Category Archives: Gaming

What Extron can do for you

Why matrix switchers are awesome… after the trouble of setting them up

In this post we’ll take a look at the two Extron matrix switches I purchase this year, the Crosspoint 450 Plus Series and Extron SMX Series Switcher, and why you may or may not want to add one to your setup.

Let’s say you’re like me and you have quite a few game systems you’d like to have all connected to your TV (or some other display device). The simplest option, but perhaps bothersome depending on your setup, is to swap out the A/V cables as needed.

Your NES is plugged in but you want to play SNES? Disconnect the NES and plug in the SNES. Want to now play your PlayStation 1? Same thing—disconnect the SNES and plug in the PS1.

If you only have a small selection of consoles, this might not be so much of a hassle. But if you have your display wall-mounted or in some other location where you can’t easily get to the inputs, you may find this challenging.

If you’re only working with composite video with RCA plugs (typically with yellow, white and red plugs), a basic RCA selector could work. Plug everything into that, and then that plugs into your display. Almost all of these are going to require you to get up and physically push a button the switch, but that’s not terrible.

My setup is a bit overkill. Click the picture for the full-size version.

But let’s say you have a lot of consoles. Five? Eight? Ten? Twelve? More??? You’re going to need to connect several switchers to each other, and that can get a little confusing.

What if you’re using a higher quality video signal, such as S-video, component or RGB? HDMI? How about a mix of any of those cables? Are you splitting the video to two or more displays at once? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a consumer option that fits your needs.

Enter the Extron line of video switchers.

Continue reading What Extron can do for you

Let’s make Rockman 4 Minus Infinity

Rockman 4 Minus Infinity repro guide

The past few years I’ve picked up the hobby of repairing old game consoles, modding them for things like region-free gameplay or RGB output options for the best possible video quality.

One of the things I heard about along the way was a romhack called Rockman 4 Minus Infinity, an amazing hack that redoes the entirety of Rockman 4/Mega Man 4. Most people will probably play this on an emulator because the de facto flash cart, the Everdrive N8, doesn’t support ROM files of this size. The creator has said though he plans to release a new version of the N8 that supports larger games like this.

So, enter the 8-bitter from Voultar. Assuming you have experience with a soldering iron, it’s an easy solution to use to apply translation patches and romhacks to real NES and Famicom cartridges.

But I specifically wanted to make my own copy of R4MI. The only problem is most of the information online is using old methods of wiring messes before a solution like this existed. Not that they’re bad, they just haven’t been updated for modern methods.

And while Voultar’s video covers just about everything you need, he didn’t go over the process of replacing CHR ROM with CHR RAM.

So I spent several hours hitting various forums and sites to gather information on how to make my own. This guide serves as a way to demonstrate a fairly modern way (though there are probably a few things that could be cleaned up) to do this in 2019.

What you’ll need: (the below is image heavy)

Continue reading Let’s make Rockman 4 Minus Infinity

That reminds me of a puzzle…

Professor, what are going to do?!

Professor Layton was one of my favorite game series for the Nintendo DS. I loved the short, but wonderfully animated and voiced videos sprinkled throughout the series. I enjoyed the setting, music, and really just about everything about it. Oh, and the puzzles. But what I hated was how EVERY GOD DAMN THING LED TO A PUZZLE!

“I think we should eat our way to the clues!” — Something Layton would probably not say

Hey Prof, my dog died last night.
I’m sorry to hear that. Say, that reminds me of a puzzle!

Can you help me put this book back on the shelf?
Of course. By the way, can you figure out this riddle about books?

Regardless, I still enjoy the series. And so do the Japanese. A few months ago in Japan convenience stores around the country were selling small boxes of Professor Layton chocolates. Also, inside each box was a puzzle similar to what a player encounters in the games.

Below are pictures from inside the box as well as a puzzle and the solution. Continue reading That reminds me of a puzzle…

Review: Super Mario 3D Land

This was written back on Nov. 30, 2011… but I only realized now, Oct. 1, 2012, that I never posted it. Whewps!

 

If you want to feel like you’re a rock star and god of video games, pick up Super Mario 3D Land. It’s that easy.

What I mean, is that after going through the first 8 worlds with little challenge. I had 220+ extra lives in reserve.

I was told the special worlds would be more challenging. I then went through the first 5 special worlds (S-1, S-2, S-3, etc.) I’m almost done with S-6 and I now have 240+ lives. I’m disappointed.

That’s not to say the game isn’t fun–it is. It’s very fun, but it’s not challenging. Almost all of my deaths in the game were from not being able to judge distance between foreground and background platforms. The 3D effect hasn’t remedied this, as I do just as well playing with the 3D off.

Segue! Other than a few little effects, the game doesn’t benefit from the addition of 3D to it. Sure, throwing a boomerang toward the screen is neat, but it doesn’t add anything. As I stated above, it didn’t really help me with judging distances between platforms.

Level designs are great otherwise, and there are some new items and interactive elements, such as ! switches that, when it, produce platforms that appear and disappear. Yes, platform switches. That’s one of the things that sticks out to me.

The tanooki suit is back from Super Mario Bros. 3, but it has been altered. You can no longer fly, but floating down no longer requires tapping the jump button repeatedly, but can instead be accomplished by merely holding the button. there’s a new boomerang suit as well, where you throw boomerangs.

Maybe the game is hard and I am a rock star. But with the trend of Nintendo trying to gain audiences by dumbing games down (my opinion), I doubt that.

In summation, the game is fun but too easy.

Review: Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade Chronicles
Xenoblade Chronicles

Xenoblade is one of the most amazing games I’ve played in the past 10 years that I can remember, and it’s a shame most people in North America won’t have the chance to play it. Even though it’s been fully localized into British English.

I must admit the game was something I dismissed when I first heard the name of it a year ago, but it wasn’t until a few months ago it piqued my interest. See, Nintendo of America announced it would not release the game, even though Nintendo of Europe had the localization just about finished, and a group of people got together and started a letter-writing campaign to NoA begging for its release. Well, Xenoblade and two other games–The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. This was called Operation Rainfall.

Well, I picked up Xenoblade Chronicles from an online store (Amazon UK doesn’t ship games outside of Europe, ugh) and fell in love with the game. 70+ hrs in and I’m not finished with the game. There’s just so much to do. Continue reading Review: Xenoblade Chronicles

Sweet places for games

Gamestop has never been a place I go to with a smile. No, I only go there when I need something right away, or for something quite old. We’re talking several years old, not the latest copy of Dudebro that came out last week with used copies currently selling for $55. I’m talking GBA-Gamecube Link Cables. But I almost always prefer mom & pop stores over Gamestop. Luckily, here in Austin, there are many choices.

Unfortunately, some of these stores (Gamestop too, of course) don’t quite know their gaming history. I understand you can’t hire someone who knows the release date of Goonies II for NES off the top of their head (1987, btw), but I’d at least like someone to be able to know what a Turbo Grafx-16 is. To me, that’s the litmus test. If a store has employees who have heard of it (even better if they’ve played it), I will be much more willing to give a store my money.

Today, during my lunch break, I stopped by Apollo Games, a store that opened at the end of 2008. The owner, Parker, knows his stuff. He’s a gamer through and through. Knew what a TG-16 is, could talk games for hours, and seems to genuinely want to spread his love for games to others and offering some great prices on his stock. People in the North Austin/Round Rock area should check it out.