By: John Parry
Ever since Xbox Live hit the scene, online gaming has been all the rage, but have you ever wondered just how far people will go to connect? These are some of the most impressive feats in obscure online gaming, and we’re here to break them down for you.
4. Highest Multiplayer Rank in The Conduit
High Voltage Software debuted The Conduit at E3 in 2008 and it was an instant hit. That might be described as a high point for the series, because it’s been all downhill since. The Conduit debuted to somewhat positive reviews in June 2009, and eventually went on to sell over 350,000 copies. If you didn’t play online during the summer of 2009, you’ve got your work cut out for you when it comes to ranking up.
First, there’s nowhere near the luxury of thousands of players constantly online, like you’d find with an Xbox 360 or PS3 shooter. You’ll be lucky to find more than one or two matches in each playlist (there are only three playlists) going on at once, and you should probably stick to nights and weekends.
In 2009 patches for Wii games were unheard of, and there are no consequences for hacking The Conduit into oblivion. You’ll have to tolerate rapid-fire rocket launchers that will shake your screen constantly and make your hand go numb from the Wii-mote’s vibration. The only thing more annoying is the glitchers who hide in walls; at least you can kill the rocket guys. To top it all off, those same rocket guys rig the “voting” system so you end up playing 20-minute games with the Explosives (read: rockets) weapon set on the same map over and over.
In a nutshell, the only people who stuck around were the people who either cheated or were extremely good at the game. That’s not going to get any better, because these people make for a pretty rough introduction for newbies. Conduit 2 addressed the cheating issue by becoming the first Wii game given permission to issue patches, but after the game sold a dismal 80,000 or so units in a year, High Voltage has stopped patching it.
Tolerating The Conduit’s tomfoolery pales in comparison to…
3. Playing Halo 2 Online with an Original Xbox Controller
Microsoft took Halo 2 offline in April 2010 when they discontinued support for the original Xbox. A few dedicated fans refused to turn off their consoles, and they managed to continue playing for about another month. Their accomplishment is fascinating, but that window is closed now so we won’t go into that in this article. We will, however, tell you that it’s still quite possible to play Halo 2 online with the proper controller.
First, you’ll need Halo 2 Vista. Unfortunately, the Vista version of Halo 2 is an awful port. You’ll need a Windows Live account, a Gold subscription to Xbox Live for some online lobbies, and you’ll only be able to install Halo 2 Vista a whopping three times. Use them wisely. Are you still with us? Okay, good, let’s move on to the Xbox controller part.
In terms of hardware, you’ll need the controller itself, and the fat end of a USB cable. With the help of some Internet guides, wire the USB cable onto the end of the Xbox controller cable. It’s messy and difficult, and you can buy an adapter on eBay for $7. Maybe we should’ve mentioned that part first. Once you’ve done that, download XBCD, a fabulous (and free) driver, and you can program the buttons to your liking.
A more difficult option, albeit one that involves an actual Xbox, is XBConnect. Here, you basically trick your Xbox into thinking you’ve set up a system link, when you’re actually tunneling through the Internet. Even more obscure, though, is…
2. Going Online with Your GameCube via “LAN”
This is almost identical to XBConnect, but it wins a place on this list because there are fewer LAN games and the connection is harder to tolerate. Nintendo shut down their four official online games in 2007, but those are also still playable via private servers. Your LAN options are as follows: 1080 Avalanche, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, and Kirby’s Air Ride. Realistically, the only title worth the trouble is Mario Kart.
You’ll need a broadband adapter for your GameCube, whereas the Xbox has a built-in Ethernet port. Keep in mind that the Wii won’t work here, because there’s no place to plug in the broadband adapter. Set up the (free) Xlink Kai software, and tunnel away like with XBConnect.
Make sure your opponent lives nearby. The most popular YouTube videos of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! online play are from “Lazyhoboguy”, who said his opponent was 60 miles away. Much farther, he says, and you can’t play “without the frame rate drop becoming unbearable.”
He also links to a nifty example of that. In short, if you can set up your GameCube, PC, and network to do this, and then you put up with awful connections, you’re crazy obscure. Time to step up to…
1. Joining the Dreamcast Cult
The Dreamcast earns the distinction of being the first console to support broadband, as well as the longest-running online servers for a console. Although the Dreamcast was a commercial flop, it turns out gamers really liked the poor thing—so much so that more than a decade later, games are still being added to the Dreamcast library, which features more online titles than the GameCube.
To get online with a Dreamcast, you’ll need one of three things: a broadband adapter, a dial-up connection, or a complex device that tricks your Dreamcast into thinking your computer’s broadband is just really spiffy dial-up. We’re assuming you laughed pretty hard at options two and three, so it looks like you’ll be paying more than $100 for the broadband adapter. Seriously.
The reward for your herculean effort is the following list of games: 4×4 Evolution, Doom (unofficial), Maximum Pool, Phantasy Star Online, Quake III Arena, Starlancer, and Sega Swirl. In the case of 4×4, Quake III Arena, and Starlancer, the servers are the official ones launched in 2000. Sega Swirl is hardly worth your time, but you can play via email, which the Dreamcast can support. Maximum Pool, Phantasy Star, and Doom are still supported through private servers.
Devoted communities, such as the people at dreamcast-talk.com, continue to discuss the console on a daily basis. It’s no wonder that new games are coming out to this day. What, you didn’t get excited for the June 21st release of Gunlord?
Get back to us when you complete that list. Then we’ll call you a serious online gamer.
“The 4 Greatest Achievements in Obscure Online Gaming” by John Parry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.