Your Move

Board games. Video games. Anything but mind games. KMUW commentator Sam McConnell explores the latest (and the time-tested) world of games.

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Sam McConnell


It’s been a long time since the last game in the Animal Crossing series came out - about seven years. I’ve had every game in the series since the original on Gamecube, where my sister and I would sit in front of our TV day after day to visit our village, harvest apples, and cultivate a happy populace.

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PlayStation 2 is the best-selling game console of all time. First released in Japan 20 years ago this week, it sold over 158 million units over its lifetime.

When the system was released in the U.S. in October of 2000, it sold half a million units on the first day, instantly making the PS2 the fastest-selling game console ever. Sony shipped 100,000 units a week for the rest of the year, and availability was still spotty for months thereafter. I asked for one for my birthday in January of 2001, and my Dad couldn’t find one until May.

Sam McConnell

I’ve always been attracted to photography. My first camera was a little 110 film camera that added a Ninja Turtle to the corner of every photo. The problem with that was that, for a kid, film and developing were expensive and slow.

In 1998, Nintendo released a digital camera I could afford - the Game Boy camera. It was a cartridge for Game Boy that had a little round camera pod attached to the top. This camera could turn around 180 degrees, so you could take photos of things in front of you, or take some of the world’s first digital selfies.

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As a guy with a January birthday, my options for a venue for my birthday parties as a child were limited by winter weather. In my mind, after I grew out of Chuck E. Cheese, there was only one cool option: Laser Quest.

There are several games coming out this year I’m excited to play. I’ve been anticipating Final Fantasy VII Remake since before it was ever announced, and I’m also very interested in seeing Cyberpunk 2077. However, last week the developers of these respective games announced they would be delayed - Final Fantasy by a month, and Cyberpunk by five.

Paquitogio/Wikipedia Creative Commons

In the late 1980s, when Nintendo was developing the Super Nintendo, they collaborated with Sony on a powerful sound chip for the console. This chip was a whole new way of synthesizing music and sound on a video game system, and it really helped the Super Nintendo stand out against its competition.

A lot of gaming websites have come out with lists of their “games of the decade” over the last few weeks, and that’s got me thinking. There have been a lot of games in the last decade. Ten years ago, we were welcoming Mass Effect 2, Red Dead Redemption, and Halo: Reach. Now we have new consoles, new handhelds, and even virtual reality starting to make an impact.

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For Christmas of 1996, I knew what I wanted - a Nintendo 64. I had been fed a steady diet of Nintendo Power magazines, which led me to believe that the 64 was the bright future of gaming, and anything else was just an imposter. And I got it! But soon, I had friends telling me about Final Fantasy VII, and Tomb Raider, and tons of other games that appealed to me a great deal. I needed to get a PlayStation.

Pokemon is Nintendo’s perennial handheld game series, releasing on practically all of Nintendo’s portable game systems. The games have mostly been withheld from the home console market, but with Nintendo merging their home and handheld systems with the Switch, it was just a matter of time before we finally got our first new main-series Pokemon title that can be played on a TV. The games are released as a pair, as is customary for the series: Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.

 

Sam McConnell / KMUW

Hideo Kojima is a rarity in the world of high-budget video game production. He's an auteur. The Metal Gear Solid games are all branded "A Hideo Kojima Game." He has a certain sensibility, but there has also always been a sense that he's been held back. That was before he formed his own independent studio, Kojima Productions, which just released its first game — Death Stranding.

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