Holiday 2006

No, not the TV show.

I just realised that I haven’t mentioned this even though I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks now, but this year’s holiday has been booked and everything. My Dad retired at the beginning of the year so he’s paying I assume as a kind of last hurrah before he has to become a poor pensioner. I doubt that going away with my father and brother (Mum won’t go because she hates long flights and won’t leave the dog due to its bad seperation anxiety) will be as good as Japan last year but hey, I’m not turning down a free holiday.

My brother is going out to Australia at the beginning of August to do some vetinary work experience while staying with friends in Botany Bay, near Sydney. On 10th August me and my Dad are going out to join him and spend a couple of weeks there. I’m not sure what exactly but I know that they plan to fly to the north at some point to visit the Great Barrier Reef and my Dad is intent on visiting Uluru. Whatever else will surely revolve around my ability to find something in a country where games and DVDs are actually more expensive than here. The savages!

When we finish up there we’re heading to Tokyo for a week on the way home. I’m told that what we get up to depends on me and my experience so I’m sure that another day in Kyoto and more than one trip to Akihabara will be on the cards. With a summer launch for the PS3 in Japan looking increasingly likely, if this can coincide with that (please Sony? I won’t talk about how much I dislike you anymore) so that I can meet up with friends out there, so much to the good.

The Nerdstrument

It’s been said that Guitar Hero (finally coming to the UK in April) does an amazing job of making you feel like you can play the guitar like a pro, only to turn into a humbling experience when you try it and find that you actually have a sense of rhythm as poor as it always was. I guess that made it just a matter of time before an enterprising nerd went and used it to create their own instrument, the nerdstrument. How great is that?

E3 Bans the Booth Babes?

OK, so SPOnG isn’t known for being the most reliable news source, but they’re reporting that the ESA won’t be allowing nudity, semi-nudity, or even provocative models and somehow related the whole thing to Jack Thompson. Is there anything he can’t be blamed for?

Thinking about this and assuming it’s true, I’m not sure that it’s a bad thing for the industry. Like they say it’s not so good for the image of the industry and its attempts to expand when its flagship show is reliant on two-bit models rubbing themselves over various two-bit games. The only other industry which really does anything similar is the car one, and there aren’t many women that I know who are interested in drooling over a Ferrari FXX no matter how handsome it is. It’ll go a long way towards raising the tone of E3, at least.

I Want To Be Steve Jobs

Admittedly the Daily Telegraph are the only ones reporting that it’s definitely going to happen, but you have to envy Steve Jobs if Disney actually do buy Pixar. Not just for pocketing $3.5 billion from his original $10 million investment in Pixar, either.

This man is the CEO in Apple, the company that just announced $5.7 billion in sales for the third quarter of 2005 and makes what it probably my current most-wanted product. He is also the CEO of Pixar, the movie company which on current evidence seems to be infallible (people are pessimistic about Cars, but they said the same things about Finding Nemo and The Incredibles as I remember) and has yet to make a movie grossing less than $150 million, not to mention the fact that it’s more talented than Disney has been in some time.

With this deal he becomes the largest single shareholder in Disney which gives him tremendous power in one of the biggest studios in the world – most people might not associate Disney with anything more than children’s animation (both their own and as distributor of the Ghibli movies in the West) but they also have huge media interests, release live action stuff through Buena Vista, and releases Oscar bait and more adult pictures through Miramax. Bet you didn’t know that Pulp Fiction is a Disney movie.

Massive power in Apple, Pixar, and Disney? As well as having three of the coolest jobs (no pun intended) in the world I think this guy is going to overtake Microsoft and Google in the race to conquer the universe. Not that I’m jealous…

Ready to Rawk?

Guitar Hero

OK, so this was actually announced over ten days ago but I hadn’t seen it reported anywhere and somehow missed it, but Guitar Hero is getting a PAL release. This is excellent news not only because publishers have been reluctant when it comes to bringing gimmicky rhythm action games with cool controllers over here, and I can’t remember any remotely high profile ones since Samba De Amigo back in 2000. Even that was a rarity and proved to be little more than an investment for the collectors as the limited PAL run has led to the eBay price more than doubling since then.

For those not in the know, Guitar Hero looks like a typical music game but is played on a guitar-shaped controller, a little short of full size. You have five buttons along the neck and a big button to strum which you hit in time with the markers scrolling down the screen. You also have a functional whammy bar that can be used for extra points when holding notes, and also a motion sensor that puts you into a high scoring mode when you swing it vertically. Play it to some covers of classic rock and metal songs which actually sound like the originals and you have a game that makes you feel like you can play guitar, even if you can’t.

As with Samba, this is likely to be a shrewd investment as well as a damn good game. The limited US run means prices are already on the rise, and with the game and the guitar controller costing the same as a basic Xbox 360 game (that’ll be £49.99) you’ll want to get your preorder in on this one as soon as possible.

Imagine Buys Highbury

The ongoing saga of Highbury’s debt problems (covered here) looks like it could be coming to a close with the announcement that the other Bournemouth-based games magazine company, Imagine Publishing, which was set up by the original founder of Paragon, which became Highbury Entertainment before being bought out by Imagine. Still with me? Imagine’s output is improving but when they started out it was impressively bad.

Imagine are only taking on the profit-making magazines from Highbury (which includes GamesTM and Play) and laying off a lot of staff who are finding out in the next couple of weeks whether or not they still have a job. That can’t be fun and although it seems like the guys I know on GamesTM and Jude on Play are safe since they have editorial jobs on profitable mags, I know that my cousin who worked in the design department there is now only allowed to go back for two hours on Monday to clear out his personal belongings. That has to suck…