Gaming with Raspberry Pi

So I have this old Raspberry Pi 1 that I got back in about 2011. While it has many uses I haven’t utilized it in a while. What makes this interesting for the readers of this blog is that it can be used for retro gaming. While it is not able to run decently games that have 3D graphics it is perfectly good for playing retro video games like SNES games to give an example. Newer Raspberry Pis are capable of running some more advanced games that have 3D graphics. It is also not a bad choice to pick up a NVIDIA Shield if you are interested in emulated retro gaming and you want to be able to run games with 3D graphics. Shield can even run some Sega Dreamcast with Sony PlayStation games. If you want to be able to run PS2 games I think this is not, at least yet, your way to go.

So we have this Raspberry Pi 1. It has many ways that you can connect different equipment to it. It has two slots for USB. The connections are white which tells us that they are of type USB 2.0. This doesn’t affect us so much. The connections could be colored blue that only tells that they would be a bit more advanced and more effective in transmitting data through them. But for a USB controller or even Bluetooth dongle would work with USB 2.0s just fine. You can even expand these USB slots with an USB hub. It can provide you more USB slots.

If you don’t want to sacrifice one USB slot for Wi-Fi dongle you can connect your Raspberry Pi to your network and internet with an Ethernet connection. There’s no Wi-Fi built in the first Raspberry Pi but some newer models also have this feature included. So you might want to consider buying for example Raspberry Pi 4 instead of the first release. The first release also only supports SD memory card up to 32 GB. While this is just enough to support playing retro games, it might be too small for some uses. There is HDMI connection which delivers the sound and the picture from the computer to the display. There’s also a slot for video output and a small slot, actually a mini-plug connection, for audio output. Raspberry Pi also needs a power input that is provided with 5V micro USB connection. You can probably use your old smart phone’s cable for this, that is you have one available.

You get that Raspberry Pi needs a memory card  and a power cable to work. You will also need a keyboard, maybe even a mouse, a cable for Ethernet and an HDMI cable. That’s just for setting up. You have to install yourself a good operating system. For gaming I would go with RetroPie or Lakka OS.

Here’s some links:

https://retropie.org.uk/ and https://www.lakka.tv/

There are many ways that you can get the image file to your memory card. You can probably read some deeper instructions from those links that are above this text. It depends on your host operating system but I know that you are able to make the installation with Windows and Linux PCs.

After getting the software installed you need to fiddle around a bit with the settings. You can usually just connect your game pad and configure the controls. After that you only need to use the Raspberry Pi with your controller. You need to transfer the roms to your device also. This can be done in several ways. You can for example transfer them to USB stick or you can transfer them from your local network. I am not getting to this since this blog post is not actually a tutorial. I am only discussing about the possibilities and I am trying to give you a clear picture for what it is like to get your old, dusted, Raspberry Pi to work for you as a gaming device.

I really think that this is all about this subject. You can run your SNES, NES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, DOS and Atari 2600 games like this (just to mention some of the most popular systems). I would recommend for your game pad Logitech’s or a USB SNES pad although there are plenty of possibilities. Some controllers might not work so don’t try to plug your PS4 controller in as it won’t probably work and would need some fiddling.

Do you necessarily need Windows to play PC games?

Linux as an operating system of personal computers has been competing to this day against Microsoft’s Windows. Linux has advantages. First of all it’s free and mostly open source. So anyone with a decent knowledge about programming and computers and operating systems has an opportunity to learn and even modify this system. But is Linux capable of running the latest games? To this question I am trying to answer in this blog post.

Windows has a large support as an operating system that delivers reliability. It can run latest PC games and it is an answer to many electronic music producers as Linux currently doesn’t fully support VST instruments or many sequencer applications like, for example, FL Studio. Linux has some free music production apps. like Ardour, but to get your software and hardware to run decently is to my own experience a bit difficult.

Windows is not free. Windows still supports many hardware drivers that are important when running newest PC games. Take graphics processing units for example. Most of the GPU´s are supported. You have to pay for Windows. Usually you get the new Windows with a computer that you purchase. Usually you also get the update to a newer version when it is released. Still sometimes you might have an old computer and you don’t want to spend about 150 euros for only getting the newest operating system. Then Linux definitely is a good choice.

There is a war going on between Linux and Windows. It has been this way for decades. While Linux is supported by heavy users, technology nerds and programmers Windows is still holding on to it’s position as the default personal computer operating system. Of course there are also Mac users. So this also messes up the picture a bit. I definitely like to use Linux for programming if I can make a free choice. This is because it is more secure and it doesn’t need necessarily a virus protection application. It also has more opportunities to get deeper into technology of computer. You get to work with command line and the apps are mainly free and open source. You also get more updates and get to tweak your system a bit more.

You can get Windows games working with Linux. Older games certainly can be run through DOSBox, if they are DOS games, and through Wine, if they are Windows games. There has been a discussion goin on how clearly are Steam games running on Linux. There seems to be a certain distinction between Windows and Linux games that I am not so clear about. The software seems to be in question. I cannot reply to this question fully and I admit that. But it is an interesting point.

So if you plan to play the newest games my answer to you is – get a computer that runs Windows. That is to make sure that you have the latest drivers and have yourself the full support from hardware manufacturers and game developers. Since we are moving more and more towards digital markets when purchasing games it is also important that you have Steam or GOG.com or some other place to buy yourself games for your PC. This is how the situation seems to be. Linux has it’s own supporters and you have to keep in mind that Linux has it’s native games that run only on Linux. So to conclude – Linux is developing and it might be possible that it makes a takeover in the future but currently you will have to use Windows.

100th Blog Post

I would like to dedicate this post, as it’s the 100th, to describing the path I have went through with this blog so far. Maybe I’ll share some secrets about how I’ve been maintaining this blog or what kinds of strategies I’ve used. Who knows? Are there some secrets? I don’t want to answer that question directly. But keep reading.

This blog is my most recent. It is also the most popular blog I’ve ever have kept updating. My background is in writing lyrics for hiphop. That’s where I picked up writing. I have been writing lyrics since 2001. I have been writing blogs since 2008. I wrote posts for this blog for many years. I didn’t however write so frequently to it. I wrote shorter texts than I write today. So some progression in this mean has been going on.

For six years I was busy with studying my computer science degree. It was a Bachelor’s Degree. I had big dreams of becoming a well paid game developer. This dream hasn’t come true. I did graduate in 2016 but it was a pain in the butt to get a job that would fit my background. After about half a year I decided to try my hand in blogging again. This time I made deeper plans and decided to write one or two posts per week. I wrote that blog in Finnish. I kept writing this blog and it got some visitors. I also added commercials to it but it didn’t become profitable and I didn’t get any income from these advertisements. I had very few visitors compared to this blog that I’m currently writing.

So I got finally a job as a customer service person in a game shop. I worked there for six months. During that period I also wrote to the shops blog. My boss liked my style of writing so I wrote several posts to their website. I also got later another job. While I was working I picked a book from local library that described maintaining a blog. I never had a blog that would have been very successful. The idea was fascinating. It wasn’t all about the opportunity to earn some money but it was rather the opportunity and possibility to create something that might some day be my full time job.

So I read the book, I can’t remember right now what book it exactly was, and took a paper and pen and started designing this new blog. I wrote five articles in advance. This blog would already have some content. I started with a free web host but I moved to paid web host in 12/2020. It has been a fun time writing this blog. I have received comments. I have gained visitors and followers as I have been active in Instagram also. Right now I have almost 600 followers there.

I keep coming up with ideas for posts as I am living my regular life. I try my best to write at least a post per week or at least a post per two weeks. Sometimes I write more and sometimes more rarely. It is easy for me to come up with new ideas but I sometimes forget that I have already handled these topics in some earlier post.

What it comes to gaming I am thinking right now if I should buy Nintendo Game & Watch or one more of those original Xbox gaming consoles that I have already had two. I have made many new purchases that I haven’t had time to get into lately. I have bought many PS4 games as they have been lately on sale. I try to find time for gaming and also for this blog. I have also been thinking about ways to get some income from this site but right now I could say that writing this blog is still only a hobby for me.

How would you feel if there were ads on this website? What topics you would like to read about? Feel free to leave a comment.

Do You Necessarily Need A Television?

So the world championships for ice hockey this year begun last Friday. I have so far got to see two of Finland’s games. In the first game Finland took a victory against U.S.A. but at the moment we have lost to Kazakstan in a very tight game. Both of these games were real thrillers. Kazakstan had many players in their roster that are playing in KHL which consists of many teams from many countries including Russia and Finland.

This yearly tournament receives very much attention here. I am not so in to ice hockey but it’s hard to miss world championships because it’s such a big deal in here where I live. Although NHL is more popular in northern America. How this is relating to what I have as a subject in this blog post is that yesterday I was at my friends apartment and we decided to watch the game – Finland against U.S.A. My friend doesn’t have a television at all so we thought that we could watch it, you know, online somehow. That would have been possible but we encountered an issue about having to register for a certain account that required all of my friends contact details and also his bank account number. That was stupid in my opinion and we decided to head back to my place to watch the game from television that is connected to regular cable television.

This made it clear that in some cases you do need a television. Since we are still dealing with the corona virus it isn’t, I think, a very good idea to gather to some bar to watch ice hockey games. I don’t know if it’s already legal for this kind of gathering to take place but at least I personally think this is not possible. Last year the whole tournament was cancelled. And Finland won the championship two years ago.

I also know one person that I had a discussion with about not having a television at all. He only had a computer and he also had Nintendo Switch Lite. I have connected all of my retro and also my newer gaming consoles to a television. I also have a computer for playing games and I also have a Nintendo Switch Lite.

A television can be the center of the whole home of yours. There can be limitations. You might not just have room for such a device. Some people might even have reasons, maybe religious or in some other way ideal, for not to watch television at all. And why should everyone have a TV? As internet keeps getting faster and even more common it is nowadays possible to keep track of the most important events reading news online. Do we need a television in every home? Some people manage to survive without it.

 

How Far Are We?

I had an idea of a text in which I would be describing how we are kind of tricked to being inside the world that a particular game we are playing is providing us. Could computer and video games bring us someday to worlds like in the movie Matrix? If that would be possible – how could you trick your mind in to believing that you are, definitely, in that fantasy world?

I will approach this subject with thinking about your senses. You basically have different kinds of inputs in your body that can determine what you see and feel and hear and so on. We are far in that we can bring you some visually and aurally pleasant sensations. What if you could add your sense of touching to these? We could probably get to some really odd situations inside this kind of gaming world. Could it be that only these three senses could flip us in to believing that we actually are in some other world? Could there be a way to trick also our sense of balance?

Our efforts in bringing virtual reality have lacked to this day something that would actually make your dreams into reality. You can totally make your vision virtual. Your hearing  can also be tricked. Balance could be tricked also. This leaves us to the ultimate question – how do we make our decisions and interact in this kind of world? Fantasy has a way that can make you feel like you are in a different world. I recently played a game that took me to a different world. And it had me make decisions and actions that defined how I proceeded in the game. It isn’t so important to think about what game it was, but let me tell you that it was actually Skyrim that I was fiddling around with as I had this idea of this blgo post.

But here’s something you can think about – what if we could dream in some kind of virtual environment that would completely capture our senses and make us feel like we are free of our limits iin this real world? Could we find something within our consciousness? Could we discover something this way that we aren’t discovering as we are awake in this reality that kind of captures us physically?

There’s certainly lots of questions in that last paragraph I just wrote. Dreams are very interesting if you start to think about it. I don’t have so much experience about dreams in sense of psychology. But I can think about it. When you dream you basically mix things that you were thinking about with your memories and your subconsciousness that I don’t actually know or understand. I think it’s somewhat what you fish and what you desire mixed with what kind of personality you have. Something like that.

So if we could dream inside virtual reality like that would it help us to heal our kind of injuries that we have in our psyche? Or what kind of an experiment would it be? Would it be pleasant or unpleasant? Would it have any value as entertainment or could we open doors to our minds and our deeply wired brains? Could we discover something that hasn’t yet been discovered? Now there’s something to think about.

I think today we are very far away from this kind of an experience. There is a sharp video picture that captures our eyes. There can maybe be a helmet in your head that captures your vision completely. You have a game pad that you can use to interact in game. Our minds are captured with stories and discussions that we can be involved in. Could there be something more? Are we actually in this kind of situation that we were in when we didn’t even have graphics in games and could this be something that could be possible in the future? Maybe? Maybe not? Would you like this kind of virtual reality in which we could dream our surroundings and even decide somehow when we would want to quit the game? We might be there in maybe 30 next years and this could be an improvement that we are facing just like graphics were back in the 80s.

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.

Interesting Book About PlayStation

My goal in this blog post is to introduce this subject and this book to my readers. At the beginning I have to make clear that this book is only available in Finnish so don’t get too excited. I am afraid that you won’t enjoy it if you can’t read Finnish text even if it would be possible for you to buy this book. I don’t know if any libraries in Finland have this book. It was pushed only a limited amount of copies and I am afraid that there aren’t enough books for everyone. But that’s not actually a problem for me because I received the book that I had paid already earlier. There were some problems in delivering the book but I think this is understandable since this publisher isn’t a big company.

But to get to the point – this is a book about how at first the first Sony’s gaming console, PlayStation, hit this country and how it was received. We are a small nation of only a bit more than 5 million people that are currently living here. But as players of video games we are very enthusiastic. So thinking proportionally there is a large amount of players in here. People in Finland are basically doing fine and the standard of living is good. To say it truthfully – we buy a lot of games.

PlayStation was a big hit in Finland as it was also world wide. It is said in this book that Finnish people are also faithful to the brand to some extent. The name of the book can be translated to “PlayStation People” or “PlayStation Nation” (rhymes funnily). There were PlayStation fans already waiting when it was time to release PlayStation 2. Have you heard of Sing Star games? Well, it was a series of games that was particularly popular in here. It started from games for PS2 and ended with a game or two released for PS4. It’s a bit sad that new games aren’t being released no more.

The book goes on to explain how PS3 was released. It also tells about a game company called Housemarque. It’s first hit game was Supreme Snowboarding. It developed lots of games for different PlayStations. It is still developing games for PS5 also. The book describes latest and greatest games for PS4. It ends with some words about the release of PS5.

I liked this book a lot. It has 184 pages and lots of pictures so it isn’t a long read. The books availability is a bit limited. I did order it in November and I received it in January. So it was a bit delayed. If you set aside these small problems it is a great book. I ordered a hardcover version of my book. There was also paperback version available when I ordered my book.

Some Thoughts About Writing This Blog

May it be a blog post or some other form of text it is clear that I enjoy writing. This is not the first blog that I have set up but this is definitely to this day the most popular. I first came up with the idea of this blog when I read very interesting book about blogging. The book was “The Million Dollar Blog” that is written by Natasha Courtenay-Smith.

My goal at first wasn’t to get money or anything like that. The first priority was to write about something that interests me very much. I am from Finland. I had to make a decision about in what language I would write to the blog. I finally decided to write in English. I thought it would make my blog international and I thought I would get more visits. I also figured out that I could practice writing in English this way.

Writing a blog is a nice hobby. I don’t have any big plans. I just want to write an interesting blog post at least once a week. Sometimes I write more and some times a bit less. I think this is a topic that I have knowledge about. If you have read my blog you can find out about my personal history. We got a computer to our house as I was only about four years old. I have been a player of video and computer games since that moment.

At first it was very easy for me to come up with ideas for blog posts. Now I have dealt with lots of subjects and it’s a bit harder to come up with a good idea weekly. If you have ideas or would be interested in some topic you can always contact me through comments or even sending me e-mail to the address that you can find from this websites Contact part.

I have had a huge inspiration which has grown even more as I have progressed with this blog. I hope you are all fine and keep reading this stuff. I just wanted to let my blogs readers know some thoughts about my motivation and in what direction is this blog going. I always keep gaming and I like to write about games and everything that is around me. There are some limitations however because I have other things in my life also that I have to keep also doing. At the moment I am not, at least yet, ready to be a professional blog writer.

I am considering about publishing commercials in this blog but this decision is still open for me to decide. This post was 77th post in this blog. I am glad that I have already written so much about my dear hobby of gaming.

Importance of Nintendo to Console Gaming

Nintendo was founded in 1889. It was originally named as Nintendo Karuta. As you can probably conclude – the end of 1800s wasn’t yet the time for this company to develop a gaming console to be played at thousands of living rooms worldwide. But it was the same company that brought NES or Nintendo Entertainment System to markets in 1983.

NES wasn’t the first video game console that was introduced to consumers. Atari brought their very popular console to the markets at the end of 1970s. It was very popular device but it got into real problems as the quality of games that were released did drop. These games included a game that was well-known and often named as the worst game ever made. It was a game based on Steven Spielbergs movie “E.T.” . This and many other games were buried to wasteland. And this is a true story. When Nintendo released NES the industry started to get over this crisis of games that didn’t have a good quality. Nintendo was making sure that only good and playable games would be released to the system.

If you have to name one game console you probably get your mind to NES. I remember clearly that it also was the first gaming device that I remember seeing ever. In the 1980s we had Commodore 64 but what Nintendo offered was something that revolutionized gaming.

Nintendo had to compete with Sega and later with such big names like Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo has been in gaming industry for a long time. Somehow Nintendo kind of missed mobile gaming and approached handheld gaming by bringing new handheld consoles to the market. Lately there was introduced a new handheld device and this device is the one I acquired very recently – Nintendo Switch Lite. Thinking about this makes me puzzled. I bought this for about 220 euros. A new smart phones price is from about 150 to 400 euros. Would you buy a handheld device for gaming if you have your smart phone already? This is something to think about. Although I have been very satisfied with my purchase this far.

So Nintendo was the company that brought 8-bit gaming to our living rooms. It might not have been the first but in my opinion it had the strongest impact on this culture that was already starting to rise it’s head. This brings out the question – Why are games so popular? I think Nintendo has come up with the answer and they are, after all these years, still coming up with new innovative devices and games to gamers worldwide. So the impact to the whole industry is undisputed.

 

NBA 2K21 Played With Switch Lite

It’s been a while. I first stumbled on NBA 2K as I was playing 2K14 on PS4. I later bought 2K18. I liked the first mentioned more. But now it’s early 2021 and it’s time for me to tell you about what I have been doing during the week or so. I can tell you already that I have been thinking about writing my next post for maybe two days already. I’ve had some ideas for the post but for me it is the most natural to talk, or write, about stuff I do or what are my hobbies or activities. So, keep reading.

Nintendo Switch Lite is a handheld, and only handheld, gaming console that you can play Nintendo Switch games with, if they are playable in the portable mode. It is attracting because it costs “only” 210 to 230 euros when the regular model of Switch is about 330 euros. I finally decided to buy one. I haven’t owned, ever, a handheld console. So I never had PSP or PS Vita or even Game Boy, which is probably the most popular handheld in here where I live. I had some doubts about how would the controls feel, would the screen be big enough (it’s 5,5 inches) and what games would be available. I really didn’t need a device that would be hooked to a television.

I had some reasons against and some reasons for getting this product and I made my decision. It was a bit hard to think about what games to buy. I had to have a game or two. You might already know that I’m not a Nintendo type of guy. I know Sega and PlayStation much better with not underestimating how playing PC has effected me while I have grown up to be an adult that is still playing video games and knows his retro stuff like his own house.

I decided to skip Mario and Zelda as the first games. I didn’t want to take a risk. I decided to buy 2K21. I was already in way or another going to buy it so why wouldn’t I buy it for Switch Lite. I wanted some more games so I decided to also buy a cartridge (is that what you call these things that look like over sized memory cards, maybe it is) that included Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII remake. I haven’t played FFVIII so much so there was something new for me also. I have completed FFVII once as a kid as I played it with my old PlayStation.

But let’s talk about the latest basketball and NBA game a bit. I think I have only scratched it’s surface as I have spent some hours playing it. It is the NBA game that it has been for already years. It stands out as a great sports game and there are many modes you can play in. I just started MyCareer mode and created a new player. Controls are fine. I can do whatever I have to to compete against the computer. The game might be a bit harder than the earlier ones I have played. But it’s a great game all in all.

I have also some critique about Switch Lite. The screen is far from Full HD. The resolution seems to be 1280×720. Switch was released in 2017 so the hardware isn’t the most newest. The screen is although touch screen which makes it easier to use. The battery lasts for 4 hours. This has been alright for me. But after all when considering what handheld consoles there are available right now in the markets this is a very good and also very cheap opportunity for a player like me that wants to get into handhelds and also Nintendos games a bit more. So I can definitely recommend this for a gamer to buy.

 

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