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Gaming History You Should Know – Pokemon Event Cartridges May 14, 2018

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Welcome back to another episode of Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature some of the best fan created content focused on the history of gaming.

Since the first Pokémon games were released, The Pokémon Company has always included exclusive mythical Pokémon that players wouldn’t be able to capture through normal means.  In the first Pokémon games, Mew became the most sought after trade, and the only place to get one was at a Toys ‘R Us Store during a limited-time event. It was a huge success. In fact, Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajeri would say Mew was probably the reason the Pokémon franchise took off.

In the years before the wider adoption of internet access, keeping up with when and if your local store would host such an event came down to pure luck. When the second generation of Pokémon games were released on the Game Boy Color, the mythical Pokémon Celebi players who weren’t lucky enough to live in Japan with a cell phone sought out Celebi by going to a similar limited distribution event, but it has been difficult for me to recover information about its US distribution.

Over the years, there have been plenty more ways for The Pokémon Company to release special Mythical Pokémon. As technology improved, new methods were developed to get them in the hand of players. YouTube Channel Pikasprey Yellow produced a fantastic video where he showed how these Pokémon were distributed over the years. Give it a watch!

I want to give another shout out to Pikasprey Yellow, his series Lost Content was an incredible resource in my research into Pokémon’s past.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Pokewalker March 4, 2018

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Welcome to Gaming History You Should Know, where we typically highlight some of the best gaming history videos from across the internet. Nintendo has frequently been known as the ultimate gaming innovator. They take risks on gaming technology with the hopes of bringing in new players. A lot of times, this is a huge success for them.

Before going all-in on a new risk, Nintendo has been known to experiment with new kinds of gaming peripherals, particularly with their handheld platforms. Pokémon were the highest selling games on each Game Boy platform, so Nintendo experimented with wireless multiplayer by including a wireless multiplayer adapter with the Generation 1 remakes, enabling players to battle and trade with each other without a wired link cable. This must have been a successful test because when the Nintendo DS was released, local wireless multiplayer was a built-in feature.

One of the highest-risk Nintendo experiments Pokémon fans will remember would be the exclusive peripheral Nintendo included with every new copy of the Generation 2 remakes Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver, the Pokewalker. Here’s the trailer:

On paper, the Pokewalker was a great idea. It used similar technology to what was found in the Tamogachi toy which was popular in the mid-90s, but it did more with the technology that made the Tamogachi great. They were small and featured technology that wasn’t as fast or graphically capable as larger systems, but that made them cheap to mass produce and super portable.

The YouTube Channel YellowSuperNintendo focuses on game consoles and anime style games. Recently, they produced what I consider to be the best video currently on the entire internet about the Pokewalker. If you’ve ever wondered what the Pokewalker was and what it could do, I’ll let his video explain it to you.

However, while the Pokewalker had a lot of good, there were a few issues with it. On top of the issues YellowSuperNintendo mentioned, it wasn’t water resistant. Absent minded trainers could easily forget they had it in their pocket or clipped to their shirt. It certainly wouldn’t survive a run through a washing machine.

Sadly, the Pokewalker appears to have been just an experiment, as Nintendo would go on to release future generations of Pokémon games with no further support of the Pokewalker. Slowly, Pokémon Trainers stopped taking them everywhere they went, choosing instead to take their full-sized Nintendo DS out on the go. By the time Pokémon Black and Pokémon White were released, the Pokewalker became obsolete.

While newer Pokémon games do not support the Pokewalker, its legacy continues to live on. The Nintendo 3DS has the ability to wirelessly communicate with other 3DS units while in standby mode. This enables players to exchange Mii data for use in StreetPass games. The 3DS also has an internal step counter, and also like the Pokewalker, owners can play minigames on their 3DS system using the steps they took each day as in-game currency.

While the Pokewalker is now only a memory, there’s an all-new accessory designed for a new generation of Pokémon Trainers. Pokémon Go Plus is a Bluetooth accessory designed to interact with Smartphones playing Pokémon Go. While it lacks a screen and the ability to communicate with other owners of the accessory, it enhances the functionality of Pokémon Go and adds a new level of fun to the game.

What do you all think of the Pokewalker? Do you think it was an unnecessary gimmick, an essential stepping stone in gaming history, or just a fun bonus? If you have one, do you still use yours? Post a comment below with your thoughts! Special thanks to YellowSuperNintendo for making such great content and for giving us permission to feature him on the site. You can check out his videos here.

Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver are exclusive to the Nintendo DS. Pokémon Go is out now for Android and iOS Smartphones.

Gaming History You Should Know – Pokemon Live February 18, 2018

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It’s Sunday, and that heralds the return of Gaming History You Should Know, where we look at some of the best content from across the web about gaming industry. Even in today’s world of video games, HDTVs and IMAX movies, there’s always room for the live stage. Heck, many of the greatest stories ever told started as stage productions made for a live audience. With high end stage productions so expensive, Broadway is now taking safe bets. Today’s Broadway lineup is filled with adaptations of recognizable properties from film, television and comic books.

Did you know that back in the early 2000s, there was one live stage production so ahead of its time, no company has dared do something similar to it since? It was an adaptation of the most successful gaming franchise in history, Pokémon Live.

Whether you’re a Pokémon fan or just a fan of theatrical productions, doesn’t this look awesome? Pokémon Live was a live-action musical stage show which launched during the peak of Pokémon’s popularity. The show was written by the same team members responsible for the English dub of Pokémon: The Animated Series, and featured an entirely original non-canon story based on the characters from the animated show.

I actually remember hearing about Pokémon Live, back when it first launched. I was watching Pokémon: The Animated Series daily at the time, and I would have loved to check out the show back in the day. Unfortunately, like with everything popular and important, no production of the show ever came anywhere close to where I lived, and I could never afford to go and see it. To make things worse, Pokémon Live didn’t last very long on stage. Pokémon Fever died down shortly before the release of Pokémon Crystal, and interest in the show must not have been able to sustain its production costs, closing the opportunity for me to ever witness it.

So while the show was no longer in production, was any footage of the show recorded on video? Enter the incredible YouTube video producer, Chadtronic. His channel describes him as “a pillow throwing manchild stuck in the ’90s [who] makes a variety of comedic videos.” I first heard about him when I was doing some research on Pokémon toy collecting, because he did a great video about Burger King’s original Pokémon Kid’s Meal toys. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they were a huge promotion during the height of Pokémon‘s popularity and you can watch it right here.

It’s clear to me that Chadtronic is a Pokémon fan, as he’s done plenty of more original videos about the franchise over the years. However, one video he did that should be considered his crowning jewel is his video about Pokémon Live, particularly his search for high-quality video footage of the live show.

After Chadtronic published his video about Pokémon Live, the internet set to action. One of those people from the internet, known as The Gamer From Mars, has been a great resource when it comes to finding lost material. While he hasn’t found that Disney Channel movie I talked about a few years ago, he first came under my radar when he made a video about the Nickelodeon made for TV movie, Cry Baby Lane. a film that most people believed was actually a myth… until it turned out it was real. The Gamer From Mars did a video of his own about the lost Pokémon Live production tapes. Some of his video covers the same information Chadtronic found, but some new information about the production surfaced since Chadtronic published his video, and it was included. I highly recommend giving it a watch.

So after all that anticipation, you want to see Pokémon Live for yourself, don’t you? Well here it is courtesy of its production stage manager, Chris Mitchell.

Unfortunately, this low-quality video is the best complete footage that currently exists of Pokémon Live. While I appreciate Chris uploaded what he recorded online, the public has never been able to get their hands on a higher quality video recording of the show. What a shame.

Some day we may see an official professionally recorded release of the original Pokémon Live stage show. Until then, you can read the actual script for the stage show right here (hosted with permission of the writer). The musical notes for the live show’s original songs are not included in the script but you might be able to listen to the show’s soundtrack with a simple Google search.

Here’s my question, with the entire script and a high quality recorded soundtrack now available to the world, is there a chance someone might try to resurrect Pokémon Live for a new generation? I guess we will just have to wait and see. I hope you all enjoyed this look into Gaming History You Should Know, post a comment below with your thoughts on the future of Pokémon Live!

Gaming History You Should Know – The GameCube/Game Boy Advance Link Cable February 11, 2018

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Welcome back to a new edition of Gaming History You Should Know, an ongoing series where we take a look back at some of the best stories in gaming history, as chronicled by some of the best people across the Internet. Today, we will be taking a closer look at the Nintendo GameCube, the first gaming console I owned since the original NES. Nintendo’s GameCube may have come in last place when stacked up against the PS2 and Xbox console generation but Nintendo took some risks with it and it had some great games. One of the risks it took was in the form of a custom cable. While the GameCube may have been in last place, at the same time Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance was running nearly unopposed in the handheld market.

The Game Boy handhelds, with the help of a custom cable could allow for data transfer between two units. Eventually, someone at Nintendo realized they could use the Game Boy Advance’s data port to send data to and from a Nintendo GameCube, and they released a new cable to take advantage of that capability. Eventually, Nintendo released some incredible games to take advantage of GameCube to Game Boy Advance connectivity. Games like Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, Metroid Prime, and The Legend of Zelda: Four Sword Adventures are still discussed to this day. But how exactly did this technology work, and what were its limitations?

Enter Derek Alexander, formerly known as The Happy Video Game Nerd and now known as the host of Stop Skeletons from Fighting, produced this incredible documentary on the cable. If you ever wanted to know how the cable worked, what it could do, and how various GameCube games supported it, give this a watch.

Gaming History You Should Know – The NES Loading Seam October 15, 2017

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If you’re like me, you grew up playing the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and it’s incredible library of games.  My favorite game to play on that system was Super Mario Bros 3, a phenomenal side scroller with easy to learn controls and challenging levels.

However, if you play Super Mario Bros 3 on a modern TV, you may notice a weird glitched frame on the side of the screen. The first time I saw it I was concerned my tv or my game console was broken, but I quickly learned it was actually an integral part of the game, and eventually I learned to ignore it.

I’m sure many of you are curious what this seam is, and why it appears in a game like SMB3. Well, the great guys over at Retro Game Mechanics Explained did a great video about the phenomenon, and explain in great detail what this seam is and why it is appears in so many NES games.

Gaming History You Should Know – POLYBUS October 1, 2017

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We are back with another Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight and feature some of the best content on the web detailing the history of gaming.

A few years ago, information about a previously unknown arcade game from the 80s called POLYBUS surfaced.  It has since become an urban legend, as stories spread about the game’s possible side effects. Many claimed the game induced everything from seizures and depression to death.

However, despite the game’s infamy, nobody has been able to conclusively probe the game actually existed. To this day no one has been able to find a prototype cabinet or game ROM, although a few fan versions of the game have been published over the years.

Stewart Brown over at the YouTube Channel AHOY did a fantastic documentary about the history of this game and the impact it has had on gaming culture. In fact, it’s so well done, I believe it is on par with any documentary that’s been recently produced by a modern television network.  Is POLYBUS real?  Watch and find out.

So what are your thoughts on POLYBUS?  Post a comment below with what you think about it.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Making of Superman 64 September 24, 2017

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It’s Sunday!  Welcome back to an all new Gaming History You Should Know, where we feature some of the best content from across the internet focused on the history of gaming and we’ve got a great one for you today!

Everyone knows the story of Superman.  Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, Superman is the story of the ultimate hero. An alien immigrant from a destroyed homeworld who grows up on Earth with traditional American ideals. After he becomes an adult, he uses his unique physicality to help him perform heroic acts and strives to set an example all his own.

However, Superman’s enormous strength can ironically be his greatest weakness from a storytelling perspective.  He is inhumanly strong, has the ability to fly, invulnerablity, super speed, heat vision, and breath as strong as a hurricane.  He’s just too powerful, and playing as him in a video game could be boring to a player. Back in the day, a company called Titus were huge fans of the KidsWB show Superman: The Animated Series, and obtained the license to produce a Superman game in that style for the Nintendo 64. It would go down in history as one of the worst games ever made.

How could a game with so much promise be such a disappointment?  Was it a problem at Titus or were other factors at fault?  The YouTube Channel Wrestling with Gaming took a long, deep look at the development of the game.  He did his research on this one, digging deep into old interviews with the principle developers. It’s well edited, well written, and really worth a watch!

Hope you all enjoyed the video as much as I did!  I would like to give an extra special thanks to Yahel over at Wrestling with Gaming for letting me feature them!  If you haven’t checked out their YouTube channel, you totally should. Their documentary on the history of the Phillips CD-i is also great!

Gaming History You Should Know – The Sony PocketStation September 3, 2017

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When the Nintendo Switch was first released, it only offered its players an internal storage solution for their games and save files.  Nintendo it seemed had no way to offer their customers the chance to bring their save files onto another Switch console.  Many people recommended to Nintendo they should expand the Switch’s operating system to allow players to copy their save files onto SD cards.  This concept of being able to copy your game files onto external memory for the purpose of using them on another console is being called revolutionary. 

I don’t currently own a Nintendo Switch so I can’t comment if this functionality has been added at the time this editorial was published, but if Nintendo does implement it, they will only be continuing with a long standing tradition in console functionality.  Would you be surprised if I told you that Sony had offered the ability for their players to save all their game data to a proprietary memory device which would work on every PlayStation console?  You aren’t?  Well, what if I told you Sony later enhanced those memory cards to offer more than just game storage, but they could serve as a rudimentary interactive digital device. I’m talking of course about the Sony PocketStation.

When it comes to gaming, storage is a problem, and when console games started shipping out on read-only optical media, storage became a big problem.  Before the days of internal hard drives and cloud syncing your save files, users would need to buy proprietary memory cards for game data storage.  In more recent years, most consumers have decided upon a specific standard of external memory storage, the SD Card, and newer mobile devices have been engineered to support that format. However in the 90s, if you wanted to keep a record of your game you needed to buy a proprietary memory card.

As the PS1 started to begin its decline in anticipation for the impending release of the the PS2, Sony did a little experiment. Devices like the Tamagotchi had a major success in the mid to late 90s.  A Tamagotchi was a small digital device that fit in your pocket featured a black and white screen and several interface buttons.  The objective of the game was to use them to keep and maintain a digital pet. They were pretty primitive by today’s standards but at the time they were cheap to manufacture and companies like Sony took notice about their success and capabilities.  In the late 90s Sony released a device called the PocketStation in Japan.

The display tech for the PocketStation was similar to a 90s era Tamagotchi or more recently a Pokéwalker. It could save your PS1 game data like a Memory Card, but when you weren’t using it as a memory device, it also functioned as a personal digital assistant capable of playing exclusive minigames. It didn’t need a PS1 to function, but you would need a PS1 and a compatible game to load and save minigames on it.

Without further ado, I’ll let the great guys over at CGR Undertow show off their unit!

The PocketStation was revolutionary for its time but it was too successful in Japan. Sony couldn’t meet their nation’s heavy demand for it post release and because of that they never had enough of a supply to release it in the US, even though US games like Final Fantasy VIII supported it.  Nothing like it was ever made for the PlayStation 2.  While the PocketStation had only a brief release period, it was clear that the concept behind it had a future as Sega created a similar device, the VMU, to be the standard Memory Card for the Dreamcast.

While the PS1 and the Pocketstation have long since been eclipsed by newer technologies, its legacy endures to this day. I have heard that the US Steam version of Final Fantasy VIII includes the PocketStation’s extended capabilities as a bonus feature.  I would seriously like to see these additions included if Sony ever decides to bring FFVIII to the PS4. I’ve also seen Japanese trailers for PS1 games on Vita promise that the Vita will offer full PocketStation support for legacy games.

Hope you enjoyed this look to the past to see just how far into the future we’ve really come. Don’t forget to take a look at Classicgameroom.com for more great classic PC and console game reviews.

Gaming History You Should Know – The Super Mario Adventures Comic Series July 30, 2017

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Apologies for not resuming our regular schedule of Gaming History You Should Know since we returned from E3 2017, but I’m happy to announce we have started a backlog of new articles to get released every Sunday for the next month!  So with that housekeeping out of the way, what do you say we take a look at today’s feature?

Back in the early 90s, Nintendo ruled the gaming world with an iron fist and almost everyone my age had a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The console’s mascot, a red overall-wearing plumber named Mario, became an international legend, but most attempts to put Mario into mediums outside of his games have been met with disappointment. Well, except for one, the Super Mario Adventures Comic.

Super Mario Adventures was a comic series printed in the pages of Nintendo Power Magazine.  It was written as a serial, continuing the story with a new part each month.  However, unlike Mario’s outrageous film adaptation, the Super Mario comic was written by a great group of people who not only loved the source material, they truly understood the characters they were writing.

I only read a few issues of Nintendo Power back in the very early 90s, and I’m sad to say I wasn’t familiar with the Super Mario Adventures comic series until a man named Doug Walker, the host of the Nostalgia Critic on Channel Awesome, did a fantastic video review of it. Without further ado, I’ll let him tell you all about it!

If you would like to take a closer look at the comic, the guys over at the YouTube Channel Tatoo Pedigree posted it online with a full voice over. The actors they chose to perform each part were perfectly cast and if you’ve read the original comic or not, I can’t recommend it enough!

If you liked the review and the motion comic, I’m happy to say that the entire series is back in print and you could buy a collected edition from retailers like NintendoNYC for a price of about $15 US.  I hope you all enjoyed this week’s Gaming History You Should Know.  We’ve got a lot more planned for release throughout August, please stay tuned!

Gaming History You Should Know – Popular Silent Hill Fan Theories Debunked July 9, 2017

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It’s Sunday and that means it is once again time for Gaming History You Should Know, where we look at some of the best gaming history content produced on the internet. What can I say about Silent Hill that hasn’t already been said?  It’s a beloved gaming franchise published by Konami that has, after several management missteps, fallen onto hard times.  Silent Hill‘s strength has always been its themes and how it defines horror.  Just like any well-written story, Silent Hill‘s content has left itself open to interpretation, and I know that fans have created their own theories about the games over the years.  Some of those fan theories have gone on to be accepted canon by the majority of Silent Hill fans, while other fan theories rely on concepts directly contradicted by in-game dialog or the game’s developers.

Dena Natali of the YouTube Channel Cyborcat runs one of my favorite channels on that entire website. She’s a long standing fan of the Silent Hill franchise and to this date has done several in-depth reviews and analysis of nearly every game in the franchise. I know I’ve featured her reviews in the past, but her videos are just so darn good I think her channel deserves another look.

Recently, Dena produced a video about her top five Silent Hill fan theories that are wrong. These theories have been spread across the web over the past few years, and she organized them by their level of personal frustration.  Its a great video my girlfriend and I enjoyed watching together and it is clear Dena really knows the history of Silent Hill. Enjoy!

Hope you all enjoyed the video as much as I did. In fact Dena’s videos have inspired me to take a closer look at Silent Hill, and that means we could produce some of our own Silent Hill related articles or videos in the future!  Be sure to stay tuned to this website or subscribe to stay up to date with all our latest content!