In the beginning, I was pretty loyal to Nintendo.  I bought the NES with my own money and was so proud of that.  I loved the NES.  Then came the Super Nintendo.  I bought that as well.  Then, as young adulthood set it, I didn’t play console games for a long time.  That is, until the XBox original came out.  I got it on launch day and fell in love.  Several years later, I got a XBox 360.  Then a XBox One.  Next month, I’m getting the XBox One X.

I have had little interest in the world of Sony’s Playstation, outside of the PSP, which I got many years after it had been retired.  I knew of the consoles, of course, and some of the exclusive games that weren’t quite enough to taunt me to get one.  I had a PS2 briefly because Guitar Hero wasn’t yet available on XBox, but sold it as soon as it was.

I have recently changed that.  On Prime Day in July, I bought a PS4 Uncharted 4 version for around $250.  It was a deal I couldn’t refuse.  I had been thinking about getting one due to a TV series that I had been watching (more on that in the next post) and pulled the trigger.  I think I had actually purchased my PS Vita (handheld) shortly before that for the same reason.

I have had both for some time now.  I am enjoying both.  There are enough differences between the XBone and PS4 that it stays interesting.  I have purchased a few console-specific titles for PS4 such as Infamous, Sword Art Online, Uncharted and Little Big Planet.  I have quite a collection of games building for the Vita (most weren’t harmed during the flood).

So, expect to see some posts in the near future regarding both of these consoles and the games I’m playing for them.  I’ve recently updated the “Now Playing…” page with the titles I’m currently working through.

By the way, I’ve heard the Nintendo Switch gently calling out to me recently…

Oldies but Goodies – Babble by Galoob

galoob-babble

This isn’t a video game, but it’s still an electronic game, so it’s going up here.  I had this game as a kid and my family and I had a blast with it.  What the heck is it?  It’s Babble by Galoob.  It was a really goofy game where one person took it into a different room, out of earshot, and said a word or phrase into it.  You then returned to the group, and it would play what you just said either backwards or at a super slow speed, depending upon the game you selected.

Someone would then press the “mimic” button and try to repeat what they heard.  It would then either play that at normal speed or front-wards and you would try to guess the phrase based on that.  It was really funny and very typical of a game that my family played back then.  This beauty was from 1988.  I have looked all over Ebay and the interwebs and I cannot find it.  If you happen to run across it, let me know where!

nintendo-switch

It’s finally been announced!  I am very intrigued by what I saw in Nintendo’s announcement about its upcoming product, the Nintendo Switch.  I actually like the name.  It’s so much better than Wii and Wii U.  I do like the detachable controllers from the sides, but they will require batteries (which I assume will be rechargeable with the tablet?).  They also look a bit small on their own, but it would make multiplayer on the go a lot more fun.

I like the tablet itself, although they didn’t show any touch-screen controls in the video, so I’m doubting whether it has it or not.  This is a big departure from what made their current handheld (DS and 3DS) so great.  The touch screen allowed developers to be very creative.  I’m concerned about the fate of the 3DS.  I hope that it will continue to be a handheld in its own right.

Similar to the DS, the Switch appears to use cartridges, of which I’m a fan.  Cartridges last a lot longer than CDs/DVDs.  I also feel that they are a lot more fun to collect.  I’m glad that Nintendo is finally going to have the power (Nvidia Tegra GPU) to look good on a large HDTV.  I still don’t think that it’s designed to quite compete with XBone and PS4, but I will certainly be picking one up in March.

You can find the announcement video here:  http://www.nintendo.com/switch.

One of the biggest problems I have with handheld consoles is hand cramps.  It seems that they are not designed for larger hands and long-term playing.  As a result, I have found a couple of comfort grips that have worked well for me.

I never required any kind of grip on the Nintendo DS or original 3DS.  Those were much smaller units and felt just fine in my hands without a grip.  However, with the 3DS XL, this changed.  The device is significantly larger, which is great for screen real estate, but it just wasn’t comfortable to play.  Fortunately, I discovered the Dreamgear comfort grip fairly quickly.  It’s a soft rubber that slips over your 3DS.  It’s actually two sleeves, one for the top and one for the bottom.  It also helps to absorb some shock if you drop it.  I also have one for my New Nintendo 3DS, which is necessary because the switches and buttons are moved around.  You have to take it out of the sleeve to change carts, however, which you didn’t need to do with the 3DS XL.

The PSP is terribly uncomfortable to play without a grip.  I recently got the Nyko PSP Charger Grip.  It’s hard plastic, so it’s not as cushy as the Dreamgear, but options for grips for the PSP are surprisingly limited.  I got this one because it’s got an extra battery pack in it, so you actually charge the grip, which charges your PSP.  It’s comfortable enough and extends play time in more than one way.

I found both of these on amazon.com.  If you’ve experienced discomfort while playing either the PSP or 3DS, those are what I recommend.

I spent a good chunk of time reorganizing my office.  Most of my collection is now in one area.  I still have my 360, XBox original and XBone games out in the living room because that’s where those consoles are.  I took a few pics.  I’m putting close-ups of each section on the gaming gallery page.  Here it is!

20160909_173958

It’s floor-to-ceiling video games!  And some work stuff, too.

 

hyperkin-smart-boy

So check this out!  A company called Hyperkin has developed an attachment for smart phones that will actually be able to play those old Gameboy original and color cartridges that you may have laying around.  This allows you to have a larger screen to play with and is just…cool!

I don’t have any of these cartridges and this isn’t enough to make me go buy them.  I have a lot of them on my GCW and that’s good enough for me.  It’s still an awesome idea, though!  Read the full article from The Nerdist below.

Gameboy Phone adapter

The New Nintendo 3DS XL

New 3DS

I should probably have posted a review of the original Nintendo 3DS XL first, but I don’t think it will matter much.  Here’s a bit of history:

Once upon a time, Nintendo, a Japanese company, invented a new way for gamers to play their games wherever they went.  This was the Nintendo Gameboy, and it made its way into many homes (though not mine) in America.  It was big, blocky, monochrome and not backlit, but it played Tetris dammit!  Next came the Gameboy Color, which introduced basic colors to the game.  Then came Gameboy Advance, which finally had a back-lit screen and new shoulder buttons.  Then they put that in a clam shell case and called it the Gameboy Advance SP.

That was the end of the Gameboy era.  They had some great games, but the best was yet to come for Nintendo’s handhelds.  The Nintendo DS was a revolutionary device with dual screens, one of which was a touch pad and worked with a stylus.  The developers really went creative with what it could do.  Next came the DSi, which added a camera and some other features.  Many, many awesome games came out for the original DS and DSi.

Then came the Nintendo 3DS.  This introduced 3D gaming without the need for glasses.  It was headache-inducing because you had to keep your head just right to keep the 3D correct.  Next was the 3DS XL, which had a much larger screen.  After that was a 2DS, which was the 3DS but without the 3D part and it wasn’t in a clam-shell case.

Finally, we come to the New Nintendo 3DS XL.  So what is so new and special about this over the 3DS XL?  More than meets the eye, actually.  First, they have drastically improved the 3D ability.  It now tracks your eye movement and adjusts the 3D as you move, which has decreased headaches significantly.  They also added a second set of shoulder buttons, a circle pad on the right and a nub on the right.  The nub is a lot like the red mouse nub on IBM Thinkpads.  I’ve only played one game that uses it, and it’s for camera control in game.  It also has a lot more oomph under the hood, which means it can play bigger and better games.  My biggest problem with this new model is they moved the cartridge spot to the bottom edge of the device.  I play with a rubber comfort grip, so I have to take that off to swap games.  Minor, really.

So is it worth it?  I think so.  There’s only one exclusive game out for it still – Xenoblade Chronicles, which is a very good game.  However, it plays all DS and 3DS games like a champ.  The 3D fixing alone has been worth it for me.  I would recommend it for the big fans of the Nintendo handhelds.

GCW Zero -The best handheld you’ve never heard of

GCW Zero

I was looking for a handheld that could play multiple emulators and I stumbled upon this little gem.  Sure, there are other handhelds that you can hack to play emulators – NVidia Shield, PSP, Dingoo A380E – but this one seemed like what I was looking for.  I was correct.

This device is the result of a Kickstarter campaign, which I did not contribute to, but would have.  I found mine on ThinkGeek.com, but it appears that they are very hard to find now.  A quick Google search showed a couple on Amazon and one on Ebay.  They are made by one guy at his home, so stock is very low.  I feel lucky to have gotten one.

The GCW Zero is an awesome emulation device.  However, it’s not for the novice.  It took me hours and hours to get it set up the way I want.  It runs on the Linux OS and it’s open source, so if you have experience there, you’ll be at home.  Fortunately, I already had a lot of ROMS, but I also found some online and now have just about every Atari, Commodore 64, Gameboy Advance, NES, SNES and Sega Genesis game ever made on this thing.  The games play really well and the graphics are authentic.  The screen feels a lot bigger than it looks.  The control buttons are responsive.

GCW Zero DKC

There is also a very active community (forums) that actively develop new emulators and are quick to answer any questions you have.  They also develop games specifically for the GCW Zero and are typically clones of better-known games.  If you don’t mind a little work (that was the fun part for me), see if you can find one.