Could PS2 Classic be Possible?

You might remember the release of PlayStation Classic. It might have been a disappointment. At least that was what everyone thought like about it a year after its release. I am pointing to a fact that its price dropped from the original 120 euros to as low as 20 euros. That was the lowest price I ever saw it sold for. I bought it for 40 euros. There might be a debate about do you have the right to hack the device.

PlayStation Classic had 20 games with it. Those games were not the best ones and there’s not even a debate. These games could have been better. There could have been more games included. There could have been better game pads included. But even with its flaws the system ended up in my living room after all. It definitely was worth of its low price at least for me.

But would it be possible that there would be some day a gaming console called PS2 Classic? We can start to think about how many good games would there exist on the system. Or we can talk about the system requirements of this device. If one PS2 game takes about 4,7 GB of space, and if there were 20 games released with it, they would require a space of 94 GB. Maybe there should be at least about 120 GB of space on the hard drive.

We can also think about how powerful the system should be considering about processor and graphics processing. There is already an emulator that you can run on your PC called PCSX2. It doesn’t require so much from GPU and CPU of your PC. You can run it on a even an older computer today. A while ago this wasn’t possible. We should thank the progression of computer related technology for that.

If these technical issues were finally solved and there would be a system released we can come back to the first issue I mentioned. There would be a maximum number of games. What would the games be and would every game be available for it? This could be a limitation. There were many good games that were released for PS2. Would there be only like 10 games on the system? Would it be possible to hack the system? Would you have to do it to make it reasonable to even buy the thing? And finally – how much would the thing cost and would it be different than just running (illegally) your favorite PS2 emulator on your home PC? After all since the games are in DVD format you can play them, or rip them, directly simply putting the disc in the tray of your PC after getting your hands on the BIOS some way.

I have to mention that this text has barely scratched the surface of this matter. After all it’s not so much about what the fans or tech hobbyists think about. It is about if it’s reasonable to release a system like this. Is it profitable? And is it worth the effort? If you have some deeper hardware knowledge or experience in circuit design or electronics you might understand something more deeper in this matter. I am not a specialist and these are only some of my thoughts about this matter.

Introduction to Halo

Halo was first released for the original Xbox back in 2001. It was also some years later released for PC. First person shooter fans had already seen some games of this genre released for consoles. As you can easily figure FPS games were first designed to be played with a keyboard and a mouse. Nintendo 64 already had a game or two that can be categorized to be first person shooters. One of these games is Golden Eye 007.

So Halo brought a strong feel of FPS gaming to the Xbox. I think it worked really well and I have enjoyed this game for a long time. The game play is structured so that it is easier to play with a controller of that generation of gaming consoles. You had to move with left thumb stick while you had to aim with the right thumb stick. You could fire with the shoulder button on the right. This was, for me especially, a strong and a positive experience as I had played Half Life and Return to Castle Wolfenstein with a PC setup using keyboard and mouse.

I have to say that I didn’t play Halo until it was about 2006 or so. As I have told in some of my earlier posts on this blog I had some other things going on in 2001. So I got my original Xbox in 2006 and it was about four years ago, 2017, when I started moving towards original Xbox again as I got all my games back from my brother and bought the console again from flea market for a very low price. My Xbox broke just last year. After that I have utilized my Xbox 360’s backward compatibility and I gladly found out that Halo and Halo 2 also work with the 360.

This blog post is named “introduction” because I wanted to introduce the game because it has it’s own and original game play that is a bit different from the FPS’s of it’s time. Also I just some days ago started to play Halo 5. You can start from whatever Halo you have available. I know that there’s a package sold in online stores for Xbox and PC that contains Halo’s first  four games. This four game compilation is called Master Chief Collection. There’s also the next Halo game soon to be released. I think it it’s release date is in December this year.

I have completed Halo 3. I am not sure if I have completed other Halo games totally but I do have tens or even hundreds of hours of experience from this great game series. It is possible to play Halo with your friends. The original Xbox enables up to four players to play with a shared screen and from the first game it was also possible to play online. This brought the hardware and design and features of the first Xbox to their maximum. That was basically how the game was designed.

Halo is a first person shooter. You have health level. If your health level drops to zero you die. After that you start from the last save point. The health increases back to maximum level when you stop receiving hits from shooting enemies for a long enough time. So there are no health packs at all. You have many different weapons. You have a limited amount of ammo. Some weapons are from enemies that are aliens so they also have a limitation that makes your can like burn in your hands if you fire too many rounds. When this happens you have to wait a while as your player regains the ability to shoot again. You have to change weapons often. Different weapons have different abilities. Some weapons have less ammo than others and some weapons shoot faster and some are more accurate to shoot with or have a way to zoom to the target that you are trying to shoot.

This is the basics. The weapons are very uniquely designed. I think you cannot find similar weapons in any other game released before the first Halo. Maybe the first Half Life is the most close to Halo if you want to think about games that are similar to it. I was very disappointed in the Half Life’s release for PS2. In my opinion the controls were horrible. This was corrected in Half Life 2 when it was released for Xbox later.

Halo has a certain science fiction feel to it. It has been for a long time one of the most popular games. It has been exclusive for Xbox for a number of game console generations. There is no end in sight. I am a big fan of Halo games. The controls made it easy and fun to play FPS games with Xbox. It helped to bring game pads to be used more and more in gaming in general. After Halo was released for consoles many other same kind of games followed it. I could name some titles that I liked but that list would maybe be too long for here. I know many PS3 and Xbox 360 games and also games for PS4 that have taken influence from Halo. The image you see as the featured image is a screenshot I took with my Xbox Series S from Halo 5.

Xbox’s Answer to Gran Turismo

Xbox was released just a bit after PlayStation 2. The first PlayStation already had it’s racing game. That game was Gran Turismo. At the time it was the most realistic driving game ever released to any gaming console. As Xbox started to challenge PS2 they just had to have a good quality racing game for the system. This is where Forza Motorsport comes into play.

PS2 had Gran Turismo 3 and it later had the fourth game in this series also. I am familiar with many of these games but, actually, haven’t played all of them. You might already know that I am a big fan of racing games be it rally games or other. Actually back when I was playing PS3 only I played a lot of Need For Speed Shift 1 and 2. They differ a bit from Gran Turismo and it’s rival Forza Motorsport. But they also are street racing games and you also have circuits that you race on instead of real streets or muddy tracks (or something like that).

So I’m talking about how Forza Motorsport seems to feel compared to Gran Turismo. I have played this racing game only through twenty percentage or so in the career mode. I did play Gran Turismo through earlier and I have played just a bit Gran Turismo 3 and 4. I am playing with a Xbox 360 and this game was released in 2005 for original Xbox. Thanks to _Xbox 360’s backward compatibility it plays very well on it. All of the games of original Xbox aren’t compatible on the 360. But this game is.

You have several cars to pick up from. I think it’s supposed be like that you more like collect these vehicles. In Gran Turismo you had to really consider selling your cars to get money for updates. You can also tune your car. Every car feels a bit different. I don’t see a big difference on how the cars behave if we compare these games. Forza Motorsport does have this green-to-red display element that gives you an idea about at what speed you should approach the next corner. This wasn’t available in the first Gran Turismo. The driving seems to be very realistic.

You can definitely play this driving game with your game pad. I haven’t even tested it as my current driving wheel only supports PS3 and PS4. I think it plays just well. This game is taking a long time to complete. I am not very sure if it’s a good choice if you want to play a racing game as it is a bit old. You can see it from graphics and they are a bit dated. Music in this game is very generic compared to it’s competitors.

After all this is a good game. I originally bought it from flee market for three euros. It’s definitely worth that. It is a keen part of history of driving games. I didn’t mention this but the Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are not released on other consoles so Gran Turismo you can play with PS2 and Forza Motorsport you can play only with an Xbox. I took the picture featured here as I needed some graphics for this blog post. I have lots of games for Xbox 360 as you can see. To be honest I haven’t had time to play all of them. I do have Forza Motorsport 3 and I am definitely at some moment going to play that game. I am also looking for a good racing game for my Xbox Series S.

Biggest advancements in technology of personal computers

There have been some significant steps in the technology of personal computers. As we look to the past we can figure that first computers that were called as personal computers came to markets in late 70s or beginning of 80s. This was surely the first big step. Computers were finally affordable for home users. They were small enough to fit in an office. It was this time that Apple brought it’s products to the market also.

First computers didn’t have a mouse. This was also a big step forward. First mouses were clumsy. They had two buttons. I don’t remember or know exactly how an early 80s mouse worked but I can guarantee that they were nothing like the ones we use today. My first experiences with a computer’s mouse were with one that was connected with PS/2 and it had a ball inside it. Mouses have later progressed. They are today connected with USB and use infrared to make sense of where the cursor is moving on the screen.

When PC’s first came to be there were screens but they had poor graphics or only text. This matter developed a lot and has been developing for a long time. We went from displaying only text to our present Full HD or even 4K or even better than those screen resolutions. 3D animations also brought many big improvements to gamers and also to designers. Gamers can today also enjoy many different USB controllers like game pads or driving wheels or even something else.

The biggest changes that I have had an opportunity to witness took place in the 90s and 2000s. I am talking about the advancements in the speed of internet connections, the expansion of  hard drives space and the impact of CD-R drives. I am actually currently reading a book about Spotify. It describes how this change in technology impacted on many things like the music industry and how things changed and developed. There were more space to store your mp3 files. There were lots of piracy.

Today we are in a situation that movies, games and music are sold through internet more and more instead of people buying physical products like CDs or DVDs. This has been possible because we currently have fast internet connections almost worldwide. Things have progressed fast. I have also seen times when we used to watch VHS tapes.

The fast development of technology has made it a bit hard to keep up with the latest advancements. It is also a bit pricey. There is and always will be those people that are in the front when it comes to buying newest technology. There will also always exist people that want to also remember the past. So these people are going to keep those retro devices working so they can enjoy things as they once used to be.

The Ultimate Incompatibility (of Old Windows Games)

I have games. I mean, I have lots of games. Old games, new games, interesting games, rare games, big box games, err…PC games? Yes.  I have lots of PC games. How can you play old PC games? With a PC? Yes. But what is your operating system? What is your graphics card? Processor? Do you actually have today a SSD instead of HDD and does it really matter?

The point here is that you were, earlier, playing these games with a computer that had maybe Windows 98, Windows XP or MS-DOS. Now it is 2021. The standard in Windows is Windows 10. It was only while ago when Windows 7 lost its support from Microsoft. Hardware does evolve. Operating systems keep developing. There are many changes. PC is a strong standard but its weakness is that old games that you were able to play earlier don’t necessarily work anymore.

You can have an old PlayStation or NES. You can then play these games with this device. And the strength of consoles compared to PC is just that. They can deliver games and playing them is reliable. This might have something to do with the traditional mentality of computer gamers. It used to be a good thing that your PC was fast. So basically we are having games as physical copies lying around in corners. I have made tens or maybe even hundreds of purchases from flee markets. Many times the game finally ended up not working on my Windows 10.

One solution for this is setting up an old computer that is running some old operating system. I haven’t tried this trick. Some games are so popular that there are fan-made patches that enable you to play the game. If your game is compatible with DOS you can always download DOSBox. You can also try to run your games on some virtual machine that has the right operating system. Steam is full of old games that are available for purchase. They work. That’s what you pay for.

So operating systems change. So does the hardware. So drivers play a big role in this game of games. We are forced to update our devices. You have to buy a new phone in say two to three years. Computers might last a bit longer but you can’t play latest games with a pc that is five years old. At least if you don’t update it anyhow. This problem is also visible on PlayStation and even Xbox. Basically the problem is that some old games are just so good that some gamers still want to play them.

