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Gaming History You Should Know – History of Halo 2’s I Love Bees Campaign November 28, 2020

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Hope you guys enjoyed your Thanksgiving Holiday and welcome back to today’s featured article of Gaming History You Should Know. As we head into the weekend, I wanted to bring your attention to one of the most well-known and fondly remembered pieces of gaming marketing in the history of the entire video game industry. It all started with a strange website.

In 2004, Halo 2 was gearing up for a November release. A sequel to the Xbox launch title Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 was one of the most anticipated games of all time. In fact, I remembered being blown out of my seat when I watched the game’s live demo at E3 2003. I had played the original game on the PC when it rereleased in 2003, but with no indication it’s sequel would ever see a PC release, I decided to buy the Xbox console just so I could play it when it first launched.

A few months before the game launched, a commercial for the game began to be shown at movie theaters across the US. While this would be considered no big deal nowadays, it was a huge deal at the time. When the video was finally put online, viewers worldwide noticed something weird in its last second. A strange site, ilovebees dot com, was superimposed over the official Xbox website for about a second at the end of the video. People who visited the site found a odd blog about beekeeping which looked like its HTML code was badly in need of maintenance.

What was the ilovebees site? It was actually a new type of game, dubbed the ARG, for Alternate Reality Game. But what was the game’s purpose and how did it tie into Halo 2’s marketing campaign? YouTube Channel Rocket Sloth is a Halo archivist and historian. A lot of his videos have either proven, debunked or exclusively solved some of the biggest mysteries in the history of the Halo franchise. Today, we’re going to be highlighting his incredible documentary on Halo 2’s I Love Bees event. Bees, my god.

Halo 2 is out now for the Xbox and PC. It is part of Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Series X/S.

Gaming History You Should Know – The McDonalds DS Training Cartridge November 27, 2020

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the biggest independently produced content about the history of gaming. I told you guys that our article on Wednesday would not be the only burger-themed article we would be talking about this holiday weekend, and today’s featured article should not disappoint.

Everyone should be familiar with the fast-food restaurant McDonalds. Love it or hate it, it is one of the biggest companies worldwide, with billions of dollars in sales from burgers, fries, sodas and chicken. I’m sure everyone reading this article has eaten food from them at least once, or at least fondly remembers the fact they offered free Nintendo Zone WiFi service for Nintendo 3DS units at around the same time they improved their coffee. After I got my very first Nintendo 3DS XL, I remember actually making many trips there to download the latest exclusive Nintendo content, and swap StreetPass data with the location’s previous users. It was a great time to be a Nintendo handheld gamer.

McDonalds employs thousands of people, and as such has to create new ways to keep employees refreshed on working procedures. But what is the best way to train employees in today’s day and age? Most companies use textbooks and training videos, McDonalds Japan decided to create a video game. The platform? The Nintendo DS, the biggest selling handheld console of all time. The method? An exclusive McDonalds training cart that was distributed to a very select group of employees.

Many people believe this exclusive DS game did not exist, despite the fact a major news organization did a piece about it. However, given the recent dissolution of the Nintendo DS platform, many believed if a training cart ever existed the copies would’ve likely been lost or destroyed by now. Now is the time for me to introduce our hero.

Nick Robinson created an incredible documentary that is being talked about non stop all over the internet. It details his search for the elusive McDonalds Japan training cartridge. This is no easy feat, due to the global pandemic, international travel, as well as importing/exporting international goods, have almost entirely ceased. Join him as he tries to obtain this elusive game and his quest to unlock the game’s data. I believe this video is so well made it is worth being shown as an episode of NOVA on PBS.

Next time, we will be highlighting another special marketing event. You could say, this was Microsoft’s first attempt at something on the scale of Quantum Burger. The only difference is, MANY people fondly remember this event, and there is a feature-length documentary about it. We will talk about that tomorrow.

Gaming History You Should Know – The History of Pikachu in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade November 26, 2020

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know! I know I promised you guys a burger themed history video yesterday, but I happened to find this incredible video earlier today and had to share it with you all.

