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Crack the Seal

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Open your new games. For years many of us have been around game communities and have seen or read about people that will buy two copies of a game, keeping one sealed and opening the other one. Why? I need one copy of a game, to open and play. Having something sealed on the shelf might look nice, but its not serving much of a purpose. Most of the people that try this speculation pick the wrong games to keep sealed, or did until they were burned by their theory or made too little profit to make it worth keeping something factory sealed for a decade.

This entire phenomenon comes down to expectations. We are all aware of how Star Wars toys became a hot collectible. Why was the market so top heavy for sealed toys though? An overwhelming majority of those toys were opened, sealed ones were the exception to this rule. Even today you can run across loose Star Wars toys at flea markets and thrift stores all the time. Sealed ones from the original lines of the toys? Not so much. This type of expectation came with the early days of video games as well. The further back in gaming history you go the harder it is to find sealed games, even boxed games can be difficult for many systems.

Nobody expects this sealed anymore, but they’re still around anyway.

Even before this current explosion of video game collecting there was speculation about the future of a video game’s price. The early days of eBay and online marketing were a wild time that lead many to irresponsible purchasing decisions and speculation. I can remember quite a few games in that time that were highly inflated and have cooled off considerably, while others have blown up as a result of a better connected world and more information on what’s actually hard to find. Specifically, I recall the days when the original Bandai printing of Dragonball GT Final Bout was the hottest title for the first Playstation. It was uncommon at best, but the series was running and at the height of its popularity. A reprint came later and the property cooled off, but you better believe that there were speculators trying to flip the Atari reprints as soon as they came out.

I can honestly remember seeing on some fan forums in the PS2 era people who were going to buy a second copy of such expensive games as Suikoden IV, Jak and Daxter, Okami, and the Collector’s Edition of Final Fantasy XII to ‘hold onto’ and ‘see what happens in the future’. Gaming is a hobby to many people, and the idea of money and a percieved second hand value to the game has fired many people up and turned people who have no business with a video game into a seller, since they know there’s money to be had somewhere. The titles that are really worth flipping if you buy cheap are few and far between, and the only real profit comes from the bulk of many libraries and how many people are digging for these titles at the moment. If I want a long term investment I’ll stick with my financial adviser and diversify my stock portfolio, I’ll probably even invest in some gold and silver as the prices for them cool down even further.

A real man’s investment.

It just takes one time for somebody to buy two copies of Rule of Rose and rake in the profits for the decisions to go all downhill from there. The expectation of newer games on the market is that they should be sealed! The buyer’s market for newer games actually makes the purchasing of used games a poor decision since there are many cases where you can find better deals online for brand new, sealed games than local brick and mortar stores have for used games. One recent example of this for me is seeing Lightning Returns for $50 at a used store, when its currently $30 at Target for a brand new Target exclusive edition, and $20 for a regular release on Amazon! As always, do your research as a buyer and you will not get hosed by a deal like that because you were not paying attention to online deals or even shopping around your own town.

What really made me start thinking about this topic was the release of Gaijinworks’ Class of Heroes 2G for PS3, and my own recent research and purchase for the original Class of Heroes 2 on PSP. I missed out on the original calling for Class of Heroes 2 to give Vic and company my money, but I made sure to send some out for a copy of 2G. While I was watching copies of Class of Heroes 2 the secondhand market was almost entirely sealed copies. I just had to wait for one that was the right price. I did see a few opened copies pop up online, but they did not offer enough in savings to make buying them worthwhile compared to a sealed copy. I’m talking an average of $10 in the difference between an opened copy and a sealed copy.

This game is supposed to be rare! Even after years on the market the price is only that much of a difference. Why is that average difference so little? Its the expectation of the sellers, not the buyers in this case. The sellers have heard for years that a sealed copy is worth more than something that is opened, and to be fair this is correct. The main difference is in profit potential. Copies of Class of Heroes 2G were flipped early on for more than double the original investment, the original Class of Heroes 2 has calmed down almost to the point where a sealed copy is as much as you would have given to Gaijinworks. Once the hype dies down so does the profit. The result? A glut of sealed games with the odd actually opened copy. Given the supply and option the buyer will choose the pristine, unopened, and barely touched copy for only a few dollars more than one that’s opened. I myself did this, and just waited for the best price and one that I could haggle on.

Case replacement fodder and nothing more.

As this article will release its likely that the hot speculative items will continue to be the brand new secondhand sealed copies of the limited edition of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. What is an item that sold at $50 for those lucky enough to get a pre-order is being listed at two to four times its launch price. And you know there are some people out there paying it. With this release, the Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL, and all the undersold Amiibos I’m sure many Nintendo fans are praying that the company starts to manufacture more than enough copies of everything to keep the shelves stocked longer than a day, maybe even a couple weeks, to chase the speculators away. But they will never truly go away anymore, just find the newest commodity to latch onto. Ten years ago it was Atlus limited editions that were heavily speculated, this is the decade for Nintendo, niche companies, and limited Kickstarter physical copies.

I opened Class of Heroes 2 and 2G as soon as I got them. I love the feeling of unwrapping a brand new game. The day that I am writing this I have a stack of three brand new, crisp, factory sealed PS3 games courtesy of Amazon sales sitting next to me, and I can’t wait to crack the seal, open them up, smell the new game smell, and flip through the manuals. I can’t experience that with a sealed game. I want to make this next point very clear, I am not trying to advocate the opening of a 40 year old, hard to find Atari game or anything related to the idea. Those have more in common with the original run of Star Wars toys than the gaming market of today. In the new market there is absolutely no reason to not open your game to play it. As much as I like looking at my shelf of games they all have one thing in common, they’re open and I can play the game hidden within, read its manual, and enjoy all the art and promotions they came with.

How else would I know what variants I got without opening my games up?

5 Best and Worst Examples of Video Game Box Art

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One of my favorite parts about video games, collecting them, and playing them is looking at the art included with the whole package. Your first impression of a game is likely going to be the first part of the package you see, the box art. With thousands of games comes as many examples of box art, and it ranges from artistic genius to as bad as a five year old’s first photoshop. While everybody else is doing their Top Games of 2014 I wanted to do something different. Those that have read me since my earlier blogging days know that most of my lists are usually different from the rest. I want this holiday special to be no different. In no particular order here are five examples of the best, and worst examples of video game box art!

Worst

We’ll start with the worst first, since these are usually hilarious and you’ll get all your gut wrenching laughter out of your system before we get super serious with the great examples of good box art.

Black Belt

I think Sega was trying to convey minimalism with this game, but with such a poorly drawn foot it ends up looking like a toddler’s doodle of daddy’s crusty toes. A positive I have about this example is that you do in fact kick people with your foot in the game, so it gets a few points for being relatively accurate. Sega’s Master System is littered with pieces of awful box art, but there are plenty of great pieces in the libraries as well. Don’t let this one example sour your opinion of a great system.

Bomberman

This one is a double whammy. The Turbo-16 art is pretty awful, but so is the NES art as well! I love how the NES box claims that ‘Nearly 1 million sold in Japan.’ I know the gaming market was smaller back then, but nearly could make one think that its not good enough to be more than a million! Also, the actual word “Bomb!” is used as a sound effect. The Turbo art looks like it could be a buddy comedy about two older and out of shape terrorists trying to get back into the game of blowing stuff up. So they dress up in space outfits and start chucking old tyme bombs all over the city to let the young’uns know who’s still in charge!

Rival Turf

Nothing makes me more frightened than seeing a couple of suburban 90’s kids looking so tough. This is their turf, so you best back off!

Tongue of the Fatman

How many of you reading this could tell, just by looking at the cover of this game, that Tongue of the Fatman is a fighting game? Not only is it a fighting game, but it is a fighting game for various PC systems. Prepare for awful keyboard controls and disgusting character design. There’s no reason at all to play this.

Metro Cross

Remember when I mentioned a five year old’s first photoshop? I wasn’t joking, not entirely at least. Metro Cross is the punchline. For trying to be rad and extreme there is entirely too much safety equipment on this piece of art. Remove your knee and elbow pads chump, we can discuss the blue and orange turtleneck one piece suit afterwards.

Best

Now that you’ve gotten your laughter from these awful, but in some cases hilarious out of your system, check out these pieces and get ready for an awe inspiring tale of talent, vision, and good planning.

Time Soldiers

Consider this the Master System’s redemption. I love the art on this cover, and the game inside is quite fun if you dig Commando or Ikari Warriors. My favorite detail about this art is not just the tank and the dinosaur trying to get through the time portal at the same time, nor is it the guy firing his bazooka at the visible time portal. No, the best detail is the guy firing his bazooka towards the viewer, alluding to the fact that there is something just off to the side that is just as intimidating as a T-Rex and a tank that we can’t see. You have to play the game to find out!

Ys Book I & II

And here is the Turbo’s redemption. These Ys remakes are considered to be the killer apps of the Turbo CD here in North America. They were highly regarded critically upon release, and had some of the best CD quality audio in video games for its time. The soundtrack has held up well, so go give it a listen. This cover makes me think this is a long lost Dio era Rainbow album. I am not disappointed that its not.

Wasteland

There is no other box like Wasteland’s, well except for Wasteland 2’s. Wasteland is considered to be one of the all time classics of PC role playing games, and introduced the gamers for the platform to a post apocalyptic view of the American Southwest. The idea and the setting would be used as the groundwork for a spiritual successor almost a decade later in the more popular series Fallout. No other game at the time took the perspective of the game, in this case top down, and made such a wonderful piece of art for their product.

System Shock 2

Looking Glass Studios is one of my favorite developers of all time. It was loaded with talent that produces some of the most well loved games today, and when it came to quality they were almost unrivaled on their native PC platform. These green eyes and the circuit wiring on the face, with the wires protruding to each side, let alone the space ship on the bottom, just let the viewer know that they are in for a wild science fiction ride.

Awesome

Just look at everything Psygnosis. That’s my advice. I don’t know what to say other than the word that’s already the title of the game.

The Science of Grinding

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You know what I love? RPGs. You know what they have? Grinding, most of the time. And there’s a lot of it here. The further back you go the more grinding there is! There are many different ways that grinding is implemented. At its heart the main goal is to gain levels, but sometimes this is a secondary goal. Because of the difference in philosophies, even going back to near the dawn of RPG games period, I have thought long and hard on different styles of grinding. I have four to discuss with the class today.

Grinding Style 1: Levels

Call it a level grind, or an experience points (EXP, XP, whatever) grind depending on the way the game handles its leveling system. This is the most common style of grinding, and it dates back to the earliest college mainframe RPG MUDs and earliest PC RPGs. Wizardry is a prime early example of needing levels to get further in the game, usually having an invisible wall where enemies get much stronger and harder, but with better rewards.

This style of game usually gives you more money than experience in terms of need that is, so gear is usually quite easy to obtain in the natural progression of the game. Just moving over the world and grinding in the dungeon should give the player enough money to deck out their party at the next town, maybe with some help from a boss drop or stolen item. Final Fantasy games are a good example of this. If you spend a little bit of time building some levels between towns then the first trip to the next one will be the big weapon and armor buy up, probably with enough left over to restock on healing items.

With some more difficult level based games, like the Shin Megami Tensei and Wizardry series, it puts less emphasis on the new gear your characters can use, and instead focuses on the natural strength of the stats. Getting a new weapon might only lead to a slight damage increase, so good control, strategy, and tactics come into play. Or you could stay with the lower level monsters and work to afford the best gear.

Having great music helps alleviate the pain.

All this talk about money leads me into my next part of the lesson.

