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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Cell Phones And Our Communication

How Our Obsession With These Devices Has Changed Society
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There are almost as many cell phone subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people in the world, which is 7 billion. Everyone in our society has experienced the impacts of cell phones and the evolution of them. The evolution of the cell phone, the apps we have on our phones, and how social media impacts mental health and everyday lives all go into how cell phones have forever changed our communication with the world.

Cell phones did not always look like the phones we have today, they have changed drastically throughout the years. The first mobile phone was a Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, released on April 3, 1973. This weighed about 2 pounds, took 10 hours to recharge, and held 30 numbers. It cost $4,000.

Then came the first pocket-sized cell phone, a Nokia 6110, released in December of 1997. This was actually the first phone to have features such as games, calculators, currency converters, and calendars and marketed to the general population. And of course, came the first modern smartphone on June 29, 2007; the iPhone by Apple.

This was the stepping stone into the world of cell phone technology we have today. Today, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, while 92% of 18-29-year-olds own one. Actually, more people have a cell phone than they do a toilet. Shocking right? Modern smartphones have allowed humans to communicate with anyone in the world instantly.

150 years ago it would take the Pony Express 10 days to deliver a letter from Missouri to California. Now, that would take just seconds to send a text message. Texting today has divided people into two groups: iMessage and SMS. Those without iMessage capable devices are sometimes excluded from group chats.

Not only are we able to communicate through text message, but also applications. In May 2017 there were 2,200,000 apps in the app store. Apps have made us all feel the need to constantly broadcast our lives and have a desire for instant gratification, receiving likes or favorites on what we post. We've become obsessed.

Although, many apps do actually have a functional purpose other than social or entertainment including, fitness, transportation, weather, personal finance, entertainment, etc. Apps like these, and most others, make things more efficient and time-saving for us.

Phones have enabled us to communicate with people from all the way across the world. Communication has improved from taking months for a message to travel across the country in seconds to send across the world. With the mobility of cell phones evolving each day we are able to put them away in our pocket and pull them out as needed.

Texting has also definitely changed our communication skills with face to face people. There are many people today that are uncomfortable having face-to-face conversations with others. Granted, certain things are a lot easier to say over a text rather than saying it in person. People feel that since there is a screen separating them and the person on the other side they are able to say things that they wouldn't normally say. Texting has also changed our grammar ie. “text talk” (LOL, IDK, HMU, U, WUT, SMH). Some of these phrases have even been added to the dictionary.

As you can all see cell phones have come from a 2-pound brick to a light as a feather glass device that has created improvements for our lives but also brought negative things to light. I explained just how the physical cell phone has evolved, how it brought apps to our lives and the impacts they have on us, how cell has made texting mainstream communication instead of face to face conversation, as well as the social awkwardness that they have created for our generation.

I hope with this information, you have a better understanding how cell phones have impacted our lives.

Cover Image Credit: Faye Flam

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Far Cry 5 Impressions

My thoughts on the latest installment in the franchise
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When Far Cry 5 was first announced back in 2017, it caused controversy among gamers and non-gamers alike based on it's setting and antagonists. Some went so far as to say it was a "white genocide simulator" and some native Montanans threatened to hold an armed march, based on the cover art alone. I didn't buy a copy when it released last month, but not for those reasons. The Far Cry series has always delved into controversial issues, so this newest installment doesn't phase me. I was beginning to think that the Far Cry franchise had gone stale, and the subsequently released gameplay videos didn't convince me otherwise. Far Cry 5 looked to be more of the same. My brother rented the game from Redbox last week and he let me try it out when he was finished. After playing through the first few hours, I realized that I was...somewhat right.

For those unaware Far Cry 5 takes place in the fictional Hope County, located in the state of Montana. A fundamentalist doomsday cult, led by pastor Joseph Seed, has risen to power and has influence over the majority of the residents. After several kidnappings and forced baptisms, among other atrocities, the police department is called in to arrest Seed. Things go south and the playable character, simply named "the deputy", is stranded in the isolated Hope County. The new goal is to topple Seed's hierarchy by rescuing and aiding the townsfolk, destroying propaganda, and generally causing as much chaos as possible.

I haven't played through the story( which takes up to 25+ hours to complete) so I can't give my full analysis of the game. I did, however, find some enjoyment in the time I played. First off, the visuals are breathtaking and the music is eerily calming. I could pause the game and listen to the soundtrack when I study if I wanted to! The player can also customize the deputy to their liking; one can choose their gender, race, and clothing before venturing out into the wilderness. Weapons can be customized as well.

Still, I couldn't help but notice some issues. Despite the contemporary American setting, the world feels barren. Plus my suspension of disbelief was broken a few times; if Seed is such a threat, why haven't the feds stepped in? The deputy is a silent protagonist; When other NPCs (non-playable characters) talk to you, it doesn't feel authentic. Rather than having a decent conversation, it sounds as if they're spouting exposition to you. Regarding the gameplay, it hasn't changed much since Far Cry 3 ( released in 2012). You go to an NPC for an assignment, raid and kill a settlement full of bad guys, potentially save some hostages, and save the day! Rinse and repeat... The campaign is an assortment of fetch quests, essentially. Past games in the series have done this, too. I didn't mind then, probably didn't realize it either, but I'm aware of that now and I've graudally grown tired of it. My brother had to return the game, so I didn't play as much of it as would've liked to. Maybe the gameplay improves as one progresses through the story, but from my experience it leaves much to be desired.

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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