Archive for the 'gaming' Category

I went on the internet, and I found this.

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

While researching gamepads for an upcoming project (stay tuned!), I found myself time and time again ogling the Xbox 360 controller.


There are few consumer devices available that look half as good as this. The console itself looks like a large print book that’s gone through the wash, but I like the pad. The current version is compatible with Windows PCs, and if I was a fan of ANY game that played better with a pad than with a keyboard and mouse, I would’ve bought one and written a drooly review of it long ago.

Anyway, I also found this.

XBox 360 controller with Chatpad.

This isn’t some bizarre photoshop job like all those iPhone Nano hopefuls. It’s a real product; that keyboard is the XBox 360 Chatpad, and it comes in a “Messenger Kit” with a talky headset. It just plugs into the bottom of your 360 pad, has backlit keys, and is meant for chatting with your chums via XBox Live.

I couldn’t give two hoots about XBox Live, though My first thought was actually “that would make the best media PC controller ever.”


This is Logitech’s diNovo Mini, a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (that circle on the right is a trackpad) intended for media PC use. I own one, and slightly flawed as it is, it’s the best media PC controller ever.

It is also AU$190. Which, if you’re not familiar with money, is a lot for a glorified remote control with buttons that make your teevee do stuff. You need all those buttons for a media PC, though; play/pause/volume isn’t enough, because you sometimes have to type stuff as well.

It’s better than a fullsize keyboard, and better than not having a separate mouse, and that makes it vastly better than Microsoft’s Wireless Entertainment Desktop 7000, which goes for about the same price as the diNovo.

The XBox 360 wireless controller and chatpad, in contrast, could be had on eBay for about $120 all up. If Microsoft allowed the chatpad to be used on PCs, they’d basically be shooting themselves in the foot that props up the wireless desktop kits.

Microsoft aren’t the boss of everyone, though. While it’s not meant to work on PCs, it can be made to do so with some serious mucking about.

Come on, internet. Just one awesome super-fiddly platformer game, and I can buy one and retire the diNovo to Linux box duties.

my faux pas for 2009

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Last night my peer group gathered its computers together with the intention of playing LAN games all night. We got distracted by the prospect of overclocking our PCs, brought on partly by my new CPU cooler, and instead spent much of the night fiddling with our front side buses and benchmarking the results.

(Just to brag: my E6600, at 2.4ghz stock, makes it at least to 3.3ghz just by raising the FSB. No voltage adjustments, and it never went above 50 degrees playing Crysis. My 3dmark06 score rose from 11000 something to 15306.)

Then we burned a bit of fuel testing a friend’s new car sound system as we ambled cruised hooned to Sydney and back to fetch Krispy Kremes with which to celebrate.

It’s 2PM the following day, March the 29th, and I’ve only just realised something: We accidentally spent the entirety of Earth Hour overclocking our gaming PCs. With the lights on.

So sorry. People do.

more speedruns: sonic the hedgehog

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Could I just have your attention for a couple of hours? Yes? Sweet.

To celebrate buying my own Sega Nomad, I went on a bit of a hunt for Sonic the Hedgehog speedruns on YouTube. They’re every bit as awesome as the Keen 5 one from the other week; if you were a Sonic fan back in the day, check these out.

First up, here’s Sonic the Hedgehog 1, for me the scariest of the lot with those gigantic spikes and no spindashing. In two parts, because this was uploaded when Youtube still limited videos to 10 minutes. Up on CPU!

Then there’s Sonic 2, from the Sega logo to the death of the final boss in 19 minutes and 55 seconds:

Read the rest of this entry »

More speedruns

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

In my last speedruns post, I avoided videos that didn’t just play the original sound effects and music from in-game. I’ll concede the point with this next video, partly because it only shows a few seconds at most of continuous gameplay at a time, so the audio would be choppy and irritating at best, and partly because it’s so brainbendingly awesome.

I give you: “INSANE Commander Keen 5 skills”.

It’s not a full speed run, just little bits from one, and I love it because it shows just how much potential there was in that old engine. I could jump around and shoot things and do the impossible pogo trick, but this guy makes Keen look like a parkour nut.

While making a complete mockery of every kind of baddie in the game. I wish I knew how to pogo backwards.

Hm. This’ll seem a bit boring by comparison now, but I also found a 3-part speedrun of Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss. This old game was my very first experience with RPGs of any kind, having kept mainly to games like Keen and Radix, and these videos just make me shudder at the thought of how many little things I missed, and how absolutely impossible the idea was of me ever completing it.

I played the game for weeks. I think I got down to level 9 in the abyss at one point. I can only conclude the game was just too complicated for anybody but an RPG buff to really play through, because when he started casting spells on random items that did magical unfamiliar things, and leaping through walls as if they weren’t there, and standing in what looks like a completely unremarkable spot in a room and whipping out a flute and just making crazy shit happen… It just makes me feel a bit inadequate, somehow.

Anyway. Parts one, two and three.

how to abbreviate the retro gaming experience

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Remember all those funky DOS games you used to play? They came on plastic squares that slotted into the front of your 486, and you had to type something to get them to load. And none of them work, because your new computer runs Vista and doesn’t even have a floppy drive, and anyway the abandonware site tried to give you a virus and the game just complains about 16 bit mode, whatever that is.

If you’re a bit more technically apt than that, you could get the games to run in DOSbox (it emulates an old PC in a window on your new one, so you can actually play them through). Assuming about 50 minutes on average for a single scenario in Dune 2 (that last level is a biatch, unless you cheat by saving frequently and reloading if a missile obliterates your base), it’ll still take you about 24 hours of solid gameplay to finish all 3 campaigns. Much more, if you replay the last half of the game to fight on all the different maps (which is worth doing, if you’re a die-hard fan).

Multiply that by the number of games you’d happily play again if you had the sheer time on your hands that you did when you were eight, and you realise it’s unfeasible for most adults. So, leech off the time spent by other adults, watch some recorded gameplay videos, and let the internet take your inner child back to a time when the internet didn’t yet exist.

Speed Demos Archive dot com would appear to be the place to go, unless you had the same games as me and are content at picking from what I could find myself: