Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Assorted reviews

Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (R2 PAL, DVD) Square-Enix

Strictly for fans of Final Fantasy VII only, Advent Children is one of the worst CGI films I have ever watched since Square's own Final Fantasy The Spirits Within and Dreamwork's Shark Tale. Advent Children is part of the cash-cow that is Square-Enix's 'Compilation of Final Fantasy VII' - which means you can expect more Final Fantasy VII non-gaming bullshit in years to come.

The film's timeline is a couple of years after the ending of Final Fantasy VII game and features a dull final battle between the anorexic blonde protagonist and the girly and anorexic antagonist. Wooden 'acting' and 'polished' barbie-like figures features aplenty.


New Super Mario Bros. (US, NDS) Nintendo

It's a-me, Mario!

Bowsers kidnaps Peach and Mario has to rescue her. Again. He needs to get a new girl - Daisy perhaps? (Oh wait, isn't Daisy going out with Luigi - nevermind) Featuring lush 3D graphics with 2D gameplay, this is one of the best platformers ever created for the DS side-scrolling platform (or any platform in recent memories) and a homage to a time when gaming was fun. And people are agreeing. It sold 480,000 units in the first day in Japan alone.


Super Princess Peach (US, NDS) Nintendo

Mamma mia! A total reversal of roles! This time Mario gets kidnapped and it is up to Princess Peach to rescue the Italian plumber! Super Princess Peach features female stereotyped powerups - shame on you Nintendo! The game is fun while it lasted and is very easy. In classic 2D sprites too! Like Yoshi Touch & Go, this isn't worth the price NoE slaps on us (£30). Import it for less and enjoy.


Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day (US, NDS) Nintendo

Also known as Professor Kawashima's Brain Training in the UK (when it is released next week), this is Nintendo's 'touch generation' (a strategy aimed at recruiting non-gamers and casual gamers) flagship game.

Brain Training is essentially a collection of brain training mini games such as quick maths, stroop test, reading, memorisation etc. Drawing based on memorisation (with funny effects too). The disembodied head of Kawashima may belittle you if you score low but don't take it too seriously. Contains chart for when you can show of the time when your brain age drops from 70 to 20.

Both the US and European version of the game also contains 100 Sudoku puzzles for Sudoku addicts. Get this for yourself and your parents. Show this to your friends who thinks video games are only for juveniles. It is also worth noting that the original Brain Training sold 2.2 million in Japan alone, many to the over 40s demographic.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Wet and murky days ahead

Don't you just love the British weather? It gives us a topic to blog about when we are stumped for ideas.

"Look, it's raining again. Yay!"

Brain age's still holding it out at 22. Man I love this game. Reminds me of that 'Doom meet Castlevania math DOS game' that the local computer center forced on us 15 years ago (when we were still tiny), but at least this is fun.

Anyway... have a nice bank holiday weekend!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Brighton Festival 2006: Streets of Brighton

Apologies for the late post. Streets of Brighton finished about a week and half ago but here are some pictures I took anyway. Brighton Festival ends this weekend.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A Malaysian Muslim blogger has posted a questionable and unfavourable article in regards to Christianity in Malaysia. In retaliation, another blogger wrote a damning response, which was rather good.

In a perfect world we would just leave it at there and nobody would bother. Unfortunately much of Malaysia's Christian blogosphere (well those who resides on PPS anyway) decided to participate in this virtual melee of sorts, by trading childish insults. Some has even threatened to bring the attention to the police! I cringe at your mentality.

All this and what do I think? Well I have always been in the position to question religion in general and whether it is relevant in this modern world. In the UK where political correctness is fast becoming a fact of life, criticising someone could easily land you in front of a judge. It is fortunate that judges here are still sound minded.

This whole issue reminds me of why the British government's attempt to pass the Racial & Religious Hatred Bill was wrong. Where if it weren't for the upper house and Labour rebels, the bill could have made it illegal for people like me to criticise certain organized religions and their fanatical supporters.

The other problem with the bill is that it doesn't attempt to protect people like me, who isn't bound by religion, from organised religions whereas people with religion are protected. Like the Catholic Church needs more protection.

I don't hate religion, and I certainly have respect for whatever people chose to believe in, but I do find it annoying to be told that I will burn in hell if I do not believe in certain Gods or Messiah or books or whatever. I may not be gay but I resent the fact the certain religions could even come up with some draconian explanation to force their approved sexuality upon the world.

Yes, protest all you want. Da Vinci Code. Jerry Springer Opera. Danish newspapers. David Irving. Birmingham's Behzti. Playboy. Just don't drag the rest of us (the majority) into your rather mindless escapade. Because even if their views are wrong, it is equally wrong to deny them their right to speak up.

I always thought that blogs are the Interweb replacement to much controlled Speakers' Corner, and should never be regulated, and if so, should be minimal as far as the law would allow it to be. So I would like to thank in advance to the idiots who wanted to bring the blogger in question to the attention of the police. Thanks to you, perhaps one day Malaysia will introduce a bill that would require Malaysian bloggers to be registered - much like in China.

Debates such as those of religion would only be limited to small and harmless academic critiques rather than the full blown insults that it probably deserves.

Bigots, whether they be Christians or Muslims, Jewish or Hindus, should always be allowed to be speak up as long as violence isn't involved. It is up to you to then debate with them rationally.

Blog if you want but to sink to their level by attempting to ban their thoughts by contacting their host or by trying to get them arrested? That is low. Even for you ultra religious people. It boggles the mind that such irrational fears still exists.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Brain Age chronicle

Day One: 65 years old
Day Two: 54 years old
Yesterday: 37 years old
Today: 22 years old

Is the Brain Age software really stimulating my brain? I am no scientist so I can't tell, and I really doubt that it could prevent Alzheimer's or stop your mental state from aging. However I do feel hell a lot fresher since starting my daily brain training. My awareness level seems to have increased too.

Regardless, the Brain Age/Brain Training is fun. I had a go at Sudoku yesterday and for the first time completed it! This thing will sell like hot cakes when it is released in the UK. Sudoku is like a drug to many Brits. It doesn't do for me as I prefer crosswords but hei, whatever helps.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Hi, my brain age is...

Not bad - after three days. My brain was rotting old when I first started 'training my brain' three days ago when Professor Kawashima's disembodied head announced that my brain age was 65. 37 isn't that good but is a substantial improvement. Maths can be fun.

Read more about Brain Age (Brain Training in Japan and the UK) here.

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Hurrah for Finland

Bloody hell. What a fun night. Eurovision as usual sucked, with the exception of a few.

We went to Lewes to meet up with some German mates. Being Germans, they drowned us with alcholic drinks. Four or five pints of Heinekeins(?) and a shot of proper Cuban rum later, with Lordi of Finland declared the winner, I could hardly walk to the train station.

There is hope after all for Eurovision (Image source: BBC News)

Lordi of Finland of course deserved to win. The hard rock band who played Hard Rock Lallelujah and dressed up in Kiss inspired monster costume, were positively wonderful for breaking the stale that was Eurovision's shit pop songs of yore. Russia got second due to tactical and political voting by its many neighbouring and former nations, despite being represented by a shit arse of an idiot.

If I bothered to vote, it would have been:

1. Finland
2. Lithuania
3. UK

There are many crap singers out there today. France as usual fielded a French singer singing in French, and decided to announce the results in French. Typical. Israel's gospel group deservedly came in close to the last. Malta came in with only a point and Armenia's S&M show was mindblowingly idiotic that it only an idiot could not see through the political voting, that they even managed to get more than a hundred points. East Europeans and former Balkan nations, or as Mr. Bush puts it - 'new Europe', as usual ganged up against 'old Europe', by voting for their neighbours.

Terry Wogan is either getting old, or the BBC is restraining him. No idea. He was as sarcastic as ever but he was also reserved, only a couple of time interupting the live broadcast during the performances. Still funny though and the only reason to watch Eurovision. The two hosts were however terrible.

Okay time for me to sleep. I will update the post when I have the chance.

Update: I see that Orthodox Christians has been coming out condemning Lordi as 'Satanic'. When have I heard this before?

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

応援団 Ouendan

Anybody who has ever played iNiS's utterly fantastic Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan would have known how unique a title it is, both from a technical perspective (graphical and musical) and its bizarre storyline. The game evolves around a troupe of male cheerleaders, all dressed in black, who dances around trying to lift tragic people out of depression - all in glorious Japanese manga style comic panels and J-pop covers (check out the trailer). Neat eh? The literal translation means Go! Fight! Cheer Squad.

Anyway, thanks to a tipster at Eurogamer I Googled Image seach the word 'Ouendan' today and look at what I found. A galore of pictures of real life male Ouendans from Japan. Talk about shocking. In the US we have underaged female cheerleaders, in the UK we have none and in Japan we have adult male cheerleaders (see video).

image source

But you have to thank Japan for the wackiness. Without them we wouldn't be enjoying great titles like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan. Of course the news that it would be remade for the Western market as Elite Beat Agents has raised the profile of the rare title even more, so better get them before the price skyrockets.


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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If only I could think of a cooler title...

Firstly, to certain people out there. IT IS ONLY A FUCKING MOVIE! The rest of the world do not want to hear your whining. Don't like it - fine, don't watch it. Don't read the horrible book. It is bad enough that in the past month I have been stopped by three people, no less, who were trying to sell me your beliefs (They always begin with "Excuse me, do you speak Chinese?" - more on that in the future). So the least you can do is spare the rest of us the misery of reading about your actions in the morning dailies. Jeeez...get a room, or something...

Last night just before bed I played Super Mario Advance 4 for GBA (a remake of the ultra popular NES Super Mario Bros. 3). It was sort of to put a stop to the mad craving due to the North American release of New Super Mario Bros. yesterday. As usual Europe gets shafted. Again (why do you hate us?). Jennifer has had her copy dispatched from the US already, so hopefully I can enjoy some giant Mario action soon (no I didn't order my own copy - tightening the belt!).

Oh, and under no circumstances should any of you switch your telly on this Thursday evening. I have already planned my escape via a preplanned trip to the pub but do what you can to escape the madness of summer reality TV.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Brighton Festival 2006

Last weekend was the Streets of Brighton show (part of the annual Brighton Festival) where hundreds of performers from around the world thronged to Brighton. It is a little bit like Notting Hill, but without the parades (and large crowds). Chaotic can be best described of Streets of Brighton as there aren't really any proper planning. Anyone who wished to perfom did so just about anywhere in the city.

There is also a free Oxfam photography exhibition of the Asian Tsunami title 'After the Wave' just outside the new Jubilee Library.

Apologies for the blurry pictures (these were taken with mobile phone cam), I will publish more pictures later when I extract the rest of the pictures from our digital camera.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Toshio Iwai's Electroplankton Japanese Special Edition Import review

Electroplankton (Japanese version)

I can already hear the collective sigh of "there he goes again with his game reviews". Ah, but this isn't a review of a game. Just because it is only playable on a portable game console does not make it a game. Plus this isn't just any review. It's a 'Mega Review', complete with videos too.

Electroplankton was created by fame Japanese media artist Toshio Iwai* (who also created SimTunes for the PC). While the gaming community found it hard to describe the 'game' and pigeon'ed holed it into the sub-genre 'mini-games', Electroplankton is best described as an interactive musical media and should be reviewed with the clear knowledge that it isn't a game. There are no goals to complete and no game overs to frown upon. The perfect title to rub it into your anti-games mates.

* See his precursor to Electroplankton here

It can also be considered a work of art, at least in my opinion. This title was part of the first wave of 'touch-generation' non-games that Nintendo released last year (along with Brain Training*, Animal Crossing: Wild World and Nintendogs - such touch-generation non-game games opened a previously untapped market and helped Nintendo conquer the Japanese console market).

Electroplankton is made up of ten tracks (or mini-games as gaming presses call them) where you are to manipulate the planktons with your stylus, which in return will create music for your pleasure. It is a musical instrument of art. And like all musical instruments your ability to manipulate the instruments will either reward or dishearten you. However, unlike any old musical instruments, Electroplankton automatically rewards you with the sight of up most beauty of post-modernism abstract art.

Upon starting Electroplankton you will be presented with two modes of play - Performance Mode and Audience Mode. The boot screen also allows you to optimise the sound through the DS's already good stereo speakers or through a headphone.

Audience Mode is a demo version of the game where the CPU controls the planktons. Each tracks plays for a few minutes in cycles just like an audio CD. You can override the CPU and take control (although it won't override the time). It is a nice mode to see what each tracks has to offer or when you just want to relax and watch/listen rather than compose your own music. Hook it up via to a Hi-Fi via line-in and enjoy. Unfortunately you can't close the DS lid and leave the music on like a walkman though I do wish I could hook the DS to a telly and watch the planktons swim around on a 30" screen. That would have beaten any iteration of WinAMP visualisation plug-ins.

Performance Mode is where the composing comes into play. With ten different kind of planktons/tracks/music composition tools/mini-games/whatever to play with you will be hard pressed to find something you will like. The following are the English title to each program and a short description on what each does:

01 Tracy

The first of the ten tracks, Tracy features six different coloured planktons where you drag each of her, creating a path for them to follow. Each planktons will make its own unique sound of each plankton sounds and their tempo changes depending on the speed and direction of the path you created.

