Friday, June 29, 2012

deviantArt Updates 29/06/12


Things have been pretty busy in gallery land lately, with seven deviations added over the last couple of weeks; naturally of varying levels of quality. :D First up from last week, we have Painting Prep. Work, another set of Junior Cert. preparatory work I scanned in, this time with my shiny, new mouse scanner. Unfortunately the quality of the scan doesn't quite compare with what you'd get from a flatbed, but I was able to do it in a couple of hours as opposed to a few days, so there's that. Dark Flower and Kaleidoscope Collage finally put a stop to the stream of kaleidoscope images I've been dumping on dA of late. And rounding things off is Roof Kitty, a cute pic of one of our cats I took a few weeks ago. This week's stuff kicks off quite randomly with Extreme Close-up (Whoaaaaaa), a blown-up version of a Windows cursor I made like, twelve years ago now. Doodles 5 is exactly what you think it is. And wrapping things up is Break of Dawn, quite a nice pic I took after a very late-night retro-gaming session a few days ago. I wish I was playing something good, but sadly it was World Rally Fever again. I don't have a problem though; I can stop trying to beat this crappy kart racer any time I want.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

World Rally Fever: The Road to Victory Part 3

So, after tussling with the insane final track for days, I managed to seize victory in the Amateur Cup. Next up was the Pro-Am, one that I'd only dabbled with back in the day that, for the first time in this campaign featured a track I'd never been on or even seen before. And even more worryingly, another bloody Hawaiian track. This wasn't going to be easy.

Utah (Pro-Am)

The cup kicks off with a reasonably easy track, though my rustiness here stops it from being a complete cakewalk. Well, that and Chuckie J. being an asshole as usual. :D The only genuinely tricky section here is the dino skeleton about halfway through, which took quite a bit of practice and quite a bit of restraint with the accelerator to get past without stalling.

Kyoto (Pro-Am) 

Kyoto is a different matter altogether. While the rocks littering the sides of the track can prove hazardous (as you'll see above :D), the trickiest parts here are the two indoor areas. The second one features this ridiculous wall slapped in the middle of it, between two narrow doorways, requiring some insanely tight manoeuvring to get through at speed; exactly what you need to do to stand a chance of placing well here. The first one isn't much better with a pair of doors that open and close in a pattern that doesn't necessarily coincide with you needing to get past them. It's entirely possible here to find one of the doors slamming shut as you hurtle down the track towards it, requiring you to brake to avoid hitting it; something which never seems to impact the AI racers, who'll happily speed past your stalled car as the door edges open.

Hawaii (Pro-Am)

 15/08/11 - Eff me, I'd forgotten about the second Hawaii stage in the Pro Cup. That's where I'm stuck at the moment. - JiliK's Backloggery

Here we go again; another five laps around an track so narrow that you need to lube up your kart beforehand. :D Though honestly, despite the contradictory video evidence, I didn't find this one as hard as the first. There was a ton of different bullshit to navigate around on that track, keeping you constantly on your toes, constantly changing your strategy for each obstacle. Here the track alternates only between wide, open sections and narrow corridors of trees, so you always know what's coming up next. And once you've mastered getting through the wooded sections you've pretty much mastered the track, even if that's easier said than done.

Sorry about the lack of sound effects here, but there's no way I'm going back to do this again. :D

Italy (Pro-Am)

17/08/11 - Managed to get to Italy in Pro-Am for the first time ever tonight. Still struggling with Hawaii, but the cup's firmly in sight now. :D - JiliK's Backloggery

Things could have gone really pear-shaped here if Italy turned out to be a track in the same vein as Kyoto or Hawaii, but thankfully it on the easier side of the game's courses. The video above is my very first run through the track. A run I was feeling quite confident about until I ran afoul of the track's only obstacles: a set of cranes swinging huge crates across the road. Although you've got a much better chance of avoiding these than Kyoto's sliding doors, you've really got to stay sharp to make sure you don't receive a face full of splinters as you approach them.

21/08/11 - The Pro-Am Cup is toast, only four tracks left to go now.

Out of the four tracks, Kyoto and Hawaii were the two stumbling blocks, but once I'd finally got to grips with them, the cup soon followed, unlocking the Pro Cup to me for the first time ever. *gulp*

On to the Grand Finale!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pilotwings (SNES): The Final Push

I was pretty late to the SNES party in the 90's, only getting my hands on one in late 1996 after bugging my parents for years about getting a console. It wasn't exactly the cutting edge of gaming technology at the time, but I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway, playing Super Mario World and Killer Instinct, not quite until my fingers bled, but at least until they developed serious blisters. :D Although I managed to wrangle the purchase of an N64 the following Christmas, I didn't just give up on the console I'd dreamed of owning for years, continuing to buy a handful of new SNES games every year up until the early 2000s.

Finally a use for this dumb photo: my entire video game collection circa 1997.

One of these was Pilotwings, which I got via mail order from the UK around Easter '99. I'd seen a bit of coverage of Pilotwings 64 in various gaming mags at the time and although I knew nothing about the SNES original, it was cheap enough to give it a try. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by a challenging, but fun flight game that was quite unlike anything I'd played up to that point. I quickly worked my way up through the various licence classes in the game over the Easter break, finally grabbing the gold licence on the 05/04/99, or so I wrote in the back of the manual. At that, I thought I was done with Pilotwings,  but then I was confronted with something I didn't expect.

I don't know if this makes me better or worse than the kids who wrote stuff in the memo pages.

Achieving the gold licence didn't turn out to be the final challenge in the game after all, far from it in fact, next up was Jungle Strike-like level that threw out the danger-free, point-based challenges of the previous stages and tossed you into an attack helicopter flying through a bloody war zone. The goal of the stage was to fly to a landing pad, avoiding or destroying the anti-aircraft missile launchers and land, rescuing a handful of hostages at the landing pad. It sounded simple enough, but playing through it again and again proved otherwise. The missiles were actually quite difficult to avoid, especially the 15 or so near the landing pad, and taking out all those launchers to enable a safe landing, while avoiding the barrage of missiles coming at you was a monumentally tall order. One that took me four years on and off to finally fulfil.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the game either. Following another four licence classes, this time earned on night time or snowy stages, was another rescue mission, identical to the first apart from taking place at night. Holy shit, these guys get taken hostage more often than Princess freaking Peach. Beating the daytime version of the level was a long, difficult slog, only ended by a moment of pure blind luck, so there was no way I was going to put the same effort into beating it again in 2003, not with the fat stack of games then at my disposal. I gave up and wrote Pilotwings off as a lost cause.

Three weeks ago, after being stuck on it for the last nine years, I finally sat down and beat the damn thing. I'll admit I used an emulator to skip past the section of the level I can play with my eyes closed and just kept re-attempting the final section over and over, but I beat it; I came up with a strategy to systematically take out every bloody missile launcher near the landing pad and I fucking beat it. The landing was wobbly at best, I was kind of in shock at finally clearing the area, but in the end I managed to set that motherfucker down with a thud, finally taking Pilotwings out of my backlog.

Although I tried, sadly I didn't manage to grab that magic moment on video, but a week later I took another run at it to do just that. It's no more neater or skilled than the first time around, and it's ridiculously reckless compared to the other videos I've seen of this, but hey, at least it's a fun watch. Next up, Pilotwings 64?

Backlog Assault: 2011 Wrap Party - PDZ Edition

Bought: 19 July 2009  
From: GameStop  
Price: €13.00
Beaten: 04 May 2011

Backloggery Dump:
  • --/06/10 - I'm up to Mission 5, pretty damn disappointing so far.
  • 04/05/11 - Beaten, just on Agent, but I don't think I'd be able to endure harder versions of some of those levels. (sigh) PDZ, what a bummer.
Previously on JiliK's Blog:

20/08/09 - I'm planning on picking up a 360 soon, so I decided to have a gander around the used section at GameStop to see if I could find anything interesting. Prefect Dark Zero immediately caught my eye. While I know it's not the greatest of games, I sunk a hell of a lot of time into Perfect Dark in the N64 days and I really wanted to check this out. And hey, it comes with a fake DataDyne security card thing. That's got to be worth €13 all on it's own.


I went in with some pretty low expectations here and still I ended up disappointed. That's not to say the game's all bad. I actually thought the weapons felt pretty good, the multiplayer seemed like it could be decent from what I played of it, and I even quite enjoyed one of the later levels: a Middle-Eastern city at night-time, with plenty of opportunity for sniping.

