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By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 May, 2017 At 09:53 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Opinion, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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LJN is one of the most reviled names in retro gaming. The publisher put out some of the worst games on the NES, SNES and other systems, but not all their games were bad. One game that tends to get a lot of hate is Back to the Future on NES but I feel this hate is unwarranted, and the game is actually nowhere near as bad as is claimed.

Back To The Future admittedly does have a bizarre way of adapting the game, and it seems to have nothing to do with the movie at first. I was one of many people who thought this until it was made apparent what I was missing. Back to the Future on NES plays much like an arcade game more than anything else, and its various levels and styles all play like something out of an 80’s arcade game. While we may remember the big names like Street Fighter, Final Fight and Smash TV, the truth is that there were many arcade games that were just like Back to the Future. When looked at in that context it becomes a lot easier to see what the developers were going for and I can appreciate it. Indeed, the levels on the streets are the most reminiscent of this style, especially with getting power-ups like skateboards and weapons. It is clear what the developers were going for, even if they didn’t hit the mark.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is an amazing hidden gem for the NES ( though I would argue another LJN licensed game, Nightmare on Elm Street, actually is a hidden gem), and there is a difference between “not a bad game” and “a great game”. I view Back to The Future on NES as more middle of the road, nothing too bad but not anything great. I actually managed to have fun wasting time with it, and even the side levels like catching hearts or catching notes were fun. Arcade games would often have hard segments like this to guzzle more quarters, so again, I get what they were going for.

Now, I will address the major complain people have. The music is atrocious and cannot be defended as it is. The thing is, the music was not supposed to be like that. The music as composed, was a faithful 8 Bit rendition of the music from the movie. Now I have heard two explanations for what happened with the music to make it what it was. One explanation was that the music had to be licensed separately and when this was found out, it was sped up to hide it. The other explanation is that it was programed into the game wrong and it was sped up and not fixed due to the game being rushed out.

If you do not believe me about the music then listen to this

 

 

 

All in all, Back to the Future on NES cant really be called a terrible game. Its just kind of there. It can be enjoyed and for all the complaints about Marty looking weird, even faithful licensed games like Batman made strange choices in character appearances. I don’t understand the hate and I thank people like 8-Bit Eric for helping make me aware of the game’s good qualities . I encourage you to try the game again and consider it from this perspective. Just avoid Back to the Future II and III on NES, as that game is truly horrible.

 

(Thank you to Larry Bundy Jr for sharing the video above. You can check out his youtube channel here , I highly recommend it)

(Check out 8-Bit Eric’s channel here.)

The article was inspired by Cygnus destroyer ( Check him out here)

The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Real Otaku Gamer and its staff

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The Nintendo GameCube era was a time of experimentation for Nintendo. It was during this time that we got games like F-Zero GX via a collaboration with Sega, Metroid Prime and Eternal Darkness. All of these are classic games still loved by players, but there is one game that Nintendo published for the GameCube that sticks out like a sore thumb.

Geist was developed by n-Space, who were under contract with Nintendo at the time. The game went through a period of development hell and was delayed numerous times, as well as undergoing numerous revisions. What started out as a horror themed sci-fi FPS eventually became a first person horror adventure that was a bit of a disjointed mess. The game had some great ideas, such as possessing characters in order to interact with the world, but it was badly handled and was a deeply unsatisfactory experience. The thing is, some of the great ideas the game had, have been used by other games since in some form or another, including Prey to an extent, and these were handled extremely well.

Geist’s problems can be attributed to the horrible development cycle it had, and if given a new developer with a proven track record for success, the game could be rebooted and given a fresh start. There is new tech available today for game design, people are thinking outside the box, and the game’s ideas can be made into a truly epic sci-fi horror game.

But what developer/studio could revive the IP in a successful way, and that Nintendo could trust? The answer is for Nintendo to look inward, as they have the perfect studio to work on it. Retro Studios works best on games that have a western focus/appeal more to the west, and if they are not working on Metroid or Donley Kong, this would be a perfect new project for them to handle. They have the pedigree for amazing sci-fi games and are masters of intricate game design. Moreover, they have the Nintendo design philosophy down pat and can be trusted to deliver a true polished game. People were skeptical about Metroid Prime at first but it is regarded as one of the best games ever made. Their Donkey Kong games are some of the best platformers ever made and have great attention to detail to the extent that they won people over, when they were upset at the idea of Retro working on that series.

Retro could make Geist their big epic project for the Switch and create a new experience for fans. It could be what the original was supposed to be, but on a bigger scale. Moreover, Nintendo is now more open to these kind of games and given the reception many of these games have, it would be amazing for Nintendo to have one of their own, designed in-house, with a top tier developer behind it. Geist had some amazing ideas that weren’t used properly and Retro Studios is the ideal studio to take this IP and turn it into a success.

 

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The Elder Scrolls is a beloved series that has been ongoing sine the 90’s. Each game since the first one has been set in one province of Tamriel, with the second game taking place in the kingdom of Daggerfall in High Rock, the third game in Morrowind, the fourth in Cyrodil and Oblivion and the fifth in Skyrim. There has been heavy speculation that the upcoming sixth game will be set in Valenwood and this wood be excellent, but I have a different idea. To me, it makes much more sense for the sixth game to be set in Hammerfell, the home of the Redguard people.

There are many reasons that this is the case. For one, Hammerfell is a unique setting and while parts of it are desert, it also has cities, plenty of ruins both Dwemer and Ayleid and areas like mountains, and areas similar to Skyrim, and a coastal region as well. In fact, the island of Stros M’kai would be the perfect setting for DLC with a pirate theme, as it is a base of pirates according to the series lore, much like Solstheim was for Skyrim and Morrowind. As well, the Alik’r Desert itself is described in ways that make it almost a living character in its own right, much like the terrains of Skyrim. It could have some survival elements that would make things tougher than in Skyrim which should satisfy those who felt the games have become too easy.

There are enemies that would be truly unique that are established in the lore for Hammerfell like Assassin Beetles and others. These would help establish the setting and its unique nature much like Skyrim and Morrowind did. But what would the plot be? Well, following on from Skyrim, we know that the Hammerfell is in conflict with the Aldmeri Dominion and is not on good terms with the empire. Hammerfell also borders Skyrim and there has been speculation that should the next game establish that the Stormcloaks won the civil war, the Alik’r warriors might see a connection in their struggles and seek to ally with the stormcloaks. Even if the next game establishes that the imperials won, the story could also have the Empire trying to get Hammerfell to rejoin again.

The conflict with the Thalmor would be a major plot point like before, but it doesn’t need to be the only one. Hammerfell is one of the three provinces of Tamriel where the Dwemer once lived, along with Morrowind and Skyrim. Fans have been wanting a resolution to the mystery of the Dwemer for a long time, and Skyrim confirmed the Dwemer are still out there somewhere. Interestingly, the character who reveals he has seen the Dwemer, is a Redgaurd himself. This could be the game that establishes the return of the Dwemer, and positions them as a major threat much like Skyrim was about the return of the dragons.

Morrowind had the protagonist be the Nerevarine (possibly), the reincarnation of Indoril Nerevar, and the following games also had the player character have a connection to older forces ( becoming a Sheogorath, and being the dragonborn respectively). So what would this game have for its protagonist? This is actually the easiest to answer as its established that the Redgaurd have among their gods, HoonDing, the make way god, who appears when the people need him. Instead of the Thu’um as in the previous game, this game could use Sword Singing techniques that the player can learn as you progress.

As mentioned, there is a lot of potential for DLC such as island of Stros M’kai, but DLC could also be set directly in Skyrim  or at least the parts of Hammerfell controlled by Skyrim and maybe even let you fight a dragon or two.  There is a lot of potential for the game if it is set in Hammerfell. We could get a full backstory for the Redgaurd’s beliefs ( unlike in Skyrim where they used the worship of the divines) and we could see the next step of the war with the Thalmor. It would let us directly see the fallout from Skyrim, and we could see the next step of the Elder Scrolls evolution.

I hope I have made my case for it to some of you at least.

 

Let me know what you think of this idea. I would love to find out what other fans think.

 

By Nate VanLindt On 10 May, 2017 At 12:35 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Opinion, ROG News | With 1 Comment

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If you’ve made it past the title of this article, you’ve probably already formed an opinion on this issue.  However, let’s set the record straight.  I love Nintendo’s games.  They make fantastic first party software and many of their games are quite fun.  They also make some durable hardware and their handhelds have excellent battery life.  I’m not a fanboy for any system, I’m just a gamer who likes to play a variety of games.  Unfortunately, Nintendo is making it harder and harder to do just that.  I simply want to buy a system, buy a game, play the game.  It should be a simple recipe, but things have somehow gone wrong.

First up is the hardware.  Forget about all the older systems as we already know how great those are.  Let’s only look at the newer systems.  The WiiU has a painfully paltry 32 GB of storage space without buying a hard drive for your system.  Essentially there is no storage for modern games, especially with the trend towards digital distribution that Nintendo is trying to push.  The same goes for the Switch: a brand new console that has 32 GB of storage space (expandable with MicroSD).   Add the fact that Nintendo’s systems rely on gimmicks like the WiiU tablet and the Switch’s portability instead of raw power for higher-end software like the Xbox and the PS4 and you have an underwhelming experience.

On the portable front, Nintendo is also shooting themselves in the foot.  Since the original Game Boy Advance, they’ve made multiple hardware revisions to every single system they’ve released without offering any rebates to the consumer.  Being an early adopter with Nintendo is a punishing experience.  The 3DS is on its third revision since its release currently (the New 3DS XL) and the announcement just came that  they’re putting out a 2DS XL system and are likely to retire the 3DS line altogether.  As an early adopter to the 3DS line, I lost money replacing the 3DS with the 3DS XL when it came out due to the vastly superior screen and system design.  I did the same on the New 3DS XL which could play some games that the previous iterations couldn’t in addition to a more stable 3D experience and better battery life and screen quality.  In looking at the 2DS XL reviews, it also appears that the build quality has cheapened on the new units with thinner, flimsier top screens and a messy and easily fingerprinted matte color scheme to save fifty dollars on the price.

At this point you may be wondering why anyone even bothers, with 5 versions of the hardware out there.  Nintendo really needs to take the time to determine a solid design and stick with it.  Every version of hardware I have to buy means less games that I buy for that system.  And software makes more money than hardware.  Simple, right?   Don’t even get me started on the NES Classic, one of the most high demand Nintendo products in recent memory, which was under-manufactured, poorly distributed, and then shut down before demand was ever filled.  It was essentially a console that was one big ad to remind people that Nintendo was still around and it was purposely made scarce to fuel demand for Nintendo products.

Now we come to software.  Nintendo, like all game companies, is putting out software that’s unfinished, requiring internet connections and updates for optimization.  In addition, they’ve begun catching up on the DLC market that other consoles and computers have been exploiting for over a decade.  But Nintendo has terrible internet connectivity in their devices, a poorly optimized digital storefront, and worst of all, their digital content is extremely expensive.  If they run sales on DLC, the sales are 10-20% off, not the deep discounts everyone else does.  And now they are leaving out large chunks of their games and charging full price for the remainder of the games too.

Look at the forthcoming Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.  It’s a $40 game which you can buy the season pass for, providing all five DLC packs for the low discount price of $45, five dollars more than the game itself!   And that $45 is a 30% savings off of the retail price of the downloadable content!  On top of that, the game has a pair of Amiibos that can only be bought in a set for $24.99 which unlock additional content.  In the end, to get the complete game with all content works out to $110 plus tax!  This is becoming a standardized marketing tactic and a large number of consumers are falling for it.  I’ve purchased every North American Fire Emblem game since the original release on the Game Boy Advance  and due to this style of predatory sales, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia will be the first Fire Emblem I will not buy.  I feel confident in saying that it won’t be the last one I skip either.

This isn’t an isolated incident either.  Many of Nintendo’s larger first party titles have expensive Amiibos that had very little to actual gameplay.  The much-lauded Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (WiiU, Switch) which only came out a month ago suffers from Amiibo diarrhea.  Eighteen (yes, you read that right) Amiibos add content to this $60 title, five of which were released just for the game totalling an MSRP of $84 plus tax excluding the other 13 figures.   It also already has an Expansion Pass available at a whopping $20.  It’s a large pack, to be fair, but it brings the grand total for the official Breath of the Wild content and main game to a ridiculous $164.   And don’t forget that if you don’t rush to get these short-printed Amiibos, the price goes up quickly on the secondary market and you may end up paying as much as $60 on eBay for an ‘out-of-print’ figure that was just released.  Not all consumers will buy all the extras, but the point is that they shouldn’t have to in the first place.  A game should be overall self-contained when it is released and this is certainly going overboard.

Finally, Nintendo also has a unique view on digital rights management which only allows the transfer of your digital content to another console a total of eight times.  With my upgrades to various iterations of Nintendo systems, I’m personally up to five transfers on some items and that’s without ever having broken a system or had one stolen.  A few more upgrades and I won’t even own the content I paid for anymore, whether I’ve had a chance to play it or not.  No other company does this.  Not Sony, not Microsoft, not Steam.  For everyone else, once you buy it, it’s yours as long as it’s on your system or still available on the server.  What makes Nintendo so different about this?  As far as I can tell, simple greed.  There’s absolutely no excuse for this system of DRM.

I’m tired of paying for inferior processing power on my hardware, multiple hardware upgrades, add-ons that don’t add-on and content that should by all rights be free downloadable additions or already in the game.  As consumers, why are we tolerating this ridiculous amount of nickel and dime-ing for a sub-standard payoff?  I find that for the amount of money I have to spend on Nintendo’s products, I’m simply not getting enough enjoyment out of them anymore.  As gamers, we need to speak with our wallets if we ever want this to stop and Nintendo is the place to start that conversation.   We need to ask ourselves if we are buying for the love of gaming anymore or just simply buying because we can’t stop ourselves.  And we need to be aware that the money we spend, even if it’s just a couple of bucks on a random DLC that interests us, equates to millions of dollars worldwide for companies that don’t put out a better product with that money.  I’ve loved your products for a long time, Nintendo, but I just don’t think I can support your company any longer.

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By Jonathan Balofsky On 30 Apr, 2017 At 04:42 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, Opinion, PlayStation, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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God of War for PlayStation 4  is coming soon and will be set not in Greek mythology but instead in Norse mythology. This is a great way to shake things up but I do have some concerns about this.  The previous trilogy was about Kratos’ vengeance against the gods, sparked by his vendetta against Ares, the Greek god of war. Given the way media often likes to make many mythological figures similar to ones in other cultures, it makes me concerned that the developers will try and give Kratos an enmity with the Norse god of war, Tyr.

In fact, many modern fictional portrayals of Tyr use him as a villain,, and this includes story arcs in the Marvel Comics Thor series. However, this is completely wrong, and usually is the result of writers using him as an Ares stand in. To be fair, the Romans did identify Tyr with Mars when they discussed the Germanic peoples and their beliefs, but there is another issue there. Ares and the Roman god Mars were not the same figure, and in many ways Mars is incompatible with Ares. Mars was the second most important god to many Romans and was a noble god of war, a protector god and a patron of farmers. Tyr is also incompatible with the myths of Ares, since among other things, in the original Germanic myths, he was king of the gods, and it was only centuries later that the cult of Odin got more prominent and Odin became the top god. The writings of the Romans about the Germanics clearly record Tyr, referred to as Mars, as King of the god, but did acknowledge, Mercury (Odin) as an extremely popular one, albeit  only among certain warriors.

Another key point is that Tyr wasn’t the only god of war among the Norse people actually. In fact, most of the Norse gods were war gods in some form, and Odin and Freyja were two of the other important war gods. Tyr had A domain in war, and that was as the patron of soldiers, the common warriors, and of personal combat. Tyr was god of a number of things besides this however, and these include wisdom, justice, law, honor, bravery, compassion. When it came to war, he was the incarnation of the noble and protective aspects of it, and in many ways was the Norse counterpart to the goddess Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom.

An actual evil god of war for the Norse would actually be Odin surprisingly enough. Odin is thought of as the king of the god, but in truth was only really important to the nobility of the Norse people and  this was only centuries after the Germanic people met the Romans. bear in mind, most of the surviving Norse myths are from Iceland, and were written for the nobility. Odin being the top god was a result of the Nobles preferring him and having stories written accordingly. these stories were later Christianized by later writers, and many surviving stories only come from Christian sources.

The common soldiers did not generally prefer Odin and actually preferred Tyr and would dedicate their weapons to him. The farmers in turn worshipped Freyr and Thor,  who were the fertility gods of the crops. Of course Thor was also the protector god for many. Another thing that isn’t widely known about Odin was that he had many names and one of them was Oathbreaker. The breaking of oaths was big taboo is Norse culture and many sagas involved this and the damage it brought. Furthermore, as mentioned Tyr’s domain in war was of the common soldier, and the protective aspects of war, but Odin’s domain was the berserkers and the destructive aspects of war . The goddess Freyja was also associated with destructive aspects of war and was noted for her blood thirst, similar to the Morgana.

Odin just makes far more sense to be the overall villain right from the beginning of the new series.. He did many bad things in the myths that he later suffered for and can be easily argued as outright villainous.  His actions, many of which were to prevent Ragnarok, actually caused it, and he often made life worse for many. It should be noted, that he was originally a death god, but his domain there was not of honorable death. Tyr was noted for being the bravest of the gods and did the things no one else was willing to.

As a history buff, and a mythology nerd, I hope the writers have properly researched the myths and don’t just take the easy route. Norse myth is very interesting and full of grey and grey morality. It had a very different value system than the Greeks, but at the same time, a lot of it is misunderstood. I hope I have cleared up some of it here.