02 Hanebow

A leaf shoots out planktons (that looks like tadpoles) towards a plant (selectable) where they will bounce off each of the leaves until it falls back into the water. You can change the trajectory of the cannon as well as the frequency in which it spurts out planktons. Each bounce creates a tune. By altering the angles of each leaves you can create a nice rhythm of bounding planktons. This is the only 'game' where you can assign a goal (e.g. to keep as many planktons out of water, getting the leaves to turn red, getting the flower to pop up) if you wish.

03 Luminaria

There are four planktons on each corner. Surrounding them are pre-determined paths set by arrows. Tapping on each plankton will move them, each having different speed - therefore producing different pitches and sound. The red one for example sounds like a piano. Each one of the arrows will emit a different note as the planktons crosses them. By changing the direction of each one of the arrows you can compose a nice little chill-out song. If you are lazy you can use the d-pad to reset the arrows. It's easy and surprisingly engrossing to the point that you won't have to keep those Café Del Mar CDs anymore. This is my favourite 'track' of Electroplankton.

04 Sun-Animalcule

This is a very unique musical composition tool. You use the stylus to seed as many or as little planktons as you want. As the title indicates, the plankton(s) relates to the sun. It also changes depending on its size and time (night or day). The position of where the planktons were laid also determines the kind of sound each plankton produces.

05 Rec-Rec

You don't get much control on any of these fishes in this track. There are four fish that swims from left to right and the music is very upbeat. Tapping on each of the planktons will allow you to record from the microphone your voice (or the house dog). With each recorded sound then being played back by each of the planktons, you will find yourself with a nice little track of upbeat tempo.

06 Nanocarp

Ripples, produced by the tapping of the screen, when arrives at each plankton will cause them to produce a unique sound. I think there are around 20 swimming around. You can line them up by blowing at the screen (or clapping) but they won't stay put. Depending on the sound you make the Nanocarps will line up differently on the screen. The whole point is to create ripples passing through layers of plankton, producing sounds based on chain reaction. You can also create ripples using the d-pad. It's like a calming version of wind chimes and could easily be one of your favourite.

07 Lumiloop

You spin five planktons (which are shaped like records) around using the stylus, each creating a ray of sound (and colour). Depending on the direction, the rotation speed etc. the sound created with the five planktons can be quite engrossing.

08 Marine-Snow

As the title indicated, the planktons are in the shape of snow flakes (hence the title). Tapping each of the planktons will create a unique sound. No matter where each plankton is located (they move around in a chaotic Bejeweled-like manner), they will always produce a unique sound, so it can get confusing if you attempt to use them as composing tool. But this is the composition tool you will have most control of - if you can remember which snow plankton produces which sound!

09 Beatnes

This could be the favourite of Nintendo retro fans. These five dancing planktons plays a collection of classic and retro Nintendo tracks, each with unique and well-loved 8-bit Nintendo beeps (e.g. Mario collecting coins) which you can hear by tapping on each of the different planktons. Tapping the keys on their body will produce notes, like a piano.

10 Volvoice

The final track also happens to be my least favourite. You record your voice (say maybe speaking your name) and each Planktons alters your voice. It is fun, but is very limited.

Below is a five minutes video compilation of few of the tracks (Luminaria, Hanenbow, Beatnes, Lumiloop, Sun-Animalcule and Tracy). It should give you an overall idea to what Electroplankton is. Note that the graphical and audio quality of Electroplankton is much better than the video capture below.

The sounds created are beautiful, even over the DS's small stereo speakers. However to enjoy the music fully you will need a good set of earphones. The sounds are detailed and rich to the point of you can hear the Planktons swimming around and bubbles forming. I myself like to experiment with the sounds created just before I go to bed, especially after a stressful day.

The graphics, while simple and not earth shattering, is nice and calming. Everything is brightly coloured and the saturation is over the top, all in a happy way. Even the planktons seem loveable.

The only problem with the game is you are unable to save the music that you created, although you may argue that no musical instrument comes with a save button. Does your guitar or piano come with one? Nope. Like those you need to hook up Electroplankton to a recording deck that has a line-in socket. Most portable DAPs has line-in sockets anyway so composing your next Grammy has never been easier if you are savvy at figuring out which wires goes where.

The Japanese version is quite unique as it is the only DS game not to feature the massive white DS logo on the case. It also comes in a nice blue card box (like some special edition music CDs) and a free blue earphone. The earphone is a cheapo version though but it is still a nice bonus.

Because the Electroplankton requires no literacy level, the Japanese version is import friendly. The only thing you will miss out is the descriptions of each plankton. The manual is also in Japanese and is thick. It is filled with useful tid-bits (that I couldn't read), drawings (presumably by Toshio Iwai himself) and handwritten notes. This basically puts all game manuals AND CD inserts to shame. It is unlikely such detailed manual would be reproduced for the EU version. On a slight note, you can also import the North American version if English is VERY important to you.

