Monday, 20 November 2017

Tennis for Two, probably the first real Video Game.

So what was the first ever Video Game? Well that depends upon exactly how you define the term Video Games but there is a very big case to say that the first game was something called Tennis For Two which was made in October 1958 by the Physicist William Higinbotham. It was a very simple tennis game which a lot of people have proberbly never heard of. Every time I ask someone what they think the first game is I often hear Pong but that didnt come about until the 1970s, other will claim Space War which although it came before Pong was a full 3 years after Tennis for Two.

So the creator of Tennis for Two Higinbotham was born on October the 25th in 1910, the point where he becomes more intresting to gamers would proberbly be after he had graduated from Williams College (in 1932), and then went on to graduate school in physics at Cornell University. It was at Cornell as a graduate student he worked as an electronics technician. In 1941, he joined the MIT Radiation Lab, where he worked on cathode ray tube displays for radar systems. In 1943 he moved to Los Alamos to work on electronics for a timing system for the atomic bomb.

It was in 1948 he joined Brookhaven National Laboratory’s instrumentation group and he served as head of that group from 1951 to 1968. It was during this time that Brookhaven held annual visitors’ days, during which thousands of people would come to tour the lab. Higinbotham was responsible for creating an exhibit to show off the instrumentation division’s work. Higinbotham had felt that most of the exhibits were pretty dull and he thought that he could provide something which would better capture visitors’ attention.I have to admit that I love the fact that this guy was smart enough to be working on things such as radar and atomic bomb timing systems and yet didnt basically go sod people either there smart enough to want to come see and understand this stuff or there not, he actually stopped to think about how he could grab ahold of peoples attention in a new and intresting way. For me this is an excample of an idea of what I think should be at the very center of  both every lesson a teacher provides and every game idea a stuido comes up with ''how can I engage with my audience, how can I grab them and pull them in.''

In order to do this he created an interactive demonstration, what he created was the video game Tennis for Two . He later recalled in a magazine interview that he had thought “it might liven up the place to have a game that people could play, and which would convey the message that our scientific endeavors have relevance for society.”

The instrumentation group had a small analog computer that could display various curves, one of the things he realised he could do with this was to display what would appear like the path of a bouncing ball, on an oscilloscope. Apparently it took Higinbotham only a couple of hours to dream up the idea of a tennis game, and only a few days (with help) to actually put everything togther and get it up and working. Higinbotham made some drawings showing what he wanted, and blueprints were drawn up from these. Technician Robert Dvorak spent about two weeks building the device and after a little debugging,Tennis for Two was ready for its debut.

Players could turn a knob to adjust the angle of the ball, and push a button to hit the ball towards the other player. As long as they pressed the button when the ball was in their court, players couldn’t actually miss the ball, but if they hit it at the wrong time or hit it at the wrong angle, the ball wouldn’t make it over the net. Balls that hit the ground would bounce like a real tennis ball. When the ball went off the court or into the net, players hit a reset button to start the next round.

OK so Tennis for Two might not have been the most sophisticated games but look at the fact that the guy didnt have anything to copy when coming up with this idea well other than the actual sports game called tennis. It also had none of the fancy graphics video games have today, no soundtrack or achievments but it was a start and at the time it must have seemed like absolutly magic. The cathode ray tube display simply showed a side view of a tennis court represented by just two lines, one representing the ground and  one representing the net. The ball was just a dot that bounced back and forth.The game didnt even keep score, that was totally up to the players to do. The game circuitry was fairly simple, using mostly resistors, capacitors and relays, though it did use transistors for the fast switching needed when the ball was in play.

I know that there are proberbly people who hearing all of this would think that Tennis for Two sounds super lame butVisitors loved it. It quickly became the most popular exhibit, with people standing in long lines just to get a chance to play it.

The first version, used in the 1958 visitor’s day, had an oscilloscope with a tiny display, only five inches in diameter. The next year, Higinbotham improved it by putting in a larger display screen. He also added something to the game, he added the ability for the game to simulate stronger or weaker gravity, so visitors could play tennis on the moon, Earth or Jupiter. I guess if you wanted to you could say that this was the first ever expansion pass or DLC.

After two years, Tennis for Two was retired. The oscilloscope and computer were taken for other uses, and Higinbotham designed a new visitor’s day display that showed cosmic rays passing through a spark chamber.

So did Higinbotham make millions from this game, did it ever go into homes or set the world alight? The truth is that Higinbotham had already patented 20 inventions, and he didn’t actually think that his tennis game was particularly innovative. Sure he had seen that the Brookhaven visitors liked the game, but he had no idea how popular video games would later become. Even had he had the foresight to patent the game, since he worked at a government lab, the federal government would have owned the patent, so he wouldn’t have made any money from it. “It never occurred to me that I was doing anything very exciting. The long line of people I though was not because this was so great but because all the rest of the things were so dull,” he once said.

Higinbotham only became well known as the inventor of the video game after an article appeared in Creative Computing magazine in 1982, yet I would argue that he is a very important figure in the history of Video Games. He also helped found the Federation of American Scientists and served as its first chairman and executive secretary. Higinbotham died in November 1994 and unfortunatly I think there are a great many gamers who have never even heard his name. That is why I choose to talk about him today in Novermber and to say Thank you Mr Higinbotham, thank you for your contribution to one of the hobbies closest to my heart may you rest in peace.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The things I dont buy retro Video Game wise and why.

Now I always talk about what I buy retro game wise and sometimes I can grab a lot of stuff, sometimes to the extent that people believe I simply buy every single old thing I see, and this is not the case at all.  I am very focused on price for me to buy something I have to see it as being sold for a good price, now obviosly price depends on the object but it also depends upon its condition, where it is being sold and all manner of other factors. Just recently I saw a Commodore64 for sale it was in  a charity shop for £195, it was the machine, its wires, its tape deck and about 30 boxed games some of them being the cassette sized ones some being the larger premium box ones. Now I love and support many charities , I buy from them, donate to them (both cash and items to sell) I even used to be a volunteer but I have to admit some of them at times can take the piss with over pricing and selling stuff in poor condition (stained clothes, very badly scratched DVD's). Now I am not saying that no one will buy the Commadore64 for that kind of cash but it is more than I would pay for the machine for a great many reasons, 1 its not a machine I have much history with other than playing it at friends houses when I was young, 2 no one has unlimited house space and thats something I will take into account when buying machines and such sure if the price is a teasingly cheap one I will throw caution to the wind, 3 Mainly I just dont think the machine and these games are worth that kind of money to me. I already have a sizable collection of home computers including a Boxed Sinclair Spectrum +2 , a boxed Dragon32, a boxed Vic20 and then some loose machines. In honesty I knew that if I had grabbed it then I would have taken photos of it, looked at it a little bit and then just put it away in a cupboard, buying it would have proberbly given me a huge rush for a day or two but there are just so many other things I could and should spend the money on, after all Christmas is fast approaching. I do hope that someone does get the machine, someone who it has far more emotional ties to, someone who will appreciate it, who will use it, and who will gain a lot more from it for a lot longer time than I would have done.

So some of the time there are issues which prevent me from purhasing certain items, one would be cost but in all honesty one of the simple issues is that so much of the stuff out there really is not suitable for anyones collection, you dont have to go far to find several badly batterd super scratched copies of various old Fifa games with cases coverd with a mix of cracks and stains and discs that dont look even playable. At the very least these games would need a resurface in order to play and resurfacing games is a risky busines, if you dont know when they resurface discs basically they skim layers off them in the hop of loosing the scratches along with the layer, take to many layers though and they are no longer playable. A lot of these games with extensive scrathes are not worth the cost of a resurface as it basically amounts to a gamble where at best you have a working copy of a worthless game and at best you have paid a small sum of money and still have a useless disc out the end of it, so its hardly a gamble worth taking. Sure if you saw a rare game with a high value going for a pound or two and it was badly scratched then it might very well be worth buying and taking the risk as yes you could resurface it and it still not work but at least there is a gamble there with a very positive outcome as one of the possibilities. I recently got a very badly scrathed disc only copy of Crash Team Racing for the original Playstation for 30p, and copies of this even disc only ones sit on Amazon with asking prices in the range of £30.

I would like to say I have exact hard and fast rules on what I do and dont buy but I suffer from a lot of stress and anxiety and what I buy fluctuates, obviously I never buy absolutly batterd in crap for loads of money, but sometimes I will grab a cheap game I dont even need, sometimes I will grab a second copy of a game I own just because its cheap I am feeling low and I need the little pick me up purchasing it will provide. I never pay over the odds for anything and I always figure that I can always sell a little bit of stuff if money is ever tight. Recently I have started trying to be harsher with myself trying to hold the purchasing desires in check and I think I have been doing a decent job of it, sure you will still see that I buy quiet a bit every month but its the things I dont buy that have increased, I try as much as I can to fight the urges to spend so that I control the hobby and the hobby doesnt control me.

I do have a lot of hard and fast rules that I am not trying to complete any set of games largly because I dont want to feel forced into a corner where I have to pay a crazy amount for something that is basically regarded as being a great big turd. I grudgingly admit I already have enough stuff sat in cupboards seldom even looked at without adding to the pile by adding stuff I dont even really want to look at.

A lot of people will note that I seldom sell or even trade games and this is still true, mostly because a lot of the businesses which operate in game trading operate by really ripping people off but I have at times been very generous. I gave a coworker a megadrive, a master system 2 and a playstation and a few games for free because I could see someone who had a simmilar sort of drive and intrest in the hobby as I did but had not really started collecting. I lost heart in this though as I had given him a fair few N64 carts, nothing that great or valuable but just a few things to get him going and then he ended up spending a lot of money on drinking and found himself short of his rent and food money and he sold the N64 with the games I had given him as well because of this. This is after I had lent him little bits of cash here and there in order to make it to his next rent day without having to miss meals or face too much hardship.  This had a pretty bad effect on me and has made me less likly to give people stuff in the future. Although I did recently get given a great game for free by someone from a new forum I am on and that does make me want to see if I have any bits and pieces I can offer up to others on there to sort of keep the spirit going

Monday, 13 November 2017

Antibullying week

So it's antibullying week and I felt compelled to post about it as it's a topic very close to my heart. I was bullied a fair bit as a kid and this has always made me want to reach out and help others, to try and make it better for them. To this end I took on two voluntary jobs as a mentor for young people who were bullied and/or who sufferd from mental health issues. I donated both my time and money to the cause. I talked to a lot of young bullied kids and did my best to try to help them both to feel better and also to better there situation, it was some of the most rewarding, worthwhile and challenging work I have ever done in my life. The thing is though not only did I make other people's lives better but through doing this I helped myself.

I can remember the first ever time I was actually aware that someone  was being bullied, I'm sure it had proberbly happend before then but I had been too young and too self absorbed to notice it. The first time I saw someone being bullied and knew enough to know they were being bullied and that it was wrong I would have been around 6. It was a girl and I think her name was Ruth. She was in my class at school and she had epilepsy (something I have) she had seizures during the day and she had sufferd some at school and other kids were basically calling her a spastic and a mongaloid and various other hurtful things and while I knew this was wrong and knew enough to realise that I shouldnt do this I basically stood by and ignored it. I ignored it because I was epileptic but at the time was fortunate enough to only have fits from a sleeping state at least as far as anyone knew and I didnt want to be treated in the same way as this girl. This deeply effected me not only did it cause me to hide my epilepsy from people as much as I could for years but I also felt a lot of guilt for letting someone else be mistreated when I could have stood up for them.

I was scared that just like the girl I had seen being bullied that I would be bullied for being diffrent and the honest truth is a few years later I was badly bullied for being diffrent for a completely seperate reason. The thing I have learned the most as an adult which I try to take forwards and teach to other people is that there is no shame in being diffrent, the very fact that so many of us are so diffrent in so many fantastic ways is one of the things that makes the world a bright and intresting place. So much of the time people are told to knuckle down, to fly straight and to live up to expectations essentially to be normal and to fit into a mould but the real truth is that those who really go far are those who fly without limits those who chase there dreams who soar and plummet and twist and barrel role and I think the key to this is in excepting your diffrences and in ignoring those who want to pin you down to hold you back to stop you from gliding amongst the clouds.

So how did helping others who had been bullied help me? It helped me to better love myself, to forgive myself for past wrongs (such as not stepping in to help the girl being bullied when I was 6) it made me feel like a better, stronger person, it gave me an improved sense of self worth and it helped me to see a better side of life, a side where if we all stopped and helped each other just a little bit we could make things better for everyone. My charity work also had the very pleasent effect of helping to round out my CV and helped me get new paid employment, which certainly helps me to have the time and resources to keep posting on here.

I am talking about this during Antibullying week as I want to try and inspire my fellow man/woman to try to do the same, no you dont have to run out and work for a charity or even donate to a charity just stop and think about those around you, throw out a compliment or a kind word, pass on some good will and tell others to keep passing it on. If you have children in your life though be you a mum or dad or grandma or auntie or uncle or god parent just take a moment to talk to the young people in your life and get the message out to them, treat others as you would wish to be treated and dont be scared of diffrences, try to be kind and in this way through small good deeds, kindness and acceptance help to make the world a better place for all of us.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Talking about the leaked N64 Mini game list

OK so the SNES mini classic hasnt really been out that long but recently we had what could best be called an indirect confirmation of a N64 Classic Edition, now on top of that it seemed that there was a list of potential games.This list came from the fact that someone noticed a list of 19 N64 manuals which were available for download on Nintendos website. 19 seemed like a workable number given the fact  the mini NES had 30 and the SNES mini had 2. Apparently though after everyone got excited it was pointed out that  this list of games simply coincides with the previously released catalog of N64 Wii U Virtual Console titles in the UK. So most likly this list was just a hold over from that but I would argue that if they had these games up and working on the Wii U virtual console via emulation and have all the rights for them then odds are good that a lot of them if not all of them have a high chance of ending up on a Mini N64 So I will list them and then talk about the choices.

  • 1080° Snowboarding
  • Bomberman 64
  • Donkey Kong 64
  • Excitebike 64
  • F-Zero X
  • Mario Golf
  • Mario Kart 64
  • Mario Party 2
  • Mario Tennis
  • Paper Mario
  • Pokémon Snap
  • Sin and Punishment
  • Super Mario 64
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  • Wave Race 64
  • Yoshi's Story
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
  • Star Fox 64
Well I kind of think we would be lucky to get 19 games in all honesty, look at it this way the 8bit machine had 30 games the 16bit dropped to 21 so to only drop to 19 would be pretty good really. I know that when it comes to the N64 Rare were pretty much as important as Nintendo themselves, a lot of Rare's games like Golden Eye and Banjo Kazooie are rememberd just as fondly and seen as arguable being just as important a part of the N64 Experiance as Mario and Zelda. Pretty much everyone knows that Rare is owned by Microsoft though so that stops most of them from being used (Donkey Kong 64 is an exception as Nintendo own the rights to it).

All things considerd though when you look at the above list of games I think it touches all major bases you have Mario 64 so Mario's platformer on the system, you have Kirby 64 so Kirbys N64 game, Star Fox 64, both of the Zelda games as previously mentioned Donkey Kong 64. The list is very Mario heavy what with there being paper mario (the mario RPG for N64) Mario Tennis, Mario party 2 and Mario Kart64 but then there is seldom a bad Mario game so its not really anything to moan about. The thing is that unlike the SNES and NES where 3rd party support was very strong it largly was Nintendo alone who kept the N64 alive and kicking so its not surprising that a possible list would be so first party heavy. In honesty though if a Mini N64 did come out and the above list of games was the actual contents of the console then I dont think people would really have much that they could complain about.

Would I buy a Mini N64 with these games on it for £80 though (my guess at the price) I dont know, the thing is I own a few N64's and apart from Paper Mario, Mario Party 2 and Sin and Punishment I actually own all of the titles listed above (and a lot that are not). I guess if there is a mini N64 it will end up being just as hackable as the Mini NES and SNES and you could therefore add the missing Rare games and such. There is one thing that might make me appreciate the Mini N64 though and thats the fact that I could most likly just use the Wii Classic controller on it and as I hate the N64 controller so much this might actually help me to enjoy the games a lot more.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Why I am proud to live with my Dad: Why I shun the stigma of living at home.

I recently read an article about more people living with there parents than before, for once though it was a positive news peice it talked about the advantages. Now I personally liked this article because I live in my father's house, it's me, him and my daughter under one roof togther.  Originally this started as a temporary measure, after being assaulted by my at the time wife I took my child and we moved back in with my mum and dad. It was a tough time for me as I had to attend court to gain permanent custody of my daughter and due to issues related to both the split and my health I was well to put it simply in need of help and support. It started out as a temporary measure, I was going to apply for a flat or a house but then things changed again.

Unfortunately while I was still dealing with court my mother was taken into hospital suddenly and unexpectedly about three weeks latter she passed away. This rocked the whole family, everyone was so upset, myself my daughter and my father all of us worked together to support each other. I love my dad a lot but I'd always had a closer relationship with my mum but in the last few years my dad had been a real rock for me and we had gotten a lot closer now as we supported each other through our pain this bond became even stronger. I had lost my mum but I had gained a better relationship with my dad. This is when I decided I wasn't going to and couldn't move out and leave my dad on his own.

My dad is a very strong and proud man despite having various disabilities, he would never ask for help or admit he needs something and yet he has stood by me and supported me every time I have needed help, so regardless of if he asks for it or not I am going to do the same for him.

I know that it helps my dad not only having me around but also having my daughter around, she may be a teanager now but with age comes it's own issues. She gets as much help and support from him as she does from me and she keeps him nice and busy, she has the benefit of his wisdom and experience and she constantly shows him new things with the fresh perspective of a young whiper snapper.

I suffer with Epilepsy and I have fits and vacancies, I also suffer from stress and anxiety as a result of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and my dad keeps an eye on me, he reminds me to take my pills offers me support if I am feeling ill or worrying but its not just a one way thing. My dad suffers with various issues including a lot of pain in connection to an industrial injury and diabeties, so I keep an eye on him as well, both of us would be a lot more worried about things if we were not toghther. To me this is exactly what family should be and should do.

I know there is a lot of stigma attached to living at home as an adult but I also know that family's come in all shapes and sizes. I know some people think if you live with your parents it's social suicide and that you will never get a date but I don't think it's true. I think if someone is not interested in you because of your particular living arrangements and writes you off because of this without getting to know you then that says a lot more about them than it does about you. When I met my wonderful girlfriend I never hid my living arrangements I let her know who I live with and why and she appreciated how important my family is to me because she loves and values her own, this is one of the many many reasons I love her as much as I do and part of why I see her as part of my family.

People are too quick not only to pick on others but to beat themselves up abouty all manner of things nowdays from living arrangments to type of employment to physical attributes and its something which needs to be curbed were possible as life is hard enough with out all of this shit. If you enjoy how you live be it with friends, family, a partner or on your own if it is what is currently best for you, best for your health, for your needs then dont let anyone put you down for it, life is hard enough as it is and you need to do anything you can to make it easier to enjoy your life and if you can help someone else at the same time then all the better.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Pokemon the Movie: I choose You! Review

So on the 5th of November I went to the Cinema with my daughter to see Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! So this is going to be a short  review of the film. Now its important to note that despite not saying everything that happens in this film, there will be spoilers here. First things first despite being something like the 20th Pokemon movie this film is actually an origin story essentially retelling the early days of Ash's Pokemon adventure, including Ash & Pikachu's first meeting, him getting his Caterpie, it growing up, him getting Charmander and it evolving, this makes this film very much a reimagining of some of Ash's earliest days.The retread nature of this film might make you love it because it hits many of those warm and fuzzy moments from your childhood all over again or it might make you hate it as it basically tells a whole new story just with certain key elements still in tact. It is a little like I went and told someone what happend in the first year or so of Pokemon and they decided to remake it just with notes from what I had said and then there own imagination filling in the blanks.

The problem is one moment this film delighted me by reminding me of all the good times I had watching the show but then it went on to simply piss me off because it had essentially rewritten Pokemon history, Brock and Misty have been tossed aside and replaced by two diffrent trainers who are pretty decent but still I couldnt help but miss Brock and Misty. Ash and Pickachu's interations and relationship stayed pretty much the same and this made it a darn cute film for young kids, there was some adorable shouting from the smaller members of the audience who got worried for the pair but some of my favourate Pokemon and moments were missing, I got to see Charmander and his various evolutions but  Ash never got a Squirtle, yes they still had the old bye bye butterfree moment from the series in it and well I am sure something got in my eye during that part,it wasnt tears from a fully grown man honestly it wasnt.

 The cinema release of this film was extremly limited but I am sure it will make its way to disc soon, wether you should get it or not depends on a bunch of things one of them is how much you care about the original series and wether your willing to see a slightly diffrent version of the tale. If your the kind of person who goes in to a white rage when something you love is changed and you had a lot of fondness for the old Pokemon episodes then you might want to save yourself the trouble of watching this because it could send you into the kind of white hot rage you see from the Han shot first StarWars crowd, but if your willing to enjoy a slightly diffrent version of events or just want something thats decent to put on in front of the kids then this film gets a thumbs up from me.

Just to end this, Yes Han shot first and missing out the Squirtle Squad is a crime against nature.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Is it worth getting a Switch yet?

Well I got asked recently by someone if they should buy a switch for there kid and I quickly found myself saying no. Now I got a Switch on release, I also got a Wii on release and a GameCube a week after release but I just find it hard to support the Switch too strongly right now. 

I was sat one night in front of my laptop thinking how little I had used my switch and how few games I had, so I started looking online at games that were already out and stuff that was coming out soon, I basically wanted to see if there was anything that could get me using my machine a little bit more. I saw 3 games which were either just out or coming out soon the cheapest of which I could find for £23.99, now considering the fact some of the Switch games are more around the £50 mark this didn't seem too bad but then latter on I happened to look at what was on sale on the Microsoft Xbox under the deals of the week heading and that is when I saw something that shocked me a lot. I saw 3 of the games I had been looking at for the switch and here they were on sale on the Xbox One all available now 2 of them for only £6 and the third for only £10. So I could either buy all 3 of these for £22 or spend like £70 or more to get them for the switch.

One of the Games was a driving game called Monster Jam Crush It which is not out on the switch here until the 14th of November yet here I am playing it now for £6. It is not just stuff like this though Switch users are being sold stuff I have been playing for ages on other platforms for lots of money as if its new, I am talking about Doom and Skyrim for a start, yes they are good games but there old games now and I cant help but feel like you take away the old over priced stuff and you take away most of the Switches library. If you are thinking about getting a switch then you need to think about the exclusives such as Mario Odyssey, Zelda breathe of the wild, Mario and Rabbids kingdom battle.

I think if you should get a Switch or not depends heavily on how much you want to play Nintendo's first party games, if you really want these then buy a Switch but for general gaming you can proberbly get a lot of the other stuff cheaper elsewere.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Microsofts Xbox One is now backwards backwards compatable kind of..... (Some Xbox games are now playable on the Xbox One)

Towards the end of 2015 Microsoft idea of Xbox engineering boss Mike Ybarra broached the subject of making original Xbox games playable on the Xbox One through backwards compatibility he said that the feature hadnt been ruled out, but that we shouldn't expect it to come anytime soon. Well I guess if he was right or not depends largly on your definition of soon as now towards the end of 2017 we now have original Xbox games on the Xbox one through backwards compatability.

Xbox One backwards compatibility works by emulating the Xbox 360 operating system and then running the games through this apparently, well after having tried one of the Xbox original games on the Xbox one it would appear that they are doing the exact same thing as when you go to play the game you see the original Xbox start up screen.

Currently there are only 7 original xbox games in my country at least which are on the list of those which are currently playable via the Xbox one, and there are basically two ways to play them. One is you simply buy them on the Xbox store and the other is if you have a copy of the disc you can put that in. If you put the original disc in though you dont actually play the game of the disk, the disk simply proves that you own it, you are then allowed to download it but can only play it while the disk is in the slot, still its great that they have made it work in this way because if you have the game your not forced to pay for it again and even if you dont have the disk you can look if its cheaper to source a copy before paying for it digitally.

So far the original xbox games are Black, Ninja Gaiden Black, Crimson Skies, Fusion Frenzy, Psychonauts,  Sid Meiers Pirates, and Grabbed By The Ghoulies. Now with the exception of  Fusion Frenzy I think they are all darn fine games some of the best from the machine. I would argue that now you can buy Rare Replay which features Grabbed by the Ghoulies and a whole other bunch of games its a bit of a redundant purchase but I guess if you have it laying around then its free and you cant complain about free. For those of us who collect old games though this is a great thing, it might not be a lot of games now but it will be great to see which games end up on the list. I have noticed while looking up Knights of the old Republic that game is also on the xbox store and you can buy it to play on your Xbox one, I have this game on disc but I havent gotten round to trying it yet.

I have tried Crimson Skies though and it worked a treat, I enjoyed playing it again and it ran perfectly, if every single game runs like this then it will be awesome. So I guess the last thing to say is what games would I like to see on the list next right? Well I am going to do that but I am going to stick to games which already appeared on the list of Xbox original games that you could play on the Xbox 360 as well I think these are the most likly ones we will see.

  • Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
  • Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II
  • The Bard's Tale
  • Blinx: The Time Sweeper
  • Blinx 2: Masters of Time & Space
  • Blood Omen 2
  • Brute Force
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
  • Burnout
  • Burnout 2
  • Burnout 3: Takedown
  •  Conker: Live and Reloaded 
  • Dead or Alive 3
  • Dead or Alive Ultimate
  • DOOM 3
  • EA SPORTS Fight Night Round 3
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  • Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick
  • Evil Dead: Regeneration
  • Fable
  • Fatal Frame
  • Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly DIRECTOR'S CUT
  • Future Tactics: The Uprising
  • Genma Onimusha
  • Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee
  • Godzilla: Save The Earth
  • GoldenEye: Rogue Agent
  • Grand Theft Auto: 3
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Indigo Prophecy
  • Jade Empire
  • JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future
  • Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis 
The truth is that I could go on and on listing games I would like to see on backwards compatability but the fact I have already made quiet a bit list very quickly shows that there is a good catalog of games for them to pick from. Part of the fun though will be to see what comes up as playable in the future and run to my retro game collection to see if I have a copy of it sat there.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Retro Game purchases: October 2017

My first retro purchase of the month was on Tuesday October the 3rd. I had been to work and was about to go to my girlfriends house to feed her cats, she had taken ill and was in hospital, and I had visited the day before but basically I had a lot of time to kill before visiting hours so decided to hit a few shops before going to feed the cats and I walked into a Cash Generator store. They had a cart only copy of Teenage mutant Hero Turtles 4: Turtles in time for the Super Nintendo (pal version)and they wanted £40 for it. As I visit the shop quiet often and do spend a fair amount of money there I managed to talk them down to £30. I got it with the full intention of playing it that very night  but something even better happend that afternoon my girlfriend was let out of hospital so I took her home and spent the night cuddled up with her instead (happily playing turtles a few nights latter).

The following day the 4th I popped into an indy store on my way home and grabbed nba jam tournament edition boxed complete for SNES for £9, GP-1 for SNES cart onyl for £5 and Tetris cart only for gameboy for £2

On the 6th of October I got something in the post, I got Super Genjin (Bonk) for the Super Famicom cart only for £5 (including postage), I was happy to get this as its something I have seen a lot of but havent had much opportunity to play up until it arrived at least.

On the 8th I went to a local indy shop and I got Equinox cart only for SNES for £5 and Bomberman Hero cart only for N64 £8, its more than I usually spend on N64 games but if I think a game is worth it and its the right game then I will pay a bit more and I am a big fan of the Bomberman franchise so I guess thats what pushed me to go a bit higher.
On October the 9th Plok for the SNES cart only arrived in the mail, it had cost me £5 including postage, which in honest I think is a great price for any none sports Super Nintendo game to be honest. I also went in to a local indy shop and got Phantasy Star portable, Dark Stalkers the chaos tower and Final Fantasy Tactics all for psp all complete for £15.  I think its prime PSP buying time really as a lot of places deem it sort of too old to bother with but yet not old enough to have reached that deeply desirable stage, but its going to get there given time I am sure.

On the 13th of October I had Spiderman and the Xmen Arcades Revenge (American) boxed for the SNES arrive in the post, it cost me £9 including postage. I wanted to get this as it is something I had as a kid, it wasnt a favourate of mine or anything but it was something I had put some time into and I wanted to take a look at it again.
I actually had a bit of a pause then as it wasnt until the 18th when I got my next games, I got Desert Fighter for the SNES cart only for £5 and World League Soccer Snes NTSC American cart only for £3 both of them were games I had puchased online and both were sold with free postage

On the 20th on the way home from work I popped into CEX and grabbed Extreme G cart only for N64 for £1.50 and Top Gear Rally cart only for N64 £1.50, both of them are pretty darn decent games but yeah they are usually cheap when you see them.

On the 23rd I got a few more games through the post I got Pugsleys Scavenger hunt for SNES cart only for £5 and Fighters Destiny for N64 cart only for £2 both games were with free postage which strikes me as strange as that means the seller must have made more or less nothing on Fighters Destiny.

On the 24th I went to a local indy shop that I havent visited in quiet a long time, while there I picked up sonic rivals for psp complete for £3, crazy taxi fare wars complete for psp for £2, Simpsons hit and run (players choice version) complete for gamecube for £2, Ice Age 2 the meltdown complete for gamecube for £1, Harvest Moon a wonderful life (players choice version) complete for gamecube for £6, Sega game pack 4 in 1 cart only for gamegear £1 and freedom wings cart only for ds 50pence.

I also visited a charity shop just down the road from the above shop and picked up International cricket captain 3, dynasty warriors 2 and dynasty warriors 3 extreme legends complete for ps2 for £1 for all 3.
On the 26th I went into a charity shop where I got wwe raw for xbox complete for 50p, brute force for xbox complete for 50p, prince of persia sands of time for xbox complete for 50pence and Myst 3 exile for xbox complete for 5opence

Then I noticed a box of stuff on the floor in the same shop, it was apparently not for sale yet but I made them an offer for it and so I got all of the following for £20 Final Fantasy IX complete, Final Fantasy VIII (Platinum edition) complete, Resident evil directors cut complete, Resident evil 2 complete, Resident evil 3 Nemesis missing manual, Tomb raider (platinum edition) complete, Tomb Raider 2 complete Syphon Filter 2 missing manual, Monsters inc scare Island complete and then the following games disc only in a black disc box. xmen mutant academy 2, tomb raider revelations, driver, driver 2 (both discs), syphon filter, syphon filter 3, dino crisis, dino crisis 2,worlds scariest police chases, medal of honour,smackdown 2,colony wars red sun. There was also an xbox 360 disc for resident evil 5 with them as well and a pc disk for starwars rebel assault. The shop said they would have sold the games at £2 a piece after having gone through them and having chucked all of the loose discs into the bin. So I feel really happy about this as not only did I get some games I really wanted but I also saved perfectly good condition game discs from being trashed and part of the reason I am so into retro games and consoles is the preservation of them so I hate to think of games or machines getting thrown away and I helped to stop it happening here.

On the 27th I went in to a charity shop and managed to get the following from there, Loco Roco 2 for PSP complete for £1, Syphon Filter Omega Strain for ps2 complete for £1,Ecco The Dolphin defender of the future for ps2 complete for £1,Crash Bandicoot the wrath of Cortex (platinum edition) for ps2 complete for £1,Mafia for Xbox complete for £1, Toy Story for megadrive complete for £1, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle complete for Gamecube for £1 and Space Invaders complete for PS1 for £1. I guess my favouate purchase of all of these was Toy Story, after all its not like you find megadrive stuff cheap all that often.
On the 29th I went into a local CEX and grabbed Kingdom hearts birth by sleep special edition for psp complete for £8 I was pretty surprised at this price seeing as it had all the special edition stuff still with it. I also went into a charity shop and grabbed  Formel 1 98 for Playstation complete for £1 (the weird spelling is what it says on the box as I guess its not english),Super Monkey Ball Deluxe for ps2 complete for £1, and Wolfenstein tired of war for xbox complete for £1.

On the 30th  I went into a local cex and noticed a copy of Parasite Eve 2 complete for the PS1 for £15 I asked to have a look at it to see what condition it was in and I was very very happy with it as it looked completely brand new and so I purchased it.

On the 31st I ended the month by buying  buffy the vampire slayer (classics version) complete for xbox for £1, Burnout 3 Takedown complete for xbox for £1, WWF Warzone complete for PS1 for £1 and Men in Black complete for PS1 for £1
So total for the month I spent £187.50 which feels like a heck of a lot but I kind of am not that surprised when my first purchase out of the gate was a £30 purchase, my first purchase was possibly one of if not my favourate as its a game I enjoyed a lot as a kid and that I have wanted back for a long time, I have seen it go for a lot more and so I had sort of given up on the idea of ever getting it. I also have to admit to being really happy about my £20 lot of playstation games partly because I think I got a lot for my money but also because I am very happy to have gotten Dino Crises 2 even if it is only a disc. I imagine that as Christmas gets closer and closer I will have to spend money on other things, there are also a lot of modern games coming up which intrest me so I think this might be this years last big retro hurrah.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

How From Dusk Till Dawn was nearly Tales from the Crypt presents: From Dusk Till Dawn

OK so I have previously talked about both Tales from the Crypt films and Tales from the Crypt films that were planned to at least some degree but never came to be. This kind of leaves me with a Third type of Tales from the Crypt film to talk about and thats films which ended up being made which were at one point going to be Tales from the Crypt movies but for one reason or another by the time they were released they had lost the connection. One of these films I want to talk about is Dusk Till Dawn.

The story is that From Dusk Till Dawn was originally planned as the follow-up to Tales From The Crypt Presents: Demon Knight, but due to disagreements with the producers, Tarantino and Rodriguez took the film elsewhere. I think it is intresting to know that From Dusk Till Dawn was nearly a Tales from the Crypt film, and its also intresting to think about how things could have been diffrent.

Ok so if you havent seen From Dusk Till Dawn my first question for you is why not? I am not reviewing it here but its a bloody fantastic film and if you havent seen it yet then you should rectify that right away. If you havent seen it though I am going to essentially spoil it so you might not want to finish reading this post. Dusk Till Dawn has that kind of Tales from the Crypt quality in that it has Vampires and horror but also mixes this with a certain amount of humour and whackyness. There are a few things about it that are very unlike Tales from the Crypt for me. Tales from the crypt has monsters and even criminals like bank robbers but it has this sort of sense of morality to it, a sort of twisted morality at times but morality all of the same, this is not something I feel can be said about Dusk Till Dawn. The person who I would call the main hero of Dusk Till Dawn is a  wanted criminal a criminal who is not affraid to kill people, to take people hostage, sure he kills Vampires but he is only really doing it to survive, at the end of the film he not only walks away free he walks away with money and heads towards a new life in Mexico.

Like I have already said I think that Dusk Till Dawn certainly feels like it could exist within the Tales from The Crypt Universe but I think its proberbly a good thing that it didnt end up being a Tales film, both Bordello of blood and Dusk Till Dawn came out in 1996 and I enjoyed both of them. With the two films being vampire based I think if Dusk had been a Tales of film then it would have simply killed Bordello, they are too simmilar to exist togther under the same brand name. I also think that both Tarantino and Rodriquez do there best work when they are messed with as little as possible, in fact I would say that most films come out there best when someone can get as much of there original vision up on the screen as they can and if there had already been a disagreement with the producers in the early stages it proberbly would have only gotten worse. So I think things proberbly worked out for the best all round.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Mindfullness Two: Talking about my own experiances with mental health issues. The Robbery

Last time I talked about Mindfullness I talked about my earliest experiances of anxiety and stress I talked about the things I went through due to bullying and studying, I also talked about how I had found video games to be a useful tool in helping me deal with my mental health issues.

Well I would like to say that everything from the moment school finished onwards was absolutly hunky dory but well to put it simply I went through quite a bit of crap like being hit by a hit and run driver, being attacked by a guy in a bus station and having two guys try to rob me with a knife all within a few years. A lot of these things caused me a lot of stress and certainly put a strain on my mental health but there was an event that would prove to be the real turning point not only for my mental health but in my life in general. I was working in a pub, it was long unsociable hours, I would get home and my partner at the time would be asleep but I would be too stressed from my job to sleep, so I would need to spend time unwinding and most of the time this would be by gaming. I would walk in the door kiss my daughter on the head and then play a few games until I wound down enough to sleep. It was just like a way to get some of my energy out of me, I would loose all of the stress and anxiety, id pump everything I was feeling into the games to the point where I would start to calm down enough to sleep. What I want to talk about next though is very senstivie and well it might be disturbing to some readers, I feel it is important to talk about these kinds of things but also feel I need to warn that it could be upseting to some.
One day I was at work, I had been trying to get promoted, I was also at university at the time and I knew that I didn’t have long left. I didn’t want to be one of those uni students who gets a degree and then just tries to use it to become a manager without having worked all of the way up, without having earned it through hard work. I had managed to become a supervisor but in order to be accepted as a manager one of the things you had to do where I worked was to be able to work in the kitchen successfully. Now I hated the kitchen it was very tough and demanding work, so my credit to anyone who does this kind of work on a regular basis but I certainly found it hard.

I was up in the kitchen one night and I had cooked all night, and had managed it quiet well especially considering my hatred for that particular work and environment. I had cleaned everything up and went through the whole shut down process making sure everything was turned off, checked and double checked, I had taken fridge and freezer temperatures, everything was perfect so its safe to say I felt exhausted but satisfied. I got the rubbish in bags and walked it out, throwing it in the trash. I could have just left then and there having finished my job, but decided that to be nice I would go through to the bar area and I would help them close down. I really used to have this idea that everyone was in it together, sure sometimes the job could be hell but we were all in it together, almost everyone leaned on everyone else for support, our mutual hatred of rude customers and upper management held us together like a firm glue.

I walked through from the back of house to front of house and there was a sudden flash of pain. I had been hit across the side of my head with a crow bar, I could feel the pain explode through my head, my vision blurred for a second and then a buzzing noise began to come from somewhere deep inside my head. I began to gain awareness of my surroundings again and I could tell I was surrounded by 5 or 6 guys, all of them were wearing Halloween style president masks. Before I could do anything else I was hit with crow bars again and again from various directions, in the end I took about 6 hits to my head. I never passed out but things got increasingly hazy from then on.

Somehow I made it from where I was to the bar, I kind of felt my way and crawled along the bar to behind it, and I ended up on the ground in the corner under the coffee machine. I could feel blood dripping from my head, luckily I had been wearing a leather cap to keep my hair covered and it seemed to have at least helped a bit. There were two girls behind the bar one was about 2 years older than me the other was maybe 5. It had become a robbery and hostage situation all in one. In the middle of this one of the robbers decided that he wanted to rape one of the girls, I got up stood in the way and pretty much suggested that it would happen over my dead body, this resulted in me receiving a punch to the mouth which cracked one of my wisdom teeth in half. It was all a blur from then on, but thankfully my intervention had been enough to stop someone getting raped, they left with the money and they were never caught. After being punched in the face I remember basically collapsing in the corner underneath the coffee machine. I was in a sitting position holding on to the walls because everything felt like it was spinning. I could feel my consciousness trying to escape from me part of me wanted to pass out and I could feel blood trickling down my head from underneath my hat. The only thing that kept going through my head was the fact that I didnt want to die because I wanted to see my daughter grow up, it seems silly to me now but at the time it felt like if I let myself pass out I would die. Of the two girls behind the counter with me the older one was the furthest away from me I can remember her crying and going on about how we were all going to die, she certainly didn't help matters. The other girl though had actually gone to school with me and was a few years above me, I remember her asking me quietly if I was all right, she actually seemed to be more concerned about me than herself and this is something that I will never forget, I remember telling her I was OK and not to worry but it was a complete lie for her sake. I didn't want her to get upset, I just wanted her to stay calm and stay still and stay safe.

When the robbers had left before the police arrived I remember pulling myself up of the floor and I actually walked across to where we keep the cutlery and I sat down and began to polish and wrap it, as well that's one of the tasks you do at the end of the night before everyone goes home. I never thought about calling an ambulance or about treating this as a big deal in anyway at all but when the police arrived they called an ambulance which came and fetched me. I remember arriving at hospital and sitting in the Emergency waiting room. I looked around the room seeing lots of other people there and then I looked to the telephone. It was very late at night and at the time me and my partner and child lived at my parents house, I knew that if my mum woke up at any point and found I hadn't gotten home that she would panic. I decided that I needed to call home, I needed to call home but let them know what had happened but try to make it not sound like a big deal. This in itself was terrifying how do you call your mum and dad and go ''hey I just got beaten in the head and I am in hospital so if I am late home don't worry about it''? I called and thankfully I got my dad, I remember playing it all casual like yeah I have been hit and I am in the hospital but I am cool, don't worry about it I will be home when I am home but bless my dad he knew better than to tell me he was coming and give me chance to argue, he just came down anyway and waited with me.

When I got seen it turned out that all I had was surface wounds on my head, I didn't need any stitches and instead I got given a pamphlet on concisions and got told I would be allowed to go home as long as there were people there to look after me. It turned out I had basically been saved by two factors one I was wearing a leather baseball cap which had slightly cushioned the blows but I also apparently have a super tough and thick skull.

I was off for a month and I was only getting very limited sick pay so I pulled out my old consoles and began to play on them and something about them touched me, they took me back to a simpler time, back to my childhood and in a time when I felt the most vulnerable in my life they actually made things seem a little bit safer, they added some normality to a very horrible and strange time. From that point on I began to spend more money on retro games, I began to talk more to other people online, but I also realised that I was living in an awful marriage. My partner never seemed to care about what had happened to me, she didn’t support me, my mother and father were the ones who were there for me, the ones who helped me try and piece myself back together. I remember that I initially tried to go back to work about 2 weeks after the event but I couldn't manage it, they kept trying to give me night shifts including on the same night of the week it had happened and I kept having these awful panic attacks where I would literally end up in the corner rocking and panicking. It felt so dehumanising, I kept thinking I am supposed to be a man, I am not supposed to be scared of anything. I felt guilty and I hated myself not only did I allow them to beat me up without hitting any of them back but now I was worried about returning to the place where it had happened, it wasn't just that I didn't want to go to work, if I could help it I didn't really want to leave my house. Work made no real effort to help ease me back in to work but when I had returned they made me go see a psychiatrist/psychologist he turned out to be a weird guy in a private house. I went to one session where he started by making me talk about the robbery but he then went on to ask me about my penis, my childhood, if I had any childhood traumas and to inform me that the company was paying the bill so I could come as much as I want and talk about any problems I had ever had with anything as he was cool with that as it would get him a bunch of money. This was my first experience of a mental health professional and it was an awful one which at the time seriously put me off them.

The return to work wasn't a good one and it wasn't really something I should have done but I kept telling myself that I needed to push forward and that if I ran from this job I would be allowing myself to be a coward, I kept telling myself that I needed to face it down. I was determined that I would still continue my quest to become a manager despite the fact that an area manager openly told me to my face that I was mentally damaged now and would therefore never make a good manager. I didn't have my branch managers confidence either she actively tried to bloke my progression as much as possible, I pushed for every promotion I wanted going above her. I could feel the stress mounting up and I tried my best to slow it down as much as I could. When I was going through bad periods and didn't think I could take any more pressure I would fail tests which I needed to pass in order to slow down my progress until I could deal with it. I had to deal with people belittling my failure doubting my intelligence and pushing there superiority in my face. Occasionally I would feel my mental health slip, I would find myself struggling and I would either use holiday time or sick time blaming viruses and such for my time off. It always seemed a lot easier to claim I was physically ill instead of mentally, you tell people you feel bad they ask you questions you tell them you have food poisoning or something else physical and they simply don't question it. I started to experience things which I latter learned to be part of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I would see what had happened during the robbery when I closed my eyes, I began to have nightmares about it, some of them were just like films with the events playing out beat for beat me reliving it unable to escape, others would deviate from the plot in a variety of ways. Soon I began to consider any dream that even featured that setting a nightmare as I would wake up in pools of perspiration. I began to hear this noise and to feel disorientated when I heard it, it was the sound one of the crowbar strikes had made when it had hit me across my ear, I would hear the noise and I would feel the pain as if the pain itself was travelling through time to make me suffer. It became hard to relax, hard to enjoy the better parts of life but after awhile it kind of became normal and I learned to deal with it. My life wasn't a good one but it was what it needed to be to keep putting food on my daughters table.

I managed to keep my mental health just about in line for quiet a number of years, sure I was suffering but I was also coping and I was also managing to keep it hidden from the vast majority of people and managing to do pretty much everything everyone expected of me. This is when I started getting a lot of allergic reactions. I went through this period of getting an allergic reaction and having my throat close or eyes swell more or less every other day for about 4 weeks and then I ended up at hospital. I was eventually diagnosed with Angiodema and Ulteceria, the doctor told me it was stress and he gave me his opinion that it was because I was under massive stress and that if I didn't do something to lower this stress I would be dead in 6 months time. So what did I do well I stuck my head down and went back to work and tried to carry on. I was the deputy manager at work by this point and I had done all of my paperwork and exams to take it to the next level all I needed was for my complete totally correct work book to be signed by someone higher than me. We had a new area manager and basically he refused to sign it, my boss had cried to him about how hard her life was and he took her side. She was one of those bosses who basically does nothing makes those below her do there work and her work but then tries to make out she is the only one who really works hard. The robbery had happened on a Sunday night and I had managed through talking to some of the past area managers and through getting really good and stock counting to not work many Sunday nights, on the occasions were I had to work them I would be in a state of panic from the moment I saw the rota until the point when I returned home with that shift done and out of the way. The thing is that my brain would tell me that if I worked on a Sunday night it would happen again the robbery the beating and to me the idea of that seemed worse than anything worse than dying even. My boss had convinced the new area manager that she shouldn't have to work Sunday nights she had convinced him that I should work all of them. I worked quiet a few of them and I even ran the whole pub several times while she was on holiday but the stress began to mount and mount.

I didn't know the moment that my time in that job would end. I thought I would work there until it killed me, it was a cultural thing I guess. I had always thought that a man provides for his children and that he pays his mortgage and that if he cant do these things then he isent a man. So when I went to the Doctors one day I didn't intend to stop working I went for help to cope. The Doctor wasn't actually much help but he did write me a sick note but I said something in his office which caused him to contact something called Crisis Team. Crisis Team are a mental health service called in when there is a concern that you might try to hurt yourself or attempt to commit suicide, I hadn't threatened to do that but I had threatened to jump down the stairs legs first in an effort to break my legs so that I didn't have to work. I am not sure if I had said it seriously or in jest to be totally honest but I do know that they idea had crossed my mind. This began a process where I was sent to various Therapists for assessment and it was determined that I had developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which for those who don’t know is basically when a traumatic situation keeps replaying in your mind, you can hear things and see things that happened before and you can feel the feelings. This diagnosis itself actually explained a lot it explained the noises I had heard, the things I had seen it reassured me that I wasn't crazy, I just had a problem.

I had to stop work and I had to see a specialist Trauma Therapist. Part of my therapy involved having to talk about what had happened to me in great detail but after in order to calm yourself and try to leave in an OK mood and not leave the therapy upset you had to have a happy place. A happy place was a place you went to in your mind where you felt safe and well happy. My happy place was in my bedroom playing Super Mario World on my Snes, jumping on dinosaurs, collecting power ups and finding hidden secrets. I owe the game so much, it was there for me. During this period I didn’t leave my house much except to go to therapy. I sat and played my games, worked on my systems and tried to put my head back together. One of the only things that could get me out of the house was the idea of visiting a market or a retro store chasing the various games. I had decided that I wanted to collect old games and that the real thrill of the chase for it was getting a game cheap, it gave me a purpose when all other purposes seemed to have dissapeared. I got lots of SNES games and megadrive games and for prices which compared to now were for virtually nothing. I didn’t have a lot of friends after this everyone seemed to be too worried that they would say the wrong thing or they were just far more interested in getting drunk than in offering anyone a helping hand or a bit of their time. I had my games and my daughter, my X wife would go see her friends and leave me to struggle, she got increasingly mean to me even telling me that she wished I would die so I wasn’t in her way. My games became my friends, my games became my lifeline. I cant say that the therapy cured me, I don't think you are ever cured of something like this, but it helped me put it in to perspective. My poor mental health led to my wife leaving me and me becoming a single parent but this was a good thing, no partner is always better than an unsupportive one.

Since then I have gone on to do a few different jobs sure none of them have been high flying but I have managed to work at keeping myself together at trying to enjoy my free time. My wants and perspectives have changed significantly, I now work shorter hours and concentrate more on trying to be happy and trying to make sure my daughter is happy than on trying to have an important career. For me I view mental health as something you need to constantly work on, you need to take time for yourself and you need to try to be open, if you need help ask for help but also look at those around you and help those who need it. I think that in telling the full story I have kind of come full circle. I can never get rid of or change what happened to me nor can I change what it has done to me as a person. No I can only accept it and keep moving forwards, keep trying to stay as healthy as possible and a large part of that is by stopping and appreciating the little things be they a good book or a darn good game. Video Games get a lot of bad press but I know that if it wasn't for games then I probably wouldn't be here, they provided a life line for me when I needed it the most.

I still have moments now and then when it all feels too much when it overwhelms me and I fear I could slip back to how it was before, that the depression, anxiety and panic attacks could take over again and I think this is most likely something that I will have to deal with until the day that I die. I still make my self little deals if you can do this thing you don't want to do then you can buy this game you want, if you do this then you can go look in this games store and look at what they have in the retro section. I don't know if this kind of self bribing is a good thing or not but I know it does the trick. I know that I am not the only one who has to deal with stuff like this but by sharing my story I hope that I can reach other people who have suffered in similar ways and let them know that they are not alone.

Monday, 23 October 2017

SNES Review 133: The Adams Family

Well it seemed like the right month to do this so you know what game I am going to be talking about right now The Adams Family. Now I have to admit to being a big fan of The Adams Family I think its mostly because of the fact that there is an underlining message to there show and that is that its OK to be diffrent, its OK to like things other people dont, to think things other people dont and to basically be yourself.

Ok so despite what I said about The Addams Family not being afraid to be diffrent the game I am talking about was a movie license turned into a platformer which felt like it was heavily inspired by the Super Mario games. It was based on the 1991 Adams Family film the game was both developed by and published by Ocean Software in 1992. The game was far from a SNES exclusive it was also released for the Master System, Sega Mega Drive / Genesis, Amiga and Atari ST. Yet as a kid this is something I never realised, my first experiance of playing this game was at a friends house but and I guess this will give the end of the review away a little after enjoying it there I went and grabbed myself a second hand copy.

I know that the moment people hear the dreaded term movie license they will feel this little twinge of panic an instant oh no this is going to suck, and a lot of the time. Well this is a trend that Addam's Family sort of breaks. Ok so you play the role of Gomez Adams. All of your family apart from Lurch and Thing  have been kidnapped (The family Butler and a sentient hand for those who arnt in the know about the Adams family).  So basically you as Gomez need to explore your mansion and its grounds so that you can find and rescue your family.  You also need to help Uncle Fester regain his memory (he has amnesia). Yeah the story is not exactly the most amazing but well its enough to base a game on so I wont complain too much.

The game might be a bit short on story but I have to admit that I really enjoy the graphics, yeah they might not exactly be the best on the system but you can certainly tell who everyone is and I really enjoy the cartoonish look, I think it really suits the game, Gomez looks great and has some really cool little animations, as he taps his feet and looks around if you stop playing and just leave him standing there. When you put the graphics with the music it just makes for something a little bit special and yes the theme song is in there its even on the title screen. The game is great at sucking you in and making you want to play it but then there is a slight problem and the problem lies with the gameplay.

So yeah as said earlier the game is a typical platformer with your usual sort of platform rules, for example if you collect 25 coins you get an extra heart and can you guess what happens if you collect 100 yep thats right you get an extra life.You kill enemies by jumping on their heads. You can also get an upgrade that lets you shoot balls, balls which work just a little bit exactly like Mario's  fireballs.  Yeah being in some ways like one of the best games ever is not a bad thing but Adams Family lacks something the Mario games have and thats the tight controls and the pixel perfect hit detection. Gomez is quiet slidy and there are a lot of times when you feel certain you timed a jump just right and yet you still see yourself loose a heart. Its a real shame that Ocean didnt tighten up the controls and the hit detection as even with these issues the game is enjoyable but it could have been even better with just a little bit of work.

The game is quiet challanging and can keep you playing for a long time but unfortunately, much of this challenge comes from the above mentioned control issues which means you can get quiet frustrated with it. There are plenty of secrets for you to go looking for and the game is mostly nonlinear you can rescue your family in any order you like with only one exception you need to rescue Morticia last. I guess this review started off very positivly and it might feel like it is ending on a bit of a bummer but the truth is that this is exactly how I found this game when I replayed it in order to write this review. One minute I was smiling at the music and the little Gomez taping his foot and the next minute I was inventing new swear words and turning the air a whole new shade of blue. For a Movie license its a great game but for a platformer in general its much more 6.5 out of 10 territory, its a fun game which could have been a real contender if it had gotten just a little bit more attention, if some of the collision detection and control based flaws had just been ironed out a bit. Dont get me wrong if you can get a cart of it for under £10 and you have already played the likes of Mario and want a little bit more platforming on your Super Nintendo then go for it, its not a bad game at all, its just well it could have been so much more.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

SNES Review 132: Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade's Revenge

So here I am looking at a cartridge for the SNES, Two things instantly jump out at me, one is the picture showing Spider Man and the X-men the other is the LJN logo.  Now LJN always gets a bit of a shit kicking from video game reviewers but the truth is it was only published by LJN it was in face made by a company called Software Creations. Software Creations was a video game developer based in Manchester, England they started out in 1987 and they did a fair bit of work based on various licensees but they were also responsible for a few fairly popular original games namely Plok, Solstice and its sequel Equinox. (Plok and Equinox I will most likely return to at a latter date).

So its not like Spider-Man hasn't stared in a whole bunch of games but back when this came out Spider man and the X-men together certainly sounded like a recipe for success. You start the game as Spider-Man and in this first level you have to find and disarm bomb after bomb finding them with help of the onscreen prompts which are basically a visual representation of Spider-Man's spider sense. It needs to be said that these are pretty weird bombs as you have to disarm them in a set order, you might be able to see one right in front of you but if its not flashing you cant do anything to it, and it wont flash until you have collected the one the game wants you to get next. Enemies will attack you and in honesty the jumping feels a lot clumsier than it should all in all this level really feels like a huge chore and seeing as this is the level you will probably find yourself playing the most as you'll need to complete it every time you restart the game you are soon going to learn to hate it. This is a game which I feel really benefits from being played on an emulator with save states and such instead of on the original hardware, I guess this shows that the game really needed a save or password system. You really don't realise how much having to repeatedly play a weak, unfun and frustrating part of a game can sour your experience of the whole thing.

I suppose now I should take a break to look at the games Graphics and Sound. Considering at that time this came out id basically call the graphics passable. Some of the sprites are far to small for my liking, looking at little wolverine he looks like a toy, you can instantly tell who people are and get that comic book thrill don't get me wrong but when I compare it to something like Spider-Man on the Megadrive or the latter Maximum Carnage the graphics here just feel very lacking in general. The music and sound effects are well functional. Some of the stuff on offer is alright you have all the sort of sounds you'd expect but then you also have a lot of annoying rubbish as well the best example that comes to mind is the laughing shouting clown noises in the Wolverine stages there like the video game equivalent of nails on a chalk board. That's all I really have to say here, you need to come to this game for the substance if at all because in my opinion at least the style is seriously lacking.

OK so back to the game itself, once you get past the opening level you get the choice of who you want to play as next, with each character having there own levels to complete. As Spider-Man you will find yourself in levels based on the New York City rooftops. The first Spider-Man stage features N'astirh and Shocker as bosses, with Rhino and Carnage being the ones in the second stage. Storm's levels find her in underwater mazes with a limited air supply, for people who know the character this is great as basically she suffers from claustrophobia so this is essentially seeing her in her worst nightmare.Wolverine's finds himself being in a sort of fun house world and see him coming up against  Apocalypse. One of his levels also sees him being chased by the Juggernaut. Gambit's levels see him being in a cave being chased by a giant spiked ball. Both of Cyclops' levels are set underground on the island of Genosha in the Sentinel mines, if you manage to complete these you will eventually find yourself facing off against Master Mold. To put it simply you get to be a bunch of different characters in a bunch of different environments which is a definite plus point for the game.The thing is if you have just read those names and gotten excited then this will actually help you appreciate the game a little bit more, you see the license is well used with lots of characters appearing and being clearly recognisable and if your a big Marvel fan your love for these characters and there stories might actually pull you through a lot of the frustrating moments that in a unlicensed game might have seen you put the joypad down very quickly.

I guess there is the silver lining that once you have done the first Spider-Man level you get to choose who you are next and therefore what your second and third level will be etcetera. The truth is though that this game is hard, confusing and fiddly. It soon feels like not only will you need a lot of skill to beat the levels you will also need a lot of luck and the patience of a saint.

I purchased this game as I remember having it as a kid, I remember my opinion on it being a rather mixed one back in the day, I did think though that it would be neat to own it again and maybe as an adult I might find it easier to handle or appreciate certain elements of it more than I used to but this has not been the case at all. I think if anything I feel more blah about it now than I ever have and that's why I score it a 4 out of 10. I spent £9 on a boxed American copy and I seriously feel like I got cheated if you want to give this game a try go for a loose cart and even if your the biggest spidey fan in the world don't go over £5 for it, its pretty much worth nothing as anything more than a minor curiosity.

Friday, 13 October 2017

A little more about the SNES Mini including my experiances hacking it.

OK so once again I am back here talking about the Super NES Classic Edition or the
Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Famicom as the Japanese version is known,  so with the amount I have gassed on and on about it why am I talking about it again? Well basically because it has been hacked.

Yes hackers have already worked out how to get into the SNES classic and not only take out the Star Fox 2 Rom so it can be put onto a cart/flash cart and played on a real snes but well they have worked out how you can put more games onto the Mini Snes and whats more it is pretty darn simple really.

I am not going to go into how to hack the SNES mini if you want to find out then that information is pretty readily available online and only a search away, nor am I going to be harping on and on about the issue of piracy and if and when it is wrong or right. What I want to talk about are my experiences of playing around with my own machine. Now just to put some of those to rest who might read this and cry oh no he is stealing games its so unfair to Nintendo its not fair to poor old Nintendo lets just get this straight I own like 250 physical SNES games, plus I have a bunch of them legally purchased through the Virtual Console on various devices so they have had a lot of money from me and I'm not about to stop buying things now just because I have found a toy to play around with. Plus lets be honest when Nintendo purposely push something get it popular and then make hardly any of them allowing the market to be controlled by scalpers, while also refusing to print more or do anything about the situation and therefore shunning legitimate customers who actually want to buy there products desperatly but cant I take the view that if Nintendo doesn't give a shit about its fan base then why should we give a shit about them? I actually hope some Chinese company makes a knock off lookey likey version of the SNES mini which is good enough to pass for a real one and charges less than Nintendo and makes more units and creams a healthy profit off of this situation, at least this would actually see a larger number of happy consumers. OK so now I have got that out of the way lets get back to business.

So as I have previously said every version of the SNES mini will contain the  following 16 games:

Contra III: The Alien Wars
Donkey Kong Country
Final Fantasy III
Kirby Super Star
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Mega Man X
Secret of Mana
Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Super Mario World
Super Metroid
Star Fox
Star Fox 2
Yoshi’s Island
Which is a pretty darn fine list of games as far as I am concerned.
In Europe we also got

Kirby's Dream Course
Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
Super Castlevania IV
Super Punch-Out!!
So that's 21 games. So I guess one thing people are wondering is if the machine comes loaded with 21 how many would actually fit onto it? Well that's not a question that can be easily answered basically because different games take up different amounts of room. Apparently the mini Snes has 249.8mb of room on it. I cant remember how much room the original 21 actually took up but mine currently has 72 games on it and that's only taken up 136mb so as you can see you can probably lift the number of games up to 100 and still have plenty of room for saves and save states.

So when I flashed mine I started plain and simple by adding two of the games Japan got on there mini Snes that we didn't get. I added The Legend of the Mystical Ninja and Super Soccer
  I might have added Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers but apparently some people had found issues with adding this game and it not playing properly so I thought for now I wouldn't worry about it. From there I went on to add 3 of the games I said I felt were missing from the unit in an earlier post, I added Actraiser, Sim City and Final Fight 2. I then tested the unit out and well all of them worked.

This is when I decided to get a little bit experimental and try a few Japanese games which had translation patches put on them, this I figured would be great as I could then play games that never came out here and it would be pretty close to playing them on real hardware. I added Super Back to the Future 2, Super Robot Wars 3, and a whole host of other things. Every now and then I would find that a certain game wouldn't work for example I tried to put the hack Oh No More Zombies Ate my Neighbours on and that didn't work. I am aware that I could instead of depending on the emulator built into the SNES mini install a program called Retroarch on it and this would increase the amount of games that work but as it stands I wanted to keep things nice and simple. In honesty once you get used to it its very easy to put more games on and take other games off. As I have said I am not going to go into detail when it comes to how to hack it, but I found it rather easy once I had read some simple instructions, basically you get this programme that does 95% of the work for you all you need is the roms and a little bit of patience and thought.

So do I see this as a SNES replacement? Not at all. I am still very happy that I have my SNES and I have also asked my girlfriend for a Snes Evedrive for Christmas so I can play translations and hacks on the real machine but I do find the mini Snes to be an interesting bit of kit which I would recommend if you can get yours hands on it for around its retail price. I also would have to recommend hacking it sure you dint have to go wild and become some kind of super eye patch wearing pirate you might just put the snes games you own yourself on it or try out things that simply are not available for sale over here and never have been, for me its all about opening new doors, experiencing new things.

I have seen some people complaining that we didn't get the Pal versions of games or that the box art you see in the menu screen on the Snes mini is not the Pal box art or that the games on the machine are more what was popular in America instead of the UK basically that there is nothing on there like Plok or Cannon Fodder or anything basically British. Well you need to remember that there wasn't a UK version of the SNES mini there was a European version and diffrent games would have been popular in different parts of Europe. In all honesty though I don't see any of these things as an issue a lot of the British Games are not exactly expensive, I grabbed a cart only copy of Plok recently for £5, that's not going to happen with Super Mario RPG is it? The roms used on the SNES Mini are the American ones and there running at 60hz, there trying to give us the best experience we can have now instead of giving us the crippled old 50hz we used to have to put up with and that's why we have the American boxes. In honesty having the American versions really helped us when it came to Contra 3, did we really want the old robot censored European Probotector? Yes I would have liked the option to play at 50hz and 60hz, to have played the pal and NTSC versions side by side, to have more case art options and digital manuals on the system but I don't think any of this is a gamebreaker so to speak and I do think some people have been absolute wingers about it especially when other people cant even get the bloody machines for love nor money.

So to end if you have a SNES mini I hope your enjoying it weather your just playing it or messing around with it and trying to add stuff to it, and if you cant get one then best of luck to you... Finally to Nintendo...sort your bloody act out for once.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

What I have been watching and playing recently. More Orville, The bake Off, Ryse and Trials Fusion.

So sometimes I have played a few things or watched a few things that I don't feel I want to say enough about to make a whole blog post but today I have decided to make a post which gives a rough idea of a few of the things I have been playing and watching. I will start with what I have been watching and what I intend to watch during this month.

I did a review of the first episode of the Orville and since then I have watched the next 3 but I have decided that I don't want to review every episode, once the season is over I might do a season review especially as it has been renewed for a second season. in honesty though I am totally enjoying the show. It reminds me a lot of Star Trek the Next Generation, it feels very very Star Trek like but with some humour, humour which I often think makes it more real. You have people bitching about relationships and about work it just feels a lot less clean and perfect than Trek but makes it a lot easier to relate to. Just like Trek though it tries to have moral lessons and to make you think about things to possibly question your own thoughts and beliefs. The second episode of the season is about Aliens who collect species they see as lesser species and keep them in a zoo as entertainment, in many ways bits of this reminded me of the original Star Trek pilot ''The Cage''. Then the third episode was about Bortis one of the alien members of the crew who comes from a race who apparently are only male having a female child, a female child which his mate wants to have altered to be male. This ends up very much like a Next Generation episode with a court case happening to determine the fate of the child, with each side stating there case and trying to sway you with arguments for why what they want is the best for the child. I don't have enough to say about the show at the moment for it to fill a whole post but I just wanted to say that I am very very happy with the show and feel that it is off to a great start.

I have watched a great deal of shows like The Great British Bake off and Australian Master chef with my girlfriend and while I enjoy them I don't think that they are something I would really write a full post about. I do find them very easy to watch though and a very relaxing watch. I basically find myself picking a favourite contestant and trying to will them on to win, but maybe it says something that I always also seem to find myself finding a contestant I hate, there is always someone who just seems to annoy the absolute heck out of me, it might be the way they talk or the fact you can plainly seem them copying other people while complaining that its so hard or that this or that made there bake go wrong. The person I am currently supporting on The Great British Bake off is Liam, I just think he is an amazing young man who really puts his heart into things and just comes across as so humble and so likable, I was very happy for him when he won Star Baker but I am not sure that he will really win it but still he is the one with my support. As for Stacey she is the one I cant stand, she seems to do nothing but talk about how hard it is like she is the only one having to do these hard bakes and having to deal with the heat in the tent and with demanding bakes. Every single time there is an elimination I really hope that it will be her, I will be happy for whoever wins it providing that it is not her.

OK so as for playing recently I completed Ryse Son of Rome, it was an xbox one game and I had owned it for quite a while but I had never really played it. I was sat there one day and just decided to give it a quick go, to be honest my expectations where quiet low, I had been given the impression that it was good in the graphics but that overall it was pretty much more of a playable tech demo than a real game. I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that despite not being the deepest game ever it was an enjoyable hack and slasher which in my opinion had a great story. Once I started playing it I just couldn't stop until I was done, sure it wasn't the longest game ever but it probably ended just before I could get tired of what it had to offer. If I was doing a review of this I would probably give it a 7 out of 10 and recommend that you get it cheap second hand and see if you enjoy it as much as I did.

As well as playing Ryse I have also been playing a lot of Trials Fusion, I have owned it a long time on both the PlayStation 4 and the xbox one but its something I just keep finding myself coming back to. It is the simple fact that it only takes a minute or two to play a track but ages to master one. You can either put it on for a short blast of fun or you can sit down for ages and try and set better times for each course, and heck you might even find yourself spending far more time than you'd like returning to old courses you had already beaten because someone on your friends list just whipped your time. No matter how well you think you did it always seems like you can shave another second off your record and it can be seriously addictive. If I was to do a review this game would easily land a score of 9 out of 10.

Well thats at least some of what I have been watching and playing recently  I will be back soon with another post, most likly one with a main topic instead of lots and lots of little bits and bobs of this and that.