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| | Gaming, SPOILERS | 0 comments
13 April
Apr 13
13th April 2018

  Or 'Why Can't I Write This Good?   For many, the Life is Strange series has come to an end. the original game by Dontnod had 5 episodes and it's sequel set before the first game by DeckNine had only 3, just as fantastic episodes. As a die-hard fan of the series, like many, I paid for the Special Edition of Before the storm. Nothing crazy came with it, mostly novelty stuff like outfits for Chloe, a Mixtape mode for those who can't get enough of the soundtrack and a Bonus Episode, which was said to release after the main 3 episodes. I didn't hold up much hope for the Bonus episode. I was pretty excited to play as Max Caufield again but the fact that this was a 'Bonus' episode gave me the impression it wasn't going to be anything groundbreaking. Maybe something purely sentimental at most, playing as the younger, more pirate-loving versions of the games two main characters before the chaos of the main story. Whether the intention of DECKNINE was to mislead fans into thinking they were playing an episode of any less quality than their other ones, or the company simply cannot make an episode that doesn't have me bawling my eyes out, I don't know. But I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. Despite knowing that it's extremely unlikely that anything too stressful is going to happen in this episode -If you've played the other two games, you're well aware that the most stressful parts are way behind you (or in front of you) at this point in the story.- I still felt a slight sense of dread exploring Chloe's attic. Praying I didn't find a body in the ice cream cooler or a secret photography dark room. As you procrastinate from tidying Chloe's bedroom by going on one last pirate adventure, it's easy not to even wonder about what day in Chloe's crazy, trauma-filled life this could be. Chloe's mum returns home to the sound of Ben Howard, an artist I've grown to become sick of hearing yet I can't imagine a better song choice for the scene. I'm suddenly aware that I have already experienced this incredibly sad scene. An event that is brought up constantly throughout both games. Yet here I am, telling my wife again "No. I'm not crying, you're crying. Shut up!" This was meant to be a bonus episode. It was not meant to tear my heart out again. So as I watch Chloe lay on the floor, clutching the tape recorder that plays the last of her best friend's voice that she will hear for a while, It dawns on me as a writer and author of fiction, that I will never write anything this good. I've only just discovered since writing this article that DONTNOD have confirmed Life is Strange 2. Bring it. My tear ducts are ready....

| | Gaming, Tutorials | 0 comments
3 April
Apr 3
3rd April 2018

There's nothing worse than digging out your old Pokemon games and finding that one save file- the one you invested hours of 8-bit-blood, sweat and tears into- to find that it has vanished into the digital ether. The save file in these games runs off an old CR032 watch battery. They can last up to a good 20 years but once the battery dies, that's it. The game won't recall your save every time you reboot the game. Sadly, there's no way of retrieving your old saved games, but there is a way of getting the save function to work again! And the best bit about it all is there is no soldering required, unlike a lot of other retro console and game fixes. The tools you need are all widely available and super cheap on Amazon and eBay. So, here's what you'll need: Electric Tape Flat-head screwdriver (or some form of small plastic palette you get with cheap phone cleaning sets) 3.8mm/4.5mm hex tool bit (usually come as a set) CR2025 battery- Check the number on the battery when you open up the cartridge. Most likely it will be CR2025, but I've heard CR2032 works fine too and apparently can last longer. And that's it! Please note: Please do this exercise at your own risk! I am not responsible for your game if it gets wrecked during the process. I have however done this process a lot and have never ran into any issues. As long as you're patient, it's very easy. The example I'm using is for Pokemon Silver on the Gameboy. Later games like Ruby and Saphire for Gameboy Advance run off a different, smaller battery for the example I'm doing here. Below, I've made a timelapse of my own process which should help understand the instructions that follow. So first off, unscrew the screw in the back of the Gameboy game cartridge. Put the screw to the side and gently open up the cartridge. The battery is the small round disc in the top right of the board. This part is easy but you need to take your time and be patient with it. Slowly, begin prying apart the metal arm that's soldered to the battery with a flat headed tool. Damaging the old battery obviously isn't a problem.These old games can take a beating but be careful not to damage the arm itself. All you need to do is break the two soldered points that hold the arm to the battery. Once that's done, do the same on the other side. This bit is a little harder as the other silver arm on the bottom side is harder to see, but you just need to hold the battery still with your finger and thumb whilst you keep working it with the flat head until the soldering points break. Chuck away the old battery and then cut a small (about 2 inches) bit of electric tape. Feed it sticky-side up to the base of the board beneath the bottom silver arm. Now put the new battery in-between the two metal arms. flatten them down with the flat-head as much as possible so they're hugging the new battery tightly. Then wrap the electric tape around them all. Fit the cartridge back together and screw back in the screw using the hex tool. And there you go! Now you can relive the glory days of Pokemon knowing you're safe for another 20 years.   Still not working? If your save function still doesn't work, try reopening the cartridge again and flattening down the metal arms to the battery as firmly as possible as it could be they're just not making close enough contact to work. Still not working!? There's a slim chance the old battery might have spent a little too long in the cartridge and leaked, causing damage but it's highly unlikely....

