05/13/2005

The NES Was Once The AVS

by Matthew Hawkins

WARNING: 56K sail away, there be many pics here.

- Last night I went to the SVA MFA Illustration and Design exhibition, mostly because of Marion, who has her thesis on display. It was quite nice, btw.

The place was packed with quite a few other fine works, as well as a ton of people. Ran into some familiars, like Dave and Raina, plus John made it out despite a really nasty ear infection. Believe it or not, I’m actually going to be there at the midnight showing Episode 3 at the Ziegfeld since John is involved with NYLine and he got us all tickets. Hey, I know the movie is gonna be atrocious but I really can’t miss out on a chance to be part of such a Star Wars geek-fest (as a former Star Wars fanatic, I’ve never actually taken part in such a thing), Plus the money goes to a good cause and all that jazz.

But anyway, I also ran into, Mu Wen, whom I met at SVA in my children’s book class, and still easily one of the finest illustrators that I have ever met. We’ve sort lost contact over the years, but that will seriously have to change. He’s a super nice guy who calls me Beat Takeshi. I call him Tony Leung. It’s an Asian thing.

- Afterwards, I went to a party thrown by Nintendo to celebrate the opening of Nintendo World, their new store in Manhattan, which is actually the old Pokemon Center with a facelift. Just think of the old store, minus all the huge (and cool) Pokemons, and a more adult, less “kiddie” feel.

To be totally honest, I really wasn’t expecting much; I knew there wasn’t going to be anything revealed, like info regarding the supposed next iteration of GBA, with built in wireless capabilities. But I was surprised by the small historical display that they had on the second floor. I was so impressed that I asked to come back the next day (today) to take some pictures, which which is where I just came from. So check’em out…

First off, here’s all the various handhelds that Nintendo’s produced.

And here are all the variants of the GBA SP up to this point (I had no idea that there’s been so many… the marble one is pretty neat).

Here’s a Game Boy that was uncovered in the middle of the first Gulf War. Its pretty messed up, but still plays Tetris!

Know what these are? Hanfada cards, and it what Nintendo starting out back in the days (my mom used to play this with her friends back home).

Here’s where it all started. I had never seen an actual Famicom before.

Now, the whole point of me taking pics in the first place: the Advance Video System, which was the prototype of the NES. It was apparently only shown once before, at the Consumer Electronic Show (which as we all know was the precursor to E3) back in 85. This is the first time according to Nintendo (and as far as I know) that its been shown publicly…

In addition to the system, there’s a slew of accessories which were to come bundled, including a keyboard.

Check out the original joypads!

Here’s a flight stick that was supposed to be included.

And the original zapper. Looks like the stun guns from Star Trek Next Generation to me.

The store offically opens tomorrow with some huge block party, but they are doing a soft open this very moment. So if you live in New York City, and you appreciate classic gaming hardware, be sure to check it out.

- Just the other day on the GAF, someone posted a thread about my recent piece on Gamasutra that went behind the scenes of Rez (and for those of you who still haven’t read it due to being too lazy to register, I guess you’re in luck). Jake ended up chiming in, and besides revealing some tidbits regarding a super secret game that was brought up in the interview, but which he asked to be withheld (hehehe), he also touched up once more the nonexistent advertising campaign for the game in the states. Jake mentioned how there was quite a few really cool train and billboard ads, and he asked me to pass them along, so here they are…

- This just in: Chibi Robo still lives! When the original developer Bandai killed the housekeeping robot simulator (which you can still read up on here), Miyamoto, who apparently really dug the character, asked if Nintendo could make a game with the character, and Bandai said yes!

Fellow GAFer and LJer JohnnyRam has all info, as well as some pics right here.

Even though it doesn’t look important friendly, I still might pick it up. Afterall, I gotta have at least one other import game than DrillLand.

- Time for videos! First up, here’s some direct clips of Senko no Ronde, the awesome shooter/fighter that might be the Dreamcast’s final hurrah (not counting the never ending flowing girlfriend simulators which are just best ignored. Simply click any of the links you see on this page.

- Plus, here’s some videos from the recent GDC, including an inside look at Katamari Damacy. Tell you the truth, I haven’t had a chance to watch the vid, but if Keita Takahashii (the director of the game) gives his entire seminar with a Katamari puppet as pictured, that guy will be my new hero.

- Back to non-video gaming stuff real quick like, what happens when you mix Marvel comics, the Transformers, and the Power Rangers? The Marvel Mega Morphs, that’s what.

I’m a diehard Transformer fan as everyone already knows, but I still have a thing for the classic Marvel super heroes, and yet I’m not totally disgusted by it. In fact, I think I sorta like it.

As for the toys themselves (which you can check out here), some are better than others, but the Captain America one is fucking hawt in my book.

- So I stumbled across a review for the Adventures of Pete & Pete DVD set that comes out next week on IGN, and it seems that someone dropped the ball. I generally trust IGN’s DVD reviews (whereas their coverage for games, which is supposed to be their bread and butter, flat out fucking sucks… more on that later) and they cite an extremely shitty transfer as the main culprit (the complaints about the artifacting especially makes it sound as if they just recorded the show right off of The N).

- But on a more positive television related note, it now seems as if Arrested Development might still be alive! In fact, there supposed to be a commitment for two seasons that close to be being finalized! Simply amazing. The word is that Fox’s new president likes the show, and thinks that it still has potential despite lackluster shows. Remember, the fact that it’s one of the funniest, best written shows is real negative these days. Plus, this is still Fox, so I refuse to get too excited, but still, this is good news.

On a related note, my coworker Steve says the new episodes of Family Guy are horrible. As Nelson from the Simpsons would say: ha ha. From what I hear, now its way over the top with jokes that are completely tasteless, and some supposedly don’t even make any sense. Well, I hate to tell folks that I told you so…

- So what’s the plan for this weekend? Tonight I’m watching the original Friday the 13th to help mark the date with my friends Rob & Michele. I’ve been invited to speak with the members of the IGDA NJ chapter about my thoughts and experiences relating to the recent retro game jam, so that’s tomorrow. I rest up the remainder of the weekend with MK by the shore (with the hope that there’s some Wawa chicken sandwiches interspersed our time there… plus I really need to get a new tv). And then on Monday, I go to Stony Brook University to once again judge the best game from the school’s game design course.

- Oh, one last thing, which I guess I should touch upon… Xbox 360. I’m offically annoyed with it.

Last night was the much hyped MTV special, which I didn’t see of course, and from what I understand, I didn’t miss much, again of course. Its been described as 30 meaningless minutes of dumb celebs, crappy mainstream music, buzzwords, and a few scant seconds of game footage. But what I did catch was a video from ourcolony.net, the final piece to the viral marketing driven puzzle that Microsoft has done a spectacular job in terms of duping people into playing. The short clip does one thing, and one thing well, and that’s completely articulate how arrogant and foolish Microsoft truly is.

The video features J Allard and various other folks on the Xbox 360 team talking about the system, how its going to cater to the player at all angles (finally, an we get an explanation of what the name of the system means), bring players closer to their games, bring them closer to other players, and yada, yada, yada. Then there’s a look at the system itself, the technology under the hood (with various technical mumbo jumbo, which they claim will open new doors for designs, but that’s not exactly the truth), how you can physically change the hood with customizable faceplates, and more yada, yada, yada. You get to meet the people behind the system and watch them talk about how fun and thrilling the new system is, while they spin around like idiots on a film stage (but look, they drive around the office hallways on segues and have gamertags, they must be cool!).

And bottom line is that Xbox 360 is all about “put the gamer in the center” and “creating new experiences” and entering “a whole new world of opportunity”. Basically, nothing but marketing bullshit. But okay, whatever, what about the games? And that’s the problem.

Personally, I’m not a “graphics whore”, but given all of MS’s talk about High Definition gaming, there’s a certain level of expectation regarding the look of their games that they themselves have created, hence why its so laughable to finally see their flagship games Dead Or Alive 4, and especially Perfect Dark Zero. To say that they appear far from next generation is putting in nicely, and the shitstorm that’s been generated is, in opinion, completely justified. Back to the GAF, this one pic I think sums everything up just nicely.

It’s especially entertaining since its at the expense of people who have shown so much blind faith in a console which no one has even touched, the same one’s who, leading up to the event were saying that Microsoft had already won the battle, and that “Sony and Nintendo shouldn’t even bother showing up to E3.” It’s totally true; video games just make people dumb.

But yes, I’m just so sick of Microsoft, of all the mindless marketing hoopla, and all the bragging and touting, without any real games behind them. (here are other games mind you, but why they choose to go with Perfect Dark Zero as their flagshit title is beyond me). Hence why the fact they more than likely won’t be supporting backwards compatibility is made especially offensive. But what to know the best part? Its not due to technical reason, but legal ones; since the chips for each system is produced by different manufactures, its conceivable that MS might need legal clearance to allow the 360 to play Xbox 1 games. And if that turns out to be the case… Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.jasonsawtelle.com Jason

    Wait a minute, the next generation doesn’t yet exist (or just barely started) so how can anyone decalre the images of any new console to be, “far from next generation” quality? Is everybody on some next-generation-graphics-standards committee that I missed out on?

    I suppose you could seek answers by comparing the rise in quality of console visuals to that of the PC game visuals in the past decade (quickly, it’s been great to see the consoles catch up so quickly, thanks to dropping hardware costs). I’d venture many would agree that major advances in technology happen rarely and subsequent advances with the said technology are not drastic. It’s the Long Tail effect.

    Finally, it’s easy to goof on Microsoft and their lapdogs who eat up the new XBOX, praising it to heaven before having played it (and we’ll soon hear from the Sony lapdogs come E3). Yet, why is it seemingly as natural to disown a new console without having played it as well?

  • dhex

    your co-worker steve is wrong. or merely has bad taste. or a skin problem. it could be any of those things, seperate or in tandem.

  • Karmakin

    The problem is that people have certain..*ahem* expectations about what a “next-gen” console should look like. And PDZ doesn’t live up to the standards. Mind you, what they did is made a great looking FPS, but used the added punch of the next-gen to vastly increase the number and intelligence of the AI. And I suspect that you’ll see this quite a bit. But as being the first to pull that punch, MS will eat the bullet for it.

  • http://blog.kimmoa.se/ KimmoA

    Prototype NES = cool.

    (Is it just me, or are those previous comments on this page completely unrelated to this article?)

  • jason

    spewing hate on family guy without haven’t seen it for yourself…classy.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    In response to the first Jason’s comments, I personally am not necessarily shocked or dismayed by the look of Dead Or Alive 4 (though I will agree that Perfect Dark Zero does look rather awful) simply because, and I’ve felt this way for the longest time, that each jump from one generation to the next will be less and less noticeable, at least taken at face value. There’s a variety of reasons for this, but there’s a certain point where you can only take things visually so far, so when I think of the next generation, I’m thinking of improvements like enhanced physics and the such.

    But the real problem is that Microsoft doesn’t seem to realize any of this this, and keeps on emphasizing HD graphics as the future of games, which is beyond asinine. The bottom line is that they’re the first to the gate, and when that happens, the graphics ends up being inferior when compared to those who follow. Hence why I had assumed that MS was smart enough to look at the past and learn from it. Another reason why I think its almost suicide to not have backwards comparability. Screw the legal hassles, they’re MS, they own most of the world. Another $3 towards each system won’t kill them.

    Then again, perhaps their plan of catering to the player at every angle is their solution for the lack for graphical prowess. But anyone who has taken the five or so minutes necessary to think about what they’ve been promising will realize that much of what they’ve talked about is logistically impossible to pull off, at least effectively, and for every single game as they’ve also promised. Though the real issue is all the crap that MS is touting is what people think they want, until they actually spend their money and realize how utterly useless, boring, and frustrating all of it is. At the end of the day, people don’t need messages in the middle of the game or stupid faceplates, they want games. Period.

