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Archive for the 'gaming' Category

Zobmondo!!

Posted: January 18th, 2005, by Simon Proffitt

One of the many cool things I got for Christmas was Zobmondo!! That Crazy “Would You Rather” Game (exclamation marks not mine. It amuses me to think that if you were to go into a games shop and ask for Zobmondo, or Zobmondo!!!!!, the assistant would stare blankly and tell you they’d never heard of it, and you’d have to repeat the word, changing your intonation slightly until you managed to vocalise the two exclamation marks, and then they’d say ‘Oh, Zobmondo!!, yes we’ve got loads of them on the shelf over there, in between Game of Life! and Pass The Pigs!!!!!!’).

Now, B., a friend of mine, has been asking Would You Rather questions for years, but they invariably involve the imbibing of bodily fluids. His latest one is ‘would you rather drink a pint of semen, a pint of pus or a pint of phlegm?’, and it’s made pretty clear in the framing of the question that ‘None’ is not an option. Usually there’ll be a clause that you have to choose one otherwise unspeakable things will be done to you and everyone that you’ve ever loved. It’s an interesting one for sure, but the decision’s pretty easy for me, seeing as two of those are generally the result of infection and one is healthy, protein-rich, life-giving juice. Ahem.

Anyway, the game is great fun, and is based on you having to predict which option your team-mates will choose. When 12 of us played over New Year, my team lost, basically over a disagreement about whether I’d rather eat 4 banana skins or a medium sized cardboard box. Here are some random sample questions:

Would you rather be the world’s tallest person, or the world’s shortest?

Would you rather chew the toenails off a dirty man’s foot or thoroughly lick his unshowered armpit?

Would you rather spend a long-haul flight next to a huge sumo wrestler or a screaming baby? (personally I’d rather spend the flight next to a huge silent baby)

Would you rather know exactly how but not when you’re going to die, or exactly when but not how?

Would you rather have one genius and one idiot for children, or two thoroughly average kids?

Would you rather have all ten of your fingers broken one by one, or the little finger on your non-dominant hand chopped clean off?

Would you rather be stuck in a lift with TV evangelists or circus clowns?

Would you rather walk ten miles with shoes one size too small, or with underwear three sizes too small?

There are hundreds of these, but we started making our own up, and B. developed a new technique – rather than ask about bodily fluids, he started asking about abstract concepts versus material objects and such like. These became ‘Which do you prefer?’, such that the one you don’t choose gets destroyed/prevented from existing. For instance:

Which do you prefer, tables or Scotland?

Which do you prefer, militancy or disappointment?

Which do you prefer, shoes or fruit?

Which do you prefer, grass or heat?

Which do you prefer, being lied to by a maternal grandparent or grazing your knee on gravel?

Which do you prefer, nitrogen or dogs?

It says on the game box ‘1 to 2 hours of fun’ – I think they’re being a bit cautious there. It’s now the 18th January, and we’re still at it.

DS! DS!

Posted: May 12th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

At last, at last, E3 is here which means Nintendo DS revealed!. Hurray for Nintendo – this actually looks fantastic, particularly the idea of multiplayer DRAWING madness. New “non-kiddie” Zelda should shut up the moaners as well. And Animal Crossing DS! Woooo!

Wario Ware, Inc

Posted: April 29th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I’m sorry all my posts are about gaming recently (I’m not really) but I’ve just been playing Wario Ware, Inc on my Gameboy and laughing out loud. I always knew I’d like this game but I’ve rarely seen it full price and finally saw it secondhand at the weekend. I was not prepared for this amount of hilarity though. It’s basically a non-stop barrage of mni-games which are thrown at you and then immediately taken away again before you’ve had half a chance to react. It’s also done in the most ridiculous old-skool graphics ever. There’s nothing like a mobile phone emoticon shouting BOUNCE at you followed by a game in which a stick man is bouncing in the air requiring you to move a trampoline below and catch him. Then DRESS ME as clothes fall from the sky and you move Wario underneath to clothe himself. Then CHOP as you hit A when the power bar is red to get a chalk-drawn man to karate chop a tree trunk. Then GRAB as you help Wario catch his pint of beer as it slides across the bar. It’s mentalism gone mad. I’ve just completed the Nintendo level (“WOW, marcy, you rock!”, it tells me!) playing mini 5 second versions of Zelda (ENTER THE CAVE!), Super Mario (SQUASH!) Donkey Kong, Duck Hunt and other classics with hilarious results. Ah well, whatever. At least it keeps me off eBay the streets.

Field Trip

Posted: April 27th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

(Apologies for the lack of updates – there’s been something up with the diskant FTP so no blogging or anything else)

Anyway, my dad was down visiting at the weekend so we had another Sunday afternoon jaunt to The Lighthouse to see some poncey art and design.

My main reason for suggesting this was an exhibition called Field Trip which I’ve been seeing advertised around the place. Basically five groups of people making journeys in Scotland and “where they went, what they saw and what they brought back”. I thought my dad would like this, he being fond of walking and Scottish history.

Turns out I loved this exhibition myself. The five journeys were all between different places and with different aims. So one group went on the ferry to Bute to see how things have changed since the days when this was a regular holiday jaunt for Glaswegians, another group went through Falkirk along the canal routes and another up the roads to Glencoe noting the signs and notices along the way.

Laid out as five long display units you could view maps of the journeys, the photographs, drawings and notes of the travelers and 3D architectural maquettes of the main locations with their symmetrical trees and step-graded hills. Along the bottom were laid out the items that the groups brought back, from tourist souvenirs to bits of bark. And then at the end were videos showing parts of the journey and geographical and historical information panels.

The main idea of the exhibition seemed to be to remind people about all the interesting stuff right on our doorstep and try and get us all getting out and about. It certainly worked for me as the Bute display reminded me of how much fun it had been to go on the train and ferry to Rothesay with Mogwai and that there was all this stuff that we could have seen there if we hadn’t spent it breaking our ears. I’m also amazed by the Falkirk Wheel and have vowed to go see it in real life at the next opportunity.

So if you’re in Glasgow in the next few weeks then get yourself to The Lighthouse (they also do wonderful shortbread and have the ponciest, greatest, most expensive shop ever). If not, have a think about your local places of interest that you’ve never actually been to or your childhood haunts that you haven’t seen for years. And send us a postcard if you visit them!

Also, apart from the usual trip to IKEA my dad’s other plan was to buy a new GC game, he having completed his racing game. While we chortled over Pokemon Channel and its rapidly decreasing price ticket in every shop we visited, our dad found himself a likely looking new racing game. Upon getting home he then discovered he had liked his old racing game so much he had bought himself another copy! Now, if only he’d bought Mario Kart. “Oh no! I thought this was a different crazy mushroom monkey dinosaur italian plumber racing game. D’oh!”

Playstation

Posted: April 13th, 2004, by Chris Summerlin

I have been thinking about getting a Playstation but they cost so much and I don’t have the time to use them. Talking of which my finances are a nightmare because of my car. I love my car but TWENTY THREE MILES A GALLON. Jesus. And it’s hardly a fanny magnet.

The joys of Animal Crossing

Posted: April 2nd, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I’ve been thinking a lot about gaming recently and why, after 4 or 5 months of Gamecube ownership, I still only own three games. The reasons I put down mostly to lack of money, waiting for my sister to just buckle down and kill Ganondorf so I can borrow Wind Waker and that the two games I was playing (Majora’s Mask off the free Zelda disc and Billy Hatcher) were just TOO HARD and/or too time consuming.

My favourite games are the Zelda and Pokemon series and my favourite parts of them are just wandering around collecting stuff. You can guarantee I’ll have done all the sidequests way before I get anywhere near the final dungeon.

My least favourite gaming experiences have been bosses and impossible (to me) puzzles, usually involving jumping. I’ve lost count of how many games I’ve completed to the final boss and then got frustrated never to return and see the world saved.

