25 Years of Pokémon

Pokémon Presents | #Pokemon25 – YouTube

The opening video in the this presentation is truly remarkable. You don’t quite realize how long and how much has happened in 25 years until you see it all laid out. Pokémon is undeniable and in case you forgot how big it truly has been, is, and will continue to be, watch this.

Wow.

Update (2/26/21): Now there is a standalone video of just the historical celebration – Pokémon 25 Years of Non-stop Adventure

Analogue Talks Pocket, Bots, Shipping, and Definitions

2021: Pocket, Bots, Scalpers, Limited Quantities vs Limited Editions and Customer Support – 2/22/21 – Analogue

The current global state of affairs has resulted in consequences that have affected the worldwide supply chain and this has temporarily slowed our ability to keep many of our products in stock (Super Nt, Mega Sg) and reduced production capacity for Pocket. We are aware that many users are frustrated that Pocket pre-orders sold out quickly and both Super Nt and Mega Sg are currently unavailable.

Pocket is not a Limited Edition product.  See below for a description of all terminology Analogue products are presented in. More Pockets will be available for purchase in 2021. With all things considered, we will be doing our best to keep Pocket in stock in 2021. Please sign up for a Stock Notification at analogue.co/store and you will be sent an email when Pocket will be available to purchase.

Analogue went all out with communication with their audience and being more transparent. It seems the company has heard the cries about the rough Pocket pre-order process and the their stock of other consoles being low/limited. This news comes as a positive sign that Analogue may be more open in the future. They still shared this information just months away from the restock of the Super NT, Mega SG, and DAC and the release of the Pocket, but some communication is better than none!

Between the restock, (hopefully) steady supply of Pocket consoles, and the launch of the Duo, Analogue is shaping up to have a solid 2021.

Analogue Console Restock Incoming

Super Nt, Mega Sg and DAC restocks incoming asap. Super Nt in March/April. Mega Sg and DAC soon after. There will be a heads up before live on the store. As always, sign up for stock notifications to be notified the instant they are back in stock: https://www.analogue.co/store

Analogue via Twitter

By the time the restocks come to fruition, the everything will have been out-of-stock for 3-4 months. The Super NT has been flickering out of stock since early 2020, while the Mega SG finally went out after Christmas 2020 along with the DAC. It is great to see Analogue restocking the consoles, especially the Super NT. We also just crossed the sub-100 days left until the end of May 2021, which is the current release window for the Pocket. The Duo is also supposed to be releasing this year. It seems Analogue’s production is kicking back up, but we have to see if it can keep up with demand.

Exploring the Legend – Skyward Sword, the Internet, and Traveling through Time

Nintendo finally made the retailer leaks a reality when they announced that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword would be making the jump to HD and the Switch on July 16, 2021. As a huge fan of the game, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see it ported to Nintendo’s latest, but I saw a lot of groans and disappointment from friends and folks alike online. Time has not been kind to the zeitgeist of motion controls and origin stories about talking sword spirits. Or more accurately, the Internet has not been kind.

Skyward Sword was the first 3D home console Zelda game that was developed, discussed, and released alognside modern social media platforms. Twitter launched in March of 2006, Facebook opened its blue-and-white gates in November 2006. The Wii itself launched in November 2006 alongside Twilight Princess, a dual launch on GameCube as well. I’m not saying that online discussion was created that year, forums had been around for decades. The dissemination of information started to shift from magazine scans and interviews at events to immediate, leaks and rapid-fire discussions. And the Internet at large seems to have a very short memory.

When Skyward Sword made its debut on the Wii back in 2011 for Zelda’s 25th anniversary (good gracious I am old now), it was met with rather strong critical reception. IGN’s 10/10 review by Rich George opened with the subheading “Ocarina of Time has met its match.” It’s fun and funny to look back at Skyward Sword’s launch and reception with 20/20 hindsight, but I think it is critically important to understand where Nintendo and Zelda were back in 2011.

I remember 2011 as a time when fans were clamoring for an official Zelda timeline. Skyward Sword was to be the origin of it all, but how were all the game connected. Nintendo gave us the official timeline in Hyrule Historia, a book released just for the 25th anniversary. The company really went all out for the special occasion, Zelda music was performed by orchestras, the titan that was and is Ocarina of Time was revamped and released for the fledgling ($249.99!) Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo even brought Four Swords to the Nintendo DSi via DSiWare (remember that?). You couldn’t check out a Nintendo product in 2011 and not find something Zelda related.

