Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Top 100 games of all time

Another utterly worthless post to keep this blog from heading down the gutter. This time a top 100 games of all time, that I have ever bothered to play.

I didn't put much thought into the list. Who would? It isn't a serious list, just a list of games I love(d), as of November 2006. It doesn't include pretentious games that many people pretend to like though. Also, not all that made the list, I would even consider twice of playing again. For example F-Zero was great and I had fond memories of it, but will I ever play it again? Hell no. It has aged rather badly me thinks (faux 3D games tends to do that).

I did think hard (for like 10 minutes) of ranking the top 10 games though and why I love them. Commentary on the top 5 (because I am lazy enough not to justify the latter five).

List updated as of May 2008

1. Total Annihilation (PC, Cavedog Entertainment, 1997)
- This is the ultimate game as far as I am concerned. When I first played this many many years ago, I had no idea that it would ever lodge
Red Alert from my top RTS game list, but it did. Incredible graphics (even in this day), soundtrack and huge maps. Enemy A.I. was a bit patchy, but so what? The cool thing about this game was building up a massive army (hundreds) of cyber robots and watching the mayhem as they destroy the pitiful enemies. This game rocks, and still rock hard today. I pity the fools who prefers StarCraft over this.

2. Chrono Trigger (SNES, Square Co., 1995)
- Still the greatest RPG ever made, Chrono Trigger, while short, featured multiple ending due to the non-linear gameplay offered through time traveling.

3. Final Fantasy VI (SNES, Square Co. 1994)
- While not too dissimilar with fanboy favourite
Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VI was without doubt a much better game. Nothing more nothing less. That is of course my opinion.

4. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (PS2, Square Enix/tri-Ace, 2006)
- Without a doubt one of the best RPG game in recent history. The sequel to the fantastic PS1 game eschews jRPG cliché for a more modern uptake on the stale genre.

5. Final Fantasy XII (PS2, Square Enix, 2006)
- The developers of
Final Fantasy XII with much flair, revamped the series for the PS2's final Fantasy swansong. Purist may hate it, but this is destined to be a classic.

6. Command & Conquer: Red Alert (PC, Westwood Studios, 1996)
- Who could ever forget playing
Red Alert on those creaky Windows 95 Pentium machines, cranking up the speakers to full blast whenever 'Hell March' plays, annoying the neighbours at the same time? The sequel to another masterpiece, gameplay hasn't really aged well, but the graphics (made up of 2D sprites over 3D isometric plane) still hold up well.

7. Rollercoaster Tycoon (PC, Chris Sawyer, 1999)
- It is quite shocking that such a behemoth of a game was developed by a single man who was obssessed with rollercoaster, which in turn turned many of us into obsessed
Rollercoaster Tycoon gamers - with so many sleepless night wasted trying to create the most insane rollercoaster there is.

8. Gyakuten Saiban 3 (DS, Capcom Production Studio 4, 2007)
- An utterly bonkers of a game, yet a fine example that text adventure role playing genre can still do well.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GCN, Nintendo EAD, 2003)
- If I was a well known guy and this was a well known list,
Zelda fanboys would be sending threats due to my ranking of Wind Waker higher than Ocarina of Time. Fortunately this is the internet and such a simpleton like me isn't important enough to warrant an assault. Put it simply, in my opinion, OoT has aged rather badly, whereas Wind Waker, like an old Disney classic, still looks stunning (granted it is newer after all).

10. Soul Calibur (DC, Namco, 1999)
- When I got the Dreamcast for the low price of 20 quid, I bought three games with it, all original, and all at a fiver a piece. This was one of it. Beautifully executed moves were a joy to create. Maybe I should start looking for my old Dreamcast again.

11. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2, Team-Ico)
12. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2, Level-5/Square-Enix)
13. ICO (PS2, SCEI)
14. Metal Gear Solid (PSX, Konami Computer Entertainment Japan)
15. God of War (PS2, SCEA)

The rest (in alphabetical order):

Advance Wars (GBA, Intelligent Systems)
Age of Empires (PC, Ensemble Studios)
American McGee's Alice (PC, Rogue Entertainment)
Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS, Nintendo)
Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA, Treasure)
Battle City (NES, Namco)
Beach Life (PC, Deep Red)
Bubble Bobble (NES, Taito)
Caesar III (PC, Impressions Games)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1, Konami)
Command & Conquer (PC, Westwood)
Commandos 2: Men of Courage (PC, Pyro Studios)
Contact (DS, Grasshopper Manufacture)
Contra (NES, Konami)
Crazy Taxi (DC, Hitmaker)
Dead or Alive 2 (DC, Team Ninja)
Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive (PC, Spellbound)
Dino Crisis (DC, Capcom Production Studio 4)
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PS2, Nippon Ichi)
Doom (PC, id Software)
Double Dragon II (NES, Technos Japan)
Dragon Quest III (SNES, Enix)
Empire Earth (PC, Stainless Steel Studios)
Final Fantasy IV (SNES, Square)
F-Zero (SNES, Nintendo)
God of War II (PS2, SCEA Santa Monica)
Golden Sun (GBA, Camelot)
Gradius (NES, Konami)
Gunstar Heroes (SMD, Treasure)
Half-Life (PC, Valve)
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town (GBA, Marvelous)
Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 (PC, Ritual Entertainment)
Hexen (PC, Raven Software)
Hitman: Codename 47 (PC, IO Interactive)
Ice Climber (NES, Nintendo)
killer7 (GCN, Capcom Production Studio 4/Grasshopper Manufacture)
Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA, HAL)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES, Nintendo)
The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (GBA, Flagship)
Lode Runner (NES, Hudson)
Max Payne (PC, Remedy Entertainment)
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (PC, 2015, Inc.)
Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (PC, Lucas Arts)
Mortal Kombat II (SNES, Sculptured Software)
Mother 2/Earthbound (SNES, HAL)
No One Lives Forever (PC, Monolith)
Okami (PS2, Clover)
Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan (DS, iNiS)
Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast (PS2, Sumo Digital)
Paperboy (NES, Mindscape)
Parasite Eve (PS1, SquareSoft)
Populous: The Beginning (PC, Bullfrog)
Prince of Persia (PC, Broderbund)
Quake (PC, id Software)
Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Wii, Capcom Production Studio 4)
Resident Evil Code: Veronica (DC, Capcom Production Studio 4)
Return to Castle Wolfenstein (PC, Gray Matter Interactive)
Sam & Max Episodes Season One (PC, Telltale Games)
The Secret of Monkey Island (PC, Lucasfilm Games)
Seiken Densetsu: Secret of Mana (SNES, Square)
Sensible Soccer (PC, Sensible Software)
Shenmue (DC, Sega AM2)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (PS2, Atlus)
Shogo Mobile Armor Division (PC, Monolith)
Shogun: Total War (PC, Creative Assembly)
SimCity 2000 (PC, Maxis)
SiN (PC, Ritual Entertainment)
Snails (PDA, PDAMill)
Sonic the Hedgehog (SMD, Sonic Team)
Suikoden III (PS2, Konami)
Super Bomberman (SNES, Hudson)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, Nintendo)
Super Metroid (SNES, Nintendo)
Street Fighter II (Arcade, Capcom)
Tales of Phantasia (GBA, Namco)
Tetris (GB, Nintendo)
Trauma Center: Under the Knife (DS, Atlus)
Unreal Tournament (PC, Epic)
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (PS2, tri-Ace)
Viewtiful Joe (GCN, Capcom Production Studio 4)
WipEout Pulse (PSP, Sony Studio Liverpool)
The World Ends With You (DS, Square Enix)
Xenogears (PS1, SquareSoft)
Yakuza (PS2, SEGA)

DC: Dreamcast
DS: Nintendo DS
GB: Game Boy
GBA: Game Boy Advance
GCN: GameCube
SMD: Sega Megadrive/Genesis
N64: Nintendo 64
NES: Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom
PC: Windows PC/DOS
PDA: Pocket PC/PalmOS
PS2: PlayStation 2
PSX: PlayStation
SNES: Super Nintendo/Super Famicom

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tabloid victory over Rule of Rose

Just had the misfortune to watch a couple of minutes of the gross Madonna Confessions Tour on Channel 4. Ugh. Didn't even bother to wait for the hypocritical religious critique.

Am getting my arse pwned in Final Fantasy III by entering the Forbidden Land Eureka before I was ready. It is a great place to level up and earn some gils though.

Sticking with gaming, thanks to several right wing tabloids, a Japanese game titled Rule of Rose has been shelved for any UK release. Although not banned by the government (it received a PEGI rating of '16' after all), publisher 505 Games (the same publisher of that bible 'game') has decided to pander to media pressure and canned the UK release, which means until some other brave publisher picks it up, the UK gamers has to import to play it.

Reviews of the game has been mixed but when I showed the clips to Jenni a couple of weeks ago, we found that we were interested in a game that allows us to play as an underage British school girl, hacking away at her peers. The game must be good then, and the macabre style reminds me a lot of American McGee's Alice - a game that I enjoyed.

For some time we gamers this side of the Atlantic, has been pretty lucky to be spared the moralistic crusade by politicians attempting to blame violence on video games, much like what has been happening in the US for a number of years. I think the BBFC and PEGI has been doing an outstanding job in rating games effectivel. Obviously some EU twit down in Brussels thought otherwise, calling for changes in the way PEGI issues rating, evoking a sense of deja-vu to those who follows the US gaming scene, where Hillary Clinton et al. is attempting to pursue changes to the ESRB rating system.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Media circus

What is it that this woman does not understand? Nobody is banning you from wearing your bloody cross while on work. They are just requesting you to hide it under your garment. The problem isn't about her right to be with her religion (I say that with a shudder), but her attempt to preach:
"It is important to wear it to express my faith so that other people will know that Jesus loves them."
Like I gave a damn about whether a dead guy I never met loves me. Wear your cross all you want, but also abide by your employers' rules by wearing them inside. This whole media circus is sickening, but is partly to do with BA's hypocritical attitude as well.

Thankfully we will have another media circus to moan about. Attention seeker David Blaine is attempting to... well I can't be bothered to type it all down. David, we used to watch your street magic on the telly. If you want to continue with stunts rather than continue with magic tricks, why not do it here? Surely in merry ol' London you will have a hell a lot more media attention, what with the Londoners way of greeting the likes of you.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Final Fantasy III DS remake review

Fans of old school Final Fantasy RPGs knows what to expect when they unwrap that shrinkwrap that adorns a newly purchased Final Fantasy classic - deformed characters, knights and wizards, fantasy setting, airships, kawaii protagonists etc. And lucky for many of us, Squenix did a faithful remake of a game, that has been absent from any sort of official English release for 16 years. And no, they did not replace the four orphaned characters with Cloud-like emo characters. Thankfully.

Final Fantasy III DS begins with an earthquake, which causes protagonist Luneth to fall into the Altar Cave nearby the village of Ur, where he grew up. After battling a number of burly enemies, he is summoned by the Wind Crystal, who immediately tasked him the extreme burden of saving the world. Rounding up his fellow Warriors of Light team, Luneth and his new mates set off, exploring the floating continent in which they live, and attempting to restore balance to the world.

First impressions counts and when Final Fantasy III DS is booted, a nice pre-rendered clips opens the game. FMV clips are all good but pre-rendered clips doesn't mean squat to gameplay and thankfully Square Enix decided to only limit the FMV to the intro, and instead put more effort into retooling the in-game engine. Here we have something similar to that of Final Fantasy IX - with all those cute super deformed characters. Character designs, while in 3D now, are still positively 'Famicom like'.

FF III has never been a character driven game (those are reserved for even numbered Final Fantasy games - applies only to pre-Playstation era) but for the DS remake, the developers added background stories and personalities to each of the four protagonists. You do get a surly character, but be thankful that at least he isn't an emo nut. Even then FF III DS is first and foremost a technical RPG, and not the plot driven melodramatic narrative is could have been.

The graphics here are fantastic and I am glad that Squenix has decided to retain the deformed look. Facial animations and expressions on our cute little characters are even evident during cut scenes (which uses the game engine). All characters are in full 3D and the surrounding areas are a mixture of pre-rendered sprites and polygons (with lovely textures). The developers at Matrix Software really took advantage of everything the DS has to offer. The only complaint I had was, in order to get things smoothly, top screen is switched off for most of the time. It would have been nice to have either a dungeon map/stat page on the top (like Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow).

Battle system is still old school menu driven turn based combat, which could potentially put people off (especially those introduced to the series during the PS era). Some has complained that Square Enix did not bother to update the combat system to reflect that of more modern Final Fantasy games, or that it is too difficult (mainly by western reviewers). I have to admit I was never a huge fan of menu driven combat games but with FF III and it's whole loads of customisation, I really embraced it. Battles can be hard at first (not helped by not featuring a save system in the dungeons), especially with those irksome random battles, but hei, you do need to level up. The game can also be played with either stylus or face buttons.

The job system is most impressive. Supposedly overhauled from the original 8-bit version, FF III DS features (as Squenix marketing maintained in an EGM ad I saw) 279,841 possible party configurations. As many of you know the job system debuted in FF III and I am glad that Square Enix only tinkered with it slightly, by balancing the system and adding a couple of new jobs. You do get penalties for switching jobs but only for the first few battles. It is complex and frustrating, but it is also an utterly addictive system which rewards players with results.

So is Final Fantasy III worth the 16 year wait? You bet. This is a great return to the old school fantasy pre-PlayStation RPG we all love, and a fine example of how not to screw up a remake. If Square Enix plans to remake more games (Chrono *cough* Trigger) then they should do so with the same loving care as they applied on this. Import this today.


Buy now from Play-Asia or Amazon UK

Update: Check out this chibi Final Fantasy III toys!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stanmer Down bike ride again + Casino Royale thingy

Went to Ditchling Beacon again today. Great weather (up till mid afternoon). There was also a cycling competition down at Stanmer Park through the hilly hills - using road bikes with knobbly tires. Weird. I am glad that there were many other ordinary MTBers out today as well.

Met Marcus and Sybille at the Beacon. They biked from Lewes. Marcus has a fab new bike, a Canyon (Internet only German frame builder) Nerve XC full-susser. Looks fantastic and the kits that came with it were pretty decent. Highlights includes Manitou branded front and rear fork, Shimano XT rear and front mech, Deore shifters and cranks etc. You can't find sub £1000 FS bikes in the UK with that sort of components. Doesn't change that my dream bike is still either a Kona Kula Primo or Specialized Stuntjumper Pro though. ;)

Also watched Casino Royale. Summary: Above average film (though a bit too long) but a bad Bond film nonetheless. Okay, the film is supposed to explore the origins of James Bond. But somehow Daniel Craig's edgy version of James Bond came out as unlikeable thug. And the villains were such whimps - lame! Bring back Pierce is all I can say. Savvy, cool, smooth, clever and a gentleman were all I ever associate with the modern Bond. Now I have to include thuggish, smug, prat, childish etc. to it while deleting many of the many positive aspects usually associated with Britain's top fictional spy.

Go Happy Feet.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nintendo Wii first impressions

Tried the Wii out today with four games - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, WarioWare, Wii Sports and Wii Play. The new Zelda looked amazing and despite rendering only in 576p, looked 'next-gen' to me. Not as great as those high-res PC games but still looked amazing.

From what I noticed I think Nintendo is on a win here. Most of those who crowded around to give the Wii a shot were parents with young kids. Never have I seen parents actually sit down and play video games with their children. And all of them were loving it, so it seems Nintendo's strategy of targeting adults and 'casual gamers' are working. The 'hardcore gamers' were crowding the Zelda set, but they were also having fun with Wii Sport (free in the UK) and Wii Play.

The WiiMote is amazingly small, yet heavy enough to be comfortable. If Ninty plays their cards right, they can actually win this 'casual gamers' argument and take the next gen crown. The Wii deserves nothing less.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tabloid style ranting

Good to know that the Church of England is still capable of making pointless and crazy statements. I thought with the liberal Rowan Williams they have become fairly rational and maybe capable of leaving us non-believers alone. Not so thanks to Dr John Sentamu, the archbishop of York, who thinks he can wade in and put his 2 penny piece of trash talk - first by attacking seculars and then chipping in his opinion that Muslim women should not wear veil. Actually it was something I agree with, but for a different reasons to his. He is an anglican archbishop, so his views are already biased anyway. It's not like people are clamoring for the banning of crosses, dog collars, jewish skull caps (and side burns), catholic nun uniforms, buddhists robes etc. are they now?

And please please stop the attack on TV and the BBC. The BBC is the only network who continues broadcasting live religious sermons from churches on Sundays and is where most of us see the inside of a church - like ever.

I see that Mayor Ken is planning to kill of Chelsea tractors by charging residents 25 quid a day on congestion charge. Wonderful. It is about time somebody took action against these practically useless vehicles. I have never seen why many Londoners would even need a 4x4 (just like I can't see the point of owning a 4"-6" full sussers as a commuting bike - but at least they don't pollute) when most of them are owned by "soccer mums" for the purpose of school runs. 4x4 has its uses - in the countryside! But not in the city.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Games Games Games

I am going to blog about games today.

I can never understand why people bother to play FPS games on consoles. F.E.A.R. was just released on the 360 and why ruin the experience with a bog-standard pad, when you can get the PC version (now cheap) and run it down with a good old WASD+mouse combo. I did give the N64's Goldeneye a go before and it was an okay game (flame me) - but even with its then-revolutionary analog stick, the N64 pad was not cut it for FPS games. It is like trying to play Quake on an IBM laptop with its nipple mouse.

Developers try to compensate with the lack of precision with built-in auto lock, but in my experience it is usually hit and miss. So far nothing I have tried - PS pad, Dreamcast, GameCube etc. has changed my mind on joypads. They work well on third person mode (eg. Resident Evil 4), 2D and racing games. I think I would prefer to keep my PC just a bit longer for that odd shooter - at least until competent shooters arrive on the Wii platform.

I have serious game withdrawal now, having completed Gyakuten Saiban 2, and getting stuck in Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana. Speaking of DS games, the new NFS: Carbon is much better than the two previous and rather dreadful DS build. Not something I would plok down £30, or even £20 for, but at least it is a vast improvement. I still won't be getting it. I don't 'get' all the drifting culture and I absolutely hate the soundtrack. I guess the last true NFS game I truly enjoyed was NFS: Porsche Unleased before they started concentrating on all the Underground crap.

I was also down at HMV Haymarket the other day. They have serious issues when it comes to ripping people off. An example would be £30 they were asking for Brain Training. Other stores, and indeed other HMVs are selling them for the recommended £20 (which is still a rip-off when you can import it for less).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Stanmer Down trail map

Having a blogger's block, so I thought of a way to keep my blog updated without resorting to some sort of diatribe. Haha.

Here is a map of a loop that we love to ride during weekends when we are too lazy to go somewhere else but just want to get on the saddle. We usually ride the extra 3.5 miles from Jenni's place to the starting point outside University of Sussex, but it is also accessible by train (Falmer Station). If you are driving, there are car parks at Stanmer Park and Ditchling Beacon (top right corner).

Screenshots based on maps reproduced from Ordnance Survey 1: 25,000 mapping © Crown copyright. All rights reserved.

The track, at nine miles, is fairly short and simple - though there are plenty of ascents and scenic views over the Weald to look forward to. If this isn't enough, you can always continue westwards of Ditchling Beacon towards Devil's Dyke and do another loop there. ;)

In other news, a mate lent me Feels by Animal Collective. I copied the tracks to my portable DAP but soon forgot about it. I was listening to the Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra album yesterday and dozed off midway (I was in a coach). It reached the end and started playing the first folder it found, which was Animal Collective. I woke up and found tracks after tracks simply amazing. Not sure how to describe it so I thought I would pinch some of Amazon UK's review: "Feels is a big, daring collection with recurring themes of psychedelia, folk-rock, prog-rock, jazz, and modern classical composition." This is just fantastic stuff.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

MTB Bike Ride: Cuckoo Trail

Went down to Polegate today with Jenni and Tony and did the Cuckoo Trail. The trail begins at Polegate and passes through Hailsham, Hellingly, Horam and Heathfield and is built on the original Cuckoo Line (opened in 1880) Polegate to Eridge railway track. Shared by walkers and horseriders, the Cuckoo Trail is now also part of the National Cycle Network 21 and takes you from East Sussex to the Weald.

The trail is about 11 miles each way and there are plenty of benches around as well as wood carvings based on local wildlife. The route is pretty easy as the trail is mainly flat and mostly tarmacked, and for much part, riders are protected from the hailing wind due to the surrounding Wealden trees. There is a slight ascent when riding north towards Heathfield. Generally we found the route much easier when cycling southwards back towards Polegate - but maybe that's because we had lunch at the local pub in Heathfield. The weather was lovely today as the Northern wind did not arrive until much later. But I do need to get a pair of full finger winter mitts. We love the trail, it is fairly easy and therefore a perfect trail to speed through. We would definitely do again - probably in Spring when the birds are migrating.

The trail itself is signposted throughout but if you want to explore the surrounding area you would need either an Ordnance Survey Explorer 123 or Landranger 199 map.

Total: 26 miles (22 miles Cuckoo Trail, 4 miles in Brighton, Polegate and Heathfield)

An abandoned former railway station:

A former rail platform now makes up part of the Cuckoo Trail:

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Suikoden V mini-review

After the huge disappointment that was Suikoden IV, was there any way Konami could ever claw their way back in providing RPG goodness? Suikoden V is similar to Suikoden III in that is a good RPG game, but isn't a great one.

You play as the nameless Hero the Prince of Falena and son to the big boobed Queen Arshtat. The hero is an effeminate character, so expect to be confused for some time. Two years ago a town who was once thought to be most loyal to the Queendom of Falena revolted and rejected the Queen's rule. This despite the peace brought by the Queen whose rule over the legendary Sun Rune gives her power. The Queen orders you, the hero, to investigate the reason and the aftermath of the revolt. And so his and his friends adventures begins. Within the story lies tales of deceit and power struggle as the prince has to navigate through politics and feuding families to solve the nations problems.

Suikoden V has a standard RPG battle system, in that battles are turn based and menu driven. Up to six in a party can join a battle at any one time, an improvement over the much derided four party system used in Suikoden IV. Recruitment features heavily in the game as the prince is able to recruit 108 stars of destiny to help with his quest. It isn't mandatory to finish the game with all 108 recruitable characters.

The worst thing about Suikoden V is how badly the visuals has aged. With titles like Final Fantasy XII you can't help but feel disappointed by the archaic look of the title which at times feel like an early PS2 title or worse, a Dreamcast. While cutscenes are a joy, the isometric visuals used for exploration is dated and is easily surpassed by even Suikoden III. But let that not fool you as the storyline makes up for the graphical setback.

Despite some flaws, Suikoden V is a great game. It isn't a classic and therefore probably would not be hailed in the same breath as Suikoden II and III, but it marks a return to form for Konami's flagship RPG franchise.


NTSC owners can buy from Play-Asia where as PAL PS2 gamers should buy from Amazon UK


Went to Halfords/Bikehut today and bought a bottle of Muc-Off spray cleaner. Will be heading down to Polegate tomorrow morning with Jenni and Tony to ride the Cuckoo Trail (hopefully the northern rain holds of a little bit). I haven't wash my bike since the trail two weeks ago and it is filled with grim, chalk, mud and other stuff (cow poo). I will try to get up early in the morning and give the mechs, chain, cassette and crank a quick scrub.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Software Impressions: Ordnance Survey Maps for Windows Mobile Pocket PC

I have been toying around with the new Memory-Map software. It has a killer base map sourced by none other than Ordnance Survey. 1:1 conversion too. What you see on the paper is what you get. Which means portable topographical GPS maps. Yay!

Along with 1:25k Explorer, 1:50k Landranger and 1:250k GB Road Atlas, the application also supports A-Z Street Atlas, IGN French maps (including 1:25k), Philip's Digital European road atlas, USGS DRG topo maps, Maptech marine charts, Civil Aviation Authority VFR charts, etc. Basically it is a do it all GPS software for walkers, cyclists, sailors, drivers, teachers, geologists and pilots. Incredible isn't it?

Memory-Map is also capable of rendering a 3D view of maps based on the proprietary QuickChart elevation data on all OS maps and GetMapping aerial photography. It is nifty and a useful feature to those not accustomed to interpretating topographical contour lines. You can toy around with sun light source with the mouse. Tracks can also be logged and viewed as a 3D flyover.

3D view of Devil's Dyke:

Unfortunately the 3D view capability isn't coded into Pocket Nav (the portable version for WinMob). If such a capability is important then consider ViewRanger for Series 60, which I tested on a Nokia N80. It works great, so if you are a fan of Series 60 and the great outdoors then do consider ViewRanger. I shot the Cambridge based developer an e-mail and it seems a Windows Mobile and UIQ version would eventually be released - though not in the near future.

In the mean time, apart from 3D view, Pocket Nav has extensive capabilities including the ability to display maps downloaded from Memory-Map, search & display index, monitor and track progress, support for Navman, Garmin, Magellan, NMEA or SiRF GPS, logging, etc.

Much of what you can do on Memory-Map can be done on Pocket Nav including creating new overlays such as waypoint, text and route. Overlays created on Memory-Map can be exported to be use on Pocket Nav and vice versa. However any modification to the maps are only limited to overlays. Until the 'run by tax-payer's money' OS organisation opens up, there is very little you can do to manipulate map data.

If you don't own a PDA, Memory-Map is also compatible with a vast array of dedicated GPS program, including those tailored for cyclists. Ah, what will we do without technology, us hopeless dependants?!

All screenshots based on maps reproduced from Ordnance Survey 1: 25,000 mapping © Crown copyright. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

DS Guitar M-06

This is simply brilliant. Who needs a real guitar when one can busk on the underground with a small DS? More amazing and funny videos at the link.

Update: Ubisoft will be publishing this title in the west as Jam Sessions and will come with 'localised' song sheets.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Still not a fan of Series 60

Last week I obtained a Nokia N80 for 'free' when I renewed my contract. Been testing it in place of my HTC Wizard. I have never been a fan of Series 60 interface and this new 3rd edition seems to be confirming it. The GUI - while flashy - is shit slow, counter productive and un-intuitive compared to PalmOS or Windows Mobile. But then again it is me. Many Series 60 fans has found it hard to migrate to touchscreen based GUI and vice versa.

A couple of negative stuff about this mobile. Despite having a 3Mp CMOS sensor, it still produce shit images. This is due to the smaller sensor size, lack of good lens and many other factors compared to dedicated digital compact. People who purchase a mobile to replace their digital or film cameras are just risking their memories.

There is still no touch screen interface on Series 60. Applications for Series 60 are still difficult to find through its archaic UI. It also uses miniSD - an absolute tosh of a format with no real identity (although to be fair the HTC Wizard also uses miniSD). It is hardly smaller than the SD format and is a giant compared to microSD (the probably successor to SD).

Now a couple of good stuff. The display is amazing. At a resolution of on a tiny screen, pictures looks absolute fantastic on it. I mean fucking brilliant. It is the HD display of all mobile phones. Too bad the N80 is so slow it probably wouldn't be able to play high bitrate videos.

The mobile itself is tiny - when compared to the Wizard. Built quality is awesome and when I checked, sure enough I found out that the unit I was holding was made in Finland. When it comes to assembling quality products nothing beats European factories.

I was finally able to download the new PC Suite from their website because the version that came in the CD would not connect to my PC, and therefore unable to sync with MS Outlook. The new version works well and isn't any better or worse than their counterparts (ActiveSync for WM and HotSync for PalmOS).

I returned the mobile a few days later and got the HTC Universe (O2 XDA Exec) instead. This thing is huge! But it works great. Speedier than the HTC Wizard, this piece of machine runs just about any application you can throw at it, including the resource hog TomTom 6. I am tempted to sell the HTC Wizard and keep this as my primary mobile - if it weren't for its size. Still I will give it a go for the next few days and see. WiFi signal isn't as strong as the Wizard, but the VGA screen makes up for a pleasent web browsing experience via Access NetFront (still the best portable browser hands down).

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Sunday, November 5, 2006

Guy Fawkes Night

Didn't go out to see fireworks last night due to the unusually (for early November) cold weather (if you want pictures see last year's Lewes bonfire and fireworks posts). Instead stayed indoors and enjoyed the free show around the neighbourhood while sipping wine and munching down cheese. May try to enjoy this coming weekend's Lord Mayor's fireworks display though.

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Thursday, November 2, 2006

MTB Review: CatEye HL-EL410 Compact Opticube headlight

Here is my birthday present from Jennifer. It is a CatEye HL-EL410 Compact Opticube headlight. Her way of forcing me into getting a front safety light!!

A reassuring sticker on the box claiming to be 100% brighter than the previous EL400 model only smacks in the face to those who previously paid for the older model (which is still on sale for the full price in some retail bike stores). Underneath the box are the words "MADE IN JAPAN / FABRIQUE AU JAPON". I am glad that CatEye did not source out the manufacturing to low QC China. Phew.

They didn't even skim on batteries, quality Toshiba triple-As included:

Bike geeks will be interested to know that the combined weight is only 78 grams.

Unlike other two piece systems(where the mount fixes semi-permanently to the bike), the bracket included allows a greater amount of flexibility for installation on different handlebars as well as helmet.

Mounted on my Trek helmet:

Mounted on a handlebar next to the CatEye LD210 safetylight.

If you want to go trekking in the middle of the woods then forget about using this alone. While it is bright enough for the darkest of alleyways, you should only use this as a backup light to be used with a high performance H.I.D., if you are planning on night trails. For city owls like us this works good enough.

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