Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Sweaty and smells of fart…

…could be many things. Sharing an office with Richard comes to mind. This example however is the London Underground. Doing some work in the capital for a short while and finding the tube to be just as smelly, hot and obnoxious as I remember it back in the Emap days. The work is fun though and whilst I can't lift the lid on what it is I haven't worked on this much product for a long while. Quality product too and not the cack I'm used to handling. I'm working on a new Harrod website design with a proper gallery rather than the downloadable PDF I currently use. Should be more user friendly and with regular updates for visitors that are interested I'll be able to show some examples of everything once this stuff is out the door and on the supermarket shelves.
Live and Kicking
Took a painful weekend of misery to get online from my new london residence. Macs are great to use but the lack of support for wireless had me trapsing up and down Tottenham Court Road all weekend looking for USB adaptors and the like. Xbox Live is still down as I forgot to bring the wireless adaptor with me but will be back online before Chrimbo hopefully. Missing the fun of Left for Dead and Gears so I got my murderous kicks by beating my way through Dead Space on Impossible mode. Clearly not Impossible and earned the Epic 3 achievement with just the Plasma Cutter. '2 for 190' will do very nicely thank you!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Fingers to the bone

Complete lack of posts is due to two things. Work and Games. Don't blame me though. Blame the banks for screwing the world economy right up and then blame the Xbox for the tidal wave of insanely good software that hit us all over the last month. When I'm thoroughly bored on Gears submission multiplayer and the rest of my stack then I'll be back for more tales and drawings!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Thirty but done dirty

Took my GamerScore past the thirty thousand threshold recently. Not a huge number compared to a lot of players out there but adding a further 10k is a particularly pleasing amount nevertheless. Just a pity it was the Sega shambles IronMan that helped me do it. Further proof that a successful franchise from one medium becomes a inept crock when adapted to another. Very easy achievements though. Not Avatar easy as some skill was required. No matter how desperate I might become for a boost you'll not see Avatar on my played games list!
October 24th
Decisions, decisions. Too many good games coming out. What do I buy first? What game is going to deliver the goods? Can't trust reviews. Even well established sources for trustworthy opinions are looking a little conspiratorial. Right now it looks like Dead Space is going to grab my readies this Friday. It's exactly what I want to play after months of PiƱatas, ATVs and gender confused RPG dandies. A bit of dismemberment in a zero-g environment is just what the doctor ordered! Then I'll always take a gun over a sword which puts Far Cry 2 next on the list and Fallout the following week. Imagine how much carnage and murder will ensue during the course of those three games? I'll be a fully trained psychopathic killer after that lot if the Daily Mail is to be believed.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Pure Class

You hear the word Disney and you'd be forgiven for thinking mice, ballerina's or high school dorks. So who would have thought that they could put out a top quality racer called Pure to rave reviews and kudos from the hardcore gamers out there? With many a nod to the Burnout school of presentation you can spot the crowd that Blackrock were aiming for. The races take plenty of concentration as you need to bust out tricks as well as find the optimum route if you want to place first. You'll be punished hard for just one error. I've already had a few 'moments' with the controller when I've tried for one trick too many and faceplanted into the dirt, dropping 10 places in the process. All good stuff really. Except the boxart. Bloody awful orange mess.
To Err is only Human
I always check the visitors ip's on really busy days to see who and why people visit my blog. About 40% come from a Google image search. Some of the search strings are classic. And yes, they are all porn related you filthy bunch of pigs. The others are either regulars or people searching for something Harrod related. I share the same name as some dude in Florida who donates large sums to the Republican party. Since I don't live there or donate money to the yeehaw war machine then it's not me they are looking for. I got one visit last week from someone at Silicon Knights. They probably employ someone just to trawl the web looking for commentary on their products. I don't envy that guy. In the event that they return after picking up this post I thought I'd mention three little things that got on my goat when playing TH. Not the most urgent of problems I'll warrant but they sure got annoying when you go for the last few achievements. Here goes:
1 - Faces. Awful! They all looked like accountants. Baldur is the spitting image of a school teacher that lives two doors down from me, not exactly the face I had in mind for a Norse god. The human soldiers all shared the same mug with a big conk and dumb expression slapped across it. Looking at them made the cutscenes unbearable.
2 - Charms. These are not fun. Diablo made item checking quick and painless. Too Human makes it a chore. You're in the menu literally every minute checking loot and charm progress. Gameplay becomes a stop-start affair as you race to the inventory after each battle to scroll through endless stats in the hope that you can improve your kit. One particular lvl 3 charm wanted me to slaughter 16,000 enemies. That's fun, thanks for that one Dennis.
3 - Sprint button. You're a god so is it too much to ask that on occasion you can run a little faster? When you're trekking through the endless corridors for the twentieth time you are literally begging for him to up the pace and move his fat, norse arse a little quicker.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Tit for Tat

Second only to my collection of spank journalism was my horde of game guides and books from Japan. Or 'Mook' as those wacky guys would call them. I was never sure if Mook was a new term for a game guide or just the result of a dodgy translation by some kid on work experience. When I used to flat share with Paul Glancey I kept my stash of game guides, art books, and prized one-off-the-wrist material hidden in a cupboard. Using markers and small strips of paper wedged into the doors I was able to discover that wandering hands had been hunting for my tug tomes. I had to bring them out of hiding to stop Paul wrecking the sleeves of my expensive imports. Japanese books had wraparound sleeves which always got wrecked when people tried to slot books back into the shelf, forcing them down and ripping the covers. Thanks Paul! You owe me a copy of Pure please. 360 version thankyou...

