No Ashes Momentum from ODI

Tags

, , , ,

In 2005 the T20 win, and the ODI wins over Australia were vital victories before the Ashes. That is not the case, for either team, this year. In 2005 England were so terribly used to being beaten, well beaten, by Australia (then the number one team in the world by a mile) that a few must have doubted that any victory over them at all was permitted.Ash-1

The T20, where England scored 179 and Australia were reduced to 30 odd for 7, made some people believe that some of the Australians had human frailties. The Australians, with a degree of validity, brushed this T20 loss aside as insignificant and a bit of a laugh; after all, no-one was quite sure what to make of T20 at the time (it was the only the second international).

After that, during the one day triangular series with Bangladesh, England scored a victory, a loss, and a tie against the enemy. Even in spite of that loss England again ended the series with the feeling they were no longer a hopeless case, the final was tied and the series shared.

To follow were another three ODIs in a NatWest series – which I had completely forgotten about! Aus won it by two thrashings to one hammering. But the important thing about all these series was that England had learned that is WAS POSSIBLE TO BEAT AUSTRALIA. For the entire preceding decade, this appeared not to be the case.

That self-belief meant that England knew beating Australia was not only possible, but likely if they played their best cricket. The “momentum” they gained from the ODI series that year was vital as it removed age-old mental baggage.

This time, even for Australia, the level of mental scar tissue is nothing like as deep. As a result of this, there isn’t the same level of self-belief to be gained from a victory either way in the following ODI. Let us therefore, enjoy this ODI for what it is, a highly appropriate appetiser for the Ashes series to come!

“In 2005 Glenn McGrath missed two Ashes test matches. England won the Ashes 2-1. In 2005 England beat Australia, but they did not beat McGrath.”

Advertisements

Ashley Giles & the One Eyed Big Boyd

Tags

,

The six foot seven giant from Ireland, Big Boyd Rankin, has been brought into the England squad as injury cover. On the face of it, that sounds just fine. Boyd is a tall and genuinely fast bowler. However, he plays for Warwickshire – Ashley Giles’s county. A few twitter folks raised eye brows, a few were vicious in their criticism of the King of Spain (Ashley), while others thought it a fine choice and suggest that being so cynical is unwarranted.

I fell somewhere between, and thought I’d turn to cold statistics for support – in either direction. Firstly, let us look at the Big Boyd himself. 43 wickets, from 37 ODIs for Ireland at an average of 32.3 with an economy of 4.9. Pretty respectable. 90 wickets, from 76 List-A matches, at an average of 29, with an economy of 5.02. OK .. nothing really to go on either way. Solid, yet unremarkable. Clearly it must be his current form that helped.

Here are all the bowling statistics for 2013 List-A matches. So where’s Boyd? Oh .. he’s not in the top 50. It must be his first class form. Let’s check the 2013 first-class matches. Oh, he’s not there either. How strange. Mind you, the season is still new, let’s check last year. So here are the winners from 2012 List-A matches. Now this is really odd. He’s absent again. Final chance Ash, 2012 First-class matches. Bloody hell Ashley, what have you done? He’s not there either?!

Statistically, I can find ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for picking Boyd Rankin. Ashley Giles, this looks like a “Buddy Pick” and is a terrible decision that makes you look unbelievable one-eyed. If you wanted to pick a Warwickshire player, how about one who has taken wickets – you know, like Chris Wright?!

After a (very) rapid Chris Wright check, on those 4 lists, he is 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, and one 3rd-from-bottom. Oh yes, he’s tall too.

AND spare a thought for Ireland … who incidentally Boyd didn’t play for last week against Pakistan … who might well need him more than England.

Sorry, but doing this has made me really cross – no Christmas card for you this year Mr Giles

ADDITIONAL IMPORTANT….
KIM has brought to my attention that he was injured for much of 2012, which his explains his absence from those lists. Kim also adds that, in terms of bowling strike rates, his 45.2 after 57 first-class games tops the pile. Onions (47) , Fin (49) are only other England contenders who have a strike rate of under 50 after more than 50 games. Impressive.

