Category: Gaming

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Android challenges Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft in gaming

Posted by Charbax – June 10, 2011
Android Game Changer
Android Game Changer

The new Dual-core and Quad-core ARM Processors that are coming out in the newest ARM Powered Smartphones, Tablets and Set-top-boxes in the coming months can display more than 200 million triangles per second! The 5-year old PS3 does 250 million triangles a second. XboX 360 does 500 million triangles a second. So in terms of performance, the graphics improvements on ARM Powered devices are absolutely amazing. Graphics performance on ARM processors seems to be more than doubling each year. Consider that the ARM Powered device probably uses 100x less power than the PS3 or XboX 360! One theory why Sony disables HDMI output on PSVita may be because the $249 Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 Powered PSVita may actually be more powerful for gaming than the 5-year-old $299 Cell Processor based PS3!

Here are some of the angles that may make of Android the near futures biggest home and portable console platform:

1. Openness

- Any small game developer can easily release their games to a global audience without asking anyone. Gamers can also install whichever game they want (legally or ilegally) just by downloading the .apk downloaded from any website.

2. Choice

- All manufacturers can make the Android gaming devices, not just Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

3. Lower prices

- More manufacturers competing means lower prices and better features. Also, Google can start a global gaming all-access pass, something like $10/month for hard core gamers to gain access to all the games as much as they want. Who would want to pay $50/game through retailers anymore?

4. Remove intermediaries

- Games in the age of the internet are meant to be downloaded from the Internet. No more need to distribute physical disks at retail stores. Even for big games that take up several gigabytes, the games can be downloaded through p2p with no central distribution cost.

5. Emulation of all previous consoles

- New Dual-core and Quad-core Android devices can probably emulate all the previous Nintendo, Sony consoles, I expect even N64, Dreamcast and PS2 games to get emulated smoothly. This means tens of thousands of games are thus (legally or ilegally) available to all Android gamers. Even the oldest Nintendo NES console games released 25 years ago are as cool as Angry Birds, and SNES games released nearly 20 years ago have about the same quality level of graphics as Angry Birds. This means through (legal or illegal) emulation, from day 1, Android devices can have about 1000 blockbuster games as good as Angry Birds.

Nintendo is awesome.

Yet I feel they try too hard to hold onto old business models that consist of centrally distributing the games on disks through retailers. And they may believe too strongly that only themselves must control the gaming hardware, that they would not legally allow other hardware makers to play their games.

Nintendo needs to forget about retailers and they need to embrace everyone elses hardware. Nintendo needs to distribute all their games as downloads, provide legal access to all their games on Android for that sub-$10/month global gaming subscription plan. This would instantly provide Nintendo with Billions of dollars of pure new profit. They can still release new consoles, they can even release reference designs and certification branding "Certified by Nintendo" for how they think Android devices should be designed to provide the best gaming user interfaces and performance.

The Nintendo Wii U announced this week at E3, seems to be an upgraded HD capable Wii with a new controller that basically seems to be an ARM Powered 6.2" capacitive tablet, with perhaps not much local processing going on with most of the 3D game processing happening on the IBM Power PC powered Wii U console, thus the new Wii Controller may act most as some kind of remote input and display device designed to have minimal latency.

Wii U is going to be awesome and all. And I want a Quad-Core PSVita for $249 this Christmas, I just think both are kind of sad in their closed philosophy. Those are basically awesome ARM Powered hardwares which just aren't designed to take full advantage of their potential, they have features blocked or removed in them because Nintendo and Sony believe only in their previous-century business models, sad.

But who knows, Nintendo and Sony still have time to adjust their plans. They still both may take full advantage of Android opportunity and feel they need to open up towards it instead of ignoring it.

JXD M1000 $40 PS One video games TV console emulator

Posted by Charbax – April 17, 2011

JXD provides this affordable games console based on the Actions G1000 processor for games emulation of several consoles up to Playstation One.

Nintendo Wii2 to be be ARM Powered?

Posted by Charbax – March 16, 2011
Logo circa 2008
Image via Wikipedia

There are some rumors and speculation that Nintendo might unveil Wii2 at E3 in June. Here's what I think Nintendo should do:

1. Sell it for $99 as an ARM Powered set-top-box

2. Use ARM Cortex-A9 Dual-core or Quad-core with future proof 1080p graphics, even support 1080p 3D output.

3. Little integrated storage, but include SD card slot(s) and support USB Host for external hard drive storage.

4. It's a Blu-ray player, but all the games should be downloadable and stored on SD cards or USB hard drives.

5. Nintendo should start unlimited games subscription packages, games are downloaded from the Internet, eventually even use BitTorrent, synchronize also unlimited games onto the Nintendo 3DS and using new official Game Cart for previous Nintendo portable and home consoles. The main problem with this is the disruption of retail stores and the ways they promote the sale of video games. But it's a change Nintendo has to make. $10-$20 per month in a subscription should give unlimited access to all past and future Nintendo games for home and portable consoles.

6. Wii2 should run Google TV software in my opinion, so it also doubles as the best HDTV VOD Set-top-box, so it disrupts regular TV programming, Nintendo can turn everything to on-demand entertainment in the living room.

7. All previous Nintendo games can be updated online, and can receive new online gaming modes.

8. Built-in HD video conferencing, might require additional HD usb webcam.

9. The Wii2 creates a WiFi hotspot to interact automatically with the 3DS/DSi/DS, and includes Bluetooth also for remote controls, including also a bluetooth keyboard and a bluetooth headset.

10. New innovative virtual reality gaming mechanisms, might add Kinect-style 3D cameras, but more likely, new Wii game controllers, new gloves and even detectors on feet for a full virtual reality experience. Maybe they integrate sensors like the Freescale MMA9550L in their new remotes and compact body sensors. Some type of glasses with two IR emitters perhaps as well using this trick.

11. The size should be barely larger than a dual CD case. With Blu-ray player in there, HDMI output (possibly HDMI input/throughput also for full Google TV like features and easy setup), Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 host ports, new TV sensor ports.

Which ARM chip provider could get that deal with Nintendo to be mass produced into Wii2? Could it be Nvidia's Kal-El, OMAP4440, i.MX6, Marvell's Tri-Core, Qualcomm's Quad-core? What do you think Nintendo should do for the Wii2? Write in the comments..

Nintendo 3DS is awesome!

Posted by Charbax – March 1, 2011

My first time playing with the Nintendo 3DS! This is going to popularize non glasses 3D screen for the first time! The 3D experience is actually awesome, it's impressive, it works! I just wish Nintendo would install Android Honeycomb on this device and do something like the Playstation Suite, provide all their games legally to the Android platform. They should also make a 3G/LTE-enabled modem add-on for the 3DS to allow for online gaming outside of WiFi hotspots, and they should do a games subscription model, $10/month to access all the games as downloads, including new level upgrades and online gaming for all games.

Features PSP2/NGP may be lacking

Posted by Charbax – January 30, 2011

So the PSP2 seems to be the most powerful ARM Powered device ever announced and demonstrated thus far, Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 is awesome, 5" capacitive OLED touch screen sounds fun. But the device does seem to lack some features which I think Sony could have "simply" decided not to purposefully hold back from including on this device:

- Why not use Honeycomb OS instead of a new proprietary OS? I feel it may be a sad thing to have such extremely powerful hardware and not have the software to go with it to fully take advantage of that hardware. Sony should have developed their whole platform based on PlayStation Suite, have it work on all other Android devices and use Honeycomb OS on the PSP2/NGP for full third party applications, UI and web browser support.

- No SD Card storage? Why introduce yet another proprietary storage media? Sony does this far too often, please stick to standards, there are billions of SD cards out there on the market, they could even have provided dual-SD card slots for even more storage expansion capability.

- A fold-out hardware keyboard would be cool. The PSP2 does have a proprietary connector underneath which in theory could be used to connect a folding keyboard add-on, so this may be considered just a feature request. I'm afraid Sony wants to facilitate expensive procrastination rather than cheap productivity.

- No HDMI output? Sony should have included a standard Mini-HDMI, Micro-HDMI or full sized HDMI connector on the side of the device. Since it is as powerful as the PS3, they should allow for connecting it easily to any HDTV to turn the device into a home console.

- Is the SIM card slot unlocked HSDPA? I think it needs to be. And eventually Sony could collaborate with carriers around the world to provide "free" bandwidth on a Sony SIM card that would work internationally and not require a daily/monthly subscription, but may charge by the GB or may be totally free when used for services that can be monetized elsewhere, same way as the 3G connecting in the International Kindle. Even more perfectly, it would have included a dual sim card slot, thus offering also the possibility to have a voice/sms SIM and a data SIM or a local data SIM and the international Sony SIM at the same time without having to swap them in and out too often.

- Does PlayStation Suite include a full unlimited access subscription plan? I think a sub-$20 monthly subscription plan should give gamers access to unlimited amounts of game downloads and online play, including the complete catalog of PS, PS2, PSP games and if possible more. In a perfect world, Sony would find a way to licence access and include all Nintendo NES/SNES/N64/GB/GBC games in the same subscription plan.

Which features do you wish PSP2/NGP included? You can post in the comments.

Here is the official PSP2/NGP announcement keynote video:

Which ARM Processor is in the Nintendo 3DS?

