Friday, November 30, 2007

Prophet teddy bear on eBay

Please help this fugitive bear. While he may not be the same bear that is being prosecuted in Sudan, he shares the same name, therefore could be charged for impersonating a prophet. If he is caught I am sure the crazy Sudanese will burn him at the stake. Such is mob mentality. And all he did wrong was a common name. The poor soft cute innocent cuddly bear...

Sightings of the real fugitive bear in question ought to be reported to:

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan
3 Cleveland Row
St. James’s

Telephone: +44 207 839 8080

And while you are at it kindly remind your shameless government about Darfur. And to repel any archaic blasphemy laws.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

(Spoilers) Heroes season/volume 2 house cleaning

Apparently in next week's volume two back-up finale of Heroes, when they will cram four episodes worth of materials into one episode, a major house cleaning will occur. Meaning plenty of unnecessary boring characters will be killed off. Yay. Confirmed are at least two heroes (evolved humans with power) will die and a villain will rise. Obviously since they decided to bring back H.R.G. after 5 minutes of lifelessness, death has become meaningless in the Heroes world now. Anyway who do you think the two dead heroes will be? I have no idea, but I do like to speculate.

Niki - Her storyline bores the hell out of me. Her dying will hopefully spur Micah to actually do something useful other than moan or read comics or moan or dream of being a hero. She will most likely die saving St. Joan.

Matt - He was 'shot' at like five times during last season's finale and he somehow managed to recover. If he survives any shooting next week I would go livid. Frankly I find the character very uninteresting and his willingness to dive into people's mind is the opposite of heroism. Professor Xavier he isn't.

Maya - Rumour has it that she will be killed off only to be brought back alive using Mo's deus ex machina veil of wonder blood. Which would be annoying. But so far the writers of this season has exhibited an unnatural liking to her boring storyline so we may yet see more of this crazy annoying character next season. Come on Sylar, kill her already.

West - He isn't a villain after all. Still looks like one though. Flying boy will most likely survive the massacre but he will is also likely to be written off as the Bennetts goes into hiding. Which is okay. If I wanted to watch teenage super heroes getting all luvvy I will be watching Smallville instead.

Bob - Bob was an interesting character the first couple of episodes but since then is shown to be a rather lame duck with only a couple of good one-liners. So just maybe they will kill him off. But Bob and Elle daddy/daughter issue is also much more interesting than Claire's. Maybe Elle will kill him out of vengeance.

Elle - Elle's personal issues with Peter, Bob and Claire (okay, pretty much everyone) has yet to be resolved so I doubt she will be going anywhere soon. If anything I am sure the writers would be wanting to give Caitlin a chance to whack her a little bit and we know when Caitlin is stuck in. Personally I hope she fries Caitlin and makes out with Claire. And she makes a great sociopathic villain. Go Elle!

Nathan - Peter is a little bit of an idiot this season and him killing Nathan would prove his ultimate idiocy. That or Nathan dies protecting him, again. Either way he will most likely contract the virus as seen in Peter's future timeline.

Claire - She is obviously immortal so she can't die (yet). Sometimes I wish she would, if only to stop her from moaning. Her wishing to be 'normal' has been discussed and explored in depth last season and yet the writers decided that we can take in more of the exact same melodrama. I really can't be bothered by her daddy issues any longer.

Peter going all X-Men. W00ooo...

Peter - He won't die simply because the creator of the show moulded the character after himself! And creators don't usually go killing off their favourite characters. Personally I find the character to be so gullible this year. If I was a writer I would kill him off just to shake things up and balance the show. Peter just has too many power.

Hiro - I doubt he will be killed off. This guy is one of two reasons people are watching Heroes. In fact many people identify Hiro as the Heroes (is it a coincidence that his names is Hiro?). Also James Kyson Lee is a principal cast. Just what will Ando do without Hiro? We can't watch him surf for porn forever.

Sylar - Unless they want to destroy the other reason people are watching Heroes I doubt they will kill him off. He will probably regain his powers, get killed off only to be resurrected yet again next season/volume.

Adam - This guy is an immortal hence he can't die. But he can be defeated.

93% of the population - With Peter acting all trusting Adam will succeed in releasing the virus.

So there you go. I really have no clue apart from maybe 99% sure that Niki will die. What I am sure we will be getting is a rushed and cramped back-up season 'finale' with plenty of cliffhangers that won't be solve possibly until Autumn 2008. Bugger.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wii round-up

If there is one thing that Super Mario Galaxy proved is that somewhere in Nintendo's Kyoto headquarters there are still people who loves playing video games. And thank god for that. SMG is one of the best platforming video games, ever. It easily surpass Super Mario 64 (which to be honest I never really got into it) and is easily the only game that comes close to demonstrating the full potential of the Wii platform with its gravity gameplay and spherical platforms (planets).

It isn't a perfect game (camera for one can get annoying) and like New Super Mario Bros., can be pretty easy for the seasoned players. The lack of cohesive plot may put off some but then again since when did anybody played a Mario game for its storyline? The visual design while brilliant isn't helped by the lack of the Wii's lack of graphical power, but at least it is very very pretty. Worth dusting off your Wii for.

If platforming isn't your cup of tea, then you may want to pass this as well. The third game in the Metroid Prime sub-series is more of a technology showcase for the Wiimote's FPS capability. Do not get me wrong. Like Metroid Prime: Hunters, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was fun and if anything goes it only cements the truth that the gameplay future of console first person shooter genre lies not with clunky dual analogue controllers, but with 3D mouse waggles.

Let me be honest again, I was never a fan of, as Nintendo puts it, the first person adventuring genre (FPS + platforming). To me FPS is about brain-less fragging, something the Nintendo DS game provided via its flawed online multiplayer system. Unfortunately no such online set-up exists here and that is a shame. The Wii is crying for a Quake III: Arena style game and Retro had the perfect opportunity to provide it here but bailed out for some reason. Fortunately Corruption is, as a single player game, fun and engaging despite its GameCube traits. I recommend it as a rental title.

For European Wii owners the Virtual Console has just been recently updated with a quality SNK title. The King of Fighters '94 is the first in the series that combined the best of SNK other series like Fatal Fury and Ikari Warriors. It also introduces some gameplay elements that has since been adopted by future KOF titles. Here you are forced to select a pre-defined (grouped under countries) three-person team then determine the order in which each fighter goes out to fight. It has since become a staple to the series. Not that I recommend the purchase of this on Virtual Console as this is the same game you've played at arcades, MVS kits and emulators before.

I still debate the usefulness of Virtual Console but if you have to play a retro game you can't go wrong with any King of Fighters series, even if it would be a modestly priced lesson in the history of mid-90s 2D fighter genre. But heed my advice first: do not purchase this until NoE confirms that what you will be getting are 60Hz (don't count on it), none-censored and Mai's jiggly boobs.

SMG: 9/10
MP3: 7/10
KOF: 6/10
Super Mario Galaxy: Amazon UK Play-asia
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Amazon UK Play-asia

Sunday, November 25, 2007

World Cup qualifying deja vu

2010 World Cup qualifying draw has been made and England has been lumped into the same group as Croatia. Forgetting the events from the last few days, the media and fans are already claiming that this is the easiest group (echoing what was said months ago when the Euro qualifying draw was done) and that the football team will qualify easily. Select LOL comments from BBC's 606 forum:
As an England fan i think this will be a great, exciting and a easy group for us.

croatia are just riding a high... england will be the team to beat in group 6

Ah nice and easy group...England will destroy all the opponents! Croatia beware, this time we will knock you out of the world cup....mark my words!!

i think croatia or greece were the weakest in pot 1 so weve done well to draw one of them!

That's a pretty good draw. With McClaren out of the way that should pretty much guarantee qualification. I'd imagine the Croatians are pretty dismayed out the draw. They better start planning their play off tactics now.

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland have a great chance to qualify. Wales, not so much.

Great group for England there and i just know we're going to get revenge against Croatia and claim back our right full place in the top 10 fifa rankings.

That is an easy group for us. We'll beat Croatia this time because we won't have a tactically inept manager. Group 2 is a joke.

in fact, looking at the ability on paper of england's group. if england fail to qualify, i will actually cry.

So it shouldn't be too bad, i think we will easily qualify with all these players fit!

We are better than Croatia, home or away, but poor tactics, a porr (sic) manager, team selection, injuries and two goalkeeping errors would do well to all go Croatia's way again.
And here is a winner by none other than multi-millionaire wonder boy failure Michael Owen:
I don't think any of the Croatian team would get into our team.
Typical over confidence and arrogance. I can't wait to see them fail again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mobile Review: Motorola MOTORAZR2 V8

The Motorola MOTORAZR2 platform is the latest iteration in its slim fashion RAZR portfolio. Here is a review of the V8 variant of it. It isn't mine but I had a couple of days of chance familiarising with it.

The RAZR2 V8 is a very sleek and thin phone and has a fantastic 2" external QVGA screen. On the inside you will find a slightly larger (but still smallish) 2.2" QVGA screen with good brightness and outdoor visibility. At 117g it is heavy for a phone this small, but take that as a compliment. The weight gives it a luxurious solid feel. This isn't surprising as Motorola has given the V8 a stainless steel body with glass. You will not be wanting to drop this because this thing only looks lovely when it is scratch-free. Unfortunately the glossy look means that it is a fingerprint magnet. On the back is the battery compartment. Yes slim phones can have removable battery Steve.

The V8 runs on a modified Linux kernal with a much improved MotoMAGX UI (The RAZR2 V9 on the other hand runs on an archaic version of close-source Moto OS). The UI is powered by two soft keys, a d-pad and back button. It is extremely quick (thanks to the 500Mhz ARM11 processor) though it lacks the fluidity and the ease-of-use of Nokia's feature phone OS Series 40. There are no native applications (yet) but it does support Java applications (memory heap is 2MB). Text messages can be viewed via the external screen and you can even reply using pre-set messages. Texting by the way, is a much improved experience over previous Motorola though I still prefer Nokia's T9 solution.

The V8 when plugged-in is USB Mass Storage and MTP compliant. You can sync via Windows Media Player 11 or just drag and drop your music folders onto the rather insulting 512MB flash memory. It is very simple and works out of the box with no software needed. The music player supports MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, Real Audio and WAV formats. Music can be controlled via the partially touch sensitive external screen. You will be glad to know that the V8's Bluetooth 2 EDR+ also supports A2DP and AVRCP profiles so you can enjoy your music wirelessly. There is also an external speaker (with surprisingly good fidelity and volume) to annoy your fellow train passengers with.

The web browser is fully HTML compliant with CSS and Javascript support and is powered by Opera 8.50. Personally I would recommend downloading Opera Mobile 4 for web surfing via EDGE (slow). Themes also happens to be fully configurable and editable on the V8 which is a nice touch. What isn't nice though are the lack of Nokia-like phone profiles. You can select from a pre-set of 'Ring', 'Ring and Vibrate', 'Vibrate then Ring', 'Vibrate' and 'Silent' and nothing else. For shame Motorola. Phone quality is excellent and on-par with any high-end mobile phones as was the reception.

One other important bit that Motorola finally got right is the out-of-box ability to sync. The calendar and contacts can be synced over-the-air via Motorola's SyncML compatible software (cleverly named MotoSync). So are your Microsoft ActiveSync Exchange powered e-mail accounts. Finally Outlook users will appreciate that the V8's PIM suite is fully sync'able via the bundled AvanQuest software (Vista/XP compatible). Even if you don't use Outlook then you can still edit the PIMs via the included software. You can even type SMS on your PC. It just works and even more reliable than Microsoft's ActiveSync efforts, I have to admit. Speaking of PIM applications I am sure some of you will find it a relief that the V8 supports multiple fields such as addresses in its Contact program. Finally.

The V8, like the Iphone, is severely crippled. Just why did Motorola decide to omit an expansion slot to supplement the pitiful 512MB on-board flash is beyond me. The usefulness of the multimedia softwares are therefore extremely limited by the lack of supporting hardware, such as the crap 2 Megapixel sans-autofocus camera. The V8 had a massive potential to be a great phone but with Nokia releasing plenty of desirable feature phones and N-series multimedia smartphones, and Sony Ericsson churning out excellent Walkman phones, it just doesn't make the cut. Thanks to Motorola's management what we have here is a decent but average (albeit nice looking) flip phone that doesn't have the same impact as the original RAZR or StarTAC did. Also note that I am not calling this a smartphone because Motorola has yet to release a SDK for their new Linux based OS (hurry up already).

Fortunately, unlike the Iphone, the V8 is available for £0 (also known as free) on a £20 per month 12-month O2 contract. So you will be saving at least £660 for something that is as functional (phone wise and then some) and you can spend part of the savings on a much more useful digital audio player like this fantastic 8GB Sony A818.

Friday, November 23, 2007

TV Review: Dexter season 2 (recap)

This is a none spoiler-free recap of Dexter season two episode one through eight. It contains spoilers from season one (spoiler-free review here) so beware.

I like it that the end of season one of Dexter didn't leave any major cliffhangers. Sure more questions were left dangling than answered, but the crucial aspect of the "Ice Truck Killer" story arc was finally resolved and put to rest, so to speak. Dexter killing his own brother was one of the most pivotal milestone in his journey to self discovery and I was glad the writers didn't fudge it.

Season two begins with a couple of crisis for Dexter (Michael C. Hall) meant to create an overall arc for the next twelve episodes. Convinced that Dexter is connected to the "Ice Truck Killer", serial angry copper Sergeant Doakes (Erik King) starts stalking him. Also his dearly damaged sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) decides to crash over at his place while she attempts to recover from her failed relationship with Rudy Cooper. Combined with the stress from killing the only person who would ever accept the monster within, Dexter even botches up two separate night killings. Lastly his underwater graveyard was uncovered by a team of treasure hunters. Yes, it has been an awful awful awful start for our favourite fictional serial killer.

Dexter attempts to pass off as human

Again Dexter is in a perfect position within the Miami Metro Police Department to throw off the investigation and at times he does succeed. Some other times he doesn't and paints himself dangerously close to being revealed as the media dubbed "Bay Harbour Butcher". For quite a number of time we find Dexter close to revealing his humanity, which when arises would cause him to lose grip and control. Dexter's investigation into his foster father's dark secrets and his role in the death in his mother's death also introduces more turmoil to the already conflicted character.

Like season one the supporting characters aren't really as interesting as Dexter Morgan. But it is pleasing to find the writers giving them more prominent roles this season with more character driven side-plots. Doakes is as usual the angry copper who is onto Dexter's and if episode eight is of any concern to you, he does find Dexter's blood trophy case. Girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) is less damaged than before but her transformation from a lame-duck to someone who manages to set her mother in her place is vivid. If only she knows she is dating a serial killer. Deb on the other hand is now seriously as damaged as her brother and dates a man who reminds her of her father. You can't blame her though - her fiancée did attempt to slice and dice her.

