Starforce Dumped

Following on from Starforce’s recent PR disaster, Ubisoft, one of the main proponents, have announced that they’re unceremoniously dumping the malware software from all future games after “investigating the complaints about alleged problems with Starforce’s software.” Good to see them taking the initiative, because if high profile users jump ship it’s likely that smaller publishers will follow suit.

Hard to crack though it may be, this goes to show that if people are vociferous enough with their complaints the consumer will always win out in the end. Even if most copy protection schemes don’t stop large-scale piracy, at least they don’t stop people using their computer in the way it was intended. I hope Starforce dies a painful death, and I hope they don’t sue me for saying that.

Games Are Bad, Mmmkay?

Mr Mackey

Another day, another anti-game study. Only this one is even more idiotic than usual.

Obviously as tired of finding tenuous links between violent games and psychotic behaviour as we are hearing about them, someone has gone and decided that there’s a link between playing violent games and, get this, “permissive attitudes” towards drugs and alcohol, as well as that great evil that has blighted humanity since the beginning (cover your eyes now, children)…sex.

I almost feel bad for giving this shit exposure. As stupid as I find the idea, it’s not a huge jump in logic to say that virtual violence would beget actual violence, but this one is just ludicrous. OK, so GTA and its ilk might, in places, depict a culture that encourages drugs and they’re rated as such, but to say that violent games encourage drug and alcohol abuse is absurd. I can’t remember the last game I played that did anything to encourage alcohol (in Oblivion drinking ale lowers your intelligence), and even if sex was starting to pervade games in the same pernicious way that “urban” culture has, Hot Coffee put paid to that.

Like most people of my age I enjoy the occasional drink and I’ll admit to trying weed once, but does that constitute a drug problem or rampant alcoholism? I concede that I feel an urge to have sex without the need to get married that of course naturally follows, but I’m willing to put that down to hormones and absolve the Call of Duty 2 that I just played. There’s nothing like a rifle and some dead Russians to get me in the mood for some lovin’, baby!

I can only imagine that these asinine studies keep happening simply because they guarantee mucho exposure as indignant gamers try to DDoS the culprits. That means I’m a part of the problem by giving it exposure, so I suggest that you don’t look up who did it, don’t click any links to it, and if you show it to anyone else make sure to laugh your ass off at it. Treat it like the joke it is, which is something that Penny Arcade do well.

Seeing The Lite (Pics!)

I got my crystal white DS Lite on Saturday. Parcel Force take EMS deliveries when they get into this country and they don’t deliver on Saturdays, but my Dad had a package to pick up from their depot and got mine while he was there. No import duty (yay!) but I had to pay VAT (nay!) and a £13.50 “handling charge” (BOO!). £33.10 extra, all in.

To apologise for the delay in shipping Play-Asia also threw in a free copy of Shaman King: Chou Senjiryokketsu 2 for the GBA, whatever that is. It seems to be a card battle game which is absolutely impenetrable in Japanese, but I appreciate the gesture.

DS, DS Lite, and Game Boy Micro

The first thing to mention is the size difference, because there’s not a very big one. Next to each other the Lite is obviously smaller, but those expecting the same change as when going from GBA to the SP will be disappointed. It’s been slimmed down a bit and made to look much more iPod-like instead of an 80’s toy, and the glossy plastic is very nice if something of a magnet for fingerprints.

While it isn’t a huge reduction in size, the Lite seems a lot less bulky and much easier to fit into a pocket without looking like you have a deformity. It doesn’t seem to scratch easily (Nintendo are known for durability, after all) so any marks can be wiped off easily.

It’s the screens that are the big reason to upgrade, and they are possibly the best LCDs I’ve seen. I got one stuck pixel on the top screen but nothing too annoying, and having played with the brightness settings I settled on the third level because the highest one is almost too bright. The viewing angle is anothing thing which I’m sure people have seen in pictures but in the flesh is highly impressive. It’s a bit pointless for a handheld but I can look at it from a fairly tight angle and see things just as well as looking at it straight on. Due to the overall size reduction they appear bigger than the screens on the standard DS, but in actual fact they’re the same size.

The rest of the improvements are minor tweaks – the D-pad is now the same as the excellent GB Micro and Revolution one; the power switch is now a slider on the side, scuppering the fiends who enjoy pressing the front button to turn it off mid-play (I have immature friends); and it comes with a cover for the GBA slot so that the aesthetics aren’t ruined if you choose not to keep a GBA game in it all the time (it should be noted that GBA cards stick out of the Lite by about a centimetre which is annoying). The upgrade isn’t as essential as the move from GBA to SP was, but for those who use their DS a lot it’s worth it for the screens and size reduction alone.

Boot Camp

Apple Boot Camp

This is sensational news – Apple now support dual booting OS X and Windows XP on Intel Macs with their new Boot Camp utility, to be included as a part of 10.5 Leopard when that’s released.

I’ve been considering upgrading my iBook to an Intel model when those are released and now I see absolutely no reason not to. The ability to dual-boot was made available a few weeks ago when some enterprising individual released a hack, but this is a matter of turning on the computer and clicking the one you want to use.

No shitty text bootloaders and no more worrying about whether an app is available on OS X or not. This could seriously be an Apple killer app.

What I loved though, were the quotes on the Boot Camp page like this one:

Macs use an ultra-modern industry standard technology called EFI to handle booting. Sadly, Windows XP, and even the upcoming Vista, are stuck in the 1980s with old-fashioned BIOS. But with Boot Camp, the Mac can operate smoothly in both centuries.


What I’m more interested in, however, is the effect on the Mac gaming market. It’s been steadily growing with companies like Aspyr producing a steady stream of decent ports and official support from big names like id and Blizzard, but I have a feeling that this will kill it off, since developers will assume that Mac users who want to play games will have Windows anyway. They seem optimistic, but we’ll have to wait and see.

DS Lite Shipped (Eventually)!

You may remember that I ordered a DS Lite almost as soon as it was announced, but with the popularity of the DS in Japan reaching fever pitch my order got lost amongst the sold out signs and predictably extortionate eBay prices. Well, Play-Asia have finally gotten to me and my crystal white DS Lite has shipped via EMS, so it should be here in a few days. Of course I’ll put together some belated impressions when it arrives.

What’s cool is that as I held out and stuck with Play-Asia I got it for $170 instead of the $200+ that some places were selling it for. Not a bad deal at all, and even with courier shipping it’s about the same price that it’ll probably be when it eventually comes out here.

MPAA: The MP Means “Missing the Point”

BoingBoing are reporting on a new download service that will allow the legal downloading of Hollywood movies. The caveat is that not only can they only be played in Windows, but they cost twice the price of buying a DVD, and burnt copies can only be played on a PC. Somehow they justify calling them DVDs despite this.

I’m not a fan of digital distribution since I like having DVDs/games/CDs on my shelf which I can browse through but I see it as an inevitability, and I sincerely hope that they start to show the consumers some respect if they expect people to buy into this. iTunes has the right idea by making downloading a matter of clicking a button and bundling in fairly permissive DRM (if we must have DRM that’s the kind to have) while making the price reasonable, but nobody will pay double the price of the physical media for such a crippled copy.

The assertion that people will pay that for the convenience is just laughable as well. I hear people saying that they use iTunes to get new albums for the convenience, even though it’s usually cheaper than actually going to the shop and buying it. Double the price isn’t the cost of convenience – it’s extortionate. Not to mention that, like the comment on BoingBoing says, the files are going to be big (you need at least 700MB for a passable quality movie) and it’s never going to be more convenient to sit and download for a couple of hours than it is to go five minutes away and buy the shiny new DVD…for half the price.