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Tag: backwards compatibility

Owning THREE PS2s…?!

It is certainly a fair question to ask why I would need to own three PS2s in the same house. What kind of setup could possibly require this? We certainly never intended to have three, but our logic for doing so may be sounder than even I originally thought.

It started out with the original PS2. While I did not get it immediately after launch, it was soon enough into its lifespan that it is the original launch model. This has been one of the most-used consoles in my lifetime, with a gaming library (both in terms of global releases and my own personal collection) that exceeds anything that has come before.

Since I had little interest in modding my system to play Japanese games (and genuinely having zero interest in bootlegging or “playing backups”), I opted to go with a genuine Japanese PS2 to supplement the American one. I ended up getting a Hell of a deal on one (yet another launch model) from a fellow staff member at AnimeNEXT many years back, just in time for the Japanese release of DragonBall Z 3 (“Budokai 3”). It served me quite well over the years, allowing me to play my precious DBZ games with both their Japanese voices and music… not to mention cheap, English-language “Asian versions” of games (Tekken 5), and plenty of other fighting games that either never came out here, or came out years later (Neo-Geo Fighting Coliseum, Virtua Fighter 2 [Sega Ages version]), etc.

So here we are in the present-day. At the end of last March I asked you all whether or not the PS2’s $99 price drop affected you in any way. Would you get a new system to replace a broken one? Supplement the first one for use in a different room of the house? Maybe even get your first PS2 ever? The comments seemed to run the gamut of all those scenarios, but none of them really applied to me at the time.

Here I am in the new house, though, with plenty of rooms, plenty of TVs, plenty of newer systems and games… and yet a desire to still play some PS2 games from time to time, both classics that we also break out to play, as well as games I just never got around to playing.

Originally, I set it up so that the two PS2s (American and Japanese) were hooked up to my old TV via component up in our loft. This was an easy and convenient way to still let me play some PS2 games since our PS3 model (the 40 GB mass market one) does not have backwards compatibility.

However, as convenient as this was, it posed a few problems. For starters, it would now be impossible to play Dance Dance Revolution. While there might be enough room up in the loft… really, no-one needs to be stomping around up here. Also, while it’s nice and comfy up here with a couch, it is not quite the same as wirelessly playing games down on the new HDTV in the living room. We enjoy playing some old favorites when company is over (namely Capcom vs SNK 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, etc.)… and while we do have newer games available to us that will eventually become staples, it really isn’t that much fun to say “Forget the nice, big TV with surround sound… let’s go play up in the loft.”

When we received our entire security deposit back from the apartment folks (which we did not anticipate at all due to the cats taking a loving to picking at several areas of carpet and molding), we quickly decided that getting a slim PS2 to hook up to the HDTV in the living room was no longer “overboard”. Here is the current PS2 setup we have throughout the house:

The Japanese PS2 remains in the same place. The majority of play-time the system sees is typically single-player DBZ games on my own, so there is no problem just crashing up on the couch in the loft with it on the old SDTV. It is still hooked up via component, so it looks the best it is going to look on an old tube TV.


The new “slim” PS2 is hooked up to the new HDTV (also via component) down in the living room. It hangs out with its other fellow small system, the Wii, in a door in the cabinet. Thanks to suggestions from folks on Twitter when asked, we decided to go with the Logitech wireless PS2 controller to keep things tidy. It was a great recommendation, and is a fairly sturdy-feeling replacement for an actual wired PS2 controller. Should we need to get some two-player action going on, the wired controller it came with lives in the drawer above this door.


The most interesting of the bunch is the original American PS2, which has been moved down into the basement. One of the reasons we choose this house over a couple others in this development was its finished basement. The colors are… well, they are certainly “finished basement” colors rather than “rest of the house” colors… but that is neither here nor there. The old system has essentially been transformed back into a DDR-only machine on a crappy old TV. Hooked up via old fashioned composite cables, high-quality audio and video are nowhere in our mind when we want to bust out the old Red Octane Ignition 2.0 pads (seen in the reflection of my highly-artistic photography) for some DDR. In case we want to play some of the Japanese PS1 games, the original PS1 and its Pro Action Replay patiently wait in silence. Once we crash after playing for a while, the NES is just a switch away.


This all comes full-circle to those questions I posed back in March: why would you purchase a PS2 at this point in time? I read all of your responses, and now you have read my own. This past May, sales of the PS2 were down 32%… but they still sold 117,000 PS2s.

I am just a statistic, at this point.

Online Consoles Follow-up

As a follow-up to some material covered in episode seven of our podcast, here are a couple quick bits of information and reading:

– At E3, Microsoft announced that they had one more title to bring over to “Xbox Originals”… and then it’s done. We can probably safely assume that no more software updates will be coming to the 360 to allow for additional disc-based backwards compatibility. (Link: IGN)

– Sony officially unveiled the PSP Go at E3 to no-one’s surprise. The UMD slot is indeed gone, and no official statement has been given with regards to how consumers with existing UMD-based games will be able to possibly transfer them to their new hardware. Current rumors involve kiosks set up at stores, or a trade-in program. Additionally, the PSP Go is completely incompatible with all existing PSP accessories (including mini-USB cables) due to a new multifuction port. (Link: Engadget)

– No “Portable Virtual Console” was announced by Nintendo for the DSi. Do you think it’s still coming?

– We didn’t get a chance to cover every single last thing about video game consoles and online connectivity, so if you’re up for a little more reading, CNet has covered a little bit more. While it’s not the best in terms of breadth of information covered or even straight-up writing style, you’ll probably find something of interest. I definitely need to do some kind of “Fond Memories…!” segment or something regarding Sega Channel (much to Andrew’s chagrin, I’m sure).

More Activision Insanity

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I just wanted to post up another bit of absolute insanity regarding Activision and their asinine decisions with the Guitar Hero games and DLC.

According to this preview of Guitar Hero: Metallica by Destructoid, the game does not support any DLC, including the Death Magnetic album that was offered pre-World Tour. You know… the Metallica album DLC. That you would assume could be played in… oh, I dunno…  their own game featuring Metallica. Nope, instead you get a mere three of the album’s songs included in the new game on-disc.

For DLC that was actually for Guitar Hero III and forwards-compatible with World Tour, this is perhaps the most ridiculous decision yet I have seen out of them.

They Just Don’t Get It (Let Me Play My Music!)

IGN has put up an interview with Paul Gadbois, producer at Beedox, the company responsible for developing Guitar Hero Greatest Hits in conjunction with Activision. This “new” game is not really a “new” game; think of it as a compilation disc of songs from previous games. That sounds like a fantastic idea in theory, especially since they note that songs that were previously featured as cover versions will now be updated to their master tracks, and all of the songs will be playable as the full band (vocals, guitar, bass, drums). There were a lot of songs in the first two games that I would love to see come back in playable form in the updated game engine, so you can imagine my disappointment as I kept reading.

IGN: Will downloadable tracks purchased for Guitar Hero World Tour work with this disc? What about GHTunes songs?

Paul Gadbois: Guitar Hero Greatest Hits (working title on PS3/PS2) will support the entire library of downloadable user-created songs from GHTunes and players can once again create and publish their own songs from the Music Studio. Currently, downloadable songs for Guitar Hero World Tour will work with that title only.

And it only continues to get worse:

IGN: Will there be any way to purchase this disc and import the songs into Guitar Hero World Tour (or vice versa) to have all of the tracks accessible at once?

Paul Gadbois: The 48 songs in this game will all be instantly playable and are designed to be playable off the disc only.

Excuse me? It is clearly using the exact same game engine and infrastructure from World Tour if it will be fully interoperable with the “GHTunes” library and service, so why on Earth will downloadable content for that exact same game engine not be accessible in this new game…?! I gave the jump from II to III a free pass when the previous game’s DLC would not work with the newer game, since a new company was picking up the reigns and developing from scratch. I was slightly miffed that World Tour would not import (even as guitar-only) the DLC from III, but I got on with my life.

This, however, is just another concrete showcase of how Activision views you as a consumer, and how lost of a cause they are for progress.

Here comes the inevitable Rock Band comparison you were waiting for (ignoring the Wii version of the first game, and all PS2 versions due to technical limitations):

  1. DLC purchased during the time of the first Rock Band is fully usable in Rock Band 2 the same way as it was in the first game.
  2. All DLC, regardless of when it is purchased, works in both Rock Band and Rock Band 2.
  3. The (near) entirety of the first Rock Band can be exported to your console’s hard drive for play in Rock Band 2, without the need to switch discs.
  4. While AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack is a retail, disc-only game with its own gameplay, the music can be installed to your console’s hard drive and then used within the traditional Rock Band games.
  5. The upcoming Beatles game has just been given the name The Beatles: Rock Band, hinting at some type of interoperability with Rock Band games, and essentially confirms interoperability with instruments.

Sure, World Tour finally opened up interoperability with Rock Band instruments (and would even adapt the drum note-path from 6 to 5 notes when used with the Rock Band set), but that’s about the extent of the consideration I can speak to. There’s a reason why World Tour rarely gets popped into my 360. There are several reasons, actually, and I think you can infer anything I have not already touched up.

This lack of DLC interoperability is the modern example of what many of us were doing several years ago with Dance Dance Revolution simulators like DWI and Stepmania. Despite owning every single American PS1 & PS2 DDR game and a plethora of the Japanese releases, I found myself hooking up the pads to the computer to illegally play copies of songs that I otherwise would have to switch back and forth between two consoles and dozens of games to play. Want to do “Boom Boom Dollar” followed by “Cowboy“? Sorry! It would not surprise me one bit if some of the Harmonix folks went through this same process, because once you have all of your music at your fingertips (also see: having an iPod versus a portable CD player), you never want to go back, and it’s unfathomable to even consider going back to such an antiquated method.

At the end of the day, however, it all comes back to revenue for the game developers. Rock Band 2 did not quite hit sales expectations, while the Guitar Hero brand continues to perform incredibly well (especially on the Wii). Does this mean all that nonsense about interoperability, consumer consideration, games as a platform, etc. means absolutely nothing? Are they just the incoherent internet whines of a select few?

Nintendo’s 2008-2009 Updates

Well, we’ve got a new Nintendo DS on the way (along with a few other things).

There has already been a bunch of discussion about the whole thingie-ma-bob, despite the press event only happening within the last 24 hours (as of this writing, Nintendo has yet to hold their US press event). However, there are a couple very specific things that I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention.

The first item of interest is the removal of Slot 2 (the GameBoy Advance slot) on the DSi. As you no doubt heard from episode two of our podcast, the issue of backwards compatibility is of both major interest and apathy among us (depending on the system, games, etc.). A huge point we brought up was that Activision’s Guitar Hero: On Tour, as well as the upcoming On Tour Decades on November 18th, rely(ies) on Slot 2 to house and interact with the guitar frets attachment. Needless to say, these games will (theoretically) be completely unusable with the DSi.  I suppose it’s a good thing for Activision that they already got their Guitar Hero: On Tour & DS bundle out the door earlier this year, because that thing is looking more and more irrelevant as information comes out of Nintendo today.

This is yet another example supporting my personal belief that Nintendo has been one step behind where they should be with regards to… well, everything… since the Gamecube. I know, blasphemy, especially considering all the profit they are raking in. Hold on.

Microsoft realized and made it clear back with the original Xbox that digital distribution was going to be huge for conoles (even if you missed all of the other signs out there), but Nintendo really had no foresight for this. The Wii’s internal space was limited to microscopic levels (more on this in a bit), and the DS had Slot 2 to play actual GBA games.

Of course, you have to consider Nintendo’s approach during the DS’s launch. To them, it was their “third pillar” (main console / GameBoy line / the new DS). For the time, it was a brilliant move; if the DS failed, well, that wasn’t meant to be a replacement for the GameBoy line (right… with it having the GBA slot, and all), so no big loss! Luckily for them, the DS has become a global phenomenon. That Slot 2 is where it gets tricky, though. Would the (original) DS have taken off without it? Keep in mind that nearly every late GBA game was coming with little pamphlets showing you how you would be able to play them on a DS in a whole new light, so to speak.

My point is that if Nintendo really wanted to crank up the digital distribution and sell us GB/GBC/GBA games directly for our new DS, they should have cut Slot 2 out of the DS Lite. The DS was already popular, but the DS Lite is what really… how do I put this… oh, just insert an “it prints money” joke here. Now we have that device in what appears to be every-other-person’s hands no matter where you look, and the GBA slot is right there with them. I’m pulling some Wikipedia-research on you right now, but the numbers look like ~80 million GBAs, and ~77 DSes (so far). That means that there’s already a huge crossover with DS owners that probably have a nice little GBA game library kicking around somewhere. I’ve mentioned this on the show plenty of times: why would I re-pay for a game on a new format when I have the original cartridge sitting right over there?

Of course, there are plenty of reasons (as seen by my constant purchases of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda games) with convenience and portability being the main ones. Nintendo is really going to have to prove to these millions upon millions of potential customers exactly why they need to re-pay for Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 (on top of already paying for the original SNES version on Virtual Console, on top of still having the cartridge sitting in their Super Nintendo). Price is going to be a key factor, and one that I do not feel they have been particularly persuasive with. We know the DSi digital distribution pricing scheme will be between about $2 and $10, but there is no further clarification on what will be sold and for what price level.

How does Pokémon play into this, by the way? A huge deal with Diamond & Pearl was the fact that you could put all of your Generation III games (FireRed / LeafGreen / Ruby / Sapphire / Emerald) into Slot 2 and do all sorts of neat things (transfer the critters via Pal Park, mostly). How about future games? How are we going to be expected to transfer from Generation IV to Generation V? Will we need two DS systems?

That also brings to mind what I call Nintendo’s “tethering” to the DS. If you play certain games (and especially if you go online with those games), you will notice that the games tell you that your system and game are being considered a single entity now, and will need to be used together exclusively. For the most part, this presents no problems other than ending up with a new friend code if you decide to upgrade from a DS to a DS Lite, for example. For games like Pokémon, though, it gets a little more difficult. I actually do not know the full extent of it, so perhaps you all can help me. What are the ramifications for taking a Generation IV game to a new system? If I start playing it on a DS Lite instead of my old DS, will My Pokémon Ranch recognize that it is still the same game? Will I be locked out of transferring back my little guys? It may not be the same system + game combo, but gosh darn it, it is still the same cartridge!

Finishing off my backwards compatibility ranting and raving is the whole idea of the “Wii de Asobu” (Play On/For Wii) series. Just like Capcom did with Resident Evil 4, but actually applying a brand to it, Nintendo is going to re-releasing a bunch of Gamecube games with enhanced Wii-specific controls. You don’t get to play a new Pikmin game, but you sure get to play the old one… with Wii controls! In all honesty, this actually sounds like it could be pretty interesting. Metroid Prime fans are probably salivating at the thought of re-playing the first two games with the Prime controls. Imagine going back and playing Wind Waker with the Wii’s Twilight Princess controls; while they may not have been as necessary or appropriate as the Metroid Prime control evolution, going back to non-Wiimote+Nunchuck for Zelda can be a little off-putting. This is pretty ingenious on Nintendo’s part, in that they (once again) get to charge you (once again) for playing the exact same game (once again) only slightly differently.

You will notice I am ignoring all the things like the internal cameras, further embellishing on the SD card slot, downloadable web browser, music playing, etc. These are all the expected next-steps for Nintendo, and I honestly just do not have a lot to say about any of them.

The last thing I did want to address is Nintendo’s admission that there is insignificant storage space available on the Wii, and that they will be utilizing the SD card slot to solve this problem in Spring 2009. I have spoken before about my experiences with having to clear out the fridge, so I will not bother going into it in-depth again. It would not surprise me if it was Nintendo’s arrogance that got them into this situation, though. They honestly believed that there would not be any storage problem, and they honestly believed that moving things to and from (rather than executing directly off of) an SD card was sufficient. That would be perfectly fine… if they weren’t also selling us Nintendo 64 games, Turbo-CD games, and WiiWare games. Especially with the latter, it was probably quite shocking for them to realize that the less-than-512 MB really isn’t enough to actively use the system for what they’re now intending it to be used for. The SD card slot is really the most simple solution, and I am thoroughly glad (and relieved) to see them utilize what is actually right there inside the system, rather than pushing more useless white plastic our way.

So what about you all? What are your thoughts on everything? It was certainly a lot to wake up to this morning, that’s for sure.

Conversation 002: Backwards Compatibility & The Top Ten Games We’ve Never Played

I told you I’d get this done before Otakon! OK, so we’re leaving for the convention later today, but that’s still on time…

That’s right, the second episode of our show is all up and ready for listening. We had an awesome time with this one, and I think that’s reflected in the content of the show. This month we took a look at backwards compatibility: what is it, how does it affect us as gamers, and where on Earth is is heading? We go all the way from the very beginning of console gaming, up through today and various, confusing SKUs that have either full, half, or no backwards compatibility what-so-ever.

In addition to that, you’ll hear a little bit about some updates in our gaming lives (new systems, beaten games, etc.), as well as our Top 10 list… The Top 10 Games We’ve Never Played. That’s right… after trying to establish some credibility in the first episode, we’re completely destroying all chances of that with this list.

Enjoy! See you down in Baltimore, or see you next month on the show!

(I owe you guys the top ten list of the PS2 games I own and have never played… that’ll come soon! Don’t worry!)

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