Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Travel Time Tube Map

Found this cool little Java applet called the Travel Time Tube Map, designed by Londoner Tom Carden via Annie Mole. The map reorganises itself based on the times of travel from the station you select on the map. It isn't the most useful LU map ever but it is cool nonetheless.



This is similar in concept to
Geoff's Travel Times map and Oskarlin's Time Travel Map although Tom's map is interactive and is geographically/time based. His other map maintains geographical layout but uses contours to convey the time needed to travel between stations.

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Tuesday talk

Lots of things to say today...

Over the past couple of months I have grown weary of blogging. It is such a tiring affair to force your opinions on people who wanted to hear your opinions but secretly didn't give a damn for your opinions. But I will still blog, don't you worry about it. Anyway Coffee Lover has a neat essay on the state of blogging.

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Pity the Lib-Dems. After all the negative publicity last month when it came down to the actually business of election, nobody gave a shit. Here is
one tucked away deep in the BBC site. Hell even I didn't know that the election is approaching its climax. And who the hell is Chris Huhne? Like David Cameron before him, how did he get from a nobody to a bookmaker's favourite?

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Yesterday, during my lunch break I was rushing past a GAME store hurrying to a cheap fast food. I doubled back when I noticed the sheets of white paper with the word "Xbox 360 in stock" plastered on the shop windows. So Microsoft has managed to replenish 360 stocks over the past week. I walked into the store and went straight to the back of the store where the preowned section was.

While digging through and admiring titles that I will never buy I stole a glance at the counter to check out what people were buying and whether people were actually buying into Microsoft's hype. This isn't a scientific study nor is it statistical. It is merely an observation.

It was a quiet afternoon (hei, it is a Monday). A lad stood in front of the PS2 section and playing his PSP. It was kinda distracting. Here was a guy playing his PSP in the middle of the store, not window shopping or anything. What a fucking tosser.

Anyway during the 5-10 minutes I was there nobody asked or purchased a 360. A father was asking one of the staff about The Sims 2 (6.5/10) while a kid the age of eight wanted Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (9/10) A bunch of kids were hovering over the PSP section looking through pricey UMD film titles. A lady bought Mario Party 7 while a twenty something guy bought We Love Katamari (8.5/10).

A couple was in the DS section debating which game to purchase. Someone also asked about the difference between the fat PS2 and the slim PS2. I then hovered above a DS demo pad but it had no game card in it! Somebody must have stolen it. The screen was scratched to hell. The guy next to me was waiting 10 seconds for Pro Evolution Soccer 5 to load on the PSP demo pad. Heh.

Feigning stupidity, I walked up to the counter and asked for the release dates to some games. Striking conversation with the staff I asked whether any 360 were sold that day. She said none before asking me whether I wanted one (cheeky). I said thanks but no. She was genuinely surprised by the lack of interest on the £280 console but she did mention that most were waiting for the PS3 and Revolution. After the dates were given (which I already knew anyway) I thanked her and scurried out before she attempted to sell me something I didn't need.

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I visited the V&A not a long time ago. It was an impulse visit. I happened to be in South Kensington anyway. I have heard about this exhibition that involved Sony. They call it the 'video art experience'. Right... 50 small flat screens were hanging from a giant chandelier with video feeds through or from a PSP. Whatever. I will leave the explanation to Jason Bruges through this rather old post.

Not wanting to waste my trip I did a quick wander around the museum. I have been here before a couple of times but you never ever get to see everything. The 20th century section has always disappoint me as it is only a small section. Of course there are rare things that you can please your eyes with in regards to the early 20th century European modernist movement.

Among the fine things you can find is a 1916 broadsheet which shows the famous Johnston sans serif type which is now the main type used by the London Underground, and a political experimental children's book titled Suprematicheskii skaz: pro dva kvadrata v 6-ti postroikakh by Russian Constructivist El Lissitzky. Other designs by European Dadaist and De Stijl designers are also on display. Further down you will find the famous Modernist tubular chair designed by Marcel Breuer when he was at the Bauhaus.



There will be more to see this April as a special exhibition on Modernism will be held at the V&A. Among the items on display is the 1931 diagrammatic LU map sketch by Henry Beck.

Technorati tags: Blogging

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hup Loong's Thick Gravy Rendang Curry



It has been a long time since I posted a food related post. Malaysian curry premix are difficult to come by in Britain and frankly most of them are pretty awful. Here is one I picked up last week made by a Penang based company called Hup Loong.



