My New Video Games Console

1 03 2017

My PS3 (and GameCube)

From a very young age, I have enjoyed playing Video Games; it’s something I consider a strong hobby of mine and is something I like to do to enjoy and in more recent memory, to allow myself to mellow out after a hard time. I enjoy playing games by myself and with friends and family and over my lifetime I have played on a number of games consoles from the Sega Mega Drive, to the PlayStation 3; and have fond memories of playing games like RollerCoaster Tycoon and more recently Dishonored. I like video games but recently however, playing video games has been something of a struggle for me. The reason for this is that though while I still continue to enjoy them; currently I cannot really play anything that comes out as new as I am not really able to play them:

  • My Laptop is relatively under powered and can only play games with simple graphics.
  • I do have a more powerful PC, but it’s out of wireless signal range and I am unable to install anything onto it.
  • The GameCube is still working well, but nothing gets made for it anymore.
  • The Wii is ok, but right now is only worthwhile for playing with other people; not by myself.
  • The 3DS is fun, but there’s not really much out that I genuinely want to play on it.
  • The PS3 is able to play a lot of games, but as the console is now out of date, I cannot play anything new on it.

My gaming experience at the moment is still somewhat fun, but as new stuff comes out; without a valid platform to play on, I am getting ever more behind with releases and it is just getting me down.

dishonored-2

Fortunately though, I have been thinking a lot about this issue however. I have looked into a new PC, but realize that in terms of getting one it may be best to leave it. It will be a hard struggle, but it does allow me the opportunity to consider when one day I have the money to spend on a new machine, plus my own place to sort out how/where I would like one placing, I can then have a good go at building/buying a dream machine. In the meantime however, I have decided to buy a new home video games console. Something that I could own in which when new games are released that I want to play, I can just simply buy them and play them. Buying a new console is actually a rather fun experience, as the prospect of doing so simply gets me excited even when there are still a few days away before I actually get my hands on it. It’s like when someone on Gold Rush gets a new wash plant; these great big machines that get the gold out of the dirt, it’s a big moment, and right now, getting my new console, setting it up and playing on it; it’s like I am buying my own wash plant. But which Wash Plant should I buy though, that’s the real question?

There are several major home consoles on the market currently such as the Xbox One and the PS4. Choosing which one to buy is a hard process, as machines do cost quite a bit of money and as I don’t earn all that much at the moment, I need to be sure and positive that what I buy is definitely what I want right now. There is no reason why I could not have more than one, but like I said it costs money, and so right here and right now is what is more important, as if it comes to a time where I would like another to play on one, that bridge can be crossed when we come to it.

horizon-zero-dawn

Choosing which one was always going to be tricky, but I instantly knew that I did not want an Xbox. I have never really been a fan of it, I once thought about getting a Xbox 360, but as the PS3 had games on it that I wanted to play more than there were on the 360; I went with the PS3. The Xbox machine to me as always looked more like a glorified set-top box than a games console. I am buying the machine to play games on it, not to have access to other features which should not be the main feature of a video games console. This way of thinking though should not necessarily be the only reason to base your decision on. As a video games console is designed to play video games primarily (much like a wash plant is designed to retrieve gold, not necessarily to watch TV on it), you should make sure that the console is capable of playing the video games that you want to play. So choosing the PS4 over the Xbox One was a done deal as the PS4 has a list of games on it that include Horizon Zero Dawn and (eventually) Detroit: Become Human as well as other games I really want to play too like Dishonored 2. The Xbox One does not really carry anything that really jumps to my mind. So from reading that you must think I will soon be purchasing a brand new PS4 right? Wrong!

You see, those two are not the only major home consoles available for purchase right now. Back in October, another video game console was revealed to the public after over a year of speculation as to what it would be: the console formerly known as the NX was revealed by its creators Nintendo to be called the Switch. From the moment I first watched the trailer, I was really interested in the new console. I have been a fan of Nintendo for years, and have owned a few of their consoles, so a first reveal of a new console was always going to be exciting, but looking at some of the features of the Switch made it more of a contender than simply who was making it. One thing that I have grown tired of with other video games consoles is that of online multiplayer. My experience of online multiplayer has been harsh with very few fun memories. Some happy gaming memories do include Mario Kart Wii, Bomberman Blast, ModNation Racers and of course MAG, but overall my enjoyment of online console gaming has been mostly negative, even when playing games like Modern Warfare 2. What I do enjoy though is playing with family and friends, something which I have been able to do online on Steam with my brother, but also round a TV screen too having played games on the Wii. With a new home console; I would much rather prefer to play with family and friends round a TV screen, rather than play with anyone (not including family and friends), which has the potential to lead to a bad experience; although on the other hand could also lead to a positive experience. Given though that I knew what I wanted first and foremost, I went with that. The Switch spoke to me with its use of having one controller being split between two people, meaning that as soon as I get it, I don’t need to buy another controller, as I will already have one. Playing round a TV and not necessarily online can also lead to fond memories and experiences. I remember fondly playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl with a group of friends in Middlesbrough one December and really enjoying the player interaction as well as the fun of them being in the room, providing a core social interaction. Playing games online with just me in the room does not provide the same experience.

MAG Title

When it came to making the actual decision though, it really came down to games. I have pretty much been hanging around with this decision for a while with not being able to make a sound decision, until I realized that the Switch has more games on it that I want to play either soon or right now than on the PS3. While Horizon Zero Dawn was just about to be released, there was very much of anything else on the PS4 that I was actually desperate to play; the only one in question being Dishonored 2; while the Switch looks set to have a good range of games available soon, including some good-looking multiplayer in the form of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at the end of April. Upon this realization, I made my choice, and within a couple of days I pre-ordered myself a Switch.

It’s a bit nerve-wracking ordering a new console when it has not been released yet, but also exciting too. I am really looking forward to getting my new Switch and trying it out. I don’t know what it’s going to be like or is going to do, but I am genuinely excited about getting a new games console. This does not necessarily prohibit me from getting a new PC or PS4 in the future; but it does mean that for now when something does gets released for the Switch I can at least play it and won’t have to worry about whether or not I will be able to play it or not. So like how a new Wash Plant works better at retrieving Gold, my new Switch I am sure will work well at providing me with lots of new and lasting enjoyment.

nintendo-switch

GENEPOOL (I may have gone overboard with the wash plant references).

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The Day The Waters Went Up And The Lights Went Down

30 11 2016

skerton-bridge

When I was at school learning Geography; the one thing I would constantly hear from all the teachers, is that the first thing you need in order to start a settlement is the close proximity of water. That is a pretty obvious resource, as though while other necessities are also required; without access to water, your little settlement is not necessarily going to last all that long. One thing though my mind ponders after the events of last year though is that; when a settlement does start-up, do they ever consider how dangerous that water source could potentially be? Much like other cities/towns/villagers around the world, Lancaster has a river. Some of the other locations of the world might have small streams, or big wide rivers; Lancaster sort of has a large wide channel for water but normally, if you were to stand on one of the bridges in Lancaster, you would see that the River Lune appears to be pretty small and shallow. It runs through the centre of Lancaster in a wide trench and pretty deep trench; but normally does not even cover the entire patch of land at the bottom. When it does get high really does depend on whether there is an equinox or if there is plenty of rain to feed it, in which case the river can be nearly lapping the street level of St George’s Quay, which is the lowest road next to the river. St George’s Quay itself has been known to struggle with the flooding at times and over the last several decades, numerous plans were drawn up to try and prevent too much, including raising the road, to building the now erected wall along the river. Even when the river is high, if you go stand on Skerton Bridge, it does not look too bad. It can be deep and the channel is wide, but only really looks high if it gets to the Quay. That all changed on December 5th 2015.

River Lune Flood 5

It was a pretty normal Saturday. It was late in the year, and I had spent the day as normal, sitting behind my Laptop on the table. My head was spinning and judging whether or not I should go and see the film Krampus having seen the trailer a few times and my parents were discussing going somewhere. I think my Dad was supposed to be preaching away, I can’t remember where and I think my Mam was debating whether or not to go with him. Sometime later, my Mam was reading off her kindle, and saw a report announcing road closures, and that there was some flooding around the River Lune. Getting a little interested by this I decided to go out and have a look. The night was pretty dark by this time, it was early December, and I had no idea what I was going to see. I just thought the river would be higher than normal, nothing else. Skerton Bridge is no more than maybe 5 minutes’ walk from my house. I walk the same route every Sunday on my way to church which is less than a few seconds away from the north bank of the Lune. When I arrived I walked onto the bridge, and was amazed at what I saw. Now I was not wearing my glasses that day, I don’t require wearing them all the time but they do help. I walked onto the bridge, and looked down on it. I knew it could be high, but I wasn’t expecting the river to be wider too.

River Lune Flood 1

The river was literally bursting its banks, on both sides. On the north side bank, there is a little hill edged into the left hand side of the bridge. It’s a steady hill which allows people the use of a small tunnel under the bridge, allowing them to cross over to the other side without running through moving traffic. Well; the tunnel had water in it. The whole bank in that area was water-logged and level with the river. I have never seen that before. I heard it may have happened once, when I was perhaps 5 years old, I was now beyond my mid-twenties. The bridge was still accessible, but nearly jammed up with traffic. As I continued to walk across the bridge in awe at what I was observing, I saw that the bank on the other side, which is flat and is something of cycle path, that too had water on it, to the same level as the river. It was the same on the other side of the bridge. The little park near Sainsbury’s feeling a patch of water, submerging pathways. I quickly went back home, before popping immediately out again, with my Mam and my Camera. The dark sky did not help me much in taking pictures, but I got some though. Then, I went over to the Millennium Bridge. The Millennium Bridge is a small footbridge which connects the end of Lune Street with the top of the Quay. Knowing how high the river usually got around the Quay, I wanted to go see. I was right, the river was high there too, but more than I thought. I walked across, and could see swells, little whirlpool like effects near the bridge supports building and turning, and on the dip with the Quay side bridge entrance, I could see the river, nearly within finger reach of the bridge’s lowest pathway dip. It was amazing to see, I took photos and a couple of videos that night, though only one video really worked.

That night was something of a mini adventure for me. It was amazing to see the river like that. To see it not just high but bursting its banks. But what happened next was completely unexpected. I was upstairs watching TV when the lights and power went out. A few seconds later they came back on again without a hitch, but then a little while later, they went out again, but like before returned to full power within seconds. The evening was without hitch for maybe an hour or so more, and then they went out again, and they stayed out. My room was dark upstairs, I could not see a thing, and the only light source was a palaver lamp a friend got me for Christmas a year before (just shake it and it lights up). I looked outside onto the street. It wasn’t just our house, the whole street was gone, even the BP Garage was unlit (although one house across the road had Christmas lights lit up and working?). I cautiously and slowly worked my way downstairs, using the palaver lamp as my only torch. When I got downstairs, there was little light other than a few torches lighting the dining room. I went to bed soon after, but being the kind of guy who still needs something of a night-light to sleep, the darkness was hard to sleep in. It was not just a little dark, it was very dark. I was relying on a wind up torch to give me some help, but as I had images from the Krampus trailer in my head, it was hard not to spook myself out, but I still managed to eventually get to sleep.

Krampus (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

The following morning I awoke, needing to grab my bearings, and remember the previous night. I tried the lamp on my bedside table, nothing happened. Expecting the power to have returned during the night, I discovered it was still off. I got up and proceeded downstairs to see what was going on. The power was still turned off, with only battery operated equipment running. But with no power, there was very little information as to what was going on. We were still able to eat some breakfast, before heading out to church. We walked down the street; some roads were covered in water, it was not the case of water coming over the lips of the hills in the area, it was more the case of the sewers overflowing and simply coming up out of the wells in the streets. When we reached the bridge, we discovered two shocks; firstly, the river was still high. I took another video, surprised to see it still high, and it was flowing strong and fast. I have never seen it do that before. It was like a large open air sewer, carrying out everything it could out to sea, in a desperate attempt to keep the balance. That was the first shock. The other was that the bridge was closed. Somehow, as reports suggested, as the winds picked up, a container had blown into the river and hit the only two road bridges in the city. Both Skerton Bridge the Greyhound Bridge and even the Millennium Bridge were inaccessible.

We still went to church and had something of a bible study/prayer meeting, as there was only a few of us. Many people who come to our church were situated on the other side of the river. The only person to come from that side, did so by parking her car next to Carlisle Bridge, then walk across the very tall bridge that it is, and then all the way to church. It was at church though that we finally got some news regarding current issues. Firstly the lack of power was due to the substation flooding. Reports were stating that it should be back on by: Tuesday morning or evening. We also heard about some of the more serious damage caused by the river, as two people attending church at the time, living not far from us, had their house flooded overnight in a big way. Our little meeting adjourned, we went home, with the two people flooded in tow as my Mam made them some Cheese Sandwiches. Mam was pretty skillful with the beef roast bought at Sainsbury’s the previous night as she was able to have some use of the cooker and made some steaks for us to eat too. As the day went on, it became something of a more mundane and quieter Sunday than usual. Without my usual access to my Laptop or Games, I watched Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal on a portable DVD Player until it ran out of power. Mam and I sat in her Fiat Panda for a little bit to listen to The Bay radio in an attempt to find out some news, but the two clowns on the radio weren’t really all that helpful. Instead of presenting helpful and emergency news, they just sort of did a program like BBC Breakfast, getting other views of other people rather than provide the news that was really desired and needed. As evening drew in, the garage across the road opened a small hatch so some people could buy batteries and bits, so I popped across later in the afternoon to get some batteries to power lights and the radio. Apart from that, my Dad sat down with a book, and we all found ways to ride it through.

Sleeping Queens Kings and Queens

Later on I popped out for a little walk, and my senses and caution were tested as I experienced first-hand, what lack of power meant for the neighborhood on a winter’s day. I popped out with my Camera, and the night was beginning to draw in. I could still see some daylight, but it faded fast. I walked down Aldren’s lane, and saw first-hand how bad the flooding got in that area. The water may had gone, but silt remained, you could see though the patch of the wall where it had come through though, revealing a small channel where it could seep through with nothing to stop it. You could even see the level of how far inland the river got, and how high up the buildings it went, as the dark impression was still on the bricks. The whole area must have been like a mini boating pond, and a lot of silt remained on the path and road. I walked on a little bit, and got feelings and reminders of the film I Am Legend, with the dark night coming in, and houses blanketed without power. I decided to return home before it got too dark. By the time I was within reach of home, it was utter black. Not far from my home there is Ryelands Park, lit up by street lights and piercing lights of the city behind. Across the road there is of course the BP garage, and opposite to there is the once great, now nearly non-existent Skerton High School. Even on a dark winter night, you can see things. There is plenty of lighting from near and afar to light up the area. Well, on this Sunday night, none of these could be seen. I could not see the school, I could not see the faint outline of the city or Castle, I could barely see a tree in the park. In a small open space the only light being produced was from that house’s Christmas decorations, and the cars driving by, judging when it was safe to turn at a spot that once had working traffic lights. The evening was not too bad though, my Mam and Brother played some card games with me for an hour. We played Sleeping Queens and Straw, both fun games. My Dad read his book using a book mark light, and while it was cold due to the lack of heating, we still had an OK night. But like the night before, we went to bed a lot earlier than we usually do. Once again, it was dark and spooky, and getting to sleep was hard, but I managed it in the end. To be honest by this time I was feeling excited and was really enjoying some of the more social and quiet aspects of all this, and was looking forward to another quiet day.

River Lune Flood 2

The following day I woke up and tried the light; power was back on. I went downstairs and could see my Mam running around, while my Dad was busy phoning church members to see if they were ok, all the while the TV was on with News as to what was happening with the power. It was both great to see the power was back on, but also sad as it meant I had to go back to my daily routine at the time of having to do 35 hours of job searching, just to receive a tiny supply of money from Universal Credit. Anyway, I allowed myself some time to treat myself. I told everybody on Facebook I was OK with a post, and then to celebrate the return of Electricity, I chose an aptly named song to post on Facebook: The Power by Snap! I also spent some time texting and emailing others just to see if they were ok and let them know that I was ok. I also uploaded my photos and videos onto YouTube and Facebook too.

So life returned to normal? Sort of… Basically, both road bridges and Millennium Bridge were still unopened, and would remain that way until Tuesday. Well they were claiming that they wanted to make sure they were safe after the container collision. So could not really go into town unless I went the long way round, but I stayed in home to do my job search, while also making sure I put my 3DS and the portable DVD player on charge along with a few other pieces of electrical equipment just in case. It turns out that that was a good idea, as though while there was now power, it was announced that they would be turned off again later, which it was. I was able to continue doing stuff on my Laptop now it had some charge in it, but in the end, it was back to doing the other activities of being without power that I had acclimatized myself to doing the last few days: watching Going Postal and playing on the 3DS, until the batteries went out. From Tuesday onwards, it was pretty much back to normal, there were still feelings and rumours of losing power again, while the news debated the real cost and talked about the stronger tragedies of the incident: people losing their homes, possessions, road closures, broken roads and railway bridges. The news was awash with such things, while other people talked about their experiences and also rumours of more power losses to come, but did not happen, although some had to rely on generators for a while, many of which were in large areas for a week or two afterwards, not to mention the roads that needed mending, and the train bridges that needed rebuilding. But for most of us, life returned to normal. I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday, was at Barnardo’s volunteering that afternoon, and on Wednesday was attending a Christmas Party at UCLan.

River Lune Flood 4

The whole event for me personally was a weird one. At first it was surprising and something awe-inspiring; looking at what was usually a docile river turning into the controlling factor of a weekend. Losing power and taking the things in my life for granted, as though while they came back, they were gone, and I had to find other ways to use up my time, to the re-established joy of spending time with my family joy such an event could bring. A river becoming a torrent, several days without basic luxuries, being apart from many, not knowing if they were ok…or if they had knowledge of what was going on here – or if I was in it? Altogether, this event created an aftermath that would see general life return to normal, but creating a shaken experience as now I could really see the raw power of nature and what power and destruction my usually docile home town river was capable of.

River Lune Flood 3

GENEPOOL (One thing I wish I had done though was find a way into town during the night, just to experience how dark it must have been).





ME3

13 07 2016

E3 Logo

“On my business card, I’m a Corporate President. In my mind, I’m a Game Developer. But in my heart, I am a Gamer”

Satoru Iwata.

It’s one of the biggest events of the year on the video gaming calendar. Many people travel many hundreds if not thousands of miles to be a part of it, and witness the colossal event that is simply known as E3. Every year the Los Angeles Convention Center becomes a hot bed for video game companies, developers, websites, magazines, fans and corporate personal all traveling in from all corners of the earth to discover and show off what they see and believe to be the next step and future of Video Gaming. Since the first Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in 1995, E3 has grown to become the major event that it is today, and is synonymous with all the above. Say the name E3 to any video game fan, and they will instantly know what you are talking about. It has become the location and event where some of the biggest moments and announcements in the history of Video Games have come to pass, from the reveals of new consoles, to the launch sites of new games and content. If you want to know what the next big thing in gaming is, there is a good shot that the ideal time and place of where to at least find a hint, is none other than E3.

E3 Expo

Over 10 years ago, I got my first taster and understanding of E3 from the magazines I read at the time. The main magazine I had access to was CUBE Magazine. CUBE, was entirely dedicated to Nintendo Games, and every year like all other major video game magazines, they would include a spread on what happened at E3. As the years went by and as magazines such as CUBE disappeared, my knowledge and desire to keep up to date with the events of E3 continued, and eventually I would look into topics and details on my own. Being a kid with little pocket money it was never really going to be the case that I would get to go to E3 but the dream was there, that must count for something. I was a dedicated follower of E3, and loved to watch the Press Conferences, in fact, that became a staple viewing of mine every May-July (whenever it was on). But slowly over time, I just sort of stopped looking into E3. I had no more magazines to look at, and as my interest in most current video gaming sort of side-lined, I just completely forgot about E3. Recently of course E3 returned, and all the news pouring in brought it all running back to me. I did not watch any of the press conferences, but I did feel a run of nostalgia, and thought I would write a post on me and E3 (or rather corny: ME3).

GameCube

Back at the dawn of the Millennium, I did not really have much in the way as a gamer other than a Game Boy Pocket (which was actually a replacement as the much bigger Yellow Game Boy was stolen). A few months later though that changed with my first real home games console (rather than a hand-held), that in the form of a Nintendo 64. I had a lot of fun playing on that machine, playing on games like Goldeneye 007, F-Zero X and Pokémon Stadium. A few years later I received a Nintendo GameCube for Christmas, and I still have it. It still works brilliantly and I still have many of the games I used to play on it originally such as Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, James Bond 007: Nightfire, and my all time (GC) favourite; F-Zero GX. It was at this time I started getting CUBE magazine and first heard about E3. Originally I thought nothing of it; that was until about 2005. CUBE used to supply little GC sized discs with their magazines. These had two format’s, one they could be used for game cheat codes for the Game Cube, while the other disc was a DVD’s showing off trailers for upcoming games as well as sales ads for Action Replay. Anyway, in 2005 on of the DVD’s I got included video footage of Nintendo’s E3 conference for that year. It was not the best quality I have to admit, but it certainly was entertaining. It was my first real taste of E3, and would develop into me wanting more. I can remember it quite fondly, it had appearances from future regular Reggie Fils-Aime, it talked about games such as Nintendogs and Electroplankton, it revealed details of the Game Boy Micro and even featured appearances from both Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata. Mr Iwata’s appearance though gave me one of the most memorable moments of E3 to date. Mr. Iwata stood up on stage and took out of his pocket a small black box; a small black box that would become a main feature of a great many homes worldwide in just a few years.

At the time it was called the Nintendo Revolution; but in just a year’s time at the next E3, it would become known as the Nintendo Wii. The reaction from the audience, plus the way it was revealed remains for me one of the truly great moments in E3’s history. It would not be until E3 2006 that things would really take off. For the most part, E3 and I was all Nintendo. I had a Nintendo console and read the appropriate magazines. For me and gaming at the time, it was either Nintendo or PC. So for the first few years, me and E3 was all about Nintendo. As I was not able to physically attend, most of the news and E3 experience I got came down to watching the press conferences, but I didn’t mind, the Press conferences for me then and since have always been the highlight, and even when I would look at other companies Press conferences, for me Nintendo’s was always the highlight. My E3 experience took off a little more in 2006 at, well; Guess Who’s Press conference. I received a sort of cut and trimmed DVD presentation copy off Official Nintendo Magazine (no more CUBE, they just stopped producing, no farewell, no nothing). The show was no more than about 10 minutes long but still opened with Reggie, and featured appearances from Miyamoto and Iwata as well as a few others. It would not be until the personal discovery of YouTube and still a few years before I would get a good watch of it. For me, the 2006 conference remains (possibly) my favourite. It’s been a while since I watched it fully, but the things I do remember I do fondly. The stage, the opening doors, choices of music, the reveals of games and hardware as well as the important discussion notes regarding the main star: The Wii. For me though, the major thing I remember most is the opening. Miyamoto dressed like a conductor, brandishing a Wii controller and directing a digital orchestra. This was followed by some more music and on stage demos by a couple of guys (probably display models from The Price is Right), presenting live play footage of two of the consoles early and premium titles: Red Steel and Excite Truck; such an awesome sight.

As you can probably tell, by now I was a committed fan of E3 for several years, especially for Nintendo. The following year in 2007, I was able to watch the conference properly on a laptop, not a live stream of Nintendo’s conference, but a pre-recorded one. It was still a big one, with the main topic being the Wii’s success and the show talked in detail about new exciting games such as Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit. From 2007 onwards, I became a fan of a TV show on the now deceased UK channel Bravo called Gamer.TV. Gamer.TV, or simply Gamer TV to me, gave me a route into the rest of E3.

Reggie Fils-Aimé

In 2008, what should have been yet another great year for Nintendo at E3 was sort of ruined. It was not a good presentation, it was very low-key and was blotted by a new presenter, that of Cammie Dunaway. Reggie had always been the main presenter for Nintendo at E3, but in 2008 for some reason he was sort of replaced by Dunaway. Now no offence intended to somebody who is supposedly a corporate whizz, but in Gaming terms, and especially E3 terms, Dunaway was not a good presenter. She presented herself as something of a Mum like character, spent a lot of time bending over backwards and her suit was just flying all over the place. She was very distracting. There are many people on a corporate level who have presented at E3 in the past, many of whom could be considered not just good but naturally gifted presenters. Some on a corporate professional level such as Reggie, Iwata, Jack Tretton, Peter Moore, Phil Harrison and Kazuo Hirai are able to present in a very methodical, understandable yet also very entertaining way. After that you also have characters like Kevin Butler and Tim Schafer, maybe not a corporate presenter, but generally as good as the above if not better. In comparison Dunaway was just annoying. If it was not in a video game context I bet she is pretty good as a presenter, but in this instance, she was just really bad. It put a sour note on the year. Thanks to Gamer TV though, I got my first proper taste of the Competitions presentations. Don’t remember much about Microsoft at E3 in 2008, but, Sony put on an incredible show and revealed exciting new games presenting them in trailers. Games of memorable note include both God of War 3 and of course, MAG.

From 2009 onwards it was a big change for E3 and me. From this point forward, I decided to watch the other press conferences too not just Nintendo. Well, what I actually mean is that I also watched Sony ad Microsoft as well as Nintendo, as for anyone else I just gave those a miss. 2009 saw some improvements from Nintendo, yes Dunaway was till presenting, but her presentation style was updated and improved. The stage was very small and surrounded by Televisions, but it was still a major improvement. The first one I watched though was Microsoft. Big announcements and some games but overall (and setting the mood quite well for themselves for the next several years) it was like some kind of ‘coffee klatch’ presentation with a 5 minute break in between each section. It did however present a memorable moment when a producer from Harmonix danced away on Dance Central. I think Sony’s was generally alright, I just don’t remember all that much about it.

Then the years went on from there really. Nintendo improved gradually from their 2008 shambles; revealing details about new big games, and of course details and presentations of the Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft did not improve at all, except to allow Tim Schafer to have a spot for one of his games; and continue to prove my theory that the X-Box is nothing more than a glorified set-top box, While Sony began to show off how much of a powerhouse they truly were. Sony really began to shine for me, and their presentation style really began to glow, especially in 2010, with a much longer press conference than the other 2 and the introduction and constant inclusion of Kevin Butler, as well as an awesome trailer for Twisted Metal. And from there, E3 for me just kept on keeping on. I did take an occasional look at other press conferences, Ubisoft once stood out for me with their reveal of Far Cry 3.

So what happened, how did an annual event that was just as important to me as it was for others suddenly not have a place in me anymore? I don’t actually know is the short answer, but I bet I got a pretty good clue. The year was 2012, and after waiting a considerable length of time, the 2 games I bought in 2012 that were actually brand new were finally released, Twisted Metal and Far Cry 3. In 2013, I bought another game I had been looking forward too, a bit too long for actually; Beyond: Two Souls, which was released at the very end of the year. I don’t think I actually watched anything of the 2013 press conferences, I think the last time I took any attention to E3 was with the announcement of the Wii U. What happened? I just lost a little interest in games, as the times were moving on, and some of the stuff at the time did not apply to me. In 2012 I got back into books and started playing Board Games more frequently. I guess it was just the case that as my long time love of Video Games waned and began to be replaced by other things more strongly, I just forgot about E3. To be honest, since 2012, I don’t think I have really thought about E3 other than when announcements are made on the trending part of Facebook. It’s kind of sad when I think about it really; I used to have so much excitement, and used to experience so much fun just watching a few press conferences, now for it to be almost nothing but a memory for me. Will I ever get back into it, I don’t know. I could try to watch this year’s conferences on YouTube sometime if I get round to it, or I could try double hard for next year, but I really don’t know. Sorry if it seems so anti-climactic but I don’t really have an answer of why or even why not?

Wii U

The thing is though, that even if I do get back into it, there is something vitally important missing from the conferences now. About this time last year, the industry lost one of its truly great and unique people; a man who was certainly still in his prime and still had many more years to give to the industry. He was a corporate president, and the CEO of the world’s largest video game company. He passed away just as the company was beginning to take its next step into a bright new future. For me, this man has been the main highlight for not just E3 but many other conferences I have been fortunate enough to see him present at. At E3 he made the press conferences fun and enjoyable no matter how terrible or mediocre the outcome. Someone whose presentation style was a wonder to behold and who spoke with a personal passion on the things he adored; whether it be games, technology or even chopping onions; he gave me some of the most interesting, intriguing and informative moments of my Video Game life and made E3 a magical moment. Sadly he is gone now, but his name; like E3 will remain synonymous with not just gamers, but with the entire video game industry, and the memories he has produced over the years will remain with us forever. I never met him, never saw him live, but I wish I had. He was a great inspiration to me, he was someone whose presentation style but also career was something to aspire too when I wanted to be a video games designer many years ago. He influenced me greatly when I was studying in that field, and even when I stopped viewing E3 regularly, every now and then I would go online and look up one of his press conferences, just for my own entertainment. More than anyone else, for me; E3 was a moment not just to hear about games and consoles, but a moment to hear from the great man that was: Satoru Iwata (miss you).

Satoru Iwata

GENEPOOL





The Joy Of Cheap Games

26 08 2015

Geometry Wars Galaxies (Bizarre Creations - 2007)

I am a gamer, of that there is no doubt. I love playing video games; I almost play them every day at the moment. I like playing all sorts of games from different mechanics, to settings, to genres; I like all sorts of games. Games however have one major flaw. I cannot blame them for this, they are expensive to make and deserve to make their money back, however it is still rather hard to buy games when they are first released as they are rather expensive. Such the expense they are, I have not bought a single video game on its day of release since Beyond: Two Souls (I think).

Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream - 2013)

Most games retail for the price of £40 in the UK when they are first released, and this is quite a lot of money, especially for those of us who are unemployed and looking for work. Even before that when I was on Student Loans and having a set amount of pocket money a month, about £40, that meant I could only buy a video game once a month and that was about it, and more recently I have been taken up by other hobbies and interests which sort of cut into this. As such I have not bought a game first day release since Beyond: Two Souls. It’s not like there are other games I want to buy first day of release either. I still want to play Far Cry 4, I like the look of the recent Godzilla game release for the PS3, and the number of 3DS games I would like to get for my Nintendo 3DS.

Godzilla (Natsume - 2014)

I have plenty of platforms that I play on, but due to the expensive costs games can be, I find that it’s much easier now to wait a while (roughly a year or two) until they become cheaper. Most of the games I have bought through Steam, or even GOG.com are when there is a sale on, because when it goes down in price remarkably, I can just get up and buy them. As for other consoles, I usually end up now buying them when they have dropped by a rather lot. Another 5 or 10 pounds I will be able to better afford Far Cry 4. While it could be a year away, I would rather buy Godzilla on the PS3 for a much cheaper price as money is valuable, and if you can get something for a cheaper price, why not? It’s a system I have used in the past and bought Spec Ops: The Line nearly a year after it was first released. In recent weeks I have played a lot of games, and bought quite a few. Some of these I have bought for rather cheap prices from GAME (and one from Barnardo’s) Now whether or not the quality of these games are any good is another question, but some of the games I have bought recently are games I never thought I would ever play. Games like Geometry Wars: Galaxies and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, whereas games like Modern Warfare 3 and Lost Planet 2 are ones I have fancied playing in the past. The last 3 I actually got as part of a deal and only paid about £6 overall for all three of them. Most of these games though I have yet to play (at time of writing) as due to a recent busy schedule. I have been able to play Geometry Wars: Galaxies though and have found it to be rather fun.

Rainbow Six Vegas (Ubisoft - 2006)

Another game I have played recently is Harvest Moon DS. I have wanted to get a Harvest Moon game on my 3DS for a while now. I like these sort of games because while the idea of a farming game does not sound all that exciting, it is actually quite fun trying to run a farm, and do all the activities needed in running one. While I have sighted lots of Harvest Moon games in places like GAME, maybe CEX too, but when Harvest Moon DS turned up inside Barnardo’s, I just had to grab it. Why? Because it was going for about 99p. Doesn’t really show confidence in price from the shop selling it, but Barnardo’s isn’t exactly a video game shop. The other reason I just had to grab it is because of an issue with the cheap games thing. While most games reduce in price in rapid succession meaning that within a year a game could be nearly less than half its normal price, DS games don’t.

Nintendo 3DS

DS games cost the same as new games upon release. For some unknown reason (or that I just don’t know) however they don’t depreciate as quickly as other games. It could be that on one side because they are not a disc based format, are harder to make, but the lack of depreciation doesn’t make sense when you realise that the Nintendo DS is the Second Best Selling Video Game Console in history behind the PlayStation 2. So why it doesn’t depreciate is still something of a mystery. Because of the lack of depreciation though, it means that most pre-owned titles still cost rather a large amount of money, even if the game came out 2 or 3 years ago. Getting a copy of Geometry Wars: Galaxies and Harvest Moon DS then were good spells of luck as I got Harvest moon in the end for 49p, and Geometry Wars was £2.99. In the past when I wanted to buy games for my 3DS I have had to trade in games for value to buy them; such as when I bought Pokémon White. The expense bracket for 3DS game in particular means that while I do own a few games for the console (and borrow quite a few from my brother), I only have 1 3DS game (Super Pokémon Rumble) and consider it lucky that the 3DS plays all previous DS games too. Which does become rather sad when there are games I want to play on it, I will have to wait even longer to buy them.

Super Pokémon Rumble (Ambrella - 2011)

Waiting for games to get cheaper can get a bit tiresome when you want to just play them, but usually in the end it’s a lot more worth it, because even if the game turns out to be more mediocre, or just generally bad than what you were hoping for, at least you didn’t nearly break the bank buying it on day one of release. Also it means that you can play other things and try new things you didn’t first think about. It makes games less of a chore and plan as to which to buy next and the need to play the same as everyone else; something which it can easily become and more like the hobby you want it to be. You may also find a treasure or two too. For the time being I am just going to play the cheap stuff, (things pre-owned or mega cheap from GAME, CEX or That’s Entertainment), or things in the GOG.com and Steam sale seasons, but right now I have 3 PS3 games that I need to play, plus finish Beyond: Two Souls (I restarted playing it as I was too far behind).

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

GENEPOOL





Wasting Away On Creeper 3

15 07 2015

CW3 Logo

For the past few weeks, I have been doing little projects here and there; from writing a series of film reviews (3 down, 4 to go), writing short stories to try and cure writers block (see previous post) as well as for entry into the Preston Short Story Slam, while also trying to develop ideas for bigger stories. All the while doing this I am trying to find work, decide on a direction of career, volunteering and awaiting the dark cloud of Graduation to arrive (tomorrow). One thing though that I have found in my way is something I do for light fun but also to help distract me when I need distracting. I play small little games on Steam every now and ten and have recently been playing such games as Mini Metro among others. One though I have come to realise, while is a useful distraction, is also wasting my time, and it’s becoming a real problem; Creeper World 3.

CW31

Creeper World 3 is the third game in the Creeper World series by KnuckleCracker.com. Over the years I have played Demos and versions of its previous incarnations on Kongregate; Creeper 3 though is the first time I have been able to play one of the actual games to the full. Basically, Creeper is a game where you have to defend/runaway/destroy a moving entity called the Creeper, which aims to destroy all the worlds of humanity. It is a real-time strategy game where you need to build defences to kill the Creeper while also either trying to destroy it completely, or survive long enough to kill it. I have found previous versions of the game really fun and very easy to get into. Creeper 3 itself plays a lot like the first one where you are on a map looking down over it, whereas Creeper World 2 was more a side scrolling view of the level.

CW21

I have been playing Creeper 3 since the Steam Summer Sale in June where I got it quite cheap, and to date, have played for over 31 hours (at time of writing). Yet I have discovered one little flaw in constant playing. Creeper 3 is not exactly a quick game, and levels (at least for me) can take close to an hour to complete. By the time I have finished, too much time has gone by for me to do anything in the way of productive, and it’s starting to become a real drag. It’s becoming such a problem I am considering uninstalling it to put on something that is much quicker to play. I actually feel rather bad as I have yet to play Grim Fandango Remastered which my brother got me for my birthday, and I really want to play it too, it’s just I get into Creeper, and then time has gone.

Grim Fandango (LucasArts - 1998)

It’s not the only game trouble I am struggling with at the moment, I am wondering about restarting Pokémon White on my 3DS as my Pokémon Team, is terrible, and I am also trying to have a second go at Beyond: Two Souls on the PS3, but I find it hard to play the game at night. And then there are my reading problems as I am finding it hard to get ‘into’ The Young Elites. It’s a hard time for me at the moment, all these struggles to do stuff and I am finding it hard to actually do them, and I don’t think playing Creeper 3 is really helping, as I would rather only play it as a 30 minute game to take during a break, not to take up an entire afternoon, as I would rather use the afternoon to do something a bit more productive, like write a book, which I really want to do.

The Young Elites (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers - 2014)

I will say however, that Creeper World 3 is a really fun game and one that I do recommend (I have played it for 30+ hours).

CW32

GENEPOOL (Does that title rhyme)?








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