St. Jude and Relay FM

Every year the folks over at Relay FM run a fundraising campaign for St. Jude’s children hospital. St. Jude conducts research, provides treatment, housing, and much more for children with cancer. Their mission is to make sure no child dies from cancer.

I started really listening to Relay FM weekly since early last year. My wife and I were blessed enough to donate (plus my employer matched it) last September. This year, we are still blessed and fortunate enough to donate. I wanted to also use this small platform to spread the word about St. Jude and this campaign. Every bit helps these kids and their families. 

Nintendo Plans Upgraded Switch Console and Major Games for 2021 – Bloomberg

Nintendo Plans Upgraded Switch Console and Major Games for 2021 by Takashi Mochizuki for Bloomberg

Nintendo Co. plans to debut an upgraded model of its Switch console next year along with a lineup of new games, people familiar with the matter said, ceding 2020’s holiday spotlight to rival devices from Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

The specifications of the new machine have yet to be finalized, though the Kyoto-based company has looked into including more computing power and 4K high-definition graphics, people briefed on the strategy told Bloomberg News, asking not to be identified because it’s private.

You can always bet on rumors flying around about Nintendo’s next console and their next Direct. This is similar, if not identical, to the rumors that went around late 2019/early 2020. Those rumors were squashed on January 31, 2020 during Nintendo’s financial results meeting.

When reading “along with a lineup of new games,” it’s hard not to imagine that being the sequel to Breath of the Wild. It’s interesting to imagine Nintendo pursuing 4K performance. Nintendo usually does not adopt modern graphical standards this soon. They stuck with cartridges until the early 2000s, kept standard definition through the life of the Wii, with continued support on Wii U! They were one of the first to technically provide consumer access to the raw digital video signal on the GameCube. I wonder how hot a Switch will get in a Dock pushing out 4K graphics.

GameCube SD2SP2 Thoughts

I’ve been a lifelong GameCube fan. Ever since the kid down the street said his Dad built them (in suburban Indiana), I’ve been hooked on the Cube. Back in 2018, I was fortunate enough to unlock the full visual fidelity of my original Black GameCube with the GCHD MK-II (the unit was provided by EON to DualShockers for review).

When I was tasked with that review, I took it as an opportunity to finally buy an Action Replay and a SD card adapter so I could use the Game Boy Interface I had learned about from My Life in Gaming.

I loved the power that homebrew unlocked for my Game Boy Player, but using the SD card through the Action Replay was incredibly slow. The Action Replay only supports a max of 2GB cards and an older standard. It regularly crashed and wouldn’t load settings.

The SD2SP2 completely changes this dynamic. It’s a small chip board that I bought preassembled from CastleMania Games for $11. It supports micro SD cards up to 1TB and modern speed standards. The SD2SP2 accomplishes this by tapping into the GameCube’s unused Serial Port 2.

I still have to use the older SD adapter and Action Replay to launch the homebrew software called Swiss, but once that boots, Swiss immediately recognizes the SD card in the SD2SP2.

It loads GBI practically in the blink of an eye. This thing is a huge improvement and greatly reduces the fiddly hurdle I had before.

RGB320: Game Boy IPS Screen Mods – My Life in Gaming

Game Boy IPS Screen Mods for DMG, Pocket, GBC, GBA, and GBA SP :: RGB320 / MY LIFE IN GAMING – YouTube

I know I was fortunate enough to lock in an Analogue Pocket pre-order, but the mod scene behind Game Boy screens has always been floating in my periphery. Try from My Life in Gaming does a great and through job going through the wide selection of Game Boy screen mods and their performance. I was looking around the Handheld Legend store and it’d rough cost $90-100 to mod one of my GBA consoles.

But I’ve also been investing in my “get Game Boy games on my TV” set-up lately too…

The Legend of Zelda: The Missing Link is a Rad Fan N64 Game

The Legend of Zelda: The Missing Link

Trailer

This has been sitting in my blog post queue for a while. Nearly a month ago now, I saw this tweet for Micahel Koczwara and immediately downloaded this fan patch. I played the game over the course of a few nights; all-in-all it took me between 3-4 hours to beat. It’s a fun, puzzle-focused Zelda game. It’s got original music that has a catchy earworm quality to it.

I played the game on my Mac with a CRT filter and used a N64 to Wiimote adapter to play with a real N64 controller. There is a certain level of camera jankiness that I don’t recall from Ocarina of Time, which I last played in just over a year ago in 2019. The final boss in particular, while featuring a rad design, had some serious camera issues that frustrated me. Overall, it’s a fun fan-mod that is totally worth checking out if you are into Zelda on the N64.

When did I get so many Controllers?

panorama

I swear I have no idea how this happened. I woke up one day and had 41 controllers in my apartment. This doesn’t include the few remaining in storage either.

Here is the break down:

  • Nintendo Total = 30
    • NES Joy-Con = 2
    • SNES / SNES-Styled = 6
    • N64 / N64-Styled = 5
    • GameCube = 7 (Got another WaveBird since this photo was taken)
    • Wii = 4
    • Wii U = 1 (technically 5, if you include Wii, but that’s double-dipping)
    • Switch = 5 (not pictured are the Joy-Cons on my wife’s Switch)
  • PlayStation Total = 11
    • PS1 / PS1-Styled = 3 (Not pictured is my original PS1 controller currently in storage)
    • PS2 = 2 (Not pictured is my Guitar Hero III guitar controller)
    • PS3 = 1
    • PS4 / PS VR = 5
  • Xbox Total = 2
    • Xbox One = 2

I think it’s obvious where I have spent most of my life playing games and what controllers I prefer. My favorite controller ever is the GameCube WaveBird. It is a wireless champ and the GameCube’s A/B/X/Y layout is smart design for the platform. With one glance, you can tell what the button heirarcy is and you are never far from any button. The analog triggers are perfectly springy with the most satisfying click at the end. If only the D-Pad wasn’t mushy. Thankfully, I can turn my GBA into a controller for my GameCube thanks to a link cable.

I love the GameCube controller so much I have a brand new one still in the box.

By far, the most money I’ve spent per controller is for the Xbox. The Elite is rock solid with good heft and those sweet, magnetic, clicky paddles. My work on IGN’s Cuphead and Celeste guides would have been much more difficult without those paddles. As for the steering wheel – I love Forza Horizon. I cannot wait to finally play those games in 4K on the Series X. The only problem with the steering wheel is that there is no room in our apartment to use it without dragging our dining table in front of the TV. No super feasable, so I just keep it tucked away until we get more space some day.

My small(er) set of PlayStation controllers is definitely the most practical out of them all. Platform focused with not a ton of fluff. The only reason I have so many DualShock 4 controllers is I keep buying PS4 Pro consoles. The only one I bought solely as a controller was my transparent red controller. I kept the transparent yellow controller from the Death Stranding PS4 Pro and The Last of Us Part II PS4 Pro came with a sleek gunmetal gray controller.

I probably have too many controllers. In my defense though, I find the controller to be essential to how I play a game. I’m not a mouse and keyboard person. I grew up on the N64 controller. My brain is wired for analog sticks, triggers, and buttons. I find playing with a game-accurate controller to be just barely more essential than playing with a physical cartridge when applicable. I have adapters to use old controllers with new systems. To me, the controller is the way fully experience a game.

Halo Infinite Delayed, Xbox Series X Confirmed for November 2020

Today I want to share an important Halo Infinite development update with the community. We have made the difficult decision to shift our release to 2021 to ensure the team has adequate time to deliver a Halo game experience that meets our vision.

Chris Lee, Halo Infinite Studio Head, via Twitter

Citing COVID-19 related impacts to development, 343 Industries and Microsoft had made the appropriate call to delay their biggest incoming title. Halo Infinite was supposed to be a launch title for the Xbox Series X. Immediately after seeing this delay, I told my friends that Microsoft will be leaning heavily into the fact that the Series X can play old games better than ever, if it launches in Holiday 2020. Mere moments after typing that, I saw Microsoft’s official blog post with the headline “Xbox Series X Launches this November with Thousands of Games Spanning Four Generations.”

We have plenty to keep you busy until Chief arrives: There will be thousands of games to play, spanning four generations, when Xbox Series X launches globally this November and over 100 optimized for Xbox Series X titles, built to take full advantage of our most powerful console, are planned for this year.

While understandable and the right course of action, this delay is a major blow to the Xbox Series X launch. With Microsoft’s heavy emphasis on cross-generational support, even allowing controllers to work across devices, this console launch feels less like a generational leap and more like a small hardware upgrade. While on paper it is, in fact, a next-gen leap, the loss of a huge launch title is significant in regards to perception — especially if Sony and Insomniac can keep Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on track.

Update: Originally, I had Chris Lee listed as the 343 Industries Studio Head. I wondered if Bonnie Ross had a higher title, and made an assumption with Chris’ given title of “Halo Infinite Studio Head” in the tweeted statement. That’s what I get for assuming.

Mixolumia – Drop Puzzler Euphoria

Mixolumia by davemakes

I saw this game pop up in my Twitter feed this weekend thanks to Justin Ma of Subset Games. His comparison to Tetris Effect is what immediately drew me in. After scrolling through the Mixolumia thread and watching some gameplay, it didn’t take long for me to snatch up a copy. It is the perfect game to play after countless hours in a huge open world game like Ghost of Tsushima. Mixolumia is clean, simple, and addictive.

Mixolumia is a drop puzzler that is a fusion of the aforementioned puzzler titan Tetris and Puzzle League. I even get some Puyo Puyo vibes. It’s all about stacking the board and clearing same-colored blocks by lining them up with three (or more) in-a-row. It works extremely well with a controller, but would be even better if it allowed users to map the controls however they saw fit.

The soundtrack is also generated as you play, with options to swap soundtracks or even have composers make soundtracks for the game. It’s got tons of color palettes and accessibility options to boot.

What struck me as the most interesting bit wasn’t the game itself, but the fact that there is an entire Twitter thread following its development, which started back on January 28, 2019. I always find insight into game development to be both fun and educational to explore. Even if you don’t pick up the game, reading through its development is worth your time.

Mixolumia is only on PC and Mac at the moment through itch.io. I haven’t tried rotating my screen, but I feel like the game was made for a “tate” mode. I think it’d be right at home on mobile and especially on Switch, which would be able to support all those features. Hopefully, davemakes considers those and other platforms for the future. Mixolumia is a visual puzzler treat that deserves to be as widely available as possible.

PS1Digital Review, HDMI for PlayStation 1 – Digital Foundry

DF Retro Hardware: PS1Digital Review – HDMI for PlayStation 1 – Pristine Image Quality! by John Linneman for Digital Foundry

The PS1 is getting some time to shine in the FPGA spot light. This is not using a FPGA to emulate the hardware, but rather to upscale and output the video signal in a digital format.

This is a huge stride toward bringing real PS1 hardware to the modern display era. You seriously cannot believe that a game console from 1994 is capable of outputting such clean, sharp pixels. This video also makes me want to replay Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Xbox Game Pass – Leaving Soon [Official Music Video] [with lyrics] – Xbox

Xbox Game Pass – Leaving Soon [Official Music Video] [with lyrics] – YouTube

That game you love might leave, so play before it goes / And check the app for “leaving soon,” its important that you know / Ahead of time, to prepare your last goodbyes… / Load up your favorite game and play it for the final time…/ good bye game…i love you.

I think the ad itself is rather silly. I bet it actually was made in Windows Movie Maker. The ad also raised one of the key issues I have with streaming game services as a whole. I realize this is no different than streaming movies, TV shows, or music, but I do not care for the idea that a game I may be actively playing just exits the catalog one day. Xbox does allow you to purchase a game with a discount if it is in Game Pass.

Maybe I am just stuck in an era where physical ownership has importance with consumers. It’s why I’ll pick a PS5 with a disc drive. But even with digital -only games, I do prefer paying for them and just having access to them at all times. Digital games can go away at any time (look at PT) or completely change over the course of their release; Destiny is not the same game it was at launch. Heck, look at Fortnite or Minecraft. Kids today will not be able to play those games later on in life the same way they are now. Either the game will be dead or won’t even look like what it does today. I suppose I am just an old man who likes owning old things.