Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
Recently in the UK news there was an article stating that a head teacher would report parents to the local authorities if they discovered any of the children in the school were playing mature rated games, citing that the parents would be accused of “neglect.” While I feel accusing parents of being neglectful is not entirely fair it does pose the question: just how mature are games these days? This article is going to cover my own experiences of mature rated games as I grew up and how I feel about the subject now. [Editor’s Note: Fred wrote an article in the past dissecting mature rated games in the US, that perspective is here.]
Depending on who you ask, perhaps pinball shouldn’t even be on this site. It’s not a video game at all and in truth the only thing pinball even has in common to video games is that they both tended to occupy one another in arcades, bowling alleys, bars, and various other popular locations of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. This doesn’t mean that you can’t appreciate both and thanks to some great physics engines and crafty programming games like Zen Pinball/Pinball FX and Pinball Arcade exist and do a nice job of bringing that thrill home. But it isn’t pinball. No friends, those of us who love pinball and played the games growing up would not consider T2 on Pinball Arcade to be the same as sitting in front of the cold steel original pinball machine with the gun handle for a launcher. At the same time a T2 pinball machine runs you around $2,000-$3,000 and that doesn’t even factor in getting to and into your place of residence, so the relatively cheap $10 price for the table on console is a better option for most of us. If you buy the actual pinball machine you’ll probably enjoy the game for less than six months before it needs service of some kind – assuming it was in perfect working order when you purchased it, which is almost never the case. Even if you have a pristine new Stern pinball machine that gets professionally set up, routine maintenance and cleaning is part of the role that any pinball owner has, whether it’s handled by the owner personally or they have a professional come out for routine service. That’s why pinball is a much larger investment than arcade machines: you have to know how to care for an afford to maintain it. Not only that, but the machines are specific so you can’t just drop a T2′s guts into a Funhouse machine without a lot of time, effort, and basically rebuilding it. All of these factors are why pinball emulation may be the best option for the average pinball enthusiast that’s ready to pony up that initial investment, but doesn’t want all the hassle of actually owning a pinball machine.
Yes, it finally happened, Jam got a SNES. A retro console he never thought he would actually own due to the kinda crazy prices the games sell for in the UK. He appears very happy with this and wants to dedicate this video to good friend Mr. SieOne who has been a huge support to GH101 and to all the content we have provided in the past.
This weekend, thousands gathered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to celebrate the Midwest Gaming Classic (MGC), the Midwest’s largest retro gaming show and I was lucky enough to attend. While the convention proper didn’t officially start until Saturday, Friday night was chock full of great activities and great people already eager to get a sneak peek at what MGC 2015 had to offer. I hadn’t been to MGC within the last few years due to my daughter being born and me moving out of the local area, and in that short time it has grown from a Convention that took over chunks of the Sheraton to completely taking over the hotel itself. There are perks to that, of which this article will discuss, and if you wanted to spend 48-72 surrounding yourself with games, gamers, and optional sleep, that was completely possible. It was a blast, complete with Gaming History 101 having its own panel, and whether we are invited back or not, GH101 will be at MGC 2016. Here’s an overview of just what the show had to offer and what you can expect where you to attend next year.
Video game pricing: this is a topic that sparks a lot of debate in the community. In this article I wanted to give you a brief history of video game prices in the UK while I was growing up and give my personal thoughts on the topic. Since this is quite a deep topic I’m only going to spend this article discussing new retail games. [Editor’s Note: This article uses prices in British Pounds (£). For reference, at time of writing £1 = $1.48]
I have been quite lucky to see the early days of video game pricing to what it has generally become today. Back in the eighties when I was a very young fellow I distinctly remember seeing ZX Spectrum games being sold for the nice low price of £2.99. This was very common with micro computers, but the ZX Spectrum by far had the cheapest and arguably the most shovel ware as a result. The Microcomputer and PC for that matter would always be cheapest place to get your retail game fix. This is of course back before the internet was even a thing, my family certainly didn’t even have the internet until the late nineties. What was commanding the high price points was the Sega Master System and Nintendo Entertainment system, games would sell between £29.99 to £49.99. Nintendo had quite the reputation for expensive pricing in the UK. What was quite interesting is the used game market wasn’t a big thing at retail at this stage. But you were able to purchase used games from market places or car boot sales along with a ton of bootleg copied Micro computer games. Once the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo rolled around I started seeing games rock up to prices as high as £59.99. Nintendo once again was the main villian for these prices. While this may sound rather high we just have to deal with it. This sort of pricing became a standard affair for me, hence why my brothers and I would probabaly only purchase just one or two new games a year.
I’ve been in a bit of a gaming rut. I keep trying to play, and enjoy, The Witcher 2 on PC and I just can’t seem to get it to work. My issues with that game are for another post, but rest assured I see the value of it as a pinnacle of modern RPG gaming and love the branching stories, but due to the complicated keyboard-to-joypad controls and complex battle system I can’t step away for long and come back. That’s not good for a person like me, who is frequently taking long pauses from games, not playing for long periods of time, and often having to play several retro games mixed into my sessions. As a father, husband, full time salaried employee (which means I’m working far more than 40 hours a week), and a guy trying to manage a retro gaming site that includes a blog, reviews, podcasts, and video, there’s not much time for modern games in long stints. Hell, if it weren’t for my partner-in-crime Jamalais, this site would not sustain at the level of quality and measure of content it has now. Oddly enough as I was trying to figure out what to do about my Witcher 2 situation and considered other games to migrate to, the most unusual title entered my periphery and made my weekend: Bloodborne.
We so very often recommend our listeners/viewers/readers get a foreign PSN because it’s so “easy”, but I figured with this morning’s news of Shadow Tower coming to the US PSN later today and the massive amount of games I purchase on the various PSN stores that it was high time to make it easy for you. Creating a PSN is not a difficult task, however it can be a challenge without knowing the language, written or otherwise, of the territory you seek and also knowing what you will and won’t gain from each. With the average Playstation 3 being able to tether up to 5 PSN accounts, I have chosen to dedicate one to my home base PSN, three to outside territories, and the final one to guests in my house. The best benefit of a PSN account on multiple consoles is that all accounts on that console can share installed games, so I purchase a game on my Japanese PSN only to use it on my American account for the sake of trophies and keeping my friends informed as to what I’m playing. Perhaps you don’t know how to create a PSN for another country or perhaps you don’t know the benefits, well this little article will assist you in making the proper decision.
Normally we focus on retro here at Gaming History 101, but I don’t think it’s ideal or responsible to ignore the present either. Despite the handful of modern reviews and the potential plan to re-introduce the Gaming History X podcast, I still think the strength of our site is to remain retro focused. I still get psyched waiting for E3, seeing the new hardware and software on the market, and reflecting on things to come. Right now is a weird time for console gaming. The PC trumps the consoles yet again but I feel this time around there was never a loss of momentum for the complicated pseudo console that has been the PC and from the time of the PS4 and XB1’s release that gap has only grown wider. Meanwhile Nintendo is this awkward dichotomy of complete control over the handheld market and a niche presence on consoles and some disturbing trends that are exploiting retro fans are emerging. When you suddenly see the cooperative gaming development, media, and zeitgeist all get together and remember the games of the past to provoke interest, those of us that never forgot may be tempted to get a bit elitist and a bit resentful. I personally took issue with the concepts of Gex suddenly entering the world of big press podcasts, the fact that IGN is desperately seeking to keep hold of its massive audience while juggling the departure of major talent and the lack of regular game releases of note, and don’t get me started on the people that just plain like to generate revenue on playing emulated games completely without context and making fart jokes over them. Then I realized I have no reason to care. Let everyone do what they want to do, besides I’ve always conceded that retro content is something to be shared and not competed against. Just as there will be indies who give content away for free to the enjoyment of all, there will also be businesses attempting to make a quick buck off of it. Since we here at Gaming History 101 have no ads, no income, and are not a business, we are in the unique position to have, literally, nothing to lose. With that in mind I would like to take our retro context and take a look at the state of gaming – consoles, PCs, handheld, mobile, and potentially VR – and give a quick oversight as we approach the 90 day mark to E3.
Here at GH101 we have a new experiment: give someone the task to grab us three games on a budget and we have to cover them over the next month. Today is Jam’s unboxing, tomorrow is Fred’s. Over the course of April, both of us are being tasked to cover these games as if they were selected content for the site. This can be podcasts of the series these games are a part of, playthrough footage, articles, or the obvious review approach, are all on the table. Stay tuned and enjoy Jam’s unboxing below.
Fresh on the cusp of Fred attending the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee, WI on April 11-12 (and having a panel), Jam is also attending a retro gaming convention across the pond in the UK, Play Blackpool. It will be at the beginning of May in Norbreck Castle in Blackpool and he even created a handy video to introduce it. Check it out and hit up Jam if you are planning to attend.