Sunday, November 25, 2012


Took longer to get this second one up (on my end) than I wanted it to - that won't be the case going forward. Anyway, here's the episode:


The BioThinker said...

I'm probably just coming off as a cynical old man here, but I think that the consoles from the older generations (along with TVs, toys, etc...) worked better, was because it was before planned obsolescence came full-swing into every corner of design and marketing.

PS- Do you plan to implement IntenseDebate on this blog like you did on your movie blog?

Anonymous said...

In the first few seconds I was excited to almost see you come out of the fanboy closet but then you had to pull out the "Which it may or may not be" quote...... Very disappointing.

Also, nobody is impressed with you fixing a game console thats over a decade old.

On a kinda more positive note, good to see this new overbyte doesn't have any of your "satirical" story or whatever hipster buzzword you use to describe the parts I always skip over. Ill be tuning in more often.

Sabre said...

Bob, you have to keep the accent more often. It's like getting a lecture from an informant off Law and Order. :D

One point you didn't include was that modern consoles are also more powerful, and as a result, more complex. Fans to keep it cool, hard discs for saves ect.

As for stuff I didn't like. There was a few things, but by far the most painful was "Take that new school!" bit.

Speaking of which. I was under the assumption people were buying the WiiU for ZombiU and Nintendoland? That said, I don't hang around Nintendo fans, and ZombiU happens to be the only WiiU game I give a toss about.

Anonymous said...

"I dont even care if its not a significant improvement over the last one"





Drake Sigar said...

I think modern consoles are stuck in some weird middle-ground and don't seem to excel at anything. They can no longer cite accessibility and functionality as selling points, nor can they claim to have the advantages of a PC.

JGE said...

Great episode! Can't wait to see more of this series. Also, love it when you break out the accent. <3

Megabyte said...

Agreed, but I think you are a little behind on this one...

Jim Stirling covered very similar grounds (albeit with much more venom) a little while ago.

Pentium100 said...

Older technology is more durable and can be repaired easier, this is not limited to game consoles. A tape deck can be repaired quite easily (assuming you know what you are doing), even an old CD player, but try to repair a new CD player - it's more difficult as the parts now are all SMD, highly integrated and so on.
I have a 57 year old radio that still works (the tubes are probably still the original ones, though there is no way to know) and if something failed it would be easy to replace it.

Part of the reason why new devices don't live as long is cost - when the company is trying to save $0.001 for a $200 device, you see low quality capacitors and other parts used. Another part of the reason is that modern devices are more complex - so there is more to go wrong (compare a new amp to an old one), of course there's planned obsolescence - a device that works longer than the warranty period is seen as a mistake by the company. Yet another part of the reason is the "green" stuff - trying to design a device that uses as little power as possible makes the device more complex.

And part of the power consumption problem can be solved easily - just have a mechanical switch that turns off the device complately, then it will consume exactly zeero watts when off, no need to try to make it use 1W or less on standby - if there is no good reason to have standby mode (the device has to wake up on a timer, say a VCR), don't have it.

Redd the Sock said...

The joys of modern cost cutting: from shoddy components, to using patches and firmware to let the end user play beta tester. About the only real connection is that if companies spent less effort into ramming picture viewers, internet browsers, and other crap into these things people ultimately use them to play games on almost exclusively, they might catch more bugs themselves. There's no reason why with enough testing one box can't do everything and still work.

And yeah, we expect it from Sony. PS1 overheated terribly. PS2 had disk read errors Sony never fully acknowledged happened. And PS3 has its yellow light of death. Some of these might not be so bad but piracy fears make backing up a lot of data impossible. Heaven forbid Sony even show the courtesy to (if possible) copy files from systems sent in for repair to the refurbished unit they sent back to you.

Dor said...

Hi Bob I really love the show
following it for a long time now and also your two other great shows on the escapist

and just wanted to say that i like the fact that you called the NES a miracle in this episode because nes sound in my language (Hebrew) exactly like the Hebrew word for miracle
just a little thing i thought you can find neat :)

Aiddon said...

I will say that Nintendo is at least the MOST gamey out of the three console makers, mostly because they're primarily a GAME COMPANY. Sony and Microsoft are multinational corporations that have gaming divisions.

LegendofMii said...

The Internet is still having megacorp sponsored hissy fits to sell new do-everything electronics. This video is a welcome splash of cold water in its face. While I appreciate the sentiment, I can’t help but feel you’ll soon be changing your tune, if only from what I vaguely remember of your opinions of Apple iOS devices (referencing mainly “Episode 72: NecroThinker – The Last Stand.”)

vlademir1 said...

@Redd the Sock: There is a box that can very well do everything and still work, a PC. It's the reason I'm personally a PC exclusive gamer, I can't justify a $250+ console and a $200+ TV which would only be used for gaming, plus a $300+ computer for the various things I use it for when my current PC cost all of $600 to build and handles all that just as well if not better.

@the first anonymous in the thread: I am actually very impressed that he fixed his NES. The parts have always been fairly hard to come by outside those of us who have dissected a few, and that part in particular is a PitA jigsaw puzzle to get to in the original box NES if you intend to put it back together.

@Bob: Complexity of the core hardware and software needed for basic functionality is what drives stuff like those firmware updates. Consoles are at least still much more accessible for the general public than the PC where gaming is concerned, if only because a gaming PC needs you to manually download and install quite a bit more stuff before you can play a game.

Anonymous said...

help! now there is a pic going on in redditpics website that is trying to make fun of people being aware of sexism in gaming called "TEDtalk -sexism in gaming" that, aside from being badly drawn, is also trying to discredit all that people having been doing to make the world aware that sexism is a big problem. This guy thinks its not a big deal as is trying to portray it as something nobody cares about and is trying to make those who argue that sexism is a problem appear like loonies only interested in pointing out the most obvious examples of sexism as their proof!

Anonymous said...

Could you please do an Overbytes episode on Double Fine and their actions this year (Kickstarter success, their online prototype poll, work on "The Cave", ect)

Mike Smith said...

Here's the thing: when my family got our first NES around 1987, we had several problems with it working properly, and had to send it out/have it replaced a number of times.

I'll admit, the one we wound up with still functions twenty-odd years later, and I guess it wasn't a widespread problem, since I'm the only one making this point. Then again, that was before the internet, before gamers could invent a cool "[X] of death" nickname for the bug. So maybe it was a widespread issue and we just didn't know it.

In any event, I think you're idealizing the NES a little. Your NES worked right out of the box, but mine didn't. So when you're holding up an NES like it's the poster boy of reliability, it undermines your whole argument, at least to me. Just because it's older and simpler doesn't mean it's better. Otherwise we'd all be trading in our video games for playing cards.

Evilkinggumby said...

*raises an eyebrow*

Ok first, It was actually kind of cool to hear you speak plainly. It felt like this whole speech/discussion was from you, not a parady or character or alternate version of you. I like that as a conceptual and ongiong style choice for overbytes. Helps it stand out from the other series, make it feel a bit more gritty and real.

what I didn't like was the "this is me with the camera placed next to a monitor so I can 'almost' face it and read off the screen as I need to. The fact you placed a lamp on one side actually made it MORE obvious your eyes were not aimed at the viewer. It means whereas your talking felt much more sincere and unscripted, what we SAW on the screen felt like a really bad late night local tv commercial. Luckily, a lot of the monologing was done over screen vid's to help with that.

In regards to the speech, I think you attacked this without well..overthinking it. :) Which also goes against what you're known to do and trying to perpetuate.

For most of the reasons others have stated, the comparison of old school tech vs new tech isn't really worth the salt on a $5 sack of spuds by the wharf. There are 2 major issues that manufacturers are facing when building and desining the hardware:


We live in an era where it is expected that everything we get must be as streamlined and compact as possible. People look at the HUGE CLUNKY walkmans' we had, even the portable cd players, and laugh when looking at a ipod nano or zune or MP3 player smaller than most thumbdrives. We've reached a glorious age of being able to fit tons of data on something smaller than a postage stamp. GREAT!

But then they have to accomodate for the fact that a lot of our technology is still reliant on the use of copper and circuit boards and at the core of most of this tech is the microchip. Yes the "die" that they sit on si small, but the limitations of the technology has been at a standstill for years due to the properties of HEAT. We're moving laterally with CPU and GOU development because it's easier to build multiple cored chips rather than 1 super powerful one that can run at appropriate speeds at room temperature. Or, a superconductor.

So you have to make a console that is as small as possible, but can also properly handle and dissipate HEAT. these problems were not an issue in the ol 8 bit days. Hell my first computer, a 486, had no heat sink to see but just a simple fan over it to pull heat off. Now, consoles and computers have complex heat sinks, piping, coollant and air flow technology to try and maintain a temperature that won't fry or degrade the chips.

I agree with your idea that consoles are lackluster and don't show the staying power or stability they once did. But at the idea they were "specialists", I don't know if I rightly agree. The NES in japan was given a program to allow it to design and print patterns to do needlework. The genesis in south america came with peripherals and software to go online and allow users to do online banking. Weird to think these "specialist" systems were built and able to do non-gaming functions huh?

Nowadays there is also a much bigger rift in that back when the NES and Sega systems hit, a lot of the games initially were first party, so say, Nintendo, wasn't rliant solely on the sales of the console for profits, they could make a significant profit off their own first party games. Sega as well. Nowadays, consoles do still have first party games but the majority if their library is third party, so I think the console makes try to make them as powerful and cheap, yet small, as possible. Third party games still bring in fee's, but not as much as first party.

CaseyJones said...

Bob, Ive never wrote on your blog here but I just wanted to say that I fucking love your shit man! Not literally of course, I mean your show and viewpoints. Your, intelligent rants about video game culture and your view on politics just plain rock. Thanks for your videos!

Graham said...

I think I've just found your topic for episode 3, Bob.

John M Osborne said...

Actually I'd say the reason isn't just the specialization, but it's similar to how old cars are easy to fix and new cars are not.

More advanced hardware means more complicated than changing connector pins.

Nathan Lickliter said...

Y'know, having been through 3 Xbox 360's and now on my second PS3, I never realized until I watched this episode of Overbytes that my Genesis still works perfectly. Hell, that my MASTER SYSTEM II still works perfectly if I could find the cords for it. Consider my mind blown, sir.

Anonymous said...

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Would you be interested in publishing a competition with us (prize: WRC 3- FIA World Rally 2012)?

Please get back to me on Thanks!

Anonymous said...

'Hoidweah'. Ha ha, Tony Soprano accent!

Anonymous said...

"'Hoidweah'. Ha ha, Tony Soprano accent!"

The Sopranos have a heavy Jersey accent.

Bob has a Boston accent.

I take it you're not from the east coast?

Anonymous said...

What's all this about 'it's all the difference between new and old technology'? White I don't necessarly disagree entirely, I think the point is being missed.

A console that works is superior to a console that doesn't work.

The argument is that companies should make sure that their systems work properly. That maybe they need to spend less time on extras and expend more resources ensuring the functionality of the systems. The level of technology is fairly irrelivant.


Sylocat said...


I can't speak for Bob, but I'm withholding judgment until I get a decent translation of the question SM was responding to when he said that.

RaikuNH said...


I think the whole Sega bullying youtube users over Shining Force is a much bigger issue.

Jannie said...

It's not a matter of "old" and "new" it's a matter of complexity.

Old consoles "work better" (or, more so, they DON'T they just seem to) because they have almost no real "guts" besides the basic parts to play a cart or disk. PS1, for example, probably is far more simplistic internally and less disaster prone than most PCs today.

This isn't because one is "better" or whatever. Those old consoles went down in flames just as easily as the new ones--trust me, I know this for a fact--they just didn't have AS MANY parts to go down in flames.

Or put another way, people like to squawk about how "flying is safer than driving because blah blah blah" but that's a complete misnomer because it ignores the fact that people can and do survive car accidents every single second and surviving a plane crash is extraordinarily rare. And even if planes were physically incapable of crashing plane travel is so expensive and tied to extensive ground infrastructures as to be useless to the average person for all but the most extreme long-range journey, say cross-country or international. You would be insane to charter a flight to Burger King and back.

So yes A plane may be statistically "safer" but it is not more practical nor is it inherently safe only safe by relative comparison. If the same number of planes were in the air as cars, i.e. almost one for every person, then plane crashes would be just as endemic as car accidents. To say nothing of the outrageous infrastructure needed to support something that asinine.

You follow? "Statistically less likely to fail by dint of being less common" is not "reliable" just like being marginally less likely to fail due to primitiveness isn't either.

Anonymous said...

Well how's this for irony- the fucking video won't play.

Jannie said...

Let me clarify what I said, because I realize my plane analogy was more esoteric (yeah that sounds better than "stupid") than I intended:

Planes are "technically" more "reliable" than cars, inasmuch as they don't suffer as many catastrophic accidents, but this doesn't make them "better" since they're extraordinarily impractical for all but the most long-range travel plans. For 99% of what people actually use cars for, cars are the only real option possible, anything else is either too slow or absurdly impractical. Plus when planes DO catastrophically fail, they do so in a way where surviving it is almost completely can theoretically be done, but not in the way people survive car wrecks every day and walk away with a broken arm or something non-life threatening.

In much the same way, old systems are more "reliable", again meaning simply less prone to catastrophic failure, but they're also completely useless for 99% of what modern gamers actually USE gaming systems for. Even if you remove all the social media aspects, downloadable titles are HUGE now, online gaming is basically the standard by which most games are measured, and wireless is the norm in almost every case. Removing that WOULD make it less prone to failure but also make it effectively useless.

And even then, those old systems were totally capable of catastrophic failure, it simply wasn't as common because the "guts" of the machine were so primitive there was little to fail. And even if it could be fixed until the advent of the internet it was not possible for most people to fix them and you DID have to send for repairs or buy a new one.

So yes those old systems were less complex and therefore the random chance that governs catastrophic system crashes was less commonplace at one time...but also in that time, NONE of the innovations of the last decade-plus of gaming existed, so it would be incredibly impractical to design such a "specialist" system today. Even the Oh-Yeah or whatever the indie box is called is not a "specialist" system.

And ironically, NO Nintendo system has EVER been sold exclusively as a gaming system. Even going back to the NES they packaged it with a hundred little gimmicks and doodads that did nothing whatsoever to enhance your gaming experience but made it look "snazzy"...something Nintendo has been doing since day one really. Don't even get me started about the Wii. It was literally sold as an exercise machine in commercials. Something which, I may add, fans were praising it for including Bob so I guess my point is, there is no such thing as a "specialist" games only system, except maybe MAYBE the Old Blood Atari and I'm pretty sure that's just because it barely qualified as an actual game system to begin with.

Unknown said...

I'm gonna have to come out and disagree with pretty much everything you said on this bob. The reason why consoles don't work as well as they used to has nothing to do with network connectivity or facebook or whatever the hell else. It's because games on average are a lot more complicated than they were back in the day. In fact, the whole reason why your Vita can use twitter and get on youtube and play videos is because compared to running Gravity Rush or Uncharted, it's a walk in the damn park. Systems break because they overheat or because the disc drive dies, not because it has to be able to post your trophies to facebook. Now, a lot could be said that because you can patch a game now there's less of a drive to QA these things properly and more broken product gets shipped out the door, but there were plenty of buggy, unplayable games back in the NES days and they just STAYED that way.

Sabre said...

Jannie- I agree, but one thing about system repair is the hardware, while more complex, can be repaired. Replacing lasers, cleaning fans, and greasing the rails of a disc tray.

So, you can repair stuff that is the equivalent of the NES cardridge slot. The problem is replacing proprietary parts. This can be done, but it's a legal minefield. Once they stop making the console, it becomes much safer. A good example is Xbox wireless controller receivers. Microsoft stopped making them, so people made their own.

ArchoNils said...

Great crystal ball you have there, knowing the future and stuff. A lot of systems had problems in the past, there was just no internet around to collect those information. Also how do we know how long those systems will last? Maybe we'll see working PS3s in 20 years from now? Also I bought several defect PSPs and fixed them pretty easy to sell them much more expensive. I also fixed my YLOD PS3. So again, how exactly is that different?

Smashmatt202 said...

It took a good 6 hours for my Wii U to update, and that was AFTER an ADDITIONAL 2 hours of me and my friend (who's a whiz with computers) working our Internet around just so the blood Wii U can connect to it! Seriously, Nintendo SUCKS with their hardware!

These days, anyway.

I started playing New Super Mario Bros. U... before getting bored with it and moving on to Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed! Awesome game, that one!

Not to mention, the Wii U's just freaking awesome, I love Miiverse and all the little extra bits that come with it! I just haven't been playing much of it as of late. Other games preoccupying my time, I suppose.

OMG, I was just talking about this with my friends! I'm not a PC gamer because I didn't want to put up with all the stuff needed to get into a game. Which sucks, because now that I'm into Indie Gaming, and a lot of Indie games are mostly available only for the PC, it feels weird to complain and/or lament the idea that I can't play it on a console. Maybe it is easier then I think it is, I don't know, what I'd like is a simple step-by-step instructions as to how to set up and play those kinds of games, if anyone's willing to point me in the direction of said instructions.

Also, hearing about how 20-year-old consoles and games still working today reminds me of how companies are only focusing on the here and now, games that can ONLY be played on a particular console and, worse yet, requires DRM, and thus can only be played if the company's servers are both working and active! Once they shut them down, how are people going to access the good games they want to revisit? It's something NOBODY in the industry is thinking or caring about!

God damn, you managed to do that with your NES? I wish I was a fix-it kind of guy that I could do something like that...

Aww yeah, Ristar!

"If your single-player sucks, your game sucks!" Who are you, Yahtzee Croshaw? But seriously, I agree 100%.