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8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
First Quarter 2017 - January, February, and March

We strive to create quality, original retro gaming content with ties to our favorite games of yesteryear as well as modern gaming. Retro gaming is as vibrant as ever and nostalgia is at epic levels! Take a look at the retro gaming oddities we've jumped on in 2017!

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February 2017 Retro Gaming Articles:

February 17, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

SGP is crafting the Terminator into a board game with asymmetrical play on 2 boards and times

Nintendo SNES Games
Taking place in both 1984 and 2029, the Terminator game involves time travel and lets you make decisions in '84 that effects 2029.
I've loved the Terminator franchise ever since seeing the first film in '84. It's a fantastic franchise that keeps evolving with each new installment. To have it come to a tabletop board game is awesome news. Crafted by Space Ghost Publishing, their Kickstarter for The Terminator - The Official board game was quickly funded, but still has plenty of time to reach it's various stretch goals.

Their intro Kickstarter video gives a high-level description of the game, but doesn't really give a sense of actual game play. They are going to be posting a more in-depth game-play video, but as of this writing I haven't had a chance to see it. The project sounds great and I'm excited to see it develop throughout the campaign!

They offer a print-n-play version you can download and get a feel for the mechanics on your own. As a diehard fan, this is tough to pass up and it's loaded with stretch goals. Take a look at the campaign page, follow their social media, and see if The Terminator The Official Board Game is something you want to back.

From the Terminator - The Official Game Kickstarter:
The Terminator: The Official Board Game is an asymmetrical strategy game for 2-5 players played across two boards: one in 1984 and one in 2029. One player takes control of all of Skynet's forces: Hunter Killer machines, Terminator cyborgs, and more. The rest of the players take the role of the human resistance, struggling against the impossible odds of the machine uprising.

Each of the two game boards play differently: 2029 focuses on light troop and resource management in a lopsided battle for dominance. 1984 focuses on personal missions with high stakes and intense pacing. Missions arise through the course of gameplay, and have players make decisions in 1984 that will affect the future, erasing and adding components in real time.
February 16, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

SNES games lost by the USPS brings up questions about the true origin of ROM files

Nintendo SNES Games
The loss of $10,000 in SNES games is devastating and most likely a crime that will never be resolved. It also brings up the need to qualify ROM files.
I had not previously heard of the SNES Preservation Project and wish it's existence had come to me under better circumstances. The project involved dumping every SNES game cartridge to ROM files. This would guarantee an authentic and valid ROM file. Generous collectors offered to loan our their game carts for this purpose. Unfortunately, a shipment valued at $10K was lost by the US Postal Service.

This leaves the project in a bad situation that seems likely to end it entirely. It's hard not to have sympathy especially in the wake of the morons who comment about postal insurance, as if they've achieved a new level of brilliance. If nothing else, I hope this disaster ( and importance of the SNES Preservation Project) sheds light on the precarious world of ROMs.

That ROM you downloaded: is it valid or hacked?
ROMs as a topic seem to waiver between illegality and the saving grace of retro gaming. There's quite a gap in these polar oposites. The notion of the SNES Preservation Project shows the importance of ROMs and why their copyright owners need to address access to these precious files for the betterment and continuation of retro gaming.

As time marches forward more hardware and games are lost to simple ignorance. Some folks think games are plentiful and throw them away like common trash. At the same time, these precious items wear out over time. Either way, video games are valuable and precious regardless of their perceived condition.

Despite questionable legality, ROMs are plentiful around the internet. Playing your favorite retro games isn't terribly difficult. However, as we look to ROMs as an archival solution, we have to realize the validity of online ROMs. The truth is; many of them are not true replications of their purported original games. Some are hacked. Others modified. There can be any number of alterations that may not be discernable until you get deep into a game.

Unless YOU dumped the ROM, how do you know if a file is real & valid?
The SNES Preservation Project was taking the ROMs from the Nintendo-issued cartridges which ensures a true ROM file of the original game. The need for such a project shows the unreliability of the files we see online. I've read articles saying that in many cases, Nintendo doesn't have valid ROM files for many games from across the many consoles they've released.

True or not, having the real game carts dumped is an important form of video game preservation. Without prior knowledge of this SNES project, there may be ongoing efforts like this for a a variety of game libraries. I can only hope the results wind up in the hands of conservators who will use them to preserve the amazing games we played as kids and those we enjoyed much later.

This effort needs to involve the copyright holders to bring legitimacy to such a collection. If you love retro games, look for ways to help support their preservation! Future generations will thank you :)

February 14, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

As I play my various retro game consoles I ponder why I didn't explore them during their heyday

Games on display at Toys R Us
Confined by my self-imposed tunnel vision, it took me a long time to see I was denying myself a lot of great games.
Many of the retro consoles I own were purchased decades after their original release. When I play some of my favorite games, they fall into two categories. One set are played on the consoles I purchased at retail when they were in production. The other set are played on great consoles I knew about, but never bought until decades after their heyday. I wish I had been more adventurous in the 1980s and 90s and bought into them during their original reign.

As a kid who grew up long before the information age, I sometimes ponder how different things are now for my son compared to my early days. The convenience and vast resources of the internet are light-years ahead of my next best thing - the town library. My son has the entire AC/DC song library on his iPhone - I do too, but mine's on a stack of CDs.

I've forgone the town library in favor of searching the web, but I've only bought digital music twice. I still love pouring over the new music releases each Friday - some on vinyl, most on CD. As physical media slowly disappears, and the things I take great pride in owning are now cloud-based, I don't mind cleaning the oxidation off an Asteroids game cart to play a few rounds on my Atari 2600. There's something reassuring about the feeling of a game cart in my hand.

It Started With A Clock-Radio

Long ago I listened to music on the clock/radio in my bedroom. Through that tiny speaker, I began to discover a wide variety of music. Some stations played music I still listen to today, while others played songs that had little or no effect on me. My buddy who lived across the street had Kiss' album Destroyer. Every time I went to his house we listened to it. Every time!

My Dad had a lot of classical music on vinyl and I finally asked if I could use his turntable to play records. He said, Yes and my mission in life became obtaining that amazing Kiss album. I knew little about music, bands, record stores, or any of that. All I knew was that album spoke to me. It was the best thing ever!

Kiss Or Nothing

I still vividly remember buying Destroyer at Giant Music. I was astounded by all the LPs in the store, having never been to a record store before. I found the Rock section and scoured the bins for "K" until I found Kiss. I hadn't made the connection between record stores and everything that poured from the tiny speaker on my clock radio, but I had Destroyer and I raced to the counter with it. "King Of The Night time World" and "Shout It Out Loud" now played at my house. An awakening was dawning in my young life.

I discovered another friend had Kiss Alive and the whole concept blew my mind. I began buying albums - Kiss albums. While I knew there were other groups that I liked, owning their music on an album was special to me. I was enthralled by the idea that I owned my own music. I didn't want to explore other bands. I loved Kiss and that was all I wanted. My relationship with music was such that I had tunnel vision to the reality of having a music collection.

Buying Steve Miller or Led Zeppelin seemed wrong to me. I was a Kiss fan! I'd listen to other music on the radio, but when it came to the awesomeness of owning an actual album - it had to be Kiss. One might think I was a weird kid, but I didn't have anyone to explain the big picture to me. I was hellbent on Kiss and that was the way I liked it.

So, this was the start of my tunnel vision that really came from the heart in the form of passion for Kiss. Several years later, Atari came along. Similar to my Destroyer passion, a buddy of mine got an Atari VCS for Christmas and had Space Invaders. I spent many hours playing Space Invaders at the local bowling alley, so the ability to play at home was pretty cool. I needed an Atari 2600.

Atari Or Die

I was drawn to the Atari VCS because many of my favorite games from the arcade were also made by Atari. This was a perfect fit... until my friend got an Intellivision for Christmas. Naturally, he told me it was better than the Atari and I assured him he was delusional. Similar to my Kiss obsession, I was now hellbent for Atari 2600 games. Coleco piqued my interest, but I stuck to my guns. I'd gone from being a stubborn kid to a stubborn teen.

As you may surmise, I'm about to delve into my bout as a stubborn adult. So many people say they grew up with the NES. I didn't. I was grown up (for the most part) when it was released. I was in college and we were headed off for a week-long ski trip. I was dying to jump back into video games and Nintendo was on everyone's mind. So much in fact, the consoles were sold out everywhere.

On our journey to the slopes, we finally found a Kay-Bee Toy store in a mall that had one in the back storage. It must have been our 6th detour into a mall. This purchase launched me into an obsessive Nintendo mode complete with the inability to acknowledge other consoles of the era. It was the purchase of this NES that really makes me question my solidarity to bands that made my tunnel vision so dominant.

I have fond many memories of the game aisle at Toys R Us and the innumerable flip cards representing the stock they kept under lock & key in Customer Service. I'd spend hours perusing those cards in search of the perfect NES game that would delight for hours, days and weeks (which tuned into decades of passion). That long wide aisle had games for a variety of systems, but I rarely strayed from the NES titles.

Being employed gave me the ability to own multiple game consoles had I wanted to. Strangely, I still had it in my mind I should be loyal to the NES. My dilema about competing brands seemed to stem from passion for the one I owned combined with some sort of loyalty. This surprises me even today when I think about it and the number of consoles I passed over due to some notion in my head.

