Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

The Ending of Large ROM Sites Should Garner A Different Response

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With the recent fall of some major rom sites, and others pulling their own hosted files offline as a response, I’ve seen a somewhat trending reaction from the community that concerns me.  My peers are avidly going out and downloading entire collections of games and files from these sites to have on hand should we see the fall of the easy to access rom site.  Not only do I feel this will never happen, but this response is flawed and wrong.  The response you should be having is to start looking into ways to back up your own games.  It’s relatively cheap, free if you don’t need to backup carts, and it will allow you to never worry about losing another game again whether it’s damaged, stolen, or subject to the rare chip/disc rot.  Oh yeah, and it’s also not illegal.

A Little Background

Just under a month ago, web site Torrent Freak reported that Nintendo sued loveroms.com and loveRETRO.co over having open access to copyrighted material.  For those not familiar, Torrent Freak refers to itself as “a publication dedicated to bringing the latest news about copyright, privacy, and everything related to filesharing.”  The web sites in question were owned by an individual, Jacob Mathias, who ran his own Arizona-based LLC that focused on these file sharing sites.  Those who work in rom sites specifically tend to not carry certain games and files specifically for fear that something like this would happen.  While I’d never been on the site myself, the fact that these sites had direct download links to a myriad of roms (files that represent a cartridge based video game) that included Nintendo’s prime catalog is a big mistake.  The one or two sites I used to frequent would pull down specific roms that were re-released such as Virtual Console games and more recently the “Classic Edition” line of Nintendo’s library.  This other site also would pull down any game that the publisher had requested, so if you went to most Capcom titles there would be a note that the game was removed due to the publisher’s request.  Finally that other site would not host BIOS files, which are proprietary software in certain consoles that are required to get certain emulators working, which it was revealed Mathias’ sites also hosted.  Put all of these factors together and these sites had massive bulls-eyes on them for just this kind of response.  Nintendo even makes it a point in the suit to call it out, “The LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites are among the most open and notorious online hubs for pirated video games.”

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Written by Fred Rojas

August 13, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Blog

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We Happy Few Impressions – Should You Get It?

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We Happy Few releases today after more than 3 years in development and 2 years on early access.  Now PC, PS4, and Xbox One players can play through a fresh new campaign that builds upon the original mechanics.  Assuming you haven’t played We Happy Few or only recall initial early access impressions like this one I previously did, or if you’ve even watched an early video like another I did, this video wraps up what you can expect in the first 8 hours in a mere 8 1/2 minutes.

Written by Fred Rojas

August 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Videos

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The Council Episode 3: Ripples Review

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If you have not read our review containing the previous episodes, it’s highly recommended as it’s not only referenced, but we may not discuss many of the mechanics present in previous episodes.  This was to prevent redundant comments and move directly into the changes in the current episode.  Eventually the link above will serve as the location for all episode reviews.  This review contains no spoilers.

The Council_20180727233902

In many ways I consider the third episode of a five episode series to be the moment of truth.  It seems episodic titles are doomed to have weaker second episodes because of the natural arc of plot and character development, but typically you get a twist and/or climax in the third episode that redeems everything.  While The Council definitely follows this formula, it was disappointing to see that while the story takes some drastic new turns, what you actually play is the same old song and dance.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but it surely wasn’t yet another trip through the mansion followed by a huge dump of exposition and concluding in a long obtuse puzzle…again.  Regardless of those expectations, that’s exactly what I received, which has me weary of future episodes and frankly a bored in the current one.  I didn’t even play this episode a second time, there seemed to be no need.  If you’re not fully invested in the overall season before going into this episode, it’s probably best you stay away for now.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

God of War is a Modern Masterpiece, and it Broke Me

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God of War came out in April to unanimous praise, and for good reason.  Whether you are a veteran of the series or coming into it the first time, this installment skates the line of accessibility to keep everyone happy.  Not only does this title cater to a much wider audience, but it’s a visual stunner with razor sharp graphics and particle effects abound to really sell you on this magical world.  Although some complained of frame rate issues, I felt that the game held up smoothly in most cases and hiccups never reared their ugly heads during an important battle.  Those who have invested in the premium PS4 Pro system are also handsomely rewarded with a great HDR implementation that further enhanced the gorgeous visuals with bright colors along with realistic lighting that shades the darkest pits and blinds in the brightest lights.  The Pro also allows you to run in either performance mode, which tries to maintain 1080p at 60 frames per second, or a resolution mode that accepts the 30 fps frame rate and gets as close to native 4K as it can while allowing Guerilla’s custom checkerboarding from Horizon Zero Dawn to get the rest of the way.  Regardless of which mode you pick, the more important factor is that you get to pick at all.  Finally this title is a massive open world that allows you to explore as much or as little as you like while also providing a 20+ hour campaign story that takes the franchise in a new direction and adds much needed character development to our favorite Spartan Kratos.  Yep, God of War has it all and should be heralded as a culmination of some of the best parts of contemporary gaming all wrapped into one single Playstation exclusive.  Unfortunately, it also managed to break me down and ruin the experience.

It’s Not A Bad Game In Any Sense

Don’t get me wrong, if you own a Playstation 4 and have even a passing interest in this title, you should definitely give it a try.  While I found Kat Bailey’s points in her piece to be justified, I think she had the most critical view on the game to date despite much of her recent article being praise.  Most people that I talk to delved a bit into the optional content here and there but focused on the main campaign, leaving much of the content I gripe about in this piece to never be played.  There are those of us, the completionists, that can suffer a different fate with God of War: bitter contempt.  This game’s attempts to extend the experience or challenge me felt misguided and exemplifies my issue with modern games.  I put over 100 hours into Fallout 3 and I have completed plenty of “Nintendo hard” games, but none of those titles made me a feel a fraction of the disgust that I felt here.  It bothered me so much that it even ruined my appreciation for the ending.  Fear not, I will not spoil even one moment of this game’s campaign, but I can warn that I will discuss some of the extra content you can embark on and thus can be considered a spoiler.  In the end it’s made me weary of my experience with God of War and even moreso with the types of games that Sony is currently churning out.  With that I have to concede that I don’t think these games should be changed and I think they will continue to sell like crazy as we’ve seen with God of War and Horizon, so my concerns are only for my personal game playing choices.  Enough dancing around it, let’s get right into the areas I had problems with.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm

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Screen Splitters: Episode 2

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Note: Screen Splitters Episode One was also Co-Operative Episode Two and incorrectly branded as that.  You can find it here.

Show Notes

Intro Track: Credits – Soleil/Crusader of Centy

02:04

E3 catch up

Me10dys E3 thoughts

Co-op games from E3

15:46

Unravel Two general discussion

36:22

Life is Strange – Me10dys thoughts and discussion (NO SPOILERS)

44:20

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (Contains Plot Spoilers)

59:28

BIG News

Closing Track: Credits – Unravel

Written by jamalais

July 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

We Are Changing and Here’s What You Can Expect

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Gaming History 101 was purchased by Fred in October of 2011 with the dream of a comprehensive blog that looked back at the history of gaming, but also remained cognoscente of the present and future gaming could provide.  He always knew that that as time went on the discussion would change, the context of history would be affected, and the longer we created content the more surgical these topics would have to be.  He didn’t count on a teenager squatting all of the social media accounts and YouTube, lesson learned, but overall that dream has remained consistent.

Fred had been podcasting since April of 2004 and although he was a regular co-host on The B-Team, eventually the decision was made to start podcasting on retro topics.  This was mostly stemmed  by the ending of Retronauts along with the entire 1UP empire.  As is often the case, less than a year after the establishment of the Gaming History 101 podcast, Retronauts returned albeit transformed.  After several discussions with then regular guests and co-hosts, Fred decided to keep the podcast going and run in tangent despite having no true press credentials and none of the access that Retronauts and other competitors had.  The audience grew and there was a ton of interest, amassing an amazing 50,000+ subscribers and download numbers that in some months neared half a million.  Things were looking up, the podcast was stronger than ever, and in March of 2014 – after several guest appearances – Jamalais (Jam) joined the podcast as a permanent co-host to the show.  That episode also happened to be a Gaming History X where we took a good long look at modern gaming with a retro perspective.

In the short four years since our highest point, things have changed drastically.  Retro video games became a mainstream topic, the niche became the cliche, and now there are literally hundreds of podcasts doing this same thing.  Granted, some offer great content, but for a lot of them it’s all nostalgia hits to attempt to cash in on the trend.  In addition Fred’s career and family life have begun to tap into his ability to create shows and Jam has gotten married, moved around, and is now on a completely different schedule than before.  Not only that, but after 375 episodes, the topics are thinning slightly and while there’s plenty to talk about, Fred and Jam are nearing the apex of their expertise on certain topics and/or games.  The community has also thinned, but from what we can tell from feedback this is more based on people growing up or having similar life changes and less on the podcast topics themselves.  With all of this change afoot, it’s finally time to switch gears and change what Gaming History 101 means.  Don’t fret, we aren’t going anywhere.

This web site was founded on the concept of a multimedia blog where endless topics could be discussed and the media of each post would be defined by the topic.  That meant that some topics are better suited for text, photos, videos, audio, livestreams, podcasts, etc.  It all depends on the topic at hand.  With the boom of the podcast, that direction changed and this web site became more of a haven for side projects and boost to the already thriving podcast.  We became a podcast first and a blog second.  After much discussion, it’s time to return to the beginning, it’s time to become a blog again. The slogan for this site is, “Know Your Roots” and it’s high time we took that seriously.  We know some of you may not like this change and others may very well be excited by it, but this is the new form of Gaming History 101 as decided by its staff.  Hopefully all of you will stay around, join our Discord for community engagement, and enjoy the content we provide.  As always you can send requests, comments, questions, and complaints to contact@gaminghistory101.com.  Fred and Jam have prepared personal statements for everyone, which you can read below.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 11, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

Gaming Tech 101: Getting The Best Out Of Your Console

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Fred gives a run down of all of the cables, video signals, and ways to get the best signal out of each and every console in a roughly 90 minute podcast.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

Unravel Two Review

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At E3 2015 a shy developer named Martin Sahlin walked onto the Electronic Arts (EA) stage and announced his passion project Unravel, developed by Coldwood Interactive. This would be the first game to be part of the “EA Originals” program, where EA helps fund small independent game projects and allows the developer to keep all the profits (after repaying the funding and also publishing/marketing budgets). Despite how you personally feel about EA as a company this is proof that sometimes there is heart even in a big corporation like EA. While the internet would take note of the developers nerves and fragile presentation for the time it felt real and it was clear Unravel meant a lot to Sahlin. In all honesty I would struggle to talk in front of a large audience even if it was about something you loved.

Unravel was a cute, puzzle-based platformer where you play a character made out of wire and yarn. The game had beautiful music that moved me in ways that I rarely experience in games. I guess it was made even more unique and special to me because the reception for Unravel wasn’t favourable across the board. My partner loved watching me play Unravel too. I loved Unravel so much that in preparation for my wedding in 2017, I decided to make 112 Yarny dolls myself in accordance with the number of guests attending (another game inspired decorations but that’s a tale for another day). We knew a sequel was on the way, EA had reported it had been successful, and the developers were already at work on it. My partner and I would theorize what the sequel would be like, with the biggest wish on the list being the inclusion of local co-op; this seemed to be the best evolution of the series. E3 2018 rolls around, Unravel Two gets announced, and both my wife and I leaped for joy. Then we leaped a second time because it was revealed the game was available on the day of announcement and includes co-op. I was so eager to purchase the game I refreshed the Xbox One store page six times as well as switching the console on and off again twice just so I could purchase and download it. I rarely get this excited for a game on launch.

Its taken me a while to get to the actual review of Unravel Two, but I felt the above paragraph was important as it discloses how much the original game meant to me and additionally how difficult it was to write the following review.

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Written by jamalais

July 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

GHX Ep. 30: The Tale of Two Chases

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E3 2018 has come and gone, but that doesn’t stop us from still talking about it.  Joining as guests are Chase (Learned From Gaming) and Chase (Scarcasm Live) alongside Trees and Fred to chat about the ups and downs of gaming’s hottest US-based convention.  There’s a lot of bunny trail discussion, but it’s all in good fun.


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Gaming History X, podcast

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E3 2018: Nintendo Direct Presentation

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Coming in last, but not least, is Nintendo’s direct.  Jam, Andy, and Fred discuss this positive, game-heavy presentation that focused largely on Smash Bros.


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm