Game Industry Quest, Part 20

So I think I’m technically three posts behind on my one-post-a-week New Year’s resolution.  D’OH!  To be fair, I’ve been dealing with a bit of writer’s block, not that I fancy myself a writer, nor a particularly good one, but I like to think that I write competently, and lately that particular competence has been low enough where I write something, then proceed to delete what I wrote, as I was failing in what I was trying to communicate, in my opinion at any rate.

The topic in question that I’ve been trying to write about concerns Kickstarter.  I’ve backed quite a number of Kickstarter projects this past year; concerning I’m only a part-time Assistant Producer in the game industry, the financial wisdom of such behavior is questionable, but c’est la vie.  That’s not what I wanted to say about the crowdfunding website.  I mentioned a long time ago that there was something about Kickstarter that made me uneasy, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  I have found myself examining those fears in a recent Kickstarter involving sending a kid to a programming camp.  I’m going to refrain from saying more, as I’ve been unable to compose a blog representative of my actual thoughts and feelings.  Basically, I’ll save it for another time.

So I thought I’d basically give a shout out to a game that surprisingly caught my imagination.  During the Christmas holidays, I got a Playstation Vita (heavily discounted over Black Friday).  However, thought it’s a pretty cool device, with surprisingly better battery life than the Nintendo 3DS, it has seen sporadic use game-wise, including demos and what not. Excluding watching videos during my flights to and from GDC this year, a part of me wondered if the Vita would eventually suffer the fate of my PSP, which has more or less sat in a desk drawer unused and unloved for years on end.

However, since this past weekend I have played it everyday.

I downloaded a demo for the game Soul Sacrifice, and it has honestly captured my imagination.  Unexpected but true, from the presentation to the haunting music to the visuals to the gameplay, not only have I played the demo everyday since downloaded, I preordered the game at Amazon.  For my money, it is honestly that good.

Since the demo is out, I don’t really consider anything I say spoilery, though one could make a reasonable counterargument, so I’ll just say it: spoilers for the remainder of this paragraph.  You play a caged prisoner who finds a talking, magic book in said cell.  The book was written by a (presumably) long-dead sorcerer and you can live out said sorcerer’s memories.  Much of his/her memories involve monster-slaying and consistently presented with the dilemma of, after defeating a monster, saving or sacrifice that creatures soul.  Thus far, all monsters were at one time humans, birds, cats, rats, etc.  When defeated, if you save their soul, they return back to normal and your life force/defense increases.  If you sacrifice their soul, they die, and your magical power increases.  There was one forced choice (you had to sacrifice someone to proceed with the game), but for the most part, the choice is yours to make.  The gameplay is varied and fun, as you accumulate spells re-living the sorcerer’s memories, and you eventually start experimenting with and adapt your play style as the game progresses.  I must admit to really looking forward to the full release next Tuesday.

I’ll also throw in some sports and movie thoughts into this blog post, just because I can.  The third trailer of Man of Steel that came out last week honestly has me excited about the movie.  Being a lifelong comic book nerd, I’m really looking forward to what I hope will be a good-great Superman movie.  Unlike the last one (Superman Returns), which was merely…okay.  Not awful, but not particularly good. Also, I preordered the CD soundtrack for Man of Steel; I enjoyed it that much.

Switching to sports, specifically the NBA, it looks like my beloved Boston Celtics are on their way out the in the first round of the playoffs.  Already down 0-2 in their series against the New York Knicks, at this point I’m just hopeful that enough Celtic pride remains that we’ll win one game to prevent the always embarrassing sweep.  The loss of Rondo to injury midseason was bad enough, but in watching the two games, the offense has sputtered in the second half consistently, which leads me to believe that unless Jeff Green consciously decides to take over, there is no hope.  Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will end up being an all-time Celtic greats and Hall-of-Famers but Father Time is unstoppable, and they both look unreliable in generating consistent offence.  We might see one Paul Pierce offensive explosion one of these games, but while my heart roots for the Celtics, my mind says the Knicks will win this series.  I personally blame the Sports Guy Bill Simmons, whom I’m a fan of (check out Grantland for more), for talking up the Celtics before the season began.  I was skeptical of a number of things about the team, yet Simmons predicted 60 wins for this team, where I was thinking more around 45, 50 tops (they ended up winning 41).  He talked things up to a point, that I was totally on his bandwagon.  Then the season began, and things never really fully clicked the way they should.

C’est la vie.

I should rename my blog C’est la vie…wonder if I can do that…

Advertisements

Game Producer Quest, Part 14

Sony finally made their official Playstation 4 reveal yesterday, which means I can stop calling the formerly-rumored-but-now-official console Orbis.  A couple of posts ago, I thought it’d be fun to make some predictions.  Time to see how I fared, which I’m guessing was rather poorly.

I predicted the following incorrectly:

  • That the PS4 would be officially revealed in full at E3 2013.  Obviously, Sony did their reveal this past Wednesday, so zero points for me here.
  • That the PS4 would be released in Fall of 2014.  Wrong again, as it’s releasing  in the Fall of this year.  Zero points scored.   This surprised me a bit, as I look at the Nintendo Wii U availability.  This isn’t like the original Wii, where it was difficult to find one online or in stores for two plus years.  Right now, I can go to Amazon or Gamestop or Best Buy and buy one.  What this says to me is that consumers are not clamoring for a next-generation console.  Given the state of the economy and unemployment rate, it makes perfect sense in my brain.  Sony (and Microsoft by extension, though the latter has revealed nothing official) could push their next-gen console release with likely little to no loss of potential sales, and do a slow build in terms of interest and hype.  To me, that’s the smartest play one could make.  I should mention though that I am unsure of the gaming scene in Japan or the rest of the world compared to North America.  Perhaps in the East, or other parts of the world, the public is clamoring for a new console?  That’s something else to keep in mind.
  • That the PS4 would be fully backwards compatible.  I had to hunt for this one, and finally found some information on Kotaku.  Apparently, the system will not be backwards compatible, but instead be able to play older games by streaming them from the cloud.  There have been zero details given about playing previously owned games.  Again, zero points for me.  Held scoreless by my own stupidity…D’OH!  On a serious note, the cloud streaming of games is both intriguing and scary.  As a business entity, I have very little doubt in my mind that Sony would love for their consumers to re-buy their old games (i.e. buy it twice).  But this type of behavior does very little to build consumer confidence and loyalty in my opinion.  In one of the Kotaku comments, someone posted  his idea of inserting your old game disk (let’s say Uncharted), where it’ll read and verify, then stream from the cloud.  Basically a disk check system.  It’s an interesting proposition if true, but there are other concerns.  Not everyone has lightning fast internet, and we’re talking many-gigabyte-sized games here.  Furthermore, there are such things as monthly data caps, depending on where you live; I personally am lucky to have never experienced such, but there are people that have very little choice but to live with data caps.  Forcing these users to use up precious data on streaming games can be a potentially bad situation for many.  Perhaps the PS4 is partly funded by Comcast?

The pricing of the PS4 wasn’t revealed, so I can’t comment on that particular prediction, yet.  Still I’m 0 for 3 on the Playstation side of things.  I am tempted to add some new predictions and change some of my old ones.  Oh heck, here’s a changed prediction:

  • Microsoft’s new Xbox will be released in the Fall of this year.  I previously said (along with the PS4) it would be released Fall of 2014, but now that Sony announced their intentions, I think Microsoft will follow suit.  I’ll stick with them announcing at E3 though, and give myself a half point if I end up being correct, however unlikely.

I did find it funny that Soy dedicated a press conference to revealing the console, without showing the actual console.  Apparently, the appearance hasn’t even been finalized yet, which I think can be a cause for concern about making their Fall release date.

In the end, until I know more about pricing, I’ll refrain from deciding on whether to be an early adopter or not.  However, even if the price point is super-friendly, and the exclusive launch game line-up looks amazing, I’m inclined to believe that I won’t be an early adopter, simply because my Playstation 3 is still serving me well, and I’m simply not interested in streaming a game like Grand Theft Auto 5 on my currently semi-slow home network when I can pop in a disk into my PS3 or XBox 360.  Unless GTA5 is coming out on PS3 and PS4, in which case…I’d predict it’ll be better on PS3. But I digress, and besides saving money is a smart play for me to make nowadays.

Game Industry Quest, Part 01

One thing I love about the game industry is how everything flows.  Oftentimes, we (including yours truly) tend to look at things as if they exist in a static bubble: unchanging and rigid.  Truthfully, the more I think about it, things and people change all the time, and yet for some reason this progression of sorts is not always taken into account.

But I digress…(I probably should have titled this blog that.)

For this introductory post, where I need to talk about 4 game-related topics, I’ll stick to some 2011 news that I would have commented on when the news was initially released.

1.) The Nintendo Wii U

The Nintendo Wii U

A gaming tablet thingie combines with some 360-ish looking console to form...the Wii U! Form blazing sword!

My initial thoughts are how comfortable it will be to play with the Wii U’s tablet interface.  I see the analog sticks…the picture doesn’t show it, but there are triggers so traditional console controls for shooters can be played.  Furthermore, being comparable in power level to XBox 360 and PS3, it opens the door to multi-platform development, though I wonder if Nintendo will have requirements to have touchpad functionality.  For example, could Activision publish essentially the same Call of Duty game on all three consoles and not be required to have the game “take advantage” of the tablet interface?  As an aside, I know Batman: Arkham City will be coming out on the Wii U, and I assume the experience will basically be similar to XBox 360 / PS3, but again will there be exclusive Wii U controller functionality?  I can understand if Nintendo will have that requirement in place for third parties, but considering the lack of third party support on the Wii, I can’t help but think that it would be in Nintendo’s best interest to encourage and support third parties by not making it a requirement to support the Wii U’s controller functionality (like “Must use touch screen,” for example.)  If a multi-platform release doesn’t necessarily call for touch screen use, why must it be used?  To have it tacked on rather than be part of the project’s scope seems…unwise.  Then again, I’ve been wrong before…actually often as of late, but I digress.

Another couple of other thoughts that flow through my head is how Nintendo will respond if and when Microsoft and Sony release their new consoles.  Despite the talk of the cloud, if I had to make a prediction based on the state of the economy and how quickly people are adopting new technologies (blu-ray, 3d, cloud computing, etc.) I suspect that Microsoft and Sony will be releasing a next generation Playstation and XBox.  The only question for myself is when?  Conversely, how will Nintendo respond to their rivals?  Ultimately, what is the hardware life cycle of the Wii U?  Is a Wii U 2 already on the horizon?

I also find the cost of the console curious.  How much will the Wii U cost?  With absolutely no insider knowledge, if I had to guess…$299.99-$349.99 is the price range I would put the Wii U, with the former being the exact price would estimate if asked for a more specific guess.

I got away from the ergonomics of the tablet, but just looking at it, I’m not completely convinced that it’d be comfortable to play with that particular tablet controller for long periods of time.  There’s a reason the XBox 360 and PS3 controllers are designed as they are.  The following statement is a vast oversimplification, and intended with zero malice, but an iPad with analog sticks and triggers does not a controller make.

2.) The PSP Vita

The Sony PSP Vita

It only took Sony six+ years to add that second analog "nub" I've desired since the release of the original PSP.

Two contextual details before I go into my thoughts on the PSP Vita. Firstly, I do not own a smart phone at the moment, and thus have not experienced playing games on a phone.  Secondly, I am an early adopter of the Nintendo 3DS, which has not been great, but pretty good as far as handheld gaming is concern.  But I digress…

The PSP Vita looks impressive and yet I won’t be an early adopter for the device.  One thing that concerns me about the device is the battery life.  The battery life of the Nintendo 3DS isn’t all that great.  In fact, I intend to dedicate a future post to an imprecise experiment I’ll be running in the future.

The PSP-1000, which I was an early adopter of, had rather poor battery life.  Somewhere around the realm of 90+ minutes, which I would honestly grade as poor for a mobile device.  Also, the PSP-1000, with a single analog “nub,” forced developers to remap their controls for the Playstation ports that plagued the early days for the system.

On a side note, whoever thought Playstation ports would help sell the system early on may not have entirely thought things through.

Anyways, the PSP-1000 sits in a desk in my parents home, collecting dust.  That’s not to say great games have not appeared on the system.  On the contrary, I submit that great games can be found on any system.  However, is it worth investing in a newer PSP to play these games, especially with the impending release of the PSP Vita?

There’s another point to consider that applies to both Nintendo and Sony; with the success of mobile gaming on smartphones, iPods (portable music players), and iPads (tablet PCs), how will this impact 3DS and Vita sales?  I’m sure there are many factors as to why the 3DS has not sold as well as Nintendo would have liked, and I’d like to think the success of their mobile counterparts is one of these factors.  When the Vita is released, how will it be impacted by this factor?

Also, it doesn’t help that Sony chose AT&T as their exclusive 3G partner for the Vita, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  However, I think the collective groan at Sony’s E3 press conference is telling to this point.

3.) Dragon Age II

Dragon Age II

Not as great as it's predecessor, but still worth playing in my opinion.

I have no aspirations to become a game reviewer / critic.  With that said, considering Dragon Age is a franchise I’ve come to love, it’s really no surprise that I have thoughts about their most recent game, as well as some phenomenon that impacts the franchise as a whole.  Also please keep in mind that these are ultimately personal opinions and observations; nothing more, nothing less.

I actually want to commend the Dragon Age 2 development team.  Considering the presumably short development cycle the game had, it’s actually impressive that the game was as good as it was when one keeps that in mind.  With that acknowledged, I’ll also say that in my opinion, combat was improved from Dragon Age: Origins.  It was more visceral, more engaging and yet managed to retain a strong tactical experience.  However, with that said, the removal of the isometric view camera from the PC version of the game was, in my opinion, a mistake.  I spent so much of Dragon Age: Origins playing from that viewpoint, and ultimately feel that the isometric view was tactically the most compelling.  You could more or less see the entire battlefield and tactically plan accordingly.  Considering the advantages it lent to the player, as well as the ad copy that was used months leading up to the release (off the top of my head: fight like a spartan, think like a general), again, its removal was…baffling.

However, despite the improved combat system, the actually seemingly endless battles became an exercise in monotony and frustration.  Why is that so, if the battle system is improved?  Simply put, care must be taken in planning your battle encounters.  People were quick to jump on the reused environments, but I’m more inclined to believe that’s just a single element of planning encounters and there are several other elements that should have been considered just as strongly.  To pull from tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, care must be taken in planning your encounters, as one could view an adventure as a series of encounters.  Simply putting a dozen dragons into a dungeon is lazy planning, and is at least in part what separates a good dungeon master from a great dungeon master.  There are many elements that must be considered, from enemy placement, how will second and third waves enter the fray, enemy AI, types of enemies, environments used, etc.  Ultimately, the encounters just felt, for lack of a better word, lazily planned.  Again, I would say time was a factor in the planning, or lack thereof, with regards to the many battle encounters.  To put things in context, every single battle in Dragon Age: Origins felt different to me, from the minor skirmishes, to the large boss battles.  Sometime around the second act, virtually every battle felt the same with a few notable exceptions.

A final constructive criticism I have refers to an advertisement leading up to Dragon Age II.  I need to preface that Bioware is not the only company guilty of what I’m about to describe.  A beautiful trailer played advertising the game, called Destiny, portraying a male Hawke in combat with the Qunari Arishok (the menacing, horned guy).  There were tons of cool things going on in the trailer, such as a mage seemingly having combat skills close to a warrior and ending with a powerful spell that looked vicious and satisfying.  The problem is that none of that cool stuff was present in game.  Case in point, while a well built mage is certainly capable of defeating the Arishok in single combat, one could certainly not engage the Arishok in melee combat and hold his/her own.  The Arishok would tear a mage apart under those circumstances.  The exaggerated combat skills were disappointing.  To top that all off, the spell that was cast at the end of the trailer is not in game.  Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make (and failing miserably) is to not include cool looking stuff in a trailer/cut scene that the player cannot do in game.  It more or less guarantees disappointment for the player.  I’m not saying to not make a beautiful, stylized trailer to advertise a product, but I’d recommend keeping any such media grounded in the reality of the what the game allows players to do and not do.

4.) Star Wars: The Old Republic

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I honestly cannot wait for this game to be released!

I’m not into MMO’s.  That’s not to say I’ve never been tempted.  In fact, since I’m more or less a comic book nerd with a love of superheroes, I’m shocked that I never got into DC Universe Online, much less Champions Online or City of Heroes.  I managed to exercise just enough willpower to stay away, as the paranoid side of me feared that I would become hopelessly addicted.

So what makes Star Wars: The Old Republic so special?  To be honest, I used to love Star Wars as much as anyone else, but it’s honestly been reduced to a high liking due to the prequel movies.  With that said, I’m taking a risk with Star Wars: The Old Republic, and it’s all due to my faith in Bioware to develop a great game.  I’m also thinking of performing a Let’s Play of my experience with the MMO.  I’d like to think it might make for amusing entertainment, as I completely mess everything up.

Extra Points

Due to the lateness of the post, relevant (I use the term objectively) game industry news seems to crop up.  Since I want to improve my blogging by minimizing being late to the party, it would be smart to mention some of the goings on this past week.

Extra Point 1: Steve Jobs Resigning as CEO of Apple.

Is this really game industry news?  Does Apple even view themselves as being in the game industry?  I personally would argue that this not only qualifies as gaming news, but that Apple is absolutely a part of the game industry.  I’ve already mentioned in this massive post that it’s reasonable to assume that their portable devices have taken some of Nintendo’s (and presumably Sony’s) mobile gaming market share. With regards to his successor and whether Apple can thrive without Jobs at the helm, I personally would take a wait and see approach.  I would be shocked if Apple falls far from their perch, but then again, before Jobs came and rejuvenated the company, Apple was not exactly setting the world on fire like they are now.

Incidentally, I’m hoping Tim Cook strongly considers releasing the iPotato.

I honestly know about as much about Steve Jobs as what is written, and thus it makes it hard to judge him except by how the press judges him.  With that said, he always struck me as an extremely intelligent, driven and creative individual.  He also struck me as a man who personally is not into gaming.  I honestly don’t know if the latter is true, but hopefully in his retirement he can perhaps be turned around on that point, and play a few games.  Who knows, perhaps playing games will improve his health.  A little fun never hurt anyone.

Extra Point 2: GameStop Pulling OnLive Coupons From PC Copies of Deux Ex: Human Revolution

Apparently, GameStop began to do what the title says.  Their reasoning is that Square Enix did not tell them about this coupon and they are not interested in helping their competition.  It’s hard to know where the communication breakdown occurred between GameStop and Square Enix without being privy to all the details, but for GameStop to open packages, remove a coupon, then sell the product as brand new is not the most ethical business practice I’ve ever heard, in my opinion.  At this point, my understanding is that they’ve stopped selling the product altogether, which is a move I much more approve.

With all that said, mistakes happen; we’re only human.  However, GameStop’s decisions regarding these mistakes are…mildly disturbing.  I’m no businessman, but I can’t see how difficult it would be to request Square Enix to humbly stop packaging these coupons with the game, and simply sell the stock that has made it to stores as is.  The idea that they don’t want to support a competitor to their own online game services is valid, but other stores that sell the exact same game with the exact same coupon can use that point to do the same.  So the question is, why aren’t Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, etc. opening Deus Ex: Human Revolution packages, removing coupons, and selling them as new?

Personally, if I could address GameStop’s “leadership”, I would ask them a simple question:

Optimus Prime, Leader of the Autobots

Only the greatest leader in the history of all fictional leaders!

What would Optimus Prime do?

In the Beginning…The Final Frontier

When Microsoft announced the original XBox, there was something about it that piqued my interest.  Enough interest where I pre-ordered it from Gamestop, though I was not fond of the bundles the video game retailer forced upon unsuspecting consumers.  It’s partly why nowadays I buy my games from Amazon (online) or Best Buy (brick-and-mortar) and avoid Gamestop altogether, though browsing the store is still an amusing diversion.

But I digress…

The Microsoft XBox

Almost as big as a VCR...does anyone even remember what a VCR is?

The XBox pictured shows the Controller S, which actually debuted later.  The original XBox shipped with these GIANT controllers lovingly referred to as the Duke.  Despite being too large for my average-sized hands, I did eventually get used to it, though Controller S ended up being a much better controller experience.

The debut of Halo on the original XBox was also a landmark event in that it successfully brought a first-person shooter (FPS) to a console with great control.  While I did play Doom and the lesser known Heretic on the PC growing up, I never felt comfortable with the mouse / keyboard control for FPS’s.  In contrast, console control for FPS’s feels much more comfortable and natural for me.  Go figure.

It’s tough to remember all the games I played on this system, simply because there were so many games to be played.  Halo goes without saying, but Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee (no, that’s not misspelled), The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, Shenmue 2, and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and eventually Halo 2 were great fun.  However, the landmark game for me was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  It was also the game that started my love affair with any game made by Bioware.  Their next game on the XBox, Jade Empire, should be played by all gamers at least once (in my very humble opinion).

Despite having tons of games I’d like to play, I actually have never owned a Sony Playstation 2.  Conspicuously absent from my game console collection.  Perhaps one day I’ll rectify that, as there are still games of that generation I’d like to play and Sony has long since taken out the backwards compatibility functionality out of the Playstation 3.

Making a brief detour into the handheld market, I must admit that I was an early adopter for both the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

The Nintendo DS

Fun times on the go!

The Sony PSP-1000

Gaming on the go...with questionable battery life...and a bunch of Playstation ports I wasn't interested in.

As implied by the captions, while the Nintendo DS saw plenty of gameplay by me, I can’t say the same for the Sony PSP.  In fact, this PSP-1000 sits in a desk in my parent’s home collecting dust.

But I digress…

There are quite a number of games that came out on the Nintendo DS that even to this day I still play.  Meteos will always be great fun on short trips, and games that used the touch screen in innovative fun ways include: Trauma Center: Under the Knife, Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.  To top that all off, I love the DS’s and DS Lite’s backward’s functionality with Gameboy Advance games (and am somewhat sad that the DSi and DSi XL removed that specific functionality).

Returning to consoles, I was also an early adopter for the XBox 360, once again pre-ordering a bundle from Gamestop.  I remember The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion was originally supposed to be a launch title, but was eventually pushed back.  Despite this I found there to be a slow, yet steady growth of great games to play, to the point where now it feels like the market is saturated with great games to play.  This has also lead to the slow, steady growth of a backlog of games that I own, and have not yet played.  In no particular order: Halo 3, Halo: Reach, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age 2…the list goes on and on.

The XBox 360

Despite being as loud as a lawnmower, the 360 is an awesome video game console.

Regarding the PS3, the initial price point it debuted at ($499.99 and $599.99) were simply too rich for my taste, and I waited until the price became competitive with Microsoft’s offerings before investing in the system.

The PS3

The PS3's exercise and diet regiment really worked!

I not only bought the system this past year, but also immediately upgraded the hard drive from 250GB to 500GB.  Fun times, and absolutely zero worries with installing games from blu-ray disks.  Right now, I’m making my way through the God of War Collection, along with God of War 3.  I’m also looking forward to playing the Uncharted and Infamous series as well, though at the moment they’re technically in my backlog.

I’ll end this video game console overview with my most recent purchase: the Nintendo 3DS.

The 3DS

Ooohhh...Shiny!

The 3D effect is pretty cool, and I’m hoping that more and more games will come out to take advantage of that feature.  I got Super Street Fighter IV and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow War early on, and am now reliving younger memories with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.  Right now, the game I’m most looking forward to at the moment is Star Fox 64 3D, to be released next month.  Not only was that game tremendous fun, but I can’t help but think that the 3D effect will work very well with its’ rail shooter gameplay.

My next post will be the final introductory post, mentioning the PC games I grew up with as well as the impact arcades had on my life.  So much for my plan to split the introductory posts into thirds.  Oh well, c’est la vie.

In the Beginning…Part 33 1/3

So here’s where I make a confession: after years of loyalty to the Sega brand, I became a double agent of sorts, with the acquisition of a Nintendo Gameboy.

The Nintendo Gameboy

Tetris FTW!

Super Mario World and Tetris were all I needed to make me happy, and despite the severe lack of color, I remember that not being a detriment to the fun the system provided.  And let’s not forget the portability aspect of the whole thing.  Four AA batteries provided sufficient power for hours of gaming.

Moving back into consoles though, one may think I got the Sega CD or Sega Saturn, but it was around this time that my family and I got a Nintendo 64 around Christmas time.

N64

Mario graduates side-scrolling school!

Super Mario 64 blew my mind at the time, in a good way of course.  The idea of moving a character in three dimensions was proven with this game.  And of course, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a classic, and one of my favorite action-adventure games ever, despite Navi’s constant nagging.

Moving forward, Sony’s entry into the video game industry with the Sony Playstation proved to be fortuitous for the hardware giant.  I got a Playstation fairly late in its’ life-cycle, somewhere around 1999/2000. At the time, people were ranting and raving about Final Fantasy 7, and I admittedly wanted to join the party.

Sony Playstation

Spinning CD's FTW!

Interestingly, my first game was actually Final Fantasy 8, which was released somewhere around the time I bought the console.  While the game itself was pretty fun, with impressive (at the time) cut scenes, I found myself spending more time with Vagrant Story, Spider-Man, and Front Mission 3.

At some point, I upgraded my Gameboy to a Gameboy Color, specifically the Pokemon Yellow bundle that was sold at the time, primarily because I heard it was a good game, though I’m admittedly not the biggest Pokemon fan.

Gameboy Color Pikachu Edition

Pika Pika! Piiikaaachuuu!

While Pokemon Yellow (I miss my Pikachu and Zubat) was a good game, I remember getting stuck at some point and never completing the game.  I also remember not being terribly fond of the color screen, as it was not backlit and thus made the colors look…dull for lack of a better word.

Moving back to the world of consoles, my brother and I got a Sega Dreamcast fairly early on in its life-cycle, still somewhat loyal to the brand (though not completely so).  Still, it really was a terrific console to have, with lots of fun games to play.

The Sega Dreamcast

Oh Dreamcast, how I miss thee!

Crazy Taxi, Grandia 2, and my personal favorite, Shenmue, took up most of my gaming time on this particular console.  With regards to Shenmue, a part of me is still hopeful that its’ story will be completed one day in some way, shape, or form.

Originally, I had planned for these introductory posts to be divided into thirds, but I think I forgot to take into account handheld systems, which is ballooning my posts more than I would have thought.  So I’ll push my entry into the modern era of consoles for next time, and perhaps save a fifth entry dedicated to PC gaming, as I grew up playing games on both consoles and PC.