Sweet Home

Last weekend, a bunch of friends and I drove up to Montreal for a Bachelor party. It was my first time there, and I could see why my friend’s would want to drive 5 hours to go there.

The celebrations themselves were very tame, which was good. The last Bachelor party I went to, we all went to play a variation of bumpercar lacrosse. This time, it was just straight up go karting at Kart-O-Mania. That was a lot of fun, even if every single one of us walked out with a massive welt along the ribs from slamming sideways into the walls.

Anyway, I’m just bringing the trip up as an excuse to talk about how awesome Sirius’s satellite radio is. The variety and quality of channels is pretty great. Also, the feature where you can set up your tuner to alert you whenever an artist you like is playing is amazing. What it needs is the opposite of that, so that if an artist you hate comes up, the radio will automatically switch.

The first thing I would use it for is to make sure I never heard Kid Rock’s All Summer Long ever again. Let me get this straight. You wrote a song about listening to another song? Well, “wrote” is a strong word when you use that as an excuse to sample that song. Writing music is hard, guys!

I… Love… Goooooold

So hey, the game went gold. Please look forward to it on August 19th!

And if you have Xbox Live, you can get the demo right now. Holy crap!

Space Invaders Extreme

I picked up Space Invaders Extreme for the PSP which was released last week to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Space Invaders. When I was a kid, one of the first videogames I played was a Space Invaders handheld that one of my uncles owned. This massive, beige plastic device would occupy all my time until the batteries would die and I could scrounge up some new ones from various TV remotes and other abandoned electronics. I’d sit on the stairs for hours with that thing, fighting off wave after wave of glowing red Invaders as they swept across the fixed LED display. I invented firing through your own shield to open a digital arrow loop.

And that was my entire experience with Space Invaders up until this point – a week spent with that handheld almost 20 years ago.

Well… I’m still playing Space Invaders on a handheld, but everything else has changed! There’s the expected – the graphics are better, although they’ve kept the pixelated look. Every object in the game is colourful and vibrant. The music is all new, including a great remix of the ominous Space Invaders theme. The backgrounds throb and pulse with the new music, music that is accented by the sounds of your ship’s laser firing, and the impact noises on enemies.

The original enemies are all there, but now they can scatter projectiles across the whole screen, drop columns of burning light down on you, even reflect your shots back at you. They come in 3 different sizes now too, which doesn’t sound too game-changing until you fight them. The larger versions are logically equivalent to a group of 4 invaders, all moving at once across the screen. They can take ten times as long to kill it, but fire a quarter of the time that 4 invaders could. The small ones are the real threat – hard to hit and see. Even the regular invaders can turn sideways now, exposing less surface area for you to hit.

The flying saucers that sweep the top of the screen make a return, only this time they have colour variations that reveal their hidden powers. Some saucers will add another invader to the descending column. Others will charge and unleash lasers of their own at you. The bonus points they used to provide are now a real bonus level, where you can rack up points, or charge up your weapons. Oh yes, this is a modern shooter, and there are weapon power ups: Screen-clearing beams, spread shots, explosive and shots. The unmoving shields from classic Space Invaders even make a return as a temporary addition to the front of your ship.

Like the Pac-Man remake on Xbox Live released last year, Space Invaders Extreme keeps enough of the classic game to invoke nostalgia, but also updates the game enough so that people unfamiliar with the original can enjoy it. And at the budget price of $19.99, it’s hard to go wrong.

An Embarassing Way to Die

On my way home from work today, I noticed the lady behind me driving somewhat erratically. I assume this was because she was eating an ice cream cone at the time. It’s really the perfect food to eat while driving – it has a high potential for falling on your lap, it requires the full use of one hand until it’s finished, and if you’re licking it like a child, your head is tilted at 45 degrees to the road.

I can only assume this was the reason for her poor driving. It could have been anything. For example: extensive brain damage.

Continuing PC Dramases

The latest P05 bios update for my new motherboard seems to have improved the stability dramatically! Unfortunately, I can’t use my newly-stable PC to connect to the Internet on account of my cable getting fried during the previous week of thunder storms.

