Sooooo … I’m bored. I have no right to be, but I am.
I have a great job. It’s really well-paid, I work more or less when I want to, where I want to, on what I want to. My team are amazing.
I have a great family. My wife is a wonderful woman and I love her to distraction. My children are clever and funny and brilliant and adorable.
I am in the fortunate position of being able to indulge my hobby. I have literally every retro computer and console I could possibly want. I’ve built a really great home network, with Plex, and pi-hole, and great telephony, and mesh WiFi, and the fastest broadband available in my postcode.
And I’m bored. I need something else to work on. I need a project.
In order to force myself to calm down a bit on the political ranting, I figured I would do one of these. Here for your delectation are a few choice retro pickups from the last few months. Apologies for the bad photography.
First off, there’s this bad boy:
A friend of mine had one of these when I was a kid, and I was always oddly fascinated by it. I mean, honestly it’s little more than a socially ambitious PDA, and is oddly less usable than the Cambridge Z88 which predates it by several years, but it’s small, it’s interesting, the hinge is really cool (those icon buttons rotate down into the case as you close it) and I’m having fun getting it to talk to my Amiga. Because reasons.
Second up, I’ve finally got a Saturn light gun again:
I never had Virtua Cop 2 back in the day; my Saturn lightgun escapades were limited to House of the Dead (a darned good port as it happens, but stupid expensive now). So far the gun is a lot less accurate than I remember – or maybe I’m just getting old and slow.
Finally, we have this pleasingly batshit action RPG for the Nintendo 64:
This is a deeply weird game. I can’t work out if it’s actually good or not. There’s a video about it here that’s worth watching.
So, that’s it for now. I’ll probably post some more retro pickups as and when I have something interesting to show.
I am not Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest fan. Not at all. I have a whole ribcage’s worth of bones to pick with him, on subjects ranging from his apparent tolerance of anti-Semitism in his party to his utter uselessness at the dispatch box. Rarely has Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition been so thoroughly ineffectual at holding government to account. Corbyn is a formidable campaigner and there is no denying the devotion he elicits in some quarters, but I would much, much prefer that the Labour Party I have voted for all of my life were led by someone who can manage people as well as inspire them, and who can get things done as well as protest about them. Someone like Yvette Cooper or Tom Watson. Hell, someone like Ed Miliband would do (although I still think the wrong Miliband brother won that contest, and I still think that a lot of the reason we are in this situation comes down to Ed looking a tit while eating a bacon sandwich).
Nonetheless, right now I would roll out the red carpet and hang up the bunting at the prospect of a Corbyn government, because it would mean an end to this inept, obnoxious, divisive, vicious and ever-shrinking cabal that is all that remains of the once proud Conservative and Unionist Party.
It comes to something when a former Conservative prime minister is so strongly opposed to the policy of a current Conservative prime minister that he actually seeks judicial review of that policy. Yet that is exactly what John Major is doing.
When John Major and Jeremy Corbyn are on the same side of an argument, you know something is up. When the Prime Minister deliberately sets himself on a collision course with the House of Commons and its Speaker (another Conservative, as it happens), you know these are not normal times. When a sociopathic SPAD threatens every Conservative MP with deselection if they try to stop the government proroguing Parliament in order to prevent it averting a national disaster that the government is hell-bent on pushing through for no reason that anyone can really remember any more, we are really in unprecedented territory.
A colleague told me on Friday about a restaurant he went to recently, where on their dessert menu they had renamed “Eton Mess” to “Brexit”. Rather apt, I thought.
Anyhow, floreat Etona. And fuck everyone else, apparently.
This is a game I have been itching to play for ages. A realistic, medieval open world action RPG – what’s not to like?
Turns out: loads. This game has so much potential, but it is completely shot to pieces by the awful, awful combat.
Now, first person melee combat is tricky to get right at the best of times. Vermintide is an example of a game that does it well, as is Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Skyrim doesn’t do it especially brilliantly, but it gets away with it because of the brilliance of the world. In Kingdom Come, sad to say, the combat is game-breakingly awful. It’s wafty, it’s slow, it’s almost impossible to gauge distance, blocking is a fucking train wreck, and frankly after an hour of the game I want to kill something. Or possible myself. There’s this section where you have to escape from your town when it’s being ransacked, and you steal a horse, and then you get pursued by a load of soldiers with crossbows and there is literally nothing you can do to stop them shooting you dead.
This is where I rage quit. I’m frustrated because the world looks interesting, and the game has the potential to be as brilliant as The Witcher, but it’s just buggered to hell by the dysfunctional combat system.
In no particular order, and (mostly) applying equally to modern and retro games alike, here is a list of things that games do all the time and which really really boil my piss.
Compulsory stealth sections in games with crap stealth mechanics. If you’re going to force the player to navigate a section by stealth, at least have the decency to build solid, fun stealth mechanics. Don’t just shoehorn it in, especially early in the game. It’s annoying, it’s not enjoyable, and as often as not I will just rage quit and play something else.
Escort missions. There has never been an escort mission that’s actually good. No, you’re wrong. There just hasn’t. Ico doesn’t count.
Putting token female characters in completely stupid clothes because “sexy” or some shit. I had thought this cishet-dudebro “hur hur tits” ridiculousness was dying out. Then I saw “Quiet” in Metal Gear Solid 5. I mean, come on people. She’s basically in her birthday suit, and she doesn’t speak. Quiet is to gender equality what Jim Davidson is to race relations. She’s worse than Barbarella, and that was an actual piss-take. And if you find Kojima’s spurious explanation (something about breathing through her skin or some bollocks) even remotely convincing, then I’m sorry but you are definitely an idiot, probably a misogynist and very likely had something to do with Gamergate.
Sub-titles turned on by default. Why. Just … why. I know games have to support sub-titles for localisation or for the hearing-impaired. That’s a good thing. But why are they turned on by default? I can hear and understand English. I don’t need your inane dialogue provided to me in text form too.
Up to jump. One for European gamers of a certain age. See, consoles weren’t really a thing here until the Megadrive/Genesis and SNES era. Before that, we played games on home computers like the Spectrum, the C64 and latterly the ST and Amiga. All of which only supported one joystick button. Which meant that most games which needed both a jump and fire/attack function (i.e. most games) used the single button for fire and up on the joystick to jump. And, rose-tinted nostalgia aside, it was utterly shit. Up to jump is wankballs.
So, yeah. I’m sure there’s loads of stuff I missed. But this is what I could think of for the moment.