Category Archives: History

Moments of interest in video game history.

Mega Man Release Timeline

Game Name, System (Release Date)

Mega Man, Famicom (17th Dec 1987)
Mega Man 2, Famicom (24th Dec 1988)
Mega Man 3, Famicom (28th Sept 1990)
Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge, Game Boy (26th July 1991)
Mega Man 4, Famicom (6th Dec 1991)
Mega Man II, Game Boy (20th Dec 1991)
Mega Man 5, Famicom (4th Dec 1992)
Mega Man III, Game Boy (11th Dec 1992)
Mega Man IV, Game Boy (29th Oct 1993)
Mega Man 6, Famicom (5th Nov 1993)
Mega Man X, SNES (17th Dec 1993)
Mega Man V, Game Boy (22nd July 1994)
Mega Man X2
, SNES (16th Dec 1994)
Mega Man 7, SNES (24th March 1995)
Mega Man X3
, SNES (1st Dec 1995)
Mega Man 8, PlayStation (17th Dec 1996)
Mega Man X4
, PlayStation (1st Aug 1997)
Mega Man X5
, PlayStation (30th Nov 2000)
Mega Man X6
, PlayStation (29th Nov 2001)
Mega Man Zero
, Game Boy Advance (26th April 2002)
Mega Man Zero 2
, Game Boy Advance (2nd May 2003)
Mega Man X7
, PlayStation 2 (17th July 2003)
Mega Man Zero 3
, Game Boy Advance (23rd April 2004)
Mega Man X: Command Mission
, GameCube (29th July 2004)
Mega Man X9
, PlayStation 2 (7th Dec 2004)
Mega Man Zero 4
, Game Boy Advance (21st April 2005)
Mega Man ZX
, Nintendo DS (6th July 2006)

Mega-Man-Logo-1

The Elder Scrolls Series, PC

There’s been approximately four years on average, between episodes of The Elder Scrolls series, and we are currently long overdue an announcement on a follow-up to 2011’s Skyrim. It’s been eight years since Skyrim, and three years since the remaster.

Bethesda are surely working on a new instalment of their flagship, single-player RPG, while at the same time faffing around with online and VR versions of TES.

What I want – as do millions of others – is a The Elder Scrolls VI: Worldbeater… A single-player, openworld grind-fest full of scary monsters and magic. Another great adventure into mountains and dungeons!

So what’s it gonna be? This sequel? Where’s it going to be set? What are Bethesda gonna do to top themselves? Who knows?

Here are links to The Elder Scrolls series on The King of Grabs:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006)
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall (1996)
The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)

More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elder_Scrolls

Arena PC 06

Daggerfall PC 31

Morrowind XBox
Battling with skellingtons.

Obilivion PC 38

Skyrim Remastered PC 011

Arcade Special, February 2018

After the success of my recent Commodore 64 Celebration, I’ve decided to do another ‘special’ – this time about old, classic arcade games.

This week (from 14th Feb 2018 onward) I will be posting entries about some of my favourite arcade games. The kind of games that were released into video game arcades, in the form of cabinets, and you had to put money into them to play them.

Yes: believe it or not, that’s what people used to do back in the olden days.

Thankfully, though, you can still enjoy many of these games thanks to the wonders of emulation (and official re-releases). So, if you’ve never heard of these games: go and check them out. MAME, or MESS, or CoinOps. They’ll do the trick.

Anyway: enjoy this week’s Arcade Special!

Here’s what was published this week:
Rainbow Islands,
Cadillacs and Dinosaurs,
Space Harrier,
Defender,
Paperboy,
The Outfoxies,
Joust,
Xybots,
Star Wars,
Operation Wolf,
Alien Syndrome,
Smash TV,
Donkey Kong,
Donkey Kong Jr.,
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior,
Atomic Runner Chelnov,
Ghosts ‘N Goblins,
Ghouls ‘N Ghosts,
Commando,
After Burner,
Bionic Commando,
Total Carnage

The King of Grabs

System Shock 2, PC Zone Review

This is the world exclusive first review I did of System Shock 2 for PC Zone magazine back in 1999, showing the original grabs.

I knew I was down to review it, but hadn’t seen the game moving until I got the review copy. I sat in a darkened room for five days, shitting myself, playing the game, grabbing it and writing the review.

Back in the office the editor asked me for a coverline. “A masterpiece unveiled?” I suggested. It stuck.

System Shock 2 IS a masterpiece!

Grabbing: It’s a healthy obsession

Is there such a thing as a “healthy” obsession? Some would argue not.

I would argue that an obsession that was creative, and did no harm to anyone else, was not really unhealthy.

Some might argue that playing games too much in itself was unhealthy (I read today that the World Health Organisation added “Video Gaming Addiction” to its list of recognised ailments), and I would agree, to a degree, although I don’t think that I am playing games too much. I am reasonably sensible, and don’t play video games more than I think is healthy. Actually, I don’t play video games enough!

Every time I play games now… Every time. I get into “grabbing mode” and try to get some good screenshots. If I get a particularly good batch I might upload one or two to my Steam profile. The rest go into my Games Grab Archive – my master folder, containing all of my grabs. Listed by system, then alphabetically. Then noted with the year and system for easy searching. I just had a quick look and it is 150GB in size, and contains well over half a million files. And that’s only the stuff that’s complete. There are a few GB of work-in-progress files in the system as well.

Where did it all go wrong for me? I’m laughing here, although I am wondering when I first became obsessed with grabbing.

I guess it was in my first job. As a Staff Writer on a Super Nintendo magazine for Maverick Magazines in 1993.

The King of Grabs' desk back in 1993
The King of Grabs’ desk back in 1993.

Part of the job involved sourcing visuals for associated reviews, walkthroughs and features. To do this we would ‘book’ time on an Apple Mac which had a video capture card installed. The Super Nintendo would go into the capture card inputs and the game would be seen in a window on the Mac monitor. Then it was a case of playing the game in the window, then clicking “grab” in the capture card software and saving the resulting file to the hard drive. That was: if the grab was good enough. If the game wasn’t still when the grab was taken you would often get horrible ghosting on the image. It was a huge pain in the butt if a game didn’t have a pause mode. For a few games that wouldn’t pause, we were forced to deliberately crash the game on a wobbly Action Replay card to freeze the screen. Then get the grab. Then restart the game again for the next grab.

In this first job for me, the toughest grabbing jobs were always the ones making the stitched-together level images for walkthroughs. The ones where you take 500 grabs, then stitch them together in Photoshop, and in the end you have a single graphic of an entire level. Those kind of jobs were the ones that made grabbing an obsession. The ones that were basically four or five straight days of grabbing, and a tough design challenge to undertake (from the point of view of concentration required). To make it through them you had to be determined and methodical. Of course: getting paid to do the job helped too!

Around the same time I also became obsessed about grab quality. I could see that our office Super Nintendo grabber wasn’t as good as the one our sister Sega Megadrive magazine used. Our screenshots were blurrier, and had more colour bleed (where the colours seep into each other due to the nature of the RF video signals used back then), and I wasn’t happy about it. I started thinking about better ways to get screenshots.

Salvation came in the form of promotion: to Deputy Editor of a new PC games magazine, that the same company where launching. From there I discovered Screen Thief and built-in grabbers, and beyond. And it was a welcome change of direction!

I’ll be talking more about my obsession with grabbing, and grabbing techniques, over the coming year. This blog is not JUST an endless parade of screenshots!

The King of Grabs

Early Macintosh video capture grabber 1993
The very same early Macintosh grabber that I used back in 1993. Here being eloquently modelled by Richard.