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stalepie

Reasons I like the 8 and 16-bit eras the best

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Here are some of my reasons for liking the 8 and 16-bit eras of video games the best. I'm torn between the NES and Genesis as my favorite systems, although I like the Playstation 1, DS and other systems just as much. But thinking it's not nostalgia-value for liking the NES, here are some of my reasons for liking the late 80s and early 90s. See if you agree.

 

1. Graphics were just advanced enough that you could depict realism without losing imagination and a cartoony (colorful) look.

 

2. Sounds were still chiptune, which worked well with the lo-fi appearance of the graphics and sounded cool to boot.

 

3. Gamepads were simpler -- I like only 2 or 3 buttons so as not to get overwhelmed with controls, which became popular with the PS1 and fighting games (and PC games in general).

 

4. Development teams were small, more independent, needed less resources and money and could just focus on creativity instead of business management, and other things. Nowadays there are whole positions dedicated to just working on a game's logo or title screen.

 

5. This is tied in with number 1, but graphics and sounds were ambiguous enough that games had their own unique worlds that didn't look like any other media. Today's games frequently look more like movies or cartoons or paintings (this isn't necessarily bad, but much of what made video games unique seems to be lost). I particularly love old school sound effects, not just from NES-era but from Atari days and arcades too.

 

6. The feeling of exploration and innovation was in the air -- both from a creative standpoint (everyone was pioneering new gameplay styles and IPs since there was so much unexplored territory) and from the player's standpoint (he hadn't played any games like this before because none had existed + games themselves seemed to be more fantastical, with more surprises)... a lot of games advertized "adventure" and going on a quest.

 

7. Games weren't overlong or too short. They were too short in the Atari era, but got too long (imo) in the Playstation 2 era. I just beat Flashback for the first time on the Genesis, yesterday, and thought it was the perfect game in terms of length and pretty much everything else.

 

8. You didn't know as much about games before they came out or before you bought them, so there was more anticipation and mystery in buying them -- maybe you even talked to the store clerk about them or saw them at friends' house first, rather than on YouTube.

 

9. Games were more family-friendly and seemed geared towards kids usually. I like this more because I feel you're at your most imaginative when you're a kid.

 

10. Japan. I love their style and imagination and felt they were at their best in those days.

 

Well, that's all I can think of, but it pretty much sums up why I love the old days the best. I know today's games are quality entertainment though.

Edited by stalepie
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I agree with you 100% and I don't play any modern games at all. My newest systems that I own and play are my Jag and my Saturn.

 

My favourite machine I own though is my Lynx, enough said really.

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For me, it was the variety...

You had all different types and styles of games.. (Sounds redundantly repetitive, huh, :-)

 

What I mean is, you had first person RPGs and top down RPGs and text RPGs and semi-text RPGs and.... etc..

Shooters? Same thing... Every possible option.. (Well, were there any text shooters? Still.. :-)

etc..

 

Now, it's 3D everything...

RPG, we have a 3D FPS engine for that.. Don't want FPS? No prob, we shift the camera up for you and, voilla, VARIETY!

 

er.. no..

 

I'm not saying there aren't any other creative new games (VIB Ribbon comes to mind), but they are few and far between.

And I'm not saying 3D can't be fun. I liked Doom, Duke Nukem 3D and Redneck Rampage. I even just finished Prey recently (Yeah, it's older, but they have a Linux native version I found out about..). And I do like Neverwinter Nights (again, Linux native) as an RPG engine.

 

But, I also like Donkey Kong and Ms Pacman... R-Type... Point and Click adventures are awesome.

I was thrilled when I heard that there was going to be a Full Throttle 2, and then I heard it would be 3D.

Then they scrapped it because it "wasn't going to be true enough to the original".. So? Make it a great NEW 2D Point and Click game!! Nope.. If it's not going to work in 3D, there's no point doing it...

 

<sigh>

 

I like some modern games, but I enjoy the classics more, because there is more variety.

 

desiv

 

Oh yeah, I did purchase a new game recently.. World of Goo... NOT 3D.. :-) And still fun...

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I'll never understand why so many have the "Oh, this game is so lifelike, it's like watching a movie", :? :ponder:.If i want to watch a movie I'll throw in a DVD or watch a REAL movie.Video games for me is a form of escapism.I like a certain level of realism, like realistic sound effects, visual effects, but to have a game look exactly lifelike, what's the point or fun in that?

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Great points here and by all. Especially the realism bit. But even that's faux. The way modern characters breathe and are constantly moving/heaving. It's freaky and unnatural. Is it the Amish or another sect, that do not believe in having faces on their dolls? I totally get that now. lol When it comes to most modern games though, the more "realistic", the more offensive it is to me. Especially sports games. Not driving though! Driving games and the old laserdisc shoot 'em ups are the two genres I can forgive and actually prefer that way :)

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Horror games are probably the one genre that has benefited most from modern technology. You just couldn't do games like Silent Hill and Dead Space on 16-bit and earlier tech.

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Well, there was "Clock Tower" for the Super Famicom, and "Sweet Home" for the Famicom, but perhaps they weren't as effective as later offerings.

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Strange as it sounds, I liked the peripheral craze of the late 80s/early 90s. Picking up some old Gamepro's or EGMs then and seeing the new Sega CD or the Turbo CD and just being wowed by the leap in graphic capabilities. Dreaming of the stuff I could add on to my system....I never did, but I always dreamed of it. When handhelds came out...WOW! Not that Gameboy stuff, the Game Gear and Lynx were awesome. Imagine playing the games you were used to on a big console in something that would fit...well not in your pocket, unless it was really big. A backpack maybe?

 

What I really liked most then was the fact that playing those games felt like games. Most games now feel like playable movies. Lots of fancy graphics and effects, but no gameplay. When I sit down to play a game maybe I'll only have half an hour or so to play. That's not much time to devote to the newest GTA or Rainbow Six or Splinter Cell.

 

I have to agree with the music. Whenever I hear some music from Ninja Gaiden or Phantasy Star I'm just flooded with memories. I only hear a few notes and I think "Hey that's Gaiden, awesome!" Each game had it's own soundtrack that belonged to THAT GAME.

 

The anticipation of new games was nerve racking. Would this one be worth the $50? How could you know? There was no interwebs to get the information through the tubes. You had to read magazine after magazine and trust in the ratings. Find some other kids in the area that already had the game and see if you could try it out. None of the above exist? No problem! Just buy it cause of the cool cover art and the couple of screenshots on the back of the box. Man I got burned on a couple games that way *cough SMS After Burner cough*

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For me, it was the variety...

You had all different types and styles of games.. (Sounds redundantly repetitive, huh, :-)

 

What I mean is, you had first person RPGs and top down RPGs and text RPGs and semi-text RPGs and.... etc..

Shooters? Same thing... Every possible option.. (Well, were there any text shooters? Still.. :-)

etc..

A lot of that was only on computers, and if you include computers, yeah it was extremely diverse, but for consoles alone it was pretty limited in general: there were exceptions, but sidescrollin run n jump platformers and run and gun games (with the occasioanl shmup, fighting game, arcade racer, adventure game, or RPG) made the bulk of the 3rd and 4th gen libraries.

You had a handful of 3D, flying games, rail shooters, and such, but they were rare and often limited.

On PC you had tons of graphic adventures, text adventures, text driven graphic adventures, flight sims, space combat sims, some platformers, SHMUPS, rail shooters, arcade ports, etc (many more if you include Speccy, CPC, C64, ST, and Amiga -or Japanese contemporary X68000, FM Towns, FM-7, PC8801, PC980x, and MSX), but except for Europe (and north America ~1984/85), those 2 were very different markets overall. There were FPSs too, a handful from 80s to the early 90s and then you got Wolf3D and Doom and the market blew up from there.

 

Now, it's 3D everything...

RPG, we have a 3D FPS engine for that.. Don't want FPS? No prob, we shift the camera up for you and, voilla, VARIETY!

No, it's mostly 3D, but certainly not everything there are still new 2D games, both pure 2D, and 2D gameplay rendered in polygons, now a ton of thsoe are simple puzzle or indi games (which is hardly a bad thing), or free flash games (many of which are rather good), but some real classic style games as well if you look. (many fewer is you discout downloadable content entirely though) And then there's the DS of course; a whole world of 2D games there. :P

 

But, I also like Donkey Kong and Ms Pacman... R-Type... Point and Click adventures are awesome.

I was thrilled when I heard that there was going to be a Full Throttle 2, and then I heard it would be 3D.

Then they scrapped it because it "wasn't going to be true enough to the original".. So? Make it a great NEW 2D Point and Click game!! Nope.. If it's not going to work in 3D, there's no point doing it...

3D would have been fine, Monkey Island made the transition a decade ago and did fine, Grim Fandango was great, etc, and IMO they could most definitely have kept the style of FT in 3D (as long as they didn't go for high realism and kept to a more caricature/cartoonie style) Telltale Games managed that very well too, and the've got their new Sam and Max games, plus Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People (those who know of homestarrunner will likely already be familiar with SBC4AP, but there's enough neat classic videogame references and solid point n' click adventure fun, that I think anyone fond of the genre -and especially retro games in general- would have a blast -on Wii and PC, just as with Sam and Max and Tales of Monkey Island)

Then there's a wealth of point and click flash games too.

 

And if you haven't noticed, there's a ton of simple, fun, classic arcade style games in the budget/indie download market sector. (not to mention free online games)

 

 

 

Back in the 80's and 90's we didn't have hardware specifications having an effect on the way we looked at games.

Well that's not really true, you just had a lot less accurate and far more gimmicky and ignorant specs being tossed around, it started with the whole 16-bit wars thing, and you got magazines quoting color counts sprite counts and sizes, resolution, hardware scaling or rotation features, CPU speed, parallax layers, etc. And that only got worse with blind polygon counts thrown in later on. Hell there was one magazine (EGM?) that totally panned the TG-16 for lacking "the scrolls" and praising the Genesis's dual BG layers.

 

It't too bad NEC didn't come back and point out that: "yeah, we got an 8-bit CPU, but hell everything from the past 15 years of home video game systems has used 8-bit CPUs so does that mean the Channel F or Atari 2600 is as powerful as the NES or Master System?" (and indeed, in terms of CPU power alone, the VCS is not much weaker than the SMS or NES, it goes to show how limiting a benchmark that is)

Edited by kool kitty89

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2. Sounds were still chiptune, which worked well with the lo-fi appearance of the graphics and sounded cool to boot.

Not from 1988 onward, well later in the US, but in the Asian market you already had CD-ROM in there. Besides, there's a fair amount of SNES stuff (and Genesis -or especially Sega CD -and NOT just red book) that goes beyond that: hell several SNES games had dolby surround support.

At least, it really depends what you mean by "chiptune."

 

3. Gamepads were simpler -- I like only 2 or 3 buttons so as not to get overwhelmed with controls, which became popular with the PS1 and fighting games (and PC games in general).

Hmm, SNES has 8 buttons... (6 if you discount start/select) Genesis later got 6 (1993 and 8 buttons if you count start and mode) and a fair number of games required that (or were hindered without -some needed more than that even)

So Saturn and PSX were a very modest step up from that with 8 buttons each (9 or 10 if you count start or select, 12 with the dual analog) Nitnendo went with 8-ish buttons (more but not intended to be used simultaneously)

DC and GC actually dropped button count back to more like the 4th gen. (I actually think it's a shame the 6 face button layout wasn't kept, much better than adding dual triggers IMO, and noone's fully matched the buttons on Sega's Genesis or Saturn controllers -N64 came closest with A and B IMO)

 

4. Development teams were small, more independent, needed less resources and money and could just focus on creativity instead of business management, and other things. Nowadays there are whole positions dedicated to just working on a game's logo or title screen.

We still have that now, they're called indie developers. ;)

 

However, there were some big budget developers by the early 90s at the very least, and games by then could constitute at least a handful of people if not a dozen or so. (and not just for games using multimedia stuff) Have you seen some of the staff rolls on a lot of SNES and Genesis games? (not to mention PC games of the time)

 

7. Games weren't overlong or too short. They were too short in the Atari era, but got too long (imo) in the Playstation 2 era. I just beat Flashback for the first time on the Genesis, yesterday, and thought it was the perfect game in terms of length and pretty much everything else.

There were a few long games on the VCS (hampered by lack of saving and such), but by the late 80s you could easily have 20-40 hour games with many RPGs or adventure games. (much earlier on computers though -the earliest being text adventures)

 

8. You didn't know as much about games before they came out or before you bought them, so there was more anticipation and mystery in buying them -- maybe you even talked to the store clerk about them or saw them at friends' house first, rather than on YouTube.

And that was part of what destabilized the industry in the early 80s... Magazine reviews and rentals weren't ideal, but they helped a lot (to my recollection we never threw money away on a new, expensive game without trying/borrowing/renting or at least reading an extensive review of it first, for bargain buys it's a different story -and you end up with Back to the Future and such).

With the advent of shareware, demos, tiral versions, online reviews, gameplay footage, etc, it's so much easier for consumers to be properly informed.

With as much shovelware as there is, it's hard to imagine how bad it could be without such accessible information.

 

9. Games were more family-friendly and seemed geared towards kids usually. I like this more because I feel you're at your most imaginative when you're a kid.

I wouldn't say that's necessarily true, though graphics were so primitive that it wasn't so much an issue until the 4th gen with things like Mortal Kombat. (though it had been fair play in Japan and on home computers for many, many years -many Nintendo games were heavily censored when being westernized, at least prior to Sega establishing a proper rating system -Kudos to Sega, it was long overdue)

Some of Nitnedo's early western releases were uncensored too, Pro Wrestling on the NES in 1986 had bighting+blood, stabbing with forks, etc.

(see: 2:25 onward)

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2. Sounds were still chiptune, which worked well with the lo-fi appearance of the graphics and sounded cool to boot.

Not from 1988 onward, well later in the US, but in the Asian market you already had CD-ROM in there. Besides, there's a fair amount of SNES stuff (and Genesis -or especially Sega CD -and NOT just red book) that goes beyond that: hell several SNES games had dolby surround support.

At least, it really depends what you mean by "chiptune."

I mean pre-redbook, pre-CD-quality sound. I'm including FM and SNES-style music as well.

 

Hmm, SNES has 8 buttons... (6 if you discount start/select) Genesis later got 6 (1993 and 8 buttons if you count start and mode) and a fair number of games required that (or were hindered without -some needed more than that even)

So Saturn and PSX were a very modest step up from that with 8 buttons each (9 or 10 if you count start or select, 12 with the dual analog) Nitnendo went with 8-ish buttons (more but not intended to be used simultaneously)

DC and GC actually dropped button count back to more like the 4th gen. (I actually think it's a shame the 6 face button layout wasn't kept, much better than adding dual triggers IMO, and noone's fully matched the buttons on Sega's Genesis or Saturn controllers -N64 came closest with A and B IMO)

The majority of the games, even on SNES, didn't require more than 3 or 4 buttons, iirc. Many of them debuted on both Genesis and SNES, so couldn't have.

 

We still have that now, they're called indie developers. ;)

 

However, there were some big budget developers by the early 90s at the very least, and games by then could constitute at least a handful of people if not a dozen or so. (and not just for games using multimedia stuff) Have you seen some of the staff rolls on a lot of SNES and Genesis games? (not to mention PC games of the time)

They weren't as big as today's and the budgets weren't as large. I remember reading about how Final Fantasy 7 upped the ante in size of budgets/teams at the time, but I believe their size has become standard now.

There were a few long games on the VCS (hampered by lack of saving and such), but by the late 80s you could easily have 20-40 hour games with many RPGs or adventure games. (much earlier on computers though -the earliest being text adventures)

Most games weren't RPGs and RPGs weren't as popular then. Wasn't thinking of PC stuff because normally talk of "8 and 16-bit" is about consoles.

 

Not sure that text adventures are really that long, though. Take a long time to figure out, but to play once you know the answers?

 

And that was part of what destabilized the industry in the early 80s... Magazine reviews and rentals weren't ideal, but they helped a lot (to my recollection we never threw money away on a new, expensive game without trying/borrowing/renting or at least reading an extensive review of it first, for bargain buys it's a different story -and you end up with Back to the Future and such).

With the advent of shareware, demos, tiral versions, online reviews, gameplay footage, etc, it's so much easier for consumers to be properly informed.

With as much shovelware as there is, it's hard to imagine how bad it could be without such accessible information.

No idea if it destabilized the industry.

 

I think it's easy to spoil the experience of video games (and movies) with YouTube and other video sites today. I'm frequently tempted to look at walkthroughs, or just a video review from IGN, which tends to show a lot. Hell, even these early preview videos at E3 show a lot.

 

I wouldn't say that's necessarily true, though graphics were so primitive that it wasn't so much an issue until the 4th gen with things like Mortal Kombat. (though it had been fair play in Japan and on home computers for many, many years -many Nintendo games were heavily censored when being westernized, at least prior to Sega establishing a proper rating system -Kudos to Sega, it was long overdue)

Some of Nitnedo's early western releases were uncensored too, Pro Wrestling on the NES in 1986 had bighting+blood, stabbing with forks, etc.

(see: 2:25 onward)

Uh, no, even Japanese games weren't nearly as adult back then. I've seen the censorship and it's usually things like crosses in the background or a little blood. I'm not calling for censorship today or less adult games, but because of the limited color palettes and the sense that these were toys we were playing, games were much more kid-focused. Even today's kiddie games like Jak & Dexter are, in my opinion, more teenage-focused, and have oftentimes rather realistic or moody graphics.

Even in that video you linked,

#t=03m13s , if you go to where I've linked it at 3minutes and 13 seconds, it says "pro wrestling in the 80s was much more kid-friendly and mainstream than it is today." LOL!

What I mean anyway was just a different atmosphere of fun. It's hard to explain, but the entertainment was less dark and moody, ugly and depressing.

Edited by stalepie

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The reason I like classic (pre- Playstation) games so much is that I always felt (even back in those days) that hardware restrictions actually forced game companies to be even more creative!

 

Especially back in the days of the NES, it always seemed to be like -

Game exec: "We only have it in the budget to make a 2D side-scroller. But there are so many of those on the shelves already... how do we make our game stand out from the rest?"

Programmer: "Well, what if our character couldn't jump?"

Game exec: "ARE YOU CRAZY?!? *ahem* But, you've certainly got my attention - go on..."

Programmer: "And, instead of jumping, you have to like, use your bionic... uh, extend-able... metal arm, maybe?"

Game exec: "BRILLIANT!" :thumbsup:

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I agree - something about the old tech made developers more creative. I've noticed that in 3D games the physics all tend to be pretty realistic (you can only jump a couple feet off the ground, enemies are knocked back by fire realistically, and running looks more realistic). With "worse" graphics (and sounds) the art tends to be more imaginative because both the player and the artist can only suggest what it is you're seeing and you can get away with more ridiculous situations.

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The reason I like classic (pre- Playstation) games so much is that I always felt (even back in those days) that hardware restrictions actually forced game companies to be even more creative!

Absolutely. Hence the William Morris quote which appears on the back cover of Racing the Beam -- "You can't have art without resistance in the materials." That struggle is a huge part of what makes art exciting, both directly (art as a kind of high-wire act) and indirectly (forcing the artist to make choices that aren't just the path of least resistance).

 

To get even more arcane, you could say that "struggle articulates subject". In other words that tension, between the creative impulse and the limtations of a particular medium, helps us to perceive the creative mind behind the work being made. A great example of this is Bach's solo violin music, which pushes the violin to its absolute limit in terms of the instrument's capacity to sustain multiple lines at once. It's a bit like watching a one-armed juggler keep five balls in the air.

 

(Also, it's amazing how often this happens: people do great work under severe limitations, and then when they can finally do whatever they want, the results are boring or totally misguided. Think of all the mediocre solo albums that follow the breakup of great bands. Yes, part of it is that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts", but it's also that a great collaboration works as much as a restraint on each person's tendency towards self-indulgence.)

 

A lot of game design today makes me think of photorealism, a movement in the visual arts that dates from the 1970s (I think), in which painters attempted to create works that looked uncannily like photographs, without any apparent stylization. Could they pull it off? Yep, the results are remarkable...and totally boring. There's no "there" there, no sense of a creative mind trying to communicate something to us.

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I LOVE pissing matches! Personally my record is 20 ft.

 

Is that winter or summer? I've heard in the cold weather you can get more distance.

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And if you haven't noticed, there's a ton of simple, fun, classic arcade style games in the budget/indie download market sector. (not to mention free online games)

 

I did say I bought/liked "World of Goo", which is 2D and Indie..

 

So.. Yes, I noticed.. :roll: :cool: :P

 

I also own all of Introversion's games (except Multiwinia).. I like Indie games mostly now..

 

desiv

(What was that??? 18' 6"?? Darn.. )

Edited by desiv

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Games like Redneck Rampage, Blood, Blood 2 The Chosen, Sierra quest games like King's Quest, Police Quest, Quake, early Doom, Halflife (the 1st one),The Legend Of Kyrandia, Monkey Island, games like that.Those games put you in a fantasy world with bright, colorful graphics, some were rather pixelated, all the better!!I am not a fan of today's games of any kind, PC or console.I just can't get into games where humans look exactly lifelike, it's hard to explain, but I'm sure you guys that appreciate the 8 and 16 bit era know what i mean. ;)

Edited by Rik

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When I get to thinking about it, I realize it's '90s gaming in general that I enjoyed the most, even as much as I like 8 and 16-bit style games. Over that decade, there was such a wide, diverse range of technology. You had the NES wiping the floor in 1990, but by the time 1999 hit, the Dreamcast was storming the market. It was the quick improvement in technology that kept things interesting, and with it, so many different kinds of gameplay, visual and music styles were explored over this ten year stretch.

Edited by Austin

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I LOVE pissing matches! Personally my record is 20 ft.

 

Is that winter or summer? I've heard in the cold weather you can get more distance.

Spring, because the wind helps.

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stalepie,

 

I agree entirely with you and I would add that games were not dominated by their story. The story was for the manual and my imagination, the game was about playing. Every now and then story developed, but it didn't take a half hour cut scene to do it (usually you just talked to everybody in a town). Perfect example: I love Soul Reaver, the game is huge, deep and fun. But Soul Reaver 2 is all FMV and story and very little adventure. In the first two hours of game play, at least half is comprised of cut scenes advancing plot and very little to actually do. Even when there is something to do, it is laced with shorter cut scenes that start with the lead character telling me what he is doing as I watch on ("As I stepped through the door, I felt like..."). ENOUGH, let me play the game and feel it for myself. And modern games have only gotten worse since.

 

stalepie is smart. :thumbsup:

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I LOVE pissing matches! Personally my record is 20 ft.

 

Is that winter or summer? I've heard in the cold weather you can get more distance.

Spring, because the wind helps.

 

Yeah but you gotta be careful that the wind doesn't shift.

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I LOVE pissing matches! Personally my record is 20 ft.

 

Is that winter or summer? I've heard in the cold weather you can get more distance.

Spring, because the wind helps.

 

Yeah but you gotta be careful that the wind doesn't shift.

 

You just have to make sure the wind isn't blowing at 40mph or something like that, otherwise you can wizz in the wind without a hitch. :thumbsup:

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