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Too Human Error

Humble pie please. Just a little slice though. It's far from perfect but Too Human wasn't the crock I expected it to be after picking up a copy on the cheap from the high street. There are some really good things in there, just buried under a lot of crap. If they manage to get a sequel out before we all turn to dust then hopefully they will address some of them. So what's different since the last time I talked about it? Controls mainly. Once you get used to the unusual targeting methods and the bonkers camera then you've overcome a huge hurdle that turned a lot of people off game. Even then the system has it's flaws but overall it works well for the mass carnage that ensues. During Helheim, when you're besieged by thousands of undead (there really are thousands...), you'll understand why the controls work the way they do. The one-against-hundreds warfare has me hooked despite the fact that gathering together a complete LVL50 elite set is the most annoying 5pt achievement ever conceived!
Rest my Sackboy on your chin
I'm talking about the star of Sony's 'big' game that causing beta key mania across the web right now. I am not talking about Richards nickname during his tenure at Comptons of Soho. Do you get the fuss over Little Big Planet? It's a game that is so far removed from the stuff I enjoy playing that I am still pretty pleased that I don't have a PS3. I expect reviewers to get washed up in the furore and throw high scores all over it but this will be a lot like Wii Fit. You'll have a little giggle with your mates for a few hours then the whole affair becomes too much effort for what you get back.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Dead Cert

Dead Space looks great. Yeah, it's EA though. And EA suck right? I have never knowingly bought an EA game and to have one on my must-buy list is really quite something I can assure you. And they're really pushing this one. With a slew of carefully edited trailers, comic tie-ins and behind-the-scenes video they are going to great lengths to educate the audience about the joys of Dead Space. What I've seen so far is pretty good too. The real-time HUD implementation is class. The graphics engine and game mechanics look superb. And if you're going to pinch some ideas for a story then grabbing elements from both The Thing and Alien ain't a bad place to start. Of course it could still turn out to be a bigger stinker than a charity shop doorway after a tramps piss party but I'm keeping an open mind right now. It also prompted me to knock-up a new Mean Machines dude in honor of it's potential. I'll be doodling a lot more of these guys for games that deserve it so keep your eyes peeled if this floats your boat.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Too Predictable

The writing was on the wall when you think about it. The first time I heard news about Silicon Knights taking the Unreal engine devs to court over the software it could only be about one thing. The game sucked balls big style and they needed to point the finger of blame elsewhere. Since then I have sampled the demo, read the critiques across the web and chuckled at the continuous stream of manure spouted forth by Knights frontman Dyack. Most Innovative game on 360? I suppose if you've spent the last ten years working on it then you're entitled to exaggerate a little right? I removed it from my list of must-haves seconds after playing the demo. With Pinata 2 and a Squeenix RPG next friday then buying Too Human was always a long shot. As it stands, the 360 now it's very own 'Haze' and should keep the fanboi forums entertained for a few merry months at least.
We have some nice new tees about to go live in the next week or so. Four new shirts that might take your fancy. Joining these on the site is the Eurogamer shirt contest that's been in the works for a while now. We've taken some flak for the length of time it's taken to get the contest live but it's all done now bar a little testing. Why so long? VGT is essentially just a hobby and getting everyone together to do their bit on the site just took a while. Designing text only shirts was actually pretty tricky. Then we had to build the site pages. Then design the voting mechanism. Then create the shirt art and the previews for the site. Those tasks where squeezed in whenever we had a moment and now it's all done. Was it worth it? Perhaps. Will they sell? Not sure. Whatever happens it's another step forward for the site and hopefully more people will check out what's on offer.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Jimmy loves the Necrons

I recently had the desire to resume my long, lost artwork career and spent the afternoon trawling through the dusty loft looking for drawings and rotring pens. I can't put my finger on why now, 20 odd years since I last drew pictures for Games Workshop, do I want to draw monsters again but I'm going to crank at least one picture out. Just to see how it turns out if anything. It's unlikely to look like the old material as everything is painted nowadays, even the black and white pictures. So, that rules out the insane detail and fine crosshatching I used to employ. Whatever I can muster up will be posted here for your amusement. I've chosen the GW Necrons as the first subject of choice and picked up the book from the store just the other day. Necrons kinda look like a cross between Terminators and robots from the Matrix

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Manic Monday

Microsoft's E3 event was pretty amazing for most gamers. By gamers I mean lads like you and me who grew up with Super Nintendo, Megadrive and then moved forward to the next gen era. Not Wii owners. Not fanbois obsessed with Sony Style over substance. Microsoft has the games. If they didn't then I would have bought another system. Since I am not about to buy a PS3 for the Metal Gear cutscene collection it's vital that we continue to get a good stream of decent 360 software. After watching the announcements at E3 and looking at some of the game footage then it's clear that we've got a lot to look forward to over the next 12 months. I am not including Lips in that statement. I do have my limits. Gears 2 is still top of my wanted list but it was almost dethroned by Resident Evil 5. Damn, that one looks so shockingly good. The E3 trailer required constant pant changes as I was literally pissing with excitement. Follow that up with the RPG onslaught from Squeenix and bring up the rear with Silent Hill, Pinata, Soul Calibur, Farcry 2, Dead Space, Fallout and Fable 2 and tons more. Can you remember a list of upcoming games of that magnitude?

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Thank heaven for Moffat

Hmm. Okay. Adding Doctor Who season finale to the growing list of entertainment disappointments I've had to endure this year. What's going on? Doesn't anyone know how to construct a decent ending nowadays? Games, movies and now my favourite tv show, all falling at the final hurdle. I spat out my popcorn during the last 20 minutes of Indy 4. I had to fight back the boredom to finish off GTA IV . Now, Davies delivers another improbable collection of quick-fire calamitous scenarios and situations devoid of all drama and suspense. You barely get a moment to comprehend the jargon and techno waffle and hey presto, it's solved with a quick button press on the tardis console or a handy, control-all-Dalek machine that plays like a church organ.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Spac-handed buffoonery

Emap Images was many things but it was never grateful. Life on Mean Machines was hard work and the 'fun' came from the games and the lads making the best out of the long days. The team developed a unique vocabulary that, when combined with odd facial expressions, could accurately assess a team members ability whether it be their gaming skills or work. Just like Emap management, the editors learnt to totally avoid congratulating any of the staff for their efforts. It was of course necessary to refer to oneself as 'The Master' when taking screenshots or playing the software through for the mag. Staff had to then recreate the magic or face a barrage of insults. Myself and Richard honed these insults down into a wordless distortion of the face and a twitching right hand. Tongue out and hand tilted and shaking, this cretinous form was the perfect accomplice to someones spac-handed muppetry. Imagine my joy when the master of the mong hand himself, Davros, made a spectacular return to our TV screens a few days ago. It's fair to say that quite a few staff members truly sucked at games, perfectly mimicking the gaming talents of the Dalek creator himself.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Green Herb + Blue Herb? Lifestyle + Gaming?

One of those combos works a treat. The other is a recipe for disaster! Following on from my last post I thought I would show you a sample of the editorial madness that we regularly indulged in over at Computec USA. After 10 years of 'normal' gaming editorial we all thought how cool it was to do something edgy. You know the thing, stylish and grown-up like Maxim and all the other 'real' mags. Still, after a great concept, after a superb photoshoot, after an exclusive early glimpse of Resident Evil, after the dust had settled what did we have? Eight pages of boredom and self-congratulatory wank that was ignored by gamers and Capcom alike!
Ninja Nockers
Gaiden II is a fantastic game. Not cutting edge or a system showcase but a solid, dismemberment-fest with mass carnage and some very large breasted women. Played through on Acolyte, which I admit was a doddle, and had been progressing nicely through Warrior setting when the game decides to freeze. Not just once though. Every time, same battle, same spot. Nothing I can do can prevent it either. Quality testing guys!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Aluminum? No. Aluminium you ass…

My tenure in the great state of California was a mixed bag. It began in 1996 with a stint at GameFan but ended in 2000 after Computec Media's US operation imploded in complete disaster with 30 mil washed down the toilet. So how does a successful media company blow 30 million down the swanny then? Quite simple really. Convince seasoned game journos to launch a magazine that features the biggest names in TV, music and movies playing games! Oh, get a few previews and a screenshot or two in there also. Just in case you want to actually *see* a game in the magazine. How did it fare? First issue of Incite: Video Games was actually a monster and still holds the record for best launch in the video games market with about 800,000 copies shifted. It did not last. Evil forces were afoot as all kinds of plotters and back stabbers were working tirelessly to discredit the magazine and scupper advertising deals. Future Publishing (or Imagine as they where known back then) sent letters to all the key advertisers telling them to 'resist the German invasion' and it was as close as calling us Nazis or mentioning the war as you could legally get! Of course they were cowardly sods so they got printers and other agencies to do the work for them. The magazine concept might have had the legs to weather the storm had there been a Wii or DS in the market but games back then were still pretty hardcore and most gamers couldn't care less for lifestyle garbage. It was amusing to have a photography budget for one issue that eclipsed what we spent on Mean Machines during it's entire life span!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Summer slog

