Lack of Order

‘Press X to Jason’ the screen reads, as you play through Heavy Rain. ‘Press X to pay respects’ the screen offers, as you begin Call of Duty Advanced Warfare’s campaign. These scripted moments are something that try and engage the gamer but often feel as though they are awkward moments, much like when a parent says to ‘Make sure you send grandma a thank you card for the $5 she gave you for your birthday!’ You sigh; “But, why?” is the silent question, grandma knows you love her, after all.

In games, being prompted to perform an action is something that is here to stay. Be it through a quick time event or something that is set to move the plot, being told how to play a game is a break of immersion that is unfortunately commonplace. To say that all prompts shouldn’t exist is completely foolish as well. In the Batman Arkham series, an enemy can be countered as the prompt flashes over their head. In the Metal Gear Solid series, stealth is achieved best by being aware of what the enemies are doing or how they are reacting to the player movements – if they are curious, we know, if they know we are there, we know. Past this, games that offer tips to playing the game, such as Uncharted, can be a welcome addition, prompting the player to look in a certain place, even with the prompted option of ‘Hint’ appearing on screen when a puzzle takes a player too long to crack.

source: The Turbulence

How then, did we get here? When we say that moving narrative through a button press may not be the best choice, what does the alternative look like? The answer I have found is in Minecraft. This argument is not built on Minecraft alone, but rather, the use of its crafting system and completely wonky puzzles. Do you want to build a pickaxe? Boards in a row on top, then sticks underneath, which, is the only logical way to form a pickaxe. This type of crafting and puzzle solving works because it falls onto something that was all but forgotten in games – the intelligence of the player.

source: Xombit Games

I have a collection of Super Nintendo games, which I consider to be the height of gaming history. That opinion was formed due to playing games as a child and then replaying them as an adult. In assembling the collection, I swore to myself very early on that I would play each cartridge as much as I could. I did this to ensure the games still worked and to also understand the system better. I would also refrain looking up about the game. If I was to play them, it would be without the help of the internet, just like it would have been while growing up. My approach led to moments of utter frustration (trying to use the special skills and moves in Batman Forever) and fantastic exploration (shooting accidental fireballs in Mortal Kombat) but the thing that was never questioned was my ability to progress, built out of desire, I pushed myself into the games devices and was rewarded by being able to play the game.

source: alphacoders

Games used to be taken on their own terms and merits. Donkey Kong Country was about saving a giant banana and using an array of jungle animals to do so. The original Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat arcade games did not have character bios built into the game for players – none of that was the focus. If it feels out of place to give advice or to try and add context, it’s because it probably is. None of the old games needed reason to have the player do what they did (looking at you, James Pond) but they presented common ideas, and then let the player go.

source: The Escapist

As I continue to play games, now on the Xbox and Playstation, I wonder about this time. The time when games handed us pieces and nothing more and if it is truly fading away, and if it is, what do I do? I am playing Darkest Dungeon at the moment which has the same incredible thought tucked into it – “What if I pour holy water onto an altar?”, I thought to myself late one night. I poured it and moments later I was texting a friend with complete thrill that it worked! These moments continued as these thoughts, now written here, wrote themselves in my head. How much of the player’s intelligence will you remove from the game, before you realise that the desire to learn and struggle until success, starved until the sensation of winning, will always be tied to human nature just as much as story telling or visual appeal?

Press X to pay respect to the player’s intelligence.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Matthew Squaire
Matthew hosts the Matturday Podcasts with amazing people in video games. He can also be found on Twitter

 

 

 

 

The Retro Freak: It’s Freakin Awesome

retrofreak_titleWhen we received the Retro Freak console from Play-Asia, we put our thinking cap on to try and find a way to review the unit objectively. Our thinking cap must’ve worked, as we came up with an ingenious idea – take the Retro Freak to the biggest gaming expo in the southern hemisphere, PAX Aus 2016!

By having the Retro Freak available to play at PAX Aus, it gave us the opportunity to observe attendees playing on the console and gauge their unfiltered and objective feedback. With thousands in attendance, we weren’t short of people having a go. There were youngsters and older players, families and couples all having a go. The overwhelming responses from players was, “What is this console?”, “Where can I get one?” and “How much is it?”.

Play your old school carts on the Retro Freak!
retrofreak_top_carts

For those that are not aware, this awesome console from Cyber Gadget allows you to play your original game cartridges/cards from your Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, SuperGrafx, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance. By supporting these legacy systems, the Retro Freak ensures that you only need the one console setup in your games room to play all of your favourite classic titles! Hooray, you can finally declutter!

Let’s put on scanlines!
retrofreak_avsettings

We love the clean and easy-to-use interface
retrofreak_screen

The Retro Freak pumps out its audio visuals via HDMI, supporting 720p upscaling, which makes your old school games look great on newer TVs – so no more needing that 20 year old CRT TV! Well, we would suggest that you still hold onto your CRT TV *winks*. The other cool features that will freak you out (in a good way) include; filters, backing up of games from cartridge onto the console (on MicroSD card), instant save states and cheat codes (for certain games).

For control, there is the pack-in SNES-style controller, which does the job well, or if you prefer, modern gamepads such as the DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 can also be used (via USB). The Retro Freak Premium pack ships with a controller adaptor that supports Famicom/NES, Super Famicom/SNES, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16 controllers. If you prefer bluetooth control (perhaps you dislike wires!), you can procure the 8bitdo Retro Receiver, plug it into the controller adaptor and use any one of your PS3, PS4, WiiMote or Wii U controllers you may have lying around. Oh yeah, you can re-map controller buttons to suit your style! We love the flexibility that the Freak provides!

The pack-in controller does the job! At least the USB cable is 1.8M!
retrofreak_snes-controller

One side of the Controller Adaptor – connect your fave gamepads!
retrofreak_controlleradapter

Other side of the Controller Adaptor reveals more classic controller ports!
retrofreak_controlleradapter2

So how does it compare to playing on the real hardware? We threw all kinds of games at the Freak, and it ran them without a hitch. We didn’t encounter any incompatibility issues, which ensured we didn’t rage quit and turn off the console. The transferring of original game cartridge data to MicroSD is as easy as breathing, thanks to the user friendly interface. One niggle we did have was with Cyber Gadget’s support page being in Japanese – it made it difficult to ascertain the firmware and application updates required to ensure the Retro Freak was up to date. Google did came to the rescue here by pointing us to a forum that had the instructions in English on how to upgrade the firmware.

The elephant in the room is the obvious comparison to the RetroN5. With quality issues hampering the RetroN5, we know which system we would prefer to use – if only the Retro Freak was as good looking as the RetroN5! If you want to be able to archive your original game carts and declutter by only having one console to play your classic games on, then you can’t go wrong with the Retro Freak!

If you are keen to check out the Retro Freak console, then head to Play-Asia now.

Play Operation Wolf straight from the PC-Engine HuCard, OR…
retrofreak_opwolf

Backup the Operation Wolf HuCard to microSD! It’s the best of both worlds!
retrofreak_opwolf_backup

The Retro Freak makes it to PAX Aus!
retrofreak_pax

Family gaming together!
retrofreak_pikachu

The Retro Freak was a hit at PAX Aus 2016! The Sega Mega Drive version of Aladdin was quite popular.
retrofreak_girl

Super Famicom F-Zero action aplenty!
retro_freak_fzero

Time to SUPER SMASH (some) TV!
retrofreak_smashtv

Thanks to Play-Asia.com for supplying the Retro Freak used in this review.

 

Super Mario World Transformed Into Flappy Bird

SMW FB featuredGet ready to be amazed, Seth Bling has transformed Super Mario World into Flappy Bird using only SNES hardware. Seth made use of glitches to inject code (written by p4plus2) and claims this is ‘the first time a human has ever completed this kind of exploit‘ – amazing!

Find out just how he did it in this neat video (or watch the whole process via the Twitch livestream archive, or check out the code injection notes).

Source: SethBling via Laughing Squid

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

msausretrogamerMs. ausretrogamer
Co-founder, editor and writer at ausretrogamer – The Australian Retro Gamer E-Zine. Lover of science fiction, fashion, books, movies and TV. Player of games, old and new.

Follow Ms. ausretrogamer on Twitter

 

 

Super Mario Kart… With 100+ Players!

featuredHat-Loving Gamer imagines what it would be like to play Super Mario Kart with all (and we mean ALL) of your favourite video game characters. We seriously want to play this game!

