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Episode 139: On the 859th Day, He Rested

by Jonathan Metts - March 29, 2009, 10:14 am PDT
Total comments: 46

You could say that Iwata's GDC keynote was almost a religious experience for some of the RFN crew.

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And the fanboys saw that it was good.






From the North American launch of Wii to last Wednesday's GDC keynote, it took Satoru Iwata just 858 days to get a functional storage solution for the console. Despite our latent anger over the incredibly long wait, we couldn't be happier with the new SD Card Menu and all the other crazy announcements from Iwata. We cover it all, from Virtual Console Arcade to the coming flood of downloadable Final Fantasy titles. There's also a bit of talk about the new Zelda for DS and a localized Professor Layton sequel.

Don't worry, the show isn't all news. It actually starts with a meaty New Business -- both James and Jonny are getting into GTA: Chinatown Wars, and Jonny has some dirt on Henry Hatsworth and Shaun White Road Trip. Also, learn why Greg pre-ordered Mad World, played it for a few minutes, and then traded it in the same day!

In your Listener Mail, the topics turn to network throttling (and a tangential discussion of OnLive), various forms of Virtual Console for DSi, and our gaming disappointments. Please keep those letters coming! And don't forget that our Secret of Mana discussion begins next week. Start playing the game now and leave your thoughts in the RetroActive forum thread!

Credits:

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their new album, Rocket Number 9, directly from the record label, or download it from iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Talkback

SarailMarch 29, 2009

Listening to it right now, but man... I just can't push myself to go pick up GTA for the DS.  I've just been so against it my entire gaming life, but there seems to be something different about this one... I dunno!  >_

Is that due to moral reasons?  Chinatown Wars is no less depraved than its predecessors.

mac<censored>March 30, 2009

depraved perhaps, but it's ... cute little (kinda) top-down sprite depraved!

PlugabugzMarch 30, 2009

I mentioned the bandwidth throttling because all of the consoles make the assumption that you have a connection, and thats it. What i meant was a statement upon going online (like in the wii shop channel) to be aware of any bandwidth limits.

Virgin Media have a 20mb connection here, and if you download more than 3gb a DAY they will throttle your connection (by 75%!!!!) to 5mb for a defined period. Others are "unlimited" but blanket throttle everything all the time - my last ISP did this and it made every online wii game unplayable.

I mentioned it because everyone here is dependent on their internet connection working... and it don't then things like iPlayer, OnLive, Netflix etc will just won't work.
Then games like Brawl will become an even bigger slideshow ;)

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusMarch 30, 2009

I've only listened to the first 10 mins so far, but it was funny to hear Jonny's latent southern accent popping out there for a few mins.

SarailMarch 30, 2009

Maybe a little bit based on moral reasons, Jonny...but primarily because of my intense hatred for Rockstar Games.  The only game I've ever liked that they developed was Body Harvest on the N64 -- back when they were known as DMA Designs.

I guess I'm just not that big of a fan of the "sandbox" genre of video games.

GoldenPhoenixMarch 30, 2009

BTW Jonny according to VGchartz (should be accurate since these are older numbers) FFIV managed to sell around 350k in the US, that is far from niche. Chrono has sold around 300k. Not bad numbers for a DS game. Though it does sell better in Japan.

ShyGuyMarch 31, 2009

What podcast is this? This is positive talk about Nintendo. (They did completely own GDC though)

StratosMarch 31, 2009

Except the SD Channel is evil and a poorly tested piece of junk. It broke games that use the SD card like Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Animal Crossing.

People are having a lot of problems with this update. Wiis crashing and not reading disks.

I hope it gets hacked soon because I want to use the homebrew solely to bring the Wii back to V3.4

Poorly played move Nintendo.

TJ SpykeMarch 31, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

People are having a lot of problems with this update. Wiis crashing and not reading disks.

I haven't had my Wii crash. I have twice had to reset the system since the Wii wouldn't read the disc (it would just keep the Wii and GameCube disc icons spinning).

GoldenPhoenixMarch 31, 2009

Quote from: Stratos

Except the SD Channel is evil and a poorly tested piece of junk. It broke games that use the SD card like Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Animal Crossing.

People are having a lot of problems with this update. Wiis crashing and not reading disks.

I hope it gets hacked soon because I want to use the homebrew solely to bring the Wii back to V3.4

Poorly played move Nintendo.

Works fine for me in AC. I had a disk reading problem but unplugging the system and plugging it back in fixed it permanently so far. From what I understand games that weren't built with larger SD cards in mind (Or SDHC) CANNOT work with it unless the physical disks are replaced, that has more to do with the Wii hardware then Nintendo not fixing it with this update. Guitar Hero should support 2GB SD cards like it always has.

