Game Over 1UP

January 7, 2009 at 7:47 (News, Video Games)

At this point, I think I might just turn to a life of crime.  For all intents and purposes, the great 1UP is dead.  Certainly the loudest of us, but also very likely the best of us, 1UP came to be an inspiration to many.  Its distinctive voice, its uniquely straightforward house style, its frank and formidable editors – how an institution like it has become could be so slap-dashedly disbanded I can’t profess to understand.

Is this the face of the economic crisis, at last?

Did Ziff do this?  I wonder.  Maybe I can blame the war on terror; hey, maybe Bush, why the hell not?  Osama must be so goddamned pleased about this, the bastard.

I’m honestly lost for words.  The 1UP podcasts meant more to me than I could possibly express.  Hell, they were friends – and now.   Now, who knows where they’ll land.

To Skip, to Ryan, to Philip and Nick, Jay Fresh, James Mielke, Anthony Galleigos, Matt, and to Shane, Shane above all others.  This is beyond my capacity to understand.  Maybe with more wine I will.  How that could possible be of help to you all, I’m afraid I fail to see.  May you all go on to better things together.  May the hippie enthusiast press live longer than it appears it has.  May this not be the end of it all, all that you’ve built.

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How the Amazons Killed Christmas

December 25, 2008 at 3:59 (News, Season's Bleatings)

Well, it’s Christmas alright.

Just got through wrapping the last few hit-and-run gifts I picked up in town today.  I know, I know: an actual shop.  I should know better by now, surely – and I do, largely, but there’s something to be said about the experience of an afternoon on the high street.  On the internet, you’ll find honest reviews and impressions and advice everywhere you look.  When it comes time to check out, you’ll have found exactly what you were looking for at a more reasonable price than you have any right to expect.  The thing of it is, though, that you’ll only ever find what you’re looking for.  I went into Stirling to fill in a few gift-giving blanks and came home weighed down by bags of bright ideas that I’d have been none the wiser for surfing through lists of bestsellers and recommendations on Amazon and Play.  For a few of my nearest, my dearest, Christmas morning will be all the better for today’s trip to town.

And for all that the internet gives, it’s worth remembering that it takes, too.  I can’t speak to how equal the measures are, but lately, at least, you don’t have to look hard to see how online shopping is hurting high street retail.  Strolling around the empty aisles of a soulless Woolworths earlier on, watching its remaining employees Scrooge around the store either because it was Christmas Eve or because they were losing their jobs (or because it was Christmas Eve and they were losing their jobs); you don’t have to look hard at all.  Woolies has always been a little of everything and not enough of anything, but it’s place in the high street of my mind is front and center.

All the run-down old stores in the arcade I used to love, gone.  All the seedy little haunts I hung around growing up, with nary a trace.  There’s no place for a second-hand bookstore with the sort of mark-ups owners are forced to levy just to stay in business when Amazon’s marketplace will gladly load you up with a mint copy of any old novel you can imagine for a fraction of the RRP and free postage to boot.  On one hand, I miss the musty, smokey smell of my old bookstores.  I miss the too-eager staff and the claustrophobic spaces and hunching over in whatever space I could find to read the back-cover blurb of a proudly named and coffee-stained Clive Barker.  All of these things, and so many other, but alas, there’s that nagging little question of convenience.

If I’m honest, I haven’t been to one of the very bookstores I like to claim as my own since since last Christmas.  Worse still, I turned my nose up at a book I suddenly realised I had to have today on the grounds that it’d be cheaper online – and what you know, it is.

It can be an absolute bitch, sometimes, to find out that you’re right.

Sincerely, though, I hope you all have a great Christmas.  Only remember: for every lovingly selected present you find under the tree in the morning, some poor soul is tearing the wrapping paper off a Russian doll of digital download codes.

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Le Festivitiesesies

December 16, 2008 at 17:28 (Hype, News)

It’s been quiet enough around these here parts that you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d lapsed back to the animal inside of me and taken to stalking the Hillfoots region for tasty tourist TV dinners.  Not so.  How on God’s greenish-brown earth I managed to let a month slip away with nary an update – for shame – I don’t know, but my drafts have languished too long in the ethereal WordPress backend, and my Uncertainites, you dear few, shouldn’t under any circumstance be made to stand for such ominous silence.

There’ve been video-game reviews falling out of my fingers like I don’t know what – I’ll spare you the usual self-congratulatory links until my LocoRoco 2 article goes live – and I’ve submitted a few freelance pieces to an assortment of enthusiast-press editors in the erstwhile.  I applied for a job based as far away from here as I can get without leaving the UK; counter-intuitively, I might add, as when all is said and do, I do rather enjoy it here.  So there was that.  Then there was Christmas, I say, as if the hard part was over.  I’ve still got presents to get and there are more decorations to be hung, but the tree’s up, at least, and a day window-shopping Amazon took care of most of my nearest and dearest’s gifts.  Excuso numero uno, however, has to be more work on the book.  It may actually be something; who’d have thunk it?

Anyway.  I mean for All Things to pick up some over the holidays.  First and foremost, it’s time for year-end Top Tens and the like.  There shall be talk of the best video games, of course, but also movies, TV shows and more.  Notable exceptions will likely include comics and music; I don’t know that I feel qualified to offer up my opinions on either of those media through 2008 – I’ve neither read nor heard enough for my particularly variety of judgements to be worth much to anyone.  Nonetheless, prepare for the good times to roll.

Roll up, roll up… down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A.

[Secret good times mode unlocked]

***

Soundtrack to this entry: Aimee Mann – Deathly (Live) *chuckles*

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All Your Basses Are Belong To Us

November 19, 2008 at 13:28 (Music, News, Reviews, Video Games) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

However misguided the R&B ambitions of Jack White and Alicia Keys’ Quantum of Solace may be, it’s been much too long, I fear, since I last indulged in such bombastic bass, and “Another Way to Die” fills that sweaty pit of sub-sound perfectly.

Still haven’t seen the movie, though.

So who saw this coming?

How Many Million Bicycles in Beijing?

How Many Million Bicycles in Beijing?

I’m enough of a dyed-in-the-wool Guns N’ Roses fan that this album already means more to me than the punchline I imagine much of the rest of the world will hear it as, but all the leaks have meant there are only five songs I haven’t already heard a hundred times over.  “There Was A Time” is still my favourite; I’m such an outright sucker for rock ballads I should be pelted with animal crackers until dead.

***

Two new reviews for you all to take a gander at.  Actually, come to think of it, six reviews, I suppose — the Puzzle Pack and the Power Pack collect together three PSN titles apiece.  The latter is decidedly the better of the pair, and while it’s great value for money – both are, but I’d sell my remaining grandparents for flOw – I can’t help but be a bit disappointed SCEE seem more intent on wringing a few more sales out of some middle of the road downloadable games than genuinely representing the unique strengths of the PlayStation Network.  Still.  A tenner and change makes for an incredible deal that’ll keep anyone with a PSP busy during what little downtime they have between the flood of triple-A console and PC releases.

Soundtrack to this entry: Donovan – Hurdy Gurdy Man

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True Story, Swear to God

November 7, 2008 at 14:43 (News, politics, The Funs, Video Games)

I’ll have a couple more appropriate updates for you all later on today and through the weekend – or at least I damn well beter; I’m juggling three different drafts at the moment and my browser’s buckling under the strain – but for now, consider me helpless.  Despite assurances to the contrary, how can I not point you fair discerning few to this incredible portrait of America’s new Big Mac?

Spacecoyotes Obama
Spacecoyote’s Obama

Rendered, in case you haven’t wasted enough of your life on video games to recognise as much, in the style of Okami, the superlative PS2 RPG which saw a Wiimake on Nintendo’s little white waggle-box earlier this year.  Whether or not a trail of flowers will flourish from out of nowhere wherever the new President-elect walks remains to be seen.  Cynical bastard that I am, I tend to suspect not, although the impromptu flashmobs that sprung up in San Franciso and much of the rest of America after the networks started calling it for Obama give me reason to hope I’m mistaken.  I often am, and there’s a sweet sort of eagerness to believe amongst the people out there cheering on street corners for the future of the United States that I’d hate to see reality betray.

But consider this the last Obama post for the forseeable.  This isn’t a political blog, after all, and I haven’t forgotten as much – it’s hard, on the other hand, not to get caught up in zeitgeisty excitement that’s come of America finally kicking out the George junior jams.  It may only a matter of time until everything goes tits-up again – isn’t it always? – but for now, it feels like this could be the beginning a brave new world.  However much Europe might hate on the United States, the level-headed understand how pivotal it is in the global climate.  If Obama lives up to the promises he made on the campaign trail, just imagine how different our worldview could be by the end of the decade.

Maybe a new Kyoto treaty finally gets through and global warming doesn’t melt us all.

Maybe stem cells aren’t dead babies anymore.  Maybe they save lives and change medicine forever.

Maybe we aren’t going to war with Iran, after all.  Or North Korea.  Or China.  Or one another.

Maybe the economy picks up some and I can start importing stuff from Amazon.com again.

Or maybe things are so thoroughly awful at the moment that we’ll hightail it after any old dream.  I can’t wait to be wrong.

In any case, with this and the achievement unlocked picture from bonfire night, plainly, yes, I’ve outed myself as one of those strange creatures who see major world events through the lens of video games.  Who’s up for an NPD number-driven review of the economic downturn?  The state of the media according to its portrayal of first-person shooters?

I thought not.  Fear not, precious uncertainites, the political posts are done.

***

Soundtrack to this entry: God is an Astronaut – God is an Astronaut (2008)

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Gamerscore Whore

November 5, 2008 at 18:23 (News, politics, Video Games)

No, fear not, I’m not back for another round of politics, just to quietly offer the following as an addendum to this morning’s post.

My My, Mr President, What An Excellent Gamerscore You Have...

My My, Mr President, What An Excellent Gamerscore You Have...

And it’s the youth of America what did this.  They came out in force, two in every three of them voting for Obama, and changed the face of the world in a single night.  Well done, little people

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Some Things Obama

November 5, 2008 at 8:21 (News, politics, Rants)

Damn, can anyone say landslide?

I was this close to posting late last night to cleverly predict that Obama would win the day but that it’d be tighter than anyone expected.  General tardiness saves the day again!

Patriot, President, Black Guy

Patriot, President, Black Guy

But out with the old and in with the new, I’m all for that.  Bush isn’t gone just yet but he’s been so powerless lately that I’d almost forgotten he was still shuffling around the White House in his special President slippers.  There’s a new sheriff in town and I can honestly say I’m pleased about it.  A mite surprised that so much of America turned out to make a choice I feared they’d balk at – and more than a touch taken aback that a black Democrat beat out a gun-totin’ Vietnam vet with the heft of the South behind him – but pleased.  Here’s hoping he’s as excellent as the most powerful man in the world as he has been a public speaker.

I’d still rather have Martin Sheen, though.  MS and all.  I so wish that were the world…

Ah, Jed...

Ah, Jed...

One tantalising plot thread remains unresolved, however!  Where will Sarah Palin go next?  Whatever will become of the scene-stealing guest star that took the United States by storm?  Will it be Saturday Night Live, or Hustler’s centre pages?  It’s up to you, America.

That’s it.  The politics are over.  I’m out.

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A Spoonful of Sugar

September 30, 2008 at 8:08 (News, Reviews, Video Games) (, , , , , , )

Can’t stop for long, but between articles for Blogcritics and a column on indie films I’m working on, I wanted to take a moment to pimp another of my reviews over at AceGamez.  This time I’m gently poking fun at Opoona, ArtePiazza’s junior RPG for the Wii.  Here’s the intro text:

“Former Square Enix assistants ArtePiazza finally break out of the Dragon Quest grind with a new, original series. Sadly, despite an excellent soundtrack and an ambitious Skate-inspired battle system controlled entirely using the Nunchuck, the eponymous Opoona’s adventure is an experience measured at all times by a desire to achieve crossover success with the casual Wii crowd.

This isn’t My First RPG by any stretch of the imagination, but poor level design and a dodgy camera will test the patience of core gamers. If you can swallow that, you could well love Opoona…”

Click through here to read the rest, if you please.  First person to spot the sneaky porn lingo I snuck past my editor wins an official All Things Uncertain no-prize!

Here’s something to ponder in the meantime: do I want to uproot my life and move to London to take a job with Gamespot UK?

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Signs of the End Times

September 10, 2008 at 9:06 (News, Rants, Tech) (, , )

This is why I’m going to be alright when Google eventually takes over the world.  Not best pleased, you know, but alright with it.

Large google Collider

Large Google Collider

On the other hand, we’re still alive – yay?

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The End is Nigher

September 9, 2008 at 8:53 (News, Rants, Tech) (, , , , , )

Here it comes.

Do you see it?  Can you feel it approaching?

Starsuckers Inc.

Starsuckers Inc.

On Wednesday, CERN are finally booting up the Large Hadron Collider, the high-energy particle accelerator that’s been whipping up the blogosphere of late.  The wiki is a little pompous, so let’s say that it’s designed to test the current model on which particle physics is based; to push the boundaries of what even quantum theory (as we don’t know it) can explain.

Physically, the LHC is a concrete-lined underground corridor with massive arrays on either end that snakes some 27 kilometres beneath the border of France and Sweden.  In less than 24 hours, an admittedly well-organised mob of mad scientists mean to pump highly charged protons at incredible speeds down the length of the tunnel.  They’ll be slingshot around the bends of the tunnel, getting faster and faster and more and more powerful until at last, they collide – and when that happens, well.  Who knows.

Read the rest of this entry »

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