The Pokémon franchise has endured for nearly twenty-five years. It has had ups and downs over the years but is currently seeing a second Renaissance of popularity thanks to the incredible success of games like Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield. You already know its most popular mascot, the adorable Pokémon Pikachu, has appeared in spin-off games, toys of all sorts, and even feature films but did you know Pikachu has appeared in homes every Thanksgiving for the past twenty years?

Department store Macy’s is one of the biggest retail conglomerates in the United States, and for as long as I can remember, they’ve held a yearly parade every Thanksgiving Day featuring floats, balloons, and musical performances by Broadway cast and marching bands from all over the country. Many of these balloons and floats feature the biggest franchises of the time, and as of today the biggest franchise of the past twenty years, Pokémon and its mascot Pikachu, has made an appearance at the parade every year for the past twenty years.

Today, we will be featuring YouTube Channel PatMac, which did a fantastic history video on the history of Pikachu’s appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I can’t imagine a better video to watch in anticipation for Turkey dinner than this.

As someone who has been watching the Thanksgiving Parade this morning I can assure you Pikachu was in attendance, marking his twentieth year of appearance. I can’t find video of the appearance online just yet, but from the looks of it, his Thanksgiving reveal just may be the kick off of Pokémon’s 25th anniversary celebration! Stay tuned here if more details are coming!

Pokémon games are available on many platforms including the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, DS, 3DS, Switch and smart devices.

Gaming History You Should Know – Quantum Break’s Quantum Burger Event November 25, 2020

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Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the greatest independently produced documentaries about the history of gaming. I know it isn’t Sunday, but my fellow countrymen will be enjoying a feast during a national holiday tomorrow and we decided to spend this extended weekend that otherwise wouldn’t see too much gaming news spreading the word about gaming history.

Today, we will be doing something a little different. The event we will be discussing was in fact so little known, up until this time no documentaries have been produced about it. That means I’ll be talking about it myself, which would be a lot easier if I had actually attended and participated in it myself…but I didn’t, despite the fact I wish I had. With that all out of the way, let’s get started. No pressure, right?

Quantum Break was the first video game announced for the Xbox One. It was not a launch title, in fact I don’t believe it was released until about three years after the console came out, but it was a big reason why I picked up the Xbox One console at launch. Developed by Remedy and published by Microsoft, Quantum Break was a third-person action game which had an in-depth story sprinkled with a four-episode television show.

As Quantum Break prepared to launch in early-2016, Microsoft planned their major marketing push. In the US, we got a live-action trailer that occasionally aired on television (of a scene that doesn’t take place in the game). As far as I know, that is pretty much all we got. However, North of the border, in the land of Canada, Microsoft Canada started a major marketing push.

Microsoft Canada’s plan was to bring a piece of the game into the real world. A burger venue in Toronto would be used as a facade, and people who stepped inside of it would literally step inside the world of Quantum Break. The venue was called Quantum Burger, and from afar to the unknowing eye it probably looked like a regular burger joint. However, we gamers knew better. The venue would appear to be trapped in a stutter of time, what the game referred to as a “Zero State” event, and from the way the venue was arranged it appeared the stutter took place during a robbery. Links to websites and even Xbox Live codes were strewn all over the location, rewarding people for checking it out in person.

Unfortunately, an independent documentary about the event was never produced. Maybe it’s too early for something like that to happen, very few people talk about the greatness that is Quantum Break on Xbox One and even most die hard fans of the game I’ve talked to are completely unaware this event ever happened. CG Magazine did a fantastic write up about the event and you can read it here. As far as I know, only two independently produced videos which photographed the venue actually exist, and neither one of them has drawn a lot of traffic up to this point. The first was done by CG Magazine and I recommend checking it out first.

The second appears to have been done by a fan who visited the location, Keotaro. It is without a doubt my favorite video of the event, the music used fits the clips really well, and the editing was interesting. If there’s just one video you would watch of this whole event, this is the one you would watch.

Unfortunately, since the event was held in real life in only one location, in a country I didn’t even live in, I was unable to visit the venue myself or participate in the event personally. To their credit, Xbox Canada did their own official post-event video, and you can watch it here.

Ironically enough, this is not the only burger themed history article I could write about. Stay tuned for tomorrow when we bring even more gaming history you should know! Until then, stay safe.

