Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
02 March 2006
Young whippersnappers don't know jack
The headline on this story at Joystiq reads Xbox 360 snags classic 3rd-Party Nintendo title. The title in question is...Paperboy. You know, the classic arcade game from Atari.

The author tries to justify the headline by saying most readers would have seen the game on the NES first. But that makes no sense! The game that the Xbox 360 is getting is not a classic NES game, but the original arcade game called Paperboy!

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--Matt Matthews at 10:03
Comment [ 10 ]

Comments on this post:

Which memorable NES classics sit in third-party vaults outside the control of the Nintendo corporation? Those are the next candidates to be picked up, dusted off, and ported to Xbox Live Arcade.

In context, the post is even stranger than you made it sound. Add to that bizarreness the above ending, which made even less sense. So the fact that these things were not just NES games but originally arcade games allows them to somehow backdoor themselves our of Nintendo's "control"? And the deal is that NES games are being ported for play on Xbox Live Arcade -- SECRETLY DISGUISED AS THEIR ARCADE COUNTERPARTS?!!?!

Can't say the comment I'm writing now is particularly well written either, but sheesh. And I'm betting the joystiq guy's been getting more than four hours of sleep a night recently.

By Blogger rufbo, at 02 March, 2006 14:48  

Wow, and here I thought the Joystiq guys were smart. What a boner. I didn't even think the NES adaptation was all that great!

And whatever memorable NES classics might be waiting to be recycled onto Xbox Live, they won't hold a candle to the NES classics that will never make it there: Nintendo's own first-party titles. It's cool for Microsoft to try to fight them with classic Atari and Williams games though.

By Blogger JohnH, at 02 March, 2006 23:01  

@johnh: That's true...

But seriously, who needs those very old Atari/Williams games... if you can play Street Fighter II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 with an endless number of human challengers? (and geometry wars!)

And that's the real challenge Nintendo is up against, I think - the goddamn highly motivating live competetion. Scoreboards and whatnot.

By the way, is nobody actually afraid that Nintendo might screw things up in the emulation department? I mean... maybe not with NES emulation (though I remember thinking that the unlockable Metroid in Metroid Prime was just an above average emulation job) but with their more advanced hardware?

I fear for the sound of SNES games and I am thinking "blurred choppiness" when I hear emulated N64.

Oh, and that Joystiq-dude is just plain strange... and it's making no sense whatsoever. Knowing Atari, Midway and and whoever, they will end up porting their stuff to the Rev. too... because... that means more cash for them. And even if the Rev. comes without Paperboy... I think Metroid, Kid Icarus, Zelda and a whole bunch of others will make up for that terrible loss.
I mean... Paperboy... fun for 5 minutes... oh my.

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 03 March, 2006 03:44  

Well aulbath, arcade Paperboy is a more interesting game than NES Paperboy (although no version of Paperboy is all that great without a handlebar controller).

NES Metroid is actually emulated pretty well in Metroid Zero Mission. (And is also updated almost perfectly by that title at the same time.) I didn't spend much time with the Metroid Prime emulation of the game, but I don't remember any flaws.

Some of the comments in the threat are... annoying. Many of them point out what we have, that it should be remembered as an arcade game first, but one makes the claim that the game would be *forgotten* today if it weren't for the NES, which is absurd. Robotron never got an NES port, yet it was a Live Arcade headliner.

In any case, making this story even more of a non-issue than it was before is the fact that Paperboy, like Gauntlet, Robotron, Joust AND Smash TV, are all playable in Midway Arcade Treasures. Why pay five bucks times four for those games for play on an uber expensive system when twenty bucks gets you all of them on a current-gen console, plus twenty more? The only answers are updated graphics (if you're interested in classic games that's not going to be a big deal for you) and online play. The only Xbox Live Arcade game I know of that could really be helped by online play is Gauntlet -- which *could* be awesome.

But not Paperboy.

By Blogger JohnH, at 03 March, 2006 06:20  

@johnh:

Maybe I never went through enough real-life Paperboying to really enjoy the digital counterpart, I guess. But I fired up Mame, gave it a try with a PS2 pad - and I was shutting it down after 7 minutes.
But in the end, it's all a matter of taste I guess.

Just played Metroid Zero Mission, despite beautiful graphics... all I can remember is it's incredibly short play time (took me less than 4 hrs). Anyway, might be that emulation was more decent than I remember - just don't know anymore, it's been a long time.

Well, I am pretty confident that the hardware of today should be able to emulate some vintage hardware that's round about 30 years old - still what about all the custom chipsets in various SNES games? It's special soundprocessing, that even the GBA can't get right (see Yoshi's Island) though it's a Nintendo-port on Nintendo-Hardware.

And after seeing the horrible N64 Zelda emulation on the Cube Zelda Collection (especially Majoras Mask - which is slow and suffers from soundproblems) - I am kinda worried. They couldn't iron out those things out on the Gamecube, and even said so in the manual. Why would they do that or be able to do it nowadays?

In general, I think that's just not acceptable - especially, since I can get it right on a PC with some homemade drivers for some emulator or another. And that's by people who have no actual ressources to work with in the first place. Big companies just don't try hard enough.

Speaking of that, if those mentioned Midway games are REALLY arcade-perfect, then 5$ might be a good investment.
Because Midway Arcade Treasures is faaaar away from being Arcade-Perfect. Having slowdowns and framerate drops in games that look plain crap (in that lovely, pixelated retro-way) compared to what else we see on Xbox is nothing but a bad joke gone horribly wrong. It's even worse on Cube and PS2 actually.