This is the lite version of what I was recommended to do. Just mix the rendang powder (in this case I used just half the pack) over the chicken and dump it into a wok. Fry them.



Coconut milk is recommended but today I used good old semi-skimmed. Just a dribble should do. Let it boil for a while. Dump some potatoes and onions in if you want to.



And serve. It was pretty average. It isn't as sweet as I would love it to be but many people have different perception on how rendang is supposed to taste. But it did fine to cure my evening hunger and frankly it is above average compared to the many craps that are saturating Chinese supermarkets.

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Only four more weeks to go. Four. Before Metroid Prime Hunters is released. In the US at least. Whatever (any reasonable person here will probably import it - I know I will). Some new screenies has been making its way across the Interweb today. British Gaming blog has those screenies up plus loads of other older ones.

I can't wait!

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Onna Otaku

Being a girl and a geek is now cool. In Japan at least.

Wired's feature Anatomy of a Nerd, this time focuses on the girl geek culture in Japan, with its 10 ways to identify an Onna Otaku.



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We are having a lively debate on the Guardian's gamesblog's chatterbox, on the issue of piracy. Check it out.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow review


Dawn of Sorrow is the second Castlevania game to take place in the dark future and is the sequel the the hit Aria of Sorrow game on the Gameboy Advance platform. Our hero Soma Cruz, the reincarnated Dracula returns, this time to battle a cult who worships god. However the cult also believes that if god exists so must evil - namely Dracula, and Soma Cruz isn't doing a good job as the dark lord at the moment - instead preferring to spend quality time with his girlfriend Mina Hakuba.


Dawn of Sorrow features Japanese anime/manga style character design

With Dracula's blood in his vein, it is fair to say he got all annoyed when he was attacked by Celia, the cult leader who has a master plan of replacing Soma with ideal candidates who can probably do their potential evil job better. Soma, being a 19 year old kid, gets all angst and seeks revenge (tsk, kids of the future, what will we do with them?) in the cult's headquarters - a replica of Dracula's castle. This is where the game begins.

*spoiler ends*


With Dracula's powers, Soma has a couple of abilities that are quite simply awesome. For starters he has the ability to absorb the souls of enemies he kills. With the souls, he gains their powers, much like those in Final Fantasy and uhm... Pokemon. Lucky guy indeed. This is similar to the gameplay in Aria of Sorrow. However this time Some has the ability to 'upgrade' the powers by acquiring multiple copies of the same soul.

The game retains the side scrolling Platform Adventure Action RPG style similar to 2D Metroid games (aka Metroidvania gameplay). You begin with a simple knife and as you progress through the game you can collect cash, items and souls. With them, you can upgrade your weapons, buy potions and other stuffs from the dodgy dealer Hammer and get cool new armour. As you kill more monsters, your experience level will increase giving Soma more offensive and defensive power, among other things.

Because this is for the Nintendo DS, the game takes place over two screens. The top screen can be toggled to show either a useful map or a detailed stats of Soma Cruz. The action takes place on the bottom screen. Touch screen is used in a couple of modes. One is called the Magic Seal where you have to draw symbols in order to finish off weakened bosses. This can get annoying and it feels as if Konami only introduced this gameplay because the DS had a touch screen.

The graphics is wonderful. As far as 2D sprites goes, this is as good as it goes and is a significant upgrade to Aria of Sorrow. Some in his trench coat is quite simply the coolest hero I have ever had the pleasure to play as. Enemy designs are wonderful with some bosses spanning almost the entire height of the screen. Such wonderful design and massive bosses gives this game a very epic feeling. The animation is detailed and you can even see Soma's aura when he moves - something I have never seen on a 2D portable game.

The audio takes advantage of the DS's superior speakers by improving over the GBA games. The soundtrack is mainly gothic and are all quite catchy with each area having its own theme. There are no voice acting apart from a couple of grunts, screams and laughter (all creepy). A wonderful collection of soundtrack that are mostly memorable.

Gameplay is similar to almost all 2D platformers where you control character movements via the D-pad and the other buttons are for toggling different actions. This is as simple as it gets. The game itself is quite easy once you get the hang of it. Due to upgradability of experience level, you may find yourself with dozens of weapons and souls by the time you meet for your real challenge. The castle is massive and finding every single soul took me quite some time.

This game is an excellent value due to its replayability. Among the bonuses you can find in this game is the wireless soul trade mode where you and your mate can trade souls. Nifty. A cooler bonus is the unlockable games, one of which is Julius mode where you can play as Julius and Yoko. Complete that (and Soma Cruz mode at 100%) and you can play as Alucard. How cool is that? Me? I haven't even begin the Julius mode but will probably do so when I am stuck in a long flight.

It has been out for quite some time and you should be able to find used copies of it in the bargain section. Still it is very rare. Screw the New Super Mario Bros. This is platformer at its very best.

8/10

Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Friday, February 24, 2006

Round-up

Who Frames Roger Rabbit to be banned? A great film. Compared to the craps that are coming/came out from China (Seven Swords, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero).

Blondes no more! Yes, thank you! Now hopefully the ripple effect has already begun. I can't stand oriental blondes.

A big fuss over nothing. London will have no elected voice for four weeks. A fucking disgrace.

update: I found this comment on the BBC quite apt:

I'm fed up with this situation of not being able to criticise people because they have a religion to hide behind. If you're Jewish and don't want to be compared to a Nazi then it is your responsibility not to behave like one. Equally, if you're Muslim and want people to respect your religion then you must respect other peoples religions. It's quite simple and it is NOT racist, anti-semitic, islamaphobic or any other term that religious people use to deny the fact that you actually have a point.

Nick, Reading, UK

Oh and it snowed yesterday.

Have a nice weekend. Trauma Center review next week.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What is so goddamn offensive about it?


source: Yahoo! News

I need some help here from my fellow bloggers/readers/whatever. Maybe I was born stupid, but can someone explain to me what is so goddamn offensive about the above comic strip?

I saw this strip a few days ago and waved it off-hand. These kind of strips are normal here so why should I care? It was just another bloody strip. Today I logged into a Malaysian blog portal and lo and behold, a crisis has erupted in the state when a daily decided to print the cartoon. Not once. But twice!

Jolly. Another small incident that was sensationalise by bloggers to a national political level! I needed understanding (I am slow you see) so I logged into the BBC and searched for any newspiece related to "Malaysia cartoon episode two". None. So I waited a few hours for Jonathan Kent to summarise it for me. He did not.
I sulked for a few minutes before deciding to pull up a couple of blogs and read about what happened. The mass media hasn't caught wind about this so one-sided blogs had to make do for the time being. One of them striked me as very boring but it did contain loads of readers comment.

Here is the short version of what happened. Daily published cartoon. When criticism found their way to a couple of police stations (they do not have organisations like the Press Complaints Commission - correct me if I am wrong) editor decided to reprint the cartoon the next day. An excellent offensive move sir, but not a wise move in that country. This wasn't taken lightly by the government and punishments are being debated now (this is where your tax money goes to - debates on issues that are of no interest in the country). A sort of mini episode within the blogosphere exploded when a personal attack was launched by a famous blogger (attacking mainstream media is his kind of thing).

Eh-hem. Anyway back to the real issue that I earlier raised. Can somebody tell me what is so goddamn offensive about the cartoon above? Because I am stumped. I mean really really really stumped. I understand that the infamous Muhammad cartoon may have offended a few people but this???

A pint of Carlsberg to the first person to answer.

More here.

Update:

And here. Here too.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Trauma Center: Under the Knife review


Ever since I was an adolescent blood was something I could never stand. You ask me to watch one of those medical dramas like E.R. and I would look away or do that blurry eye thingy so I couldn't see any details. Same story with Nip/Tuck and that German nutter Gunther von Hagens. Jennifer loves watching craps like that.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife (Japanese title: Caduceus: Surgical Operation) is a surgical simulation game developed by Japanese game designer/publisher Atlus. This game, designed for the Nintendo DS, has been out in North America for quite some time and it is so damn rare (it has since been discontinued) that you can find used carts on the market for double the retail outlay. While a mate of mine is busy slaying giant creatures in order to bring back his dead girlfriend back to life, I spent the best part of my spare weekend time on this genius.

The DS is the ideal platform for a surgical game. With a touch screen wielding your stylus is like wielding a forcep. I had doubt that this may just be another tech demo game (eg. Yoshi: Touch & Go) but it really is playable. There is nothing gimmick about using a stylus on this game as it is the only way to play this type of game. In a market oversaturated with racing title (Xbox 360), this is a truly exceptional title for contemporary consoles.

You are Dr. Derek Stiles who has just completed residency and is now working in Hope Hospital. Stiles is a lazy bugger who takes his patients for granted and it's up to you to prove his superiors (and assistant) wrong. The year is 2018 and the majority of diseases has been wiped out (I doubt this would in real life but who knows? MRSA anyone?) but a disease known as GUILT (you can trust the Japanese to come out with something this ridiculous) threatens mankind. GUILT, according to Atlus, is the first biological weapon used for 'medical terrorism' (Atlus's words - not mine).

Before each procedure, you will be briefed by nurses and other staff members. Your aide happens to be a young and feisty (and irritating) part German nurse by the name of Angie Thompson. She will get on your nerves at times and tends to give you a hard time. Sometimes you may wish to shut her up and fortunately you couldn't. Anybody who had a botched surgery should know that you should never have a surgery performed unaccompanied!

The only way to perform the surgeries is through the touch screen and that is a blessing. Up to ten instruments (e.g. scalpel, syringe, laser etc.) can be used at any time during each procedure. These are represented by icons. The scalpel, for example, is used to make incisions into a body (see, I am speaking medical language!). The touch screen is also where the surgeries are performed and contain the patient's vitals. The top screen contains information such as the time, score and miss limit. Your assistant is also featured on the top screen occasionally giving much needed advice or in most cases (initially), yelling at your incompetence.

If your patient dies or the time runs out you are dismiss (or killed). However unlike real surgeries, you can have as much practice as you want as you can always undo your mistakes by reloading your save game. In total there are a few dozen surgeries (there are a couple of repeats) to be performed and are spread over six episodes. There is also an episode where you have use your surgical skills to disarm a bomb!

Style wise the game is very Japanese anime/manga like. Cels and sprites are simple and non animated. The graphics during surgery are quite bloody in an abstract way and doesn't distract from the main game. It is effective and you can easily make out the different organs that human beings like us harbour. It was indispensable that Atlus styled the game the way it was for queasy cowards like me (see first paragraph). You may also have to thank Nintendo for releasing a graphically inferior machine. I can't imagine wanting photo-realistic graphics for this game so I am pretty happy!

Trauma Center has to be one of the most addictive and engrossing games I have ever played. The procedures will increase in difficult as you progress through the game and it is a good challenge. You will find yourself frustrated at times but practice makes perfect. Each procedure is timed (usually five minutes) therefore you do not have the luxury of time. Even your tools are subjected to limits. Use up too much medicine and you have to wait for them to refill. Laser has to be recharged. After all these hassle there is usually a feeling of satisfaction once a surgery is successful.

If there are problems with the game I can only think of two. The political storyline is so cliché with its terrorism plot and anti-euthanasia rambling. Also the fact that gameplay is stylus based meant that you can't operate on the Tube, but that can't be helped. Apart from that, this is the perfect game for a generation of gamers who are fed-up with the constant stream of clones and the lack of innovation from the game industry.

8/10

Buy now from
Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Koreans online massacre of Chinese gamers

"Korean players stand there waiting for Chinese players to enter - you can tell they are Chinese because they can't speak Korean - and then they kill them," Ms Choi says. "I befriended some Chinese teenagers and tried to teach them, but Koreans kept trying to kill them so they all left the game. I just cried."
You have to admit that this is all so fucking sad that someone can cry over a computer game.
"They enjoy the game and they think Korea is cool and they also like earning a little money," says Sunny Choi, a South Korean gamer who speaks Chinese. "But they don't understand the manners so Koreans are killing them - it's a tragedy."
Now you know why I don't play MMOs.

Read:
Financial Times

Get voting: Great British Design Quest

Via London Underground blog, the final 10 of the BBC Great British Design Quest is available to vote on. The final 10 are all well known designs and it was a toughie to choose from (Concorde, Routemaster, GTA, K2 phone kiosk, Mini). Obviously I voted for Beck's iconic Tube map. Without it, travelling on the Tube (and other Metros) would have been a chaotic affair.

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US critics loves Footballer's Wives.

Season five airs this Thursday on ITV1. I will try to brave through another episode to see what kind of improvements they have made over the rubbish that was evident in the the first season (the only one I ever watched).

C4, bring back No Angels!

Update: They are! Next week! Tuesdays 10pm!

Monday, February 20, 2006

BAFTA film award thoughts

Here we go again...

As some of you know the BAFTA film award this year generated quite some controversy again (as usual) due to the fact that the British flick The Constant Gardener were the biggest loser of the ceremony. Of course the main shock (but not to me) was Rachel Weisz losing the main actress award to a blondie.

Cue the instant barraging by industry experts and directors (and a certain Lord) on why Brits aren't voting for Brits. "Keira Knightley should have been nominated". She may be hot but the film isn't. Besides I couldn't stand anymore Pride & Prejudice remakes.

I thought this award, despite its title, is an international award opened to all nationalities. And when will they learn? Never ever do an award ceremony in London during the rainy month of February! And if you do, build a goddamn canopy!

BTW, can someone in the EU please remind Austria that punishing someone for expressing his opinion, no matter how awful it may be, is against Europe's fundamental right to free speech.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Super Monkey Ball: Touch & Roll review

My landlady has a grandchild who visits almost weekly. She (the kid, not my landlady) owns a Gameboy Advance (sans backlighting) and the last time I met her ( a few weeks ago during the holidays) she was playing a rather intriguing game.

"What's that you got there kiddo?"

"Monkey Ball!" (It's actually Monkey Ball Junior)

"Hm...I didn't know that a Gameboy Advance is capable of displaying 3D graphics? It doesn't even have a 3D engine!"

Obviously being only six, she was oblivious to my 'technical knowhow' and was only interested in a fun game.

"Look. You control the monkey and try to collect bananas..."

"What's that you say. Is it like the GameCube game?"

"What's that?" (her mum obviously did not get her a console)

"Can I have a go?"

She handed over her Gameboy Advance. I squinted at it and noticed that it was indeed 3D and it looks fab (for a GBA game). The lack of backlighting on the overscratched screen soon gave me a headache (how can she manage?) as I handed the game back to her.

"Not bad..."

Then Super Monkey Ball was ported to the DS and I didn't have to bug her all the time.

Damn, the game is difficult. But anybody who has ever played the console games will find the DS version a little easier. This is because of the touch screen support which IMO a far better method of input than an analog joypad (I hate joypads). I just finished the main game (the one where you push the monkey in the ball to the exit) and have tried the party games. Unfortunately I didn't have anybody to party (yet) with so I had to make do with playing against the CPU.

Graphically it is only slightly better than the GBA version. Sega obviously did not even bother to take full advantage of the 3D engine of the DS. I mean look at Mario Kart DS. Full 3D landscape with high quality textures with bumpy roads. On Super Monkey Ball: T&R you get flat rolling courses with very basic textures and weird psychedelic landscape.

I love the GameCube version. The monkeys were well animated and the tracks design were amazing. It was alongside
Mario Kart Double Dash, my favourite arcade style game on that console. Sadly not on the DS version. Get this, the monkeys are sprite based. Yes folks, the guys at Nintendo managed to support up to eight polygon-based karters in Mario Kart DS but Sega could not even manage one! To be fair however the game operates on a smooth framerate (but so did Mario Kart DS!).

The party games ranges from average to down right obsurd. Monkey mini golf was super easy and the popular monkey fight was pretty shit. When I play the Cube version of monkey fight with my mates, it was a hugely entertaining mini game that during many sessions became the main game. It was brilliant on the Cube. Not so much here. Then there is that fps monkey shooter. Seriously the most pathetic attempt at fps. Monkey race on the Cube was fun, here the designers forces you to race on the touchscreen using only the touchscreen for navigation (d-pad for shooting items). It was frustrating.

The main game was alright. I got through on my first sitting with the big monkey (I can't remember what it's called) whereas on the Cube it took me ages! It was obviously just too easy. Collecting bananas are not required but they do serve a purpose - mainly for every extra life bonuses. Soon I gathered a grand total of 15 life. Hah. This was going to be a piece of cake, that was until I reached the third final stage and lost seven of my (monkey) life. On the GameCube that would mean you need to restart the game but here, the game allowed me to press on. Soon I was done and had to stare at a long credit scene (which is sort of a mini game in itself). This unlock a couple more main games with slightly more difficult tracks but doesn't unlock additional party games.

I am so dissapointed. I really wanted to like it. The GCN's Monkey Ball was a classic party game where you sit down around the telly with three other mates and have a go at each other. The way the monkey would 'scream' when falling down into oblivion cracks me up even today. This sadly would not. Poor gameplay implementation. Shoddy graphics. Poor production value.


The inclusions of some of these mini games were obviously to inflate the value of the game, which comes at a recommended retail price of a ridiculous £30. Do not give in. If you do make sure the store has a refund policy like I did.

2/10

(Don't) buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

On Opera DS and the hype of the Arctic Monkeys

With everyone talking about how mobile phone convergence killing non-GSM/3D PDAs, here is another product that could kill them. The Opera Browser for Nintendo DS. Assuming that you could use the browser to surf the net freely on official Nintendo WiFi hotspots (Cloud, BT, McDonalds), people might just ditch their PDAs/laptops and just buy a DS. Of course today's press release statement doesn't say much about what the product will offer. Being released on a card means that you couldn't update the browser too if a security issue warrants it, unless of course Nintendo/Opera releases self-updating files through the NiWiFi network.

The mobile computing industry is moving away from PIM centric devices to Internet/Web centric devices. The fact that Access Japan (developer of the incredibly powerful and popular Access NetFront browser) bought PalmSource and also Nokia releasing a web-centric device (770) just. I used to use my PDA loads but am now finding it more relegated to merely a digital music player, occasional web browser/e-mail checker and pr0n video player. I hardly play games on it apart from the usual PDAMill stuff or when I have to beta test something. In the end I may just eBay it and use the money for something more useful - like good and healthy food. And maybe a gym membership to work the Christmas fat out. And buying more great albums.

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Speaking albums, everyone's talking about the Arctic Monkeys these days. I just bought the debut album (which sold a record breaking 363,000 copies in its first week) Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. Hmm... I would give it an average score of 6/10 if I am doing a 'proper' review. But right now I am not really in the mood for some monkey business and Arctic Monkeys, after all the hype, just failed to impress me. I bought this because I support Brit rock indie bands and not craps like R&Bs.

Anyway the first thing I did was ripped the music off to my PC and naming them and sorting them out on my playlist before transferring the music to my player. And the moment I tap on play I thought I was listening to Babyshambles. Uhm... That's bad. I changed tracks. I can hear the similarity to The Libertines but like some of the concern voiced - it sounded like a pretty awful Libertines. Nothing wrong with that except that the Libertines' Up the Bracket was pretty amazing. And awful Libertines tracks were often on B-list singles and bloated up albums

I have heard plentiful of amazing debut albums before. The hugely underrated Dead 60s' post-punk revival. London's Hard-Fi. Maximo Park. Brighton's British Sea Power. I knew I shouldn't be buying into NME's ultra-hyperball after they screwed up on certain ends (Razorlight's Up All Night). Maybe just maybe if they haven't hype it all up I would come out fairly happy (but still giving it 6/10). Indie bands deserves our support in the cut throat music industry and especially now in the age of manufactured fuckwits from reality TV whatever. Sadly for the Arctic Monkeys, I do think the hype (which isn't their fault) will one day come back and bite them silly.

If you want to listen to this album, do not buy into the hype and expect some mind-blowing and glorious life-changing record. Buy the album on its own merit and not through the media's mouth and you may enjoy it. Sadly for this blogger, he was caught up in all the stupid hype that in the end he disappointed only himself. Fortunately for me 2006 could still prove big with Yeti's debut album due this summer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

London UFO sightings



I am sure you can guess where I will be this Saturday evening.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Animal Crossing: Wild World review



Hi my name is Burly. Roughly two months ago I moved into a village called 'Luntun' and this blog entry details my experience there. Thanks to Jon for letting me guest post here.

Luntun is a weird place. I arrived there being driven by a Kappa called Kapp'n. He asked me some weird questions that includes my name and whether I was broke or not. Immediatedly I was given some kind of rare power as I was able to name the village I live in. Many of my Chinese friends who lived in my previous dwelling known as London always mispronounced it as 'Luntun', so that was that and the rest was history!

Upon arriving and checking out my new home, I was met by a raccoon by the name of Tom Nook! Nook is an estate agent who prepared the little rut I live in. Immediately Nook slapped me with a 19,800 bells worth of 'fee'! Nook also owns the only store in town and calls it Nook's Cranny. He offered me a job there straight away. I felt so important.


Within an hour, Nook decided to fire me! I wasn't doing a bad job or anything. He told me to write a letter to Bill and I did. In it I cussed the wretched duck and Nook seemed happy with it. He also did not pay me any bells and instead deducted them from my mortgage! I was quite pissed. But I let it go when I found out that I could shake trees down and sell the apples for 100 bells each. Then I went exploring a bit.

I found that there were three other residents in the village. The first I met was Bill. This duck also happens to be an annoying jock who can't stop showing off his pecs. The bastard. Then there was another jock called Drift. Equally as annoying as Bill, Drift is a frog whose catchphrase was 'brah'. He loves to complain about my lack of attitude to exercising. Last but not least was Roscoe, a cranky horse who hates everyone here (except me). He has a sinister motive in this little town which he would not reveal to me. While Bill and Drift has since left, Roscoe still lives in my village till today.

