Kickstart This: GAME GIRLS GO!

15 09 2013

For the first time the next Happy Chicken project will be crowdfunded.  That’s right… we’re on Kicksarter now with a little something called Game Girls Go!, and let me tell you: it is awesome.

 

We have the girls: all professional Japanese idols who have appeared on various TV programs around Japan.

We have the games: Tons of retro games and consoles at our disposal.

We have the permission: It took almost two years, but we finally have the companies behind the games on board to legally use their products.

What we don’t have, is you.

 

That’s right, we have Japanese developers on board.  This news came midway through the campaign, and it is absolutely huge.  It means more than just having rights… it means they listened to what we had to say, saw the demo footage, and thought it was a fun, viable idea.  That means the only “what if” scenario is, what if we don’t get funded.

 

It’s been really difficult to get the word out about Game Girls Go!  Me, I don’t tweet… I only keep a small amount of Facebook friends (99% are actual people I know in real life)… and I’m not a member of any large game community or forum or message board.  It’s like I’m living in the 90’s; but then I really liked the 90’s.

 

As I said above, Game Girls Go! has been in my head for around two years.  These kind of things morph.  You get an idea and have to refine it.  I think Game Girls Go! came from two places: there was an idol photo book here in Japan that featured girls in various states of undress posing with retro game hardware that I thought was a great idea; and I’ve always been fascinated by the crazy things idols were made to do on Japanese variety shows.  Here’s an example:


So I took those two ideas and, just like the man walking with his tub of peanut butter colliding with the woman walking with her chocolate bar, I created a better beast.  No, not the delicious, mouthwatering goodness of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (where’s my money, Hershey’s?) but the greatest show about video games… ever.

 

The concept is simple.  We take a Japanese idol, like these:

These four idols are already booked to appear on the show.

These four idols are already booked to appear on the show.

 

and put her in a room with 3 retro games on 3 different retro systems.  If she’s able to complete a set amount of challenges in a set amount of time, she wins a prize.  If she can’t… well, I’ll refer you to that YouTube clip I posted above.  But the show is so much more than just girls in bikinis playing games.  As you can probably tell by looking around my blog, I love retro games.  So it was important to me that the show have a heavy dose of gaming history thrown in.  I want people who watch the show to learn about games and gaming history.

 

That’s why in Game Girls Go! we feature history and strategy segments for every game that’s played plus we highlight the systems themselves.  As I say in the Kickstarter video, by the time you finish watching Game Girls Go!, you’ll be a gaming genius.

 

So please support us in this endeavor.  I honestly believe that folks are going to like the end result.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT GAME GIRLS GO!





NINTENDO: a History of Strange Business Decisions

9 08 2013

Nintendo is a company that’s been around the block a few times.  In fact, I would challenge you to find any other company as associated with pure gaming outside of Atari.  They’re also the only company who have remained a juggernaut in the industry over the past 30 years; but being the Big N doesn’t mean there haven’t been stumbles along the way.  For everything the House of Plumber does right, it seems they leave behind them a wake of decisions that often leave both fans and detractors scratching their heads.  Here is, in my estimation, some of their most huh-worthy contributions to gaming.

 

 

GETTING INTO GAMING IN THE FIRST PLACE

 

database-hardware-famicomdisksystem01

Back in 1983 when Nintendo entered the market in Japan, they were known mostly as a company that made playing cards and the occasional arcade game.  Sure, they had been dabbling in games since the 1970’s, but when the Famicom first surfaced, gaming in Japan was dominated by computers.  It’s closest rival was Microsoft’s MSX series of computer consoles, licensed to the likes of Panasonic, Sony, Sanyo, and National.  That’s a pretty ballsy move, going up against some pretty heavy hitters with very, very deep pockets; but Nintendo had done their homework, and they came loaded for bear.  First off, the Famicom (short for Family Computer) was set to directly compete on the PC front, even though it wasn’t a personal computer at all, really.  You could outfit the Famicom with a keyboard, disk drive, and it even ran BASIC.  This would be the only time in gaming history that Nintendo would enter the market not having a monopoly on what makes Nintendo, well… Nintendo: it’s signature games.  Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, heck, even Super Mario Brothers were all available in one form or another on competitor’s machines; but it’s the superior Famicom versions of those games that would become classics.

