S3 Savage 4

The end of the 90s saw some pretty crazy competition in the 3D accelerator market. 3Dfx was riding high, but started showing cracks in their dominance. nVidia was cranking out new generations of cards at a near alarming rate, each iteration providing major laps. ATI had a broad product suite and other players like Matrox were still trying to keep up.

S3 then, having been a major player in the 2D card market for a long time, with some lukewarm attempts at 3D, didn’t want to be left out. They had already had previous cards capable of accelerated 3D graphics but it all came together finally with the Savage 4 chipset.

Sporting Direct3D, OpenGL, and their proprietary Metal API support, it wasn’t a bad card at all. Coupled together with the unique higher resolution textures availble in some games, it had a lot of things going for it. Sadly S3 was already behind the curve of their main competitors and weren’t able to keep up, eventually being chopped up and sold off. The Savage 4 is still a card well worth looking at today, which is exactly what I did in my latest video!

4/14/2023 Livestream – New Games for Xbox

The 6th generation of consoles, meaning Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox, are in a sweet spot of nostalgia right now. As people grow older, and plenty of people grew up on these consoles they are seeing a resurgence in focus, and for good reasons. There are many awesome gaming experiences to be had on that trifecta of systems, but I do feel the Xbox gets left out a lot.

No denying that the first Xbox had it’s fair share of experimentation. Just look at the number of “mascot platformers”! They were trying anything they could, to see what would stick. And of course numerous sports titles… but look deeper into the library and you’ll find some true gems. There are PC ports that are surprisingly good, and some truly awesome console exclusives. That makes the system quite fun to collect for, and a bit overlooked. The GC and PS2 are perennial favorites (especially the GC, look at those prices!), but the first outing from Microsoft in the console space doesn’t command nearly the same price for games. Many can be found for 5-10 dollars, which is a far cry from many other retro games.

So while visiting Washington DC a friend and I decided to go on an Xbox game hunt. We did find quite a few gems, so I thought it was a great chance to try some of them out. It was really fun to play some unexpectedly great games. Check out the replay below!

Toshiba Satellite 4010 CDT

Laptops in the 90s was a bit of the wild west as far as design goes. And I don’t mean that in the sense that they almost always looked like bricks (hey it’s a cool design!), more in that what was included. You had some that tried hard to cram in as many ports as they could, and some companies made some interesting choices. It seems like often you’d be missing some port or drive that would have made a lot of sense to include. That said, cost and technology was always a challenge. Nothing to say of poor battery performance from that time either.

But, Toshiba had a killer spec sheet in a lot of their laptops. I say that as a retro enthusiast who likes my laptops to include as many ports, and features, as possible. The Satellite 4010 CDT checks a lot of boxes, with almost every port you could want accounted for. Add in the integrated CD-ROM, and floppy drives that work at the same time, and you have a true portable workhorse.

It’s a great laptop, with some neat history attached to it, and it was really fun to mess with. Look forward to a livestream, but for now check out the video beloe!

IBM Easy Option AC 525

Rebranding isn’t exactly a new practice. There are many times where a company will release a product that’s basically just a name replacement for some other part, made by another company. IBM did this quite a bit with their Easy Options line from the early 90s, based on what I have found. The idea was to grab a piece of the market from stores where shoppers would recognize the IBM brand, and assume it’d work well with their IBM branded computer.

I’ve had the IBM Easy Option AC 525 sound card (or game & audio card, like they call it), for some time now. It’s been sitting on my shelf sealed for many years and the time had come to really check out what it was. Surprising no one, the card wasn’t actually made by IBM, but rather a rebrand. I won’t spoil the surprise on what this card actually is, you’ll have to watch the video to find out!

That said the card worked great, it has a nice sound to it, and the compatibility is excellent. I’d definitely put this in the “easy option” category! Check out the video on the card below.

Livestream 12/15/2022 – Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza

Since Die Hard is definitely a Christmas movie, it seems natural to play a Die Hard game for one of the December livestreams. This time that landed on Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza. An FPS that came out in 2002, developed by Pirahna Games, that tries to follow the events of the movie fairly closely.

Where it shines is seeing the events from the eyes of McClane where the movie might have cut away. I think it pulls this off to great effect putting you in the seat of the barefoot hero. A new perspective on a true action classic. However just following the events of the movie is not enough to fill out a full game experience players may be expecting. So they added additional things that didn’t happen (or at least were shown) in the movie. These parts may be the most boring aspects and can be almost considered “transport” between the good parts.

Sewer… level. Yep they added a sewer level with concrete, confusing hallways and tons and tons of enemies that appear out of nowhere. That part of the game sadly really felt like a slog. Weapons also lack a lot of punch and the moment to moment gameplay is unfortunately not very satisfying. They do what the can with the fabled Lithtech Engine (running games like No One Lives Forever, Blood 2 and SHOGO: Mobile Armor Division), but you soon run into limitations. I won’t spoil it too much but there were several portions of the game made harder by poor game design choices, and I’m sure problems with the engine.

That said the game overall is a fun, and interesting addition to the Die Hard mythos. Worth checking out but prepare for… I guess average? Take a look at the stream replay below!