BitVision Video Synthesizer

BitVision is an audiovisual synthesis board that LZX Industries created a while back (when we weren’t posting, so this is okay!), in the tradition of Atari Video Music. If you’ve never seen Atari Video Music, here‘s a nice man showing you what it’s all about.

The BitVision is intended for live performance, and simulates the color bleed and imperfection of a primitive 8-bit image on a CRT whilst displaying a 32×32 pixel image based on a 16 color palette, which is editable using the company’s provided tools. Many modulation capabilities are provided – as the company says, there is “an analogue envelope follower and frequency counter track external audio signals and can modulate shape and color via many variable modulation routings. We wanted an audiovisualizer that could potentially provide live video for an entire musical performance, so 16 separate preset image/palette options are stored inside.

It comes in pre-assembled and kit versions, and continues on the long legacy of Atari visualizers, which has outlived the original Atari Video Music, and the Virtual Light Machine (VLM) on the Jaguar, to include Jeff Minter’s audiovisual work on the Xbox 360 (Neon). Below you can see the BitVision in action. Thanks to Jeff Fleming for the link.

Update: While the BitVision is sold out at the moment, I put in an email to creator Lars Larsen, who had this to say: “We are building a batch of Bitvisions right now for Analogue Haven, which will ship sometime in the next month or two. We are small manufacturer so sometimes it can be hard to keep things in stock.” So, simply play the waiting game, I suppose!

A super early look at the original Sonic the Hedgehog

Hey, since we’re in a birthday celebrating mood, I thought I’d dig up this neat piece of history from my stupidly large collection of old videogame magazines.

These are, as far as I know, the very first screenshots ever taken of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, from Sega’s display at the Tokyo Toy Show, June 7, 1990. The game was about two months into its fourteen-month development cycle, so there probably wasn’t very much there yet.

I scanned these from old issues of EGM (#s 13 and 16, for those playing along at home), so God only knows if EGM actually took these or if they stole them from a Japanese magazine. If anyone has a collection of Japanese mags from that era, take a look and let us know if there are any others.

The preview that accompanied these was pretty vague (“In Sonic Hedgehog, you control a super rodent on a mission to defeat the evil creatures that have populated your home.”), so I don’t know if the game was actually playable or if it was just a video feed or something. Regardless, it’s neat to see such an iconic game in such an early, embryonic state.

Happy 20th Birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog

Sonic the Hedgehog turns 20 years old today. Isn’t that great? It’s also my dad’s 61st birthday, so that’s cool, too. Like my dad, Sonic the Hedgehog’s birthday occasionally falls on Father’s Day. This makes Sonic about as much of a father to you as my father is also a father to all of you guys.

To celebrate Sonic’s birthday, I did a Kotaku. Forgive me! They offered money! The idea of the piece is that it’s “eight ways to fix Sonic the Hedgehog”, written for the target audience of a Sega who seems intent on doing the exact opposite of what people want. So I am reverse-psychologizing their reverse-psychology. It’s kind of stupid!

Though it has some fun sentences, maybe, like where I say chubbier, lighter-blue, black-eyed 1991 Sonic meeting darker-blue, longer-armed, green-eyed Sonic is “not as exciting as Superman meeting Batman — it’s more like ‘X-Men The Movie’ Wolverine meeting ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Wolverine.”

A more sincere, heartfelt “how to fix Sonic” article is perhaps this Outrun 2 review from 2008, in which I call Outrun 2 the “16th best game of all-time”, and also “the best Sonic the Hedgehog game of all-time”, and I swear I am not trying to troll or be a jerk about that. It’s something I actually believe. exclusive: In commemoration of Sonic the Hedgehog’s 20th birthday, I made a Youtube playlist (below) of some of my favorite Dreams Come True songs. The bassist of Dreams Come True, Masato Nakamura, composed the (excellent) soundtrack for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which is just a big, beautiful, boisterous, exuberant videogame full of confident graphical design. It’s probably the best actual Sonic the Hedgehog game — as far as I know, Brandon thinks so, too. (Brandon’s note: As much as I like Sonic CD and its music, I agree with this statement.)

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Star Odyssey is a new Sega Genesis RPG you can buy

Super Fighter Team, those wacky guys that make a business out of translating and selling old games for old consoles, is set to release its third (!) Sega Genesis RPG.

This one is called Star Odyssey and, unlike the last two, it is Japanese-style RPG that is actually from Japan: both Beggar Prince and Legend of Wukong came from Taiwan. For those who like overclassifying things, that makes it a JJRPG as opposed to a TJRPG.

The game was released in Japan by the publisher with one of my favorite names ever, Hot B. It was called Blue Almanac over there, which totally strikes me as one of those Japanese game titles that was chosen because it was two cool-sounding English words that don’t actually mean anything together.

Blue Almanac doesn’t seem particularly well-remembered; I can’t find any videos on Nico, and YouTube just has one music track and a super hilarious “review” from an internet superstar who says “fuck” a lot.

There was going to be an official translation done at one point, and a build of it by American publisher Sage’s Creation (an early licensee that published Hot B games in America) was found by this guy.

“Gonna release this in a few days, when I get some stuff sorted out,” he wrote on March 1, 2008, before never speaking of it again. As it turns out, Super Fighter worked out a deal with him to acquire the ROM and officially license the game through its rights holder. Apparently that official English version wasn’t fit to release, though, with Super Fighter’s hired programmer saying that “the entire script was nothing but Engrish trash.”

“The game crashed after several hours; there were sprites walking around that you couldn’t speak to; the entire game was written using a hideous font; descriptions for most of the items and magic types made no sense,” he said.

The entire game was fixed up over the last couple years, with a lot of weird bugs and useless features removed (they even balanced the difficulty!).

I haven’t played the game yet, but it looks like a Phantasy Star II knockoff. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! If this sounds like a thing you might enjoy purchasing, you can do that here for $40 plus shipping. You should also buy Zaku while you’re there because it’s a Lynx game about a fox that shoots other animals to get back some stolen game development middleware. How can you not want that?

HG Razor Ramon in Valhalla

Hard Gay (HG) Razor Ramon (aka Masaki Sumitani) is part of a long and proud tradition of Japanese one-joke comedians. In HG’s case, he camped it up about being pretend-gay, and had a catch phrase or two as a ridiculous character in the Japanese pro wrestling scene. He was quite popular for some time, as homophobia is still all the rage in japan, but he shattered his foot in 2009, which ended his pro wrestling career. He hoped to continue his “comedy” act unabated.

Valhalla, you’ll remember, is expert girl-toucher Tomonobu Itagaki’s new game studio, after leaving Tecmo and taking a bunch of the top brass with him. The company announced Devil’s Third some time ago, but gave it a “proper” unveiling at this E3. For this unveling, THQ Japan decided to hire HG to go to the studio and be a fake jerk to everyone.

The announcement video seen at the show was just a few minutes long, but the entire ordeal was some 17 minutes plus, which has been archived on youtube for all to enjoy. It’s subtitled, as well. If you like looking at white people in Japanese game studios, this is the video for you!

One would presume this video was rather expensive, but given HG is pretty much just announcing adult video programs on late-night TV now, maybe not so much. I will admit that I do approve of the line… “I’m a celebrity…well in 2005 I was… anyway!!!”

Look who’s back! (it’s us)

nice gets!Welcome, pilgrims, to the rebirth of insert credit. The site was created in 2001, launched on april 8 2002, and went on hiatus round about june 2009.

This resurrection has been a long time in the making, and I think we’ve got a group of people now who really want to do this. I make no guarantees, but I am hopeful that we’ll stick around for a little while. Don’t expect constant, or even daily updates. Don’t expect us to cover things that everyone else is covering. The old days of being an import game site are mostly over, and others are covering the news better than us anyway.

So then, why are we back? A lot of that is said in our quasi-manifesto below, but to sum up, the game-related website we wanted to read didn’t exist anymore… and it was because we weren’t making it. The solution was deviously obvious! We are making this site for us, and for people like us. Time was, that was a lot of people. We’ll see how it is now!

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Journalism: The Videogame: Redux

\\ This feature serves both as the new insert credit manifesto, and an illumination of our personal thoughts and feelings about writing in games, and why we do what we do. Each chapter has a different author, excepting the first and last, which are both written by Brandon Sheffield. The others are penned by Frank Cifaldi (ch. 2), Patrick Miller (ch. 3), Christian Nutt (ch. 4), Tim Rogers (ch. 5), Christopher Woodard (ch. 6), Leigh Alexander (ch. 7), and sort-of Simon Carless (ch. 8). You needn’t read them in any order, and can freely pick and choose. //

If you’re old enough to be as much of a jerk as I am, you might remember we’ve been here before. Back in Aught Three, we published a manifesto decrying video game journalism every-which-way. Game journalism was terrible, we said. It was shallow, and it only talked about graphics. It needed to be more personal. There needed to be a connection between audience and author, such that the reader could say “I know this guy hates JRPGs, so if he hates this game, I might like it!”

We thought writing about games sucked, then. We felt it was dry, and lacked a deeper understanding of how and why people play games, because these writers were *forced* to play things they didn’t like, and then pretend to be objective about it. So, in our idealism, we set out to change that.

And I’ll be danged if we didn’t changed it just a little!

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The PlayStation 3 is hitting all kinds of strides

It finally happened. The PlayStation 3 is hitting its stride.

That’s according to Sony Computer Entertainment president and CEO Jack Tretton, who said so to Forbes.

“PlayStation 3 is really just hitting its stride,” he said in an interview published June 17, 2011.

This is very important news. It has been a long journey into stride-hitting territory for the PlayStation 3, full of many false starts and shattered dreams. Join us as tonight we look back on the history of the PlayStation 3 and stride hitting.
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Walnut consolized MVS

This is a pretty solid endeavor, in more ways than one. These Analogue Interactive folks have created a 100% walnut-enclosed MVS, with working dustflaps, and a host of video outputs, including pure RGB, component, S-video, and composite. Ships with Unibios 3.0, which allows easy region switching, among other things.

If you’re the kind of person who likes watching videos of slow zooms in and out of photos, they’ve put one up that should meet all your needs. Did that not sate your high res photo urges? Well! Look no further than the official flickr.

Of course, the whole thing runs some $649, but what can you do. Those are classic Neo Geo prices, right there! And incidentally, if you’re looking for matching walnut joysticks, the team is allegedly “working on it,” according to a comment on the official youtube page.

Kirby Sunsoft redub

I have no idea why this exists. I found this video while searching YouTube for “Sunsoft music,” which totally sounds like something I’d do. Just as the title suggests, this is gameplay from the Super Nintendo game Kirby’s Dreamland 3 with all of the music replaced by tunes from Sunsoft games, for reasons only the author of this video can even begin to comprehend. Specifically these are tunes from Sunsoft’s NES catalog, which I’m still convinced was written by a spaceman from the future.

Actually, we don’t know who composed Sunsoft’s incredible NES tunes. Someone once asked the guy who designed Blaster Master, and his answer was pretty much “some guy.”

Seeing Kirby run around and eat things while the intense oh-god-there-are-robots-everywhere music from Journey To Silius plays adds a weird sense of urgency and seriousness to the game. I have no idea why but this is the most compelling thing I’ve watched all day.

Besides Journey to Silius, other games that lent music to this bizarre video include Gremlins 2, Blaster Master, Batman: Return of the Joker, and Gimmick!, a personal favorite of mine. This is also one of four total parts, the rest are on the author’s profile.