Archives 2

06/04/20 Sega’s rumored shake up of the game industry doesn’t sound as exciting as Famitsu’s Zenji Nishikawa may have made it sound, but then as I have said before he was probably talking in the context of Japan. While details on Sega’s new service are hazy, I have a few guesses as to where this is going.

The Game Gear Micro is neat, but it’s certainly not the shakeup Nishikawa was talking about. I’m not all that interested in getting one, but for those who are, I am happy that Sega is doing this. I hope it’s a quality product.

The other thing that was mentioned was called “fog gaming”, not many details were given, but as they say, where there is smoke, there is Sega doing something strange that we don’t completely understand.

As I had guessed, it’s not really anything for anyone outside of Japan to get excited about. It’s not the Dreamcast 2, Sega isn’t partnering with Microsoft and releasing a rebranded Xbox either.

Nightshift Nurse mentioned in the comments last time I posted on the matter that it probably had something to do with arcades, and it turns out this has been proven correct.

The details are shady AF, but here is my theory:

Many people might be none the wiser, but Sega is a dominant force in the still very much alive and kicking arcade scene in Japan, and thus is the status quo. Sega doesn’t quite rule the arcade roost, but is happy to leave the console market to Sony and the handheld market to Nintendo. Acting as a third party, Sega with their rather meaty library of successful IP, and an extensive back catalogue of well-loved games, has found new life.

In fact, the company is 60 years old on the 3rd of June, which was a couple of days ago. Happy birthday, Sega! If I live long enough, maybe I’ll see it’s centenary. I’d really like to see that.

Anyway, back to this fog gaming business.

The arcade scene in Japan has been steadily declining in recent years, and companies like Sega, Bandai Namco and others in that space are having to work together to keep it alive and exciting. I’m not sure of recent numbers, but it’s unsurprising that Sega with it’s large arcade footprint will need the market to change, or transform their business somehow to keep up with changing times. They’ve done it before, so I’m sure they will do it again, the company won’t necessarily remain profitable just because it’s had a few good years.

So, here is my theory: Fog gaming is going to be a streaming service of sorts, and will capitalize on unused storage and computing power in the arcade networks, basically this will mean that the game you are trying to stream will be in the network cache somewhere at any given time allowing for much faster load times and reduced latency, provided there is a nearby arcade network. If you think of fog as a cloud on the ground, with the ground being Sega’s arcade infrastructure, then it makes sense.

Assuming my theory is correct, as I said before, this isn’t much for gamers outside of Japan to get excited about, but it is a cool idea and if it means Sega and all their great IP will be around for a bit longer, I’m all for it.

What do you think fog gaming could be? Are you disappointed by the announcement? Did the Game Gear even have any good games? All these questions and more in the comments!

06/03/20 Riot’s new hero shooter dropped today, and if anyone’s interested, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share about my initial experience with the game.

First up, I must point out that I live in a country where there isn’t a dedicated server nearby, so latency is going to be an issue when it comes to playing Valorant as a competitive game, at least where I live.

I was worried that the abilities would make the game feel unbalanced, but at least initially it doesn’t seem that way but probably I will have to play a bit more to really get a feel for the game.

Visually, the game is very clean and a little cartoony in a way that reminds me a little of Fortnite, but it definitely feels like a Riot game. I love the aesthetics, and the game is entertaining to watch with all the different characters having unique and pleasing animations. The game is colorful, but not in a way that is hard on the eyes. I can’t say that in any of the games I have played, that I died because I struggled to see an enemy. Usually, it was either that he was not in my field of vision, or plain and simple, he out-aimed me. Either that, or, I was being a noob and got shot in the process of learning how to use my abilities.

It feels a little slower than CS:GO, especially in the buy stage of the game. Weirdly, for the first 30 seconds I think, there are barriers preventing you from accessing the other half of the map and engaging the enemy which is interesting as this is clearly intended to give players a little time to strategise. At a professional level, I can see this pre-empting the need for tactical timeouts, and while it makes for an overall slower-paced game, I quite like being able to, instead of defaulting to the usual strategies, look around and try to experiment playing in different positions. Valorant gives you plenty of time to do just that.

At the same time, you only need 13 rounds to win which makes the game feel much shorter, even though it probably isn’t with the 30 second buy window.

As a CS:GO player, one of the main differences I feel is the gunplay. It’s still, mechanically at least, similar, in that you generally clear angles and corners in the same way that you would in CS, but the abilities give you some interesting options, for instance, the one agent, as they call them, that I played – I think his name was Omen, or something. He has this teleport ability, similar to the “blink” ability from Dishonored, which I found quite fun.

This ability allowed me to get into some really interesting positions, and, while I’m still at the stage where I’m fumbling with the controls, I have to say it’s a pretty fun game and I’m glad that Riot has made this as I feel it has a much wider appeal than CS:GO.

The characters are well designed, but it remains to be seen how long it will take for their cheesy one-liners to wear on me. Of the ones I played, they all had unique and interesting abilities, and definitely felt very different when engaging with enemies despite having the same arsenal of weapons available.

Have you tried Valorant? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

I love new developments in the video game industry, and following the rise and fall of the biggest players is a pastime enjoyed by many. Sega is one such name, with a long and well chronicled history, and when Famitsu’s Zenji Nishikawa reports that he has a massive scoop, and (probably not) mistakenly namedrops Sega, it’s exciting to consider the possibilities.

05/30/20 If you came here to see me say that they may be considering new hardware, either so you can fantasize about that or lambaste me in the comments, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Then again, for something to “rile up the game industry” in Nishikawa’s words.

Famitsu’s journalistic reliability aside, let’s take what Nishikawa said in context: He was, according to this source, speaking on his YouTube channel. He could just be hyping his next writeup, and it could just be a new game. Although, let’s imagine the possibilities.

Sega, operating as a 3rd party developer, has amassed an in-house library of active and successful titles, perhaps not quite rivaling Nintendo but as far as I can tell Sega has fully recovered from it’s failure in the hardware market and has absolutely no reason to enter the hardware market.

Imagine they were to publish any of their future games exclusively to their own hardware – along with titles from several of their subsidiaries, the ace up their sleeve being Atlus.

Perhaps this is why things have gone quiet on the Bayonetta 3 front, as well as Shin Megami Tensei V, maybe Sega wants to pull these from the Switch and publish them as exclusives on it’s own unannounced platform? Perhaps Sega has been biding it’s time, stacking the deck in it’s favor, waiting to stir up the whole industry by getting back in the hardware game?

Losing those 2 titles would be a blow for Nintendo, maybe not enough by any means to destabilize Nintendo but it would certainly be an egg on their face, and a massive publicity stunt in time for Sega’s 60th birthday on June 3 of this year.

Sega also has a massive back catalog, albeit mostly arcade games I think, and a handful of other subsidiaries it could lean on for games, but I doubt they would because the company seems to be doing just fine as a 3rd party, but who knows? maybe the hard failure of it’s previous hardware and the decisions leading up to that, as well as the 20 years as a 3rd party has taught the company enough that it can re-enter the market, but do we really need a 4th player on the field?

I’m going to say no, but who wouldn’t be hyped to see a new Sega console?

Maybe they’re going to dress the Xbox Series X up as a Sega console, kinda like how they re-badge cars,and get all buddy buddy with Microsoft in Japan? I think that would be really smart, but rather unlikely, I don’t know if Sega would want to risk damaging it’s relationship with Sony or Nintendo by putting their name on a competitor’s product.

Personally, I don’t think it’s gonna be a new console, but I don’t think there is any other way for Sega to rile up the entire game industry than to throw it’s hat into the ring again.

What do you think Sega is up to? Let me know in the comments!

05/26/20 There are a lot of different options these days when it comes to selecting a mouse.

For some people, it doesn’t really matter. They might buy a cool novelty mouse, like a friend of mine has one shaped like a VW Beetle. He uses it at his workshop, so it suits him.

Someone who plays games like World of Warcraft might go for a mouse with more buttons, giving them more accessible binds for spells, while someone who likes Counter Strike will value precision and comfort above all else. Some might be happy with any old mouse, some prefer wireless while others swear by their wired counterparts. Some people still use PS2 mice (not a Sony PlayStation 2, one that plugs into that round port at the back of your PC)

Razer has been making mice for a while, since around 1999 when they created the Boomslang 1000/2000 (pictured to the left) which was one of the first mice specifically marketed at gamers. So, they should know a thing or 2 about mice, amirite?

The Viper Mini is, as of writing, the newest wired mouse available from Razer. It is a little smaller and lighter than the Viper proper, and considerably smaller and lighter than the Deathadder I own already. It’s not quite as light as the Cooler Master I reviewed before, but if you want a light mouse, it’s right up there in terms of being really light with the bonus of not having that godawful honeycomb design like Glorious and Cooler Master use.

As for the software, it annoys me a little that the device is not compatible with Razer Synapse 2. It only works in Synapse 3, which is still in Beta, meaning I have to have 2 programs to configure my peripherals because my 1st gen Kraken headset is not supported by Synapse 3. Not too much of an issue, but still, it’s pretty annoying. Razer, plz fix.

Next up, I’ll talk about the build quality.. It feels sturdy, in fact, I would say it feels a lot more solid than the Deathadder, with a more distinct click thanks to the buttons being seperate to the rest of the mouse. The cable is a little shorter than I’d like, but decent, and again, is light but not to the level of the Cooler Master from before.

In terms of performance, it has what I feel is a pretty standard button layout – 2 thumb buttons, 1 behind the scroll wheel, and the 2 normal ones. Nothing fancy. As usual, I remapped the top button to use as a keybind rather than a DPI toggle, but that’s my preference.

The sensor is a PWM 3359. This is where things get a little iffy – a friend reported that the 3359 sensor wasn’t as accurate or reliable as the 3389 found in the Deathadder, but I found it to be just fine (initially) and didn’t notice a difference at the settings I use.* Using the mouse a little more, I’ve discovered that it doesn’t track liftoff quite as well, resulting in the cursor moving as you put the mouse down. Maybe not an issue depending on the games you play, but it can be quite problematic in some games.

The mouse is comfortable, and definitely feels smaller than most mouses. It’s narrow, short shape is best suited to either someone with small hands or someone who uses a fingertip grip I think. My hands arent very big, but not tiny either, I think the slightly bigger regular Viper may fit my hand a little better but I’ll have to verify that when I get my hands on one.

I think the only real difference is that the DPI caps at 8500 compared to the Deathadder’s 16000, and it will perform just as well up to that cap. I won’t say that to my friend, who is convinced that the sensor isn’t as good. So, YMMV, he is quite a serious gamer so he might be right.

Overall, I quite like the Viper Mini, and I don’t think it’s too badly priced. I think I prefer it to the Cooler Master, which has the better sensor but I really don’t notice much of a difference.*

I would recommend this to you if you have smallish hands, and want a light mouse. Not recommended for people with palm grips and/or big hands, or if you like setting your mouse to ridiculously high sensitivities.

Next time, I’ll try get my hands on the OG Viper, and compare it to it’s baby brother over here.

*edit 26/05: I posted this article a little prematurely, and after a bit more testing I found that this sensor is in fact rubbish. The bad liftoff tracking makes this mouse completely unreliable, so if you pick up your mouse a lot avoid it at all costs and rather go for the similarly priced Cooler Master. Won’t be a problem if you use a high sensitivity or rely less on pinpoint accuracy.

I spoke about Battle City before, one of the few games of the time that could be played co-operatively on the NES. Nintendo’s own Ice Climber was one of the others that you could enjoy, but wasn’t always sunshine and roses.

I find the difficulty spike to be a little steep after the first few levels, going from really easy to dodging icicles and sliding around on tiny ledges over pitfalls all at once. 3 lives get eaten up pretty quickly.

Fortunately, you can select the mountain you want to start at on the start screen, so if you don’t feel like replaying the easy ones you can jump right in to the more difficult ones.

The controls, as was usual of the time, were simple – you could run left and right, jump, and strike with your mallet. The goal was to climb each mountain, and catch the condor flying around at the top. Obstacles included badly timed jumps, badly executed jumps, slippery ice, falling objects and little yeti monsters.

Once you got to the bonus stage, there were no more enemies, just bonus items to collect. These were usually fruit or vegetables, players also didn’t lose a life by falling off the mountain in the bonus stage but didn’t respawn until the next mountain, and so lost the chance to catch the condor on that mountain.

I believe the little yeti creatures in the Famicom version were replaced with seals. Perhaps Nintendo wishes to avoid reminding anyone about this by relegating the Ice Climbers to a Smash character

This was my aunt’s favorite game, she was a beast at it.

I’ve always tried to imagine a modern Ice Climber game, and I think a puzzle platformer could be perfect. Maybe throw in a bit of a story, a good reason for the ice climbers to be ascending the mountain, I don’t know.

All I know is, Ice Climber is one of those Nintendo IP, along with F Zero, that has been on ice far too long. (lol)

I’d love to see these characters be reimagined, maybe not to Breath of the Wild levels but maybe as one of those games like Captain Toad which isn’t necessarily Nintendo’s big budget stuff, but could be a good game in spite of that.

Did you like Ice Climber? What do you think a modern Ice Climber game would look like? I’m interested to know, so drop a comment!

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