Sunday, September 18, 2022

On-Board v Dedicated: Which Is the Future for GPUs?

 

On-Board v Dedicated: Which Is the Future for GPUs?

The world of graphics processing unit is changing. On-board graphics chips and CPU combinations are challenging the supremacy of the dedicated graphics card. Which direction will the future take for the GPU? Read on to find out.

What Is an On-Board GPU?

On-board or integrated graphics processing units are used predominantly in laptops but can also be used in desktops. Most smartphones, tablets, and smaller computers use an integrated GPU.

They come with a number of advantages, such as lower power consumption and lower price, but for a long time they could not compete with the power or potential of a dedicated GPU. The technology has come on in leaps and bounds since then, driven by the desire for more powerful laptops and smartphones. Now there are on-board graphic setups that can challenge dedicated graphics cards.

The Intel Arc GPU architecture covers both integrated and dedicated GPUs. Though some are more powerful than others they all provide a similar standard of graphics and video output. This is allowing laptops to finally compete with gaming PCs and provide similar gaming experiences to desktops.

What Is a Dedicated GPU?

This type of GPU is mostly found in gaming PCs and high-end systems. Integrated GPUs have taken over the low and mid-range PC market, reserving dedicated GPUs for high-end PCs for gaming or video processing.

GPUs are commonly called graphics cards, and the graphics processing unit is just one component. Many graphics cards have their own RAM to use, dedicated to holding graphic data. These cards are similar to a small computer, with their own motherboard-like card forming the foundation for a GPU, RAM, and other processing components to run on.

The bigger size and the extra help from dedicated RAM mean that dedicated GPUs have more power and potential than integrated GPU setups, but this comes at a cost. Graphics cards are power hungry, and the more powerful they are, the hungrier they become. Feeding these beasts often means more fans in the system and a more powerful power unit, all of which adds to the cost.

Which Is Better?

If you want absolute peak performance at the highest possible definitions at eye-water framerates you are going to have to use a graphics card, or dedicated GPU. Be prepared to spend a lot of money on one, as much as a whole mid-range laptop would cost to buy, plus accessories. To really push the envelope takes multiple graphics cards. You can spend thousands on graphics cards alone.

On-board GPUs are catching up. They are capable of providing great gaming experiences at a better price point. Pairing the right motherboard with a powerful and compatible CPU is often more than enough to play the latest games in crystal clarity. The framerates may not be quite as high, and the definition may be HD and not 4K, but only the most hardcore gamers would tell the difference.

The future of GPUs is on-board. This is the most common setup across all computers when you add smartphones, tablets, and micro-computers like the Raspberry Pi. They will only become more powerful as time goes on and will eventually catch up to their dedicated GPU competition.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story - Signed Blu-rays For Sale! - Brett Weiss

 

Thanks to everyone who has ordered a signed (by me) copy of Playing With Power: The Nintendo Story! The response has been overwhelming (in a good way), so I'm really excited. I was able to put in a big order from the publisher, so I've got more copies for sale. If you are interested in a signed copy of the Blu-ray (I will remove the shrink wrap and sign the inner sleeve), please PayPal $30 to brettw105@sbcglobal.net. This includes U.S. shipping. *****Send $40 for Canada orders or $50 for the UK.

Here's the official description of the 5-part documentary: "How did Nintendo go from niche playing card company to global juggernaut of gaming? This Crackle Original series brings together the creators of Video Games: The Movie and Executive Producer Sean Astin to pull back the curtain on the famously secretive company. The electrifying story is presented by an ensemble of Nintendo personnel, celebrity icons and industry veterans, including Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Alison Haislip (Robot Chicken), Reggie Fils-Aimé (Nintendo Direct) and Xbox’s Phil Spencer."

I'm in all five episodes, and you'll see such gaming luminaries as Nolan Bushnell, Tom Kalinske, Chris Kohler, and Phoenix author Leonard Herman in the documentary as well. The audio/visual quality for the Blu-ray is AMAZING, and it's loaded with special features. 5-hour series, plus extras!

***Here are some Amazon reviews:

*I LOVE this docuseries!!! I had no idea the story of Nintendo—this was so fun! This gave so many nostalgic moments for me! Very, very, well done!!! Can’t wait to see the behind the scenes and extra footage! ~ Casey Danner

*Wow! I wasn't expecting to get teary-eyed at a video game documentary but this got me!! Lots of great, surprising facts about the history of Nintendo mixed with emotion, nostalgia, and fun. Took me back to my NES and SNES days in the 80's and 90's. My wife and kids dug it as well. Highly, highly recommend this for anyone who's ever played a Nintendo!! ~ Amazon Customer

*It's a great series! What I really like about it was that the story goes way deeper than Mario or anything you think about when you hear the word "Nintendo." The company has a long and deep history and this series showcases it perfectly! Highly recommend that you take the time to watch it. ~ Craig Shetterly

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Retro Video Game Conventions in 2022 - Brett Weiss

There are TONS of great retro gaming cons all over the country this year, and I will be at several, including some this summer. I love gaming cons for their vendor rooms, free play arcades, live music, VIP parties, and more. I’m also a huge fan of traveling to various cities and exploring on foot and checking out the local restaurants. To keep things organized, and to let you guys and gals know where and when I’ll be, I decided to post my schedule below.

I hope to see you at a video game convention very soon! Come by my booth, and let’s talk games! If you’re a writer, or you enjoy reading about video games and pop culture, let’s discuss!

Earlier this year, I did the Midwest Gaming Classic. I had an absolute blast hanging out with John Riggs, Metal Jesus Rocks, John Hancock, Adam Koralik, and others, and it was an incredible show with a huge arcade. I sold a bunch of books and had fun game hunting and exploring Milwaukee. You can check out my video report on the con HERE.

***And here's where I'll be in the near future. Click on the title of each show to go to the website.

Southern Fried Retro Gaming Expo in Atlanta, July 15-17. I’m going to do a panel on The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 at 7:00 PM that Friday night. This will be my second time in Atlanta, but my first time at SFRG. My wife Charis will be going with me, and I’m looking forward to seeing other guests like Mr. Wright Way and ZapCristal, who are also based in Texas. Can’t wait!

Classic Game Fest in Austin, July 23-24. I do this show every year and always sell a ton of books and other merch. Hosted by Game Over Videogames owner David Kaelin, who has been a big supporter of my work, it’s the biggest retro gaming con in Texas and one of the most enjoyable in the country. This show is always extra special because we visit my niece Cara and her family while we’re in town.

Game On Expo in Phoenix, Aug. 5-7. This will be my second time doing Game On Expo, and I’m super stoked to go back! It’s a massive show run by John Lester, a good friend of mine and one of my favorite YouTubers. Like Classic Game Fest, they have live music, a big vendors room, an excellent arcade, and cool guests.

Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, Aug. 12-14. I’ve been to New York twice, but this will be my first time visiting Long Island, and I’m super excited to check out the city and the gaming con. They contacted me years ago about being a guest at the show, and I’m glad it’s FINALLY going to work out with my schedule. As with SFRG, I'll be doing a panel on the Crash. I’ve heard GREAT things about this con!

Portland Retro Gaming Expo, Oct. 14-16. Returning after a two-year pandemic absence, the long-running PRGE is one of my favorite expos. The always have excellent panels, a fantastic vendors room, and a terrific auction with lots of neat artifacts for sale. Cool guests as well. This show is the closest thing in spirit to the late, lamented Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. It has that great super-old-school vibe!

Retropalooza in Arlington. Texas, Oct. 22-23. I had to miss this show last year because I was doing CORGS in Ohio, but it usually works well for me because it’s only about a half-hour from my house. Plus, they always have a great vendors room with tons of games. It’s always good catching up with 8-Bit Eric, Tyler Esposito, Okchief, and various other guests when I do this con.

TORG Gaming Expo in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 5. Not to be confused with CORGS, which is also in Columbus, TORG is a show that I’ve never done before, but the promoters have absolutely convinced me it’s going to be great. They’ve done a spectacular job getting the word out on the con, and they are going to have a massive gaming museum with tons of rare consoles. I’ll be there with John Hancock for the TORG Gaming Power Exhibit, talking video game history with attendees.


Houston Arcade Expo, Nov. 11-13. I love this show, which is always a big party. It’s a total blast! I had so much fun last year hanging out with Rampage creator Brian F. Colin and Sam “Flash Gordon” Jones, and they had a killer arcade and swap meet. I'll be doing this show again this year, thanks to an invitation from organizer Keith Christensen. Thanks, Keith!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Great Video Game Find! Plus -- First Gaming Console!



I recently uploaded a video about a cool gaming find my wife made in an unlikely place. I show off my find as well, and read a fascinating article about video games from 1983. When I posted a link to that video on Facebook, a “Top Fan” of my FB page named Keith Maldonado left a great comment: a story of how he got his first video game console. I’ve reprinted that story here—ENJOY!

Great video! I’m really cracking up at the article’s author…Particularly when he called video games a waste of money! My mother thought the same thing back in 1982. I had wanted a console system pretty much since Atari introduced its 2600 in 1977. Well, my mother wanted to go shopping at Coronado Center in Abq NM, but knew I would be quite bored. I told her that I could keep myself busy with a mere dollar. She didn’t believe me BUT my grandmother took me up on it and gave me the dollar, which came with the lecture from my mother about asking for more money. Well, I had mastered Joust, which had been out a couple months at this point. Well, I spent only one quarter and was still playing when my mom and grandma came looking for me. I was on the game of my life that day! I had put away a few million points and had an unknown number of spare “lives” still to go. Anyway, when my mother discovered I had been entertained for hours on ONE quarter, she changed her mind on home video game consoles. She offered to get me that Atari 2600 (finally!) for Christmas! Well, it got better because we were watching television and lo and behold, Coleco advertised its new system, the ColecoVision! She asked if I’d rather have that. Totally jumped on that (because in the ad, they mentioned an expansion that played 2600 carts… win win)! That’s how I ultimately got my first home console! …no waste of money there! Mom even bought me a cartridge a month and I soon got a paper route to continue more purchases on my own! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Super Smash T.V. for the Super Nintendo - Essay by Todd Friedman

Todd Friedman, host of the Smash TV - The Video Game Facebook page, wrote a killer essay on Super Smash T.V. for the Super Nintendo for my forthcoming book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998. I decided to share the text from the chapter with you guys and gals months ahead of the book’s release. The book will be out in November, and the Kickstarter campaign is doing very well. ENJOY!

SUPER SMASH T.V.

SUPER NINTEDO

GENRE: TOP-DOWN SHOOTER

PUBLISHER: ACCLAIM ENTERTAINMENT

DEVELOPER: WILLIAMS ELECTRONICS

1 OR 2 PLAYERS (SIMULTANEOUS)

“The Year is 1999. Television has adapted to the more violent nature of man. The most popular form of television remains the game show. One show in particular has dominated the ratings.  That show is Smash T.V. The most violent game show of all time.

“Two lucky contestants compete for cash and prizes. Each contestant is armed with an assortment of powerful weapons and sent into a closed arena. The action takes place in front of a studio audience and is broadcast live via satellite around the world. Be prepared, the future is now.

“You are the next lucky contestant!”  -  From the Super Smash T.V. manual

With the huge success of the original arcade version of Smash T.V. (1990), it was only natural for home consoles to jump onboard. The Nintendo Entertainment System had an 8-bit version of the game, and then a 16-bit Super NES rendition called Super Smash T.V. followed. Despite the name change, it is a straight-up port of the arcade classic. (Smash T.V. was also ported to the Game Gear, Master System, and Genesis. For the computer market, Ocean published ports for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, and Amiga).


The concept for the game was the brainchild of Eugene Jarvis, who created various other historically important classics, including Defender and Robotron: 2084. Gameplay is similar to Robotron, and the plot and design were influenced by the 1987 films The Running Man and RoboCop. In fact, one of the announcers’ lines in the game is “I’d buy that for a dollar,” which is a direct quote from RoboCop.

According to the programmers of Smash T.V., among them Mark Turmell of NBA Jam fame, the original layout of the game had blood, but just a pixel here and a pixel there. However, they decided to test the limits and go above and beyond most gory games such as Mortal Kombat, and they did not disappoint. The blood quotient is in a class of its own, bringing many people to the game just to see how bloody it really was. Then, many of these players would get hooked and put in more quarters to see what the next screen would bring.

Unsurprisingly, the arcade game has higher resolution graphics than the Super Nintendo port, but the home game looks great nevertheless and retains most of the blood (only the big bloods sprays from certain bosses are missing). Better yet, the game manages to display dozens of sprites with little to no slowdown. The SNES game isn’t quite as fast as its coin-op cousin, but it’s a speedy game nonetheless.

In a recent interview I conducted with Jamie Rivett, the lead developer of the SNES port, he revealed that he was happy with the game and provided some behind-the-scenes info.

“All the heavy optimizations and work really paid off because the Super Nintendo version was actually a pretty faithful conversion of the actual game,” he said. “We never got source code, but I was able to replicate the various enemies by playing the game, and in some ways, this was more fun than if I had been given the code for everything. The one thing that Mark [Turmell] did give up was the spawn tables for each level. That defined which enemies, how many, max on screen, and what rate they came in. I think this is what really gave the SNES version the authentic feel.”

When I was 16, I absolutely loved Smash T.V. The announcer’s voice, the gameshow-style presentation, and the intense shooting action made it super appealing to me. I was excited for the home versions because the arcade game was taking all my money—it is one of the hardest coin-ops to finish on just a few credits. At home, I could play the game again and again without spending loads of money (except for the money it took to purchase the game, of course). To this day, I still play it when I have a chance. If given the choice, I will always play the SNES version as it’s the most realistic of the vintage ports.

Super Smash T.V. is likely not the first game you think of when it comes to the Super Nintendo, but it is a nice change of pace when you want a break from all the family-friendly, first-party titles like Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

In this hardcore shooter, you are a contestant on a vicious, violent game show. With the cameras rolling, the announcer says, “Good Luck, You’ll Need It!” The action begins with you (or you and a friend in simultaneous two-player mode) entering the first room on the gameshow stage. Armed with a machine gun, you must run for your life in a series of closed arenas, avoiding bullets and bombs while blowing away baseball bat-wielding gangs, laser-firing orbs, exploding tin soldiers, and other killers bent on your destruction. There at times up to 20 different enemies onscreen at once in the Super Nintendo version and up to 30 in the arcade game. There are few breaks to catch your breath as more enemies come out the instant you kill the others. Each arena has different enemies and attack patterns for you to contend with.

Along the way, you’ll pick up such prizes as money and gold bricks—be careful, though, they may be sitting on top of a hidden landmine. You’ll also find grenade launchers, photon guns, missile launchers, and other weapons. After you clear a stage, you will have the option of going to a couple different rooms. Over time, you’ll learn which routes are easiest to travel and which arenas have more prizes for you to grab. At the end of each of the four rounds of play, a boss awaits: Mutoid Man, Scarface, Cobra Head, or The Game Show Host With The Most. Regular machine gun fire won’t work on them, so you must use your special firepower. There are more than 45 levels of carnage, plus bonus stages.

Playing Smash T.V. can be difficult at home. One of the coolest things about the arcade version is the dual-joystick control that lets you move your character in one direction and fire in another at the same time. The challenge was to replicate that for consoles. The NES did a good job of utilizing both controllers for a one-player game and four controllers for two-player action. Super Nintendo controllers have extra buttons, so you can use them to shoot up, down, left, or right while you guide your character with the d-pad. It’s not a perfect solution, but it gets the job done. In fact, it works pretty well.

When Super Smash T.V. was released, it garnered high marks from such publications as Computer and Video Games, which called it “the most awesome home arcade blaster yet seen,” and Electronic Gaming Monthly, which hailed it as a “winning effort that fans of the coin-op should not miss.”

The action can get a little repetitive, as certain magazine and website reviews point out, but most gamers agree that it is a highly entertaining shooter overall.

In my interview with Jamie Rivett, he further described his satisfaction with the port: “All the conversion shops said no to Smash T.V. because they thought it was impossible to replicate on the home consoles. I guess we proved them wrong!”

FUN FACT

After finishing Super Smash T.V., programmer Jamie Rivett realized that he had optimized the game so much that it could run faster, so he added a turbo mode after completing the regular game. After he implemented this, he would only play the game in that mode.

WHY IT MADE THE LIST

Super Smash T.V. is a controller gripping, heart pounding shoot-'em-up that will blow your mind. No cutscenes, prolonged build-up, or rescuing princesses here—just lots of ass kicking and taking names. Experience everything that made the arcade game great in the comfort of your home—it’s a great way to “kill” an afternoon.

~ Todd Friedman, author of Walter Day's Gaming Superstars, writer for Old School Gamer Magazine


Monday, June 20, 2022

Rare Game Boy Color Prototype that Sold for $14,000 in Action! Playing Tetris!

Earlier this year, Heritage Auctions sold a rare Game Boy Color prototype for a whopping $14,400. I actually got a chance to watch the system in action, with someone playing Tetris on it. You can check out my video HERE.

And here’s the auction write-up from Heritage, describing this incredibly cool item:

This is certainly something you don't see every day. A complete prototype board, not for a game, but for Nintendo's iconic "Game Boy Color" system.

Units like this were sent to developers and game publishers for the purpose of testing their games. It was necessary to get the hardware for Nintendo's new system into the hands of developers before its official launch. The unit contains all of the main components of the Game Boy Color system, giving this board full functionality. It includes all the features you'd expect on a handheld system - including a screen, speaker, volume control, IR sensor, and microswitch buttons. For power, the system uses a standard Super Nintendo power cord rather than AA-batteries. We can confirm that the unit functions properly. There's no cooler way to play Tetris than on this! And, yes, we have played Tetris (and Harvest Moon) on it because this prototype is fully functional.

The board sports a "NOA", likely "Nintendo of America", product number. Additionally, the board is labeled as "CGB-STB-X2". This follows Nintendo's standard "CGB" naming convention for Game Boy Color systems, games, and accessories. A very similar Game Boy Advance prototype system does exist\. Its product code of "AGB-STB-03" follows the same format as this Game Boy Color prototype.


Saturday, June 11, 2022

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998 - PlayStation - Nintendo 64 - Super Nintendo - Sega Genesis - NES - And More!

 

Hit a big milestone yesterday on Kickstarter and still going strong!

 You can check out my Contra chapter in the book HERE.

 And back the book on Kickstarter HERE.

 *272-page hardcover book

*Hundreds of full-color photos

*Box art, screenshots and vintage magazine ads

*Production histories

*Reviews, author anecdotes and nostalgia

*Gameplay details and much more!

*Spotlights the greatest games for PlayStation, Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, Nintendo NES, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, and other awesome consoles

 
Thanks for reading!