Oct 30, 2006

Museum Monday #35

Monday. Appropriately, it's raining. Let's all try and ignore it, shall we? Hopefully the beast will ignore us too. Better focus on some glorious retro stuff. After of course all of us have made sure our firewall, anti-virus and contra (anti) spyware software is up to date. Oh, it is, isn't it? Great, great... Nothing could go wrong then, I'm sure...

So, why don't we have a nice browse through the archives of classic computing mag Compute!? It's all here. 168 issues of pure computing wisdom, spanning 15 years and covering such diverse platforms as the Commodore Vic-20, the Apple II, the C64, the PC, our beloved Amiga, her rival the Atari ST and even the TI 99/4A. For free.

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Oct 27, 2006

Empires and Dungeons

It's a rare moment when one of the best games ever conceived (rogue actually, read about it here and play it too) sort of evolves into something that's reminiscent of the best fantasy turn-based strategy game ever sold or pirated(that's got to be Heroes of Might and Magic 3; see it @ mobygames). Empires and Dungeons attempts to do exactly that.

Empires and Dungeons is basically a quasi turn-based dungeon hack with a simple, albeit purely turn-based, strategy game bolted on top of it. It plays surprisingly well, for it manages to be as simple and intuitive as Diablo, almost as rightly paced as rogue and as one-more-turn-syndrome evoking as HOMM or even Civ. More than that, the graphics are way better than ascii @s and Xs, and the Deutsch-English language used throughout the game, is not as badly translated as one would expect. The game goes as far as actually featuring something very reminiscent of decent prose.

Oh, and I'm sure I've heard the excellent background music before... But, really, who's paying attention to such things? This game is a solid time-waster ideal for a) people with lots of time, b) turn-based worshippers, c) wullet bitches, d) artists that don't need inspiration, e) indy gamers with a retro tendency.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Wik, Hidden Expedition Titanic, 60+ free games, Zombie Plague

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Oct 26, 2006

Adventure Lantern the (late) October issue

It may admittedly be a tad late, but it's still October, and this still is Adventure Lantern, the greatest adventure gaming pdf e-zine ever to grace my printer. The heftiest too, as this is over 130 pages of gaming goodness. Oh, and it's a Halloween Special, thus featuring quite a bit on horror stuff.

Articles include: the Top 10 Scariest Games of All Time, Sam & Max Culture Shock review and walkthrough, Broken Sword 4: The Angel of Darkness, Mr. Smoozles Goes Nutso, The Shivah, Necronomicon and more reviews, news, interviews, walkthroughs and a nice retro gaming piece too.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Hidden Expedition Titanic, Sam and Max Culture Shock walkthrough, text-adventure maps

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Oct 24, 2006

Not everyone loves an angry nerd... Nintendo or not.

It seems as if the holy people of Something Awful weren't quite thrilled by the Angry Nintendo Nerd videos. They seem to prefer the Furious Famicom Faggot. They definitely got a point and a semi-cartoon (oh, yes, and a sense of humour) there...

Related (quite) @ Gnome's Lair: MMO Gnome, Ninja Loves Pirate, Hidden Expedition Titanic

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Oct 23, 2006

MMO Gnome. Act One. A pathetic beginning.

[Excellent comic thingy to the left ripped off from the rather hilarious excellent-comic-thingy producing GUComics.com]

I've always loved Mr. Hill's quite excellent and rather funny Neverquest features. I enjoyed his amazing Second Life pimping R2-D2 story and his magical lute and a threesome adventure that much, that I actually decided to give MMO gaming a try. Always being a cheap(-ish) gnome and easily scared of the infamous World of Warcraft forums I decided to start off easily.

Start off with a free version of Anarchy Online.

Apparently a bad idea. The interface was a complicated mess, the pdf manual rather confusing, the graphics shite, and the rather interesting game world was populated by people ready to point out the obvious truth I was a newbie. My desire to be sarcastic simply went unnoticed and after 5 long and painful hours and 2 pretty unsuccessful sessions I wisely decided to quit. How newbie-ish of me, really.

