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Ex-Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln had big brass balls

Mar 17 // Tony Ponce
If you've ever read David Sheff's Game Over, you would already be familiar with some of Lincoln's earliest success stories. One such tale was how Lincoln got revenge against Tengen and Atari Games for their unlicensed version of Tetris on the NES. Tengen had originally sued Nintendo for refusing to allow Tetris on home consoles. Lincoln noticed a loophole in Tengen's licensing terms with Tetris property holder Mirrorsoft, which he exploited in order to "steal" the rights to publish Tetris on consoles and handhelds, thereby forcing Tengen to recall all copies of its version already on shelves. Lincoln's thoughts on the situation? "We knew we had those bastards by the balls. We knew we were going to make a fortune on this product and they, in turn, were going to get kicked in the head." [embed]248932:47619:0[/embed] During the videogame violence Senate hearings -- sparked in part by the 1992's Mortal Kombat and resulting in the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board -- Lincoln took the opportunity to deflect focus away from Nintendo and onto SEGA and retailers that stocked SEGA product. In the above video clip, he held up the infamous SEGA CD title Night Trap as an example of an adult game directly sold to youths. SEGA was furious that Lincoln would be so petty and self-serving during a period when the entire industry needed to band together. Lincoln was not bothered, and he even wrote a poem directed towards then-SEGA president Tom Kalinske: "Dear Tom, Roses are red, violets are blue, so you had a bad day, boo hoo hoo hoo. All my best, Howard." When not getting on people's bad side, Lincoln was strengthening relationships with other third parties. He saw great potential in certain teams to provide the kind of Western software that Nintendo couldn't develop on its own, which led to partnerships with Rareware, Retro Studios, Silicon Nights, LucasArts, and DMA Design (now known as Rockstar North). He even convinced Electronic Arts to publish sports games on the N64. In case you've forgotten, EA had long been nervously opposed to developing on Nintendo hardware; in fact, EA sports titles were one of the big bullet points the Genesis initially had over the SNES. Lincoln would step down as chairman in 2000, and most of the other major players of Nintendo's "old guard" -- first NoA president Minoru Arakawa, executive VP Peter Main, and global Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi -- departed by 2002. Many of Lincoln and old-school NoA's accomplishments have since dissolved, resulting in the different we see Nintendo today. Ms. Rogers strongly implies that the current management is to blame for all those partnerships going the wayside, but I personally think Nintendo was forced to change. It's a shame that Nintendo lost excellent talent, but you have to remember that the company wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders at the start of the century. That was a different age, and Nintendo couldn't be the rampaging bull it once was in this new generation. Nonetheless, we could use another guy like Howard Lincoln at the helm, someone who actively courts Western studios in a bid to expand Nintendo's library and actually succeed. Especially in the wake on publishers' continued refusal to bring any of their upcoming software to the Wii U, a little of the 80s shark mentality couldn't hurt. Howard Lincoln: Kicking Ass Before Reggie Came Along [Not Enough Shaders via NeoGAF]
Nintendo's brass balls photo
Nintendo of America used to be cutthroat and vengeful
The Nintendo of today is known for being quiet and humble, making conservative decisions, and doing its best not to intentionally piss potential third-party partners off. Most of the complaints directed at Nintendo's current ...

Review: The History of Sonic The Hedgehog

Feb 27 // Tony Ponce
The History of Sonic The HedgehogEditor: Pix'n Love PublishingPublisher: UDON EntertainmentReleased: January 1, 2013MSRP: $49.99 Sonic The Hedgehog. The "The" is supposed to be capitalized. According to former SEGA of America head of marketing Al Nilsen, Sonic "was not just a hedgehog, but THE hedgehog" and that the three-letter article was essentially the speedster's middle name. Sonic's rise to fame is filled with many such wonderful bits of trivia, compiled from various print sources, interviews, websites, and documentaries over the past 20 years. A lot of the info is readily available knowledge, but you are still likely to trip over an obscure factoid now and then. The book itself is your archetypal coffee-table tome -- a thick hardcover binding that measures an almost square 9.25" X 8.5". Greeting you on the front is a classic-era Sonic, encircled by an iconic gold ring, while the reverse side plays host to Sonic's modern incarnation. Not that I really care one way or another who gets what spot on the cover, but I'm sure many of you will pleased that ol' daddy long legs was shunted to the rear. Flipping through the pages, however, you'll notice that the text and images have been laid out in a way that treats each two-page spread as a single "widescreen" page. This gives the book a much more expansive feel, and considering that Sonic's claim to fame is racing across wide open spaces, the design is quite appropriate. Oh, and there's a 16-bit sprite flip animation in the bottom-right corner. No biggie, but those always add an amusing touch. As mentioned already, The History of Sonic is split into three major parts: a written account of the Blue Blur's career, a listing of nearly every Sonic series game, and character bios and artwork. Inserted at the very end is a tiny section devoted to Sonic's cameo appearances in SEGA-developed software -- oddly enough, Sonic's very first appearance in a videogame was not in the original Sonic The Hedgehog but rather in the arcade racer Rad Mobile as a rear-view mirror tchotchke! Sonic's history is tied directly to that of his parent company, thus the book first explores the founding and early years of Service Games, known today as SEGA. We are also reacquainted with Sonic's predecessor, Alex Kidd, who failed to be the Mario-killer SEGA hoped for. Sonic is actually quite the anomaly when you think about it. Other attempts to best a popular videogame franchise -- so-called Zelda-killers, Halo-killers, and the like -- tend not to live up to the hype. In Sonic's case, he was carefully and meticulously constructed to be the "anti-Mario" in every way, but the planets aligned and he almost single-handedly helped SEGA pull a large chunk of market share away from Nintendo. Another thing that fascinates me about Sonic's conception is how, much like in other games from the early '90s and prior, many key design decisions were made based on the capabilities of the hardware. Sonic rolls into a ball so that jumping and attacking could be accomplished by a single button. Sonic is dark blue because his former sky blue color scheme caused him to be camouflaged when standing in front of similarly colored backgrounds. And Sonic has very prominent spikes because they offered the illusion of speed. The SEGA hardware years give way to the company's current role as a third-party developer, and Sonic's continued developments are detailed up through his team-up with Mario in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series, bringing this tale around full circle. Capping off the history is a trio of interviews with Yuji Naka, programmer on the first Sonic The Hedgehog and the most famous Sonic Team member of all; Naoto Oshima, graphic designer who actually gave birth to Sonic; and Takashi Iizuka, series artistic director since Sonic Adventure. The history does an excellent job of walking us through Sonic's game career, but I'm nonetheless disappointed that there was next to no discussion of his ventures in other media. A major reason for Sonic's popularity in the '90s was his omnipresence -- from Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to cans of spaghetti -- so it seems odd that his four cartoon shows, one Japanese direct-to-video animation, and the Archie and Fleetway Sonic comics would only be mentioned in passing. Not going behind the scenes on those projects feels like a missed opportunity. The games list section, which covers all the franchise installments from the original Sonic The Hedgehog in 1991 through Sonic Generations in 2011, is broken down further into 2D era, 3D era, handheld excursions, and spin-offs. Major titles are naturally given more real estate than, say, the Sonic Café series of cell phone time-wasters, but every entry is accompanied by screens and box art, release information, brief synopses of the games and their market impact, and extra trivia you can use to impress your friends. For example, Sonic can throw Hadoukens in Sonic Chaos on Game Gear. I did not know that! Though even the strangest of Sonic's outings are covered, there is a small handful of curious omissions. I'm specifically talking about the compilations like Sonic Jam on Saturn -- the game.com version gets an entry, however. In Sonic Jam's case, its "Sonic World" environment served as the prototype for Sonic Adventure, so you can't say it didn't play a major role in the grand scheme. I also would have loved concept art for cut levels and other cutting-room-floor materials, such as the four axed zones in Sonic The Hedgehog 2. And if you were hoping for a straight answer on the whole Michael Jackson-Sonic 3 music connection, keep looking elsewhere. The character section is the most straightforward of them all, providing short biographies for most of the key players as well as their various art designs. Only characters that have had prominent roles in the post-Sonic Adventure era are present, so be sure to pour a 40 for forgotten third-stringers like Mighty the Armadillo, Ray the Squirrel, Nack the Weasel, Bean the Dynamite, and Bark the Polar Bear. A scant six pages are dedicated to artwork of Badniks and bosses, which makes this the laziest portion of the whole book. Only 11 games are represented, and only two or three enemy designs are presented for each, which makes the entire section about as comprehensive as any one of the friggin' Genesis game manuals! But The History of Sonic is so rich in lore and insight that it more than makes up for my gripes. I don't even mind the numerous typographical errors or humorously paradoxical character stats -- Knuckles is noted as the same height as Sonic (3 feet, 4 inches), yet on the very next page, there's a chart that clearly states Knuckles is taller. There is a delightfully optimistic tone throughout the book, even while discussing the less-than-stellar chapters in the Sonic saga -- I'm looking at you, Sonic 2006! I find that to be quite reflective of the Sonic fanbase, but in a good way. We know the series isn't the most consistent in quality, but ol' Mr. Needlemouse was once on top of the world, so there's no reason why he can't make a comeback as long as the passion remains. The History of Sonic The Hedgehog is must-read for the diehards and lapsed fans. We may be unsure of where Sonic is heading, but I think we can all admire his storied journey.
History of Sonic review photo
Blue streak... speeds by...
Despite the Sonic series' many missteps over the past decade, I remain a huge fan. I remember the first time I played Sonic The Hedgehog at my cousins' house into the wee hours of the night. I remember long school field trips...

PS3 evolution video photo
PS3 evolution video

Sony continues the PlayStation retrospective with the PS3


Evolution of PlayStation
Feb 18
// Chris Carter
Sony continues the countdown until the mysterious February 20th event with the "Evolution of PlayStation: PlayStation 3" video. If you're up for a bit of nostalgia, the video goes over the entire history of the console...
PC graphics documentary photo
PC graphics documentary

Watch PC graphics evolve over two hours


Fascinating video highlights graphical advancements
Feb 08
// Chris Carter
Grab a drink, cook up some food, and put your phone on silent. Ok you good? Now you're ready to take on the following two-hour monstrosity of a video on the evolution of PC graphics. The video was assembled in chronological ...

Mega Man Game History Ver. 2: 25th Anniversary Edition

Dec 15 // Tony Ponce
My criteria for inclusion is the same as it was in 2009, EVERY officially licensed game that plays on some kind of electronic device. That means console games, handheld games, PC games, arcade games, mobile games, and even LCD games like Tiger Electronics' Mega Man 2 and 3. I also considered every port from every region, with the exception of re-issues on the same platform. For example, I included the first versions of the Rockman Complete Works titles -- Japan-exclusive PlayStation ports of the original NES Mega Mans -- but not the re-releases from Sony's PSone Books budget line. The games are ordered according to original release, whether that be in Japan, North America, Europe, or Asian territories, but are tagged with localized box art, screens, and titles when available. It's for that reason you'll see Mega Man 2 appear on the 1988 row in accordance with Rockman 2's release, even though the American version didn't arrive until the following year. Games from a given year were placed across a row in more or less release order. Unfortunately, specific release dates were unavailable for several games. In such cases, those games were simply appended to the end of the row. In regards to mobile titles, the same games typically launched across several different phone services, while enhanced versions on a particular service often appeared at a later date. I treated every instance of said games as single releases for sanity's sake -- information about old cell phone games is a bear to track down! However, I gave Android and iOS releases their own entries due to the greater significance of those platforms. I likewise treated the multiple versions of Mega Man 9 and 10 as well as the various recolored models of the Battle Network / Star Force LCD digital pets as single releases. Those were purely judgment calls on my end. But enough jibber-jabber! You want to see the chart for yourself! I've attached a sampler in the gallery below, but if you want to view the full 9000 x 7000 monstrosity, you'll have to swing on by my MediaFire page. Please be warned that the original's file size exceeds 9 MB. And if you happen to find any errors or missing games, don't be afraid to give me a holler. Enjoy my labor of love, friends! I guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised! View and download Mega Man Game History Ver. 2
Mega Man Game History photo
25 years of games crammed into one massive infographic
Three and a half years ago, I foolishly dedicated an entire week to constructing a ginormous infographic of every single Mega Man game in existence. My Mega Man Game History chart was well received by several outlets, and I c...

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Hyrule Historia to only get 4,000 Limited Edition copies


Dibs on one
Nov 28
// Chris Carter
We all knew that Amazon would be carrying the upcoming localization of Hyrule Historia, but what we didn't know is that Dark Horse will be printing a Limited Edition version. Sadly, this special edition will actually be limit...
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CVG looks back on the origins of the Wii


Fascinating send-off for Nintendo's most successful home console
Nov 17
// Tony Ponce
On the eve of the Wii U's launch, it's time to pay our final respects to the console its replacing, because unlike the PS2, no company is going to be supporting the Wii from here on out. The Wii was a treasure trove of potent...
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Promoted blog: Gunpei Yokoi remembered


Sep 25
// locketheleisz
[Dtoid community blogger locketheleisz shares a remembrance of his hero, Nintendo's Gunpei Yokoi. It's a long read, but seriously worth your time! Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Go wr...
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Really, Nintendo? A knitting peripheral for the NES?


Sep 04
// Tony Ponce
Throughout its history, Nintendo has had its fair share of "what the eff were they thinking!?" moments. Take the Wii Vitality Sensor, for instance. A pulse rate monitor attached to a game controller? No wonder Iwata and pals ...
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Learn everything there is to learn about Nick Arcade


Jul 26
// Chris Carter
Nick Arcade was one of my favorite game shows of all time. I still remember face-palming at how bad the kids were at pretty much all of the arcade games on offer, but most of all, I remember that totally amazing finale segme...
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History of Sonic book speeds by in September


Jul 03
// Tony Ponce
The Blue Blur has had his ups and downs, but on the whole, he's a remarkable icon with a rich history extending across two decades. Earlier this year, Sega and French videogame book publisher Pix'n Love -- responsible for sev...

Generation Xbox and the convergence of games and film

Jun 16 // Tony Ponce
The seeds of convergence were sown back when licensed games were first explored, such as with Superman for the Atari 2600. Though based on hot properties, those games were too rudimentary to offer any compelling connection to the source material. Other licensed games were made, notably Raiders of the Lost Ark for its sheer scope and ambition, and though they didn't all hit it big, they sold enough for licensed games to be a seen as a valuable revenue stream. Unfortunately, movie studios at the time only saw games based on their properties as another entry on their list of cross-promotional materials like clothing, action figures, and lunchboxes. Few cared about the quality of the games themselves, caring only about having a product to sell. Although great strides have been made since then, you'd probably agree that licensing still carries a heavy stigma. One Hollywood figure who actually does care about games is Steven Spielberg. He has long held a fascination towards videogames -- the man loved classic LucasArts adventure games and would frequently call up Ron Gilbert personally for walkthrough tips! Hoping to leave his stamp on the industry, Spielberg co-founded DreamWorks Interactive (now known as Danger Close Games), where his greatest contribution was penning the story for the first entry in the long-running Medal of Honor series. On the technical side, the advent of 3D graphics offered the kind of immersion that games seemed to be lacking, and the strides made in that department were felt not only in gaming but in Hollywood and television as well. Acclaim Entertainment's groundbreaking motion capture technology led to the tech featured in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which in turn influenced James Cameron when he was conducting research for Avatar. And remember LazyTown, that kids' show with the catchy Eurodance songs? Apparently, the backgrounds were generated using the Unreal engine! Who knew? That's but a taste of Generation Xbox, which goes into exhaustive detail about the rise and fall of FMV titles, how movies like The Matrix, 300, and Inception are structured and paced in a manner similar to typical game progression, and the persistent fear among Hollywood execs that games are poised to surpass the film industry any day now. It's all eye-opening, regardless of how knowledgeable you may think you are on a specific topic. If there's one fault I must level at the book, it's that Russell seems to be of the mind that games have been lost until the current era, in which software like Uncharted and Heavy Rain almost completely erase the boundaries between movies and games. He believes that this deep level of convergence is what's finally turning ours into a respectable storytelling medium. My opinion is that games can tell wonderful narratives without having to approximate techniques used in film and have been doing so for decades. Of course, I could just be misinterpreting his tone. That's a minor quibble, though. If you want to read about how Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo worked through a crate of Scotch to stay sane during the filming of the Super Mario Bros. movie, Generation Xbox is a mere $14.99 on Amazon. It's pretty damn good!
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A couple months back, Wired offered readers some insight into Microsoft's failure to get a Halo movie off the ground. The original article was an excerpt from Generation Xbox: How Video Games Invaded Hollywood, by Total Film ...

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E3: A peek at the Videogame History Museum booth


Jun 09
// Conrad Zimmerman
While the E3 show floor is primarily concerned with showing the world what's next for the videogame industry, The Videogame History Museum brought a little bit of its past to the event this week. Tucked in the corner of the s...
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Spector: Indifference puts history of games at risk


Feb 23
// Jordan Devore
In a Gamasutra article about the preservation of game history, Junction Point Studios' Warren Spector commented on both the importance of saving the industry's past for posterity and what's holding us back. "Where the early h...
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Chart breaks down game genres as individual planets


Jan 05
// Tony Ponce
Back in October, we posted a super tall infographic that chronicled the history of console gaming (with some corners cut here and there). The cats responsible for that monster (Hotel Club) have concocted another massive chart...
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Blizzard unveils Diablo 15th anniversary retrospective


Jan 05
// Alasdair Duncan
With the third installment coming soon, it did surprise me to learn that the Diablo franchise is now 15 years old. Released at the tail end of 1996, Diablo popularized the action-RPG with its frantic mouse clicking action and...
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Behold this massive home console evolution infographic!


Oct 20
// Tony Ponce
I absolutely love it when fans take a grand slice of videogame history and condense it into a fun, colorful infographic. Not only does it result in a handy guide that can be produced whenever you have a desire to confirm a da...
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The Videogame History Museum project is go!


Sep 04
// Smurgesborg
A while back we reported that The Videogame History Museum needed your help to create a 30,000 dollar kickstarter fund, and that goal been met!  As of this writing in fact, said goal has been exceeded by roughly 70%.&nbs...
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The Videogame History Museum needs your help


Aug 22
// Nick Chester
A non-profit charity looking to preserve our favorite pastime in a physical building needs your help. The Videogame History Museum has already accumulated a massive amount of memorabilia over the past 20 years. It's an incred...
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Videogames are history, seriously


Jul 03
// Victoria Medina
Videogames have come a long way since the days of the Odyssey and Atari, yet even decades later old titles like Pong and Duck Hunt continue to influence new generations of games.  One group of men, responsible for the Cl...

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