Shared posts

14 Feb 23:36

What Animal Has the Weirdest Heart?

by Cara Giaimo

Sure, the human heart is a wonder—it keeps us alive, it's literally electric, it's the metaphorical seat of the soul, and so on. But can it regenerate itself? Does it pump exclusively clear blood? Can it freeze and then come back to life?

Some animal species' hearts can do this and more. We scoured the animal kingdom for cardiac marvels, from the depths of the ocean to the top of the Himalayas. Here are some of the strangest we found, divided into categories for your convenience.




Depending on how you define your terms, earthworms either have five hearts, or no heart at all. While they lack the chambered, muscular organ that normally comes to mind, they do have five special blood vessels, called aortic arches, that contract in order to pump blood through the worm's body. Look really closely at a specimen, and you can see the arches squeezing and releasing. So if you break an earthworm's heart, don't worry—it has four more.



A human heart has four chambers, each with a specific job—if any of them fail, it's bad news. A cockroach heart, on the other hand, has 12 to 13 chambers, all arranged in a row and powered by a separate set of muscles. This built-in redundancy means that if any one chamber fails, the cockroach is barely affected. We humans have been outmatched once again.


Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade hoverflies like to linger in the air over flowers, harvesting as much pollen as possible in one trip. To do this, they've evolved what is essentially a one-track heart—it spends almost all of its time and energy pumping blood forward into the head and thorax, where the wing muscles and mouthparts are. The abdomen gets only the occasional kickback, when the heart would otherwise be resting.

Fish & Their Neighbors


Sure, the zebrafish looks like your average pet store minnow, but under that stripy exterior beats what is, effectively, a superhero's heart. In 2002, scientists discovered that if you cut out up to 20 percent of the zebrafish's lower ventricle, they regenerate all that lost tissue within a couple of months. This happens thanks to specialized muscle cells that not only promote their own growth, but jumpstart the production of new veins. By studying these self-healing hearts, researchers hope to eventually apply their strategies to human organs.



Ocellated Icefish

Ocellated icefish live about a kilometer down in the Southern Ocean, which is the one next to Antarctica. How do they cope with the cold? Partly thanks to their tickers, which are much larger, and about five times stronger, than your average fish heart. Their blood also lacks hemoglobin, the red protein that normally binds to oxygen—instead, thanks to the low temperatures, oxygen is dissolved directly into their plasma. Because of this, they have clear blood. Icefish indeed.




Like all cephalopods, the cuttlefish has three hearts—one for each gill, and a third for the rest of its body. Research has shown that cuttlefish in cold waters have larger hearts than those in warmer waters, to enhance aerobic capacity. They also have hemocyanin instead of hemoglobin in their blood, which means that their blood is blue. Very aristocratic.



Blue-Throated Hummingbird

You've probably heard that hummingbirds flap their wings 15 times per second—so fast that the human eye just sees a blur. Enabling that wingspeed is an even faster heart, which in the blue-throated hummingbird has been measured revving up to 21 beats per second. This efficiency helps enable the hummingbird's unparalleled ability to bring oxygen to its muscle mitochondria, which researchers say "may be at the upper limits of what [is] structurally and functionally possible" for vertebrates.


Bar-Headed Goose

Migration is tough on every bird, but the bar-headed gooses' route is particularly taxing—they head straight over the Himalayas. Flocks are regularly observed winging it through mountain passes about 20,000 feet above sea level, powered by unusually strong hearts, which are connected to the flight muscles by super-organized sets of extra capillaries, and can pump five times faster in flight than at rest. They're also able to hyperventilate without getting dizzy, which helps.



Emperor Penguin

Emperor penguins are famous for the softness of their hearts. Serial monogamists, penguin couples spend most of each year tending each other, their eggs, and their chicks. Less well-known, but equally important, is the slowness of their hearts. While diving, emperor penguins can dial back their heart rate to about 15 beats per minute, shutting off blood supply to all but the most vital organs and doling out only as much oxygen as is necessary for deep-water hunting. And when they come back up, they do so at a sloping angle, like a scuba diver avoiding the bends.

Reptiles & Amphibians

Wood Frog

Plenty of animals, from bears to groundhogs, slow down their hearts when hibernating—but as far as we know, only wood frogs can stop the beat completely. During the winter, these frogs essentially become frogsicles: thanks to special solutes in their cells, they can halt metabolic activity and allow most of their body water to solidify, all without any lasting damage. Their hearts take it in stride, stopping when the world freezes and starting again when it thaws out.


