Hello Pandora

Post by Mark

Not to be confused with the Pandora music station, this Pandora is something completely different. I love old gaming systems and I still have a bunch hidden away in boxes but the thing is it’s a headache to take them out and get them working. This is why I ended up getting the Pandora. It’s basically a super tiny laptop with game pad controls built in. It runs the Linux operating system and it allows you to install whatever emulator you want onto it. Pandora was actually created by four guys who wanted something better than what was available in the market. With the help of a gaming community they went ahead and created Pandora with the primary function being to run video game emulators. It costs them $400 to build each Pandora and they sell it for $500. It’s kinda like selling cupcakes from your home except they’re selling this incredible portable gaming system.

Pandora can run a ton of emulators including N64, Neo Geo, SNES, Sega CD, MAME, Sakhr, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Dos games and even Quake 3. I’ve been playing a ton of old school games on it since I got the Pandora with my favorites currently being the Dos version of DopeWars, the best racing game ever which is Neo DriftOut and The Castle, an old Sakhr game that is still crazy hard over 20 years later. If you want more information on the Pandora click [Here]

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Event: Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition Tournament

Post by Mark

I’m a Street Fighter fan but don’t think I’m good enough to play in this tournament and I don’t think anyone wants to watch a 30-something gamer getting his ass kicked by a tween. Here are the details if you’re interested:

Date: July 15th at 6pm
Location: Freeze Club Arcade, 360 Mall (4th floor)
Entry Cost: KD5

1st place 150kd
2nd place 100kd
3rd place 50kd

Best of 3, Double Elimination. Finals best of 7.

If you’re interested in taking part you need to go to the Freeze Club receptionist and ask to enter.

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Kuwait Flight Simulation Center

Post by Mark

Yesterday I posted a video taken at Flight Experience in 360 Mall, well there is another place that’s officially opening tomorrow (April 20th) that has a wider range of flight simulators available. The place is called Kuwait Flight Simulation Center and they are located in the basement of Discovery Mall in Kuwait City. I originally passed by them yesterday to take pictures but wasn’t allowed to since there was a miscommunication but the owner told me I could pass by today and take pictures which I did except I didn’t have my camera with me today just my iPhone 4 so apologies for the quality of the shots.

The place looks like a large plane fuselage from the outside. Once you walk in you have 7 simulation capsules on the right hand side, 3 combat stations on the left and right next to them you have a large enclosed room which is a proper full scale flight simulator similar in style to the one at 360 Mall. You also have a small coffee shop, a small shop that sells scale models and another shop that sells flight simulator accessories for PCs.

Today the place is open but it’s invite only, starting tomorrow though it should be open to the public. For more information you could visit their website [Here] or Facebook page [Here]

That’s how the inside of the capsule looks like

The 3 machines on the left are the fighter plane simulators

I think the fighter plane simulators actually move and give force feedback

Thats the inside of the full sized simulator

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Digumz at P2BK

Post by Mark

I posted about Digumz a few weeks back on the blog. It’s a new business started by a blogger called Qaiss which allows you to rent video games for a fixed monthly fee. Well Qaiss decided to participate at the P2BK event and has posted on his blog a very insightful behind the scenes look into his experience so far. I love his transparency and I’m looking forward for his next post once the event is completed to see if his experience changed for the better or not. [Link]

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Digumz: Kuwait Game Rental Store

Post by Mark

Qaiss from the local blog io81 has recently launched a new business. I’ve been reading his business oriented blog for a long time now since I am always interested in what he has to say about the local market and I also enjoy reading his complaints, tips and business ideas. So when I heard he launched a new business called Digumz I was excited to find out more about it and so far the first impression is really good.

Qaiss basically has set up an online video game rental website which also has a physical location at Omnia Mall in Salmiya. He has kept it simple with 3 flat rate rental plans, KD7 a month will allow you to rent as many games as you want per month as long as you rent 1 game at a time. KD13 will allow you to rent 2 games at a time and KD18 will allow you to rent 3 games at a time. Once you sign up and become a member you just login to his website, choose the game you want and they will deliver it for free.

