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Posts posted by hombre_hompson

  1. I think the replay value is affected by the length of the levels. They should have split some of them in two, perhaps even three and made the bosses a completely separate stage.

    Yeah, having the bosses in a separate stage might just do it.

  2. I enjoy playing the levels themselves rather than the stack of bosses the game piles on.

    Certainly I'll stick with it, and I'll play until the next heinous difficulty spike emerges to derail things, but as satisfying as completing a level is, I don't think I'll have the patience to endure another boss like the one quoted.

    This is how I feel.

    Finished it on normal and I'm in two minds about it. Stage 1 is fantastic - fast and fluid, loads of variety and boss battles that don't outstay their welcome. But it starts to get a bit too boss battle heavy for me ( I can't remember the number of times I expected to see a stage clear screen only to be thrown into yet another boss). They are undoubtedly impressive but really interrupt the flow. I want to replay the levels, but despite the satisfaction I got from beating some of the trickier bosses, I can't imagine wanting to play them again.

    So this time I just breezed through it on easy and it was much more enjoyable - not just because it's easier but because the bosses are don' take as much time to finish, hence the momentum is generally maintained. Shame that on easy some sections are skipped and it doesn't quite have the bullet hell spectacle that normal has.

    Oh and graphically it's all over the place.

  3. Just write anything. It doesn't have to be perfect.

    As requested

    Lady Somersby waits by the clock in the Long Gallery, limbering up like an Olympic athlete. She is watched upon by silent spectators, portraits of the family she hastily married into, all willing her to fail.

    Tonight she intends to prove them all wrong.

    As the second hand on the clock reaches twelve she explodes into a sprint, her bare feet propelling her down the rug that covers the length of the gallery. Moonlight slices through the windows at ten metre intervals, helping her keep pace past the mummified animals and family heirlooms that line the corridors. Turning left into the Great Chamber she is confident of breaking her record, trying not to think of the Billiard Room that waits some thirty seconds ahead of her.

    After the long straight of the Banqueting Hall she cuts though the State Bedrooms, turning sharply out of the North West tower, her nightgown billowing like a superhero. She takes the main staircase as she has practiced and perfected - three steps at a time, before dashing through the Kitchen and Pantry with ease and grace.

    Her time is quick - adding even more pressure to the Billiard Room approach. Gaining speed across the Parlour she frustratingly considers a change of strategy, still not confident of her own instincts. Her mind decides narrow and left but her body goes long, forcing her to the right. Her feet perform the perfect take off and her angle of approach feels as tight as it can be.

    Midflight she is convinced of success.

    Six months ago she performed a perfect lap at the first time of trying, yet has been unable to replicate it since. That successful attempt had followed one of their many arguments over the estate – the falling visitor numbers and increasing maintenance costs. Her husband Lord Somersby showed a total unwillingness to diversify, blinded by his tradition and inherited family wealth. She had fled their private quarters in tears, across the lower courtyard to the main manor house, wandering the moonlit rooms like a ghost, shadowed by visitor information panels and laminated signs that she had never taken the time or interest to read.

    She finally came upon the Long Gallery, surrounded by the stare of her new family line, the walls like a coffin. Furious and resentful, her thoughts neatly condensed into a single dangerous thought. Then the clock struck like a trigger, snapping those thoughts like a crisp, and without further thought or reason she began to run. She tore through the house - screaming every obscenity and cursing every relic that she passed all the way back to her starting position.

    A full lap of the house. She could imagine plotting it on the visitor maps.

    Out of breath and full of hope she noticed the clock. It had taken exactly a minute to run a lap of the house.

    I can beat that she thought.

    Now six months later she still holds onto that thought, split seconds before crashing into the corner of the billiard table, catching her left thigh on the massive frame that sends her bouncing off the oak panelled walls.

    Fuckssake she mutters.

    She has lost valuable seconds but continues on, knowing that this lap will be wasted. The Billiard Room is the one exception to an otherwise straightforward circuit, and is home to the main attraction of the hall – a billiards table supposedly donated by the king of France. It fills the room with only a two metre section of floor space around its perimeter. To enter this room you must turn sharply left from the Parlour and down two steps onto the sunken floor. This entry is complicated when approaching at speed. The natural approach is to slow down before turning into the room, taking the steps one at a time before turning ninety degrees and continuing around the table. This approach and its subsequent loss of momentum adds at least ten seconds to her lap time, and she continually experiments with different angles and speeds of approach, trying to find the optimum racing line from the Parlour.

    At full speed she attempts more angled approaches, her feet barely touching the steps, trying to shave the corner pockets and continue momentum along the length of the room. Approaching from the left requires a wider angle to come back upon the doorway, taking valuable seconds. Cutting into the doorway on the right is faster but more difficult to judge the blind angle. Isolated practices and walkthroughs prove it can be done, but every night a seemingly perfect lap is ruined by a head on collision against either the table or the tapestries lining the walls.

    Tonight she is too narrow, clipping her left thigh painfully against the bulk of the frame. Her pace has slowed as she stumbles and curses, before quickening once more out into the Formal Study and the final stretch back to the Long Gallery.

    She already knows what the clock will say.

    One minute and ten seconds.

    One minute and eleven seconds.

    Back in the gallery the portraits mock as she analyses where she has gone wrong – the cut of the corner, the counting of footsteps, the speed of approach. Her deep breaths echo her frustrations. She sits down on a chair, ignoring the laminated sign that reads PLEASE DO NOT SIT ON THESE CHAIRS – THEY ARE VERY OLD.

    Two choices present themselves. She can go back across the courtyard and slip into the bed of their private quarters, hoping that her husband hasn’t noticed her absence. Or she can wait to get her breath back and have another go.

    A single dangerous thought emerges once more.

    Again it is the longest of nights.

    Later that morning Lord Somersby wakes to notice fresh bruising on her thigh. She sleeps soundly and is unlikely to join him for breakfast, so like most mornings he leaves her to sleep alone.

    He has much to do. The doors to their home will open in an hour or so and before then he must inspect the house to be sure it meets his exacting family standards. He has a feeling that today will be a good day for visitor numbers, despite the weather forecast for snow.

    He notes the bruising is on her left thigh, and makes a mental note to go right.

    After breakfast he finishes a few chores, and then moves the billiard table a couple of inches back the other way, just as he does so every morning.

  4. Just came 1st in a perfect cycling race.

    Strange how all the reviews were so dismissive of the cycling, some even suggesting it as filler, when it actually has more content than many of the other events. It's all in the strategy - you really have to pace yourself and know when it take it steady so you can save yourself for the stretches where you have to peddle like crazy.

    Plus it offers the best views of the island by far.

  5. Confession time - I quite like the cycling. It does have a certain strategy to it and it's a nice way to see the island at ground level, especially when free-wheeling downhill after an extended waggle stretch. Racing against other AI riders in single player gives it a more competitive edge, something that the Powercruising and Canoeing events could have perhaps done with.

  6. The word this month is memory.

    An extended corner this month so plenty of time for a few more entries and hopefully some discussion along the way.

    Remember the rules:

    1. One thousand words or less. A few more won't hurt anyone.

    2. The deadline for posting your words is the end of August. Stories/poems/scripts are all welcome.

    3. The deadline for your votes is midnight on the 5th of September.

    4. Criticisms are welcome, but please keep it in the nature of the corner.

    5. Have a go! The Word is only a guide, use it as you will.

    6. Good luck!

  7. I've not long finished the complete short stories vol 2.

    Read through them all in order. It took me a while to get used to the style. They read more like a memory or a feeling, characters that seem to have ambiguous relationships and motives that drift without reason. But the more I read the more I began to appreciate the writing, the strong central ideas and reoccurring themes, so much so that I might go back and read the early ones again now I 'get' it. (For example I believe the Terminal Beach is very highly regarded but it didn't do much for me first time).

    Hard to pick favorites from such an amazing selection but all the deserted resort/light aircraft/time distortion ones were great as were the Vermilion Sands stories. The Sixty Minute Zoom and Answers to a Questionnaire were pretty much perfect.

    Based on this I've just bought Vol 1 which I'll hopefully get started this weekend.

  8. The sense of anonymity seems to be of a deliberate manufacture.

    During the long silences he can hear the drone of a small light aircraft hovering somewhere outside. Two other couples of a similar age sit on sofas opposite - the first people he has seen since their arrival. Occasionally an awkward three way smile forms between everyone without anyone ever knowing where it started.

    No-one has noticed the intercom. It crackles and the other two couples twitch nervously. He squeezes the hand of his wife, reassuring himself more than it reassures her, before a sterile voice announces their names with all the charm of a personalised number plate. They both stand and give a knowing smile to the other two couples who silently empathise in union, both relieved and disappointed not to have been called first.

    The room is of a modest size for such a large building. It has two doors – the first is the main entrance that everyone found unlocked and deserted upon their arrival, a sense of their suitability being tested for one final time. The smaller second door is of a greater significance - it is the door they have all been waiting to enter.

    As he opens this second door he wonders how much they all have in common, wishing that he’d had the courage to break the ice, wondering if they could have become the best of friends.

    Maybe downstairs they will still find out.

    Closing the door behind them they descend a narrow stairway. Upon reaching the cellar floor his wife takes his hand, seeking reassurance. On the right is a small solitary room, a single beam of light fluctuating though a boarded sunken window. In the middle of the room is a chair with a piece of white paper attached to the upright. It reads AREA CLEARED in a stark font.

    To the left is a room of similar size with doorways on both the left and opposite walls. Ahead he can see similar rooms, maybe seven or eight stretching away like reflections. At the far end a bright bathroom shimmers like a mirage, and he is already calculating how many rooms they will have to traverse. Music throbs between the damp cellar walls, IDM beats accompanied by a familiar sounding piece of classical piano, further accompanied by a long protracted groan that sounds like a detuned note being played on a human body.

    He is unable to tell if the sounds are pre-recorded. In the middle of the room is a chair with a piece of white paper attached to the upright. The page is blank.

    As they look at each for one final reassurance he recognises the piano – it is the music that they danced to on their wedding day, and he wonders how many other pieces of application form data have been used to create rooms solely with this in mind. His wife wears her bravest of faces, desperate to make a success of this one chance to break into the in-crowd, a personalised version of famous. She releases his hand and smiles with a momentary burst of confidence, embracing liberation and the chance to go it alone.

    As she steps through the left hand doorway a figure steps out of the bathroom corridor ahead, and for a split second it gives the optical illusion of an impossible portal. The girl who has entered wears only a towel. Her hair is sodden and she shivers like a wind-up doll. Her skin is as white as a bathroom, sparkling with clean perfection, like every inch of her body has been scrubbed down to the last layer of skin. In places she looks almost transparent.

    Wondering if she is a winner of sorts he immediately has the impulse to touch her, to rub his finger over her surfaces like inspecting for dust. The though unsettles him, the feeling only furthered by the sight of his wife now lying in the doorway where she has fainted. The girl detects his indecision – you’re doing great she encourages, but he knows what great feels like, and knows his wife well enough to speak for them both. Any liberal pretensions are replaced by survival impulses. Limits have been broken and he is happy to concede them.

    Buoyed by this thought he considers their exit.

    Carefully avoiding the sights of the left hand room he manages to pull his wife up from the floor, struggling to keep her upright as they awkwardly shuffle back towards the stairway in defeat. Ascending the stairs is easier than when they first came down, despite the weight of an unconscious partner. The structure of the outside world both inspires and invites him.

    As they reach the top he can sense the girl watching from the base of the cellar and he struggles to recall ever seeing her blink. Without thinking to check if the door is unlocked he kicks it open, falling back into the room of a modest size.

