Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category


This was to be an article about how pleased I was with my improving health, however my eye reached new levels of agony ten days ago with agonising abrasions to my cornea hitting double figures in one night.

I, Casualty 

When I eventually got to Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital Emergency Eye Clinic, the impressively skilled and efficient doctor said my cornea was like “patchwork”, and after applying anaesthetic, scraped the whole top layer clean off! This left me in a fucking world of pain and effectively unsighted for a couple of days while it grew back again, and only today am I able to use a computer long enough to do anything other than waste five minutes looking at bicycle components and blog stats. In fact, there has been very little to do at all. Unable to face sunlight or TV for a week, I just had radio and CDs for company in the daytime.

The Blind Leading the Partially Sighted

The radio populated my mind with bilge by likes of Gordon Brown, Michael Martin and hysterical commentators, their faux assertive voices feigning outrage at Daily Telegraph revelations concerning expenses claimed by Members of Parliament. My understanding of the situation was that MPs were underpaid (many times lower than their potential value in the private sector) and by way of recompense received very comfortable living expenses. Which seems fairs enough for working 16 hours a day job from which you might well get ceremoniously sacked from every 4-5 years. MPs were also clearly happy about the situation as they voted to keep it that way ten months ago. Disclosure is the only recent change. All the current mock-apologising and rehearsed grovelling is exactly what I dislike about politicians. The sums of money concerned are miniscule on a national scale – I care not if I inadvertently spend an incalculably small amount of tax on a “flat screen TV” (what other sort can you buy?) – I just dislike lies and opportunism. David Cameron is surely the worst case. As in the tragedy of Baby P, or any other real or imagined crisis, he jumps into every media op yelping “change…change…change”, morally posturing in an attempt to adopt a leaders’ role with “strong” words, but only caustic self-interest at heart. Perhaps he would like it if MPs returned to being unpaid, so, like in the good old days, only rich Conservatives could afford to take on the job? Or perhaps he believes that highly paid and morally dubious consultancies should be undertaken, as is already the case with many of the shadow cabinet. The present Government may be rightly unpopular, but Cameron led Government would be ruinous. Meanwhile, I wish an end to the fuss.

Noise is Off

With most music radio (with the exception of the excellent D&B shows on 1Xtra) living in retro-pop tedium, and the computer off-limits, I turned to CDs. Listening to music eyes shut and in pain is pretty intense and not altogether enjoyable. I got extremely pissed off listening to hardcore CDs – apart from the odd decent track the lazy programming seemingly abandons the listener while noisy-yet-dull sequences repeat. Classical music is more interesting, picking apart the various textures and guessing the intent of the composer, but any visualising made me move my eyes (ouch!) and any searing climaxes and overtly high pitched violins just made me think of my eyelids growing teeth and ripping ripping ripping!!! THE RIPPING…

Total Downer

After a week I had signs that could easily be mistaken for serious clinical depression. The constant pain had made me irritable and preoccupied, my inability to do anything useful lowered my self-opinion and physically I was weak due to zero exercise. All those symptoms left with the worst of the pain, but it is easy to see how lazy GPs mistake the symptoms of physical distress for mental illness and dish out the anti-depressants. This short experience has underlined the opinions I outlined in my earlier Prozacrap post.

Fit as a Frequency Modulator

It is a shame about my eye, as otherwise I’ve been really getting back to full fitness. I will write a full explanation of my chest illness on the main site when I’m sure it’s gone, but it would seen that I had a long-term muscular problem which was confused with the symptoms of oesophagitis, which I also had and ran concurrently for around a year. As a result, the muscular illness went untreated while the oesophagitis was believed to continue after it was cured. Now I’m normally pain-free except for if I bash my chest hard, lift very heavy objects or eat too much. As cycling generally doesn’t involve any of the above and as such I’ve managed regular rides, including a couple of 60 milers, which I’m very pleased with as six months ago I could barely wheel the bike from the garage without discomfort. I’ve also lost quite a few of the 104kg I was hulking last year. As my body gets more agile, as does my mind and I’m now pretty well zipping round music software program Cubase 5. I’m doing a couple more remixes and cover versions and I hope to be technically competent enough to concentrate on content and make some works of note by the year’s end. Meantime, here a couple of visual treats I was enjoying before the ripping…


martyrs1Shamefully, my knowledge of French horror starts and stops with Switchblade Romance, but I’ll certainly be checking out more after watching Martyrs, out on DVD on Monday following a limited UK cinematic release. Forcing mainstream film media into namechecking Ichi the Killer and Italian gobble ‘em up Cannibal Holocaust, due to the extreme violence, it is unfortunate that a film such as Martyrs – made to communicate and understand pain – should get confused with those that glower over it. This is an unexpectedly emotional study of long term physical and mental sufferance, and memories the film comforted me after my latest eye injury. Best viewed knowing little about it, this is one of my favourite films of all time in any genre.

miner_xboxboxartXbox 360 owner burrowing into community game downloads may discover gem Miner Dig Deep, a superbly addictive mine building collect ‘em up featuring a shopful of earth moving powertools. Fans of Toolbox Murders will be disappointed by the lack of underwritten female characters to use them on, though. Around four hours top entertainment for less than £2, this is one internet purchase that really will make you gasp as your shaft grows huge!




