The Monday Give-away 06/06/11

Happy Monday everyone!

It’s the beginning of the week yet again, and I have another free 48-hours of Xbox Live time to give away to a lucky winner. This week’s competition will be on the theme of films. All you need to do is come up with a maths related movie title and post it to @explodobot with the tag #moviemaths

So, follow @explodobot on twitter and be in for a chance to win! The winner will be chosen tomorrow night, good luck

Music for the Masses

So, I was driving to the supermarket to get my shopping for the weekend when I over heard something on the radio. As rude as it was, and as much as I will pay for it later, I interrupted my wife by turning up the radio to get a better listen. It was the Zane Lowe show on BBC Radio One, and he was playing something that was very appealing.

The song I was listening to was called, “In This Town of Such Weather”  by the band, Arcane Roots. The sound wasn’t something entirely different; there was a familiarity that was difficult to place. However, the bizarre mix of Finch and Billy Talent resonated with me in a very strong way. After hearing the whole track I couldn’t wait to get back home and onto the internet to do some fact finding.

From the sound of Arcane Roots you would imagine that there are at least four members in the band. However, there are only three, which is actually fairly incredible considering the technical sound of the songs they have. What they achieve with only three instruments certainly gives credence to the saying, “less is more”.

They seem to be getting fairly regular play on Kerrang with their track, “You Are” and as I said before, some air play on Radio One. I would like to hear more from these guys, and I hope you will all feel the same. Why not follow them on Twitter to hear more about their up and coming EP? So, I will leave you to gear up for the weekend with the video for their single, “You Are”. Enjoy!

Konami Press Conference 2011

Over the passed few years the Konami press conferences have been regarded as sort of an inside joke within the gaming press. There is always a lot of build up for what they have in-store for the new year, but more often than not, very little pay off. I’ll be honest and say for the record that I didn’t expect much from them this year. Even more so since Kojima has come forward and stated that Metal Gear Solid 5 will not be announced. Turns out, they had a little more up their sleeve than I bargained for….

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Friday Top Ten – 03/06/11

Friday Top Ten – 03/06/11

It isn’t always the easiest of tasks to decide what sort of apps you want to install on your Android phone. Is it reliable? Can you trust the reviews on the market? Or are there no reviews? I hope that my list of my favourite apps will help you to make the decisions you find difficult.

ACV (FREE)

For those of you who like to read comic books, manga, etc, this is one of the greatest apps ever. A sturdy and reliable comic book viewer, with more settings and personalization than you can shake a stick at. It also handles a plethora of file formats making it an absolute must for the traveling comic fan.

Flixster (FREE)

Not the most innovative on the market, but at the same time very useful. Do you want to know all of the cinemas close to you, and what is on? Well, fret no more, the Flixster app is here! It will not only tell you where your nearest cinema is and what is on, but it gives you access to reviews, trailers and much more to help you make the all important decision what to see.

Spark 360 (PAID)

Ilove being able to see who is online and what they are playing, even when I am not near my Xbox. This app allows you to check on you friends, gamer score, send messages and lots of other little things. Once of the few apps I would consider paying money for. As an added bonus there is a nice little widget that displays your last played games and a picture of your avatar.

Admittedly, this is a little biased as I haven’t mentioned a Playstation app. Mainly due to my lack of PS3, but also because the counterpart for Spark 360 is no where near as good. This may be down to the restricted API access that Sony have by comparison.

Springpad (FREE)

If you are like me, you have a million and one things you want to watch, do, write, listen and so on. If this sounds familiar, then Springpad could be the organizational tool you are looking for. A visual list system allowing you to bundle things into collections of tasks; like movies to watch, albums to listen to, washing to do etc. You can even use your Google account to sign up for it, meaning there isn’t yet another set of login details for you to remember. There is even a counterpart website so you can make adjustments on either your handset or PC and marvel as they synchronize all of your important stuff to do.

Amazon App Store (Download and side load)

I have already sang the praises of the Amazon App Store this week, but I feel it warrants another mention. If you want access to a whole host of other applications you don’t normally get on the Android Market Place, then this is the app for you. With a paid application being given away for free every day, it makes sense to pick this up soonish. Although not officially available in the UK yet, you can follow my tutorial on how to get it up and running.

Astro (FREE/PAID)

If ever the occasion arises that you need to find a file, copy a file, unzip a compressed file and other file related things, Astro is what you need. A fully functioning file manager, picture viewer and more.

Game Dev Story (PAID)

To be honest, this is not the best game available on the Android market. It’s control scheme doesn’t use the hardware to its fullest and there are more original titles around. However, the one thing this game has provided me is hours of entertainment. It is stupidly easy to hooked into playing this game; you can literally watch the intended minutes turn into hours. Great fun for a mobile game and it reminds me a lot of the classic Bullfrog style games that I used to have so much fun with.

Pulse (FREE)

Using RSS feeds is a great way to stay up to date with all of the news you care about as soon as it is posted, but wouldn’t you like to make the experience a little more like reading a paper or magazine? Pulse is a fully functioning RSS reader that lays out all of your content in to strips for each feed, and you can even sort them into different pages for different types of news. I would normally say for RSS readers are better off being kept simple, but Pulse provides more than just a novel experience.

TV Guide (FREE)

Back in the days before the digital switch over, when I got TV reception, I used to use this app all the time. Nothing fancy, just a mobile TV guide. The great part is that you filter out the channels that you don’t get – in my case all of them – so
that you aren’t disappointed when you see something is on that you can’t watch. Another notable feature is the movies tab, where it amalgamates all of the movies that are on for the day into one big list.

IMDB (FREE)

I use this more than I would ever really want to admit. Ever time I am watching a movie or TV show there is always “that actor”, that you remember, but can’t quite place. Essentially a shortcut to the website, but set out in a way that makes it more user friendly on a mobile phone.

Doubletwist (FREE/PAID)

The media experience is truly behind the curve on Android; especially when compared to the likes of WP7 and iOS. Fear not, Doubletwist is here to help you make your music/video experience more pleasant. You can download the software from the website and install it to your PC, allowing you to sync your music collection to your phone, or set up podcasts. The paid version of the app allows you to do all of your synchronizing without wires. Very handy indeed, but it all depends if you are willing to pay the £4 to upgrade to the full version. I am still using the free version at the moment.

I was going to have links to the web-based Android Market for each of the applications, but I seem to be getting lots of internal server errors…sigh. Anyway, you can blame Google for that and not me. Do you know any other good Android apps that you think deserve a shout out? Why not pop them in the comments and let other people know about it. Chances are I have missed a few, and I love it when I hear of new apps!

The Monday Give-away 30/05/11

Much like a certain cat, I really hate Mondays! Being out of work at the moment makes them more bearable, but I would guarantee that most people dislike the start of a new week . In a change of pace for this weeks give-away, I would like to have a little challenge for you all.

Once again, I have a free 48-hours of Xbox Live time for a lucky winner this week. To win, all you need to do is send me (@Explodobot) a tweet with the hashtag #foodgames. To give you an example of something I thought of earlier:

“@Explodobot Left 4 Bread #foodgames”

I know, I know, it’s really awful. Do you think that you can do any better? Hopefully so. I will pick the best of all the entries tomorrow night, so get your ideas in!

Friday Top Five – 27/05/11

Here we are again everyone! Yet another Friday, and the weekend could not feel further away.  However, I have for you this week, a selection of my favourite remixes – top five only this week. I find it quite interesting that I am not the greatest fan of any of the songs before the remix; and not only that I don’t tend to like the artists either. Weird no? Once again they are in no particular order, because I really can’t ever decide what order.
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Online Gaming? Nintendon’t!

Online gaming is something I have been involved in since it’s infancy on PC. I played Age of Empires and many other games using a good old 56k modem. The experience was of course lacking to say the least. In recent years online gaming has been given the boost it needed, by making it more accessible and easier to use. Systems like Xbox Live and PSN – I won’t go into the whole, “it not working properly yet” part – have made internet gaming available and popular.

There is, however, one company involved in the console market today who just can’t seem to get it right. As you can probably tell by the title of the article, that company is Nintendo. Not only is there a distinct absence of a coherent online gaming platform, but it would seem that Nintendo have had very little interest in making one. With the success of the Wii and DS without a popularised net environment, I can understand that they have the option to leave it.

Now with the next generation of consoles on the horizon – the next portable generation is already here! – Nintendo are going to have to put some serious consideration into making there next machine worthwhile playing online. Nintendo are the number one company for hardware sold at the moment, but with dwindling sales of the Wii and a mixed response to the release of the 3DS, I would think it fundamental that they get themselves kicked into gear. The majority of Wii owners barely use the things; they remain dusty and unloved under the TV table, or in some cases still in the boxes. The last thing these people are going to want to do is go out and buy the next big gimmick and have that sit under the table too.

What can Nintendo do? The answer is quite simple…conform. I don’t want them to give up their identity and the uniqueness that they have as a company, but would it kill them to have a damn friends list for the online play!? To my mind here is exactly what Nintendo need to do to bring their next console from gimmick to essential:

  • Friends List: Like I said before, this is a vital addition to get people playing online and not just at home, or when there are friends over. The friend codes, despite being safer for children to use, are nothing but a hassle. In some cases you need different friend codes for different games, which is just ridiculous when you think about it. It seems this issue is part-way to being fixed with the introduction of the friends list on the 3DS. With that, the friend code is a one-time thing and once you have input the code, the person is added to a friends list; not as a code, but as the persons name. This is far better than before.
  • Online Store: I like the idea of buying all of the older games through the virtual console market, because there are some classics. However, the selection of WiiWare – Nintendo’s ‘homebrew’ games for the Wii – is nothing short of atrocious for the most part. With such amazing – sarcasm – titles as “5-in-1 solitaire” and “Let’s Catch” it isn’t a wonder I rarely visit the Wii Store. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really great games on the store, but it is the bad ones that are remembered. There are sadly more bad than good.
  • Demos & Trailers: One of my favourite parts of the Xbox Live experience is finding all of the new playable demos and watching the newest game trailers. A service like this would certainly spice things up for Nintendo. I find that watching the trailers for games makes me more likely to buy them, so it would be with in their best interest to get the videos and demo games online.
  • Chat: The Wii’s version of online chat is awful. My anecdotal proof of this is that when my friends were playing Monster Hunter Tri – one of the few Wii games to support voice chat – instead of using the console’s own chat system, they opted to run a Ventrillo server on their PCs instead. It needs to be better.

Bear in mind that I am stating all of this from the mindset of the “hardcore gamer” – really dislike that term, but it seems to be the most descriptive. So, when I am asking for these things it is because the Wii was not exactly what I wanted from a console. At the same time though, it wouldn’t have taken much for it to have been what I wanted.

At the moment, Nintendo consoles are like the video gaming equivalent of karaoke machines; when everyone is drunk, you bring them out. There are so few things they need to do to make this next generation a success for them in more than one way, and it would be a great disappointment to me – and many others – if they don’t make the changes.

E3 is fast approaching, and with it, the first legitimate look at Nintendo’s next console – “Project Cafe”. My excitement levels are reaching fever pitch as I can see that the rumours are hinting at a console that is aimed at more than the casual market. But, if this ends in disappointment it will be for the very last time. My hopes are that they will really blow everyone away with what they have to show…so come one Nintendo! Hit this one out the park! And if you think that is me hinting that I am looking for a new Wii Sports style game, you are wrong.

The Monday Give-away 23/05/11

Another Monday morning, it’s wet and windy outside – where I am anyway – and yet, I have something to cheer you all up. That’s right! Another freebie courtesy of myself and the Explodobot.

Obviously, I can’t afford to give-away huge prizes, but I do have yet another free pass to Xbox Live pass. Why not take advantage of the gift and get a free 48-hours of online gaming?

How do I claim this truly incredible prize I hear you ask? Well, it couldn’t be easier….

01) Follow @stephenking85 on Twitter (That’s me!)

02) Then send me this message:

“I read Explodobot, now give me my prize”

03) First person to do that will get a PM with the code

How about that? It couldn’t be easier. So, why not take advantage of some free time on Xbox live and have some fun on this dreary day.