Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Cross Talk: Nintendo Has Completely Lost Touch With Retail, Black Friday Proves This

with one comment

This sign was in several store windows on Black Friday in the KC metro.

This sign was in several store windows on Black Friday in the KC metro.

Nintendo is on somewhat of a rebound this year.  After putting the Wii U to bed both with a lack of releases and acting as if the console didn’t exist after the fall, Nintendo came out with the announcement of the Switch – its newest console slated for a March 2017 release – and a long Direct that detailed several other projects to release until then.  Of those products one of the bigger announcements was a Black Friday only limited edition 3DS in both black and white colors that would be available at all major retailers for the low price of only $100.  For those who haven’t pulled the trigger on the New 3DS but still want one and all those parents still glaring at the then $200 price point of the portable, this was a godsend.  $100 is that sweet spot for many families in the gaming world where an item becomes a potential Christmas present.  The fact that it would be so widely available and that the smiling faces of Nintendo as a whole indicated anyone who wanted one could have it this holiday season was great news.  For most, however, it’s become a freaking nightmare.  Why?  Nintendo issued so little stock of these items that they sold out in minutes across the country on Black Friday and for most retailers I asked in the Kansas City metro, has become the bane of both customers and retail employees this holiday season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

November 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

Tagged with ,

The Big PS4 Pro Analysis Post

with 2 comments

ps4_pro

Despite being a retro enthusiast, I’m also a massive tech fan as my side project has suggested. As such I recently picked up a Playstation 4 Pro and ran it thoroughly through its paces.  I tested most things I could think of: different games, different hard drives, different TVs (yes, 1080p and 4K HDR), and I kept my launch PS4 to compare with everything.  With that in mind, I think we should open with getting the simple decision out of the way for those that apply, because a majority of this post is about changes and upgrades for existing owners – which Sony is hesitant to admit is the true target for the Pro.  If you do not own a Playstation 4 and want to purchase one this holiday season, the decision is really up to you.  A slim is a rock solid purchase for anyone who doesn’t own a 4K TV (and possibly even for those that do) and it’s completely serviceable.  I was pleased with my vanilla PS4.  If you want to upgrade to Pro you simply need to consider how much that $100 is of value to you for potential future proofing (although Sony has vehemently sworn to not allow Pro exclusive games), the prospect of better performance with VR, support for 4K and HDR, and games can run/look better if support is added.  Games press likes to pretend this is a no-brainer, but frankly $100 is almost two games (possibly 3 around the holiday season) and if you don’t plan on upgrading to 4K or VR, there’s little reason to pick the Pro if saving money or getting more games is your priority.  I’d also like to interject that articles comparing the Xbox One S and Playstation 4 Pro are completely without value.  I have both and they should not be compared.  The Xbox One S upscales to 4K (but at no visual difference to games), adds HDR (and I have yet to see anything too impressive), and supports 4K Blu Ray, so in truth it’s an Xbox One that adds 4K Blu Ray support and HDR.  The Pro is a hardware boost that makes games either run faster or look better (or both), improves resolution beyond 1080p before upscaling to 4K (more on that later), and adds a much more substantial HDR in games that have supported it.  Astoundingly, however, the PS4 Pro does not support 4K Blu Ray movie playback.   For that reason it’s not apples to apples, that comes next year with Scorpio.  It’s also a weird time for PC gaming because not only is HDR almost devoid of this conversation on PC (4K PC monitors don’t currently support HDR), but I feel important factors for myself like surround sound and even quality of the port are a consistent issue on PC whereas this is much less the case on current consoles.  With all that in mind, here’s my analysis of the Playstation 4 Pro.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

November 15, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Blog, PS4

Tagged with , , , ,

The Horror Obscura 2016: Part 2

leave a comment »

rise_of_nightmares_header

Rise Of Nightmares

The Xbox Kinect 1.0. Yes I’m talking about Microsoft’s first attempt at motion controls on the fantastic Xbox 360 console. The device actually sold pretty well to begin with people seemed to buy into Microsoft’s marketing for the device for about 5 minutes and then people left it on the side lines only to pull it out from the dusty corner of the living room when a new entry in the Dance Central series released. Then Kinect 2.0 happened and no one cared, so the real horror here is Kinect’s failure to capture an audience. Of course you’d have seen the title and you know that’s not what we’re here to talk about. No horror fans, today we are going to talk about the reason I kinda wanted to buy a Kinect for the Xbox 360 in the first place a little Sega title called Rise of Nightmares.

