Gaming History 101

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2018 in Review Day 3: Nintendo

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The GH101 crew and guests assemble to discuss Nintendo in 2018.

Written by Fred Rojas

December 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

It’s Not “Wii U” It’s “Me, U, and Nintendo”

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With the arrival of Zelda Twilight Princess HD being released on Wii U this week and ever circulating rumours that that next Zelda game will be released to the Wii U and Nintendo’s follow up console (codename NX), I though this would be an opportunity to review just what has happened with the Wii U and why Nintendo seems keen to move on from this console despite pockets of success.

zombiu_screen_tabletFirst off it’s worth acknowledging that the Wii U is far from a failure and this console will not be the end of the company. After all, if Nintendo can survive the awful Virtual Boy it can survive most things. The Wii U is a console that had the best intentions behind it: it wanted to bring the tablet experience to the living room along with exclusive Nintendo IPs that you can’t play on any other system. I initially always felt the Wii U was like the DS of video game consoles, where you would have two screens to look at. Unlike the portable, though, you would have to do some significant head movements to view the different screens. There are games made for this console both first and, yes, third party that really made the most of this set up. Despite the criticism ZombiU was a very clever experiment in having the player manage inventory on the tablet screen while action was happening in real time on the TV adding to the horror and tension of the experience.  Rayman Legends (a game I adore across all platforms) was originally a Wii U exclusive and it shows on other ports of this game. If you play the game with other people, one player can use the tablet control to manipulate the environment and assist the other players.  Another example is Unepic, a very cool indie title which uses the tablet to allow you to manage inventory. Yes, all of these titles were released to other platforms, but they’re examples where developers made the most of the hardware without making it feel like a tacked on gimmick.

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Written by jamalais

March 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

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Streets Of Rage 3D – The Joys of Buying on Launch Day Again

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I was contemplating whether to write a review for the recent port of Streets of Rage 2 on the 3DS but I kinda thought there’s little point. Most people reading this article will have played the game and know its great. Instead I wanted to write about the fun I had re-visiting the game and why I actually had no problem re-buying this game despite owning it on multiple systems and compilations. If you are someone that needs a score the game is 5 out of 5. Fred and I also talked extensively about the game on our Top Ten Mega Drive/Genesis games of all time, which I highly recommend checking out, you might be surprised what makes the cut.

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Written by jamalais

August 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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Opinion: The State of Games

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Normally we focus on retro here at Gaming History 101, but I don’t think it’s ideal or responsible to ignore the present either.  Despite the handful of modern reviews and the potential plan to re-introduce the Gaming History X podcast, I still think the strength of our site is to remain retro focused.  I still get psyched waiting for E3, seeing the new hardware and software on the market, and reflecting on things to come.  Right now is a weird time for console gaming.  The PC trumps the consoles yet again but I feel this time around there was never a loss of momentum for the complicated pseudo console that has been the PC and from the time of the PS4 and XB1’s release that gap has only grown wider.  Meanwhile Nintendo is this awkward dichotomy of complete control over the handheld market and a niche presence on consoles and some disturbing trends that are exploiting retro fans are emerging.  When you suddenly see the cooperative gaming development, media, and zeitgeist all get together and remember the games of the past to provoke interest, those of us that never forgot may be tempted to get a bit elitist and a bit resentful.  I personally took issue with the concepts of Gex suddenly entering the world of big press podcasts, the fact that IGN is desperately seeking to keep hold of its massive audience while juggling the departure of major talent and the lack of regular game releases of note, and don’t get me started on the people that just plain like to generate revenue on playing emulated games completely without context and making fart jokes over them.  Then I realized I have no reason to care.  Let everyone do what they want to do, besides I’ve always conceded that retro content is something to be shared and not competed against.  Just as there will be indies who give content away for free to the enjoyment of all, there will also be businesses attempting to make a quick buck off of it.  Since we here at Gaming History 101 have no ads, no income, and are not a business, we are in the unique position to have, literally, nothing to lose.  With that in mind I would like to take our retro context and take a look at the state of gaming – consoles, PCs, handheld, mobile, and potentially VR – and give a quick oversight as we approach the 90 day mark to E3.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm

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Podcast: Gaming History X: This is Next Gen?

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This week we celebrate Jam (@Jamalais) coming on board as a permanent co-host, a slew of retro news, and onto the more modern topic of contemporary consoles.  Now that the gang’s all here, we dissect the current state, conditions, and factors of the previously called “next gen” and loosely discuss the upcoming future.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

Death of the Portable

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Portable gaming has been around almost as long as gaming as a whole.  Since the first moment bleeps and bloops could be captured on a screen, engineers have been hard at work trying to recreate the same experience on the go.  Now with both the Playstation Vita and Nintendo 3DS this goal has, for the most part, become a reality.  While neither is quite on par with the likes of their HD gaming counterparts, there’s no doubt that the smaller screen does make the distinction difficult.  Having personally played Resident Evil: Revelations, Super Mario Land 3D, Wipeout 2048 and Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I admit that I feel these games are nearly identical both in gameplay and graphics to home console titles.  This is nothing new, in fact many would argue that the Playstation Portable was nothing but a slew of PS2-style titles both unique and ported.  Unlike the PSP, though, it appears that the gaming public claim this is what they want.  The sales, of course, tell a different tale.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

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Super Mario Land 3D: Not Your Father’s Mario

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While I’m perfectly capable of giving a review of this title, its merits and setbacks hold more value to me in a comparison to the series as a whole instead of a single title of the generation.  This is not a retrospective either, I’m more than happy to compare the timeline of the series if my content slims to that point. 

We’re Sorry, but Your Princess is in Another Castle

As a gamer who has been conquering Bowser Koopa – back then we called him “King Koopa” – in 1987 when I unboxed my first NES, the Super Mario franchise is as dear to me as gaming.  Needless to say that for better or worse, I have at one time or another owned every Nintendo console and thoroughly completed any part of the Super Mario platforming series.  As the years carried on I grew older and more mature, as did the Super Mario series.  One thing always remained consistent: each new release on a Nintendo platform played to the strengths of the hardware.  Super Mario Land 3D is no exception; it thwarts bold statements that the 3D hardware doesn’t enhance a game just like Super Mario Galaxy did for motion controls on the Wii.  It is not, however, Super Mario Bros. 3 meets Super Mario Galaxy, not in the least.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 11, 2012 at 8:30 am

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Strength in Numbers

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Anniversaries.  As time progresses everything ages at the same pace and with each passing year a ton of video games hit new milestones.  Popular titles from the past can be revisited in short periods of time for the sake of nostalgia or the chance to finally complete a difficult game for the first time¹.  Since no one day can go by without something in the video game industry reaching a notable age, it’s no surprise that retro articles are riddled with regular anniversary celebrations.  This site will be no exception.

Sonic 20thGaming companies have now begun to celebrate series anniversaries themselves on a more consistent basis.  In some cases I feel these creations are warranted, but I find myself frowning a bit when it’s a last-ditch effort to revitalize an intellectual property that should have died off long ago.  I think the better anniversary is the for titles that stand on their own and you rarely think about until they are brought up.  A perfect example of this is Chrono Trigger.  Despite a few remakes and Square’s occasional interest in bringing attention to the title, it’s mostly one for the nostalgia vault.  Thankfully, unlike so many other titles, Chrono Trigger holds up today and stands as an individual game even though it technically has two other entries in the series².  Oddly enough, even though the game celebrated 15 years in 2010, it received a GBA port on its 13th birthday and didn’t come to virtual console and PSN until this year (its 16th anniversary).  This only further proves that incremental numbers aren’t always on a publisher’s top priority list.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm