Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

The Ending of Large ROM Sites Should Garner A Different Response

with one comment

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.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

August 13, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , ,

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

leave a comment »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

July 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with ,

We Are Changing and Here’s What You Can Expect

with 3 comments

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

July 11, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

The Soulsborne Diaries, Part 3: Quitting Demon’s Souls

leave a comment »

Renouncement

After more than two months since my last entry, I admit I’m in a bit of a rut.  I don’t want to go back and play Demon’s Souls and I also don’t feel I’m getting any better.  As it stands I’m trapped in area 1-4 about 15 or so hours into the game and I have no desire to play it.  Yes, as my previous entries have stated, I’ve found the right items, I’ve discovered how to outwit (and even kill) the red dragon, and I have upgraded my equipment.  I think my biggest problem is leveling, which is a grind of the grandest degree, and no matter how many times I run 1-1 to kill the red knight for my 2,000 souls it just doesn’t feel rewarding.  I’m at level 18 or so and none of the stats seem to have a large effect, especially compared to the gap from levels 1 to 5 or even 5 to 10.  This game’s jank is also starting to get to me.  Whether it’s the stuttering at the top of the stairs in 1-1 or the framerate hitches in the back halls of 1-3, I now get annoyed with the glitches.  I’ve heard all of the decries as well.  Play as a mage, do this thing here to cheat, do that thing there to by pass some of this, “git gud.”  Yeah, I’ve heard it all before and I don’t like any of it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

May 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

Midwest Gaming Classic 2018 Photo Album

leave a comment »

Check out all of our great shots from the show!  Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

April 18, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog

Tagged with

The Soulsborne Diaries, Part 2: Beginning Demon’s Souls

leave a comment »

Version

Someone pointed out that I claimed to have the European “Black Phantom Edition” in my story from Part 1, but then when I posted to Twitter that I was starting this crusade I clearly had a copy of the US “Deluxe Edition” in that photo.  Keen eye, although many are aware the box art is completely different.  Yes, it’s true, I no longer own the “Red Phantom Edition” because I sold that sucker for over $250 on eBay back when Dark Souls took off and demand was extremely high.  Mind you, I did this only after walking into a local GameStop and seeing them selling a copy of the US Deluxe Edition for the standard $59.99 price tag, which I think was a discount.  In the US the Deluxe Edition only came with the strategy guide (with a worse cover), but those that pre-ordered also got the art book and soundtrack as a bonus.  The employee admitted that a pre-order had never shown to claim their copy and despite being rare and in high demand, no one in the south suburbs of Kansas City seemed to care at all.  He also admitted that one of the other employees had already snagged the free bonuses (art book and soundtrack) so I wouldn’t be getting those and thus the discounted price.  Side note: it always baffles me nonchalant GameStop employees are about the terrible things they do to their customers; this was not the first employee to flat out admit that when a pre-order goes 5 days unclaimed that the employees are allowed to descend upon it, pick it apart, open it, take it home to play it, and you get this semi-used sloppy seconds version of a game you are paying full retail price for.  The game had been out for at least several weeks in the US and, yep, this copy had been opened and clearly played but thanks to that magical circular sticker they put on the box it was considered “sealed” by the GameStop gods.  I didn’t care, I could keep my copy of the same game – now specific to my region – and it came with the most important item: the strategy guide.  It also helped that I was able to rip the soundtrack before selling my other copy and you could find quite a few amazing high quality scans of the art book in PDF form, which are still live today.  Granted, it’s not the tangible book or disc, but neither are the art books, strategy guides, and soundtracks in future versions (other than my UK version of Dark Souls III), so technically this now just matches my others.  Either way, that’s why my pic had the US Limited Edition, which is not that far in value these days from the Black Phantom Edition so bully for me.

Black Phantom Edition (UK)

Deluxe Edition (US)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School

It was time to go back, return to the game that brought me nothing but defeat and frustration.  A game that I paid a very high price for, imported when it wasn’t in my country, and thought was utter hype garbage.  I wouldn’t be going in half-cocked, however, despite what some may think this is not a crash course in masochism.  I wanted to be prepared, not only for the rough mechanics, but also how to overcome many of the flat out bad design choices that were played off as a difficulty spike.  When a game drops a boulder on you that you cannot avoid unless you know it’s coming, that’s just bad design, not a challenge.  The easiest way to prove this is when you have the knowledge of the boulder, it isn’t a challenge at all and can actually assist you in taking out enemies you no longer feel you need to fight.  This is where and how I draw the line between difficult and bad design, and I knew Demon’s Souls was chock full of both.  So I did what any planner or student would do: I read the guide.  It was so coveted, even by me, for so long that surely it would have some helpful information.  It did, but like everything else with this franchise, it was hardly straightforward and read more like an encyclopedia than a guide.  Again with my definitions.  A guide should walk you through the process of the game, allowing you to basically follow your progress in the game along with the page number of the guide with the occasional diversion chapters for filler.  An encyclopedia just dumps all the information in one organized place and forces you to determine what knowledge you need and seek it out.  This guide had spreadsheets, characters sheets, leveling info, item lists, enemy lists, tips, and several sections on higher gameplay tactics, but it never has a single page that covers how you start out.  There are 10 starting classes all with different stats, abilities, and perks, many of which won’t even matter until you’re at least 10-15 hours into the game and at which point you may have to restart the game if you selected the wrong build.  Additionally this title is a game of melee combat, ranged combat, magic, or different combinations of these attacks so you can understand why I was puzzled by a Thief class or the difference between a Knight, a Soldier, and a Temple Knight.  If you know this game well you’re probably tearing your hair out because the differences are distinct and real, but you would never know most of this without looking it up online.  While my guide gave me the different stats of each class and some random distinguishing characteristics, it really didn’t help you decide who to go with.  Hell, I had played Bloodborne and I still didn’t know who I wanted.  In this regard, the guide was somewhat useless because although it gave me stats and told me equipment, I didn’t know what the equipment did.  I later learned that if I went over to the equipment section, I could have looked each item up, but I think it would have been more helpful to just simply say something like “Silver Coronet – increases MP” to assist.  Games typically tell you what an item does when you get it, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

February 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Soulsborne Diaries, Part 1: Starting Point

leave a comment »

Welcome to my new series, The Soulsborne Diaries.  This will be an ongoing documentation of a yearlong journey through various video games belonging to From Software’s, shall we say sub-genre, of games that currently encompasses Demon’s SoulsDark Souls I-III, and Bloodborne.  I’m going to come right out and say that this isn’t a guide by any means – I’ve not played most of these games – and this is also not a series of deep dives into the concepts, lore, or mechanics of these titles either.  If you want that may I suggest Bonfireside Chat, a fantastic series  by the main crew at Duckfeed.tv.  The purpose of these diaries is an opportunity for me to digest my experiences in an attempt to discover why people are so drawn to them and also if I’m compatible with that drive.  This series would be best suited for the uninitiated hoping to journey vicariously with me or the seasoned veterans to get a glimpse into my process, my challenges, and my (hopeful) achievements.  In this process I do hope to open up a dialogue or at least hear out comments, but I must stress that I am no expert and undoubtedly a series with this passion may draw individuals who despise what I say or my lack of knowledge on various topics.  If this is you, please let your voice be heard in the comments below or by writing an e-mail, but I do ask that you remain civil as the treatment and response you receive will be equally respectful.  That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree and that you can’t be exasperated in your response, by all means.

Introduction

I wouldn’t say I’m particularly new to Soulsborne titles.  I got on the Demon’s Souls bandwagon before the game even came to the US, nabbing a European “Black Phantom Edition” that included an art book, a soundtrack, and a strategy guide.  Admittedly my initial draw was the popularity it was garnering on the import site I frequented at the beginning of the PS3’s life – for those that didn’t live in a region-locked world, having the PS3 region free was huge for me.  When it arrived I have to admit that I was enthralled by the art book, which was filled with grotesque creatures and massive monsters all with a medieval theme.  It reminded me of the first time I flipped through the pages of the Dungeons & Dragons Monsterous Manual, wide-eyed at the horrors you could encounter in that world.  After looking over the book and making a spot on my shelf, I didn’t touch the game for several months, a trend I’m guilty of even today, but it was particularly bad at this time.  Later, when Atlus released the game here in America, a few of my friends started asking me about this game that was apparently huge in Japan and Europe.  I don’t know that it was initially successful, but the long range sales of Demon’s Souls can’t be denied and this was definitely a jumping point for From Software to do something greater, albeit without the help of Sony Japan, who funded this first game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

February 1, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Community Question: Regarding Your Speech…

with one comment

Since we don’t necessary have a podcast coming up and a really good question was asked, I figured I’d answer it here.  It comes from Andrew and it reads:

Hello again, whoever is hosting this time. This one goes to Fred, but, whoever you are, read anyway; Fred will listen to this.

First, I do admire more effort being put in research and actually playing the games covered on the show. That is always a welcome change. However, there is ONE teeny problem. I am very much against the “GAMES ARE SRS ART THAT WILL EDUCATE US AND ELEVATE HUMANITY TO A NEW LEVEL OF SUPERIOR EXISTENCE” crap. The very moment you start taking fun seriously, you lose your ability to enjoy it. Do you really want to go there, Fred? Do you want to kill the fun, and treat games like some boring obligatory chore for mature adults such as yourself? I will be blunt: the moment you forget how to have fun and enjoy things without ruminating on the serious socio-political implications of “the experience” immediately after, will be the moment I stop listening. I am surrounded with enough mature adults who forgot what fun is already.

With that out of the way, I will sadly not be able to contribute any articles to the site. I am very picky, and only play games that I really love, meaning my personal knowledge of games extends almost exclusively to titles I played. I will not be playing anything I do not like because I have to. I could join you on a potential Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, or Sly Cooper episode, I know everything you need (and don’t need) about those series….. es. There is nothing else I can help with. Other than sending you soundtracks if you ever need them.

Well….. bye?

P.S. Thinking your perspective on a game is a fact is not rare, most people are like that.

My response is below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

January 8, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Blog

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

with 4 comments

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fred Rojas

October 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

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

leave a comment »

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

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , ,