Game On, London

My girlfriend is amazing. Despite the fact that she can barely tolerate videogames, she still whisked me away to London last weekend, just to bring me to the Game On exhibition in the Science Museum, where I could play virtually every game ever made, on every system ever made. Just think about this for a second: this is like someone who is lactose intolerant having a milkshake with you, just because it’s your birthday.


I got to play SpaceWar*! And Space Invaders! And Steel Battalion (with the huge controller)! And the old Star Wars Arcade game! And a Playstation 3!

Actually, this last one wasn’t that amazing.

They were running a demo of the racing game, Motorstorm. When I took the controller, I noticed that the controller wasn’t set up to use the motion control. So I went to quit the current race and turn it on. Except, on this pre-release hardware, running this pre-release demo, clicking “quit” causes the machine to freeze. Hard. The PlayStation 3 itself was enclosed in a plastic box, so they started by trying to squeeze a bent metal coathanger through one of the ventilation holes to hit the ‘reset’ button. When this didn’t work, they had to get a drill to remove the plastic box.

Fortunately, my amazing girlfriend was on-hand to document the faces I made as people scrambled about with power tools trying to fix the obscenely expensive piece of consumer electronics I just broke.

PS3 at Science Museum

Yeah, she’s amazing.

More photos from my trip up on Flickr

* – running beside a PDP-1, but not on a PDP-1


Elite Beat Agents

If Full Spectrum Warrior can be used to train soldiers in the US Army, I don’t understand why crisis negotiators and bomb disposal teams aren’t using Elite Beat Agents to train their new recruits. No other game comes close to teaching you the importance of staying calm under pressure like EBA.

Elite Beat Agents is the English-language version of Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, a cheerleading game which appeared on the DS in Japan a while ago. It’s basically a rhythm-action game, requiring you to tap the screen in the right place, in time with the music (the unbearably cute J-Pop of the original replaced with unbearably cute western pop in EBA). Simple, right?


The whole time you’re playing, your “Elite Meter” is trickling down. Tapping the screen at the right time will top this up slightly (How well you tap the screen in time with the music affects the amount that this gets ‘topped up’). Miss a note and your Elite Meter drops slightly. If your Elite Meter drops to nothing, it’s game over.

There’s a point, roughly halfway along your Elite Meter where it turns from yellow (fine) into red (danger!). Once you cross into the red, your on-screen cheerleaders stop cheering. They stand there, panting, until you manage to bring the Elite Meter out of the red. With all its liveliness and constant movement, the sight of your cheerleaders standing completely motionless, is the most distracting thing in the game.

If you get into the red, it’s very easy to drag yourself back out: all you need to do is score some perfect hits and boost your Elite Meter. But when you realise your cheerleaders aren’t dancing, you panic. You start keeping one eye on your Elite Meter. Then all sense of rhythm goes out the window and it’s virtually impossible to get the perfect hits you need. In other words, if you panic and lose focus, it’s game over. It took me a long time to learn this. Frustration almost drove me to shove the stylus through my DS while trying to crack “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, but I got there in the end.

So if you ever see a guy defusing a bomb and humming ‘Sk8r Boi’, don’t worry. You’re in good hands.

So far, Elite Beat Agents hasn’t been given a UK release, but DS games aren’t region-locked, so buy a copy from eBay and enjoy.

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iPhone and some questions

Apple did the expectedly-unexpected and announced the iPhone.

It’s a widescreen iPod mixed with a mobile phone mixed with a teeny-tiny Mac for Safari and Mail. Put simply, this is the most awesome piece of consumer electronics I have ever seen, so far. And I’ve seen a lot.

$599 for 8GB version.
$499 for 4GB version.

So, some questions:

  1. Released in June in the US, but Q4 2007 IN EUROPE?! WHYYY? Oh the humanity.
  2. 5 hour talk/video battery life, 16 hour audio battery life… but what’s the standby life?
  3. Who will be the carrier partner in Ireland? I’m guessing this will be O2, since they’ve got a lot of ties with Apple, but…
  4. Why partner with Google for the maps and search, but partner with Yahoo for the mail?
  5. How does it know where you are for the location-aware maps stuff? Cellular towers? Or is this a feature of 3G?
    Update: Answered in the actual keynote – there doesn’t seem to be any location-awareness in the phone. Steve had manually entered “Moscone West” as as ‘saved location’ in the maps application

  6. Are there any other differences between the two versions? Because I can’t imagine anyone not springing the extra $100 for the larger capacity one.
  7. What kind of graphics chip is powering this beast?

Oh yeah, and there was something about a media streamer that’s coming out in February, but who the shit really cares about that? Especially since it doesn’t even output in 1080p.


Indiana Jones 4 to start production in 2007



In a long-awaited announcement, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg revealed today that the fourth installment of Indiana Jones will begin production in June 2007. Harrison Ford returns in his role as the daring Dr. Jones for the new adventure. The film will be produced by Lucasfilm Ltd., directed by Steven Spielberg and released by Paramount Pictures throughout the world in May 2008.

You have no idea how happy this makes me.


101 Ways to Save Apple

In honour of today’s Macworld keynote (hoping for: iTV, Leopard release date), here’s a blast from the past: Wired’s 1997 article “101 Ways to Save Apple”.

Some of these are deliberately off the wall, but some of them have been adopted by ‘new’ Apple. For example:

98. Testimonials. Create commercials featuring real-life people in situations where buying a Mac (or switching to a Mac) saved the day.

So Wired is indirectly responsible for Ellen Feiss?


Radio controlled R2D2 … with built-in DVD player and projector?


So let me get this straight… it’s shaped like R2D2. It’s radio controlled. It’s got a DVD Player. It’s got a Projector. It’s got an iPod dock. It’s got a radio. It’s got USB inputs. It will play MP4 files. And its remote control is shaped like the Millenium Falcon?

I’m totally hard right now.

(via gizmodo)


What would Eddie Hobbs do?

Ten Thousand Euro, Shredded

Ten Thousand Euro, Shredded

This is ten thousand euros, in tens, twenties and fifties, completely shredded. Seamus gave it to me on Saturday at Rock and Roll Motherfucker in Voodoo.

And now I don’t know what to do. With enough effort, I could probably crack this open and sellotape all this back together. But is there more than EUR10,000 worth of effort involved? Either way, it’s still one of the most unique and depressing birthday presents anyone has given me.


Colours of the Incredibles

Pixar make some stunning movies. You could complain that their stories are pretty basic but from a visual standpoint, there’s no disputing their beauty.

One thing I love about these movies is the amount of effort that goes into choosing the colour palette for the movie. Yet, because of the speed of the action, this work barely even get noticed.

So what would it look like if we strip out the ‘image’ from these images, and leave only the colour information?

I used the Incredibles for this experiment because it’s my favourite Pixar movie so far. Incidentally, there’s an “Art of the Incredibles“-sized space on my bookshelf, in case anyone feels like filling it for me.
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