Quantum Break is out now for the Xbox One and PC.

Gaming History You Should Know – History of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire November 1, 2020

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Welcome back, happy Sunday everyone! With Halloween now a distant memory we prepare to move into the winter holidays, which always hold a soft spot in the hearts of gamers. Let’s be honest, the vast majority of game consoles launch in this season, alongside a huge library of new games to take advantage of the new platform’s features.

Let me take you back to the mid-90s. The Star Wars prequels were still years away, but the original films had just re-released on VHS with THX remaster and a new generation of young people (myself among them) were watching them for the first time ever on their home televisions. At the same time George Lucas’s video game company, LucasArts, was in its heyday, producing some of the greatest PC games of all time including Dark Forces, X-Wing, and TIE Fighter.

In the mid-90s fans wanted to read more Star Wars stories, and books that were released as part of the Expanded Universe were selling very well. At the same time, Nintendo was planning to release the Nintendo 64, and Lucasarts was asked to have a brand-new game for the console ready for Christmas! With the first prequel film still a few years away, the various Lucasfilm companies decided to to all-in on an entirely new original expanded story in the Star Wars universe taking place between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It would be told across several books, a graphic novel, and a video game. There would even be toys released featuring the new original characters created for the story. It would be called…Shadows of the Empire. If you were a fan of Star Wars, this is likely the best time for you to be a fan.

So welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the biggest independently produced gaming documentaries across the web. Today, we are once again highlighting the great work of YouTube channel Saintmillion. He produced a nearly feature-length documentary about the entire Shadows of the Empire event, how it came to be, what took place during the story, and how it effected the entire Star Wars canon. Enjoy!

It’s really sad to know that after the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, events from Shadows of the Empire are no longer acknowledged.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire is out now for PC and Nintendo 64.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Early History of Virtual Reality October 12, 2020

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I know it’s not Sunday, but where I’m from today is a bank holiday and because of that we’ve had essentially a three-day weekend. I know that’s not the best excuse but hey, I didn’t want to have to wait another week to highlight this great video.

Welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, an ongoing series where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming documentaries from across the web. Today, we’ll be talking about Virtual Reality (VR). In today’s day, VR is seeing something of a second renaissance. VR setups like Oculus, Vive and PlayStation VR have a modest install base and even I have to admit I’m becoming an enthusiast.

However, with the power of modern PCs (and consoles) capable of pushing high 3D resolutions, and refresh rates, today’s VR gamers can look forward to a decent immersive experience. However VR is not a new concept and it’s first wave of popularity came in the early-to-mid 90s. 3D games like DOOM were just entering the market, pushing the demand for high-end PCs, and smart businessmen had the idea to provide a gaming experience that made you feel like you were INSIDE the game. Enter Virtuality.

In the early 90s, Virtuality developed (at the time) real-time 3D games with the intention to pair it with Virtual Reality setups. However, due to the cost of computer hardware and limitations at the time, their setups were big, expensive, and graphics were limited to keep consistent framerate. With a single VR unit costing around (at the time) $20,000, home VR setups were just impractical. However, arcades of the day were seeing a second wave of popularity thanks to recent arcade releases like Mortal Kombat, and investing in something like a VR machine and renting time on it seemed like a no brainer decision. This is how I had my first VR experiences.

Check out this great documentary produced by the YouTube channel Nostalgia Nerd. When people of my generation think of Virtual Reality (with all its highs and lows) they think of one of these Virtuality setups!

While the company may have long since folded, sold and resold many times over the years that’s not to say that Virtuality’s VR prospects were a complete failure. While they didn’t have access to the same technology we do today, it is incredible to see just what they could do back then. Since the company couldn’t use the same tiny motion tracking gyroscopes that are so common to have in every smartphone, controller and tablet today (since they weren’t invented yet) the tricks they used to compensate for their limitations should still be celebrated. They were able to produce VR games with full real-time head tracking in the days before even Quake hit the market.

I like to think VR will continue to prosper in today’s technology market. VR headsets for the PC and PlayStation are already out, and they will continue to function on newer hardware. So with the hardware in place, all we need now is the software. That, would be an article for another time.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Beginnings of Game Freak September 27, 2020

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It’s Sunday, and while we haven’t had the chance to post a new Gaming History You Should Know in a few weeks, it wasn’t due to a lack of great content being available, it was more because Sundays became really busy for me as of late. If you’re new here, this series highlights some of the best independently produced original gaming documentaries from across the web.

As we’ve previously reported, the Pokémon franchise is a multimedia powerhouse, but the company who originally created the game that brought it to the world came from very humble beginnings.

YouTube Legend Tamashi, known for her reviews of the Pokémon games, created this incredible television-length documentary about the history of the company who would go on to create Pokémon, Game Freak. She’ll tell you about where the company came from, and do a review of their very first game for the Famicom, err, Nintendo Entertainment System.

Tamashi has really outdone herself with this one. I totally recommend checking out her YouTube channel, because she does some great game reviews.

My History With Dot Hack – Dot Hack Tribute Day August 6, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Dot Hack Tribute Day, Editorials, Uncategorized.
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Nearly two decades ago, before my home had access to G4TV, I would watch the digital cable network over at my cousin’s house whenever he needed me to fix his computer. They were lucky enough to have a house geographically located in a spot that received regular utility service upgrades, and because of that their cable provider was able to offer them digital cable and high speed internet half a decade before they offered it in my area only a twenty minute drive away. In 2003, if you were a gamer, G4TV was absolutely incredible. They even had gamer-focused channel bumpers which showed commercials for new and upcoming games. That’s where I first learned about .hack//.

I know that’s just a silly bumper but it was the best I could recover, but I thought it would be fair to show you how devoted G4 was with gaming back then. My first actual experience with the franchise came when I witnessed a review of the third game in the series, .hack//Quarantine for the PS2. Sadly it has been impossible to find that original review online, but after learning about the game I wanted to learn more.

.hack// (pronounced Dot Hack) was a truly transmedia property made up of video games and animated series. It presented the question of just what it would be like to be trapped inside a VR MMORPG everyone in the world played. Massively Multiplayer Games (MMOs) had taken off in the second half of the 90s and by the early 2000s they were poised to revolutionize how games were played (this would eventually come to fulfillment in 2004 with the release of World of Warcraft). It’s cyberpunk theme, grounded futuristic setting, and honest comprehension of the gamer lifestyle was really up my alley. The only problem was I didn’t own a PS2, and could not afford to play the original games. However playing the games weren’t my only option to getting into the world of .hack//, there was another.

Do you remember when I said that .hack// was a transmedia property, with not just games but animated series to go along with it? At the same time G4 was in its heyday, another US station, Cartoon Network, was airing Japanese-created content in a now-legendary programming block known as Toonami. .hack//SIGN was the first animated series produced for the franchise, and its story tied directly into the events of the original PS2 games. To a kid like me, this was a next level of technological integration. Heck, Toonami would even review the games themselves during channel bumpers.

This was a great time for the franchise and for lovers of games and anime, and unfortunately I missed out on nearly all of it. By the time I finally got my own PS2, it was impossible to find copies of any of the original episodic games on store shelves. Online marketplaces willing to resell used copies demanded high prices (something that continues to this day). In fact the final game in the original series, .hack//Quarantine, is one of the rarest and most highly sought after used game in the entire PS2 library. By the mid-2000s, I had fallen out of following the franchise, however the franchise continued to receive fresh new content throughout the world.

A second episodic game series was primed to come for the PS2 in the second half of the 2000s, .hack//G.U. Three games would get released for that series, and its players (who had played the original games) would unlock some extra in-story nods. On the transmedia front, an exclusive prequel series, .hack//ROOTS, was released to tie into G.U., but it wasn’t very well received by critics or fans. The G.U. games, on the other hand, were better recieved by critics and fans than the original .hack// titles.

The era following the release of the G.U. games was a dark period for fans outside of Japan. .hack//LINK for the PSP was never released in North America, nor was the PS3 .hack// fighting game (which came bundled with a CGI-film was was also never released in North America). Manga was seeing fewer English-language releases due to ongoing issues with the American publisher (Red Bard, who we featured earlier today, had a whole video on it). By the 2010s, it seemed that the West would no longer be seeing anything in the .hack// franchise. At this point I had tuned my attention elsewhere, and it seemed I would be parting with the franchise.

At the end of 2017, something I never would’ve imagined happening…happened. BandaiNamco officially announced they were porting all three of the .hack// G.U. games to the PC and PS4 with a whole bunch of new content.

This was the best news I had heard in a very long time. With this HD re-release I would finally get the chance to play some of the .hack// games myself on a platform I actually owned. While I quickly learned they were not porting the original four games, I still appreciated BandaiNamco’s effort and bought a copy with the hope this meant we would be seeing more from the franchise down the roads. The games ran great, kept their original visual aesthetic and had new features. It was everything that should be expected in an HD Remaster of a game.

Once I had the PS4 game, I quickly realized just how out of date my .hack// knowledge was. I had missed out on not just the original four games but multiple animated series and several books. Thankfully, FUNIMATION had re-released all of the shows produced for North America in DVD boxed sets and I spent a pleasant month tracking down copies of everything I could.

My search was a success, but once it ended, nothing further has been published in the West from the world of .hack//…or has it? I discovered an entire community of gaming enthusiasts, anime fans, otakus and lovers of Japanese culture were out there and they all had a lot they wanted to say about .hack//. That community is part of the reason why I decided to devote this entire day to the franchise. I want to give props to YouTube Channel ModalBeat, who’s in-depth discussion of the first games was instrumental for my understanding G.U.’s background. Since I had previously devoted an entire Sunday to his video series in my Gaming History You Should Know articles, his videos are not going to be featured today but if you haven’t checked out his work you totally should.

Sadly, there hasn’t been much news coming out of BandaiNamco since .hack//G.U. HD was released. At the very least I’ve been hoping they would port the earliest games, or localize a title that had never come to the West, but nothing new has been announced. That’s part of the reason why I’ve devoted this day in tribute to the franchise, because I believe the publisher needs to know how much we love this franchise and want to see it return…again.

If you’re interested in watching anything that is currently available in the US, you have just a few options. .hack//G.U. HD Remaster, which includes HD ports of all three G.U. games as well as a fourth bonus episode, is currently out on the PS4 and PC (through Steam).

The Birth of Modern Isekai – Dot Hack Tribute Day August 6, 2020

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Welcome back to our .hack// Tribute Day, where we’re highlighting some of the best fan produced .hack// content from across the web (and including some of our own original content) to spread the love of this franchise around the Internet.

I have to admit, I’m not much of an Otaku. I have Otaku friends who have shared their love of various shows and films with me over the years, but I am totally out of my scope when it comes to discussing anime on its own merits, or comparing it to other anime. That is where Glass Reflection comes in

Glass Reflection is an anime-focused YouTube Channel that dissects and reviews various anime, and provides background and analysis. They’re a fantastic resource I recommend checking out. You see, .hack// was the start of something that’s practically become an entire sub-genre in today’s manga/anime landscape, Isekai. Nowadays, tons of anime transplant their protagonist inside of a world other than our own, but back when the original .hack// was released, that wasn’t the case. Give a watch to this video which should explain everything a lot better than I can.

Hope you’re still enjoying our .hack// tribute day. We have a bunch of more creators to highlight today as well as one personal story to go, so stay tuned!

BringBackTheWorld – Dot Hack Tribute Day August 6, 2020

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Welcome back to .hack// Tribute Day, where we’re highlighting the internet’s love of a unique Japanese franchise. Apparently, I’m not the only person on the internet who misses the .hack// games and wishes there would be more news coming out of this once very popular franchise.

YouTube Channel Pixcelation, who clearly holds a soft spot for the .hack// games, tried to start a hashtag movement a few years ago to draw up support for the franchise and produced this video to support it. Take a look.

If you’d like to check out more .hack// content produced by Pixcelation, I recommend their deep dive into the franchise’s disappearance and why they believe we haven’t heard more from the franchise recently. I honestly believe #BringBackTheWorld is a worthy tag that needs to make a comeback. Here’s to hoping the online community takes it and runs with it once again.