No I’m not mad, though I do have to admit that it’s almost impossible to be as stupid as Sega were when they released the Saturn (even if they made up for it with their Dreamcast).
Anyway, there seems to be more than a passing resemblance between the situation with the PS4 and Xbox One, and with the Playstation 1 (PSX) and the Saturn.
Here’s my list:
1. E3 1995. Sega announced that they would release a new console on September 2nd 1995 though to the annoyance of both retailers and consumers, secretly shipped the console the night before. In what has become known as one of the greatest stand ups, Sega famously touted the Saturn and its apparent affordability of $399. When Sony took the stage all that was said was something along the lines of “Sony Playstation. $299” to rapturous applause.
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PS4 – $399
Xbox One $499
2. The Sega Saturn was notoriously difficult to develop for because late in the development stage having heard about the PSX’s capabilities, they decided to throw in another CPU to try and double its performance output. It turned out that only around 1 in 100 coders had the ability to fully utilise the dual CPU set up, meaning that it was too much bother to develop any games for. Sony’s Playstation on the other hand only had one single chip that was a lot easier to work with.
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PS4 – Like the Xbox One, it will feature an x86 84 architecture instruction set, but Sony have learned from their lessons with the PS3 being quite difficult to develop for but giving the PS4 8GB GDDR5 unified memory taking this a step further.
3. Sega began to lose the plot as early as the Mega Drive/Genesis (what with their numerous add-ons).
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
PS4 concentrates on games, while the Xbox One seems to have a fascination with entertainment and the integration with its Kinect controller. Who cares about entertainment when the main reason we buy these things is to play games? If I wanted anything to do with any other form of entertainment I’d go online, use the smartphone or use my TV and Blu ray player. It’s safe to say Microsoft have lost the plot here. In this sense it actually has more in common with Philips CDi –
multimedia entertainment platform indeed!
4. As previously mentioned, Sega began strapping on as much as they could afford onto the Saturn to match the purported abilities of the PSX.
Similarities with the PS4 and Xbox One?
Microsoft basically cocked up big time when it first announced the Xbox One, leaving many gamers asking questions about the direction Microsoft was taking the Xbox brand. However after this they refused to reveal any more details about the machine until June 2013 (obviously having waited for what Sony would announce at E3 that same year). Following this obvious lack of preparation and thought on Microsoft’s part, they then discreetly started copying Sony’s PS4 overall model, first by denouncing their earlier intention to run hourly checks in order to play any games and the used game fiasco, but then by deciding to make the Xbox One region free. What’s also interesting is that the basic set up is fairly similar (on paper) to the PS4 including the RAM, but it’s pretty obvious Microsoft hadn’t given it as much thought as Sony had.
Jason Venter, a self-professed “Nintendo fan” was given the chance to review a Sega game a few days ago. Now you may be thinking that what I am about to say relates to the bickering that took place between Nintendo and Sega all those years ago but you’d be wrong, because a Nintendo fan should know a classic for when they see one. In this case it’s obvious that he’d never touched the game before in his life.
Anyway I draw your attention to the abysmal review of Jet Set Radio on Xbox Live, PSN and PC Digital, in which he awarded the game 4.5 out of 10 simply because it didn’t live up to his modern standards (and while he didn’t say this in so many words you’d have to be blind to miss it).
Jet Set Radio was a revolutionary game first released on the Dreamcast in 2000 because it was the pioneer of cel-shaded computer graphics, which in turn created a massive spurt in the number of games that similarly exhibited it: XIII, Zelda: Wind Waker, Prince of Persia (2008). The list goes on.
In Venter’s review while it is true that JSR found prominence primarily because of its aesthetic design, to believe it won over its many fans on this point alone is foolish to say the very least. I’d go so far as to say it shows a great deal of ignorance on Venter’s part.
