Thursday, September 13, 2018

In defense of Metal Gear for the NES

It's an old story, the MSX version of MG was fantastic but then apparently hopelessly ported to the NES in a short space of time and outside of the control and oversight of Kojima....

But you know what... I have played the MSX version, I've played through it, I've tried to complete it, but imho, for all the supposed inadequacies of the NES version, I actually prefer it.

I prefer the fact that you have to infiltrate the base at the beginning, that is fantastic! People love MGS3 for that reason and I think it is a great touch. In the MSX version.... meh.... you start out in the base already.... not very sneaky.

And as to the fact you don't fight Metal Gear? SO WHAT? Why should you? I actually thought it stupid in MGS that you actually fought Metal Gear, it is meant to be a mobile device that fires nukes.... not something designed for combat with a single man. It stands to reason that it makes more sense to destroy the computer that controls the thing and also the man who is operating it.... which is exactly what you do in MG Nes.... Imagine someone having a fight against an ICBM machine, that would be dumb, it wouldn't be an opponent... it would not be geared up to fight you, and you would be able to take it out easily.... so that's why it doesn't matter that you don't fight Metal Gear.

And above all.....

The MUSIC in the NES version is absolutely superior! The MSX music is painful, dull and something to mute as soon as you can. The NES music is fantastic! It is exciting, it is tense, it is an amazing score and whoever produced it should be proud of themselves.

I could write more on this, but I need to prepare to offer Holy Mass, which isn't in 5 mins, but in 30 mins by the way. Priests should prepare for Holy Mass properly.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

What does it profit a man...?

I was in my local Second Hand games store today, I'm not a collector of games, but I enjoy keeping an eye on how much things go for these days, and I like to see in real life a few of the old games I used to play and enjoy.

Anyway, as often happens on these trips, I was thrown back by the price of a few of the old games I saw, especially some very mediocre PS1 games, games being sold with a price tag WAAAAY beyond their quality! It's incredible! Star Ocean 2, £79! Ehrgeiz, £49! Then looking over to the SNES- Secret of Evermore, £79! And for the NES, Popeye, £79!

It got me thinking a little bit later about the value we put on things,

These games are expensive more because they are rare than because they are good, they are sought after, they have a value from their limited availability.

And then what about my immortal soul?

The crazy thing is, in God's point of view, my soul has a value of an inestimable amount, it was ransomed neither by gold or silver, but the blood of the lamb without stain.

So we are talking like a Stadium Events or something, really rare, super valuable.

And what am I willing to trade my soul in for?

Thank Almighty God for instituting the sacrament of confession....He didn't need to, it could have been a no refunds policy- you trade your soul in once, you've lost it. Praise the Mercy of Almighty God for confession, we can get that Stadium Events back even if we traded it in for Fifa 2000, we can come before Almighty God in humility, through His minister the Catholic Priest, a be restored once again with that precious soul, that soul of incomparable worth- My friends, keep it mint in box, so that when its true owner inspects it He finds it worthy of His collection.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Corpus Christi


Not about video games but about reality.


This morning, I held between my thumb and finger a small piece of bread, and with sacred words uttered in almost silence, I held Jesus Christ, my saviour, my Lord, Who loves me, Who knows me, the lot marked out for me.

I, chosen among thousands, His beloved.

What a privilege! A greater act than the creation of the universe, an intimacy even the angels do not possess. When I am tempted to hold other things, other people, other life options,
I look at Him, Who is hiding between my thumb and forefinger.

HE is Mine and I am His. And I realize that to exchange this for anything else, even the whole world, would be madness, would be folly to the utmost, because I am holding Him, my true end, my lasting good, the summum bonum.

O priest, all this is yours!

To turn away from this, is to turn away from Him.




-Fr. Mark Higginsx
x

Seeing with the eyes of faith.


In a world of playing video games how easy it is to get reality and non-reality mixed up.

Have you ever had that experience of having to remind yourself while sitting in front of the playstation- "you know, this isn't real! What I see on the screen is a myth, an illusion, something made of 1s and 0s."

At the same time as Catholics we often have to submit our minds to truths of faith that are hidden or experienced in a different way "Jesus, My Lord, you are real! What is see in the world is a myth, an illusion, compared to You, the pleasures of the senses are atoms and molecules, prizes and trophies are dust and smoke, but you are real, even though I see you only through the eyes of faith"


And then we come to the Holy Eucharist, the Lord Himself, not particles of bread and wine, but really Him.


To paraphrase Hunger Games


Video Games- not real

Truths of the the faith- real

Cloud Strife- not real

Jesus Christ- real

Playstation Trophies - not real

Heaven and hell- real

graphics and fmv sequences- not real

real presence of Jesus in Holy Communion- REAL.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Going beyond video games


I was recently in Loyola, on a brief pilgrimage to the birthplace of the holy founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius. While I was there I was able to take in the 'chapel of conversion' where Iñigo famously moved beyond the romantic and chivalrous works of fiction he so loved and found lasting happiness in the lives of the saints and of the saviour himself.

The works of fiction weren't evil, Iñigo wasn't reading trashy novels or pornography magazines, he was reading tales that were essentially about virtue, great human qualities, but ultimately forces solely directed to worldly ends, transient goods that pass and fade with the evening.

The hunger that they instilled in him for adventure, for limit experiences, for romance, these desires weren't bad, but they weren't an end in themselves, they prepared him for something greater, and when he found the thing that was the greatest, the One Who is the greatest, He was able to find the answer to the thirst that God had placed within Him, and which the novels ultimately had helped him appreciate.

So, with this in mind, I turn to computer games and I realise that the best a video game can ever be is a distraction from the mundane of this life which serves to remind me that life is about adventure, only the greatest adventure is the adventure of holiness, of striving for sanctity, of snatching souls from the fire and of desiring to traverse the whole world in order to bring great glory for Almighty God.

Ignatius put down the novels and He started living an adventure greater than anything he had found in them. Switch off the XBox, unplug the Playstation, shut down the Nintendo Switch. We might not be called to the same soaring heights of sanctity as Ignatius of Loyola but we can certainly learn from Him where true heroism lies and how the greatest of human virtues and talents and fantasies that we cultivate must be channeled towards the absolute and fundamental course in life- the Way of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Fr Mark Higgins

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pocket PC - the forgotten era of handheld video gaming?

Fr Mark Higgins writes- 

Back in the early 2000s I was an owner of a Pocket PC, I managed to persuade my grandparents to buy me one when I was about 16, I owned, to begin with an HP Jornada 525, later on I had a NEC Pocket Gear 2060, then I had an Axim X5, before finally settling with an HP IPAQ 2495, this probably spans the years of 2002 to 2007, so that's a lot of devices in a short space of time.


Anyway, the reason I had so many of these things was because as a 16 or 17 year old I managed to find my way into reviewing games for Pocket PCs at a website now long defunct called PDArcade.com, in fact, eventually I more or less ran the news side of the site by the time I was 20. The site was pretty popular back in the day and we made a lot through ad revenues and I got a share of the pot.

Anyway, sites like PDArcade existed because PDAs were a major platform, albeit a niche one, for video games. There were other websites dedicated to PDA gaming reviews such as pocketgamer.org, forums dedicated to discussing Pocket PC gaming like, if I recall, pocketmatrix.com, and even Pocket PCs particularly marketed as gaming Pocket PCs, such as, I think some of the ASUS models. Peripherals existed like control pads to make gaming even easier.
And then, of course, there were software companies, often producing really, really impressive titles. PDA gaming, developer side of things, was a return to the days of 8-bit because games, that were selling 10000s of copies were being made by tiny teams of programmers. PDA game development also was a work of real creativity because often Pocket PCs did not have that much storage space. Some companies really excelled at being able to produce games that looked amazing, perhaps at times reaching close to game boy advance and they did so without the size of game going beyond 20mb.
 There was also a thriving emulation scene and at the end of its era the top Pocket PCs were able to play, without problems, all 8 bit, 16 bit and even 32 bit systems- that's quite something, considering that we are talking 2007 being able to play PS1 games released only 5 years previously- it would be like today playing a PS3 game on an iPhone using the hardware of the iPhone.

Perhaps if there is interest I will post some more on this subject, because I might well be one of the closet experts out there on it. I must have reviewed close to a hundred games for Pocket PC and played even more. The pictures in this article give you an idea of the kind of thing you could find on Pocket PC. 

Prices varied and top rate games reached up to $30 I think, but generally a top tier title would be something like $14.99. The place to buy games were the now defunct websites handango.com pocketgear.com and of course directly from the developers. Usually you bought the game on PC and then transferred it over to your PDA but it was technically possible to to everything from the PDA. 

There was a lot of innovation, creativity and excellence in the short lived Pocket PC gaming system. Of course there were ports and a lot of the pictures show this, but alongside ports, developers pushed the limits of the system. Some memorable and excellent companies producing high quality were Hexacto, Ziosoft, PDAmill, Momentum games, Crimson fire, eSoft Interactive and many more.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Final Fantasy 5 book

My friend Fr. Mark Higgins, a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark, England, recently told me of a really cool book he had picked up about Final Fantasy 5. The book is part of the "Boss Fight Books" series on classic video games.

I was able to get a copy myself on Kindle, and for anyone who was a fan of Square's 16 bit gem, I would highly recommend it.

The book is also interesting inasmuch as it is framed though the biographical details of the life of its author- Chris Kohler, of fame to many in the retro game world (through his contributions to the podcast Retronauts and his other authored works) and also the world of trivia (through his membership of the trivia panel in the podcast Good Job Brain).

Who would have thought that Chris Kohler would have had so much involvement in the original gang of Geeks that fan translated FFV in the early days of the internet, and yet that is what this book reveals, he even was part of the team that produced the first English FAQ! And so the guy has some really interesting bits of information to share on the game, its development and on its reception via emulation world.

The book also shows how FFV has become even more popular in the world of internet 2.0 as fans challenge each other with scenarios like- "beat the game with 4 nijas" or "no mages allowed", reading about their adventures actually got me to boot the game up once again and begin a play though.

So thanks to Fr. Mark Higgins for the head's up, if anyone else has spotted a book, game or podcast that might be of interest to me as Catholic gamer and a classic RPG fan, do let me know.