    The same room, but different.

    It now only has one doorway - the one they have just come through that leads back down into the cellar. The other two couples are gone and the sofas have been moved away from the centre of the room, now facing the walls in protest. The silence has been replaced by the relentless melody from downstairs, playing with even more purpose than before. The drone of a small light aircraft is coming from the intercom.

    In the middle of the room is a chair with a piece of white paper attached to the upright. It reads AREA CLEARED in his favourite font.

  9. Saw this last weekend. My wife and I were still discussing it a few days later, especially with regards to

    the nature of their relationship and the possible motives of the girl

    , which completely passed me by at the time.

    Loved the

    swimming pool


  10. Last year I read High Rise based on recommendations from this forum and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Just finished Super Cannes which again I really enjoyed. If I had one complaint it would be that I always felt like I was one step ahead of the main character. It seemed to me pretty obvious what was going on, which was a little at odds with the more traditional 'mystery' format of the narrative. A very minor complaint though.

    Just bought The Complete Short Stories Vol2 . Not sure if I've bitten off a bit too much as I'm not really into sci-fi and I've found most of the early stories quite hard work. Any recommendations to jump straight into?

  11. Hombre Hompson: did you just compare ABBA's songs with animal cruelty? LOL

    That wasn't my intention. Hope it didn't come across like that.

    The idea was that he simply got the wrong CD - due to a simple mix-up or a cruel joke. Either way his desire for it (or what he thought it was) was so great that when he finally got to the contents and despite how repulsive they were he still felt some sort of affection for it as it was his only link to what he really wanted. Or something like that.

    My vote also goes to Danster

  12. He orders some food as best he can.

    The locals barely notice as he takes a seat in the corner. Despite the lunch time rush his food arrives quickly, an unidentifiable white meat with the smell of a hangover. It will turn out to be the best two dollars he has even spent.

    As he takes the first spoonful something attracts his attention. By the second spoonful he’s already sensing a miracle, and it has nothing to do with the taste or textures inside his mouth, but the music that he can hear.

    Here of all places, so far away from home, his obsession still manages to find him.

    The music is background by design and so hard to focus on, muddied by the five spiced air and the chatter of real China. He listens so hard that it hurts his ears, closing his eyes and scrunching his face like a child. He manages to fade out all other noise – it slows and decreases in pitch to allow the background into the fore. Now in isolation he finally hears, picking out a line of a verse that catches and holds, rendering the rest of the universe irrelevant.

    The melody is so clear he can write it down in any given language. The locals barely notice as he begins to cry.

    He is listening to a song by ABBA that he has never heard before. By definition, he is listening to a song by ABBA that no-one has ever heard before, and it has found him here of all places - an untidy noodle house sheltered from the ever expanding outskirts of Beijing, far removed from the Cultural Revolution of old and the inevitable western influences of new.

    Here of all places he is reborn.

    The sound is too authentic to be a tribute, the harmony too pure to be a copy cat. He should know - during the birth of the Internet he launched a small ABBA fan site which went on to become the largest independently owned fan site worldwide. He dropped out of his degree to keep up with the demand, providing constant updates on a band who had effectively disbanded some twelve years earlier. He owns every recording they have ever produced. He has met both Benny and Bjorn on several occasions, Anni-Frid once, and has been as close to Agnetha’s house as you can get.

    He had no doubt that this is a newly discovered ABBA song, and that he will be the one to reveal it to the world. He stands, determined to locate the source of the music, but finds his legs unable to take the swell and glory of the chorus that reaches him. He holds onto his face, convinced it might split open with pure joy, and for one immeasurable moment he contemplates the love of his life being responsible for his death.

    It is as affirming as it is painful. Years of work with established boundaries, an obsession based upon a constant, a controllable snapshot of history. These assumptions now collapse as the song fades out, replaced by a dance version of a rock ballad that he can barely hear. He is incomplete once more. He no longer has boundaries. One unearthed new song might as well be a thousand.

    His flight will leave in four hours time.

    He takes a calming spoonful of food and it tastes like liquid sugar. No-one in the noodle house speaks English, so he is reduced to miming every representation of music he can think of. The small speaker system is located above a busy counter, and after more improvisation and pointing a cook finally emerges from the backroom, smiling with an unmarked compact disc in his hands.

    Racing to the airport he can barely contain himself. Passing through security control he half expects to be stopped, the disc in his bag burning like heroin. In duty free he buys a portable compact disc player and some massive batteries, ignoring the advice of staff. At the gate he unpacks the player with his shaking hands. The other passengers all observe his behaviour, secretly hoping not to be sat with him once on board. He inserts the disc and presses play, knowing that he will choose to miss his flight if called mid-song. Ten times on repeat will be the minimum he requires.

    The disc doesn’t play. The message reads Error – disc Err.

    The flight home is a long one, spent polishing the underside of the disc and retrying before repeating the process. It has no obvious scuffs or scratches. If he holds it to his ear he can almost hear a song like the ocean. He fluctuates between this and the brace position, much to the concern of the one unlucky passenger who didn’t get his wish.

    Once home he tries all his other music players before switching on the lights. As a final act of desperation he inserts the disc into his DVD player, barely aware that he is doing so.

    The front panel reads Track 1.

    He knows he should saviour the moment. He knows he should take a break and calm his nerves, but his instinct has already pressed play way before he can respond to his rationale thought.

    The DVD is a four minute snuff movie containing animal cruelty.

    After it is done he unfolds a map of Beijing onto the floor, wrestling against his jetlag. He finds the area where the noodle hut was located, writing here of all places onto the paper, fearful that one day he may wake and forget every decision that ever led him there.

    He will tear the place down brick by brick if he has to.

    Tomorrow he will arrange everything with a clearer head. Comforted by this thought he folds the map away, pours himself a drink, and settles down to the DVD once more.

  13. I don't mind Windowlicker doing so well. It still holds up well today and looking back it was a bit of a creative peak. It's a shame as I can't say much post-Windowlicker stuff has the same appeal as his earlier works. I seem to simply appreciate it more than feel any emotion towards it.

    I still prefer his more homegrown/organic/classical hybrids. Pretty much anything from the ICBYD period I suppose, so I'd rather something like Alberto Basalm or Pancake Lizard do well.

    Oh, and Rhubarb or Stone in Focus from SAW2, obviously.

  14. Yeah it is sad to see the corner so quiet. This time last year we had over 10 entries per month.

    I've been really busy lately but I will try to get back into this. Part of my problem is my desire to always improve and write something better than previously, instead of simply writing something and being content with the fact it might not be my best.

    Hopefully this thread might be enough to get people motivated again.

  15. I'm in two minds about this.

    I initially loved it. The gameplay itself is great - much more frantic than the cumbersome RE:UC. Loving the soundtrack and the graphics are some of the best I've seen on the Wii (Fairground level especially). Holding the hand-cannon shotgun style feels natural and really adds to the experience.

    However the swearing is getting too much for me. At first it felt ok as the cut-scenes that bookended the levels were in the trailer style to make the level feel like an advertised film, so at least the swearing had some sort of context. Later levels seem to abandon this format, and instead they are reduced to standard cutscenes but with tons and tons of swearing, the problem being that the swearing isn't particularly inventive or funny.

    The sad thing is the game doesn't need it. It's got to the point on repeated play throughs where I'm cringing every time Washington makes any sort comment. At least the cut-scenes are now skippable, but did it really need to be on the menu screen soundtrack? Or in the text of menu options?

    Maybe it's a sign of age, or maybe I'm missing the point, but I wish their was an option to remove it. I know I'm probably in the minority but it all feels a bit immature, and for me it spoils what is undoubtedly a very strong game in all other areas.

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