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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

Let’s Build A Raspberry Pi/RetroPie (Part 1): Building and Installing

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Description from the video on YouTube:

In this video Fred, who has no experience with a Raspberry Pi, tries to set up a RetroPie on the fly. Within the 60 mins of this video he is able to build it, hook it up, and get roms playing. Sorry for the sound sync issues at the end. Not sure what happened. Part 2 will come soon that is all about setting up the customization for a RetroPie.

Links:
RetroPie: https://retropie.org.uk/
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B at Micro Center: http://www.microcenter.com/product/461129/3_Model_B
Accessories Kit purchased on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Raspberry-Pi-3-Model-B-Retropie-Game-Console-Accessories-with-Gamepad-/192273501334
Accessories Kit Referenced on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073VDNR6X/sr=8-3/qid=1505505595

***Please feel free to shop wherever you want for your hardware, I get no kickbacks from these links or any other shopping site. Just giving people the links to where I shopped.***

Written by Fred Rojas

September 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm

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Opinion: My Love/Hate With Nintendo Continues

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I got a press release this morning, like early this morning, from Nintendo.  It wasn’t that long, but still too long for this piece, so I’ll lightly extract the important parts.  “Due to incredible demand for the upcoming…Super NES Classic Edition system, Nintendo plans to ship the retro-inspired product into 2018.”  Oh, it gets better.  The press release then goes on in the third paragraph to say, “Next summer, Nintendo will also bring back the…NES Classic Edition system with new shipments.”  I’ve already had some celebratory readers, all of which I believe were unable to snag either console to date, reach out and basically say, “we did it.”  I’d like to believe these decisions have to do with our combined outcry or even the handful of petitions available to sign online, and either way these efforts have now seen results.  With this news comes new questions, concerns, and potential futures, but for now lets just sip our coffee with a smile on our face.  While the NES Classic and SNES Classic may be the focal point of my intro, I’m taking all of Nintendo to task with both the great and terrible moves it has made in the past few years.

Why The Nintendo Hate?

This shortage of consoles is nothing new.  I think I’ve been waiting for Nintendo products to come in stock for at least 30 of my 35 years on this earth.  In 1987, I was 5, I got an NES for Christmas and wanted to go pick up two games I’d read about in the Nintendo Fun Club newsletter: Castlevania and Mega Man.  You see, my birthday is on January 6 so when I would get a new console or portable for Christmas I could usually purchase a game or two immediately following.  In January of 1988 it was impossible to get those games, but I can’t tell you whether it was the apparent chip shortage that would plague the holidays in late 1988 or some other factor.  This continued with Super Mario Bros. 3 being stealth launched in Summer 1990, frantic shenanigans to get my hands on an N64 (and Mario 64 because the two weren’t always available together) in September of 1996, then similar problems with the GameCube in 2001, and I camped in front of a Best Buy in November 2006 to get a Wii.  This doesn’t even account for the waiting for several first party games, terrible customer service on servicing consoles, woes with portables, and so on.  I’ve been waiting for Nintendo my entire life and I’ve allowed no other company to treat me this way while still getting my money.  To try to make sense of it is an exercise in futility.

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Written by Fred Rojas

September 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Learning from the Past: The Arcades

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We live in a great time to be a gamer. The quality and quantity of games available is at an all-time high. We can even hop on our systems and play against people in our living rooms or halfway around the world.

This holds even more true for retro gamers. It is getting easier to gain access to older games, whether through the internet, local stores that focus on retro gaming or services like Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Older PC games are making a comeback as well, with Blizzard releasing StarCraft Broodwar for free and services like Good Old Games (gog.com) optimizing the settings for programs like DOSbox so gamers don’t have to fight with it.

There is one experience, however, that will probably never be the same as it was back in the hey days of the 80s and early 90s: the local arcade.