BeautifulShyMarch 31, 2009

Is Aaron and Chuck back from GDC?

I want to know what they think of Punch Out and Excitebots.

kraken613March 31, 2009

So James, what parts did you get for your PC upgrade?

yoshi1001April 01, 2009

Related to your discussion about Wii <-> DS VC interoperability, one thing Nintendo might do is if the same game were available on both the Wii VC and DSi VC is offer some sort of bundle where for a slightly reduced total price (say 100 points less than buying them seperately), you could get a package that would give you a version on each, similar to the DVD/Digital Copy distributions you see with movies. It would depend on what the cost/benefit differential would be, but it's more likely than them simply giving it away in my opinion.

TJ SpykeApril 01, 2009

I don't think there were a lot of games released on both the NES and Game Boy. Some of the few I can think of are Yoshi and Dr. Mario.

StratosApril 02, 2009

Quote from: TJ

I don't think there were a lot of games released on both the NES and Game Boy. Some of the few I can think of are Yoshi and Dr. Mario.

Yoshi Cookie, Tetris and Tetris 2 were as well. There were a lot that were on both for a while if I remember correctly. I'll do a search and come back with the results.

I think yoshi1001 was referring to the idea of buying any VC game (on any platform) and getting the rights to play it on both Wii and DSi.  It would only apply if DSi could emulate most or all the same platforms as Wii's Virtual Console.

I still think a Virtual Handheld (GB, GBC, GBA, Game Gear, NGPC, Lynx, Wonderswan) is more likely.  DSi probably doesn't have enough RAM to properly emulate the 16-bit consoles and up.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusApril 02, 2009

Aren't the GBA and the Super NES pretty similar from a technical prowess standpoint?  Why would you need a beefier machine to emulate the Super NES than the GBA?

StratosApril 02, 2009

Quote from: DrewMG

Aren't the GBA and the Super NES pretty similar from a technical prowess standpoint?  Why would you need a beefier machine to emulate the Super NES than the GBA?

The SNES was a bit better than the GBA. Play Yoshi's Island on it and watch it lag on the Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy level.

Also, I checked the lists in Wikipedia and there were a lot of games that came out on both the GB and NES.

I don't think either way we are going to see a cross platform deal like that any time soon.

@Jonny

If the DS is close to the N64's capabilities then shouldn't it not have that much of an issue emulating 16-bit console games? The DS is stronger than a GBA and we saw ports of Donkey Kong Country, Mario World and others on the final Gameboy system. We also have seen games like Chrono Trigger, Mario Kart and others on the DS with equal or superior graphics from their predecessors. Shouldn't that mean it is more possible to emulate SNES on the DS?

Mop it upApril 02, 2009

Based on technical specs alone I would think the DSi could handle Nintendo 64 emulation. The DSi CPU is about as fast as an overclocked Nintendo 64 so it should have no trouble there (and actually might be able to fix framerate problems). It has twice the RAM of a Nintendo 64 with the Expansion Pak, so even if the system needed a little extra resource for the emulation, I'd think it could still run them just fine.

Though I'm sure there are other factors here so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

StratosApril 02, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Based on technical specs alone I would think the DSi could handle Nintendo 64 emulation. The DSi CPU is about as fast as an overclocked Nintendo 64 so it should have no trouble there (and actually might be able to fix framerate problems). It has twice the RAM of a Nintendo 64 with the Expansion Pak, so even if the system needed a little extra resource for the emulation, I'd think it could still run them just fine.

Though I'm sure there are other factors here so I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

You convinced me!

It's crazy to think that the DS has more powerful hardware than the N64 which is much larger than the DS. Heck, the Ram Expansion alone is almost as big as a DS, isn't it?

Mop it upApril 02, 2009

Actually it is the DSi that's more powerful than the N64, not the original DS.

Original DS specs:
CPU: 67 MHz ARM9
Second CPU: 33 MHz ARM7
RAM: 4MB

DSi specs:
CPU: 133 MHz ARM
RAM: 16MB

Nintendo 64 specs:
CPU: 93.75 MHz (overclocked is around 140MHz)
RAM: 4MB regular, 8MB with upgrade.

The N64 RAM Expansion cartridge contains a lot of empty space to leave room to ventilate (that thing gets HOT!); the actual RAM chip itself is quite small. Given the DS came out eight years later, that's plenty of time to make it smaller and require less cooling space.

StratosApril 02, 2009

I didn't realize that the DSi was that much more powerful than the regular DS. Makes you wonder what the DSi exclusive games will look like.

Mop it upApril 02, 2009

I just thought of a big factor as to why console emulation might not be feasible on the DS: resolution difference. Each DS screen has a resolution of 256 x 192, whilst most Nintendo 64 games have a resolution of 320 x 240, and some even have 640 x 480. This is actually one factor as to why the original DS can seem more powerful than the N64, as displaying games at a lower resolution is less taxing on the CPU. Put a DS game on a television screen and it isn't going to look very good.

Without modifying the games, they could not display properly on the DS. Even NES games have a resolution of 256 x 240, which would cause a part of the top and bottom of the image to be cut off. Therefore, games would likely need a reprogramming, which would probably be more effort than it is worth.

yoshi1001April 02, 2009

Keep in mind that with emulation, you generally have to deduct one generation when comparing specs (for example, when the original PowerPC Macs came out in the mid-90's, they actually ran emulated 68k code slower than native 68k Macs for a while).

One thing that did occur to me, though is that if they could emulate GB/GBC on the DS, why wasn't that incorporated into the original DS? Is the DSi really that much more powerful that it becomes feasible?

TJ SpykeApril 02, 2009

I think it was more of a size issue. The DS would have been larger in size if they made it so you could play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

StratosApril 02, 2009

@Mop it up
I think the resolution issue was a problem because if I remember correctly that was a big hurdle for porting the original Zelda to Gameboy. Each room in the game was a full screen size so it couldn't easily be ported.

@Yoshi1k1
I think they just hadn't thought of the idea at the time the DS was being developed. WiiWare was a bit of a pioneering effort for Nintendo. I would imagine that if they knew how big it would have been it would have been included. The only thing baring the original DS from working with a D/L service is the lack of internal flash memory like the Wii has.

@TJ Spike
Are you referring to the lack of a GBA slot?

yoshi1001April 02, 2009

Quote from: TJ

I think it was more of a size issue. The DS would have been larger in size if they made it so you could play Game Boy and Game Boy Color games.

How so? Wouldn't they just stick out the bottom, like GBA games on the DS Lite?

TJ SpykeApril 02, 2009

GB/GBC cartridges were about 2.5x as big as GBA cartridges, which was probably unacceptable for Nintendo as far as how much they stuck out. I think there was also the issue of the extra internal parts that would be needed.

Mop it upApril 02, 2009

The Game Boy Advance also contained the Game Boy Color's CPU. The DS does not have the Game Boy Color's CPU, only the Game Boy Advance CPU (the ARM7). If they wanted the DS to be able to play GB/C games, then it would need the GBC CPU which would have given it three CPUs. Don't you think that would have been a bit ridiculous?

Quote from: Mop_it_up

The Game Boy Advance also contained the Game Boy Color's CPU. The DS does not have the Game Boy Color's CPU, only the Game Boy Advance CPU (the ARM7). If they wanted the DS to be able to play GB/C games, then it would need the GBC CPU which would have given it three CPUs. Don't you think that would have been a bit ridiculous?

He's suggesting that GB/C compatibility could be included via emulation, which would definitely work because even the GBA could emulate the GBC.

Mop it upApril 02, 2009

I didn't think the GBA could emulate the GBC, that's why it has the GBC CPU.

I really shouldn't get into this technical stuff though because there are too many things I don't really know.

StratosApril 02, 2009

There are too many factors. Look at the XBox, there is a list of XBox 1 games that are made compatible on the 360 through patches. Two different systems have different architectures and would have to be tested and altered to function properly. It would have been very difficult make them all work right like that. Emulation is not a walk in the park.

Invincible Donkey KongApril 02, 2009

oh waa, im a multibillion dollar company, it's hard to make stuff work, waaa.

None of the previous handheld systems' backwards-compatibility was based on emulation.  It was more like PS1 on PS2 or PS2 on the early PS3s... or GameCube on Wii.  They share hardware, so you can trick the old games into thinking they are running on the original hardware.  Emulation is all software-based.

I was talking about the homebrew GBC emulators that exist for the GBA.

GoldenPhoenixApril 03, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

None of the previous handheld systems' backwards-compatibility was based on emulation.  It was more like PS1 on PS2 or PS2 on the early PS3s... or GameCube on Wii.  They share hardware, so you can trick the old games into thinking they are running on the original hardware.  Emulation is all software-based.

What Jonny said, and I am not even that familiar with the stuff!

BTW does anyone know yet if the DSi has the GBA hardware still in tact? Yeah we don't have a slot anymore but it doesn't mean they still removed the internal hardware.

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

None of the previous handheld systems' backwards-compatibility was based on emulation.  It was more like PS1 on PS2 or PS2 on the early PS3s... or GameCube on Wii.  They share hardware, so you can trick the old games into thinking they are running on the original hardware.  Emulation is all software-based.

What Jonny said, and I am not even that familiar with the stuff!

BTW does anyone know yet if the DSi has the GBA hardware still in tact? Yeah we don't have a slot anymore but it doesn't mean they still removed the internal hardware.

The ARM7 chip that allowed for GBA backward compatibility isn't like the GBC chip in the GBA, it's one of the two processors that are used in DS games, so it's definitely still in there.

GoldenPhoenixApril 03, 2009

Quote from: insanolord

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

None of the previous handheld systems' backwards-compatibility was based on emulation.  It was more like PS1 on PS2 or PS2 on the early PS3s... or GameCube on Wii.  They share hardware, so you can trick the old games into thinking they are running on the original hardware.  Emulation is all software-based.

What Jonny said, and I am not even that familiar with the stuff!

BTW does anyone know yet if the DSi has the GBA hardware still in tact? Yeah we don't have a slot anymore but it doesn't mean they still removed the internal hardware.

The ARM7 chip that allowed for GBA backward compatibility isn't like the GBC chip in the GBA, it's one of the two processors that are used in DS games, so it's definitely still in there.

Interesting.

Mop it upApril 03, 2009

Quote from: insanolord

The ARM7 chip that allowed for GBA backward compatibility isn't like the GBC chip in the GBA, it's one of the two processors that are used in DS games, so it's definitely still in there.

According to Wikipedia the DSi contains just one CPU, a 133 MHz ARM processor. Unless I'm missing something then it would appear that the ARM7 processor has been removed from the DSi.

yoshi1001April 03, 2009

Allow me to clarify. What I was asking is if the DSi core processor can emulate GB/GBC (which is two generations below the DS hardware, presumably), why didn't they include that feature in the original DS (which I believe has the same core processor)?

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Quote from: insanolord

The ARM7 chip that allowed for GBA backward compatibility isn't like the GBC chip in the GBA, it's one of the two processors that are used in DS games, so it's definitely still in there.

According to Wikipedia the DSi contains just one CPU, a 133 MHz ARM processor. Unless I'm missing something then it would appear that the ARM7 processor has been removed from the DSi.

That's not possible, removing the ARM7 would make the DSi incompatible with DS games in addition to taking away GBA compatibility, DS games use both the ARM7 and the ARM9.

Mop it upApril 03, 2009

Quote from: yoshi1001

What I was asking is if the DSi core processor can emulate GB/GBC why didn't they include that feature in the original DS (which I believe has the same core processor)?

My guess would be that it was more trouble than it was worth. Since they no longer sold GB/C games, how would it benefit them?

Quote from: insanolord

That's not possible, removing the ARM7 would make the DSi incompatible with DS games in addition to taking away GBA compatibility

What makes you so sure of this? The source on Wikipedia links to an article where somebody opened up the DSi and found only one processor.

They probably improved the manufacturing process to put both processors on the same chip.

NovaQApril 22, 2009

I have nothing to add to this technical hoo-ha. Also, I'm late to this podcast party - but at least now I'm all caught up. Anyway...

Disappointments in gaming - what a perfect question for an Internet gaming fan site! I'm surprised that hasn't been brought up sooner.

Twilight Princess disappointed me for sure, but of course it had massive, long-term hype (and the disappointed have already made themselves well heard/read by now). In addition to James' Temple of Time "wow moment," I thought the final real dungeon, the one in the sky, was wicked.

Wind Waker's clear omissions of dungeons were pretty disappointing, too. The third pearl and the fire and ice arrows all "should have" had dungeons. It makes you wonder how much better the game could've been had it had more development time.

Also, I got Yoshi's Story when it first came out for my birthday. That was a sad birthday.

P.S. Did Jon say "It's pretty Nietzche" instead of "It's pretty niche"? I think it was at the part about FF on VC...

StratosApril 22, 2009

Quote from: NovaQ

Also, I got Yoshi's Story when it first came out for my birthday. That was a sad birthday.

Pretty ironic considering the mission in the game is to keep the Yoshi's happy and reclaim the Super Happy Tree!

I also need to clarify something earlier regarding DSi/GBA backweards compatibility. I mentioned that size was an issue and some people interpreted that to mean cartridge size. I meant screen resolution, not that cartridges would stick out of the machine. You have to rework the games output to fit in a different resolution. The original Zelda especially was designed to have one room fill the entire screen. It had to be reworked to fit one room on the GBA screen properly.

Cartridge size is not a big issue I would think considering original GB carts stuck far out on a GBA SP.

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