 

 

SUPER FAMICOM DISK DRIVE

 

snes-cd

Probably the most well known head-scratcher in the history of the company, Nintendo was famously working with Sony on a CD drive for their Super Famicom game console when it put the kibosh on the project well within view of the finish line, literally throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  The end result of this gigantic corporate punking was the creation of the PlayStation, specifically designed to pee in Nintendo’s coffee.  You need to understand that Nintendo’s main competitor at this time wasn’t Sega, but NEC, whose PC Engine system was the #2 console in Japan… a console that was built around CDs.  The number 3 company, Sega also has a CD option for their system, and although the technology was new, it provided an obvious path as to where games were going.  Interestingly, the excuse Nintendo would provide as to exactly why they made the decision they made regarding a CD add-on for the SuperFami makes no sense whatsoever.  N pointed to piracy concerns over the easily copyable CD format, when there had already been devises specifically engineered to copy both Famicom and Super Famicom cartridges on the market for ages.  The reality is Nintendo did this simply because they felt they could, because… they were Nintendo.

 

 

STICKING WITH CARTRIDGES

 

SONY DSC

By the time Nintendo’s Ultra 64 rolled out as the Nintendo 64, the gaming industry had already embraced the compact disk as the chosen format for game delivery; but Nintendo made the decision to stick with cartridge based games.  Their explained reason: sure, CD games were cheaper to manufacture and held more data; but cartridges loaded faster.  That’s right, the Big N was so concerned about how you spend your time, they didn’t even want you wasting that extra 20 seconds it might take a game to load had it been available on CD instead of cart.  That’s just how thoughtful they are.  This would prove the beginning of a disastrous trend for the company to forgo industry standards… just because.  The end result of this decision would lead to the departure of one of the companies biggest 3rd party assets, Square Soft, and set the stage for the position in the console market Nintendo finds themselves today.

 

 

64DD / VIRTUAL BOY ONE TWO PUNCH

 

64DD copy

Although the Nintendo 64 proved far from a failure, two devices Nintendo would release alongside it would come to define the word.  Nintendo assured it’s critics that it would address the space limitations of it’s chosen cartridge based format with an-add on that harkened back to its Famicom roots: a disk drive that could read and write data, giving game companies not only more storage options; but also the ability to expand games.   Seemed like a sound and interesting idea at the time, and no one was exactly opposed to it; only it took them forever to actually release the thing.   Announced in 1995 and finally hitting shelves in 1999, by the time Nintendo made good on their promise almost all of the anticipated disk games had already been released in cartridge format, and no one was supporting it… including Nintendo.  That’s right, Nintendo released a device that it had no intention of supporting because they didn’t want to feel like they wasted their money.  But they had no problem with consumers wasting theirs.

The Virtual Boy parallels the disk drive in almost every way but one: while the 64DD was held back by Nintendo’s need “to get it right”, the Virtual Boy was rushed out the door even in the face of protests from it’s designer, Gunpei Yokoi.  Yokoi made the machine his pet project, and Nintendo was onboard having been fiddling around with 3D since it’s Famicom days (the Famicom supported 3D gaming through a pair of active shutter 3D glasses and some early Super Famicom games had 3D support built in, although it was never utilized.  In fact, the N64 was once conceived as a 3D system).  So while Nintendo had been doing it’s thing, the inventor of the D-pad, gameboy, and creator of such classics as Kid Icarus and Metroid was tinkering away in the background on his little 3D device.  He had it up and running just fine, but due to the cost LED diodes at the time it only was able to display one color: red.  Yokoi was pleased about his progress so far, but felt that it still wasn’t quite ready for prime time, and that in order for it to be viable in the marketplace it needed a full color screen, not just red.  Behind closed doors Nintendo agreed with him, but then they went out and publicly announced the Virtual Boy’s release, much to Yokoi’s horror.  This move was beyond bizarre: not only was there no reason to release the system at that time (Nintendo dominated the mobile gaming marketplace, they had no real competition), but the folks who designed the system has specifically told the bigwigs not to release it. The system flopped, just as Yokoi has predicted it would in it’s current state, and Nintendo not only publicly blamed Gunpei but also went out of their way to shame him, fire him, and then later murder him.  Yes, Nintendo killed Gunpei Yokoi.  They also never really made any games for the system, marking the second time Nintendo sold a product to consumers it never had the intention of supporting.

 

 

MINI-DVDS

 

Nintendo_GameCube_Game_Disc_and_Wii_Optical_Disc

Finally capitulating to the demands of developers, Nintendo announced that the followup to the Nintendo 64, called Project Dolphin, and later given the Christian name Game Cube, would in fact utilize DVDs for game delivery (thus bringing the system in line with the standard game format of the day); but not just any DVDs… MINI-DVDs!  It was like getting all the audio and load times of a DVD, but with half the storage space, once again making it nearly impossible to port a great many games to their system.  It’s important to understand just why the distinction between DVD and mini-DVD is so important.  The biggest reason beyond the amount of data it can hold is the cost to manufacturer.  Because DVDs were the standard format of the day for games, movies and computer software, it cost less to manufacture them and thus cost developers less to produce games on that format.  Because mini-DVDs were pretty much a specialty item, the cost to mass-produce them was significantly higher than your vanilla DVD.  Once again, Nintendo said the reasoning behind this was to protect from piracy, but let me tell you: if you can copy a DVD, you can copy a mini-DVD.

 

 

CONTROLLERS ARE TOO COMPLICATED

 

PSX

As Nintendo was gearing up for it’s successor to the Game Cube, the company decided to go on an interesting tirade:  controllers had become too complicated, there were too many buttons and, where once gamers could just pick up a controller and go, they now had to learn the controls to the game before playing it and that impeded the joy-joy process.  Nintendo would fix this problem by offering consumers a simple controller that needed no explanation, said Nintendo’s talking heads.  The actualization:  the Wii remote and nunchuk.  Now maybe it’s just me, but having a two-part wireless controller that has to be in the very specific range of a sensor bar and whose function varies depending on what game you play at any given time, that can also be used horizontally as well as vertically is a lot more complicated than, say, a controller where you use one thumb to press a d-pad or analog stick and the other thumb to press a button.  This would be the beginning of a trend where Nintendo would identify perceived problems that didn’t exist within the industry and claim to fix them.

 

 

THE TWO SCREEN HANDHELD

 

nintendo-ds-1

Nintendo’s announcement that the followup to the wildly popular Game Boy series of handhelds would feature two screens working together had gamers in a heightened sense of speculation.  What would it look like?  How would it work?  Would the screens be side by side?  The end result, the Nintendo DS (DS for Dual Screen) was an unmitigated success; but the Big N’s explanation of just why two screens were needed was a little bit… odd.  You see, in Nintendo’s mind the idea of pushing a button to access a menu or map or secondary screen within a game was just unacceptable.  They argued that, using the Legend of Zelda as an example, it took away from the gaming experience to have to hit the select button to call up the items screen and then have to push left or right on the d-pad to see the map.  It was much more logical and handy to have a second screen that displayed items or location information.  An interesting concept, yes.  A thorn in the side of gamers?  Hardly.  This was another instance where Nintendo would claim to fix a problem that just didn’t exist.

 

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT POWER, IT’S ABOUT GAMES

 

mario-is-missing-snes-box

During it’s Wii years, Nintendo would take a lot of heat for releasing an underpowered game machine, a system that just couldn’t keep up with its competitors.  N’s answer to this criticism would be that gaming was less about the power of the system and more about the quality of the games.  They then proceeded to release the Wii U, another underpowered system, repeating the games over horsepower mantra… while at the same times not releasing games for it.

