"Your Web site makes me chuckle. It has some naughty swear words on it" - Tony Mott

Case Logic Sandwich
by unclesomeone 28/10/01

After 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.

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 logo?

Let me CLOADM to find the answers.

More machines another time. unclesomeone@hotmail.com