Thursday, 28 June 2012

Where did it go wrong for Nintendo & Sega - Part One

In this series of blog posts I want to discuss where its all gone wrong for Nintendo and Sega.  As you are probably already aware Sega pulled out of the hardware business after the Dreamcast tanked.  That wasn't to say it was a particularly bad machine but I personally think it was released too soon after the Saturn. But these days Sega now concentrate on software - more specifically games - rather than hardware. It has to be said Nintendo seem to be heading in the same direction.

But why? My own thoughts are that this had been coming to Nintendo for some time.  The reasons Sega ended up pulling out of making hardware was, in my opinion, that they were a little bit too adventurous and expensive. Going all the way back to the Genesis and Game Gear, Sega were always keen to produce gimmick add-ons that whilst they did provide extra functionality they were expensive and often poorly supported. Examples of this would be the Game Gear's TV adapter and the Genesis' 32X and Mega-CD.

Nintendo have shown glimpses of the same behaviour with devices such as the Virtual Boy which was a disaster in every possible way.  But that isn't the reason in my opinion. For me the reason Nintendo's profits are now on the skids is because they are too conservative with hardware.

I will try to qualify that now. For as long as I can remember Nintendo seem to sell their hardware for slightly less than the comparable Sega product. The Gameboy I seem to remember was similarly priced to the Game Gear but it had much better battery life due to it sporting a black and white display and had an arguably better catalogue of games. The NES obliterated the Master System everywhere except the US where sales were moderate for the Sega machine. The SNES was cheaper than the Genesis and was better in a couple of areas - it had a superior sound chip and it had dedicated graphics capabilities for rotating backgrounds - the famous Mode 7.

The slide downhill in Nintendo's case begins with the N64. Whilst it did have revolutionary games like Goldeneye and Mario 64 the biggest problem was that it was cartridge based.  The N64 was released in 1994. Sony had released their Playstation two years earlier and whilst arguably comparable in terms of graphics the Playstation, being CD-Rom based meant the games were cheaper to manufacture and also allowed the owner to listen to music CDs and play video cds.  By being two years late bringing their products to market and handicapping it by making it more costly for everyone they were simply shooting themselves in the foot. Ironically the Playstation was created specifically to annoy Nintendo after a partnership project between the two to produce a CD-Rom attachment for the SNES fell through and Nintendo turned Judas and opted to work with Philips.

I have always found Nintendo's excuse - sorry - reason for sticking with cartridges with to reduce piracy - something quite laughable when we look back now at the DS which has had virtually it's whole library ripped onto the internet and loaded onto countless R4 and DSTT cartridges...

Part Two. 

Street Fighter II Turbo The New Challengers - My Review

Street Fighter II Turbo The New Challengers - couldn't Capcom think of a longer title? ;-)

Anyway my thoughts on this seminal scrapper even though I'm terrible at fighting games. As you'll soon see.

Modern Warfare 3 - Live Commentary [HD]

I don't really enjoy Modern Warfare 3 - or 2 for that matter. Call of Duty peaked in my humble opinion with Modern Warfare 1 and World at War. But a quick video of me "enjoying" Modern Warfare 3. Hope you enjoy. Subscribe if you want ;-)

Sometimes I really love Battlefield 3. When it plays well it's by far the best game around at the moment for my money. Sadly it doesn't do this very often for me... For my money Bad Company 2 is a better, more balanced game and plays consistently well. For me at least.  But here's a quick video illustrating one of the examples of why I get p***ed off now and again. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

My Youtube channel

Hey there fans of games old and new! If you want to have a look at my handiwork on trusty Youtube then you can find my channel here:

And I hope you enjoy the videos!

Super Mario Land (Gameboy, 1989)

The whole series of Super Mario games is synonymous with platforming. If you’re over the age of 15 and into games in any way then the chances are you’ve played one of Nintendo’s many fabulous platforming games.

Super Mario Land on the Gameboy - because of the limitations of the hardware - had to strip down the Mario experience to its core. That is perfect platform action.  As far as the gameplay goes on this game its virtually perfect. Every press of the D-pad or button does what you want (and indeed expect...) it to do.  Everything “feels” solid and reliable and pixel perfect. There’s no clipping or dodgy graphics (see my Mercenary Force video for an example of how not to code graphics on the Gameboy) all the sprites are animated perfectly.

Audio wise it’s fairly middling stuff. Plinky plonky tunes that (even though there were made into a music single) aren’t really on the same level as the Castlevanias of the world. Its not to say it bad - it just isn’t anything remarkable either. Castlevania showed that Gameboy can pull off some half decent tunes if the programmers have the time/skill to do them.

Replay value for my money is quite high. The game is both short enough to finish on your lunch break but at the same time long enough to last longer than the blink of an eye. Last time I played through it took me under 30 minutes. And there’s the level select you unlock when you’ve completed the game twice in a row.  The game is enjoyable enough that even though I’ve played it over 100 times I still like going through it all again. For me that’s a hallmark of programmers who know how to code a good game. Unlike Mario Kart for example which I personally find infuriating.

The one thing I would criticise this for - that I only noticed recently playing through a number of other GB titles - is that I think the graphics are quite lacklustre. They move perfectly but the backgrounds are on occasions fairly bland. The enemy sprites look ok but Mario is a little blob of pixels with no detail. If you compare this to Navy Seals which has very rich backgrounds and characters - it looks almost amateurish. For my money at least.

But whatever you do - if you have the means - you should play this game.  Its a classic, it was perfect for the gameboy and there’s plenty of secrets in there if you have the time to look for them. It definitely worth a few Pounds, Dollars, Euros etc... of your money to play this classic game.


Hey Guys & Gals,

Just a quick hello for now. I will be uploading stuff to Youtube in time but for now I'll answer the most obvious question - what does Igirisu Nogema mean? Well its Japanese for English Gamer. What do you mean you didn't know?