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Retroid Pocket 3

So, I’ve been pretty heavy on the programming push lately, but it’s not all I’ve been up to. So, back around the start of the pandemic, I started work making a PiGrrl handheld emulator device. PiGrrl is basically a Game Boy Clone that runs with a Raspberry Pi at it’s core. I ordered a bunch of parts and a case, I already had a Pi (I have several), and then the Pandemic caused my parts to take forever to arrive. Plus I probably spent more on it than I really should have.

Then I got a little bored and it sat for a bit, but I did eventually solder everything together, and it didn’t quite work, so I did some corrections and got bored of it for a few months again, then eventually, I got it working. Sort of, some emulators work, others don’t even launch, I am sure it’s a software issue a this point.

So, after a bit more trouble shooting, I got a little bonus at work like I occasionally do, so I just ordered a Retroid Pocket 3. A nice pre built solution that’s configured and well, just works. I mostly play gaming on PC, but for consoles, most of my playing in the last 20 years has been on handhelds. I am pretty sure I actually played and finished almost every DS game I have bought (including GBA), and the completion rate for my 3DS games is also very high. The point is, my follow through rate for hand held games is staggeringly high compared to PC and traditional Consoles. I mean, I bought my PS3 and it came with The Last of Us, which I was excited for, and I still have yet to play it even once.

Anyway, the Retroid Pocket is essentially an Android device with a controller and case wrapped around it to make it look like a PSP or a Switch. I considered the Retroid Pocket 2+ but I wanted the wider screen, so I went with the Retroid Pocket 3. So far, my experience with it has been pretty excellent.

There is a bit of trickiness in tracking down the BIOS files needed but there are guides and resources out there. Anything older than say, the SNES/Genesis era plays flawlessly with ease. Which is pretty expected, since it’s all basic 2D gaming at that point. I’ve had a lot of luck running PS1 and PSP titles as well.

Nintendo 64 games are a little touchy but there are some settings that I believe I can adjust to make it work better. Right now everything has screwy transparency. There are options for some more powerful systems but I’ve not had luck yet getting things like PS2 working. I’ve played several WiiWare games but the Wii itself has the motion controls which don’t translate super well to a handheld device’s controls.

Overall, I am extremely happy with this purchase, it’s really invigorated my interest in older games and gaming again.

What I’ve Been Playing Recently

I came up with a good “post series” name the other day but like a dumb-ass, I didn’t write it down anywhere so I’ve forgotten it. Let this be a lesson to the younger folks out there, you can’t rely on your memory forever, it eventually becomes filled with nonsense like the names of Mario Brothers monsters from 40 years ago.

I use all sorts of reminder notifications and note taking methods in my daily life, but that sort of topic is much more apt for Blogging Intensifies than here. Here, I want to just talk about video games, sometimes. I keep swearing that I write up one of these since fucking January, but apparently not, so here I am. Just ANOTHER thing with becoming a forgetful old man. I guess that’s part of why I like to blog about this sort of thing as well. Because sometimes I forget what I already played 10 years ago.

Wario Land 2

I really did sort of, break the experience playing this series backwards. Wario Land 2 has a lot of elements that showed up in it’s sequel, Wario Land 3. Though a lot less of what was in Wario Land 1, which honestly, feels a lot more like it’s a sequel to Super Mario Land 2 than anything else. Now, I may have been completely missing something here, for example, I found the Select button isn’t mapped right on my Retroid so that results in some oddness, but Wario Land 2, does not seem to have any sort of Overworld Map. You just travel through, level by level. Which is kind of weird because it actually needs the ability to replay levels more than any other title in this series. Each level has at least 2 mini game things that when you fail them, you fail, and that’s it. You’re not completing those bonus items now buddy.

It’s weird, and I am pretty sure I am just missing something somewhere. It’s not a big deal, I really was not going for completion, just finishing the game and beating the final boss.

At this point, I am inclined to say Wario Land 3 is the best title in the series.

Castlevania Adventure Rebirth

I’ve played all or close to all of the “Symphony of the Night” style later Castlevania Games. Not so much the earlier titles. I actually really hate the earlier “standard levels” titles. Primarily because they are all extremely difficult and full of cheap shots.

Fortunately, I can use save states in emulation, which removes that headache.

Castlevania Adventure Rebirth is part of a small sort of series of games by Konami where they remastered some of their older games for the WiiWare line up. I have tried to also play the Blaster Master Rebirth game but it gets hung up on the controls as well. Emulating Wii titles has been really dodgy.

On the game itself, it’s actually pretty neat, though there is a lot of kind of weird choices and puzzles. There are some branching paths as well that I’m not sure were int he original Game Boy version of Castlevania Adventure game, I suspect not. I enjoyed this game, though would have enjoyed it less without save states to keep me going during the tougher parts.

Side note, the resolution for this game is atrocious. I have to assume it’s a Wii thing, because the screen shots from others that I saw online, are just as awful.

Super Castlevania IV

I hate the name of this game, because it just breaks any sort of sorting. It’s just Castlevania IV as far as I care, though I think it’s technically like the 7th or 8th Castlevania title.

This is one I’ve been kind of wanting to get to for a while, but just, never did. The only real thing I remember about it’s release is that it was one of the titles that Nintendo used to really push the whole “Mode 7” thing on the SNES and it had this crazy amazing (at the time time) whip mechanic.

Specifically, the way you could hold out the whip and flip it around with the controller, and use it to swing.

The game itself also really comes off as a bit of an advertisement for “Mode 7”. There is a (single) rotating room (OMG THE ROOM IS ROTATING!), and a single hallway through a tunnel where the background rotates “around” you (also pretty new at the time). Also the giant swinging Chandeliers, which I assume must have been super taxing on the hardware because the background int hat screen is completely blank.

Super Star Trek

It’s worth mentioning this little classic gem. I played two modern remakes of it, both I think by the same person, but it’s an old school BASIC game, originally run as text only. It appeared in the book BASIC Computer Programs, which I actually have or had a copy of somewhere. I always wanted to type it up and try it, but never did, thankfully, others have, so it’s available in the original format, or some nice updated graphic versions.

The premise is simple, you have so many days (turns) to defeat Klingons throughout the area. You can scan the nearby sectors, warp around, then in combat, fire phasers or torpedoes. You also need to manage the ships’ energy and damage. It’s quite easy to die unexpectedly actually. Space is a dangerous place.

It’s really crazy just how compelling this fairly simple gameplay loop is. It does feel like being a Starfleet Ship Captain, minus the parts that are not shooting things. It’s all very elegantly complex while still being simple enough to easily get. It’s a really good game design.