I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Brisbane’s been the new Seattle since November. Yesterday was the first rainless day we’ve had for two months, but it was too late for that. It all came to a head by Tuesday the eleventh of January, culminating in the biggest flood in Brisbane, and indeed the entire state of Queensland since 1974.

The Brisbane River overflows, inundating the surrounding suburbs.

What has happened in some parts of Queensland has been described by authorities as an ‘inland tsunami’, with destructive torrents ripping through homes and businesses at over twenty kilometres per hour. The 70 towns and cities the flood has passed through have been described as ‘ghost towns’ and ‘war zones’. The official death toll rose to 13 people this morning, while 43 remain missing.

Thankfully my suburb and home has been spared. I was more than a little panicked about the creek that flows behind my townhouse, and around my entire apartment complex, but it seems to function as a rather effective stormwater drainage system, and so the water levels are only high when it is raining (which, mind you, it had been for two months without reprieve). Most excellently, I haven’t been able to go to work for the past two days and presumably for the rest of the week, as power and access to the Brisbane CBD has been cut off. That has afforded me a chance to catch up on some writing, some Red Dead Redemption, and even apply for a freelance gig at IGN AU.

My first order of business, though, is to finally fill you in on ‘The Burglary’. Yes, the thief was apprehended back in September and nine Wii games recovered initially, but by November the police had recovered all of my stolen consoles and games, which of course I was (and am) absolutely thrilled about. As I no longer need to rebuild my videogame collection, I have now re-purposed this site to donate to the Queensland Flood Appeal, which I would encourage you to seriously consider. The donation button to the left has been changed, and should now take you to the Queensland Flood Appeal website.

When I see images of flood-affected Australians pulling together to rebuild and help each other out, I am reminded of a song called The Great South Land. It goes a little something like this:

This is the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit

A land of red dust plains and summer rains

And to this sunburnt land, we will see a flood

And to this Great South Land, His Spirit comes

Celica on Desert

Back in the 32-Bit era, arcade perfection was the Holy Grail of game development. It was the question on everybody’s lips: “yeah yeah yeah, that’s great, but tell me – is it arcade perfect?” It’s a strange term looking back, now that consoles have spread their wings and arcades the world over die a slow and painful death, but ‘arcade perfect’ was once the highest praise you could lavish on a home conversion. I’d say we’ve come a long way since then, but by demanding more than mere perfection (and getting it), we’ve eroded away the canal that birthed games like Sega Rally.

Sega Rally Championship for the Sega Saturn is arcade perfect. But it’s more than that – it’s just plain perfect. Some may find this hard to believe approaching it retrospectively – sure, polygon counts and texture maps have improved since then – but mark my words, no rally game since has even touched its handling or track design.
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If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, please do so…now!

I was talking with a friend before a wedding last week, which somehow led to a discussion of ‘True Random’, and how it could not be replicated outside of the natural world (e.g. by a computer). My friend asked me for an example of ‘True Random’ in the natural world, and the best I could do at the time was the branch growth patterns of a tree, which I’m sure is a popular example in physics classes, but not one that I was entirely satisfied with. Then during the wedding, something amazing happened. The flower girl came swinging through the wedding ceremony like a wrecking ball. She can’t have been older than four years old, but she stole the show because nobody knew what she was going to do next. I pointed her out to my friend (not that I needed to – everyone was looking at her), and said “that, my friend, is True Random”. She smiled and nodded in agreement. (protip: don’t ever get a flower girl for your wedding – at least not one that is under 6 years old with ADD – I have never seen this go well.)

The Earthlings in Toejam & Earl are no different.

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The Joker & The Thief.

Posted: 28 September, 2010 in Uncategorized
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A friend of mine had his own idea of how the burglary took place, and put together this artist’s rendition of the events:

Ninja vanish!

Personally, I would have preferred to be robbed this way.  Everyone likes to think they’ve been outsmarted by the cleverest of the clever.

The Hamburglar!

Good news, everyone!

Our burglar has been apprehended by the authorities!  He was caught in the middle of robbing someone else’s house, and the police noted the presence of a large gas bottle in the back of his car.  They connected the dots and extracted from the offender the location of the stolen barbeque – a nearby pawnbroker (which will not be named here).  It seems that the burglar cashed in a few Wii games in the same transaction.  All in all, there were nine games recovered:

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Return of the Burglar!

Posted: 23 September, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Common wisdom suggests that felons often revisit the scene of the crime, even if it doesn’t make common sense.  In line with common wisdom, the Videogame Burglar returned to our residence on Friday the 17th of September 2010 and stole my housemate’s barbeque, worth around $400.  The burglar must have noted the barbeque’s presence on his initial visit, chained up and padlocked outside, and made a mental note to return later with bolt-cutters.  How no-one notices this stuff and reports it is beyond me, but the neighbours didn’t seem to mind the sound of smashing glass the first time round…

The good news is – assuming it’s the same person – this means that the burglar is local.  One of my neighbours came around last weekend to let me know he had seen the burglar driving away in my car and had a full mental picture of the man’s face, which is also encouraging.

So let this be a word of warning to you, Mr. Videogame Burglar: you got sloppy, and you slipped up!  You could have been anywhere, but now we know you’re in the area!  Enjoy it while it lasts, because your thieving days are numbered…

There’s only one videogame that every member of my family has played, and continues to play after 18 years:

Toejam & Earl

My brother comes home from Japan (the Land of Videogames) after working there a year, and what’s the first thing he wants to do? Play Toejam & Earl with me. So we play Toejam & Earl, and we still love it.

And for good reason: its funk soundtrack is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the greatest to ever be committed to cartridge. Its cartoon stylings capture perfectly the dissonance between our duo of chillaxed aliens stranded on a frenetic, hostile Planet Earth. It was both an hilarious parody of hip hop culture and a devilishly clever satire on modern Earth life. In an age when local multiplayer is treated as indulgence, and cooperative play a fiscal liability, Toejam & Earl represents one of the most delightful experiences that can be shared with two controllers. All of these things comprise the funny, funky package that is Toejam & Earl, but they are not reason enough for its remarkable longevity. There are many other titles that could be said to be “the full package” and yet I can almost guarantee I won’t be playing them in 18 years time.

Those who have played Toejam & Earl will find all this talk of packages to be rather apt. The game is every bit as surprising as the wrapped gifts that feature so prominently in it. If I could summarise the essence and appeal of Toejam & Earl in a single word, that word would be ‘Random’. No two play-throughs of Toejam & Earl are ever the same, lending the game virtually limitless replay value. Let’s explore this Funkotronian phenomenon to see how it achieves this rare feat.
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