Oculus bought by Facebook for $2 Billion.

Last night, news came through that Facebook bought Oculus, famed for the ‘Oculus Rift’, for $2 Billion.

Breaking that figure down, it would consist of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock.

Mark Zuckerburg announced the news on his Facebook profile, and in a blog post. His reasons for purchasing the company were:

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” said Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Oculus will not be moving to Facebook’s campus in California, rather they will stay where they have been since the beginning, and use the funding to set out prototypes and mass improvements to the final consumer model of the ‘Oculus Rift’ which could be released next year.

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My Link to the Past: Super Mario Land 2

mariolandbox

When growing up, I wasn’t just set to one brand and their allegiance. As I’ve said in previous ‘Past’s, I’ve had a Game Boy and a Mega Drive, so at a young age I was shown nearly aspects of what games from Nintendo and Sega were being released.

With Mario, some in my time discovered him through the Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64, whereas some discovered him through Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo.

Having a Game Boy, I was introduced to it by Super Mario Land 2, a fully featured Mario game for the handheld space.

I received the game when the Game Boy arrived in the Christmas of 1995, where I was introduced to Mario and the power ups that he is known for.

I was recently home in Lincoln, and going to the attic, I found the black case where all the game boy games of past were, along with my original Game Boy. A wave of nostalgia hit me suddenly, and slotting the cartridge in, hearing the start up sound, and even seeing the save that I’d left for 17 years was still working, I felt as if I’d suddenly gone back to 1996. Which is why, this month could only be for Mario Land 2.

When you begin the game, you’re brought to a world map. Instead of a ‘World 1′ and the continuous  linear path introduced in Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, here you can choose how to go about finishing the game. If you want to start at the tree world first, then you can. Or the haunted world? Why not. It was a new feature I never knew of that suddenly seemed obvious to me. Before this game, it was only Sonic 3 as a platformer. Crash Bandicoot and Pandemonium was yet to be released, so why couldn’t I choose my own path to finish the game? It was a great feature, and to my knowledge, the only game since in a Mario game that has given this choice to the player.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 2014-03-25 15.35.04

The simple story is about Mario being kicked out of the castle by Wario, in his first appearance, and Mario now has to collect six coins to gain back access to the castle.

But I’m not aware of anyone who plays a Mario game only for the story.

There’s six ‘zones’ which you can access from the start, which are:

  • Space
  • Underwater
  • Haunted
  • Mechanical
  • Tree
  • House

There are up to six stages in each zone, with a boss at the end that relates to the zone. There’s also hidden paths that reveal new levels.

world gif

The power ups are the same as the console equivalent, with the mushroom, fireball and star power ups all present. Instead of a cape or tail, it’s a rabbit, which allows Mario to float and glide. The only downside to this, is that with repeated pressing of the ‘A’ button will cause Mario to not lose any height, and can easily glide through the level if the player wished.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 2014-03-24 16.11.25

Once the six coins have been collected, the final stage is the castle, where a final confrontation with Wario awaits.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 2014-01-04 18.51.38 Screenshot 2014-03-24 14.56.20

As it was released in 1992, the classic monochrome exists throughout, so instead of the bright, vibrant colours that is present throughout the Mario games is absent, but instead the animations and the charm of the series mostly replaces that. There were plans for a ‘DX version’ of Mario Land 2, which would have given the game a full colour remake, similar to Links Awakening, but it was unfortunately cancelled. A little known fact, is that in every Game Boy Color, there was a small set of stored routines that would place correct colours in certain games, and this was one of them. For example, the mushroom power up is red in the right places, while the tree world has correct placements of green and yellow.

This also had the save system, where it would automatically save whenever you would complete a level. You had three save slots, and by pressing select, an ‘Easy Mode’ would be enabled, although the final stage of the castle is the only stage where major differences in its difficulty are noticed.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 2014-03-24 16.07.48

I remember constantly playing the game, but also wondering what game came before this, as it does have ’2′ in the name.  The first game is more reminiscent of the first Mario Bros. game, with no save points and the difficulty significantly ramped up.

Since then I’d discover Mario on other consoles such as the N64 with Super Mario 64, then Super Nintendo with Super Mario All Stars.

Overall, it was the game that brought platformers on a mobile device into the mainstream. Even though a Mario game came before it, this was the game where innovations such as battery saving, plus power ups and designs in line with the games of the console variety made it accessible to players of Mario games before.

It’s a game that brings me a great deal of nostalgia everytime I discover it, but it also shows me how Nintendo have been able to keep the standard of Mario games so high in the past 25 years. Whereas with Sega and Sonic, there’s been many misfires, such as Sonic 06, and mobile efforts of their console counterparts such as Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 2014-03-25 15.26.43

But it does seem to be improving, with the remasters of Sonic 1 and 2 for mobile devices last year, with the rumoured Sonic 3 and Knuckles to follow sometime this year.

In the meantime, if you want to see how Mario solidified his presence on the mobile platforms after conquering the consoles, Super Mario Land 2 would be a fantastic start to choose from.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 2014-03-24 16.12.53

 

Gallery:

 

I interview Ed McMillen.

edI interviewed Ed for Platform Magazine.

It’s an audio interview at an hour and a half, but a good one!

We go through a lot of topics, each one in detail and some answers you may not have heard or read before.

Enjoy.

Link.

A new look for Platform Magazine.

newlook

 

So much better than the site before. Platform Magazine is Nottingham Trent’s student magazine that I write for, and I offered to give them a new design based on MH-Themes.

You can click the image and it’ll take you to the new site.

Was fun to do. Enjoy!

My Link to the Past: Sonic 3

Screenshot 2014-02-01 17.25.53

At certain times throughout your life, you remember a variety of moments that are incredibly important to you, and 25th December 1994 was one of mine. It’s how my love of video games began, from the beginning to now writing about them. That moment was when I first played Sonic 3.

I’m lucky in the fact that there’s a picture of that day, capturing the moment.

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Why I think the ‘Next Big Thing’ is not a Watch or Television.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve read and heard constantly of what people want as ‘the next big thing’.
Maybe we’ve all been spoilt over what has been given to us, in the form of iPhones, iPods, and better access to our favourite TV Shows and Movies. We just want the next big thing, no matter what it is.
And we’ll all probably just pass it off and want something else, something more.
But I don’t think that the true big thing is coming for a long while yet.
And it definitely won’t be a watch or a television.
But why do I think it won’t be?
  • A phone is a necessity, a watch used to be a necessity. The phone replaced this. Computers replaced watches also. The watch can reach the next level of its product life, but it’s not the ‘next big thing’. I don’t understand the appeal of these ‘Pebble’ watches.
  • For 95% of the world’s population, music is a necessity, that’s why the iPod was needed. It changed how music accessed people’s lives.
  • Games have gotten cheaper and more accessible to the point that anyone plays them. That barrier of one specific group is slowly breaking down. It’s slowly going through a transition, some companies are realising this slower than others, such as Nintendo.
 These fuel the imagination, music, games, video. These all changed on major products in the last ten years. By a strike of lightening, most of it was done by one company.
The next big thing is simply going to be something everybody already uses, but they don’t realise that there’s something better on the horizon coming.
I can’t see that being a watch, nor a television.
I knew my Creative Jukebox sucked. The battery was terrible and it took the length of a song to load a song. I also didn’t want to carry the many CD’s around with me. A lot of people thought the same.
I wanted to watch video on the go. I didn’t want to watch poor quality, 10 second videos that were bought from the carrier for an insane amount of money.
I wanted a phone that did more than just being a phone. I wanted it to be everything I carried into one device.
I haven’t worn a watch in 15 years. If i want to see the time, I look on my iPhone or see it on the TV on the many channels, or the GUI on my Sky Box.
It’s not what I need or see wanting. I can’t see how it can improve how I use my phone. Sure, I can look at texts, but to pay £199 for a watch just to read a pane of text? I can’t see that being possible, no matter how good Apple’s marketing may try.
Apple seem to be heading towards products that help people, not what people need. Hence ‘Healthbook’ that has been rumoured in the last few days. I can’t see many people wanting to check their health on a smart watch. A lot of people are ignorant of their health, as long as they can walk, talk, and have full control over their body, they’re satisfied.
But I would love to be proven wrong by this.

The Legacy of Greg Martin

The name may not mean a lot now, but if you remember a time when you were drawn to a game by its art on the box, be it from a Mega Drive or Game Boy game with their own unique art, you’ll know that Greg Martin created them from scratch.

On the 3rd of January 2014, Greg Martin suddenly passed away, shocking the retro gaming community.

The news broke on a retro forum called ‘Nintendo Age‘ by a friend of Greg.

Every artwork was airbrushed by hand, and would take just over a week to complete.

Some examples include:

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My Shoutout on Awesome Games Done Quick 2014

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For the past week, there’s been a week long marathon of classic games from the past 25 years years being played. Longplays and speed runs for Zelda, Mario, Half Life, Metal Gear Solid, and many more have been played.

They’re doing it for ‘Prevent Cancer Foundation‘, and set a goal of $500,000.

They’ve exceeded it at meeting $800,000 just earlier, an incredible feat.

It’s ending in a few hours, but you can still see the livestream of Wind Waker HD, and past videos of the past week, right here:

http://www.twitch.tv/speeddemosarchivesda

If you can, please donate, every single penny/cent counts!

I donated $20.00 to them, and they kindly read out what I wrote:

My Link to the Past: Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening

LinksAwakening

In the dawn of the nineties, when ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ was being shown on BBC Two, and Vanilla Ice couldn’t escape your ears, gaming was branching out from the living room, and being carried around with you, where-ever you went.

This was called the Game Boy, launched on September 28th of 1990. It revolutionised how a game could be played without a plug connected to the wall, and how games with depth could still be played on a less-powerful system than what was currently leading the market.
Nintendo came into full force with this with their mascots, such as Super Mario Land, a sequel to the original Metroid, and Zelda.
Three years after its release, and one year after Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released for the Super Nintendo, Link was brought onto the Game Boy, with Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

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