Masculine "Chi"

While Phil Fogg is taking a break from posting quality, original content, I thought I'd post some second-hand bullshit in his absence.

I wrote this blog lamenting the present state of the internet. It features a Trump gif, and in the last comment I conclude that I am probably to blame, and not the internet. Nevertheless, it may be worth reading.

I also wrote a post in this thread about violence in videogames. I didn't like it much, and almost deleted it, but Phil liked it, so you may like it also. His taste usually aligns with more people than mine does.

But to prove this isn't just about cross promotion with our good friends at www.thevgpress.com, you can find something else to read at a much more reputable site below:

Specifically, this article on the internet's latest white saviour, Jordan (B.) Peterson, which made me laugh.

Not only does he look this good, but he also promotes Muscular Christianity! ;) <3

Not only does he look this good, but he also promotes Muscular Christianity! ;) <3

I first encountered the good-God doctor of the internet when he was wandering around university campuses, displaying his superior intellect by arguing with groups of twenty-year-old toddlers (he’s now arguing with thirty-year-old toddlers on television; he’s come a long way). Elsewhere on his YouTube channel (which was already making thousands of dollars via Patreon), he spoke of the psychological similarity between the extreme right and left, his love for Nietzsche and Christianity, and had the decency as an unqualified literary theorist to take Pinocchio seriously; just as Nietzsche had had the decency to take Christianity seriously. (Actually, that makes them, respectively, better literary theorists and theologians than most people qualified in those areas.)

Then his day job came under threat, and very quickly he started spouting furiously about "cultural marxism" and "postmodernism" (the existence of which is, ironically, a postmodern myth), and began to speak (as a clinical psychologist, not an economic expertof the evils of the EU and its cultural marxism, displaying his utter lack of imagination and, therefore, his inability to accurately describe the modern world where archaic language is proving increasingly inadequate. The cherry on top of this cake of corruption was the promotion of his self-help system; it had even been positively reviewed by peer-approved studies!!!

In spite of all this, I can't help but like him. He is a man who earnestly claims to have dedicated his career to teaching his students how to fight "ideological possession", and is now doing his very best not to save the souls of silly Scandinavian supremacists, but to make as much money off them by taking advantage of their ideological possession as possible.*

…But my favourite contemporary (or recent) political figures include the likes of Alberto Fujimori, an eccentric Japanese man whose idea of a holiday is becoming the president of Peru and conducting a brutal campaign against “terrorism”, then returning home when the natives (sterilised and massacred, but not pacified) realise he’s a bit of a shit; and Radovan Karadzic, the poet king of Republica Srbska whose prophetic poems predicted the outbreak of the Bosnian war. An achievement no less impressive just because he himself was a principle figure in instigating it.

What can I say? The best characters are always villains. That’s why everyone loves Batman, right?

*But he probably is helping a lot of disillusioned people. The world is more complicated than that article I linked to would have you believe.

Hyperkin Smartboy

With Nintendo having released their mini-versions of the NES and SNES, there has been some discussion as to the value of releasing an original Gameboy shell with popular games pre-loaded.  Most of those rumours have been dismissed because it would involve Nintendo having to, not only come up with an even more miniture chipset, but also a display pushing it out of that "impulse buy" pricepoint.

I was thus interested to see Hyperkin's angle, with their Smartboy.

This photo is from Hyperkin's site.

This photo is from Hyperkin's site.

At first appearance the Smartboy looks like an amazing merger of the classic original Gameboy casing and a sleek modern touch device. And that's because it is, unfortunately. The Smartboy requires an Android phone with a USB-C port (for best results they recommend using a Samsung Galaxy S8). The device works by sliding in a phone, and inserting an original game cart, which when combined with the installed application, downloads a dump of the ROM,  enabling you to legally play Gameboy and Gameboy Color games through an emulator.

Essentially, this is a $49 USD emulator for Android with a plastic accessory - albeit it a very nice one.

The data is deleted once you remove the cartridge, thus skirting piracy and infringement laws.

Phone slots in the front, cart slots inthe back.

Phone slots in the front, cart slots inthe back.

Even with the rather significant handicap of having to use a specific phone, and having that phone connected to the internet, it is a noble effort and appears to be well designed. The device obviously also provides for a much larger and clearer display than the original Gameboy.

- Phil Fogg

Cathode Ray Tube

I've been searching for a cathode ray tube television for some time, with the belief that the older consoles in my collection were just not being properly represented on more modern sets.  By happenstance, I was reunited with a National TR602A "Delux" 12 inch television set from my childhood.

It was on the way to the municipal dump and had been left out in the rain for three days, so my hopes of getting it up and running were pretty low but, after taking some safety precautions, the almost forty year old set came to life.

Ms. Pacman in fifty shades of grey (be sure to switch your Atari 2600 into B&W mode).

Ms. Pacman in fifty shades of grey (be sure to switch your Atari 2600 into B&W mode).

After a couple of hours of searching through cables, and my extra Atari 2600's I had River Raid up and running and looking better than it had in some decades.  Although the television is limited to being black and white, the crispness of the pixels is immediatley impressive. The curvature of the screen, convex rather than the concave options available in the 21st century, also adds a long forgotten quirk of technology, much more obvious in a vertically scrolling game than say, watching the cricket.

It has been difficult to pin down the exact year of manufacture, but this "all transistor" model (charming) was made by Matshushita in Osaka around 1980.

It is made of modern plastics, with the white casing holding up extremely well -- this model was also available in red. In terms of inputs the set is limited to screw terminals on the back of the set (you can daisy chain more modern inputs from the screw terminals, but there is a loss of quality for every adaptor you add).  While I was able to get a NES, NES, SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive and an Atari 2600 hooked up simultaneously, the video degradation was not worth the novelty, so I ultimately kept just the Atari 2600 attached.

