Samuel McConnell

Games commentator

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.

Though he spends a great deal of his time at his day job helping people with their computer troubles, he carves out as much time as he can to play video or board games, or to tinker with his home cinema.

Labels that apply to Samuel: Gamer, nerd, geek, techie, trekkie, whovian, cinephile.

Ways to Connect

sega.com

For as long as I can remember, graphics in video games have astounded me, and have been a major driver in the industry. Particularly, I remember how everyone was amazed when machines like the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation started making 3D games possible. When Final Fantasy VII came out on the original PlayStation in 1997, the graphics amazed me - huge enemies and vast landscapes. Looking back, though, the graphics have not aged well. Bright, textureless polygons with some really weird proportions against mostly drab backdrops.

One year ago this month, Pokemon Go was released worldwide for smartphones. Since then, the game has been downloaded more than 750 million times. 

One of the least well-known games in the Final Fantasy series is Final Fantasy XII, released in 2006 on the PlayStation 2. It came out near the end of the PlayStation 2’s life, but is getting a new enhanced release on the PlayStation 4, which came out this week.

Not often can you call Microsoft an underdog, but 15 years ago when the original Xbox was released, they had an upward battle to fight. The Xbox’s competitors were Sony’s PlayStation 2, which remains the best selling video game console ever, and Nintendo’s GameCube.

The Xbox was an American console, inside and out. The processor in the machine was created by Intel, and it had an Intel graphics chip. The console itself was big and heavy, and the controller was huge - eclipsing the relatively tiny PlayStation and GameCube controllers.

Before the entire video game industry in the United States crashed in 1983, video game consoles were largely a United States product. Atari, Coleco, Magnavox, and Mattel were the big players - all US companies. However, with the industry’s crash, there was a vacuum. 

Many factors caused the Video Game Crash starting in 1983, but one of the most significant was Atari’s overconfidence. Atari was the leader in home video game consoles throughout the early ‘80s, and took their nearly indomitable lead and squandered it with a string of disappointing games coupled with over-optimistic sales projections.

Once upon a time, Atari was the name in video games. Sure, there was the Colecovision and Intellivision, but Atari was the dominant force in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. But that all came to an abrupt end in the mid ‘80s with a huge recession in the industry which is known as the Video Game Crash.

With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, for the Nintendo Switch, what’s old is new again.

nintendo.com

Late last year, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition, a $60 miniature game console with 30 classic Nintendo games on it. I never got one - in fact, I’ve never seen one.

The Mass Effect trilogies are some of my favorite video games of the previous console generation. I’m a sucker for rich characters and deep world-building, and this is where the Mass Effect series really shined. The universe you occupied in these games felt real and lived-in. Each alien species had a rich history and their own relationships with humans. When I played Mass Effect games, I could imagine myself inhabiting this world.

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