Sunday, 30 August 2009

BATMAN!!!

Spent most of today playing Batman Arkham Asylum. It's pretty god darned fantastic! Expect a review soon. but if you're on the fence at this point in time... don't be, just buy it; you'll thank me.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

What do you think you're doing putting that in your body!?

It appears I'm going off topic again... today I'm going to give some impression of my feelings of UK drugs policy (which is mirrored almost globally).

This article has been inspired by the government's recent decision to start banning legal highs due to the level of danger involved and the perceived moral consequences of leaving their usage unpunished. It has been decided this week that before the end of December the following substances will be band: BZP (also known as liquid Ecstasy due to its amphetamine like effect), GBL (infamous as the date rape drug, but also widely used by clubbers as a source of euphoria) and Spice (a herbal cannabis substitute sold as incense across the internet). Of course there have been a number of other substances banned previously and there are doubtless many more to come (from what I've been reading Salvia divinorium is currently skirting the cross hairs of policy makers).

The reasons for the decision to ban these substances seem somewhat questionable for the most part and at the very least, just a tad misguided. For instance, the substance BZP has now been in fairly common usage since the early 90's; now what you may be thinking is, 'well it must have been causing a considerable amount of damage during that time?' (these were my immediate thoughts too). However it turns out, that during 20 years of usage globally and numerous impartial investigations, BZP has only been directly linked to two deaths worldwide when used with MDMA (Although this is not what a recent BBC report would have you believe, with it stating "GBL and BZP have been linked to a number of deaths". Now while I can't argue against the fact that two is technically a number, this use of language seems rather misleading). Furthermore, medical institutions have reported it as one of the least prolific causes of overdoses, with a fairly low toxicity level making it pretty safe for low to mid level doses. This is not to say that it is without risks, it has been known to cause some mental issues and in some cases heart problems and seizures, but these problems are rare amongst users. On these terms, it would seem that the government's decision on this particular substance isn't so much based on evidence or reason, but instead some kind of weird moral sentiment. This might be perhaps a little less troubling if it weren't for the fact that we as a society have institutionalised two drugs which have been repeatedly proven to be more harmful. I speak of course of tobacco and alcohol. To put the two deaths caused by BZP in perspective, it has been reported that 1 in 25 deaths globally is attributable to alcohol usage (as cited in this BBC article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8118475.stm). It's important I make myself clear here though, I'm by no means saying that we should put more restrictions on alcohol, simply that we shouldn't maintain this horrible double standard.

The other two substances might come under more legitimate questioning (GBL in particular, given it's potential to be used as a date rape drug). There have been a spate of GBL related deaths recently caused by mixing with alcohol. This combination of two sedatives runs a high risk of causing comas in those who take it. It would seem though that the problem here is not one of GBL's inherent risk, rather than one of people's lack of understanding of the risks involved. It seems odd that the tack that the government are choosing to use in regards to GBL is not that of it's use as a date rape drug, rather its complete failure to make people aware of its dangers. I'm not sure that the fact that it is used as a date rape drug is even a strong reason for its banning. Every day people are allowed to buy knives which they could potentially use to cause harm to others, do we ban knives; well of course we don't because their primary function is not to cause harm and the majority of the time their primary function is their only function. There is certainly a debate to be had though. It does seem to me though, that if GBL were legal and sold through legal establishments it would be possible to track GBL sales directly, increasing the chances of criminal authorities catching those who intend to use it for rape.

The herbal Cannabis substitute Spice again is definitely up for some form of open discussion. As it stands Spice is made up of a number of different substances, none of which are listed on packaging or on the websites where it can be purchased. Seemingly the issue at hand here is that people don't know what they're taking, furthermore medical establishments aren't aware of the long term risks involved with the product yet as no research has been commissioned. Ironically we have years of research on the long term effects of cannabis, which has yet to link any deaths to the drugs use or any of the more severe effects that the media has a rather bad habit for reporting as fact. Furthermore, if we were to legalise cannabis we would be in a position where we could tax its sale (funding further research and treatment for users who damage themselves), we would move it's sale out of the hands of criminals and we could be sure of its purity due to government regulation. But alas, this is a discussion for another day. I hope this article has contained a modicum useful information and that I haven't bored you by retreading the same old arguments you've heard a million times before :)

Thank you for reading.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Flash game round up, part 3 (Noobtoober suggestions)

Well I was going to finish reviewing games from the newgrounds front page; but then a few of you sent me suggestions for games to review and I decided to review them instead. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas (If any of you comment below I shall award you with a noobie for inspiring this digression Very Happy), it’s been great fun playing through all of the suggestions! Anyway, without further ado let the review commence…

Last Stand 2 (suggested by capnredchops)



There’s nothing more terrifying than an army of obese zombies!


