Rebecca Mayes and The Epic Win

26 08 2010

This is my new favourite song. My new favourite song, otherwise known as my most current favourite song, usually only lasts as long as until I hear something new from one of my favourite bands, but this is slightly different. This is really like nothing I’ve heard before, in so many weird and wonderful ways. This is a beautiful musical representation of modern gaming classic Mass Effect 2 that’s just as haunting and makes almost as big an impression as the game itself (along with a saccharine-sweet DIY indie video). This is Rebecca Mayes, and she’s brilliant.Vodpod videos no longer available. 

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While we’re on the subject of Freddie Wong (flying iPhone 4)

13 08 2010

There’s no special effects or trickery involved here, just the imagination of a group of friends turning up something really quite beautiful, out of the most insignificantly simple idea. It’s kind of like American Beauty, but without the pretension of suggesting a plastic carrier bag is ‘dancing’. No, instead Freddie and co have sent an iPhone 4 aloft attached to a load of helium balloons, and filmed it, filming them, filming it. It’s also kind of brave, because iPhone 4s are  rather expensive – I’m sure this wasn’t exactly what Steve Jobs had in mind for the new unit. I bet they’re not getting any hand-over-the-aerial signal issues up there, though…

Freddie Wong, you wonderful lunatic (live-action Time Crisis short film)

13 08 2010

If you’re not aware of the work of Freddie Wong, I’ll sum it up for you: he makes video shorts with awesome special effects. Perhaps more importantly though, he’s a massive geek and often uses games as his muse. Oh, and he has a wicked sense of humour, but his homages are never mocking, more gentle fun-poking and in-jokes. OK, so that summation wasn’t that short, but then some of Freddie’s video ‘shorts’ aren’t that short either (see his Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Frozen Crossing pt. 1 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Frozen Crossing pt. 2 for evidence of that – they total over 16 minutes of action and gun play that wouldn’t look out of place on a high-budget series like 24).

I’m more interested in his homage to 1995 arcade classic Time Crisis though, the on-rails light gun shooter that revolutionised the genre with its high-quality scripted action sequences and foot-pedal cover system. I’m not sure whether Freddie’s latest creation has anything to do with the upcoming new Time Crisis title (Time Crisis: Razing Storm for PS3), but watch out for plenty of cute references to the original game (and to how we all used to play it): the players shooting off-screen to reload while in cover; agreeing to cover enemies on the left and right (but nobody covering the guy in the middle); the ridiculous hostages, and the better player getting annoyed with his comrade for not helping (highlighted by the old-school score sheet at the end); the unfair boss entry that results in someone getting killed and requiring another coin to re-join the game; and best of all, the way we all used to deal with the bosses – the old semi-automatic light gun finger trick, for when rapid-fire hits on a large target area, not accuracy and sharpshooting, are the order of the day. Kudos too goes to Freddie for getting a major star to be his P1, and it’s great to see Andy Whitfield (star of Spartacus) looking fit and well after being diagnosed with cancer (that interrupted filming of the next series of Spartacus). Enjoy!

Is it compatible? Will Microsoft Kinect work with my existing (read: old) XBOX 360?

10 08 2010

When people know (or find out) that you write about technology and gaming, you usually get asked the same stock questions: PC or Mac? 360 or Ps3? Is Final Fantasy VII the best game ever? More recently however I’ve been the repeated recipient of a new question – will Microsoft Kinect work with my existing (read: old) XBOX 360? The logical answer would seem to be ‘yes’ but Microsoft’s publicity machine haven’t been doing them any favours here. The television adverts for the new XBOX 360 proudly state “Ready for Kinect” (as the updated console spins like a sports car on a turntable in front of us) and that’s fine, but the way the advert is presented looks forward (obviously) and tells us nothing of our old workhorses. Will they allow us full motion control, or will they (as is Microsoft’s want) force us all to purchase new hardware, to swell their coffers and the world’s landfill sites?

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Celebrities who look like video game characters: Andy Garcia/Super Mario

19 07 2010

I’m not expecting this to be a particularly regular feature (because I honestly don’t think I’ll see another celebrity looking quite so foolish as Garcia and his moustache any time soon) but it certainly made me chuckle last night. He was on BBCs Top Gear as the ‘Star In A Reasonably Priced Car’ promoting his new movie City Island (which from the trailer looks almost as amusing as his ‘tache) and set a rather respectable time around Top Gear’s test track in the new Kia Ce’ed, with the real life Mario coming in third after a ginger wizard (Ron Weasly, I forget his real name) and a dragon (Peter Jones, the man foolish enough invest in Hamfatter).

Perhaps Garcia has been practising for his Top Gear appearance on Mario Kart Wii? Or maybe he’d observed that a Super Mario moustache worked for Nigel Mansell when he was a Formula 1 driver? Whatever the reason, more celebrities should look like video game characters, and for this Andy Garcia, we salute you!

Andy Garcia or Super Mario

This doesn't really need a caption, does it?

Busy, busy, busy

16 07 2010

I’ve been pretty busy over the past couple of months. I spent a long time (far too long to think about) recovering from foolish 26-mile endeavours on the streets of London, so I went on holiday, which was lovely. Upon coming back from holiday, I found that about everything at my day job that could go wrong, well, had, and somewhere in the middle I found time (I don’t know how) to do a couple more articles for PC Plus Magazine. They are:

  • A feature/guide on getting the best out of your mobile, including software, tips and tricks (with not all of them apps or requiring smartphones) for PC Plus issue 296
  • A technical feature/tutorial on self-hosting FTP, blogs and games using dynamic IP address updating software DynDNS, for PC Plus issue 297

Things have settled down a bit now thankfully, so I might actually get chance to do some writing – what a novelty!

Super Mario Galaxy 2 blasts off in 5 weeks!

6 05 2010

Super Mario Galaxy was a massive hit. We’re talking Quinine in Equatorial countries popular – it was that huge. And now they’re releasing a sequel – makes sense, right? That said, Nintendo have been slightly funny about their bread-and-butter Mario platform titles in recent years, having not released a direct sequel since Super Mario 64 back in 1996 (or depending on how you look at it, Super Mario World in 1991, which was followed by Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, a sequel by name but entirely different in style and gameplay) and it is with baited moustaches that we await this year’s proper sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2.

The 3D Super Mario platform efforts have all been wonderful in their own right, with 64, Sunshine and the original Galaxy all being massive commercial and critical successes, so Miyamoto and friends really have their work cut out. As it happens only releasing one title per generation of console seems like an excellent way to punctuate the series, allowing the gameplay to largely remain tinker-free (with the addition of some neat touches and added extras to bulk things up) but each new iteration to seem fresh and beautiful on a more powerful and capable nth-generation console. Sunshine was a great game in its own right, but if we’re being honest who wasn’t happy that they basically took the mechanics of 64, spruced up the textures and gave us a new world to have a crack at? Moreover, not only do they have their first same-console direct contest within the series for 14 years to contend with, it’s also following the hugely successful New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the game that reminded us all how wonderful the old days were in a way that was entirely genuine, without a hint of irony, fad or rose-tinted glasses. How do we think they’ll do?

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