Posted by Charbax – January 16, 2011

A Nintendo 3DS has been leaked on a Chinese forum, they immediately posted teardown pictures, I am trying to find out what type of ARM Processor Nintendo has decided to use for their next pocketable gaming console. When Nintendo upgrades a console it's a big deal, as that platform is expected to sell upwards hundreds of millions of units and keep selling for several years after its release which is in February/March, Nintendo are known to choose slower components to keep their costs down and aim for long-term reliability over short-term spec bragging. I already posted the features that I think Nintendo should use, including Android OS, downloadable subscription games, HDMI output, wireless modem module and more. Anyone know what processor it may have? As you can see the processor has a Nintendo logo on it, but that does not mean it's a Nintendo processor. Please post in the comments what your speculation is for this processor.

According to some rumors, Nintendo 3DS specs may be:

ARM Processor: Dual-core 266 MHz
GPU: 133 MHz
RAM: 64 MB
Video RAM: 4 MB
Storage: 1.5 GB (SDXC expansion slot?)

Advanced video games coming to Android devices

Posted by Charbax – August 12, 2010

As the Nintendo 3DS might come with 3G and smartphone-like features, it is also about to be the time for the smartphones to include button layouts that are optimized for advanced 3D video games. As the OpenGL ES 2.0 3D rendering is getting so advanced with the latest ARM processors, all it takes to experience advanced video gaming decently on phones is game pad buttons on each side of the screen. While capacitive touch screens and accelerometers provide the start of an idea that gaming can work on these devices, to get the best possible experience, it is just a hardware issue relating to the hardware design.

Gaming emulators seem to work great on Android, it is to be seen if Nintendo will be bold enough to offer legal access to all its old games at fair prices to licence and download legally directly from within an official Nintendo game console emulator to be released in the Android market place. I think that the best pricing strategy that they could provide is $5 subscription pricing renewed each month that the games are played offering unlimited access to all Nintendo games on the specific supported platforms. Hopefully all Nintendo game console games emulated up until Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast would be supported this way.

Another very interesting possible development, is that the portable gaming device will have so powerful graphics acceleration that it will actually be able to function as a HD video games console when connected using HDMI to the HDTV. Whether the latest portable ARM powered devices are able to render 1080p video games at full frame rates using HDMI to a HDTV, that is to be seen, but the development might be approaching that possibility. At least current hardware definitely might output Wii level quality graphics to any TV using the TV output. So the portable Android gaming device might not only compete with the Nintendo DS and the PSP, it might also compete with the Wii, XboX and Playstation 3.

Engadget is reporting on a rumor that Sony-Ericsson is preparing a 1ghz Snapdragon powered Playstation smartphone with Android 3.0 onboard. It is to be expected that Sony may want to keep exclusive access to their own games to be released for that new Android gaming platform. The slide-out gamepad design from under the device that is shown in Engadget's mockup design, instead of the keyboard, is probably an okay solution for gamers.

I would like to see someone build a good elastic design for a wireless bluetooth gamepad accessory that can be strapped to each side of any smart phone or tablet of any size and shape and have good gaming buttons push inwards to cover as much of the screen bezel as possible. Even to snap into 4:3 gaming mode and 16:9 gaming modes as the user prefers. Thus a solution to nicely transform any Android device into an advanced video gaming device. The design below is not exactly good enough design for this idea, please let me know in the comments if you know any better design:

MiShark64 is a $36 video games emulator

Posted by Charbax – July 14, 2010

Sanmos Microelectronics Corp. is launching some cheap video games emulators, available from $13 with 8bit-only pre-loaded games or for $36 for the MiShark64 with MicroSD card slot and video game emulation support of upwards 10 thousand games (one can "find" on the Internet) from 8bit NES (FC), GB, GBC, 16bit SNES (SFC), Sega MD and up to 32bit GBA games. The MiShark64 also includes a composite TV-output and video playback support of RMVB, DAT, RM, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, FLV, H.263, WMV, AVI, ASF, 3GP, VOB formats and Audio codecs support of MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, APE, FLAC. It comes with an integrated 800mA Li-ion battery good for 2 hours of portable use, but it can also be used on the TV and comes with 2 game controllers for that.

Hard Kernel ODroid Android gaming device

Posted by Charbax – March 3, 2010

This is the first Android device with such a gaming buttons layout. It's affordable available at around $300 unlocked at but does not come with a 3G modem, only WiFi. It does have a pretty snappy ARM Cortex A8 processor from Samsung clocked at 833mhz, with 512MB DDR2 memory, a 3.5-inch capacitive touch screen display and 720p video playback through its built-in HDMI output. This is for now the Developer Edition of this ODroid product to be released in March 2010, followed by commercial editions of this product, to hopefully include full emulators for all game consoles ported to Android up to N64 and Dreamcast games if this device's 3D acceleration and processing power will be able to handle those emulators and if developers port those to this implementation of Android.