Electroplankton was slated for a UK release of April 2006 but has since been pushed back to June (I believe). That was what GAME told me anyway, but I believe you can purchase it from Nintendo's online store. I don't blame them as I doubt UK gamers, many who traditionally scoff at unique titles, will get this. Hell, even Guitar Hero bombed here. NoE shouldn't be blamed for not bothering to market this an effectively sceptic market as even NoA didn't bother to ship this title to brick and morter stores.

But don't let that dishearten you. You may or may not like Electroplankton. In fact some of you may hate it. If all you want is mind blowing 'realistic' graphics and gunning down call girls then this is the wrong game for you (and I pity you). Myself I find it an utterly wonderful experience. And no, this won't be the last non-game game that would be released on the DS platform. Already we are seeing more and more music based games like the mind blowing Osu! Tatake! Ouendan! and Daigasso! Band Brothers.

Personally this is one of my favourite 'game' to play at night just before bed whenever I want to kick down and forget the day.


Note: This review was written during Easter and I have only now decided to publish it (after forgetting about it). Sorry.

* Tokoku Daigaku Mirai Kagaku Gijutsu Kyoudou Kenkyu Senta Kawashima Rutu-kyouju Kanshuu: nou wo Kitaeru Otona no DS Toreningu (Professor Ryutu Kawashima of Tokoko University's Centre for Collaborative Research on Future Technology Presents: Train Your Brain - DS Training for Adults)

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

2006 Nintendo DS games assault

Edit (11/05): You can download Nintendo's press pack from their E3 press site.
Username: media Password: E32006

Looking through Nintendo's E3 press pack, you will find galores of info on new DS releases for 2006, as well as the US release of DS Lite. Omitted from this blogger's list are crappy and generic titles published by the likes of Disney and THQ - you know games based on IPs like SpongeBob, Chicken Little etc. all of which are only bought by parents who doesn't like their own children).

Highlighted are the games that I really really want. I am happy to see Gyakuten Saiban 4 in the press pack in its supposed English title (Phoenix Wright 2). This means Capcom will be porting the game to English. Huzzah! And of course the breaking news of Hideo Kojima's first DS title, Lunar Knights (Boktai) makes things a wii bit more interesting.

Update: Apparently Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All will be the official title and will be a port of Gyakuten Saiban 2 GBA (not the new Gyakuten Saiban 4) with a projected US release in Q1 2007. Confusing and weird of course, but I guess this is to keep the storyline intact for the Western market. Jumping from Gyakuten Saiban 1 to Gyakuten Saiban 4 wouldn't make much sense to the storyline. In any case I hope they will finally release/port the rest of Gyakuten Saiban series as Phoenix Wright games.

Update 2: Yes, the screenshots above pretty much confirms that Phoenix Wright 2 will be a port of Gyakuten Saiban 2 GBA.

Big Brain Academy (Nintendo Software Technology, USA) 5 June 2006
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Konami, Japan) Fall 2006
Chibi Robo Park Petrol (Skip, Japan) TBA
Children of Mana (Square Enix, Japan) Q4 2006
Clubhouse Games (Agenda) Q4 2006
Contact (Atlus, Japan) July 2006
Cooking Mama (Majesco, Japan) Q4 2006
Custom Robo Arena (Noise) Q4 2006
Deep Labyrinth (Atlus, Japan) Q4 2006
Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo, Japan) Q4 2006
Dino Master (Majesco) May 2006
DK King of Swing (Paon) TBA
Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (Square Enix, Japan) Sept 2006
DS Air (Nintendo, Japan) Q4 2006
Elite Beat Agent (iNiS, Japan) Q4 2006
Final Fantasy III (Square Enix, Japan) Sept 2006
Freedom Wings (Natsume, Japan) July 2006
Harvest Moon DS (Natsume, Japan) June 2006
Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (Cing, Japan) Q4 2006
Kirby - temporary title (HAL, Japan) TBA
Lunar Knights: Vampire Hunters (Kojima Productions, Japan) Nov 2006
Magical Vacation (Brownie Brown) Q4 2006
Magnetica (Mitchell Corp) 5 June 2006
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (Square Enix, Japan) 11 Sept 2006
Mario Vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis (Nintendo Software Technology, USA) 25 Sept 2006
Mech Assault: Phantom War (Majesco) TBA 2006
Mega Man ZX (Capcom, Japan) Sept 2006
New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, Japan) 15 May 2006
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All (Capcom, Japan) Oct 2006 Q1 2007
Point Blank (Namco, Japan) June 2006
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon (Chun Soft) 18 Sept 2006
Star Fox DS (Q-Games/Nintendo, Japan) 28 Aug 2006
Steel Horizon (Konami, Japan) Fall 2006
Sudoku Gridmaster (Hudson, Japan) 26 June 2006
Rayman (Ubisoft) Nov 2006
Tenchu: Dark Secret (FromSoftware) 21 Aug 2006
Tomb Raider: Legend (Eidos) Sept 2006
Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam (Vicarious, USA) Q4 2006
Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer (Konami, Japan) Fall 2006
Xiaolin Showdown (Konami, Japan) November 2006
Yoshi Island 2 (Nintendo, Japan) Q4 2006
The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo EAD, Japan) Q4 2006

