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  1. Gear4Music are Eh, with a humbucker she might be fine for bedroom playing, I'd imagine the bass has a pretty decent output gain. I'd certainly wait and see rather than rushing in to spend more money. Gear4Music are actually a UK company based here in York, but they have a distribution centre in Sweden. It's mainly there to serve the Nordic market, but if they don't have something in the UK they'll offer to ship it from there, although that carries extra costs. Their big showroom here is fantastic, my kids call it the Music Zoo. Come and buy a harp, a piano, a bass guitar, a giant gong, clarinet, tuba, drumkit, DJ setup, synths, you name it.
  2. I am really enjoying the free trial of River City Girls. Love the sense of humour/attitude, and the way your move set develops is great, and stops it being a dull button masher. Also, those tunes!
  3. FF4, 5 and 6 are wildly different, really (I’ll abandon Roman numerals to make this less confusing). Jeremy Parish’s retrospective on Super Nintendo Works helped me properly understand FF4. What it’s remembered for is being the first JRPG with buckets of dialogue, character development and cutscenes. This is indeed all present, if a bit primitive compared to later SNES JRPGs. But what about the actual gameplay? Basically, each dungeon is like a challenge scenario using the familiar job classes from FF1/3. The game is constantly moving the goalposts to set up each challenge, adding and removing characters from your party, setting dungeon specific rules (e.g. no metal items), resetting the protagonist to a L1 weakling, giving you dungeons full of a specific element type, etc. This all happens for plot reasons, so it seems organic enough. But what you then have is basically a puzzle - what tactics or party setup do you need to get through this dungeon with the restrictions you’ve been given? Combat is how you put that solution to the test, and the encounters are relentless. It’s kind of methodical fun once you learn to think of it that way, and it feels good to work out what is clearly the “intended” solution. If you don’t think of it that way, then you’ll get angry at the game constantly fucking with your party each time you think you’ve found a good strategy. But that’s the entire point! That said, by the end of the game the encounter rate is utterly wearing, particularly with the battle transition noise. I finished it, but I had to really push myself to do the last 4hrs or so. If you do give it a try, I very much recommend the Namingway Edition patch, which gives you a game with the same kind of vibe as the Woolsey FF2 US translation, but with the entire game present and all relevant dialogue restored.
  4. Chrono Trigger does something similar - it’s linear up to about half way, then everything becomes non-linear and optional. Which is when the real fun-with-paradoxes stuff starts. I would recommend you avoid Final Fantasy IV based on your feelings on random battles in dungeons. It’s gruelling. I would recommend Phantasy Star IV if you haven’t played it. Very different to FF6 and CT, but definitely sharing the podium with them when it comes to the pinnacle of 16-bit JRPGs. It does have random encounters but they’re really streamlined, and the dungeon design is wonderfully friendly.
  5. Speaking of Ure-era Ultravox, I was surprised recently to discover that one of my favourite Yellow Magic Orchestra tracks, CUE, was directly influenced by a Vienna-era Ultravox b-side, Passionate Reply. It's pretty blatant when you hear them side by side, although I think the YMO track is superior. Apparently Sakamoto refused to play on the YMO track, partially as he was on bad terms Hosono and Takahashi through the whole of BGM, partially because he didn't approve of such a clear "inspiration", and partially because he didn't really like Ultravox. He's softened on it a bit since, and included it on the UC YMO compilation he was in charge of compiling, saying he enjoyed playing drums on it when they played it live.
  6. This recent arrival: Ultravox - Systems of Romance (1978), original Island Masters CD issue. This is kind of fascinating. I have Ha! Ha! Ha! and Vienna, which sound very different, and I was expecting this to be closer to the latter than the former, given as it's the Foxx era. But it's really the template for most of Vienna. There's footage out there of Ure singing this material just after he joined the band, before the Vienna material was finished, and TBH it's not a stretch. He pretty neatly picked up a lot of Foxx's songwriting style and Simon's guitar playing. I've been very much enjoying exploring the whole 1977-84 birth of UK synth pop journey this summer, and have been surprised at how many bands started out as glam or punk acts. The BBC's excellent Synth Britannia documentary was good on this - that the arrival of cheap synths were disruptive tech that let anyone with ideas make music, the punk ethos applied to an instrument that took even less training than the guitar.
  7. I used to have an Orange Crush Bass 50 back in NZ, it was very nice indeed. It had a 12" speaker, which meant it could hold its own in garage-band jam sessions with a drummer, rather than just for playing at home. I was playing a Squier Jaguar Bass SS with flatwounds for a vintage 60s sound, and it was a great guitar. I have a Fender Japan Mustang Bass these days, and I wouldn't say it's any better or worse than the Squier was, despite costing at least twice as much. It might be worth trying a short scale (30" from nut to bridge) bass as well as a conventional scale (34"). A lot of snobs will say that basses have to be full scale, but tell that to Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney, Bill Wyman, Trevor Bolder, Tina Weymouth or, uh, that guy from Royal Blood. I have relatively short arms, and greatly prefer them, and I know a lot of female players do too (but not all, Carol Kaye, etc). The trade-off for a shorter scale can be less string tension, but if you put flatwounds on there, they have a higher tension anyway so it all kind of cancels out.
  8. Ooh, Count Zero. I’ll have that. Ta!
  9. If I'd actually said that, I'd concede the point. The first and second paragraphs of my post aren't really connected - I was just happy to unexpectedly get the statue, currently sitting on my left speaker. What I referred to in the first paragraph was the movement of people to get e-shop refunds for Pokemon Scarlet / Violet based on them being a mess technically, with some success. No idea how many people that represents, but it's certainly generated a lot of news stories, and the refunds being granted is evidence of Nintendo having to admit it's unacceptably poor. Please understand.
  10. The wording there is interesting. They know they've fucked up! Presumably all the people claiming refunds on their e-shop purchases have made a point. Picked up the physical from Game at the weekend to squirrel away for Christmas. It was a spur of the moment purchase, but apparently a lot of people didn't bother picking up their pre-orders, so we got the fancy bag and starter statue pre-order bonuses for free. There has also been a shift in local poltiics, and my son has now abandoned Quaxly for Fuecoco, meaning I get the duck. Fine by me!
  11. Agreed on Penthouse, it's the drum rhythms that are quite startlingly modern. Luxury Gap seems to be a later remastering without pre-emphasis, but it still sounds pretty dynamic. Sounds like it's had a rough time on CD, with at least one version having pre-emphasised audio but no flags to decode it properly! Blue Nile is an interesting one, it didn't click with me at first, feeling a bit smooth in production and earnest in delivery. But for all that I've been enjoying early synth pop for the amount of air in the mix, this has a semi-ambient synth bed under everything which combined with the vocal style just feels weirdly comforting. It gives me the "I'm dog tired, but right now things are OK" feelings I'd get when trying to resettle my kids at stupid o'clock when they were babies. I think it's that same vibe that knocks the cats out. I think Kiran Leonard went off to study at Oxford Uni, as he was obscenely precocious and put out Bowler Hat Soup at age 17. Looks like he put someone new out late last year, but it was a collection of older recordings, so not sure whether he's still properly active. I'd like to pick up more Cocteau Twins, but it doesn't turn up much. I found Four Calendar Cafe at the car boot this year, so I'm two albums in. Think I'm happy to play the long game, though.
  12. I found myself playing the Mega Drive port of Lemmings the other day. Fired it up just to show my 6 year old son what a Lemmings game was, but found it surprisingly very playable. The sound effects have taken a hit (no "Oh no!", and the lemmings go through the exit with an odd farting noise), but the graphics and gameplay are intact, and the controls aren't at all bad, provided you're using a 6-button MD pad (or, in my case, an 8bitdo M30). I managed to get about 18 levels in without getting annoyed at the controls, then accidentally triggered the Mega Everdrive's menu and broke everything. Makes me want to get Lemmings working on something with a mouse, though. Are there any modern interpreters that use the Amiga graphics and sound, rather than the "superior" Windows graphics?
  13. A dump of some recent acquisitions. Charity shop finds - a bunch of King Crimson, and Bowler Hat Soup by Kiran Leonard. King Crimson are one of those bands I knew by reputation, but had never heard. After listening, I think I prefer Fripp as a seasoning than as a main course. The Kiran Leonard is fun, Marc Riley used to play Geraldo's Farm a lot. Some trades from another forum. All three are great! The H17 and Blue Nile both have Pre-Emphasis, despite Hats being from 1989 - very unusual. The PCO disc is a compilation from the mid-90s that seems quite nicely mastered, would be a good one stop shop if those were your tastes (I'm going to chase down all the albums, though). The kittens in the background love Hats, it just blisses them out and they go to sleep. A random selection from the car boot. Somehow I've never owned any Royskopp - fun to hear Karin Dreijer from The Knife pop up on one track. Help was an interesting nostalgia trip for 50p, but won't be sticking around. Pleased with Siamese Dream, which is a nice old Nimbus disc. A bunch from Music Magpie with a 20% off voucher. Dare! sounds fantastic, although it has pre-emphasis again, so caution. The Blondie is one of the favoured mid-90s UK remasterings which are moderately hard to find. The Ultravox! (Jonh Foxx era) is an original Island Master disc, but it's on UK PDO and is a bit of a worrying colour - still playing OK right now, though. It's fantastic, IMO! So different from the Midge Ure era, and yet it has that same driving drumming. The last car boot of the season. Royskopp's debut, a very early Rolling Stones CD with MFSL mastering, and what looks l like an early 2000s re-issue of A Secret Wish by Propoganda, which nicely puts the cap on a seaon of synth pop exploration - the ultimate fusion of Dusseldorf and UK sound. It's very good, and seems well mastered for the era. More stuff from Magpie on another 20% off, cost about £9.75 the lot. All original masterings and sounding great. Having heard post-split Human League and H17, Travelogue is fascinatingly different from the resultant halves. Not sure Up Tight is for the ages, but it was the last Booker T & The MGs album I was missing. The PCO is wonderful, and Robert Cray is reliably excellent.
  14. Any idea if MonolithSoft were involved in this at all? I know they lent a hand on BOTW, Sw/Sh and Arceus, and generally have a rep as being Nintendo's technical fix-up crew, particularly for open world stuff. I'm wondering if they were too busy on Xenoblade 3, and Sc/Vi demonstrating the impact of their absence. Although the posts about a windmill make me laugh, given as the only really noticeable frame-rate drop in Xenoblade 2 was that flipping windmill in the middle of Torigoth. Avoid moving windmills at all costs!
  15. I absolutely rinsed FFIV about 20 years ago on emulation, but keep meaning to replay it on the Super NT. It seems there’s a translation fix-up/bugfix patch for it now, by the same people who did the excellent Final Fantasy IV Namingway Edition. These keep the character of the original translations, but fix up some mistakes and minor mistranslations, while also fixing heaps of bugs and adding a few optional QoL improvements. Problem is, I have a backlog of stuff to finish on Switch already, and I’d probably get more out of playing Xenoblade 3 for the first time than replaying FFVI. Perhaps if I ever get an Analogue Pocket…
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