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Game discs and cartridges have been a long-standing part of gaming. In the early days, all you had to do to play was make sure your game worked – usually by blowing into the cartridge or desperately trying to repair a scratched disc with a guide you found online. But, as consoles have moved away from physical to digital, playing your games isn’t so straightforward anymore.
The Xbox Series X is the latest and greatest in Microsoft’s consoles. It can connect to the internet, use Bluetooth, and accept discs just like its predecessors. However, when it comes to actually playing certain games, the consoles cannot escape the internet-focused digital right management (DRM) technology instituted by Microsoft.
The Xbox Series X is capable of playing Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X game discs. However, only the Xbox Series X game discs can be played truly offline. This is because while the Xbox Series X disc is native to the architecture of the console and directly readable, titles from other generations are being downloaded from the internet to the console – the discs only serve a physical license requirement. As a result, if you want to play a game offline – even from a disc – you’ll need to connect to the Xbox Network servers as part of a first-time “update” that prepares the game to be played. These updates are optional but nonetheless required to play the game offline, but afterwards the console can return to offline to play going forward.
To much of the world, being online isn’t a problem. However, military deployments, gaming on-the-go, and certain places around the world may not afford the opportunity to connect to the internet. Until another form of DRM is implemented, offline gamers will have to stick to current-gen discs or find internet access for a few minutes after each new game purchase.
Metroid, a Brief History
A mysterious bounty hunter battling scores of fanged aliens in the cold, dark reaches of the galaxy. A nonlinear platformer with special tools and abilities to unlock new and thrilling spaces. A terrifying adventure with a looming sense of calamity.
Metroid has pioneered the way for countless video games since its first installment, even lending its name to an entire subgenre. With Metroid Dread arriving soon, a celebration of this critically-acclaimed series is in order.
For some, Metroid may have been a relatively obscure title that we only came to know because Samus was so freaking cool in Super Smash Brothers N64. But this is a franchise rich with history and quality.
The Original Trilogy
Metroid was born out of competition, among other things. Producer Gunpei Yokoi and his team in Nintendo’s R&D1 division set out to design a game that could rival the success of Mario and Zelda, created by Yokoi’s contemporary, Shigeru Miyamoto.
But they intentionally made artistic choices that were opposite to Mario at every turn. Everything about the project was punk rock, from its nonlinear structure to its immersive, brooding atmosphere. But the biggest shock was the surprise ending that no one saw coming…
Metroid tells the story of Samus Aran, who travels to the planet Zebes to prevent space pirates from using aliens called Metroids to create biological weapons. Creators were famously influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien film, and even named a dragon-like boss Ridley. At the end of the game, our hero takes off that iconic red robot suit to reveal… bum bum bum! She’s a woman.
Dramatic surprise endings (as well as long intervals between releases) became a calling card for the series. Metroid II, released in ‘91 on the Yokoi-designed Game Boy, ended with Samus annihilating all Metroids on the planet SR388, but taking one baby Metroid at the very end.
While Metroid and Metroid II were well reviewed, the team at R&D1 hadn’t quite delivered a hit for Nintendo. Super Metroid finally delivered that homerun. Created for the Super Nintendo in 1994, Super Metroid blew away expectations. To this day, it’s regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. Then, Metroid disappeared.
Metroid Prime & Beyond
Reasons for Metroid’s vanishing are shrouded in theories and questions, but the franchise remained mostly absent for the better part of the ‘90s. Metroid skipped the N64 almost completely, with the exception of Samus’ (insanely cool) appearance in Super Smash Bros. Unsure how to move forward with the franchise, Nintendo took a chance on a team in Austin, Tx called Retro Studios to bring Metroid back.
Metroid Prime was released on Nintendo’s new console, the GameCube, alongside a handheld title for the Game Boy Advance called Metroid Fusion. Prime (not to be confused with online shopping) brought Metroid into the age of 3D, and Nintendo insisted upon its description as a “first-person adventure”.
Set between Metroid and Metroid II in the series timeline, Prime follows Samus as she travels to a new planet to once again handle those pesky space pirates, who are trying to use a substance called Phazon to their own dastardly ends.
It was a masterpiece. Metroid Prime became an enormous success, selling well and winning game of the year awards from almost every publication. Retro was tasked with a trilogy right away. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes explored the series’ famed Dark Samus baddie, and MP3 brought Metroid to the Wii console. With Metroid Prime 4 in development, the Prime series hangs before us like a carrot on a stick.
While other iterations of the games have been released, including the multiplayer Metroid Prime Hunters and the unfortunately lackluster Metroid: Other M, Nintendo had a project in development for the Nintendo DS in 2006 called Metroid Dread. It was put on hold – until now.
Metroid Dread releases on the Switch October 8, and will be the first side-scrolling Metroid in almost two decades. The game will mark the end of the Metroid storyline, and honor the character of this masterful series. A series that has swum upstream from its inception to become an unstoppable force in the world of gaming.
The Top 5 Best Virtual Reality Games Out Now
There’s a lot of VR games out there right now and let’s be honest, most of them are kind of bad, but there are more than enough incredible virtual reality games out there to make up for it. So what games should you buy first? I would say everything you can get your hands on, but I’ll just narrow it down to my top 5.
5. Hotdogs, Horseshoes, and Hand Grenades
This game at its core is a gun range simulator, but it offers so much content that you can’t help but get lost in the different game modes and truckloads of guns to mess around with. You can roleplay a hotdog cowboy on a mission or play a rogue-lite game mode where you fight zombie weiners. That’s not sarcasm either. Every character in this game is a hot dog. There’s so much humor and obvious heart in this game that I don’t want to stay away. The developer is also incredibly active releases updates almost every week.
It’s Counter-Strike but in virtual reality. What more could you want? Pavlov might actually surprise you with what kind of shenanigans you can get into. It doesn’t just offer satisfying gunplay and semi-competitive gameplay. With easily added mods, you can play Halo zombies or Trouble in Terrorist Town. They make this game a great social experience oddly enough.
This is one of the most influential games to be released for virtual reality. It’s a physics-based shooter that takes heavy inspiration from the Half-Life games. The puzzles and shooting mechanics feel great and having a VR headset crab jump on your face is terrifying. The story is a little barebone, but Stress Level Zero more than makes up for it with their fun, albeit janky gameplay.
2. Beat Saber
Beat Saber is perhaps the most prolific VR game out right now and for good reason. The gameplay loop of slicing through boxes with a lightsaber while the music guides your timing is extremely satisfying. It’s super easy to learn and can actually be a great workout too.
1. Half-Life: Alyx
This should come as no surprise, but Half-Life: Alyx is the premier virtual reality game. Valve nailed the environments, the story, and interactivity. The gravity gloves make even picking up ammo and health a lot of fun. The story is interesting, even for someone who’s never played Half-Life before, and adds new details that are better left discovered on your own. Alyx feels like a completely fleshed-out game where no elements are put to the wayside.
- The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners
- Blade and Sorcery
- Pistol Whip
- Until You Fall
- Lone Echo
How PlayStation Became One of the “Big Three” Home Consoles
PlayStation’s legacy begins with a father, a daughter, and oddly enough, the Nintendo Famicom. Ken Kutaragi, a Sony executive, was first inspired by watching his daughter play on a Nintendo Famicon, a console released exclusively in Japan. You might think that the inception of the first PlayStation was created to compete with Nintendo, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Kutaragi and Nintendo began working together. He was almost fired for this, but Sony president Norio Ohga saw his potential and let him continue to work with their now competitor.
Kutaragi showed off a new sound processor that was better than anything Nintendo had and was able to sell them on using it for their SNES system. Later on, Nintendo would try to get Sony to manufacture a CD-ROM add-on. It was titled Play Station.
Shortly after, the relationship would start to crumble as Sony was aggressively trying to obtain full rights over all titles of Play Station titles and music and film software for a different console. This new console would be SNES compatible and include a new CD format called the Super Disc. Sony was trying to enter and dominate a new market. As a result, 1991 would be the last year they worked together.
On the day that Nintendo and Sony were to announce the Play Station, Nintendo harshly “betrayed” Sony at CES 1991. Instead of announcing the new system, Nintendo went on to publicly announce their own partnership with another electronics manufacture, Phillips. There were still some negotiations following CES, but ties were completely cut in 1992 when Kutaragi said that there could never be a deal between the two companies. Kutaragi and company would continue to work on the Play Station at Sony Music. Sony would finally announce its entrance into the gaming world late into 1993. They got rid of the space and called it the PlayStation X to distance themselves further from their initial project with Nintendo.
Now on its own, Sony ran into a wall. They didn’t have anybody in-house with game development experience. They instead utilized third-party development studios to create games for its system. Sony would later gain the support (through negotiations) of almost 300 development teams including big names like Konami and Namco.
A launch day was rapidly approaching now. Kutaragi was satisfied with his efforts to complete his vision of PlayStation, an affordable system with great performance. The console was launched on December 3rd, 1994 in Japan. The PlayStation would go on to receive high praise and excellent sales for its Japan release and the United States release a year later thus engraving the system into gaming history.
Sony went on to release the PlayStation 2, which is still the best-selling console ever. They have released three home consoles since then and have emerged as one of the three names in home consoles. PlayStation has managed to outsell Xbox every single generation and it all started with a man watching his daughter play games on a Nintendo Famicon.