As some of you might know, a group of scientists based in Africa recently tried to mathematically model the outcome of a zombie apocalypse… their findings? Well it turns out the only way that we can realistically survive such a scenario, is apparently to arm ourselves with combat shotguns and pray to Zeus (or any other historical God figure) for mercy… and preferably lots of ammunition. That being the case, you can consider this training for that inevitable day in the future when McDonalds infuse their burgers with the T-Virus (We all know it’s coming).

Last Stand 2 finds your character desperately trying to move towards Union City (I know, towards the city, what a tit!), where he has heard tell of a rescue plan. In order to do so however, you’ll need to cover a long distance. This requires supplies, people, traps and mostly importantly, lots and lots of weapons. On each of the 40 nights you’ll find yourself having to fend off gigantic hordes of zombies with whatever weapons you happen to have sourced during the day. Throughout these onslaughts you’ll find yourself restricted to move around behind barricades on the far right of the screen (also limiting the zombie’s easy access to your brains). You repel the armies of daytime TV viewers by aiming and shooting with the mouse (an often imprecise art), trying to score headshots to increase efficiency. Unfortunately the aiming is a bit hit and miss (pun intended) and you’ll often find that you get swamped because of the slightly dodgy system that is used. Thankfully most of the time you’ll have fellow survivors helping you, stopping this becoming too much of an issue most of the time. Furthermore, you’ll often find traps which can be employed to help with your quest to quell the quasi cadaverous masses (I had to force that one Very Happy), easing the struggle. At the end of each night you’re given twelve hours in which to search for supplies, survivors, traps and musty old pornography (what… there’s no one around to judge you!) and to repair your barricades. You’ll have to manage your time wisely in order to get the right balance of searching, travelling and repairing and successfully making your way through the campaign.

Overall the Last Stand 2 is an incredibly deep flash game with incredible graphics, good cinematics (a rarity in flash gaming) and fairly solid game play. The one thing holding it back is the shooting mechanic, but it’s unfair to mark it down too much because of that and on those grounds I grant it a strangely appropriate One and a half thumbs

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/439275

Multiplayer Jelly Battle (another suggestion from capnredchops



This is what happens when gelatine based confectioneries are introduced to communism


I’m not quite sure where the concept for this game could have come from, what I do know is that I like it regardless. MJB is a game of light tactics which can either be played by yourself against A.I opponents or multiplayer against fellow internet goons. The game itself has you playing as one of four sadistic jelly babies, who’s only goal is to massacre one another.

Each match pits you and your wits against three other players (all jelly, all pissed!) in a four way battle to the death. The best way I can describe the game play is as an actioney, turn based grid type thing. You attack other players by jumping to a different square with a power assigned to it. Once all the players have moved, each of them uses whatever power is assigned to the square that they’re inhabiting. It’s an interesting play style that nicely balances quick thinking, luck and skill together in a strong well presented package. The single player isn’t exactly stellar, but then one assumes that it only exists to allow for practice and to grant you the ability to play when no one else is on the servers. When I tried out the multiplayer myself I found that the match started almost immediately (meaning there’s still plenty of people playing this, so now is definitely the time to try it) and remained seamless throughout. It probably won’t keep you captivated too long (mostly due to the lack of challenging opponents) but it’s definitely worth giving it a shot while people are still playing it. MJB receives Two thumbs up as a brief bit of multiplayer goodness.

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/393177

Death versus Monstars (suggested by ultrabean2.0)



This is about as calm as the action gets!


I really can’t believe how good some of these flash titles are; this is one of many examples of a title that could happily co-exist with professional pay for play titles (With a little bit of extra polish). I’m not sure what the story behind the game is (frankly it doesn’t matter), but what I do know is that this is an example of how flash games should aspire to be.

In Death versus Monstars you play as death (or at least his disambiguated head), fighting off hundreds of colourful enemies with your heavily upgradeable cannon. The control scheme is quite different to the majority of things you’re likely to have come across before. You control Death by moving the mouse in the direction you wish to travel, with the cannon swinging round to fire in the other direction. The cannon can be locked in position at any time by clicking down the left mouse button, meaning you don’t have to be constantly changing directions to target enemies. You also have the option slowing down time at any point (trust me, you’ll be using this a lot) in order to outmanoeuvre enemies, by pressing down on the space bar. Obviously you can’t do this all the time as that would be daft, so you’re limited to a fairly generous amount of bullet time using a gauge at the bottom of the screen. There is another gauge to be found as well, the berserk gauge. Once the berserk gauge fills you can activate the berserk power by double clicking, granting a few moments of invulnerability and firing bullets from all angles, annihilating enemies, allowing much needed rest bite and massively increasing your score. As you play the game felled enemies will drop coinage which can be used to purchase upgrades of your cannon, your health and your berserk abilities; this adds a welcome extra layer of depth and gives the game extra longevity.

The game contains ten main campaign levels and an extra endless level where you can fight for score supremacy (Note: if you get this far check the high scores and you’ll notice that the top score is clearly a bot, either that or the guy who lasted 18 hours had taken an awful lot of speed. I’m currently 33rd globally). Each of the levels has one of two objectives, either kill X number of enemies or last n seconds. All of the levels are challenging and interesting in their own right, with a prevalent strong difficulty curve. Everything from the characters to the backgrounds is simple, stylish, slick and lots of other words beginning with s (except that one). This has quickly become one of my all favourite flash games and truly deserves the ultimate accolade of Two thumbs up

http://www.gamereclaim.com/2009/03/death-vs-monstars/

Tetris Friends (as suggested by ‘the three hole’?{couldn’t find you in the forum list}during the main show



At this early stage you’re opponents appear to be comprised of stray keyboard hamsters and nodding birds


Tetris friends is a website for Tetris lovers everywhere. There is a wealth of games available to be played on the site, but the specific game I intend to review today is 6P battle.

6P is another multiplayer battle game, but this time it’s a game that we all already know and love. The game pits you against five human opponents over a two minute period, during which your goal is to rack up as many points as possible, and make life difficult for other players. I’m going to make an assumption here and guess that you all know how to play Tetris and stick to describing what makes this game different. What really makes this game different from previous iterations is the targeted attack system. Every second line of blocks that you disappear causes two layers of blocks to form on another players screen, until they can get a line themselves. As you play a targeting reticule moves over each of the individual players screens, showing you which player will suffer if you perform an attack. This adds an interesting tactical element, as you score extra points for KO’ing other players. You have the option of either coordinating attacks on the weakest player, or simply scoring as many lines as possible (Note: this isn’t meant to be taken as a drug taking reference Very Happy) and avoiding unnecessary delays.

It seems to be that, at any time you want to play the server can instantly connect you with five other players (I’ve never had any delay) meaning that switching between matches is seamless and carefree throughout. Each player is given the option of creating their own profile, which is kind of an aside, but a pleasant feature all the same. Success in battles levels up your rank, moving you towards battles against more experienced/competent players. This is definitely a good thing as you’ll spend the first few matches playing against, what I can only are assume simple trained monkeys or young Earth creationists, leaving you somewhat miffed by the lack of challenge. It’s not long before you’ll find yourself playing against other people who people that have calculated how to use the keyboard and have the capacity for coordinated thought. Once you get into the flow of it, chances you’ll really enjoy what’s on offer here. 6P battle is quite clearly a fairly high budget title as everything about it is seamless and well presented , but it’s not the budget that wins out here… it’s the strength of concept and quality of delivery that takes the finish. This is another absolutely fantastic flash title and is one hundred percent deserving of a score of Two thumbs up

http://www.tetrisfriends.com/games/Battle6P/game.php

Red Star Fall (Suggested by BashmentGal)

Got this link from BashmentGal’s blog which you should really check it out athttp://thingsyoucantunsee.blogspot.com/


It turns out I haven’t got anything even vaguely witty to say about this image


Red Star Fall is one of a growing number of what I like to call “tactical falling games” . The aim in these titles is to drop an object (in this case a red star) to some point lower down the screen without dropping them too far. You do this by clicking on the blocks that you want to disappear and hoping that it doesn’t lead to your downfall. As you progress you’ll come across more complex towers, comprised with irremovable blocks and exploding blocks as well, meaning that the challenge changes incrementally.

Each of the game’s levels is scored for speed and efficiency, which is added up to a total score and can be uploaded to be compared with other player’s scores. All of the in game physics are perfect, never feeling erratic or unrealistic (which I guess is quite important in a game that is essentially about physics) and always responding correctly to new situations. If I have one quibble with this game (and there is only one), it’s that there’s not enough of it. I got to the end in less than ten minutes and was left with the horrible feeling of wanting more… but more didn’t come. While it lasts this is a very classy piece of flash, deserving of respect and admiration, thus its receival of the coveted Two thumbs up

http://armorgames.com/play/3420/redstar-fall


Well that’s it for this installment… I’ll most probably be back with one of these at some point in the future, but until then big thanks to you for reading and even bigger thanks to everyone who contributed ideas.

Yow!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Flash game round up, part 2

Hello again gentle readers, if you haven’t already checked out part one be sure to do so. I’m still reviewing games from the Newgrounds front page, it’s taking longer than expected hence putting into small manageable sections. So get yourself comfortable and get ready for part two of my flash game extravaganza. Remember, I play crap flash games so you don’t have to.

Cyclomaniacs



No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed Mr. T doing a back flip, on a push bike, on the surface of an asteroid


This is another game that I’ve found myself strangely enamoured by. I never really expect much depth in flash games, yet twice during these reviews I’ve found myself absolutely stunned by the amount on offer. Cyclomaniacs is a 2D bike race/stunt game which includes a large number of challenges, characters and backdrops. There are 20 available characters, 26 levels spanning across 6 zones with each level containing three challenges. That’s quite a lot considering you’re getting this all for free (you cheap bastard).

The aim of the game is to race through levels performing stunts to gain boost, collecting items and beating opponent racers (yeah original, I know). Each of the levels and characters is charmingly designed and well presented with decent background music implemented as well. The stages themselves are all pretty fun, with different tasks available allowing for plenty of variety. As you do better in the races you can purchase upgrades to your cyclist, gradually making you better at tricks and much faster. Everything flows wonderfully and there’s a lot of challenge on offer making this an entirely worthwhile game.

Another surprisingly good title.
Two thumbs up

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/508422

The Competitor



the aesthetic is simple, yet quite sleek


This is a classic example of brilliant concept meets mediocre execution. The competitor sees you taking on the challenge of defending your base from a lone ship, by placing units across the battlefield. Not an entirely original concept, but the USP for this title is that you draw a line where you want your units to assemble. Definitely a very interesting idea; unfortunately on delivery it turns out to be quite weak. The problem is that you can spam the front end of the area with attack units, defeating the enemy before they have the chance to touch you at all. The designers have clearly tried to combat this by limiting the amount of units you can place using an ink gauge; unfortunately this isn’t enough to add any actual challenge. It also has the unfortunate result of making the whole experience feel pretty passive. Furthermore the game is criminally short… you’ll have finished with the title within 5-10 minutes. Despite all these quibbles though, it is well presented and quite interesting as a concept. For a good effort (if not great result) I award The Competitor
One Thumb Up

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/508478

GT and the Evil Factory



I’m not quite sure why leaves are a problem for a robot


Again I’m slightly torn on this one. GT and the Evil Factory is a weird sort of action RPG type thing, in which you take the role of a rebellious robot. The first thing I noticed when I started playing this title is that the quality in presentation is massively varied. Throughout the game you’ll find really well designed interfaces, with some very interesting ideas in the presentation; but it’s all ultimately let down by crap art skills (Words can’t even begin to describe how crude it is… scratch that, what I actually mean is that they can, I just can’t be bothered finding them). Unfortunately the game play isn’t great either, despite being very well put together. For the most part you are required to collect orbs whilst dispatching enemies and dodging things. This might have been interesting for a couple of stages, but it wears thin pretty quickly. As far as I can tell it’s the whole game (although to be honest I got bored and stopped playing, so it might get more interesting). Another annoying little niggle I have with this game is that it’s filled to the brim, with terrible dialogue and atrocious spelling. I understand that a lot of people can’t spell very well, but if you’re releasing a game you’d have thought that you’d at least get someone who can to check over it.

I’m probably being slightly harsh on this game, but I really didn’t find it particularly fun and as such I have to give it an
in-between thumb

http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/508156

This is the Only Level



The wise man knows that there are many ways to play one level


This is the only level is very true to its name, there is indeed only one level. However, there are many ways one level can be played. As you’ll have noticed from the screenshot, the art style of this game is incredibly crude, but that’s the way it’s meant to be. The game is meant to exist as a simple thought experiment so complex graphics or area designs would over elaborate the experience. Unsurprisingly, the game does only have one terrain, but there are 30 different ways in which to traverse the level. Each time you make it through it posts you back at the start and leaves you to work out what to do. The puzzles are all wonderfully imagined and it’s entirely satisfying reaching the end. It’s only a very short game but it packs a trunk full of punch. As such I give this game
two thumbs up



And one more thing…

Bubble Spinner



Don’t look at it directly


Do remember having a life? I had one once, right up until the moment I received a link to this game from a friend (Thanks dickhead). Now I know I can never leave the house again, Bubble spinner knows if I leave the house, it’s important that I don’t upset Bubble spinner. Bubble Spinner wants your love too. Bubble spinner has bubbles for you to pop and soothing music that plays repeatedly in your head while you’re not playing Bubble spinner, just to remind you that you could be playing Bubble spinner. Bubble spinner wants to be your friend. Bubble spinner is very similar to Super bubble pop and a number of other franchises, but unlike those games, Bubble spinner has bubbles that spin. Bubble spinner will consume us all. Bubble spinner is a highly addictive high score chasing game, but don’t let that put you off, Bubble spinner always gives. Bubble spinner deserves more than
Two thumbs up but unfortunately, I only have two thumbs to give.

http://www.deadwhale.com/play.php?game=774

Surrender yourself to Bubble spinner!

I’ll be back with the final part of my flash roundup shortly. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far.

Flash game round up, part 1.

Ok, so as most of you will have noticed, we are now firmly in the middle of the season of gaming drought known as the Summer. But fear not, with my help you may be able to avoid needlessly going outside and taking part in the dreadful art of socializing. My intentions are to wade through the positive plethora of mediocre flash games, to find the rare gems that shine through the shit. I’m going to start my search on the front page of Newgrounds, the home of many a flash gamer. So without further ado…

The Facebook game



A game for those amongst you who want titles that make an existential statement


This title sees you taking up the mantle of an average emo teenager, struggling to balance facebook with other important activities (like watching tv… or writing macabre poetry about dead animals). In order to play the game you use the arrow keys to move around between different items of interest, which charge up satisfaction metres. You have five major desires to salve in this game, these are taking pictures of yourself in the mirror (like the vain twit that you are), phoning your friends (to talk about the senseless masses who don’t understand you because they’ve been blinded by prejudice), listening to music (by some whiney American teenagers about how their parents have limited their credit allowance), romancing (with your miserable c**t of a boyfriend) and of course posting on facebook (to an uncaring, uninterested mass of faceless internet drones). It’s not long into the experience that you realise that there’s no winning in this game… there is only failure and misery. So on balance it’s not really a game so much as a depression simulator and in that respect, it succeeds. The most I can give this title is a
halfway thumb as while it’s a mildly amusing joke, it’s not actually fun in any sort of traditional sense.

Note: If you are actually an emo kid and I’ve just really offended you, don’t worry I’m only joking (you miserable, self-righteous son of a gun).

Multi-task


Sometimes less is more or less, more


Now, this title has really charmed me, as it has the brilliant strengths of being incredibly simple, yet ludicrously hard. The game requires you to manage four mini games simultaneously, taking intense amounts of concentration and coordination. You begin by balancing a ball on a board which you control with the left and right arrow keys, which in itself is pretty easy. Before too long a second mini game is introduced where you have to move a block of colour out of the way of incoming arrows with the up and down arrow keys; still pretty simple. Now things start to get a little tricky. The third mini game requires you to move a green square around between different blocks (which are counting down from ten) with the W,A,S,D keys. I found that at this point I had to swap my hands around to counter cognitive dissonance. Then the fourth and final game is introduced. This last game requires you to pilot a ship out of the way of incoming blocks (pressing the space bar to ascend and releasing to descend). At this point the game is pretty devilishly hard, but it’s still doable. However the game doesn’t end with the fourth mini game, the longer you play, the faster it gets it eventually becomes next to impossible to progress without losing one of the mini games. This is a brilliant little game and deserves
two thumbs up, for taking a simple little idea and delivering with grace and style.

