Archive for the 'games' Category

We like our rock stars dirty, but our athletes clean

So the fly in the olive oil of Greece’s hosting of the Olympics is that their two prize athletes are crook in hospital, to ill it seems, to even talk to the law. It’s all looking mighty suspicious to me. The IOC seem to be coming down hard on anyone this year, but for how much longer?

There are two main issues with the drugs in sport debate. The first one is competition; drugs give a competitor an unfair advantage over everyone else. But surely Michael Schumaker has an unfair advantage being behind the wheel of a Ferrari compared to some of the ‘poorer’ teams? And tennis nowadays is as much about the arms race in carbon fibre racquets technology as it is the player. Bjorn Borg famously tried to make a come back with a wooden racquet in 1991 and got thrashed. What do athletes have to enhance but their bodies?

The other main problem is the moral issue. We not very comfortable with sports stars taking drugs, it’s… well cheating, and distinctly un-British. You can’t very well have a zero tolerance drugs policy on the streets and ‘smack and field’ events at the local athletic club. After all, I grew up with Daley Thompson as a hero in our house, and the only stimulants he ever took was a swig Lucozade and mosh of Iron Maiden….. Entertainment stars on the other hand practically have to do a spell in the Priory as part of their training.

So the argument is this, taking drugs leads to enhanced performance and that’s not fair on the competition. Which when you transplant it across from sport to music, is like….. The Dave Clark Five wanting the Beatles thrown out of the Charts because they ‘cheated’ and produced an ‘enhanced’ Sergeant Pepper while off their tits.

I’m sure the drug companies would love to ‘sponsor’ athletic teams. Who knows, maybe it’ll end up like in some bad sci-fi novel where nations are obsolete and teams are made and paid for by large multi-nationals? Which is a bit like how Formula 1 is now really.

Disclaimer: oh yeah, erm, don’t do drugs kids… m’kay.

Doom, Battlezone and Operation Wolf

Games have been in the news a bit lately…

Doom 3 hits the shelves in the UK today… And this prompted me to think about playing the original Doom. How times have changed eh? Doom 1 used the fledgling interweb to release a shareware of it’s first couple of levels, allowing players to get hooked and then buy the full game. The entire Doom 3 game was leaked on the net, ‘…our profits!’ scream ID execs. Brought home to me how mainstream game production has got… Alice talks about the ‘hollywood’ method here.

Though I played shareware Doom, my main Doom experience came with Doom2. I had my 486DX networked to my flat-mate’s and Doom was one of the first ‘modern’ game I remember that had a co-op feature. Death-match is fine when there’s four or more of you, but gets a little boring with two. More games should come with a co-op feature.

The music was great too, who can forget the classic dum dum…ticka ticka dee dum dum dum.. .ticka, check it out, it’s got some funky Bossa Nova beats in there towards the end… A bit of latin groove sure brighten things up when you’re face with the robotic spawn of hell and can’t find the key for the red door.

All time fave game of all time ever bar none tho’ was Activision’s ’96 version of Battlezone. I spent most of 1997 sat in a tank on mars collecting scrap bio-metal… Shame you can’t buy it anymore.

In other news… ‘Manhunt’ style killing led to the game selling out in most shops. ‘Ban these games’ says the facist Tory rag and the parents…. Yet according to the last sentence in this BBC audio report it was the 14 year old victim who owned a copy of Manhunt, not the 17 year perpetrator.

Games and violence have always been in the news. I’ve got a Commodore User magazine review from ’87 of Operation Wolf which was released a few months after the Hungerford Massacre. Op Wolf (a great game BTW) was the first game to feature a proper gun on the cabinet, and the reviewer noted then, that ‘in light of Hungerford’ questions might be raised about the game and violence.

The more things change eh?

Mac fans relive that ’93 feeling with Doom Legacy for OS X!

Tetris – From Russia with Love, BBC Four

Just watched a great doc on vid from BBC Four (think it’s getting screened in mid Feb). There’s loads written about it around on the net here and it’s well covered in ‘Game Over, Nintendo’s Battle to Dominate Videogames’ by David Sheff (which they gave away free with the now defunct ‘Acarde’ magazine) and other places. But basically he electrifiedthis

The frantic negotiations between Belikov from the Russian ‘Elorg’; and Robert Stein, Kevin Maxwell, and Henk Rogers, all in different rooms on the same day, are great. Belikov had to learn Capitalism very quickly. Back then there were no IP rights in Russia, the state owned everything the people made.

The best pieces in the whole show however are Rogers’ actual VHS footage of 80’s Moscow. God it’s grey, dull and depressing. But gives a great first hand view of what actually went on. You can see how scared he is, how alien it seems, he really has very little understanding of how to do things in Russia.

The prog rolls along, and Maxwell’s plum of a son looses the rights to the game. Big Daddy Maxwell then rings his mates in the Kremlin and complains, Kevin then threaten Belikov. He says his Dad’ll raise it with Gorbachov when he visited London later that month, and helpfully suggests he fly to London and kneel before Maxwell, or he will ‘no longer exist’. It’s like a plot in an airport novel! What a bunch of dodgy sods the Maxwell’s were.

There’s then another great bit of footage taken by Henk Roberts, after the US Court agrees they and Nintendo have the rights and not the Maxwells and Atari. Henks crusin’ round San Fransico with Belikov, who’s in total culture shock, with ‘Holiday’ by Madonna on the stero. It’s like a level of Outrun.

The mad thing is, is that I remember all this. It’s not that long ago. Yet it’s amazing when you look at what’s gone: The massive Maxwell Empire, gone; The massive Soviet Empire, gone. And what’s still around? . . . The Game Boy.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
April 2020