Today is Wii U Detail Blowout Day! Not one, two or three livestreams from the Big N but four! And, in addition to the Japanese show that just wrapped up, and the US and EU Directs running in tandem at 3pm BST, an additional Japanese Direct software showcase will be shown at the exact same time. Worst scheduling ever. I’ll be sticking to the EU show and hope a recorded version of the other two hits soon enough after. Anyways, as I say, the Japanese Direct just finished. In brief:
- Launches in Japan on Saturday, December 8th.
- Two packages, Home and Premium.
     - Home will come with 8GB of flash memory and sell for 26,250 yen (£209 or $337).
     - Premium will come with 32GB of memory and a 2-year subscription to Nintendo Network Premium which includes 10% off download titles. That’ll set Japanese gamers back 31,500 (£251/$405).
     - Hardware wise you will get the console and an adapter, a GamePad and adapter and an HDMI cable. Charge and support standards for the Pad will be sold seperately.
- The console will have 2GB of memory, 1GB for the operating system and the other for games.
- New Super Mario Bros U and Nintendo Land are confirmed first-party launch day titles.
- NSMBU will be the first Mario title to launch alongside a new home console since Super Mario 64.
- Nintendo Land will not be packaged with the platform (in Japan at least, although I hear they did the same with Wii Sports so not lost hope yet).
- NSMBU will cost 5,985 yen (£48//$77), NintendoLand 4,935 yen (£39/$66) 
- Games discs will have 25GB of storage.
- The console can consume up to 75w of power, but should only need 45w.
- A second GamePad will set gamers back 13,440 yen (£107/$172).
- Pro Controller will retail for 5000 yen (£40/$64)
In things Nintendo felt they needed to repeat:
- Wii, VC and Wii Ware titles will be transferable.
- All Wii peripherals will work with the Wii U.
- Mario jumps with A. (But he does so promptly with no latency issues.)
Obviously the prices are unlikely to be directly converted to Pounds, Euros and Dollars, but that news will officially come this afternoon. For me to be lined up on day one, the Home version console needs to be, at the most, £229 and come with Nintendo Land bundled in.

Today is Wii U Detail Blowout Day! Not one, two or three livestreams from the Big N but four! And, in addition to the Japanese show that just wrapped up, and the US and EU Directs running in tandem at 3pm BST, an additional Japanese Direct software showcase will be shown at the exact same time. Worst scheduling ever. I’ll be sticking to the EU show and hope a recorded version of the other two hits soon enough after. Anyways, as I say, the Japanese Direct just finished. In brief:

- Launches in Japan on Saturday, December 8th.

- Two packages, Home and Premium.

     - Home will come with 8GB of flash memory and sell for 26,250 yen (£209 or $337).

     - Premium will come with 32GB of memory and a 2-year subscription to Nintendo Network Premium which includes 10% off download titles. That’ll set Japanese gamers back 31,500 (£251/$405).

     - Hardware wise you will get the console and an adapter, a GamePad and adapter and an HDMI cable. Charge and support standards for the Pad will be sold seperately.

- The console will have 2GB of memory, 1GB for the operating system and the other for games.

- New Super Mario Bros U and Nintendo Land are confirmed first-party launch day titles.

- NSMBU will be the first Mario title to launch alongside a new home console since Super Mario 64.

- Nintendo Land will not be packaged with the platform (in Japan at least, although I hear they did the same with Wii Sports so not lost hope yet).

- NSMBU will cost 5,985 yen (£48//$77), NintendoLand 4,935 yen (£39/$66) 

- Games discs will have 25GB of storage.

- The console can consume up to 75w of power, but should only need 45w.

- A second GamePad will set gamers back 13,440 yen (£107/$172).

- Pro Controller will retail for 5000 yen (£40/$64)

In things Nintendo felt they needed to repeat:

- Wii, VC and Wii Ware titles will be transferable.

- All Wii peripherals will work with the Wii U.

- Mario jumps with A. (But he does so promptly with no latency issues.)

Obviously the prices are unlikely to be directly converted to Pounds, Euros and Dollars, but that news will officially come this afternoon. For me to be lined up on day one, the Home version console needs to be, at the most, £229 and come with Nintendo Land bundled in.

It’s rare for me to trade in a console, in fact it has never happened. But for the 3DS XL I decided to make an exception. Yesterday I headed into my local GAME (almost drowning in the process after a burst of British summer showers) and handed over my DSi, knocking 80 quid off the RRP and reducing my fiancée’s rolling eyes to a subtler eyebrow raising  when I told her I had a new toy.

And what a toy it is. There’s only one place to start and that’s with those eXtra Large screens. With almost double the screen size, games are enhanced considerably, 3D effects have a bigger impact and it’s generally a lot better to look at. You may expect an unpleasant stretching effect from the a game’s resolution being fitted over an area almost twice its intended size, but I’ve noticed no such issue.

I spent an hour playing the copy of Mario Kart 7 (review to come) I  got with the system on the XL, then an hour on the original 3DS. It’s amazing how small the first feels by comparison. With Super Mario 3D Land, it’s easier to judge those jumps with an added degree of precision, meanwhile shooters like Resident Evil Mercenaries and Kid Icarus benefit from the bigger screens by having slightly targets to aim for. It’s something you can particularly notice when watching videos. If Nintendo ever meet their full-movie promises, then the XL’s sales could skyrocket.

Another really nice touch is the extra “click” that comes from snapping the 3D slider down to 2D. For my wimpy eyes that can’t handle too much of the third dimension (despite living in it) this is perfect as the original’s slider could slip into 3D with the lightest of accidental touches.

On another click-related note the plastic, fixed-size stylus is one of the snuggest fitted sticks of the dual-screened handhelds. I’ve lost track of the number of times my Lite and DSi stylii went M.I.A. And, providing you’re not a southpaw, it’s easier to access having returned to the right hand side of the system.

Its portability factor has naturally taken a knock. The extra couple of centimetres leaves little trouser pocket room for other gadgets, but that’s what jacket pockets and manbags are for. An improved battery life (up to 6.5 hours) to power the larger screens also allows for greater Street and SpotPass time when the console’s not in use. It’s swings and roundabouts in that respect. On a personal level, it’s rare for me to take any handheld out the house unless I’m going on a long journey. You’ll find me playing on the sofa, in bed and, yes, on the loo. The XL enhances this in-home experience while still giving me the option to play it wherever the heck I like.

On an aesthetic level, it’s the smoothest Nintendo handheld I have ever known. Its rounded edges provide the best degree of comfort since the classic GBA, and the matte finish is an improvement on the glossy finger print magnet of my Aqua Blue.

All in all, the 3DS XL really is worth the upgrade (unlike the move from DS Lite to DSi, which felt like little more than a holding pattern before 3DS) and could even have convinced me to abandon a decade-long tradition of early adoption. The 3DS is great, but the XL is much, much better. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about the 3DS platform, the XL is the model to go for.

TSWLM composer Marvin Hamlisch dies, aged 68 

Marvin Hamlisch, composer of more than 40 film scores including that for the 10th James Bond adventure, The Spy Who Loved Me has died after a short illness at the age of 68. Hamlisch injected a dose of synthesised swagger to the score of Roger Moore’s third outing as 007 in 1977.

Bond 77 (above) in particular brought a funky backing to the traditional Bond theme. But he was also responsible for one of the biggest Bond themes in the form of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better, which he co-wrote with Carole Bayer Sager. But Hamlisch did plenty of work outside of Bond, with scores for the likes of The Sting, Sophie’s Choice and most recently in 2009, The Informant (starring Matt Damon) as well as a number of pieces for theatre. His varied work saw him pick up four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes and a Tony, and was one of only two people to pick up awards from those big four (the other being Richard Rodgers of the legendary pairing Rodgers and Hammerstein).

Source: BBC News

Skyfall - US Trailer

Yesterday saw the release of the international and US trailers for the 23rd James Bond film, due out in October. The States got the better trailer (above), IMO, but that’s another story.

The real story is obviously how great this is looking. Action, drama, charm and humour are all represented. There’s a curious recycling of past plot devices (Bond only lives twice, MI6 HQ is blown up, an Octopussy-like train-top fight) but it’s the 50th anniversary so that sort of thing can be excused. At least it’s a touch subtler than cramming 100 gadgets from the past 40 years into one shot. I’m really, really looking forward to it and with an eager Bond fan at the helm in Sam Mendes, it’s sure to be the best of Bond old and new and remove the bad taste left by Marc Forster’s Quantum of Solace.

Oh, and the score… If that’s Thomas Newman’s handiwork in the background of the trailer I cannot wait to see what else he has in store, it’s just ace.

And then, I put fingers to keys again!

Holy hell, has it been a while. So long I need to go fix the profile for this page to reflect my successful completion of 25 years service to the human race. In short: moving house is hard damn work.

Yes, Miss Amy and I finally have a place of our own and to say it has kept me busy would be an understatement. There’ve been appliances to buy and have delivered, furnishings with similar processes, new windows and doors, countless minor aspects of renovation and a whole buttload of paint.

It’s almost all sorted. Well, there’s still the bathroom to paint and re-tile, the loft to insulate and install a floor for, a garden to make beautiful and a whole lot of crap to move from the ‘rents house… But it’s almost sorted!

And then we can get back to the business of planning a wedding. Less than 250 days to go now.

So, yeah, I’m going to try write some more stuff and not lose my mind with everything else in the background.

maureenjohnsonbooks:

I shouldn’t be writing this post, and yet, here I am, writing this post. Why? Because I can’t stop myself, that’s why. I’m unstoppable!

I am, very foolishly, going to try to explain the ebook debacle AS I UNDERSTAND IT. I do this with the full knowledge that I may get a minor (or major) point…

Neil Patrick Harris is to host the 2012 Tony Awards! He can’t top this, last year’s opening number, but I’m sure he’ll give it a bloody good go.

What do I think of the news that Jenna-Louise Coleman is the new Doctor Who companion? This.

Oh yes, I went there.
The announcement of the 75-year-old crooner’s bid to end the United Kingdom’s 15 year run without a Eurovision victory fills me with a mix of dread, dread and more dread. Reviving the boyband Blue was pretty desperate last year. Get the feeling they’ve scraped their way through the bottom of the barrel and are now six feet deeper than they need to go.

Oh yes, I went there.

The announcement of the 75-year-old crooner’s bid to end the United Kingdom’s 15 year run without a Eurovision victory fills me with a mix of dread, dread and more dread. Reviving the boyband Blue was pretty desperate last year. Get the feeling they’ve scraped their way through the bottom of the barrel and are now six feet deeper than they need to go.

Happy World Book Day 2012, everyone!
And when I say World Book Day and everyone, I mean UK’s World Book Day and all Brits. Something to do with the clash with Easter. Go figure.
Anyways, I’ll be using today as a great excuse to revisit one of my favourite books in the one sitting, Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love. The fifth novel in the acclaimed 007 series, it seemed destined to be the last as Fleming apparently lost faith in his creation. As we all know, it wasn’t the last, but it was certainly the best.
The plot is simple, its execution sublime. Fleming cleverly shows us all the cards in the opening act to the readers while Bond remains in the dark for the second part, The Execution. This first section also introduces the key players, including the toad-like Rosa Klebb and the possibly lycanthropic but definitely psychotic Red Grant.
While the last lines of FRWL seem to spell the end for James Bond, 007, as he recieves the pointy end of Klebb’s poison-tipped knitting needles it was actually a gripping conclusion to an enthralling novel and set Fleming on the way to a golden period of writing. Dr No followed, then Goldfinger before the SPECTRE saga began (with a few short story distractions in between).
All this talk. I should actually get to reading it… Enjoy your chosen read of the day!

Happy World Book Day 2012, everyone!

And when I say World Book Day and everyone, I mean UK’s World Book Day and all Brits. Something to do with the clash with Easter. Go figure.

Anyways, I’ll be using today as a great excuse to revisit one of my favourite books in the one sitting, Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love. The fifth novel in the acclaimed 007 series, it seemed destined to be the last as Fleming apparently lost faith in his creation. As we all know, it wasn’t the last, but it was certainly the best.

The plot is simple, its execution sublime. Fleming cleverly shows us all the cards in the opening act to the readers while Bond remains in the dark for the second part, The Execution. This first section also introduces the key players, including the toad-like Rosa Klebb and the possibly lycanthropic but definitely psychotic Red Grant.

While the last lines of FRWL seem to spell the end for James Bond, 007, as he recieves the pointy end of Klebb’s poison-tipped knitting needles it was actually a gripping conclusion to an enthralling novel and set Fleming on the way to a golden period of writing. Dr No followed, then Goldfinger before the SPECTRE saga began (with a few short story distractions in between).

All this talk. I should actually get to reading it… Enjoy your chosen read of the day!