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8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Second Quarter 2017 - April, May, June

We strive to create quality, original retro gaming content with ties to our favorite games of yesteryear as well as modern gaming. Retro gaming is as vibrant as ever and nostalgia is at epic levels! Take a look at the retro gaming oddities we've jumped on in 2017!

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April 2017 Retro Gaming Articles:

April 26, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A 15-date UK tour is reuniting Bananarama for the first time since 1988

Bananarama is reuniting for a 15-date UK tour
Bananarama started in London, in 1979. In 2017 the original members are heading out on tour!.
Bananarama last performed together at the Brit Awards in 1988, before petty squabbles caused Siobhan Fahey to quit, but Venus, and other hits, were not forgotten. Rumors say the eighties trio have put their differences aside and Siobhan will be joined Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin on this brief UK tour.

Their 15-date UK tour kicks off in Glasgow on November 12, and will end in Southend on December 2. While many bands I grew up with have forged onward all these years, It's interesting that Bananarama have been apart so long, yet are venturing onto a tour bringing them back to their roots in the 80's. I hope if goes well, stokes all involved and leads to an new album!

Bananarama sold more than 40 million songs worldwide and made it into the Guinness Book Of Records as the most successful female group of all time on account of the fact they'd had more hit singles than any other girl band.

I hope if goes well, stokes all involved, and leads to an new album!
April 26, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Night Trap's 25th anniversary will have a limited physical release on PS4

Night Trap's 25th anniversary
Night Trap garnered a whirlwind or controversy that took mainstream news by storm and led to a video game rating system.
Dana Plato was an actress who sadly had several downfalls after starring on TV's Diff'rent Strokes show (as Kimberly Drummond) from 1978 to 1986. In 1992 Plato was one of the first actresses to appear in a video game. While video games have had movie and TV tie-ins since inception, Full Motion Video (FMV) was a new thing in the early 90s.

Today, video games are nearly indistinguishable from movies. The action on screen is quite realistic and smooth. Technology has taken us a long way. Back in the day FMV was revolutionary because video games had graduated from somewhat static pixel clusters to characters made of pixels that simulated nominal movement. Fighting game characters could now throw punches and kick with enough reality for us to see a dramatic improvement in game play and engagement.

Night Trap for SEGA 32X Night Trap, although a moderately awful game (released in Oct. 1992 for Sega CD, 3DO, Mac, and PC), it used FMV and gamers were fascinated to see cinematic scenes in video games with recognizable actors, like Plato. In '83, arcade games like Dragon's Lair were delivering smoother animation via laser disc. Gamers seemed to like this new movement to add better graphics to games via film clips.

Night Trap Returns Via Screaming Villains and Limited Rum Games

Having released several great games as physical copies on PS4, Limited Run will soon (Spring 2017) be releasing a limited quantity of physical copies of Night Trap for PS4 and Xbox One. Previously, they have released great games like Xeodrifter and Mutan Mudds. Developer Screaming Villains brought Night Trap to life for the 25th anniversary release.

Having lived through the initial controversy, it should be a 'blast from the past' to be able to play this game on a modern console. Keep an eye out for the physical release! Keep in mind you won't be able to pre-order it at GameStop or even buy it at traditional retail. Limited Run's releases are savagely limited. Check their site for details, but typically they sell solely from their site in two waves and the product goes quick!
April 25, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Marvel & Doritos partner for a boombox-in-a-bag promotion for Guardians 2 soundtrack

Marvel & Doritos partner
This bag-cassette motif will play the entire soundtrack, provide a snack, and can be recharged if you want to rewind and play it again ;)
You need this bag of Doritos with a built-in cassette tape deck-inspired player that will rock out the entire Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack. Even though items like this are extremely limited and primarily created to generate hype, you have to like a bag of doritos with enough tech to give you a snack and an 1/8" headphone jack so you can listen to some classic tunes. Not everyone wants to hear a bunch of hits from the 70s, but we're down for that!

Limited to an online offer available on April 28 via Amazon, don't get your hopes up about finding one at your local supermarket. If you liked the first film's soundtrack, this one is as eclectic as it is awesome! We suggest downloading it or doing what we do... buy the CD. Or how about a nice juicy cassette? Yeah, we're that kind of retro.

I can't wait to see the film - loved the first one. I'm hoping Vol 2 will continue along the lines of the first film, breaking Hollywood's craving for repetition and re-makes.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 soundtrack listing
April 25, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Target is dressing up for Friday's launch of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Target stores participating in a Nintendo Kart makeover
650 Target stores are participating in a Nintendo Kart makeover to stoke shoppers for the latest Mario Kart video game.
For a limited time, Target stores are decorating with a flare for Mario Kart and commerce. With the initial success of the Nintendo Switch and a long-running Nintendo favorite coming to market, it's a great time to remind customers to get their copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

I hope they have higher stock levels than usual to satisfy the day-one buyers who will mob stores to revel in their Mario-ness and snag the latest edition of this video game racer. It would be upsetting to march in through the Nintendo arch belting out the Mario theme song, grab a Mario Kart themed shopping cart and dash toward the video games only to discover they sold out of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Sadly I don't have a Target nearby. I'd certainly take the opportunity to hop in a shopping cart for a Kart-selfie. My advice would be: get there early, avoid the trappings, and make a dash for the game aisle. You can hop in a Mario shopping Kart after you get your copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!
April 24, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“Karen” from the first Nintendo Switch trailer has shed her pseudonym on Instagram

Karen from the first Switch trailer on Instagram
She even identifies herself as "Formerly Nintendo Karen". I love this - let's hope we get to know her better through Instagram!
Nintendo Karen Fans became enamored by an actress in the first Nintendo Switch trailer in which she demonstrated the Switch's ability to go from the living room to a party on the rooftop next door. She wasn't credited in the trailer, so the internet named her, "Karen". Memes appeared and the theme was all about Karen. It's a strange world we live in.

Fans identified with her and the passion she exemplified for playing video games and sharing the experience in her travels with friends. In an interesting twist, the actress from the trailer now has an Instagram account and her name is likely not Karen. It's way cool of her to embrace "Nintendo Karen" and share more about herself.

Sometimes people surprise you in all the right ways!

Karen from the first Switch trailer
April 24, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Is Best Buy's final shipment of NES Classic Editions part of the master plan?

Best Buy's final shipment of NES Classic Editions
What is likely the last we'll see of the NES Mini kept the brand in the news as Nintendo prepared to rebound via Switch's success.
I was lucky and able to buy an NES Classic Edition for Christmas, but the majority of folks who wanted one, didn't get the chance. Nintendo said this would be a limited product, but in the same breath hinted that supply would eventually satisfy demand. Sadly, that never happened.

After many media outlets, including USA Today, said Monday would be the final opportunity to buy an NES Mini at Best Buy, I hoped it would be a larger shipment. Alas, no.

Out of sheer curiosity, I dropped by my local Best Buy around 9:30am - a ½ hour before they opened. A small group was waiting by the roll-down security gate. They had received tickets-to-purchase at 7:00am which led me to believe it was game-over for getting another NES Classic Edition. It turned out my local store only had 7 consoles. I found out about a Best Buy in Boston that only had four!

It's sad to see this item going for $200+ on eBay. The extra Nintendo-branded controller I paid $9 for at Toys R Us has gone for over $100. I'm sure prices will spike with this final shipment, although you never know when they may trickle in until all stock is depleted. Just as consumer FOMO fuels a strong desire, it also brings out the scalpers. The gap between the Wii U's cancellation and the introduction of the Switch is an anomaly that may be a clue to the real reason for the NES Classic Edition.

That cute NES Mini put distance between Wii U's failure and Nintendo's vital rebound with a radical new console design.

Look At The Wii U/Switch Gap For Answers

Many things go into bringing a product to market, even for seasoned pros the size of Nintendo. Most consoles blend from one to the other with some overlap. Most recently you may have seen the $99 Wii Mini arrived in the US (Nov. 2013), a year after the Wii U launched. Such scaled back consoles have been common as manufacturers try to squeeze maximum revenue from the previous platform prior to retirement.

With this in mind, it's odd for Nintendo to cancel a console, even though it was selling poorly (although the Wii U was a great console) and leave a gap in Nintendo's exposure on retail shelves and shopper's minds. Brands require constant exposure and it's best if it's positive.

It has been suggested the NES Classic Edition was released to keep the brand on shelves and in the media. Nintendo likely wanted to separate the poor reviews of the Wii U from the Switch's launch. What better way to shift focus from the Wii us commercial failure than a cute little mini NES with some of childhood's favorite games? The answer is: nothing!

Mostly, they needed exposure and short-shipping product (a really cool product) may have fit the bill for their needs. You can't have the world forgetting about Nintendo when they are on the comeback trail with a brand new revolutionary console release. Disguised as a hella-cool stocking stuffer, the NES Classic Edition distanced the Wii U, received high marks, and proved that an SNES Classic Edition will sell very well. See ya next Christmas!

April 23, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Tecmo Cleveland is putting “Sports” into eSports with a Tecmo Superbowl tournament

Tecmo Cleveland Tecmo Superbowl tournament
Have you noticed the top games in eSports center around Orcs, street fights, and military strategies? Tecmo Cleveland knows sports.
Tecmo Cleveland Tecmo Superbowl tournament Even if you've been watching the eSports segment of the video Game Industry grow, you may still be surprised to learn it's poised to become a multi-billion dollar industry. These massive events grew from smaller tournaments and those operating them who sought a larger audience and global scale.

As pricey endorsements and professional teams competing on ESPN become the norm, there are still many smaller tournaments focused on the love of old games that are just plain fun! Some of these games even date back to some of our favorite retro game consoles.

From local bars to conference halls, gaming tournaments are an ever-popular and growing trend. I was recently contacted by a group that has an upcoming tournament focused on an old Nintendo NES favorite AND it's an actual "sports" game!
Tecmo Cleveland - Tecmo Superbowl tournament

Tecmo Cleveland Superbowl - Coming This Summer

Tecmo Cleveland has been growing for several years and is hitting the big-time this August with a Tecmo Superbowl tournament in Cleveland, OH. You can register to participate on their website as well as find out all the details for this event.

Of particular interest is the stipulation that this is a 100% emulation-free event. The tournament runs on real Nintendo NES consoles and controllers. From the feel of inserting a game cartridge to wired controllers, authentic retro gaming is their mantra.

You might even find a few Cleveland Browns players or legacies attending for appearances and/or autographs. Sounds like a cool event focused on a terrific NES game and Football is definitively a sport ;)
April 22, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cosplayer Jessica Nigri as Fox McCloud from Nintendo's SNES game StarFox

She is regarded as one of the top cosplayers on the convention circuit.
Jessica Nigri got her start when her "Sexy Pikachu" cosplay went viral. She began cosplaying in 2009, modeling in 2012, and served as an official spokesmodel for several video games and comic book series. In 2012, she won IGN's contest seeking a model to portray Juliet Starling, from Suda51's video game Lollipop Chainsaw. Definitely a fan favorite.

Here she cosplays StarFox's Fox McCloud.
Cosplayer Jessica Nigri as Fox McCloud
April 22, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

There will always be more Stadium Events cartridges in landfills than trophy cases

video game preservation
Video game preservation can be as simple as not tossing something into a dumpster, but all too often people take that easy option.
Knowledge is one of the key factors to preservation. That isn't to say you need a degree in rocket science or experience curating for the Smithsonian. The requisite knowledge can be as simple as knowing not to throw gaming items into the trash. People tend to live in the present and only show concern for things in their immediate vicinity.

