Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘nes

New Podcast: Gaming Tech 101 (Episode 0)

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NES

There has been much appeal to the hardware side of retro gaming and with so many new products coming out it’s time to get back to basics.  While Gaming Tech 101 will have its own feed and episodes, Fred figured he’d give you a taste over here on the GH101 feed.  In episode 0 Fred discusses what GT101’s intentions are and then delves into the growing world of NES clone consoles hitting the market.  From NOACs to FPGAs and even Nintendo’s own “mini” slated for holiday, it’s all covered in this first preview episode.  GT101 will be a bi-weekly podcast.


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Written by Fred Rojas

September 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

Check This Out: Play NES Games Rendered in 3D

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Overnight there was apparently a craze regarding 3DNes, a project capable of re-living your favorite NES games in a browser and now in 3D.  This isn’t those 3D games that appear on the 3DS either, it’s a seemingly re-rendered version of the game to support depth (or volume).  Originally this is what I imagined voxels (volumetric pixels) to look like and it’s somewhat like the aesthetic of 3D Dot Game Heroes but in your favorite NES games.  In order to play you need to be on the 64-bit version of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser, have the NES rom you want to play uploaded to a linked location online (they recommend cloud storage), and you can only play online.  A downloadable version will be available soon.

It’s super cool to see these classics with new life in 3DNes and while I messed around with it a little, I have to admit I would probably prefer a downloadable version.  You are welcome to head on over to the developer, Geod Studio’s site and play around with it yourself or merely watch the video at the top of the page.  Now you’re playing with 3D power.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 9, 2016 at 10:00 am

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Book Review: Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda

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legends_of_localization_book1_header

Like all great media, video games transcend the restriction of language.  Thanks to standardized interfaces, albeit complicated and vast, one can easily pick up a game in any language and navigate it.  Whether or not you absorb the key gameplay concepts or the story, however, still comes down to understanding the written or spoken words.  This is especially true of retro video games since a majority were born in Japan and then exported to various countries and languages (the most common being English).  Unfortunately the process of translating a game requires more care than simply asking what a word or written symbol converts to in another language.  Localization is a more appropriate term for what video game translation is really all about.  Clyde “Mato” Mandelin has actually done it and continues to document various changes and localization between video games in Japanese and English in his wonderful Legends of Localization site.  He recently took the next step and published his first hardcover book, Legends of Localization Book 1: The Legend of Zelda, which does a few things I never thought possible.  For one, it taught me a bunch of stuff about The Legend of Zelda that I never knew.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

Podcast: It’s-a Me!

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This week we have special guest Eli “Sodoom” (@sodoom) from Knuckleballer Radio on to celebrate Nintendo’s world famous plumber.  Instead of discussions about the actual games we’ve all played, we delve into the snags in development, cultural significance, and multiple games that never saw the light of day.  Mario has a clean release record but plenty of care and scrapping of ideas went into his games.


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Written by Fred Rojas

April 17, 2013 at 11:00 am

Review: Life of Pixel

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pixel_iconRetro “style” has become exponentially popular these days. What started as an amusing aesthetic for Mega Man 9 or upgraded project like Retro City Rampage has spawned a rush of pixelated, sprite-based games that may look like they came from yesteryear but play like anything but. To the untrained eye (or non-technical gamer) these are nothing more than cash-in titles hoping to embrace the nostalgia of gamers like myself and strategically place a casual game in a 1985 wrapping. My only exception to this style probably lies in titles like Retro Game Challenge on the DS, which fully recreated new games that actually play like old games, or titles like Pier Solar on the Genesis, which is an actual title that plays on the console. Life of Pixel rests just in the middle because it plays completely like a game from the past, but also looks like a game of the past as well. The twist: it does this with eight different known consoles/microcomputers.

