Man, it has been a busy twelve months here at RGM. We’ve added several new writers to the team, expanded our online presence, and received thousands of likes, comments, critiques, praise, threats, and one really creepy marriage proposal from someone who apparently didn’t realize how magazines work.
One of the best things about writing on the internet is that you never have any idea what’s going to get readers clicking and talking. Indeed, what we’ve found time and again is the stories our staff assume are going to garner the fewest views often wind up raking in a ridiculous number of hits. If any of us could figure out why you all liked this stuff so much, it would stop taking us by surprise. Well, given how surprised we were at the results, we thought it might be fun for you, our readers, to see what the most-read stories on the website were over the previous twelve months. The server logs were consulted, the runes were cast, and behold: the top ten stories you guys loved in 2015!
Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker on the Nintendo GameCube was both praised and damned for its cel-shaded, cartoon style which it adopted in the aftermath of a more realistic look Nintendo used for a Zelda tech demo at one of their trade shows. But one member of the DeviantArt community took it upon himself to re-imagine the look of the game if Nintendo had produced it for the Super NES two generations earlier. Why not take a look for yourself and see if he nailed it as well as we think he did?
In the bygone days of yore when computer magazines ruled the racks and thousands of would-be developers were taking their first baby steps into the world of BASIC, it wasn’t uncommon to find articles, or even whole books, devoted to program listings. Not only could you read about the game in the magazine and see some screenshots of it in action, but you could also spend hours poring over code, trying to figure out why the game suddenly crashed with a syntax error on line 4090, failed to dimension the array you told it to all the way back in line 300, and overflowed your memory each time it checked the string where the player’s name was stored. Later, magazines just included disks with the programs already debugged and loaded on them, and later still we got CD-ROMs full of demos, shareware, screensavers, and whatever else was laying around the office at the time. Type-ins were relics of an era some three decades ago, which is why we were shocked to see thousands of people interested in a ZX Spectrum port of the popular Flappy Bird, complete with type-in source code. What do you know: retro gamers like it older than old school!
Trip Hawkins’s attempt to leapfrog the competition with his console was a few years too early and a few hundred dollars too expensive to succeed when going head-to-head against the likes of Nintendo and Sega in the era before Sony started cranking out hardware. That doesn’t mean it didn’t amass a small but loyal following, and in the twenty-some years since its arrival the Panasonic 3DO’s gaming community has continued to add new members. Thanks to the relative ease of locating the hardware and a plethora of games mostly overlooked by the collecting community, it’s pretty simple to find yourself caught up in the moment once you dive in and realize the system’s not as bad as everyone made it out to be. That said, the community is a mere island in the massive sea that is the retro gaming world so when Carl produced his list of ten 3DO exclusives no self-respecting gamer should be without, we were stunned at the response. This one’s not even six months old, but it was the 8th-most read article on the site (and comes with its own video to boot) for 2015!
We reported on this back in October of 2014, but it’s the story that keeps on giving as retro gamers look for ways to get more enjoyment out of Sega’s black-sheep competitor to Sony’s PlayStation. Part of the problem the Saturn community faces is a lack of good emulators. While you can play virtually any game from any 16-bit system with almost perfect emulation, and there are a number of well-supported emulators for PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and even the PS2 for heaven’s sake, Saturn emulation is sort of a giant sinkhole. That’s why the news that some enterprising hackers had figured out a way to add SD card support to genuine Saturn consoles is so awesome! It’s not for the tech novices, as some soldering is involved, but for those willing to risk a few burns and a bricked system, the results are impressive: games stored on flash memory prevent wear and tear on the optical drive, have faster load times, and play just as well as their CD counterparts. Is it any surprise you tech-headed gurus flocked to this one in droves?
You might think it strange that Mike Kennedy, editor and publisher of RETRO, would sit down with the editor and publisher of another retro gaming site to talk about the crowdfunding efforts and goals behind their new console, but we sure didn’t. While RETRO and RGM might seem like natural competitors, the truth is both sites have a vested interest in helping the other succeed, as we each fill niches the other doesn’t. What did surprise us was just how much Mr. Kennedy, his hardware tech John Carlsen, and game developer Mike Woita, had to say about the system–the transcription of the interview had to be split over eight separate pages out of a desire to keep it easy to read. In addition to the interview transcription, we provided links to the podcast, and even a YouTube audio upload so readers can listen along while they read. The RETRO VGS IndieGoGo campaign might have failed to meet its goal the first time around, but make no mistake: the team is listened to the community, and the next time they go public with their request for donations, they’ll have much, much more to show for it. Most of that’s due to the thousands of readers who watched, listened to, or read this monumental piece and took to various forums online to discuss and dissect it like mad scientists.
Oh man, if the Saturn flash memory storage story hit it big, the revelation of a similar hardware hack for the Dreamcast caused a riot at the stadium. Far from being a simple memory card hack, this monster project completely replaces the GD-ROM drive with a new GD-ROM controller board which allows gamers to connect an external hard drive loaded with a capacity of up to 2 terabytes, bypassing the comparatively small limits of flash memory storage–excellent news for homebrew developers and hardcore Dreamcast enthusiasts alike. Yeah, in retrospect, we should have seen this article’s popularity coming a mile away.
February is traditionally associated with love, and if that’s the case, then holy crap did you readers like us when we announced the coming of the RETRO VGS this year. Details at that time were sketchy and not finalized, but we knew they were using Jaguar molds, and we also reported a few developers were in talks already to make games. Shortly after this, we were asked to redact the names of those developers as nothing had been finalized and the companies involved did not want to promise anything prematurely or set gamer expectations improperly. Naturally we complied–exciting news may be exciting news, but accurate news is what we all should be striving for. We’ll leave the rumors for Fleetwood Mac albums and the Daily Telegraph.
I bet you’re starting to sense a pattern here, aren’t you? Yup, the unveiling of a (non-working) prototype shell for the RETRO VGS, and the news of one confirmed developer (Collectorvision) inspired a whole slew of you to click, click, click and share, share, share. Man, it’s almost like you want news about new ways to play classic games. Who knew?
Oh man, bad news is never fun to report, and it seemed from the first days of their IndieGoGo campaign, RETRO’s forthcoming cart-based system was dragged through the mud, broken on the wheel, stretched on the rack, locked in an iron maiden, tarred and feathered, and virtually every other indignity you could imagine. This was nothing at all like we expected, but it didn’t seem right not to gather the facts and report the news anyway. Here was where we compared the initial reports to what was finally disclosed during the campaign, everything from price point to what hardware would be powering the unit, and saw what had changed, what was new, and what made would-be backers nervous. Not an enjoyable piece to write, but they can’t all be fluff pieces or you can’t call it journalism, and for this we were rewarded with the second-most read article of 2015. What on earth could possibly top that?
If bricks of human shit were legal tender, we could have retired to our own tropical island to drive around in gold-plated, diamond-encrusted Hummer H3’s filled with nothing but Premium Unleaded following the publication of this opinion piece and the subsequent onslaught of readership. What was meant to be a simple, humorous look at some of the ridiculously difficult classics of 8-bit history turned out to be the unintentional blockbuster article of the year. Posted on July 1st of this year by regular “Revenge of the License” columnist Michael Crisman, it not only generated twice as many hits as the number two article, but also in five months amassed more total page views than any other article on the entire site (thank you, Reddit). It turns out old school gamers love nothing more than discussing, dissecting, and debating lists like this almost as much as you like playing those awesome NES games themselves. Did your personal vote for hardest NES game make the list? Take a look for yourself, then tell Michael how totally lame and bogus this list is on Facebook and how much better yours is. He’s a big boy, he can take it.