I’m using the brief periods where I can connect to write and post this update. In a way it’s a good thing, because it lets me focus on the recently released Metal Gear Solid 4 for the PS3. I’m a pretty huge fan of MGS1 and 2 (and Twin Snakes, of course) but sadly never got around to MGS3. It’ll definitely be hard to try at this point, since 4 is so good and fixes a lot of things that people consider “broken” about the series.

I also picked up Coldplay‘s latest album, Viva La Vida and Tiesto’s newest entry in the “In Search of Sunrise” series, “In Search of Sunrise 7: Asia.” I always enjoy a lot of Coldplay’s songs, but this latest album is fantastic throughout, especially in the last half. “Life in Technicolor” reminds me of something that Bloc Party would do (although I suspect it has more to do with producer Brian Eno), and you can definitely hear the influences of Blur in “Yes.”

In Search of Sunrise is also good, although I don’t think it has any standout tracks like the Gabriel & Dresden remix of Way Out West’s “Mindcircus” from In Search of Sunrise 3: Panama. At least it plays like an actual trance CD, unlike Armin Van Buuren’s Imagine. If you haven’t seen the video for “Going Wrong” yet, I highly recommend it! It answers the question “What if you tried to make a boy band video with one boy, no budget and a blue screen?” The funny thing is that they’re blue-screening the streets of some Mediterranean city. You guys are European. You couldn’t fly to Ibiza for a weekend? The whole thing looks like it was cut together on a Sega Saturn.

I has a Release Date

In case you haven’t been keeping up, Too Human has a release date now: August 19th, sirs! Which explains why I have been incommunicado for the past five weeks. We’ve been very busy putting the finishing touches on the game to get it ready for release.

And now that we’re winding down I have time to upgrade this blog to 2.5.1 and change the theme a bit.

I Stole the Keys to the Skies

Australian electro group “The Presets.” I’d heard their other single “Are you the One” and wasn’t that taken with it. I don’t know what “This Boy’s in love” would be classified as… perhaps poppy EBM? Anyway, it’s pretty good. This video is a bit messed up at the end, though. Also, half-naked guys fighting in water, so maybe NSFW

Iron Man

I just got back from seeing an advance preview screening for Iron Man. In two words? Fucking amazing.

This is by far the best superhero movie I’ve seen since Batman Begins. I may, in fact, like it more because it has a robot suit in it, and that robot suit is so well thought out, designed, and modeled/animated that it makes everyone who green-lit the visuals in Transformers look like giant assholes.

When Iron Man gets hit, he moves like he’s a giant metal suit getting hit by something. When he takes off, flies, and lands, he looks like what a metal suit would look like doing that. He doesn’t float through the air like he’s made of tissue paper and twist-ties like 90% of the shitty animation that accompanies modern movies.

Robert Downey Jr. is so believable as Tony Stark, it’s one of things that seems like it couldn’t get any more perfect. Not only does he bear a striking resemblance to Whilce Portacio‘s rendering of Tony from back in the late 1990s, but he’s a fantastic actor as well. The evolution of the character through the movie is seamless.

If I had to put hard numbers to it, I’d say that Iron Man was about one hundred times better than the Spiderman movies. Not just because I find Toby Maguire’s toady little face obnoxious beyond belief, but I know that I will never be bitten by a radioactive spider and gain super powers. I may, however, one day own a robot suit. Robot. Suit.

New NiN

A new Nine Inch Nails single was released this week. The song’s titled “Discipline” and you can download it directly (for free!) from the official NiN website here. If you liked “Year Zero” at all, you’ll love this.

The Magic of Building a PC

The final piece to the PC crashing puzzle lies not in faulty memory, or Windows Vista, or bad drivers, but in an overly complex PC case. That’s right, several important pieces of the computer were being shifted out of place because the case has a hinge with too much give. Now that all the cards are seated properly, everything looks good and Bioshock doesn’t crash every 5 minutes.

Pics and more when I’m not at work until 1am…