CES 2011

Last week was the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. If I’m counting right, this should have been my 9th CES now as I believe my first was in 2001 and I missed one because of school a couple years ago. This year I spent 3 days at the show and still feel like I skimmed the surface. Like last year there were a lot of 3D T.V.s shown and quite a few demonstrations of glassless 3D T.V.s. I personally think that will be the future as the most common complaint about 3D is having to wear the glasses. Right now with the technology you have to stand in certain spots for it to work, but I’m sure this will be perfected in years to come.
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New Sonic 2D Side scroller

Last night Sega officially unveiled Sonic 4 which was previously known as project needlemouse. After 16 years a direct sequel to Sonic 3 is finally coming and it is in the same style as the games that made Sonic famous. Sonic has been one of those games that just hasn’t really translated well after the switch was made to 3D, so it is great seeing him go back to his roots. The game is going to be download only, but from what I can see it will be available for all the major consoles. There is only half a second of actual gameplay footage here, but it is a good teaser. The game will be out this summer.

Unreal Engine Ported to iPhone 3GS/Touch

Here’s for hoping that Unreal Tournament gets a proper port soon.

Anandtech spent some time with Epic Games’ Mark Rein last week and was shown a demo of the Unreal Engine 3 running on a 3rd Generation iPod Touch. The demo included a flythrough as well as a playable level from Unreal Tournament.
It’s using a modified Unreal Tournament level previously shown off at GDC. A virtual thumbstick on the left side of the screen controls your movement, while tracking your thumb in the lower right corner of the screen controls the camera. Just tap the screen to shoot. Mark said this is a tech test bed and they’re experimenting with several different control schemes including ones with tilt.

The Unreal Engine 3 is a modern 3D gaming engine which powers games such as Bioshock, Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 3.

Happy Birthday Genesis!

brand20 years ago today the Genesis was launched by Sega in the U.S. It is pretty crazy to think it was that long ago. When the Genesis was released, Nintendo still had something like 80-90% of the video game market and was still going strong. Later this same year, the movie the Wizard, came out in theaters and featured Super Mario Brothers 3 which would come out the next year in 1990.

Because of the huge stronghold Nintendo had the first two years the Genesis only did moderately well. There main selling point was that you could bring the arcade home and they ported several arcade titles to the system with very similar graphics. I remember one time my brother took me to the Red Cliffs Mall in St. George around this time. We played Altered Beasts at the arcade, Tilt. He asked me if there was a system that had that game. It just happened to be the pack in game with the Genesis at the time. We went to the K.B. Toys that was at the mall and I showed him. I think he was contemplating getting one for us. However, at that time the Genesis still had a $200 price tag, so it didn’t happen.

It wasn’t until 1991 that the Genesis started to really take off and that’s because that was the year of Sonic the Hedgehog. From previous interviews I have read, Sega knew they needed to come up with a mascot that could rival mario and this one ended up being their choice. It was also the President of Sega of America’s idea to make this game a pack in game in order to help sell systems. From what I have read Sega of Japan was not happy with this idea, since it was pretty much giving away their killer app for free. However, they decided to go along and allow the idea. After the release of Sonic, and a $50 price decrease, the Genesis started selling like hot cakes. It was that year that I finally got one. I managed to sell my NES and all my games and then pooled up all my lawn mowing money from the summer to get one.

Over time Sega managed to get half of the video game market which is pretty impressive. However, they made some mistakes near the end of the Genesis’ life which cost them dearly. A big debate at the time was which system was better Genesis or Super Nintendo? I personally jumped back and forth between both systems over the years. When I switched to the Super Nintendo, I had a friend who also had a Genesis, so sometimes we would swap systems over the weekends. It made it a great way to enjoy both great libraries. The main disadvantage with the Genesis was it could only display 64 colors on the screen at one time, while the Super Nintendo could do 256. Games that were ported to both systems almost always looked better on the Super Nintendo, especially arcade ports. However, the Genesis had some great exclusive titles that looked great and colorful, one of them being the Sonic series.

This post turned out being a lot longer than I thought it would, but I thought it appropriate to share some of my memories of the time and a little of the history.

Happy Birthday Genesis!

Here is a pic of my boxed system. 🙂
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Skype and Wolf3D for iPhone

A few new apps have been released for the iPhone the last week or so. The first is Skype. I haven’t used Skype as much as I used to, but I think an iPhone app is a great idea. The only stipulation is, that you can only use Skype for calls when connected to wifi, which I am sure was a requirement of AT&T. The service is great if you don’t have a landline and use your cell phone at home a lot. You can get unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. for only $2.95 a month! You can also talk to anyone on a computer with the Skype client for free. The call quality is amazing which was the thing that got me hooked on Skype in the first place. The other nice thing with this app is it works on the 2nd generation iPod touch, so now the touch is also a VOIP phone making it closer to an iPhone. Here are some screenshots of the Skype app.

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Here are the links to the skype’s website as well as the subscription plans.

Now for the fun one. Last week ID released the source code for an iPhone version of Wolfenstein 3D. They also officially released the game in the app store for $5 which isn’t a bad price. Because the source code was released, someone also compiled it themselves and released it on Cydia for free on jailbroken iPhones. I decided to try it for free to give it a try and I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to control and use. Wolfenstein is considered the game that really kicked off the first person shooter craze. I used to play it back in the day on our 386 computer running at a whopping 16 mhz. 🙂 ID has also stated that they are working on porting the Quake series to the iPhone and I can’t wait to see how they pull those off. Here are some screenshots from the iPhone version of Wolf 3D.
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