a recent sort out in my games cabinet I found myself absurdly enjoying
the tactile qualities of some of the equipment present.
The N64 has some fine curves to stroke, but it's surface seems rather
unforgiving, and doesn't offer the immediate feedback that the carts
do. The carts are wonderful. Smallish yet solid and gratifyingly
heavy. Insertion is a joy, and seems to offer the perfect, if temporary,
closure of real life.
SNES carts on the other hand, which I used to love, seemed rather
hollow and cheap. For me their main saving grace is the central
ridge, and the wonderfully gentle curve of the face. At least I
have no US gamepaks to offend that organic section. The SNES itself
is of course a visual triumph. Conveying a sophisticated blend of
power and playfulness. The two-tone body colour is elegant; only
marred by the capitalised and capitalist 'SUPER NINTENDO' logo of
the PAL release. On touching, the buttons respond with well engineered
solidity and grace. But I often think the SNES looks ever so slightly
top-heavy with a cartridge inserted.
I like the size of the Dreamcast, and I've always liked the name.
But from above the design is spoilt by busy effects; slashed lines,
a split triangle, and needless raised dots circling the lid. But
the front is most impressive. Four ports naturally offer connection
in a SNES-like playful engine shape. The plastic is fingernail-hard
though; at least the buttons receive fingers well. The click of
the lid is too indecisive for me. DC game cases seem strangely ostentatious
considering their content. They are a pleasure to own, but are rather
breakable, and my inner environmetalist doesn't enjoy the sheer
body of plastic involved.
The NES has a fair body of plastic of course. Yet the unfriendly
shape from above becomes your best mate when the witty narrowing
of the base becomes apparent in front view. It begs your curious
hand to reach under and lift the still pleasingly heavy machine.
And then, of course, the joy of the secret compartment on the underside.
Where secret notes can be left for your girlfriend, or yet-to-be
developed add-ons can be plugged in by the masters of bedroom engineering.
The NES power and reset buttons say Laser Quest, but in a good way,
as if said social activity had never been taken over by two bit
pool halls and left to rot like Nintendos own Laser Clay Ranges
in the early seventies. NES plastic is hard and cold, only tempered
by a bump mapped top surface, of which Xbox Shrek looks rather resonant.
The 7 hole controller ports are joyously asymmetric, as if forced
into being by the vagaries of Super Mario Brothers warp system.
But the cartridge loading mechanism, with its clunk-click reassurance
of a finely crafted seatbelt, will always keep gamers coming back
for more. Ejecting a game is as fun as playing it; no wonder the
cartridge connector cant help but cause blinking.
ENGINE CORE GRAFX II
From NES to NEC, and the wickedly miniature PC Engine Core Grafx
II. A softer plastic greets the enquiring digit, engendering likeable
notions of one day meeting the case designer. Subtle curves combine
with proud ridges in a triumphant play-off of potential and reward.
The HuCard guidance trench crosses early Hewlett Packard motifs
with KnightRider technology. The RF socket housing has thrice the
diameter of the socket itself, teasing more questioning souls to
peer in to the darkness of the case searching for a slice of Japanese
magic. Alas, they are confronted by a slice of galvanised metal
that Lockheed Martin would be proud of. With a power switch that
both clicks and squeaks, the aspiring ergonaut is left unquenched,
and forced to look closer to home for his final fix.
And that fix comes from Wales. A wannabe receptionist, a one-hit
drum kit, a loose-tempered tip-of-the-hat from the ultimate fiery
hobbyists. The Dragon 32. Keys that go clunk in the night. Analogue
control of Cuthbert goes this, Cuthbert does that. A sharp-faced
beige behemoth supports nothing but your sole attention. Weighty
as a herd of shrews, yet hollow and marvellously wasteful. The cavernous
innards echo questions you ask of the machine; why did your older
brother get RS232? Why beige not grey? Is there a time machine located
12 inches above the keyboard? Did A Question of Sport copy your
me CLOADM to find the answers.
machines another time. firstname.lastname@example.org
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