Why I do my retro gaming on emulators while still collecting original hardware

It’s quite simple really gaming should be platform agnostic and above all it should be about enjoying the games we play. I love owning original physical hardware in almost all cases. For me it’s partially about owning a piece of history. There is something amazing about having a thing sitting in your house that existed in the past. It connects me to the history of gaming and I enjoy that very much. But there is another side to it.

I like to own physical things  because it takes me back in time. I was born in 1982. This means I grew up in a world that had digital goods released on physical platforms. We called it the digital age back then. Of course by today’s standards some might refer to it as the stone age, with good reason.

Collecting and gaming are two different things. You see as a toy collector I absolutely must play with my toys. I am not a shelf collector. I paid hundreds of dollars for a boxed original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Zord set only to open the  box and assemble the team. I have to touch the toys I own.

This is not necessarily the case for video games.

Even when I was a kid I was a PC gamer. If I had to rank my gaming priorities it was arcade first, PC second, console distant third. The reason was simple. Even back then you could trade games with a friend and if you knew what you were doing it was easy to make copies of games (even if it was sometimes shady to do so) and swap those with others. We treated the software as just that, an intangible digital program we could erase and replace at will as needed. Games were disposable. If you wanted to save it for good you made a hard copy. In the early days it was tape or floppy disk, later it was CD, then DVD-ROM. By the time hard drives and flash memory came on the scene PC gamers like myself were decades into moving digital files from one format to the next. Each time we bought a new computer we immediately went through the painstaking process of getting our software ported over.

Once emulation came along most PC gamers didn’t bat an eye. For those writing the software that made emulation possible it was about preserving the specs, the software and the knowledge. For those of us who had a computer hungry for software we just needed to feed our PC’s as much new software as we could get our hands on. For me, I didn’t see a rom set of Super NES games as digital copies of Super Nintendo games, I saw them as PC software I had to have. Games I had to play.

Every single PC gamer on the planet has done their share of what could be considered piracy. It’s what we do. Sometimes we find legal ways or gray areas to accomplish our end goal but in the end it’s all about selfishly hoarding as much electronic interactive entertainment as we can muster.

Now every console loyalist is going to scream piracy or authenticity if you say you game using emulation. Sure let them cry all day long. There are those who try to claim owning a physical copy justifies or allows for the having a digital  back up. Technically under the DMCA yes that is true. But not entirely. Then there are those who say it’s only okay if you rip the rom yourself. This is not entirely accurate either.

The worst is when you have those who say you’re better off buying physical copies of retro games because it supports the publishers. Um no, if I buy a used copy of Contra on the NES that money is going into the hands of John Doe not anyone that had anything to do with the creation of said game.

Those same loyalists might say maybe it’s about supporting  your local game store. Again nope. I can buy whatever they have for sale sure, but at the same time it is their responsibility to provide a product I am willing to buy at a price I am comfortable with.

For me I will always prefer gaming on my PC. I see playing Super NES Roms using an emulator as the same as playing the PC version of certain games. And yes even though I do have a physical copy of Mortal Kombat on Genesis that hasn’t stopped me from purchasing the PC version fro GoG.com, on top of purchasing the digital version of Mortal Kombat Kollection on PS3. And that is on top of buying Midways Arcade Treasures physical copies for both the PS2 and GameCube.

At the end of the day I will always be a PC gamer and a console collector. I think it is perfectly acceptable to be both as far as I am concerned they are one and the same. Stay cool.

Why video games have always been a part of my identity and self worth

I’ve always been a gamer. Some of my earliest childhood memories are playing video games with my family. Now when I say gamer I do go beyond just video games and include  board games, card games, tabletop games, role playing games and other types of games. I love gaming as an activity. But above all I thoroughly enjoy playing video games.

I’ve always struggled with my self identity. I’ve gone through phases where I thought I was a b-boy, artist, musician, DJ, photographer, writer, filmmaker and even gardener. Even before I had a word in my head for transgender I knew there was one aspect of my identity I never questioned, I was a gamer first and foremost.

It took me a while to realize the type of gamer I truly am. I say this because I don’t want to stereotype based on gender but I’ve come to realize I am transgender and I now know that by and large the games I enjoy are very much the types of games stereotypically enjoyed by females. I’ve thought maybe I was a retro gamer but then every once in a while a modern game would come along and get me excited. I thought maybe it was cinematic games I despised and then I would play a game that sucked me into the world depicted in ways even the most engaging book couldn’t.

I’ve always known I was drawn primarily towards Nintendo. Now that isn’t to say if you like Nintendo it makes you gay, or you are a girl. In fact I know plenty of cisgender straight males who love Nintendo. It also doesn’t feel fair to say that I only like the more feminine games in the companies library. What I can safely say is if I paired it down to the core, I could make a broad statement that I am a transgender gamer who prefers fun, lighthearted games, sometimes with a good story other times just good game play and other times chock full of action.

I think it’s safer to say I am a gamer who enjoys games that make me happy. I have always noticed when it comes to entertainment from music, television, books and even video games, with a few exceptions, I have always found myself attracted to things typically associated with feminism. That’s not to say that everyone who enjoys the same games I find myself enjoying is female, trans, gay or something similar. I think it just means that as I flesh out my identity I discover more about myself in the things I like. It helps me refine the things in my life I have struggled to define accurately in the past.

Why bring this up now? Why draw attention to it? Frankly, the more I learn about myself the easier it becomes for me to open up to people. It’s not like if someone asks me what type of games I enjoy I will say gay games. What I might say though is I am a trans gamer and leave it at that. Upon further examination I might just say play video games and not make it such a large part of my identity. Stay cool.

 

Why Minecraft works as the best fantasy video game ever created

I’ve spent the last 6 years digging deep into the world of Minecraft on my PS4. It is by far the game I have played the most on the console. I also own the game on my Android phone, tablet, PS4, PS3, Wii U and PC (Windows 10 and Java versions). Needless to say I love this game. I have poured countless hours into each version. I even have the single player campaign known as Story Mode.

It didn’t take long for me to discover what I love so much about the game. In creative mode I treat is like a game of Sim City where I get to make my own rules. I also do “God mode” where I start with a completely flat world of just bedrock and build my own solar system with constellations, planets and the like. I have also been known to make a flat world that I create my own biomes, some based on real places others fantasy versions.

There is more to the game than creative. I also play the game as an RPG in survival mode. In this style of game play I seek level up my character, fight monsters and build a dungeon/castle to store my treasures.

But the limitless possibilities of the game also afford me another game play mode. I sometimes set up a map in Survival Mode that I play my own little version of Harvest Moon. I tend to clear a space to build a tiny little farm and then I proceed to live a virtual life in game.

In the six years I have also discovered another form of game play, also in survival mode. I call this my own version of The Sims. In this style of play I will create a small suburb complete with streets, businesses, taverns and the like and populate it with Villagers. Then proceed to simulate my own virtual sim world where I go to the store, swim in the pool and take road trips.

The game might be designed to be a light version of “My First RPG” or it could be seen as a comprehensive substitute to “LEGO” building, but if you use a little imagination and apply yourself, while also forgoing a social life, you can transform the game into so much more.

For me, it’s become my whole virtual world. Oh sure I still play the real Sims 3, paid all that money for the game and expansion packs ya know. I also enjoy a fully fleshed out hard core RPG like Diablo 3, Final Fantasy 15 or even Dragon Age. And I do in fact own at least one version of Harvest Moon and more than one LEGO game. Yet, I continue to return to Minecraft day in and day out.

After spending time watching the PS5 reveal recently I think I might take a break from Minecraft and allow myself the opportunity to enjoy some of the other games I have in my actually vast video game library that includes nearly 1000 games.

The long journey of how I went from hating Sony Playstation to becoming a brand loyalist

I make it no secret that I love the Sony Playstation family of consumer video game products. I currently have, in some form or another, every single home console they have ever released. I have already decided I wish to pre-order a PS5 and pick it up on launch day as the excitement of doing so has boiled up to epic proportions.

I hadn’t always been this way. There was a time when I actively hated Playstation. To the point I swore even if I ever did buy one of their machines I would make sure I only bought it used, second hand not from a re-seller like GameStop to guarantee that Sony didn’t get a single penny of my hard earned money. Settle in this is a long road.

But where did that level of animosity come from? How bad did it get? And more importantly, when did it subside being replaced with a new-found passion for the same product line?

I was so anti-Playstation I went out of my way to get an HD-DVD player for everyone I could because I desperately wanted that format to beat Blu Ray Disc. Only reason was because BRD benefited Playstation. Let me be clear. I lost friends, actual friends, over my utter hatred for Playstation. It was a mess. Of course, so was I but that’s a story for another day.

To understand my transformation you have to go back to the very beginning.

The Early Years- Atari clones to Nintendo

My first game console was nothing special. It was just a Coleco Gemini. Basically a knock off Atari 2600 VCS that was made by Coleco. No it was NOT a Coleco Vision with the Atari adapter it could ONLY play Atari 2600 games but it looked nothing like an Atari.

Here is a picture from Google of what the monstrosity looked like.

Coleco

What this did was introduced me to the world of gaming right away without a notion of brand loyalty. I knew I had an Atari. I knew it played Atari games. I was too young to understand what it actually was or how it came into existence. I didn’t learn that until years later.

Around this time my cousins got a home computer, it was one of those Apple II computers. I have no idea which specific model it was, I didn’t know enough about computers then and my faded memories are not useful.

All I do know is they played really lousy edutainment games because that was all they could get for free basically.

In an effort to condense the rest let me hit some of the highlights. In 1988 we picked up a Nintendo Entertainment System as a family.

I had to share this with my sisters. Of course I had a fondness for Nintendo games but I grew to despise the hardware as mine was like most, never worked as intended. That fueled my disdain for that product line.

The Sega Years

Then in 1994 at age 12 my parents gave me a brand new Sega Genesis Model 2 bundled with Sonic 2 for my birthday. It was the best day ever. I was so happy to have a console that just, worked. I also noticed, quickly, how it had more in common with those old Atari consoles than Nintendo.

At least in terms of aesthetic design, placement of the cartridges even the design of the carts them selves. Not to mention the revelation that the controller ports were the same making them interchangeable.

Yes I tried playing MK2 on my Sega using an actual Atari 2600 joystick. In case you are calling BS because of the above mentioned Gemini.

We got rid of that thing early on shortly after getting the Nintendo and I had picked up a used Atari from a Goodwill store around 1992 or 1993. Anyways I quickly connected Atari and Sega in my mind which facilitated this bond of emotions tying them to my early childhood development.

This is only compounded by my fascination with X-Men which had a strong presence on Sega consoles on top of my absolute love of video arcades. Sega, like Atari before it, had this big arcade following on it so I equated them with the video arcade experience.

Now this is where things get dicey. I was enamored by the luster of the Nintendo 64 so I bought one on launch day. However, I ended up taking it back and using the cash refund to buy a broken drum set and an SNES with a shoe box of games from a pawn shop.

What this did was it reintroduced me to the world of Nintendo while keeping me firmly locked in the 16-bit era slightly longer than most others.

This put me in a weird position where I truly wanted to think the Genesis was better than the SNES but I started falling into the trap of believing the lies the SNES was superior. Later I came to the conclusion they are absolute equals with each having strengths and weaknesses.

Where does Sony fit in all this? As a brand I was loyal to Sony. I had a Walk Man, a Disc Man, a Sony surround sound system, XPlode amplifier and speakers in my car, the works. Even a Trinitron TV. I was all in. Except for one area. Playstation. Now that I have set the stage let me dig into how it turned into a deep hatred.

The hatred begins

Once I realized my passion was for arcade games I started to notice a shift in focus in the gaming magazines. While I was longing for a 32X add on for my Genesis to bring me even more arcade ports to my home and begging my parents to sell my baby sister to buy me a Neo Geo to have arcade perfect ports in the home, the magazines were bragging about this new fangled Playstation.

My first reaction to the name was revulsion. It sounded like a jungle gym or attraction at the county fair. Not a serious game console. This revulsion was exacerbated by my discovery that Nintendo’s success was partially credited to its mascot, Mario, and Sega’s likewise to its mascot, Sonic.

I didn’t see a break out mascot on Playstation and seeing how Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, Neo Geo, and others had all failed I decided in my teenage mind it had to be the lack of a mascot on those platforms. Never mind the strong mascot of Bonk on TG16 having no impact one way or another, I just figured it was a fact and accepted it.

Then there were the games. Sega and Nintendo had games I knew. Mortal Kombat. Mega Man. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, etc. Playstation had, weird games like PO’d, Wipe out and Ridge Racer. Yawn. And that’s just the ones I knew about or can remember off the top of my head.

Then there was the Saturn. Despite my longing for a 32X I still accepted the Saturn was out there and fully expected it to put that Sony machine in its place. After all it would have the strong arcade ports, the mascot games and the recognizable characters like Sonic how could it fail?

Well it didn’t take me long after I bought a Sega Saturn to learn had been duped. Sure it had arcade ports but of lackluster games for the most part. The mascot games sucked, Sonic 3D Blast was a damn Genesis game with CD audio added. No thanks.

And as for the recognizable characters, Shinobi, Vectorman and Ecco the Dolphin were replaced with Bug, Clockwork Knight and Panzer Dragoon. Some quality games slipped in there and Shinobi did get, a game, on the console.

It just wasn’t the same. But I didn’t see all that as a kid. I saw Sony actively bullying Sega into going out of business basically. The day I saw a Sega title sitting on the store shelf in a PS2 package, I cringed. I lost my love for Sega and this compounded my hatred of Sony’s Playstation brand. In my mind Sony killed Sega, and Atari too, and were making it impossible for other companies to step in. I had no choice but to declare my loyalty to Nintendo and dig in.

The shift to Nintendo fanboy

But wait, let’s back it up a second. You see the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001 basically. I bought my N64 and PS1 on the exact same day, Sept. 7, 2000. Why? Because it was my 18th birthday and I had a paycheck I earned from my very real job at the time. No more saving up allowance or mowing grass for old people.

I was in control of my gaming destiny. So I did buy myself a Playstation 1. But I did it begrudgingly and ensured I had a Nintendo the same day to stave off any chance I would convert. After all PS1 was mostly still 90s X games crap like Tony Hawks and lame Indiana Jones knock off Tomb Raider.

I wasn’t happy to lose Sega in favor of Nintendo but I made the most if it with the absolutely amazing Super Mario 64. There was one more hitch. I bought my stupid N64 late 2000. Roughly 1 year later the Big N had replaced it with the GameCube, or as it was known in the gaming community the Purple Lunchbox.

I fell for it. I sold my PS1 and N64 and took home a Nintendo GameCube. This was, of course, following a couple of years just doubling down on my 16 bit Sega and Nintendo machines I never let go of.

Thus my love of retro stuff was born and it was growing all the time. I kept feeding it. At first it was slow. I grabbed a few retro games for my newly acquired Game Boy Advance. I started with the Super Mario Advance series, a very retro Super Nintendo homage series of games.

Then I picked up Sonic Advance, Altered Beast, Gun Star Super Heroes, Mario Kart Super Circuit and then Metroid Fusion. By this time I was also getting deeper into the world of emulation. This was the time I discovered a passion for retro games that quickly turned into an obsession.

It was this time when my hatred for Playstation was at it’s peak. I despised them because they represented new ideas. New game play concepts and new ways of gaming. I wanted things to be the way they were before.

I doubled down on my Nintendo collecting. I concentrated on amassing a sizable GameCube library, over 60 games at it’s peak. This was a way for me to really cement my connection to retro games.

Even if I bought a new Nintendo game I made sure it had ties to the old stuff. I bought Mario Party, Smash Bros., Zelda, Metroid and Mario Sunshine. I even picked upo Star Fox Adventures and then I loaded up on all the compilations I could from Mega Man to Sonic and Midway down to Namco Museum.

All this time I was telling myself Nintendo represented the good in the world and Sony represented all the evil in the world. I literally convinced myself Sony was evil. Playstation was for sinners and if you were a good Christian you had to play Nintendo games. Between this, blaming Sony for the death of Sega and Atari and my continuing to embrace the 8-bit and 16-bit retro period I saw no merit to the Playstation.

What really fueled my hatred above all else was the anti-Nintendo attitude Playstation gamers held. This was compounded by the anti-Sega attitude die hard Nintendo loyalists harbored. I was an outside.

I grew up with Atari first then Sega so to Nintendo fans I was a poser. I was a Johnny come lately. Which was false. I always had an NES and then an SNES before getting my N64 and Game Cube. I just devoted more time and energy to Sega because, to me at least, they had better games.

How Blu Ray blinded me to the truth

Then things took a turn for the worse. Nintendo released the Wii at the same time Sony was pushing Blu Ray. I had been an audio file and a video file my whole life. I knew quality when I saw it.

I knew the glorious high bit rate 1080p picture quality stored on those 25GB Blu Ray discs produced a vastly superior, not slightly but truly noticeably improved product than the HD-DVD.

Somehow my twisted hatred for Sony was so thorough by this point I adopted HD-DVD and ranted constantly how stupid Blu Ray was and how anyone who bought into it was a sheep being blinded by the Sony marketing machine.

I succeeded in converting one friend to an Xbox gamer as a result, a mistake I now regret as he has become a fanboy of that brand at the expense of Nintendo loyalty.

My other friends continued to hound me to abandon the sinking Nintendo ship and join the Playstation party wagon. I found myself really hearing the hypocrisy and idiocy in my arguments for why the Wii was not just a good system but actually better than PS3 in every way.

Of course I had no problem tearing down the Windows in a Box the PC faithful were buying especially to Nintendo and Playstation gamers, at least we could rally behind that cause.

Something changed.

Remember when I told you I bought a PS1 in 2000. I did so for one game. Final Fantasy 7. That game was enough for me to put aside all the negativity I had towards Playstation and just admit that one game was great.

I eventually conceded sure the Playstation has some good games but it wasn’t the point. The evil was in everything else so I carried on the fight.

In 2009 I woke up one day and noticed my Wii was sitting there in the midst of a stack of games I was determined to use to prove it was just as good, if not better than the PS3.

Reality hit me.

Every. Single. Game. was a PS2 port! All my friends laughed at me for constantly getting excited for this “NEW” game I got on Wii they were quick to say yeah dude we played that already, years ago on Playstation. Around the time I was desperately trying to enjoy Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance on Wii, even convincing myself the game was fun because of not despite the motion controls I had a real revelation.

The tide begins to turn

I was at a friends how and I casually picked up his Xbox 360 controller and started playing Crackdown. My god I was actually having fun playing a video game again! I realized I spent so much energy crusading for Nintendo, which was weird considering I stared out disliking them, instead of just enjoying the games.

The realization was the Wii didn’t have games I enjoyed. I hated the games it had. I hated the motion controls. I hated the Virtual Console charging me money for games I already owned. I was beginning to turn on Nintendo. So I did the unthinkable. Disillusioned I sold my Wii.

This was the time I briefly, from 2010 to 2013, became a die hard PC only gamer. I dug into the world of emulation, combined it with the ever increasing piracy trap of torrents and eventually found myself throwing perfectly good money away at upgrading computers to play a game I could just stick into a console and play without all that hassle.

In 2013 I decided to give Playstation a second chance. I had finally gotten over my hatred. I was convinced I missed out on two full console generations of great games out of a stubborn belief that Nintendo would die if I didn’t convert people from the cult of Playstation to the benevolent society of Nintendo. I was a dupe. No, I was a dope.

I grabbed a PS2 in a trade deal. I took it home picked up a few games I was told were supposed to be good and, my eyes were opened. All those wonderful worlds I missed out on. But the real revelation was this, Playstation WAS Nintendo.

The best of Sega and the best of Nintendo, minus Mario and Zelda, was on Playstation. All those great retro games I grew up with and fell in love with, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Contra, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Castlevania and the list goes on and on.

Those franchises didn’t die like I had assumed since they were not on the Nintendo console. They were alive and well on Playstation. IN fact many were getting their best entries on the Sony platforms.

Once I discovered the depth of the origins of Playstation being tied to Nintendo I realized the original PS1 was the true successor to the Super Nintendo.

Nostalgia kicks in, discovery begins

I just missed it. Looking back nostalgia began to swell up but this time for Playstation. Not the games I grew up with but the games I missed in the franchises I grew up with. Oh sure I also discovered Mass Effect, God of War Jak and Dexter and even Elder Scrolls along the way the real treasure was discovering the hidden gems that actually felt like Nintendo games. All the Sega, Konami and Capcom games I missed out on.

All those Final Fantasy sequels I ignored in exchange for Crystal Chronicles. Then, things kept improving with Kingdom Hearts and Katamari Damacy.

By this time I shed my hatred for Sony and replaced it with a new found appreciation for how they actually saved not destroyed the traditional gaming I was fond of. I realized all those retro games I loved, those classic fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter were STILL fun on Playstation while non existent on Nintendo.

I learned that Sony consistently released the same Super NES inspired controller with minor improvements year after year whereas Nintendo were the ones trying to get me to fall for the odd shaped trident on the N64 that mostly hurt my hands.

Nintendo were the ones trying to convince me gaming wasn’t fun anymore because it was too complicated and I needed to “get back to basics” with overly simplified motion controls based on an obvious throw back to their NES days as a covert way to trick gamers into thinking the glory days of the NES had returned.

It was Sony all a long

What I realized was Sony had preserved the retro gaming I grew up with and allowed it to grow into the modern gaming we have today by naturally evolving with the industry and society. It was Nintendo trying to reinvent the wheel every couple of years in the hopes that people would remember how fun they were and come back.

Instead of seeing how much Nintendo failed to embrace its root they were the ones facilitating unwanted changes on the very people who clung to their brand because it was supposed to be familiar. But it wasn’t.

You had some retro stuff like Mario Kart and Smash Bros. hanging around but even Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, DK and Mario get entirely reinvented every single generation. Sure they throw a familiar New Super Mario game or a Donkey Kong Country Returns to keep you coming back with an NES Remix or Super Mario Maker as a way to trick you into thinking their library has more depth than it really does.

None of this is to say Nintendo doesn’t try new things or they deserve the hate to be shifted to them. What I realized was while Nintendo always had merits I took for granted and over inflated, Playstation likewise had its own merits I was too blind to see.

Once I bought that PS2 it was mere weeks before I bought me a PS3. Less than a year later I had a PS4 and I never looked back. To this day I have logged more hours and had more fun rediscovering games I missed on Playstation than I ever did with Nintendo.

In the end I now see Nintendo and Sony are more alike than they are different. While I can see the good, and not so good, in both, I have come to appreciate that each one brings something special to the table.

They both deserve the praise and admiration they receive from the gaming community as a whole as well as their respective devotees.

Count me as a Playstation, Nintendo, Sega and PC gamer or just call me a gamer in general and I will put those silly fanboy school yard fights in the past, where they belong, while I anxiously wait for the Playstation 5 to whisk me off to new heights of fantastic gaming experiences. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy both the PS4 and Nintendo Switch for what each one offers me. Stay Cool.

A list of every PS1 Greatest Hits title

I wanted to share a list of the Playstation 1 Greatest Hits titles. I compared multiple lists and this is the most complete one I could find. Enjoy.

I will be compiling a few more lists for reference. I hate how Wikipedia and GameFaqs make it difficult to copy/paste these types of things. I hope someone can find this useful.

007: The World is not Enough
007: Tomorrow Never Dies
1Xtreme
2Xtreme
A Bug’s Life
Activision Classics
Air Combat
Alien Trilogy
Andretti Racing
Ape Escape
Army Men 3D
Army Men: Air Attack
Asteroids
Battle Arena Toshinden
Casper
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Chrono Cross
Cool Boarders 2
Cool Boarders 3
Cool Boarders 4
Crash Bandicoot 1
Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
Crash Bash
Crash Team Racing
Croc: Legend of the Gobbos
Dance Dance Revolution Konami Mix
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX
Destruction Derby 1
Destruction Derby 2
Die Hard Trilogy
Digimon Rumble Arena
Digimon World 1
Digimon World 3
Dino Crisis
Disney’s Tarzan
Doom
Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22
Driver 1
Driver 2
Duke Nukem: Time to Kill
Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home
Fighting Force
Final Fantasy 7
Final Fantasy 8
Final Fantasy 9
Final Fantasy Anthology
Final Fantasy Chronicles
Final Fantasy Origins
Final Fantasy Tactics
Formula 1
Frogger 1
Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge
Gran Turismo 1
Gran Turismo 2
Grand Theft Auto 1
Grand Theft Auto 2
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Hot Wheels: Turbo Racing
Jeremy McGrath SuperCross ’98
Jet Moto 1
Jet Moto 2
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver
Legend of Dragoon
Loaded
Madden NFL 98
Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX
Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor: Underground
Mega Man 8
Mega Man Legends
Mega Man X4
Metal Gear Solid
Monopoly
Monsters, Inc. Scream Team
Mortal Kombat 4
Mortal Kombat Trilogy
Namco Museum Volume 1
Namco Museum Volume 3
NASCAR 98
NASCAR 99
Need for Speed 1
Need for Speed 2
Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit
Need for Speed: High Stakes
NFL Blitz
NFL Blitz 2000
NFL GameDay
NFL GameDay 97
NHL 98
NHL FaceOff
NHL FaceOff ’97
Nuclear Strike
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Pac-Man World
Parasite Eve
Rayman
Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Reel Fishing
Resident Evil 1
Resident Evil 2
Resident Evil 3
Ridge Racer
Road Rash
Road Rash 3D
Rocket Power: Team Rocket Rescue
Rugrats: Search for Reptar
Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase
Silent Hill
Sim City 2000
Sled Storm
Soul Blade
Soviet Strike
Spider-Man
Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro
SpongeBob SquarePants: SuperSponge
Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage!
Spyro the Dragon
Spyro: Year of the Dragon
Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Street Fighter Alpha 3
Stuart Little 2
Syphon Filter 1
Syphon Filter 2
Syphon Filter 3
Tekken 1
Tekken 2
Tekken 3
Ten Pin Alley
Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Test Drive 4
Test Drive 5
Test Drive Off-Road
Tetris Plus
The Lost World: Jurassic Park – Special Edition
TNN Motorsports Hardcore 4×4
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
Tomb Raider 1
Tomb Raider 2
Tomb Raider 3
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear
Triple Play 2001
Triple Play 98
Twisted Metal 1
Twisted Metal 2
Twisted Metal 3
Twisted Metal 4
Vagrant Story
Vigilante 8
Vigilante 8: Second Offense
Warhawk
WCW Nitro
WCW vs. the World
Wheel of Fortune
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: 2nd Edition
Wipeout
WWF SmackDown!
WWF SmackDown! 2: Know Your Role
WWF War Zone
WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game
X-Men: Mutant Academy
Xenogears

Pokemon blues

The first time I heard about Pokemon was through a trading card magazine I used to get in the mail back in the late 90’s. If I am not mistaken it was a one off done by the folks at either Toy Fair, Wizard or one of those other hobby magazines I used to subscribe to in the days before the dominance of the web.

What I remember reading about was not the Game Boy game, but rather the exciting new trading card game taking the country by storm. The country, at that time, meant Japan, and the article was about how it was getting ready to invade the states. Invade was not strong enough of a word. Pokemon completely changed everything.

I had a friend who opened up a trading card shop in the early part of the decade during the rise of the Magic the Gathering craze. Magic was a great game and all, but me, I was more into Star Wars CCG. That’s Customizable Card Game for the uninitiated.

One thing he told me, at the time, was card games come and go. He believed Magic had longevity because of the cross over between D&D fans. I was more skeptical. See, I bought Marvel OverPower, Star Wars CCG and Spell Fire (the D&D game) so maybe I was a little biased. However, neither of us expected Pokemon to stick around longer than a few seasons, the card game that is. At the time there wasn’t a video game or cartoon in the states just yet. The oncoming storm was brewing, we just weren’t fully prepared for it.

I remember right after my younger sister started showing me her Pokemon cards my first reaction was to roll my eyes. I already started getting into Dragon Ball Z TCG and the Digimon cartoon was starting to pique my interest. I thought Digimon was so much better than Pokemon, it would only be a matter of time before it supplanted Pokemon and the ‘Pikachu and Pals’ craze would fade into obscurity.

It was around the time I picked up a Game Boy Pocket that I got my first taste of the Pokemon video game. A friend at school sold me his Yellow Pocket so he could buy a Green Game Boy Color. He gave me two games with it, Wario Land, Super Mario Land 3, and Pokemon Blue. Needless to say I didn’t even insert the pokecart into my machine. I traded it to Software Etc., the game store in our mall before it turned into a Game Stop. That was it, no more Pokemon for me. I bought an N64 earlier in the year, along with a PS1. I started to realize there were Pokemon games showing up on the N64 and then, seemingly out of the blue a movie gets announced.

I continued to resist. I was too old to get into that crap. I was 16 when it came out and I had already upgraded to Playstation and Mortal Kombat, I wasn’t even spending much time playing Sonic or Mario games at this time in my life. Pokemon was certainly, I thought at the time, beneath me. Especially with my younger sister, six years below my age, being so into it. Of course she didn’t have a Game Boy, for  her it was a card game.

One day I came home from work. I worked at the buffet in the casino. I discovered all my tip money I had been saving up was missing, around $40 or so. By the end of the day I discovered my sister and one of her friends had taken my money and spent it. They played games at the arcade, rented movies at the video store, bought a pizza and to top it all off they brought home a few packs of those silly Pokemon trading cards. I was furious. At this point I had enough. I made her and her friend sell their Pokemon cards to pay me back the money they stole. I wasn’t going to be too harsh on my ten year old sister, so I ended up taking her and her friend out to the buffet for supper to say no hard feelings, but I insisted they sell those damn cards to pay me back. I learned in the trading card business how quickly a hot card can rise in value and then plummet so I knew we had a narrow window to sell them for cash. She ended up paying me back every penny, and I washed my hands of that fifthly game for good. Or so I thought.

The years would go by and I would continue to resist. Every time a new game came out I grew increasingly hostile towards Nintendo. They never released those stupid things one at a time. They always came out in pairs along with some console tie in or spin off, which meant they were devoting a lot of resources to that game not making games I would have bought. This resentment carried into my interactions with fans online. I instantly attacked, berated and dismissed the opinions of anyone over the age of 7 that talked about Pokemon. I was really harsh. I really hated that game.

Things began to soften up a little bit once I got a Game Cube in 2004. I purchased a copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee and quickly learned Pikachu was a pretty good character to win matches. I chalked it up to him being the most recognizable character in the franchise so I never really let it lure me into trying the games. It wouldn’t be until 2010 when I downloaded the Pokemon Blue rom for GB and played it on my Windows PC before I ever game a proper Pokemon game a chance. If this is the part in the story you were expecting me to say, wow, what was I missing out on all these years, wrong. All it did was confirm my suspicions.

The game was just a watered down, RPG knock-off with the most obnoxious collect-a-thon mechanic at the entire heart of the game. Not something like a RareWare platformer where the core game play was at least fun. It wouldn’t be until Pokemon Go before I would give a video game in the franchise a serious chance. This time it was for work. I was working at a newspaper at the time of the games launch. Of course all the other media outlets were doing stories on people walking into traffic or walking off a cliff or similar stories. I decided to write safety guide and how to column for the newspaper where I worked. I order to be informed, I downloaded the app and tried it out.

Now you are thinking a-ha! Finally that sour puss converted once he saw the true light! Wrong again. I ended up keeping the app installed for a little over 2 years, but only to let me nieces and nephews walk around catching Pokemon and hatching eggs. Eventually I lost interest and walked away.

Now why am I writing an article about how I missed out on the Pokemon craze if I continue to have disdain for the video games and cartoons? After all, at this point if nothing has converted me nothing will right? Wrong. Or slightly incorrect. You see I have converted, sort of. Recently the collector in me- especially the kid who was big into collecting trading cards in the 90’s- has started to have a desire to get back into collecting trading cards. Again as a window to bond with my sisters kids I thought I might give collecting the cards another go round. Not that I want to look for rare or valuable cards though. I thought maybe I will pick up a few packs and see what kind of a set I can get going.

Along the way I sampled the anime when it came to Netflix. I even tried out some of the other games, including Coliseum on Game Cube. The only one I ever enjoyed even slightly was the original Blue. I liked the e-Reader stuff and have considered collecting Pokemon-e  but I suspect that would be cost prohibitive at this point. These days I play the Blue Rom on my laptop and wonder what it would have been like had I discovered this franchise 2 years earlier in life, or maybe not had the negative experiences to associate with it. Needless to say my Pokemon blues today manifest in the form of a what-if scenario I will play in my mind. At least once in a blue moon, as they say.

The Dark Web podcast episode 3- (SH*THOLE EPISODE) Nintendo Labo, R-rated horror movies on the decline?

https://thespiderslair.podbean.com/e/the-dark-web-podcast-episode-3-shthole-episode-nintendo-labo-r-rated-horror-movies-on-the-decline/

This R-Rated examination of the decline of hard-r rated horror movies. Also a look at how Donald Trump has made it okay to say shithole in the news now. A brief but energetic rant about the Nintendo Labo crap coming from Nintendo, and a look at the passing of the world-famous singer of the Irish band, The Cranberries. It’s a shorter episode packed with lots of thoughts in rapid succession. Oh I also talked about the recent Cracked video layoffs.

The Dark Web TV Episode 2- UNBOXING STUFF, Go-Bots combiner team and more

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({
google_ad_client: “ca-pub-1102775910882590”,
enable_page_level_ads: true
});

 

 

In this episode I introduce a new soda product I recently discovered. I start things off with my first ever unboxing. For the What’s Streaming segment I mentioned two YouTube channels that are interested to me. They were Biographics from the people who make TodayIFoundOut, and MetalJesusRocks crew. In the Retro Showcase I showed off my original Go-Bots combiner team, Puzzler. The Dark Web TV is a news/talk show done in a similar format to a typical news broadcast but modified for the YouTube audience. This show is a companion piece to The Dark Web podcast. New videos are set to stream each week. Follow The Spiders Lair: Twitter: @phatrat1982 Facebook: @thespiderslairblog Podcast: http://thespiderslair.podbean.com/feed/ iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/t… Website: http://www.thespiderslair.com Please like and share.

The story of a home brew part 2: A case study of one game that did it right

The Immortal John Hancock, a prominent YouTube gamer, posted a thread on June 3, 2016, to a Nintendo collectors’ forum asking for a programmer for a potential project. Antoine Fantys was the programmer that answered that call.

From his early days as a programmer fiddling around with BASIC on his Commodore 64, Fantys wanted to be a programmer.

“I came across a Commodore 64. The beauty about this machine was that you could learn BASIC programming and program simple games directly on the computer.” he said.

“I ended up learning BASIC and coding my first games on a retro platforms, which included text adventures and a horse racing game of all things.” he added.

His interest in retro games began with his NES games on a Game Boy Advance, which later developed into full blown passion once he discovered YouTube.

“I found footage of the first Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Finding out about Super Mario Bros. and all those games of yesteryear sparked my interest in retro gaming, and especially the NES” he said.

When Hancock made the call asking for a programmer, he jumped at the opportunity. It was his chance to do something for the community, and make a name for himself while honing his programming skills. He reached out to Hancock via that forum and they two went to work.

“The game was John’s idea. I believe the game was a favorite of his. It’s based on an old 1981 Stern/Konami arcade game called ‘Turtles.'” he said.

He knew right away it was a project he wanted in on.

“As soon as I saw the video of the game John sent me, I knew I would like to work on this game because such arcade games are fun and easy to port on a console like the NES.” he said.

Fantys got his start on the NES doing, in his words “crappy rom hacks.” From there his interest grew. He found his way onto a Nintendo fan site that had a home brew section and he began learning the programming language of the NES.

For the most part, he works alone. He will occasionally bring on help with the music, in this case he did it all.

Once the game was finish John Hancock shared the story to his YouTube channel. From there John Riggs took the game and turned it into a charity work for an gaming expo he was a part of. With the help of prominent YouTubers, Fantys was able to get his name, and work, to a wider audience.

When it comes to ROMS and the home brew scene. Fantys tends to play it safe. He doesn’t make his roms he owns available, choosing to just sell carts if he can. He indicated he would consider using a form of DRM if it was a work he owned the rights to, yet he did claim he often sells the rights to his games.

This is where the gaming community and the home brew scene can come together. While I believe it to be okay to download roms of games nobody is profiting off, of course except the re-sellers making cash on second hand merchandise, I think original games have a right to be protected. On the other hand, when it comes to games like Pac-Man, Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, etc., then the user should make a attempt to purchase, or obtain, a legal copy before pirating. In this case I tend to favor supporting the Nintendo eShop, the PSN, Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. It sucks paying money for a ROM of a game you already owned at some point in time, yet you do have to remember once you sell the physical cart you sold your rights to the program on that rom. Also owning physical carts does not automatically give you the right to the program stored on the carts rom chips.

All things considered Fantys took a game someone else already made, an arcade game, and ported it, at the request of a collector in the industry, and made it available as a clone to those who were interested in obtaining that version. Since the game in question is based on someone else’s property, it stands to reason the gamer who does wish to play the game would be better served tracking down a legit copy, or playing it on MAME if they have no other option. The real need to play a ROM of a port of an arcade game to the NES, decades later, seems kind of counter intuitive. Is it scummy, shady or illegal what Fantys and Hancock have done? I don’t think so. They made it very clear every step of the way it was a clone of an arcade game, they made it very clear they were making it available to collectors who wanted physical copies, and it was done as a labor of love to the community of home brew gamers, programmers, collectors, and retro gamers in general. All in all this is how you do a retro/homebrew based on existing works the right away.

Now if they called it Turtles, basically recreated the original game in its entirety line byline and tried to sell it a their own without recognizing the original rights owners, that would be a different story entirely. Kudos to Fantys and Hancock for creating a project that was done out of passion for the scene, the community and the love of retro games. While it is easy to get caught up in who owns the rights to what, which degree of piracy counts as infringement and where the line should be drawn, at the end of the day all that really matters is gamers get to enjoy the works of programmers who enjoy making games for others to enjoy. It’s the circle of gaming.

Be sure to check out his YouTube video discussing the game Here

 

 

 

The story of a home brew that redefined what it means to be a home brew: Part 1 the morality of home brews.

A kid turns on a small, square shaped tube television set his parents kept in the basement for some reason. Hooked up to the TV is a square, mostly gray box. Inside the box is a tiny little rectangular piece of plastic that holds some computer program inside a ROM chip. The kid turns the TV to channel 3, pushes the piece of plastic down into the slider, closes the lid hits the power button with fingers crossed the game turns on this time glitch free. If everything lined up perfectly, the cart was cleaned, the console was dust free, the stars aligned just right, the game would begin. If not, the ritual of blowing into the cart, wiping the spit/grime of with a Q-tip, then jiggling the cart in, shaking it, pushing reset 25 times, etc., would commence in hopes things would find a way to get to work.

Everyone that was a Nintendo gamer in the 1980’s went through a similar ritual at least more than once in his or her life. The reality was the NES, as fondly was we try to remember it, was actually a terrible product. It required constant maintenance, care, cleaning, the cords were fragile and easy to bend, the controllers, while sturdy, were made of a very hard plastic that could crack or break if not taken care of properly. It had sharp edges that dug into kids hands, the console it self was sharp edges that if you weren’t careful could stub a toe on or hit an elbow or in some cases just jam a finger trying to shove the stupid cart into the machine. While any game would legitimately have GOOD memories of the games they played, when they in fact worked, more often than not we tend to push aside the negative memories we really have of the NES and allow blind nostalgia take us on a trip down memory lane.

One of the reasons we forget is, aside from a small subset of eccentric collectors, most gamers don’t actually play their old NES games on physical NES systems anymore. In fact, even a growing number of those who do play using PHYSICAL carts, do so on either refurbished consoles with extra money put into keeping the machine working, or in those increasing cases, play on a clone console that actually, compatibility issues aside, works better in many cases. The need to own a physical cart is even supplanted, but still satisfied by those who purchase a FLASH cart and load it up with ROMS. The point is there are a lot of different ways to enjoy an old NES game, playing the original cart on original hardware worry free is not the number one way of doing so. Despite that there remains a retro and home brew gaming scene who prey on the customers who have desires to relive, a false version of their childhood. These people are not all predators, some are but most are just coders who have fond memories of the NES and want to share their games with others. The problem is some of them take it a step too far, going as far as implementing copy protections on games they didn’t actually create, they really just took someone else’s design and made a port, calling it their own work and preventing others from playing the games the way most gamers actually DO play NES games, on a emulator minus all the hassle of tracking down all the satanic little emblems you need to make your retro machine work. Hyperbole aside, I have never in my life had a good experience picking up a USEd NES cart, inserting it into an original NES and it just worked. Not even when I was a kid and the machine was fairly new. We would rent games from the video store and I would spend the first half an hour or so just fighting the stupid thing to get it to work. You only had a game for the weekend if you were lucky or 1 night if it was a new release, so every second you spent twisting and tugging on carts was precious sec onds you would have been playing, what could have ended up being a shitty LJN game.

If you put aside the fact that most people don’t game on physical hardware, then why is it scummy for a programmer to charge money for a ROM they programmed? They put in the work and time after all? Honestly, it’s not scummy to charge for your time or work. It is, however pretty shady if the work you did was merely just porting a game some other creative person actually thought up and created decades back. If all you are doing is copying someone else’s work I, personally, think you have no right to sell it to the general public. If you want to sell your work to a collector, the physical cartridge, the art work, the case, etc., fine by all rights, but when a programmer, or coder, ports a game from another system, or just hacks a rom and calls it their own, to me that is kind of shady.

At the very least, if you can get permission from the original programmer, or their blessing then by all means do so. Sometimes copyrights are infringed but they can be done so in certain contexts without repercussions. My stance has always been respect the copy rights of those who do the actual creative work, not the pirates who stand to profit off other peoples work yet claim it as their own.

I do understand as a new programmer, especially one unwilling to actually go to college and get a job in the industry, starting out you need to get experience somewhere and porting other games to a new platform, or writing a clone program is certainly a very TRUE and legit way of honing your skills. However, make sure you let people know your CLONE is just that. I am okay with clones existing and if you want to sell a clone game by all rights you should be able to do that, as long as your clone is at least somewhat original or at the very least going to a good cause.

I did some digging into the behind the scenes development of a few different clone games, some home brew games and some rom hacks. There are cases of games like Battle Kid where the game is truly original the programmer has every right to brag about what his or her team accomplished. Games like Pier Solar are cornerstones of the home brew and aftermarket industry. Then you have the 150 thousand Super Mario Bros and Sonic 1 rip offs that just alter the sprites, rearrange the levels and try to pass it off as something original.

All of this has to have some middle ground. While I certainly do not in any way begrudge a programmer cutting his or her teethe on doing a rom hack or a home brew that is basically a clone of another game, there needs to be some honor in doing it. First, you should make sure people are fully aware it is a CLONE and do your best to reference the original game, if you CAN give credit to the original programmer, and better still if you can at least make an effort to reach and and get said programmers blessing more than anything great fantastic.

There are examples of some scummy home brew hacks who profit off other people’s work, I won’t list them you can dig up the dirt your self, google home brew. There is one hack in particular who just did a straight port of a certain PC game to a long dead nobody cared about console, I won’t say more than that except it’s not even a clone he did it entirely as a straight port. This, to me, is a gray area closer to don’t even bother. Now if it’s an open source game go ahead.

Then there is the example I want to highlight if you are still reading. This is a two-part story, part one set the stage, which is all the opinion above. Keep in mind my opinions are just that, my opinions and are meant to get people thinking. There is no need to attack me, argue with me, or hate me for getting people to think. If you disagree, share that, explain, in a civilized way, why you disagree and maybe I will listen to what you have to say. I often make claims not as my own but just to get people to really think about things so they can defend their stance.

That being said, I do think home brew games are fantastic, and when they do get a physical release for the collectors to enjoy, I am all for that. I think roms should ALWAYS be dumped at some point, minus copy protection because one, if nobody is copy protecting Mario or Zelda games, games Nintendo still profits off, then they shouldn’t be copy protecting their own roms. Two, I believe that roms should always be available for preservation purposes even of new games. The reason, the collectors who WILL pay for the game are not going to download a rom and those who WILL download the rom were NEVER going to pay for the physical cart in the first place. If you want to hold the rom until you know the collectors who want carts all have it and then dump it, DRM free at a later date, fair enough, do that. But holding a rom hostage, especially when its not a 100 percent original work, is shady at the very least. Holding roms hostage when it’s a rom hack or a prototype is 100 percent scummy, UNLESS you are the actual copy right holder and you just don’t want your failures made public, that is your right.

So when is it okay to charge for a rom and when should you limit the audience of your game? In the case of Battle Kid, that is an easy answer. If the game is 100 percent original and you did the work, then preventing people from stealing your work is your right. I also agree that Nintendo has a right to prevent you from playing Super Mario Bros. on your PC, support them buy a 3DS if you can’t stomach the Wii U, and download the rom from their virtual console. If a game was released by a company that no longer exists, and the only people who profit are re-sellers of used copies, then by all rights pirate that game all day long if you so desire. It’s technically illegal but it’s close enough to fair use you should be able to justify it.

What about when a programmer takes an existing game, say Pac-Man, and ports it to a system it never had an official release, say the Channel F, as an example? Should this person have a right to copy protect THAT rom? No, because it’s not their work. They have a right to burn the rom to physical carts and sell those to all of the collectors that are willing to pay a price for it, but copy protecting that rom is wrong and should not be tolerated. However, come on if you aren’t buying a physical copy why would you want to play an inferior port if there is no historical context? As bad as it is I do re-play the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man from time to time, because it has historical value and I had it as a kid, there is nostalgia. Nobody had Pac-Man on their TG-16, it was never ported officially to that, so if a rom hacker makes a port of that game and sells it, that is fine for a CART but wrong, in my opinion, to sell a ROM. Even releasing the ROM to Steam is wrong, not to mention that is actually illegal no question.

But what if its a clone. Not a true port but a game made to resemble another game? KC Munchkin was considered a Pac-Man clone. While I disagree with the courts decision to pull it from shelves, the fact remains it was pretty much a clone. However, there is historical context there and nostalgia. What about porting PC games to non-PC systems, or would it be okay to port Super Mario Bros. not a rom, not an emulation but a re-programmed straight port, or clone even if you will, a la, Giana Sister, to a PC? I think even this is acceptable to do, but not to profit off.

Here is where I draw the line. A truly original work that is your own, charge money for it protect your copy right until your death and leave it in your will to someone you love. If it’s just a labor of love, a practice, a port of someone else’s work to a system that didn’t already have that game, if you want to sell the physical cart to collectors fine but let the rom go to those who will download it do so. I mean as a gamer myself I don’t download rom hacks or games that didn’t exist anyways, like I said I need historical context or else I have no interest in playing Mortal Kombat on a SNES, I would be better playing the actual arcade port on PS3 or the rom on MAME.

Check back for part 2 as I investigate an outlier I think did it right, but did leave room for error.