What's Shenmue III?

SEGA have managed to put a half-grinning half-slack-jawed look of amazement on my face more than most gaming companies. First was sticking my head inside the quadrophonic monster that was a sit-down Astron Belt. A few years later it was seeing a psychedelic-hydraulic Space Harrier. It carried on with Virtua Racing and Daytona USA.

In 1999 I found myself staring agog at an on-foot chase through the streets of a Japanese town on some TV news piece (see top video). When I found out that was going to be on SEGA's Dreamcast, I knew I'd be getting both as soon as Shenmue came out.

The game was grippingly beautiful, creating a world impossible to visit in the "real-world" of 1986 Japan. The games within a game were wonderful especially one-switch darts, although I remember the on-line score-boards making my efforts feel pretty feeble. I just love the detail of life, freedom and adventure in Shenmue. My all time favourite video game.

It's not a perfect game, but nothing so big was ever likely to be. The voice acting takes some getting used to. It's somewhat "
Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in delivery. Sometimes the tasks are numbingly tedious, such as having to hold down a job shifting crates. Ryo could be a bit of a dick sometimes which you often had no control over. It's all part of the winning charm.

Shenmue II came at the end of the Dreamcast's life when Sony's Playstation 2 had killed it off largely on the back of the Playstation reputation and a DVD player. I remember doubting if Shenmue II would ever come out, then being amazed and overjoyed when it was suddenly announced on the Game website.

The story left Japan and took me into Hong Kong and China. Disc 4 took my breath away for the beauty and set-pieces. It left on a cliff-hanger promising more and a chance to avenge Ryo's murdered father. Then nothing. For 14 years. Until today. :)


More on this kind of thing at Dennis Klatt's History of Speech Synthesis.


Dear Apple Accessibility Team

Thank you Apple Accessibility Team for all the brilliant enabling technology you have supported and/or created since the early Apple II days. Apple accessibility blazes a trail I only wish more companies would follow.

The video above is a small thank you plus a plea for a "Fixed Point Mode" to be added to switch accessibility. It could make a huge difference.

With thanks, and hopes.

Apple Accessibility image from 1981, with a black and white outline drawing of various computer users using different access technology.

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Two Player Battles in One Switch Tekken and COD

Colin McDonnell and friends playing Tekken 6 both using a single switch.

Close up of C-SID switch interface, and One Switch Pulse system to make more video games accessible.

"We actually had it all set up last night [the One Switch Pulse system]
, had a few heated rounds of tekken then moved on to COD, it seems complicated at first but these guys picked it up really quickly!!"

Via Maxine and Colin McDonnell at the
Games for Disabled facebook page.

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The National Videogame Arcade: LEPMIS Accessible Gaming Showcase

LEPMIS Accessible Gaming Controls

The National Videogame arcade

Canabalt with a pressure mat, jump to jump in the game.

This Tuesday (6:00 -7:30pm) in Nottingham's National VideoGame Arcade will be a showcase of LEPMIS accessible gaming equipment. Here's the blurb....

"The Long Eaton Powered Mobility Integration Service (LEPMIS) enables disabled gamers to play videogames on systems including the PS3 with custom switches and controls.

Come along to this free event to see and play with some of these unique interfaces. Geoff Harbach from LEPMIS will explain how they’re designed and built in response to an expert clinical analysis of players’ needs, and how disabled gamers can get access to them. Our panel discussion and audience questions and answers will also feature Professor David Brown from the Interactive Systems Research Group at Nottingham Trent University.

The showcase and presentation will be held in the National Videogame Arcade Lobby space, which is fully accessible through our main Carlton Street entrance.

Tickets are free, but please sign up to help us manage capacity, and so we can send you additional information regarding the event."

Great to see accessible gaming finding a temporary spot at the museum. Would love to see a permanent exhibition one day. Accessible gaming history deserves a rightful place there!

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Yozo Koshiro's legendary Streets of Rage music slowed down 804% by Little Scale. Much like the 800% slower Justin Bieber warping, but less spiritual.

Apparently the latest version of Audacity has the Pitch Scaler effect plugin to do this easily to your own sound tracks, should you wish. Didn't work for me though.


