wii

Misc news: Updates, WII U sales, NX predictions, Weather and the tech baffled.

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I’ve a video arriving shortly with an incredibly interesting interview with Michael Horn, which I’ve put much attention into, its an important interview for me and I’m sure you’ll be impressed at how insightful and intelligent Michael is as well as the information which he has to offer being incredibly relevant to today.

I’ve watched the UK news on the figurative periphery these last few weeks and although I am in the North East of England for the Christmas period this year hoping for a peaceful and relaxing time, I see that even in the NE, its not completely avoided the storms which have hit the country.

A rambling on modern technology and the baffled.

My neighbour has a skill, the ability to break things.  If you gave him a calculator, he’d be able to identify a set of buttons that could crash the thing,  so it comes as no surprise that his purchase of an Android box would end in tears….mine that is.

Whilst we march into this digital revolution of everything being sold with a “smart” moniker; smartphone, smart TV etc, the list perhaps shows that whilst technology may be cheaper and easier to use, there is still a market to help those who when faced with a tech issue, have the ability to break even the most fool proof systems and the one thing that certainly can’t have the “smart” title is the average user.

518873630_c_294_220What part of “If anything goes wrong, leave it and give me a call” is difficult to understand?  Well in the case of my neighbour, the answer is all of it, because when a problem occurred with his Android Box (his net connection went down due to a fault at the local exchange) he started to press buttons.  Quite how he managed in his blind fumbling to reach the menu that reset the box to its factory settings, wiping everything that had been set up on his box, is anyone’s guess.

Suffice to say, my neighbour presented himself to me shortly afterwards, baffled and clutching a vanilla install Android box, to which yet again, I found myself going through the laborious task of getting it back to the way he wanted it.  Since this isn’t a business of mine and I do it out of kindness, I really hope there is such a thing as karma, because if there is, I’m due for a Bill Gates payout.  I have a confession too, when another neighbour presented similar issues to me, dealing with packages I have not used (but could have found out) I referred them to someone who repairs them for a living.

Have you ever tried to explain to the tech baffled that HD space and memory (RAM) are two separate things?  My advice is don’t bother trying, somewhere in recent times one tech hapless individual has declared to another tech hapless individual that the two are the same and its gone viral to all the other tech hapless individuals on the planet and it doesn’t stop there.  I recall with fondness trying to get one of these individuals to understand that a bootable linux USB stick was not a “computer” and could not be plugged into anything to perform as such.

This episode of tech deja vu got me thinking (as similar incidents occur with many people in my life), is that there some people (probably in their millions) who should have no involvement in technology at all.  Cast your eye over at the net result of the average person discovering computing.  We have Facebook drama’s, malware so simple in its deception yet millions falling victim.  Scams a plenty which would have any reasonably intelligent person saying “you’ve got to be kidding” yet millions of people giving out their details (or worse) for the promise of the good life in a random email by a person with a made up name.  Oh and you have the government and its associated agencies, baffled at the fact that people who have been learning with technology all their lives in education and as a hobby, are infinitely more advanced with it than they are.

Whilst its great there’s so many people using and interested in something which for a long time was considered “geeky”, is it not time we returned to the 80’s where the only people using computers and online were the ones who knew what they were doing?  I’d quite happily trade the world wide webs average user, for a quieter experience and be labelled a geek.

wii-u-top1Its time for the WII U!

I think customer loyalty is and always has been a transient thing in the tech world – If it wasn’t, after the NES took the world by storm in the 80’s we’d all be Nintendo owners now.  The market today sees people switching between console platforms (or having all) rather than in the 80’s and 90’s where people generally picked a “side” and stuck with it.

This Xmas (and the sales leading up to it) have, from my observations noticed that many retailers are selling out of the WII U (or at least showing very good sales) now its being bundled at a reduced price.  I checked Argos in the UK for an indicator of what was happening and whilst they still had consoles in stock, it seems the games like Mario Maker were sold out in all the stores that I looked at.  Maybe this is an indicator that there’s many a WII U under the Xmas tree?

I don’t personally think this is in any way indicative of a sway from PS4 or Xbox One, but more that at the lower price, it offers something a little different and good value and its now viable to own as a “as well as” console.

So what’s different about the WII U? Well there is no argument that the specs of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are significantly higher than that of the WII U, but Nintendo offer something which is quite a draw – No subscription costs for online gaming for starters.  Secondly you have that controller/screen which makes 2 player games on one console all the better (no split screen needed).  You’ve also got the ability to move out of the room your console is in and play your games in another room (via the screen controller).

That’s not to mention the exclusives such as the much loved Mario series and Splatoon.

So whilst Nintendo might not be pleased with shifting consoles at a lower cost, as far as the users are concerned, this is great news, now, its not unreasonable to have two consoles to ensure you get the best possible gaming experience in the home, where the ideal choice (in my view) would be a PS4 and a WII U.

As a parent, I like the Nintendo market better too.  The games (generally) are far more suitable for younger players and often promote more creativity from the user.

I think Nintendo has an opportunity here to maybe make up for lost time and ensure that the titles planned for 2016 hit the market on time.

NX Rumour mill – my views.

I think over the last few years my predictions in the tech world speak for themselves as being accurate and on that note, here’s some more.  The NX will not be a handheld console.  I think Nintendo has seen that the “handheld” war has been won between Apple and Android devices and there’s no inclination or need on behalf of the users to move to another platform.  The NX may well have features enabling crossover between devices (tablet/phone -> NX) but a handheld? No.  It won’t happen.

As for release date, I don’t think it will be early 2016.  I think a summer release (at the earliest is reasonable) with a Xmas 2016 more likely.

No DVD/BluRay drive?  Yes, I can believe this, although I’d expect a huge HD as standard, I’m thinking 1/2tb.  And if Nintendo are going to release this without some innovative new piece of tech (such as the WII when it had it’s release) then its going to have to be considerably more powerful than the PS4.  The price will have to be considered too.  Look at the staying power of the PS3 and the popularity of the PS4.  I think this will be a major hurdle for a new console to overcome unless it is seriously over-spec’d compared to the market or priced at such a silly price, it makes no sense not to jump in.

The more I consider the 2016 release date, the more I doubt it.  Since in my view the 2016 came from reliable sources I’ll give my opinion pertaining to that rumour.  If I was to give my own view, I’d say Nintendo should not be considering this release until at least 2017.  Lets give the PS4 and Xbox One to hit the limits of their tech in games.  I’m not seeing this happening yet and just like on the PS3, even now, produces some titles way above that which was expected it could handle.

Give people time to want a new console, not thrust an alternative onto an established market, otherwise what will happen is that the new console won’t sell and when the established market goes for the upgrade they will again be looking at PS5 or Xbox Two which will most likely have better specs than the NX.  Maybe the biggest problem Nintendo have is that they are out of sync with the rest of the market (in terms of new console releases).  The NX may be better spec’d than the PS4, but when PS4 owners are asking for a new console, I’d be surprised if the NX matched up to the future specs of a PS5.  “Out of sync” in my view is Nintendo’s biggest issue here.

Tim.

Nintendo loses court case to Philips – Game over?

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If Nintendo didn’t have enough on its plate with sales figures suggesting its hardware is far from enjoying the success its previous devices have, now you can add a lost court case into the mix.

It is reported:

It was reported over the weekend by PureNintendo.com that Nintendo has lost a court case in the UK to Koninklijke Philips (a Dutch company more commonly known as Philips) over its motion controller technology. Philips claimed that Nintendo infringed on its intellectual property with its designs for the Wii and Wii U’s motion controllers, and a UK court has ruled in Philips’ favour.

Source: HTXT

Which means providing there is no appeal (or that appeal is lost) Nintendo have more woes in their future.

I’ve made no secret that I believe Nintendo’s days as a provider of hardware are over.  If we look back at the days of the Super Nintendo and Gameboy etc, we can see that Nintendo had it so much better.  So what’s changed?

I think Nintendo’s misfortunes in today’s market can be put down to a few things.  Firstly the cutesy image.  It’s not what the mainstream want.  Secondly its handheld devices are in for tough competition when Android is offering a catch-all solution – people don’t want multiple devices in their pocket when they go out.  If they can have a phone and entertainment system in one, I’d suggest that is far more appealing.   With the catalogues in games, music and video, Android leaves the DS looking rather lacking.  The 3DS was not in my view, received as they would like and as well as allegedly giving headaches to some users, it’s also created a headache for Nintendo when they have to compete with a smartphone.  And I think the final reason for the Nintendo bad fortune of late was the under-powered WIIU which when held up to the alternatives looks rather lacklustre in terms of specs.

It’s too late in my view for Nintendo to make money by releasing its back catalogue on other devices – emulation has stepped in and destroyed that market for them already.  Perhaps if Nintendo had realized earlier that there was a market for their older titles on other platforms they could have capitalized on it.

Nintendo will not disappear overnight, but unless it brings something rather unique out of the bag and soon, I think it’s going the same way as Sega.

Early Xmas sales figures – Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo & The Kindle

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Whilst it appears only Amazon has released details of what has sold over the Xmas period, I will take a look at some (unscientific) trends and observations that can be drawn from them.

I believe 2011 will be a very interesting time in the “console wars”, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will all be competing for your custom and there has been plenty of rumours to discuss over the coming year as to the future direction of all the “big name” firms.

So was Kinect THE console device to own over the Xmas period? Has Microsoft created a WII like frenzy with users flocking to its latest product Kinect?  Well if the figures from Amazon are representative of the larger picture then – no.  It appears the PS3 Blu-Ray controller took first place for console hardware sales this Xmas period, with Kinect crawling in at number 10.  It seems that over the festive period, Kinect is not the tech which is getting people as excited. What does that say about the popularity of Kinect and the 360 if the number one slot is a PS3 piece of hardware?  – Questions which can’t be answered merely from the figures of Amazon and rather unhelpfully its being stated around the net that they do not represent the entire holiday period, although nobody seems to specify exactly what period it does refer to.

Interestingly it could suggest (at least in terms of Amazon customers) that there is a substantially larger number of users who are seeing Blu-Ray on their PS3’s as the thing to have this year, maybe this signifies a more enthusiastic adoption of the format finally?  If this is the case, Microsoft may have worries, but before we look at that lets consider some of the other figures released.

To balance the more popular PS3 controller, we have COD Special Ops (Xbox ver) coming in at #1 over the PS3 version at number 3.   So whilst hardware buyers are going in the majority with Sony, Software sales go to the Xbox.

Nintendo did very well too, with it appearing to be the best-selling games console over Xmas, rating it at number 30 and it just goes to show that the “Nintendo appeal” is still going strong in the face of the latest tech from both Microsoft and Sony….thats according to Amazon figures and I’m sure as the year progresses things are likely to change.

360 degree’s of trouble for Microsoft?

Whilst the 360 was infamous for the RROD, its often forgotten about Microsoft’s failed attempt with HDdvd, when Microsoft made the decision that it was not wise to go with Blu-Ray and opted for its poorer cousin instead.  Of course now in hindsight we see that it was completely the wrong decision and it could come to bite Microsoft in 2011.  Let me explain.

Consider for a moment your coat pocket, what would you prefer, a phone, a mp3 player and a handheld gaming device, all separate all stuffed into your pockets? I will go out on a limb and suggest that not many people would and instead would opt for an all-in-one device.  Here is where the PS3 offers a more complete solution to consumers and maybe why the controller has taken the top slot as we are finally seeing more acceptance and migration away from limited DVD. [1]  I don’t suppose people want multiple devices stuffed under their TV either.  When you add these factors together (as well as rumours that Sony have an upgrade module to boost its core specs) one has to wonder if, as before, its Sony making the correct decisions to future proof its products?  I don’t believe we will have a next gen console in the coming couple of years, so as BluRay gains more momentum, Microsoft seems to have only the Kinect to drag out its system – That could change and the one thing history has seen in the games console world, its far from predictable.  There are other advantages for the Blu-Ray format and users demand for 1080 cgi cut scenes in games and other multi-media experiences, further put a strain on the limited capacity DVD (in the face of Blu-Ray)

Of course this is merely supposition and opinion, but I think Microsoft’s decision to not go down the Blu-Ray route, will haunt them later.  Time will tell.

But the winner is….

It’s still very early to make any sort of conclusions, especially since the figures are not complete and from only one source.  We can take it as a given that 2011 will see some great exclusive titles to all three systems.  In the meantime my wife is thoroughly enjoying Gran Turismo 5 and she has even got me (slightly) hooked in the world of online console gaming.  Whilst this will, I am sure by some have me claimed to be supporting the PS3 merely since its not Microsoft, shortly we will be looking at a controversial console comparison where I explain why I choose the PS3 over both the WII and 360.

But what was the real winner this Xmas?  Well, at the present time that accolade goes to the Kindle which Amazon states was the best-selling piece of hardware.  This comes with its own “but” as one just has to consider that Microsoft has a cross-licensing deal which really shows to me yet again that if Microsoft cannot make the products people want to buy, it’s quite happy to cream a little off the top of those that do.  That, maybe shows why I generally see Microsoft as harmful.

Consider this dark future – imagine Microsoft actually does succeed in all its tech’s and establishes them in every home, imagine playing on your Microsoft console, making calls on your Microsoft phone, using Microsoft on your desktop…of course all this would be great news for Ballmer (who I would suggest has a cardboard box on standby to clear out the contents of his desk) but how would that effect the end-user?  Competition is good.  Monopolies and extortion are not – never put all your eggs into one basket.

Is 2011 the year you consider how many Microsoft “solutions” you can replace with better alternatives?

Notes:

[1] Firstly it shows my age, secondly it shows just how quickly tech is moving to describe DVD as “limited”.

Ending on a quote:

…I’ve determined that Microsoft is not a substantial innovator…..

Source: David A Wheeler

I am sure we will be talking further about Xmas sales on TechBytes show.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com / TwitterIdenti.ca

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Sony’s plans for their PS3 – A patent filing hinting on the future?

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Its Xmas and one of my presents from Santa was GT5, so I’ve been distracted throughout the day in between festivities and few cans of Christmas cheer.  All this makes the following article relevant.

I’ve written on many occasions about Kinect, the tech which I believe Microsoft is hoping to take its 360 through the next five years.  In the meantime Sony has been busy too and they have released their Move tech which won best hardware accessory at Gamescon 2010, beating Microsoft’s Kinect for the accolade.

The reports of Sony filing a particular patent in August of this year, have many wondering as to a possible future upgrade module for the PS3.  Whilst its mere speculation, its proposed that the patent filing is in regards to an external CPU component which will increase the specs of Sony’s console.

Whilst Microsoft will in my view be relying on Kinect to see it through the next few years, if Sony had an upgrade module, not only would it increase the specs of the PS3 but would keep it more relevant with the demands of future gamers.

The patent (which can be found here) states:

Methods and apparatus provide for interconnecting one or more multiprocessors and one or more external devices through one or more configurable interface circuits, which are adapted for operation in: (i) a first mode to provide a coherent symmetric interface; or (ii) a second mode to provide a non-coherent interface.

So what makes this more preferable than an announcement of the PS4?  From observing the manuevers of Sony and Microsoft, one cannot help but think that the biggest mistake Microsoft made was the HDdvd choice over BlueRay.  Now that we are slowly witnessing the adoption of the format and some great PS3 only titles, most notably my Xmas present this year GT5, we can maybe understand where an upgrade module would make a rather sensible decision for Sony to make to future proof their console.

What will 2011 hold for the consoles?  To engage in predictions I think iPhone and Android devices will start to make a dent in the adult demand for dedicated handheld consoles.  I believe the DS will suffer as a result of consumers only wanting to carry one device in their pocket and since most people require a phone, it will be Nintendo to suffer in “the battle of the pocket”.

I also believe that Sony will be showing a healthy (and better than predicted) sales figures for 2010.  Certainly if my local area is representative of the global market, PS3 and specific platform unique titles were sold out everywhere.  Could this years trend finally see consumers accepting BlueRay as part of a all in one entertainment center, the PS3 console?   There are other perks which may see the PS3 more desirable, most notably free online gaming.  Sony may be a massive company with billions in turnover, but as of yet it doesn’t see fit to suck every last penny out of you with online subscriptions.

Time will tell what comes to pass, but what is certain, competition between the formats will see some excellent deals for the end user, especially if the rumoured price drop for the PS3 comes to fruition.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com / TwitterIdenti.ca

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Xbox 360 gets Kinect, the official name replacing Natal.

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Despite being plagued with hardware issues (such as the Red Rings of Death) Microsoft’s 360 remains a popular console which despite the arguably better specs of the PS3 and the family orientated WII has reasonable deployment rates in most countries.  The question of if Microsoft has broken even with profits from the sale of the console is yet to be categorically established since Microsoft has spent a lot of money replacing consoles for users that failed.

Whilst the stage seems set, at least for the immediate future in regards to the three consoles (WII,Ps3 and 360), one has to wonder about the future of the 360 since if we cast our minds back Microsoft backed the HDDVD format instead of Blueray which saw another Microsoft “innovation” thrown to the wind when Microsoft got their prediction wrong.

So with 360’s failing, PS3 with its Blueray (and up until recently the ability to install Linux) and Nintendo’s offering with its unique interactive devices, it could be argued that the future seemed bleak for the 360.  In stepped project Natal.   Now after a while of speculation, predictions (and grand statements from Microsoft) Codename Natal has been given it’s official name: Kinect.

Timesonline was at the launch event and wrote a piece on the Kinect here: http://timesonline.typepad.com/technology/2010/06/microsoft-kinect-launch-and-first-hands-on-impressions.html which has quite a bit to say on the subject:

The games are fine of their type, though difficult to get excited about…..

and

You may think I am gratuitously trying to pick holes in Kinect here, but if you live in a flat with wooden floors rather than a huge concrete American house, you should seriously consider fitting sound-proofing if you don’t want your neighbours to hate, hunt and then kill you.

The price of the Kinect is rumoured to be around $150 although as I say, it’s merely a rumour.

A Youtube video shows the launch event:

and for the second time in two days I find myself wanting to quote Bill Gates:

If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.

So now I will move on to why Kinect?  Firstly I hope that nobody draws reference to the Kin phone, which received a less than enthusiastic response from the mainstream press outlets I follow, but more importantly we need to ask the question is Kinect released to prevent 360 users leaving for the arguably better spec’d PS3 with Blueray or for the more socially aware WII?  Maybe Microsoft wants to get a few more years out of the 360 in order to recoup losses it incurred through having to replace so many? or maybe something else?

Yahoo news ponders:

in a best-case scenario, Natal could extend the lifespan of the machine another four or five years…

Could Microsoft expect users to stick with them for another 5 years, Kinect or not?

Is Kinect just another example of too little too late?  Im am sure there are extra features to tout over WII’s offering, but Microsoft is releasing the Kinect in a world where the WII dominates the interactive home fun section, PS3 has the entertainment sorted (with Bluray) one can’t help but wonder who will be interested in this new “innovation”.

I decided to have a look around some forums and comments sections to try and gauge some opinion on this subject.

The stock is really going to take a dive when natal is released…..EPIC FAIL written all over it!

or

Steve Balmer should get a grip on himself… This guy’s excessive promotion and reliance on marketing is what’s destroying Microsoft’s innovation.. 10 years of zero stock growth and declining market share would normally justify calls to replace the Chief…. Microsoft’s board is either not paying attention or they don’t care…

or a possibly sarcastic response of:

I want to get a Natal and play flight simulator by holding my arms out like wings and running around the living room making “bbrrrrbbrbrbrbrbbbbrrrrrrrrrr” noises.

The comments go on and I think its safe to say that at the present time there is no “Kinect fever” gripping the planet.  Maybe its due to Nintendo being very successful with its version already or maybe its the impending PS3 release of the same type of concept?  It doesn’t surprise me since its been commented on by a few sources that the line up of launch games have a very familiar smell to them….

Kotacku makes the following comment in relation to the launch titles:

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty disappointing list…..We were expecting more from Kinect…..

We’ll wait and see what E3 has in store for Microsoft’s Kinect, but right now we’re not that impressed.

and also goes into further detail about some of them…. WII Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures, Kinetimals (a cyberpet game) to name a few.

So will you want to buy into Microsoft Kinect?  Are you happy giving 360 a stay of execution for the next 5 years? (providing it doesn’t red ring before then)

Sorry Microsoft, I think with this and the Kin, 2010 isn’t going to be the year for creating a buzz.  Lets see how long it stays in the trending topic over on Twitter, and even on Twitter, Im not seeing much in the way of excitement for it, with one user commenting (and as someone always does, to find a derrogetory take on a MS product title):

Microsoft Kinect is a naming diskinect

http://twitter.com/KindleEmily/status/16134252681 and there is a link in that tweet to another less than excited article about the Microsoft “innovation”.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

NEWS BITES FOR WEEK ENDING 06/12/09

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Just a few bits and pieces that I wanted to clear before the new week starts.

Nintendo Sales – Fastest selling console in UK history?

It is being reported that sales of the WII console have exceeded 6 million, which makes it the fastest selling console in UK history. David Yamon of Nintendo had this to say:

the Nintendo Wii has captured the imagination of over six million families across the UK…..We’ll work even harder to ensure that the interest in Wii stretches over months and years, appealing to people of all ages and gaming experience.

But there may be envious eyes from both Sony and Microsoft, whilst many WII parties will be ocurring in households around the UK.  You only have to remember how the PS3 was received on Ebay on its initial days of release (compared to the WII) or simply cast you mind back to the “red rings of death” that the Xbox360 could suffer from. Its ironic that the lowest spec’d of the three current consoles is the most popular, but then maybe Nintendo have done what Microsoft (IMO) cant (very well) and thats relate to their customers.  I’ll let you decide that, but I certainly know what my family will be playing with this Xmas and it certainly won’t be the 360.

Channel 5 now on Youtube!

UK viewers will now get the last thirty days of Channel 5 on Youtube.  The deal was made possible by an advertising deal with Google.  Its not all good news though and it appears that those wishing to watch CSI[1] and Flash Forward[2] will not get them on Youtube.  Instead Channel 5 shows such as Neighbours can be viewed.  Great idea!? Im sure there a millions who would prefer a good Aussie soap to CSI any day.  IMO #Fail.

Google’s free DNS Service?

Google are offering (for those that don’t know) a free DNS service for everyone.  Speaking as an O2 customer, the one area Ive had repeated problems with was their DNS servers offering a service which at best I would call intermittent.  Located at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4, they offer a faster alternative to your current ISP’s DNS (in theory) There have been voices of concern over privacy issues, however Google states that IP address are only kept temporarily (24 hours) and URLs are used to improve the service. Having now been using them for a few hours they seem no faster or slower than any other DNS service I’ve used.  Nice and easy to remember though and handy if, as I experience, your ISP’s service lets you down.  Why don’t I just permanently set my DNS server to a free one?  Simple, I resent having to pay a monthly subscription to an ISP and then permanently using a free service from someone else. http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/ Google are reported to have said:

Google Public DNS stores two sets of logs: temporary and permanent. The temporary logs store the full IP address of the machine you’re using…We have to do this so that we can spot potentially bad things like DDoS attacks and so we can fix problems, such as particular domains not showing up for specific users. We delete these temporary logs within 24 to 48 hours.

Convinced?  Personally I am, but then theres plenty of choice out there for your DNS needs.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

Nintendo Emulation w/ Linux! – All you need to know! (and a little more)

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I have received a few emails asking about emulation on the Linux platform.  These questions were mostly by Windows users who enjoy running retro titles and don’t know much about Linux and its thriving emulation scene.   From being active in many forums I think retro gaming is one of the most popular pastimes of the hobbyist computer user and I think that mainstream gaming of the latest modern titles is moving away from the PC and to the consoles, where patches and workarounds are a thing of the past with consoles really being “plug in and play”.

Many users without experience of Linux will not know how well catered for Nintendo, (or indeed most system) emulation is.  The is one of a few articles I will be writing on the subject as I think a barrier that prevents people from running Linux will be area’s like this.

Of course FOSS/Linux does have its own gaming scene with many FOSS titles looking very modern and being a lot of fun.  Example (which was featured here a while ago) was Alien Arena – an FPS which has a massive following.  Other titles include Eternal Lands (RPG) and a plethora of those fun mini games that everyone has installed on their desktop from time to time.

That being said, this article is specifically about emulation of the Nintendo family of consoles and with that we will press on.

Before we go into this article, it is worth noting that there are copyright issues with running Nintendo Roms through an emulator.  Make sure you have any permissions required.  This article will not link to where you can get roms, its merely a showcase of some of the best software required to run them.  Of course it goes without saying that if you are using these emulators to run homebrew software (or indeed develop your own) then thats slightly different.

Theres not many who haven't played Mario.  Mario in colour on the NES was arguably where one of the most popular franchises began.
Theres not many who haven't played Mario. Mario in colour on the NES was arguably where one of the most popular franchises began.

NINTENDO 8BIT (NES)

The NES was Nintendo’s offering from around 1983 (in Japan) to current day where via emulation there is still a dev scene for it!  Running on a Ricoh 8bit processor at 1.79 mhz however the UK version ran off the Ricoh 2A07 which had a clock speed of 1.66 mhz.

One of the best NES/Linux packages I’ve found to date would be FCEUX.  It is currently in version 2.1.1 and offers a plethora of features ontop of the most important one (NES emulation)  FCEUX allows you to configure up to 4 controllers, openGL rendering and CPU/memory wise has very low requirements using less than 8% of a 1.8ghz AMD Sempron CPU and less than 10mb of ram (in OpenGL rendering).

Speed wise it has low requirements and I’ve had this running quite happily on low-spec machines at full speed.  If you are a fan of 8bit consoles then the NES was one of the more popular choices of the time.

compatibility wise, I can find no issues with FCEUX, every title I have tried works flawlessly and at full speed.  Sound emulation is complete and both full screen/windowed modes work effortlessly.  I have tested the latest source on the following distro’s: Wolvix2(beta) , Mepis 8, Zenwalk 6 Gnome, Ubuntu 8.04, Fedora 11

You can visit the homepage of FCEUX at: http://fceux.com/web/htdocs/index.php where you can download the source or a .deb build.

Moving on now to Mario's 16bit incarnation further cemented Mario's status as a classic.
Moving on now to Mario's 16bit incarnation further cemented Mario's status as a classic.

SUPER NINTENDO (16BIT) (SNES)

The SNES was released in 1990 and was a major upgrade to the NES.  Certainly in the UK it was in direct competition with Sega Megadrive.  In Japan it was called the Super Famicom.  The SNES sported a Ricoh 5A22 processor (16 bit) running at 3.5mhz.

ZSnes is probably the best emulator available for the Linux (and others) platform.  It supports full emulation of the CPU and even the SuperFX chip found in titles such as StarFox.  I have yet to find a title that does not work within Zsnes, and the software also offers the feature to engage in online play (something which was not present for users at the time of the Super Nintendo)   Emulation with Zsnes is, as far as I can tell, flawless.  I have yet to find a title that doesn’t work, homebrew or not and even on a relatively low spec machine the original frame rate is more than matched.

http://www.zsnes.com/

Mario went into 3d when he hit the 64bit console the N64!
Mario went into 3d when he hit the 64bit console the N64!

NINTENDO N64

1996 was the year of the N64, which promised much.  The N64 was in direct competition with the massively popular PS1 and the fact that the N64 was still cartridge based and the PS1 was able to cater for the craving for cut scenes et al, IMO made the N64 on a looser from day one.  That being said there were many great titles available for it and the N64 version of Mario saw his first steps in 3d.  Running off a NEC VR4300i processor it was a far more powerful system than its PS1 counterpart at the time (IMO) and the first true 64bit console clocking in at 93.75mhz

Mupen64plus is the emulator of choice for the Linux platform (IMO) which full frame rate emulation on the rom files I have thrown at it.

Theres a large list of titles compatible with the software.

You can find Mupen here: http://code.google.com/p/mupen64plus/

super_mario_sunshine1b
Mario gets the Gamecube treatment...he's come a long way since his NES days.

GAMECUBE

The Gamecube saw Nintendo break away from its cartridge past to DVD (albeit mini) which enabled larger and more multimedia rich titles to be developed for Nintendo’s console.  Unfortunately on the back of disappointing N64 performance (IMO) and the fact that the PS2 had continued with the legacy started by PS1, the Gamecube had much the same reception as it predecessor the N64.   Released in 2001 and running off a 486 MHz IBM “Gekko” PowerPC CPU it unfortunately fell behind the Xbox and PS2 mainly I believe, because of the legacy created by the N64.

Gamecube emulation in Linux is surprisingly advanced.  The title currently being developed is called Dolphin, which already is boasting an impressive list of titles working on it.

Unlike the N64 emulator (and below) the Gamecube emulator needs more powerful specs, full details of this can be found on the website.

You can visit the homepage of Dolphin here: http://www.dolphin-emu.com/news.php

NINTENDO WII

2006 saw the release of the Nintendo WII and despite the previous sales issues of the Gamecube/N64, it seems all had been forgotten, which massive sales of the WII console on its launch which (IMO) blew both Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s 360 out of the water.   With its more interactive style of play (through its controllers and various addon’s) The WII introduced a new innovation into the gaming market for the masses.

It is alleged that the WII clocks in at 729mhz and unlike previous Nintendo consoles it seems that they are realized that their own “custom” media was not needed this time and have opted for DVD (like the other “players” in its class)

Surprisingly WII emulation has already begun and is coming along nicely.  Dolphin (see above) not only offers support for the Gamecube, but sucess with WII emulation is also present in it.

Again requirements for running WII software will be higher than the older Nintendo consoles.

NINTENDO’S HANDHELD OFFERINGS

Since 1989 Nintendo has offered handheld consoles (although there were single game handheld devices before this).  Emulation of these systems requires relatively low specs since two of the three are now rather old.   There were some real classics available for these systems and even today theres more than one hobbyist who enjoys making homebrew titles for these systems.

GAMEBOY / GAMEBOY ADVANCE

Released in 1989 the 8bit Gameboy was a brick of a handheld console (although still quite comfortable to hold)  running on a 8-bit Sharp LR35902 at approximately 4.5mhz it was a hugely popular handheld that outsold the Gamegear and had a plethora of titles available for it.

It then progressed onto Gameboy Colour and subsequently the Gameboy advance.  VGA (Visual Gameboy Advance) caters for the entire range and is a very good, compact and fast emulator for Linux.

You can download Visual Gameboy Advance here: http://vba.ngemu.com/downloads.shtml

NINTENDO DS

At time of writing this is the current handheld offering from Nintendo.  Its now just been revamped into a smaller (and to quote the MS faithful’s favorite words “Feature Rich” system) The DS runs off two processors, a ARM946ES  and ARM7 co-processor.  It has two screens with the lower one being used for the touch screen.

Released in 2004 it is still going strong with a massive software catalogue.  I don’t think its unfair to say that in my opinion the Sony PSP never stood a chance.  Emulation is obviously on-going with success on many titles to date.  You will need a reasonable spec machine to get a decent emulation experience out of DeSmuME (imo the best DS emulator on Linux) but then “reasonable spec” in the world of Linux is far lower than that in a Windows world (IMO).

You can download DeSmuME here: http://desmume.org/

Some of the many backup/dev devices from days of old.  The 3.5in floppy was enough to hold a single game....oh the memories!
Some of the many backup/dev devices from days of old. The 3.5in floppy was enough to hold a single game....oh the memories!

COPIERS/DUMPERS/DEVKITS

This section is more general and it will highlight equipment that Nintendo probably doesn’t/didn’t want you buying.  Certainly in the UK, since the release of the SNES devices were sold (in some of the independent stores) that allowed the backup/running of Nintendo software.

For me these kits had another purpose, to enable the coding of homebrew titles (a little side hobby of mine) and I recently wrote a review on the R5 (for the Nintendo DS)

The Super Nintendo had a device which was commonly called a Super Magicom, this allowed the copying of a cartidge to HD floppy disk from which the game could run.  Later, the N64 had the diskdoctor V64 which ran titles from CDROM in very much the same way.  Of course these pieces of equipment were not approved nor condoned by Nintendo if used to copy material which you didn’t have permission for, however in the case of the SNES and N64 at the time the internet/filesharing was not an issue to be concerned about and certainly in the UK, market penetration of these items and their bootlegs were limited at best.

The many copying devices for the Nintendo family have many names and whilst (IMO) the Magicom and diskdoctor were generic names for their many clones.

HOMEBREW/DEMOSCENE

The following links may be useful if you are interested in development on any of the above mentioned system. This is not a comprehensive list but will prove a starting point for anyone wanting to get into the scene:

http://www.romhacking.net/

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Super_NES_Programming

For those of you interested in the rather good DS Demoscene (and the Demoscene in general) , look no further than:

http://www.pouet.net/

http://www.scene.org/

and for those who don’t want to download and run (or maybe don’t have the specs for) the demanding Demoscene, check out DTV which has streamed footage of demo’s on many platforms:

http://www.demoscene.tv/

Goblin: bytes4free@wordpress.com