Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The March 1997 issue of Next Generation magazine:
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Interest in the retro gaming scene has really expanded in the last few years, thanks in no small part to the proliferation of capable mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad and the App Store behind them. As such, retro-minded iOS gamers have a wide range of games to choose from, such as retro-inspired new releases, retro remakes, as well as the actual games of olde brough forth through faithful emulation. It is in the last arena that, early this year, Rantmedia Games decided to toss its hat, sharing word of their upcoming Vectrex Regeneration, a one-stop-shop for fans of the much vaunted, early ’80s Vectrex console.
We have been following Rantmedia’s progress closely since then, and are pleased to have finally had an opportunity to put their Vectrex emulation / game library through its paces. Vectrex Regeneration [Free], a universal app for the iPad (2 and up) and iPhone (4 and up), is now live in the App Store, and here’s the low-down.
First, some needed history. Released in late 1982 by General Consumer Electric (GCE), the Vectrex is a highly unique game system. Unlike every other console of the time, the Vectrex features an integrated CRT display — but not of the standard, horizontal-scan variety. The Vectrex utilizes a vector monitor, which is similar to an oscilloscope and draws its graphics on the screen in a fashion similar to the display process of a laser light show. It’s the only console from gaming’s past defined by a complete lack of jaggies.
The Vectrex features a wired controller with an analog stick (one of the first ever brought to market) and accepts games on ROM cartridges, though a single, Asteroids-like game called MineStorm is built into the system. Each game title came with a pack-in plastic screen overlay to add cabinet bling and simulate color on the built-in monochrome display. There was even a light pen and an optional 3D imaging peripheral available for the system, the first ever offered for a console.
The week of Thanksgiving marks one of the most important retail milestones for sellers of things. We’ve got a ballpark figure for how many people brought the new Wii U. (Around 400,000.) And Microsoft bragged about all the Xbox 360 units they shifted into people homes, too. (750,000 for those guys.) So, what about Sony? They’re right in the middle.
The consumer electronics giant divulged that they sold more than half a million units of their home console, owed largely to the attractively priced bundles on offer.
As for the Vita, the gaming handheld sold 160,000 units. That’s a lot less than the 275,000 DS units Nintendo said that consumers bought last week. When another company’s least-shiny, most outdated portable outdoes your shiny new one, you might have a problem on your hands, Sony.
Friday, November 30, 2012
The January 1992 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment:
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)
Nintendo’s mainline franchises don’t change very much. Mario and Link are always wearing the same clothes and rocking the same basic moves — jump, slash, fireball, hookshot — on a mission to save some kind of princess from some kind of Bowser/Ganondorf. But the deceptively simple gameplay at the core of Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda belies the games’ strength — they are easy to play but difficult to master. What sets The Wind Waker apart, 10 years after its release, is its eccentric, eerily beautiful cel-shading aesthetic. It’s Nintendo’s last great visual experiment, a remnant from a bygone age before the iconic game company shifted its focus toward redefining The Controller. Set in a gorgeous world halfway between Hayao Miyazaki and Calvin & Hobbes, Wind Waker also looks ahead of its time now: At a moment when videogames were shifting toward cinematic realism, Wind Waker found a raw beauty in cartoonish primitivism.
Half-Life 2 (2004)
Valve’s futuristic first-person shooter deserves a place in the videogame pantheon just for the introduction of the Gravity Gun. That single innovation cemented a change that had been brewing for a long time. The ‘’environment'’ wasn’t just something you walked through while killing people; post-Gravity Gun, it was an organic part of the experience, and it could be the deadliest weapon of all. But Half-Life 2 also set a new benchmark for in-game storytelling, eschewing cinematics in an immersive storyline. (It’s remarkable how few games took the basic lessons of HL2 to heart…and it’s depressing when an otherwise-stellar modern game like Assassin’s Creed 3 ends with what amounts to a neverending poorly animated cartoon.) Best of all, because Valve encouraged players to create their own modifications, Half-Life 2 became a veritable laboratory for user experimentation.
After almost three years without an update, and with Windows 8 sales flailing, Microsoft will release a new Xbox just in time for Christmas next year, sources told Bloomberg’s Dina Bass and Ian King. Last year Microsoft had said that it wouldn’t release a new version of the gaming system “anytime soon,” with other sources talking up a date sometime in 2013 “at the earliest.” This new Christmas launch makes perfect sense for the video-game nerd anticipated “Xbox 720,” as the rumorers refer to it. An Xbox is one of those it toys that gets people lining up at 3 a.m. during holiday shopping craziness. Even the aging 360 console has managed to double the sales of the new Nintendo Wii so far this holiday season, according to numbers from the NDP Group. Microsoft hasn’t put out an entirely new console since 2005, which led to riots during Black Friday of that year.
As for what exactly the gadget will look like, the rumorers say it will be cheaper and smaller than the 360, which retails starting at $300. In addition, it will have an udpated Kinect controller, a quad core processor, 8GB Ram, Blu-Ray, and augmented reality glasses, according to “leaked reports.”