Tag Archive: Banjo Kazooie


38

Nope, not the flat number, nor my lucky number.  But the number of successful orbits of the sun whilst maintaining my status as a passenger on planet Earf.

Like most people, I’ve taken the opportunity to bunk off work (read: taken  a couple of days off) to mark the event.  And  it’s been a quiet old day so far, noise from the street excepted.  The last two days were spent in Dublin with work.  I had a quiet, pleasant stay although the rain felt quite incessant at times.  There was allegedly some snow on Tuesday morning but it had melted by the time I emerged from my hotel room.

So what’s been new, hip and happening?  Answer: not much.  More of the same, really.  Am I in a rut?  Perhaps, though I’m not rushing out to embrace the new.  Is there anything that’s truly new?  Apart from picking up a new mobile last weekend, no.  Letting February slide by as quickly as possible, I guess.

Continuing to enjoy Star Trek Timelines and the recent events have given my inventory a chance to rest and rebuild following a succession of missions which have drained them dry of all the really useful stuff.   And finally have a couple of friends playing it although they are not quite as into it as I.  Still, good times.

On the Xbone,  I downloaded the free copy of The Force Unleashed and replayed that, forgetting how much fun it was to throw Felucians into Rancors.  And to fry that bitch  Shaak Ti.  GTA continues to be my most played game although I’ve been trying to get into Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts again.  It’s just hard to like it.

Board games: lots of 7 Wonders, finally got around to breaking in “Under the Pyramids” expansion for Eldritch Horror and whilst in Dublin, I treated myself to “The Dreamlands” as it was cheaper there thanks to the collapse in GBP. I was particularly proud of this game with Joey and Scott:

 

Finally folks, I was doing a YouTube crawl and stumbled across this parody music video.  I almost wet myself cackling as I think I’ve experienced every one of these deaths:

So that’s your lot, just a quick update before my second coffee of the day and hopefully, a decision about what to do with the rest of my time today.  And if anyone else is celebrating a birthday today (Ron Howard, Harry Belafonte,  Dirk Benedict, George Eads, Doris Hare and of course, Frederich Chopin), PISCEANS ROOL!

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Hullo,

Friday was the sort of day you just want far more of; come into work late because there’s a complete collapse in public transport again. Delays on the Northern Line somehow equated to no access to ANY trains at King’s Cross so I was forced to walk over to Euston and board the trains there. Anyway, after a rant and some very dark thoughts involving a smouldering poker and Peter Hendy, I arrived in the office coffee-less as the contents of my pedestal had already been packed away.

One prolonged Starbucks trip later (enjoyed the free Brahms download), there wasn’t actually anything to do at work other than a few odds and sods of admin rather than some prolonged policy study. And before I knew it, lunchtime arrived. After lunch was some last minute tidying up and then we were all booted out so our section of the floor could be boarded up for the refit works.

Alas, this all comes with a price and that is the fact that perhaps the biggest directorate in the entire Department is homeless for two weeks. I’m actually rethinking my “lets not take leave just to spite the Department” as the whole looking for a place to sit is so…depressing. Mind you, there’s stuff happening this fortnight which negates the wisdom of taking leave.

Friday evening was the house-warming dinner party with Xian, Daniel, Aqeel + Holly and Henry. After a two hour long walk home foolishly through the park which included swinging by every supermarket between Westminster and Camden hoping to find some pigs ears (don’t ask), I arrived back only to find that my broadband still hadn’t been connected. Yeah – It was supposed to be ready for use on Friday morning but I couldn’t force a connection so left the computer on all day just in case.

Got home, spent 45 minutes cussing a blue streak at my laptop, EE and the universe in general when I decided to go into the Router and painstakingly check every single setting. Finally I found the cause of the problem (something reset when I selected ADSL mode rather than Fiber Optic and needed adjustment) and broadband was back. Celebrations included some Brussels chocolate and downloading of yet more Apple updates but until Whatsapp is patched, I ain’t getting iOS 7. The laptop also spent forever and a day downloading security patches from MacAfee.

Dinner party itself – Daniel arrived on time (love that German punctuality), everyone else was late. The lasagne tasted superb; leaving it to ferment twenty four hours was the right thing to do and the addition of the weird beans really worked. I’m happy to consider that recipe again but as I said last time, double the recipe for the metal pan. Dessert was treacle tart with ice-cream (as I didn’t think to buy any regular cream. We got through three bottles of wine, several bottles of cider and I think the majority ended up down my gullet.

Saturday…oh Saturday. Woke up at 7.30 unable to breathe – I was so congested, it wasn’t funny. And the hangover…it wasn’t pretty. Plus I had a sore throat but only on one side of the throat which hurt to swallow; great I thought, a viral infection. Eventually made it to from my bed to the couch watching Buffy and feeling pretty lousy, only rising from my sick bed to make another cup of green tea and holding the warm/hot mug to my throat hoping it’d nuke whatever was going on in there.

Around 4pm I rallied a little and left the house. There was no way I was going to get down to Waterloo for Streepass Day down there – felt feverish and clammy (coming from a Brit, that’s bad). But I did walk around Camden just having a nosey. Popped into Game and looked at brand new and second hand Xbox prices; quite reasonable but could I find a member of staff to assist me? Could I hell. Went to Curry’s – they don’t sell them. Went to Cex – they only had 4GB consoles in stock. Went to Argos – they didn’t have any in stock. Went to Sainsbury’s – bought some Lockets for my sore throat and a bottle of coke. Might as well have bought a phial of sulphuric acid; stupid idea.

Went over to Westfield instead (don’t ask why, it’s just a prime example of male contrariness), went to the Game store there – again, another shining tale of exemplary customer service and keen, attentive staff.

My sarcasm-detector just exploded btw.

Went upstairs to HMV; kind of my last chance saloon. Saw they had a GTA V pack so snapped it up and tried to buy it. Guess what? They were out of stock. Effing typical. With some extreme reluctance on my part, I agreed to buy the FIFA 14 pack instead but asked if I could immediately part exchange it. They said yes. Then they said no – the game was “to be sold with console only” so the packaging had no barcode to scan into the system. Rather than faff about, I took the console and game home with me.

Get home with new toy, set her up and start my gaming. It took me a while to get my PC-created Live profile to sync with the console (why was there no option off the bat to “download profile to console”? Naturally, my first purchase was Banjo Kazooie and I enjoyed playing that before ultimately heading to bed.

Sunday…well, I had a new toy so you can guess what I was doing for most of the day. Felt a bit better though, no further congestion though I think I broke my record for most concurrent sneezes with eight. Think all the tea and mug-on-throat stuff really helped as it stopped hurting to swallow. Went out after lunch (leftover lasagne) to Cex and bought a load of second-hand games to begin a collection: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Batman: Arkham Asylum, GTA IV and the other two titles whose names currently elude me. Also bought Rainbow Islands from the Arcade.

Didn’t do much otherwise on Sunday. Cut hair and trimmed beard, looking vaguely human again always makes me feel better. Popped out for ice-cream and a walk at 9pm. Came back with a tub of chocolate chip and a scoop of banana. Oh; and realised I had fallen afoul of the Banjo Kazooie bug where if you complete the pictures before you do the levels, any notes collected are no longer collectable in the game, irritatingly enough. Couldn’t see any way around it so erased my save game and started again…

So that was my weekend – new console, illness and revelry. This week is a fairly quiet one in terms of my work calendar though there’s some stuff happening during the week. Quiz will be different this week as the Book of Mormon prize was actually booked for tomorrow. So we’ll be down in terms of numbers. So far it’s just two of us – possibly three if Dom comes along. I’ve been trying to find another two people but alas no luck thus far.

Ah, and my travelcard ran out yesterday. I dunno if I mentioned but I’ve no intention of buying a new one. Rather, because I tend to walk home, I’m just going to have a PAYG Oystercard which will cost approx £2.10*20. This means a saving of about £90 per month on travel which I think is a bargain. Ok, there’s miscellaneous travel to consider as well as my trips home from Vauxhall on Tuesday evenings but I still think there’s a saving to be had. Don’t always have to get the tube though; buses work just as well.

Well, in MS Word terms, this is a 3½ pager. Phew.

Mario 64 – Controversy Ahead

One of the great Video Game mysteries IMHO is “Why does Super Mario 64 keep appearing in the top 3 games of all time?” 

For the non-gamers who follow my blog, Super Mario 64 was one of the launch titles for the Nintendo 64 back in 1996 which took Mario into a 3D landscape.  Like most Mario games, Princess Peach (though I think this was the first time she was referred to as “Peach” rather than Princess Toadstool) had been kidnapped by Bowser and he had seized the source of the Castle’s magical potency, the 120 Power Stars (and before the nit-pickers seize upon this, I’m referring to all the stars and not just the ones in Bowser’s possession or the ones of his minions).  

