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8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
First Quarter 2015 - January February March

If you love Retro Gaming, sit back and scroll through the retro gaming things we've discovered in 2015! We always look for ties between our favorite games of yesteryear and modern gaming. Retro gaming is as vibrant as ever, even in today's modern age of gaming!

March 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

March 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Retro game releases are few & far between, but Van Halen released some musical retro this week

Van Halen Day In the 80's there was a year in which my entire life revolved around Trans Ams, Van Halen, and arcades. We'd crank Unchained on our way to the Electric Playhouse and it just made the nights seem right!

Van Halen was one of the bands that really shaped my world back in those days. I was finding Bon Scott era AC/DC albums on JEM imports and building up a formidable Black Sabbath collection. Van Halen was always part of our arcade adventures as we sought out the latest games and visited old favorites.

These were seemingly complex times, but so simple by today's standards. It's awesome to see that Van Halen is updating their catalog. They released re-mastered versions of 1978's Van Halen and 1984's 1984 along with a double-CD featuring a 2013 concert at the Tokyo Dome!

This being the first officially released live Van Halen album, one has to wonder why they released a 2013 concert alongside 2 classic remastered works. I wish they had dug a little deeper and given fans a live concert from the era of the remastered discs. Dave's voice isn't as strong as it once was and this shows on Tokyo Dome. I'm a huge fan of live discs, but this one doesn't showcase their true talents.

We recently included a song from Van Halen's 2012 release, A Different Kind of Truth, on our Reverse Retro CD. I love discovering new homebrew games for my favorite retro consoles, but Van Halen did a great job in pumping some awesome retro into today's music releases!

March 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Easter Vacation with Player 2

We're taking a break from the online chaos to enjoy some gaming and Easter eggs. My son is coming to visit, so we'll be gaming like maniacs, coloring eggs, and scarfing epic snacks. If you have the week off, enjoy it and share Retro Gaming with someone new. Spread the joy of pixelated frenzied gaming! See you in a week or so...
March 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Retrory is a card-based memory game featuring images from Atari 2600 games

Retrory memory game If you like memory matching games like the classic Concentration, here's a cool update to the concept and it's focused on Atari 2600 games. Retrory was recently showcased on Atari Age.

Retrory is similar to concentration, but you're not looking for "matches", but rather images from the same game! So, you really have to know the Atari 2600 game library.

It's easy to match the same image, but try remembering where you saw that other Adventure dragon! But don't worry - the cards are all from licensed 2600 games. Maybe they'll amp up the difficulty with a booster pack full of homebrew cards.

The game comes with 40 pairs of cards, instructions, and it's packaged just like a 2600 game. Printed on both sides, the cards are 2.4" square and are nice and thick to hold up for many game-nights.

You can find mor details and ordering info about Retrory at Yoda's Arcade.

Board Games

As much as I love video games, it's fun to come across a good board or card game. As a kid who existed before video games, I have a lot of great memories of playing board games. From classics like Monopoly, Life, and Trouble to newer games like Card Wars, Zombie Dice, and Fluxx - tabletop games are a lot of fun. I love finding a new board of card game. You often have to go to a specialty shop of sorts to find something really unique, but it's worth the search.

Of course all those board games probably wouldn't seem like such a great diversion without the ability to go back to Yar's Revenge and Bionic Commando! Gaming is so diverse from boards and cards to joysticks and pixels. Grab a friend and play!

Retrory memory game
March 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cline's novel, Ready Player One, will hit the big screen via Steven Spielberg & Zak Penn

Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player One If you haven't read Ernest Cline's novel Ready Player One, buy a copy immediately! It's a great sci-fi book that's full of 80's pop culture references, video games and mystery. Great stuff! It's easy to see why this novel is being made into a movie.

There was a lot of coverage due to Spielberg's involvement, but we were much more interested to discover that Warner Bros bought the rights to Ready Player One the year before it was published. The Spielberg connection is cool, but this novel was destined for greatness.

For those who followed the April 2014 Atari landfill excavation in the Alamogordo, NM - Cline was on the scene along with his DeLorean. I believe he hosted an after-party at a local arcade. Gotta like his sense of style!

Ernest Cline Also on-hand in the dusty New Mexico desert was director Zak Penn who was working on the documentary film, Atari: Game Over. Cline and Penn are writing the screenplay for Ready Player One. Small world, eh?

This is destined to be a great film, but I recommend reading Cline's novel first. You know what they say... The book is always better than the movie. And this book IS that good!
March 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Here's a comic book, styled with 8 bit graphics, telling the Bible's Gospel of John

8-bit Gospel of John With a keen interest in all things "8-bit", I found myself perusing a Kickstarter campaign to fund an 8-bit rendition of the Gospel of John in comic book form. Missionary David Pat has a love of vintage video games and has chosen the uniqueness of 8-bit graphics to share bible stories.

In a video, he points out how "dated" many illustrated bible stories - even newly published ones lack an edge of modernity. He wants to change that via 8-bit imagery in comics. He may be onto something since there's a wonderful resurgence of interest in retro unto itself and certainly in vintage video games.

I'm the last person who should be commenting on anything involving religion, but I wanted to mention this 8-bit endeavor. For those who seek an 9-bit religious story, this might make a nice pairing with your copy of Red Sea Crossing :)
March 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today's smartphones already have an FM receiver! Tell your wireless carrier to unlock your free radio

I was quite surprised to discover that today's smart phones have an FM Radio chip that can receive local FM radio signals! Find out more at Free Radio On My Phone. Some may say that radio is going out of style in favor of streaming, but who's really conveying that message? Answer: cellular carriers who profit from the bandwidth used by streaming music.

Today's smartphones already have an FM receiver! They profit from all the bandwidth you use up and streaming music certainly chews through a data-plan fast! It's so profitable for them, that they are not activating the FM chips that are in every smartphone!

They'd much prefer you burn data, through steaming, and keep paying for overage charges. This sort of corporate greed is unacceptable when technology built into the phone YOU PAID FOR is rendered useless by the company that wants to over-charge you.

Wireless companies have a long tradition of treating their customers poorly, but cheating them out of functionality already built into the phone they sell is outrageous.

What about in an Emergency?
Not long ago a Winter storm knocked out our power for 4 days. We relied on a portable radio for news and weather info. Why shouldn't we have this sort of emergency info on our smart phones, that any radio can receive? There are all sorts of emergency situations where radio is the only connection people have to vital information.

Today's smartphones already have an FM receiver! If I had access to radio via my smart phone's built-in chip, I'd listen to a lot more radio. I primarily listen to FM Radio in my car as it's the simplest way for me to listen. My phone would be the next most convenient way. It's a shame that greed will likely prevail for quite some time before wireless carriers allow their activation. In the mean time, I recommend reading up on apps like NextRadio that work with embedded FM chips in smart phones.

Sirius XM's satellite Radio is pretty cool, but I miss the local aspect of FM radio. Sure, I like to dial into their commercial free metal, or any genre, but I like the local news, DJs and the crazy jingles that local businesses think will bolster their sales. Radio has a lot to offer and the FM chip in smart phones is a great way to put radio front & center for a lot of listeners who love what the airwaves have to offer.

Anyone who doesn't like radio, should watch Pump Up The Volume.
March 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Contrary to popular belief, gamers are a motley crew who frequently venture outside

1980s arcade Arcades of the 1980's are gone, but not forgotten. As Barcades become more popular, we see them leaning heavily toward retro games from the golden age of arcades. Gamers still love the classics!
Bella Thorne wearing a Motley Crue Theater of Pain t-shirt Bella Thorne seems to have a thing for Motley Crue. This is a bit surprising Considering Theater of Pain (1985) was released a decade before she was... in 1997 ;)

Outdoor graphics I felt obligated to add Red, from Jumpman Forever and Apple's Clarus the Dogcow.
March 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

RadioShack's demise led me to pick up a few of my favorite adapters

RadioShack adapters I was sad to hear of RadioShack's demise as I had grown up with this chain of stores and was inspired toward several projects based on some of the items they carried. Like all of us, I watched as they devolved into a phone store and tried to compete in several markets in which they had little strength or great competition. I had high hope after a change in upper management and a successful Super Bowl ad, but it only staved off the inevitable.

But among the happy memories were a slew of online comments asking if anyone had heard about "the Internet". These dolts were attempting to enlighten readers about the availability of RadioShack products from numerous online retailers. Yeah, we know about this.

...just as Barnes & Noble is aware that Amazon sells books. But it's not the same experience. I can always save money buying books from Amazon as opposed to a brick and mortar store, but there is an experience that I feel cheated out of despite the savings and convenience. I was amazed at the price difference of Console Wars from both sources, but I will always love shopping at Barnes and Nobel more than Amazon. The same holds true for sifting through transistors at RadioShack as opposed to a database driven e-commerce site.

It's not just a love affair with books. For me, I take advantage of what local stores offer that e-commerce sites do not. It's interaction - both with products and people. Sometimes sales clerks are helpful, but when I'm digging through the same products at RadioShack as another shopper, I know we have something in common. We may be chasing parts for similar projects or simply have common interests. Inevitably, we begin to chat and that's where the retail experience becomes more valuable than saving a few bucks online.

RadioShack catalog 1980 From talking to folks in Toys R Us, Radio Shack, or a book store, I've gained insights into products, ideas, concepts, and a myriad of random topics that benefited me in ways that online savings cannot. My shopping habits may not be for everyone, but I know I'm not alone. I'm not the only one who can't judge a book through Amazon's "Look Inside" feature, but can judge the same title in a book store by quickly flipping through a few pages and reading a couple of paragraphs.

Digital organization and retail organization are quite different. While Amazon will tell me that other customers bought "these" items, when I'm in RadioShack, I can see nearby products that may be better suited to my needs regardless of who else may have bought them.

As an online society, we seem to value convenience above all which seems to parallel laziness. Sure its easier to click a mouse than go to a store, but it's also easier to look at the moon than stand on it's surface. Fortunately, we still have enough people who want explore and go on an adventure rather than bask on Buy 'n' Large's starliner Axiom.

So, yeah... I bought a few of my favorite TV adapters for old-school video game consoles, at my local RadioShack.
March 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Djokovic defeated Federer at the 2015 BNP Paribas tennis tournament

Here's an 8-bit look at the 2 finalists...

Romanian tennis pro Simona Halep
March 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Simona Halep won the 2015 BNP Paribas tournament | #addHalep to Virtua Tennis

Romanian tennis pro Simona Halep won the 2015 BNP Paribas tournament in Indian Wells, CA. We always root for Maria Sharapova, but Halep earned the win. So, what does it take to be added to the roster of a Tennis video game?

Romanian tennis pro Simona Halep
March 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A red Atari Lynx, with Marlboro Go, was among many Marlboro Adventure Team marketing tactics

A red Atari Lynx?!? Yep - bight red... with a Marlboro Adventure Team logo.
It seems that cigarette companies have long known the secret to attaining new customers is to entice them at an early age. Video games certainly fit the bill in the early 1990s. Phillip Morris' team of adventurers put their brand on all sorts of items.

Marlboro Adventure Team's red Atari Lynx I remember growing up in the era of the "Marlboro Man" and his red/white motif as he rode off into the sunset. He seemed to be the pinacle of manly-men... just as the cigarette companies hoped. But his rise came from a problem at PM headquarters.

It seemed that women favored Marlboros and this caused shrinking sales among men. The solution was to brand the cigarettes with manliness - a cowboy. Thus the Marlboro Man came to be.

From here, there was a whole branded campaign aimed at targeting... everyone. The Marlboro brand (or at least it's color pallet) began to adorn t-shirts, jackets, hats, and wearable items available in the Marlboro Catalog. Then it blossomed into a wide variety of items including Atari's handheld game console, the Lynx. Much the way Gene Simmons likes to put the "Kiss" logo on every imaginable product, this was the strategy - a few decades earlier - that Phillip Morris pioneered.

This leaves us with a very limited edition of the Atari Lynx in a bright red color with a German Marlboro Adventure Team logo- which hints at the release of the product. Long ago, I remember seeing Marlboro catalogs - you could earn points from the cigarette packs and redeem them for Marlboro branded items. I don't know for sure, but I suspect this is where the red Atari Lynx fits in - although I doubt this was available in the US.

Marlboro Adventure Team's red Atari Lynx The picture's placard reads:
Marlboro Lynx - A specially designed Lynx that was part of a give-away involving Marlboro cigarettes. You collected points off your packs which could be redeemed for prizes. Not sure if this was available in the U.S. It also came with a motocycle racing game called Marlboro Go.

Marlboro Go - The Pack-in Game

Marlboro Go screenshot Interestingly, Phillip Morris wasn't content to simply create a red conversation piece. "Say, where did you get that red Lynx?"

They created a motorcycle game that came with the handheld console. With absolutely no connection between video games and cigarettes, I find it odd that they went to the expense and effort to create a branded video game too. On the other hand, it creates another opportunity to put the Marlboro brand in front of a new audience.

It should come as no surprise that this game is repetitive and rather boring. The back ground music is on a short loop and the motocycle engine sounds are not too impressive. After playing the ROM, it seems clear that this game was made explicitly to place the Marlboro brand in front of what Phillip Morris hoped would be a future-smoker.

In the US, cigarette advertising has been eliminated from most mainstream media. The idea of a cigarette manufacturer releasing a branded video game is unthinkable in today's marketing landscape. Most movies are even removing smokers... unless it's the film's villan. Times change quicker than you might think. It took decades for for medical research to link smoking with disease. Still, cigarettes are available for sale at nearly every corner-store.

Marlboro Go screenshot In a related vein, I'm interested that many pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens have stopped selling cigarettes and now advertise themselves as pseudo medical outlets. I'm sure they've discovered more profit in pretending to be doctors versus the former retailing of cigarettes. Don't be fooled.

No pharmacy employee is qualified to offer YOU medical advice because they wear a white coat. New TV advertising leads viewers to believe local pharmacies can offer the same care as your doctor's office.

I guess you have to weigh the evils for your own cause. What's worse... A video game branded with cigarette marketing or a pharmacy pretending to be an alternative to your doctor's advice. As Mulder would say, trust no one! And if you see a red Lynx, buy it!
March 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Gonzalo Varela's Dreamnesia- conceived as the soundtrack for a video game & inspired by chiptunes

Gonzalo Varela's album, Dreamnesia Gonzalo Varela contacted me about his latest album Dreamnesia. I'm glad he did because this is a very cool mix of music. As it's title suggests, you'll find some dulcet tracks than may just whisk you away, but it was also conceived as the soundtrack to a video game and incorporates many faster paced tracks inspired by chiptunes.

From what I've read Varela has had a long love for video games to which he decided to apply his musical talents. While working to score the soundtrack to a video game, the game's development ceased. With no game in sight, he wrote more tracks and conceived his album, Dreamnesia.

You can listen and download the entire Dreamnesia album on Bandcamp for free!

If you're not familiar with Gonzalo Varela, here's some biographical info via
Composer, sound designer, guitarist and bass guitarist born in 1990 in Montevideo, Uruguay. His compositions have been performed in concerts, festivals and workshops in Argentina, England, Mexico, Portugal, Scotland, United States, Uruguay and Wales. He has written music for films, theatre plays and videogames. He has received awards and special mentions in composition, arrangement, recording and live show contests. As a performer he has taken part in several ensembles and choirs, recorded in released albums and a video DVD, and given over 200 concerts in Brazil and Uruguay.
March 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With only your wits & instinct, 50 Pinch Barrage sends you on a wild 3DS adventure

A random online post tickled me in just the right way, with the allure of a crazy adventure at a reasonable cost. I sought out info on 50 Pinch Barrage by Mobile & Game Studio Inc.. It was just released for the 2/3DS. It's simple visual style reminds me of Pitfall! on the Atari 2600... with moder-day action!

50 Pinch Barrage for Nintendo 3DS You begin the game as your plane descends in distress leaving you no option but to parachute to the safety of a nearby island. We've all seen this scenario in movies, but have you stopped to think what YOU would do? In an unknown location, facing life threatening dangers, and an assortment of ravenous creatures eager for a meal - what would you do first? You'd have to rely on your wits and instincts. That's exactly what 50 Pinch Barrage forces you to do.

50 Pinch Barrage for Nintendo 3DS There are no instructions, tutorials or hints. It's you against... well, everything the game throws at you. And it's a lot! Platformer fans will be familiar with many of the game's conventions, but that doesn't make it easier!

The difficulty is the key to the game's 50 stages leading to it's end. 50 inch Barrage seems simple enough, but you quickly see otherwise, From running, jumping to climbing vines, swimming and riding mine carts, this game has a lot of diversity as you defend yourself against it's challenges.

50 Pinch Barrage for Nintendo 3DS You'll likely discover a fair amount of frustration as you navigate the levels. Some seem easy enough while others become savagely difficult just as you see an end in sight... back to the beginning! I think that's part of the fun.

If you've ever played QubicGames' 2 Fast For Gnomes, you're familiar with quick paced games that deliver fun with frustration. 50 inch Barrage will do the same. There is a lot of fun to be had, but trial and error is the only way to advance. Expect to die frequently.

It's simplicity (not difficulty) is refreshing and it boasts great sound effects, although your final dying scream will be heard often. If you have the patience to learn from your numerous deaths, you should be pleasantly surprised by 50 Pinch Barrage. It's frustrating at times, but uniquely fun. So many games are overly complex without good reason or justification. Mobile & Game Studio have delivered a cool game at a great price. We encourage you to check it out... then go play some Pitfall on the 2600!
March 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As Nintendo breaches the smart phone gap, I think about their core strength in hardware

Nintendo has always been somewhat misunderstood. Consumers don't always see the genius through the thicket of preconceived notions. Nintendo blasted onto the scene in 1985 and rejuvenated the home video game market. Had they not brought the NES to market, who knows how gaming might have evolved.

Nintendo develops for mobile As for evolution, I'm not sure that mobile gaming is the pinacle (to date) of gaming's evolution. I see it as more of an offshoot. Don't misunderstand me, I think mobile devs hav created amazing games and work tirelessly to do so. But when I look at how it evolved, I find it odd that gamers are so willing to give up their large TVs to play games on a small phone screen.

I remember having all-night sessions on Atari and Nintendo consoles, but I can't look at a phone screen for nearly that duration. Thus, the nature of gaming has to shift to accomodate the lesser times people spend staring at a device.

Nintendo Goes Mobile

Many have wondered why Nintendo hadn't jumped into the mobile market long ago. Certainly they have enough IPs from which to hatch a successful plan. When looking at their success with handheld consoles, I think a lot of folks equate that to a likely success in the mobile arena. I hear people frequently making the assumption that a 3DS and a smart phone are similar - game-wise. This is not true!

No one wants to leave home with an armload of electronic devices. A GPS, phone, game console, tablet, etc... It's just too much. When looking at this array of devices, the phone is the device that we rely on most. I can call people, stay in touch and if my car breaks down I can call a tow truck. Try that on a GameBoy! Smart phones have become an increasingly vital device and continues on that track as more functionality is added.

Handheld Consoles vs Smart Phones

As owner of a 2DS and a smart phone, I can assure you they are very different devices when it comes to gaming... among other things. Smart phones are essentially mini computers and act accordingly. After about 18 months, most smart phones begin to degrade in speed until they become almost unusable without a backup and a factory restore. My 25-year-old Game Boy doesn't have this problem any more than my Atari Lynx or 2DS. Game consoles tend to be mostly closed systems, while smart phones are susceptible to all sorts of awful stuff from malware to app compatibility issues.

Look at the reviews of most mobile games - some games don't work on some models and other times there are other compatibility complaints. I love my 2DS and can attest that Nintendo does an excellent job in creating a hardware environment for their games. My smart phone is an essential device, but gaming with finger-swipes is no match for the controls on a 2/3DS.

Nintendo develops for mobile Mario Cosplay by LeeAnna Vamp The idea of StreetPass and it's integration with a variety of games, adds a layer of awesome that I haven't seen on my smart phone. Nintendo makes a wonderful product and delivers a compelling library of games.

Upon hearing of Nintendo's decision to enter the mobile market, I have no doubt they will be successful, but I feel their success will come from creating new games for mobile. Many people expect them to "dump" their renown IPs onto phones and collect big bucks. Those days are over. Everyone has to fight for every dollar.

Nintendo's reputation will certainly aid them, but creating games especially for mobile is a smart move and it's similar to how they design games that compliment their handheld consoles. Nintendo has a unique understanding of their hardware and the way games operate in that environment. This careful attention to detail should serve them well and elevate their games over much of the dreck that bogs down online mobile stores.

Nintendo has partnered with DeNA - a Japanese mobile developer. It should be exciting to see them release new titles and create a new market for themselves. If nothing else, Nintendo's entrance into mobile gaming adds a lot of credibility to the platform. Much maligned for low-quality and pay-to-win games, the mobile game industry may well benefit from a big player like Nintendo entering the marketplace.

Stay tuned! You never know what Nintendo might do :)
March 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As Atari dilutes their brand, they take time off to derail one of their most promising allies- Llamasoft

If you know the name, Jeff Minter, you have probably played one of his legendary video games. As a designer and programmer, he's made some of the most influential games to grace both retro and modern consoles, starting with the Sinclair ZX80. Much of his work has come from the company he founded - Llamasoft.

Jeff Minter's TxK I first became aware of Minter's work after buying an Atari Jaguar in 1993. Excited to see Atari product on retail shelves, I had also heard that reboots of some classic titles would be making their way to the new 64-bit console. Tempest 2000 (T2K), released in 1994, was one of those titles - created by Jeff Minter.

Tempest 2000 defined what I loved about the Jaguar and gaming in general. That game alone warrants the purchase of a Jaguar - both in '93 and today! I also loved his Space Invaders Extreme!

Minter has taken Tempest's "tube" concept and applied it in a variety of ways, each time besting former efforts. Most recently he brought TxK to Sony and it was released for the Vita. If you own a Vita, you should definitely download TxK because it's a great game and it may not be available much longer...

Atari's Legal Department is on the Warpath

I've been following this story on the web (Polygon has had good coverage) and social media. Renown brand, Atari, has take time away from developing fast food mobile games and virtual casinos to quell Minter's creativity. Specifically, they are citing copyright issues and demanding a shutdown of his current TxK plans. Thus the PS4 release, among others, seems unlikely.

I've written a few articles about Atari's use of their "brand" and classic titles. From our perspective, they've done more to dilute and marginalize their IPs than expand and/or grow them. Atari recently released Asteroids Outpost, which seems inline with strengthening their future while minding the golden age IPs that still carry them. Alas, the game has nothing to do with the original arcade favorite. Asteroids Outpost simply capitalizes on the title - no relation to the original.

Atari has been bought, sold and divided so many times, it's logo is the sole survivor of their previous effort. Too much of what they do today seems to be short-term gains leveraging known IPs in any way possible. Did anyone really want to play Hashteroids and pilot a ketchup bottle shooting at Deny's hash browns?

Jeff Minter's TxK Sure, there are similarities between Minter's TxK and his former Atari T2K and the arcade classic. But the positive effect of a "Minter" game, like TxK, could indirectly do more for Atari's image than years worth of marketing drudgery! Minter has been in talks with Atari, hoping they would commission an officially licensed version from Minter. Instead, they want to shut down his efforts.

Let's see if Asteroids Outpost gets half the attention the Minter/Atari dispute gets. Atari - or whoever owns the name - should take a broader approach to their future and embrace folks like Minter who still has passion for the brand and the foresight to build upon it's greatness rather than jeopardize it for a short gain. Minter could accidentally bring more prosperity to Atari through his genius than Atari could muster by waving cease & desist paperwork.

Making allies seems a smarter move... unless Asteroids Outpost becomes a runaway success or maybe that arcade casino thing will pan out. If nothing else, you have to love Jeff Minter's ability to deftly summarize the scene in 140 characters. Jeff Minter tweet

Atari wants to shut down Minter's Tempest game project for PS4, TxK

March 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

OlliOlli arrives for 3DS as it's skateboarding sequel gains praise on PS4 & Vita

I'm always up to play a skateboarding game. I love the THPS series and I've enjoyed many skate games not bearing the Hawk name. I got my start with 720°, Skate Or Die and Town & Country Surf Designs: Wood & Water Rage on the NES. They come from an era where skateboarding had rockstar-riders, bright neon colors and 10" wide decks. The 80's were an amazing time to skate to the local arcade!

OlliOlli logo Roll7's OlliOlli came out last week for Nintendo's 3DS and I began reading up on it since I hadn't heard of it. It seems that this game has been around since January 2014, but was now released on the 3DS. I was a bit confused because I found several reviews saying OlliOlli 2 was an amazing sequel for the PS4! And here I am just hearing about it at the 3DS launch time.

Unlike the glam and glitz of the 80's, OlliOlli has a low key look to it and places the skater in the distance allowing more view of the upcoming terrain. There are plenty of trick to learn and a great tutorial for showing you how the controls work. You may find some initial frustration, but as you become better, the game really opens up for you. Good fun!

It was originally to be an iOS game, but the developers were persuaded to consider a console release. They went with the Sony vita which allowed them to add better mechanics and control than available with mobile's finger-swiping.

OlliOlli screenshot Being released on consoles may also have given the game more attention, as many games get lost in the "sea of mediocrity" that exists in the mobile arena. On the other hand, OlliOlli is an amazing game! It's fairly simple in control, but the game offers more difficulty than you may imagine, Mastering it is well worth the reward of this deftly accurate skateboarding game.

At first OlliOlli may seem like many skateboarding games, but it soon becomes obvious that there's a lot more to it. It's a single-life game in which you need to perform tricks at each opportunity - and land them properly. Points are lost for sloppy landings. Timing is paramount as you pull tricks and during landing. It gets pretty hectic! Adding to the fun is the Daily Grind in which everyone gets the same course and the ability to practice the run as often as you'd like. When you go for it - for real - you only get one chance to get the high score!

OlliOlli screenshot Despite it's difficulty, Roll7's original version forced you to get a perfect run. Thinking this may disuade some players from continuing with the game, the put in an unlockable RAD mode which amps up the harshness! It's additions like this that give the game a lot of replay value.

I'm loving it on my 2DS and have already seen many rave reviews for it's successor OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood.

If you like skateboarding games, OlliOlli may become your new favorite skate game. For those less likely to ride a plank, this game is a nice 2D platformer that requires requires skill to master, but is also a great deal of fun. We recommend checking it out!
March 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

March 14 is National Pi Day - Have a slice... and a donut!

Today is National Pi Day in celebration of determining the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter!
3.14159265358 = Pi

Retro VGS logo It's also Albert Einstein's birthday (March 14, 1879).
March 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Can the Retro VGS inspire a new wave of retro gaming via modern, retro-style, cartridge-based games?

When you stop to realize that retro games, consoles, accessories, and everything that makes retro gaming amazing are in short supply, you have to wonder if there's a remedy. Nintendo and Atari are still in the gaming industry, but they aren't making NES or 5200 games, nor the console on which to play them. Wouldn't it be great if someone would begin making retro games and bring about a cartridge revolution.

You may have seen Analogue's remake of the NES which put the electronic innards into an aluminum shell, with 4 controller ports and upgraded the output for modern TVs. It's expensive, but such a beautiful alternative to the myriad of flimsy clone consoles with dubious reliability and compatibility.

Retro VGS logo Retro VGS (Video Game System) is an upcoming gaming console that plays modern games with retro inspiration. Have you subscribed to Retro Magazine? If so, you may be familiar with he man behind the Retro video Game System (VGS) - Mike Kennedy. I've read about this project over the last few weeks and I love the idea. Essentially, the Retro VGS will be a new cartridge-based gaming console that will release retro inspired games. If you feel as though the last sentence involved some time travel/shifting, you're not alone.

When the PlayStation was released on the "NOS" (Ninth of September marketing campaign) the storage capacity of it's new shiny discs made me smile in eager anticipation. Today's games are shoehorned onto discs, but the technology is no longer able to keep pace with game play, thus the scenario in which game elements are copied to your console's hard drive.

In order for games to play properly, they need a much faster device. This reminds me of how awesome cartridges were and how fast they were compared with most subsequent console technology. Sure, next gen consoles have massive processing power, but those disc mechs are too slow to deliver the game play we are accustomed to.

Retro video Game System (VGS) As I understand it, the Retro VGS is being positioned as a platform for new games that are retro inspired. If you've played games like Shovel Knight, Xeodrifter, or Woah Dave on a modern platform, these are the kind of games that would be offered on cartridges with game boxes and illustrated manuals.

There has been praise and protest to this approach. Many wonder why not invest in releasing homebrew games on existing vintage consoles like the 7800 or SNES? But Mike Kennedy brings up a point close to my heart regarding cartridges, CIB, manuals, and collecting. These were such wonderful facets of gaming in the 80's and 90's. Today, gamers are content to download a game without any physical presence at all. To me that cheapens the experience and leaves a void in the overall gaming experience.

Certainly, as times change we can't completely cling to the past, but consoles like Analogue's and the upcoming Retro VGS are more than conduits for continued retro gaming.

From their Facebook page:
We believe the best way to play this new wave of RETRO games is on a RETRO console with a proper classic controller, in front of a high-definition TV, with your friends and family.

The Jaguar Connection

If the Retro VGS pic above looks like an Atari Jaguar... it is - sort of. Mike Kennedy bought the original molds for the console and it's game cartridges. His plan is to use it as the basis for his upcoming console. Keep in mind that these molds are simply a shape - they create the housing which has no bearing on any Atari compatibility of any sort. The console will simply visually resemble the Jaguar but have it's own internal electronics.

We're excited to see how this concept evolves. The intend to launch a Kickstarter campaign this Spring. Follow along on their Facebook page!
March 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sega's Out Run is on my 2DS and the world is a good place

I was really excited when Streets of Rage 3D came to the 3DS and then I heard rumors that Out Run was coming as well. My local arcade has Out Run and we never miss a chance to crank the tunes and drive that Ferrari. Not long ago I bought the Sega Classics Collection for PS2 since it had a version of Out Run among the included games.

Out run came out for the 3DS and I promptly downloaded it onto my 2DS. I love this game - so good!

Sega Out Run for the 3DS Sega Out Run for the 3DS alongside my PS2 version on the Sega Classics Collection.
March 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Regular Show's “Gamers Never Say Die” episode features the Tonari 3500 game console

I love Cartoon Network's Regular Show - my son and I always try to catch the new episodes and all the DVDs. It's good crazy fun. There was a rerun on tonight, but it wasn't until this repeat that I realized they were gaming on an "Atari" style console, the Tonari 3500. Too funny!

Regular Show Tonari 3500 game console Mordecai and Rigby found their Tonari 3500 game console in a box on this Regular Show episode.
Regular Show Tonari 3500 game console Their Tonari 3500 game console set up and ready to play.

Regular Show Tonari 3500 game console Mordecai and Rigby's favorite Tonari 3500 game.
March 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Judas Priest release a deluxe 30th anniversary edition of Defenders Of The Faith

This has been a great year of remastered classic albums from some of my favorite bands. I've loved Judas Priest ever since I found British Steel at a record store in White Plains, NY. I was excited for this release having loved Redeemer of Souls from last Summer. I can't believe it's been 30 years since Defender's original release!

1984 was also the year that Rescue on Fractulus came out for the Atari 5200.

udas Priest - 30th anniversary edition of Defenders Of The Faith Unfortunately, this remaster of Defenders Of The Faith suffers some technical problems. Much of the recording sounds muffled in some manner. Comparing it to the original CD, it's very obvious that something went awry and no one bothered to correct it. It's a shame the re-master was done so poorly as this is a great album from an amazing band.
March 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bob's Robot, CHAPPiE, eats Xbone burgers with Yolandi's amiibo

Chappie takes on a bit of Louise's flair from Bob's Burgers CHAPPiE takes on a bit of Louise's flair from Bob's Burgers.
Xbox One fast food at Triple O's - Fast Food Restaurant Xbox One fast food at Triple O's - Fast Food Restaurant Xbox One fast food theme at Triple O's Fast Food Restaurant in Hong Kong.

Chappie star Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord CHAPPiE star Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord.
Sonic amiibo and comic books Sonic amiibo and comic books. Did you know the folks who publish Archie comics also publish several Sonic titles? Yep - Betty, Veronica, and Sonic...

I saw CHAPPiE today and was really impressed by it. Reviewers haven't been to kind, but that rarely influences my movie decisions. I'm a fan of Die Antwoord, so having both Ninja and Yolandi Visser starring in the movie was a cool aspect. I liked the story line and it had a really authentic aspect to it. Go check it out - we recommend it!
March 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

An interesting scenario for the evolution of Nintendo's Wiimote controller

I've seen several posts about the evolution of the Wiimote, but I found this image far more compelling than any of the articles.

Nintendo Wiimote Controller Dissection I'd heard from several sources that despite the Wiimote's leap forward in game control and game play, it was rooted in the best of Nintendo's previous controllers. This seemed hard to imagine. How could the Wiimote, especially after the update to Wii Motion Plus, be influenced from controllers of the 80's and 90's?

When the Wii TV ads first aired, I admit they struck me as creepy and positioned the console as a children's toy. It wasn't long before the wireless Wiimotes demonstrated how much they changed traditional game play. The pack-in sports game was the main draw for this controller's genius, but it wasn't long before more games came to market that showcased the Wiimote's unique wonders.

It wasn't long before Sony and Microsoft were tripping over themselves in an effort to add a wireless experience to their platforms. Neither effort was terribly successful nor as revolutionary as Nintendo's Wiimote. The Wiimote really brought a new way of thinking about the interaction of players with games.

That's the kind of thinking Nintendo has always been very good at... even when we don't agree with all of their decisions. The Wii U has had many of us baffled for quite some time, but I feel that the GamePad was greatly ignored as a "game changer" among developers. Like the Wiimote, the GamePad had the ability to create the same revitalization.
March 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Gameboy's Four Shades of Grey

From what I understand, the fetish community snickers at the silliness of the Fifty Shades of Grey book and average movie-goers laughed at it in theaters. It just goes to show that you shouldn't mess with perfection. Nintendo's 4 shades of grey are all you need.

Gameboy's Four Shades of Grey I love that Dakota Johnson is Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith daughter. I still love wathcing Miami Vice and Nash Bridges!
March 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Battery chargers have gone from inadequate to pornographic and still lack real-world stats

I use the charging stations in airports and at my local mall, but charging in the wild tethers you in a way that violates the mobile-ness of the devices you carry along. The idea of also toting some extra battery power seem ridiculous, but at times it would be handy.

cylindrical battery charger We frequently charge things in the car, but when my son and I are on the go, we don't want to be tied down to a charging station.

After picking up some games at GameStop we might jump into some head-to-head Street Fighter IV at the ice cream shop. And who doesn't love some co-play Streets of Rage 3D and Star Fox while waiting for a movie to start. We like gaming on the go on our 2DS handhelds and phones, so we often need power in strange places.

Those cylindrical charging tubes really appealed to me... visually. It seemed like a slick way to bring a bit more power when a device is running low and I'm not done playing. I love the USB port on the end. It just seemed like a smartly designed product. This is of course all supposition since I don't own one of these nifty looking chargers.

After doing a little reading on them, it seems they are woefully underpowered. Folks seem to be complaining that they will only deliver a quarter-charge to the average phone. What!?! How can a product like this come to market and not even be able to deliver a descent charge to a phone? There were also complaints of the devices simply not working at all.