Glass Frog

All frogs have three-chambered hearts, with two atria, which receive blood from other parts of the body, and one ventricle, which shunts it back out again. Glass frogs are unique in that you can actually see this happening—their translucent abdominal skin provides a great view of the heart at work, as well as the blood vessels snaking through its other organs.




If a human heart is filled with fat, there's cause for concern, but if it's a python heart instead, things are going great. After one of its famously giant meals, a python's heart increases in size by about 40 percent, swelled up by fatty acids absorbed from the meal. (This speeds up digestion, which still takes days.) Its blood gets so full of the fatty acids, it turns opaque—"like milk," researcher Leslie Leinwald told National Geographic



Blue Whale

Popular legend holds that a blue whale's heart is as big as a car, and that a human could crawl through its aorta. This isn't quite true—those that scientists have on hand are closer to "the size of maybe a small golf cart or a circus bumper car for two," and the aorta could barely fit a human head, as scientist Jacqueline Miller told the BBC in 2015, after dissecting one. Still not too shabby, though.




You know those carnival games where you hit a lever and, if you're good, the target shoots six feet up into the air? A giraffe's heart has to do that all day, every day, fighting the pressure of gravity to get blood up to the head. He manages this by having extra-thick, extra strong cardiac walls, and blood vessels that expand and contract quickly and easily. The blood vessels also get thicker as the giraffe's neck gets longer, so that they don't collapse under the increasing weight.



A cheetah's resting heart rate is around 120 beats per minute, about the same as a jogging human's. But while the human heart rate tops out around 220—and takes a little while to get there—the cheetah's heart skyrockets to 250 BPM in a few seconds. This ramp-up is so intense that it limits the cheetah's sprinting time to about 20 seconds, after which her organs would become so hot they'd be permanently damaged.

15 Nov 00:21

Navy denies it pirated 558K copies of software, says contractor consented

by David Kravets

(credit: Claire Macnamara)

In response to a lawsuit accusing the US Navy of pirating more than 558,000 copies of virtual reality software, the Navy conceded Monday that it had installed the software on "hundreds of thousands of computers within its network" without paying the German software maker for it. But the Navy says it did so with the consent of the software producer.

Bitmanagement Software, in a federal lawsuit, claims the government pilfered its 3D virtual reality software on a "massive scale" beginning in 2013. The company says it agreed to license BS Contact Geo on just 38 machines "for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems." The suit, in which Bitmanagement conceded that it removed the "control mechanism that tracked and limited the use of the software," seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Those damages could grow into billions. The US Copyright Act allows up to $150,000 in damages per infringement.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

01 Nov 01:25

New leak may show if you were hacked by the NSA

by Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: Mustafa Al-Bassam)

Shadow Brokers—the name used by a person or group that created seismic waves in August when it published some of the National Security Agency's most elite hacking tools—is back with a new leak that the group says reveals hundreds of organizations targeted by the NSA over more than a decade.

"TheShadowBrokers is having special trick or treat for Amerikanskis tonight," said the Monday morning post, which was signed by the same encryption key used in the August posts. "Many missions into your networks is/was coming from these ip addresses."

Monday's leak came as former NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III remains in federal custody on charges that he hoarded an astounding 50 terabytes of data in his suburban Maryland home. Much of the data included highly classified information such as the names of US intelligence officers and highly sensitive methods behind intelligence operations. Martin came to the attention of investigators looking into the Shadow Brokers' August leak. Anonymous people with knowledge of the investigation say they don't know what connection, if any, Martin has to the group or the leaks.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

22 Sep 08:02

150th Anniversary Edition of “Alice in Wonderland” Features Rare 1969 Salvador Dalí Illustrations

by Christopher Jobson

Advice From a Caterpillar

While glancing at Salvador Dalí’s paintings one might get the sense that they’ve tripped down their mind’s own rabbit hole, all of a sudden dropped within a barren wasteland filed with abstract objects and creatures. The pairing then, of Dalí and Alice in Wonderland writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll, seem perfectly matched—two men whose minds travel far beyond the cutesy corners of an average fairytale. In the 1960s an editor at Random House realized this genius partnership, commissioning Dalí to illustrate an exclusive edition of Alice in Wonderland, of which Dalí signed every copy.