Hence the "not in my backyard" mantra is a mentality that rarely seems to manifest in the truth that "it" will always be in "someone's backyard". This is easily combined with mankind's ability to be content as long as we have no direct knowledge of travesties. For example, the majority of video game's history has already been relegated to landfills by owners, businesses and manufacturers. Yes, a majority of it!

Most people argue that can't be true and cite how easy it is to find Combat or SMB/Duck Hunt carts. Sure, a few decades ago, they were everywhere. Look around now. When you find them, you may be surprised they are no longer 50¢!

Video Game Preservation Isn't Solely for Rare Items

Atari's Combat As gamers we'd never throw an NES Stadium Events cartridge in the trash, but your father may not know it's value. Worse still, he probably won't call you when he finds your old copy in the attic... and into the trash it goes. Or maybe you are certain you randomly bought a copy back in the 80's only to discover he sold it for $3 at last Summer's yard sale. Whoops.

The truth is, Stadium Events is a terrible game and most copies were thrown away in disgust shortly after purchase.

But preservation shouldn't be relegated only to rare items. ALL gaming artifacts are valuable. Yes, ALL of them including your broken N64 and that Atari joystick that no longer "moves left."

When I was a kid there were businesses called repair shops. They fixed things. All things. You can still get your car fixed or have a leaky roof repaired, but what about your TV, sofa, or blender? When the TV stops working, into the trash it goes along with everything else. TV repair shops were easily found in my youth, but no more. In fact, most electronics are deemed unrepairable.

We live in a disposable society that doesn't value material things once they are no longer new. And when they are broken, they become an embarrassment - one worth disposing of quickly. Enter the dumpster and the ease with which deposited items disappear forever... unless you visit the local landfill.

Video Game Preservation Is Easy And Important

I'm not suggesting you park your car outside and turn your garage into a warehouse for broken gaming artifacts. All I ask is that you not throw them away. I know how easy it is to toss something into the trash, but don't. The spring on that old arcade button can be replaced. The motherboard in your Atari 7800 can be re-capped. You may not know how to do these things, but I assure you someone out there does and they'll be glad to repurpose your old stuff!

Super Mario Bros / duck Hunt game for NES Life would be grand if everything was easy. Alas, that's not the case. That old coat that no longer fits you slides so easily into the trash, but somewhere out there is a person who'd love to have that coat. The same is true of video game items. What seems like trash to you will likely be gold to someone else. We're all different people. Some of us love shiny new things. Others like old dusty things.

Here's the real reason video game preservation is so vital. These items are finite. No longer in production. Many of the companies that made amazing games and hardware are now defunct. Their once grand creations often still function, but so many have fallen to the fate of the uninformed and been thrown away.

For every Atari 2600 you find at a yard sale, thousands have been thrown away. Even Blockbuster and Funcoland threw away most of the games they formerly rented or sold. The ugly truth is the majority of the video game industry's history was thrown away long ago! Even if it doesn't garner top-dollar, items from the 80s and 90s have tremendous historical value and should be cherished.

No one wanted the games - they seemed so common and plentiful at the time - and they wound up in landfills. Decades later we are outraged and can't believe someone would throw away a video game. Welcome to the disposable world. Nothing is sacred and everything is easily removed to a landfill. How many SMB/Duck Hunt carts have you seen lately? Remember how easy it was to find Atari's Combat cart at 80's yard sales?

Today, GameStop still fills it's dumpsters with gaming items from packaging and manuals to out-dated store displays and old product (games!). It's just trash to them and it's easier to have it carted to a landfill than to find someone to buy it. They take the easy route without regard for how it effects their own industry!

Decades from now, game collectors may have the same disdain for how our modern games are treated. It's a cycle and it will continue to be repeated until those who play games also realize the importance of them. We love playing games, but that passion goes beyond the experience itself. There's much more joy in gaming than simply having a controller in hand.

Sometimes we need to put down the controller and realize the amazing aspects of the entire gaming experience. Else we'll continue to find interest in landfill excavations as a means of exploring our vibrant history!
April 21, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vertical video has a place at Cannes for filmmakers refusing to rotate their phone horizontally

vertical video
The Nespresso Talents Vertical Film Festival seemingly challenges the global wide-screen standard. WTF?
As a gamer, I love the notion of taking a handheld console (not my phone) to play games on the go. It's almost a logical extension of home-based console gaming. While the screens are small, sometimes it's nice to bring a favorite title along for the ride.

Nintendo has capitalized on this with their recently released Switch game console. It's a hybrid allowing a handheld tablet, with custom controllers, to also attach to the big screen in your living room via a dock. While smartphones are very prevalent, those small screens just don't do justice to the content we can explore on a large HDTV.

It took the TV industry so long to match the movie industry's screen standards. Many of the early release DVDs had a widescreen version on one side and full screen (square format) on the other. Sometimes they only had the fullscreen version. I had to return innumerable DVDs that I accidentally purchased in full screen. And don't get me started about all the grotesquely letter-boxed laser discs I watched on my 4:3 television back in the day.

I still have a few square Sony CRTs around for my old retro game consoles, but you don't find me digging up old VHS tapes watch a movie! I also rotade my phone horizontally when I shoot video. Maybe I'm too much of a conformist.

Should Vertical-oriented Smartphones Dictate Film Standards? No.

Even though smart phones are everywhere, their owners don't always understand how video works. All sorts of atrocities wind up on CNN via witnesses who took out their phones to record some random crime. Alas, they frequently hold the phone vertically and take those oddly tall videos that the news organizations squish down to fit that ridiculous height into today's HDTV sizing.

What if it wasn't a mistake? What if that tall video was an artistic statement made not by a phone owning heathen, but by artist who's medium is smartphone film? When I read about the Cannes Film Festival's Vertical Film Festival, I wasn't sure what to think. Having seen too many tall, shaky witness videos on CNN, I'm not sure I can call this "film". Although, intent may be the deciding factor.

Whipping out your phone to record a criminal should be different than artistically staging a set for a vertical oriented film. But can't the artist, turn the damn phone for some 16:9 footage?

Of course one man's trash is another's gold... so, I guess I have to be more lenient in how I define right vs. wrong. Vertical video is wrong, by the way. At the same time I feel a bit conflicted because art is art and should be free of judgmental nonsense. I'm beginning to feel some personal anger brewing in this article I'm writing. I'm all for freedom in art, but the Mashable article previously linked is pissing me off.

When Mashable asks:
Why are we still making video for horizontal screens? We're long past consuming content on horizontal screens, and it's time the video industry caught up, before storytelling is left behind.

Frankly this is the most ignorant thing I've encountered online - from a source that is often knowledgeable - in quite some time. Storytelling will be left behind because some dope can't rotate his phone? Utter nonsense!

If you want to be artsy and make a vertical film, go for it - dare to be different, but if you are recording a felon fleeing police, turn you damn phone horizontal. Thanks.
April 20, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Even with the resurgence of vinyl records, the B-side concept is mysterious to newer generations

vinyl B-sides
I discovered some of my favorite songs on the B-side of 45 records and I played them through an amp connected to real speakers!
Everything from hand-crank car windows to telephones that actually "hang up" mystify newer generations. Just when you think the revolving nature of fads will return things you once loved to the forefront, they don't. I'm stunned at the number of records I'll see in mainstream stores.

We have a few used record stores in the area, but I'm talking about stores that carry brand new releases on vinyl. Seeing the latest Metallica album on vinyl sitting next to Taylor Swift's 1989 is pretty amazing in 2017! Demand is so high that defunct vinyl presses are being updated to accomodate demand. Never saw that coming.

Technics turntable I love to flip through bins of LPs in the stores and relive a bit of my youth. I've always loved music and often upgraded my stereo equipment over the years. The state of music these days seems to no longer involve two speakers.

In fact, gone are the stores that sold things like amps, receivers, turntables, and speakers. In their place are department stores with end-caps full of $70 bluetooth speakers. You'd almost think the concept of stereo has vanished with the onslaught of single speaker offerings.

Not long ago, I asked a Best Buy employee about the best speaker solution. He asked me what type of phone I had. Has music been reduced to this? Has analog all but disappeared? What seems to qualify as a speaker these days will make a racket, but that's not really what sound was about.

I remember buying spools of speaker cables at Radio Shack. When stereo amps had surround options, I set up a 5-speaker system for watching movies along with my stash of CDs. I kept having to buy DVD players in order to play my CDs on real speakers. Then I had to buy a Blu Ray player for the same purpose. Now it's all blue tooth from phones to some sort of noisy pod. WTF?

No doubt I sound like some old guy who just crept out from under a rock, but sound was formerly an artform not a commodity purchase. Sound had warmth, like the soothing sound of an old LP on a turntable. Now it's crisp and sterile sounding and pours from these tiny speakers forcing way too much treble from a small hole.

As technology has forced me to upgrade, I am indeed a fan od CDs, but I can still play an LP. However, going forward I feel we are all losing analog sound in favor of technologies that don't deliver the same (or better) quality. Sure, it's nifty to pack hundreds of songs on a smartphone, but our addiction to headphones - most of which are tiny buds shoved into our ear canals - can't be healthy, nor is it the way sound is meant to be enjoyed. Pure digital solutions from phones to a bluetooth speaker lacks both feeling and warmth. I suppose I'll have to succumb to this new standard, but I expect some additional kicking and screaming.
April 19, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

One inkling of an SNES Mini console and the internet has declared it fact

SNES Mini
Nintendo is as quirky as it is smart. I'd hold off before declaring the SNES Mini a holiday hit... it's only April and E3 looms.
The internet has exploded with holiday cheer for a Super Nintendo mini console appearing under the Christmas tree where the former NES Classic Edition began. All hope of this continuation comes from a rumor posted by Eurogamer. They have a track record for accuracy in such matters, but the web lit up as though Reggie had announced it himself.

Some have speculated about the chipset in the recently cancelled NES Mini, remarking that it contains more power than necessary to drive emulation for other Nintendo game consoles. While that may be true, it's cheaper to use a more powerful chip than going through the process of manufacturing a custom chip - especially since it was a limited product from the start.

Don't misunderstand me - I'd love to see ann SNES Mini console later in the year, but we've yet to get through E3 and already people are labeling this phantom product, "stocking stuffer of the year". It certainly could be, but with no corroboration, lets not push the hype wagon down the hill just yet. It's only April.

From Eurogamer:
Nintendo will follow up its smash hit NES microconsole with a mini version of the SNES, sources close to the company have confirmed to Eurogamer.

The SNES mini (or, to continue Nintendo's official branding, likely the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System) is currently scheduled to launch in time for Christmas this year. Development of the device is already under way, our sources have indicated.

If nothing else, the NES Classic Edition inventory issues should give Nintendo a better idea of stock levels and demand. Despite the frequent "sour grapes" posts online, I'm certain demand will be high among those who did and did not get an NES Mini. And those who heard about the hype... they'll probably want one too. So, lets hope Eurogamer is onto something.
April 18, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Citigroup predicts a smaller Nintendo Switch will arrive sooner than you may think

Citigroup predicts a smaller Nintendo Switch
Will Nintendo drop the 3DS to make a more portable Switch? I'm guessing, No. A smaller Switch is not a 3DS replacement option!
I was glad to see support continue for the 3DS as Nintendo's Switch came closer to market. I'm sure Nintendo is carefully watching the gray-area between the 3DS and Switch's ability to satisfy the gamer-on-the-go. While I see the benefit of the Switch's portability, it lags in a few areas as a replacement to the 3DS.

Battery life is a big issue to me and the Switch doesn't compare favorably with the 3DS. The dual screens, with touch-screen ability, is another factor I like very much about the 3DS. And most of all I'm addicted to StreetPass which is not a Switch feature.

So, Citigroup comes along with the prediction of a "mini" Nintendo Switch in Nintendo's next fiscal year (between April 2018 and March 2019). A smaller version of the Switch. Their primary assertion is the Switch, in it's current iteration, is too big to be a viable portable solution. I've seen no mention of what Citigroup believes will become of the 3DS. They simply say the Switch is too big.

While I love the games Nintendo has put forth across their long line of portable gaming consoles (GameBoy through 3DS), I've felt those screens were too small. The Switch offers a great resolution to that issue and lets you play the same titles on your large living room TV. Seems like a win-win! The notion that a "portable" game console must fit in my pocket has never been part of my definition. I'm actually a 2DS owner and take it with me almost everywhere I go via my backpack.

The utility of a Switch Mini doesn't seem comparable to current 3DS functionality.

Can The Switch Be Reduced?

Obviously some of the Switch's dimensions are tied together. The height of the tablet is tied to the width of the Joy-Con. Many find the Joy-Con to be quite small - certainly when compared to most controllers. Would Joy-Cons be reduced in Citigroup's prediction - or permanently attached? If a mini version was Joy-Con compatible, it may appeal to some gamers, but adding a set of controllers would bring the price right up to the current offering.

The ability to detach them seems a vital part of the portable experience. Reducing the Switch's size doesn't bode well for using Joy-Cons out in the wild. I'm all for the pro controller for the living room, but minimizing the footprint for portability, seems to remove some of the tablet's agility and simplicity.

I'm not entirely clear about Citigroup's prediction, but it may involve a different sort of Switch - more of a 3DS replacement. It would likely not use the current dock to connect to a TV, potentially bringing down the price. Naturally, this is all supposition, but there are a number of things to consider in such a device. I'm curious why Citigroup thinks it will come so soon in the Switch lifecycle.

As for my own two cents...
I like the curent size of the Switch. My concerns going forward are largely around how the Switch's evolution may effect the 2/3DS and the need for a portable gaming console. The trend in larger smartphone screens is catching on. What was once mockingly referred to as a "Phablet" has become more of a standard. Reducing the Switch's screen size doesn't sit well with me.

Mobile gaming is about combining gaming with the devices we all seem to carry around at all times - Smartphones. The ability to play Nintendo games far from the living room TV should not be married to the notion of tiny screens, as seen on today's phones. I like the switch's current size. Reducing it to make it conform to smaller objects we like to cram in our pockets, defeats a large part of what makes Nintendo games awesome!
April 17, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The internet sure got excited at the premise of the Star Wars sub-titles being a sentence

Star Wars sub-titles sentence
The hype-machine always finds something to inflate, but there must be something more interesting than a sentence to garner attention.
I love what Disney is doing with Star Wars. They've given it a defined future, in terms of continuing the franchise with both continued and new stories. The idea of alternating years with the main plot is great and delving into "smaller" areas is very cool. That's enough to stoke me up.

The idea of guessing the what the latest trilogy's sub-titles will spell out seems kind of anticlimactic.Has the internet and prevalence of social media led fans to hone in on minutia rather than enjoying the big picture? I love Star Wars and vividly remember the day my Mom took me to Tyson's Corner to see the first film in the 70's. but a sentence fragment?

I want to read more of the books. If you haven't looked into the various novels, you may be surprised at how many there are! One of my favorite authors, Terry Brooks (Sword of Shannara series), wrote the Episode One novel from the 1999 film. Check out a few novels rather than the promise of an obtuse sentence... and play Atari today! Star Wars sub-titles sentence
April 16, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Don't be upset when this painfully angular Atari console never reaches Kickstarter

Atari console concept for Kickstarter
Recently circulating is this rendered reminder not to invest in "cool console concepts" without a verified working prototype.
Like many Atari fans, it's hard for me to accept that Atari is no more. The creativity that created the 2600 and countless arcade games vanished decades ago only to be resurrected by a series of holding companies. These companies only see dollar-signs and seek to use the backlog of Atari IPs as a licensing business. For the most part, they'd be better off selling t-shirts than games. Although I love the Flashback Classics games for PS4 and Xbox One.

A lone image is hardly reason to box-up your Atari consoles!
Recently, I've seen the above image floating around social media with the insinuation that an upcoming Kickstarter campaign is seeking to create an Atari-branded game console that will play games from Atari's primary game consoles. As if the "2015" text isn't enough, let's not for get the lesson we learned from the Chameleon game console that spun out of control amidst lies and false promises. Until you see a verified working prototype, don't get excited!

I'd love to see a game console capable of playing the various cartridge-based games from Atari. An article suggested the creator wants to work with Atari on this aleged project. Having Atari partner with such an endeavor might lead to proper emulation of the various consoles. I often wonder why the various multi-cart clones (Retro Freak, Retron5, etc) completely ignore Atari games. There must be a reason.

However, the logistics of creating a console capable of playing carts from the 2600, 5200, 7800, and Jaguar is daunting to say the least. Even the Flashbacks don't have cartridge slots. I love the concept, but know it takes more than a picture to launch enough interest.
April 15, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Consumer demand is only one side of the story in which the NES Classic Edition was cancelled

NES Classic Edition was cancelled
Even though everyone seemed to want one, the NES Mini may not have been a desirable product for Nintendo.
About six weeks ago, a TRU employee said the NES Classic Edition would soon be canceled. Seeing no corroborating stories online and more NES Mini shipments arriving, I chocked it up to misinformation. Now that the news is all over, it seems the cute little emulation box - a damn good one - has actually been canceled.

Since it's release last November (2016), there have been two primary stories about the device.
  1. It's awesome!
  2. It's impossible to buy due to high consumer demand.
I was lucky to get one on release day, but that was largely due to the remote area I live in. Simply showing up an hour before Toys R Us opened was enough to garner an NES Classic Edition... along with 14 other shoppers. And that began the articles of drastic under-deliveries of the system. Stores around here received less than ten units every four or five weeks.

Nintendo NES Classic Edition ports & connections Low inventory was the common story across social media and this caused understandable frustration. Many assumed if they waited long enough, Nintendo would get its supply chain in order and begin delivering proper quantities. The device's cancelation has angered many who were unable to purchase one and with the price doubling and tripling on auction sites, the rest of us were a bit irritated as well.

Consumer Demand Doesn't Guarantee Success

While the high demand for the console may make you think it was an financial-win for Nintendo, there are a lot of other factors making up a product's success. Their inability to deliver enough units and consequently sell many more certainly has a big effect. However, I suspect there other large expense was the license fees for the third-party games included on the system - half the included games were made by third party devs. With it's high-demand status, it's possible some of the license holders may have started legal maneuvering to obtain a larger cut of the profits - although that's pure speculation on my part.

The fact that the unit was hacked and easily allowed folks to put the entire 700+ NES game library on the device hurts the future sale of another device next holiday season. We're accustomed to the Flashback consoles appearing each holiday, so the NES Mini has a tougher time selling a new device with 30 (or more) games when it's easy to put hundreds on the original.

Nintendo NES Classic Edition ports & connections Nintendo may be going back to the drawing board to tighten security and perhaps look at he SNES or N64 libraries. I would be surprised if another device with built-in games didn't appear again in the next year or so. Nostalgia is huge these days and Nintendo played a large role in the memories we have. I feel there were some behind-the-scenes issues that caused this seemingly abrupt cancellation.

I haven't given up hope that, even with the Switch's success, Nintendo won't bring back some of their nostalgic past in another all-in-one device. I say this primarily because there were some well-thought out facets to it like the controller ports allowing Wiimote compatibility. Nintendo didn't create the Mini as an island, but rather a farther reaching device. Let's hope for another round next year!

From Nintendo:
Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product.
April 8, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'm taking a week off to paint some eggs and play video games with Player 2

I hate to reduce Easter to egg hunts and time off to play video games... but that's my plan!
My son is coming up for the week, so we're taking some time to play games and disconnect from the sordid atrocities of the web. As always, I encourage everyone to share some retro games with a kid. Show 'em how awesome gaming was long before Microsoft made a game console.

April 7, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Shout out to Old Milwaukee on National Beer Day- the perfect companion for weekend #retroGaming

Old Milwaukee Beer now comes in pin-up cans!
No weekend in college was complete without a case of OM. Great taste and a cost-effective way to enjoy the weekend. Old Mil is the perfect companion for every weekend adventure.

Old Milwaukee beer Old Milwaukee Pin-up beer cans From the Old Milwaukee website:
The new American Pin-Up Series will run on all Old Milwaukee Lager, Old Milwaukee Light, and Old Milwaukee N.A. packaging and will be available at retailers, bars and restaurants nationwide. The first pin-up in the series, "Stars and Stripes," is modeled after iconic female wartime heroes harkening back to WWII. The next pin-up design in the series, which gives a nod to the hunting and outdoor traditions, will launch in September 2017 with a new design to follow every four months.
April 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Both gaming media and consumers should be demanding better games, not faster consoles

Project Scorpio
The mightiest processor is useless without great games to showcase a console's superiority.
The stats are out on the Xbox Scorpio and the media is having a frenzy as though faster processors will magically make games suck less. Crappy games with higher frame-rates isn't exactly a win.

In general, hype about faster processors needs to stop. We live in a fantasy where speed is everything and we seem willing to sacrifice quality for more speed. Already folks are talking about how great it will be to play games on the Xbox Scorpio. What games? How many exclusive titles will it have?

A false notion is gaining way too much traction regarding "speed" and "power". These conversations and info are coming from folks who don't know anything about electronics or engineering. Random fans are praising anything with a bigger number in the speed-column.

Game consoles are essentially computers these days. How's your computer running? My PC at work takes 6 minutes to boot up while my Mac at home takes 45 seconds. That's an interesting comparison to me. But on either computer, MS Word runs at the same slow sluggish pace. But let's look at computing in general.

Computers are supposed to double in speed every two years. OK, why do most programs run like an old moped creeping up a steep hill? Shouldn't applications be faster on these super-fast computers? The answer is bad programming. Applications get more and more bloated with every release. There's a direct correlation between hardware that the software designed to run on it.

Like Computers, Consoles Require properly Coded Games

Gamers don't seem to believe in this correlation. Games are the software running on your console - which is a computer. Games, like any software, need to be optimized for the hardware they are to run on. Proof of this comes from watching games evolve over a console's lifespan. At the outset, programmers are not as familiar with the hardware and it's nuances. As they learn the system, we see better, more complex games arriving for the platform.

This concept is alive in the Atari homebrew scene (among others) where programmers are still discovering better ways to execute code on an Atari 2600! And this knowledge shows in the way their games play and the complexity of each game.

So, when Microsoft releases specs for Scorpio, let's not be duped into thinking it will be great simply because of a chip. It needs great exclusive games! Great games make a console great. For all the stories about the Wii U being under-powered, it's game play was spectacular! Isn't that what we want - spectacular games? Great games evolve from spectacular programming! Fast chips are secondary at best.
April 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'd have tried a Switch... Pepsi should never be used as a peace offering

Can a Nintendo Switch get this hot and warp? Doubtful.
I predict the advertising industry will crumble because it's no longer possible to reach the masses when they are comprised of whiners.
Internet outrage over this Pepsi ad, with a harmony context, is becoming more and more typical in the changing landscape of recent human evolution. The Internet has gone from being a tool providing access to vast amounts of information to a soapbox from which to spew anger.

Anger is the new smart. There are no more "pats on the back" or kudos. You will never again be congratulated for a job well done. In today's social climate, outrage is perceived as smart & sexy. The ability to align oneself with like-minded intelligence has been trumped (pun intended) by the idea that we need to be vigilant and capable of converting any scenario into a vile attack on our sensibilities.

People today are morons. Embarrassing morons who lack the ability to see the big picture or have an introspective thought. We've become a reactionary society ready to pounce without a thought or a care.

Can a Nintendo Switch get this hot and warp? Doubtful. If you haven't seen Pepsi's ad, it may not have hit the mark, but the outrage and reactions are ridiculous. Pepsi said: "This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that's an important message to convey."

No rational person thinks a can of soda will actually relieve tensions when protesters meet law enforcement. The ad was a metaphor. Perhaps a way to start a useful dialog. Those who saw the ad wanted to take it literally and pounce on the opportunity to deride Pepsi, Kandall Jenner and anything/anyone else they could attach to it. We live in a world of discontent and hate... mixed with a healthy dollop of stupid.

Headlines across the web identify this as the "Kendall Jenner Pepsi" ad. Congrats to Kendall for becoming so recognizable, but lets remember she was cast in this by Pepsi. She didn't produce it or create it. She appeared in it. The hatred should have been directed at the creative team and those who approved the ad's creation. But we tend to lash out at whoever is conveniently available.

Some have tried to pin this on Jenner by saying she's an adult and should know better. Most ads of this sort are not shot in a linear manner. They shoot all the footage they need and then assemble it to convey the message. Jenner may not have known how the final version would compare to what they may have told her or the shoot itself. Those trying to blame her need to realize how things work and how much better it is when people have discussions, not faceless rants on social media.

This Ugly Mentality Effects Video Games

The Kardashian clan seems to attract their own haters with ease, but this kind of senseless outrage is the new normal and applies equally to video games. No one is immune to it. Nintendo dealt with innumerable attacks on it's former Wii U console which, I feel, likely aided in it's demise.

The Switch is seeing the same moronic treatment of utter outrage at any issue that arises. An issue arose with the joy-con and Nintendo was instantly assaulted by idiots who needed to spill some rage to offset their lack of hugs. Next we have accusations of overheating and alleged bending issues. And the senseless attacks are leveled at Nintendo - even from those who own a Switch, not just the haters.

Misinformation and fake news distribution, fueled by hate and stupidity, have become normal behavior. Humanity is slowly devolving until you look at the timeline and realize it's happening quite quickly. There's not harm in pausing to think. Thinking is good. We all should do more thinking.
April 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If your Switch's dock heats up enough to bend metal, you may want to become a blacksmith

Can a Nintendo Switch get this hot and warp? Doubtful.
Most of us own a few devices that get extremely hot, yet don't seem to cause metal to bend. Furnace, stove, oven, clothes dryer...
For the uninitiated, this article is steeped in sarcasm...

There's been a report from a Nintendo Switch owner about a slight bend in his Switch tablet. He claims an over-heating issue in the dock is the culprit. Others are coming out and reporting similar "warps", but I'm not convinced. Is this a change that's occurred over the month since release, or was this distortion a facet that was not realized until now - might it have been a pre-existing condition?

Can a Nintendo Switch get this hot? When I see folks posting images depicting the warp or bend in their Nintendo Switch tablets, they are showing this alleged defect using various straight edges from books and tables to hunks of cardboard. I'm certain a carpenter's level would be the best tool to verify such a determination. After all, we're talking about bending a metal frame with heat. Might a blacksmith have some useful input here?

I haven't visited a Renaissance Faire in quite some time, but that's the last place I've encountered a blacksmith. My recollection was they used fire to shape metal. From what I saw, this process took a great deal of heat and some additional force.

Take a look around your home. I'm sure you can find a few things that generate significant heat inside an enclosure. I'm not a big fan of microwave ovens, but I adore my toaster oven. A properly-crisped piece of toast is a breakfast delight. And let's not overlook the deliciousness of a small pile of tater tots.

Both of these dishes of savory sustenance result from fairly high temperatures inside my toaster oven. I've owned this awesome little oven for ten years and at no time has the thin metal rack inside, ever bent, warped, or lost it's shape - even from extreme heat. For comparison, your game console gets nowhere near as hot as an oven.

The tablet should maintain proper rigidity when exposed to heat and it certainly looks as though something may have caused the warping in these tablets. But to speculate it was from heat build-up in the dock seems dubious. None the less, oodles of people are now claiming Nintendo is incompetent and delivered a sub-standard product. These people typically come out at any opportunity to deride Nintendo.

I'm sure Nintendo will address these claims and resolve it appropriately for those effected. Lets give Nintendo some time to investigate before dropping the hate. Tirades and outrage doesn't accomplish anything. If your tablet is bent, contact Nintendo. Don't be a dick.
April 4, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Are recent Yooka-Laylee reviews applying modern standards to this retro-inspired game?

Yooka-Laylee
The more I read oddly dubious reviews of Yooka-Laylee, the more I want to play it!
After a very strong Kickstarter campaign, Playtonic Games is very close to releasing their retro-inspired game, Yooka-Laylee. Reviews are beginning to appear and I'm having flashbacks to the Mighty No. 9 release. Some have given Yooka-Laylee positive reviews (great one from Hey Poor Player), but many are being quite harsh and some of the commentary seems as though they are surprised that a retro-inspired game plays like a retro game. Isn't that the point?

Yooka-Laylee for PS4 I'm trying to hold out for the Switch version, so I haven't played it, but the things people dislike seem downright strange. With Banjo-Kazooie as a base, seems like a great start to Yooka-Laylee.

One reviewer said "gaming has progressed since the N64" as though we hadn't noticed. Many say it's "rough around the edges", but I'm not sold on any of the reviews. The game-play videos show a beautiful game that seems full of diversity and options.

There are quite a few good reviews too. this seems to be a case in which I want to find out for myself. I'm liking what I'm seeing and that's enough for me to want to delve into this gorgeous looking title.

As with Mighty No, 9, the negative reviews make me want to play it for myself! MN9 had it's drawbacks and that seems to be the primary analogy with Yooka-Laylee. Reviews seem very critical of small portions without taking in the whole experience. I suspect I'm going to love this game and I'll bet you might too. I try not to let reviews rule my decisions - I've fallen in love with plenty of awful games and found some amazing gems.
April 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My local arcade chain switched from tokens to swipe cards and removed physical redemption tickets

Space Ballz redemption arcade game
I'm not really a fan of redemption games, but weren't the physical tickets part of the appeal?
I'm lucky to live in an area that still caters to the golden age of arcades. I can locally find Joust, Pac-Man, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and a few other games. I marvel at this every time I find one of these gems up and running. Or course, much of every arcade's available floor space goes to various redemption machines.

From coin pushers and claws to random luck spinners, these redemption machines dispence everything from plush-toys and random junk to more tickets. Every time I visit an arcade there are often kids racing around with huge armloads of tickets and big smiles across their faces. My son has a favored redemption machine, Space Ballz, that he likes to play.

Arcade game redemption ticket reel Personally, if I'm getting redemption tickets, I'm playing Skee Ball. I despise redemption, but have a weakness for Skee Ball. I probably have underlying jealousy issues due to my inability to win more than 10 tickets at a time from any of these devices. Meanwhile, toddlers are cheering as tickets roll out in thirty-foot aliquots. Damn kids!

One of the larger bowling/arcade chains around here converted from tokens to swipe cards a few years ago. A single card is valid at any of their locations, which is convenient, but I'm still fond of tokens jingling in my pocket.

On a recent trip to their mall arcade, we gave Space Ballz a whirl and won ten tickets - my disappointing magic number. However, no tickets came out! I paused and then saw a sign by the dual dispensers, stating that ticket values automatically go onto your account - no more tickets. Hmmm...

So, I swipe my card to activate the game and debit my card. The outcome of the game (any tickets won) goes back to my card through some sort of network magic. Don't kids like having armfuls of tickets? I understand that removing the tickets cuts costs in a variety of ways, but when redemption machines redeem via a wireless network... well, that's kinda dull. Maybe I like some of those dumb redemption machines more than I'm admitting. It's fun to see a ton of tickets come flying out!

I guess the lame economy is effecting more and more elements of daily life - even arcade tickets. I guess I can get over this change as long as I can still use my points to get an illuminated alien head.
April 2, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Ghost In The Shell takes a more all-out-action approach leaving the cerebral elements in the background

Too many reviews are focused on casting instead of the films many elements. It's a cool flick.
It's frustrating to see so many reviewers and websites jumping on the "whitewashing" term as though it means anything relevant. Changing the ethnicity of a cast or cast member doesn't really change a movie. Acting is a craft. It's not about "looking like" some visual expectation. Acting involves bringing a character and story to life - to the screen, etc... Scarlett Johansson is top notch

Ghost In The Shell video game for PlayStation I"m not a huge fan of anime in general, but I like the storyline of the original Ghost In The Shell. Knowing that Hollywood long ago gave up on creating original works, we are subjected to remakes, reboots, and the like. While this interpretation of the story was more of an action film, there were hints of the underlying issues of human enhancements. the way Hollywood operates, I'm not sure they could have properly balanced the original duality of the plot.

As a stand-alone film, I likeed it. It was a fun film to see. That may be a shallow take on it, but I'm about fun. From video games to film, my metric for entertainment media comes down to fun. It was a cool flick. I'm sure I'll pick up the DVD when it comes out, but the purists who want the original work duplicated, will not be happy.

I liked it. Go check out Ghost In The Shell - it's fun. For those reading reviews claiming the movie was bad because of casting decisions, you know those reviewers are trying to jump on a trend and send out enough controversial hate to garner some recognition. That has nothing to do with the rating of a film. We took in some Time Crisis 4 and air hockey in the theater's arcade and that makes everything better. Check it out. Eat some pop corn and play some video games. If it's not your thing, sneak into another theater for a do-over :)

Ghost In The Shell movie with Scarlett Johansson See if you can find a copy of the game for the original PlayStation. I didn't realize there was a Ghost in the Shell video game. It's a 3D shooter based on the original comic, not the film. There's also Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex for PS2.

Ghost In The Shell video game for PlayStation
April 1, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The only April Fools joke to actually be real - Rick And Morty season 3 premiere

Rick And Morty premiere
As fans gripe about the delayed season, Rick And Morty premieres on April Fools Day... further aggravating fans.
As I flipped through the channels and came across a new Rick And Morty episode, it seemed like an odd day for such a thing. I don't believe ANYTHING on April 1st. However, this was the real deal! Season 3 premiered and was on-loop for the following 24 hours. Gotta like that!

After the many delays, fans rejoiced, but they were anticipating the episode would end abruptly with an April Fools tie-in. However, the whole episode played with hope that the rest of the season will arrive soon.
April 1, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

We know not to believe much on April Fool's Day, but lets discuss global time

Dream Stream April Fool's Day
I will blatantly disbelieve anything I see online today... and I've seen some really good things I wish were real!
Some of gaming's best April Fool's pranks have been awesome! Any other day of the year, I'd be cheering and sending money - but it is April Fool's Day. We know better and chuckle at the brilliance of these ideas floating around the web today. Dreamcast games for Switch? That would be awesome! But alas...

Many intricate pranks began showing up yesterday - March 31. As most of us know, time is relative to location. Thus when it's 5:00pm where you are... there are large parts of the world where it is not 5:00pm. Adding complexity, folks in Australia are often a calendar-day ahead of me.

I began to see people defending the authenticity of various April Fool's pranks by stating it wasn't April 1st yet!
"This must be true. It's March 31st."
It's kind of funny, but so sad to realize people are either dumb or so self-centered they can't fathom another time zone.

If you're lucky, you'll find someone wondering why people in Australia can't predict the future for those of us in the US. Dumb can be so precious. Don't fall for the great sounding gaming pranks today and be happy you know how clocks and calendars operate. Enjoy the day!
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