The Atari 2600 section is now as it should be, with a television from the same era.

The Atari 2600 section is now as it should be, with a television from the same era.

Other features include an earphones port (mono only) as well as brightness and contrast controls on the front with vertical and horizontal hold on the back.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your views), due to our regulators removing free over the air television programming the receiver now only picks up FM radio stations.

As of today I was able to find a single set, slightly newer than mine, on E-Bay for $130 AUD, but given the perils of shipping and handling, I've found that for vintage electronics it is best to source locally.

I throughly enjoyed setting up the Atari 2600 in it's own area of the collection, and even if I did come across a colour set, I'd be hesitant to "upgrade" given the moderne stylings of the National Deluxe.

- Phil Fogg

 

Advisory: If considering working on a CRT yourself please remember that according to ifixit.com "A CRT can hold several thousand volts of electricity in its flyback circuitry. If you do not have the necessary experience and tools to properly discharge and make safe a CRT, you should not even take the plastic cover off. There is also the chance of physically damaging the fragile neck of the CRT, leading to a violent implosion as the vacuum is released. This could spray poisonous, phosphor-covered shards of glass all over the room." 

Cat Person and Cibele

Recently, a short story published in the New Yorker caused a lot of people on twitter to say some things (in 140 characters or less), and a lot of journalists to say some things (in 1,400 words or more) about the people on twitter saying things (in 140 characters or less). The most notable thing about the short story itself, is its description of romantic texting as being "like dancing"; this sort of language in describing the act of texting instead of some shitty typographical gimmick to depict texting itself, is probably why so many people found it to be such a revelatory description of their own experiences of awkward sexual encounters.

The titular Cat Person from the short story in mentioned above.

The titular Cat Person from the short story in mentioned above.

Not at all recently, I wrote some bullshit about Cibele; a game which deals, sort of, with similar themes. I wrote about it, unlike most people on twitter, not because it recounted in ways I could not some awkward sexual experience I had had (nor because it reinforced my belief that awkward sexual experiences were the sole domain of my own sex, due to only having friends of my own sex, and being utterly incapable of empathising with people of the opposite sex), but because it managed to describe the way people now interact using technology without the videogame equivalent of a typographical gimmick*; something literature, and most other mediums, were incapable of doing (until now, apparently). 

Now that my bullshit is out of date, I thought it would be a good time to publish it.

If you want, you can read it here.

You can also read Phil's review of the same game here.

Be sure to tell us who succeeded in writing the "plainer" review.

*If you think the structure of cibele is equivalent to a typographical gimmick, you're wrong. It's entirely prosaic, because it represents such things literally, in a medium where representing them literally does not contradict the other aesthetic principles of the work.

Game Under Podcast Episode 101.5

After our first official "Lost Episode", our show 102, Tom and Phil drown their sorrows by taking on a completely non-gaming related topic, that of Shakespeare, and his place in literature. (Click Here for Episode 101.5)

A scene from Shakepeare's most recent game, King Lear.

A scene from Shakepeare's most recent game, King Lear.

No, seriously, there is not a smidgin of gaming discussion in this episode (well, there is some Kojima talk), we made sure to edit it all out (thus the diminutive ".5" added to the show title. But if you have any interest in Shakespeare (and if you read english, you should) please listen in to this short show before we recreate podcast magic in Episode 102.

If you are interested in this type of content you may also want to read Tom's article covering English Renaissance Plays on Youtube.

- Phil Fogg.

Carol Shaw

It was great to see Carol Shaw recognized for her lifetime achievements at the Game Awards last week.

I've admired Carol Shaw from before I was ten years old, as her visage and name was prominently promoted in the colateral materials for the Activision game River Raid, which I consider to be the best game for the Atari 2600 and is enjoyable today as it was when I first played it in the 80's.

Some of my River Raid stuff. Commodore 64, Atari 2600 cart and the Atari 5200 box (still in original shrinkwrap. I have a couple of manuals for the game as well.

Some of my River Raid stuff. Commodore 64, Atari 2600 cart and the Atari 5200 box (still in original shrinkwrap. I have a couple of manuals for the game as well.

Game Under Podcast Episode 101

Gagandeep Singh of the Endless Backlog Podcast joins Tom Towers in Smugcast 2, to discuss the Wonderful 101 (get it?), Horizon Zero Dawn, Super Mario Oddessy, Killzone Vs. Halo, GTA III through V, Platinum Games Studio and much more.

However, just in time for the announcement of Bayonetta 3, they debate which is better, Bayonetta or Bayonetta 2; and whether Gagan and his bros simply suck at Metro and Killzone.
Listen Here.

One's Gagan, one's Tom

Game Under Podcast Episode 99

Tom and Phil return to discuss Cloverfield and its political subtext, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (probably some other games, too; we can't remember), and why videogames are not art. With actual reasons. Roger Ebert wishes he was on this level.

Oh, as well as little bit about Godzilla, Cloverfield and their political subtexts. 

Ecstasy_of_Saint_Teresa_September_2015-2a.jpg

Game Under Podcast Episode 98

In Episode 98 of the Game Under Podcast, Tom Towers and Phil Fogg return remastered in HD to give their final impressions of a long list of games, discuss the Cold War and make sense of Pseudo-Academic New Commercial Post-Textual Video Game Criticism. Or, as it is known to the layman, YouTube video "essays" and reviews.

Here's a bunch of games: The Cat Lady, Mafia III, Splatoon 2, Year Walk, Uncharted: Lost Legacy, SNES Mini, Yoshi's Story, Titanfall II, Yakuza 0, Transformers Destruction.