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Portables (Games)

Journal Journal: Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land

Yay! It's GBA Fanboy time again!

For the past few days, I've been playing this, and am told I'm 62% done.

The plot is familiar: collect the shattered object in various themed zones.

The manner of powerups, however, is something quite different. To gain extra attack ability, you don't pick things up. Instead, you breathe your enemies in, then squash them. This will give you any special power the enemy had.

If the enemy didn't have a special power, breathing them in is not a waste. You can always spit them out at somebody else.

There are also three mini-games. One of them is like tennis, except it involves hitting bombs with what looks like frying pans. Another is a race - press your button to go faster, but at certain points you must let go. Finally, we have a shootout-style reaction test thingy.

The level select is like also like a mini-game, with various doors to go through for each part of a level. Certain other doors can get revealed, including playing mini-games for bonus lives.

If you like your fluffy platformers, buy it.


Journal Journal: Fame Academy

I really wanted to tell somebody they aren't required to personally fund the million-pound prize through phone votes. Considering how much I spend on the Internet, thought, that would be a little cheeky.

Journal Journal: Pentax Optio 550

I bought a Pentax Optio 550 just before going on a recent holiday. It has proven to be a great purchase.

Firstly, the important stats: 5 Megapixel (2592x1944), and 5x optical zoom. It comes with a 16Mb SD card, so you'll be wanting to upgrade that. The only other annoyance is the usual digital shutter delay, and the usual half-press, full-press workaround works a treat.

Having got the whinging over, it's time to tell you why it's so fantastic. The key point to any camera is the pictures, and you won't be disappointed. I've been extremely pleased with the results. But the whole camera is very pleasing - it's clear those who worked on it put a lot of thought into every detail.

Take the noise played when you press the shutter, which replaces what would be an uncomfortable silence. You have an option of three sounds, including "meow". The startup and operation sounds can also be kitties.

The menus are also clean, and cleverly designed. The most common options are placed on the top, for easy access. The four-way controller has a separate "OK" button in the centre. A small thing, you might think, unless you've used a camera where you're expected to push the four-way in.

The build quality extends to the rest of the camera, which feels reassuringly solid. Pentax haven't bulked the camera up to make it look more expensive, so it drops neatly in your pocket.

The range of shooting modes and adjustments is wide, too. Macro, super macro, manual focus, time and apeture variable, full manual, automatic/on/off flash with or without redeye reduction, rapid shoot, timer by trigger or remote control, choice of metering and white balance methods, choice of focusing area, and brightness adjust are all there, plus most likely more I forgot.

As well as the gimmicky filters, there are two more interesting special shooting modes. The panoramic one lets you pick a direction, and then take a panorama in it. A ghost of the previous picture helps you line it up.

The other is a 3D image mode. The viewer for this comes in the box. With a little practice, Viewmaster-like scenes can be arranged (but without the Star Wars).

The inclusion of a video mode is normal. Less normal is the timelapse feature. This allows a greater shooting length, up to half an hour and 100x speedup.

The speed of opening pictures in review is super-quick, too. I've used cameras that take several seconds to open a picture. Here, they're right up.

In conclusion, if you buy this you won't be disappointed. I'd certainly make the same choice if I was buying tomorrow.

Portables (Games)

Journal Journal: Wario Ware, Inc.

As the topic suggests, my latest GBA purchase is Wario Ware, Inc. The soreness of my thumbs shows this is extremely playable.

If you're not familiar with the game, it works like this: Instead of one big game, there are over 200 little ones. Most of them last five seconds, literally.

This makes the game play very fast - you hardly have time to realise what game it is, and what you should be pressing, before it's gone. Quite the opposite of the at-your-own-pace feel of Mario games.

The games are grouped into themed collections. When you're playing a collection, they come at you randomly until enough have been beaten to access the slightly-longer "boss games".

Once a section's done, you can go back to it any time. And you don't have to stop at the boss — instead, the games get a bit harder and you go round again.

Any games thrown at you in the collections become available on the "game grid". This lets you practice them, gives a little information on what to do, and maybe a bit of history as well.

There are various other things to unlock, such as Dr. Wario, and the games in the grid can be "cleared" with enough score. I've yet to notice an effect with that, so hopefully more stuff is due.

This truly has something for everyone - if you don't like a game, don't worry, another will be along in a few seconds. Give the shopkeeper your money!

Journal Journal: SuSE 8.2

Just got SuSE 8.2. Nice to see YOU now has an automatic checker, and progress meters. Shame they don't work for third-party addons (like the proper NVidia drivers).

Also, it helpfully detected my scanner, and offered to set it up, without first checking it had a driver. It doesn't currently (it's in SANE CVS apparently). This could confuse users - it shouldn't ask unless it knows there's a driver. People are smart enough to try setting up manually, anyway.

These are minor points though. Overall, the upgrade was more or less pain-free, and you keep spotting neat little fixes. If you have 8.1 on your system and are wondering about making the jump, do it.
Portables (Games)

Journal Journal: Double GBA Goodness!

I just got Bubble Bobble Old & New and Super Monkey Ball Jr. for my GBA

Bubble Bobble is odd in that the screen is zoomable - so you either have squashed-up full-level view, or full-sized part-level view. And the music isn't right for the old version. However, it *is* Bubble Bobble, which makes up for it.

Super Monkey Ball also comes recommended. It does feature rather annoying and pointless unlocking, though. To play the mini-games, you have to play the full game enough and win "play points". At least you get some control over the order, and can rack up points fairly easily - unlike Game and Watch Gallery, where I *still* haven't got everything.

I look at unlocking this way. It's fine if it provides natural progression - say in a racing game, you can unlock tracks by winning races. But when the games are unconnected, it just feels artificial. Games are there for fun, and doing what *I* feel is better than doing what the game feels.

Also, why do developers feel the need to indroduce as many splash screens as possible into games? What are credits screens for?

I would still recommend either game though. I just like complaining :P
User Journal

Journal Journal: Wiki

Just started playing with wikipedia. I'm amazed it isn't chaos. Go empty your brain there, and see what happens.

Journal Journal: More KDE Woes

When using YOU to update KDE after I down-dated it due to my previous mess-up, my modem disconnected. So I got half a KDE update, only it thinks I got a full one.

If you look in the list of items the update installs, some of them are clearly the wrong version. Ah well, maybe I'll get round to bashing its head in straight after MySQL's. But more on that later.

Journal Journal: KDE 3.1

I tried to update to KDE 3.1 off the Linux Format CD. It didn't work and I nearly broke everything. Ah well, all fixed now.

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