William Merritt: 19th Sept 2015 - Yorkshire Rocks Charity Ball

William Merritt fund raising poster: Yorkshire Rocks Charity Ball. 19th September 2015 at the Royal Armouries. Two silhouettes dance on a rock at dusk.

William Merritt fund raiser: Yorkshire Rocks Charity Ball. 19th September 2015 at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Tickets can be purchased by ringing 0113 350 8989.

If you are able to help with raffle/auction prizes or any sponsorship then please contact Paula Spencer using the above details.

Robert Florence's The History of Video Games

One Switch: Call of Duty

William Merritt Centre's Accessible Gaming Days. Image of Colin McDonnell and friends playing games using a OneSwitch Console Switch Interface Deluxe (C-SID) with accessibility switches.

Earlier this year, during a SpecialEffect Game Blast marathon gaming event at William Merritt, Colin McDonnell and some friends resigned themselves to not being able to play the likes of Call of Duty. It was too fast, with too many controls. Colin mentioned this to me on-line after I'd adapted simpler games for him like FIFA and Boccia and a friend, William Pilgrim, adapted Dragon's Lair.

It's a prototype, but I've pulled together a method to make this possible. I'm hoping this system will enable Colin and his friends to blow each other up on the 27th of May. The system is here and each player will require their own switch, PC, Titan One device and a set of head-phones.

Here's a quick request to Activision and all the other companies making first person shooter games: Please give an option for limitless ammunition and much (much!) easier play modes. It would make play much more fun, and far more accessible.

CALL OF DUTY MW3: Game set-up help:

1. Ensure player one is set up as controller one (do this by holding down the menu button, aka "6" on keyboard).

2. MULTIPLAYER } SPLIT SCREEN } (all users need to press CROSS, aka "SPACE BAR" on keyboard JUST ONCE to join the game).

Call of Duty MW3 made one switch accessible for disabled gamers.

Multiplayer options in Call of Duty MW3 menu, made one switch accessible for game accessibility.

3. CREATE NEW PROFILE / LOAD PROFILE (When all players are signed in press CROSS to continue).

Split Screen Sign in on Call of Duty 3: Call of Duty MW3 made one switch accessible for disabled gamers.

4. GAME SETUP screen

a. MAP (CHANGE ARENA. Arkaden, medium sized German mall in the video above

b. MODE (Change game style. The video above is: STANDARD MODE } SABOTAGE.... "1 bomb in the centre of the map. Grab it and destroy the enemy objective!").

Call of Duty 3: Assistive Technology for game accessibility.

c. OPTIONS (Make Game Easier - Recommend adjusting Time limits to unlimited, quick bomb plant timer, Radar Always On, etc).

5. START MATCH.... You can use extra controls with this too for two, three or more switches. Get in touch for more info. Could do all sorts with this later on.... Hoping to make Minecraft one switch accessible using this system on a PS4 next.

Huge thanks to Ryo of JoyToKey, Jefferson of Console Tuner/Titan One, Clive of Pulse, Shaul of vJoy and Paul of ID Swapper without whom this system would not be the same.

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One Switch Nature Exploration: Proteus

As part of my One Switch 100 book (well behind schedule, but no surprise there), I have a short section on exploration with a single switch in video games.

Proteus by Ed Key and David Kanaga is first to go in. It's a beautiful game of freedom with little to no pressure. You can explore with complete independence with one-switch if you can understand the auto-scanning system. If not, you can use two switches, one-controlled by a helper and the other by the explorer.

I will create a PMLD friendly and PC version if anyone requests it. Switch users can grab the OneSwitch system to make it work here. All you need is a PC, switch, Titan One device and a PS3 with Proteus downloaded from the store.

UPDATE: seems to work with the least trouble on a 64-bit Win 7 or Win 8 machine. Have a fix for 32-bit though.... Not all switch interfaces pass through an event 1:1 (see here with an adapted impact switch interface which is 1:1). Presently the Tecla Shield can't be used with this system very well as it has some lag and forces a quick down-up activation of any control it is linked to. The nice people at Komodo Open Lab are looking into this though.

Proteus accessible gaming profile for playing with a single switch.

Beautiful pixelated scene of a meadow in evening sun in Proteus.

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