This rare edition of Alice was long coveted by rare book collectors and scholars, making only occasional appearances for study or the auction block. However, for the 150th anniversary of Lewis’ surrealist tale, this one-of-a-kind collaboration has finally been printed for the public by Princeton University Press. The deluxe edition, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, features an introduction explaining Dalí’s connection to Carroll by Lewis Carroll Society of North America President Mark Burstein, and exploration by mathematician Thomas Banchoff of the mathematics found in Dalí’s work and illustrations. (via Brain Pickings, Lost at E Minor)


Down the Rabbit Hole


The Pool of Tears


The Queen’s Croquet Ground


The Caucus Race and a Long Tale


The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill


Pig and Pepper


Mad Tea Party


Alice’s Evidence


The Mock Turtle’s Story


The Lobster’s Quadrille


Frontispiece for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

30 Nov 22:19

Are We Alone in the Universe?

by Adam Savage

This weekend in The Guardian I came across a fantastic interview -- "Are We Alone in the Universe?" -- between two of my favorite people: astronaut Chris Hadfield and cartoonist/former NASA physicist Randall Munroe.

Listening to two of my favorite minds when they get together is genuinely thrilling. Their banter makes me feel like I can see just a little bit wider. I love that they're both seeking ways to articulately communicate the incredible scales they understand things on.

Composite: David Levene, Josh Andrus for The Guardian

I also love how excited they are about what they don't understand. And that might be the best part: their humility and generosity. I know this of Chris; I'm lucky to say he's a friend. I've gleaned it from Randall's incredible, prolific body of work.

I wish I could interview people like this.

03 Sep 00:11

August Indie Pattern Update!

by Fiona Parker

So I am currently in LA (Eeeeee!) and wrote this post before I went so anything exciting that happened in the last couple of days in August is probably missing, I'm very sorry and will update as soon as I can! This month passed by in a crazy blur of a lot of work and very little sewing so despite being super excited about my trip I also can't wait to get home and get a project under my machine! Writing this and looking at all the new patterns has made me really want to sew!

New Patterns

  • Republique du Chiffon released the Areli Dress and Tunic. The design features a bib front and yokes which can be accentuated with colour blocking or piping. I really like the belted version of the dress.
  • Fabrics for Sale released their very first pattern (the Tulip Co-Ordinates) which you can receive free with any order over £35. it's really on trend and I like the amount of volume in the culottes.
  • The new pattern from Blueprints for Sewing is the Saltbox, which a tee or tank with an asymmetrical design. The top is pieced at the front and back and the style lines are inspired by the shape of a roof.
  • Seamster Patterns released the Sorrel Dress & Top. It features a peter pan Collar which is colour blocked into the garment rather than laying separately on top. I love this idea and also the proportions of the narrow collar and wide neckline which skims the collar bones. At first it will only be available as part of the first pattern bundle of Sewing Indie Month.
  • The new release from Sew House Seven is the Rose City Halter Dress. It's the kind of dress I'd love to be able to wear every day in summer and I'm seriously tempted by the pattern
  • Itch to Stitch released two patterns this month, the Carey Top and Davina Dress (both currently on sale). The Davina is a very flattering cut and has 5 sleeve options!
  • Hot Patterns released the Metropolitan Chimera Jacket. It's a relaxed fit jacket, designed for stable knits with lots of variations including a vest and two sleeve lengths. I like how they've styled it for evening on the envelope.
  • Style Arc's new releases for the month included the Courtney Top, Sabel Boyfriend Cardigan, Agnes Designer Dress, Mary Shift Dress (this month's freebie with any purchase) and the Joni Knit Track Pant which I am really taken with the style lines for. These are cuffed and feature wrap around side seams. 
  • Lily Sage & Co released the Splash Swimsuit. I love this design, particularly the one piece which has an open back that cut's around the size with angular design lines. I think this might be one that makes it's way into my collection!
  • I was really pleased to see a new pattern arrive from Salme Patterns, the Cut Out Halter Top. It's another chic and simple design that I think would work well in a whole range of fabrics.
  • Melissa from Fehr Trade released the Kimono Sweat which is a looser fitting activewear design than the rest of her collection. Perfect for layering or even wearing day to day.
  • The Lemon Squeeze Cardigan is the new pattern from Snapdragon Studios. It's a quick and easy project that looks great in loads of different fabrics. I love their lace sample version! Currently available in PDF form but the paper pattern is coming soon.
  • Sew Over It released their Anderson Blouse as a PDF pattern. This isn't the kind of style I usually wear but I'm quiet drawn to it for Autumn/Winter this year. I'm a big fan of Sew Over It patterns so I might give it a whirl.
  • Waffle Patterns has just released the Monaca Drape Wrap Shirt. It's an oversized design featuring a dropped shoulder and twist at the front that I'm quite fond of. I like the plaid sample version paired with jeans!
  • And finally Make My Lemonade released the Nina Jumpsuit today! I love the look of jumpsuits on other people but am yet to find a design that I think would suit me and my short stature. I'm not sure if this one might overwhelm me a bit?