After being too ill to cycle for a over a year, I sometimes peruse my Raceface hydropack that lurks in the kitchen. I first bought a hydropack around ten years ago – it’s a backpack that contains a plastic bladder (usually around 1.5-2 litres) to fill with water or energy drink, a tube goes over your shoulder and you suck on it to have a drink. There’s also space in the pack for a few spares, pump, inner tubes etc – I guess you get the message that it isn’t an especially glamorous piece of equipment. In fact, I used to get some very strange looks. SCARY!

However, around five years ago some “extreme” mountain bike riders were photographed wearing hydropacks whilst performing outrageous tricks – road gaps, cliff drops, 360s and even fully inverted – upside down and fully hydrated. WOW!

To begin with I thought there to be some humourous fad, but no. These were freeriders (previously, “freerider” was cycle company Cannondales’s copyrighted term for non-race or downhill mountain biking) who, the story goes, ride on 45lb bikes pulling mad tricks but covering enough of Canada to require tools and water. Now the UK cycle industry are playing it is that, if you’re on a normal UK trail rider you need an expensive overbuilt bike with 6 inches of suspension travel – plus a hydropack – presumably for bandages and morphine. MENTAL!

Even more bizarre, though, is the appearance of backpacks is new quad bike videogame Pure. They may have lost the plastic tubes, but I recognise ‘em – hydropacks worn whilst the riders race and perform fantastical freeride manoeuvres – a utilitarian device rendered free of any practical use! Now we’re just literally twiddling our thumbs – controlling a virtual hydropack. AWESOME!

I blame Red Bull for making the link between drab items and adrenaline fueled excitement – their marketing has implied for years that opening a can of pop may make you an F1 pilot or aeroplane racer. But I remember long before Red Bull there were Pepsi Max adverts making the link between extreme sports and soft drinks. Now even PCs are also often described as “extreme” – another thumb twiddler. Along with shitty brick-slow 4x4s. And every other crappy TV programme that inserts the word into the title to luridly suggest voyeuristic danger – all from the safety of one’s own armchair. CRAZY!

The word “extreme” and most of the surrounding vocabulary were wrought into marketing buzzwords around the turn of the century, and you can blame the same kind of marketing people who re-invented the hydropack. Or maybe it was Bill and Ted. But I’d rather imagine it was an elite squad of London-based media chicks, replete with 3 litre hydropacks containing enough vodka and Red Bull to talk shite for weeks. LET’S ROCK N’ ROLL


Links has thousands of genuinely awesome freeride shots – with and without hydropacks

Camelback are the originators of the hydropack

Before the drugs kicked in, this post was going to be about Pure, a quad bike game – see developers Black Rock Studios

Be in no doubt, there was fuck all to do in the 1980s. As a fourteen year old uninterested in sport, a dysfunctional family life and television programs a dirge of smug, po-faced rubbish my Commodore computer was my escape, and effectively introduced me to electronic music. Prior to that, my main source of music was listening to metal and punk tapes through my ZX Spectrum tape deck – just like a primitive EA Trax. With the C64 you couldn’t use the tape deck for music so I was forced to listen to the in-game music (on the “SID” chip) and loved it, and through that developed a taste for Jean Michel Jarre, through to Front 242 and European industrial music up to techno 12”s, all of which directly influenced my early musical output.

Playing the games themselves for any length of time, like watching films from the 1920s or a four hour plays from the 16th century, is a truly specialist interest, requiring dewy yet steely eyes for the appalling graphics, and saintly patience for the high difficulty levels – there was a lot less entertainment on offer in those days – so plenty of time to plug through the ever repeating levels ad nauseam.

The music, however, can be enjoyed whilst doing more interesting things on your PC and the Sidplay emulator is excellent and absolutely free. Most of the tracks are poor even allowing for the technology but downloading the, ahem, “top 64” is a slight quality control – a few that made me smile are Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Crazy Comets, The Last V8 and Forbidden Forest.

I’m not sure the whole thing is interesting enough to warrant the small cult that appears to be surrounding it, but following the links to the sites of the obsessed is interesting in itself, as is the fact that many producers such as Timberland are using SID sounds in their productions, via SID VSTi plug-ins. However, for a supreme example of a modern interpretation of C64 music, check out the free demo of Bionic Commando: Rearmed for Xbox 360.



Sidplay 2 emulator

Top 64 C64 trax

Full collection of SID files

Quadrasid VSTi plug-in

Buy a hardware SID for £300!

Slay radio – “modern” C64 remixes