One of the first systems is the Atari 2600

One of the first systems is the Atari 2600

Released on the Playstation Mobile platform, an odd choice at first but completely appropriate in hindsight, you follow a single pixel lost to the annals of history that rediscovers its value visiting a retro game museum. In this museum he discovers that he was quite useful on international consoles Atari 2600, Gameboy, and NES, along with five microcomputers that dominated 80s gaming in the UK. These work as “worlds” for the game, each containing eight levels of pure retro platforming bliss. In truth the levels are nothing special if not for the fact that each level and console looks and acts just like it did in the past, flaws and all. An easy example is that of the Atari 2600, which cannot scroll its screen in any way and thus the levels are contained in what you see. Additionally microcomputers could not scroll at will like the NES could so you have to move screen to screen. These are just a couple of examples of how the particular console you are on relates to the type of tactics you use in each level. This isn’t the only hook, as game design “grows up” as you progress in the consoles, so do the mechanics and gameplay styles. In the end you’re basically playing the same series and concept of game across 8 consoles and more than a decade of hardware and game design. If that doesn’t speak to the retro style I don’t know what does. Life of Pixel is a full retro experience, complete with visual styles that faithfully resemble the aesthetic of that console – you know how each console seemed to have a “look” – and properly credited music that holds as true as the graphics.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Retro Game Challenge: Super C (NES)

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superc_boxConsole: NES
Released: April 1990
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Instruction Manual: Not necessary – Link
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $9.03 (used), $179.95 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – as Super Contra on arcade, PCs (microcomputer and IBM compatibles)
Digital Release? Yes – Virtual Console for Wii (NES version) and XBLA (arcade version)

Per a request from reader Quark, our follow up from the Contra retro review.  Now we complete the sequel.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 10, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Podcast: Ultimate Play The Game

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rare

Fred and Rob “Trees” discuss Rare titles.  We actually mean the developer Rare as opposed to video games that are considered “rare.”  Originally formed as Ultimate Play The Game, we go over the history and game library of one of the most influential and abundant 2nd party developers on Nintendo’s platforms.

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As promised, here’s gameplay footage of Nightmare on Elm Street for the NES:

Written by Fred Rojas

January 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

Retro Game Challenge: Super Mario Bros.

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smb_boxConsole: NES
Released: September 1985
Developer: Nintendo Creative Department
Publisher: Nintendo
Instruction Manual: Not necessary – Link
Difficulty: Easy
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $5.79 (used), $1,000.00 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – SNES (Super Mario All-Stars), Gameboy Color (as Super Mario Bros. Deluxe), Gameboy Advance (Nintendo Classics), Wii (Super Mario All-Stars Wii)
Digital Release? Yes – Virtual Console for both Wii and 3DS

Written by Fred Rojas

January 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Review: Mother aka Earthbound Zero (Famicom)

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mother_boxConsole: Famicom
Released: 1989
Developer: Ape
Publisher: Nintendo
Instruction Manual: None released outside of Japan
Difficulty: Difficult
Played it as a child? No
Value: N/A – No official US release, most versions are fan translations and prototype carts have no official price
Other Releases: Yes – This game was updated and re-released in Japan on GBA as Mother 1 + 2
Digital Release? Yes – Although technically not true.  Digital fan translations to English are available but not really legal.

Thanks to a strong and devoted fan community and some odd ambiguity with Nintendo’s releases of this series, Mother (known as Earthbound Zero with most circles that play english translations) has got to be one of the hardest series to cover.  Having never played Earthbound (Mother 2 in Japan) I did the traditional completionist thing and started with the original game, which is extremely dated by almost all RPG standards.  Mother suffers from everything I dread about going into retro role-playing games: a ton of grinding (or “meat walls”), constant random encounters, no true direction as to where to go next, casual dungeons with incredibly hard boss battles, slow pacing, and a limited inventory system.  Not only that, anytime you try to look up help on this game, everyone who’s written about it has played the game a million times and speaks so condescending of people who get stuck that you feel like an idiot.  That’s because Mother has a small but incredibly devoted community that feels this game and its sequels are the apex of game design.  Despite all these faults, the charm of the writing and what it was doing at the time was enough to keep me invested until the grueling end.

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Buying Guide: The Nintendo Entertainment System

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NES

We all love our retro consoles, but in many cases the consoles we are buying are because they are cheap enough or we have enough money to purchase what we never were able to in our youth.  Unfortunately the business of making used retro items available to the masses can at times be a money grubbing market where consumers are deceived by people they will never meet in real life.  As an individual who has spent the last decade scouring the local area, conventions, eBay, and the internet as a whole I have learned many valuable lessons.  For that reason I present my buying guide series, which is a handy quick guide to knowing what to purchase and what will cost an arm and a leg to replace.

Most of us that are over 30 and grew up gaming had a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) at one point or another in our collection, so it’s not that common to have a reseller screw you over with a used console.  Still, I think it’s best to know exactly what you need to look for in your NES so here’s the official list of items that should be included in a used console:

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm