Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Pixel Empire

The book is on the back burner again. Damn it. Currently distracted by video games and, more importantly, helping an online chum develop the content for his gaming website. This means I’m playing games more regularly at the moment and spending the commute to London Town writing about them, instead of the next chapter. It remains a winning situation though; two hobbies (gaming and writing) coming together and complementing each other perfectly. Quite the bonus!

The site I’m contributing too is called ‘The Pixel Empire’ and the focus is on reviewing retro-games, although the occasional recent release and everything in-between will also get the odd look in. You can visit The Pixel Empire here...

A little bit of 16-bit gaming awesomeness!
The site is less about what is on the horizon gaming wise - unless it’s a peculiarity like the recent release of Gun Lord on the Dreamcast (yes, the Dreamcast) - and more about harking back to the glory days spent in your bedroom, where we all waggled our joysticks whilst admiring Lara Croft’s pixels. In other words The Pixel Empire is the perfect excuse to mess around with emulation and re-live the likes of Speedball 2, Cannon Fodder, Turrican, Head Over Heels, Sensible Soccer and Zelda III: A Link to the Past in the body of a man-child. It’s also a purely selfish attempt at getting a more varied gaming diet to wean me off the addictiveness of Diablo 3…

Only idiots would think Head Over Heels is rubbish...

Alongside developing the main review database, occasional articles relating to retro-gaming will also feature – I’m currently working on a couple involving abandonware,, Manfred Trenz and investigating just why Modern Warfare 2 is comparable to a large pair of donkey bollocks – and we’re looking to make the site a little more interactive with a high-score table and frequent challenges being set for the readership. Lots of ideas and at the moment The Pixel Empire is coming along pretty well.

The whole thing is edited by a Welsh lad called Tom Clare, who is an expert gamer and reviewer, who I’ve randomly bumped into in cyberspace. He’s just as passionate about games and The Pixel Empire is his baby. I’m on board as a workshy lackey and am particularly grateful for the outlet to contribute my usual brand of gaming nonsense. Saying that, though, we are a bit short on X-Box know how. As in we’re both PS3 monkeys! So if anyone out there fancies themselves as a bit of a gamer who can string a couple of sentences together explaining just why Halo is so vastly overrated, then we’d like to hear from you. Simply contact Tom at the following link.

There's only one Zelda - and it's a Link to the Past!
More contributors are welcome to provide second opinions on games already reviewed, new reviews or interesting features. Knowledge of gaming history would be beneficial as well as a good written style. There’s no payment – although if you contribute some quality stuff Tom might give you a pat on the head and a biscuit – us minions just do this for the passion of gaming! So, even if you’re not interested in contributing, take a look at the site, tell us what you think, request reviews and participate in the forthcoming challenges. We look forward to sharing with you.

FIFA. Still does not match the genius of Sensible Soccer.

Friday, 13 July 2012

The irritability of the long distance runner

I now better appreciate the loneliness of the long distance runner. Going for a lengthy jog with just your internal monologue for company is one of the few precious moments of peace and quiet one is likely to get from the hectic chaos of modern life. Head down, switch off, think about how to start that Turrican review. Bliss!

The reason for this appreciation of the lonesome jogger follows my participation in the British 10k run last Sunday. Here, as one small human amoeba amongst many, the internal monologue suffers from way too much interference to enjoy said run, particular when it turns into a never-ending game of dodgems. The pre-race pack highlighted keep to the right if you were likely to pootle around the course like a well-fed buffalo, but obviously some people lack the ability to read. Or are just morons! Stopping to walk in the middle of the course forcing other runners into immediate action to avoid a collision is a little like that bit in Jedi when Lando recognises the Death Star shields are still up. Fucking annoying! Get out of the way you great galoot!

So, instead of a nice enjoyable run taking in the sites of central London, this 10k was more an exasperating affair of having to take constant action to avoid slower runners and walkers. Worst of all most of these drongos were wearing headphones (I still don’t understand why people do this – does it not play hell with your natural running movements and breathing?) minimising the chance they’ll be able to hear the herd of elephants behind them and skip politely out of the way. My elbows are bruised from all the near-misses. On two occasions my ankles were almost wrapped around the metal fences keeping the watching punters out. And between the 6k mark and 8k mark it absolutely chucked it down. I presume this is what hell is probably like.

Still, despite the frequent side-stepping and speeding up to get through tiny gaps before they were swallowed up by a mass of large sweaty bodies, I got round in 50 minutes 36 seconds and have raised just under £200 so far for Independent Age. Not bad for only two and half weeks training (that’s six runs starting with a three miler) after the missus signed me up for it. And the main perk is the little beer gut has receded slightly and I’m looking more buff than I have done since 2003. So I’m off out for a run tonight – come October this year there’s the possibility of a half marathon and running the gauntlet through another bunch of inconsiderate berks messing with my karma. The loneliness of the longest distance runner is certainly the calm before the storm…

Spot the goof!

I’m still looking for donations following the British 10k (my target was £350), so if you want to give a little to a worthy charity fighting the good fight for older people against a ruthless government of millionaire public school twonks that don’t give a shit, do it at the following link: