Your mobile phone
has the same computing power
of a PC from the late 1980s. After all, it can play music
, take photos
, record and play back video
, and all sorts of neat things.
Unfortunately, it also has the power to resurrect the past - the dark days of the early 1990s computing that are best left forgotten. I'm talking about MIDI and terrible games.
But... MIDI is brilliant! With my wavetable card, I used to...
Yes, I know. MIDI has many uses, and being able to plug in equipment and make music is a good thing. But think back to passport.mid and canyon.mid, those two dreadful songs included with Windows 3.1? They're back, thanks to the custom ringtone craze.
It's impossible to watch a music station without seeing at least three ads for ringtones. Walk through any city and you'll be bombarded with horrible, ugly, sickening bastardizations of popular songs, with louder tones trying to replace the lyrics.
These MIDI renditions are nothing new. Awful MIDI versions of popular songs have been passed around on sound collection CDs, BBSes and teh intarweb since time immemorial. We all downloaded them, played them, cringed at the horrendous choice of instruments and then deleted them. But now that Tasha Slappa and her mates all want the newest Lamarr track for their Nokias, MIDI versions of songs are not only popular, they're big business. That rendition of A-ha's Take on me that you scoffed at in 1993 could fetch 50p if you were advertising it on MTV Base.
If this abomination of a game didn't make you physically sick, please send a $10 donation to the author at...
So, in addition to the terrible music, mobile phones have given John Q. Fuckface abysmal 2D games. It all started with Snake. Yes, Snake. QBasic Snake, that game you used to reprogram in high school to print rude words when you died? That'll cost you money if you want the full version for your new Nokia 6230.
Terrible movie licences are back. Slap a big title onto a shoddy platform game and charge people £5 for it. Arcade games you viewed through rose-tinted lenses are back, and made even worse than you remembered thanks to the iffy controls of a phone keypad and blurry LCD screen. Throw in some casino games, unplayable sports games and you could well be sitting reading an catalogue of shareware from 1994.
Again, the general public seems to be lapping it up. The N-Gage tried to redress the balance by giving us bad PSOne games, but failed as either a phone or a game system.
To a hardened, relatively old school geek, this revival of shit is like receiving a link to the Hamster Dance in your email. It's like your favourite underground band hitting the big time after several years, and all your friends raving about what an awesome new group they are. It is, however, in keeping with the current retro craze of repacking your past and selling it back to you, enabling new generations to enjoy stuff the rest of us got sick of years ago.
Now to set canyon.mid as my ringtone. With the piles of old MIDIs on my computers, I'm sitting on a potential ringtone empire.