Oh, and about updated graphics... having some oldies looking fresh like Geometry Wars wouldn't be so bad - I really dig that style. But that's only working on the likes of Robotron - I wouldn't want Gauntlet to be all new and fancy (especially not after the SEGA Classics desaster on PS2...)

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 03 March, 2006 07:38  

Well, to each his own concerning Paperboy. The girlfriend of a friend of mine used to play it obsessively, until she finally managed to finish a week. That was scary to watch, she would actually spend hours at it.

Metroid Zero Mission: The short play time is a fair bit longer if you go for 100% items. (Indeed, the final boss is made much harder if you find every item.) But the coolest thing about it is the actual in-game support for sequence breaking. In a way, the game was made for Metroid masters, as it's possible to pull off absurd stunts like winning with only 15% of the items. Naturally, learning how to do that takes a lot longer than just playing enough to beat the final boss.

Yoshi Island's sound: The SNES actually has all-digital, sample-based audio, and nothing the GBA isn't capable of I believe, so whatever differences in sound between the two games is likely either intentional, an oversight, or a result of the system's speakers.

The Gamecube versions of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask are not emulated, but instead are ports. Given the complexity of those games and the fact that they're only one generation old, and I'd say they did a pretty good job. I did not notice GC Majora's Mask being slow, and I don't remember a sound problem, although I didn't finish that version of the game.

I played enough of Midway Arcade Treasures that I think I have a pretty good handle on the quality of its emulation. It does have its flaws (Gauntlet's start level problem, Rampart's sound bugs and how Rampage World Tour in MAT2 will freeze up eventually are the worst), but overall is pretty good. Anyway, some hacking of the games was likely required in Live Arcade's treatment, to allow for the updated graphics and internet support.

By Blogger JohnH, at 03 March, 2006 13:42  

Well, neither PC Emulators nor ports managed to bring back the original sound of the SNES, at least in certain games - so, there must be something special about it. It's not a great difference if you don't care though.

Especially Majora's Mask has some static and "cracking" sounds once in a while. Mostly after cutscenes or when you change areas. It's also mentioned in the manual that these problems occur. And more often than Nintendo wanted.
I think Majora GC feels a bit unresponsive and slow, it's not really smooth. Might be that I remember the N64 version of it better than it was, though.

Considering that the Hardware on the Cube is like several times more powerful than the Cube, it's a shame it's not perfect. I really don't think "pretty good job" is good enough. The goal should be perfect not something close to it. Especially on gaming legends like the Zeldas.

Not all the games on Midway Arcade Treasures are badly done. But especially Mortal Kombat II and 3 suffer from shitty emulation. MK3 is far from being a 1:1 copy of the real arcade cabinet. There's the shadow flickering, the crappy sound (make that, espeically the crappy sound), some serious frame drops and a lot of small quirks (music doesn't fade out, messes up other sounds and so on). Also, the quality of the samples and music seems to be not very good either. And I hear Hard Drivin' just takes a break some times, let's your car spin like crazy in the air and then crash it to death. Then add those Rampage freezes, Gauntlet trouble. Most of that problems weren't in the original, so why are they here now?

But I think you and me have quite different opinions on how well a game should be emulated/ported. You can live with overall pretty good, while I want it actually better than perfect.

And it's somewhat strange to see my not very well equipped 2 year old computer emulate all of Midways classics in absolute perfection, while the Xbox/360 can't - eventhough it usually displays games that my PC couldn't run that smooth and goodlooking no matter how hard I tried.

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 03 March, 2006 18:27  

Ehm... "Considering that the Hardware on the Cube is like several times more powerful than the Cube,"

Make that: hardware of the Cube - more powerful than N64

And I read through your MAT1 reviews there... and what you write about the emulation there, sounds horrible. Maybe it doesn't matter for people who just enjoy these games for a bit, and then turn back to their other, newer titles.

But I seriously play them, like back in the days... and then, those quirks are just not fun. They shouldn't be there. But as I said, we have quite a different opinion about that.

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 03 March, 2006 18:35  

Yep, I noticed how Nintendo noted the sound problems in the manual. I hadn't noticed them myself, but then I didn't play much of it on the Gamecube.

Mortal Kombat emulation I may not know so much about, since they were the games I played the least on MAT2. But you're right about Hard Drivin', I've experienced that problem many times, and in fact I noted that problem in my quick look at MAT2. I don't pretend that all the games are well emulated, and I was referring mostly to the original package anyway, which probably got tested more than MAT2 I'm guessing.

I agree that the quirks should not be there. It was almost heartbreaking to hear the sound bugs in Rampart. But I consider that most players won't mind them, and that they'd probably take a game completely out rather than fix a niggly problem (which is why STUN Runner was held back for MAT3), so I count my blessings.

By Blogger JohnH, at 03 March, 2006 22:37  

Well, as you said - the majority might not care. And the people who do care, are probably using MAME anyway to get things right.

Still, I feel a bit tricked by it - and if XBL fixes some of the quirks in my favourites - I don't see why I shouldn't go for them again. Even at the hefty pricetag of 5$ per game.

But maybe there will be a MAME360 in the future or another MAT for this next-next generation of consoles - and then they might finally get it right.
As of now, MAT fails in delivering what the packages offer - 1:1 Arcade Experiences.

By Anonymous Aulbath, at 04 March, 2006 03:53  

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