I'd have loved getting into the TurboGrafX-16 or the Genesis in the late 1980s! Some oddity in my head, prevented me from making the leap to funding another console and game library. It may have been fiscally responsible at the time, but later I'd buy into many of these systems as an exploring retro gamer. Now I wish I'd had the foresight to jump in when they were actively sold at retail.
February 13, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Similar to Tecmo's Dead Or Alive, Playboy magazine is reclaiming its identity #NakedIsNormal

Playboy brings nudity back
Dead Or Alive just can't decide if it wants to be a fighting franchise or M-rated beach volleyball. They know how Playboy felt this past year.
Thoroughly stoked about Sony's "eNOS" campaign in 1995, I was excited to dive into the kind of gaming that a shiny disc could deliver. Cartridges were limited in size by comparison, so that was an exciting time. Years later, I wasn't interested in Microsoft's foray into gaming - especially after having to use their MS Office product. I'm still a PlayStation fan and have tried a few of Tecmo's Dead Or Alive games, but have never had the opportunity to check out the Xbox exclusive spinoff, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.

With an M-rating, Tecmo took characters from the DOA games and put them in a sexy set of mini games, volleyball included. That's right up my alley, but having gone the PlayStation route, I accept that Tecmo's jiggly sports franchise isn't meant to be - for me. But I do get a kick out of the way they chose to keep the DOA name as though a double-D romp around a volleyball court needed a connection with the fighting franchise.

Despite the varying sports featured across the DOA franchise, I'll bet Playboy Magazine knows a thing or two about such divisions. With the onslaught of online porn, Playboy opted to remove nudity from their print magazine. After a yearlong trial... nudity is back. As they are putting it - naked is normal. And nudity is back on newsstands under the Playboy moniker.

Playboy brings nudity back For those who may be unaware, this post is rife with satire.
February 13, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

4K Ultra HD: Did we learn nothing from DIVX and the Blu-ray versus HD DVD formats?

4K Ultra HD DVDs
I never bothered buying a Blu-ray player; my PS3 plays the format and I rarely buy Blu-ray. DVD is fine. Now there's 4k Ultra HD.
I still own Fast Times At Ridgemont High on a Betamax tape and Laserdisc. I'm done with "new" video formats. OK, that's probably not true, but do they really have to introduce a new format just for this whole 4K thing?

I remember when Circuit City and a group of investors tried to create the pay-per-view DVD format called DIVX in 1998. The idea of a proprietary DVD player that needed a phone line to verify if it would play my DVD seemed idiotic. I recall my local Circuit City pushing the format and having separate sections for this new format. Having already gone from Betamax to VHS and then to Laserdisc, DIVX didn't stand a chance with me. Forget it.

After going from Beta to VHS to Laserdisc to DVD... forget 4K Ultra HD!
I'm not sure I see enough improvement over Blu-ray to warrant a new format and player. For music, the CD format had endured. I'm surprised they never released a higher-capacity disc standard, but it's been a constant that is shifting to a digital replacement rather than another physical medium. Still, video seems to want consumers to replace their movie collections every decade. I'm thinking a lot of people will go digital for video as well and all the physical formats will vanish.

Personally, I like owning my entertainment media from games and music to movies. There are too many control issues that can arise from having everything in the "cloud". I want to be able to touch and hold what I own or the price has to drop significantly - which it won't. Why can't I just own stuff? "The cloud" strikes me as an odd rental agreement where I'm supposed to think I own something. If it's not in my hand, it's not ownership!
February 13, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Metallica's duet w/ Lady Gaga and Megadeth's Grammy award are all that's left of mainstream rock

Rock and Roll is fading from public view as award shows can't decide if it's filler or a headlining feature.
I've said this on several occasions, but attractive people with lots of Instagram followers are the driving force of the music industry. Unwilling to take risks, the music industry has made bands a thing of the past. They're being replaced by solo acts who've already established their celebrity status, making them easier to market.

A bunch of guys with talent and desire to rock don't stand a chance against a runway model with a microphone - or they'll be assembled into a dance act. Award shows showcase they type of "music" they want to promote. While Megadeth won “Best Metal Performance”, what does that category even means? These guys rock - and they do it harder than most!

Metallica was paired with Lady Gaga for a really cool performance, but it's hard to tell if the Grammys considered this filler or feature. At the very least, rock is greatly downplayed at all of these award shows. The sad truth is such mainstream exposure is vital to the genre. When I think of the bands I grew up with, there are no modern equivalents. There are hardly and bands who play instruments these days. Just as I share my favorite old Atari video games with my son, I also share the bands I love. Long live Rock and Roll, pass it along!

Metallica's duet w/ Lady Gaga at the Grammys
February 13, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Subtle hints at revitalizing the gaming brand came one year ago... where is Coleco these days?

coleco Colecovision
I haven't heard much about the brand or any upcoming products despite the brand owner's year-old promise.
I know the current iteration of beloved gaming company Coleco is owned by a holding company, but they've demonstrated interest in revitalizing the gaming aspects of the former Coleco brand. After separating the Coleco name from last year's disastrous Chameleon (Retro VGS) console fiasco, Coleco Holdings seemed energized and poised to bring the brand back to the gaming world. Previously we saw the Coleco Flashback during the holiday 2014 season, but that's a licensing deal with AtGames.

I had hoped Coleco Holdings might re-release some of the former table-top arcade miniatures. I believe the Coleco brand is still held by River West Brands. Their CFO had tweeted inspiring news about a commitment to the Coleco brand, but that was the last tweet on his account, dated March 8, 2016.

Coleco tweet There is a Coleco Expo scheduled later this year, featuring Mark Thomann (River Wests Chief Executive Officer) as a guest speaker. Other guests include Nolan Bushnell's son Tyler, CEO and creator of an innovative home arcade system, The Polycade. Also listed is actress Sophie Reynolds, known for Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything.

The relative silence over the past year seems odd considering their commitment to expanding Coleco. The Coleco Toys website still highlights the Flashback console with no hint of the expo. There seem to be several online components related to the Coleco brand that are largely dormant and don't tie in well with each other. Perhaps the Coleco Expo will bring news of the company's direction and upcoming plans.
February 12, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

I picked up Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate a few days ago

I've heard good things about the franchise, but I've never played any of the Monster Hunter games.
I believe this Capcom franchise started in 2004 on the PS2 and evolved from there. If I dig it, I have a lot of catching up to do!

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
February 12, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Retroblox will be introducing a modular retro gaming console via Kickstarter in April

Retroblox is introducing modular retro gaming
While some emulation consoles provide multiple cartridge slots, Retroblox allows additional console modules to be added anytime.
I love this modular approach to retro gaming emulation from Retroblox! It offers a new flexibility and longevity to our favorite cartridge and disc-based games. Other emulation consoles, like the Retron 5 and Retro Freak, offer playability for a great many different consoles, but they don't have much flexibility to play additional game libraries.

Retroblox console modules Nintendo has filed some recent patents on the N64 making it difficult to produce a commercial product to emulate it's game library. Retroblox is hoping to one day add N64 compatibility to it's console. When the time comes, it can be added via an N64 module similar to the others they will be selling for NES or SNES.

Retroblox uses what they are calling Hybrid Emulation which is the best of both worlds regarding hardware clones and software that works with them. This system is supposed to deliver a much more reliable emulation scenario than found on software emulators running on standard computers. Their website has some good info about Hybrid Emulation.

Want to play Atari 2600 games... or TurboGrafx-16? Pop in the appropriate module and you're on your way. This also allows you to buy modules based on your game collection. I don't have many Genesis games, so I don't need SEGA compatibility now. It's a great platform and if I begin to amass Genesis games, I can add the Genesis module later.

At launch, Retroblox will offer modules for:
  • NES
  • SNES & SFC
  • Genesis, Mega Drive (J), Mega Drive (E), 32x & SMS support via Power Base Converter
  • Atari 2600
  • PC-Engine, TurboGrafx-16 & SuperGrafx
  • PSX (PSOne) - all regions
  • Sega CD, 32X CD & Mega CD (J and E)
  • PC-Engine CD, Super CD-ROM, Arcade CD-ROM & TurboGrafx-CD
Retroblox console There is also compatibility for disc-based games. If I understand it correctly, the disc module is built into the base unit and can function for a variety of platforms like PSOne and Sega CD. Updates to firmware will provide the compatibility for additional disc-based consoles rather than additional modules. Game carts come in various sizes, whereas discs adhere to more singular standards, thus discs can be played using the same physical drive.

Regarding ROMs, Retroblox is aimed at playing physical games. They provide a solution for moving ROMs from your carts to the system (to preserve wear and tear on your physical media) but you won't be able to insert an SD card full of ROMs. While use of ROMs hovers in a gray-area of the law, a commercial product can't facilitate the illegal use of copyrighted materials without repercussions.

From the Retroblox website:
RetroBlox is neither a pure emulation box nor an FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) system. When developing the original version of this console back in 2015 (when it actually was an FPGA-based PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16) - our team discovered a new method of emulation that provides the advantages of an emulation-based system with the broad compatibility of an FPGA-based system.

That new method is called Hybrid Emulation, and it was submitted to the USPTO as a provisional patent back in July 2016. Realizing its potential benefit to fans of all retro gaming consoles, we changed the direction of the console to be what you see today with a modular design.

Retroblox console retroblox console solution Keep an eye out for the Retroblox Kickstarter in April 2017!
February 12, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

If you haven't played Wood, it's out for PS4 and we highly recommend it

It's fun to discover a new franchise blowing up into the next big thing...
Doom was the first game to come along where I was jealous of all the PC mods that weren't possible on consoles.

February 12, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Gameband's smartwatch Kickstarter was funded - times 2 - in it's first few days

The Super Early Bird priced tiers sold-out within hours and the whole campaign reached it's goal overnight!
Gameband smartwatch We were surprised to see this venture funded so quickly! While it's micro SD capability is quite unique, I felt the gaming connection wasn't very well outlined. After watching the videos and reading the Kickstarter info, I was still hesitant to jump in. Having missed the $99 tiers I'm content to sit on the sidelines and see how it all pans out. I may have missed out on a really cool product...
February 11, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Some places you expect to find Batman, others... not so much, like Hasbro's ViewMaster VR

Having bought Hasbro's ViewMaster VR last Christmas, I couldn't resist this Batman The Animated Series for VR.
I grew up with dinosaur and wildlife reels for my viewmaster. Finding this modernized - smartphone required - update from Hasbro, I couldn't resist buying it for my son. It has some nice features, but I miss the simplicity of the original. One year after

Batman The Animated Series for Hasbro's ViewMaster VR
February 11, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

When Switch is touted as 100% gaming only, should we overlook the 0% of other stuff?

Nintendo Switch Cyber Lip
All game consoles are primarily focused on gaming. Articles glorifying the Switch in this manner make me a bit nervous.
Nintendo has spent significant time training us to connect our game consoles to the internet. From game downloads to system updates, the net has ben a conduit to expanding our devices. The Local-Play and StrreetPass technologies have enabled some consoles to reach out to others close by, but the internet has been the main connection hub.

Over the years we've grown accustomed to browsers on game consoles, but more so - apps. From YouTube to Netflix and Hulu, streaming apps are quite popular on game consoles. While a PS4 provides an array of games, it can also deliver streaming movies without requiring another device. That can be a convenience when it comes to paying exorbitant rates for an additional cable box. But why is Nintendo saying the Switch's dedication to gaming so important?

I wouldn't buy a Switch to watch TV, but online gaming on-the-go is reasonable.
Perhaps they're just trying to spin everything as a positive - who knows. Apps can be added later as needed. I'm more inclined to fire up a browser on my phone than a game console, so I don't really see the need, but this notion seems camouflaged by articles saying the Switch is game-centric. or course it is, it's a game console.

In today's world, we expect a certain amount of multi-tasking in our electronics. A one-trick-pony won't fare as well as the one that does several things. Please don't misunderstand me - I think the Switch is very cool & innovative and will do well in the marketplace. My concern is more of a curiosity than a worry. Aside from playing a DVD, I rarely use a console for anything not gaming related. I don't need my game console to be a full fledged entertainment center.

No Wifi?

While I don't need to watch funny YouTube vids on Switch, games have online multiplayer options and one of the most significant Switch features is gaming on the go. While this may mot pertain to all games, wifi wold give gamers a conduit to multiplayer games while out in the wilds - with a wifi signal. Folks are questioning whether such connectivity will be available if one can't login to a provider for wifi access.
February 10, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

When arcade games are threatened by an avalanche, real friends help you load & go

Saving an arade game from an avalanche
This Let Go commercial involving a life and death arcade rescue, shows the value of choosing your friends wisely!
The humorous and quirky TV commercials for Let Go have been done a nice job of explaining the simplicity of the product in memorable commercials. The whole concept really resounds with me - except I'm strongly against getting rid of anything - ever!

The premise is an easy way to sell unwanted items quickly for the smartphone generation. They don't have time to sit down and craft a complex description on some auction site. They just want to post the item and sell. Let Go seems to offer a nice solution to turning your excess stuff into cash. But, the latest commercial has two guys loading an arcade cabinet into a pickup truck as an avalanche looms in the background.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

When rescuing an arcade game from impending doom - like an avalanche - make sure you bring friends who are down with the program and are willing to put their lives on the line for a good game save!

Saving an arade game from an avalanche This useless lump just sits there unable to help his buddy. As the deadly wall of snow approaches his only solution is to sell the game?!? No one wants to hang out at the arcade with this guy.
Saving an arade game from an avalanche Determined to save this game, the struggle is real, but he won't quit until the cabinet is safely in the bed of the pickup as they outpace the avalanche. Be this guy!

Ini a perfect world, these two would emerge from a deadly cloud of snow and rage onward to safety where they stop at a roadside bar where the beer is flowing and it only takes a few plays on their arcade game before patrons pick up their tab and game into the night.

Saving an arcade game from an avalanche

If sarcasm isn't your thing... you may just want to move along...
February 10, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Boost Mode: Good for PS4 Pro owners and potentially divisive for the PS4 gamers

PS4 Pro
I'm all for "more power", but when that comes with an incentive for developers to abandon the original PS4... I'm less enthused.
Both Microsoft and Sony chose to offer upgrades to their latest consoles. This not the next generation of consoles, but came to market in the form of the Xbox One-S and the PS4 Pro. While gaming's history has seen evolution via leaps in technology, we rarely see "mid-season" upgrades that don't necessitate a new game library, meaning new tech unsupported by the current console. Both of these new models play the old games while adding performance for new games/hardware.

I'll admit that I've never been a fan of Microsoft - computes, software, nor games - so I can't really speak to the Xbox One versus "S" model differences.

I remember buying my first Atari 2600 in the late 70s and my buddy getting an Intellivision for Christmas... we'd both soon be wondering what the Colecovision was all about. New consoles were coming out and leapfrogging the prior ones with new tech and innovations. Exciting times!

These days we chose a manufacturer and become somewhat locked into them, unless we want to buy games for two or more consoles. We're not likely to see something like a "Coleco" swoop in from the sidelines. We can safely stick with the likes of Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft.

PS4 For Christmas... Skipping PSVR

PS4 Pro This past Christmas I bought a PS4 for my son and I. Having done a moderate amount of research on the purchase, I concluded I wouldn't spend the extra money on the Pro model. This decision was largely based on my prior decision to not purchase the PSVR hardware. VR sounds cool, but it isn't consumer-friendly yet... and may never be.

Sony primarily touted the PS4 Pro as having better specs for their VR hardware and games. As soon as I heard that, I knew two things. I wasn't going to spend extra money on a system that ostensibly evolved to better support the PSVR. The other thing I knew, is the Pro would devalue the original model of the PS4.

The notion that some games would perform better on the Pro model didn't sit well with me. Again, I'm in favor of more power, but not when it puts a divide among owners of the same generation hardware. When developers see they get a better result on the Pro model, they will be inclined to develop toward that as the base standard - even if Sony promises all games will play on the standard PS4.

PS4 Pro Boost Mode

Now we have Boost Mode coming as an update for the PS4 Pro. This will allow older games to maintain higher and more stable frame-rates. Games that are patched or optimized for the Pro hardware will have additional benefits as well. It's already happening. Boost Mode puts unnecessary separation between standard and Pro games as developers craft games to perform on the more powerful console.

Battleaone VR for PS4 Pro Sony stated that developers are not permitted to create game versions for the Pro model that couldn't be replicated on the original console, but we all know how that will go. Given that console generations are growing longer, any way to expand within that confine will be taken. Thus, those early adopters (for the first 3 years) of the PS4 will be getting a substandard experience compared to those who purchase the PS4 Pro.

With the poor sales of PSVR, I'm sure Sony is looking to find good reason to tempt shoppers into the more expensive PS4 Pro model. Boost Mode promises better experiences for Pro owners. And what about all of the standard PS4 owners... well, tough luck. Watch the divide widen as time marches forward, during what may be another long console generation. I'm curious to know if the same scenario is true for Scorpio buyers.

Future Of Console Divisions

I've read a few articles in which analysts speculate these interim console updates may be the business model for future game consoles. I find that hard to believe. If we know an update is coming soon, why buy now? How many interim models can there be within a generation before game incompatibilities render early models obsolete? Won't this breed a planned obsolescence cycle as seen in the automobile industry?

I don't find interim hardware releases beneficial to gamers from a financial standpoint. If you're laden with cash and can afford to buy new hardware on a regular basis, this may prove beneficial to you. But the poor sales of PSVR speaks pretty loudly about consumer's limited desire to routinely buy $400 hardware. I also don't see how this could go on without causing compatibility confusion in the market.

I love consoles and hope they continue to find space with in the gaming industry, but multiple updates to the same tech, seems financially unreasonable. We need a "Coleco" to swoop in and shake things up!
February 9, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The blizzard keeps knocking out my power

It's not a good day to pay retro games. I'm not going to lose my childhood VCS to a power surge!
However, once the storm dies down tonight... Well, that's a different story. That's game time!

Playing video games all night
February 8, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

POTUS rants about Nordstrom dropping Ivanka's line. Where was he when Sears dropped video games :)

POTUS rants about Nordstrom
I was devastated when Sears dropped video games. A bully with a knack for being a continual pest might have been good for the retailer.
Using the influence of the White House to chastise a retail chain is unimaginable. I'm sure Trump's daughter can manage her own affairs leaving him time to build walls and deride Schwarzenegger's performance on his former game show. As a father, I can appreciate him standing by his daughter, but using the official White House Twitter account to retweet his personal nonsense is more fodder for late-night comedians and SNL.

POTUS rants about Nordstrom Not to veer off too far, but I grew up hanging out at Sears trying to decide which Atari 2600 game I should buy. As a kid, Sears was a prime spot for buying games since they had game consoles set up so you could play a few games to see what struck a chord.

Atari computer kiosk As an aging retailer, Sears has been sinking slowly as a viable entity. Some stores appear outright neglected with large barren areas void of any products and parking lots that look abandoned. My local Sears is nicely kept and I shop there quite often. Not long ago, the whole chain ceased the sale of video games. All the inventory was blown out at ridiculously low prices - and it was all gone!

Could Bullying Save Sears?

Clearly Prez Donald has time to kill if he can mount a presidency and use his influence to bully clothing retailers. His skills as a top-level pest seem well suited to badgering companies. With that in mind and my passion for Sears and video games... Sears needs a bully to come along and set them straight.

Get your act together, Sears... and stop selling off your only viable assets at bargain rates. Having bought VCS games there in the late 70's, I miss seeing video games at Sears. It's too bad Trump wasn't on the scene to rage against Sears when they removed video games from their stores.
February 8, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

With heavy emphasis on the Atari brand name, GameBand has launched their smart watch for gamers

Atari GameBand
GameBand wants to set itself apart from other smart watches with micro SD and game portability... and an Atari logo.
GameBand has been teasing the release date of their smart watch Kickstarter campaign and the day is here! With Atari and Terraria branding, they are introducing a smart watch aimed at gamers. It appears to mimic a feature of the former GameBand combined with an array of apps found on many wearables.

If you are familiar with GameBand's previously released a wearable product, it facilitated portability of Minecraft files. The partnership with Atai seems to have produced GameBand versions of popular arcade games like Asteroids and Pong for play on the watch's screen.

Via USB you can bring some games with you, to be played on a PC, as well as your Terraria files. The former GameBand was very Minecraft centric, while this model has much wider appeal to gamers and anyone who's into wearable technology.

The drawback to smart watches in general is they're expensive niche items. Smart watches just don't do enough to warrant the prices we see at retail. The GameBand is said to be retailing at $199. There were a few "super early bird" tiers on the Kickstarter for $99. I was tempted, but I haven't seen enough to convince me this is a needed product. I feel they need to emphasize it's purpose and value. The 300 super early bird offers already sold out. Damn - that was fast!

Atari GameBand Playing games on a 1.63" screen doesn't interest me, but I really like the ability to bring games along for play on a PC using GameBand's PixelFurnace. This device also suports micro SD cards which opens up great possibilities for storage.

The problem is the campaign doesn't give much info about this feature. How many games are there? Are they proprietary? How is Pixelfurnace implemented? I want to know more!

It's hard to cover every detail on a Kickstarter campaign page, but most of us are familiar with smart watches and want to know what makes this one different?

I like the gaming angle and I adore the Atari brand (although its nothing more than a holding company today), but I'm not finding enough info about GameBand's gaming capabilities. It has a companion app for iOS and Android, but my phone already has "productivity" apps and features. I don't need other source for alarms or calendars. What separates GameBand from the pack? Gimme more info!

That expandable storage lends well to storing music on the go. Had I been able to find more compelling info about it's gaming capabilities, I'd have gone in on one of the $99 early bird tiers. However, by the time I was able to piece together more detail, those tiers sold out. For $150+ I can put music on my phone and I always have my 2DS with me.

So, my sad tale is that I was too late for the $9 9 offers. Depending on the robustness of the gaming features, I think this could be pretty cool if you cram a slew of MP3s on it too.

The concern that probably held me back too long to catch the $99 offer was their app store called PixelFurnace. How dependent is the GameBand on it? With niche items like this, external facets tend to wane quickly and disappear. If the games and watch can operate independent of PixelFurnace, I'd be all aboard. Check out their Kickstarter to see if GameBand is your kind of wearable.

Atari GameBand I"m too indecisive. I shoulda backed it this morning... When will I learn? :)
February 7, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Retro gaming is eternal - no expiration - just like Christie Brinkley returning to SI

Christie Brinkley returns to the cover of Sports Illustrated
Even when pictured with her two daughters, I still see Christie in that red Ferrari taunting Clark Griswold on his family vacation.
Christie Brinkley returns to the cover of Sports Illustrated As far as I'm concerned, she'll always be "the girl in the Ferrari" from National Lampoon's Vacation movie, released in 1983. Christie Brinkley made history when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated three consecutive years in a row - 1979, 1980 and 1981.

Appearing in SI again at age 63 is a pretty phenomenal accomplishment and sends a great message. For the kid who thinks 8-bit games are junk compared to Xbox and doesn't see the value of gaming's history, he/she needs to take a lesson from Ms. Brinkley. The past is what makes an amazing future possible!

So many things come full circle and do so in surprising ways. Look at the huge resurgence of retro in general and retro gaming. Nintendo releases the NES Classic Edition and there are numerous Raspberry Pi based MAME set-ups letting us play countless arcade games. Then at age 63, Christie Brinkley comes back to the pages of SI! The world needs more of this!

From Christie Brinkley's Instagram account:
Thank you Sports Illustrated for sending the powerful message that good things come in packages of every size and we do not come with an expiration date!

So, I've shamelessly bent this story into my own retro gaming lesson. But it's important in today's world, not to discount the past as we race to the future. The past holds much value and lessons for embracing the future. I want to live in a world where Christie Brinkley can still grace Sports Illustrated's pages and 100 classic Atari games are released for the PS4!
February 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Blondie is releasing a new studio album, Pollinator, featuring a collaboration with Joan Jett

Blondie's upcoming album Pollinator
Pollinator will also feature collaborations with with Charlie XCX, Laurie Anderson, and Sia.
I was pretty stoked when Joan Jett re-released I love Rock N Roll in April 2015. I'm just as stoked for Blondie's new studio album, releasing in May, with a collab with Jett. Also appearing are: Sia, Laurie Anderson, Charlie XCX, Johnny Marr, Blood Orange's Dev Hynes, Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio and the Strokes' Nick Valensi.

I love the longevity of the artists I grew up with! Check out the single, Fun...

The album was produced by John Congleton (Depeche Mode, St. Vincent) and was the last recording at New York's legendary studio, The Magic Shop, which has since closed.
February 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Nintendo's super Bowl ad performed well, but for $5 million it missed an opportunity to really stand out

Nintendo's super Bowl ad
I think Nintendo's ad did it's job, but it was much tamer than other entries vying for eyeballs and day-after water cooler discussions.
Prior to the Patriots talking the Super Bowl into an unheard of overtime and overturning what seemed like a savage defeat, I watched Nintendo's commercials online - both the extended and 30-second versions. My first reaction was positive. Both versions showcased the home-to-portable concept and the extended version displayed a few games.

There's nothing wrong with the ad and it performed well according to the metrics, but seeing it next to the typical over-the-top fare, it seemed a bit subdued as though it needed a bit more excitement and emotion. The guy playing Zelda seemed utterly bored.

Tom Brady Nintendo Switch It's a hard thing to judge since half the battle is simply getting mainstream shoppers to realize a new Nintendo console coming soon and the features that set it apart from Sony and Microsoft's consoles. The comercial achieved those goals, but it's also important for the Switch to be on consumer's minds - and not just gamers. Switch needs to appeal to a wide audience to succeed.

Various metrics I've seen all indicate the Switch ad was well received and fell into the several top-ten lists. The real success will be at the registers in March and we hope they have acquired better data regarding consumer demand. The NES Classic Edition's disappointing inventory levels are still not resolved three months after it's launch.

Hopefully, the pre-orders will give Nintendo a better sense of inventory levels for the Switch. They will also need to account for folks like me who weren't able to place pre-orders. We'll have all the answers in a few weeks!
February 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Starting Super Bowl Sunday with some pre-game Atari action & pizza

I"ll watch the Super Bowl for the ads, but when it comes to sports, I'm more interested in the 8-bit ones.
Limagined GameCube Joy-Cons Super Bowl Sunday with atari.
imagined GameCube Joy-Cons Super Bowl Sunday with atari and pizza.

February 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Samsung goes from phone fires to false moisture errors, but there's a retro gaming solution

Black Sabbath's final show
When a false moisture error prevented my extremely dry phone from charging, an old video game resolution came to mind... and it worked!
After using my phone for about an hour this morning, it's battery was getting low and needed a charge. I plugged in it's charger and left it as I usually do. Several minutes later, I heard an odd sound coming from my phone. The "charging" icon was not lit and then I saw a small message saying the phone had detected moisture in the charging port. WTF!!?!!

I'm a careful person. I have enough electrical knowledge to know that water is not good for any electrical device. Thus, I don't bring it into any situations that may get it wet. I don't text in the rain, let it sit in the bathroom during a shower, or bring it to the pool. My two-month-old phone has never become wet! so, how do I randomly get a moisture error?

I called tech support and prepared to be inferred a liar. Both my carrier and samsung support asked me all the likely questions assuming I'd fallen in a lake and had simply forgotten. They had no ideas ans suggested I send it in for evaluation. By "evaluation" I assume they would keep my phone for three weeks before telling me it had been on the ocean floor for a decade - or similar nonsense. I hung up on them.

Smart Phones Are Not Smart

When we think about modern technology we often refer to devices as being intelligent. They are not. They are fast which we wrongly associate with intelligence. Any computer can quickly beat me at Chess until you put it in a bathtub full of water. At that point the computer can't do anything. Watch how fast a cat can escape a tub of water. So, who's smarter the cat or the CPU?

Smart phones are the same. They do a lot of nifty things, but they have limits... like detecting water. How the Hell does my phone know there is moisture in the charging port? It doesn't. All it knows is the connection between the phone and the charger is not as expected. This is a far cry from trying to make me believe water somehow came in contact with my phone.

Although harsh, friction will remove oxidation from most surfaces.

Retro Gaming To The Rescue

The notion of a "bad connection" made me wonder if something was clogging the port. Nothing was visible, but in my search online, oxidation was mentioned. As a retro gamer, I'm all too familiar with the effects of oxidation when the pins on a game's PCB don't make a good connection in the cartridge port.

The tiny charging port was too small for a Q-tip, so I went the lazy-route and inserted and removed the USB connector several times - much like re-inserting an oxidized game cart.

The friction (although not the best method as it's harsh on the metal components) will scrape away enough oxidation to make the game play. This was true of my phone as well. A few insertions enabled a connection so I could charge it and devise a way to clean the delicate board that somehow managed to get cruddy in two month's time.

As far as I can tell, Samsung has gone from their Note 7 phones randomly catching fire to their S7 phones believing they are wet. How ironic. The lesson I've learned is NOT to buy Samsung products.
February 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Leonard Nimoy speaks out on LSD, religion and dirty movies, with Roger Elwood

I'll bet this was a fun interview for all involved.
Leoanrd Nimoy speaks out I'm routinely surprised at what pops up in a random stroll through social media. This Nimoy promo caught my eye - Would have been fun to red/hear, but I wasn't able to find a link to the actual interview. As we ignore each other more & more with our heads buried in tiny phone screens, our anti-social ways seem to lead us to discovery. But it really doesn't.

