We Want Our Tea Back! 10.30.03

Yeah, it’s a bit late. I blame Windows XP for not putting my files into attachments that actually WORK on other people’s computers. Well, anyway, another week rolls by, and I’m still here. I’m as surprised as anyone, but while I’m here, lets have some transatlantic fun, and hope I last longer than Watson (he says, shamelessly jumping on the bandwagon)

First off: Thanks to everyone who contributed to my survey. We had some real old-school gamers pasing through; special mentions go to Matt Hardin, who has an Odyssey 2, and Ryan Davis, who started on an Amstrad CPC 464 (Ah, Amstrad, how I miss thee). It seems that most respondents had Atari
systems first, though (2600s and the occasional 7800), with the good ol’ NES coming in close behind.

Rugby World Cup update: A narrow victory by England over the highly-underrates Samoa has left them top of the group. The crunch match now is Samoa vs South Africa for the runner-up spot. A match that some might call ‘disturbingly close’; but people are failing to realise that there *are* other top-class Southern Hemisphere sides apart from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. I predict that Samoa will beat South Africa and go on to the quarter-finals.

In other rugby news, the USA won a close-fought victory over Japan. Congrats, guys,you’re not going to finish bottom of the group. Of course, you’re not going to qualify either, but given that France and Scotland were
both in your pool, it was looking unlikely from the start. So hold your heads high! Also, respect is due to the Welsh who have al least made the Quarters. Now you’ll get to play us in the next round… Scotland and Ireland all look comfortably placed to qualify, and seem unlikely to be playing each other. Which could lead to some *very*
interesting Semi-Finals

Ready to Play?

On the gaming front: I’m stuck in the UK, so not much new here. However, I will reiterate Chuck’s assertion of
GO BUY VIEWTIFUL JOE!! I’m borrowing the Japanese import off a friend, and it kicks 18 different kinds of arse. Even if I can’t translate two-thirds of it (hooray for English plot dialogue).

Final random note to all those watching “The Office”; It’s OK, but nothing *really* special by UK standards. Go watch Blackadder instead.

Pimpin’ On

Fred is in the house, and I know exactly where he’s coming from. Go pay him a call.

Lucard goes all vampiric on us, and the entire online Goth community wet themselves with delight. And I get lots of extra hits as a result. I’d pimp his new column, but I can’t predict the URL.

Liquidcross is angry. But slightly less than usual.

Cory gets a reciprocal No-Hard-Feelings pimp, just because.

Hardin! I can’t find any of your stuff anywhere! Tell me where you are so I can pimp you properly!

There would be more, but I keep losing track of who’s who.

Now, the commentary…

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Living in the UK, you have to deal with a lot. Tony Blair, the EU, press that just don’t know when to quit, and, of course, getting royally shafted in terms of gaming. Yes, living in the UK can suck.

But despite the fact that pessimism is our national sport, not everybody is
doom-and-gloom. To redress the balance, I shall relate my top 5 reason why it’s Good To Be A Gamer in the UK.

5) Nobody blames us

We may be a comparaively small market by comparison to the US and Japan, but we’re still big in context-terms. And as a result, UK games have the ability to make or break games far more than you might imagine. and the
best part is, nobdy ever blames us for it. We could have kept the Neo Geo Pocket going stronger; given it a chance to shine. But we didn’t. And it’s America as a whole that gets it in the neck from Lucard for destroying
his handheld. Core design churn out ever-shoddier version of Tomb Raider, and nobody complains about “the UK games scene filling our shelves with junk”.

4) We get less crap.

For every high-quality title on a successful machine, you can guarantee that there’ll be 9 other titles that are average at best, and another 90 that are dire beyond belief. In a smaller market, like the UK, developers are less inclined to waste money pushing knock-off games that just won’t sell. It’s not economically viable. As such, though we may have fewer games available in our home-format, there’s a far better chance of them being good ones. Which saves consciencious UK gamers like us the burden of having to warn other people away from them in our media, leaving us more time to play Pokemon.

3) UK Gaming Media

The US games scene is well-known for its “Official” magazines; the ones that toe the Company Line. And the UK has its own offenders on that score; back in the heyday of the SNES, the “Official Nintendo Magazine” repeatedly printed scare stories about how adapters for imported games could seriously damage your machine and void your warranty, because the big N wanted to stop people importing games. But throughout all this,
there have always been myriad bastions of truly Free Press; the magazines that did things their way. From the infamous “Edge” (which started off *really* good, but went downhill), to the legendary “Super Play” (games mags with anime sections? Sophisticated humour and genuine opinions? Oh hell yes!) even through to the crop of today’s titles, there are always true gems on the shelves. Which (according to my best information) is a rarity in America. no wonder you guys all go online to get honest reviews ;)

2) We don’t have to put up with reactionary idiots (quite so much)

Sure, you might get a falsified scaremongering article in a tabloid newspaper here and there. The odd minor news item. But that’s about it. Nobody in the UK is stupid enough to file high-profile legal cases against games companies over their products. You don’t have political lobbyists trying to get games banned from shops. The ability to play one’s games in peace is not to be underestimated. It also makes gaming a far more acceptable hobby to be involved with if you don’t have hordes of irresponsible parents attempting to stop you from doing what you enjoy. Furthermore, the lack of morons has served to accelerate the movement of gaming into the mainstream.

1) Rare

Every since the days of the Spectrum, under the name of Ultimate Play The Game, the brothers Stamper have been rolling out AAA titles. Back in the day, everybody who was *anybody* owned Lunar Jetman, Sabre Wulf, and a whole slew of Ultimate’s other games. And when gaming moved to consoles, Rare were there, with Speccy updates and all-new games (I always remember Snake, Rattle ‘n’ Roll, myself). Wherever Nintendo went, Rare were always right behind, so much so that Nintendo (who rarely invest in any companies outside of Japan) went ahead and bought a sizeable stake in the company. And so the cycle continued, producing such all-time greats as Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, Goldeneye on the N64, and Starfox Adventures on
the GameCube (a highly underrated game, even if it doesn’t have nearly enough Arwings). When Nintendo sould their Rare-Share to Microsoft, I was *really* worried (turns out I didn’t need to, since they contracted Sonic Team instead). And why am I ranting and raving about Rare? Because they are the biggest games company in the world that have RELEASED THEIR GAMES IN THE UK FIRST! And for that, they are to be heartily commended. Because although it doesn’t happen often, when the games are as good as Rare make ’em, it’s worth having. Admittedly, it’s possibleCore Design did it with omb Raider, but that doesn’t matter because TR doesn’t count. EVER. Except in Worst-Game polls.

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And that’s yer lot. now go read everybody else, ’cause they deserve it.

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