Then, Star Wars Galaxies came along offering a nice 14-day free trial without asking for my fiercely guarded credit card details. I decided to really try and show some understanding this time. Try to be a serious and devoted player. Thus, I showed ueber-human patience while the game went on and downloaded itself and its humongous patches for ages (that's an almost 2 Giga monster), and was gracious in granting it the 4+ Gigas it demanded from my already crammed hard-drive. I even spent one whole hour creating my old, short, wrinkled, skinny, rogue-ish, ugly and very very agile online persona: Gnomie Freeware. Then I got through a tutorial stage that while teaching me that the WASD keys are used for moving and that "J" surprisingly brings up the Journal screen, decided to ignore pretty crucial stuff like using special abilities or the subtleties of leveling up.

Standard Star Wars action I suppose.

Still, I persevered. I reached level 6 after completing ten different missions that required I destroyed (in a horrible FPSy manner) some malfunctioning droids in order to obtain such diverse items as star-ship upgrades, extra droid components and CPU parts. Then I duly killed some rats (yes, space-rats), tried a few fetch-quests and finally left the rather bland newbie training place for the lush desert surroundings of Mos Eisley.

Tehehe... (via)

Not feeling the excitement of actually being in such a famed place just yet, both I and my avatar tried amusing ourselves by struggling to not get lost and exploring this familiar looking place. We tried to act all friendly and charismatic. Went as far as helping a guy posing as a Sexy Jedi Lady (the heresy was almost unbearable) survive a Storm Troopers assault and after being properly thanked, we humbly asked for a few tips and got a nice stfu for an answer. Pity. Seemed like a fine staff-wielding lass. And I was bored already...

Presumably, so are you dear reader. So, to cut a long story short, the experience of actually being Gnomie Freeware in the Star Wars universe never really took off. Didn't even exhaust my 14-day trial. Oh, sod it, guess I never wanted to be a Han Solo look-alike in a rude galaxy far far away. All I ever wanted was a Second Life... Or a bit of Warhammer action...

Un-related @ Gnome's Lair: Darth on Darth, Star Wars in ascii, Ninja Loves Pirate: the Interview, Wik

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Museum Monday #34

Monday. Isn't this one simply devastating? I mean, even Garfield wouldn't have managed to keep such a monstrosity at bay. Think of it as a combination of a headache, the common cold, impossible deadlines, a hangover and a sick urge to blog dressed up in a gnome's outfit, all in the form of a huge menacing Hydra. Lovely.

Anyway. Enough with Monday's disasters, and on to Museum Monday's linking to not very physical museums. Take System 16: the Arcade Museum for example (also this week's link). It's such a great place, filled with slightly retro Capcom, SNK, SEGA and "Other" stuff, it makes my self-made combination super-anti-headache drug seem so insignificant. Have a look. There's even a Namco Hall. Ahh, great! How appropriate. Site seems to be temporarily down! Hoooraahhh!!

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Oct 22, 2006

The Angry Nintendo Nerd

Here's a little something I sort of bumped into via Jakanden's quite excellent (and fiercely progressive) blog: the Angry Nintendo Nerd. And in case you were wondering, this little something is a collection of pretty funny, definitely insightful and quite amusing Nintendo NES - Famicom video (video game also) reviews.

Here's a nice little teaser (here's the rest):

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the C64 demoscene, 300+ NES games for free, Rowan Atkinson being funny

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Oct 21, 2006

Sam & Max: Season 1 - Culture Shock Walkthrough

[This walkthrough is a mere edited version of Tim’s spoiler free version, that’s happily located here. Disclaimer: the previous here was a here @ Independent Gaming.]

Some humble words of wisdom (a definite oxymoron) before we begin: Sam and Max: Season 1 - Culture Shock is a brilliant game. It’s also rather easy, thus making a walkthrough mostly unnecessary. Unless of course you get horribly stuck, in which case your frustation might force you to use one (a walkthrough, that is) for your nirvana's sake. Anyway, only allow yourself to peek at this walkthrough twice, and don’t forget to try everything that isn’t mentioned here, just to enjoy the game's mostly hilarious responses. Mind you, what’s included is only what's absolutely essential to finishing the game.


In the amazingly 3D office

Oh dear, a rat’s got your phone. And he wants some bloody Swiss cheese. The nerve! Grab the Boxing Glove, grab the Bowling Ball, open the closet door, use Sam’s gun to shoot the cheese, take a piece of the now-Swiss Cheese and place it near the rat hole.

The pesky little rodent will go for it and end up being interrogated. During the conversation start off with Sam’s threats, cunningly switch to Max’s, and when the rat complains about his headache switch back to Sam to ask about said headache. Mr. Jimmy Two Teeth will inadvertently reveal his weakness (that’s.. uhm… heights). Click on Max’s portrait and select the “hang out to dry option”. Nice work. Got your phone back. Leave the place, preferably by clicking on the door.

Bringing justice to celebrity vandals

Better start by gearing up. Go to Bosco’s. Talk to Bosco the slightly paranoid and security-obsessed shop owner. Ask him about the munchkin terrorist, then say you've got it. Tell him you want to buy something, ask him what he's got, then about the item behind the counter. Now you’ll want the Tear Gas Launcher, he’ll want 10,000$. Easy.

Leave the shop, head left and grab the Spray Paint from the car behind the DeSoto. Hop into the DeSoto to drive around and pull a few poor motorists over. Enjoy. Now, click the gun icon and shoot a car’s taillights. Enjoy. Click on the megaphone and actually pull someone over. The motorist’s offence is obvious: hideously broken taillight! Get the Bag of Money, head back to Bosco’s and get yourself a nice tear Gas Launcher (of sorts). Enjoy.

Now, to apprehend the irritating terrorist. Take the piece of Cheese next to Bosco. Head left and use the bathroom. Quickly place the Cheese into the kid's basket before he exits the bathroom. The security system will handle the rest. Exit the (in-)convenience store.

Head left, past your office and enter Sybil's lot. Exhaust all conversation topics or end it outright. It really doesn’t matter and I don’t really care. This isn’t the real Sybil. It’s another of them former brat stars. Open the closet door to release the real Sybil. Good. Ask Sybil (the real one and not Peepers trying to be a she) about “charges”, then about what Sam and Max can do to help. Obviously use your new Onion Tear Gas launcher on Peepers and then quickly hit him with the Boxing Glove. Sweet. The ensuing cutscene will reveal a method to cure hypnosis. Now, do as I tell you and leave Sybil's office.

Return to the (in-) convenience store and click on Whizzer to wake him up. Exit the inconvenience store.

And now, it being down to the last foe, it’s graffiti time. Three cheers for Art then! Use the Spray Paint on the graffiti just outside Sam and Max's office building (it might be obscured by the staircase). Head back to the illustrious S&M office and look out of the window by clicking on it. Drop the BOWLING BALL from your inventory on Specs' head. Head back down and click on Specs (who is unconscious) to cure him.

A chase sequence will ensue. It’s slightly arcadey, but fun and easy. Just avoid all the videos thrown out of the van to close the distance. The trick is to trail the van. When it swerves left or right just follow its direction. Stay right behind it to avoid all boxes, even when it's far away. When you're close enough, click on the gun icon and shoot at the tyres. The van will stop and you, oh most racing player, will learn about the mastermind's hideout.

Towards the end…

Nice place. Shame it’s all locked up. Grab an Admission Form from the stash located next to the ticket booth. Enter the lovely DeSoto and safely head for the office. Enter Sybil's place and show her the Admission Form, then end the conversation. Examine the Symptoms Form and note down all three symptoms (they may vary from game to game). Talk to Sybil again and get some free psychoanalysis.

Take the inkblot test first.

Answer five questions with the best description that matches the first symptom.

Pennies on the eyes of a dead mime (money)
A pair of oxen boxing in a rowboat
Susan Lucci holding an Emmy (fame)
The results of the last time I let Max drive
A bunch of bacteria playing basketball
Pigeons on a the marquee at Mann's Chinese Theater (fame)
An SUV crashing into an opulent mansion (money)
The St. Valentine's Day massacre

A squirrel that got run over twice
My uncle Louie's moth-eaten wallet (money)
Coded love notes from space aliens
An autograph written in Braille (fame)

Elephants at the New York stock exchange (money)
A cheering crowd of lanky albinos (fame)
The exhaust manifold of a bread truck
Twenty nuns with machine guns.