 

 

TOUCH SCREEN CONTROLLER

 

203173-wii-u-tablet_header

The main selling point for Nintendo’s Wii U system was less the actual system and more about the system’s unique tablet based controller.  While controllers in the past had toyed with the idea of having some sort of interactive display (most notably the usage of VMUs on Sega’s Dreamcast), Nintendo went all in giving the Wii U a controller that could display the entire actual game on it, without the use of a TV.  An interesting and exciting idea to be sure; but once again the reasons given behind the decision making is suspect.  What if, Nintendo has said, someone wants to watch something on TV while you want to play a game?  You can play it on the actual controller without the need of a TV!  Additionally, Nintendo again brought up the problem of pesky menu screens.  It’s much more handy to have a second screen handling menus instead of having to press a button.  It keeps you in the game!  Well, I don’t know about you; but it takes me out of the game a lot more to have to divert my attention away from the game to a secondary screen I’m holding, then to find an icon, press it, and then return my attention to the main screen.  And what about when your playing your game on the controller screen without using your TV?  Doesn’t that mean there should be a secondary controller screen to your secondary screen?  If not, how important does that make the necessity of having tablet controller in the first place?  Once again, a fix for a problem that never existed in the first place.

 

 

ALL OUR CUSTOMERS ARE IDIOTS

 

aC01wKA

The most recent example of Nintendo Brand Business Wackiness comes straight from the top, Mr. Satoru Iwata.  He announced publicly that according to an internal study, modern gamers weren’t smart enough to finish level 1-1 of Super Mario Brothers.  This distain for customer intelligence had been one of those things hidden in plain sight at Nintendo for years.  Look at their early games: they’re all pick-up-and-go.  Then on the Super Famicom they started giving more in-depth tutorials when a new gameplay mechanic was introduced.  The Nintendo 64 and Game Cube would give players a chance to see where things were before levels started.  The Wii featured an actual ghost player to show you what you were suppose to do.  The 3DS offers you up an indestructible mode of play on Super Mario if you die enough, and many games offer endless tutorials because as Nintendo now openly believes, you can’t figure out things for yourself.





HCK vs the Sharp X68000

5 06 2013

Back in the late 90s when I really started to expand my horizons in import gaming, there were two unobtainable machines: the Fujitsu FM Towns and the Sharp X68000.  Both were computers.  They were desirable because they played versions of games that were only whispered about in the darkest corners of gamer gatherings.  Arcade perfect ports of Splatterhouse; more prefect versions of Gradius and Salamander that were available at the time.  They were unobtainable because they were computers, and no import store carried Japanese computers.  Heck, back then it was almost impossible to get a JIS keyboard for a Windows machine, much less get a whole system in the States;  but my friend Matt actually managed it.  He imported, at great cost, two FM Towns II computers (a model F and and MX); but only one monitor.  I actually bought the MX off him but never used it, because… you guessed it!  I didn’t have a monitor.  Ah, gamer locgic.  The desire to simply own.

Still, I had yet to play anything running on an actual X68000.  Fast forward to 2011, and I finally come into my own with the FM Towns, and finding I enjoyed the system so much that I have since gone through six FM Towns II computers, and two FM Towns Marty systems (a consolized version of the computer that you hook up to your TV).  But still, the X68000 was out of reach for me.  Prices for the machine can easily run upwards of $500 in Japan.  Plus, you have to figure in the cost of the monitor, and maybe a keyboard, control pad, joysticks… well, you get the picture.   This week, though, I had a little visitor:

 

Hello :-)

Hello 🙂

 

Yep, an X68000.  Actually and X68000 XVI to be more precise.  Oh, no, it’s not mine; I picked it up for a customer back in the States.  This X68 is just passing through.  But I was able to put it through it’s paces, and can give you all a little look at the machine.

 

_DSC6189

Back in the 90’s, companies were free to make promises that they couldn’t keep.

 

It really is a beautiful, impressive beast.  One of the reasons I always wanted to get my hands on one of these was because it’s what Capcom famously programmed their arcade games of the day on, thus Capcom arcade ports on the X68 are arcade perfect.  Plus, it was the go-to machine for Konami as well, with titles so popular, they still garner admiration from fans for their playability and music.  So it was with great anticipation that I plowed through around 20 games, waiting to be impressed.  And the funny thing is, overall I wasn’t.  Let me tell you what I found:

 

_DSC6195

 

The X68 is a very well thought out and fantastically designed machine.  It’s elegant in a way that few computers are now.  It even has a retractable steel handle on top for… carrying?  Anyway, it’s there and it’s cool.

 

The switch on the left is for changing the processor's clock speed.  Nifty!

