Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spin It to Win It

I gotta hand it to the video game industry. I've been involved with this hobby for forty years, yet after all this time, it still hasn't lost its capacity for weirdness.

image from the Hollywood Reporter
I'm referring specifically to the Play Date, a handheld game system with black and white graphics and, well... a crank. Now it's not completely unusual for home electronics to have a crank to charge them in case of emergencies, but this crank isn't meant for that. No, it's actually a rotary input device, similar to the paddles and spinners of old. It sounds ridiculous, but maybe that's why it's attracting famously weird game designers like Katamari Damacy's Keita Takahashi and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy's, uh, Bennett Foddy. They've both pledged to support the Play Date, with Takahashi already hard at work on Crankin's Time Travel Adventure. You can find a little footage of the game and more information about the system that will play it on Slash Gear. The Play Date will cost a kingly one hundred and fifty dollars when it's released next year. Better start saving your pennies.

So in short, the Play Date is unreasonably expensive, completely bizarre conceptually, and has a crank on the side for rotary input. How much you wanna bet Jeff Minter's going to want in on this?

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Haul of It All

Every once in a while, you find some really good stuff in the free bin at the local thrift store. Stuff like this!

Sadly, I couldn't find the disc for Super Paper Mario, but everything else was in the case... sometimes in the wrong case, but hey, it was free. I was most excited about Super Mario Maker for the Wii U, because I was always curious about that game, but never curious enough to pay sixty dollars for it.

Everyone's going nuts about the recent announcement of a sequel, which will offer new skins and features along with a multiplayer mode. I'm just happy to get in on the ground floor with the original, and while I haven't spent much time making stages, I've sure spent time playing them. The game starts you out with an eight stage "10 Mario Challenge," which offers familiar levels with unexpected and increasingly peculiar twists. It was quite a mind screw to dive into the open pipe in World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros., only to discover that the underground cache of coins had become a discotheque, complete with pulsing music, dancing lights, and a shower of currency from two spinning cannons. "What is this I don't even" describes the experience pretty well.

I'm enjoying this game, but I really didn't need to be
reminded of Miiverse's demise. Believe me, Nintendo,
I haven't forgotten... it's why I haven't bought a Switch.
The other games are just gravy (diaper gravy in the case of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, if the reviews are to be believed). I already owned Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but it's nice to have a case to go along with it. Super Mario Sluggers I've never played before, but the Mario cast in a baseball game seems like a solid concept. Wii Play didn't get great reviews, but it may provide me with some fleeting entertainment. Then there are the two GameCube games, Mario Party 4 and Wario Ware. I can't imagine getting too much use out of the former, but I had the latter game in Michigan and it's comforting to have it close at hand again.

Oh! Before I go, I should probably mention that Sega has announced the next ten games that will be included with the Sega Genesis Mini. You'll find the details on Polygon, but the Cliff Notes is that there will be a lot of Capcom games in the final product, including Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Street Fighter 2: Special Championship Edition, and Mega Man: The Wily Wars. (Are you ready for a Genesis collection of the first three Mega Man games which somehow aren't as good as the NES originals? Too bad, you're getting it anyway.) Some other goodies include Phantasy Star IV, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and Beyond Oasis. Some baddies include Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and Sonic Spinball, just in case you needed a little kusoge in your retro gaming diet.

Two other things! I've finished seven chapters of the Neo-Geo ports book, and just installed a 128GB SD card in my Playstation Vita. Sony's proprietary cards always left the system at a loss for storage, but with this monster in place, my Vita will never go hungry again!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Last Exit

There's a new hack out for the Playstation Vita... and it's likely to be the last. Hacker TheFlow released Trinity a few days ago... it's an exploit that lets you run the VitaShell file browser and some unlicensed applications. Unlike Henkaku and Henkaku Enso, this one's not easy to use, requiring you to download a PSP game, send it to your computer with QCMA (an altered version of Sony's content manager), decrypt it, insert a file, re-encrypt it, and send it back to your PSP. It's a rather involved process.

The creator of the hack recommends that once you've installed Trinity, you use it to roll back your Vita to an earlier firmware, then install Henkaku Enso for more reliable and user-friendly access to homebrew apps. On the down side, you'll lose access to the Playstation Store, but on the plus side, there won't be too many more games released for the Vita anyway. Just back up everything you've already purchased to your computer before running the hack and you should be set.

One fun thing you can do with your Vita after you've installed Henkaku Enso is change the splash screen that comes up when you first power it on. Courtesy of Talking Time user Tegan Robichoud, here's Danny De-Vita!

If you want a taste of this kind of fun, you'd better act quickly. Sony usually seals off these back doors with a security patch shortly after they're discovered, and with TheFlow retiring from Vita hacking and general interest in the console dwindling, you probably won't see another jailbreak for the system again.

One other thing... I've got four chapters of the SNK book finished, and started a fifth one last night. If things continue to move at this pace, I'll have the whole thing done in just a few months!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

SNK-o de Mayo

Whoops! Looks like I forgot to post on May the 4th. Well you knew what I was gonna say already... Star Wars fans are obsessed nerds, etc. etc. Here, I'll just let Triumph the Insult Comic Dog do it for me.

So we'll just jump to a legitimate holiday, Cinco de Mayo. I celebrated the occasion by picking up the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection... the connection to Mexico's day of independence is tenuous at best, but it was cheaper than the retail price, and I don't have anything else to discuss. So there. 

The purchase seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I'm having second thoughts. Would the thirty dollars have been better spent on a copy of Nier Automata: Become As Gods Edition? The time I spent with anti-classics like Bermuda Triangle, Munch Mobile, and Vanguard suggests that yes, it would have, and yes, I was a dumbass for picking door number two. It's too late for regrets, so I'll just dump cherry pits into an approaching garbage can while you save a ravaged planet Earth from mechanical monsters.

Anyone care to explain what's going
on here? Because I don't have the figgiest.
(image from Wikipedia)
On the bright side, this is the Xbox One version, with all the games already included (no extra downloads are necessary), plus the NES version of Baseball Stars as a bonus. I spent a fair amount of time playing Baseball Stars as a teenager, building teams, playing games, and firing the dead weight, so that definitely adds to the value of the collection. 

On top of that, it's always fun to p'sharktank soldiers across the screen in P.O.W., listen to an early version of Fatal Fury's South Beach theme in Street Smart, and gun your way through the various anachronisms in Time Soldiers, best described as a prequel to Alpha's Ninja Commando without the Street Fighter influence. So I'll live. I mean, how good could Nier be, anyway? (Don't answer that.)