Posts

How I Met my Game Gear

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I am here and I am blogging! Sorry for the four-month absence. Here's a week of new posts to make up for it. I like to write about games from a personal perspective. I want to share how they intersect with my life.  There are only so many reviews or straight-forward informative posts that I can write before I just lose interest. Why would anyone want to read my thoughts about a game, unless I can add a unique perspective or angle? I won’t just write about Kirby, I’ll write about using Kirby to bribe my daughter . I’m not content blogging about the demise of Saturn Junk - I have to tell you about how it’s led to a new found appreciation of Rick James .  I’m guessing you approve, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. As always, thanks for reading. Today, I’m just going to share a memory, albeit one about games, that doesn’t really go anywhere. An afternoon that I was reminded of yesterday. It’s a Friday in 2009 and I’m working in Jimbocho, Tokyo. This was towards the end of my first stay i

Games as Rewards

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I am here and I am blogging! Sorry for the four-month absence. Here's a week of new posts to make up for it. Recently, I've been helping my daughter learn how to ride a bike without stabilizers, but she's just not into it. I tried being enthusiastic and giving her loads of encouragement, but she still hated it. I even demonstrated how to cycle, by shakily peddling up and down the street on our knackered mamachari. I hadn't ridden a bike for more than a decade, so it was a tad pathetic. Still rubbish, she told me. She's just not interested. She's not quite at that age where she and her friends want to cycle around the neighborhood, and we're a stone's throw from the local park where the kids congregate, which means she can walk there as quickly as she can cycle. Riding a bike is not yet a necessity. As she became more and more adamant that she didn't want to do it, my enthusiasm for teaching her waned. I dreaded going out on the bike as much as she di

Junk is Dead Long Live Junk

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I am here and I am blogging! Sorry for the four-month absence. Here's a week of new posts to make up for it. One day last week, I ventured into Akihabara. Brave of me, considering it was smack bang in the middle of Golden Week, a string of public holidays here in Japan. Akiba was heaving, even with international tourists still locked out of the country, but I was dead set on having a rummage. A rummage for games. I visited the usual haunts: Trader under the tracks, Trader not under the tracks; Beep, Surugaya, Hard Off, the seedier Surugaya near the station, and that booth that's often shuttered where the owner mills around and I can't tell if he wants to be my friend or expel me from the country. I also stopped by the renowned tourist trap, Super Potato. SP is known for its high-prices, but if you know what you're looking for you can occasionally find a bargain. Not this day, though. Not at all. One Junk item in particular caught my eye - a rare piece of hardware marked

Old Games on the Big TV

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I am here and I am blogging! Sorry for the four-month absence. Here's a week of new posts to make up for it. As a child, my video game console lived in a drawer in my bedside table. Master System, Mega Drive and then Saturn. When I wanted to play, I'd open that drawer and run the RF cable across my bedroom and connect it to the tiny portable TV on the other side of the room.  That "portable" TV was built like a breezeblock, featuring a built-in VCR player and weighing a tonne. It was all thick, plastic casing and clicky-buttons. An aesthetic nightmare, which included a hefty handle on top for portability. The screen was miniscule, maybe 10-inches, and that's how I enjoyed the majority of games throughout the SEGA era and into the dawn of the Playstation. I'd perch on the end of my bed, leaning into the TV to get a better look, all the while trying not to garrote myself on the RF cable that ran taut across my room. Some days, we were allowed to play on the big

Elden Ring and the Lull That Follows

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I am here and I am blogging! Sorry for the four-month absence. Here's a week of new posts to make up for it. It took me one hundred hours to kill a god.  Two months of stick twiddling to defeat Elden Ring's final boss. And that was two months well spent. I didn't 100% Elden Ring, but I did explore every area available to me and killed every mini-boss I stumbled across. Most of them I battered then and there. Those I couldn't, I bookmarked for a later stomping, once I'd attained a few more levels or just gotten a tad gooder. Malenia was the one exception. She was a step too far, my patience stretched too thin. As a hench, colossal-sword wielding bastard, I was poorly equipped to deal with her health-leeching nonsense and every co-op partner I summoned seemed equally inept, despite their fancy armour. I tried my luck a handful of times before tackling the final boss, and had another few cracks at her after, but to no avail. She remains at large, a stain upon my gamer

Cosmic Smashing

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After a few attempts, I was able to post a score worthy of the Cosmic Smash Top Twenty rankings. The built-in, hi-score table - a low bar that is in no way representative of the scores that real humans were posting back in the early-2000s - now had my name on it.  But Cosmic Smash wanted more. Upon completion, it gave me a 17-digit code that I could use to upload my total to www.cosmicsmash.com. As with any good arcade conversion, I was on the clock, and my precious passcode would disappear after 30 seconds. Intrigued, I snapped a picture and headed straight for my browser. Of course, the website was dead - a useless code for a long-since expired URL, and a leaderboard that no longer exists. While the website may be defunct, the scores have thankfully been recorded for posterity. According to Wikipedia: "At last update, the highest score on the third-party leaderboard was a two-way way of 590,678,903—both entries by an English player named "Alex" with a listed age of 11.

The Best & Worst Games of 2021

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The Best & Worst of 2020 /  2019  /   2018  /  2017  /  2016  /  2015  /  2014  /  2013  /  2012  /  2011  /  2010 2021 was a solid year for games. We had a steady stream of quality releases, but there were few compelling reasons to own new hardware. Most of the best games on PS5 and Series X/S could be enjoyed on previous-gen consoles, albeit at a slightly lower framerate, with marginally less pretty graphics, and minus the smugness that comes with ownership of a new console. Despite being a year removed from the launch of a new generation, shortages and delays continued to dominate the news cycle. An unwelcome carry-over from an awful year and a problem that shows no sign of abating. Anyone secure their Analogue Pocket preorder for 2023? But not every holdover from 2020 was depressing. Game Pass remained my favourite part of modern gaming, and Microsoft continued to delight with their commitment to backward compatibility, even if that commitment has now been capped. Nintendo cont

Christmas Catalogues & Festive Excitement

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My daughter has spent a lot of time over the last few weeks perusing the Christmas 2021 Toys R Us catalogue. I have instilled in her the importance of reading it regularly and fully hyping herself up for the festive period. Look at the toys, imagine what you might receive on Christmas morning, and turn yourself into a quivering, over-excited yuletide wreck. Just like her father. This year's catalogue is a little thin on games, but there's plenty there to excite children and adult-children alike. Its glossy pages are adorned with doll houses, Tamagotchi, Pokemon everything, board games, craft sets, a chain gun that fires off foam pellets, bikes, cars, robots that are cars, cars that are robots and robots that are just robots. It also features Lego sets to satisfy every kind of interest, as long as that interest is Disney, Minecraft, ninjas, or girls on vacation. And of course, it has video games. What would a Christmas catalogue be without them? Our favourite hobby gets a double

Play it Again?

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I don't half fancy an Uncharted 2 replay. There's never a bad time to revisit my favourite game of the 7th Generation , and a permanent fixture in my all-time top five.  I should do that soon. Over the last few years, I've increasingly found myself revisiting games. As a child and teenager, I would of course play the same few titles over and over. I'd only get my hands on so many games over the course of a year, so I'd play them again and again. This was also driven by a youthful desire to latch onto something that spoke to me and play it to death. As I got older, and had disposable income, I went the other way. Desperate to play everything new and noteworthy, I'd almost never make time to revisit games. I've mellowed out considerably over the last few years and rediscovered the joy of familiar comforts. The Mass Effect Legendary Edition was by far the best thing I played this year, Final Fantasy IX HD brought back some lovely memories, and I also really enj

Monthly Round-up: November 2021

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In Case You Missed it: Success in Akihabara  / The Goliath and Peace & Quiet / A Rare Gaming Sesh November Playlist I've spent the bulk of November playing and enjoying Forza Horizon 5 . You can read all about that in the last two links above.  I also dipped my toe in the Halo Infinite multiplayer. It's good but it hasn't really grabbed me, but then it has been several years since an online FPS did. However, it has definitely increased my interest in the single player campaign next month, so job done. I finally got around to Jedi: Fallen Order earlier in November. I really should've played that much sooner. The first hour feels a lot like Uncharted in space, though it isn't able to maintain that level of quality throughout. I loved the characters, and although I never felt I'd completely gotten the hang of the combat, it was certainly satisfying. It's far from perfect, with overly long chapters, unrewarding exploration, and huge gaps between narrative