Birthday Episode, Gamestop sale, new Smash Bros. fighters and Transformers!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-yzgze-bed19f

This episode marks a milestone, yes THERAT ended up having another birthday. It gets discussed along with birthday presents and wishes, memories and toys. 

Original G1 Transformers Soundwave at Walmart thoughts, impressions and shopping tale.

What does THERAT have to say about the Rise of the TMNT? Find out.

Nintendo is adding more characters to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 

Episode 9, IT part two and maybe other movies that might be worth seeing?

Why did Stephanie enjoy the Quad City DJ’s so much and how did THERAT use that to break into the hip-hop street culture? Find out this and more inside another exciting episode of The Dark Web Podcast all inside The Spiders Lair, Where Chaos Resides. Stay Cool.

The Dark Web Daily Show Thursday June 28 2018 Shooting at a newspaper, and Big Brother analysis

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-nzzay-942bc9

This show strays a little from the norm. During show prep breaking news about 5 people shot and killed at a newspaper in Maryland broke becoming the primary topic.

As promised towards the end I talked a little bit about the house guests in the Big Brother 20 premier that debuted last night.

As a journalist the shooting hit a little close to home. This weekend will include a panel discussion with 3 different editors from three different news publications. That will be the entire focus of this week’s episode of The Dark Web Podcast. Be sure to tune in as the topic is sure to get these news editors talking.

Thanks for listening and please subscribe.

Follow the show on Facebook @thespiderslairblog or Twitter @phatrat1982

For more articles or to keep track of all my content, podcasts and videos head on over to www.thespiderslair.com.

Thanks for listening and please like, share and subscribe so we can continue to grow. See you tomorrow. New episodes will upload daily in audio form on Podbean and video form on YouTube.

The Dark Web Podcast episode 22- Special guest MMA fighter/trainer Jackpot James, discussing the 90’s grunge movement and more

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-w5ycc-912a5b

This week features another special guest. Jackpot James Hof is an MMA fighter based in Jackpot, Nevada with ties to Las Vegas. We talk about what it’s like going into a fight with a total stranger. Then we take a trip down memory lane talking about what it was like going to high school in Jackpot. James was one of my classmates in high schoo, it was a lot of fun remeniscing.

 

The remainder of the podcast is spent ripping apart the 90’s grunge rock movement with an especially harsh criticsm of Stone Temple Pilots. I then dig into the topic of all topics, was the East Coast vs. West Coast gangsta rap war of the 90’s responsible for getting President Obama elected in 2008?

On the video game front I list my favorite Nintendo consoles, following a rant on the too soon false elevation of the Wii U’s status beyond the failed console it was. Then I get into the details of the Legion Quest storyline in the X-Men saga that lead to the Age of Apolcalype.

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

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-njgnm-845b5f

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.

Dr. Mario: A look back at an iconic game

For most people who had a Game Boy throughout the 90’s, Tetris was all the rage. The game was all about stacking falling blacks into patterns to clear the screen. I didn’t get my Game Boy until 1998, in the form of a Game Boy Pocket. And yes, Tetris was the first game I picked up to play on the wonderful little device. Yet there is one more puzzle game that I think deserves even more recognition that good old Tetris. Of course I am talking about Dr. Mario.

My first exposure to the game was in the form of a goofy TV commercial with that witch doctor song as the backdrop. I was pretty young at the time, probably seven or eight, so I didn’t know it was actually a real song. I just thought it was made up for that commercial. It wouldn’t be until seeing the iconic story of first love, My Girl, before I learned it was a real song. That’s besides the point.

Since I didn’t have a Game Boy I played the NES version. Now if you think that made it any easier you would be wrong. See we were pretty poor so the spare TV I had set up in my bedroom that we used to hook the NES up to was one of those old little tube sets with the rabbit ears and the UHF/VHS channel dials on the front. It also didn’t have coaxial inputs, we had to use one of those adapters with the y shaped prongs, you know which ones I mean if you had an Atari or similar console. Anyways the real issue was, it was an old TV which meant it was black and white. Now this was the same TV that brought me the magical wonder of the Atari in all it’s glory, so I was pretty used to playing games with no color. My first experience with Super Mario Bros. in fact was on that black and white set. So let me tell you the fact I got good enough to beat level 20 playing on a black and white TV should tell you how dedicated I was to that game. Oh, and it was a 3-day rental so I had to learn the game and get good at it in a very short time span. I instantly fell in love with that game.

Dr. Mario, for those that don’t know, is a puzzle game where the goal is to line up multi colored pills to match colored viruses. It sounds easy but if you take the colors out it’s much harder. This was back in the NES days when I still flipped through the manuals to read the story. I forget what it was but the fact it actually had some sort of narrative to justify Mario throwing pills into a jar was really cool to me. I kind of miss the days where you really had to use your imagination to flesh out the story for our video games. I kind of get sick of playing interactive movies. Not that I think modern games all suck, but still there is something special about a simple game with a straightforward objective, in this case clear the screen of colored viruses.

One thing I enjoyed about the game was the animations the viruses made. The way they danced around the petri dish in rhythm with the music. Or the way they would fall down kicking and screaming when you killed one of the viruses in the bottle. The game was pure magic. I even picked up the Game Boy version a few years later. I didn’t play it much. I wouldn’t actually play a handheld version again until I got the Classic NES edition for the GBA.

I also loved the music in this game. Like many puzzle games you really didn’t have very many tracks to chose from. But the few you did were still really great. I preferred the slower, angrier track to the happy up beat circus sounding music.

This isn’t so much a review of the game as just a trip down memory lane. I would spend hours playing this game. I had a few other versions over the years too. I bought Tetris/Dr. Mario for the Super NES during it’s heyday. I skipped the N64 Dr. Mario but I did have the Classic NES one on GBA. I also played Dr. Luigi on Wii U and there was a Dr. Mario On Wii but I think it was online only and I skipped that one too. I try to stick to the NES as my preferred way to enjoy this classic puzzle game starring my favorite video game character by far.

