually all very pleasant. The staff recognized us, and did not even mind when we got very drunk and loud in celebration. Happy ending!

Saturday, 1 September 2007


This guy has designed a series of Mario levels so that they can be completed with out any controller input. Why? you might ask, but the design is charming and amusing. But, while you are watching it try not to remember those excruciating, controller bitingly hard hours spent on the Mario series. It makes me want to cry a bit.

Also, this is me according to simpsonize. I always wanted to know.
Also, here is a sweet game about a girl who is moving away, and the guy who loves her is chasing her moving van. The controls are just left and right on the keypad, and space to jump. The black and white onigiri (rice-balls), the blue and white cans, and the sweetcorn all revive health.My topscore on difficulty level three is a not bad 791669. Challenge it!

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Did you miss me?

I have not written for a while, again. The excuse this time, for anyone who is still listening, is that I went down to my dad’s house in the countryside for a few days. They do not have any computers or internets there. They did have some witches, but they all got burned. I told my dad he should get broadband, but he said I should not mention it again, because it was ‘witch talk’, and I might get burned.

It was nice to get out of the smoke for a while, and it was good to spend some time resting and sorting my head out, and seeing my dad, in the run up to my now imminent emigration to t3H |\|1p|>()n. It was definitely good to have some proper ‘down time’ – including my dad’s best fry-ups and the local ale festival - before I have to start getting on with leaving my life behind…

I may have been severed from the internet, but I was still connected where it counts: computer games. First and foremost, my little brother had left his Wii over at my dad’s. Although I had already played on it, this was my first opportunity to play at length, and to really get to grips with the controllers. My eyes skidded over the copy of Resi 4; irrespective of how great the new control system may or may not be, I just did not have the energy to play the blasted game a third time. At the risk of sounding like a computer game Nazi, I will admit that the flippancy of Wii sports has never really appealed to me. I did fancy a proper go at Zelda: The Twilight Princess, but my save file had disappeared in my absence. The game that drew me in and kept me playing into impractical hours of the night was a flawed beauty; Red Steel.

Now I am ashamed to admit that the promise of Yakuza based action is guaranteed to have me shaking with violent intrigue, and when I first played on the Wii, this was the game that got me excited. It was a cool, stylistic FPS with (admittedly gimmicky) sword fights, and I loved it from the start. However playing it, as I initially did, for only a short time meant that I had no time to properly familiarise myself with the undeniably difficult mechanic of simultaneous movement and aiming on the foreign (to me) Wiimote. As a result, I went away feeling that Red Steel was something of a lost opportunity.

Having finally spent a respectable amount of time learning the ropes, I learned a new love for the game. Now my little yakaza fetish probably made the experience more exhilarating for me, but I can not tell you how fucking good it felt to charge around suspicious Japanese hotels and clubs brandishing guns and swords. Literally brandishing them. I surprised myself by deciding that the controls make a real difference.

Another part of the game’s strange charm is that it feels anachronistically stunted. Made by the French company Ubisoft, it displays the fruit of the strange little cultural love-in between the European mainland and Japan (everyone in Europe except the British seem to have fond memories of Fist of the North Star and Sailor Moon) and the game is another charmingly clumsy account of orientalist fantasy. It reminds me of the Samurai and Ninja games I used to play in the park as a child, before I grew out of it and… started a degree in Japanese? Oh, fuck!

You play a typically passively silent and unseen westerner who, get this, is going out with the daughter of a yakaza boss! Come on, who has not had that daydream? Just me? I’ll shut up. Predictably, it all goes awry, and rival gangsters kidnap your girlfriend and her dad, leaving just you, an army of malefactors waiting to be dispatched, and some guns. No, lots of guns. And really the tone does not change from there on out. Technically, everything about the game is a little out dated and on the cheesy side: graphics, story, even the gameplay feels as if nothing had changed since goldeneye. Yet this is exactly what adds up to make the game feel so nostalgically pleasing. It entices you to allow yourself to return to the drama and imagination of older times. And did I mention you can shoot loads of people and have sword fights? Good.

Also, I would like to announce a new addition to the blog! Down towards the bottom of the panel on the right, you will find a streaming radio player. It only plays the traditional Japanese folk-blues genre, Enka. It is a brilliant genre, and a yakuza favorite.


Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Christians ruin fun...again.

Sex, Weekends, killing your fellow man; let's be honest, if it is fun, Christianity has probably had a good go at ruining it. But Nintendo games? Fuck'sake, is nothing holy anymore?

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Ouendan 2

Generally, I consider myself a moral person. Not that I am claiming virtuosity from a viewpoint that has any pretensions of objectivity; conversely, I have my own idiosyncratic honour system, patched together from bits of outdated chivalry and bushido. It is a system that formed itself without any particular reference to practical application in the actual world. As a rule, my cobbled together honour system is sufficiently unmalleable to cause considerable difficulty in life and its delicately indefinable shades of grey.

Strange, then, is the alacrity with which I have delved into the ethically unmarked territory of computer games. The duality of the Zelda series, (which broke me into the world of hardcore gaming) when its classic hero-comes-of-age myth comes up against the encouragement of casual theft and aimless violence against nature, is well documented. Not to mention the shoplifting Easter egg in Link’s awakening. In fact this ream of amorality runs back into the genesis of computer games; before games began entertaining the concept of plot, players had little reason to attach real human meaning to their actions on the pixel plains. Games’ first steps into storytelling were tentative, like a toddler who has just discovered a way of irritating his mother into distraction; simultaneously triumphant and terrified. SMB on the NES/Famicom may have had us rescuing a princess, yet that unforgettable opening frame saw our primary-coloured plumber placed into the three-quarters sky, one quarter repetitive pixel landmass of the first level without so much as a cursory piece of explanatory text. In fact, for those of us with a consumer conscience weak enough to buy an unboxed second hand game, or those of us who were too ADHD to read the instructions, (that’s me on both counts, then) the first point at which it was clear a princess was being rescued by all of this surreal jumping and squashing was at the end of the first world. By this point, we were so hooked by Mario’s exploits that we did not really care why we were supposed to be taking part.

Picture, if you will, the openings for ‘Doom’ and ‘Escape from Castle Wolfenstein’; the player was dropped into the foreboding corridors of the game world covered in his afterbirth, still blinking in the light after the relative darkness of the womb of reality. No introductory text, no cutscene, no training mission incorporated into the plot in a clumsy attempt at concealment; nothing between you and a brand new, unforgiving game. Although we would never allow a game to have so little story in these enlightened days, in retrospect I can not help but admire the Spartan purity of those games. It was a type of beauty.

As computer games have marched on into the present, it has become difficult for developers to come up with new excuses for us to solve puzzles, dispatch enemies and explore worlds that in many ways remain unchanged from those simpler times. Storylines are often spurious and ‘tagged-on’ to the game. Computer games are a unique creative product, as the plot is so often a slave to the format. This leads to an inability to truly inspire empathy for a game character. If one were to create a stronger bond between play and plot, the landscape would look a little different. Everyone loves a good antihero, yet the GTA franchise opted for strait down the line villains who kill and steal without ever satisfactorily explaining why. If we truly suspended disbelief in the game world, I think that a GTA game would really be too horrific to play. Yet people play, putting no emotional weight on the events of the game world. This missing connection is endemic amongst the makers and players of games. I have heard it said that the problem with the few games that do offer moral frameworks is that they utilize systems of cause and effect; and the games then breakdown, as players choose actions depending not on the whispers of their hearts, but by calculating which choice has the most beneficial results on their character, stats, or situation. They turn a moral choice into a strategic one.

On the other hand, the design of the games we play often seems held back by the story. Surely the great art of games design is the creation of original and expressive ‘gameplay’ (dirty word). Generally, an action movie story would make an awful novel, and the plot of a novel would have trouble squeezing into the framework of a modern poem. The content is dictated by the form. However, the baby format of computer games still looks to its big brothers for inspiration, and our games stories are often compromised versions of what should really be scripts for substandard action films. These stories, themselves altered into unbelievability in order to fit the accepted kill-run-repeat format of computer games also detract from the freedom of games design – there must be buttons for shooting, jumping and reloading etc. not leaving much space for innovative game design. It begs the question, have action games really moved on since the Diehard trilogy on the Playstation One?

So the plot conventions stunt our games, and the way games have been designed has twisted plot conventions towards immoral, inhumane and unquestioning murder marathons.

I think I have found the cure.

燃えろ!熱血リズム魂 おす!闘え!応援団2 (Burn! Hot-blooded rhythm soul Go! Fight! Cheerleaders 2) or Ouendan 2 as it is more practically known, is an epoch making revolution, disguised as a light-hearted rhythm game. You may ask ‘What is so revolutionary about a rhythm game?’ and the answer is that the gameplay alone may not be revolutionary, but this game is more than the sum of its parts. What is special about the gameplay, is that it will make you feel as if the DS was made specifically so Ouendan could come into existence. The interface is so intuitive and immediate that any game that expected you to do something as dull as memorize the buttons on the Playstation controller, now seems more than a little offensive. Here where you hit beats, run along slides and scrabble around spinning wheels as you see them, there is nothing between you and the actual ‘playing’ of the game. There is no need to worry hard-core pwnerers, this game gets very hard. And you can not call yourself a man until you have ‘done’ the cheerleader girls. Literally.

Of course, no one has made an action film about dancing your way to victory (that I know of, but I would seriously love to be corrected on this one), so Ouendan is free from those stylistic hangovers that haunt games so unforgivingingly. This game also frees itself from the ‘kookiness’ of rhythm games like Parappa the Rapper, and the pure plot evasion of DDR, Taiko games, and just about everything else on the rhythm game market. No, Ouendan is a proper story game.

Ouen is the Japanese word for ‘cheer’ as in ‘to cheer someone on’, and the Ouendan of the title are two groups of young hard-as-nails men, who wear uniforms redolent of those preferred by extreme right-wing political parties and gangsters in Japan. What do these suspicious young men do with their time? Car-jack and transport drugs? No. Embark on cop killing crusades, doomed to end in a bitter-sweet blood-spattered last stand when the swat hit the scene? No.

They solve ordinary Japanese people’s oppressively ordinary problems by dancing to J-pop.

In an obvious sideswipe at the current state of computer games, these violent, dangerous looking men take part in the campest of action to solve the smallest of problems. At first, the extreme ordinariness of the stories may seem silly; ‘I have to help a high school girl organise a choir club? Why?’, but as your hyperbole and cliché frazzled brain slowly accustoms to the game, you will care about and believe in these characters more than 500 hundred identikit fantasy worlds on the brink of destruction.

Continuing the theme of breaking the stale computer game blueprint, these stories are all exemplary pieces of moral correctness. Objectively. With every level, your heart will weep tears of joy (well, tears of blood, probably, but Joyful ones.) to have finally found a game that lets you do right again and again. The Ouendan use their cheer-leading skills only for good, bringing nothing but happiness. And as wanky as that sounds, it feels really good. Help a Sumo wrestler win matches so that his sponsorship money can support an orphanage? YES! Protect Japan from a rampaging Godzilla-sized kitten by building a giant robot which will challenge the feline fiend to a game of Chinese chess? YES! YES! One game has you help a young werewolf hide his canine side so he can share a successful date with a girl he likes. However, you are helping him to build a relationship on lies. Never fear! When you succeed, a deus ex machina kicks in, the guy reverts to wolf form, and the girl accepts him as he is! YES! YES! YES!

Obviously, some of the stories do slip into the supermundane, but they do it with a style and charm that I have not witnessed in computer games in years. People may argue that the connection between music and story is spurious, but when is the last time that you solved anything by picking up some heavy weaponry and murdering armies of evil people with bad AI? That is right, never. And how many times have you been cheered on by great songs at times of trouble? Probably a few more times. The music is absolutely spot-on throughout the game, and from what I have seen of the track list for the Western conversion, Elite Beat Agents, it kicks the SHIT out of our attempt.

This game has broken games down, and built them up again from the beginning. Instead of dropping you in a clichéd world that you have to save despite not really loving, this game instead concentrates on showing you how to love the world. And once you have cheered these believable people on through their very human hopes and dreams, if the world were to come under threat, it would be something you would feel a real passion for fighting to save...

When Edge gave this game eight out of ten, at first I accepted that, as a very high score for Edge. But to be honest, I was wrong. a critic can not simply decide the value of a game, he must observe themes that it is trying to express, and the success with which it achieves its goals. Ouendan 2 is a ten out of ten game. We should not accept Edge’s scoring scheme, whereby the maximum possible score is eight out of ten, unless it is a Zelda game, which will get nine out of ten irrespective of whether it is any good or not. Edge holds on to that number ten for some mythical game-to-end-all-games. Well, Ouendan is the opposite. It is a new beginning for games. Developers take note, and don’t fucking waste it.

Ps. Once more, you can download the soundtrack to Ouendan 2 here

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

I gotta believe!!!

I'm no PSP lover, but this shouldn't be missed. To celebrate the psp release of Parappa the Rapper, a certain 'psp fanboy' blog that I won't link to has provided eight tracks from the soundtrack for download. They're not songs that I would recognise, becuase I can't play the new game until they release it on a proper console. However, Parappa tunes are always choice, so here they are.


I have said before that I do not really feel qualified to talk about the new Pokemon games, as I have not really played deep enough into my copy of diamond to warrant it, and even if I had, my experience of the series as a whole is next to nonexistent. Oh happy chance it is then, that I have friends better qualified than I. I will shut up, and let Max do the talking.

Pokemon - the thinking man's chess

Pokemon is one of the best game franchises in the world. It is. No, it IS.
I am very, very good at the Pokemon games, partially because they directly reward obssessive behaviour. The more you battle your Pokemon, the higher their levels, the more opposing Pokemon Trainers you can gleefully trash. But there's more to Pokemon than cutesy animations and hour upon hour of ceaseless battle.

Pokemon's great strength lies in the fact that it is more multi-faceted a game than any other out there - there are just so many ways to play it. Of course there's the narrative to play through, which combines compelling characters with increasingly apocalyptic plots. In Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow you were battling bring down a criminal organisation called Team Rocket. In Gold, Silver and Crystal, Team Rocket regrouped and set about kidnapping and dissecting and selling parts of Pokemon. In Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald you had to stop Team Magma and Team Aqua from destroying the world. In Diamond and Pearl you are battling to stop Team Galaxy from destroying the space-time continuum. For a supposed "children's game", it's all pretty heavy stuff.

There are also Pokemon Contests, in which your Pokemon has to perform to a crowd and appeal to a panel of in-game judges in one of five categories: cool, beauty, cute, tough or smart. These are a science in themselves, and there are players who take enough pleasure out of them to spend most of their time in the game competing against each other and the in-game opponents. Then there are gamers that spend most of their time breeding, in which you can exercise unprecedented control over a Pokemon's stats, natures and move-set and provide such an edge that no serious battler would dream of competitively using a Pokemon they hadn't hatched themselves.

Increasingly, games are filled to splitting with different modes and unlockable treats, but invariably these are just add-ons - they're not woven into the fabric of the game-world. All the aspects of Pokemon I've mentioned are not different modes with the same game mechanics and ideas behind them, they are literally different ways to experience the world of Pokemon, and each has an effect on the others. As the graphical capabilities of the consoles increase, sports sims and racing games are touted as being more "immersive" than anything seen before, and yet Nintendo have managed to create a game that is more genuinely immersive than any of those in Pokemon. And they've done that by creating a believable world. The concept of Pocket Monsters that fight each other may be ludicrous, but if you take their existence as assumed then the world that they would inhabit would almost certainly be the one depicted in the games. For example, the beginning of Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald saw your character moving house, and the moving company consisted mainly of Machokes to move the large, heavy furniture around. Thinking about it, it's obvious that it would - if they existed then that's one of the things they'd be doing. People need help moving their furniture. The creators of Pokemon seem to have considered the impact that the existence of Pokemon would have on every aspect of life and the world, from transport (where you can fly on bird Pokemon or surf on water Pokemon) to electricity grids (powered by Voltorbs), from lighthouses (each with it's own Ampharos) to cooking (over heat generated by Slugmas). They've not been afraid to depict the mundane or practical applications of Pokemon, and that completeness is what makes the world of Pokemon so immersive and so compelling.

Pokemon is seen as a children's game, even by some of my closest friends, but that's because they are RISIBLE FOOLS who don't take the time to properly look at a game, or dismiss them just because they have cartoon monsters. If you think that different elemental types being super effective against others is the extent of battling, and that chatting to sparingly animated Pokemon Professors is the extent of character interaction, and that Pokemon Contests can be written of as pandering to Japanese fangirls because they have a competition catagory labelled "Cute", then that doesn't mean that Pokemon is a child's game, it means that you are a child.
Superficially, the demographic that Pokemon is aimed at are children, but to say that it's a "child's game" is derisive and patronising and implies that adolescents or adults can't enjoy or learn from it. There are parts of Pokemon that are quite clearly not aimed at children. For instance, there are moments of clear innuendo in the dialogue at the Veilstone Massage Parlour in Pokemon D/P, the beach in Pokemon R/S/E, and the Viridian Forest in G/S/C. How many children will laugh any of those? Of course, it's the fact that these borderline explicit pieces of dialogue are found in a game most would consider immature that makes it daring and unexpected and ultimately funny. Similarly, the battling mechanics. Most casual gamers get as far as the instruction manual's "fire beats grass, grass beats water, water beats fire" Pokemon battling "strategy". But beneath that is a very complex and even profound system. It's profound enough that the Pokemon community can battle over the Internet and in worldwide tournaments every day of every year for over a decade and still keep inventing new ways of structuring teams, and profound enough that 200 page booklets are being written just on potential movesets and tactics. My best friend and I have studied Pokemon Battling strategy for a long time now and we know a lot of stuff, a hell of a lot of stuff. A volume of stuff that would make many people out there seriously reconsider their friendship with us if they knew.

Over the many years and the four generations of Pokemon games I've clocked up over 500 hours of gameplay, and I'm proud to say that I still haven't seen it all and it's still fun enough to keep me up at night. How many of your "adult" driving games can do that?

Max the Felicitous

Monday, 23 July 2007

Teh Internet roundups

Look, I made the mistake of posting one little picture of Kasumi cosplay, and suddenly I am listed as some kind of horrific Internet geek-core porn baron. Well thank you, everyone who searched for some kind of Nintendo hentai, I hope you were suitably disappointed by my (generally) very sombre blog. What I am trying to say is, this may not help my already tarnished reputation, but I just had to steal this amazing video from destructoid for you.

It's the music that does it for me. There is now no need for any of you to go through the horror of playing a Dead or Alive game. Ever.

And just to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I spoil you, try your 'hand' at some m4d b34td0wnz, Marie Antoinette style, with Rose & Camellia - an incredibly good flash game. It is in Japanese, but there is really very little to it. You slap people. nuff said.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

ID magazine party

Last sunday, Terrence Koh did some kind of art show in the middle of boom box, and out of nowhere my agent phoned me for the first time in ages. And so it was that I found my self on stage in one of London's most try-hard gay fashion clubs, in pants, nipples painted white, and with something that distinctly resembled a pair of tights on my head. I have to laugh. But only becuase I hate crying in public. See the white hands on the right? They were were stuffed full of insense sticks, which we had been instructed to light. Only some one had been skimping on the cash, because none of the fucking things would stay lit. Then every single one of our lighters broke. Then I can only assume that Terrence Koh though a tiz and refused to come on stage, becuase we were left to stand in front of a very confused, coked-up Boom box for what felt like four days.
However, there was a free tab there for all the models, so most of the more disturbing memories are a little hazy.
(I'm the short-arse on the left)

Sunday, 8 July 2007

One Hundred Views! Celebratory round-up

Yes, this humble blog has swelled to the once unimaginable milestone of one-hundred views. Are you reading this, mum? You said I would never amount to anything, but look at me now, twenty years old, and I already have an erotic anime figurine and a blockbusting free-hosted web page! Now who’s laughing?!?!!!11oneone.

Eternal Daughter

Of course, I have no choice but to celebrate by doing something out of the ordinary. So for once, I am going to like, write about geeky stuff. First on the list is a little present for all of you, the readers. (I know you are there, because I only cheated the visitor count by pounding the refresh button sixty times, at most) Eternal Daughter is a freeware game in the vein of those naïve old SNES rpgs. It is mainly remarkable because it is a labour of love from a two man design/programming team who spent two years developing it purely because of the conviction that there is always room for another game like this in the world. It is highly regarded, and is argued to be one of the best garage games ever. One of the most enchanting features of the game is the utterly classic artwork and animation. However, there are little points that do you remind you the game was not a professional production. For instance, when hit, enemies do not have a ‘taking damage’ animation, giving combat a weird ghostly feeling. However, you can taste the love that has gone into this, and therefore anyone who likes the taste of love should check it out.

Next is another little present for our copious readers. Wait a minute; this whole blog is a gift to mankind! Everything here is a present. Be grateful. Densha Otoko is a heart warming drama, taking from what is apparently a true story found on an internet message board. It is all about a well-meaning but disastrously sad geek, and his search for love. Actually, reading that, it sounds shit; but I promise it is pretty good fun. Anyone who has ever had a little heart of dorkness dilemma (come on, Lara Croft Vs. real girlfriend, anyone?) should definitely give this series a watch.

For the members of the Earls court Street Fighter Dojo (they know who they are) and anyone in the global Street Fighter community, there is an amusing article at Hardcore Gaming 101 about the influential fighting games that arrived before Street Fighter II. The piece was intended to refute the idea that fighting games started with Street Fighter II, but reading about the quality of what went before, you will probably wish they did. A lot of the games are a little before my time, but it is amusing to read about them and think smugly ‘I’m glad I never had to play that’ or ‘How tragic. I suppose this is how people amused themselves before Street Fighter II. Why, they were little better than Apes. Apes, I say!’ So, um, yes. You can laugh at some very knowledgeable older gamers here, although it won’t make that recuring dream of falling into darkness, only to realise the gaping cavity is the snarling mouth of one of your disdainful parents, and the accompanying sense of worthlessness stop. Perhaps nothing ever will.

In other news, Shake Before Reading.com have an amusing (and possibly privacy-law breaching) article up about who visits their site, and how they got there. Here's the article The weird leeps of logic that search engines can make reminded me of how people put hundreds of unrelated but popular tags on their videos on youtube in order to generate traffic. I would like to take the opportunity to express my opinion on this practice: NAKED CHUN-LI SEX PICTURES.
Some friends and I all got the new Pokemon on import a while a go, and I had asked one of them (who has played it considerably more than me) to write something about it before it came out. You know, like a real life review or something. That has not happened. So I give you Pokemon in a nutshell: Yes, it is very well carried out. With the number of Pokemon available, and the insane amount of side activities, there is a lot to be done. The game is, of course, technically perfect. And, just like everyone really already knew, Game Freak have naturally (and probably wisely) refused to move an inch away from a formula that has worked with almost scarily clinical accuracy until now. You can not really fault Pokemon for being too Pokemon, but the game was quickly knocked out of my DS by an entirely new experience and an altogether better game…

Those who have not played or heard about the sequel to 押忍!戦え!応援団 should wait, because I am going to squeeze a whole post out of this game. (What am I talking about? You could get a whole novel out of this game!) But for those of you who know and love Ouendan, one more treat; the soundtrack.

Bara out.


Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Public Service Anouncement

I want to sleep with the girl in black lace gloves. A Legend of Zelda keyring and sloppy seconds to anyone who brings her to me. (She can chose to wear the gloves or not.)

Online Videos by Veoh.com

The same band also provided this lamazing video (lamazing - simultaneously lame AND amazing - see also; TATTU, heavy metal, and slap bass.)

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Now THAT'S what the Onimusha sound track should have sounded like.

Bara out.chunli-classic.gif

Monday, 4 June 2007

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorny

The stench of death fell over me like a wave. Well, it would have, if a wave could fall out of a closet, with blood all over that cute little white number that she was wearing last time I met her. McCain was scum, with means and a motive. But no matter how down and dirty he was, that didn't stop him from being a two bit microwave-chip bootlegging sap. And no sap could have done this to my Cindy. Something screamed 'set-up'. And it wasn't just McCain, who certainly screamed 'set-up' as I left him in his cell downtown. No, there was more to this, and I was gonna get to the bottom, as sure as oil in salad dressing. French style vinaigrette dressing. Not Cesar's, or that mayonnaise based stuff.

Why am I indulging in my favorite pastime of stretching metaphors long past the point where they lose their elasticity, like a pair of well-loved old boxers, stretched around a beer belly that you can not acknowledge by throwing them away, and stained with the confusion of a hundred readers? I'm celebrating something that the video games has been missing since Max Payne; the simile-slinging, hard-punning underdog detective.

Do you remember the nineties? Because I don't, grandad. They were over by the time I was fifteen. Ha! However, I do remember buying loads of outdated nineties games to play on my awful home-made PC. There was a whole army of point and click noir-styled detective games referencing everything noir from Raymond Chandler to Bladerunner.

The Phoenix Wright series is something of a spiritual successor to those detective games, having the same clue gathering, witness grilling, wisecracking set-up at its heart. However, this time, you do not just catch the bad guy, you get to drag him through the courts, and pound him with the evidence you have gathered.

This style of game can hardly be described as a 'game' - it is a very closed system, with 'right' answers at every step, and you have to achieve this steps in a prescribed order. (Japanese-made 'point-and-clicks' are known to be even more firmly 'on rails' than western ones) It works a little like a choose your own adventure. What it is that drags the the player into an incredibly immersing experience then, is the brilliant writing.

Each character is beautifully realised, with their own quirks of speech and behaviour, and their own emotions; even a side-character in Ace Attorney is more fully written than the average modern computer game hero. The rival lawyers you love to hate slowly become sympathetic as the game progresses, and the criminals, even if they can not be forgiven, can always be understood. The dialogue is genuinely witty, and often had me laughing out loud.

You may have read my previous whinging, and remember that these days, I rarely complete games. However, I completed the second game in the Phoenix Wright series in two weeks, even though it was my exam revision period. Now, for a hardcore gamer like me to chose Phoenix Wright over anything else when my gaming time was so limited, must mean something. Basically, it exemplifies the power of good writing in games. I kept playing to see what would happen next, and to hear (read) more of my favourite characters' amusing vergiberations. Now I am not a particular advocate of 'nu-casual-gaming'; I would prefer to see the games market expanding in every direction, without losing anything we have come to love already. However, a game like Phoenix Wright has a very far reaching lesson. If good writing can do so much for a game, why do we accept less? Why is it okay for developers to hire uninterested hacks to populate our games with uninteresting two-dimensional characters (Hell, we can see them in 3D!) and wooden dialogue?

Writing like that found in Phoenix Wright should not just be found in 'story games' - most games purport to have a story of some form or other, and I think it is no longer satisfactory for that story to be poorly written. I remember how the creators of Fahrenheit made such a fuss over the idea that a game's plot could take influence from cinema. It is a pity that particular game took its influence from awful cheesy Hollywood thrillers. While it was commendable that the game makers wanted to show that a game could inspire the emotions of a film, it is sad that those emotions were the standard array of boredom and embarrassment inspired by the cliches of Hollywood. The fact is, there is a wide world full of writing out there, and it is about time games considered themselves part of that world.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Public Service anouncement

I would apologise for plugging another site here, but no one reads this blog, and you can not read apologies if your eyes do not exist. So Fuck you, imaginary readers, with your blank, mocking eyes, fuck you all!

Here is a call out for anyone who has ever been exaseperated by some of the nonsense we come up against in that stalwart of irrelevence and pretense, university.

www.shakebeforereading.com - (a site well known for duping nuns and employing gay chloroform) read the article called 'A response to my critics, part 1'

True dat.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

God of War II: The revenge of media hysterics

I am not really writing this blog. You see, I'm spending my time revising for my exams. I am certainly not wasting my time writing about a media scuffle that everyone has already commented on.

And I certainly have not been wasting precious revision time playing God of War II. Definitely not. So with all the fuss over the dead goat, I got round to reading the Daily Mail's review of the game (printed on the same page as the superlative fuss over the launch party with its disgusting pagan meat soup and scantly clad models).

So now you want the game, right? "No sword-blow or swing of your hero Kratos's hooks goes unrewarded with a geyser of blood." Brilliant! Sony should count themselves lucky for receiving this piece of advertising, brilliantly disguised as aghast moralising. It is exactly this kind of free advertising that a wise company would incur with carefully orchestrated launch parties, which offer newspapers subject matter for cheap, shouty copy in exchange for shining reviews like this. But Sony is not a canny company with an incredibly aggressive marketing approach, just a collection of ke-razy godless bastards who make edgy and excitingly dangerous products.

Perhaps it was some pretty cheap shock tactics that got God of War II onto people's lips, but this is a shame, because I would like to talk about the game anyway. Yes, it is pretty violent. But unlike GTA and its innumerate spawn, the violence is strictly rooted in a not very controversial Xena-esque, demon dispatching fantasy world.

As for the game's plot, the Mail on Sunday review claims that 'although it is nominally based on Greek myths, students of the Classics would be appalled by how the game reduces the tales of the ancients to a sequence of cartoonishly grotesque fights', yet I feel that the characters and stories lifted from the classics fit the game's violent outlook perfectly. A jealous Zeus ties Prometheus to a rock where he is eaten by birds, and heals every night, for the simple crime of giving fire to humans (Greek myth), then Kratos kills him to free him from pain, and kills a bunch of demons. (God of war) The fates warn Chronos that one of his children will kill him, Chronos eats his children. Zeus survives, kills Chronos, rules Olympus. (Greek myth) Zeus becomes as protective of his power as his dead father (see the Prometheus myth) and attempts to kill Kratos, who he thinks poses a threat. Kratos fights his way out of hades, killing a bunch of demons (God of war).

Now I studied classics at school. I don't know if that qualifies me as a 'student of the classics' or not, ( I think the most studied things in that classroom were Miss Rose's tights) but I certainly was not appalled by the direction the game takes. One of the most compelling things about the game is how comfortably Kratos fits into the brutal, petty and vengeful world of the Gods of Greek mythology. And it was a brutal world. If the game makers had tried to shoe-horn Kratos and his big swords into an old romantic comedy, the results might have been easier to criticise for disingenuous twisting of historical texts. (But what a game it would have been - imagine Kratos opening a historically inaccurate can of whupass all over Shakespeare's As you like it - fucking classic. 'Wilt though lay hands on me villain?' 'I am no villain; I am the GOD OF WAR!' - bloody chaos ensues.)

"Go on, tell me about the Wii one more fucking time"

No, the Greek Mythical backdrop is an exception to the normal rule, in that the ultraviolence and camp prominence of butch young men is actually excusable. Safe in the knowledge that it is not wrong, you can therefore get on with the mountains of enticingly stupid combat. Hours of it.

And here, the Mail on Sunday and I have another difference of opinion. Their 'Games and gadgets' editor tells us 'What is worse is that God of war II is clearly an intelligently designed game' (I do not think he means that this is worse than the violence, but rather that they ruined an otherwise good game by putting monsters and blood in it, as opposed to bunnies and a nice cup of tea) 'and one with broad appeal to the young. The game's cryptic, Indiana Jones-style puzzles are among the cleverest seen in video games'. What the Fuck? In this game, there is a puzzle where you drag statues around, so that their shields reflect laser beams. Has this author ever played a computer game? In this game there are typically two ways you can 'interact' with game objects (and yes, the game hints do describe it as 'interacting') you can grab something and mash the circle button in order to upend it, or you can hit it with your sword until it disintegrates. This game is the very definition of stupid. Half of the puzzles are there just to add a boost to the gameplay time. Seriously, without the glorious and visceral combat, this game would be like a dyslexic Tombraider. And no one wants that. (I am dyslexic, so I can say that and it is funny.)

What does make God of War II special, is that it knows what it is, and goes about being it with a profesianal zeal and a refresing lack of pretention. So the technique where you beat an openent up a bit, and when he is weakened you can perform a special finishing move is nothing new. The point is, it is so well done, you will not care. Having knocked down and stabbed a boss, you will be preparing for the next section of the game when Kratos, as an afterthought, sticks the defeated boss's head in a doorway, and you are encouraged to mash the circle button for a chance to smack the door onto the character's head. Repeatedly. That sums up God of War II; it is doing nothing new, and nothing clever, but it does it with such charm and acute control over the way the game plays, that it is special in its own right.

"See me kick you. You fall down"

The controls are intiuative, the fights are explosive, the bosses are frequent and spectacular (This is a game in which the first level sees you fighting against the stutue of the Colossus) and the backdrops and graphics are stunning. It is great to see this as part of my muche-loved playstation 2's swansong. It also serves as a good reminder that games get technally better as consoles age. If the Wii can eventually provide games looking like this, then that is power enough for me. The only worry is, with all the movement towards games with broader appeal (which I thouroughly approve of) will it still be profitable for developers to scratch that hardcore itch, for those of us who still feel it? (and oh, how we still feel it.)

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The eternal joys of heaven pt. 2

When the DS first materialised, I was sceptical. Perhaps it is only a stunted imagination, but I could not picture how a stylus and touch-screen might sustain a games platform for its entire lifetime. I had a similarly unconvinced moment when the details of the Wii were first released.

It was the actuality of the Wii that convinced me to give the DS a try. The Wii controller still stuns me. It is robust enough to be flung about with force for Wii tennis, yet sensitive enough to detect small movements, like zooming in with a sighted weapon in Red Steel. Completely unable to guess at the science, I am convinced that if you were to open a Wii controller, it would be empty. Do not question it, just believe.

So I was made proselyte by Nintendo’s crazy science. However, as I hope to go to Japan next year, it does not make sense to buy a television based console. Despite this, the idea of being left behind by current gen consoles makes me feel ashamed and afraid. The portable, region-free DS seemed like a perfect compromise. And should that dirty little old-school twitch arise, I still have a copy of Doom 2 on GBA port. Boom! Head shot!

First, a quick look at the machine. Mine is a DS lite, the sleek little black number. I was warned that the black version is particularly susceptible to smudges and finger marks, but frankly, I could not care less. The stylus is a little bit of a worry; I have already lost one as I fell asleep during a Phoenix Wright marathon. But, hey, that was kind of my fault. Yes, GBA cartridges do jut out of the machine, but that just goes to show how much bigger and clunkier the original DS was all the time. The button layout is that of a Super NES controller, and is therefore as warm and comforting as the foetal position. The buttons are pretty close, but serious cramps are only incurred with control systems that combine extensive stylus/button combinations.

People moan that the DS’ power does not match up to the Sony PSP. To be honest, with two processors (each comparable to the one in the SNES) providing 2D graphics for each screen, and a third, (comparable to that of the N64) handling 3D graphics and sound, I would argue that there is quite a bit of oomph for developers to play with. It has just been organised in a different way to the macho ‘as many polygons as possible, on a tiny screen’ outlook of the PSP.

And that, for me, seems to explain Nintendo’s approach for both the Wii and the DS. The boobs in Dead or Alive on the Xbox 360 seem like a good indicator of the current state of gaming. When I was sixteen, I loved boobs. I still do, god help me, and there is a pasty sixteen-year-old in me that is overjoyed to see how the world has moved on from Chun-li’s pixelated mammaries to glorious 3D monsters that respond to gravity with unreal bouncing hyperactive joy. It is because of this part of me that developers target the sixteen-year-old misanthrope in all of us, and the graphics get nicer, the engines get tweaked, but the bigger our hypothetical girl’s boobs get, the more she looks like a cheap stripper.
Graphics as boobs - cunning metaphor or lame excuse to show this?

At the grand old age of twenty, it has already occurred to me that as much as I like boobs, they are probably not the be all and end all. (Or perhaps I have just learnt to admit that I will never find a pair of porn-star tits that are attached to a girl that will have me, but that is an argument for another day.) I would rather compromise on a kind, clever girl whose boobs are merely nice, with a good personality. And the DS has a good personality.

Those of you who want nothing more than to see once fun, now boring games like GTA and Halo get bigger and better are fated to remain forever sixteen, playing Dead or Alive and wanking. Metaphorically and literally. Stand aside, because some of us are ready to take Nintendo by the hand, and grow up with them.

The games industry has been talking about the need to expand their reach to a wider market for years. And when Nintendo is the first company to bite the bullet and admit this might alienate hardcore gamers, all the pussies who did not make the move (and the money) first start bitching about the specs.

Yes, I do worry that I might have trouble reconciling that corner of me that is hardcore with Nintendo’s new simplicity ethic. Yet to be brutally honest, I have not completed a game in some time. The last game I managed to get all the way through was We Love Katamari, and I could hardly imagine that the pwner is shaking in his pro-gaming boots. I could, like everyone else who has out-grown their games, lie, and say it is because my time is limited. Bullshit. When I was a kid, school took up nearly all my time, and my N64 was at my dad’s, who I only visited on weekends. I spent all week thinking about the Ocarina of Time and Goldeneye, and on the weekends I would play instead of sleep, and feel sick on Monday. I made time.

No, the real reason that Katamari is the last game I mastered is because it was genuinely different, the simple mechanic did not require constant practice, and it had a genuinely amusing post-modern sense of humour.

We love Katamari -nothing to do with boobs. Literally.

The DS and Wii are aimed at people who are not satisfied with playing the same fps, with better graphics, over and over. The cool thing is that by buying one of these less ‘powerful’, unorthodox consoles, you are implicating a willingness to explore other aspects of games. This is the message sent to the developers, who must be taking note of Nintendo’s all conquering sales figures. Therefore, developers working on these consoles feel free to get experimental with their games – the market has already shown that it is willing to consume products that are not simple Halo remakes when everyone bought a DS. (Forty million DS sales world-wide.)

When I first got the DS, those hardcore instincts kicked in, and my first game purchase was Metroid Prime Hunters. Despite the fact that I had bought the console in anticipation of the weird and wonderful I felt the need to ‘try the system out’ with a fps. To be honest, the game is pretty technically impressive. Also, the stylus operates like a mouse would for a PC based fps, in what is probably the best console-based fps control system I have ever seen. However, the game is a little lacking in character. The multiplayer is a really important aspect, and is initially very impressive, playing along the lines of a stripped-down Unreal Tournament. However, it lacks the gloriously tactile weaponry of UT, as the weapons are basically all variations on a laser beam. Compare the joy of the physics and timing of the UT rocket launcher with the lacklustre missiles that Samus utilises. The alien power-suit setup is also unimpressive. Where is the joy that UT afforded when you turned your opponent into a mush of bouncing, blood spurting chunks of cat food? Most of the multiplayer gaming sessions I have been part of quickly moved on to Bomberman and Mario Kart.

Metroid - Underwhelming

Which, by the way, are amazing multiplayer games. The way the DS works like a LAN match, only requiring one game for multiplayer is incredible. Remember how many of the defining gaming moments were social ones? Four people sharing SNES controllers to play Micro Machines. Genuine fights over accusations of ‘screen watching’ in Goldeneye (solved by the LAN-esque setup of the DS). Trust me, five people scuttling around the dual-screens of Bomberman is quite an experience. On the subject, there has been a lot of animosity regarding the necessity of friend codes to play online. Admittedly, this is probably largely because Nintendo are worried about unsavouries and paedos online (or more pointedly, they are worried about what cash haemorrhaging parents are worried about) but I do not find the idea of friend codes such a big problem. It is much more fun to play against your friends then against some random American geek who knows all the spawn spots, and therefore wipes the floor with you, exclaiming ‘lol! Noob! Fag!’ all the while. I think we should be encouraged to view games as part of our real social lives, instead of raping strangers in Second Life, and making up for a lack of social skills by forming guilds in WOW. (‘Basically, WOW is, like, the gay.’) I like the idea that I will be able to destroy my friends at Mario kart from any where on earth, and know exactly who it is that is crying at the other end of the world. Max.

When I lightened up and began to buy games about Doctors and Lawyers, I really began to realise that the DS is the future. More on the marvels I have found later.

(Thanks for the proof-read go to Max and Giorgio from shakebeforereading.com)

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Taking Time to Waste Time.

I'm one of those people that takes about a week to write a thousand words, but ends up writing them all in an hour before the hand-in date. It's not that I can't do it sooner, I just don't. Instead I check MySpace every five minutes, I do the same with Facebook, and then there are things like this little addictive web-comic: Sinfest, which is sort of like an odd twist on Calvin and Hobbes, but with the Devil somewhere in the mix. Oh and of course Naruto, although perhaps that last one is a bit too geeky... I'm also ashamed to say I spend a lot of time browsing YouTube:

Of course my main pursuit of time-wasting, (Other than being a gorgeous love machine with an ass that won't quit), Is my beautiful Xbox 360. Why is it better than anything Nintendo could create? The answer is one game: Gears of War, which is pretty much just excessively violent and incredibly, incredibly fun. You need this game. And if you're like Bara you also need an Xbox.

If you're in any doubt about how fun this game could be, just know that you play as these guys, you kill these guys, and one gun has a chainsaw on the front:

Or, if like me you crave to slake your thirst for buying sets of armour and collecting weapon upgrades, two upcoming titles that look especially geek-tastic are: Too Human and Mass Effect.

And so Bara, unless you're not completely sick to death of jumping on the heads of green turtle things and mushrooms with angry faces, I think for today at least, Microsoft wins.


Come, all ye Faithfull!

When I read one of those passages in Edge magazine about 'indie gaming' I tend to nod my head sagely and say, 'Yes surely that is the future of the games industry', and then I go home and play final fantasy untill I develop autisim and catch myself accidentally 'min-max'ing my onions in Tescos. And so I had completely ignored the brilliant Adult Swim, untill now. The controls for Bible Fight may not be perfect (the buttons have to be depressed seperately to pull off moves - fucking up years of Tekken 5 motor memory training, and since when was block ever down?) but it is literally impossible to dislike a game in which Jessus returns from dying to attone for Adam and Eve's original sin, to knee Eve in the groin. Mmm... Sacralicious.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

And now a short introduction...

I find that my life can be divided into three things: My friends, my career and my girlfriend. Usually when one is going well, the others are in an abysmal mess. Now, you might think this is to do with the fact that in order to focus on one, I must be neglecting the others. not true. The real reason is because something or someone somewhere hates people like you and me and is ruining it for everyone. On purpose.

For example, my girlfriend is currently traveling around Australia, and so SightSpeed, MSN and Skype have all decided that they no longer want to function as they should, or indeed, at all, and quite frankly no matter how many times I read 'I miss you' in an email, or how many times she professes her heartfelt need to 'squish', 'squidge' or 'squoosh' my face, it doesn't seem to get rid of my desire to just see her topless over web cam again. But no joy, every single web cam app ever created by man has failed me.

I will also say as a side note that typing the words 'I love you' into G-Mail four times a day, when you really mean 'why did you think you could go away for months and I wouldn't be annoyed?' does start to grate. Not that I'm bitter about any of it.

Oh and now, this very second, Googlemail's built in chat has also died. wonderful. This is most likely her fault, as watching her try to 'make a computer work' is similar to watching a five-year-old 'bake a cake' by mixing every ingredient it can possibly reach into one, big, hopeless mess.

But enough of my cynicism! You see the reason this has all happened is because my course is actually going quite well. My pitch for a short documentary has just been accepted, and will be shot on 8mm celluloid. We may also be getting a live jazz band to compose original music for it. Mmmm.. Nice.

In any case when it's done I'll be sure to put it up here, along with another short which I'm very excited about. I won't ruin the surprise, but it's heavily inspired by this video (which does get better about half way through):

Also! my Xbox 360 is not 'a big, ugly pc with cut back functionality', and I will be explaining why... right after I get it back from the Microsoft repairs department...

Here comes a new challenger!

My very good old school friend, Ikkakujuu has joined the team. In honour of him, I have posted a video I found on Japanator. The nerd girls here are arguing over the nationality of Black Jack; it reminds me of what used to happen when Ikkakujuu attempted to convince me that the Xbox was anything other than a big, ugly pc with cut-back functionality and a big, ugly controller, the fool. Welcome to the team, Ikkakujuu!

Friday, 20 April 2007

The eternal joys of heaven

"Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think'st thou that I, who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?"

- Christopher Marlowe

In a classic display of damned foolishness I chose the run up period to my university exams to buy a Nintendo DS.

Before I explain what the system is like, a confession; I was a Nintendo turncoat. Throughout the development of home games consoles I have owned nothing but Nintendo consoles. Game and Watch, NES, SuperNES, N64 and every released form of Nintendo Gameboy (except pocket); all have been members of my household. (My little brother did also have a Sega Megadrive once, but that is nothing to be ashamed of.) I also owned a Gamecube, and this was my Mephistopheles. The whispers of the Gamecube led to my fall. That cursed brick was the first from a long line of inspiring consoles that did not feel like a great leap forward.

I still remember my first plays on the SNES. Gone was the tiny, metaphorical representation of the splodges on the NES (which I loved in their time), replaced with the big, colourful cartoon characters of Street Fighter two turbo. I was convinced they looked as good as any cartoon on television, and remember thinking at that young age that there was no where for computer technology to go from there. Through the SNES, I also fell in love with Shiguru Miyamoto’s Mario and Zelda afresh. It was like a girlfriend getting that boob job you secretly wanted her to….

SNES; Boob Job

When I finally scraped my pocket money together for an N64, it came with Pilotwings 64. It was mind blowing. I spent hours veering off from the game tasks to fly free around a beautiful, inexplicably three dimensional fantasy world. Even my grandad was intrigued enough to have a go. The game was poetry. And then I finally (once again) got the opportunity to rediscover Zelda and Mario. They had lost nothing in their move to 3D – it was a meticulous continuation of the worlds I already loved. Maybe like a girlfriend getting fellatio lessons from a prostitute…. I remember my first play of Mario 64 at a friend’s house. I managed to get past a point he was stuck at and dispatched Bowser on my first attempt, causing me to jump around screaming “Don’t be ashamed, I just have the Miyamoto touch!” Those were the days.

N64; fellatio

When the Gamecube finally came into my hands, there had, as yet, been no piece of Nintendo hardware that had failed to bring with it genuine joy and excitement. Naturally, I had complete faith in Nintendo. Now the Gamecube was by no measure a bad piece of kit. The fact is, its greatest failure was that it did not share that ability of its predecessors to inspire awe. We had reached that point in the history of games when people did not really know what to do next, and the presiding attitude was to ‘make the graphics a bit better’. That was all the Gamecube really offered. In what I can only assume was an attempt to avoid repetition, the flagship games of Mario and Zelda (No longer designed by Miyamato) where gimmicky to the point of being unplayable. I had no complaints with the cell-shaded Zelda, but the massive ocean that had to be traversed (and the lack of glorious open fields from the N64) was unforgivable. I hated with a passion Mario’s water cannon, which give him the ability to shoot and fly – both of which utterly undermine Mario’s platforming heart. These were a pair of games showing serious problems with their own identity and, I think, a good indication of Nintendo’s troubled mindset at the time. Much like a girlfriend going mad, and telling you she’s pregnant, just to see your reaction.

Now Nintendo has always been relatively exclusive with game developers. They invented the Nintendo ‘seal of quality’ – a reminder that games would not run on the Nintendo systems unless they had been licensed by Nintendo – a protection against the glut of awful, poorly-programmed third-party games that had drowned other consoles in the past. But from the N64 onwards there had been complaints about the necessary Nintendo development kits being too scarce, and too hard (therefore time consuming and therefore expensive) to use.

For whatever reasons, it seems like Nintendo’s relationship with third party developers deteriorated, and the game cube had very little to offer in the way of games, compared to the playstation two. Now for one of my favourite game stories. Nintendo developed the original playstation with Sony, intending it as an add-on for the Super Nintendo. Eventually Nintendo pulled out of the deal. Sony went on to release the playstation one. Yet it was awful, built in a cruel imitation of Nintendo’s ability to create, it could bring about only twisted pastiches of the real creation. (Now I’m not saying that Nintendo is like god and Sony is like Lucifer but…. )

However, late in the Gamecube’s life, the Gamecube sections in the shops had dwindled to the extent that they looked like Apple Mac games sections. Which is sad indeed. There was nothing to play except for games licensed from the Spiderman film. Wait, what I meant to write was ‘There was nothing to play.’

I was well aware of the facts about playstation. (I’m not saying that playstation IS Satan, I’m just saying I was aware of the facts. Like Faust.) But there was nothing to be done. GC had Sould Callibur, Playstation had Soul Callibur and Tekken. GC had Resident Evil four, Playstation had Resident Evil Four and Forbidden Siren (incidentally one of the best websites I have ever seen). ‘Nuff said. I sold my Gamecube. (I’m not saying that’s like selling my soul. I just sold my Gamecube, alright?!) And I bought a PS2. But now I repent….

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Gangsters and Politicians

There is something intolerably tedious about student politics. When the time comes around for university elections, numerous scruffy, earnest chancers emerge. It is distasteful to watch a set of inexperienced and unqualified fools struggling to interest the tiny proportion of students who vote, armed with nothing but a few vague statements of intent which promise nothing, and a some spectacularly forgettable tag phrase. It all stinks far too much of real politics. And there is no way I’m voting for a white girl with dreadlocks. Ever.

The student common room is hardly crying for more unread, cheaply printed posters in any case. The student’s space at university is a tragic affair, groaning as it is with the colours of multicultural murals and piecemeal furniture. The whole space is made sadder when you stumble across one of the flop-tastic music nights that hobble into the room some evenings. Which is probably why the trying-but-not-quite-cool-bar, clockworks, seemed so fun on Friday night. It also dredged up halcyon memories of the first year of my degree, when going out did not seem like a self-destructive act of rebellion and an insult against the teaching staff, because maintaining a life and a Japanese degree has begun to seem like a Herculean feat.

It was at clockworks that I wore my new waistcoat, only to find my good (and more stylish) friend was wearing one ‘which he had had for ages…’ Well, it’s no real problem for me, as the waistcoat is part of a new image Idea I am trying to put together. It has probably come from the fact that I have been spending a bit of time with various Japanese fashion students, and it has dawned on me that many of the boys, while capable of being incredibly stylish, have a propensity to look slightly sleazy, as if they have just fallen off the back of a Yakuza van into a fashion course… and so I have become interested in the idea.
I found a Dior image that I think expresses the feeling quite well. So I became interested in collecting clothes that have a slightly 'untrustworthy' image. It's difficult, because if you take a step too far, you look like a cheap mobster, which is not ideal. However, I think if you get it just right, you might be tapping into the very nature of male fashion; because men may have a more utilitarian view of fashion, in that they are more pointedly interested in how the opposite sex respond to their clothes. So, if you are willing to embrace the sleaze a little, you might be able to make a comment about how men interact with fashion. Maybe. 今日はそろそろ。

And you may begin...

I once heard it said that it was a particularly male foible to obsess over the fist line of a piece of writing. It is ironic then, that perhaps the most famous of fist-lines in English literature belongs to Jane Austen. The pressure of cutting through the white of silence means we are all wont to disappoint ourselves; our voices all too squeaky and hollow as we write into a void. A novelist has the enviable ability to flit though time; construction a beginning only one an end is comfortably in place, so that an opening line may rest upon what follows it. A diarist has less of the godlike in him, and must be obsequious to the same forward march as his readers. Although, perhaps less god leaves space for more human.
Yet the question resounds, why 'blog'? It seems impossible to call self-publication anything other than supreme arrogance. By bypassing the judgement of publishers, and diminishing the actual necessity of readers and their money, you are bypassing all external judgement and proclaiming your own thought as valuable enough to spew onto a stage straining under the weight of actors, with no quality control. And so here I pledge to offer no guarantee of worth; merely my own curiosity to see whether I can spark interest in others. I also offer no promise of candid honesty, for trifling things like facts and events are merely shackles on truth. A fiction writer collects the flotsam and Jetsam of thoughts in an attempt to uncover the currents that move them, and that is a freedom a should like to have recourse to. Of course, I plan for this to be, in the main, a journal.