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.

Destiny of Jonathan: Maze of Salala

I have been thinking and also waiting to write about this game that has been under development now for several years. I have been involved in the development process with my good friend Antti Pulkkinen. I started working in this project back in 2014. Antti asked me to join and help him to get this game designed. He has had this idea of a role-playing 3D game. After some talk about the game we started to figure out what kinds of weapons and armor there would appear and how the story would be structured.

Back in 2014 I hadn’t even yet graduated and my studies as a software engineer were not finished. I saw these opportunities and they made me want to work in this project even more. From the first lines we discussed it was also clear that I would be also responsible for the music in this game. I also had the opportunity to develop the website. That’s basically my role in the designing of the game.

The game is released for PCs that have a Linux operating system. It costs 15 euros. If you want to buy the game you can register and then pay and download the game. I think this game gives something especially if you are into role-playing and adventure games and also if you are deeply into game design and programming. Antti has worked hard as he programmed this game. If you have any questions about the development process or anything related to programming you can find his email from our website: https://www.onegamecompany.fi

The game reflects our passion to how adventure and role-playing games were in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. We had also some skillful 3D modelers and graphic designers involved. There have been ideas for sequel or a series of sequels. I have been also busy with composing the music for these games. For music production I currently use FL Studio, a 32 key MIDI keyboard and a large library of different synthetic instruments and also samples. We looked for sound effects also from different websites and communities.

Diablo and Dungeon Siege series’s games were a big inspiration for us. We worked hard designing different kinds of features, mazes, puzzles, levels, discussions, characters and everything else we wanted to include in the game. We wanted it to have a clear and interesting plot and to give the main character some personality. From the beginning it was supposed to be a game that had some action involved in it. There are also many ways to develop the main character as the player progresses throughout the game. So it is an action RPG that has some characteristics of adventure games. Destiny of Jonathan was developed by our company One game company. This is our first serious game.

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.

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:

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