PornHub's Wankband battery charger Maybe the mobile power solution has to rely on human-power. The oddly savvy folks at PornHub are staging to launch the Wankband - a self powered device that stores kinetic energy for later use in charging any of your devices. Sounds reasonable.

My Dad had a self-winding watch that would keep itself powered by the simple movements of your arm. PornHub's device is geared toward a more violent thrashing motion, but we're talking about power here.

Any of these portable power solutions might be just what I wanted, if there were any standards involved!!

I was on the brink of buying one of those cylindrical tube-chargers until I discovered how underpowered they are. This makes me wonder how much masturbation PornHub thinks is required to reinvigorate a depleted smart phone.

What we have here is a lack of standards! Who knows how "milliampere hours" relate to energy storage and charging? This is the way these devices are rated, but this doesn't really relate to things we know and can quantify... like how many milliampere hours are needed to charge a particular phone or handheld game console?

A milliampere hour (mAh) is 1000th of an ampere hour ( Ah ). These measures are used to describe the energy charge that a battery will hold and how long a device will run before the battery needs recharging.

Sure I could do some research and some math to see if I can figure out how to match one of these consumer chargers with one of my battery-powered devices. But is this really what manufacturers want their customers doing. The more research I do the less confidence I have in any of these products. I like their concepts, but there don't seem to be any standards that normal folks can relate to in terms of properly pairing a charging solution to their personal device.

These chargers are fairly new to the market - the Wankband has not yet been released - so manufacturers may put some more marketing muscle behind these products to ensure people can figure out which model meets their needs. Until then, it seems like a lot of tech-babble designed to "impress" consumers. Forget that! like standards and relations I can understand. I'm no rocket scientist, but I shouldn't have to be in order to buy a consumer battery charger.

I'm sure standards will emerge, but companies are so eager to get products to market, they don't allow time to bring their customers up to speed with measurements we all can relate to and use to make informed decisions. Part of my frustration is I really want one of those cylindrical chargers! And I'm interested to see how much energy the Wankband can produce :)
March 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Have the Battletoads been lured away from Nintendo consoles in favor of the indie life on Xbone?

As I read through various stories my mind reeled at the possibility of a return of the Battletoads... but on the Xbone... and how does Yacht Club Games' Shovel Knight fit in here? Isn't Shovel Knight a Nintendo exclusive?

Battletoads to appear in Xbone version of Shovel Knight Let's start with Battletoads. It is often labeled as one of the hardest NES games out there - which I would agree with. Battletoads arrived on Game Boy and NES in 1991 and again in two Double Dragon titles, Battletoads & Double Dragon for NES in 1993 and Battletoads & Double Dragon: The Ultimate Team for SNES in 1994. They also were ported to Sega's Genesis and Game Gear.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really stole all the limelight, but Rare's Battletoads were edgier characters and their nemesis, The Dark Queen, was one of the first female villains in a video game. Battletoads didn't blow up into a franchise the way games seem to these days, but modern times have also cemented the notion of endless sequels, so maybe it's for the best. At the same time, Battletoads had crude humor and bloodier battles.

Shovel Knight Shovel Knight by Yacht Club Games. Released for both 3DS and Wii U in June 2014, Shovel Knight put retro 8-bit art into a platformer with great game play. It quickly became a big success. I love this game on my 2DS

Shovel Knight is headed for PS4 and Xbox One release. At this year's Game Developers Conference, it was announced that the Microsoft release will have an addition... Battletoads! Apparently, the Battletoads will appear in the Shovel Knight game for Xbone.

Aside from their retroness, I'm not sure how the Battletoads wind up in Shovel Knight. Perhaps there is some story crossover that I'm unaware of... or it could be one of those odd back-room deals that makes $ense in another way. The best news is the hinting of a new Battletoads game. Alas, I'm not an Xbone owner, but that comes from avoiding all Microsoft products whenever possible. I'm just not a fan of their practices. So anyway...

From a perspective of pure nostalgia, I'd love to see a new Battletoads game come out on any platform - preferably one I own ;)
March 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

GameStop announced PS2 hardware trade-ins after cannibalizing the PS2 retail game experience

I read that GameStop is going to begin taking in PlayStation 2 hardware for trade. From what I've read they are doling out $25 per unit if you include all the cables and one controller.

I have an odd relationship with the PS2 - I never bought one during it's general release. For me, The PlayStation was the first system I owned that had substantial storage and allowed the advent of the "compilation disc."

GameStop wil begin taking PS2 hardware trade ins I loved the Williams Greatest Hits, The 3 Arcade Collections for Atari and Namco Museums. Finally being able to play my favorite arcade classics on a home console - in all their glory. I was pretty happy about this scenario.

To be honest, the modern games were interesting, but didn't motivate me to want to see what the next genration would bring. Hence, I passed on the PS2 and later delved into the Game Boy Advance and GameCube. But then tragedy struck. I turned on my PlayStation and heard an ominous sound... and no start up screen.

My PlayStation disaster probably happened around 2005 or thereabouts. The PS3 and Wii were in the news and to my delight, retailers were ditching PS2 hardware (new in box) for around $85. This was in "olden" times when backward compatibility was a staple of the successful release of the next gen console.

The PS2 was able to play PlayStation discs - Yay! Even the initial run of PS3 consoles would play PS2 games. Then someone decided that was no longer necessary and Nintendo became the only console manufacturer to understand the consumer benefit of backward compatibility.

So, on the crest of the new PS3 I was cheerfully buying a discounted PS2 (new) so I could once again play my favorite PlayStation games.I'm definitely a fan of modern gaming, but my heart belongs to old dusty games - even if some of them are on shiny discs.

The intent of this tale circles back to GameStop's recent desire to accept PS2 consoles for trade ins. This seems odd to me since they systematically remove platforms as they age. Having purchased a few new PS2's, at the eve of the PS3 release, it seemed logical to begin looking at some of the titles available on the platform. I love my old PlayStation compilation discs, but there were some cool titles to be had on the PS2. Yes, I bought all of the Midway Arcade Treasures :)

GameStop seemed to have an endless trove of PS2 games. I gleefully began buying. But an odd thing happened a year or so ago. GameStop began phasing out PS2 games. In it's final stages, they threw away all the manuals, cases, and art, leaving the discs in paper sleeves on shelves - pathetic! But that was the demise of GameStop's PS2 game sales.

I find it odd that after this poor phase-out of PS2 games, GameStop wants to begin reselling the hardware? I'm wondering if I can get an answer at one of the stores.
March 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I finally found the Skystones cards, but I'm stuck with 5 boxes of Trix cereal

Ever since I heard there was a real-world Skystones card game in General Mills cereal, I've been perusing the cereal aisles with acute scrutiny. My obsession paid off when I was just about to give up the search at yet another grocery store and I saw the Skylanders banner on a box of Trix. After a careful search, I waited on line wondering if the clerk would inquire about my purchasing 5 boxes. Who the Hell buys 5 boxes of this stuff? Yuck!

Skystone cards in General Mills cereal boxes I initially thought General Mills wasn't running the promo in my area, then I wondered if it was only at a participating chain of stores. This has whet my appetite for more Skystones cards (not Trix cereal), so I'm sure I'll be haunting the cereal aisles for the next few weeks.
March 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Walter White is dating Sam Puckett and tells her suitor to back off! #TomodachiLife

Walter White mii I have an odd infatuation with Tomodachi Life on my Nintendo 2DS. It's really not the sort of game I typically enjoy, but I have found it a lot of fun. Part of it is the ability to add celebrity Miis to my island and see how they randomly interact.

Jeannette McCurdy mii I should have taken some screen shots, but this scene rolled out so quickly I didn't even think about it. Mike D. from the Beastie Boys got divorced from former Nickelodeon star Jeannette McCurdy. I've had several divorces before, but never a reconciliation. Today, Mike D. said he wanted to get back together with her and asked "me" to talk to her. Jeannette appeared on the screen acknowledging Mike D's intentions.

Mike D mii She disappeared from the screen and Mike D walked in from the right side. Seconds later Walter White emerges from the left, approaches Mike D, and states that HE is dating Jeannette and that he hopes Mike will be "cool with that".

I was totally expecting Walt to pull a knife and spill Mike's guts, while telling him to remember his name. It was pretty surreal for a Nintendo game. I still manage to get caught up in the celebrity and forget that Miis are pretty harmless. Still, I was thinking I should change Mike's name and move him to a new apartment. Ya know... just in case.

Mike D is still alive, so I'm assuming he backed off. I guess Walt and Jesse won't have to kill Mike D. Phew!
March 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

10Tons converts the gentleman's sport into a terrific platform physics shooter with Tennis In The Face

I hadn't heard of this game, but an email from the folks at Ouya touted it's addition to their gaming platform. I love tennis games and had to track down this unique variation where your racquet becomes a formidable weapon in saving your city!

Tennis In The Face I've always had a soft spot for tennis video games - all kinds of tennis video games. From early attempts on the PlayStation to Snoopy tennis on the Game Boy Color, and onward to the latest TopSpin or Virtua Tennis, I love 'em all. Each offers a unique set of play mechanics and experience. I can replicate grandslam tournaments, play as my favorite champions or smirk at the oddities of Outlaw Tennis.

10Tons' Tennis In The Face There seemed to be a "tennis game" for everyone's taste until I realized a forgotten segment of gamers - those passionate about First-Person Shooters. I'm a Galaga and Galaxian fan from arcade's golden age and still enjoy shooting at things.

Why don't Tennis video games offer any shooting options? Wonder no more. 10Tons Ltd. has resolved this issue with the multi-platform Tennis "Shooter", Tennis in the Face.

Your racquet is no longer a tool of the trade. In Tennis In The Face, your racquet is your weapon. But you're no renegade bad-guy - You are Pete Pagassi (a Sampras/Agassi combo?). You're goal is saving the city from an evil energy drink company, Explodz.

From their website:
Knock out creepy clowns, evil riot police and other Explodz-addicted maniacs with a tennis ball in the face. Bounce the ball off walls to reach targets lurking in cover and watch them tumble hilariously. Trigger masterful chain reactions and watch the chaos unfold. Tennis in the Face is a hilarious bouncer-game where you save the city from the evil Explodz Inc. with your extraordinary tennis skills.

10Tons' Tennis In The Face Tennis In The Face is available on many platforms including mobile's iOS and Android while also including Windows Phone and Blackberry. Computer gamers will see it on Mac and PC while console aficionados can enjoy it on their PS4.

Developer, 10tons Ltd. was founded in 2003. Their debut release was Crimsonland which became a cult hit.

February 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

February 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Capcom tried to compete with SNK's ability to bring arcade quality to living rooms

Capcom logo Arcades have long been the measure of console perfection. In the early 1980's there were plenty of arcade ports for the Atari 2600, Colecovision and Intellivision. As much as we enjoyed them, we knew the arcade games were superior. As the 1990's progressed, console hardware began to catch up with the quality we loved in arcades.

This improvement began to make "arcade exactness" a top priority for developers. The console that best replicated an arcade favorite would sell more cartridges. At the same time, SNK was bringing it's cartridge-based AES game system the other direction - back to the arcades! Their MVS arcade system also used carts which gave them the ability to allow the identical gaming experience in the arcade and at home.

I saw a great article on Capcom's CPS Changer home console - released only in Japan in 1994. I wasn't aware of it, but the CPS Changer has a lot of interesting features, in addition to being a failure.

Home Console vs Arcade Quality

Asteroids on Atari's 2600 vs the arcade game
BurgerTime on the Colecovision vs the arcade game BurgerTime on the Colecovision vs the arcade game.
Donkey Kong Junior on Mattel's Intellivision vs the arcade game Donkey Kong Junior on Mattel's Intellivision vs the arcade game.

Capcom's Power System Changer

With the importance of replicating arcade games for the home console market in the 90s, why not simply duplicate them? It was working for SNK's AES console and Capcom came up with the Power System Changer based on it's CPS1 arcade board. Capcom had many successful arcade titles so it would seem that creating a home system to play them would be a success. However, part of a successful console comes from a diversity of developers creating titles for it.

Capcom's Power System Changer The article I referenced above sheds light on an interesting distinction of the CPS Changer and seemingly similar systems like the AES. The CPS Changer used self-contained systems, so each software module had its own CPU, audio amplifier, ROMs and everything needed to operate without any extra electronics.

The CPS Changer system itself was more of an adaptor than a console - it didn't add anything but different connectors. With that in mind, it's easy to see how the CPS Changer was more of an accessory to allow the sale of arcade games into the home market.

If you think of it as an adapter, it gave the consumer market the ability to plug it into a TV and use SNES controllers. The CPS Changer was about $200 cheaper than an AES console, but if it was more of a shell that enabled playing the arcade modules, I wonder how expensive the "games' were.

Capcom's Power System Changer Only 11 games were released for the system. Capcom Quiz World 2, Muscle Bomber 2, Captain Commando, Street fighter 2, Final Fight, Street Fighter 2 Turbo, King of Dragons, Street Fighter Zero, Knights of Round Tenshi wo Kurau 2, Muscle Bomber.

The CPS Changer is quite rare being released only in Japan for a limited time. There is speculation as to how such a whacky console adapter?) wound up on the market. Some say Japan was in a time of experimentation where companies had money and were eager to experiment. This is the sort of item that makes the game industry a interesting place. Who knows what may come next...
February 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Leonard Nimoy passed away today - RIP Mr. Spock

It's hard to explain the feeling when someone of Nimoy's stature passes. He became a legend, but in such a different manner than most. You never heard a bad word about him. He was the consummate gentleman and seemed like such a giving person in his personal life. Seldom does such a generous person come along without the usual trappings.

Leonard Nimoy will be greatly missed.

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock
A salute to Leonard nimoy from the International Sapce Station American astronaut Terry Virts tweeted a photo of the Vulcan salute from the International Space Station as a tribute to actor Leonard Nimoy as the station passed over Massachusetts. Nimoy was a native of Boston.

Leonard Nimoy's final tweet Even this past Election Day we reveled in his unique charm. LLAP
February 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today the Internet went crazy over determining the color of a fairly ugly dress

A badly lit photograph of a $77 off-the-rack dress broke the Internet today, spawning arguments, memes and questionable scientific explanations of the dress' real color.

some saw a black and blue dress while others saw it as white and gold. It seems to be some sort of optical illusion based on the surrounding colors, but the Internet debated it... greatly. Some folks raged & shouted while others applied science. No one seemed to resolve the matter but some folks came up with some great memes while others joined in on the idiocy, all while ignoring the manufacturer.

VentureBeat came up with some interesting metrics. It's also worth noting that this is a better dress :)

The dress
The dress The dress

Meanwhile in the US, terror threats are being amped up via ratings-hungry pseudo news outlets while House Speaker, John Boehner, let our Homeland Security department lose funding. It seems the debate over the color of a cheap dress has garnered more attention than our failing political system. What a world...
February 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I draw the line when playing a Blu-ray movie forces a PS3 system update

About five years ago I went into an electronics retailer and told the salesman I wanted to buy a CD player. He looked at me as though I was comparison shopping buggy whips. Realizing that he thought I was crazy, I changed my strategy to the purchase of a DVD player, knowing it would be compatible with my CDs.

He showed me an over-priced Blu-ray unit and I explained that I didn't own any Blu-ray discs... so, I just wanted a garden variety DVD player. He was uncertain if he had any plain DVD units since "everyone" wants Blu-ray. Um, Yeah... whatever. As it turned out he had several plain DVD players from a variety of manufacturers, but was keen to oversell me another $100 for features I didn't care about.

PS3 with Blu-Ray To this day, I see no point in paying for a Blu-ray DVD player when the media is more expensive and I can buy all the titles in standard DVD format. I did, however, purchase a PlayStation 3 a few years ago.

In addition to the game library it's opened me up to, I can now enjoy this allegedly superior DVD movie experience. The truth is, I just want to play games - I don't need Blu-ray capability to enjoy watching movies.

I will admit that, over time, I've altered my movie buying habits a bit. When I find one of those DVD/Blu-ray combo packs at a reasonable price, I'll buy it for the sake of having the Blu-ray option. Very often the bonus features are more robust on blu-ray and that's worth a little more to me.

My Internet-less PS3

I bought my PS3 quite late in that consoles life span. I still had many PS2 and Wii games to play and didn't feel as though I was missing out on anything I couldn't buy later on. I read a lot of reviews and everyone seemed to hate the new game process where the game is copied to the PS3 hard drive because the disc mech isn't fast enough to play the game. The disc is only good for storing the game's code. The other complaint was the constant system updates.

As i read up on the PS3, everyone complained that they couldn't simply sit down and play a game. There was always some sort of forced update to perform... over the cable company's lousy broadband service. That whole scenario really turned me off to the entire platform. When I finally bought a PS3 - I plugged it in, attached it to my TV, and waited as it copied game data to the PS3 hard drive.

Here's what I didn't do... I never configured it to reach out to my router. My PS3 has never had an Internet connection. Many of you will balk at that notion, but I have no interest in DLC, Sony Networks offering more stuff to pay for, or 12-year-olds who think its funny to curse into a headset. I just want to play games. And my PS3 has been great for that!

My Blu-ray Movie System Update

Here lies the reason I began telling this tale...
DVD movie So, I'm sick and stayed home from work. I feel awful, but the idea of tuning out the world and watching a kick-ass action flick appealed to me. It wasn't until I was sitting in front of the TV with my lunch that I realized the movie was on Blu-ray, no DVD version. No worries, I figured I'd pop it into the PS3 and enjoy the flick.

I put The Equalizer - starring Denzel Washington - into my console and took a bite of my sandwich. A message appeared on my screen saying I had to perform a system update!

I reflected on all those "update complaints" I'd read about and clicked the controller. I wasn't sure how this would play out since the console had no path to the Internet. To my surprise the fill-bar began filling, indicating the unit thought it was upgrading itself. OK. It occurred to me that the update must have been on the Blu-ray movie disc. How odd, I thought.

My long winded point is that even when I simply wanted to kick back and watch a movie, Sony still found a way to force me to wait through a system update!

There's a thing called "User Experience" and it's something that companies care less and less about as their cost to market rises. I remember being so excited about the first PlayStation and the huge amount of data that would fit on those game discs. For the mech to advance to Blu-ray as a standard, yet be too slow to deliver adequate gameplay seems ill planned. I miss the simpler days of game cartridges that delivered great games with great game play.
February 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

CollectorVision's upcoming NES racing game, Pedal To The Metal, is looking good

CollectorVision logo Retro game developers CollectorVision Games have an upcoming NES racer called Pedal To The Metal due out by the end of the year. It seems to be in the early stages and they have no game play videos available, but the liken it to a mix of Top Gear, Out Run, Lotus, Turbo and Rad Racer. A sample of the original music to be used in the game is available on YouTube.

CollectorVision's Pedal to the Metal NES game
CollectorVision's Pedal to the Metal NES game If you're not familiar with CollectorVision, you may have seen info for their recently funded SNES game, Justice Beaver, arriving in June 2015. One of the stretch goals for Justice Beaver was a port to Game Boy Advance! Gotta love devs who will port a retro title to another retro console!

Additionally, they develop games for Colecovision, Atari 2600, Intellivision, and others.
February 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Retro Technology Collection turns unusable vintage tech items into desktop art

The Retro Technology Collection glass vials Sometimes I think how awesome it would be to own a piece of history - real history - something tangible, real, and authentic. I could never pick just one item. How about a sony Walkman, or a Westinghouse TV, or a polaroid camera, or a an 8-track tape player, or an Apple Newton.

Yeah, there's no way I could settle on even a few... and what would I do with all that? It would likely sit in a box which doesn't justify owning something retro and awesome.

The Retro Technology Collection aims to solve this issue by offering you a slice of these great devices and many more! They've created a desktop display that holds chards of such technologies and devices, in labeled museum-grade glass vials. Curated from non-functioning unusable items, the collection turns unwanted stuff into a technology display that's sure to strike up some lively conversations!

Eddie Stover, created a Kickstarter campaign for his Retro Technology Collection. He assures us that all "parts" are harvested from devices that are beyond repair and are otherwise unusable. Take a look at the kickstarter page for a sampling of all the items that could potentially be placed in your collection. You can also follow their updates on the Retro Technology Collection Facebook page.

If you have an interest in vintage technology and want to own a piece of it (in very small pieces), this may be a great opportunity for you.

The Retro Technology Collection As a retro video game enthusiast, I'm a proponent of saving any and all retro gaming hardware devices in their original format, but I'm sure there are those who feel the same way about other vintage items they may collect. At the same time, I see the value in the Retro Technology Collection as it brings together a wide array of vintage items, not just from one genre.

The appeal to me is the diversity of items Eddie plans to include in each vial and the rarity of some of these items. I was very interested in the Atari games dug up in the Alamogordo landfill and later sold on eBay, for much the same reason- what a great piece of history! I like the idea of being able to own a small piece of something I owned long ago or an item I'd heard of but never thought I'd be able to attain.

Check out the Retro Technology Collection Kickstarter and see if this sounds like a unique item to brighten your desktop and inspire some great retro conversations... "Hey do you remember...."
February 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The massive amounts of snow in New England effect us in a variety of ways

Snow is piling up in record heights all around New England and it's caused some unexpected issues when it comes to buying a new video game or the latest amiibo.

Snow piling up outside a GameStop after several snow storms
February 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If you love playing retro games, take some time to learn how to preserve them

My house isn't a museum and neither is yours. That guy you know who owns the entire NES game library... his basement isn't a museum either. There's a reason that paintings by Monet, Egyptian mummies and dinosaur bones are in museums. They preserve them in ways the average person can not. But that isn't to say you can't have a huge impact on the preservation of video games and hardware.

You may feel that your box of game carts doesn't need to be in an environmentally controlled glass case. And you're probably right, but don't lose sight of all the times you need to clean the oxidation from the PCBs contacts...
Preserve retro games fortune cookie You don't need a museum quality display to help in the preservation of retro games. You need to look for ways you can help keep retro games and consoles from being wasted. Both consoles and games are out of production and in limited quantities. It is very important not to waste any of these resources from our past!

Never let a system or game be tossed into a dumpster - EVER! You may not be able to fix it, but someone probably can. Even if the system is trashed, there are likely plenty of parts that are usable to resurrect another console. None of these systems will ever be created again. Each one is precious regardless of it's condition.

Most people don't know much about electronics - especially electronics repair. If the power light doesn't come on, many of us are content to put the device inn the trash and buy a new one.

Never dispose of game consoles Where do you go to buy a new Nintendo NES or Atari 7800? Never throw away a piece of gaming hardware. If you don't want it, someone out there will care for it and repair it as needed.

I hope retro gamers will take an interest in electronics and how their favorite game consoles work. Often a non-functional console can be repaired, if you know what to look for and how to do it. Challenge yourself to get our old Atari 5200 working or order a new 72 Pin Connector for you NES to get it back in action.

If you help a person to see the value in an old PSone and get together with them to repair it, you've done a tremendous deed for the betterment of retro gaming preservation.

No action is too small or irrelevant! Help keep all gaming hardware out of dumpsters!!

February 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Skylanders Skystones game is now a physical card game found in select General Mills cereal boxes

Skylanders Skystones card game in Genreral Mills cereal boxes I'm a big fan of unique games - not just video games. I loved the idea of the Card Wars game seen in an episode of Cartoon Network's Adventure Time was released as a physical game. Recently a card game, Exploding Kittens, broke all sorts of records on Kickstarter when they amassed $8 million in funding when only asking for $10K - wow!

So, I was quite excited when I heard that the Skystones game seen in Activision's Skylanders Trap Team video game was coming to life! However, not in the traditional way. Skystones was being delivered inside various General Mills cereal boxes as a prize.

There are 4 different sets of Skylanders Skystones packs to collect - each set contains 10 cards, two of which are boss villain cards that unlock exclusive content in the Skylanders Collection Vault app.

A selection of cards will be available starting on February 14 at participating retailers across North America. Skylanders Skystones packs can be found in boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese's Puffs, Trix, Lucky Charms and more while supplies last.

Hearing this news, I went to my local grocery store to peruse the cereal aisle. They carried General Mills products, including all of the ones that are participating in the Skystones deal. I couldn't find a single box with mention of Skystones. I'm not sure if I'm too late or if stores in my area aren't part of this promotion. I tried several different stores, with no connection to one another, but couldn't find a single box.

Skylanders Skystones card game in Genreral Mills cereal boxes Keep an eye out in your area, if you're a Skylanders fan and would like to play Skystones outside of the Activision game. I like this trend of interesting elements of video games and other digital media becoming physical toys and games. It shows a lasting quality of the ideas created within digital worlds. Our real world needs more of this sort of crossover to benefit a wider range of fans.
February 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With a finite supply of game consoles it may benefit retro gamers to learn basic repair skills

As a kid, I remember the time a repair man came to our house to fix our Zenith television. It was one of those sets that looked like a piece of furniture - no way would that beast fit in our car. So the repair man came to us. I also remember the last electronic device I had repaired. It was my laserdisc player that failed in the early 90's. Under warranty, they replaced the main drive mech and I was back in action.

Electronics repair When it comes to electronics, we have become a disposable society (decades ago). We don't fix anything - we replace it. From stereos to cell phones and from computers to appliances - if it stops working we throw it away and buy a new one. We like to say that devices have become too sophisticated and miniaturized for normal folks to fix. That may be partially true, but not when it comes to retro game consoles and arcade games!

This brings two problems to a head. For one, most of us are not qualified to judge when an electronic device is beyond repair. Most of us dispose of electronics as soon as the power light dims. What do we know about electronics? Hint: very little. The second issue is we throw things away as if there is an endless supply waiting in the wings.

Patrick Scott Patterson brought up a great discussion about finite supplies and repair skills. Too often we hear of people throwing away game consoles and arcade cabinets because they aren't working or broken. Nintendo is still an active company, but they are no longer producing the NES or SNES. So, when you toss your NES top-loader into the trash, where is the next one coming from? Not from Nintendo!!

A lamp made from an NES controler and Zapper Gun From Scott's post:
It's not like there is an endless supply of this stuff, people. Most video game stuff from the 20th century was already thrown away ages ago. What we have left is a fraction of what we used to have and it shouldn't be destroyed like this.

You may have seen that lamp made from an NES & Zapper Gun or the Atari lamp on social media. Even if these things are made from broken parts and such, are we really at a point where we'll sacrifice systems to make a lamp?!?

And more importantly, who is qualified to know when a system is beyond repair? And even if it is... a broken unit still yields a plethora of parts that can help resurrect another console.

Humans have an amazing capacity to blame failure on everything but themselves. When that NES power light doesn't illuminate or your 5200 doesn't display the start-up screen, we say the hardware is broken, useless, toast, garbage, etc.

Unless you've ordered a Cap Kit and repaired one of your aging game consoles, I'm not certain you have the technical knowledge to determine when an electronic device is beyond repair. I won't lie, my soldering skills are pretty weak and I have little knowledge about electronics, but I'm smart enough to know that a "broken" game console still holds great value. It's a matter of understanding it's inner workings.

Dumbing Down

In the 80's, some VCR owners had no idea how to set the recorder's clock. Thus they also didn't know how to program it... and use it for it's primary purpose! Today, TV viewers time-shift everything with their DVR systems. They simply click on the name of the program and it's magically dumped onto a large hard-drive for viewing later. As such processes become easier, are we becoming dumber? Yes, indeed we are.

As retro gamers and collectors, it would be wise for us to delve into electronics and begin to understand what those magical consoles really do and discover how to repair them.

For those who never had the opportunity to peruse the depths of an 80's Radio Shack, it was an amazing experience that stimulated us to want to learn and explore. It's a shame that generations will grow up without a local Radio Shack full of fascinating parts, projects and wonders. Hopefully that broken console will act as the catalyst to motivate more retro gamers to better understand the hardware they love.

Over time, less and less of these wonderful game consoles and arcade PCBs will be available. Some disappear into private collections, but many succumb to human shortcomings and wind up in dumpsters. Any piece of retro gaming hardware is valuable - working or not - even if only for it's parts. Never throw away consoles or PCBs. Even if it's repair is beyond your skills, someone out there knows what to do.

I hope this serves as a wake-up call for retro gamers to learn more about the repair of game consoles and arcade games. That may soon be our only salvation for playing on original hardware!
February 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Has gaming evolved to mediocre games using super models to diffuse their spam-factor & shroud profits?

I've had a lot of fun playing Clash of Clans and have figured their success is somewhat verified by the television ads I frequently see. Those ad spots must be expensive. SuperCell's game is good fun and offers typical in-game transactions if you want to accelerate your activities. As you progress, you begin to feel that urge to splurge some real-world cash to get your village up to par for the next wave of attacks.

If you use social media or watch TV, you've probably seen Kate Upton in ads for Game of War: Fire Age. I'll be honest - I've never played this game and likely won't. The reviews have offered me no compelling reason to try it and the $40 million ad campaign makes me wonder about Gaming in general. Many have complained that Game of War grinds to a halt for those who choose not to use their credit card to advance.

How does gaming progress and reach new levels when games are derivative, favor those who spend real money, and employ super models to tempt users to engage with the product?

Kate Upton in Game of War: Fire Age video game Upton is not only a spokesmodel for the game, she's also "Athena", your digital in-game muse of sorts. As a retro gamer, this whole scenario is so different from the simpler days of the 80s. This is no surprise, but the values we cater to in today's era of gaming are shamefully contrary to the purpose of games from the 80s.

Back then... we wanted FUN! And we got it - tenfold! Infinite levels in arcade games made us put more quarters in the box, but we did so to further enjoy the game. Do we enjoy games that seemingly force micro-transactions? Does "paying to win" leave a player satisfied? I was terrible at Defender, but I loved playing it. It was a hard game to master, but amazing to play regardless.

Today's games tend to take on more epic story lines and adventures than my favorite arcade games and 8-bit console games, but all the technology and evolution doesn't offer me better games to play. The frenzy of descending Space Invaders, Evil Otto's villainous smile, saving cities from ICBMs, and blasting Asteroids seem simple today, but the emotion and connection I have with playing those games has rarely been replicated since.

Buying "gems" with MasterCard in order to accelerate the fortification of a digital village seems boring, time consuming, and financially preposterous. If today's game developers could deliver an experience like Galaga, they'd be sitting on a gold mine. One recent gold mine was Flappy Bird - a game where garnering a double digit score was a challenge. And it was great fun.. for a few minutes at a time. Who remembers playing Super Mario all night long! Most of today's games put me to sleep - unless Kate Upton is on screen. So, I guess that's $40 million well spent... yet no Galaga-like experience came to fruition.

Think about the things on which you really want to spend your hard-earned cash. Make sure you really get your money's worth. So few of today's games deliver the excitement of gaming's golden age, I wonder if they are really worth all the money we pour into them so Kate Upton can be purported as a gamer girl.
February 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'm taking a brief Valentine vacation with Player 2

My son is here for the long weekend so I'm taking a break from the online world to play video games like a madman! There's nothing better than sharing retro games with a cool kid! If you don't have one... go make one!
February 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today is a great day to play video games!

What a great day to spend playing video games!
Send a Valentine via Nintendo Play and fire up your favorite game console - today is play day!

Valentines from Nintendo Play
February 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Restoring an arcade game is more than the visual elements. There's a tactile feeling to many games

I've cobbled together arcade parts and wired up a few PCBs into functioning arcade cabinets, but I wouldn't really call it "restoration". Similarly, I'm not refinishing antiques when I hit an old table with Windex and a few paper towels. There's a lot more to it.

Donkey Kong Orange and Blue Pushbuttons from Mikes Arcade Putting all the components together is a lot of fun and I enjoy wood working, so building a custom cabinet is anther great facet of resurrecting a PCB to a playable format. However, there are those who aren't simply trying to create a playable arcade game- they want to replicate it down to the last detail.

There are several outlets for obtaining new decals for side-art and the control deck. Marquees can also be found. But there's another element to be considered - the tactile feeling of proper controls!

Check out this Kickstarter for Donkey Kong Orange and Blue Pushbuttons from Mike Haaland. You may know him from Mike's Arcade, a seller of arcade parts & accessories. They started manufacturing replacement parts for Donkey Kong style arcade cabinets, down to manufacturing the M3 carriage bolts used on the control panels.

When you hear him talk about the correct colors for DK arcade buttons, the stiffness of the button's spring or it's travel distance - you realize there's another level of arcade restoration akin to art.

If you're lucky enough to won a Donkey Kong arcade game, take a look at it's buttons and see if it feels the way you remember from 1981. If not... Mike's Arcade Kickstarter might be just what you need. On the other hand, authentic replica arcade buttons might be a fun addition to your gaming collection.
February 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari's Asteroids: Outpost lets you play Missile Command on an asteroid in an open world survival game

Atari's Asteroids Outpost logo Atari seems adamant about using their Golden Age IPs for a wide variety of projects as seen in their recent Jackpots casino game with loose tie-ins to several classic Atari titles.

Atari's Asteroids: Outpost as a 2600 cart Asteroids Outpost takes place on an asteroid. As a miner/colonist your goal is to survive, solve challenges, and expand your territory by building bases. Occasionally, there are small asteroid showers which you must shoot in order to gain their resources. This appears to be the tie-in to 1979's top-down shooter.

From Atari:
Set in the distant future, Asteroids: Outpost thrusts players into a harsh deep space environment. While on a massive, unforgiving asteroid, players face the challenges of exploring the asteroid, collecting resources, scavenging for ore, crafting equipment, and expanding their territory as they build highly customized bases - all while forming alliances and fighting off other players in challenging multiplayer gameplay. Recurring showers of smaller asteroids represent a source of wealth and a threat as players shoot down these incoming projectiles to defend their claims and harvest their components.

This game's delivery is "coming soon", so we'll have to wait to see how it plays. Atari is calling it a "bold re-imagining" of the original game. This seems so departed from the old arcade game, that I'm not sure the term "reboot" even applies. Atari CEO Fred Chesnais said in a press release, that Asteroids: Outpost will appeal to both fans of the classic Asteroids as well as enthusiasts of immersive survival games and expansive MMOs. Time will tell...

Atari's Asteroids: Outpost concept art
February 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

How does Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz wind up winning the Showcase Showdown?

The Price is Right for Wii Back in the mid 80s I bought a Wheel of Fortune for the NES. I rarely watched game shows, but something about them fascinated me. The Wheel was kind of fun on the NES. I used to wonder how many times I'd have to play before it began to reuse puzzles.

As I think back on this genre, I've always had an affinity for TV based games. I even bought Remote Control for for the NES - Loved that Mtv show with Kari Wuhrer!

A few days ago, I saw a copy of The Price Is Right for Wii and decided it was worth the $3.00 asking price. Purchasing it made me remember sick days in middle school when I'd crash on the couch and marvel at all those Showcase Showdowns.

I watched it during Bob Barker's heyday and couldn't imagine how anyone knew all those product prices. Then I grew up and realized that anyone who shops knows this stuff - lol.

Prowling around social networks today, I found a story about Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz being a contestant on The Price Is Right! What a crazy story. How does someone like that become a contestant on a game show... and why?

I guess I'm not the only one who likes Game shows, but I like em better as video games!

Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz on The Price is Right The Price Is Right game show franchise focuses on the TV show, but also includes video games, printed media and board games. The show premiered on September 4, 1972 on CBS. Bob Barker was it's longest-running host from 1972 debut until his retirement in 2007, when Drew Carey took over.
February 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Do you think DRM is about controlling your games, movies & music? Check your coffee pot

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is an annoying facet of the digital age. Digital media is far easier to copy (aka steal) than traditional analog media, so DRM is an effort to deter or prevent the copying of digital media. Various technologies are implemented to help ensure artists, developers, and creators are properly compensated for their work.

When I started playing video games, the Atari 2600 ruled the roost. My friends and I would get together, each bringing an armload of game carts, and play long into the night. We didn't think twice about those little black carts and what might be inside them. We just wanted to escape into the amazing games they offered.

Keurig 2.0 DRM coffee maker Others, however, were far more curious and wanted to know a lot more about the small PCBs inside those game carts. Needless to say, all of the 2600 games I played ad a kid fit onto one floppy disk. The challenge these days is finding someone who knows what a floppy disk is and can appreciate how many awesome Atari games will fit into 1.44 MB.

Coffee Gets DRM Protection

But DRM isn't solely a digital technology. Just as Macrovision ruined a lot of great movie experiences in the 80's, the folks at Keurig managed to "control" their coffee pots. Keurig isn't a slick high-brow appliance crafter. They're a division of Green Mountain Coffee that took off and made their parent company a ton of money. Personally, I'm not fond of their coffee... or any coffee that comes out of a device that can't be properly cleaned. Yuck!

A less-publicized facet of the 2.0 brewer was a scanning system that would reject third party k-cups. I imagine this idea was to bolster sales of Keurig's own brands - which used to be a small regional brand - but instead it incited fury in their customer base. Dispensing coffee in those idiotic little cups has become an important commodity in the coffee business. So, who would thing that the Keurig folks would devise a special symbol on their coffee to allow it, alone, to brew?

Just like the annoyance of digital DRM on games, movies, and music, Keurig 2.0 brewers won't make a pot of "dat other guy's coffee". So, if you've been infuriated by a poor gaming experience due to DRM infusions, rest easy knowing that some folks can't even enjoy a cup of coffee for the same reason.

What a world! We think of DRM as an artist protecting his/her product from being stolen via copying. One could extend that to a branded coffee pot that only accepts the manufacturer's coffee, but it seems like a petty use of the DRM concept. I'm all for protecting artists who have created amazing works, but my old percolator makes a damn good cup of coffee.
February 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Despite all-pink, Barbie Princess Power could inspire a better super hero video game

Barbie Princess Power Visit a Toys R Us and take a peek down the aisle displaying dolls for girls. You may be blinded by the pink glow emanating from the shelves! It's sad that so many manufacturers still haven't taken the time to see that girls don't dress in pink from head-to-toe. Even if the staunchest goth has a pink miniskirt in her closet, pink should no longer be a "defining" color in toys & dolls!

Barbie dolls have certainly contributed to the pinkification of toys and dolls aimed at girls. Even Barbie video games largely adhere to that color along with cute animals. I'm wondering if the super hero theme of Barbie Princess Power dolls and movie might inspire a few new colors and a more powerful Barbie. I refuse to believe that girls would identify with a super hero Barbie that wasn't pretty damn Super!

If she's going to be re-imagined as a super hero, give her a tough side to go along with it and carry that over to any video game tie-ins. That girl needs to kick some ass! If She's a super hero, I'm down with it!

Barbie Princess Power The advent of Sony's first PlayStation brought quite a few Barbie games to the new platform. Sure, there were some "pink horse" styled games, but there was also an action sports title and an adventure game where Barbie was playing a Lara Croft sort of character.

Barbie Super Sports for PlayStation Barbie Super Sports (1999) for PlayStation offers more changes of clothing than sports equipment, but at least she has the opportunity to shred.
Barbie Explorer for PlayStation Barbie Explorer (2001) for PlayStation offers up a Tomb Raider sort of adventure.

The Wii console (and many before it) has it's share of fashion-oriented Barbie games. I'm hoping that Princess Power might inspire a real super hero game that can be enjoyed by a wider audience. I often play the female characters in games from Tekken to SSX and certainly in games like Resident Evil and Tomb Raider. Barbie needs to inspire girls, not pander to outdated standards.

Barbie Princess Power This contrast makes me wonder why Barbie games are mostly pink. Certainly the games I mentioned are of the Teen and Mature ratings, but Barbie doesn't need to cater to toddlers alone - especially in a video game tie-in. Barbie had a Commodore 64 game in the mid 80s from Epyx, so it seems logical to expand her from being a pink icon. Let's face it - Kirby took that away!

Barbie made appearances on the Genesis (1992) and SNES (1993) via Barbie: Super Model. She even had a shopping adventure on the original Game Boy in Barbie: Game Girl. She's come a long way to become a super hero.

It would be fitting to let her super hero side be a powerful force to reckon with. I'm thinking laser eyes, fist of death, and vocal decimation. Just a thought...

Barbie: Game Girl
February 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Could the Q*bert reboot for PlayStation lead more devs to re-imagine other retro titles?

News of Q*bert being rebooted for PS4, PS3, and Vita is great news! It's an iconic arcade game from 1982 that had mass appeal and was ported to many home computers and consoles. It's a perfect title for a modernization.

Co-developed by Gonzo Games and Sideline Amusements, Q*bert Rebooted was released for PC and mobile this past Summer. Arriving soon on consoles delights the retro gamer in me that loves games on the big screen.

Q*bert reboot for PlayStation The original Q*bert is featured on the upcoming Q*bert Rebooted.
Q*bert reboot for PlayStation Q*bert Rebooted uses hexagonal tiles. Having 6 sides tiles, as opposed to 4, allows for some interesting level designs.

My favorite aspect f this reboot is the inclusion of the original arcade classic. So often, reboots take a character or premise and run with it as though it's an entirely new entity. As I see it, rebooting a game - certainly a beloved one like Q*bert - should include the original! If the reboot is fun, chances are the original game is too. Give gamers the chance to see where the reboot came from!

Q*bert for the original PlayStation I very often cite Rampage Total Destruction, for the Wii, as a cool reboot. They included multiple versions of the original along with the rebooted version which is a lot of fun too!

The trailer for the game indicates they have stayed true to the original game and simply updated the imagery and added more challenging levels via the six-sided tiles. I think that's a fantastic way to reboot Q*bert.

I was very excited about the BurgerTime Reboot in 2012, but the control was a bit off and Peter Pepper had near bionic jumping ability. At the same time, they took the original concept and created a really cool world in which to reenact it. I liked it mainly because they modernized BurgerTime with great respect for the original.

Q*bert is no stranger to PlayStation consoles. He appeared on the PSone in 1999. It will be nice to have him back. :)

The next logical question is who's next? What other golden age titles might be rebooted and modernized for our shiny new consoles? My mind reels! Berzerk, Yar's Revenge, Wizard of Wor... the list is endless!
February 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Brian Williams remembers seeing his initials on Defender's high score screen

The power of the human mind is incredible. When we forget where we left our car keys a memory is triggered and we know exactly where we last placed them. NBC's Brian Williams has been going through the same phenomenon on the web this past week. He's remembering everything!

Brian Williams remembers seeing his initials on a Defender high score screen. To commemorate his high score he took this photo with some of his gaming chums. Williams cites his pop culture fame as the door-opener that enabled his daughter Hayley to become the lead singer of Paramore.

Brian Williams remembers Kidding aside - If you missed this news story; NBC's Brian Williams issued an apology for "incorrectly remembering" an event during his coverage of the Iraq war. He remembered being on a helicopter that was brought down under fire. Others remember him being on another helicopter. His overall credibility has become a topic of scrutiny across the news media and the web. This guy may be NBC's glory-boy, but he's in a really bad situation that may end his career.

Check out the story behind the real version of this iconic photo taken at The Twin Galaxies Arcade in 1982.
February 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The “strangest Nintendo accessory” has no relation to any gaming company

Not long ago, I saw the Pedisedate device online with a comment about it being the "strangest Nintendo accessory ever". It certainly appears so, when seen connected to a Nintendo GameBoy. The context of the article I read made it immediately clear it was a medical device - not a Nintendo accessory!

My Retro Game Box However, a quick image search reveals that the Pedisedate is most commonly pictured attached to a GameBoy. The truth is this odd device will work just as well with the tape recorder your Dad bought in the early 70's. It simply needs a headphone port.

The device was a way to distract children while being sedated for minor surgeries and dental work. This explains why a device that looks like headphones covers the wearer's mouth. It also delivered sedation while the child listened to the game (or music) and drifted off.

The gaming communities interest in this odd device apparently stems from a 2009 Technologizer article as part of the 20th anniversary of the GameBoy.

As it turns out, this device was never intended to be any form or video game accessory. It's a medical device - of sorts - used to distract kids from the situation at hand giving them something familiar to listen to while being prepped for a medical procedure.

Twenty years from now, lets agree not to confuse the Virtual Boy as a cure for blindness or a telescope :)
February 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My Retro Game Box is a monthly subscription service for retro gamers who crave retro games

My Retro Game Box Even people who say they don't like surprises - like surprises. I've liked the idea behind Loot Crate and similar monthly subscription services, but iI've always felt as though I'd wind up with a lot of stuff that I don't really need. I'm all for action figures and t-shirts, but some of the offerings seem pretty broad to me.

Why isn't there a monthly subscription service that will send me games for my favorite retro gaming consoles?

Enter My Retro Game Box! The notion of not knowing exactly what you're getting is half the fun, but I want some assurance that I'll get something cool. My Retro Game Box keeps the element of surprise, but delivers retro games based on the consoles you own and the kind of games you enjoy!

Their service supports Nintendo's NES, SNES, N64, GameBoy, GBC, GBA and Sega's Mastersystem, Megadrive & Genesis - in either PAL or NTSC. Speaking of formats, they're based in Scotland and ship globally.

My Retro Game Box logo I believe this is a new service, so I can't speak from any personal experience, but if you head over to their website, you can check them out and connect with them on Twitter and Instagram. One thing I really liked is the ability to get games based the consoles you own. Thus you won't be sitting in front of your N64 with a Game Boy cart and a Genesis game. The surprise of a monthly game box is preserved while still delivering something you can play.

My Retro Game Box is not a store, so you can't create a wish-list. Just tell them you have an NES and a Mastersystem and wait for those carts to be delivered each month.

It sounds like you'll get "a few" games each month - some may be boxed with manuals, while others may be loose carts with a scuff or two. Some could be rare and others very common. If you mention your Atari 2600... they may be able to hook you up for that too. Cool surprise!

Visit their site and see what you think. I haven't heard of any subscription service that caters so specifically to retro gamers, ships globally, and still offers a surprise with each delivery.
February 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Schell Games is Kickstarting a sci-fi space adventure video game, Orion Trail

If the title, Orion Trail sounds familiar you may be thinking of Oregon Trail, an educational game produced by MECC in the early 70's. Orion Trail is a kind of similar... but in outer space!

Orion Trail I came across Orion Trail's Kickstarter and was immediately struck by the retro vibe and music. I don't have a lot of experience with adventure games of this sort, but I was really drawn in by it's premise, pixel art, and music.

For those who played Oregon Trail back in the 70's or more recently on Nintendo's 3DS, take a look at their kickstarter and see what you think. Oregon Trail was released on many platforms. I'm sure you've played it at some point - we all did! Now it's set in space thanks to Schell Games. If nothing else, how many games feature a Spacesquatch?

Orion Trail Orion Trail is sort of a turn-based simulator in which you have to properly manage your resources to solve problems, cure diseases and fend off attacks. As captain of the Indestructible II, flagship vessel of Galaxy Force, you can choose your officers and crew. These initial decisions will dictate how you choose to react to the circumstances that befall your ship on it's journey.

It sounds like serious stuff - and it is - but the game is full of humor as you try an Offensive maneuver when Diplomacy was needed. As you learn, you'll probably find yourself failing, dying and starting over. But each new adventure reveals a bit more of it's strategy and additional dry wit ;)

Schell Games has been developing games for over a decade. You may have heard about Enemy Mind early last year. There's a downloadable demo for Orion Trail as well as a Unity browser based version. Give it a try! If their Kickstarter campaign is funded their goal is to expand the game from the demo you (hopefully) downloaded and played to include more encounters, content, art and varying mission types. Sounds like fun!

Orion Trail
February 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

After decades of great products I'm sad to hear Radio Shack is closing

Radio Shack logo I'm really sad to hear about Radio Shack closing its stores following bankruptcy. I relied on them for decades beginning in the late 70s. No one carried the diverse product lines that they did. From project boxes to soldering irons and audio/video adapters and connections - there's nothing like Radio Shack.

Their unique products made them a unique store. From hi-fidelity to computers (who can forget the TRS-80??) they made a great name for themselves. But in recent years they began to look more and more like a smaller variation of generic box stores.

Radio Shack closing Over time it seemed as though all the amazingly unique products were disappearing and replaced with things I regularly found in other stores. In the 1980s, I could go into a Radio Shack and explore the aisles for hours, uncovering all sorts of treasures to tempt ones mind. That place was almost magical to me.

I know that change is inevitable, but seeing them turn into a cell phone destination really disappointed me. It seemed so far from what RAdio Shack had always done so well. As I think back on my shopping habits, in the last 10 years, I stopped visiting the Shack as often.

The interesting little items were no longer lining their shelves. I always relied on them for odd adapters and connectors to help me bridge a myriad of video game connections. From RCA switch-boxes to cable adapters - the Shack had my back!

I had high hopes that their resurgence a year or so ago would keep them going and enable the chain to secure a niche. In these modern times it was unlikely that Radio Shack would ever be able to reinvent themselves into that eclectic store I loved dearly, but I hoped...

With news of Radio Shack potentially seeking bankruptcy protection, the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of their shares - which quickly plummeted. Both Sprint and Amazon are interested in a majority of Radio Shack's physical locations. It seems that nothing will keep the wolves at bay. They smell blood and death is near.

I have fond memories and several projects that came from the ingenuity of Radio Shack. Radio Shack was just as integral part of my life in the 80s as arcades, Trans Ams, and Van Halen. If you want to take a walk down memory lane, there's a website that has archived most of Radio Shack's awesome catalogs. Take a look through the Radio Shack Catalog Archive.

Radio Shack xatalog archive
February 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I keep seeing these annoying tax preparation ads - I'd rather be gaming

I'm a procrastinator when it comes to things like doing my taxes. I'd much rather play retro games... even on a tablet :)

Free tax prpe or play video games? Who doesn't like Centuri's Vanguard? I discovered it at a Nathan's Famous in Mt. Kisco, NY and fell in love with it's shifting terrain and 4-way shooting. I even loved it when it came out for the Atari 2600!
February 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Peculiar browser game, First Person Lover, launched by tennis legend Bjorn Borg

While searching for details of the Australian Open tennis tournament, Bjorn Borg's name came up. A few clicks later, I discovered he has a clothing line and was promoting the line with a browser-based game. My interest was piqued!

Borg was a tennis legend who held world number 1 status and retired in 1983. I assumed his clothing line might be of the athletic nature and the game might showcase it in a tennis scenario. Nope. Not even close. Titled First Person Lover it's a very different approach to the traditional First Person Shooter game genre.

First Person Lover The Bjorn Borg SS15 collection is featured in the game as detailed on their website:
This spring we proudly present our new collection through a computer game. In the First Person Lover game you battle evil forces with the power of love. The game is free, web-based, and runs on PC/Mac at Shop the SS15 key looks.

Just when you feel there may be some merit to this unusual take on the FPS genre, we are treated to a brief description of the available weapons. From a Kiss gun to a Rainbow crossbow, this is a different sort of game.

The Kiss Gun - First Person Lover The Kiss Gun.
The Petal Shotgun - First Person Lover The Petal Shotgun.

The Rainbow Crossbow - First Person Lover The Rainbow Crossbow.
The Bubble Blaster - First Person Lover The Bubble Blaster.

The Teddy Grenade - First Person Lover The Teddy Grenade.
Bjorn Borg Bjorn Borg.

If this game sells Borg's line of clothing - power to him! But from a gaming point of view, it's a bit peculiar for those who are used to battling in shooters, not lovers. Who knows, maybe this is the future of retail - a shopping tie-in game that promotes the product. We're accustomed to movies having video game tie-ins, so why not extend it to other marketing opportunities? It's a crazy world out there.

The Bubble Blaster - First Person Lover Love it or not, you should really take a few minutes to play this game. It's a mash-up of all sorts of... things and stuff. Just give it a whirl. It's an unreal journey into oddities you just don't see in the average game. It'll put a smile on your face and you might wind up buying a shirt... or shooting someone with your Kiss Gun and giving them a new shirt.
February 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Nintendo Quest documentary film will also become an NES game - on a cartridge

In an effort to provide a physical DVD version of their Nintendo documentary to more fans, the creators launched a small Kickstarter campaign. One of it's stretch goals was the creation of a homebrew NES game based on the movie. The stretch goal was $25,000 and they made it! Considering the campaign was for only $1,000, that's a pretty good accomplishment.

There's still time to get in on this deal for both a copy of their Nintendo Quest documentary and an NES game based on collecting the NES game library in 30 days. It's going to be a cool movie and the idea of a tie-in game makes this a very special opportunity for Nintendo fans and collectors.

Nintendo Quest Check out their kickstarter campaign and website for info and links to all their social media. Great stuff! We can't wait to see this film and the idea of a companion video game is insanely awesome!
February 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Katy Perry's Wiimote inspired microphone leash was tweeted about from the Super Bowl XLIX half-time show

When I saw this portion of the Super Bowl XLIX half-time show with Katy Perry holding this leashed mic, I instantly thought about my Wii. Twitter was already aglow with Katy-Wii tweets. :)

Katy Perry's Wiimote inspired microphone leash
February 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Super Bowl XLIX isn't the only game in town! #Tecmo #Mattel

Tecmo Super Bowl
Tecmo Super Bowl Tecmo Super Bowl (1991) for Nintendo NES

Mattel Electronics Football
Mattel Electronics Football Mattel Electronics Football (1977) handheld game

Super Bowl Sundae
Super Bowl Sundae Tomodachi Life: Football Uniform
STomodachi Life Football Uniform Just in time for the Sper Bowl, I got a SpotPass that gave me this football uniform.
February 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari's social casino venture may dilute the value of the brand when it needs reinforcement

Atari JackpotsCart as a 2600 cartridge Not long ago I heard the current owners of Atari IPs had decided to go into the online social casino arena with a classic arcade game tie-in. Atari Jackpots appears to be that venture. Partnering with FlowPlay, they have created a virtual world around casino games with a bit of arcade flare.

Many online casino oriented sites simply present the individual game screens, Atari's game lets you pick an avatar (character) to identify you as you go from place to place. Aside from arcade themed slot machines and other casino games, you can walk around various parties, a pool, and other areas.

I see the value of widening the online casino gaming offerings. A friendlier interface makes you feel like you are part of the game rather than simply staring at a slot machine. But, I also feel that the gambling audience is more distant from video games and may not care about an Atari crossover, despite their high recognition in gaming. Casino "gaming" is different - almost separate - from arcade gaming.

Atari Jackpots Atari Jackpots I'm not too familiar with social casino gaming, but it seems like an interesting diversion from the standard notion of gambling. However, when you insert in the Atari name with casino gaming, I get a little confused.

For me, Atari has always conjured arcade and home video game scenarios. When I think about gaming, I don't think of roulette. slot machines or Las Vegas. That seems like a different world - a world I would call "gambling" rather than "gaming". When these two mix in a product like Atari Jackpots, I wonder... who wins?

Atari Jackpots Obviously, the partnership behind this venture stands to make money, but I wonder what the cost is farther down the road. I'm an Atari fanatic and will shamelessly buy almost anything brandishing that iconic logo, but there also has to be a protection of the brand.

I wasn't wild about their 2014 promotion with Denny's restaurants. My objection was that they altered their classic games with fast food imagery. Asteroids became Hashteroids and a ketchup bottle was shooting at hash browns. You don't see Ronald McDonald dressed in black wearing a sombrero... and there's a reason!

There's nothing wrong with sombreros or hash browns, but you don't alter your brand - you affiliate it with these things. Reward Denny's customers with the awesomeness of Asteroids, don't turn it into shooting ketchup. This devalues your brand!

Atari Jackpots I wonder if Atari Jackpots has the same effect. You don't seem to be able to play any of Atari's classic games through this interface, but rather their imagery is strewn around a casino setting. I see the short term gains, but as time moves on, the original greatness of Atari games must be reinforced!

When was the last time you played a classic arcade game on a Generation 8 console? Outside of a few downloadable games, they are scarce. You won't see Atari's greatest hits on a shelf at GameStop. Generation 8 doesn't even have a Namco Museum release! You can find retro games on mobile, but I'm not sure that experience really showcases the grandeur of arcades and home consoles of their era. And using emulators on small mobile screens has the same deflating effect.

Atari Jackpots themes when I see the above offering of themed casino games, it makes me wonder how many gamers know Atari was a gaming company versus those who lived through the late 70s and played Atari games in arcades and on the 2600. There's a big marketing difference between associating Atari with gaming and associating it with the amazing feeling of playing those games.

It may seem like semantics, but as the brand ages, fewer consumers know what it's like to play Missile Command with a trackball versus finger-swiping at ICBMs on a smartphone. I feel there is a tremendous difference in terms of later generation's perception of Atari's legacy.

How much longer can the current partnership plop the Atari logo onto a product and expect a favorable return? They need to reinforce what the brand stands for. And I'm fairly certain that loose tie-ins with gambling isn't the answer.

January 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

January 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Disappointed by Sharapova vs Williams #AusOpen2015 final, I can't even play a video game rematch

Tennis video games I began taking tennis lessons at an early age. Of all the things my parents forced me to do, tennis was the one I really enjoyed. Soccer, Chess, and Judo just didn't cut it when I was a kid. Tennis is a sport that has stayed with me through my adult life. Naturally, I've always had a soft spot for tennis video games.

Tennis video games From the early days of Real Sports Tennis on the Atari 2600 and 5200, I next went to the NES with Everett and Lendl Top Players Tennis from 1990 and Jimmy Connors Tennis (1993). I loved the Connors game - tons of fun!

In the 8-bit days, sports games lacked the definition that we see in todays games. Thus, I was eager to delve into dome of the more peculiar offshoots of tennis video gaming. I picked up Mario Tennis for the Virtual Boy and Snoopy Tennis for the Game Boy Color.

Jimmy Connors Tennis had a pretty good image of Connors Even in '93 the NES could deliver a full-screen image of Jimmy that was quite accurate for it's era. As technology progressed we began to get more realistic imagery and game play.

Acclaim's VTennis for the PlayStation (1997) gave me high hopes until I began playing it. The PlayStation delivered so much potential, but this game was a polygon-nightmare. But it was a step toward the realistic looking games on the horizon.

You have to love the "Outlaw" sports series. I got a kick out of Outlaw Tennis for the PS2, but it was really the Top Spin and Virtua Tennis that gave the sport of tennis a great visual representation.

Vying for Top Tennis Players

I always root for Maria Sharapova when there's a tournament going on. She's an amazing player who fights so hard to win - always fun to watch.

Maria Sharapova in Top Spin 3 She recently lost to Serena Williams in the Australian Open which prompted me to pit these two competitors against one another on my PS3! i figured either Top Spin or Virtua Tennis would do the trick... But No!

As it turns out, I couldn't find a release featuring both players. Maria appears on most recent tennis games, but I only found Serena on Top Spin 4. This makes me wonder how they choose (or bid for) players appearances.

Obviously, they need the players consent to use their likeness, but I wonder what the "behind the scenes" negotiations entail. I find it curious that Maria appears in so many of the recent tennis games, but Serna only appears in one - one that Maria does NOT appear in. Coincidence? Makes me wonder.

I was disappointed to not be able to pit Maria against Serena to fight for a new outcome in a virtual Australian Open. Stranger than this is the fact that neither Top Spin nor Virtua Tennis has been updated since 2011 and have no presence on PS4 or Xbone. I know that tennis games don't have the same appeal as other sports, but it seems as though there's a whole new roster of players they could incorporate.

I'd love to see more players from the past. Let Bjorn Borg take on John Isner. We shall see.. but to appreciate tennis on modern consoles, you have to revisit it on the Atari 5200 and Nintendo NES!
January 30, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's New 3DS reverses the “Ford Pinto Memo” with A/C charger savings

I was a huge fan of AMC's Pacer and Gremlin (still am!) from the early 1970's. Certainly not part of the "muscle car" genre, but they've got such classic styling. Compared to today's homogenized vehicle design, the 70's certainly had a flair for unique design. I truly miss the inspired designs and desire to make automobiles stand out. Today's auto designs are shamefully boring!

AMC Pacer AMC Pacer - a two-door compact automobile that was produced in the United States by the American Motors Corporation between 1975 and 1980.
AMC Gremlin AMC Gremlin - a subcompact formally introduced on 1 April 1970 and manufactured and marketed in a single, two-door body style in North America (1970-1978) by AMC.

From that same glorious era came the Ford Pinto - another classic design. I'm still partial to AMC, but Ford was a hard company to ignore. The Pinto's legacy from the late-70's is rife with allegations of a rear-end defect that left the fuel tank vulnerable during rear-end collisions. Without mincing words, Pintos had a high rate of explosive fireballs when involved in rear-end collisions.

Ford being like most corporate entities, did a cost/benefit analysis (called the Ford Pinto Memo) to see how to best approach the problem. Again, like most corporate entities, they determined it was cheaper to fend off legal action than change the dangerous design of the Pinto.

It was determined that resolving the gas-tank issue would cost $11 per vehicle. I'm sure Pinto owners would gladly have paid an additional $11 to lessen the chances of a fiery highway death, but Ford was about offering deals, not raising prices. Thus, scandal rose as more and more legal cases were filed.

Savings with Nintendo -vs- Ford

Similar to Ford, Nintendo is seeking to save their customers money too. Where Ford's savings plan potentially involved being killed by their product, Nintendo's savings comes from an optional A/C charger. Don't you wonder if one of your many chargers would work with ALL your devices? Sometimes they are interchangeable, but other times they deliver a damaging power load. It's always best to charge each device with the charger designed for that purpose.
3DS Charger
With this in mind, Nintendo says that the New 3DS uses the same charger as the original 3DS. Therefore, they are not including a charger in the box when selling the New 3DS. Many customers already own a 3DS, so why make them pay for an additional charger? Outrage filled the internet. Fury was unleashed.

Sure, there will be some folks who buy a New 3DS and don't realize they may need to also buy a charger, but in tough economic times, why are so many people angry (or even puzzled) over Nintendo's decision. Chargers from the DSi, DSi XL, andy 3DS and 2DS will work fine withe the New 3DS.

There is also a benefit in the form of choice. For example you can buy a Nintendo branded charger or one from GameStop that allows charging via USB if you happen to need juice while away from a traditional electrical outlet.

My advice is to let Nintendo save you a few bucks. Perhaps the savings don't amount to Ford's $11 savings, but Nintendo products typically don't erupt in a ball of flames.
January 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

30th Floor Records' Synths of Rage pays chiptune tribute to Sega Genesis classic, Streets of Rage

After growing up with Atari, I went down the Nintendo rabbit hole bypassing most Sega products until the Saturn was released. A fair number of games were released to both Nintendo and Sega consoles, but there were always some exclusive games - Like Streets of Rage.

30th Floor Records' Synths of Rage I didn't realize the tragedy of missing out on Sega's Streets Of Rage until playing them at a friend's house. I couldn't afford to support more than one console at a time and I went from NES to SNES. Alas, I didn't really get to play an adequate amount of SOR until it arrived on the GameCube and PS2 as part of a Sonic compilation disc. I've also enjoyed it more recently on the PS3 and 2DS.

Synths of Rage shirts Streets of Rage is an awesome series of games and it's legacy has been captured in a chiptune release from 30th Floor Records! Each of the 24 producers featured have picked their favorite track from all 3 Streets of Rage soundtracks, re-imagined it, and remolded it to their unique style. I was tipped off to this awesome release via a post on Retro Games Collector.

Synths of Rage (available on BandCamp) is a tribute to the music from the SOR games, originally composed and produced by Yuzo Koshiro, Kyoji Kato, and Motohiro Kawashima.

We highly recommend this album! You can buy a copy on BandCamp and if you feel so inclined, you can also buy a Synths of Rage t-shirt.
January 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The shuttering of online video game publication, Joystiq, reveals that AOL still exists

Joystiq logo Reading a recent Polygon headline about the closing of video game publication Joystiq caught me off guard. I felt an internal jolt - a pain of sorts. It's a familiar feeling from past news of similar closings. When Larry Flynt's skateboard mag, Big Brother, was shelved or Mac World magazine or the closing of Borders Books - I was stunned. These familiar things that had filled my life, in some manner, were suddenly gone. It oddly feels like mourning a loss.

Not as tragic as the loss of a loved one, but much the same in the feeling that something has been taken from me that couldn't be replaced. Voids will always be filled, but that filling is never adequate. We identify with certain things and they become a part of us. They become something that isn't easily replaced - that's what made them special in the first place.

I enjoyed Joystiq over the years.
I had no idea they were ten years old.
I had no idea they were owned by AOL.

I had no idea that AOL still existed!

To me America Online was a dial-up service that somehow weaseled their way into Time Warner. In the early 90s I was intrigued by modems and the amazing things they could connect to. OK, if the truth were to be told... the things I connected to were hardly "amazing". They were the same services that many of us discovered.

America Online logo Despite their garden-variety nature, I adored Prodigy, Compuserve, Delphi and even AOL. America Online seemed to be the next evolution in such online services. Where command line yielded to visually appealing GUI interfaces, AOL seemed to do this for the text-ridden services of it's competitors.

But we all discovered this thing called the internet and ... well, who needed AOL any more?

I missed that awkward voice telling me "You've got mail," but the Net was open and AOL mail was locked inside that proprietary little world that I no longer needed. Gradually, the mailbox at the end of my driveway contained fewer and fewer AOL upgrade diskettes and CDs. Not long after, I forgot all about AOL. I assumed they went the way of the buggy whip with the advent of automobiles.

Once a company that filled me with awe and wonder, I let AOL slip from my memories as they were easily replaced by the wide open world of the world wide web. AOL was no Big Brother, nor Mac World, and they certainly provided nothing as astounding as my local Borders Book store. AOL was eminently replaceable. They served their purpose and I moved on as soon as they lagged behind something obviously better.

In 2015, the last company I ever expected to hear about was America Online or AOL as they prefer to be called. I didn't know they existed in our modern world of the "internet of everything". Discovering they own Joystiq among other properties, surprised me.

I'll miss Joystiq since they provided something useful, interesting and often challenging. Knowing that AOL still exists prompts me to wonder if buggy whips still have SKUs in auto parts databases.
January 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

How many push-ups does it take to unlock Missile Command? Ask Atari Fit

It looks as if the folks behind Atari have licensed some of their iconic game library to create a fitness app branded with the Atari name. They call it a gamified fitness app and it's coming to iOS and Android this month via Atari Fit.

Atari Fit logo Having bought an Atari 2600 in the early 80s and a Jaguar on launch day in 1993, my perception of Atari gets a bit skewed. I have to remind myself that the companies that made each of these products and the recent mobile games are all very different entities.

"Atari" is certainly an iconic brand, but it's only a brand. The founders and culture are long gone and that's an important component to any business - the employees! That means that Atari Fit is a company that has licensed the right to use the Atari logo - it may be part of the current partnership that owns rights to Atari's assets and brands. When you see a modern product with that amazing logo, remember... these aren't the guys who brought you Asteroids and Missile Command!

Atari Fit I'm not one to evaluate a fitness app since I'm far more likely to be sitting on the couch with a joystick that trying to unlock Atari mobile games via fitness achievements. None the less, I'm interested in anything with an Atari logo and have been curious to see how the company chooses to use it's IPs after it's collaboration with Denny's.
Atari Fit screen shots
The app is touted as being full of social features and compatible with popular wearable health & fitness devices. In exchange for your sweat, you build points that build toward unlocking classic Atari arcade games.

As reported by PR NewsWire:
"Atari Fit is the first fitness app to motivate and reward players with gameplay for being active in between gaming sessions," said Fred Chesnais, Chief Executive Officer, Atari. "It's a gamified fitness experience with an Atari twist. Players are motivated to work toward their fitness goals, while offering a fun, competitive experience where they earn coins and can unlock their favorite classic Atari games. The team and leaderboard components are especially unique to the Atari Fit experience, as players around the globe can exercise, play and get healthy together."

As I said, I'm not into fitness, so I can't speak to the benefits of any of this, but I am interested to learn more about "gamified fitness". Actually, I'm curious to know what else can be gamified. It sounds like a marketing or PR term that holds great meaning in a conference room. They're adding games as a reward for fitness goals.

Atari Fit screen shots Please excuse me while I indulge in the pizzafication of my stomach. If I were to use this app, I'm sure it would soon be teling me, "No Asteroids for you, Fatass."

January 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Will the momentum behind an X-Files reboot produce a video game too?

I loved watching the X-Files week-to-week on Fox. It was an amazing show that always left me wanting more. When it began to appear nightly in syndication, I was elated. There seemed to be enough episodes to continue on for a lifetime. Alas, all good things must come to an end - even when the Lone Gunmen lingered for a season or two.
X-Files Mulder & Scully
With it's nine seasons on DVD and the occasional movie, I succumbed to the reality that, this was the end of the X Files.

At a cast reunion during the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, the idea of a TV reboot was suggested. Apparently Gillian Anderson was all over it and it seems as though she and David Duchovny both want to return to chasing aliens. Several sources have posted stories confirming a strong possibility of a TV reboot.

Unlike many TV shows, The X files was very short on video game tie-ins. There were 2 PC games, one was aslo released on the PlayStation, and a PS2 title that was a sequel to the PS1 game. For such an epic show with a huge following, the video game component was pretty dormant.

Each of these games got a moderately good reception for the most part. Some were hailed for their attention to detail of the X-Files mythology while others had typical issues when trying to replicate the dynamic from TV to game console. It's a shame that there were no Nintendo efforts for the X-Files.

The X-Files Game for PC The X-Files Game for PS1 The X-Files Game for PS2 Resist or Serve The X-Files Unrestricted Access for PC

One can only hope that a reboot of the show would cause a marketing blitz with all sorts of tie-in items from video games to toys. I can easily envision marketers clamoring to get their X-Files product on retail shelves. Audiences are so fickle that companies often rush to market to capitalize on the public's interest that may soon wane.

Fake mock up of an X-Files game for the Atari 2600 I'm confident that there's a homebrew developer out there who's dying for a reason to create an X-Files game for the Atari 2600. A reboot of the TV show with both Duchovny and Anderson should be reason enough to get a wonderfully pixelated game that lets us search for the truth.

Games have been designed around far less stellar circumstances. Who knows maybe it would spread and we'll be treated to homebrews for the Colecovision and Intellivision.

It's such an iconic IP, that it could be spun into an amazing blitz of products. I'm down for a Dana Scully lunchbox... if anyone in that arena is testing for viable marketing conditions. What I'd really love to see is a video game that pays tribute to the original show and carries forward with the rebooted story line.

Of course I'm getting ahead of myself... I guess we should wait to see if a reboot actually comes to fruition. Here's hoping!!
Mulder & Scully get married in Tomodachi life I feel I've done my part by getting Mulder and Scully to get married in Tomodachi Life!
January 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Tend to both sides while eating Cheerios while launching from the Weapons Van

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Other times it's worth only five or six...

A very odd Playstation Vita ad This is a fairly peculiar PlayStation Vita ad. Sony doesn't strike me as the kind of company that gets this "edgy" with their advertising. We know the Vita has controls on the back side too, but this is a rather obtuse way of making an attention-grabbing analogy. We admire the effort, but there's not enough tie-in to make it either obvious or humorous. Again - we admire their efforts :)
A retro style Cheerios box from their Throwback series of packaging Yeah, we eat retro for breakfast! This is a retro style Cheerios box from General Mills' Throwback series of packaging.

Very reminicient of Spy Hunter I love this picture. When I first saw it, I immediately thought of Spy Hunter from the arcades of the 80s. It has a "launching from the Weapons Van" feel to it!
January 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Actress, producer & singer Traci Lords lends her voice to an upcoming video game

A recent post on Traci Lords' Facebook page announced she'll be voicing another video game! You may recall her voice as Layla Stockton in Hitman: Absolution or Commander Kyoto in Defender.

Traci Lords to lend her voice to an upcoming video game I love finding celebrity voices in various works. From animated movies to video games and even narration. So many times I'll her a voice and know it's a celebrity, but can't put my finger on the name. Several times I've actually bought a game because a celebrity I liked was voicing a character. Wet comes to mind.

She has controversial background in the entertainment industry, but I was overjoyed to discover her in the movie Not of This Earth (1988). She was later in Blade and Cry Baby among many others.

Too many celebrities have released awful albume, but Traci's 1995 album, 1000 Fires, is an exception. It's a killer techno album that she created.

She's a pretty diverse lady, to say the least. Check out her autobiography and you'll see her perseverance in a whole new light. I'm still waiting for her TV series, First Wave, to come out on DVD! She was cool as Jordan Radcliffe.
January 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Heather Wensler, from King Of The Nerds, started gaming on the NES playing Joust

I was pretty excited about the first season of King Of The Nerds (on TBS) a few years ago. I had high hopes that it might elevate nerdiness to a new level. One of the contestants was YouTuber Danielle/TradeChat/Panser and many of them have high-tech job titles. It was kind of fun, but at the end of the day... just another reality show with no script and semi-planned antics.

Heather Wensler, from King Of The Nerds started gaming with NES Joust As season 3 loomed, I saw an article on one of the contestants by Patrick Scott Patterson. I was delighted to discover that Heather Wensler stated her first gaming experience was on the NES... playing Joust! How cool is that!?!

Everyone always says their first game was Super Mario - likely the pack-in game - so it's nice to hear about someone who has fond memories of Joust.

I loved the co-op aspects of the arcade game - you could team up or slay one another. Few games offered that diversity of play simply based on the players immediate instincts.

A local arcade in my area added Joust to their location. That's pretty cool since I hadn't seen a Joust cabinet since the one I played in the early 80s. With all the modern consoles capable of playing arcade classics, I tend to forget how long it's been since I've played some of the original cabinets.

Once you have an arcade joystick in hand, a game controller just doesn't feel quite right. As a kid, I was so excited when my favorite arcade games could be played at home on my Atari 2600. Now I get excited to find a favorite arcade game out in the wilds.

Go check out Heather on King of the Nerds and if your local arcade doesn't have a Joust cabinet, be like heather and pick it up for the NES!

King Of The Nerds cast - 2015 The cast of Kink Of The Nerds, 2015

King Of The Nerds cast - 2015
January 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

This Bandai Pac-Man multi game displays a kill screen on the packaging with a bonus Level 256 game

Long ago, I bought one of those multi-game joysticks that has a dozen games built into it. I thought it might be fun to have around to play a quick game on the fly. My son discovered it and playing Dig dug led us down a path to where we regularly play retro games on my old Atari and Nintendo consoles.
Pac-Man 256 game
For that, I am thankful. I get a kick out of these devices, but I wish they'd license a few more games. They always have the same games on each release. I guess it's sort of like the Flashback consoles that often have the same core set of games installed.

I was in my local Toys R US and decided to take a look at this Bandai Pac-Man multi game. These games are usually square so the odd Pac-Man shape caught my attention. I hadn't looked at one of these in quite a while, so I was secretly hoping there would bea few new games on this one. No such luck.

However, the back of the box had a strange but familiar image - the Pac-Man kill screen. This seemed like an odd graphic to have on the back of the box. It was showcasing a bonus game they seem to be calling Level 256. A while back we wrote an article about Kill Screens - which are a mathematical facet of progressing in an arcade game beyond the point where the game can logically continue (in a programming sense).
The back of the Pac-Man 256 box showing the kill screen image
These all-in-one units often appeal to casual gamers, so I was curious to know what this bonus game is all about and why they decided to promote it with a kill screen image. Could this game actually have the kill screen built into it? Or is this some sort of marketing ploy to appeal to retro gamers who know about this screen from the arcades?

Alas, these thoughts crossed my mind later and I've been pacing back and forth wondering why I didn't buy the Pac-Man game and delve into this kill screen matter. I'm also really interested to know what the bonus Level 256 game is all about.
January 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

3DS game, Woah Dave, may get a physical release on the console that inspired it - The NES

Plotting the path of a games release strategy can become difficult as mobile games go to consoles and arcades, while some arcade hits wind up on phones. It's not unusual to have games released on one platform emerge on another.

Retro games occasionally appear in the Nintendo, Sony, and/or Microsoft online stores, but here's an interesting switch up. We recently discovered Woah Dave on the Nintendo 3DS eShop (it's available on many platforms). It's retro inspiration and game play led us to download it.
Woah Dave Logo
Woah Dave was inspired by the NES and the game's creator is excited to release the game in that original format. This was reported on several sites - Jason Cirillo of Choice Provisions told Tiny Cartridge they'd have to tone down the gameplay, but they really want to release Woah Dave as an actual NES cartridge!

In Woah Dave!, players gun for digital glory by slaughtering aliens, stealing their loose change, and racking up the highest score possible.

Woah Dave
Woah Dave screen This is a really fun game and it's available on several platforms - we highly recommend checking it out! W'd love to see Woah Dave as a genuine NES cartridge! I wish more developers who obviously adore the NES would consider doing the same.

I understand that such a venture is likely not a profitable one and will appeal to a limited number of people, but there are gains in this area that go beyond money. Releasing a retro inspired game on a classic console, like the NES, would certainly give a lot of credibility to the developer and earmark a part of gaming history for them.

As far fetched as this will sound, I think every developer who loves retro games should endeavor to put his or her code onto an original console that inspired them to develop "retro" games in our modern age. Easy for me to say... I only know HTML, but still a good idea! :)
January 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's customer loyalty program, Club Nintendo, was trending on Twitter due to it's discontinuation

Club Nintendo trending on Twitter Seeing Club Nintendo trending on Twitter today meant something was up. Soon my feeds were stuffed with news that Club Nintendo is winding down as Nintendo begins to plan and implement a new customer loyalty program.

As of today, no future games can be registered. The last day of March will end your ability to earn coins and register games. Come the last day of June... it all goes away. I highly suggest logging into your account or visiting the Club Nintendo website for all the details.

Your info can be carried over to the new loyalty program, but all coins will be lost. Now's the time to register all your stuff and snag any available rewards.

I always hate to see something go - even though a new program will swoop in to replace it. Club Nintendo has been in North America for 6 years! Alas, this news doesn't really effect me since I'm way too cheap to purchase many new games. Thus I have very little to register.

The Club Nintendo site is so slow tonight, it's nearly unusable. Several areas fail altogether. I assume with the doomsday news folks are checking in to see how much loot is stashed away in their accounts.

Club Nintendo trending on Twitter This image came up when the Club Nintendo website was unable to process a request. I'm sure my coins are safe.
January 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With the film release approaching, help Nintendo Quest become a new homebrew NES game

As fans of The NES Club's documentary film - now known as Nintendo Quest - we backed it on Kickstarter, in 2013, and have followed their journey online. However, their journey has evolved into more of a whirlwind dream in which crazy stuff just keeps happening! Check out the latest Nintendo Quest Kickstarter.

Nintendo Quest If you're not familiar with the story:
One man. 30 days, 678 games. No online purchases. It's the premise that launched a film over 10,000 miles in the making and showcases the adventure of video game rock star, Jay Bartlett, a fanatic collector in pursuit of his dream to own a complete official North American NES library. Along the way, filmmaker Rob McCallum examines the enduring legacy of the NES and Nintendo.

We knew this project was going to be amazing as we began following them on social media. They promoted their documentary by getting everyone stoked about their process and progress. They kept their social media accounts filled with their adventures as Jay criss-crossed the continent in search of nearly 700 NES games... in only 30 days.

So many kickstarter campaigns lose momentum after reaching funding (or before) and the creators then have to deliver on their promises. Not so with Nintendo Quest. They shared the adventures of meeting the 700 game challenge in 30 days - on social media and also introduced a lot of gaming luminaries who popped up along the way.

In the year and a half since their Kickstarter was funded, their online presence has increased. They have podcasts and guest on other podcasts. They share related gaming info and keep us up to date on conventions and appearances they are making. They've done an amazing job of engaging their followers from beginning to end. That's no small feat and they should be applauded for keeping in touch with their backers and contributing so much to the retro gaming scene.

Nintendo Quest NES game

Nintendo Quest- the NES Game

If you missed out on the first Kickstarter for the film, they've set up another one for those who would still like to get a physical copy of Nintendo Quest. This is NOT a 2nd attempt to get more of your money! This is a small campaign for only $1,000 and it has some awesome stretch goals that benefit those who backed the first campaign.

The first two stretch goals have been reached which gives initial backers of $25+ the 8-bit soundtrack on cassette and an extra disc of behind the scenes stuff from interviews, more game hunting footage, and some laughs.

Still to be met is an actual NES game based on the film! If they can get $25K in funding, they will release an actual NES game cartridge featuring a game based on the movie.

Check out the latest Nintendo Quest Kickstarter campaign and get a copy of the film or boost yourself to another tier to help reach the NES game cart goal. How cool would it be to have a game based on the film? Might be one of the rarest releases ever - which fits in brilliantly with the documentary itself.

We highly suggest getting Nintendo Quest on DVD and following their social media accounts. If you love retro gaming, you'll feel right at home!
January 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Terminator Genisys trailers seemingly spawned fears that Roomba vacuums may do more than annoy pets

With a new trilogy of Terminator films on the horizon and the looming date of destruction also known as Judgment Day, it would seem that some folks want to put Cyberdyne Systems in the headlines. After all, Skynet will getcha if ya don't watch out...

Terminator vacuum cleaner Recently an organization called The Future of Life Institute (FLI) released an open letter suggesting some best practices regarding artificial intelligence. Soon, perceived geniuses Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking chimed in stating that killer robots would be a bad thing - or something to that effect.

Combining the "killer robot" theme with inferior journalistic coverage of the FLI's open letter resulted in outlandish sci-fi inspired news headlines. Popular Science Magazine stepped in with words of reason and a sharp rebuttal to those attempting to garner attention via false fear.

I used to read Popular Science regularly and this is an excellent reminder of what a great magazine it it. It always piqued my interest when I was a kid. As for machines becoming self aware and wreaking havoc, I'm pretty sure that scenario makes a better sci-fi flick than a reality.

Cats will always fear roving roombas, but humans need to chill and question everything. People are still so eager to believe anything they read. With so many folks claiming that "print" is dead, you'd think they'd pay more attention to those words - digital or otherwise. Trusting the news media to inform you is a ridiculous notion and random internet posts (like this one) are just as bad... if not worse.

I'm really excited about the upcoming Terminator movie and that it seems to be the first in a new trilogy. When you look at the release dates of the existing Terminator films in the series, each film is spaced by nearly a decade. It's an interesting release schedule that seems to have been reigned in for the Genisys era.

I'm excited about the new films - check out the trailer. And don't worry about self aware machines coming after you.

January 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pindemption is Jersey Jack Pinball's trademarked term for a hybrid pinball redemption game

When I first heard the term "pindemption", I shuddered. I knew what it was, but I din't want to acknowledge it. If I turned and ran... perhaps it wouldn't really be what I thought it was.

Jersey Jack Pinball Convinced that Jersey Jack Pinball (JJP) was on an endeavor to integrate redemption tickets into a pinball machine, I read on with great trepidation. Hanging out in arcades of the 1980s was an amazing experience that began to decline shortly thereafter. Finding a Donkey Kong cabinet in an arcade today is nearly unheard of. Golden age arcade games are out there, but they are few and far between and viewed as a novelty alongside the massive attractions being produced today.

What passes for an arcade today is a much different experience than in the 80s. Technology has risen to epic heights and enabled a lot of very creative games, but the simple classic-style game play is all but lost on today's generation of players.

Wizard of Oz Pinball Pindemption I miss the simpler days, but also appreciate many of the new games that bring forth the same type of challenges. The monitors are now 42" flatscreens and most are configured as sit-in or ride-on attractions that take up 6 times the floor space as a Golden Age cabinet.

What irritates me is the large number of cranes, pushers and miscellaneous redemption machines that seem to dominate the majority of any arcade's floor space. I know these machines are popular and enable arcades to remain open and offer real video games and pinball, but I hate to see the joy of playing an amazing video game replaced by ticket spitters and cheap plush-toys.

Pindemption at EAG International

London's EAG International is the main coin-op and amusements trade show in the UK. This year Jersey Jack Pinball debuted their Pindempton concept in a Wizard Of Oz pinball table. Pindemption gives the player a limited amount of time (configurable by the operator) to play the game and earn tickets. With a heavily cut-down ruleset, it changes the duration of play, forcing players into shorter sessions.

To the untrained eye, Pinball machines may seem as electromechanical today as they were decades ago, but beneath the playfield is all the sophistication of a small computer. With that in mind, the code to convert from Pinball to Pindemption is built into the table and simply needs to be activated from the manu system. Naturally, a ticket dispenser is required, but all the technology to shift to redemption is part of the table.

I'm glad that's the case, because I would hate to see dedicated pindemption tables that wouldn't allow the possibility of skill-based duration of play. It sounds as though it's fairly simple to convert between the two once you have the ticket dispenser unit. I'm wondering how a table is sold in this manner, because the operator wants to run the machine in the most profitable mode possible. The ease of conversion makes me wonder if maximum financial return is achieved by running tables in both modes over the course of time.

JJP stated that Wizard of Oz generates $300 per week, but the pindemption mode bumped it up to $1,000 per week. This is partly due to shorter games in which you don't get stuck with one player monopolizing the table for 15 minutes. The operator can chop that time down to 1 minute in pindemption mode.

Wizard of Oz by Jersey Jack Pinball

Pinball, Redemption, and Arcades

I'll be the first to admit I'm not a pinball fanatic. I enjoy a game now and then, but I'm all about video games. However, in the 80s, the sign of a good arcade was one that also had a good selection of pinball tables. That rings true for me today as well. When I go to an arcade that has no pinball tables, its often a sign that other problems exist. I'm always delighted to find a bowling alley with a few video games and a couple of pinball machines.

Redemption machines are just awful - an atrocity! As these games of chance (bordering on gambling) invade arcades, my desire to frequent such arcades wanes. Little kids love to trade in tickets for trinkets, but that's because trinkets are fun and they're too young to understand the economics of redemption. The real crime is these kids don't get to enjoy games that deliver an amazing experience. Their enthusiasm is focused on the tickets and trading them for trinkets - a terrible association.

The joy of surviving another wave of Defender, reaching another checkpoint in Pole Position, or watching a bullet pass through your Humanoid's neck as you kill the robot (fight like a chicken) is priceless. Protecting that last city - wave after wave - waiting for the next bonus city to appear is elating. Surviving hyperspace and blasting more asteroids is awesome. Striking the DDT container at just the right moment is almost as exciting as a Rampage SpeedBoost! And having a Robotron joystick in each hand is euphoric!

Redemption offers none of this. It's so close to gambling, it's hard to believe that pinball was outlawed as gambling due to folks who felt it was a "game of chance". I let my son try a few of the redemption games, but he also loves to drive F1 race cars, take cover while reloading, and climb girders to reach Pauline!

Let your kids be kids, but don't rob them of the true joy of video games and pinball - PLAYING THE GAMES! The fun comes in the game.

So, you can see why I'm a little skeptical of Pindemption. I consider pinball tables great fun and a useful measure in judging an arcade. Redemption machines require no skill and offer no worthy experience. Combining pinball and redemption to arrive at Pindemption seems like a dreadful idea, but I'm not in the amusement business.

JJP may be onto something and speed up the renaissance of pinball with a more lucrative option to standard redemption cranes and coin pushers! You never know. Between Stern and JJP, someone needs to ensure that pinball has a glorious future and might once again be an essential component of any successful arcade environment!

Pindemption- will combining redemption with pinball boost interest and engagement with “real” games?

January 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Knowing when to play ROMs versus game carts says a lot about how you'd wear a pizza bikini

As much as we support the use of ROMs for enjoying rare and homebrew titles, we will occasionally play ROMs on the computer out of sheer laziness. However, retro gaming always seems more fun with the original hardware and the tactile feel of an old game cartridge. There's something amazing about the awkward way most carts need to be gently wiggled into place in the hope they produce a start-up screen.

There are some retro gamers that vehemently oppose the use of ROMs for any reason. They believe that all retro gaming must be played on original equipment or it's NOT retro gaming. We try to follow the "live and let live" mantra and go about playing games in any manner we please. But sometime those purists get overly persnickety and begin posting their bullshit on our social media feeds.

That's when we draw the line... and block them. If you don't care for ROMs, that's fine, but don't be a hypocrite about it. For example:

pizza bikini Playing ROMs is like wearing a pizza bikini made of nylon and spandex. It looks like pizza - which is a unique fashion statement we find greatly appealing - but we all know it's wash 'n wear and not actually pizza. It's looks delicious, but not in a sustainable way.

Such fakery makes it easy to lounge by the pool or lay on a beach. But there's no real pizza involved. ROMs are convenient, although not the same as playing the actual game cart on a console.
Playboy Playmate Jessa Hinton wearing a pizza bikini pizza bikini Playboy Playmate Jessa Hinton demonstrates the true nature of retro gaming in all it's authentic grandeur by wearing a pizza bikini fabricated from actual pizza. Old video games are best when played on console.

We see the value of both ROMs and original hardware with dusty game cartridges. If you prefer one or the other, that's fine, but if you want to go off on an angry tirade on our social media accounts... you'd better be prepared to wear a pizza bikini. A REAL pizza bikini!
January 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atariage released Stay Frosty for an Atari VCS Christmas

Stay Frosty for an Atari VCS Christmas I wish I had posted this earlier, but Stay Frosty 2 from Atariage was released for the 2014 Christmas season. I believe they were releasing a holiday cart each year beginning in 2003, but stopped. The last one was Stella's Stocking (2007) featuring Stay Frosty.

In 2014, they released it's sequel as the holiday game. from their website:
Everybody's favorite fabled frosty firefighter is back! But so are those pesky fireballs and they're hotter than ever! This year they've kidnapped Santa and some of his helpers, so it's up to you to put out the fireballs and rescue your friends from their fiery fate.

Your first frosty adventure was just a warm-up - now there are all new levels to conquer and challenges to face! Fortunately, you've found some new magic in that old silk hat of yours. Can you stay frostier, fight your way to the fireballs' frigid fortress and freeze those fiendish flames?

I'm a big fan of holiday themed games and Christmas is always a great time to enjoy a new game. We're a few weeks past Xmas, but it's never too late to pick up a cool game. Their games were a unique and awesome holiday creation, since the first one (below) which was a simple animation.

2003 AtariAge Holiday Cart Atariage's first Christmas homebrew - the 2003 AtariAge Holiday Cart It's nice to see they brought back the tradition with Stay Frosty 2. let's hope they do it again next year! The Atari VCS can always use some holiday love in the form of a new game!
January 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A graded, factory sealed copy of Bandai's Stadium Events nears 6-figures on ebay

Bandai's Stadium Events Released by Bandai in 1987, as part of the Family Fun Fitness series, Stadium Events was one of two titles that were actually released in North America. While Activision's Decathlon (Atari 2600) had players vigorously wiggle the joystick back n forth to make your athlete run. Stadium events used a Control Mat in conjunction with the NES controller.

Nintendo bought the rights to it and the Power Pad became part of Nintendo's gaming arsenal. I was never a fan of the power mat, but video game accessories in the NES era were often full-on kooky.

So, with limited availability under Bandai, Nintendo's purchase resulted in the recall of shipped product. Nintendo replaced them with their updated version, making Stadium Events one of the rarest of officially released NA titles.

Stadium Events makes auction appearances now and then... and always generates mistrust, greed and trickery. From dishonest sellers to trolls boosting the bidding price with burner accounts, there's always drama. This time around, the whole thing seems more legitimate than usual.

This hasn't dissuaded the usual trolls from ruining the seller's chance of a sale, but this auction seems newsworthy due to it'a apparent legitimacy.

Nintendo Power Pad The seller claims to be a former Nintendo employee who got the game by nature of his employment. Of additional interest is that the seller has gotten the Video Game Authority in Georgia to grade/authenticate the game (VGA 85 NM+).

Take a look at this Factory sealed 1987 Nintendo NES Stadium Events auction. Perhaps someone will donate their burner account to push this failed auction to six-figures.
January 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

YOU need a copy of Ms. Pac-Man for Intellivision from Intelligentvision

Ms. Pac-Man for Intellivision Mattel's Intellivision wasn't known for arcade ports. As an Atari-kid, my 2600 let me unlock tons of arcade classics at home. I loved visiting arcades, but there was something grand about playing Space Invaders... at home!

I played Intellivision with a friend who owned one, but he was really into the sports games, which really weren't my thing. I much preferred Asteroids over Mattel's Astrosmash. A notable exception to this was Pac-Man! While Atari released an awful version with just as much flicker as Defender, Mattel's Pac-Man was quite the gem.

If you didn't buy Pac-Man for your Intellivision in 1983, then you certainly should buy Intelligentvision's Ms. Pac-Man in 2015!

Ms. Pac-Man for Intellivision Ms. Pac-Man is much more than an arcade port. While faithful to the original, it boasts several features that take it to a new level.

  • You can play the game with 3 different characters each having their own unique characteristic.
  • There are 2 different difficulty levels of ghost.
  • The game can be played with different rules for ghost movement.
  • You can play one of 4 different maze themes or have the mazes randomly selected.
  • Option to use high speed movement
  • Intermission screens are included

Check out Intelligentvision's website for more info and ordering instructions. And look into Pac-Man on the Intellivision, if you don't already own it. :)
January 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Super Systems' Drift Stage is a stunning take on the classic arcade racer

The visuals and art alone excite me about Drift Stage! This upcoming game from Super Systems has generated 2/3 of its financing in only a few days on Kickstarter. This is no surprise considering the beautiful retro-inspired game they are delivering.

Drift Stage is a modern evolution of the classic arcade racer, bringing the gameplay up to date while keeping the late 80's style intact. They've been promoting the game long before the Kickstarter launched which is a smart way to ensure funding and build a loyal following. Along the way they've garnered several great reviews from prominent sources.

Drift Stage I'm astounded by the visuals in this game! It's beautiful and brings me back to the arcade days of the 80s. The retro soundtrack fits it perfectly. I love this game - it exudes simplistic fun in a sophisticated racer!

Drift Stage screenshot It is initially being released for Mac, PC, linux, and available via Steam. There is an alpha-demo you can download to get a feel for the game-play, which is pretty rare during most Kickstarter campaigns.

The developers want to complete the games for the computer platforms and will then evaluate consoles and mobile. Personally, we'd love to see Drift Stage on a console or the e-shop!

Drift Stage offers several modes of play from single player to online multiplayer and includes circuits & career mode. There will also be a decaling system that will let you customize these vivid 8-bit styled cars. With features like this, it shows that Drift Stage is not a simple 8-bit game. It takes that style and combines modern techniques and scenarios.

I love to see what sort of creative perks will be offered in kickstarter campaigns. Super Systems doesn't disappoint with a top tier perk for $500 - a "personalized in-game billboard". I loved trying to read the billboards in racing games... and frequently crashed as a result. This is a great perk, but it's already sold out.

Check out their Kickstarter page and visit their website to connect with their social networks. This should be a fun game to follow!
January 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I don't recall Eruptor or Bash as Disney Characters... or are these amiibos? :)

Everyone makes mistakes. My son and I got a kick out of these Disney Skylanders :)

Skylanders figures packaged as Disney Infintiy at GameStop I've been a fan of Activision's Skylanders since it's inception and somewhat of a Disney Infinity follower. It's hard to imagine confusing the characters as seen in this GameStop, but it brings up an interesting difference with the two games and their in-game characters.

We're all familiar with Disney's famous IPs that we've grown up with and many of their new acquisitions. I'm still wrapping my head around their ownership of Marvel and Star Wars.

When new Skylanders arrive on retail shelves, I'm excited to see what they've come up with since each one is a new entity. I think they've done a nice job in creating many unique characters. Certainly there are duplications of popular characters across the 4 Skylanders games, but there's no expectation - each one is new and unknown.

When Disney released Jack Skellington, I was very excited to see when Sally would be released and wondered what other Nightmare Before Christmas characters would come out. I longed for a HalloweenTown Playset. Alas, none of this was to be. I can place Jack Skellington in the Toybox and chase Buzz Lightyear or Lightning McQueen, but Disney never released any other NBX characters! Jack is orphaned from one of my favorite Disney movies.

Neither Candace Flynn or Ferb made the Infinity cut I feel as though the releases have been done in an odd manner. Similar to the NBX release, Phineas and Ferb offered up Phineas and Perry the Platypus, but no Ferb - and what about Candace - or a Playset?

I know that many people prefer the Toybox, but it seems odd to release characters with such great "worlds" and not create those worlds as Playsets.

On the other hand I was delighted to discover that Skylanders Trap Team is the best release yet. It necessitated yet another portal purchase, but it's use of sound and the Traps is very clever. Trap Team breathed new life into the series after being a bit disappointed with Swap Force.

The NFC (near field communication) tech hasn't become stale with gamers and Nintendo seems to be proving that with amiibo sales! The Wii U gamepad suports NFC and there will soon be an add-on for the 3DS to be compatible as well.
January 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'll upgrade my 80's Walkman after I pay off my Lamborghini smart phone #TheLavishSelfie

1980's Sony Walkman Hearing stories that Sony was introducing a new Walkman at CES brought back memories of my beloved cassette player. In the early 80's I rocked a variety of "hair bands" through those headphones on my way to the bowling alley with a pocket full of quarters reserved for Space Invaders.

Having upgraded to a Discman in the 90s, I was curious to find out what Sony's new Walkman would be in 2015. To my delight it's a high end audio device. With the recent surge in vinyl sales, I feared a portable cassingle-player was heading to market for nostalgia buffs across the globe.

Unlike some high end players of this ilk, the Sony ZX2 runs on Android - albeit Jelly Bean 4.2 from 2012 - and can run streaming apps.
Sony Walkman ZX2
I've marveled at the outrageous equipment owned by audiophiles. their expenditures make me wonder if I'm tone deaf or am simply missing the part of the brain that can distinguish music played on a Discman versus a high end audio setup. These grand devices do sound good, but for the price... too good for me.

Racing through life with a set of cheap headphones, I'm at a loss when it comes to those dulcet tones that audiophiles enjoy. Driving at 70 MPH with the windows down didn't provide me the calm atmosphere enjoyed by those installing expensive car stereos. I don't think I'm alone on this concept judging from all the 15-inch woofers rattling cheap aero effects glued onto even cheaper vehicles.

That isn't to say I can't appreciate the ZX2, I simply can't afford one. Hitting shelves at over $1,000, it's certainly a luxury device. However, it fills a niche of those who prefer uncompressed digital files. To accomodate the larger files, Sony's new Walkman has 128 GB of storage and is wifi capable with a 60-hour battery life.

Smart phones have become the repository for nearly everything from video games to music, so it's been a while since we saw enthusiasm for an iPod. Perhaps this high-end MP3 player will inspire folks to reexamine digital music with a new perspective. For me - I'm still fond of CDs and will cling to that format before releasing my favorite tunes into the "cloud".

Sony Walkman logo

The Lamborghini Smart Phone

As curious as we are to discover the reason for using an older OS on the ZX2 Walkman, along comes a smart phone from Lamborghini also running JB 4.2. The Lamborghini 88 Tauri is a $6,000 Android smart phone that doesn't seem to have any bells and whistles beyond bragging rights to a very exclusive piece of hardware - only 1,947 units are being produced.

Lamborghini 88 Tauri Assembled by hand, coded with a unique device number and finished in top-quality leather the guts of this device are similar to most Android phones on the market. Although the high impact steel case with leather accouterments is snazzy, I wish these types of devices had some tech to match.

Doesn't the person who chooses to own an 88 Tauri, deserve more than a fancy chasis? I think some ingenuity would better suite the super-car behind the brand. It certainly looks nice, but knowing it has no more functionality than the fare at Best Buy is discouraging.

From the Lamborghini Mobile site:
Use #TheLavishSelfie tag on Instagram to be selected on our Lavish Wall and become the protagonist of the most luxurious page in the world.

I'm satisfied with my old Discman and Galaxy Note. The lavish ZX2 and 88 Tauri aren't for me, but I can appreciate their place in the market. As a retro gamer, I guess I have a strong attachment to old things like my old Walkman and my first cell phone - a 3W Motorola bag-phone from NYNEX. I embrace the future while clinging to the past. It's my best of both worlds.
January 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Santa's Special Delivery puts Cerulean Games at the forefront of replacing coal for naughty children

Santa's Special Delivery During the holidays, I'm always down for a retro game with a Christmas theme. Santa appears in a lot of games this time of year making it hard to stand out in the crowd. However, Cerulean Games came up with a unique twist on holiday gaming with their delightfully pixelated 8-bit game, Santa's Special Delivery.

From town to town, you guide Santa's sleigh through obstacles while dispensing presents and coal down chimneys. It's a simple game, but the fun-factor will keep you playing and the humor is entrenched in the music, visuals, and game play. Santa's reindeer explode with each missed delivery until the sleigh plummets in a fiery inferno. Although it's rather silly, the puns abound making Santa's Special delivery a lot of fun.

You score points for delivering the correct gift as you avoid the rocket-propelled snowmen that sail by. At the end of each wave, the final house is where that one rotten kid lives. Bad kids get coal, but this kid is far more nefarious. This one gets the toilet treatment with Santa mounting the chimney to "squeeze out a growler" complete with a progress meter.

With great holiday chiptunes and a humorously crude edge, you won't find it on iTunes, but Android users are all set. If you feel yuletide toilet humor is best suited for larger screens, you'll want to download a copy for your Ouya. The soundtrack is also available!

Santa's Special Delivery - Android I'm a fan of Ouya's mission to bring mobile dev to larger screens, but I actually liked the Android version a little better. Both deliver the same entertainment, but this time when I found the mobile game a little more Christmasy.

Santa's Special Delivery - Ouya The Android game identifies the type of delivery with Christmas icons - presents, coal, and elves. Tapping the correct icon releases the gift to the next chimney. On the Ouya, it uses the buttons and is simply labeled as such. It didn't offer the same visual charm of the mobile game. But it's only a minor difference.

It's not your average holiday game... and that's a good thing. Check out Santa's Special Delivery!
January 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Activision's Skylanders Sidekicks come to life in Trap Team edition of the video game series

I wasn't aware of it until this past Summer, but Activision had a giveaway with Frito/Lay for miniature Skylanders figures called Sidekicks. There were 4 figures from the Giants release of the game that stand about 2 inches high. My discovery came when my local Toys R Us was giving away these miniature Skylanders that were left over and shipped to stores.

Skylander Sidekick, Barkley, in Trap Team The Sidekicks are a lot of fun. They didn't seem to have any function other than following other characters around. By themselves, they didn't do anything. Until now...

Previously, we tried the Sidekicks with the Skylanders Swap Force game. With the release of Trap Team and the mini figures, we decided to see how they would react. To our amazement, Sidekicks were suddenly playable characters! Apparently, the Minis (released as Trap Team figures) are the new Sidekicks and the former Giants Sidekicks share the same abilities and upgrades as their larger counterparts.

Pretty cool!
January 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo had another StreetPass event with “World StreetPass” during the holidays

World StreetPass I'm a big fan of Nintendo's handhelds. I wasn't always a handheld fan - regardless of manufacturer. But it's hard to ignore the cohesion between Nintendo software and hardware. My 2DS delivers a really great experience with some brilliant connectivity!

When my son comes to visit, we love to download a few new games and go on StreetPass journeys to all the local relay points and gaming haunts along the way.

From December 24, 2014 to January 4, 2015 Nintendo expanded the Nintendo Zones to allow StreetPasses from across North America to Europe! They've done these events in the past to spur interest in "never leaving home without your 3DS". This time they let you get StreetPasses from other continents!

StreetPass in Decline?

The idea is pretty cool and I got some interesting Miis from afar and my son found someone from Hawaii - he'd been wanting to fill in Hawaii on the SP Map. As fun as we find StreetPassing, it seems fewer people are bringing the 3DS along for the ride.

In an era of smartphones and too little time for everything, many of us have scaled back to the bare minimum. Often the "non essentials" are left at home. But isn't the 3DS a necessity!?! Sure it is, but... StreetPass Relay Stations have emerged to deliver StreetPasses that have lessened in day-to-day interactions.

Even the Nintendo Zone page no longer displays all Zones in one finder-tool. They now link you to "partner" store locator pages. So, if you're seeking a Nintendo Zone or need to find a Best Buy, AT&T store or McDonalds restaurant, then you're all set. Formerly, the Nintendo locator tool displayed my local Home Depot and Barnes & Noble. I've been unable to get StreetPasses from either location in the last few days.

Outside of the Mii Plaza, most games incorporating StreetPass tech tend to be pretty plain - StreetPasses simply acknowledge ownership of the same title. Games like Tomodachi Life make creative use of StreetPasses and integrate it into the game play. I wish more titles would take the time to really understand the StreetPass and use it to enhance games, rather than tacking it on as an afterthought.

StreetPass is a cool concept and really makes the social aspect of the 3DS come alive in game play. It adds an extra dimension that makes the 3DS very unique. So... bring along your 3DS and leave it in sleep mode!! It's more fun ;)
January 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

SuperCell's Clash of Clans put some bonus elixir under the Christmas tree

Clash of Clans Christmas trees and presents I got a kick out of SuperCell's Christmas makeover of Clash of Clans. One morning I logged in to find a Christmas tree had been added to my village. Not long after, presents appeared around the tree - each packed with some bonus elixir.

I get into a super-festive mode around the holidays and it warms my heart to see game devs that will take the time to add some holiday cheer to their games. As a retro gamer with a fondness for game cartridges, I'm still getting used to the idea that someone can change a game in the background.

While we tend to become excited about additional game content flowing to our smart phones and consoles, too often that "flow" involves much needed fixes to broken releases. We've read about far too many such situations this past year. "Fix it in post" has become too significant in the rush to release games. It's also become all too easy to do.

But before I get off on a holiday rant, I'll say that SuperCell did a nice job adding Christmas cheer to Clash of Clans. Similarly, a spotpass placed Ugly Christmas Sweaters into my Tomodachi Life Import Wear shop. Needless to say all of my islanders were sporting an ugly sweater for Christmas!
January 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post: