Tag Archives: IPhone

Wii U? Why not?

 

Yep, that’s a console all right…

Whilst the telephonically-inclined are constantly refreshing their browser of choice on Wednesday in a desperate attempt to pre-order the new iPhone, those of us whose gadget yearnings extend beyond the kingdom that Steve Jobs built will be eagerly following Nintendo’s various websites, as the Japanese innovation factory announces a release date for their Wii U system.

Or the Wii 2.5′ to those more cynical observers underwhelmed by the console’s purported specs and games line-up.

Other half watching TV? Continue your game on this tablet controller.

Slightly rejigged versions of Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3“, & “Ninja Gaiden 3are due alongside the next Assassin’s Creed“, “New Super Mario Bros U”, “Pikmin 3 and the mysterious motion-control fest , “Avengers: Battle for Earth” will vie for your attention this Holiday season amongst 3o or so launch window games.

It might be rubbish shovelware, or family-friendly genius, but who wouldn’t want an “Avengers” title on their system this year.

I’m always up for a new video games system – new hotness incoming! – but I’m not inclined to jump on board this particular hype train.

For one thing  – and this is key – the price of early adoption is frequently prohibitive.   It’s early enough in a console’s life cycle that production costs haven’t reduced and any business worth their stock exchange listing is going to want to give their new piece of sexy consumer electronics kit a price tag which reflects its newness, desirability and perceived cool status.  With games systems, unless you have a tattoo of Master Chief or proudly self-declare yourself as a devout Sony fan boy/girl, getting a console on the day that it hits the streets is going to leave you out of pocket, stuck with a bunch of rushed-to-market games and loudly cursing your consumer electronics overlords for  being suckered by the PR blitz once more.

I picked up my Xbox and PS3 a good few years into their life cycle – my briefly-owned Wii some time after that – and didn’t regret the financially-motivated decision to wait awhile until decent games made their debut, online services were sorted out and I had an idea what I was buying into.

The half-this-gen, half-next-gen nature of the Wii U makes me more likely to bide my time with it, if I ever pick up one at all.  As much as I love Mario and Samus, I’ve not seen anything yet from the demo footage so far shown of the system which tells me that this is anything other than a bridge between the Wii and what Nintendo come up with after seeing how the Xbox 720 and PS4 have shaken up gaming with their next disruptive iterative offerings.

Oddly enough, the Wii U really feels like a reaction rather than a singular design statement – and probably should have been with us earlier than it is – a system which can give Miyamoto-designed whimsy and blast-em-up military shooter action with a supportive suite of online services and the usual HD bells and whistles perhaps has a better chance than most at appealing to each sector of the lucrative family gaming market.

Establishing the message that your new system can handle the same fist-pumping, knuckle-dragging Bro Shooters as the other games consoles might drag in gamers for whom Nintendo is just greasy kid’s stuff but I’m not sure that they can get over the company’s image as the safe system for family gamers – and a lot of Ninty’s core audience would run a mile rather than play “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield”.

So, who is the Wii U for exactly?

 

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“Headhunters” film review – Be careful what you wish for…

 

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In “Headhunters”, an adaptation of the popular Nordic crime novel by Jo Nesbo, we learn an important lesson which could probably help many of us in our daily lives – ask your partner what they want, don’t just assume it.

It’s a notion which the anti-hero of this piece, the slightly improbably named Roger Brown (played by diminutive, Christopher Walken-alike Aksel Hennie) could stand to learn.  Though outwardly successful as a slick corporate recruiter in Oslo, he’s inwardly drowning by trying to provide wife Diana (Synovve Macody Lund) with the trappings of an upwardly mobile lifestyle – architect designed house, nice clothes, facilitating his wife’s new art gallery.

Something has to give – and Roger’s sideline in high-end art theft from upscale clients and contacts isn’t getting the job done, lucrative as it is.  When word of a big score comes his way – the kind that will fund a bloke’s retirement – it proves both impossible to resist and the beginnings of a journey through a very personal and gruesome hell.

The first thing to say about this very enjoyable film is that it isn’t for everyone.  If pitch-black comedy of the Coen Brothers/Danny Boyle/David Fincher variety isn’t your thing, you should steer well clear of “Headhunters”.  Roger goes to very some dark places to save his hide during the course of this story and Nesbo’s story does a brilliant job of putting his not entirely sympathetic protagonist under pressure and then slowly applying more to see how far he’ll be prepared to go before he shatters.

Fresh milk and firearms – what every kitchen needs…

The very best thing about “Headhunters” is that it manages to depict relatively amoral characters and bone-crunching violence without ever lapsing into fashionable nihilism for nihilism’s sake – it’s a thriller made by and for adults, with none of the bogus outlaw posing and celebration of thuggery that lesser films might well wear as a badge of honour.

One of these guys doesn’t meet a happy end. I’ll let you guess which one.

When I say amoral, I really do mean it – the inevitable American remake will probably have serious issues in going to the dark territory that this film inhabits as major studio squeamishness won’t deal with some of the more wince-making scenes and ideas which are second nature to non-Hollywood fare.  The ending, for example, is not one which punishes the unjust and rewards the stout of heart for their good deeds.   Our anti-hero is essentially a sociopath whose singular distinction from the antagonist of the film, Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is that he’s doing terrible things to survive and not because he enjoys doing them.

We do, in essence, have a story where the nominal hero and villain are studies in duality – but the film doesn’t harp on about that in an effort to gain credibility from cinephiles or appear more psychologically complex than the average thriller.  The amoral aspects of the story are just there as a part of its creative DNA, as natural as the Norwegian setting or baffling preponderance of Nokia mobile phones in an iPhone and Samsung handset universe.

To sum up – a cracking thriller with gruesome moments, a superb cast, relatively unusual settings, intriguing reversals and plot development which is genuinely satisfying and a fine slice of Autumnal entertainment.  If I gave films star ratings, this would be a five-star job.

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Alas, Poor Poddy

Poddy – you served me well…

If you’ve ever owned an iPod whose internal hard drive began to make the dreaded clicking chime of doom, you’ll know just how I feel right now – yep, my beloved 80gb MP3 player has gone to the great gadget graveyard in the sky.

Getting over the undeniable fact that this is a first world problem, and that there’s a lot of people dealing with a lot more on a daily basis than merely the end of a beloved leisure product, I don’t feel embarrassed to confess that I felt absolutely sick as Poddy gasped and clicked his last.  Anybody who has had this kind of device fail befall them will no doubt attest that the feeling is rather akin to that clearly evident on the face of Wile E. Coyote in the RoadRunner cartoons, as he looked directly into the camera seconds before plunging towards the canyon floor.

Did I back up my music?  Is it all there? What about the podcasts?  A range of questions begin to present themselves, not the least of which is   “Do I want to keep going down the Apple route or should I cut my losses and get a cheaper MP3 player and manage my music the old-school way?”  Because, friends, an 80gb iPod Classic isn’t a cheap thing to buy – and the less said about the hilarious price of a 64gb iPod Touch the better (oh Apple tax, will you ever stop providing me with entertainment?).

Not that moving past Apple is easy, once you take format quirks and the fact that the iPod is now synonymous with MP3 player for many retailers and users – the various flavours of iPod are the only game in town…

 

 

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SongPop – or how I forgot to hate Facebook in the name of play.

Fragile sense of identity, meet your nemesis – Facebook game/mobile app/compulsion du jour, SongPop….

Here’s the thing – I don’t see the point in Facebook.  It is, perhaps, an age thing.  I don’t have hordes of friends that I have to keep up with at all hours of the day.  Being constantly appraised of my peers’ doings and disasters is not really of that much consequence to me.  I use young Master Zuckerberg‘s social network to primarily snag the odd MP3 or see a film trailer quickly.

When it comes to social networks, I’m the very definition of a cheap date.

To my point, which does exist – SongPop is a Facebook game.  Or deliciously addictive virtual candy – I can’t quite be sure.

Pick a category, guess five songs quickly, win virtual coins.  Repeat until it calls to, unbidden, like some phantom paramour from gothic fiction, at all hours of the day.

It’s a bit addictive – thank the great Flying Spaghetti Monster that I don’t have a Smartphone capable of running the SongPop app – because that would be a very bad thing indeed.

It’s things like SongPop which make me forget that Facebook is massively wrong and a terrible thing – kudos, humble game developers.

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