Hey guys. This is really late. It’s about 10 days old. It’s been done for a while, but just not sent off. Still, it is just letters, so I guess being up to date on the mailbag is no big deal, right? But you’re here to read my letters, so let’s show ’em
Most of these are about the Emulator/Piracy column, with a few late responses to other columns. Surprised how many actually agreed with me on it, and also how many who disagreed thought there was a difference between piracy and emulation, which of course there isn’t, and I have to go will legal precedent and corporation standpoints, and thus I use the words interchangeably. Sorry about the confusion for some of you.
Are you going to review A Link to the Past for the GBA? I got it for Christmas and it has changed from its original version some of which is necessary some of it not. Link now does a “hi-ya” type yell when he swings his sword for instance. But the one thing that gets to me is that the item button (arrow, bomb, etc.) is now mapped to the A button. What the hell?! I have the original and A allows one to rush and pick up stuff, not use items. Who designed this monstrosity? I still love the game but goddamn man I have to press R which would make much more sense to use the item command for than A.
You mentioned Nintendo getting out of the hardware market and going software like Sega. Doesn’t Nintendo have the handheld market though? So wouldn’t the GBA be the place for hardcore gamers, if it isn’t already? I mean it is a nostalgia machine. Not only could they make new kick-ass games, they can port old kick-ass games as well. Unless ports are expensive or something. But that would be offset by non-existing development costs anyway.
Is the PS series always going to have the battle system where you can’t select your opponent? That’s slightly irksome.
Good columns though,
No, I won’t be reviewing Link to the Past. I’m gonna try and look at lesser known titles and forgotten great games. Everyone and their dead granny is gonna look at the new Zelda game, so why bother flooding the market with another review of a port. However, I may do a comparison between the SNES version and this or even a history of Zelda if you are interested. Also, Nintendo will always dominate the Hand held market, ’tis true, and The PS series battle system does improve from PS1. Greatly improves.
To Mr. Lucard:
Being out to sea for the past 6 months (on a
carrier that was deployed to the Gulf), coming back
and reading your piece on which were the greatest RPGs
of all time was really a breath of fresh air. It’s
good to see that someone out there knows what they are
talking about, vice all of the casual,
suckers-for-hype that are out there sucking up Final
Fantasy games just because. Also, I like that someone
out there can look at a game and not hate it for
ridiculous reasons (like the Pokemon series). Like I
said, I’ve been stationed in the Gulf for half a year
until last week, so I was pretty much restricted to my
GBA for what little free time that I had (Pokemon,
Tactics Ogre and the old Final Fantasy Legend games
became friends of mine QUICK), but I do remember
almost all of those goodies. My opinion of the FF
games might be a little higher (FF6 is still my
favourite RPG of all time), and I didn’t even like
Hydlyde when I was a kid (you’re latest article
mentions it), but other than that, awesome work!
See, I have had this theory for a long time that in fact, EVERYONE likes Pokemon and most people merely think Final Fantasy is okay but being that people are sheep, they’re too scared to buck the trend of worshiping pretty graphics with a crap story and engine and hating games that look cute. This is actually the first of two letters by Chris going on here, but I’m only commenting on this one as the other is very well thought out and I’ll let you the reader comment on it instead.
It’s me again, and I just read your take on
Emulation. As someone that has been using old
emulators since about 1998, here’s an educated opinion
The original purpose of an emulator was to
“preserve” older games that are not able to be played
due to age, inaccesibility, and the like. From the
Arari 2600 to the NES and Super NES, these cartridges
just get old (as you already know), and don’t play, or
tend to “scuz” right in the middle of a game at bad
times (like on your way to the castle in DW1 when
trying to save after an hour of gameplay….). When I
first got into the scene, it was with the opportunity
to finally play Final Fantasy 5 in English (I don’t
speak or read Japaniese), and from there, I was firmly
into emulating old 8 bit and 16 bit games that weren’t
available any longer, or were just too expensive
(Funcoland for the longest time had Chrono Trigger for
SNES available for as much as $100, right until it got
rereleased on PSX). This seemed alright to me, since
after all, even if a company is going to re-release a
game for a later system, someone will most likely
still have a working copy of the game (like the FF6
game that I still hold dear), so big profits shouldn’t
However, it was around this time that I saw
emulators popping up for the newer systems, with the
N64 being the most popular due to it’s cartridge
format. Also at this time, Bleem was gaining steam,
with it’s advertising that it could actually slightly
IMPROVE a PSX game’s graphics by tightening up the
polygon count. Due to this, Sony and Nintendo decided
to go after ALL emulation sites, and the results were
noticeable: all of my favourite sites dissapeared, due
to heat from their webmasters, and the ones that were
advertising roms of older games were just redirecting
me to sites that had other purposes in mind. I can’t
say that I blame them, either, with Sega taking such a
hit as you mentioned, and with Sony so easy to make
overrides for (which is why the 7000 model of the PSX
and up didn’t have the ISO port in the back, where
those old Gamesharks used to go). In that sense,
Emulation has become just as much of a shark tank as
places like Ebay is and Napster used to be, taking
lots of research, some “street-smarts” and some guess
and test to find the legit places to get a SNES copy
of Tactics Ogre for under $80.
In short, one could make the comparison of
emulating older games to that of downloading MP3s of
old Zeppelin songs. However, if someone really wants
to get a new disc of old Zeppelin songs, all he really
needs to do is go to the music store and get a CD for
the same price he or she would a new album. With video
games, it’s not that easy, especially for rare games
such as RPGs and Japeniese games that were never
released in English. As you said in your article, no
one should have to pay over $500 for a Neo-Geo game of
Samurai Showdown. However, with backward compatibility
all the rage nowadays, the grey area just got larger –
most good PSX games nowadays are on the Greatest Hits
list, which is still being sold in stores, and the
entire classic Game Boy library is available to anyone
that bought a GBA (though those old cartridges are
hitting the end of their life expectancy). So, where
does convience end and morality begin? I believe (and
correct me if I’m wrong), that a product’s copyright
ends after 7 years, at which time it has to be
reupped, or risk losing the ability to sue for
copyright infringement. With regards to video games,
that pretty much means that every game before the Next
Generation Wars (excepting only the last couple of 16
bit games, of which not many were memorable) falls
outside the bearing of this rule. Anything made within
the last seven years, in my opinion, shouldn’t be
touched, and won’t be found on my computer. If only
game companies would see this as a plausable
compramise (meaning that they would have to renew
copyrights on games that they might want to remake,
like the Phantasy Star games), then the good emulator
sites could come back again, meaning that the
“pirates” could be made to dissapear and not bring
down the industry again.
Thank you in advance for hearing out this long-winded
piece. Your column, like the wrestling pages that
brought me here, is becoming one of my favourite
places on the ‘net.
This is mainly to show that there is a well thought out and intelligent side to the Pro Emulators debate. Chris is correct on Copyright law to an extent. First, realize electronic copy and written copy have different laws. Authors retain copyright until their death and 7 years after it. So no one can reprint my columns until 7 years after I die from scrotum cancer or what have you, unless I give permission. The problem is that Copyright laws in regards to electronic publishing are both new and sometimes unclear. It’s what happens when you have 60-year-old technophobes passing legal precedent over things that they don’t understand. Not their fault, just a minor flaw in the legal system. From what I’ve gathered from various international court cases (Before any of you ask I have degrees in Political Science and English Education from the U of MN. Doesn’t make me an expert, but it DOES give me some background) and read up on in textbooks, Electronic copyrights only hold for 7 years, unless a special case is made, companies are purchased or go bankrupt, or some other special circumstance appears. Now, what I’ve learned from asking THQ, Sega, Sony, and Capcom is that a lot of companies have auto filing for their characters and licenses, meaning that every 7 years they renew the copyright, or sooner if a new console comes out. Thus, Mega Man 1 is over 7 years old, but as Capcom keeps renewing their copyright, it is still illegal to make a copy or emulate the old 8-bit game. In fact, most electronic companies do this regardless of whether or not they plan to make a sequel, just to protect their intellectual property.
Mind you, some companies make mistakes, intentional or not, like Konami’s illegal use of the trademarked and copyrighted name “Alucard.” They got in a nip of trouble for that, unlike Capcom, who went through the proper motions of getting the names right for Gunbird.
As well, sometimes copyright law changes. Look how WWE no longer has to pay Marvel for saying, ‘Hulk Hogan.’
As I’ve said before, the answer to stopping Emulation and piracy is either for companies to give consent to let really old games become shareware, or to re-release the games on the GBA. The latter would take little expenditure or time and profit if they are direct ports, and make the companies’ mucho dinero. So dammit, let’s see a retrogaming bonanza on the GBA!
I agree with you 100%. As a fan of Japanese anime, I get fansubs all
the time to look at stuff that might peak my interest, but when I find
out an American company has the distro rights or see the title itself on
a store shelf, I burn the copies I have. I figure if a company has
spent the money to buy the rights, hire voice actors to dub the thing in
english, the market the show, the last thing I should do is hurt them by
having a copy that I got for free or at a low cost.
Hey man, how’s it going. Your stuff is really good – nice to see some opinions on the site rather than just news reports and reviews. Did you really get 100 letters for ONE article? That’s impressive, dude.(Yes I did actually. 108 was the eventual final count as of today on just that column. The others are about 30-40 letters which is quite good. It just appears I kicked things off with a bang..) |
So anyway. I’m dead set against emulators, and here’s why. I’m a big fan of the “atmosphere” of gaming. It’s hard to quantify, but there’s something about sitting in front of your TV screen with your controller and a bag of chips and just playing the game. Not to mention reading the instruction manual and looking at the back of the box and seeing if you’ve gotten up to the parts they’re showing/describing.
With an emulator, you don’t have this luxury. Instead, you’re sitting there like an idiot in front of your computer with your little Gravis pad playing the game. To me, it’s like the difference between buying the nice Sony stereo as opposed to paying less to get the cheap, half-assed WalMart brand. It’s just not the same.
Now, if you’ve got an import that you can’t ordinarily play, then I guess you’d have to let all of this slide, since it’s either play it on the computer or not play it at all. However, as you said, if you’ve got the option to buy it in the normal fashion or download the ROM, and it’s not one of those deals where you’ll spend a highly significant of money that’s not going to the developers, then my opinion is to buy. This goes for affordable older games, too. I mean, download NHL 95 for Genesis or go to Funco Land and pay $.59 for it? The choice is obvious. Not to mention those old, somewhat pricey, classics that might be worth the money (depending on the gamer). Yeah, I COULD play my ROM of FF2 if I wanted to. But I’d much rather shell out the $40 or whatever the cost and buy the SNES version and play the game as I remember playing it when I was ten years old.
But that’s just me.
Sorry for the length. Keep up the good work. Take care.
Never apologized for letter length to me guys. And also remember, that I only put a fraction of my letters in the mailbag, so don’t think you suck if your letter doesn’t go on 411mania. I just don’t have the room.
I’ve enjoyed the hell out of your last couple of columns. I can’t say I always agree with everything you write, but it’s nice to see something thought out and original. Keep it up bro.
– Ken Anderson
This is just my token letter from a member of the 411 staff and to show I do like getting people who don’t agree 100% with me.
This is just to let you know that I enjoy your articles and hope you continue to talk about older games. I am heavily into the emulation scene mainly for the reasons that you stated, it is extremely hard and expensive to get obsolete hardware and software that works. Emulators are a godsend if you want to play the original Zelda (try to find a cart with the battery not drained).
I must correct something in your article though. It wasn’t emulation that killed the Sega systems, it was piracy. Emulation is the act of making one system run the software designed for another system (eg. NES on a PC).
When these Sega games were released to the net, they were just copies of the games, not emulations. The copies had nothing to do with emulation but with theft and piracy.
As far as I know, there are no working emulators for the Saturn or Dreamcast, though I’m sure somebody is working on them.
Covered this at the beginning of the mailbag. But most VG batteries last at least a decade, and especially with NES carts, it’s not hard to put new batteries in. Finally, there are a dozen DC/Saturn Emulators that I know of, not just download sites, and obviously I’m not going to give anyone the URL’s. Thankfully they are almost all in Japanese.
While I’ll agree that the Final Fantasy series has
been more sizzle than steak over the last few
installments, I think that, regardless of how it got
made, Tactics was pretty good.
But it’s your column, your opinions.
I was wondering though, if you dropped your
requirements, what would your list have looked like?
Zelda at the top?
Valkyrie Profile by Enix would be at the top of my list if I did games on their own instead of franchises. And always remember the Ogre Tactics team made FF Tactics for Square. Final Fantasy makers by far didn’t make the best FF game. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Eat it up fanboys!
Cool, cool, article, and I agree with your stance on Emulators. I
usually go to The Underdogs website if I want any older PC games, which
are in a similar boat-only hardcore gamers want them, the games are
sometimes difficult to get to work, and many of the companies are long
gone. I’m not that sure if emulators killed Sega(they were just too
small to battle Sony and Nintendo in the long run, nevermind Microsoft),
but it probably hurt their business in the end.
And for PC games, one reason companies often don’t resell games that
are out of date is not wanting to offer support for them. I’d love it
if many companies just put up their old games for people to get, but
then they have to support them, and its not worth it. One of the other
reasons is copyright-if something got used outside of the copyright
enough the owner can loose the copyright somehow(copyright law is the
most screwed up law there is, apparently). So if someone ever wanted to
release Burning Rangers 2(a great game BTW that came out too late), if
the game and characters had become generally used, anyone could put out
BR2, basically. I think that sums it up. But a very good article all
in all. I really like your stuff, even if I’m more geared to PC gaming
I know SSI and Ultima collections have been released and done well profit wise, so I’m not sure how true the above claim is, but it’s a very good theory. And PC gaming, huh? HMMM!maybe someday we’ll cover that at 411mania.
As a teenager, I figured I’d be lost on some of your picks and that your
views would be too extreme for me, while I never considered myself a casual
RPG player. I started out at two years old playing video games on my dad’s
NES, so I do have more experience than most people my age who started out on
a PSX. However, after reading your RPG and mailbag columns I’m shocked to
say I agree wholeheartedly and am glad I didn’t start out on the FF PSX games
like my friends to get RPGs(I was started on the original Final Fantasy,
Chrono Trigger, and still remember f’n HYLYDE). I’ve always had the same
opinion on Pokemon(still addicted to the GBC games) and even Persona(!),
which I was able to play through my one freak friend who has thousands of
As a side note, I had no clue about the Phantasy Star thing for GBA. I’ve
had a GBA since July…this isn’t something new, is it? If not I should hurt
Phantasy Star Collection has been out since late November, so no maiming please!
Mr. Lucard (or do you prefer Alex?),
I am an avid gamer and have been since the Atari days (for the record,
I’m 25). I just wanted to say that I really like your articles, and
especially how often you put them out. Granted, I do disagree with your
opinions at times (I’m a big fan of Final Fantasy, but then again, it’s
hard for me NOT to like an RPG…I think 99% of them are great, but I
think that Skies of Arcadia is my fav, just so you know) but still your
arguments are well thought and make perfect sense. In addition, there
are several games that I have yet to play (namely the Persona games)
that I definately will now.
I also have to say that I agree with your stance on emulators. One
thing that you could have mentioned though is the possibility of
re-releasing games. With the GBA out there, we have a near perfect
16-bit nostalgia platform for us oldies. But the companies have to make
the games!!! I don’t have a GBA yet, but I have every intention of
getting one soon, since great games like BOF1&2 are out, Golden Sun is
out, and Phantasy Star I-III is coming out (if not already out). I’d be
very happy if Enix released some of their SNES games (Actraiser, Soul
Blaster, Terranigma, Dragon Quest anything, Star Ocean, just to name a
few), and also if Sega released some of their RPGs that I missed because
I had to choose between SNES and Genesis. Likewise, I missed all the
good Saturn games for having to choose between it and PSX. At least I
could afford to get the Dreamcast and know it’s goodness, but I was one
of the jackasses who did it after they were dead and when it was cheap.
If they had marketed it better, I would have known of the goodness that
is Grandia II, Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue, Record of Lodoss War, etc, etc.
Anyway, just wanted to write to say hi. I think you’re doing a
fantastic job. Keep up the great work.
Thanks Lee! Glad to have another Persona fan in the works. Actraiser on the GBA would kick all kinds of ass! And Enix does Dragon Quest games for the GBC, so it’s only a matter of time before we see some for the GBA, hopefully DQ 4 and 7.
Okay, next up is a decent letter that had a lot of holes in it that I’m reprinting my response to just so you guys can see them. Of course, I realize maybe a small fraction of you pay attention to VG companies profits, business leaders, Quarterly index, profit margins, and law like I do so if I catch a mistake in your argument and point it out, realize it’s not me bashing you or being smug, it’s just me explaining. Don’t ever think that if you write I won’t make you out to be an idiot or retarded jackass. Okay, on with our final mailbag letter.
This is in regards to your 12/27 column of Retro-Grading. I’ll go for the short response, rather than the concise one. First of all, you end up using the wrong terminology when discussing “emulators”. What you end up talking about most of the time is just plain CD copies of the
game discs. You still need to own the system itself to be able to play them, unlike with an emulator which replaces the hardware. The Sega Saturn and Dreamcast were never affected one bit by emulation. Bootleg copies surely caused problems to some extent, but it certainly did not kill the company.
:-) And that’s where a common mistake is made. I go by video game insider statements and legal precedent. By legal standpoint, Emulation and piracy are the same thing. Remember I have friends in Sega, and although I myself agree there is a gray area between emulation and piracy, I have to go by what is official and not what is my opinion. Look at the result between Sony and Bleem for a perfect example. The American courts ruled that there is no difference between emulation and piracy. That they are ONE AND THE SAME, and thus it is correct verbiage to interchange the definition. However, The courts also ruled that although emulation was technically piracy, Bleem was allowed to continue as Sony could only sue if it was the hardware being copied. Bleem merely allowed video games to be played on different systems and thus the games were being bought and no actual crime was being committed. I can easily give you legal briefs from both sides where Sony lawyers come out and say various sites that allowed you to burn DC games or play them on their computer was a major factor in the downfall of Sega as a hardware competitor. However, as I stated in my article, Sega’s crappy business sense was the main reason they failed.
See, you have to put things in a time perspective. When the Saturn and PSX made it to the US, CD-R units were not common things like they are today.
Again, not true. I had a CD-RW drive since the early 90’s, and both systems were out in the mid-90’s. They were more expensive yes, but easily obtainable.
Nearly $500 for the drive, and blank CDs sold for around $10 each.
Again, you’re reaching. I paid a little over 100$ for mine and never in the history of me burning anything has it cost me more than 2$ a disc. And I’ve been making video games since 6th grade and thus kept in the tech cost loop since puberty.
The downloading/copying/etc of games for these systems didn’t start to really pick up until after they had been out for quite awhile. I couldn’t say when, but probably somewhere after the first year. By that time, the psx was already established as the clear leader/winner.
Again, definitely not true, especially when you look at not only the Sony Vs Bleem case, but also at Sega’s quarterly profit reports and commentary to stockholders. The Saturn had both emulation and piracy going on right after its launch. I was able to download a copy of Panzer Dragoon 2 days after it came out on the web. But I chose not to. Thankfully I didn’t, as people I know that did found only 2/3rds of the game was on it.
Even with the copying of games, it was something that was MUCH more widespread on the PSX. I don’t recall Saturn mod chips ever dropping below about $30, due to low demand, and they needed an additional cart to play copies, while the PSX chips eventually were available for a few dollars and were very easy to put in, etc, etc.
This is because it was harder to mod a Saturn and easier and cheaper to buy a ST key instead. Those went for about 10$ USD. And it’s VERY untrue that there was more copying for the PSX when the Saturn and even the DC was alive. Now however, it’s very true. More PSX games have been pirated in Hong Kong alone than the total of Saturn/DC games combined
Anyway, whatever the reason may have been, the Saturn just did not do well outside of Japan. But when you name a good Saturn game, unfortunately, you usually name a game that was only available in Japan. And of course, the system did do well…in Japan.
Again, not true. The Saturn hardware actually sold better in America. Again look at Sega’s quarterly index. More consoles were sold in the US. The problem came to be localization and US companies translating for the Saturn. And only two games I named were actually Japan only: SOTN and Radiant Silvergun. Blazing Rangers, Shining Force 3, PDS, Guardian Heroes, Blazing Heroes, and more came out in English. But towards the end, companies realized the cost of translating into English wasn’t cost effective, especially since the Saturn was dying. That happens with every system on the planet. When it dies, the amount of games translated drops quickly.
It continued on for years there, long after the stores in the US decided not to carry Saturn stuff any longer. I have joked for years, that Sega died when they decided to no longer allow adult/hentai software for their systems. But surely, the dropoff of the system at the same time was just a coicidence…I hope.
Sadly, I’ve said the same thing. :-) But it was a combination of piracy and of course bad business sense. And one Final Fight game for Capcom doesn’t count as continuing. Otherwise the Sega CD is still thriving baby! New games are out for it!
The Dreamcast is a different story. It was a flop. Everywhere.
Again not true. The Dreamcast is still alive and well in Europe. Scary as hell, but true. Every store still carries massive DC stuff and I see it being bought all the time. I can’t explain it. Not by a long shot. But it’s true. And the DC again did much better in the US than in Japan. And once more your figures need to be checked. The last quarter before Sega announced the death of the DC, the Dreamcast outsold Sega in terms of both hardware AND software. However, the company had already signed contracts to develop for Sega and Sony, and thus had to continue with their decision to kill the DC. Which again, was bad business by Sega as the DC was about to become a contender. Not much of one mind you, but akin to the next gen n64 in terms of survival.
It never caught on in Japan, and I watched as many companies started dropping most of their planned titles.
Again, titles weren’t dropped by a significant margin until Sega axed it. There was only an 8% difference in cancellation between the DC and either Sony system at the time, and Sega accounted that for simply due to it being a new system. Sega however was most likely talking out its ass, and once it killed the system, 75% of games announced for the DC were killed. Again, bad business.
When the system came to the US, I saw it as a doomed system. It gained a small following early on, mainly amoung those that enjoy sports games.
And RPG games. And niche games. And of course 2d Fighting games!
But beyond that, just like with the Saturn, many things never made it outside of Japan. Not that it mattered, it wouldn’t have survived either way, as there wasn’t much of a supply of new games coming out.
Again, not very true. It was akin to a Nintendo system in terms of games coming out. Sony floods the market, which is smart business, but Sega doesn’t.
Bootlegging never had anything to do with the failure. Sure, the special CD format was eventually figured out, and copies quickly flooded the Internet for all to download. But this wasn’t until the system had been out in the US for over a year.
Try 4 months.
By then, the DC was pretty much dead already. It may have killed it off a few months sooner, but nothing more than that.
Again, not true. You’re going by rumor and gossip instead of hard fact and evidence. You’re either pro PSX to the point of blindness, or not very aware of the actual business manipulations behind the scenes. And worse, you’re making me sound super pro Sega.
Well, that was fun… A few misc comments now… $200 for the Sakura Taisen box set? I bought it, it was only 180,000 yen, and at the time that was about $150. What sort of bad exchange rate are you getting? :)
:-) I preordered mine and thus was stuck with the price after it went down. When I originally ordered it, there was to be a SW Online demo, thus increasing the cost. Alas. And was that $150 including shipping?
I see that my favorite RPG series didn’t even make your Top 15. I just love the Marl series from Nippon Ichi. Adventures of Puppet Princess, Little Princess, Tenshi no Present, and then La Pucelle. They certainly aren’t games to play if you are looking for difficulty, but they are extremely fun, and funny. …ahh, but Sakura Taisen is definately #2…
Hey! I LOVE the Rhapsody series! I play that game quite a bit. Atlus did a great Translation for it. And I sadly have the English soundtrack in my car to annoy my fiancÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©e. ‘I know that you’re out there and I’m waiting for you! Cornet is my name and I’m a puppeteer too!’ But by verse 3, I’m usually being punched. :-P
I enjoy them. I really do. But to be honest, it’s a decent franchise. Too easy. Battles are boring. And the stories only appeal to Joshi or insane f*cks like you and me. I couldn’t in good conscience put it in the top 15 (but it was ahead of paper Mario/Mario rpg) simply because the other games were innovative and trend setters instead of just fun to read. I managed to get a few male friends of mine to play the game simply because I told them Todd Mcfarlane’s SPAWN was in the first one. And I wasn’t lying either.
As you can see, loyalty to one brand alone or incomplete info can make a person’s argument really flawed. He had a good letter, but this is one of those times where proper writing and nice sounding ideas don’t hold up upon scrutinization He did make some great points that needed to be addressed though! That’s it for this mailbag. I’m thinking about doing a wacky contest soon, but I have to see if I can first. But if Chris lets it fly, get ready to do some really weird retrogaming!