The hot and sweaty days are upon us. Three computers and all the associated kit that goes with it can generate quite amazing heat when I close the door and windows. I dare not turn on the Xbox or the room will go into a supernova-style meltdown. Though a 360 and it's power pack make an excellent back-up radiator should you find yourself a bit chilly during the winter.
What are you playing at?
Nothing meaningful right now. Most of my games are now beaten and I am just collecting achievements like the whore I am. Going for the Dark Sector-Brutal achievement and then I've got a few little things to wrap on Condemned 2. Most likely take a while though as the work and nice weather make gaming a less exciting prospect than usual. Looking forward I don't see too much that takes my fancy either. Gears 2, Pinata 2 and banjo are some way off though I do have a freebie coming from Codemasters after I did some work for a Race Driver: Grid artbook. I tried the demo and it was very nice indeed.
Sitting on your fat spiny Tat Ass
It's been such a long time I showed off any of my tat warez that I almost broke my back in two reaching through the attic for this green plush monster. Hope you ingrates appreciate the pain as I type this out. Released to coincide with Final Fantasy something-or-other back in the mid 90s this whopping plush breaks all records for taking up space in your house and looking quite crap. The missus wanted to give it away to a hospital or charity but I managed to hold onto it. Better get it back into the attic before she throws it to one of those charity vans that drive down the street every other hour.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Bitches to the Sword baby!

Brucie is the KING! No videogame character has made me crap with laughter quite like this fellow. He needs his own game, movie or something simply because he's just out there. I'm laughing now while I recall the banter during those trips to the strip club! I've no idea how the all the other GTA games played out and I've no plans to give them a try but number IV is everything people say it is. Not a 10/10 mind but a spectacular achievement all the same. I won't run through the list of what it does so well as you either already know or don't care but the Rockstar chaps need a pat on the back. Oh, they also need to keep away from EA or we'll never see this kind of project again. So, what does a typical GTA session involve then? You can guarantee the following antics each time I play:

1 - Motorbike riders and assorted pedestrians will be mercilessly plowed down so I can see just how far they can get thrown into the air. I drove through two bikers on East Borough and they flew off the bridge altogether! Natural selection baby!
2 - A trip to Honkers with Brucie just to hear his banter on important topics like bitches and pecs. We're winners baby!
3 - Some multiplayer cops 'n' robbers and not flipping the car over when I get control! Man-hug time!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Keen on some IV-Play?

I might have mentioned it before but I never quite took to the GTA series in any way. I am not adverse to a bit of murder and mayhem in a digital world but I found GTA to be lacking a certain style. Still, it was hard not to be swept away with the prossie-wacking juggernaut this time round. I finally succumbed and picked up my first ever R* game yesterday. No preorder though. Just waltzed into Argos and handed over the readies. Midnight queues and stab-proof vests? No thanks! I wasn't compelled to rush home and take the day off work though. It sat on my desk till 11pm last night before I removed the wrap and popped it in the 360. I'll let know you what I think when I've clocked up some reasonable time in Liberty City. What I can tell you though is the manual designer needs to learn how to present his typography better. It's called tracking pal... tsk.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Eyes are most definitely 'Bloodshot'…

Seriously. Those wacked out effects of Ethan Thomas either drunk or hallucinating are making my eyes hurt! You know when you've been up late playing and you wake up the next day but your eyes ache and you need extra time to adjust to the light? Yep, you've been playing Condemned 2 just like me! I liked the 'effects' first time round, tolerated them in F.E.A.R. and downright despise them now. Okay Monolith we get it! You're on a mission to give us all fits and seizures. Condemned 2 isn't too bad anyway. Especially when you get that and Dark Sector together for under £30 smackers. If you paid full whack then you might be regretting it slightly. Both games have some nice stuff in there, combat is interesting, lots of crimson etc, but they just lack that extra oopmh that makes them a COD beater. Far too many achievements for online stuff in my opinion. Condemned multiplayer is hilariously flawed and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone online waiting to play. The Club had a similar problem. Maybe it's a Sega thing!
Update: Oh dear. Condemned 2 suddenly went from okay to absolute crockery. Not wanting to reveal too much in case you're going through the game yourself but the last few levels are like a completely different game. Awful. The grimy streets, sinister thugs and spooky storyline are gone. In their place you've got a wacky sci-fi plot stuck in a City 17 style structure occupied by Hellraiser rejects in bondage. Too much reliance on guns made the whole thing laughable even on the hardest game setting. It was not scary or thrilling in any way. Such a letdown. If you want to try Condemned for the first time then stick to the original. Much better game in so many ways.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Definition of April

It sucks. Cold, wet and really quite unnecessary. Hopefully May will be a huge improvement what with Grand Theft, Indy 4 and maybe a spot of sunshine for more than a day. I never really got into the GTA games and I'm not that desperate for the next one either but it's piqued my curiosity more than previous installments. COD multiplayer is keeping me entertained for now, especially with the hilarious Americans constantly proving to the rest of the world that they come tops in the racist/anti-everything else league tables. Joined one particular match of Search and Destroy and had to turn the volume down to stop the endless racist taunts between the two teams during the intermission.
Who Hell He?
Not sure whether it's considered 'cool' to admit it but I have always been a fan of Doctor Who. Tennant doesn't come close to the majesty of the Troughton/Pertwee era of course but its still got the basic elements that keep me entertained. I don't like every story of course and I have a love/hate thing going on with Catherine Tate but the first two episodes this season were worth watching. The upcoming episode with the Sontarans has massive potential and, if they do it right, the return of Davros will have fanbois spanking into the forums for weeks afterwards. I tried my hand at some covers for potential DVD releases to kill some time last year but your hands are a little tied when you have substandard jpegs to work from. The example above was one such cover I made for the '42' episode shown last year. It's far from perfect as the images I wanted to use could not be found at sufficient quality. I would have killed for a good pic of the spaceship flying towards the sun. Sigh!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Cash x Infinity Ward

Been enjoying the new multiplayer maps for COD 4 and very good they are too. I sit on the fence when it comes to whether this type of content should require us to cough up more of our hard earned. The new levels are great fun to play especially Creek and Chinatown but should they have come free or not? Activision execs are probably bathing in swimming pools of cash right now following massive sales of the game so a little something in return that doesn't require paying out? Still, I am a mug so I paid up my readies on the spot. Sucker!
Stretching the truth
Amusing promotional poster fell out of yesterdays MCV courtesy of Future. No company on the earth can spin lousy figures quite like the muppets down in Bath. Every year when their circs drop you can expect to hear a statement that in turn celebrates the last 12 months as their best ever. What sort of calculator do they use over there? Back to the poster. Dotted around the usual sterile design that we have come to expect from the masters of medical journal design is a collection of figures that's meant to impress. When your own numbers are laughably low you need to do something desperate to spin things back in your favour. I know! Lets show hardware installed base figures! Genius! What about that mythical mag term known as reach? This is publisher favourite that implies that each magazine sold is read by your family and your 400 mates who then rush out to buy software because your advert was on back cover. Huzzah! All that is left to do is to add a little bit of door-to-door speel from Future ging Binns about slow growth and attach rates to cover things up further. Superb! I am booking my ad slot now and I don't even have a game to push!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

April Musings

I was planning on making some elaborate April Fools gag for you last night but was too lazy. Sorry. I had a nice range of ideas including some fake World of Starcraft screenshots that cannibalised pics from that Blizzard Ghost game. Looked nice too. I might finish them off when I get a mo along with a cool logo I made. I would probably do a lot more drawing if I had the time and add a dash of colour now I own a massive A3 Wacom that takes up most of my desk. Speaking of Blizzard, I spotted a job posting for a Production Artist to work over at their Velizy HQ. Whilst I am not in a position to uproot the family and head off to France it would still be a corking job working on those Blizzard brands. Imagine sorting out the material for the next Diablo game and all the while you're getting paid in diamonds and gold since their megabucks merger with Activision!
Byron B*llocks
Getting a little tired of this ratings nonsense now. The best way anyone is going to protect children from inappropriate material is to cull all retarded parents BEFORE they have kids. No ratings system or retail fines will keep future versions of Manhunt from little Timmy if mummy is too busy arranging hair appointments or daddy just wants to impress on the days he has custody.

Eurogamers FTW!

That stellar shirt emporium you might have heard me mention in past posts has been updated today. Not just with some fine new garments but also with a spiffing new page to promote our official Eurogamer collection! I've been a fan of Eurogamer for a few years now and when I got chatting to some of the folks over there we discussed the possibility of doing some cool tees for the site. Well, a ton of emails later and here we are! The selection features some popular graphics and catchphrases from the Eurogamers community and anyone familiar with the site will recognise them straight away. If you don't then you'd better head over there and see what you're missing out on. Along with a top mix of gaming reviews, features, videos etc it also has regular contributions from my old colleague Richardo Leadbetter.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Lazy month for blogging…

Yeah I know. Not much new post action this month. Been away for a few family things and a ton of work meant I had little to no time to throw some Harrod mirth your way. Service will resume during April hopefully! I have fished out a few tat titbits for you from the attic. A few scans of some old Emap rags with which to regale your senses. A little tale or two from the GameFan period that will surely dazzle your imagination. Maybe some new games to talk about as I have nothing going since I knocked Frontlines: Fuel of War out the park. Actually, I need to finish The Club. Which reminds me. I read an interview in last weeks MCV with the agency responsible for the creative behind The Club. Some chap was boasting about the critical acclaim their work was receiving. Right. What a crock. Good packaging sells products and The Club didn't sell. If you're an FPS and you don't sell on the 360 then you're either a diabolical game or the marketing money was spent on drugs and booze. Since I own the game and it's fairly decent I can only surmise that the 'critically acclaimed creative' was another cynical agency attempt to produce something arty so they can get themselves a Nike campaign.

Friday, 14 March 2008

The Golden Age

Right up to the moment I started at Emap, everything I knew about gaming was learnt from the arcades. My coin-op career spanned from the 80s labor club classics like Pong and Space Invaders, right through to the 90s Soho test center tournaments involving Street Fighter and Tekken. I worked at a local arcade when I was still as school and got to play pretty much every major release on free credits once the place was locked up for the night. The king of the arcades in those days is unreservedly Capcom. They were so consistent in quality and so perfect in execution. Monster hits like Ghosts 'n Goblins, Trojan, Black Magic, Forgotten Worlds, Section Z and others sucked down so much of my time. So it was news from the recent Capcom Digital Day event that got me very excited. I knew that they had plans to reinvent some of these classics and bring them back for XBLA but just how they would turn out was still unclear. Well, general opinions from some respected journos would suggest that Capcom have done good! Commando! 1942! Bionic Commando: Rearmed! Whilst not my first choice out of Capcom's extensive library they're still all classics and the updated versions put on show are apparently awesome. Better stock up on the points for summer methinks.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Lost and found

On the final stretch of Lost Odyssey and it's been a cracking game. I have the choice now to finish off Gongora or try to complete the last lot of side quests to get a few more achievements. I'll be honest and say it's a lot of work for the small amount it would add to my Gamerscore. Frontlines and Condemned 2 are calling!
Love it longtime
Like most people I look forward to the usual blockbuster movies that come out each year. With two Marvel obsessed kids I have been following the progress of the Iron Man and Hulk films that are both due this summer. Sadly they both appear to be slightly too 'mature' for my lads so I'll need to placate them with some overpriced merchandise so they don't get too upset. It's very annoying though because the kind of kids that would take an Iron Man lunch box to school are likely to be too young to watch the movie. Go figure. Imagine if the games industry did the same? Manhunt rucksack and pencil case anyone?
Don't Workshop
Did a trawl of my bookmarks the other day and I came across some unusual stories about Games Workshop suffering from massive financial woes. A little more digging and they seem to be in a right old state. Job losses, closing stores, shutting down Black Industries and making a desperate bid to sell to new overseas markets to stem the blood loss. I always wondered how those GW stores made any money operating solely to push their own product rather than stocking other stuff and attracting more customers. It wil be interesting to see if the make it through the year…

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Check out my massive Tats!

During 2004 Computec Media UK was swallowed whole by the corporate evil known as Future Publishing. I probably spent a grand total of three days in their offices before I realised that I would rather be cleaning Satan's ringpiece with my teeth than working for them. So, packing my bags and heading off into the sunset, I looked for freelance gigs and one of the first was to develop a PlayStation magazine concept. Apart from it being jolly good fun and well paid I also managed to secure one of the greatest pieces of junk tat in the history of gaming. The PSX could be described as an early PS3 that was born hideously disabled and dumped in a binbag outside a hospital somewhere. A lot of it's features managed to end up on the PSP and PS3, like the menus and icons for various media functions, so Sony salvaged something from the trainwreck. Otherwise the DESR-5000 was a bigger white brick than a red-ringed 360 could ever hope to be.
Photographed by Mark Pierce

Monday, 25 February 2008

Chainsaw battles!

I got a noticeable twinge of excitement at the announcement for Gears of War 2 at the GDC conference held last week. You won't get what I mean if you don't play games to any degree of seriousness. You won't get what I mean if your idea of gaming is sitting with Grandma swinging your Wii wand around like the Elephant Man in zero gravity. Despite it's criticisms I really enjoyed the spectacle of Gears of War. The macho future war theme and insane visuals had me hooked and the multiplayer was the first decent Live game I had really persisted with. Though you had to keep your fingers crossed that you'd get a good group of players and not the Yankee pre-schooler obsessed with mothers and criminal acts associated with said mothers. That aside, roll on November!
World's Greatest RPG?
Probably not but Lost Odyssey is right up there with some of the best and I've played a fair few. What's so good about it? For me the key feature that really stands out is the 'acting'. Sounds odd but there is a level of drama between the characters that I really haven't seen before in a JRPG. There are so many standout moments that switch from hilarious banter involving Jansen, a lecharous magic user who tries to score with every woman he lays eyes upon, to some powerful emotional moments as the hero Kiam struggles to regain his memory and find out what happened to his family. Brilliant stuff. Every other aspect of the game is top notch quality though Mistwalker have played safe with a familiar feel to game mechanics, battles etc. Still, it's got me hooked and comes highly recommended if RPGs are your 'bag'.
As simple as ABC
All the usual suspects posted their circulation figures last week. It made for amusing reading as one would expect. The clown princes of publishing, namely Price and Butt, did the expected showboating despite the fact that everyone else can see the actual figures are a shambles. Anyone can who can make a song and dance over mags that sell under 20k would have given Day-Lewis a run for his money. To top it all off was the debut ABC for the latest incarnation of the Official PlayStation rag. Oh dear…

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Stuff and Nonsense

Digging through the archives of last year collecting images from finished work for the website. I always plan to do these things after each job but I don't and it makes finding the right pictures much harder. The example above is work I did on a Rogue Galaxy guide for a US client. Worked on a strategy guide and a sales support brochure to 'educate' the US specialist press about the joys the game allegedly offers. Close to 400 pages. All Rogue Galaxy. Well, lets just say the project started out a lot of fun but ended up a nightmare.
Devil Won't Die
Beaten the game twice and only managed 200 achievement points. Capcom want you to work hard to get all of these beauties. It's not become a chore… yet. Great gameplay and fantastic cut scenes keep the game playable even after multiple viewings. Which are inevitable if you're trying for S ranking on each stage. The game does have some painful moments though. The camera can be a particular target for a Harrod insult or two especially during some of the Secret Missions. Secret Mission 11 with the destruction of two statues using the Pandora weapon was a pad smashing moment for sure. One other awful decision that Capcom put into the game was the increase in costs for skills and items. When you have just a few things left, you'll buy one of skills and the remaining abilities get a 30% increase in their cost! WTF! Who sat down and thought that one up! Mining Proud Orbs are like all other farming techniques. Utterly tedious!
Caught in their Webb
New series of Mitchell and Webb this Thursday. I am a recent convert after catching an episode of the first series and then promptly got my grubbies on the Peep Show collection. Now this is proper sketch book material, not that tripe Little Britain.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Tears of Joy!

DMC 4 arrived and what a beauty! First 30 minutes was fantastic stuff though not much actual gameplay admittedly! The battle between the two leads was superbly orchestrated and I am looking forward to sinking some decent time into this much later tonight!
Update: Wow, what a blast! My thumbs are killing me doing these stylish combos while I work on the S rankings. Playing on Devil Hunter mode right now and have managed two S and two A rankings for the first four stages. Oddly enough, getting the red orbs is trickier than my time/style scores. Got to smash more chairs I guess!

World of Harrod…

…is a busy one. Lots of things on right now and not enough time as always. There used to be a day when I would sit around the rented apartments I frequented during my Emap years and be bored senseless. Now if I have anything less than 50 things to do at once then it's worthy of a Columbo-style investigation to see whats gone wrong. Here is the lowdown on a few things:
• Gaming: Devil May Cry 4 due any day now from Play. Reviews have been slightly disappointing but it's one of those games that, if it's your thing then review scores don't matter. Actually, review scores really don't matter! Also looking for a cheap copy of The Club and there are some good deals going so I might pick that up this week too. The Lost Odessey is another in my sights. Blue Dragon was pure JRPG and Mistwalker's latest looks set to continue in that vein. Play-Asia doing a nice deal on the Japanese version which also has full English voice-overs and menus! Oh joy!
• Tees: Got some nice designs in progress including concepts based on Dreamcast, Neo Geo and 16-Bit gaming in general. Also some ideas for Gears of War, CoD4 and Devil May Cry are moving forward. Takes a while to develop as we need to be careful not to infringe anyones copyrights whilst still retaining the feel and style of the theme in question. Plus, if we would not wear it ourselves then it doesn't get through the approval process!
• New Ideas: Working on something new with some chums of mine and developing ideas for another new strand for the business. This has bigger potential in the future should it actually get legs and run. Cannot say too much right now as you would expect. In fact I'd better shut up already!
• Tat: I have unearthed a few bits of Tat for you all and once I have some pics then I'll post them here. Will be giving the attic a comprehensive sorting out in the next few weeks and I am fully expecting to discover a veritable treasure trove of classic Tattle.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Grass is green and the girls are pretty?

I've not noticed any girls in Paradise City. Heck, there isn't a single soul in town. It's like the whole place is some futuristic, car-controlled world where humans have been removed because they could not stand us moaning over game ratings and censorship. I really enjoyed the drivers flying out the windshield in Flatout: Ultimate Carnage and there are some spectacular ways to trash your vehicle in Burnout. Think of the ragdolling you could get upto! Not to detract from the hugely enjoyable experience but everyone who watches me play asks why the car has no driver! I was apparently one of the few that liked the demo. Burnout faithful are seemingly upset over the free-roaming gameplay that Paradise City now offers. Screw them! Burnout is hugely entertaining with some excellent online modes to dabble in when the mood takes you. Only downside is I am a big collector of game boxes and since my copy is a promo version it has a butchered front cover and no manual. Beggars can't be choosers as me 'ol grannie used to say!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Battle for free!

