So everyone’s swooning over the next-gen darlings. Diatribes attesting to which is best fly far and wide across the Internet in both volume and VOLUME. Nobody cares about their games. The PS4’s and Xbox One’s souls have been weighed, and been found wanting by 2.5 and 2, respectively.
But there’s another next-gen console that beat them to the punch almost eight months ago. In fact, with an ample fan base,
extensive library of titles, dramatic graphical upgrade from its predecessor and mobility, it’s a wonder that most sites aren’t writing about it. But that’s why you come to NAG: for the exclusive coverage you don’t get anywhere else, and I now feel enough time has passed since its launch in March to safely pass judgement.
I am, of course, talking about the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition scientific calculator by Texas Instruments.
The maths bits
So let’s get the worst out of the way first. It can do maths. There are plus, multiply, divide and minus signs. There are numbers, as well as individual logarithmic, algebraic and graphing functions. All of this is the single misstep by Texas Instruments; I mean, they’re all pretty unnecessary in a gaming console. You’re not about to crack out some HARD MATH when you’re loading up the latest and greatest in video game entertainment. It’s like smartphone manufacturers who focus on the phone UI to make calling a painless experience; no one uses their phone for that.
As a result of all the maths, they don’t have a lot of space left for the screen, which is anathema in today’s HD-era. Control-wise, the D-pad is serviceable, but I would have much preferred an additional analogue stick instead of all those digits.
Despite all the numbery elements, the console’s design is nevertheless quite appealing. With smooth, ample curves, it fits snugly in the palm of your hand. I like to give its sensual sides a squeeze once in a while, just because I can without being charged for it. Mmmm. [Shall we leave you alone with the calculator for a bit then? – Ed.]
Eschewing the touch-screen craze, the new LCD screen comes in at a whopping 320×240 resolution with a 16-bit colour palette, a significant upgrade from it’s 96×64 monochrome pixel display. As you can imagine, this has the potential to dramatically enhance the graphical fidelity of its games, which I’ll come to in a bit.
If there’s one nod that the TI-84 has taken from its peers, it’s a lack of backwards compatibility with previous games in the TI-84 family. The TI-84 has a wealth of quality titles that are still being released for the console to this day, including a port of the exceptional Ikuraga and original titles like Nymless, Devrays, Axe Tunnel Collection and Super Sonic Ball, so it’s a sore knock to ardent fans of the series.
Your tears will be short-lived, however, as the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition shows its mettle with the new full-colour LCD screen, 128KB of RAM and 25MHz ez80 CPU. Developers are using the screen space and colours to great effect, with the standout being the port of Steins;Gate. Some old classics have been revitalised for a new, younger audience, while new titles like Buttonz are redefining what we think of games. Truly a Citizen Kane moment for the industry.
Aside from the arcane control setup they’ve decided to go with, Texas Instruments have really outdone themselves with the TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition. It ushers in a brave new era for fans of the brand, while it has enough whizzbang new technology and graphical fidelity to draw in a new audience, one enraptured with graphics
and shaders and 3D and HD. I’m loathe to give it a score – since it’s really the games that matter, not the system – but as that seems to be the trend nowadays you can find it below.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go work out my grocery allowance.