  • See Kate Sew has been running a sew-along for her Callie Top. That's sadly it for sew-along news this month, as far as I'm aware. I've noticed a decline in the number of sew-along posts recently and I do hope that it's something that doesn't peter out as I find them really useful, particularly for more complicated patterns. Although I appreciate that they most be very time consuming for the designers who are often working with limited resources.


  • I was really excited to see Heather Lou from Closet Case Files put a call out for testers for a coat pattern. If I'd had more time on my hands at the minute I would have been on that like a shot! I can't wait to see what kind of design she has come up with and am also looking forward to some coat making tips on her blog.
  • The new pattern from Grainline Studio is being released tomorrow! I haven't been able to work out what it might be from any sneak peaks I've seen so I can't wait to see!
  • Also coming tomorrow is the Autumn/Winter collection from Named. It's entitled 'New Black' and I'm really keen on their contemporary aesthetic so I can see September being an expensive month pattern wise for me!
  • Kristiann from Victory Patterns has revealed that she is hard a work sampling for new patterns now she has completed her book. In the future she will be releasing patterns one at a time at more regular intervals. I always felt she included some really interesting design details so I will be looking forward to seeing more from her.
  • The autumn collection from Deer and Doe is also coming soon. I am always sad to see summer go but all these sneak peaks of autumn sewing have actually got me quite excited for the change in season!
  • Pearl Red Moon has got two new patterns in the pipeline. The Hester Skirt is due to be released this week and Scarlett will be next, which is a tunic pattern including a zip fronted sleeveless jacket variation.
  • Marilla Walker will fairly soon release a pattern for a kind of capsule wardrobe which includes pattern pieces to make up a jumpsuit, dungarees, dungaree dress and woven tee. Perhaps this will be the jumpsuit pattern I have been waiting for?!

Other Exciting News

  • Sew House Seven PDF patterns have been reformatted to use less paper and copy shop versions are now available. I'm really pleased to see so many designer's really thinking about the layout of their PDFs and trying to reduce waste and also assembly time.
  • Victory Patterns' Kristiann has a book coming out soon! It's called 'Boundless Style' and includes mix and match modular patterns which you can play with to create your own designs.
  • Wendy from MIY Collection updated her straight neck vest and dress pattern which is now called the Walkley Vest Dress. It now has a copy shop version and uses her new sizing system.

As always feel free to let me know in the comments about any news I may have missed and I will update the post as soon as I am back in London or include it in next month's post. As always here's a little bit of indie sewing inspiration to start September off well!

19 Aug 02:48

It’s Elliott Smith Week!

by AJ

It’s Elliott Smith Week!

This week, either/or celebrates the artist who gave us our name. That’s right, it’s a week devoted to the musical work of singer/songwriter Steven Paul “Elliott” Smith! Just like our Beatles Week, we’ll be bringing you a selection of songs from every album he released in his lifetime. You’ll get two tunes from each album a day: one from Hugh and one from myself, and altogether they’ll (hopefully) represent the most appropriate set of tunes to introduce you to his wonderful range of work. So without further ado, a with a (belated) happy birthday to the man, let’s head on in!

19 Aug 02:48

Elliott Smith – Last Call

by Hugh

Elliott Smith – Last Call

I won’t be specifically attempting to post Elliott’s most depressing songs, but him being the troubled soul that he was, it’s inevitable that a good few of his songs are also troubled. Since he never intended his first album to be released, many of the songs are incredibly personal, dealing with subject matter that he may not have wanted to have an audience. His vocals on Last Call barely subdue the frustration and anger evident in the lyrics, while the guitar dances around in your head. An amazing song that any honest musician would have killed to write, though very few could deliver with the same emotional force that Mr. Smith does here.

18 Jul 01:08

Molly Contogeorge – Bad Boy

by AJ

Molly Contogeorge – Bad Boy

Most ridiculous album art that we’ve ever posted? Quite possibly! But enough about that, because it is time for some more from Molly Contogeorge. I was rather smitten with her wonderfully infectious Lead On, Lead On and its charming blend of jazz and pop. I seem to recall spontaneous bouts of dancing resulting from listening to the track which is saying something because I am rubbish at dancing.

Anyway, Molly has a new EP out now, and here is a song from it. Aside from being as equally infectious as Lead On, Lead On, this also feels quite slick as well. And just a little bit sexy too, making that album art all the more confusing!

The post Molly Contogeorge – Bad Boy appeared first on either/or.

08 Jul 23:20


Ant Ant

Innovation can salvage anything.

While I maintain a fondness for the racing genre, it's one that I can safely say does not receive a great deal of attention with regards to innovation. Arcade or deep simulation tend to be the flavours of choice: be it the inspired lunacy of Mario Kart, or the granular, statistics-driven depth of the Gran Turismo series, most racing games generally slot themselves comfortable between those two spectrums.

TrackMania's approach falls within arcade, but in a way that not only rewards lap-time purists, but those who enjoy puzzles. Its elegant, gravity defying tracks tend to require split-second reflection at times, particularly when the track blends from hard-surface, to dirt and then essentially disappears altogether. It is certainly not uncommon to wonder which direction to turn, with a wrong decision sending the intensely speedy car careening off the track in a stomach lurching display of flips through extended air-time.

In a way, TrackMania features the same exhilarating and rage-inducing appeal as Super Meat Boy. Finding the perfect path through a full-speed track (one that, if done right, does not require the player to slow down at all) is an exercise in patience and on-the-spot thinking. Upon success, the challenge comes in not only trumping your own time, but the times of the other players running the track at the same time. Seemingly insignificant, it's an important distinguishing characteristic compared to Super Meat Boy: seeing other players on the track run through the map, and witnessing their success and folly is wonderful. The insular nature of Super Meat Boy means that raging against failure becomes far more painful as it isn't attributed to anything other than the player's performance. In TrackMania, if 20 out of the 24 players racing on a track weren't able to finish, there is instantaneous feedback from a group of vexed players, alleviating the player's shortcomings on the track.

This combination of pure gameplay-based player skill mixed with social interactivity elevates TrackMania beyond that of other 'wacky' racers. It relies so much on realistic racing concepts (holding the correct line, the balance between acceleration and braking) but is applied to a game whose tracks defy logic for the most part. It's an unusual blend, but one that takes the best components of several sub-genres and applies it a main genre that doesn't generally invite ideas of grand innovation. It's a shame that genres that purport to be more open in scope (i.e. shooters) don't follow Trackmania's lead in stepping out of perceived genre shackles.

My colleague over on the right and I have been running through the current version of TrackMania, TrackMania 2 Stadium, for a couple of weeks now. I find his interest in the game to be rather, well, interesting. He is certainly not one to play a 'traditional' racing game, yet he has certainly become quite a fan of this one. He is, in fact, substantially better at the game than I am (an Oceania ranking of just over 100, compared to my ranking of 470, at the time of publishing). It's clear that the genre mash-up is proving to be a winning formula, helping to sell and enjoy the more traditional racing elements that he perhaps isn't wedded to. It stands to reason that virtually any 'disliked', pure genre can be salvaged with an interesting spin: let's keep them coming.

LogicAndTrick LogicAndTrick

TrackMania falls into a category of games that I absolutely love.

While I am able to enjoy quite a large variety of games, like everyone else I find certain categories are much more enjoyable than others. Racing is typically not one of those categories: I find most racing games repetitive, boring, and overly reliant on multiplayer competition as a gameplay mechanic.

For me, TrackMania is none of these: it bucks the trend of pretty much every other racing game out there and makes something addictive, exciting, challenging, and engaging. It does this by doing exactly what games do best: by removing itself from reality.

Many racing games are firmly grounded in reality: Gran Turismo, Dirt, Forza, and similar games attempt to emulate real life racing as closely as possible. There's certainly a market for a realistic driving simulator, but for somebody like me, that's terribly boring. If you venture a bit further into game territory, you come across games like Grand Theft Auto and Need For Speed. These games are grounded in reality, but put the player in fantastical situation that wouldn't possibly happen in real life. These games are more enjoyable for people who aren't hardcore racing fans.

