New Feature: “It Came From Netflix…”

Today, I’m proud to announce a new feature on Retrosensei.com:  “It Came From Netflix…”  – This is the silly name for my long planned review of strange and wonderful things that can be found deep in the dark depths of the Netflix streaming library. Of course, there are other streaming services like Hulu that also carry some obscure and interesting content, and I’m sure at some point I’ll touch on that too, so perhaps the name “It Came From Netflix” is a little too specific… but let’s not worry too much about that right now.

So where did this idea come from? Well, anyone who spends more than a few minutes digging through the Netflix menus will undoubtedly find some pretty interesting suggestions. Sure, you have blockbuster movies, popular TV shows, and even a good selection of Netflix original content. All of that is fair game for this feature. But, Netflix also gives us some real obscurities as well. Cheesy foreign films, low budget horror flicks, indie comedies… it is like an endless vault of pop culture potential.

I remember the day I was browsing and accidentally discovered the film “Thankskilling“. This movie was hosted by Netflix for several years before finally being cleared off to make room for something else. It was a cheap horror film about a phantom turkey that would rise from the grave to seek revenge against modern American teens for the atrocities suffered by the Indians during the early colonial days. The turkey could talk (and cuss), the characters were shallow, the whole film was obviously a parody of the genre – but it was wonderful! But that’s not all. Over the years other strange and mind-bending horror films have been given the spotlight thanks to Netflix. I’ve seen movies about consciously aware killer tires, ginger bread men, zombie beavers, the list goes on and on.

These days, Netflix has recently ramped up the introduction of foreign films and television. Bollywood films from India, Chinese action flicks, Japanese anime and dramas – it’s a virtual smorgasbord of entertainment. And I’m going to share with you some of the nerdiest, strangest and most interesting things Netflix has to offer. I hope you enjoy these new articles.

Site Update!

Quick update! I’ve recently added a few new tabs to the front page: Twitter, Backlog, Streams, Radio, Record Shelf, and Pantry. Here’s a quick rundown on what these new areas are for:

TWITTER: An embedded link to my twitter feed.

BACKLOG:  I’ve finally done the unspeakable and posted my complete game backlog. This is an exhaustive list of every game that potentially interests me. Please understand that this list not necessarily represent every game I intend to play or review for this site. But it’s instead more of a personal list of title I find significant for one reason or another. As usual, if you have a favorite game that does not appear on this list and you think it should. Leave a comment.

STREAMS:  Yes. 2018 is the year that I intend to finally start streaming some gameplay. I’m not sure to what extent, but I do have plans to give this a try. I want to be clear, I’m a fan of the printed word. I think games are best reviewed in print. But, a few live streams here and there might be fun. We shall see.

RADIO: The RetroSensei podcast is dead. I really enjoyed making it and Short and I really had some good discussions on the show. But, to be completely honest, it required a lot of time and work. Time is something that is in very short supply for me these days. So instead of podcasting, I’m currently cooking up an alternative that will not require such a strict schedule.  More on this and what it entails later. Stay tuned.

RECORD SHELF: This is simply a repository for all of my album reviews.

PANTRY: This is simply a repository for all of my “Nerd Fuel” coffee reviews.

New Year 2018 – Update

Well, 2018 is finally here. My last full “update” post was in Spring of 2017. Prior to that, I posted one in Fall of 2016 where I outlined my plans for the next year. I’m happy to say that I pretty much managed to keep my promises as far as progress on my backlog. I had hoped to be finished with the PS1/N64 era by the end of 2017.  I fell short of this goal by just two games, Parasite Eve 2 and Xenogears.  I’m playing Parasite Eve 2 now and I expect to be finished within a week or two. Hopefully, Xeno will be complete by the end of February and I can start the next gen in time for Spring!

So where does that put us? Well, allow me a moment to explain how exactly I choose which games to play. First of all, I make a list of popular or important titles by system. Then, I break them down by year. Games that I want to play or games that tie-in to other reviews on this blog take priority. After that, I finish up the remaining titles on my list. Before moving on to the next generation, I check to see if there is anything that I may have overlooked. If a certain title catches my eye, I’ll play it

To date, I’ve covered, NES, SNES, Gameboy, N64, PS1 and 80’s-90’s PC titles. Of course, I occasionally throw in new game review or go off on tangents that take me to more modern systems (my Final Fantasy and Castlevania reviews for example).

Occasionally, I get emails from people to the effect of “How can you not play [your favorite game here]?? It was only one of the best games for the [your favorite system here]!!!” – Well, as much as I’d like to, it’s simply impossible to play EVERY game for every system. So, I pick the ones that I feel are important and go from there. Once I’m all caught up, I do plan to go back and fill in some gaps. Heck, I might even do so before I conquer the backlog. It’s my blog after all… But I have to set some type of limitation. If not, I’d be stuck on the PS1 era forever. There were SO MANY truly fantastic games released for that system alone.  Plus, skipping a few titles has actually worked out very well for me. For example, one classic SNES game that I did not review was Street Fighter II. A game loved by many gamers my age. I too have very fond memories of sitting on the living room floor with friends, playing that game until all hours of the night. But I just didn’t have time to fit it in with all my other reviews. Well, in a few months we will be treated to a special Street Fighter Collection by Capcom. This release is the perfect time to revisit that game, as well as other titles in the series!

So what lies ahead. Well, for the immediate future I do plan to post my reviews for Parasite Eve 2 and Xenogears. Thpse will be my final Sony PlayStation reviews from the backlog list.  I’ll end the era with a look at Tomb Raider 4 and 5 for PC. Then it’s on to a very brief catch-up on some Gameboy Color games (Pokemon Silver/Gold/Crystal, and The Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages/Seasons).  Once those are out of the way, we move on to the next generational phase, which consists of: Nintendo Gamecube, Playstation 2, Xbox, Gameboy Advance, and various PC titles from 2000-2005. I expect this phase to take me into late 2019 to mid 2020. Some of these systems have very few games worthy of mention (looking at you, Gamecube and Xbox), plus the time gap between eras is getting much shorter and some of the key titles from that era have already been covered.

I do have a couple of planned side-treks. First, at the end of this month a new game in the Final Fantasy series is being released, Final Fantasy Dissidia NT – a brawler that features Final Fantasy characters. I want to dive into this this game as soon as it comes out. But before doing so, I want to catch up on the Dissidia series. So I’ll be reviewing the first two Dissidia titles in the next few weeks.

Second, I have a VERY strong suspicion that 2018 will see a remastered version of Shenmue. This is a rare and beloved Dreamcast title that I never had the pleasure of experiencing. I fully intend to check that out at release as well, assuming of course that the rumors of it’s release are actually true.

Finally, I want to play and review a few classic PC titles from the Ultima and Elder Scrolls series that I neglected to play through. Not to mention, I have a brand new Nintendo Switch to explore…

I may try to fit many of these side-treks into the space between my generational playthroughs.

Oh! And let’s not forget the seasonal reviews! Something flirty and cute for Valentines Day and something spooky for October.

So yeah, welcome to the confusing world that is my mind.

Blah… backlog. May I live to see the end.

Games aside, my blog will continue to host reviews and discussions on other subjects of interest. D&D, music, Star Wars, coffee, and film. Yes! 2018 will see the debut of television/film reviews. Again, these will most be nostalgia trips. But most of my traffic comes from retro-related reviews and discussions.

So there we are. If all goes according to plan, we will be ready to start Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 sometime around 2020! How’s that for long-term goals?

Update: Dungeons & Dragons Plans

As the new year quickly approaches, I wanted to share my plans regarding D&D. If you read my D&D posts, you’ll know that my son and I spent a large portion of this year attending D&D games at a local hobby store. However, a change in my work schedule put an end to those outings. So, instead, I’ve been in the planning stages of starting a home-based campaign. My current goal in regards to D&D is catch up on my book reviews before the end of the year. Then, when we start our home campaign in 2018, I’ll make regular posts and updates on our progress.

Despite have a little 5E experience under my belt at this point, I’m still very much a greenhorn. My decades away from the game really took their toll on me, so it’s like learning all over again. I’ll start making some D&D related posts next week. So if you’re a follower with an interest in this subject, stay tuned!

Brief Update

I would like to apologize for the lack of updates in the last month. In a nutshell, I’ve been away dealing with some real life issues. Some things came up that required my full attention. For the last 30 days or so I’ve been focused solely on dealing with these issues that I’ve not spent a moment thinking about games or other subjects that I frequently cover on this site.  Things are slowly starting to normalize, and I expect that within a month’s time I should be posting regularly again. I appreciate some of the kind words I’ve received and your support.

Spring Cleaning 2017

So, I feel it’s time for a little update.

My game playthroughs are still on track. I actually plan to have the N64/PS1 era finished with the end of this year. Next up in my queue are Planescape Torment for the PC,  Resident Evil 3 and Final Fantasy Tactics for PS1, and Majora’s Mask for N64.  These are my current “Must Plays”. Once these are out of the way, I’ll be taking a look over my library to see if there are any other iconic games from the era before moving on.  Next up will be a handful of portable games (ie: The Zelda Oracle titles, 2nd Generation Pokemon, etc). When this blog first went live, I talked about the history of video games as experienced through my eyes. I discussed coin-op games like Centipede and Asteroids. This carried over to the Atari 2600, then the NES. I’ve covered a lot of ground in the years that I’ve been writing here. At this point, we’ve reached the half-way mark to catching up to the present day of gaming. Once this occurs, I’ll be playing and reviewing games as they are released, with the occasional retro-review thrown in.

Since the inception of this blog, I’ve slowly expanded the content from being just about video games to other forms of Nerdery.  Sometimes I write about comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, and of course Star Wars. Last year saw the introduction of my “Nerd Fuel” coffee reviews. During my New Year’s update, I also teased that I’d be expanding the subject matter even further. RetroSensei has always been a site about things that interest me. Nerd Culture, Video Games, etc. So, in keeping with that tradition, this year will see the introduction of a few other of my passions: Film and Music.

Film has always been a centerpiece of nerd culture. From B-Movies to blockbuster Super Hero flicks, nerds have taken over the world. In the coming weeks, I’m going to start discussing and reviewing some of my favorite nerd-friendly films. Sci Fi, Fantasy, Horror, etc. If you’re reading this site, you likely share my interests in a number of these subjects. So perhaps you’ll enjoy seeing my perspective, or better yet, maybe you’ll be introduced to a movie or show that you never knew about.

The same applies to my love for music. I don’t write about this often, but during my teenage and early adult years, I played in a punk rock band. My love for music knows no bounds. I enjoy everything from jazz to folk, r&b to metal. You name it. – But, rock music in particular is a passion of mine. It’s a passion that many nerds over the years have shared. If you conjure a mental image in your mind of nerdy grognards from the 80’s huddled over a table, rolling dice in a D&D game – what are they wearing? Most people will answer “rock t-shirts”. Grateful Dead, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix, the list goes on and on.  Starting soon, I’m going to begin sharing my passion for rock music. I’m going to be diving into my archive and discussing albums that have inspired and touched me over the years. Again, I hope some of you enjoy revisiting these with me, or better yet, if you’re a young reader – perhaps I can introduce you to a new world that you’ll love as much as I do.

So, there’s a lot of good stuff coming soon. I also have a few other plans for the site that I’m not ready to reveal yet. So stay tuned.

Happy New Year! (2017)

With 2016 behind us, let me take a moment to share my plans for the new year.

In terms of this site, I got a lot done last year. For RetroSensei, 2016 was the year of Final Fantasy.  That being said, 2017 is going to be the year of the backlog. It is my intention to make great headway in playing-through many of the more iconic games of yesteryear. So far on this site, I’ve touched on the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. Currently, I’m mixing things up between the N64, PS1 and late-90’s PC games. This will continue.

On the agenda for the comings months are classics like; Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask, Final Fantasy Tactics, Resident Evil 2 &3, Baldur’s Gate 2, etc.

I’ll continue to provide updates for FFXIV as well as occasionally touching on some other modern titles. I plan to play and post reviews for The Last Guardian, for example. Also, this year I plan to post more general articles, something I have not done in a while.

I have a few other ideas for 2017 that I’m not really ready to announce yet… but rest assured – I have some plans that will lay the groundwork for some big changes to the site.

Retrosensei.net has always been a very personal project of mine.  I write here mostly for my own amusement, it is a journal of my own interests. But, since the inception of this site I’ve watched the daily pageviews grow. In the age of YouTube and drive-by content delivery, I’ve been proud to present a site that focuses largely on the written word. I’ll continue to do that, but I may also open myself up to other mediums of content as well.

As always, follow me on Twitter for the most up-to-date gaming news. Twitter is my live playground.

Fall 2016 – Update

It’s been a while since I gave a site update, so here we are!

My main focus is still the same: burning through my backlog and sharing my thoughts and reviews. I am still currently in the PS1/N64 era of gaming, but the end is sight. To give you an idea on what I have planned for the coming months, I have a list of games that include classics like: Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, Resident Evil 2 and 3, and Baldur’s Gate II.

Currently, this campaign is in a bit of a holding pattern. I’m clearing my gaming calendar for the upcoming Final Fantasy XV release. I’ll be picking the game up at midnight tonight and once I do, I’ll be dedicating all of game time to finishing it so that I can provide you with a review as soon as possible.  Once this title has been filed away, I’ll be pursuing my playthrough campaign full steam ahead.

Of course, I’ll still make the occasional exception. For example, in the coming days I have some interesting articles planned to hold everyone over until the XV review is posted. These include an update on the current status of No Man’s Sky and FFXIV, a plethora of Star Wars content, as well as a few other surprises. So stay tuned as I wrap up 2016 and look forward to the future. I have some big plans on the horizon and 2017 is going to be a good year for this blog.

Tech: My Tech Picks (Late 2016)

It’s been close to a year since my  original “Tech Picks” post in January. And a lot has changed for me when it comes to technology use. So, if you’re curious to see where I stand now on various ecosystems and my personal preferences on technology, this might interest you.

Computer Platform:  Windows PC – As expected from a PC gamer, I’m still using Windows as my platform of choice. Although, I have to express my frustration with Microsoft. Windows is a solid and stable option, but they’ve really made some bone-headed moves over the last year that leaves me questioning the road ahead. I’ve been both a PC and a Mac owner, and I can tell you without hesitation, the only thing keeping me on the PC platform is upgrade-ability and the level of customization that a PC provides.

OS: Windows 10 ( 64 bit Version 1607) – Since my last Tech Picks post, Windows 10 has received a refresh. The most current version is now “Windows 10 Anniversary edition”. Overall, this update is pretty solid. But it is not without it’s faults. While I have not been directly affected, this update broke a large number of USB devices for many users. Most notably web cams, Kindle, and other multimedia hardware. At the time of this writing, this issue has been not been resolved. Also a number of cumulative updates have caused havoc for many users. It seems like MS’s quality control has left a lot to be desired.

Hardware: Since my last post I’ve left most everything the same with the exception of a hard drive upgrade. In attempt to resolve some bottleneck issues, I updated my main drive to a hybrid SSD/Mechanical hard disk. I have been very impressed with the results. Everything else has stayed the same.

CPU: Intel i7 950 @ 3.07ghz

Mainboard: GA-X58-USB3

Physical RAM:  12gbs

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960

Sound: SoundBlaster Z

Storage:  Main: Seagate 2TB Hybrid SATA    Secondary:  Hitachi 1Tb   External:  Seagate USB 320gb

External Media:  DVD RW & Memory Card reader

Power: 750watt

Mobile: Android  – Motorola NEXUS 6 (Android Nougat 7.0) – Yes. I finally jumped ship on the Windows Mobile platform. The writing had been on the wall for some time and I rode it out for as long as I could. But once I saw developers actually leaving, not just “not developing”, I knew the end was near. It seems I was right, as now even Microsoft has all but abandoned their mobile platform. So, I was forced with making a decision between Apple and Google. Now, I’ve owned iPhones before and I think they are great. I have no problems whatsoever with the iOS platform. But, As I’ve mentioned on this site before, I’m very much an “ecosystem” type of guy. I prefer to use like-services. And, being a former Microsoft/Windows user, I decided it would be best to go Android. More specifically, a NEXUS device. NEXUS phones are basic stock-Android devices. They feature the Android OS in it’s purest form, plus, they are very easy to unlock and modify. Originally, my plan was to wipe the factory OS and install CyanogenMOD (a custom ROM). This would allow me to have all the benefits of an Android phone, but I could center it around Cortana and the other Microsoft apps that I enjoy. However, I found myself surprisingly impressed with the stock Android experience. Google’s services really shocked me with how well they all work together when centered on a single device. I will elaborate more on this in other areas of this post, but the way things are going now, I’ve very much become a Google convert. In fact, I’m looking forward to the new Pixel phones that were recently announced.

Tablet: Microsoft Surface No change here. My personal needs for a tablet are very limited. I mainly only use a tablet for reading comic books and doing some light searching while in the living room. Despite now using an Android phone, I see no offerings in the tablet area that tempt me to make a switch to Android. For my purposes, the original Windows RT surface is perfect.

e-Reader: Kindle Paperwhite – No change here.  The Kindle Paperwhite is an elegant and universal option that serves my needs perfectly. Yes, there are newer Kindle options available. But the Paperwhite remains my go to device.

Virtual Digital Assistant: Google – My switch to Android complicated this a bit. Previously, I was using Cortana exclusively on both my PC and my Phone. The service synced flawlessly and I actually found using a virtual assistant useful. Today, I am using “Ok Google” on my phone when I feel the need to dictate things by voice. But since there’s no Google Assistant on PC, that’s as far as it goes. Yes, I can install Cortana on my Android, but the experience is not nearly as seamless as it was on a Windows Phone device. Cortana is still active on my PC, but with all honesty – she’s not doing much.

Web Browser: Chrome– Despite a slew of improvements made to Edge in the Win 10 Anniversary Update, the browser still pales in comparison to nearly any other. I have set aside Firefox for Chrome, as I’m using Chrome on my phone, As a result, things like bookmarks and prior search results all integrate between my devices. I find this extremely convenient. Plus, Chrome is very well supported and polished.

Search: Google – More Google migration here. As a result of my Android defection, I also find myself using Google again for searches instead of Bing. I still feel like Bing is fine engine and in some ways, superior to Google in terms of design and aesthetics. But when it comes to raw functionality, both search engines seem to be on par with each other. Having Google search integrated so tightly with my phone certainly influenced my switch.

Email and Calendar: Google/Gmail – Another victim resulting from migrating away from Windows Phone. Gmail and Google Calendar integrate so wonderfully with the Google Now launcher that comes with the NEXUS, that they have managed to sway me away from Outlook. For the record, I still hail Microsoft’s spam controls over Google’s overall, but I keep a tight lid on my email address and as a result, do not general have a spam problem.

Office Suite: Microsoft Office 2016 Nothing beats it. As far a desktop application suite, Microsoft office is the best.

Cloud Storage: OneDrive and Google Drive – As a Windows and Office user, I’ve found OneDrive to be a very convenient online storage solution. It integrates well into both Windows and Office 2016. OneDrive works great with Android and other platforms as well. These days, I use OneDrive mainly for PC Back ups, and I use Google Drive for photos and general storage. But, both are within arm’s reach at any time.

PC Gaming Services: Steam No change. For PC games, I’m pretty much a Steam only guy. The only time I buy anything on GoG or other platforms is when it’s not available on Steam.

Music Management:  MusicBee – No change here either. I have a large digital music library, all tagged and sorted. To manage such a huge collection, I need the help of software. MusicBee is my music manager for the desktop. It integrates with my phone and makes it easy to transfer files to Google Play Music on my device.  Side note: I have recently found myself subscribing to Google Play Music as well. At $10 a month, with the perk of YouTube Red (ad free YouTube), it’s been quite an enjoyable experience. I still keep and maintain a local MP3 collection, but I enjoy the vast stream-able library that Google Play Music offers.

Wearables: Fitbit Charge HR–  I have moved away from the Microsoft Band and joined my wife as a Fitbit user. I was excited with the look and concept that the band promised, but over time I found it to be lackluster and not very practical. The Band itself was large and bulky and seemed more trouble that it was worth. Apparently, I wasn’t alone. Just last week Microsoft announced they were killing off the device.  My job offers an annual discount for Fitbit purchases, so I sold my Band 2 and took advantage. I’m still not a very heavy user of wearable tech, but aside from losing a few nifty features such as text reply and application support, the Fitbit is serving me well for the time being. I do expect in the future to explore some other wearable options, but for now, I’m content.

Home Gaming Consoles:  Currently at our house we own the following: Wii U, PlayStation 3 (First Gen), PlayStation 4, Xbox 360   (there’s a spare Wii in the closet).

Mobile Gaming: Both my children and I have a Nintendo 3DS. I also have an old PSP collecting dust.