Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

If you happened to come across the Games page linked in the footer, I thought I would quickly share my inspiration for it. I remember a while back, probably many years now, seeing a similar list that designer, developer Shaun Inman had been keeping on his website. It inspired me to keep my own list, but I started and stopped so many times and lost older ones. Shaun even wrote a blog post about why he started his, so I guess that link is kind of an inspiration Inception.

I’ve been keeping my current list updated for a couple of years now and hope to continue doing so. It has fewer columns than Shaun’s, just ones for what I’m playing, what I’ve finished, and things I started and might get back to at some point. It’s also helpful because it’s an indicator of what you might see me play on Twitch on the hopefully less rare occasions that I do stream.

Let me know if you’d like to see me add more information to this page or if keeping it simple is the way to go.

WD Black Gaming Harddrive
My 5TB WD_Black Game Drive

If you’re like me, you’ve no doubt accumulated a large number of games throughout the previous (still kind of weird to say that) console generation. I had a launch PlayStation 4, which only had a 500GB hard drive, and then upgraded to PlayStation 4 Pro with 1TB. Even physical, disc-based games required massive installs and updates, so I constantly found myself running out of space. I always had to delete and re-install games as I acquired new ones. This became particularly tricky with multiplayer games that friends and I would fall in and out of. Once in a while, someone would want to play something and then the rest of us had to wait hours to download it again.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase an external drive to use, and I sure am happy that I did. So I bought the 5TB WD_Black Game Drive. It hovers around the $150 mark but can often be found discounted. I currently have over 100 games installed on the drive, a mix of physical and digital.

I was initially worried that the performance would be slower than running games off the internal drive, but I was wrong. Performance is not an issue at all. Loading times are on par with what I am used to. And it makes it super easy to attach the drive to any of my PlayStation 4+ consoles to access my game library, PS4, PS4 Pro, and now my PlayStation 5.

While this isn’t an exhaustive or technical review, I did want to share my opinion. If you’ve been on the fence about buying an external drive or worried about the performance, I say just go for it. It has been a worthwhile investment and definitely one of the most useful PlayStation accessories I own.

And while I didn’t test it with my Xbox One (I don’t have that many games for the platform), I’m sure the performance characteristics are similar and would be just as worthwhile. Do you have the drive and an Xbox One? Let me know about your experiences with it.

I recently started playing Fantasian on Apple Arcade. It’s an incredible game from Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker Corporation. If you haven’t played it, you definitely should. I think Apple Arcade is predominantly used on iPhones and iPads, but those who want to can get a more console-like experience with an Apple TV and controller. Since tvOS 13 released in 2019, you’ve been able to pair PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers to Apple TV (really any Apple device), giving you a much more familiar feel.

I personally have Apple Arcade running on a spare 4th Gen. Apple TV from 2015. It’s capable of full HD output and runs games well even though it is a bit aged at this point. To pair with it, I needed to find a suitable controller. Since I didn’t have any spare PlayStation 4 controllers, I looked at my Xbox controller stock. And now we find ourselves at the titular conundrum. How do you know which of the many Xbox One controller revisions are even compatible with Apple TV?

Early Xbox One controllers did not use Bluetooth but were instead running on 2.4 GHz wireless. It wasn’t until later revisions that they switched to Bluetooth. The simplest way I have found to know which you have is by looking at the controller’s build. More info can be found on this Xbox Support page. If the section of the controller that has the Xbox button seamlessly transitions into the rest of the controller body, it has Bluetooth. If the section with the Xbox button is distinctly a separate piece, it does not have Bluetooth.

Once you have identified that you have a Bluetooth Xbox Wireless controller, the rest should be pretty straightforward. You can pair it with your Apple TV by going to the Bluetooth settings menu on Apple TV and pressing the Pair button on top of the controller. After a few seconds, it should show up.

Now that I have this setup, I might play a couple more Apple Arcade games after finishing Fantasian. World of Demons from PlatinumGames looks pretty cool too. Any Apple Arcade games you’re interested in playing? I would love some more recommendations.

Space Invaders cartridge in a Super Game Boy in the Analogue Super Nt.
Space Invaders cartridge in a Super Game Boy

In 1994, Nintendo released a pair of arcade classics on Game Boy. There was a really great version of Donkey Kong and this kind of meh version of Space Invaders. Like many children in the 90s, I barely left home without my Game Boy. Some games are permanently burned in my memory, and I remember playing them over and over again, like Final Fantasy Adventure. But I found Space Invaders pretty forgettable, even though I’ve kept it all these years. Not sure what I was really expecting when I bought it as a kid. With Donkey Kong, Nintendo added a lot more content, but Space Invaders was seemingly just a straight-up port.

