We can easily see hiring Juliet Starling to zombie-proof your house, but we never expected April O'neil to make porn flicks. It just goes to show that expectation can always offer a few surprises. Ms. O'neil (the porn star) is also a super-cool geek-girl. You should follow April O'neil on Twitter.
Porn star Aprile O'neil chose her stage-name based on a passion for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - TMNT. She often cosplays as "April".
April gets the real inside story from the Turtles.
Juliet Starling is the sexy zombie-killer from popular video game, Lollipop Chainsaw.
If there's ever a zombie apocalypse, you may want to initiate a few of these ideas. We're more concerned with third-world nuclear proliferation, but the dead could rise... I suppose.
The Nintendo Knitting Machine never made it to retail shelves, but did make an appearance at the 1987 Winter Consumer Electronics Show to gauge interest (or lack thereof). A recent Twitter post by @VideoGamesFacts about a post on Gamemaster Howard's Facebook page and me led to Kotaku and IGN articles about this odd NES peripheral.
The Nintendo Knitting Machine was never a commercial item, but it was shown at trade shows and the software was released in Japan.
This product was geared toward girls prior to corporate managers being aware that girls liked video games (duh). I suppose the suits sat around a boardroom table discussing the likelihood of some guy's little sister using his NES to make a sweater. I can't see this as a promising entry into any market or demographic, but it got to the "presentation/demo" stage.
It looks as though an NES controller would be placed into a cradle to allow interaction with the Knitting Machine. This makes me wonder if Player-2 could jump in and try to sabotage the design with some crafty up-up-A-A-B action.
Or perhaps the crafty "little sister" could customize her design with some dual-controller madness. Obviously, I don't know a thing about sewing or knitting, but I'm fascinated to know more about how the knitting program ("game" cart) interacted with the Knitting Machine.
Singer's Izek Sewing Machine controlled by a Nintendo GameBoy.
Singer actually launched this baby onto the market, but it didn't hold the "video game aesthetic" quite the way the Nintendo Knitting Machine did. As sewing machines modernized, many incorporated computer-like interfaces for stich patterns and such. It seems as though Singer harnessed the power of GameBoy to use it to bolster the Izek's abilities.
The interesting part is that the GameBoy Color obviously requires a game cart to interface with the sewing machine. I love these sort of odd relationships where that cart on the shelf next to Donkey Kong Country controls the stitching on your sewing machine. Technology is a wild beast... even if it only knits a sweater.
December 12, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Article:
There should be something profound to offer on 12/12/12
...Oh well. There's always next century.
Words of wisdom from Kevin Smith about the benefits of encouraging artists.
Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist and you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.
The hottest band in the world - KISS
As a long time fan of the La Femme Nikita movie and remake with Bridget Fonda, I was stoked to see the Peta Wilson series appear on TV. Then to my surprise, Nikita again returned to TV with Maggie Q as Nikita. I love a good spy story with girls & guns.
There are loads of iPhone cases on the market to make your phone look like everything from R2D2 to a block of wood. There's no shortage of creativity in masking your Apple device, so why hasn't this fad extended to other devices of standard form-factors?
The folks at 8 Bit Memory have managed to fit external USB hard drives into Nintendo NES carts. Pretty cool to store several gigs of retro ROMs on a drive housed in your favorite NES game's case!
Seeing a USB port on the side of an NES cart sparks the imagination. You can get increasingly larger hard drives for laptops, so it stands to reason one could wedge a hefty drive into almost anything.
With the average NES game weighing in around 175K, it's fun to think about terabytes of storage fitting into an NES game cart.
We're glad 8 Bit Memory chose NES carts. Very iconic and a slick add-on to have next to your computer. Of course the more one thinks about it, the more likely you are to want that big fat hard drive inside your favorite game cart. MegaMan? Bionic Commando? Street Fighter? The list goes on and on. With a large library, your specific game title may not be available, although I'm sure they'd hook you up if you sent in a donor-cart.
For those Do-it-yourself fanatics, you can get some case building instructions at Indestructibles. This way you can get your hands dirty and use your own special game cart and prove that crafting isn't only about colored paper, doilies and glue-sticks.
It's hard to envision Code of Honor, an upcoming adult film from Digital Playground, without Activision's FPS series, Call of Duty, coming to mind. <-- numerous puns
And we can't really liken adult actresses Stoya or Kayden Kross to any of COD's soldiers, but as porn films go, Code of Honor (adult site - NSFW) is a big budget release - complete with porn stars "flying" helicopters and firing machine guns. Call Of Duty has garnered a huge following as a game series and it seems as though DP's porno follies are hitching a ride on this popularity.
However, Digital Playground (adult site - NSFW) knows a thing or two about naked chicks and how to market them. Nudity is one of the more attention getting marketing tools at their disposal, but they've taken technology a step further.
Digital Playground exclusive actresses Jesse Jane & Kayden Kross in porn flick, Code Of Honor.
During the rise of internet technology, the Adult Industry has led the way in several venues including streaming video, e-commerce and digital marketing. They aren't credited with any pioneering prowess, but they did it better than anyone else right out of the gate. E-Commerce as we know it today had a lot of catching up to do to reach what the the porn folks mastered in the 90's.
Setting themselves apart from others in adult video, Digital Playground has a successful history of big-budget films and marketing savvy. They are currently placing QR (Quick Response Code) codes on their movie packaging, products and marketing collateral, giving shoppers instant access to trailers and info while they shop. This is destined to make adult video stores far more interesting as patrons juggle stacks of DVDs while watching X-rated trailers.
We're all familiar with consumers roaming the aisles aiming smart phones at UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes to see if driving across town to the competitor will yield a better price. The problem is that UPC is fairly limited and sometimes retailer-specific as opposed to garnering info from the manufacturer. UPC is designed to be scanned at point-of-sale, so it's info is relevant mainly to those who've already made a purchase decision.
QR tends to offer pre-sale info - in fact, these codes, initially designed for industrial use, now send consumers to brand websites or better still, to landing pages relevant to the specific code.
If you're debating between 2 similar products and one has a QR code that takes you to a wealth of information, which product are most people likely to buy? This kind of instant gratification could easily give savvy marketers a quick edge over the competition who's still stuffing the Sunday newspaper with sale circulars.
In the Digital Playground example, they could have standardized on one QR code across all of their products to send consumers to their main website, but the marketing power of being able to send them to a URL with information specific to the product in-hand is an amazing leap forward in connecting relevant info to a purchasing decision.
Video Games Would Benefit from QR
Having looked at the porn industry's adoption of technology... when are gaming marketers going to get in on this action? I can scan a PS3 cover with my ESRB app and gain access to the number of times the word "fuck" appears in a game or I can scan the UPC and do a price comparison.
QR codes could lead to everything from game trailers to story arcs and marketing info to support a sale. With a vibrant used game market and new games costing $60 + DLC, consumers would benefit from having relevant info at the time in which they are making a purchase. This happens online all the time - QR could bring that immediacy to brick & mortar.
We've all heard of these Jetson-esque GPS marketing strategies where a coupon for a store would appear on my phone when I walk by that store. Until that becomes a reality, why not let me aim my smartphone at a a game's QR and get the info I'd have if I were surfing the web for reviews while a purchase-screen lays dormant in another browser window?
Give consumers a good reason to pay $60 rather than waiting for that game to be relegated to the bargain bin!
It's hard to imagine someone using an electric typewriter these days with the proliferation of computers.
Brother, renown for manufacturing typewriters and other products, has make it's last one in it's UK factory, in Wrexham - Nov 2012. One may wonder who's still buying typewriters these days, but rest assured this last relic went to the London Science Museum.
Some folks today may associate a "clickity clack" sound with Thomas the annoyingly polite Tank Engine racing down the tracks in an effort to please Sir Toppham Hat. Others of us think - typewriters.
I learned to type on an IBM Selectric and later pondered it's fast moving "ball" versus other manufacturers favoring the Daisy Wheel. However, when I was a kid, I had the privilege of using my Dad's manual typewriter that would magically ring a bell at the end of each line alerting me to slap the carriage return arm so I could continue my prose on the next line. Those were the days and I was duly impressed when I realized the Selectric automatically returned the carriage - so to speak.
Typewriters may seem as though they belong in the same category as 2400 baud modems, manual-crank car windows and 8-track tapes, but anyone who's sent an e-mail, written a blog or logged into an e-commerce site should sit back and take note that your fancy keyboard full of F keys and features still reads QWERTY the same as any vintage typewriter.
You can't hack a typewriter - in the traditional sense and they don't get viruses. But that simply opens a conversation as to how many Cold War spies garnered info from discarded typewriter ribbons.
Today, a kid's first exposure to a keyboard may likely be a virtual one pushed to the TV via a game console. Type that in your blog and smoke it ;)
I remember seeing this Korg cart at GameStop for the Nintendo DS and it stopped me in my tracks. I primarily consider the DS more of an amusement than a device for which Korg would release software. I wondered if someone had licensed the "Korg" name and plastered it onto some sort of synth cart. Apparently not!
This really opened my eyes to the chiptune scene - I'm still learning, but the venture has revealed an insane amount of creativity by those who know how to turn old computers and game consoles into a "band".
Modeled after Korg's MS-10 synth, this is a slick cart that musicians will dig. This isn't a game cart and may be too much for the average person interested in chiptunes. There are 3 instruments: 2 monophonic synths and a 4-part drum machine. AQ Interactive has done a nice job replicating the original MS-10 and it sounds great. There are many limitations, but if one were to force a synth into a GameBoy-ish device, this isn't half bad. I can't attest to much of this, but I'm told this is true - by those in the know.
This cart is an upgrade that adds a Dual Mode for those with DSi units. However, don't discount that old relic - GameBoy. Vintage GameBoys have a relevant role in today's chiptunes thanks to devices like SYNTHBOY+.
SYNTHBOY+ is an interface dock that converts a GameBoy into an 8 bit sound machine. You handheld will need a mod, but this seems to be a pretty slick way to incorporate vintage gaming into your compositions. You can find out more about it at Ninstrument.
AC/DC pinball machine from Stern - the folks who gave us Berzerk in 1980. In my arcade days of the early 80's there were 2 kinds of arcades: The kind that spent more time selling hot dogs and the kind that had pinball machines. So many of the arcades of my youth were all about the latest video rage and often didn't have pinball.
I always suspected that the arcades without pinball simply didn't know how to repair them. Pinball is awesome, but nothing spells demise like tons of moving parts. These days pinball machines can be harder to find than an arcade of any sort. Hopefully retro fever and current production machines like this AC/DC machine will keep pinball active in as many places as possible.
Most Jedi don't possess her laser repelling bikini.
"A" is for Atari... and so goes the Video Game alphabet. Kindergarten teachers take note.
Apple didn't know what they were starting when girls began aiming their iPhone cameras at mirrors. Ladies, check your pose so you don't end up looking like this! :)
OK, perhaps the above title was a bit misleading, but these are great finds! An Xbox wrapped to look like a 2600 and a cooking site that offers gaming inspired dishes. Great stuff!
This Atari 2600 Edition Xbox 360 Console is being given away by Atari as part of their 40th anniversary celebration in which they had a Pong (for iOS) reboot contest. Enter to win this Xbox and get the winning Pong reboot download free for your iPhone.
Minecraft Pumpkin Pie from Gourmet Gaming is just one of the recipes featured on their game-inspired cooking site.
Many of us start the day with a cup (or three) of coffee, yet commercialism has taught us that energy comes from energy drinks. As far as I can tell there's no such thing as "natural" food unless you're dining on something you yanked out of your own garden. From farming pesticides to ingredients that are happiest when diagramed on a chemist's white board, there are times when a glass of water sounds devine.
Barraged by ads for mega-super-ninja-energy drinks, I've often wondered what's really in them. Jolt Cola always advertised twice the caffeine - that I understood. Trying to make various chemical compounds household names seems suspicious. The FDA is looking into several energy drinks possibly related to deaths. Hmmmm... you go to a bar and order an alcoholic beverage mixed with Red Bull. Perhaps that gives you wings, but a coronary seems more likely.
So along comes Gamma Labs' G Fuel, catering to gamers, with a deep desire to be sold at GameStop. They've launched quite a social media campaign complete with a catchy slogan (Mission GameStop: More Power to the Players!) and hashtag (#GameStopNeedsGFUEL). I'm not sure I see the connection, but I wonder if the marketing folks at Fruit Of The Loom are aware of all the gamers who may need new underwear after playing ZombieU.
From the Gamma Labs site - It's the only energy drink formulated for gamers by gamers, however it is not available at the world's largest video game retailer... yet.
I'm pretty sure I can get through 20 minutes of Pitfall! with a cup of coffee or a Coke. After all, GameStop doesn't sell Atari either.
From pop-culture pieces in USA Today to the gritty innards of game industry journalism, I keep hearing that game consoles are on the decline. Some have ventured to say that game consoles are (or already have been) on the way out. I'm not ready to give in to popular opinion, but when luminaries in the industry begin saying that consoles are in their final stages, I get worried.
I spent countless hours in arcades and even more in front of the family TV with various Atari consoles, then marched forward with Nintendo. As a retro gamer, gaming has always been a console affair. I was never interested in PC games. Gaming for me was about the magic of a home console. How else could one play video games if not on a console?
Today that question has several answers from smart phones and tablets to web-based social games. The allure of 99¢ games is strong in a weak economy in which mobile technology still flourishes. I admit to enjoying Angry Birds and Stupid Zombies on my Android phone, but mobile games are quite different from console games. Their depth is far less than the average console game. This isn't to slight mobile gaming, but most of the nay sayers seem to think gaming is a single entity. It is not.
The advent of mobile gaming has broadened gaming as we knew it. Where we once had PC games and console games, the video game landscape is changing. I don't see mobile gaming overthrowing console gaming. It's a new form of gaming brought on by technology. Phones suck less than they used to and can now handle a wealth of media variations formerly relegated to computers and game consoles.
Computers are now gathering dust as consumers flock to get tablets - which seem to be more like cell phones with bigger screens and hobbled ability make a phone call. Who knows where all this will lead, but you can guarantee that technology will continue to march forward, bringing gamers more options.
So, we've seen the game industry spread from the dedicated consoles from Atari and Nintendo to multi-use devices like the PS2 and PS3 that had DVD and BluRay capabilities. Then we watched as mobile and social gaming took off. This leaves us in the 8th generation with the Wii U and expected updates from Sony and Microsoft. Let's look at the previous generation - seven.
The 7th generation began in 2005 with the PSP. Within a year we had new consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. But what happened between 2007 and 2011? Um... not much. This leaves us with a new scenario in gaming - console fatigue. The Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 have languished without upgrades or any new manufacturer coming on the scene. Up until 2012 there were new consoles coming out almost every year or two and new players coming into the market. Atari really got home console gaming going with the 2600. Then Nintendo came in with the NES, Mattel came in with Intellivision, Coleco with Colecovision and Sega. There were also a host of others from Vectrex to Turbo Grafx. That's a lot of activity compared with Gen 7 and the big three manufacturers with 5+ year old systems!
In Gen 8 we now have the Wii U - which is damn exciting - and a host of mobile gaming options that some worry are taking gaming down a path toward inexpensive mini-game experiences. But wait - Ouya! The upcoming (March 2013?) Android gaming console dares to take the ease of mobile development back to the living room TV in console format. Mobile is a new extension of traditional gaming, but gaming's roots are in the power and focus of game consoles. They may expand in their multi-use (everything to everyone marketing strategy), but I feel consoles are here to stay. Of course I felt the same way about laserdiscs.
I think gaming is simply going through some growing pains as we wait to see where mobile gaming goes and a logical balance between mobile and console settles into place. I'm sure some more chaos will ensue. Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K and that works just fine in gaming.
The Nintendo Wii Mini ($100) is just a bit bigger than a game disc and features an all-new design with a manual release, top-loading disc tray, a red and black color scheme, and a matching red controller. There's still no GameCube compatibility (like the Family Edition releases) or Internet capability. It's Canada-only for now.
As the advent of the Wii U drew near, the web was buzzing with the notion that a cheaper, scaled back Wii would be eminent. Many manufacturers release inexpensive variants of consoles to keep sales and interest during times when consumers are debating the current system or waiting for the new model. The Wii Family Edition seemed to be the answer, but it lacked GameCube support and wasn't really priced to sell.
The Wii Mini seems to be arriving a bit late in the game and only in Canada, for now. Odder still is the lack of internet connectivity. What!?!
On the other hand I loved the GameCube and never needed the modem adapter. Several people have pointed out that the Nintendo online shop (Virtual Console and WiiWare) is very underutilized, so nuking the wifi to lower the price may make this a good choice for kids and families.
I can't lie - It's cute and I'm sure I'll get one at some point :)
Around the Christmas holidays it's not always easy to buy gifts the the incessant retro gamer who has everything under the sun. When their wishlist is chock full of things that ceased production 20 years ago, you can't drop into a Macys to find the perfect gift.
Fortunately the folks at Left Turn Only, LLC. have created a new original homebrew game, Christmas Carol vs. The Ghost of Christmas Presents for Intellivision. In true holiday spirit... an Evil Snowman broke into Santa's Workshop and stole some of the presents and Santa sent one of his most trusted elves, Carol Greenleaf, to confront the fiend and bring back the stolen gifts.
This is a great gift for the retro collector who has it all - something brand new, but retro-old in all the right ways. Happy holidays!
NES top-loaders with the 8-Bit Xmas cart from Retrozone complete with built-in Christmas lights!.
The intro screen for 8-Bit Xmas which you can customize at purchase!
These functioning game carts/ornaments come in NES and SNES versions with a 4-player flight game in which Santa ditches the reindeer in favor of a biplane and some holiday carnage. It's clever ideas like this that make retro gaming a lot more fun than sitting around waiting for System Updates to finish. Just when you think your retro collection is complete, something new appears and makes you glad you're a retro gamer.
For a small fee you can even get a customized message on the start-up screen! This holiday delight is made from new parts (no donor carts sacrificed) and offers an abundance of holiday flair from the game itself to the blinking light display.
Although it's likely to work in the original NES, some careful reflection should reveal why the top-loader model may be the preferred console for maximum enjoyment.
They even provide a link to download the 8-Bit Xmas ROM. We gave t a quick whirl via emulator and liked what we saw. I'm sure it will be more fun on the actual cart with the flashing lights and familiar NES controller in hand.
I rarely get excited about mobile phone games. I love my DS, but tend not to use my phone for gaming. Turkey Chase from Happy Badger Studios is one of the exceptions. I dig this game!
Available on iPhones and Android, this Thanksgiving-themed game lets you descend into an 8 bit scene in which you are a turkey trying to evade hungry pilgrims who want to turn you into a meal. The developers purposely set out to create a simple game with a vintage Atari feel and they succeeded. It's almost unnatural to be controlling an 8-bit turkey via finger swipes - shouldn't I have a joystick?
As he runs frantically, guide your turkey around various obstacles as you finger-swipe the pilgrims to slow them down. Your goal is to see how far (there's an onscreen distance meter) you can run before meeting your Thanksgiving demise.
I love that they wanted to create a game with an 8-bit tribute and pulled it off with Atari-esque flair. So many games get lost in the mix with the plethora of mobile games available. If you like retro gaming, this is worth a look and the 99¢ fee.
November 23, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Article:
Family values descend into retail-lust at 1:00 in the morning #BlackFridy
The term Black Friday seems like something you'd see in the warning message on a pack of cigarettes. Alas, it's not a warning, but an invitation to stand in long lines for the privilege of fighting off the other folks shivering alongside you in the same line - as you both reach for the same toaster oven... when the store finally opens.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is when retailers try to capture nearly 1/3 of their entire year's earnings when folks decide to fight for bargains in the wee hours. The sale prices seem too good to be true, so droves of holiday shoppers get up early to get the best deals. This all sounds good when folks used to get up at 5:00AM to go shopping, but as the economy weakens, retails up the ante to entice people to shop.
This year the shopping began on Thanksgiving day - any time from 8:00PM on through the night (in my area). So, you have family getting together in thanks and after the meal, you go to WalMart to get a discounted flat-screen TV? Many studies have shown that the best deals actually occur much closer to Christmas, but retailers lure folks on Black Friday so they can get their accounting adjusted before year-end.
To me - Black Friday is the best day of the year to stay home and play video games! Sleep in - no crowds - just relaxing with an Atari joystick :)
When it comes to Reality TV, most of these "realities" kind of scrape the bottom of the barrel. From Jersey Shore to Big Brother, concocted reality shows are generally inexpensive to create and fans seem to eat it up.
I had a much different reaction when I heard that TBS will be debuting King of the Nerds in January.
My inner geek is drawn to this idea, but it's their contestant, Danielle, that makes me want to give this show a chance. You may know her as @TradeChat on Twitter or as Panser on her YouTube channel. She seems like a cool gal and she's a hardcore gamer (who really should have won that Maxim Gamer Girl contest) so we're pretty amped to see what KOTN has to offer in January.
From the KOTN website: King of the Nerds will take the glory of geekdom to a whole new level as the eleven competitors live together in "Nerdvana." Each week, they must face challenges that will test their intellect, ingenuity, skills and pop culture prowess. In each episode, the nerds will first compete as teams and then as individuals, facing challenges that range from live gaming to a dance-off to life-sized chess. One competitor will be eliminated each week until one nerd stands alone as the ultimate champion off all things nerdy.
I'm hoping King Of The Nerds is done well and will buck the trend with many of the "contest" oriented reality shows. I love Gold Rush, Tanked and even Billy The Exterminator as these shows take you into some pretty unique locations, scenarios and you meet some real characters. Geeks & nerds should offer good fodder for a reality show and hopefully they'll keep a tech-edge to the show. Check it out on TBS in January!
One of the premises of the Wii U was to make development easier so that games ordinarily created for Sony and Microsoft could just as easily be ported to the Wii U for maximum exposure across all the major consoles. Nintendo has always been the odd-man-out when it came to multi-platform game releases. Developing for Nintendo hardware always necessitated making a separate version in parallel with those for Sony and Microsoft.
Advertising takes an iPhone cue and goes from the Bathroom to the home console :)
Many companies are willing to do this, but it's an added expense that absolutely must show a return on the investment. In these tight economic times, every development dollar has to generate sales.
Nintendo has traditionally been more of a family-oriented company. They've had their share of controversy over mature content, but in this generation of console development, Sony and Microsoft have branded themselves as the platforms for mature titles and Nintendo has filled the gap for the E, E10 and T consumers. Sure there's a lot of crossover, but Nintendo has catered to kids more than any other manufacturer.
What about the Wii U? It's supposed to be simpler to develop for and remove the past aggravation of releasing games for Nintendo hardware. We can only hope this is the case and that the Wii U will gain more brand awareness with gamers seeking mature titles.
An article in The Examiner suggested that GTA 5 is still a possibility on the Wii U and that Nintendo is trying to broaden their offerings. I hope this is the case as Nintendo really can't replicate the original Wii demographic and begin to compete with the other consoles for market share.
I was initially very turned-off by the original Wii ad campaign. Creepy businessmen showing up at a slumber party saying they want to play was just weird. Aside from the peculiarity of these ads, they clearly showed the Wii as a children's toy. I always felt those ads permanently branded Nintendo as the "toy" option to real video gaming. It gave the feeling that computer retailers sold PlayStation and toy stores sold Wii.
Grand Theft Auto 5 ad.
It isn't hard to see the Apple-induced inspiration for this particular GTA 5 ad :)
I'd love to see GTA 5 for the Wii U, but more importantly, I want to see developers of the traditionally mature titles excited to broaden sales onto Nintendo hardware and add "Wii U" to the bottom of their advertising as an option along with PS3 and Xbox. Everyone will still have console exclusives, but I want to see Nintendo's branding and marketplace perceptions on par with the other game industry manufacturers.
The empty Wii U kiosk has sat dormant next to a non-functional Xbox for a week at my local Toys R Us. Today the power was on, the blue glow emanating, and a line of kids wailing on the new tablet controller. A nice change from the baren display crying out for some long-awaited hardware.
The Wii U locked away from harm in a chasis worthy of deflecting bullets during a Papal visit.
The full Wii U display kiosk glowing and calling out to me. I gave it a wink... I'll be back when the price drops ;)
Few launches are problem-free. With wireless configurations, downloading updates, adding new content to devour and interaction with others - frantic new buyers are eager to put it through it's paces. That can inundate things pretty quick. Until the masses descend on the servers and services, it's tough to anticipate every scenario. Hence, there's been a lot of frustration-induced hate online today.
Sure it's frustrating, but these things will be resolved and the Wii U's awesomeness will prevail. Part of being an early adopter is the risk. You hope all goes well, but if launches always went smoothly, everyone would jump in. Keep the faith - Nintendo does some crazy things, but they always seem to know best in the end.
Everyone fantasizes about their favorite passions or hobbies coming together in one glorious package that satiates the brain with everything that's good in the world. But these are fantasies, right? That sort of cosmic alignment never really happens. At least that's what we thought.
Jason Brewer of Fryza contacted me with a wild tale of a game he was working on. It was a skateboard game with a retro - think NES - feel to it. All the modern tricks of today's skate scene combined with the blocky pixels that formed my love for gaming in the late 70s. As luck would have it, he was for real and offered to tell us more about it and the kickstarter campaign for Retro Skate.
He has a unique perspective as a hardcore skater as well as a game developer - just the right combo!
Real arcades are about as hard to find as a business that supports any form of ethics. Remember the days when repair shops actually wanted to help you out by fixing your TV, appliance or stereo? These days, box-stores urge you to throw away last year's model for a spiffy new one.
We came across a local business touting it's adhesion to ethics that are long gone. Nifty Nate's Computer Repair compares their customer service to that of the 1950s. Yeah, you really have to go that far back to find any hint of ethics in business. Nifty Nate's takes that 50's spirit and applies it to solving problems for customers rather than simply selling them something they probably don't need.
What really caught our eye was one of his ad banners that offered a free tune-up if you beat the high schore on one of his in-house arcade cabinets. Forget Dave & Busters, we're going to Nate's for some Space Invaders while he cleans all the junk off our hard drive.
The modern day crooks of Wall Street and the healthcare industry are doing there best to lower standards and expectations. No one is surprised when their stock portfolio tanks or their insurer refuses to pay a claim. Getting ripped off is the new "fix". No one gets rich by putting in an honest day's work. Riches are reserved for those who hire enough lawyers to remove the need for them to do anything beneficial in return for your hard-earned dollars.
It's refreshing to see someone is still willing to be helpful in their quest to earn a living!
Who can forget NES skate classics like Skate or Die, 720° or Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage? We even liked Skateboardin' on the Atari 2600! These 8 bit wonders kept us in front of the TV on rainy days and when we were too worn out to skate.
As gaming technology progressed, Tony Hawk became synonymous with skateboard video games - we still think, Bones Brigade - and those sk8 games took on a photorealistic feel that lent itself to accurately depicting tricks. As cool as that evolution has been, Retro Gamers still love pixels and kicktail'd cruiser boards have begun showing up all over. Did the 1970s return?
Fryza is a US based mobile app development company that does a lot more than just phone-games. They have taken 2 of my favorite passions - skateboarding and retro gaming - and melded them into a game called Retro Skate. Taking the modern precision of skateboarding and the blocky pixels that formed my childhood, they have a kickstarter campaign for Retro Skate that outlines everything I'd jam into a game... if I had the skills.
Leaving no stone unturned, they are producing Retro Skate for iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, Linux, MAC, & OUYA! I'm super stoked about the upcoming Ouya and think Retro Skate would be an insanely awesome game to fire up when that little silver box arrives!
Here's a vid from their KS site that gives good incite and a great vibe about Retro Skate...
Staying on top of Retro Gaming is a daunting task. Between the numerous websites, podcasts, videos and occasional insider leaks on social media - there's a lot to keep up with. Not to mention squeezing in some time for Yar's Revenge and Asteroids... among hundreds of others.
Searching through Amazon for a historical tome on Atari, all the ones I found warned they were simply amalgamations of Wikipedia entries - nothing new, no incites from past Atari execs or developers. Disappointed I pointed my search at Google and found a Kickstarter project for an upcoming book about Atari's history. But it was long over, already meeting & surpassing it's funding goal. I jumped over to the website for the book, Atari Inc - Business Is Fun to discover it was to be published in the next few weeks. My eyes lit up!
Written by Martin Goldberg (Video game programmer and industry writer) and Curt Vendel (Entrepreneur, and IT Systems Engineer, self-taught Electrical Engineer, historian, founder and curator of the Atari History Museum), this seems to be a very different kind of book. We've all seen much of the public history and specs behind Atari.
This book promises to go behind the scenes and elicit what made Atari the great company that led video gaming into the living rooms of millions of people. With emphasis on what made Atari a fun company to work for, they reached out to numerous former Atari employees to get a look at the inside of the company that redefined fun.
I can't confirm this, but I've seen hints that Atari Inc - Business Is Fun is the first in a series of books. As I understand it, this series is broken down by chronology with later books to explore the ongoing history and experience within the walls of Sunnyvale's infamous company. It stands to reason that Atari's history can't necessarily by summed up in a single volume, so I'm hoping this book is actually the first of several.
It was slated for a Summer 2012 release, but online postings suggest they are now only weeks away from publishing. Stay in the loop and have your credit card handy - this book promises to be a uniquely different look into Atari's history and what it's like to create "fun" for a living!
The ever watchful eyes of Kotaku discovered a Japanese Cosplayer (OK, she's a porn star) who's Juliet Starling impersonation has given rise to an adult movie based on the chainsaw wielding cheerleader from San Romero HS.
Lollipop Chainsaw has been highly sexualized from the initial buzz and advertising, right down to "additional costumes". There's an unwritten law about cheerleaders who exist outside the physical world - let's just say they're rarely homely or overweight. Juliet starling was destined to be a cosplay fave and it isn't much of a stretch to imagine her character in some sort of porn movie. We're a little surprised it didn't happen sooner.
Leave it to the Japanese to come up with this one. They seem to have a knack for oddball porn concepts or perhaps we're just too dry in the US. Our concept-porn seems to take the parody route - Star Wars XXX: A Porn Parody. And for those who take the moral high ground claiming to have no interest in a Lollipop Chainsaw porno... relax and take a peek :) If nothing else it can be a research project into gaming's offshoots.
We take this as an opportunity to see how video games effect other media forms. So far we like the effect. It's a ridiculous film, but no more so than This Ain't Star Trek XXX. And we're OK with sci-fi porn when it combines Jenna Haze, Sasha Grey and Aurora Snow!
We've never heard of Tia, but we can't really complain about anyone who makes an adult film about one of our favorite game genres ;)
My son is a big fan of Moose Enterprise's Trash Pack line of toys... and I have to say I dig them too. We first discovered Squinkies, but the Trashies totally eclipse their cool-factor with trash-themed figures, vehicles, collector cards and now a Nintendo video game! These guys are really on the ball in developing this brand. What's not to like about little rubber figures named Putrid Pretzel or Moldy Milk?
If you haven't seen The King Of Kong - not the ape swatting at biplanes flick - you really must. Not to be confused with the infamous Empire State Building simian, the full title of this 2007 documentary is The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and it's available on DVD.
It's about a rivalry to obtain, and record with Twin Galaxies, the high score on Donkey Kong. Each of the 2 combatants (Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe) come from different backgrounds, yet found no kinship as they each try to claim the Donkey Kong high score. The film reached cult status in record time. In March 2011, Richie Knucklez convinced both Billy and Steve to fly to New Jersey and play head to head in what was called THE KONG OFF. It's success led to people asking when the Kong Off 2 would take place!
Hence the creation of the Kong Off 2 which will take place at The 1-Up Arcade/Bar in Denver Colorado. You may have seen the recent trend of bars adopting classic arcade games. Kids who grew up in the arcades of the 80's are well past the legal drinking age, but still love the arcade games that played such large roles in their childhood. You're never too old to play video games and several bars have stepped up to meet this retro demand. I've never seen a classic arcade gama at a Chuck E. Cheese - even though founded by Atari's Nolan Bushnell.
The 1up is a Vintage Arcade, Bar/Restaurant located in downtown Denver and features over 40 vintage arcade games, 3 lanes of Classic Skee Ball, and 15 pinball machines. It's the perfect setting for the world's greatest arcade competition. The Kong Off 2 is at The 1UP Nov 16th, 17th, and 18th.
We jokingly created the title to this post thinking that a kid's pizza arcade is the last place you'd find liquor. The idea was to compare Chuck's popularity with the trend in BarCades where bars are adding retro arcade games to attract customers. It has come to my attention that Chuck E. Cheese does in fact have some sort of liquor license. Of the several sites with parental complaints over liquor at this kid's arcade, one site stated that 70% of the Chuck E. Cheese locations serve beer and wine. Holy shit - I had no idea.
When you look at the layout of the average GameStop, I find that some stores have ample under-utilized space while other locations are closet-sized. Gaming is slowly heading the way of digital downloads and GameStop has broadened their offerings to compensate. It may be time for a larger renovation to keep pace with market changes and the dwindling economy. It would help to have standardized layouts & product exposure in every store by mandating square footage for each location.
We've see them expand to reselling used tablets and even contemplating retro game sales (retrieving GameCube and PS2 titles previously slated for the local landfill). This strategy supports both minimal inventory shrinkage (theft) and maintaining a focused product line. With the ferocious interest in mobile gaming, its not unlikely to think of a game store when contemplating a used tablet or iPad.
GameStop Kids launched in separate retail spaces (although close to existing GameStop stores) and aims to create a family-friendly game store catering to both gaming and toys (for lack of a better term). I feel they are testing the waters for boosting accessory sales while letting go of their theft deterrence mantra - nothing of value sits on the sales floor.
Being fairly singular in product offerings, GameStop keeps inventory shrinkage to a minimum since the "showroom" area is primarily comprised of empty game cases. Actual game discs are in a stockroom or behind the counter. Even accessory items like controllers, memory cards, plushies and strategy guides are displayed on or very close to the check-out counter.
You'll notice GameStop's don't use anti-theft chips or security guards - there's not much to steal. Keeping the valuable items behind the counter has long been a GameStop staple, but an anomaly among most mall-stores.
Placing varied, yet complimentary items, near one another is a well rehearsed retail strategy. Putting Light Sabers and Jedi plushies alongside Star Wars video games benefits the sale of all these items. Allowing customers to interact and touch products greatly increases the likelihood of converting interest to sales.
My belief is that GameStop is using their Kids locations as test-beds for various shrink-defying tactics while staying focused on fun & gaming. Should these Kids locations be deemed successful, it wouldn't surprise me to see GameStop locations moving into larger retail spaces and integrating the "Kids" model with their current game store scenario. Look at how Toys R Us has benefited from Babies R Us and more so when both "stores" are merged into one. I doubt GameStop will ever inhabit the square footage of most box-stores, but I'll bet part of the plan is to test different strategies and then move the successful model into larger standardized locations.
Parents delighted to let their kids roam through E and E10+ aisles may be disappointed when the stuffed animals are much closer to the gore and sex that propel the gaming industry's wider appeal.
We recently wrote a post about the peculiarities behind the release of the video game Night Trap for the Control-Vision - a VHS tape based console that never came to market. Part of the interest in the story is the availability of digital technology that one would have assumed better suited to video gaming than analog tape - why didn't they choose the superior Beta format?
There was a time in the early 90s when full motion video (FMV) was gaining momentum in gaming which led to the Control-Vision console (never released). The idea was to integrate FMV via traditional video formats, since gaming hardware wasn't up to the job of presenting realistic motion video. As a result, segments would be filmed in a traditional manner and later integrated into the video game.
Digital Pictures was a US video game developer, founded in 1991, who planned on pioneering FMV in video games. Choosing VHS as the storage/playback medium was likely an early sign of their latter demise. However, plots were designed, scripts written and footage was filmed. Before Digital Pictures began to develop for interactive CD, they had footage for several games completed - sitting around.
One such dormant game was Maximum Surge which, along with other titles, was sold to Cyber Cinema Interactive who dumped it onto DVD and re-titled it Game Over. So, Game Over is actually footage to be integrated into a FMV video game, but wound up as a stand-alone film. As a gamer, it's interesting to see this sort of flick (via DVD), since the game never came to fruition, but you can sort of see how it might have been created. Before I go farther, let it be known that this movie is awful... just dreadful.
Game Over starred Yasmine Bleeth, although the real star is Dominika Wolski as Elaine Barker, but Bleeth sported Baywatch fame among other recognizable features. It's fun to watch from the perspective of a gamer, but it's cinematic value is somewhat lesser than most straight-to-DVD releases. When a super computer is hooked into a gaming network, the programmer who designed the game has to enter the virtual reality world of his fantasies and defeat the computer before it causes worldwide catastrophe. Um... yeah, OK.
I can't say you'll enjoy this as a movie experience, but you may find it interesting as the footage is readily discernible as film and game segments. Bleeth appears in the game footage and Wolski stars in the film footage. Check it out while it's still available on DVD.
Cosplay has been all the rage for a long time from comic cons to video game promotion. Creative folks take their favorite characters and transform into them with incredible attention to detail. These characters they portray often come to us in video games and their hold over us drives creativity from art to becoming the character - if only for a brief time.
When Nintendo released the Wii Family Edition in October 2011, they scaled it back and reduced the price. Part of the lower cost involved the removal of GameCube compatibility. As the Wii was aging, certainly the GameCube titles had became outdated as well. Many console manufacturers release scaled back models to boost sales when a newer model is on the horizon. Makes sense. After 6 years on retail shelves there are probably fewer Wii-consumers who require GameCube compatibility.
Where I have a problem is with the packaging - more specifically the description. For a while the boxes were marked "Family Edition" with the inclusion of various titles depending on the promo. This was the main indicator that the unit would not play GameCube games. Lately (not sure of the exact date), the "Family Edition" labeling disappeared on Wii packaging. White models, as well as the black and the blue colored versions, lack GameCube support - yet it isn't labeled.
Perhaps Nintendo feels that the original Wii has been out of the primary sales channel long enough, to assume that all new Wii hardware is the scaled-back version lacking GameCube compatibility. Unfortunately, most retailers I've talked to don't know what "Family Edition" means and they wrongly assure me that the Wii is still GameCube compatible. Those retailers familiar with the Family Edition variants still assure me that only models stating "Family Edition" are the scaled back models. Not true!
I've wanted to get another Wii as a backup and it's particularly important that it supports GameCube. I love the GC games and the birth of the Wii was a rebirth in my interest in GameCube. I know there are still original Wii consoles out there, but the nondescript Wii packaging combined with retailer confusion makes it challenging for consumers.
The best way to tell is the orientation of the text on the console itself. The original was usually vertically oriented as were the "Power", "Reset" and "Eject" labels. On the new Family Edition models, the orientation is horizontal, as is the text labeling each button on the face of the console.
The Wii U is all the rage, but if you're in the market for the current Wii - Toys R Us has a pretty slick deal as long as you don't need GameCube compatibility!
They're offering a blue Wii console with a Skylanders Giants bundled in for free. It's the version that includes the portal and one figure. Along with that you'll qualify for a free Skylanders Giants case (regularly ~$30) for storing figures. I prefer the touret-style cases, but the one they offer for free will fit the larger Giants figures.
I've been dying to get a black Wii, but didn't want to pay the full price. I'd hoped the price would drop on the full-size model with the Wii U release so close, but... no such luck. This blue Family Edition model seems as close to a deal as I can find now - with the Free Skylanders Giants & case.
You can dress the part, be a turtle... and then there's April O'Neil.
You'll be the talk of the town when you sport this TMNT dress around the office, at happy hour or just out for a day on the town. Everyone remembers an loves the Turtles even though Michael Bay is doing his best to ruin the franchise with his latest movie which one might describe as being "loosely" based on the Heroes on a half shell. They're not from outer space, dammit!!
A TMNT dress might just add the flair you lack.
When you get serious enough to want to be a Ninja Turtle, TMNT Cosplay is the way to go.
It's not about getting your friends together for a bitchin' group Halloween costume. Being a Ninja Turtle is about passion, nunchucks and being heroic. Your average Halloween gala doesn't showcase these characteristics... and it's hard to be a TMNT at a Halloween party when some jerk, dressed as a pirate, badgers you all night for your phone number. He is likely unaware that you are more than capable & willing to crack his skull open TMNT-style!
The other issue about women's Halloween costumes is the description is usually proceeded by the wore, "Sexy". Turtles aren't sexy - they're kick-ass! Sexy costumes are fine, but seem more authentic after you do a back flip and slice someone's head off.
Becoming April O'Neil
At the higher levels of TMNT fandom are those who's career path takes them into the adult film industry and select a fitting porn star stage name in tribute to Ninja Turtles. Meet porn star April O'Neil! In addition to a passion for the Turtles and Doctor Who, she's a gamer and frequents various Cons. Gotta like a well-rounded lady who does porn and feels at home at a Sci-Fi convention.
If you read our post about the $35 Raspberry Pi CPU on a card, it is labeled by the manufacturer as an educational device. The premise is to be able to cost-effectively supply computers to kids who might not otherwise be able to afford one. Having more kids grow up with computer skills will only benefit the future job market.
But what about those of us who've already grown up and want to revel in retro gaming?
There's a kickstarter for the Picade, an arcade enclosure based around the Raspberry Pi - complete with arcade buttons and a joystick. It's not based on a tablet computer like the iCade (or Atari Duo), so it can take on other useful functions like doubling as a second monitor for your computer. Based on the Raspberry Pi, you can run Linux and do all the slick stuff capable on a moderate desktop PC when not playing games.
The benefit to the Picade is it's design as a shell around a CPU that is far more independent than any tablet OS. Thus you can load up your favoriet emulators and as many ROMs as your HD/SD card can store. The tablet-based solutions require games to support the iCade controls. An iPad doesn't know it's been shoved into a mini arcade with buttons and a joystick, it defaults to touch screen input unless the game is configured for the external controls of the iCade. The game library for the iCade is barren compared to the thousands of ROMs that can be played via emulators. The Picade simply acts as an alternate input device to control games that would ordinarily require keyboard commands.
In this scenario, the Picade becomes a mini arcade that can handle all the ROMs you already have on your PC. This seems like a much more robust and flexible mini-arcade product than the "shove in a tablet" models.
From the Picade Kickstarter site: Don't know what to do with your Raspberry Pi? Want an awesome mini arcade cabinet for your home or desk at work? Want it to double up as a second screen for your computer when not playing arcade classics? Want to build it yourself? You've come to the right place!
We're quite aware that this post has little or no retro gaming value, but aren't you pretty stoked about Deviled Egg Day... and who doesn't like Ariel Rebel and Kelly Bundy?
Ariel Rebel goes boating. Check out Ariel on Ariel Rebel Unplugged, Ariel Rebel and Zesty & Spicy. In all honesty, we're pretty amped that Adult Model, Ariel Rebel has a kick-ass cooking blog. Most ladies in her line of work are very singular in their pursuits. She's a dynamic go-getter who always seems to master another skill when you least expect it.
8 Bit Weapon is offering a compilation of their chiptunes, The 8 Bit Weapon Collection 1998-2012, featuring multiple albums, singles, remixes and rare demo tracks making this the ultimate collection for any fan new or old. Even the holiday album with Michelle's solo band ComputeHer is included in the deal!
8 Bit Weapon is Seth & Michelle Sternberger. Inspired by classic video game soundtracks and electronic music from the 70s and 80s, 8 Bit Weapon delivers a sound that is as unique as it is original.
They have performed their chip music across two continents using their arsenal of classic video game consoles and vintage computers as instruments. They have independently released 11 albums, created their own series of music software for the Apple II and have worked with Disney, Microsoft, Nokia and Sony as well as influential artists such as Kraftwerk and Information Society.
I highly recommend buying The 8 Bit Weapon Collection!
Now slated to run on Android's Jelly Bean version OS, the folks at Ouya reached a hardware milestone - receipt of the first run of production PCBs. For those of us who've collected, assembled and/or repaired a beloved arcade game in it's original cabinet, we're accustomed to enormous PCBs, often stacked 3-deep. The small size (relative to the can in the picture) looks pretty sleek and small.
It's nice to see that they take time to update their kickstarter backers. Their undertaking in creating a new gaming console is huge, so it gives me great confidence that they update us on progress. As their March delivery date looms, I get curious about progress.
They gave a shout out to their first kickstarter backer. Apparently #1 wasn't someone close to the project itself - just a believer. It would be pretty cool to hold that title as the Ouya gains momentum and grows. That kind of ground level access is pretty rare in gaming. Who wouldn't want to say they were the first one to help bring a new gaming console to market? :)
Disney's deal to buy Lucasfilm will add the Star Wars franchise to it's cavalcade of characters. Disney plans to begin rolling out Star Wars movies every 2 years. I suppose that keeping the franchise alive and expanding could be a good thing, but Disney has this way of homogenizing things. I can barely wrap my mind around the far-reaching ramifications of such a deal, but I can almost guarantee one thing...
Peter Griffin is going to have a broad new spectrum of obtuse references for which Seth MacFarlane will now be accountable to the Magic Kingdom's legal team.
I understand the appeal of the iPod, but it's not for me.
I don't need every album I own at my disposal - anytime - anywhere. I'm content to leave the house with a few old-school rap CDs, some Greenday discs or a Kiss concert and be more than content. Instant access to everything seems burdensome and I prefer to have music filling the space around me - not blaring into my head via headphones. So, I can get by with rocking-out to a few select CDs. Music is often secondary to something else I'm focused on. I'll listen to music while reading, working on my computer or driving to work.
But does this same instant access mentality, of an iPod, apply to other collections... like video games?
I certainly don't need to bring all of my Atari 2600 games when grocery shopping. Nor do I need access to the NES library while mowing the lawn. Gaming isn't about portability, for me. However, when it comes to retro gaming, the iPod metaphor (sans portability) becomes quite compelling. If I were to start a gaming session and limit myself to Berzerk and Super Mario Galaxy, I'd likely want some Yar's Revenge, Berzerk or DKC Returns too.
Gaming is a primary or focused activity where I'm not content with just a few selections to fill a void. I want exactly what I want. Despite rarely needing the portability of a GameBoy like handheld, the GPH Caanoo was the first gaming system that allowed me to wander across genres, eras and platforms much like pausing Taylor Swift in favor of some classic Metallica.
Suddenly, I was exposed to the ability to play Atari 2600 Asteroids, 7800 Food fight, Popeye for NES, Burger Time on Colecovision or Star Castle for the Vectrex. WOW! I'd always had several game consoles connected via switch-boxes, but that still meant sifting through different bins to find the SNES game I wanted or a shelf of Jaguar carts, etc... The Caanoo brought the iPod concept to a medium I understood - Retro Gaming!
Of course those who've been playing ROMs on computers are quite accustomed to this diversity of play at one's fingertips, but I'm a console gamer. Those of us who prefer consoles may be quite excited to encounter a gaming console that brings the bounty of ROMs to the living room TV.
The Caanoo being an open source linux-based device makes running emulators very simple. I loaded a few thousand ROMs onto an SD card and saw how easily I could launch into nearly any game I wanted to play. I still have no desire to get an iPod, but when applying it's access to music to instant access for retro games, I began to think even more about the Ouya!
There are scads of emulators for Android devices. The Ouya being Android-based makes the Caanoo's appeal seem possible on a large TV. Part of the Ouya's marketing outreach is to bring the ease of mobile development (as compared to game console dev) back to the TV. I'm all for it and the notion that a bountiful supply of ROMs could then be accessed with ease and displayed on an HD TV is very compelling. I love the idea of that little 'Droid box firing up any number of different console emulators for a cross platform/era gaming session.
That makes me drool with retro excitement! Go Ouya!
When using the term "train wreck" as a metaphor to a situation that's out of control, stop for a minute and think about all the elements that validate this term. Think: high speed, innocent victims, destruction and powerful force and perhaps a dab of dumb.
I remember when Night Trap came out on CD for Macintosh and the controversy surrounding it - which is likely why I bought it in the first place. However, I had no idea how peculiar the back-story was. Night Trap's evolution began on a ridiculous technology while spanning several others before it finally broke out in controversy.
Night Trap video game for Sega 32X - CD
After it's release, misinterpretation by various interest groups led to Congressional hearings by equally uniformed Congressmen who labeled Night Trap and it's genre as objectionable. But the story is far more interesting than these soap opera proceedings. This outrage occurred after it's release on a variety of platforms including: Sega Mega-CD, Sega 32X, 3DO, DOS & Mac (between October 1992 and October 1994).
As a player, it is your job to rid a home of vampire-like creatures before they kill the ensuing girls sleep-over party. Various Senators, spurred by ignorant interest groups, believed the object of the game was to kill the girls, not save them. These Congressional heroes are the folks that attempt to govern our nation. Most are complete technical novices (morons).
Night Trap's existence goes back to 1987 when it was filmed over a 3-week shoot for an FMV game for the Control-Vision game console (codenamed: NEMO)
Dana Plato Playboy pictorial
developed by Tom Zito, who founded Digital Pictures, in 1991. Night Trap starred the adorable daughter of Phillip Drummond (television's Diff'rent Strokes) Dana Plato. Her inability to transition from child-star to actress led to drugs, arrest and ultimately her early death due to an overdose. Ever desperate to shed the Dif Strokes typecasting, Dana did a pictorial for Playboy in 1989, which didn't help the status of Night Trap's controversy.
Back to the tech...
The Control-Vision's development began in 1985 in conjunction with Nolan Bushnell's company Axlon - he also founded Atari in 1972. You may not have heard of the Control-Vision console and part of the reason is it's implementation of VHS tapes as a storage and playback mechanism for Full Motion Video (FMV) games. At the time FMV was evolving into a consumer possibility since technology was moving along and video tape was well-accepted as a standard for video playback. However, the Compact Disc (CD) format had been commercially available since October 1982 which made analog storage far less appealing than digital. Stranger still was that LaserDiscs predated this as well.
Dragon's Lair on LaserDisc
Remember how popular Dragon's Lair was on the arcade scene of 1983? It was a LaserDisc-based video game published by Cinematronics, featuring animation by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth. LaserDisc as a format appeared around 1978 as a digital storage format (it's drawback being consumer LD players could not record). Most games at the time used sprites. Hardware limitations stifled the amount of possible motion due to resolution and frame rates. Dragon's Lair used the large storage capacity of laserdiscs to create better on-screen motion.
One wonders how VHS could be considered a "good" medium for video gaming. The latest generation gaming consoles all have mass storage and enough processing power to make us forget that full motion video was ever an issue. I've lived through the Betamax -vs- VHS hardware wars of the mid 1970s, the digital format of LaserDiscs a year later, the proliferation of CDs in the mid 80s and finally DVDs in 1995. With such varied storage mediums, from analog tape to digital discs, how could a FMV game begin it's life on VHS tape in 1987?
While watching a movie on your cell phone, it's hard to remember that recordable video formats were available to consumers in the late 1970s. Hearing about movie footage being shot in 1987 for a FMV game, only to be relegated to a hacked Colecovision that had been "Frankensteined" into a VHS-based gaming console (the Control-Vision) seems highly improbable - but it's the truth.
The Hasbro toy company invested in the Control-Vision, but pulled the plug in 1989 leaving a handful of FMV titles stranded until the USS Sega came into port and ported several of the titles to it's new CD-based gaming consoles. The Genesis put Sega permanently into gaming history and they became HUGE... until their CD consoles failed to deliver epic libraries of titles fans had grown accustomed to on the 8 bit Genesis.
Still, Sega was a major player and Night Trap's release on the Sega CD and 32X systems (and Mac & PC computers) put Dana Plato's sleep-over party into the living rooms of the masses. Mom and Dad were not happy. They spoke up about their woes. Suddenly, there was a manufactured outrage at video game companies who these parents (and developing interest groups) said were marketing violent sexual materials to minors. It wasn't simply Night Trap's slumber party massacre alone - Mortal Kombat, Lethal Enforcers and others fueled parental outrage that somehow became a Senate Judiciary and Government Affairs Committee hearing where many titles were lumped together as sick, disgusting and ultra-violent.
We all know that Congress can't solve any problem in less than a decade, but they can delegate problems in mere minutes. 1994 ushered in the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) who would begin to assign ratings to games in Canada and the USA. Those who enjoy the more graphic adult-appropriate video games can thank the ESRB for the letter "M" :)
1995 saw the advent of digital storage arrive in the familiar CD-looking format called DVD which held an epic quantity of game code, computer back-ups or pornography. Thankfully we haven't gone farther awry than the MPAA in regulating the content of movies.
The fascinating part of this odd tale is the overlapping of better technology combined with the Dana Plato drama and Congress feeling the need to chime in. You can't make up stuff like this!
An Easter egg: During the Night Trap credits, you can enter a code to view footage shot in Pawtucket, RI in December 1986 when Tom Zito demonstrated a prototype of the Control-Vision (NEMO) game console for a group of Hasbro execs. This may be the only live glimpse of the unit.
The Hitman series, from Danish game developer IO Interactive, began in 2000 and has spanned computers and consoles from the GameCube to PlayStation and Xbox. Traci Lords found notoriety roughly 15 years earlier in the adult industry where controversy forced retailers to suddenly yank their best-selling VHS titles from their shelves. She could easily have reverted back to "Nora" and lived a quiet life in obscurity, but she didn't. Not even close.
In 1988 a film called Not Of This Earth came to my attention, starring Traci Lords. She was back, she could act and she was still Traci Lords! This was just a year after Traci I Love You - her first adult film as a legal adult - came out on VHS and LaserDisc. In 1990, she was cast in John Water's Cry Baby and put her career on the map. She later appeared in Serial Mom, Blade and TV series First Wave. In 1995 she released an album, 1000 Fires and quickly wound up on the Billboard charts at #2 and #11. This girl plays to win.
In 2012 Traci makes her return to video game voice-over in Hitman Absolution as Layla Stockton. By "return", I mean she's been here before on a reboot of one of my all-time favorite games Defender! An arcade hit in 1980, Defender sold over 55,000 units to become Williams' best selling arcade game that went on to grace many home gaming consoles. In 2002 Defender - Saving the Human Race came to GameCube and PS2 with Traci Lords voicing Commander Kyoto.
Whether she's Layla Stockton, Commander Kyoto, Jordan Radcliffe or Rikki Abbott... we dig Traci Lords!
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized (measures 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm) ARM GNU/Linux computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It's the minimal of Minimalist. Aside from being small, the purpose is to be inexpensive. They estimate it to sell for ~$35. That's pretty cheap!
At that price every kid on the planet (yeah, this planet) could have a computer. Wow, that could make a tremendous difference in the kinds of student we ultimately unleash on the workforce.
When you purchase a Raspberry Pi you get the Raspberry Pi Board itself. A power supply or SD cards are not included but can be purchased from the authorized distributors. You will be able to buy preloaded SD cards too. There are 2 models to choose from: Model A has 256Mb RAM, one USB port and no Ethernet connection. Model B has 512Mb RAM, 2 USB port and an Ethernet port.
Performance-wise, it's graphics capabilities are roughly equivalent to the first Xbox. Compared to a conventional computer, it runs similar to a 300MHz Pentium 2, with much, better graphics. It must boot from the SD card, but a USB HD can "take over" after the initial boot. You cannot boot without an SD card.
Having marked October 21, 2012 on my calendar, I knew a trip to Toys R Us was at the top of my agenda this past Sunday. Our local TRU opened at 8:00am. While I was peacefully slumbering, kids were ransacking the festive Skylanders Giants store display as they snatched up new Giants figures, game packs and accessories.
Well rested, I rolled in around 10:30 delighted to find that the shelves had not been stripped bare. In fact TRU seemed to have ample stock to keep the shelves full at least until lunchtime rolled around. They were out of the Portal Owners pack for Wii, but I was able to get all the available figures and a few accessories.
I was particularly impressed with the Battle Arena and dog tags.
When my son & I play Skylanders, we each have a character on the portal and a mass of figures-in-waiting scattered all over the table. This simple plastic add-on has a spot in the middle for the Portal and 16 figures can chill out around the edge. Good organization!
Element symbols and platform light up for ultra cool Skylanders fun. Stage and display an army of Skylanders ready to put in to the action.
Features a power cords pass through for the Portal of Power.
Lately I've been buying Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space dog tags. Each one has various bird & pig images on metal dog tags with a short neck chain. I was pretty stocked to find similar foil packs for the Skylanders Giants!
Some of the images appearing on the Skylanders Giants dog tags.
Each platform also has branded Skylanders Giants controllers.
I didn't see any of these at Toys R Us, but Topps is making Skylanders Giants trading cards that come in foil packs.
On a later trip to Toys R Us I found these combo boses of Skylanders Giants trading cards and dog tags for $17.95.
Skylanders Giants trading cards and dog tags single box.
The term "Gamer Girls" likely spawned from some marketing executive's discovery that gaming was being enjoyed outside the male teenager demographic. As women have become more prominent in gaming contests, expos and sales statistics, they've also become a topic of speculative journalism seeking to find a new focus to report on.
Female celebrities who mention an interest in video games suddenly gives the mainstream journalist a new angle. "She" not only stars in a blockbuster film, she plays video games. Wow! (insert sarcasm). Too many of these stories are rooted in 3 hours of Super Mario at a sleep-over party. There are so many real gamer girls out there... why can't journalists find them?
When you mix in nudity, their visibility skyrockets! Girls who game (in the eyes of newsmakers) are suddenly much more interesting when accompanied by nude photos. Meet Pamela Horton, Playboy's October Playmate. She not only touts herself as a hardcore gamer, she wants to get into the gaming industry as a character designer! From print, podcasts and videos, everyone wants to interview Pam.
Let's be clear - we'd love to interview her too, but we lack the necessary connections to do Playmate interviews even if we relegate our agenda to asking her high score on Joust and Dig Dug. Oh wait - she was born in 1988.
Rumor has it she's a die-hard World of Warcraft fan, plays a lot of League of Legends, and recently put 38 hours into beating Final Fantasy XIII-2. Gotta like a gal with those stats and her gaming accomplishments are far more telling than the traditional "measurements". Her background in art could be a good entry point into the gaming industry.
So why don't we hear more about engaging gamers like Pam Horton? Ignoring that she has a lucrative gig being naked, her interviews lead us to believe she's the real deal - a hardcore gamer! We can think of several others, but all the "news" one reads makes female gamers seem like some elusive species. In this day and age, everyone (OK, most everyone) games. Finding interesting gamers - topless or otherwise - shouldn't be too difficult.
The next obvious step is introducing Retro Gaming to tykes like Pam who were born just as arcades were falling from grace. Women of her generation need to be exposed to vintage Atari, Stern Konami and Centuri among others and the myriad of home console games they spawned. Over here at 8-Bit Central, we feel that even the most ardent Xbox supporter could benefit from gaming's history in the form of playing the games that enabled a following from which Xbox derives it's audience :)
Digital Playground contract girl, Stoya is an avid sci-fi reader with preferences leaning toward William Gibson and Anne McCaffrey. Her Twitter posts showcase her smarts and she recently said she wished she had more time to play Sid Meier's Civilization.
I have no idea what Spocktoberfest might be, but put me on the attendee list ;)
By coincidence I was at Toys R US yesterday looking for more Trash Pack toys for my son. As always, I quickly scanned the video game area for any signs of Skylanders Giants. There was a partially assembled Wii U display awaiting a console to be sequestered inside a damage-proof plastic bubble. But no sign of Skylanders Giants.
When I arrived at 10am this morning, it was quite a different story. The entrance, where they have large promotional displays, was decked out in enough Skylanders Giants promos to keep a marketing department well-employed. Off in the corner, the video game area was stocked with Giants, but the entrance display was the place to be!
The video game aisle was stocked with Giants and regular Skylanders figures and accessories. The blue former packaging has been replaced with and orange theme to distinguish the Giants figures. Just the day before the shelves looked pretty barren of even the first series figures. Oh what a day makes!
Last year's demo station had a new Skylanders Giants marquee. I still love dropping packaged figures on it to see the intro info!
The entrance display was a 4 panel area of figures, games for each platform, accessories and more figures.
The left pannel of the entrance display had some original figures and Giants. From the first series, Toys R Us put out some of the harder to find figures. Cool!
The center pannel of the entrance display had the game variants for all the platforms. They were sold out of the Portal Owner version for Wii. Who says Nintendo isn't King? ;)
The right pannel of the entrance display had Skylanders Giants accessories from backpacks and branded controllers to storage cases and trinkets.
This side-corner panel displayed more figures. Toys R Us had at least one exclusive figure.
I opted for a shopping basket, but there was one guy who was manically dumping Skylanders Giants figures and accessories into a shopping cart.
Going off to school today seems to require a computer - preferably a laptop. It affords easy note-taking in class and is an indispensable research tool, to the dismay of your school's Head Librarian. College in my day was no different - the "laptop" was just a tad bigger. And the printer cable was of the "ribbon" variety.
I wish I still had it, but it was too bulky to continue with the various housing moves I made along the line. I made a stupid decision and got rid of it. Damn! But prior to it's dismissal, I was the king of high tech at school when it became known I had my own computer. Today, this is the sort of computer that might be sought out by a museum, not someone trying to churn out a research paper the night before it's due.
Dual disk drives allowed the programs to run on Drive A and save documents to Drive B.
Today it feels odd to spell disk with a "K".
Most airlines won't allow something this big as a carry-on item! But this was considered a portable computer in the late 80s.
Upon further investigation as to why I'd never heard of the Super Hit Pak cart for the Atari 2600, it turns out it was an Australian release with HES around 1995. Seems they were trying to eek out a little more bang-for-the-buck with a multi-game cart a few years after the 2600 was officially decommissioned in January 1992.
Among HES' 2600 offerings were: Challenge, Hot Action Pack, Mega Funpack, Pigs N' Wolf, Rad Action Pack, Smash Hit Pack, Sports Action Pack, Star Warrior, Super Action Pack, Super Hit Pack and Wall Defender.
The Activision cartridge showing the 5 games contained on this one cart: River Raid, Grand Prix, Fishing Derby, Sky Jinks and Checkers. In the same vein, HES released Smash Hit Pak, a 5-in-1 cartridge containing: Frogger, Stampede, Seaquest, Boxing and Skiing.
Moving on to Super Hit Racks...
Wow, how time flies! Last I knew, Megan Fox was bent over fixing Sam Witwicky's beater Camaro a few scenes before Mr. Witwicky was cursing giant robots for trashing his front lawn. Now she's popping out kids with Brian Austin Greene.
Um... isn't he the dancey-dance nerd from the original Beverly Hills 90210? I hope Brandon & Steve appreciate the irony of David being paired with Tori Spelling, in the 90s, when Jenny Garth and Shannen Doherty were the obvious hotties and now he's "with" Megan Fox.
When exploring the history of gaming, digital archeologists (if there is such a profession) typically unearth dusty relics from long dormant warehouses as well as attics and basements around the world. Arcade cabinets and home gaming consoles are rescued from these undesirable locations with enough regularity to fuel a vibrant retro gaming community. Along with these treasures come marquees, PCBs, game cartridges and promotional items from flyers to service manuals. Many wind up at flea markets and yard sales, but gaming's rich history exists in these places mainly in final physical form. What about all the development tools, drawings and concepts that predate releases to the public? How many flea markets sell arcade schematics or concept art? Hmmm... none?
As casual gamers or hardened retro fanatics, we sometimes forget the development process that ensued for months or years prior to our dropping quarters into coin-slots or nestling a cart into an Atari 2600. I'm sure there are troves of CAD schematics and concept art for every arcade cabinet I've ever professed my love for.
Many of these industrial and artistic pieces show the great detail that went into perfecting the general shape and size of an arcade cabinet based on game mechanics and number of players. When arcades fell into decline, Atari was very interested in delivering cabinets that allowed 2 players to comfortably play at a single cabinet. Great care was taken in determining everything from sizing & dimensions, the best angle for the video display and positioning of the speaker(s). A lot of preliminary planning and design went into getting optimal specifications.
Many of us have fond memories of Atari arcade games from childhood and all the fun they provided. I hadn't thought too much about it, but would Asteroids have been as amazing if the monitor were improperly angled and caught glare from ceiling lights? Or what if the control panel was too high for you to comfortably play?
A lot of physical factors go into the overall enjoyment of an arcade game that have little to do with the actual game play. I'm sure the diversity between uprights and cocktail designs played a role in a title's success or failure. Cocktail configs always had room for a slice of pizza and a soda :)
The goal of ICHEG is to preserve these Atari drawings and mechanicals for historical reference and public display. An exhibit is planned for 2013 at the Boardwalk Arcade exhibit at the National Museum of Play.
Situated at The Strong, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games collects, studies, and interprets video games and other electronic games and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other. At 37,000 items and growing, ICHEG holds the largest and most comprehensive public collection of its kind in the United States and one of the largest in the world.
Proving that gamers are gamers whether they are into pixels or boards, I was tipped off to this Atari goodness by Kim at The Game Aisle who develops, reviews and craves board games. Check out her site and expand your gaming horizons :)
I love reading articles in which Hooters claims to be a family restaurant. What better dining getaway for the whole family - bring the kids too - than a roomful of scantily clad waitresses with big smiles? I wonder if their next leap to establish themselves as a family restaurant will the addition of stripper poles at each table. No offense to the women who work there - the tips must be great - but lets not pretend that the wives are begging their husbands to take them out to Hooters :)
There are some games and franchises that seem to have been around since time began and still manage to bring out new games that top the sales charts. Each console seems to have its own mascot of success. Some of the longest running franchises that are still around today are some of the most popular games to date, such as Mario who started his quest actually in the Donkey Kong in 1981 and then continued on to become the mascot of Nintendo and has appeared in over 200 games!
Mario's main form is in the platformer series "Super Mario", the first was released in 1985 and the franchise has sold 275.73 million copies, not doing too bad the little plumber. So people have been playing Mario on over 14 different platforms in over 200 different games, so what makes him so popular? Well perhaps it's because you can do pretty much anything you want with Mario, from driving go carts, beating up Kirby, or chomping on mushrooms, Mario can do it all.
The Mario series is still going strong we have just had Mario Kart 7, Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Bros 2 come out for the Nintendo 3DS, and the future is bright for the moustache wearing hero, with the Nintendo Wii U on the horizon and the release of New Super Mario Bros U, I believe we will be seeing Mario for years to come.
The Legend of Zelda is one of my personal favourite, the series is a fantasy adventure game once again developed by Nintendo, and focuses on the primary character of Link whose usual task is seeing to the rescue of princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf. There have been 18 Zelda releases a couple of my favourites were Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask on the N64.
A feature that has made the Zelda series so popular is the complex puzzle scenarios in the dungeons that create a refreshing and unique experience in every game. The music is also another fond memory of mine, Koji Kondo has been a composer for the Zelda franchise since day 1 and can still compose that perfect piece for that frustrating puzzle.
The Nintendo Wii U will see Princess Zelda stolen again, although this time it will all be in stunning HD on Nintendo's latest console. We know little of the next Zelda game, it has not yet been officially announced but I am sure we will be seeing link again and again.
Now for a game that isn't one of the Nintendo giants but was in fact the face of Sega, (and maybe still is), Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic the Hedgehog first appeared on the Sega Mega Drive in 1991, and was Sega's attempt to compete with the growing Mario. He has sold more than 80 million copies of his series and was one of the first non Nintendo characters to walk in the hall of games alongside Mario and Link.
Unfortunately for Sonic he has received a lot of stick over recent years, with endless rereleases of the original games onto different platforms that fall short of the classic experience that gamers loved so much on the Sega Mega Drive, I don't expect to see sonic games around for much longer and perhaps will only be released as downloads for Xbox live and other such services.
Final Fantasy developed by Square Enix has been around since 1987 and is still a very popular series today; originally they were only released on the NES and introduced tons of RPG concepts that we are so familiar with today. The Final Fantasy series is now up to Final Fantasy XIV and the Japanese fan base for the games in still huge, it has had a number of anime series produced and also some spin off games such as Kingdom of Hearts.
The Newest game, Final Fantasy XV of course, has been behind closed doors for some time and speculation suggest that the series will be returning to the Nintendo platform that it moved away from in 2001, with the main series of the game being release on Sony's PlayStation 2. Final Fantasy still has a huge fan base and who knows just how many Final Fantasy games we could get? Final Fantasy XXXX?
The Nintendo Wii U seems to be a redeeming feature of most of these classic franchises and I am very much looking forward to seeing them in HD and with the use of the Wii U game pad just how different can they make these aging franchises?
Author Bio: Matt Robinson is a game-nut for the most part, and sometimes finds time to be a father and a husband. In between these jobs, he can occasionally be found working at Console Deals.
The mancave has become this elusive room in one's home where men can be men. Far from the ridicule and complaints of wives who don't play video games, read comics or watch pornography is a mystical place where it's OK to delve into your best kept secrets.
We can't all have the stately luxuries of some retro gaming Mancaves, but there are a few essentials, keeping in mind that outfitting a proper mancave is no cheap affair. You certainly didn't take on that big mortgage so you could seclude yourself in the basement with your worldly goods and pipes that leak onto a cement floor. Hell no!
Unleash your inner interior decorator who knows just how to hang a poster so the tape doesn't show and always answers, "Tits" when decision points are fickle. Stop by the Wall Girls website and see what decorating wonders await the walls of your divorce-to-be mancave when that inner decorator again declares, Tits!
Gigantic flatscreen TV
Music & video media center
CD & DVD collection
Kitchenette w/ microwave oven
Refrigerator full of beer
Bar - well stocked
Seating for 6
Kick-ass fish tank
Outside entrance for guests
and Pizza Delivery Guy
Once you've perfected the look and feel of your escape-arium, begin adding the crude effects that have long been banished from your living room, bedroom and office. If you do it right, you'll wonder why you bother going into any other room in the house. Eventually you may wonder why you haven't seen your wife in weeks nor heard the washing machine running. Be sure to invite your attorney over to take part in the celebration that is - the ManCave!
The 80's were a magical time full of insane arcades, video game console wars and music that still reminds me of all the crazy things we did in that awesome decade. Then there were the zines. Hundreds of them. Zines covered every topic from the myriad of punk rock bands to skateboarding and random insanity. Self publishing yearnings and Xerox machines made zines a cut & paste (with actual scissors) tribute to any topic the mind could dredge up.
I remember kids selling cheat-code zines in local arcades. Crazy times. But where did all the crazy go? Did all those self-publishers grow up and get real jobs or something? Desktop publishing, which long ago gave way to desktop video, fueled by Quark and PageMaker kept readers in the know about everything that was underground. Finding a good zine (or any zine) these days is rare. A few brave souls who understand the power of print and the reward of seeing one's creativity influence others, march on.
Check out Hold Reset, a retro gaming zine written, compiled and published by members of the Queen City Retro Fun Club, based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This is the first issue and is dedicated to the greatness of the NES, its outstanding library of games and the impact and influence it has had throughout the development of the video game medium.
Whether you keep a stash of reading material next to your toilet or take the morning paper into the bathroom, the digital age is upon us. At some point you may have to break down and read your favorite magazine or newspaper on a tablet.
Despite the onset of everything going digital, its simply a matter of time before you are balancing some sort of electrical device on your lap as you "do you business" as they say in polite circles; circles I don't socialize in since I'm more prone to be "taking a shit".
Dropping a $70 Kindle into the bowl would be bad. Seeing that fancy new smart phone, or worse still your iPad, take that fall would be fiscally devastating. None the less, reading in the bathroom is likely to remain popular even as the publishing world races to stay ahead of the curve. You must as well and the folks at Rocketfish have created the PadPivot Go Anywhere Stand just for you.
Through its SureGrip nano suction technology, PadPivot "aggressively adheres to glossy surfaces". PadPivot's uses also extend beyond the bathroom. It can also help you follow recipes while cooking, bring up chords while fumbling with your guitar, or video chat as you do cartwheels around the room.
This iPad Accessory Takes the Throne. It's time to upgrade that warped copy of The Darwin Awards you keep by the can with PadPivot, the mobile device stand that lends hands-free support to your iPad, e-reader, tablet, or smartphone.
I'm a bit of a news junkie and enjoy a variety of news sources from mainstream mass media and local / indy newspapers to niche outlets that specialize in a particular topic. Each have compelling info from their own unique perspectives. However, I must say I grow weary of hearing mass-media journalists jumping on the idea that slowing sales in console gaming is quickly leading to the end of gaming consoles.
Just today I read an article that stated there is now no need to purchase a Sony PS3 because of the proliferation of mobile gaming! WTF! These alleged journalists seem to think a 4" screen on a smartphone is preferable to a 60" flatscreen TV - and that's before we even look at storage and processing power. These stories are rampant in mass-media, but rarely appear in the niche gaming news arenas - where people really know about things.
Do these journalists think the automobile industry is threatened by the lesser cost-of-ownership of a bicycle? Perhaps the book publishing industry is suffering because Ikea is not producing enough bookshelf units. They seem like lemmings jumping on a popular (if misguided) idea and struggling to make new news of it under their own byline.
There are factors both inside and outside the gaming industry that are causing sales to drop. Everything works in cycles. Popularity waxes and wanes for nearly every product on the market. Game consoles and smart phones are no different.
Gaming and smart phone origins
Gaming took off in the late 70s and has gone through a number of iterations (generations) caused by various consumer, economic and technical facets. Combining communication and computing began to emerge around the same time, but the smartphone we all herald today didn't begin to take hold until ~1997 preceded by PDAs (an abysmal concept) a few years earlier.
We've seen gaming evolve over the last 4 decades and gamers have a historical perspective of the causes. By comparison, smart phones have been around less than 2 decades (some would argue that "smart" didn't occur until the iPhone & Android handsets arrived: 2007), yet their sophistication has skyrocketed. As time marches on, we're likely to see innovations hit the marketplace with increasing speed. No wonder people are swarming toward smart phones - they're the new hip gadget. ...which is part of the cycle.
The world is currently in a financial crisis. In the US jobs are scarce, unemployment high and the general feeling of well-being at an all time low. Must-have items have been moved to the "luxury" category and most of us are trying to maintain lower standards with far less financial stability. Probably not the time most of us would be thinking of dropping $250+ on a gaming console. No to mention most new games are priced at $50 - $60.
This combination is going to lead to a slump in sales. Lets also consider the console lifecycle. The big three (Wii, PS3 & Xbox) are about six years old and have not dropped significantly in price. Who wants to pay full price for a 6-year old game console that may become obsolete in a year or so?
Nintendo has a great track record of backward compatibility, but Sony has laid down the law that new consoles will not play a prior system's games. Usually toward the end of a console's lifecycle, prices take a tumble and stimulate new sales as a replacement (bigger & better) comes to market. Not at the moment. The Wii U is the only console with a release date. Still wondering why folks are staving off a $250+ purchase in favor of free games on their phone?
Smart phone allure
Car breaks down
Late for a meeting
On the road traveling
Stuck in traffic
These are all good reasons to have a cell phone rather than a game console. I love gaming, but playing Call Of Duty won't summon a tow truck. When I leave the house I'm grabbing my keys, wallet and phone - probably leaving the Wii in the living room. Smart phones have taken on a role of a must-have item, for many of us, as the systems and apps have become more integrated into our daily lives.
But have you ever priced a smart phone without a multi-year contract? Go talk to a sales rep. Most of those $99 phones are twice the price of a PS3 if you don't take on a contract with the service provider! Most of the phones on the market are poorly designed and usually have significant "issues" after about 2 years by which time most of their features are outdated or obsolete anyway. Still, a cell phone can be a life saver in emergencies and provide a lot of utility via apps.
Big expensive TVs
So, we've gone from big TVs to wide screen TVs to HD TVs and now we're supposed to scrap them for 3D TVs with ill-fitting glasses to make rudimentary elements jut outward in a primitive 3D illusion. Oh yeah, you also need to have apps on your TV too. Why get off your ass to update Facebook when you can do it during a commercial break?
Whatever your reason for buying a big TV, it cost a lot of money. If you're a gamer, isn't this where you want to play games - on the big expensive TV? Angry Birds is fun when you're waiting at the DMV, but if I'm at home I want my Atari cravings satisfied on that big screen, not iOS. I'll play mobile Asteroids while waiting in the dentist's reception area.
Mobile games are fun, but are a very different product than console games. People may favor one over the other for a variety of reasons, but I think most of us would agree that a big screen TV is the best way to play. And what about the folks at Ouya? They're taking the ease and excitement around mobile game development and aiming it back at the living room TV. Yay!
Won't digital delivery be cheaper?
We're starting to hear a lot about digital delivery - doing away with expensive packaging and distribution costs. Game consoles connect easily to home routers and can download gaming content. I'm not sure how long it would take to transfer a 7GB game, but if the cost dropped from $60 to $35, do you really think you're going to get the same game via download?
Removing the retail costs would save manufacturers a lot of money, but not so much that games would actually be affordable. We also need to factor-in corporate greed. You'll download a game at a good price and discover that you can only play one character in four levels. Don't worry - you can buy more characters and levels. In fact, levels and additional characters are cheap - only $2.99 each. That sounds reasonable until you decide you really want all 240 levels and 35 characters. I won't bore you with the math ($822.25 plus tax), but you'll likely spend a lot more than $60 to get what's "in the box" today. That isn't to say $60 is a bargain, but don't think you'll be paying less with a different delivery model.
Back to our mass-media journalists...
So, I hope aspiring journalists will come to recognize that cycles exist everywhere and will always cause sways in the norm whether it's the cost of a video game or popularity of canned vegetables. Cycles move constantly in an ever changing world.
As a news junkie I know the importance of always seeking different sources and weighing what they all have to say. Surprisingly, I haven't delved into the newsworthiness of Naked News, but I am seeing the benefits of reading smaller indy news sites.
An interesting trend - bars opening with arcade themes... and retro arcade cabinets. I'm much more apt to go to a bar in which I can chat up the cute girl racking up a high score on Centipede :)
News is good. Just beware the hype!
It's hard not to get hooked on Ariel Rebel. She's smart funny and amazingly personable on her social media accounts, blog and official website. She has a passion for the "Do It Yourself" spirit and has championed PhotoShop, photography, nudity and now culinary prowess on Zesty & Spicy. We wish she'd do more gaming photo shoots ;)
Adult starlet and award winning solo-girl Ariel Rebel has launched her flair for creativity into a cooking blog. Not the first thing one would expect from one of the leading "girls on the web", but she does everything full-on with no compromise. From random nakedness to delicious recipes... she's just a super chick!
We won't allege Ariel is a hardcore gamer, but she mentions gaming on her Twitter feed and has done a few Gaming photo shoots like this Atari Flashback one.
Samantha Fox was an English dance-pop singer, actress, and former glamour model. In 1983, at age of 16, she began her modeling career on Page Three of The Sun, and went on to become a popular pin-up girl. In 1986, she launched her pop music career with her debut single "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)", which became a Number 1 hit in 17 countries. She has since sold over 30 million albums worldwide and has also appeared in a number of films and TV shows.
You never know where a career will take you. Pop star Samantha Fox had a string of hit albums, made the cover of several adult magazines and stared (or stripped) in this Commodore 64 Strip Poker game.
Just a few of Samantha Fox's pop music album covers.
With prime-time television commercials riddled with dick-pill advertising, it's nice to see someone targeting a far greater cause - Male Spice Loss. I have to admit I gravitate toward chips when traipsing the snack aisle. There's something about a long stick of dehydrated meat that doesn't always register positively in my brain. However, I can assure you that biting into said stick does release a wave of goodness throughout my conscious being.
Most "chips" are not game compliant as they leave my hands with various residues that don't bode well when these gritty substances invade my joysticks and controllers. Whether I'm awaiting my turn while Player-2 battles onslaughts of aliens or I'm briefly hiding from the Qotile in the Neutral Zone, I want to be able to snag a quick hand-to-mouth snack that won't soil my joystick. Slim Jims leave me spiced and ready to game without contaminating my gaming accessories with detritus or unknown sticky crap.
An article in Today's New York Times fleshed out the plight of the spice-deprived and gave mention to how the Slim Jim folks are engaging gamers with the help of Electronic Arts (EA Games). Codes inside Slim Jim wrappers can be inputed to win content and prizes.
Excerpt from the NYT: The Slim Jim Web site cautions men to keep on the lookout for signs of "male spice loss," the implication being that men who stop eating the snacks as they grow older are gradually emasculated. A series of television commercials introduced last year feature, in the parlance of the ads, a manbulance whose crew responds to manmergencies, or situations deemed gravely unmanly.
Now Slim Jim is taking its manly message to that bastion of boyhood: video games. Among the young men to whom Slim Jim primarily is pitched, 71 percent either own or play video games, and more than half play video games for more than six hours a week, according to the brand. Video games are even more relevant to those young men than sports, music, and movies, according to Mr. Marple.
A new advertising campaign that will be introduced Monday highlights a promotional partnership between Slim Jim and Electronic Arts, the video game publisher. Jonathan Byrne, an associate creative director at Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, which is creating the campaign, said the ads are intended to balance promoting manliness with hanging on to the joys of boyhood.
"It's not just about manliness, it's also bucking responsibility," Mr. Byrne said of the ads. "Avoiding the growing-up thing is a big part of it."
A new commercial opens with a man in a hospital bed clumsily pushing buttons of a game console. A voice-over asks, "Feeling shame and embarrassment from your sudden loss of video game dexterity?"
Dozens of Slim Jims tumble from a chute onto the chest of the gamer, who is assured that the products are "packed full of important brolectrolytes gamers need and they also come with a code that unlocks in-game content from the latest E.A. games."
Countless times I've had to wipe orange snack-dust off a joystick, all the while wondering if my desire for a cheese-like snack justified the necessary post-game joystick wipe-down. Had I simply tossed a bucket of Slim Jims on the table, I'd have been nourished and sanitary.
Check out the Slim Jim website. They've done a nice job of creating an amusing and engaging site that is eminently better than most brand-oriented sites.
I'm not terribly alert at 7:00am. I'm usually awake, but still in that state of denial that it may really be time to get out of bed. This concept was a double edged sword this morning when I got an email from Retro folks at City Rampage, with a subject line that read, "Retro City Rampage: OUT NOW!"
That news is absolutely reason enough to get out of bed and see if my Wii will be able to connect to my router with anything resembling speed. But I was still in bed, so I read a little further before committing my self to really being awake and in any condition to begin facing the world. I'm glad I read more because I really wasn't ready to face anything, except my Wii. As it turns out, Retro City Rampage was out for PC, PS3 & Vita. That's swell and I've heard amazing things about this game - from reviews, to several awards.
Dammit - I want it on WiiWare. All in all, I would have been pissed if it had been out for Wii since I just downloaded Zombie Panic in Wonderland and would be a few hundred points short of being able to snag a copy of Retro City Rampage. I went back to sleep... wishing this awesome sounding game would appear for WiiWare.
In their quest to present babes in every conceivable category, Maxim Magazine has a wide variety of slots to fill. Gamer girls, girls in sports jerseys, ramdom bikinis, semi-celebrities in thongs, cuties you may have seen on TV, etc... The list is endless.
The image below appeared in my email as shown. No text - just the image and a link to the Facebook page for the Spy Hunter release.
I'm all for Spy Hunter and I'm glad it's available - great franchise - but I really want it on a console, not handheld. I'm sure it will migrate to consoles if it does well on the Vita and 3DS. But I'm still perplexed as to why Maxim sent this to me. (Yes, I'm aware they appropriated my addy from the Gamer Girl contest and I'm sure there's a per-click contract on someone's desk.) It seems like a line of text would have been helpful. At least let people know they can enter to win a PS Vita.
If you don't think Romney can be an effective President, what do you do if he's elected? Leave the country!
Jet Blue is capitalizing on this notion by letting you cast a vote for either candidate. If your choice loses the election, you'll be entered into a contest for a free flight out of (and back - just in case) the country to any Jet Blue destination.
What a great concept. I've always thought Australia would be my preferred destination to escape to should the US economy come much closer to circling the drain. Despite my patriotism, having Romney in office would certainly trigger my urge to run away. Realistically speaking, I couldn't really do that - which is likely why Jet Blue is offering the winner a roundtrip ticket.
With this in mind, I can't help thinking how much it would ease my pain, should Romney somehow get elected, if GameStop were to give me a free Wii U. Hmmm... Perhaps the Texan management team at GameStop could put together a similar contest.
After all, we can't buy new gaming consoles if we leave the country to escape the Romn-opoly of our already weak economy.
Gotta get the vote out and a Free Wii U might be just the motivator ;)
If you follow the path of the Flashback series of Atari consoles (made by various manufacturers and often licensed from Atari), the number of built-in games increases, yet the classic favorites are often duplicated. One might think that after a few releases of these contraptions, you might "own" a significant portion of the Atari library. But no, you will not.
The 4th version is coming in November, as part of Atari's 40th anniversary, with 75 included games and wireless controllers. Let's take a quick glance at it's predecessors...
The first Flashback came out for the 2004 holiday season and looked much like the Atari 7800 - especially the controllers - and even contained several 7800 titles, including a favorite of ours, Food Fight. 20 games were built-in and accessible via a menu system.
However, all the games, both 2600 & 7800, were ports from the originals since the innards were actually the "NES on a chip" which meant none of the original code would run natively - it had to be ported. These games often looked similar, but there were differences that irked the true Atari fans.
Doubling the included games to 40, the Atari Flashback 2 arrived next Christmas in 2005. This time out, it resembled a smaller-scale 2600 console from which most of it's games were culled. Interestingly, a few of the games were homebrews that had been released after the 2600's life cycle. They even negotiated rights for Pitfall! and River Raid by Activision. It's guts were the original circuitry of the 2600 all on one chip. This allowed the original code to run without emulation or porting.
The games were broken into 4 categories and suffered the oddity of having to hit the power button (reboot) to switch to another game.
In January (so much for the Christmas season) 2010 the Flashback 2+ was released and was very similar to it's predecessor. The game lineup was similar with the exception of removed Activision titles and an added group of sports games. Atari never excelled at sports titles.
Again a year passed and the Flashback 3 came out in the Fall of 2011 with 60 built-in games. Atari licensed Legacy Engineering's Flashback console & name to AtGames. The Flashback 3 goes back to emulation that runs on an ARM-based processor instead of Legacy's "2600-on-a-chip" found in the FB2 series. one nice facet is that the original Joystick and paddle controllers for the 2600 will work on the FB3.
Reboots of classic retro games seem to come in 3 flavors.
Some borrow the original title, and perhaps the name of the main character, then churn out a game in the hopes of cashing in on name recognition.
Others carefully examine the original game and dutifully bring it's excitement, playability and fun to modern hardware allowing new technology to enhance the original.
Other times the re-boot concept intersects with Sherman & Mr. Peabody who take a new game into the WABAC Machine for an 8-bit retrograde.
We could rain down love & hate on the various attempts at making old games better, but we're currently much more interested in new games that have met the 8-bit mallet to have their anti-aliasing sheered off into pixelated delights. Halo on the Atari 2600, for example.
This isn't new news by any means. Halo 2600 (a Halo 2600 cart was even produced) was created in 2010 by Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP, who was involved in Microsoft's acquisition of Bungie. After reading Racing The Beam (great book, btw) he became interested in fiddling with the 6502 assembler language. Sometimes being limited offers a unique challenge - think about writing a novel with a third of the letter keys absent from your keyboard ;)
The result was a scaled back version of Halo. Take that Xbox!!
It was released at the 2010 CGE and the ROM can be downloaded or you can play it online. The point is: Halo exists for the Atari 2600 and we think that's insanely cool. For one, it's a modern game with an immense following. And it was scaled down and taken back 30 years to be played on the console that really led gaming into the mainstream.
Halo for Nintendo NES
Have you been to the 72-pins website? If not, head over and see how their unique blend of modern game titles and 8-bit art collide in these awesome retro carts with the latest PS3 and Xbox titles.
The best part of this art project is that the "canvas" is a real NES cartridge. It may say Dead Island or Halo on the artwork, but the carts are all functioning NES games. Order up a few and stuff em in your NES to see what classic titles lurk inside!
When one speaks of gamer girls, the sky's the limit. Some are hardcore geeks that will savage you in online co-op while others have fond memories of childhood's filled with Super Mario. As wonderful as this is, we love to see gamer girls go retro!
Ariel Rebel & Andi Pink go head-to-head in 2-player mode on an Atari Flashback.
Fake LV goes true-retro with an Atari 2600.
Another benefactor of the Just Dance seires of video games.