Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘dreamcast

Podcast: The History of CD-ROM Consoles, Part 2

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This week Fred sits down with Ali of 42 Level One to discuss the more popular 32-bit generation of CD-ROM consoles.  What started as a disaster with the 3DO Interactive Player gave way to the big releases of the Sega Saturn and the Sony Playstation.  While the Saturn may seem dead in the water for the West, it was a strong presence in the East.  Finally everything wraps up with the beloved console that lacked sales: the Sega Dreamcast.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 8, 2017 at 11:00 am

Last Hope (NG:Dev.Team)

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Under most circumstances, console games are licensed to be released on consoles (meaning the manufacturer sold the right to create a game on its console), however in the case of Last Hope, lead development console Neo Geo was completely out of print.  Furthermore the game has seen much more success as a Dreamcast title, where it was more appropriately tweaked and cost a hell of a lot less than the 128 mb carts (basically a small arcade board) they originally produced the game on.  This is often the case when a developer makes a game for a system long past its prime, we’ve also seen similar unlicensed titles from indie devs like the recent Genesis/Mega Drive release of Pier SolarLast Hope is a surprisingly fun shmup in the vein of R-Type that really captures the feel of a classic 80s arcade game based almost purely on score.  It’s even more significant that it was originally developed on the Neo Geo, a console fully capable of supporting large sprites in busy shmups but few developers created these types of games for.

To even touch the plot at this point is pretty stupid because you know the drill and can probably guess by the title alone: aliens invade and you are the last hope.  What is impressive is that this shmup contains six levels, four difficulties, hand drawn backgrounds (this is a big part of my love for it) and I believe sprite-based ships and enemies.  Furthermore the game runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, both the Neo Geo and Dreamcast versions are identical (including identical pixel-to-pixel count in 320×240) and all versions are region free (European players will need to support 60 hz on whatever display device they use).  In short, it is programming a game with love for the console and game in mind, not profit.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Shmuppreciation 2012

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Converts

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So now you want to import consoles and games, do you?  Well you’ll be happy to know that it is entirely possible on most consoles, however there are some things you’ll have to be aware of before you do it.  This article discusses the different things you have to do to both the electric and video signal of various imported consoles.  It will also briefly discuss how to get foreign games to play on US consoles, if possible.

Electricity Differences
No matter what console you are using, it’s important to know the differences between electricity in the US, Europe and Japan.

Japanese Consoles in the US
As you’ll see plenty of times in this article, Japan is quite similar to the United States in many ways, including power.  We use 120 volts as our standard for power.  Japan doesn’t appear to use a ground (or at least none of the Japanese consoles I’ve ever gotten do, never been to Japan itself), so all plugs from Japanese consoles will be two-pronged and fit in an US outlet.  Also fortunate is the fact that most consoles, especially retro ones, will use AC adaptors that work in the US.  Never interchange US power supplies into Japanese consoles, you could fry the console or worse.  For example, if you import a Famicom, use that console’s AC adaptor and not an US NES one.  For newer consoles like Japanese PS2s and PS3s, you may want to check the back of the console, but I think those are good for AC 100-240 volts for worldwide distribution, but I could be wrong.  Basically if it generates heat, be very careful and do a search for advice from a reputable source (no, Yahoo! Answers is not a reputable source).  Also if you want to be completely safe, there are Japanese voltage converters that allow use of Japanese products here.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Generation Gap Pt 5: “Last” Gen

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This installment will conclude our Generation Gap coverage.  Please note that upcoming coverage on handhelds, arcades and microcomputers will follow.  A lot happened just over a decade ago – the gaming market changed and one strong competitor bowed out as another took to the plate.

Fifth Generation – 1999 – Present (technically)

Sega Dreamcast – Launch Price: $199.99 – Released: 1999
Launch dates are getting more technical by this time, so from a Japanese standpoint the Dreamcast was a 1998 launch but we didn’t get it here until much later in September 1999.  Although it is a 128-bit system, consoles had stopped toting the strength of “bits” and instead focused on a sleek design – most likely because Sony did it with Playstation and it worked.  Dreamcast was Sega’s final nail before bowing out of hardware manufacturing and has been argued to also be its best offering.  Regardless, the Dreamcast was definitely ahead of its time.  It featured things that no console would dare launch without today and basically had the same features that Microsoft would include in its console just a few years later.  A few years, that’s the difference between success and failure.

Until the Dreamcast most video game consoles were specified hardware that was far behind PCs.  By all accounts the Dreamcast was a simplified PC, even running Windows CE, a modified version of the operating system that would be put to greater use on later pocket PCs.  The Dreamcast had a built-in modem on all consoles, which supported the earliest form of online console gaming and provided a web browser service to those fortunate or rich enough to afford the high cost of long phone calls.  Furthermore a keyboard attachment allowed players to truly use their console as an Internet device and even gave way to early MMOs on the console.  Memory cards included LCD dot matrix screens and were called “visual memory units” or VMUs that not only held data but gave the player on-the-go mini games and Gigapet-style games.  Aside from that Dreamcast boasted higher storage with the proprietary GD-rom format (1.2 GB of storage space), impressive graphics, and a slew of solid titles.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 5, 2011 at 9:21 am

Now & Then: Resident Evil Code: Veronica

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Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review.  It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games.  Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now.  Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.

Technically the Resident Evil series has more Sega console lineage than what I and many other gamers regard as a Sony franchise.  The original launched on the Saturn alongside the Playstation and although it took some time, enhanced versions of the second and third title appeared on the Dreamcast.  Mind you, all three of the first titles still premiered on Playstation and were ported to Sega’s platforms.  Code: Veronica was first announced and released on Sega’s Dreamcast and marked a significant change for the series.  A mere one month after its February 2000 release date, the Playstation 2 had one of the worst launches in history with a vast library of titles no one wanted to play.  To have Veronica on the launch list to usher in Sony’s new console would have been amazing.  This wasn’t a case of Capcom turning its back on Sony, though, they had always planned on having named titles on non-Sony consoles, reserving numbered titles for Sony.  Given that Sega co-produced the game, it was clearly a paycheck game to give the Dreamcast a strong exclusive library, but it also ended up being a great addition to the series.

Despite his incessant begging, Claire decides it’s best not to come out of hiding

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Now & Then: Resident Evil 3 Nemesis

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Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review.  It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games.  Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now.  Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (RE3) gets the worst treatment within the series because it was released on the tail end of the Playstation cycle and as the third release in as many years (most people remember RE‘s re-release, the Director’s Cut, more than the initial release), there really wasn’t that much new brought to the table.  Having said that, it was the most polished title on the Playstation and finally made the concept attempted in RE2 a reality.  With a few slight tweaks, like the ability to flip a quick 180 and a much more agile Jill Valentine, RE3 felt a lot more like games of the time.  Unfortunately with the diluting of the franchise via frequent releases and the fact that the game looked identical to the first two on the box, it just didn’t hold players’ interest.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Now & Then: Resident Evil 2

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Now & Then is different from both a retrospective and a review.  It tackles games you probably already know and is a place for gamers to discuss these games.  Below is an overview of a game’s presence in the market then and now.  Authors of these articles share their personal experience, so we encourage all of you to do the same in the comments.

Resident Evil 2 (RE2) hit the market with a steep price; like other series favorite RE4, this title was scrapped and redone after it was more than 60 percent complete.  In order to keep hype and demand strong for the series after the extremely popular original, the sequel began production one month after the release of Resident Evil.  This first version, dubbed Resident Evil 1.5 by Capcom when production stills and videos released, featured a similar plot without crisscrossing paths.  Leon was still the male protagonist and Elza, a motorcyclist college student, as an early version of what would eventually become Claire Redfield.  Graphically the game was much uglier, looking the same (or worse) than the original, but only so that more zombies could appear on-screen.  In 1.5 Umbrella had already closed down, the outbreak still occurred, and the police station looked a lot more modern.  Players could equip different clothing, which changed their appearance (as did combat damage).  There were also many more survivors for players to encounter along the way, some of which played new roles in the final version of RE2.  Producer Shinji Mikami scrapped the project when it was near beta (60-80 percent completion) because he found gameplay and locations to be “dull and boring”¹.  Originally the series was supposed to end with the sequel, but supervisor Yoshiki Okamoto wanted a more open-ended series.  As a result Elza became Claire Redfield to connect to the first game and the plot was made more big budget movie style to get Capcom to the 2 million copy sales goal.  Graphics were updated, adding more polygons to each character, and items were made much more scarce to increase tension and fear.  Since it would miss the planned early 1997 release date, the Resident Evil: Director’s Cut and Complete Edition were released instead and included a demo of RE2.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 25, 2011 at 10:12 am