I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year! I appreciate all your kindness on my web blog with comments and I look forward to posting more interesting messages to keep you entertained in 2007.
As a writer on eMagi, I have the ability to contribute some articles that are relevant to the website’s audiences and myself. The features that I write cover a wide range of subjects including entertainment, sport and video games.
Even though eMagi hasn’t grown that much since its format was moved from the original concept on the PSP to the Net (initially, it was to appear as a screen-based magazine that can viewed on the PlayStation Portable). It is surprising to see how much interest and coverage the website magazine is getting despite a lack of online promotion.
And the most impressive aspects are that some of the articles I have written for eMagi only have been linked to Reuters, a leading online news agency. To my amazement, not one but ten news articles in total!
It certainly pays off writing appealing and fun articles based on my favourite interests.
See the ten headlines listed below for the link to Reuters. Click on the eMagi part to ‘track back’ to the original source material.
After purchasing my new electronic toy on Friday, I wasted no time setting up the Nintendo Wii and playing the four great games all weekend.
My sister and I created a series of Mii characters including Noel Edmonds from TV’s Deal Or No Deal! The look of these cartoon-like figures is very cute and my Mii character (above) can be seen ready for bowling.
Wii Sports proves to be the most popular with my family as we had enormous fun in bowling and tennis. Even though my parents are not fans of video games in general, it was surprising to see them having fun and enjoying the experience.
As for stories regarding ‘Wii damaged’ due to the controller flying out of the player’s hand and breaking something expensive, this has happened in our household! My sister got too excited when she bowled a 10-pin strike in Wii Bowling that she raised her two hands in the air in triumph and ‘accidentally’ breaking the chandelier!
The Wiimote still works but the tell-tale signs of the destruction can be seen by two dent marks near the ‘B’ trigger…
Anyway, back to the games. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz proved to be more challenging to play than the original GameCube version, as you had to tilt and twist the Wiimote to move the gorgeous monkey around the stage. At first, it was quite tricky to control, but after a while, you become more confident with your wrist action in the single player mode.
As for the 50 party games in the new Super Monkey, some of them seem to be ‘hit and miss’ in terms of game play. Monkey Race, one of my favourites in Super Monkey Ball 1 and 2 has now lost it’s ‘magic’ in the new Wii version. It doesn’t feel the same as you rotate the controller left and right to move in those directions. And what have they done to Monkey Target? It’s feel more complicated with the added bonus ball…
The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the best-looking game currently on the Wii and even though I haven’t played a single Zelda game on the past Nintendo system (yes, shame on me really), I am intrigued by this new Link adventure game.
My sister adores the Zelda series and she feels very excited by Twilight Princess. It will take her quite a while to play this epic RPG I reckon.
And the last game we played over the weekend was the disappointing Wii Play. I had to buy this game to get the extra Wiimote as no shops (online and on the high street) sell the controller as a standalone product.
Wii Play is a series of short mini games introducing key functions on the Wiimote. The games are quite basic focusing on your ability to point, twist and turn the motion-sensor controller.
Last Sunday (December 3rd), I had the unique opportunity to meet some of my motor racing stars at London. That night, a special awards evening was held at the Gosvenor House Hotel near Park Lane.
I meet up with my friends who braved the December cold as we waited to get our autographs from the famous racing drivers.
We stood outside the hotel for around three hours and despite the bitterly cold weather, we managed to get our personal books and items signed by the motor racing celebrities.
As you tell by the photograph, I’ve collected a whole range of signatures on my red Dekra (Michael Schumacher’s personal sponsored) cap. Here you can see me wearing a woolly hat with scarf getting my cap signed by Honda’s racing sporting director Gil de Ferran!
Meeting the drivers was a great honour and it was a friendly atmosphere as I chatted to some familiar faces like Murray Walker, Jason Plato, Matt Neal and Nick Fry. The highlight was meeting the two future British stars, McLaren’s new driver Lewis Hamilton and Super Aguri’s Anthony Davidson.
Yes! I finally got myself a Nintendo Wii today along with three games for my new video game system – Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Wii Play.
I was not surprised to hear that all the Wii units were sold out on Friday as it proves to be the ‘must have’ Christmas gift this year.
Finding the accessories for the Wii proved more difficult than getting the console itself for those who didn’t pre-ordered… There were no stocks of the Wiimote or the Nunchuk controller, but luckily I managed to get one against the odds during my shopping trip in Central London.
Can’t wait to play the multiplayer games against my sister and family in Wii Sports!
After an epic season-long fight between two of the greatest drivers in the modern generation of Formula One – Spaniard’s Fernando Alonso and German’s Michael Schumacher – this year’s world championship can be viewed as the most exciting and thrilling contests between two sporting stars.
Both drivers performed exceptionally well in the 18 races and it’s time to look back on a dramatic and sometimes controversial season.
Before the new season got underway, the sport’s governing body, the FIA, introduced a set of new regulations to improve the racing action. In previous years, the lack of overtaking was the main problem due to the sophisticated aerodynamics of modern Formula One racing cars.
Despite running on one set of tyres throughout last year’s championship, the FIA, re-introduce tyre changing in pit-stops. Some observers felt this was a mistake as the racing was actually quite good when drivers had to manage their tyres in the race.
In addition with tyre changing, the three-litre V10 engines were replaced with a 2.4 litre V8 motors. The move was a way of reducing the rising cost of development (it is believed the Formula One paddock generates around US $1 billion over the past 18 months) and to make the cars go slower around the track – in a fear of escalating speeds were becoming too dangerous for some race circuits.
But the biggest overhaul in the new Formula One rules was qualifying. The FIA experimented with different versions of the one-hour qualifying session over the last few years. The one-lap per car adopted in 2005 was seemed to be tedious – for TV viewers at least – so the sport’s governing body decides to scrap this with an interesting knock-out sessions.
With three 15-minute sessions, the six slowest cars from the first two sessions were removed from the running in the pole position shootout. All times recorded by the drivers didn’t count for the grid, but instead of making it through to the next qualification stage. This new system proved immensely popular with the teams and drivers admitting it added extra element of excitement as their go for the ultimate lap time.
In the early part of the racing season, many Formula One observers were predicting that McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen would win the 2006 drivers’ title. As last year, the Finn and his Mercedes-powered car was the fastest. But instead, defending champions Renault and Italian manufacturer Ferrari proved to be two leading teams on form.
All four racing drivers who drove for Renault and Ferrari managed to win a race this season, with Giancarlo Fisichella winning in Malaysia and Brazilian’s Felipe Massa scoring two impressive victories in his new role at the Italian team. As for the two team leaders, Michael Schumacher won seven races and came very close to winning his eighth drivers title. But it was his main rival, Fernando Alonso, who won the championship despite winning the same number of races as Michael. The Spaniard had the consistence and reliability to take the title in the end.
The other race victor was Britain’s Jenson Button, who finally scored his maiden Grand Prix win after 113 starts. His drive in the wet/dry conditions in Hungarian Grand Prix was sublime and even though he started in 14th position, avoided the many incidents in the action-packed race to the take the chequered flag first.
As for the racing, there were certainly enough forms of entertainment with exciting overtaking moves and duels for the lead.
Despite some fantastic on-track racing action, this year will be remembered by the politics and controversies off-track.
The first was the flexible wing issue where Ferrari and BMW-Sauber were accused of running ‘movable aerodynamic’ devices on the cars. The FIA took action against these two teams and they were forced to redesign the front and rear wings.
The second was the Mass Damper affair concerning Renault. The French team were running this innovative system since the Brazilian Grand Prix back in 2005 and yet in this year’s German Grand Prix, the race officials decided that this was illegal and banned it. Renault protested but the FIA Supreme Court decided that it was unsafe and was banned from there onwards, much to the team’s disgust.
But the most outrageous controversial moment took place in qualifying, in particular the Monaco Grand Prix ‘parking incident’.
Let’s set the scene. Michael Schumacher has just grabbed pole position in his Ferrari during Saturday’s qualifying in Monte Carlo. He was on his final lap trying to record an even faster time, but for some strange reason lost control of his car on the approach to a tight right-hand corner at La Rascasse. Instead of colliding into the outside wall, he stopped his Ferrari just before hitting it… This partially blocking the circuit when his main championship contender, Fernando Alonso, was on his qualifying lap…
Schumacher stated that he simply locked up the wheels going into the corner and the car then stalled while he attempted to reverse out… But the other drivers thought it was something else. Alonso believed he would have been on pole if the incident had not happened.
Later that evening, the race stewards decided to penalised Schumacher and he would start the race at the back of the grid. In the Grand Prix itself, Michael drove a stunning race to fifth. Without that, he could have won…
The next moment of madness took place during the Italian Grand Prix when Fernando Alonso was penalised for ‘impending’ the faster Ferrari of Felipe Massa during the final stages of qualifying. To this day, I still don’t understand because Massa didn’t even get close to Alonso… And yet Ferrari and Massa complained to the race stewards and thus the Spaniard would lose his grid position despite driving flat-out in a slightly damaged car.
THE BEST AND WORST OF FORMULA ONE 2006
Right, it’s time to focus on the best and worst part of the Formula One season. What have been my highs and lows? Who do I think is a better driver? Which race was the most entertaining? Which driver and team performed well over the course of the championship? And for the worst, why did that driver and team struggled?
All these will be answered as I recap on the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship.
THE BEST RACE
Need I say more? This year’s Hungarian Grand Prix was the main highlight. The starting grid had an unusual look with a mixed race positions due to the penalties for the leading drivers (Alonso for blocking a Friday test driver in practice, Schumacher for overtaking several cars during a red flag session and Button suffering an engine failure).
Initially Kimi Raikkonen was set to win his first race in the gorgeous chrome McLaren but he misjudged the situation when lapping a slower car, which resulted in the Finn smashed into the back of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Scuderia Toro Rosso…
With Raikkonen out, Alonso took the lead and he was set to win his first race after a mid-season slump. But he too crashed out just after switching to slick (groove) tyres for the drying conditions. The right rear Michelin didn’t seem to be secured in place during the pit-stop and the Spaniard spun his car at the second turn and into the tyre barriers.
Now Jenson Button was in the lead and even though he qualified the car originally in fourth – but drop ten places due to changing an engine – the driving performance by the Brit was simply outstanding. Jenson drove a consistent race, making no mistakes and it was a fantastic achievement after finally winning his first race of his Grand Prix career.
As for Michael Schumacher, the German initially struggled in the first stages but once his tyres got up to temperature in the semi-wet conditions, he was flying.
But in the final stages of the Grand Prix, he defended his track position too aggressively and he damaged his Ferrari after a slight collision with Nick Heidfeld’s BMW-Sauber. The Ferrari was out but ironically; Michael collected the final championship point with eighth when rookie sensational Robert Kubica (driving in his first ever race) was disqualified for being underweight (due to excessive tyre wear).
THE BEST CAR
The 248 Ferrari was by far the best handling car and also the fastest. The reliability of the car was amazing, despite suffering two failures for Massa and Michael in the whole year. When out on the track, in particular in the hands of Michael Schumacher – the seven times World Champion – it was a sight to behold as the car cornered as if on rails. It had fantastic grip with excellent straight-line speed. No other car came close to pass it on the straights…
THE BEST TEAM
I have to say Ferrari as well due to the determination and effort from the team based in Maranello, Italy. The mechanics, engineers and workers who pour their heart and soul into the famous red cars deserve all the credit with nine fabulous race victories this year.
THE BEST DRIVER
This is rather difficult for me so I have to award both Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher for the top honours as best driver of the year. Both drove flat-out all season and the on-track battles in Bahrain, San Marino, Turkey and Japan was breathtaking. Pushing to the absolutely limits in the quest to win the world drivers’ title.
MOST IMPROVED TEAM
BMW-Sauber. When BMW split away from Williams F1 at the end of 2005, dissatisfied by the British team’s lack of results, the German manufacturer purchased Sauber and then decided to re-brand it as BMW-Sauber.
In its first season the team finished in fifth position in the constructors’ championship (ahead of Toyota) with two podiums finishes for both Nick Heidfeld (Hungary) and Robert Kubica (Italy) respectively. An impressive achievement.
MOST IMPROVED DRIVER
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. The Brazilian won two Grands Prix – Turkey and Brazil – despite in the first couple of events he crashed his Ferrari… Massa even out-qualified his more experienced team-mate Michael Schumacher a couple of times and was even on the same pace as the world champion during the race. Massa’s season has been tremendous, from winning his first Grand Prix to finishing third position in the drivers’ standings.
Now he becomes the official ‘team leader’ at Ferrari in 2007 due to the retirement of Michael Schumacher. Kimi Raikkonen will be his new colleague at Scuderia Ferrari and it will be fascinating to see who has the upper hand in the team.
THE WORST RACE
Even though Fernando Alonso claims that winning his home Grand Prix at Barcelona was a “dream come true”, this year’s Spanish Grand Prix was dull for the spectators. All the team uses the Circuit de Catalunya extensively during the winter as preparation for the season ahead. With thousands of miles covered by the drivers and teams, the on-track racing action always proves to be procession. It doesn’t help that the Spanish track is quite tricky to overtake on…
THE WORST CAR
The Midland/Spyker M16 car was a horrible car. Horrendous colour scheme and even though it had serious grunt from the Toyota engine, the car driven by Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers proved to be a tricky race car to drive on the limit.
Even Super Aguri’s Honda-powered cars proved to be faster in the final remaining races!
Why was this car so bad? A lack of funding, no car development and poor pace… Midland Group director Alex Shnaider lost patience with the team and decided to sell off his interests to Spyker, who are now the new owners.
Hopefully next year, Spyker F1 can turn the fortunes around and develop a car that can challenge against the midfield teams such as Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso for top ten placing.
THE WORST TEAM
See above. Midland F1 Racing lacked the passion and enthusiasm compared to the pervious organisation, Jordan Grand Prix. Alex Shnaider was only interested in promoting the Midland brand and didn’t put enough resources to make the team competitive. In the end, Shnaider sold the team to Spyker F1.
THE WORST DRIVER
Japanese Formula Nippon driver Yuji Ide only raced in four Grands Prix and he was an embarrassment. Ide struggled in the Super Aguri Formula One car and was often three or more seconds behind his team-mate Takuma Sato.
At Imola, he caused a first lap crash with Christijan Albers that put the Dutchman into a series of rolls, which ended with Albers’ Midland upside down… Ide was reprimanded by the race stewards and warned over future conduct.
After the San Marino Grand Prix, Super Aguri announced that following advice from the FIA, that Ide would be dropped from the upcoming European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, being replaced by former Renault test driver Franck Montagny. Ide was demoted to Montagny’s seat as test driver.
Later on, the FIA decided to revoked Ide’s FIA Super Licence meaning he could no longer compete in Formula One during the 2006 season…
So that’s my review on an grand and dramatic Formula One World Championship. I am already looking forward to next year, as there will be new rising stars driving in their debut season. With the likes of GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton (the first black driver in Formula One), Heikki Kovalainen and Anthony Davidson competing in the pinnacle of motor racing.
It will be fascinating to see how well the double World Champion Fernando Alonso will do in his new team at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. Can the Spaniard win his third successive title?
In addition, the prospect of Kimi Raikkonen challenging his new Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa for race wins will be sensational. Bring on 2007!
But before I end this detailed article on my favourite sport, one final say on the retiring seven times World Champion.
A TRIBUTE TO THE MASTER
After 15 years in the sport, Michael Schumacher bows out at the top of his game. I must admit I will miss Michael Schumacher next year. Sure, he has created some bad moments in the sport including two title clashes with Damon Hill in 1994 and Jacques Villeneuve three years later…
But the German’s achievement in the sport is outstanding and I would consider him as one of the greatest racing driver in the history of the sport. His record of pole positions, fastest laps, race wins and points will be in the record books for a long time and I will doubt anyone will beat this.
Farewell Michael and thanks for the memories. You will be missed in Formula One.
RedOctane’s Guitar Hero was a surprising hit on the PlayStation 2 in which you use a mini Gibson SG guitar as a controller to strum to a collection of fantastic rock songs.
As with all rhythm games, pressing the right buttons at the right time is crucial when playing in Guitar Hero II.
For those who haven’t experience the wonders of this guitar-based video game, let me explain how to play. There are five coloured ‘fret’ buttons on the neck (green, red, yellow, blue, and orange in descending order) with a “strum bar,” and a whammy bar. Each rock song is presented as a set of five columns that scroll constantly. The five columns correspond to the five fret buttons.
To play a note, you must hold the correct fret button and press the strum bar. If you mistimed the strumming too early or late or not at all, then the three-staged “Rock Meter” will decrease…. The Rock Meter is an indication of how well you are performing and the crowd’s general opinion of your rock act. The meter’s stages are coloured red, yellow and green, in order of success. If the meter goes too far into the red, it will begin to blink red as a means of warning. If the meter is totally diminish, then you have failed the song… The meter can be restored little by little by playing notes correctly.
To play the single notes, all you need to do is to strum once. But for longer notes, an initial strum followed by a continued depression of the fret button is needed – as long as the note lasts.
As for chords this involve pressing two or more fret buttons at a time. Additionally, Guitar Hero II supports common guitar concepts such as the hammer-on and the pull-off just like playing the real instrument.
To enhance the gaming experience further, a new feature named ‘Star Power’ involves tilting the guitar controller upward, enabling more bonus points.
To reach this mode, you must accumulated from either successfully playing a sequences of special Star Notes or using the whammy bar on long Star Notes.
So we covered the basis of learning to play, now what about the selection of rock anthems to play in the new game?
To be honest, I find the choices of songs lacking compared to the original. In the original there was a magnificent range of tracks on offer including Deep Purple, Boston, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne. But with Guitar Hero II, it seems to be missing that magical ‘edge’… This is surprising as there are some great bands featured in the new version like Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Megadeth, Foo Fighters and Nirvana.
So what’s new in Guitar Hero II? Well, there’s a practice mode that allows you to prefect a specific section of a song you want, at any speed you want. The songs are broken down piece by piece, and you can pick any starting and stopping section you choose to wish.
As for multiplayer mode, this has been improved significantly – but it still lacks online play…. Nevertheless, playing with a second guitar creates more fun and instead of trading off sections of a song with one another, the new version lets both guitarists perform through the entire song together –as a lead and bass.
In terms of game play, Guitar Hero II feels the same. And yet, I must admit the encores – when the crowd demand that one final song – is a nice atmospheric feature.
The only criticisms will be track selection and the difficulty level when advancing through (it becomes harder for even the most experienced Guitar Hero fans). Despite that, if you looking for an entertaining rhythm based party game who enjoy the rock and roll scene, then pick up the ‘axe’ and prepare to rock to your heart content!
One of my favourite television dramas will be returning early next year. 24 Season 6 of the Emmy Award-winning drama starring Kiefer Sutherland as CTU Agent Jack Bauer will be shown on British satelite channel Sky One on January 21st 2007.
Jack Bauer’s new day begins at 6.00am. As for the main story – Wikipedia has provided some insightful details regarding the plot:
Towards the end of the fourth season, with authorization from the White House, Jack Bauer invaded the Los Angeles Chinese consulate. As a result of this raid, the Chinese consul was accidentally killed by an embassy guard.
CTU field agent Howard Bern, who was involved in the raid, was identified by the Chinese when his ski mask was accidentally removed and he was thereafter illegally taken in for questioning, where he was told that he would be put on a slow boat to China before being transferred to a maximum security prison on the Chinese / Siberian border.
The United States government and his family would not be notified; he would have no chance of escape. He eventually broke and told the Chinese that the man that led the raid was Jack Bauer. The Chinese contacted the American Government and demanded that the US government hand Bauer over so that he could be placed in a Chinese prison camp, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Rather than risk confrontation with China, the White House ordered Jack to turn himself in to the Chinese government. However, Walt Cummings ordered the Secret Service agent sent to arrest Jack to instead execute him, thus preventing the Chinese from interrogating an influential figure of US Intelligence.
Jack was warned of this by David Palmer and faked his own death. At the end of the fifth season, after having spent the intervening eighteen months in hiding, Jack was captured by the Chinese and was last seen imprisoned on a Shanghai registered container ship. Jack’s girlfriend Audrey Raines notices his disappearance and reports it to CTU.
President Charles Logan has been arrested by federal marshals on the orders of the Attorney General and Vice President Hal Gardner due to a recorded confession in which Logan admitted to his wife, Martha, his involvement with a conspiracy to sell nerve gas to terrorists. Logan will either resign or face impeachment and most likely criminal charges.
New cast members will be feature in the new season including James Cromwell as Phillip Bauer (Jack’s estranged father), Peter MacNicol as Thomas Lennox, Marisol Nichols as Nadia Yassir and even Steve Merchant (from Extras)!
Looking forward to this fantastic show with great enthusiasm!
As a keen video game fan of Nintendo, I am pleased to have someone in my family working for this gaming giant in the New Year. My sister will have the unique opportunity to work in Germany as part of Nintendo Europe and be responsible for developing and playing the latest titles on the Wii and DS consoles.
My love affair with Nintendo started when I played that amazing light-gun shooting game – Duck Hunt – on the classic NES system. Back then the experience was truly astounding and it’s impressive to see over the last three decades that Nintendo are still going strong (compared to Sega) with innovative and fun games.
In addition, the handheld gaming system Game Boy was an absolutely delight when I played it back in 1989. I became addictive to Tetris so much that the famous music started ringing inside my head!
With the DS Lite, the enthusiasm continues with the stupendous Animal Crossing: Wild World. When I have the chance, I will play this great game everyday and spending hours collecting Bells and going fishing!
As for the consoles, I am particular fond of the GameCube, even though it did quite poorly in terms of third party software. I believe the quality of the games were better and more entertaining than the Sony PlayStation 2. Pikmin introduced cute little characters and it’s a joy to play. As for Super Monkey Ball, this is by far the most addictive game to play featuring adorable simians!
Now with the Wii coming out in Europe on December 8th – after two successful launches in the past few weeks – I am looking forward to a new gaming experience.
One of the titles I am particular interested is The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. My sister is a big fan of this series (besides Super Mario and Metal Gear Solid) and can’t wait to sample the new motion sensor controller in the new adventures of Link.
As for me, I believe the future of Nintendo is bright and with my sister working for them in January, it will be fantastic period to see the Japanese game manufacturer back at its element of offering players creative and enjoyable games.