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Sunday, 27 February 2011

Being a virtual Space captain.

Its been a long standing dream of mine to get into the original Elite on the 8 bits. Playing it back in the day it seemed such a chore, the promise of deep space exploration with the actual reality of that it'll take massive amounts of effort to get anywhere.  

But still I keep trying, and trying various emulated versions to see if there is a bearable version but no dice.   We heard about Oolite a while back but thought it far too nerdy to bother with, it is pretty geeky but those that have played the original Elite should be right at home here.  Other folks well...

It does capture the magic of the original space series, with options to have either wireframe graphics on or off, and as a milestone, its the furthest I've been in any of the original Elites, (making it as far as the target planet and rather stupidly dying whilst docking).  Oolite isn't bad but there's 2 problems with it. 

1. It takes an ice age to get to the object planet.  I put it on full speed and set it toward Diso, and went for my dinner to find that, not only by the time I came back that we were in range but the space station was slightly visible on the main screen.   I estimate I was away for 10 minutes and  it took another 7 or so reach (and crash into) the Coriolis Station.  Let alone vast distances of space, it seems that they couldn't implement the far superior time dilation controls from its follow up Frontier. 

Don't get me wrong, Oolite isn't bad at all, but with Frontier controls, it would be miles better, and meant that I'm not drawing my pension whenever I make it to Earth.

2. There's a heck of a lot of controls to learn, but you can remedy this.  Open whatever PDF viewer you use and pull up the player sheet from the Oolite package.  You can then use this as a background while playing Oolite.  You can switch between the to while playing if you forget which key is for targeting space ships, and which is the Witchspace jump button.

In fact as you may have gathered my affection for the whole series only took off with Elite 2 Frontier for the Amiga.  Pitching up to prospect the farthest reaches of the galaxy with an Imperial Courier and an MB4, or simply ferrying people between the more populated planetary systems once we had expanded enough.  We dedicated 13 game years and never made it to Elite status, (its been ages but I think I'm at dangerous level).

So imagine my surprise when someone on Metro's Gamecentral pages suggested that there was a remake of Frontier too.  Called Pioneer its still in alpha, but its already looking like Frontier on steroids. 

Sure it has its problems, there are far too many thrust buttons for starters and the background themes aren't  the best.  You seem to start out with too much fuel and a weedy hyperdrive too (we got 8 light years out of my old Eagle mark 3 now its more like 4 and a bit).  But the magic is there, you can speed up time to your hearts content and even autopilot to planet's vicinity {or vacinity as the game would have it}.

We'll  try and arrange some audio stuff if I remember it, but for now, I' m off to dust down the Eagle and trade to my hearts content.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

I am more in a factory, hothouse was never?

Today our eclectic skill shop will show you how to chop up a Sanseveria to make plantlets.

Thanks to a water leak in the conservatory, we have to deal with disparate lumps of rotting plants that were previously healthy specimens, mainly Aloe, Haworthia  and Gasteria  but with both of my Sanseverias too.

Luckily its left us with three leaves and a recollection that chopping them up will elicit more plants.  Sadly most of the Aloes are too far gone for this treatment (we're holding out hope that a Gasteria can be saved in this manner).  Lucky that it was only one tray that was affected, but still its especially galling that this happened at all.

Sanseveria Cylindrica, not your average Mother in laws tongue!.

Anyway here is a guide for those that have had the same problem or simply want to up their propagation skills.

You'll need:
a large pot
Sharp knife
Free draining compost, John Innes no1 is good, or peat free with extra gravel added if you can't get hold of it.

Prepare the pot with the potting compost and then select a good sized leaf for cutting.

With leaf selected, lop it off at the base of the stem and cut it into 4inch/10cm chunks.
Do this one at a time, so that you won't mix up the which part was from where.  (Only those that were on the bottom will grow otherwise they'll rot instead)
Plant your sliced Sanseveria into the potting compost and leave in a warm and dry place.  Hopefully you'll see small plantlets appearing at the base of each leaf piece (well thats what I hope to see) a few months down the line oh and when the weather is better don't forget to water.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Toy museum trip.

So far we've been enjoying SaGa 2 Goddess of Destiny for the NDS a remake of the old Gameboy game.  We're up to the bit where Ashura sends his micronized foes into Kai to retrieve the relics inside her, and you set off to the giants world to learn this dark art so you can stop them.   Working well in DeSmuMe with no real drop outs and that, and it is proving to be as hard as the rest of the series, Ashura himself killed off most of my party with only Guest star Mask and my robot holding him off with souped up taijutsu skills and battle hammers.

Toy Museum


Thanks to my employers generous holiday package, we took a day off to visit the Toy Museum at Bethnal Green.

To give its full name thats the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, its a short way down from Bethanl Green Tube station and its a largely ace place.

If you have any interest in children then the police would like to speak with you, however if you're nostalgic about toys then this is the place for you oh and you kids too.

They seem to have a fixation with creepy dolls, which of course we took many photos of and there are many pictures of Gollies there too which are neither expalined away through political correctness (just another facet of childhood) or shoved out of sight, in fact there's a huge one on display there (not pictured),  although their full name is not of course given.

