james debate
james debate

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Well those of you who know me better know I do love a spot of videogaming. Not as much as I used to I must admit; I don't often get the time anymore. Nonetheless It still holds a special place in my heart, especially with some of the classics, and you will still hear me trumpeting the merits of the magnificent wii and 360 (and the failings of the ps3).

The other day I was reading about a particular game that I love. A game which, in concept, appears to be any videogame fan's wetdream, the Smash Brothers series. This is a series which so far has had 2 games, designed to celebrate all of Nintendo's history and goodness. This includes characters and levels from all of the main franchises owned by Nintendo as well as many eastereggs and nods to the more obscure ones, and it's all jolly good fun. Anyway it has inspired me to do this, ranking the Top 10 Videogame Characters of All Time.

10. Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark Series)

It is with some trepidation that I include Agent Dark on this list, as she is essentially two different characters. There is the Jo we know from her Nintendo days, when she was an ultra cool, British, james bond-esque super spy who came off credibly, and then there is her new Microsoft guise, in which she has become American (typical), rather more cartoony and cliché. However I include her based on the merit of her first game for the old N64, which was classic, epic, atmospheric, mature and much darker than what we expect on a Nintendo machine. Think bladerunner mixed with james bond and that's what it's like.

Best Game: Perfect Dark (N64)
Memorable moment: Infiltrating Area 51

9. Yoshi (Mario Bros Series)

I used to love dinosaurs as a kid. I like this one too. Who could blame me. Started off as a side character and proved so cool that he had to get his own games, and is now a necessary addition to any game featuring Nintendo's mascots, quite often appears as an easteregg in other franchise games, such as in Zelda. He's also my mario karter of choice.

Best Game: Smash Bros Melee (GC)
Memorable moment: Being ridden by Mario for the first time (snigger)

8. Bomberman (Bomberman Series)

Ah Bomberman. Now those were pretty classic games. I have pretty good memories of multiplayer mayheem with the old megadrive versions, and even the less popular 3d ones on the n64 which i quite liked. That's not even mentioning the contribution bomberman made to handheld gaming. With the launch of the gameboy advance handheld gaming first started to really hit the mainstream, and along with mario, bomberman was THE must have title. Its simple pick up and play gameplay was perfect for a handheld, and it took advantage of the multiplayer features to provide some of the best fun you could have with multiplayer games.
Best Game: Bomberman Advance (GBA)
Memorable moment: BOOOOM

7. Fox Mcloud (Star Fox Series)

Another classic Nintendo franchise, this game was cheesy, a complete star wars rip off (right down to fox's voice even sounding a bit like luke) but god was it fun, and the fact that it was one of the first games to include a branching structure, where you could take multiple paths to the end, and really make the most of it, made him an even bigger joy to play. He's also one of my mains in smash bros

Best Game: Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars (N64)
Memorable moment: Being rescued by his 'dead' father 

6. Gordon Freeman (Half Life Series)

He brought a new type of hero to the world. Rather than making games with either a cartoon character or a big muscley 'arnie' figure as the protagonist, Half Life gave power to the geeks, picking a bespectacled, mute, scientist to become the one man army at our desposal. The games in this series are about as close to gaming perfection as one gets, and he is all the more memorable for being a total badass.

Best Game: Half Life2 (PC)
Memorable moment: Picking up that iconic crowbar

5. Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem series)

I couldn't really resist having him here, just because he's so funny. The true anti-freeman, this guy is basically a blonde arnie, saving the Earth the only way he knows how, with cigars, oneliners, and his boot up their ass.

Best Game: Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
Memorable moment: "It's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I'm all outta gum..."

4. Bob (Bubble Bobble Series)

Right now I have a lot of confused readers at who the heck this is. This one's a throw back to the really really really old days, this game, Bubble Bobble, was released for the original nintendo system in the same year I was born, and It was a real classic, with pure and simple addictive gameplay and cute colorful (if basic) graphics and annoyingly catchy music. However it is this dino, Bob, the blue one, who really makes the game. This is the character that a second player can control, and it is in multiplayer that this game really excels. Even today this is amazingly good fun for two people. It's just been released on the wii virtual console, so if you have a wii, go download it, thank me later.
Best Game: Bubble Bobble (NES)
Memorable moment: (hums bubble bobble music)

3. Mario (Mario Bros Series)

The so called 'Mickey Mouse' of gaming in the early 90s, if journalists are to be believed, which of course they are not. In fact as I recall, when I was young very few people had mario or nintendo, it was all about sonic and sega, but journos seem keen to pretend this wasn't the case for some reason. Never the less, he is still a classic gaming icon and appears in some of the tip top games. Right now he certainly does live up to the mickey mouse billing, as a symbol of nintendo's current dominance over all things videogame related.

Best Game: Mario 64 (N64)
Memorable moment: Its-a-me, Mario, now come play with my face

2. Link (Legend of Zelda Series)

Just one of those things that people who grew up playing it will never be able to forget. This was one of the darker and more mature games from Nintendo, pure fantasy, without the geeky over the top crap you see in something like lord of the rings. It was one of the first games to really immerse players, to be able to touch them and make them feel for the characters. They were also bloody huge games. It's no wonder that every single zelda game scores more than 95/100 in every review, no coincidence that when they are released they sit at the top of the gaming charts for months, and all the while you control this man, another mute character. Zelda was designed to recreate the feeling its creator had as a child exploring dark caves, and in that spirit the protagonist is moulded.

Best Game: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)
Memorable moment: Saying goodbye to Saria, that was the moment I knew this wasn't going to be just like any other game

1. Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog Series)

Here's what it's all about really. This is the guy kids grew up playing as. Great early games focused on speed and (at the time) funk graphics, one can only shake one's head in disappointment to see how he has fallen in recent times, and how kids these days won't recognize him as the icon he is.

Best Game: Sonic CD (Mega CD)
Memorable moment: Racing Metal Sonic and getting the girl

This is something that pissed me off when i first got the iPhone. Normally on a computer you can just tell the internet to use a specific authentication to access the internet, but on the iPhone you normally wait until it asks you for it, however when attempting to use the Imperial wireless, it does not do this.

Instead what you must do it set u a VPN (virtual private network) connection, and don't worry that's not as big an effort as it sounds. Go to Settings>General>Network on your iphone, and first of all make sure you're getting your wireless signal, which at Imperial will be ICWLAN. Then go to VPN, and select PPTP at the top of the page. Then enter the following information:

Server: vpn.ic.ac.uk
account : (Your Imperial Username here)
RSA SecurID: off
Password: (Your Imperial Password here)
Encryption Level: None
Send all Traffic: On
Proxy: Off

Then click 'save' at the top of the screen. Then simply click 'on' for VPN, either on the VPN screen, or on the general settings screen, wait for it to connect (make sure you're connected to ICWLAN) and voila, it should work, as if by magic.

NB: if you are using an iPod touch, you have to update to the most recent software (which costs extra money for some reason) in order to use VPN

song of the day: "Feels So Good" by "Chuck Mangione" - I defy you to listen to this classic and not feel happy.
pic of the day:

SAG Strike

Shows which aren't on now
WGA Strike

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Well this is going to be a big one I can see. Its a fair bit into the new year now and I haven't posted since Christmas. Been very busy recently with various endeavours, both social and work related. In particular the massive Spy Party which was fairly awesome, perhaps not quite as enjoyable as the first one, but the party itself was way cooler, engineered to perfection by myself.

On top of this my already great contribution to the world of medicine has been recognized (see current events) yep thats right... I (by which i mean our team) came up with a way to improve parking :P where's the Nobel prize for that eh?

Now apart from this party being quite insanely awesome (pictures on facebook already), something fairly interesting happened, someone came up to me and told me they loved reading my blog and found it a very amusing read, particularly in the old days when carol was being... weird. I thought this was very funny, and so it inspired me for this first post of the year.

So get ready for the inevitable, big, bad Debs Dishes the Dirt edition of the Ephemeric.

That doesn't mean i'm going to go giving away people's secrets, that'd be hardly befitting such a reputable journal of opinion. In retrospect I could be far meaner, I mean, people in denial, people who don't know how to handle messed up relationships, social phobias... even without mentioning any names I've got the goods, and it's all a very interesting spectacle of people in general for anyone interested in psychology such as myself. But I won't do that because it leaves a sour taste in my mouth to betray confidence, even with people who deserve it, even with people for whom it might actually do them some good to hear it all laid down straight. 

Instead, I present to all of you Debs's inimitable views on the world and life in general in the past year, including the first edition of the 'Debbies', my brand new award for excellence that i made up 20 seconds ago, as well as making insights into what is exciting in the year ahead.

1. The 'Dogma' Debbie for 'Best Evil Corporation 2007'

Nominees: Apple, Nintendo, Samsung, Chelski

and the Winner: Nintendo! 
Clearly a very hard contest in a year where Apple has released such earth shatteringly cool products such as the intel macbooks and macpros, and of course the iPhone. But Nintendo just edges it, not only because of the greatness of the wii and DS and all associated products, wii channels and awesomeness, but also because of the highly unexpected, but nonetheless incredible feat of completely blowing away all forms of competition in the past year. PS3 is circling the drain, and the impressive 360 has to settle for second place, despite the massive advertising budget and 2 year headstart it had on the wii.

2. The 'Pinocchios Nose' Debbie for 'People never to trust, 2007 and beyond'

Nominees: Carol Doan, The Entire British Sports Media, the George Bush Jr. Administration

and the Winner: The Entire British Sports Media!
Christ that was a tough one, all of the above would be worthy winners for sure, but the sports media gets it for complete and unparalleled bullshittery. Aside from the obvious rumours that get completely made up from scratch every day, only this press could make José Mourinho a villain one day, and a hero the next (and vice versa in previous years), only this press can praise crappy 1-0 victories from Man U (and yes surprisingly often Arsenal) for their 'attacking verve' and then decry a 3-0 Chelsea romp as 'rather fortunate and scrappy'. I'm sure there are many who would love to join me in raising a big middle finger to them all.

3. The 'Zola' Debbie for 'Good Guy 2007'

Nominees: Ben Fitzgerald, Michael Ballack, That guy who ships wine to me from Italy, Barack Obama

and the Winner: Ben Fitzgerald!
And the award for biggest sack of cra.. no wait, good guy, goes to the most docile creature I know, one of the few guys i know with nary a mean bone in his body, just a lot of awful opinions (an arsenal supporting republican)

4. The 'Hopeless slackass' Debbie for 'Most awful opinions 2007'

Winner: Ben Fitzgerald!

5. The 'Girly Butterfly' Debbie for 'Good Girl 2007'

Nominees: Ben Fitzgerald ;), that girl from Little Miss Sunshine which was a sweet movie, Anju Phoolchund, mom, Louise Newlands

and the Winner: Anju!
Anju has been a real star in the latter half of this year for so many reasons, especially when you consider the circumstances under which we met. I'm so glad she was there for me, and I'm so glad i could be there for her when she needed me. I hope she doesnt fade away in the coming year, which i fear she may well be :S (she now assures me she's not- yay!)

6. The 'Garden State' Debbie for 'Excellence in Cinema 2007'

Nominees: Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Superbad, Paprika, The Simpsons Movie, Sunshine, Casino Royale

and the Winner: Casino Royale!
Ok before i get crucified or lambasted for lack of taste allow me to clarify my decision. In a year full of very good movies and very fun movies, as well as many bitter disappointments (shrek 3, rush hour 3, evan almighty) I can always talk about the good pieces of cinema, atonement and diving bell and the butterfly being probably the most impressive, followed closely by paprika, but when i think back on it in retrospect, atonement is really just oscar pandering, and which of these films in a few years time will i really want to watch over again, and point to as a prime example of the genre? Superbad, for being the most fantastically realistic and unstereotyped teen comedy ever, and Casino Royale, for completely revolutionizing James Bond, and turning the franchise from a light hearted 'boys toys' movie to something with a soul, that really hits home. I think you've forgotten just how good it is, go watch it now.

7. The 'damn thats a fine choon' Debbie for 'Best Song 2007'

Nominees: Alive - VHS or beta, Lost - the Mary Onettes, On a Saturday - Jacob Golden, I'm Not Sorry - Pigeon Detectives, Eyes - Rogue Wave, Anthems for a 17 year old girl - Broken Social Scene, Window Bird - Stars, Stolen - Dashboard Confessional, You're Not Alone - The Enemy

and the Winner: Eyes - Rogue Wave!
Fuck me what an idiotic thing for me to have attempted to do, that is a massive list of amazing songs and i've left plenty off that could have made it on there too, what an effort. In the end I had to award it to this song that stayed on my 'current' playlist for and impressive 10 or so months of the year, and a song that pretty much got an entire planet hooked into watching heroes, not a single person who watches heroes fails to pick out this song as the point that got them.

and finally 8. The 'Arrested Development' Debbie for 'Best television series 2007'

Nominees: Lost, Heroes, Life on Mars, Scrubs, House, Pushing Daisies

and the Winner: Life on Mars!
First of all let me clarify that this award refers to television shows for which brand new content was broadcast in 2007, otherwise Arrested Development would win every year. In the end it came down to Scrubs's diminishing quality, and the writer's strike cutting Pushing Daisies so short to award the victory to Life on Mars, a show which has pretty much everything, good acting, direction, soundtrack and writing. Truly a masterpiece, and one that has earned a new spinoff and an American version.

And some things to look forward to in the coming year:

- Ashes to Ashes, the Spin off show for the Debbie winning 'Life on Mars' now switches focus to the 80s and has a kick ass song to match the namesake of its parent show. If it's as well written and brilliant as the aforementioned parent, expect to see this on the Debbie nominees next year.

- Cloverfield, It's not hard to see why it's the most talked about movie in the past 20 years; the mysterious way in which it was unveiled, the drip-feed of information until release, and the fact that it's made my Lost and Mission Impossible 3 visionary JJ Abrams. Like the Blair Witch project, only good, expect big things from this. Abrams is also making the new Star Trek movie, attempting a reboot in the same vein as Casino Royale and Batman Begins. They were both awesome so good luck to him here. Simon Pegg is in the cast, as is Sylar from Heroes.

- The End of the Writer's Strike! And finally getting new written television, scrubs needs an ending, Pushing Daisies needs to come back, Lost needs to go on!

- The End of Bush's time in the White house, 8 years after he was(n't) elected into office, i think we can all safely say, about damn time.

- New Music, Some good stuff coming up, my tips to be big in the coming year include 'Duffy' (go check out her single 'Rockferry' - the new Dusty Springfield) 'MGMT', an electro-rock group from new york with fantastic harmonies and meaningful lyrics to young adults everywhere (see 'Time to pretend') and 'Glasvegas' who are the next Oasis.

I recently cast my eyes on this article, detailing how four very bright young (and sexy) medical students won an experimental 'NHS Innovation' Prize. Truly worth a read, this impressive feat is mentioned not only in this article but also in a few papers on the ashford and st peters website as well.

In short, these are very bright prospects in the world of Medicine. The article is here: http://www.ashfordstpeters.nhs.uk/intranet/Ashford---/News-and-C/Aspire-Bul/14-01-08-ASPire-Bulletin-186.pdf

and for those of you who couldnt care less about the NHS i post this picture of the prize winners, particularly the guy in the green cashmere sweater. now thats a doctor. youd love his opthalmoscope inside you.

song of the day: "Time to Pretend" by "MGMT"
pic of the day:

Being in Medical Journals
the Spy Party

Being in real newspapers
All other parties past present and future, til the next one i throw

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