Reading the Retro Gamer magazine is a treat

It sure is nice that some minor advances have been made in computer technology and on the internet in the last few decades. Magazines, guides, and books can now be purchased or downloaded in PDF format or in some other format on the internet. After doing some searching and looking around, I downloaded some of the issues of the magazines Retro Gamer, GameFan, PlayStation Magazine, Animerica, Official Nintendo Magazine, Nintendo Power, Edge, Play, Game Informer, NGC Magazine, Official Dreamcast Magazine, PC Zone, and Gamers’ Republic. I’ve never really been a magazine reader until recently. A few years ago, I wandered into the magazines section of a large book store that’s located not far from the city center. There was a large selection of car magazines, fashion magazines, science magazines, health magazines, film magazines, video game magazines, and other magazines there. Some of the magazines caught my eye, and I took some photos of the covers for reference later on. When I began looking at whether or not some of these magazines can be bought or ordered online, I discovered that many older issues of magazines can be easily downloaded on certain websites. So, I downloaded some of the issues that looked interesting to me. If the file is 100 megabytes or less, it can be uploaded to Google Books in your Google account. One thousand files can be stored in Google Books for free. When it comes to larger files, I read them by using the app Adobe Acrobat, which is installed on my Samsung notebook and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphone. The first issue of Retro Gamer that I recently began reading is issue #161 from 2016. It includes an article about the Pokemon Red and Blue video game, which was released in 1996. I can’t say that I ever really got into the Pokemon craze. I was too young when the video games were released. Moreover, I didn’t have a Game Boy, and I couldn’t play the games. It was only thanks to my sister that I got to play the video game at all for a few weeks while I was still in school. She brought me a Game Boy that her friend had, and the only game that was on it was Pokemon Red and Blue (the Blue version). Many adults, who were children or teenagers back then, now have fond memories of playing on a Game Boy. Well, I didn’t have such an experience, but I did play on a Game Boy for a little while, and I can say that I definitely wanted to have one. It’s a bulky console. Nowadays, however, this handheld is considered to be a classic. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having this cultural icon in my possession too, if only as a decoration. I like the way it looks. When it comes to the Pokemon trading card game, I didn’t get to participate in this activity either. My parents didn’t buy cards, games, or even toys for me. And I had no money of my own back then. Moreover, from what I’ve heard, the cards sold out very fast in stores back then. Therefore, even if you had money back then, there was no guarantee that you’d get your hands on the cards that you wanted. So, the only exposure that I had to the Pokemon phenomenon was through the anime television series. I got to watch some of the episodes at one time. This was exciting because the Pokemon anime was actually quite good at that time, and I looked forward to watching every episode of the Indigo League and Orange Islands seasons. Doing this was also dangerous for me because if my mother noticed that I was watching cartoons, there was a good chance that she’d take away the television remote control and ban me from watching television. The time that I had to even watch the anime was very limited. So, my participation in the Pokemon phenomenon was partial at best. But I still remember that time with fondness. In the 1990s, and maybe even in the early-2000s, people could still get excited about some things, and the Pokemon multimedia franchise was an exciting distraction for children and teenagers. Since then, I’ve been able to play every version in the Pokemon video game series. I got to watch every episode of the Indigo League as well, but I stopped watching the anime after the Johto League Championships because the anime became unbearably dull after the Orange Islands season. Anyway, reading the article about Pokemon Red and Blue in Retro Gamer was a pleasant experience that brought back some good memories. It’s interesting how the best memories or the most fond memories that a person can have can be of difficult or challenging times. When it comes to the video game series, I think that Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen, which are remakes of the original versions, are my favorite versions. It’s impressive how many good video games were released for the Game Boy Advance. I’m currently playing Mega Man Zero, which is the first Mega Man Zero game that I’ve ever played, and I’m struck by how good the graphics and the art in this game are. The art reminds me of the Battle Angel Alita manga by Yukito Kishiro. Thanks to the Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen versions, you get to experience the original great video game but with updated graphics, though I’ve enjoyed all of the versions in the series (except for the bad-looking Pokemon Sword and Shield).

As much as I enjoy reading vintage magazines or certain books that I get online, I can still mention something else that can now be obtained thanks to the internet. I enjoy many things that got made in Japan in the 1980s and in the 1990s, when the economy of Japan was still booming. One of my favorite things to watch are Japanese tokusatsu series like Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and Metal Hero. Unfortunately, in North America, if people are aware that these series exist, they’re aware of them only because some of them have been remade in the USA as the Power Rangers series. This isn’t to say that Power Rangers is a bad franchise, but it lacks the characters, optimism, and cultural quirks of the Japanese Super Sentai series. If something is available in Japanese, I’d rather watch it in Japanese because it’s usually better. When it comes to the tokusatsu series, however, most of them are not available for purchase or streaming in English. What is up with that? At this point, anything that’s Japanese should be available, but, for some reason, one can only rely on the good work of some people that create fansubs for these shows. Many of the tokusatsu shows have been fansubbed, but some are still not available. At this time, I’m watching Special Rescue Police Winspector, which is part of the Metal Hero franchise. In order to convert the video files to AVI format and make them smaller, I use the programs Wondershare UniConverter and Any Video Converter. When it comes to the films that I’ve seen recently, I think that it’s worth mentioning the ones that I saw in cinemas. A few of the cinemas in the city sometimes screen popular old films, and the price to see them is about $5. In this way, I was fortunate enough to see RoboCop (1987), The Terminator (1984), Leon: The Professional (1994), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Ghost in the Shell (1995) on the big screen. I would have liked to see more classic films like this, but they aren’t screened for long and sometimes I don’t have the time to see them. Recently, I got to see Akira (1988), Halloween (1978), and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). I decided not to see recently released films like Tenet because they don’t interest me. I think that The Empire Strikes Back was the most enjoyable film to see for me. There are just so many good scenes in it. When you’re watching this film, it really does feel like you get transported to another world because the filmmaking is so good. How about the battle on the planet Hoth? How about when Yoda explains to Luke what the Force is? How about when Luke engages Vader in a lightsaber duel? If you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. The film is so good that when the screening came to an end, some of the people in the audience clapped. The only downside to the screening was that the version that was shown is the special edition version. I would have preferred to see the original theatrical version. The version of Terminator 2 that I got to see on the big screen was also not my favorite version. Instead of the 3D version, I would have preferred to see the special edition version, with 15 minutes of previously unseen footage.

Sonic The Hedgehog (1991) Retro Review

Sonic by this point has been through his ups and downs, but in 1991, he was a new kid on the block, competing against the biggest name in gaming to date (Super Mario). Sega decided to use the power of the Genesis to their advantage, the biggest being in-speed. So they came up with at hedgehog that could outrun anyone on the system, strapped on his running shoes, and made him one of the most recognizable names in gaming history.

The premise is this, Sonic is out to save his animal friends who are being captured by Dr. Robotnik, a hefty mustachioed villain with a taste for little forest animal magic. But once you started playing the game, the story didn’t really matter that much. Add in the fact the Sega packed this game with the console, and you had a Super Nintendo killer on your hands.

Sonic The Hedgehog was set against a futuristic backdrop of fast paced rolling scenery. While Mario’s biggest advantage was jumping to the heights of the clouds and taking pipes to his underground destinations, Sonic opted for just catapulting into the sky and flinging himself dangerously close to a lava waterfall. The game runs on a fluid spectrum which allows the player to explore not only the length of the level, but also the depth, which for the time, was something new and invigorating.

Sonic also worked on a continuous health system. All along the level our hero collects rings. Once Sonic hits an enemy or harmful object his rings spray out from his body and start blinking. The player has the chance to try and recollect to rings before they disappear and then continue along the level until he is hit while carrying no rings, at which point he dies and has to start the level over. This health system worked very well for the title as Sonic is sometimes able to avoid the many pitfalls that come up on his so quickly. This allows the player to recoup and continue instead of having a set amount of lives to keep starting the level over. Sonic also had several level up items which included power shoes and several types of shields which allowed the players to get hit and not give up the rings they were holding.

The levels are also interactive, enticing the player to continue moving foward instead of stopping. Land bridges will fall out from under you, Loops and turns require a certain speed to continue through, and fire bursts out of the ground behind and starts following you. Bonus levels took the player one step closer to madness with a full on spinning room which required sonic to bounce around in ball form while collecting as many rings as he can using the chaos emerald. This could be achieved by collecting fifty rings and keeping them by the end of the level.

Sonic was designed amazingly well for it’s time. While comparisons to Super Mario Brothers did exist, there really was no reason for it. Once you actually play the title you realize that the only comparison is that it’s platforming game. Sonic keeps the screen decluttered with only a few numeric displays for rings and bonuses, and while some levels were set up for straight speed, getting through the level as fast as possible means that you might miss out on some well hidden secrets. Combining that with music that is unforgettable and a vibrate set of visuals and you have yourself a winner.

The reason why Final Fantasy VII is still a very popular game

I’m glad that I bought a PlayStation Vita several years ago. Before I bought the Vita, I already had the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation 3. I didn’t have a home video game console made by Nintendo before I bought the Wii U several years ago, and this happened close to the end of the Wii U’s lifespan. That’s because when I began thinking about buying a video game console for the first time, my thoughts drifted toward Sony’s consoles. This probably happened because I got to play a few PlayStation games by then, most notably Final Fantasy Tactics and Chrono Cross. On the PlayStation 2, which is the first console that I bought, I initially played Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, God of War II, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I enjoyed playing those games because they’re great, and, back then, I didn’t buy more video games to play on the PlayStation 2 because the games that I already had kept me satisfied and because I wasn’t a “gamer”. I’m still not a “gamer”. I guess that I can be called a casual gamer. That is, most of my free time doesn’t go toward playing video games. But I am aware that many people of my age are gamers. They grew up playing video games. Therefore, they know a lot about the video game industry, they usually have a large video game collection, and they spend a lot of time playing video games. Anyway, let’s get back to the Vita. Though the Vita doesn’t have a large library of its own games, it still has the PlayStation Store, on which you can purchase not only Vita games but also PS1 games and PlayStation Portable games. Not every game that was released for these consoles is available for purchase, but some games are available. One of the games that I added to my collection on the Vita some years ago is Silent Hill. But I began playing this survival horror game in September of this year. It’s one of the games that usually appears on people’s lists of the best PS1 games. Well, after finishing Silent Hill, I’ve got to agree. This game is fantastic. It’s quite an experience. It didn’t take long for me to finish playing it because I used a video game guide for help. I downloaded a BradyGames guide in PDF format. Though I did this, I still had a good time playing the game. If you don’t have a Vita or some other PlayStation console, you can play PS1 games on a computer by downloading an emulator and video game ROMs. In this way, you can also play games on your phone. But my preferred choice of playing PS1 games on anything other than a PlayStation console is playing them on the Anbernic RG350m retro game console. Not every PS1 game runs perfectly on this console, but Silent Hill, for example, runs without problems. You can also get the GPD XD Plus console, which is somewhat more expensive, but it’s a more powerful machine and it runs PS1 games without problems. These and other retro game consoles can be easily purchased on AliExpress. By the way, when you play PS1 games on the Vita, you can change the screen resolution in the options menu by pressing and holding the PS (Home) button. You also have to press this button when “switching discs” for PS1 games. Another game that I played only on my Vita is Xenogears. This happened a few years ago. Xenogears is a known game in North America, but its popularity in Japan is much greater. It’s one of the most beloved video games in Japan. I can say that it’s definitely another fantastic RPG from Square. When it comes to its gameplay, Xenogears is not perfect. Like many other RPGs of its time, Xenogears features many random battles that sometimes take place in areas that look rather dull. Still, if you use a video game guide for help, you can avoid or shorten these somewhat unpleasant experiences. When it comes to its visuals, designs, music, story, and characters, however, Xenogears is fantastic. I’ve got to mention that Final Fantasy VII is another RPG that I got to finish on my Vita. This happened about a year ago. I began playing this role-playing video game from Square several years ago because it’s known as one of THE must-play PS1 games. It didn’t quite live up to my expectations because I played it years after its release and not right after it was released. I found it to be inferior to Chrono Cross, for example. So, after finishing about a third of Final Fantasy VII, I stopped playing it. I returned to this game some months later and came close to finishing it. And, finally, out of a desire to finish this game in order to have a feeling of completion and satisfaction, I beat the game about a year ago. So, what are my thoughts on Final Fantasy VII? After finishing this game, I can say that it’s definitely one of the best RPGs on the PlayStation, though it’s not my favorite RPG on the system. It has a good battle system. Battles in this game aren’t a chore most of the time. Many of its visuals are fantastic, especially the ones in Midgar. Its story and characters are good too. I don’t think that the music score by Nobuo Uematsu is all that great, but it has its moments. Overall, I’m glad that I played this game. It belongs on the list of video games considered the best:

But I think that I know the reason why this video game is praised more than it should be and why it’s heavily promoted by the video game industry. Final Fantasy VII has a very noticeable environmental propaganda message, and it’s probably not the only propaganda message in the game. This is especially clear at the end of the game. Environmentalism is one of the policies of the Western oligarchy. I’m not really against environmentalism. It’s obvious that nature has to be protected and preserved. But I still wanted to point this out when it comes to Final Fantasy VII. The enduring popularity of this video game is not entirely organic. It’s a great game, but I didn’t enjoy playing it as much as Silent Hill, for example. If I were to choose my favorite home video game console, I think that I’d choose the PlayStation. This isn’t because I think that it’s the best console ever, though many people would argue that it is the best console ever. It’s because I had a good time playing PS1 games. It’s the first console that I seriously thought about and researched. Still, this happened years after the end of the PlayStation’s lifespan. The PS1 has a large library of good video games. This is despite the fact that I still don’t have a PS1. All of the PS1 games that I have I played on my Vita or on my PS2. I do like the looks of the PS1, and maybe I’ll buy an original PS1 someday on eBay or on Amazon simply as a decoration. It’s one of the least expensive old consoles on the market. Another thing worth mentioning is that I still haven’t decided to buy a Nintendo Switch. On first look, it would seem that I would have bought a Switch a long time ago because I like handheld game consoles. On second look, however, some issues have held me back from buying this console. Firstly, I’m still not impressed by this console’s features. It’s really only good for playing Switch games. Secondly, I don’t like some of Nintendo’s practices. It’s a company that constantly sues people for one reason or another. Nintendo has gone after ROM sites and sued the owners of these sites for huge sums of money. I’ve also heard that Nintendo creates artificial shortages in order to create demand for its products. So, in general, I don’t like Nintendo’s scummy and monopolistic practices. I think that I won’t be giving any more of my money to Nintendo. Moreover, I’m happy with the Wii U that I have. I can play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Wii U. I also got to play almost every other Zelda game in existence thanks to the Wii U. I’ve already purchased many Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and Game Boy Advance games on my Wii U or Nintendo 3DS in the last few years. When it comes to the Switch, the only old games that it has to offer are some (and not all) SNES games and NES games. I’m not a kid who plays video games just for the sake of playing video games. If I play a video game, it usually has to be great because I care about things like quality and originality.

Агапыч (1966)

Год производства: 1966

О забавном котенке по кличке Агапыч, который никогда не боялся оставаться дома один. А чтобы ему не было скучно, хозяин привязал к стулу смешного неуклюжего медвежонка. Долгие зимние вечера они проводили вместе…

Автор сценария – И. Виноградова (дикторский текст)
Режиссер – Л. Яровенко
Оператор – В. Мамонтов

From Game Boy to 3DS: The legacy of Nintendo’s handhelds

Analysts, developers and former Nintendo staff look back at the why the platform holder dominated the portable gaming space for over three decades.

Since the Game Boy’s debut in 1989, Nintendo has operated a twin-pillar games business: home consoles and gaming handhelds. The discontinuation of the 3DS, and lack of a direct successor, marks the end of an era, one in which the platform holder not only dominated but expanded the games market.

Ubisoft’s brand director for international brand strategy Shara Hashemi says Nintendo’s handheld business “revolutionised the games industry”, starting with the original Game Boy, which persisted alongside multiple home console generations. Think about it: the Game Boy launched one year before the SNES arrived, and by the time it was replaced by the Game Boy Advance, the PlayStation 2 was already on shelves.

The pioneering device — and its Color iteration — went on to sell over 118 million units worldwide. And Guha Bala, co-founder of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit developer Velan Studios, observes that Nintendo’s impact on handheld gaming stretches back even further.

“Nintendo defined handheld gaming as a play pattern starting with Game & Watch in the early ’80s,” he says. “Portable gaming has played a huge role in the content I’ve enjoyed playing and making for most of my life. It was a totally parallel industry to console gaming for more than 20 years.

“But that changed fundamentally with the advent of mobile games on the App Store in 2008. While I love mobile experiences, they are quite different from handheld games.”

Mat Piscatella, executive director for games at data firm NPD, says Nintendo’s portable business “had a massive impact on the industry in several ways.” Among them was the creation of a prime entry point for a crucial audience: children.

“Nintendo’s portable platforms gave many kids a way to connect and engage with games at a younger age, helping them then transition into other types of gaming as they aged, helping make the market what it is today,” he says.

“The portable platforms also gave many developers and publishers a less risky way to bring products to market, with lower development costs and faster timelines than AAA console development, for example.”


Nintendo’s achievements in the handheld space are all the more remarkable given how rivals Sega and Sony have failed to match them, despite numerous attempts. While Nintendo was dethroned in the home console space over the years, it proved to be untouchable when it came to handhelds.

The top three best-selling handheld consoles in terms of units in the US are Nintendo machines — DS, GBA and 3DS respectively. Sony’s PSP achieves a respectable fourth place, although it’s worth noting that Game Boy had a full six years of sales before NPD began tracking in 1995.

Further down the ranks are the ‘also rans’: Vita, Game Gear, Sega Nomad and Neo Geo Pocket, all of which were unable to rival Nintendo’s handheld might.

“No other company seemed to be able to repeat the magic that Nintendo started, and each much larger system died out,” says Zebra Partners’ Perrin Kaplan, who spent 16 years heading up marketing at Nintendo of America. “I have no doubt that the iPhone app store took a hint from Nintendo when Apple realised games for phones could be a thing.”

Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad adds: “Nintendo’s most successful consoles have been able to pair innovative hardware with its IP in a way that provides unique game experiences for players. This has always been the secret to Nintendo’s success, and [it’s] why Nintendo invests so much to ensure hardware such as the DS or Switch provides unique ways to play, is affordable, and has software to take advantage of its features.”

Bala agrees that the minimalist approach to handheld gaming enabled Nintendo to stay ahead of the competition. By selecting components that allow for a more accessible price point, the company turned its platforms’ limitations in terms of raw power into real benefits for players. Case in point: the choice of two-tone displays for the original Game Boy, which improved battery life and made it easier to use in daylight.

“For an experience on the go, that was crucial,” he says. “Contrast that with competitor handhelds where faster clock speeds and more demanding displays drove down battery life and places to play. Other systems were about putting a console system in your hands, rather than recognising that an amazing portable game experience deserves a device devoted to just that purpose.”

During his time at Vicarious Visions, Bala and his team demonstrated this with a myriad GBA and DS games, many of which converted console experiences into something best suited to handheld. For the GBA launch, Vicarious developed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, which simulated the 3D gameplay of the console versions in a 2D space. Similarly, the studio created the Guitar Grip for the DS’ GBA cartridge slot to enable a portable Guitar Hero.

David Yarnton, who served as general manager at Nintendo UK for nine years, says the platform holder’s IP was another key advantage in the handheld space. As Yarnton puts it, “it’s hard to compete with Mario” — a claim backed up by NPD rankings that show the four best-selling handheld games in the US to be Mario titles, with the plumber headlining seven of the top 20.

Jo Bartlett, former Nintendo UK head of communications and partnerships, agrees: “With Nintendo consoles, it was never about the tech spec. It was about storytelling, the characters and the Nintendo magic. There was such a broad catalogue of high quality games, and they kept them coming.”

For Piscatella, the data shows the power of Nintendo-exclusive franchises — and there’s one IP in particular that really made a difference. It will surprise no one to learn that the US’ top 27 best-selling handheld games in terms of dollar sales are all for Nintendo platforms. Nor is it a surprise that all of these are published by Nintendo, and it’s even less surprising that 17 of them are Pokémon titles.

“Sometimes things are difficult to analyse, other times there’s Pokémon,” he says. “Other factors surely contributed. Pricing, branding, and so on… but one portable business had Pokémon, and the others did not.”

Dual-Screen Sensation

While the Game Boy undoubtedly set the course for Nintendo’s handheld success, the Nintendo DS has perhaps the greatest legacy. It stands as one of the most successful consoles of all time, with 154.02 million units sold worldwide — second only to PlayStation 2’s 155 million sales.

But more than that, it opened the games industry up to new demographics in ways that few platforms had managed before. True, the original PlayStation and its successor expanded the audience for traditional games experiences, but the DS provided something for all ages — for players from five to 95, as Nintendo used to say.

“Nintendo has been laser focused on games for everyone, devices for everyone, no intimidation of something ‘for gamers’,” says Niko Partners’ president Lisa Hanson.

Ubisoft’s Hashemi adds: “The DS opened up new ways of playing with its dual controls and touch screen. Games designed for the DS gave the console great casual appeal, and introduced many people to the video games industry… It brought a user-friendly versatility that made gaming accessible to a much wider audience.

“DS games were unlike any other games on competing consoles. The technology allowed for pet simulators that you can care for with a stylus, or for puzzle games that you can quickly and intuitively interact with.”

It was an opportunity that Ubisoft, like other companies at the time, seized. From 2007 to 2014, over the course of both the DS and 3DS, the Assassin’s Creed publisher published close to 50 Imagine titles and over 30 Petz games. The former were each themed around different careers that appealed to young girls, while the latter were a revival of the classic PC pet simulators Catz and Dogz.

“We saw an opportunity to widen our audience to a younger female crowd with the DS,” explains Hashemi, who was instrumental in launching many of these titles. “Before the DS, the majority of our games appealed to young adults, mostly male. It’s not that girls were not interested in these games, it’s just that there were no games targeted to them specifically.

“We conducted lots of research with tween girls to discuss their hobbies and interests and what they would look for in a video game. That’s where we saw a gap in the market and came up with the Imagine line.”

With new interfaces and audiences came new franchises. For those who might not be interested in Mario, Zelda or Pokémon, Nintendo offered Professor Layton’s logic-based puzzles or the more straight-faced Brain Age/Brain Training (depending on your region). Even Ubisoft’s Petz could be seen as a reaction to the huge success of Nintendogs.

Nintendo’s own pet simulator stands as the second biggest-selling DS game of all time, with 24 million units shifted worldwide — beaten only by New Super Mario Bros’ 30 million. The first Brain Age was fourth with nearly 20 million sales.

However, driving unconventional games experiences to such heights wasn’t easy; Kaplan recalls that “marketing games that weren’t well-known franchises was a bit challenging,” while Yarnton remembers hearing doubts even from his own team members.

“I remember having seen a demo of [Nintendogs] at head office, a lot of the hardcore gamers in our team poo-pooed it,” he says. “I had to laugh because weeks later, when we received samples, you could hear people talking to their puppies all across the office — the hardcore were converted.

“I had such great expectations for Nintendogs and its potential that when I put our forecasts and orders into Japan, they didn’t believe them. Needless to say, we exceeded these many times over.”

Yarnton also observes that the success of the DS steered Nintendo for the next decade, and set the stage for the most successful home console in the company’s history.

“A lot of people say that Wii was a big risk in launching such radical controllers,” he says, “but I think DS paved the way for people to be able to play games with a different interface and it introduced so many new users to video games because it was so intuitive to use.”

The age of the app

For the 3DS, the platform holder faced a much more challenging market. Having dominated the portable games scene for more than 20 years, Nintendo faced the unenviable task of selling a dedicated handheld at a time when that wider audience could access games on a far more ubiquitous device: their phone.

The 3DS launched in early 2011, three years after Apple launched its transformational App Store. Casual gamers had also shifted towards other platforms such as Facebook, thanks to hits like the original FarmVille. Meanwhile, Sony was aiming for hardcore gamers with the upcoming release of PlayStation Vita.

Nintendo also faced obstacles of its own making: the difficulty of communicating that 3DS was a new platform, rather than a DS update in the vein of the Lite and DSi, and positioning glasses-free 3D as a key selling point.

Yarnton recalls that, as with the original DS’ dual screen setup, the 3D effect “seemed a bit weird to some people… but with sampling, once people played it, they got it.” However, shortly after the 3DS’ launch, the team had to tackle some hostile press when UK tabloid The Sun ran an article claiming the 3D was making people sick.

“Overcoming this misconception and reminding people that the 3D was optional, safe, and not just a gimmick took a sustained effort,” says Bartlett. “A few years later, The Sun ran a piece about how the Nintendo 3DS was the best console ever — it was a moment of real vindication.

“We also found that a lot of people were still happy with their Nintendo DS so didn’t feel the need to upgrade straight away, which was a testament to the longevity of the hardware. The steady stream of top-rated games changed their minds, but it took some time.”

There are doubtless still units in the channel, but with the 3DS now discontinued, it’s unlikely to rise much further above its current lifetime sales of 75.9 million. It’s a respectable total, especially given the shift towards mobile, but still leaves the 3DS — including its 2DS, New and XL varieties — as the lowest-selling family of Nintendo handhelds, falling short of the Game Boy Advance’s 81.5 million.

With this in mind, and the long-established dominance of smartphone gaming, could we ever see a dedicated Nintendo handheld again?

Kaplan points to the success of the Switch Lite as proof that demand still exists: “There is a market for millions who love a standalone games portable system. I’m one of those millions for sure. So, never say never.”

Meanwhile, Hashemi believes Nintendo could always tap into the children’s market with a cheaper, more robust handheld: “As a mother to a seven-year old, I am always reticent to give my iPhone to my daughter. I would much rather have her play on a handheld with selected games tailored to her. She would love the Imagine games.”

Earlier this week, analysts told Bloomberg that Nintendo could continuously refresh the Switch, iPhone-style, to further grow its audience. If so, the Lite could play a role in this.

NPD’s Piscatella agrees that there’s no telling how the Switch will evolve, but doubts a dedicated handheld could be released in the same way again.

