Archive for the ‘Blog Post’ Category

Nostalgia alone cannot make new releases sell


Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

In the past month, we have seen some major retro releases that have flopped.  The release of Double Dragon 4 was huge news, and garnered a lot of talk among the retro gaming community.  Than the game actually released.  And while it definitely had a retro feel, it also felt that the developer forgot how to innovate in the years.  The game replicates the classic NES look, including screen tearing and flickering.  While a nice touch, there should be an option to turn the flicker and tearing on or off.  The enemy variety is painfully low, with way too many recolors.  While there is nothing wrong with keeping the retro look and feel, not taking advantage of a single aspect of the more powerful hardware the game is released on makes no sense if the game isn’t actually running on an NES.  When staying in those strict confines takes away from the game (such as with enemy variety) maybe its time to either take advantage of extra storage or at least look at other games in the NES era that did it right (Battletoads for example had decent variety in baddies).  Double Dragon 4 ended up being a lackluster release and did little to bring more positive attention to the Double Dragon name.  Even the 2012 title Double Dragon Neon did more to improve the standing of Double Dragon than this release.

 

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Capcom, on the other hand, has proven they can take the retro formula and still make a solid game with Mega Man 9 in 2008 and Mega Man 10 in 2010 (has it really been that long?).  These two games had the feel of the NES games, but still took advantage of online modes for addons and online competition as well as some storage for more enemy variety.  However, last year Capcom released the first six Mega Man titles for mobile users of Android and iOS, and this release was another disaster.  The games are barely even playable, even if you are using an external controller for your mobile.  The frames per second are significantly lower than the NES (roughly 15 FPS on phone, vs. roughly 24 FPS on a standard television in the NES era) making for a very jittery experience.  And without an external controller, using a touch screen to play these games is almost impossible.

 

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It is rather early in 2017, but already we are seeing examples of companies trying to ride the nostalgia and retro hype trains for quick cash.  For every good release like Nintendos NES Classic, or a solid retro style game like Shovel Knight, we are getting duds like Double Dragon 4 and Mega Man Mobile.  Consumers must force these companies to realize without quality product, they will not be buying.  With options like RetroPie around, retro game fans can build their own console rather than purchase tripe, and if the large companies don’t learn this lesson, they will soon see their profits drop.

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What the NES Classic means for Nintendo and Retro Gamers


Monday, December 26th, 2016

The big news story this holiday season was the NES Classic, one of the “hot gift items” fir 2016.  It has been nearly impossible to find on shelves, and scalpers are making a bunch of money reselling these systems on eBay.  I have personally yet to find one, but plan on picking one up once the stock issues are eliminated.

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However, the interesting story behind the huge success of the NES Classic is that we could see a change in the way Nintendo handles their classic IPs.  For close to a decade now the only way to play these classics legally was to either own the original release or purchase it via a Nintendo console or handheld on their Virtual Console, and usually both options were a significant expense.  Original carts can be anywhere from 5 to 100 US dollars, and Virtual Console games range from 5 to 10 dollars.  Now, there is an option to get a bundle of 30 games, all solid titles, for an average cost of 2 dollars each.  The value of this system is astounding, and the consumers have spoken:  they want this format.

I believe in 2017 and 2018, we will see two more releases.  I would first expect to see a second NES Classic, perhaps modeled off the US NES 2 Top Loader.  The second unit will likely feature 30 more titles, perhaps this time with a few more third party titles than the original.  Nintendo still has a large collection of first party NES games that could be sold on a second unit, including a few titles that never saw a US release.  Super Mario Bros 2 Lost Levels and Earthbound Zero are a couple obvious choices.  Capcom could supply us with another Mega Man title, and the RPG front could be augmented with Square-Enixs Dragon Warrior, and perhaps the sequel as well.

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The second release I would expect Nintendo to release would be an SNES Classic.  Many gamers have fond memories of the 16 bit Nintendo console, and considering Sega has already released a mini Genesis with built in games, I would expect Nintendo to bring a well made SNES with 30 built in games, perhaps at an increased price of 69.99.  First party games would definitely include the two Mario World games, Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, Super Metroid, Zelda LttP, and Starfox.  Third Party options include Mega Man X, Final Fantasy 2 and 3, Street Fighter (or perhaps Mortal Kombat), Castlevania 4, and Contra 4.  With the way the NES Classic is selling, Nintendo could easily develop this type of console for the 2017 holiday season and replicate the amazing success they had this past season.

With the 3DS seeing a major resurgence in sales this holiday season and the amazing sales of the NES Classic, Nintendo has a chance to get their name back in households using cheaper devices, and they should use this to their advantage to convince consumers to purchase their new Switch.  While their flagship consoles from the modern era have been disappointing since the Wii U, they could easily work their way back into the forefront of gaming simply by selling cheaper products like these.

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Retro YouTube: Little Miss Gamer


Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Readers of the blog may remember my writeup on Captain S, a Youtube show that ran in the late 2000’s styled in a family friendly sitcom format.  It was the webshow that put a spotlight on PBC Productions.  This next show was their second large gaming show, running 23 episodes.  Named Little Miss Gamer, it was another show that was highly unique among its peers at the time.  Featuring a female lead, it was light on comedy, featuring no swearing just like Captain S (unlike most shows at the time), and had great appeal to someone not wanting to just watch another “angry review show.”

One fantastic skill that the host has is the ability to take you back to the time you were playing these games she features.  The female lead went by either Little Miss Gamer or “Z”, and had an obvious love of the NES and SNES gaming era.  She shows great passion in each video she produced, and her personality is so positive it’s impossible not to let her upbeat attitude affect you as you watch.  Each episode also has a Viewer Mail segment, giving more interaction than your typical YouTube show at the time and also gives the feeling of Z building a rapport with her viewers.

 

Some shows have some small skits done in them, and others feature some of Z’s puppetry work, which is quite well done for the YouTube era it was in.  Also, it felt very fitting for the show to use puppetry in an era that is filled with cheap CG effects, giving it a retro feel.  Production standards are also pretty high for the era, just like Captain S.  PBC Productions put a lot of effort into their camera and sound work, and it shows in each episode as the production values slowly get better and better.

 

Sadly, the show only lasted from October 2007 to 2010, and had a quiet end as PBC ramped down and their crew moved on to different things.  However, that period had  fantastic episodes released with games ranging from the Atari 2600 to the PS2 and X-Box eras, and it shows that while she has moved on to the newer consoles, she has fond memories of the older games.

The full playlist for the entire shows run can be found here, and below is an embedded video of the first episode.  Be sure to check this classic out!

 

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Is Nintendo Switching to a new gaming medium?


Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Recently Nintendo unveiled their “NX” platform as the Nintendo Switch, which they are planning to be the successor to the Wii U.  The system is being touted as a home gaming system that can be also used on the go.  However, there seems to be something that people are ignoring with the launch of this console:  that Nintendo has just left the console box style of gaming platform behind for the first time since they entered the home gaming arena.

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Pictured above is the switch controller, and the switch system in its home use mode.  Look familiar?  What you are looking at is a tablet with a bluetooth controller and a docking station that allows it to charge and connects it to your television:  the same thing you can have with a standard Android tablet, but with Nintendo IPs and games.  Make no mistake, the Nintendo Switch is nothing more than Nintendo switching gears.  They are releasing a branded tablet that has a proprietary Nintendo OS and is meant to play their games.  This is nothing revolutionary; we have had the ability to game on tablets with built in controllers for a while now.

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The system features a snap-apart controller that can then be mounted to the tablet for on the go gaming.  Nintendo is attempting to say that this means you can take your home gaming on the go.  While this is the case, I question why one would wish to do this in the first place when you can accomplish the same thing using an Android tablet and bluetooth controller, or a tablet with controls built in such as the one pictured below.

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Taking a closer look at the above tablet at this link, it looks similar in size to the Switch, but with its controller permanently mounted.  It also features HDMI support for hooking up to your home television, and look:  is that Mario 64 in the picture?  Yes, using emulators, this tablet can play any Nintendo game up through the N64 era, along with non-nintendo properties such as Atari, Sega, Sony Playstation, and Arcade, without having to re-purchase games in Nintendos marketplace.  Also, this is only one of a multitude of android gaming tablets available, so you can pick one to suit your needs.

Nintendo is still playing catch-up in the gaming world, and their vision of the Switch simply confirms that they are still struggling to find that innovative spark to compel the consumers to purchase their product.  Releasing a product similar to what savvy consumers have already had for the past five years is something which in my opinion lacks to put Nintendo back to the forefront of the gaming industry.

The jury is still out, since the Switch has not yet released, but so far it looks as if Nintendo has a hard road ahead of them in their goal to reclaim the gaming throne.

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Masters Of Pixel Art Volume 2 Kickstarter


Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Check out this cool Kickstarter.

There have been quite a few retro books on Kickstarter lately so you can pick and choose the good ones and the Masters of Pixel Art Volume 2 is one of them.

Available in hardback it is 216 silk coated pages of info and pixel art.

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The book features more than 350 images from over 41 artists on the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Atari XL-XE, Commodore Plus/4 and MSX.

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As always there are plenty of perks at different backing levels.

Head over to Kickstarter and back it. We will be reviewing the finished product on the show once we receive it.

Shop: http://nicepixel.se/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themastersofpixelart/

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