Gina G

You know what I’m I’m looking for.

(Another suggestion of little value from @JayTay)

Gina G

Quite. Look Mr Tay, I’m not in the habit of knowing anything about Europop one hit wonders, despite reports to the contrary. But, in the absence of anything else to write about, Gina G it is.

We all know that she sang a song called “Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit”. However, what we don’t know is anything else. Apparently there were other songs, but I suspect this is mere rumour, as if she did we’d likely know about them.

“Ooh Aah,, Just A Little Bit” was number one in the UK, even though it was the UK’s entry that year into the Eurovision Song Contest and didn’t win. I can only assume it’s because everyone fancied Gina G or something. I was not one of these people.

Gina G

It’s a catchy song I suppose, and a bit naughty perhaps, but I’m baffled as to how it got to be so popular. Mind you, that counts for almost everything that has ever reached the top end of the charts. People are strange.

Just in case you have never heard her most (and only) famous song, which yes, really does have an ellipsis in the title alongside two non-words, you can watch her perform it at Eurovision. Completed with knickers on show from her backing dancers. Utter filth. No wonder we voted out of the EU after that.

She was no Whigfield, it has to be said.

Play Want Bin Expense: 2016-08-29

More space than actual sky

Not a vast array of games this week. Because, well, you’ll see.

Play

No Man's SkyNo Man’s Sky (PS4)
Who knows how far in I am now, but I’m only on my third system and probably 12th planet. I keep trying to progress the story, but then I spot new things to land and investigate and before you know it 12 hours have passed and I’m still on the same planet and still haven’t reached the marker I was aiming for originally. I’ve maxed out my suit space, have an awesome multi-tool, but with a feeble 21 slot spaceship I’m desperate for a replacement.

Pokemon YPokémon Y (3DS)
So here’s a thing. My daughter an I wandered into Sainsbury’s completely unaccompanied and stumbled across them selling copies of Pokémon X and Y for £24.69 each. As my daughter has been a bit jealous of my wife and I having Pokémon Go for our phones and she hasn’t, I thought – especially considering any Pokémon game is currently over £40 even secondhand – I’d pick her up one. She chose X, and then I somehow bought Y for myself at the same time. What I didn’t realise is how much the two of us can essentially play through together! I can heal her, and vice versa, and we can transfer Pokémon between us easily: I picked up a Farfetch’d which, thanks to Aerial Ace, wiped the floor with the first gym. She couldn’t find one, so I loaned her mine to do the gym too. It’s fantastic. I’m (well, we’re) currently in Versailles. No, really.

Pokémon Go (iOS)
Level 21, almost 22. Managed to take a few gyms this week, so have enough coins to actually buy things in the shop!

Want

Zelda (NX), Sonic Mania (NX, presumably), and Paper Mario (Wii U). And an NX of course.

Bin

My Vita? I mean, I’d never actually bin it, but I charged it to play Persona 4 Golden and it took so long to charge, update, and reauthenticate (two factor authentication is now available, although somewhat broken in implementation) I never got round to it.

Expense

Pokémon X (3DS) – £24.69
Pokémon Y (3DS) – £24.69
Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (PS3) – £3.99
Sega Mega Drive Collection (PSP/Vita) – £3.19

How Debbie Met a Stranger

“I reckon I’ll stay in this evening, I’ve got a feeling something’s going to happen!”

Like we’re supposed to believe that the lovely Debbie is 1) really into computers, 2) owns a modem, and 3) is actually a woman.

In the early 90s, bulletin board systems like this didn’t have women on them, and anyone who appeared to be a woman was almost always a man. It’s not being sexist, that’s just how it was. Geeky men with thick rimmed glasses and facial bumfluff but enough money to dial these incredibly expensive phone numbers for hours at a time.

I wasn’t one of them, of course, because I didn’t wear glasses and had nowhere near enough money. I did, for a time in around 1993-4 have a modem for my Spectrum and again briefly in 1995 had one for my Amiga 500. I can’t recall what I dialled for the former, and the latter was a board called Digisomething. Digidrive? I’ve no idea.

Digiwhatever gave me my first personal email address (I’d used email at school years before, but never had my own email account) which I never used, and had the usual at the time set of message boards, chatrooms (which were always empty), text files full of jokes and hacking guides and stuff, download areas (to get Amiga public domain software and no doubt some viruses as a bonus) and games you could play within the system. One was Hunt the Wumpus, another was a sort of MUD you could create rooms in as you go. It was incredible at the time. To get an idea of some of the stuff that got put on these things to look at, you can find some are archived here.

A year or so later I had free internet access at university and joined a telnet BBS called Room 101. It was “run” by some geeks at the University of Ripon (which isn’t where I went), but in reality was probably loaded onto a computer sat in a cupboard somewhere and the staff didn’t know about it. It was almost certainly accidentally turned off in around 2001 and since nobody knew it was even there, was never turned back on.

Like Digiwhojilly, it had games and chat rooms and things, but because it was more widely used, mainly by students across the country, it was much busier. It was fun while it lasted, and didn’t come with a massive phone bill.

Amazingly, there was one actual real actual genuine girl on there, called Justine. I know she was a girl because I rang her twice while drunk. The second time I called she was out and I spoke to her mum at 2am. It was awkward. “So how do you know Justine?” “We spoke on a computer, er, thingie.” “And why are you calling at 2am?” “I’m drunk”.

That’s how Debbie met a stranger. No, I’m not Debbie – Justine is.

More amazingly, considering the internet is a global thing, and Room 101 was at the very least UK-wide (although I do remember at least one American on there), I was in a computer room at three in the morning or some other ungodly hour chatting on Room 101. Slowly it dawned on me that the guy I was chatting to was sat behind me. Then I found out he lived in the same halls of residence as me in an adjacent corridor. What are the chances?

But really, Debbie in that advert? Advertising in nerdy computer magazines that bored women go on some online chatroom? In 1993? No way.

ADDENDUM: It was DigiBank! Also known as Digital Databank, and closed in 1998. Turns out it was a mainly Acorn BBS, but they definitely did Amiga stuff.

Alphabest: Mega Drive – V

V is for Volaré

I was sure there were more games beginning with V for the Mega Drive, but apparently not. Less to write about then, I suppose.

V

To begin with, both Valis games for the Mega Drive can go in the bin. Valis is a jerky, horrible platformer in the same style as Devil Hunter Yohko but not nearly as good, and Valis III (there’s no Valis II for Sega’s 16bit console, as far as I can tell) is slightly better but also crap for the same reasons. Nice character portraits, shame about the game.

Verytex is a passable shooter, Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety ditches the platform formula of other Spider-Man games for a mediocre TMNT style beat-em-up, and Viewpoint is a Zaxxon-y isometric shooter which fails to deliver. Virtual Bart? No. It’s crap.

There’s not a lot else for V. Virtual Pinball should be great, as it’s not only a massive pinball game with over 25 tables and a table construction set to make your own, it’s so utterly bland as a result that it doesn’t come close to other Mega Drive pinball games like Crüe Ball or Psycho Pinball. VR Troopers is a nasty fighting game based on the TV series that isn’t even as good as Power Rangers, which is pretty damning.

Which leaves?

virtua fighter 2Virtua Fighter 2 is a brave attempt to bring the fluid 3D polygonal fighting game from the arcade and Saturn to the Mega Drive. Unfortunately, it does this by taking those polygons and prerendering them all as sprites, so you get the worst of both worlds – the horrible angular graphics of those early 3D games, and the horrible animation of digitised sprites. The gameplay is still almost intact, but there’s a reason Virtua Fighter 2 used polys originally.

virtua racingVirtua Racing on the other hand, manages to squeeze the arcade polygons into a Mega Drive cartridge mostly intact, albeit by using an extra co-processor chip which bumped the game price up to around £70 (from the usual at the time £45). It’s incredibly impressive, though, and despite being clearly cut down visually from the original, it plays just as well.

And the Alphabest?

V was not a good letter for the console, it would seem. A shortlist of just two titles, and one of those is obviously flawed. The winner this time round is clear then: Virtua Racing.

Expensive and short, yes, but it was the only way to get a decent version of the arcade game at home without buying a 32X or a Saturn.

W next then. Woo!

Let’s Play! Hug Arena

Gotta hug ’em all.

You may remember the fun I had waiting for a delivery the other week. It eventually came, and in it was a great little device called a Pocket CHIP – a Raspberry Pi-like tiny computer, in a shell that contains a keyboard and touch screen.

One of the selling points of the Pocket CHIP is that is comes with a copy of the Pico-8 virtual console development kit. The Pico-8 is a low resolution console that doesn’t actually exist, but there’s a set of specs and a programming language for it, and people have been making some great little games for it. One of which, is Hug Arena.

Hug Arena

And since you can play Pico-8 games in a web browser, I can point you to where you can have a go too!

The aim is to hug all the baddies, without the other baddies getting you while you’re hugging. Once they’ve all been hugged, you move on to the next level. It’s surprisingly addictive.

Click here to play it!

Best Pokemon Pun Names

Assuming you’re not calling them all Dave, anyway.

If you’re a Pokémon Go player, and you’re not calling all your pokémon “Dave”, then you’re doing it wrong. However, you can be partially redeemed by naming them one or more of these incredible (mainly) celebrity pun-based monikers. Original Red/Blue/Yellow line-up only of course, as that’s the Pokémon Go way!

Unfortunately, the character limit in the game is somewhat miserly, so you may need to truncate or creatively abridge a few of these fantastic suggestions.

  • Gengareth Gates
  • Paras Hilton
  • Bill Oddish
  • Raticate Middleton
  • Alakazammo McGuire
  • Mew Edwards
  • Phil Wigglytuffnell
  • Dratini Turner
  • Marowakin Phoenix
  • Meowthandie Newton
  • Persian Lloyd
  • Fearowland Rivron
  • Fatty Arbokle
  • Bruce Forscyther
  • Seel Diamond
  • Pete Lapras
  • Charmander Holden
  • Eddie Charizard
  • Horseamantha Fox
  • Jeremy Weedle
  • Jack Spearow
  • Jeff Golbat
  • Rick Gastly
  • Haunterence Trent d’Arby
  • Rhydonald Trump
  • Chansey Laine
  • Tangela Lansbury
  • Donna Kebabra
  • Venonatman John
  • Hypnoel Edmonds
  • Vaporeonald Reagan
  • Nidoranneka Rice
  • Gerry Rattataty
  • Cubone Gooding Jr
  • Drowzeezee Top

A belated public apology to a woman in Blackpool

Very belated, I should add.

When I was 9 or 10, I went to Blackpool for the day with my family. There’s nothing unusual about this, as we went a couple of times a year, but this time I did a Very Bad Thing and nobody ever punished me for it.

As we walked along the promenade, carefully avoiding the trams so as not to become the next Alan Bradley, looking at the various vendors of seaside tat and frozen treats, we stopped to queue up and buy some chips or rock or something. I don’t remember exactly what, but the point was I was young and bored and at the seaside and children should not be young and bored at the seaside.

I wandered a little way back while the rest of my family queued up, and went behind a stall selling hilarious Kiss Me Quick hats and even more hilarious “Blackpool at Night” postcards. Climbing on the railing, I looked down onto the beach and over to the sea itself. Because it’s Blackpool, very few people were on the beach, although a handful were sunbathing on deckchairs and sun loungers, and even fewer were in the sea (which as we all know, is 75% raw sewage, 25% acid around that part of the coast). Because I was a child, I kicked a few pebbles down the sea defences, which were actually a steep incline made out of very large pebbles cemented together. The small pebbles bounced randomly and pleasingly down the slope, ricocheting off the large pebbles in all directions.

After I’d done this a few times, I spotted one of the large pebbles at the top of the sea wall had come loose from the cement. You can probably see where this is going, but at the time, I clearly didn’t.

This stone was about the size of, and vaguely shaped like, a rugby ball, but being made of solid flint (or whatever the local stone of choice is up there) was incredibly heavy, especially for my weak boy-muscles. Somehow, I managed to manoeuvre it into position – not too close to the nearby steps, but down a part of the wall that I’d discovered was particularly “bouncy” when test-running with the smaller pebbles. I kicked it, and off it went.

It probably took about five seconds to reach the bottom, but once it had left my foot everything went into slow motion as it suddenly dawned on me what was going to happen.

Unlike the other pebbles, which pinged their way harmlessly down the bumpy surface, this monster of a rock seemed determined. When it struck a sticking out boulder for the first time, it went airborne. With each bounce, it gained momentum and height. Bad Things were going to happen.

What I’d realised, is that due to the speed and directness of its travel, the rock was heading straight for a group of holidaymakers sunning themselves. There was no chance of a change of direction like the other pebbles had done frequently, and this was big, and heavy, and fast.

The group consisted of a man and a woman, each on deckchairs and probably in their late 40s or early 50s, reading newspapers. An older woman was in another deckchair with a hat over her face, and a young boy of about my age was digging a hole (he’s probably dead now, if he was touching that Blackpool sand). The final, and as it turned out most important, member of the group was a slim young woman, maybe 16 or 18, lying on her back on a sun lounger. She was wearing a tiny bikini and I briefly wondered if she’d had an argument with her dad regarding it. A family lined up like pins at the bowling alley.

The rock hit the sand a good 10 metres or more away from them. There’s no way it could bounce having hit the sand. None of the small pebbles did and I’d seen golf on the telly and when the ball hits the bunker, it stops dead. I was saved! Except the rock did bounce. A couple of metres up in the air, and still seemed to be gaining speed. It hit the sand again and threw up a load of it on impact. Surely it’d stop now? Rocks crash into the Moon all the damn time and don’t bounce, right? It bounced, leaving a crater, but instead of another high bounce, the ovoid nature of it made it change speed and trajectory – faster and lower.

Right onto the stomach of the young girl lying down.

She folded in half at the middle. Even though I was quite some distance away, I heard the thud as it landed on her and the gasp as she received it. Time sped back up again, and in an instant her whole family – bar her – were standing up and looking in my direction. As I was behind a stall, I was the only person standing anywhere near that part of the wall. It couldn’t be anyone else. I looked at them. They looked back. I mouthed “Sorry!” and the dad of the group started to run towards the steps nearby that led from the beach to the prom. I didn’t realise why at first, but then my brain caught up and I realised I was in real trouble.

I did the only thing I could. I rushed into a seaside tat stall a little further down the road and hid behind some massive Bermuda shorts that were on a rail. Peeking out I saw the man go past, and then return. He didn’t see me.

When I rejoined my family in the rock/chips/hat queue, I’d taken my t-shirt off “because I was too hot” in the hope I’d be less recognisable. I’d read a Gyles Brandreth book for kids about how to be a spy, and in the absence of a felt tip pen to draw on a moustashe and no talc to colour my hair, it was all I could think of. Later that day we had to walk back along that section of the promenade and I was certain I’d be seen by the family, but they’d gone – presumably to hospital.

I even watched the news for a few days in case she’d died or something. I don’t think she did. I mean, she seemed OK, right? And the rock wasn’t that big? And I didn’t see an ambulance.

Anyway, if you’re reading, mystery Blackpool woman who is now nearing 50, I’d expect, and still possibly bent in the middle, I’m sorry.

(Featured image is from here, is unmodified, and used under this licence)

Alphabest: Mega Drive – U

U is for Submarine

Can you remember a single Mega Drive game beginning with the letter U? Of course you can’t. Probably. There certainly aren’t very many, so let’s make it quick, right? S and T nearly killed me.

U

I will start with Unnecessary Roughness ’95, which yes, is actually a real game. Rather, it would be a real game but American Football isn’t really a real game, so it isn’t. Also: American Football means it goes in the bin. Bye!

Joining it in Sportsbin, is Ultimate Soccer. Without wishing to repeat myself for the nth time, football is fully at the meh end of the excitementometer for me and it’s rare such a game gets more than a passing play. That said, when I first saw Ultimate Soccer on Gamesmaster, two things interested me – the unusual camera angle, and the fact that with the aid of two multitaps a staggering eight players could take part at once. Then I played it and it was crap the end.

Like all Ultraman games, Ultraman for the Mega Drive is awful. This version is a one-on-one fighting game with the worst baddies ever in it. Only Rise of the Robots can possibly defeat it for Most Crap Fighting Game.

Universal Soldier is notable because I copied the passwords out of an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly and sent them into Megatech as my own, which they then published. I’m a thief and a fraud, but neither are sins as bad as the game itself.

Ultimate Qix is a fancy version of Qix, which is always fun but hardly top tier gaming excellence. There’s nothing wrong with it, and the Mega Drive version is especially nice, but best game beginning with U? No – that accolade goes to one of these:

Urban StrikeUrban Strike doesn’t star the guy from the new Star Trek films, but it is the third game in the series that started with Desert Strike and then Jungle Strike. As you may have guessed, the main locales here are, er, urban areas. Unlike previous games in the series you can get out your chopper 1 and run around buildings. It isn’t as good as the earlier games in the series though, which is a shame.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is, honestly, a better game than Street Fighter II. On the Mega Drive, at least. There are so many characters, and somehow the fighting, like a good dog food, feels meatier and more satisfying. Super Street Fighter II may have accidentally invented combos, but UMK3 fully realised them and is more technical and cerebral as a result. And being able to gut your opponent like a fish? An excellent bonus.

And the Alphabest?

There’s no real competition here – it has to be Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. The original Mortal Kombat was really pretty crap, but with MKII and then MK3 things really improved, with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 being the pinnacle of the series. Even now, when we’re some 10 or 12 iterations into the series and digitised sprites have given way to fully flexible 3D models, it remains the best.

Urban Strike isn’t a bad second place, but it’s a disappointment after Desert and Jungle.

Next time, the letter they like to call V.

 

Notes:

  1. That is, alight from your helicopter, you naughty boy.

Play Want Bin Expense: 2016-08-22

To Boldly Go where No Man has Gone Before, Or Ever Likely Will

Did you know No Man’s Sky came out recently? I did.

Play

No Man's SkyNo Man’s Sky (PS4)
Over the weekend I spent over 7 hours on a single planet. At this rate, I’ll be complete in around, oooh, some time long after the real universe has ceased to exist. It’s a lot shallower, gameplay wise, than perhaps many people were expecting but I’m loving just finding stuff. Even if most of the stuff looks almost the same as stuff I’ve already seen.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)
Finished! Woooo! I wrote a lot more about it here, but just to abridge that post a little – it’s the best JRPG I’ve played in ages and it really makes me want to go back and finish off Persona 4 Golden now. Tokyo Mirage took “just” 75 hours to complete, and I loved every minute.

Sakura SpiritSakura Spirit (Mac)
Another game I completed in the last week, although “game” is pushing it a bit as it’s barely more than a story. Not that I’ve a complaint with that, but I do have other complaints. Such as how crap it is. Again, I’ve already written in more detail about Sakura Spirit, but if you can’t be bothered reading that, my advice is don’t play it yourself.

Beware Planet EarthBeware Planet Earth (PC)
And another game finished. I did have a busy week. I’d actually played about 2/3rds of the game several months ago but got back into it recently and worked my way through what was left. More here, but in summary, it’s a more than decent (and slightly unusual) tower defence game and well worth a go.

Pokémon Go (iOS)
ALL DERE POKEMENS. Finally got a Geodude.

Want

Paper Mario (Wii U) and Zelda (NX) and an NX, and… that might be it? Except… I really want a Pokémon game now. I’ll probably wait for Sun and Moon, because they’re currently cheaper to pre-order than any other recent Pokémon game is second hand. Madness.

Bin

Sakura Spirit, obviously.

Expense

Nothing this week.

Give me your stuff (please)

My wife now, Dave

Hey! I had this great idea. Why not, I thought, ask you lot to give me stuff? Wouldn’t that be excellent? Imagine all the stuff I’d get!

That is, assuming you actually give me some stuff, of course. If every single one of my readers gave me some stuff, I’d have, ooooh, three whole stuffs! Three! Incredible.

Now that I’ve convinced you to give me some stuff, it’s probably a good idea to tell you what sort of stuff I want, because otherwise you’ll just send me dirty photos of yourselves and nobody wants that, especially not me. This is not even an attempt at reverse psychology. Seriously.

No, what I actually want is digital goods. Have a spare Steam key for a game I don’t own and want me to play and write about it no matter how terrible it is? Give it to me! Fancy bunging a few quid Nintendo eShop, Steam or Playstation Network credit my way, even if it comes with a request to buy a specific title to play and comment on? Mine! Have you written a game or piece of software and want me to look at it? GIEV CODE NAO. I promise I won’t sell it on eBay or G2A or something.

I’ve pretty much every console bar an Xbone, and have a Mac that’ll also play PC games, and I’m open to non-game stuff too. Anything digital – games, money, music, books, comics, money, films, money… anything. Just nothing illegal, nothing pirated – legit stuffs only.

Cheeky to ask for stuff? Yeah, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Besides, who doesn’t love the warm feeling of giving? Think of it as payment for several glorious months of me providing absolute drivel for your entertainment. Like Patreon or Flattr but with less work on my part because I’m a lazy, lazy man.

How about it? I’ll love you forever. Or at least a week, anyway. I’ll write about whatever you send me, make no promises it’ll be a good write-up either in terms of writing skill or in terms of how much I liked it, and you won’t get it back.

Interested? Tweet at me @deKay01 or fill the form in below. I thank thee.

(Featured image is from here, is unmodified, and used under this licence)