The switch on the left is for changing the processor’s clock speed. Nifty!

 

Unless you have an HDD (listen up kids, computers didn’t always have hard disks), you have to have a disk in the machine in order to get it to do anything (the Towns is similar).  X68s take 5.25” floppies.  This, for me, is one big downside to owning an X68000, as some games can take up to 15 floppies; plus because of the fragile nature of the disks, they’re easily prone to demagnetization and data corruption, especially since they’re nearing 13 years of age!  The computer has two drives, labeled 0 and 1, the 0 being what we in the States called the A Drive at the time (or Drive 1).  You have to have a disk in here to run the game.  If a game has multiple disks, the B Disk must be in drive 1 (also called B Drive or Drive 2 in the west) in order for the program to fully load.  Interestingly enough, how the computer works it is it loads the 0 drive data fully into its memory, and then ejects the disk.  That’s crazy stuff.  One game even loaded the full contents of both drives into memory.  That’s some serious RAM for the day going on there! (boy, I sound like a computer geek right about now^^;)

 

_DSC6200

 

Interestingly enough, some games require only a control pad to be plugged in to play, and some require a control pad and keyboard.  See, the X68000 controller doesn’t have a START or SELECT button, so the spacebar on the keyboard would serve that function.  You can’t play Parodius on the X68 without a keyboard, but you can play Salamander.  Weird.  Just shows how the programming progressed over time, probably via user feedback.

 

_DSC6201

Games feature customized disk sleeves and, in some cases, branded disks.

 

 

The first game I’d like to show you is Star Wars.  I’m an old school Star Wars fan, having been there for the original trilogy and having suffered through the Atari 2600 versions of Star Wars games.  Because of the era in which it was released, I expected this to be similar to the NES Star Wars, maybe a platform adventure game.  Boy was I wrong.

 

I was completely unimpressed by the beginning of the game.  What a wonky opening crawl.  And once the opening shots of the film appeared represented by vector graphics I was almost rolling on the floor in fits of laughter.  But as the intro drug on (and it does drag on) the audio really impressed me.  Voice.  Lots of voice.  Then I actually played the game… what a treat for an old gamer like me!  Star Wars for the X68000 is a faithful expansion of the old Star Wars arcade game I played as a kid!  It really took me back to putzing around the old Bally’s Arcade in Town West Mall in Wichita, Kansas.  The levels do drag on a bit, with mission two requiring that you shoot more than 80 enemy whatevers to progress to the near impossible twitch shooting trench run.  Plus, the control with the stock joypad is really stiff.  Overall, though, I really enjoyed the game; but mostly for the audio.

 

 

Next comes one of my all time favorites, Puyo Puyo.  Having played this, I can now say I’ve experienced every version of the first game in the series.  I was quite tickled by that loading screen, where Carbuncle, the game’s mascot, psychedelically morphs into a puyo over and over and over…  The game itself remains unchanged from other ports, Puyo is Puyo.  What did strike me was how close this version of Puyo Puyo is to the PC Engine version, Puyo Puyo CD.  A great version of the game, but the FM Towns version is still king.

 

 

The final game we’ll take a look at is a Capcom classic, Final Fight.  Previously, I played the Super Nintendo version of the game, and the Sega CD’s Final Fight CD.  Plus I played it in the arcade.  Now I can say without a doubt that Capcom games on the X68 are where it’s at.  What beautiful graphics, and a great soundtrack!  Now, it’s only from memory, but I can’t tell a difference between this and the arcade version.  There were noticeable changes from the US version I caught, including Cody’s captured girlfriend being shown in the intro being battered and stripped down to her bra.  Plus, the character Poison is showing off a lot of under boob.  I’m such as a kid I would have remembered under boob.  I was that age.  But the control is superb, and the gameplay challenging and fun.  If I ever own an X68000, I will be getting this game.

 

_DSC6202

A little know law states that any system released in the 90s in Japan had to be accompanied by a Masion Ikkoku game. Look it up!

