Monday 29 March 2010

Zenonia 2 arrives on the App Store

I've just received the following press release announcing the immediate availability of Zenonia 2 (iTunes link).

ZENONIA 2: The Lost Memories Now Available on App Store
Rebirth of ZENONIA, the Benchmark of Classic Action RPG

LOS ANGELES, CA - March 29th, 2010 - GAMEVIL®, a leading mobile games publisher and developer, today announced that the highly anticipated sequel to its classic action role-playing game, ZENONIA™ 2: The Lost Memories is now available on App Store.

ZENONIA 2: The Lost Memories features four distinctive classes including the new range type classes; Paladin, Shooter, Magician and Warrior. Character customization has also improved with millions of costume combinations and thousands of items within the game. Each character has an epic storyline with 152 different maps and 98 quests. Finally, the game provides three different modes; normal, hard and hell mode along with an asynchronous online PvP arena to challenge your friends.

"The original ZENONIA has been a huge success on App Store and we've done our best to meet the high expectations that were already set. This time, it is bigger and better", said Kyu Lee, Head of GAMEVIL USA. "We've added a lot of new rich features to enhance the user's experience by leveraging the capabilities of the device."

ZENONIA 2: The Lost Memories (iTunes link) is available for $4.99 from the App Store on the iPhone and iPod touch.

For more details, please visit

GAMEVIL is a premier mobile game publisher located in Seoul, Korea and Los Angeles, USA. Established in 2000, GAMEVIL has earned a reputation as one of the best companies in the mobile games sector by crafting award winners in a diverse portfolio of games. GAMEVIL is well known for revolutionizing the sector with its original and innovative mobile games, backed by unparalleled expertise in advanced mobile technology. As a world class leader in mobile games publishing, GAMEVIL continues to lead the sector with a commitment to establish mobile as the definitive mass market entertainment platform of the world. GAMEVIL is currently listed on the KOSDAQ Market (Ticker: 063080, Bloomberg: 063080:KS, Reuters: 063080.KQ)

GAMEVIL® and ZENONIA™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of GAMEVIL Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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Wednesday 24 March 2010

Many happy returns of the day Mac OS X

On 24/03/01 Apple released Mac OS X 10.0 to retail. However, my first tentative steps into this brave new world began on an iMac DV SE with the Public Preview Beta in October 2000.

The $29.95 entry fee offered me an early bird view of a bewildering and, at times, profoundly alienating experience. To add dramatic context: Steve Jobs was back as CEO, pundits were predicting Apple's demise (an AOL UK Director told me "The company should roll over and die!"), the iPod was a year away, and I knew of many Mac Users who'd switched to Windows. But, I remained loyal to a fault… This wasn't going to be a repeat of New Coke!

As befits a beta release. The 'gloopy' GUI was incomplete and unrefined in Mac OS X Public Preview. For example the Apple logo was placed at the centre of the menu bar and served no function whatsoever (besides branding). This wouldn't be the last time Apple would break its own Human Computer Interface (HCI) guidelines! Bad Apple.

Ultimately, all I could do was watch QuickTime demo clips from Columbia Tristar - Charlie's Angels - in protected memory (absent in Mac OS 9 and earlier), use AppleWorks 6 (a Carbon application) and send a 'wish list' to Apple's development team. That 'wish list' was very, very long.

Evolution of the species:

Mac OS X Public Preview Beta - September 13, 2000
10.0 Cheetah - March 24, 2001
10.1 Puma - September 25, 2001
10.2 Jaguar - August 24, 2002
10.3 Panther - October 24, 2003
10.4 Tiger - April 29, 2005
10.5 Leopard - October 26, 2007
10.6 Snow Leopard (Intel only) - August 28, 2009

In the early Noughties notable updates included Jaguar (10.2) heralding improved system responsiveness and Panther (10.3) paved the away, for me at least, to wave goodbye to Mac OS 9 (Classic) forever! By late 2003 all my preferred third party applications were natively supported and, frankly, I detested Mac OS Classic and its old world foibles. Incidentally, whatever happened to Panther's 'Piles', which mysteriously disappeared in the release candidate?

The Aqua Graphical User Interface (GUI) set a trend whereby Apple's GUI designers spent too many hours tinkering in Photoshop and had conjured up an inconsistent UI - brush metal and stripes anyone? Thankfully, the stripes of Cheetah (10.0) quickly made way for the 'plastic' of Tiger (10.4) and this has been refined into the unobtrusive elegance of Snow Leopard (10.6). That's my kind of eye candy.

The transition from PowerPC to Intel was inspired and relatively seamless in my experience; enabling users to switch natively (emulation notwithstanding) between a Mac and Windows world (if required). Snow Leopard (10.6) has ushered-in 64-bit support and my aging Intel-based iMac (2007) is 'snappier' too. What would you like to see Apple add to Mac OS X in the future?

Lastly. Mac OS X 10.6.3 would be a great birthday gift to loyal Mac Users everywhere. How about it, Apple?

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Nintendo 3DS challenge to Apple triumvirate

With only days before the iPad reaches retail stores in the US, Nintendo is clearly concerned about Apple and its App Store dominating the mobile gaming space in the future!

Today the company announced another iteration of its highly successful DS (Dual Screen) platform. Not content with DS, DS Lite, DSi and, most recently, DSi XL. 3DS will be released in the next 12 months and will not require 3D glasses! How Nintendo will accomplish this technological feat is unknown at time of writing.

I'm going to play devil's advocate and say that Nintendo will continue to lose market share to Apple's triumvirate - iPhone, iPod touch and iPad - irrespective of any new hardware. However, I can't see Mario Bros. for iPhone any time soon.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Size Matters Not

Forbidden Planet is pleased to announce a signing by Warwick Davis. He will be signing his fantastic biography Size Matters Not at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR, on Thursday 15th April 6 – 7pm.

You may not recognise Warwick Davis’ name but you’ve seen him at work – he’s helped put more bums on cinema seats than Will Smith. Who else has helped destroy a Death Star? Defeated an evil sorceress? Taught magic to Harry Potter? Become a Jedi Master? Hitchhiked across the galaxy in search of the answer to the Ultimate Question? Or embarked on psychotic killing sprees as a gold-obsessed leprechaun? You’ll know Warwick Davis because, at three-foot-six, he’s ever so slightly below average height.

George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Val Kilmer, Ron Howard and Ricky Gervais (amongst others) have all chipped in to this astounding book Size Matters Not. Warwick A. Davis made his screen debut as Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi. His extremely rare condition has led to a career as the world's leading little actor. He also runs Willow Management, an agency representing actors below five feet and above seven, and lives in Peterborough with his wife, Sam and their two children, Annabel and Harrison. This is an extraordinary story.

For more news about our signings please go to:

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars: In Concert

Hollywood composer John Williams' award-winning compositions for George Lucas' Star Wars saga are timeless. And a live concert is the perfect forum to experience them anew.

Guest post by Matt Charlton

March 10th 2010 seemed to come around awfully quickly. I remember when my wife, Sue, bought the tickets (or rather I bought the tickets, Sue decided that they were going to be my Christmas present) that the date seemed far, far away…

The idea of seeing a full live orchestra, playing the iconic music that I’d grown up with, was enthralling.

I was looking forward to the concert until I’d seen a few comments on the web and read a review, which prepared me for the worst. I realise that this may have instilled me with some preconceptions and had the possibility of me viewing the event in a less than favourable light, but I’m glad I had them – I felt happier about going in expecting a poor show and being pleasantly surprised. Knowing there were going to be one or two issues, lessened the impact.

We got pretty decent seats – when I say decent seats, what I actually mean is that the seats were terrible and made the detention cell from Star Wars look super comfortable in comparison. The seats were positioned very well though; We were in the front block closest to the stage, 4th row back in seats 13 and 14. Ultimately, not a bad view, especially since the two people sitting in the 3rd row, directly in front of us, didn’t turn up. Got a nice view of the stage, the orchestra, and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) as he moved from one end of the stage to the other.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), the force behind Star Wars: A Musical Journey, was spellbinding, and authentically brought John Williams' acclaimed compositions to life. The musical performance was everything one would hope to expect. Indeed, at times it was impossible to ignore the goosebumps and hairs on the back of your neck standing up. There were two large camera cranes that were set up to provide video footage of the orchestra, and conductor, as they played. Although the cranes obstructed the stage, it was engaging to watch the legendary RPO playing. The rest of the time, the giant HD screen displayed montages of footage from all six Star Wars films.

The lights dimmed, the THX logo theme pumped through the speakers, and then the RPO started to play the 20th Century Fox Fanfare. This took me back to the summer of 1999 when the lights dimmed in the cinema for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The orchestra burst into life with the celebrated Star Wars main theme.

Following the theme, something broke, there was a pause and an announcement went out that we were taking a break for a brief technical reset. It interrupted the flow of the show but everyone maintained their composure. Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) wasn’t on stage by this point. He arrived pointing out the "disturbance in the force" (ho ho).

Unfortunately the Star Wars video montages caused me a lot of problems as they were oftentimes used out of context! Events started with Anakin on Tatooine (The Phantom Menace) and ended with the final battle on the moon of Endor (Return of the Jedi). Problem is, it looked as though the person who'd edited the video montages had never seen Star Wars. Ever. We had clips from The Phantom Menace depicting Anakin Skywalker as a 9 year old boy juxtaposed with footage from Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi Starfighter arriving at Geonosis taken from Attack of the Clones. Just because Geonosis has a similar colour palette to Tatooine, it doesn’t give artistic license to mix the continuity up. This would be sufficient to irk the most observant Star Wars fans. However, the majority of casual fans should be too engrossed to notice such a travesty. My wife said she loved it. She’s only seen the films a couple of times and doesn’t know what happens (in which film) to the point of knowing a video segment is out of place in the saga's chronology.

This happened all the way through the concert with footage from the prequels being mixed in with the Original Trilogy (OT). The biggest problem for me was that you had these iconic John Williams scores, from my childhood, that were soiled with images of Jar Jar Binks and other prequel failures. I don’t mean that – I’m not a prequel hater, I like the movies and I can watch them. I see them as two separate sets of films from two different eras with a story arc that stretches across all six movies. I can forgive most of Lucas’ meddling with the OT (Except Han not shooting first) but for someone to put together footage from movies to show alongside an orchestra playing it was, in parts, risible. The only parts that worked were the character montages – Leia’s video footage in particular worked okay, despite jumping from Star Wars to Return of the Jedi and back to The Empire Strikes Back!

I’m being overly critical, but I feel at £65 + £6.50 booking fee I have the right.

One highlight, prior to crash landing into a swamp on Dagobah so to speak, is the sequence where Obi-Wan hands Luke his father’s lightsaber. We see a flashback to Anakin fighting in the Geonosian Arena, with a green lightsaber. The spare lightsaber he’d been thrown by another Jedi since his own lightsaber had been broken in the droid factory. That was sloppy. There were plenty of occasions in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin uses the blue saber that they could have used. Speaking of which I realised at that exact moment that the lightsaber Obi-Wan does give to Luke is the same one that was used by Anakin to cut down the Younglings. Creepy.

The sound mixer(s) tampered with dialogue continuity too – when Vader and Luke are facing off in the throne room, Luke on the platform, they inserted “It’s too late for me, Son”, which is from the shuttle station on Endor shortly before their return to the Death Star. More meddling...

At times I closed my eyes and just listened, other times I watched the orchestra and ignored the giant screen. I’d go and see the RPO, again. I take my hat off to the orchestra for doing a sterling job, the art direction/whoever was responsible for the footage needs to go back to the drawing board or at least watch the films.

Anthony Daniels narrated with aplomb. He got a big round of applause for a couple of C-3PO quotes – the biggest being for "The odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field…" (I wanted to shout out “Never tell me the odds!").

Merchandising – they were selling programmes for £20 and small light up lightsaber keyrings for £12. They had a small stall selling t-shirts for £20 and hoodies for £45. Unfortunately, they were all transcribed with the legend “Star Wars in concert” rather than just Star Wars. This was a little bit of brand snobbery on my part, but the t-shirts might as well have said “Star Wars tribute movies!” on them. Having 'in concert’ on the shirt made it a copy of a Star Wars t-shirt.

If you get the chance, go and see the RPO playing the Star Wars music live. If you’re a diehard Star Wars fan who knows every edit: close your eyes and listen. There’s nothing quite like hearing those pieces of music live.

Matt Charlton has joined the Rebellion against the Empire and is switching from PC to Mac.

If you would like to submit a guest post, please email.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Street Fighter IV for iPhone

Capcom has unleashed its seminal fighting franchise onto the App store during GDC 2010. Bringing high-end graphics, complex combos, and a memorable cast of characters to the mobile platform.

Street Fighter IV (iTunes link) is available at a wallet-friendly £5.99. I'd download without hesitation, but still need to complete Heavy Rain and begin playing Final Fantasy XIII on PS3.

Do you plan on buying Street Fighter IV for iPhone?

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Sony launches 3D TV in June

Sony will be releasing a comprehensive range of Bravia 3D TVs in June alongside 3D-enabled products, which will include the PS3 (requires a firmware update).

Tuesday's announcement fills out Sony's 3D launch plans, which began in September last year when it became the first major consumer electronics maker to disclose plans to launch 3D televisions in 2010. It has subsequently been followed by other big names including Panasonic, Samsung and LG.

Rivals Panasonic and Samsung are expected to announce 3D TV availability ahead of Sony.

Sony has high hopes for 3D and expects sales of 3D-compatible sets to be about 2.5 million this year. That represents a 10 percent slice of its total TV sales target.

Read my Avatar slammed into The Hurt Locker! post for further 3D coverage.

Friday 5 March 2010

iPad ships in April: Pre-order next Friday!

Apple has officially announced that iPad Wi-Fi will ship in April with pre-orders starting on March 12th. This lays to rest weeks of speculation.

"iPad is something completely new," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "We're excited for customers to get their hands on this magical and revolutionary product and connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before."

I'll be checking out Apple Store Princesshay next month.

Monday 1 March 2010

Heavy Rain tops UK sales charts

During the weekend there was a serious threat of heavy rain across most of the UK. Thankfully, it didn't materialise in all regions.

Heavy rain may have missed the South West of England, but that didn't stop me playing the chart-topping title on PS3!

Originally, I intended to write a fuller review of this PlayStation exclusive. Suffice to say that this, twisting, thriller is equivalent to playing Batman: Arkham Asylum, filtered through the prism of maverick movie director David Fincher, and savoured sans spoilers.

New Line must share my enthusiasm: the film studio has optioned the movie rights to Heavy Rain. May I suggest David Fincher or Luc Besson?

Once you've played through the game, its replay value will be apparent... Further to this. The Heavy Rain Chronicles DLC will afford further insight into the principal protagonists backstories.

Heavy Rain is an early contender for game of the year 2010! That is all.