Monday, March 4, 2013

2012 Pick-up Round-up

Usually, I post all my ill-advised spending decisions in NeoGAF's monthly Pick-Up thread. Last year though, despite photographing a lot of the stuff I got, I ended up not getting around to posting most of it. Rather than flooding GAF with a sea of badly-taken pictures of 90's compilations and the like, I thought I'd move it over here instead in the first pick up post I've done in about four years. Lucky you.

To start off with we have the most awesomely-packaged component switch ever, the third volume of Retro Gamer eMags (The full magazine scans are still, much to my disappointment, in a super-low resolution.), and a free Bird's Eye bear that I bought several boxes of fish fingers just to get (he's currently on top of my DVD rack keeping guard).

Beneath all of those is my personal holy grail: Zig and Zag's 1992 album, Never Mind the Zogabongs. I've been searching for this quite exhaustively for the last four or five years. It's super-rare now, but a (really pristine) copy finally showed up on eBay in August for about €20. Needless to say, I grabbed it immediately, finally replacing the digital version I had that, er, fell off the back of a virtual lorry.

Possibly the only decent thing I made during my years of doing art in school, this Batik finally made out of my mouldy protfolio and onto my wall last Summer. It might have taken a lot of careful measuring and a pricey, custom-made frame, but I think it turned out great and I'm glad I finally got around to it.

Picked up a couple of new mice back in May. My old Dell mouse was looking pretty under the weather, so I gabbed a Gigabyte gaming mouse for general use - looks cool and really comfortable, but it has a nasty habit of not turning on when Windows boots, so I'm not sure I'd really recommend it.

The other one's a hand-held scanner combined with a (pretty uncomfortable) mouse. Although the the scans I've made with it don't stack up with ones from a flatbed scanner detail-wise, it's a fast, effective way of scanning in larger-than-A4 pages.

Also pictured: my first dance mat. I think my feet might be a bit too bit for this mat, but I've pretty much managed to adapt to it now. Having fun with Dancing Stage Max so far, but I wish I didn't have to trudge through so much shitty early 00's chart music to get to the good stuff. (Ugh, that fucking Natasha Bedingfield song. *shudder*)

A very shiny selection of DVDs and Blu-rays from back in July. Unusually for Disney products, the three cartoon collections above were actually quite cheap at about £6 a pop. Never really saw much Disney stuff growing up, but I've really enjoyed what I've watched so far; possibly more than the Looney Tunes shorts that I've also been revisiting recently.

A few more random DVDs box sets from around the same time. Me being me, of course, I haven't got around to watching any of this stuff yet. Well, aside from a few minutes of Ghostbusters, which, for a show I adored as a kid, I have to say really didn't leave a great impression.

More animated stuff. As someone who's only ever seen The Simpsons shuffled around on RTE years after the episodes originally aired, I've always wanted to watch it in order, catching up on the episodes I missed and seeing how it evolved over the years (though I'm planning to bail out once I get to the more modern stuff). I've watched most of Season 1 so far, which has its moments, but I doubt I'd have have kept watching beyond the first couple of episodes if it was a modern show. It's just not as funny or as well-written as later seasons, not to mention this season's fixation on Bart and the family in general. For me, and I'm sure a lot of other people, Homer and the supporting cast were always where it was at.

More DVDs and couple of other bits and pieces. Picked up The Animatrix around the same time as the trilogy set, as well as a used copy of the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack - always kind of a guilty pleasure, now I can finally listen to that hot P.O.D. cut whenever I please.

In the top right is Dustin's second album, Unplucked. Although it would have came out as I was rapidly loosing interest in The Den, and I can't say I ever really cared for the character, I saw it for cheap on Amazon and I couldn't resist. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed it.

Between those two is 6 Underground, the Sneaker Pimps single, part of my 2012 quest to get hold of all the early Sneaker Pimps B-sides. Currently working on getting all the early Garbage B-Sides. Damn it, bands, why isn't this type of stuff available online? The last thing I need is a pile of CD singles taking up precious space.

Already posted this on GAF, but that pic didn't have the set in all its retail-packaged glory. :D Really enjoying going through these so far. The recently-restored Connery movies look extremely impressive in hi-def.

In anticipation of The Hobbit, I went and bought the Lord of the Rings trilogy on Blu-Ray. With the extended edition set still pretty pricey, I opted for the theatrical releases for now. For those keeping count this would be the fourth time I've bought The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers (VHS, DVD, Extended DVD, Blu-ray) and the third time I've bought The Return of the King (went straight to DVD for that one), and it won't be the last.

I love Amazon's Marketplace. You can buy so much weird, random-ass music for next to nothing used. Above, for instance is a MTV endorsed nu-metal compilation from 2000, one of the excellent, but out-of-print Disky greatest hits box sets, the soundtrack from the Mortal Kombat movie, a trio of Now compilations, the 2 Live Crew masterpiece, As Nasty as They Wanna Be and a couple of releases from The Revs, a short-lived Donegal band that I was quite into for a few months in 2002. Marvellous.

Moving on to more "credible" material, I would have bought most of these around June or so, all used again, apart from The Cake Sale album, which I thought I'd finally check out. I kind of remember it being a big deal back in 2006, but I've haven't really paid attention to the Irish music scene in about a decade. Not that there isn't good stuff to be found there; I've just never discovered a way of getting to it without wading through a pile of over-rated dreck first.

I'm not sure how I missed these, but in 2006, a trio of licensed, PEGI-rated Spectrum compilations apparently hit retail shelves from a British publisher/developer called Alten8. I do love me some retro compilations, so I grabbed these as soon as I discovered them on Amazon. Content-wise, there aren't too many big name titles on these, and the bundled emulator isn't great, but grab yourself a more competent one (I'm using ZXSpin) and you've got a wealth of old, obscure Speccy games to explore here. Might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I've been enjoying my time with them so far. Super Kid ftw!

On the bottom row, I finally got hold of a copy of Grim Fandango for nice reasonable price. Despite Lucasart's best efforts, the only adventure game of note I'm missing from them now is Zak McKracken. Judging by the prices it's going for, I doubt I'll be picking that any time soon though, barring a digital re-release.

Over on the left we have two Blu-ray PC game compilations I also came across while poking around on Amazon. The first one had 12 games from TopWare Interactive and the second has 30 (including a few expansion packs though) from JoWood. Just what I needed for my backlog. Well, at least they were cheap.

Some current gen console stuff. Looking forward to finally experiencing the epic that is Disaster: Day of Crisis. :D

So, back in July, I was browsing on Amazon, decided to check what PSPs were selling for now, and as nothing good ever came from me doing that, of course I ended up buying one. While the current model wouldn't have been a bad deal for about £90, I ultimately decided to go for a used PSP 3000 from a reputable-looking Marketplace seller, mostly for the TV-out function (which actually looks kind of bad on a HDTV).

Around the same time I picked up a (really overpriced) used copy of EA Replay and a new dual pack of Mega Man Powered-Up and Maverick Hunter X (and some candy!). Out of the three games, Powered-Up is the only one I've put serious time into so far, and it's pretty damn great. Really glad I didn't get a PSP Go; I'd have missed out on it entirely.

And here we have a bunch of used PS2 stuff. And, yes, that is indeed a copy of the official 2004 Olympic Games game. Even though you'd need to pay me, probably a lot, to summon up any enthusiasm for the real Olympics, I've always been weirdly fascinated with the line of button mashing games based on them. Mind you, it's more of a 99p fascination than a £37.99 one.

I mean, holy shit, £37.99! Who in their right mind would fork out that much for a shitty, licensed sports game.

Since they cleared out their PS2 stuff, I've barley been in our local GameStop I'm afraid. Even at rock bottom prices I wouldn't dream of picking up any of the so-so current gen stuff now chiefly lining their shelves, but back in June, I found myself with a voucher, so I guess I had to go and find something to get with it.

Having only picked up my first Rock Band instrument in late 2011, Rock Band at €5.99 was a pretty good buy, and not having played a Soul Calibur game since 2, I thought I'd give IV a bash (insert boob joke here). Finally, resisting the temptation to pick a movie out of the incredible line-up of UMD videos littering the PSP section, I ran the voucher out with a copy of Gunpey.

Below those we have more Olympic nonsense, and the PC version of V-Rally 1, a game on the N64 I basically forced myself to like after getting it one Christmas. Having finally conquered World Rally Fever (also in June) I decided it was time to revisit another notorious racing game in my backlog, the PC version giving me the chance to retry Championship rounds if I screwed them up (thanks to a little save game manipulation). And of course it had the added bonus of running at a much higher resolution and frame rate.

It's kind of become my thing during October to watch as many horror movies as I can and to work my way through some candy while doing so. Before I came up with the idea of ordering in some US reinforcements, I had these two standing by for the occasion. And by standing by, I mean half-eaten.

 The verdict: don't waste your time with Chew Crew, Monster Mix has all your chemical-filled British candy needs taken care of, even if it does only include one pack of Double Dip - a crushing let-down if ever there was one. :D

Thirteen more digital games, and that's just from GOG. Though to be fair, I have already finished Tomb Raider 1 and put a good deal of time into Sim City 2000 Network Edition back in 1998. I was kind disappointed to discover that this version is missing the much smoother Windows interface of Network Edition though. I'm starting to suspect that I'll end up seeking out a copy of that now, rather than adapting to this one. Ah, another $5.99 well-spent. :D

But, holy shit, if grabbing Sim City 2000 without a little research first was an ill-advised move, my GamersGates purchases for the year were a fucking atrocity. Not only did I pick up an 85 game strong collection of 1C games back in April (including such bangers as: Hard Truck: Apocalypse, El Matador, Konung 2; and everyone's favourite, The Stalin Subway ), I also grabbed the widely-derided Sonic the Hedgehog 4, a demolition company simulator, and even Daika-fucking-tana.

Being the type of person who has to at least playing something for a few hours after paying for it, it's safe to say that I've got some interesting gaming experiences ahead of me.

Some Steam stuff from outside the big Summer and Holiday sales. And I know DNF is terrible but (a) I was able to get it for free and (b) I had to know.

When I'm not busy buying used music on Amazon, I do sometimes pay for a couple of digital releases. Usually not on iTunes, but I find it's the most convenient player to take screencaps from. :D Most of the stuff above is actually from various €5 album promotions on 7digital - something I wish they'd do more of. Goodness knows, decent promotions by digital music stores are few and far between over here.

You might have to squint to see them, but above is a fuck-ton of virtual console purchases from the previous year. Why the sudden resurgence of spending? Well, I really wanted to grab a copy of the Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack from Club Nintendo and with no more point-bearing Wii games I wanted to buy (never really got into the DS), I decided I'd run down my VC/WiiWare wishlist a little instead. And yes, World, you were right, Ice Climber isn't actually very good at all.

Still refusing to pay for Microsoft's ridiculous Gold service, sales on XBLA are somewhat of a rare occurrence for a Silver pleb such as myself, but there are still some decent deals to be had if you keep an eye out for them. Now if I could only get around to playing any of them...

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