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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Peter you lost the news.

We'd like to wish you a very previous happy new year.  Sunday's service will of course be in 2012 and next year we'll be all dead due to doomsday (lol) so without further ado we'll leave you with a few downbeat bits and pieces.

For some unknown reason, we can't have nice things anymore, Adobe won't support Vista 64bit so you won't hear truly excellent radio unless you of course go looking for it.   NHK have stopped their support for NHKWorld SD, which means I'm left rudderless at lunchtime without me daily dose of NHKWorld (it does survive in HD format but my TV is not HD.)  Which leaves you with a quandary, where do you go for gentle news and magazine format TV.  

French news in English from France24 (pronounced Vingt Quatre rather than Twenty Four), isn't half bad, and reminds me a bit of old MTV Europe before it lost its soul somewhere in the late 90's.  Their arts program is run by straight haired Kate Humble lookalike Eve Jackson and is pretty darn good. 

Regular European news is provided by nondescript tv channel Euronews it does the job without being remotely interesting.  Best thing ever was a broadcast of Jean Michel Jarres concert for the wedding of the prince of Monaco.  Worst thing calling Brian May, Brian Man, in a tribute to Freddie Mercury.

Fox news seems to broadcast Fox and Friends First Live, a bizarre mix of robots masquerading as presenters and a right wing bias for each and every story.  I don't care about republicanism or the soulless automatons who present it, so its often switched over in a hurry.

China has two news channels that are bland beyond words, and Russia seems to thrive on something called the Keyser report.  Which leaves Arabic slanted news al Jizzura (Al Jazeera) and the soon to be fucked Press TV which is just weird.  Owned by the Iranian government it adds mainly arab issues such as a march to celebrate Ashoura in London and various other pork barrel issues and relations. By that time i've either finished my lunch or Piers Moron is on CNN which means its time to move on.

We'll leave you with the news that Berkeley University have unearthed some recordings from telephone pioneer, Alexander Graham Bell.  Its most interesting, do have a look dear.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Boxing Day

Last Years Boxing day review em up was actually quite well received so here is the year 2011 in review.

Over the past year we have had arabs springing, tyrants falling like ninepins, the tragedy of the Tohoku region earthquake and related fall out of the Tepco disaster and closer to home, rioting scum.

Today we'll not be talking about any of those things but instead be focusing on music.
Here are the best tunes according to me of 2011.

Best tune delivered by an Alison  Moyet lookalike. 
Adele Someone like you. 
A good tune completely overkilled by relentless play on commercial radio, its still good but horribly horribly familiar.

Best Dubstep / Funky / Wonky or what ever the gangsta kids are calling bass house now.
Katy B Easy Please me.
This isn't bad but to me the whole track is just getting warmed up in my opinion, (we'd dearly love a clean acapella of this to add a massive Juno monster style electro house break to) still hate the whole genre as a whole.

Best attempt at a 1990 style Daisy age rap track.
Olly Murs feat Rizzle Kicks Heart Skips a Beat.
Yes it really does sound like the mutant offspring of Beats Internationals Dub Be Good To Me, and thats all due to Rizzle Kicks old school rapping.  Olly is of course the runner up from TVs popular X factor which means I have officially sold out.

Best YTPMV of the year.
Pinkie Pie Swear Flutterwonder. 
Looks like MLP Friendship is creepy is showing no signs of slowing down, but if we get more stuff like this its not too bad. 

Best track ruined by rapping.
Wretch 32 featuring Josh Kumrah Don't Go.
Seriously cut the rap out of this and add some old house style to this and it'll be pretty boss, Wretch 32 brings fuck all to the table and when he's culled from the track it actually improves.

Best acid track of the year.
Acid Symphony Orchestra Live in concert.
I only saw this on youtube a few days ago but damn, these guys know how to jack a silver box.  Composer is of course Jori Hulkonnen (Zyntherius amongst others) and the line up includes Jesper Dahlbeck and Mr Velcrofastener along with the cream of the Scandinavian techno / electro scene.

Best track by Russell Brands wife
Katy Perry Last Friday Night.
Kind of 80's film homage to this, wouldn't sound out of place in a remake of Ferris Buellers Day out.  She's a geek in this and Rebecca Black is her neighbour and that.  Chorus works better over old disco than the main track.

Best Techno.  
Legowelt  The TEAC Life. 
Autistic techno that sometimes misfires, but when it does hit, damn its like 1987 all over again.  Available for free in file format and in 4x12 at decks.de for the purists out there.  Aww yeah.

Best House.
Myriadd Beyond this life EP.
Dark Larry Heard like reverance here, from the guy who used to be Mantra on Bunker Records.  Your getting some dark old school melodies here and nothing can stand in its way.

Best end of television show montage theme glorifing the third reich.
Saga Snow Fell.
You know that music you get at the end of CSI or the show where the main criminal has been caught and they show a montage of shots.   You know the type, the kidnapped child has been reunited with their concerned parents, the masked rapist has been caught and there is a shot of Delko and Calleigh grinning in the lab.  Its that kind of music that plays, just that it glorifies fallen nazis instead of some random folky guitar thing. 

Finally with all these bests there has to be a worst and these tracks actually fit the bill.

Rebecca Black Friday.  Not as worse as Bieber singing under the mistletoe but its pretty close. 

Cher Lloyd Swagger Jagger.  No mark rapping over the old Huckleberry hound song Clementine as you can imagine its awful.

Maroon 5 Moves Like Jagger. The second stones inflicted horror here, complete with bad rock and Christina Aguilera.  I'd rather move like Crouchy if its all the same.

Little Tits Cannonball.  Girlband made up of remnants from X Factor that went on to win XFactor and makes my ears bleed.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas

We'll be adding a couple of things here over the next few days, just think of them as the sixpence in your christmas pudding and that but as a placeholder, we'll add have a happy christmas and leave you with a few talks from the excellent Applemasks youtube channel

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Few PSP Updates

An update regarding the PSP, Sony's handheld version of the Sega Saturn (of course not, but that is how its ended up).  We have a few new games to review and poke over we're not sure what we reviewed last time but a kick up the archives will tell us.  We also have new Custom Firmware added so all the analogue stick problems have been abolished.  We use Godman Firmware, and XMB Center which is pretty neat and though you may have your own favourite firmware to use. 

Review wise we'll start off with:

Castlevania: The Dracula X chronicles.

A 2.5D remake of Chi No Rondo for the PC Engine CD and a few unlockables such as the original PC Engine game and Castlevania Symphony of the night.  Rondo of Blood is something you'll be playing a lot of, its the default game and as such its probably the most unfamiliar of the lot.  Its a fairly straightforward pre Metroidvania Platformer, think Super Castlevania with bells on and a few branching paths, taking the merman path on stage 2 will net you Maria if you grab the key as well, and somewhere in stage 3 will unlock Symphony of the night.    Its also old school hard, you'll need your wits about you as your energy will be depleted in no time flat.

Symphony of the night is the least messed with, it has the intro changed, no longer will Dracula say "miserable little pile of secrets" or "HEWmans wish to pay me Tribute".  From the cursory glance, its not bad, though we totally beat it back in the day.
7/10

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.

This is one of my favouite games of all time, I ended up spending £50 on this back around 2000, (we originally came across it as a pirate and when we found it for sale we just had to get it officially).  The PSP version cost me £6, preowned, and is for all intents and purposes the same as the PS1 original, except the anime cut scenes are now fully rendered in 3D.  I kinda miss the artwork and that, but they kept the voices intact, so you get Megan Hollingshead as the lovely lady Valkyrie, and Veronica Taylor as Freya and the Ash Ketchumish Fuyuki the Fisherboy ;0).

Its a non standardish RPG, you get a set amount of time to explore and collect the souls of the slain, there are a few dungeons to explore and bosses to encounter, but it plays more like a platformer with Lenneths ability to shoot ice crystals and jump.  Combat is realised through turn based beat em up action, you can chain a few combos and block and counter.  Its pretty good with for once a strong female lead and a nicely written script.  If you find it for sale then please get it.
9/10

Sunday, 11 December 2011

UK Championship Snooker.

You were supposed to get an update to Let My Body Exceed Me but both the camera and scanner let us down.  We have a picture but its massive and in PiNGas format, so we won't bother uploading it. 

Thanks to flash being a cunt and not allowing the IFM player on 64bit Vista (yeah we run that so deal with it) you probably won't get inspiring radio from the guys at Intergalactic.fm.  So I'll just have to hot link to IFM directly.

Oh and Freecorder seems to be working with Firefox.  Applians Borderline spyware audio recording toolbar has been a mainstay on my desktop for a while now.  Thanks to my onboard soundcard not letting us do anything but play sounds (really its a challenge to configure music programs, Renoise won't acknowledge our VSTs and its only free stuff like Aodix or tempremental stuff like Psycle that will give us the full DAW experience).

Here are a few tips if you're running freecorder.

Uninstall the Conduit engine, really who wants an app store with a sound recorder, and its works fine without it.

Get rid of the search bar from Firefox toolbars, and scale back in the toolbar options what it displays and has out, oh it'll also grab videos from most places so click the film strip now and again and prune all you don't need from there.

Snooker.
So, the Championships then, not only has it thrown up some good matches and fully showcasing some new talent, but this years looks like to be one of  the oddest yet.  Not only has it thrown up the first black snooker player I've seen, its also seen a lot of the top seeds go out leaving Mark Allen to fight it out with up and coming star Judd Trump for the winners spot. 

Mark came through to the final beating Ricky Walden 9-7 (despite never making it past Semi final in a major tournament before) quite convincingly seeing as he was down 5-3 at one point .

As well as having no real seeds in the main final, its also the first Championship final between two left handed players.  At the moment we haven't a clue what the score is but we will be watching the evening session to see who eventually wins.

2015 Edit.
Massively delayed, but well done to Rory McLeod for winning the Ruhr Open.  I know its a minor title but its his biggest win to date, so once again well done fella.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

More race based tat.

I don't enjoy this political stuff much. I'm on the wrong side of the left wing (weakly right wing and life long Lib Dem supporter) and the wrong colour for starters for us to comment without someone screaming that I'm just a  prejudiced cracker, who knows nothing. Here are a few updates and a comment.

An update to Demographics and Stephen Lawrence.

Been watching the Lawrence cold case inquiry with interest, and it seems from reports that from errors of storage that they actually had the equivalent of the Keystone Cops for forensic examination and storage.  I can see this going to end up with an unsatisfactory result, either acquittal or a short jail term for those involved. 

What I failed to mention from that report is that the extent of black on black homicides have risen in my area to more than the Boneheaded Nazi Ponces at the BNP ever achieved.  Its something I would need to research more to get exact figures but for starters here is just one such case, (warning illiterate Daily Mirror link).  As a my only commenter added, its hardly an improvement, and its true.  Gang culture and the riots have really hampered my areas chances of improvement (to be honest Woolwich was in decline long, long before this, due to the closure of the arsenal).  We're getting there with Beresford Square opening and a few shops recovering, but I look around and still see areas burnt out from the riots, clearly we have a long way to go.

Snookers back, and for once its quite interesting, there's a black guy playing and he isn't half bad.  He's called Rory Mcleod and I thought he was a new face on the scene, but it turns out he's been playing since 2005 (he beat Paul Hunter shortly before he tragically died of cancer). 

Sorry for my shock and incredulity in the above, but despite there being no barriers now, sometimes you see something you don't expect and it throws you for a loop.  Like an Indian playing top flight football in Premiership or a white working class lad reading Proust on a train (that'll never happen).  Sadly looking online it seems that he got knocked out by John Higgins (last I saw he was leading 4-3) but once they are good enough to appear in the televised stages, you normally see a lot more of them. 

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Round Pup

We'll not lie to you its been a crap old week. Various stuff has taken its toll including my first copyright strike on Youtube and various stuff with relatives which although I won't talk about, will say isn't great.

On the plus side I managed to find something which I've been looking for for ages.  A parody of Walk Like an Egyptian by The Swinging Erudites called simply Walk With An Erection.  I am easily pleased and to be honest, am expecting this to suck balls.  I saw this at a bootsale about 10 years back along with some other stuff (someones Neo Geo Rom collection plus Neo Rage to play on my then wreck of a PC).

Copyright cunts again.

To be fair its full title would be retroactive copyright cunts.  Two claims including All4Media and Orchard Music have filed copyright claims and that tipped it onto my first copyright strike.  For further info it takes about 10 copyright claims to gain your first strike.  This involves filling in a damn fool questionnaire and watching a copyright is wrong message which I think involves the happy tree friends.  We also had a video removed which, we would have done anyway.  (We went too far TBH, never mix clips of TOWIE  with home made porn music).  Incidentally we own the copyright to the music so we uploaded a dub version with home made artwork.

Orchard music are representatives for Jappo and Lancinghouse and I suspect a lot of the other ID&T artists,
yeah I was surprised to see that as well.

Hing Hon Soundfont.
Hing Hon in the front, cat not included.

This is sampled from an especially cheap and nasty synth that you got with certain mail order catalogues, and quite possibly market stalls and boot sales.  It contains 8 instruments and 3 drum samples, and crucially for us a headphone port so we can sample the sounds.  We may improve this with better samples of the main instruments so I'll not be uploading it just yet.  We'll take samples of some of the soft bends you get, there's more details here for those interested, but for the impatient, you can trigger some crazy sounds by holding down two of the instrument keys, and playing the normal keys.  Organ and music box is quite nice if I remember correctly.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Horrible answers to difficult questions.

Instead of the usual round up of stuff.  We have a variety of statements to ask (directed at noone in particular).
They are often unpalatable questions mainly about religion but one is cultural and regards demographics in my local area. We'll split them over a couple of posts so you don't get bogged down.

 I hope you don't take offence but in case your all fired up to take offence, take a look at this video first and then come back with an open mind.

Question 1.
If Stephen Lawrence lived and died in the same circumstances today, due to demographics, he would be more likely to die in black on black related crime than as a result of a racist attack.

There is a current, ongoing court case, based on new DNA evidence found through new sequencing techniques, which means that this is headline news again.  I can't point fingers or accuse but what  I will say is this, in true CSI style we will let the evidence decide if they are guilty or not and leave it to the lawyers to bicker over whether its legitimate transfer evidence or contaminated in storage. 

For those uninitiated with the incident, the original crime took place in Well Hall in 1993, and was a totally unprovoked racially motivated crime.  Stephen was stabbed twice with a 12" knife, and despite there being several eyewitnesses, the case collapsed and the main suspects were acquitted.  The Daily Mail calling the main suspects murderers and threatened them to sue for defamation.  There is a plaque set in the ground to commemorate where he eventually collapsed and died. It is under video surveillance and woe betide anyone who messes with it.

Fast forward 18 years and a lot has changed.  For once the BNP isn't as strong as it was here, thanks mainly to the closure of the BNPs bookshop in Upper Wickham Lane.  I've blogged about this before, but mainly it wasn't a landmark to the right for local folk, just a squalid little house with blue shutters that took up space that could be used for regular housing or retail.  I'm not sure how or indeed why it was closed in the end, I have memories of seeing a news report that it was structually unsound and had to close, but that could be just a bad memory.  Anyway in the prevailing 18 years our demographics have changed completely. 

When I was little, there was precious few non white people here, and those that were were almost exclusively asians.  There was a largeish community of  Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis something that wouldn't change to about mid 2000's, and only a few folk from the Afro Caribbean community.  To be honest, Stephen Lawrences murder wasn't the only racially motivated killing in our area.  There was also Rolan Adams* and Rohit Duggall, but these have been largely forgotten about and are never mentioned, ever.

In about 2004 - 2005 we started seeing more Africans appear along with Eastern Europeans.  Lewisham always used to be the place where there was a large Afro Caribbean stronghold and over time they moved into the surrounding suburbs especially Thamesmead and Plumstead.  We also, due to this change in demographics, got a lot more black on black crime, with a few kids murdered in gang related crime.  There are probably still some racists here, you'll never totally eradicate that sort of mindset, but they are definitely less of them around.  As an example, most of the places I new as a kid including the Coronet Cinema in Woolwich, are now Evangelist churches, which shows how much the population has changed over time.

So in short, due to population changes, Stephen Lawrence would, if he was a teenager today, be more at risk from black on black violence than racist attacks.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Round Up time again

I'll not lie to you this post is largely updates from hell, and a bit on Children in Need.  At least my chest infection is finally beaten, Yay.


Looking through old gaming magazines we found an ad for a game shop in  Trading World. This is about the first confirmation in print that I've seen stuff from Trading world.

Now this is odd, I can't actually remember blogging about this, though I must have done so here is a recap for those who missed out.  For the uninitiated, Trading world was in the early to mid nineties, a small market stall place that dealt with all sorts of places.  There was a few game stalls that dealt with either computer stuff (we saw the Amiga Version of Giana Sisters running here) and possibly the place above that dealt with console stuff.  They had a few TVs running stuff, mainly Cyberlip for Neo-Geo and Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts.  They really did only have a small stall but was packed with goodies.  Actually they had Marchen Maze running so its probably a part of  that entry.   After a while Trading World closed and became a Primark.

(We were right, looking through this, its part of the Marchen Maze Entry.  Oh as an added bonus they used to have NES games in a little wooden cabinet at the back too, they had Legend of Zelda in its Golden box). 

No need for Children in Need.

This is largely horrible, but we have a telethon here called Children in Need.  If you wonder why we have such venom about helping hapless kiddies its because its trailed for over a month before hand gathering steam before it kills all before it.  The whole non optional you must donate, rather than leave it up to you, rankles with me especially.  I have no interest in helping kiddies or donating to a charity that I have no interest in, and when  that is trailed endlessly or invade other programmes to ask celebrities to donate, well thats just evil.

For instance Terry Wogans show has a lot of middle class folk paying out a lot of cash for pointless bollocks, such as a trip to Downton Abbey or to live inside a shoebox.  These are not small sums either but £8-10 grand, just to simply to say we've done that and get one over your neighbours.  In fact you could level this at comic relief too, that goes on too long as well.   On the night it'll be hideous shit like the cast of  Eastenders doing minstrel songs or Newsreaders pretending to be Lady Gaga.  Sorry thats not entertainment that just makes my skin crawl.

I'm not some tight assed git who doesn't donate, if it involves puppies or kittens I'm liable to punt 10p toward them.  I buy music and books in charity shops, and spend my £15 annually to the BCSS and more for their seed list.  Its just that I despise the constant hard sell the BBC does, month long juggernauts of advertising, earn your spots, I'd rather it earned them a kick up the arse.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Pins and Arcades

Hello we are still coughing up our brains, this chest infection is tenacious and yes we are on antibiotics for our sins, 4 pills a day, you can read up on what I'm on here for the terminally curious.  Oh and reading its list of stuff to cure, its also used in clearing up Syphillis.

Special When Lit.

For some reason we now get PBS in the UK, (why its only Americas answer to BBC2 / 4 stuff we already have).  However looking at this we do appreciate a decent channel for documentaries, Discovery and its many offspring don't really cut it now, maybe they should go back to showing Beyond 2000, instead of infesting a good documentary with awkward cut scenes.  Oh and Neo Geo-graphic is no better with its infinite shows about Jesus.  Apparently Jesus was a Raisin and that is that.

Anyway PBS not only get away with it by being Americas BBC4, but by showing a show on Bonfire night of all things a documentary about Pinball.  You wouldn't think it fun but the assorted collectors, players and designers anectdotes and recollections made the show.  I never knew that most of the first print run of pinball cabs were shipped to Europe due to sheer demand.  I only remember seeing one original cab and I think it was a Monte Carlo in a bar in Cyprus of all places, so can well imagine that.  They interviewed a total pinball nut, whose house was totally dedicated to pinball, he looked like a geek version of Chong but was totally awesome.

It was'nt all pinfans, they took a good look round Sterns factory in Chicago (home of Pinball and house music) where they were hand assembling Pirates of the Caribbean tables and possibly the one pin that got me more into pinball in a big way.   (Not so much that I'll have a real cab, but if I see a real life cab abroad or home I'll punt cash into it.)  Their boss is pretty much what I expected a real boss to be and seems a joy to work for.

A few of the old designers looked like they were originally mob related including one that looked just like a Vic Reeves drawing of a gangster. They were bemoaning Pinballs demise in relation to the rise of the arcade game.
Apposite really as both are doomed now, to big ride style games and the occasional cab harking back to the good old days.  Pinball and the arcades are doomed, we've blogged before on losing the Troc and Various arcade games down at the Leisure Casino or Casino Leisure.  To be honest we've lost an awful lot of places and not just pinball which was tied into pub culture here, (my first go was some dudes replay from the Sublime Addams Family pinball in a pub about 18 years back).

When I think of the arcades in and around Woolwich, Herbert road had a few for us Poly boys out on lunch (bastard hard to do now they've shut the old school and moved to Thamesmead about 2 miles away). For lower school kids (our school was split into two sites) there was an excellent place opposite the Waterfront that had excellent stuff.  A fishing Pinball and a sit down Chase HQ greeted you.  When you got inside there was Megablast, a Galaxy force cab and a Buggy Boy, further down was the main draw before Streetfighter 2 came on the scene,  Golden Axe and yes people really used to talk about playing on it before Streetfighter crushed all before it.  They had a Vimana and an Exvania cab too but no one ever talked about playing those.
 Later when we used the Waterfront leisure centre for games, me and a mate used to pony up lunch money to play King Of Dragons.  Like I said it was halcyon days and if you wished to emulate then MAME, RAINE, or FBA would be an excellent starting place if only to see what we have lost.  Pinball is well supplied in Visual PinMame a mix of Editor and Emulator, so noone has an excuse to miss out on our golden years.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Champions

I'm still coughing my lungs up but hopefully, its on remission.  We've, got a new drink, a tradtional English drink, for when you are sick.  Its called Lucozade and maybe marketed as sports / energy drink, was for a long time delivered glucose energy to the poorly, hence me grabbing a bottle.  No glass bottle this time, its fully plastic and as its a limited edition is a cola.  For Americans or just damn lucky Brits, it tastes a lot like Jones Cola, which is a cane sugar coke which is wonderful.  As its Lucozade its a lot easier to get than Jones Soda here so if you come across it and are in need of energy don't hesitate to buy.

Captain Tsubasa

For some of you this will be familiar to you, but just goes to show how the UK missed out especially in the mid 90's.  The original game was done by Tecmo and was sort of a football game which takes place entirely in box out shots describing the action.  The game came across to Europe but I don't remember seeing it on the shelves.  Most NES football games are of course completely evil and shouldn't be touched with a bargepole.
Unless is Technos Nintendo World cup, which is still shit but allows complete carnage.

In fact this was a long running franchise that included Manga and Anime.  The Anime was localised for Europe under the name Campeones and had a big following worldwide.  There is a link to a version in English called Flash Kicker, but just leads to dead ends and clearly non English versions.

This is the best we can do, English subs that you can imagine sung by the players of the day, Maybe even Glenn Hoddle.

Flash Kickers licence was owned by Enoki Films, they seem to have a long list of obscure Anime, like Inspector Fabre, based on the Entomologist of the same name and got a total WTF when I saw it on Spanish Kids TV.  They also hold most if not all the Captain Tsubasa licenses which they license to  Mainland Europe.    England loves its football and when they came out in the late 80's noone knew what Manga was save for Robotech and Lensman on Premiere (later Sky Movies).  Mainstream was a bust, Channel 4 showed only the violent stuff at Midnight, and Sci Fi Showed some tamer stuff, If you consider Mangas Sweary version of Appleseed, orHell City Shinjuku Tame.  Sky one or Nick would have been your only home for kids manga.  With Foxs Peter Pan and Tokusatsu shows like the Power Rangers.  Nick had the updated version of Speed Racer which came to the BBC. 

Flash Kicker would have certainly have entertained English kids.  Most of us grew up playing football with jumpers for goalposts in a local green space.  I've yet to see kids do that now, but 80's kids were different.
Depending on the dub, whether American or English (likely in the early days, but not now), I'm sure it would have taken off either as Flash Kicker or simply renamed as Champs, it would only take a forward looking BBC or ITV to add it to their afternoon schedules, maybe even have Andy Crane Introduce it.

But it didn't happen, it simply rattles around the continent in various dubs, ITV did actually licence a football Cartoon, but its only the barely remembered Hurricanes.

Lately there is Inazuma Eleven by Layton Creators Level 5, but its dubbed by yanks (who know nothing of real football) with various Japanese names left in.  What I saw was a keeper use a punch shot which he called a Fire punch,  which was subbed as Fire Kobushi, an entirely unnecessary elaboration.

One of these days they'll show Champions dubbed, but I'm getting its a long day in hell.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Dreams of Trevor Chester and worse.

My whole body system is down with a tenacious flu virus at present, so am typing this Ted style with a blanket over my head.
I.e. ultra conservative Muslims

The bastard made itself known on Tuesday, coming in from work all I could do was sleep, we had a prior engagement (an eyetest which resulted in some handsome new glasses),  and for the next 3 days it pitched between being zombie style lucid and trying to sleep.

Its not cheese that gives you nightmares its flu.  First I kept generating L shaped tetris blocks whenever I coughed, and if you cough a lot believe me they build up.  The next night was the  complete opposite, the golden age of rave with full on psychedelia at a breakneck pace.  We tried our best to work with this and would have made an absolute blinding video back in the day.   The third day was more sinister dealing with being accused in dream of being a paedo, (I'm not, but see those afflicted as having a type of psychosexual compulsion).  Oh and you are only a paedo if the child you fiddle diddle is under 13, you are thanks to Wikipaedia, known as an ephebephiliac which means lover of the young.  My dreams are lucid and we decided we'll pray to the God who'll help.  See above, yeah we even renamed the evil accuser as Death Adder.
Wheres yer child?


 Its sort of normalling down now, so this sort of shit should become a thing of the past soon.

But now I'm fired up and we'll might as well as give you a proper post on who Trevor Chester was.

Trevors
 
There was a proper kids entertainer called Charlie Chester and while not on television in the mid 80s to 90s, was probably known about through kids parents and grandparents. Its an obvious rhyme to child molester, see above, the sort of dodgy Trevor who tried to show kids puppies and give car lifts that we were warned about.  

Trevor is possibly a corruption or mishearing of this and spread through our playground, 4chan had Pedobear lifted from 2chan, we had a corrupted Charlie Chester.  Peace and indeed out.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ambient track is best relaxing track ever.

In other news bears shit in woods and the Pope is confirmed to be a Catholic after serious doubts.

To be fair we havent heard of Marconi Union before and if it wasn't for this spurious top ten for Radox Shower gel then I probably wouldn't have either, to put you out of your misery the track can be listened to here.  If you are wondering about the rest of the list if its made out of  Oophoi or Lustmord tracks then you're SOL.  Though Adele Someone like you is there which is intriguing as its in the running for my favourite track of the year.

Something else that is entirely relaxing, and we've fully romanized the title for this, was the Mystery Playstation game for our Yokai game round up.  It is Ore no Shikabane o Koete Yuke, and yeah thanks to my shit Japanese we had to fix up our translation in JDICT so we could google it.  It looks really nice and has a relaxing theme song.  If you speak Japanese and or just dig a nice acapella the homepage is here.    Made by Alfa System who if memory serves correct did the excellent Shikigami no Shiro series of shmups for Naomi hardware and PS2 (we have a Pal localisation courtesy of Play it under the name Castle Shikigami 2).

Translated loosely as something like And My Corpse Transcends Me, its a mix of RPG and Sim where you are cursed by a Demon and all your resultant offspring have really short lives, you have to manage them to try and break the demons curse. You can download the original Playstation version here, where we culled most of the info from.   Looks pretty good as far as yokai games go, but a word of warning it was never localised so you'll need pretty hefty Japanese skills to get anything out of this.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Rainbow Islands NES Variations

We were largely ignorant of this in general but there are three different versions of Rainbow Islands for the NES.  We were largely intrigued by an entry in Mean Machines as a child, they had ads that would sell NES but more likely SNES stuff mail order.  Rainbow Islands, on the NES its gonna be awesome right and we had a converted NES it'll be a no brainer too, sadly my dad shot it down no way was I gonna spend my cash on something that may or may not work.   Still the point was moot, a few months later and Ocean announced that they had ported it over to the European market and I didn't have to bother importing.

Mean Machines gave it a lack luster 67% and we managed to pick it up reasonably cheaply so it wasn't so bad.  We even with some continue bug managed to beat it back in the day and that was it.   So it was much to our surprise that looking in Stuart Campbells excellent column on Bubble Bobble that we found out that our version of Rainbow Islands was so very different to everyone elses.

Nice Looking: Horribly Executed
For starters we'll deal with both the NES and Famicom versions in one Potted entry, as apart from the US version not having the proper Somewhere Over The Rainbow theme and English Localisation they are entirely identical.  They seem to have been done in conjunction with Disco who were responsible for Panic Restauarant / A Crafty Chef in Gourmet World amongst others.

Imagine if you will someone suffered amnesia whilst playing Rainbow Islands and at a later date when waking up in hospital, had brief flashbacks to Rainbow islands: that it was some sort of cutesy platformer and it involved collecting jewels of some sort and there were 7 or so islands but apart from that its all a blur.

THIS IS WHAT THE AMERICAN & JAPANESE VERSIONS PLAY LIKE.  It looks nice and the items you pick up are of a decent size, but everything else sucks balls.  For starters the main level structure has been totally obliterated.  Gone are the arcade layouts which even the lowly ZX Spectrum and C64 managed to keep (along with multiload to contain all the world data) and even worse added flick screen scrolling so it doesn't even act like the original.   They still have all the levels... just. Added in this version is a world based on Ki Ki Kai Kai possibly at the expense of toy world (we haven't got that far yet).  The worst of the worst comes in the Boss levels that seemingly now sprout a Megaman style power bar not seen in any other 8bit version.

One major plus point is that the boss sprites are surprisingly huge, and you can talk to various people at the end when you defeat it.  The only way to see your score is on the main level stage screen and  Rainbow gems show up but only as the word rainbow and looks ultimately perfunctory and naff.   Overall we give you a 4/10.
Generic Platformer Masquerading as Rainbow islands.

Edit the boss creatures are named the helicoper is called Super Helibow.

Oceans Rainbow Islands.

This is the version we did get as a kid as well as the much cheaper C64 version. From the off you could see that Ocean actually put in some severe effort to port this.  There are no vague notions to the arcade levels here.  All the enemies are present and correct here as are the correct layouts.  Theres no flick screen scroll as it has proper scrolling.  There is still no Somewhere over the Rainbow Theme, however the tune they did use is quite nice, level end themes and boss themes are intact.  My only gripe is that the gems you collect as well as the bonus items are too small,  at least you get to fire three rainbows here unlike the US versions paltry 2.   Best of all boss screens get their proper layout with the correct lifebar and a back ground too.  There is a secret room too, no talking to Bob here for items, collecting gems in order will make it appear in the boss room.

Finally it can be a git to get working on real hardware, lots of blowing is required for all Ocean games, however if your emulating its no problem.
Overall A great effort 7/10.

YOKAI Watch.

We still can't remember for the life of us a PSP port of an old PS1 Sengoku era Role player.   And we forgot to add Fatal Frame, a photo based survival horror totally consistent with the vengeful ghost lore of last weeks yokai Review.  We'll just dump this video here of Yokai Watch a new franchise from Professor Layton and the no chance of a new Dark Chronicle, publisher Level 5.  Its last weeks mega review in a nutshell.

Edit We have found the mystery game in an copy of Famitsu and will try and romanize it.  In the meantime have this

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia

We are finally back online due to extreme downtime and of course Virginmedia being can'ts as usual.  The upshot of this is we have a sparkling new review for you. 

Thanks to SpAmazon we have a pandora battery to resurrect our PSP and a few new games to play on it.
This being Prinny Can I really be the Hero (Dood), Metal Slug Anniversary Comp and Valkyrie Profile Lenneth.  Finally we have a big old book of monsters from CFZ press called the Great Yokai Encyclopaedia.

If you're sitting comfortably we'll be gin (groan ED).

The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia.

A massive manual of mythical monsters that appear in Japanese myth and legend.  Comprising the familiar (Tengu, Kitsune, Kappa and Tanuki) with many that aren't (Ippon Datara a one legged blacksmith monster local to Mount Kumano area, and Tsuchigumo a massive earth spider.)
Sekiens Night parade of 100 demons.

They are generally well written articles for those well known monsters, including about 8 pages on Kitsune alone, however some of the least known only get a few lines or just one line.  I've yet to fully look into whether they have much more info in Japanese, but its a little offputting to see.  Much worse is the inconsistent texts, sometimes its bad romanization of Japanese names (we are fans of Macrons here rather than doubling up letters), though its often spelling mistakes and spellchecking as this example proves.  I don't think the Buddha quelled a giant dessert in Mongolia but gee thats a great image, and possibly the greatest misprint i've seen. 

As an anime nut I would have loved manga style artwork for these entries, but the art (and artist) they are using is good and reminds me of the old D+D Monster Manual stuff.  Some of the scanned artwork from various sources is rather pixelly, however its always good to see old woodblock printed stuff.

The beginning has a massive section dealing with the various media that Yokai have appeared in including a look at Kaiju movies and Hideo Nakata's Ring Series.  I never knew that Raichu was a direct take off of the thunder beast Raiju, though they are right in saying that Pokemon has a massive amount of mythical beasts in it and would take a book pointing them out.  Sadly they never talk about video games and yokai in that context ever again, which we'll certainly do after this review. 

All in all the book is a good read and while much more ruthless proofreading is required of it, is certainly worth the £14 they are asking for on the Center for Fortean Zoology website.  Anyway where else can you find a parasitic Yokai that cause you to crave acidic food and live in your spleen. 
7/10

The Not So Great Yokai Videogame Appendix.

Like I outlined above, there are plenty of games that let you experience the yokai at first hand.  Its not just Pocket Monsters, where you can find yokai to play with, I'll outline some of the best Yokai experiences below with my top 5 Video Game Night Parade.

5: Pocky and Rocky Series (Ki Ki Kai Kai)

A series of games that pit you as a Miko (Shrine Maiden) called Sayo Chan and her Racoon buddy Manuke.  Seemingly a vertical scrolling shooter from Taito this game is not only rock hard but stuffed full of yokai.  From the lantern ghosts that swirl round as cannon fodder to the massive showdowns with 9 tailed foxes, this is one of the best old school shmups featuring Yokai.  The original is available on the Tatio Memories 2 compilation for XBOX, PC and PS2.  You'll need an emulator to get the original SNES games to play, but its worth it.  More Info here.

4: Ganbare Goemon Series

A series of games that were never really translated here, only the N64 games and a SNES game ever made it out of Japan, however what did come out I can heartily reccommend.   Based on the story of Ishikawa Goemon the Japanese Robin Hood, it stars Goemon, his hapless pal Ebisumaru and (in later games Ninjas Yae and Sasuke).  Though obviously a comedy platformer, there are strong yokai themes in this one, including a village haunted by various obake and walking umbrellas, and Tanuki that is used as a save point.
You'll need an emulator to play both SNES and N64 games but its worth it.

3: Otogi.

This is a really obscure game released by From software for the Original XBOX only.  You take the place of Raiko, a samurai assassin that was killed off and back to life to unleash vengence on demons.  It had pretty good graphics and allowed you to wreak havoc on all sorts of demonic beings and mythical beings.
There is a walkthrough on youtube but its best watched on mute.

2: Shin Megami Tensei Series.

A vast series of games that revolve around you recruiting demons in some fashion.  This sounds like a horrible paraphrase to the series but let it be said if you love both role playing games and Mythology then the Megaten series is the best.  We would reccommend getting either of the later Persona games for PS2 or the remakes for PSP, for a more Modern day Japanese experience horror experience especially Persona 4 with its Ringesque investigation into a serial murder case in Inaba town.  Theres still folklore and stuff but its more up to date and current as well.

1. Okami and Okamiden

The best Yokai game and another sprawling adventure game.  You play as the incarnation of the goddess Amaterasu, reincarnted as a white wolf (providing a lovely double pun, Okami being wolf in Japanese and an honorable way of speaking of the gods), its loosely set in Sengoku era Japan (1500 ish) and has a massive array of yokai and characters from  myth.  The follow up Okamiden sees you as a puppy incarnation of Amaterasu and has even more yokai fun.  You want Sugawara and Daidarabotchan (incarnated as a giant rabbit robot owned by the moon tribe) you got it.  Evil cartwheels that roam around, oh yes, they even have Namahage as well in case you think they are being lazy.  Best of all its still available for both Wii, DS and PS2 though Okamiden is DS only. 

Conclusion.  We omitted some of the Japanese only stuff including a whole series on GeGeGe no Kitaro that would never be translated officially in a million years, and a bizarre PS1 RPG thats getting a PSP Remake, that'll never be released in a million years in the west.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

LunarCy


Lunar Pool.
Well well well, that didn't take long to break, not only did my PSP die on my thanks to custom firmware gone badly wrong, but we also shorted the battery out while trying a hard mod.  Pro tip when they say a battery can't be punctured or disassembled they mean it.  We got a small spark and smoke (that smelled faintly of liquorice) that poured out of the side of the casing.  On the other hand seeing as we have a 1000 model, getting a battery shouldn't too expensive.

My PSP woes are of course not what this is about, what we really want to write about is Lunar Pool or Lunar Ball for Famicom fans.   Or rather, is Perfect Billiard its arcade only offspring of Lunar Pool.?

The game itself is a weird take on Pool, Tables start off looking normal and from round 3 onward evolve into something like crazy golf, with increasingly weird table layouts and pocket placements.   Unlike regular pool there is no draw, side or screw shots, just a varying power bar and the overwhelming reliance on using this to move around the table.   Further weirdness comes in that you are allowed to miss twice before a ball is taken from you, (of course a scratch or in off counts normally) so you could simply miss on purpose to set up a shot so you can sink it on the next hit.  The game ends when you run out of balls.

Lunar Ball
Coming ridiculously late to our shores, though Gamefaqs has it as 1987 it was more like 1990 that I saw it in Dixons along with Noahs Ark an odd Konami Platformer that I may write on later.   I only really discovered it through emulation, and thats where my reaserch starts and ends.  I always thought it an anomaly, the only halfway decent game put out by Pony Canyon* (no Ultima doesn't count as that was originally by Origin) untill I started to look for something entirely unrelated (Real Break Academy  actually, an arcade pool game that mixes engrish, bad voice acting and mild lewdness in one easygoing package).  Downloading the orignal Japanese version we discovered that it was designed by Compile and released under the Pony Canyon name.  (Incidentally that Niitani you see as director, is Moo Niitani, Compiles boss, and director of Puyo Puyo, Zanac and many more classic arcade games.) Incidentally the credit removal is the only change so far we've found between the Famicom / NES version.

Two more bizarre offshoots of this is that compile made an MSX version on Cart.  Its still the same game but looks like its running on a C64 and the level layout is different too.  Gone are the faux bas relief style tables and in comes normalish looking tables, though with wacky layouts still.   It seems to have been designed by Shintani  only and isn't too bad for an early 85 computer game, put it this way it, was up against Steve Davis Snooker for British Micros like the C64 and spectrum, and would have easily held its own if released on them.   Finally we found out through related videos to Real Break Academy that there is a bizarre looking off shoot of the series called Perfect Billiard.

An obscure arcade game from Nihon Systems that seems to be their only game released. 
We did a double take when we saw Youtube clips of it up and running, it is essentially the same game as Lunar Pool but it now looks like its running on an Amiga.  They have a few new rules too, you can't take too long when taking a shot as it will cause you to lose a ball.  I think they have dropped the miss rule mechanic too (we haven't played it much), however the main change is that they have changed your cue ball.  Whereas in the original it was greyish, its now bright red and looks like you are smashing round a red from your snooker set.  Its still an okayish game, but the changes make it rather odd.  The main music has been changed for the worse and there is a nifty hiscore screen complete with groovy music too.  

All in all thats where it ends, apart from a wiiware emu release, theres no stunning HD remake or even a brief update for iPhone or XBLA.  In fact Compile are themselves defunct and are part of the mighty budget game empire of D4 enterprises (home of the Simple 1500 series) could (but won't) see it released along with other Compile IP on a compilation disc if we are lucky.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

PS Polar Explorers

We are on a full time mission here, not just to the north Pole, but to a much more stranger place.  The destinaton, the uncharted regions of PSP Homebrew, oh and a fuller round up of PSP Games we now own.

PSP Games received.

Thanks to the major retailers clearing their decks of PSP games there is quite a lot of bargains to be had relating to PSP Stuff.  There is precious little shovelware to wade through too which is a boon as the games themselves (including Betamax films Sorry UMD Films) will only be limited to  a small shelf at best. 

So far our list of PSP Games are limited to these three beauties.

Powerstone
Half Minute Hero
Valkyria Chronicles 2

Powerstone Capcom
These Two Fokkers came up behind me. (C) S Boardman 1973


A port of the two Dreamcast arena fighters, and to be honest I'm lame at them both.  We played Powerstone 2
on DC back in the day and it was awesome, but for some reason the Powerstone series doesn't get a lot of lovin' by Capcom (A fate it shares with the Breath Of Fire series).   Any of the characters would be a welcome addition to the Marvel VS Capcom register (we personally want Fokker and his biplane in as well as either Fou Lu or Deis from Breath Of Fire), the game is a whole load of fun for the 20 or so minutes I've played of it, however there is a big but and its not game related.  The downside is this, my PSPs Dpad and sticks with some titles act like a man possessed moving around menus uncontrollably and controlling things I don't want controlled, its not game breaking here (Hello Valkyria) but its fucking annoying.

Oh before we forget, you can play the original VMU titles that came with the DC Memory stick as bonus games, you only get Fokkers Flying 'Shmup' at present but its a fun Game and Watch Style distraction.

No Score (what do you expect for 20min we aren't Official PSP Magazine)

Half Minute Hero Marvellous Entertainment/ Rising Star
The Princess Gawd Bless her.

This was Preowned and for what I payed (£6.98) is my PSPick of the three.

Its a top down RPG that plays like an old Megadrive RPG on steriods.  Your premise, to stop a wizard reciting a spell that destroys the world, the downside, you got 30 seconds to stop him.  In fact so crazy is this you'll probably see the end credit screen after 5 minutes.  Its not that its brief, its just that its played at warp speed and the credits roll after the first world is cleared.  You can still buy armour and items to equip or use like a regular RPG but everything is played at breakneck pace.  All the battles are automatic and feature your usual assortment of JRPG weirdos.  All the cutscenes are brief, unanimated, unvoiced and have blocky sprites, if it wasn't for the fact this is a PSP game and played at exteme speed it could easily be done on a Megadrive / PC Engine. 

Bonus modes include Dark Hero 30 (an RTS that we haven't played) and Princess 30 a shmup that we have.  Princess mode is quite odd, a shmup that sees you rescue an item in the 30 second limit and possibly fight a boss all at the same time.   Your face buttons fire in each direction and let you target any enemies from your squad of soldiers.  Oh yes you control your princess as she sits atop a squad of soldiers as they rush through the stage.  Like the others you have 30 seconds to grab the item / person and get back otherwise its game over.  Its manic and proves to be quite a lot of fun, especially the witty script.
We played this sufficiently to give it a 8/10

Valkyria Chronicles 2  Sega

This is the most expensive of the bunch (£15) and suffers the worst from the ghost in my machine, so much so its a lottery just what menu item you get or where on the battlefield you end up.

Its a turn based squad shooter that is a sequel to a PS3 game no one bought and shares a lot in common with Konamis Ring Of Red for the Playstation 2.  It seems to be a weird parallel of World War 2 but this time involving a neutral country caught between what would be the axis and allied forces or game equivalent of such.  We haven't played that much of it but to be honest its not that bad.
If I get my Weird DPad issues fixed I'll add a score here.

CFW.
So we have a brand spanking Custom firmware and a few emulators for PSP, So far I've got no homebrew or ISOs working only Emulators, it won't even acknowledge it other than say Corrupted file. 

Stuff that I can play.

FCE Ultra port, works well with a few sound hiccups but hammers anything I can throw at it so far.  (No FDS games as yet.)

Final Burn Alpha Port.  At the moment it loads but all the roms I load in do not support it, which is a shame portable SF2 would be nice. 

Finally a glossary of terms. Seeing as these aren't explained either.

OFW= Official Firmware that you get from Sony or from UMD Games.  Won't let you run homebrew.
Latest version is at time of writing 6.60.
CFW= Customised Firmware downloadable from the Internet, will brick your PSP if you install wrongly, needs the correct firmware and a steady hand but can open it up as an emulation powerhouse if you do it right. 
XMB= What your PSP Homescreen is called by dicks mainly.
More when I get them

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Twin Towers day round up.

Did you know its ten years to the day that 11/9 happened.   Ten years since extremist cunts crashed a series of motherfucking 747s into the World Trade Centre (oh and the Pentagon).  Ten years since we waged war in Afghanistan, and Iraq and we even shot Osama Top Banana for you in the name of good old Uncle Sam.   You do, and that there's been extensive coverage of it all over the TV and everything, complete with special programming with sombre music and film clips of the planes crashing and everything.  Wow.  Looks like you're way ahead of me then.
Apart from my irreverance of it all, ( lets face it there was jokes rolling in a good day or two after the WTC went down.  My favourite  lays the blame squarely at the Janitorial staff..  Well they did leave the landing lights on.) there is nothing I can add that hasn't been said a good hundred times before.
RIP Buddy you'll be missed.

Ginger bows out at 19
We celebrated our own worst day last Sunday, soon after the blog went out, (about Nazi hedgehogs we believe) when my Dad came in crying.  We lost Old Man Ginger, our cat of 19 years.  He wasn't well for the past month or two, hanging out by the cooker and not moving far.  Certainly not like him at all, he would always be in with us either tucked around on my lap or outside in the garden on the picnic table.  We got him from a neighbour about 2 years ago, they called him Tails (they owned a cat called Sonic but unfortunately he got run over when Ginger was about 5ish).  He came along to us when we had our old cat and ate her food and decided  to make our house his official second home, moving in when we lost her back in 1998.  Our neighbours got a second cat called Olly and when they decided to move to the country they said he could stay with us as he was too old to go with them and that he was more ours than theres.

The big guy always sat in with us when making film clips or music and even if he didn't like what we made he'd be there as a constant reminder, sometimes doing the typical cat thing of sitting in front of the screen and being a nuisance.   He's buried beneath the conifer tree at the bottom of the garden, with a stone tortoise marking his grave.

We finally have a PSP. 

We bought a second hand PSP this weekend for £40 and its a rather neat piece of kit.  It totally sums up Sony over the past couple of years, its flashy and shiny,  and feels like a smartphone.  Its also been hacked to buggery with both the signing keys for it and the PS3 now fully available to hackers and homebrew enthusiasts alike.  When it came out we weren't that fussed by it, in fact we were rather taken by the DS Lite with its double screens and GBA slot.  In fact for serious gaming that would be our first choice.  But over the past few weeks we've been getting into PSP emulation for some unknown reason.  Whether its the platform of choice for RPGs, (plenty of Nippon Ichi releases for the hardcore in you) or Monster Hunter (hey it revitalised the PSP in Japan) it seems that in its undeath the PSP is getting interesting.   Hopefully we'll add some custom firmware and begin Emulating some stuff.  But for now a run down on the PSP itself.

PSP overall.

Slick looking piece of kit, with a shed load of buttons, including a big power switch and back tray for your UMD discs.  D Pad isn't entirely horrible though the Analogue stick is.  Looking like some mutant speaker offshoot, the analogue stick is totally woeful, in the one game I used it, I wished there was a dpad only option its that bad.  In more strangeness you have to press the home button to return to the bios screen whenever you play a game as switching the console off merely turns the game off where you left it instead of logging out.  Its a really weird and unintuitive way of doing things, and it gets no better from then on.

Bios. 
The firmware is actually kinda nice with a logically laid out screen that lets you scroll through all your choices.  In fact this could be the best thing about the PSP, that along with the homebrew community and its emulators.  Everything is clearly laid out and seems to run off the x button on the console itself, and its simple to get everything running from that point.  You have date and time, video, music and a built in Web browser for surfing the internet (need wireless internet and uses the useless Analogue stick instead of a mouse).To run games you need to select UMD and click on the game itself, and you can even update firmware, though it wouldn't let us downgrade to 1.50 (were running 6.20 nerd fans).

Games.

We have two games at present, first is one that came bundled with it from the bootsale stall, its Need for Speed Carbon, the other I bought for £5 and its Lumines.

Need for speed Carbon:
A thug lite car simulator that I played all of five minutes of, no thanks to it being too dark, but mainly using the horrible analogue stick and the unremitting awfulness of it all.   You end up in a car smash and after 6 months in hospital you need to get back in the racing saddle by going on illegal drift races. 
Nice bits, It uses Tubeway Army's Are Friends Electric on the title screen and there is a screen that says that the cars and people are not fully official in case you have a problem with that, (and if you do I suggest that you GTFO all games should use unlicensed likeness even the official ones).
Nasty bits everything else.
2/10

Lumines:
Box building puzzler from Q entertainment and horse poking merchants Ubisoft.  You drop bicoloured cubes onto the play area making cubes of one colour before an ever sweeping line erases them.  Its largely the same as the PS2 version, with decent music and well suited visual for the PSP screen.  In keeping with its bigger brother it takes far too long to get remotely challenging, about twenty minutes in before you are truly taxed, but its not half bad and well suited to the PSP screen.
7/10

Sunday, 4 September 2011

My love hate affair with torrenting.

Theres a thread up on BX forum detailing some of the stuff that you can't get for love nor money on torrent sites.  My 2 pence worth is this, if you go off the beaten track music wise then you stand a good chance of it not appearing.  Old electro, techno, minimal wave stuff, italo disco or acid are ignored unless your very lucky or visit Youtube where they are much more liberal with stuff like that (unless copyright cunts pull the owners channel).

My own personal experience with torrentz has been this, disappointing.  In fact, if I can't get it through Rapidlibrary or Megaupload or even direct from a site then lets face it its not worth bothering with.

This isn't some idle chatter either, at the moment, thanks to a bootsale mishap we have a Kevin Bloody Wilson case minus 1 CD.   Looking through the usual suspects, and finding it missing (we're looking for Kalgoorlie Love Songs BTW) we decide to check the torrents to find out if its been uploaded.   

Promising, there are about 7 streams and feedback is non existant but at least its there.

We download about 3 times and hit a brick wall. No one is seeding meaning that I get 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
00000000000000000000000000000000002KB per second.  Fuck this. Fuck this to hell.  Trying about
three different streams and finding the same thing.  Currently we're 87% there and its not getting any better as the tap has dropped off.  If I was pirating films or games or something popular I probably would expect a stellar service (though I doubt it).  But something I own but due to an oversight (no disc) don't well damn I expect better.

Other stuff.
Remember last week we promised you a hedgehog.  Well here he is in all his rolled up glory.
Poor guy someone tried to touch him inappropriately.
Also we've been listening to something I can't really square with my beliefs at all.  I've written before about my love hate relationship with the Far Left and Far Right before and used to run with some people who were far more right wing than I'll ever be.  When I was growing up there used to be some cunt promoting the Socialist Wanker party outside Smiths.  (Thats largely moot now, we have various African Christians singing now outside Smiths, and yes they're fucking annoying).

I digress, the far right have been pumping out Hate rock for what seems like ages and to say it doesn't appeal to me is a understatement.  However thanks to an article in The Sun, I discovered Saga.  Or rather Ode to a dying people, which is a nice folky ballad (we made a slightly disappointing Acapella for mashing up and general mixing) which is insanely catchy.  Its the sort of stuff they would play at the end of CSI when the killer has been caught and you need a montage of shots for David Caruso to raise his shades to.
I still don't like any of their other stuff though luckily theres no such thing as racist techno so the dance community is safe for now.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

In which we find a hedgehog.

We are down at my aunts place in Suffolk for the bank holiday weekend.  Taking some time out to chill and visit the local area.  I found out that my cousin Ellen had to go into hospital for an operation to straighten her back and it seems to have gone well.  Hope you get well soon and are back on your feet...

Anyway you're not here for that you want to know about me seeing A, a hedgehog as outlined in the above post and B. Lisa Goddard.

We'll deal with Lisa first.  She was in Waterstones in Lowestoft, for a book signing. and was reading a book with a small girl (possibly her granddaughter we don't know).   Currently the list of celebrities I've seen, have been either gaming related (Shigeru Miyamoto when he came to London back in 2001) or minor celebrities, we saw Bill Oddie in Khaki pants down at Soho and Terry Nutkins looking at a dolphin when we were on a school trip to Windsor Safari Park. Mostly though they've been in Oxford streets HMV promoting stuff.  This goes for Monty Python's Cartoonist Terry Gilliam, Girls Aloud / Sugarbabes who blocked the dance music aisle while they sang, and for FF12 launch Yoshitaka Kawasu (though that was remembered more for cosplayers including some dude in a full moogle outfit).

Back to Lisa and to be honest, she doesn't look half bad at all, seeing as all anyone remembers her for was as a teenage girl in Skippy.  In fact that was the worst thing, as I walked around the shop I had the Skippy theme tune stuck in my head and it wouldn't let up.

Anyway apart from Lisa and that we also had a visit from the Jehovas Witnesses and a storm which kinda cemented my luck for the rest of the day, i.e terrible.  On the upside we were working in the garden when came across a hedgehog that was trapped by the drainpipe.  We decided to rescue it and set it down by the picnic table where it promptly curled up into a ball.  It was about a good 9 inches with softish spines (we were under the impression that they were hard like some cactus spines) and it stayed there for most of the afternoon curled up.  We looked for it later on and it had wandered off into the undergrowth.

All in all an eventful holiday.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Namco Station.

Not Namcotstation.
Its time for another foray into town, this time taking in two new places. 

Part 1.
First of all is a nice trip to Namco Station, which sounds like some badly branded PS1.   This subterranean monster is off the radar to most people who usually visit the Trocadero (now closed) and the Casino leisure (more later), as it's situated on the banks of the Thames just down from the London Eye and the London Aquarium.  The top floor has a few crane toys and penny falls, and an escalator down leads to the basement where the main action is.  Here are a variety of fruit machines and penny falls including PacMan Ball and some other refugees from the recently closed Troc

Arcade game wise there is nothing much here, they have a Rambo and a Silent Hill the arcade game and a copy of Time Crisis 4, but nothing else of note.  Most of the fruit machines are geared up to dispense tokens,  you get 1 even if you fail, and it takes a kings ransom to redeem for even the lowest prize on the list. 


Good points, one crane toy had the most amount of Donald Ducks I'd ever seen.  They have a regular coin pusher version based on Pac Man and a dodgem track taking up the most of the ground floor, but apart from that its a wasteland and didn't compare to either the Leisure Casino or the now defunct Trocadero.

Outside is miles more fun, as it takes in the whole gamut of performing arts. Including several human statues and my new favourite performance guy (edging out a bloke I saw dressed as a baby in Barcelona) a guy dressed as a dog hiding in a pet carrier / desktop combo.  It was awesome as he sang a song as well.   Oh and some dude dressed as a lizard on a bike.
Dave Mirra has nothing on him.
 Further along there was a crop of beach huts as part of a South bank exhibition, this included a giant seagull kiosk as part of the RSPB display, and Tim Hunkins under the pier show transplanted from its Southwold home and is well worth a visit.  Strangest of all was a group of lads surrounding a guy on the floor with breathing appartus on and his shirt off.  They had paramedics come to treat him but to this day I still don't know if its performance art or a genuine medical emergency.

Part 2  
Our main aim was, thanks to a well placed article in Wire Magazine, a visit to the Science Museum to see an Exhibit on Daphne Oram Founder of the Radiophonic Workshop and experimental composer.  The exhibit itself is on the second floor of the science museum and comprises of an installation remaking the remarkable Oramics Machine, and a rebuilt version in its entirety behind glass.  There is also a film clip taken from a BBC documentary of Daphne explaining what Oramics sets out to do and how she would achieve it.
Its not bad and is quite humbling to see the roots of electric music are just sine waves and reel to reel tapes.
Part of the Oramics Machine.
Part 3
Finally after fiddling around with the installation (we wanted to take some video but our camera wasn't playing ball) we decided to take one last arcade trip to the Leisure Casino down town.  We were pleasantly surprised that the GTI club they had languishing upstairs was kicked out in favour of a brand new Darius Burst cab.  Complete with bass boosting seat and a massive three screens, it takes some inspiration from Caves Deathsmiles in that you can flip direction to blast creatures behind you by pressing a button, there is also a button dedicated to shooting off a massive beam weapon (unless your playing as the original Silver Hawk then it just drops bombs ala Gradius),  which is bastard well impressive.  Bosses of course are still based on sealife with a massive Nautilus to take on when you tackle normal.   Oh and power ups are still true to Darius, shooting down creatures gets you a power up pod that you use to gradually level up your guns.  So far its pretty cool we don't know if the hold down the shield to capture an enemy remains but it looks the business.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Keep your community clean Garrote a hoodie.

Just in case you didn't know or were living under a rock for the past week.  We've had riots in Lagos  London.

Far be it for me to offer any kind of comment (it'll only unbelieveably knee jerk) or provide insight into the why (disenfranchised youth, of either spectrum of class, Gangsta rap culture (you never hear rap about mental illness or spending your life trapped inside giant mechanical dogs or for that matter Sunn 0)) and wanting it all with little or no work ethic, qualifications or motivation to improve their lot in life.

Instead I'll simply blog my non involvement in the whole scheme of things.  For someone who is never out we were actually supremely unlucky to be out on the one night where I should have stayed in.
Our cactus club down at Well Hall held a talk on the Monday that the riots really started to fan out.  We should have clocked something was up when the bus driver said that he would not be driving through Lewisham and watching a load of white kids in hoodies mill around the bus stop at the top of Well hall hill.   But we simply didn't catch on and got to where we wanted to go without much trouble.  After a relaxing show and tell session we bowled out at 10pm ready to take the bus home.

The bus was late and we walked to the stop where Stephen Lawrence was killed to maximise our chances of getting home (you can get a 161 as well as a 122). When we finally got a bus the driver informed us that due to rioting in Woolwich they will be detouring out to Welling before heading back to Plumstead.  We didn't mind this we can walk home from Welling and did so seeing hardly anyone out.  (OK so its not very exciting, i'm hardly likely to burn down withies am I.)

Come Tuesday and we are allowed home early from work due to percieved trouble.  We see more groups of white kids in hoodies and an awful lot of rumours.  Gangs spotted down at Abbeywood, shops closing early and shuttered up just like when you drop a rock into a rock pool all the creatures hide untill its safe to emerge.

Come Friday and we have the day off we can go down to Woolwich and see whats really been done and whats survived.  Ironically its all the usual suspects, all the phone shops have been smashed in except 3 (gee looks like the average scum doesn't want all you can eat data).  Both Game and Gamesation have been looted and Wetherspoons and Wilkinsons have been torched, extending to the Pound shop and Barclays next door.  Finally Mc Donalds has been broken into too along with C(r)ash converters.

Some shops were totally untouched, Sainsburys and WHSmiths and even Poundland made it through  unscathed, and Brighthouse made it without being looted.  I still have no answers why it all kicked off, but you can watch thugs vs a thin blue line of cops on Youtube

Warning Whitehouse Extreme noise.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The anatomy of a British Arcade

This was supposed to be at the end of last weeks rant at MAME, alluding that fruit machines could be included in an upcoming build.  If it goes ahead  then it could leave MFME (a slot based incarnation, based on a closed source of MAME) redundant.  What with WOS's coverage of Coindozer and the demise of  the Troc this covered most of what I had to say.  That and complete and utter brain drain, anyway...

What you were supposed to get was a round up of the other stuff in your average English Arcade, so without further ado lets rant on.

The token nod to arcade heritage.

This is normally either a bleeding edge arcade game (Tekken 6 or some sort) or some sort of late 90's 3D game, based on either the Naomi board (virtua tennis) or Model 2/3 (Daytona or Sega Rally) you might have a fighting game either a Tekken or a version of Virtua Fighter(see sentence above).  Rarely will there be a dance game like a Dance Dance Revolution or some Korean version, under no circumstances will there be any 2D games unless there is a mame cab tucked away somewhere.  Most of these are non mame at present but do a google search for:
Makaron if you have a hankering for Naomi / Dreamcast stuff
SuperModel for Model 3 stuff.

The 18s  only area.

Rather than pole dancing or adult stuff.  This area houses those slots that contain big prizes and normally cost something like 30p a go and that.  Like all slots they trade on the hopes of the punter and like everything else in gambling are horribly skewed toward the house.

The non 18s only area.

Regular fruit machines and Coinpushers. There may be a modern nod toward the old arcade in some coin pushers, as modern ones have video screens that are triggered when you put the coins into a special slot.

So far no one has begun emulating these.  For good reason too,  they would be such a massive test of  physics simulating the movement of  dozens of coins as well as the hardware and screen.  Really, at present I don't know if it could be done, but I suppose could be a fun test of 3D hardware.

Other stuff.
Stuff like Kiddy rides, Pool and Air Hockey tables and various crane toys. Oh and bingo, but theres a billion on line bingo sites so these don't count.

Pinball.

You'll occasionally get the odd table,  but the only place to really go to town for pins is in fact the Leisure Casino near Goodge Street Tube station.    The sad truth is that they are much more prevalent abroad, with plenty of old Williams Pins retiring to the Spanish coast like cockney Gangsters.
Pin Mame and Visual Pinball do a sterling Job of emulating these.

Foreign Imports. 
No one seriously has Pachinko or its Slot based offering Pachislot in the UK and previously when I've covered it its always been stuck in the windows of some arcades.  Japanese in origin, they are a massive deal over there.  Working sort of like redemption machines, tokens/balls collected can be cashed in for prizes and items or sold through a hole in the wall for cold hard cash (illegal).  If they are popular enough they are converted to
console for home play.  Though I've seen Pachinko done in Visual Pinball, I don't know if MFME would cover Pachislot the same way.  They seem genuinely fun, though that maybe the exoticness of it all, in fact we had Victory Zone for PSX back in the day and it was wall to wall tedium.



Sunday, 31 July 2011

Updates and slots

First before going into one, we'll have a bit of an update of stuff previously posted.

Marchen Maze Fan translated.

First up I'd never thought I would see this happen.  When people fan translate its normally the glory days of Nintendo i.e NES and SuperNES era with a few nods toward the original Playstation.  Anything that runs on Sega Hardware or falls under the banner of NEC or is a handheld system is usually roundly ignored.  So I nearly fell off my chair when a general update appeared on RHDN showing that someone had fan translated the original.

Incidentally patching this is a breeze, just grab your favourite patcher (FuSoYa's LunarIPS) and apply the patch to the rom and it'll patch.

Pulse FM and Copyright Cunts.

We've found one of the old tapes that has Pulse FM on it.  Its probably the first thing I've ever taped off the radio and harks back to 1993.  Of course its one of Aphrodites shows and has an incredible mix of old house, trance and sometimes Acid.  Converting it across and adding song titles in Vegas we finally uploaded it to Youtube.
However some parasite at the Performing Reich Society seems to think because its a radio show that they should have their pound of flesh, we are going to argue that its an archive of a Pirate Radio show and that it should be exempt on copyright grounds (though possibly not on music grounds).  We'll see how this goes on.

Coin Pusher, Haniwa De Go.
Arcade experience in a PC draws nearer.

We periodically read Dave Haywoods MAME page, an interesting read into MAME politics and the state of arcade emulation, 14 years after its inception.
We were surprised to learn that in his latest post he's looking into adding Fruit Machine stuff  to MAME now seeing as its not that hard to do. 

Though some of the video slot stuff has been in MAME for a while now, for regular slots an MAME offshoot called  MFME was the best bet, even though its closed source (against MAMEs mission statement) and not updated in ages.    

Now I'm ambivalent about slots, they are mostly not fun (though some of the UK ones were weakly entertaining) and are mainly about seperating idiot from cash.   However, intergrated into MAME this would instantly emulate about 90% of seaside arcades in the United Kingdom, though they still wouldn't be fun at all.