I say this because in retrospect it would be like giving Pac-man 4.5 for its “barren” landscapes (never mind that this was due to technical limitations at the time), Defender and Super Metroid (for it’s backtracking) should get 4.5 because “You may overshoot your intended destination, and that often means you must backtrack through hazardous territory so that you can make another attempt.”
Under Venter’s rationale Ikaruga, Darius and every other scrolling shooter for that matter, would similarly deserve 4.5 because “Until you memorize the stage layout in its entirety (along with the route your rivals follow), you don’t stand a chance.” Please note that those in quotation marks have been lifted directly from Venter’s actual review – I kid you not.
So we must ask ourselves: how can we honestly take guys like Jason Venter and the media outlets like GameSpot that they represent seriously? The simple answer is that you can’t, but what you can do instead is to head over to other websites like Eurogamer or perhaps IGN where their reviews aren’t quite so ridiculous as to lose all credibility.
We all like to read about an end of an era (though this largely depends on which side you’re from).
I’m actually talking about the end of the high street videogaming vendor. I don’t know if many of you remember the old days of Electronics Boutique but with recent news that Game is about to go into administration and Electronic Arts’ worrying statement about their views on how Game should proceed, it does appear that videogame vendors will become a thing of the past.
To further compound the situation, Microsoft have recently implied that the next generation of Xbox console will no longer feature an optical disc drive; instead having games downloaded onto some form of portable card.
I have to admit that I have always wondered why the games industry continued to use discs as a format, because they are so easy to break and even easier to scratch. From the Philips CD-i and Sega’s Mega-CD through to the Playstation and so forth, the industry has continued to embrace the format set about by the ‘Compact Disc’. Even Sega’s Dreamcast (which used a proprietary GD-ROM disc format) attempted to create something different, but still nevertheless retained the ‘disc’ as its main format of choice.
The reason why I say this is because I was (and still am) a massive fan of cartridges due mainly to the fact that they had no mechanical nor moving parts, and were merely an extension of the console’s built-in architecture once you slotted them home. Discs were only adopted because they had far greater storage capacity which meant that companies like Squaresoft could populate their worlds with FMV sequences and other lazy drivel. They were also preferred because they were cheaper to produce then cartridges.
However we now seem to have come back full circle for as cheap and as affordable as discs now are to produce, not only do they not have the storage capacity for future generations of game console (Xbox 720 or PS4), but are just too unwieldy and cumbersome for today’s gamers. Strange thing here is that the cards that the next Xbox console will purportedly use will have more than a passing resemblance to the cartridges of old (I’ll let you think about what I mean by that).
Anyway back to the subject. Game vendors. I remember the old days of going to Electronics Boutique and the day they eventually bought and took over Game – one of their main rivals. Some time later, the owners decided to do away with the EB corporate branding and instead adopted Game as their brand identity. To my knowledge it had something to do with licensing the name of EB (which was a separate U.S company) over here in the UK which had eventually run its course (though correct me if I’m wrong here but I can’t be arsed to search on Wikipedia for the details).
When the original Xbox was released, Microsoft once made a claim that all games would be downloaded thereby making the purchase of discs from high street vendors obsolete. I remember hearing Nintendo’s reaction to this as being one of absurdity, however it seems now like the cogs have already been set in motion. Nintendo already came around to the idea of downloadable content with the Wii, though you’d never hear them admit that Microsoft was correct in its prediction. You have to remember that it was Sega’s Dreamcast that got Microsoft thinking in this way, for the DC was the first mainstream console to have internet connectivity from the word ‘Go’.
Anyway I have to admit that I will not be sad when Game finally gives up the ghost, for they have been a thorn in the side of many developers and publishers over the years. I talk mainly about the fact that vendors like Game would often buy back games from their customers at a fraction of the price, but would sell them on second-hand for much higher. The issue here of course was that none of the money they obtained from the sale of second-hand goods would ever go back to the guys and girls who developed the game, instead going into Game’s coffers. Well that’s Karma for you I guess.
