Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Opposition Risen

The swollen scar tissue in my throat has been replaced by a sharp stabbing sensation in my upper palette, just to the (stage) left of my uvula. It hurts, so much so that it almost ruined the slow-roasted lamb and sweet potato curry I spent half the day crafting. I say almost since it would have taken an anaesthetic-less vasectomy to spoil such a culinary tour de force.

Today is the Twentieth anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog. Apart from it being the five-hundredth thing that has made me feel old this month, I accidentally learned that I am the most natural Sonic the Hedgehog Master in the World, ever. I determined this ego-boosting fact (and it is a fact, which I will shortly demonstrate) while reading a thread on Reddit dedicated to SEGA’s blue mascot. I noticed repeated references to a segment of Sonic the Hedgehog 3‘s Carnival Night Zone, more specifically, they rued the bit with the barrel. One poster claimed that it took him days to conquer this devilish cylinder, while another confessed that they stopped playing the game altogether at this point, so difficult it is.

I vaguely recalled a series of barrels that needed to be traversed to progress, but I had to search YouTube to find the section in question. That bit? Really? I pissed that bit, without even a shrug. Instead of assuming that this collection of mewling thumb-bumblers were merely incompetent, I took it as irrefutable evidence that I am the greatest gamer who ever privileged a joypad with the touch of my digits. I feel confident in my assertion right now, though I did find the Mario All-Stars cartridge so may well tumble from my lofty pedestal with shocking precipitation.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved


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Mega Dive

While rearranging my console games* earlier today – in alphabetical order, of course – I noticed that I had quite a few, far more than I had thought. I came so very close to counting them, stopping myself rather self-consciously, but not before I was reminded of how, in my youth during my SEGA years, that number would be a status symbol, a glorious playground badge of honour. I seem to recall that my Mega Drive collection, at its peak, was over forty games, including Desert Strike, Speedball 2, Sensible Soccer, Streets of Rage II, all four Sonic the Hedgehog games. Back then I was so cool.

I convinced myself that I didn’t count the games as I had grown out of such trivial, childish materialism. The real reason is that, since I my Wii, PlayStation 2, and Xbox cannot compete with the heavyweight PS3 and Xbox 360, and in trying to brag I would only draw attention to the fact that I am barely in touch with seventh generation consoling (due to its graphical limitations, the Wii barely counts), underlining my age-and-finance-induced fall from grace. I mean, I still say Grand Theft Auto rather than abbreviating it to GTA like the cool kids do. I’m so glad I’m not eleven years-old still.

* I can’t bring myself to refer to them as video games. It sounds too vulgar.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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I have everything I need to write tomorrow compiled, arranged, and ready for use: sleeping tablets, two cans of Relentless in the fridge, a box of 80 Yorkshire Gold teabags, a bag of satsumas, a pack of one-hundred index cards, a mechanical pencil (I love mechanical pencils), an eraser, selected musical works of Nobuo Uematsu, and a functioning laptop (and brain, hopefully). Other than a jippy tummy – which I’m sure will ease overnight – I’ve got no excuse. Please e-mail me with viable excuses; I’ll pay a pound for each. I’ll just need your sort code and account number in order to properly credit you.

I think I may have been too hasty heaping praise on yesterday’s Doctor Who. Not to infer that I was too generous, rather that my accolades were proffered too soon.  Much like with my premature exaltations of the storyline to Professor Layton and The Lost Future, I was congratulating it for the story it could tell instead of the story it is telling. I now realise that its (potential) greatness will be determined by the strength of the remaining episodes of the season.

Agghh! I just remembered about the three-month mid-season break!

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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I won’t give anything away for those who might yet play the game, but in one schlocky sleight of hand Professor Layton and the Lost Future managed to flush everything that was compelling about the story down the toilet and strained credulity to the extreme by introducing a plot twist that would have been obvious had I not given the game’s storyliner too much (undeserved) credit. It was disappointing for all of about two minutes: I realised that, in essence, I developed a great story arc in my head that never came to fruition, meaning that it’s original and it’s all mine. Hooray! Victory for the superior storyteller (that’s me, by the way)!

