Classic Video Game Blog of Rants, Raves, News and Info

8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Second Quarter 2014 - April May June

Check out the retro gaming info, odd relics, insane homebrews, and the perverse conclusions we've drawn in 2014!

June 2014 Retro Gaming Articles:

June 28, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'm taking a few weeks off for Summer vacation with my son

The thing I love most about retro gaming is sharing it with my son. Our retro gaming began years ago with Dig Dug and has expanded across many consoles, local arcades, and the quest for fun. I encounter a lot of parents who don't really seem to bond with their kids. I feel very fortunate to have a kid who wants to hang out with me.

I've always thought the best thing I can give him is my time. It also occurs to me that providing endless video games is a good perk too. :)

So, we're off for a few weeks of insane fun. Hope you all enjoy the time as well!!
June 25, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Super Smash Bros looks awesome, but I really want a new set of GameCube controllers

GameCube Controller  Super Smash Bros. Edition It feels like we're on the cusp of some great titles coming to market for the Wii U and giving it enough momentum to entice buyers. Mario Kart 8 has done wonders for Wii U sales and Smash Bros feels like it too will create another significant boost in sales. The marketing is so strong it's even offering a unique controller that GameCube fans will remember.

Titled as the GameCube Controller - Super Smash Bros. Edition, you can see it looks identical to the beloved-by-many GameCube controller. Fueling it's authenticity and GC compatibility is the adapter that Nintendo says it needs to interface with the Wii U. If if wasn't GC compatible, why bother with an adapter - right?

The GameCube Controller - Super Smash Bros. Edition on Amazon displays a Dec. 31, 2014 release date. The same release date is shown for the GameCube Controller Adapter for Wii U.

I've read that PDP will be manufacturing the controllers, but Amazon lists Nintendo as the manufacturer. I guess this will likely remain a mystery to me until I can hold one in my hands. After all, you can't really judge a controller without playing with it. They all "look" great, but you have to feel the action in your own hands.

I'm dying to snag a set of kick-ass GameCube controllers!!
June 24, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Comedy Central's @Midnight show had a hashtag war with #ruinAVideoGameCharacter

Ruin A Video Game Character on @Midnight It's always nice to see one genre pointing toward another.

Comedy show, @Midnight has a segment called Hashtag Wars in which contestants have to come up with as many qualifying terms that represent the context of the chosen hashtag.

Last night (or really early this morning) they chose: #ruinAVideoGameCharacter. Good stuff!
June 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Canceled Primal Rage sequel emerges (1 of only 2 PCBs) & is playable at the Galloping Ghost Arcade

I still own and play the Atari 2600 that I bought when I was 12. Every time a cart needs a bit of "coaxing" to slide in or out I pause... Perhaps my beloved VCS should be resting on a slab of teak, covered with a glass case incorporating an elaborate environmental system to keep humidity and temperature within proper ranges. OK - it's just my 2600, but I love it. It's old... in my eyes. :)

Rare Primal Rage II arcade game by Atari I loved the co-op play of Joust when it hit the arcade scene. The idea of simultaneous play was new to me and I loved the dynamic it created. When fighting games became a runaway genre unto themselves, I didn't equate their simultaneous play with that of Joust. What I loved about Joust was the ability to team up or be an enemy to the other player - and that dynamic would quickly shift. Fighting games pitted you against someone - less co-op.

part of it too was the human element. Knights riding ostriches was eminently more awesome (to me) than wrestling, karate or boxing. But Primal Rage brought a new dynamic, in 1994, to arcade fighting - Dinosaur-ish beasts! I was a huge fan of Rampage, so this was my kind of fighting game! It also amped-up the blood and gore aspects.

Creatures could have all sorts of attributes that elude humans when it comes to a fight. The Dinos were fresh and added a layer to fighting that I enjoyed. One facet of the initial release was the reversal of traditional controls in which buttons were depressed and then a move was initiated with a joystick combo. I think this was changed in later revs, but the original control scheme was preserved.

In the post-apocalyptic Earth, the various beasts were worshiped by humans as they battled. Sometimes the humans became part of the game play as health-boosting snacks providing you ate members of your opponents tribe. The human aspect of Primal Rage seemingly took on a more dominant role in the sequel.

Primal Rage II - The Sequel

I liked the arcade release of Primal Rage, although many of the home ports were less than stellar. The Genesis and SNES versions were quite lacking compared to the arcade. So, the notion of an arcade sequel had fans of the arcade game very excited. In 1996, Atari canceled the game - don't fret, there's a Primal Rage novel. There's speculation about Atari's finances and PR2's ability to earn - as to it's cancellation. Some say promo cabinets were created in anticipation of marketing the game and demonstrated at varios shows and arcades. They say only 2 are in existence today.

original Primal Rage screen shot I remember when a new game showed up at my local arcade in the 80s. Those were amazingly exciting times! Today it was announced that one of the Primal Rage II cabinets is playable at the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, Illinois! They were able to acquire one of the functioning cabs and are putting it on the arcade floor for patrons to enjoy!

In some of the footage that has been posted online, it seems that the beasts of the original game have been replaced with more human-like characters. I don't know what the ratio of characters is, but most of the pics I've seen show human combatants. This would be an interesting departure considering the raw beasts were quite a draw for the original Primal Rage. Human character types in the sequel is also confirmed by Arcade History.

Going back to my hermetically sealed Atari 2600 notions... I guess if Galloping Ghosts can put such a rare arcade game on the public floor, I can leave my beloved 2600 on a table ready to play. If you're in the Chicago area, you may want to venture over to Brookfield and play Primal Rage II. Where else can you do that!?!
June 22, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

X-rated Intellivision game from 1983 is getting a CIB makeover fit for retro greatness

Box art for new release of Space Cunt We smirk and roll our eyes at the x-rated games of the 80's. Custer's revenge and Stroker, for example, were 8-bit games that really never gained much of an audience beyond idle curiosity. Part of the problem was there wasn't much game-play. Outside of 8-bit nudity, there wasn't much challenge to such titles.

You'd think that advances in technology would make such "Adult" titles much more feasible and popular in today's era of gaming. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Consoles are full of Mature titles, but most of those are in the "blood & guts" category. There are a number of Adult games for PC, but not commiserate with what current technology could offer.

Going back to the 8-bit days, 1983 in particular, Mattel's Intellivision was host to a game called Space Cunt. It was an Astrosmash clone with the sprites changed to liken it's game-play to it's title. So, how likely would it be for such a game to get a 2014 reboot? And not just a code injection - this will be a CIB project with box, manual, overlay and Space Cunt on an IntelliVoice compatible cartridge!

For those looking to upgrade the play experience of the 1983 original, this will be limmited to 200 CIBs produced. There is a Space Cunt pre-order thread on AtariAge and more info on Intellivision Revolution.

Space Cunt title screen
June 21, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Planning a retro gaming party with the Yo app

Yo logo
Yo Dude, we're coming over in an hour. Still need an extra CRT?
Yo I'm bringing an extra 2600 joystick. Are your Coleco controllers working OK? I can scrounge a few if we need them.

Yo Is food all set? I'm starving. I can stop off on my way, but I need to know now.

Yo Did you fix that Ouya problem with the mystery USB drive? I have a few homebrews on a stick I wanna bring.

Yo Hey, I'm stopping for gas. Do we need more brews while I'm here?

Yo Wait'll I get there before you order food. All that crap on the pizzas last time made me sick.

Yo Did I leave that outlet strip at your place? Can't find it anywhere!

Yo I'm bringing my Intellivision carts and a few M Networks for 2600. You have an IntelliVoice, right?

Yo Will your crappy stereo take an iPod or are we doing CDs again?

Yo! this party's gonna suck.
June 21, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Tesla Motors shares their tech via Zero Wing gaming meme- All Our Patents Are Belong To You

Many video games released in Japan never make it out to other areas of the globe. These games are sought after by those in those other territories. Some games that are released to other parts of the world need to be translated - localized, they're calling it now, although it involves more than just simple translation of spoken dialog.

All your base are belong to us screen shot Mega Drive Zero Wing Appearing on the european Mega Drive console in 1992, Zero Wing had a particularly bad translation that appeared in the opening sequence, allowing a mass audience to see it in all it's glory: All your base are belong to us.

It quickly became an internet meme as well as appearing IRL in a variety of odd places. The latest place it appeared was at Tesla Motors' HQ... well, not exactly.

Tesla Motors wants to accelerate the world's transition to electric cars, from our beloved gas-guzzlers, by creating a full range of affordable electric cars. But it goes farther than Tesla's own line of vehicles.

All your base are belong to us - with Tesla electric car Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, announced that they would allow other companies to infringe on their patents in an effort to help these companies over the learning curve and put them in a more realistic position to produce affordable electric cars. In a statement called All Our Patent Are Belong To You, Musk promised not to initiate patent lawsuits against companies who want to use Teslas technology "in good faith." It will be interesting to see how "good faith" is interpreted.

Open Source Auto Manufacturing

The Open Source model is prevalent in computer software. Many applications - video game emulators for example - are open source allowing access to the code in order to inspire others to contribute and improve upon it's design. It spurs a more collaborative environment. This is the same model that Musk envisions by allowing access to Tesla's technology. Electric car sales are still below 1% of all automotive sales. That in itself will prolong the stall to develop and propel the electric market.

All Our Patents Are Belong To You Auto manufacturing is more of a cut-throat endeavor than a collaborative one. How many times have we heard of auto manufacturers declining to spend an extra $10 to make a safety improvement to a vehicle model or line. Among other problems are standardizations that benefit the gas model, but are prohibitively expensive to change - like switching to electric.

Part of Tesla's altruistic offering of their technology, in an open source manner, wil also benefit them by allowing them to expand. There are gas stations everywhere. When was the last time you saw a recharging station? With less than 1% of car sales in the electric category, you've likely seen few. So even with Teslas's innovations, can they afford to also build charging stations so people can travel away from home in greater distances? No.

Standardization will assist with this. If car makers emulate the Tesla model, they will be creating "compatible" vehicles with uniform charging mechanisms. This is a boon to all makers of electric vehicles. Imagine if you pulled into a gas station and the nozzle on the pump didn't fit your car's tank? That is the importance behind standardization and why Tesla wants other's to follow in their footsteps to hasten adoption of electric cars.

It will be interesting to see if the Open Source model we associate with software can successfully be applied to acceleration in automotive development. As for me the only change I've seen are the new charging stations installed inside my local mall for cell phones... and my 2DS. At the same time, even simple things, like charging stations for personal electronics in malls and airports, put the idea of remote charging in people's minds. Part of any change always includes public buy-in and acceptance.
June 20, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bringing 8-bit awesomeness to platformers, Cavanagh's VVVVVV will astound you on multiple devices

When the folks at Ouya dropped an email touting the release of Terry Cavanagh's game,VVVVVV (official website) on their 'Droidie game console, I had to discover why someone would name a game using six V's. My first thought was inline with the reason some company names begin with AAA - it puts them atop most alphabetized lists, which primarily dates back to the now-unpopular use of phone books. Today, it's memorable and easy to search for. Ouya's email was actually titled, "This game title is not a typo".

But this game, indeed named VVVVVV, is an amazing platformer with fast action, centric on it's gravity-reversing mechanic. You can try an online demo version of VVVVVV on Adult Swim.

VVVVVV game logo
So, I first got wind of this game as it was brought out on the Ouya, but that is only it's latest release. Having fallen deliriously in love with Nintendo's 2DS I was delighted to see it was also available for 3DS and PS Vita. I instantly snagged it from the Nintendo e-Shop.

Like many amazing 8-bit games that originated the classic stylings in this game, VVVVVV is easy to learn, easy to control, and yields a balance of difficulty and fun that makes it hard to put down. Successfully clearing each screen is elating, but the fun in failing is a close second. Win or lose, this game is FUN!

VVVVVV game logo
Here's a summary from the Nintendo website:
Help Captain Viridian flip to find five crew members, 20 hard-to-reach Trinkets and save a dimension on the brink of destruction. It's a space opera in the most unique scale with a style that only VVVVVV can bring to you. Instead of jumping, control the direction of gravity by inverting your gravity and allowing Captain Viridian to flip between the floors and ceilings of the environment.

From the VVVVVV website you can download Mac and PC demos. It is available on the 3DS, PS Vita and Ouya platforms. You'll also find info about the level editor that will allow you to create your own alternate dimensions to explore! The music is another great part of VVVVVV - follow the links to buy a copy of the whole soundtrack.
June 18, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Never stop seeking & learning- a SMB glitch was discovered 30 years after it's NES release

Super Mario Bros 1-up glitch for infinite lives Super Mario Bros came out in October 1985 and gave new meaning to the platformer genre... if not actually defining it. Coming from an era where saving a game-state was more sci-fi than reality, different gamers found different experiences. Some adamantly played through while others got adventurous and found secret rooms and passageways.

Despite nearly 30 years in the hands of devout gamers, not all of it's secrets were revealed. News of a Super Mario Bros. video appeared in which an infinite 1-Up glitch was discovered.

What amazes me most is that this glitch wasn't known/publicized for almost 3 decades! It makes me think of all the timess I've been stuck on line at GameStop while a kid trades in a stack of games. Without being overtly nosy, I peer at the titles to see what he's deemed disposable. sure enough - there are always a few titles that are less than 6 months old. So many people will dispose of great titles just to have the one that came out 3 days ago.

I wonder if the kid finished all the games he's trading or just became tired of them. We all hear of gamers who sit down with the latest AAA game and beat it in 14 hours. Of course there are side-missions and mini games and challenges that can also add to the longevity of a title, but is beating a game really the end?

Super Mario Bros NES cartridge This Super Mario Bros glitch seems to indicate, "NO!"

I think this 1-Up discovery also serves as a reminder that video games can give back when you least expect it. I'll frequently find a game in my collection that has waited patiently for 15+ years to be played again. When I finally push in that cart and see the startup screen - the memories flood in and I'm stoked to be playing it again. This happens to me all the time.

I often wonder if Kids today have enough perspective to realize that the games they buy may have replay value down the road - even if only several months later. Unfortunately, games made these days will be obsolete all too soon due to changing hardware, cloud issues and server shut-downs.

Such things make me very grateful for the era of video games I grew up with. I can still play Super Mario Bros on my NES and then switch to an even older game of Missile Command on my Atari 2600. Gaming today is a lot of fun. But gaming like it's yesteryear is even better! :)
June 17, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Gaming articles require no ghostwriters or double-sided tape to keep one's breasts in one's outfit

I love video games. Few things are as satisfying, to me, as discovering a retro gaming intricacy or oddity worthy of exploration. From that comes a love of writing. Being able to convey a fact, a discovery or some oddity via words is great fun. Some days I'm really stoked about the experience. Other days I shut down my Mac in frustration and see if a few waves of Asteroids will restore my mood.

Whether my day yields perceived success or failure - it's my own. Celebrity autobiographies are often authored by others, but we assume the celebrity was involved enough to at least state the relevant information.

Novels are another thing. When telling a story, a fantasy a fictional work - it should come from the actual author. It's hard to believe either of these "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" reality-stars (neither of whom completed high school) wrote a novel together.

Kendall and Kylie Jenner at a booksigning for Rebles City of Indra Kendall and Kylie Jenner at a book signing for "their" novel, Rebels City of Indra.
Blue jacket taped in place Blue jacket... taped in place.

Their novel has seemingly received more attention due to their celebrity status than the book's content. Although landing in the top 2,500 top sellers on Amazon, it is accompanied by a 1-star rating. Inline with that rating, their book signing at a Los Angeles Barnes & Nobel reportedly lasted 5 minutes before the "authors" left the scene amidst a fuming crowd of journalists and fans.

So, as irritating as it is for two indifferent drop-outs to be labeled as Authors - as I throw up a bit - I take pride in owning my own failures because I can also own my successes. I tip my hat to all of you who write about games and the gaming industry. You keep us informed and better-off by staying up-to-date with the gaming industry from such a wide array of sources!
June 17, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Without a clear formula for Kickstarter success, here are some best-practices & tips

Crowd funding is in it's infancy. The concept has been applied to many disciplines seeking funding, but these days we define it by it's perceived creator, Kickstarter. This corporate entity's name has already become a verb much the way Xerox-ing became the action of photocopying. The difference is we've been photocopying stuff since the late 1940's whereas Kickstarting only began in mid-2009 (Kickstarter's launch).

Kickstarter infancy We've all seen amazing ideas seek crowd funding and fail while others meet their goals and spiral into oblivion leaving backers shaking their fists and vowing to never waste money on this unregulated funding model. Yes, unregulated.

The decision to back a project on Kickstarter has as much to do with business savvy as trust. We dole out our hard-earned money with the hope that the project owner will properly execute their plan and deliver what has been promised. Too many folks think backing a Kickstarter campaign is the same as pre-ordering a product. It is not! Backing a project simply puts you in on the ground floor as an early adopter, but offers no guarantees.

We exchange money for goods and services all the time. Armed with my receipt I can return virtually any purchase from stores like WalMart, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, etc. The crowd funding model is different. There are no guarantees. No obligations. No recourse.

I am VERY careful about choosing to back Kickstarter projects. My mantra is: I'd rather walk away than get ripped off. That may seem overly cynical, but there are no checks and balances once a Kickstarter campaign goes live.

Some project owners, have never raised capital, never delivered a finished product, never met a goal, never opened a savings account. These people are often unknown to backers. They make be captains of industry or morons. We only know what we see in their campaign and knowledge we can glean from online resources. So, I tend to be cautious. I don't waste my money and I don't want anyone else to either.

My message is be smart, do research and be cautious. Don't get emotionally attached to projects. Maybe your favorite childhood video game is being updated or a movie about something you love is going into production. Stop! Collect yourself and do enough research to ensure you are comfortable giving your money to such a Kickstarter project. Your childhood memories don't make product development viable or credible - that is achieved by competence.

Best Practices - Creating a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

One could easily write a book on this topic, but we wanted to point out a few good ideas that we often see organizers ignore. We wrote a similar article containing 5 Steps to promoting a Kickstarter Campaign. In today's article, we'd like to focus on the importance and timeline for social media promotion.

Your Kickstarter campaign page is only one of many web-centric places your success will depend on. It acts as a hub for specifics of the campaign, like reward tiers and communicating via updates and email. The Kickstarter page is the only way to ensure your backers receive consistent info about your project and it's progress. This is achieved via the Update area.

Many projects ignore this area assuming everyone has seen their Facebook or Twitter posts. Not true. All social networks operating with a chronological timeline seem similar to e-mail, but we know that 90% of those social media posts were not specifically directed at you. E-mail, like the Update area, are perceived to be targeted and relevant to the receiver. Posts to social networks don't take on that same semblance of importance to the receiver.

But those Social Networks can be your savior if set up and used well.Your Kickstarter project didn't come together the night before you launched the campaign! You probably spent months or years preparing. Part of that preparation MUST involve setting up and curating your social networks. Doing so is similar to the tip-jar metaphor... An empty tip-jar stays empty. If you put in a few dollars and change - to get the ball rolling - you'll get more additions to the jar!

No one interested in your Kickstarter campaign wants to arrive on your Twitter or Facebook page and see a single "Welcome" post or one video on your YouTube channel that they already saw on your Kickstarter page.. The same goes for those new accounts with 7 followers and 3 likes. It makes the account look like an afterthought - which obviously it was!

Engage Your Audience EARLY

As soon as you know you're moving ahead to achieve your goals (shortly after that great idea is scrawled on a bar napkin), establish supporting social network accounts. You're excited about your project - get potential backers/customers swept up in your excitement too! Engage them on social media. Start following folks on Twitter, posting photos to Pinterest and Tumblr. Have your team each make a video about some aspect of the project or their role for YouTube. Facebook is a waste of time unless you have a large budget to pay for exposure - only 1% or 2% of your Facebook followers will organically see your posts. Get cracking and make us love your project as much as you do!

We recommend Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, and maybe Facebook. It sounds like a lot, but there are tools to manage multiple accounts, schedule posts, and once you get in the habit of "involving" your fans, you'll see it as a valid promotional tool. You want to engage people with as much info as you can give without harming your project. If you provide interesting info, your fans on social media are more likely to share it with their friends and followers.

It's much better to launch your Kickstarer with a lot of fans awaiting your launch, than having to scramble to get the word out during the limited-time of your live campaign.

What Should I Post?

For the sake of this article (and the fact that we love video games) we'll assume you're making a game and using Kickstarter to fund it. So, tell us about your game. Is it based on a familiar style? How so? Get fans interested in all the characters. Maybe your game has one hero you can focus on - that's cool, but get people hyped on the supporting characters and evil enemies too. Make us love the characters. Show us images of them. Screen shots of the game. Get creative!!

You want to offer interesting and compelling content that keeps people informed about your project while also making them fall in love with it. So, your updates can be project milestones as well as pics of a Boss from an upper level. Mix the business with the pleasure, but always keep it interesting and fun.

Most importantly - ask questions. Ask opinions. Get feedback. You don't have to "tell" us everything. Ask us about things we'd like to see or let fans build on an idea of yours. Keep people talking about what you're doing. Make us crave interaction with your game!

How Often Should I Post?

Honestly, I don't know. Every project is different. There is NO magical number of posts that is best. You have to strike a balance between not posting enough info and posting too much. Keep in mind your audience isn't glued to social networks 24/7. It's OK to post the same thing more than once. Some folks like to check the soc nets in the morning, some do so during a lunch break, others after getting home from work... and I'll bet a few night-owls will check in at midnight to see what's going on out there. With this in mind you want to spread out your posts throughout the day. Is your project global? Don't ignore time zones that may be interested in your project when you're asleep. :)

As a general rule, you should post at least once a day - with the exception of YouTube. Most users can post around 10 times per day without wearing out their welcome. Just don't post the exact same text-block multiple times per day. Change up the same message if you want to get it out several times in one day. Use lots of images when you post. Text can be dry and easily glossed over. That doesn't mean your message is dull - just incorporate a supporting image with it.

Never Ever Ever...

Gaining Kickstarter funds is rarely a perfectly sloped incline from start to finish. There may be some initial interest at the start and a few spikes here and there, but many campaigns get the bulk of their funds at the tail-end of the run. Be patient. This panics a lot of project owners and they do things that irrevocably ruin their chances.

Here is the one mistake that will always kill any chance of funding. Never ask for money or support (which is the same thing as money, btw). We all know you need money. It goes without saying. Everyone needs money.

Once you lower your communication to "please give me money," you've lost all hope of a successful campaign. It shows desperation and indicates you have nothing left to offer, but begging for funding. You'd be surprised how many project owners do this in the first 2 weeks! Never do this - EVER!

You should engage people with the sheer awesomeness of your project. Get us hooked on your characters. Dazzle us with images and story lines. Ask what we'd like to see in various levels of your game. Ask for opinions about various aspects. Once you ask for money or support, you're done!

If people are not engaging with your campaign - stop and determine why. Interest in your project is not the same as funding your project. If people are not engaged, you're doing something wrong. That doesn't mean your project idea is bad, it simply means you need to shift gears/make changes in your promotion and marketing efforts. Don't give up - you're probably making an awesome product even if things don't work out via Kickstarter.

Don't abandon your social network accounts unless you are really abandoning the entire project. Those following you on social media will likely be your PR crew and customers when you do get funded later! Best of luck! Drop us a line if you have an awesome project coming up. We'd love to hear about it!
June 16, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The world's largest video game auction should inspire news about humanity, not money

Game Gavel logo The Guinness Book of World Records verified Michael Thomasson's video game collection as the "largest video game collection in the world", in December 2012, counting a total of 10,607 unique titles. He didn't stop collecting games and amassed over 11,000 video games that are now part of the most unique video game auction most of us have ever seen. The world's largest video game auction took place on Game Gavel.

Valued between $700,000 and $800,000, the reserve price was been met, and we wonder if it will top it's bid of $750,250.

I know very little about Thomasson except for the recently published info about this auction & his involvement in gaming and the various paths its taken him. He seems to be a good guy who loves gaming and has given back to that love many times over. With world records and near-million dollar assets at stake, the story has been recognized by mainstream media whose focus is often skewed.

Michael Thomasson- world's largest game collection When we see a "For Sale" sign in someone's front yard, we assume they are moving up, getting a bigger house, and living their dreams. We don't see that real estate sign and wonder what travesty has befallen the owner. But sometimes that's the harsh reality. I don't mean to imply that's the case with Mr. Thomasson - I have no knowledge of his motivations, but the media seldom wants to delve deeper.

When someone has amassed a huge collection - of anything, not just video games - it's grown over time. I'm sure Thomasson can look at almost any item/title in his collection and be reminded of how that item came to be on his shelf. This collection represents a large part of his life - a lifetime of stories! I've read he sold parts of it over the years to fund things like his wedding, but selling the whole thing is an enormous life-event. I'm sure he's known for a long time the high value of his collection and Guinness validated it in 2012.

At the conclusion of the auction yesterday, it's hard not to consider the recipient of over $750,000 as lucky. However, he didn't win the lottery. He sold something of great importance to him. I hope this money lets him do amazing things - all the things he needs it to do.

As fellow gamers, who understand the passion of collecting video games, lets pause for a moment to hope all is well with Thomasson and his family. It's the people who give back to gaming that propel it the most.
June 15, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Toys R Us doles out leftovers from Frito-Lay's Skylanders Sidekicks- no crumbs, just figures

My son and I love Skylanders. OK, he loves it a bit more than I do, but we try to stay on the cutting edge of all things related to Skylanders. We've done the Happy Meals, picked up the Promo posters, and snatched up limited edition (so they say) figures. Somehow we managed to completely miss Sidekicks! How is that possible? I love video games and snacks, so how could Frito-Lay's Sidekick promo slip past us?

Eyesmall Skylander's Giants Sidekicks Eyesmall Skylanders Giants Sidekicks shown with the packaging. He arrives in a plastic bag containing the figure, sticker pack including QR code, and the instruction sheet for use in mobile games.
Barlkey & Eyesmall Skylanders Giants Sidekicks Barkley & Eyesmall Skylanders Giants Sidekicks. I'm still hoping to get the other two!

I dropped in to my local Toys R Us to see if there were any new Trash Pack toys and to breeze through the video game area for anything interesting. The salesman who works the gaming area is really cool. We chat often about upcoming games and today he had a surprise. They had a box of Skylanders Giants Sidekicks that were being given away for free!

They were mini Skylanders fashioned after 4 of the large-size giants. I was astounded. I'd never seen or heard of this! I raced home to find out what these things were.

Sidekicks have no in-game value. They're just kind of fun and follow around their full-size counterpart. It seems that in 2-player games, you can only have one Sidekick on the Portal. I haven't experimented with them much, but I'm also curious to see how they work when using power-up items on the portal.

Tree Rex & Barkley with Eyebrawl & Eyesmall - Skylanders Giants Sidekicks It seems that there were promotions for "Sidekicks" for both the Spyro and Giants games. Frito-Lay ran the Giants promo last year with their multi-pack snack bags. Inside each package of assorted chips was a mail-in card that along with ~$2, would get you a Sidekick by return mail. The card asked you to indicate your preference for all 4 characters since they wouldn't guarantee you'd get the one you wanted.

Apparently Toys R Us was selling the Frito-Lay multi-packs and were sent the leftover Giants Sidekicks to give away. Check your local Toys R Us to see if they have any Free Sidekicks. They're a lot more expensive on eBay and Amazon- lol

Skylanders Giants Sidekicks Frito-Lay promotion
June 15, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
June 14, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Jeannette McCurdy hosts the 2 winners of the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. sweepstakes

Jeannette McCurdy was recently anointed the Brand Ambassador of Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. when they released their mobile-app versions of the 1990's digital pet. Along with various marketing promotions, McCurdy was the center of their "Spa Day with Jennette McCurdy in Hollywood" Sweepstakes.

Jeannette McCurdy hosts the 2 winners of the Tamagotchi L.i.f.e. spa day sweepstakes I think we can anticipate the sort of winner that might revel in a spa day with Sam Puckett. Your average tween and her BFF would love to meet a movie star and hang with her for a day at the spa. Chit chat about Ariana... ya know. So, I'm wondering how the day went with these two sweepstakes winners from Kentucky.

I'll bet they all traded "Sam and Cat" lines as the winners tussled over who was the bigger Tamagotchi fanatic. I'd love to know if either of them know what Tamagotchi is.

If you had one in the 90's, download a Tamagotchi for your smart phone - in 'toy' mode it is just like the 90's fave.
June 14, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Seattle coffee company takes aim at Dunkin’ with a fun web-based platformer featuring Duncan

I came across Seattle's Best Coffee on Facebook and smirked at several posts about their web-based platformer game. Finally, I decided I had to check out their tongue-in-cheek game called Duncan's Coffee Quest. Duncan is their main character who has run out of coffee and is trying to get a refill. The game is a simple platformer in which you collect items for points and avoid others that cause you to lose a life.

Duncan's Coffee Quest What really makes me chuckle is the obvious distaste for Dunkin' Donuts. Naming the main character Duncan is just the beginning. Yes, donuts are lethal to our hero.

Duncan's Coffee Quest rules As you run along platforms and jump over obstacles, you collect coffee beans, Seattle Coffee cups, etc. But you have to avoid donuts and white cups - like the ones at Dunkin' Donuts. I like a good-natured jab with a bit of humor.

From their website:
Duncan has a problem  he's all out of coffee. See if you can guide him back to his favorite brew and become one of 20 top scorers eligible for a $100 Walmart gift card.

I presume Seattle's Best Coffee is also sold at Walmart. I have to admit I grow tired of the age-old jingle "everyone runs on Dunkin'", which I feel is ridiculously untrue. I've watched Dunkin' go from donuts to being some sort of sandwich shop trying to compete with the big boys of burgers. All businesses have to evolve, but I think Dunkin's expansion beyond donunts has left their namesake prodcut behind. As far as donuts are concerned, the Krispy Kreme experience has won me over.
June 13, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Xbone TV ad has Aaron Paul inadvertently turning on consoles while promoting Titanfall- “Xbox On”

"Xbox On"... wait what?!?

It is being reported that the latest TV commercial for Xbox One, staring Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, is causing consoles to interpret it as a real command, thus turning on viewer's consoles. It's a fairly old joke regarding devices with any sort of voice recognition. What if some errant speech/sound begins randomly turning things on and off, etc... And it's actually happening??

Aaron Paul I'll be the first one to shout obscenities when I see a friend using speech-to-text features on a phone. I'm fun annoying like that. In the early 80's I had a remote switch that reacted to an audible pitch that would cause the lamp I plugged into it to turn on and off. It wasn't long before I realized that sneezing also produced this pitch. Each sneeze made the lights turn on & off.

I don't own an Xbone and can't really speak to the sensitivity of it to spoken commands - real or otherwise. My smart phone has voice recognition features and senses commands by recognizing it's name preceding a command. I've heard many raves from Xbone owners on it's ability to correctly recognize a wide array of spoken commands. This is the first I'm hearing of it responding "to someone else".

Let's Talk Home Automation

I doubt that this is an elaborate ploy by Microsoft to place Xbox One in the public's consciousness via this playful mistake. I can see how dissociated corporate idiots might want to concoct such an outcome and reap the PR exposure that would likely extend well beyond the gaming community (the BBC reported on it). But lets discuss other similar technologies... like home automation or the self-driving cars we're hearing about.

With many home automation solutions moving to the web and smart phone apps, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't invest in any such product that uses any Microsoft components. If their own TV commercials cause unintentional effects with their products, I'm pretty sure I don't want them having control over anything remotely important in my home or car. As automation becomes more integrated into our lives via motion and voice recognition, I'm sure more of these sort of stories will appear... in more lethal forms.

I'm going to start referring to this as the "Skynet Effect". Oh yeah... it's funny now. Give it a decade :)
June 13, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

When is “Atari” not really Atari? When they're at E3 with branded mobile gaming hardware pamphlets

When I see an Atari logo, I get excited. Typically this excitement has been relegated to clothing stores who occasionally have an old-school Atari logo on a t-shirt or hat. I've found a few belt buckles too, but we just don't see that iconic logo on consumer electronics. Between Sears, Best Buy, Radio Shack and so forth - I never see the Atari logo on any products.

Imagine attending E3 and peering through the crowds and seeing logos from every conceivable gaming company. It must be somewhat overwhelming. What if - beyond the seductive lighting and sea of attendees - you saw that iconic Atari logo in the distance? I'd likely loose my mind and begin a mad dash towards it. Although I'm sure I'd slow to a meandering pace and remember that the "Atari" I loved hasn't existed for decades.

Atari branded mobile gaming tablets? The name still evokes thoughts of Nolan Bushnell, but he too, was short-lived at the helm of Atari. These days I'm not sure who they are or what they're up to. last I heard they were teaming up with someone to develop a casino-style gaming site of some sort. In recent years we've seen Flashback releases (licensed), Atari Greatest hits on Nintendo DS and mobile platforms. I recall a reboot of Yar's Revenge. Yeah, Atari has a lot of valuable IPs... what're they doing with them?

Reports from E3 indicate that the Atari logo is being glommed onto some sort of small tablet under the guise of a mobile gaming device. Having seen vintage Atari games on iOS and Android, I'm not sure I understand why owners of such an amazing quantity of IPs need to brand a hardware device common enough to buy in Toys R Us.

Atari branded mobile gaming tablets? There were several Atari mobile hardware photos posted that showed various devices, from tablets to handheld consoles and smartphones, all emblazoned with the Atari logo. It's hard to imagine this as a North American release, but the photos came from E3. Obviously, I don't have any details, but it sounds like some Atari big-wig was pressing flesh at E3 and perhaps seeking interest in a variety of devices.

It seems to me that Atari could easily make a comeback in video games, but they need to dazzle with innovation. Simply parading the 80's faves across a series of hardware options won't cut it. And rebooting a few of those 80s faves isn't going to work either. Atari needs to leverage the power of our connection and passion for their old IPs and reinvent themselves in a new way.

I'll have to curtail my usual zeal for the Atari logo and not let it's presence on random tablets effect good Judgement. I love seeing the Flashbacks on store shelves, but it's a license, not any Atari release. Besides, I can play all my favorite Atari games on any of a dozen platforms, so I really don't need an atari branded device offering more of the same. Atari needs to do something different. They won our love in the 70s & 80s, but 30 years later... it might be time to prove they can still win our love in the current era of video games.
June 12, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

8-bit underwear: Pixel Panties are made with squares, fit for round bottoms

Pixel Panties I don't know much about the retro gaming scene in Portugal, but it certainly seems both passionate and vibrant! The Indiegogo campaign for Pixel Panties is in full swing to crowd fund undies for 8-bit butts.

The 2 designers involved with this project hail from Lisbon, Portugal and say the idea came to them after a gaming session. With passion for 8-bit games, they devised panties to match. Pixel Panties will be coming in a variety of colors, but the white panties with jagged black edge seems like the best way to stay true to the 8-bit standards. ;)

This is the kind of product that could really take off and go big. With that in mind, the "8-bit style" could be applied to a variety of clothing items. It's also nice to see someone able to make a product in the spirit of retro gaming that further expands and shines light on our memories of classic video games. When a product that is outside the traditional boundaries of gaming - like underwear - it brings a new focus on classic gaming and memories erupt in people who may not have played video games since finding Pac-Man in the 80s.

Everyone wants to cover a story on an"interesting" style of panties. It's offbeat, quirky and lets writers do a variety of tongue-in-cheek articles. All of these articles help elevate retro gaming and remind many folks how awesome vintage video games were... and still are!
June 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

ROMs are fine, but Retroscribe rents game cartridges for a true retro experience

The ability to side-load thousands of ROMs onto my Ouya makes me smile - giggle even. When I was a kid, owning 30 Atari 2600 games seemed like a tremendous feat! Later in life, as a collector, owning 150 of these carts seemed like an equal feat. That shoe box of Atari games had grown to represent a dozen or more consoles and several bookcases of games.

Retroscribe retro video game rentals At present, lounging on the couch with beer, pizza, and thousands of ROMs - it feels decadent to go from Atari 2600 to NES to AES to Colecovision with little more than a flick of my thumb. Oh how I do enjoy the laziness of cross-console gaming.

However, I wasn't raised on mobile gaming or tablets. I grew up with game carts that oxidized and stopped working until they were cleaned or blown on. Joysticks had cables and seeing a start-up screen was never guaranteed, but when it filled the living room TV, you knew your adventure was just beginning. And that amazing feeling stil exists today with the very same consoles we loved as kids.

It's hard to slide Robotron: 2084 into the Atari 5200 and lock 2 controllers into the conjoiner without stopping to realize the enormity of what's about to go down. You can't see the rectangular level-start graphic expand from the center and hear the sounds come to life without admiring how awesome the 80's were. We didn't have USB drives full of games. We had joysticks on our home consoles and pockets full of tokens at the arcade. Those games we played back then were how games were meant to be played! Which is why we still love them 30+ years later.

Blockbuster is gone, but Retroscribe will deliver all your favorite games on cartridges!
Today's gaming landscape is a much different place than my arcade memories of the 80s. However, retro gaming has preserved so many of the titles that were fresh and new in our consoles - the box and cellophane just inches away as we pushed 'Start'. Many of us remember renting games and consoles at Blockbuster Video and having friends come over for epic weekend-long gaming sessions before those carts had to be dropped in the return-slot.

Wouldn't it be cool if those Blockbuster memories could be relived? Wouldn't it be awesome to rent an N64 game and spend a whole weekend defeating it with your friends? Bill Hecklick thinks so too which may be part of his desire to create Retroscribe - a retro video game rental company! Much like the rental models of GameFly and Netflix, Retroscribe lets you pay a monthly fee, create a wishlist, and have games sent to your house. No late fees or due dates! And these aren't the games you'll see at GameStop. Retroscribe lets you choose from Nintendo NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis!

Retroscribe retro video game rentals Take a leap back in time and check out what Retroscribe has to offer. They just opened for business on June 10, so get in on the ground floor and have them start filling your mailbox with game cartridges - the way games were meant to be played! :)
June 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Among the numerous E3 announcements, it's awesome to see Nintendo trending on Twitter

Nintendo trending on Twitter after E3 announcements In the weeks preceding, everyone gets excited about E3. Speculations run rampant. Leaked info takes on a life of it's own. Then, it's all cleared up in a matter of days amidst a flurry of amazing news! That's how E3 seems to go each year.

We've heard about the demise of the Wii U from industry leaders, gaming pundits, journalists, and random people no one has ever heard of. Solutions have ranged from financial savvy to ironic idiocy. Everyone forgets that while they may make occasional mistakes, Nintendo is a very smart company.

It's great to see so many Nintendo items trending on Twitter. Knowing that interest in Nintendo has sparked so many Twitter conversations and posts is a great sign. Lets hope the cynics will do more to help bolster the Wii U rather than fueling the banter about it's demise.
June 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's augmented reality (AR) games lead in to something far more exciting and underutilized

Nintendo AR card - Question Mark Being new to the Nintendo 3DS world, by way of a Peach Pink 2DS, some of it's features are still sinking in. From backward compatibility with the DS library to finding old favorites on the Virtual Console and slick indie games in the e-shop, I'm very impressed. All the connectivity issues I perceived around the DS have come to me via the 2DS at a time when they are far more relevant for me.

I was oddly fascinated with the included set of AR Cards. At first, I wasn't able to get the 2DS camera to properly recognize the cards. Miffed, I set them aside and went on to further explore this clever little device. When I came across the free application, Photos With Mario, I downloaded it to see if it's features would be acknowledged.

Ater watching a demo on Nintendo's website, I was skeptical that these oddly drab looking cards would make a character erupt into action on my 2DS screen - particularly after my dismal experience with the built-in AR Games. A review site mentioned that additional cards were online and could even be "read" by pointing the Camera at one's computer monitor. "No way," I thought to myself as the website loaded.

The site they referenced contained scans of AR cards for a variety of platforms. Clicking one of the links, an image, similar to the AR Cards I had, appeared on-screen. I hesitantly aimed my 2DS at the image and suddenly Mario was standing in view - in 3d! I called frantically to my sone to "get in here!!" Assuming the house was on fire he bolted in and we both stood dumbfounded as I tilted the camera, changing Mario's perspective in real time!

Photos With Mario app Then I went back to the built-in AR Games and to my surprise - they worked perfectly! I must have been doing something wrong before. Having seen the effect, I'm even more curious to know more about this odd interaction.

Augmented Reality

I know the cardboard card isn't springing to life, but I waver between anointing it a parlor trick or a feat of genius, although neither really applies. I was particularly surprised to see the AR apps recognize both on-screen images as well as their printed versions. I'd have thought the scan lines of the monitor would interfere with proper reading of the image and interpreting it to show perspective as I moved the 2DS up and down the image. Printouts from my lousy printer seemed no challenge for the AR apps. Both read the various characters I printed out.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view into which computer generate images, video, and/or sound can be inserted. Nintendo's AR cards act as triggers which prompt the insertion of characters, based on which cards are present when the 2DS/3DS scans them. Photos With Mario allows temporary "capture" of an AR card image and subsequently overlaying it on the next photo you take. I took a few pictures of my son's hermit crab habitat with various Nintendo characters seemingly standing inside the habitat.

AR photo via the Photos With Mario app In advertising, there may be a trigger image in an ad that plays a video when scanned with an AR enabled device. For example a print ad for a new car could have an image that displayed a video showing a 3D walk-around of the vehicle while another image displayed social media buttons allowing you to share the info you were scanning.

This all has an interesting intersection with a common oddity I saw when QR codes first became prevalent. QR codes allow a printed page or any physical item displaying a QR code to display a website when scanned with an appropriate app. I started to see QR codes on websites, which would allow someone to quickly access the code's info on their smart phone, but generally QR codes appear printed in the physical world. A QR code on a bar-napkin could link to the bar's entertainment schedule. Similarly an AR image on the same napkin could deliver an even more immersive experience.

The whole point being- these codes connect the physical world to the digital world. Think about that for a moment - pretty cool stuff. We tend to think of more ways to "digitize" things without really understanding how much of our lives exist outside of pixels and e-commerce. Retail marketers don't suffer this problem. They're ready to assault us with personalized advertising the second we walk into a store. Already cameras, that we all think are security measures, are sending tremendous amounts of info to servers regarding our disposition and time spent looking at various products.

QR codes and AR should be used on all packaging to deliver highly relevant info to consumers.
I frequently see shoppers scanning product bar codes with their smart phones to do comparison shopping. personally, I'd like to see more product packaging incorporate QR codes that would lead me to more info. As augmented reality improves and becomes more commonplace, I can see it delivering a lot of great info in a consumer retail situation.

What I like most is that QR and AR are passive technologies. If I want to partake and get more info... I'll whip out my smart phone. I'm not interested in getting a text from WalMart about tube socks when I pass the skivvies on route to their video game aisle!

Adult film producers, Digital Playground have long used QR codes on their packaging. More companies should take stock of their web content and adopt QR codes to aid consumer decision making. It wouldn't surprise me if they weren't on the leading edge of using AR tech on packaging.

It's quite a connected world we live in. Kids being exposed to AR via gaming are getting a ground-floor view of soon-to-be employment opportunities.
June 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vid Agents: an action/comedy web series in a world where video games are illegal

Vid Agents web show I was contacted by the filmmaker of Vid Agents to check out their Kickstarter campaign. The project is to be an action/comedy web show consisting of 16 episodes that can also be watched all together as a feature film. They cite 'Beverly Hills Cop', 'Miami Vice', and 'Lethal Weapon' as influences.

The premise of the storyline is video games have succumbed to the political nonsense we see in the news today regarding links to violence. With games outlawed, a dangerous underground network of game traders springs up and they must be stopped by a special police force - the Vid Agents.

From the website:
The story follows Gabe Wolfe and Ethan Fox, two police officers who are promoted to become the inaugural agents for the brand new 'Video Game Investigations Division' in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Quickly Gabe and Ethan, as 'VID Agents', uncover that the game trafficking ring is bigger than they originally thought, and soon find themselves on the hunt for the biggest distributor in all of LA - and the closer they get to finding this illusive criminal, the more dangerous it gets.

This sounds like an interesting concept for a webshow series and has the potential to be really good.

Kickstarter for Vid Agents

One of my concerns is the project being described as 16 episodes in length at the top of the page while the video says the $30,000 funding goal covers only 3 episodes. If you scroll down to the stretch goals, it states the 16 episodes will come if they double the initial funding goal and reach $60,000. I hope they'll clarify what they are planning to deliver at the $30K goal. Kickstarter campaigns can easily fail over simple ambiguity.

I contacted them via twitter to ask if they will be releasing another trailer that shows elements of the show itself. They do plan to release more videos during the Kickstarter campaign. Their initial Vid Agents Kickstarter video discusses more of the behind-the-scenes stuff - which is important. However, without a better sense of the actual episodes, it's hard for me to make a decision to back the project.

They replied to my inquiries via Twitter, which is always a good sign. They seem very interested in engaging with fans and potential backers. I look forward to seeing their campaign develop and more info posted to their social media accounts. Check out their website and Kickstarter page - between the two you'll find links to their social medial sites.

Vid Agents web show
June 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Maria Sharapova is a Defender at the Rolland Garros French Open 2014

Maria Sharapova won the French Open 2014! She is a renown defender of her tennis titles!

Maria Sharapova is a Defender at the French Open 2014

Maria Sharapova is a Defender at the French Open 2014

Maria Sharapova showing her French Open 2014 trophy at the Eiffel Tower
June 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A traditionally un-funny government agency made a seemingly humorous splash onto Twitter

Whereas I see the humor of the CIA's first Twitter post, I doubt their arrival on social media is backed by a desire to offset The Onion as masters of sublime irony. The buzz around the Net is "Wow... spies are funny too."

The CIA's first tweet One humorous tweet and the CIA is everyone's favorite agency. Their Twitter bio aptly sums up what the CIA does - it's not comedy. All the gov't agencies represented on social media have set up these accounts for specific purposes that likely extend beyond exchanging 3DS Friend Codes with fun folks around the globe.
June 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The annual Atari Party is June 14 - Come to Sunnyvale to learn & play!

Atari Party 2014

If you've never attended a previous Atari Party, now's your chance! It's a free event celebrating decades of video game and computing history of Atari. They've been held annually since 2009, typically in Davis, CA. This year, Atari Party once again migrates to Sunnyvale, CA (long-time home to Atari, Inc. and Atari Corp.), where it's being hosted by the Sunnyvale Public Library.

Atari Party They will have a wide selection of Atari computers and consoles with a great selection of games. There will even be a few non-Atari consoles and computers for which there have been great Atari game ports. It's not just about seeing and playing Atari, they also have a few guest speakers.

Al Alcorn under the direction of its founders Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, designed Atari's PONG.
Dan Kramer worked at Atari, Inc. between 1980 and 1984, where he championed the creation of the Trak-Ball Controllers for the Atari 2600, 400/800 computers, and the 5200.

If you're near Sunnyvale, CA and have a passion for all things Atari, the Atari Party sounds like a good way to spend the day! Check out the 2014 Atari Party website for all the details and directions.
June 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

American Airlines publishes an inspirational gaming article, “Game On”, in it's in-flight magazine

One of the places I always avoid on airplanes is the "seat-pocket in front of you". Filled with dull in-flight airline pubs and the Sky Mall catalog full of overpriced nonsense, it's also likely to contain garbage from a prior passenger - yuck!

American Airlines Game On story Apparently, those traditionally awful in-flight airline publications sometimes delve into topics that might lure me into that revolting pocket of dubious content. Video game media personality Patrick Scott Patterson recently posted about finding this article in American Airline's American Way airline rag (April 2014 issue). I felt motivated to find out how airline writers engage the topic of video games.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an article focusing on the resurgence of barcades and retro-cades that run the gamut from family fun centers to bar/restaurant arcades, and on to hardcore retro arcades.

Considering the wide appeal an in-flight magazine must cater to, it can be tricky to balance proper detail with mass appeal. I thought this article was just the sort of piece that will give the average person an introspective look at retro arcades while remaining casually interesting.

American Airlines American Way in-flight magazine June 1, 2014 The best possible thing for the longevity of retro gaming is interest from those who aren't necessarily retro gamers. You and I would naturally gravitate to a place like Ground Kontrol, but there are others who may not know such a place exists. What better way to coyly reach out to a wide audience than an innocuous retro gaming article in a travel publication? Genius!

Folks who might be reminded of a past love for Pac-Man or Berzerk are not likely to be Game Informer subscribers nor apt to frequent stores like GameStop. Travelers come from all walks of life that transcend many demographics. Trapped on an airplane with an airline magazine touting retro arcades is an excellent way to make a gaming connection with someone who might otherwise be overlooked.

Retro Gamers who grew up with Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, etc aren't getting any younger and no one is making retro consoles - unless you inclue the RetroN 5. An arcade resurgence would really shine a focus on retro games and I'm betting a lot of unlikely folks would be completely enthused by it! So who's going to start sneaking retro gaming articles into Vogue, Architectural Digest and Field & Stream? :)

Emporium Arcade
June 5, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Best Buy again hosts Nintendo Wii U demos during E3- Super Smash Bros Smash-Fest

Best buy again hosts Nintendo Wii U demos during E3 Similar to last year, select Best Buy locations will let gamers demo Super Smash Bros., on the Wii U, during the week of the E3 Expo. There's been a lot of marketing energy (dollars) spent to promote the game's launch and the Wii U bundles with SSB as the pack-in game.

You can check to see if your local Best Buy is on the list to be hosting a Smash-Fest demo. If so, you may be calling in sick to work on one (or both) of the 2 demo days.

Also similar to last year's Wii U event during E3, I wonder why GameStop isn't the destination for this in-store event. Granted, most GameStop locations are very small, but I would think they would benefit more from up-selling folks who came in for the demo. My local Best Buy has very few games - I wouldn't even think of Best Buy if I'm shopping for a video game. And perhaps that's the rationale for Smash-Fest being at Best Buy. Maybe they need a stronger association with gaming.
June 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

American daredevil Evel Knievel was featured in Pinball in '77 & 2 decades later on the Game Boy Color

As a kid in the 70s, it was hard to ride a bike without wanting to build a ramp and emulate the amazing feats of Evel Knievel! From books and toys to nationally televised stunts, he was my hero!

Evel Knievel wheelie poster As we age our definition of a "hero" may change, but I vividly remember watching Evel Knievel perform on Wide World of Sports and how that experience left a lasting impression on me. Those who become heroic in the eyes of a ten-year-old child are forever their hero. I yearned for the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle toy, but it wasn't meant to be (much like the Steve Austin action figure).

In today's world of promotional tie-ins, we're accustomed to seeing toys and video games linked to blockbuster movies and sporting events. In the heyday of Knievel's daredevil stunts, video games were in their infancy and more likely to be played on a mainframe the size of a small apartment!

Evel Knievel pinball from Bally Evel Knievel pinball Pinball, however was a different story. It's mechanical underpinnings were developed long ago and it's technology rose as time marched on. The first table I could find with an Evel Knievel theme was from Bally in 1977. This was ~2 years before Space Invaders and Galaxian were released into North American arcades.

Sega's Re-branded Motorcycle Game

In 1976 Sega had a motorcycle video game called Motocross, complete with handle bars, a force feedback throttle, and an 8-track deck pumping out engine sounds. By this time Knievel had established himself as a daredevil and was planning a jump over a tank full of sharks (one year later Fonzie would "jump the shark" in a different context).

An accident during the preparation & planning of Evel's jump caused it's cancellation. This is likely coincidence, but in the same year Sega re-branded Motocross to a Fonzie (from the Happy Days TV show) themed arcade game. It was the same game with new side-art and decor. Perhaps some of Evel's problematic jumps and insurance issues crept in, but if it were up to me, I'd have re-branded Motocross as Evel Knievel!

Evel Knievel Video Games

The Evel Knievel 3D Stunt Game for PC was a typical Valu-Soft release in that it was poorly received by gamers and reviewers. I wan't able to locate it's release date, but it wasn't until 1999 that Rockstar would release Evel Knievel for Game Boy Color.

Evel Knievel Game Boy color This game seemed much better than the aforementioned PC game, although it's settings were somewhat of a trial-and-error mystery if you wanted to perfect a stunt. Although being a familiar side-scrolling game, the learning curve is what robs it of it's fun. Handheld games are typically easier to pick up for shorter durations than their console counterparts, so the steep learning curve hurts it's overall appeal.

New Age Sports Heros

It's no secret that controversy followed Evel Knievel's path to stardom. Coupled with his rise to fame coming largely before immersive gaming, this may be why he wasn't featured in games the way Tony Hawk was with the THPS series of games. Even the early THPS games were loaded with polygons, but Evel's succes predated even that technology.

We've seen many action-sports themed games, so Evel's chosen vocation was dead-on for video games. It's a shame he wasn't brought in to that element of promotion and tie-ins. My guess is that his fame came largely before video game technology could properly depict his world. I often wonder if Rock Star's 1999 game had become a hit, if it would have opened the elusive door to an Evel Knievel series of video games.

Evel Knievel jump
June 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I have no idea what #TransformationTuesday is all about, but I'll take a guess

Transformation Tuesday Having a giant robot sounds cool, but the upkeep on a Stingray - Lemon Peeler is probably more manageable.
June 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

AMC casts ninja programmers on an 80s backdrop in Halt And Catch Fire - It's awesome!

A few years ago someone told me I should really watch this new show, Breaking Bad. I smiled and assured them I would... and totally forgot about it. Fast forward to last year's 60-episode marathon where I sat mesmerized by Walter and Jesse. How could I have missed this!?!

Halt and Catch Fire banner

The answer is... the same way I nearly missed Halt And Catch Fire on AMC last night. Were it not for several Facebook posts, I would have missed out again. AMC has a knack for creating amazing original shows which leads me to their two biggest issues they need to overcome.

  1. They call themselves AMC Network in an effort to shed the frequently-remembered "American Movie Classics" name from an era when they used to play old movies from the 50's and earlier.
  2. They are not owned by a large media conglomerate. As far as advertising goes, many other cable channels are have immense parent companies who will advertise and promote their wares across innumerable other channels of TV, radio, and print.

Despite the success of Breaking Bad, many people don't know what AMC is about and I think they go largely ignored as a premium source for great original programming.

Halt and Catch Fire arcade scene

Halt and Catch Fire ad AMC ran some interesting Facebook ads that clearly had a tech element and this is what lured me into watching the premiere. I love the show's title, but I had no idea what it meant. Out of context of the show I wouldn't have known it was a tech reference. It's actually more of a tech joke although CPU overload has induced some smoke...

What thankfully caught my eye was the "CTRL" and the font. Those 2 things made me curious enough to read the smaller sub-heading and dig a little deeper into this new show.

I suppose most folks would simply have seen the ad, whipped out their smartphone and "asked" their cable company to DVR it (Wow, DVR is a verb. I think I'd rather tape it.). Perhaps I'm a bit too retro when it comes to new tech. For a show focusing on the PC clone era of the 80s, I'm willing to take some time to explore the details and read a little.

Halt And Catch Fire Premiere

This show has great potential and I really liked the first episode, but wonder if it has enough mainstream appeal to keep viewers interested. The early 80s when computing was beginning to enter the consumer market was a fascinating time. As much as I love a good show about reverse-engineering a BIOS, I'm not sure if that will capture enough viewers to keep the advertisers happy. They did try to balance it out with a sex scene, but it was pretty uninspired and not too believable.

Halt and Catch Fire scene On the other hand, there are a lot of cool details. I loved the scene where they manually write down all the registers as they rev-engineer IBM's PC. Prior to that, two of the lead characters meet in a bar where programmer Cameron Howe is playing Centipede. Of course that sets the timeframe somewhere after July of 1981.

AMC is doing a Second Screen web companion for the show that provides a bit more info in a live format when the show airs - so don't be too quick to DVR it for later ;)

It's hard to judge a show by one episode. Some shows leap out at you while others quietly seduce you. Halt And Catch Fire has elements of both. Sometimes it was quite intense - other times it's awesomeness was more subdued. There were many elements I liked and I can only hope it's appeal spreads and more people find out about it. I recommend it and hope it lives up to my expectations.
June 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

When was the last time you cranked it to 11 & blasted music from a cassette?

In the 80's I had a faux briefcase with those velvet-coated plastic dividers to hold cassette tapes on end. With the top flipped open, I could pull out anything from Def Leppard and Van Halen to WASP and Judas Priest. At the time I still had a modest LP collection which remained in pretty good condition since I only played LPs once - to copy it to a cassette!

Cassette I had one of those all-in-one stereos that had a turntable, cassette player and radio outputting to two fairly dreadful, but audible, spakers. Those were the days! I recall my first CD player was a Denon that I believe I bought in '87 when I finally updated that all-in-one stereo.

I'd owned a variety of radios - some AM only - but never a boom box. I'm not sure how I got through the 80s and 90s without one, but my first ghetto blaster didn't arrive until 2000! It was a JVC Kaboom with some pretty hefty bass. It had a CD player which was the reason I bought it. It had 2 six inch side-mounted subwoofers with an independent volume control and 2 smaller full range speakers. It also had a convenient remote control and a 1/4" guitar input.

Fred Durst wants to get really retro with a limited release of Limp Bizkit's new single, Endless Slaughter, on cassette. Upon hearing this, I began to wonder when I last owned a cassette player. Was I now one of those people who can't play a cassette? I can play Atari 2600 games on my original VCS, but I can't listen to tape-hiss!?!

As I thought back, obviously my old all-in-one was tape-ready, I'd owned a Sony Walkman, and a few cars had tape decks. But what about now - today? I thought of my JVC boom box, but figured a late 90's boom box wouldn't bother with a cassette player - or would it? I bought it long after I had a need to play tapes. I wanted it for the CD player. I just didn't know. I had to go look at it to even remember. To my amazement, my RVB-99 boom box has a cassette deck! I had to laugh at not even remembering. So, if I somehow wind up at a Limp Bizkit concert with a desire to own a "modern" cassingle, I'll be all set to rock out!

Cassette From a Limp Bizkit Facebook post:

ENDLESS SLAUGHTER is the first "experience" from our new album STAMPEDE OF THE DISCO ELEPHANTS and will be available only on CASSETTE in about two weeks or so. Plus, these lovely collectibles will be sold only at our concerts. I'd suggest finding one of your oldest of old school friends to supply the cassette deck equipped BOOM BOX for your analogue listening pleasure. No rules. No limits.
Love you! Limp Bizkit

June 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Donkey-Me adds a variety of movie themes to our favorite girder climber- for Mac, Linux, Ouya & PC

About a year ago we heard of a father who hacked Donkey Kong so his daughter could play as the princess rather than Mario. Pretty cool! Of course some folks had to wonder if this was the end of gaming as we know it by way of renegade hacks inserting anything & everything into classic favorites. Predictably, that did not happen.

Star Wars themed Donkey Me game But it's OK if it happens occasionally. Take a look at Donkey-Me by Bruno R. Marcos for example. He's made several themes available for the classic Donkey Kong game and made it available on Mac, Linux, Ouya and PC!

Some folks become irked by this sort of tinkering and are very protective of the pristine nature of an original game. I certainly understand that stance, but I think when it is well done and tastefully done, it adds a dimension that can reinvigorate interest a game. Obviously, Donkey Kong is renown and receives plenty of attention, but there are many games of it's vintage that could benefit from a resurgence of interest.

With new Flashback clones arriving for Colecovision and Intellivision games, there is certainly no shortage of interest in retro gaming. Of course the flashback series has already released 4 units based on the Atri 2600 library (with a few 7800 and homebrews mixed in).

I love what Bruno Marcos has done with Donkey-Me and I hope he continues and inspires others to take another look at their favorite games from a perspective of re-programming and love.

May 2014 Retro Gaming Articles:

May 31, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Yours may cost $60,000 but Mario's Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV is free DLC for Mario Kart 8

I was poised to scream and rant about having to pay to have a Mercedes ad imported into my copy of Mario Kart 8. Product placement is one thing, but DLC is typically understood to be available for a price. With a sigh of relief, it has been well-broadcast that this Mercedes DLC will be free of charge.

With the release of both the Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV and Mario Kart 8, in Japan on Friday (May 30), the two companies worked together to cross advertise via a GLA Kart. The DLC is rumored to be available in Japan this Summer and most likely in other territories in the months following.

Mario driving a Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV in Mario Kart 8 This isn't a first for Nintendo. Over the years they have incorporated products into games and advertising in an effort to generate cross-promotional interest. This venture with Mercedes is part of Nintendo's strategy to expand their character licenses outside of gaming. This gives Nintendo and their iconic characters exposure and presents them alongside a renown luxury brand. This seems better than trying to expand the brand via 99¢ mobile games.

Mario with a Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV for Mario Kart 8 I recall the set for the Seinfeld TV show always had the current generation Apple Macintosh somewhere in view. Many large companies have departments dedicated to getting their "wares" into public view via television and other public arenas. So, finding Mario driving a Mercedes is more front-and-center than some similar promotions, it's not unheard of.

Can MK8 Sell a Mercedes?

Mario Kart 8 trending on Twitter There's that old expression, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." The idea is that having your product in the public's mind - regardless of context - is a good thing. I understand this approach, but certainly it's better to have your new vehicle showcased in a popular video game rather than on the evening news as a recall due to a defect. But I often wonder if CEOs in their isolated (from reality) ivory towers have other fanciful notions of such product tie-ins.

Do Mercedes executives think a family will enter a dealership with the children begging Mom & Dad to buy the "Mario car"? Perhaps they feel a 30-something worker, seeking to buy a Mazda will instead select a Mercedes because he/she recently drove one in Mario Kart 8? Maybe they see an older couple purchasing a Mercedes after seeing one in action as their grandchildren raced in MK8. Who knows the real value of such corporate partnerships, but I'm sure delusion plays equally with savvy.

Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV - Japan Promo

With this rollout in Japan, I found a website that seems to be part of the MK8 promo. They've put their SUV right into Super Mario Bros!

Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV drives into Super Mario world Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV drives into Super Mario world Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV drives into Super Mario world Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV drives into Super Mario world
May 30, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

An NOA tweet confirms both GameCube controller adapter & inspired design from PDP for Wii U

Super Smash Bros. has been a fan favorite bringing together a host of different characters into one game for an all out brawl! It provides a more family-friendly fighting scenario without bloodshed and glorified KOs. Spanning several Nintendo consoles, it is making it's way to the Wii U with a unique controller option. During the span of SSB, many gamers agree that the GameCube controller was the best device for the game.

Wii U controller adapter for GameCube controllers The Wii is still fresh in our minds with it's 4-ports and dual memory card compatibility with the GameCube. Nintendo has a long track record of elongating the life cycle of their games with awesome backwards compatibility. My local GameStop still has GC-compatible controllers for sale. Obviously this is an enduring controller and console.

GameCube Controller for Wii U?

About a week ago, stories started appearing about an upcoming GameCube "inspired" controller for the Wii U with a specific focus on working with Super Smash Bros. It seemed that PDP (Performance Designed Products) would be partnering with Nintendo to create this controller.

Some news outlets made it sound like the GameCube controller of the early 2000's was coming back. Other's used language like "in the style of" or "inspired by" which left me wondering what the actual product would be. Was it a fully GameCube compatible controller or just a similar design for exclusive use with the Wii U? The obtuse wording reminded me of George Carlin's line, "Do you know what 'real lemon flavor' means? ... no fucking lemons!"

Wii U controller adapter for GameCube controllers The bottom line for me is - can I plug this thing into my actual GameCube console? I'm beginning to think the answer is, Yes. A tweet from NOA seems to offer proof that your old GameCube controllers as well as the upcoming PDP controller will be useable on the Wii U via an adapter (and on your old GameCube console).

GameCube Controller Adapter For Wii U

Seeing the picture - with proposed attachment scenario - adds confirmation that this adapter has 4 GameCube controller ports that output to two cables which attach to the Wii U. There's no reason to maintain the GameCube port specs, on an adapter for that matter, unless it is truly GameCube controller compatible.

Anyone else curious about the two cables going to the Wii U from the adapter? That seems like an oddly clumsy solution. They seem to occupy both of the USB ports on the Wii U's front panel. Perhaps this is the only way to power all 4 of the GC ports. Just a guess. But it does show a strong commitment by Nintendo to provide the GC controller to those seeking better Super Smash Bros experience.

There is a similar product - the Mayflash Nintendo GameCube Controller Adapter for Wii/Wii U - but it seems to support only one GC controller and uses the nunchuk port on the WiiMote.

With the flurry of GameCube excitement in the air, some are wondering if this will usher in GameCube games for the Virtual Console. As awesome as that would be, I think we can all see the "wishful thinking" of this request. :)
May 29, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Indie footlong hot dog shop wants to expand with vintage video games & pinball

Miss Griffin's Footlong Hot Dogs I love randomly stumbling upon a story of someone who wants to expand their business with the inclusion of vintage arcade games. Such is the case at Griffin's Footlong Hot Dogs in Chattanooga, TN. Founded in 1939 as Miss Griffin's Footlong Hot Dogs, current owner Tom Hyde is expanding into the empty shop next door. This will add 25 seats to his current 13. Additionally, he wants to include some vintage video games and pinball tables.

"I want to expand without losing the nostalgia," he said. "That's half of what people come here for. It's to remember better times and better days. Or maybe just old times. We don't want to lose that. It's a very tricky line, which is why we really haven't added much to the menu."

That really sums up my lust for finding a classic arcade game tucked away in a restaurant or modern arcade. It's about dropping that token and being instantly transfered to a time when flashing marquees, loud attract-mode sounds and neon-lit arcades ruled my nights. Friends met up, high scores were destroyed and cute girls were everywhere.

One of our haunts was an arcade situated in a small Nathan's Famous Restaurant. Nearly 2 decades later, another nearby Nathan's Famous offered a very large arcade. I guess I have a soft soft for hot dog restaurants! Best of luck to Griffin's Footlong Hot Dogs!

Maybe they can hire 8-bit Miley to do a promotional hot dog ride for their expansion re-opening...
Miss Griffin's Footlong Hot Dogs

...or not.
May 29, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Hell yeah, Michelle! Lets bring back Atari as an arcade innovator

Bring back Atari as an arcade innovator
May 28, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I was stoked to find Console Wars at a local Barnes & Noble, but it's $10 cheaper on Amazon

When my local Borders book store closed, I was shocked. I couldn't imagine such an enormous chain of book stores disappearing so quickly. And in that horrific wake, it doesn't seem as though Barnes & Noble or indie book stores are faring any better! Borders' closure didn't fortify existing book stores, it strengthened online retailers, like Amazon, at the expense of these other stores.

I'm a bit conflicted regarding brick & mortar vs online retail. I love book stores, but I also love the convenience and pricing via online shopping. I find the decline of print-media disheartening when it's digital replacement hasn't enhanced the true reading experience. I can store a large library of books, magazines and newspapers on a small tablet, but reading these items has not changed or been enhanced by the digital revolution.

I've been wanting to buy a copy of Blake Harris' book, Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation and was excited to see it on the shelf at my local Barnes & Noble. I saw the cover price of $28.99 and assumed it would be discounted...

The new McDonald's Happy Meal character The clerk rang it up for $28.99 and confirmed the price when I questioned it. I told her it was on Amazon for $10 less. If there had been a modest difference I'd have bought it, but ten bucks is a lot of money when you're getting the exact same product.

At home I confirmed the online price. The original cost I'd seen may have been a pre-order price, but Amazon had it listed for $19.98. Out of curiosity, I looked it up on Barnes & Noble's online site and saw it listed for $20.38! So... is undercutting their own brick and mortar stores?!?

Clearly there is something I'm missing or I simply don't understand all the elements that are at play. All I know is $10 is worth saving. I won't alter my shopping habits to save a few dollars, but if I can save $10 - I will!

Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation

About the book:
In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But that would all change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske.

Based on over two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the underdog tale of how Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punchline into a market leader. It's the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, birth a $60 billion dollar industry.
May 27, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It's scary how fast your pa55word can get hacked even if you remain presidentially vigilant

The new McDonald's Happy Meal character The new McDonald's Happy Meal character has been scaring kids around the globe. That mouth looks a bit too real as though it's either going to swallow my head or vomit.
password Many folks don't realize that hacking isn't so much about the hacker at the keyboard as much as it's about the computer they're using. They aren't "guessing" your password. There's a reason you shouldn't use words and should integrate numbers, letters, caps and symbols.

Alyssa Milano at a promo for her graphic novel Hacktivist Publisher Archaia Entertainment and actress/producer Alyssa Milano are releasing a hardcover graphic novel, Hacktivist, that explores the modern world of hacking and global activism. Inspired by current events from around the world and Milano's own philanthropic endeavors, Hacktivist is a fast-paced cyber-thriller about friendship and freedom in a time of war.
Hillary ducks a TMNT Chuck Taylor Whether you're contemplating a presidential campaign or ducking a stylish Ninja Chuck Taylor, you always have to be vigilant. Else you risk taking a shoe to the head and causing a Secret Service incident.

May 26, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Doodle Jump began as a mobile game, moved to consoles, then went to arcades. Isn't that backwards?

Hitting the arcades every weekend was always an adventure. Some nights were crowded, others the food was terrible. We'd find old favorites and sometimes stare in wide-eyed disbelief when a new game was on the floor. The days (mostly nights) of the 80s arcades were awesome! At 25¢ per play, there was no better adventure on the face of the planet!

Space Invaders Arcade game and Atari 2600 cartridge At the time I owned an Atari 2600 and scoured the shelves of the local electronics store to see if any new "arcade" titles had been released. This was pre-Internet so news of a new title was relegated to snail-mailed news letters or looking on retail shelves. I usually had enough money for one game, but when there were two "must have" titles sitting there - well, it was a monumental decision with no singular solution.

When in doubt, I always went for the arcade-port. I lived vor Space Invaders and could play asteroids for hours. When Berzerk and Vanguard made their way into my collection, I was in a euphoric world full of pixels, adventure and a plate full of snacks.

In those days, the arcade set the standard. Great games were christened as such under the glow of neon lighting, with a Coke and slice of pizza nearby. In my youth I assumed every arcade game I loved would eventually be released for my 2600. I knew nothing of business, captal and ROI. I simply knew what I liked and how much I yearned to play it in my living room. Most of my favorites did achieve home-console releases. Some even passed the test of time and have been released on today's consoles and smart phones. The laws of evolution took hints from the arcades and delivered great games to home consoles.

Doodle Jump was released on mobile platforms long before it's arcade release!

Doodle Jump Went The Other Direction

My son told me about Doodle Jump when we found a copy for Nintendo's DS. He'd played it on his Mom's iPad, so I gave it a whirl on my Android phone and we picked up that copy for his 2DS. I'm always interested in mobile games that appear on home consoles. I discovered that Doodle Jump dated back to 2009!

Doodle Jump releases:
Doodle Jump arcade cabinet
  • iOS - April 2009
  • Android - March 2010
  • Windows Phone 7 - June 2011
  • Windows Phone 8 - August 2013
  • Xbox 360 - June 28, 2013
  • Nintendo DS/3DS - October 29, 2013
The arcade game was released by Ice and is integrated into a slick looking cabinet featuring a 42" HD display. Surrounded by LED lights, the display is set to a vertical orientation resembling a smart phone screen. It's a clever cabinet design since most people will be familiar with the game from a mobile device of that shape/style.

The cabinet is available as "just for play" and redemption tickets. At nine feet tall, the vacuum formed topper will be seen from afar. I wouldn't mind having that Doodler marquee at my place! ;)

The Larger Arcade Connection

I'm not sure what it means when mobile games start showing up in arcades. Fruit Ninja has also made the reverse leap from phones to arcades. Certainly the glory of 80s arcades is long gone, but not forgotten - everything is cyclical. It would be awesome to see arcades come back as destinations! The barcade concept (bar + arcade) is growing and bringing back many classic video games.

Naturally, all of this is revenu driven. Doodle Jump and Fruit Ninja aren't appearing in arcades out of any altruistic passion for arcades. It's about money. As interest dwindles in arcades, the money also dwindles, resulting in closures. Perhaps the excitement of mobile gaming cam be directed to arcades where favorite games can be enjoyed on a large screen. All it takes is a successful revenue model and arcades could make a significant comeback.

I'm probably grasping at straws, as they say, but I doubt I'm alone in wanting a vibrant arcade scene to blossom around the world! :)

Doodle Jump's journey from mobile to arcade reverses the typical path

May 25, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sea-Monkeys graced PC, PS1 & GBA, now World Alive enters the Brine Shrimp empire w/ Aqua Dragons

Sea-Monkeys As a child, Sea-Monkeys were the most astonishing thing I'd ever seen. Despite the water becoming thick and putrid-green in 6 short weeks, I was fascinated to see a packet of dry "stuff" turn into living creatures overnight! It's a joy I share with my son every Summer when the ambient temperature is well suited to breeding life from a paper packet.

So, you can imagine my horror (that briefly turned to anger) when I saw Aqua Dragons on the shelf at my local Toys R Us! The name alone couldn't be more derivative of the Sea-Monkey's name. Outside the cartoon drawings of Sea-Monkey families, we've come to accept that they are actually Brine Shrimp... as are the Aqua Dragons. However, they refer to them as Artemia Salina from the crustacea family.

Aqua Dragon tank Most children are Google-savvy and easily discover that Artemia Salina is a species of Brine Shrimp. The entire Aqua Dragon website avoids mention of Brine Shrimp and Sea-Monkeys until you reach their 'About" page. Here they offer up a friendly competition with the Sea-Monkey brand. But competition is competition and rarely involves friendship.

I'm still amazed at how mad the Aqua Dragon product made me in the aisle of Toys R Us. I loved Sea-Monkeys(and still do) (still do) and couldn't believe someone had the audacity to infringe on their briny glory! :) Perhaps this will spur the Sea-Monkeys to step up their game.

Sea-Monkeys are an iconic staple of many childhoods. It's a fun and easy way for any little kid to witness life - of sorts. Invented in 1957, but not called "Sea-Monkeys" until 1967, it was hard to read a comic book without seeing an ad for them! Illustrator, Joe Orlando's depiction of these creatures with somewhat human qualities made them a success.

That success turned into The Amazing Live Sea Monkeys, an 11 episode live-action TV show that aired in the 1992-93 season- featuring Howie Mandel and Gilbert Gottfried. In 2002, there were at least 3 instances of Sea-Monkey video games. The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys came out for The PC, Playstation, and Game Boy Advance.

The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys for PlayStation The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys for PlayStation was released in 2002 (North America) by Conspiracy Entertainment.
The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys for Game Boy Advance The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys for Game Boy Advance was released in 2002 (North America).

As one might suspect, none of The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys games were well received. Like the actual product, the game touted the ability to raise your own virtual Sea-Monkeys. The term "virtual" was often used to indicate a simulation-style game. However, there is no viable life cycle to the game. One simply has tasks to complete in order to continue with the game.

The one thing I liked very much about the Playstation game, is the animation of the Sea-Monkeys. They are rendered in Orlando's style from the vintage comic-book ads. That alone made me smile. It's a shame that a "virtual aquarium" wasn't created for the game. I suppose it's only a matter of time before Aua Dragons is released for Xbone.

Pick up a Sea-Monkey starter kit from your local toy store. It's still a fun experience for kids... and big kids! :)
May 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Despite huge films & games, the Terminator franchise's glory is the Portfolio & Summer Glau

The first Terminator film enthralled me. From Arnie stalking every instance of Sarah Connor to the foreshadowing of what Skynet would bring - I was hooked. I wasn't alone. From that film a wealth of tie-in merchandise came out further luring me into it's mythology of time travel and exotic weaponry.

Arcades, dirt bikes, the Atari Portfolio and Summer Glau When T2 arrived in theaters I realized how awesome it would have been to show up at the arcade on a dirt bike! When young John Connor hacked the ATM with an Atari Portfolio, I knew that was a more realistic possibility for me. My parents knew better than to get me a dirt bike, but I did eventually get a Portfolio!

Atari Portfolio Released in 1989, the Atari Portfolio was the first palm-top computer on the market. It was PC compatible (relative to it's era) with some MS-DOS 2 compatibility as well. Running on three AA batteries (or AC adapter), It had 128 kB of RAM and 256 kB of ROM - containing it's OS and built-in applications. The LCD screen is monochrome (no backlight) and has a 240 x 64 pixels display area.

An expansion port provided options for adding parallel, serial, modem or MIDI expansion modules. There is also an expansion port for removable BeeCard memory. Obviously this predates any of today's removable card storage mediums, but it also predated the PC card format that was popular shortly after the Portfolio's release.
Summr Glau bot - Sarah Connor Chronicles
I'm aware that Summer Glau was a mere toddler when Arnie first hunted Linda Hamilton in '84, but she was such an awesome terminator in the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series! I've wondered if Kristanna Loken's killer-robot role in T3 prompted the Fox exes to seek a slim 'n sexy bot for the TV series.

The beauty of the Terminator franchise is it's pace. Not only it's on-screen action, but on the other end of the excitement-scale is the slow pace at which the films were released. Today's sequels are cast before the original even opens in theaters. This gives movie patrons the feeling that concepts are rushed to market while they're "hot" in the public's view. Not so with Terminator. There were nearly decade-long stretches between films. I can binge-watch the 3 films and it all flows to where I forget they didn't all hit the big screen in the 80s - only the original did that!

Terminator film release dates The Sarrah Connor Chronicles broadcast dates I'm sure there were some anomalies and legal issues spanning the time between Terminator releases, but there are so few successul franchises, in film, where we see such large voids between release. The same is true with video game franchises. Each sequel comes out quite quickly. There are some on going franchises where we expect a yearly release at the very least.

These two - movies and video games - came together with the Terminator franchise. Where we see years and years between film releases. The franchise was aided by other media filling the void and keeping the concept fresh in fans' minds. Video games were a big part of keeping the Terminator, Cyberdyne systems and Skynet alive and kicking. Comics played another role. When we look at Terminator across multiple media outlets, we see a more steady stream of fulfilling content - not just sparse film releases.

T2 arcade game and Summer Glau T2 arcade game and Summer Glau
Terminator Salvation arcade game and Summer Glau Terminator Salvation arcade game and Summer Glau

Midway's T2 Judgement Day arcade game

Released October 31, 1991.
Arnie was a no-nonsense kind of guy with low tolerances - the T2 arcade cabinet is much the same. It's coin door has a vibration sensitive tilt switch that will shut you down if you get physical with the coin mech area. Operators had full reign over the options from custom pricing (even free-play) to difficulty levels, energy levels, and number of bombs. The attract mode and the ability continue after loosing all lives was configurable.

The multi-player arcade game was developed in tandem with the movie and uses actual film footage and audio to bind the game experience to the experience delivered by the film. This allowed Midway to mix realistic character images/FMV with the shooter-element where the fixed or removable weapons can interact with on-screen enemies.

Terminator Video Games

Namco's Terminator Salvation arcade game

Released April 2010.
Up until a few months ago, my local movie theater had a 42" (fixed gun) Terminator Salvation arcade game in their game room. On a side note: they've also repaired their Cosmodog Bowling game. They usually have just enough functional games to kill 15 minutes of waiting for your movie to begin. It's not worth the trip unless you're seeing a movie, but it's nice to find a few games on-site.

The Terminator Salvation arcade game was available in four formats: a 42" deluxe cabinet, 32" fixed gun cabinet, 42" fixed gun cabinet, and Super Deluxe 100" projected screen cabinet. With any game using IR sensors, in this case to track the guns, they are often susceptible to nearby neon lighting which can make the guns trac poorly or erratically.

Operators had an options menu to hone in on the right mix of challenge and fun to keep the tokens dropping. From skill level and minimum game length, operators could also control training modes and the amount of violence shown in-game. Free-play as well as coin values & start cost could be programmed to maximize returns.

As much as I love playing arcade games, I'm equally fascinated by what goes on behind all the elaborate facades in the inner workings of their PCBs and CPUs. As technology marches forward, it's amazing to see the changes that appear. Realistic sound was once delivered via an 8-track tape player triggered by the PCB. These days audio and full motion video is achieved digitally, sometimes delivered via hard drives. A lot goes on inside those cabinets once you drop a token... or bill. Cameron Phillips
May 22, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rad 8-bit thrills surround Strange Donuts via Happy Badger's done-zone street-survival mobile game

Many people don't see the similarity between donuts and pizza - a hidden link known only to those who don't care for even dozens or thawing. Their delicious intricacies, in the hands of corporate tycoons, are lost on those who believe the world runs on dunkin' or that truly good food can come from a fast-food franchise.

strange Donuts mobile game strange Donuts logo An amazing donut - like amazing pizza - is an art form. Neither can be mass produced to real satisfaction. A personal touch is often the magic ingredient, not present on the recipe card, that separates palatable from awesome. Few things are as awesome as a donut shop with it's own retro-style game app!

We've been fans of Happy Badger Studio since Turkey Chase livened our Thanksgiving and Something Fragile taught us that survival may rely more on kindness than on an Uzi. Their games don't rely on any singular style - each seems to push into new territory - making it fun to see what they'll come up with next. Go download #strangevideogame: Strange Donuts Vs. The World!

strange Donut On the run and armed with donuts, you skate the streets of St. Louis jumping obstacles while throwing donuts at others. You'll encounter all sorts of oddities from UFOs to dinosaurs as you collect coins and Strange Donuts that give power-ups. The visuals and music are wonderfully reminiscent of NES-era games.

It's a simple game to pick up and play, but has a well-set lure to keep you playing and striving to explore deeper in search of more strangeness! You'll not be disappointed.

There must be a great story behind the collaboration between a donut shop and game developers that results in an 8-bit styled run-n-gun (since run-n-donut isn't a thing yet). It strikes me that Strange Donuts must be more than just a popular hangout with good food. The first review I saw on Yelp mentions their Bacon Donut - need I say more? Genius!

Strange Donut screen  shot Strange Donuts Vs. The World is available free for both Android and iOS. You'll find links to both versions on the Happy Badger website along with links to their other games. Check out what they have to offer, since they develop a wide variety of styles. You're sure to find something to your liking. Speaking of which, all the reviews I've seen recommend a visit to Strange Donuts.
May 21, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's Starlight Fun Center partnership brought gaming to pediatric patients via game carts

Starlight Children's Foundation No one likes visiting their doctor and going to the ER is similar to going to the DMV - lots of people, waiting and more waiting. I can't imagine those kids who have to spend more time in the hospital than at home. There are a lot of great organizations that try to help these kids in ways that doctors can't. Some manage to create some fun!

I'd heard of Nintendo producing Wii consoles for hospitals, but didn't know much about the Fun Center program. I found some pics of older Nintendo consoles built into rolling TV carts and decided it was time to learn more about them. I wasn't sure how far back Fun Centers went in Nintendo's console-history.

Nintendo Starlight Wii Fun Center The first I'd heard of this program, Nintendo had recently released the Wii and was bundling it with a DVD player and a Sharp AQUOS flat-screen TV. Via online images, I've seen GameCube and N64 rolling carts. The program started in 1992 which makes me wonder if there were any SNES enabled carts.

Nintendo Starlight GameCube Fun Center

Wii FunCenter

These units were more sophisticated than simply stuffing a game console into a box on a rolling cart. There were 23 built-in games and others could be added via Download Manager software installed on a PC (no Macintosh support). As new games were added, an equal numer had to be removed. I"m not sure if the maximum number of games was 23, but Nintendo definitely put a cap on the total number of installed games.

There was a selection system that displayed the available games by box covers. This gave kids an easy way to choose which game to play without having to use individual game discs. Some Fun Center units were older than others... If the unit contained the Mario Kart game, then it was a newer model and able to download additional/replacement titles. If MK was not present, it was an older model that needed to be sent to Nintendo for an upgrade.

Fun Center serial number sticker There were 3 different scenarios for installed games labeled as Menu A. B, and C. Pressing the + and - buttons for two seconds may display a black screen with a version number. Seeing this screen indicated you had Menu C (Otherwise you had Menu B). This let the administrator know which games could be installed.

List of Available Wii Fun Center Games

Not all of these games could be installed at once, but these were the available choices based on the age of the Fun Center system and which Menu it contained.

  1. Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
  2. Boom Blox
  3. Comic Mischief
  4. Carnival Games
  5. Cars Mater-National
  6. Disney Princess Enchanted Journey
  7. Elebits
  8. Excite Truck
  9. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
  10. Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour
  11. Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix
  12. Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warriors
  13. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  14. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  15. Madden NFL '08
  16. Mario Kart Wii
  17. Mario Party 8
  18. 'New Play Control' Mario Power Tennis
  1. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
  2. Mario Strikers Charged
  3. Mario Super Sluggers
  4. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
  5. MySims Party
  6. NBA Live 08
  7. Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots
  8. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  9. 'New Play Control' Pikmin
  10. Ratatouille Mild Cartoon Violence
  11. Rayman Raving Rabbids
  12. ShrekŪ the Third
  13. Surf's Up
  14. Super Mario Galaxy
  15. Super Paper Mario
  16. Wii Play
  17. Wii Sports
  18. Wii Music
  19. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

Nintendo Fun Center - N64 Nintendo Fun Center - N64
Nintendo Fun Center - N64 Nintendo Fun Center - N64

I'm not sure if the Fun Center program has carried forward with the Wii U or what may become of the existing Fun Center Wii units. Of related interest is the recent shutdown of Wii and DS wifi connection service by Nintendo. Since the download of new games for Fun Centers appears to be PC-based, rather than via the Wii Wifi Connection, I'm guessing this has no effect, but I'm curious to know if there are any issues that effect Fun Center device's ability to swap game titles.
May 20, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Jeopardy denies Sonic clue, Dankey Kang was Photoshop'd, not available at Best Buy

Believability is the key component to a good prank - even if it's perpetrated with PhotoShop. When I first saw the Dankey Kang image allegedly from Jeopardy, I wondered how someone could confuse Sonic and Donkey Kong... and not even know it's not Dankey Kang! Not everyone is knowledgeable about gaming, but I would think that anyone who made it onto the TV show, would possess such knowledge.

PhotoShop'd Jeopardy contestant with Dankey Kang answer PhotoShop'd Jeopardy contestant with Dankey Kang answer
PhotoShop'd Dankey Kang NES cart PhotoShop'd Dankey Kang NES cart... not available at Best Buy

I don't watch Jeopardy and have only seen it a handful of times, but it's such a pop-culture thing that this meme works across a lot of boundaries. I've also seen a similar one with a Zelda slant. I love that it's take off to the point where someone might be seeking this rare Dankey Kang NES game. Can't complete your NES collection without it! ;)
May 19, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Google doodle celebrates 40th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube. Digital version can't be smashed

Numbers and patterns are fascinating things. Either you see it and get it or you don't. My interest in numbers, from primes to pi, comes from an inability to "see" the patterns that others do.

One of my first realizations of this was with the Rubik's Cube. When kid's began bringing them to school, some kids were adept at solving them quickly while others - like myself - wanted to throw them against a wall! Then there were the kids who'd never seen one, but were able to solve them in what seemed like a minute or two.

As I churned through the motions, I could see the semblance of a solid color appearing on one side, but all the other sides were a rainbow of dissociated colors. Again, the desire to smash the Cube grew strong. There was a solution. I couldn't see the patterns or the relation of the seemingly disparate colors. I've always been jealous of those who were able to see the logic amongst the chaos. The TV show Numb3rs was appealing to me in a similar way.

Google's Rubik's Cube Doodle

The Rubik's Cube was not created to be a toy. It was invented in 1974 by a Hungarian architect, Erno Rubik, who needed a working model to better understand 3D geometry. It took Erno a month to solve the puzzle he'd created. Comprised of nine colored squares on each side, it can be rearranged in 43 quintillion different ways!

It's hard to believe that the Rubik's Cube is 40 years old! Similarly, I can't believe my age either, but - if nothing else - I can say I lived through the beginning of the video game age and was able to play all the iconic 1980s arcade games as soon as they arrived at our local arcades. Come to think of it... screw the Rubik's Cube! :)
May 17, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Fire up Gallop Racer in preparation for this afternoon's Preakness Stakes

Gallop Racer 2006 for PS2 I willfully admit I know very little about horse racing. But once the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes are on the horizon, I get swept up in the sport. Churchill Downs erected a new enormous Jumbotron which prompted my desire to play Defender on it.

A few weeks ago, I amassed every horse racing game I owned to get in the mood for the KY Derby. To my surprise, I only had a few such games - one of which was a mini-game buried among all sorts of other oddities. Every Spring as the Triple Crown looms, I rant about the dearth of horse racing games.

Gallop Racer was originally created for arcades by Tecmo and later went to the home market. 3 versions were released in arcades beginning in 1996 (sequels in 1997 & 1999). It's one of the few horse racing games with multiple titles in arcades and home consoles! Gallop Racer has been released in North America, Europe, and Japan where it is most popular.

The game's focus has shifted across it's releases. Some releases have sim-like qualities in terms of breeding and buying horses. Extensive parts of the game are outside the races themselves. I'm a little surprised that horse racing hasn't become bigger in gaming - even within embedded mini-games.

Personally, I admire a 2 minute race that can generate week-long celebrations culminating in a day dedicated to the one race! The triple crown is engaging and fascinating.

US Triple Crown Races

  1. Kentucky Derby, 1 1/4-mile (2.0 km) dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY
  2. Preakness Stakes, 1 3/16-mile (1.9 km) dirt track at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD
  3. Belmont Stakes, 1 1/2-mile (2.4 km) dirt track, the longest in thoroughbred racing, at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY
May 16, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Aladdin Deck Enhancer moved a few chips to lower NES game pricing, but too late

Code Masters Logo from 1986-91 We've all heard the developer woes of complying with Nintendo dev regulations during the NES era. Konami even created Ultra so they could circumvent Nintendo's max-output clause. With a lockout chip in place, Nintendo had control of nearly everything playable on their NES. Of course, someone always comes along and builds a better mousetrap...

NES carts were comprised of 4 main elements - the memory control chip, graphics chip, 10NES lock-out chip, and the game ROM. Different titles obviously had different ROMs, so why duplicate all the other stuff? Seems logical, albeit delving into a gray area. The lock-out chip was primarily what gave Nintendo reign over 3rd party developers. Naturally, this was the first place developers explored when seeking "work-arounds" for creating unlicensed (yet compatible) NES games.

Aladdin Deck Enhancer Camerica developed a bypass circuit to avoid clashing with the NES lock-out chip. Once accomplished, they developed the Aladdin Deck Enhancer which contained all that "duplicate stuff" and accepted a smaller game cart that supplied the title-specific ROM chip. The Deck enhancer was a shell that contained the memory chip, graphics chip and the lock-out bypass. There was also a space for a smaller cartridge to connect, thus adding the ROM chip. The Aladdin Deck Enhancer was a similar form factor to and NES cart and easily fit into the NES console like any regular cart.

Aladdin Deck Enhancer The advantage was twofold - Titles could be developed without Nintendo approval and the price per cart was far lower than most NES games. Since the Aladdin Deck Enhancer was only purchased once and contained ¾ of the chips needed to "play a game", the smaller less expensive carts needed only the ROM.

One would think that making unlicensed game s for NES would be frowned upon, but the mentions of it seem very benign and indifferent. However, the biggest problem facing the Aladdin Deck Enhancer was timing. Coming to market in November 1992 was a bit late since both the SNES and Genesis were on the market and leading gamers gloriously into the 16-bit era.

Camerica only released 7 titles for the Aladdin before their demise. Over 20 games were slated for the device and some even appeared in advertisements under the "coming soon" guise.

For both the Deck Enhancer accessory and the NES, Camerica licensed rights to most of the Code Masters game library. This likely worked out better for Code Masters than Camerica. As this accessory came out after the realistic life of the NES console, Camerica was forced to shut down. Code Masters, on the other hand, is still creating video game titles.

Aladdin Deck Enhancer ad Camerica also created several NES peripherals including the wireless NES controller Supersonic The Joystick.
May 15, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today's toys are strikingly gender-centric, but there was nothing girly about Atari's Centipede

girl playing Atari's Centipede In my arcade days of the early 80's I remember the popularity of Centipede, but I also remember seeing more girls playing it. I didn't stop to think about that at the time. No one denies Atari's success with Centipede, but it is often linked with female players. Looking back Centipede's female appeal is quite interesting when contrasted with the stark gender identities propelled by marketing and packaging for today's kids.

When I look down any aisle in Toys R Us I don't see innovation and ingenuity leaping off the shelves - I see color. The aisles containing girl's toys exude a strong pink glow. Those for boys have a more sullen blue tone to them. There are certainly some great toys on those shelves, but many are hidden in that staunch glow of pink or blue. This is one reason I prefer independent toy stores.

The video game area in many large retail stores (Wal-Mart, Sears, Toys R Us, etc) are segregated into their own section with out a "pink" and "blue" designation. I've never seen Bratz, Barbie or My Little Pony games mixed into the girl's toy aisle. Although that probably has more to do with the anti-theft display cases than anything else. Still the "girls" games are mixed in with all the games - which is a good thing.

Then there are the toys that change "colors" and suddenly become appropriate for the other sex. My son and I have seen several toys released for girls that are altered and then marketed to boys. This (corporate money-making scam) idea goes both ways for marketing one toy to all.

Centipede was about poison and killing, right?

girl playing Atari's Centipede Vidiot Magazine Sept/Oct 1982
Back in my arcade days of the early 80s we were certainly subjected to a lot of pink and blue neon lights in arcades, but they weren't gender based. :) As I look back it reminds me of Miami Vice which aired a few years later. Anyway...

Centipede was about shooting that ominous insect, setting off DDT bombs and blasting mushrooms. It may not have the humanoid saving aspects of Defender or the sinister robots of Berzerk, but Centipede wasn't girly... girls just seemed to like it too.

Interestingly, Centipede was developed by Dona Bailey, Atari's only female arcade programmer during her 2 year tenure with the gaming giant. She said she chose to work on the Centipede project since it was the only non-violent project - albeit a few bugs.

Society loves to think gamer girls seek fluffy cuddly games, but the gals tend to be just as hardcore as the guys. When I look at toys and entertainment today and the idiotic techniques used to market them, I'm glad so many women loved and played Centipede even though it wasn't pink!

Photo caption: Game Over! Well folks you've reached the end of Vidiots, but as this magazine has demonstrated there's a wealth of video games out there just waiting for you to test your skill. Whether you're fortunate enough to play them at home or journey to the neighborhood arcade like our lovely miss here. It seems evident that the whole video game phenomenon isn't about to the an end. As a great thinker once observed, they are the living end! Location Courtesy of Bruce Vending, Inc Photo by Omar Newman Weedward Studio.
May 14, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rarely do 2 high-profile politicians identically offer themselves to internet abuse

A few days ago, Presidential First Lady Michelle Obama released a hashtag sign picture in support of the girls kidnaped in Nigeria. Shortly thereafter Ann Coulter mocked the FLOTUS with her own sign. Apparently, none of the White House advisors use PhotoShop or know of it's misuse in creating memes.

Naturally, we had to join the fun and fire up PhotoShop. At the same time... don't think for a minute that Coulter wouldn't be delighted to rid the planet of video games if it gave her a spotlight and some attention.

Michelle wants Atari... not Xbox One Michelle wants Atari... not Xbox One
Don't let Ann Coulter set her sites on video games Don't let Ann Coulter set her sites on video games!

May 13, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari 2600 homebrew, Explosive Diarrhea, will be running down your TV screen this Spring

Atari 2600 homebrew, Explosive Diarrhea by Packrat Games Sometimes a title says it all! Explosive Diarrhea is a homebrew game for the Atari 2600 from Packrat Games. This marks their return to homebrews. It seems that packrat changed ownership and is now set to release more games to the Atari 2600 and Odyssey 2 communities!

From the Packrat website:
Someone at the Redneck family reunion forgot to check if the clams were any good before serving them. Turns out they weren't. So now everyone has to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately for the Rednecks, they held their family reunion next to a minefield and the outhouse is on the other side of it! How many Rednecks can you guide to the outhouse?

Explosive Diarrhea is a cartridge-based game that comes with a full-color manual.

Atari 2600 homebrew, Explosive Diarrhea by Packrat Games
May 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Godzilla homebrew for the Atari 2600 is stomping towards release, following Summer blockbuster

Godzilla will be thrashing into North American theaters this week, but the video game tie-in won't be out for several months. How unusual! To add intrigue... the video game is coming exclusively to Atari's 2600 game console!

OK,I've had my fun. I'm certain a disappointing Godzilla video game will arrive for the Gen 8 uber-consoles, but the real news is this Godzilla homebrew game for the Atari 2600!

Godzilla homebrew for Atari 2600 screen shot
Godzilla homebrew for Atari 2600 screen shot There isn't much info about this game, but this Retro Video Gamer page has been circulated around the retro gaming segments of the Net.

It states that this Atari 2600 Godzilla game has 8 levels, includes Rodan, features city destruction... and most importantly - It's not a Rampage rip-off!

I like the idea and who doesn't love an atari video game tie-in for a Summer blockbuster film! :)
May 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

FLOTUS, Michelle Obama, plays Atari - #RetroGaming

Michelle Obama plays Atari
May 9, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Support and recognition of the Atari landfill dig in Alamogordo comes in many forms & a cool t-shirt

I was surprised by the wide array of new outlets that gave mention to the recent excavation of the Alamogordo, NM landfill. A documentary film crew was in search of hundreds of thousands of Atari games dumped in 1983. Many were sure the games were dumped there as part of an Atari tax write-off during the video game crash of '83, but it has escalated to an urban legend.

They found the stash of 30 year old games and the news media lit up. From archeology blogs to national newspapers, many were eager to report on the desert landfill discovery. Support also came in the form of softgoods! Tee Fury has a commemorative t-shirt of the Atari Dig and it's a really cool design!

Atari Dig t-shirt on Tee Fury
Atari Dig t-shirt on Tee Fury
May 9, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo will use NFC technology in NFP to boost ROI ASAP for 3DS and Wii U - WTF

Nintendo's NFP Mario figure Wait.. what?
Nintendo has apparently been enchanted by the Skylanders' return on investment (ROI) and is planning to release a similar Nintendo Figurine Platform (NFP) that will use the same Near-field communications (NFC) technology. All these acronyms are a mouthful!

Those familiar with Activision's Skylanders or Disney's Infinity games are familiar with bringing different characters into game play via a physical figure. Both these games have a base that connects to the game console and reads & writes info to/from the figurines. Where most games allow character selection at a games outset, these games are geared toward swapping characters with different abilities based on circumstances in the game.

Everyone seems to have advice for Nintendo and the financial issues with poor Wii U sales. Many have suggested putting their renown IPs into mobile devices. Personally, I think Nintendo hardware (3DS / 2DS) offers a better Nintendo experience than a cell phone would deliver. But Nintendo is poised to display their IPs in a new way, via in-store packaging.

The Wii U's Gamepad has a NFC reader built in and can already support a Skylanders-style game. This would allow any developer to produce a NFC game without the additional cost of a base or portal to read the figure's info. The Wii U doesn't have a large enough user-base to make such a leap feasible, so Nintendo is working on a NFC base for the 3DS that would be similar to the Skylanders' portal.

Nintendo's Wii U GamePad is NFC-ready By releasing figures that can be customized across various game titles, Nintendo can let players customize a character that can enter into very different genres of games. The Skylanders figures are suited for the various worlds created in the Skylanders games. Nintendo is hoping to be able to place their iconic characters into uniques games that don't necessarily overlap or connect.

Just as we see Skylanders and Infinity characters in stores, we don't see Mario or Bowser, etc. The NFP would change this. The game aisle would be filled with various Nintendo characters giving Nintendo a lot of recognition and exposure. I see quite a few Nintendo toys (figures & plush) at Toys R Us, but they are not in the video game area - they are in a separate toy aisle. GameStop rarely have any Nintendo toys. Thus connecting figures to games would put more of a Nintendo presence on store shelves. Nintendo plans to show this at E3 and sell them during the Christmas shopping season... alongside Activision's Trap Force.

NFP Outside the Nintendo Gates?

I'm excited by a character that can transcend a genre. Mash-up games are always quite popular - this could take such a concept a lot farther. There are a few games in which I'd love to play as a Skylander! Just as we've seen Mario go from SMB platforms to kart tracks and outer space in the Galaxy series, I'd love to see him in other genres - complete with my in-game customizations.

Where it really gets interesting is what a 3rd party developer might do. With NFC built in to Wii U and coming to 3DS, a developer could add code to have Mario and Luigi wander into all sorts of game scenarios. A freshly paved road is great for cars, but also attracts scooters, bikes and skateboards.

So, in theory a developer could allow any user-customized NFP character to enter their game. Naturally, there are all sorts of legal ramifications and trademarks to deal with, but this technology seems to make the Nintendo IPs a little more accessible. And if nothing else it will make the Nintendo brand more visible!
May 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A Massachusetts town lifted an age-old law banning noisy arcade games in local businesses

Since my teenage years, I've sought out bowling alleys for their often eclectic offerings of arcade games. I'm not much of a bowler, but I can drop quarters like a champ.

arcade noise Since discovering Space Invaders as a kid, I associate bowling and arcade games. Last year I read about a nearby bowling alley that was renovating to become more appealing to a wider audience. More arcade games, right? Nope!

They removed the video games claiming they were a noisy throwback to yesterday's bowling experience. I've never set foot in there and have no intention of visiting a game-less bowling alley.

Recently in the news for removing a bylaw preventing local businesses from offering coin-op arcade games, Marshfield, Massachusetts is now a game-friendly town. It only took 32 years!

Way back in 1982 the town decided arcade games were too noisy for any business and voted their removal and ban! Residents at town meeting recently voted to overturn that 1982 bylaw banning coin-operated video & arcade games.

The vote was over turned by a 203-175 vote which is a pretty slim margin for a majority. In 2014 do that many people have an issue with arcade machines being present in businesses?

It's interesting to note that this is not an old law that's simply sat on the books all this time, nor it this the first time the town has voted on this issue - since it's inception in '82. Voters upheld the ban in 1994 and again in 2011!

The shift in 2014 was a local resident who was tired of being told that local businesses supported the ban. He found enough businesses that would sign a petition and the ban was lifted. Some things are worth fighting for and arcade games rank high on that list :)
May 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Has your favorite joystick successfully navigated a lunar landing? No, a real one!

Apollo 15 logo News of an interesting Joystick auction has been circulating online. It's not your typical eBay fare, this one is being handled by an auction house that deals in rare items.

RR Auction, headquartered in Boston, has been tasked with the auction of a very unique joystick. I loved the stock Atari 2600 joysticks as well as the Wico sticks for both the 2600 & 5200. These joysticks helped me navigate, dominate and annihilate some of my favorite space battle games.

This pales in comparison to the joystick (Flown lunar module rotational hand controller) used by astronaut Dave Scott and flown to the lunar surface on board Apollo 15's Lunar Module Falcon. Now THAT is a joystick!!

Apollo 15's lunar lander joystick With a starting bid of $10,000, this isn't the sort of thing you buy on a lark with dreams of mating it to a 9-pin Atari connector. This is a piece of history! Scott, upon hearing the Lander's trajectory would take them 3,000 feet from their intended landing area, was able to use this "joystick" to control 3-axises, Landing Point Designation, and push-to-talk communication.

Apollo 15 was the 9th manned mission in the Apollo program and the 4th to land on the Moon. This was the first mission in which the Lunar Roving Vehicle was used. The mission operated between July 26 and August 7. 1971.

I love a good game of Lunar Lander, but this Apollo-era artifact gives new meaning to such endeavors! :)
May 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Desperate for new Nintendo hardware - Looking for clues in all the wrong places

I was stoked that the Wii U was coming to market a year before the PS4 and Xbone. I'm less stoked about it's performance in the marketplace. Many Nintendo fans share this feeling. We all wanted the Wii U to get an early foothold and dominate the 8th generation. Some are still hopeful while others are angry. There is also a group that is delusional.
Nintendo keyword meta tag
These folks will turn the slightest provocation into a full-fledged fantasy. Using the "View Source" selection in a web browser, some Nintendo fan saw new nintendo system in the keyword meta tag on Nintendo's E3 website. This discovery triggered a rumor that Nintendo was going to showcase a Wii U replacement at this year's E3 conference.

That text snippet was likely left over from last year's E3. If you know HTML and are at all familiar with the Keyword & Description meta tags, you know they are fairly inconsequential. The contents of these tags are not visible on the web page. They are used by bots, that crawl the page, to help categorize the page. Most search engines ignore or downplay their importance because coders sometimes load these fields with any keywords they think will attract attention.

In the early days of the Internet, it was hard to find a site that didn't try to hide the word "sex" somewhere on the page or hidden in the code. Hoping for new Nintendo hardware because of a meta value is highly unrealistic. The fact that this story swept the Internet, shows how a little belief can perpetuate a large mistake. This is also a useful lesson in double checking facts before repeating nonsense.
May 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Analogue Nt doesn't emulate the NES, it's the Lamborghini of retro gaming

The Analogue Nt From high-end automobiles to high fidelity stereo systems, there is a segment of the population that won't settle for the best. They seek the best of the best! In fidelity circles, audiophiles will tweak their various components in search of the best possible audio quality. Similarly with cars, one might spend years constantly improving a '69 Camaro or adding new performance chips to a Ferrari.

These folks won't be found shopping at Best Buy or Auto Zone. They crave the specialty stores that order parts not readily available or known to most of us. The end result is perfection - in their eyes. The rest of us may consider them obsessive, but perhaps I'm focusing on extremes.

Most of us commute to work in a Chevy or a Toyota while others prefer a Mercedes or BMW. I'm content to listen to CDs through an old DVD player wired up to my stereo. Others prefer the fidelity of vinyl records. These differences are generally accepted, but gaming doesn't offer such options.

The Analogue Nt Even the latest PS4 and Xbone don't have luxury options. Outside of adding larger hard drives, they don't have much of an upgrade path. Certainly the customization one could apply to an automobile doesn't exist in the gaming sector. There is no Cadillac of gaming.

Retro gaming's mods, multi-carts and homebrew games offer more options and customizations than the latest Generation Eight consoles. Analogue isn't content with that. They want to be the high-end of retro gaming. And their NES / Famicom console, the Nt, isn't their first foray into this territory. They formerly released a woodgrain Neo Geo.

Analogue seems to have some experience in delivering high end retro gaming consoles, but still the Internet has an angry reaction to the $499 price tag. We've grown accustomed to those who can afford a Toyota -vs- Lexus -vs- Lamborghini. Some of us have not made the same realization about other products outside the auto industry.

The Analogue Nt I"d love to have one of Analogue's Nt machines. Cut from a block of Aluminum, actual Nintendo boards are salvaged from cosmetically damaged units and embedded in Analogue's device. They provide 4 controller ports and better video/audio output for use on both modern and CRT-style TVs.

Retro market -vs- Free Market

Retro gaming is primarily a used-market comprised of previously owned items. I can't buy an NES at Best Buy or an Atari 5200 at Wal-Mart. Target can't supply me with Intellivision games or a power supply for an Atari 800.

Retro gamers know the market-value for their favorite games and consoles. These prices are largely based on supply and demand. The retro market is very finite in terms of supply - no one is about to flood the market with Circus Atari carts. When a common item appears on eBay at an outrageous price, we know the seller is likely trying to take advantage of those unfamiliar with current pricing.

A new product doesn't fall into these guidelines in the same way. The Analogue Nt may use existing NES / Famicom boards, but it is technically a new product that can be sold for any amount they wish to charge. They are the only retailer of this product. I can't get it cheaper at GameStop. I can't get it anywhere except from Analogue. The price tends to get higher when the item is a niche product. Not too many people want a "new" NES, but those who do are motivated to pay more.

The Analogue Nt Will I get one? Not at $499! I"m a Chevy kind of guy who listens to CDs on a Disc-man. My original NES works just fine and I recently picked up a top-loader model - which are both fine for me. That doesn't mean I can't admire the Nt the way I might drool over a Ferrari.

I love Nintendo and have a fondness for the NES, but I'm happy to play my game library on my NES or occasionally try the Retro Duo clone. I'll even play a few ROMs for games I've read about but can't source the physical carts.

I find it odd that so many folks are angry at the Nt's price - or are they angry that they can't afford it? I don't leer at Ferrari owners knowing I don't own a sleek ride like that. I'm stoked that Black Sabbath and AC/DC still record albums even though I listen to them on a Disc-man or my low-end car stereo.

I love the designs that Analogue has come up with for their former Neo Geo and now the Nt. They are creating a luxury line within the retro community. They've brought a Lamborghini to the Toyota owners of retro gaming. The Nt is obviously being created out of love for the Nintendo platform. It may not be affordable to all, but it brings the spotlight to retro gaming and illuminates the importance of retro gaming and the vibrant diverse people who make up it's ranks!
May 5, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Free Atari E.T. Excavation t-shirt from the Alamogordo landfill sold for $225 on eBay

These Atari E.T. shirts, with the coordinates, were provided free by Microsoft to the first 75 people at the dig site. Both of these auctions below are over and sold.

Atari Excavation t-shirts from the Alamogordo landfill
I'm probably not going to fall into the "control group" on this idea, but if I had been at the landfill on Dig Day, I'd cherish this t-shirt as an amazing artifact of video gaming's history. I'd never put it on eBay - not even if I could net $225!

Atari E.T. Excavation t-shirts from the Alamogordo landfill dig Naomi Kyle is an on-air host for IGN Entertainment's video productions, including The Daily Fix. She was on-site in Alamogordo to cover the dig for IGN.
Atari E.T. Excavation t-shirts from the Alamogordo landfill dig Atari E.T. Excavation t-shirts from the Alamogordo landfill dig as seen on the day of the dig - April 26, 2014

May 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“May the fourth be with you” on Star Wars Day!

May 4th is Star Wars Day! I'm not entirely sure how one celebrates such a day, but you can't go wrong with watching the original trilogy and playing some of the awesome Star Wars Video games!

Have a great day!

May the fourth be with you on Star Wars Day!
May 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Conan played Madden on the Dallas Cowboys' Jumbotron. I want to play Defender at Churchill Downs

Late night talk show host Conan O'Brien got the chance to do something many gamers would love to do. He played Madden NFL Football on one of the world's largest jumbotrons located at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas - Home to the dallas Cowboys.

Conan O'Brien playing Madden on the AT&T Stadium's jumbotron in Arlington, TX Modern sports stadiums are becoming technical wonders with retractable roofs, luxury viewing boxes, amazingly large jumbotrons, and enough technology to outfit a small nation. However not all sports need modernization. Some, like horse racing, can leverage their history and tradition. Today's 140th Kentucky Derby was run much the way it was at it's beginning.

Conan O'Brien playing Madden on the AT&T Stadium's jumbotron in Arlington, TX Horse Racing is steeped in tradition and the Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs, rallies an immense showing for it's annual 2-minute horse race. Mint juleps and large hats rule the day as attendees ponder the year's Triple Crown possibilities.

The horses are as much the stars as the jockeys. Each horse is introduced with an explanation of the creative names that are often based on pop-culture or owner-inspired stories. We were rooting for "Wicked Strong" a name commemorating Boston, MA.

As important as tradition is to the Kentucky Derby, they too understand the viability of technology. You won't see too many visible trappings of our digital world, but this year they had a jumbotron to enable better viewing. Their jumbotron is actually larger that the one Conan played on in AT&T Stadium!

Jumbotrons: Cowboys -vs- Churchill Downs

The 160-foot by 72-foot screen in the Cowboy's AT&T stadium was made my Mitsubishi. Putting it in perspective: It would take 4,920 52-inch flatscreen TVs to fill up that giant screen.

Not to be trumped, the jumbotron at Churchill Downs is 170 feet by 90-feet. It was made by Panasonic at a cost of $12 million. Thus, the additional footage makes me want to fire up a game of Defender at Churchill Downs. Of course it's worth noting that the AT&T stadium has four of it's somewhat smaller jumbotrons!
May 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Colecovision gets the Flashback treatment via AT Games with a 60-game emulated console

At Games is set to launch another addition to it's Flashback line of emulated consoles. This time out, the Colecovision console is packed with 60 built-in games. While "Flashback" has been synonymous with it's Atari 2600 clones, At Games seems to be diversifying it's licensing. Along with this Coleco release, they are simultaneously launching an Intellivision console as well - $39.99, October 2014.

As the various Atari 2600 Flashbacks came to market, one might think each release was adding more of the 400+ titles for the console. As it turned out the console was being refined and altered - presumably to make a more viable product as it moved forward. So, rather than releasing completely different titles with each Flashback, they released the "same old favorites" and a few more titles. Thus, owning 4 Atari Flashbacks only accounts for `25% of the available game library.

The Colecovision only had about 145 titles. Releasing 60 titles via Flashback accounts for nearly half of all the existing titles. This makes it's future a bit different from the Atari variant. There are several titles highlighted on the box, shown on the Toys R Us website, I wonder if this isn't a mock-up since the product image is clearly an original Colecovision while most Flashback packaging display actual product images. Perhaps this is a simple diversion in marketing/packaging, but I wonder how final this design and game-list may be.

Colecovision Flashback by AT Games

The Colecovision Flashback comes with 2 authentic looking controllers with disc-style joystick and keypad. A few overlays are included as well. I'm guessing, but I imagine both original Coleco joysticks and perhaps 2600-style joysticks will work with this device. This Colecovision model, like most Flashbacks, does not have a cartridge slot for original game carts.

Colecovision Flashback by AT Games I have not seen either the Colecovision or Intellivision Flashbacks on the At Games website. Images and info have come from searches on the Toys R Us website which displays pre-order info for both devices.

Also announced was the Intellivision Flashback by At Games.
May 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
May 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Kevin Spacey is alive and there's a new Call Of Duty

Kevin Spacey trends on Twitter via Call Of Duty When celebrity names are trending on Twitter, it's very often because they met an untimely demise. When I saw Kevin Spacey trending I was curious to see what atrocity had befallen him.

As it turns out, he's not dead and there is a new Call Of Duty game on the horizon. Both were trending and as coincidence would have it... the Call of Duty Advanced Warfare trailer features a CGI Kevin Spacey.
May 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

AT Games releases a 60-game Intellivision Flashback with authentic keypad/disc controllers

The Flashback product line has been very Atari-centric for several generations of At games' consoles packed with varied selections of Atari 2600 (and occasional 7800) games. It's origins go back to former Atari developer, Curt Vendel, who helped design the first two Atari Flashbacks. He designed the 2600-on-a-chip for the Flashback 2 allowing games to run natively - without emulation.

Atari licensed the Flashback 3 to At Games who have released a few follow-up models in addition to the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console. It had been rumored that both Intellivision and Colecovision Flashbacks were coming in 2014. It seems that this rumor is ringing true for the Intellivision.

AT Games' Intellivision Flashback

Toys R Us is currently taking pre-orders for the Intellivision Flashback which contains 60 built-in games. It should be available in stores and online sometime after October 2014 (TRU estimates shipping on 10/1/14). The TRU website states, "By Mattel" which presumably means it was properly licensed. It comes with 2 keypad/disc controllers that support the 16 directions of the original. It does not have a cartridge slot to play existing Intellivision game carts.

Some suspect that the controllers will be interchangeable with original Mattel Intellivision controllers - for flashback and original Mattel console. Also included are a few controller overlays which were a staple of the original Mattel Intellivision.

Intellivision Flashback by AT Games

We've seen the Atari Flashback evolve over time and change in hardware design and include more games. With the Intellivision Flashback, there are significantly fewer games by nature of the original Intellivision game library. With only about 125 games, releasing this 60-game clone accounts for almost half of the games that could be included. I wonder if this model will carry on like the Atari version and add a few different titles each year.

Intellivision Flashback by AT Games Also announced was the Colecovision Flashback by At Games.
May 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Stevie plays keyboards... not Atari video games

Each year on April Fools Day I'm fooled by at least one prank in the digital world. Some are really clever while others dangle such wonders, I feel compelled to believe them. From Prominent sites claiming that "Facebook acquired Nintendo" or "Bushnell leveraged a hostile takeover of Atari" - most of these efforts are pretty easy to spot as fakes.

Recently, a fake Atari ad featuring Stevie Wonder has been posted all over. It's rather well crafted from a PhotoShop perspective. The text is so blatantly offensive, it quickly becomes obvious - it's a fake. Some will find it funny, but a larger issue is when people get angry at Atari for trying to capitalize on Stevie Wonder's celebrity to sell their video game console! It's FAKE!

Fake Atari ad with Stevie Wonder Photoshop'd into it This fake Atari ad has been making the rounds on the Web. Do people really think that Atari would enlist Stevie Wonder to promote the Atari 2600?
Stevie Wonder in a Musitronics ad This ad for the Musitronics Mu-Tron III synthesizer was used to create the fake Atari ad.

Some will debate if this is humor or racism, but we should also quantify it's believability. For in that measure is a unique look at our failing educational system. In America, our students have been falling farther behind many other nations for years. We don't graduate leaders. We train followers. We reward those who are quiet and conform. There's certainly value in knowing when to be silent, but it's equally important to know when to question things.

Tell your kids to ask questions in their classrooms. It's one of the best ways to learn. Sitting and listening has it's place, but interaction is invaluable. Those kids who learn to think for themselves and challenge ideas will be the ones to lead the next generation. Lemmings is a game, not a goal.

April 2014 Retro Gaming Articles:

April 30, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Alamogordo Atari Dig holds an educational lesson regarding “going to the office”

After playing Han Solo, Indiana Jones, or Dr. Richard Kimble... what does Harrison Ford do on a day off? What does Joe Perry do when Aerosmith isn't rocking center stage? We like to imagine famous people do whatever they want - anything at all. Sounds good, right? But how many of us will realistically become actors, rock stars or any of those other "jobs" that we think provide generous time-off while generating untold wealth?

Learning from the Atari Landfill dig Most of us feel as though we have get a "real job". I've spent most of my life "going to the office" each day, but I try to put some gusto into those "Learning is fun" conversations I have with my 8-year-old son. Even at his age, he rolls his eyes when I try to explain the benefits of school and having a good education. Then I took a new tact.

When he stated a dislike for Mathematics, I asked him if he liked playing video games. He said, Yes. He responded similarly when I asked if he'd like to design his own video game. At the time, the Alamogordo landfill dig was looming and we had been playing ET on our 2600.

Citing elements from the game, I explained how math was integral to everything he saw and controlled on the screen. From moving ET around the screen to picking up the objects we needed to build the phone. He became mesmerized when I told him that ET "picked things up" by touching them, so the game designer had to keep track of where ET was on the screen and when ET "touched" one of the items - meaning they were both in the same place. He was hooked.

I was in awe of the photos that came from the April 26 excavation that revealed over 30 different titles - stated to be in massive quantities under 20 feet of dirt and garbage. Just watching photos appearing on social media was truly exciting! When I showed them to my son, he instantly recognized several games we like to play. When I asked him what sort jobs he saw people doing in the photos, he mentioned excavator operators, truck drivers, film makers and reporters.

When I told him some of the people were archeologists, he assured me that there wouldn't be any dinosaurs in a landfill. I had him look up "archeologist". He was pretty surprised to discover that there was more to it than dinosaurs. He also thought it was very cool to apply these practices to the Atari landfill legend.

Learning from the Atari Landfill dig No one ever pushed me to do anything interesting and creative, so if my manic passion for retro games can also spur my son to think outside the traditional employment cubicle scenario - that's a win! It wasn't until reading up on the Alamogordo Atari excavation that I heard the term Punk Archeologist. Sounds much more interesting than going to the office... :)

April 29, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rather than a franchise-wide support game, Activision has a new portal for Skylanders Trap Team

Activision's Skylanders Trap Team logo I loved the idea of Skylanders when Spyro's Adventure launched. It was reinventing the way I looked at player interaction. These days we groan at each new game and character, as we wonder where to put all this stuff!

But back in the Fall of 2011, bringing different characters into a game, in real time, to make use of their various attributes was pretty cool. Having physical representations of these characters that controlled their entry into the game via a wireless "portal" - that was very clever.

Three years and Three Skylanders games later, the thrill has worn off. Each new game and cast of characters were fun, but you were limited to that one game's scenario. No such thing existed when I was a kid, but I would never have been content if my G.I. Joes had to repeat the same adventure over and over. Every day my Joes went on new missions, fought new foes and encountered situations as fast as my mind could fabricate their adventures!

Pre-order voucher for Activision's Skylanders Trap Team game After 3 years, our cache of Skylanders figures is fast approaching tripple digits, but when playing... we rotate the same few figures. Many of the early ones have powers and moves that are long forgotten. I liked the powerful, yet slower moving Giants - that was a nice upgrade from the original game. The idea of combining attributes via tops & bottoms of all the Swap Force figures was a bit too much for me.

I was surprised when they released Swap Force, since it necessitated another new portal - our third. I was expecting a traditional game release in which I would buy a game disc that would release a new "world" for our Spyro and Giants figures to explore. Rather than giving our wallets a break, Activision decided we needed another Starter Pack chock full of hardware, a few new figures and the expectation that we'd run out and buy another slew of figures - Trap Force.

I was looking forward to a new game that would take our existing figures to new adventures. I was actually hoping that Activision might find profit in releasing additional game discs to be used with Spyro, Giants and/or Swap Force figures. There may have been confusion as to backwards compatibility, but this exists with the current 3 titles. It's nice they allow all the characters to play in the newer games, but couldn't we have a few more titles to spice up the adventures with each generation of Skylanders?

Activision's Skylanders Trap Team screen shot Imagine my surprise when I saw this Toys R Us pre-order flyer for Trap Team. Another portal and starter pack? I have to admit the Trap Team portal looks pretty cool, but even my son rolled his eyes. We still love to play the Skylanders games, but we really want more playability for each generation. I can understand why they ushered in Giants, but it's always struck me as strange not to put our another game to leverage all the figures purchased for the first 2 Skylanders games.

Upon pondering Activision's marketing strategy, I guess they determined how long this style of gaming would be relevant and then decided how many titles they could jam into that time frame. This franchise feels rushed. I would have liked to see more dedication to each generation rather than simply filling store shelves with more figures. Both my son and I (both avid fans of Skylanders) are going to sit this one out. That plan may change as the holidays approach, but our usual enthusiasm is noticeably absent for Trap Team.

The new adventure:
Kaos has blown up the walls of the feared Cloudcracker Prison freeing the most notorious villains in Skylands. It's up to you and the Skylanders to find and capture them. Using Traptanium, a magic material that can harness the power of the Elements, you have the amazing ability to trap the villains and return them to Skylands to fight for you! Begin the ultimate adventure as you explore Skylands in search of the escaped villains!
April 28, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Monkey Paw's BurgerTime reboot, as BurgerTime World Tour, will end due to licensing

BurgerTime World Tour comes to an end due to licensing If you love BurgerTime, but haven't downloaded BurgerTime World Tour, do it SOON. A licensing issue is causing it's removal in a few days!

As a retro gamer, I have to admit a fondness for BurgerTime. With light elements of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, this very unique game challenges you to make hamburgers - one piece at a time. It's a wonderful platformer that's always fun to play. This 1982 arcade classic has graced such home systems as the 2600, Colecovision, NES, and more!

When I heard Monkey Paw games was publishing an update to BurgerTimefor modern consoles (Wii, PS3, and Xbox) I couldn't wait to download it. Alas... it took a while to come to market.

I thought it was well worth the wait, even though it did not receive critical acclaim. As an old guy who loved the original game, I chalked up the luke warm reception to many players being younger and not necessarily attached to the legacy of the game. Check out the version on the Data East Arcade Classics for Wii

I thought it was a fun and imaginative update to a single screen platformer. The rotating arena was loads of fun. But as they say... all good things come to an end. Burger Time World Tour will be removed from online stores on April 30 fue to licensing issues. This isn't uncommon with such reboots. I'm sad to see it go, but glad to have had the opportunity to play it (and own it).

If you haven't downloaded a copy, it's on sale and definitely worth the lower price. It will vaporize soon, so act quickly. Long live the Chef!
April 27, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Conspiracy theorists question the good condition of Atari detritus excavated from the Alamogordo landfill

ET game found in the muck at the Alamogordo Landfill While we have aging frat-boys romping through Pacific Northwest forests in search of Bigfoot, there are others who still dispute NASA's Moon landing in '69. The internet has given a "microphone" to anyone who wants to share a mind-addled idea or opinion.

These individuals seemingly scan the Net for mirth that fuels their need to be bitter and angry. They post their frustrations into any input-box they can find on the Web while their parents quietly discuss the best way to reclaim their basements for laundry and storage needs.

I don't recall the source, but I recently came across a brilliant challenge that everyone should pose to themselves prior to posting to social media:
If you wouldn't say it on a public stage in a crowded auditorium, don't post it to social media!

Imagine if people actually thought before posting to these online services. That would be wonderful, but is hopelessly unrealistic. You can't have heros without villans, thus we struggle onward doing our best to react properly with grace and accord.

How the fuck can someone cry "Fake" only 20 minutes after the Atari Landfill Legend is verified by archeologists, filmers, fans, and those licensed to drive life-size versions of my favorite Tonka trucks? Do these conspiracy theorists honestly believe the crew brought a box of muddied ET game boxes into the Alamogordo landfill, dug a hole and then emerged victorious with faux relics of this Atari lore?

ET game found in the muck at the Alamogordo Landfill I was following the action on social media and admittedly was stunned by how quickly they found Atari product and the good condition of many items. I'd have thought that anything paper-based would have disintegrated years ago into a gooey paste that would ruin anything in close proximity. I was made aware of a thing I largely ignored in school; Science!

I have Atari 2600 games on my bookshelf that are in worse condition than some of the landfill finds. Apparently, the culprit is oxygen. While we find it necessary for life, it can have ill effects on items we'd like to preserve. Buried in a landfill, oxygen is forced out under the massive weight of dirt, cement and garbage piled atop the Atari games. This lack of oxygen and water plays a role in unintentional preservation.

Myth vs Fact in the Atari Legend

Rumor had it that Atari dumped 14 truckloads containing millions of ET The Extraterrestrial games into a New Mexico landfill. Generally, Atari fans sought answers to three components of the Atari Legend.

  1. Did Atari really dump excess product into a landfill?
  2. How much was really dumped and did it include games and hardware?
  3. Were other games besides ET dumped?

1 - Did Atari really dump excess product into a landfill?
Bloated know-it-alls have quickly stepped forward to mock doubters of the Atari Legend's basis. They chortle as though they once had Sunnyvale swipe-cards to Atari's HQ (they did not) and had even driven one of the Alamogordo-bound trucks.

For average folks, like myself, our connection to Atari are the countless childhood hours wiggling a joystick in front of the family TV and the excessive hours similarly spent as adults. Most rational people did indeed wonder if Atari really dumped product into a landfill and was it the one in Alamogordo? The Atari community is full of gracious knowledgeable people. I become vexed with people who are so desperate to validate their knowledge that they belittle others in the process.

ET at the Alamogordo Landfill 2 - How much was really dumped and did it include games and hardware?
Many of us, upon accepting the idea of an Atari Landfill, wondered if prototype hardware or any hardware might be in Alamogordo. As to quantity, "Millions" has a nice ring to it, but coupled with the notion that it was all ET games... did they really have millions of unsold ET carts? Experts in this area pointed out that the El Passo, TX warehouse contained software/games, not hardware. Hardware was in the Sunnyvale location. It was further noted that less than one million games were dumped.

3 - Were other games besides ET dumped?
The Atari Legend has been so closely associated with the ET game, it has been widely accepted that ET alone was dumped in the landfill and - being the worst game ever made - it caused the video game crash of 1983. All untrue, but many people wondered what titles were buried and did they have any commonality? Were there any "good" games or was the dump comprised of awful poor-selling games. ET was certainly unearthed in Alamogordo, but they also found over 20 other titles as well. We saw Phoenix, Centipede and Raiders of the Lost Ark in the photos. I heard mention of Defender and Space Invaders.

A Few More Discoveries

Apparently they found some CIB (albeit smashed) games with price tags from various retailers. That might indicate that dumped games were not simply sitting unsold in storage, they may have been returned by retailers.

From NPR:
The game's finding came as no surprise to James Heller, a former Atari manager who was invited by the production to the dig site. He says in 1983 the company tasked him with finding an inexpensive way to dispose of 728,000 cartridges they had in a warehouse in El Paso, Texas. After a few local kids ran into trouble for scavenging and the media started calling him about it, he decided to pour a layer of concrete over the games.

The dig seemed to span 2 days (Friday & Saturday, April 25-26, 2014) and revealed that the landfill in Alamogordo, NM contained a lot of Atari games. There were games in boxes as well as scattered manuals, document and carts. Everything seemed to be related to games as opposed to internal Atari documents. The Fuel film crew along with archeologists confirmed the site as the legendary Atari Landfill. Some say this brings this tale to a close, but it confirms an interesting and pivotal time in video gaming history - the crash of '83.

The next question is how long until cracked carts and tattered manuals start appearing on eBay? Can the city of Alamogordo turn the Atari Landfill into a profit center for gaming tourism. :)

Here are a lot more Atari Landfill Dig images.
April 26, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

April 26, 2014 is the day the Atari Legend was verified in the Alamogordo, NM landfill

ET games found in the Alamogordo Landfill
I was skeptical. Local government and the local EPA had issues. Did they even know where to dig? What would be there after 30 years?

I've pondered the landfill rumor for decades and was initially excited about the excavation. As the dig-date approached there was little public info about the dig and it seemed as though they may not have an exact location. I feared they would find nothing and claim the legend was fake. Despite an unknown outcome, I was excited to see what would transpire.

Friday, the Fuel team moved in to remove the upper layer of dirt and garbage. The Atari gold mine was thought to be 20 feet down. On Saturday morning, I fired up a few social media sites, unsure of what to expect. The photos and info started rolling in and created an awesome morning of watching them unearth all sorts of Atari game cartridges from the legendary landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. I was on the edge of my seat and totally stoked when they announced the first Atari item found and then it kept coming!

Fans arrive at the Alamogordo landfill for the Atari Dig Fans arrive at the Alamogordo landfill for the Atari Dig.
Ernie Cline drove up to the Alamogordo landfill in a DeLorean Ernie Cline drove up to the Alamogordo landfill in a DeLorean.

The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence.
Removing excess dirt to reach the game carts buried below Removing excess dirt to reach the game carts buried below.

The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence.
Atari legend Howard Scott Warsaw & the Fuel guys who brought this idea to life Atari legend Howard Scott Warsaw & the Fuel guys who brought this idea to life.

First tweet of a finding at the Alamogordo Atari dig site
An excavator at the Alamogordo Atari dig site An excavator at the Alamogordo Atari dig site.
The first cart found - ET The first cart found - ET.

Close up of the first games found in the Alamogordo landfill Close up of the first games found in the Alamogordo landfill. They were expecting to find ET games, but the Atari warehouse was filled with many unsold titles. The Centipede game looks like it was still shrink wrapped.
Mike Burns with the first cartridge Mike Burns with the first cartridge - ET.

Jeff Rubenstein with a rescued Atari ET game in Alamogordo Jeff Rubenstein with a rescued Atari ET game in Alamogordo.
A copy of Phoenix found in the New Mexico landfill A copy of Phoenix found in the New Mexico landfill.

ET and Raiders of the Lost Ark games in the landfill ET and Raiders of the Lost Ark games in the landfill.
Buckets full of discarded Atari games in the Alamogordo landfill Buckets full of discarded Atari games in the Alamogordo landfill.

Game Titles Recovered from the Landfill

This list was compiled by tech-writer Taylor Hatmaker who took many photos during the excavation. Her list comes from titles viewed in her photos from the Alamogordo Landfill dig. Note the inclusion of an Atari 5200 title, Defender.

  1. Adventure
  2. Air-Sea Battle
  3. Asteroids
  4. Berzerk
  5. Breakout
  6. Centipede
  7. Circus Atari
  8. Combat-CX-2601
  9. Defender (Atari 2600)
  10. Defender (Atari 5200)
  11. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  12. Haunted House
  13. Human Cannonball
  14. Missile Command
  15. Ms. Pac-Man
  1. Night Driver
  2. Pac-Man
  3. Pele's Soccer 
  4. Phoenix
  5. Qix
  6. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  7. Real Sports: Football
  8. Space Invaders
  9. Star Raiders
  10. Super Breakout
  11. Superman
  12. Swordquest: Fireworld
  13. Vanguard
  14. Warlords 
  15. Yars' Revenge

A lot of great pictures were uploaded to social media sites. I've grabbed a bunch of images and put them on a Pinterest board: Atari Landfill Dig images.

April 25, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Party like a rock star at Alamogordo's very own Atari landfill - April 26, 2014

ET Landfill image Are you heading for Alamogordo, NM this weekend? You're invited to attend the excavation of what Fuel Industries purports to be the remnants of a 30 year old burial of game cartridges, debt and shame. The red-tape has been removed and all the forms properly filled out. Excavators ready! Spectators are apparently welcome on site, on april 26, to see what they uncover.

I've loved the lore of the Atari Landfill legend and have longed to garner a shovel, hop a fence and see if I couldn't find a hunk of that distinctive black plastic. I was initially excited by media company Fuel Industries showing interest in exploring the fabled landfill in Alamogordo.

But I had a change of heart when they began talking about excavators and Microsoft's financial backing. Suddenly, it seemed like a corporate money-making adventure. I decided I was fine with the mysterious aspects of this story.

Two distinct goals seemed evident.
  1. Determine if any Atari product was actually dumped in Alamogordo
  2. Find remnants of discarded Atari product
Verifying that any of this actual occurred should be as simple as a trip to a Town Hall or local EPA office. You can't dump 10 trucks full of stuff in a landfill without some paperwork being filed. Going into a massive acreage of a landfill in search of 30 year old remains of gaming history is a needle-in-a-haystack venture without some coordinates or location documentation.

I've been questioning the "location" for quite a while. Does anyone really know where this stuff was allegedly buried? I hadn't heard a definitive "YES" and I'm beginning to see why. There are some forensic techniques that allow locational inference based on relational points like a skyline, mountain range, monument, etc. Something in the distance can be used to approximate a relative location.

Recently, some photos have [conveniently] surfaced that purport to show Atari product dumped in the landfill with a layer of cement securing it. Using structures shown in the photo's background, the excavation team can approximate where the photo was taken.

On site at the Atari landfill excavation

Come one, Come All! Visit Alamogordo!

One of the stranger facets of this operation is the public invitation to come out and see the dig in action. I've heard that Alamogordo officials wanted to use this Atari adventure to generate some tourism dollars, but rarely is the general public invited to a construction site.

It only takes one minor civilian-gamer injury to turn this into a cost-draining lawsuit. This isn't like attending a sporting event with stadium seating. Will there be a police presence to keep curious gamers from diving into the pit for a chunk of Atari history?

I wish them the best and I'm very interested to see what they find and how many atari fans show up at a landfill in New Mexico. This could be an amazing documentary if they find the goods!

From the Xbox web site:
Become a part of gamer history. Unearth the truth behind the ultimate urban legend. We're excited to announce that the excavation of the long-rumored "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" video game burial site will occur on April 26, 2014 and will be open to the public. Spectators are invited to watch the team uncover the infamous Atari game cartridge grave.

E.T. The Extraterrestrial - the Video Game

If you only learn one thing from this excavating adventure - let it be known that 99.9% of people who say Atari's E.T. The Extraterrestrial is the worst game ever made have NEVER played the game. It's not a great game nor a good game. However, labeling it "the worst game ever made" is almost always a lemming-like repetition of prior ignorant comments! Don't judge a book by it's cover! Fire up your Atari 2600 or Stella and give ET a chance. If nothing else, you'll probably see how maligned this game has been by those too lazy to even play it once!

If you're on-site in New Mexico and they don't find any Atari dregs in the landfill - don't despair - go check out Alamogordo's Derbal Remedy Roller Derby ladies!

Alamogordo, New Mexico's Derbal Remedy Roller Derby If you've never embraced Roller Derby, you may want to check out Jam City Rollergirls and RollerGames!
April 24, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Memorable games that have made the leap from great memories to mobile gaming platforms

Written by guest author, Jared Harris.

The word "classic" doesn't mean what it did in the past. When seminal works by Victor Hugo and Mark Twain and certain video games from the 1990s are all referenced as being of a classical nature, you know the term is being overused. So for this post, I'm going to reference some of the aforementioned video games that were popular in America during the '90s, but I won't be using the word "classic," as is perhaps often used when accompanying these games. Instead, I'll refer to these video games as "memorable", and why you can revisit those fond memories you've made when playing (or watching someone else play) popular console games from 20 or so years ago.

With smartphones, a lot of old games have gotten new life by being available for iPhone devices, Android phones, or both. And they're a lot cheaper than most games you'll find on PS Vita or Nintendo DS. As Verizon Wireless states, "games on mobile devices usually run less than $5, with most hovering in the $1 to $2 range and many available in a much tastier free-to-play flavor." For those gamers with smartphones and perhaps not-so-deep pockets, this means you can enjoy these games once again on the cheap. So without further adieu, let's take a look at some of the most iconic of these memorable games:

Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim All the fun of a wacky, hyper-Nickelodeon cartoon but in the form of a video game. Now you can play as Jim and his super-cool spacesuit through all the challenging, why-did-they-make-this-so-difficult levels you remember stressing over as a kid. All joking aside, this is a fun game, but trading a controller for a touchpad can make it harder to control. Still, there's a remedy for that: certain controllers for mobile will cost you less than a next gen console game, as noted by CNET. So grab a better controller and fight through the beautifully imagined universe of Earthworm Jim. And the weird acrobatic moves Jim can perform are as entertaining as ever, for just $4.99.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Gamespot says this one is "as much fun now as it was in 1992." I certainly remember playing this title for hours on end as a kid. The rings, the robots, the characters - this is a game that represents what was right about Sega in the '90s. The 3D graphics still look great on smartphones, and there are even exclusive new levels for this mobile port. For $2.99, it's a cheap ride down Memory Lane.

Street Fighter II Collection
This mobile game collects three titles in one: Street Fighter II The World Warrior, Street Fighter II Champion Edition, and Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting. "Hadouken!" to your heart's content on your smartphone as you battle Blanka, Ryu, Ken, and more in one of the most popular fighting franchises in video game history. Capcom's hit goes for $3.99.

The first game in the Wolfenstein series showed us how fun it could be to blow away monsters alongside Third Reich thugs. Blasting your way through Castle Wolfenstein will remind you how fun first person shooters can be, and for $1.99, it's a small price to pay for an enjoyable, gun-toting adventure.

The final on the game on this list wasn't technically released in the '90s, but it's (incredibly!) memorable just the same. It's all the fun of laying bricks with none of the hard, back-breaking labor. The pick-up-and-play design of this retro game is ideal for busy smartphone users who just have a few minutes to play a round. Plus, who doesn't love that theme song? Play it for $2.99.

I've had experience playing most of these games on consoles and smartphones. The downside of playing on smartphones is the lack of a controller, which can make it more challenging as these games were made with the intent of using a standard button-mashing controller to hold. Since that can be corrected, the negatives are only a smaller screen and the lack of nostalgia you get from playing these games on their original platforms. The convenience and portability of smartphones far outweighs the negatives when it comes to playing these games again, so I certainly recommend giving them a try on your mobile device.

About the author:
Jared Harris is a writer, husband, and lover of technology. And he still plays Nintendo 64 games, often winning any race against his wife in Mario Kart 64 (as long as he can play as Yoshi).
April 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“Print” wasn't dead during Sega's racy magazine ads, but digital has to ditch the silos

If print is now dead and digital subscriptions are the new "page turners", what will become of scantily clad women in advertising? It will likely proliferate. But, not in an awesome digital manner where your content is available in a variety of forms. It will be constrained by the same old silos that have hampered informational flow since the advent of numbered pages. Information needs to be freed and allowed to be ingested in new ways.

Your local 7/11 convenience store many have a small shelf of porn magazines, but the Internet has a stockpile of porn that likely necessitates more storage space than the collective written works of human history - times three! With that much porn, we can't rely on Larry Flint to deliver a monthly glossy magazine. Society demands a digital version that is cross-referenced, databased and contains embedded video.

Sega Saturn's Beautiful Naked ad Not long ago I bought an external drive that was defined in Terabytes whereas my previous drives were quantified in Gigabytes. After Terabyte comes a Petabyte then Exabyte then Zettabyte and finally Yottabyte. As society's storage needs rise, IT departments already have descriptors for all your needs - pornographic and otherwise.

Sega's "Beautiful naked woman" ad for the Saturn garnered a lot of attention in 1995. They used an attractive blonde to get attention while at the same time claiming their games were far more compelling than a beautiful naked woman. With competition from Sony's PlayStation, they wanted every available advantage. Sex sells and it always will.

It seems that society is beginning to adjust the gender-divide and put equality in the forefront - which is a good thing. But this age in which booth-babes are no longer an acceptable lure for trade show attendees and "Gamer Girl" is becoming an antiquated term, why isn't the death of print leading to new strides in digital presentation?

Tablets use "page turn" metaphors to display paged text - identical to our current books and magazines. Isn't the point of NOT having a physical paper product is that you can interact with it in a better fashion. Books and magazines have an established flow - front to back. Sure, you can read the last chapter first to quickly solve a mystery novel's murder or skip to a magazine article of particular interest, but digital needs to offer a LOT MORE than that to kill off "print".

Isn't the point of digital to alter the way we interact with stories and information... and make it better? Pages are part of the physical world. By retaining this familiar metaphor, digital cheats the reader by keeping our info in silos - each book or article is sectioned off from others. There's no interaction, collaboration or ability to ingest info in a more appropriate or customized manner.

Sega Mega Drive and GameGear ads

I'm not sure if nudity and masturbation translate into sales, but I like Sega's attempt at breaking the mold and taking their ads closer to the fringe. Good Stuff. The 2 ads below gave me chuckle. These are risky ads and allowed Sega to distinguish themselves from the competition. Digital publications need to do the same thing - take risks and present info that isn't bound by traditional publishing models. Free the content!

Sega - The More You Play With It, The Harder It Gets Sega MegaDrive: "The More You Play With It, The Harder It Gets".
Sega - Something To Do With Your Hands That Won't Make You Go Blind Sega GameGear: "Something To Do With Your Hands That Won't Make You Go Blind".

Ditching Digital Silos

Farmers have silos that both contain and separate crops. Silos prevent the contents from mixing. This is where digital is today. Duplicating a paper product on a tablet is beyond lame. Why would I spend money on a Kindle to sit and swipe my finger across the screen to simulate a page turning. Are you kidding me? The real crime is that Amazon is a far more innovative company than to simply replicate the same old thing on a fancy new tablet.

I'm sure they have good reason for the slow path to true innovation, but here's what I want. Lawyers and copyright holders don't want me to have this, but this is what I want. Don't feed me your monthly regurgitation bundled into a digestible 40-page magazine. I want to have my interests delivered to me from a variety of sources. Don't give me one view. News outlets do this - they tell us what they think is important. Their idea of important is tied to who will pay the most ad revenue. What I want is essentially what My Yahoo already delivers via their website. So, why would I buy a tablet on which I get a preconfigured periodical in a silo - just send me the PDF!

Information should be open and customizable, not trapped in a silo!
This also applies to books. I love Stephen King novels! I have them all - in hardcover. Why might I buy them in digital format? It has to do with ridding the digital world of the silo mentality. Having all of King's books in digital format with the ability to cross-reference places, characters and situations, would be a great addition. This concept applies to estranged books too that may not have any obvious similarities until the reader is able to reference one with the other. Shed the silos!

When magazines can no longer be rolled up to swat a fly, they need to break the traditional "reading" model and make that tablet worth it's price tag. Going digital isn't about replicating current print formats on a screen. It's about bringing a new innovative reading experience to the subscriber. If print is really dead, show me the killer... I haven't seen it yet. Be like Sega! Push the boundaries and roll hard with an aptly placed dick-joke :)

April 22, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rumors of Sears clearing out older Wii U Nintendoland bundles for $99 swept around the net

Sears is a retail dinosaur which is a shame. Their inability to modernize and regulate inventory often leads to awesome prices, alas, dinosaurs - retail and otherwise - don't last long and eventually fade away. I often find excess product in their various departments that they seemingly can't get rid of. Their shelf-clearing strategy is to drop prices to ridiculous lows. I know they're on their way "out", but I love the prices I sometimes find there.

Wii U at Sears Over the past 2 days articles from reliable sources began corroborating stories of Sears selling the older Wii U Nintendoland bundle for $99. This is usually the sort of idiocy I roll my eyes at every April first, but no one is three weeks late to that party.

Sears had a $99 Wii U Nintendoland blowout!
The Nintendoland bundle was replaced with the newer Mario/Luigi games bundled with the 32GB Wii U console. With that in mind, it made sense that Sears was up to their old trick of discounting way below rational pricing to clear out inventory.

So off to Sears I went. I really wanted to call first, but I wouldn't want to miss out on a great Wii U price simply because some phone rep was too lazy to "really" go look at their inventory.

Online there was some confusion about the pricing. Many were saying it was $99, but images of receipts seemed to indicate that the discount was actually $199. Some folks explained that the units were marked at $199 but rang up at the register for only $99. Hard to say if this is part of Sears' antiquated operations or there's some discrepancy in pricing as stores get around to altering their SKUs.

Quest for a Wii U

With adequate credit and a CD-R full of BabyMetal I headed to the mall. Part of Sears' "we won't leave the 90's" mentality is the internal maze. Unlike Wal-Mart where you can traverse it's enormity to get to the tube sock aisle, Sears forces you to walk through every department.

Wii U Gamepad With Electronics in the center of their retail trap, it didn't matter if I entered through toddler-wear or women's intimates, I still had to meander through the Craftsman tools and a Housewares section full of bread-makers and bag-less vacuum cleaners.

In the Electronics department - where I've found excellent deals in the past - I spied a small glass case containing all their consoles. Yes, one small case held a few Xbones, PS4s and Wii Us. I lured a rep away from the unbranded tablets and asked him to sell me a Wii U. The box in front was the newer bundle, but I had high hopes, and anxiety, that one of the other boxes would be a $99 ticket to play. No such luck. When I inquired about the Nintendoland bundle he asked if I had called yesterday.

Sears Video Arcade That said it all. He told me they get weekly deliveries of a few systems and he cited having just received 3 PS4s - yes... Three of them. This spoke volumes to Sears' inability to compete and made me wonder how this could be the same aggressive company that insisted on their own model of the Atari 2600 back in the day.

Sears bought the rights to sell the Atari 2600 in their stores and sold them between 1977 and 1983. They changed the name to Sears Video Arcade and revamped the packaging as a Sears brand. Underneath the marketing was Atari's VCS CX2600 in both 4 and 6-switch models.
April 22, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It's Earth Day- Go plant a tree... and play a few retro games!

We're assuming that gaming is an appropriate celebratory activity... In case we're wrong, we're also moving a few seedling pine trees from the garden to a better location in the yard.

Retro Gaming Earth Day 2014
We're glad to see Google's inclusion of the Dung Beetle this Earth Day. Their logo wears dung well ;)
Google includes the Dung Beetle on Earth Day 2014
April 21, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Gameboy turns 25! Even today a Nintendo handheld still trumps a smart phone full of mobile games

It's hard to believe the Nintendo Game Boy is 25 years old. It may be just as hard to believe that millions of gamers have never owned or played a Gameboy! Having lived through most of video gaming's colorful history, I forget that some of us were born long after many of my favorite consoles left retail shelves.

There were so many great games that we all suffered through in monochrome. The Atari Lynx brought color to handheld gaming just a few months after Gameboy's release. It's odd that the Lynx didn't catch on. Nintendo certainly had a foothold on gamers back in the day... and today!.Happy Anniversary, Gameboy.

Check out a few of the earlier handhelds that led up to Nintendo's Gameboy. Nintendo Gameboy's 25th anniversary When it comes to mobile gaming, my interests come and go in strong waves. I wish I could even out my desire to game-on-the-go. I'll play Angry Birds or Flappy Whatever-clone on my phone and a new DS game piques my need to spend time on a Nintendo DS, but it rarely lasts.

I'm beginning to think I'm the problem. I've found plenty of great games for Android and Nintendo's DS/3DS. My son recently got me hooked on Clash of Clans and I'm loving 8-Bit Jim's Island Adventure and Turkey Chase. There's definitely something oddly alluring about those "Flappy" games that keeps me coming back. If I'm on line at the bank or waiting on a meeting, my phone seems to have something to offer.

Nintendo 2DS handheld Then, I bought a Nintendo 2DS. That cost-savvy 3DS-downgrade has reinvigorated my lust for my DS game collection as well as a need to discover a new batch of 3DS games. In short, the 2DS has made me realize why mobile gaming on smart phones has yet to equal the experience Nintendo delivers so well via their own proprietary hardware.

The price and gimmicky nature of 3D on the full-on 3DS made me skeptical to upgrade my DS Lite. I hovered over the demo model at my local GameStop, but I couldn't get the 3D to impress me. I found it tricky to view the 3D effect with the hard-mounted demo unit, so lolling around on the couch didn't seem as if the experience would gel.

But the 2DS won me over. I wanted one last Fall, but rumor of a green Luigi model kept me from the register. I bought a blue 2DS for my son for Christmas. We were both impressed with it. From Face Raiders to Street Pass, it has reminded me why Nintendo is king. Their Wii U hasn't lived up to expectations (yet?) but their game pad may have been ahead of it's time for both consumer understanding and developer's integration.

Regardless, the 2DS has unique features that set it apart and it's game library - from both Nintendo and 3rd party - delivers a gaming experience quite different from smart phones. The 2DS won me over in an instant!
April 20, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy Easter!

Atari Easter
Whether you celebrate Easter at a church or an egg-hunt, they day will be better with the inclusion of some retro gaming! There's nothing better than discovering a cool Easter Egg in your favorite game :)
April 12, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

We're taking a week off for Easter and video games... mostly for gaming

Springtime Easter Skylanders My son is coming up for Easter vacation. We plan on spending every waking hour having insane amounts of fun.

With that plan in mind, I'm taking a break from the online world so we can game like maniacs.

Play lots and keep it retro! See you all in a week!
April 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Aztec is possibly the first microprocessor enabled arcade game, but not the 1st Pong-clone

It has long been asserted that Midway's Gun Fight was the first arcade game to employ a microprocessor. Originally it was designed in Japan as Western Gun by Tomohiro Nishikado (who went on to develop Space Invaders) for Taito in January 1976. However, it was the North American version (known as Gun Fight), designed by Dave Nutting, that holds the claim of being the 1st arcade game to use a microprocessor.

FPMC's Aztec arcade Flyer Then along comes Pennsylvania gaming company PMC Electronics with Aztec, around March 1975, with the claim of employing a microprocessor. Chronologically speaking, Aztec predates Gun Fight potentially taking the title of first microprocessor-enabled arcade game. You might not guess from it's name, but this cocktail table game is a Pong clone!

You'd think a peek at the service manual might reveal an answer to the microprocessor quandary. It's not that simple with Aztec. The generally accepted manual for this game is titled "Aztec Princess", so right off, we have to wonder if this is relevant to Aztec.

If you thought Aztec was an odd name for a Pong clone, adding "Princess" doesn't do much to clarify the matter. The service manual actually states you can "use a cold water pipe" in the event you don't have a grounded 3-prong electrical outlet. Yikes!

If we accept that Aztec and Aztec Princess are indeed the same, we can see possible evidence of a microprocessor in the manual. There is a handwritten Logic Board Parts List seems to include a 4040/4004 IC reference, which may be the Intel microprocessor introduced in 1974. It has also been suggested that the manual's reference is actually to a CD4040 counter. This is far beyond my expertise as you shall see in the next section...

PMC's Wham Bam arcade Flyer

PMC's Wham Bam arcade Pong-clone

As much as I'd love to solve this arcade detective narrative... I only came across Aztec's microprocessor story when looking up PMC Electronics regarding another Pong clone called Wham Bam. I found this arcade flyer on Pinterest and instantly thought that the attractive brunette must be close to seven feet tall!

Many of the arcade cabinets I've dwelled in front of are about six feet tall and this gal clearly towers above this Wham Bam game. I was able to solve this mystery. Wham Bam is only 62" high, making the fetching brunette about 5' 7".

Sometimes a little bit of research can lead to an interesting end. My electronics know-how lets me enjoy the microprocessor story, but leaves me ill equipped to solve it. On the other hand I wouldn't have come across this story if that cute brunette hadn't seemed extremely tall next to a Wham Bam arcade cabinet. :)

Pong and it's many clones

Allan Alcorn developed Pong for Atari, who released it in 1972. As it's success became apparent, Nolan Bushnell knew it would only be a matter of time before clones invaded his foray into video amusements. Pong was a tremendous success and was cloned in arcades and the home market. The clone market drove Bushnell to continually push the envelope to add enhancements to existing games as well as create diverse original titles. Pong was the birth of an industry we've all come to love (most of the time).
April 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Free Chips With Every Renault 9 - a French car w/ free chips in the form of a Speccy

The 80's were truly the decade of decadence. I remember a Cleveland radio advertisement by a local Porsche dealer who was giving away a free Kia with the purchase of a Porsche - the Kia would be your "station car" while the Porsche was safely garaged for weekends. Those were the days, but those good times reached far beyond Ohio.

Free Sinclair Spectrum computer with purchase of a Renault 9 French manufacturer Renault made two variations of their popular 80's family car. The later offered a hatch-back style. In North America, these 2 models were manufactured by American Motors Corporation (AMC) as the Renault Alliance and the Renault Encore. Alas, my grandfather used to drive an AMC Hornet and I was a die-hard fan of the Pacer - as seen in the Wayne's World films. Good times!

Free Chips With Every Renault 9 ad Imagine going to a car dealership and finding they were giving you a free computer with the purchase of a car. Renault did just that with the lure of a Sinclair Spectrum 48K computer! It sounds like a great way to sway shoppers toward Renalt. It kind of shows how clever the marketing was to pull off something like that. This promo was offered during April & May of 1984.

Personally, I'd have been more inclined toward an AMC Pacer with a free Atari 800 computer, but there's more to this deal than a random car with an under-appreciated computer. The Spectrum was affordable to many and helped open up and establish the career path of a game designer.

Think about the creative wave that followed in the wake of the Spectrum. That quirky device launched a generation into programming some of the most uniquely diverse games that we've ever seen. The Spectrum opened up all sorts of varied folks to the possibility of computer programming. I wonder how many of them drove renaults?
April 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Forget the groceries! I want to “Dash” through GameStop, Toys R Us, Best buy, WalMart...

When Will Amazon Dash work with Video Games? Say it or scan it? Hell yeah!
"Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, please!"

Wait, what? Oh...
Amazon's new trial service is only for groceries. Pretty slick. Stand in your kitchen and scan that empty box of Cheerios before you toss it in the trash and Amazon will add it to your grocery list to be shipped to your house. Good thing you have wifi.

Amazon's new hardware - Dash - integrates with your Amazon Fresh account and will push food your way as fast as you can "cloud" your grocery list.

It began in your browser when Amazon let you casually surf any site on the web and click a button to let Amazon know, "I want this". Amazon would then set it aside for you to add to your cart and go through the standard purchase process. They'e streamlined and added some more technology to this scenario to deliver Dash as a part of Amazon Fresh - their grocery delivery service.

Currently testing in small markets, invites were sent to select Amazon Fresh customers. Testers can use the bar code scanner or microphone to transfer their grocery needs to Fresh HQ. Sounds simple, but I'm all set when it comes to ensuring my pantry is laden with hot dogs and tater tots. I want games. Electronics. Toys. Gizmos. I want to yell, "Gimme!" into the magic wand an peer out my window for the delivery truck. Or in Amazon's case perhaps it would be a delivery drone.

Scream like you want it!

That may have sounded a bit too sexual. I'm a note-taker. I make lists. I might be out on the town and see a video game I want to buy or remember something that should be on one of my lists. With that in mind I'd love to frolic through retail wonderlands, scanning bar codes and surreptitiously sending my cravings to Amazon's cloud. Similarly, I'd gleefully yap into a microphone that would deliver my desires to that same cloud system. Don't forget, that Amazon sells nearly everything at your local mall for less money.

Amazon Dash No more waiting in lines or going to midnight video game release events. I can become aware of a product and either scan it during a trip to the store or talk to Amazon's device to ensure a speedy delivery. My retail fantasy involves a slightly different set of requirements. The Dash is meant for home use as it's a device that connects to your home wifi.

For my needs it would need to connect to other "guest" wifi networks the way my smart phone does. I'm sure Amazon is testing this device with the familiar metaphor of grocery lists and the Dash's potential utility. Down the road, this model will open up to any retail item that is for sale - like video games.

Ultimately, I would be able to more easily integrate purchasing into my stream of consciousness. That sounds oddly presumptuous and somewhat Matrix-like, but facility is a large key to future retail. Giving customers less time to consider a purchase, by nature of speeding up the process, increases likelihood they will buy more things. I like to think of it as a real-time wish-list that doesn't necessitate any more effort than what a tool like Dash affords. I can scoop up video games and related items as quickly as they cross my mind. I like that.
April 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Electra Concepts' MasterPlay Interface solved many Atari 5200 joystick problems via 2600 interface

The Arcade Joystick 102: Front view When I realized that the Atari 5200's non-centering analog joysticks were the main reason I didn't play 5200 games, I made my own. Would I have preferred to simply attach a 2600 joystick? Sure, but...

I recently saw a vintage Advertisement for the Masterplay 5200 Interface and was stunned! How could I not know about this?!? I picked up a few Wico 5200 Joysticks, but had no idea I could have used my beloved 2600 joysticks.

Intellicon Masterplay interface for the 5200 Originally created by Electra Concepts, the Masterplay 5200 interface connected to the 5200 joystick port and provided a port for 2600-compatible joysticks and a 5200 joystick port. This allowed you to use the buttons unique to the 5200 joystick while playing with the 2600 joystick.

As wonderful as this sounds, there are some games that depend on the analog 5200 stick ad won't work with the Masterplay. There aren't too many incompatible games, but you'll encounter a few. I haven't found a discernable list of incompatible games which I believe is due to some of the non-functioning anomalies. Some games require the stick to be moved around all poles and the game restarted before it will work properly.

This is reminiscent of an issue we had when designing our 5200 homebrew joystick. We couldn't find a value that would "center" the joystick. Even though we were using arcade-quality sticks, horizontal shooters like Space Invaders caused the ship to drift at start up. Our solution was to put a pentiometer in-line so we could dial up the right signal to "center" the sticks. This was irritating, but sounds similar to Masterplay issues I've read about.

Electra Concepts made joysticks for a few different computers, but the Masterplay Interface was one of 2 products they made for the Atari 5200. The masterplay unit didn't sell particularly well and inventory was ultimately sold to Intellicon for distribution. Electra Concepts faded away.

Meteorites manual Their other 5200 product was the game, Meteorites (1983) which is an Asteroids clone. The Intellicon ad above struck me as a strange pairing of products, although both were for the Atari 5200 - their only products for the 5200. :) Atari never released Asteroids for the 5200 which may have been due to controller issues - the arcade version didn't use a joystick.

Joystick Jolter Newsletter

An interesting facet of the Masterplay ad above are the testimonial quotes from Joystick Jolter and Arena. I'd never heard of Joystick Jolter and discovered a pretty cool story. It was a New Jersey based video game newsletter created by a father who was tired of wasting money on lousy games. As games were released, he would review them in his newsletter.

Because mainstream magazine reviews were always a month or two behind a game's release date - just like mags today - Joystick Jolter got the work out at release dates. Apparently, many retailers used this newsletter as a purchasing guide for their stores. This newsletter's creator is a member of AtariAge and expounds on this in his bio.
April 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Behind their smiling boxes is Amazon's savvy, money and ability to make an impact w/ Fire TV

Smiling boxes Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have little to fear of any one of these newfangled Android set-top boxes. The Ouya never stood a chance to overthrow the massive empires established around console gaming. But that wan't Ouya's intent. However, as a new entry into a growing market, these devices should not be ignored!

Just as time and technology has led to the release of Gen 8's sophisticated gaming entertainment consoles, the same is true for Android consoles that sell for ¼ of the price. We've seen console prices rise to $400 at the entry level. Cost is certainly a factor helping to widen interest in a console that costs $99.

Obviously, there are vast differences between a PS4 and Amazon's Fire TV. Until recently there wasn't much choice if you felt $400 was outside of your budget. As PS4 and Xbone venture forward with no backward compatibility for existing game libraries, Android consoles become a bit more enticing in addition to lower costs.

The Threat of Amazon's Fire TV

Even Amazon is letting the gaming aspect of Fire TV take a back seat. It is being billed as a streaming device for movies and media. At $99, it doesn't even ship with the game controller (+ $40), although they say you can play games with the included remote control (which sounds like a dubious claim).

Amazon's Fire TV hardware The Fire TV itself poses little threat to the Big 3 of console gaming. The threat lies within Amazon themselves. Amazon is an enormous company with staggering resources. When a company of it's size, decides to sell widgets - widget resellers would be smart to take notice and start planning for shifts in the market!

Amazon's Fire TV game controller Android gaming may not be the next big-thing when we look at the gaming industry as a whole - across time. However, Amazon is certainly testing the waters with android and what they learn will make them even more formidable competition to many others. I'm sure similar streaming hardware manufacturers are keeping an eagle-eye on Amazon's path to market. Amazon is simply too big to be ignored. If they want to get into streaming media hardware and gaming, they are financially robust enough to make a big impact on other manufacturers and retailer in that category.

Amazon has a lot of retail experience and has recently suggested predictive delivery and localized delivery via drones. Regardless of the "out there" aspects, they have demonstrated the ability to do it. With such forward thinking and a lot of marketing power, Amazon is a force to be reckoned with. Look at how far their Kindle product has gone and how it has evolved from a simple reading device to a full featured tablet - that still retains it's initial e-reader accomplishments.

Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla that streaming hardware manufacturers and retailers want to avoid. In fact, they'd probably prefer if it simply stayed locked up in a zoo.
April 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

"Mario Kart 8" was trending on Twitter for a large part of the day

Seeing "Mario Kart 8" trending on Twitter was a welcome sign that Nintendo's Wii U still has the ability to generate excitement. It's been a bleak journey for Nintendo's 8th Generation game console. I've been confident that a strong game library would get the Wii U on track. I'm excited to see people stoked for Mario Kart 8 and hope the Wii U will continue to rise in popularity!

Screenshot- Mario Kart 8 trending on Twitter
April 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Joanie loved Chachi & People Weekly hosted their ‘82 celebrity Pac-Man contest

Scott Baio of Joanie Loves Chachi and An Arcade of Celebs Match Wits with the Hot Video Game- People Magazine Pac-Man's popularity skyrocketed decades ago... and it's still going. Everyone knows what Pac-Man is. Some will say they know "who" he is. This game's popularity has inspired toy lines that have just recently arrived on store shelves! That really says something when a 33 year-old game can still generate toy-store revenue.

People Weekly decided to take the frenzy around the Pac-Man arcade game to over forty Hollywood celebrities in the form of a contest. The People Weekly Pac-Man Tournament, as mentioned in the article, took place 18 months after Pac-Man's North american release in 1980. That yellow dot-eater was already spawning toy-lines and revenue streams outside of the arcade business that was thriving on Pac-Man. Pac-Man fever was on the rise.

Just like the rest of us who loved video games, celebrities rallied for the opportunity to compete in People's tourney. Their roles, at the time, read like a history lesson in pop-culture. They held roles on legendary shows from the Waltons, Trapper John, and Bosom Buddies to Little House on the Prairie, Greatest American Hero, and Archie Bunker's Place.

In the end it was a showdown between Matthew Laborteaux, of Little House on the Prairie, and Dorian Harewood from Strike Force. Matthew Laborteaux won the contest which awarded him a grand prize of a Pac-Man arcade cabinet.

Scott Baio of Joanie Loves Chachi and An Arcade of Celebs Match Wits with the Hot Video Game- People Magazine Would any of these celebrity gamers in the early 80's have believed that tournament gaming would take off, offer professional status, and provide jobs? The gaming landscape is ever evolving and will continue to do so with advances in technology and innovation.
April 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

After a kid's cartoon, based on the R-Rated movie's janitor, The Toxic Crusaders was a game

Troma logo I'm a huge fan of Lloyd Kaufman's Troma Studio and all the crazy B-movies they generate. I loved the Toxic Avenger movie and quickly became a follower of everything created by Troma. If you're not familiar with Troma, check out the Toxic Avenger and The Class of Nuke 'Em High!

Bandai Toxic Crusaders for Nintendo NES screenshot Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review Even as a rabid fan, there are always facets of one's rabid obsession that go unnoticed. I remember seeing Toxic Avenger figures at a toy store but I lacked the foresight to realize what it meant. This was long after the original movie. I didn't realize an animated show, Toxic Crusaders was on TV in January 1991! The following year the Toxic Crusaders arrived for the Nintendo NES (April 1992) among other platforms.

As a collector of video games and a fan of Troma films, such tie-ins can yield a wealth of awesome collectibles. I wish I had bought more of the figures - they were really awesome and full of detail. Troma action figures! What was I thinking? I should have bought them all!

The animated series consisted of 13 episodes, but was quickly pulled off the air - which is typical of Troma creations. It was an eco-friendly production that had the Crusaders rallying against pollution, but still contained some adult-humor that wasn't necessarily fit for kiddie consumption. Troma offers a unique form of entertainment.

Toxie action figure and DVDs As is often the case, searching for a game leads down a revealing path. Toxic Crusaders was also released for GameBoy (sept. 1992) and Sega Genesis (1992)!

Loosely based on the inaugural Toxie film from 1984, The Toxic Crusaders also has elements of the animated kid's cartoon, but in the end Toxie wields a mop in this beat-em-up side scroller.

Toxie's girlfriend, along with his Crusaders, has been kidnapped and taken prisoner. Toxie must battle through 6 levels to free his comrades and rescue his girlfriend in a final battle.

While only being of "average" rarity, if you can find a copy of this game, grab it! For myself, this game cart's rarity extends beyond quantities and availability on the open market. Troma films are often quite controversial, R-rated and often go straight to DVD. Their films aren't deemed mass-media and don't appear in theaters due to all sorts of bureaucracy. For their Toxic Avenger character to become an animated kid's cartoon is a phenomenal step. It still contained a lot of adult humor, but the mainstream exposure of a TV show was huge.

Toxic Avenger & Crusaders films from Troma Time line of Toxic Avenger and Toxic Crusader films/TV shows So, for me, the Toxic Crusaders cart for NES would be an awesome find... as would the Game Boy and Genesis carts. This certainly doesn't effect the market value of such a game, but Toxic Crusaders connection with Troma Films illustrates how a cart can be of more value to a collector for reasons outside the aspects of the game itself. Love that Toxie!! Where's Melvin Junko?
April 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

April Fools Day is an excellent day to avoid the Internet

Everyone loves to start rumors, post lies and do their best to get everyone to believe that Sega is on the verge of releasing the Dreamcast II or that the latest Wii U update makes it compatible with GameCube mini-discs.

Don't believe anything you read on April 1!

Hootsuite Oculus Rift gag for April Fools