Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2

Today I received package from a game shop. I bought Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for PS1 along with some other games. I decided to write a word or two about this game. I got also some great Mega Drive games and the first Rayman game for PlayStation.

This game is a great skateboarding game. I played the first THPS a lot back in the 90s. I remember getting to play its sequel with PC. I had of course a game pad I could hook to the computer I had back then. I played this game for hours. It’s amazing to think that it has been already twenty years or so.

So I went and bought this one. It was cheap. It cost me only seven euros. Graphics aren’t as good as they were in the version that was released for PC. It was originally released in 2000. I have a wack controller at the moment but I am planning on getting an original controller for my PSOne. Also my game pads cord is way too short. It’s barely two meters. I would prefer three meters.

Compared to this series’s first game the sequel brings a bit more challenge and variety to the game play. You can do manuals and add them to the run or combo of your tricks. Basically in this game you try to make different achievements that give you some cash that you can spend to get some more stats for your skater. There are of course some professional skateboarding legends for you to choose to play as. I for example went with Chad Muska. You can choose from thirteen skaters and there are also some characters, like Spiderman, for you to unlock.

One big part of every Tony Hawk Pro Skater game is the soundtrack. I think the second game has maybe the best one and definitely best out of three first games. I do like the original game’s music and of course the third Tony Hawks Pro Skater had an awesome soundtrack also. I can clearly imagine myself starting to skate as Xzibit”s Paparazzi starts playing in the background.

The game play is as fun as it always has been. It brings me back to this great era of just great games. So it brings me also nostalgic feelings. Really takes back in to my memories of the time that has passed oh so long ago already. I am very content on buying this game. I hope I have some free time to get into this some more. I only played it for a while today.

So it’s a work day for me tomorrow but then it’s weekend again. Time progresses so fast right now. And every year that passes is added to my experience as a game collector and player. I have been a bit lazy for some time in writing this blog. I hope you will get to read some more of my stories, ideas and everything that is related to my life inside gaming and of course the life itself. Thanks for reading.

Characteristics of Sega Mega Drive Games

I was playing Shinobi III – Return of the Ninja Master as I started to focus on how the game is actually developed. I am sometimes, maybe subconsciously, starting to think how the game that I am playing is programmed or how the graphics are put together. I am not a professional game developer but I still find thinking about this very interesting. I started to realize that there are some characteristics of games that are developed for Sega Mega Drive.

Mega Drive, or Genesis, was released in the late 80s. It aimed to be a serious competitor for Nintendo Entertainment System. It also made it’s best to bring the experience of arcade to consumers living rooms. At this point the hardware performance of game consoles was beginning to be a lot closer to the level of arcade game machines. It was clear that Sega wanted Mega Drive to be more powerful than NES. Sega made this message clear by printing the text “16-Bit” to the surface of Mega Drive game console.

What kinds of games there were back in the day? Are they still worth playing ? We can start from the visual perspective. As Mega Drive had power, it produced very nice graphics if they were compared to the graphics that NES provided. I think SNES has a bit better graphics if you compare them to Mega Drive’s. But SNES was released way later than Mega Drive. The graphics are of course two dimensional as 3D modeled games weren’t yet available.

Mega Drive games are said to be repetitive. I think this is somewhat true. Many times you have to play the same part of the game over and over again until you finally succeed and get to progress. Mega Drive games can be a bit more violent than Nintendo games. You can understand this by thinking about hockey games that have or do not have fights. If you also compare Mortal Kombat games released for these systems there are some clear differences. Sega’s version has more blood on it.

Let’s talk about the gamepad a bit. As you think about how the controller looks you realize that it definitely was designed to be an improvement of NES controller. I mean, just look at it! It’s completely round. NES controller is so edgy and simple compared to Sega’s. There are three buttons, a start button and an axis button – nothing else. This makes this controller simple and easy to use. Although in some games it would be nice to have some more buttons. There are of course some more advanced gamepads available and this is only the one that originally came with the console.

Mega Drive games are addictive. You can play it’s games for hours. That’s just about how long you can spend playing Mega Drive. I think PlayStation later made it possible and even preferable to play the same game for tens of hours and it’s sequel, PS2, took it even further to this direction. Playing Mega Drive can cause you some serious raging. I think this has to do with the repetitiveness. Mega Drive was in late 80s and early 90s very affordable if you compare it to for example PC. In those days you had to spend a fortune if you wanted to buy a personal computer.

Best Friend of an Old Game Cartridge

You might recognise this issue. You have a game cartridge and it seems it doesn’t work. It probably is from some console that’s older than your PlayStation. It might be even produced for Nintendo 64. The graphics are usually blurry or the game doesn’t load at all. Hold on. I have a perfect fix for you.

Let’s talk a bit about basic practical electronics. You might know a metal called copper. Do you know how it works in electronic devices and why it is used a lot? Let me try to explain this. I promise it won’t be boring. I am actually very interested in things like how copper works in these devices we use every day.

Copper conducts electricity very nicely. There are also some other metals, like gold and silver, that also conduct electricity very fluently but of course, they are so much more expensive that copper is better to be used. Copper also conducts nicely heat. There are also heat sinks made out of copper for this reason.

So the connectors in your game cartridge are made out of copper. This material has also a tendency to wear out a bit. There is also a phenomenom called oxidation. This happens when over a long period of time you have some copper, like in those connectors, that reacts with oxygen in air. This makes the connection of all of the interfaces to get weaker which produces these issues.

Do you need a electrician to get your physical copies of your games to work? No you don’t. I first encountered this issue when one of these Mega Drive game cartridges wasn’t working. It might not be easy to detect if the copper in the connectors is oxidised. I then purchased this small spray can that is called “PRF 6-68”. It was recommended for cleaning electronic connectors. It didn’t cost so much.

You have to be a bit careful when using this stuff for cleaning electrical connectors. It evaporates quickly. You just basically spray it to your target and then you have to have some kind of cloth, maybe a soft one, that you can try to rub the copper so that the oxidised part wears off. It’s not a good idea to breath in a lot of this stuff. So try to avoid this and also be careful with this. It’s not something you could let small kids to handle.

Using this spray to clean the connectors of a game cartridge has saved many of these retro games that I have bought and that first seemed not to work. Just remember to be careful. It doesn’t hurt for you get some deeper information about this product. And if you are interested in physics or chemistry behind this be free to search from your favorite search engine. I have given you some of my knowledge here but while this is not a science blog I am leaving this a bit open for you to find out.

Game & Watch – How Nintendo Got In to Video Game Business

I watched a video on YouTube about how Nintendo got the idea of producing original Game & Watch devices. I will link the video to the bottom of this blog post. That video inspired me to write this post.

You might not know what Nintendo Game & Watch device is. It reminds a calculator a bit. The idea was born when Gunpei Yokoi, the designer of Game & Watch, and later Game Boy, saw a man traveling in train. The man had a pocket calculator. He was looking very bored and seemed to tap randomly some numbers in his calculator.

Yokoi visioned that Game & Watch would be somewhat a tool to avoid boredom during for example long train trips. Nintendo needed some help to come up with a product like this. So, the design would rely strongly to the technology of pocket calculators. The device had a LCD screen. It was powered with batteries and it featured a D-Pad and some other buttons to control the game.

This was all accomplished in a world that wasn’t yet conquered by Nintendo Entertainment System. We had maybe some Atari 2600’s or something like that in our living rooms but the world and also Nintendo were very different from what it became in the 1980s later.

Game & Watch became very popular. There were several products released by Nintendo between years 1980 to 1991. Of course there was recently two Game & Watch consoles released. I got myself a Zelda one. The other Game & Watch had Super Mario games on it.

I can tell you a bit about my Zelda Game & Watch console. I think it cost about 70 euros. It came with Zelda games that were originally released for NES and Game Boy. It can be charged with a USB-C-cable and it has a good battery. You can see how the game can be controlled from the picture above this blog post.

And here is the link to the video that  got my inspiration for this blog post:

Selling Your Games

I have some experience of selling my video games. I thought PlayStation 1 was getting old and decided to sell it and all games I had. As you can imagine I am not satisfied of this move I made. I sold the console and games back in 2000 or 2001. Many game stores accept used games so you get a discount and some stores also even buy games and can pay you some money even if you aren’t buying anything.

How can you get an offer from your games that you would like to sell? Many game shops have instructions of how to achieve this. The shop is trying to get profit. You don’t get as much money out of your games as you would if you sell them directly to a collector or another gamer. It however doesn’t hurt to make a list of your games and in what condition they are in and send that list through email to the game shop.

When should you sell your game or games? That depends a lot about what kind of a gamer you are. Do you play or collect retro games? Do your games have a value for you? If you have a an old collection you have kept in a closet or in storage and you don’t display them there might be no reason for you to keep your games or consoles laying there unused and collecting dust.

You have to keep in mind that you might regret it if you sell all your old retro games. That’s what happened to me back in the days as I sold my PlayStation just like I told in the first paragraph of this blog post. It might be easier for a gamer to sell a recently published new game that you maybe have just completed than selling a game that you played as a young teen. We have this thing called nostalgia, right.

There has been a lot of discussion going on about digital games. You have to remember that physical copies of games are limited with the time they are usable and playable. Moving to emulators might be a good thing. There is just all this discussion and thinking involved when we are talking about piracy and what’s legal and what’s not. So we have to be a bit careful when the talk turns to piracy.

I am not going to link directly any specific game shops. If I would they would be in Finland any way. I can say that I know maybe four different places that accept used games. You can just email your question to the local game shop and have a word or two with them.

My Favorite Coffee Mug

I usually start my day with a cup of coffee. In our home we have many different coffee mugs. Some are generic. Some have some meaning to them. For example a mug that says “Boss” would be perfect for a person in that position. The mug in this blog posts featured image is Fallout themed one. It reminds me of some good times I had back in the days playing the first and second game of this role-playing-game series.

I have also a PlayStation coffee mug. It is fun to have these kinds of mugs that are themed after some of my favorite subjects. My wife rarely drinks coffee from these mugs. So it’s also a sign of whose cup it was or is. These mugs seem to be very common as almost every game store has them. I have picked these mugs actually from supermarket. I don’t know if there are any left anymore as they seem to be very popular.

A mug like this costs a little under 15 euros, maybe 13 euros, or something like that. For me these products represent a bit of nostalgia. They are themed with these retro games that I liked to play or actually the PlayStation one represents a system I remember I played way back. I can hardly believe it has been already over 20 years. That’s how time progresses. And games do too.

If you think about PS1 and then think about PS2 and even PS3 you can definitely get the idea of how much there has been a progression. Although some things that were very meaningful to me then are still some of the most influential things I’ve had in my life. Of course there are big things in life but I will always remember how it was when I was a young teenager.

I am not going to tell you where to find these mugs. Here in Finland they have been popular for some time already. You can probably check your favorite game shop. I almost bought also a DOOM themed coffee mug. There was some variation to these themes. So if you pick up one you can have one that suits your nostalgic feelings the best.

Grand Theft Auto

Do you find the mindset of Grand Theft Auto a bit weird? You go around driving a car and you accidentally drive over a person. Oops. The next thing that goes on is police starting to chase you. So what do you do? It wouldn’t be GTA if you wouldn’t shoot all the cops coming after you. Next thing you know is military coming after you. Maybe you end up driving a tank.

This is all a reality in Grand Theft Auto. But did you know that this game wasn’t at first meant to be as violent and somewhat absurd? That is the case. They were developing something and as they were working they got the idea of how the game actually could turn out to be. This of course was something that was never done before.

The first GTA game was released in 1997. At this time gangsta rap was dominating musical entertainment. Games like Fallout were released. This harsh realism seemed to be the trend. Hopes for better technology were rising. And there was also a hope for better tomorrow through using latest technology.

GTA series definitely wasn’t a one hit wonder. The sequel was released in the end of 1990s. What really pushed the gaming industry forward was the release of GTA III for PlayStation 2. It provided the player a full open world experience of violence and stealing cars in the midst of completing different kinds of missions for gangster bosses. At its time this was something revolutionary.

This wasn’t however the end for this game series. It wasn’t the end. It was only the beginning. There were more games released. The first of them was GTA IV. It was a deep experience in this dark criminal world. This was followed some years after as GTA V was released. There were several remakes done for the fifth game. Now we are hearing some talk that there would be a sixth game coming to stores soon.

Grand Theft Auto manages to bring different aspects of gaming together. It has an open world to explore. The driving in this game has an important role. It takes influences from shooters also. So this game brings you a solid experince for almost any gamer not depending on what kinds of games you like to play. It is a very diverse experience in overall.

I have enjoyed playing GTA. I remember seeing it the first time back in 1997 being played on a PC. It has remained at its spot as one of the most popular games though the history of playing games. And I am hoping to see the sixth game also soon.

What the Heck is MAME (and Why Should I Care)?

You might remember video games like they were in the 1980s or 1990s or even earlier. Games were mainly played in arcades. You had a device that looked like a large cabinet that had on one side a large screen and some controls like joystick and some buttons. You might have some other controls also, like a wheel and pedals or maybe a light gun that you could point to the screen. I mean, who doesn’t recognize a character like Pacman or a game as familiar to you as Pong. Do you know Asteroids? These all were first playable back in the days in arcades.

If you are a young person you probably haven’t been to a real arcade. This experience however left a permanent mark in my memories. It might have been the pizza restaurant that had a Pacman game in it. It might have been the supermarket that had Street Fighter II in it. It might have been one of those gas stations our family visited as we were driving to country side to meet the rest of the family. It definitely happened when I was in a realm actual arcade playing some Mortal Kombat with some friends. As a kid from the 80s I couldn’t have missed this.

Even if you have never been in an arcade you can still find some really nice games to play that were originally made to be played in an arcade. We actually have an open source application called MAME that is short from “Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator”. You can install it to a Linux or Windows PC. For you to play a game you also need a rom file. As you can expect I cannot post a link here to any rom file because of these legal issues. But you can look up some videos about MAME from YouTube or you can also search for games to see what kind of games it is possible to play on MAME.

There are problems if you really want to play games with an emulator like this. Capcom released some time ago a Home Arcade console that featured 16 games and some controls for two players. It can be connected to a display with HDMI. I am actually a bit reflective because there are so few commercial products available. And MAME could be a good personal project for someone looking to build something out of a basic PC with a custom made controller interface. Imagine if you had a gaming cabinet somewhere i n your hoime that you could play several of these games originally made for gaming arcades. That would be cool!

As time has progressed we have seen the rise of home gaming consoles taking the main role in our living rooms. We are getting more and more hardware that is meant to be placed in our apartments. If you are into emulators why not try also MAME. I am definitely going to get to this a bit more. I remember so many wonderful games from my past. It might be a good time to consider buying some more controllers that are capable of bringing the experience for you. Consider a joystick for fighting games, a racing wheel for driving or maybe even a light gun for shooting. Just remember this thing about light guns – they don’t work with modern displays so be careful not to mix these technical things.

You can definitely try to search for more content on this topic. I found good information from Google and also from YouTube. I think Bing or some other search engine can provide you also with some articles. I mentioned some titles in this post. There are so many games that you can play on MAME that  you have to go and see for yourself for the gems. So go ahead. Maybe you find something that you haven’t played before and that you really like.

Doom 64

Today was a day off since it’s Saturday. So in the morning I picked my Xbox Series S controller and figured that I would play a bit Doom 64. I have purchased this some time ago. I have played it and also advanced a bit. I am currently in level 21 out of 28 levels.

If you are interested in classic Doom this might be the best Doom version for you. It has this certain retro feel to it. So Doom 64 was first released for Nintendo 64 and that’s where the name comes from. This game has currently a price of 5 euros. So I encourage you to try this game. There really aren’t any ifs in this matter. I can recommend this for every type of a gamer.

The original Doom was released back in 1993 by Id Software. The graphics were mind blowing for its time. Playing the game can first seem a bit confined but you get the hang of things quickly. There are several different weapons in Doom. My favorite is shotgun but you can also shoot enemies with a rocket launcher, machine gun or plasma gun. You really cannot aim vertically and you can not jump. You can however in Doom 64 set running to automatic.

Shooting enemies is only one aspect of Doom 64. You have to solve some puzzles in somewhat complex levels. Sometimes you have to find a key card to open a door. In the end of the level you get some statistics about how many enemies you eliminated, how long it took to get through the level and how many secrets you found. The level of difficulty can be adjusted considerably.

I really like the Android app that Xbox provides. This featured screenshot was very easy to take and it was also easy to add it from to this blog post. So Microsoft has made things easy for me. Currently I have spent a bit over 9 hours playing this game.

There really isn’t so much in this topic. This is a great game. I think the quality-price ratio is very correct here. You also don’t have to take this game so seriously. I recommend if you think you are going to get this game to relax and explore it thoroughly. There are many thing different here compared to modern games which at times seem maybe a bit boring. This game was released in the days when we could witness a great progression in games we were playing. The era of 3D modeled games was only beginning back then.

Games That Brought Consoles to 2000s

I remember clearly my first steps that I took towards game consoles. My first device was Sega Mega Drive. I could keep playing for maybe two to three hours back then. Games were simpler than today. They were challenging but they were also very repetitive. Graphics weren’t anything amazing. Controlling your character with the game pad was simpler as there were less buttons to use than gamers today have.

I got to know PlayStation soon. I have gone over this already several times in this blog. It was about 1997 and I got my PS1. I got to play Gran Turismo. Racing seemed to be perfect genre for console players. I am talking about consoles here because there are clear differences between computer and console games especially in this time period. There was something great about games back in the 90s. It gave players a hint of where this field was heading.

I don’t see today anymore such a great difference between PC and console games. Back then we were excited about PlayStation. It was easy to plug in to the television. It had awesome new kind of game controllers that were never seen before. A bit later analog sticks made it possible to move even smoother inside the game’s three dimensional world. Consoles seemed to have conquered our living rooms while computers had their position in our home or work offices.

So PlayStation had ruled for a couple of years. It was clear that some day there would be even more powerful device in our living rooms. This was PlayStation 2. It had a capability to play DVD content. It had its flaws also. It didn’t have Ethernet or hard disk drive. But it had something we lack today and that was the extreme backwards compatibility of games and even memory cards and controllers. What were the games that pushed console gaming more and more towards the leap that was ahead?

I was a bit busy in my life this time. I was away from gaming for several years. Althought not completely but I made some choices that made an impact personally. I sold my PS1 and all my games and other accessories. I totally skipped PS2. I only got to know a bit about this era of gaming as I played some PC games and original Xbox games later. I was interested for a short period of time later about PS2. I have to say that I am not so interested in getting to it anymore. I enjoy newer games more and PS2 games don’t give me such a rush of nostalgia that PS1, NES and Sega Mega Drive are able to bring. But there were these great titles that I used to play. And now is a good time to get to them and to how they revolutionized console gaming.

If you think about it, it becomes more and more clearer. This was what would eventually happen. Games would become more and more popular and more and more acceptable as a hobby of an adult person. Think about titles like Resident Evil 2, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill. You can move in these games to any direction. There is a lot to discover and explore. They have a story in them. Graphics are as good as can be if you consider the systems that were running these games. This is finally what brought the need for new gaming device and that device was PS2.

Games were changing and improving in many sides. People were starting to take gaming a bit more seriously. It wasn’t anymore just a hobby for children. And I think this is what makes that era in gaming so important and special.

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