There are a couple of new recurring characters for season two. First up is Lila (Jaime Murray of Hustle), an annoying British junkie whom Dexter meets when he attends a twelve step drug addiction recovery program. Dexter develops a close relationship with this sociopath (who is equally as crazy as Dexter) and his relax attitude to the Code of Harry this season is partly thanks to her interference. Personally I find her a bloody annoying character and if there is justice in TV world her chopped up body would be swimming through the gulf stream by the season finale. Also drafted in is Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) whose relationship with Deb may prove to be the downfall to Dexter. That and bringing a sensible dose to the reality of office politics.

Twisted as he may be, Dexter remains a character that viewers will find truly captivating, alluring and possibly sympathetic - and these are partly because of Michael C. Hall's performance. While season two has yet to equal season one in terms of suspense, the stakes has risen dramatically for Dexter just as he is trying to be 'normal'. Subsequently the emergent of the Dark Defender from within adds another layer on the complex character that is the 'new' Dexter, one that even disregards the 'Code' - as highlighted when Dexter threatens Lila so tastefully. Emotionally he is at his weakest point with him struggling to juggle his secret life with his false one. Despite the lack of clear villain this season, judging by the quality of episode one through eight, Dexter season two so far is undeniably brilliant TV.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth review

In so many ways the PSP has been slowly turning into the platform for RPG fans. It took me some time to realise it but hei, I finally bagged a lent PSP Slim. And in it was a UMD of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. I did say I wanted to play Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, but no... I had to replay Valkyrie Profile, again. It was this or the new Silent Hill game. Silent Hill isn't my cup of tea, so it was Valkyrie Profile. Who would say not to that, especially when I just finished Silmeria and haven't touched the original Valkyrie Profile for some years now (I no longer own an imported PSOne).

Apart from playing through an illegally modified PSOne or emulators, chances are the only way you will ever play this highly regarded tri-Ace's classic Valkyrie Profile game is through this little dinky machine (Oo.... so sexy). Or whenever Square-Enix decides to release the game on PSN (which is never). You can also pick up the sequel, Silmeria, out now on the PS2 (RPG of the year), but you really ought to play this classic first.

Lenneth is an improved Square-Enix'fied port of the original Valkyrie Profile game. It isn't a straight forward port. With this new version you gain a new 16:9 aspect ratio (Oo... beautiful screen), totally new pre-rendered CG FMVs (which replaces the original anime videos) and other little bonuses littered here and there. Apart from that not very much has changed, which is a good thing. The original hand drawn backgrounds and detailed sprites remains. Kudos to anonymous video game developer TOSE for not screwing up this classic with unnecessary add-ons and 'features'.

Rather than playing tired old jRPG cliché characters that are a ragtag of orphans out to save the world, the Valkyrie Profile series are based on Norse mythology, with artistic license. Here you play as the warrior maiden, goddess Lenneth, the Valkyrie sent to Midgard (Earth) by Odin to scour for the defeated souls of fallen warriors and prepare them for the final celestial battle between Asgard and Vanir during the upcoming Ragnarok. Recruits are trained in dungeons and then sent to Valhalla where they prepare for the final showdown.

In essence part of the gameplay is about recruitment and character judgement. Not all Tom, Dick and Harry is worthy of becoming an Einherjar, so choose wisely. You will have eight chapters and 192 days (periods) to bolster the Æsir army. Flying on the world map Lenneth can sense either a soul almost giving up or a dungeon where tasks can be completed. Recruits that you choose will have a bearing on how the game turns out and which ending you obtain. Wonder around and fly to a wrong town and you lose two periods. Odin is an impatient bloke and if you don't succeed in reaping enough quality souls then once the final chapter is up you will witness Asgard losing.

The Valkyrie's conscripts can be toughen up with more combat experience by increasing their 'Hero level'. If you obtain a good 'evaluation' then you will be rewarded rare artefacts. Pay attention to these 'reports' from Freya as you will hear of news from the front of the battlefield at Asgard. The war above the skies are happening in real time and if the recruits are not properly trained or you fail to send Einherjars, then the Sacred War will be lost and a bad ending awaits you. Additionally you may decide to withhold a combatant for the next chapter rather than sending him up to aid the war effort, to bolster your own party (such as with Lucian) or if an Einherjar isn't deemed ready yet.

Dungeons are two-dimensional Castlevania-like designs with multiple planes. Much like a platformer the smallish cute sprite of Lenneth can walk, jump and do other Mario-esque moves. Ice crystals can be evoked to create temporal method of travel for hard to reach places. Don't ask me why a Valkyrie can't fly in dungeons as I do not know. Anyway ice crystals can also be used to freeze enemies and give possible advantage when entering battles. Slashing an enemy (which are visible on the field) will also initiate the battle.

Battles are an intense mixture of menu-based combat system and turn-based with real-time button presses. Each face button is tied to a corresponding party member so you could easily button mash your way through early on (though not recommended). Combos can be unleashed through combining right button presses. Spells and other RPG cliché weaponry can also be assessed via the menu and are standard RPG flair. There are no MP systems here. Instead you have something called the Charge Time. These is the number of turns needed before a character can invoke a special attack or for a Mage to cast spells. Reducing CT can be quickened through various methods such as equipping with certain accessories.

The port isn't without its problems though. An inherit issue of releasing a game on the UMD meant that load times could have been quicker if they released it via... say flash memory. Waiting for the menu can be a pain, but I am used to it in Dragon Quest VIII. Animations are blurry too and slow downs does occur during intense fight sequences. The background is stretched due to the new aspect ratio, which isn't a good thing. Controls particularly those when needed during platforming can be a little erratic but this is more of a design fault with the PSP's little weird analogue stick.

I am not too concern over the need to search of save points (only newbies would complain about that), but a compromised quick saves system like that implemented in Final Fantasy III DS remake is useful for the odd quick play while waiting for the bleedin' bus under the rain. It is supposed to be a portable title after all. Also while the cinematics are nicely done, I find it unsightly when compared to the chibi style sprites used in the gameplay. The steep learning curve may also put off casual gamers, but who gives a damn about them anyway? Except Nintendo I mean.

So while the PSP still has a long way to go in order to match the SNES and PS2 for its abundance of quality RPG materials, Lenneth is a good first step. At the end of the day it is still a port, even if it is a port of a terrific game, I do hope we will see more original materials for the PSP (even then when - not if - I eventually purchase a PSP, NiS port Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness would be my number one purchase). As for Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, if you are a RPG fan who has yet to enjoy the delight that was Valkyrie Profile and also happens to own a PSP, you owe it to yourself to play this classic and its PS2 sequel.

- Story telling at its finest
- Hand drawn background
- Unconventional RPG
- Engrossing battle system
- Occasional slow downs
- Menu load times
- The lack of thought-out portable save system


You can buy this from Amazon UK or import it from Play-Asia

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

lol England

It was fun switching between BBC One's Match of the Day and E4 this evening. Watching Croatia kicking a bunch of overpaid prima donnas in the arse at Wembley and Victoria Beckham making a fool out of herself in Ugly Betty was worth it. Never laughed and cheered as much in my entire life. The facial expressions of the talking heads 'experts' were priceless.

Can't wait to see tomorrow's over-analytical press reaction. It should be a fun next few days... \o/

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An archbishop who makes sense

Nobel peace price winner South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Anglican Church and particularly Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams as being obsessed with the issue of homosexuals.

He attacked the homophobic culture of the Anglican church and mentioned that he would be ashamed if of his church if membership is based on sexual orientation. As a man of faith, Desmond Tutu has demonstrated more rationality than any other religious or political leaders in modern time. His attitude against conservatism and bigotry is welcomed in an increasingly intolerant and hateful world. It is truly an eye opener that such a speech can come from a religious being.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

LifeSigns: Surgical Unit / Hospital Affairs review

The success of the Nintendo DS platform has attracted a number of specialised publishers, whose sole goal is to increase as much shovelware as possible while stealing your money at the same time.

Starting today I will attempt to write a review of an obscure and niche DS game that you should get, but probably have to heard of. The first is LifeSigns: Surgical Unit (Kenshuui Tendo Dokuta 2: Inochi no Tenbin in Japan, LifeSigns: Hospital Affairs in UK). This is actually the second game in the Tendo Dokuta series but the first localised in English. It is not known if the first game will ever be released to non-kanji reading audience but if sales are encouraging, there would be no reason for the publishers not to.

LifeSigns: Surgical Unit is a part point and click adventure game, part dating sim and part surgery sim. Comments that the game is a mixture of Scrubs, Gyakuten Saiban and Trauma Center isn't too far from the truth. Unlike Trauma Center: Under the Knife (the first game actually came out before Trauma Center in Japan) however, the storyline is much more involving and any surgeries are here to advance the plot rather than vice versa (as in Trauma Center). So while Trauma Center was a fun, but soulless puzzle game based on quick reaction skills; LifeSigns is so much more than that blending hospital drama with off the odd work or two.

Here you role play as a second year intern, Dr. Tendo. Part of your job involves speaking with patients and colleagues within the Seimei Medical University Hospital. While dealing with both professional and personal issues is part of the game, the process are light hearted enough. Gameplay is divided into 'adventuring' and 'surgery'. Patients are first diagnosed through a physical using a variety of method at Dr. Tendo's disposal. Once diagnosis is complete you can order blood tests, x-ray scans, ultrasound and other advanced examinations. Unlike Trauma Center, the procedures involved are actually more detailed, which should not be surprising as Trauma Center is more of a puzzle game and omit diagnosis altogether.

Once diagnosis is done your priority is to schedule for surgery. At the same time Dr. Tendo can usually relax and walk around the general hospital chatting with patient's relatives and other staff. Nurse Florence for example is a good source of gossip, whose information is more useful than just general chatter. Researching patient's background is important to the game and like any hospitals, whether real life or fictional, we meet all sorts of people there including estranged family members and other crazies. So take you time to wonder around and you may find that dating to be something of a Dr. Tendo speciality! Moving around is simple. A map will appear and you just navigate to the dots that are available. Tap on a person to speak with them. Like Gyakuten Saiban you can enquire or solve problems by presenting files to the person.

Prepping for surgeries for example involves getting the anaesthesiologist (whose grumpy personality bears a passing resemblance to Liz Cruz from Nip/Tuck) ready and having a pre-OP meeting. Once pre-OP is done, the real 'meat' of the game begins. Surgeries at the OR involves using the stylus as an instruments much like in Trauma Center and allows you to perform precise surgical operation. Suturing, incisions and other operating methods are involved. Instruments are automatically given to you and pressing the 'L' or 'R' button will temporary display an outline of what needs to be done. The top screen displays an animation of Dr. Tendo and the assisting consultant performing the surgery, where as the bottom screen is where the action takes place. Visually surgeries are pretty realistic like a detailed drawing from textbooks.

When not dealing with patients Dr. Tendo has his own private problems that you have to attempt to resolve between surgeries, such as office politics and the odd office romance. As evident in medical drama series like E.R., House and the-most-boring-TV-show-ever-created-in-the-history-of-mankind Grey's Anatomy these can exert a massive pressure on fictional physicians. Decisions that Dr. Tendo make here, and on the operating table leads to multiple endings, a nice bonus to the usual linear path usually favoured by lazy developers and writers.

While the game isn't too challenging, the procedures involved in getting to surgeries including diagnose, pre-OP and other hospital drama, makes accomplishing surgeries much more satisfying. Part of the problem however is getting into the back story to Dr. Tendo. It is evident early one that playing the first game is an optional requisite to get the gist of his relationship with his colleagues and father. Despite that, even the odd translation niggles; the good story, nice manga/anime style visuals with fluid animation sprites and multiple endings you will have a DS cart worth inserting into your DS.


You can buy it here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rape victim flogged

Of all the money spent by British government to turn the country into a police state because of 'terrorism fears', you have to wonder about the amount of money New Labour spends on cementing their special relationship with countries like Saudi Arabia... Of course it is all about the oil.

A woman who was gang-raped 14 times today found out that her punishment was increased to 200 lashes and six months in prison. Her seven attackers meanwhile got off lightly with jail sentences ranging from two to nine years. Her lawyer had his license revoked and will face discipline action for doing his job. Because of some misguided and twisted human love for this thing called religion.

BBC News

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Some gaming news

Variety has details up regarding a new Ghostbusters video game to be published by Vivendi. Just look at the screenshot of Marshmallow Man (well, a target renfder, but whatever) above and tell me it isn't brilliant. The four principal cast from the films - Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis will be lending their voice and image likeness for the game as will other supporting casts like Annie Potts and William Atherton. Aykroyd and Ramis will also be writing parts of the scripts. Game of the decade surely.


BioWare's next major game Mass Effect, will be banned in grumpy ol' Singapore due to "homosexuals" scenes within the game. Surprise? Well you shouldn't. Apparently their PM's logic was that "the city-state should keep its conservative values and not allow special rights for homosexuals". You mean does not allow any equal rights for homosexuals right while maintaining special rights for cronies? You can watch a video here to see what the fuss is all about. Frankly I have seen much worse when I last visited Singapore so I really have no idea why the country is back peddling.


Early estimates for last week's Japanese hardware sales has put the PS3 ahead of the Nintendo Wii for the first time since like forever. This includes one week of normal (60GB) PS3 sales and one day of the new cheaper (especially with the crazy exchange rate) 40GB PS3. Sales are encouraging and any Nintendo fanboys who thinks this is a bad thing are idiots. Competition is good. Nintendo has been arrogant for far too long taking the easy route of appealing to non-gamers. I think many gamers are getting irritated, including yours truly. I have never felt more regret in getting a Wii than anything else.

Continuing with the Wii, the BBC's lead technology article on the supposed low supplies of the console this Christmas has been consistently in the top 5 most e-mail and read articles on BBC News yesterday according to their little widget. This can only be a good thing as Nintendo's marketing ploy would mean high demand/low supply = high profitability for used Wii.


I normally frown on such practices, but hei when there are no games worth playing then it is better to let go for now and re buy it after Christmas when the price drops back down to below £160. Maybe after renting Super Mario Galaxy.


Not understanding the logic by Nintendo in not bringing over an official translated version of MOTHER 3, but then again they started hating video games when they saw the amount of non-games money they can make (see above). For the non-Japanese speaking gaming fans waiting patiently to play the game, the MOTHER 3 fan translation team has released a video marking the first anniversary when the unofficial translation began at

Great trailer. I tried to play the game in Japanese once and it gave me a headache so I will be waiting for the time when the wonderful team finally release the full patch.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toy Review: Square-Enix's Chocobo and Rabite phone straps

These are cute kawaii phone straps that any Final Fantasy fans should not miss. We have two here: a classic Chocobo from the main Final Fantasy series and a Rabite/Rabi from the spin-off Seiken Densetsu/Mana series.

The colours are actually much more vivid than captured in the images above. The built is excellent (especially compared to those cheapo fake phone straps you get in Chinatown) and the paint job quality is comparable to some of Square-Enix's larger merchandise such as their Final Fantasy III trading art figures.

Also available in the series are Cactuar/Sabotender, classic Moogle and Tonberry. These official Square-Enix licensed products and retails for around ¥840 each.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nokia 1011 and BBC's unhealthy Iphone coverage

Today is the 15th anniversary of the first commercially available mass produced GSM mobile phone - the Nokia 1011. I remember the time before GSM phones were the norm when people would carry ridiculously large ART compatible carphones that look more like toolboxes. Good times. Now GSM with its unique SIM card implementation is the widest and most adopted of mobile technology. What was once a luxury is now affordable throw away commodity.

Incidentally my first GSM mobile was the Motorola StarTAC 75+. It was a cutting edge mobile back then and did everything I wanted that the Iphone can, and easier (it has a keypad after all) too.

Speaking of mobile phones, it is good to see my license fee being spent on unnecessary and frankly undeserved amount of coverage on an unproven, sub par and technologically challenged phone. BBC's technology (and the majority of mainstream UK media) coverage is starting to look more like Engadget's and Gizmodo's.

Update: I went to Brent Cross today to shop for a cheap phone for a relative. Carphone Warehouse and O2 were almost empty with nobody buying the much hyped phone. I even witness a sale of an old school N95 without 8GB. Granted I only spent about 15 minutes in each store but it wasn't the 'rush' and 'surge' that the media would have liked us to believe. The Apple Store here was crowded as usual but the people here were mainly made up with the standard conscript of iSheeps, minders and not too many phone purchasers.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

eBay fraudsters

For the first time in my nine years of online auction history I have finally been targeted by a Nigerian scammer through a hijacked legal account. This despite banning everyone registered outside the UK and those without credit card on file from bidding.

Although it is my first time, they are easy to spot enough. The fact that they request the item to be send it to another country easily raised the alarm. But putting the word "Africa" in it should be enough for anyone to immediately report it to the police. If eBay does not accept that you have a potential fraudster posing as a buyer, then just ignore the buyer. Even if it means denting that perfect 100% feedback.

Another thing even if they offer to pay by PayPal they can still reverse charge you, even if you withdraw the money from the account to a bank account. I am thinking of ditching eBay altogether for any listings that exceeds £50 and just use Gumtree. It simply isn't worth the pain or hassle.

*sigh* I really do wish Yahoo! would bring back Yahoo! Auctions to the UK.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sam & Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die! for free (PC)

Telltale Games is offering the fourth episode of Sam & Max: Season One for free. Abe Lincoln Must Die! was one of the better episodes from the first season so there really is no reason not to play it, then buy Season One once you get yourself hooked. It is not known if this would be a limited offer or something permanent. Anybody with a reasonable three year old PC should be able to play the game just fine, so go download it now!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mother dies because of religion

Via BBC News, a 22 year old mother died after refusing to be given blood after the birth of her twins because of her religion.

Doctors, faced with a moral dilemma, apparently begged Emma Gough's husband and family to overrule her insistent not to have blood transfusion; but the family stood their ground and rather see a love one die because of their beliefs. And this is in a country where euthanasia on the terminally ill is illegal and sinful (which is utter tosh).

The family are now grieving because of their own stupidity. The stupidity to risk a person's healthy life because of a religion - a skewed interpretation of a rule in a thousand year old best seller. The mind boggles on why human beings willingly surrender to faith and are are unable to think for themselves.

And now her twins will have to grow up without a mother. The silly selfish woman who deserves a Darwin award but disqualified.

Autumn bike ride

Beautiful autumn day yesterday morning. Went biking on a stretch of the Grand Union Canal for roughly 17 miles.

Maximum speed was 25mph according to MemoryMap.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Touch Detective 2 1/2 review

The first Touch Detective heroine's antic was captivating enough to warrant a purchase of its sequel Touch Detective 2 1/2. Bumbling detective on hire Mackenzie whose resume includes that of hunting for a 'Dream stealer' returns for yet more bizarre antics as she continues her adventures.

Now an officially licensed detective, Mackenzie begins the game with a short tutorial, much like in the first game where she is trapped in her room with her mushroom pet. Once that is out of the way the first case begins with Mackenzie's biggest client Penelope whose trouble now involves pink noodles being stolen from the town.

There are a total of five cases with each connected in some way with each other rather, much like Capcom's Gyakuten Saiban 3, which provides an overall plot line and an actual main villain. Returning to the game is Chloe, her arch enemy detective whose naivety equals that of Mackenzie.

Touch Detective 2 1/2
's puzzles are more or less the same as it was on the first game - that is almost none-existent. It isn't to say that the game is easy, but the lack of cohesive puzzle mechanics and by virtues of the good ol' process of elimination most players should be able to progress through the game with no problem. It may be annoying but you certainly would not need a PhD to go through the end.

Continuing its dialogue engine from the previous game is Mackenzie's inner monologue, which appears on the top screen through a thought bubble, usually when she is questioning as part of her investigation. I always find it unique in role-playing games to be able to read what a character's real thoughts are. This form of expression is certainly unique in the medium though it may prove confusing to some people to read two concurrent dialogue.

The visuals are one of the greatest asset of the series with the same 2.5D graphic engine making a return. Characters are rendered in 3D superimposed on gorgeous pre-rendered backgrounds that serves as locations. Visual style is a bit difficult to describe but is similar to Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Touch Detective 2 1/2 (Mystery Detective II in UK) isn't a game for everyone. But it is a charming and funny enough video game that warrants a serious look by point and click adventure genre fans. Fans of classic Monkey Island, Sam & Max and Gyakuten Saiban should not give this a miss.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Preview of new Tube map

Via London Underground blog, a preview of the new Tube map by Transport for London has been making its way around the web. At first glance it is clear that the new map is definitely more busy and far more complex than the previous map. The most relevant inclusion is obviously the new Heathrow Terminal 5 station, signalling the end to the Heathrow loop.

The most significant addition to the new map however are the new London Overland service specifically Watford Junction to Euston, Richmond to North Woolwich, Gospel Oak to Barking and Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction. This former Silverlink metro services (bye bye, London won't miss ya!) will be managed by TfL and MTR Laing from 11 November when Oystercards will become valid on these lines. Joining the service in 2010 will be the East London line. Future plans includes reintegrating the Watford DC service back into the Bakerloo Line with six or seven car trains.

Personally I find the (current) new map to be overcomplicated. The integration between London Underground and Overground is almost none-existent with minimal interchanges that I believe the old London National Rail maps should be sufficient enough. Also I find the disability access signs as detrimental to the aesthetic quality of the map. I believe that such informations would be better served on alternative specialised maps. It seems to me that TfL is reversing all the things we loved about the Tube Map that Harry Beck has given us. But it is still the best metro map in the world.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

TV Review: Dexter season one

is the latest American TV import that has caught my attention, no less due to the inclusion of Michael C. Hall as the title character. The format is of police forensics kind but unlike oh-so-boring C.S.I. or Bones, Hall's character is an anti-hero - whose lust for blood is the centre theme to this series.

Dexter Morgan is a clever and calculated Miami based blood splatter expert working for the Miami police. He also happens to moonlight as a serial killer with an unruly sense of justice and articulate form of applying his form of justice. His skills that allows him to adept well to both his day and night 'jobs'. Night is certainly when he hones his morbid 'craft' as he picks his victims and 'plays' with them.

Dexter's killing urge begins at a young age from the moment he was taken in by his foster parents. But rather than shunning and locking the devil up, his father who happens to be a police detective, actually encourages him to 'channel' his morbid curiosity on people who really deserves it. He holds a unique position where he is able to play two roles, using his insider knowledge to cover his tracks and to hunt down new victims. Sort of like Death Note, but even more compelling.

Despite his morally ambiguous role, you will find yourself rooting for Dexter, partly because he is equally as brilliant as our most beloved fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter and because he is sort of likeable, in a creepy sort of way. Ultimately he is sort of the lesser of two evils. For a serial killer Dexter understands that he has a hollow soul and is adamant that nothing could stop or change him. Dexter's acceptance that he is a monster is unique within fictional psychopathic characters where many are in denial to whom they are. He kills not for justice, because of his desire to play with blood. Justice is just a bonus outcome of his actions, most of is based on the "code of conduct" devised by his father.

Hall's performance as Dexter has been brilliant so far. It is complete opposite to his last major TV role as the embattled gay undertaker David Fisher in Six Feet Under, but certainly no less memorable as the emotionally challenged Dexter. Joining Dexter is a small cast of misfits whom are not as memorable (but still unique and developed). Like Dexter, most are crazies in their own little world. There is an obnoxious sergeant who picks and cuss at Dexter the whole time. His sister is unable to think for herself and constantly being struck down by her superior (who is an outright bitch). The only other likeable character happens to be Dexter's girlfriend Rita - whom he dates because she is as 'damaged as him'.

The series concept is original (for TV) and right of the bat the pilot episode introduced us to a major serial killer rival (the ice truck killer - who happens to be one of the more interesting villains on TV) to our new favourite serial killer where he attempts to capture him, and yet at the same time could not help admiring his work. While this is ongoing smaller plot lines are introduced like his ongoing relationship with Rita, the dilemma facing the police on seeking vengeance or justice and office politics. But the first season never strays too far from its centre goal of establishes Dexter's identity. My understanding is the second season will explore Dexter's morality further and him dealing with the consequences of his actions during season one's finale showdown with the ice truck killer.

Dexter combines the surgical glamour of Nip/Tuck, the visceral art of Six Feet Under and visual style of film noire. It isn't grotesque and isn't as gruesome as initially thought, but stylistically Dexter is a visualfest. Dialogues are well written with humour thrown in where needed and not unnecessarily almost on par with American Psycho. It is a subtly funny series that also happens to questions society's reaction to vigilante murders. Here we are rooting for someone who is doing something we think is despicable but deep down I am sure many of you agrees with.

Disturbingly pleasurable.

Dexter season one is currently airing here Sundays 10pm on FX UK.