Saturday, June 2, 2007

Xbox 360 / PS3: Activision Trash Talks EA's 'Rock Band"

After releasing video game for nerds-who-always-wanted-to-but-never-could-play Guitar Hero II, Activision is now saying Guitar Hero "has attracted imitators" in response to EA's upcoming Rock Band. But in a wonderful display of munching on one's own cock, it comes out that Harmonix, the company who originally developed Guitar Hero -are the devs who are working on Rock Band! To top it all off, Guitar Hero was originally a rip off of Konami's Guitar Freaks...! LOL. I love this kind of corporate cock fighting.

Click here to read more

And here is the rest of it

Click to read more

Friday, June 1, 2007

VIDEO: Best TV Advert?

Those of you who have played Katamari Damacy on PS2 will know where the inspiration came for this video. For those who haven't played, just watch it cos its undoubtedly one of the best TV adverts ever made.

And here is the rest of it

Click to read more

WTF: World's First Creationist Museum Opens: The World Is Only 6,000 Years Old

Yep. Forget what you learned about evolution and natural selection folks, cos the world is officially only 6,000 years old. With a motto of "Prepare To Believe!" I wonder just how many people over the age of ten will actually willingly bring themselves to visit. (Just checked, seeing as this is the Mid-West USA it'll probably be an even split; 50/50)

Ol' T-Rex here was a vegetarian and made for friendly pets, according to the musuem. Those canines must have had a hard time chewing through all them...leaves and..stuff.

More after the jump

The world's first creationist museum, which tells visitors the Earth is only about 6,000 years old, has opened its doors in the American midwest.

The Creation Museum claims dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex lived alongside ancient civilisations but were strictly vegetarian before the Fall of Man and that the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood.

Some 4,000 people visited the Kentucky museum on its first day yesterday while demonstrators protested outside and a plane towing a banner reading "Thou shalt not lie" circled overhead.

Click to read more

Click to read more

Thursday, May 31, 2007

MUSIC: DJ Kicks: Hot Chip

I know this has been out for a couple of months but I completely forgot to write a review for it. If you're a fan of the whole electro/hip hop/house mashup, read the review after the jump, then get your own copy of it. Awesome. And quirky.

Hot Chip have been quietly producing their own blend of kitschy-electro-house for the better part of two years now, and although have hit the mainstream now, are still coming up with the goods where it matters.

Hot Chip step up in the same quirky, off-kilter-yet-catchy way that has been synonymous with the group since their inception. Former band member Grosvenor (Rob Smoughton) opens with the delectable opening chords of Nitemoves -for about a minute and a half, before a strange Lionel Richie-esque vocal kicks in with elevator-like drum & bass beats, all the while crooning about "making love on the hot summer afternoon" and feeling "lonesome". If you kept that barf-bag from your last trip to Bangkok, you'd do well to fish it out before letting Track 1 play out to its end.

The next few songs thankfully lift the mood, ranging from Positive K's positively old skool I Got A Man, to Gramme's downright funk-driven, swinging Like You. The playlist then slides into some abstract, synthy house from Subway, and then Soundhack with B1.

For me though, the next two songs represent the pinnacle of the album; Tom Ze's delightfully infectious Cademar gets a reworking here, the old skool Brazilian bossa nova classic is crossed with a quirky 3 / 4 beat before seguing (not altogether smoothly) into Hot Chip's upcoming single, My Piano. A standard 4/4 house beat rails the background, while a simple, low-key yet catchy piano roll morphes between the detached vocals of Alexis Taylor.

While there's nothing immediately stunning about this song, the subtle accompaniment sets this apart from the other songs on the album with its delicate, jazzy undertones. I could gush all day about this song but I won't.

My Piano fades out before Wax Stag's Short Road kicks in with its early 90s rave stabs and drums, and then New Order make an appearance with a remixed version of Bizarre Love Triangle. The obligatory early 90s old skool house continues for a while until Young Leek's cheeky Jiggle It precludes the magnificent In The Basement, a duet between Sugar Pie Desanto and Etta James that harks back to bygone eras we all wish we were a part of.

The next ten songs belong to Hot Chip's legendary dirty house mixes, ranging from Wookie's Far East, Gabrial Ananda's live version of Doppelwhipper, to Noze's titillating Love Affair.

Rounding off the mix comes Joe Jackson with his 1982 New Wave sounding Steppin' Out, before Ray Charles makes a perfect ending with some classic rhythm & blues in Mess Around.

A diverse mix that shows how bossa nova, hip hop, electro-house and rhythm & blues can fit without once losing cohesion.

DJ Kicks - Hot Chip (!K7, 2007)


01 Grovesnor - "Nitemoves"
02 Positive K - "I Got a Man"
03 Gramme - "Like You"
04 Subway - "Persuasion"
05 Soundhack - "B1"
06 Tom Zé - "Cademar"
07 Hot Chip - "My Piano (DJ-Kicks)"
08 Wax Stag - "Short Road"
09 New Order - "Bizarre Love Triangle (Shep Pettibone Extended Remix)"
10 Young Leek - "Jiggle It"
11 Etta James & Sugar Pie DeSanto - "In the Basement, Part One"
12 Black Devil Disco Club - "On Just Foot"
13 Dominik Eulberg - "Der Buchdrucker"
14 Grauzone - "Film 2"
15 This Heat - "Radio Prague"
16 Wookie - "Far East"
17 Gabriel Ananda - "Doppelwhipper (Live)"
18 Marek Bois - "You Got Good Ash"
19 Lanark - "The Stone That the Builder Rejected"
20 Pete Um - "The Man's Got Me Beat"

21 Nôze - "Love Affair"
22 Audion - "Just Fucking (Roman Flügel's 23 Positions in a One-Night Stand Remix)"
23 Joe Jackson - "Steppin' Out"
24 Ray Charles - "Mess Around"

Click to read more

VIDEO: Robot Wrestling

Like robots? Like watching senseless violence? Like WWF? (Okay, forget I said that). Fuck it, just watch this video. Perhaps the greatest fusion of science and mechanics ever recorded on film. And of course, this comes from Japan.

And here is the rest of it

Click to read more

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

VIDEO: Theros (Animation) Trailer

Duration: 02:38 Taken: 16th May,2007 Location: France
A short by Georgios Cherouvim

'Theros' (harvesting in ancient Greek) A short computer animated film which criticizes an issue of modern human society. It is a non-narrative character-based piece, which through the use of strong imagery and repetitive animation delivers the message. The overall look is non-realistic with abstract forms and loose representations of a plausible reality.

Yeah, aside from all that, it looks fuckin' cool. Check it.

And here is the rest of it

Click to read more

TECH: Microsoft's "Surface" Computer

Microsoft is set to take involvement with digital media to another level with the debut of Microsoft Surface today at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference. Using a 30" LCD mounted on the surface of a desk and a combination of a multi-touch finger gestures, it does look cool. Expect to see these everywhere in a few years, from restaurants, hotels, schools and shops...dammit, I want one now.

Download the video here

Microsoft is looking to make the same breakthrough in interface technology today that the mouse did back in the 1980s with "Surface." Surface, which will be demonstrated today at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference, provides instant interaction between people and digital content using hand gestures on a touch screen.

"With Surface, we are creating more intuitive ways for people to interact with technology," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said. We see this as a multibillion dollar category, and we envision a time when surface computing technologies will be pervasive, from tabletops and counters to the hallway mirror. Surface is the first step in realizing that vision."

In its current form, Surface is incorporated into a 30" display mounted into a table. This allows user involvement to expand beyond just one person. Surface is capable of recognizing input from not just one finger, but multiple up to dozens of inputs simultaneously.

This technology isn’t exactly new as Apple uses a less complex version on its iPhone and “multi-touch” technology was demonstrated by Jeff Han to much fanfare last year. Microsoft, however, is bringing multi-touch to the masses.

Users can perform tasks such as browsing through pictures and music files by simply using their fingers. For users operating Surface in restaurants, a simple touch of the screen could allow you to order a beverage during a meal.

Surface also has the ability to read bar codes on items to provide further information to the user. "This means that when a customer simply sets a wine glass on the surface of a table, a restaurant could provide them with information about the wine they’re ordering, pictures of the vineyard it came from and suggested food pairings tailored to that evening’s menu," said Microsoft. "The experience could become completely immersive, letting users access information on the wine-growing region and even look at recommended hotels and plan a trip without leaving the table."

Microsoft also notes that the transfer of digital content is also possible with Surface. So it's not too hard to envision being able to set your Zune on Surface and transfer your playlist or video files for playback on the 30" display.