Daytraders of the Dead



The cause of the G.R.E.E.D virus has been traced back to the eighties


The eighties have a lot to answer for, first they gave synth pop, Margaret Thatcher and Reagan, but now it turns out they gave us corporate banker zombies as well. Daytraders of the Dead is a neat little top down shooter where you take on the role of a vigilante, fighting off G.R.E.E.D zombies that have taken over our financial establishments. Apart from being a very funny concept, it is also a rather stunningly good flash game. As you progress through each level, you’ll find yourself blessed with a steadily improving arsenal of weapons and power ups, which never leave you overpowered, but give you a pleasing edge over the horde. I played through the title on the normal difficulty and found it incredibly hard, so there’s definitely plenty of challenge available here, with a hard difficulty and survival mode on offer as well. The controls are seamless, with you moving the character around with either the W,A,S,D or the arrow keys and aiming and shooting with the mouse. Furthermore the action never lets up making it an incredibly intense, exhilarating title which is relentlessly fun. Can’t recommend it enough
Two thumbs up

YouDa Legend Amsterdam



Do you enjoy finding random objects for no clear reason? If so this is the game for you


I fundamentally don’t understand this game… I kind of get what it is and what it’s trying to do, but can’t help but feel that it’s a bit audacious trying to pass it as a game. The idea seems to be that there’s some kind of mystery (apparently) and you’re the one tasked with solving it. However it doesn’t actually specify what said mystery is, just that there is one and to be honest, I didn’t make it far enough to find out what was going on (thankfully). For some reason you go around finding objects off of a list in order to progress from one screen to the next. This may sound reasonable, perhaps even fun, but slow down and let me explain. The kind of objects that you have to collect include, potatoes, thumbtacks and paper airplanes… it’s like you’re playing as a sever OCD criminal detective (I don’t know about you, but I’ve never particularly wanted to play a game where the central character was Monk, from that god awful daytime tv detective show). As if this wasn’t bad enough, the game actively tries to stop you from playing by making the mouse move around like a feather caught in a gust composed of farts, every time you click too often (I’m sorry game, but if you’re going to force to look around dull backdrops to find potatoes, I am going to click around randomly and if you don’t like you can f*ck off, f*ck right off!). Everything about this title is pretentious and tedious in equal measure and deserves nothing but disdain. I can only recommend this game to you if you suffer from severe OCD’s or if you have a fetish for finding potatoes and as such I have to give it an exaggerated
Two thumbs down


Well that’s it for this instalment. I’ll be back very soon with reviews of more flash titles from the Newgrounds front page. In the meantime please let me know what you think and let me know if I should try and make this into a semi-regular feature. Cheers for reading.

Yow!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Feel the wob!

Check out my first forray into the dubstep world

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Flash game round up.

So I was thinking of doing a semi regular roundup of the most popular flash games on newgrounds. Is this something that people are likely to want to read? I'll probably post up something of the sort within the next week, so let me know what you think then.

Toodle pip

Thursday, 13 August 2009

We love the slightly confused healthcare argument!

Ok, I'm going to try and keep this brief (this is a games blog after all). Now there seems to be a few misconceptions regarding both our healthcare in Britain and what Obama proposes to do in the US. The first point to make is that the two are in no way related.

I'm sure anyone reading this already knows this, but Britain and America have very different ideals regarding healthcare. Here in Britain we run a socialised healthcare scheme, whereby any treatments are paid for out of peoples taxes. This ensures that everyone can get treated, but can sometimes lead to long waiting times for procedures and some treatments financial viability coming under heavy scrutiny. However in America most healthcare is dealt with by private companies, meaning that the cost of healthcare is burdened directly onto the consumer (It feels weird thinking about ill people as consumers). Because of this fact, costs are often considerably higher, meaning that many people cant afford treatments when they are in need. To solve this issue private insurance companies cover healthcare for a fee (some would call it an extortionate fee). Unfortunately these insurers are not particularly interested in peoples health, instead focusing more on profits. As a result of this, insurance companies often deny peoples claims fo treatment for entirley fraudulent reasons in order to minimise costs and maximise profits.

So that leads us to Obama's current proposals, the cause of all this controversy. The mistake many people are making is in thinking that Obama is trying to nationalize healthcare, he isn't. What he is in fact doing, is offering a public option for insurance, massively reducing the cost of insurance and increasing the number of claims that are met. He also intends to abolish healthcare costs for the most disadvantaged. This seems like a rather good idea, given that 46% of Americans simply cannot afford healthcare.

So why the comparison with the NHS? If any of you are familiar with the rightwing news networks in America you probably have a fair idea. What this comparison actually aims to do, is to disguise the fact that Obama is only providing public insurance, not healthcare. Why do this? Well it turns out that a lot of people inside the private insurance companies are quite scared by the thought of a cheaper more reliable coverage option (who would of thought it). Coincidentally, the rightwing news networks have a lot of links with the private insurers (yes, I am being sarcastic) and as such want to protect their interests. How better to do this than pretend that Obama is a socialist Nazi?

Ironically the media's attempts to divert people from the truth of the situation is working on exactly the kind of people it was meant to help. For the most part these people aren't well educated or particularly wealthy and their only source of information on the matter is the media. These people are being betrayed by the very people they trust and it is very deeply saddening. When you see these people on tv, storming town halls and slowing political progress it's important not to think of them as idiots or crazy people. They are very deeply scared that they are in danger of losing something, something very important and on those terms, they are sort of being rational. It's not they're fault they've been misinformed.

I'd like to make it clear that I don't have a bias towards either social or private healthcare (there are valid arguments on both sides and I'm not really in a strong position to decide which is better). However, I do have a bias towards everyone being able to get the healthcare that they need. The public option that Obama is trying to provide to the American people is a truly wonderful progression for the US and should be applauded. Anyone who doesn't trust the new option can stick with their old insurers if they wish and the people who haven't been able to receive healthcare in the past will now be able to. Hopefully this bill will pass and America will have a fully comprehensive healthcare service, then we can have a real discussion as to whether private or public healthcare is better. Until then, leave the NHS alone, it's doing the best it can.

Yet more changes.

I've now changed the background as well, which you can probably tell. So, what do you reck, any good? If you lot think it's rubbish I shall change it back forthwith.

Cheers for the input :)
Keep gaming

Ha!

Got this back in response.

"Thank you for your feed back but as explained to you earlier by myself on the phone this is NOT door to door sales and is for a managers job within our company.

Thank you for your response and for letting us know that you will not be attending the interview tomorrow."

Regards and good luck in the future.


Angela Rose
Office Manager
Dylan James Management Ltd"

What she fails to mention is that I would have been responsible for dispatching the proffesional Granny bulliers known as field representatives, as she highlighted during my call to them earlier. Don't let yourselves be fooled by these people, they're a bunch of cretinous scumholes, who'll do anything to scam you and the public out of money. Watch out for the Cobra group as well, it's all the same shit, designed to trick gullible people into signing their lives away.

Anyway, normal service shall return shortly.

Dear despicable corporate slugs

Sent this letter to a company that I was meant to be being interviewed with tomorrow afternoon, when I found out they practise in door-to-door sales.

"Sorry, but I can't shift the idea that I'm being conned. I am principled against companies participating in door-to-door sales anyway. The whole practise is entirely cynical, forcing FR's to achieve sales in order to make a living and forcing consumers to make on the spot ill-considered decisions. It doesn't help anyone involved and in my mind it is tantamount to bullying. It may well be that you can account for this morally within your own minds, but I can't.

Good luck finding people prepared to sell their souls in pursuit of money; I shouldn't think you'll have too much trouble.

Yours begrudgingly,
Alex Lacey"

I did consider adding "Fuck you, you slimy, spineless, arse weasels! Hope you enjoy bullying poor people in the future, you feckless algae eating, scum suckers, you myopic, arse-licking, poor emulations of human beings". However I felt it might be a little unsubtle.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Quick question.

Hello peeps. As you may have noticed I've massively changed the aesthetic of my blog recently and I was wondering what you all think. I was also considering changing the background, but obviously if you like it as it is I shall leave it as it is. I'd really appreciate your feedback on this one... cheers.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Space Invaders Infinity Gene Review (iphone/ipod touch)




Background

Chances are that unless you’ve been living on a different planet for the last thirty years, you probably have a pretty comprehensive idea of what Space Invaders is. For those of you who are new to Earth or are just intrigued to know what I learnt from reading Wikipedia, here’s a brief history.

Space Invaders was first unleashed onto the unsuspecting Japanese arcades back in 1978, quickly becoming the most popular game on the market. The game was so popular in fact, that it was actually reported to be responsible for a temporary shortage of 100 yen coins in Japan at that time. With this kind of success, it wasn’t long before Space Invaders saw fit to invade western arcades to a similarly warm reception.



The original king of the arcades



The game consisted of a block of equally spaced aliens, slowly inching towards the player by moving horizontally across the screen, jumping down one space when it reaches the edge and moving back in the other direction. Players were required to eliminate the invaders before they reached their base at the bottom. As the player progressed through the levels the rate at which the invaders moved, steadily increased until it became nearly impossible to progress any further. Arguably the main hook of the title was the fight for high score dominance that it inspired in highly competitive gamers.

Following its arcade success, Space Invaders has appeared on a number of different consoles in varying forms. One of the more recent reboots was a title named Space invaders Extreme, a game which aimed to maintain the same feel, whilst heavily modernizing the game play. I personally haven’t had the chance to play it yet, but Tobin and Yuzo gave it a shining review on Noobtoob episode 142 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxNREACFBSo. This leads us nicely to the subject of this review ‘Space Invaders Infinity Gene’

Review


The game starts off very similar to the original


Concept

Space Invaders Infinity Gene (SIIG) has a very similar ideology to Space Invaders Extreme when it comes to re-imagining the franchise. However this time round Taito have taken the actual game play in a significantly different direction. As some of you may have inferred from the title, SIIG puts a heavy emphasis on evolution. This involves evolving game play mechanics, an evolving ship and I’m sure Taito would argue an evolved franchise.

Game Play

SIIG begins with you playing the original arcade version of Space Invaders for roughly fifteen seconds, but then things start to change considerably. As you watch your ships Pok√©mon style evolution you are treated to a quote from Charles Darwin, which states that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”. It’s not long before you realize just how appropriate this quote is. When you are reintroduced into the game, you’ll find that your ships cannons have been improved and that the enemy attack patterns have changed. The more you play, the more level design, enemies and your ship all change. You control the ship with a touch and drag interface, with the ship automatically firing unless you elect to control it yourself. Within a few levels you’ll find yourself gaining full movement along both axis and having to get used to a vertically scrolling environment. In essence Space Invaders evolves into a shmup.


This a whole different kettle of metaphor than what you’re used to


I’m almost certain that this revelation has resulted in a number of groans out there, but fear not, SIIG is rather good at what it does. One major advantage that this title has on other titles is that it never forces to learn via rote. It’s very rare for you to be restricted to a space of a few pixels and when you are, it’s normally because you haven’t dealt with enough of the enemies. Success in SIIG results from you being dynamic in your approach, not from having a good memory. That said the action does get rather insane at times, forcing you to react really quickly. This brings me to one of the games minor annoyances. Often when you’re hovering in the middle of the screen, enemies will fly in from the side so fast that even Chuck Norris would have his ass handed to him. What this essentially means is that you are for all intents and purposes, limited to the bottom of the screen the majority of the time.


Things can get a bit hectic at times


There are seven different ships made available to you throughout the game, all of which have their own unique attack style. These include: rapid shot, search laser, wave, lock-on, gravity, round and classic. Each of these unique weapons can be improved upon by collecting chromosomes scattered around the play area, increasing shot speed, radius and number of shots.

The campaign spans across 18 levels, the majority of which have some form of ending boss attached. One interesting aspect of the campaign menu is that the menu takes the form of a tree, whereby as you unlock upgrades and extras they sprout out of the level on which they were attained. It’s a very clever way of presenting the menu and leads to the pleasant consequence, that the majority of players are going to have different menus, dependent on how they’ve played. You’re not restricted to just the campaign mode though, in fact in some senses you’re not really restricted at all. Courtesy of the 3.0 firmware, it is now possible to play along to the tracks on your device, which essentially means there are an infinite number of different scenarios that you can play through. This is quite exciting as far as I’m concerned, but I don’t think it’s reached its full potential yet. The arenas produced by your music are all varied and very cool, but what I really want from this game is to be able to compete with other player scores like in Audiosurf.

Presenation

Everything in this title reeks of quality. The retro style vector graphics look absolutely stunning throughout and the animation is consistently sleek and simple. The soundtrack is similarly pleasing… that is as long as you’re not adverse to a smattering of techno. The majority of sound effects are ripped right from the original and nicely supplement the retro theme. All in all, the presentation is just lovely.

Conclusion

So… is it worth your money, that’s the important question. Well, for a miniscule cost of £2.99 I’d say so. Space Invaders Infinity Gene is a highly charming return to a franchise that’s older than life itself (note: not factually accurate), so go and give it a chance to suck you into the world of high scores and vector graphics once again… it’s well worth your time (not unlike a more exciting version of your grandparents).

Scores

Graphics- 4.5/5
Control-4/5
Gameplay-4/5
Sound-5/5
Value for money-4.7/5
Overall-4.5/5

Two thumbs up, go and get it if you’re looking for a nice brief distraction from the gaming drought.