I think it’s a pretty simple and cool idea. So if you’re interested check out his website www.digumz.com

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Review: Microsoft Kinect

Post by Mark

Last week X-Cite sent me a Kinect to review for the blog. I had been reading a lot about it online (mostly all the cool hacks people were doing) and was interested to try it out. The Kinect is Microsoft’s answer to the Wii and the Sony Move except unlike either of those two, the Kinect doesn’t use a physical controller, you become a controller. When I first opened the box I was surprised by the size, I was expecting it to be smaller but the Kinect is pretty big. I struggled to find a place to put it (you’re supposed to have it either on top of your tv or below). The second issue I ran into was space, the Kinect requires you to be standing at least 1.8 meters away from it. My living room is pretty small so it was having trouble detecting me. Finally I moved the Kinect to my other TV where I had more space in front of it and managed to get it working there.

The Kinect is freaky, it recognizes you, your hands, your head, your legs… your whole body. With the Wii and PS3 you need to actually hold a controller in your hand and move that around but with the Kinect you don’t need any of that. It’s like a much more advanced version of the PlayStation Eye. In the games I was playing, if I put my hand on my head so would my character in the game, if I clapped my hands or started stomping my feet so would my character. It felt like I was inside the game.

The Kinect comes with a game called Kinect Adventures. Inside it there are five different games that show off the Kinect’s abilities. The games are:

20,000 Leaks – In this game you’re basically standing in a glass room under the sea and fish and sharks come and bang the glass to create leaks. You need to try and cover the leaks as they happen. In some cases you get 5 leaks at the same time so you have a hand on every leak, your head covering another leak and each foot on a leak as well. It’s fun for a few minutes but gets boring quickly. In two player mode it’s slightly more fun.

River Rush – You’re on a raft going down the river and you should avoid obstacles by either shifting your weight to one side of the raft or by jumping. I didn’t find this fun even when playing it two players.

Rally Ball – This was my favorite game, it’s a mixture between the classic breakout game and dodge ball. You have to throw a ball towards objects down a hallway and try to get rid of them. Sometimes you hit objects that doubles or triples the amount of balls so you have to start moving quickly trying to throw them all back at the objects. Me and my brother enjoyed playing this the most.

Reflex Ridge
– The most physically exhausting game of the bunch since it’s kinda like a track and field game. You’re standing on a moving railway cart and you need to avoid objects by other jumping, ducking, moving left or moving right. Video games shouldn’t be this physically active and after one round I was all sweaty and out of breath.

Space Pop
– The most boring game of the bunch, you’re in space and you need to float up and pop balloons all around. Not fun, didn’t even bother playing it two players.

Playing the games two players is more fun than alone. You only need one Kinect to play games two players but you need to stand at least 2.2meters away from the Kinect device. The games that come with the Kinect aren’t that great but since they’re free you can’t complain that much. There are more games you can buy that work with Kinect but I didn’t have a chance to try them. The PlayStation Move is more advanced than the Wii and sometimes like in a first person shooter it would be cool to physically hold an assault riffle, but the Microsoft Kinect is a more advanced system than the Move and because your whole body becomes a controller it really opens up a lot of doors. I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5. I just wish the games that came with it were more fun.

The Kinect is available at X-Cite as either a standalone for KD54.9 or with the Xbox Slim 4GB for KD126 or with an Xbox Slim 250GB for KD148.

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Saddest PS3 setup

Post by Mark

A few days ago I posted a review of the Logitech GT Wheel and I mentioned that I would give it away to the person who had the saddest PS3 setup. A ton of people participated but there could only be one winner and the person who won is MR who submitted the picture above. Anyone that still uses his PS3 with a 14inch Gold Star television deserves to win the GT Wheel. Thank you to everyone who submitted pictures of their PS3 setup.

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Review: Logitech GT Racing Wheel

Post by Mark

Last weekend Blink sent me a Logitech racing wheel to review for the blog. It was perfect timing since Nat was out of the country which meant I was home alone with Geo, my PS3 and a copy of Gran Turismo 5. The first racing wheel I ever owned was the Coleco racing wheel which I got back in the mid 80’s (and which I still have today). It came with a gas pedal and a copy of the back then amazing racing game called Turbo. Of course that was back in the mid 80’s and things have come a long way since then.

The first thing I noticed about the Logitech wheel is that it was heavy and that’s a good thing. The weight gives it a solid feel which I wasn’t expecting since the GT wheel is the younger brother of the more expensive Logitech G27 wheel. This is why I was expecting the GT wheel to feel a bit flimsy but it wasn’t at all. The racing wheel comes with a gear stick attached to the wheel and a separate gas and brake pedal with a rubber base to stop it from slipping. The force feedback is just amazing, it reminded me of the days when I used to spend all my money at the arcades playing Daytona with my friends. The force feedback is pretty powerful and I actually have to use a lot of force and fight with the wheel sometimes which again makes this steering wheel feel like it’s worth a lot more.

I tried the steering wheel on a bunch of games including MotorStorm, Formula1, Dirt2 and Gran Turismo. The steering wheel worked great in everything except Gran Turismo. I just couldn’t control my car properly and kept slamming into walls and spinning out. Not sure if it was the settings somewhere or the fact I was still not used to the steering wheel but I just couldn’t drive my car properly. I’m sure it was something from my side since this wheel is actually the official wheel of Gran Turismo which means it should work really well with it. On the other hand the wheel worked great in Formula1 and extremely well in the Baja races in Dirt2. As some points it felt like I was back in the arcade playing Sega Rally which is what I liked the best about the steering wheel. It’s an arcade wheel at home.

Another issue I faced was with the placement of the wheel. At first I tried to use the wheel on my laps (see picture above) but it didn’t work and was actually a bit painful. I then bolted it down to my coffee table but found it too low to be comfortable. Finally I ended up sitting on the floor with the wheel mounted on my coffee table and it felt like I was sitting in an F1 car which worked for me. If you have the space I would recommend you get something like [This]. Overall I liked the wheel a lot and thought it was really well built. If you can’t afford the Logitech G27 or don’t want to pay that much for a wheel then you can get this from Blink for just KD35. I give it a 4 out of 5.

Now if you’re interested in this wheel then you’re gonna like this since I’m going to give one away. If you want to win this Logitech GT racing wheel I just reviewed all you need to do is send me a picture of your PS3 setup. The person with the saddest looking setup will win the wheel. Make sure you have 248AM written somewhere in the shot (so I know you took the picture) and send your pictures to gtwheel@248am.com. Send all pictures by Saturday 9PM the latest.

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Kuwait wins in GT5 Time Challenge

Post by Mark

Last week I posted about the Gran Turismo 5 Time Challenge that’s taking place across the Middle East and how Kuwait wasn’t even ranked in the top 10. Well the competition is finally over and it turns out Kuwait came first. Pretty cool (although slightly geeky) achievement. [Link]

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Gran Turismo 5 Time Challenge

Post by Mark

It seems there is a regional Gran Turismo 5 competition taking place now that I wasn’t aware of. The countries participating are Oman, UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Kuwait and Bahrain and currently players from UAE rank 1st and 3rd with a player from Lebanon coming in at 2nd (Kuwait isn’t even in the top 10). The competition is a time challenge, anyone can participate for free and the grand prize is:

The chance to be chauffeur driven in a SLS, at the Mercedes circuit in Germany.
1. Fully paid trip to Stuttgart and back including accommodation
2. Visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum followed by lunch
3. Visit to the DTM race including hot laps at the Hockenheim circuit
4. Visit the AMG factory in Affalterback including an SLS emotion experience

I personally would rather drive the SLS myself around the circuit but I guess that’s not an option here. If you’re interested in participating and putting Kuwait on the map you can register on the GT5 Time Challenge website. The location of the local challenge is taking place at the X-Cite store in the Avenues. More details available on the GT5 Time Challenge website [Here]

Thanks Raed

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