Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘sony

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

Perspective of a Retro Gamer: The Last Guardian

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Perspective of a Retro Gamer was formerly known as “cross talk” when I was actively involved in the B-Team Podcast.  Since I’m on a hiatus, this is the same context in that it’s a largely old school gamer playing a modern game.  Think of it as a review that’s more about my perspective as opposed to that now “traditional” definition of a product review fused with a content review.  As such, no scores are part of this series.

The Last Guardian has become synonymous with retro gaming, most likely because the design is as aged as the development itself: over 10 years old.  So while many contemporary players are walking into the title wondering if it will appeal to them, it seems like the retro crowd such as myself are expected to take to it naturally.  Couple that with the assumption that if you like previous games by Team Ico, especially the studio’s initial title Ico, you should enjoy this as well because it is similar in gameplay and design.  I’m here to say that after a wonderful initial three hours and a painstaking three more that followed, this is simply not the case.  I like old games, I like old game design, and I really like Ico, but I think I’m done with The Last Guardian.  Not only that, I find the claim that this title shares much in common with old game design or Ico to be as inaccurate as those that compared Prototype to inFamous back in 2009.  For me this is heartbreaking because the game leads you down a path with such wonder, grace, and promise that when it all gets taken away it seems cruel.

the_last_guardian_1Your journey begins as a young boy protagonist – nothing new for Team Ico games there – awakening in a room.  The first thing you will notice is the hulking body of your soon-to-be companion, Trico, fast asleep in the room with you.  This introduction was abrupt and unexpected, which was magical, as was the reality that you are stuck in a room with a creature you don’t understand yet.  There’s no prompt to do something outside of a bit of narrated exposition seemingly told to the player by a future self as well as a handful of prompts on what buttons do without a hint as to your goal.  Shortly after Trico wakes up, doesn’t do a great job of telling you what’s expected, and you have to figure it all out.  Your journey begins, you go exploring, it’s all basically self explanatory.  It’s also stunning to look at.  I will admit that the textures are stretched in areas, the shading on the game is an obvious attempt to make it look better than it should, and a vast majority of the whole art direction screams Playstation 2 game.  That said Trico is crafted to near perfection.  The way the fur or feathers all move as Trico walks or part away like blades of grass as you maneuver its body make the whole thing seem so real.  Its eyes, those Trico eyes, are a glance so lifelike that any dog or cat owner can appreciate.  Perhaps most convincing was that its movements were so familiar even though no creature like Trico has ever existed.   I loved this opening.

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Written by Fred Rojas

January 23, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blog, PS4, Reviews

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The Big PS4 Pro Analysis Post

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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.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 15, 2016 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Blog, PS4

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E3 2016: All Games Playstation Press Conference Impressions

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Sony came out of the gates swinging with a barrage of new games, sequels, trailers, and plenty of hints at what VR will be like with Playstation this October.  While it was a dazzling display, the obvious fact that it was very impersonable struck a cord with some of our commentators.  The All Games team assembles again to give its mixed take on the future of Playstation.


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My Weekend With Bloodborne

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I’ve been in a bit of a gaming rut.  I keep trying to play, and enjoy, The Witcher 2 on PC and I just can’t seem to get it to work.  My issues with that game are for another post, but rest assured I see the value of it as a pinnacle of modern RPG gaming and love the branching stories, but due to the complicated keyboard-to-joypad controls and complex battle system I can’t step away for long and come back.  That’s not good for a person like me, who is frequently taking long pauses from games, not playing for long periods of time, and often having to play several retro games mixed into my sessions.  As a father, husband, full time salaried employee (which means I’m working far more than 40 hours a week), and a guy trying to manage a retro gaming site that includes a blog, reviews, podcasts, and video, there’s not much time for modern games in long stints.  Hell, if it weren’t for my partner-in-crime Jamalais, this site would not sustain at the level of quality and measure of content it has now.  Oddly enough as I was trying to figure out what to do about my Witcher 2 situation and considered other games to migrate to, the most unusual title entered my periphery and made my weekend: Bloodborne.

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Written by Fred Rojas

April 6, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Blog

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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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The Order 1886 Review

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Wait, what?  A modern review?!? Yes, it’s true, we will from time to time be reviewing new games.  It’s not because we got review copies, because we didn’t in this case, and it’s not because we’re changing focus from retro gaming either.  We just wanted an outlet to write reviews on the modern games that we play and frankly, some of the games that were releasing when GH101 started might now be considered retro.  Keep in mind that the site, articles, podcast, and videos will remain focused largely on retro gaming.  

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The Order 1886 is that vapid leggy blonde at the bar.  It’s gorgeous to look at and consistently takes your mind off of any other gripes you may have, but as time goes on you find yourself less and less tolerant of its flaws – keep in mind I’m referring to the game and not the blonde as “it”.  Not only that, but I’m not particularly fond of the game that The Order 1886 is, which is a cover-based shooter, and it seemed to me that Sony went aggressively out of its way to not describe the game as any more than a cinematic experience.  After its brief campaign that seems like a half-finished story you’re left not really wanting more, just hoping that the game evolves in its planned sequel, if we ever get one.  That’s not to say there aren’t aspects to like about the game, but at its core The Order 1886 can’t remain consistent in gameplay type or quality.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 23, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Posted in PS4, Reviews

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Now & Then: God of War 1 and 2

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God of War feels like a series that just exploded in popularity but has now been lost in the gaming community abyss. Last year the God of War Collection (featuring the first two games in the series) was released to the Playstation Vita to such a poor reception that a lot of friends were generally surprised it was actually released. Then again the same group of friends were gob smacked that Borderlands 2 also came out on the Vita. Now, it could be argued that this lack of enthusiasm may be due to the lack of interest in the Playstation Vita. But forgotten or not, I’ve played through both God of War games so it’s time to see how they hold up today.

gowhydraI was originally a massive fan of the very first God of War game on PS2. When I was first introduced to the game by a friend I got so into it we played through the entire game together in one single sitting, something that I rarely do with a video game. We spent a lot of the experience just gob smacked by how the PS2 was able to include great graphics and set pieces. Of course a lot of the great visuals are attributed to a fixed camera control and the set pieces being controlled entirely by quick time events (a feature I’m glad has started to disappear in the gaming industry). The game felt like a breath of fresh air. Although the game did not introduce a completely original experience it seemed to take elements that worked with other games like an anti hero storyline, hack and slash gameplay and upgrading your character with orbs. The game was not perfect, even for the time people criticised some of the challenging sections in the game most notably the infamous Hades area where you had to get pass various traps and obstacles. If you were hit just once you died instantly, leading to some massive gamer rage grinding your enjoyable experience to a complete halt. What made God of War stand out at the time was the epic adventure, where you travel into areas no man can supposedly enter (and the game clearly displays this by having dead bodies littered everywhere). You really felt like you were on this impossible quest. Every time you beat a gigantic boss or got pass a deadly trap you really felt a sense of achievement. The bosses were also enormous like the infamous hydra, a fantastic way to open the game and a design feature that seemed to carry over to all future games in the series as well. The game was well received by critics and gamers so it pretty much guaranteed a sequel. The developers seemed confident of this as well as the message “Kratos will return,” appears once the credits have finished at the end of the experience.

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Written by jamalais

January 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

Podcast: U R Not [RED] e

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SONY DSC

This week Fred and Jam are joined by Andy from 42 Level One to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Sony Playstation.  This CD based console is responsible for so much ushering into the next iteration of game development, hardware, media, and game libraries.  It touched each host in his own way and deserves to be celebrated on its second decade of existence.


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Written by Fred Rojas

December 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

Retro Game Night: Fire’n Ice and Skyblazer

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This week the “$130 episode” features the NES sequel to Solomon’s Key Fire’n Ice and the recently featured Retronauts favorite Skyblazer for the SNES.

Written by Fred Rojas

August 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm