Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Podcast: How Rude

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This week Fred and Jam talk about toilet humor in video games and eventually overall comedy in games.  There is an announcement at the end, so be sure to stay tuned all the way up to the conclusion.


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Written by Fred Rojas

December 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

Unearthing Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Now on PC

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2003 was a fascinating time for video games.  Playstation 2, Gamecube, and Xbox were all capable of running most third party games, the main differentiation being your platform of choice.  As a result, developers were getting more liberal with the offering of releases and it would be easy for certain titles to fall through the cracks, which is exactly what happened to Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy.  Despite being highly praised by enthusiast media, sales barely touched over half a million units across all platforms, which is a failure by any account. Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was in impressive company – Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time just to name a few.  There were other greats that were criminally underappreciated such as Beyond Good & Evil telling me it was just a rough time to be an unknown franchise. Fast forward to 2017 where thanks to the embrace of HD remasters and the strength of a digital publishing platform, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is being given a new lease on life for the PC.  While I wasn’t sure how the adventure would hold up today, I was impressed with stunning new visuals and an unexpected time capsule of what game design was like two generations ago.

If you’ve never touched it before, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a linear adventure where two protagonists explore dungeons, one fighting and one puzzle solving.  You’ll probably hear it compared to Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker by both contemporaries and reviews at the time.  I disagree personally and fall back on this title being compared due to incidental parallels and the fact that the two released within six months of one another.  The same thing happened when Prototype and inFamous were released around the same time, so unrelated titles sometimes get lumped together for better or worse. I won’t disregard the similarities: delving into dungeons, solving puzzles, and even the lack of voice acting instead of text, but some fundamentals of this title differ heavily from Nintendo’s franchise. For starters, you get to control the camera with the right stick allowing for a flexibility that was much more cumbersome in Zelda titles. Since the camera is free form there is also the removal of “Z-targeting” or the ability to lock on to a character you fight.  As a result the combat is loose and can be frustrating in the 3D environment, but I was able to easily tolerate it in Sands of Time and the same holds true here.  There are also two protagonists, one that can’t fight and instead solves puzzles (Tutenkhamen aka “The Cursed Mummy”), and one who is more of a fighter than a thinker (the demigod Sphinx).  The separation of gameplay in levels may be divisive, but at least you know what each section of the game expects from you.  Finally this game is linear progression as opposed to the massive open world of Wind Waker.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm

GHX Ep 20: Bunny Trail Chase

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This week Fred and Trees are joined by Chase from Learned from Gaming to talk about video game parenting, gaming traditions, and making old games look their best.  There are some technical issues and the group go off on many random tangents, but the conversation flows like wine.


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Written by Fred Rojas

December 1, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: The History of Visceral Games (aka EA Redwood)

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This week Fred and Jam discuss the surprisingly large library of games developed by Visceral Games, formerly EA Redwood.  Recently closed in the production of an unnamed Star Wars title, the studio was responsible for far more than the handful of titles everyone knows.


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Written by Fred Rojas

November 13, 2017 at 11:00 am

GHX Ep 19: A Wild Strip Mahjong Appears

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This week we are hurting as technical issues continue to plague our show (mostly edited out), Trees gets injured and can’t make the show, Jam needs sleep at some point, and our guest has to cancel.  Fortunately Strip Mahjong joins at the last minute and what results is an amusing and thought-provoking discussion.  Topics include whether or not gaming is for kids anymore and a love letter to Microsoft’s recent efforts followed by lightning round, Splatoon 2, Mutant Football League, and of course “Just Stop!”


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Written by Fred Rojas

November 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Wolfenstein

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This week features a massive three hours dedicated largely to the Wolfenstein franchise.  Most are probably aware of the more recent shooters and the 90s game from id, but there’s a lot more to tell about this somewhat underappreciated series.  Fred and Jam start with the original title on the Apple II and move all the way to the upcoming sequel this Friday.  Segment 2 is all about community questions and segment 3 wraps things up with some neo-retro gaming from both hosts.


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GHX Ep. 18: Technical Disaster

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This week Fred and Trees return with a new format, but the same great content.  Main topics include games that we return to and Fred’s lack of loot box thrills, followed by 5 of the community’s “lightening round” topics, and then getting to know your hosts.  Don’t think we forgot “Just Stop” because it’s there too.


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Written by Fred Rojas

October 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Psycho Break

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This week Fred and Jam finally reunite to get back to what they do best: talk old games.  There’s a brief intro, a new schedule for podcasts, and a slightly new format (don’t worry, topics are still the first section), but otherwise it’s back to basics.  In preparation for this week’s sequel, they are discussing The Evil Within, or Psycho Break as it’s known in Japan.  The incredible art design, sordid plot, and hodgepodge gameplay are all put under a microscope, as is the game’s origins.  After that it’s some discussions on community feedback and what the boys have been up to over the last month.


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Written by Fred Rojas

October 10, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Mini Console Craze and Why It Can’t Really Work Moving Forward

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Last week Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Classic Edition, aka the “SNES mini,” to the masses.  The launch went well and most people who either pre-ordered or who went out early on the morning of release were able to successfully get their hands on a console.  For those that didn’t, there’s still hope as Nintendo has now promised to keep producing them until the supply has met up with demand.  This comes on the coattails of the debacle that was the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition (NES mini), which last year was nearly impossible for consumers to find on store shelves but countless quantities were available on eBay with a considerable markup.  This has caused both consumers and business to prove, yet again, that they understand nothing of the true demand that fueled these particular consoles and why their interest and value will drop considerably once they are available on store shelves.  Not only does the mainstream not get it, but clearly video game web sites – who should know better – continue fueling the fire by making waste of text articles about their hopes and dreams for future iterations.

Let me come out and say it: there’s little hope for more “mini” consoles in the future, especially if you want anything from the 32-bit era on and anything that used a CD-ROM or larger for its games.  Here’s why.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Top Scores, Volume 5

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Another year come and gone, a hiatus on the outs, and a co-host is now a husband.  Man, a lot has happened this year.  Oh, and we got a whole bunch of great video game tunes to share with you.  Come, relax, and enjoy over 2 and a half hours of our community’s favorite cuts.


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Track List (in order of appearance):

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm