After reading the Ready Player One novel several years ago I really wanted to track down several of the games that were pivotal to the plot of the novel (not the movie). Many of the games in the novel I had played as a kid (since I grew up in the 80’s), but some of them I had never heard of. Black Tiger was one of the games I had never played. Back when I first started looking for ways to play Black Tiger there were not a lot of very good options. Sure, you could find a few places to play it in an emulator on the internet, but the quality of game play was pretty dismal. I even wrote an article several years ago here on GeekDad about classic video game references from the Ready Player One novel that play crucial roles in the story and where you can play them.
Fast forward to just a couple of months ago. I was playing around with the new Google Bard chat AI or Large Language Model (LLM) service and just for fun I typed a question into Google Bard about whether I could play Black Tiger on Nintendo Switch (which is my home video game console of choice). For the last several years I have been searching every week on the Nintendo Switch eShop in their new release section just in case they decided to drop a new port of the game (or honestly any other retro game I had been hoping for the chance to play on Nintendo Switch). But Black Tiger never came across as I scanned the new arrivals. So I was a little more than surprised when my Google Bard question was answered with a “yes.”
So I quickly turned on my Nintendo Switch and went to the eShop and downloaded the Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium collection game. But here is where Google Bard was a little out of date. The Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium collection wasn’t $39.99 as Google Bard had stated. You could download the title for free and then purchase games individually from within the game itself (even better). So I scrolled to the Black Tiger console within the game and it took me to the Nintendo eShop and allowed me to purchase just the Black Tiger game for $1.99 (scroll down in the eShop menu and towards the bottom of the screen it will list out all the individual games for sale). There was also a bundle available with all 32 games for $39.99 (it occasionally goes on sale like it is as I am writing this article for $19.99).
So this type of search is something that really isn’t an apparent use case for the average person (granted you have to be special kind of nerd to be searching for ways to play an only 80’s video game). These Large Language Model (LLM) AI engines are really good at stringing words to together, but in order to do so they must also be good at searching through large amounts of text. While I might have seen that Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium was released for Nintendo Switch, it never occurred to me to dig into all of the games that were part of the package to see if Black Tiger was one of them. I just never made that connection. But using an AI engine like Google Bard or chatGPT lets you dig into the details and uncover things a simple internet search might not have easily revealed. So rather than turn to AI to just write your next term paper or status report for work, maybe consider it for some of your more complicated internet searches. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.