American Holiday

You'll have to excuse me if sense eludes me this week, but I'm suffering from jet lag. ECTS wore me out, but fortunately I had a ten day holiday to the USA planned. Although relaxation wasn't really on the agenda, it was a welcome break for my brain and my ailing thumb.

First stop was Washington DC for my best friend's wedding and some time with my cousins. No sooner were we inside my uncle's house than we were taken to behold a thing of wonder. This is the stuff of legend – a tricked out Xbox worthy of The Fast and The Furious. My cousin D went a special mission to New York to get his box ‘fixed' as it were. Apparently a 15 year old Asian kid does custom jobs from his bedroom somewhere in New York – that's all I know, so don't even ask.

The finished product has been transformed into a blue and silver vision, complete with a blue light where the nasty, green, plastic jewel previously sat. It looks cool. But of course the changes aren't purely cosmetic. This Xbox has been chipped, has a bigger hard drive, which allows him to download anything that takes his fancy and he does".frequently. He has emulators, special menus and the neighbors must be wondering what the strange blue glow is all about.

Once we had witnessed the wonder that is my cousin D's Xbox, we got drunk at the wedding and took in the monuments. DC has a lot of monuments, you name it, and it's got a monument. We did have meals, shopping expeditions and trips to the Exorcist steps, but I don't want to bore you with the column equivalent of my holiday slide show.

America is cleaner and bigger than the UK. Even your food is big. I didn't finish one portion of food the whole time I was there, apart from a hotdog we bought in New York (note to editor: We never did sample that dirty dog).

One of the highlights of our visit to DC was meeting up with the GiN gang. It was daylight and everything. They're not as pale as you might think, so I guess Nate doesn't keep them chained to their desks/consoles after all. (Publisher’s Note: Now that Ken is gone I only keep Hargosh locked up. Homeland Security made the request…what else could I do?)

Editor Breeden treated us all to lunch at the ESPN Zone – a true bit of Americana. I'm glad I wasn't hung-over because it truly is an assault on the senses. Our table top TV wasn't working, so we could actually converse and as expected we put the world to rights through deep, philosophical debate.

Oh and then we may have played a few games. Air hockey was a firm favorite – that's kind of physical and nobody could tell we were sad, game industry geeks taking a little time out in an arcade. Then we got in a spot of fishing on Sega Bass Fishing. Our good ole editor hauled in a few big guns, which may have inspired him to head for the river bank – you never know.

Our whistle stop tour of the east coast took us up to New York on the Greyhound. It had to be a Greyhound because all American adventures begin by getting on a Greyhound.

First impressions of New York? It's really is a case of bright lights, big city, oh and it's pretty smelly too. It's cleaner than London, but still manages to stink a whole lot worse.

We did all the things you're supposed to do in New York – museums, sights, China Town, eat food from all corners of the globe. We hustled and bustled, but also managed to chill out in the sun in Union Square.

You also have to shop in New York – KB and I are good at shopping and we did ourselves proud. Professional curiosity meant we had to a pay a visit to a couple of games shops – EB and Gamestop. We were hoping to pick up a few bargains in the US, but the pre-owned market doesn't seem to be as burgeoning as it is over here in the UK. We found year old games that were still going for a pretty price and just thought better of it. Although, KB managed to snag a copy of Super Monkey Ball 2 for GBA for $20, which kept him quiet.

I also managed to find a bargain in the shape of a US controller for my DC. I have a Japanese machine, but one of the triggers on my controller is broken, so I'm currently using a controller from the UK machine I have. See it works fine, but aesthetically it's just no good. The European DC has a blue swirl on the machine and controller, and the US/Japanese machines have an orange swirl, so you see my swirls didn't match. My UK controller had a blue swirl and the import controllers are hard to come by over here. But now I'm happy – yes, tragically I am preoccupied with things like this, but it's okay now because my swirls match.

On the whole, gaming in the States is much the same as in the UK, but you guys have less proper football games. But that's where we left gaming in the US and just enjoyed the rest of our holiday, which involved lots of eating, loads of walking and strangely, watching people play the most awesome hacky-sack ever!

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