Luntun has more key workers than villagers. The Able Sisters runs a tailor's shop next to Nook's shop. Sable and Mabel are both hedgehogs. I found Sable rude at first but after visiting her everyday she opened up to me and told me the story of her past. I visit the Able Sisters everyday to buy new clothing, hats, umbrellas and accessories. The one I really wanted was a Royal Crown but that costed a million bells! Then there are the occasional visitors who visits the place once a week. Lyle is an insurance hack who tries to rip me off and Gulliver sometimes flies by in his spaceship. It is possible to shoot him down with my slingshot but so far I have failed each time. Drat!

Every morning I would visit The Roost at the local museum. This is the usual hang-out place for me when I need to get a cup of coffee (with pigeon milk) from Brewster (a pigeon!). The anti copyright performer, K.K. Slider plays here from 8pm Saturdays and would hook me up with bootleg copies of his performances. So far I have acquired twenty bootleg titles from him. My favorite is K.K. Metal. K.K. Slider could have beaten Coldplay if they took part in the Brits.

As weeks went by I paid my debt to Tom Nook. Everytime I do so he would insist on expanding my comfortable pad. The cheeky capitalist would then charge exorbitant amount of bells for those expansions. The first expansion was 120,000 just to increase the ground floor room! The final expansions added a sixth room on the back and costed me 948,000 bells! I managed to pay the last bell on the mortgage just a few days ago. Finally no more debt for me!

How did I get all those bells to pay Nook? Well I catch fish and bugs and also dig up fossils. I usually donate them to Blathers to fill up the museum. The sleepy owl was robbed one day a long time ago, presumably by a crook known as Reid (who often sells me forged paintings). So although my town has a museum, it was empty. My job since being released from Nook was to occasionally donate fish, bugs, fossils and paintings to the museum.

On Sundays, Joan would come by and sell turnips. I would buy loads of them for a certain price and then wait for Nook to offer a good deal before reselling them to him. That way I earn loads of money. Turnips are the equivalent to gold in the big cities but here all we deal with are turnips. Bless me for my business sense, I should probably open a competing store opposite Nook's.

Visiting friends is easy. All I need to do is go to the town gate and asked to be let out. From there on I can visit any of my friends from around the world via this free thing called Nintendo WiFi connection. One of the most frequent visits I make to is to a town called Yolp whose resident is Boochi. We tend to trade stuffs and I usually stomp on her flowers and chop down trees in her village. We would go fishing and catch bugs together. I would also visit her friends and in many cases some of her friends has since moved into my village and mine to hers! Did I mention that up to three other people can visit my town at the same time? That's true!

I love getting letters from the other townies. They would usually give me stuffs like furniture and clothing. The key is to write letters to them often and give a gift. A shell would usually do and they are forced to give something else in return. Hahaha. But some of the more memorable letters I received were from this company called Nintendo. Last month a certain S. Iwata sent me a New Year's greeting along with a Mario coin! What a nice chap. And on Valentine's Day they sent me a Lovely Loveseat which I quickly sold of to Nook for a quick profit.

When I have nothing to do I would wander aimlessly around my home moving furniture and improving the general living condition of my mansion. Apparently certain items in certain places will improve my 'feng shui' whatever that is. Right now one my room features the complete 'Snowman' collection, items which I received when I create perfect snowmen around. Another room contains oriental furniture while the other has a more European classical theme to it. Villagers love to visit my home and give opinionated opinions that are usually negative. Those jealous bunch!

My village has grown considerable that it now features eight villages including me! They are constantly moving in and moving out. Some I love so much I beg them to stay while some I loath I couldn't care less if a shark came up and snatch them while they were fishing. Anyway my village is open to all who wants to visit. But please don't chop down my trees or ruin my flowers! But you better move into your own wild world first. See ya soon!

9/10

Buy now from
Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Of rubbish cartoons and idiot protestors

I felt like I should have written this days ago when the news was still hot. It still is but it's getting quite old. Unfortunately I decided to stop writing in the 'Send us your comment' section on the BBC website because of the word limitation. Plus I can't post link. And insult other people. Thank the drunken lord for blogger.com.

Remember this? When tens of thousands of grumpy ol' men and women over Blighty decided that the portrayal of Jesus Christ as gay isn't appropriate for telly, while attempting to stop us license holders from watching it on the BBC?

Or this debacle?

All this hoo-hah about religion I just do not give a damn about. This is a secular Europe. We respect the right to your choice of religion. But please also respect our right to lampoon any religion we want to. It may be offensive but there are many things that offends me as well too (including your religion) but I did not go around stirring things up and inciting violence, worst over some rubbish cartoons. And to shut a paper down. Fuck off.

