Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
It was 30 years (and one day) ago today that the video game Super Mario Bros. premiered on the Famicom (aka NES) console in Japan. We also got it over here in America the same year, but at the time the bookkeeping on release dates of games was quite poor. If you really want to learn the messed up system and why we cannot exactly pinpoint the release, please check out Frank Cifaldi’s amazing piece on the topic, but suffice to say the Nintendo official October 18, 1985 release date is suspect. Controversy over when the plumber exactly appeared is an academic’s interest at best because there’s no denying that since 1985 we now have a video game equivalent to Mickey Mouse. Even more interesting is that beyond being a marketing giant and notable face for the company Nintendo, Super Mario Bros. was neither the first appearance (or even the second) of the plumber, but it was the most important one starring him. In fact, I might even say it was the most significant video game in history.
I was contemplating whether to write a review for the recent port of Streets of Rage 2 on the 3DS but I kinda thought there’s little point. Most people reading this article will have played the game and know its great. Instead I wanted to write about the fun I had re-visiting the game and why I actually had no problem re-buying this game despite owning it on multiple systems and compilations. If you are someone that needs a score the game is 5 out of 5. Fred and I also talked extensively about the game on our Top Ten Mega Drive/Genesis games of all time, which I highly recommend checking out, you might be surprised what makes the cut.
In the past I have had quite strong opinions about emulation, going so far as to say I prefer not to use it. My basis was clear in the article, but to sum up I don’t like the screen tearing and framerate issues that often happen with emulation, I hate not using a console’s native controller and the potential of input lag, and of course my ongoing aggression toward piracy. Since I boldly declared my stance almost four years ago (yep, we celebrate our fourth anniversary in October), a lot has changed. First of all, many of our readers and listeners have brought to my attention circumstances involving distribution, bootleg, and socioeconomic factors that force them into utilizing emulation, which as a middle class American I don’t have much experience with. In addition, rarity has become a big reason why I see the value in emulation (or flash carts/burned discs on original hardware, which is the same thing to me). I don’t think that people who want to experience Snatcher, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Michigan: Report from Hell, and so many others should pay a random dude hundreds of dollars that the publishers and developers will never see for this “privilege.” Those transactions are for the collector, who wants the tangible item, but for the player I think access should be made available and if the business of games does not support this then skating the line of the law is a personal decision each player can make. Also my experience on Twitch lately has been hilarious because I tend to play on actual hardware and I appear to be one of the few, so my choice to avoid emulation is more of an old man theory than a crusade against piracy and authenticity.
I’m sick of hearing the phrase, “nothing is coming out,” in relation to video games. That’s not true, so many games are coming out on a consistent basis that we cannot even have a single day of the week they all release. What I feel most people mean is “there’s nothing coming out that interests me.” That’s a much more fair appraisal. Depending on your interests or tastes in games, this summer can either be chock full of great releases or a barren wasteland with nothing new to experience. Personally I am enjoying Batman Arkham Knight, Godzilla, looking forward to cracking the seal on Onechanbara Z2 Chaos, and of course the Mega Man Legacy Collection and Rare Replay retro efforts soon to hit. Aside from perhaps Batman, the rest of these games fall into a specific category that has grown a lot of steam lately: niche gaming. Niche gaming, much as the title suggests, caters to a dedicated but specific audience – not one unlike the audience here at GH101 I might add. It’s easy to scoff at niche titles, especially when you consider that they often have frequent sequels that don’t appear to iterate much. It’s good that these games exist because they are essential to keeping the experiences of gaming as a whole strong, not to mention they’ve been around as long as gaming has.
On the most recent episode of Retronauts (Vol. IV, Ep 43), the retro team had on a special guest who goes by the name Dr. Sparkle, the founder of the Chrontendo blog. Chrontendo videos are a project set on analyzing the Famicom/Nintendo Entertainment System in chronological order from the month of release in order to get some insight on game development, trends, and even development studios maturing over the course of the console. It’s known as “chrono gaming” and there are plenty who have attempted it and far fewer that have succeeded in these lasting projects for archival purposes. For better or worst, I have decided that I want to cover early CD consoles, starting with my favorite and dearest gaming console friend, the Sega CD. When you set out to cover a large number of games, especially in chronological order, there’s going to be a great degree of tedium and tempation to get lost in rabbit holes, that’s why I have decided to limit myself off the bat to the Sega CD. Unfortunately the list of releases and release dates are poorly documented, however Dr. Sparkle has provided me a thorough spreadsheet (no idea where he got some of this information, but a massive thanks to him) that I will use as a guide while I attempt to cover the entire Sega CD library in order. Most are probably content with this explanation, but for those of you like me who wonder how I plan to do it, what I’m going to use for capture, and the format, I have your answers in the following paragraphs.
This generation has become a bit of an anomaly. Instead of a throng of new intellectual properties (IP), fantastic sequels, and even downloadable titles we are inundated with re-hashes from the last generation. Don’t get me wrong, last generation was fantastic and I can’t say enough good things about it, but my fear is that we have lost our identity to the concept of the remake or remaster. Look at the release list of the Xbox One or the Playstation 4 and it’s clear that touch up work on games less than a decade old, some of them within the last few years, have become the norm. I can’t scan a news blog on a gaming site anymore without hearing about it. Video game consumers have become churn factories, now abandoning the old hardware at the same moment that the new hardware releases. I guess it was only a matter of time in an age where we upgrade nearly thousand dollar iPhones every year for a new model that barely bumps the specs of the old, but I hate that with those purchases comes the loss of the software they supported. It’s odd that the first generation to abandon backwards compatibility reveals the strong need to keep the feature, if only to prevent these re-releases from coming out at the rapid pace we are seeing. When I buy a new iPhone I still get to keep all the apps from before, so why are games insisting on being different? Then it dawned on me. We need these remakes and remasters because unlike apps, movies, books, and really any other medium, video games can consistently improve with age and games thought lost and abandoned can become new again. The problem is not that we are getting remakes, it’s the selection of remakes that we are getting.
Guys, lets face it, nostalgia is a bitch. I even wrote an article about this in the past, but beyond my casual forewarning, I would like to extend a realistic look at what is going on today in gaming. Some big fans are trying to re-write history with how much they love games that, in hindsight, weren’t all that good. You’ll notice that I said “how much they love games” and “in hindsight”, which I would like to break down. People who are massive unapologetic fans of fair-to-poor quality games should not be told they are wrong because they aren’t. Your opinion is your own and without even a discussion you have a right to it, not to mention those that can properly make an argument for why they love a game, but realize your opinion is shrouded in nostalgia or just a lack of basic sense.
This weekend I was allowed to see an advance screening of an upcoming summer movie. I did tweet what the film was prior to going to view it, but when I got there a very specific NDA (non-disclosure agreement) has me not wanting to give any more information. There still is a point to this post, I assure you. The thing about NDA’s, for example, is that they are vague and pretty much don’t want you talking about anything, but yet I often feel compelled to follow them provided certain circumstances. I was not brought in to see this movie because of this site or any affiliation, in fact I’m betting the production company doesn’t know or care that this post exists provided I leak no information on what I saw, including the title of the film or my opinion. I also want to point out that while this site does receive review copies of games from time to time, there is no connection between this film and games directly and thus there’s no fear of retaliation associated with my compliance. While quite rare on the Internet, I intend to respect the NDA because it’s the right thing to do. Rest assured I am writing the review while the film is fresh in my mind and it will release when I get the permission to do so.