The Ataribox: what is it?

So a couple months ago Atari teased that they would be releasing their first console in 24 years since the Jaguar in 1993. This tease has actually turned out to be true and the company is currently working on their new console, the interestingly dubbed ‘Ataribox’ and images of the console were released to give us a look at what the company are hoping to make.

The console has a dark wood/black and red/black finish and gives the impression of an 80’s styled hardware with a modern crisp touch to it, reminiscent of their older models like the 2600. So far no release dates, game confirmations, specs or pricing has been confirmed or mentioned but it is stated that the console will have the best of retro and ‘modern’ content from the brand. Whilst Atari own the brand it is expected that a lot of their classic titles will end up on this console. It does not appear to be a simple ‘plug and play’ machine which has been created by third parties (most notably the Flashback console).

Recently on Steam, Xbox One and PS4 two Atari game packages were released called the ‘Flashback Classics vol. 1/2‘ and this is just some of many in terms of Atari re-releases over the years which have previously been on Steam and older Playstation consoles. There are so many ways of obtaining their back catalogue which features titles such as Pac-Man, Asteroids, Joust, Yars Revenge, Adventure, Centipede, Breakout and Space Invaders that is it really necessary for this console to even exist? Such a thought has drifted around for years as it seemed like another Atari console would never happen and the same could be said for a lot of other companies (one with a blue hedgehog).

The Atari Jaguar released in 1993 was a major flop and saw Atari exit the console market…in the time of their last console to the Ataribox…I was born.

This console will favour nicely to retro fans and it will be interesting to see if the console is a disc drive system seeing as the NES & SNES Classic Mini have proven to be popular and are such simple systems with no add-on features. Another interesting fact will be their idea of ‘modern’ games being thrown into the mix…surely this won’t have the most amazing specs and will sit in between console specs over the last few years. Will it merely just license recent Atari titles to its console like Roller Coaster Tycoon? Well it is nice to have everything in one place and the console itself does look aesthetically pleasing to say the least. On the other hand the name will strike a fuse with gamers seeing as the addition on ‘box’ contrasts with ‘Xbox’ but, I feel its to exemplify how a lot of Atari content will be in this machine…maybe it’s a prototype name like ‘NX’.

The console will have HDMI, SD Card and USB  inputs which gives me the impression that it will support modern gaming and have updated (to a degree) specifications. The console will also be crowdfunded and I imagine to shovel enough out the company will set themselves a high target. Atari are not just jumping right back into the console game as they are listening to fans and taking a step by step approach to make sure everyone’s feelings on the project are heard.

Stay tuned for further updates on this interesting new retro project!

Post-E3: What are we really wanting from games and their annual events?

It appears that many of us were left disappointed at the unfoldings from this year’s supposed ‘biggest gaming event’. E3 has its ups and downs every year as people favour companies to others and some perform better. As a combination those of the ‘big six’ certainly hit the marker more than others. The big six I speak of are Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda and EA. Last year appeared to be quite a big event with tons of great games announced…so why aren’t we pleased this year?

I will try and give my look on some issues which find us to be clashing over these conferences. Now for one I wasn’t disappointed by everything at the event. In my opinion the company that won E3 for me was Nintendo. You could say I’m quite the Nintendo fanboy and enjoyed what we got last year which happened to be mostly three games (Pokémon: GO, Pokémon: Sun & Moon and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). However, I favoured Sony’s as we got to see a ton of new games announced. This year Nintendo showed us new games from some of their much loved franchises which were Yoshi, Kirby, Mario and Metroid. These game announcements benefit both of their gaming systems (Switch & 3DS) and a partnership with Ubisoft showed their (Ubisoft’s) conference to be a major improvement on the previous year…less gags and more gameplay.

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The upcoming Spider-Man title on PS4 gave us a mixture of old titles and fresh new gameplay.