That blotchy thing a flashbulb does to your eyes (fame)
An orangutan escaping from the trunk of a DeSoto
A war between two teams of abstract shapes
A debit card fed through a document shredder (money)

Get them right, and Sybil will check the first symptom in the form. Now, you’ll usually need to exhibit a violent reaction to dentistry during the free association test. A rather normal thing to do, but it works. Just pull your gun out and attempt to shoot Sybil whenever she mentions anything related to dentistry. This is usually the second word she mentions and key words include: crown, drill, filling, flouride and polish. Mind you, you will fail the test if you're being violent when a non-dentistry word is mentioned. Oh, and the Boxing Glove can also be used on Sybil as a substitute method, but not the Launcher.

The third test involves a dream analysis. Things couldn’t be simpler:

You merely have to dream about items related to the third symptom. (To exit your dream at any time, just click on the open window or office door.)

If the third symptom is:
a need to know your peer's age - choose a birthday cake and Max
marry your mom - choose a wedding cake and you (Sybil)

Now that you’ve made it into the certified loonies club, leave Sybil's office and head for Brady's hideout. Use the Symptoms Form on the form reader to open the right gate. Enter the building. After the cutscene, Max will end up at the inconvenience store.

… the … err… Almost Last Act of the Game

Grab the Cheese from the table next to the counter. You’ll enter your dreamworld again. Only this time, it’s infested. You’ll have to make that irritating sod Brady Culture disappear. Talk to Max’s head. Pull out your gun and shoot at the one way sign next to the open office door, thus turning the room upside down. Use (in a very loose sense of the term) Max's head on his body. One Brady’s gone.

To turn off the fan, use the light switch located next to the one way sign. Now, take the Coat Hanger from the top of the television. Two more Bradys down. Open the closet door, confront a cheesy Brady and quickly use the Bicycle Pump. Your dear rat will do the rest. That’s it, you’re a free man .. errr… dog… err… anthropomorphic canine. No more Brady in your head!

Back in Bosco’s, end the conversation with Bosco and head for Sybil's office. Talk to Sybil and asks if she can help. She’ll provide with a Helmet Diagram. Leave her place and head back to your office. Grab the Coat Hanger from the top of the television and head for Bosco’s inconvenience store. Give the Helmet Diagram and then the Coat Hanger to Bosco. Now, leave the inconvenience store and hop into your DeSoto. There’s silly work afoot.

The Final Act (definitely)

Let’s be brief now. Enter the building through the right gate. Sam will wear the device automatically.

Click on the Soda Poppers and select become... Brady Culture!

The worship option will appear. Select worship... me!

Click on the Soda Poppers again and select attack... me!


Related @ Gnome's Lair:
Sam & Max Culture Shock, Sam & Max Freelance Police: the cancelled game's trailer, Wik, Monkey Island music

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Oct 20, 2006

The Commodore 64 demoscene

Enjoy your free and/or indy games here, relive the days of Rogue here, experience the dark arts here, but stay right where you are, if all you really want is to watch what the Commodore 64 was actually capable of. What follows, you see, is an amazing video compilation of some of the more impressive productions of the C64 demoscene. And it's here, even though Kenzoid27 created it. More demo fun to be found here (Hoorah! that's 7 whole links).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: the first computer mouse, tons of freely playable NES games, Museum Monday 33, Wik

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Oct 18, 2006

The free Gorillaz non-game

In typical Dada fashion the Gorillaz have made this funny little driving non-game available. It's all in 3d and runs in a browser window. The music featured is nice too. Uhm... errr... can't think of anything else to add really... Just have a look. Clicky - clicky.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Soldat, Flash for Fun, Wik, Hidden Expedition Titanic

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Oct 17, 2006

Sam & Max: Season 1 - Culture Shock

Yes! The psychotic lagomorph (Max) and his (its?) gun wielding dog buddy (that must be Sam) have returned, and are as paranoid as ever, despite the best efforts of every Sith psychiatrist Lucasarts could muster! You see, dear adventurers, if you're anything like me (pray you are not), you'll be excited -nay, elated- to learn that Sam and Max: Season 1 - Culture Shock has just premiered on GameTap (unfortunately only available for US and Canada residents) and should be globally available in a mere 15 days via Telltale.