(Coincidentally, there’s a similar thoughts going on at the Do You See? blog)

Thank goodness, then, for Animal Crossing. None of my friends seem to understand the appeal of this game and my best shot at describing it has been, “imagine an RPG without any bosses, or any plot”.

Basically the game runs in real time as you go about your daily life in a town populated with up to 15 animals. Every day you read your mail, buy clothes and furniture at the shop, go fishing or bug catching, chat to your neighbours, write letters, do errands, dig up fossils for the museum etc. There’s no plot whatsoever. You can work towards getting a perfect town, a completed museum and a huge house or you can just re-arrange your furniture and play NES games in your basement.

I was looking around today to see if anyone had started an Animal Crossing blog which I think could be really funny in the right hands. Instead I stumbled across a discussion on www.gamegirladvance.com which I found interesting for a number of reasons, the main one being how you only need to play Animal Crossing for 15-45 minutes at a time. I hadn’t quite realised that this what I most enjoy about AC – getting home of an evening, loading up AC and just reading my mail, checking the shop and chatting with the animals. And then I can switch it off and get on with all the other stuff I need to get done or get more involved as I try to pay off my debt and get some new trees to grow.

This is why it would be a tragedy if Nintendo stopped making games. Forever accused of making kids games, what they actually make is accessible games, games that anyone can play. In some ways, yes, that does often mean they’re easy. But in other ways, it means you’re not frustrated from enjoying huge parts of the game because of a lack of skill. Instead you get an immersive experience where your friends are encouraged to help out or join in through connectivity or multiplayer. And surely gaming should be as much about entertainment as challenge. Even with Grand Theft Auto, for all the talk of what an amazing game it is, people I know seem to just spend most of their time arsing about, kicking in prostitutes and doing ridiculous stunts in fire engines, much to the general amusement of onlookers. Zelda and Animal Crossing for two I think are really fun games just to watch someone else playing.

Surely now it’s time for all games to have realistic difficulty levels where Easy can actually be completed by your little sister or your gran and SuperHard can give those people who will happily stay up half the night trying to complete a level a real challenge.

Or even better, can we just give Nintendo a monopoly on games? Aw, go on…

Nintendo News

Posted: January 23rd, 2004, by Marceline Smith

I’m not sure THIS was quite what I was expecting Nintendo’s secret new project to be (we had money on a genetically engineered live Pikachu, darn) but it certainly sounds intriguing: a palm-held two screen gaming gadget. My brain is unable to visualise what on earth this might look like so I’m looking forward to seeing some actual pictures, not least to see what Nintendo have done with the design. The idea of having a separate screen to look at different aspects of the game is a continuation of what they’ve been trying to do with the GBA-GC link up, something which hasn’t quite caught on yet. And that’s not surprisingly to us seeing as the two connective games we play have brought us Tingle and the lecherous, cucumber-obsessed Kapp’n. I am slightly afeared.

nintendo IS video games

Posted: January 17th, 2004, by Ollie

i wholeheartedly agree with everything mar-c said. as far as i’m concerned, nintendo IS video games, and i really don’t think i would bother with any of it if they weren’t around. for some time i’ve been getting increasingly annoyed at how the vast majority of new games are centered around killing people in the most brutal and realistic way possible, and now what’s even worse is that apparently people are falling for this crap to such a degree that it is hurting nintendo, who started it all if you ask me (obviously they didn’t, it was atari or someone, but i’m only old enough to remember the nes, and not a lot before it). it has crossed my mind more than once that all these soldier of fortune / medal of honor / socom / splinter cell games, and even the whole grand theft auto / getaway / manhunt / hitman 2 things, are all part of a vast government program to raise a generation of bloodthirsty and highly efficient killers, just in time for the impending onset of world war 3. maybe i’m just reading a bit too much into it, but give me mario or zelda anyday.

Leave Nintendo alone!

Posted: January 15th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

This article on BBC NEWS, GameCube fights to stay in the game, has had me gnashing my teeth. Few things annoy me more than Nintendo bashing and the general games industry’s willingness to write off Nintendo for supposedly making kids games (what does the look of a game have to do with gameplay, at which Nintendo excel?!). Having experienced the truly patronising attitude to Girl Gamer Buying Girls Console myself in GAME, it makes me seethe.

As pointed out further into the article, it’s not really surprising that Nintendo are failing to keep up in a sales battle between themselves, Microsoft and Sony. Although a big company, Nintendo are no megacorp and can’t throw money away on consoles knowing they can make it back on one of their millions of other products and markets.

I also really hate these console wars in general. In the good old days we had Nintendo vs Sega – basically doing the same things in slightly different ways. Now we have two new consoles who have stamped a truly western style on console gaming and pitching it perfectly at your average male gadget buyer who daydreams of killing people with fancy guns and driving flash cars into walls. With Sega no longer making consoles, Nintendo are out there alone in the ‘cutesy but innovative’ area and people often seem to forget that the majority of games Nintendo produce are aimed at the Japanese market who prefer these types of games (RPGs, puzzle games, Pokemon etc). If they have to compete with the Playstation and the XBox it means putting the US/UK markets first and making those types of games their priority.

The consensus seems to be that Nintendo should bow out of the console market gracefully and concentrate on making games, much as Sega has done. This would be hugely damaging to gaming I think, not least because of the innovations Nintendo has brought to consoles – compare any Nintendo controller to its respective competitors. And let’s not forget the Gameboy which has killed off every competitor who dared to try and break into the market. The launch of the new Sony handheld should be very interesting and very key to Nintendo’s future.

I have great faith in Nintendo though – they’ve always got something new, innovative and truly inspiring up their sleeves and I’m sure they can find a way to keep their niche in the face of generic games. If the worst does happen, gaming would be a very, very dull place without Nintendo.

What I’ve been up to

Posted: November 12th, 2003, by Marceline Smith

Hah, that Wolves! (of Greece)/Gringo news not being online is all my fault. I forgot to upload the updates Matt sent me. Duh. Go see here now: www.gringorecords.com. Lots of Gringo in the new, final Careless Talk Costs Lives which I’ve only browsed through quickly so far. Looking good though. I will surely miss it (if you can miss something when you could never find it in the first place..) but ET and Steve’s new projects sound Exciting so it’s not so sad.

I’m also putting a record out on my new Asking For Trouble label which is involving way too many forms and jargon. I’m normally great with forms (I could win a fastest DSS form filling competition for certain) but this is like suddenly losing all your brains. I had to go tackle some MySql databases to make myself feel clever again.

I watched the new Ghibli film, The Cat Returns, the other night after being told it wasn’t being shown at the GFT after all. I’d forgotten how difficult it is to keep up with subtitles while eating your dinner but the subtitles were pretty random so it didn’t matter too much. Once the story reached its climax the subtitlers obviously got bored and stopped subtitling for ages, leaving me highly confused. I ended up having to check the synopsis at Nausicaa to find out what the hell had happened. Anyway, translation traumas aside, it’s a fun little film though nowhere near Miyazaki standards. It’s all about a girl Haru who saves a cat’s life. Only he turns out to be the Prince of Cats and lots of cats from the Kingdom of Cats offer their thanks in many bizarre ways, eventually kidnapping her and turning her into a cat so she can marry the Prince of Cats. Oh no! etc. Luckily more cats in the shape of the Duke and his fat friend (who drowns temporarily in a vat of jelly in a truly Homer-esqe scene (Mmmm, jelly)) come and save the day. Cue elaborate escape scenes. Actually it’s got a similar feel as The Castle of Cagliostro, if everyone was cats.

I want to watch Totoro again now, particularly after reading an interview with Nintendo Hero Shigeru Miyamoto at Zelda.com (Flash required but it is lovely) where he mentions that he based much of the look of Zelda WindWaker with the Amazing Eyes on Totoro. Best film ever inspires best looking game ever. Speaking of, I completed Zelda Link to the Past the other night and now I need a new game. Suggestions please.