Right between the eyes.
There are a lot of tin plate toys including some devilish mice and various wind up novelties on show.
Robots from Japan and sinister german ducks rub shoulders with tin plate bears and magic lanterns. 

There are a few cabinets dedicated to dolls and soft toys.  Barbie is well represented as is Sindy her British counterpart.  There are a few Action Men too complete with eagle eyes and accesories.

My favourite is Blythe a doll made in the early seventies that sort of looks like an anime figure crossed with a hippy.  (in fact she would be successfully relaunched in Japan in 2001, though she still looks like an acid casualty crossed with the bride of Chucky.)  For a gamer though the biggest sin was the complete lack of game systems, UBISoft donated a pink model of a DS complete with bunch of shite Imagine: Childmolesterer software and  there is a Tamagotchi in the testimony display case but, apart from that there's nothing, no SNES no NES no ZX Spectrum complete with software on tapes or anything else for that matter.
They were a big part of most of our childhoods, growing up in the 80's, there isn't even a VCS, which is rubbish.

There may be no consoles there, but they do have some stuff based on old TV shows.  I never knew Superted or Dogtanian ever had their own toy spin offs, but there are examples of both.  Predictably Superted is absolute rubbish, whereas Dogtanian looks classy in his red hat.
Anyway we'll add some photos and leave you in peace.

Super Ted still rubbish.

Blythe, Headshop owner and space cadet.

Flat top the sailor man.

Jesus is invisible and other bollocks, according to the Jehovas Witness cunts.  Sorry just really hate them.

Hello Kids Wanna buy some Honey.

Probably not a nod to electro group Le Car.

The BNPs attempt to celebrate ST Georges day was a fucking disappointment (as usual).

Great Uncle Bengaria, the ethnic Womble.
Dogtanian minus his muskerhounds.

Told you they'd be gollies, though dressed up in tartan is a new one for me.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Haniwa De Go

Back in May we wrote this.

"and finally you're not allowed to take photos in arcades anymore we may actually write more about this, as it seems entirely wrong headed and petty.  We have very poor footage of Haniwa De Go by Taito in fact we'll definitely do more on this as there's precious little information online about this at all.

Oh and we'll try and make it a double bill with unlicensed Mario too."

Mario got his day in the spotlight back in May, but Haniwa de Go got forgotten about, lingering out in the darkness... Until now.

A trip to the Trocadero, proved to be the catalyst for this rebirth of sorts.  The previous location had a ban on taking photographs of the machines for reasons unknown, and after a few visits there it was demoted to being broken and finally disappeared to be replaced by a Coronation Street coin pusher {which is shit}.

Skip forward to the new year and we took our camera up town to photograph the chinese new year, and decided a trip to the Troc' would be a fun diversion before we got down to the serious business of photographing the festivities.  Up on the top floor they had Haniwa set up and accepting 10ps.  We broke out the camera and filmed us playing through about a pounds worth.

We don't know the name of the Namco game but theres some cracking Engrish on  the front there.


Haniwa De Go is a coin pusher style game from Taito, the aim of the game is to move around  the board by timing your shots so they roll into the moving pink coin slots.  They trigger the rolling dice on screen and you move about, sometimes you get a chance to collect bonuses or OOparts (the main feature of the game) and this in turn gets you more coins to the lower (and indeed more traditional) coin pusher 'penny falls part' of the game.

Instead of directly dropping it down via the slots you have a choice of 6 slots to place your coin, (three each side) and if it falls into the moving slots you go onto the map screen as explained above.  If not it joins the rest of the coins on the main pusher, and if it gets pushed down onto the lower screen then there's a chance that it could fall down and  pay out onto the main slot (in time honoured tradition it won't, it'll just hang there defying gravity). Anyway to watch us play some rounds and even trigger a bonus have a look at the clip below on Youtube, courtesy of the bearorbust empire.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Saga 2 patched.

And it only took a brand new version of DesMume to get it working.

Here is the full rigmarole of getting this to work under emulation (for those that don't  need to run stuff from no stinking flash cart).

Download the latest release of DeSmume, from the link above and don't extract it, simply copy it to a folder of your choice (ours is simply called unzipped)

Locate your Rom by the time honoured traditon of googling its name on google. Saga2 Hihou no densetsu
We'll throw you a bone here by directing you to rapidlibrary and put in the name there to see if its up on any file drop places.  ( and for gods, sake ignore all the weird porn requests that people make there).

With the rom downloaded to a folder of your choice, go to the Crimson Nocturnal sub page and download the patch from the list of filedrops provided and extract it to the same folder where your SaGa rom is located.

Play the Rom image in DeSmume and see if the main title screen appears, if it does open up Xdelta from the Saga2 translation patch file and close the emu.  (You'll get a warning screen in japanese if you use any other emulator to patch this at present either that or it just won't work.)

In case you mess up make a copy of the rom and then with Xdelta open add in the directory for:
*where the patch is for patching.
 *where the rom image is for patching (easy both should be in the same place)
*the new name for you rom file with .nds at the end of it. 

Press apply and it should patch ok, run Desmume and see if the title screen is in English.  If so well done you've patched Saga for emulator play.