More magazine freebies in this post. The NMS Battle Book was another Harrod-inspired tome of fighting game facts and nonsense. The beat 'em up was at it's peak during the '90s and NMS was drawn to them like flies on shizzle. The Battle Book was a collection of the best of the best including Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and most of the SNK stuff doing the rounds at that time. World Heroes FTW! One thing I didn't hang onto was the NMS battle cards featured in the picture above. Anyone out there hang onto those?
Never got round to this shooter first time around so I'll be giving it a try later tonight to see what it's all about. I prefer my shmups side-on but I'll take whatever is going when there's so little choice nowadays.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Gamer's may cry…

…due to the insane amounts of joy to be had from playing Capcom's latest DMC installment due out shortly. Downloaded the demo, and I like the small ones since I have no patience waiting, and beat it senseless in a matter of minutes. Played like a dream and other than that dull stretch in the snow it looked the business too. Demo did the trick. You've got my money on launch day Capcom!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Shirt off my back

Working hard on new shirts and the latest designs are currently in staging ready to go live. Hopefully by tomorrow they will be available for all the retro faithful out there. Still, if you're a fan of Mean Machines or Maximum but tighter than a gnat's chuff then you can at least spread the word brudda! The Mean Machines shirt is a redesign of the Mega Game badge used in the magazine. I redrew the basic outlines then scanned the art before creating outlines in Illustrator. Some line weight tweaks, a bit of pondering for the text and there you go.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Who has a Shiny Helmet?

Well, if you don't then perhaps you need to sample one of the new shirts just added to that stellar gaming tee site videogametees.com this very minute! More designs coming soon but they have to rock or I won't let them through quality control.
Omega 7 out of 10?
Chuckled when I read Eurogamers review of the new XBLA shmup Omega Five. The reviewer was whinging on about the difficulty. That's the problem with 'noob' gamers. Brought up on Nintendogs and Wii Sports they expect everything to be a doddle and if there's no easy mode or endless credits they cry into their skirts. Grow some balls Parkin! Omega Five is certainly a challenge but it's easily overcome once you are familiar with the mechanics. Now if you want a 'hard' shooter then try Mushihime-sama Ultra.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Saddle 'em up

Covermounted gimmicks were so easy for Emap mags. We did not have to worry about DVD trailers or DS case decals or repackaged content in a cardboard folder. We just had to give the readers anything with Street Fighter on it! This particular freebie was a splendid editorial effort to push the Sega Turbo Edition and make use of the great art we always managed to wangle from Capcoms coin-op dude. Cannot remember his name but we would meet every now and then outside the Electrocoin test center near Goodge Street and wax lyrical about arcade stuff. One such time had us staring at a Fatal Fury poster on the door and he launched into a tirade on SNK artwork and how bad it was. The artist in question was Shinkiro and I was a big admirer of his drawings for Fury and KoF etc. Shinkiro actually went on to work for Capcom when SNK went bankrupt back in the day!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Amusing Musings

I'd read a lot of stories, articles and forum posts over the last year about the unreliability of the Xbox 360 hardware. I even dedicated the Deadbox t shirt to it over at videogametees.com (blatant plug – Ed) and wondered what people where doing to the machines to cause these breakdowns. Sure, the console is louder than an aircraft engine and it generates enough heat to cook a turkey but it's still the owners fault when they break right? Well, December 26th smacked the smugness from my face when my Xbox joined the ranks of the broken hordes when it failed to display a picture on the telly. A bit of research and it would appear to be a heat issue that may have affected the video card connection. I have owned pretty much every console ever made and the 360 is the only one to ever develop a fault. Thanks Bill!
Gaming Tees for all
Regulars will know that my t shirt project was out the gate a few weeks ago. Four new shirts going up in a weeks time. FAQ and About copy is in staging and some other ideas for community features will be added this month also. Plenty of positive comments and a few negatives which enable us to improve the site. Visitors want more shipping destinations, full shirt previews so they can see how big the design will be on the shirt, and of course they want a working FAQ so they can get all the details about what goes on when you order from the site. Shopping online is much safer than it used to be but naturally it can always be improved so the customer feels secure when handing over their details. As far as new shirts go we have plenty of new designs in the works but they take a while to get just right. Richard keeps asking for a shirt with Pippa Funnell on it but I told him to get lost.
Mass Effect
Going through again on hardcore now. Will be collecting a few achievements I missed out on first time round but mainly because it's such a good game. It does have faults. Dealing with your items and the 150 limit is a mass pain in the ass for example. The UI is nice looking but it's a dog when it comes to converting items into Omni-gel. ME2 is a given so hopefully they will sort that out and perhaps add a little more meat to the main storyline. Expanding on the romance sub-plot would be a bonus. First time round I got into Liara's spacesuit and Ashley never got a look in. Perhaps a threesome sub-plot when the Reapers are on an oil break! Huzzah!