Blogs

Are We Paying For Nintendo Plastic?

Something came to me the other day… If the NES Classic Mini plays SNES games, is the upcoming September 28-29th release of the SNES Classic Mini literally just the Mini NES unit rebranded and rewrapped in a different plastic shell and different software? If so, would we literally be paying £30 more for 2 SNES controllers costing £1.26 each to manufacture (bearing in mind one controller came with the Mini NES already) based on a clone from the actual SNES whilst compensating by losing the licensing on nine extra games we got on the NES Mini (21 games down from 30.. and what’s with the 20+1 yeah I get Starwing/fox 2 is on there but it’s still 21 right)? I kinda don’t get it. I mean, this is not a definite spec thing as it stands, as I have yet to see the specs of the SNES Mini, but in all likelihood if SNES games play on MNES then is it likely they would change anything other than the controllers and the looks? It may be one of the most bullshitted sales exercises of all time, riding on the crest of a million disgruntled consumers that pre-ordered the MNES (with companies like Gameseek) that never actually received a god damn thing after months of waiting… other than an apology filled with hopefulness and a refund at least (that hopefulness led to nothing and there were no further updates about remaining in the queue once refunded may I add as I was one of them). Nintendo seem to be very good at labelling shit as gold bricks I have come to notice as of late. It seems everything is in short supply that they make and trickled out in such a fashion it creates panic-buying, eBaY scalpers and the like. I know the majority of gamers out there especially in the UK despise this with a passion, yet it never seems to have any effect on Nintendo whatsoever. A perfect example of this would be the petition I put up over on change.org to ask for a continued supply of the Mini NES, which either highlights the fact I haven’t shouted about it enough with less than 600 signatories or highlights the fact that everyone knows Nintendo will pay zero attention to anything anyone ever says if the money is screaming through their doors. It’s a sorry state of affairs in a lot of respects but the Nintendo Switch was there to save their arses and give them focus away from those issues, so like good japanese ostrich’s (does japan have ostrich’s? Actually yes, there are over 450 construction companies that side-breed Ostrich for meat after a slump in their native business) they bury their heads in the good and positive stuff and let you get shafted on eBaY. It’s a far cry from Nintendo of old, Nintendo of old was all about loyalty and giving back but then in the last few years they shut the club down and go totally rogue, hitting up content creators on YouTube, forcing them to partner on a 60-40 profit share and only leaving those partners alone if they adhere to a strict set of games titles that Nintendo themselves dictate. I was quite surprised the other day when one guy said he had no idea all of this was happening so I’m guessing there are more out there that are not aware of the callous nature of Nintendo post 2015. I don’t hate Nintendo, I just dislike their methods in marketing and creating revenue. I also think that if the board used in the MSNES is the same as the MNES, there is no reason to charge an extra £20 as well as lose 9 games just to gain 1 extra controller. Hell, the MNES controllers were only £7.99 (well, if they ever had any to sell lmfao) so where does the £20 and 9 lost games come into it? Surely 16 bit isn’t 8 bits more expensive right? Just don’t get me started on fucking Amiibo’s, you bought a piece of plastic you can’t use, likely don’t want to open and even if you did, what the fuck would you do with them? You good sir really did pay for plastic. Gaming always was and should remain as such, for the masses. I would hate to be 10 years old right now and want to ask my parents for this Amiibo for Christmas. This needs to be stamped out.   It may be time for consumers to stop helping Nintendo trap a marketplace that has no real value. If you want value, go and buy a few Game & Watch boxed portable handhelds. Thanks for reading, stay frosty and ’till next time, adios and bonjour compadre!

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The Genius Of Codemasters

The Genius Of Codemasters If you look at the simplest of mass produced electronics and I do mean the simplest, then just take a minute to look at the board design, like myself, you may wonder ‘how the hell did they do that?’. Not to put myself down but some of us talk the talk and some of us walk the walk and guess I’m the one talking right now so enough said. Codemasters have always come across to me and maybe yourself(?) as being very consumer friendly. They have made great games as far back in time as I ever remember and were notorious for making some of the best Playstation games in the form of Dirt 2, Micro Machines and one of the hardest games I ever did play, Operation Flashpoint followed by Dragon Rising / Red River on the 360. Seriously, if you breathed too hard you were dead in that game. Back in the earlier days though, they produced some really cool stuff that seemed to take gaming up a notch as well as deliver some gaming tricks to not only save them a buck but us gamers too. I do of course refer to the legend that was the NES Pass-Through Cart (Plug-Thru). Now if you are unfamiliar with the Pass-Through, it was like seeing a genuine bonafide company hacking their own products, which was a very bold move back in the day, essentially putting out cartridges containing a ROM and utilising all the extra gubbins from another cart in your collection, which in turn kept production costs down and passed a saving onto you the consumer of the gaming variety. It was a really cool outlook on the gaming industry and rather visionary at the time from a couple of ‘Darling’ brothers that once worked for Mastertronic making simple Spectrum puzzlers and Dizzy (which I can’t class in the same league). Now although the Pass-Through Cartridges were seen as acceptable, Nintendo really took issue to the Game Genie in 1990, which utilised the same ‘pass’ technique to deliver unlimited cheat-codes into games and as ‘Galoob’ released these throughout the US, that’s who they sued, which was a little harsh considering it was offered as a Nintendo officially branded product but rejected (typical Nin). Anyways, Nintendo lost that battle at a cost of $15 million plus a year’s court fees so decided to start adding checksum technology into their games which was bypassed eventually. All this time, Sega had embraced the Game Genie with just one stipulation – Don’t cheat a story game and we’re ‘ok’.   $15 million in 1991 wow that’s $28,719,111 in 2017 jeez that must have stung. One of the games that came out using that Pass-Through technology was Micro-Machines, a veritable tabletop adventure that slung itself into chicken coops, workshops, building sites and just about anywhere else you can imagine. In Micro-Machines v4 when Codemasters essentially took the game back to it’s roots there were over 700 cars to choose from, which shows how above and beyond Codemasters really did go to excel at games (as well as making up mock reviews for themselves). The strategy worked though and as the money came in, Codemasters dropped the lower budget titles in favour of AA and AAA games, most notably the F1 driver series but hell it’s nice to see them go back to their roots by releasing a new Micro-Machines on all major platforms in April 2017, so look out for that one. It all makes you wonder with a resurgence of 8/16/32 bit games whether Codemasters will consider going back over more old ground. If you look at a list of their previous games for example, they had some fantastic games that could be re-developed for the VR world or newer generation consoles with Dizzy, Ghost Hunters and 3D Starfighter or how about Firehawk? Right now though guys and gal’s it’s exciting enough to see the Micro’s coming back on the scene so if you haven’t checked out the video, you can see it below. Short and sweet yes but looks a lot of fun. Do you have any fond memories about Codemaster products or games? If so, drop us a comment and hey if you speaka da eenglish maybe you can do us a post so don’t be shy (we can edit it) – if you don’t at least talk the talk then you’re talent may be wasted. Also don’t forget to grab yourself a Sinclair Vega+ if nostalgia takes a grip and you want to head back to Dizzying heights with the old classic Spectrum games. Adios. Fun Facts Codemasters have been part owned by Reliance Entertainment who are massive in Hollywood, funding various films and are closely linked with Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment. The Game Genie was originally labelled as the Power Pak. In 2008 Codemasters founders ‘the Darling Brothers’ were named in the Queen’s list of CBE’s (Commanders of the Order of the British Empire) for their contribution to the gaming industry. Codemasters is amongst the oldest UK gaming studio’s still in existence and are an indie studio. Now check out the new Micro Machines labelled up for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows

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Mini NES A Classic Mistake?

Mini NES A Classic Mistake? When Nintendo first started making cards, I’m presuming they wanted to sell as many packs as possible. Like any business that will thrive, this is just good business sense, however, one could wonder if there is anything common between the sense they showed back then and the way it is dealing with it’s products in today’s market. The Nintendo Classic Mini was supposed to be a celebration and a look back at all the games that made Nintendo the gaming company it trades as today, however on November 11th this year, I witnessed first-hand just how badly the ‘NES Mini’ has been handled by Nintendo. Since the boom of social media, we have seen platforms develop and expand across a huge range of applications and novelties. Twitter brought us the hashtag, Facebook moved into marketplace selling and Reddit seems to have become a mod paradise. Along this road, clubs are formed and communities are built as people discuss topics of similar interest across the globe. One such ‘head’ that has grown over the last few year’s is the ‘#retrogaming’ community and I have watched this develop as people share their fond memories of all their yesteryear gaming memories. I pre-ordered two of the Mini NES, one for myself and one for a charity event giveaway at very different times on the run-up to release date and was looking forward to getting my grubby little mits on a console that finally played some of Nintendo’s greatest classic’s using HDMI. Lord know’s it was overdue. My first pre-order was placed with Gameseek, mainly due to a very early competitive price laid down on their website the night the console was publically announced. I placed my order around 8-10 weeks before the unit’s release. The second order (Game.co.uk) was placed a mere four weeks before release as we began collating item’s we could giveaway to one lucky winner who donated over £10 to a young girl with cancer. I thought it was rather fitting to put some new old technology in there, hoping it would help boost the wonderful prizes donated by our Twitter friends. It became apparent very early on, that pre-orders were in high demand as site after site closed down their pre-orders which had potentially been filled. It was an astounding result and really cemented what a lot of us already knew. Retrogaming was becoming huge globally. What none of us could foresee, was what was to happen next. November 11th came around finally, but there were no packages to be seen so I jumped on Gameseek.co.uk to check my order and noticed it still said it was on pre-order status. Now bearing in mind, I had paid in full more than two month earlier, I rang them to find out what was going on. “unfortunately we have received a very limited amount of our initial 1000 unit’s ordered. It appears Nintendo cannot meet demand and are sending out the units in waves. We are dispatching units on a first come first served basis” When I asked the manager at Gameseek how many were received in the first wave, I was told 125 out of 1000. So essentially, 875 pre-ordered units out of 1000 or possibly 875 upset gamers on release. That is simply disgraceful. Now I realise Gameseek can’t be held responsible for non-delivery here and their distributor wants to distribute too but I simply cannot understand how Nintendo can blatantly advertise and design a console and then trip up with production levels and distribution. Through Gameseek alone, if everyone simply cancelled and gave up, that is £52,491 in combined lost revenue. Even if we take just 50% of that amount for Nintendo, with just one single small website they have lost £25K. Now I wonder how many similar stories we would hear if we had the figures available to draw up lost revenue across the entire regional area’s that this has happened…. Needless to point out Nintendo’s weak Wii U sales and yet here they are simply throwing potential sales down the drain due to a completely botched campaign. Has the success of the Pokemon application fried their tiny circuits? Does somebodies brain need re-flashing? What’s going on? When are Nintendo going to deliver a console that isn’t in ridiculously short supply? Even the Playstation 2 debacle wasn’t nearly as poorly delivered as this Ninten’Doh mini disaster (thanks for the pun LA). Then I look at the size of the box of the one that finally arrived (via Game) and think ‘how many billions of them would fit on one pallet compared to Xbox One’. Come on Nintendo step your game up, you are making the chinese look better than the Japanese, it’s a joke! What was supposed to be a celebration of 3 decades of gaming has become a numbing silence and an empty void. Makes me want to throw some barrels.

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Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review Play Expo Manchester has always been right around the corner for me, so it always tends to feel like I’m cheating when attending, especially when the NEC in Birmingham hosts other larger events which we frequent. However, these other larger events, have a rather small retro-gaming section, if any at all, so Play always feels a little different to most other expo’s. Now one of the things I have noticed over the years, is that Play Manchester has had it’s hits and misses when it comes to the size of the event, however, I never knew why this was until a recent press release essentially told me I had attended every single event. I had absolutely no idea that was the case, so it’s easy to see why it had taken the organisers a few years to balance out the event into a sustainable size. In 2014, we saw a huge rise in the sections displayed in Play, with the introduction of film and TV being present. I thought it was totally awesome that they had diversified to get possibly either a larger crowd, a greater offering of choices or both, so I was quite shocked to see that it had taken rather a back seat (if there was any there whatsoever).   2016 was the year of Tomb-raider feat. Lara Croft at Play, quite simply due to it having it’s 20th Anniversary since Eidos released the game onto the first Playstation and there was quite a buzz that a lot of the original development team along with Nathalie Cook (one of the 4 original Lara Croft models) would be attending. The buzz was brought about due to a lot of the staff having not seen each other in the majority of time since the game’s initial release, due to some moving on to new projects with other teams. Also, there was a gaming section dedicated to every iteration of the game which was great to see, along with a photo-shoot area with Nathalie herself adjacent. With a huge selection of pin-ball and original arcade machines, as well as a huge sit-down area full of some of the first consoles and PC’s, there was plenty for the retro-gaming community to sink their teeth into. As well as an area for the retro, there was also a Minecraft area, a board-game area and plenty of gaming and memorabilia stands to peruse at your leisure, which has become quite the accepted norm towards the back of the facility in recent years. Towards the front we had some great indie titles (most notably ‘Snake Pass’ by Sumo Digital) along with several photo booth’s and VR area’s to test out the latest games and concepts. There was even a Redbull stage running a competition near the bar area. The only bar area actually, which was a little strange compared to recent years, as the queues did get a little silly in the early afternoon. Then of course there was Cosplay which was just left of the entrance and it seemed there was some extra-ordinary effort put into some of the costumes this year and way more technical than it’s predecessors.   Now I haven’t really met a great deal of people at Play Manchester in the past, however this year due to making more and more similar minded Twitter friends, we had an awesome time hooking up on a social level. Some years I have wondered about on my own or with just 1 friend but this year, there were between six and ten people at times (mainly at the bar haha) but a lot of these I had never met before and had only chatted with, so I would have to say that it was my favourite year just for that reason alone. Bashing some retro classics is all fair and well but it’s pretty cool when others send you some pictures of yourself actually playing a game or having fun, rather than being behind the camera all the time. It also raised spirits as we meandered between our favourite section with more eyes than they have camera’s in a supermarket. What really topped off the event, apart from listening to the Tomb-raider developers in a stage session, was nipping out of the press area where they sat catching up as a full team and grabbing a pretty good looking copy of the game and dashing back in to see if I could get it signed whilst they remained together. Yes they all signed it and here is the proof.   As usual it was all over too soon for us gamer types but I came away feeling we had achieved what the event was created for. I’m just never a fan of those Monday morning reality blues. Play Expo Manchester 2016 was a great event and I’m proud to have both attended every year from it’s birth and to have met such a great amount of truly solid gamers. I am sure it will not be our last and expect an even larger group from Twitter to form next year. A truly solid performance and a 9/10 for the event. Check out our highlight pictures here.  

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Draw Me A Line – A Story About My Life In Gaming

Draw Me A Line – By Neil Dee Fuck adding pictures, I’m going old-school so google them or send me your fax number for me to ignore. Besides, I haven’t learnt to make one of those monotonous 25 page galleries with 18 words on each. So sue me. I would love to say this was a retro-gaming post but in reality, it’s more of a post about gaming. When you have been in the gaming sector for over 30 years, it’s easy to blur the entire thing into one. In this modern age of consoles and PC with ultra-modern graphics compared to (or replicating) the 8-Bit/16-bit era, it’s more a case of keep buying what you buy. Now make no mistake, I too, go backwards with my console purchases. I never owned a Dragon Amiga Spectrum 64K (now that would make a great PC). Far from it, I owned a second-hand Atari. When I think of that, I ask myself whether I was truly a gamer at all. I mean, realistically, all I ever wanted was a console I could both enjoy and fit in with… with all the other guys who were having conversations about them in school. Did that make me a gamer? Well the answer really lies in the era, nobody was REALLY a gamer as it was the start of the cycle that led to today. If you broke this down into ‘did you have an Atari’ Yes ‘did you have a NES or SNES’ Yes and it fails past the N64 and totally fails on the PC side, as I never owned a Spectrum, Amstrad or Commodore 64, the best I ever had in PC gaming was a Vic 20 which was obviously useless, looking back. To put that Vic 20 into today’s perspective, I owned a 3D printed plastic version of the C64. In my opinion, if you bought one now, you would be a retro-fool. Now, back when I was a wee laddie, full of spunk and vinegar like most young men, I met the ultimate console… a girl. I say ultimate because you could fool around way more than with the consoles of my generation, so I got rid of the lot and went into that sector, and it is a sector and rather a small part of your life in reflection. Girls (like consoles or boys, if you are a girl or homesexual) tend to get boring when you are younger. Next thing you know, she’s pregnant, you need money and your entire outlook changes (and I’m not talking email addresses). I followed this exact route. Not a pot to piss in for years, until one day, those kids weren’t kids anymore. The financial strain had eased and suddenly I had money to spend. When time suddenly becomes favourable again (and trust me, I was a DJ at this point so had less time than most 9-5’ers) you find yourself soul-searching what to do next. It’s an alien in your world and you have no idea what to do. At that point the hobbyist in you, digs down and remembers where you left off and creates a gamer, artist, film buff or whatever. It’s pretty simple I guess, unlike getting all those consoles back, that you owned once. Welcome to the retro-gaming phenomena. Now lucky for some young-lings, they now have social media to learn about it and get into retro-gaming quite quickly. Even without money, any basic laptop on it’s last legs will allow an emulator to run 8 or 16 bit. Plus you have YouTube and other such area’s to envelop or watch, which can grow your passion. Now here lieth the difference. Can you imagine with no eBaY or similar, no YouTube, no Amazon… no Facebook, Twitter, Reddit… where the fuck we would get… maybe a pad if ours broke? The only answer available to us in that era would be either a second-hand shop or a friend or his/hers, maybe a new buy extra from the original supplier at extra cost. It was tragic let me tell you that. These days, the world is not only your oyster, but so is the market to buy, import, repair, restore or modify ANY console or PC of your choosing. Now how lucky do you feel compared to the kid with the broken Atari controller? Unfortunately, it grew with that kid that had the broken controller too. I now lie in a demographic that re-bought all of those consoles and PC’s whether I owned them or not. Then there’s everything N64 forward and the Kickstarter or INDIGOGO campaigns. I have more money and a better job so I ask you where do I stop buying? It gives an addictive buzz too. One that you younger generation cannot fully understand. I can sit on Twitter and have most of the consoles or PC’s or both EVER MADE (mainstream). Maybe next I buy myself a slice of a different Pi unlike the pie that created my family back when twiddling with knob’s was a job she knew better than me. Where does it end? One thing is for sure, this is a demographic you sorely want to be part of and maybe one day you will be. The question is, did you start it with pie or with Pi? I figure at my current rate of video’s, it would take me until 326 years of age to produce a video for every game, console, accessory or Dev-kit to get it’s own video. Fuck that shit, I’m up for a beer and some pie.

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Atari And Commodore To Hook Up With Sinclair?

Atari And Commodore To Hook Up With Sinclair? Retro gaming went total rumour-ville here at GaminGuys recently when Sinclair, master’s of the 1980’s and also Indiegogo campaigns with the Vega and Vega+, hinted that Atari are in a collaboration with them to develop (or is it re-develop?) a handheld console. Did I also mention Commodore? After an amazing 2hr 37min pod-cast, raw recording with Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel (80’s gaming legend programmer) hinting that Atari (or at least the licensee’s of Atari these days) and Commodore may be hooking up with the ‘new’ Sinclair team on a similar project to Sinclair’s own. Atari QL was Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel’s strongest point, if you can even remember it. Crazy as it may seem for the era, but his first actual release was at the age of 14. Jump forward to 2016, we interview him on behalf of Sinclair (thanks to their PR lady Suzanne) after being the only people allowed to officially video-record the factory tour at SMS Electronics around the Stoke area, for the Vega. What a tour. Now we have Rick Dickinson that designed the QL designing the Vega Plus, possibly aided by a slight change in management, we could be seeing a retro alignment involving mobile, handheld and it seems more than one project is in the queue. Now essentially, I was recording the ‘prelude’ to the pod-cast, That little meet and greet you need to do before the polished article. We hit a point where we were chatting about the ‘acorn Eco-net’ and then all of a sudden we seemed to have been informed that not only Atari are coming via the same route but also the Commodore 64 (it better not be the Vic 20, that thing was crap with just 3.5K memory). It seems the trials have been watched very closely by several other interested retro-parties and deals are under way to complete the necessary hardware modifications to (dare I say ‘universalise’ a retro-console hand-held standard or) adjust to suit each interested party on a campaign by campaign basis. There is no doubt that to see more retro-branded consoles brought forward to suit the modern gamer has a crowd behind the funding, however, with other names such as JXD covering multiple emulated platforms, it does beg the question ‘will all other interested parties swim in the same hot pool’?               You can listen to our edited pod-cast here but don’t expect to hear the prelude as we do not publish general chat before our guests are notified we are recording.

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Carpe Diem

I’m in a world of shit. Life can be so painful, full of misery, cancer and cancer. In the meantime between being sympathetic to our very existence, feeling sorry for ourselves and generally dying, how about we play some games to pass the time? Sound fun to you? Life does suck, if you ever look at the big picture, it’s the truth, hence why we look at the smaller picture, the one we can handle. Sat there thinking about it for five minutes, I realised in the same time I could have un-boxed a SNES. Really? Why do I think on these levels? Now I’m not depressed whatsoever, I’m just a realist, there are no masks when it comes to pain, fun, life. I’m just one of those guys that says exactly what it is – like, all the time.I was stabbed twice a number of years ago, chased the guy down the road spurting blood 2ft out of my neck, that’s just how it can be sometimes. Roll with the bad, roll with the good. The difference between most people like myself and you, is that I see so much potential and class in you. I wonder at your possibilities, wonder what you will do next, what adventures you will go on, what you will find today, something I can never do for myself. What I do is clinical, even though I am self-aware, you will find it’s just not me and not what interests me.You interest me, human behaviour in general does. I love it when you share your experiences of new things, new subjects, new games. I love. So before you feel all alone or sit there wondering what to do next, remember, I am counting on you to give me inspiration, because that’s just what you do. Make it interesting, inviting and exemplary. Seize the day or have a seizure, only you can decide.. There’s been worse at sea.  

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An Era In A Gamers Life

An Era In A Gamers Life My uncle was Nintendo 64 all the way. The only things I remember was playing Mario 64 and pulling out a tooth that was loose at the age of 8 and getting 1.2 euros the next morning as i was in Holland. Honestly that is all I remember. I have grown up with a step-dad most of my life, however, my best memories of gaming are with my step-dad and my brothers. My first gaming experience was with my real dad and it all started with SNES. It was a 3 bed 1 bath house. We used to make robot wars figures out of K’nex, we loved it, so much fun. We ended up on Mini-clip (you know, that website where you can play online) playing the same game as we used to build. It was so bloody good and really helped me feel like we bonded as a family, even though the family was split in half. Yep a split couple and a cast-off son, not the only one and being high-function autism, was hard. Soon, we had a house move from Wythenshawe to Cadishead, where I live now. A big upheaval, but my older brother and myself used to play SNES on an old wooden TV, back in the days before these fancy television remote’s, offering each other inspiration. A memory I hold dear to my heart. It was around that time my half-brother was the first person to ever complete Super Mario World. Damn, I think all the guys in our house were pretty jealous that day. Pretty soon after that, my brother got the Gameboy Colour and PS1, unfortunately, his temper got the better of him and the GBC was promptly launched at his bed and ended up with a line down the centre of the screen. Idiot boy. No idea what it hit, weird. Then came Cabela’s Bass Fishing. OMG Cabela used to make the best games for that side of the coin (mainly for Canada only releases). Another bonding exercise with an older brother (editor’s note: I have downloaded every single Cabela fishing & hunting game ever made even the Canadian only releases, one of them took me 6 months on UTorrent). Do you remember the days where Johnny Bravo, Courage the cowardly dog, Dexter’s laboratory and Cow and Chicken were the main cartoons? well for me they were the best days of all in gaming and no, I never watched power-puff girls honest your honour. Those were the days where PS1 was the go-to console.Oh how I miss, spending every school night playing Rayman or Crash Bandicoot, learning the cheat codes to skip levels and the stupid noise the Tiki guy did. I don’t think modern games will ever hold the same nostalgia as carefully prising a cardboard box open to keep it intact. Hell, even back in the 360 era, (RIP on last week’s announcement) cases would bounce off the walls unscathed from 2006. Those were the days you had to take care of the games and take care of each other. Something has been lost. We likely can’t put our finger on what it actually is, other than attention. It was more than that, a sense of belonging to some crazy ride, like the staff at Atari had. Just something. So if you are reading this blog, do yourself and your family a favour. Drag out an old console you loved or even buy one, if you no longer have your favourite… and spend some time to nip round your brother or sister’s and say ‘hey kidda look what I’ve got’. You’ll make some more precious memories and that is an era in a gamers life.  

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The Better Build

The Better Build I’ve snapped the corner off an Atari 2600 whilst A/V modding it and the drill-bit got stuck, oops. Changed out the cartridge port on a couple of NES last year and one day I’ll get round to A/V modding one of my Intellivision. I’ve customised more Xbox 360 into Jtag’s than I probably have repaired for RROD. I have been hands on with pretty much every type of console or home computer going, at some point in my life, but last week I opened a Playstation 4 for the first time to do a repair and it had me slightly worried over the build quality. Plastics in the olden days were brutally tough, probably because they could get away with slinging any old thing they liked into the mix, but as the planet became more self-conscious towards the environment, certain chemicals and processes were banished as environmentally unfriendly. When opening a Playstation 4, compared to the Xbox One, once past marvelling how compact the innards were, I soon realised the truth. The case is about as strong as a mobile-phone case, whilst the Xbox One is like a phone case with a guerilla case wrapped around it. Now a lot of you may not have opened up a Playstation 4 but trust me when I say, it would barely offer any kind of protection if dropped on it’s arse. It’s very compact for sure and that is the first thing that hits you, quickly followed by ‘where is the space for ventilation’ and ‘hold on, GDDR5 gets pretty hot’. It seems to hold one of the traits of the original phat Xbox 360 and if you look really closely and squint, you will likely see a Tefal stamp where it slowly cooks itself to death. It’s piss poor workmanship and I’m not just saying that as a bigger Xbox fan, (bigger being the word for sure) it really is. Now I’m not saying that the PS4 WILL cook itself to death, I mean look at the PS2 Slim, that thing rocked and had zero issues, however it’s easy enough to say that about the PS2 around 10 years later. My bigger concern is the actual plastic surrounding the console. It seems almost flexible. Now it’s not like it has a lot to do, other than look pretty under a TV, but it’s also not really the kind of device I would say is portable. Look up ‘Sony Walk-man’ those things were bloody indestructible unless you opened the tape draw at which point they promptly exploded like a scene from Mission Impossible. I wouldn’t like to move a PS4 around too much that’s for sure and I guess they aren’t supposed to be practical or portable. I mean, that’s why they made the PSP and Vita right? It just seems a bit of a shame that they never put build quality first with the PS4. I mean, this is your money we are talking about here. You wouldn’t buy a plastic car would you? Well, not yet at least. Not if the thing was a ‘little bit flexy’. It’s because I have been inside an Xbox One this subject came up. I mean, they use metal and everything. That console actually has a chassis. See, car, chassis, console. Anyways I’ll see you soon, probably on a motorway, wobbling from side to side in your plastic car. Remember to give us a wave.

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Silent Hill.. The Game That Nightmares Are Made Of

In late January of 1999, Japanese developers, Konami would release a brand new survival horror game for the Sony PlayStation that would completely redefine the genre. Silent Hill was born. I was in my late teens when Silent Hill was released to the UK market and by this time, I was already an avid fan of the PlayStation and I could happily say that I was also a fan of a good scary, horror game. I’d accumulated a bit of a collection by ’99 and already in my stack were a few good horror titles. The horror/puzzler “D”, EA’s gory sci-fi ‘Over Blood’ and of course Capcom’s fantastic ‘Resident Evil 1 & 2’. So when I first saw an advertisement for Silent hill in the back of either a magazine or comic book it immediately caught my eye. I remember thinking how creepy it looked, more than scary, I mean, it had a picture of a corpse on the poster and the bloody remains of… whatever that was on it, but it was what it said that stuck with me, about passing between our world and a demonic one, being on the edge of madness and loosing your mind. Even the title, “Silent Hill” sounded creepy. From the first time read this, I knew this one was going to be a top end psychological, horror story. It was long awaited, but when I finally got my hands on my own copy of Silent Hill, I have to admit that it took me a little while to get in to it. The reason for this is a very simple one, this game exudes atmosphere. It’s not a game that you can simply pick up and play at any time with the lights, sounds and commotion of the outside world pouring in around you. No, this is a game that commands your undivided attention. A game to get lost in. From the moment you begin to hear the eerie soundtrack of the title screen and watch that first opening scene, you begin to understand why you want to play this one on your own with the lights off, because unlike a lot of survival games before, Silent Hill isn’t so much of your regular ‘Here’s your gun, go shoot a zombie in the face’ action game. You have to live the game very cleverly through the eyes of your hero and his story in an empty derelict world and by already creating that locked away feeling, you’re only adding to ample amount of spine chilling atmosphere. All this may have seemed like a lot of faffing about just to play a video game but every now and then one comes along that deserves a pampering. This is one of them games. In the game you play as the hero character, Harold “Harry” Mason who has driven to Silent Hill seemingly on instinct, whilst on vacation with his 7 year old adopted daughter, Cheryl, asleep in the passenger side next to him, both recently berieved of the mother and wife, to illness, Harold hasn’t quite come to terms with it yet as the story unfolds. Upon entering Silent Hill, they are passed by a motorcycle police officer yet further along the road, you see the motorcycle abandoned on the side of the road with no sign of the cop. Taking his eye off the road for a second, an unrecognisable figure walks out in front of Mason’s car, forcing a crash and Mason is knocked out. When he awakens, he immediately turns to check if his daughter Cheryl is OK but she has vanished. This is where you begin, Harry must find his daughter in what looks like a ghost town thick with fog tripping upon a mysterious cult, who he finds out, are trying to resurrect an evil deity they worship, whilst being thrown between what seems like the real world and the burning world of purgatory. On your journey, you are to discover the story behind Silent Hill. What has gone on that has left so many doors to other worlds open and so many twisted souls behind? Do you find Cheryl and is she who you think she is? Add in a few choice locations to roam around in, for example an empty hospital and a derelict amusement park and you’ve got yourself a classic scare-fest, not forgetting this guy popping from time to time. you know, just to keep you on your toes… This is definitely one of my all time favourite horror titles. This is a game that doesn’t age badly at all. It may be a good 17 years old now, but it hasn’t lost any of it’s appeal to me. The graphic aren’t as sharp as a modern console, this is true, but as I’ve said, it’s the atmosphere that makes this game and Silent Hill has it in abundance. Ten minutes alone with this game and you’ll be screaming for a new pair of underpants like a champion.

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