30 June 2008

Ban Price Stickers, Now!

I'm really getting fed up with price stickers on DVDs, CDs and games. Half the time they're impossible to remove without leaving nasty, sticky marks on the cover. Second hand stores are worst of all, as they tend to use cheaper, poorer quality labels. Many new products are thankfully sold in wrappers, but not all.

The covers are an important part of the whole aesthetic experience of enjoying a movie, album or game. Leaving ugly stickers on the case is not an option. Having nasty marks left behind is a nightmare, and don't even get me started on stickiness.

How these things can be legal in the first place is beyond me. And I'm not joking or exaggerating here. I'm dead serious. What retailers are thinking when they're actively destroying the products they sell is also beyond me. It sure as hell doesn't show any respect for the customer.

Someone needs to make a stand here. Stores need to change their practises. After all, the case, with its artwork, liner notes etc., is one of the main reasons to actually go out and buy a product, instead of just downloading it.

27 June 2008

Shop Till You Drop

So I finally got the money for my last translation job on Wednesday. What do you do when you get you first paycheck in six months? Go on a shopping spree, of course.

I was primarily looking for second hand copies of arcade games for PlayStation (1 or 2). Namely fighters, but keeping an eye out for shmups (shoot 'em ups for you laymen). Why arcade games should be obvious to anyone who's been reading this blog in recent weeks. The only decent game I found in the end was The King of Fighters XI. There are a couple new real must games out now too, the PS2 port of Silent Hill: Origins and Metal Gear Solid 4. I figured I should be careful with my money and only get one of them for now, and was really torn between which one. In the end I got the Silent Hill, partly because it was the cheaper of the two, partly because I've been having an itching to play Silent Hill recently. But obviously I'll have to get MGS4 before too long. A new MGS game is always a major event, and I'm a big fan of the series.

As many people know, I'm a huge Silent Hill fan, so a new game in the series is obviously a must play. Origins was originally made for the PSP, which I don't own, so I was really happy to hear a PS2 port had been released. I'm not entirely without doubts about the game, though, mostly because it has been made by a Western team. This, to me, is tantamount to sacrilege. But I've got to try to put my prejudices aside for a while and give it a shot.

Of course I also got a few DVDs, including a Resident Evil Trilogy box and a couple of seasons of Battlestar Galactica. A lot of people don't appreciate the Resident Evil movies a lot, some because they're not really faithful to the game franchise, some because they're, well, gory zombie movies. But I absolutely love them and find them very entertaining.

And now I'm wondering what the purpose of this post was, exactly. I guess I'm basically just making a statement about who I am and the kind of things I enjoy.

23 June 2008

I Think I'll Have a Slice of Metatron Instead

I don't think I've mentioned Engrish.com in my blog. It's one of the few websites I check on an almost daily basis. The pictures posted are frequently hilarious, like today's God fillets.

I finally got around to testing the X-Arcade with two players. That's the trouble when your siblings have all grown up. There's never anyone around the house. I'm the oldest, but I guess I'm the only one whose idea of a good time is staying home and playing video games. Anyways, it's a whole lot of fun. Most arcade style games are at their best as multiplayer games. Although fighting games are my favourites of the arcade genre, because of their depth, I think I actually prefer co-operative games, like Metal Slug, when playing multiplayer. This is mostly because, no matter how much I love playing them, I generally suck big time at games which require skill and reflexes.

20 June 2008

Wishing You a Happy Solstice

Wow. I haven't blogged for a whole week. Well, here's another silly headline from BBC: "Key ocean mission goes into orbit". Ok, first thought, have they got their ups and downs slightly mixed up? Not much water up there in orbit, as far as I know. Ok, not the most clever joke of all times, I know. At least it's not news about violence in Zimbabwe, child-abusing cannibal cults and all that other stuff that just makes you want to crawl under your bed and not come out. Except, I've got my X-Arcade now, so there's no chance I'll do that anytime soon.

I'm spending a lazy Midsummer at home. It's raining. Wasted much of the past week playing arcade games, mostly shmups, and a bit of Tetris and Puzzle Bobble. I'm not a fan of puzzle games, really, but some are just too huge classics to disregard.

12 June 2008

Server and More X-Arcade

Update: BossBattle.net moved to a new server

Hopefully all has gone well, and the change should have no visible effect for readers. However, if weirdness should occur, blame the server change.

The X-Arcade is working out well. Haven't had a chance to play quite as much as I'd have liked (more out of my own laziness and inability to choose what I'd actually want to play than anything else), but the experiences have been pretty positive thus far. Except that connecting via USB seems to screw up my MacBook. CPU usage jumps through the roof, and it doesn't even stop when the X-Arcade is unplugged. I don't know what's going on there, it should be recognized as a regular keyboard. Works fine with my PlayStations, though, and I've got a PlayStation to USB adapter, so that way I'm able to use it with my Mac as well without much trouble.

EDIT: I found a workaround for the Mac issue. Seems it's an incompatibility problem that Mac OS X has with some USB devices. Removing a certain (unnecessary, as far as I can tell) mouse plugin seems to have fixed the issue. When in doubt, Google! Should have done that right at the start...

There also seems to be an issue with certain individual pieces of software, including DosBox and Emilia Pinball, that pretty much freezes the system if the controller is plugged in whilst starting the software. I think the problem is caused by the SDL library, but I can't be entirely sure about that. Anyway, this software too appears to work fine if the controller is plugged in when it's already running.


I'm already toying with the idea of replacing the buttons. Not that there's anything wrong with the standard Xgaming buttons (except one is a little bit stiffer than the others, but it's such a minor annoyance I'm in no hurry to do anything about it). However, there's always room for improvement. But that certainly wouldn't be happening in the very near future. It'd cost some, and I'm not particularly experienced with electronics either, so I'm a little nervous at the prospect. There shouldn't be any soldering or anything involved, but a lot of little fiddly bits to attach in the right places...

The probable choice would be the Happ Competition Pushbuttons. These have convex buttons, as opposed to the standard concave ones, which are supposed to have "greater accuracy and speed". This kind of design also seems to be more popular in Japan, and when it comes to video games, the Japanese are the ones to trust. Of course I'd love Japanese buttons, like Sanwa buttons to go with my Sanwa joysticks, but they seem to come in millimetre sizes, while Western buttons come in inch sizes, so I suspect they won't fit the X-Arcade. (If I ever were to build my own arcade controls, Sanwa would probably be pretty high on the list.)

9 June 2008

Happy Birthday Me

My X-Arcade finally arrived just a few moments ago. It was a long enough wait. I was originally hoping for it to arrive for my birthday, since it was really a birthday present (in part at least). But I'm so happy to finally have it before my eyes that all delays and anxiety is forgotten.

For anyone wondering, it's an arcade style game controller, one of the most famous. With an arcade style game controller, I mean it has been built from parts (i.e. buttons and joysticks) identical to those used in actual machines in video game arcades. In theory this should mean two things. First, it should be ideal for games that were originally created for arcades, such as fighting games. Second, the parts should be very durable, and replaceable if they should wear out.

I've had time to unpack it, and it looks, well, incredibly cool is an understatement. It's a two player version (a whopping 60 cm wide), which has been modified with Sanwa joysticks, supposed to be among the best. I don't have much experience with arcade joysticks, but at the very least I think the slightly retro red ball top look is a lot cooler than the basic black bat top version.

No, I haven't had a chance to test it yet. I'm almost afraid to. I've been waiting to try a controller like this for so long, now that I have it in front of me, I'm kind of awestruck. It looks so cool, maybe I could just admire it for the rest of my life.

6 June 2008

The Essence of Impatience Pt 2

Well, the status of the delivery hasn't in fact changed since yesterday. So I'm kind of guessing, or hoping at least, that it's only the last recorded event, rather than the current location. It would seem weird that a parcel carried by a big company like DHL would stand still in a little English village for two working days running. Well, I don't have much experience with international shipments, so I can't really know. Maybe it's in a lorry somewhere in Europe, racing towards me... I hope so, because the alternative wouldn't be saying much about DHL's effectiveness. (Gremlin Solutions' website says deliveries to Europe should take 3-5 days. So there's still time...)

5 June 2008

The Essence of Impatience

It doesn't look like the X-Arcade will make it here by Friday. According to DHL's shipment tracker, it's currently at a terminal in a place called London Colney. The status has remained the same for most of the afternoon. Wikipedia says London Colney is a village in Hertfordshire, north of London. It also notes that London Colney has a large number of pubs compared with its relatively small size. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that my shipment appears to be standing still there? "Short cuts may make delays, but inns make longer ones."

Pity. I would have loved to have had it for the weekend. I don't have anything else planned. Which means I will likely spend the weekend just relaxing, which is fine. It's too hot right now to really do anything smart anyway. (And it hasn't even reached 25°C yet! I'm getting really intolerant of heat these days, it seems.) Of course, I've been waiting for this so long a couple more days really don't, or shouldn't, count for much. Still, I can't help that my impatience just keeps growing day by day and I'm at loss as to what to do with myself in the meanwhile.

4 June 2008

Progress

I finally got confirmation that my X-Arcade has shipped. This makes me happy. Now I'm just waiting to get to try it. Funny thing is, I don't remember if I've ever played a game, in a video game arcade, with these kind of controls. I never hung out much in arcades as a kid. Never really had money for it in the first place (when I did spend a few coins on games, it was mainly pinball). There was a time in my late teens (or early 20s even) when I frequented a local arcade with some school friends, but we mostly played air hockey. And occasionally pinball.

I hadn't yet acquired a taste for arcade video games back then. By the time I had, the video game arcades had pretty much vanished from the scene, apart from a few single machines at movie theaters and such. And I still rarely have coins to spare.

I also just finished translating a new book today. Which means I should be getting a bit of money soon. This also makes me happy. I've been translating drawing guides by Chris Hart into Finnish for about a year and a half now. Mostly they're manga drawing guides, but also one about dragons and one about fairies. (Which, personally, I think were the most interesting. The manga ones are targeted at a pretty specific audience.)

They're only small jobs, a week or two per book, and I only do them once every few months. But still, I love getting a bit of money now and then. Its these translation jobs that allowed me to get my MacBook, new telly, PS3, and even the X-Arcade. They certainly wouldn't be enough to support living on my own, not even enough to really be worth saving up for such a time. Anyways, my hobbies and passions are really important to me. I couldn't survive without them, and are worth blowing all my money on.

I should perhaps mention that, while I love manga and other comics, I don't draw myself. I was interested in it for a while, but soon discovered I had no natural talent for it, nor the patience to learn it.

2 June 2008

In Memoriam: Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley has passed away at the age of 79. He was one of the first great rock'n'roll artists, alongside people like Chuck Berry, who formed a new sound that wasn't quite blues and wasn't quite the cleaner white rock'n'roll. They gave the developing new music the rougher edge it needed to really, well, rock us.

Bo Diddley is one of those artists that I love and respect, but have never quite gotten around to listen to enough. I don't really know why that is. Even so, Bo Diddley was one of my favourite songs as a teenager and I was often playing it in those first years when I was learning to play guitar. It's still one of the best guitar riffs ever, in all its simplicity

The people who created rock'n'roll are a dying breed. I was lucky enough to see Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry in joint concert about a decade ago. And they still rocked an arena full of people. So catch the ones that remain, while you still can!

1 June 2008

Another Bit of Random Silliness, and Not so Silliness

Another title on the BBC news website. 'Is it time to reconsider GM food?'

Yes, definitely. Feed us poor GMs. We'll be much happier and have more energy for running games.

I've got a headache. I don't like it. And I've been stuffing myself all weekend with cake, crisps, chocolate and pork, and not feeling any better for it. Now I just want to get a nice cuppa and sit with my eyes closed for a moment, possibly whilst listening to some melancholy music. I like melancholy. Melancholy is nice. Not quite sad, certainly not depressing, just... beautiful, and just right for those moments when you don't have the energy to be peppy and cheerful.