Surface will first be available at Harrah’s Entertainment properties, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and T-Mobile retail stores.

"When visitors to Las Vegas choose to stay at one of our casinos, they can enjoy the amenities at all of them," said Harrah senior VP Tim Stanley. "Microsoft Surface is a great way to help our guests get the most out of their trips to Las Vegas by putting all the offerings and experiences we make available at their fingertips."

"We are creating new and engaging ways for our guests to connect with their passions while away from home. Microsoft Surface puts us at the forefront of technology and allows guests to interact with each other and our hotel in a revolutionary way," said Hoyt H. Harper II, senior vice president for Sheraton.

A demo of Surface is downloadable here


Click to read more

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

WTF: "Dettol Man" Cleans Himself To Death

A coroner has recorded a verdict of death by misadventure on a reclusive Manchester man whose obsession with cleanliness led local children to dub him "Dettol Man". Jacques Niemand, 42, of Didsbury, died of "an inadequate supply of oxygen to his vital organs" provoked by over-exposure to Dettol, the Telegraph reports. The inquest heard that he "habitually placed buckets of Dettol around his flat", while the rooms were "littered" with bottles of the liquid.

More after the jump.

Niemand's sister Ruth Bain explained that her brother had suffered from an "obsessive cleaning disorder" for some years, but didn't seek medical help "because he feared the prospect of being detained under the Mental Health Act". Accordingly, he hadn't seen his GP since 1992. Bain said: "He didn't want any help and was scared of receiving it."

Pathologist Dr Lorna McWilliam told the inquest it was "difficult to say whether [Niemand's] exposure to Dettol had been through ingestion or inhalation". She elaborated: "I cannot be sure his death arose through using an excessive amount at one time, but I suspect there must be an element of that."

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Manchester coroner Leonard Gorodkin described Niemand's demise as "a most unusual kind of death", admitting: "We do not know if death occurred quickly or over a period of time."

Gorodkin suggested the fatal dose might have arisen since Niemand "knew workmen were due to begin improvements to his flat on the day he died he may have wanted to make himself particularly clean". He did, however, disagree with Bain's suspicion that her brother had wanted to kill himself. He concluded: "If that had been the case the level of chlorate in his body would have been much higher."


Click to read more

Wii: Exclusive Mario Party 8 Video

Judging from their faces, this looks about as much fun as farting in a phone booth (or perhaps they were just peed off at the crappy music?).

GamesRadar has posted a breakdown of all the mini games in Mario Party 8. More after the jump.

The rules are the same - roll dice and run through a Nintendo-themed board game collecting coins and stars. Whoever has the most stars at the end wins. It was that way in 1999, it's that way in 2007. The biggest criticism we have is the enormous amount of down time during the match. We'll obviously touch more on that in the upcoming review, but man, there's a whole lot of waiting to play, sifting through menus, reading dialogue and all kinds of other non-party related activities. Still, it's not so much about the individual annoyances as it is the overall experience, and some of us did enjoy our hour-and-a-half romp through Donkey Kong's jungle board.

If the video isn't enough, however, here are the minigames we played and our thoughts on each:

Grabby Gridiron - 2 against 2

Two teams of two try to run a football into the other team's goal. Balls are constantly being shot into the field so attentions are scattered all over the place. To play, you hold the remote sideways and use the number buttons to kick, jump and shove. It was one of the few minigames that involved all four players physically trying to impede each other's progress, so it ranks fairly high on the list. But even the best Mario Party minigame gets old after five or six tries.

Snow WayOut - 3 against 1

One player uses the remote to aim a cursor at the other three, who are scrambling across a rooftop. The point is for one player to lob snowballs at the others and knock them off the roof. You can run off the edge and lose automatically, so that kinda stinks, and the snowballs fly so slow that it's practically impossible to hit anyone. Buh.

Swing Kings - various methods

A Shy Guy tosses baseballs in the air. You swing the remote and hit them. That's it. If you can get the timing right, the game's all yours. Not much else to it. Oddly satisfying.

Thrash 'N Crash - 3 against 1

Three players skate down an alley while avoiding Thwomps and other such obstacles. The remaining player points a cursor at said obstacles and hits a button to trigger them. This and Snow Way Out both suffer from a sloooow sense of action. You almost have to want to be hit by the objects, otherwise all three will finish with relative ease.
Big Screen, Main Screen

Spector Inspector - 1 against 1

A first-person scavenger hunt for hiding ghosts. Looks a little like Luigi's Mansion, but manages to be a little more boring than even that ho-hum title. It is, however, kind of neat to see characters like Yoshi or Peach in a first-person setting, so that's a bonus.

Lava Lobbers - 1 against 1

Two players, in mine carts, on opposite ends of a lava pit, use the d-pad and face buttons to toss balls at each other. The goal is to smash them three times and apparently send them falling to a horrific, fiery death. Not too bad, but Waluigi deserves an even worse fate.

Scooter Pursuit - free for all

Everyone hops in a double barreled hover thingy and zips around trying to shoot each other. The one with the most hits wins. Movement, left to right and forward and back, is done with the remote, and shooting is the 2 button. It's basically Mario Kart lite. Fairly fun.

Boo-ting Gallery - 2 against 2

Two teams burst into a haunted house and take out a swarm of ethereal Boos, Ghostbusters style. Only slower and more boring. Yes, even this shoot 'em up minigame plods along with ghost-bullets that appear to be fighting gravity every step of the way. After you shoot enough ghosts, the big momma shows up and you kill her too. The victors then slowly, awkwardly walk out of the house and stand by a fence. After what feels like 50 to 100 years of dead silence, the "Winner!" music and animations kick in. Somebody yell "Cut!" and move the game along, please!

Rowed to Victory - 2 against 2

This one was actually pretty cool. You each control one oar and have to time your paddles in order to reach a floating flag. The first team there wins. It requires communication, actual exertion and friendly yelling to get the job done. If more minigames are like this, Mario Party 8 could definitely be a decent entry into Wii's overcrowded minigame market.

If you've missed the emerging pattern, it's the crippling pace of gameplay. Entirely too much time is spent watching stuff happen and then when you do get in a game, chances are it's going to be slow and uninteresting. They're not all that way of course, and like we said earlier, there's some fun to be had with four people gunning for first place. Best check the review when it's posted, eh?


Click to read more

PS3 / Wii / Xbox 360: Hardware Sales For April

Hardware sales figures are out for April. The most surprising show both the PSP and PS2 sales continue to surpass those of the Xbox 360. Even more surprising, the No.1 console for the 2007 so far?

The Nintendo DS. (EUH?)

Nintendo DS: 471,000

Wii: 360,000

PlayStation 2: 194,000

PlayStation Portable: 183,000

Xbox 360: 174,000

Game Boy Advance: 84,000

Playstation 3: 82,000

Comparisons with March sales figures after the jump

When we compare these to the sales figures from March we can see:

Wii: Up 39% from March

PS2: Down 31% from March

Xbox 360: Down 23% from March

PS3: Down 39% from March

Click to read more

PS3 / Wii / Xbox 360: This Week's Game Releases

Okay, this week's releases are out, and once again we're all left thinking, "Wtf Sony?" while the 360 gets the awesome looking Forza 2 and the somewhat generic looking Shadowrun.

Wii: Surf's Up, Tamagotchi Party On!, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mario Party 8

360: Surf's Up, Monster Madness, Shadowrun, Forza Motorsport 2

PS2: Surf's Up, Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm

PSP: Surf's Up, Crush

PS3: Surf's Up

GBA: Surf's Up

PC: Surf's Up, Monster Madness, Shadowrun

DS: Surf's Up, Pony Friends, Tank Beat

GC: Surf's Up

Surf's Up?

Seriously? Penguins surfing? Thats all you've got Sony?

And here is the rest of it

Click to read more

TECH: Sony Releases 16.7m Color Flexible OLED

Sony introduces the world's first 16.7 million color flexible OLED display

More after the jump

A number of companies have been working on delivering what will be known as e-paper technology to the public. And while barely out of the prototype stages, the potential is there for advertising billboards, TVs and monitors, to e-newspapers that can be rolled up in your back pocket. Flexible OLED technology is undoubtedly going to play a major part in many industries in the future, and will likely replace LCD and Plasma technology due to a number of benefits.

The screen is made from glass substrate and because OLEDs are their own light source, don't require backlighting. Therefore, these flexible OLEDs can be manufactured with extremely thin substrates and can be made to bend or be fit around an object.

The OLED technology behind it promises ultra battery saving efficiency -performing 10 - 20 times better than today’s LCD and Plasma screens. The display is 64mm in diameter, has 160x120 pixel resolution and sports a 1000:1 contrast ratio.

Samsung, LG Philips and Nempotec have all demonstrated similar displays, but Sony is the first with a 16.7 million unit.


Click to read more

Sunday, May 27, 2007

PS3: Why Sony Has To Do Something About The PS3

Many have harped on about the severe dearth of quality games for the PS3, while trumpeting the surge in high-quality Xbox 360 games. In which case, I won't. But with PR gaffe after gaffe, and forum hounds and market analysts alike proclaiming Sony's failure in the next-gen console war, what is Sony actually doing to convince consumers?

More after the jump.

Luckily, finding hilarious quotes from Sony management is quite an easy task;

"I am pretty sure if you asked just about any real gamer out there if they would like to have a PS3, their answer would be a resounding "Yes!"

Dave Karakker, Sony ’s Director of Corporate Communications (Gamepro Interview)

1) Operating profits were down 68% to $US597 million in 2006, from US$1.88 billion the year before.

2) 3.2 million PS3s sold against 10.9 million 360s and 7.4 million Wiis. The Wii is outselling the PS3 by over 2:1, while Sony isn't actually doing all that bad against MS

Surprising? Not when you consider some of the moves made by the geniuses over at Sony HQ:

1) Exploding notebook batteries

2) PS3 launched way before ready - that's a nice way of saying Europeans ended up paying US$600 for a "downgraded" "work of art"

3) Spyware encrypted in Sony music CDs. Not exactly the best way to endear yourself to the net-savvy gamers you want to buy your console.

And it's not just us philistine hoi polloi Sony is alienating. By pricing the hardware out of reach of most of the public, Sony has (unwittingly, one might hope) promoted a tactic that has also scared away game developers.

Games Sony Lost
So far, the PS3 has lost exclusivity to Assassin's Creed, Devil May Cry, Haze, and
Hideo Kojima's fabled Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots. Rumors are circling that both Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid, long term Sony stalwarts, will be providing ports of their latest releases to the Xbox 360, albeit at a much later date. With all of this, there's little incentive for gamers to shell out for a PS3, when they can play the same game on the cheaper, more refined 360.

Then there are the 360-exclusive launches: Bioware's Mass Effect, Irrational's Bioshock, and of course,
September's Halo 3 - only the hugest, most marketed, most anticipated game for any console yet. Gamespot is reporting that 4 million pre-orders have already been laid down for Halo 3, with a sales forecast of US$172 million for the first quarter alone. Peter Jackson directing the movie version of Halo will no doubt spin the hype even further.

It's Not So Bad
But take heart bunglers, your potentially devastating situation is partly relieved by the drop in manufacturing costs of the Blu-ray hardware, along with a move to a 65nm manufacturing process for IBM's Cell CPU. A smaller CPU manufacturing process means more CPUs can be produced from the same silicon wafer, meaning lower costs -but not necessarily lower for the consumer. Price drops have already been announced for Blu-ray players. Most likely these will be turned into higher profit margins for Sony, or should we say, any profit margin.

No Wait, It Is That Bad
Each 60Gb PS3 costs US$840 to produce; it retails at US$599 - meaning a loss of US$241.35. Without even considering the recently recalled 20GB units, which saw Sony take a massive US$306.85 hit with every unit sold, Sony is absorbing a tremendous loss.

And consider this cheerful number they probably pulled out of thin air: Sony stated they envisage the PS3 having a ten-year shelf life. Aside from being unlikely - when was the last time you kept anything for more than ten minutes without modding it? Unless the strategy bears some crazy fruit, this could well be Sony's version of Sega's extravagant-but-financially-ruinous Dreamcast. Need I remind you it helped end Sega's run as a hardware player in the console market?

Ok But At Least There's Pie Right?
The one bright light at the end of the tunnel for Sony is that its unlikely to get any worse. Promising titles like Lair, Heavenly Sword, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Grand Theft Auto IV are all planned for launch before Christmas, and expected to boost sales tremendously, not to mention Final Fantasy XXIII and Metal Gear Solid 4. Quite possibly it's not the last we'll see of Sony just yet but unless they have a stable full of unbelievable games in development now, it looks as if the horse has already bolted for Sony.

Click to read more