Wednesday 29 April 2009

Video Game Reviews

Brad Harmer’s job on this site is to review albums. Due to his intense laziness, he usually does this without listening to the album, and just goes on the cover artwork. We’re not really sure what Robert Wade’s job is on this site, but he talks about computer games a lot.
Can you imagine what would happen if Brad and Rob worked together?
Little King Story
Rob: I like this cover; he's got a face like an all-knowing pimp-type character.
Brad: It's not a million miles from some Gangsta Rap albums I've seen. "Sorry, but yo' Princess is in another castle...bitch.".
Rob: I reckon the girl on the right is his trophy 'ho'.
Brad: See, my first instinct was that this was obviously a Shining Force-esque RPG...but it's just too cutesy for that. I can't pin this down to a genre.
Rob: I reckon it's one of those strategy games like Populous, simplified down with a vague storyline.
Brad: Populous is a massively underrated game. They tried re-making it as Black And White, but unfortunately, that was more a collection of patches that came with a free game.
Rob: It's by Rising Star Games, they're pretty cool. They published a game called No More Heroes with lightsabers in it.
Brad: When should they expect the lawsuit from LucasArts?
Rob: They were careful, they called it a Beam Katana and made it rechargeable rather than a continuous stream.
Brad: Age 7+...that's practically offensive for a Nintendo game.
Rob: It probably says "Cunt" once or twice then.
Brad: That would be great. There are some really dumb guidelines like that for BBFC certifications; like you’re allowed one swear word before it bumps to a PG. Technically Mean Girls could have made reference to Lindsay Lohan being an "attention seeking cuntbag" and had the rating unaffected.
Rob: What's the equivalent of "Cunt" for 7 up?
Brad: "Fanta". What's your rating for Little King's Story?
Rob: I'll give it a 6.
Brad: 8/10 from me.
Rob: Why 8?
Brad: I don't make the rules. I just roll the d10.

World of Subways Volume 2: U7-Berlin

Rob: Okay, what the fuck?
Brad: Well, it's kind-of like a dice only it has ten sid...
Rob: This fucking game has a scoring system?
Brad: Oh, right. I know. Don't we just get the sweetest games to review? How much simulation can you get for a vehicle that can only go forward and back?
Rob: This game features "Intelligent and custom announcements”? "The train is late."... "The train's here."... "Get on the fucking train.". I kind of actually want to play this game, just to see if it's as hilariously bad as it seems.
Brad: It's the listing of "Compatible with Rail Driver Cab Controller" as a feature that really tells you about their target market. I can picture this fat dude hunched over a laptop in his Mum's basement, a half-eaten hoagie resting on a greasy thigh as he slowly eases the train out of the station...then goes straight online to complain about the response time on the GF22 peripheral as opposed to the GC28.
Rob: The guy's probably masturbating furiously as well, don't forget that.
Brad: With a niche market like this, plus Internet access, I had figured that that was a given.
I bet he's a Eurogamer as well. They're all closet paedophiles
Rob: "Free movement in the tunnels and on the track"? It's one fucking subway line. It's like having World of Subways 2: Volume 8: Jubilee Line.
Brad: You know what would make a better game? World of Subways: Steak & Cheese. The terrifying thing is that this is "Volume 2", indicating not only that the previous game was successful enough to justify a sequel, but also that there is the hope of more instalments to follow.
Rob: I dare say it doesn't have the user base of The Sims.
Brad: "Simulation of wear and tear caused by style of operation (can be selected via options)". You can't deny that this is going to be a fucking detailed simulation. Just don't buy a second hand copy. It will have semen on it.
Rob: Oh, definitely. It's not the detail I’m quibbling, it's everything else. Jesus, the specifications on this game are ridiculously high. Having said that, the type of person that has a high-spec PC is probably their demographic target. Because they're not spending money on trying to get laid.
Brad: Or moving out of their Mum's basement. Or indeed spending money on anything other than these games, Subway Driver Monthly, Agricola and child porn.
Rob: This game represents a level of commitment to transportation infrastructure that I've been unable to make, can we review it and move on so I can stop feeling guilty?
Brad: I'm not rolling my dice for this one. I think it deserves a ten. If this thing is your bag - you should own this game. Let's face it, you aren't going to find a better simulation.
Rob: Yeah, that's a sound argument...But it's not my bag, so 3.

Russel Grant Astrology

Brad: Good old Nintendo.
Rob: No fucking way. How does that work? Aren't horoscopes an ever-changing invented dynamic?
Brad: Well, kind-of, I guess. All you have to do it predict where the stars will be for next five-years or so, and it's as good as any prediction book. And bar a solar flare or attack from the Yuuzhan-Vong, I think it'd be fairly kosher.
Rob: Can you imagine the relationship horoscopes? "If you have a relationship, bearing in mind you spent 4 hours 'playing' this yesterday, it's not going well!". "Three addictive minigames based on astrology"
Brad: To be fair, there is a lack of mini-games on Nintendo systems. Sorry, did I say "lack"? I meant "plague". Getting Baron Harkonnen to pose for the cover was a strange choice. Score?
Rob: I see....a 4
Brad: 2


Rob: "Unlimited play". Isn't this technically a screensaver?
Brad: I can't decide if "FishDom" is either: a) a fetish thing, where either you get fishes all dolled up in gimpsuits, spanking them, making them pee themselves and so on... b) a fetish thing, where you get all dressed up as a fish and get a woman to put you in a gimpsuit, spank you, make you pee yourself and so on, or c) an enlightened state of being.
Rob: With a short memory.
Brad: "Loads of levels of puzzle fun"..."Hey Gary, how many levels did we put in this thing?" "I don’t know...loads, I guess...” The cover promises "A Finn-tastic game full of fishy fun!” If I was from Finland, I would find that offensive. The scary thing is that some people will buy this game.
Rob: Even scarier is that some of those people won't also buy Dawn of War II. See, this game has technical specifications that fit better with my idea of how this game sounds.
Brad: Windows 98 as a minimum requirement? Hilarious!
Rob: I find the concept of upgrading fish-tanks confusing.
Brad: Score for this one?
Rob: I'm going to go with 5, because anything that doesn't need Vista is a bonus.
Brad: Five here, too.

Pool Hall Pro

Rob: Well, it's functional, does all the basics of a cover. There are balls, pockets and part of a cue.
Brad: This game lets me earn cash and pimp out my crib. You know why I like that? Because it's the first time ever that a video game adaptation of pool will let me do something that real life pool can't.
Rob: Only because you're shit at pool.
Brad: But of course! I play video games of things I'm shit at. I can't play guitar that well, but I can play Guitar Hero. I can't run and tackle, but I can play Madden. I can't ice skate but I'm leading the fucking Maple Leafs to victory on NHL09. Explain to me what the fucking point of playing a video game of something you already do in real life would be? Who wants to play Let's Go Grocery Shopping? GTA: Parallel Parking? Imagine: The Ironing? The sad thing is that all of those three look perfectly at home in the Nintendo release schedule.
Rob: You know that Shopping Mama is coming, you just know it. There is a GTA game for DS, it's apparently rather good.
Brad: How much violence had to be cut out before Nintendo would give it its Seal of Wuss?
Rob: I have no idea.
Brad: Back to my point about pool games. I have never understood the appeal of them. All of the effort spent on learning to play them could lead to a similar achievement in real life pool with a 1:1 ratio. That's not like Madden where you can do a month's worth of training in five minutes.
Rob: Especially on Wii, as the controls are unique and innovative. Just like all Wii games.
Brad: I think that all pinball video games suffer from the same problem. On a related note, have you ever considered changing your name to Mitth'raw'nuruodo?
Rob: More than once. I figured I'd give it a go on Facebook, see if it sticks.
Brad: Cool.

Hysteria Hospital Emergency Ward

Brad: I'm not sure what's more disturbing. The fact that the patient has his foot stuck in a fishbowl, or the fact that he also appears to have faeces smeared across his mouth. The guy in the bottom right seems to be laughing at the purchaser of this game.
Rob: I think he's behind it personally
Brad: Still, nice to see Gillian Anderson working again.
Rob: "Each of the patients have humorous conditions". Yeah, that's a well known distinction in medical circles.
Brad: "I've good news, Mr Philips. The results are back, and your tumour is hilarious."
Rob: Malignant, Benign or slapstick?
Brad: Laughter is the best medicine, I guess. Unless you're Jade Goody. 'Cause I laughed fucking hard, and it didn't help anyway. There are a lot of colons turning up in games. It always makes them look hopeful for a franchise. Like Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward is going to lead to Hysteria Hospital: Maternity Ward and Hysteria Hospital: Colonoscopy Chaos.
Rob: I personally can't wait for Hysteria Care Home. This is due out on DS also.
Brad: Don't say that too loud. Imagine: Old Lady's Ass Wiper is only a few months away. With Imagine: Catheter Cleaner to follow.
Rob: Ouch. That'd fit the DS and Wii controls though.
Brad: So many Wii games come up with the controls first and then they build a shitty collection of mini-games around it. I'm still waiting for everyone to realise how shitty the Wii is.
Rob: It'll be a while, people seem to like it.
Brad: Because "Popular" means the same thing as "Good". Score?
Rob: I'm gonna go with a 5
Brad: 9.
Rob: 9? Seriously?
Brad: Yeah.
Rob: Are you mental? I suppose it fits actually. Never mind.

Brad: It's time for a new section: Peripheral Corner!

JOG: The Body Motion Controller

Rob: I don't even understand what this does.
Brad: Well, that's my point. Here're its features: When you move... your game character moves. Add-on controller that detects body motion...
Rob: Wait...
Brad: Compatible with existing Wii games... Plugs straight into your existing Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
Rob: I'm sceptical of this whole shebang.
Brad: ... Simple operation combines fitness and fun... Basically, that has just described a standard Wii controller, hasn't it? I don't understand what this is actually adding to the proceedings.
Rob: No, me neither.
Brad: So...I don't get it. Why would you pay £29.99 for something that does nothing? Unless you're already dumb enough to have bought a Wii, I guess. Then you'll buy anything. I'm not even rolling for this. It's a 1 from me.
Rob: I'm going to give it a 1 as well, I think. I have proof that not all terrible peripheral ideas are on Wii. Would you like to see?
Brad: Sure. Go for it.

CH Throttle Quadrant

Brad: Yeah, Flight Simulator geeks have a rank somewhere just below people who play the Star Trek RPG.
Rob: Do you reckon, like the subway game, they have different routes and airlines?
Brad: "Compatible with all Windows based games". Does that include MineSweeper?
Rob: Presumably. I'd be interested to see how Spider Solitaire works.
Brad: I still can't play that game. I think you have to be a Dad to be able to play it.
Rob: Some sort of elderly relative at least...
Brad: "Now, gamers and pilots alike can experience the most realistic simulated flight control available". I'm fairly sure the words "and pilots alike" are irrelevant in that sentence. This is only £159.99. Bargain.
Rob: Compared to what? Starting an airline?
Brad: I'm not convinced the peripheral should ever cost more that the game.
Rob: Sadly, I suspect there are some versions of flight simulators which work out more expensive.

Xploder Parental GameLock

Brad: ...
Rob: ...
Brad: ...
Rob: ...
Brad: ...
Rob: ...
Brad: ...
Rob: ...
Brad: ...
Rob: ...
Brad: I'm trying to come up with a Josef Fritzl joke, are you?
Rob: Unsuccessfully, yeah.

Friday 24 April 2009

Music Reviews

More music reviews for you now, with the quality of the entire package judged solely on the cover artwork. It's the only fair way.

Various Artist - HedKandi: Spring Mix

I think this is an album about conjoined twins, joined at the ear. There are these two clubbing chicks, right, and they love nothing more that clubbing it old school, over a tie-dye background. They have really shitty taste in jewellery and very, very shiny dresses...ah, fuck it, I can't make this fly. It's dance music for fuckwits to play loud out of their Vauxhall Novas, isn't it?

I don't get the dance music thing. I mean, with only (at most) ten exceptions, the entire genre is artistically moribund. I always find that no matter the song, no matter the artist, no matter what part I listen to - I always know what the next chord is going to be. They've been milking the same fucking four-chord progressions for over twenty years now...and people are still fucking buying it! I can understand dancing to dance music (hey, cool, if that's what you're into), but I can't understand listening to it.

I am getting off of the real subject here, which is, of course, conjoined twins. The most famous pair of conjoined twins of all time are Chang and Eng Bunker, whose in a totally non-racist way led to the condition acquiring the common name "Siamese Twins". And, let me tell you, the Bunker Boys led a truly crazy life.

Chang and Eng: four legs, two arms, two penises, one liver

Chang and Eng were born in 1811 in Thailand to a fisherman and his wife. They were joined at the sternum by only a small piece of cartilage. And a liver. Although 19th century medicine did not have the means to do so, modern surgical techniques would have easily allowed them to be separated. In 1829, they were "discovered" in Siam by a British merchant and put on show. You know why? Because people really knew what to do with people with laughable congenital conditions in those days. You know what happened when they terminated their contract with their discoverer? They successfully went into business for themselves. Because people with laughable congenital conditions really knew their place in those days.

In 1839, while visiting North Carolina, the twins became US citizens. And here's where it gets weird.

During their time there, the Bunker Boys bought a plantation and some slaves...married two different women and had no less than twenty-one children between them. When the two wives began bitching about each other The Bunker Boyz bought two seperate houses to keep them in, and set up a three-days-on-three-days-off rota between the two wives. If you're having girl problems, I feel bad for you, son. I've got ninety-nine problems, but at least I can lay claim to my own liver.

*Rob, I need a tasteless Zaphod Beeblebrox joke here*

Now, if you're a conjoined twin, the question of how your sex lives are going to progress has to be resolved fairly early. Whilst you're teenagers, you're probably thinking that it's going to be pretty much non-stop kinky manger-et-troises. Then you get the point where it becomes damn awkward. Then, you agree to just go quiet so that your brother can have some privacy. Then, he breaks the agreement by asking you to pass the tissues, because you're right there, and he doesn't see the point in rolling over, because that's too much effort and will quite frankly, inconvenience you even further.

Then, when the shoe is on the other foot, you realise that he already has the tissues, and is masturbating quietly. - 7/10

You Should Really Be Into: Mitch Hedberg

It may come as no surprise to you to learn that I'm a fan of quite a few different stand-up comedians. There are several reasons for this, as you'll generally find that someone who's into the performance side of stand-up comedy has quite a varied palate. That, and it saves inadvertently ripping off someone's routine, and can obviously save you making any effort whatsoever if you find that another comedian has done a routine that's better than most of your shit combined. Incidentally, I blame my recent lack of productivity on one man: Mitch Hedberg.

Mitch Hedberg's stand-up career spanned just 16 years and 3 studio albums. However, he became one of the most successful American comedians on late night US TV, appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman no fewer than ten times. Not a bad career, considering that his rise to stardom was hampered by a premature death from drugs, as well as stage fright. Let me just go back into that sentence and pull out something I feel is key. Mitch Hedberg performed for sixteen years despite stage fright. Is that something you could say equally of Sam Kinison or Bill Hicks? I very much think not!

In all seriousness, as a stand-up comedian, occasionally I get a really good idea for a one-line joke and feel pretty proud of myself. Mitch Hedberg should have been a complete prick by that logic, but everything you will ever see of him will make you think he's the kind of guy you'd have liked to hug. If you don't believe me, look for yourself...

The problem I face as a stand-up comedian is that with somebody like Mitch Hedberg, there is no subject he considered too bizarre to do a one-liner on. I leave you with a photo sent to me by my E14 colleague Brad, which encompasses one of Hedberg's most irreverent and yet most hilarious observations:

"An escalator can never break; it can only become stairs. You would never see an 'Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order' sign, just 'Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.'"

Buy Mitch Hedberg CDs in the Emotionally 14 Store

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Music Reviews

More music reviews for you now, with the quality of the entire package judged solely on the cover artwork. It's the only fair way.

Fightstar - Be Human

Here's a scinillating cover, all right. A half-cow-half-woman could technically work as a cover. It's intriguing. It's arty. It's potentially interesting.

Not like this though. This cow-woman just looks do terribly bored with the album. This cow-woman looks like she's posed for so many albums that if she does just one more, she's going to go postal. Or at least, she would, if she had the energy. She might sigh, light up an Embassy and think about how life would have been different if she'd had the foresight not to be half a cow. - 1/10

Asher Roth - Asleep In The Bread Isle

This is what the world needs - MORE comedy rap acts. Because Goldie Lookin' Chain just wasn't enough for us.

This is a great album cover though. I love the way that the photographer has heard the name of the album and come up with something really subtle and not shit.

And isn't Asher Roth the country in Warcraft? - 7/10

Booker T - Potato Hole

Oh, you are fucking kidding me, right? Just because he's Booker T he can put out a thinly veiled allusion to Goatse.Cx as an album cover? Fuck right off. If I did that, there'd be a fucking outrage. And believe me, I know. I speak from experience. - 8/10

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Newsfalsh! - April 2009

Welcome to Newsfalsh!, the look at the stories which may have passed you by in the news.

Presenter sorry over teeth jibe

So apparently TV pundits have been so firmly declawed by the media's counterfeit worries about being offensive that you're not even allowed to joke about somebody's teeth. I would like to point out a few things that I feel are important distinctions that need to be addressed.

Firstly, the guy actually does have horrendous teeth. It's not like she was stating a falsehood or anything. The guy's teeth are in rough shape. Besides which, she said "well, at least now you've got the money to get them done if you want". That's quite nice in my opinion, he may not have thought of that before she said anything.

Secondly, he obviously wasn't offended, as he went on to say that he could probably have them done now, but that he may be jinxing himself, perhaps thinking of his teeth as a lucky charm. They look a bit like Lucky Charms, the old breakfast cereal, in that some of them appear green.

It should incidentally be noted that the only thing this heavily sugared breakfast cereal has done to the leprachaun who loves them so much is fused his teeth into one solid mass on each gum. I'm no medical expert, but that actually seems more convenient to me.

I might also point out that the comment received only 1500 complaints. That's about 10,000 complaints short of anything interesting having happened, like nudity or guns. 1,500 complaints is the controversy equivalent of a vicar referring to the Lord as Golly by mistake. Besides which, you just KNOW that the people complaining all had royally horrendous teeth as well, possibly even sufficiently to rival our loveable Lucky Charms mascot himself.

As if all this compelling debate isn't enough to sway you that this is not actually something anybody needs to worry about, just look at the woman who made the comments. If you ever feel you genuinely have anything to fear from her, it's fairly certain that you're a cake.

'Worst song' Agadoo re-released

This article gives a clear indication of everything that is currently wrong with the UK, and indeed a large amount of what is wrong with the world. This is a subject I feel fairly strongly about, the pursuit of the utmost mediocrity that this country represents. In so many ways, we reward mediocrity rather than excellence, from our obsession with reality TV stars in trash magazines to things like this.

It's important to note that not only was this song voted the WORST SONG EVER in 2003 by a panel of music critics (meaning that subjective opinion can't even be used as an argument to dismiss it nearly as effectively as if it was just one person's opinion), it wasn't even number 1 in the charts when it was released. It was a failure then, even by its contemporary fans in 1984.

What is it about this country that makes us so desperate for nostalgia that we'll even take the dregs? Perhaps nostalgia offers some sort of 'rose-coloured glasses' mentality. Maybe we're desperate for older stuff because newer stuff is shit. Either way, if you end up owning a copy of this re-released abomination, consider yourself mentally bereft.

I'm now just baiting my breath for Timmy Mallett's lifetime achievement award from the NME in 2010. I suppose it's a relief that even after 25 years, I feel like Black Lace have been mentioned to me fewer times than half the dross plugged to death by the music press year after year.

Pet Shop Boys reject Peta request

This is the story that the Pet Shop Boys were formally approached by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) - I've always wondered about this; Why is it People, and not some sort of organisation or society? Can they be bothered to organise themselves? THERE ARE KITTENS' LIVES AT STAKE DAMNIT!!

Besides that, how the hell can they justify changing band names to something a bit like them?What's next, Dexy's 12a.m Runners? Svelte Lizzy? Cyan Oyster Cult?

And finally, a few headlines that caught my eye while browsing for the stories you enjoy...

"High-speed sex costly in Norway"

That probably means I could make a killing in Scandinavia...

"Cliff death man 'posed for photo'"

Unfortunately, they don't make a camera with a high enough shutter speed to counteract gravity.

"One dead in pie factory explosion"

They reckon it was Mr Creosote from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.