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  • Me, then: “This game’s already over? I want more!”

    Posted on May 7th, 2013 keving 77 comments


    A thread from the “online game viewing party” forum on Japan’s

    1 :2013/05/01 19:00:46.85 ID:u1Nj6wW+
    Me, now: “This game isn’t over yet? God this is so long”

    5 :2013/05/01 19:10:46.03 ID:dEaw0fld
    Then: “I wanna get home and pick up where I left off!”
    Now: “It’s too much of a pain to start this up…”

    3 :2013/05/01 19:07:44.01 ID:fFcgu7yI
    I still feel like it’s not enough it it takes less than 50 hours to get through the main game if it’s offline. Usually it feels like I finish games in 20-30 hours.

    6 :2013/05/01 19:16:05.63 ID:QtM0g32Q
    For offline games, I buy them and finish them in 1-2 days.
    Afterwards I read the game’s official thread to check out other people’s impressions and sell it the next weekend.
    If I wait around for DLC, then the selling price goes down and/or I lose interest anyway, so I don’t bother keeping most games

    7 :2013/05/01 19:33:23.03 ID:Nvaymm2b
    I can’t get enthused about playing a game unless I have a cute girl as a companion

    8 :2013/05/01 19:35:55.56 ID:gGBX3W13
    There are a lot of gross otaku like you now, aren’t there?

    33 :2013/05/01 20:53:50.79 ID:gMwfxyF3
    I hear you!
    When I was a kid I laughed at that, like “No way there’d be a girl with eyes that big”, but now…

    11 :2013/05/01 19:47:50.29 ID:swSLUq74
    Then “Hey, how do I get through that section? …Oh, really? Cool, thanks!”

    Now “Sigh… Google, Google…”

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  • FUN Episode 2 playlist

    Posted on May 6th, 2013 keving 1 comment



    Now that Episode 2 of FUN is out, it’s time to fully examine the playlist. Read on for names, titles, details, and endless rambling.

    Crocket’s [sic] Theme — Mad (Scoop Designs)
    – Title music — David Beckham Soccer (Rage Software, GBA) — ?

    Rage Software paid £1.5 million per year to license Becks’s likeness back in the day. This, among other financial extravagances and the general failure in selling games they exhibited after the turn of the millennium, led to their liquidation in 2003. Thus they became just another rung in the great, towering ladder of publisher bankruptcies that defined much of that decade of the UK games business.

    There are around 20 to 25 covers of “Crockett’s Theme,” one of Jan Hammer’s signature synth tunes for Miami Vice, available for the Commodore 64. Quite a lot of them were composed while the show was still on first-run TV. Until now I had no idea the show’s official run went on until May of 1989; I thought it was a lot shorter-lived for some reason. This means that Miami Vice and Cops were premiering new episodes at the same time for a few months — and the first season of Cops was shot entirely in and around Fort Lauderdale, FL, so even their subject matter overlapped a bit at times. That’s what I call “Must See TV” (especially after a night at the bar).

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  • Podcast: FUN Episode 2 — David Beckham

    Posted on May 5th, 2013 keving 3 comments


    FUN - Episode 2 - David Beckham

    Click above to listen/download!  (Or consult the RSS feed or iTunes page)

    Here is episode 2 of FUN with Kevin Gifford and His Pretend Pals, a limited-time podcast run by me. I play lots of old game/demo/computer-generated music running the entire history of the genre. Throughout the show, I also cut in (about once every 15 minutes) with commentary about the game industry, favorite artists, and exactly what I think about E3 and where I’d like to see it shuffle off to.

    Features this time around include:

    • An intro
    • Some great singing
    • An extended look at the music behind the greatest sports game ever made
    • Music generated by SIDs, AY-9-3-8912s, Yamaha YM2151s, Amigas, and much more
    • An exclusive reveal of the location of McDonald’s Treasure Land (it’s closer than you think)
    • The wistful farewell song
    • And more

    This is a free podcast and by all means let everyone know about it, because FUN is best when it’s shared, right?

    A full annotated tracklist will be released tomorrow!

  • McDonald’s Japan menu, circa 1984

    Posted on May 1st, 2013 keving 4 comments



    I love McDonald’s nostalgia almost as much as I love Cooper Black.

    800 yen for a Big Mac with small fries/drink is pretty dang expensive. The yen was a lot cheaper back then — around 230 yen to the dollar — but according to the Internet and people I’ve talked to, the prices were still high enough that most people thought of going there as a special occasion, not like now where it’s a stop on the way to work for a pretty hefty number of train/foot commuters.

    The current Big Mac set goes for 650 yen in Japan, which (with a buck being about 100 yen now) makes it just a bit more expensive over there than here. I think. It’s surprisingly difficult to find information on McDonald’s prices by US region online, and my car’s low on gas and I don’t feel like going out and checking my local one just for the sake of this nostalgia post. Apologies.


  • Masayuki Uemura and the Family Computer project

    Posted on April 30th, 2013 keving 4 comments
    Picture stolen from Weekly Playboy (Eigo Shimojo)

    Picture stolen from Weekly Playboy (Eigo Shimojo)

    I mentioned in Episode 1 of FUN that Masayuki Uemura, chief hardware designer for many of Nintendo’s consoles, did an interview with Weekly Playboy magazine in Japan last week to commemorate the Famicom’s 30th anniversary. (I said that the Famicom came out 1982 in the podcast; it was actually July of 1983.)

    As Uemura explains in the interview, he began work on the console that became the Famicom in 1981, not long after Donkey Kong hit arcades:

    “I was in the arcade-game development department, and the president at the time [Hiroshi Yamauchi] sent us a missive to ‘make something that’ll let you play arcade games on your home TV’. I, personally, really didn’t have any prospects of success.”

    Why not?

    “The Game & Watch series was flying off the shelves at the time, so I figured Game & Watch was where our company was going to go for a while to come. Just the fact you could carry those around and play whenever you wanted, I thought that was huge. What’s more, they were taking more and more people away from my department to work on Game & Watch, so my team only had three people in it. So we were given this mission when it was already like we were fighting a losing battle. I still have my notes from the early stages of the project, but it’s filled with all of this pessimistic stuff, like ‘I don’t see any future in this’.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • FUN Ep. 1: The playlist

    Posted on April 29th, 2013 keving 8 comments


    Thanks to everyone who listened to FUN Episode 1! If you haven’t yet, you’re missing out on something I’m sure is very important!

    Here’s an RSS feed. iTunes feed is submitted and hopefully it’ll go up sometime soon.

    As promised I am going to outline the playlist below, along with some commentary. In the future I’ll just release it alongside the actual podcast, but I ran out of time over the weekend. How many did you guess right?

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Podcast: FUN Episode 1 — Hypertension

    Posted on April 27th, 2013 keving 6 comments

    “No more fun and games of the mind; let’s get busy one more time” –Samantha Fox


    FUN - Episode 1 - Hypertension

    Click above to listen/download!

    Welcome to FUN with Kevin Gifford and His Pretend Pals, a limited-time podcast run by me. I play lots of old game/demo/computer-generated music running the entire history of the genre. Throughout the show, I also cut in (about once every 15 minutes) with commentary about the game industry, favorite artists, and exactly what I think about E3 and where I’d like to see it shuffle off to.

    Features include:

    • An intro
    • A regular featured look at an artist I particularly like (this week: Steve Rowlands)
    • The Thursday Night Mystery News featuring everything that really matters in the game/ferrets industry
    • Music generated by SIDs, AY-9-3-8912s, Yamaha YM2151s, Amigas, and much more
    • A bit where I talk over music in humorous fashion
    • The wistful farewell song

    This is a free podcast and by all means let everyone know about it, because FUN is best when it’s shared, right?

    A full annotated tracklist will be released in a couple of days. See how many tunes you recognize until then! Lemme know which ones you like!

  • Getting the most out of your new Famicom Titler

    Posted on April 26th, 2013 keving 2 comments

    Someone on the Something Awful Forums’ retro thread finally followed through on his threat to get a Famicom Titler, a device that a lot of collectors have heard of but few have seen in action. (I got to play with one once but it was years ago.)

    Released by Sharp in 1989 (the third hardware device released by them under Nintendo license after the Twin Famicom and the C1 TV-and-FC-in-one), the Titler is a 43,000 yen monster that, in addition to being an FC, lets you edit home video and add assorted computer-generated audio and visual effects to them. There was a small boom in these sorts of amateur-oriented titling devices  in 1980s Japan, mainly targeted to parents with camcorders who loved videotaping every major moment of their child’s life. (These people were everywhere. It’s no accident that America’s Funniest Videos was a concept originally licensed from Japanese TV. And speaking of which, did you know that the US-based stereotype of the Japanese tourist snapping pictures of everything he sees dates back to at least the 1930s?)

    Along those lines, it’s got S-Video and composite audio/video inputs and outputs like a regular TV, as well as a full set of editing software when you select “Edit” with an on-console switch and turn the power on. The built-in software lets you do things like add scrolling messages to home videos, put in still graphic images (there’s a whole line of built-in themed images, ranging from “A day at the beach” to “Our child’s graduation” to “Tanabata“), or add voice-over narration. The user enters the content of message scrolls via the stylus and very tiny touch pad on the console itself; voice-overs are handled using the microphone on controller 2. Flipping the “superimpose” switch on the console puts your finished titling work on the video image. If you want, you can also play an FC game and superimpose that over the video too; the Titler displays your home videos wherever the FC is generating the color black.

    Perhaps more interesting to collectors is the fact that the Famicom Titler is the only official Famicom console to have native S-Video output. To accomplish this, Sharp developed the RC2C05-99 chip, a version of the RP2C02 PPU used in the FC upgraded to provide RGB output. This RGB output is converted into composite or S-Video for output from the console. Getting the system to output straight RGB is a fairly straightforward modification, and some hardware hackers have even salvaged the Famicom Titler PPU in order to install it into regular FCs for convenience’s sake. (Due to this new PPU, a small handful of games (like Just Breed and Paperboy) are incompatible with the Titler, and a few others, like Bubble Bobble, have graphical glitches with their color palettes.)

    The Titler’s existence was never greatly advertised, especially considering it came out just before the Super Famicom in Japan. Sharp offered brand-new systems in their catalogs until at least 1995, however, and a warehouse find circa 2000 led to a fairly large number of systems making their way to collectors over there as well. The prices have been edging up lately, though, and a complete-in-box sample went for 165,000 yen across 42 bids on Yahoo! Auctions Japan in January of this year, a price that even most Japanese collectors thought was way out of hand.

    The above video is a small demonstration of what the Titler can do, including goofy still images, scrolly messages, and superimposing FC games on top of other video imagery. The original video is of After Burner for the SMS for…reasons.


  • Japanese developers who care about looking tasteful in public

    Posted on April 24th, 2013 keving 1 comment

    Toshiyuki Takahashi posted on his blog yesterday about his appearance on SegaNama, a Nicovideo live stream hosted by Sega now and again. That’s him on the right, with Sega chief creative officer Toshihiro Nagoshi in the center.

    The photo reminded me of the fact that Nagoshi — the chief creative mind behind the Yakuza series, and a man who frequently shows up in the Japan gaming press to represent his company and comment on issues — has gradually gone more and more…um, what’s the word? Concerned about his personal appearance. He bucks the trend of nerdy Japanese game developers posing awkwardly in Famitsu interviews and actually spends a bit of cash on things like clothes and hairstyling. Here’s what he looked like in 1996, back when he was chiefly known for producing Daytona USA:

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  • Doing Genpei Toumaden the score-thrifty way

    Posted on April 24th, 2013 keving No comments

    I figured out how to embed Nicovideo files into this site again! It’s a world-class party for all of us!

    Genpei Toumaden is one of the most artistic games of the ’80s, one that still resonates with a lot of gamers over there. Impenetrably Japanese in a good way (as opposed to the possession-of-underage-material kind of way), it covers the exploits of the reincarnated Taira-no-Kagekiyo as he tries to recover the three sacred treasures of Japan and defeat his historical nemeses — Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (the laughy guy who jumps around and throws knives), Benkei (the huge guy), and Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (the last boss).

    It’s trivial to get a high score in Genpei, since the game’s packed with little bugs and exploits you can use to play forever and vex the arcade operator. Instead, some gamers have gone on a quest to finish the game with the lowest score possible, an effort that’s been going on for a couple decades now. (These efforts are further inspired by the fact that a lot of things you’d expect to award you points don’t, such as taking energy-recovery candles and defeating Yoritomo.)

    The human record is more-or-less 8200 points, which has been refined to the point where the ReplayBurners video posted a couple weeks back includes a table of every point in the game where Kagekiyo has the terrible misfortune of scoring some points. With the power of tools, however, the TASser above has brought that down to 5800 points — scoring points only for nabbing the three required treasures, defeating Benkei three times, and slashing a frog. (He claims that he’ll try getting rid of the frog later, but ran into desyncing problems midway this time around.)

    Along the way, he dodges every other major enemy in the game, gets within one candlewick’s length of dying multiple times, and generally makes the numerous denizens of Japanese mythology look like idiots.

    Even if you don’t get what’s going on, you gotta love the music, penned by the incredibly prolific Norio Nakagata.