Whilst 3D platform games had been tried before, it was Nintendo’s efforts which really made the format work demonstrating how all future efforts would look in the future.  The game was far more open-ended and less linear than all previous incarnations giving the player choice on how they wished to proceed and each time a level was entered, things could occur just a little differently translating into a unique experience. 

But is this enough to warrant inclusion in the top three games of all time? 

Depending on who’s compiling the list, the top three games will vary in choice and ranking but Mario 64’s inclusion is all but a foregone conclusion.  Other titles will include Space Invaders, one of the Link games (Ocarina of Time is a feature), Final Fantasy (one of), Tetris etc.  What many of the games in the top 3/top 5/top 10 lists will have in common is that they are the first in the genre or the epitome of the genre.  Think “Turn Based Strategy” and you’ll think of Civilization.  Think “Real Turn Strategy” and you’ll either think Age of Empires or Command and Conquer.  Think 3D Platform and you’ll think “Mario”.   

Mario didn’t really offer anything “new” and by that I mean it enhanced existing concepts but put them in a larger playing field.  Much of what was in SMB3 and SMW was recycled into Mario 64 whilst several other game concepts (Luigi, Yoshi) were dropped quite inexplicably.  They were inserted into Super Mario DS which enriched the gameplay quite a lot but at the time, bare bones.  

I believe there are better, far better 3D platform gamers out there which took some of the core concepts of Mario 64 and really made them better games.  My first thought as one might expect, extends to Rare’s Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie as well as Donkey Kong 64.  Mediaeval was also a great game in its own right though more Action Arcade and there’s the Rayman series of games.  Are they all Mario clones though or do they deliver a better experience? 

In my opinion, some of them are better than Mario 64 for a series of reasons – Banjo Kazooie & Tooie have the ability to transform the heroes into a series of weird and wonderful objects whilst the uniquely British humour inserted into the game gives it a more friendly approach.  Donkey Kong 64 worked along a similar vein, but allowed each of the four main characters to access different parts of the game’s levels so that you needed to take each character through to the end.  I’d offer more examples but my overall appreciation for 3D platform games waned once I got my Gamecube and in my secret shame, I never did finish off Super Mario Sunshine, nor Super Mario Galaxy.  Hell, I thought Yoshi’s Story on the N64 was a better game as the choice of levels allowed each run-through to be unique and completable within a couple hours playing. 

At the time of the N64’s launch, I spent way more of my time going through Shadows of the Empire – probably because I was a Star Wars fan – but I also loved the fact there were both 2D/3D space combat levels as well as the 1st person & 3rd person shooter.  Seasoned gamers got to brush up on differing sets of skills rather than doing the same thing through a series of landscapes.  I can’t remember what else my early N64 collection consisted of though Starfox 64 was one of those as was Mission Impossible, Pilotwings 64 and Goldeneye. There were far more game hours racked up on those titles than on Mario 64 – how can a truly great game be played once and forgotten?  There was only one difficulty mode, a few “secrets” though easily uncovered and there was never any tension except in the final Bowser fight.  This doesn’t really put the game in the top 3.  Top 10 or even top 25 maybe but not the top 3. 

Video games have been around for 40 years and Mario is shortly to enter his third decade.  Whilst we cannot deny the impact the little plumber from Brooklyn (though why he speaks with an Italian accent is beyond me) has made on the VG landscape, is he still a character that is in games which are the best ever or has the legend overtaken the man?

The Headbanging Parrot

As a Brit, I know it’s something of a cultural stereotype to keep on yakking about the weather but it’s just so damned variable that you can’t help but take an interest in what’s happening outside.  The other day many of us were bemoaning the end of summer – the outside temperature plummeted to 5 degrees one night and we shivered in our beds in August.  Yesterday the temperature peaked at 24 during the afternoon and it was definitely coat-free weather…hell, it was shirt free weather for many.  What a difference 72 hours can make.

Before I resort to other sources, here’s another online plea for help.  Back when I was living in Germany, SSVC used to run a television show to help British people learn German.  It was a fifteen minute programme (with a catch-up at the weekend) shown weeknights around 5.45pm.  It was presented by a German woman with the aid of her green parrot and the end credits frequently saw this parrot bobbing its head in time to the theme tune.  WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THIS PROGRAMME? I’ve tried every derivative of Google searches but haven’t come up with anything close. 

