Steve Jobs calls this a unique fixer-upper opportunity
This is probably one time where Steve Jobs wishes he had just kept his mouth shut1:
Family claims 28-year-old man died of exhaustion, while Apple’s Steve Jobs claims the factory is “not a sweatshop”.
The death joins a series of ten recent suicides at the Taiwan-based company’s Shenzhen factory, which assembles consumer electronics devices including Wii, Xbox 360, iPhone, iPad and PS3.
Reports suggest the dead man’s family claims that he had been suffering from shortness of breath and collapsed following a 34-hour shift.
For those that missed it, Jobs said that this particular factory isn’t a sweatshop because it has wonderful amenities like a swimming pool. And plenty of time off. Forever.
1 Yeah, right.
2 But not a game journo: they have better things to do than bite the hand that feeds them.
Palm finds relief–Apple, maybe not so much
Whoa: HP buys Palm:
We’ll have a lot of time to see how this plays out in the long run, but for now it’s pretty clear who’s gaining the most from this scenario—and who’s not. The winners: Palm, who gets the white knight they’ve been praying for. Consumers, who get the dual benefits of a healthy, broadly supported webOS and increased competition, generally. And developers, who will have another viable platform on which to showcase their goods.
The losers, predictably, end up being pretty much every other company with a smartphone OS. Microsoft, though, must be feeling the blow in particular. While HP will continue to make Windows Phone 7 products, they’ve gone from being a key partner to a serious competitor in a single afternoon.
This will be meaningless for non-gizmo/tech gearheads, but it certainly is a huge win for Palm and now maybe they’ll have the fighting chance they didn’t have solo. (Or, this being HP, they could be left for dead, the victim of tech neglect.)
A forbidden love, consummated, until their parents get wind of it
Another day, another hack, this time the iPhone is running Google’s Android OS:
David Wong, also known by his hacker name planetbeing, has managed to hack the iPhone allowing the smartphone to run Android.
The video above shows you the whole process from dual-booting the iPhone using OpeniBoot right through to launching and using the Android OS.
Although Wong admits a number of Android-specific drivers are missing, he demonstrates that a lot of the core functionality does work. Web surfing, music playback, sending a SMS message, and actually making a call in Android. He also re-purposed the volume button to make it the Home button in Android due to “a little bit of a button shortage on the iPhone”.
that nosey bitch Mama GOOG probably doesn’t have too much of a problem with this, since the Droid’s potential userbase just exploded providing them with plenty of free marketing until Apple patches the hole up with Spackle1.
1 Yes, Spackle is a proper noun and a registered trademark of the Muralo Company, so those of you that have been using it in Scrabble, up until very recently, have been collecting illicit points! Dad!
Look, it just isn’t working out between us: we both did our best but I think it’s probably better for everyone if we just moved on. Oh, no, no—don’t cry! Look, it’s not you, OK? It’s me! I, I just can’t get into it, you know? I mean, yeah, your skin is smooth as glass and you’re in amazing shape— just look at you! So thin and slinky and, man, most people would just kill to be with you, with all your apps and games and stuff, but this whole touchscreen thing and no buttons? It’s just not working for me…wait…what’s that? Oh my God, is that…ESPGALUDA II?? Oh baby, I didn’t mean any of those mean things said! It was the DS talking, the filthy little whore, she’s just so built for games with all those buttons and a d-pad but just…let me slide my finger around a bit, get some sweat going…oh yeah, you like that, don’t you…ooh yeah…that’s hot! Oh baby, you are so fine…
Going solely by first impressions, you’d be forgiven for thinking that ESPGALUDA II, the latest in (very infrequent) portable shoot ‘em ups from Cave, is the be-all, end-all of the genre: the graphics are stupendous, the music like a choir of angels singing (assuming the choir had access to synthesizers and Yuzo Koshiro) and a control scheme that’s actually better than a stick or control pad?? With a laundry list of features like that, It’s almost like the first time you had sex, only it’s fun and satisfying, with no embarrassing, premature, accidents or performance-related issues–you got in there and did your job as the reincarnation of Don Juan and Casanova combined. Unfortunately, as good as that sounds –and it does sound good, especially, I’d wager, to an inexperienced 16 year-old/shmup-player–it also proves to be, ultimately, its undoing.
The first thing that strikes you about Cave’s latest is, damn, this game is beautiful: Hyper-detailed, entirely 2D, graphics w/ a ‘rendered but not too rendered‘ look that typifies Cave’s output. Legions of enemies rumble by before being exploding into sparkling gold and gems, huge bosses flexing monstrous muscles driving expertly-animated wings careen into view, and the high speed scrolling as oceans of danmaku curtains hove into view as you expertly zig and zag through them, suffer but a hint of slowdown. Truly, it is, without doubt or hesitation, the single best-looking portable shooter of all time.1 Really, it’s completely eye-dropping if you take even a few moments to soak up all the animation and graphic detail, even on the iPhone/iPod Touch’s relatively meager screen estate.
The audio, too, is remarkable, if a bit low-fi compared, at least, to the 360 version. It certainly sounds the part and it is all there, but it seems pretty obvious that some corners were buzzed to keep the file size down from monstrous–it’s almost too bad you can’t rip and use the OST in its stead, but it’s hardly deal-breaking and, in any event, the actual tracks themselves are slick.
So with all that good will built up, secure in the knowledge that this is the be-all, end-all of portable shooters (trumping a large number of consoles ones, in fact) and that nothing could possibly go wrong—that it’s smooth-sailing, easy-going, look ma, no
hands, joystick—I have some bad news: that lack of a joystick/ d-pad and some tactile, clicky, buttons? Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark.
See, this game doesn’t actually play very much like its brethren. Oh sure, it’s still a shooter, you still whip and zip around the screen, encroaching and retreating w/ verve, but it doesn’t quite ‘feel’ correct. Instead of the inherent movement limitations of an 8-way joystick you have virtually infinite, hyper-precise, analog control. And I do not mean analog control as in every game console since the N64—I mean finger to the screen, character moving virtually 1:1 with your thumb, no lag, no sense of weight, as quickly as you an move your finger from point A to point B2. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t love a control scheme that lets you bend the game to your will while barely breaking a sweat? Well, for one (million?), probably every Cave and/or shooter fan on earth.
The problem is that with a complete lack of inertia and virtually-unlimited movement is that it’s married to a game designed for a control scheme with very precise limitations—limitations that simply don’t exist with a touchscreen unless consciously-implemented–which they aren’t–probably for very good reason: whenever an iPod game attempts to emulate a d-pad or joystick it’s always to less-than-optimal results, unless those controls are very limited3. Cave wisely eschewed this path but it, basically, breaks the game.
Not ‘breaks’ as in ruins it completely, mind you, but ‘breaks’ in the sense that it doesn’t play correctly. Whereas with a joystick it would be virtually impossible to perform insane, figure eight-like moves without wide arcs of movement (you can only corner so tightly on something that is bound by binary input), those rules go out the window when you can blitz the screen like a pinball launched into a rubber room. You’ll find yourself, most likely on the first play, threading needle-like gaps through a hailstorm of bullets that would, under normal conditions, have seen the trio of avatars on offer battered senseless, like the weakest-link in a game of junior high dodgeball.4
In fact, I think it’s safe to say, that on “Normal” difficulty, experienced Cave vets will be 1cc’ing this game within 24 hours of buying it, a feat which, normally, is relegated to urban legends about some savant-like player in a dingy arcade in Osaka with extra eyes and an extra set of hands named Wonshishi. Experienced shooter players need to skip straight to “Hard”–which actually feels more like arcade default–to obtain any kind of challenge and, even then, it isn’t remotely as difficult as it should be, i.e. arcade/360 on normal.
There is another way, however, to increase the overall difficulty, but this merely invites iPhone-itis: there are three different control schemes available that offer increasing amounts, in theory, of precision. The problem is, these additional controls, in practice, actually decrease precision as you must make sure you’re hitting the correct ‘button’ which, in any shooter (let alone of the Cave variety), is courting death on each attempt. So, by default, most people are going to stick with simple because it’s the lowest maintenance, least frustration-inducing option but also the most shallow and least-fulfilling, gutting the core gameplay to make it accommodate the sub-standard ‘buttons? you’re lucky we gave you a second one on your mouse’, game-hating, misanthrope that runs the orchard in Cupertino. (There’s also an iPhone Mode but the less said about that, the better which features more, unnecessary, touchscreen tomfoolery.)
What it boils down is ESPGALUDA II is a portable marvel, packing in nearly all the aesthetics of its arcade and console bigger brothers, featuring graphics and audio that laugh the DS and PSP out the door, down the stairs, into the street and under a passing truck, but at considerable cost: ‘cow goes moo’ difficulty with a ‘My First Cave Game’ control scheme enabling it.
In the end, it’s still worth the paltry asking price, and it’s still quite fun (and amazing that it’s running in the palm of your hand at all) but it probably isn’t going to be particularly well-received by long-time fans, is still far too much for casual, pick-up-and-play, gamers (iPhone Mode or not) and, for the rest of us, it’s all over so fast…
Wait, is that it? That’s all of it? Jesus, if you’re gonna give it up that easy what’s the point? I need a challenge—the chase is half the fun—and you just let me run my fingers up and down, back and forth, and, bam!, 1cc! Hell, if you were any easier, you’d have been on your knees before I pressed start.
1 For the hopelessly anal (*raises hand slowly*) there have been some sacrifices made in that not all frames of animation made it over intact from the arcade.
2 For the geeks: think of how DC Comics’ Flash (or Neo in the Matrix) sees the world: everything in motion around him is moving at a snail’s pace and he’s able to sidestep bullets, speeding locomotives and nuclear missiles due to this ‘telescopic’ view of time–that’s exactly the kind of feeling you’ll get when playing ESPGALUDA II on iPod as everything feels like it’s moving in slow motion relative to you.
3 Soosiz is a good example of this where you only have three inputs, tops: left/right and jump.
4 You remember that kid: pale, sickly, taped glasses and not a single athletic bone in his body, mercilessly pounded into submission by an incoming barrage of welt-inducing spheroids—hell, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you were that kid.