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Unreleased Game: Saint’s Row Undercover

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Last week developer Volition, best known for the Saint’s Row franchise, discussed its canceled game on PSP Saint’s Row Undercover.  It started out as a PSP port of the second game in the series, but expanded into something more.  In addition, the company sat down with magazine Game Informer and turned a standard interview into a 4-part nearly hour long documentary on the company.  In addition, Volition released a 122 page PDF that is basically a design doc and walkthrough of the title.  With all of this amazing transparency, and the release of the prototype itself online, we just had to take a look.

I would love to give you a crazy video that details all of the wacky things you can do, but honestly the game lacks any true definition.  Now to be fair, it shouldn’t have any definition, it was a game the developer was prototyping for potential release and then was canned.  I take this moment and brief write-up to mention it only because people have asked me in the past why I haven’t covered Resident Evil 1.5 (ie: Resident Evil 2′s original version) and other unreleased demos/alphas/prototypes that have been set free on the Internet and it’s basically because not much is there.  The story, design docs, interviews, and concepts of what Resident Evil 4 or Saint’s Row Undercover could have been are fantastic and interesting, but what remains that can be played are shells of a game.  Anyway the links are there, have fun with it, personally I find it to be derivative of the Grand Theft Auto “Stories” games that came out on PSP, but then early on that’s all Saint’s Row was until it defined itself.  It also gives me an opportunity to cover Volition and Saint’s Row all week, so stay tuned for some wacky articles.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 1, 2016 at 3:00 pm

My Weekend With MicroProse’s 1997 Magic The Gathering Game

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I was an avid Magic: The Gathering fan since the day it released.  While I jumped in at the tail end of Unlimited, the first run of the game, my friends and I really jumped in at the Revised edition that combined a majority of the core Unlimited set and integrated the then two expansions Arabian Nights and Antiquities.  If you are a Magic: The Gathering first release player, the most intriguing, powerful, and expensive cards exist in the pre-Revised era.  This is why when Microprose released Magic: The Gathering game in April of 1997, which was based purely on the Unlimited set, my friends and I were ecstatic.  Couple that with the reduced price update, Spells of the Ancients, that added Arabian Nights and Antiquities in September 1997, we all had nostalgia for a game that was only about 4 years old.  I think the biggest factor is the what Magic: The Gathering is – a card-based game that lives and dies by the introduction of new sets and consistently selling cards to players – and the fact that these early power cards were super expensive and we all wanted a way to play with them, that I instantly migrated over.  Furthermore, it was the first true Magic: The Gathering video game (all other attempts were other types of games with M:TG skins) that gave you everything you wanted: deck construction, online play, tournaments, and even a pseudo-RPG called Shandalar.  It’s now available to play on modern systems, and free (provided you are willing to skate legalities), and I had a chance to jump back into one of my favorite high school PC games.  For those not familiar with Magic: The Gathering, the next portion of this article is a brief history and explanation of the game (not how to play), but if you’re familiar, feel free to skip to the game section that follows.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

Backward Compatibility on the Xbox One: How’s the List?

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It’s almost time.  That famed firmware coming November 12, 2015 to the Xbox One that not only brings NXE (New Xbox Experience/Windows 10) but also backward compatibility with Xbox 360 games.  Honestly many users will never use this feature, despite what Microsoft marketing has you believing.  Then again, this seems to be the first generation where many of my friends straight up sold off last gen’s console and entire library to help fund their newest purchase, so who knows.  Either way you will soon be able to play Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One, which will broaden the library of games you can play and hopefully see you returning to the classics that graced last generation.  Oh wait, there’s a catch.  You don’t get every game from the Xbox 360 and in fact you don’t even get 10 percent of every game released – digitally as well as at retail – but rather a list of exactly 104 titles available at launch.  If you didn’t see a long list of games you don’t intend to ever replay coming, then you probably don’t have much experience with how things like this work.  Now given how well the backward compatibility fared on the Xbox 360 for original Xbox (a good majority of the games were eventually playable in some form) we may very well see an impressive list spawn but for now there are only a strong handful of games worth boasting about.  They are all long games though so you could probably kill about six months trying to replay what will be available.  As of this morning the official list is out, I personally have been using the feature for almost six months, and the following article will tell you how it works, what to expect, and give my take on what games are worth utilizing this feature for.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

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The Little Plumber That Could

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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.

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Written by Fred Rojas

September 14, 2015 at 11:00 am

Streets Of Rage 3D – The Joys of Buying on Launch Day Again

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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.

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Written by jamalais

August 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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Metal Gear Solid 2 – The Misunderstood Entry in the Series

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Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is the entry into the series that a lot of gamers shudder when they look back on. In this article I’m going to discuss the negative reaction gamers have to this entry in the series and then cover why this game really is surprisingly great today even when held up against other entries in the series.

Just to warn anyone that wants to play the game and hasn’t this article will contain mild spoilers to the plot and direction of the game.

Even for the time this game was critically praised by almost every major gaming magazine but there was a few things that just didn’t sit well with gamers. Lets get the infamous one out the way and that is the character of Raiden. Yes, we all bought that glorified mech demo, Zone of the Enders just to be able play a demo of Metal Gear Solid 2 and replay as our gaming hero Solid Snake. We sunk £40 into this game in Europe ($60 in the US) and yet people lose there minds when Konami releases Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes for £20 ($30 in US) despite you paying for a game that you want to play, but I digress. When you finally got your mitts on the full retail game of Metal Gear Solid 2 – after spending another £40 ($60 in US) mind you, it’s okay Konami you just take my money – your grinning from ear to ear as you play through the game as Solid Snake, but that lasts for what seems like five minutes and then the game forces you to play the remaining ninety percent of the game as this feminine Raiden (insert Mortal Kombat intro music here) character. Raiden wasn’t cool, he was dorky, and lacked that testosterone rugidness we were used to from our main man Snake. Also he didn’t have any special abilities that featured lightening. So people were not too impressed by this, sure Snake was lingering in the background but it just wasn’t as cool as playing as the guy. It was the moment in Metal Gear history where fans thought Kojima had truly lost his mind.

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Written by jamalais

August 21, 2015 at 11:00 am

Stop What You’re Doing Right Now and Play Metal Gear Solid! (on Playstation because meh to the GameCube Remake)

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In honour of Metal Gear Solid season I wanted to kick off what I hope will be a new season of articles telling you by force to play certain games. Boy, do we have a good one to start with. Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation is most peoples first entry into the Metal Gear Solid series. However, if by some bizarre fluke this game has completely passed you by then here are some reasons why you need to drop what you are doing right now and go play this game. If you have already played the game then maybe this article will give you incentive to go revisit it again.

Before we begin this list may contain mild spoilers so if you haven’t already played the game and want to you may want to come back to this later. Also the opinions in this article do not represent the opinions of other writers for Gaming History 101.  With that out of the way, let’s get on with it!

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Written by jamalais

August 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

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Now I Love Emulation and Here’s Why

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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 SagaMichigan: 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.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 31, 2015 at 1:04 pm

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Genre Study: The Niche Game

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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 KnightGodzilla, 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.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Blog, Features

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So I’m Getting Into Chrono Gaming

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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.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 13, 2015 at 11:42 am

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