Monday, May 17, 2004

Bought 2nd N64/Saturn, thinking of Zodiac in futu

Webpage Alert – I’ve created a new section on the 512MB generation at http://renegadeviking.cjb.net called “Ian’s 512-bit Generation News Page.” This new webpage will be completed 100% functional in 1 or 2 days. I’m in the process of collecting all the information I can include interviews, and adding them on my page. Come take a look, I have your questions answered in this informative webpage. Please post a message on my message board, no membership required – it’s Bravenet!

• Show Highlights on Nintendo Revolution
• Microsoft’s Xenon
• Playstation 3
• Nintendo Dual Screen
• Sony Playstation Pocket

Today I opened up a section of my webpage that looks exactly like the template I’m using now. This new webpage is called Ian’s 512-bit Generation News Page. I could call it Red Dragon Productions, but this time I decided not too for the reason of copying another webpage that has the same name. There is this website called RedDragonProductions.net that does videogame music, and I didn’t want to be inferior to that. This section is going to be a new “Red Dragon Productions”, following up on Nintendo’s Revolution, Sony’s Playstation 3, Microsoft’s new project, and the new handhelds. The world now knows the next console by Microsoft will not be named Xbox 2. It’s hard to an editorial page without pictures since there aren’t any at the moment.

Today I went to the Toy’s 4 Trade in River Falls. With 55 dollars in my billfold to buy another game, I decided to get a console instead. The last generation consoles are so cheap now-a-days it’s unbelievable so I got both a Saturn and N64 for 55 dollars. Used N64s and Playstations only cost 20 dollars! Consoles don’t come any cheaper than that! This is a different store from what I usually go to. I go to the one in Hudson and this one is located in River Falls. Apparently N64s are 20 dollars less than Game Stop. It’s a great bargain especially when you want an extra console. I wanted to get one because these consoles may go up in price as soon as they are less in quantity like NESs. Used Dreamcasts are also a great bargain costing only 10 dollars more than used N64s. I bought a Saturn because I felt I needed a second one….for backup purposes. Next time I go over there I’m getting a 3rd Dreamcast so I never have to open the new one I bought at Wal-mart days before the store took it off shelves. I know why too, the Dreamcast’s quickly sold out, and Sega wouldn’t replace them so Playstation 2 was all there was. In 2000, Playstation 2 only had 2 good games for it, Midnight Club and Tekken Tag Tournament. At least I thought so. The first Dreamcast I had was fresh out of the box the first day it was released in North America, 09/09/99. Dreamcast became the year’s best electronic device by Time Magazine, and I believe Wall Street also wrote an article on it. Yes, you’ve heard right...awarded #1 for the best selling videogame console of all time in the USA. As you may know, Playstation 2 broke Dreamcast’s record in a matter of a week. Time says DC was a year ahead of it’s time (probably because it had internet for free!) I remember ZDTV shortly after it went on air, the channel was talking about Dreamcast all the time. It was the highlight of Fresh Gear, and ZDTV news for the first week. Gamespot did an exclusive episode on just Dreamcast games. I’ve been using the Dreamcast for nearly 5 years, and a new one never used, I like to keep it that way. I have over 40 Dreamcast games to play, and I might as well always have a working Dreamcast. Okay, the truth of it is Sega had their chance with the Saturn and blew it. So while the Genesis was a better videogame system than Super Nintendo, the Dreamcast is in my opinion the best console Sega ever made. Okay, my reasoning for this is the 3rd party developers ported some recognizable Playstation games from the 1999 – 2000 period including Tony Hawk, Resident Evil, and Street Fighter to name a few. Plus the console continued Sega only series like Phantasy Star, Ecco the Dolphin, Sonic the Hedgehog, Virua Fighter, Daytona USA, and Sega Rally Championship.

Okay, enough about how I bought new consoles. The new subject of today is about the Zodiac and GP32 handhelds. The older of the two, GP32, is a little bigger than Gameboy Advance. The new handheld has an open source operating system (not palm based) based on Linux that’ll play ROMs. ROMs are games someone ripped from older consoles which can be downloaded off the Internet to be playable on PC. Microsoft also released WinCE 4.0 for GP32 so I can also play 32-bit Windows applications or games like Doom II or Quake, etc as long as it fit on a memory stick. I’ll get to hard drive usage in a minute… The whole deal is open source so I get to download free content off the Internet legally. The handheld uses 128 MB smart media cards, but will take any FAT16 formatted smart card. Maybe it’ll be able to recognize thumb sticks, which would be really cool because I download stuff to them as my primary removable memory of choice. GP32 also has a keyboard port (PS2 port) for word processing and Internet browsing.

An idea I had with GP32 is that you can hook up an external hard drive or Mp3 player to it, and use the data storage instead which will cost a lot less than a 512-MB or 1024-MB flash cards. I much rather have this next handheld I’ll talk about, although GP32 would be my second choice if I can find one.

The second handheld is called Zodiac made by a new company called Tapwave [tapwave.com]. This advanced handheld acts as an underground handheld to compete against GBA or a PDA with keyboard support. For Zodiac, you’ll pay about 70 dollars more than buying a GP32. It comes in 2 versions. First is a 32-bit version with an 8-MB ATI graphics unit, and 200 MHz CPU (really, really small). The 128-bit one comes with 128-MB of RAM instead of 32-MB. The Zodiac is already more powerful than Nintendo’s Dual Screen! The Zodiac 32-bit version has a nice high resolution touch-screen I can easily take notes on, and save it to removable memory. The Zodiac runs the latest Palm OS (v5.2T). Palm can support 3rd party software meaning buyers can install new software on it for free from anywhere off the Internet! Palm OS also runs a lot of console emulators, Palm software, and DOS games. If you just have to have Microsoft Windows, Microsoft allows you to download WinCE 3.0 for free on Microsoft.com. I always wanted to play my Gameboy Advance ROMs on a handheld like Zodiac. Gamers can also save various pictures in JPEG at a really small resolution, and show off the personal photo collection on its 24-bit LCD screen. The Zodiac also has it’s own DivX player software so someone like me could encode or download Mpeg 4 movies if it was a super low resolution. If I wanted too – I could use it as a MP3 player while I take notes.


Zodiac 2 - released date: June 2004

Zodiac is a gaming platform meaning it has a D-pad, and buttons organized for game play. The handheld comes with a keyboard input, I wonder how that’ll use up battery life though if not connected to a AC circuit. There are PDAs that are twice as expensive, and do not have that amount RAM. To be clearer on this, PDAs have 16 MB of RAM, not 32 MB, because their primary an application based computer. Zodiac runs on a cell phone based 200 MHz CPU, one of the most powerful handheld processors on the market this year. It’ll sure be a birthday present in November. I want to play Mario Kart Super Circuit on one of them - if I can somehow get 300 dollars together to buy one. This baby also has an expansion slot to run PDA devices like digital cameras.

Even with all this hype over a tiny handheld…it seems too good to be true! Download GBA roms or any other rom onto the Zodiac via USB cable, and enjoy playing them on its superior processor, and the buttons in the palm of your hand too. GBA SPs costing only half of what a Zodiac 32-bit version would cost someone, it’s easy to see what a gamer wants spend his/her money on - a GBA SP. But with a touch screen, and free downloadable content, the Zodiac is a nice portable gaming system if you can afford one. That’s all I need it for….playing games and taking notes. Although I would like a Zodiac, getting a GP32 with it’s 32-Bit processor and removable memory is a better deal than Zodiacs. I wish it would use memory sticks instead of the *standard* smart cards it uses. I need to get realistic here since I need a PDA with a digital pen for school. A Palm IIIe at Tigerdirect costs 40 dollars, and it comes standard with a touch screen.

As far as consoles go, I can buy a used “Game Boy Advance” (not GBA SP) for 50 dollars at Toy’s 4 Trade or a Playstation / N64 for 20 dollars used. Hmm, if I wanted to play games that badly, I could save 85% on the Playstation now, and 80% on Dreamcast consoles if I were to buy them instead of a Zodiac handheld. This and each time I’m home on my computer, I can play all the old console games for free! Should I wait until the 256-bit Zodiac comes out so I can money on the 32-bit Zodiac? Saving 50 dollars on Zodiac at the expense of power is not worth it. The law of diminishing returns also applies to the Zodiac, you know? The Game specialist stores won’t see them because they’re supposed to be really popular right now. Might as well get the high-end *128-bit* version new then. I want one although I’d be better off to get one from my parents for my birthday than I paying for one. I already know the Zodiac will get a lot of usage in my home by me of course. I don’t need any commercial games for it, although I find it interesting that the games made for Zodiac could also play on other palms as soon as they are as powerful… Zodiac is probably the most powerful PDA / gaming console related handheld out there. I already have a large collection of ROMs I collected over the 2003 – 2004 period.

Well that’s it for today. Have to find something to do today. I slept well last night. I’ll dream about Zodiac. I remember in the past - in 2000 - I had this very unusual dream. I was a little kid and it was before 2000 and I wanted to have a Saturn, and it was packaged on the top shelf in a Toys R US store farther than I could reach…so the whole dream was me getting that Saturn, because it was the last one available. This was before I went to Game Stop. I wanted to play NiGHTS, it was weird….I don’t know why I still remember it? Perhaps it was because David always had his Genesis and we played it all the time. Saturn just came out and was suppose to be really powerful being capable of 3D when 3D was a big deal for a 12 year old. I know I’ve haven’t quite grown out of this gaming stage… on the other hand, I hope I’m a gamer forever because I found out adults think games are cool when I started to play Diablo 2 in 2000! Over half of online players playing Diablo 2 players are over 18. The newest game trend back then was before the Internet came out, and the game reviews passed by one’s own opinion or Game Informer Magazine. Soon after Sega released Saturn Magazine and Sony released Playstation Magazine so that helped people find the right game that suited their tastes. I remember hearing about Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario 64, and Crash Bandicoot a lot. My first console was an N64. In 9th grade, I got a Sega Dreamcast. I always wanted a Sega console. I wore the Sega Dreamcast shirt every week. I remember when the teachers use to say stop wearing that shirt, its advertising, and the school doesn’t like it. I knew what it meant though…don’t support Sega, route for Playstation. Well neither Sega nor Sony, she says. I couldn’t possibly offend someone. That’s when I was a 51% Nintendo fan and 49% Sega fan. The opposing side finally caught of with me, and I became 50% PC fan, a 25% Playstation fan, and 12.5% Nintendo fan, 6.25% Xbox, and 6.25% Sega Dreamcast fan. Sega’s gone multi-platform since 2001 so they’ve became one of my favorite developers. My favorite developer is Squaresoft, my second favorite, Nintendo, and 3rd favorite, Sega. Then you know I buy all the Unreal Tournaments, all the Metal Gear Solids, all the Grand Thief Autos, all the Bioware games, all the Diablos, all the Final Fantasys, all the Halo(s), all the Mario platformers, all the Jak and Dexters, Most of the Sonic the Hedgehog games. I've got to get going, webpages to develop, ya know?

Free Software pick of the Day:

Irfanview 3.85 (http://www.irfanview.com) - an awesome digital image viewer that can also compress JPEG, GIF and PNG at an awesome ratio. Also has support for TIFF and JPEG 2000 plugins. I've been using this application for 5 years and still use it.

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