Fun fact: Back in the early 80s the first #nes game was going to be a Popeye’s game where Popeye was out to safe Olive from Brutus, Nintendo couldn’t get the character’s legal permissions in time for the game deadline so Shigeru Miyamoto covered the visuals with his improvised art. Thus the first look of Mario was born as “Jumpman”, Donkey Kong and Princes Peach consequently as well.
It was October of 2005 in Canada, at the tail end of the original Xbox and Playstation 2’s retail lives. A month before the Xbox 360 was to be released—shipping with flashy titles like the World War II shooter Call of Duty 2—the only home video game console ever to be designed and distributed in Canada, the Game Wave, went to market.
I came across the Game Wave when I recently visited the home of Syd Bolton, who runs the PC Museum in Brantford, Ontario. Bolton might be best known for his collection of old computers, but he’s really all about video games. Inside his house, he has rooms upon rooms stacked with games. He’s a collector in the truest sense, as some of the things he’s stockpiled aren’t even really valuable: Every original Xbox game ever made, every Wii game ever made, and so on. They’re not classics, but he has them all, and that’s what matters.
Near the end of my visit, Bolton looked at me with a sly grin and said, “Hey, want to see something cool?” Wondering what that could possibly mean to a guy like Bolton, I said yes. What he pulled out was the Game Wave—a glorified silver DVD player that shipped with four remote controls, all snugly nestled inside a soft case emblazoned with the slogan, “Unity Through Play.” Bolton told me that he owns five of these things.
Game Wave was a family-friendly machine, and it was lauded by Christians for its focus on trivia games and competition in good fun. While not explicitly Christian, the Game Wave certainly courted that audience. One of the system’s few games was a Mario Party-esque title featuring characters from the popular Christian media franchise VeggieTales. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, ZAPiT Games, the Canadian makers of the Game Wave console, partnered with Big Idea (which owns VeggieTales) in 2008 to sponsor a tour called “The God Made You Special, Live! Tour.”
Bolton and I played a trivia game that was, in all honesty, kind of fun. It wasn’t anything special in terms of its focus—mostly questions about history and famous people, etc.—but it did feature some impressive CGI interstitials and historical videos to accompany the questions. Learning and playing!
It’s unclear why the Game Wave never made it, although one can probably speculate that it was simply outclassed by every other video game console on the market. It was essentially a DVD player, after all. There’s also the small detail that one of ZAPiT’s former executives, Toronto-area businessman Hari Venkatacharya, was arrested in 2013 and convicted in 2016 for arranging phony company loans in exchange for hefty fees.
All in all, it’s just one more piece of doomed Canadian tech for us to fawn and puzzle over years after it died.
The early days of Atari were the stuff of legend, with a chaotic anything-goes atmosphere dominating a shooting-star of a company that quickly found itself on the forefront of the home video game revolution. But things weren’t so rosy for the company’s star programmers, who were often treated like replaceable cogs in a machine, and even denied credit for their hit creations.
Enter the Adventure “Easter egg”: A now-legendary attempt by programmer Warren Robinett to sneak due credit into a game, without his Atari bosses knowledge nor consent. By following an arcane series of steps, players could unlock a secret room that featured the giant flashing words: “Created by Warren Robinett”. (The Adventure Easter egg, of course, plays a key role in the Ernest Cline book Ready Player One, and will presumably appear in the 2018 Steven Spielberg adaptation.)
Today, video game secrets are commonplace and expected. But back then? It was something new. I spoke to Robinett about creating the original Easter egg. Here’s the story in his own words.
Atari kept us programmers all anonymous. The original Atari guys, Nolan Bushnell and his crew, they needed a lot of money to enter the home video game market that was about to happen in the mid-70’s, so they sold their company to Warner Communications. I don’t think they thought that Warner was going to take over, but it did.
Those guys played hardball and they treated the existing game designers rather disrespectfully and rudely. They weren’t going to give us any leverage or any name recognition with the consumers because we might start asking for things like royalties. It was a power struggle between the new owners and the creative types. We were nerds. You had to be a nerd to write the code for the Atari video game.
The famous Adventure Easter egg gives credit to the game’s creator.
It became clear to me pretty quickly that they weren’t treating us very nice and I didn’t like being anonymous. No royalties. No recognition. On top of that, they were rude to us. They told us, “Anybody could do this.” That was a big mistake. That’s why Atari came down. It may not be the only reason, but it’s a pretty big one because all the game designers quit. The ones they hired after us didn’t know how to do what we knew how to do.
Jumping ahead, my game Adventure sold more than a million copies at $25 each retail. Atari got about half of that. This was more than $10 million of income to Atari and they’re paying me $20,000 a year. I was not clever enough to think of a way to get a piece of those profits, but I did think of a way to get public recognition, which was to hide my name in the game in the secret room in a place that’s really hard to get to. That’s what I did. I didn’t call it an Easter egg, but that name was bestowed on it by someone else.
If it had been too easy to get into the secret room, somebody at Atari would have found it. There were internal testers at Atari. It wasn’t formalized, but there were some people that worked there that just liked playing the games under development and they’d give you some feedback. The guy who wrote the manuals played all the games and he thought Adventure was pretty good. He was giving me feedback as I was working on it. If it had been too easy, he would have gotten into the secret room and I was quite clear in my own mind that if anyone found out what I was doing, that secret would spread like a brush fire in Australia. Then it wouldn’t happen. It would get taken out.
I had to keep it secret. But if it was too hard, nobody would ever find it. I had a backup plan if it was so hard that none of those 100,000 kids found the secret room. My backup plan was that I could start the rumor. I could show one kid and then he’d show another kid and so on.
Here’s how you found the Easter egg. There was a yellow castle, a white castle, and a black castle. There was a yellow key, a black key, and a white key. If you found the black key, you could open up the gate of the black castle and get into it. Inside of the black castle was a maze. That particular maze consisted of two disjointed mazes that were intertwined with one another and the only way you could get into the part of the maze that had the thing that lets you get into the secret room was if you used the bridge to cross one of those walls in the maze inside the black castle. If you did that, used the bridge, crossed the wall, you get into a little tiny chamber, and if you just went in, you’d run into the key to the secret room.
The key didn’t look like a key. It was a single pixel. I called it The Dot. The kids called it The Dot. It was the tiniest possible object. I’ve corresponded by email with a number of people that played Adventure over the years. From one kid, I heard that he found The Dot. He knew it did something. He wouldn’t let his parents turn off the video game or the TV for three weeks while he tried everything under the sun and finally figured out what The Dot was for.
Some of the kids, just by trial and error, figured out that if you took The Dot into one particular room and had two other objects in there, it would let you get through one of the sidewalls. Then at that point, I didn’t see any reason to hold back. Half the screen filled up with may name in flashing colors: “Created by Warren Robinett.”
I don’t think I’m actually the very first one to ever put a secret in a computer program, but this was the first one that got called an Easter Egg and it was pretty big news because it was a subversive political maneuver.
The Easter egg was first discovered by a 15-year-old kid from Salt Lake City named Adam Clayton. On his own, he found the secret room, found my signature, and wrote a letter to Atari. The letter is actually in my book, so you can get his exact words. He drew maps and showed exactly how to get in there. That was the first that Atari knew about it.
I’ve met [Ready Player One author] Ernie Cline. We had lunch a couple of times and he got me tickets to the world premiere of the movie.
The information about how big of a deal Adventure was didn’t actually get to me very clearly because I quit Atari and didn’t have any communication with them. One thing I didn’t realize at the time is there were probably kids writing me letters, but Atari was not forwarding them to me. If I had been smarter, I would have filled out one of those little post office forms and I might have been getting bags of mail every week. Then after five years, Atari crashed, and video games were happening on personal computers and I didn’t really think anybody cared about the old video games after that. From about mid-80’s until the Internet came along, I thought nobody cared about the old games.
In retrospect, I guess it makes sense that secrets could be an interesting thing to put in lots of video games, but nobody knew that was going to happen back then. I knew it was a secret, but it was for the purpose of publicizing my authorship of that particular game. It wasn’t a general idea. I didn’t think: “Oh. I’ll put a secret in here and then there will be secrets in every video game in 10 years.” I didn’t think that. I just thought, “I’m going to trick these bastards and sneak my name into the game and I’m not going to tell anybody and they’re going to manufacture 100,000 units of Adventure and they’re going to ship them all over the world and kids are going to get them out of the boxes and there will be no way that Warner Communications can undo that maneuver.”
Capcom has finally announced “Mega Man 11” and confirmed its late 2018 release date. The upcoming game will be available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and the PC.
Capcom announced the new “Mega Man” game during its Mega Man 30th Anniversary Twitch live stream yesterday. The live stream celebrated the Blue Bomber’s 30th anniversary by going through the history of the game and interviewing the original developers. “Mega Man 11” was announced by the end of the live stream and was likely a big surprise for fans since the last game in the series, “Mega Man 10,” was released back in 2010.
“Today we’re pleased to introduce you to an all-new chapter to the series’ storied history. Mega Man 11 brings a fresh new design and incredible 2.5D visuals to the classic series, leaping into the modern era of gaming with beautiful 3D-modeled characters and hand-drawn environments,” Capcom said.
“Everything you know and love about the Blue Bomber and much more is here in a brand-new style! With an expert development team at Capcom, many of whom have been working at the company since the early 8-bit era, we’re revitalizing and revolutionizing Mega Man for a new generation while keeping the series’ tight classic gameplay and the heart of our beloved hero intact.”
Capcom also revealed a short gameplay trailer for “Mega Man 11” and it shows that the game will feature the same classic “platformer” style of game, including boss fights. The developers are simply ditching the 8-bit aesthetic and adapting to a more modern, yet familiar “hand-drawn” background environments and 3D model characters.
Aside from the different style, Capcom also introduced a new gameplay mechanic that allows players to change the look and abilities of Mega Man. When players defeat Robot Masters, they will be able to claim their weapons and start using them on the next levels. The trailer briefly showed this off with Mega Man having a green-colored armor and the ability to drop concrete blocks on enemies.
Capcom also confirmed that “Mega Man 11” will feature returning characters, including Roll, Mega Man’s sister, and Rush, the Blue Bomber’s faithful robotic dog. These characters will be able to help players go through different levels by providing support.
Capcom didn’t give a specific release date for “Mega Man 11,” but the company did say that it will share more information in Summer 2018. Aside from announcing a whole new “Mega Man” game, Capcom is also bringing classic “Mega Man” games to current-generation consoles. All eight classic game sin the “Mega Man X” series will be available for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC in summer 2018, accoridng to Kotaku.
For the Nintendo Switch, Capcom is also releasing “Mega Man Legacy Collection” (1-6) and “Mega Man Legacy Collection 2” (7-10) in the Spring of 2018, with Amiibo support, according to Polygon. These classic 8-bit games will also have a new Rewind feature which will let users “turn back the clock” if they make a mistake. The new Rewind feature will also be available to existing owners of the first Legacy Collection on the PS4, Xbox One and the PC in a form of a software update that’s also slated to be released in Spring 2018.
The company behind the new Star Wars video game has turned off a money-spinning part of it after an outcry from angry fans and scrutiny from regulators.
Gamers had complained in recent days that it takes huge amounts of time — or money — to unlock features in Star Wars Battlefront II. Regulators in Belgium, meanwhile, are looking at whether the game constitutes a form of gambling.
Some Star Wars fans who paid roughly $60 to buy Battlefront II were upset to find that optional charges built into the game can cost them hundreds more.
“We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases,” said Oskar Gabrielson, the general manager of the unit of gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA, Tech30) that developed Battlefront II. “We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning.”
Fans were angry because Battlefront II essentially gave players a choice. They could spend a huge number of hours collecting in-game credits to unlock new features and cooler characters, or pay real money to get them instantly.
In the gaming world, this is called “pay to win.” It’s not unusual, but the format has typically been used in mobile games that are free to download.
Some gamers calculated that it would take six years of playing two hours a day to unlock all the features in Battlefront II without handing over any real money. Paying for everything, meanwhile, would cost over $2,000.
“It’s a complete ripoff and the multiplayer is rigged for whoever is willing to spend more money,” one gamer said on Twitter last week. “It is designed to make you spend more money after buying.”
VIDEO GAME PSA:
Do not buy Star Wars Battlefront 2 for friends or family. It's a complete ripoff and the multiplayer is rigged for whoever is willing to spend more money. It is designed to make you spend more money after buying.
“We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages,” Gabrielson said. “And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.”
Previously, the game developers had tried to placate fans by reducing the cost of unlocking “hero” characters by 75%.
The in-game purchases aren’t gone forever, though.
Gabrielson said they would return “at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game.”
His statement didn’t directly address the concerns of the Belgian Gaming Commission, which is investigating how players in Battlefront II and similar games are rewarded by unlocking “loot boxes.”
The idea is that players pay real money to unlock a virtual “loot box” without knowing what kind of reward is inside. They also don’t know how many boxes they might need to unlock in order to finish the game.
Peter Naessens, general director of the Belgian Gaming Commission, said the regulator is examining whether the rewards are allocated by chance, and whether this might constitute a form of gambling.
In Belgium, companies involved in gambling are required to have a license. Minors and people with gambling addiction problems are not allowed to play.
Electronic Arts has dismissed the idea that its game falls into that category, saying that the “mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling.”
“A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing [loot boxes],” it said in a statement. “Players can also earn [loot boxes] through playing the game and not spending any money at all.”
Long time ago in the early nineties Nintendo was planning to launch their latest CD base game console but we never got to see the final product. But not so long ago someone did find the Prototype and we now have a awesome chance to explore this mysterious rare Nintendo prototype game console
If we’re going to speak on 2016’s best video games, then we have to delve into the ones that returned for the better.
Remakes and remasters are still a trend in the world of gaming (which is a good/bad thing, depending on who you are). Plenty of past titles that didn’t get the appreciation it deserved upon release have been updated for the better. Collections that featured outstanding experiences spruced up those games for loyal/future fans. And even some of these picks we’re about to recommend added in new content and streamlined the experience for today’s gaming audience. Return to these games (that have gotten a new lease on life) ASAP.
These are our “definitive” picks for 2016’s finest video game remakes and remasters.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Near the late-end of the PS2’s life cycle, a slew of underrated and sadly ignored titles graced the console. The original version of Odin Sphere happens to fall into that category. It was Vanillaware’s passion project, which is why it’s no surprise that the Japanese developer revisited it for modern Sony consoles. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir not only updates the visuals and makes the art pop even more, it also streamlines the game’s problematic mechanics for the better. Characters now have the ability to perform more defending/dodging actions, new enemies/bosses were added and the melee combo action got vastly improved. Fans of Muramasa: The Demon Blade and Dragon’s Crown should make sure to check out this quality remaster.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered
Call of Duty truly morphed into the FPS franchise to beat when Modern Warfare launched in 2007. While some fans have moved on from the more futuristic-centric entries in the series, Activision made sure to bring some fans back with a remaster of its classic entry. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered did an incredible job refining the visuals by enhancing the textures and adding high-range lighting. Besides that, the super memorable campaign is kept intact along with its quality online multiplayer suite. The only caveat to getting this remaster is the fact that it only comes as a part of the Infinite Warfare package (which isn’t all the way bad). Might as well get the latest COD with an even better rendition of Modern Warfare.
Ratchet & Clank
2016’s Ratchet & Clank isn’t so much a remake or a remaster; it’s a “re-imagining.” Ignore the lackluster film based on Insomniac Games’ platforming icons and just play this incredible game. Playing this thing will have everyone around you thinking you’re watching the latest Pixar movie. Yeah, it looks THAT good! Along with the amazing visuals, it throws in the best parts of past installments in the series in order to make this the best way to revisit the very 1st game. There’s a bunch of varied action setpieces, tons of collectibles, new weaponry (the Pixelizer is amazing in action) and the game’s not just some easy cakewalk. Take on the challenge of Ratchet & Clank. You won’t be disappointed.
Gravity Rush Remastered
It’s sad to say this, but this PS Vita original didn’t have much of a huge audience due to its portable exclusivity. When the gaming world learned that it was coming to the PS4, us and everyone else rejoiced. Gravity Rush Remastered brings such a vibrant, action-packed adventure back to life in the best ways possible. Of course the graphics have been spruced up even more. But it also adds in all the DLC that’s been previously released (we’re talking a ton of additional missions) and motion controls that’s powered by DualShock 4. Nothing is lost in translation with this quality remaster.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
One of Sega’s most slept-on releases has to be their interesting take on strategy RPG’s – the cult hit known as Valkyria Chronicles. Originally released in 2008, this tactics driven experience brought the best elements of 3rd-person aiming/shooting and strategic movement together. It featured a tightly woven plot that delved into the harsh realities of war. If you happened to miss it beforehand, Sega did you a solid by bringing it back to modern consoles. This remastered take on such a strong RPG features redone visuals, past DLC, English/Japanese vocal audio and the same excellent gameplay it’s known for.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
One of the more divisive entries in the long-running adventures of Link is the GameCube/Wii entry Twilight Princess. For those who actually enjoyed this darker take on The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo did right by you be re-releasing it for the Wii U. The game’s HD edition features Wii U GamePad compatibility, which makes accessing the map and Link’s expansive inventory a simpler affair. That fancy looking Wolf Link Amiibo that comes with it grants you access to a whole new dungeon (the Cave of Shadows), so there’s a new piece of content there if you’re looking for it. Add in the new difficulty mode and you arrive with the best version of Twilight Princess.