Childhoods Favourite – NHL 94

I wrote recently about Sonic The Hedgehog and how it was my first Sega Mega Drive game. I am going to present to you another game that I liked to play on this gaming system. It was Electronic Arts’s NHL 94. I remember it well as a game that was fun to play and which delivered awesome playability and challenge. You could play just one game. There was possibility to play an All Star game. There were no national teams but I remember how I found many Finnish players on various NHL teams. I think best of them were Jari Kurri and Teemu Selanne. Selanne played in Winnipeg Jets with another Finnish player Teppo Numminen.

You could also start a Playoffs series. I think there was a possibility to play the whole season but as there were no way to save your game that would have been pointless. You could adjust the difficulty level and the length of a period. Big part of this game were the statistics. Players had different abilities such as speed and shot and passing accuracy. Sometimes players were injured. The game kept record of user stats. I remember how I tried to make the crowd cheer more because I wanted to break the record of the desibel levels of the crowd.

I played this game a lot. I think it’s the game I played most on my Mega Drive. NHL 94 was released also on SNES and Sega CD. There was also a release for PC that was simply titled “NHL Hockey”. It had official NHL license. Wikipedia states also that many people think that this is the best sports game ever released. According to my text above I don’t think this becomes as a surprise. It was developed as two dimensional point of view. If you like to play older NHL games I can tell you that I also like NHL 97. Maybe I will write a post also about that game some day.

Tony Hawks Pro Skater is making a comeback

I was first introduced to Tony Hawks Pro Skater as a young teenager back in 1999. It was the golden era of Sony PlayStation 1. I’m not much of a skater. I mean I had a skateboard but I think I started skateboarding too old. I didn’t learn the tricks. The toughest trick I managed to do was pop-shove-it. And some of my friends had fun at my expense because of that. But that’s enough about my skateboarding skills.

Skateboarding is fun to watch. At the end of 90s some game developers thought they could create a game based on this style of sport. This was also a good opportunity for Tony Hawk to gain some more recognizability. The game was an absolute hit. It made kids want to start learning real skateboarding. And it did bring this sport more fans and hobbyists. It made skateboarding very popular.

If you liked the game or why not the whole series or maybe just the three first ones or what ever – there is going to be released a new game with better graphics that maintains the playability of the original one. This release includes THPS one and two. The release date is currently set to September 4th. There might be delays coming to this releaase because of situation with Corona virus.

So the game brings THPS to some newer consoles. Activision hasn’t released a THPS game after 2015 when THPS 5 flopped badly and received bad reviews. If you have played this game you propably remember the sonudtrack. In this new release there will be almost all tracks that appeared on original games but some are going to be missing. This is happening because of licensing problems. This small HD collection will be first released on Xbox One and PS4 and might be available for newer consoles later.

So we are waiting to see if this collection brings us a game with good quality. It’s been a while. I think I am going, once again, have these nostalgic feelings I sometimes tend to have. Lets hope it will be a good THPS HD version of the first and the second game. And lets hope that the release isn’t going to be delayed, well, at least not badly.

Sierras early adventure games – Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards

As I am born in the 80s this game was one of those first games I played as a small child. It was released by Sierra in 1987. It uses a game engine called Adventure Game Interpreter or for short AGI that was originally created for producing the first Kings Quest game back in 1984. Again this was something we gamers had never seen. Suddenly you had graphics instead of staring at a screen that had just some text on it.

Before Sierras innovative way to create graphics to adventure games fans of adventure game genre had to content themselves to bare text parser with no graphics at all. These games had graphics but the actions the player makes have to be written. You can move the character and sometimes when you perform some command you need to be in some place inside the games inner world. And you can move from screen to another screen. I wasn’t even born when first text adventures came to markets but I can see how this kind of an improvement would be like.

Leisure Suit Larry was based on a text based adventure game originally released in 1981. Al Lowe copied most of this games ideas. It was almost the same game with only graphics added. This is my view. You can propably find a copy of this game and play it yourself and you will understand better (I can’t publish this games name).

My experiences with this first Larry game are strongly represented in my memories of my childhood. I learned to write some words with computer keyboard playing this game. Back then I didn’t understand games details. I for example didn’t understand what is a prophylactic. And graphics of this item in this game were blurry enough to let my imagination handle it as some sort of a gem. The game has some controversial content but it is understandable that you maybe would let a child play this game. Of course there are many other games that might be more suitable for a young kid. But this is how I got started with Sierra.

