Tuesday, January 28, 2014

deviantArt Updates 28/01/14

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Another Bloody Reblog: Pick-ups 11/11/13

(Originally posted on Tumblr)

Windjammers, Twinkle Star Sprites, Parasol Stars / Wii Virtual Console

So like many a duder, after watching a bunch of Giant Bomb’s Extra Life marathon, I really wanted to get my hands on Windjammers. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Neo Geo or a spare hundred bucks lying around. What I did have was a disused UK Wii, and a Japanese VC release of Windjammers with my name on it. There were certainly a few tense, confusing moments, but over the course of a couple of hours I managed to change the region of the console, set up a new Wii Shop account and grab a copy of the game for an extremely reasonable 900 yen. Haven’t had a chance to play it with anyone yet, but I’ve had a lot of fun with the single player so far. Took me a little while to get the hang of though (and man, that time limit can be freaking brutal).

Having opened the gateway to the promised land of the Japanese VC, I also grabbed the other rare Neo Geo game on there that I was desperate to have: Twinkle Star Sprites - a really fun cute ‘em up / competitive puzzle game mash-up. Again for a paltry 900 yen. After that, I went down the dark hole of researching what else would be worth getting on there and more importantly, what would be playable without needing translation. Not a simple undertaking when you can’t understand a single Japanese character, but with a combination of Nintendo.co.jp, Google and guesswork, I’m making pretty good progress. Already discovered that Parasol Stars was up there - the super-rare follow-up to Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands. For only 600 yen! Japanese Virtual Console, I think I love you.

The Firemen / Super Famicom / £22.71

But before any of that went down, I already had my first physical retro import ever on the way: The Firemen for the Super Famicom - an arcadey fire-fighting game that did actually see a release in Europe, but now retails for obscene sums on eBay. Perhaps not the wisest purchasing decision - it’s pretty much a blind buy and I don’t even have a way to play it at the moment - but seeing the auction ticking down with no bids and with such a low price, I just couldn’t resist. I’ve got a Retron5 pre-ordered anyway. It’ll be fine. :D

Super Play Issues 3, 6, 8, 11 / £25.98

And finally, continuing with the SNES retro love, I picked up a few more issues of Super Play on eBay last week, the unofficial SNES magazine that begat N64, NGC and NGamer. Always enjoy reading through old gaming magazines, and this was a pretty good one, though it doesn’t quite have the same goofy sense of humour that you get in N64 and it’s successors.

Gotta love that Wil Overton cover art though!

Cooking: Butternut Squash Pie

Butternut Squash Pie - Pic 1

Being a little tired of soup, I thought I'd try something different different with a butternut squash I found myself with in November. Having established that butternut squash pie was indeed a thing, I set about rounding up the necessary ingredients, only to find that I was all out of condensed milk. A key component, but I was far too deep into the pie-making process to quit at this stage. Queue a desperate scramble to find a alternative recipe, which lead me to this one here.

I was a bit unsure how things would go, with this new recipe calling for about a cup more more butternut squash than I had, and tension levels reached critical when it yielded considerably more, and considerably thinner filing than I've ever dealt with before.

Butternut Squash Pie - Pic 2

In the end though, the pie turned out well. Quite similar to pumpkin pie as you'd expect, but a little sweeter, and a little lighter; both in terms of flavour, and consistency. The former though, I'd chalk up to the shortage of butternut squash. Another cooking disaster averted.

Shoddy-ass latticework aside. :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

deviantArt Updates 02/01/14

Hey everyone, and happy new year!

So, normally in these posts I'd be running through the latest bits of 4 or 5 year old work I've finally gotten around to posting, but man, things have changed over the last few months. Back in April or so I decided I should stop wasting my time playing phone games while watching TV and try my hand at a drawing app instead. Things got off to a pretty shaky start, but after a few weeks I really started to get the hang of it, producing some nifty little doodles in the end. When I finally moved into the world of tablet ownership in the summer, I shifted my doodling over there and with a bigger screen and more practice at my disposal, I've been putting out bigger, better and much weirder stuff ever since. It's the first time I've been drawing regularly and experimenting with new stuff since at least 2006 and I've got to say: it feels pretty good. Up today is another batch of that new work, joining the four drawings I put up in late November. Hope you guys enjoy them, and here's to a new year full of tabletey oddness.

Clearoutageddon Part Six: Final Destination

After a couple of months of de-cluttering, and disposing of as much stuff as I could online, I was finally ready to head out with the remaining haul to one of our local charity shops - a haul that actually contained amongst everything else a frankly depressing number of bad purchasing decisions from the very recent past:

I'm kind of ashamed to admit it, but there are a lot of DVDs (and Blu-rays) in my collection I've only ever watched once; the four on the left here being prime examples. Unlike many of the others though, these four I was pretty confident I'd never want to watch again.

Face Off, The Grudge, The Eye - all decent, but action and horror are two genres where the movies really have to be top notch, Terminator 2/The Omen calibre stuff before I'll watch them more than once. Unfortunately I bought all these before I'd finally come to realise that.

As for stand-up, I've yet to see a comedy set I've had any desire to rewatch; I'm starting to suspect that maybe it's just not my thing. (Thank goodness I don't get lumbered with any of the stand up DVDs that seem to come out in their thousands every Christmas).

The Goldfinger DVD on the other hand, I never watched at all. I picked it up for €4 in a CD Wow sale back in 2009. Seemed like a great deal, but then I ended up picking up the whole Connery Bond collection for €20 a couple of months later, having barley removed the shrink wrap from this. Whoops.

And finally, The Ministry of Sound Annual 2000. Or is it?

Actually, no. Inside, to my dismay, was the previous year's compilation which I'd already picked up a couple of years before. Not that I blame the seller on Amazon, with MoS using the year 2000 to market their CDs for two years running. I can only hope that the eventual charity shop buyer doesn't mind a bit of surprise. :D

The only engagement I had with Omen remake up until very recently was listening to a really softball interview with the director the Summer it came out while checking out the copy of Tekken 2 I'd just bought on eBay, simultaneously thinking "Yeah, this movie's going to be shit" and "Man, I should have that PS1 I ordered like, tomorrow. This is going to be awesome!". No, it was my brother who picked this up while we were browsing around GameStop several years later. I'd never watched it and I had no intention of doing so either. But, curiosity finally got the better of me last Halloween and I popped in another bloody copy of it I've ended up with it in the Omen box set, and yep, it's every bit as pointless and lame as I imagined.

Speaking of lame: Revenge of the Sith. So having finally accepted that Episodes I and II were mostly junk, I pretty much ignored this when it came out in '05. Over the following year though I started buying more and more into the consensus that "hey, this one was actually pretty good" to the point where I finally caved-in and bought the DVD. And it was terrible! Again! Well, alright: Palpatine was enjoyably over the top at times, but the rest of it? No thanks. *sigh* Another €18 own the drain. :D

Probably the best of the trio, but something I doubt I'll ever rewatch is Dodgeball, which I impulse bought in a sort of panic after fruitlessly (and exhaustively) searching the ex rental section of a video place for (non-existent) bargains back in the mid aughts.

A few more CDs. 1977, I decided to part with after upgrading to the awesome 3-CD reissue from 2009. The other two were duplicates I'd ended up with. I'm pretty sure the copy of Thriller I hung onto was the superior version, but there are so may at this stage you'd need an extremely elaborate chart to properly access that.

Of all the stuff here, I'm pretty gutted I ended up having to give away the two Lost sets. You'd think they'd still be worth something even in 2011. I mean, they used to cost like, €60 at one point, but I just couldn't offload them. I suppose it didn't help that A. most people lost interest early on, B. the rest were still pissed at the ending, and C. why get it on DVD when the Blu-rays were already relatively cheap? Actually that's pretty much why I got rid of these. I hadn't picked up Seasons 3-6 yet and I didn't see the point of continuing with the DVD sets when I'd finally started getting into Blu-ray.

Blu-ray was also the reason I was doing away with the Back to the Future DVD set. Kind of. I'd been meaning to grab BTTF on DVD for years and the new set they announced in 2010 sounded great, even better on DVD because it was only £10, so I pre-ordered it, months in advance. Obviously at such a low price point, I should have guessed something fishy was up, but it wasn't until I started watching the movies (appropriately enough the night the clocks were going back that year) that I realised that not only did this set not feature match it's identically-packaged Blu-ray sibling, it didn't even have the special features from the previous DVD sets. It was a repackaging of the original DVD releases of the three movies from back in goodness knows when. While was certainly fun watching the movies themselves again, this wasn't the release I signed up for.

Having had access to just two channels growing up there's a lot of things I missed out on. Slowly but sureley I've been checking out a lot of that stuff over the last few year and these Beavis and Butt-head sets were the first things I picked up as part of that project; a good place to start I thought, as I'd already seen and enjoyed the movie quite a bit. The show was great too, but while I was able to secure Volumes 2 and 3 for the tidy sum of €7.50 each, it was a year or so before I spotted the first volume for a decent price. Somewhat unfortunately it was exactly the same price as the full collection was going for (about €22) , so I decided to go for that instead freeing up some precious shelf space in the process.

Something else I missed out on as a kid was Twin Peaks, though I think that may have been for the best; I think I'd have been pretty freaked out by it at the time. Unlike Beavis and Butt-head though, I'm pretty certain this was on RTÉ at the time; as soon as I heard the theme music I had a hazy memory of hearing it in the background when I would have been five or six maybe. I picked this up on sale after Christmas '09 with no idea of how I was going to get hold of Season 2; it's UK release was still in limbo at that point. When it finally did hit, much like Beavis and Butt-head, it was priced high enough that it made more sense to pick up the Gold Box set and grab the extra special features than to buy it individually. I'm even more glad I didn't pay for just Season 2 now given how dumb I now know it gets. :D

And so finally, in May 2012 (good grief, I've dragged this thing on forever :D), I carted this lot, all the books, all the cassettes, and all the videos I'd gathered up off to charity shop land. I was a bit worried going in though that they'd send me packing again with half the stuff I brought (They did seem to be only selling books and clothes out of this outlet), but they were quite happy to take the donation in it's entirety, no questions asked. All that clutter, all that stuff I thought I'd never see the back of was finally gone. The Clearoutageddon was complete.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five