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Showing posts from June, 2018

I’VE GOT PAC-MAN FEVER [115]

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Nintendo made headlines when they announced the NES Classic Mini, the limited-edition nostalgia machine and cash cow for scalpers on eBay, would be re-released on Friday 29 th June. Anxious not to miss out a second time, I pre-ordered my console directly with the company. I’m still extremely surprised to have received mine in the post ten days early, but if Nintendo wanted me to write a review it, they knew what to do... I have no evidence of that, of course. Firstly, I have never owned a games console before this one. In fact, I never really play video games – I still call them “video games.” I remember wanting a Sega Master System once, which was more successful in the UK and Europe than the NES – it might have been the games available, and the general noise Sega made at the time. Moreover, our family owned proper computers, which the British gaming industry still targeted more in the 1990s – we had a Commodore Plus-4, then two Acorn Electrons, followed by an Amiga 500, before

KEEP IT UP, KEEP IT UP [114]

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In the desert, the large metal head of the singer Grace Jones rises from the horizon. Twisting right, its mouth opens, and a car speeds out across the sand, before screeching to a halt. We glimpse the driver, but the car screeches away. We see the driver again: it is Jones herself. “Yeah,” she sings. Once more, a tone higher, “Yeah!!” Higher still: “Yeahhh!!!” Under the car, a caption appears: “Nouvelle CX2.” The car speeds back into the mothership’s mouth, which twists back, hiccups – a hand covers the mouth from the after-effects of eating the car – and the head moves back down.   When this advertisement appeared in 1986, the Citro ë n CX had already been on sale for twelve years, and will be for another five, but the refresh completed on the car was designed to reinforce its image as one of the most distinctive and unique cars on the road, alongside the 2CV [ link ]. It was a company car, a family car, a grand tourer, and the limousine for a number of heads of state, from J

A COFFEE, A SANDWICH AND YOU [113]

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By now, I thought this story would have been resolved, but apparently not – at least, not yet. While the United States has learned that the restaurant chain IHOP (International House of Pancakes) is temporarily rebranding itself as “IHOB” to highlight the other food on offer, like Burgers, Heinz has left the UK wondering whether it will carry out its threat, announced last week, that it was thinking of changing the name of its salad cream to “Heinz Sandwich Cream,” to reflect how the way it is most often used has changed, since its introduction in 1914. Immediately, I had my suspicions, partly because we have been in the same situation with salad cream before, but because it is part of the company’s history, and because salad cream is already used in “Heinz Sandwich Spread,” a tangy-tasting relish not unlike coleslaw. Heinz invented salad cream, and it was the first product they created for the UK market, having already started making baked beans in the US. It is not common o

TELL ME ALL THE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO [112]

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The Atari 2600 games console was originally named the VCS, for “Video Computer System,” when it launched in 1977, and “VCS” is the name given to the neo-2600 that Atari – probably about the fifth company to use that name – will launch in 2019, having raised $2 million in its first day of crowdfunding and pre-orders. The new VCS evocates the ridged black plastic and woodgrain design of the original console, except using real wood this time, while the voice-activated, Linux-based system with ARM processor is expected to play high-end PC games, along with the original 2600’s games, in addition to streaming video services. In other words, the new VCS is a standard modern computer, but in a box designed to make you feel nostalgic for a forty-year old machine whose abilities were so limited, and so notorious for how it was programmed, it may make those that did program those games want to throw it against a wall. Put simply, a computer will usually have a “frame buffer,” driv