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Sunday, 25 September 2011


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.

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.

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.

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).


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.

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.

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.