I left my MP3 player on top of Toby’s speakers whilst he was playing Death Metal Grindcore and some of the horror crept inside and killed my folk MP3s. Now it just crashes when I try and play anything. So on the way to work I listen to the Radio, when I remember, which is rarely. Most of the time I remember just in time to get into the Underground, so I have a brief Hallelujah of Melvyn Bragg’s voice, before it segues into blessed white noise. On the underground, nothing but static pouring into your ears, rather the grunts and sweaty silence of the angry commuters, it’s a blessing.
I’m currently nursing something that Jamie from Zone described as “pleurisy” so I’m having trouble walking, standing or breathing without trying to turn my bronchi into high-pressure chambers. Hence, and otherwise, I can’t wait for the smoking ban to come in. Seth keeps saying pubs are going to stink of stale beer and sweat when the smoke vanishes, but as my sense of smell has been killed by the endless colds I get because of my lungs’ weakness due to all the shit in the air, I couldn’t really care less. I’m sure it’ll just be another thing we’ll all get acclimatised to in our pursuit of the demon drink – hey, we might even get a Pavlovian reaction and start liking it! Roll on the 1st of July, woof!
The delightfully simple Paperboy (available on Live Arcade since 14/02/07) has reminded me that there simply aren’t enough pacifist games, still less non-competitive ones. Being a conscientious objector myself, I would never handle a firearm (I’ve always turned down trips that promised this as a feature), I don’t believe in glorying in violence and I appreciate developers that bravely stay away from the easy visceral thrills provided by guts, gore and sex. Some bloody games manage to surpass their violent content, either by providing a more strategic air which moves away from the warlike nature of the game; others, like Call of Duty, claim there are historical lessons to be learned from shooting other people in the face. I take this with a large pinch of salt but at least it’s a move in the right direction.
Few games, save puzzle games, can manage what Paperboy does, to produce a game that involves slapstick humour (which, yes, can have an element of violence but always with humour and never designed to gratify by itself) and a compelling, difficult game mechanic without ever resorting to anything crude, nasty, violent. You have three tasks in Paperboy: to keep your paperboy pedalling despite the hazards of the course; to deliver your papers; and to get to the end of the street on time. There’s an optional fourth task, to maximise your score by smashing non-subscribers’ windows, dealing with burglars and stopping fights; essentially anything that can be construed as antisocial behaviour from the viewpoint of the paperboy. It’s a game about doing the right thing that disguises itself as rebelliousness and that’s why I think it’s great.
Sad to say, but the reported ‘lost at sea’ status of Battlestations: Midway sometime after its announcement in 2004 wasn’t greeted with the usual sorrow and rending of hair, but more with the irritated ‘tch’ noises people make when the cat’s pissed on your second-favourite rug. Considering the lukewarm emotion attached to it, the game’s return, steaming at full speed back from the horizon, isn’t likely to be greeted by cheering crowds on the dockside. Rather, there’s more likely to be a mild interest as to where the f*** it’s been. Not all escapees of development hell get the welcome of Prey.
Ooh! My reviews seem to have started going online for PCZone. About time!
Just got a message from my newly ex-flatmate Jamie, saying that we’ve got away with moving out and that, having checked the inventory, they’re going to refund our deposits! It’s amazing what you can do to massive scrapes all over the plasterwork with a free tube of poster paint… apparently the flat flooded from the sink backing up while the landlord’s agent was looking it over, which must have won us a few plus points.
I’m SOOOOO glad to be out of that flat.