Insanity Crash: Where for art thou Sonic 3?

One afternoon in those sunny days back in my childhood, I asked my Mum and Dad if I could invite friends back to the house for lunch at lunch time, with it being so close to the school. In first and second year, a rota would have to be drawn up, as our other destination, McCormick's, was sometimes occupied by his mum (which meant we would get into trouble for being too loud) or his brother (who has umpteen friends round, and relegated us to downstairs or to the smaller room. My parents reluctantly agreed setting a limit on four in total at any one time - how many friends do they think I had?

Well, over the years, a fair few. The numbers fluctuated and change over the years from none for a while to a maximum rule breaking six plus me to the large exodus that was my sister’s friends coming home too. A friend who almost always was there is Steven McMaster and this blog centres on him firmly.

He has the ability to make people do stupid things, and also the ability to do very strange things him self. But one of these, and something I will still not forgive him for, is the most shocking tale of all time and I don’t use these words lightly.

I was an obsessed child - and I am still an obsessive adult. I must know about something that I get into to the point of geekout, and the list of these things that I am habitually geeking out over is surprisingly long and a few of closet friends could probably fill this list in for you. Sonic the Hedgehog, Rollercoasters and Rollercoaster Tycoon are three that ruled my early teenage years to the degree where my childhood-glee gland still makes me a sucker for the blue hedgehog in almost any game he appears, and to this day I can reel off stats about pretty much any rollercoaster built recently. I was tested by Shayan very recently and failed slightly which was a bit disappointing but also reassuring.

I pride my self that I only got interested in gadgets and Mobile Phones because I worked in s hop where people loved trying to catch you put by asking about “that new Nokia”, but after leaving the sanctuary of a job that was both mundane but coupled with great friends I deremembered all that knowledge, even though some of my friends still see me as the go to guy for phones.

To show this degree to which I geekout, I shall describe my feelings for Sonic, and this will help to put it into context. When all the cool kids were getting Playstations, I had to sit with my Mega-Drive, and my Sonic games. I was introduced to Sonic the Hedgehog early on, probably 1992, by my uncle and I get remember the first time I played it - and I am not making this up. I can remember the colours, and the fear of killing the titular character. I was terrified. Luckily, I overcame this irrational fear and picked the game up. For my birthday I received Sonic 3 for the Megadrive, and the following Christmas, Sonic and Knuckles (basically Sonic 3 part 2). The game was in development as one large title, but to make the release date they split the game over two cartridges. At the time, I had no idea, and there is a video of me at Christmas opening Sonic and Knuckles to read the manual to find out the storyline, exclaiming "It continues straight from the last one" in a whiney pre-pubescent voice that makes my cringe - it is almost as bad as N64 kid. Shudder...

So I was stoked. I am now going to assume you know little about the Sonic 3 thing so bare with me while I give you some background. S&K (Sonic and Knuckles) had a lock on feature which allowed you to plug in S3 into the top, to give you the game they had planned for all along - a full 16 levels. Think of it as the full version of The Lord of the Rings. The game had two types of Chaos Emerald (if you don't know what they are, I suggest you write me off as a friend). Getting all the Chaos Emeralds (S3) and the Super Emeralds (S&K) made you Hyper-Sonic. This was easy however as Sonic was fast, jumped higher and had Tails to help him. So, I gave my self a challenge and I took Tails as the only character, completing both parts of the game, grabbing every Emerald and Super Emerald and had 99 continues and 99 lives. It was my pride and joy, my full goal, my achievement similar to Joyce's Ulysses. I was complete.

Steven, on whim, deleted the file right in front of my eyes. I still have never forgiven him for it.

Insanity Crash: Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Da Do! Auberge...

There are staple things from my childhood that have shaped me to the way I am now, and these are the following, in no particular order:

- Lego which fuelled my imagination and my technical brain
- Sonic the Hedgehog which gave me my love of computer games
- Playing football every night for 2 years solid which gave me a better footballing brain
- Chris Rea, pumped into the car at every opportunity by my Dad, which probably gave me my love for guitar music.