Grinding Style 2: Gold

Sometimes a game limits the amount of money that drops from each and every battle. This completely reverses the dynamic I went over above. Dragon Quest is an excellent series in this regard. Experience and money start off fairly evenly, but soon enough experience outpaces money besides certain monsters. This series is more of a hybrid of both styles introduced so far. Even though you get more experience per battle it still takes quite a bit of time to level up as you get stronger and stronger. But, it seems the level grind is always secondary to getting enough money to fully deck out your entire party with the best gear. The level gains just happen while you save up your gold.

There are as many examples of the money grind as the level grind. Phantasy Star is Sega’s vision in this philosophy. The first one was recently featured as an RFGeneration Playthrough, so some more people there should understand the way the series starts off. It stays this way through the Genesis games for those that haven’t played them. You don’t worry about grinding levels, you just get enough money to buy the new equipment when you find some.

Money is necessary in all RPGs though, so even in games centered around any other style of grinding, you may find yourself having to stop and kill monsters for a half hour or so to afford a piece of equipment or two if you’ve been blasting through the game by being overleveled for some period of time. Eventually you exhaust your resources and have to stop to start it all over again. Grinding is a vicious cycle that some of us just can’t stop.

Give me all your gold!

 

Grinding Style 3: Skill

Some games offer the ability to use skills, and by gaining extra points to learn them or level them up, you create a much more powerful party than any other style of leveling. Final Fantasy IX has skills that you can learn by equipping certain items and gaining AP to learn the skills. You can then use skill points to equip these learned or learning skills to give bonuses, learn spells, gain immunities, and add certain behaviors to your characters. The skill system is quite deep, and the player retains complete control over the entire party to see this skill grinding come to fruition as you level. Final Fantasy VI, VII, and VIII have similar systems with the Esper, Materia, and Guardian Force systems respectively. My least favorite Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy II has a system where you use a spell repeatedly to level it up as well. This is also the backbone of all the games in the Final Fantasy series that feature the Jobs system.

Legend of Dragoon has a skill system that involves using combat combos in order to level up your Additions. Each character gains their Ultimate Addition by leveling all the other ones up to their maximum level. This creates a paradigm while playing through the game of whether you stick with a level 4 addition to finish leveling it, or start with a brand new level 1 addition you just unlocked. I usually stick with the weaker one so I never have to go back to it. You consistently get stronger this way even if you take a temporary dip of damage output.

Many tactical and real time RPGs have a similar system. The Star Ocean series has a system where you can earn skill points when you level up. These are allocated to skills that you want to level up, but this method by itself will fall far behind what can be done with a literal interpretation of skill point grinding. By gathering multiple parties of enemies together in one battle you will gain a green gem to add to the Bonus Board, and end up with extra skill points at the end of each battle.

Even Mario is guilty of this.

Grinding Style 4: Item

Item grinding is essentially the cornerstone of the endgame for every single MMO. When you no longer need experience and money flows like water, and you have maxed out skills, all that is left is to grind for rare items. These can be mini grinds in many other games, such as an item only being dropped by one monster before specific events happen. This happens with some of the runes in Suikoden II, they can only be obtained in short windows.

Item grinding probably leads to the most types of sub-grinds, but these all lead back to actually having the items to fulfill these obligations. MMORPGs commonly feature this idea. You can use items to increase your level of crafting skills, increase your reputation with certain factions, sell for money to just stockpile it or buy very expensive skills or weapons with, get better gear for your character, or help your guild out. There are many possibilities but all center around killing hundreds of monsters for a handful of items.

Farming felcloth made you insane in the membrane.

The Hook

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It doesn’t matter what I write. As long as I type it with passion along with a certain researched and practiced intellectuality. I don’t want to play unless I’m hooked like a fish. Dangle an action packed introduction that serves as a focused crash course on the basic game mechanics like I’m a catfish hungry for Kool-Aid dipped hot dogs. Also big words. Long sentences. That’s no lie. The hook brings you back. Press that power button and pick up the controller. Now for the harmonica solo.

Where is the best place for a game to dangle its bait soaked hook in front of the player? Well, at the beginning of course. Great designers know this, so in more linear gameplay and narrative driven games some of the best writing and content occurs in the first few hours. How often have the guys at the newly departed Irrational introduced a deep mystery to the player only to give them a satisfying bread crumb trail that gives them detail after detail at an almost agonizingly slow pace. But you keep going. You have to see how this crazy tale of this megalomaniac Andrew Ryan ends! You have to stop SHODAN!

How many people got hooked to Final Fantasy VII as a result of its action packed intro, essentially putting all the story and character development on hold for the first hour while you infiltrate the Sector 1 Reactor and blow it to smithereens. The rest of Midgar can get quite strange, from Wall Market crossdressing to a talking dog like creature. In FF8 you watch a nice swordfight, and it can get you pumped up if its your first time playing. Unlike the predecessor you watch the action, then wake up and spend a quiet day at school before doing anything based on action, and then you’re rudely interrupted by tutorials! Its quite a contrast compared to the sudden, jarring start of FF7.

Shut up!

Shigeru Miyamoto has said that the most important part of a video game is the first thirty minutes. There needs to be something in the first few minutes of a game to really get the player pumped up and eager to play. Pick up almost any game designed or lead by Miyamoto and you can see how true he sticks to this philosophy, from Donkey Kong, to Star Fox, to New Super Mario Bros.

For a game designed around fast and precise gameplay this seems a bit more simple, just let the player play the game. A long, narrative based game like an RPG presents another challenge though. The story might not really kick in for 10 to 30 hours, maybe not until the final act. An action packed start such as the one I mentioned in FF7 or the slaughter of the Unicorn Brigade at the beginning of Suikoden II can really get the player on the side of the protagonists, or questioning them. A slower paced character driven introduction can be just as effective though. If you’re playing an RPG you’re probably doing it for the story after all.

Some games have been so painfully slow for me that continuing would probably leave me with a perpetual scowl than any sort of accomplishment. Yes. I am looking at my copy of Grandia III. Three hours and nothing has happened. Nothing! I haven’t even left town yet! Grandia II is much quicker in comparison, with action in the first half hour and great character introductions.

Even the first two Fallouts have introductions that can almost cause ulcers, and those are two of my favorite games of all time! In the first one the first thing you do once you’ve left Vault 13 is kill a bunch of rats while leaving the cave that Vault 13 is in. Good for experience, but dull from a player’s perspective. Fallout 2 isn’t much different, except switch rats out with little radscorpions and giant ants inside the Temple of Trials. The first thing you do in the Fallout universe is play exterminator.

One thing that bugs me about games anymore is the inclusion of a mandatory tutorial. They have been around for some time, but they serve no narrative purpose and always break the fourth wall by telling you what button to press. I know what the X button does! I’ve been playing Playstation since before they were numbered! I remember a time before analog sticks and Dualshock! Get off my lawn! If I need to know what the buttons do then I’ll read the manual. But they don’t make those anymore, now I’m looking at Tales of Xillia.

When a game like Thief: The Dark Project makes the tutorial an option on the main menu its quite refreshing. You know it exists seperate from the game world because you don’t play the tutorial after selecting “Start Game”. Besides, a mandatory tutorial kills replay value as it is a guaranteed 20 minutes to an hour of just sitting there mashing the buttons to make the text go away. Final Fantasy VIII is an example of hellish tutorials. That time could be spent on an excellent cinematic scene that blows the player away from the moment they select “New Game”. A tutorial is not a hook. It is not bait. It is boredom. Don’t force us to keep playing tutorials. They should always be optional.

So what are some of your favorite gaming introductions and hooks? Least favorites? Have any gripes about modern games that you can’t avoid? Rant about them here!

HOW SONY AND MICROSOFT CAN CUT THEIR OWN THROATS

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To put this in the simplest of terms, the way the title of this article can happen is if either or both of these hardware manufacturers do one thing, charge the gaming public to activate used games. The news releases of EA ending their online pass program is just the first reason why trying to extort extra money just for buying a game that’s already been played will not work. For those of you that have not yet read about EA ending a much maligned policy of theirs their reasoning is as follows “Many players didn’t respond to the format. We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.” This translates from business speak to layman’s English as ‘We were not making a profit.’

Take heed Sony and/or Microsoft. If the 2nd largest 3rd party publisher has already tried and abandoned the tactics that you may well be on the cusp of unveiling to the public then your system is doomed from the start. It is one thing to have individual games lock content up behind a pay wall, but an entire system? The incredible poostorm that has surrounded EA and other companies using online passes to access their multiplayer components after a copy has moved from the ‘new’ to ‘used’ bin will be incredibly miniscule compared to having a paywall thrown up blocking me and other gamers from playing a single player game, let alone multiplayer.

200px-CMOT_Dibbler
Please be smarter than the Discworld Dibblers.

I know I’m only one person and this is anecdotal evidence but I spend almost 90% of my purchasing power on used games and almost never buy a game at launch. When I do it is something I have eagerly been waiting for months to come out and hone in on my targets with the precision of a falcon. I do not pre-order something if I have any shred of doubt that the game might not be good, hence I tend to stick with only a few series which see sporadic releases. Most of the used games I buy are in the $5-10 region and I’m perfectly fine waiting 1 or 2 years for the price to get there. So if either Sony or MS want to charge me an extra $5 to activate a used game and essentially double my investment, they will lose 100% of my business.

No hardware, no pre-orders, no software, no collector’s editions, no used games, nothing, nada, zilch.

I will say this once, do not forget it. Your customers are your backbone, defy them and you lose them. Your publishers are greedy snobs, listen to them and you defy your consumers. If these rumors end up being confirmed I will happily go out and buy a brand new Wii U and 4-5 brand new games just to support more level headed and less obvious cash grabby, greedy business tactics. I don’t care how weak the hardware is compared to the PS4 or possible NextBox specs, and I know Nintendo is far from perfect. That said, they will have 100% of my gaming budget if Sony and/or Microsoft is really this stupid.

ready asshole

Now here’s another scenario, only one of the two unlaunched systems will have a used game activation fee and ‘feature’. Given how close the sales are between 360 and PS3, this is just asking to get completely reamed in the backside through marketing techniques. What was once a close race turns into a landslide victory. I can see it now, “No fees just to play,” “We don’t charge a disc insertion fee,” etc. etc. Millions of potential system sales are at stake here, and those millions of systems can support hundreds of millions of software sales. We’re talking billions and billions of dollars at stake here, trillions of yen, you will not Cut-Your-Own-Throat will you?

EA Sports’ Cockfighting 2014

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What follows is one of the greatest video game related stories I’ve ever had relayed to me. I am not a primary source but this story still sticks out perfectly in my head. This happened at a large, international video game retail chain, which as I’m sure most of us can imagine or are experienced in seeing how quickly these stores can fill with parents or people that pay pretty much no attention to the industry outside of what the clerk says is coming soon and what has commercials on TV.

The store manager was on duty on this day, momentarily alone as his co-worker was on a break. Some country cowboy looking guy comes walking inside the store. Those that are familiar with the unpredictable, loose cannon redneck looking cowboy hat, cowboy boots, giant belt buckle, and white pocket t-shirt fanatic and what sort of random stuff can spew from their throats knkow that something completely awesome is heading our way.

This guy asks for a cockfighting game that was “Supposed to be out or coming out soon by EA.” The manager on duty is completely stumped by what he’s heard and asks for the request to be repeated, hoping his ears misheard. When his fears had manifested themselves as reality he turns to the computer he was already working. What followed was a few minutes of fake typing and fake google searching, this game would never exist outside of a random flash game that made the cockfighters caricatures of actual boxing stars.

So what proceeded this exchange involved the guy wondering why they did not make a cockfighting game and how well it would sell where he comes from. Trailer trash would buy many things that the rest of the public would consider completely outrageous, the country life is inherently different than being surrounded by buildings, annoying neighbors, sirens, and highway sounds. Its much more laid back and from experience, you see things that would make many urban dwellers vomit or break down weeping in a split second, so the idea of cockfighting is not as ‘inhumane’ or violent as it is in urban areas.

Still, keeping a straight face through this entire exchange takes some iron clad nerves that my experience with retail shows can pop up instantly from being put on the spot and yelled at. You tune out and turn into an apathetic policy spewer as it is your only tool to get rid of said angry or perturbed patrons. This exchange was much more friendly and it the mechanism for laughter was put down so the customer would not be offended by his completely ill informed request.

When said patron finally leaves the store the store manager drafts up an email relating this story to his fellow store managers throughout the district. The story ended up being eventually relayed to corporate headquarters where hopefully the ‘Tale of EA Sports Cockfighting 2008’ persists and gets yearly roster updates.

System Splash Screens: Judging a Console by its Cover

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For many systems you fire up the first experience you have with it involves the splash screen, intro screen, logos, sound effects, rocket ships, flying carpets, and belly dancers. Like many things the quality and effort put into these introductions can have a profound impact on the player, or potential player, of a video game console, so let’s take a look at the good and the bad ones.

The Bad

Now, in order to be fair I will not include systems which completely lack a splash screen, this is only something that came to prominence in the late 80’s for the most part (with exceptions of course). So, which ones just leave you screaming for mercy?

Amiga CD32

Well, that was pretty dull. If you’re looking for uninspired intro screens nothing really beats this one, its a CD floating in space with a wordart logo above the disc with some flashy colors flying around. This looks like a $50 job that some video editing student did after discovering how awesome the Amiga is and how amazing a system based on Amiga software with CD support would be.

It would be a commercial failure of course.

FM Towns Marty

Well, my ears are bleeding now. For a CD based system the FM Towns Marty certainly has incredibly weak sound capabilities! It even released in 1993, the same year as the vastly superior 3DO Interactive Multiplayer and even the Amiga CD32 above, at least that one didn’t have digital garbage flowing out of the speakers!

Atari Jaguar

The Jaguar just has this look, reputation, and history of being a low budget machine with shoddy engineering. It was Atari’s last attempt at greatness (and killing off their fairly popular line of PCs to throw everything at the console probably did not help matters). Now to be fair this one isn’t entirely bad, its just a bit boring. A spinning cube with a Jaguar on it is hardly menacing. But, if they had done something like the MGM lion intro it would probably have been the greatest thing ever made by Atari or any company ever! The legitimacy of the menacing roar of the Jaguar is lessened by the rather cartoony, and already by then retro, little jingle that accompanies the cat.

The Good

Sega CD

What happens when a system has not just one amazing startup screen, but two? We end up with the Sega CD! Or Mega CD if you’re not a winning American. Oh, I’m not really counting the JVC X’eye, even though that intro is fairly enjoyable as well.

All I really have to say is one thing, I have never before been so entertained by dancing logos. This just shows how superior Sega’s execution was in the early 90’s, having some of the best hardware creators this side of Nintendo. Sega can just squeeze so much life out of hardware that could be considered inferior, giving their consoles so much passion and soul that no company has really ever been able to duplicate, not even Nintendo or Sony in my opinion.

Nintendo Gamecube

Nintendo, I love you to death. What cheeky bastards these guys were when designing the Gamecube and its startup screen. Everybody loves Easter Eggs, so let’s hide not one, but two colorful eggs on the very first screen you see when playing a Gamecube, all of which are enjoyable in moderation. Absolutely brilliant!

Sony Playstation

There are few words to describe just how amazing the experience of firing up an original Playstation is. Once you turn it on its like you, the gamer, are being sent into a powerful wind tunnel during astronaut training. Then you finally get to launch up into space just as the PS logo comes up and leave the atmosphere into cool, serene calm. An absolute joy for the ears, this is the THX intro of the video game world, and it will never get old.

So what are your favorite system start up screens, least favorites?

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