| | General Articles, Technology | 0 comments
31 March
Mar 31
31st March 2018

Last week, I made the decision to delete the social media apps on my phone. I've wanted to for a while. Lots of people are really good at disciplining themselves from their Smartphones- of which are addictive by design. Nowadays. not many people are a stranger to the fact that smartphone and social media usage have had a negative effect on mental health- most commonly depression and anxiety. A lot of users get a hit of dopamine when you receive a new like or follow and a negative withdrawal symptom when they check your phone to find a lack of them. I upgraded to an iPhone earlier this year with the intention of finally having a working phone where I could be more productive with promoting my book. My old Samsung s4 crashed when you so much as looked at it and the photos you took came out practically black unless you were outside in the summer. The iPhone started off well, but what started out as promoting, turned into zombie scrolling and obsessive checking and feed refreshing. Digital PR is a hard slog and you need to keep doing the same thing each day, even when it feels like you're getting nothing in return. On top of that, I'm on the internet all day for work anyway, so the last thing I wanted to do when I came home to my family was to continue this meaningless habit disguised as productivity. I started leaving my phone in a separate room as soon as I got home, which was a start, but no cigar. I needed to do something more drastic without plunging myself back into the dark ages. I've considered going completely phone-less before, but I had a family emergency a couple of months back and although it was extremely brief and solved in (The longest) 10 minutes (of my life), I dread to think what could have happened if I hadn't have had my phone on me. So I deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from my phone, but kept the accounts. It took a couple of glances at my phone for it to sink in that the apps were no longer there but after that, the benefits were obvious almost instantly. It's worth adding that I started keeping my phone in my bag rather than my pocket too. These are a few of the things I noticed: My concentration at work increased Less anxiety I went to bed on time and slept better. wrote and read more actually thought deeper about decisions I had been putting off for a while Enjoyed hobbies with no distractions   All in all, this was great, so far so good. I felt like Paul Miller leaving the internet for the year. I was now some kind of anti-smartphone guru. As the week went by, I continued my usual routine of going to work as well as writing in my spare time. A few blips came up which were kind of weird. I started playing a game I'd long put off- FFVIII. There were some scenes or events in the game that I found amusing and I wanted to take a picture to share this amusement with my friends and followers, but of course, I couldn't. It was weird not being able to share every tiny moment of my life with the world, but I just continued to play the game, distraction-less. The same thing when I took a picture of my new haircut. (Apparently, it's a McDonalds Haircut, but I prefer Cyberpunk Dad.) I allowed myself to go on Facebook as long as it was via a desktop PC and even then it was just to share articles from this site. It was kind of nice having a build up of notifications rather than one every so often as opposed to the opposite. During this time I discovered and used Reddit for the first time. It fulfilled all my old school forum, casual nerding needs over at r/patientgamers. I then started using Twitter again (Desktop only) to share my articles and connect with others also into Video game journalism, or just to talk to folks about gaming in general. I was having these tabs open whilst working or whilst at home in the evening. You can probably see where I'm going with this and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet, but It dawned on me I was going on the same apps I had on my phone, but only wh...

| | Anime Manga, News | 0 comments
27 March
Mar 27
27th March 2018

Almost 20 years later, The third season of FLCL 'Progressive/Alternative' has been announced to air on AdultSwim this September.   via GIPHY  FLCL was probably the one thing I obsessed over the longest. Back in the days when friends from school would burn you CDs of music found on Limewire (not me, of course), Where it was a bit of a gamble on what you were going to get once the files had finally finished downloading. In Limewires renown reputation of inaccuracy, One system of a down mp3 turned out to be a video. This turned out to be my first experience of an AMV: clips from FLCL edited to System of a Down's 'Needles'. I searched every corner of the internet until I found whatever the clips originated from.   Eventually, I found some blurry, terribly dubbed videos of the series. Up until that point, the only anime I had seen were classics: Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Metropolis were the only anime they had rentable at Blockbuster. FLCL was now the craziest, most Japanese thing I'd ever seen. In true Gainax fashion, It featured robots, aliens, a girl swinging a bass guitar into their necks, a ridiculous amount of sexual innuendos and puberty metaphors to the awesome -awesome- music of the Pillows (who are also doing the music for the new series!) As a 14/15-year-old boy, it was God.   via GIPHY The original FLCL show is only 6 episodes long. It's crazy, fun and a good story that hints at possibilities rather than outright clarifying them. This has left fans with a lot of questions and a lot left to the imagination- creating a lot of theories. If I'm perfectly honest, this is one of the very few cases where I've been happy having it left as it where. People made their own assumptions at the end of the series, and it's these assumptions and ideas I'm intrigued by the most. Because if they had concluded it then, we may not have liked the answer.  But this was back when there wasn't even a hint of a sequel. Now, nearly 20 years later FLCL 3 has been announced seemingly out of the blue. Like a lot of the cult following Fooly Cooly has built up, I'm sceptical, but also extremely excited. Regardless, I'm going to watch the shit out of it. So if you're a die-hard fan, get re-watching. FInd that old mp3 player with all the Pillows music. If you've never watched the show, give it a go if you're up for some crazy fun. You can also check out the manga, which is equally short as 2 volumes with the madness that is Hajime Ueda's sketchy artwork. It doesn't flow too far away from the anime story but does have some drastically different key events and arguably, more depth....

| | Gaming, Blogging | 0 comments
23 March
Mar 23
23rd March 2018

  Like a lot of people, I suffer from heavy bouts of stress and anxiety. Whilst some of it I have to take as it comes, there's also a fair bit I can take responsibility for and do something about: Drink less coffee, sleep more and play less stress-induced-haemorrhage causing things like Halo 2 on Legendary. The first two are invalid options because they are apart of being a parent. So after finishing the Halo 2 Campaign, I was very grateful to stumble across this gem that I somehow missed. AER is a game by Forgotten Key, A studio in Sweden that specialises in atmospheric experiences. Kotaku described AER as Wind Waker but flying instead of sailing, and they're not wrong. You play as Auk, a young girl set out on a pilgrimage to restore the broken world after it's great divide. Gods are slowly being forgotten and therefore losing their power. Auk must journey to the Land of the Gods and stop the darkness that threatens this beautiful, fragmented world. As one of the last shapeshifters, performing a simple double jump sends Auk soring into the air as a bird, where you can visit the temples to retrieve the lost shards, or simply cruise around the open world at your leisure. The controls are super-intuitive as theirs a simplicity to what you can do: Fly, interact, move and jump. The only slight difficulty is I got a bit too carried away with 'flapping' to pick up speed during flight. You don't realise how fast you're going until you're a few meters away from an island and can end up shooting straight past it without having time to think about landing. The game has soft glowing colours in low-poly/cell-shaded style graphics, accompanied by the beautiful ambient music and sounds of Cajsa Larsson. It's the cheapest form of therapy I've come across so far.   Describing this game as a type of Legend of Zelda but without the fighting would be an awful sell, but here for me lies the beauty of AER for what I need to relax. The puzzles in the temples are not so easy that you finish them feeling unrewarded, but not so difficult to the point of frustration and rage-quit. In fact, the only frustration I honestly encountered in this game was when I went to capture a screenshot on my Xbox One and it crashed. I had to do the temple again but to my surprise, I didn't mind. I wanted this game to last.   The main game and its story are short, but it makes up for it in how much there is to be explored- take a look at what achievements you're yet to complete just to get a rough idea. I loved flying to different fragments of islands without the fear of being attacked, losing HP or having to start from a previous state long forgotten. Possibly my favourite part of this game was discovering things only visible when you pulled out your lantern. Although haunting, the light reveals scenes and events frozen in time, ghosts of people simply living, or fighting to survive the Kings invasion. A beautiful feature that added to the games perfect balance of peace and curiosity. This is a perfect chill out game when you need to de-stress or need a break from the competetive stuff.   AER: Memories of Old is available on Xbox One, PS4 and Steam/PC.        ...

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