Final Stats – England vs New Zealand – 2013

Tags

, , , , , , ,

So England won the test series 2-0 … go by that alone and you’ve missed a lot. New Zealand dominated 2 of the 3 previous test, albeit ones in the previous series, and in their country. But it is important to note that because without it, England may not have been so determined to correct the “wrong” that was their perceived failure to win in New Zealand. The fact was that, NZ out-played England for most of that series, merit-wise, they should have won by 2 tests to 1.

Anyhow, that’s the background, England were better this time, but not by as much as one may expect. The first test was very close until Stuart Broad’s mega burst where he took 5 wickets for minus 12 runs in two balls. Or something – that spell won England the first test.

In the 2nd test, England were in front for most of the game. The main point of peril was when Joe Root came to the crease at 67-3 … but then he made his first test ton and England were on top for the rest of the game and were not (quite) denied by the weather. Well played. Now let us look at who did what…

engvnz-batsJoe Root top scored in the first test, add that to his ton in the 2nd test, and it’s no surprise to see him in first place. In his first 3 innings, Cook did very little other than start, but his rapid (by any standard) innings of 130 late on was excellent. Trott mate useful runs and annoyed us with a lack of positive intent, but deserves his 3rd spot. Bairstow’s runs are worthy of note because of the aggressive and exciting way he played. He should be fine to step in to cover for KP’s (or anyone else’s) absence. Bell had a nightmare, but don’t count his 4th innings dismissal aiming for quick runs … the other 3 failures though, are of more than slight concern – he needs to get some confidence from somewhere – the Champions Trophy would be fine! Prior’s form is of less concern because he played so well in NZ, and was built up so much before that series that failure was all but guaranteed … cricket likes to bite back from time to time. But, as you can tell, the only New Zealander to score more than 100 runs was maturing Ross Taylor, this says as much about their batting as it does England’s bowling. But underestimate them at your peril, in the next 12-24 months they will surprise a few teams.

engvnz-bowlTim Southee bowled with the guile, swing, and control worthy of someone with far more experience, and most of his wickets were earned. Even though Bracewell wasn’t at his best, NZ have the makings of a proper pace attack, one able to take advantage of anyone’s mistakes, and in good conditions, win games. Kane Williamson looked much better, with the pressure off, as a 2nd spinner, than he did as their first choice, so NZ still have options there. England’s bowlers, however, all performed. Finn was the worst, taking 8 wickets at 20! Broad was excellent throughout and Swann was superb in the 2nd game. All of this bodes well for the Ashes … each bowler will have gained confidence from this series. The fact that all of England’s 4 bowlers played both games, injury free – unlike the impressive Boult, meant that New Zealand received no let-up at all, and the quality, pace, bounce, and turn of Swann, made the difference.

BRING ON THE AUSSIES!

England’s Baffling Batting

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Good day folks, before day 4 (or 3, if you don’t consider Monday’s washout) begins, I wish to complain. To complain about England and their mental approach to this; their second innings.

OK, they didn’t enforce the (or invite New Zealand to) follow on. With the weather around, I think they should have done so, but I do understand why they didn’t. Two main reasons, I think, (1) bowler preservation, and (2) the pitch isn’t really that bad at all – batting now will be easier than batter later on.

Now, that aside, my gripe is this. England have a big lead, the pitch is fine, the New Zealand bowlers are good, but not the most terrifying in the world. So England, in this position, against ANY attack, with the safety of a 180 run lead and a positive mindset, should be able to score AT LEAST one run per three balls faced. That is not asking a lot. Compton and Trott managed approximately half of that. Pathetic.

Compton’s misery maybe explained by him feeling the need to fight for his place. Even if that is the case, it shows a mental frailty that does node bode well for the Ashes. For me, that amount of nervousness and fragility will be seized upon by the Aussies and he has now batted himself right out of contention. One CANNOT be timid against Australia.

Trott’s go slow was even more ridiculous and had me gnashing my teeth. This guy is a high class batsman. He averages ~50 in test cricket, and has scored at a sniff under a run every other ball across his other 72 test innings (a strike rate of 46). His place is not in any doubt, his skills are not in doubt, his character is not in doubt. Until maybe now. If Alistair Cook (who has had a miserable series by his own high standards) can play positively and score so freely, at a much higher rate than usual – because of the situation – why was Trott only able to score at less than half his normal pace?! I honestly don’t know. He made me angry and I cannot fathom AT ALL any reason why he batted so poorly.

Compton’s crawling was poor, but possibly understandable, Trott’s can only be either selfish beyond normal reason, or an attempt at match fixing. It was that bad. Of course I don’t think think he is involved in any wrong doing at all, but I cannot contrive of anything else to explain one of the most bizarre innings I can recall.

Cone England, step it up in the morning or I’ll go to Paris for the French Open.

Xbox One – Microsoft’s Endgame

Tags

, , , , , ,

Guest blog from a Charlie of HKCblog.

ImageA lot of gamers seem to have little to no memory, so let me jog yours, or clue you in. A loooong time ago, Bill Gates had an idea. This was an idea for a set top box that would be a digital entertainment hub; a one stop shop, if you will, for watching movies, looking at TV, accessing the internet, communication, and gaming. He believed that this was the next logical step in fusing computers with entertainment and everyday life.

Mr Gates shopped this idea around to not only console makers, but to cable companies as well; but no one was interested. It was then determined by Micorsoft that if this vision of the future was to come into existence, they would have to do it on their own.

After a lot of research, it was determined that the best way to get the public to accept such an entertainment device was to gradually introduce them to the idea because at the time such a device was cost prohibitive and the infrastructure was not there. Keep in mind that at this time there was no Hulu, no Netflix, no console online gaming, no social networking… nothing. So they introduced the Xbox. Many people guffawed at the idea of MS getting into the gaming biz, and it seemed like they might not last because the Xbox Division was operating at a great loss. Microsoft’s keeping their head in the game was attributed to deep pockets at the time, but that’s not entirely true. They kept going while losing money hand over fist because the prize for them was not winning a video game console war, but rather to get consumers to accept a Microsoft made entertainment product in their living rooms… and it worked. Phase one was a mental success, not a monetary one.

A lot of phase two consisted of offering up movie services and various entertainment products in a digital medium. This can be seen in the Xbox 360. People began to accept the idea of subscribing to a digital service for content delivery. Microsoft tried, and failed, to introduce a physical medium of entertainment consumption via an optional HD-DVD drive, but they bet their money on the wrong horse. This part of the second phase would have to wait on a later date. Overall, though, with the Xbox 360, MS achieved wide acceptance and brand recognition with consumers who identified the Xbox brand with not only game playing, but social interaction and media consumption.

That brings us to today where phase three saw realization. A set top media box that’s a one stop shop for entertainment consumption, just as Bill Gates envisioned. This was the end game. Microsoft never had any long term plans to be in the gaming business… in fact they didn’t want to be in it in the first place. They just wanted to offer the backbone to the machine and rake in license revenue. And that’s why today’s unveiling of the Xbox One was all about TV and movies and media, and a little about games. It’s not a game machine, and they don’t want it viewed as such.

None of this information is secret or conjecture. It’s not from a personal company bias on my part. It’s all part of the public record that people seem to have forgotten or were not able to piece together. And all you irate Xbox gamers can’t really be mad because YOU were what was needed to to make it happen. Welcome to the future of media consumption in America.

The IPL vs County Cricket

Tags

, , , ,

There many people touting that the IPL is cricket’s very own evil force, while others say that County Cricket is totally pointless or, you know, dead.

ipl_logo

I should be a champion of only County Cricket. I love test cricket, and for me it is the only “pure” form of cricket and offers the most genuine of challenges to all who are lucky enough to play it.

That said, I’ve always enjoyed domestic limited overs cricket and the T20 competition when it was first conceived, over here, in England.

I’ve lapped up the IPL this year. I’ve chosen a new team, partly because they have a sillier name, partly because of Sangakarra, and partly because an interview with Dale Steyn changed my opinion of him. Also, I like to root for the underdogs, as this team will no doubt be. And they won. And again, and again. then lost. And again. So a mixed bag, but a great tournament so far and, I am sure, it has been helped by a few pitches that were harder to score on … this meant that bowlers were not merely cannon fodder. And also, that more games were close. Wins all around for everyone!

LVCC_2012

The County Championship started last week and I loved it. Fantastically every match is being covered by local BBC radio stations and each feed is available on the BBC website. This is wonderful for those who, with the help of internet scorecards, wish to follow the games without using 100 days of holiday that we obviously don’t have.

There was the customary early season clatter of wickets and the first century was made by a foreign star (happily not an Aussie – Hamish Marshall got that honour). Curiously, all eight matches started on time, but before the end of the four days a few were ruined by the weather, that said enough cricket was played to give me a smile for four days. Wonderful stuff.

Now … which is best? The IPL or the County Championship?

If I had to choose one event only, I would choose the County Championship.

If I was going to introduce a rookie to cricket, I’d choose the IPL.

Both formats have their flaws, both have wonderful qualities.

Get over yourself and enjoy all the cricket you can!

Top 10 SNES // SFC Games I *NEED* to play!

Tags

, , , , , ,

superfamicom_1680x1050
Back in the day, I owned a Megadrive and a PC Engine, so owning a SNES too was out of my financial range.

Because I didn’t get my own SFC until I was older (and my early SNES time was on mate’s consoles) my game knowledge on this delightful machine has some rather curious, and large, gaps.

Below are the top 10 games I figure I NEED to, hopefully, buy and play to death…

(1) Hagane images
hagane-5A crazy-looking apparently superb hack & slash platformer. Boxed it is stupidly expensive, I aim to find an unboxed copy.

It is supposed to be a brilliant, but the emulator I tried wasn’t perfect, however, I saw enough to start lusting!

(2) Ninja Warriors Againninja warr againNinjawarriors05
I do like Ninja Warriors. It is a lot of fun. I adored the music on the Amiga version, I still listen to it on my phone. This version is supposed to be the bees knees. I gather those are good, but I’ve yet to encounter them.


(3) Super Metroid
super metroid
super-metroid-snes-This omission of mine is indefensible. I don’t really know how I’ve managed to avoid it, or why I’ve not properly played a Metroid game on any console.

I like platform games, and shooting games, and …. there’s no explanation … I can only apologise 😦

(4) Secret of Manasecret manasecret of mana
There are reasons that I missed this game and the two that follow. You can’t as easily play RPGs on a mate’s console, I was getting all my RPG fixes on my Megadrive, and I preferred turn-based or strategy (grid-based) RPGs. Now, given that I’ve owned this title for ~20 years, I really should shut up, stop writing this crap, and play the game!

(5) Chrono Triggerchronotrigg
chrono triggerI only own this on the PS1, but I haven’t played it. If I had the coins, I’d stump up and buy this version. Whenever possible, I like to play a game on the console it first appeared on. I hear so much good about this game, I really need to find out for myself. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to break that seal though 😉

(6) Zelda – A Link to the Pastzelda
zelda linkHave you ever heard of this game? I had the GB original, and I never really got on with it. Fearing the same, I never got around to playing this version, even though I’ve owned it for 20 odd years, yeah just like S’o’Mana.

I recently tried the first Wii Zelda, and I hated it. Does that make me a bad person? 😉

(7) Spriggan Poweredspriggan
sprigganpoweredI love a shooter, me. And until recently I had no idea that the superb PC Engine blaster had this sequel. I must know more. But it is a shooter and therefore horribly expensive … but not quite out of reach!


(8) Captain Commandocaptain comm

captain comm2I’m also a sucker for a good scrolling fighter and Capcom rocked on the SFC. I never found this in the arcade, so now the time is right for me to correct half a life time of missing out. The graphics look, big, bold and colourful. I want.

(9) Rendering Ranger Zrend ranger
Rendering Ranger R2 This looks like a tech demo with all sorts of crazy parallax effects and giant sprites. But it also looks like a Turrican beater, and Turrican gets a mention further down. I yearn to know more about this game which came along late in the day for the SNES. I want to play it with a proper pad (a memory from a very brief emulation session).

(10) BioMetalbiometal
bio-metal.3Yes, another shooter that slipped me by. I gather it isn’t the very best either. But, and this is the twist, it contains the 2-Unlimited “song” Get Ready For This. How can I resist the urge to shoot and rave at the same time?! I can’t … can you?!

Oh, Ray & Anita, where are you now?

Nearly boys…
Axelay: a shooter, I have played it, but not properly & not in many years.
Rushing Beat: a scrolling scrapper, rumoured to be excellent, with the sequels even better.
Secret of Evermore: a fourth (action) RPG that I own and have not play. Looks absolutely gorgeous.
Sword Maniac: a hack & slash platformer. More affordable than Hagane, so I might play this one sooner!
Super Turrican: I’ve never played a Turrican properly either, but they do look good, and the musician is world class (Chris Husslebeck, sorry for the spelling).
Terranigma: a fifth (action) RPG that a mate swears is the best game ever. Who am I to doubt him? I own it, so I’d be a fool not to find out 😦

Top Ten SNES // SFC Games

Tags

, , , , , , ,

super_famicom_logo-10811

Here is a list of my top ten Super Famicom (Super Nintendo, or SNES) games. There are a few reasons why my list is a little odd. Firstly, I didn’t own one right away. As a student I couldn’t afford to keep my Megadrive, PC Engine, a 3rd console, and beer. I haven’t ever played a lot of the really rare titles and even some of the best known classics have eluded me. Maybe a game will be new to you, maybe not 🙂

(1) F-Zero254928-fzero_snes_1
For me, the greatest racer ever made … except its sequel, F-Zero X which of course would not have been possible without the original. At the time, there was nothing to touch its smooth frame rate and exhilarating speed. Because of its smoothness, it had a tendency to make people to lean while playing it. Especially if you put them on a swivel chair 🙂 Still a very rewarding game with a great soundtrack. Much much love, and the game that made me know that, one day, I would own a Super Famicom.

(2) Act Raiser (music by Yuzo Koshiro)actraiser
The music utterly astounded me. We knew the SFC had a great sound chip but we had heard nothing like this before. The game was OK at first, it took a while to realise just how good it was. A curious mix of a sharp & polish platform slasher with, at first, puzzling “build-em up” sections. Great that you could save your progress given the size of the game, as this was not the norm for non RPGs at that time. Still one of my top 3 game soundtracks ever.

(3) Street Fighter IIstreet-fighter-ii-snes
This is where I first learned the subtleties and thrills of Street Fighter II. This conversion is so good that it allowed me to complete the (same version) of the arcade with 20p. I’m sure you all know this game now, but at the time there was nothing else quite like it … I owe the SNES and Capcom a great deal. Actually, now that I own about 20 Capcom Street Fighter variants, I guess I can consider that debt paid! A top ten beat’em up list is here.