Well, as for me, I just didn't have to wait... Besides the 13 years that passed since the brilliant Sam and Max: Hit the Road, that is, but I digress. Being privileged enough to have enjoyed a review-copy of the game for more than a week, let me just tell you it's excellent. In a genuinely hilarious, relaxed, beautiful, smart, absurd and cartoony way. In a Sam and Max the comic way too. Oh, and this is definitely the best adventure since Gabriel Knight 3. Ah, and the graphics, music and voice-over are almost perfect. Oi, and it was definitely worth the wait. Ehhh, and it's a rather short game.

Anyway. You must really try it! Really really try it, even before you read the review I'll be posting in the (soon to be released) issue of Adventure Lantern. Here are some screenshots:

For now, you, dear readers from Canada or the US, can actually play the game (apparently in full) without actually paying anything, just by clicking on the following strategically placed banner and signing up for the much-envied GameTap service. [UPDATE: well, not anymore... GameTap has -for the time- stopped giving its two week free trial. Damn.] The rest of you spend some time here...

Related @ Gnome's Lair
: Hidden Expedition Titanic, text-adventure maps, Bone 2 Easter Egg, the murdered Sam & Max game

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Oct 16, 2006

Museum Monday #33

Monday. Yada yada. The worst day of the week and all that jazz. Museum Monday and retro links. Every week for the past 10 or so months... Kind of repetitive, isn't it? Well, no, not this Moday it isn't, for a) I'm in a pretty good mood (which I'm sure I'll soon regret), and b) there's no e-museum link. There's this excellent Evolution of Video Games video instead (by allgamesradio):

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Oct 15, 2006

1963. The year of the mouse.

Apparently the mouse appeared long before the Apple LISA almost reached the mainstream. It was developed back in 1963 by Douglas Engelbart, who (according to Wikipedia) called it the "bug", and (according to sources speaking right out of my arse) hadn't quite realized the gaming potential of the thing. Anyway. Here are the pics and blueprints (snatched from this excellent place) of said mouse-bug-thingy:

Related @ Gnome's Lair: CD gaming from the eighties, OXO: the first video game ever, the ZX Spectrum on your PC (e-book), Wik

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Scratches Walkthrough and ...err... stuff

As far as node-based point-and-click horror adventures go, Scratches is the best game we've had for quite some time. The atmosphere is excellent, the story amazing and the sense of dread definitely enjoyable. As for the sound... ah, yes, the sound... it will have you screaming like a little girl that just met Jason.

Typically though, some puzzles do get quite a bit on the obscure (aka frustrating) side of things, and that's what walkthroughs, FAQs, hints etc are for: preserving your preciously relaxed state of mind. To help you, here's a mix of the best Scratches links around:
Scratches walkthrough @ Just Adventure +
Scratches walkthrough @ GameBoomers
Scratches hints @ UHS

More links of interest include the amazingly lengthy, detailed and full of spoilers discussion of Scratches' ending and story found here, and the quirky Easter Egg Patch found here (US version only).

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Space Quest IV walkthrough, text-adventure maps, Lucasarts FTP stash

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Oct 14, 2006

PSPZX81 upgrades your PSP to a ZX-81

Actually the PSPZX81 is more of an emulator than an upgrade really, but you'd better think of it as a course in video games history. The PSPZX81, you see, will bring all the power of the original Sinclair ZX81 (meet the beast here) and its whole 1Kb of RAM to your humble PSP, which is -clearly- not a good thing. Anyway. You'll even be able to enjoy such timeless classics as Battlestar Galactica:

Get the (free) emulator here, and some (obviously free) games here. If you really need a Sony PSP too, then get it here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Visiting Day - a free PSP game, 60 hand-picked free PC games, Hidden Expedition Titanic

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Oct 13, 2006

The (almost complete) Sonic level-map collection

Care for some Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 3 and Knuckles maps? Don't care if things like springs, collapsible scenery, badniks, rings and floating or moving platforms are completely missing? Like what you see below (it actually tends to be more visible when clicked)? Then, by all means, do visit this nice retro corner of cyberspace.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Retroinspection: SEGA MegaDrive, 5 reasons to own a Dreamcast, online & free MSX emulation

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Gnome's Little Shop of Thingies! The horror!

It had to come to that. It wasn't me, it was society. The apparently official e-shop of Gnome's Lair, the cunningly named Gnome's Little Shop of Thingies has already opened its cyber doors. Visit it by clicking this pretty obvious link.

There, oh brave and adventuring consumer, expect to find a weekly (or so) updated list of featured goodies, and a variety of video games, books, RPGs and board games. Also expect to find obscure gems from the Amazon.com vaults. Gems like The Game of Thrones in d20 format, a certain Monkey Island game and books detailing the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore.

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Oct 12, 2006

Hidden Expedition Titanic

Remember a time when reading about a game wasn't enough to help you understand how the bloody thing played? A time when quirkiness was banal? A time when men were men, modems were modems and the Titanic was resting in unreachable depths? Good, for this is the case with Hidden Expedition Titanic, a casual little game that has you diving and searching for the lost treasurers of the Titanic. Apparently in unreachable depths.

Plausibility aside, HET is a rather fun game. The gameplay is pretty straight-forward and the puzzles strangely addictive, the static 2d graphics are beautiful, the sounds are functional and atmospheric, the story cute and you'd better try the demo for yourselves. Preferably by clicking here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Wik and the Fable of Souls, Ninja Loves Pirate: the interview, Oblivion's essentials

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Uhhh.....uuuuuhhh!! Zombie Plague.

Now, here's a game that will cater to the refined tastes of the people who don't really enjoy spending money: Zombie Plague. An excellent and free board game (well, you will be needing a printer; and some ink; dice would come in handy too; other than that it's free) that pits humans vs. zombies, or, to be more precise, fast and well-armed humans vs. slow and defenseless zombies. Great tactical fun.

Get the brilliantly illustrated PDF of Zombie Plague here.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Space Hulk, Zombies!!! and Zombies!!! 2, board gaming truths

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Oct 11, 2006

Little Wars. Or how H.G. Wells created pop wargaming.

Playing with toy soldiers is apparently as ancient a hobby as playing with ones self (well ... almost). Ancient Egyptians did it, the Romans did it, Indians did it and the Chinese must have surely entertained the thought.

Playing with toy soldiers in a modern context, on the other hand, is -as expected- a rather more recent development, and as such a more cruel one too. The whole thing, you see, didn't start as playing per se, but more of as a way to train Prussian military officers in the subtleties (?) of war (Kriegspiel they called it, and it used dice to simulate random battlefield events). The concept didn't actually evolve into something less blood thirsty till H.G. Wells decided that a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books would be a nifty idea.

A game that would be the first modern miniature wargame not intended for being used in slaughtering actual people in particularly gruesome ways. A game Mr. Wells would cunningly name Little Wars. Also a game (published in the most traditional of book formats) lovingly preserved by the good people of Project Gutenberg and thankfully available in full and for free right here. Go on. Read the thing. It's brilliant and you'll get to feel all 1913 too. Seems pretty playable, mind you.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Mutant Chronicles Update, Dungeon Dark and Dangerous, Class Struggle: the board game

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Oct 10, 2006

A really outrageous PS3 gmail auction

Ok, if you were fast enough in reaching this humble lair of the humblest of gnomes, just click here. You'll see a smart guy selling a gmail address on eBay. For 265$. And people are buying! Really, who wouldn't want a Playstation3.sonys@gmail.com email? Sony PlayStation 3, also lovingly known as the PS3, is after all such a nice console (people tell me).

For the slower types.... uhmmm.... see the pretty pictures? Good.

Related @ Gnome's Lair: a 30 Wii games video, 30 hand-picked free games, Wik, those fecking text adventures

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