Shooting Straight: Ninten-disappointment

January 15, 2015 Leave a comment

It’s more than 24 hours later, and I’m still seething over Adaptergate. I think though, that between yesterday’s blog post and today’s video, I’ve said just about all that I can say about it and have to force myself to move on.

If you look back at entries on this blog from a few years ago, you’ll see other examples of questionable business decisions that I called other companies out for. This is something that I got away from, because honestly it never mattered to anyone else but me. Things like questionable DLC and the industry’s perception of used games were never going away, especially not because some random guy said they should.

Adaptergate bothered me more than anything in the last year or so, because I was keen on the New 3DS. I wanted to get one. It seemed great with its small improvements that would be nice to have along with a new unit with a fresh battery… but I can’t, in good conscience, spend $200 on a device that doesn’t come with a way to charge it after two hours of use. That’s akin to telling Nintendo, “I have no problem with your fleecing me. Please do so again next time.”

It’s a reminder to me of why I’m moving away from modern video games, in general. The industry doesn’t just want consumers’ money– it wants more of the consumers’ money. It’s never enough. I never thought we’d go back to the days of the Game Boy Advance, where we were responsible for batteries to get the thing working… but here we are. It’s not $200 for a New 3DS. It’s $215. And you have to buy two items– not just one that includes the other. When we buy new video games these days, publishers are always pushing for not the $60 I paid for the game itself, but the additional $20+ for DLC… much of which was announced weeks before the game hits store shelves. We also no longer expect our games to work as advertised on the first day it’s released. We’re expected to wait a few days, because games are complex, or too many people are playing, or some other excuse.

It’s disappointing, to be certain.

An Open Letter to Nintendo

January 14, 2015 1 comment

To whom it may concern:

Thank you for sharing your recent Nintendo Direct presentation online. I had been wondering for awhile if this “New 3DS” handheld was coming here to the United States. Friends and colleagues had shared their experiences with the somewhat upgraded hardware, and it seemed like it was something that I might want to trade my 3DS XL in towards.

I also want to thank you for talking me out of buying that New 3DS. You almost had me, I admit. Part of me wanted to run down to my local video game store and place a preorder right away… but then I found out that you aren’t including an AC charger with this hardware. If I was to trade in my 3DS XL, I would be forced to buy another charger separately… but if I didn’t trade in my 3DS XL, $200 for a slightly improved 3DS would’ve been rather steep.

So, instead, I’ll be keeping my “Old” 3DS XL and spending the difference between on trade-in and a New 3DS on something else.

It does seem rather greedy to stop including AC chargers with new hardware, after doing so here in the USA for more than a decade. I bought a GBA SP in 2003, an original DS in 2005, a DS Lite in 2006, a DSi in 2009, a 3DS in 2011, and a 3DS XL in 2013… and all of these handhelds had an AC adapter. It was nice not having to spend extra money to keep my purchases working out of the box. Admittedly, I traded in earlier handhelds to get the newer ones, and you might be surprised to learn that trade-in places actually require the charger to be accompanied with the handheld! That means that I don’t have six AC chargers lying around. I have one, and it would’ve been traded in with my 3DS XL towards the New 3DS… which means that your $200 price tag is, well, rather misleading.

To me, this isn’t a very customer-friendly move, despite what your company claimed in its (frankly ridiculous, in my opinion) explanation of the decision to no longer include the adapter with purchase. When I buy an upgraded smartphone or tablet, I get a charging cable… even if I already have one. It’s not a burden; in fact, it’s a convenience to have an extra charger hanging around. Of course, it’s probably a financial burden for your company– and one that I never expected that you’d pass on to your customers– but hey: You’ve got to do what’s best for you.

But that’s no longer my problem, I guess. I’ll keep enjoying my “old” 3DS XL, and you keep doing what you’re doing. I’m grateful for you talking me out of upgrading to the new one. My money is better spent elsewhere, and your decision helped me to see that.

Have a great 2015!

