What I Have Been Doing Lately?

It has been a while already since my latest blog post. So, I decided to write something here about some things I have been spending some time with. First of all it has been already some weeks since I bought the latest Paper Mario game for Nintendo Switch. The games title is Paper Mario – The Thousand Year Door. I have played it for about 20 hours.

I finished reading a book by Rick Rubin about creativity. I read the book in Finnish but the book is available also in English. I can definitely recommend this book for you to read. It was an easy and a quick read although it was over 400 pages long.

Another book, that is more closely related to gaming and that I have also been reading is John Romero’s Doom Guy. It is an interesting story of life of John Romero. I have read maybe 100 pages now. The book is interesting and it goes through the life of Romero. It brings to my mind another book that tells about creators of the FPS game Doom. This book is titled Masters of Doom.

I am also going to get into System Shock. I bought this game for Xbox Series X at the same time that I ordered Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door. I figured that I could play this game after I have completed the Paper Mario game. It can take a while. I checked online and discovered that it takes about 31 hours to complete. So, there is a lot of playing to do.

I kind of like how Nintendo Switch’s feels like to play right now. While it isn’t the most powerful gaming console on this generation of gaming devices it definitely has its edge. There are many nice games and these games are available only for Switch. The way that you can switch the Switch’s mode from playing it on a television screen to playing it as a handheld device feels just nice. There has been some conversation about the next Nintendo’s gaming console. It might not be as powerful as some other new consoles.  Nintendos Switch was released in 2017. I also have a Nintendo Switch Lite but I prefer playing with this regular Switch type of console.

I also have a Xbox Series S in my storage. It might be worth trading but I think I would only get maybe 150 euros for it if I would trade it. And I would have to spend that amount of money for buying some games. I have been a bit lazy with getting rid of old gaming hardware. Also I am a bit more careful about this because I have made some decisions on selling my old consoles that I have had to regret.

I have laid my eyes now also on PS5. I am looking at the digital version. It currently costs 400 euros. I just don’t have any more room for my setup. So, it seems that I am not going to buy this device. But I have to tell you that this was what I was first saying about Xbox Series S just some weeks before I actually bought it. The Series S was a bit cheaper. It cost back then around 310 euros.

Some Good Xbox 360 Games That Can Be Played on Xbox Series X

In this blog post I introduce to you some Xbox 360 games that can be played on a Xbox Series X. As you might have noticed there are plenty of used Xbox 360 games available. This might be a good time to buy some of these games. They don’t cost so much.

Now, every Xbox 360 game is not compatible with the latest Xbox which of course is at least at the moment Xbox Series X. There are many games available as a digital copy. They also don’t cost too much. So, if you prefer digital just go ahead and get maybe some of these five titles that I have in this featured image of this blog post.

I don’t like to buy games that I can’t play. That is why I have removed some Xboc 360 games that aren’t compatible with Xbox Series X from my gaming shelf. How do you know which games are supported? I use this list that is featured on Wikipedia. Just make a search with your favorite search engine with the words: “xbox 360 games compatible with xbox series x” or something similar and you will find the list. It holds currently 633 games out of every 2155 games that were ever released for Xbox 360.

So, when I am browsing a list of some game shops Xbox 360 titles available on-line I go and check every time I come across an interesting game. I check if the game is compatible or not. Since this list is ordered alphabetically it is very easy to check if the game is actually compatible.

These games don’t cost so much. Xbox 360 was released back in 2005 so these games are not the newest ones out there. They actually aren’t retro games also. They seem to be these very good games that are beginning to get old and might be forgotten somewhere in the near future. So, it must be important to just remember how good games they actually were. Who is there to stop you from playing them?

Another fact about these games is that they don’t take a whole lot of disk space. You can install a game and it takes only about 10 GB of space from your gaming console. There are hundreds of games like these available. So, what games should you choose?

Here in this picture I have five games that have been very popular. These aren’t hard to find. There are plenty of copies available that you can buy from a gaming shop that you like to buy games from. Here in this image I have Gears of War, Alan Wake, Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare, Red Dead Redemption and Bully – Scholarship Edition.

Now I can remember that I didn’t pay above 15 euros of any of these games. These are all popular and very good games. I encourage you to check the prices from your local game shop or maybe from some online game store. I once bought maybe ten or fifteen games as a bunch since there was a nice discount for original Xbox and Xbox 360 games. And you must remember also that some original Xbox games are also comaptible with Xbox Series X.

So, there you have it. This small set of games might just be what you could be palying next on your Xbox Series X or maybe also on Xbox Series S as a digital copy. These games are cheap. They are not remakes. They are not new games. They are just something that you might want to own in a near future.

A Word or Two About N-Gage

So, I read a book about N-Gage. It was a phone slash hanheld gaming console that was developed by famous and legendary Finnish phone company Nokia. The way that Nokia tried its hand in also gaming business just shows how huge the company was. It had the money and power to make it.

Finally N-Gage proved to be a flop. As it wasn’t a successful product it did open up many doors to Finnish gaming developer companies. N-Gage sold 3 million copies worldwide. If you consider that Sega Dreamcast sold 9 million copies and was a failuire for Sega you can get a picture of how the market was back then.

If we think about Nokia a bit we can figure that it was at its time a huge leader in personal phones markets. After all iPhone that was first released in 2007 took the crown from Nokia and a new generation of smart phones started to conquer the markets. Things changed quickly as Nokia depended on phones that had buttons while IPhone had a touch screen.

Smart phones took a step to this new direction. In 2014 Microsoft bought Nokias mobile phone business. For a while we had a smart phone that was called Nokia Lumia. Soon it was clear that Nokia couldn’t compete even when it had a partner like Microsoft. Rest seems to be a history and it tells us of the success of Android and iOS mobile devices.

The roots of Nokias phone games are actually very deep. I have some personal experience about this also. Back in 1990s I had a Nokia 5110 that had “matopeli” that can be translated to “worm game”. It was a casual game that you could start playing while waiting for the bus for example. With N-Gage Nokia was actually targeting some more serious gamers.

N-Gage was an ambitious attempt from Nokia to get seriously into gaming business. You can think how interesting it would have been. The markets were growing all the time. We saw at the same time how Microsoft entered the competition with its Xbox gaming console.

N-Gage had its critical flaws. When you wanted to change the game you had to turn off the device and remove the battery. Only after that you could change the game cartridge. The way you actually talked to N-Gage was a bit akward. You had to place the phone sideways on your ear. Also, the screen was placed just like in every phone model and it had more height than width which was a different approach compared to other gaming devices of time.

Nokia was trying its hand in a new field. This wasn’t cool with other big gaming companies. There were lots of memes moving around where people were mocking N-Gage. It was difficult to enter the field of video gaming. There were some negotiations with Nintendo about some co-operation but this never lead to anything. Sega seemed also interested in supporting Nokia. There were huge game titles like Tony Hawks Pro Skater that were introduced for N-Gage, also.

While N-Gage seems to be a flop it did affect the gaming industry at least locally in Finland. They had resources and money that they brought to the industry. I must mention here also the best selling N-Gage game: Pathway to Glory. It received good scores from reviews of different internationally known video game magazines.

N-Gage wasn’t a huge success. It does have a small group of supporters. I am not sure if this book that I read, “Fantastinen floppi”, is available in English. So, its a bit akward that I am writing about this book here in this blog that I write to in English. However I thought that it would be cool just to tell you all about the book.

NES Games That Are Still Relevant in 2024

You might not spend so much time with NES games as you do with modern games that directly aim to keep you focused for tens or even hundreds of hours. This has everything to do with quickly advancing technology. Designing games goes forward also when the developers learn more and more and more hobbyists are starting to get into the world or playing video games. In this blog post I go through some NES games that are, in my opinion, still relevant today.

There are practically hundreds of games in the whole gaming library of NES. If you don’t have a clue what gaming console I am referring to I can tell you that NES comes from words Nintendo Entertainment System. It is a retro console that was introduced to us, gamers, in 1983. I have picked up these five games that I own. These all are very good games and I can definitely recommend them.

I have a Retro Trio console that plays NES, SNES and Mega Drive games. I can also use an adapter to play Master System or even Game Boy games. These adapters I have bought for a cheap price. I think I paid just under 40 euros for the Master System adapter and maybe 35 euros for the game boy adapter. It is very nice to play Game Boy games this way. The screen is very clear and bright compared to the screen of Game Boy or Game Boy color. There are some other ways also that you can play Game Boy games but lets not get carried away too much.

You can of course take your chance and use any NES emulator to play NES games on your PC. If you are going with this option I definitely recommend to get a replica of the original NES controller that you can attach with a USB cable. This brings the certain sense of authenticity to your NES games. These physical copies can be a bit pricey. They can cost anything from I think 15 euros to even 100 euros. Some rare games are even more expensive. So, I totally understand if you go the emulator way at least when you are just starting to get into NES games. The USB controller I mentioned earlier has a price tag of maybe 20 euros. I have never got into troubles with the compatibility and you can probably get it to work easily even if you use Linux.

You can sense that for example Super Mario Bros, that was released in 1988, has this certain lightness in the whole gaming experience. I mean the fact that it uses only so little memory. You can talk about randomly accessed memory or even hard disk. As I think you have witnessed NES doesn’t have a hard disk at all. You can use saved games in some games since they have an extra battery that enables long term memory usage. With emulators you can of course go around this and use saved states that come with your favorite NES emulator. So, this is one more reason to use software emulators instead of old retro hardware.

Graphics are two dimensional in these games. Sound is of course pretty terrible. If you are deeply into “chip tune” musical genre you might even like it that way. I personally think it is some kind of miracle how they could program the music for these games with all these limitations. Same goes to the overall design of these games. There are over 600 NES games that were released. These five are the ones that I have managed to grab. I have a total of maybe ten or twelve NES games in my collection. I did buy these all already some years ago. I can definitely say that I enjoy these games even if they are old and even if the time keeps moving forward. I think Nintendo did  agret job!

What Made Tomb Raider So Appealling?

I wrote some time ago about Tomb Raider and how it’s 3D modeling made an impact to the whole industry. Now, we have seen Tomb Raider trilogy remake and I think it’s time to get back to this game once again. I actually got the remake collection and gave it some hours. The question here clearly seems to be that how and why was Tomb Raider so popular.

First of all I have to say that this game was a product of its era. 3d worlds were just beginning their story. The controls are clunky and not so good if we compare them to some more recent video games. There are many situations that you have to face when playing Tomb Raider today that just make the game seem a very old one.

The biggest problem seems to be how you control the main character Lara Croft. Jumping is hard and the camera is at times in a very bad angle. These 3D environments aren’t so impressive as they appeared to be back in 1990s. Tomb Raider was released in 1996. I have a copy for PC and PS1. The original game, that I happen to have in the form of the original CD, I think, can be updated so that the graphics will look even sharper.

What about the main character? Lara appears to be a female. This was still an exception back in 1996. Lara Croft was definitely one of the first female main characters. Of course these games are directed to these nerdy guys that are also into 3d and C++ programming. This was, back then, something for the real nerds.

You can feel the excitement as you play the original game. You get to interact with some very edgy and exciting environment. This can, of course, bring you many memories and make you feel the nostalgia. You start to think how could you yourself create a 3D game like this. And this game also gave programmers many ideas not to say anything about a mod that was available that made Lara seem to be totally naked in the game.

I really like Tomb Raider. Would I spend tens of hours playing it once again. Well, maybe not. Time has progressed heavily. Biggest flaw is the controlling of Lara. It just makes playing the game a pain. If you pick a good 3D game from an era of maybe even five years after 1996, say 2001, you can get something much more enjoyable. Why would you pick this one when there are many better games available.

How about the PS1 version that we have on this featured image right here? Well, it is the same game that was released for PC but with worse graphics. It is nice to handle Lara with Dual Shock controller. You can also pick a retro PC, one that has 486 processor, and play the game.

In conclusion, I don’t recommend going back to the world of Lara Croft. The game was something different. Take a note on the use of the word “was”. I know how inpiring this game was. Its impact was enormous. It broke the ice for something bigger and better. So, I suggest you get something some years newer for a new game that you would like to play.

Every Gaming System Is Unique

I have a gaming setup in my living room (or maybe “gaming room”) currently that has total of 8 gaming consoles. Some of these devices are old and some of them are more recent. I have a Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X that represent a more recent of a gaming system. I do have retro consoles also.

