December 13th, 2003


Only Love Can Make A Golden Wedding RIng

As it turned out, injuries to my mother were not as bad as anticipated, but thanks for your concern argentea . She was stood by the front of a crowded bus and the door hinge crushed her hand as she stood there. Aside from some light bruising to her hands and a few cuts, she was reasonably undamaged. Two of her rings were badly dented and one from her grandmother (dated 1893 I noted) was snapped. The wedding band was unscathed.

My mother has been living down this road for the last six months or so. It's great to have her there, although I do occasionally wish she was living somewhere a little less craggy than South Tottenham. She seems to take jogger murders and Turkish and Kurdish gang wars in her stride though!

I was going to go on last time about the Game Boy Advance. Not sure if I have the energy now. I bought a shop-soiled one a year ago. Overall, I like it, it's a pleasant throwback to old school gaming where playability is more of an issue and you can't use smoke and mirrors so readily to bamboozle the player into thinking the product is any good. Recently I bought two second hand titles.

Metroid Fusion. For those non-gamers among you, the Metroid series was the original creation of Gunpei Yokoi who was one of the pioneering greats in video gaming. This works beautifully on the GBA and plays really well. Of course, I'm stuck. This giant spider boss (Yakuza is his name apparently) has me crouching down in a pit avoiding his giant mandibles and fireball attacks. I've just about worked out how to defeat him in his first incarnation, but of course, he then starts spitting out giant lumps of crud that crush an already weakened Samus, for that's the Core-X mutated hero, oh do shut up! Anyway it's a 2-D scroller and plays wonderfully. But I just don't have the time these days to devote to developing note-perfect strategies against monster bosses, in video games or real life. It takes me three minutes to get to the boss, fight, lose, attempt different move, fuck up move, defeat, back again, three minutes...

Wario Ware Inc. This doesn't need much time, but it may drive you mad. It is series of very short 200 or so microgames that last about five seconds each and involve activities like sucking mucus back into a nose, jumping hurdles, swatting flies. It is resolutely lo-tech and much of it is composed of referencing past Nintendo glories and failures. It works quite well while sat on the toilet. I have changed my desktop wallpaper momentarily to Kat and Ana, who are two nature loving "kickin' kindergartners". I shall be challenging the Professor and Landlady come Christmas. It has a sense of humour and almost works as a compressed history of Gunpei era Nintendo in the heyday of the SNES period and before.

I've never been much of a video gamer but I've always kept up with its development. Too many games seem to avoid the player using their imaginations. One trap that development has fallen into is the belief that things should look picture perfect as opposed to letting the mind fill in the blanks. So, 2-D games can be better than 3-D. Pixels and bitmaps can be better than forty million polygons. Art, whatever that may be, has not held for a long time that things need to be realistic to be powerful. But the technology now takes a team of fifty to develop and program, so just like film, the auteur style of gaming is pretty much dead in the water for consoles, although there's plenty of interesting people working in lesser forms out on the web. This Samorost flash game is an intriguing twenty minutes, a little reminiscent in parts of the wonderful Vector Park.

This is sort of what I was intending to write the other night, but with a great deal more energy and conviction. In short, I despair about the crapness of video games, you'd think that technology would mean that you could do more as an independent creator, but that more is sucked up, up and away and you play to the lowest common denominator, which means predictability, guns and improbable chest measurements all too often....moment of nostalgia as I remember earlier this year sitting at home after my father died, playing ICO on the PlayStation2 (I gave it away now I don't own a TV anymore and had to give the data projector back), a BEAUTIFUL experience let alone game (there's persistent rumours of a follow up), I cried even, almost burning and flooding the house since I was determinedly and self-indulgently working my way through the stocks of Oxycontin and morphine that dad left behind. I saved the girl and cleaned up my act.

In conclusion to this erratic teatime post, before I head back into history, I'd like to thank Neil Cleary for providing musical accompaniment for the last 40 minutes. He played at last Sunday's impromptu engagement debauch and gave me a free copy of his CD. Fairly melancholy Americana with some nice touches to it. Worth a listen.