Masaya Nakamura – Thanks for the Games
As a massive PS1 fanboy, Namco games have a very special place in the heart of this author. Due to the fact that JRPGs almost uniformly shunned the PAL market before Final Fantasy VII changed everything, one used to gravitate towards arcadey titles, which is the genre Namco excelled at. And so it was that on Christmas morning 1996 Tekken 2 was the very first game that this author owned for his shiny new PS1. One was already a massive fan of the Tekken 2 arcade cabinet, though never had enough disposable income to play it to satisfaction. Needless to say that particular Christmas gift felt a lot like suddenly being gifted with one’s own Tekken arcade cabinet, not least because the arcade cabinets for Tekken, Tekken 2, and Ridge Racer all ran on modified PS1 hardware – meaning that the ports were very faithful to the full arcade experience.
That was one’s personal experience with Namco, though for older readers it might be Pac-Man [one of the highest grossing arcade cabinets of all time], while for younger readers it could even be something like Dynasty Warriors, which was not actually a Namco game until their merger with Bandai. Whatever the case, JRPG fans are probably most likely to associate Namco, for better or worse, with the Tales of and Xenosaga series.
This week the sad news broke that Namco founder Masaya Nakamura had passed away at the age of 91. Nakamura actually passed away on the 22nd of January, but due to the wishes of the family Namco did not announce his passing until after the funeral. Nakamura founded Namco in 1955 as Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company – this was later abbreviated to Namco. Namco started out as a manufacturer of amusement park rides, yet like many other such companies at the time they branched out into gaming when the craze initially took off in the 70s.
Atari had been struggling to find its feet in Japan during the mid-70s, and so Namco managed to outbid Sega in obtaining the company’s Japanese assets, along with Japanese distribution rights to Atari arcade games for a ten year period. By the late 70s Namco was familiar enough with the gaming scene to begin their own internal software development, which came to fruition in 1978 with the release of the very first Namco arcade game, Gee Bee. Namco was one of the very first Japanese developers of vidya, and that is what still defines the company to this day.
Nakamura led the company as CEO until 2002, and even after stepping down he remained with the company in a largely ceremonial role. While many Japanese developers imploded like Konami once Japan’s boom period was over, Namco managed to tighten their belt and move forward with grace [for the most part]. Where some companies would adopt get rich quick schemes like developing pachinko machines, Namco instead decided to merge with Bandai in order to continue making good games that people enjoy to play. It is this dignified company culture for which Masaya Nakamura will likely be best remembered. Rest in peace.
PS4 Update 4.50 Is Worth Getting Excited About
When questioning owners of the launch model of Sony’s PS4, pretty much the most frequent complaint one is likely to come across will involve the categorical inadequacy of the PS4’s hard drive to contain all the data required of it. It sucks. Being a PS4 owner is a constant dance of content deletion, as room must continually be prised away from installed content in order to make way for newer purchases. Well, now owners of PS4s will have an additional option when dealing with the inadequacies of system storage. It has never been especially difficult to increase the PS4’s storage by installing a larger hard drive, but now owners are also free to increase system storage via an external hard drive connected by the system’s USB ports. In addition to this function, Update 4.50 will also reduce the size of the system’s quick menu tab, accessed by pushing the home button, and will also allow users to set custom wallpapers. This means that we will finally be able to take the perfect in-game money shot when playing Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, and then set it as our home-screen wallpaper!
That is not all however, as for owners of Sony’s newer PS4 Pro system the Update’s most desirable feature was not even mentioned in the press release. External beta testers for Update 4.50 have discovered that Sony snuck in Boost Mode. The PS4 Pro’s GPU is essentially two PS4 GPUs slapped together, and so the way that the PS4 Pro typically handles unpatched PS4 games is to disable half of the system’s GPU cores in order to perfectly mimic the performance of a vanilla PS4. Boost Mode allows the PS4 Pro to use its extra power to run unpatched software with an increased framerate and decreased load times – which is how the system should have handled unpatched software from the outset. The fact that Sony have not mentioned this as a key point of interest for the update probably means that they are not yet confident enough in its implementation to guarantee it for release. If any particularly glaring bugs are found during the beta then Boost Mode will likely be deactivated for the full release of the firmware, but if nothing untoward is encountered then it should be fairly smooth sailing for this feature to become available when the update goes live.
[UPDATE]: Oculus Rift Loses Court Battle
Last week Lusipurr.com brought you the story that Oculus Rift was poised to lose a court battle against Zenimax. Zenimax alleged that John Carmack, who defected from Zenimax owned Id Software, had stolen Zenimax intellectual property, and then proceeded to use said IP in the development of Oculus Rift. Zenimax was seeking four billion dollars in sanctions and damages, which is twice the price that Facebook paid for Oculus VR.
It is our happy job to report that Oculus did go on to lose their court battle against Zenimax. The court found that the Zenimax claims that Oculus had stolen IP were actually false, yet the court also found that Palmer Luckey had broken an NDA that he had signed with Zenimax back when the two companies were collaborating. The court awarded Zenimax 500 million dollars, which sadly is a far cry from the four billion dollars they were seeking. Now we will get to see just how committed Facebook is to Oculus Rift after bombing at retail, as the company will have to decide between whether to stump up the cash for this court ruling, or simply cutting their losses and leaving Oculus Rift to its fate.