Phew. Nintendo isn't kidding when they said that the DS would be getting plenty of softwares by year's end.

Also in the press pack are a bunch of screenshots of the DS Opera Browser in action. Here is one I thought was quite interesting.

Not sure which handwriting technology Nintendo has licensed (may be Decuma's), but hopefully all future DS games uses some kind of handwriting interface. I am so sick of tapping the QWERTY keyboard in Animal Crossing: Wild World.

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Nintendo E306

Well that's it. One of the final secrets revealed today is the WiiMote will contain a speaker. For example if you shoot an arrow in Zelda, you can hear the 'twwiiing' and the 'swiiiissh' through the WiiMote's speaker as it travels from your arm to the telly (where you hear the 'thud'). Pretty neat huh?

The other secret being the nunchaku attachment also contains a 3D motion sensor. This means you can use the nunchaku attachment as a secondary sword or even as a shield. Wonderful.

The difference between yesterday's Sony E3 press conference is Nintendo was heavily touting the fun side of the Wii, whereas Sony continued its number battle with Microsoft ("1080p, 1080p, 1080p"). The Ninty press was sure fun. You didn't even see SCE's Ken Kutaragi handling any of the games in Sony's press conference, but here, the big guns of Nintendo were clearly enjoying themselves.

Nintendo Wii E306 WiiMote trailer:

Nintendo Wii E306 game trailer:


5:20pm BST: Only ten minutes to go. The wait is awfully painful. Hurry up already! Grr...

Check out the live feed from GameSpot and live blogging from Eurogamer.

5:40pm BST: Miyamoto-san just left the stage after demostrating the WiiMote controller in an orchestra. Two other guys demostrated the WiiMote for a driving game and another in a sword fight (Red Steel I presume - it is). Amazing!

5:45pm BST: A long trailer showing off footage of the games and the WiiMote in function. The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess to use WiiMote! The trailer is similar in format to the TGS trailer, but longer (and with gameplay footages)

5:48pm BST: Reggie is on the stage yapping away on Nintendo's strategy. So far a damn fine presentation one should have expected from Nintendo.

5:55pm BST: Twilight Princess is a launch title! :) :) There will also be a GCN version.

6pm BST: WiiMote has built-in speakers and the nunchaku attachment has built-in 3D sensor, independent of the WiiMote.

6.12pm BST: Ubisoft Paris's Red Steel looks and plays fantastic. I will be getting this for sure. Graphic style is similar to Kingpin/Max Payne.

6:20pm BST: Free VoiP on DS via Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam. Star Fox for DS! Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! to be localised as Elite Beat Agents. WiFi Diddy Kong Racing looks similar to Mario Kart DS. Mario Hoops 3 on 3 and Final Fantasy III both developed by Square-Enix looks fantastic with its 3D graphics also on the DS. Killer line-up! No DS Lite European info though (as usual we here get shafted - even Aussies already have a date).

6:27pm BST: Satoru Iwata is poking fun at Sony's patented and industrial standard load time. :P

6:30pm BST: Wii Connect 24 will always be working/connected even in standbys. I am sure die-hard environmentalists will be furiously mad with this news on electricity wastage, especially in this day and age when we are being told that electrical equipments on standbys uses almost the same amount of power as when it is fully turned on.

6:31pm BST: Apparently Animal Crossing for the Wii will always be connected online even if you are not playing. I can already imagine visiting my mates towns at night while they are asleep and stealing their fruits and cutting their trees. LOL!

Shiggy again, this time demostrating the WiiMote in a Tennis game.

6:39pm BST: The Tennis game looks fun with Reggie, Miyamoto-san and Iwata-san and the AOL winner playing doubles. The AOL guy with no previous experience with the WiiMote just picks up the controller and started playing. This is what Nintendo meant by making games accessable to all ages. I believe Nintendo just owned Sony. ;)

6:43pm BST: Bummer. No price or date announced. But very excited.

Sony E3 nonsense

Is this the end of Sony? Probably not. But I really doubt anyone came out impressed by their E3 press conference. Cocky presentation. You can note the lack of enthusiasm from almost everyone, including Sony's Phil Harrison. Too many technical jargon, most of which I understand, but casual gamers would probably be put off by.

Graphics are sorely lacking and doesn't seem to fit the '4D' graphics that Sony touted. GT4 souped up with anti-aliased being presented for like 10 minutes. Xbox Live rip-off. The PS3 looks just as huge as an Xbox 360. If this is what Sony can muster I say that Nintendo has just won the next generation console gaming war.

Boring boring boring! I am going to bed now. You can still catch the whole thing live at Eurogamer's live text coverage or GameSpot's live feed.

What a farcical mess.

Update: So... the launch price for the PS3 will be US$500-US$600!

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Monday, May 8, 2006

Brimming with anticipation

5.30pm BST Tuesday Nintendo E3 press conference. Coverage at The Guardian and various gaming sites (eg. Eurogamer). The secrets will finally be revealed tomorrow. Then another five months of waiting for the hardware to roll out.

Thursday while commuting on the Tube, I sighted the first DS Lite in the wild (apart from my own). Glad to see people are finally gaming on the go. Of course I also saw three Sony PSPs (two who boarded at White City - BBC employees are Sony fanboys!). However both of them doesn't even come close to the number of Gameboy Advance SP I have seen in the wild (an idiot was playing Zelda Minish Cap with the maximum volume yesterday on the bus).

I am also happy to see single-format Animal Crossing: Wild World continue being in the top 10 multi-format UK chart beating cross-format games such as The Godfather and the utterly fantastic Oblivion. It is apparently number one in the French multi-format console chart as well. It's almost like an exact replica of a Japanese gaming chart. DS and PS2. Not surprising as Jennifer's French colleague recently purchased AC:WW and is totally engrossed by it.

And now that Metroid Prime Hunters is out in Europe, don't forget to add my friend code (and e-mail me yours) if you want to meet up online. I also checked out my mate's UK version and compared to the US box. I can conclude that while NoE is happy to charge UK consumers more, they are also happy at skimming on the quality of the printed cover. The shiny boxart of the US version (that changes hue when you turn it) is replaced by a third rated pseudo version that smudges. Ugh.

In other news, just when you thought that summer has finally arrived, clouds starts to pour in and decides to piss rain on you. Final proof that global warming isn't exactly working (its charge to bringing Mediterranean style weather here) and the patented British weather is here to stay. For now.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Local elections, Rooney debacle and Oxford Street preacher

Local elections is tomorrow (7am - 10pm). I am pretty peeved by British politics right now. There is virtually no difference between the three main parties. Many of their policies are virtually identical and do not play well with me at least and Lib Dem has gone downhill since last year's general election.

Local issues should be a priority of course and in my town it is the proposed West London tram system that has so far dominated local politics. Still, I can imagine that I probably would not turn up tomorrow - what with my stupid flu which has yet to cure itself! I could vote Green, but seriously, apart from the environment, what are their other policies?


Reading the back pages of dailies today only reveal the farcical that is of England footie and its current obsession with a lad called Wayne Rooney.

I wonder how many of the players feel that the media and football pundits has effectively written them off if Shrek didn't play. Isn't football team based? He may be good, but he isn't Pele or Maradona. You just can't create a team around one guy. This is why England will never win the World Cup this year. Everybody is just too hung up over the ogre.

It is a pathetic sight and boy am I glad that Mr. Eriksson will leave this summer. My knowledge on football strategy is limited to SI's CM3 but I do know that any competent manager wouldn't risk bringing an injured player to a tournie.


You remember Philip Howard? Well he was in the news today. Apparently Westminster council is planning to evict him. The Oxford Street preacher is a well known figure in West End and Oxford Street would just be dull without him, so I beg the council not to get rid of him, no matter how ridiculous his preaching is.

Also just two weeks ago another preacher (a woman) has emerged on Oxford Circus preaching with the same style ("Don't be a sinner, be a winner") as Philip Howard. Has Oxford Street preacher finally found himself a partner? What a sinner.

