Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Analogue Super Nt - The Day After Preview

If 2016 was the Year of the HDMI NES, with the release or pre-order availability of high quality NES HDMI devices such as the NES Classic Mini, Analogue Nt Mini and the RetroUSB AVS, then 2017 is the Year of the HDMI SNES, with the release of the SNES Classic Mini and now pre-order availability of the Analogue Super Nt.  The Super Nt was announced yesterday and I would like to gather all the available information about it here after 24 hours have passed to allow for information from multiple sources to be made available online.

Monday, October 16, 2017

NES Clones Reversed Duty Cycles - Why you should Reject them

Clones of the Famicom have been around since the mid-1980s, but clones of the Nintendo Entertainment System were very rare until Nintendo's patents expired in 2005.  Since then, clones have become quite common, all advertising such features as improved cartridge insertion mechanisms, lower cost (compared to the official NES top loader), x-in-1s with Genesis or SNES hardware and more recently built-in HDMI support.  However, the hardware in many of these clone consoles is fatally flawed and will not give a genuine experience.  The flaw comes in the reproduction of the NES's audio in the form of reversed duty cycles.  In this blog post, I will explain why this is an issue, how to detect it and why you should not buy second-rate clone consoles.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Rise of Interlacing in Video Game Consoles

Until the Genesis and the SNES, all video game consoles used 240p resolutions.  However, in the quest to gain greater graphical detail without severely impacting performance, game programmers began to use interlaced video modes in the fourth and fifth generation of video game consoles.  Then in the sixth generation, interlacing was the norm and progressive scan was the option.  By the seventh generation, HD gaming was the norm and interlaced graphics usage was more or less here to stay.  Let's explore the issues surrounding interlaced video game graphics here.

Friday, September 22, 2017

From Adventure to Zelda - Influences and Common Themes

When Atari released Adventure in 1980, most players had never seen anything like it before.  Seven years later when Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda, again it seemed that most players had never seen anything like it before.  But when you start to compare the two games, there are many common design elements in both.  In this blog entry, we will take a look at them.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Flawed, Risky and Dangerous Devices for your Retro Consoles and PCs

Most of us appreciate it when enterprising entrepeneurs go out of their way to make new products for us to enjoy on our vintage consoles.  However, they don't always get it right.  Some products can be positively dangerous to your consoles, others are not obviously dangerous but have the potential to decrease your console's lifespan.  In this blog entry I will discuss modern products that are fundamentally flawed, risky to use or just plain dangerous.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Basic Fun for Retro Gamers - The Stealth Invasion of the Mini-Arcades

In the late 1970s, the handheld electronic game was born with Mattel Auto Race.  More games like Football, Baseball, Basketball and Soccer followed and they were successful. These games ran on a microcontroller and used red LEDs to represent objects.  Companies like Nintendo followed up with the Game & Watch series, which could display much more detailed objects using monochromatic, fixed-pattern LCD displays.  Coleco provided innovation in its mini-arcade games using Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD) technology, allowing for color displays that could be viewed in the dark. Milton Bradley introduced the first handheld system with programmable cartridges in 1979 with the Microvision.

The Microvision had the advantage of having individually addressable pixels instead of fixed patterns, but at 16x16 pixels the types of games it could play was extremely limited.  The Game and Watch series and later, cheaper handhelds like the Tiger Electronics' games survived long after Milton Bradley and Coleco got out of the gaming market.  1989's Game Boy, with its 160x144 resolution screen, programmable microprocessor, PPU and APU and 16KB of RAM made the fixed-screen LCD games obsolete.  When the Atari Lynx introduced color and backlighting later that year, not even the color VFD units could compete.  But we are not here to talk about the programmable consoles today, today we are going to take a look at more modern, fixed LCD games released by a company called The Bridge Direct under its Basic Fun brand label.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Coming Full Circle : Comparing the IBM Model F and M Keyboards

When I started this blog in 2010, the first thing that came to my mind to write about was my love of the IBM Model M keyboard.  http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2010/01/his-my-views-on-overall-best-pc.html  From those humble beginnings I then decided to talk about other retro computer and video game topics.  But before there was the IBM Model M keyboard, there was the IBM Model F keyboard.  Back in 2010, I did not have a full appreciation of the many advantages of the Model F.  Now I have acquired both of the major models and would like to talk about them here.  Given that this is officially my 360th blog entry, I would say that I have come full circle.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Mandela Effect - The Nerdly Version

There exists a phenomenon called false memory.  These are memories which a person sincerely believes are true yet can objectively be shown to be false.  A colloquial name for this is the "Mandela effect", so named because many people in the late 1980s and into the 1990s believed that Nelson Mandela was dead.  Given that he was imprisoned by the South African government from 1962 to 1990, people could be forgiven in the pre-Internet days that he was dead.  In the context of suppressed memory cases, usually involving child sexual abuse, the theory is very controversial.  However, I am not going down that road.

Instead I am going to pull some false memories from elements of popular culture which I have found interesting.  James Rolfe did an excellent video in his Angry Video Game Nerd series satirizing the supposed "Berenstain Bears Conspiracy" : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB3CybXl8rs  The conspiracy alleges that there has been a concerted effort to change the authorship of the Berenstain Bears books from "Berenstein" to "Berenstain."  After all, doesn't everybody remember the "Berenstein Bears"?  I remember the books and the shows being referred to as the "Berenstein Bears" and used that label to refer to them myself.  I would suggest that the mistakes lies in three factors.  First, "Berenstein" and "Berenstain" are very similar words.  Second, "Berenstein" is a more common surname than "Berenstain"  Third and perhaps most important, "Berenstein" is easier to say that "Berenstain."

So from my own experiences, let me describe two instances where I probably am the subject of false memories.  Originally I was going to describe three memories, but I forgot what the third memory was!  [Update : I finally recalled what it was!]  For the three examples I will explain the origins of the memory and try to explain how I may have acquired the memory falsely.