All this explains why I am opposed to the Religious Hatred Bill. Free speech is what I want in the UK. There are libel and slander laws to protect the innocent from defamation (Read Urban 75 on a guide to UK's libel and slander laws) and that should be enough. I am not saying that the idiots at the paper were right but it is within their right to be idiots (and offensive I guess).

People should just give this a fucking rest. Grow up the lot of you. I find it sad that I find myself agreeing with the right wing hacks from The Times and Daily Express over at the BBC a couple of days ago.

The Rub Rabbits! review


The Rub Rabbits! (Where do Babies Come From in Japan) is the sequel to the successful and addictive Project Rub (Feel the Magic XY/XX in the states, I Would Die For You in Japan) and was just released in Europe yesterday. Like the original game, it features numerous mini games that were highly amusing. Both games were developed by the legendary Sonic Team (the in-house SEGA developing team who created Sonic).

While Project Rub had its moment, the newly launched Warioware Touched!, with its even more crazy ideas of furious session of mini games, stole quite some of its thunder. Sonic Team responded by expanding the original concept and included tons of additional games as well as a host of new gameplay. The premise remains the same. You play a guy who falls in love with a babe and your task is to guide him through the 35 episodes in order to win the gal.

Rub it!

However this time you will have more than one rival. As a college boy, you pass her one day on the street. But you are not the only one who falls for her. There are 11 other rivals this time round. According to the Sega handbook, this triggered a rather bizarre "Love Triskaidecagon". Your objective remains the same as always - to WIN HER HEART!

The gameplay involves the unique usage of the DS many input system and is similar to Project Rub. I remember shouting at my DS when told to do so, or blow on the screen in order to get my boat past the shark and rescue the girl. In fact early on The Rub Rabbits! you are required to use your touch screen to guide your blowgun at the rivals gliding down and to 'blow' them off course. This isn't a game to be played in public as the introduction warning put so blatantly.

Love it!

The games are divided into three types of situation. Typically there are the 'Love Battles' where you and your rivals battle it out on the screen. Then there are the 'Boss Battles' where you are required to protect the girl. And finally the 'Love Scenes' is where you finally have the chance to start getting close on her.

There is a party game called Hullabaloo where you can use your DS as a baton. This should prove a winner in any drunken party where you wish actual physical harm on your portable machine. The Maniac menu has been improved tons of times over the original. Here you can change your gal's hairstyle, outfit, shoes and accessories. You can also design patterns for her outfit. 'Love points' collected will also determine how you can change her appearance. Many of the options are not available from the instance and you have to unlock them as your progress through your courting.

Rabbit!

A new feature that explains the reason for the Japanese title (Where do Babies Come From) is a baby making utility. This requires you and your partner to enter some data and then to go through a wedding cake ceremony where the two of you have to co-operate by cutting the cake nicely. It is pretty difficult and our first attempt was a disaster. Check out the picture below for the outcome of our baby making attempt:


The big hurrah in this new version is the inclusion of multiplayer mode. Like many DS games there is a single-card play where all you need is a DS system for each player and only one Rub Rabbits! game card. In this mode you can battle other local players via ad-hoc WiFi. The multi-card mode is a little sober but equally unique. Like Nintendogs and Animal Crossing: Wild World this is the tagging mode. When in this mode your DS goes to sleep (standby) while constantly searching for other Rub Rabbits! users. Once it locates another user it will allow your baby to play with their babies at the park. You can also trade design patterns through this mode. Needless to say, apart from Japan, I doubt this mode will prove very popular. And unlike Nintendogs, you can't unlock any hidden gems that might exist in the game.

Break time...

The graphic has noticeably improved but still uses the minimalist silhouette look that was so popular with the first game. Nothing to complain here. The music is similar to those popular retro style hits on Project Rub. I haven't completed the game but I am sure once you do so you can unlock a section where you can select and listen to the music at your own pleasure. I didn't like what they did to the 'Break time' voiceover though. The classic Project Rub sensuous voiceover was far sexier.

Also unlike the original game, you are allowed to create three different save files, allowing you to share the cart among your friends, and if you will, your wife or girlfriend. Excellent.

Anyway this is a highly recommended game that I urge you to try out. Sonic Team is on a roll here when it comes to developing DS games. If you have any concerns on the game you can always pick up the original but limited Project Rub for as little as a tenner (new) and give it a go. If you happen to celebrate Valentine's Day (I pity you) then this is the perfect gift for your guy.

7/10

Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK