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The Cubist’s Bacon Bits (Archived – June 25th to July 25th, 2014)

Read The Cubist’s Latest Entries

July 25th, 20143:22amMy Game Gear is All but Dead…

After having a blast playing Ristar for the Genesis recently, I was anxious to check out the Game Gear version, supposedly with differently designed levels and different gameplay mechanics.  The Game Gear is one of a few systems I actually had as a kid, and this was the one my parents really went all out on.  I have the nice big carrying case, AC adapter, battery pack, Wide Gear (screen magnifier) and a Game Genie.  All I was missing was the TV Tuner, and well, that wouldn’t really do much good nowadays would it?

I always kept it in good condition.  Even during the years that would sometimes pass between uses, it sat quietly in a corner, free of dust, heat, and moisture.  But apparently it wasn’t enough.  I dragged it out tonight to give my new Game Gear copy of Ristar a go and was met with dismal results.  First of all, neither of my AC adapters seem to transfer power to it.  (I found another one while cleaning up recently.)  Because of this, I don’t know if the battery pack is actually operational or not.  So I dug out 6 AA batteries and tried again.

Oh no.  I was met with dozens if not a couple of hundred dead pixels.  At first I thought it was a total loss, but when I adjusted the contrast and titled the unit right I was actually able to see the screen.  Ok, not so bad I thought, but then I started looking for the sound.  Nothing.  Interestingly enough, a broken Game Gear speaker seems to be a common problem and it’s just that – the speaker.  The headphone jack works perfectly fine.  Even with the headphones and titled screen, the experience isn’t optimal and it’s clear that the screen is on its last leg.  I’m pretty bummed about the AC adapter as well because as we all know, the Game Gear eats batteries like nobody’s business.

The good news is that the Game Genie still works, but that’s about it.  I began looking up Game Gears online and was pretty thrilled to see tons for like $20-$40….and then I read about scratched screens, sound works only headphones, capacitors need replacing…all the while marked as “Good” and some even as “Collectible” condition.  It would appear that Game Gears were simply not built to last, although when I played mine a couple of years ago I remember everything being in working order.  But whatever.

I finally found one that seemed to suit my needs.  No mention of a broken speaker, and a freshly replaced screen (no scratches and less chance of it crapping out in a couple of years).  It also comes with 4 games, 2 of which I already have, but we all know the Game Gear had a pretty crappy library anyway.  Also included is a working AC adapter, so that makes me pretty happy as well.  I’ll finally get the chance to see if my battery pack has any life left, though honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if a rechargeable device like that (which I used heavily as a kid) had finally given up.

Even if it ships tomorrow I’ll be leaving for the beach with my family on Saturday, so I’ll have to wait a while to play it.  I hope it’s as shiny and refurbished as the description.  Man I hate it when shit breaks.

July 23rd, 20148:01amMicrosoft, You’re Really Starting to Piss Me Off (Or Did You Ever Stop?)

You know, I still remember how excited I was when I received my first Xbox 360 from my then-wife.  As it turned out, we took it with us on a short trip around the holidays, and as I got ready to play Halo 2 for the first time, all kinds of confusing shit popped up at me about a hard drive.  Well that was a disappointment.  My spouse at the time had made the error that undoubtedly hundreds if not thousands of parents and other non-gamers attempting to cater to their gamer loved ones have also made.  That’s right, it was a nice, new, bright and shiny Xbox 360 Arcade.  

A few days and $75 later, we had a rather small, used hard drive.  Then of course I had to create accounts and refuse to set up internet connections and all kinds of crazy shit before I could proceed to shoot aliens, but in time I got used to it and for a while there, the 360 got a lot of use between the two of us as well as frequent house guests.  During the pre-full-ensemble Guitar Hero days, I was adamant about investing in PS2 hardware, but by the time I saw how sluggish Aerosmith was beginning to run, I made the jump to the 360 by the time of World Tour.  

In time I replaced what PS2 releases I could (a no-go for Rocks the 80’s and the very first Guitar Hero) and then went on to delve fully into Rock Band as well (and Band Hero, and DJ Hero (which I’m kind of gettin’ a hankerin’ to play)).  Man, I love fake plastic rock.  Unfortunately, living with my parents precludes my regular enjoyment of said games.  They can’t hear an alarm clock going off for an hour or the phone ringing 17 times in a row, but the minute my stereo hits “14” it’s all over.  My point is that I did love the 360 and would still give it some love if I could, but about a month after I moved back home some 3 and a half years ago, I got my very first Red Ring of Death.

So I picked up a used one for, I don’t know, at least $160 at GameStop near the 2011 holiday season.  Over the years I’d finally set up an internet connection and downloaded songs to feed my obsession, but it wasn’t just as simple as moving the hard drive.  I had to transfer all the licenses, or else I’d only be able to use the content under my Xbox Live gamertag.  Well that wouldn’t do, because long before then I’d made all my progress and high scores and whatnot under the local “Patrick” gamertag.  After tirelessly searching the internet, I found some shit about DRM tucked thoroughly away on Microsoft’s website.  Without native wireless support on my “new” 360, I had to drag the console and a fucking TV up to the computer (this was before I had a laptop of my own and had to use my parents’ desktop since mine had gone to storage after the move), fiddle endlessly with the network settings so that the 360 could connect, and finally everything seemed to be in order.

Well everything was good for a little while, until I started picking up newer 360 games like Halo Wars and Rage.  Boy did that fan kick up a racket.  I had to turn the TV up to get over that damn noise.  My GameStop warranty on the 360 expired after 2 years, and about 2 months after that, I got RRoD‘ed again.  So I left it alone for quite some time, at least until this past holiday season.

I figured that with the Xbox One out, 360s would take a price drop, not to mention much nicer 360s were on the market that included Kinect.  So I bought one, brand new, and even managed to transfer my hard drive from the old casing to the new (and wrote about doing so here at The Bacon).  Everything’s fixed, right?  After all, according to Microsoft, RRoD is virtually non-existent since the release of the Elite and Slim models.  Well almost.  Now I have a bunch of electronic red tape to jump through, starting around the end of January.

I knew from last time that I had to go through the whole DRM thing, so as the holidays settled down, I got ready to push through the terrible process.  Luckily, now knowing the terminology and not having only “I can’t play DLC on gamertags that aren’t my Xbox Live gamertag” to search for, I found the DRM transfer pretty easily.  Unluckily, it’d been so damn long since I’d done anything that Microsoft wanted all kinds of account verification from me.  You’d think I had nuclear launch codes in my possession with all the shit I was forced to do both on the computer and the console.  I gave them my phone number, even managed to remember my password from way back, but a more serious problem was on the horizon: I had to have access to the email account that the gamertag was associated with.

Guess what?  I no longer used the email address.  Hadn’t used it for 2 years or more.  Just to make sure I tried to access it, but it had long since disappeared from disuse.  What now?  Through a convoluted and tiring process, I managed to verify the account by other means, but it meant waiting a full 30 days.  So I waited, got the email, did my thing, hooray I can now sign in and deal with DRM shit.  Done.  Well maybe.  Apparently, even though I was able to verify my previous account with a different email, it didn’t mean that the gamertag was now associated with that email.

So what was the logical next step?  Well, that would be getting my Xbox Live gamertag for the 360 the hell away from that email address.  After much searching, I though I had it figured out.  So I got ready with another email address to use, but goddamnit, you know what happened?  Microsoft went and automatically assigned me a gamertag as soon as I signed up.  At this point I was getting really, really pissed.

Finally, I found some more crazy instructions and was able to create a totally throwaway email thanks to Microsoft that would assist me.  See, the thing is, I would have to move the gamertag away from the email I originally wanted to use to an all new email.  This would free up the one I wanted, and I could then move the gamertag I wanted.  So I was all set and ready to go.  But wait.  Something wasn’t working.  Oh, right, I had to go and download this totally made up gamertag to the my 360 before I could do anything!  Ok, that was easy, done.

Fuck, why can’t I switch the gamertags and emails around now?  Oh, thanks Microsoft, I have to wait another 30 fucking days after downloading the gamertag before moving it.  Admittedly, it probably took me more like 60 days to get back around to it, which just so happened to be tonight/early this morning.

Ok, time to end this once and for all, right?  I moved the gamertag from the email I wanted over to the empty throwaway email.  No problems.  Now I had one more thing to do, and that was move my precious gamertag over to the now-empty email address that I can actually access.  Guess what?  It didn’t work.  More fucking errors.

I finally found the answer, and as it turns out, you can’t move more than 1 gamertag every 30 days.  FUCK!  So now I have to wait another 30 days.  Had I known this, I would’ve just moved my “real” gamertag to the throwaway account just so that I could at least have access to the email.  But no, I was led to believe that this was going to be some painless switcheroo.  What’s so fucking stupid about it is that you can’t straight up disassociate a gamertag from an email address, nor can you just delete the gamertag.  You can only delete the entire account or move the gamertag, but there’s no “only removing the gamertag.”  How dumb is that!!??

So here I am, like 6 months later, trying to straighten out an Xbox Live account that I’ve had for years and years, and it still isn’t over.  I’d like to think that maybe a few irate phone calls could straighten all of this up in a few minutes, but I’d probably be redirected to some goddamn call center in Bangladesh, and I figured I might could even lose the account altogether.

All of this for some extra sewer levels in Rage and a couple dozen Rock Band and Guitar Hero songs….that I fucking paid for in the first place…damn you Microsoft.  Just when I finally think that we’re past all the anxiety inducing hardware failures, you throw all of this “account security” mumbo jumbo at me, and let me tell you, it’s not much making we want to play the 360 or the Xbox One, because whenever I think of “Xbox” I get nauseous, nervous, and a headache.

Motherfucker.

July 19th, 20149:55pmTo-Do List Not Getting Done

I have like, video gaming ADD.  Updates in blue.

  • Play Astal like I told David I would… – This is next!
  • Play some CD-i games, specifically…
    • Link: The Faces of Evil
    • The Wand of Gamelon
    • Zelda’s Adventure Well, I played a little bit.
    • Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds (unfinished/cancelled prototype; somewhat playable)
  • Finish Mirror of Fate so that I can move on to Lords of Shadow 2 – And then this…  Working on it; it’s just not grabbing my interested like LOS 1 did…
  • Play and review arcade-only Mario Kart games that I worked hard to put on the Wii  1 Down, 1 to Go
  • Finish up all the Castlevania games, including 2 for the PlayStation 2, 3 for the GBA, and 2 for the DS that I haven’t played. – Or maybe these…?
  • Catch up on some of the mounds of a few of the Kirby games I’ve been amassing. – Followed by these…
  • Keep plugging away at several of these motion control games in an attempt to do some serious comparisons between the games and motion peripherals….been putting a lot of time recently into Kinect Sports Season Two, Wii Sports Resort, Kinect Sports Rivals, and also plan on getting down with Kinect Sports, Sports Champions, Wii Sports.  If only they’d go ahead about put the PS4’s PlayStation Camera to good use…
  • Burn Game Guru for the 3DO and cheat like hell
  • Dig into the piles of Project Obscure material that I promised myself I’d get to.  I figure I’ll be covering this base pretty good for now with the new additions.
  • Start collecting the 10 North American Virtual Boy games I don’t yet have.
  • Find and buy a Virtual Boy link cable…but there doesn’t seem to be any floating around.  However, there are a few pages out there with instructions on constructing a link cable, and I’m always down for a fun cable-related DIY project.
  • At some point, I’d like to collect all of the 70ish Atari Lynx games.
  • Perform a hypothetical pin replacement in the NES and write it up as a DIY project.
  • Play Hotel Mario on the CD-i and get out 700th article up!
  • Photograph entire gaming collection.  Getting there, slooowly.

UGH why can’t I ever focus my efforts or stick to a plan?  Just yesterday I’d resolved to bang out 1 or 3 TG16, but did I?  No, I played TMNT II for the 8 billionth time (though I did at least get a review out of it).

July 18th, 20149:41amFuck Technology

So my dad was messing around with a new Angry Birds game (turns out it’s some kind of RPG) and I was planning to check it out on my tablet (it’s a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3).  It’d been dead for a few days, so I plugged it in and checked on it the next day.  Well, nothing happened.  Long story short I tried different cords, different power supplies, anything I could think of, but it wouldn’t come on.  Finally I stumbled across an answer on the web, and it just so happened that it worked.

Apparently when a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 runs out of juice (and possibly other Samsung tablets) it majorly craps out and won’t just come back on.  You can mail it to Samsung, wait 3 weeks, and have it fixed, but the fix is simple.

The idea is to first pry off the back.  At first glance there’s obviously no screws and not even really any discernible seam to work with.  So, with something plastic (as to minimally damage the facade), one has to work something between the unit and that tiny gray border, systematically pressing on little clips to release the backing.  This shit took forever and was super hard, and my tablet endured a few more scratches and nicks than I would’ve liked, but I finally found the perfect tool: a guitar pick.  The pick was sturdy enough to release the clips, thin enough to work into the seam, and flexible enough to work around without damaging the unit.

