Tag Archives: special feature

The Best Cables for the SEGA Genesis, CD, and 32X

Volrton, a.k.a. the SEGA Genesis, CD, and 32X combo is one of the most complex systems to connect.  In this video I not only show you how to connect it, but also provide valuable info on getting the absolute best picture and sound quality from the massive machine.

If you’re looking for the most convenient way to connect the SEGA Genesis, CD, and 32X, this is it.  The cables you see in this video are available from the following two sellers.

Retro Game Care (Seller of the Trio M1): http://retrogamecave.com/
Retro Console Accessories (Seller of the link cable and RGB SCART Cables): http://stores.ebay.com/retroaccessories/

Analogue Interactive CMVS Unboxing & Overview

The day has finally come, Jarrod unboxes and shares his initial thoughts on the Analogue Interactive Consolized MVS. This bad boy was ordered the first week of December and arrived in mid-November. We wanted to let the next-gen consoles have some time to shine before showcasing this beast. Now the time has arrived for us to switch gears and debut this wonderful new addition to the C.O.E. family

Games that Defined the Neo Geo Pocket Color

You all know I’m a big SNK fan, and I took inspiration from Steven’s latest Hidden Gems video to look back to one of my favorite portables no one knows about, the Neo Geo Pocket Color.  It was released in 1999, sold about 12 copies and then disappeared forever.  What you might not know is there are several excellent games for the series, and today I’m going to talk about a couple of them.

Hopefully you enjoyed this nice little trip down memory lane, and if you’re interested in seeing reviews on any of these games, please just let me know.

Nintendo DS: Hidden Gems – Part 2

Last time I talked about Nintendo first-party hidden gems for the DS, but this time around let’s switch gears and talk about third-party titles you may not have ever heard about, or may have simply missed the first time around.

Be sure to leave a comment letting me know what other DS gems you think the mainstream may have missed out on.

Why Nostalgia Can Be A Dangerous Thing

Nostalgia is awesome, it allows long-time videogame fans such as myself to go back and play through some excellent retro games. Take Earthbound as a recent example of nostalgia working in my favor. Game companies like Nintendo have been making millions off of gamers’ nostalgia for retro games. It’s one of the main reasons why the Virtual Console has been such an international hit, because people always hold certain vintage games in a certain light because of the nostalgia associated. This article isn’t about the pros of nostalgia though, no instead this article looks at how certain publishers are using nostalgia to cash in, when in fact their product is actually garbage. Case in point…

Say hello to Contra: Evolution, which is a complete reworking of the original NES classic by Punchbox and Konami. This is a perfect example of a publisher simply cashing in on players’ nostalgia of one of the best NES games ever released. This game is absolutely horrible as it is, yet looks awesome and is currently one of the highest selling apps on Apple’s App Store. It has sold well over 2 million units already, since being released in late June. So what gives?

For one thing, Konami knows if they price this thing at $0.99 people will buy it based purely on nostalgia, and that’s exactly what people are doing. The comments say it all.

“This game plays like complete crap, but for a buck why the F not.”

“I can’t even survive the first minute, but come on its an NES classic!”

Doesn't this look awesome?  Shame it plays so awful that you won't want to play for more than five seconds after purchasing it.
Doesn’t this look awesome? Shame it plays so awful that you won’t want to play for more than five seconds after purchasing it.

The list of comments like these go on and on for pages. So what kind of a message are gamers telling publishers when they purchase games like this? Well for one, that there’s no real point to put any effort into making a videogame based on an existing property. To make matters worse the in-app purchases are a complete joke. You can pay real-world money to purchase extra lives, continues, and even weapons. I mean, really?!?! What’s sickening is that the game is making millions for Konami!

Don’t think for a minute it’s just Konami either, oh no, all the big console and PC publishers have learned that people buying these games are completely clueless. Capcom released an all but unplayable version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, EA released Battlefield 3: Aftershock which just might be the worst app ever released on the App Store, and the list goes on and on. So why are these smart AAA publishers doing this, because people are buying these dollar games like wildfire, which constantly pushes them to the top of the charts and as a result gives these companies no incentive whatsoever to try and make better products. In the end, they’re using our very memories of these classic experiences, or famed franchises against us.

As awesome as it sounds to play a classic game completely remastered, without having proper and precise controls there’s no way these games can hold a candle to their original versions, however people overlook these “minor inconveniences” thanks to the incredibly low asking price. This is one of the major reasons why dedicated portable gaming devices like the 3DS have been so successful, because publishers know they have to put a thoughtful product out there or no one will pay $40 or more for it. Dedicated gamers know this, and as a result are playing significantly better games.

At the end of the day people are to blame for what’s currently happening to the mobile gaming market, and I fear that one day this could spread to the rest of the industry. Once prices go low enough, and people start buying games without even thinking about what they’re buying, publishers stop caring about releasing a quality product. As it is now, I’ll gladly go buy Contra Rebirth on the Wii eShop for a few bucks more, knowing at the very least I’m getting a much better product in the end.

Steven and Jarrod’s Night on the Town

Sometimes you just want to let loose and have fun, and that’s exactly what Steven and I did this evening. We met up at our favorite discotheque and let the good times roll.

Dance1

Take a look at those eyes, you could tell crazy stuff was about to happen, and boy did it!

Dance2

Dance3

After we danced our butts off we decided to take a quick break from all the action. Dancing’s hard work you know!

Dance4

While we were sitting down relaxing a bit, we noticed that other party animal who was wreaking up the dance floor so we figured we couldn’t just let him dance alone.

Dance6

Dance5

Look at those moves! Once the clock struck 8:30 or so we decided that was enough. There’s only so much dancing you can do before your legs give out.

Dance7

This is how we ended the evening, just sitting down enjoying the beautiful moonlight.

Dragon Quest Monster Museum Figurine Unboxing

It seems Ahmed isn’t the only one who’s got something to show and tell.  I picked up these two figurines for next to nothing, but had to wait a while since they shipped from Japan.  These two little guys are about the cheapest Dragon Quest figurines you can buy, and I just wanted to show you guys.  I hope you enjoy the video.

Pretty cute little guys wouldn’t you say?  These two now have a permanent place on my work desk, which is where these magical COE updates occur.  Can’t wait for a few other surprises I have coming in soon ;)

Luida’s Bar – Taking Your Love of Games to a Whole Other Level

Ever wonder what it would be like to step into one of the inns from a Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy game? You know, as in actually walk up to the place and lay down some cash and rest for the evening. Well three years ago this very idea was pitched and a collaboration between Square-Enix and Karaoke Pasela formed Luida’s Bar, a real-life establishment in Roppongi, one of Tokyo’s major nightlife spots. For those unfamiliar, Luida (also known as Patty in North America), is a character in several of the Dragon Quest games that helps players form a party. She’s been featured in DQ III, V, VI, and most recently in Dragon Quest IX.

Earlier this year Luida’s Bar celebrated its third year in business, and I thought it would be neat to introduce our North American and European readers to what this place is all about. Think of it like a small resto-bar (seats around 25 people) that serves dishes inspired by the videogame series its named after. You can order Slime meat-cakes, there are Drakee alcoholic beverages and so much more. The staff cosplays, which is excellent, and the menu has all its prices in gold (1G = 1 Yen). Here’s a brief look at some of the goods, and the restaurant itself.

DQ literally decorates the walls of the resto-bar.
DQ literally decorates the walls of the resto-bar.
Welcome to DQ heaven.
Welcome to DQ heaven.
Classy, and awesome all at once.
Classy, and awesome all at once.

space

Now that's a menu.
Now that’s a menu.
Time to reach level 5!
Time to reach level 5!
Yes even the directions have a DQ flare to them.
Yes even the directions have a DQ flare to them.

Pretty incredible, wouldn’t you say? I know more than a few COE members would be up for checking out Luida’s Bar if one existed on our side of the ocean. I know I would be all over this place if I was ever in the area. It just goes to show how popular Dragon Quest is in Japan. Over here we’d have to have Cid’s Bar or something because unfortunately Dragon Quest just wouldn’t cut it. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, and whether or not you’d be interested in seeing other establishments that were based on games come to life.

Isn’t it Time the Erdrick Trilogy Return to North America?

Dragon Quest fans have had it rough over the years. First we were never properly introduced to the Dragon Quest series because the trademark belonged to the makers of Dungeons and Dragons so the series had to be named Dragon Warrior. Next, it took far too long for the translations to hit North America and as such the games started to look extremely dated next to games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the like. Finally we missed out on Dragon Quest V for the Super NES, even after the translation work was all but finished (or extremely close to being finished), when Enix left North America back in November 1995 due to poor sales of the Dragon Warrior series. That’s what I call rough!

North Americans were SO close to seeing this back when it was new, but alas it wasn't meant to be.
North Americans were SO close to seeing this back when it was new, but alas it wasn’t meant to be.

Thankfully things turned around when Enix returned in 1999. Their first game was Dragon Warrior Monsters for the Game Boy Color. That was a great time for fans of the series because the company quickly announced that Dragon Warrior VII (PS1) would be making its way to North America shortly after the debut in Japan. In reality it took a year to arrive, but at least it was released. From 1999 to DW VII’s North American release in late 2001, fans were treated to Torneko: The Last Hope (PS1), Dragon Warrior I&II (GBC), Dragon Warrior Monsters 2 (GBC), and Dragon Warrior III (GBC).

While it was awesome to have the Erdrick trilogy on the GBC, it was far from ideal. Sure these remakes had tons of improvements over the originals, from expanded and fleshed out storylines, to additional classes in DW III, the biggest improvements made were to the core gameplay. Now players could talk to people, open doors, and do other super simple actions with the press of a button instead of always going into the menu system. Another major improvement was made to the core combat system. In the original games if players had two people attack the same Slime, for example, and the first team-member killed the Slime, the second member lost his turn. These remakes adjusted that so the second member would automatically attack the next enemy on-screen. We take small improvements like this for-granted, but go back and play the original games and you’ll see how cumbersome and archaic they feel.

Very few people even knew what this was when it was released, let alone give it a chance to succeed.
Very few people even knew what this was when it was released, let alone give it a chance to succeed.

The biggest problem with the Game Boy Color remakes is that they look extremely dated today. Thanks to the small screen real-estate, Enix had to make everything super tiny in order to fit what they needed to. Enemies don’t look anywhere near as detailed and smooth as they should. Also playing Game Boy games isn’t as easy as it once was. You have to go and pickup a Game Boy Advance SP (best GB ever created!), or a Game Boy Player for the GameCube. Most people would likely just emulate the games and be done with it. Even the original NES games are extremely hard to find, and ultra expensive. They have yet to appear on the Virtual Console for either the Wii or the Wii U, making them true collector’s items.

So what’s the big deal you might say, only that Dragon Quest/Warrior III is widely regarded as the best game in the entire series. While I don’t agree with that statement myself, the game has sold over six million units in Japan since it was released. That number includes the two remakes. Two remakes you say?! That’s right, the purpose of this article is basically to enlighten those that may not know, but there is indeed another, far superior remake to the Game Boy Color version, the ones released on the Super Famicom. See, there’s a reason why I mentioned Enix leaving North America in 1995 ;)

Dragon Quest I.II was released in 1993 for the Super Famicom, with Dragon Quest III hitting in 1996. These are the ultimate remakes, and have never been released outside Japan. While there are fan-translations available for emulators, it would be absolutely awesome to have Square-Enix finally release them in an official capacity. Today, DQ fans can easily purchase DQ IV, V, VI, and IX on the DS, and with any luck we’ll be able to purchase the DQ VII remake on the 3DS sometime next year. DQ VIII is also readily available for the PlayStation 2, and odds are looking good that DQ X will be released at some point on the PC. So with all these games available for fans to play, it seems a little odd to be missing the original trilogy, wouldn’t you say?

The pic says it all really.  The Super Famicom game looks even better blown up.
The pic says it all really. The Super Famicom game looks even better blown up.

Over in Japan the situation isn’t anything like it is in the rest of the world. Dragon Quest is their series. There’s really no equivalent in North America except maybe Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto, but even then it’s not exactly the same. The Dragon Quest series is part of their pop culture like you couldn’t even begin to imagine. As such they get remakes every single console generation. I won’t bother listing all the remakes they’ve had that we missed out on, but they’re numerous. The original trilogy remakes were just released as part of an ultra cool 25th anniversary collection for the Wii back in 2011, that the rest of the world completely missed out on. I never bothered importing it because it required an import Wii to play, or one that cracked the region blocking. Here’s a teaser of this incredible collection.

While I knew this collection would never make its way outside Japan, I’m now wondering if Square-Enix has plans to remake the original trilogy using the DQ IV, V, and VI engine, or the newly crafted DQ VII engine for the 3DS. I know each game would be a huge success in Japan, and would increase the odds of a worldwide release. The first two parts would likely be included together if only because of how very short the original Dragon Quest is in relation to all the others. I think it’s about time the rest of the world gets to experience these excellent games in a newly minted restoration, or at the very least via the incredible Super Famicom remakes. What do you think?

Shin Megami Tensei IV – Things I Don’t Care For

Every game can’t be perfect, and in face no game truly is. SMT IV is no different. There are a few things that most media outlets ignore, that I’d like to discuss. I’ve also done a video highlighting a few of these annoyances to act as a companion to this article. So let’s jump right into it.

To begin with, when you finally make your way far enough into the game you’re taken to what is effectively an overworld. From here you take the shape of a little circular icon that moves around a static backdrop. Enemies appear every now and then and will chase after you, but that’s not what’s annoying. No, the annoying part is that the map can be extremely difficult to navigate because it is hard to see. It’s entirely possible to get stuck for an hour simply because you couldn’t see the dark blue path next to the dark gray path, and that’s the only way to proceed to your next destination. Other times there will be microscopic gates that hinder your progression, and all you had to do was move around them, but because of the color scheme what should be super simple can become a chore.

By far the biggest annoyance is with some of the optional side-quests. Notice how I say optional, as you don’t need to do them if you don’t want to. That said, if you’re like me and you want some of the awesome rewards the side-quests offer, you’re going to try to complete everything. A lot of these quests will have you venture back to the earliest portions of the game in order to hunt down a specific demon, or to collect a certain number of item-drops from older enemies. In theory this shouldn’t be a problem because of how geared and leveled you are at this point in the game. The problem is there’s no aggro table in SMT IV. An aggro table essentially means that monsters are only interested in you if you’re equal or lower level than they are. They won’t bother to attack you if you’re over five levels higher than they are, as doing so is completely pointless. The player gets no experience, and the monsters will all be one-shotted so what’s the point. Without an aggro table though every single demon in the game will come running after you even if they have no chance of beating you. What this does is artificially extend the game’s length. What should take you five minutes takes over an hour. The end result is, a lot of these optional quests can become quests of patience more than anything else.

SMT IV 2
The attack might look cool, but if it doesn’t connect you don’t use it again. Simple as that.

Finally there’s the issue of A.I. Frequently this game will hand you your ass on a beautiful platter, but then at other times you’re left scratching your head. One common complaint people have with the Dragon Quest series is when they’re fighting an enemy and the creature at hand casts a spell even though they’ve run out of MP. Doing this once is fine, doing it four times in a boss fight is ridiculous. Something similar happens here too. While you’re battling a demon, it will cast an ice attack on your one character that’s completely immune to all frost damage, thereby forfeiting their turn and allowing you to counter. Doing this once is perfectly fine, but having that very same demon repeat said attack three more times is ludicrous.

So is the sky falling, is SMT IV doomed, I’d say by taking a quick glance at the game’s Metacritic that the answer is an overwhelming no. The rest of the game is extremely fun, and the demon collecting and fusion system is a blast, and clearly the most enjoyable part of the game. It’s just that sometimes people can get a little excited about one aspect and ignore the others, so I thought I’d do something a little different and highlight some key things that have been popping up that aren’t so hot. Expect the full review in the next few days.

Shin Megami IV Combat System Overview

Curious how the combat system plays out in Shin Megami IV, I’ve got a video to explain it.  I’ll try to improve my 3DS-filming skills, but for now this should give you an idea.

The game is brutally hard.  Even if you don’t make a single mistake you’re going to die, A LOT!  I need to fuse demons in order to try and figure out the perfect team to use against each new floor in the “dungeon.”  I’m having fun right now, but the difficulty is just destroying me lol.

Shin Megami Tensei IV Has Arrived!

This little teaser video says it all.

I’m currently playing through the tutorial and it’s quite a unique RPG.  The beginning was brutally hard, but things seem to be easing up the more I level.  I’ll have much more to say about the game in the coming days.