A Look At Nintendo's Satellaview

A Look At Nintendo's Satellaview

Exploring Nintendo's 1995 Super Famicom satellite modem
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Over the years, Nintendo has become known as the experimental company in terms of gaming hardware design. By this point, many of us are already accustomed to their trailblazing approaches to motion control with the Wii, or touchscreen gaming with the handheld DS family, but many in the West aren’t familiar with one of their most interesting experiments: the Satellaview.

In 1995 Nintendo joined forces with St.Giga, a satellite radio service in Japan dedicated to playing ambient and New Age music. While this may not sound like the most sensible combination in ‘90s gaming, Nintendo had a plan. Through this collaboration, the Satellaview was born, a satellite gaming peripheral designed to broadcast games and events to players across Japan.

The Satellaview attached to the expansion port on the bottom of the Super Famicom console (Japan’s Super Nintendo) and ran through the same wiring as a satellite television. Nintendo designed the games and planned the events while St.Giga was left in charge of data maintenance, server managements, and the sound broadcasting of “SoundLink” games.


These “SoundLink” games allowed Nintendo and St.Giga to circumvent the Super Famicom’s low quality audio systems and take advantage of satellite broadcasting’s higher quality sounds. Music and announcer narration would be broadcast live to gamers as they played whatever game had been scheduled for that hour. The games were positioned on a fixed time slot called the Famicom Hour, which worked like a television schedule where gamers “tuned in” to download the broadcasted game, and play them alongside the live music and narration.

This is where the concerns with the Satellaview come in. Due to the impermanent broadcast nature of these games, they pose a huge problem in terms of preservation. Without physical copies released at the store, the only way to preserve a Satellaview game is to keep it saved to whichever memory cartridge it was originally broadcast to. While this may not seem like a major issue, the problem lies in the fact that each of these memory paks only held about one game, meaning that to keep a game the player would have to never use its memory pak to download another broadcast, as it would rewrite the previous file. Because of this there are a great deal of Satellaview games that are either no longer available or cobbled back together by online communities such as some of the Legend of Zelda events.

Another problem arises in terms of background music and narration. Since Nintendo sought to achieve higher sound quality through live broadcasting the only way to preserve the music and announcer’s narration was to actually record the sounds yourself. Since most people playing a videogame don’t think to set up a tape recorder there are quite a few games where the game itself has been preserved, but there is a distinct lack of music in some sections.

The Satellaview is one of the fascinating stories of 1990s gaming, and a testament to Nintendo’s weird, experimental nature in terms of hardware. It also stands as a strong argument for further preservation efforts in tech and gaming. With St.Giga now long defunct and Nintendo having moved on past its satellite broadcasting experiments, the only way to preserve these games at present is for gamers to piece them back together. Some of these games were released episodically over the course of multiple events, while others lack recorded sounds to reconstruct the announcements and music. Without the continued efforts of preservationists and online fans many of these games would be lost.

Cover Image Credit: images.everyeye.it

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Does Technology Make Us More Alone?

Technology -- we all love it and we all use it, but how is it affecting us?
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In this day and age, it is near impossible to do anything without the use of technology. You can pay your bills, manage your bank accounts and even chat with a customer service representative all with the use of your smartphone.

Is the use of technology starting to take away from our person-to-person interaction? Think about how often you grab your smartphone or tablet and text your friends instead of picking up the phone to call them or, better yet, making plans to hang out in person.

Technology is supposed to make us feel more connected by allowing us to stay in touch with our friends by using social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and of course, texting. But are our smartphones getting in the way of socializing? Does technology make us feel more alone?

There is a term that is commonly used, "FOMO" –– short for "fear of missing out." Yes, this is a real thing. If for some crazy reason you don't check your Twitter or Facebook news feed every 10 minutes are you really missing out?

The fact that we have become so dependent on knowing exactly what is going on in other people's lives is sad. We should be focusing on our own lives and our own interactions and relationships with people.

Technology is making us more alone because instead of interacting with our friends in person, we are dependent on using our phones or tablets. We start to compare ourselves and our lives to others because of how many likes we get on our Instagram photos.

We are forgetting how to use our basic communication skills because we aren't interacting with each other, anymore. We are too busy with our noses in our phones. Young kids are dependent on a tablet to keep them entertained rather than playing with toys. That is not how I want my children to grow up.

As a society, we will start to become very lonely people if we don't start making changes. We are ruining personal relationships because of the addiction to our smartphones and checking our social media sites every five minutes.

It's time for us to own our mistakes and start to change. Next time you reach for your phone, stop yourself. When you are with your friends, ignore your phone and enjoy the company of your loved ones around you.

Technology is a great thing, but it is also going to be the thing that tears us apart as a society if we don't make changes on how dependent we are on it.

Cover Image Credit: NewsOK

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4 Substitutes For Social Media

From an existential crisis at the eye doctor.

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Perhaps the most perplexing question I have ever received has been from my eye doctor. I go for a checkup every summer, and I get asked this same question every time, but for some reason, it always ignites an existential crisis in my soul. "How many hours do you spend on your phone?" Yikes. The first couple times, I tended to underestimate my addiction to my screen, "Maybe two hours," I would reply. This answer was always met with a scornful stare that dug deep into the brain. After a few years of back and forth, we settled on six hours, but part of me believes, in fact, knows, that I am once again underestimating myself. So how many hours do I truly spend on my phone? I am not one hundred percent sure. I know that there is a feature in the settings of my iPhone that can tell me, but there is no way I am ever checking that.

Why am I so scared of finding out the real number? Well, because it will simply confirm what I already know about myself: I spend way too much time on my phone, and I know I am not the only one. Besides the fact that my generation's eyesight will probably be shot by forty, we are locked into a virtual life and missing the one that is flying right before our eyes. We are all constantly trying to live the best lives, but is it for our own benefit or for the benefit of our social image? Graciously, I say that fifty percent of my efforts are heard towards the latter. So in this season of my life or extreme self-evaluation and in an effort to rewire my brain before I'm set in my ways when my brain stops developing, I am offering up substitutes to social media for my own benefit and for the benefit of my generational counterparts.

1. Instagram? Go on a walk instead

https://goodstock.photos/people-walking-by-street/

We love posting pictures of pretty things, but do we actually enjoy the pretty things? I mean, I rarely look at my 107 pictures of the Eiffel Tower. So maybe if we could substitute taking and posting pictures for Instagram, we would see so much more than our limited screen has to offer. There is life in nature and in cities. Breathing life. Not digital life.

2. Twitter? Why not hang out with your friends?

https://pixabay.com/en/fashion-young-people-teens-1219507/

I love a good laugh just as much the next guy, so Twitter is my go to for giggles. But how often do I actually laugh out loud to tweets in my bed? Okay, sometimes, I will admit it. But I have found that sharing tweets with my friends gives me the most joy, so why not, I don't know, share thoughts with my friends? Conversation. If you think your friends are funny online, boy oh boy you'll be surprised to see just how funny they can be in real life.

3. Facebook? Dear God, anything else. How about a book?

https://stocksnap.io/photo/H0VXBZUZP3

Ah, Facebook. I love reading posts that share every part of someone's daily life. You did laundry today? Awesome, Mom! A book, though, a book shares all the essential parts of a story. It's exciting. Riveting. I think we can all agree that we lose brain cells spending time of Facebook, but has anyone ever got dumber from reading? I think not.

4. Snapchat? Stare at your friends. It's awesome, trust me.

https://pixabay.com/en/boy-children-guys-human-watch-1105891/

Okay, this one is a joke. But seriously. There are a million things you can do other than sending pictures of your face back and forth with your friends (or you feet if you're having a fight). Bake a cake. Do some work. Discover your passion. Build real relationships. Half of the people I Snapchat, I don't even to.

TNow I'm not damning social media to Hell. It can be a fun thing, and it is engrained in our generation; it is not going away any time soon. My suggestions seem simplistic and silly, but are we actually prioritizing these things over social media? Probably not. But maybe we can learn to take a step back. Maybe we can learn to live our lives rather than living through our favorite vlogger. Maybe we can be able to face our eye doctors with honesty. Maybe we can gain back some of that wondrous gaze in our eyes that we had before they became blinded by the light of our smartphones.

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