Thursday, September 30, 2010

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Amiga remakes database turns 1000!

Yes, because that's how it works in database years; one entry for every anniversary. I'm not sure if this is a testament to the dedication of all the die-hard Amigans out there who wouldn't let it lie, or how disturbed I must be to have obsessively recorded their progeny to this extent.

In any case, the proud (I'm sure) winner of the frenzied scramble to secure this coveted footing in Amiga remake history goes to ClockworkBytes for his remake of Gloom, XGloom.

Gloom - developed by Mark Sibly and released in 1995 - was the first commercial Amiga clone of the first person shooter Doom. According to the author, the revamp will be a cross-platform re-implementation of Gloom's engine, initially using the original Amiga data files, though will in time be fully moddable in 3D.

You can follow the game's development over on the Amiga World forum.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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I Can't Believe It's Not Custard

In case you missed the pick of the day, the latest series of Harry and Paul started last night on BBC 2. While most of it merely plundered and rehashed their back catalogue of old ideas and characters, I thought the Dragons' Den sketch alone was worth tuning in for.

The scene opens with a couple of quivering entrepreneurs attempting to pitch their brainchild; a pudding supplement called 'I Can't Believe It's Not Custard'. The idea is trounced and they're unceremoniously ejected from the Den, only to return dressed as Rastafarians to hawk the same idea (clearly a thinly veiled reference to Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Sauce). This time the Dragons can't wait to throw money at 'Me Kwan Believe It Nat Custard', their motivation being to 'out PC' each other by backing a pair of ethnic minority candidates. The deal goes pear-shaped when they're exposed as blacked-up impostors, but that's not the point.

I did think at the time that Levi's sauce wouldn't have got off the starting blocks if he'd been a dull, middle class, white, corporate type with a neat hair cut. Let's face it, the product is no more special than any run-of-the-mill jerk/barbecue sauce; it's essentially Asda's own brand variety delivered by a Bob Marley clone with a large dollop of Caribbean 'soul' ...and a few creepy crawlies if the production line workers all wear dreads!

What's more, it doesn't "put some music in your food" at all. I've seen it slopped onto a pile of chicken and veg and it didn't make so much as a peep. So that's a fib. The claim that the 'secret' recipe for Reggae Reggae Sauce was passed down by Levi's late grandmother has also been disputed... and anyway, it's hardly an enigma when the ingredients are listed in black and white on the jar (as stipulated by Food Standards Agency labeling regulations).

It just goes to show how easily public perception can be swayed by presenting an everyday item as exotic; as a corollary it becomes more alluring, mystical, and ultimately superior to an equivalent home-grown product.

This is apparent in adverts we see in British newspapers for supposedly revolutionary new medical treatments. Emblazoned in bold letters they'll often vociferate, 'developed in the US!!!', as if that somehow lends the technique unmitigated credibility. For balance they should point out that 'My Therapy Buddy (TM)' and George Bush were also 'developed in the US!!!'.

Eastern philosophies are another example. By movies in particular we are led to believe that the more steeped in vague mysticism and spirituality a culture is, the wiser its protagonists must be. Strangely enough if a local nutter cross-leggedly gazes skyward, arms outstretched reciting gobbledygook mantras to summon inner strength and chi equilibrium, he's considered just that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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Kiss From a Doze

I don't know what you'd call the lyrical equivalent of an actor 'phoning in' a performance, but Seal's latest *cough* 'hit' *cough* 'Secret' has got to be the definition of it. Did he get a buy into the next round because he's already won a number of music awards?

I go to sleep listening to the radio. This morning I woke up singing 'Secret' and in my semi-comatosed stupor assumed I must have made up the lyrics myself during the night and dismissed them as gibberish that couldn't possibly constitute a real, commercial song because it's essentially one line repeated over and over again really, really slowly (I heard you the first time!), interspersed with a few "oooh whooa ooh"s and "oh yes you are"s. I swear my dog's nocturnal posterior emissions possess more creative integrity and credibility. Maybe I should get him an agent. "Yes I should, oh yeah" *burp, gurgle*.

Anyhow, this got me wondering, which (non-instrumental obviously) piece of music has the fewest lyrics? I came up with several ideas, but am open to more suggestions.

The instructions to repeat either the first or second chorus within the lyrics to R.E.M.'s 'The One I Love' are composed of almost as many characters as the choruses themselves! The Beatles' 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road' goes one step further by only featuring the words in the title (fifteen times!) plus the line "No one will be watching us" (twice). 'Mouldy Old Dough' by Lieutenant Pigeon really takes the biscuit though; it contains only the words "Mouldy Old Dough" and "Dirty Old Man".
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Curse of Monkey Island demake demo-ed

'Jackpumpkinhead' has announced over on the International House of Mojo forums his intention to reassemble the third Secret of Monkey Island game in the series in glorious, old-school pixel art. Much like the first two games, this collaborative demake - or 'Old School Edition' - will be text-based, and feature a re-implementation of the original verb menu, albeit with an option to use keyboard shortcuts.

It's thought that dispensing with the imagination-trampling voice-overs will offer a more authentic, pre-CD-ROM days experience, while updating the sprites by way of a non-cartoony MI1-MI2 'mashup' will tie in nicely with the character tweaks introduced in Monkey Island 3 nevertheless keeping the graphics distinctly retro.

The reworked homage is to be constructed using the Adventure Game Studio, the graphics brought to life with a medley of tools including Deluxe Paint, GraphicsGale and Paint.NET, while the sound is likely to be swiped borrowed from the 'Curse of' original CD soundtrack, or re-imagined as MIDI tunes.

An early beta demo is available from the forum thread linked above. I'd urge you to grab it quick before LucasArts issue a cease and desist notice, relegating it to the history books as a doomed, collector's curiosity Maniac Mansion Deluxe style.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

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Don't adjust your sets

Browsing the web on a Spectrum is a bit of a novelty, but you wouldn't want the wind to change and for it to stick like that. Only by foisting image compression on their mobile broadband customers, that's what T-Mobile expect you to live with.

...and I did until I came across a neat little workaround; a Firefox extension known as Modify Headers and the instructions for hacking the T-Mobile web proxy.

Reminds me of buying Robocop way back in 1988 after being mesmerized by the groundbreaking graphics on the back of the box, and seeing this! when I loaded the game on my Spectrum 128k.

At least then they had the decency to admit - albeit in micro-print - that the screenshots were taken from the arcade version.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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*nix Amiga emulation reboot

The Ubiquitous Amiga Emulator, aka WinUAE's neglected big brother, has been stagnant for over three years now, shutting Linux and Mac users out in the cold where new features, stability and compatibility advances are concerned.

Thankfully all that is about to change with the release of PUAE; GnoStiC's attempt to pick up the reigns from E-UAE, itself a UAE resuscitation.

With the original source code gathering dust, PUAE takes its inspiration from the lovingly nurtured Windows incarnation. While it's still in beta mode with plenty of bugs to iron out, it already sports a primitive, integrated GUI and is receiving a warm reception from the Amiga community.
The emulator can be configured manually by editing the default.uaerc file, or by tweaking it via the Hi-Toro frontend, before running the standalone application. Technical support and pre-compiled binaries are available from the English Amiga Board's 'other UAE' forum.