Rise of Nightmares to me is House of the Dead for the Kinect. Now I know that’s an incredibly bold statement to make since the House of the Dead series is just light gun zombie shooting bliss and Rise of Nightmares, well its a Kinect game and that just makes people just groan generally. We’re gamers right? we don’t like standing up and flailing our arms around we like to sit on sofa and be lazy. Unless of course your like Fred and you stand up to play games anyway in which case buy this game and enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jamalais

October 24, 2016 at 11:00 am

Horror Obscura 2016: Intro and Part One

leave a comment »

Introduction

max_payne_horror

Back by popular demand the Horror Obscura returns for another series of terror. This year, as well as discussing some horror titles you may not have heard of, I also wanted to revisit some games which are not necessarily considered horror but have horror elements portrayed in them really well. I’ve always been quite the fan of horror. When I was 5 years old one of my parents made the big mistake of allowing me to watch Stephen King’s It. Pro Parenting tip: Don’t let a 5 year old watch It they will think Tim Curry is terrifying, Home Alone 2 to me is terrifying with his inclusion (full disclosure I’m currently not a parent). Regardless of this experience I always held a kind of fascination with horror and think deep down we all sort of do. Whether its watching a scary film, playing a scary game or doing something scary like falling in love. Okay, I know this is a gaming blog not a life lesson but I feel we all sort of find horror even if its in media that doesn’t contain a monster as my first entry of the Horror Obscura 2016 will begin with.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jamalais

October 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

Dissecting Nintendo’s Famicom Classic Edition (Mini) Differences

with 9 comments

famicom_mini

This week, Nintendo announced the Eastern component to the NES Classic Edition (or NES Mini) that most of us knew were coming.  Nintendo did allow some hands on time and offer new information on the NES Classic that will probably apply to the Famicom Classic as well, so check that link above if you haven’t already.  The delightful Famicom Mini is officially called the “Family Computer Classic Edition” and it appears to be quite similar to the Western version save for the obvious aesthetic difference, but also with some details and games.  Like the NES Classic Edition it will contain 30 games, it does not accept cartridges, and it will retail for ¥5980 (which at time of writing is literally $59.80).  Those of you already hoping to import should expect international shipping to be approximately $20-$30 depending on the speed of shipment and retailer.  I’ve already checked and no one currently has it on pre-order, although some bigger import sites do have pages for it, but I suspect it will not have a supply problem as the price point for these consoles suggests it needs to sell a large quantity.

Now there are some notable differences that you should be aware of.  Of course the games will all be the Japanese counterpart and contain the Japanese versions, but the universal HDMI out means that any HDTV worldwide should easily support either console.  On the other hand the USB power supply is not included in the Family Computer Classic Edition and can be purchased for ¥1000 ($10) if needed.  Those picking up both versions can most likely use the included NES Classic Edition cable and it’s probably the common micro-USB plug type.  Also the Famicom Mini, like the original Famicom, has two controllers wired directly into the console and are not removable.  As for games, 8 titles are unique to each region, so 22 of these titles are on both consoles.  Here’s a quick list of those and you can expect a video of these region specific titles coming soon.

Read the rest of this entry »

I Have to Accept That I Don’t Like Dishonored

with one comment

dishonored_logo

Sometimes a game comes along that is almost universally loved.  People sing its praises, the critics all give it good scores, you’re called a “troll” if you don’t like it, and the gaming world refuses to accept any other opinion.  As with all games, there will be an inevitable minority that don’t like the game, for whatever reason, and it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself in this predicament.  In my case, it’s with Dishonored.  Arkane Studios gorgeous 2012 first person stealth title about a man named Corvo rescuing a girl named Emily was beloved across the board.  Garnering a 90 percent Metacritic and just about the same score across most of the major US and European publications gave little reason to not think this was a masterpiece.  It would go on to win several Game of the Year awards as well as industry awards and had the sales to back up the hype.  There’s no reason not to play Dishonored, no matter what game you’re into.  Except for me.  I am consistently infuriated by this game and it sucks that I don’t like it. I want to like this game, I should like this game, but I just don’t.  Here’s my story as to just how hard I tried to convince myself that I should like this title.  It is not a review.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

July 26, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , ,

Cross Talk: What You Should Know About Pokemon Go

leave a comment »

Cross Talk is a blog that Fred writes that appears at the same time on both Gaming History 101 and The B-Team Podcast.

pokemon_go_logo

Unless you’ve been under a rock, it’s hard to ignore the presence of a game called Pokemon Go that released about a week ago to most mobile devices (July 6, 2016 in Australia and the United States).  Those of you in Europe and Asia, don’t fret, it’ll be out in your neck of the woods hopefully by next week unless you’ve figured out the way to bypass iOS or Android region locks.  If you’ve ever played a Pokemon game, then you basically know what to expect.  The game uses your GPS and your phone camera to embed Pokemon in the real world, AR (augmented reality) style, and then have you go chase after them and capture them in your poke balls.  You can level them up, keep collecting, and of course battle them.  I cannot stress enough how ridiculously addicting and fun this is.  Much like we have seen with other crazes, this transcends “gamers” and moves into the universal world of all mobile users as potential (and eager) customers.  Pokemon Go manages to merge the popular concepts of Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, and even Tinder into one universal, easily used for free, app that has gotten it wide attention from games press and mainstream press.  It also resulted in a surge in Nintendo (and other) stocks adding a reported $7.5 billion in net value yesterday.  So it’s an essentially free social app – there are microtransactions but they can be easily avoided – that makes companies a ton of money and is a blast to play?  Too good to be true, right?  Yep, it totally is.