(4) Castlevaniacastlevania4-good-palette
If Act Raiser was a sharp hack and slash, then this was the living epitome of a well crafted platform hacker. Just wonderfully well made, always fair, and with each repeated play, you get a little bit better. Exactly the way games should be, and yet so infrequently are. Why isn’t it about Act Raiser then? Well it’s my list, that’s why.

(5) Super Ghouls ‘n’ GhostsSuper Ghouls 'N Ghosts-12
Man, this game is hard. Not always fair, but bloody bloody bloody addictive. Did I mention a debt I owe Capcom? They can sod off. I love this game. Sort of.

(6) Gradius IIIgradius-iii
The SFC has a poorer list of quality SHMUPS than the Megadrive or PC Engine. That said I couldn’t put this little bugger down – even though it features all the usual flaws (death means reset or take 30 deep breaths). Oddly, this version is better than the arcade counterpart – which is just FAR FAR FAR too hard – think Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, and double it. Oh, top tunes, and helpful slow down! I even did my first 1CC of it last year, so happy 🙂

(7) Super Mario WorldSuper_Mario_World_SNES_ScreenShot4
It a fairly decent platform game. You have to jump and collect coins. There’s a green dinosaur and something about a princess. Come on, your dog knows this game. OK, one thought: the best Mario ever.

(8) Final FightFinal_Fight_SNES_ScreenShot1
Big, massive bold sprites, great tunes (repetitive? Well, the SNES does have a tremendous sound chip), and a great game. May have been a couple of spots higher if it was two player like the sequel or the Mega-CD version, but still, this version is the one I played most. I still love it.

(9) Contra66105-contra-iii-the-alien-wars-snes-screenshot-level-2-overhead
Hard, punishing (hey, is that as common as good music on a SNES game?), two player co-op, and huge amounts of swearing and fun. Konami really rocked the SFC. Some great mode 7 effects, and super end of level guys. Shooting monsters and people has never been so much fun. But really, you’ve got to watch out for them bullets. Unforgiving.

(10) Top Racertop-racer
This is probably the oddest choice in my list. It isn’t the best multi-player game, heck even the music is “stolen” from the Amiga classic Lotus Esprit Turbo – but I do love those tunes in this SNES mix! I enjoyed it back in the day, it was fun, and not too hard early on. But what sold it to me recently was that it kept my two daughters quiet for a good long while, and they actually got fairly good at it. An epic win for those that understand the pain of parenting!

Please feel free to trash my filthy list for not including Final Fantasy (I was all over Phantasy Star, Shining Force, and Ys), Mario Kart (F-Zero), Metroid, and Megaman. I wish I could have included Hagane and Ninja Warriors again, alas, I’m not that rich 😦

One other thing, you may wish to look at another list of fantastic SFC games by a very cool forest based tweeter.

Top Ten 1-on-1 Beat ’em Up Blog VS

Tags

, , , , , ,

Now the fight is really on. Anton and I have been joined by Paul and we will reveal our top 10 1-on-1 beat ’em up games. Not scrolling brawlers like Double Dragon, Final Fight, or Golden Axe … that list might be next 🙂

Again, this isn’t a “best” list, but one of favourites.
OK, LET’S ROCK..

Dave’s TOP TEN 1-on-1 BEAT ‘EM UPS

TheWayOfTheExplodingFist(1) Way of the Exploding Fist (Sinclair Spectrum, 48k, tape).
This was the first ever fighting game I played. For that reason alone it had to feature somewhere. Because I loved it so, and it was the reason (several times) for me returning late home to a parental scolding, it gets the top spot. It is slow, with pretty much black and white outline sprites, but it has plenty of moves and absolute skill is required to win. Practice is rewarded. A real gem, and at the time of release unlike anything else I knew of.

c64_ikplus(2) International Karate Plus (C64, tape).
This was an update to International Karate, which was a good “clone” of the above game. This though, was 1-on-1-on-1, but it really plays like a normal 1-on-1 game. In single player mode you fought against 2 guys, and in 2-player mode there was always a computer controlled chap. You had 30 seconds to score 1 or 2 points for hits, which always knocked down your opponent briefly. 6 points won you the round directly – or if time ran out, proving you weren’t last, you stayed in. And it was FAST. Really fast. And it had one of Rob Hubbard’s most loved tunes. Actually, click that link and listen while you read the rest of my filth. Aged 15, I played this game before each of my GCSE exams as a form of stress relief. Or maybe I didn’t like revision that much.

