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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.


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.