Now I’m going to go on record right now and say the point of this piece is to inform, nothing more.  If you’re going to let a lowly retro blogger decide whether or not to put an app on your phone, you’re going to have trouble with your security.  I’m merely pointing out what has been brought up as a point of concern and inform my readers of the potential ups and downs of this game.  It is up to you whether or not you want in, but at least you’ll be prepared for the decision.  If it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of downloading a simple app, you should probably read on.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

July 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , , ,

Fantastic Indie Gaming Shorts (All Free)

leave a comment »

When you think of video game movies there are probably a glut of mostly bad films that come to mind.  Whether or not you like the big budget stuff, there’s no denying that the secret best work is done in the independent scene, for free.  My favorite three examples can be found below and each are short and worth watching instead of me writing about them.  Hopefully you enjoy them as much as I did.  And yes, I’m aware the free indie film Pixels was turned into the high budget divisive film of the same name.

Player Two by Zachary Antell (This suggestion was submitted by community member Blake aka JediSlurpee)

Pixels by Patrick Jean

Portal: No Escape by Dan Trachtenberg

Written by Fred Rojas

June 19, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog, Videos

Wonder Boy the Dragons Trap Remake in the works

leave a comment »

wonder_boy_dragons_trap_remake

I’m a little late to the party reporting on this announcement but I thought it warranted discussion.

People: we are currently living in great times in gaming.  Not only are we getting a spiritual successor to the Wonder Boy series in the form of Monster Boy being developed by German developer FDG entertainment, but we are also getting a remake of what some may consider the best entry in the Wonder Boy series, Wonder Boy III: The Dragons Trap from French developer Lizardcube. Of course the remake has removed the “III” to eliminate confusion. The Wonder Boy chronology is incredibly confusing for gamers and is a topic I will be addressing very soon on the site. The reveal trailer so far of The Dragons Trap showcases some beautiful artwork as well as some actual gameplay which appears to closely resemble the feel of the original game. In fact there were scenes I noticed in this game that appeared the same as the original just with the updated graphics. The simple 2D gameplay remains intact. The Dragons Trap also allows you to transform into various animals like a dragon, a mouse, a Lion as well as several others. Surprisingly I saw no human form of Wonder Boy in the trailer.

the_dragons_trap_remake_1

I think what makes me happiest about The Dragons Trap and Monster Boy is both games are being developed independently without the use of crowd funding. It’s almost as if developers read my open letter to Sega. Both games also seem to be in very good hands looking to develop a product that is faithful to the original series. My only critique is the games do look dangerously similar as both feature animal transformations. However, if the developers are as passionate as they say they are then I’m still on board. Monster Boy really is a new tale entirely whereas The Dragons Trap appears to mirror the infamous Master System/Game Gear game.

Original Wonderboy III: The Dragon's Trap on Master System

Original Wonderboy III: The Dragon’s Trap on Master System

I really can’t stretch how giddy I am that The Dragons Trap and Monster Boy are coming out. I’ve been waiting for a sequel to the Wonder Boy series for years and now we’re spoiled with two. I’ll buy both these games day one possibly on multiple systems (especially if they’re handheld versions) and cover them on the site. But hey, if any other developers want to jump in any release another game then I’ll buy that too – some name suggestions include Wonder Otter and Monster Planet.

Written by jamalais

June 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , ,

Let’s Talk About Game Length

leave a comment »

zelda_cart_clock

When I was younger and talked to friends about games I was often asked the question that would come up regularly, “how long is it?” If I followed up, “well, not that long bu…” I would usually have lost their interest and they would dismiss the game entirely despite me possibly recommending the game whole heartily. In this article I wanted to explore the topic of game length and give some personal thoughts.

As I’ve grown older I went through a few phases with my perception of game length. When I was very young without a care in the world and I messed around on the Amstrad and the Mega Drive, I didn’t care diddly squat about game length. I was small and just happy to mess around with this fascinating medium. To quote Dylan Moran from a a episode of the hilarious Black Books TV show, “He looks surprised, all children look surprised, the world is new to them.” This was absolutely me as a youngster everything just amazed me. I wasn’t allowed to play games for extensive lengths of time because my dad did accounts on the Amstrad computer and I was interested in other things like rocks and bugs. When I did game I didn’t care about length, I didn’t care about completing the game I was just having fun. I rarely would finish a game because I was young and pretty dumb, this probably pleased my parents as it meant that they didn’t have to buy a whole lot of new games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jamalais

May 31, 2016 at 11:00 am