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Written by azrockslide

June 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

Blog: E3 2017 Reflections and the State of Video Game Coverage

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The circus is over, the massive booths have been torn down, and apparently the BET Fan Fest is taking over the L.A. Convention Center this weekend.  E3 2017 was an odd one, not only because the “public” was there – given how many friends and family of industry people regularly show at E3 it’s a bit of a stretch to not put scare quotes around public – but because the industry itself is in a state of flux.  We saw record numbers of attendees, approximately 78,000 compared to the roughly 55,000 we typically see, and with the inclusion of the public came astronomical lines and big ugly neon green lanyards that basically said “avoid me.”  At the same time there was rampant coverage of the show from so many angles instead of a set group of major web sites who are all friends with each other and the public relations reps they meet with that overall cast a much more positive light on E3.  Listening to coverage from Polygon, IGN, and Giant Bomb it was clear that the media hadn’t changed its tune, mostly dogging on a majority of what was shown, but what shocked me most was the take on the public presence.  It was also a turn for the convention as a whole given that the ESA (the entity behind E3) now has to adjust the way the whole show is handled and I think we’ll see the emergence of a large public show to rival GamesCom in Europe or Tokyo Game Show in Japan.  As a person who went with the “pleb pass” (public pass) instead of applying for a media pass, which I’m fairly certain I would have gotten, the whole show confused me.  I’ll come out and say it: I don’t understand where video game media coverage is at right now.  Despite this fact, I have some thoughts on the key topics from E3 2017.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 22, 2017 at 11:00 am

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E3 2017: The Big Pictures Post

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Fair Warning: A bunch of thumbnail photos are about to load.  Clicking on a photo will give you the full resolution picture.   If you are ready: click “read more” below.

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Written by Fred Rojas

June 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

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E3 2017: Press Conference Impressions Update

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We decided to take down the Press Conference Impressions episodes from the main feed as they were not reflective of quality you’ve come to expect from GH101.  We did keep them archived, however, and they can be found at: https://gaminghistory101.com/e3-2017-bad

Please be sure to catch our better E3 2017 recordings as they are what you’ve come to expect from the show.  Cheers.

 

Written by Fred Rojas

June 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm

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Opinion: Gamers Don’t Want A “Netflix of Video Games”

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Earlier this week, Xbox Director of Programming Larry Hryb (aka Major Nelson) announced that the Xbox Game Pass was coming this Spring.  For a fee of $10 per month, Xbox One owners (at first) will gain access to 100 games that they can download and play.  Much like the Netflix model, the games are a rotating selection that can change each month, and they will vary from Xbox One titles and backward compatible Xbox 360 titles.  Those in the preview program have alpha access to about 20 games ranging from titles like Halo 5: GuardiansMad Max, and Payday 2 on the Xbox One as well as 360 titles like Fable IIITekken Tag Tournament 2, and Lego Batman.  This is the next step towards video games being much more like movies in that you can pay a flat rate and have access to a selection of titles and it takes those efforts one step further by allowing downloading to avoid the many troubles that streaming games currently has.  There’s just one big problem: I don’t think gamers really want it.

It’s not just the Xbox Play Pass that gamers don’t want.  We also don’t want Playstation Now, which is getting downsized at this moment to only support PC and PS4, but before that gamers didn’t really want Gaikai, OnLive, GameTap, or even the illustrious Sega Channel.  I think this is more because it not only goes against the culture of what video games have always been, but it completely ignores the fact that a large portion of gamers play online with specific games.  Personally I think this is a great idea for the non-hardcore gamer or even a house with gamer kids because it provides a steady stream of titles, some new for the month and some returning, that you can enjoy without the fear of returning a game, trading it in, or even your parents having to budget for it.  If you play console or PC video games in 2017 you do not have a budgetary constraint for $10/mo, period.  As a child my mother made me a deal to get the Sega Channel – I was of the lucky markets in the Chicago suburbs to gain access to the service – and for $15/mo I had 50 Genesis games in steady rotation that I could always play in return for the fact that I wouldn’t be buying new games.  Maybe I would have grown tired of this model, but for the year or so I had the Sega Channel this totally worked for my 12-year-old self.  As adult gamers, I don’t see this being popular at all because all adults like the freedom to choose what they do and gamers in particular are a finicky bunch dead set on keeping up with the zeitgeist.  I assure you that the current month’s, or even year’s, best releases will never be a part of the selection.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

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Perspective of a Retro Gamer: Resident Evil 7

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This series is basically a review of a modern game but with the context of a retro gamer visiting the present.  As such it does not contain a review score and often speaks to concepts and franchises from the past.  This article is spoiler free outside of what is revealed in trailers and public demos, which is why the screen shots are so vague.

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Resident Evil has had a rocky journey over the last five years, up to and including the “Beginning Hour” demo for this very title.  The comparison to P.T., Hideo Kojima’s “playable trailer” for Silent Hills that has since been canceled by Konami, is unmistakable.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t want my Silent Hill getting mixed into my Resident Evil, the two should remain mutually exclusive.  Couple that with the recent missteps of Resident Evil 6, my personal distaste for Revelations 2, and whatever goal Umbrella Corps. had, it wasn’t looking good.  I for one was also a bit worried about the hodgepodge of features thrown at this title including support for 4K resolution, PS4 Pro support, Playstation VR support, and HDR support on all platforms.  To my shock and awe, every bad indicator going into the release was without merit as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard demonstrates a return to form I have not felt since the remake of the original on GameCube in 2002.

resident_evil_7_eerieSet in an old farm house in Louisiana, you play as main protagonist Ethan in search of your girlfriend Mia, who went missing years ago.  Those that played through the “Beginning Hour” demo, especially if you caught the final “midnight edition” will find the opening scenes to be familiar but clearly re-engineered.  I like this touch and I feel it was necessary for how many times Capcom made us play that thing in hopes to figuring out what was with the dummy finger and several other mysteries from the last six months.  While it’s interesting to play through – not to mention the reward you receive for completing it with the good ending and the on-edge “kitchen” demo on Playstation VR – none of this is required if you’re just jumping into the main game.  It reminds me why I’ve always appreciated the original work Capcom did on the Resident Evil series.  Whether it was “arrange mode” in the original, the way the mansion was reworked in the remake, or even the drastic differences between the shack in the demo and the main game of Resident Evil 7, you won’t be able to guess what’s coming.  After that opening sequence you will descend into a literal house of horrors and beyond that kept me on the edge of my seat and thoroughly creeped out for a majority of the game’s 8-12 hour campaign.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm

I Never Thought I’d Say This: GameStop is Good for the Retro Gamer Market

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Conker_money

This article is NOT a paid advertisement of any kind and we are receiving NOTHING from GameStop.  It is an opinion piece.  If you do not like GameStop or have vowed not to shop there, please do not take this as an encouragement to change your mind, screw ’em.  It’s merely an article about how the author has found some good prices there lately.

yoshis_island_screenshot_3The title says it all.  As of late prices on retro games and consoles have skyrocketed.  It’s not just trends, either, because the modern day releases have just as adverse an effect on the hot titles of yesteryear as the fact that the Super Nintendo generation is now entering its 30s.  Couple that with the fact that the market has started to dry up with collecting and hoarding – and I assure you I’m criticizing neither –  that retro retailers are raising prices left and right.  These shop owners track price charting, eBay, Amazon, and retro sites to keep up with a market in constant flux and are the first to put a premium on whatever item may come to pass.  This is what they are supposed to do and I commend it because without these shop owners staying in business, the market for carts will diminish significantly.  Then there’s GameStop, the powerhouse used video game chain that will buy all your games for pennies on the dollar and sell them back to you for ten times what they gave you.  It’s easy to hate GameStop, but their reach and pool for grabbing used titles is unrivaled and as of late the non-collector gamer in me has been continually impressed by the retro selection.  In short, if you’re looking for a game to play and you’re not that worried about condition, GameStop is often the best deal in town.  Not only that, but currently if you spend over $25, you get free shipping, and all games are covered by a brief warranty to assure the game works when you get it.  This is significant because GameStop often has multiple copies of a game so they can swap out non-working titles for you, whereas most sellers online only have one copy of the game and even if they will refund your money, you still have to hunt for another good deal.  These factors are why I’m actually digging buying retro from GameStop.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

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