Mostly though, PDZ just isn't much fun to play. It's not like there are a multitude of glaring problems with the game; it's just a pretty dull, generic shooter. Something that becomes all the more more disappointing when you recall the scope, ambition and craftsmanship of the original game. And that's not nostalgia talking; I was playing the excellent XBLA game right alongside this one.

And I can't believe I paid €13 for the collector's edition. D There's seriously nothing on the bonus disc worth bothering with - a few bits of concept art, a theme and a few gamerpics if I recall correctly. If you must check this out, leave the steelbox version where you found it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nintendo's E3 Conference 2012: Not-so-live Impressions


It's the big one, well at least for me anyway. :D To shake things up a little this year, I decided to make a few quick predictions before I hit play on the conference. Of course I'd have loved a huge blow-out full of awesome games, but watching these year after year has taught me to keep my expectations a little more in check. These were my relatively modest predictions for the conference:

1. The next 3D Mario will be shown in some form. I know that would be unthinkable in the past given the relative recency of Mario Galaxy 2, but with the glut of Mario games in the last few years, I don't think those rules apply anymore.

2. I think they're going to announce the next Wii Sports title here. I'm guessing they think it's big enough deal at this stage to not make it a pack-in, maybe not even with a peripheral.

3. I guess this is more of an anti-prediction, but I think Metroid and Zelda are fairly unlikely to show up here. Maybe on 3DS?

4. There's obviously going to be a big blow out of New Super Mario Bros. Mii or whatever terrible name they're giving it. :D

5. Surely to goodness we're finally going to see Pikmin 3 here. I expect heavy use of the gamepad screen and some really pretty graphics.

6. I think Nintendo are going to delve into their vault and resurrect a franchise we haven't seen for a while on Wii U. The fanboy in me says Star Fox, but I think F-Zero or maybe Wave Race are more likely candidates.

7. I imagine EA and Ubisoft will be repping hard here, without too much new stuff to show off.

8. I think there are going to be at least one or two big, new third party announcements made, even if they're just logos; either timed exclusivity or significant, exclusive Wii U content.

9. And that's most likely going to be it, though I bet there will be at least one big announcement saved for the Developer's Conference tomorrow seeing as they're streaming it. A teaser Smash Bros. trailer seems like a strong possibility again.

10.If you thought they were done talking about the philosophy of the Wii U on Sunday, prepare to be disappointed.

A few cool core games, some casual stuff, some third party announcements. Surely Nintendo would be able to deliver at least that? Well, let's delve into the real thing and find out!

0:00:00 - Hmm, an age-gated conference. Just where did you pull the Wii U from this time, Reggie?

0:00:25 - So, looks like we're opening with some kind of skit. I expect Starfox 64 promo vid levels of greatness here, guys.

0:00:35 - Fuck yeah, Pikmin!

0:01:16 - An army of Pikmin march after Shiggy. Video is certainly delivering so far. :D

0:01:43 - Pikmin talk, yes, yes, yes.

0:02:06 - This is so dumb. I love it. :D Look at how pissed that middle guy in the teal shirt looks. God, I hope they cut to Jeff from Giant Bomb here.

0:02:29 - The whistle! And Bill Trinen wobbling on stage. Already better than the MS conference. :D

0:03:00 - Yep, more Wii U philosophy. Is the lack of an available TV screen for gaming really a problem? I've got two TVs and a monitor in this room alone. :D

0:03:20 - You know, waiting for the console to boot up is never an annoyance for me. Wading through the dozen or so logos that preface every game now though... What's the Wii U going to do about that, eh Shiggy?

0:03:40 - "This is Wii U". Shiggy's showing off the gamepad, but I can't help thinking he's continuing to fuel the confusion some folks had about the nature of the system here.

0:04:00 - Oh, that lifestyle photography. Always a highlight of the Nintendo conf. Everyone in this pic looks kind of insane. :D

0:04:09 - It's finally dawned on me that the Pikmin in Shiggy's pocket is a handkerchief.

0:04:43 - Woo, Pikmin 3. No messing about with subtitles here.

0:05:24 - Shiggy's dead on with the camera situation. I never felt really satisfied with the camera position the the fist two games no matter where I put it. HD should be a big help. Can't really tell how nice the game looks here though; I've got the video playing in a small window so I can do this at the same time.

0:05:50 - Bridge-building looks cool. Ooh, a new Pikmin type.

0:06:13 - Liking the rock pikmin. I'm going to tear up some bulborbs with these bad boys. Wiimote + nunchuck for the controls; interesting. Well, it worked well in the NPC games, I guess.

0:06:27 - Hm, don't know about waggling to charge, Shiggy.

0:07:01 - So the gamepad is going to used to show a scrollable map. Will definitely be useful, but I was kind of expecting more.

0:07:39 - Okay, the gamepad can be used on it's own too, allowing for some deeper strategy. Shiggy's showing off four new leaders for the Pikmin, not including Olimar. If I picked things up correctly these guys appear in the gamepad-only mode. There's almost certainly got to be some multiplayer/online feature utilising these guys too.

0:09:25 - No, it's a Pikmin plushie! Pretty excited for this now; not sure my feeble brain will be able to co-ordinate four captains at once though. :D

0:09:45 - Oh Shiggy, I could just eat you up. :D No time to ponder the unsettling ramifications of the previous sentence; it's Reggie time, bitches.

0:09:57 - "I feel just like a purple pikmin" Come on, Reggie, your not that overweight.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Microsoft's E3 Conference 2012: No-so-live Impressions

It's that time of year again, people. I missed the Microsoft conference live again this year, but caught Gamespot's recording a few hours later. So do Microsoft have any surprises to pull out of the bag this time, or will it be more of the same old franchises, more Kinect and more media stuff? Given how these things have turned out since I started watching them, and the fact that we're at the end of an extremely long console cycle here, I wasn't exactly holding my breath.

0:00:06 - Looking at the empty stage wondering if anything's going to come out of this besides misery, despair and Halo. :D

0:00:23 - The Xbox 360 start-up logo. Weird.

0:00:35 - Straight into a video. Call of Duty, surely. Serious face is serious.

0:00:56 - Nope Halo 4. Still haven't played that PC copy of Halo 1 btw. :D

0:02:19 - Well, that live action trailer was a load of corny looking, nonsensical shit. But never fear, Master Chief's here.

0:02:38 - He seems oddly unfazed by the ship crashing a few feet directly above him.

0:03:00 - A giant ball? What?

0:03:31 - Sure looks like Halo.

0:03:44 - Graphics are quite nice though.

0:04:58 - "Activity all around us" - four minor enemies at most.

0:05:17 - Okay, in fairness, that's a lot of enemies. No wait, they're running away. :D

0:07:19 - Maybe if I knew anything about Halo, I'd be pretty pumped right now, but all that footage has me thinking about is a new Metroid Prime. Come on Retro, get on it!

0:07:33 - Nooooooooooooo! Sexy AI girl is dying. Or something.

0:07:47 - And the crowd goes wild.

0:07:56 - No, I won't welcome Don Mattrick, lady.

0:08:17 - Wait an minute. The conference was exclusive to Xbox Live gold members on the 360? Bloody hell, Microsoft.

0:08:29 - One Xbox fanboy wooing the sales figures in the audience. Douche chill!

0:09:02 - Yep, the magic of Kinect. Rider, meet horse; horse, meet rider.

0:09:57 - Another trailer.

0:11:04 - I guess this'll fill that niche for brutal torture left by 24.

0:11:25 - Yep, Splinter Cell. Well, at least it's not a Kinect game. Probably.

0:11:42 - Throw in a few vials of nerve gas and a shadowy American behind it all and that's totally a plot from 24.

0:12:29 - Looks like Sam's been watching some Starsky and Hutch DVDs lately. :D

0:13:36 - Kinect voice recognition - still not a compelling gameplay feature in any way.

0:15:57 - You know, I might be into this though. As far as stealth goes, it seems much more along the lines of Assassin's Creed than old school Splinter Cell. The spy stuff in the series always looked appealing, but it always looked way too demanding for me. Really hope Kinect isn't required for this though.

0:16:41 - Compelling single player. My favourite kind, as always.

0:16:54 - Zzzzzzzz EA Spots stuff. What could they possibly have to show for 360 at this point?

0:17:54 - Kinect again. So, nothing then?

0:18:58 - Changing formations with Kinect might be the first useful thing anyone's come up with for voice commands on Kinect so far. Substitutions look kind of fiddly though, and everything else is bleeping gimmick central.

0:19:51 - Madden stuff. Time for a quick power nap methinks.

0:20:41 - Shenanigans! No way this hasn't been rehearsed and choreographed to death beforehand. I'm on to you, Joe Montana.

0:22:04 - "A new darkness threatens Albion". Oh, goody Fable: The Journey. I heard it's on-rails.

0:22:27 - Not Keanu Reeves unleashes his Kinect magic and suddenly we're watching the intro to Super Mario Galaxy.

0:23:00 - Not really. It's more like Dragon Quest Swords, but somehow even less appealing.

0:23:42 - "Only the best games are on Xbox" [Citation Needed]

0:23:52 - Fucking really? Another Halo and and that shitty on-rails Fable game make this the biggest year for games on Xbox?

0:24:38 - So I guess this segment is Microsoft making sure core gamers know they're being catered to this year. here comes the trailer for the next Gears of War.

0:25:24 - Sure looks like Gears, but I wonder what Ice T thinks.

0:26:11 - And a Forza trailer.

0:26:29 - Street racing. Bold new direction, guys; If it weren't for the dubstep, I'd be convinced I'd warped back to 2002 somehow.

0:27:42 - Looks like the content provider announcement segment. Always a highligZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

0:28:06 - Hold the phone, guys. Searching movies by genre is coming to Xbox.

0:28:25 - Yeah, we get it, guy. Xbox Bing Horse Porn.

0:29:06 - "The magic of voice search". Kinect really isn't that magical. Okay, Microsoft?

0:29:18 - Oh good, the same shit again in Spanish. :D

0:30:56 - Do people really watch sports through the 360? Really?

0:34:38 - Xbox Music. The dream of Zune lives on.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

JiliK's N64 Tape

 serving suggestion

Back in secondary school, I had a good mate who'd come over every now and then to play some N64 games. In 2002, he hadn't been around in a while; not surprising, considering it was the year of our final exams, but dammit, I had several newly-acquired games I was desperate to show him at the time. So, in a typical display of patience and reason, I set about making an elaborate, VHS-based highlight reel of the games in question to pass along to him at school. I think I spent about two weeks putting the whole thing together, N64 hooked up to my crappy old VCR, remote in one hand, controller in the other. The resulting tape wasn't exactly a master class in gaming, but I think I got all the cool bits of the games I wanted to show him in there. Questionable gaming skill aside, I was really proud of my little production, watching it several times myself before finally passing it onto my mate.

When the age of YouTube dawned, I thought it would have been kind of neat to put the tape up there for all to see, but there was one slight problem: I fucking taped over it, and not even by accident. I guess that episode of Friends or whatever was just too important not to record and cherish forever. :D Well, a few months ago, it was ten years since I made the tape; I'd just picked up a USB capture device, and a copy of Sony Vegas; and I still had all the games within arm's reach. Hey, what if I remade it? In a move just as dumb, or maybe dumber than the first time around, that's exactly what I did; shot for shot, as best as I could remember. So, without further ado, let's fucking watch it:

Part One: Conker's Bad Fur Day

Part Two: The World is Not Enough

Part Three: Star Fox 64

Part Four: International Superstar Soccer 98

Part Five: Perfect Dark

deviantArt Updates 03/06/12


Got a mixed bag of stuff for you guys this time. First up is Unfocused, a multi-colour, pastel wallpaper I've been tinkering with since last year. It took quite a bit of restraint not to crank up the saturation and crank down the brightness (as usual) on this one, but somehow I persevered, and I think it works much better as a wallpaper this way. Also new this week are Spiky and Carnival, two more bits of kaleidoscope nonsense I made while messing about with Spooky Guy last year. And last, but now least, are two quite nice shots of an apple blossom (Apple Blossom 1, Apple Blossom 2), that I took in the wooded area behind my parents' place a couple of weeks ago. I know this makes me sound like the most pretentious asshole in the world, but I liked how the first pic turned out so much, I've ordered a big poster of it so I can pop it into a spare frame I've got hanging around.

(I'll try to resist touching myself while in its vicinity. :D)