Back to my childhood we go!

I’ve discovered you can download Alex Kidd in Miracle World on the Xbox One.

I am far too happy about this.

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I can’t count how many hours I spent on this game as a child. It came built-in to the Master System II, so anyone who owned that console had it. It was one of those games that I played over and over again, despite the fact that I could never complete it. And even after all this time, when that title screen appeared on the screen and music burst from the speakers, the memories just flooded back. The images, the theme music, the sound effects, every bit of is as fresh as if it had been only a few weeks. The placement of the monsters. Which blocks to smash and which ones were tricks to avoid. Everything.

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Wow, who remembers this little 8-bit beauty? It’s never received the same level of recognition as the NES, but it was still a great little console for its time.

Suddenly I was transported back in time, sitting perched on my little wooden stool in front of the small TV, steadily playing through the same levels over and over again.

But I never completed it. There was just one level, one infinitely frustrating level, that I could not get past. Well, there were a couple of times where I managed to just scrape through, but I never had any lives left afterwards so I was left attempting to get through a new, unfamiliar level with no lives to learn from my mistakes.

So this is my challenge to myself: I will complete Alex Kidd in Miracle World. It’s been over two decades since I played it last, since the Master System fell into obscurity and obsolescence and I moved on to the more advanced consoles my friends owned or PC gaming at home, but now I shall go back and finally defeat this thing.

I thought it might be easier, that the new version would have a save game feature. But no. There’s nothing like that. No salves to make this easier for the modern gamer. No tweaks to bring it up to date. No. This is a start from the beginning and don’t make any mistakes kind of thing. I’ve simply got to play my way through in the same what my 10-year-old self had to.

Wish me luck. It’s time for some nostalgia!

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My 2016 Book of the Year

This year, I’ve decided to post a few of the highlights I’ve come across in 2016 to share with you all. They won’t necessarily be things published or released this year, but will all be relatively recent works that I – at least – discovered in 2016.

 

I had to put a bit of thought into my favourite book from this year, as the one that I’ve ultimately decided upon was actually released back in 2011. But as I was given this as a gift last Christmas, and therefore only read it for the first time in 2016, I have decided it can count. Because this is my personal list, and I get to make the rules.

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In a world where real-life has become almost unliveable, where the class and wage gaps are bigger than ever and a majority of people live in poverty, most of the world live within OASIS; a fully immersive virtual world, that functions as both an MMORPG and online society where most people go to school and hold their jobs. But when the creator and owner of OASIS dies, he leaves ownership of it to whoever can solve a complex treasure hunt based on obscure 1980s trivia. And whoever owns OASIS becomes one of the richest and most powerful people in the world.

When teenager Wade Watts manages to solve the first riddle, his life becomes a race between him, his friends and peers, and the multinational corporation which will stop at nothing to gain control of OASIS.

This book is just so fresh and clever. Well researched – Cline obviously has an encyclopedic knowledge of the ‘80s and early computer games – and expertly written, Ready Player One perfectly encapsulates my generation’s culture and attitudes. Cline manages to mine the current fashion for modernised nostalgia while commenting on how just fragile the line between the real world and escapism has become.

It’s just such a shame that his follow up – Armada – which did come out this year, is so mind-bogglingly awful. Seriously, don’t bother wasting your time unless you want a perfect example of an author buckling under the pressure of a smash hit debut.

My notebook is dead. Long live my notebook!

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My notebook has finally died. The binding has gone, and it is now a mere collection of paper collected together in its former covers.

It’s not been a bad innings for something I’ve been carrying around with me for seven years. And I mean literally seven years. The first entry in the book is a draft of a blog post I wrote about my upcoming wedding dated 15th September 2009.

That’s literally seven years ago to the day! 

How’s that for freaky?

There’s just so much in this little book; Story ideas, book drafts, brainstorming sessions, quick poetry, directorial notes, stage manager plans, to-do lists, job application notes, notes from seminars, room plans, timelines, meeting minutes, family trees. I wrote in a previous post how important a good notebook is to a writer, it feels truer than ever right now. There is a little piece of everything that was part of my life in the last seven years in here.

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-13-41-33And today, seven years to the day when I made my first entry, its replacement has arrived.

Look at it. Isn’t this just a thing of beauty. What is it about a Moleskine notebook that’s just so… right. They have something different about them, but I can never put my finger on what.

Well, here’s to another seven years with my little green book.