Characters featured (A-Z):

  1. Adam (Streets of Rage) 0:52
  2. Alex Kidd 1:33
  3. Ash Ketchum (Pokémon) 0:32
  4. Axel (Streets of Rage) 0:52
  5. Baby Luigi 0:38
  6. Baby Mario 0:38
  7. Banjo Kazooie 1:14
  8. Big Daddy (Bioshock) 0:59
  9. Birdo 0:20
  10. Blinky (Pac-Man) 0:19
  11. Bomberman 1:31
  12. Bowser 0:25
  13. Bowser Junior 0:25
  14. Captain Falcon (FZero) 0:57 1:19
  15. Cat Peach 0:57
  16. Charmander (Pokémon) 0:21
  17. CJ (GTA: San Andreas) 1:18
  18. Crash Bandicoot 0:33
  19. Daisy 1:18
  20. Diddy Kong 0:42
  21. DK 0:42
  22. Donkey Kong Jr 0:42
  23. Dry Bones 1:39
  24. Dry Bowser 1:38
  25. Duke Nukem 1:12
  26. Earthworm Jim 1:14
  27. Ecco the Dolphin 1:15
  28. Eggman (Sonic the Hedgehog) 1:14
  29. Fox (Lylatwars) 0:55
  30. Frogger 1:02
  31. Funky Kong 0:42
  32. Gilius Thunderhead (Golden Axe) 1:39
  33. Goku (Dragonball Z) 1:49
  34. Hammerbro 1:52
  35. Honey Queen 1:15
  36. Iggy Koopa 0:54
  37. Isabelle (Animal Crossing) 0:53
  38. Kamek 0:19
  39. King Boo 1:50
  40. Kirby 0:55
  41. Koopa 0:29
  42. Kratos (God of War) 1:36
  43. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) 1:52
  44. Larry Koopa 0:56
  45. Lemmy Koopa 0:30
  46. Lugwig Koopa 0:38
  47. Luigi 0:36
  48. Link (Legend of Zelda) 0:56
  49. Mario 0:41
  50. Master Chief (Halo) 0:50
  51. Megaman 1:33
  52. Metal Mario 0:30
  53. Minecraft’s Steve 1:12
  54. Morton Koopa 1:17
  55. Nathan Drake (Uncharted) 1:33
  56. Ness (Earthbound) 1:38
  57. Olimar (Pikmin) 0:33
  58. Pac-Man 0:18
  59. Papa the Rappa 1:16
  60. Paratrooper 1:37
  61. Peach 0:53
  62. Petey Piranha 1:19
  63. Pikachu (Pokémon) 0:31
  64. Pink Gold Peach 1:37
  65. Pit (Kid Icarus) 0:27
  66. Pong Left Paddle 0:34
  67. Pong Right Paddle 0:34
  68. Qbert 0:51
  69. Rabbid (Rayman) 1:34
  70. Ratchet and Clank 1:50
  71. Rayman 1:14
  72. Red Yoshi 0:50
  73. R.O.B 0:58
  74. Rosalina 0:31
  75. Roy Koopa 1:17
  76. Ryu (Street Fighter) 1:41
  77. Sack Boy (Little Big Planet) 1:34
  78. Samus (Metroid) 1:32
  79. Scorpion (Mortal Kombat) 1:11
  80. Shy Guy 0:23
  81. Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) 0:56
  82. Sonic the Hedgehog 0:27
  83. Spyro 1:00
  84. Subzero (Mortal Kombat) 1:11
  85. Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog) 0:27
  86. Tanooki Mario 0:58
  87. Tetris Block I 1:38
  88. Tetris Block L 1:38
  89. Tetris Block T 1:38
  90. Tetris Block Z 1:38
  91. The King (Tekken) 0:55
  92. Toad 0:00
  93. Toadette 0:24
  94. Turbo (Wreck it Ralph) 1:37
  95. Tyris Flare (Golden Axe) 1:40
  96. Villager Boy (Animal Crossing) 0:53
  97. Villager Girl (Animal Crossing) 0:53
  98. Waluigi 0:29
  99. Wario 0:29
  100. Wendy Koopa 0:36
  101. Wriggler 0:48
  102. Yoshi 0:39

Source: Hat-Loving Gamer via Technabob

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

msausretrogamerMs. ausretrogamer
Co-founder, editor and writer at ausretrogamer – The Australian Retro Gamer E-Zine. Lover of science fiction, fashion, books, movies and TV. Player of games, old and new.

Follow Ms. ausretrogamer on Twitter

 

 

The Mini Arcade By SuperGameCo

MiniArcade_GalagaHave you always wanted to make your own mini arcade tabletop machine? Are you a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) hack just like me? If you answered yes to both questions, then the SuperGameCo Mini Arcade may be just what you are looking for.

Made from bamboo panels that snap together, the Mini Arcade is a breeze to setup – if you prefer (Ed: are too lazy), SuperGameCo also offer the Mini Arcade in fully assembled form.

MiniArcade_SideView

MiniArcade_Control_topdown

At the heart of the Mini Arcade is a very speedy Raspberry Pi 2 Model B computer, running Emulation Station. This ensures that the emulators and games run nice and smooth. We didn’t experience any slowdown during play – which was great. The 9″ LCD screen provides great resolution, but the marquee protrudes a tad too much which tends to get in the way if you are not sitting down low.

MiniArcade_Bootup

MiniArcade_credit_and_rear

The control deck is made up of an 8-way Sanwa/Seimitsu arcade stick and 6 concave arcade buttons. These are complimented with a single player select button and an insert coin (credit) button on the left side of the unit to provide an authentic arcade feel when playing games via MAME.

MiniArcade_Emulators

Audio on the Mini Arcade is pumped through the front facing speakers via a stereo amplifier. We did find that the sound wasn’t as beefy as we would have liked, which took away a bit from the experience when playing shoot’em ups with booming explosions.

MiniArcade_SuperMario

MiniArcade_NeoGeo

We found the Mini Arcade to be a breeze to operate and play games. The assembly was nice and easy, and once you are all setup, it is pretty straight forward to select your favourite old game and get all nostalgic. If you are struggling to find a Christmas present for your retro gaming partner, then the Mini Arcade may be a viable option.

PROS:
– Clever snap-together kit (or you could opt for it to be fully assembled)
– Easy to get started playing games
– Latest Raspberry Pi 2 Model B internals
– Quality Sanwa/Seimitsu arcade joystick
– Inclusion of the Insert Coin button provides an authentic arcade feel
– Multiple interfaces (USB/RJ45) for additional connectivity

CONS:
– Marquee is obtrusive when playing on the 9″ LCD display
– Button layout felt a tad cramped
– Sound is reasonable, but it needs to be meatier
– Insert coin button stickiness (may have just been our unit)
– Power supply cord was too short
– Graphics on the bamboo panels would be nice

The Mini Arcade product variants and prices can be found at the SuperGameCo store here.

 

Made In Australia: SNES Games

AussieMade_MainTItleWith the NES and Mega Drive getting their Made In Australia once-over, we thought we would complete the trilogy by documenting the video games that were made Down Under for Nintendo’s 16-bit powerhouse, the Super Nintendo!

Looking at the SNES games developed in Australia, it is great to see so many chart topping titles in the list, from the awesome Super Smash TV, to MechWarrior and the cyberpunk-fantasy action role-playing game, Shadowrun.

The SNES was blessed with great titles and I am proud to say that Australian made games were counted amongst them. Which Australian made SNES game did you like?

Super Smash TV (1991)
SNES_SuperSmashTV

Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball (1992)
SNES_CalRipkin

George Foreman’s K.O. Boxing (1992)
SNES_GeorgeF
NBA All Star Challenge (1992)
SNES_NBA

Super High Impact (1993)
SNES_Super_High_Impact

MechWarrior (1993)
SNES_MechWarrior

Shadowrun (1993)
SNES_Shadowrun

Choplifter III: Rescue Survive (1994)
SNES_ChoplifterIII

WCW Superbrawl Wrestling (1994)
SNES_WCW Super Brawl Wrestling

Radical Rex (1994)
SNES_RadicalRex

Super Solitaire (1994)
SNES_SuperSola

Super International Cricket (1994)
SNES_SuperIntCricket

True Lies (1994)
SNES_TrueLies

Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams (1995)
SNES_Wildcast

image sources: destructoid, giantbomb, gamefaqs, rfgeneration, mobygames, wikimedia commonsretrogamingaus

 

Infographic: The Evolution Of Controllers

I must admit, I am a sucker for infographics! I am a visual person and would prefer to see more pictures than words. Don’t get me wrong, a well constructed piece will hold my attention, but I get excited over pictures – the more of them, the merrier. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

You don’t need words to explain what you are looking at below – just click on the infographic and then zoom in and enjoy the visual ride!

game-Controllerssource: Pop Chart Lab