Category Archives: General

Common or garden posts.

Photos from Japan 2017

How could I go to Japan and neglect to post some of my favourite photos here?

For one thing, I took over 1,000 of them, so whittling them down, editing and then uploading to the cloud on a fairly meagre internet connection took a while. For another, I was too lazy.

Enjoy!

Sonic Unleashed Sucks

Any sane Sonic fan will know by now that the correct way to approach a new Sonic game is with trepidation. If Sonic Team has been insisting that this one will be the return to form without Sonic’s furry friends – or worse – and their shit new game mechanics, what it really means is that this one will have new furry friends with gimmicks that it hopes won’t be quite as bad as previous attempts.

Even after rubbish like Shadow the Hedgehog and and utter trash of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Unleashed is possibly the most depressing yet. It’s not that it’s worse than Sonic 2006, thankfully, but what’s depressing is how it’s such a case of one step forward and two steps back. The Sonic stages are back to basics, brilliant fun, extremely pretty, and exactly what I want from a 3D Sonic game; put a few hours of these together and I’d happily pay the asking price, regardless of what brainless story had been hung on the bones to justify it. These represent Sonic Unleashed’s step forward.

Sonic Unleashed

However…

The were-hog was, let’s face it, a bad idea from the start. Tell me you didn’t hear about it and cringe immediately.

It’s a bizarre attempt to bring in some Devil May Cry-style combat, except it’s just crap. Mash the buttons to destroy some rejects from the ranks of Kingdom Hearts’ Heartless and Twilight Princess’s shadow creatures, occasionally getting into a QTE to kill off the bigger ones, and do this for room after room, unless the game decides that some block-pushing would be better. Yes, that’s block-pushing puzzles. In a Sonic game.

Bearing in mind that the Sonic stages are over in a few minutes and the were-hog ones can be ten minutes or more, they take up a significant proportion of the game – like more than the Sonic stages.

It’s just insane to me that nobody thought during testing, when they’d just finished breaking the sound barrier as the Blue Blur, that being stuck in the same room for five minutes as you dragged a block onto a switch, twiddled some knobs to raise and lower platforms, dragged another block onto them, moved them again, dragged the block to the other one – all so that you could get to a careful, slow walk across a balance beam, which couldn’t be more at odds with the Sonic ethos if it tried – wasn’t any fun whatsoever. Once again, I’m baffled as to what’s happened to the Sega of the Dreamcast days that could seemingly do no wrong.

Throw in boring and largely non-interactive Tornado sequences – you don’t even have control over the plane like you did in Sonic Adventure – and it becomes hard not to play the game without shaking your head. I’m beyond really being disappointed because I just don’t care any more. It’s for the best if we all just forget about Sonic and leave him back in his glory days.

Until the next time Sonic Team promises to take it back to basics…

A BBC Expert

Not Guy Kewney

This is hilarious and journalistic. Like all of my content, then.

Guy Kewney of News Wireless was invited to appear on BBC News 24 as an expert commentator on the Apple Records/Apple Computer lawsuit as the ruling came in. The trouble is that this eloquent and informed tech writer, who happens to be fair-haired and white, went on the air looking…uh…black, and plainly not a native speaker of English. Also the only thing he knew about MP3 players seemed to be that you can download music in cybercaf?s. Some expert…

The joke is that somehow they’d managed not to put Guy Kewney on, but instead his minicab driver who had been waiting at reception. The poor guy was dropped in front of a camera and then asked about one of the biggest tech lawsuits of the year and, after pulling the most terrified face I’ve ever seen on TV, tried to fumble his way through an answer.

You can read Kewney’s personal account of the debacle here, and see the video of the interview here. Doesn’t do a lot for the BBC’s generally good reputation, does it?

UPDATE: Looks like the press reports were slightly inaccurate (the source of the video was the Mail, after all), but the real thing is even more unbelievable. The guy was actually there for a job interview and gives his opinion on the whole thing here. I didn’t realise until I saw it on the MacCast site.

Progressive Scan PR

HD-DVD, the first HD video disc format is now on sale in the US and I want one, even to the point of considering importing one. A friend of mine actually did that ($800 including shipping!) and should be getting his player any day now, so I’ll probably be posting some impressions of the format when I get the chance to steal a peek.

What I really want to talk about though, is this report. Not how orgasmic Kong would look in 1080p, but this section:

Universal’s next-gen HD bonus content will fully integrate online interactivity into the movie watching experience, “opening up new promotional opportunities” for studios by allowing HD-DVD users the option to learn more about on-screen items in a movie and even make purchases online.

One example of HD bonus content Kornblau illustrated was for the studio’s upcoming day-and-date release of ‘Fast and the Furious: Toyko Drift’ due later this year. Viewers could connect to the internet via the player, “trick out” a car seen in the film, then reinsert their creation back into the movie. Users could also click on the tire of a car seen in the film, then go online to purchase it and other related products.

They don’t miss an opportunity, do they? It’s pretty low how they force copyright messages and ads at the beginning of DVDs that you’ve paid for, but I sincerely hope this doesn’t mean that when a new car appears on screen you’re going to get a Sky Digital-style “Press the Red Button to Learn More” in the top corner. Or a New York promo in the opening scenes of King Kong.

Not that a new Fast and the Furious is going to have much integrity to speak of (at least it’s not named as absurdly as 2 Fast 2 Furious), but crap like inserting custom promotional content into a movie isn’t a good precedent to set. Just let us pay our money and get the movie we pay for, and if you want to put this stuff in there you’d better be dropping the price of the movies. Which I doubt they will…