Friday, May 24, 2013

Consoles then and now

A long time ago, core processors and CPU chips were all the rage. Never set in fancy casings, but embedded within a huge PC that wasn't meant for home users. Many decades later, pretty much everyone from home, school, or work has such a device. (yes, your phone is also a gaming system, some thought the idea was a joke back in the day).

In the past, the formatting was what came for the system. Sometimes it was a floppy, or distinct code built from the ground up. Much later hard diskettes, then to cd-roms. With the advent of the digital video discs, then blu-ray. What's bizarre about these formats is that they all do the same exact thing. The only limitation being their data storage containment space. Funny how now this "Cloud" system is all the rage. When in fact, its the same setup, just with more convenience or more headaches.

In regards to gaming consoles, my history began with the Nintendo Entertainment System. With titles like Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Metroid. I didn't mind the limitations back then, I eagerly waited to save up chore money just to buy the newest game. Or even check it out with a friend for a weekend, and we would have a pizza party till late night. (*to be honest, I miss those days)

Next, came the Sega Genesis, I actually didn't own one till later. But the mixture of titles just grabbed me. Sonic's bgm tunes were forever stuck in my head. Phantasy Star became a pipe dream next to FF. There were so many platformers, it became daunting to pick just one. The Super Nintendo was a close second, although with more buttons, and a vast library like the Genesis. Both systems delivered solid games, with the only limitation being nothing really.

Nintendo 64 vs Sony's PSX.. let me think. I didn't own either system, but I did play demo tests during xmas promos from various stores for fun. Super Mario 64, Castlevania 64, Tomb Raider I, Metal Gear Solid. Just to name a few that I could remember, it all came down to precision and more open degrees of exploration. The 3rd dimension was just a taste of what was to come.

Sega CD, now that was a rarity, I never could find one to try out. Until a local game store in the Eastridge Mall had one on display. Sonic CD was playable, oddly enough the full game not just a teaser stage. They held a contest randomly to see if anyone could obtain all 7 time stones. I could never forget that.

Sega Dreamcast vs Sony PS2, I have to be honest I loved my DC a bit. I did try playing a few PS2 titles to compare before I put saved up money towards a game. Just something about the DC felt more friendly, the PS2 felt like a Lamborghini, it wanted to be played but it didn't have the same polish.I never quite understood the overhype, although I wasn't always a Sega console fan. I can't quite describe in words why the PS2 didn't appeal to me. To be honest, Phantasy Star Online opened up many design choices, from offering team-ups with fellow adventurers, and quests that only a team could complete. And finding all sorts of goodies, just to level up those mags. Oh man, those late nights before school had me rezzed till I could log back on. I miss it. Or Jet Set Radio, getting to take on the city, and creating your own tags to share with friends. (seriously has any one else tried this before?) Shenmue opened up a vast world, with real time settings, and interactive segments that no one could forget (um but quick time events have really become a fashion statement, kinda scary now that I think about it.)

Next came the Xbox, I chose to obtain one because its library seemed pretty well rounded. Until Xbox Live taught me a valuable lesson, when playing against the Frag Doll team, 1) do not wind up on the losing end, 2) take defeat in an honest manner, 3)don't be a referee. Something about multiplayer online games made me wonder if they would be a positive marker for games later on. That is another story...

On the single player side, Panzer Dragoon Orta brought a fun series to a close. Although it is a bit on the short side, later difficulty modes begin to test your patience. Metropolis Street Racer (now known as Project Gotham Racing) contained some fun races, and unforgettable tunes (ahem, "Passion" if you've ever listened to my friends @ this track receives some interesting comments).

Dead or Alive, its tough to find words to describe this series. Ultimate did contain some fun easter eggs, including a mini-doc from our friends at (now defunct And there is so much more than just online match-ups but hidden bouts, to sparring sessions that will challenge anyone. Oddly enough there were alot of arcade fighting game ports. And the S controller adapted pretty well. In my collection that I can recall off hand, Capcom vs SNK 2, KoF 2002/2003

I think for the most part the Xbox design was clunky, the storage was enough. I was never really sure what those blocks meant to be honest. At least it had plenty of save states, and was convenient.

Nintendo Game Cube - Or the "dark horse' in my gaming console library. Something about it said "let me bring back Nintendo fun!" So I plunkered down, and found one during its release date. Surprised its titles were easily affordable, and the controller worked fine. I think my NGC game library outdoes my xbox and xbox 360 collection. Although I have never put enough time towards F-Zero GX, at least its there waiting to kick my butt.

Xbox 360 - Does it end here? I'm beginning to wonder after the issues with DLC and DRM. (for those unaware, dlc= downloadable content / drm = digital rights management). Although these are neat features to attach to games, they feel like a hindrance to me. For example: Bayonetta, solid game, tons of unlockables, and most of all fun. Here's the thing, the entire game is playable, its not broken down into extra chapters that you have to buy to finish.

And now for a bad example: Tomb Raider Underworld. Solid game, but something's missing. Oh a thing called closure... no wait two extra segments as DLC. But wait they cost extra. Um yeah, why can't we unlock these chapter from the game disc data itself?

For a lovely example, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (the 3rd re-release of the IV games). With four more added characters, online play modes, and a huge roster. Wait something went wrong, its re-polished. I don't get it, I felt that SSFIV was fine, but maybe I'm not as hardcore as the others out there. I don't know, I grew up with SF II and Fatal Fury for goodness sakes.

What doesn't make SSFIV -AE work? For one there's a bunch of dlc packs that would make Akuma cry manly tears. I don't even want to imagine the cost some put into this.

Oh and KOFXIII is awesome because it works. Wait its better than SSFIV.
And now the floods of emails hit my inbox. This one's for you
(although it does contain some DLC, at least most of the game is available to players).

So this is part one of a new feature I will put more effort into. But I ask dear readers. Do you think we really need PS4 or Xbox One, or the Wii-U?

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