Archive for the ‘peripherals’ Category

Game enhancement

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

After I had my NES for a while, I got a decent selection of games that I had played to death. Most of them I traded in for other games at my local resale shop, but a few, like Super Mario Bros. I kept, even though I didn’t play them much.

A while later, I got wind of an add-on device that promised to ‘breathe new life’ into my old games, the Game Genie.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Game Genie is a piece of hardware that gets inserted in between your NES and the game you’re wanting to play. You put in some codes (either from the manual or you could just randomly poke around on the code entry screen). Depending on what codes you put in, you’d get varying effects. Stuff like: infinite lives, late-game powerups early on, ludicrous rewards for defeating a foe, that kind of thing. How it worked is a little beyond the scope of this article, but the gist is that it effectively replaced bits of code in the game with its own, resulting in a change.

So I put in in, played a few games with it, and after a few weeks, started to get bored with it. Why? Mostly because the games I’d played were games that I already played until my fingers were numb and I knew them inside and out. Twiddling with the gravity in Super Mario Bros. was kind of neat for a few minutes of goofing around and flying around a few of the levels, but ultimately not that satisfying.

But that didn’t stop me from getting the Game Genie for the Game Boy a while later, and then for the Super NES a while after that. They were gimmicky novelties that I just had to have.


Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Since we’re talking about crappy peripherals, we might as well devote a few inches to the DexDrive.

“What’s a DexDrive?”, I hear you say.

A DexDrive is a squarish device that plugs into your PC, and you jam memory cards from your favorite game system into it. Now, that’s not to say that a single DexDrive will read every memory card for every system, no, that would make far too few dollars for its developer. You have to buy a different drive for each system.

But what’s it do?

Well, at the time (the middle 1990’s) memory cards were the de facto way to store your game saves, but the problem was that memory cards were pretty expensive. So, for about the price of two cards, you got a device that let you transfer the saves to/from your computer, where storage space was comparatively huge.

Which sounds great, right?

But, you have a huge problem immediately: to use the device you have to format your card so that the drive can use it. Which means that you have to erase everything on your card in order to use it. Which meant that in order to use mine, I’d either have to buy a new memory card or delete the stuff on the one I already had on it. Which meant dozens upon dozens of hours down the toilet (if I ever wanted to go back to those games, that is).

Oh, and there was the time it corrupted the card that I actually tried it out on, that kind of sucked, too.

Light Guns

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

There are several different kinds of games you’re going to find in your local arcade (well, assuming you even have a local arcade any more). Most of them are the ‘stand up, waggle the joystick and mash the buttons’ kind of game, then there are driving games, pinball games, and light-gun games. Most of these have made the transition to the home consoles… except that last one. Well, until the Wii came out that is, though there are still relatively few of the things for it.

And what that means is that my pointing and clicking skills, without the aid of a reticule, are beginning to languish. Which is a shame, because I used to be halfway decent at shooting cardboard cutouts of gangsters.

Interacting with the Interactor

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

It’s been pretty well established at this point that I like gimmicky things… well, as far as video games are concerned. So it shouldn’t come as too big a surprise that I’ve accumulated several wacky things in my gaming journey. One of the wackiest is the Aura Interactor.

The Interactor is a vest that you strap to your back. You then plug the audio into a brick that you’ve plugged the sound from your favorite audio device into (usually a video game console, but you could also plug it into anything that outputs sound: portable game console, stereo, iPod, Walkman, whatever).

And no, I don’t have any pictures of me wearing the thing, it’s kind of snug these days.

But the general idea is that the brick takes the sound from whatever you’ve plugged into it, filters out everything but the bass (which supposedly just leaves impacts from punches, kicks, cars, spaceships, or whatever), and then transfers a spine-rattling rumble to the backpack. And I do mean spine-rattling. The thing rattled me so hard that my vision actually wobbled. It was definitely a unique experience, and predated the N64’s Rumble Pak by quite a few years.

I could only find two problems with the thing:

1. They didn’t make it in an adult size and
2. Since the device filters out everything but the bass-sounds, you don’t really get any of the sounds from the game. So you’re playing a mostly silent game and getting clobbered in the back every few seconds… Which is weird, yeah.

If you really want to get some more information about the thing, you could check here.