 

— Peter

Retro Unscripted Review #2: NFL Blitz (Arcade, PlayStation, Nintendo 64)

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

Here’s the next installment of Retro Unscripted Reviews. Reviewing a football game during NFL playoff time made sense to me, and being an arcade fan who has played the heck out of the coin-op, PlayStation, and Nintendo 64 versions of this game… it was easy to talk about.

I listened to some feedback that I got after the Street Sk8er review, and brought the running time down to just over 5 minutes. Keeping video reviews between 4-7 minutes seems to be the sweet spot; it works well for Classic Game Room and CGR Undertow, and I think that time frame should be long enough to get enough of my thoughts on a game (or games) on video without getting into extraneous detail.

I know that I picked two games that I enjoy for the first two reviews. Reviews arguably shouldn’t just be about the “good” games, I understand… but there are still plenty of games in my retro library that I have yet to talk about, and a few stinkers will get covered. Superman 64 is still on my “to get” list, and VIP will probably get a review in the next few weeks.

Perhaps I’ll throw out a poll soon asking which game I should cover, if there’s interest in something like that. It’s an idea for the not-so-distant future. For now, I hope you enjoy this review… and, as always, I’d love to hear your feedback on the review, the game, and/or the blog here. Thanks for watching– and reading!

 

Retro Unscripted Episode 31: The Trade-in Conundrum

January 12, 2015 Leave a comment


Illness be damned, Episode 31 is done!

This episode was inspired by recent posts that I saw online about trade-ins and how awful/regrettable the practice is. While I do admit that there are times when looking back on trade-ins can lead to feelings of remorse or regret, the reality of it for me is that trade-ins have been a necessity. Money has almost always been tight, so juggling expenses and finding room to buy video games and/or systems is often a difficult thing to do.

There are lots of games and a few systems that I might have missed out on– or had my interest in getting dinged by– having to wait while my cash reserves slowly built up. Honestly, it was the PlayStation and Dreamcast that triggered a lot of en masse trade-ins, since I went all-in for both systems at launch, but there were a lot of games in the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era that I traded away for just to stay current as an aspiring game reviewer. It’s just what I did as someone without a lot of contacts that wanted to write reviews back then.

Trade-ins, both then and now, are an alternate way to make this hobby more affordable for those who enjoy it. I understood that back in the 1990s and 2000s, and I still encourage it today for those like me who have limited incomes but still want to play and enjoy video games. You might poke yourself down the line for doing it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it– especially if the payoff is getting that game or console that you have your eye on.

What’s your stance on trade-ins? Do you do them, or do you think that it’s better to suck it up and stash cash until you can outright buy what you want?

Thanks, as always, for watching. Hopefully my stuffy head didn’t affect my voice too much.

New Video: January 2015 Updates and Recent Pickups

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment


So here it is, my first video for 2015.

I’ve been sick for the last few days, one of the last in my household to contract “The Plague”, so my intent to shoot videos after the first of the year was delayed. After feeling better today and being a bit more active, I wanted to take advantage of my streak of energy and put something together. It was a good test of my voice and it felt great to get back in front of the camera again. Unfortunately, shooting video at night (with artificial light that I have) kind of makes the video look a bit worse than usual… but it’s certainly better than other nighttime videos that I’ve shot in the past.

Hopefully I don’t sound too stuffy. The congestion is slowly easing, and I’ll hopefully sound more “normal” in a couple of more days.

If you watched the video, you saw that I decided to open some of my sealed games. I was originally going to do this as its own video, with more in-depth memories/thoughts of each, but I just couldn’t help myself while shooting tonight. I do have some that I didn’t unseal yet, and those will be in a later video talking about why I’m crazy enough to open this stuff. I will say that it was pretty awesome having a moment of opening something new from 1993; the face that I have it on video is pretty special.

As I mentioned in the video, Retro Unscripted Episode 31 will be shot in the next few days, either on Monday or Tuesday (1/12-13). I’m going to take tomorrow to rest up and try to let this illness keep moving is way out of me. I’m also going to shoot one more video later this week, which may be a review or may be the unsealing video I mentioned above. After that, well… college classes resume on January 21st, so my shooting schedule will depend on how much homework I have and how much energy that I have left. That will take some fine-tuning to nail down, but aiming for one video a week should be doable.

I hope you enjoyed the video. I know it went a little long (I’m working on it), but I really enjoy sharing these with all of you. Thanks for watching!

Because Nobody Asked: 10 Goals for 2015

January 2, 2015 2 comments

Happy 2015!

As the calendar rolls back to January from December, it means a clean slate for a lot of people– myself included. 2014 was a challenging year in a lot of respects for me, both personally and creatively, so I’m thrilled to start dating everything with the year 2015. I can look forward instead of dwelling on the past.

New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing. Honestly, I wind up making them and then either forgetting about them or slipping up on them within the first month of the year. Instead, I’m a fan of setting goals and seeing if I can make them happen. They’re goals, not promises. That means that, while I will work hard to achieve these goals, it’s not setting unrealistic expectations for anything.

So… without further delay, here are 10 goals that I’m working towards for 2015:

1. Add a Wii (and Wii games) to my library: As expected, Santa Claus didn’t deliver a WiiU this past Christmas. I honestly didn’t expect one, and I’m okay with this because I think I’d be happier with a Wii anyway. I’d like to find a used one with Gamecube compatibility and online connectivity, and consolidate space (much like I’ve been doing with my PlayStation 2, which plays MOST original PlayStation games). In addition, the Wii has a lot of cheap games, which makes building a decent and varied library a generally inexpensive thing. Sure, games like Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario Galaxy are still pricey… but light gun games (a personal favorite) and other titles are cheap enough to balance things out. (And cheap is important for a college student who isn’t working, like me.)

2. Expand my SEGA CD game library: So far, my SEGA CD library has all of seven games. I’d like to find some more this year. FMV titles like Revenge of the Ninja, Road Avenger, Time Gal, and Rebel Assault are high on the list; I’m one of those rare FMV game fans, and the SEGA CD has a nice selection of them. Silpheed and Lunar are also on the list of games to look for, though Lunar commands a healthy sum. I’m guessing that I’m going to have to go with Amazon to find a lot of these, but I still have hopes to find some in the wild locally.

3. Boost my original PlayStation game library past 200 titles: I’m close on this one already, within 15 games. Thankfully, PlayStation games (for the most part) are still quite affordable; the problem is more about finding discs that aren’t terribly damaged… or, more selfishly, that are complete. Christmas was good to me on the PlayStation game front, and with the 20th anniversary of the US release of the PlayStation coming in September, I’m really keying on adding games for this platform.

4. Catalog my games library: This is something that I really need to do, if only because I’ve made several duplicate purchases over the last few months and this can really be avoided. VGCollect.com has been fairly good to me in this regard, but adding games to the database that it doesn’t have can be a pain. I’m thinking– based on the advice of some friends in the retro community– of doing a Google document. I’m open to cataloging suggestions and/or templates, if any of you have ideas to share. My retro library is over 1,200 titles deep, so cataloging is a daunting task. Even if I can’t finish this project this year, making headway on it would be fantastic.

5. Decide what to do with my “orphan” NES manuals: When I worked at FuncoLand back in 1998-2000, I rescued a bunch of NES manuals that were slated to be thrown away (along with their boxes). There wasn’t enough room to store them, and the chain decided to get rid of everything but the NES carts themselves. Since I started building my NES library back in 2012, I’ve gradually tapped into this trove of manuals, and I’ve matched up what manuals I have with the games I’ve added. I’ve recently learned that at least some of my extra manuals may be worth some money, which I could certainly use. I want to decide pretty soon what to do with these manuals; should I sell them, or should I keep them with the hopes of matching up more games that I buy? Feel free to give input in the comments.

6. Manage my free time better: This is something that I’ve struggled with a lot in recent years, and it’s had a negative effect on me in many ways. It’s not that I don’t have free time when college isn’t in session, but rather that I feel spent after classes, homework, and so on. If I manage my free time effectively, I can do a lot of things– I can shoot videos, write blog entries, play games, and more. It’s become more challenging to do this because my energy tends to be low more often than not… but I really want to try and figure out ways to do more than just recover in bed when I’m not in class or doing homework. Hopefully, this goal is an achievable one.