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Texas Instruments OMAP850

I can imagine the cries of dispair when the HTC Wizard was announced last year, that it would be powered by a Texas Instruments ARM processor. This especially after the debacle that was the HP iPAQ h6315. After using the Wizard for a week now, I can say that while the OMAP850 processor on the Wizard is only clocked at 200Mhz, it is speedy enough.

It isn't as fast as the 624Mhz processor on the Axim x50v, but it feels just slightly slower than Jennifer's HTC Magician (which has a 416Mhz Intel XScale PXA272 and a slightly unbloated OS). Put it this way, it feels twice as fast as my old Toshiba e310 with its Intel StrongARM 206Mhz. And that is with the bloated Windows Mobile 5.0 OS.

Specifically the OMAP850 contains two cores, an ARM926 application processor from ARM's family of ARM9E cores and a TI EDGE digital baseband chipset, the TCS3500 (an ARM7MCU coupled with Texas Instruments C54 DSP). Basically the workload of the Wizard (or any mobile device that uses the 850) is thus divided into the two cores (with some shared) as you can see from the diagram below (from Texas Instruments):

The ARM926 core controls the WiFi module, Infrared, LCD, buzzer, SD/MMC flash card and SDIO modules, LCD backlight, USB connection, battery, camera, LEDs and GPS (The Wizard doesn't have one).

As Windows Mobile 5.0 is a multi-task processor, processors has to divide up between the phone part of the OS and the PDA part. Receiving a call could slow the device down considerably, but the 3500 DSP is specifically there to deal with GSM calls.

It also controls EDGE data communications, although my service provider (o2 UK) has no EDGE network, so that is useless to me (Orange is the only network to offer EDGE in the UK). The DSP also handles the AC97 audio controller, SIM card, touch screen controller and part of the Bluetooth (voice), as well as the speakers.

Both of the cores share the load on memory controller, 2D graphic accelerator, keyboard and data Bluetooth.

The only slow down I noticed is when playing DivX encoded videos (above 500kbps and it would stutter) but overclocking to 240Mhz using OmapClock would sort it. Even sophisticated 3D games like Michael Schumacher Racing World Kart 2002 ran well. So don't sweat if the device you want contains a OMAP850.

But speed is a subjective matter, and what may seem okay to me may not be okay for you. You should trial any device to see if it fits. Don't let the stores pester you to purchase something. Stay as long as you want and force them to demo the units you want to purchase and make sure they have a reasonable return/exchange policy should you change your mind.

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TV Review: Lost season two

So... while we in Britain has just been treated with the opening two episodes of Lost Season Two on C4 (and the third on E4), Americans has already completed the season last week. All that crap about C4 'apologising' repeatedly to viewers and claiming to be making up to us by bringing season two "forward" is rather ironic don't you think?

Then there were the viral 'Hanso foundation' ads that BT placed during the two episodes, which is sort of a 'bonus' for is here. I hope no one wasted their time calling the freephone. But if you want to here it is: 0800 66 66 40 And that blurb about M:I:III that nobody cares.

You know I don't spend a lot trying to groom myself. I am lucky that the whole 'Metro-sexual' male fashion phenomenon is dying off, slowly being replaced by the scruffy look of 'indie-rock'. Sure the cast on Lost do look scruffy, but man, 44 days in and they still look fine. Except perhaps the fat guy after a month and a half trapped in a desert island has yet to lose any weight. Didn't the producers watch Cast Away?

Doctor hero's hair still looks finely manicured while Shannon appears to have a personal hair stylist. They all look beautiful, even the damn dog. Apart from fatty of course, but who gives a shit about him.

Flashback, as I like to nickname the irrelevant series, continues where season one ended with the totally unlikeable cast trying to figure out the alpha male. This time reluctant hero doctor tries to wrestle the lead with an Independence Day style presidential speech only to be hit back by wise ass Locke. Nice one.

It isn't a great start. With much of the relevant content of the first episode being repeated in the second episode of the night, you have to give props to Channel 4 for deciding to telecast the two episodes back to back, just like when season one was first shown. Of course when I said relevant content, I meant what is actually happening on the island.

As usual flashbacks feature aplenty with the first episode delving deeper into hero doctor personality. He has hair this time. It is sort of relevant this flashback but only just. The second episode goes into Michael's past (don't you just hate this character?). Flashbacks can be good thing though as it gave me time to watch some of When Lineker Met Maradona on BBC One.

But still I find myself wanting to know what the fuck is going on at that island, which explains why we are all hooked to this series. It is fairly disappointing that there aren't anymore polar bears of giant dinosaurs (security features), but I am quite intrigued by the mysterious Hanso Foundation.

Lost season two, Channel 4, Tuesdays 10pm

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