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Giles Hill

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Xenon: Bitmap Brothers' (mega)blast from the past

Xenon marked the beginning of a distinguished career for The Bitmap Brothers, legendary developers of the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST era. Overhead, vertically scrolling shooters were doing great trade in arcades across the land, and with its exposure on Saturday morning kids’ show Get Fresh (you don’t remember Gaz Top and …
Giles Hill, 19 Mar 2014
Space Harrier

Vertical take-off and laughing: Space Harrier

One of the outright joys of retro gaming is being able to look back at some very esoteric design choices and general weirdness that sometimes surrounds old titles: forgotten little segments of youth culture, odd nuances that found their place due to technical limitations, and novel arcade game concepts designed to draw more and …
Giles Hill, 18 Feb 2014
Speedball

Globe grabbin,’ sphere slammin’, orb-tossin’, pill poppin’... Speedball

When the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST together ruled the home computing scene, video games were a long way from the million dollar money-spinners they have become. Getting public and media attention for a game wasn’t easy, but one of the more effective techniques employed by game designers was to create titles that took ‘ …
Giles Hill, 27 Jan 2014
Out Run

Sega’s Out Run: Even better than the wheel thing

How bereft the coin-op arcades of yesteryear must have looked before the arrival of the audacious, muscle-flexing Out Run machine. It’s true that Hang On and Space Harrier laid the foundations a year before, but Out Run was Sega’s golden moment in sit-down, "experience" videogame machinery. There were two versions of the deluxe …
Giles Hill, 18 Dec 2013
Tomb Raider

Hooters, shooters and looters: Eidos’s Tomb Raider

It has been argued that Tomb Raider’s star, Lara Croft, was the first feminist female of video games: a bastion of 1990s "girl power" and the "ladette" culture that was (supposedly) happening at the time, and thus a great role-model for young empowered women everywhere. Then again, take one glance at Lara posing on the cover for …
Giles Hill, 25 Nov 2013
Alone in the Dark

Ding-dong, Cthulu calling: Infogrames’ 1992 Alone in the Dark

There was a time when you were considered a bit of a sissy if a computer game scared you. Yet along with the numerous innovations Alone in the Dark brought to the gaming world, it was one of the first titles to genuinely put the shits up anyone brave enough to play it. Creaky floorboards, distant howls, Hitchcock camera angles, …
Giles Hill, 31 Oct 2013
Grand Theft Auto

It's Grand Theft Auto 5 day: Any of you kids remember GTA the First?

Grand Theft Auto 5 – one of the most keenly anticipated video games ever – was officially released today, although a few people apparently got their packages a few days ago. The preview videos show it to be stunningly accomplished, and no doubt it will sell phenomenally well. Yet many of the young adults who make an excited …
Giles Hill, 17 Sep 2013
Starfox

Starwing: Nintendo, Argonaut's Brit boffinry and the Super FX chip

For every cock-up or failed venture made by Nintendo, the company has made some bitingly shrewd moves along the way. Hold the orthodox-looking SNES cartridge for the game Starfox in your hand and you may not realise the significance of the custom circuitry and chips contained therein. The title was Nintendo’s first big push into …
Giles Hill, 15 Aug 2013
Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia: Baggy trousers and curvy swords

Prince of Persia was surely one of the most ubiquitous Dixons demo titles of the early 1990s. Mesmerised onlookers gazed at the smooth-moving, cartoon-like animation, while bewildered sales drones looked on wondering whether any of these humans would ever manage to get past level one. Hang around long enough randomly pressing …
Giles Hill, 01 Jul 2013
Sonic X-treme

Sonic the Hedgehog

Pocket-money saved, game ordered, wait for the postman and... nothing. A friend had the game already – rubbing salt into the wound – yet my journey of anticipation home from school each day still arrived at a big hole of spiky blue hedgehog nothingness. The original Sonic the Hedgehog was especially hyped throughout its long …
Giles Hill, 11 Apr 2013
Space Invader

Twenty classic arcade games

I’d better say it from the outset: picking 20 all-time arcade game classics is a nightmarish task, not simply because of the almost endless array of titles available to choose from, but because of all the really good ones you have to omit. Space Invader Here then, are the titles that made the cut, either because they have had …
Giles Hill, 05 Mar 2013
Raspberry Pi and Lego Supercomputer, credit Simon J Cox 2012

Bash Street bytes: Do UK schools really need the Raspberry Pi?

There’s been a right fracas in education this year, with the government proclaiming that ICT (Information and Communication Technology) teaching is dull and demotivating, and that kids need to be be taught more programming, and less use of applications. Into the fray like a white knight comes the Raspberry Pi, a tool designed to …
Giles Hill, 27 Nov 2012
Streetfighter 2: The World Warrior

Streetfighter 2: The World Warrior

Yoga-fire! Had-uken! A-shab-dap-whoo-jit! In the early 1990s, such was common playground talk up and down the country, as children re-enacted their Streetfighter 2 fantasies, and dinner-ladies looked on in bewilderment. Streetfighter 2: The World Warrior Eight controllable characters was something of a revelation 20 years ago …
Giles Hill, 18 Jul 2012
Pentax Optio WG-2 rugged camera

Eight... Rugged Cameras

Has anybody not trashed a digital camera at some point while out and about? Dust or sand, water or ice-cream, the great outdoors ruthlessly claims its tech victims on a daily basis. While manufacturers have busily carved out a niche of rugged ‘adventure-proof’ cameras, the truth is that most people, whether on the slopes, at the …
Giles Hill, 07 Apr 2012
Olloclip three-in-one lens accessory for iPhone

Olloclip three-in-one lens

So Apple’s surprise non-announcement last week still made your original iPhone 4 feel a bit less special? Well, before you ditch and switch, maybe this is the alternative: bling up! Olloclip three-in-one lens accessory for iPhone Olloclip is a three-in-one lens attachment that adds plenty of extra zing to the iPhone 4’s …
Giles Hill, 10 Oct 2011
Ten... Outdoor Gadgets

Ten... outdoor gadgets

Experiencing the great outdoors is fundamentally about escaping the trappings of modern life – leaving all the gadgets and gizmos we carry around at home – right? Well, maybe not – as there’s a mountain of technology ready to enhance, rather than detract from your chosen outdoor pursuit, however extreme or placid. To document …
Giles Hill, 20 Aug 2011
Contour GPS Bluetooth camera

Contour GPS Bluetooth camcorder

Contour has been making a lot of noise recently about the new wireless viewfinder feature for its HD range of helmet cameras. With these units being necessarily small, the idea is that the viewfinder bulk is taken care of by using your phone's display, with a Bluetooth connection streaming the pics and video. Simply download a …
Giles Hill, 12 Jul 2011
H2O water-powered radio

H2O water-powered shower radio

Produced by Vivian Blick, a man who helped launch the wind-up radio, this shower-powered version is due to become the new must-have amongst ‘eco-trendies’ everywhere. The fact that shower-radios probably make you spend more time in the shower – thereby using more clean water and power – is an eco-flaw we’ll just have to ignore …
Giles Hill, 13 Apr 2011
GoPro HD Hero

GoPro HD Hero camera

For show-offs and general posers outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, GoPro devices tap neatly into all sorts of extreme sports where cameras have previously been off-limits. Indeed, the Hero range can be stuck, worn, twisted and clipped in numerous tricky places. GoPro HD Hero GoPro's HD Hero: one camera, several guises The …
Giles Hill, 16 Sep 2010