Thursday, March 22, 2018

RIP Nintendo Wii Shop Channel

As most video game fans know by now, Nintendo will be closing the Wii Shop Channel in just 4 days, 03/26/18. After March 26th, you'll no longer be able to add Wii Points to your account. Come January 2019, the entire channel will be shut down.

With the deadline quickly approaching to add Wii Points, I accessed the Wii Shop channel last weekend on my Wii U and grabbed several games that I've been putting off. It's been a long time since I've even accessed the channel, so it was a little overwhelming looking at all of the titles that were offered across the different gaming platforms.

I've never been too interested in downloading NES or SNES games, so I kept to the titles in the TurboGrafx-16 library for the most part. Even though I own the original TG-16 hardware, the games have become stupid expensive on the secondary market and these digital versions were about $6 each. While I don't always care for digital games, this just made sense.

The first game I downloaded was the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden. I had fond memories if playing this game at a time share resort my parents used to take the family to up in the NC mountains. The download was reasonably priced so I went with it. After playing it the other night I'm afraid to say that this is one of those games that hasn't aged well. The controls seemed really stiff and the gameplay was just average. Granted I was playing with the Wiimote and not my Classic controller. I'll have to give it another go with the better controller and see if that helps.

I already owned a few of the excellent titles that were released on the WiiWare channel, such as Blaster Master, the Konami Rebirth titles (minus Gradius, that will be my last download) and even the shmup I never see mentioned anywhere, Star Solder R.

Thanks to several recommendations online, I grabbed the Famicom game Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa. I'm a big fan of Hudson and I've always wanted to play this, however I figured I'd just pick up the actual Famicom cart instead. This is another one of those games that thanks to YouTube, the price for the cart has steadily risen so this just seemed like the logical way to own the game (for now). I already had Ice Climber (my wife's choice) and Super Mario Bros. 3.

I grabbed a few TurboGrafx-16 shmps that sadly I don't own anymore, such as Blazing Lazers and Dead Moon. Again, the US version of the games are getting expensive and so are the PC Engine versions. I'll still pick up physical copies eventually, but for now that was a good $12 spent in my book. I also grabbed Ninja Spirit, a game that I've never played but have always heard good things about. I had a great time running through that game the other night.

I looked at several Neo Geo games as well, but I own an AES console and have an MVS adapter cart and have a pretty good SNK compilation on the PS2. Between the MVS games and the PS2 collection, I am pretty well covered. I do plan on going back and downloading the CD exclusive shmup Iron Clad while I still can.

I know I and many others keep waiting for Nintendo to make some kind of announcement for the Switch, because otherwise there are a lot of great games that will be disappearing very soon. Many of these games aren't available digitally on any other platform so I hope Nintendo works something out before the WiiShop Channel closes for good in January 2019.

Monday, March 5, 2018

New Acquisitions: February 2018

February seemed to come and go before I even knew it. It's already a short month and it went by so quick. I don't have a lot to show for the month, but I did pick up a few new games and one item for my game room. You can see above that my pick ups were all for Sony platforms, a rarity for me.

Hermie Hopperhead is a game I first saw on somebody's YouTube channel. It's an import friendly action platformer from Japan. I've only played it in small quantities thus far, but so far it seems to be a lot of fun. Best of all it was really cheap too!

I'm a shmup fan at heart so it's always a good day when I land a new shooter. I've always been a big fan of the original Raiden, but surprisingly I don't own a version of the original game since I sold the Atari Jaguar version. Just need to find myself a good arcade stick for the Playstation and then I'll be all set!

I originally imported this game from, but the language barrier was just too much for me to get past. I didn't think a game with anime chicks that transform into cars would get a western release...well I was wrong. What I have been able to play of this game I liked. Now that I'll be able to follow the story I'm looking even more forward to revisiting this game.

I know nothing of this game. I ran across it last month when I found Drive Girls and it was priced pretty cheaply and looked interesting. Haven't played it yet. Haven't even searched out any YouTube Let's Play videos. I noticed after I bought the game that it was also released on the PS4. Hopefully the Vita version holds up well.

Early in February I was treated to perhaps one of the best new additions to my game room in a very long time...a nice couch. Previously I had two Lazy Boy recliners, but they were hand me downs and starting to show a lot of wear. My chair in particular wasn't very comfortable after an hour or so. Playing games with my whole family meant my girls either had to sit in someone's lap or on the floor. I've been wanting to upgrade my seating for awhile, but couldn't find what I wanted that was in my price range. Finally my great step-father was able to find this like new couch at a Habitat for Humanity retail store and gave me a hand picking it up.

