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hombre_hompson

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Posts posted by hombre_hompson

  1. I tend to use forum opinion instead of reviews. I've bought so many titles thanks to this forum. I only watch the occasional video review to see something in motion.

    As I've not got so much time for gaming these days I don't feel the pressure to play something immediately, and so I can generally wait until the initial forum hype/anti-hype has died down and a more balanced view emerges.

    If anything I prefer to read retrospective style reviews - ones that assume the reader to already have a basic knowledge of the game, and instead concentrate on the wider impact and summarise the general concensus that emerged after the initial release.

  2. It’s freezing outside.

    The old man pushes on against the wind chill, head down and scarf tight as winter throws everything at him. He briefly considers turning back before something catches his eye – Christmas lights in a window. They are a pleasant surprise, warming against the chill of the coast.

    He wonders about calling the police.

    Inside the house are a young married couple, lying on separate sofas like an advert for furniture.

    They have had an unusual Christmas.

    He came home from work on Christmas Eve complaining of flu-like symptoms. After a restless night they both woke the next morning with similar complaints – a sore throat, a fluctuating temperature, an uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm. Travelling was not an option, even getting out of bed was an effort. Faced with little alternative they telephoned both sets of parents and essentially cancelled Christmas.

    The house was unprepared for an impromptu celebration. The tree had a small number of presents under it – some for each other but mostly for the relatives they were unable to visit. They had no turkey or Radio Times or Quality Street, and no shop would be open even if had the energy between them to leave the house. Instead they cut toast into festive shapes and drank cough medicine from wine glasses. People phoned all morning with messages of sympathy. For the first time in years they watched Christmas specials on the day they were intended. It was quiet and isolated, but spent solely in the company of each other, not entirely unpleasant.

    On Boxing Day he nipped out to buy them both deluxe ready meals, the effort leaving him almost breathless. The symptoms persisted well into the festive period, forcing them to cancel further social engagements - We’re still sickening for something. We don’t want to pass it on to the kids. We can always meet up in the New Year.

    The house began to feel humid and thick with germs. It was too cold outside to open a window and too hot inside not to want to. Body temperatures were unreliable. A routine emerged of ready meals and deep sleeping between doses of medication. He slowly grew a beard as weekday shaving became unnecessary. She tied her hair back so she didn’t have to wash it. Ready meals deteriorated in quality as it became both cost effective and less effort to buy in bulk the cheaper varieties. Afternoons were spent watching a mixture of old films from their childhood and new films made for children. It became easier to watch films back to back than to make a decision otherwise.

    As their health levels finally appeared to improve their energy levels still continued to fall. Attempts at anything energetic always seemed to set them back at least two steps, and it became easier not to attempt anything at all. At New Year they stayed in with a plan to watch everyone else celebrating midnight, only to both be asleep by ten that evening.

    They didn’t return to work. Although the symptoms were now minimal – fragmented coughing and occasional headaches, they didn’t want to risk passing it on to a work colleague, didn’t want to risk catching something else, didn’t want to risk missing the first hour of Finding Nemo.

    And so on.

    This chain of events is what has brought them here - lying on separate sofas like an advert for depression.

    The curtains are drawn and pornography is on the television. She is lying under a duvet as she has done for days, although last night was the first time that she’d slept on the sofa without bothering to go upstairs to bed. They are waiting for a cookery show to start, even though they’ll own none of the featured ingredients. Dinner last night was garlic bread and potato wedges. They haven’t used the internet for over a week.

    There is an unspoken conversation happening between them, one that starts with so what exactly is going on here, even though they both know exactly what is going on here. Apart from a few minor ailments they are back to full health, yet neither one of them dares mention it to the other. They are both sickening for something else. The removal of their status and standing, the social glue and healthy living, the benchmarks they are obliged to outperform from birth, the stress of forcing themselves into the assumed mould of class and culture.

    Maybe now another option has presented itself. Maybe this has been the best Christmas present ever.

    Would you like another drink he asks, and she grunts back a string of swear words in his direction. He thinks for a second and then repeats them back in ascending order of obscenity, making them both laugh. He stretches as much as lying down allows, preparing him for the long crawl to the kitchen. Some internal justification forces him to cough, even though it hurts, and he summons up the energy to go and make another round of cough mixture.

    Outside the old man still watches the lights, lost in his complex memories of Christmas. He blinks his eyes in time with the lights, synchronising himself with the on state. He alters the rhythm of his eyelids to the off state and the lights appear permanently switched off, a trick from his childhood.

    He wonders about calling the police. It is nearly February after all.

  3. Just finished this. Loved every minute of it, the "Blustery Day" level is quite amazing.

    The final levels are a perfect example of how to make things tougher without necessarily making things more complex. Straightforward objectives that require only an advanced use of the building and counter balancing core principles. Perfect.

  4. I'm determined to get back into this. It's a shame to see the corner so quiet.

    To help me get back in the mood I read some of my older entries recently and was shocked to discover how much of a re-write they needed. Does everyone else feel the same way when reading older work? Is it an inevitable symptom of continual improvement?

  5. Really enjoying this but I'm having problems with the endgame. I must be missing an obivous strategy to deal with it but I can't quite grasp it.

    When you're down to the last few blocks the colour selection still appears to remain random without any regard for what colours are left in play. I have no strategy for this. The end result is that with only a few cubes remaining I simply have to plough on and wait for the correct colour combination or a bonus time. It's highly frustrating.

    Does the colour selection remain random? Or is it clever enough to give you the right blocks in a specific way to build a 'chain reaction'? (eg blocks in the middle vanish and falling blocks connect and vanish also)

  6. This is a great thread. After nearly following the advice of my work colleagues who all have R4 cards, I took the advice in here and went for the CycloDS Evolution.

    It turned up yesterday from www.pcjerry.co.uk. Just installed the firmware update and Moonshine and I'm really liking it. Will investigate some homebrew stuff over the weekend.

  7. A strange thing has happened with this.

    My wife and I had previously been playing single player with dual wiimotes. Both of us were getting frustrated with the controls, to the point where my wife was convinced the batteries needed changing.

    Yet the other night we tried multi-player for the first time, which forced us to use the remote and nunchuk controls. We both were much better, soon 'A' grades were dead easy and even a few perfects started creeping in. I can't imagine the nunchuk is any more sensitive than the wiimote so I can only assume that because of the physical restraints of the cable we were much more restrained and less flamboyant - actually thinking about what we were doing and the positioning of the controls.

    So I'm thinking that it does work - it just isn't comparable to playing the maracas. Whether this makes it any good or or not is still open for debate.

  8. Word of the month for October is Diary

    The rules.

    1. One thousand words or less. More barely any.

    2. The deadline for posting your stories and poems is the end of October, on the dot.

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

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

    5. Have a go - you don't have to use the word, it's just a guideline.

    Enjoy!

  9. Do the rest of you think it came over as comical?

    Not me. I thought the ending maybe lessened the impact, but overall still pretty disturbing stuff.

    Didn't think it was a preplanned act of revenge at all, because you don't hear her side of it, ot me it just seems like it's HIS fault, and this is the world righting itself for his karma, she's neither here nor there in the grand scheme.

    Another interpretation I hadn't considered. To me it had revenge written all over it, but it obviously didn't come across that way. Maybe this way is a bit nicer.

  10. Instead of more fun today, the missus has really taken against this due to the control issues and can no longer bear the sight of it. The top right position is so incredibly unreliable for her that I'm not allowed to play while she's in the room.

    Yeah, top right is frustrating for me. Seems to be inconsistent, especially when moving from middle to high notes. It's not the calibration as top left works fine. I sometimes find tipping the controller back on itself is the best way for it to register high notes.

    Not sure it this is broken or not. It's certainly not intuitive. Hitting notes whilst trying to maintain the position of the remote feels forced, and seems to go against the flamboyancy of everything else. I'll stick with it for now, but I'm sure as it gets tougher it's going to be fairly unplayable.

    Take On Me is great though.

  11. Great month. Some feedback -

    Danster - Despite the dark conclusion I reckon it would still work well as a children's story. Enjoyed reading it, and I always like to read over-confidence being crushed so easily.

    johnjwaters - It's taken me a while to get used to your style. It has a casual, almost rambling style at times, but I've grown to like it. I wasn't sure if it would suit a story like this but by the end I had a genuine lump in the throat moment. I think this might be your best entry yet. One thing - some of the larger paragraphs make it a bit tricky to read, but it's only a minor thing.

    Chase - Strange thing to do, not sure if I entirely get it. Well written enough, but doesn't have the charm or subtlety of the story that inspired it.

    Jolly - Brilliant as always. Loved the precise nature of it all. Felt very much like a Jolly story, which is a compliment by the way.

    Foolish Mortal - I didn't read it as paranoia to begin with - I assumed the reflection was simply of himself, and how he didn't recognise the older self he'd become. So by the ending I was a bit thrown. Probably need to re-read at some point. Still enjoyed it though.

