Give thanks! The dry season is over! Here in the UK we don’t know, care or celebrate Thanksgiving at all. We have Guy Fawkes – a guy with a sense of occasion. Of course, in the US Thanksgiving is is a big deal. In fact, it’s a huge deal an absolutely enormous commercial holiday season. As far as retail trade is concerned Thanksgiving is bigger than christen.

Summary: big games are coming!

Lets see, Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) went gold yesterday, Rebelstar Tactical Command shipped on GBA yesterday, the Shadow of the Colossus hit my PS2 yesterday (yay!) and the long awaited Age of Empires 3 demo appeared yesterday. The latter weighs in at a less than 400mb install file – pretty good compared to Dungeon Siege 2’s 1gb+ download size.

Not bad for a Wednesday, I think you’ll agree.

In a couple of weeks time the latest installment of the Burnout series will be with us. Whilst it’s not the same technical jump from 2 to 3 that we saw last year there’s more than enough stuff introduced in it’s look, style and mechanics to warrant proper investigation. The usual EA doubters and dismissive types can snort, but I believe it’s them that’ll be losing out, not EA.

So, get ready for the season of gaming overload. The summer drought is over and the trickle that started recently is sure to become a flood.

Yes, I played Shadow of the Colossus. Yes it was awesome. My views will appear later on today.

Minor rantlet

There’s something that’s been niggling away at me for a while now. What the hell is it with websites with deliberately shitty gallery navigation.

Primary offender: It’s a good site, plenty of information, good reviews, previews and updates. But, goddamnit, click on an image thumbnail and a new window opens to display it. That’s not the problem. But you can’t advance to the next or previous image from that new window. Ooooh no. You have to close the window and click on the next thumbnail instead.

An oversight perhaps?

Unlikely. The thumbnail links use javascript:void instructions so the boffins know what they’re doing and they know that using such a method defeats the convenience of tabbed browsing too.

Now, I can understand if you have major exclusive and you don’t want kids hotlinking to your images and stealing your bandwidth. Just make the gallery Flash based or something. But Worthplaying clearly isn’t too fussed with that and they also watermark all their images.

So, please, someone explain the mentality of deliberately making your large, sprawling, multimedia website a right bloody pain to navigate – seemingly for the sheer hell of it.

Footnote: This post sounds better if you imagine an exasperated John Cleese is saying it.

Smug get!

Two minor achievements to report!

Firstly, I’ve answered my own request for a Gradius V playthrough video and uncovered a heap of speed run sites to raid. The Gradius playthrough video can be found on the first site listed below. You’ll also find Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun playthroughs too!

Second achievement and one earning me some seriously hardcore bragging rights: I’ll be playing Shadow of the Colossus in the next 24 hours. This won’t mean much to some people but I’m expecting my OPM October coverdisk to be with me shortly and it features a playable demo of this highly anticpated game.

Go me!

Gameboy Love

Sometimes my timing can be a bit off. I recently chucked Final Fantasy Tactics Advance back onto my GBA and started afresh. It’s an awesome game with some of the highest production values that you could possibly throw at the little machine.

However, this week (today in fact) is the release day for Rebelstar Tactical Command. Huh? What? Well, it’s UFO: Enemy Unknown Advance by any other name.

UFO is a legend of gaming that, truthfully, has aged rather badly, but was one of the most engrossing and enjoyable games I ever played back in the days of MS DOS. My life doesn’t have time for FFTA and this and I know which one’s going to get the boot by the end of the week.

I’m expecting great things of this. Gollop, don’t let me down! email updates – status check

Well viewers, the polls are closed, the results are in, the votes have been counted and a verdict can now be cast.

Contrary to my earlier leanings I’d now say that RMAIL is a better option than RSSFWD. Both are pretty much the same, you get a full html email of the post – including links, pictures and formatting with either option. The difference between the two is that RMAIL tends to email you almost immediately after has been updated whereas RSSFWD can take up to two hours.

Now, I’d be surprised if any readers are such enormous fans of my meanderings that they feel they simply cannot wait a whole two hours after I’ve made a post, but there you go. I’m simply supplying the results of some research and feedback.

Who goes? Who stays? YOU decide.

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Frog, Prince

So, the weekend has come to an end. Again. Saturday was unproductive in the conventional sense of the word but I feel happy with what I achieved. After my brief stint with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time earlier in the week I felt compelled to play it more – to the point of completion no less. I enjoyed every second of it and have higher regard for the game than I did originally.

I’m more than pleased with my completion time of seven hours and I wondered what the best time for the game was. After all, this was the second time I’d completed the game and some of the routes through the environment were now familiar to me. I recall being stuck for some time simply because the camera didn’t give me a comprehensive view of the situation and I couldn’t fathom how to proceed. No such problems this time.

Still, a quick scurry to the Speed Demos Archive showed me that the game had been beaten in a humbling 2:09. With bandwidth to spare I downloaded the video of the run and watched the technique. Pah! Dodging all the fights – WIMP! Still, I was very happy to note that I’d spotted a short-cut that Mr. Speedy hadn’t.

I spent a bit of time at the Speed Demos Archive, marvelling at Metal Slug being beaten on one life and Contra: Shattered Soldier being given similar treatment. I’d love to see a good playthrough of Gradius V on the PS2 without having to import the Gradius Perfect DVD. If anyone happens to know that such a download exists, please let me know. Thanks.

Sunday was going to be a day of hard labour. My mother-in-law is halfway through transforming her front garden from a rather solid, plant-unfriendly place to something more suited to her green fingers. This involves turning over a large patch of earth that turned out to be clay. Now, me and hard labour aren’t exactly bedfellows. Hell, we barely know each other. But when it comes to helping out my mother-in-law, the answer is YES regardless of the task. She looked after me and spoiled me rotten for a solid year when I lost my job and she’s a fabulous woman – wise, funny, sincere and the mother of a fabulous, now married, woman.

So, I was moderately relieved to learn she’d decided to get the professionals in with a digger rather than rely on me. This just left a good family afternoon gathering at my sister-in-law’s place were much good food and liquid was enjoyed by all. The family had only recently returned from a holiday in the south of France which they were keen to tell us all about. In no time at all a plan was hatched to return in 2006 – this time with all of us in tow. My wife was rather jealous of them originally as she adores France and had spent a few years living and working there. She’s now delighted to have another holiday planned and has already started counting down to August 2006.

Life is good. I’m a man of relatively simple means and it often turns out that because I’m rarely reaching for an impossible goal that I’m rarely disappointed. Of course, having a stupendous amount of good luck doesn’t hurt either – but I can’t really give any tips on that.

Email updates to

Digital magpie that I am, I’m always on the lookout for a clever gizmo or widget that will help me achieve my goals.

I was speaking to a friend yesterday and explained how easy it was to get updates to this site in Firefox by using Live Bookmarks or the Sage RSS reader extension. He grumbled a little but has decided to give Sage a go.

Today I found not one but two alternatives. Both do the same job of forwarding RSS feed updates to you by sending them to you in an email.

I’m trialing them both at the moment but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m favouring RssFwd over RMail.

If you’re interested in getting updates delivered to you by email then simply click one of the two links below and provide your email address:

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I’ll be updating the layout of the site to permanently accomodate a link to the subscriptions. I’d be grateful for any feedback you have.

Slugs and sand

Yup, just announced for the Atomiswave arcade hardware system is the newest installment of the legendary run-n-gun Metal Slug series. I’m expecting the game to stick to it’s tried and tested formula of being a demonstration of fine pixel-art whilst being hard as nails. I guess 6 earlier installments (don’t forget Metal Slug X) of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality means we can expect more of the same frenzied, cramp-inducing shooting action we’ve come to expect from the series.

Gamespot have a dozen or so pictures of the title running including one image showing the player select screen featuring Ralf and Clark from SNKs King of Fighter games. I guess it makes sense that these self-styled ‘nam veterans should appear in Metal Slug games. It appears that even some of their signature fighting moves will be available in the game too.

It does still make me wonder what’s happened to the PS2 version of the game that was going to be presented in 3D-o-vision.

A change of pace now.

For some inexplicable reason I decided to fire up the original PlayStation 2 version of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Don’t ask me why, I can’t tell you. What struck me was just how well produced this game was when compared to it’s sequel. Warrior Within seems dirty by comparison.

One thing that really stands out is the way the game succeeds in having the well-spoken Prince telling you the story by way of voiceover. I particularly like the post save statement of “Very well, I shall continue the story from here in the future”. It’s all very evocative and suited the atmosphere and setting of the game perfectly.

From playing PoP I also realised that I actually like it when games give you a progress indicator. Games are huge these days, even the simpler ones tied into the latest Pixar movie. Having an idea of just how much of a time commitment you’re expected to pledge can make a difference to my opinion of the game. Few games seem to do this (which is why it stuck out when PoP did). Now that I think about it, games like Burnout 3 and SSX3 give a progress meter. Obviously, some games don’t need it (Tetris), some games are deliberately open-ended (Sim City) and others have you collecting X amount of items or going on Z number of dungeons which mean the player can determine their own progress. I know that there’s many a game that I’ve played almost begrudgingly just to get it finished. It felt more like work than fun sometimes.

Depending on the time I have available later today I’ll be making a long post about the X360 and some information I have on it that, to me, is a hundred times more appealing than anything about it’s silicon. I’m really liking Microsoft’s attitude to gaming right now.

God of Sequels

My fondness for God of War is well-known. I played and evangelised the US version on release. I can’t recall the last time I was so unexpectedly delighted by a gaming experience. Perhaps when I played Contra 3 on the Super Famicom or One on PlayStation.

For those of you that have played (and no doubt enjoyed) the game and watched some of the unlockable extras you’ll be delighted to know that there are two sequels rumoured to have been green-lighted by SCEA. Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine suggest that a 2006 release of God of War 2 on PlayStation 2 and then God of War 3 for PlayStation 3 are likely future hack-fests.

Will Kratos’ brother feature? Will the games have more interesting titles? Will Sony bother to market them properly this time? Who can say.

One thing that seems certain for next-gen gaming is the “cast of thousands” style game. Hundreds of characters on screen at once – that sort of thing. Personally, I’m not to interested in that. It seems like more of a programmer’s wet-dream than a gamer’s delight.. ..but if I could hack through all those entities with some satisfying chain-blade action? NOW you’re talking!

Oh, in other news:

Hell yeah!