I probably never would have played it again, but then I listened to episode 15 of the Nintendo Power Podcast. One of the guests mentioned a hidden Super Nintendo game on the Space Invaders cartridge that is only accessible via Super Game Boy. How cool is that! So what did I do? I went and grabbed the games and started it up. At that time, many Game Boy games had specific color palettes or borders on Super Game Boy. Space Invaders had to outdo them all and included an entirely different game mode.

I’m genuinely amazed that other developers didn’t wind up including stuff like this in their games after seeing it done. I think it’s such a clever idea, and there are countless very creative things you can probably do with it. So while the game itself isn’t that interesting, I’m happy I have it in my collection. Especially now that I know the secret that it holds within.

With all the talk of digital storefronts being shut down (I’m looking at you PS3, PSP, and Vita) as well as digital games being delisted (Mario’s 35th anniversary), it got me thinking. I never owned a PlayStation Vita, but I did buy a PlayStation TV a couple of years ago. If you’ve never heard of it, PlayStation TV is basically a screen-less mini Vita that you can play with a PS3 controller and hook up to a TV with HDMI. One of the first games I purchased was Adventures of Mana. It is a 3D remake of Final Fantasy Adventure, a game I played the heck out of on my Game Boy when I was a kid. It is only available digitally on Vita and on iOS and Android.

Eventually, Collection of Mana was released, but it only included the original Game Boy version, not the remake. There was also a 3D Secret of Mana remake released for PlayStation 4, Vita, and Windows. Both of these games, I think, would fit perfectly on the Switch. The Trials of Mana remake was just released on Switch, so I am amazed there is no Switch version of the other two games.

With the Vita shop being shut down, it will be a lot harder for fans of this series to play Adventures of Mana. So this is my plea to Square Enix. Please release this game on Nintendo Switch. And while you’re at it, the Secret of Mana remake on Switch would be great too. Why keep it locked on PlayStation 4 and Vita? Perhaps you can make a Collection of Mana 2 that includes all the remakes instead of the originals.

Sure it’s still available on mobile platforms, but for how long? Will they continue to be updated for newer OS versions? And let’s be honest, I just don’t like playing in-depth, story-driven, multi-hour games on my phone.

Do you have any favorite digital games that might be lost forever if more digital storefronts get shut down?

Photograph of the AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra
AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra

I recently bought an AVerMedia Live Game Ultra to replace my few-year-old Elgato HD60 S. I wanted something that can pass through 4K video from current consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. While also allowing me to downsample to record and stream in HD. And I figured it could be valuable to try out an AVerMedia product because up until now, I have primarily used Elgato.

The Live Gamer Ultra captures video and audio separately, which is a bit different if you’re used to Elgato products. The way I had mine set up in OBS is what caused my problem. I first added a Video Capture Device and set it to the Live Gamer Ultra. Then in the settings for that source, I checked the box to use a custom audio device and selected HDMI (Live Gamer Ultra-Audio) from the dropdown.

It seemed to work fine for a while, but after a few minutes of recording or streaming, the audio would drift and no longer sync up with the video. I thought it was maybe a framerate issue, so I tried both 59.94 and 60 fps, and the problem was present in both.

Ultimately the solution I found was to set up the audio as a separate source. You need to add a new Audio Input Capture and choose the correct option from the dropdown. Once I did this, everything seemed to work fine. I’m not sure if the problem is more with the AVerMedia device or with OBS itself. Still, it appears that when set as the video source’s custom audio device, the drifting issue is present, so separate the audio and video.

It makes my OBS setup a little messier, having two sources and two sets of meters in the Audio Mixer. But to avoid that, I just wound up hiding the video source’s audio meters in the mixer. Then I created a nested scene containing both the video and audio sources to add to other scenes.

I thought maybe I was clever in how I had it set up, but instead, I caused myself some problems. If you have the Live Gamer Ultra, just set it up as multiple sources instead of trying to be fancy. Things should work better, and you can get back to streaming or recording.

The Official Pokémon YouTube Channel announcement video

I started playing Pokémon when Red and Blue released in the US in 1998. At the time, I was a sophomore in high school, playing Pokémon Red on my original Game Boy when most folks had already upgraded to a Game Boy Pocket. Something about the game hooked me. I continued playing it until I got Pokémon Gold when that released. I lost my love a little bit after Sapphire. Honestly I’m not sure I ever finished that one, but it is on my list to play soon. Then I skipped a generation and bought Pokémon Black when I got a DS Lite. I thought this was where my Pokémon journey would end, but I was wrong.

When I saw the announcement for the Pokémon: Let’s Go games, I was super excited to jump back into the familiar Kanto region and recapture my childhood in beautifully redone graphics on a modern console. I loved playing through it and knew that whatever the next generation Pokémon game was, I would have to play it.

I played through Pokémon Shield at the end of 2019, and then I spent a bunch more time collecting a full Pokédex of all 400 Pokémon in the game. I was on such a kick that I went back and finished a full Pokédex in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! Then, more recently, I went back and completed a full Pokédex after playing through Pokémon Sun (Alola only, not a full national ‘dex).

While doing so, I learned of a Mythical Pokémon, released a month after the game, at the end of 2016. Anyone who had completed the main storyline would be able to scan a QR code using the 3DS’s cameras to get Magearna, a Steel/Fairy type Pokémon. I was kind of worried that it would no longer work, but to my surprise, three years later, when I played through Pokémon Sun, the QR code was still scannable. I most recently tried it again after my Pokémon Moon playthrough in September 2020, and it was still available.

The Official Pokémon website has taken down their News article, letting you know how to get Magearna, so I’m not sure if it still works. Good thing I saved a local copy of the QR code. These were the basic instructions:

  • In your game menu, select QR Scanner on the second page
  • Scan the QR code below, which I believe is for North America only
  • Find the delivery man by the antique shop on the top floor of Hau’oli City’s mall
QR distribution code for Magearna in Pokémon Sun and Moon.

Let me know if you have any luck!

In 2016, I remember how excitedly a group of my friends and I were waiting for the release of Tom Clancy’s The Division. We were all living and working in New York City (or Brooklyn) at the time, and that is where the game takes place. We were looking forward to having an online multiplayer experience where we could run around in an environment we were so familiar with instead of in a fantasy world or on another planet.

Little did I know, starting up the game would probably be one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had while playing a video game. While most of the campaign takes place in Manhattan, the introductory sequence of The Division was in Brooklyn. Not only was I living in Brooklyn at that time, but the game literally starts right outside the apartment building I was living in. It was pretty incredible to see. There was even an in-game representation of the pizza shop on the corner. Shout out to my guy Larry at Front Street Pizza.

Sure I’ve visited locations I know in other video game versions of New York City (like Marvel’s Spider-Man), but it isn’t the same. I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience like that again. And while I don’t play The Division any longer, I will always look back on it fondly for that.

Have you ever experienced something like that in a game? I would love to hear about it.

Photo by Fabian Albert on Unsplash

When I built my PC a couple of years ago, I wanted to grab some great 4K monitors to go along with it. At the time, the Dell P2715Q monitor was the recommended one on Wirecutter, so I grabbed two of those. They worked great with my PC, which is hooked up with DisplayPort cables. When I recently plugged my Sony PlayStation 4 Pro into it, I couldn‘t get it to display at a 4K resolution.

It turns out that from the factory, Dell does not enable HDMI 2.0, the spec that allows 4K video transfer. And only monitors manufactured after Feb. 2016 even have the capability. After some online sleuthing, I was able to find out how to manually enable it, not in the menus but with a specific button combination (not this again).

You can find a slightly more detailed guide on this Dell support page, but the gist is this:

  • Unplug all video cables
  • Switch to the HDMI input source
  • Press and hold the green checkmark button for 6-8 seconds
  • Disable HDMI 1.4 (which in turn enables HDMI 2.0)

I know it’s an older monitor, but hopefully, that helps if you happen to come across one. It would have been nice if they started enabling it by default.

Advance Wars 1 + 2 game cartridges on top of Advance Wars 2 instruction manual.
Advance Wars cartridges and instruction manual

A little over a year ago, a friend of mine was moving out of the country. He gave me a bunch of his NES, GBA, and some PC games to hold on to for him. One of the games was Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising. I was familiar with the series but never really spent much time playing it. I think the first Advance Wars came out at the same time as Final Fantasy X, so I was much more interested in playing that.

Turns out Advance Wars is a really great series, and I should have tried it much sooner than I actually did. After playing a bit of my friend’s copy, I went out to buy the original Advance Wars for myself. I needed to reset the data so I could start fresh but could not find any way in the menus to do so. Ah, the lovely days of cartridge-based saved games, before memory cards.

Advance Wars Game Boy Advance menu screen
Advance Wars on Game Boy Advance

Luckily my friend also gave me a bunch of instruction manuals with his games. The Advance Wars 2 manual tells you a specific set of buttons you need to hold down while starting the game to get it into reset mode.

Press SELECT, START, and the A and B Buttons to reset the game.

This button combination also works on the original Advance Wars, so I was able to reset and get started right away. It’s pretty crazy to think that random button presses were actually the way to reset a lot of games even as recently as the Nintendo DS. I’m glad we’ve greatly improved that experience.

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