Welcome to my blog - Read and enjoy

Thank you for visiting my Scooby1970 blogspot. I update whenever I can and when I have something interesting to share. You will also find published work of mine at Gaming Illustrated. Gaming Illustrated is where most of my work now takes place, but I will transfer some of my more popular articles from there over to this blog, in extended format.

Feel free to email me at:
Google+: www.google.co.uk/+MarkAdams1970
Feel free to add me to your PS3: scooby1970
Flikr - My Photos: www.flickr.com/photos/markyboyo/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/scooby1970
Twitter: www.twitter.com/markyboyo

I've just started a new blog for my upcoming book releases: http://mark-adams-writes.blogspot.co.uk/

Also check out my 10 Quick Facts for more sites I run.

Enjoy the blogs, and relive my ups and downs in life, view some interesting reviews and just enjoy the site. If you are interested in learning something about some of my favourite music then click here it's the official Jan & Dean Site that has taken me and my friend from across the sea, June many years to keep updated.

:) Mark

Monday, 8 August 2011

The riots in London 2011

Well, not being from London or from a large city I'm not all that familiar with the attitudes of the people of London. In fact, I couldn't give a toss what their attitudes are. As an outsider looking in, I, and many people I know are in utter disbelief of the total and utter disregard these thugs and rioters have for the general upstanding population of the UK.

From what I can see on the news, over the internet and from other sources such as Twitter and Facebook, the majority of the people involved in these riots are black youths, many of whom started off protesting at a killing of an armed gunman. Since then, more youths have jumped on the bandwagon and are now rampaging the streets of London themselves on a journey of wanton destruction.

The weak Con-Dem Government we have seem to be letting the criminals get away with anything they desire, and the Police seem to have their hands tied by the lefty "Human Rights" activists who seem to have a hold on everything lately.

What we really need is to set an example to people who intend to brake the law. Rubber bullets, tear-gas and water cannons should be used  in these situations, it works elsewhere in the World and it needs to be used in the UK before the criminal element take control of the streets. Every single individual involved should be prosecuted, with the ring-leaders being sent to prison and the keys thrown away.

Failing that, if the rioting in an area continues for more than two nights, I would have no objection to the army being called in, fully armed with riot-gear and mowing down scum who roam our streets. These people have no human rights when they blatantly disregard other peoples human rights.

I have nothing against protests, nothing against Police doing their jobs, nothing against people having their voices heard. But deliberate rioting needs to be squashed with an iron fist before it becomes the "norm" in this country.

Rant over. Just the views of a normal, everyday Welshman.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A new blog!

I have started a new blog to run side-by-side with this blog. It can be found at http://linuxreviewsandguides.blogspot.com/ and will concentrate on me dealing with Linux issues and news etc.

This will free up this blog to be a more general blog again, and hopefully it won't bore-off all the regular readers!

:) Mark

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Cloud with Ubuntu One

For all you users of Ubuntu and Pinguy OS (and any other OS who use this) then there has been some awesome news on the Ubuntu One front.

To celebrate One Million users, Ubuntu One Cloud based storage has now been upgraded to 5GB FREE cloud storage space! Previously this was set to 2GB which at the time seemed like a good deal anyway.

So, I know some of you will be wondering exactly what cloud storage is. Well, think of it as storing all your documents and file in space. As an Ubuntu derivative user you will automatically get an Ubuntu One account. All the files you place into the "Ubuntu One" folder get automatically synced to the Cloud, so you will always have your files available on any computer as long as you have internet access! Of course, if you've delved even slightly into cloud computing you will know that this is the future of computing, though for me its more a case of having somewhere to back up my important files and photos.

Why should you use Ubuntu One? Well, for starters 5GB is a huge amount of online storage, and its all free and seamlessly integrated into your OS. Unlike other online storage solutions, you are not tied to the size of your files either, so you can genuinely use the whole 5GB as you wish. Its a fantastic idea and one that every Linux user should be doing.

Ubuntu One is also available to Windows users, though I am not sure how integrated it becomes. That said, you can upload and download via their web-page should you ever need to do so anyway. There are also paid options of Ubuntu One, plus you can stream your cloud music to your mobile phone, how cool is that?

Get yourselves an Ubuntu One account today by visiting https://one.ubuntu.com/

:) Mark

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Pinguy OS 11.04 review

You may remember in April that I reviewed Ubuntu 11.04 and gave it my initial impressions and thoughts. Well, since then I have really used and abused Ubuntu 11.04 like no other OS before it. It has been a real work-horse and performed really well, however it did do something I had never experienced with a Linux distribution before... it crashed! Not a blue-screen error type windows crash, but a more subtle re-set to log-in screen crash, that while not serious, was just annoying and meant that sometimes some of my work was lost.

So, the search was on for another OS. I still wanted Ubuntu, but I wanted it to be a more stable version. At first my search took me to Linux Mint 11.04, but reading through the forums and watching various reviews I noticed there was a new distro in town, something called "Pinguy OS 11.04". Based on Ubuntu 11.04, but using Gnome 2.x instead of Unity, this distro mashes up all the best parts of Ubuntu and Mint and in a meaty 1.4GB download gives you an OS that has everything you ever need straight out of the box. This time, even the codecs are included in the download, so even a Live CD runs perfectly!

So, I installed Pinguy, and the first thing that blew me away was the speed of installation. It took no more than 10 minutes for the full install, that's the quickest I have ever installed an Operating System! On using the OS for the first time, you notice that Pinguy has a huge (and I mean HUGE) selection of software installed. The only tweaking I performed was to add UMPlayer and Banshee as they are my favourite players, and Pinguy uses VLC and Clementine as the two main music players (both are great, but just not what I use). And, for those worried about Flash Video, Pinguy OS runs full-screen Flash Videos perfectly out of the box!

Talking of installed programs, "Libre Office" is the main office suite, "Shotwell" is the photo management program, "Firefox 5" is the default browser, "Skype" is installed as standard, "Ubuntu Tweak" and "Ubuntu Software Centre" are present plus "Thunderbird" and "Empathy". This list just skims the surface though, as there is so much available.

"Wine" has been built into the OS, so if you download a Windows .exe file then Pinguy will just treat it as part of the system. No configuration or anything needed, and if you're coming from windows, this makes it such a doddle to use.

Considering everything Pinguy has to offer, you'd think it may be lacking in speed due to all the software, however, nothing can be further from the truth! This OS speeds along faster than any distro I have used before it. Things open up quickly and considering the age of my system (1GB memory, 3.2Ghz AMD Athlon) Pinguy really is fast!

The desktop of Pinguy is a little different to Ubuntu 11.04. There are two docks, one on the left of the screen and one on the bottom. Each one can be configured and added to/deleted at will and the use of "Docky" is excellent in this case.

One brilliant thing is that anything available for Ubuntu also works in Pinguy OS, so I still visit and use the "OMG Ubuntu" website for all my Ubuntu needs.

So, who is this Operating System for? Well, anyone who wants a great and easy to use Operating System with everything ready to go out of the box. Anyone experiencing problems with Ubuntus Unity interface,  or anyone just wanting a change. Pinguy OS 11.04 is a new distro, and the first version was only back in 2010. As it stands they are already climbing the way up distrowatch, so its a real distribution thats making waves as we speak!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

My Top 100 games of all time.

Welcome to my top 100 games of all time. When I say all time, I mean since I first started gaming back in 1977. So, for the most part, that really is “all time”!

These are games that have had an impact on me, games that I have gone back to play more than once, games that have left me wanting more and games that are just so much damn fun!

In this top 100 titles you will find listed a single game or a game series. I have listed game series as a single entry when there is not much to choose between them. It may seem a little unfair, but with so many games to choose from it was the fairest way.

So, how do I qualify for making this list? First off, I've been an avid gamer since the mid/late 70's, secondly I've owned or had access to every commercially available console minus only a few minor releases and thirdly I love gaming on any platform as long as its a good game. Over the last two years I've been compiling this list, going back to old games, playing new games and re-examining what I think about each title. Its actually been hard work, but I've enjoyed it!

Please read and enjoy this list. It is meant to be a list of games that you just have to experience, and without these games in your life, your gaming knowledge and enjoyment is missing that little something.

As in all top 100 lists this list is my personal taste. Its ok not to agree with it! I'll tell you now I'm not a huge one for namby-pamby games and much more an arcade thrill type of guy... So, sit back, read and digest – the console/gaming machine mentioned in the brackets after each game is the version(s) I have played... let me know what you think.

100. Pong (Pong Machine) – The very first video game I ever played. Simple by today's standards, but I spent many hours on it and it is no doubt the game that got me into gaming in the first place. It needs no description as it is a complete classic.

99. Snake (Mobile Phones/PC) – Without a doubt, this game was played so much on mobile phones and PC's that everyone has a memory of it. Its simple, its fun and I have played it for many hours over the years.

98. Donkey Kong (Intelvision/Atari/CPC) – One of the all time classic computer games. Four stages of Donkey Kong platforming, the Amstrad CPC had an arcade perfect version called “Killer Gorilla” which was simply awesome!

97. Frozen Bubble (Linux PC/Mobile Phones) This is basically a rip-off of Bust-A-Move although is so fun to play it itself it deserves a place in my top 100 games. It's bubble popping at it's very best with some great sound effects and graphics.

96. Scramble (Arcade) – One of the earliest side-scrolling shoot-em-up titles that really grabbed my attention. Scramble was insanely hard once you got past the first few levels, yet it had the one-more-go factor that has made me replay it now and again over the years. For its day it had great graphics and sound, and with a mixture of game play styles on each level, it really stood out from the crowd.

95. Alien 3 (Megadrive) – Based on the film of the same name, Alien 3 sees you take control of Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weavers character). An impressive platform game with a huge play area, it looked and felt like something quite special. Even the sound on the Megadrive version was brilliant. The first level sees you trying to rescue prisoners from a great underground World, and although I never got much further, the game kept me coming back for more and more.

94. Space Invaders (Arcade/Various) – I don't think there is any game I have played on more systems than the classic Space Invaders. Although simple in design, Space Invaders still captures the imagination. You control you little spaceship at the bottom of the screen and the idea is to destroy the incoming aliens. Early versions of the game tend to look and play very simple, however some of the later versions still give you an amazing game today.

93. Highway Encounter (CPC/Spectrum/C64) – Highway Encounter was a 3D isometric view strategy/action game that seen me spend many hours of my teenage life playing. Its an unheralded classic in every way and has recently been remade as a PC remake. The game sees a continually moving robot advance up the play area while you use your character to unblock the way, shoot enemies and generally ensure that it gets to the end of the level safely. Fun, engaging and unique, sadly this type of game is not really seen anymore.

92. Micro Machines (Megadrive) – Two player top-down car racing in a minute car in a huge world has never been so much fun! The Micro Machines games were simple and addictive fun that could sometimes be frustrating yet always kept you coming back for more. One of the great series of games released that seem so hard to play today!

91. Thrust (CPC/Spectrum/C64) – You control a spaceship by simply thrusting its engines and turning left or right as it descends/ascends, the idea is then to latch onto its cargo (a big ball) and carry it through a maze of caves. Gravity of course doesn't make this easy, and later levels sees reverse gravity which makes it almost impossible! A simple yet brilliant game that supplies and supplied hours of fun.

90. Super Mario Brother 3 (Snes) – I know this makes a lot of peoples top 10's, but for me although it was fun, it just got on my nerves! Sure, there is plenty to do, and it looks fine, but it just doesn't grab me as much as it seems to have grabbed other people. All that jumping around, hidden areas, cute characters make it something that a certain kind of person really seems to enjoy.

89. Bubble Bobble (Master System/CPC/PS2) – If only for the fantastic theme tune, Bubble Bobble is an addictive game in both one and two player mode. You control Bub (and Bob in two player mode) and have to run around a maze bursting bubbles in order to progress to the next level. Its sometimes hectic, always fun and never boring.

88. Virtua Cop 2 (Saturn) – On rails shooters can be a hit or miss affair, however Virtua Cop 2 does it just right. Even without a light-gun Virtua Cop 2 is still fun to play. Almost arcade perfect, this game pushes the Saturn to it's maximum and each game draws you in for more.

87. WRC 03 (PS2) – The first of a number of racing games to be included in this list. WRC 03 is a fantastic rally game that really pushes the PS2 to do something very special. It's fun to play, the control is spot-on and the game just works as a Rally game should.

86. Populous (Megadrive) – I've never been one for “God” games, but for some reason Populous holds a soft spot in my heart. You play God, and have to control the entire world. You battle with foes, battle with the elements and generally do a lot of Godly things. Brilliant game that still is enjoyable today.

85. Zub (CPC) – Great theme tune, adequate graphics and just a fun game. Zub is a game not known by many, but a game I spent a huge chunk of my youth playing. Guide your character Zub to the top of the floating towers while shooting bad guys, transport to the next level and move on. Again, the simple things work best.

84. Donkey Kong Racing (Snes/N64) – This is one fun racing game that plays very well. Its got the typical Nintendo fun game play mechanics and some really great graphics that at the time pushed the machines to do something special at high speed.

83. Phoenix (Arcade/CPC/PC) – Not another Space Invaders clone? Yes it is, and just like Galaga this game takes the concept and improves on it. A great classic game in every way that is always fun to play.

82. Body Blows (Amiga) – THE fighting game for the Commodore Amiga was Body Blows. It came on 5 or 6 disks, was available in an advanced version (which I had), and at the time was the beat-em-up of choice for me. Playing the game today, it still looks good, however, it does not play as well as any of the other fighters in my top 50 list. Still, a classic game that gave me endless hours of fun.

81. Defender (Arcade/Various) – Another old game from the dawn of time. Defender is hard, it's unforgiving and it's a nightmare to play if you just dip into it. That said, it's a brilliant game that can reward if you have the patience.

80. Uridium (C64) – Playing Uridium on a 42” LCD now reminds me that even quite simple graphics and sound can be really addictive. This game is hard! But when you are on a roll you get a great feeling of reward. I've got to level 7 and it was a shear fluke, but I love this. The only C64 game in my top list, but what a damn fine game!

79. Wonderboy (SMS/CPC/C64/Arcade) – Side scrolling platform games don't come much more iconic than this classic game. Wonderboy has some great game-play and has some brilliant power-ups that let you explore the levels and have some great fun. Where else can you ride a skateboard and throw axes at enemies?

78. Virtua Tennis 2/3 (Dreamcast/PS3) – Some sequels are as good as each other, and Virtua Tennis 2 on the Dreamcast and 3 on the PS3 are both great tennis games. This is an arcade version of Tennis and thus is really fun to pick up and play.

77. Bejeweled 2 (Mobile/PS3) – This game is so easy to pick up and so hard to put down. Played mostly on my mobile, this game is seriously addictive. The only mobile phone game listed in my top 50, it's simple and effective and so very playable.

76. Sorcery Plus (CPC) The 8-bit gaming generation give us many classics, but Sorcery above all else showed us then when pushed the Amstrad could be better than any other 8-bit computer out there. Brilliant sound and graphics and a great flying platform game theme, this game was the pride in my Amstrad collection. It took me ages to finish, and playing it now I forgot how hard games used to be.

75. Tomb Raider (PS1/PS2/PS3) – This is a series of games that I have never completed. Not one of them! They look brilliant, they play well, they just get me lost at certain points and I can never complete them. The series still gets into my chart though as they are damn good games.

74. Tempest (Arcade/PS2) – The first time I played this game I didn't have a clue what was going on. I was about 10 years old, and I did not get very far in it. Thirty years later I can get quite far, and although it does ramp up difficulty really fast this game is an all time classic.

73. Desert Strike (Megadrive) – 3D-esque graphics that we'd not seen before, Desert Strike showed a generation that 16-bit games could be original and awesome. Flying through the deserts in your little helicopter and destroying the enemy scum, this game somehow made you feel you were in the thick of the action. Great game and great action.

72. Cannon Fodder (Amiga/Megadrive) – The first point and click action adventure shoot-em up I ever played. This game is fantastic, and seriously needs a remake. You control your little guys who you can split up into little groups and basically you have to kill the enemy. Point at a player, click on him/them and point and click the part of the screen you want them to go. See an enemy and fire!!! Great graphics, great game play and an overall brilliant game.

71. Volfied (PS2/Megadrive) – Damn! This is one addictive game. The idea is to fill up the screen with basically a different background while avoiding enemies shooting at you and trying to crash into you. It's a cool game, simple and fun, which means its the best kind of game.

70. Geometry Wars (Xbox360) – A space shooter based on a single screen in classic mode and scrolling screen in modern mode. Think Asteroids but more emphasis on moving and firing in any direction. A great game, if a little hard at times.

69. Pang (Snes/CPC) – I was never a huge fan of the Snes at the time, however Pang was a game that caught my attention. I play this game a lot these day, and the Snes version is still the best version available.

68. Arkanoid (CPC/Amiga) – It's Pong! Ok, it's Pong with colour and add-ons, but it's still that classic game Pong. Arkanoid is as addictive now as ever, and has been released on almost every format. The CPC version was arcade perfect, and the version I have played the most.

67. Barbarian (CPC) – What can be said about Barbarian that can sum up the pleasure and fun that I had with this game? Probably nothing actually. This game lived in my Amstrad CPC, and more recently in my emulator probably more than any other game. It was my first real encounter with a fighting game. Ok, so it’s no Street Fighter, or Tekken, and it sure ain’t no Soul Calibur, however it was, and still is a great fun hack-and-slash-come-beat-em-up.

66. Rayman (PS1) – There have been a number of Rayman games, but the original 2D platformer stands out as one of the best platform games of all time. Pushing the Playstation to its limits, Rayman looks amazing, handles superbly and has game play mechanics that really make it a joy to play.

65. Rainbow Islands (SMS/Megadrive/NES) – A classic rainbow-em-up that is impossible to complete due to a bug, but still a classic game. Varied levels, great graphics and quirky sound effect make this game a real winner and one that you can come back to time and time again.

64. Pacman (Arcade/PS2) – Next to Space Invaders this is the Grand Daddy of all computer games, and believe it or not I love it! I've never been exceptionally good at the game but I still find in enduring. Simple graphics and brilliant game play make this the perfect game.

63. Halo (PC/Xbox) – For some reason the Halo universe has reached some odd glory that tries to put it in a place where it really isn't. Halo was a fun shoot-em up, although I did find it a bit easy. The follow up games were also fun, however it's the first in the series that makes my top 50. Great fun and technically brilliant, this game gave me a few good hours of game play.

62. Die Hard Trilogy (PS1/Saturn) – Three games for the price of one! You got a racer, a point and shoot and a platform game all in one package. The games remain huge fun to play, however, like some other PS1 titles graphics have dated and are quite blocky compared to other consoles and other eras. Still, this game represents the best value that was available at the time, and all three games are actually very good!

61. Ikari Warriors (CPC/Amiga) – The screen scrolls downwards, your little Rambo look-a-like takes on hoards of enemies, you fire your gun, you throw grenades... Two players mode adds even more fun to the game, which is just an absolute classic. It can get hard in the later levels by yourself, but with two players it is a little easier.

60. Peggle (Xbox360) – What an addictive and fun game Peggle is. It's simple in concept, you just drop a ball into various colour pegs and they disappear once they have been touched. It's kind of like the old drop-a-coin game in the arcade days of old. Simple and fun which is always a good thing!

59. Wolfenstein (PS3) – An FPS with supernatural overtones. Wolfenstein is a follow up to the classic early PC games but looks and plays a lot better. Some great action makes for a very interesting game that sometimes feels a bit clunky, but overall is fun.

58. Crash Bandicoot (PS1) – Crash Bandicoot was a platform game on the original Playstation that really impressed. It looked brilliant, played really fast and was fun and a challenge. One of the things many people forget, is that the original had no save points, so really was a challenge to play!

57. Crazy Taxi (Dreamcast) – Both Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2 are fun arcade games. These play as well as the arcade versions and are one of the few games that really put you under pressure and make you kick yourself when the time runs out just before you pick up a passenger. Yes! That's what you have to do, pick up passengers and take them to their drop-off points. It's simple but effective and really works.

56. Super Monaco GP (Megadrive) – At the time this game was in my Megadrive more than any other, by today's standards it's pretty light weight, however at the time we would play the game trying to get milliseconds off each lap. Still though, a great fun game with a great challenge.

55. Bust-A-Move aka Puzzle Bobble (PS1/PS2/N64/Dreamcast) – Puzzle games can be so annoying on times, however Bust-A-Move is an exception to the rule. It's just so much fun, and the sound effects and tune are just so annoying that you hum them for weeks after. Probably the best puzzle game available, all we need now is a HD remake!

54. Continental Circus (CPC/PS2) – My favourite racing game on the good old Amstrad CPC computers, this was a great conversion of the arcade classic. Even today this game plays well, and the Amstrad version plays as well as the arcade version. A real piece of 8-bit art.

53. Doom (PS1) – Those days when I remember two consoles and two TVs in the room, wow, and the motion sickness that also occurred! Doom is a classic, it's a masterpiece of gaming and one that holds the record of probably the most hours I have ever played on an FPS. Graphically good in the day, sonically scary and game play to die for.

52. Manx TT Superbike (Saturn) – Pure arcade motorbike racing. This game looks great for a Saturn game, and plays really well. There are not many courses, and it's pretty hard, but it has the fun-factor which is the most important thing in games.

51. Bomberman Online (Dreamcast) – If there's one multi player game that's always fun to play, it's the hectic Bomberman. The Dreamcast version is just awesome fun with one, and especially so with two or more players. Although the graphic and sound are brilliant, this game is not about either of those, it's about game play and having fun! It delivers in bucket loads, brilliant!

50. Rali-sport Challenge (PC/Xbox) – I first played this on the Xbox, and it blew me away! It’s the PC version that most of my time is spent playing now though. This game has the best of everything. It has superb graphics, playability of Sega Rally, huge amount of tracks and its difficulty is just right. It’s not often a rally game comes along that ticks all the tick boxes, but this is one of those few.

49. Ferrari F355 Challenge (Dreamcast/PS2) – Sandwiched between the uber-cool Rali-sport Challenge and Gran Turismo 5 is this Dreamcast classic. It's a tough game to play, but so much fun. The PS2 improved on the Dreamcast original by offering more game-modes and more car views, yet both games are a joy to play in every way. It's one of the few games that has the “just one more go” factor, and after a game you'll see why!

48. FEAR 2 (PS3) – It's not often a game comes along that is both scary and fun to play and also has all the controls working well. FEAR 2 does everything right, and has some quite scary moments with some great shooting action.

47. Unreal Tournament (PC) – One of the most enjoyable online shooters of all-time. The Unreal Tournament games were the Modern Warfare games of their day. With some great space-age weapons and some of the fastest game play you will ever see, Unreal Tournament deserves to be in everyone's gaming list.

46. Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) – For all the anticipation of Gran Turismo 5, it should have been a top 5 game. However, it is a brilliant racing game, but is a much more serious attempt than other racing games in this list. Graphically it is sometimes superb and sometimes average, the main let-down is the Rally mode, which just not race as it should for some reason. Still, and amazing game and one for every collection.

45. Lumines 1 & 2 (PSP/PS2) – Puzzle games of this calibre don't come along very often. Lumines plays unlike any puzzle game you know and is kind of like a Tetris game combined with something completely different.

44. Raiden Trad (Megadrive) – Both Raiden Trad and Varth are downwards scrolling shooters of extreme quality. Raiden Trad was one of the first of this games of this ilk that I really fell in love with. It reminds me of a thinking man's shooter, it's not too fast, so you can think about your positioning on the screen and you feel you can achieve quite a lot. Great fun, with great graphics and sound.

43. Forza 3 (Xbox360) – Although it's a close-run battle between Forza 3 and Gran Turismo 5, at this point in time Forza 3 gets my vote as the better of the two. They are both simulations and for me Forza 3 shines through with slightly better graphics and a not-so clunky playability. Time might change this as GT5 gets more updates, but still, Forza 3 is a class game.

42. Super Hang On (Megadrive/Amiga) – How many hours I have spent playing this game has to be anyone’s guess. There’s nothing better than a great racing game, and Super Hang On is one of the great arcade racers. Basically this is Outrun on bikes, but to me it’s a little more than that. The nearest game to this in modern game is probably the Moto GP series, however, Super Hang On is far more playable.

41. Spyro The Dragon (PS1) – Sometimes the original are the best, and that goes for the mighty Spyro The Dragon. This game broke all barriers of 3D gaming when it was first released, and is as good as ever to play now. What's more, it breaks male/female boundaries and I know plenty of females who also enjoy this classic game.

40. Medal of Honour: Allied Assault (PC) – My first FPS experience where I actually felt as if I was in the game. Medal Of Honour Allied Assault featured you on the beaches of Normandy invading France in the Second World War. It was the start of me really falling in love with First Person shooters. The game not only looked better than any console game I had played before, but played better too. A brilliant game that should be remade for today's machines.

39. Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Saturn) – The Sega Saturn is an under-rated machine, however games like this prove that the Saturn was a great console. An on-rails shooter this game is fun and addictive. Playing this game now you realise graphics may have got better, but the fundamental design has remained almost the same and you really appreciated games past and present.

38. Dirt 2 (PS3) – One of the truly great racing games of this generation. Dirt 2 is everything the original Dirt was and then some. When you throw your car around the tracks in various rally modes you really have full control of the vehicles. Rarely does a racing game bring you so much fun as this modern day classic.

37. Golden Axe (Megadrive) – This is the game I spent all my 10p’s on in my youth. We’d all go down the arcade and play this mighty game. The Megadrive version was almost identical, I remember seeing the very first time on my tv, and it blew me away! Arcade ports don’t come much better than this classic hack-em-up. And… Of course I was always the little dwarf!

36. Ridge Racer (PS1/PS3) – A classic racing game series that has some great high points. Ridge Racer 1 on the PS1 was a classic while Ridge Racer 4 also on the PS1 pushed the Playstation to it's limits. Ridge Racer 7 on the PS3 took the games, give them a lick of hi-def paint and kept all the game-play. Another classic series that just doesn't age.

35. Fight Night Round 4 (PS3) – Boxing is a funny game that was always hard to replicate on a games console. The Fight Night series of games though really changed that. Fight Night Round 3 was a classic in every way, but it was Round 4 that built upon that and made it one of the best fighting games ever released. So much fun when you are playing a human opponent, Fight Night Round 4 is simply satisfying!
34. Streets Of Rage (Megadrive) – Oh God! The music, the graphics, the silky smooth scrolling, the punching, the kicking, the special move. Yes, Streets Of Rage had it all, and then some. Probably one of the finest Megadrive games ever, and I played it to death. Still a great blast today!

33. Super Stardust HD (PS3) – This is just an incredible Asteroids kinda game brought kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Brilliant control, devious enemies and rock formations and adrenalin filled shoot-em-up fun. What's more, its a PSN downloadable game!

32. Daytona (Saturn/Dreamcast) – “Daytona Yeahhhhhhh!” Yet again the Saturn version of this game comes up trumps. Ok, the Dreamcast version looks amazing, but the Saturn version (actually that should be versions, as it was released as a Championship Edition also) plays just like the arcade. A brilliant game that you can play over and over again without getting bored.

31. V-Rally (PS1) – I remember the first time I set eyes on this game. For a PS1 game it just blew me away. It was super-fast, graphically stunning and had great game play. Some people found the controls a bit twitchy, but after a few minutes this game is just an amazing experience. There was a follow up on the Dreamcast and PC which was also a great game; however it’s the original I still go back to for the fun and thrill of a great rally.

30. Formula One (PS2/PS3) – F1 2003 on the PS2 and F1 Championship Edition on the PS3 rate as fine examples as racing games. Both are on the same level when it comes to game play, and graphically both games do a fine job. Rather than give them both different places in my chart, they are placed in equal position as they both achieve the same thing.

29. R-Type (Master System/Amiga/PC Engine) – Sideways shooters are either hard or very hard with no in-between. R-Type I believe is just at the right difficulty level, if you concentrate you can progress really far on this seminal sideways blaster. An amazing game on nearly all formats. Special mention to the superb PC-Engine version of this game, it's almost arcade perfect and plays like a dream!

28. Soul Calibur (Dreamcast/PS3) – Fighting with weapons has never been so much fun. Soul Calibur on the Sega Dreamcast is a beat-em-up of fantastic proportions. You fight with weapons, and each hit feels like it’s really had contact with the opponent. The PS3 game Soul Calibur IV brought back all the fun and flavour of the original. Sure, the graphics are better on the PS3 version, however both games play almost identical and are a pleasure to play.

27. Capcom Vs SNK Millennium Fight 2000 (PS1) – After playing the Street Fighter Alpha series of games for many years, I stumbled upon this classic fighter. Unlike the Street Fighter series, you get to chose three fighters in a team, and use them all in turn until you, or the other player have expelled all their lives. Graphically this game is way better than any other Street Fighter or SNK game, and it plays one hell of a brilliant game. I only have the PS1 version, but to play it you’d never guess it was on hardware that is now three generations old.

26. Varth (Arcade/PS2/PSP) – I got involved in this game quite late on, it's a downward scrolling shooter with a slight difference. You can collect a couple of orbs that you can choose to protect you by either staying in front of you, or moving around you stopping the enemies fire-power. Great graphics and sound and running at a good speed, this is one amazing blast that rewards you for time and effort.

25. Heavenly Sword (PS3) – Some people have slated this game, but they have obviously never played it. It has some stunning graphics, great sound and voice acting and a great story. The last boss is almost impossible, but apart from that this is one hell of a game. Combining different elements of game play, this game is a must for all PS3 console owners. It took me an age to complete it, but it was well worth it for the experience.

24. Beatles Rock Band (PS3/360) – If there's one music game that gets pulled out whenever friends and family are around, then this is it! Chock-full of classic Beatles songs, there is not a bad song in the game. It also features some great harmony modes and it feels really good playing the guitar or drums to Beatles classics.

23. Sonic The Hedgehog (Megadrive) – Any top 50 would not be complete with the brilliant Sonic. A great game in every way, Sonic was in everyone lives during the early 90's. This game was played to death by me, and I still enjoy a quick blast now. Sonic was king of consoles, shame he can not find his feet again.

22. Sega Rally (Saturn/PS3/PSP) – Rally games don’t come as iconic as Sega Rally. Ever since I played it in the arcade I wanted a home version which lived up to that experience. Sega Rally on the Saturn almost gave that experience. A great game in every respect, the Saturn version played just like the arcade version. The PS3 version has the same feel but is a new game altogether, and again gets a lot of gaming from me. The PSP yet again is another different version, and again has that great Sega Rally feel. Absolutely awesome in every respect!

21. Galaga '88 (Arcade/PS2/PC Engine) – The music, the sound effects and the shear brilliance of the game make this an all time favourite. It's Space Invaders with all kinds of frills, and so it's classic game play hides the fact that this is one mega-blast-feast of a title.

20. Super Street Fighter II (Snes/Megadrive/Arcade) – This is considered the finest of all the Street Fighter games by many people, however, I prefer the Alpha series for its game play and graphics. Whenever I play this, I really enjoy the bouts, yet find it a bit hard compared to the Alpha series.

19. Guitar Hero 3 (PS3/PS2/360) – Music games came of age with this game. For once I can play real rock guitar to dozens of classic tracks. And yes, it comes with plastic instruments. A really amazing game and a brilliant game to spend time with family and friends. Simply awesome!

18. Rock Band 2 (PS3/360) – It's too close to call as to which is the better of the two brands. Guitar Hero Vs Rock Band are two similar games, yet it's probably Rock Band that takes the lead due to it's better finger positions when playing the guitar, the better drum patterns when on drum, and the slightly better vocals section. As a genre, the music genre is a fun-filled one that the whole family enjoys.

17. Street Fighter Alpha 3 (Dreamcast/PSP/PS2) – If ever there was a Street Fighter game that captured my imagination, it was Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the Sega Dreamcast. As much as I’d enjoyed previous Street Fighter games, when I picked up and played this, something just clicked like never before in a game. The controls were spot on for a beat-em-up, easy to pick up, yet a lot to master. This game I have played so many times over the years I have lost count. The PSP version was my latest addition to the SFA3 series, and it is the most complete version of the game to date.

16. God Of War III (PS3) – Huge battles, huge graphics, huge story... God Of War III takes the first two games (I have not included them in this list, not enough room!) and makes them bigger and better. Great puzzles, great action and a fabulous story, God Of War III just delivers what it sets out to do, and delivers it perfectly.

15. Racedriver: Grid (PS3/360) – Racing games come and go, but some stay forever and are next to perfect in the way of handling and game play. Racedriver: Grid is one awesome race-fest that just blows you away every time you play it. Graphically perfect, this is one of my favourite racing games of all time. It gets harder the more you progress, but it is rewarding when you finish top 3 in any given event.

14. Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition (PS3) – Wow! Resident Evil games have come and gone, but this one is more action than the rest and is all the better for it. It can be hard on times, but you do get rewarded by some brilliant game play and some of the best graphic touches of this generation. Resident Evil 5 blows you away with each game element, and has some truly huge and fantastic bosses that not only look great but are super fun to play against.

13. Need For Speed: Shift (PS3/360) – I've always enjoyed my racing games, and this game has shot straight into my top 20. It's a great racing game with brilliant control and some great race's to be had. It edges in front of “Racedriver: Grid” because it is a little easier and slightly more enjoyable to play at the harder levels of the game.

12. Batman Arkam Asylum (PS3/360) – Few games invoke a feeling of being in a TV show or film like Batman AA. The quality of the cut scenes, the quality of the voice acting and the shear quality of the game is just out of this world. Batman Is more than just a platform game, it's a game that gives you fun and excitement at every turn. It's full of wonderful action that keeps you wanting more. Simply put, this is one KABOOM! Of a game!

11. Crysis 2 (PS2/360) – It's not often an FPS game comes along and changes everything you know about the genre. Crysis 2 not only looks impressive but does things a little different. You can go invisible and sneak around, you can have super-armour and withstand many hits. Mix and match as you want, play the game your way and enjoy some of the best shooting action ever. Also, this game has some of the best gun noises and feel of using a gun in any game.

10. Uncharted: Drakes Fortune (PS3) – A modern platform game which shows off the PS3's potential well. This is a brilliant game, with the only slight downside being the aiming mechanism when firing your gun. Once mastered, it's just mind blowing. Some great puzzles, great action and a great humorous story. Uncharted is a AAA title that just shines each time you play it.

09. Singstar (PS2/PS3) – What seems like little more than a Karaoke machine, Singstar makes the perfect game to play with family and friends. No need to think about playing any instruments are pushing any buttons, simply sing into the blue ot red banded microphone and have fun. With each disc with between 20 and 30 tracks, and even more to download on PSN, this game has never tired. Kept alive with new editions every few months and those downloads for PS3 owners, this is a well worthy game for this day and age of hardcore and casual gamers. Perfect!

08. Outrun (Saturn/PSP/PS3/PC Engine) – Outrun was a great game in the arcades, however it’s the Saturn and PSP versions that I have played the most over the years. The Saturn version plays almost identical to the arcade and is a wonderful representation of the Saturn’s power. The PSP version is a home version of Coast to Coast 2006 from the arcades, which was the best of all the Outrun series. For me, these games give me some of the best pleasure in racing games, just simple arcade action at its best.

07. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PS3/360) – There were First Person Shooters before Call Of Duty 4, but it was this game that single handedly changed console FPS games forever. Great graphics and seriously solid game play, COD4 has eaten up many PS3 owners gaming time. Many regard this as the best game available, while I prefer Killzone 2 as the controls are heavier and more realistic than the rather floaty controls of COD4. Still, an amazing game and one of the best games available on any platform.

06. Tekken 5: DR (PSP/PS3) – The greatest Tekken of them all comes in the form of Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. Not since the classic Tekken 3 had a Tekken game some magnificent in every way possible. Each character handles uniquely, and when mastered is the most dangerous fighting character of them all. This game is different to any other fighting game. It’s pace, it’s style, and everything else is a work of pure art. If there were no fighting games on earth apart from this one, I would be happy.

05. Left 4 Dead (360) – Taking the FPS genre and doing something different with it is quite hard, but Left 4 Dead just feels different. It feels like you are in a Zombie film, there's an urgency that you don't usually get I games when you are being swamped by Zombie Hordes. Graphically I love the animations, the way that there are different kinds of Zombies and the way that some of them run at you while you are re-loading. It makes it exciting and gripping in every way.

04. Wipeout HD/Fury (PS3) – The Wipeout series has always held my attention, although none has come close to the latest edition Wipeout HD on the PS3. It’s a stunningly beautiful game that plays perfectly. It can be hard to start off racing, but once mastered it entertains for hours on end. It offers an awesome online play mode also, which just adds to the depth. Unbelievable in every way!

03. Metal Gear 4 (PS3) – “Guns Of The Patriot” is stunning. It's beautiful. Never has a console been pushed so hard, and as such this is one of the best looking games ever. A lot of people say it's little more than an interactive movie, but it is so much more than that. This game took me quite a while to complete but it was well worth it. Yes, it has a lot of CGI movies telling the story, but they are very high quality and enjoyable. I've never liked Metal Gear games, but this game is outstanding in every way.
02. Killzone 2 (PS3) – This is the game for me that represents the pinnacle of first person shooters. Killzone 2 is a fine example of making a game feel different enough to have it's own identity. For all the Call Of Duty pretenders out there, Killzone 2 does it in a different way, with amazing graphics and sound and amazing enemy AI. Killzone 3 was the great follow-up, but although it looked stunning, it just didn't play as good as this game. Killzone is one of the true highlights of this generation of games, only bettered by...

01. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) – Everything about the first game has been improved ten-fold in the follow up. Graphically this game is nothing short of stunning, some of the levels are photo-realistic. Game play on the other hand, over the first game is far superior. There's more shooting, and a of of jumping. The whole narrative is fun and exciting and overall after completing the game I sat there knowing that I'd just played the best game ever. A feeling I only ever sometimes get, and a feeling that is still with me while updating this top 50 list over a year later originally compiling it.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ripping DVDs in Ubuntu 11.04

Ubuntu 11.04 and its variants such as Pinguy OS are great operating systems, and one of the things I thought I would miss from windows was the ability to rip DVDs. However, not only were my expectations met, they were exceeded with the quality of the software and the quality of the results.

I have used three separate programs to rip DVDs to my hard drive. I wanted to make a .AVI backups of a few DVDs with as little hassle as possible. The first program I tried was a program I had used on Windows, namely "DVDx 4". I downloaded the Linux distribution from the site and straight away upon loading realised that thankfully it was identical to the Windows version!

"DVDx 4" will rip any DVD, even if it is protected. You can choose the quality of the rip and the codecs it uses. You can also rip for iPod, PSP, Quicktime, 3GPP and of course Divx. On the highest quality rips the picture quality is excellent and can easily be re-ripped to DVD should you want to. The software is fast and reliable and sound keeps in sync, a problem that plagued my ripping using windows.

The second program I have used is called "OGMRip" and this also rips protected DVDs. The interface is much simpler on this one and at first glance it looks like a simplified version of other DVD ripping software. However, under the bonnet of "OGMRip" is a powerful ripping machine. You can rip to more formats than I have seen in any other ripping program, and the quality is a step up from "DVDx 4". It has various filters you can apply to make the picture better and it can rip to a specified storage amount or bitrate.

"OGMRip" is a killer app there's no doubt of that. However, it's simpler interface may put some people off. That said, because of the extra features it can be very slow... make that very very slow!  Ideal if you need a HD rip, otherwise get under the bonnet and change those settings.

The third program I have used has been one of the most versatile and is called "DVD95 Converter". It seems to be the fastest ripping software I have used and has worked perfectly on all variants of Ubuntu. I know use Pinguy OS 11.04 since writing this review, and "DVD95" seems to be the most trouble free in that particular distro.

So, combined, "DVDx 4", "OGMRip" and "DVD95 Converter" are a lethal combination and a DVD copiers dream come true! The power of Linux just blows me away each day, and my next adventure will be into the world of Video Editing. Let's see what Linux can offer us then.

(c)23 June 2011 - Updated August 1st 2011

Monday, 20 June 2011

UMPlayer - Review

LinkIt's not often I get really excited about a piece of software, but since discovering UMPlayer I've been spreading the word about this mighty bit of media player goodness.

UMPlayer stands for Universal Media Player, and for once Universal really means Universal! It will play anything you throw at it right out of the box, and what's more, that box is a free one!

You can download UMPlayer from www.umplayer.com and find out for yourselves what a great bit of software this is. It is available for Windows, Linux and Mac and I use it as the default player on both Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.

How does it perform? Well, the first thing you notice is that it is damn fast. No sooner as you click on a song or a video and it loads up instantly! This makes so much of a difference, not having to wait a second while the player loads up. Secondly, it looks really nice in its default "modern" skin and has all the buttons in all the right places.

UMPlayer will play anything, and its not let me down yet. I ripped a DVD in a wrong codec accidently and nothing would play it (I tried Windows Media Player, VLC, WinAMP, Quicktime, iTunes and Real Player) and that's when I fell in love with UMPlayer, because it played it perfectly with brilliant quality picture and the sound in sync. As far as audio codecs go, again everything is covered, even those .flac files that some people use!

Another great feature is the ability to search Youtube or Shoutcast from within the player. This is particularly useful in Ubuntu where fullscreen flash doesn't always perform well. With UMPlayer, fullscreen videos are perfect, and streaming radio stations from Shoutcast sound brilliant.

I can see no downsides to UMPlayer, other than the fact that it's little heard of at the moment. So, after reading this I'd like you to try it out and discover your media in a new, quick and reliable way that you have always wanted to.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why Linux is now the perfect choice for an OS.

Why Linux is now a good choice.
I've been a Windows user since Windows 95, and I still own a Windows machine. Windows 7 is great, and if you're a gamer then Windows is the Operating System for you. If however you are like most people and use your system for downloading music or films, browsing the internet, writing letters or books, keeping a database of things or simply watching films or listening to music then Linux could easily replace Windows.

First question, why would I want to replace Windows? Perhaps it crashes constantly for you? Perhaps your computer has been ruined by a virus? Perhaps you just want to break free from Microsoft and save yourself some of your hard earned money. Either way, Linux is now at a place where it will make brilliant alternative to Windows, and this article will hopefully answer some of your questions that you may have regarding Operating System in general.

To many, it is perceived that Microsoft Windows is the only thing that works on computers. This a serious misconception and one that needs to be brought to the attention of the World. Windows is just something that lets you use your computer, you can do the same on a Linux system, only it doesn't cost you anything and once you pick up the basics, it's simple!

So, is Linux just a different version of Windows? No, it's different, it allows you to do the same things, but as I will show you soon, it's much more versatile than the Windows software you know and love.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, there are only a few things that most people really do on their computers, so I will now look at each of these and show you how and why the Linux alternative is generally the better option.

There are many different versions of Linux, but this article will deal with the most popular and one of the easiest to use called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is now at version 11.04 and overall the Ubuntu experience should be as smooth as using a Windows machine, but without the cost and the threat of virus etc. (more on that soon).

Browsing the internet.
The one thing that everyone does is browse the internet. On Windows you will have a version of Internet Explorer, plus many people download free alternative browsers such as Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome. Also, they recommend that while using the internet you use an anti-virus program to stop your Windows machine becoming infected, plus anti-spyware and firewall software.

This is where the Ubuntu Linux experience is far better than anything Windows can offer. Ubuntu comes with Firefox 4 built in as standard, and the difference in speed between this build and the Windows build is quite phenomenal, Ubuntu's Firefox 4 just flies along at an unbelievable pace. Of course you can also download Ubuntu versions of Opera and Google Chrome, plus a whole host of other browsers.

One thing that is different in Linux in general is that there is no need for any anti-virus! Because of the way the Operating System is built, Virus' are almost unheard of in Linux, and as such it is perfectly safe not to use one, it's also safe not to use anti-spyware and the option of using a Firewall program is up to you. This all means for the end user that no computer resources are being used elsewhere, so even on the oldest computers Linux is stupidly fast!

Those concerned about watching Youtube or streaming music can also be assured that Ubuntu comes with all the codecs needed to allow you to do all this hassle free. Youtube is smooth and fast when on full-screen, even on the lowest spec computers, and you can stream any kind of music file (whatever a radio station uses etc.) with ease.

Recommended Browsers: Firefox 5, Chromium or Opera

Downloading Music or Films.
Again, just as simple in Ubuntu as it is in Windows. If you're a fan of bit torrents then Ubuntu comes with Transmission, a great little torrent client that allows you to manage your torrent downloads.

Downloading paid for music or films can be done via the Amazon store on Banshee music player. There is no iTunes in Linux, so if you're a user of iTunes, Amazon Store is your new shopping place. Also of note, if you have an iPod, Banshee will be your new friend, and the software is much better than iTunes. When you first plug in your iPod you can rip the tracks off the machine and Banshee will transfer them to your computers hard drive. Quick and simple!

Recommended Download Software: Transmission

Writing Letters and Office Work.
Many people get caught in the trap thinking that they have to use Microsoft Office or Word etc. This is one of Microsoft's biggest sellers, and they'd have you believe they are something a bit special. Well, look no further than Libre Office which is bundled with Ubuntu (or Open Office on older versions – essentially the same program). It is a fully compatible software suite that includes writing, database, power-point and excel functions, and look almost identical to them.

Libre Office can read and write .docx files that the new version of Word uses. I have used the software in a work environment and shared with Microsoft users and they have never been aware I'm using different software. So many people get duped into buying Microsoft's Office programs, when there is a perfectly good free version out there.

If you use Outlook then Ubuntu comes with Evolution which looks and acts very similar to it. It's a great program that gets better with every release. In a lot of ways I prefer it to Outlook, it's faster, it's less cluttered and it just works when you need it to!

Recommended Software: Libre Office 3.x, Open Office 3.x or Abiword

Listening to music or watching films.
Everyone has their favourite program for listening to music or watching films on their PC. Ubuntu comes with Banshee for listening to music and Totem Movie Player for watching films. Both do a brilliant job of this, and Banshee is one of the best music management programs I have ever used.

Also of course there is VLC which can be downloaded. A favourite of many Windows users, the Ubuntu Linux version of VLC is perfect for your audio and visual needs. The cream of the crop though is the new UMPlayer. This little program plays anything you throw at it, it's super quick and is one of the slickest pieces of software you will ever use. I have written a full review of it on my blog for those of you interested in it.

Recommended Media Software: UMPlayer, Banshee 2, Totem Movie Player or VLC

Art and photograph viewing.
We'd all like to own Photoshop but it's damn expensive. We have all used Paint and now how primitive that is. Some of us have discovered the delights of Photfiltre, but sadly not enough of us. So that's the Windows side of things, but Ubuntu has a whole wealth of visual manipulation goodies that just work and are free!

Gimp is program similar to Photoshop. Many people say it's as good as Photoshop, but of course it's free and constantly updated so in my books that swings it for me! Gimp can be as complicated or easy as you want to make it, and once you get used to the way it works, it really is a cool piece of software.

For viewing your photos there is Shotwell, which is a great viewer program. And of course there is much much more...

Recommended Software: Gimp and Shotwell

And there's more...
The one thing that confuses many Windows users is where to download new software. A lot of time you can download free-trials, a lot of time the free downloads are limited use and of course there is always the threat of malicious software giving you a virus or spying on your every move.

Ubuntu has a download centre where almost every piece of software available for it is listen. It is all categorised to make it simple for you to find what you need. What's more 99.9% of the software is perfectly free and available for full use with no constraints. Think of it as an online shop, where everything can be viewed before you download, and with just one click it will be downloaded and installed on your PC.

It's not just that everything is free, it's that everything gets updated on a regular basis and each and every program you download has been tested by people who enjoy using computers as much as you.

You know when you want to use a printer with your Windows machine, you plug it in and it doesn't work. You then have to find the driver that allows it to work, and if you're using a Windows 7 machine it's really hard to find the driver that lets your printer work. Well, in Ubuntu Linux there are no drivers... you plug in your printer or camera or wi-fi stick etc and it just works.

In fact, the saying I like to use when talking to people about Linux in general is “it just works”, because it does. As I said, if you're a gamer then stick to your Windows, but if it's something else you are after the Linux is something you really should consider.

Mark Adams
14 May 2011.
[Updated June 23 2011]