That was the hard part.  All I had to do from there was disconnect a tiny little connector from the motherboard to the battery and then reconnect it.  THAT’S ALL.  Then it was time to put to back back on, though I think I did something weird to the power button in the process, but at least it still functions.

With all that done, all I had to do was plug it in and it started charging.  Un-fucking-believable though.

July 15th, 20147:34amCheat Devices…er…Game Enhancers…I Love ‘Em

Another pic from my seemingly endless task of photographing my stash.

Game Enhancer Collection

My collection of Game Genies, GameSharks, and Action Replays (sans duplicates). Note the absence of the 3DO’s Game Guru; although I don’t own an original copy, I do have one burned.

July 14th, 20143:51amStrangely Busy

For a dude with no job, I have been crazy busy with boring family shit that I won’t bother going into detail about.  Fortunately, part of it has resulted in me making a much larger effort to turn my piles of gaming stuff into organized stacks, bringing me much closer to putting together a complete photo catalog of my collection.  Things have begun to settle down (sortta), and I got a couple of great shots of some games!

Pokemon Collection

All of the main series Game Boy / GBC / GBA Pokemon games!

Castlevania Collection

My collection of physical Castlevania games. Note the absence of digital titles (Rondo of Blood for Wii Virtual Console, WiiWare’s The Adventure ReBirth, Harmony of Despair on PSN/XBLA, etc.) as well as Japanese only releases like Haunted Castle, Vampire Killer, and the Saturn version of Symphony of the Night, or “Nocturne in the Moonlight.”

July 5th, 20145:07amLords of Shadow 2 (So Far)

I haven’t been this excited to play a game in a long time, mostly because I was so blown away by the first Lords of Shadow.  Making my way through Mirror of Fate wasn’t at all unpleasant, but I was itching to get back to Gabriel in the third installment.

So I started it a few hours ago, though admittedly I’ve been distracted by several things – my kid’s inability to go to sleep, Sharknado, Asteroid vs. Earth, and some member maintenance here on Tha Baken.  However, it’s just not getting off to the start I’d hoped it would.  Normally I consume all sorts of info on a game before I play, but in this case, I’ve abstained from reading almost anything relating to Lords of Shadow 2.  I guess something about the 1st game taking place in the 11th century is lost in 2’s more contemporary (possibly even slightly futuristic) setting.  I was also hoping for a more innovative storyline, but so far it’s looking like Gabriel is again the protagonist.  I’m craving some more Belmont family history though, and it is pretty early in the game, so we’ll see.

There was something alluring about moving through ancient civilizations and forgotten cities and underground realms in the first game, and I’m having a difficult time seeing any such potential in LoS 2 so far.  Oh well, I probably need to shut up and play some more before I start griping and making too many assumptions.  Many sequels of great games surpass their predecessors, so I should be more optimistic.

There is one fantastic thing to write home about though: hearing Gabriel utter the infamous, “WHAT IS A MAN?  A miserable pile of secrets!”  I hadn’t even given a thought to that line popping up!

July 1st, 20147:30amDefinitive “To Play” List (Subject to Slight Changes in Order)

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PS3)
  • Zelda: Wand of Gamelon (CD-i)
  • Link: Faces of Evil (CD-i)
  • Zelda’s Adventure (CD-i)
  • Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
  • Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland (GBA)
  • Kirby and the Amazing Mirror (GBA)
  • Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (Arcade/Wii)
  • More Castlevania:
    • Circle of the Moon (GBA)
    • Harmony of Dissonance (GBA)
    • Harmony of Despair (PSN)
    • Dawn of Sorrow (DS)
    • Aria of Sorrow (GBA)
    • Order of Ecclesia (DS)
    • Lament of Innocence (PS2)
    • Curse of Darkness (PS2)
    • Judgment (Wii)
    • Rondo of Blood (TGCD and Wii)
    • Nocturne in the Moonlight (Saturn version of Symphony of the Night)

Goddamn, of all the Castlevania I’ve played, I’ve still got this damn many to go.  And geez that’s a lot of GBA playing…thank god for the Game Boy Player.  I think this should do for now…sort of…maybe…

I think I’m going to make Zelda games my next mission.  I’ve got quite a few scattered around, but I’ve never made a concerted effort to collect them all.  I wouldn’t mind gather up all the Metroid games too, but I never seem to find any…

June 28th, 20146:32amGames, Games, Games

Wow, I devoted a hell of a lot of time to games today.  And I don’t mean I picked these up and played for 5 or 10 minutes during a commercial, I mean I really dug in.  In the last 24 hours, I’ve gotten down on Hotel Mario (yes, I even played more after the review), Mario Kart Arcade GP, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror (fucking confusing as hell!…and surprisingly difficult), Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland (I really need to give Kirby’s Adventure a once over before going much further), and I topped off the night with over 3 hours of the Heroes expansion for Resogun (believe it).

June 27th, 20143:14amOrganizing the Gaming Schedule

Since I went to the trouble of pulling the CD-i out, I may try to make the most of the occasion and beef up our Project Obscure efforts.  I’ve now got this (mostly) in order.

  • Play Astal like I told David I would… – This is next!
  • Play some CD-i games, specifically…
    • Link: The Faces of Evil
    • The Wand of Gamelon
    • Zelda’s Adventure
    • Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds (unfinished/cancelled prototype; somewhat playable)
  • Finish Mirror of Fate so that I can move on to Lords of Shadow 2 – And then this…
  • Play and review arcade-only Mario Kart games that I worked hard to put on the Wii
  • Finish up all the Castlevania games, including 2 for the PlayStation 2, 3 for the GBA, and 2 for the DS that I haven’t played. – Or maybe these…?
  • Catch up on some of the mounds of a few of the Kirby games I’ve been amassing. – Followed by these…
  • Keep plugging away at several of these motion control games in an attempt to do some serious comparisons between the games and motion peripherals….been putting a lot of time recently into Kinect Sports Season Two, Wii Sports Resort, Kinect Sports Rivals, and also plan on getting down with Kinect Sports, Sports Champions, Wii Sports.  If only they’d go ahead about put the PS4’s PlayStation Camera to good use…
  • Burn Game Guru for the 3DO and cheat like hell
  • Dig into the piles of Project Obscure material that I promised myself I’d get to.  I figure I’ll be covering this base pretty good for now with the new additions.
  • Start collecting the 10 North American Virtual Boy games I don’t yet have.
  • Find and buy a Virtual Boy link cable…but there doesn’t seem to be any floating around.  However, there are a few pages out there with instructions on constructing a link cable, and I’m always down for a fun cable-related DIY project.
  • At some point, I’d like to collect all of the 70ish Atari Lynx games.
  • Perform a hypothetical pin replacement in the NES and write it up as a DIY project.
  • Play Hotel Mario on the CD-i and get out 700th article up!
  • Photograph entire gaming collection.

June 25th, 20149:07pmKeeping the To-Do List Updated

Alright, I guess I’m making some progress, but it seems like as soon as I finish one thing I think of two more I have to do.

  • Finish Mirror of Fate so that I can move on to Lords of Shadow 2 – And then this…
  • Burn Game Guru for the 3DO and cheat like hell
  • Keep plugging away at several of these motion control games in an attempt to do some serious comparisons between the games and motion peripherals….been putting a lot of time recently into Kinect Sports Season Two, Wii Sports Resort, Kinect Sports Rivals, and also plan on getting down with Kinect Sports, Sports Champions, Wii Sports.  If only they’d go ahead about put the PS4’s PlayStation Camera to good use…
  • Dig into the piles of Project Obscure material that I promised myself I’d get to.
  • Catch up on some of the mounds of Kirby games I’ve been amassing. – Followed by these…
  • Finish up all the Castlevania games, including 2 for the PlayStation 2, 3 for the GBA, and 2 for the DS that I haven’t played. – Or maybe these…?
  • Start collecting the 10 North American Virtual Boy games I don’t yet have.
  • Find and buy a Virtual Boy link cable…but there doesn’t seem to be any floating around.  However, there are a few pages out there with instructions on constructing a link cable, and I’m always down for a fun cable-related DIY project.
  • At some point, I’d like to collect all of the 70ish Atari Lynx games.
  • Perform a hypothetical pin replacement in the NES and write it up as a DIY project.
  • Play Astal like I told David I would… – This is next!
  • Play Hotel Mario on the CD-i and get out 700th article up!
  • Photograph entire gaming collection.

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