Archive for the ‘Blog Post’ Category

RasPiBoy preview


Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Disclaimer:  Originally, I had planned to do a full review on the RasPiBoy by now, but the unit I received has a defect, which has delayed the full review.  Until then, here is a quick preview.

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The RasPiBoy is a kit created by 8BCraft, a small company working out of France.  The kit allows you to take a Raspberry Pi Zero and turn it into a portable handheld, as pictured above.  The controls are reminiscent of the SNES controller, including the shoulder triggers on the back.  You get both sets of buttons to either use the colors from the Super Famicom or Super Nintendo versions of the SNES (Japan or USA).  It also features a similar D-pad to that of the SNES.

The handheld0 takes the standard Pi Zero and uses an addon board to add full sized USB ports, a headphone jack, and a volume dial.  The onboard Pi provides TV Out using mini HDMI, and it gives audio out with a small mono speaker if you don’t wish to use the headphone jack.  Four blue LEDs below the screen act as a battery indicator, and screen contrast/brightness adjustments are on the back of the unit, as well as the main power switch.

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In my time using the unit, it is constructed very nicely, and the controls feel great in most games.  There are a few flaws in the design though, the most major one being the fact that the unit cannot be charged while it is turned on, and attempting to charge it while powered on will shut down the unit.  Also, after assembly, RetroPie requires some addition configuration to get the screen and audio working, in both a config.txt file as well as settings in the OS itself.  Some of these changes are not well documented, like increasing the gain in the audio section of RetroPie in order to get the maximum volume higher than a whisper.

On top of that, there are a few defective boards that have caused a black screen.  My board was one of the defective boards, and only functioned a few hours before the screen suffered this issue.  The dev is getting me a new board, so I am delaying the full review until I can do more comprehensive testing on it.

Once they iron out the black screen, it will be a solid device I would highly recommend for anyone wanting Pi based emulation on the go, with the only major issue being the inability to charge while being turned on.  I would assume this could be fixed with a PCB revision, and am waiting on the project creator to get back with me to see if there will be a board revision that will allow this.  Even if this doesn’t happen though, battery life is exceptional, and the battery is accessible for the user to change in the future if the battery does finally give out.  On my unit, I ordered a 6000 mah battery which lasts about 8 to 10 hours (while my screen is black, TV out still works).  For around 100 US dollars and the cost of a Pi Zero (around 10 to 15 shipped), you get a handheld that can easily handle anything from the 2600 to the 16 bit era, and some 32 bit stuff as well (32X and some PS1 games run great).  The jury is still out, but I am hoping a board revision squashes the charging bug, and I am hoping the black screen issue I ran into is only on a few select units.  I will update once the new board comes in.

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UK Mike’s Charity Trek


Monday, July 10th, 2017

You may have heard it mentioned in the show but I am doing a trek to Machu Picchu in November to raise money for the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (a registered charity).

To go on the trek I need to raise £3,300 and you can help.

i will be running some email auctions for some cool prizes and you can donate to my Just Giving Page.

Information about the trek is here.

The charity auctions will go here.

My Just Giving page is here.

Thank you

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Retro Review: Robocop for the NES


Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Robocop for the NES has received many scathing reviews over the years.  Most reviewers hate the slow moving main character, the game mechanics, the difficulty, and so on.  However, I am here to give a different look on this oft-criticized game.

Robocop on the NES gives the best representation of the first movie in game form.

In the game, you play as the hero Robocop as he roams the streets of Detroit City, stopping crime as he sees.  And the streets are full of criminals who attack the cyborg on sight, unloading their weapons on him, attempting to take him on fist to fist, or even sending attack dogs after him!  Robocop is armed with a pistol, but he will refuse to use it until an enemy attempts to use a weapon against him.  To me, this is fitting as a police officer.  A cop would not use lethal force unless it was used against him, and in game it makes a lot of sense.

Robocop has two forms of life meters to pay attention to.  The first is a time meter, which is how much time he has to clear a stage.  The second is a power meter, which signifies how much damage he can take before failing.  Again, this makes sense in game, as the time meter signifies how much battery power his system is using before he is required to recharge, and power also makes sense for damage taken.

The player can only move left or right, or ascend using stairs,  He has no jumping ability in the game.  Again, this makes sense, as Robocop isn’t exactly the most nimble character in the movies.  One would expect a human body encased in armor and cybernetic parts to not make jumps.  The game also gets criticized because certain players have trouble using stairs to ascend.  I honestly don’t have this issue, and have no problem figuring out the proper angle for Robocop to ascend a stairwell.

The game very loosely follows the events of the movie, with Robocop fighting crime in the streets, saving the mayor from being murdered, taking down a criminal ridden factory, raiding the OCP offices, and finally facing the criminal lords in what looks to be an abandoned construction area.  One of the shortcomings to the game is that it is quite short.  An experienced player will be able to go from the startup screen to final credits in around an hour to an hour and a half.  That being said, the game has a high degree of difficulty, with some stages having a very tight time limit.  This is helped by being to pick up more powerful weapons (but with limited ammunition) along with Time and Power extensions scattered through a level (some of which are required to beat said level).

The game is actually quite fun to play when keeping in mind the original movie and characters, and is only considered not as fun when taken on its own.  With the limitations that Robocop has in the film, this game does a great job of staying true to the core mechanics of the character.  While many critics claim Robocop on the NES was one of the worst things with the Robocop license, I disagree, and present the claim that the worst thing Robocop was ever in was professional wrestling.

 

Oh, don’t believe me?

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Nintendo Discontinues NES Classic, Why?


Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Recently Nintendo has announced that they are discontinuing their wildly popular NES Classic Edition, which was just launched in the fourth quarter of 2016.  Nintendo has faced a huge negative backlash over this decision, as many people never had the opportunity to purchase one due to scalpers picking them up immediately and selling them for double to triple the systems MSRP of 59.99.  The question is simple, why?

 

This system had a massive demand, a demand that had not been met yet.  Also, if they had originally planned such a small run, why did they produce it with a second controller as an additional purchase instead of packaged in the unit?  This is a strange decision for a product that was meant to have such a short run.  If you read Nintendos original press release, they simply did not intend it to be a long term product.  However, Nintendo could lose millions of dollars in potential profit with this decision.

 

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Nintendo. as a corporation, has to know that there still is a huge demand for this product and that consumer trust in the company is damaged since they have developed a history of undersupplying their products at retail.  A possibility is that they have had a third party pull their support and licensing for the system, as it had quite a few third party titles on it.  I find this highly unlikely though, as Nintendo would surely renegotiate license rights in the face of losing a massive amount of profit.  It could be that the system was hacked to support other games not originally on the system, and unlike their other consoles, the NES Classic was not built with a way to update and patch the firmware.  A third possibility is fear that sales of the NES Classic could damage Virtual Console sales on the Nintendo Switch, which seems to be a horrible decision if its the case.

 

No matter what decision, Nintendo has thrown away a huge amount of profit and further damaged their customer faith and trust.  I encourage any readers to contact Nintendo and express your disappointment and anger at this situation.

 

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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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