So, I have drawn a complete blank in my recent searches for a new rucksack – I spent a good chunk of Friday and Saturday hunting around all the Department stores and luggage stores but there was nothing suitable to be found.  Plan B is to get a Scottyvest from eBay or Amazon or some other retailer.  Most bags are too small or just don’t look sturdy enough to put up with the expected amount of junk I’ll lob into them (and I do weigh myself down like a packhorse or the Buckaroo donkey). 

By way of recompense for my failure, I wandered into HMV at the Trocadero yesterday evening and walked out with five blu-rays and four new games.  I say four new games, only one was new (Shinobi on the 3DS), the rest were three DS games I used to own and have bought back as part of my rebuilding of my former stockpile; Bust-a-Move DS, Star Trek Tactical Assault and…um…another one whose name I’ve temporarily forgotten but it was only £5.  That’s about 10 of 60 I’ve been able to reacquire but the others will take more than a little time.  Note to self – start writing these down on the iPad so I know what I DO have and what I DON’T have. 

Speaking of games, I unearthed my N64 at the weekend and played a bit of Banjo Kazooie, Goldeneye 64 and South Park just to catch up on the general nostalgia trip I’m currently on.  Had a temper tantrum when I kept dying in Rusty Bucket Bay on Banjo and thought of playing Banjo Tooie as that was the better game.  Grrr.  It remains really weird to see these old polygon sprites on a big screen TV, as the cruder graphics are really shown up n all their blockiness.  Playing with the uniquely designed N64 pad is a weird experience for some games and for others, the only natural fit. 

After Friday’s recipe, I decided to make myself a Vegetarian Chilli that evening – was very not bad even if I do say so myself.  There was a substitution in that recipe for something I had a large surplus of in the fridge but it turned out great; really hot.  And threw together a pasta bake yesterday with some Mediterranean Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts and Fusilli Pasta which also turned out pretty well and is very likely to form the backbone of this week’s lunches.   

It’s really, really tempting to pass comment on the Government reshuffle today but as I don’t fancy being censured for any implication or innuendo, I’ll refrain.  Sufficed to say all the work some of us here have been putting into any number of projects is going to have to be put on hold as new Ministers get to grips with their briefs.  We know who the new Transport Supremo is (Patrick Mcloughlin) but there are two more vacancies (at time of writing) to fill. 

I suppose I should also (publicly) acknowledge my mother and sister’s birthday today; there’s that odd statistic where if you take a room full of thirty strangers, at least two of them will share the same birthday so naturally when they are in the same room…statistic proven.  So Happy Birthday y’old farts.

Gloom on a Thursday

Looking out of the window, it’s as if the summer has been erased and replaced firmly with autumn; the rain is pelting unfortunate types outdoors, leaves are being pulled off of the trees and the air temperature is enough to warrant bringing in a jacket to work.  Portent of the weeks ahead or temporary aberration?  Whatever it takes to prevent another drought order being enforced on the South East of England.

Day three of being back in the office and it’s as if I’d never left; my inbox is full of stupid queries (mostly from even stupider people), deadlines remain ridiculously tight and the overall sense of office malaise continues unabated.  I feel a lot of holiday work being undone already – though still haven’t been able to strike the right balance of sleep now that my iPhone screams me awake in the morning rather than my body clock (or some loud mouthed idiot on the street outside).  So that’s my griping for the day though I dare say there’ll be more to come.   

Working from home – I have given this more and more thought as of late and perhaps I might make a formal request to work from home two or even three days a week.  Whilst I used to be wedded to the idea of a permanent desk mainly on the grounds of territoriality and turf, this has relaxed in recent months especially as there is more of a move to go to “permanent hotdesking”.  But working from home would enable avoidance of the commute, particularly in the mornings and allow me to set my schedule at home without worrying about what is happening in the office.  Plus, there’d be better coffee at home. 

And if I were to make working from home a success (i.e. I can do what needs to be done without succumbing to the pleasures of the TV/Wii/PC etc), I’d finally make the time to get me a hound.  The Canaan Dog is increasingly of interest as it’s very uncommon here in the UK and is supposed to have a lovely temperament.  But one would have to wait, potentially a long time given the low numbers.  Who knows – might happen as early as next year.