 

 

Getting to know famed video game collector The Immortal John Hancock

When I started getting really into video games I went all in. At the height of my collection I had hundreds of games spanning dozens of consoles. I couldn’t begin to list all of the games I had, but I can tell you the systems I had games for. When I sold off my collection to help pay for college I had an Atari 2600, 5200, Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, N64, Game Cube, Game Boy, GBA, DS, DS Lite and even a Sega Nomad.
Well none of that amounts to much compared to a “super collector” that goes by the name: The Immortal John Hancock. A middle-aged family man, Hancock hosts a Youtube channel where he talks about his massive collection. How massive is his collection? For starters it was large enough to be featured in a January 2004 article in the Tips N Tricks magazine. Hancock’s collection consists of 26 complete sets. That is, he owns every single retail game released for 26 different systems. Still not impressed? The man has been collecting since the 1970’s.
How does a person find the time to collect all that stuff? It didn’t happen all at once.
“My mother was a collector. I used to go to flea markets with her as a kid. I began collecting carts, comics and figures. The collection evolved into games which I found much more satisfying.” he said.
His first game console he had as a kid was a Radio Shack TV scoreboard. He described it as basically a Pong clone.
As someone who also had a Radio Shack pong system myself as a kid, I find it refreshing to know many of us can still go back to our roots. In fact one of my only 2 true retro consoles remaining is a Sears Super Pong. My other retro console that sits in a box, a dusty old Intellivision 2 with Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module. What’s interesting about Mr. Hancock is he started by seeking out unique Pong systems.
“I always have had a fondness for collecting pong consoles.  Mostly due to them being forgotten by others.  I just picked them up along the way due to being very affordable.” he said.
As a family man he enjoys sharing his collection with his wife and kids.
“My game collecting is something that I can share with my kids.  I always try to remember balance.   More strengthens my bond with my kids.” he said.
He also enjoys the support of his wife in his endeavor.
“My wife does not collect but she supports my hobby and I return the favor by not having it affect our relationship in a negative way.”
he added.
So what games do his kids enjoy? Well probably the same ones we all did when we were kids.
He said, “My kids love Nintendo and playing on games like Smash Bros or Mario Kart on the Wii U.  ARMS on the Switch is also a favorite.  Hard to say if they like video games the way I like them, but I can see them carrying on the mantle of at least playing video games with others.”
In recent years he has stated one of his goals is to some day see his games in a museum. Preservation has become more of a focus of his in the last 10 years. He is currently building a new game room onto his house to showcase his collection to his Youtube followers. His internet fame has begun to get him and his wife noticed. He said he gets noticed more at shows or conventions, and it hasn’t had any negative impact on his life to date.
A no regrets kind of guy, he has stated he doesn’t give much thought to his legacy after he is gone. He prefers to just do his best to be as good a person as he can.
“[I] ry to do my best as a human being whatever I do each and every day.   Teaching, talking, and interacting with others each day gives an opportunity to make a difference.” he said.
Speaking of teaching, aside from being a public figure on Youtube, he is also a school teacher. We all had that one school teacher that stood out for us. For me, when I was in grade school I had a teacher that would keep me after school to teach me BASIC programming on the classroom’s Apple II computer. At the end of the school year, I was able to demonstrate my programming ability to the class by showing off the program I had written. It was a monochrome bit map recreation of the Death Star from Star Wars. It was programmed line by line. It sort was sort of animated but not much. To me it was just really cool to have a teacher that recognized my potential outside of the classroom to give me that opportunity. Mr. Hancock has demonstrated that himself by using his video games to teach his students.
“I offer my kids experiences playing classic gaming at the end of the year. This last year my students got to play the original Oregon Trail.” he said.
He also shared he gives considerable thought to his students who has also impacted his own life.
His true goal is preservation. He wants to tell the story of gaming history and keep an objective outlook on the early days of video games. He shares his collection through his own channel, The Immortal John Hancock, and with his friend MetalJesusRocks, who helped launch his channel, and his friend Drunken Master Paul, also on Youtube, who helped give him the nickname that has become a part of his branding.
As I look back on the games I gave up in order to fund my college education I find solace knowing there are people out there that aren’t chasing down the rare games just to horde them, you have people like The Immortal John Hancock, and others, actively trying to preserve video game history. I can’t even begin to imaging ever building my collection back up to where it was so I can at least tell people about this interesting man whose videos often remind me of all the fun I had chasing down those rare video games. Maybe someday I will get back into it, for now I will gladly keep an eye on my subscription feed for a new video from The Immortal John Hancock. You can find John Hancock on Twitter and Facebook.

Confessions of a ‘Millennial’: What it means to be a part of the most hated generation of our time.

There is much confusion abounding about what it means to be a “Millennial,” I just wanted to clear a few things up. To some it’s a pejorative, an insult, to others it’s merely a misunderstood “generation” and to marketers in the media its nothing but a demographic that they think they understand. I can tell you one thing, weather you consider yourself to be a part of the so-called millennial generation or one of the generations that look down upon them, there is something you need to know, it’s all a figment of your imagination.

Before they were calling us millennials they called us the MTV generation. Demographers define the “millennial” generation as those who were coming of age during the year 2000, as in anyone who was either a teenager or a young adult. The typical, most widely accepted date line is anyone born between 1980 and 1995. I guess I fall smack in the middle of that generation. I knew I wasn’t Gen-X, that’s my mom’s generation and it’s kind of hard to be in the same generation as your parents, being the “next generation” of their DNA and all that.

What does it actually mean to be a “Millennial?” Well nothing really, it’s a made up word used by members of the so-called “main stream media” and marketers as a way to define those young people currently between the ages of 22 and 37 or somewhere in that age range. The stereotypical millennial is some super entitled hipster that has a smart phone permanently attached to their hand with their face planted firmly into the abstract cloud based world-wide-web of information. Often described as lazy, entitled, too into their technology and so many other negative’s I don’t have the energy to go after them all. But the name millennial itself, is so negative I know personally people in my generation, friends and family who are millennials, or at least are in the generation that is being talked about, who distance themselves from it, or use it themselves to talk down to the “kids coming up” I guess, without realizing the kids born in the year 2000, they can’t be millennials, they’re still in high school.

Here are my confessions as a so-called Millennial. Do I wear the name like a badge of honor, sure why not, the so-called mainstream media gets just about everything about us so far wrong that even other so-called millennials can’t agree on what it means to be one. Let me put it like this, many of the actual millennials I now who are in denial, that say things like we’re all narcissistic, or “they’re” all narcissistic, are usually posting pictures of their kids doing the most mundane thing as some accomplishment to social media while simultaneously knocking other so-called “millennials” for doing the exact same thing. Well sure hypocrisy is rampant among any generation, just look at the “greatest” generation and their baby-boomer children. Actually don’t look that closely because you might discover that the “greatest” generation, wasn’t actually that great, and you might be further shocked to learn that the MTV generation, as we used to be called before it was cool to define us by the Y2K bug that we supposedly caused. Oh right I guess I lost my train of thought, we tend to do that being that we’re all OCD with ADHD and whatnot. I guess I should point out that if you compare the accomplishments of the baby boomers to our generation, well the baby boomers end up looking like a bunch of bitter old farts barking at their computers trash talking those silly millennials and their stupid little gadgets.

Okay maybe that was a little harsh, I have some good friends that are baby boomers, but even they often have not only negative stereotypes of our generation, including false assumptions of me personally. Needless to say they aren’t all that bad, but you know what, neither are we.

So what does a so-called Millennial do with his or her day? The same thing the baby boomers did and the Generation X-ers that spawned us, we live our lives. We go to school. We start families. We build bridges and start businesses, invent new technologies, replace outdated systems with new and improved systems; you know the same thing every generation before us did. And like every generation before us, the one that came before always looks down on the one coming up. Hell we do it to the, what are we calling them now snowflakes, that are coming up behind us. Some people mix up the “snowflakes” with the millennials. In other words, nothing has changed every generation digs on the one coming up, it’s the same as those old timers who reminisce about the so-called “good old days” which is just a myth because the problems of the world have been the same since the beginning of recorded history, pick up a bible or any history book to learn about that.

Alright enough complaining so what are some things that the pollsters get wrong about millennials? I guess for starters that we’re all socialist, elitist hipsters that have OCD and are narcissistic to a fault.

I will tackle each one individually. I will start with the accusation we’re all socialists. False. Our generation has done more for capitalism than the Generation X ever did. When Gen X wanted to go to the moon they built a socialist program funded by tax payers that was used to bolster national TV ratings so capitalist advertisers could line their pockets. Okay a 50-50 split for socialism. What has our generation done? We said screw NASA and their tax payer funded military driven hidden agenda, let’s privatize space exploration with Google and Space X having REPLACED NASA’s outdated shuttle program and currently working on space tourism that is designed to be, eventually, affordable for the masses. Under the generation X/Baby boomers only a handful of government trained elitists would EVER get the “privilege” of flying into space. Under the direction of the millennial generation, our kids and our grandkids will be able to fly to a space hotel in low earth orbit thanks to capitalist investments in space. Point goes to the Millennials. I will give a point to NASA and the Boomers for at least secretly launching the internet as part of the very same socialist space program they developed to combat Russian socialism, I mean Communism.

What about we’re all elitist hipsters? Also false, about as false s you can get. The one most common complaint I hear by boomers and older gen-xers is the breakdown of country clubs, the declining membership of elitist members-only groups that require members to pay monthly dues to participate, alienating the lower-income folks, in order for the so-called elites to stick together to hold onto the way things are. Millennials as a whole tend to be less likely to join elitist members-only clubs, not because we’re not civic minded or even all anti-social, more on that later. The real reason is we tend to be more inclusive, we tend to be more welcoming to who we associate with and while racism, bigotry and other words of the like get thrown about, our generation certainly has its share of racists, on both sides, as a whole we tend to be more willing to associate with people of different backgrounds, including those of a lower economic status as ourselves, and we tend to be more willing to do our volunteer work not so much for show or through organized members-only clubs, but instead we just do it because we see a person in need and we help them out. Again that goes hand in hand with dismissing the false claim we’re all socialists, because you know we’d rather help our members of the community out ourselves than rely on government assistance. We prefer to cut out the middle man and give directly, that is why we created things like GoFundMe and Patreon, seriously proof our generation is MORE giving than the boomers and Gen-Xers.

How does GoFundMe or Patreon prove we’re more giving? Well it also proves we’re less selfish than we’re described. The Boomers especially when someone fell on hard times would give money to charities with large overhead costs that would barely do anything more than make people feel worthless for falling on hard times. With GoFundMe we cut out the middle man, if someone is struggling they create a GoFundMe and ask for a reasonable amount of money to get through their hardship, maybe it’s make a late mortgage payment to help a single mother out who lost her job, or maybe it’s to help someone who doesn’t have insurance pay for a medical bill that is insurmountable. So instead of telling that person go through the lengthy process of filling paper work applying for charities to raise the funds and waiting for bureaucrat to approve the funds, we can just give a few bucks here and there to any cause we feel worthy and the people get the money directly and use it for whatever they say they are using it for.

What about Patreon? Well another thing we Millennials did was we got tired of McDonald’s, Pepsi, Ford, AT&T, Big Tobacco, and beer companies deciding what we get to watch. We did away with the out-dated advertising driven model of TV, movies, books, video games, radio, etc., and developed what is known as social media. The very basic aspect of it is the Facebook and Twitter but it goes deeper. We have YouTube, Twitch, Netflix, Instagram, Spotify, and a host of other internet based content created BY regular people FOR the entertainment of ourselves. Some of the content, much of it in fact, is social or viral videos, normal people sharing the little moments in their lives with the wider internet. You know so whenever one of our babies or pets does something extra cute we video it and share it with the whole world, this partially explains where the accusations of narcissism comes from, however it’s really just our way of saying hey, here is a nice little distraction from the corporate advertisers telling you what you are supposed to enjoy. The way Patreon works is instead of an advertiser commissioning a director and a team of writers to develop a series, a small group of maybe two or three creative individuals goes to the internet and tells their plan for a show to those who might be interested. An example would be someone who has a vlog series (video log) where they talk about topics people are interested in. A very interesting one that I enjoy DAILY is called “Today I Found Out” where you get brief, usually less than 7 minute, video dedicated to a fun, interesting topic that gives you some basic information, usually insightful and often as much as you would get in a typical Discovery Channel program but without all the commercials and filler getting in the way of the entertainment. So Patreon is a way for a fan of the creator to donate any amount they wish, large or small, directly to the creator both as a thank you for the content and as a way of supporting their favorite programs, ensuring they stay “on the air” without having to resort to organize letter writing campaigns like the famous Star Trek deal from the 1960’s.