The Wii was also selling like hotcakes. The masses were playing games and Nintendo’s targeting of a more casual audience paid out in spades over the course of the generation. In 2011, the Wii surpassed 90 million units sold. While a lot of first party Wii games had wonderful design, it was common ground for the games to be approachable to as wide an audience as possible. A key approach was coming up with new ways to interact with the games and Wii Motion Plus’ 1:1 motion controls opened a door to sword gameplay that is instinctive. Swipe to the left and the sword mirrors your move perfectly. It made the dream of Twilight Princess’ waggle a reality.

Skyward Sword was wrapped up in a quilt and each patch represented some factor of Zelda. There was a patch for the anniversary, one for designing a game for new and old players alike, and one for introducing entirely new gameplay. One patch was solely die-hard fans hyped up for the next big Zelda game. There were patches for sales, for celebration, and an origin story to a world millions love. And when Skyward Sword was released a decade ago, that quilt was new and fitting. It’s hard to separate Skyward Sword away from that new quilt when looking back. But over the past decade, that quilt has been stretched, worn out, and faded. It’s no longer the 25th anniversary, it’s the 35th. Breath of the Wild came out and pushed Zelda forward in an innovative way. And the vocal fans have ganged up on Skyward Sword during all this time. That quilt has been kicked around, maybe left out in the rain. The perception of it has shifted.

I’m not trying to say Skyward Sword is absolutely deserving of its perfect scores or to be crowned the best Zelda game so far. Some of it has not aged gracefully. Some of it was never too hot to begin with. But having replayed the game just two years ago, it is far more fresh in my head than I think it is for most. I remember early on after launch, Fi and her overeagerness to provide hints was a drag. Returning eight years later, I found her far less annoying. I think the consistent echo-chamber of negativity toward Fi amped my negative memories of her.

With this remaster, there is a genuine opportunity for plenty of players to return to Skyloft or take to the skies for the first time. New and old Groose fans will be united. And it will have never looked and run better.

In the wake of the remaster’s announcement, I’ve also seen a lot of complaints about the price of the game.

“$60 for a 10-year old Wii game?! And it isn’t even a full-blown remake? Sheesh Nintendo!”

This comes off a silly and cheap to me. Looking at the value of Skyward Sword nowadays, it has retained a $30~40 value. That can easily be attributed to the fact it is a mainline Zelda game, but there is so much more to the remaster than just bringing a game trapped on the Wii to modern platforms.

The game is boasting a full 1080p resolution with 60fps. This doubles the original game’s resolution and framerate! Wind Waker HD ran at 1080p, but the framerate was an uncapped 30fps. Twilight Princess HD did preform better with a 1080p resolution and a locked 30fps. With a more fluid (and hopefully locked) 60fps, Skyward Sword HD’s new and improved motion controls will feel more accurate and smooth than they did on the Wii.

Nintendo has also gone through the effort to completely invent a new way to play Skyward Sword by mapping the controls to the right analog stick on the controller for the Pro Controller and handheld play. This opens Skyward Sword up to tons of more options and people. The did what a lot of people thought would never happen for the motion-controlled game.

There also remains the possibility to tweak the game and add new content like they have done with each remake and remaster of Zelda games. From Miiverse (RIP) in Wind Waker HD to a new dungeon in Twilight Princess HD, there is potential for new content/options/difficulties to be added. Only time will tell though.

If you couldn’t tell, I am super happy that one of my favorite Zelda games is being brought to modern hardware with improved visuals and controls. And maybe this will refresh the conversation that has surrounded the game for the past decade. Skyward Sword deserves a second look and I think it holds up much better than most folks think. The reimagination of Zelda started back with the 25th anniversary and it’s wonderful to see how far the reinvention has gone in the 10 years since. Zelda is not going anywhere, but it remains important to remember where it has been.

Exploring the Legend – 35 Years of The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda turns 35 today, this fine February 21, 2021. I never never beaten the first Zelda game. But like countless others, the legend is intertwined with my love for video games. Adventure, discovery, fierce battle, magic, and the people that make up each iteration of Hyrule are woven together in a tapestry that we all have a little piece in.

For the 35th anniversary, I wanted to come up with 35 posts about The Legend of Zelda and what makes it special to me and so many others.  I already have a note full of ideas. There (currently) is no rhyme or reason to the schedule; just 35 posts throughout the year 2021. My first post is about the newly announced remaster of Skyward Sword, the game that “started” it all. I look forward to digging into the legend throughout the year and I hope you’ll join me.

Preserving and Rediscovering My Game Collection

This all started when one day last month I had a concern: I became very worried that the PSN for PlayStation 3 and Vita would shut be shut down with very little notice. I had recently started rebuilding my PS3 collection. I have an 80GB “Phat” model and realized I couldn’t download all the games I had digitally acquired over the years.

Thankfully, Sony seems to have always made hard drive swapping in their consoles user friendly. I swapped in my original PS4 500GB hard drive and went download crazy. I also took out an old orange USB stick with all my old PS3 save data.

Back when I sold my PS3 and collection, I did have the foresight to backup all my save data. I never lost track of that USB stick. I keep it with my Wii U stick, a friend’s PS2 memory card, and an old 3DS SD card. It felt comforting to know that I made the right call by backing up that save data.

Then a train of thought rolled into the station.

What about all my games? I have got plenty of cartridge based games. The GameCube is my favorite system ever, how can I save that data? How do I preserve and protect my collection from the cruelness of time and the elements?

Continue reading “Preserving and Rediscovering My Game Collection”

N64Digital Price Revealed

shmups.system11.org • View topic – UltraHDMI group-buy ROUND 7 – 2021-01-30 UPDATE: via sentient6 on Twitter

The major differences are the lag and scalers used. Here is a more detailed info of what the N64D will be able to do at launch.

https://www.pixelfx.co/content/roadmap.html

The sale price will be 160. We actually lowered the hardware cost vs PS1D but the added DAC and filter pushed it right back up. – citrus3000psi

Straight from citrus3000psi on the shmups forums. Nice to know the price for the N64Digital is in line with the PS1Digital. Although, I find it even more interesting that the price was lower before adding in the DAC for RGB output and the “filter,” which I take to mean the advanced smoothing filters detailed in the roadmap.

All that is left is a specific date in April and to see the mod in action. I can’t wait.

N64Digital Roadmap Revealed

N64Digital Roadmap

PixelFX has revealed their roadmap for the N64Digital. This gives us a bit of insight to the specs behind the N64Digital. I find the biggest feature to be system compatibility with all N64 models. RGB mods for the N64 require a certain model number. I’m not sure if the Ultra HDMI mod requires a certain model number, but in my few minutes of research I couldn’t find anything indicating so.

The N64Digital will go up to 1200p, which is a 5x increase over 240p N64 games and a 2.5x increase over 480i supported games. The board also enables RBG/YPbPr analog output through the N64’s standard multiout port. This would allow the use of RBG or component cables, like HD Retrovision’s SNES cables.

You can see the whole roadmap at the link above, but it is exciting to see the initial launch plans for the N64Digital. It makes waiting for April even harder.

Google Shuts Down Stadia First Party Team

Focusing on Stadia’s future as a platform, and winding down SG&E by Phil Harrison, Vice President and GM of Google Stadia

Creating best-in-class games from the ground up takes many years and significant investment, and the cost is going up exponentially. Given our focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships, we’ve decided that we will not be investing further in bringing exclusive content from our internal development team SG&E, beyond any near-term planned games. With the increased focus on using our technology platform for industry partners, Jade Raymond has decided to leave Google to pursue other opportunities. We greatly appreciate Jade’s contribution to Stadia and wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. Over the coming months, most of the SG&E team will be moving on to new roles. We’re committed to working with this talented team to find new roles and support them.

Google’s own studio didn’t even last two years.

Google hired former Head of Sony Santa Monica, Shannon Studstill, not even one year ago.

This is, unfortunately, not surprising. The clock is ticking for Stadia on the whole. Real glad I got a controller and Chromecast for free late last year. When Google is practically handing out hardware, you know the end is near. This seems extremely disappointing for Jade Raymond, Shannon Studstill, and all the top developers that Google has hired over the last two years. Shame we’ll never play what they were working on.