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Lord_Alan Blog

Sonic the Hedgehog- 20th Anniversary Review

Hey everyone!

I'm not dead. I've been working very hard at Split Screen over the past six months- we've had some articles featured on Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku and UK Resistance. I'm now writing freelance for Strategy Informer: please come by and check out my reviews for Star Raiders and Gatling Gears.

Something that hopefully will be of interest to you all: I've written a review of Sonic the Hedgehog for its 20th anniversary. It's more a trip down memory lane than an objective assessment, but I enjoyed writing it and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Say hello on Twitter and let me know how you're doing: I'm @AGBear.

All the best,


The Split Screen Podcast

Split Screen has being going for a few months now and we're now taking things to the next level with:

the split screen podcast

A new, half hour show of interesting gaming and technology discussions. Please visit the link by clicking the image- you can subscribe via iTunes, RSS and Zune!


Split Screen

Hello everyone,

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of my new website: Split Screen! Games and technology reviews, features and opinion, with more jokes than you can shake a joystick at.

Please have a look and send me your feedback by Gamespot PM or email to alanREMOVETHISTEXT@split-screen.net Thanks!

New content includes:

  • Alan Wake review
  • My pick of the worst Mega Drive games ever
  • All of my old content including the articles that awarded me Runner Up at the Guardian Student Media Awards



Still Alive

Three points of interest:

1) I've written a review of Shadow Complex. I hope you like it.

2) I turned 23 over the weekend! My girlfriend got me a Street Fighter IV Mad Catz fighting stick, Fallout 3, Zack and Wiki, a t-shirt that I can't mention here in case children are present, and a Bad Religion mug. Hooray!

3) I've been shortlisted in the Guardian Student Media Awards 2009 for Critic of the Year! I'm going to an award ceremony in London this November to find out whether I've won. Obviously I was a bit shocked and very proud to find out, even more so that it was for my games reviews. Thank you to everyone who ever spurred me on by saying they liked my content on Gamespot =)

I will be starting a long overdue website soon (and by website, I really mean blog, but I detest the use of that word) with lots more interesting content by myself. I find it difficult to get enthusiastic about keeping a Gamespot blog to be honest, unless of course someone is willing to pay me for it ;)


RIP 3D Realms

3D Realms is (are?) no more

This morning I read the very sad news that 3D Realms, developer of Duke Nukem 3D and alleged developer of Duke Nukem Forever were closing. Duke Nukem 3D was one of the first FPS games I ever played and I still have great memories of it... what horrible news to read first thing in the morning.

Here's hoping 3DR are saved from the brink of extinction somehow, since DNF actually looked close to completion this time!

Game Over?

This was my last column as Tech editor for The Student. Not really sure where to go from here... I might migrate my writing to a blog and keep my Gamespot page open for game-related stuff, reviews etc. Would anyone really miss me?

Leave it to Apple to come up with gadgets you didn't even know you wanted. Ladies and gentlemen, let me present to you: the iPod Bluetooth Diabetes Monitor. An adapter pricks your finger and reads blood sugar levels, which are then sent to the iPod and your dietary recommendations for the day are calculated. I can't wait to find out what it makes of my lunch- half a bag of tortilla chips and a packet of chocolate Hobnobs (sadly, this is not a joke). Better yet, we should push for Xbox Live integration so players can browse online leaderboards of the highest blood sugar levels, unlocking achievements like "obesity" and "blindness" along the way. Who will drink enough golden syrup to be crowned number one?

It's been over a year since I joined the editorial team at The Student and raised the bar for the number of terrible similes included in one article. My motivation for writing has always been transparent. I believe technology, science and games are fun, exciting and worth writing and reading about, regardless of whether you're a hardcore nerd or think "megahertz" is a geeky synonym for a hangover. If I managed to convince even one person of this during my tenure, it has been time well spent.

And now... Similes of the Year! Craig selected his favourites from a year of writing, which I've reprinted below for your viewing pleasure.

on Mass Effect: "Steering the Mako is akin to steering a sackful of balloons using a hair dryer"

on the Max Payne movie: "The aesthetic of Sin City has been sloppily smeared into the gaping holes in the script like Polyfilla."

on art in nonviolent games: "Cooking Mama looks like it was drawn by an alien race who had never seen human food before, while Beautiful Katamari is as 'beautiful' as a box of Duplo half-chewed by a three year old."

on MGS4: "Metal Gear Solid 4 is so heavy on narrative that it squashes the underlying game like a fat man riding a child's bicycle"

on Twitter: "Welcome to the future of communication: it's like being smacked over the head with a newspaper until you actively acknowledge the contents"

I have glasses!

Possibly the most boring blog ever...

alan glasses

I couldn't see lecture slides properly the other week, so booked myself into the optician's. Turns out I'm short-sighted in my right eye. I don't need to wear glasses all the time: just if I'm driving, using the computer or watching TV shows with a lot of text. So basically all the time then. Games made be blind!

Tech Off- Twitter, Brain Training

I didn't want to write yet another piece on Twitter, but with nothing else interesting to cover at 6pm on a Saturday it seems inevitable. Sky News has appointed a 'Twitter correspondent': not to send out 140 character bulletins thankfully, but to peruse feeds in the hope of gaining a scoop. These breaking headlines would include "I've got a headache" and "I am eating a cheese sandwich" for those of you unfamiliar with the actual contents of a tweet.

Twitter is a glorified Facebook status update. The best thing about downloading the Tweetdeck program, which automatically updates feeds like a newsreader, is that you slowly come to the realisation that the lives of celebrities are just as boring as yours. The worst thing about it is that you're continually harassed with a deluge of banality and have to sift out the updates you actually want to read. Welcome to the future of communication: it's like being smacked over the head with a newspaper until you actively acknowledge the contents. Except the contents are crap.

I should be grateful to the almighty T for helping to spread awareness of my satirical EUSA presidential election video. According to the YouTube statistics, Twitter accounted for nearly 200 views (compared to over 400 for Facebook) of just over 1000 total. Aside from its use as a tool to promote my dissertation-stalling hobbies, however, Twitter is a fad and surely won't take over every waking moment of free time in the way Facebook does.

A report commissioned by Which? has shown that software like Brain Training doesn't actually improve mental performance… except when playing Brain Training. Even Dr Kawashima can't help Cheryl Cole boost her powers of mental reasoning- did anyone expect otherwise? That's like saying playing violent games all day would somehow train you to be a killer. Oh, wait. Never mind.
By the way, don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @AGBear. Thanks.

Video of the Week: Alan for President

Here's what I do in my spare time...


A heads-up: EUSA is the Edinburgh University Students' Association. They are currently holding elections for sabbaticals. I got tired of seeing the terrible, cheesy videos of the contenders, so made a spoof one for myself. Enjoy!

Contains exclusive footage of me urinating and playing Rock Band. Don't miss out!

Tech Me Out: The DSi, Microsoft's retails ventures

Nintendo executives took a break from swimming around in vats of money and smoking cigars rolled from 10,000 Yen notes to announce the release of the new DSi in Europe on April 3. It's just like your regular old DS Lite, with some added features nobody wanted like two VGA cameras (which will make your friends look like characters from Duke Nukem 3D) and an SD card slot for loading your own music, for the five people in the world who haven't bought an iPod yet.

Also included is a built-in web browser. Does anyone see the problem with using a miniscule stylus to surf the web on a teeny-tiny screen? It's like eating chow mein with only one chopstick: theoretically possible, yes, but ultimately a pain in the arse when there are more sensible options available. I'll admit there's a charming novelty in changing my Facebook status to "Alan IS ON A DSi ANDITSNOT VERRY GOOD!" but perhaps not worth the £150 asking price.

Following in the footsteps of Apple, Microsoft are opening their own chain of retail stores to "transform the PC and Microsoft buying experience"… in the middle of an emergent global recession that has seen several retailers on the verge of bankruptcy. Anything that helps consumer choice is a good thing and five minutes with Windows Vista should make the choice pretty clear: buy a Mac.