These are Sega Mega Drive Mini, PSOne and Retro Trio Plus. The last-mentioned is capable to support Mega Drive, NES and SNES games. I have also some adpaters that enable a gaming system like Master System or Game Boy to be played. I have also PS3 and a PS4 in my current setup. I almost forgot my Nintendo GameCube.

Here we are getting some kind of an idea of my gaming setup. The idea was to ponder on how every gaming system is unique. This comes in mind when you are thinking about game controllers. Every system has its own kind of a controlling device. NES has a very edgy controller while PSOne functions with a DualShock 2 controller that is originally a PS2 game pad. It is nice to have this kind of a compatibility between PS1 and PS2.

Some devices have backwards compatibility with games or some accessories. Nintendo Wii is a very special gaming console. It has this sort of a “magic wand” that you operate and control your games with. Wii is also backwards compatible with a legendary gaming system – GameCube. I liked the last-mentioned better and even went as far as replacing my Wii with GameCube in my setup of gaming consoles.

Some games can be expensive. While it seems to be a good idea to run some sort of an emulation gaming system there is one particular question that comes to mind: What controller should you use? There are two approaches to this matter. You can change your controller to support any gaming system or you can go with the latest and best controller for any gaming system that you are emulating.

You can think about a gaming system and consider how powerful it is. Every device cannot be as powerful as some newer device. If you want the most powerful system you should get yourself a PC. There are however many other matters that take count when you consider about which gaming system you prefer to play your favorite games with.

How is Switch able to compete with Series X and/or PS5? The gaming library can be one matter. Nintendo has games that feature characters like Super Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Kirby. Of course these games aren’t going to be released for these competing consoles. What Switch lacks in power it makes up in originality, design and content of its games.

Some factors that make game consoles unique have to do with their part in the history of video games. Technology is always improving. We are moving on all the time. We hear every day gaming people talk about what would be the newest console to appear in the markets. We have already heard about Switch 2 and PS6. What does the future hold for us gamers? We can only wait and see.

We have dealt with different gaming consoles. Some of these facts that make a system unique can be summarized are the design of the controller, library of games that are available, performance and raw power and backwards, or any other, compatibility between other gaming consoles.

I collect and play old and new games. It is a very tempting thought and I have already considered to just install an operating system like Lakka OS (or some other OS) to a device like Raspberry Pi 5 or maybe on an old desktop PC that I do have laying around in my home. In this way it would be possible to play many games from many devices. Physical copies can be pricy at times.

Game consoles are usually sold for cheap price. Companies like Sony manufactor these devices and sell them with a loss just to increase the console base world wide. Then they release games for the system. Games are where these companies get most of their profit from. This makes it a definitive fact that games do in a way make the gaming system to be also kind of unique. What do you think?

NBA 2K24 Is a Disappointment

I bought NBA 2K24 as it was in discount. I paid 22 euros for the Switch edition. I already knew that the Switch version has some limitations. So, the graphics could be better. There were also some other issues. I know that it also takes some time to develop your player so that it is comfortable to play with the character you have just created.

NBA 2K24 is the latest in the series of good quality basketball games. There is lots of expectations. I think this game is very much a disappointment. The main reason I am actually saying this is that it just doesn’t feel like a fun and enjoyable game to play. It pretty much offers the same as earlier games in this series. I really think that the developers of this game should have made a better game.

I really don’t know if the game offers something more in a long run. I mean that I spend a bit over five hours playing this. What I experienced was not satisfying. My player is awkward. He doesn’t know how to score. He takes some rebounds but that’s all he does well. How many hours of this miserable playing do I have to go through to really at some point enjoy this game?

So, my player is weird. His shot release is awful. He feels a bit clunky. The movement is slow. I don’t even want to talk about trying to make the freethrows not to mention three-point-shots. I know that you can enjoy and keep playing this game, or a quite similar one from the past, for several hundreds of hours. But…this isn’t a game that I am willing to play for such a long time.

So, I think I am going to quit playing this game. I think I paid too much for this one. I don’t know if there is going to be some sort of an update or not. I am very glad that I didn’t pay any more of this kind of junk.

I also got another game from discount with this same delivery. This game is Assassins Creed Mirage for Xbox Series X. I paid 25 euros for this game. I hope I find it more enjoyable than NBA 2K24. Assassins Creed Mirage has received better reviews than NBA 2K24. Somehow my hopes aren’t that high.

I have also some games that I haven’t had time to get into. I just have to find some more time for these. The games are Dead Space (Remake), Hogwarts Legacy and Sonic Frontiers. I also haven’t touched Alan Wake II yet. I am waiting also for the new System Shock. These games that I have mentioned here in this paragraph are all Xbox Series X games.

So, some games can be sort of a disappointment and this sadly is the case for NBA 2K24. Some of these big releases seem to fail at times. That is of course natural. I can imagine how much money is envolved. This surely is a disappointment financially also. We are looking forward for more gaming experiences. I hope we get to see some more good quality games this year and also int he near future. Stay tuned…

The Relationship of Technology and Games

In this blog post I am trying to answer the question: what is the relationship of technology and games? There are several successful game companies based here in Finland. How did they get to that position? We are going to have to go back to the beginnings of the history of home computers. Commodore 64 was the computer back in the 80s. That was the tool for many programmers.

Commodore 64 provided means so that you could program games and other applications. You could start with Basic and keep going to some graphics and music to turning the whole device to parts and figure out how it ultimately worked. This was something that many persons drawn into technology and games did. This computer opened a path for them into the depths of technology and games.

There was a sort of a scene that formed around capable programmers in Finland. It was called “demo skene” which is a Finnish term meaning “demo scene”. This know-how made among these young individuals was something that positively impacted in the rise of know-how also in a more professional way. Things were looking good as Nokia also needed persons that were able to program applications to cellphones. There were many game companies here. Some of them are still functioning. You might know companies like Remedy, Rovio and Supercell. These companies were driven by some of the people that started their progressing from the era of Commodore 64.

I was thinking about this subject and how would I approach it. Programming is one thing. If you are hoping to make a game you have to know also very much of the functioning of the graphical system and also how the computer uses long term and temporary memory and also how you react and with which device (keyboard or maybe controller) to actions of the player. How does the experience of a video game take its final form. There’s lots of things going on while the game is running. Part of it is purely technical. The technology forms the experience.

It is somewhat true that games give you a similar reaction as does any modern form of art. Technology enables you to use techniques like programming and 3D modeling along with the design of the whole aural experience. There are these skills and if you are capable of using them in a strong way you can be successful in creating digital art that can be called a game. The player can enjoy this game even without a deep knowledge of the technology that lies under the hood of the device that the game is running on. There is something very magical in all of this. Games can be enjoyed and even studied by anyone that feels even a slight interest in them.

This is one of my dreams that I have had for now maybe tens of years. This was the reason I chose to study programming. I dreamed that I would be able to create some kind of a game. It might not be as powerful as a game like EA WRC is but there is this motivation inside my mind that I still have. I would like to some day be able to create games. This is a powerful dream that drives me forward and motivates me. Sometimes you don’t learn so fast and sometimes you have to learn details instead of the most fundamental concepts.

So, my path to learning more about computers does continue. I am not so sure if I am ever going to be able to be a part of some unit that would create something very beautiful in the form of a computer or video game. I do hope that these thoughts of mine were inspiring this time. Basically, I got tired since I already had played EA WRC for many hours today and this topic formed this time this kind of an output that formed this blog post. I hope you enjoyed it and see you next time, soon!

The Role of Technology Has Changed

I really think that the role of technology has changed. I am talking about the last, maybe, thirty years. We can go back to the 1990s to see how things were back then. I am old enough to remember these matters today. All this time has passed. What has changed and how things were.

I had some experience already with a personal computer. During 90s I was first introduced to Sega Mega Drive and later to Sony PlayStation. I had a moment in my personal history in which, can you imagine, I didn’t really play video games. This was when I started high school in the beginning of 2000s. I got back to gaming again during the 2000s. So I do have a relevant personal history to write about this.

I can also clearly remember how things were with smart phones and how they started to conquer our free time. One important technology is internet. It has brought us connectivity and ability to play multiplayer games on-line. Also memory cards aren’t used anymore. The games evolved from lasting maybe three to five hours. Suddenly you couldn’t complete the game in a day. Games became longer and a possibility to save was becoming more and more important. This has everything to do with hard drives and the advancement that made more and more space available to use.

Video game consoles technology advanced very quickly. We can go from the beginning of the 1990s to 2000s and have a comparison. Mega Drive might have been the most popular gaming console along with NES and later SNES. Basically you couldn’t save a game. There were batteries included in the game cartridges that enabled this. Game had to be fit in a space of only some megabytes. This changed when CD drives came available. Also at some point disk drives became a norm in gaming consoles.

So, the technology advanced fast. We went from getting a benefit from technology to today when we are being somewhat even controlled by technology. Do you get what I am saying? The role of technology is what I wanted to talk about in the first place. How is it with this matter, today?

While I was growing up we didn’t have internet. We didn’t have smart phones. There was no GPS. If you wanted to search for information you probably went to a library or tried to find a book about the subject. Things have changed a lot.

When I was young there was this kind of positive thinking that was common that technology would improve our lives if we just kept studying it and building and developing it. So, many young people were introduced to mathematics, physics and computers. I was among those that were very interested in technolgy and wanted to study it and also have it as a hobby.

Technology has made huge leaps. We are today in a society that uses internet and smart phones to several functions. We handle paying and buying with these tools. We use them daily. How has this made our lives easier? It seems to me that today everyone can use a smart phone to perform any functionality that is needed. These huge technology companies have formed a business about us and our normal lives. This is basically how the role of technology has changed.

I could go on and on about these changes. This is still just a one blog post. I didn’t even go to how big data affects and has already affected on the situation. We are here right now. We understand where we are. Technology has become part of our lives. And everything can be changed tomorrow. Our choices are what matters. Companies like Facebook and Google have made the technology avaialble to us. How can we make it so that it gives even some benefit to our functioning?

Back Again to Play Some EA WRC

I have been recently playing some EA WRC (again). I first got into this game when it was first released in the end of last year. It is a very good rally and racing game. Last year also a new Forza Motorsport game was released. There was a sort of a competition going on with these two on which one would be the greatest racing game of the year 2023.

I am playing EA WRC with a game controller. This is the way I have been playing racing and rally games since I first stumbled on Gran Turismo and Colin McRae Rally 1 and 2.0 back in the dominant era of the first Sony PlayStation. I got a wheel and pedals for PS3 in the 2010s but I never truly played racing games with them. Although I did purchase a converter to adapt my PS3 wheel and pedals to PS4. I also got a stand for these. I never had a racing seat. That would have been expensive and I didn’t really get into this so much after all.

I did play recently some Dirt Rally 2.0. That game was released a bit earlier. It was released in 2019. I first got the game for PS4 but I have also it for PC and Xbox Series S/X as a digital copy. If you know anything about the history of Codemasters it is not needed to say that it basically was the rally game company of the 90s and even 2000s . It has brought us some very memorable classics.

There is however another good rally game series that has to be mentioned here. It is the WRC series. It has had the official license of WRC. It has brought us many very good rally games and especially in the recent, say, five or ten years. So there has been a healthy competition. Codemasters hasn’t earlier had the opportunity to make a rally game with a license but now it was the time for that since EA WRC was finally released last year.

We can have some sort of a comparison between Dirt Rally 2.0 and EA WRC. I think these both games have a similar price so this is a good way to think about which one should you get. Which one has the most value out of these two games? The price is actually about 30 euros. I can only tell you how it feels to play these with a controller. Graphics are awesome in both. Music in the background and defnitely while in menus is great also in both. What makes me go to the direction of EA WRC is how the controlling of the car feels.

I find myself constantly spinning or flipping my car around while I play Dirt Rally 2.0. The driving feels realistic and I don’t know if a wheel would actually make the steering more comfortable. So I think this is an issue  with playing with a controller. So, EA WRC feels better in this sense. Of course also in the last mentioned some cars like RWD and Group B feel also more difficult to handle.

I have put about 20 hours in these games solely on Xbox Series X. I am more familiar with the older game that is Dirt Rally 2.0. I would think that playing one game more would make it a bit easier in the end but I guess that the experience with game pad only makes the sense in this one. So my conclusion to the question at hand is that I would be rather playing EA WRC if I have to use a controller and not a wheel and pedals.

Okay. I hope that this post once again gave you something. I am trying to write to the blog more often. It has been a while since the latest post. It was nice to write you about my experiences with gaming lately. Have a nice day and I hope to see you again soon.

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