Why aren’t there better emulators for old PC games? And this applies most to Windows 98 and XP era. There would even be some commercially interesting ideas about this subject. Would you pay for a retro console or software that you could play your old retro style games?

My Story

Oh. Where do I begin. I was born in 1984. Two years later my little brother was born. As any parent my parents noticed how clever I was. Or so they thought about it. They thought I was special. We lived in Helsinki for the first four years of my life. We moved to Vantaa in 1988 as my father got a job in high-tech electronics factory. He ended up having a thirty-year career in that company. Later I got to solder some components together but that’s another story.

So it was about 1987 when my father bought our family our first personal computer. I was very interested in it. I started to figure out some characters from the keyboard and I even wrote something with a keyboard before I learned to read. Our family didn’t teach me or my brother to read until we went to school and we learned to read and write actually there.

I was about nine years old when I got my Sega Mega Drive. I really liked Sonic The Hedgehog, Streets of Rage II and NHL 94. I had already played some Sierras games, some casual games, like Space Commander and many others. Space Quest, Larry, King’s Quest, Indiana Jones, Operation Wolf, Bubble Bobble, Sim City and so on.

This was only an introduction to the world I said Hello to as I got a PlayStation. Playing Mega Drive was fun. But the cartridges didn’t bring so much content. You can think about it. A Mega Drive game is about 1 MB. There is about 650 MB on a CD-ROM. So you can figure out how the games would be more longer and they also had more to offer as more and more people and even adults became aware of this situation.

PlayStation really sparked things for me. I played. I enjoyed. Other things in my life were playing basketball and going to junior high as I was studying here in Finland. I really enjoyed life. I even got myself a skateboard and actually also a snowboard. We hang around in Helsinki or Vantaa at parks and had really fun time. It was a fun period in my life.

I played so many games. I had about forty titles and I was eager to loan any games that my friends had. I didn’t get to modding then. I played Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Gran Turismo, Oddworld, Colin McRae Rally, Medievil, Fear Effect, Final Fantasy, Silent Hill and Diablo.

I finally sold my PlayStation for so little money. I don’t recall the actual sum but it was about 120 euros. Damn. For all those 40 games, memory cards, two controllers, cables and everything else included. I would have liked to save them for me to use later. But I didn’t think about it then.

I went to Finnish Army in 2003. I had just graduated from high school and I had a place to study in a university. So things were looking up to me. I was not home playing games. I was shooting targets in the woods. So there were some years that I was, lets say, “lost in the woods” with my plans and my life. I believe this is not uncommon at all. I was then 20 years old.

Then in 2006 my mother found an original Xbox in sale. She bought it for me. The first game was Need For Speed Most Wanted. I was back in the game. Later I got to know my wife. She had a PS3. So I bought Final Fantasy XIII to it. I started really getting into gaming again. I started a school in programming. It was a school of applied university from which I graduated in 2016 at last.

So this brought me to my roots again. I started collecting retro in 2017 when I got a PS2 for me. Today I have a bit tens of devices and hundreds of games for them. I enjoy playing. It is my work, hobby and the thing I get most out of.

What is your story? I would like to hear something from you, my readers. Please leave a comment here or contact me some other way.

Studying Physics in Colin Mc Rae Rally 2.0

Colin Mc Rae Rally 2.0 is a very interesting game in many ways. I wrote recently about different strategies you can have in this game. Now I would like to return to the physics and how this part of the game is handled. I think this game was the first rally game and also among some first racing games that I really liked (Gran Turismo was also great) and got into. It was released for PC and PS1. I played both of them.

There is no doubt that the way CMR 2.0 handles the part of physical modeling was in its time revolutionary. I know lots about games but I also have studied a bit of physics. I have learned physics mainly through school and by studying it in a school of applied sciences. However I am not a physicist. I am more of a software designer. So I know about some coding stuff also. This might open this fact a bit of how I find thinking about these subjects extremely interesting.

I haven’t seen any source code from this game. This is a commercial game and its code isn’t open source. I think for many of the fans of this game this doesn’t come as a surprise. The game was hugely popular. Releasing it as a freeware would be, well, stupid, you might say. However there are some very interesting details that open up for me as I play this rally game.

Let’s think about friction. It deals with surfaces. In a car you can have different tires that behave differently on different surfaces of road. So this is one thing. While driving on icy or snowy road you might want to use chains with tires. While driving on tarmac you want to use soft tires. And on wet surface you use special tires that perform nice on for example wet tarmac. Same goes for muddy surfaces or roads that are of gravel. You have to have a good grip on the road you are driving and friction can give you this.

There is a force that is effective on any road that you can drive on the whole planet Earth. It is called gravity. You have to have good and sufficient suspension in your car. On roads that are bumpy you have to have more suspension for overcoming the differences of altitude. Too much suspension is not good either if you drive on flat road.

You can also break and accelerate. You turn the wheel in right direction at a right time. The key is to try to steer correctly or at least keep the car moving as fast as possible. If you don’t break at a correct time you get to grass or some other surface that slows you down. Crashing also slows you down. This has everything to do with a thing called momentum. If an object doesn’t receive any push to any direction it keeps moving with the speed it has to the direction it is moving. At different time there is different amount of push to the vehicle. If nothing gets pushed the car keeps moving. Bigger objects take more power to get moving and are slower to stop moving. So the more mass you have the slower you are.

I think this is enough physics. I repeat what I said earlier. This is not so precise of a study. I haven’t seen any source code and I didn’t describe my theory so thoroughly. I hope this motivates you to learn more about physics. You can find more information using your favorite search engine. I definitely feel that you will get more excited about this particular rally game.

Some Really Big Games Released By Finnish Companies

You might not know that I am from Finland. As a person from this northern land that has only about 5,5 million people living in it I am very proud of our game companies and our game development scene. We have here a strong ground for developing games. People that live here are always interested in latest technology and computers are a hobby for lots of people. Do you know Nokia? It’s from Finland also.

Back in the 1980s Commodore 64 computers were a very big thing in Finland. Many hobbyists were driven into electronics and programming by these Commodores devices. Some people learned programming with BASIC and some people that were really into this kind of stuff were learning how to program in assembly language. There was also people making demos, composing music and creating visual art with these computers.

Game development really lifted its head here in the 1990s. Remedy managed to make a great game called Death Rally. They later released more games. There were also companies like Housemarque and Bugbear, which developed some really nice racing games, like Rally Trophy and Flatout series. Housemarque released a game about snowboarding called Supreme Snowboarding. All these companies had their roots in Finnish demo scene called “demo skene” in our native language. Finnish game companies include also Rovio, Supercell and Redlynx and Frozenbyte.

The ability to adapt technical skills is the base of this kind of progress in game development in Finland. We are a small country after all. We have been the northern most country that is actually farming and it was like this for a long time. You can study game development and even electronic sports here. I hope this post didn’t include too much. It was supposed to be just a post about how gaming and culture has evolved here. And also to promote my home country a bit.

Let’s mention some famous games here that haven’t been already mentioned. Max Payne series, Flatout series, Rally Trophy, Alan Wake, Angry Birds and … I think this is enough. Check out the latest games from your favorite game store which might be Steam for example. And I am not going to forget to mention a game called Noita. It is also a game that has been developed in Finland.

Getting to Know Nintendo

I have played a lot of Sega Mega Drive, various PlayStation consoles, PC and even Xbox. I started thinking about what have I to this day missed. What would be something for me to get to know next? I figured I hadn’t played Nintendo so much and seriously. What were the titles I would like to get into and could I maybe purchase a new console. Could I learn something new about gaming?

I thought about this for some days. I had some plans about first getting some NES games. I figured also that I haven’t played any games in the Zelda series. It would be expensive to buy first or second game for NES. It was almost 50 euros and I would have only old retro game. It wouldn’t be a great experience.

I was thinking about this. I thought that I could buy Nintendo Switch. This would however cost over 300 euros and I would have to think about games and spend even more money to get them. I finally made my decision. I would get my hands on Nintendo Wii.

My Nintendo Wii came with one game that was Super Mario Galaxy. The price tag was 80 euros. Shipping didn’t cost anything since the purchase was expensive enough which was a nice deal for me. I was a bit surprised of the size of the console – it was definitely small and light.

I haven’t played any Wii games before. I have barely seen it. I knew the controls were very different if compared to PlayStation or Xbox. I had ordered a gamepad with my Wii. It was a bit of an surprise that I had to plug the gamepad to this other controller called “Wii Remote”. And I didn’t get the gamepad to work. What to do next? I started the device. I even had to go to the store to buy some batteries for this new and exciting thing I had just added to my gaming collections.

So it was soon getting late and I just had this thing called Wii in my hands. I knew also that I could play GameCube games with it. I had ordered also one game for GameCube. I found out that I would need at least an original GameCube controller and maybe even a memory card. So I had to order them also. I did that next morning.

Nintendo Wii is a very nice product. I connected it with my television through SCART. There was a HDMI adapter also available but I haven’t, at least yet, ordered one. That would surely make the display more detailed and sharp. I found out that playing a bit of Super Mario Galaxy introduces this system for a complete beginner. The controls aren’t so difficult once you get the hang of it. You have to be a bit careful not to slash your friend or drop a bottle of lemonade from your table while playing. But after all it works great. You are playing with both of your hands and not only with your thumbs and index fingers. You have several buttons and sometimes you have to shake your Wii Remote for Mario to spin fast around for couple of times.

I am going to play my Wii some more. I already have three games and one GameCube game. Those three are Zelda – The Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 4 and, the one I already mentioned, Super Mario Galaxy. The GameCube game I got is Resident Evil and it’s a remake of the original one that was released for PS1. If you want to get yourself a Wii just remember to check if it does run also GameCube games. Newer versions of the console don’t support this feature. And remember that you have to have yourself at least a controller of GameCube and preferably also a memory card. I might write a post or a few about Nintendo Wii games in the future so stay tuned.

Spending some time with Gran Turismo 4

As I may have mentioned earlier I kind of missed PlayStation 2. So it’s finally time for me to pick up Gran Turismo 4 and start getting in to playing it. The game was released in 2005. With over 700 cars and almost endless possibilities to race and tune your vehicle to it’s maximum performance it brings a huge game for the player to enjoy for a long time.

My history with Gran Turismo begins as I picked up the first game of the series. It was end of the 90s. Graphics were beginning to become more realistic. The capacity of CD-ROM brought more details and content to be used by game developers. Gran Turismo was also good for promoting PlayStation. It soon became clear that PlayStation would see some very nice driving games. The second Gran Turismo game was also released for PS1. The third one started the era of PS2s racing games.

There are lots of games that are dealing with driving a car or some another vehicle.
Gran Turismo made a difference. It delivered almost pure racing. Almost nothing else included. It had real cars and not only some but hundreds of cars that actually existed also in real life. It’s amazing to understand how the attributes of these cars tell you exactly how they behave while being handled on the road. These include mass, suspensions, tire selections, engines capability and so on. There are lots of things to mess with. You can modify the settings while testing the car. Upgrades to your car are essential. You have to win to get money for the upgrades.

I really enjoyed the first Gran Turismo. I hope my experiences with the fourth game of this series are enjoyable. I have to bring this fact up. The graphics aren’t too smooth or nice. It has been 15 years since the release. What could you expect? As the sixth game was released for PS3 there haven’t been a release of this series for a while now. Gran Turismo Sport did appear to the gaming stores but I think it was more of a eSports type of game.

We are expecting Gran Turismo 7 to be released for the newest PlayStation. I have to Google this one. And yes, the release is scheduled to quarter 1 / qurter 2 of 2021. As Gran Turismo 4 is even today a very enjoyable game with many interesting features you have to wonder a while what could there be inside the seventh Gran Turismo game.

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