Differences between serious and casual gaming

What really is casual gaming? Does it refer to playing at easier difficulty level? Does it mean not playing so many hours daily or weekly? In this article I try to explain this matter. There are many things that are or seem to be more important than playing. But sometimes you can combine playing with writing an essay or getting to spend some free time. We can go even further – what if you could also create new games and use your knowledge to your advance?

In my thoughts casual gaming means passing some time that you just seem to have to something that you don’t fully want to do. You are just spending time or even wasting time because you might be bored or you are waiting for something to happen for example waiting for the oven to warm so you can bake some pizza in it. This means that you are not so passionate about the actual game and all the difficulties and experiences inside the game are not the thing that you are interested in.

Let’s for a moment think about serious gaming. You are obsessed with the game you are playing. You want to find every piece of equipment, turn over every rock you find and reveal all the secrets that the game has. You are willing to receive everything that specific game has to offer. You are deeply inside this games world. You want to focus on the main character and side characters also. You seem to understand the story.

Studying is a lot like learning a new game. Some people try to figure what things are the most essential and learn them and even memorize some phrases or images or something that they find important. But if you want to learn things more deeply you want to understand why things are the way they are. You want to fully understand the matter you are trying to learn. Not just some phrases that some expert thinks are important. You want to understand what the game is. You want to know everything about it. So this basically is the difference. Casual gaming is a way to pass some time. Serious gaming is when you want to understand what you are doing inside the game.

As I’ve learned some programming as I was studying I came to understand games more deeply also. It opened some doors for me. My role would not be an artist or 3D modeller or graphical or texture designer. I would be the creator of games logic. That’s what game programmers do. They design the logic. You need a key from that room that opens a door to that next room. And so on. You can build on it.

This text is just one post in my blog. It appears to me that I have touched something important here and we can propably think about these matters in some other posts also. Some things like how can you get so much valuable information from games and how can you even make gaming from your hobby to a profession. I’d like to write more about game designing and eSports. I think there are many valuable things here and that gaming can be more than a simple way to pass time and it can bring you valuable things.

How Resident Evil (1/2/3) made you feel anxiety?

The first Resident Evil game made you feel anxiety in a way that was never seen before in history of horror games. There was formed a new genre that would be called survival horror. Resident Evil took strong influences from adventure games and converted it to be presented in three dimensional world. We had seen already some Alone In The Dark games that used different camera angles to deliver its horror to us players.

Resident Evil had some shooting and zombies took lots of bullets. You had only limited amount of ammo. You had to think when is a good time and place to save the game. This was also limited. This was a result of some very clever game design that made you actually feel like it then felt. I think today you wouldn’t have so many chances of creating tension inside a game this way. In almost every modern game, if you can compare it to original Resident Evil, you have the opposrtunity to save the game and change camera angle. You rarely find these kinds of effects used in todays games.

The first three games of the series were released on PS1. I think the second RE game was the best of these. And it stands out today as one of the best games that I have played on PlayStation 1 gaming console. This was my first touch to horror gaming. I have found some good games inside this genre later that include some titles that represent a modern view of Resident Evil. Only horror game series that comes even close in comparison is Silent Hill. And if you have a debate on which one’s better that is an endless discussion. They both have their own styles and there are lots of different games included. Let’s just say that comparing them is difficult.

If you want to get to know RE better I suggest that you start from the first game of this series. If asked, I would prefer the original rather than a remake. All of the three first games are good. Resident Evil Zero is also very good and playable. If you have played newer RE games I advice you to also check the earlier games as you will probably find them very interesting.

Solution for playing games on a smart phone

Smart phones are today very powerful devices. They are able to run many applications and it’s common to view video material and also to play games on these devices. There still do exist some problems. The touch screen of any modern mobile device including tablets is not the best way to control for example the main character of a platformer. There is a solution and I am going to introduce it to you my dear readers.

iPega is a chinese company that has brought an innovative solution for playing games on mobile devices available for consumers world wide. It is basically a small gamepad that uses Bluetooth technology to transfer players inputs and commands to the device. It has a battery included that can be charged with basic micro-USB charger. The battery lasts for long enough and if you want to make sure that it doesn’t shut down in a vital moment you can plug your gamepad to charger. You can do this to your phone also if you are conserned about how long will its battery last.

This gamepads model is PG 9017 S. There are many different models available. They don’t cost so much. I remember buying my gamepad for just under 30 euros. It uses Bluetooth, so you have to pair it with your phone and also connect to it. This happens by pressing two buttons for couple of seconds. There are different modes so you might have to test which mode to use for the connection. The gamepad has nice amount of buttons. It has axis-button, X, Y, A, B buttons and select and start buttons and two shoulder buttons on left and right. It also has two thumb buttons. It can signal the user when battery is starting to run low. The user can attach this controller with some kind of a clip. So the phone goes on top of this mechanical system placed horizontally. The clip is strong and it doesn’t allow the phone to slip out or move at all.

I haven’t any serious issues with this product. It’s a cool gamepad that you can take on a trip too as its battery doesn’t require so much power. You can install some emulators and transfer some ROMs to your device. Be aware of your phones memory capacity as ROMs can take some space. You can even buy a memory card if your phone is compatible. Just remember the thumb rule – if you don’t own the game don’t copy it. That’s illegal. But you can really have fun with this kind of a setup. You can for example play games of consoles like NES, SNES, Mega Drive or even Nintendo DS. Earlier gaming consoles don’t require so much from your hardware but when we are talking about more modern systems, such as PSP emulators, there might be some system requirements that you will have to take in consideration.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Just stopped my daily evening routines, or maybe I had some free time, to play some Sonic The Hedgehog on Sega Mega Drive. This was actually my first game on this platform. And actually it wasn’t on the original system but on Retro Trio HD. I haven’t yet figured a way to get HDMI out of my Mega Drive. I should really dig into that some day. There might be a converter available for that specific purpose. But let’s get back to the game.

There exists tens of games that have the name, Sonic The Hedgehog, or at least Sonic, as their title. This was the first of them all. It was 1991 and Sega desperately needed some kind of a front figure or mascot to compete with Nintendos Super Mario. So Sega really made an effort to produce a quality game that would be able to compete with Nintendo. Sega had this issue of having a powerful console, more powerful than Nintendo then had, but it lacked good quality games. Nintendo had their Mario, Castlevania and Bubble Bobble games. Mega Drive games were thought to be too repetitive and not so appealling. That was partly true and even today this matter comes to mind when comparing these two gaming consoles.

So Sega made its best to bring to the game something different and in some way they even succeeded. Sonic was basically a platformer, just like Super Mario Bros, but it extended this concept a bit. Sonic had abilities Mario couldn’t even dream of. It could spin and it’s speed increased as it ran a little bit forward. It collected rings instead of coins. When an enemy hit Sonic, or the other way around, it lost all the rings it possessed. And…you could collect some of them back after you had been stroke by an enemy. This was something unique that had never seen before. Sonic had a wider and more approachable personality than Mario had. Sonic was maybe even cooler than its competitor.

As a game Sonic The Hedgehog isn’t as playable or enjoyable as for example Super Mario Bros 3. Even Bubble Bobble, that didn’t have these games scrollable screen, stands out as a better platformer. If you compare it to some good platformers that were released on later, newer, consoles, it loses to them. But Sonic has its own fans and it is clearly the most approachable mascot for Sega. The one thing you remember this company of. So it is honorable that they created this well known character.

I paused my life for a moment and played Sonic for about two hours today. I just had to take that picture with my phones camera and tell you a bit about this remarkable game. After all this the start. I have some other very interesting games that are having this blue hedgehog inside them. One of them is Shadow The Hedgehog that is a game I recently bought for original Xbox. And I’m now lucky enough to have a working Xbox 360 and I’m very satisfied that the game works on it also. Another very interesting game, which has Sonic, is Sonic Adventure, that was released on Dreamcast almost ten years after the debut of Sonic. So maybe I’ll tell you more about this character later. I have to go but we are going to continue with this blog in one direction or another as soon as I have some more time to spend and to write more…

Service Games – The Rise and Fall Of SEGA (Book review)

Sam Pettus wrote a book about “the rise and fall” of Sega. This book was published in 2013. Sega has been releasing some games but the latest console was DreamCast. And it was released in 1998. So the book is some years old but if you think of this subject, how Sega conquered and commanded the markets first with Mega Drive and later with other consoles, you find out that this content is not outdated. It might be currently relevant as being part of console gaming history. And in my opinion – this is something that every gamer should know about. So what was and is Sega and what kind of an impact it made on gaming and how it can be seen even today?

This book begins the journey to Segas history from the beginning to the fall. The first console released was SG-1000. I have never seen this console. The breakthrough for Sega came as Master System, a well-known gaming system, was released. This was the beginning of console war between mainly Sega and Nintendo. This happened in 80s as there first appeared to be two greatly popular gaming consoles on the same market. Atari 2600 was already considered older console and it was replaced with these newer consoles. Atari had its consoles but they couldn’t compete with Sega and Nintendo.

Sega was active and brought many machines to use in arcades. As Mega Drive was released at the end of 80s Sega promised to bring, finally, arcade quality gaming to mainstream consumers homes. The war raged on and the battle continued. Nintendo brought SNES to markets a few years later. These systems all failed to compete with PlayStation that conquered home gaming console markets from the middle of nineties to the end of the decade. But that’s enough of 3D gaming and PlayStation. Let’s get back to what happened inside gaming world in late 80s and 90s.

So Sega had Mega Drive, that was called also Sega Genesis in some parts of the world, and Nintendo had to compete with its NES that was not as powerful as Mega Drive. NES challenged Sega by making some quality games as Super Mario was the main character to lead Nintendos effort to beat Sega. Sega later came up with Sonic that was the main character and represented Sega in this battle. Nintendo tried to make games that were more propriate for children. Their main focus was to bring high quality games and make them be as non-violent as can be. And in some way they succeeded in this. Sega released games also that had violence in them.

Sega had its success with Mega Drive. They had a bad strategy with pricey products that consumers weren’t so interested in. So there was SNES released by Nintendo. Sega released 32X and Sega CD that both failed to gain popularity. After that Sega came up with Saturn that had a tough job to compete with PlayStation. And after that Sega gave its very strong effort to bring to the markets potentially the best console ever made. And some definite fans of Sega are saying that they accomplished just that.

DreamCast did sell but it didn’t sell enough as Nintendo had released N64 and PlayStation 2 was on it’s way. DreamCast ended up selling “only” 9 million consoles worldwide. For a comparison I can tell that PS2 sold more than 100 million consoles. So PS2 sold more than ten times more. So it clearly was a failure for Sega. They ended manufacturing the console as it had only been in the market for just a few years. At the same time PS2 sold steadily and continued in producing. There are many reasons why Sega failed. And many of them were not that they made mistakes but in fact the case was that they had to compete with some very good console manufacturers like Sony and also Microsoft that released also their console at the beginning of the century.

This book is very good. I had fun reading it. It tells you the whole story of Sega as a company and opens up some ideas of how they succeeded and finally failed badly and left the gaming console industry. If you are a Sega fan this is an important piece of gaming history. I am myself a big Mega Drive fan beginning from games and music that was made with and for it. This is not, I repeat, a paid or other type of commercial but more like a recommendation for gaming and Sega fans around the world reading this blog. We will be back, soon, with the next article.

My personal history with first PlayStation

It started back in the 90s. I don’t remember the year exactly. I think it was 1997. I was a very young boy then. I had some money on me and somehow I decided to get a PlayStation. I had been thinking about buying a moped with this money but as I thought about it my mind changed. I could play for years with this new console and time for moped riding would be over in some years, maybe three years or maybe until I’ll get a car to ride. I don’t recall clearly how this idea of spending my money to a gaming console went but the decision was finally made. I got a PlayStation.

My parents then allowed me to have a television in my room. It was nice. I remember the time when I first picked up the package that was delivered to the nearest post office. And do I remember? Yes I do. I had some games. Gran Turismo was the best of those games that this so called bundle had in it. The package was a used console and I think it had two games. There was two controllers included. The console, games and controllers and a memory card were delivered to me as used. But the console and all things included were in a good condition.

So back then, if you had a Sega Mega Drive, you were just a loser. That system was ten years, practically a bit of an eternity for a thirteen-year-old kid, old. I had my friend teasing me about it. Yeah, I remember I was a bit sad also. I had to pack my Mega Drive and place it somewhere for preserve. I actually took it later and placed it next to some other retro consoles, but back then I really didn’t have so much space for different kinds of consoles. I had to choose one and that was PSX.

I remember so many games. I played Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil 1, 2 and 3, Gran Turismo, Driver, Colin McRae Rally 1 and 2.0, Final Fantasy VII, Fear Effect, Tony Hawks Pro Skater, Silent Hill and many more. There were loads of games available. More than ever. And then older people, I mean older than a thirteen-year-old, started to get curious about gaming. This was time before the release of Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox. I have to mention also Sega DreamCast here, because that’s the best gaming console that Sega ever released. It was sad that it didn’t survive longer.

So I just played and played and also made my way to High School. I had much fun back then but at the same time I started to get more into studying and that somehow pulled me away from games. I started getting into music production that has been my dear hobby for many years. I finally sold my PS1. All of my games, my controllers, memory cards and the console. I got about 120 euros by selling the whole package. That was it. Or so I thought back then. Could it be that this was my gaming hobby?

Well, it wasn’t. I got into gaming again as I was studying. I was still a young adult. Games were all around and new titles were released. So I first got a PS3, PS4 and then it suddenly got me hooked on again. I bought several new consoles. I bought original Xbox and PSOne. I brought Mega Drive back to my cave, where it belongs. I ordered new stand that could hold all my gaming consoles. It had space for eight devices. I really planned it, but I was surprised when I, after lots of years, started playing Colin McRae Rally 2.0 again with the old controller of PS1. It brought back so many memories. It felt like I had met a friend that I had spent so much time with. And my friend hadn’t changed a bit.

So that is it. This was my story. Today I’m glad I can grab my DualShock any time I want, or anytime my wife isn’t watching telly, and start playing some PS1. I really was away when PS2 made history, but when it comes to playing the first PlayStation nothing in my mind can replace this nostalgic feeling that I get when I have this kind of a session. First PlayStation wasn’t as popular as the second one, but in my scale it’s always going to be first. It made history inside my personal history. And I can keep it that way. Always.

How Halo changed gaming?

First game of Halo series was released in 2001 for Microsofts Xbox console and also on PC. Gamers all over the world had already seen some amazing first person shooters that were made for PC. It was thougt back then that you just couldn’t make such realsitic and accurate shooting game for console since it didn’t even have a mouse on it. Halo changed this situation totally. It was the first really, I mean really, good first person shooter game and the first one that could be played with gamepads that had only thumb sticks.

After the release of Halo there were many to follow its path. Suddenly you just could do it. You could play FPS game with your gaming console instead of your regular PC setup where you had to have keyboard and mouse. We had already witnessed many games that were more than playable on consoles. The first PlayStation had many genres of games. It had racing games, like Gran Turismo, it had fighting games, like Tekken series. Metal Gear Solid was very good on PS1. Who didn’t like to play Tony Hawks Pro Skater? I remember everyone liked it. The point here is that we really had these games that were played on PC and some games that we only played on consoles.

There might be some debate on how you feed your reactions to the system you are playing on. There has to be a streering wheel for a driving game. You have to have joystick for Street Fighter. You can only play FPS with a mouse and a keyboard on professional level eSports. But I think some games are best, and there’s lots of them, played with a good gamepad. I haven’t even tried to compete seriously but it makes sense that you have to have a controller that is capable to sense your reactions effectively. This varies as games are very different. You could play Colin McRae Rally 1 or 2.0 and Gran Turismo with a gamepad. You still wouldn’t seriously try to compete with this method of control. But the point here, once again, is that Halo brought some difference to this matter. FPS games were now able to be played with a gamepad. And theres still exists games that are at their best when played with a gamepad.

I personally just love games that are designed mainly to be played with a gamepad. That has something, propably, to do with that I played lots of Mega Drive and PlayStation as I was growing up. That was the beginning. I was used to play these kinds of games. I didn’t play so much PC back then. Nowadays you can even play real time strategy games with a gamepad. That was once thought to be impossible. Would you play for example Populous, a strategy game released in the end of 1980s, with your Mega Drive or with your PC if you had to choose? I would go for the PC version and I think so would many other gamers. But now you can consider any game to be played with a gamepad. And that’s where we are going. Gamepads have evolved and they will keep evolving. Take a look at Mega Drives gamepad. Then take a look at PS4 gamepad. Now you can see the difference. So, this is how Halo brought this whole FPS genre, and maybe some other genres also, to consoles.

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