T’other day, I was reading on TVTropes the comments/page relating to the Sega/Nintendo wars of the early 90s. Of course we in the UK missed out on a lot of it – except perhaps in the pages of the computer media where Sega and Nintendo fan boys (and girls too) would just trash each other, chiefly to no other avail than to prove Freud correct. Did it ultimately matter though in the development of 4th Generation consoles? On paper, it was no-contest. The Megadrive (or Genesis to the rest of the world) was a lousy console compared with the SNES; weaker processes, lousy RAM, poor colour palette and yet it was more than able to hold its own against Nintendo’s offering. Of course, Sega’s winning strategy was superior marketing, particularly in North America. They didn’t so much promote themselves so much as reassure existing owners that their product was the superior one. Nintendo appeared to use the power of momentum to help their cause and when Streetfighter 2 was released…no contest. But those days feel wholly removed from today’s “Console Wars” are more than about the machine and the games but what multimedia experiences are on offer.

It’s still fun to speculate what would have happened had Commodore not run out of money for the CD32 or had the judge in the case not barred the console from being shipped to North America over allegations of infringements. Perhaps it’s more partisan of me but I think it would have kept up with the Playstation as games such as GTA would have had a simultaneous release and Commodore was still backed by many developers – or at least those who hadn’t been gobbled up by Sony (like Psygnosis). Would a three-way war with Sega have helped the Saturn? Not impossible I guess. More competition means more opportunity for software houses. Would it have also kept Commodore in the PC market? Say an “Amiga 10K” powered by Intel or AMD? Who can say?I finally reached the now infamous torture scene in GTA V and having played through it, I admit I was left thoroughly uncomfortable by it all. I should acknowledge the creativity and design of Rockstar for making this scene so realistic and awkward – it’s difficult to invest emotion into a video game character, particularly an NPC. But conversely, it was OTT, even for the world of GTA which is an exercise in hyperbole. All in all, I was pleased when the victim of the torture was helped to escape in a cut scene and I hope that if there is a GTA VI, we learn his character has a better time of it outside of Los Santos.

Dr Do(o)m and I played a game of Eldritch Horror on Saturday, chiefly as I wanted to relearn the rules ahead of Thursday. I was Chun-Li and he was the Shaman (as opposed to Ebenezeer Goode’s Shamen). We lasted one hour and a giant spider consumed the world. So sorry folks. Still, I think the nuances are sorted out so bring on the challenge. It’s been what – four months but I finally broke out the Talisman Woodlands expansion pack with Dr Do(o)m and Brendan and we just didn’t finish the game. It plays a little differently compared with the other three board-adding expansion packs as the use of fate has been overhauled whilst the new characters have special abilities involving the use of tokens (I was the ancient oak and I could get stronger as the game progressed). Also, as one progressed through the woodlands, there were game-changing effects in play with a different goal for each player. That said, progress seemed to be slow and measured. It’s not a region in Talisman you can just blindly enter and expect to progress through like the Highlands or the Dungeon for example but you need to build up a little before wandering around blithely. I also feel that this expansion needs to be played with one of the other boards – no other reason than a gut instinct. Using the card-only expansions wasn’t enough.

I also downloaded a copy of Picross 6 for the 3DS, I think the first major purchase (major???) for that console in six months. I was also pleased at the number of free puzzles unlocked as I own titles 1-5 (they give freebies). It’ll keep me busy for a while at least. My oft-repeated rant to Nintendo still stands however – release more damn games through the Virtual Console Service! I don’t care about independent titles being squeezed out third party developers, I want to play the games of yesteryear either for the first time or on a nostalgia trip. And if they can put some Master System games on there too…perfect.

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