RIP Lik-Sang.com

Lik-Sang announced yesterday that they were shutting up shop because of the weight and volume of the lawsuits being thrown at them by Sony. Sony claimed that Lik-Sang weren't offering consumers the kind of safe, quality hardware that the consumers were used to (read: Sony wanted complete control over each region's retail channels). This is just the latest in a long line of dumb, half-assed or just plain mean-spirited moves that Sony has pulled that makes me hope that, for the good of the industry, Sony is no longer the market leader when we reach the next generation of videogames.

The Lik-Sang news bums me out for a whole bunch of reasons. Mainly because I really, really liked Lik-Sang. They're one of the few online shops that I've had 100% satisfaction with, always going above and beyond the basics of shipping me out the things I want - usually throwing in free stickers, coupons off next purchases, lanyards etc. When I bought my DS Lite from them, they packed in so much extra stuff, it felt like all my Christmases had come at once. In May.

But I'm also bummed out because it means that it's even more difficult for me to get a hold of decent games while they're still relevant. For example: Okami is an awesome game. With a narrative similar to Zelda and a visual style all its own, it has been frequently used to support the idea that videogames can be art. But I wouldn't know about that because, despite having been released in Japan in April of 2006, it won't be hitting our shores until February 2007 (and given that its developers just folded, a European release might even be on the cards).

Today, when my copy of Daigasso! Band Brothers arrived from Lik-Sang, it hammered it home for me - this was the last time this wonderful shop would help me get my hands on some wonderful games.

For European gamers, the short end of the stick just got even shorter.

Horrorthon 2006 →

Picked up my tickets for this year's Horrorthon. I've usually gone to one or two showings each year, but this is the first year I've been interested enough to buy a full festival ticket. Highlights for me are

I've added this year's program to Google Calendar and upcoming.org.

Anyone else going?

Xtorrent Public Beta

Might I suggest that all Mac users reading this hurry to their nearest browser and download the public beta of Xtorrent, the new application from David Watanabe who also wrote Acquisition, Inquisitor and NewsFire (my favourite RSS reader).

Things I love about Xtorrent

  • It's solid. Oh so solid. Stupid Bitrocket would crap out on me if I so much as looked at it funny

  • In-application searching and downloading. Which translates into: no more fucking around on dodgy sites with equally dodgy ads ("HORNY GIRLS IN ballyfermot ARE WAITING FOR YOU") looking for the latest episode of Lost.

  • Upload and download rate limiting! You have no idea how much I've wanted this - it's one thing limiting uploads, but when you're sharing a network with a bunch of people, you don't want to saturate the download connection.

  • It's so freakin' pretty I swear, David Watanabe is like the Zinedine Zidane of the Mac software development world. Everything he does has beauty, elegance and style. And he'll floor you with one headbutt if you say anything mean about his mother.

(note to self: link to the thing you're blogging about, dummy)

Wii details revealed

Three days of Nintendo confrences, three days of non-stop Wii information. Here's the bits we care about:

Wii will launch in Ireland on December 8th for EUR250. It will come with a Wii-mote, a nunchuck controller and a copy of Wii sports. Zelda will be available at launch, as well as the new Super Monkey Ball. The games are expected to cost between EUR49 and EUR59.

After hearing that the Wii will be launched in the US in November and Japan on December 8th, I was half expecting Nintendo to push the European release back to Q1 2007. So I'm thrilled about this - I've already cleared off a Gamecube-sized space under my telly in anticipation.

On a similar note, anyone want a well-used Gamecube?

Breakdown (1997) - Kurt Russell

I love the premise behind Breakdown. Its logline is deliciously appealing: A couple are driving across the country when their car breaks down, the wife gets a lift to the nearest town to call for help, the man eventually gets his car going again and follows his into town, except noone has seen the wife.

It's then that the movie starts to go downhill.

And there's a lot going for the movie. Kurt Russell gives one of his most underrated performances as an everyman in extreme circumstances, and the score by Basil Poledouris (who also did the killer score for Conan the Barbarian) is wonderfully Bernard Hermann-esque. But it's... wait, what's that moving in the corner of my eye?

And what's that noise?

OH FUCK, IT'S A BEE.

AND NOT JUST ANY BEE. IT'S HUGE! LIKE SOME FUCKING UBERBEE. GOOD FUCKING CHRIST, IT'S COMING THIS WAY! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! RUN AWAY!

Okay, now I've got a glass door between me and the bee. Time to think this one out. Jesus, I can still hear it through this glass. That's so big. Maybe H. will know what to do.

...

Well, that was no fucking help. Put it under a glass?! It's bigger than every glass we have! I could maybe try putting it under a vase, except every vase we have is in the room with the bee. And what if he gets wind of what I'm up to? He'll go spare and sting the shit out of me.

Hang on. He's just hitting the patio door. He just wants out. Maybe I can just open the door and let him out! Okay, I'll just go back into that room and... wait, what the shit am I doing? I need to arm myself here. Defend myself. Magazines! Aha! I knew reading on the toilet would come in useful one day. Now I've got a giant copy of Edge in case this little shitbag gets any ideas. H., did you just call me a 'fucking pussy'? I'll let you away with that because you're still in bed and HAVEN'T SEEN THE SIZE OF THIS GODZILLA-BEE.

Here we go. Softly, softly. Oh no! He's stopped buzzing around! He's onto me! No, wait. He's just resting. Keep going. Keep... going... COCKING HELL, HE'S THE SIZE OF MY FUCKING HAMSTER! And wait, don't they say that bees are especially ornery this time of year because they're all dying from the cold? That's not good. Why did I even remind myself of that? Am I trying to sabotage myself? Okay, easy big fella, I'm here to help. Just a friendly guy with a friendly magazine, trying to help. This isn't good. This isn't good. Almost there! Hand is on the key now. Turning the key! OH SHIT HERE HE COMES, HE'S COMING TO KILL ME! OPEN THE DOOR! NOW RUN! DON'T STOP RUNNING!

Is he gone? Is he gone? I can't tell if he's gone, I'm sobbing too hard.

He's gone!

I need a lie down.

Rollercoaster of emotions

Here's some things from the past couple of weeks. Get ready for some old news.

Steve Irwin dies - Boo!
It's been over a week and I'm still gutted about this. Steve Irwin was always, always entertaining and his unflinching upbeat outlook never once failed to cure me of whatever blues I had. I'm running out heroes.

MGM are making a sequel to Wargames - Yay!
Some of my favourite films are sequels. Some of my favourite films are about nerdy things and have cute little bleepy soundtracks. It's a marriage made in heaven! The news report also mentions a sequel to Into the Blue which, as big dumb movies go, is really rather good.

Entourage is fucking awesome - Yay!
Okay, so this isn't exactly news, but hey - you come here for news? Seriously, this show is fucking killer - I threw it onto my computer and we watched almost all of Season 1 on the flight home when we should have been sleeping to beat jetlag. You know a show is special when you're willing to take a bullet like that for it.

My DVD inbox has grown to over 125 movies - Boo!
This wasn't helped by my visit to Newbury Comics in Boston. Their Criterion Collection section was both expansive and cheap. If I watch one movie a day, it will still take me over four months to get through them all. Thank fuck Big Brother is over and we can get our NTL disconnected.

Yeah, Dead Rising is great...

...but not that great. I was talking to a couple of people about this game. It seems as if most people who downloaded the 15-minute demo from Xbox Live were pretty disappointed by the full game. This seems to be a combination of the developers' decision to start you off with a basic set of stats (since an RPG stats-building feature seems to be required in all games these days), which means that your character is next to useless at the start of the game. The demo throws you in at the halfway mark, where he can do most things without much trouble.

Then there's also the way the game starts. The zombies invade the mall and you have to escape with everyone else in that part of the mall. Except you can't save them. And so the game throws up massive messages to tell you THIS PERSON DIED and then THAT PERSON DIED. So, within the first five minutes of starting play, you've got the videogame equivalent of YOU FUCKED UP YOU FUCKED UP YOU FUCKED UP YOU SHOULD REALLY PUT THE CONTROLLER DOWN BECAUSE YOU FUCKED UP AGAIN

Describing it as 'disheartening' doesn't even come close. And don't get me started on the save system. Jeez.

Thank God then for Lego Star Wars II! So much fun in such a little box!

Westward Ho!

Well, I've got my pronunciation of "Chowdaaah" down pat, so I'm heading off to Cape Cod and Boston for the next couple of weeks. This means posting will be even patchier than usual around here. Providing my camera behaves (and I can find internet access in Cape Cod - the nearest Starbucks is 13 miles from where I'm staying), I'll be updating my Flickr.

See yis soon!

Google maps 37Signals with Flickr iPod →

H. pointed me to the awesome Cory Doctorow Visits a Radio Shack. It's completely hilarious and very well written. My favourite bit:

(AWKWARD SILENCE)

CORY DOCTOROW: Google maps 37Signals with Flickr iPod.

EMPLOYEE: What?

CORY DOCTOROW: I didn't say anything. Now, about this cell phone…

The phrase "Google maps 37Signals with Flickr iPod" has been adopted as a convenient shorthand for when I make a simple problem more complicated by adding layer upon layer of technology. Take last night, for example.

"So I'll put our itinerary into my Google Calendar, subscribe to it in my iCal and then synchronize that to my phone with Bluetooth"

"Couldn't you just put it on some paper?"

"Yes, but..."

"Google maps 37Signals with Flickr iPod"