I watched the original Total Recall last night on ITV2 and forgot how much it was the epitome of 1980’s cheese (OK the film was released in 1990 but it was adapted and subsequently shot in 1989).  Granted, the special effects are actually excellent and the cast list reads of a who’s who of sci-fi, particularly Star Trek: there’s the Doctor (the Johnny Cab), Gul Dukat (Mars soldier), Ensign Sonia Gomez (the chick with three boobs), Captain Jellicoe (Cohaagen), Legate Broca (Benny) and several other guest stars throughout the Trek Universe.  Like Minority Report twelve years later (also a PKD book), the big question remains at the end of the film – was it all a dream?   

Man, I hate those ambiguous endings to television shows and films.  One that really gets on my nerves is the ending to Quantum Leap which like several other shows, was cancelled shortly before or during the hiatus between filming seasons and so what would have been a season finale ended up being a show finale.  Cybill suffered exactly the same fate as did Angel, Blake’s 7 and several others.  TVTropes refers to a cliffhanger ending with the characters facing certain death the Bolivian Army Ending.    

I finished my Sweden Civ V game last night, the one I began on Monday before going to the Games Day in Brixton – won the Diplomatic victory and for the first time, I had most of the major Civs voting for me to win also as I’d kept three of them onside with free luxuries and forgave their spying transgressions.  England were the sole dissenters but Elizabeth was in a lousy position caught between the Huns and the Aztecs whilst I rushed to liquidate Gandhi, Boudicca and…ah… the Siamese leader whose name I can never remember. 

Oh, and I finally got round to making those stuffed peppers with Aunt Bessie’s vegetable stuffing mix and the baby bell peppers from Tesco.  They were really nice, sweet and juicy and filling.  Heartily recommended though I’m curious to know what sort of a sauce or accompaniment might attend them well.  I’m thinking some sort of savoury concoction or even Bisto’s Chip Shop Curry Sauce over a little rice.  Hmmm… 

T’ain’t much more I can add to today’s post I’m afraid though in a really random aside, I’m toying with the idea of getting an Xbox just so I can play Banjo Kazooie HD.  So there!

Early Hours Sunday

I know it’s been a few days since my last blog post but really there hasn’t been anything worth writing about. As I enter the final third of my break, invariably my thoughts turn to DfT and all the rubbish associated with it – office politics, dramas, the work subject matter, new colleagues and managers…nah. Still, it’s funded my month off so I can’t be too vocal in my complaining.

Wednesday I went to the Blackfriars den of iniquity where Alex was surprisingly on the turntables this week. The club was emptier than normal as I recall but it was very mid month and I expect that to change next week. I am almost ashamed to report that I felt absolutely bladdered after a mere 4 pints. Granted it was Amstel and that’s pretty lethal but still spent the last 45 minutes there wanting to ralph. Kept it down though and staggered home at 3am.

Thursday was an absolute write off. I just felt absolutely hung over and capable of doing anything than lie on the couch and watch television and occasionally make forays into the kitchen for Food & Drink. It didn’t help matters being woken up but the twat across the road on his bike who smoked a cigarette whilst revving his engine for five minutes nor the dog which had clearly been locked out and was howling for attention. That cave in rural Derbyshire is looking more and more attractive.

Friday at least I rallied after ten hours sleep, finished off the outstanding side quests in Pirates and went to Ceajays for games night…reminding me it’s been twelve months since I did the same. Perhaps I was a bit antisocial by playing Banjo Kazooie for most of the evening but the others were playing BattleStar Galactica the board game and there was no room at the table for at least three of us.

Today was a very, very hot and sticky day. I know most of the news websites have been crowing about the fact that this has been the hottest day of the year so far. Frankly, whilst I’m happy that the rain has stayed away, I can do without the excessive heat and humidity. I had a moment of dithering and after consulting an online Magic 8 Ball, made myself purchase Civ V Gods & Kings expansion pack. Jury review out soon.

The other main problem with the weather being so warm of course is that at 1:30 in the morning, half the street is awake and noisy and being generally antisocial. But that’s always been the problem with the flotsam around here absolutely no consideration for others. Rattus Cockus. I am very, very grateful for the fan in my bedroom because not only does it keep me a little bit cool but the white noise produced by the fan is actually far more conducive to sleep than the primary function of the device.

If the sentences read/look a little odd, that’s because most of this blog post has been dictated to my iPad rather than typing it out. Enunciating words clearly does make dictating seem a little… awkward. Especially when you’re wondering if the douche bags outside on the street are eavesdropping on what you’re saying.