nine-to-five noodle ninja 

Wipeout Pure Classic Pack 3 available for download (Japan)

Three down, one to go - the penultimate Classic expansion pack for Wipeout Pure is now available for downloading via the in-game online menu. The latest pack contains a reworking of the Porto Kora circuit from Wipeout 3, a Van Uber menu skin, and two classic Cold Fusion tunes from the original Wipeout, Messij and Operatique. Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1995.

Oh - and the Japanese release date for Classic Pack 4 has been announced as December 9th (from 3pm, Japan time).

Progress report: 220 golds, "only" 69 left to go. I'm still just a Purist - the game ran out of rankings at 144. I expected to be a Legend or something by now. Ho hum. Actually I've kind of slacked off the Wipeout recently, as I've been drawn further into the world of Grand Theft Auto (Liberty City Stories, the PSP title), seduced by the money, the guns, the violence, and the inane radio station chatter. Seriously, you try listening to the adverts for Pilgrim's Pantry without laughing - it can't be done.

Posted by chris at 09:52 AM | Permalink


Wipeout Pure Coca-Cola Expansion Pack 5 Available

The next Coke expansion pack is now available for Wipeout Pure; the password is circle-x-circle-x.

However, I really wouldn't bother. You get (and I'm not making this up) a craft shaped like a Coke bottle - and with lousy stats, too (speed 2, handling 3, shield 4, thrust 3). Yawn. Please let the final Coke pack (due in November) contain something worthwhile.

Oh, and I worked out what I was missing with the previous pack. There was no original craft; it was Coke craft skins for the eight starting ships. So now all my opponents are sponsored by Coke. In every race. Think I'll be uninstalling that little f**ker next chance I get.

Progress report: 217 golds (62+ to go).

(Damn - e-mail from Lik-Sang saying my copy of GTA is on the way... what to do, what to do...)

Posted by chris at 02:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)


Wipeout Pure Classic Pack 2 Available for Download (Japan)

Oops, was going to mention this yesterday, but got sidetracked with a trip to the doctor and an experience with a large blood-sucking syringe. But that's another story. What you really need to know is that the second Wipeout Pure Classic Pack is now available for Japanese editions of the game.

The second pack features another classic circuit — Odessa Keys from Wipeout 2097 / XL — a new ship — Goteki 45 — and a Goteki menu skin. Having played the Odessa Keys circuit, it isn't quite how I remember it from XL... I mean I know it's been re-engineered, but I have memories of large jumps over crested ramps and down into cavernous tunnel sections... this version seems a lot tamer by comparison.

But I'll have to break out the PlayStation and see how faithful my memory is being some other time; it's late and I'm off to Hakone tomorrow morning. Personally, I'm a disciple of the "packing is for wimps" school of thought, but my girlfriend is an adherent of the rival "I'm not sharing a single train with you all weekend unless you take at least a change of underwear" sect. So pack I must.

Oh - I was wondering in an earlier post about the Classic packs whether the circuits contained therein would be rendered in lo-fi or not. Well, the circuits themselves are coloured more like a mix of the zone tracks with the delta pack tracks. Altima VII in particular is largely a gorgeous luminescent cherry red colour. (Odessa Keys seems a bit pedestrain in comparison.) The ships are full-resolution, but the weapons are all 8-bit pixellated lo-fi, like on the pre-loaded Classic tracks. Not sure why, but it's not like it detracts from the gameplay.

No further info on Japanese release dates for Classic Packs 3 and 4 yet, by the way. Though the final Coke pack ought to be out by the end of the month - i.e. within a week or so.

(Progress report: currently riding high on 208 golds.)

Posted by chris at 01:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


Wipeout Pure Coca-Cola Expansion Pack 4 Available

Today saw the release of the fourth Coca-Cola-themed expansion pack for Wipeout Pure (Japan only). You know the drill by now - sneak onto your next-door neighbour's WiFi network and connect via the game's Online feature. The password for number four is triangle-circle-x-square.

I'm really not sure if I'm doing something wrong here, because I've downloaded the pack (which comes in two parts, for some reason) and although it appears to have successfully installed the next Coke skin (another skin! I just don't care!), there's no sign of the "Coca-Cola Colour Craft" that is supposed to accompany it. Any ideas? Me neither.

Progress report... I broke the elusive 200 barrier. Currently sitting pretty at 202 golds, although there's still another 67 to go. And that's not counting the additional tracks due on the next Classic packs.

I've got to finish before Grand Theft Auto is released, though, as otherwise I'll be in the unfamiliar position of having to choose which game to play... How odd.

Posted by chris at 11:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


Xbox 360 Lounge in Aoyama: shiny, white

We walked past this a couple of nights ago, on our way from Las Chicas up to Office in Gaienmae: the Xbox 360 Lounge in Aoyama. It's on the west side of Aoyama-dori, right where the Kinokuniya supermarket used to be, I think - just opposite the Max Mara building and Kotto-dori.

It's all wrapped in white, with conspicuous Xbox logos and according to the press release will open at the beginning of November, featuring "Touch and Try" Xbox stations - though it doesn't say how many - and a 70-seat cafe.

As Kotaku notes, it is in a "fashionable neighbourhood", but at the same time, it's a little out of the way... certainly when compared with Apple's Ginza and Shibuya stores, for example. Also worth noting is that the site has played host to a succession of temporary structures over the last couple of years, and this one is perhaps no different - destined to be torn down a month or so after launch.

So it's not some permanent sales location in the heart of, say, Shibuya or Akihabara. But still, this is obviously a sign of a strong marketing offensive from Microsoft, who are clearly determined that the second Xbox won't tank in Japan like the first one did. By targeting the kind of people who are likely to be strolling along Aoyama-dori, they're presumably hoping to push the "digital entertainment hub" message to non-gamers. (The press release specifically mentions that there will be a) gaming stations, yes, but also b) a "digital lifestyle lounge".)

However, I can't help but think that more and better games would be a far tastier selling point than a War of the Worlds DVD tie-up (which is what they're actually pushing). In Japan, after all, surely gamers outnumber people looking for a DVD-and-hard-drive-based home entertainment center that isn't made by Sony, Panasonic, NEC or a host of other Japanese home electronics firms whose products they already know and trust? Don't you think?

[link via Kotaku]

Posted by chris at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


Reasons to exclaim "Motherf**ker!" on a crowded train, #1

When you're in the middle of the tenth race in a twelve-race series on Wipeout Pure, and your PSP chooses to crash for no apparent reason, freezing the screen and then dumping you out of the game altogether.

I got a few looks for that one.

Posted by chris at 12:19 AM | Permalink


Wipeout Pure Classic Packs - Japan release schedule updated

よ〜しゅ! The Japanese Wipeout Pure website has announced release dates for the next two expansion packs. Classic Pack 1 will be available from 1pm tomorrow, October 7th, and Classic Pack 2 will be available from October 21st. If they stick to that, it will represent a significant speeding-up of the Japan releases, which have been pootling along at not-quite-one-a-month since launch.

Classic Pack 1 contains a menu skin (Tigron), two music tracks (Cairodrome and Canada, both by Cold Fusion and already featured in previous games in the series) and a new circuit, Altima VII. Altima VII is actually a circuit from the original Wipeout (1995! "Ten years, man!" </Grosse Point Blank>), but I don't know if they've included it here as a full circuit, or as one of the blocky lo-fi simulations that was used for the four classic circuits that came pre-loaded on Pure. The former, I hope. We shall see.

Progress report... kind of stalled on 190 golds. Need to switch some leisure time away from non-essential activities (sleeping, eating, girlfriend) and back to where it belongs... that frikkin' series of esses on Citta Nuova.

Oh - and I found a Wikipedia page for Wipeout, which is detailed and authoritive in much the same way that Antarctica is white and cold.

Posted by chris at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


Wipeout Pure "Walkthrough" updated at IGN

I tend to frown on walkthroughs, and I'm not sure this even counts as one, seeing as Wipeout is a racing game and not a "go left, pick up the enema tubing, go back to the previous room and give it to the constipated goblin"-kind of game. But anyway, the Wipeout Pure Walkthrough hosted at IGN has just been updated, so if you're having difficulty with the game, you may like to check it out.

(Progress report: 179 golds.)

Posted by chris at 12:39 PM | Permalink


The Getaway 2: Black Monday - Japan release date announced

So, you remember The Getaway? The PS2 game that came out in 2002 in which you played an ex-gang member drawn back into the seedy underbelly of London's criminal underworld? The one where you had to drive a series of vehicles on missions around an extremely realistically modelled London? Then get out and shoot people / set fire to things? The one with the madly over-the-top cockney accents? The one with the piss-poor third-person shooter control system? Of course you do.

Well, Black Monday, the sequel to The Getaway, was released in the UK late last year. At the time, I had a look around for any signs of a Japan release date but came up empty-handed. As a character from the game would no doubt say, "Faaakin' 'ell!" Well, quite.

However! Cor blimey, stone the crows, me old mucker! I recently tried again and this time hit paydirt. The sequel will be released in Japan on November 10th 2005, or 2005年11月10日, if you prefer. The Amazon.co.jp page is here, if you want to do it that way.

Now, a word or two of warning: the original game was highly entertaining, but, as mentioned above, suffered from an appallingly-implemented third-person-shooter control system in the running-about-shooting sections (among other faults). I didn't mind this too much, as the driving missions more than made up for it. The sheer thrill of deftly weaving a Lexus Coupe through oncoming traffic while haring the wrong way at speed round Hyde Park Corner, with Yardies and cop cars in hot pursuit, was unbeatable.

Unfortunately, all reviews indicate that these problems have not been fixed in the sequel. Which is a real shame, because I bet it's going to look awesome, with the same OTT production values as the first game and (please, please) even more outrageous cockney posturing. So, if ¥7,140 sounds a bit steep, I suggest you wait for a second hand copy.

Right - I'm off to practice my East London gangland patois. Shut it!

The Getaway: Black Monday - Official Site (Sega)
「ゲッタウェイ ブラックマンデー」公式サイト (セガ)

Posted by chris at 07:17 PM | Permalink


Next PSP Wipeout Pure Download Available - Coca-Cola Pack 3

The third Coca-Cola-themed expansion pack for Wipeout Pure is available as of today. To download, find a wireless hotspot and connect via the game's Online feature. The password for this one is square-X-circle-triangle.

The pack contains another Coke skin and, more promisingly, an extra circuit to race. Although, having just raced it for the first time, it seems awfully similar to one of the earlier circuits, just with Coke billboards plastered all over it... I'll check and get back to you.

While I'm here, a progress report for you: the Gold Medal count now stands at... 169. I thought I was doing quite well, until I sat down and counted how many were remaining... seventy-odd. Sheesh. That's the "problem" with these expansion packs... the game just keeps on growing. Better crack on, then...

Update: Yes, as suspected, the Coke circuit is identical to Iridia, the first Delta Pack circuit, right down to the placement of the speed boost and weapons pads. The only differences are the numerous Coke billboards and the predominantly red colour scheme. The game counts it as a separate track, with its own quota of race and time trial medals to be won, but it would have been nice to have a completely new circuit to play with. Thus, I would have to rate this expansion pack as "of interest to completists only".

And anyway, teaming up with Coke, of all things... the very epitome of bland, mainstream corporate branding. It's hardly edgy. Seems like a step back from the days of Wipeout 2097/XL and their Red Bull obsession.

Posted by chris at 11:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


Things I Have Been Doing Since We Last Met #2 - Lovin' My PSP

As regular visitors to the previous incarnation of Tokyo Tales may remember, I used to spend a significant amount of time blogging about my PlayStation2 obsession, in particular the Gran Turismo series. Three years later, we're up to Gran Turismo 4 which, yes, of course, I bought, and yes, of course, I spent four months playing solidly, and yes, of course, threatened to derail every other aspect of my personal life, and yes, of course, I eventually got bored of. (24-hour endurance races? In real time? Even I balked at the thought of that.) That one's doomed to remain lodged at 79% complete for a while longer, I fear.

However, apart from the GT4 and a brief daliance with The Getaway, which only came out in Japan in late 2003, it's been a largely gaming-free existence for the last few years. And then Sony went and brought out the PSP...

Ah, the PSP. With this little bundle of sleek black sexiness, Sony are clearly aiming to do for handheld gaming what they did for console gaming with the PlayStation - not pioneer it, which obviously it's too late for (most people would credit Nintendo's 1989 Game Boy with that), but kick it up a demographic band, into the hands of twenty-somethings who remember their teenage Game Boy years fondly but wouldn't be seen dead with a GBA (or a Nintendo DS, for that matter) today.

While it's not uncommon to see fully-grown salarymen playing with their GBAs on the daily commute here in Japan, it's a different story in the UK, where as far as I'm aware, handheld gaming is for kids. (I'll admit I don't know much about the US or European handheld gaming scene. Anyone?) But with upcoming releases of Grand Theft Auto and (my beloved) Gran Turismo for the PSP - as well as a host of other games with more adult content - Sony are clearly trying to repeating the strategy that served them so well for the original PS and PS2.

Plus there's the whole media player aspect of the PSP, too. While I can't see myself ever buying a movie in Sony's proprietary UMD format (not when the DVD is so much cheaper, better quality, and more widely playable to boot), I *do* use it to watch TV shows on my way to and from work. Recently I've been taking MPEGs of The Daily Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm and transferring them to my PSP's memory stick. It works really well, and at 55MB an episode, you can Curb a lot of Enthusiasm on a 1GB memory stick.

So, PSP = a Good Thing. It's well worth the cash, and it is most definitely *not* your 7-year-old nephew's game console. Or yer Gran's - until Gran Turismo comes out for it, that is...

Posted by chris at 10:09 PM | Permalink


Wipeout Pure Delta Pack 2 available for download

The second Delta Pack has been released for Wipeout Pure on the PSP - the Japanese version, anyway. Anyone with the Japanese UMD should use the in-game Online option to download the latest expansion pack.

Delta Pack 2 contains two circuits (Koltiwa and Khara Descent) and two more skins (Triakis and AG-Systems). This should also open up a Delta Tournament option inside the game.

For anyone trying to decipher the rest of the page, it says:

  • Classic Pack 1 - due in September
  • Classic Pack 2 - due in October
  • Classic Pack 3 - TBA
  • Classic Pack 4 - TBA
However, you might want to take that with a pinch of salt, as Delta Pack 2 was "due in August" but only actually made available on September 2nd.

The brown Continue expansion pack (コンティニュー, in Japanese), containing two additional BGM tracks and a nifty skin (I'm currently using this one) is also available via the game's Online option.

Finally, a couple of Coca-Cola themed expansion packs were released last month, but they're disappointingly slimline - only one skin each. The third one, due in September, sounds more promising, with another skin (groan) but also a new circuit. I'm guessing Coca-Cola billboards all the way along the track :( But we'll see.

Again, go to your game's Online option and follow the Coke (コカ・コーラ) signs. Passwords are triangle-triangle-circle-circle for the first one, and X-X-square-square for the second.

Posted by chris at 10:57 AM | Permalink


Walk without rhythm and we won't attract the worm

I wish my monitor wouldn't shake so much during large earthquakes - what with that and the desk vibrating, it becomes almost impossible to use the mouse when I'm playing Dune 2000. The glasses by the sink are rattling, my CD collection is shuffling inexorably closer to the edge of the shelf, and there's me in the middle of it, trying to hold the desk steady and muttering "Must... control... desert... armies...". Priority check, please.

That's why PlayStation controllers are more suited to gaming during earthquakes - two hands, no solid surface needed. And if you have the dual-shock vibrating version, you might not even notice the quake in the first place, allowing for fewer distractions during those crucial sneak-up-behind-the-enemy-and-garotte-them-where-they-stand moves in Metal Gear Solid 2.

Posted by chris at 08:20 PM | Permalink


GT3 lovers of the world, unite

Okay, has anyone else got a webcam and a copy of Gran Turismo 3 they're particularly proud of? As memes go, it's hardly going to set the world alight but you've got to start *somewhere*, haven't you?

Posted by chris at 09:19 PM | Permalink


Wipeout Fusion preview

Okay, I have set the wheels in motion. Tokyo Tales is transferring hosts; I'm currently waiting to hear from the existing host company regarding the DNS transfer, so don't be surprised if there are a few moments of weirdness over the next couple of days as I try to synchronize the new DNS with my FTP and with Blogger's FTP. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, go and check out a quicktime preview of the forthcoming Wipeout Fusion on the PS2... can't hardly wait, no sirree Bob. (You name *is* Bob, right? No? Oh.) Many thanks to the resplendent Nigel for both that and the flash shoot'emup below.

Posted by chris at 08:12 PM | Permalink


Putting the 3(am) in GT3

Must... *stop* playing... Gran Turismo 3.....

It's nearly 3am, I've got work tomorrow, I've just discovered the delights of the rally courses. Houston, we have a problem. I would have been fine if I hadn't gone and won that AMG D2 Mercedes CLK Touring Car... but then I just had to start racing it.... and from there it was downhill all the way.

This game will kill me.

Or maybe just make me late for work.

Posted by chris at 02:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


Insert credit to continue

It's okay, it's okay; Gran Turismo 3 has not yet swallowed me whole. I am a separate entity, distinct from my PS2. I left the house once yesterday, and once today. See? Perfectly healthy behaviour.

The sunlight wasn't half bright, though. And there were too many people, realistically rendered though they were. And my PS2 controller didn't appear to work so well outside, as I wandered the streets with it clutched in my sweaty mitts. There was no pause button, for starters, and the steering felt funny. Resolution was much better than on my TV screen, though. Perhaps I should stay indoors more ... real world bad.... PlayStation 2 good....

Posted by chris at 07:10 PM | Permalink


I'm very excited

I'm very excited.

I've just gone and bought Gran Turismo 3, a driving game for the PlayStation 2. I haven't had time to explore it fully yet - it's huge, after all - but it looks great so far. What a game.

If it proves anywhere near as addictive as Gran Turismo 1 & 2 were, then I think I'm about to do a passable impression of someone with no social life, at least for the next couple of months. I can see myself calling in sick for a week or two, and relying solely on delivery pizza to fulfil all of my dietary requirements. This may be the last you hear from me for a while.

Posted by chris at 03:16 AM | Permalink


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