Imagine you're at a funeral. The deceased's worst enemy turns up to pay his respects, falls down the stairs and breaks a leg. As his yelps of agony echo around the room, the corpse shoots bolt upright from the coffin, points a finger and screams "LOL!" before reclining once more. Silence.
Farewell then, UK Resistance. Such was the end of a unique site which puttered to a halt 15 years after its debut, and was tempted back out for one last pop at the PlayStation Network debacle.
From its beginnings in 1996, UKR was a Sega den. It was also less surreal than in later years, offering more in the way of news and reviews.
"In those days you could actually find really interesting things by just trawling through Sega Japan's web site," recalls Gary Cutlack, the site's co-founder and main writer.
But over time, UKR shifted towards more unusual content. "As the big sites raised their games and obliterated the amateurs, there wasn't any point in trying to compete with them by being 'proper'."
Themes emerged: excoriating Sony, the Dreamcast's fall, wondering about the motives of photographers, picking out truly abysmal games (and in some cases calling for the execution of their developers), watching Gizmondo implode, campaigning for blue skies in games and a constant drip of Sega tat – the more banal the better.
What exactly was on UKR? The kind of stuff you're not interested in until you know it exists. Whatever happened to Andy Crane? Or What are Yuji Naka's five favourite Manics albums?
Then there were old Sega adverts from Viz, the single most amazing Sega collectible ever, pics of Richard Jacques looking buff in a t-shirt (and the lowdown on what he thought of Oasis). Sometimes, it was mere prophecy and prediction.
The games industry is a small world. Surely Cutlack, a tech and video games journalist for various outlets, has put more than a few backs up?
"The only proper troubles I can remember are Dorian Bloch of Chart-Track complaining that I published sales data and somehow implied he was a Nazi," says the villain.
"And those girl gamers, Versus or something like that, who got one of their boyfriends to phone my then-boss and threaten police action because of a comment about them being found dead in a ditch. The line, "What if someone read that and took it seriously?" was used.
"Oh, and the ill-advised update about "systematically murdering the makers of the 50 Cent game" which was supposed to be ironic in some way, but, I was informed by management, actually might have been considered an incitement to murder."
With all that in mind it may seem bizarre that Shiny Media, an online startup with bags of cash, chose to buy UK Resistance outright from Cutlack (along with sister site Idiot Toys) back in 2007. Perhaps Shiny was encouraged by the fact UKR won the prize for Best Non-Commercial Site at the inaugural Games Media Awards that same year.
There may have been a clue in the trophy's title. UKR was never going to make a million. But nor could it solely be blamed for Shiny's subsequent haemorrhaging of cash or the company's bankruptcy by July 2009. Luckily, Cutlack had made a deal to take back ownership after a year.
He has already published his account of what went wrong. As you'd imagine, considering all the dosh, he's not bitter: "The only recurring annoyance about Shiny is that they had so much money and had such a big chance to do something. But didn't.
"I think they wanted me as a staff writer, and buying the sites were actually just a means to getting me in-house. That's how much money they were throwing about."
Since then, UKR gradually wound down – each update more knowingly lame than the last, the tone of the site remaining jolly even as it undeniably lost momentum.
"UKR is a decaying art-deco relic of a bygone optimistic era," says Cutlack. "Everyone's happy it exists and likes walking past it, but no one wants to pay to refurbish the chandeliers.
"It was about how Sega games were the best, but as that clearly hasn't been true for quite some time, it morphed into housing a poor collection of memorabilia and lazy updates about nothing."
Why Sega in the first place? "It was about Sega because Sega made Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter and Sonic and therefore made us endlessly happy. Now Sega makes Binary Domain and makes us very sad."
The wonder of the internet will, of course, preserve UKR's acid in aspic. It would be a stretch to get highfalutin' about the loss of updates. Particularly when Sony's recent calamities allowed special dispensation for that update from beyond the grave.
Cutlack says he couldn't resist that last dig but, barring perhaps a final update to seal the coffin, that's it for UKR. What goes with it is hard to quantify. The industry will barrel along as ever, its various giants tumbling into pothole after pothole, and there will always be someone else to shout from the sidelines.
But surely every gamer, regardless of affiliation or creed, hates The Man and has a little soft spot for Sega somewhere. Rose-tinted spectacles are a wonderful thing to watch the games industry's idiots and idiotic moments through.
There has never been another site quite like UKR. It straddled the extreme ends of the industry and fanboy spectrums, while seeing just how far an interest in Ulala upskirt shots could go. The world won't change now it's over. But when Outrun 3 finally appears, that blue sky might just look a little darker.
UK Resistance: The Hits Collection
"This is what happens when loads of men who work on an industrial estate all year get given a budget to attend a trade show." UKR was always amazing when it came to the booth babes, the favourite click-spinner on every low-rent website.
The captions to each photo in this story have the ring of truth that comes from experience. "Don't want to lift the camera up too much, or someone might think you're actually taking a photograph." We put it to Cutlack that he is that Very Shy Man (not literally), and he brazenly confessed.
"I am that man. Standing a bit too far away through fear of getting too close. The comfortable fantasy world would disintegrate in a second were she to make eye contact or ask if I would like a flyer. I'm probably not that man any more, though, as I've learned, at the age of 37, a few rudimentary social skills. And how to hide cameras better."
EA had this one coming. In the dark days of 2004 the Need for Speed series was ideas-poor as sales-poor, and one of the absolute worst turns it took was as a 'ghetto' racer.
This update utterly crushes one of the callowest brand extensions of our time. Suffice to say, "If you ain't don't be gettin dis you is a GAY innit!" If you did get it, it's never too late to add a digit to the NFS Underground 2 suicide pact.
Unusually, this is a sweet one - UKR's tour shows why Animal Crossing DS is best. With the enthusiasm of a kid swapping stickers, it goes through collection after collection and place after place before encapsulating what it is that makes this game special:
"Animal Crossing is just a simple little thing you have and do every day. It's like your kettle. It's not as exciting as your new LCD TV or your Sky+ box. It's simple, but you'd be f***ed without it."
UKR also provides a review under the GNU Free Documentation License to allow other websites to spread the word, AND patiently explains what score to give it for slower critics. Perhaps the classic UKR update – and certainly the most popular. See also: the best review of Ninja Gaiden Black ever.
Some things speak for themselves. But personally, I hope the next time Square Enix cracks out a twentysomething from Croydon and EVERY GAMING WEBSITE IN THE WORLD posts pictures of her doing a pose in short shorts, someone else takes this baton forward.
"She's a whole three course meal of lovely!"
'Do Me a Favour' by MCs Nick and Steve. This is real, and it is gold. Two guys won a competition run by Sega's distributors to record their rap about how much they love their Sega, and it was distributed with Mean Machines issue 2 on the Sega Megamix tape!
Here's a taster: "we got the Sega Master System in the house, yeah bwwwwoyyy" followed by the immortal line "check out your local dealer, not for drugs, but for Sega" – which, as one commenter sadly notes, is more relevant to the modern Sega fan than ever before.
Perhaps the biggest triumph in recent Sega history is not cocking up Outrun 2. By the time Sumo Digital's console conversions were ready, UKR was champing at the bit.
This is not the kind of thing every player notices. But some do: they were trained to expect idle animations. The Flag Man doesn't disappoint – after a star jump (which gives the opportunity for a sideswipe at the Times critic who gave it 1/5) he no less than MOONWALKS off-screen and back on.
"We imagine he's grabbing his groin. We certainly are."
Presented on UKR as 'that time everyone was in agreement', The Blue Sky in Games campaign posits that games took a wrong turn some way back.
It specifically took aim at Grand Theft Auto, scoring a few critical hits behind the surreal language: "We want to COLLECT BANANAS FROM MAGIC CASTLES not earn respect from fictional gang leaders! We want to stun enemies with BOUNCE ATTACKS, not shoot them in unrealistic and shoddy drive-bys!"
The Blue Sky in Games campaign always looked forlorn in the face of something like Saints Row. But it made you realise you weren't alone in wanting to heal up with a roast chicken rather than a syringe.
This is a question that can be rephrased any number of ways and still work. How is giving Paris Hilton a microphone going to help? How is giving Paris Hilton a book contract going to help?
Microsoft gave her an Xbox 360. UKR was on it like a bloodhound, and this update not only exposes the 360 'gift', but also digs up past evidence that Hilton is a serial console blagger and presents it under a title we couldn't possibly reproduce here. Best not click while at work, then.
With this one the devil's in the details – specifically, the text when you hover over the images.
After typing that I half expected a NAVY Seal team to burst through my window, pop a cap in my ass and give me a sea burial. But close-up Dreamcast logos do strange things to a man.
Sample sentence: "We have also censored their body parts just to be on the safe side."
This one's probably safe for work, although if people see they're likely to assume it's illicit.
Remember All I Want For Xmas is a PSP? Course you do! One of the crown jewels from a period of incredible Sony cock-ups, the concocted marketing blog showed the same feel for yoof culture that NFS Underground 2 had for the ghetto – and the best report on the whole thing was UKR's.
It doesn't take off from the stratosphere and rain fire: it lets selections from the site tell the story, and links a handy mirror at the bottom for when Sony took it down (as they soon did). Have a look, and always remember the time Sony's marketing team called gamers "noubs".
When the Headline Says it All: Best of the Rest
- Electronic Arts 'pwned' by us *again*
- Visiting a Gamesmaster (in Peckham)
- Frag Dolls: The Exclusive Review
- Who's Been Comedy-Editing Wikipedia?
- A Destroyed and Broken Booth Babe
- Victory in Europe! A Photographic Celebration of Playstation 3's Destruction in the PAL Regions
- High-Res Photos of the Sega Master System Converter II
- For the Love of God What is Wrong with People?
- We Bought 'Desperately Sexy Housewives' on PSP UMD purely for research purposes
- Sega Europe has a Flickr account
- A man's Sonic the Hedgehog tattoo
- Literally Unbelievable Sony PR Error.
- Wikipedia vandalism – Winners announced!
- Tomb Raider Model's Crotch Shot Shame