With my two comparisons of Sony and Nintendo, this year Sony merely showed titles we knew about and didn’t reveal any game release dates for this year. It was nice to see extended gameplay, especially for games such as God of War and Spider-Man, but besides that there wasn’t too much of what we already hadn’t heard of or seen. Should E3 be about showing gameplay from games coming up or about revealing new games? There is a lot of nostalgia pulling at the heart strings and fans are always looking to revisit old titles but at the same time want something new and exciting from the gaming world.

Xbox gave us some expected material for they have less franchises than Sony’s Playstation and we got to see more footage from Rare’s Sea of Thieves with the new additions Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2 along with some unique titles such as Ori & The Will of the Wisps. There were big games like Anthem, Metro: Exodus and Assassins Creed: Origins showcased at the event, but these are cross-over titles and so could have been shown by other companies. Indie title Cuphead from Studio MDHR was finally given a release date (September 28th) and Super Lucky’s Tale which was previously a VR character and reminisces Conker’s Bad Fur Day also caught my attention. There seems to be a big deal that even if the game isn’t by the company, them getting the game trailer out first appears to be vital for Microsoft….maybe Sony doesn’t have much more room? Hype is intended when you hear ‘world exclusive’ said before the pictures come onto the screen, but without hearing ‘Xbox exclusive’ it doesn’t sound as exciting.

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It was another year and another fast car for Xbox.

Obviously I’m forgetting the big elephant in the room or actually their smallest elephant yet which is the ‘Xbox One X’ (brilliant name). Yes it looks nice and if you’re a film fan you’re getting true 4K which the PS4 Pro cannot output and you also get 6 terraflops of memory storage, but when you’ve not convinced me with new games, how am I going to be interested in this machine? If you like Xbox I am sure this will be appealing and what caught my attention was the original Xbox console’s catalogue going backwards compatible on the Xbox One. Whilst we all want new…old sounds pretty good as well and will definitely push retro sales…and prices. That is where Sony miss out majorly. We like both new and old and yes all of these new games look nice but man we want some cross-play or some PS3 playability without paying out more for subscriptions.

There’s benefits to both consoles but what we didn’t see from Sony where they have the 1-UP on Microsoft is new footage from their VR tech. The Playstation VR is a really nice VR headset and has had some nice games and features so far in almost its first year. It would have been nice to receive some new content but I guess we can always receive that at any point of the year. The same goes for any game announcement. Does it always have to be at E3…can it not advance on a previous announcement?

One part of video games we love and can loathe is sequels to games as we like to further a series but do we get the same amount of new games or new game-types announced? Bethesda gave us Wolfenstein 2 and Evil Within 2, Ubisoft gave us Beyond Good & Evil 2 and EA some more sports titles like Fifa 18. Whether there is the case of longevity between games in a series to be taken into account like BG&E2 or the expected timeline follow up in the Bethesda names – is it all too ‘samey’ or ‘expected’? Just because a game in this series hasn’t been out for years, it doesn’t mean it’ll be good or perhaps we’ll get ourselves too excited and the hype will ruin our expectations. That can be an issue in deciding what to bring out next, especially from a retro perspective but a game like the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy couldn’t have come at a better time or been a better remaster.

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Activision’s conferences seem to have disappeared. Remember an expensive looking Eminem opening to promote the new Call of Duty: Ghosts title?

Perhaps we are lacking new games, but companies like Nintendo can keep using the same series’ again and again…is that because they got it right the first time? Is it the age difference between them and modern consoles or the game types? The longevity between Metroid games has proven to get folks excited even if it is another Prime game. We do get a lot of the same old genres like shooters and stealth titles – you can give them a new coat of paint and name/lead character but the playability will be similar. People might like that though and kudos to them.

If you’re someone who loves games and doesn’t believe in the consoles wars which is a thought process we should all have you may have less to worry about at such conferences except for the fact you might not see enough gameplay. Nintendo show off lots of gameplay (they have done so for Mario Odyssey) and you get to see all of the different worlds and abilities. Sony however showed small segments from the games but didn’t reveal too much more and then companies like Ubisoft may have just shown a majority of trailers. Obviously for their big games like Far Cry 5 and Assassins Creed: Origins we got gameplay but how much is too much? Some people might not want to see any past a simple launch trailer as they don’t want the game to be spoiled upon launch day. Others might want lots of content to learn more about the game before it is released. It’s a difficult area and no doubt these companies will think about how much and of what they want to show the audience.

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Nintendo changed their big conference stages shortly after the Wii U was available for purchase.

It has been rumoured that Xbox and Sony didn’t show us everything they had due to a big factor which is the timeline of showing the game to its release. Phil Spencer, the big dog at Xbox said that the company has signed new games but would not want to show something that might not even be out for three years. Xbox recently cancelled the production on title ‘Scalebound’ and so to create hype now for something that isn’t finished would be a risky move.

We will still have other gaming events throughout the year such as Gamescom where we can still expect to see more content. There’s new ways with the internet and streaming to advertise games (the Nintendo Treehouse as one example) and those are always a nice watch. It spreads out game announcements and we’re treated throughout the year instead of taking in everything at once and proceeding to argue about who was better. With how fast the gaming world is moving with advancements in picture quality, cross-play and virtual reality I’m left with wondering whether we’re even impressed these days and expect too much from companies. If a console can output good graphics, do we deserve them? Are game prices too high? Are we seeing the same game repeated too much? Should companies focus on less games? Endless questions and possibilities my dear Watson.

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Is E3 becoming a bit too ‘samey’ over the years and is this doing good for games?

Let’s just turn everything on its head for a second. Does E3 really do any good for the gaming world?

Are we not giving too much attention to one moment of the year and giving too much pressure onto game designers and companies? As video games are in no way a similar environment to what they were 20-25 years ago, are we looking at video games in the right way? They are a means of profit and E3 has definitely been a key player in carrying on profits in the gaming sphere for the next few months. A lot of material seems rushed and time and effort is wasted due to commercialism. There will always be deadlines but E3 is a bit like a toy at Christmas and everyone wants their big thing to be in everyone’s homes. What has saved video games recently has been indie titles because their breakaway from big name companies has brought some notable titles which may be influenced from better days but also made retro the norm again. Games such as Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac: ReBirth, Braid, Rogue Legacy, Fez, Owlboy, Limbo and many more have turned the focus away from big names and most will find themselves on most platforms after a couple years. There are still some credible games out there!

E3 is still a special place in the gaming world. How companies choose to stage their conferences is up to them and we do get a nice mix: EA in London and Los Angeles, Nintendo in their private conference and the others doing big rooms (and less jokes and bad presenting from Ubisoft this year made it one of the best). Sony adds a nice visual touch and Microsoft keeps it straightforward and tries a realistic approach and all are welcomed by audiences. We argue who has the better console and even though a lot of games from this year’s E3 will not be out this year we still have a lot to look forward to. No doubt we will see The Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding shown later on in the year by Sony…

 

The SNES Classic Mini: Thoughts

I wrote a piece back in April after I had first heard the rumour of there being the ‘SNES Classic Mini’ console which would follow on from the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) console from last year. Well the console is legitimate and will be released September 29th in the UK.

The consoles will feature 21 games including a title that was never released on a physical format in Britain: Starfox 2 which is very exciting. A lot of the other games you can buy on the Wii U eShop but some big names include Earthbound and Secret of Mana. All of your expected faces are there including Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Yoshi, Kirby and Samus which were all pretty much expected. Even myself gave a list in my other story where 14 of the games I proposed ended up being correct.

The NES Mini had 30 games and also retailed at £49.99 whereas the SNES Mini has only 21 games and will cost between £69.99-£79.99 due to high retail demand. No doubt this will be hackable again but the comaprison is sad because surely some games like Pilotwings, Chrono Trigger and Super Tennis could have made it onto the console? Or even the sequel Donkey Kong and Mega Man X games? I could list other games like Turtles in Time but there’s obvious copyright restraints that stop certain titles reaching the console. Sure it is 16bit but does that mean the console has to cost more? Once again there is a limited supply and it’s a worry Nintendo will not supply enough machines even though the demand will surely be even higher this time. Some of the original cartridges for these games cost £50 minimum and people really want to play these titles.

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What did you feel was missed from the SNES Classic Mini?

One of the issues with the previous machine was the controllers and I hope they’ve made the length longer but I’m not crossing my fingers for anything amazing. The inputs before were different as well so you couldn’t just plug in an old NES controller…oh no you would have to spend more on add ons…I hope I can use my SNES or third-party equivalents. It is rumoured that the console will be fitted with two controllers which means for games like Super Mario Kart and Kirby’s Dream Course you will be able to get playing straight away with a friend who doesn’t have the console and means you will not have to fork out another £40 for a controller.

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The SNES had some great games and I’m looking forward to playing them again in a whole new way. I’m disappointed by many factors I have outlined but it is nice to see retro gaming get the love it deserves in the modern day. Let’s just hope for more consoles and less scalpers which ruin everything good about gaming.

At the end of the day there is still the possibility of purchasing the original consoles or purchasing a retron combo replica, but for those on a budget or want to try these games out for the first time this is a great way to do so.

I wouldn’t have even minded some more fighting games…

Here is the full list of games:

  1. Contra III: The Alien Wars
  2. Donkey Kong Country
  3. Earthbound
  4. Final Fantasy III
  5. F-Zero
  6. Kirby Super Star
  7. Kirby’s Dream Course
  8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  9. Mega Man X
  10. Secret Of Mana
  11. Star Fox
  12. Star Fox 2
  13. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  14. Super Castlevania IV
  15. Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts
  16. Super Mario Kart
  17. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  18. Super Mario World
  19. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  20. Super Metroid
  21. Super Punch Out!!

 

Capcom announces Mega Man Legacy Collection 2!

After the success of the Mega Man Legacy Collection which launched on Xbox One, PS4 and PC in August 2015, Capcom has announced there will be a follow up featuring some of the series’ rarer titles!

The original collection release saw the six main Mega Man titles from the Nintendo Entertainment System but in the 8-bit era of the little blue guy there were other titles during the X period and later on in life.

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Some of the series’ rarer titles all in one affordable collection

This new collection introduces 16 and 32 games bringing Mega Man 7 (Snes) and 8 (Playstation) and the virtual titles from the Xbox 360, Mega Man 9 and 10 to next-gen consoles. The earlier two titles saw a fresh pallete in comparison to the rest of the numbered Mega Man games and almost had that fresh feel that Mega Man X had but still feeling true to its 8-bit origins. The latter were a major throwback to the original games with a look that was made ever-so famous by Mega Man 2. All of these titles mixed the mainframe of the series up a lot giving Mega Man a lot more attributes and spicing up the levels to keep you on your feet.

The Mega Man series is renowned for its difficulty and no doubt fans will be trying to prove their skills with some of the harder titles to be released. On the contrary the game will feature an armour pack to ease players into the games. That’s not all though as the games have remixed stages adding to the difficulty and content. Unlike previous games there will be savepoints which are a blessing in disguise with these difficult games. You would hope that with there only being four titles instead of six that you would get extra content as well. With this style of Mega Man games complete we can only hope for a new title or even an X collection as all of the games in both series prove to be some of the priciest collector’s items.

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If these games weren’t hard enough already…

The game will release on August 8 and will also feature a look at Mega Man’s history with the art design and character lists. The game will also feature the four title’s soundtracks with some of them having some really nice tracks that will make you feel incredibly nostalgic. The physical and digital release is priced in America at $20 so will no doubt be around a similar price in the UK.

Get your blasters at the ready for one of the best game packages you wil receive this year! I very much look forward to playing as Rockman this Summer!

‘Gamer’ – Hanging the term loosely in our busy lives

To describe ones self as a ‘gamer’ is perfectly fine in my books and I assume the phrase will be used in many different manners as a lot of labels are these days. There are many different types of ‘gamers’ or shall we say, people who play video games. I have certainly in the past called myself such a thing but, upon having a busy work schedule, the amount of gameplay I manage to rake in has varied if not decreased.

With that decrease so has the type of games I play. I used to play everything basically at one point or another and have gone through different phases where I would play indie games, retro games, Nintendo games and now I find myself to be playing more multi-player or online-orientated titles. The reason for this it would seem is that I appear to be afraid of story-based games as they do not take the same approach as an online shooter.

Take a game like Overwatch for example which has become a favourite of mine over the last year. The Blizzard shooter has many different types of shooter mini-games such as capturing the flag, revolving character play, point claiming and objective delivering. Most of these games can range between 2-10 minutes depending on the game and the ability of the team to hold off against the other. These games can be over quickly and with that you are also rewarded for your progress and play with ‘loot boxes’ which are treasure chest unlockable items such as new character skins. Now you don’t get them after every game, but you will probably play at least a level’s worth of gameplay in a sitting to claim something from it.

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Overwatch has become one of the most popular online shooters with a core following of fans

Like other shooters such as Splatoon, it has monthly events which draw in more play-time because there’s that unlockable factor and once that campaign ends, those skins and other unlockables are unobtainable. So in one theory I may not feel as much of a gamer now because I concentrate on one game more than others in my vast (ever-growing) collection. Is it bad to only play one game? In no way is it my favourite but it certainly strikes out more to me than other titles in its genre.

Another way I look at this is almost ‘drug like’ as I want my quick fix of achievement. I did used to play for achievements and try and get as many as I could. There’s many different senses of accomplishment in games and completing a game seems to be one I struggle with these days. The main games you will find for completing at least for the most part are ‘story based games’. You know like something that might lead to end credits after a campaign in Halo or Horizon Zero Dawn and with these and the idea of ending a game quickly is another problem I face.

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Horizon Zero Dawn… I will finish you one day

It might even sound like a chore. I can assure it’s nothing like that but, sometimes playing certain story-based games I feel I could be looking for the nearest save point because I feel I need to take a break from the experience or don’t feel like I can invest too much time into the game. It could even be that I feel the end of the game is so far in the distance I cannot feel like I’ll reach it.

Having so many games provides an issue of what do I want to play or feel like playing. Leaving myself in a difficult position of what to play might just take me to something familiar that I can adjust to quickly like a bit of Battlefront on my PS4 with a game of Blast (first to 100 kills in a team game). Referring back to playing for purpose and achievement, if I am a very busy person which I tend to be balancing work, music, home and other media forms I need to find time to enjoy a story-based game to its fullest and with a game like Gears of War, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Bloodborne or Fallout 4 I want to devote a whole days playing to really get something out of it.

Growing up I played a lot of 3D platformers such as Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and games like this and those inspired by Super Mario 64 let you play at your own pace at times and explore areas. There weren’t time limits like in my other genre love that is side-scrollers (although I played a lot of Sonic The Hedgehog with no time or end wall restrictions). I feel that relaxed environment aided me into playing video games gently…not having a memory card for my PS1 for a long time has probably ruined my engagement for stories as well.

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The average Mario Kart race will last around 4 minutes so a cup race is over quickly

One game I am playing a lot of at the moment is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch and the future games Nintendo have planned fit the same feeling I get with this title. So far on the Switch we have received a small number of big titles which have been the aforementioned Zelda title Breath of the Wild along with Super Bomberman R and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the latter two have major multi-player aspects to them on top of their single player options. Coming this month is boxing title Arms along with July’s Splatoon 2 which are all heavy multi-player games. Since its release I have been a big fan of the Switch and its capabilities and with a lot of my time on it being played with friends and colleagues the thrills of the games are quick and enjoyable.

I guess the benefit of the Switch is that I can incorporate it into work time on lunch breaks so I get the best of both worlds, giving me much needed gaming time. At the same time, I have yet to complete the main story of Breath of the Wild which I hope to achieve by the end of year and I can play this game wherever I go, but at the same time it still feels like a sit down kind of game where I want to be in my own comfort zone. A gamer for me feels like someone who is playing lots of games all of the time and playing them to completion and this was once me but is such a title that important? Maybe we should start a campaign for me to play more games to completion new and old…because man I love my retro games.

Retro games give me another enhancement of how much I have to play as for not being old enough for when the majority were produced. The only benefit to some of them is that they are a lot shorter than other games and probably can be beaten in one sitting. A lot have loopholes (not forgetting modern games like Sonic Boom) which leads to quicker completion. It all may just be a matter of well developed time management and ignore procrastination.

I ask you the audience as I conclude this post, is it important to rush games to the finish or can we go back and play them whenever? Should we concentrate on one game at a time or fill ourselves with a nice mixture?

Thank you for reading
Travis Ward – Wardculture

Travis questions his love for Nintendo for the 634th time

Nintendo is like that badass biker dude who has no care for education and I’m the young goody-two-shoes protagnosit depicted in most teen hearthrob drama movies. I know I should stay away but damn he just keeps pulling me back in in new ways that surprise me. I’ve shared with a lot of people over the last year why I love and why I also find troubling times with the big N and now with production stopping on the NES Classic Mini I feel it is time to talk about Nintendo some more.

I have started and never finished many stories on Nintendo on both this blog and others and I wonder why that is. I end up being a massive hypocrite basically and realise whilst coming to my conclusion that, even though Nintendo might be one of the most problematic companies in the history of video games that I could look back on and shake my head profusly…I just love their video games and franchises. When the NES Mini was announced I thought it was a neat concept and looked pretty cute but, I had easy access to the majority if not all of these re-released games on my Wii U. The big difference was the playing styles such as CRT, 3:4 and HD along with save files that weren’t possible on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

One Sunday at my old work place I saw a NES Mini and bought it due to my thoughts on this being a very limited item and I wasn’t wrong. Now I am an owner of an original NES and I love it to pieces but I also enjoy the modern copy. It’s quick and easy to use and those save files are a life saver. They save me some money from buying expensive games like Metroid, Mega Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda II. The main issue I had was the cable length of the controller and how I had to sit on the floor to play games…it’s not really an issue but the original controller is nothing like this. The other issue is the 30 games capacity on a box which only has a motherboard inside and tonnes of empty space. I guess it’s because it’s a greatest hits and licening would have amped up the price but obvious hacks have shown how pointless it can be.

Where does Nintendo become a real problem in all of this? Oh it’s the fact that there’s a high demand for their product and they had limited numbers once again. They thought there wouldn’t be much hype and that sounds like they don’t even know their own products. The NES is one of the most iconic pieces of tech that ever existed. To make matters worse is that even now there is and has been high demand for the NES Mini but oh guess what? They cancelled production just like they cancelled production on the Wii U as Breath of the Wild was just around the corner. For a company that still rakes in billions but is also a shadow of the titan it once was is really bad at decision making. Maybe the NES Mini was expensive for the demand but, the fact that a lot of people won’t be able to own it and the capitalisting owners of said console are really exploiting this with outrageous pricing.

Nintendo or sources are trying to make everything sound better by saying “hey remember that other great console we had, yeah you know the one, the Super Nintendo, we’re going to do the same thing with that” and by the sounds of it it’s going to be even more limited. The main appeal is to collectors like myself but as nostalgia is the main selling point of products these days, lots of people who played on the NES and SNES in their hey-day will really want to play them again in an easier way. I imagine this list of games will be featured: ‘Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi’s Island, Kirby Superstar, Super Mario Kart, Contra III, Star Fox, A Link To The Past, Super Tennis, Tetris Attack Super Punch-Out! and Castlevania IV’. These are all solid games and in terms of prices, another £50 pricing is great in terms of physical comparisons of these games. What would really seal the deal would be Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana which aren’t the cheapest.

The Snes list is wonderful and reminds me of why I love Nintendo but jeez I really hope they produce enough because I mean isn’t it all just about money incentives? I get asked daily for Nintendo Switch’s at work and there are so little produced at a time. The demand for Nintnedo is as real as it would have been in Christmas 1991/1992 and we are all suckers for a good time and a good price. I enjoy buying retro but damn I’d even pay out a few more pennies for a Snes Classic Mini. No doubt this will also be hacked and is probably a reason that Nintendo has cut production. It’s hard to blame them when thinking about that but at the same time a lot of people would not do that.

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Before the Switch was released I was writing a 2000 word article on how I’m angry at everything about the console and then guess who buys one of launch day. Guess who is buying Mario Kart 8 again, guess who loves Breath of the Wild on the Switch and the portability aspect and has not yet bought a pro-controller…yet. I mean it’s still not the perfect console but I have a good time with it and Super Bomberman R has also been a pretty sweet game to play on it. This console still needs a bunch of highly and longly requested franchises getting a new game, new ideas for those existing franchises and brand new ones. Splatoon was brilliant and I loved playing it, Nintendo can make so much money from one franchises alone with merchendise like amiibo and new franchises keep everything fresh. Look at Sony and the Playstation 4 for example. I mean console wars are bad enough but they really do give a lot to their fans.

So Nintendo halts production on a popular product that lots of people wants and tries to move on to the next stage in development. They don’t see the brilliant money incentive which video games are about a lot of the time and they shovel out a lot of the same old game. Those games on the other hand are great and I’ll play the time and time again. Their new console has so much promise and E3 really changes everything for its future.

You can’t survive on Mario and Link forever even if they comfort the nostalgia. Don’t be stingy with third parties even if cartridges do cost more for production. Communicate well with third parties for their online games on the eShop to be competitive with Xbox and PS4 (I am Setsuna, Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+). Console launch pricing was fine and obviously peripherals are a bit high and 1, 2 Switch! should have been a complimentary add-on but you can’t win ’em all. (Am I just bitter?)

The big N is a company that could once again claim the gaming world with so many easy alternatives to what they are currently doing and as it pains me to see such a wonderful console like the Wii U fade away and a console like the GameCube not given more time, I finally hope the Switch and other novelties can really shape up the content we are given.

At the end of the day there won’t be another gaming company that makes you feel the way Nintendo does. Maybe Sega back in the day but, both had different genres of games. Mario Odyssey should remind us of that potential.

Nintendo NES Classic Mini: The hype train keeps on chugging

There’s nothing I love more than seeing people rekindle their love with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or people experiencing it for the first time. The NES was released in 1985 following the success of the Famicom in Japan in 1983. The console launched with titles such as Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt which would go on to be well associated with the console. 30+ years later we see a console old and new with 30 ‘classic’ games on it. You’d think I would be over the moon…is all what it seems?

Nintendo don’t half know how to force retro onto us as they remaster there games or transport them onto each console one way or another. This can turn people away from the big N as they are still riding on the same old titles…then again HD remasters on modern consoles is practically the same. It is an easy money making ordeal as people loved the NES and giving people the opportunity to play it in an ‘easier’ way is appetising. I can see this leading the way for other retro inspirations. We have also seen a Mega Drive replica brought into stores but this was not made by Sega. So…

What is the new ‘NES Classic Mini’?

Well it is a new usb console with HDMI input and 720p playback. Oh yeah it also looks like a NES but smaller than your average large phone. The console comes with one NES controller replica which indeed looks exactly like the original in every shape and form besides one little tiny baby thing…the lead is so so short, a lot shorter than the original. You will have to bring your TV a hell of a lot more forward or push your sofa in the opposite direction if you want that chilled out feeling. The console only comes with one controller and to get another you will have to pay out. You cannot connect an old NES controller due to them both having different inputs.

You can play the games on the console in three different formats which include CRT and 4:3 as well as your more modern picture. The gameplay is nice and is a decent move-on from the Wii U which will no doubt have more ease when playing as less buttons and less space. My personal favourite is the CRT due to its authentic original feel of NES gameplay like an original vinyl making that crisp sound as it starts playing. The console features 30 games that Nintendo deems ‘classic’ which are by majority, their titles. This is understandable due to ownage rights and the amount that it would cost to pay companies for such games.

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This does leave a bit of disappointment that I cannot play DuckTales or any other classic Capcom Disney titles or even Batman or Warner Bros. titles. We could spend hours debating what should and shouldn’t be on the console. A couple we could debate is that we have Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest but not many sequels for other games and there is Super C and not Contra or the first Double Dragon. We have Bubble Bobble, Dr. Mario and Pacman but we have no Tetris…which was a phenomenal game on the system.

What else do we have that’s abscent? Jackal, Ice Hockey and TMNT as a couple. Battletoads is liscenced under Rare for Microsoft so that is written off. However, at the end of the day the list that we do have has some impressive games. It leaves open the question that if they released a second would it just be full of sequels to Castlevania and Mega Man series’. This idea then makes it seem that the next format we will have will probably be (hopefully) a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) model. Maybe we could just get a console full of some god awful NES titles.

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The possibilities of modern gaming and the amount of NES titles on the Wii U Virtual Console leave further questions to why there aren’t more than 30 titles on the console. The idea of usb support is obvious as to why such adding of games would not be done to Nintendo because who knows what roms and hacks would be added, and we couldn’t possibly have that. Not like it ever stopped anyone on the original NES.

I think the most bizzare event in this is that for a console that has been retailing just over £50, why now it is sold out are people desperately paying hundreds of pounds/dollars (highest I’ve seen £200 in UK) for this machine? It’s going to be back in the shops soon so why are people so desperate to grab something which content you can play be many other means? We have Wii U, GameBoy Advance, the originals and emulators. It is easy to be patient and obtain these games many other way. For me personally it is nice to want one, but, as a collector I’m not going to rush out to buy it. At the end of the day there’s a lot of extortinate selling of items online whenever there’s something everything wants.

When it comes to the NES you’re going to get different types of people. If you’re a collector obviously you will want this console for said purpose but, also you will most likely have an original NES so can collect the other games you desire. If you’re wanting to get into retro titles and more into retro gaming, or get a child into it, then this is to be honest…perfect. It has some of Nintendo’s best of the best and for its price it is too good to miss.

With less complaining what do you get with this console? You are greeted with a screen that has Mario and Luigi and remnants of other games. You have taken to a menu which has a reel of all thirty titles and some options including which format you want to play in. It’s very Nintendo and very chilled and simplistic. What is a big feature is that after playing the games you are given FOUR not THREE, FOUR game saves. We’re moving up in the world and this is good if you have a few people in your household wanting to play the console. The original NES didn’t have save files so this is another sweet taste of modern freedom.

One of the best parts however and I really mean this, is that with games like Startropics and I guess The Legend of Zelda these days is that you need the manual to play them. Well the console has a QR code that you can scan onto your phone and download the manuals onto there. It’s those little gems that make everything better.

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What’s most important is that it plays well and it has many great games on it whether there’s disadvantages to the system, peripherals or exploitation from other sellers.

Finally, if you played the NES 25-30 something years ago and want to play specific games from your childhood, then I suggest getting a retro console that caters for multiple consoles and at a cheaper price for its content. Such examples are the Retron5 where you can play most retro titles from the NES onwards and then choose what you want. (Not sponsored)

If you love Nintendo and collecting then this is the console for you because it’s another gem for your collection. With its HDMI output and great framerates it ain’t bad at all. It is important that both American and Europe did get some different titles to Japan. If you’re wanting to get into retro gaming or want to get your child into your beloved games, then this is the perfect start as it is simple and straightforward and there are enough save files for all the family. To be fair with its price and when it comes back in stock it’s not like it would cost so much to buy two.

From someone in my position as a collector it isn’t something I would run out and buy because I also have the Wii U and Nintendo still needs to make its money on its eShop so obviously there are other virtual games. There are some things that could be improved and once again with Nintendo marketing could have been handheld better. Just make more, extend that controller and don’t make people feel ripped off. It’s a nice idea and opens up many windows for the future of bringing retro back to our homes.