    Ravern - Great idea regarding the structure, keeping to it no doubt made the story telling a little more difficult. Liked the idea of a brief meeting at such a pivitol point, and some nice imagery.

    Sarah Sundae - Quirky and well written. Full of character. Wasn't too sure about the ending at first, but it's grown on me.

    Campfire_Burning - I agree about the last section. Leaving it open would have been quite unsettling, you'd be sharing the uncertainty of the main character. I think the main text hints enough about what might be, but still leaves a nagging doubt. Well written as always.

    Difficult to choose. It's between johnjwaters and Sarah Sundae. Oh go on then, johnjwaters gets it.

    Mine was supposed to be based around a symmetrical year, but it was difficult to do within the word count. Danster - I found your feedback interesting, as I'd always had it in mind that the ending was a pre-planned act of emotional revenge, but maybe it reads otherwise. Quite nice to find another interpretation.

  12. One year

    Spring

    We are introduced to each other through a mutual friend, and by last orders we’ve already exceeded expectations.

    We take a taxi back to mine. I take and hang her coat like a gentleman. She sits on my sofa like a part of the furniture, and over several glasses of wine we construct a short story together, improving on each others ideas to the point of perfection. Without shame or uncertainty we fall into bed, and it’s just as we’ve dreamt it a million times over, lying awake as financial markets soar, advancing forces retreat, bloggers speak in overdrive.

    It is clear that we are made for each other.

    As the morning sun rises I finally come clean, tell her that I’m not over a previous relationship, tell her that I’ve promised to give myself time and space before committing once more, to ensure I achieve everything on a to-do list that’s not yet been written. Despite our obvious compatibilities, I’m simply not ready. Not ready yet.

    The colour of her eyes cannot hide her disappointment. I feel like a coward, replaying in my mind all the opportunities I had to tell her – before the bed, before the taxi, before the introduction. I should have warned our mutual friend, passed on my responsibility to someone else.

    She asks how much longer I need, and I under estimate six months at least. She suggests that we make a pact – to meet at a pre-determined venue later on in the year. We should only come if still single, and if prepared to continue from this point forward, like the elapsed time between us has never happened.

    The plan sounds as perfect as we are. Together we mark a time and place in our diaries, before heading our separate ways.

    Summer

    A new girl, with so many questions.

    Describe me in a single word she asks, and I guess upon sore. The shape of her eyes confirm it - she’s recently come from a serious relationship, and at our age all relationships are serious by default, even five minute encounters like this one.

    I tell her my greatest regret - that I’ve never had an off the rails period, a seemingly essential part of any worthwhile biography. She takes my hand across the table for the first time and whispers if you’re serious we could do it together. Suddenly it feels like a possibility, like I could wear shorts all year round if I wanted to. Maybe get arrested in public, wake up in a field of corn not knowing if I’ve brought shame upon those who are close to me. I could be off the rails enough to render such objectives and dreams futile, to let selfish circumstance dictate my path.

    We discuss the clear implications, the prospect of losing careers, friends and families. It has to be all or nothing, or else risk becoming the cliché that we’re desperately trying to avoid. She is deadly serious, and at our age all decisions are serious by default, even the snap ones.

    A whistle blows, followed by a voice that fills the room.

    Ok, Time up, Make a note of the number and gentlemen please move to the table on your left.

    She grabs my wrist for the second time.

    By the way I’m number twelve she says.

    Autumn

    I wake in a field of corn with number twelve lying beside me.

    Our lives have gone to rack and ruin, a three month snare rush of distorted fuckery that has dictated our lives and destroyed our structure. We sense our time together is now coming to an end, and for the best part we’ve kept to our anti-plan – gone off the rails, all or nothing. It’s now time to come down and rebuild, to return to our separate lives without risking yet another just-one-more month of burn out.

    We dance together for the last time, alone in the morning cornfield. Financial markets crash, advancing forces surge, bloggers fall silent, and I wonder if it’s all because of us.

    She takes my hand for the millionth time, thanks me, and tells me her name.

    Winter

    We meet as arranged.

    It’s clear that we are both nervous, wondering if the other is here out of politeness only. She looks exactly as I remember. The reflection in her eyes indicates that I don’t.

    She asks if I’ve been waiting long, and I reply all year, now realising the subconscious truth, that this was the only unwritten item on my to-do list, and it’s taken me until now to realise it.

    I ask her the same, to which she takes from her bag a functional looking calendar, the kind found in the offices of industry. She flicks through the pages, felt-tip crosses wavering like an old print. Today’s date is full of hand drawn colour – a celebration of fireworks, rabbits, daisy chains, a huge Ferris wheel dominating the corner of the page.

    We take a taxi back to mine, where I take and hang her coat like a gentleman. We sit on my sofa like parts of the furniture, and over a mug of hot chocolate I tell her my new story, a story that doesn’t yet have an ending, and she suggests changing to the past tense. We talk until the early hours, discussing the year of waiting that to us has never happened.

    With expectation and yearning we leap into bed, and it’s just how we’ve wanted it, lying awake as financial markets and advancing forces and all those bloggers do nothing of any significance. Everything else is irrelevant as we become each others centre of attention.

    It feels like joy times a million.

    I wake the next morning to find she has gone.

  13. No doubt people are moaning about the death of IDM once more, but after initial reservations I'm loving this.

    It's the middle section of the distorted-trashy tracks that's surprised me the most. They've slowly revealed hidden layers that I didn't hear the first time - massive breakdowns, smooth melodies and subtle bits of electronica drifting in and out at will. It's all a bit lacking in stucture, but it has that 'epic' feel that some of Ultravistor had, without being so harsh on the ears.

    I actually found myself singing to 'A real woman' in the car on the way home tonight. :blink:

  14. Quit procrastinating, Hombre!

    Gah. I'm trying, but the idea just won't come. I've thought of something suitably generic for next month though.

    Thanks to everyone for all the advice about writing forums. After some moderate success on here it feels like the natural next step to try and improve further. Don't know if the critique on those sites is any more valid than the comments in here, but I guess you have to assume so. Think I might post some of my older winning entries somewhere else, will let people know when they're up. I'll continue to post new stuff here though.

    I agree with the comments about feedback. It's initially tough to receive (I used to write for a gaming website that took plenty of flak, plus my job at times feels like non-stop criticism), but in nearly all cases feedback can be viewed as a positive thing.

    Apologies for derailing the comp. Best get back to my procrastinating..

  15. I'm now really, really liking this for the following reasons.

    - It feels completely abstract. Levels seem to exist because they work, not because they fit within the confines of the game. It's a 2D sci-fi scrolling shooter, yet it has giant ants that are at odds with the perspective. You have falling block puzzles to solve. You find giant footballs for no apparent reason. You swipe at things with a baseball bat. It's one of those games, partly due to the sheer amount of onscreen chaos, that you can watch without fully ever understanding whats going on. And for that I like it.

    - It has traps everywhere. Seemingly simple levels soon reveal hidden depths. It's a trigger happy game that demands caution, quick reactions combined with a steady thought process. Missiles bounce back, timed events escalate from bad to worse, a panic-induced EX attack can release even more enemies into the action. The number of times I've cursed my own stupidity is relentless.

    - It produces amazing moments when you least expect them, Due the the flexibility of your attacks, combined with the variety of levels and opponent, you can unwittingly produce moments of carnage that you'll soon forget how you ever created in the first place. I'm not even sure that the game always expects them. I've seen a confused homing missle spin round in circles not knowing what to do or how to cope with the sheer scale of it all.

    - It's tough, but if you die it's probably your fault. The slight exception to this being the insta-kills of a first play on a new level, otherwise it's a skill to be learnt and savoured. Weapon experimentation only adds to the challenge. Some levels I've barely scraped through, vowing never to return, yet I've since gone back and breezed through them like a tutorial.

    - The slowdown adds to the charm. On the rare occasions that play returns to a normal speed it feels too fast. I like the crunching noise of two-hundred plus missiles combining. I like the feeling that my DS could at any moment explode into flames trying to process it all.

    A downside? I can't always get down into a space quick enough, and my my brain is still overwhelmed by the choice of levels from the outset. Otherwise, after endless early frustrations and five-second deaths, this has slowly become one of my favourite DS titles.

  16. Think of it as your Christmas tin of Quality Street.

    Very tempting to dip in and finish off all the golden toffees first though. :lol:

    Treasure's Best have a pretty good curve with the exception of the two or three puzzley ones which I'd advise you to leave if they're troubling you. They're mostly action. After playing most of the Other levels they're definitely what they say, the best levels.

    Thanks, that seems like good advice. I'll stick with Treasure's best in order for now and see how I get on. Maybe for the other stages I might be able to liberate myself into a more pick-and-choose approach

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