I love rediscovering Belfast. Day in, day out, I walk the same roads. The same routes. To get to the same destination. Thursday was a different day, as I had some free time after class for a change. My first destination, along with two friends from my class, was the GAME store in Donegal Square. This brings me onto another very important point, which you will probably be aware of by now, and if not, where have you been?!

The GAME group has gone into administration after declining sales, and the pull-out of major suppliers. Another high street retailer bites the dust, making it slightly more difficult to get hold of games when you take a random notion. GAME, however, is not a retailer I will greatly miss. There were the golden days of GAME where you could pick up a reasonably priced new release (in my case Hitman Contracts for £25) through various offers, but for years now they have been overpriced (never add £5 to the price everyone else is charging; that’s just greed) and made largely redundant by online retailers undercutting their prices and often offering better service.

But I digress. I was there to scour the shelves for any bargains before the store went under completely, as various murmurs on the internet suggested there were some pretty damn good deals to be had, but alas they were still a tad too pricey. They’ll have to drop though before the end. It’s almost sad when you see signs up urging customers to preorder games “coming soon” when you know the store will be long closed before the release date. One of the death knells was the failure to secure Mass Effect 3 at launch, as Mass Effect games are very popular and sell well. We are witnessing the demise of more and more high street retailers we grew up with – first Woolworths, then the domino effect took out Zaavi too. And the latest rumours also suggest HMV is having a hard time of it lately, and could very well be the next casualty. Maybe were just moving on, and realising that shops just can’t compete with the internet for selection and prices.

That was only the first stop. I had a look round some other places, and ended up in the Apple store taking a look at the new iPad. I didn’t get a very detailed comparison between the 2nd and 3rd generations, but superficially I didn’t notice a great different. For all the talk of the new Retina display, I was unimpressed. To my eyes the only difference was that you can no longer pick out individual pixels, unlike previous iPads. Of course, I would need more time with the device to make a fair comparison, but I still fail to see why it is considered the best tablet. Maybe when I make some decent money I’ll get hold of one, but it won’t be for a few years yet.

Back to the walk, and the next destination was the Ormeau road. Did I mention it was a beautiful day? Sunny and bright, but not too hot as to be uncomfortable. It was fantastic! My plan was to make Thai curry for dinner, so the obvious place to get the ingredients was the Asian supermarket, which is also pretty close to my house. Here’s another good tip – take a shopping list! It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the variety of different weird and wonderful ingredients as I was, even though I’ve been there several times before. I was in a slight hurry, so I just grabbed the essentials: curry paste, noodles, coconut milk and spring onions. There were times I was dangerously close to walking out with a wok and half the shop, but I resisted.

This is a disjointed entry, which I’ve compiled since Thursday really, and the next part is from this morning on the train home.

As I write this I’m sitting on the train on my way home, and it’s a gloriously sunny day. According to the long range weather forecast it’s going to be dry for the next month or so, but who really trusts forecasters? Most of the time they only score slightly greater than chance.I keep losing my train of thought, but I shall try to get it back on the rails (get it, train, rails, a train joke…forget about it!). There wasn’t much more to Thursday apart from dinner, piano, and Stacking.

Stacking is another Tim Schafer game where you control a Matryoshka doll. The aim of the game is to stack inside dolls bigger than yourself to control them, and use them to complete various tasks and challenges. It may sound strange, but it’s really good fun, and very quirky. It’s definitely worth trying if you’re into your indie games, or just want to try something different. The art style is also quite unique, with cut scenes taking the form of silent plays and dialogue cards like the old silent movies. The music is reminiscent of that era took, and also has an Eastern European/Russian twang akin to the homeland of the Matryoshka dolls. Give it a try.

Last night brought with it the Hunger Games, a fantastic film which I went to see as part of a Sci-Fi Society trip. It’s refreshing to see a good film for a change after a slew of fairly terrible ones. I have to admit, when I first heard about it and saw the trailer I was not blown away. My fears were allayed after checking the IMDb rating, and I’m glad I did go to see it. I genuinely did look forward to seeing it after that, and it was the first time I had looked forward to seeing a film in the cinema since Inception. I don’t want to spoil any of the story, so I won’t. It’s a good blend of action, drama and thriller elements, with only a few slow moments throughout. I did struggle to watch the first few minutes, and it had me questioning the editing style for a while, but that quickly resolved itself thankfully.

The plot involves around the Hunger Games, which is effectively a reality show in a dystopian future where children are pledged to fight one another to the death. One male, and one female from each district are chosen, or volunteer, in some sort of tribute to the government after a failed rebellion. The books probably flesh out some of the back story, so I’ll definitely read them at some stage. They seem to be able to get away with a lot of violence in a 12A now, but it certainly wasn’t overpowering or gratuitous.

For now that’s pretty much everything. I better get back to working on this film…to the death! (What is it with you these days? Everything is “to the death!”)

2 responses to “Rediscovery”

  1. That ‘s really col. The pixel density is so much higher than the last one, though I really didn’t notice a huge difference. If you handed me both, I would be hard pressed to tell the difference unless I was looking really really close at the screen.

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