Game in dire straights: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-09-game-has-two-weeks-to-turn-its-fortunes-around
Next Xbox will not have a disc drive: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-09-next-xbox-wont-have-a-disc-drive-report
EA’s statement on Game on Feb 2nd 2012: http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a363470/ea-concerned-about-financial-state-of-game.html
My first Bethesda Softworks game was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind which remains one of my favourite games of all time. However having said that, it was filled with bugs. In fact here’s my youtube retrospective on it:
One infuriating bug was when the game would suddenly have a message appear that seemed to lay blame on the player having a dirty disc. Well sorry Bethesda, but I always keep my discs in immaculate condition so it’s not the disc nor the machine at fault (as all my other games ran perfectly fine).
There was another bug within the game whereby you could create spells that would increase your stats – permanently, as well as creating items that were god-like in status thanks to a bug relating to the use of soul gems (in which you could capture the souls of creatures within a gem to enchant an item). Plus the game would often freeze for no reason whatsoever.
There are many more to add to this but I think you get the point.
Because I hadn’t played any of the others within the series, I asked a friend of mine about his experience with Bethesda’s games and the first thing that came from his mouth was “terribly buggy”. He went on to describe how his experience with the series will always be remembered because of the buggy code and the fact that “they were ambitious in their ideas but their coding was truly awful”.
It seems that my friend is not the only one who thinks of the word ‘bugs’ when talking about Bethesda because on USEP one person implies that their games are ‘accompanied’ by them: “Unfortunately, since the release of Daggerfall there have been a plethora of bugs that accompany it.” (Source).
Well fast forward to 2011 and we find that nothing much has changed. Skyrim for the PS3 has massive frame rate issues which deem the game unplayable (as demonstrated by examples on youtube):
Even after a recent patch it seems that there are still many players who experience the problem:
What’s even more worrying is the notion that this won’t be an issue that’s easy to fix, as it could be something relating to the ‘divided memory pool’ of the PS3 which doesn’t affect the Xbox360 and PC versions – which by the way have no issues.
Strange thing is that Bethesda have again laid blame on something else other than their ability to code games properly. In a recent statement Bethesda seemed to lay blame on the PS3 architecture, though we need to remember that the PS3 is a ‘fixed’ format; users do not have to forego spending extras on upgrading the hardware like PC users do. How then can they do this when it’s easier to create a game for a fixed format than it is for a format that has hundreds of different setups? It doesn’t make sense. Well, it does make sense and I’m back down to earth now – Bethesda’s coding is what makes sense here for it’s crap. Pure and simple.
Before Skyrim was released I asked that same friend whether he would be purchasing the game upon release and at first he again told me that he expected the game to be buggy. However I championed the cause and believed that Bethesda had truly left behind those days where their games were released with bugs and all. Plus you have to remember that for all of Morrowind’s misgivings, it was still one of my favourite games of all time.
I asked him again just before launch if he would buy it and surprisingly, he had had a change of heart and said he was going to buy the game. I’m just glad he purchased it on the 360 for if he’d bought the PS3 version he would probably never talk to me again!
This will probably be the last Elder Scrolls game that I ever buy, but I’m left with the lingering question: Bethesda, when will you learn??
Apart from the awesome name, Mecha Fetus Visublog is a consolidation of various (though exceptionally talented) artists – some at University or college, some not – who decided to bring their different artistic styles together while at the same time keeping updated. What’s even more amazing is the fact that some of the artists only do this in their spare time and not within a professional capacity.
With sources of inspiration ranging from video games to traditional manga, Mecha Fetus is not only a feast for the eyes and hilarious in their parody of game characters, it’s a veritable treasure trove of modern trends and ideas from East to West of the globe.
So let’s introduce EU03 and Kinuko who have been kind enough to answer a few questions:
Q1 – What got you guys (Persona, EU03, radrappy, Paul and Kinuko) started on Mecha Fetus Visublog?
EU03 – Persona merely wanted a site where he and several people could keep updated with new content semi-regularly. Same reason why a lot of people start weblogs; they want to get exposed to a larger audience.
Kinuko – It was mostly Persona’s idea. We were friends in art school and decided to just make a blog to post art with a few other friends. That’s about it, really.
Q2 – Could you each give a brief description of yourselves and what you do?
EU03 – I currently live in southern California. I just graduated from a four-year in Biological Sciences, and looking to attend graduate school soon; drawing was never in my cards for a profession. I just like to do it as a hobby.
Kinuko – I live in LA and work freelance doing animation and illustration, mostly in games– most recently Paul, Persona and I worked on Ubisoft’s Scott Pilgrim game. I’m also currently animating on Skullgirls (www.skullgirls.com)
Q3 – How did you each come up with your names? What was the idea behind them?
EU03 – I used to go around as EvaUnit03 around several forums before (still do, I suppose). Somewhere along the way, I didn’t want to be branded with the stigma of having an overly “anime” name, so I just shorted it to EU03. That, and EU03 is easier to sign.
Kinuko – Kinuko is just my middle name.
Q4 – What do you hope to do with your work and the site in future? Do you have thing planned for the future such as bringing more artists on board?
Kinuko – I’m not really sure where we want to take the site. As long as it remains a place for my friends and I to post our stupid pictures, then I’m happy.
EU03 – Nothing in the immediate future; I’m not looking to go professional. I’m pretty sure we’re not interested in having more people join the site.
Q5 – Mecha Fetus is very much related to video games isn’t it? Who are the fans of these games in your group and what are your favourite games?
EU03 – I’m a huge fan of beatmania IIDX and pop’n music, but I haven’t bothered with other rhythm games outside of Bemani. I’ll play pretty much anything, though; I’ve been recently investing time into Modern Warfare 2, Team Fortress 2, Espgaluda II, Deathsmiles, Persona 3 Portable, Bayonetta, Red Dead Redemption, Trauma Team, etc. I’ve been falling out of JRPGs though, they take too long to get started and the timesink doesn’t feel rewarding. I do prefer arcade or arcade-styled games, with their high skill barrier and fast action.
Kinuko – I’ve always been a fan of survival horror games; maybe my favorites are Clock Tower for the SNES, the Resident Evil remake for the Gamecube and Silent Hill 2. Apart from that, I like Metal Gear Solid 3 a lot.
Q6 – How important is art to you and the rest of the guys in the group?
EU03 – I can’t speak for the others, aside from that animation is their job. As I said before, drawing is only what I do on the side, but I’m very grateful for it allowing me to meet all sorts of interesting people through it.
Kinuko – Pretty important, I’d think? Most of us do art for a living. I’m not totally obsessive about everything art related, but I’d always like to improve.
Q7 – How happy are you with the art in video games today? What are the games that are inspirational in terms of their artwork (Rez, Star Fox, Shadow of the Colossus, Otagi for example)?
EU03 – I think it’s fine currently, and it will continue to progress as we get into the next generation; though I will admit that there are still some developers who should focus less on pushing polygons and working with more interesting textures, animations, direction, etc. Look at Matsuno Yasumi’s games; Vagrant Story was a perfect example of a late PSX game that should have belonged on the PS2. FFXII still looks a lot better than FFXIII in many respects since there was just so much care put into the textures and colors into it. Odin Sphere and Oboro Muramasa are a prime example of the strength in 2D animation that still can’t be done in 3D engines.
Kinuko – Yeah, I really like Monster Hunter and Final Fantasy 12. I feel like with both those games, a lot of care and thought was put into the design, art direction, and animation. I guess they’re both not artsy games so much, but I think they’re pretty inspiring.
EU03 – But honestly, people should stop getting caught up in worrying about the level of “art” in games. Critics rag on the latest games because they have too much brown and bloom, and yet they contradict themselves by heaping praise onto SotC (though I will admit the execution in those games are different). Mainstream games are for mainstream players, but that’s not to say there aren’t good developers who understand the level of depth that comes with good art direction; look at Valve. TF2 is one of the best recent examples of an excellent art direction that integrates seamlessly into the core gameplay with the use of red and blue color integration, distinctive silhouettes, endearing characterizations, etc. It’s particularly these sorts of games that will become remembered for a long while.
Q8 – Do you consider video games as art?
EU03 – I don’t care at all for this argument. I played Rez once, and that was enough for me.
Kinuko – Hmm sure, I think games can be art. Just because we’re playing them doesn’t mean they can’t impact us in the same way art does.
Q9 – What other sources of inspiration do you draw from when creating your art? Who are your favorite artists and why?
Kinuko – A lot of our ideas come from each other, I think. I know a lot of my pictures come out of dumb conversations Paul and I have. As far as favorite artists go, I love Kinu Nishimura and Akira Toriyama, as well as a dozen artists I’ve mostly seen online, like Hoshi Kubi and Kawayoo.
EU03 – Well, I pretty much draw only women, so I look up mainly to artists who can do the same with great skill. In fact, falcoon was my chief inspiration for turning my style around practically overnight; he’s an artist that loves to play around with interesting proportions and setting a style outside what used to be the norm. I later drifted towards Ugetsu Hakua’s drawings for his strength in technicality and his paintwork, basically the Japanese equivalent of Hyung Tae Kim back then. Lately, I’ve been following Soejima Shigenori because of his very stylish, yet down-to-earth, designs, and I’ve been following a great deal of other smaller name artists in doujinshi and websites (mota, kyo, styleos, houden eizo, fbc, azusa, etc).
Q10 – Your work seems to derive from Japan and the Far East (manga for example), was this something every one of you had to enjoy or was it a matter of each having their own places and sources of inspiration?
Kinuko – I think we’re all fans of Japanese stuff, but in different ways– I actually don’t really care for anime right now, but I did grow up watching it and reading manga and it comes across in my work. We do all have some mutual interests though.
EU03 – I’m Korean, so I was naturally brought up with Asian cartoons. I think most of us were in similar situations, drawing from anime and such when we were young, and it’s what we progressed into.
Thanks again for your time!
Persona – http://persona.mechafetus.com
Radrappy – http://bralyollyoxenfree.blogspot.com
Kinuko – http://fever.mechafetus.com
EU03 – http://eu03.mechafetus.com
Paul Robertson – http://probertson.deviantart.com
Sega’s Virtual On Force (電脳戦機バーチャロン IV) has recently been announced and I cannot wait to be honest.
Virtual On was one of my favourite games in the arcades and on the Sega Saturn/Sega Dreamcast (VO: Oratorio Tangram) in which you controlled robots in a fight to the death. You could only really get the most out of the game if you played with the twin sticks, but modifying Steel Battalion‘s controller might prove to be an attractive alternative – but only if you don’t want to reduce its value on ebay that is.
What I liked about the games were that each robot had their own personality, and it was a nice change from the clichéd dark overtones found in many games of the time (Game Arts’ Gungriffon for example).
VO:OT is already available on Xbox Live Arcade where the game was well received, and if Sega can build on this momentum it’s going to be a sure winner…or is it? I have my doubts as I always do with my beloved Sega, but you can only hope.
The game will be released on the 360 at the end of the year.
Now that US supermarket chain Harris Teeter have joined forces with Myboneyard, people may now recycle their old and battered consoles – and get paid for it!
Coming so soon after a survey reported 360 owners suffered a ‘bone crushing’ 42% failure rate (compared to 8% for PS3 and less than 1% for the Wii), Microsoft can take pride in singlehandedly keeping Myboneyard in operation!
These figures are sure to remain a bone of contention for M$ however – blame the boneyard shift!