Street Fighter 2 Turbo (2)(3) Street Fighter II (SFC, cart).
There was a moment when I first saw this in the arcade. I lost a few coins, I had a good time. I wanted more, but was a bit worried there wasn’t really enough game content to warrant a costly import. I was spectacularly wrong – and delighted. My mate had it on his SFC (Jap SNES) and it was on that fine machine that all the subtleties of this truly great fighter slowly dawned on me. Playing on hardest (level 8) it would take hours and I’d use 100+ continues completing it. That count slowly came down. In truth this game is a lot better than the two above, but without the two above I may not have wanted to play this one quite as much. This game was also responsible for my finest ever spending of 20p. At the arcade of Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University) I put 20p into the machine, I fought of 3 or 4 human players and went on to beat the game. That remains the only arcade I have ever 1CC’d.

SteetFighterIV(4) Street Fighter IV (PS3, blu-ray).
I was quite excited when I first saw the screen shots. Obviously I loved SF2 and I have enjoyed SF3 and many of the in-between games. This edition though could so easily have been butchered and fouled up. It wasn’t. Not one bit. The 2D gameplay remained, only it was slightly faster. Everything I wanted to kept was, and all the new bits were fine. Beating up a Frenchman online was beautiful. Proof that new games can be as awesome as retro ones. Something that doesn’t always appear possible. Thank you, Capcom, for this wonderful update.

kasumi(5) Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast, Gd-Rom).
Kasumi is almost solely responsible for me giving 3D a chance. 2 reasons. Yup, you guessed it – her nice big eyes. I have always resisted 3D fighters, but this one had two other things going for it as well: firstly it looked gorgeous, and secondly it was a hell of a lot of fun. I loved the way the moves follow each other as you pummel away on opponents, I adore the multi-level stages as players crash through wall, off bridges etc. Sometimes I had no idea what I was doing, but there is a deceptive amount of depth to the fighting in this game. Counters, throws, and attacks all have advantages over each other. If you’ve never tried it, I can’t recommend it enough — just stay away from the Volleyball games, please!!!

kingoffighters99JH(6) King of Fighters ’99 (NeoGeo AES).
The thing about King of Fighters series being so vast is that, in a list like this, the possibility for a single title to stand out is reduced. I have gone for this version because it was the first BIG, memory wise, NeoGeo AES game I was able to purchase (I think it was £80 on eBay). The whole KoF series is not about glitz, glamour, or gimmick. What you do get is one of the very tightest fighting models anywhere. Practice is rewarded, and a good understand of when and how to use the moves and special moves is essential. A wonderful series that quietly demands your full attention.

Soul_Calibur_DC(7) Soul Calibur (Dreamcast, Gd-Rom).
My 2nd 3D entry. And it just gets in. I want to leave it out simply because so many people over-hype it. But I can’t, when I had the DC version I went through all the mission levels (so much more fun than the most modern tutorials) and developed a better understanding of the game. This resulted in much more enjoyment, though I confess I have forgotten all the subtleties I once learned 😦

WakuWaku7-BonusKun_and_Fernandez(8) Waku Waku 7 (Sega Saturn, Cd-Rom).
For madness alone, this is a must. you cannot help but show anyone new to Japanese gaming a fine example of their creative mentalness. It plays in a similar vein to other SNK fighters but the characters are plain bonkers. On top of superb two-player madcap fun, the one player game is a solid one. So great that this game is available on the Saturn because the NeoGeo AES version is way too expensive!

Street-Fighter-Alpha-3-MAX-WG(9) Street Fighter Alpha 3 (GBA micro, cart).
Never would I have expected to get such a beast of a game so perfectly ported to such a small device. Paired up with a GBA Micro you have a spectacular rendition of one of the best fighting games in history that fits into the very smallest of pockets. Thy really did a fine job here – this is by some distance the best pocket fighter, that way it can’t be compared to the PSP version 😉

mortalkombat(10) Mortal Kombat (Intel 486 PC, seriously!)
I never wanted to like Mortal Kombat. I didn’t like its digitised graphical style and it wasn’t Japanese. By my mate had it on his PC, and other mates kept playing it, so I was “forced” to join in. After a while I had to admit the fighting mechanic was decent and the game was fun. I even started to like Sonya Blade. And yes, the newer MK games might be better, but this was the most important to me; without it, I wouldn’t own any of the others.

Surprising omission: Virtua Fighter.
It is surprising for me because I am a SEGA fan-boy, but I was hugely resistant to 3D fighters early on. I found them awkward and relied too heavily on vast numbers of moves that need to me memorised, as opposed to a lesser number of techniques to be understood. Basically, I didn’t like losing 😉

Other Kicking Fighters:
There are many other fighter I own and want to play enough so that they stood a better chance of making this list: Ninku (Sat), Arcana Heart 3 (360), Astra Superstars (Sat), Sonic Council (Sat), Mortal Kombat DC Universe (360), Rival Schools 2 (PS), Gal Fighters (NGPC), Guilty Gear Petit (NGPC), Golden Axe the Duel (Sat), Tatsunoko vs Capcom (Wii), Cyberbots (Sat), Battle Fantasia (360), Blaz Blue (PS3), Guilty Gear (PS1), World Heroes Perfect (Sat), Last Blade (DC), Samuari Shodown (NeoGeo), Capcom vs SNK (DC), Capcom Fighting Jam (PS2), Street Fighter III (DC), Street Fighter Zero (Sat), Any of KoF (NeoGeo), Yu Yu Hakusho (MD), Bleach: Heat the Soul II (PSP), Darkstalkers (PSP), Matrimellee (NeoGeo), Groove On Fight (Sat).

Now you’ve done that, please check Paul’s and Anton’s blogs.
By the end of it all, you may consider yourself knowledgeable.

There and Back Again – ‘Tween Triumph and Disaster

There and Back Again – ‘Tween Triumph and Disaster

England have a deserving lead of 2-1 in this exciting test series. It has not panned out like most reasoned spectators would have figured. Many expected slow games, a few draws, and India to win 1-0. After the first test, it appeared this could happen or, for the tourists, it could be a whole lot worse. England could not play spin and they could not bowl sides out on flat tracks; the same old stories.

Two weeks later, the Indians are in total despair and the English are euphoric. The fact is, that if India bowl well, and England have another of their well-famed batting collapses, the series will end at two games each.

My point is a simple one. Let us keep our heads a little and enjoy this contest for what it is. Two good sides that are each capable of beating the other, and handsomely when things go well. We do not need to overstate England’s wins any more than we need to lament India’s losses. In the wider picture, India’s batting is deep into a period of transition. The old guard are gone – some literally, others figuratively. The youth can be inspirational, but seldom consistent. Enjoy the success of Pujara, be patient with the sublime talent of Kohli, debate the effectiveness of Dhoni and enjoy the all-round grit and skill of Ashwin. Above all, try to enjoy the cricket, for both teams will have good times and bad – hopefully not too long between each one; for without the bad, the good is harder to appreciate.

Two sections of Rudyard Kipling’s timeless “If” explain it better than I ever could…

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

The full poem: http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_if.htm

PS: We should also be VERY happy there have been 3 results out of 3,
thus far, and a 4th result looks likely! Less than 24 hours to go 🙂