Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cartridges? In MY Future? It's More Likely Than You Think.

So, it's been several years, and I haven't seen much that moved me to write up a nice big post, until recently.

The main speculation, and now rumor going around is that Nintendo's next console after the Wii U, currently code-named NX, might ditch the optical disk formats from the GameCube, Wii and Wii U generations in favor of cartridges or game cards like their handhelds have always used. As the title suggests, when I take what I know into consideration, not only do I think it's possible, but it's also very likely. I'll even take my own guess as to just what kind of physical storage would be plausible on both the NX console and its games, given Nintendo's prior hardware offerings.

Why it makes sense

For the TL;DR crowd out there, there are 3 major factors, and several minor ones that favor a return to cartridges as game medium of choice:

  1. Nintendo's reluctance to give up on cartridges,
  2. Optical disc limitations, and
  3. Improvements in solid-state storage.

So, for each main point, I'll go into further detail.

1. Nintendo's reluctance to give up on cartridges

As any gaming historian will tell you, Nintendo was the last of the major gaming hardware companies to move to optical media for titles. While this arguably hampered the acceptance of the Nintendo 64, allowing Sony to rise to prominence and dominance with its PlayStation line, this tendency may well serve them well should the NX use a cartridge or equivalent.

I can't really discuss this further without hitting the other two main points, so lets get those out of the way first.

2. Optical disc limitations

Here's where we get into contentious territory.

Put bluntly, optical discs as a storage medium are nearing the limits of their capacity. This is not a slight against the great minds that develop these formats, but simply an acceptance of the laws of physics. There is only so much physical space available on a piece of plastic 120mm in diameter, with a 15mm diameter hole in the middle of it.

To understand how we went from being able to store 650MB of data to 25GB of data in the same amount of physical space, we have to understand, at least, in a simple manner, how a disc is laid out physically. In simplest terms, the amount of data that can be stored depends on both the width of the single 'groove' spiraling around the disc, and the space within each groove that can accept a pit or a land. Compressing both of these dimensions is what has allowed CD-ROM's laughable limitations (compared to today) to advance to Blu-Ray's capacity in the same amount of physical space.

The bottleneck, however, is mechanical. The laser housing that reads the disc can only realistically move reliably in increments of only so much. What's happened to double the Blu-Ray capacity to 50GB was simply adding a second layer of pits to the disc. This in turn opens up a new failure point for readers. After all, the Wii's Super Smash Bros. Brawl used a dual-layer disc, and it was famous for highlighting the inability for some Wii consoles to read it.

The other consideration is something known as error correction. When data needs to be read properly, minor defects in the disc at the microscopic level could be catastrophic to sensitive information if error correction wasn't applied. Therefore, there needs to be some way to ensure the data is read the same way, every time, even outside a sterile clean room. In short, a complex mathematical equation handles this, and most reading errors are caused by the reading hardware, and not the disc itself.

A cartridge-based solution sidesteps this problem entirely.

3. Improvements in solid-state storage

Finally, we've come a long, long way from 2001 when it concerns solid-state storage capacity.

In the Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Saturn era, game cartridges topped out at 64MB of space. At the time, CD-ROM held 650MB at a minimum.

Today, however, you need only look to your 64GB SD card to see the progress that's been made since then. Capacity has exploded, and prices have free-fallen.

To illustrate this, just recently, an electronics chain with a local location sent me a set of coupons; one for myself, and four extras to pass to anyone I wanted. For myself, they offered a 32GB solid-state piece of storage hardware, in my choice of USB drive, SD card or MicroSD card. The end price? $0.00. Absolutely free. The pass-along coupons were good for 16GB in the same forms. Hell, to even purchase them would only have set me back $7.00 and sales tax. And this isn't ROM, this is read/write memory. I could put the entire contents of a to-capacity single-layer Blu-Ray disc onto this, and have space left over.

Since the Wii U uses a proprietary version of the single-layer Blu-Ray format, its games top out at 25GB of data, but few, if any, titles actually reach this capacity limit. Xenoblade Chronicles X comes closest, at 22.7GB. Titles might also include post-launch DLC, currently stored on internal flash memory.

Even then, a single 32GB ROM chip would handle pretty much any title thrown at it between now and 2023, and if space were to become an issue, it's not much of a stretch to think Nintendo wouldn't get 64GB chips, or provide a secondary 'slot' that could make up the extra space a larger game could need.

Optical Disc vs. Cartridges, Round 2

So here, it's time to assess which is better come the NX launch in mid-2017. It's time to debate like it's 1999 again, except the outcome is much, much different.

Again, there are three major reasons, listed here in case you want to skip ahead to my guess as to how the NX may deal with storage, and expanded upon below:

  1. Access time,
  2. Durability, and
  3. Ease of use

1. Access time

Let's face it. Optical discs, and even platter-based hard drives, are slow.

Every gamer in the early CD days can recall the various 'Now Loading' screens that fractured their gaming experiences. This is because the game needs to read the data off a spinning disc, catch the area where the data is stored, and read from it into the console's RAM. There was only so much data that could be held in the RAM at any given time, and even though adding more RAM, and solutions such as fetching data ahead of time when possible, or installation to a faster solution such as a hard drive mitigated it, the spinning disc remains the bottleneck for data transfer speed.

This speed limit is enforced, once again, by physics. After a certain number of revolutions per minute, a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disc will explode. Since even automated manufacturing processes will have minor imperfections, the RPM speed is clamped to where no disc should ever disintegrate outside of severe defects. But every microsecond more it takes for the disc to reach the laser is another microsecond not spent loading new data.

In contrast, cartridge-based access times are as fast as the console can get the signal from the chip. Only individual titles can cause delays in data access.

This is not to say, however, that cartridge-based titles can't suffer from loading times. One must only look to the Super Nintendo to find a couple notable examples.

First, and most notably, is the Super Nintendo port of Capcom's Street Fighter Alpha 2. This was a very ambitious port of a CPS2 arcade fighter to the platform, and included the S-DD1 chip in the cartridge, which compressed the graphics to such an extent that every round had a several-second load time at the beginning. Even then, there had to be many things dropped (not even the 'top-end' ports to the PlayStation and Saturn were arcade-perfect) just to squeeze this title onto a 16-bit cartridge.

Another is Takara's port of SNK's Fatal Fury. This one's decompression times are much shorter than the ones found in Alpha 2, but are marked by a black screen with the text 'WAITING!'. I can only assume this was caused by Takara either wanting to get as much graphical detail from the Neo Geo original onto the SNES cart, or using an un-optimized compression format.

Note here, though, that in both cases, the console itself is executing its code as fast as it can. It's the game's code that introduces this loading. And further, both of these titles are ones written by a 3rd party.

In contrast, Nintendo's compression formats, while effective, are also highly optimized. The late Satoru Iwata himself was famously able to give Game Freak's programmers enough space on the Game Boy cartridge, not only to finish the Johto region of Pokémon Gold and Silver, but also to include the entire Kanto region, thanks to his compression expertise.

2. Durability

Here again, cartridges, with a few exceptions that have been overcome, simply outlast optical discs. Further, cartridge readers, i.e. the console itself, significantly outlast optical disc-reading consoles.

The first difference is one any engineer should know: Any moving part is a potential failure point. Consoles that use optical discs have many moving parts. Consoles that use cartridges have none.

Here's the most common issues regarding optical disc media:
  • Laser becomes unfocused
  • Laser loses power
  • Laser housing stops moving
  • Drive doesn't spin
  • Tray doesn't open properly
  • Disc get misaligned and scratched
  • Data cable moves improperly and scratches disc
  • Laser rubs disc and causes scratches
  • And others
Depending on the issue, They can render the console inoperable, or cause your discs to become scratched to the point they become unplayable, even on a known good console. For a title that costs $60 new, that's not an appealing situation as a gamer.

Granted, better technology has reduced these issues, but it hasn't eliminated them. I personally am currently the owner of a Wii U console that will only recognize and play Wii titles. I have a Wii purchased in 2008 sitting next to it (which does still read discs). The Wii U, then, is essentially useless to me until it's either repaired or replaced.

I can, however, pull my Super Nintendo out of the box it's in, hook it up to the TV, put a cart in, and play. So long as there exists a way to get the video signal to the monitor, this will be true today, or even 20 years in the future.

There is one shortcoming to older cartridge-based games, and that's battery-backed save data. Over time, the battery will run out of power to hold the data safe, and saved games will no longer be retained until it is changed, which is not an easy process.

This issue, however, has already been overcome. DS and 3DS game cards that write saves to the card use a small amount of writable flash memory, which doesn't require any power to retain. This is what Nintendo would use on the NX carts, so it's no issue at all.

3. Ease of use

There is no way, without brute force, to improperly insert a cartridge into any console past the NES.

It is, however, very possible to insert a disc upside down. There is no physical prevention mechanism in place to stop this. It's not very likely, but there's a saying that you can never go broke underestimating human intelligence. It has happened before, and will happen again.

Wherein I put on my robe and wizard hat

So, how do I see the NX using its internals as far as memory goes? In order to do that, we need to look at their history.

Nintendo has always kinda done their own thing, or their own take on what the rest of the industry does. XBox 360 and PS3 went with hard drives, Wii went with very limited internal storage (512MB). Ditto for Wii U (8GB or 32GB) vs. PS4 and XBox One.

Because of this, I fully expect Nintendo to keep their primary storage to a minimum again, no more than about 64GB maximum (and I expect they may even back down to 16GB if I'm wholly correct) of NAND. I'm not sure what that's an acronym for, but it's the internal flash storage for the Wii, Wii U and 3DS, and likely the DS. It holds the hardware's operating system, and in the Wii and Wii U's case, downloaded titles.

Should the NX use carts again, I can easily imagine the carts having their own area of writable storage where game patches and DLC could be kept. Putting the DLC on the cart itself would not interfere with per-user licensing of titles as we know them now, because the NAND could be limited to holding the OS and the tickets that allow content to be used in gameplay.

But what's a 'ticket'? It's a very small file already in use on the Wii, Wii U and 3DS that tells the console 'This hardware can download X data from the Nintendo servers'. It's what allows you to re-download things you have already purchased. It's also why Nintendo is so keen to keep on top of attacks on the hardware, because forged tickets can let users download legit titles for free.

However, updates seem to be handled well on Nintendo hardware. You can usually download patches and extra content even if the game isn't in the drive or slot. If these updates go to the NX carts, how do you solve this problem?

I envision a secondary storage space, quarantined from the NAND, that would act as a temporary holding space for game updates until written to the cart. Perhaps this could be as large as 32GB itself. Remember, the purpose of this memory isn't long-term. It's more transient, being freed up as game updates are written to NX carts.

But then again, there's also digital distribution to consider. There's no physical card to use, so what then? My guess is they'll do what Wii does unofficially, and Wii U does officially, and use an external hard drive. Sure, it'll be slower than the carts, but if they used USB 3.0, the speed is negligible, especially on a solid-state drive (and Nintendo could even recommend that for best performance).

Here's my guesses, based on these factors:
  • NAND: 8-16GB (yes, they might even go as low as 8GB)
  • Internal Storage: 32-64GB
  • Carts: 32+GB, with 8-16GB writable
  • USB 3.0 port for connecting SSD
It's possible I'm way off, but these are the numbers that make the most sense to me, given Nintendo's path in the past.

This might be a contentious post, or it may be agreed with completely. whatever the case, feel free to respond, as long as it's civil and on-topic.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

PlayStation 3 Opened Like a 7-Eleven

Like the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's XBox 360 before it, Sony's PlayStation 3 fell before the might of the console modding and hacker community over the new year. The famed 'Geohot', known for the iPhone jailbreak put out the PS3's root key, and a team known as fail0verflow has released a tool allowing coders to sign their code to make it indistinguishable from Sony's own.

Some might ask why has this happened only now, just over four years past the console's launch. They'll point to the exploits used early on in Wii titles like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, or the various modchips and physical solutions for both it and the XBox 360. I think the answer to these questions comes from Sony's own actions. In order to do this, though, we'll need to look into the history of the PlayStation 3.

The Playstation 3 launched in November of 2006, just in time to enter the current generation's fight against the XBox 360 and the Wii. One of the things that set Sony's machine apart from Microsoft and Nintendo's offerings, was that they were throwing their substantial weight behind the Blu-Ray high-definition movie disc format, and even integrating it right into the console itself. The other, lesser-known, but much more important difference, especially for the scope of this article, is a feature known as OtherOS.

OtherOS is an option that allowed an installation of Linux or other alternative PC operating systems on the PlayStation 3. Sony included code, known as a hypervisor, that kept the operating system from accessing the most sensitive parts of the hardware, but for nearly every purpose, what was provided was more than enough. It wasn't until Sony became spooked at what the Linux community was potentially able to do with this, even with the hypervisor in place, and the removal of the OtherOS feature in the subsequent firmware release in April of 2010 that the PS3 was even considered a hacking target.

While many people may already know this, it must be said that Linux users are a very dedicated community, and a move this drastic was essentially a slap in the face. Nearly overnight, the focus was turned from showing off the latest homebrew games and clever applications, to finding a way to keep the ability to run Linux, and even crack the PlayStation 3's security. If Sony was scared when the first few drops came through the ceiling, they should have felt sheer panic at the thought of the whole roof collapsing on them. Lawsuits were filed over the feature's removal, and are still in the courts even now. But yet the timing of the feature's removal has yet to be explored.

Since the PlayStation 3 had its OtherOS feature from November 2006 until April 2010, the timeline for a hack coming has to start from its removal. In this sense, the PS3 fared no better than its competitors. In fact, it probably came out the worst in this way, because while game pirates are banned from Microsoft's XBox Live service, and game piracy is difficult and very risky for the Wii, pirated PS3 games can be played with Sony's own signature, and on PlayStation Network, a service that costs absolutely nothing for its use. Compounding the issue even further, this exploit is one that Sony is completely unable to patch out without opening themselves to even more lawsuits. The keys being used are the same ones used to sign official games, and to invalidate those renders their entire catalog unplayable. I doubt that a company even as arrogant as Sony has become would let themselves make that colossal a blunder.

But now that we've discussed why Sony's machine didn't really last as long as people want to think it did, let's see what can be learned for the next generation's consoles.

First, you must know that the ability to run Linux and develop their own homebrew games and applications is something that people want. It is therefore in a company's best interests to allow this out of the box, as Sony did initially.

Second, give them access to all the hardware. Put the keys somewhere else and open up the entire architecture for outside use. Sony's hypervisor and limiting access to one of its cores planted a giant sign that said, essentially, 'try to get in here'.

Third, don't panic when the limits are tested, or even broken. So long as you've kept the key in a place that's inconsequential to performance, nobody will want to get to it unless their goal was piracy. It was the fact that someone did get into that last core that prompted the OtherOS removal. All that was being done was widening the sandbox given to users, and had it been ignored or praised as being clever by Sony themselves, with a full unlocking of the last core as a response, we probably would still be thinking of the PlayStation 3 as being 'unhackable'.

Finally, once the genie is out of the bottle, putting it back in is impossible. The class-action suits against Sony, and the complete attention turned towards the total destruction of the PlayStation 3's security has shown what will happen when a freedom is restricted. Once a feature is in a console, there is no surefire way to remove it again. Even going so far as to require internet connectivity is useless, because simply forcing an update on people to remove a feature would lead to lawsuits even faster.

So when it really comes down to it, the PlayStation 3 really only lasted eight months before being hacked. It survived for three and a half years because it wasn't interesting to hackers. Because pirates ride on hacker's coattails, Sony was able to keep piracy at a near-zero level by opening the console up. Once they closed the hardware off, they dug their own graves. Now all we need to do is wait until the ISOs hit the torrent sites.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Review: Pinnacle Game Profiler

A previous post of mine mentions having been hooked on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and getting 'trained' on the XBox 360, but the PC version doesn't have the greatest of support for gamepads of any variety, much less the console's controllers it eventually was ported to (hint for future PC game devs out there. Never overlook the possibility of PC-to-console ports, and if you can plan for them ahead of time, even better. Nothing's more satisfying than being able to system-shift painlessly). I wasn't about to go to strictly keyboard and mouse for my Oblivion fix, and so I checked with my good friend Google.

It let me to a site for a piece of software called Pinnacle Game Profiler, and at the time, the evolving Oblivion profile being developed with the 360's controller in mind. I was hooked on the possibility, and went for the demo.

The profile itself isn't 100% perfect to the control scheme you'd find on the 360. However, it's only the obscurer commands you'll have to adapt to, and only because of the limitations of software of this type. As it is, it stands about 95% accurate, and you'll only need a few minutes of playtime to adjust.

Furthermore, this program is set to detect games you've loaded profiles in for, and since it emulates a keyboard and mouse, you can control literally any program with your pad (or stick) of choice.

The version I used for this review was 3.8.4, and since then, version 4.0 has gone public, boasting even more compatibility, including Windows Vista, and refinements in input processing, plus more efficient processing.

It's the best there is at what it does, but limitations outside of anyone's control (besides Bethesda Softworks) keep it from attaining perfection.

3.8.4: 9.5/10
4.0.0: 9.8/10

(Edited slightly on February 8th. Originally, I goofed and said it now worked on Windows XP, when I'd meant to say it now supported Windows Vista instead.)

Other methods for playing older games on today's hardware

Sometimes, just playing a remake (see my older post for more information about that) just isn't quite satisfactory enough, and ports sometimes fix bugs that players have come to rely on, and so there's one other method that can be used to sate whatever your classic game craving might be.

It's the one word that most companies publically treat as a profanity, but offers the truest experience outside the actual hardware: Emulation.

Like I'd stated before, some companies have used this technique in official releases, but with consoles of the previous and current generations nearing the same specifications as lower-end computer hardware, the experience can be very satisfying.

I had entered the previous generation with rather strong anti-Microsoft bias, and as such, made the standard fanboyish comments about their console. However, as the massive black thing began making its true power known, I became intrigued with it. And finally, shortly after the XBox 360 had been launched, bringing us into the current generation, I broke down and purchased a pre-owned original XBox, and a game I knew I'd enjoy, Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. After awhile, I even picked up an arcade-style stick for the game, making the experience pretty much the arcade come home. However, as my game improved, and my desire to improve further strengthened, I began to learn this port was not arcade-perfect. I knew I had only one alternative left.

So, approximately a year into my owning the console, I began researching software-based modification techniques, known more commonly as soft-mods. I learned that advancements had been made on that front, and that you no longer needed to keep constant power to the system, else the dreaded 'clock-loop' (a situation where you are unable to proceed past the time and date-setting screen) would brick your hardware. The installation had even been made so simple, all you needed to do was read the instructions and follow the prompts. I did more research, and finally decided it was time. As soon as I found a copy of the game I needed, and the appropriate pieces, I was going to go to the dark side. As I'd learned, it was very simple. I made a common newbie error, and thankfully had somone experienced to talk with to explain what had happened.

The last part was deciding which emulators to load onto my newly-unlocked gaming powerhouse. Being a fighting game fan, I knew I needed good arcade fighters, especially some entries in the Street Fighter and The King of Fighters serieses, so I needed CPS1, CPS2 and Neo Geo options. That went on first, and I found a well-coded Super Nintendo emulator. That was next. I also backed up selected copies of my purchased games onto the XBox's hard drive, as a portability solution, and to avoid the normal wear and tear of constant usage.

A word of warning, though. It's no secret that if your console is detected by Microsoft as being modified on their Live! service, your system will be banned permanently by serial number. This never affected my decision at all, as I don't play online anyway, but I set my mod up with a way to make it indistinguishable from a stock system when I choose.

Later, I learned that not only was the holy grail of emulation being worked on, it had already been broken. The one-thought-impenetrable CPS3 hardware was finally playable, and when news of an XBox port of the first emulator to run these newer Capcom offerings was announced, I was almost unable to wait for it.

I am awed, but also slightly disappointed by the result. It appears that the limits of the console were finally found, as games run at full speed and with sound, but only as long as the emulated game doesn't need to pull up new art, or render some of the more complicated effects, such as scaling. Even then, though, the dip in framerate isn't crippling, or even long-lived. This plays well with Street Fighter III and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, as most effects of this type occur during times when there's no input being accepted anyway. Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, though, due to limitations, is unfortunately nearly unplayably slow. Perhaps in the future, optimizations will be made to either the emulator or the game, and it too will enjoy playablity.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My absense, and a mini-review

Well, I know it's been awhile, but there's been a few reasons behind this, and it starts with Thanksgiving with an out-of-town relative.

My brother brings over his XBox 360, and subsequently gets me hooked on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which is pretty much crack in a DVD case. In the weeks following, I obtain the PC version, and am merrily playing my Khajiit 'Lifestealer' custom class, and leaving nearly everything else by the wayside. Now, as it's a relatively new game, it won't get much exposure here... at least yet. I will, however, give a brief rundown on why this is one of the very few RPGs I'll actually play:

  • It's freeform. You can rack up quests 'til Oblivion won't have it (note: Oblivion is the 'hell' of their world), and complete them at your leisure, or finish each quest as you recieve it.
  • Completing the main quest series does not mean the end of the game. Some quests may be of the complete-or-lose-and-restart-from-save variety, but there's always more to do in the game.
  • Combat is realtime, and rather strategic. If you're good enough, you can win fights without taking a single hit. And besides, it always feels nice to jump your opponent's fireball spell and slash him on the way down.
  • It's open. Bethesda Softworks has made tools available for players to create their own content. Everything from new quests to new toys to play around with. Some enterprising players have even toyed with some of the default game systems to make them more player-friendly.

Now, nothing this expansive and open comes flawlessly, however, and there are some issues that can arise. Some quests don't play well with others, and quite often plugins (the term for user-created content) will conflict with others. It happens sometimes, but the flaws don't detract from the myriad pluses all that much. Let me just say, if you can find this game, for any platform (it's currently available for the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and PC), your money would be well-spent in this purchase. I would recommend the PC version over the console ports, and the Game of the Year Edition over vanilla Oblivion, for the reasons described above (console users can't access all the user-made modifications available), but make sure you clear your social calendar for at least a week before starting play. You'll need it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Art of Remakes

To any company, the remake is one thing that begins to make the mouth water, and for good reason. The sole purpose for a company to exist, naturally, is to make money. A remake, or classics collection, depending on how it's done, is one of the easiest ways to do so. You take the best of what's already been, as most of the work has been done the first time around, and generally add a few extras, then put on a bargain price, and finally put it on the shelf, ready to find a new generation of fans.

Except, whether they see it or not, there's an art to remaking and collecting.

There are generally four schools of thought to this, and let's take a look at them.

Some, such as Super Mario All-Stars and the to-be-released-but-excessively-named Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix, recieve graphical overhauls while the core gameplay is untouched. The former is very noteworthy, as it was the first well-known both remake and collection, and has almost become a classic in its own right. The latter is more controversial, but getting alot of fan-based feedback, and more importantly, still in development. It should go without saying, then, the jury is still out. This is, in my own opinion, the way to go.

Another way to reviving a franchise for another go without too much hassle is an amalgamation. This is more prevalent in fighting games, and it involves taking a series with alot of tweaks to it (see Street Fighter II and Darkstalkers for examples), and then allowing the same characters to have different gameplay styles and the player to mix and match them at will. This can take some work, but when done right, and with respect and detail paid to the source material, it can be an entry in its own right. Of course, it can also fall flat on its back, especially when it's done in a rather rushed manner or makes one standard the one to follow (see Mortal Kombat Trilogy).

And now, we move on to the more-or-less ports, bundled together. This is true of smaller-sized games, like Mega Man Anniversary Collection (and it's Mega Man X-based sequel). This train differs from the mere collection in that extras are generally included, and consist of content that can't be had easily anywhere else. For example, all three versions of MMAC included ports of both arcade games the franchise spawned (Mega Man: The Power Battle, and Mega Man 2: Power Fighters), which saw very limited release outside of Japan.

Then, we get into the straight collections. Most of the work here comes in programming the console-based emulators, and then the original code from the original console is run through it. While this makes for the truest experience, given that some differences will remain, I feel it shows laziness on the part of developers, and even more when there's speculation not even the emulator itself was written from scratch, as there has been with Sonic Mega Collection. Also, unlockables tend to be either more emulated games, or maybe some art.

And finally, just finally, we get to where I believe the term 'remake' is tarnished almost forevermore, the steaming pile dropped on the Game Boy Advance called Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis. To anyone that has played this and thought it represents the actual experience, I'd like to apologize, and point you toward the above-mentioned Mega Collection. Almost all of the code was rewritten from scratch, and it shows.

The Introduction

It seems all blogs must begin somewhere, and this one is no different. I'm not out looking to change the world, nor even a section of it. I'm just going to offer my views, and should they be popular, that's fine. Should I get tons of hate mail, well, most will likely see the virtual circular file without even being seen.

So what's this blog all about? Simple. I've been a gamer for many years now, back when the market thought all we were were nerds and geeks sitting at home playing on our little toyboxes on the television and throwing the Nielsen rating out of whack. I've played, not everything, but quite a bit of it, from my first console, the Atari 2600, bought at a rummage sale for the 'bargain' price of $20 with one cartidge, all the way through to some of the latest offerings on the XBox and Gamecube.

But I'm certainly no nostalgic gamer, either. I've played good games, and I've played crap. That holds true no matter what era you're looking at, and it shows today.

While this blog won't be bereft of postings on the current generation, such as the XBox 360, Playsation 3 and Wii, it will be minimal, and usually of interest to those like myself, where there's a connection to the games of old.

So, it seems fitting this blog is primarily for those who are at least one step back from the latest trends, and the title seems catchy enough. So with no more blathering, welcome to One Step Back. Classics, to last generation's tech, and with any luck, no real filler.