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I brought back more than gashapon from Japan. I hit up four Super Potato stores, multiple Yodobashi and Bic Camera locations, and pretty much every storefront in Akihabara and came back with a bag full of classic video games. I’m talking Kirby’s Adventure, Shin Megami Tensei, Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special (complete in box), Super Mario Bros. (for Famicom, with the plastic cassette case), Xardion, Yoshi’s Island, lots of good stuff.

I don’t have a Famicom, though. And if I did, plugging a retro game console into an HDTV over an analog SD video connection looks super ugly (I do have a Retron 5 in the lab, but I’m going somewhere with this). Fortunately, I came back from Japan with a true prize. More than my gashapon, action figures, and retro game systems. I came back with a Retro Freak. It’s the best retro game console currently made, and you can only get it in Japan (or import it from a place like Play-Asia).

For starters, the Retro Freak can play games from 11 different systems: Famicom, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, PC Engine, PCFX, Sega Genesis, Sega Mega Drive, Super Famicom, Super NES, and Turbografix-16. Okay, that’s basically six systems including minor/regional variants, but it’s still pretty impressive. The only problem is it can’t play original NES games; Famicom cartridges have a different number of pins, and there isn’t a slot for NES carts. That’s the only blemish on an otherwise really impressive device.

On the controller side, there aren’t any ports for plugging in your classic dog bone controller, though you can get an adapter box that adds those ports to the system. Instead, there are simply three USB ports, and the system comes with an SNES-like USB gamepad with helpful Home and Option buttons (and the Bic Camera Outlet in Ikebukuro where I bought it threw in a second controller as a promotion). Those ports are surprisingly flexible, though; you can plug in a DualShock 4 or Xbone controller and it’ll work flawlessly with the system. And, of course, there are plenty of button mapping options if you want to tweak your control layout.

This is an emulator-based retro game system similar to the Retron 5, which means it can output games at up to 1080p over HDMI. Just doing pixel scaling makes games look fantastic on HDTVs when they’d be muddy on their native systems over analog connections. There are various filters that can smooth the pixels, but they also muddy how the games look (but muddy them in a way that gives the blotches crisper lines), and I recommend keeping all the filters turned off. Unless you like the faux scan lines, which are an extra option. You also get all the standard emulator options, like save states, taking screen caps, entering cheats, and even loading fan patches (very helpful if you have Famicom and Super Famicom games but don’t know Japanese).

Those are all standard features for this type of retro game system. Retro Freak goes further in some really interesting ways that make it surpass the Retron 5. First, the whole system isn’t actually the Retro Freak itself. That’s a small SNES cartridge-sized box that slots into the bigger shell, which is purely a cartridge reader and USB hub. You can pull the brain out of the shell and still plug it into your TV with two controllers attached to it. It becomes tiny enough to fit in your pocket (though you do need to bring the power adapter with you, which fortunately works just fine in American outlets).


That raises a very good question: Without the cartridge slots, how can you play your legitimately purchased retro games? That’s where the Retro Freak’s greatest feature comes in. If you insert a microSD card into the back of the system, you’ll be prompted every time you insert a new cartridge to decide whether or not you want to copy the cartridge to the card. Yes, this system can rip all of your physical classic games to roms. You can put your entire collection on a device the size of a SNES cartridge and you can walk around in full confidence that you’re just carrying a pocket of legally obtained games. No pirating, no downloading from the Internet, no seeding or sharing. Just your roms, from your cartridges, ripped by you onto your own device.

You can also just dump a ton of roms onto the microSD card and play them on the Retro Freak, but for legal reasons we don’t recommend it.


I got my Retro Freak in Japan for about $150 tax-free (shopping as a tourist in Tokyo is awesome). If you aren’t going to the land of anime and maid cafes any time soon, you can import it from sites like Play Asia for $180, or $210 for the Premium version with the controller adapter. It’s pricier, but not nearly as bad as it used to be (I first saw the Retro Freak available to import for $260). You might not be able to play your NES carts, and the SNES cartridge slot is extremely finicky, but this is still the coolest retro game system I’ve ever used. And I’ve reviewed the Analogue NT.


YouTuber Pamaj has posted a new video from Modern Warfare Remastered showing off the District map in action in the remaster. In his video, it has been confirmed that Kill Confirmed mode, first introduced in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, will make a feature in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered.


The post Kill Confirmed mode will be in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered appeared first on Charlie INTEL.