7. Be more physically active: Going along with Goal 6 above, I am aiming to be more physically active in 2015. I’m not talking about running a marathon or anything… but I am talking about getting more walking in. The hope is, by getting more physical activity into my daily routine, that I’ll be more energized and less… BLAH. It’s kind of tough to do this during the winter months (as walking in sub-freezing wind chills is not something I want to do), but once the spring and summer arrive, I really want to develop a regular routine.

8. Continue with college success: I recently changed my major in college from Information Technology to Elementary Education. That means that I’m kind of starting over, academically, and I need to accelerate my progress to make up for what are now non-degree courses over the last few semesters. So, starting with this semester, I’m assuming a full-time course load of four classes. I don’t yet know how I’ll fare, but my goal continues to be maintaining my 4.0 GPA. Is it necessary to stay perfect? No, but it’s a competition with myself that drives excellence… and not too many people pull off that kind of achievement.

9. Resume and maintain my Retro Unscripted video project: I’ve already started working on achieving this goal, but the trick is consistency… and accepting some limitations. Sure, I can shoot a new video each week until I go back to school, but then I want to try to be as productive until the summer begins. Considering that I try to keep each video at around 10 minutes (and maybe they should be shorter, I guess), it isn’t really expecting too much to maintain the same output while classes are in session. Through some trial and error, I hope to settle on filming during one afternoon each week, until the heat builds and I have to take whichever days are cool enough temperature-wise to shoot on. I think this goal is very achievable, so I’m really going to work to try and make this happen.

10. Keep on writing: While Retro Unscripted is important to me, I want to find time to keep writing. I won’t set a timetable for updates here, but I can promise you that this won’t be my only Consoleation update this year. The thing is that I’m not sure what I’ll be writing about here. I write short, 500-character reviews as a user over at the Classic Game Room site, but are short reviews like those worth writing and sharing here? Maybe the content should be different, such as retrospectives (like I did for Super Castlevania IV a while back, which has been a popular post here). No matter what content I decide to share here, Consoleation will continue for its seventh year in 2015.

So… that’s my list of goals for 2015, in terms of games, my personal life, and my creativity. Again: I won’t promise that all (or even any) of these goals will be realized by the time we arrive at January 2nd, 2016, but these are all important things to me that I’ll be doing my best to work on this year.

To all of you, I wish you a Happy New Year– may this be the best year yet… for all of us!

One Final Post for 2014

December 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Another year has just about come and just about gone. With Christmas Day now upon us– and as I look forward to a holiday week spent with family and catching up on playing some games– I wanted to look back on the year that was.

2014 was definitely an up and down year for me. After rolling out my Retro Unscripted video series in January, “real life” circumstances kept popping up that forced me to put it on the shelf in June and almost completely abandon it soon after. It was frustrating, to be sure; I was proud of the project, but couldn’t find the time or energy to continue it. In fact, the last six months have really been a huge challenge for me and I’m grateful to have made it to the other side. The good news is that I’ve resurrected the series and have begun filming again, at least during my time off from classes over the next month.

Aside from Retro Unscripted, 2014 had other high points. My retro library has gradually been growing, thanks to the generosity of friends and family and getting a few dollars to spend at my favorite retro game store, Game Depot. My NES library is now up over 200 games, and my SNES and Genesis libraries are over 100 games each. In fact, my overall retro library topped 1,000 games in 2014. So… if you ever hear me say that I have nothing to play, you can slap me with a fish. (But you won’t hear me say it.)

Tony and Dave at Game Depot have been great to me all year, and I got Contra III: The Alien Wars, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Super Punch-Out!!, and many more games from them. Tony & Dave also gave me an NES to replace the one I got for my 40th birthday after it unexpectedly stopped working, which meant a lot to me as I was dealing with some medical problems that my pug was going through at the time. My cousin Sam also hooked me up with some great stuff this past year, including complete-in-box copies of Contra for the NES and Castlevania: Bloodlines for the Genesis. Thanks to all of them for being so kind this past year.

Also… this happened in 2014:

TurtlesInTime0816

Yup. $15 for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time.

Back in August, I spotted this at Game Xchange in Norwich, CT while on a trip to the Foxwoods Casino. Paying $15 for this game was one of the highlights of the year for me… and certainly was one of the best deals that I’ve ever scored since I started collecting older games and systems back in 2012. I was just playing it again recently, and it’s still just as enjoyable now as it was when I bought it new back in 1992. I still have the price sticker on the cartridge as a reminder of the deal.

I admit that I did have a WiiU as one of the items on my Christmas wish list this year. The NES Remix games really appealed to me, and Nintendo’s game releases have generally been top-notch. The fact that original Wii games are getting cheaper and cheaper means that I could go back and play some games that I missed out on a few years ago. I suppose that I could get an “old school” Wii (C’mon… it’s eight years old now!) to build that collection on, but my retro setup is getting crowded and I’d selfishly rather play the games in (albeit upscaled) HD on a big screen– as opposed to playing on my small GxTV.

Unsurprisingly, Santa Claus laughed raucously at the idea. Asking for a $300 item was, admittedly, a long shot… and kind of silly. Instead, Santa delivered Ultimate NES Remix for my 3DS last night, and it’s pretty awesome. What else did Santa bring? Take a look:

I guess I was a good kid this past year.

I guess I was a good kid this past year. (Ray Tracers, by the way, is NEW and SEALED!)

Before closing up this last post of 2014, I wanted to thank some of the many content creators who have inspired me, supported me, and entertained me during this past year:

  • James Rolfe and Mike Matei from Cinemassacre: You know James and his work as the Angry Video Game Nerd, but James & Mike have a weekly video of them just playing a video game and having fun. These videos are awesome.
  • Pat the NES Punk and Ian Ferguson, and their Completely Unnecessary Podcast: Being introduced to and watching Pat’s videos back in 2012 really sparked my interest in collecting, and it’s great to see Pat & Ian doing great work with their new podcast.
  • Billy, Jay, and the rest of the crew of The Game Chasers: I love this series. Call me a “chode” for being sentimental, but I look forward to every episode and the wacky adventures therein. Whenever I need a laugh, or when I want to gape at some cool gaming finds, I watch an episode of The Game Chasers.
  • Norm Caruso, The Gaming Historian: Norm is one of the smartest guys I know, and I always learn something from watching his videos. His material should be on TV. I’m not kidding.
  • Joe Walker from The Backlog: Seeing Joe getting more visible in the video creation community is a great thing. He works hard, has a genuine passion for gaming, and deserves any success he gets.
  • Matt “The LJN Defender” Ezero: Speaking of passion… just watch some of Matt’s work. He loves what he does, and it shows both on camera and off. He draws some of his inspiration from James Rolfe, and now others can draw inspiration from him.
  • Aaron Stapish, Ricky Avila, and the rest of the RetroLiberty team: The NES Pursuit videos that RetroLiberty creates give the viewer a sense of “being there” as they search flea markets and other places for games. Aaron & Ricky have a great chemistry, and their genuine nature and love of the retro community really shine.
  • Retroware: Before the fall semester stole so much of my energy and free time over the last three months, having the privilege to contribute to the site that was one of my biggest inspirations for getting into the retrogaming community was a HUGE deal. The Retroware family of content creators continues to deliver fantastic stuff, and one of my goals in 2015 is to get back to contributing there.

And, finally, a big thank you to all of you who have taken time to read my work, watch my videos, chat with me on social media, and more over this past year. While I draw some inspiration from other content creators, my motivation is driven by you. Why bother to write or get in front of the camera if nobody wants to read or watch what I take the time to put together? It’s because of you– and the support that you’ve given me– that I work to make time for more creativity.

To all of you, your families, loved ones, and friends: I wish you all the happiest, safest, and most joyous of holiday seasons. As 2014 comes to an end, 2015 marks a new beginning. May it be one of the best years ever for all of us.

See you next year!

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