This morning whilst driving into work I had to stop and fill the car up with petrol in a rather worrying and expensive cyclical routine of design things to extract out of the ground my motors life blood before burning it into water and carbon dioxide. After 8pm Chris Moyles played the newest track from McFly, the little pop wonders gone indie with their latest album releasing it themselves. Whilst listen to Lies I was thinking “Where have I heard this before?”

Well, towards the end, Chris Moyles started to sing “Auberge” which caught me out – could it be? Yes it was! They were talking about a little known Chris Rea track from yesteryear which uncannily sounds like the McFly tune.

The chorus and verse are almost identical in chord progression and rhythm. And it reminded me of something that I always forget: Chris Rea is not that unknown, even though I have only heard it centred on my dad either playing it or requesting it to be played. It is a source of fun for my sister and I, who would point out every time we heard a Chris Rea song on the radio, in a shop, or on TV. I like to think of Chris Rea as my families “thing” and it always makes me smile hearing him played on the radio.

It only gets boring at Christmas when that Chris Rea song is played… (note: this video was uploaded by my Father.)

Insanity Crash: Only In Aberdeen

Before I post a reply to Jonathan's post, I thought I'd share something quite funny. I work in an Industrial Estate and the closest places for food are Burger King or a little sandwich place called Take5. Or, if you so wish to die of coronary heart disease, the trucker burger vans, of which there are many.

So today I drive past one on the way into to work and see the owner stocking up pulling boxes of sausages/burgers/bacon/fat/death out of his boot. And what car is he driving?

A convertible BMW 3 series coupe. Only in Aberdeen.

Insanity Crash: I'm Ready for my close up Mr Google.

I think I had my photo taken today. I was quietly eating my horrible Burger King Chicken Royale (I have to cheer myself up seeing as I can barely walk, another footballing injury) and I saw a black Astra drive past into the near by industrial estate. No, the driver was not holding a camera at me through the window, but on top of his car was a 5 foot black pole, with four cameras pointing from the four compass points.

It was a Google Car.

Google are driving around the UK right now taking photos of every street so that they can add them to their Street View Google mapping service. We all know the buzz of going onto Google Earth and zooming around the world… but imagine that instead of just looking down from the head god like heights of the sky you can drop in a street level and look at houses. And cars. And, obviously, people.

I can understand why this might be alarming. Indeed, it gave me the creeps seeing the stealth like black car drive about, no one else but me paying attention to it and going “LOOK IT IS A GOOGLE CAR!”. Kinda creepy.

I have heard many talks and read a few pieces about it (the best being The Register’s map of sightings, like an X Files UFO map) and some say it is an invasion of privacy. Google’s response is to blur people faces and license plates. Some have said that it is against the law to take photos of things without permission.

Here is my thoughts: We get our photo taken all the time by CCTV and Surveillance cameras, so that should not be that new a sensation – it is unsettling to think that we can now search for them and anyone can now look at your house… from anywhere in the world.

I think that it is not so bad a thing. If I want to see something I can go there and see it and no one can stop me, so why can’t I just virtually go and see it on Street View? Amounts to the same thing I think.

The Register’s Map

The Guardian reporting on the fact it has been approved for the UK

The link. No UK cities yet though…
Look out for me. If I appear in it I’ll post it.

Insanity Crash: The World will look up and shout "Save Us!" and I'll whisper... "No."

So, I bought an Xbox360 game this weekend and started playing it on sunday night and I can say it is probably one of the best games I have ever played. The game, Mass Effect, is so deep I can't quite imagine anyone making it. The levels are great to play through, the storyline is compelling, and the gameplay it pretty much the most interesting set up I have played in a long long time.

