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Video Game Purists Ep 62: Gutter Rebels

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This week opens with some talk of upcoming releases. Yes, there are games starting to come out! Then Trees is having more home improvement fun while Fred is back to outdoor theaters and animated series. On the games front, both Trees and Fred are having a blast with Rayman Legends. Trees jumped on game pass to get back into Rory McIlroy’s PGA 14 and is watching all kinds of Mii insanity on Switch with Miitomo. Fred is on his 3rd round of Resident Evil Village demos and also played the E3 demo of the unreleased Dreamcast title Castlevania: Resurrection.

Written by Fred Rojas

May 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

Video Game Purists Episode 61: SMH

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This week Trees is in the gutter while Fred is playing musical theaters trying to see Mortal Kombat. There is a relatively spoiler free discussion, but we also warn you if you want to avoid the 15 or so minutes it’s discussed. Then it’s onto the games front where Trees describes the beautiful and fun worlds of Yoshi’s Crafted World and Rayman Legends. The conversation shifts due to a listener question to the state of Sony’s first party titles, including the cancellation of Days Gone 2 and the remake of The Last of Us. It all wraps with Fred having a blast in VR and struggling to find the fun in Watch Dogs 2.

Written by Fred Rojas

April 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

Capacitors and Retro Game Consoles

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When it comes to old video game consoles, there’s no shortage of things that can go wrong.  I’ve spoken on Twitter and in podcasts many times of my issues with optical (CD/DVD) drives and my obsession with getting flash media replacements in the form of Optical Drive Emulators (ODEs).  That’s just one thing that can go wrong though, it has nothing to do with all the usually dependable parts that can go bad.  I’ve had power and reset buttons stop working, controller ports malfunction (certain buttons stop working or no power altogether), power supplies fail, cartridge ports malfunction, and of course the frailty of capacitors.  One of the biggest ticking time bombs of certain retro consoles can be a simple and inexpensive part called a capacitor.  Keep in mind that capacitor replacement, often called re-capping, is not the golden answer and it comes with a fair share of caveats.  In this post I’m going to dig into what a capacitor is, why it’s important to consoles, what consoles are most affected, and of course share some resources should you want to do additional research for yourself.  This is high level explanation for interest and the supplemental links are for those more knowledgeable than me who can explain it in more depth.

What is a Capacitor?

A quick electronics lesson here, but trying to keep it relatively non-technical and also because I’m no expert.  Capacitors are basically storage tanks for energy, in our case electricity.  They allow a steady current to flow through them, but they retain a charge so that if a current is interrupted briefly a consistent flow of electricity remains, and then they refill once the current returns.  Capacitors can be essential in circuit boards to maintain consistent voltage especially when using AC power.  As I understand it, Alternating Current (AC) power has what are called “inductive loads” that can lag the voltage behind the current, and most game consoles take in an AC current from wall outlets.  Granted, many of these consoles have Direct Current (DC) power adaptors, which I’m not completely sure of how that adjusts, but a capacitor basically allows for voltage consistency when dealing with inductive loads.  In game consoles we have a lot of power traveling across the board and capacitors make sure all the parts of the console continue to work despite the inconsistency of power.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 23, 2021 at 11:00 am

The Return of Blog

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This site is probably best remembered as having started a podcast that delights with almost 500 episodes on a vast majority of the mainstream topics that exist in the retro gaming world. In truth, however, this site started as a blog and was intended to be a location of various types of information as my interest was piqued. If you sort the site chronologically you’ll find all kinds of articles about all kinds of subjects and actually does start to look like a 101 on the history of video games. You don’t have to go back if you don’t want to, but it’s there nonetheless.

