The ridiculous popularity of YouTube gamers

Friday 23 December 2016 @ 10:45 pm

Here’s something I really don’t get; the ridiculous popularity of YouTubers with millions of subscribers who will happily sit for hours watching them play a video game that they likely already own. Back in the 80’s, the very worst part of video gaming, apart from having to wait for the tape deck to load the game, was having to sit and watch someone else play and not getting a turn.

The whole social media thing is a complete crock of crap. I don’t do FarceBook, Twatter, InstaCack, SnapShite or any other number of pointless social media platforms simply because I can’t imagine anyone would be the least bit interested in me and I’m certainly not interested in other peoples mindless ramblings (DISCLAIMER: I realise the irony of posting this on a blog).

Why on earth do these self-important cretins think that anyone would actually be absorbed by what they had for lunch or what they’re wearing or who they saw? Almost every post seems to comprise not-so-subtle product placements, stupid pictures of everyday mundane objects or airbrushed photos of people pretending they have a wonderful life filled with copious amounts of hot sex. And it’s not just people either, companies are increasingly using Twitter for customer service which means more and more people think they should kick up a fuss and tell the World + Dog about it just to get satisfaction. Net result? Everyone wants to be a zelebrity with their 15 minutes of fame and shortcut to easy riches.

Those famous celebrities, who are famous for nothing except being a celebrity, or releasing an “accidental” sex tap, are to blame. Social Media is now filled with nobody’s who want to be a pointless somebody, namely the latest footballer flashing their gold plated Lambo complete with hookers in the passenger seat or the identikit Instagram models who seem to do nothing all day except swan around the world at the behest of rich horny geriatrics. Is this really what we want our children to aspire to?

Oh for the days when life was much simpler, we didn’t have all of this social media BS and gaming meant a shelf full of £9.99 tapes, a cassette deck and actually enjoying playing video games with your mates.


Well that’s the end of Pokemon Go then

Monday 26 September 2016 @ 10:18 pm

So I’ve been grimly clinging on to v0.35 of Pokemon Go because the later versions don’t work on rooted devices but a forced update has now scuppered that.

In a way it’s good because it means I waste less time catching feckin’ pigeons and rats but on the other hand, it totally sucks because so much time has been invested in catching feckin’ pigeons and rats, as well as rare Pokemon, not to mention hatching eggs and powering up levels.

Why Niantic had to screw around with the game and stop it working on rooted phones is anyone’s guess but you know what? Fuck ’em. I’m done with Pokemon Go and Niantic can shove it.


What Pokemon Go tells you about London

Wednesday 24 August 2016 @ 10:07 pm

It’s infested with feckin’ pigeons and rats. If I never catch another Pidgey and Rattata again, it’ll be too soon.


10 great arcade beat ’em ups from my school years

Sunday 13 March 2016 @ 11:24 pm

Kung-Fu Master (1984)
This is like being in a 70’s Kung Fu movie complete with cool “haiyaaa”” sound effects. You play professional Bruce Lee impersonator Thomas who is out to rescue his girlfriend by kicking ass over five side scrolling levels, each with an end-of-level boss. Simple controls, fun gameplay and hoardes of baddies to punch, kick and sweep (and flying kick and flying punch although the latter rarely seemed to connect).

Double Dragon (1987)
The original side scrolling beat ’em up and the one that made the genre massively popular. A single 10p credit would go a long way on Double Dragon if you stuck to the Boring and Predicatable and elbowed your way through the levels. The sound effects and animation are what really made this a great game. You really felt a sense of beating people up and being in a fight. The additional weapons were also a big draw back in 1987 although seasoned players would ignore the baseball bat and whip and just get on with the job. If two players made it all the way to the end, you had to fight each other to decide who got the girl. Genius!

Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja (1988)
Two hard-as-nails dudes clad only in string vests, jeans and sneakers set out to rescue President Ronnie (Reagan natch) against an army of ninja’s. This is like a cooler and faster version of Double Dragon. Same side scrolling concept, same two player mode, although you couldn’t beat each other up, and very similar gameplay with end of level bosses and weapons to pick up. Great levels, including one set on a moving juggernaut, and plenty of them too so lots of solid replay value. Unlike Double Dragon you had to be reasonably good to progress on a single credit and the action was played on a single plane without any foreground or background field of depth.

Final Fight (1989)
Big huge characters, signature moves and loads of assorted villains to beat up, Final Fight takes all the best points from Double Dragon and massively cranks up the action. With only three characters to choose from, but each different and with their own abilities and skills, plus lots more weapons to use, Final Fight was also a lot harder than Double Dragon. Unusually, all the villains have their own names and energy bars so you can see how much of a pasting they need. As with Double Dragon, the sense of connection and accompanying sound effects when beating someone up is second to none and you really feel that you’re kicking ass.

Golden Axe (1989)
The other big beat ’em up draw in the arcades at the same time as Final Fight, Golden Axe has you choosing one of three fantasy fighters and then setting off on a quest to defeat Death Adder. Golden Axe was unique in that you could mount various beasties to use for battle and each character had a special magic attack based upon either lightning, thunder or fire. The weakest character, Tyrus Flare, had the most devastating magic that required the most power ups and let me tell you, after scrimping and saving to collect all the magic potions to reach maximum strength and then letting loose at full power, seeing that huge dragon’s head appear and toast everyone was a sight to behold. There was quite a dark story behind how and why our heroes/heroine were fighting Death Adder along with plenty of violent scenes but this was made up for with a quite marvellous end sequence to lighten the mood. Special mention to the soundtrack which is just fabulous.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
TEEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIOOOOW …… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half shell, TURTLE POWER! TMNT demanded your attention no matter where you were in the arcade. Not only was it a huge cabinet that dominated the floor, but when that theme music kicked in, it drowned out every single other game in the place. Better still, I think this was pretty much the first four player beat-em up. Everyone had their own favourite turtle but they all played largely the same. My usual was Donatello at first but then I switched to Raphael who was the only turtle with a different special attack to the others. There’s a lot of enjoyment from all the funny interactions and animations as well as the fantastic soundtrack and effects which makes playing Turtles just like being in an interactive cartoon.

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (1990)
Surely one of the most unique beat-em ups and a great game in its own right, Moonwalker has you playing Michael Jackson, dressed up in his Smooth Criminal gear, as you battle gangsters and rescue children across scrolling isometric levels. Michael can fire magic, charge up a bigger energy attack by moonwalking and even collect Bubbles the chimp to transform into a giant killer robot. Best of all, Michael’s special attack sees him dancing his signature moves under a spotlight with all the other villains copying him after which they all blow up when the routine ends. Of course, the soundtrack is pure MJ so you have all the classics including Bad, Smooth Criminal, Beat It and even Billie Jean. The Megadrive version was quite different and more of a platformer but still shifted bucketloads of Sega consoles.

Pit Fighter (1990)
Notable for having digitised graphics which scaled when moving between planes, Pit Fighter played firmly on realism and was real eye candy back in the 90’s. The premise was simple; pick one of three pit fighters (kick boxer, wrestler or karate expert) and enter a one-on-one underground brawl (or two-on-two) played for cash and prestige. Each character had a signature move with Ty the kick boxer proving to be the most popular simply because he looked so cool. However, the actual fighting action was very scrappy with no sense of landing any blows but it was worth the higher cost of a single credit just to ogle those photo realistic graphics.

Vendetta (1991)
My favourite scrolling beat ’em up and a little obscure (at least, there was only one in the whole town and I rarely saw it anywhere else) this took all the best elements from other scrollers and put them together to make the finest of the lot. Four selectable, and very different characters, four player simultaneous action, the right amount of difficulty without being unfair, lots of weapons and objects to interact with, a diverse set of baddies to beat up and a wicked sense of humour with lots of funny animations to giggle at. The Western versions were censored for some of the more fruity characters (humping trannies and PVC clad call girls) and the game rewarded skill so unlike Final Fight, a single credit could go quite far. This Konami classic never really got the recognition it deserved which is a bit like all the baddies in the game; criminal.

Street Fighter 2 Champion Edition (1992)

This one needs no introduction. If I had to choose just the one game to take with me on a desert island, it’d be Street Fighter 2. Superbly balanced opponents with easy controls that reveal a depth of gameplay that has yet to be bettered, Street Fighter 2 CE is THE definitive one-on-one beat ’em up. Pick from one of 12 characters (including the 4 bosses) and fight your way around the world. There is not a single element of this game that isn’t honed to perfection. The stellar graphics, sublime gameplay, distinctive soundtrack and delicately engineered difficulty level that is pitch perfect along with easy to master combos that don’t need a degree in dexterity, Street Fighter 2 was by far the most popular arcade game around and spawned a huge number of inferior clones. The reason I bought a Super Nintendo is to play this one game and I still remember the day I bought it (American import with adaptor for £60). The SNES was switched on at 12 noon and we didn’t switch it off until 8pm the same day. Street Fighter 2 is THE game that sold the SNES. More than 20 years later, I still collect various incarnations of Street Fighter on any console I have and whilst the series has mushroomed hugely, crossed over into other franchises and had the core gameplay messed around with, the simplicity of SF2 is still the one to beat. Huge round of applause for Ryu, Ken, Blanka, Zangief, Chun-Li, Dhalsim, E. Honda, Zangief, Balrog, Vega, Sagat and M. Bison. We salute you all!


New Microsoft Xbox One drives away the gamers

Monday 10 June 2013 @ 10:26 pm

With the announcement of the new Xbox One, greedy bastards Microsoft have, at a single stroke, driven away hordes of gamers through the new creepy, snooping, always-on offering, complete with shitty Kinnect that monitors and listens to everything you do even when switched off. And if that wasn’t enough to drive you away, the declaration that everything is DRM enabled, kept in the useless “cloud” with connectivity required at least once every 24 hours for activation, meaning no second hand games market unless you pay Microsoft, along with the obscene price tag of £430 and Microsoft giving all your data to the NSA will ensue this lame ass big ugly box of total bullshit will be dead before it’s even been launched.

Never mind the fact it also looks hideous and seemingly has transformed into some all-singing, all-dancing entertainment bag ‘o shite that just happens to play games, by monitoring everything you do via Kinnect, Microsoft will soon be bombarding you with adverts, commercials, “premium” services and other bollocks when all you want to do is sit down and play games offline with your mates. Only you can’t do that either because Xbox insists the console has to be connected online at least once every 24 hours to work.

That conveniently ties in with the intrusion of having an always-on Xbox camera pointing at you 24/7, recording everything you say and watching everything you do. Try turning the sensor away and the Xbox One shuts off. And don’t let Microsoft try to persuade you otherwise, the recent NSA scandal has revealed that Microsoft have long been in cahoots with the NSA willingly handing over data and working on spying technology.

So, if you want a big black ugly Big Brother device watching your every move and reporting it back to the US government, or you’re after a console where the hardware manufacturer decides what you can and can’t do with your games, and you’re happy to fork out £430 for the privilege, then please join the queue marked “Gullible Ignorant Fool”. The rest of us will be standing in line to buy a PS4 or Wii U.

Nice one Microsoft, another fuck-up to add to the collection.


Unfair Mario Kart Wii a supreme test of blood pressure

Tuesday 15 May 2012 @ 5:49 pm

After an exhaustive 2-year study during which my blood pressure has been sorely tested, I have come to the conclusion that Mario Kart Wii is the most unfair version of the game yet. Time after time, I’ve been leading the final lap only for the ridiculously biased Wii opponents to fling a blue shell in my direction that pushes me back to 8th position when the same action on the Wii players would only make them lose a couple of places. Worse still, this is immediately followed by a Bullet Bill, armada of shells or some other rubbish to dump me back even further to 12th.

One of the worst scams is when you’re coasting in the lead by a comfortable margin and carrying a shell or banana. If you get hit by lightning or a POW block, which inevitably happens sooner rather than later, the Wii spins you out but drops your banana/shell right in front of you making it impossible to avoid when you restart. In other words, you spin out from a computer offensive and then immediately spin out again by being dropped right in front of your own damn weapon. Un-bloody-believable!

And when you do end up at the back of the pack, which will happen on the 150cc cups, don’t think for one moment that the Wii is gonna hand you any decent weapons. I’ve lost count of all the instances where I’ve been trailing the race and item boxes consistently offer me either a golden mushroom or green shell. No sign of the mega mushroom or blue shell when you need it, yet when you’re in the lead, the Wii can’t hand enough of them to the computer racers. It’s not uncommon to be hit by 2 blue shells in as many laps! And a special mention for the items and weapons that are rammed up your tailpipe by the Wii opponents when you’re leading a race that all miraculously hit you either seconds away from the finish line on the final lap whilst in pole position or at the most strategically placed moment to cause maximum disruption by spinning you off the track or plunging you into a ravine. Don’t expect the Wii controlled racers to receive anywhere near the same level of aggression or hits from other Wii opponents, races are srictly designed to be as unfair as possible for you and you alone.

Then there’s the measly combination of characters and karts. Unlike with Mario Kart DS, the Wii characters and karts are all split up into 3 groups with combinations only allowed within that group. This drastically reduces the number of permutations available with little variation between the drivers in a group.

It’s not just the limited driver roster or hideous rubber band AI though, the new courses are so littered with obstacles that the game has become less of a race that tests skill and accuracy and more of a pot luck affair where your chances of winning are largely determined by how quickly the Wii scams your position by ensuring your lap has as many strategically placed impediments as possible. No surprise that these same impediments are nowhere to be seen when the AI controlled karts are leading.

Here’s what to expect:

NEW COURSES

Mushroom Cup
Luigi Circuit
A nice simple course with a wide track and enough bends to get used to the kart/bike dynamics. There’s a shortcut to test your tricks off the ramp and a banked corner to boost ahead of the pack.

Moo Moo Meadows
Set in a grassy meadow complete with wandering cows and authentic cowbell sounds, this is a charming track with a number of good shortcuts and plenty of opportunity to overtake.

Mushroom Gorge
The nonsense starts with this course albeit in a manageable way. No obstacles but watch out for the cheating scamming Wii players to shoot a blue shell your way or knock you off when jumping across the mushrooms.

Toad’s Factory
A varied track with an industrial setting, the main feature here is a bunch of multiple conveyor belts each going the opposite way. However, the bit I find more tricky is right at the end where you must drive over the speed pads to ensure the mud doesn’t slow you down. The shifting banks on either side don’t help!

Flower Cup
Mario Circuit
An easy figure-of-eight track with a single Chain Chomp that can be avoided by either going offroad behind the chain to use the speed ramp or keeping to the outside lane of the track whilst going round the corner.

Coconut Mall
The first of the tracks where the obstacles really begin to grate, particularly at the end where the cars do their utmost best to get in your way whilst ignoring the Wii opponents. Keep a close eye on the mall escalators and use the ones that are going up.

DK Snowboard Cross
A fast track that, despite the name, isn’t at all slippery. In fact, the snow drifts are fiendishly placed to slow you down. Despite that, I like this course lots and the fabulous soundtrack spurs you on to victory whilst the annoying snowboarders at the end are not too hard to avoid.

Wario’s Gold Mine
Set in the old West, this pain-in-the-ass course has a couple of blind rollercoaster sections with sheer drops and a railroad complete with trucks to bump you off the track. A yee-haa soundtrack suits it perfectly but it’s a rubbish course overall which, inexplicably, is far too popular online.

Star Cup
Daisy Circuit
One of my favourite tracks, this breezy seaside course has a couple of roundabouts but otherwise is a very pleasant drive with wide corners and plenty of cones to knock over. The accompanying summery tune suits it perfectly.

Koopa Cape
An exciting fast flowing course with an underwater section that explores the tranquility of the cape depths, the key here is to ensure you stay in the current as much as possible to get ahead. The soundtrack changes nicely when you dive into the water and then later emerge on ground.

Maple Treeway
Set in the windy treetops, this is another exciting course complete with two giant Wigglers. Another stellar soundtrack suits the autumnal themed track perfectly whilst the speed ramps ensure you’ll be kept busy tricking out.

Grumble Volcano
Far too much going on here with subsiding ground, fire bombs, moveable platforms and a load of other bullshit to ensure you’ll rarely play this track other than to unlock the hidden content. Damn those bloody fire bombs!

Special Cup
Dry Dry Ruins
Similar to Desert Hills, Dry Dry Ruins has some tight corners and plenty of sand to plug through and slow you down. All things considered, it could have been a lot worse though and for a Special Cup track, it’s not at all as bad as it could have been.

Moonview Highway
A very exciting course set at night along a highway with oncoming traffic that must be avoided. There’s a toll booth that gives way to a very fast wide open section of the track with multiple speed pads that can be strung together to race ahead of the pack towards the finish line.

Bowser’s Castle
Along with Grumble Volcano, this is my least favourite track on Mario Kart Wii and a total cack-fest with simply too much going on. Visually impressive and inventive but forget any notion of actually racing, you’ll spend half of your time cursing the horrid track design and the other half desperately avoiding all the rubbish littering the course.

Rainbow Road
I used to hate this circuit and haven’t found many who disagree. However, it’s grown on me over the years simply because the one thing about Rainbow Road is that, despite the difficulty, it’s generally a fair track that punishes you for your own lack of skill. As with most other Rainbow Road’s, this one has a lovely uplifting soundtrack.

 

RETRO COURSE
All of these courses have appeared in previous Mario Kart games and I generally prefer them far more than the new tracks.

Shell Cup
GCN Peach Beach
Simple enough course with some rather tiresome duck type opponents who chase after you and chuck you into the air if you’re not (hehe!) quack enough. Watch out for the deep water and boost across the shallow bits for shortcuts.

DS Yoshi Falls
One of the most boring and shortest tracks in the Mario Kart world, this one is just a basic oval. Acceptable in the DS version but just cheap for the Wii.

SNES Ghost Valley 2
A creaky old house setting complete with cackling Boo ghost’s and a soundtrack straight from Scooby Doo, this course is just too short and the gloomy darkness with right angled corners make it somewhat annoying.

N64 Mario Raceway
This has everything a good track should have; long straights, some challenging corners, a few obstacles, but not so many as to put you off, and some devious shortcuts to annoy your mates with.

Banana Cup
N64 Sherbet Land
A total bullshit ice track, this one is arranged in a star shape with slippery tight corners and a horrible cave section with marauding penguins. Good job it’s the first course in the cup as it’s one of those nasty ones where the Wii opponents waste no time in cheating.

GBA Shy Guy Beach
Never played the original but I already know I’d hate it, this is yet another rubbish track where the obstacles, in the form of scuttling crabs and bombs, are placed in front of you at every opportunity whilst neatly avoiding the Wii opponents.

DS Delfino Square
Everyone’s favourite, this is a nice lengthy course with long straights and a winding narrow alley. It almost makes up for having to play through the previous two awful tracks.

GCN Waluigi Stadium
If you’ve ever seen a monster truck show at a stadium, this is basically the same. Lots of ramps to trick off and a cheeky soundtrack to boot, the thing to watch out for here are the muddy areas that slow you to a crawl.

Leaf Cup
DS Desert Hills
One of two desert courses, they all tend to have the same characteristics; avoid the sand and take any shortcut with a speed boost where possible. This one has some very tight corners to bank that will test your drifting skills.

GBA Bowser Castle 3
A long course with fast straights, Thwomps and right angled corners. I’ve always liked the Bowser Castle tracks and this one’s no exception. The frantic doom-ridden music makes it seem quicker than it has any right to be.

N64 DK’s Jungle Parkway
This is a lush, tropical course complete with a steamboat, rickety old bridge and cave section. The final bend is surprisingly tricky to tackle but otherwise, this is a really nice track packed with plenty to see.

GCN Mario Circuit
Not the best Mario Circuit and the piranha plants on either side mean you have to try and stay in the middle of the track. The Monty Moles don’t help either because you can bet that the Wii will stick them right in your path.

Lightning Cup
SNES Mario Circuit 3
The early Mario Circuit’s are fairly boring and this one is like most that fall into the bucket; rubbish music, far too short and ample opportunity for the Wii opponents to kick your ass with cheap shots.

DS Peach Gardens
My favourite track, I love this on the DS and it’s even better here with a beautifully animated palace garden complete with maze and lurking Chain Chomps.

GCN DK Mountain
The other retro DK track here and just as lush but set on a mountain top. This one is trickier than Jungle Parkway comprising hairpin bends and much faster when barrelling down the hills but it has similar elements otherwise. And like all DK tracks, I enjoy it lots!

N64 Bowser’s Castle
A storming track which winds it way through both the inside and outside of Bowser’s Castle. This has mainly Thwomps as obstacles but never so much in a tiresome way that makes it seem unfair. Plenty of fast straights and an ingenious indoor section where the Thwomps sail over your head and try to crash down right in front of you.


320×320 QVGA games for Samsung Omnia Pro B7330

Wednesday 5 October 2011 @ 1:34 pm

Despite Microsoft having abandoned their ancient yet wonderfully flexible smartphone platform for the pile of social media obsessed junk that is Windows Phone 7, there are still plenty of stellar Windows Mobile handsets available.

One of the more unique ones is the Samsung Omnia Pro B7330 running Windows Mobile 6.5 Standard which not only happens to be one of the very last handsets made for the platform but also pretty much the finest Windows Mobile smartphone of them all, reason being that it’s the only one ever made that has a 320×320 square resolution.

This is great for messages and Internet browsing as well as menu’s and grids where the extra screen estate comes in handy for showing more items. However, it does also mean that not all games will work full screen given that the standard screen size for Windows Mobile Standard is QVGA portrait (240×320) or landscape (320×240).

Some QVGA landscape games work fine with an ugly black border at the bottom of the screen covering the extra space whilst a few portrait games also work well although they tend to shoved over to the left side in a window so the display behind is visible.

Surprisingly though, I’ve found a healthy number of games that work flawlessly in full screen so you get to see everything in glorious 320×320 resolution. Here’s the list which also includes games that work in QVGA portrait or landscape mode centred with borders but without running in a window or messing up the display.

Age of Empires III
Arvale Journey of Illusion
Astraware Bejeweled 2
Astraware Casino
Astraware GTS World Racing
Astraware Hexic
Astraware Insaniquarium Deluxe
Astraware Mozaki
Astraware My Little Tank
Astraware Platypus
Atomic Cannon
Civilization IV
Dance Dance Revolution
Dungeon & Hero
EA Mobile Need For Speed Undercover
Handmark Games Tetris
Hexxagon Labs (controls are inversed)
Momentium Games Pocket Mini Golf 2
Namco Pacman
OmniGSoft Volcano Island
Resco Defender
Tetris Pop
Tilelander
Traffic Jam 2
Virtual Pool Mobile
Wimbledon 2009
Worms 2008 A Space Oddity