“Screw It, Let’s Go To Space” pokes fun at the seemingly unending string of contentious news events of 2016 and offers up Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare as a much-needed escape. From businessmen to newscasters to delivery drivers to Michael Phelps and Danny McBride, everyone in the spot leaves their differences and stresses behind to blast off into space and let loose in an action-packed thrill ride of epic proportions.

“If ever there was a year when people could use a break from the headlines for a little good old fashioned escapist entertainment, 2016 is it,” said Tim Ellis, CMO, Activision. “‘Screw It, Let’s Go To Space’ captures this feeling on a global scale and transports you into the epic gameplay and settings of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. It’s a thrill ride like no other, and it’s coming November 4th.”

The post Official Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Live Action “Screw It, Let’s Go To Space” Trailer appeared first on Charlie INTEL.

Fuck you, memories.


“What if remasters of older games are just like backwards compatibility – everyone asks for it but when it comes down to it no one actually plays it. We’re spoilt so quickly and distracted by the shiny new thing and I’m beginning to think that’s a good thing.”

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is back, remastered and looking rather lovely. Oorah.

I’ve been playing it this past week because I’m a spoilt games journalist and it’s great. I am in no way influenced by rose-tinted night vision goggles. Modern Warfare still rocks hard AF.

It’s exactly the same as it was back in the day before I had children and my wife didn’t have to pretend she still loved me. You don’t need me to remind you that Modern Warfare nailed Call of Duty to the mainstream consciousness like an interactive torture scene. It became a cultural phenomenon at that point and remains so, even when there are better, more gloriously violent first-person shooters flooding your consoles. This was way before it lost its way and you started playing levels as Riley the fucking dog. Remember that brief trend when we got dogs in games? Yeesh.

Except, as much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s not as good as I remember. That’s because no matter how good the remastering process is, games age pretty poorly. They just grow so quickly that something cool five years ago is a right load of old bollocks today. Remastered games are the grey hairs in my beard.


Raven has done a great job of adding little extras – from smoother animations to reload sounds through the controller’s speaker – but it can’t change the level design. So the signposting is pretty poor and all your AI buddies get in the way, clogging up the doorway like it’s 2007 all over again. Because it is, essentially.

Call of Duty has never been very open in its map design, but this feels like a particularly narrow funnel, where trying a route around the smallest of objects is impossible if you’re not meant to go that way. Car hood in your path? Forget it, it may as well be the Doors of Durin. Sometimes that’s used effectively to push you from one encounter to another, but more often than not it’s a frustrating bumble to find the correct path, not the obvious one you can see right in front of your eyes. No one likes to be told by a game they’re playing it wrong.

So Modern Warfare is old-school and a bit clunky and that’s to be expected but goddamn, I still get a buzz from War Pig’s “POSITIVE ID ON YOUR SPARKLE. WE’RE COMING IN HOT” and then the Apache helicopter swoops in and is all blamblamblamblamblamblammo and motherfuckers’ are flying all over the shop like bad trampolinists. Death From Above remains chillingly realistic, reducing war to a meta video game inside a video game about war. All Ghillied Up is probably the best mission in any Call of Duty game.

It’s still great, and I don’t regret returning to it, but the lit firework I was expecting has fallen over and spunked it’s fizzle into the wet grass. It’s a little bit heartbreaking. I mean, what if the games industry pushes new technology forward so quickly and relentlessly because games age so quickly, so badly? Maybe we should never look back.

What if remasters of older games are just like backwards compatibility or the return of a Nintendo character other than Mario and Zelda – everyone asks for it but when it comes down to it no one actually plays it. We’re spoilt so quickly and distracted by the shiny new thing and I’m beginning to think that’s a good thing. Frankly, what if all old games are shit?

I got a bit down about it all to be honest with you, so to cheer myself up I decided to compile a scientific list of all the games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is better than and the results are in. In no particular order:

All The Games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered Is Better Than:

  • Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty 2
  • Call of Duty: Big Red One
  • Call of Duty: Finest Hour
  • Call of Duty 3
  • Call of Duty: Road to Victory
  • Call of Duty: World at War
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Call of Duty: Strike Team
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, let’s be honest, most probably.
  • All the other games ever made, ever.
  • Apart from maybe DJ Hero.

Writing this list cheered me up even though it’s not true and then I skipped off to tell my wife I love her and I didn’t play games all weekend and we had a lovely time. So basically, despite our brief reunion, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare isn’t what it used to be but it did just save my marriage.

Thanks, Activision!


This isn’t the Bang Bang you know.

Titanfall 2 developer Respawn Entertainment has released the game’s launch trailer, to remind everyone we’re just days away from release. The trailer is all CG, and although looks pretty cool, it has a weird original song in it.

Bang Bang is what it’s called, but it’s not the Bang Bang you know. Instead, it’s a new song written in the same style that talks about fast Pilots and massive Titans and the relationship between them. You really need to watch the trailer to believe me.

I have to say, it encapsulates the general flow of a Titanfall game pretty well,

Titanfall 2 is out October 28 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.


Here it is:

If you plan on playing both of EA’s new shooters this year, you’ll be getting something extra for your troubles.

EA has revealed a cross-over promotion between Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2. If you play Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, an exclusive skin will be waiting for you in the latter.

This WW1-inspired paint job features the same colours and insignia found on the Red Baron plane in Battlefield 1. Only this time, you’ll be giving your Titan this unique look. EA showed it off on Twitter earlier, and it looks really good on this Titan. In fact, it looks like a mech you’d see in a Wolfenstein: The New Order sequel.

Battlefield 1 is out now, and Titanfall 2 will be released on Friday for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

If you’re curious as to how PlayStation 4 Pro can produce better graphics, provide extra features and still play current games in the process, Mark Cerny has the answer.


Speaking at conference at Sony’s San Mateo HQ attended by Digital Foundry and other outlets, PlayStation architect Cerny explained that in order to achieve this, the hardware has been doubled.

The console will sport two chips and the system uses one to play existing tiles, and then when a Pro game is popped in, both chips work in tangent.

“We doubled the GPU size by essentially placing it next to a mirrored version of itself, sort of like the wings of a butterfly,” he explained.

“That gives us an extremely clean way to support the existing 700 titles. We just turn off half the GPU and run it at something quite close to the original GPU.”

Cerny said he and his team also felt games needed “about 10% more memory,” which is why they added a gigabyte of slow, conventional DRAM to the console making it “DDR3 in nature.”

“On a PS4 standard model, if you’re switching between an application, such as Netflix, and a game, Netflix is still in system memory even when you’re playing the game. We use that architecture because it allows for a very quick swap between applications,” he said. “Nothing needs to be loaded, it’s already in memory.

“On PS4 Pro, we do things differently, when you stop using Netflix, we move it to the slow, conventional gigabyte of DRAM. Using that strategy frees up almost one gigabyte of the eight gigabytes of GDDR5. We use 512MB of that freed up space for games, which is to say that games can use 5.5GB instead of the five and we use most of the rest to make the PS4 Pro interface – meaning what you see when you hit the PS button – at 4K rather than the 1080p it is today.”

During the meeting, Cerny reiterated PS4 Pro isn’t the start of a new generation, per Gamasutra.

“We don’t believe that generations are going away,” he said. “They are truly healthy for the industry, and for the gaming community. It’s just that the objectives for PS4 Pro are quite different.”

Cerny goes into even more technical aspects of the console in the Digital Foundry write up, and you can read it in its entirety over on Eurogamer.

As previously reported, PS4 Pro owners will be able to swap the console’s 1TB HDD for a larger one, and the consoles is also running SATA 3.0. which was previously confirmed by Sony Japan.

PS4 Pro will be released on November 10 and will run you $399/€399/£349.


Microsoft managed to secure a year of exclusivity for Rise of the Tomb Raider when it launched in November last year. That annoyed Tomb Raider fans who had opted to buy a PS4 this generation, but it looks as though the exclusivity may actually backfire in the long term for Microsoft. That’s because a big problem with the Xbox One version of the game has been fixed on PS4.

People can argue all they want about superior graphics on one platform or another, but when you ultimately sit down to play there’s only one thing that matters: gameplay. And that’s where the Xbox One version of the game fell down. Not because the gameplay was poor, but because the player’s control of the game was.

Rise of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One has a very noticeable input latency issue. There was clear input lag when playing which meant actions such as achieving a headshot were made much more difficult and frustrating. There was also an obvious and large dead zone. Those input issues remain even today on Xbox One.

For the Xbox 360, PC, and PS4 versions of the game, development was shifted from Crystal Dynamics to Nixxes. They removed the input latency issues on the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game. The launch build of the PS4 version contains the input latency suggesting it wasn’t getting fixed for the Xbox One’s main rival, however, patching the game to v1.04 sees it removed.

So, not only does the PS4 version contain a number of bug fixes, frame-rate improvements, PSVR support, and the option of 4K image quality tweaks if you play on a PS4 Pro, it also removes by far the most frustrating feature of the Xbox One version.

I wonder if Microsoft will now demand Crystal Dynamics revisits Rise of the Tomb Raider and finally fixes the input latency issue? If they don’t, how can anyone recommend buying the Xbox One version anymore?