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Phew. Another ECTS over with, and all possible meetings with readers successfully avoided. Oh sorry, did we just type that out loud? We saw you though, walking about with your Dreamcast satchels (orange Japanese logos, of course) and alternative lifestyle T-shirts that you bought off the internet from America, making endless letch-loops around the Infogrames stand on the pretence of "collecting pamphlets" but actually "looking at women". Our only regret about ECTS was not seeing the Lara Croft model DANCE ABOUT on the PlayStation Experience stage. Yes, we said DANCE ABOUT. She jigged about striking poses. We have heard the tale mockingly retold by actual eye witnesses, but sadly missed the live show.

Is Ikaruga as good as Radiant Silvergun?
After an hour of play we thought "No, it's shit". After a day of play we thought "Perhaps" and after a full two weeks we now say... "You can't compare the two because they're completely different".

Radiant Silvergun is a slow, tactical, dodge-and-fire kind of game. Ikaruga is a fast, scrolling puzzle game of a shooter that tests your memory just as much as your dodging skills. Play Ikaruga like a standard shoot 'em up and you'll complete it in a day (if you're good) then wonder what all the fuss (and pre-ordering hell and financial outlay) was about.

Ikaruga is all about threes -- three black, three white, sixes, nines, 12s, 15s -- anything as long as it's divisible by three. Shoot three black enemies, then shoot three more or take out three white enemies -- the order doesn't matter, it's all about feeding the top-left gauge with groups of three to boost your multiplier and score. Chaining enemies in threes through an entire level requires mucho skill -- we can do level one, did level two once, and cannot even begin to comprehend doing levels three, four and five.

You're not always attacking, you're often left just flying around scooping stuff up with your shield. In RS you had to utilise your weapons to stay alive -- in Ikaruga you just fly around absorbing and dodging, selectively shooting enemies (and leaving loads alive) to keep the chain going.

It's a cheapo narrow-screen conversion, with whopping black bars up each side of the screen to maintain the coin-op's aspect ratio. We're PS2 owners now -- we don't care about correct aspect ratios! Nor do we want to break our TVs and PC monitors by rotating them 90 degrees to play games as the director intended. We're paying to have our whole TV screens filled, not just 70 percent of them!

Besides, a small but key part of what made Silvergun so good is that it was on the Sega Saturn. What an amazing boss! (for the Saturn). What a cool level! (for the Saturn). What incredible effects! (for the Saturn). When something cool happened it made you feel proud that it was the Saturn doing it. We expect brilliant looks from Dreamcast, it's no big deal now.

And this whole absorbing-bullets thing - we haven't spent the last 20 years learning how to avoid various industry standard bullet patterns only to start turning round and running into them on purpose! It goes against everything we believe in. That said, if Silvergun is 10/10 (and it is) Ikaruga is still at least a 9. Frankly, we love it.

A lot of people will be buying this without having played Radiant Silvergun at all. These people will think and say that Ikaruga is the best thing ever -- which it isn't. We will get annoyed at those people.

A Google image search for "Ikaruga" brings up an extremely varied selection of images. It must be a common word in Japan (A Babelfish translation says Ikaruga just means "Ikaruga").

The geeks of ECTS*
*Us not included.

The sound of "You need a keycard" samples ringing out across a sweaty hall -- it's ECTS!

It was a show of two halves. The shitty outer shell (ECTS) and the game-packed fleshy core (PlayStation Experience). We wanted the PlayStation Experience to be rubbish for obvious comedy purposes, but it was sadly great, packed with games and so full of (paying) visitors that us freeloaders had to wait to be let in, left queuing beside the entrance like common animals.

We amused ourselves while waiting by taking photos of geeky people in the near-deserted ECTS hall. These are the best. Anyone with self-esteem issues really ought to go walk around a games show for a bit to experience what life's like on the more attractive side of the population.

Apologies if these people are you. We're much more polite in reality.

A common talking point of the day, illustrated in the popular pie chart format.

UKR readers who WOULD have sex with Kelly Osbourne, versus those that WOULD NOT consider having sex with Kelly Osbourne:

Something we just thought of just now while watching TV
Do you think the BBC has loads of tapes of Ground Force where they didn't complete the task on time and therefore can't broadcast the episode? Are there hundreds of half-finished gardens all over the country, with incomplete and frankly dangerous wooden decking and empty holes for never-to-be-plumbed-in fountains? Because, surely, if they never fail, why aren't they more confident in their ability to meet the tight deadlines? There must be hundreds of unscreened episodes in the BBC archive, all ending with Charlie in tears shouting "I can't dig any more, Alan, I just fucking CAN'T".

Your DREAMCAST: Where is it now?

ECTS in pictures
(Left) The ECTS bit of the show. (Right) The PlayStation Experience. This is not an exaggeration for comic effect, ECTS really was that bewilderingly poor, left to the peripheral manufacturers, the recruitment companies and the even less prestigious Infogrames to provide the fun out there.

PlayStation Experience

Employee of the Week
Winter's coming, girls are covering up and wearing coats. Following them up the escalators with a webcam in your bag just isn't fun anymore. To ease your summer-dressed girls withdrawal pains we present Employee of the Week -- methadone to the voyeur in autumn. The photo is great and we could examine it for ever. The joke is quite poor.

"You know, in Canada..." is how every Canadian starts every sentence, just in case you were going to assume they were American by the way they speak. We've spoken to two Canadians recently. We noticed they do that. That's all.

The toilets of ECTS
Always judge an event by its toileting facilities, that's what we were told at special school. We thought it would be amusing to take photos of toilets at ECTS events. Turns out it wasn't, but we risked indecency charges and beatings to take the photos so felt obliged to use them regardless.

EA Play pre-ECTS show
ECTS main showfloor
FACILITIES: A clean, modern portakabin, but a portakabin nonetheless.
FACILITIES: Hidden underneath the showfloor. Hard to find and very old.
PRIVACY: In the car park, the kabin's door was permanently open, leaving the reviewer never confident that his penis was masked from view at all times. PRIVACY: Ample number of cubicles, plus both times it was empty enough to attain a cubicle with no one seated either side. Good.
MIRROR: Harsh, overhead lighting, and cramped so you had to stand close. Not flattering at all. MIRROR: Old and slightly chipped. Moderately flattering, but you somehow felt dirtier upon exiting.
OVERALL: Lacking in privacy, but had the necessary cleanliness one demands of a toilet. 7/10.
OVERALL: Old, poorly appointed, difficult to find, dirty. Felt like being on holiday in France. 4/10.

Fun with the Fujitsu-Siemens promotional photo archive!
Oh for a budget, a photographer, some models and some studio sets. How do they resist turning the whole thing into a porn shoot?

Parts of women we really like. #1:
The small, slightly bulging, soft lump of flesh occasionally revealed between T-shirt and jeans.

Virtua Cop Rebirth on PS2
Here are some screenshots we took ourselves. Don't hate it because it's on PS2, love it because it's identical to the Saturn versions, only with graphics that are about 20% better and slower (ha!) loading times. Yes, we still remember all of the enemy positions.


#5: An African child put next to a hamburger
in a thought-provoking attack on the evils of consumer society.

Blondie's shittest song gets covered by the UK's shittest pop act! And gets to number one! And you think the games industry is in crisis. Our favourite Sugababe is probably Mutya. We respect Darius for writing his own songs.


Atomic Kitten - The Tide is High (get the feeling)
Blazin' Squad - Crossroads
Sugababes - Round Round
Truth Hurts - Addictive
Ms Dynamite - Dy-Na-Mi-Tee
Darius - Colourblind
Abs - What You Got
Madhouse - Like a Prayer
Nickelback - Too Bad
Oakenfold - Starry Eyed Surprise

We only know what SIX of these records go like. Does that mean we're old?

As-yet unproven claims by Michael Moore

Shit things about the internet: #5: Banal Onion rip-offs
The headline contains the joke. From there on, anything else is merely verbal padding.

"Yes, they are all awful. You are right" said an imaginary spokesman we just made up right there to illustrate the above point. See how easy it is?

A further spokesman then said "Yes, yes it is easy" just to really labour the point and drag the pathetic non-joke out by another totally unnecessary paragraph like this.

"Yes" said a reader. "That's what they all do," he added, before ending without any form of punchline.

Banal Onion rip-off of the week:

Other things that aren't funny any more. #5 Music
So it's either fat Americans going "Graa!" over some guitars, or a 17-year-old female poplet miming to shit cover versions of records from five years ago? We'd rather listen to those children shouting in the street outside.

Frozen in time!
When Sega sites give up. Numer Five: Dreamcast Extreme, frozen in time, April 28, 2000.

Sample quote: "In approximately a year and a half the Dreamcast will be released in the North America. Sega of America has already stated that Sonic will be a big part of the Dreamcast's image. Sonic Team, the geniuses behind the series on the Genesis, is already hard at work on the new Dreamcast Sonic 3D adventure. The power of the Dreamcast allows limitless possibilities for a Sonic translation to 3D".

"Yeeaahh! COME ONE! RAVE READER MASSIVE IS IN THE HOUSE!" we shout in a voice like Scooter, to welcome you to your bit of UKR. "TECHNO UPDATE WARRIORS! YEAH!".

But what does it MEAN? It's best because it doesn't play by the rules. Also, we really admire how well the Sega logo has been curved to fit the pony's body. We always struggle to get stuff like that looking right. Well done to reader Angel Sastre. The blanked-out eyes are the finishing touch of a true master.

Of all the Fujitsu-Siemens photoserver submissions we got, this was our favourite. Good use of the positioning of the subjects, a believable scenario, the subtle hinting at the jealousy and back-stabbing that fuels the heart of today's office. Well done Pete Escott, you understand stuff.

Runners-up in the prestigious Fujitsu-Siemens category come from (in order of appearance) "DarthEddie", Jay Filmer, Dylan Kerrigan and Pete Escott's second submission.

Anything that infers homosexuality is funny, that's a fact. Reader "C Williamson" probably has lots of gay friends though, as do we. We keep their heads and genitals fresh in the freezer compartment.

Three things that don't really have anything to do with... anything, but you may gain some slight feelings of amusement from them. From James "As seen in Sega Saturn Magazine" Newton and " Lambrusco Kid"

Finally, in a high-pitched, warbly, speeded-up voice like the slow bits in Scooter records we say "Thank you very much, thank you for sending stuff in".

Submit to us to see your stuff here. And hey -- why not send in some reviews and stuff, or written opinions and columns? There's no reason not to.

Richard Jacques Update
Saw him at ECTS. Didn't say hello. He probably wouldn't recognise us and it would just have been awkward. There has been an unusually high number of fish bones in his garbage this week.

Your task for the next two weeks...
Gain between three and five pounds in weight in preparation for the colder winter months, now that the motivation to stay thin for wearing fashionable summer T-shirts has gone.

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