As time moved on the podcast became my core focus because it simply had the largest audience participation. There’s nothing that makes an informative or entertaining project feel valued than hearing from the people who engage with it. The shift to the podcast did come with its fair share of setbacks because audio is not ideal for all topics. There are just things, like instructions, technical breakdowns, even guides and reviews, that don’t lend themselves to audio well. Frankly, they’re just boring to listen to – which is why I never went into more than a few episodes of Tech 101. There’s also the fact that with video streaming services, such as Twitch and YouTube, the video medium seemed a better fit for the topics and information provided by our podcast. This is all my personal opinion, which I’m fully aware of, but it keeps me from giving my all to the project. I’ve spoken to quite a few people about this, but if you’ve ever done a project you share, you have to do it for yourself first and share it with the world second. I wasn’t fully invested in the podcast and I didn’t have the time for a video series. As engagement slowed down, scheduling got harder, technical difficulties more common, the downfall of any project becomes apparent quickly.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to get involved in more projects. I’ve always loved the process of researching items, exploring them, and then explaining my findings. What I don’t have is time or resources. Creating a podcast, especially with one or two co-hosts, is a lot of collaboration on top of post-processing if you want high quality. You’re talking at least 3+ hours a week of dedicated work if the show is 60-90 minutes on top of living life. A video is like 10 times that dedication. Not only that, but there are a lot of people out there who are trying to make a living doing this, so you’re now a hobbyist competing with professionals whether you like it or not. Experience has taught me that no one seems to notice, or care, that you don’t have ads in your videos and the audience is quick to destroy every square inch of your work because they were in a bad mood that morning. Even when it is constructive criticism, and you ask questions to help improve the work, you get ghosted. When you spend 30 hours making a 7 minute video that you are proud of, let alone a 45 minute documentary, and someone blasts you over single fact or comment, it hurts. Then a big site like IGN or Digital Foundry makes a video identical to yours but some full time paid employee got to make it as their weekly project and you just want to give up. That’s where I’m at: I want to give up on both podcasting and video making in relation to retro gaming. I know that may not be what some of you want to hear, but it also probably surprises no one.

The written word, however, is cheap, quick, and can be replicated. I can consistently deliver written works that take a relatively small amount of time to produce, can deliver the same content (often more concisely than my audio/video pieces), and can keep up with my ever-changing interests on a daily basis. As such I’m going to kick the blog portion of this site back into high gear and hopefully find something redeeming for myself that will eventually translate into something worthwhile for you readers. The traffic to this site is scant, probably 100 hits a day, and I bet half of it is the newest episode of Video Game Purists and the other half is my guides on games like Majora’s Mask. Still, I want to investigate, research, and share my findings and opinions, which will happen whether someone is reading it or not. The world is cyclical and it’s only natural that in a time where I can spare maybe 30-60 minutes a day to something, a blog be the best source. The topics will be varied as will each reader’s interest in what I share, but ideally there will be a daily post about something I find interesting that I would like to share. I also intend to do larger pieces that can take several hours to produce, which will just stay holding in the chamber until they are completed and properly edited. I have a journalism degree, I studied the written word professionally, it stands to reason I return to it as a hobby.

 

Cheers,
Fred

Written by Fred Rojas

March 22, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

Video Game Purists Ep 37: $10,000 Week

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This week there’s a lot of random talk about birthdays, Atari Jaguar’s library, and Fred “$10,000 week” splurge.  Once they finally get down to games Trees gave a shot to Metal Wolf Chaos XD, went deeper into Genshin Impact, and returned to Jurassic World Evolution.  Fred on the other hand is keeping with horror as he struggles through The Evil Within 2, realizes some retro classics don’t hold up with The 7th Guest, and finds surprising fun with Slayaway Camp: Butcher’s Cut.  It all wraps with a much appreciated listener mail.

Opening Song: Facehammer by Ozzed (ozzed.net)

Closing Song: Metal Fighter from Metal Wolf Chaos XD

Written by Fred Rojas

October 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

Retro RGB Fully Reviewed the Mega SD (Flash Cart with Sega CD ISO Support) – All Your Questions Answered

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When you deal with the retro community there can be an overbearing attention to detail that is discouraging to many.  From time to time a product comes out that just works because the creators took the time to do it right and it appears Terra Onion, the makers behind the Mega SD, have done just that.  Previously the company made the Super SSD3, a flash cart with CD game support and RGB output for the PC-Engine and Turbografx-16, and now they’re back again with one of the most requested flash cart features of all time: Sega CD game support.  This device can plug into any Sega Genesis (Gen) or Mega Drive (MD) and play Gen/MD, Master System (SMS), and Sega CD (SCD) titles right out of the box.  If you have a 32X you can also play those titles with this flash cart, assuming it’s attached (but you’ll have to remove the 32X when you want to play SCD or SMS titles).  The only downfall is a separate adapter will be required if you want to play the 6 32X CD titles, all of which have Sega CD versions as well (so you aren’t losing any library without it).

A product like this, like all flash cart solutions, comes with a price tag and the approx. $260 (€230) plus shipping may be discouraging for some.  The excellent video from Bob at Retro RGB should assist with informing you on whether or not this is right for you.  He goes into the problems with SCD actual hardware, the quality of the Mega SD in practice, the robust feature set, and why you may or may not want this item.  It’s only touched on, but Bob makes a point to mention that voltage is correct so none of the fears of damaging flash carts trying to do too much and that sound playback was tested and approved by FireBrandX.  He is one of the leading authorities on audio playback in the retro scene and he designed the audio fix chip that I put  in my SSD3 to correct issues with that product.  Rest assured his approval means you’re safe from a quality and playback perspective.  Anyway, Bob has done a great job and it’s an interesting watch regardless.  Enjoy!

Written by Fred Rojas

June 21, 2019 at 11:00 am

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Nintendo’s Recent Annoucements In Regards to Retro

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Let’s face it, Nintendo has had a pretty crazy 2019 so far.  Whether you are a fan or not, it’s hard to ignore how much has changed in less than 8 weeks into the new year and despite what you may think a large portion of the topics are retro.  I figured it was high time to discuss them.  Let’s break down what’s been announced and the retro take on these changes.

NES and SNES Classic Editions Going Away

Okay, I know, this one came at the end of last year (announcement on Dec. 14th, implementation and shipments on Dec. 22), but one of the biggest changes this year is the phasing out of the NES and SNES Classic Editions.  It was inevitable Nintendo would stop production on these items and once they were readily available the well for demand dried up very quickly.  I’m so on the fence about the mini console craze because it’s clear that all of these items have had corners cut to a certain extent and I’m not convinced most people actually play these things.  On the other hand, the mini things look so cool when you get them into your hands and thanks to hackers you can easily side load any games you want into them so they are much more versatile.  I think of them now as emulation boxes that have the one thing other emulation solutions – like RetroArch on computers or RetroPie on Raspberry Pis – don’t have: they’re easy to make and operate.  As a person who loves tech and is intrigued by a challenge, it’s aggravating that today emulation requires a lot of knowledge and time to set up.  I get it, these are complex emulators that need complex setup, but that doesn’t help the mainstream.  I’ve already heard from several of you that it’s just so much easier to buy one of these consoles and do the dead easy process of hacking in the roms you want.  Lets also not forget that specifically the SNES Classic Edition contains Star Fox 2 in the only official release ever to come out as well as games that contain special chips like the Super FX and SA-1 that don’t work with a majority of flash carts on the market.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 22, 2019 at 3:00 pm

I’m Done With Mainstream Games Press and Here’s Why

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The first time I engaged with video game media was in the first issue of Nintendo Power back in 1988.  Granted, it was really just a subscription I paid $20 for to get a free copy of Dragon Warrior.  Back then they were filled with screenshots, reader discussions, and just about anything else you’d expect of a web site nowadays only we didn’t have the Internet yet.  It was also run by Nintendo, so the messaging was far from unbiased.  As time went on I would get more balanced reporting from the likes of Electronic Gaming Monthly and DieHard GameFan although many would be right to point out some questionable behavior at these outlets as well.  Eventually games coverage went online and with it came a whole new era of interaction along with the problems that plague the online transition even today.  A problem started eating away at me, perhaps due to my getting older, but regardless of the source I started taking issue trusting the mainstream games media.  That finally came full circle yesterday when I straight up decided I could no longer deal with what is childish, pedantic behavior from a group of individuals who would rather point fingers at each other than try to fix these issues as a team.  You know, the Internet.

What This Piece Is and What Caused It

Anytime you see pieces like this, they are vague and flooded with links that apparently convey a point but ultimately start to look like those yarn patterns detectives use in movies to find a killer.  i’m trying to avoid this, mostly because I don’t think that large issues like this are as complicated as some people would like to believe, but I provide links so you can do the research yourself.  If a situation requires a story that is too long, you start to lose focus on the core issue.  Any parent will tell you that sitting down with two kids to figure out what happened in a fight knows this to be true.  Games media has been in this state for a decade now and I’ve had it.  Let the children have their playground, I’m not interested in hanging around anymore.  For the record, “children” in this case refers to everyone involved in both sides of this discourse regarding trust in games media and has nothing to do with age.  This piece is attempting to be a clear, concise reasoning for why I reject games media in its modern form and to start a discussion here about everyone else’s thoughts.  I’ve edited this piece many times to get it here.  I do suspect, however, that few of you will respond or have a strong opinion.  This is not a challenge by any means, if I want something I’ll ask for it, but rather a concession that many of you don’t care anymore.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 7, 2019 at 12:00 pm

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

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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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