Monday, 29 October 2007

Happy Halloween 2007!




These are a couple of Halloween desktop wallpapers for this year's Halloween on the 31st of October. I've always had a thing where I create a cool wallpaper for any special day like Christmas or Valentine's Day. These are actually the first Halloween wallpapers I've ever created, and I got a bit of help from my Japanese friends at ENA to translate the names of the characters!


The first one has a traditional style to it. You've got a Witch, an Egyptian Mummy Girl, and a Female Were-Wolf (very sexy!). The second one is the Japan-centric version. I decided to go with a fan favorite, the Nekogal (Cat girl), as well as a Devil Girl. The other character may not be a monster, but more of a monster-hunter! She's a Kunoichi, which translates as a Female Ninja. Fans of Soul Calibur will recognise the resemblance!
Stay tuned Roytec fans, there are a lot more seasonal wallpapers planned for the future!

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Eastern Promise (or Mental Oriental!)

In my never ending journey through the mediocrity that is life, there are moments that make putting up with all the bullpoop worth it. Yesterday was one of those days! I have two examples of why the east is still the top dog in terms of quality action!

The first is a new Hong Kong Martial Arts flick called Dragon Tiger Gate. As far as I know, it's based on a Korean Manga comic series (will try to get details later). It stars the enigmatic Donnie Yen as the henchman turned hero Dragon Wong.

As a fan of Martial Arts movies, I am a relative newcomer to the work of Donnie Yen. I've seen him in a couple of films where he stared alongside either Jackie Chan (Shanghi Kights) or Jet Li (Hero), and I also saw him in Seven Swords. From what I'd seen of him in action, I was very impressed! From that point onward, I knew that I wanted to see more of him in action!

Now I want to stress that it was mere coincidence that I got this particular movie. I saw it advertised in the Manga, Anime and Eastern Cinema Magazine called Neo (UK based). All I know, is that it had Donnie Yen on the cover, and it looked VERY cool.

I planned to get it as soon as it came out, but the time the release date came around, the DVD was nowhere to be seen at my local HMV. I realised I would probably have to go all the way into Central London and brave many a bemused sales assistant just to get hold of a copy. The other option I had (which I have frequently found myself resorting to) is ordering it on Ebay from a UK based seller for cheaper than retail (HA! Take that rip-off Britain!).

I was planning to watch it with my Mum and bro on the weekend, but impatience got the better of me and I decided to watch it yesterday (24th Oct). There was always a chance that the movie wouldn't have been very good, but fortunately for me it WAS!! The three main characters kicked ass, the villain kicked ass, the special effects kicked ass, pretty much everything kicked ass! (Did I say "ass" a little too much?)

It's probably unlikely, but if they make a sequel, I will totally buy it, and I suggest any Martial Arts fans to watch the current one as well!





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The second is the latest in the long line of Mobile Suit Gundam spin-offs. The show's called Gundam 00 (that's pronounced double O), and it's only just started in Japan.

I must admit when I first watched this show's predecessor, Gundam Seed, I was slightly underwhelmed. It just didn't have the same kind of presence as, say Gundam Wing or Stardust Memory. To it's credit, it got a lot better as it got further into the story, and the sequel that followed it, Gundam Seed Destiny enhanced the story and characters further. I just couldn't help but feel like they were pandering to the young, teen angst crap that a lot of shows seem to focus on these days (probably the reason I didn't like Final Fantasy 8 that much, but that's a different story for another time!)

Anyway, back to Double O. As I said before, this show has only just started in Japan, and so far there are only 3 episodes available (just go to veoh.com and search for Gundam 00). My brother is a big Gundam fan, so I knew I had to grab these episodes for him as well as myself! Because they're straight outta Japan, they're currently only available with English subtitles, which is not a problem for me because I'm trying to learn Japanese myself, and it's just good practice to constantly listen to a language you're trying to learn!

So far, I've seen 4 episodes, and I have to say I'm impressed. VERY impressed! I believe that the person that designed the Gundam suits for Double O is the same guy that designed the suits for the Gundam SEED spinoff, Astray. As a result, the suits have a very fresh and original style to them.

The action scenes are the best I've seen to date, with an almost movie-like quality (very high frame-rate). The suits all fall into the standard categories, but each one has been done very well. The characters are a little hard to read at the moment, but at least they're not whiny teenagers like in Gundam SEED (which is always good)!

The story is routed a little closer to reality this time, being based as an extension of our timeline (Anno Domini - A.D.). As a result, there is a lot of political intrigue tied into the actions of the Gundam pilots this time. This isn't one of your "Good guys vs Bad guys" kinda shows. If you like your plots easy to understand, look elsewhere!

Even though I've only seen 4 episodes so far, I'm willing to give it a preliminary rating, that I can use as a benchmark of comparison after I've seen more of the series. That rating is 8.5/10 (pretty generous, eh?)

Only time will tell if this series will develop the potential it has clearly shown so far!


Monday, 15 October 2007

Whatever it takes to save the one you love!

It's been a hell of a ride, and I have every intention of making sure this ride goes on for as long as possible! What da heck I'm I talking about? I'm talking about my beloved, my one and only....Playstation 2!

I've had my PS2 for nearly 4 years now. It's one of the older, fatter versions (not the infinitely more sexy slimline versions). I bought it second hand because I had a clever plan of getting it chipped/modified, so that I could play American and Japanese PS2 games (for more details, refer to my previous post about NTSC vs PAL).

It was an all or nothing gambit, which more or less paid of handsomely, allowing me the freedom to choose whatever game I wanted, from where ever I wanted, AND to be able to get games that I would normally have to wait months to be able to play in the UK!

Unfortunately, there is ONE game that has foiled this perfect arrangement. The name of this game is Rogue Galaxy.

This game is created by Level 5, the developers that created the critically acclaimed Dragon Quest 8 (which I loved!). Sufficed to say, when I heard about this game, I knew I wanted to get the American version as soon as possible! My good friends at Ebay were more than happy to oblige, and I was able to get a brand new copy almost immediately after it's official release! Then the trouble started. -_-;

At first, the problems were slight, like the game freezing during the combat scenes or imediately after a cutscene. Over time these problems escalated into utter disaster, leaving me with a game that at best would crash after 10 minutes, or at worse woudn't even load up.

Now it has to be noted that there are a lot of factors that have contributed to my inability to play this game like any other game that I currently own. Virtually every game I have ever bought has worked on my PS2, baring the occasional loading error. I have never had an experience where a game just outright refused to load, even though there is no logical reason for it not doing so. Quite frankly, it pisses me off! >_<

As a result, I have decided to take the quite drastic measure of getting my PS2 serviced at a game shop in central London. In all honesty, this was a good idea in itself, because my machine probably has more dust in it than a haunted house. A good clear-out of the gubbins inside can only be a good thing, and I would wholeheartedly recommend any console user who cares for their machine to get it serviced once in a while. It's just common sense.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this servicing will fix the problem, mainly because of the age of my PS2. It may even come to a point where I have to pay to get the laser replaced. But you know something? This machine, which I have invested so much time and effort into is so important to me, I was willing to take the chance. You could almost say it's like a girlfriend or beloved pet or something, which in itself is a pretty pathetic thing to say. What can I say? I love my PS2 so much, I'm willing to compare it to a girlfriend or a beloved pet! ^_^ (I really need to get out more!)

Only time will tell whether this gambit will pay off, but I sincerely hope it does! Right now, I really can't afford to lose this machine, mainly because the Playstation 3 is barely even a viable replacement, and there are still plenty of decent PS2 games out there to play (ever heard of Valkyrie Profile Silmeria?). Right now I'm a content Playstation 2 gamer, and I intent for it to stay like that for a good while longer!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Yo buddy, you still alive?

Stories of my demise have been greatly exaggerated! (If there are any!) Even though I've been sick as a dog, I've still been managing to drag my sorry carcass into work each morning. I still got a cough, but at least it's not impeding my work as much as it was before, although if there was some lucky type of wood laying around, you can be damn sure I'd touch it!

I've had to put up with a lot of crap at work recently. A ton of work colleagues are all being bundled into the room I'm currently situated in, and my desk has been moved, again. I now have the pleasure of staring at the face of my line manager 5 days a week, and listening to conversations about which football team is going to get their asses kicked EVERY weekend. Nice. ¬_¬

I sense the next couple of weeks are going to be QUITE interesting!