    And in response to second Jason’s comments, the thing is, I really don’t like Family Guy. In fact, you could say I even hate it; I just find the whole thing rather obnoxious. I like to think of the show as that angry guy who thinks he’s really funny by practically yelling jokes at the audience loud and fast, but really isn’t. It’s perhaps the top reason why I find random, staccato humor so played out these days. Plus the fact that it sorta hand a hand in almost killing off one of the best shows on television, Arrested Development, makes me dislike the show even less.

    Am I right in criticizing the new season even though I haven’t seen it? Well, when I was really bored, I decided to download the season premiere when it got leaked on the net. Even though I wasn’t a fan, I was curious to see if the show had changed at all, and maybe even gotten better. Well just like every other episode I had seen, I got bored after five minutes, and extremely agitated after seven, causing me to trash the file as fast as I could.

    Hey, if you like the show, more power to you. Just do me a favor and don’t be like every other Family Guy diehard and be pissed if someone doesn’t like the show.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/westacular/ Westacular

    Hah, Xbox 360 annoyance and demands for Arrested Development’s renewal: have you been reading (what few entries I have in) my LJ? :P

    That PD “uh oh” pic is *so* 2004.

    I saw those pics of the Marvel/Transformer toys a few months back; my preference is for the Hulk Tank. I’m particularly entertained by how it makes it look not like the Hulk pilots it, but rather, he is simply contained within the tank which is fueled by HIS RAGE!!!.

    I’m quite entertained by the “brushed metal ’85″ look of the prototype controls. They look so consisent with the styles of that time period; like the controls in a 198x Cadillac.

    Last night’s new Family Guy and American Dad were much better. I’ve generally found Family Guy to be … entertaining enough, but too *disposable*; I’ve never considered myself a real fan of it. It’s cheap humor. It’s often good cheap humor, or cheap humor very well done, but it remains nonetheless cheap. So my official response to Family Guy’s return, both when it was announced and over the course of these new episodes, has been simply “meh.”

    (Contrast this with Futurama, which I love like it were my own child.)

    I enjoyed your Rez interview; I’ll check out the forum thread … nowish.

  • GUTS

    Arrested Development sucks and kudos to Family Guy for nearly killing it off, hopefully it finishes the job.

  • http://www.click-stick.com click

    Awesome, excellent, fantastic Rez article. Really enlightening.

    Rez is one of the last original console games I personally enjoyed, and played, to a great extent. [Now it's all arcade-style stuff...]

    So Nintendo World doesn’t actually sell anything too cool, then? Great pictures, anyway.

  • http://www.nes.emuita.it Radiano

    Sorry if I disturb you, but the AVS pictures (very interesting, however) lacks about the console: or the AVS was tape-based?!? I’ll like see the “core” of the system, not only the peripherals.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    click: Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate them. As I said before, I’m quite proud of the fact that I was able to make public so many facts and secrets behind a game that I so dearly love.

    Rez was the last game that really took ahold of me, and I recall playing the game hours at a time, for days on end (being unemployed and jobless, and therefore having a lot of free time certainly helped), and it never got boring. Hell, I still have the craving for a quick fix every once awhile, and of course, I never get tired talking about it with others, both longtime diehards and new fans alike.

    Radiano: Actually, you are correct; the actual core AVS was not present. The tape player looking thing seems to be just that, though for reading & writing game data. You can actually see more pics of the prototype, including the core unit at the bottom of this page.

  • Pingback: limshengming.com » AVS -> NES

  • http://iamserio.us brian connolly

    i have a friend who tells me i’m the only person on the internet who dislikes Family Guy. thank you for the refutation.

  • .QVAD

    omg i want to play chibi robo so bad!!

  • http://mp3.tom7.org/t7es/ Tom 7

    OMG, the AVS looks so sweet. Forget Revolution, I want one!

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