Saturday, July 21, 2007

Checkers Solved

If you've played Tic-Tac-Toe for any length of time you've probably reached the stage where you can win or draw any game simply because you can envisage every possible combination of moves, and pick the move which is best not in a subjective sense, but in an absolute sense.

Now with the aid of brute force computing the same situation has been reached for Checkers. An electronic solution has been found which can win or tie any game.

It's good to know that modern technology has successfully trivialised a rather banal game that I've never really liked. If you ever play it and win again, just remember it's not because you played well, it's because your opponent played sub-optimally.

Full story here, courtesty of BBC News.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Assorted Stuff

Yes, it's time for assorted stuff. Everyone likes stuff, right?

* In case you've missed it in the last two weeks, for all you Dynasty Warriors fans who aren't already over the moon about Dynasty Warriors Gundam, there's also word of Warriors Orochi, which is basically just a new Dynasty Warriors game featuring the entire cast of the Dynasty Warriors franchise plus the crew from Samurai Warriors, united at last. Plus if you read this article in the right way you can interpret it as meaning there'll be three-player co-op. Awesome.

* My favourite developer that nobody loves, Quantic Dream, are not only following up their fantastic PS2 title Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) with a PS3 release called Heavy Rain (old news), but they're also for some reason doing a PS3-exclusive sequel to their unanimously reviled Dreamcast relic Omikron: The Nomad Soul. That's great; while they're at it maybe they can get the rights to Phantasmagoria off Sierra and release a few more redundant iterations of that franchise too.

* I'm working my way through F.E.A.R (again at least a good year behind the hype), and I absolutely can't believe how you can pour as much raw talent and technical genius into a game as has obviously made its way into F.E.A.R. and still produce such a charmless and unmemorable end product. I'd be writing it off completely, if only it weren't so darned fun unloading my shotgun into those Replicas. The completely-tacked-on attempts at scariness just make me wish I had a new Silent Hill game to play.

* And in case you weren't excited about Rock Band yet, here's another big helping of huzzah.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Having seen the trailers, it seemed to me that Transformers was likely to be much like the recent butchering of War of the Worlds with the added attraction of it molesting my childhood. (The chances of Autobots coming from Mars / were a million to one, they said.)

Now that I've seen the film, I'm happy to say it's nothing at all like War of the Worlds, and is instead an awful lot like Pearl Harbour.

The Transformers themselves make it through the movie with a surprising amount of dignity left intact. I got the strong impression that these were the real, actual Transformers of my early years, torn from their animated universe and deposited whole and intact in a kind of Michael Bay-themed cinematic wasteland. They spend the majority of the movie struggling gamely to continue their noble mission in the face of hideous dialogue, horrible plot, and a complete contempt for the most basic attention to scientific detail.

Optimus Prime in particular carries a kind of beleaguered, puzzled air about him that suggests he's wondering where all the energon cubes went and why he's suddenly surrounded by lens flares, poorly scripted teenagers and an unfeasibly large portion of the United States military. It's definitely Optimus Prime, though - that voice acting goes a long way.

Incidentally, never has there been so much product placement in a movie, but given the history of the Transformers franchise it's a little difficult to complain.

Anyway, all said, this is an apallingly unapologetic fiasco of a movie that should be avoided at all costs. But it doesn't retroactively go back and ruin the 80s animated Transformers, and in that category at least it's a step above Beast Wars and Armada, so if you look at it with squinty eyes you can almost imagine that there's something in it to be grateful for.