Unfortunately, if I’d have felt up to writing I probably would have had a relatively productive day: Reddit has been down for about eighteen hours. I say down, but the site is still up, kind of. It is in what is described on the front page as “emergency read-only mode”, meaning no one can’t log in, vote, comment, or post, so for all intents and purposes the site is dead. I hope this continues tomorrow; I might be able to knock out a few pages by sundown.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Loki Loki Panic

I’ve had the worst day that anyone has ever had, ever. First, this happened:

My Glastonbury 2003 wristband fell off as I got out of bed. Eight bloody years! Out of the two bands – the other being from 2004 – my money would have been on the tattered yellow one still on my wrist, but no, my favourite one had to die.

After drowning my sorrows with numerous cups of tea, I braved the garage in search of the Super Nintendo so I could play Super Mario All Stars. I could tell what kind of day was ahead of me when I found the console bag in the furthest corner of a detritus pile nearly six feet deep. Knowing my current luck, I thought, the bag probably contained a horde of anthrax spores.

I slowly unzipped the bag to find:

Success! I eagerly unpacked the SNES like a child at Christmas. Ah, there it is:

I scrambled to open the box, just in case it exploded while I was looking at.

Fancy 4 in 1? What‽ Oh, cruel misfortune, why must you try to shatter thee?

Once I had stopped hyperventilating, I was comforted by the presence Super Mario World on the most ridiculously named games compilation I’d ever encountered. And if offered great comfort: I played for two hours, reaching world three. Since teatime had arrived, I saved the game, switched off the console, and gorged myself on black pudding.

All that congealed pigs blood recharged my gaming batteries, so I turned on the SNES for another Mario blast. However, there was another set of batteries that I had neglected to consider: the one’s powering the internal memory inside the game cartridge. The eighteen year-old power source has naturally depleted over time, so my saved game was lost. Loki the demigod was surely toying with me.

I knew not what to do, other than laugh. But regardless of the saved game mishap, I still wanted to play on. That was at about 19:00. It is now 04:00 and I have been stuck on the final world for over an hour. Neither my thumbs nor my eyes are functioning properly, but I cannot turn off the console. The only option I have is to leave it on overnight.

If tomorrow you are disturbed by the anguished, feral screams of a frenzied cacodemon, rest assured that it is only I, waking to find my house has suffered a power cut.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Boo! The heater I stole from Mr. Burton* didn’t sell! This is even more disappointing than my rabbits. They’re lame. At least Hattie used to be fun, but now she only approaches me to see if I have brought her food. Once she has sniffed the hand that I extend to stroke her with and she realises that it is empty she runs off into one of her tunnels. Ninja’s always been nervy and antisocial, but Hattie was once playful; I’d leave the conservatory door open and she’d run through to the living room to frolic. Now she’s rarely absent from atop her little cushion like a spoilt, rotund fur-ball.

I’m tempted to try to throw together some chiptune (or chiptune imitation, lacking the necessary hardware) music during the coming week. For those who are unaware of what that means, cast your minds back to Eighties computer gaming. The type of digital music you would hear on platforms such as the Commodore 64, Nintendo Game Boy or NES, the age of 8-bit computing (ah, the days when the number of bits somehow meant something, whether one understood it or not): that’s chiptune.

I can offer you two great examples, one old and one new. Old would be my absolute favourite computer game from that era, Treasure Island Dizzy. New comes courtesy of a fantastic chiptune artist who goes by the name Pixelh8 and the highlight of his oeuvre, Walking Home from School Together. I’ve had some chiptune-facsimilising (I think I’ve just made that word up, but I like it) software for a year or two now, so maybe a little experimentation is overdue.

Right, I’ve just decided this second, after listening to the music from Treasure Island Dizzy again, that I’m going to record a cover version of it. Hold me to it.

* I didn’t actually steal it: he rewards me for my friendship with electrical goods. Then I sell them on eBay.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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I’m ready to ditch Inception: I’ve found the best film of 2010, and I say that having only seen the trailer. Even so, Robot is very close to making an entry into my favourite films list. In fact, on the basis of that trailer alone I think that every action movie I watch in future will have to have been made in Bollywood.

I have exhausted myself through trying to convince Nic to spend the Play.com vouchers she received for her Birthday on games that I want to play, rather than Just Dance 2. It hasn’t worked so far, but after a good night’s sleep I will be primed to launch another offensive.

Instead, maybe I’ll recreate my favourite computer games in real life, like this chap did with Mario Kart. Would anyone like to dress as an anthropomorphised onion karate master for me?

Nevertheless you'll get a lesson from teacher.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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