If you go even further down the path, you eventually come across the racing games that ignore much of reality. For me, these are the racing games that are consistently fun, easy to pick up, and hard to put down. Mario Kart is one example. TrackMania is another.

TrackMania falls into one of my favourite game categories. I can't think of a proper term for it (let me know in the comments if there is!), but the best way to describe it is that your enemy is yourself. In TrackMania, beating the other players is a secondary goal: the primary objective is to beat your own time. I absolutely love games that challenge me in this fashion, as the goal is to beat a time set by somebody with less skill than you - that is, yourself in the past. For me, this triggers an urge to constantly improve my times.

Many of my favourite games have similar mechanics: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Elite Beat Agents, Rhythm Heaven, and Trials 2: Second Edition are some examples of similar games. Some are time-based and some are score-based, but all have the same goal: beat your personal best.

TrackMania is a particularly good example of a game like this, because of the additional element it adds: multiplayer. While I said before that beating the other players is a secondary goal, it is still a very satisfying achievement to score a time that puts you above everyone else. Similarly, finishing down near the bottom of the scoreboard motivates you to improve.

The final thing that makes TrackMania stand out of the crowd is variety of the tracks in the game. It's just more fun to play a racing game with loops, jumps, spirals, wall rides, and many other concepts that would be ridiculous in real life. Once you couple these track sets with a powerful track editor and strong support for custom content, you have a game with a huge amount of content and replayability. TrackMania 2 hasn't been around for very long, and it already has thousands of custom maps. And that number isn't exactly decreasing. When you combine that with excellent mechanics and addictive, self-competitive gameplay, you get a game that will stay in my "recently played" list for a very long time.

29 Jun 04:31

Ash Grunwald – Walking

by AJ

Ash Grunwald – Walking

“But AJ,” I hear you exclaim. “You’ve already posted about this song!” That is indeed the case, but this is a cover version, so that excuses me. And who is the cover version by? The exact same artist.

Allow me to explain! Mr. Grunwald managed to finagle two-thirds of Australian alternative band, The Living End (I’ll post about them soon), into a recording studio for a few days, where they proceeded to cover his back catalogue of blues and roots tunes with a hard-edged dose of rock. The result is something even more badass than the original song, a feat I would not have thought possible!

The post Ash Grunwald – Walking appeared first on either/or.

20 Jun 01:24

The Coppertone – Young Blood

by AJ

The Coppertone – Young Blood

Indie artists, we love you. You’re totally the reason why either/or and websites like it exist: in amongst posts about the Foo Fighters or Radiohead, there is a metric truckload of musical gold from all the independent artists that have sent us songs over the years.

Amanda Zelina, of the Coppertone, has a bit of a problem. Her catalogue of songs is currently stuck with a record label that she backed away from, after a less than wonderful contractual agreement finished. So, unless she forks over $20,000 to them, they’ll own her work.

That is total balls!

Enter IndieGoGo. Amanda has recorded a new song for you all to listen to (and it’s brilliant too), and if you dig it, you can throw some money at her campaign to reclaim what’s rightfully hers. Yep, you are directly helping the artist, and I can think of nothing more rad than that.

The post The Coppertone – Young Blood appeared first on either/or.

01 May 02:43


Ant Ant

Seemingly simple games, but stock full of complexity.

I've recently started replaying Pokémon Red (after paying a somewhat exorbitant price for a copy of it off eBay). It's been a wonderful trip down memory lane with a game series that I mostly abandoned following the second generation.

It's easy to dismiss the monumental success of the series as a result of its appeal to children, but playing through Red in a more critical manner than I would've perhaps done back in 1998 (has it been that long?) reveals an almost flawless RPG, one where complex mechanics and depth are expertly communicated through memorable character and level design.

The two main gameplay tenants revolve around battling and collecting, with each of them designed to garner the maximum amount of player satisfaction out of the experience. Finding a Pokémon out in the wild requires the player to weaken it with their own Pokémon, until they are confident that it is weak enough to be caught. the sheer tension, excitement, and ultimately relief (or disappointment) brought on during an encounter is wonderfully palpable. The turn-based nature of the battle system, while purely statistics driven (and utilised by more in-depth players), initially feels as if it is driven by chance. It promotes a 'risk/reward' relationship for the player, ensuring that its consequences, whether positive or negative, are felt. For a game built upon highly repeated gameplay sequences, this is an absolute must.

The battle system does fall apart at times, particularly when the player encounters a Pokémon that they have previously captured. In this situation, there is no real reward for the player beyond a trivial amount of experience points, although it does potentially ramp up the excitement when a useful encounter occurs after a string of useless ones.

Even the music and sound effects serve to amplify (no pun intended, I assure you) the experience: the music for the battles is suitably intense, but with a thread of stoicism and determination. It's then contrasted sharply with the victory motif, which is celebratory and also quite relieving.

Battle music from the first generation Pokémon games.
Victory music

The surprising characteristic of the second tenant is that the act of collecting Pokémon is, for the most part, optional. The game can be adequately completed without really requiring any more than 6 different types of Pokémon in the player's roster, despite the extended cast of 150 types that exist (at least, in the first generation). It's a testament to the solidness of its design that many players actively pursue the game's tagline of catching them all: the allure of seeking out and completing the set outweighs the relative lack of purpose in doing so.

The Game Boy's rudimentary hardware necessitated simplification, not only in the amount of information communicated to the player, but also in terms of overall scope. It was not a platform for cut scenes or gratuitous amounts of dialogue, but one that bred clarity and conciseness. Pokémon is one of the most prime examples of this, and a successful one at that. It's certainly one that's stuck in my mind, despite the 15 year gap between plays, and I don't imagine I'll forget it any time soon.

LogicAndTrick LogicAndTrick

Could the Wii U see a return of Pokémon on the home console?

The Pokémon games are a huge selling point for Nintendo's handheld system, and no doubt the release of Pokémon X and Y on the 3DS will boost hardware sales of the console. However, Pokémon has never had a huge presence on Nintendo's home consoles.

Sure, there are a few spinoff games on the consoles, and notably the Pokémon Colosseum series has survived in some form all the way through to the Wii with Pokémon Battle Revolution. However, these are just battle games, and they only have limited (if any) story modes.

With the Wii U currently at the starting blocks, waiting for a big injection of games to shoot forward and start selling some units, Nintendo are now poised better than ever to get a full Pokémon RPG onto their main console. Ignoring any statements made in the past about why they might not want Pokémon on a console, let's look at why it could work.

Pokémon is one of the biggest selling points of any Nintendo handheld console. We already know that the Wii U needs to move more units, so there is a good incentive for Nintendo to do it. But Mario and Zelda move hardware, too, so why would Pokémon be any better? The key here is that Mario and Zelda are already very established on home consoles, while Pokémon isn't. Basically, it's something new for the series - and new experiences are something that the Wii U needs right now.

Looking at Pokémon's target audience - it's much larger than many would expect. Nintendo and Game Freak both know it well enough, but there's a market for Pokémon outside of the primary target of children aged 8 to 14. There's quite a bit of hidden complexity sitting underneath the forward-facing simplicity of Pokémon, and there's quite a large hardcore community who appreciates this complexity. Another group of people simply grew up playing Pokémon, and like to enjoy watching the series evolve and improve over time. All of these target audiences for the handheld games would transition over to the home console just fine. (As an anecdotal aside, a full Pokémon RPG would definitely get me to buy a Wii U.)

The "console experience" would allow the mechanics of the series to expand, as well. There's potential to turn Pokémon into a much more interesting, immersive world, utilising the mechanics that most JRPGs have had for years. A 3D game world would enable fights to take place on the field, rather than shifting off to battle mode. Also, the gym battles and the elite four sequence would be made much more interesting and would bring the feel of the gameplay closer to that of the anime series.

Anyway, now is the time for Nintendo to strike with Pokémon on the Wii U. Even if they're not going to be doing a full RPG on the console, perhaps it's time for a revisit some older spinoff titles. Notably, Pokémon Snap would be a perfect fit for the Wii U: The controller could act as a camera of sorts, using the "virtual space" 360 degree movement tracking that the Gamepad provides as a way to track down Pokémon in the scene. Another potential spinoff to revive is the Pokémon Trading Card Game, which would work well on the touch screens of either the Wii U or the 3DS.

30 Apr 23:08

Clint Mansell – Death is the Road to Awe

by AJ

Clint Mansell – Death is the Road to Awe

It’s our 600th post! I laugh in the face of Hugh, who thought he could snatch the mystical cup of victory from my grasp and partake in the sweet nectar within. But I foiled him, and now my I stand proudly over his carcass, my foot triumphantly placed on his head. But I’ll share the nectar with him, I GUESS.

Considering this monumental moment in either/or’s history, it’s only fitting that some equally monumental music accompany it. This piece featured in Darren Aronofsky’s critically divided film The Fountain. Personally, I liked it, but it’s not the kind of film you go and watch for cheery happy times: this piece will certainly demonstrate that. The film deals with death, loss, life and life beyond, and it’s all wonderfully encapsulated in this rather haunting piece.

Anyway, here’s to more either/or! See you at 700.

The post Clint Mansell – Death is the Road to Awe appeared first on either/or.

19 Apr 00:27

Bird to Prey – Emily

by AJ

Bird to Prey – Emily

Twitter informed the either/or account that perhaps it would enjoy following @birdtoprey, the handle of New York-based but Australian-born folk songstress Sarah Turk. Twitter clearly wasn’t aware that either/or is not a sentient being, and is in fact, run by humans. Check mate, social media!

After begrudgingly, partially accepting the advice of the Twitter robot, I discovered that Bird to Prey play some pretty mean folk-y, alternative country. There is no part of that musical pot that I wouldn’t heartily chug right on down, so here we are! This is one charmingly catchy tune, simple in scope but a whole bag of fun. Twitter, it seems you are good for something!

The post Bird to Prey – Emily appeared first on either/or.

19 Apr 00:27

Kingsley Flood – Sun Gonna Lemme Shine

by AJ

Kingsley Flood – Sun Gonna Lemme Shine

This song winged its way to me recently from a fellow called Nick Loss-Eaton, with a claim that the video for the song was the best he’d ever seen. Big words, Loss-Eaton!

As it stands, the video is infinitely adorable and almost makes me think that maybe I don’t mostly dislike children so much. Why can’t all kids be this charming? The song is also quite marvellous: infectious indie-pop at its finest. I guess you win this round, Mr. Nick Loss-Eaton!

The post Kingsley Flood – Sun Gonna Lemme Shine appeared first on either/or.

19 Apr 00:27

Parov Stelar – Let’s Roll (feat. Blaktroniks)

by AJ

Parov Stelar – Let’s Roll (feat. Blaktroniks)

I probably shouldn’t post any more stuff from Parov Stelar, owing to the 50 billion previous posts I’ve done on him. Then again, there’s no hard rule on this, and rules are for saps anyway!

There’s not a heck of a lot to this tune, and it sort of sounds like that ‘cool’ soundtrack to some ‘cool’ dance video. In fact, I’m pretty sure you could slip on the parachute pants and go to town, MC Hammer style, and it’d suit just fine. Having said that, the bass line is too addictive to be legal, so I’m not complaining!

The post Parov Stelar – Let’s Roll (feat. Blaktroniks) appeared first on either/or.

19 Apr 00:26

Air Marshal Landing – Little Town

by AJ

Air Marshal Landing – Little Town

One day, I will overcome the perennial problem that is checking out the pile of tunes that hit our inbox most days. I assume that this solution will coincide with the moment the human race reaches singularity with the universe, but for the time being, here is some indie pop! Air Marshall Landing are yet another Canadian group (it seems Canada loves us; right back at ya, kiddo) who play music that feels somewhat inspired by The Strokes: a little bit of 80s glam mixed with peppy pop rock, with big ‘ol chunks of supreme catchiness. If it were a cookie, you’d be dunking that baby in milk and chowing it the heck on down.

The post Air Marshal Landing – Little Town appeared first on either/or.

15 Apr 01:41

The Legend of Zelda: Clockwork Empire

by Steve Napierski
The Legend of Zelda: Clockwork Empire

Aaron Diaz, the creator of Dresdan Codak, has put together a proposal for new Legend of Zelda game where Zelda is the hero sent to rescue Prince Link. Here’s what he says on the topic:

Clockwork Empire is set 2,000 years after Twilight Princess, and is not a reboot, but simply another iteration in the Zelda franchise. It just so happens that in this case, Zelda is the protagonist. I’m a very big Zelda fan, and worked hard to draw from key elements in the continuity and mythos.

This concept work is meant to show that Zelda as a game protagonist can be both compelling and true to the franchise, while bringing new and dynamic game elements that go farther than being a simple gender swap.

Here’s my question: If Link is now the prince instead of the hero, wouldn’t this game be The Legend of Link and not another installment in the Zelda series?

source: Indistinguishable From Magic