So, the story. Basically, I am Mark Shepard (I chose the first name) and I am an Alliance solider. I am an infiltrator (I chose that) and I am Earthborn (again, I chose that) and I was the last man standing at an attack on a human colony a few years ago (I chose that too). It is set in 2183 I think and it is basically a big game version of something best described as an episode (maybe series) of Star Trek. I am a recent addition to the Spectre, the Citadels council (the guys who run the Galaxy) and the first human to hold that position. I am charged with finding a rogue spectre called Saren who is attacking colonies trying to unearth information about a group of extinct aliens called the Reapers who it is believed destroy every organic and intelligent lifeform in the universe every 50'000 years or so for no reason.

That is proper sci-fi guys. There are a few things wrong with it though - firstly, everyone speaks English and there is no Babelfish in sight. Also, everything is referred to as "years" and "metres" which are surely a human thing. The game is so spent on making it seem that us humans are new to the galaxy that it is jarring that the rest of the universe knows what we are talking about.

The game is set about as an RPG where I talk to members of the crew, either being a nice boy letting them talk and being courteous, or being a dick, calling them bastards and basically being a shit to them. This effects the storyline and the outcome of the game.

And in true RPG fashion I am stunned by the depth of the game. I can talk to pretty much anyone, about loads of topics, and have hundreds of weapons with many many upgrades and items to use. And some nice battle sections, it feels like what I wish Halo was when it came out. Steve and I have enjoyed watching the story unfold and the length of the game (approaching 8 hours of gameplay and only on the third of eight chapters, with millions of side quests ignored for now) I am truly sucked into the world of Mass Effect. Jumping across the Milky Way is great fun.

The length of the game is refreshing as Steve has played through Gears of War in a couple of days and also completed Call of Duty 4 in a few hours (not an exaggeration, I played it really badly last night for an hour and completed 1/3 of the game). These other games have multiplayer options that are supposed to extend the length of the game... since when did multiplayer excuse a game for being short? I much prefer a long single player story rather than a short story bolstered by a large number of multiplayer options.

Anyway, something else that caught my eye is the trailer for Watchmen (see it here). The graphic novel - say comic book at your peril - is immense, and I suggest you pick it up NOW, but for the uninitiated, here is a quick synopsis of an incredibly deep book.

So, in the 50s a group of vigilantes who were carrying out the acts seen in comic books of the time join forces to create the Minutemen, who would organise together to sort out crime. A few decades later and their children/replacements/new heroes are taking over, and are being quite effective. However, the government are not enjoying it and pass the Keene Act in 1977 to Ban all the vigilantes. All of them hang up their costumes - except one. Rorschach feels that his mask is in fact his true human face and his "mask" is his true identity. In 1985 he enters an apartment of Edward Blake, who had been murdered by being thrown out his apartment building. Rorschach discovers that Eddie Blake was infact the Comedian, a member of the very vigilante group that Rorschach was part of.

He realises that there is a plot to kill all the members of the vigilantes that are around, and warns the Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II. In fact, there is something much more sinister going on, which might be a bigger threat to mankind than Rorschach first thought.

It has truly one of those endings that make you go, "Christ!" and read it again. If the film stays close to the novel (which, from the look of the trailer, it will) the director Zack Snyder might just have done the impossible. I seriously suggest you check out the trailer and read the novel.

The naked blue guy? He is Doc Manhattan and the only one who actually has super hero powers. And is the reason that Russia are about to nuke America. And makes a clockwork cathedral. On Mars. Yeah... just read it okay?

Insanity Crashed.

I woke up this morning and glanced at my watch. It told me I was running late. So, I dashed into the bathroom, bleary eyed, dived under the shower, hurridly washed and rinsed my hair, dried off, rushed back into the bedroom and went to pull the blinds up.

"Blimey" I though "It is still really dark".
"Hold on."

I look outside. The dawn has still not came. I start to worry that the world has ended or that the sun has not risen. I glance back at my watch.

Bollocks, I read it the wrong way round. After showering and getting ready - not dressed yet - I realised I had read the time upside down and it was 1.30am, not 8am. Back to bed then.