“The tech is at a place where separating a portable is no longer necessary to have a market viable product,” he says. “Today’s video game consumers seem to be preferring flexibility with content engagement, so I’d expect other solutions to be preferable to a dedicated portable platform. But things change.”

Ahmad and Hanson of Niko Partners observe that, while Nintendo’s dedicated handheld line has come to an end, the company’s philosophy of integrating hardware and software means handheld gaming will continue to play a role in the company’s future — the Switch being a prime example. The analysts fully expect Nintendo to continue at least offering the option of portable play in some form.

Bartlett concludes that Nintendo’s track record of setting itself apart from the rest of the games market, particularly since the DS and Wii, takes nothing off the table.

She concludes: “Part of the magic of Nintendo is never being able to predict what it’s going to do next, or how it will capture the imagination of gamers, so who knows what it’s got up its sleeve?”

Trace Memory Review – Review

An all new mystery for PC adventure fans to unravel.

Trace Memory (known as Another Code in other territories) follows in the footsteps of classic PC adventure games such as King’s Quest, Myst, and Broken Sword. While the genre has been around for ages, originating in purely text-based journeys, games in this style have all but disappeared in the past decade. Now, with touch screen input making point and click controls on handhelds more accessible, Cing and Nintendo are revisiting the genre with an all-new mystery.

The story centers on Ashley Mizuki Robbins, a thirteen year old girl who is being raised by her aunt, Jessica. She has grown up believing that her father and mother died when she was young, and is shocked when a package containing a strange device (oh c’mon, it’s a DS – called “DTS” in the game) arrives in the mail from her father. She then journeys to Blood Edward Island, an abandoned family estate where her father has apparently been doing research all these years. However, her father is not at the shore to meet her when she arrives, and in her search for him, she encounters D, a ghost who has wandered the island over fifty years without any recollection of who he once was. The two travel together, searching the estate for clues leading to D’s past and Ashley’s father.

For those who haven’t played this type of game before, it’s important to note that there is no real action in the game whatsoever – no running through death traps or executing combos against the undead. The gameplay consists primarily of finding clues to advance the story and solving simple but challenging puzzles.

When exploring, you’ll use the stylus or cross pad to guide Ashley through 3D areas on the lower screen, and detailed 2D close-ups will show on the upper screen as you move around. Any time you’re in a place that you can study in detail, you can press the magnifying glass icon to move the still down to the lower screen. The stylus can then be used to tap on items in the room and get further information or closer looks.

The DS hardware does allow for several new variations on the genre. Aside from the simple point and click exploration, the touch screen is also used to interact with puzzles, toss items to the upper screen, punch keypads, or scrape off plaques covered with rust. The microphone is used a few times in some basic ways, and even the DS’s ability to sense when it’s closed is used in gameplay. A nifty camera feature utilizes the dual screen arrangement to superimpose one picture you’ve taken over another, combining two parts to find a much needed clue.

As the US title suggests, memory is a key element in the game, not only in the story, but some of the gameplay elements as well. Unlike most adventure games which allow you to pick up just about anything, whether it seems useful or not, Trace Memory often will force you to remember where things are by not allowing you to pick up an item the first time you examine it. A fireplace may not hold any clues at first, but go back later, and you’ll be able to pick up some much needed charcoal. In addition, the game has a multiple choice quiz, oddly enough, at the end of each chapter to help keep you from forgetting important plot details that you’ve learned.

One adventure game trait Trace Memory does carry faithfully is obscure puzzles. While most puzzles take just a bit of thought to figure out, there are a few that everyone is just about guaranteed to get stuck on. The clues just don’t do it. (Too bad I can’t give examples without spoiling them.) There is one spot that I will spoil where the precision of the touch screen works against the player: you can easily think you’ve examined everything in this china cabinet, except you forgot to tap on one single glass that happens to be the item that you don’t know you’re looking for. It’s a cabinet across the room with no other dishes of significance. I touched the items all around it and in every little window, and then ended up searching the rest of the island to try to figure out what I had missed. These kinds of frustrations are pretty standard for the genre, though, and the game doesn’t suffer too much for it.

The only other minor complaint is that the constant in-game presence of the DS/DTS may detract from the experience more than draw you in. It’s a launch title gimmick, featured in a game that released late in the US. Treating the DS like some secret device while having messages recorded on DS cards scattered about the house just seems silly and hard to get past at times.

Being a mystery makes Trace Memory a little easier to spoil than most games, so there’s not a much else that can be said. It doesn’t take a heck of a lot of time to finish, but you can run through a second time for some slight variations and extra plot details. This is a cool little adventure, especially for anyone who misses this style of gameplay. Hopefully, adventure game fans can look for more titles like this to come.

Is It Ethical to Keep Pets and Other Animals? It Depends on Where You Keep Them

Cats can be happy in apartments, but the space needs features that enable their natural desire to climb, jump, hide, and scratch.

New York City’s comprehensive code for animal welfare restricts when horse-drawn carriages can operate and bans the sale of the fatty liver of a force-fed duck, foie gras.

Washington state just adopted a new law that will enhance the life of egg-laying chickens, requiring that they live in an environment with “enrichments” like scratch areas, perches, nest boxes and areas to take the dust baths chickens so enjoy.

These bills, both passed in 2019, are part of an ongoing effort to codify the rights of animals, an area of the law I have studied and written about for 30 years. My next book, which will be published in 2020, develops a group of seven legal rights that I believe an ethical society should adopt to protect animals.

Freedom from cruelty of course makes the list. U.S. law has required this since New York first passed an anti-animal cruelty law in 1867. Today, all U.S. states have laws that prohibit the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering. Modern law also protects the physical well-being of animals in human care by requiring they receive food, water and often veterinary care.

But a full life requires more than basic survival, so I propose some new rights for animals in my book. Perhaps most importantly, I argue that animals need a “right of place” – that is, access to sufficient physical space to live a natural life.

To be comfortable, content and to find their place in a social hierarchy, animals require space. Conversely, if an animal has too little space, then its home becomes a jail, a stressor, a frustrating moment that continues indefinitely.

On the Right of Place

Living on a farm with five different species, including chickens and dogs, has convinced me of an animal’s right to place, too.

This space has two components. First, there’s its size – is it big enough to suit an animal’s needs? Second, there’s the content of that space – what’s inside that space that the animal can make use of?

Different animals have different space needs. Consider, for example, a Great Pyrenees dog – a breed genetically predisposed to guarding. For over a decade, my family’s farm has been watched over by five of these large, amazing dogs.

When on guard, the Great Pyrenees have the regal look of white lion. On a given day on our farm, they will independently wander over 30 fenced acres. Without fences, I am sure these dogs could patrol an even greater range, but letting the Great Pyrenees wander her maximum range is usually not desirable. Natural and human-made hazards pose a risk to the uncontained dog, and the dog might pose a risk to others.

An optimum option for the Great Pyrenees is several acres of fenced-in land, which allows the dog to investigate its natural features while guarding against intruders.

If that same amount of land were paved in concrete and surrounded by a brick wall, it wouldn’t suffice. To exercise her natural capabilities, the Great Pyrenees needs trees that provide shade, plants to sniff, perhaps a place to dig and things to watch.

Nor would confinement in a city apartment give this animal the room or features she needs to exercise her instincts.

A Place for Farm Animals

Pigs are at least as complex an animal as dogs, studies show.

Ideally they would live in open fields of many acres with other pigs. Instead, many are kept in the cement and iron confinement of industrial agriculture, in stalls the size of their physical body.

The vast majority of commercial chickens, too, lack the space in which to live natural lives. For their entire useful life, egg-laying chickens are often kept in battery cages that holds six hens in a four-square-foot space.

As the free-range movement has brought to light, it is possible to give egg-laying chickens a better life without significantly increasing cost. Chickens don’t actually require much space. Some of the chickens on my farm have total free range and yet seldom wander more than 100 yards from the barn where they are fed and go to roost at night.

But, as Washington state lawmakers recently acknowledged, chickens do need a space that meets their needs. Washington’s quietly created bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in May, effectively guarantees a chicken’s right of place.

Companion Animals

So what about your pet, you ask? Are you respecting its right of place?

It all depends on the pet.

Our family has had a number of poodles, and we’ve found that young standard poodles, being a smart and high-energy dog, will want the opportunity to run like the wind and be challenged mentally. An elderly miniature poodle, however, may be content in an apartment with daily walks.

House cats, meanwhile, are often thought to be satisfied with apartment life, as long as they have places to climb, hide, perch and scratch. But a confined habitat may actually cripple some felines’ instinct to hunt. Behavioral scientists haven’t studied cats enough to fully understand their needs.

Frankly, people don’t yet know how yet to satisfy every individual animal’s right of place. We need more information from science.

Nor is it clear, beyond the most egregious cases, when the law should intervene to ensure that pet owners are meeting their animals’ needs. This, I contend, is the next frontier of animal rights law.

People bring these animals into existence. So I believe people owe them a dignified life, a right of place on this Earth.