This Is a Very Bad Game

I rarely write to this blog about bad games. You know. No one wants to spend time playing a game that you really don’t enjoy. So, I am writing you about NHL 20 for Xbox One. I have  Xbox Series X so I played this game on it. Let me break my thoughts down right here.

How did I came to buying this game in the first place? I found it from flea market for a cheap price. It was only 5 euros. I know what is told about sports games. They are usually the same game that was released last year only with updates to the teams and rosters. This is exactly what this game is like. I am not a deep fan of hockey games. I know NHL 94, 97 and I have played NHL 2008 on PS2 some years ago. I also have NHL 21 for PS4. I partly got it because it included a new remake of NHL 94.

I don’t know a lot about hockey. At least not as much as I know about basketball. I do watch world championships every year but that’s basically it. I have never played hockey seriously. I do live in a country (Finland) that is very good in ice hockey. We have some good players like Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Laine and Laine is also on the cover of this game as you can tell.

I played this game a lot since I hoped that I would really learn to play it and finally spend some good time with it. This didn’t actually never get into that point. I ended up disappointed. I played this game for a bit over 20 hours. I wish I had read some reviews before I started playing. I think this game is a total waste of time. First things I did when I started playing was setting the difficulty level. I started playing with the second easiest difficulty level. I noticed that then this game was too easy. So I upped the level once. This was too hard of a difficulty setting for me. I also changed the button to “NHL 94 style” settings so I wouldn’t have to try to learn this new technique of controlling your shot for example. I had played some NHL 2008, as I mentioned, so the default controlling style wasn’t completely new to me.

This just wasn’t worth my time and effort. As you might have figured out I also spent many days and even weeks playing this game. I don’t know if the newest NHL game is any better. I guess you will have to find out somehow. But this NHL game, NHL 20, is not really a good piece of a game. I could have played something that would have given me some inspiration. I also haven’t wrote anything in some weeks to this blog.

I am skipping the rest of this game. 20 hours for this is long enough. I read form How Long To Beat that it takes about 44 hours to complete this game. That’s unfortunately too long of a time for me, at least. I did play a bit with Mikko Rantanen’s team Colorado Avalanche. I decided to stop playing when I got some more balance to my electronic wallet and this was also the time that discounts started in Xbox Store. I got myself some other games for also a very cheap price.

So, I got games like Dirt Rally 2.0 and Alan Wake II. These both have received very good reviews and I have also good experiences about Dirt Rally games. Immediately, when I started to play Dirt Rally 2.0 again I just felt so good playing it. The game was just way better than what NHL 20 did offer for me. This was the last point to my decision of not going to spend any more time on NHL 20.

NHL 20 isn’t a complete trash but I think you have many older and better NHL games available at the moment. Just give NHL 94 or NHL 97 a try. They are, of course a bit of retro games but you will definitely spend your time better this way. NBA2K series’s games are also very good and they have been that way for years. I don’t have really any experience about latest FIFA games or NFL games. Maybe that’s it for this time. Have a nice new year and may the year 2024 be something for you my dear reader!

About Modern PC Controllers

This blog post deals with controllers for PC. I have used these three different gamepads for gaming on Windows 10. I don’t know, exactly, how these controllers work in Linux gaming. So, that part is out of the context of this post. Let’s get to it!

There are three, mainly, three controllers I have used. They are Sony Dualshock 4, the controller of PS4, Microsoft Elite Pad, that is designed for Xbox One and, my latest addition, PDP Neon Carbon that is used, mainly, with Xbox Series S/X. All these gamepads can be used with Windows 10.

Dualshock 4 (the red controller in the image) needs an app so it can be used. That app is DS4Windows. This gamepad works very well with PC. Only thing that is really annoying is the mapping of buttons. As I have learned by my experience, Windows apps tend to map controllers as Xbox One or Xbox Series S/X controllers. This is a bit irritating. I think this issue can be solved. There are for example USB dongles that can be used as a solution. As I noticed this problem I had a quick fix for it already – I changed to my oldest gamepad that is Elite Pad (the one in the middle in the image).

Buttons have been configured correctly when you are using Xbox One’s gamepad. It is often taken care that a controller that can be used in a Xbox Series console will be compatible with Windows also. I think you can even take a Xbox 360 controller and plug it in so you can use it to play with a PC.

By the way, all these controllers I have been using have had a wired connection. I haven’t even tried to get bluetooth to work with these. Why would I do that? My desktop doesn’t even have a bluetooth itself. I use a bluetooth dongle for a wireless connection whenever there is a need for such. It also seems that all these three controllers have a USB-to-micro-USB connection. Even the third gamepad, that is meant for new Series X, also sports a micro-USB, instead of the most popular, USB-C. This however makes only a little difference. And basically all you need is a cable that has about a metre or one and a half metres of lenght.

So, I was very involved in this and I was using the Elite Pad. It is of a very good quality. It was expensive and it has served well over ten years of use. After all, it started to break down a bit. There was a part, that I think was originally glued to its place, that I had to remove. It was sticking out and the controller didn’t fit so nicely anymore. I decided to get a newer controller. Of course my thoughts were to buy a controller of Xbox Series X. I had some thoughts about DualSense, but since Xbox and Windows go well together, I decided to go for the Xbox on this one.

It first seemed that the replaicment would definitely be a combo of wired and wireless. It would be an Xbox Series X controller. I first thought that I would buy the official controller. I made my way to a store. I found out that they were actually out of these controllers. I noticed an optional model. It actually was this PDP Xbox Series X controller.

The controller was only 45 euros or so. So it was 20 euros cheaper than the official controller. When it comes to gaming this kind of a swing can be a gamechanger. And that’s how it was for me in this situation. I got the gamepad and went home as a happy duude.

First thing I noticed with this controller was that it doesn’t have a battery included. It is a wired controller. It has a functionality and you can remove the cord. This might seem useless but it actually makes sense in a way. You can replace the cord if you are on the move or if it gets damaged in some way. It is very light. The feel is awesome. I like this controller and I haven’t noticed anything to complain about. It is compatible with Windows 10 and you don’t necessarily need any app to use it in this way. There is some sort of an app avvailable as a donwload.

We can have a tiny summary here out of this blog post. I am very content on my new controller. It is a nice update to my old Elite Pad. I have to say that Elite Pad really served very well for its price of 130 euros. It has an option to load a battery in it. It also has some adjustments and a bit of weight for the controller to feel good. It was although time to move on with it. You can also try to use PlayStation controllers with a PC. Some games might feel better this way. I didn’t go through Linux or Mac gaming in this blog post but as you can probably figure there is a wholea other world in that way also.

Some Thoughts About a Book

There was a huge clearance at a very popular mall in Helsinki some weeks ago. I didn’t find anything except two books. The first one was about games and how they shape you and your personality. The another, in which I am not going to go so deeply in, was about astronomy. But I will tell you a bit about this book about gaming. I have read the book. It was written in Finnish and I don’t know if it is going to be translated or is translated. Anyways, I will write about it.

The book is written by Aleksandr Manzos. I hadn’t heard of him earlier and this was first book of his that I have read. I haven’t even read any of his articles. There is a note on the back of this book that introduces him as a journalist and especially some sort of a gaming expert. He has written many books. The book basically tells a story of how video games have made an effect to Manzos throughout his life.

The name, “Pelattu elämä – miten pelit tekivät minusta minut”, can be translated, a bit freely thought, into “how gaming formed me and/or changed my life”. There is a kind of a wordplay here also that cannot be easily translated. “Pelattu” means “played” and “pilattu” means “spoiled”, so he has changed that one letter right there in that word and he is making a slight joke there.

The book begins with a story about Fallout. You might know this role-playing game. So you get to choose your gender. And Manzos makes very clear that he likes to pick a female character instead of a male one. He then explains how he likes to play as a female. He likes to pretend that he is a she. He continues to talk about this and explains that this doesn’t affect his sexual orientation and he says he is a straight person in that way. He just likes sometimes to be a cute person just like the picture besides his note in the book that introduces him shows.

There are lots of topics that are dealt with in this book. There is lots of thought about the characters in games and how you in a way empathize with them. Manzos writes about video games in the 90s. He is born in 1988 so he is about the same age as I am and there are lots of same influences in games that I can share with him. He talks about Final Fantasy VII and how it brought FF series to European gamers. There is lots of history that he explains in this book. The reader gets to think about worlds of different games from shmups to roleplaying and also to Tetris and Mass Effect.

I have to admit that it was a bit awkward to first read about how Manzos felt about playing as a female character. It was a sort of thing that you have to process a bit. I enjoyed reading this book. I think this writer has many interesting thoughts about games and personality all in all. I kind of have to give him props for his attitude on his personality. I am a bit lame about this matter. I have enjoyed playing as a macho male character in many games. Maybe that isn’t always how people want to present themselves. And it is now crystal clear to me that he is truthful in a way that he even gets to talk about sexuality. This is a sensitive subject. It is easy to misunderstand someone that has opinions in this matter. There are so many people in the world and I think they are all unique.

There are lots of books about games and gaming available worldwide. I have a privilege to live in a country in which language this kind of a material gets published. There are also many journalists that also have a privilege to write about games here in Finland. One other writer whose books I really like is Juho Kuorikoski and he has written many good books. As I don’t know if this particular book is going to be released in English I don’t know what this blog post has to give to an international English speaking game fan. I wanted to write something about this book. It was an interesting read.

The Last of Us

I have been watching, and also enjoying, the movie series The Last of Us on HBO. If you check IMDb for a rating you will see that it is 9,2 out of 10. Sometimes the movie that I like doesn’t receive such a rating. This time it does. There have been already six episodes of this TV series. I have enjoyed this series so far very much.

If you aren’t familiar with this game or the series I can explain the main plot. There is a certain kind of fungus that actually turns people into zombies. There are only few survivors that haven’t, at least yet, been infected. There are some main characters in this tv series. I think the series does a great job in describing these characters. That is also the strongest feature in this series.

The series is based on the game. Just in 2020 we got the latest The Last of Us game. It was called Part II. The first game after all was released already some time ago. It was released in 2013 for PS3 and it was developed by Naughty Dog. You might remember this game development company from a classic game called Crash Bandicoot. They have also released a game seiries called Uncharted.

The Last of Us was released to PS4 as a remaster in 2014. This is the moment that I first got into The Last of Us. As there are many similarities in the situation that the game presents it is understandable that it maybe wasn’t so popular during the pandemic. Or maybe the hype is all because of this? Who knows.

The game is as good as you can figure. I can recommend it, defnitely. So the TV series has been popular. It brings together some very detailed personalities that live their lives after this tragic disaster that ended the human populations accomplishments.

I can definitely recommend The Last of Us for anybody. You might have played Last of Us games or not but you have to see this. I am not aware of any release outside of HBO. This might make you to consider getting HBO if you don’t already have it. What finally made me order HBO was a series called “Winning Time”. Since I am and always will be a basketball fan I enjoyed that series also.

A Nice Gaming Magazine

I have subscribed a gaming magazine. Oh my. Since I have a day off today, because it is the national independence day here in Finland, I decided to continue writing to this blog. I have been thinking about getting a subscription of some game related magazine. There aren’t so many available here in my home country. So it was this time easy to pick which one to order. I thought about getting a foreign magazine named Retro Gamer but I found out that it was discontinued and I was not able to order it.

The price was cheap. Much cheaper than what it costs if you buy these magazine as individual copies. “Pelaaja” is the name of this gaming magazine. It is written in Finnish. “Pelaaja” can be translated to “Player”. What a nice name, don’t you think? Pelaaja has been published monthly for about twenty years already. There have been many other video magazines but none of them seem to last so long in this field. Oh, and there is a competitor here in Finland. It is a magazine called “Pelit” which if translated means “Games”. So we have very nice and simple names for out magazines here.

I made a subscription now for a year. I was glad that this issue dropped to my post box yesterday. I don’t have to go to the store to see if there is a new issue available. For a years subscription I get ten issues and two fully digital issues. It’s a nice deal. I am not going to advertise here so I won’t tell where I ordered it. It was about 80 euros per year. If you get a permanent subscription you probably will get it cheaper also.

One issue of this magazine costs 10,90 euros. As you can figure, it is a nice deal. In this December’s issue there are stories about the new God of War, WRC Generations, the new Cod and also stories about many other subjects. I have to make clear that it is completely written in Finnish. I don’t know so many English video game magazines. But I decided that it was time to give Pelaaja a go.

So this blog post was again a piece of my thoughts and it shows something about my private life also. I am glad that so many of you are currently enjoying reading this blog. I hope you also follow me on Instagram. I have also a Facebook page for this blog but it is not so popular. I think that’s the story for today.

THPS 4 on GameCube

I can definitely say that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is close to my hearth. I have been involved with playing it since the first game came out in the late 90s for PlayStation. THPS series has many games and they have been released for several different gaming consoles and also on PC. So there are lots of systems that you can play THPS games on. That also means there are different ways to control the character inside the game.

It goes almost without saying that I am used to playing some THPS with a PlayStation game pad. About two years ago I wrote a blog post here in this blog about how the THPS 1 + 2 HD remake felt like on PS4. Of course the way how you could use a modern DualShock 4 controller was amazing. I was very pleased with this pair of remakes. The graphics were also very nice. I felt like these games really respected the original games.

This time however I played THPS 4 that was released for GameCube. If you take a PS1 controller and compare it to a GameCube controller you start to see all these differences. But when you get to playing the controller feels almost the same. There are some differences. There are also many similarities. Basically there is a group of four buttons on the right. There is also only one trigger button on the right side and also on the left side.

I really like playing THPS 4 on GameCube. I also like very much of this era of gaming. THPS was released for GameCube in 2002. There is a certain appeal to the games of this time. There were more games released and while the graphics weren’t anything you could really compare to today’s games they still make an impact to me as a retro game hobbyist. I like the feel that GameCube’s controller gives.

I am very happy that I decided to buy this game some time ago. It gave me some value and I mean something else than financial value. Tony Hawk once said that THPS games cannot get you to learn actual skateboarding but they can give you an idea of how skateboarding feels like. I am also content about having some free time to get into this game.

I have currently completed, I think, 22 percentage of the game. I get to spend some hours playing this game during last weekend. I have also played some WRC Generations on my Xbox Series X. It seems to be a decent rally game. So, maybe I write something about it the next time!

Game Inside a Web Browser

As I first started getting into modern personal computers back in 2000s I first learned HTML. I eventually learned also some CSS. I didn’t learn JavaScript or PHP back then and it seemed like a tough deal for me. I didn’t get into “real” programming in years. It was 2010 when I coded my first tiny applications with Java.

Java is hard to combine with HTML and CSS but learning to code with it helped me to get into JavaScript and also actually PHP later. During my studies I also learned something about MySQL and about databases in general. JavaScript is a versatile language. It can be used in backend (Node.js) or frontend (for example React. You can also use plain JavaScript for frontend).

I actually wasn’t able to combine as effectively as possible my studies and my experiences with HTML and CSS in 2000s. But now it’s 2022 and I can’t help to still be curious about how these things called web browsers handle themselves (or actually, how do they work).

I have been reading a lot about different techniques of how to produce a web application. I don’t have currently a project that I could showcase in job application. I am still learning. I want to learn as much as possible and go through in my mind all this theory that there is. Working with solving different end users problems also helps me to achieve this. It can in best case bring some new knowledge for me. It definitely helps me to develop myself.

But how do things really work inside the browser? Basically you have ways to display shapes that have different colors, texts and images. You can read in the users input from a keyboard or a gamepad. You can ahve commands and buttons that make the user to interact. The possibilities are almost limitless. You can even bring 3D graphics to your web browser.

What can you do, if you find these sorts of things interesting? I would say that building website or two will help you to get started. Don’t set your goal too high. I for example have come up with several different prototypes of games and some of them have been based on JavaScript and HTML and CSS. Start with something small and keep building. It might help if you team up with some talents that can help you with the game, like for example a 3d modeler or a musician.

I would have started to write a paragraph about techniques that you can use when developing a game to be played in a web browser but I think I have already introduced all of them. Having a game inside a browser enables you to play and deliver the game for many platforms. Is there a device, that cannot run a website on it? I think there actually isn’t.

You have so many ways to start building your game that runs on for example Firefox. This might not be your future profession but it sure is a nice hobby. I am saying this because I’ve myself had a ahrd time in trying to be employed as a Full Stack Developer. The competition is tough. But start with HTML, CSS and maybe even JavaScript, and soon you will understand how these things work.

Recent Game Purchases

I saw some amazing games on one nice game shop. Some of them could be considered retro games but also a PS3 game and an Xbox 360 game caught my eye. I made the order and it only took two days for the package to arrive. Just yesterday I got to pick the package.

So I ordered five games. The first two caught my attention as they were GameCube games. I have a strong effort in collecting as many and preferably good and actually playable games in this small but steadily growing collection of GameCube games. The two games were Mortal Kombat – Deadly Alliance and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. That Mortal Kombat game has a grade 81 / 100 on Metacritic while THPS 4 has 91 / 100.

I also got another NES game that I can now add to my collection. This was a role playing game called Gauntlet II. I really didn’t know a whole lot about this game before I bought it. But it didn’t make me miserable at all and this had everything to do with it being so cheap. It cost me only 25 euros. And it was in a decent condition. It was loose but that’s how I like my NES games. I don’t actually like so much of the packaging of NES games…for some reason that I cannot explain clearly.

I also got, for very cheap of course, a game for PS3 and a game for Xbox 360. The PS3 one was Castlevania – Lords of Shadow. I have played Castlevania games from 1980s and this game in my thinking is based on these older games. I think it is an attempt to offer some high quality graphics and game play for the fans and maybe even for someone that doesn’t even have any idea about these original games.

The last game that I got yesterday is a Need For Speed game. The title is as presented completely “Need For Speed – The Run”. For this game I don’t have so high expectations. There are probably tens (probably not hundreds :D) of these NFS titles out there. I think some of them are really good and others are not so good. I finally decided to give this a try.

I got these games just yesterday so I haven’t yet had time to play them. As I have written here in this blog earlier – I have a huge backlog. The thing that I’m glad about is that I actually almost completed Burnout Takedown. I got now 88 percentage of it completed. I also got my hands dirty, oh boy, what a way to say it, and started playing, finally, Crash Bandicoot 4. And what it comes to completion I now have about 35 percentage of this game finished.

Right now, as you can probably imagine, I am just a little bit tired. I am, again, trying to stay active and bring you, my dear readers, some new content at a good pace. It has been a week or so since my last blog post. I wanted to give you something to read and think once again. I hope we see again soon!

Playing Game Boy Games (And Not Taking It Too Seriously)

This thing in this featured image is Super Game Boy. Can you guess what it can accomplish? Yes, to play Game Boy Games on Super Nintendo. So there’s an adapter and a Game Boy game which happens to be a good Game Boy game and it is…Super Mario Land.

Why and how did I start getting into Game Boy games? I just figured that there might be something interesting here. It all started as I played Zelda – Link’s Awakening. You know, that’s a Game Boy game and a good one, I can tell you that. So I started to get an idea out of this.

So, there are games being developed for some system. If you happen to be a game developer you have to take in consideration many things about on what device the game can be played on. Game Boy certainly has limitations but just look at these two games that I have mentioned here. They are of very good quality.

How limited is Game Boy as a gaming system? We can start from the screen resolution…or so called resolution. Game Boy actually has a resolution of 160×144 pixels with an aspect ratio of 10:9. That’s a small screen for a handheld gaming console. It’s actually so small that sometimes while I was testing Super Mario Land, just moments ago, I felt a bit of clumsiness because there just are so few pixels for controlling and actually moving your character.

What are some other limitations? There are only a limited amount of colors. Originally Game Boy had four shades of green on the screen. Where Game Boy really excels is the battery life. You can play 16 hours with four AA-batteries. To make a comparison Game Gear provided playing time of three to five hours with six AAA-batteries. Also Game Gear had a colour screen of 32 colors. What about sound? It is a bit limited. But you have to consider that this handheld gaming device came to markets in 1989.

Playing Game Boy games with Super Game Boy is fun. I have a total of five games for Game Boy at the moment. I also got myself a Game Boy Color some time ago. I am not so excited right now about it. Actually I found out that the screen was very dim and it makes playing it a bit of a pain. So I prefer my Super Game Boy adapter.

So I found some time today to spend with games and gaming. I am content that I also had time to write this blog post. I have been lately busy with work, reading books and making music.

The Importance of a Plot

If you think about games and gaming and what it comes to games having a strong inner story, a plot, you can have many opinions. There are two extremes. Some might think that there should be sort of interactivity and action in games and that a plot is just something that doesn’t have such an importance.

This of course depends a lot about what kind of a game you are experiencing. If you have a shooter, maybe a first person shooter, you don’t necessarily want to follow something that is comparable to a story or line that walks you throuhg the game. You are happy to just shoot everything that moves, right?

What about adventure games? Here the plot has more meaning. Also in advneture games the dialogue and conversations bring a lot to the content. You also have some puzzles to solve. You have objects to pick up and use in some situations. That’s how adventure games work.

Can you think about a role playing game wihtout a plot? I hardly can. But of course in a role playing game you are also very interested how your main character or characters develop. Usually there are also choices made inside the game that vary how the story keeps moving on. Some games have a solid story line while others might have various events launched by a decision that the player has made.

If you want an example of a storydriven role playing game I would have to bring up Fallout and Fallout 2. These games had a deep and interesting story that also formed based on the desicions that the player makes.

So is strory or a plot important to you as a player? If we compare games to other mediums like books and movies we can think that games differ from them in that that they have this interactivity in them. Player can move a character or characters and make decisions that make an impact. You could hardly think of a movie that has no plot at all. But if you think about a classic game like Doom you could do fine wihtout understanding it’s story line.

Some games give a plot a lot of importance. Some games give us a slight idea of what is going on and deliver some action instead. Some games, maybe some simple games, might not have a plot at all. There are as many games as there are types of players. And we can say that that is many indeed.

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