In addition to GoFundMe and Patreon we have a thing called crowd funding, another example would be Indie-GoGo where a film maker, author, or video game developer can announce their plans for a project and ask for donations directly from the same people who are likely to spend money on the finished project. There is another one called Kickstarter that is popular. The point is we don’t rely on the institutions of the old timers to get our entertainment or other projects; we give directly to inventors, authors, story-tellers, even musicians, instead of letting some big corporate entity take all the profit and control the message. I guess to some that makes us look socialists, but it really just makes us innovators. Another point goes to the millennials.

What about we’re all OCD, ADHD or have some other disorder like social anxiety or something else? This one can be a bit touchy but let me just keep it simple, we don’t have any greater frequency of mental health than any other generation based on any information I could find, we just live in a modern society where more information is known about things that in previous generations we didn’t know as much. I will say that yes we have all grown up with our computers and electronic devices, even more so than the Generation X-ers that basically started the computer revolution. But really all we did as take what they started and perfected it. They made the World Wide Web, we made it better. They created AOL, a corporate portal that kept the internet hidden behind a pay wall with advertisers determining what content was available, we created social media and open source platforms where the entire internet is basically free and anyone can access it openly, you know just taking their vision and making it an actual reality. Don’t get me wrong I have ancient memories of the dusty old dial up days of American Online and using Keywords to search for terms instead of using Facebook and YouTube to share web pages and videos. Memes wouldn’t even be possible without our intervention.

Sure you look at Pokémon Go and see the decline of civilization, or see something like Oculus Rift as one more way for us to stay at home and not get fresh air. But what I see is a world where we have information available to us that we can use to our advantage to not only make our own lives better, but the world a better place too. Also for those politically minded, Millennials vote in the same patterns as their parents, Baby Boomers that were conservative spawned liberal Gen X babies who rebelled against mommy and daddy, those Gen X-ers spawn conservatives who rebelled against their liberal parents, and vice versa, that’s how it works kids rebel against their parents ideals and discover their own way in life, it’s okay for them to do that this is why you kick us out of the house and tell us to get a job. Maybe we drag our feet in leaving the nest longer than previous generations but that’s because we’re often very busy using our electronic gadgets to make the world a little less scary for the next generation.  I give that point to our parents for raising us right. So maybe Generation X and Millennials are both pretty good after all. Maybe instead of spending so much time passing the blame around why don’t we just celebrate our accomplishments, enjoy the fact we live in a free society where we can say whatever we want, and just live our lives without worrying about what other people think. Am I a Millennial, you bet your ass I am, and I am not ashamed of being a part of the greatest nation on Earth, I am just glad I was born at a time when we can reach beyond our own weaknesses and connect with others that share our faults. If I didn’t have the connections I made on the internet, I might not be who I am today.

 

Does the Switch success actually hurt Nintendo?

Right now the entire internet, at least the segment of the internet that pays attention to video games, is paying close attention the Nintendo’s newest gadget, the Switch. I have to say since November when they first showed off what the Switch was capable of I have been taken in. Full disclaimer, I love Nintendo and I typically do buy their machines. But I can safely say my buying habits do reflect the larger gaming audience as a whole so I will use that as a measure to make my point.

Each subsequent home console generation from NES, to Game Cube, Nintendo seems to lose some of their market share. As I have previously pointed out, while their home console base has shrunken over the years, their overall base has grown, partly because they have continued to find success in their handheld divisions. They had 1 outlier, the Wii, which was the first time they not only increased sales, but surpassed their previous record holder, the NES. This was a big deal for the industry because it proved that Nintendo’s philosophy they weren’t competing directly with Sony or Microsoft could be true.

Here is where my question comes into play. I already assume the Switch will be a success because it combines the handheld market with the home console market, obviously that is part of the draw. The reason that could spell success is not because you can take the home console games on the go, that IS NOT a new concept there have been plenty of other systems that did just that. The first notable one was the Turbo Express which let gamers play their Turbografx-16 console games on the go. Then there was the Sega Game Gear which had a converter that allowed you to play Sega Master System games on the go. This was followed by two more portable home console devices from Sega, the CDX which was a sort of, portable Sega CD player, it could connect to a portable screen if you had one, and the Nomad a truly portable Sega Genesis complete with 6-button layout.

Then there is the reverse, which has many gamers also excited, playing portable games on the big screen. This has a big draw because hand held games tend to be reminiscent of retro or classic games. Typically handheld machines were running on last gen hardware or two gens back. The Game Boy was sort of NES hardware and was released during the NES lifespan, but it was black and white only and ran on a much smaller resolution, so compromises had to be made. Game Boy Advance, released at the same time as the Game Cube, PS2-era power, was basically running on SNES levels of power with slight tweaks. Even the Nintendo DS, released just before the Xbox 360-era, was running on essentially N64 hardware in portable mode. This is key because to keep costs down developers have had to make compromises. This means that mobile games running on Switch don’t have to be targeted towards lesser hardware, but they can be tweaked for the mobile experience. I suspect Switch will attract those typical mobile and handheld games that have made past Nintendo handhelds so popular among their target audience. But again playing mobile games, or handheld games, on the big TV is also not new.

In the mid-90’s Nintendo themselves first dabbled in putting portable games on the TV via the home console, they did is with the Super Game Boy cartridge that ran on SNES hardware. They perfected this in the Game Cube era with the Game Boy Player which ran the ENTIRE Game Boy library ranging from Game Boy, Game Boy Color and the then current Game Boy Advance. Sony has even found some limited success with this by putting TV outputs as an option on their PSP and PS Vita devices, especially if you look at the PS Vita TV. So putting portable games on the TV is nothing new, and taking the home console games on the go is nothing new, then what does excite people about the Switch?

