Date archives for September, 2006

September 23rd, 2006
Blog Entry


About James

I’m twenty-three years old and I live in York. I run this site as a place to share my photos, articles, music, thoughts and other aspects of my life. If you’d like me to write something for you, ask a question or just say hello, you can email me with that link. Don’t worry, I write very nice emails.

About the site

I opened to the public way back in 2004 as a website to share music from my album “Long Distance”, out in 2005. After a few years in this form it changed to the website you see now in September 2006. The site is constantly changing to incorporate new ideas and designs, the most recent being a massively updated “Music” section featuring my vocal and instrumental music, and my “Diaries” page, where you can read about my exploits in Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing or Pro Evolution Soccer 4.

The Collected Writings of James Newton will continue to go from strength to strength over the coming weeks, months and years, and I hope you will continue to visit, be inspired and respond to the content here in your own way. You can subscribe with, or bookmark the main page with Control + D. Come back soon!

September 21st, 2006
Blog Entry

Richard Jacques, here we come!

I love Richard Jacques. I’ve said before that I think “Jack’s Theme” from Headhunter is probably the best piece of videogame music ever composed – and GameFAQs agree – and although he got a lot of stick for it at the time, I love his Sonic R soundtrack. In fact, on Tuesday I walked to the train station to pick up my brother whilst having a good sing-song to “Back in Time”. Love those harmonies, Richard!

Anyway, apart from telling you how cool Richard Jacques is, and how intelligent and melodically distinctive his work is, this entry is actually just to say that Phil and I are going to see him live in concert at the end of next month. Yes, this very cool-looking bloke will soon be providing some “ripping sounds” live in concert in Nottingham as part of their “GameCity 2006” dealy bob.

Richard Jacques is a legend, and getting to see him play Sega tunes live on the piano in a church gets me quite frothingly excited. As you can see, though, Richard is still totally cool about it all.

There are some excellent samples of his music available on his official website, Richard If you’d like to hear Richard live, you can buy tickets online at, or find out more about “GameCity” at

I’m listening to Jack’s Theme, from Headhunter by Richard Jacques

September 17th, 2006
Blog Entry

Sonic Rush

The best 2D Sonic game since 24th February, 1994.

Sonic Team finally brought the winning Sonic formula back to life with Sonic Rush on Nintendo’s DS last year. Very fast, very bright and very cool, it perfectly reflects what Sonic games are all about. That’s not to say it’s a rehash, though.

Although the game doesn’t make best use of the DS’s features – the touch screen is only significantly used during yet another tube special stage – the dual-screen approach helps to give back that pinball feel of fast transport while still keeping Sonic in view at all times. Your eyes zip back and forth, but the mechanic works well, particularly when running up or down huge inclines or vertical walls, contributing to that precious Sonic feeling.

Click here to buy Sonic RushI don’t usually say things like this, but if you like Sonic games you’ll love this. Just as New Super Mario Bros. is a classic Mario game, Sonic Rush is a classic Sonic game.

Verdict: Mixes new technology with classic adrenaline gameplay. Exhilarating.

Click the box to buy the game cheaply at!

I’m listening to Anaesthetic, from Tunde [UK] by Tunde

September 16th, 2006
Blog Entry

What does it feel like to fly?

This is something that’s always fascinated me. I’m sure I’ve written before about how frustrating it is that we can’t fly unaided. The closest I get is NiGHTS, which to be honest is probably better than flying.Oh yes indeed

Anyway, this isn’t a long post, I just wanted to bring to your attention a short film that Hannah and I have directed and produced over on YouTube. It’s for an Embrace competition for their single “Target”, and is available for viewing by clicking this link.

I hope you enjoy it, and come back again soon. Don’t forget to subscribe by clicking the “subscribe to entries” link in the left hand side, and keep all your wonderful emails coming in – it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who reads this!

I’m listening to Purple Rain, from The Hits 2 by Prince

Blog Entry

Do you have a musical memory?

There’s a piece of music that has such a strong memory for me that every time it comes on I can’t think of anything else.

It’s “By the Source of the Protective Flame” from Sega’s Panzer Dragoon Saga soundtrack, and every time I listen to it, I am right back in a very specific time and place, but it’s not connected to the game.

Whilst writing my dissertation, I decided that creating a CD of music to relax to would be a very good idea. Naturally, being the geek I am I began to work on possible playlists, themes, movements and so on (the final result was actually called “Game Music: Relaxing to Jiving”!).

Every time I hear this song now, I am instantly back in my room during the spring of 2005. Everything is very white and clean, which lets me know what a specific time this memory belongs to! There’s a cleansing breeze through the room, and I can see the foot of my bed and my stereo. I take a deep breath and totally relax. There’s a feeling of being completely serene, and everything is very still and peaceful.

I realise now that this memory is actually probably many memories blurred together, but no matter where I hear this song it lifts me out of my surroundings, and once again I am sitting on my bed, looking at the stereo, breathing air of a beautiful clarity.

Do you have any memories that are interwoven with songs, pictures, sounds, films or anything else? What transports you back when you meet it again?

September 6th, 2006
Blog Entry

Animal Crossing: Wild World

Live in a town filled with talking animals. Pick fruit and sell it to a raccoon. Fish, catch bugs, plant and water flowers. Buy furniture. Send letters. Visit other players’ towns. Watch fireworks. Go shopping. Design clothes. Listen to a guitar-playing dog. Watch colours change as the seasons go by.

Animal Crossing is a game that survives on length rather than depth. You play it over a period of time, rather like a game of skill, although there’s next-to no skill involved. You improve by mastering emotions – sadness! Surprise! – and paying off your mortgage. I think it’s fair to say Animal Crossing perhaps isn’t the most exciting game in the world.You'll find this exciting one day

Playing it with friends is even better, and what really lifts this above the Gamecube version. Although the trading sadly doesn’t extend to animals, you can swap patterns, villagers, phrases, constellations, furniture… quite a lot, really.

Animal Crossing is almost impossible to review because it either appeals to you or it doesn’t. I’ve tried at great length to talk two of my best friends into appreciating it, but it’s not a game that can be taught; only learnt.

In short: A parallel, beautiful world of wonder and charm.

September 2nd, 2006
Blog Entry

The bottom line on violence in games

Phrases and arguments like this really irritate me:

It has been well established that playing violent video games aggression in players.

(Nicholas L. Carnagey, “In Video Games, Not All Mayhem Is Created Equal“)

I’m sure you know the argument by now; playing violent games increases aggression in players, and there’s a theory that increased exposure to these games can permanently program someone to behave more aggressively. That’s certainly what this “well-established” – though typically anonymous – data proves, isn’t it? Well, no, not really.Stupid Park Ji Sung.

Having played – and lost! – more than my fair share of games, I’ll testify that I experience a rise in aggression when playing certain kinds of games; mostly Pro Evolution actually, when my LAZY DONKEY PLAYERS won’t do what they’re told. Aggression probably does rise whilst playing games, but then it goes away.

The study itself spectacularly fails to take into account the way game players’ brains are already programmed. The study gave three different versions of a racing game – one where all violence was punished, one where it was rewarded, and a non-violent one. To nobody’s surprise, the version that rewarded punishment led to “increased hostile emotion, aggressive thinking and aggressive behaviour” in the players. No details of what this “aggressive behaviour” entailed are given, other than gamers following the words “K I” with “L L” or “S S  O F F, P U N K”.*

The study

All this study has proven is that gamers respond to rewards, which isn’t any surprise to anyone. If we get more points for driving around a track backwards, we’ll drive around a track backwards. If it’s hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat, we’ll do that. Hardly a breakthrough, even Pavlov got that far.

The worst part about all this is that I haven’t been this angry in a very long time, and I’m not even playing a game! I’d like to think this could be the final word on the topic, but I live on Planet Earth, so it’s not going to be. However, here goes anyway:

People who have trouble controlling anger in any situation will have trouble controlling anger arising from playing games. Those of us who are well-adjusted, with clearly-set moral boundaries and ethical guides from our parents and friends will be just fine.

* – super-points for anyone who can tell me what game this is from!

September 1st, 2006
Blog Entry

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Absolutely one of the best-written games EVER. It’s a cross between a courtroom drama and a police investigation game, with you piecing together evidence and then cross-examining witnesses until you find out what really happened. It starts out easy but gets hard very quickly, but the feeling of intelligence when you get something right is hard to beat.

Only the fifth and final chapter truly uses the DS’s capabilities, as the first four are actually from an existing GameBoy Advance game, but they’re all so intricate and involving it’s hard to care if you just use the stylus to tap on questions or evidence.

It’s such a hard game to sell because there’s not much else like it. Someone sold it to me as like being able to be a character in a really great book, which is a good way of looking at it because the characters and dialogue are amazing.

In short: Clever cases, funny dialogue, great experience.

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