Gaming Nostalgia: Penguin Adventure (MSX)

Way back in the dawn of time before MetalGear was a twinkle in Hideo Kojima’s eye, Kojiama created a game which is the source of my love of penguins, Penguin Adventure. In Penguin Advenure you take on the role of Pentarou a penguin tasked with saving the penguin princess Penko Hime. The princess is very ill and only a magic golden apple can save her.

Your quest was to go from the penguin temple to the magical tree retrieve an apple and get back to the princess in time to save her life. Unlike most modern games where a time limt is set to complete a quest then summarilly ignored, in penguin adventure if you took too long to complete the game, the princess would be dead when you got back to the temple. (It’s been quite some time since I played this game but at least one website says that the only way to get the happy ending is to pause the game once and only once).

During your adventures you traveled through variations of 10 different level types:

Forest Cave
River Ice Path
Snowy Woods Frozen Ocean
Underwater Desert
Bonus Warp

While running throught he level you had to avoid various obstacles and collect fish, among the obstacles were cracks in the floor. Now you could almost play through the whole game without realizing this but some of the cracks were actually shops, which rather than avoid you had to fall into. In the shop there was usually one of three shopkeepers.

The three shop keeps offered a variety of items at differing prices, I seem to remember the father christmas one being the cheapest, he might even have given you an item for free. The mean one actually swore at you telling you to buy something Dammit. Some of the items were invaluable for your quest, some were merely useful, some were essential to complete the stage you were playing (Namely the map).

I’m not going to go into what each of the items did but if you are curious you can look here.

Every 3 or so levels you would meet up with a fire breathing dragon, appropritately coloured for the level, either Blue or red. The dragon could be beaten in one of two ways, you could either shoot him to bits using the gun, which of course you’d bought from one of the shops, or if you didn’t have the gun you would have to drive a set of pegs which were in front of the dragon into the ground by jumping on them. Once the dragon was defeated the ground would collapse under him and he’s fall into the water and if the first digit of the time remaining was even a bunch of gold penguins would jump out to join in your victory dance (The number was dependant on the digit, 2, 4, 6 or 8 penguins) I remember despite this not having any effect on the game I would always try to time it to get 8 gold penguins.

I loved Penguin Adventure when I was a kid and I still think fondly of it, looking back at it now, the game was incredibly well designed, and considering the limitations of the MSX hardware (It was about the same level as a NES) it was really innovative.

Penguin adventure was published by Konami and was released in 1986. It is the sequel to Antarctic Adventure.

Here is a video of Antarctic Adventure for comparison:

For more info look at the following links:

Unicorn Dreams

Moby Games


Giant Bomb

Riots in the streets of Khobar

UPDATE: (25/09/2009) Saudi media has picked up on this There is an article in the Al-Youm (Today) newspaper.

Last night (23rd of Sept. 2009) marked Saudi Arabia’s national day, and as a Saudi I am absolutely disgusted by what has happened in Khobar, my home town. I wasn’t there, I’m safe and sound on another continent, but thanks to the internet I’ve seen videos of riots on the corniche where hundreds of youths just smashed the place up.

As of this writing there is zero news coverage of this, I only found out about it because I saw some pictures on facebook which were posted by some friends of mine who live there. The people of Khobar are disgusted and embarressed by this behaviour.

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The people of Khobar are some of the most westernised people in the Kindgom, mainly due the the heavy influence of Saudi Aramco the countries largest oil company which used to hire a great number of Americans, and from what I understand most of the people involved in the riots are from other parts of the country, but who’s to tell.
Regardless It’s still disgusting, I’ve seen Photos and videos of people just smashing shit up!

People opening Fire in the middle of the Road:

Another video of people smashing up a starbucks:

According to the local authorities (Police, National Defence and SWAT teams by my translation) were involved in a number of skirmishes with the rioters in teh city center, which led to the rioters fleeing and congregating on the corniche. The rioters were assaulting the emergency services by throwing stones at them, and attacking them, gun shots were also apparently heard within the crowds.
This lead to a large part of the eastern part of the city beign closed off by the emergency services.
By the descriptions I’ve heard of what was happening it looked like a civil war was breaking out in khobar. The rioters were rampaging about the town smashing things up and assualting people in restaurants and coffee shops, apparently both physically and sexually.

Don’t confuse these riots with the ones in Iran, these people are uncivilized savages who’ve just gone a rampage, I very much doubt that they have an agenda, other than enjoying themselves at the expense of others.

This year Saudi’s national day comes shortly after the Eid Il Fitr a three day festival marking the end of a month of fasting during Ramadan, lots of people visit the eastern province, where Khobar is, during the eid holiday either to visit family or to go shopping in the many shopping malls in the area. I think spirits may have been high witht he two coinciding but it really doesn’t excuse this.

I’ve posted a whole bunch of photos of the aftermath… Continue reading “Riots in the streets of Khobar”

Graphic Novel: Burke and Hare

I’d love for this to be a review, it’s not, I’ve not even ordered this yet but I plan on doing so as soon as my pay check come in at the end of the month.

A graphic novel illustrated by one of my friends “Pix” (Will Pickering) is being released on the 3rd of October, in the mean time you can preorder it on Amazon.

Or alternatively you can watch the trailer on You Tube:

I’ve known Pix for 11 years and this could be his big break, so support a local artist. Pix put a ridiculous ammount of effort into the art, spendign days hunting down the likenesses of even incidental characters who appear in the story. Seeing him work on this has made me appreciate how much effort goes into making a comic.

As a side note Pix ran for the rectorship of Glasgow University a few years back, he lost to Ross Kemp, who later resigned, Pix would have done a better job.

‘Burke & Hare’ is published by Insomnia Publications. Written by Martin Conaghan, art by Will Pickering. Cover by Rian Hughes, introduction by Judge Dredd writer Alan Grant. Gallery art by Frank Quitely, Gary Erskine et al

It’s priced at £12.99

Film Review: Yureru (Sway)

I’ve just finished watching a Japanese film on the World Movies channel called Sway. It’s an odd film what begins as Takeru Hayakawa leaves Tokyo to go to his home town for his mothers funeral leads to series of twists and turns that will change the his life and the life of his brother Minouru forever.

On getting home there is obvious resentment between him and his father, he’s abandoned the family business and gone to Tokyo to pursue a career as a photographer, in doing so he’s left behind his Minouru and thier childhood friend Chieko.

The first half of the film mainly covers Takero’s fathers resentment for him and his lifestyle choice, his father runs a petrol station which Chieko and Minouru work at and it seems that Takero’s father is mad at him for abandoning the family business.

You get the usual City Kid coming home to a small town stoy, and a love triangle between Takero, Minouru and Chieko. A incidet on a ricketty suspension bridge leads to Minoru being on trial for the murder of Chieko. What unfurls are various versions of what happened on the bridge, as the evidence unfolds.

In the meantime the relationsip between Takero and his father evolves, all in all this is a very down to earth film, the character development is well paced and you can sympathise with them even if you don’t quite understand their reasonning for what they do.

Odd Film: Ikinai

I just watched the 2nd half of a Japanese film which “World Movies” was calling “Cant Live” Took me most of the film to find it’s actual name.

The Film is really called Ikinai which my rather rudimentary Japanese translated to don’t go although it’s possible that it’s a homonym for can’t live.

The film is a black comedy about mass suicide… That says it all really, What I missed at the start was a bunch of suicidal Japanese people organising a bus trip to a place which is well known for accidents with the intention of faking an accident so that their families can still collect on their life insurance insurance.

I gather that someone gets on the bus witha ticket originally purchased for her uncle, I don’t know why he’s not on the bus, I guess he died of natural causes.

Anyway this is their story.

I’m not going to say much more about the film because I have no idea what it’s about. But the ending was interesting or at least I liked it.

If you want to catch it it’s on World Movies Channel (Sky 331) on the following dates and times:
September 16th at 5:05pm
September 18th at 3:25pm
September 21st at 5:25pm
September 23rd at 3:30am
September 23rd at 5:05pm

Book Review: Company (Max Barry)

I’ve been trying to get a hold of this book for some time. The only Max Barry book that appears to be readilly available in the uk is his best selling Jennifer Government. I’ve managed to hunt down his other two books Syrup and now company on amazon but i’ve yet to see either in book shops. Which is a shame…
This is Max Barry’s third book, he specializes in corporate Satire, his first book “Syrup” was about a guy getting screwed over by the marketting practices of the Cola industry, his 2nd book Jennifer Government was about a a near future where corporations ruled the world.

Company looks at management practices, The main character Jones is a graduate recruit at Zephyr Holdings Ltd, he’s eager to to work his way up the corporate ladder and when he joins the corporate sales team he finds they are in the midst of a crisis of monumental proportions. Somone has had two doughnuts leaving none for Roger.

Jones tries hard to fit into the company who’s strange pratices and crazy bureaucracy confuse him, it takes him a while to ask the question “What does the company actually do” and when he asks it no one seems to know. His investigation and what leads on from that form the rest of the book which I can’t really tell you much about without ruining it for you. The scary thing is I can believe that it could be true.

Company is a really easy to read book, I’m normally a slow reader (My record for reading one book was 6 years) but I read Company in 2 Days, and thats only because I had to go to work. My one criticism is that having read Barry’s other books I’m noticing some similarities in the characters, I think that Jones is really similar to the main character in Syrup, and the I’m-your-friend-but-you-have-to-watch-your-back-because-I’m-in-this-for-me-but-I-love-you-really antagonist/protagonist/love interest reminds me an aweful lot of the character who played the same role in Syrup. That not to say that they are bad characters, just they are awefully similar.

I’d recommend company to anyone who’s ever worked in a company, or taken a management course, it’s a good story with interesting (if predictable) twists and turns, and it covers novel subject matter.

The sight of blood…

I can’t stress how much i dislike the sight of blood. I don’t get grossed out by blood, i don’t find it any more disgusting that your average person does, at least not on a conscious level, but somewhere deep down in my psyche something really hates the sight of it.

When i was in the 6th grade we got taken on a school trip to a slaughter house. The reasoning was; as part of our religious studies we were being taught the correct (halal) way to slaughter a sheep. So in front of 26 students they slit the throat of a sheep for us. I think i was the only one who couldn’t deal with this, everyone else was cheering in that way that boys do when they are doing something cool, i just backed away as the world started to close in on me and my brain started to feel like it was contracting, doubled over trying not to pass out. I stopped eating red meat for a year after that.

I don’t know what it is, it’s not a phobia, personally I don’t think blood bothers me that much, but something in my head just seems to go “Fuck! It’s that red stuff. Let’s make him feel horrible!” I walked out of dissections in school because i felt ill, and whenever i give blood samples for tests i have to wait 15 to 20 minutes before i can stand up. When i was getting my jabs before going on holiday i was fine with the injections, it was when the nurse was looking for the place I’d been injected so she could put a plaster on it, but couldn’t, after i’d calmly said : “It’s there where the blood is coming out” that i felt queesy.

If i cut myself i can deal with it, i sawed into my finger with a steak knife while opening some packaging a while ago, ran about looking for a plaster, couldn’t find one, and ended up using a cotton bud and some electrical tape. Once the crisis was averted, i blacked out and woke up on my kitchen floor though.

Anyway, the reason I brought this up was that yesterday, while walking to the bus stop we saw a pigeon fly full speed into the glass of the bus stop, and fall to the ground. I burst out laughing,as i thought it was quite comical. The pigeon got up took a couple of tentative steps and fell over. It stopped moving, after a minute or so, as it hadn’t got up again, we thought it might be a good idea to check it was okay, as it hadn’t moved, and we were worried that some neds might kick it about.

I walked up to the pigeon to see what was up with it. It turned out that it had hit the bus stop much harder than we’d thought as it was no longer breathing and there was a little pool of blood by it’s head. I walked away and told Annabel that it was dead, then i remembered that i don’t like blood. The world started to close in on me and i had to sit down.

It’s almost as if remembering that i don’t like the sight of blood triggered the reaction. I get the same thing with heights, i’ll climb up, remember i’m afraid of heights, and just freeze. It’s messed up.

I feel a bit guilty for laughing at the pigeon as it essentially killed it’s self… Thats not why I’m posting this though, I just felt a need to express this.

Posted by Wordmobi

Dream Journal: Chocolate Nightmare & T.E.D.

I had two very odd dreams last night:
The first involved me going to a black tie dinner party with my parents and soem friends of the family. When we arrived at the party the people running were very snooty, and insulted my friend, but not much interesting happened untill the dessert course was served.
Instead of a dessert course we were dropped into a dungeon of sentient chocolate… it was rather disturbing, the chocholate attacked us and we had to make our way through caverns to try to get out. I remember thre being little chocholate chicks that came out of chocolate eggs which then attacked us and I remember there being a huge chocolate fae on a wall that bombarded us with a tidal wave of chocolate. It was quite scary I don’t think I’m going to be able to look at a dairy milk in the same way for a while.
The second dream was set in some mashup of my old flat on byres road the house I lived in in saudi when I was 10 and my current house in Glasgow. It involved the same friends of the family that were in the previous dream, so it might have been a continuation, I think I’d woken up briefly between them though.
There was some commotion happening outside on Byres road, we looked out the window and it was total chaos. People were wondering about with billboards saying that T.E.D. had happened. I think T.E.D. was The End of Days but I’m not sure…
Anyway The TV was saying that there was no point in going to work because T.E.D. was happening, and people were panicking, I was unsure whether I should go to work or not, but it was too early to call in to find out what the company line was. The door bell rang and somone opened the door with a key from the outside, it was apparently somone fromt he government, who had a key because they were from the government. They handed me a pack of stuff to do with T.E.D. One of which was a pamphlet that told us what to do in the event of T.E.D. another was a card with my name and a barcode that had somethign to do with T.E.D. the reason that I was the only person in the house to get a pack was because I was the only registered voter in the house…
The pamphlet said something about invading France, and blowing up the eifle tower because it ws hiding large fuel reserves under it or some such.
The last think I remember was flicking throught he TV trying to figure out what was happening and not findign any info about T.E.D., looking out the window and seeing TV crews interviewing people about T.E.D. on Byres road and wanting to go down there to be on TV and find out what the hell was going on.
On reflection I think T.E.D. might have been The End of Dreams, as I think I had the last bit of my dream between waking up for one alarm and snoozing my alarm for 20 minutes, I think my subconscious was trying to find some justification for staying in bed and not going to work.
It didn’t work, I’m at work now…