 

I think the main reason why the Sharp X68000 failed to blow me away is that I was already so familiar with so many of its showcase games.  And unfortunately, many of the games have been ported to other systems in better incarnations.  I would say your money is better spent playing the Sega Saturn or Sony Playstation versions of Parodius, Gradius, and Salamander than playing them on the Sharp.  Yes, the midi soundtracks are excellent, but graphically, the games are less than arcade perfect and sometimes suffer from flicker, something not seen in the 32-bit arcade perfect ports.   What I’ll remember most from my experience is the music, which is also an unfortunate thing because midi soundtracks for X68 games seem to be released and re-released ad infinitum, and I can get into those for a whole lot less than the cost of the system.  Still, I just barely scratched the surface of what the Sharp X68000 has to offer.  If the situation arose where the planets alined and I had the space and money for a machine offered at a bargain price, I’d happily get one.  Until then, though, I now know I can wait.





HardOffing Episode 5: Akihabara part 2

13 04 2012




You, Good Sir, Are Screwed

12 04 2012

Hey, you!  Gamer person!  Do you own a Wii or and a 3DS?  How about a PlayStation 3 and a Vita?  If you do, you’re being screwed.  Yep, I said it- screwed.  You’re taking it up the ol’ wazoo by Nintendo and Sony.  How, you ask?  Allow me to explain.

 

To play this, you had to have this.

 

Back when I was growing up, if you wanted to play an old game you had to hunt down the old system and the game you wanted to play.  If you wanted to play Bonk 3, you had to find a TurboGraphx and a copy of Bonk 3.  If you wanted to play Vectorman, you had to have a Genesis and a copy of the game.  Then, as game companies became more open (or fell apart in the case of Sega) and portable devices became more powerful, you could get an older game as part of a compilation or as a re-release on a handheld system.  Super Mario Brothers was originally released on the NES, then became available on the Game Boy Advance.  Sega Master System games could be re-purchased as Game Gear cartridges.  This was acceptable because it was the only way to get them and take them with you on the go.

Then came a watershed moment in gaming: Nintendo announced the Virtual Console for their Wii system.  Suddenly tons of old games for various systems could be played in one place without having to track them down and pay out the nose.  Sony followed suit offering downloadable PSOne Classic titles, as well as PC Engine (TurboGraphx) and Neo Geo Titles.  While the retro Wii downloads were locked to your system, Sony took it a step further allowing classic games to be transferred to the PSP handheld gaming system, so they could be taken with you.  Everything seemed well and good up to this point; but here’s where things get a little strange…

 

 

Nintendo then released the 3DS system with its own Virtual Console separate from the Virtual Console available on the Wii, and Sony released the Vita with no backwards support whatsoever, except if you live in Japan and are willing to pay them (but it doesn’t extend to their retro games line, only to select PSP titles).  Eventually, they did make Neo Geo and PC Engine downloadable titles available to play; but only after saying that they wouldn’t.

 

Here’s what I’m getting at: in the last year, it’s conceivable that if you own a Wii and a 3DS, and want to play the original Legend of Zelda, you could have purchased it once for the Nintendo Wii through its Virtual Console, and then again through the 3DS and it’s virtual console, even though both systems use the same storage media and access the same network.  Actually, if you want to take it a step further, you could have purchased Zelda on the NES, Super Famicom (if you were in Japan), Game Boy Advance, Game Cube, Wii, and 3DS.  That’s 7 times you had the opportunity to buy the same game.

 

You'd have to pay upwards of $130 to play the same Zelda game on various Nintendo consoles.

 

Sony seems to get it a little more than Nintendo; but even they are slow in implementing a feature that seems like a no-brainer from the start.  Now, I’m not the kind of guy that feels entitled to play whatever game I like on whatever system I like… these machines are their developer’s babies, so what they say goes; but gamers aren’t the ones that opened the retro gaming on modern devices door, Sony and Nintendo are.  People like to joke and say that Nintendo makes portable machines that print money, but in actuality it’s nostalgia for past games that’s really raking in the dough.

It’s 2012.  Games, by and large, are digital now, and for all intents and purposes they could be conceivably transferred from modern consoles to modern handheld gaming devices, albeit with graphical limitations.  Retro games have none of these limitations, and provide an instant library and cash flow system to new devices.  That’s where the problem lies: companies are worried that if you can easily transfer you copy of Super Mario on the Wii to your 3DS or your Spyro PSOne Classic to your Vita, they’ll lose out on your money; that is, they’ll lose out on double charging you.  Although a system of cross transfer compatibility makes sense from a consumer standpoint, from a business standpoint, companies are scared to death of this.  Maybe it speaks to how little money companies make per release.  Keep in mind that over the last 10 years, game budgets have soared.  20 years ago, it took four people to design, program, and complete a game.  Now it takes international teams.  The cost of making games is out of control, and companies have had to shift income to the cross platform sale of older titles to make ends meet.  I know it may seem inconceivable that a big company could have trouble making money when they’re releasing hundreds of titles; but it can happen…. Just look at Sega.

 

As a consumer, you should just about be fed up with this.  I know I am.  There’s no reason why we should be forced again and again to buy the same games.  I understand why we had to on purely cartridge based systems, but in this digital day and age there’s no excuse.  Its just greed.





HardOffing Episode 4: Akihabara part 1

6 04 2012




The Game Gear Book

18 03 2012

I really dig video game history, and as much as Wikipedia would like you to believe it’s not true, one of the best places to get information on retro games and systems is by reading books and magazines that were released back in the day.  That’s why I recently acquired this:

 

The Sega Game Gear Book from 1990

 

Running 84 pages, what the Sega Game Gear Book amounts to is Game Gear for Dummies, with a little Mega Drive Modem thrown in  for good measure.  Let’s take a look inside, shall we?  As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge.

 

Here we’re introduced to the Game Gear proper, as the book points out the different buttons on the machine and what they do (I told you it was Game Gear for Dummies).  From left to right the book addresses the controller, display screen, start button, and buttons I and II.  It also refers to buying an AC adaptor (or any add-on for that matter) as “powering up” the system.  Well played, Sega… well played…

 

Here we’re shown evil parents not allowing their child to play video games.  I like the fact that while dad gets to sit in a chair to watch TV, mom has to sit on the floor.  But fear not!  All’s not lost for little Sega kid there, turns out he can play his Mega Drive games on his Game Gear using the connectors found on the Game Gear’s TV tuner.  The book goes on to say you can even use it as an external monitor during professional video production, though I doubt anyone actually did that.  Actually, after having seen Japanese TV from this time period, using a Game Gear as a monitor might have been common practice.  That would actually explain a lot…

 

This is a really interesting page.  The left side has cool space ship drawings that relate to nothing while the text explains the internal differences between a Mega Drive and a Game Gear.  It goes on to explain that while Mega Drive games can’t natively be played on Game Gear hardware, Game Gear games could, in fact, be played on a Mega Drive.  That’s because the Game Gear is pretty much just a Mark III (Master System).  Sega would eventually release a converter for the Mega Drive that allowed you to play Mark III (Master System) games on it.  Nintendo would pull ahead in this arena with the Super Game Boy, allowing people to play their Game Boy games on a Super Famicom (Super Nintendo); something that would never grace the Game Gear or Mega Drive, although Sega seems to be hinting at it here.  Sega also reminds you not to mod your system.

 

I think it’s funny that 29% of the book (25 pages) is devoted to the subject of how to the game Columns works and how to play it.  Were people really that stupid back then?

 

Interesting to note is the list of upcoming Game Gear games the book contains.  Included are the titles Space Harrier 3, Fantasy Zone 3, and Alex Kidd, which were never produced.  I also like that it lists one game as “RPG”.  You can’t get any more generic than that.  It’s like someone said, “Yeah, yeah… we’ll make an RPG for it.”

The last part of the books is the coolest, for me at least (although I’ll admit that I didn’t know you could use the Game gear to play your Mega Drive games).  It details the game(s) Phantasy Star Text Adventures, a download only treat that never made it outside of Japan, although apparently is was later released as a compilation for the Mega CD.

 

The book came out right at the beginning of the Game Gear’s sad, sad life, so there’s not really any other games featured in it other than launch titles Pengo and Monico GP.  Although they would be completely useless now, Sega’s Game Gear Book did pique my interest in getting a Game Gear TV tuner and a Mega Modem.  Again, well played, Sega… well played.