Now regardless of what system I want to play, I have a good view of either TV in a very comfortable setting. This makes long video game sessions much more fun as I melt into the couch. I'm starting to feel like my game room is nearing completion with this latest furniture addition.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Custom Nintendo Famicom Cases

Being a collector of action figures (Transformers) there came a time where I started to care more about how I displayed my collection. In the past I used open air track shelving, but in recent years started to remove some of the shelves to make room for glass cabinets from Ikea. Then I started to tweak each shelf more by using acrylic risers to get the look that I wanted.

This mind set has eventually manifested itself with my video game collection. While I've always had my games organized on media shelves, I decided to take it a step further to improve the look of the games on the shelves. While I understand that not everyone will understand why I've done what I've done, it's OK. There is no wrong way to collect or to display your hobby.

I'm blessed to have a second living room on the main floor of my home. I'm super blessed that my wife has graciously allowed me to set up an arcade machine, two televisions, over 20 video game consoles along with 5 media shelves that house my games. With my room being wide open on the main floor my wife's one rule is that I keep the room clean and nice looking. While she hasn't specifically told me I needed to "box" my loose cartridge games, it does look the shelves look a little nicer in my opinion.

While there are many options to "case" loose cartridge games like NES, SNES and more, I've yet to find a pre-made hard plastic case for loose Nintendo Famicom games. I know that Namco and Taito released some of their games in hard plastic cases, but even if I could find a supply of cases to use I still wouldn't have the artwork to place inside the exterior sleeve. I've looked all over the web for some type of solution to help me with my dilemma and I finally found what I was looking Russia of all places.

Thanks to eBay seller bitspixels, I now have two hard plastic cases for the games Holy Diver and Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain (Shatterhand). These are small clamshell like cases, think Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. They snap shut tightly, have clips on the inside to hold the cartridge in place and have a clear film on the exterior of the case for artwork. 

I haven't seen anything like this on The Cover Project's website or in the forums, so I'm assuming this seller is making the artwork himself. I've already been in contact with him to see if it was possible to have artwork created for games I own that he doesn't already have in his eBay store. It'll take some time I'm told, but is doable.

The cartridges fit snugly inside the case with two tight clips on each end to hold the game in place. There are four small raised corners so you know exactly where the cartridge should go. There isn't a clip or a designated place for manuals and unfortunately I didn't have a Famicom manual handy to test. I do believe they'll sit right on top of the cartridge itself, but I don't know if it'll move around once the case is closed.

The plastic seems to be of a good quality. It doesn't feel cheap or brittle, very close to the same quality of a Sega Master System / Genesis case. The clear film on the exterior of the case is just a smooth translucent plastic. I did notice it wasn't perfectly cut above the seam and there was a small piece that overlapped the top or bottom of the case. It was barely noticeable and doesn't detract from the case's overall look. The artwork looks nice, but up close you can tell the level of print quality is sub-par when compared to other custom artwork I've seen online. That said, I've never seen this format anywhere so I may be a little more critical than necessary.

I love how they look spine out on my shelves. As you can see, they are very similar in size to the hard plastic cases Namco used for some of their games. While the case is virtually the same height of the Namco case, they are a little thinner.

I only have one boxed Taito Famicom game and as you can see the Taito case is taller and wider than bitspixels' cases. The depth is about the same however.

These cases sell for $6.99 each plus shipping. The cases I ordered took about two weeks for them to be delivered by USPS. I would've gotten them sooner, but I had to sign for the delivery and they came on a day I wasn't working from home. Overall I'm impressed by these cases. The overall quality is very good and they look beautiful on my shelving. I'm already in the process of reorganizing everything to make room to case all of my loose Famicom games. It'll take some time and money, but I think once it's all said and done it'll be worth it. I'll try to post updates as I'm able to.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

New Acquisitions: January 2018

The pick ups for January were pretty slim. Coming off of Christmas I just didn't feel the need to go and search out deals or hit the local stores. That said I made two purchases, one online and one in store.

While I like the concept of what Limited Run Games does, I really haven't felt the need or had the desire to sit in front of my computer and keep hitting refresh, waiting for games to be made available for sale. Most know that Limited Run sells through their allotment for each game pretty quickly, so if you aren't on your toes you'll miss out.

When I got the email that Double Dragon IV and River City Ransom were being made available, for the first time I put the 10 AM Friday sale in my phone's calendar. I skipped the more expensive collector's editions and went straight for the cheaper, regular editions. I still have yet to crack them open so I can't comment on the games themselves (I don't usually download many digital games), but now that football is over I should have some more free time Sunday afternoons and these were be some of the first games I try.

Being a comic book fan as well, I was intrigued when I heard that Battle Chasers was being made into a video game. I originally was going to buy the Switch version of the game, then the reviews came out and they weren't all that favorable. I guess what I read was true as Target clearanced out both the PS4 and Xbox One versions pretty quickly. Both versions were $9.98. I usually buy multi-platform games on the PS4 since I have a bigger HD, but the only PS4 version they had the disc was rattling around inside the case. Despite the lackluster reviews, I still look forward to sitting down with this game and seeing if I agree or disagree with the critics.

That's it, just 3 new games for the month of January. Since we're already a little over a week into February, I can say that the next New Acquisitions post will have more content. I've already made a pretty big purchase for the game room so make sure you come back in a few weeks. Until then, game on!

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Certain Kind of Gamer

I'm always looking for new gaming blogs and YouTube channels to entertain me and recently I ran across a fairly new blog on Wordpress, A Certain Kind of Gamer. Akumojoebelmont1 appears to just be getting started, but so far this content has been well thought out, polished and most importantly fun to read.

I actually have ran across a good many of video game blogs/sites that I feel are worth checking out and this one is no exception. In fact, I just added it to the reading list located on the left sidebar. Give him a try and tell me if you enjoy his content as much as I am.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

PowerA Nintendo Switch Premium Game Card Case

Nintendo Switch owners have no shortage when it comes to 3rd party accessories and supplies. While I haven't bought many things for my Switch since I grabbed it on launch day, I did recently grab this game card case as I needed something else that was portable to hold my games. I'm not familiar at all with the company that made this, PowerA, but my first impressions of this case are very positive.

PowerA made four variaties of this game card case, two for Super Mario and two for The Legend of Zelda. I opted for this Mario case. The other was a yellow question mark block. In the packaging the case felt that it had some heft to it, which was a nice change. Many of these 3rd party accessories just aren't worth their asking price. This case holds 12 Switch game cards, as well as 12 micro SD cards. I found this to be a nice touch, although I doubt I'll need the micro SD card storage.

Out of the packaging you can tell this case is quality. The red is a hard plastic that feels as if it's made of a good, sturdy plastic. The red/white circle with the classic Mario "M" has a rubbery feel to it. The whole case has some weight to it so in your hands you know that this case is built well.

The case is held closed with a buckle that snaps shut. This opens and closes good and seems to hold it firmly. I did a drop test on a carpeted flood from about 6 feet up and the case stayed closed. The inside of the case has six recessed sections on each side to hold your micro SD cards and Switch game cards. The inside had a sturdy, thick foam feel to it. While I didn't snap a picture of the case with a game card inside, I can report that it holds the cards just fine. The open area just above the game card makes it easy for you to get your finger underneath the card to pull it out, or to insert it back in.

Overall I'm very pleased with this game case. It looks great, it's easily portable and it holds a decent number of games and SD cards. It's well made and priced at $12.99 at most major retailers. If you're looking for a portable game case then you may want to consider this case.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Initial Thoughts: The Last of Us Remastered (Playstation 4)

I've never been a huge Playstation fan. I've always been a late adopter of Sony's home video consoles and the Playstation 4 is no exception. I finally took the plunge the summer of '17 and bought the exclusive gold version released just in time for Father's Day.

While on a business trip I found myself at a GameStop and I noticed they had a pretty good sale on pre-owned games. I don't normally take game suggestions from GameStop's employees, but I found myself needing one more game to complete the deal. Seeing how I missed a lot of great games on the PS3, I never got a chance to play the original The Last of Us game. I took the guy's suggestion and grabbed a copy of the remastered version, but only in the last day or so have I actually sat down to play it.

I did a good job steerling clear of this game, even when it was originally released for the PS3. I knew the game involved more stealth than action and I thought it had something to do with zombies or the undead, but that was it. I never watched any videos on YouTube of the game, including the game trailer. When I say I went into this game blind and with no experience I mean it.

First of all let me say how impressed I was with how beautiful this game is. At the beginning when you get to control the daughter, I didn't notice the game switch from the cinema scene to game play. The transition was smooth and seemless. Now, being a dad of two young daughters I was a little traumatized with the story and the outcome. If anything I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see how this story would continue to unfold.

I've only played a few hours thus far and I really don't know how long this game is. I'm really enjoying the story as well as soaking in all of the beautiful visuals. I'm enjoying the gameplay, but I can't help but feel this is more like an interactive story than your traditional video game. I guess I thought it took place in an open world environment so the linear gameplay wasn't expected. That's not a bad thing however, infact it works well for this game. The controls are pretty good and it has a nice tutorial of sorts to help you get down the various actions as you play.

As much as I thought I disliked sneaking around behind objects and going for a stealth kill, it seems as if this is how I'm able to survive and able to make it through the majority of the areas alive. I do like however how the game autosaves pretty frequently and if you do die, you don't have to replay much of the game from where you re-spawn.

I also didn't expect any humor in the game, so the scene in the truck as they drive away from the city was pretty amusing. I have enjoyed watching Joel and Ellie's relationship change over the short course of the game I've played. I do look forward to see where their relationship goes as I continue to play further into the game. So far this has been an excellent addition to my small PS4 library and I anxiously await to jump back in.