This is where it gets messy for Nintendo. Most gamers are banking on the Switch being IT from now on. The belief is Nintendo will merge their portable and home console divisions into a single development platform, they have already stated this as having been done. The reason this is exciting is simple. If you look at a Nintendo release schedule in a given year, they make a TON of great games and attract a TON of great 3rd party and indie support. They do, just not on a single machine. If you divide their handheld and console into TWO machines, releasing separate games and having two divided release schedule you force gamers to make a choice, buy the less expensive, lower powered portable expecting it to have the games that will satisfy you. Another option that fewer people have been making, buy the home console machine for the grander experiences and sit through long periods of droughts with nothing to play. The third option, something fewer people do but what Nintendo really loved, buy both systems to get the entire library. This is key because typically, or traditionally that is, the portable games differed greatly enough from the console games you really had to chose which experience you preferred. Starting with Wii U Nintendo began merging the two libraries. First instead of releasing separate versions of some games, a home versions and a scaled down entirely different portable version, like Super Mario World vs. Super Mario Land, Donkey Kong Country vs. Donkey Kong Land, Kirby Adventure vs. Kirby’s Dreamland, etc. This time they gave you ONE game and released it on both systems. They did this with Super Smash Bros., NES Remix 1 and 2, Super Mario Maker, and a host of others. Another reason the Wii U failed was the library was too similar to the 3ds, which was selling much better and had far superior support. Super Mario 3D World didn’t really offer much different of an experience as Super Mario 3D Land.

So what happens if Switch just gets ALL the games going forward does that automatically mean it will get ALL the gamers going forward too? Here is my pause for concern. If you take this through logically it can mean only 1 thing. Nintendo has basically given up on the true home console market and doubled-down on the portable scene. Their hedging their bets on a dedicated portable machine that can connect to a TV. A few years ago I suggested Nintendo should just make a gaming tablet that used real buttons on the sides and could connect to a TV via HDMI out and I was called crazy for that. My logic was Nintendo’s consoles suffer from lack of releases because Nintendo cannot support two machines, they do not have the resources, money, man power, tools, etc, to do that. If they had all of their teams making all of their games for one system, then they will have the BEST software library in the world and could dominate the gaming industry. They did this twice before, the first time was with NES, they had 90 percent of the entire gaming market during those years. Granted the market was smaller and vastly different then, they dominated because they had so many great games on the system. It was beginning with SNES they had to split their attention between developing games for two machines. It wasn’t as noticable then because the Game Boy was basically just a watered down NES, they could get their summer interns to port NES games down to the Game Boy while sparing a smaller team here and there to pad the schedule with original games. If you look at the classic Game Boy library it really was just an NES port machine those first few years. Even if Super Mario Land was a truly original game, that was about it, and even that was very small scale compared to their console games. Also console games didn’t require as much of an investment to make.

This split wasn’t really noticeable until the N64 and Game Boy Pocket years. This was when Pokemon gave the Game Boy line a second life, remember Nintendo’s intention was for the Virtual Boy to replace the Game Boy, when that failed to take place they scrambled to double-down on saving the Game Boy to stay in business. Then N64 games took a much larger level of investment and a longer time and manpower commitment to get made. They were GRAND, they were large, epic masterpieces, for the time, that rivaled the games Sony and friends were making. The problem was they took so much effort to develop instead of having 7 teams working on 5 console games and 2 portable games, you had 2 teams working on 2 console games and 2 teams scrambling to work on 1 portable game. These numbers are not exactly literal, I don’t know the inner workings of Nintendo, but I DO know from reports at the time and talking to developers over the years, they did consolidate teams and if you read the end game credits you start to see proof of this. N64 was desperate for games so Nintendo handed out licenses to so many partners to help out, which is why you had Rare, Hudson and even Midway making games for Nintendo using their characters, they had no choice they were understaffed and over worked. Thing’s only slightly improved with the Game Cube, droughts were less common partly because Nintendo designed the Cube with their developers in mind, to make developing as easy as possible to streamline the process, they also purchased some new developers to pad the schedule and reached out to even more 3rd party partners to get Nintendo games made using their characters but made by other companies. This time they had Namco and Sega and even Square and Capcom helping out. This was even noticable on the portables when Nintendo handed their most prized IP, the Legend of Zelda, over to Capcom! This was all proof Nintendo couldn’t make enough games to support their systems by themselves.

The issue came about as console sales declined, they couldn’t continue justifying paying developers for support and as costs increased due to going HD and games becoming more complicated and advanced, developers had to be more cautious where they put their money. Again it takes even more resources to make games in HD than SD, even the same exact scope of a game, so that is where Switch comes in.

IF Nintendo can once again consolidate all of their teams to making games for just a single machine, effectively killing off the home console division and merging the two into a single portable first with TV play as an option, then they have succeeded in solving their BIGGEST issue, release droughts. Even now the Switch is seeing fewer games up front than Wii U did, it does have more games announced and in development then Wii U did during the same time frame and from the looks of it, many more 3rd party partners are on board. The key is portables sell better and are easier to develop for and don’t directly compete with the other home consoles, so this allows Nintendo do finesse developers to make games locked to a console, say an exclusive like SF5, because if the contract says console exclusive they could argue Switch is not a console it’s a portable, they have done this in the past, Sony and Microsoft have allowed their games to be released on Nintendo portables at times neither of them had portables in the market. Sony moved away from this once PSP and Vita came along, but even companies that never make games for the home console, still make games for the portable because 1, its cheaper, and 2, the sales potential, thus profit margin, is greater.

In the short term this could spell great success for Nintendo, a unified machine that does everything, gamers have been wanting this ever since PC gamers got their wish with the coveted gaming laptops and even the rise of gaming tablets. This is where the concern comes about, can Nintendo compete directly with Tablets and Laptops and Mobile Phones if say Sony decides to make PS5 a dedicated gaming tablet with multi media features, 4K output, and a Blu Ray disc support? History has indicated that in direct competition Nintendo handhelds do better than Sony while Sony consoles do better than Nintendo, but that is because Sony has ALL the 3rd party support while Nintendo just does well on their franchises and key 3rd party support while being cheaper. In a scenario where Sony had all their games on a machine that was equal parts home console, Playstation dominance, and equal parts portable, PSP tablet but with Playstation support, and instead of asking gamers to chose which machine to get, which they chose the Sony console and Nintendo portable, largely because the Sony portable mostly plays the same games as the console, this could backfire on Nintendo.

In direct head to head competition with hardware parity, 1 device that plays ALL the games no separate machines, and all the franchises land where they land, Sony wins because a dedicated gaming tablet that has Playstation controllers and Playstation level of games and Sony levels of multimedia, would KILL Nintendo because let’s face it, Nintendo survives on their franchises alone but they struggle to get 3rd party support. If Nintendo finds success with this model, Sony does have the resources to play the same game but this time could win. Here is why.

PSP struggled to take out DS despite having better hardware not because it was too expensive or the market just preferred Nintendo but BECAUSE the PSP library was not different enough than PS2. Even though it has a few select exclusives, basically every game on PSP is just a perfect or near perfect portable version of the same Sony Playstation home game. Basically what the Switch is but PSP had to also compete with PS2 and PS3 not just DS. DS was it’s own thing, it played entirely different games or different enough versions of franchises it would stand on its own. It didn’t directly compete with Wii, it complemented it. Switch replaces the home console basically putting all of their eggs in one basket. This could eliminate the edge that makes their portables so attractive. It already removed the SINGLE most attractive selling point, low cost of entry, because it is trying to be both a console and a portable.

Sony could easily out do them, they already have years of developing mobile tech and making a truly dedicated gaming tablet, even higher priced say $399 or even $449, people would buy. I think a single Plystation device that doubles as a portable would sell more than a Nintendo device that does the same thing, when you consider how the Sony machine will get ALL of the games and Nintendo will just have their games and select partners. Nintendo’s portable machines would start selling less each generation and Nintendo loses the edge they had. This is of course assuming Sony follows up with a Switch-like device. I think Sony would do better to stick with home consoles and concede the portable market to Nintendo, a return of the favor Nintendo just handed them the home console market.

See with Nintendo, the other Japanese developer out of the home console space, Sony wins by default. Japanese gamers and console gamers that enjoy Japanese games have had to chose get the Sony machine first and pick up the Nintendo second down the road when price comes down, pick up the Nintendo machine first for the 1st party games and get the Sony machine for the 3rd party stuff later when price comes down, or do what MOST people do anyways, get the Sony console and Nintendo handheld. In a world where every gamer buys a Sony home console AND a Nintendo portable, Microsoft either loses or is forced to compete harder. Sony can handle Microsoft but in a world with a united Nintendo core base, 100-200 million strong die-hard loyalists, Sony would be facing trouble. So Nintendo needs to concede the console space to Sony and concentrate entirely on making Switch a TRUE 3DS successor and let the Wii U and console line rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Retro vs. Modern gaming

The age old question, well maybe not age old but the question of the day is, what’s the better type of gamer the modern gamer or the retro gamer? For me personally I think they two both have merits, but as a primarily retro gamer I tend to lean towards retro as the better option. However there is a new way of thinking, the modern-retro gamer is also a thing now. Take into consideration the new, retro-styled games like Shovel Knight, or Retro City Rampage, to name two extremely popular titles. But that is not the type of retro gaming I am talking about so first let’s define retro, then lets define modern and compare the two to see which one offers the more robust gaming solution.

I have always identified four types of gaming platforms. The first is the arcade platform or the short, casual gaming  that dominated the 80’s and early 90’s. The second is the PC gamer, PC being short hand for computer which for me is all encompassing, the third type of gaming is the console game, the dedicated living room machine that offers a stripped down, bare-bones gaming experience or a completely streamlined all-in-one solution. The fourth type is the mobile gamer or the gamer on the go.

I define the divide between retro and modern differently for each of the four types of gaming. Arcade games are considered retro, to me at least, if they were created before the 3-D revolution. Retro arcade games range from the earliest video machines such as Pong or Space War, to the mid-90’s 2D fighting games. The divide is the Sega Model 2 hardware and the Midway Zues/Nintendo Ultra 64 hardware. Everything before those periods is retro and everything following is modern. Modern arcade gaming is mostly made up of dance and rhythm games, hunting games and simulations, mostly sports or horse racing, they aren’t really that many non-gambling games today that have any resemblance to the classic arcade quarter munchers of the yester-year we all long for.

PC gaming is a little more complex. For the most part, non-IBM PC or non-Windows based x86 gaming that ranges from the earliest microcomputers to the end of the Atari Falcon line and the Amiga brand are considered retro. For IBM-compatible or Windows PC, a.k.a “PC gaming” the divide is Windows 95. Everything before Windows 95, including DOS and all early Windows games are considered retro, including those from the PC CD-ROM era. Modern PC gaming basically starts with Windows 98 leaving Windows 95 as sort of a buffer between classic, or retro, and modern. I am talking strictly in game design and philosophy here, PC gaming became incredibly more complex with the start of Windows 95 and the introduction of Direct X, prior to that PC gaming was not at all unified nor easy to identify.

Handheld gaming is pretty much divided up into Game Boy and post-Game Boy. Meaning Everything from the Game Boy Advance (and variants) backwards is considered retro and everything from the Nintendo DS onwards (including mobile phones and PSP/Vita) is modern. Again this goes back to game design and philosophy. Prior to the GBA hand held games were basically seen as miniaturized versions or downgraded ports of existing games. With DS and PSP especially it was possible, and common, to have full blown console level dedicated games on the mobile platform that were basically comparable to the modern platform.

Console gaming the divide is much easier for the most part, but there are some overlaps. As with Windows 95, there is a clear-cut divide between classic game design philosophy and modern or even post-modern design philosophy, this is the Sony Playstation.

The Sony PS1 as it is sometimes called marks the buffer between retro or classic game design and the start of modern, cinematic story based gaming. PS1 is a transition console that includes a diverse library of classic and retro (modern at the time) games that played similar to the true retro games of the SNES, NES, ad Sega Genesis period, as well as the beginnings of the modern interactive movie games of today. The modern philosophy began mostly with Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Gran Turismo, Tomb Raider, and the infamous Grand Theft Auto, which all had their first bouts of success on the Sony Playstation. While FF7 was a benchmark for modern gaming, it was really based on the retro FF6 JRPG style but it deserves credit for bringing the RPG genre to the modern era. However, games like Castlevania Symphony of the Night, Crash Bandicoot, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Tetris Plus, Mega Man 8, and many, many more, play just like their 16-bit SNES counterparts leaving them as a bridge between the retro and modern gaming machines.

There is a little overlap however, Saturn is more modern than Retro and the Dreamcast is very modern while the N64 is more retro than modern. That is why I place the Playstation as the bridge between the classic, or retro and the modern with N64 and Saturn, it’s contemporary competition, as sort of buffers. For me those two machines are clearly retro but they have some of the beginnings of modern gaming seeping through. The N64 especially with its major push into 3-D gaming.

With the Playstation as the divider then, where does a modern gamer looking to get into retro gaming start? And for that matter where does a retro gamer looking to ease into modern gaming go?

I will tackle these both one at a time. For the modern gamer it depends on your point of entry. I will focus on each category, arcade, console, PC and mobile, and tackle them one by one.

The modern PC gamer is most likely going to do what all PC gamers have done since the beginning of time, work their way back to the beginning via their favorite franchises. A modern Doom gamer is going to go back and play classic Doom, a modern Elder Scrolls gamer should check out the original D&D games like Eye of the Beholder or the Warcraft games to get a good bit of history. The modern PC gamer has the benefit of Windows being essentially backwards compatible with pretty much all previous operating systems so it’s much easier for the PC gamer to go back in time and try out older games. Here is a road map I recommend for the modern, millennial and younger PC gamer.

As Windows 95 is the divide I recommend starting with some of the classic PC CD-ROM titles from the early DirectX era. A few to get started are MechWarrior 2, Descent, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3-D, Unreal, Star Wars Dark Forces, Myst, Tomb Raider, Alone in the Dark, Diablo, Warcraft, StarCraft, Sim City 2000, and Baldur’s Gate. These are all semi-retro but modern enough games for a PC gamer to get their feet wet looking to sample some classic PC gaming but without going too old school.

Then work your way backwards. Some good games to try from the VGA and 386 period would be the original DOS Duke Nukem side-scroller, Jazz Jackrabbit, Sim City, Eye of the Beholder and Eye of the Beholder 2 Legend of Darkmoon,  any of the early Bard’s Tale, Ultima and Might and Magic games. Then going further back why not give Commodore 64 a shot, either via emulation or scouring ebay for an actual working machine, they are pretty cheap by modern standards.

Arcade gamer I will just say this, either pick up MAME for your PC or get onto Xbox Live Arcade or PSN and look for retro arcade compilations like Mortal Kombat Komplete Kollection, Tower of Mystara Collection, Metal Slug Anthology, Namco Museum, Midways Arcade Treasures, etc, basically pick up any of these classic arcade compilations to get you started. The PS2 is the BEST retro arcade gaming machine outside of MAME.

Mobile gamer. I won’t get too into this one. Basically if you are into modern mobile games like iOS and Android games or 3DS and PS Vita games my advice is just dig back through the catalogs. The Nintendo Game Boy Advance is a very good place to start along with the original DS, there are tons of retro gaming goodies to be found on those as well as the PSP, a portable gaming treasure trove. Personally I recommend a GBA because it gives access to the Game Boy classic and Game Boy color line up of games as well and then pick up a DS or 3DS and work backwards through the catalog as they are backwards compatible then get into PSP when you are ready to upgrade into the meater portable games that are based on console gaming of the past.

Now for the console gamer. The roadmap here is more complicated. If your a modern Playstation gamer and want to get into retro gaming the first place to start is the PS1 classics. Then depending on if you are more into Japanese games or Western (US/European) games will determine which consoles to back track through. If you are more into Japanese games, Castlevania, Mega Man, Final Fantasy, etc, pick up a Super NES and dig into the classic games on there such as Super Castlevania 4, Street Fighter 2, Super Mario RPG, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy 3, Chrono Trigger, Mega Man X, and maybe some Contra 3. IF you are more into western gaming, then I recommend starting with a Sega Genesis and picking up some games like Chakhan the Forever Man, Vector Man, Earthworm Jim, Toejam and Earl, Streets of Rage, Eternal Champions, X-Men, Maximum Carnage, Boogerman, Fatal Rewind, Haunting starring Poulterguy, or even some Comix Zone. SNES has its fair share of western games too as does the Genesis its share of Japanese games, but the split is in favor of each as described above, for the most part.

If you want to wade into retro gaming without diving in head first, I recommend picking up a PS3 for the PSN games, PS2 for the arcade compilations and backwards compatibility with the PS1 library, the Nintendo Wii (or Wii U) for the Virtual Console, and a Nintendo DS and GBA for the plethora of retro gaming titles accessible via those platforms. Unless you are really into PC gaming or PC style games I don’t recommend the Xbox for retro gaming as its really more of a modern games machine and the handful of retro games you can get on an Xbox are ALSO on Playstation whereas there are DOZENS of retro games on Playstation and Nintendo that aren’t available on Xbox. Xbox is fine for modern gaming but its a wasteland for retro gaming unless you mod it in which case just load up the emulators on your PC and be done with it.

That is my Retro vs. Modern PC gaming guide.

Why to be excited for the Nintendo Switch

Just less than 2 weeks ago Nintendo dropped a bombshell on the entire gaming industry. They released a video that pretty much confirmed they are making the exact machine I have been begging them to make for over a decade, the exact machine I predicted they would make once I saw the Wii U. Okay they might have taken liberties with the concept but all I asked for was a powerful enough handheld console similar to DS that had TV output and could run semi-modern renditions of current games. Not only did they deliver on that they took it a step further.

The bottom line for those that don’t want to read a long article, is GAMES. This machine has the potential to have the strongest games line up for any Nintendo machine in years. Now read on for why I believe that if you dare.

But why am I so excited for a new Nintendo console if I have been so let down recently? For starters let me walk you back in time. I will keep this simple. In the early late 80’s there was no such thing as video games, there was only Nintendo. You invited friends over to play Nintendo, you went to the arcade to play next years Nintendo games, you watched Nintendo cartoons, ate Nintendo cereal, were duped into throwing away good money on the worst movie based on a video gamer simply because it had the name Nintendo on it. Then the world changed when Playstation came on the scene. Nintendo never faded away, contrary to popular belief they have actually increased market share and fan base every generation but they did it at a cost. The numbers don’t lie.

NES sold a whopping 90 million consoles world wide. Compare that to the less than stellar SNES, one of the most beloved and heralded as one of, of not THE greatest console of all time, barely sold over 55 million. You follow this up with the N64 selling a mere 33 million and the beloved, one of my favorites, the GameCube managed barely over 22 million and you get a picture Nintendo has been on the decline for years. Sure everyone points to the fluke that was the 100 million sales of the Wii as proof that wasn’t a case but then the mega flop that is Wii U died at a paltry 13 million and it took nearly 5 years to get there.

So what does that have to do with Switch?

Let’s wind the clock back one more time. The SNES barely sold 55 million units but in roughly that same time span the Game Boy sold an amazing 65 million units all on its own. Then while the N64 was barely pushing past 33 million the Game Boy color sold an impressive 45 million in the same time span. Along side the very small Game Cube user base was the very large GBA with a formidable 82 million units sold. Then there is the fluke years. Not only did Wii sell a phenomenal  100 million all on its own, it’s little brother the DS sold 155 million, besting even the world famous Playstation 2 for best selling dedicated gaming device, even if just barely. Why is that impressive? Because every hand held has had a 5 year lifespan, PS2 had a 13 year lifespan and PS1 had a 10 year lifespan. Oh and that failure that is Wii U and it’s pathetic, yes I said it pathetic, 13 million, well it’s counterpart has sold a respectable 62 million to date and it’s still going strong.

The point is if you look at just the console side it does appear as though Nintedo has been on the decline for nearly 25 years. But the reality is they have actually INCREASED user base every successive generation or at the very least maintained their minimum of roughly 90 million the NES launched.

So if you combine the handheld and the console the numbers are now much larger. Early 1990’s SNES/GB total is 120 units sold, or user base size. That is an increase of 40 million from the NES. The next phase was GBC/N64 (you could toss in the Virtual Boy’s less than a million but lets not) you get a number closer to 88 million, barey a 2 million decline from NES and a respectable number when you consider the POWERHOUSE that was Playstation 1 and the intense competition from Game Gear, Nomad, CDX, Neo Geo Pocket, Game.com, and you see a picture where that minor decline was really just a hiccup. Now the next phase, combined numbers put Nintendo at a very good 105 million for the GBA/GameCube, and yes many people owned Game Boy Players and relied on GBA connectivity with their Game Cubes so now even those numbers look good. Wii+DS is an incredible 265 million! So yeah for the 3DS/Wii U to be sitting at ONLY 80 million combined, all things considered, that’s still a feat worth noting.

Okay but I still haven’t explained how that will affect the Switch. Because true believers, it is BOTH a handheld and a home console. Why is that impressive? Let’s go back in time once again, the last time I promise.

SNES is the template for what a healthy Nintendo console library looks like, you had RPG games, fighting games, kids games, platformer and puzzle games, action games, quest games, maze games, cartoon games, ninja and martial arts games, if a game was made there was a very good chance it was on the SNES. But things took a dip with N64. SNES had a library over over 700 games released retail, and another 20-30 or so unlicensed games released via shady methods. N64 tops out at 297, and half of those are sports games. Not at all an impressive library. Sure it had some heavy hitters like Goldeneye, Mario 64, Smash Bros. etc, but come on no good Mega Man games, no 2D Castlevania, no Street Fighter, only 2 RPG games that barely qualify as RPG games the machine was a wasteland devoid of the kinds of games that gamers were flocking to the Playstation to get. But wait not so fast, Nintendo ‘gamers’ were still buying oh I don’t a little game called Pokemon that helped push the sales over the top. Okay you see the point? Now let me really make it clear. Even when 3rd party companies were dismissing Nintendo’s console they were still making great games for the handhelds, even Microsoft has made games for the Nintendo handheld even during the time Xbox was killing the console division.

Now imagine this scenario. You bought a GameCube, you took it home and oh crap you realize there are only 15 or so games to choose from, most are made by Nintendo and all the games you were wanted from Capcom, Sega, Konami, Rare, etc, were just gone. But those games were showing up in respectable SNES quality ports and sequels, where SNES was still the gold standard for game design, especially 2D, and suddenly if you have GBA and a GameCube you have access to a really robust library. The problem is buying a $200 + console AND a $100-$200+ dollar handheld well that is damn expensive. Many gamers are then forced to chose, which to buy first. The issue is gamers  had to split their money up so they go for the best bang for their buck, which turns out to usually be the handheld. Now not every gamer is going to buy both machines, most people don’t have that kind of money. Oh they do but they get the Nintendo handheld and the Sony or Xbox console. Well here’s is the kicker, the Switch is both.

What does that mean again? Basically it means that if you are in the market for a new Nintendo machine but you can’t decide which to get, the console or the handheld you look at the games. In the case of Wii U and 3DS you see a very similar library between the two so you decide 3DS is the better choice. But some people hate tiny handheld screens and do prefer to play on the TV, well if 3DS had just had TV output there would be no need for Wii U to even exist. That is the amazing part of the Switch, it means that you just spend the, presumably, $250-$350 dollars ONCE on one machine and spend the rest of your money on games. Now instead of picking the handheld first and getting 3 games and then the console next year and getting 2 games, you just spend all that money on 7-8 games, an increase of easily 2-3 games based on cost alone. The issue with Nintendo and 3rd parties is on console the games don’t sell because most people buy a Nintendo console for the Nintendo games and the Sony or Xbox console for everything else, or they stick with PC and Nintendo handheld. So in this scenario Nintendo is creating that means gamers will have more money to spend on the Switch games, companies will sell more games and make more money, that translates to them supporting the system longer. That is why I am excited for it. Not just because yeah I will finally be able to play Pokemon on a TV instead of a tiny screen, or that I will be able to take Smash Bros. on the go but because I truly believe this thing will easily do combined Nintendo sales, which will garner combined Nintendo support which to me means easily 80 million happy Nintendo fans all united under one platform playing all the same games, something we haven’t experienced since the NES days, you know before there even was a Game Boy and a handheld division.

Yes I am excited for the Switch, and based on the Pokemon Go craze I imagine many people the world over will be too once they learn what it truly is.