When I see a group of people - from those sitting in the Food Court and movie theaters to restaurants and even pedestrians - I'm astounded how our connected world is so disconnected from each other. You're more likely to say "Hello" to a neighbor via Facebook than opening your mouth.

Concert-goers seem incapable of enjoying live music without watching it on a tiny phone screen as they record it. For what purpose... to watch the shaky footage later on a tiny screen? Dolts - all of them!

As Ferris Bueller said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." This is especially true if you live life with a phone in front of your face all day. Put your phone down and live a little!
February 4, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Black Sabbath's final show and why legendary bands will not likely rise again

Black Sabbath's final show
Bands today are assembled by greedy companies seeking financial gain. Seemingly gone are the days in which a group of talented musicians can take the world by storm.
Black Sabbath began in 1968 and released their final studio album, 13, in 2013. February 4th, 2017 was the final show of their The End tour, marking five decades of Black Sabbath! Bands with this longevity are rare - Judas Priest and Van Halen come to mind along with other veterans of rock 'n roll and metal.

An Ozzy Ozbourne quote from Ultimate Classic Rock:
"One of the proudest things I have in my heart is the fact that Black Sabbath wasn't a band that was created by some big mogul. It was four guys who said let's have a dream, and it came true beyond our wildest expectations."

Today's musical landscape is so different and we've watched it change over the decades. Amazing bands continue to come onto the scene, but their endurance is nowhere near what we see in bands like Black Sabbath. They come and go quite quickly. Success like Sabbath's may be an anomaly rather than the standard, but how many new artists today even play an instrument?

Corporate Greed Destroys

We seem inundated with soloists and bands who's primary qualification is a large Instagram following.

So many of today's alleged "stars" are former actors, models, and folks who've proven they can attract an audience. This is similar to the movie and video game industries that rely heavily on sequels and remakes because they are proven money-makers. Creativity is sacrificed for financial gain by these companies.

Money has ruined the music industry via corporate greed and an economic climate that does not allow survival without a good paying job - not just a job, but one that pays well.

I love music and discovering a cool new band. I can only hope the business models that rule the music industry will find a way to pay the bands that are daring enough to be original & create lasting music. Those are the artists that should be revered as an investment!
February 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Catching up on some old games with some old tunes from Judas Priest's remastered release of Turbo

With a remastered release from one of my favorite bands blaring in the background, my Atari consoles are rounding out the retro vibe!
I discovered Judas Priest when I saw British Steel sitting in a bin at the local record store in 1980. I hadn't heard of them previously, but one look at that album cover and I knew it had to rock. It remains one of my favorite albums of all time and I've rocked out with Judas Priest ever since. It's truly awesome to grow up with a band and have them keep producing great music without yielding to anything.

Bands of this modern iTunes era, don't seem to have any lasting qualities like bands that have fought to stay relevant through the decades. I have a lot of respect for those who continue touring and crating new music. As much as the classics rock, new music is what keeps the creativity going. Too many bands rely on their past hits without going the distance to create more. Long live Judas Priest!

Judas Priest released a remastered version of Turbo The release of Turbo 30 is a 3-CD set marking the 30th anniversary of the album's original release. It features a remastered version of Turbo and a 2-disc live recording from the Fuel For Life tour in Kansas City on May 22, 1986. The live CDs are great - I've always loved live recordings.

The remaster of Turbo sounds good, although not a huge change from the original recording. I"m no hi-fi expert, but all I can say is it's much better than the Defenders Of The Faith remaster that sounded awful! I recommend Turbo 30 for anyone wanting to revisit an awesome era!
February 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Toys R Us have been sitting out the pre-order part of Nintendo's Switch launch

Switch at TRU
TRU doesn't usually sit out the opportunity to drive sales via game console pre-orders, but I've seen no Switch action as of yet.
While their website has had a "Coming Soon" message on their Switch page for a long time, Toys R Us now has the console and some accessories listed. They are mostly listed as being "out of stock", but at least there's a mention. I'm not sure there's enough time left to make a pre-order possible with only 4 weeks remaining.

I'm miffed as to why they sat out the pre-order scene. I would think it would drive traffic to their stores that will now be heading to other retailers. Perhaps they want to capitalize on those who missed out on pre-orders with other retailers... but how does Geoffrey lure them in?

This small Switch sign sitting in a locked case full of Wii U games is the only sign that Toys R Us is promoting Nintendo's new console in my local store. Their lack of participation is strange.

Switch at TRU - out of stock
February 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

You can now hang a beast of a hard drive off the back of your PS4

PS4 hard drive
Sony is finally letting you add needed storage space via external hard drives - with an upcoming update.
Disc-based media offers a nice chunk of storage space on those shiny discs, but have you ever wondered how slow this entire scenario is? Just look at the endless gigabytes of data that are copied to your PS4's hard drive when you insert a new game? All this data needs to be installed (copied to a faster access device) because disc drives are horribly slow - too slow to play games from the disc. Thus data is copied to the PS4's hard drive because hard drives can serve up game data much faster.

Try downloading a digital version of a complete game and watch your available space dwindle. Games are so large (bloated) you really need another storage area and an external drive is the easiest way to add this needed space. Sucks, right?

8 terabytes sounds awesome until you realize games have become more bloated as consoles become more powerful.
Sony is lessening the suck for PS4 owners with an upcoming update allowing the connection of external USB-3 hard drives up to 8 terabytes. That will enable a lot more folks to upgrade their drive capacity in an easy manner. I'm sure Sony recognizes there are still people who don't want to open up their console and futz around with cables.

If you're not keen on such things, what do you do... stop buying games? Sony can't have that. While this satisfies a need, you may want to ask yourself why games have become so enormous and built-in drives so small. Why hasn't the bloat factor of video games been aligned with proper size hard drives?

I believe the PS4 comes with a 500GB internal drive. So, now I can toss on 8 terabytes? We all know that empty drive space is always used regardless of size. While most of us may never need to upgrade hard drive space, the cost-cutting use of insufficient drives seems like a lame ploy when compared to the amount of data required by modern games.

I'm aware the smaller drives at launch keep console prices lower, but what keeps developers in check? Who moderates how bloated a game can be and still be sold? In an era where consumers pay $60 for a new game, who wants to fill their hard drive with "installed files" and later download gigs of fixes via DLC scenarios? Throwing bigger hard drives at the problem is hardly a solution. That big new drive sounds cool, but stop and realize why you need such a large storage device in the first place.
February 1, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Nintendo has been apprising fans of Switch's capability, but their Super Bowl ad will tell the masses

Nintendo Switch Super Bowl commercial
Nintendo Direct videos are swell for those obsessed with Nintendo, but the average consumer may not be as well versed in the Switch's intricacies. A Super bowl commercial fixes that issue.
For the most part, Nintendo isn't a brand you see advertised on TV in the US. The brand and it's product line are not driven into your brain every time you turn on the TV. Most ads are relentless and eminently forgettable. However, during holidays or at the launch of a new game, you may see some Nintendo ads, but that sort of spot advertising rarely has a lasting effect.

You'd think a one-shot TV ad would be the worst. And it is - unless it airs during the Super Bowl. Super Bowl ads are renown for being well-crafted and not a project relegated to the "B" team when it comes to production. Costing millions of dollars for a 30-second spot, the ads themselves attract a wide audience to the game, not just sports fans.

Nintendo needs Super Bowl level exposure to show-off the power of the Switch.
This event, and the myriad of ads running throughout, will reach a huge audience and that's just what Nintendo needs. Core gamers are savvy of the Switch, but I'll bet a large segment of casual console gamers don't know all the details.

Reaching the fringe area is important to make it successful. Selling to core gamers is also important, but those sales figures alone are nowhere near enough penetration to jumpstart a new console on the heals of the abandoned Wii U.

An ad during the Super Bowl is a great idea and a first for Nintendo. Some will recall last year's Pokemon ad, but that was created by the Pokemon Company, for whom Nintendo publishes games. So, this will be their first foray into promoting a Nintendo product during a Super Bowl.

But, where's Karen?!?
Nintendo has released the extended 2-minute version of the ad which will be pared down for TV. It's great to see Nintendo taking this step to really get the word out to a lot of folks. On the other hand, they didn't really embrace the over-the-top creations that dominate the game.

They've certainly done a great job in explaining the complexities of various play-styles associated with the Switch, the overall ad lacks the typical insanity. Hard to say what effect that may have, other than it's important to be remembered for something other than being their first Super Bowl ad. The Switch has to stand out and be memorable.

A few years ago, when Radio Shack was staging a comeback they had a great ad full of 80's characters. Very memorable ad - I still talk about it and find a lot of folks who also recall it. That is what Nintendo needs to do. The NES Classic Edition has done well in putting the Nintendo brand on people's minds. This ad needs to do the same!

I have no interest in the Super Bowl outside of the creative advertising it offers. But the promise of a fourth-quarter Nintendo Switch ad, I'm onboard to check it out.

January 2017 Retro Gaming Articles:

January 31, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The Jetson's come to pinball in a family friendly 2017 table

The Jetson's pinball
I'm pissed about the lack of flying cars in today's "modern" society, but I'm still a fan of the Jetsons!
The Jetson's pinball Designed by Dan and Nathan Goett and limited to 300 tables, The Jetsons Pinball is a great looking table. George and Judy are featured on the back box's side art with a the familiar family comute scene on each side of the cabinet. It features sounds from the show and a 15" LCD display.

With a sparse playfield, it seems to have been designed as a "fun for the whole family" type of table that may not appeal to the hardcore player. Tables like this should appeal to kids (and "big kids" who watched the Jetsons) and bring them into the pinball fold.

The playful graphics should entice today's kids while the "big kids" will dig the nostalgia. Modern brands aimed at today's kids come with high licensing fees that get passed on to the consumer. The Jetson's may be a more reasonable price point that Finn The Human.

Aimed at the casual player, the $6,000 price (via The Pinball Company) seems steep to me. I"m all for a simple playfield with a retro vibe of a favorite cartoon, but I'm sure there are comparable play-experiences at lower prices. At the same time, it should be easy to sell through a run of 300 machines to both families and arcades.
January 30, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

If you're serious about buying an NES Classic Edition - don't eat!

NES Classic Edition
NES minis sat on my local TRU shelves for 2 days before selling out!
A friend texted me on Saturday. "Toys R Us has NES minis."

I grabbed my coat wondering if I could get there in time since I'm about a half-hour away. A second text appeared. "Never mind. Just sold out."

This seemed par for the course. A store gets a few NES Classic Editions and they sell out minutes later, before ever reaching a retail shelf. Not so fast - this time was a different story.

NES Classic Edition I heard from my friend on Saturday morning, but our local TRU received a big shipment of NES minis - get this - on Thursday. The units lasted in a display case for two days! How is that possible?

Our article's title mentions "not eating". Here's why. Friday night, as NES minis stewed in a TRU display case, I planned on stopping in to check out the TMNT offerings. Hunger overran my better judgment and I went home to fire up a burger and chill out. Bad choice.

I can't complain - even though I am - I was able to snag a mini on launch day, but you know what they say... If one is good two are better!

Best of luck to those still seeking an NES Classic Edition. They're out there.
January 30, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Namco founder, Masaya Nakamura, who led the company through Pac-Man's success, passed away at 91

Masaya Nakamura
After the success of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga has gone on as the premiere arcade shooter of all time!
He founded Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955, which later became Nakamura Amusement Machine Manufacturing Company; better known as Namco. One of my favorite games, Galaxian, was the first to use multi-colored sprites. I adored Space Invaders, but I dropped innumerable quarters into Galaxian; amazed by the flying enemies as opposed to the Invader's march.

Although unaware at the time, I'd become a life long fan of Namco and the many games they produced. For a brief time, I had a Dig Dug cabinet in my living room. Those were the days! :)

In my arcade days of the 1980s I didn't pay too much attention to brands. I was a careless teen with a pocket full of quarters and time to kill. Arcades were my favorite hangout. My friends and I lived in them on weekends and as often as possible during the week.

It wasn't until the Sony PlayStation released in 1995 that I began to notice arcade brands and which ones created my favorite arcade games. This was due to the large storage ability of CD-based games and the Namco Museum series of games. I loved compilation games from Namco's to Williams Arcades and Midway... the Activision and Intellivision collections. The arcade had finally come home in a comparable manner and less expensively than a NEO GEO AES.

From Polygon:
A shrewd and aggressive move by Nakamura to acquire Atari's Japanese subsidiary in the 1970s gave it a foothold in the emerging coin-operated video game market, and set the stage for Namco to launch several hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This set the stage for a world of entertainment that encompassed my young life, lasted well into adulthood, and has been passed on to my son. Masaya Nakamura's positioning of his amusement company changed the world I grew up in. RIP Masaya Nakamura.
January 29, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Resident Evil The Final Chapter was silly, but fun to watch. Milla rocks! Try RE7 with PSVR!

Resident Evil The Final Chapter
Milla Jovovich still kicks ass in this latest (but probably not "Final") film.
I've enjoyed watching the Resident Evil films over the years. Sometimes I forget it's origin is with the Capcom video game franchise back in 1996. While I have a few of the games, it's not a game-genre i'm terribly fond of, but I'm a sucker for the films.

Resident Evil logo Jill Valentine certainly has changed with time and technology. She and Lara Croft have gone down similar paths of photo-realism as game consoles became more sophisticated and powerful.

The current video game from Capcom, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, is interesting in that it makes use of the PlayStation VR Mode without being a dedicated PSVR title - VR is not required for play. While VR in general has been another failure, the PSVR option might integrate well with the survival horror genre. RE& uses head-tracking to control the in-game camera. An article is circulating with a figure of 10% of players try RE7 with PSVR.

Resident Evil Biohazard PS4 PSVR

PSVR Hybrid Games?

I would be very curios to know more about Capcom's minimal integration of the VR technology and how it impacted development. Commercial VR is flailing as it has each time folks have tried to force it to go mainstream. I wonder if allowing some elements of the PSVR experience to exist as an option rather than a dedicated element would help both game and PSVR sales.

Regarding PSVR, the hardware is as expensive as the console, putting it out of reach of many gamers. But an equally large issue is the lack of software - games. Even if you aren't put off by the cost, what games are available? Relatively few. If some elements, like head-tracking, can be inserted into a game, it may make it more appealing to both camps - ps4 and PS4 Pro owners.

I originally thought the PS$ Pro model would be divisive within Sony's PS4 brand and create issues with devs who wanted to take advantage of the Pro's additional horsepower, but were held back by PS4 compatibility requirements. Now, I'm seeing the differences be more of a promotional tease to consider the Pro model and PSVR setup.

Sony was thought to be the savior of VR with a solid install base of PS4 consoles, but the release of the PS4 Pro sent a message tat the standard PS4 was underpowered for VR games. Hybrid games that play on the PS4, but can integrate PSVR elements could be just what Sony needs to stimulate the VR platform.
January 28, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

With GameCube titles on Nintendo Switch's Virtual Console, how will Joy-Cons measure up?

As reports of GameCube Games in Switch's Virtual Console, gamers dreamed of different Joy-Cons.
Reports of GameCube games being available in the Switch's Virtual Console marks the first time these titles have been digitally available. For those who own a GameCube and a slew of games, the prospect of re-purchasing games comes up again. However, it's worth noting how unique the GC controllers are.

We're all accustomed to NES and SNES games being sold for recent Nintendo consoles, but the GameCube would be a first. A handful of N64 games came to the Wii U VC and the reason I mention it is the controller. Both the N64 and Gamecube had fairly unique controllers. Part of the game play came from their layout options. As we've seen, the Joy-Cons are two halves of a control scheme - each quite small in size - attaching to the Switch tablet.

Both N64 and GameCube controllers had unique layouts that lent themselves to the games. The GameCube games coming digitally to Switch will also mark a radical departure from the original control scheme. I'm curious to see how the Joy-Cons hold up to the job.

Limagined GameCube Joy-Cons Imagined GameCube Joy-Cons
imagined GameCube Joy-Cons Imagined GameCube Joy-Cons

January 28, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

After Riverdale's TV premiere, April O'Neil mentions her upcoming XXX Archie parody

Some folks didn't like the dark tone of TV's Riverdale, so they might not like an adult version either.
April O'Neil If you grew up with the wholesome variety of Archie comics, as I did, the darker, sexy tone of Riverdale on the CW may not be your cup of tea. In recent years, Archie comics have also introduced darker topics and scenarios. I love how they re-imagined the characters for the show.

At the same time, I can see how it might be too much of a departure for those who loved the 50's vibe of the comics. These folks probably won't enjoy a porn version of Archie even with pinball wiz, April O'Neil at the helm.

From April O'Neil's Instagram:
"I'm super excited about the Riverdale premiere tonight but I'm more excited that my Archie parody will be released soon on @WoodRocket! I wrote & directed it! Here's a #tbt photo of me in Jughead's crown getting ready to go over the script!"

Dearth Of Archie Video Games

With such dramatic alterations to this long-time favorite comic, I'm kind of surprised Archie Comics haven't appeared in any console video games. Either the original theme or the made-for-TV Riverdale version would be great fodder for a video game of some sort.

Archie: RiverDale Rescue was released for iOS and Android in August 2014, but was abruptly removed from online stores about a year later on October 30, 2015. Big Fish Games, the studio behind this Archie game, described the cancelation as a difficult decision to no longer update the game. The next line is about it's removal from online stores. Very odd - not sure what happened to this game.

Riverdale Rescue Archie: Riverdale Rescue only lasted one year as a mobile game before being pulled from online stores. For anyone influential in the game industry, I'd be all over an Archie video game. They have a great array of characters that could provide a lot of diversity to a Sim-like game. The darker tone of the new Riverdale TV show has a lot of promise for such a game. I'd play the Hell out of it... for those interested :)
January 27, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

I heard rumblings about another Atari license and found this GameBand teaser in my inbox

Atari GameBand
With a Twitter account created in 2013, GameBand speaks of a new product announcement on February 8.
Atari GameBand I seem to remember the GameBand as a Minecraft accessory not too long ago. If memory serves, it was a way to bring your Minecraft data into the wild and enable play on any computer.

The current campaign, with social media accounts, are really pushing the "Atari" connection. I'm wondering if this is simply a re-launch with Atari support or is this something new? Atari has licensed it's name to so many ho-hum endeavors, I can wait for 2/8 t see what they have in store for those who still love to battle the Qotile!

At the time the most recent owners bought the Atari brand, I recall a quote from within the Atari camp saying they wanted to leverage their iconic games in a manner beyond t-shirts. I adore the recent PS4 Flashback Classic games, but I'd be happy to see them launch an 8-bit lifestyle brand and flood us with cool t-shirts and other swag from the good old days.

January 31 - they sent a bit more info describing the product as a smartwatch for gamers that is to be funed via Kickstarter.

Atari GameBand
January 27, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Flappy Bird developer returns with another fun & addictively infuriating mobile game, Ninja Spinki

Ninja Spinki mobile game
Some gamers want to win. Others just love to play - regardless how difficult and short the playing may be.
Ninja Spinki mobile game There must be a metric to how annoying a game can be before a user will give up and never return. This feat was narrowly skirted in 2013 with the release of Flappy Bird. It was insanely frustrating, but tons of fun to try over and over. Many thought so and the free-to-play game made tons of money via ads.

The developer, Dong Nguyen, suddenly pulled Flappy Bird from online stores causing phones with the game installed to sell for outrageous sums. The whole scene from frustration to addiction to the game's removal was crazy. If nothing else, it showed how certain games can be wildly difficult yet still satisfy on some mystic level.

Frustration Is Good

Ordinarily, a game that makes me want to smash my phone is a game I can easily delete and never thing about again. Flappy Bird proved an exception and Nguyen is back, with Japanese developer, Obokaidem, for another pursuit of frustration called, Ninja Spinki. The character apparently comes from a former title, Swing Copters.

Ninja Spinki mobile game

About Ninja Spinki

Consisting of mini games, the challenge is high and almost as frustrating as Flappy Bird. You begin with each game with a timed tutorial. Once you survive each game for 10 seconds, it unlocks the "endless play" options where the real frustration sets in.

Personally, I love this game and you'll find it available for Android and iOS. As a console gamer, it's just what I want in a mobile game. Some may say these mini games are too simplistic with outrageous difficulty - I say bring it on! Good stuff!
January 27, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

I still like to read Game Informer for new titles, but I can't resist the allure of 8-bit retro gaming

Old game carts full of retro goodness excite me much more than most modern video game experiences.
Game Informer retro You needed a pretty keen sense of imagination to believe a small cluster of pixels was a mighty spacecraft on a mission to defend the galaxy. But we all made the leap. We believed. Our imagination, with a boost from the game's manual, put all those pixels in perspective and we knew the battle was on.

As video games became more like movies we began to deal with cut-scenes where control would lapse and we could reach for another handful of chips. You didn't have that luxury in a game of Berzerk!

These days we seem to be controlling characters through scenes coming very close to movies. Photo realism has come a long way.

While I love new games and technology, Few things beat a good game of Missile Command or Defender! There's something magical about those enemies represented by batches of pixels that still raise my blood pressure when the close-calls are fast and frequent.
January 27, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Nintendo can't ship enough 30-game NES Classic Editions & a new hack allows unlimited game additions

An update to the NES Classic Edition Hakchi now allows unlimited games to be added
Hakchi 2.1.1 alows unlimited games on the NES mini A few weeks ago we heard about the initial NES Classic Edition hack allowing owners to double the number of games on their cute little mini console.

Hakchi has been updated to 2.1.1 and now has no game limits outside of the 512MB of available storage space. Articles are appearing with claims of over 800 games being installed on that tiny little NES contraption. The only limitation seems to be physical storage space. I've read several generic articles repeating the "800+" figure, but none that seem to be from end users who've performed the hack and installed game themselves.

A few folks have jokingly asked if there are 800 games that anyone would really want to play. While I see the point, think about the value of this Nintendo-manufactured device when it uses NES-style controllers and facilitates play via HDMI. Some folks are saying they're over it or only wanted it for the holidays, but being able to play every NES game on a modern TV with replica controllers is something very special.

We all have emulators on our computers and many also have USB NES controllers, but this little mini beast takes it to another level. Maybe I'm swept up in the excitement of ROMs on a modern TV with old-school controllers, but I think the mini is a must-have.

I'll be honest, I'm not one to want to risk bricking my beloved NES mini. I adore it's 30 games and all the awesomeness that comes with it, but when quantities are more bountiful and I can buy another one... I'm dying to try this hack and see if I can go back to the 80's NES-style!
January 26, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

A team is positioning 1979’s “Apocalypse Now” as a psychological horror video game

Apocalypse Now as a psychological horror video game
As Captain Willard, you have a mission, but how you journey upriver with the PBR Streetgang, to find Colonel Kurtz, is up to you.
Apocalypse Now is an amazing movie that becomes more of an experience than just a film. It draws you in and won't release you. It will make you laugh and cringe in seconds. I love this film!

It's release was just prior to the massive onslaught of video games based on movies. Back in those days the pixelation didn't mimic the big screen quite the way it does today, but video games based on movies became a huge market segment. Some were good, others... not so much. A movie like Apocalypse Now would have been a tough game to make and do justice to the film.

Apocalypse Now From a creative standpoint, you'd have to have a lot of courage and talent to transform a Francis Ford Coppola film to an 8-bit game. But we're past the 8-bit era. How might that game fare today?

How might this film evolve into a game in today's gaming environment? It would be a first-person shooter with six sequels cued up before the first midnight launch party. Ugh.

However, a cross-disciplinary team of AAA game developers, motion picture professionals and Interactive creatives are coming together to create a truly unique experience. The team has been part of titles such as Fallout: New Vegas, Wasteland 2, Far Cry, and a host of RPGs. Appocalypse Now is going to be an RPG, not an FPS! :)

Check out the Apocalypse Now Kickstarter campaign for more details. There's a lot of good info and a video with a perspective from Francis Ford Coppola about bringing the film to the gaming arena.

This game sounds like an enormous undertaking, seeking close to $1M and delivering in the Fall of 2020. At the same time, there is a lot of creative talent behind this project.

If all goes as planned, this could be an awesome game based on an iconic film. You never know with crowd funding... and that can be part of the excitement. You might be on the ground level of helping an iconic film become an iconic video game.
January 25, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

A game designer's unintended glitch gives a humorous look at the cool tech available in high school

When things go wrong in game development you can always set it to a catchy pop track and enjoy the mess.
This footage is from a game in development that went awry when some parameters were changed. I love that this story went somewhat viral. Kids need to be exposed to career options long before they actually begin to seek employment!

game glitch Most interesting to me is the footage came from a video game design class in a California high school! Wow - times have changed. We had a TRS-80 in my high school and there wasn't much programming going on in the few classes able to make use of it.

Obviously computers are far more prevalent in today's schools compared to my era, but I'm still impressed that a high school would have a game dev class. My son is in middle school and has access to an impressive array of elective clases and after-school activities offering exposure to all sorts of technology.

I'm sure many kids goes through a phase of wanting to be a pro gamer. Who wouldn't - gaming has become enormous. I think it's important to show kids a variety of employment possibilities within the gaming industry. As gamers, we don't always see all the events that play major roles in video games. Exposing kids to development and programming is a great way to show them the technical careers that exist out there - even if they don't work for a game company. Well done, schools!

January 24, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Could Trump's desires for “Made In America” drive up the cost of video games - or worse?

Trump's idiocy
While tariffs may bolster some aspects of the economy and "Go America!" sentiments, not all products manufactured abroad are evil - video games, for instance.
Video games are a global business flourishing in many parts of the world. Atari made strides early on in the US. Nintendo came out of Japan. Developers are worldwide. Trump doesn't seem to understand "global."

He has an "us versus them" mentality. Sure it would be swell if tax laws and cheap labor didn't drive away domestic manufacturing, but the response can't be to tax all incoming product. Tariffs are typically imposed on products being imported when they could be manufactured domestically. This is an incentive for companies not to hire cheap labor abroad to circumvent domestic costs.

Trump's talk about tariffs show a dismal knowledge of global economies. He could impose a tariff on all foreign product coming into the US. This might include video games and consoles. Of course any such tariff could easily descend into a trade war as other nations imposed similar penalties on US products being exported.

That orange dude is a mess. One can only hope he has some advisors around to quell his impulsive notions that his ideals are those of the entire nation.

It's petty of me to be concerned about a price spike in video games when the new president will likely launch nukes if enough congressmen don't show up to his birthday party.
January 24, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Why am I drawn to terrible games and rendered unable to pass them up?

I hate those awful games that over-power my better judgement and can't resist buying!
Battle Crashers I still love the Regular Show platformer game for the 3DS and I'm dying to try Battle Crashers with all these Cartoon Network characters. Today I saw the PS4 version, but refuse to pay that much for such a poorly reviewed game. I'll wait until there's a more reasonably priced used copy but I have to have this.

As a fan of all six represented shows, it kills me that all of the reviews have said it's dreadful. I'm sure they're right, but the allure of playing these guys is too much for me to pass up. Obsession can be a cruel burden :) Secretly I'm thinking it'll be hella fun after a few beers!

From Nintendo's website (3DS version)
When Uncle Grandpa accidentally drives the UG-RV through multiple dimensions, he picks up some surprise passengers in the form of Gumball, Steven Universe, Finn, Mordecai and Clarence! Now they'll have to band together to defeat the evil shard creatures and set things right.

Use each character's unique attacks and special moves to conquer the elements, fight your way through all the levels and beat some brutal boss battles. Replay maps with special modifiers to switch up the fun, and unlock bonus rooms along the way.
January 23, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

My local Best Buy has a small area reserved for upcoming Nintendo Switch merchandise

Nintendo isn't expanding into Best Buy. They are removing items to shoehorn in the Switch products.
Local stores in my area are gearing up for Nintendo's next console along with the games and accessories that will arrive. Best Buy has cleared out most of their 3DS accessories and moved things over to accomodate the initial batch of Switch merch. It's interesting to see how they rearrange things to accomodate the next console.

My local GameStop is tiny. I have no idea how they're going to fit in another console line with all the bins of Think Geek junk they have. The entire "Nintendo area" is much too small to accomodate the Wii U and 3DS games - not to mention the amiibo.

Nintendo Switch shelf at Best Buy
January 23, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The internet agrees: the red font for “Star Wars The Last Jedi” can't be a good sign

From this foreboding conclusion conversations shift to, "who's gonna lose a hand next?"
It seems anyone with a web presence is obligated to post the freshly released title and ominous red Star Wars logo image. So, here it is...

Since the franchise was rekindled with Episode VII, I opted to ignore all media leading up to the film's release. I didn't watch any trailers or follow any discussions. When it was released, my son and I went to see it and loved it! I repeated this plight of self-ignorance with the fanfare surrounding Rogue One. Again, we loved the film.

I understand some folks love to delve into every inch of the plot and try to discern more info. I"m a fan too. I get it, but I get a little tired of the rumors and suppositions based on any minute shred of info. To begin speculation from the title, The Last Jedi, is a bit silly and only compounded by pretending the font color contains valid clues. If I went this deep into any film prior to release, I doubt I'd really enjoy it. I want to experience the story as it's told, without having seen 20 minutes f footage from various trailers.

For those beginning the dissection of The Last Jedi... it's going to be a long 11 months.

background of the crown hat
January 22, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has ventured into “Brian Williams” territory with Alternate Facts

Lying in support of President Trump's childish inadequacies is a poor way to maintain a steady job in Washington.
I"m sure Spicer was ordered to the podium by his orange boss to recant any notion that Donald's inauguration was the bigest event planet Earth has ever seen. When it comes to reliability, the Press Secretary has to do a bit better. Maybe dial back on the "alternative facts."

It will be interesting to see if Spicer will be forced to convey Trump's random inadequacies or if some sort of standard will evolve to bring some professionalism to the office. Let's hope he doesn't have to go the Brian Williams route and sink himself. Washington is a strange town, but I think the general public is through with Trump's man-baby BS. On the other hand, you have to laugh at the onslaught of memes the Trump administration invokes.

Spice Facts
January 22, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

As much as I enjoyed playing Uncharted, the games were enough like movies to satisfy that need

Video game inspired movies come from a variety of sources, but none deliver nearly the excitement & drama of the games themselves.
Uncharted movie It seems that Uncharted is going the opposite direction from most video game movie relationships. The game may be becoming a film. This is a recent trend that bucks the notion of a video game coming afterwards to support the film.

Playing Uncharted 4 seemed like "playing a movie". I mean that in a complimentary way. The game was engaging, fun, and I became very attached to the characters and wanted them to succeed.

With that in mind, I don't really see the need to go to a theater for a passive (sitting on my butt in a theater) experience based on the same concept. I want to control Nathan Drake, not watch him in a film.

Film, to me, is a very unique medium and much different than video games - even though they can share the same screen at home. What works in one format, won't necessarily carry over to the other.

I like playing Ratchet and Clank, but didn't like sitting and watching the movie. A lot of people hated Pixels, but I liked it. It was very focused on gaming, but wasn't a port of an actual game as is the Assassin's Creed movie.

Hollywood rarely delivers original films. Most titles are remakes of other films or the 5th sequel in a series of the same-old-thing. They won't take risks. They simply deliver the same concepts over and over, operating on the notion that a successful movie will yield a successful sequel. Sequels are safe - originality is risky. That's an unfortunate way to operate in a supposedly creative environment.

Movies & video games elicit similar engagement, but are very different mediums.
It's a sad situation, that makes me wonder if folks in Hollywood have any passion or belief in their ability to craft an original film that will delight audiences. Nope - just give 'em more of the same.

I have no interest in controlling and having an impact on a character's decisions in a video game and then sit passively watching the same character in a film. We're all familiar with video game tie-ins with films. Such games add interest to the film. We can become the film's hero and interact with the character in a video game. Going the other direction seems odd. Video games are interactive and we enjoy that control we have with them.

I don't want to watch Nathan Drake in an Uncharted film after being Nathan in a video game. The mediums don't really work both directions. Movies set up the characters we want to "be" via video games.

Losing that "control" in a theater seems underwhelming by comparison. Video games take the action of a movie to new levels via control and story. Movies constrain everything to a script. I wanna let loose and play the game after seeing the movie... not the other way around. Good luck on the silver screen, Nate!
January 22, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

With Riverdale premiering on TV, here's a background on the crown hat worn by Jughead

Archie comics turned fairly dark not long age and Riverdale, on the CW, looks to be following that darker trend.
crown hat In the 1920s and 1930s, crown hats (sometimes called Whoopee caps) were popular among youths. They were often made from a felt fedora with a zig-zag pattern cut into the brim and turned up.

RiverDale on the CW Network

Coinciding with Archie's 75th anniversary, this TV show on the CW network looks promising. I grew up with Archie comics and an well aquatinted with the cheerful family-friendly comics one typically thinks of. Did you know Archie died... in an Archie comic? Things aren't always rosy in Riverdale and that seems to be the tone of this new TV series.

In a July 2014 comic, Archie was killed saving his friends life, gay character Kevin Keller, from an assassination attempt. Keller was a newly elected United States Senator with stalker problems. Definitely not the sort of fare I expected from Archie Comics, but it certainly stirs things up. I'm excited to see how this show goes and where they take the characters.

background of the crown hat
January 21, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

If you're a fan of retro mining games like Boulder Dash, give “Sapphire Yours” a look

retro mining game, Sapphire Yours
Sapphire Yours is a modern retro style miner game. Retrieve the treasures while defeating malicious enemies and solving puzzles.
I've been a long time fan of Boulder Dash, my latest foray being on my 2DS. It's appeared on early 8-bit computers as well as modern game consoles. It's popularity as a game and genre are well defined and sequels have spawned. I really like the genre - there's something about the mining & puzzle element that has always appealed to me.

Sapphire Yours will be familiar to anyone whose played such titles, but each iteration is an opportunity for a developer to showcase the genre from their perspective. It's come a long way from 1984's Exidy arcade game. Each dev who has taken on such a project needs to be taken as tributary. When a game has so many prolific versions across time and platforms - most recently the 30th anniversary releases - the notion of "clones" needs to take a more empathetic view and be treated as a tribute to it's origins

Check out Sapphire Yours. You'll find it on iOS, Android, and Windows. It's pretty cool to see this game genre continue forward with new elements and updated graphics, while still retaining a retro feel.

retro mining game, Sapphire Yours From developer Bence Sipka:
At the beginning of the computer era, apart from playing with Microsoft Paint, games like Boulder Dash and similar miner games had great impact on me (Bence Sipka, the developer). Later my siblings and me found the game Sapphire Yours and enjoyed great deal of hours playing it, as well as creating levels for it. Later the game was not maintained and playing on modern computers became problematic as it would not run properly.

In January 2016 I decided to rewrite the game for modern operating systems and make it publicly available for the community. At the end of May 2016 the mobile versions became available in the stores, and as the further development progressed the game got ready for PC release. At the end of January 2017 the game is coming to Steam via Greenlight, with updated 3D graphics and new features for the community.
January 21, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Class-up your photos - take selfies in arcades, not bathrooms

Ms. Pac-Man is a much better backdrop than a bathroom stall.
I'd never watched The Voice, but when they brought on Miley Cyrus and her wackiness, I decided to give Season 11 a try. I dig Miley, but i didn't become a fan of the show.

However, Darby Walker was a contestant on Miley's team and I thought she had a great voice and seemed quite talented. Couldn't resist this pic in front of a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game. It's all about the backdrop!

Darby Anne Walker from The Voice
January 21, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

With so many unknowns about Switch's Virtual Console, you might hold off on that Star Fox 64 purchase on Wii U

If you have a Wii U and Switch pre-order, should you buy Star Fox 64 on the Wii U Virtual Console?
Star Fox 64 Here's another same-game-different-console question similar to the Zelda quandary. While Zelda BOTW comes out on Switch's launch day for both consoles, what do gamers do now about Star Fox 64 being recently released for the Wii U VC? Will The Switch Virtual Console contain this game? Can we transfer VC games from prior consoles to the Switch? Get it now? Wait and see?

There are still a lot of questions out there about the Switch. In my opinion, the fact that there are still mysteries bodes well for the console. It's not a simple turnit-on-and-play box. It has more substance than that. Naturally, all of the mystery will dissipate when it gets into consumer hands, but for now we have to weigh a lot of options.

The Wii U version of SF64 lets up to 4 people play. If it comes out for the Switch, it will cost a lot just to get enough Joy-Cons for your 3 other friends. It's always something - give and take. Never a dull day in the video game industry and it's continual expansion.

January 20, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Launching in tandem with Switch, Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild may reveal interesting Wii U sales figures

Before BOTW was announced as a Switch launch title, we knew there was a Wii U version. Now it's the Wii U's last game.
With the simultaneous launch of the new Zelda game for both the Wii U and Switch, I'm eager to see how the sales go. There are a slew of stats I'd love to know going into the March 3rd launch of both versions.

For instance, how many upcoming Switch pre-order gamers also own a Wii U? The sales of the Wii U version may be weak due to the Switch launch, but there may be enough sales by those not able to get the wSwitch on the 3rd. There are a lot of factors at play and I'm actually surprised Nintendo decided to launch Zelda on both consoles.

One has to wonder if the Wii U version went forward during a time when Nintendo was uncertain if the Switch version would be ready for launch. Without it, they wouldn't even have the traditional Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey won't be released until the end of the year.

I've never been a huge Zelda fan, so I'm curious to see how the fans decide which to buy with a new console and an outgoing console each hosting the game to be released on the same day!

The Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild
January 19, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The “pack-in game model” is part of why I'm not fond of Nintendo's decision not to include 1-2-Switch

pack-in games
I've never purchased a console because of the pack-in game, but they often turn out to be my favorite games.
All mobile games are downloads. They have no physical media. It's the nature of the beast. While smartphones come with a lot of utility, almost everything that makes them fun is added post-sale... via download. I was turned off by the PS Vita (bought the PS TV instead) for just that reason - most of the games were online downloads. There's something about physical media that I love dearly and the pack-in game is the the first for each console.

Uncharted 4 - PS4 By the way- a pack-in game only qualifies as such in physical format. I refused to Buy a Wii U with a Splatoon download code. I wanted the physical game!

My recently purchased PS4 came with Uncharted 4 as the pack-in game just as my PS3 contained the prior, third installment (enjoyed them both immensely). As I was purchasing the first two games last night, I began thinking about pack-in games and the way they've shaped my initial thoughts about each console. Truth is - they don't!

I bought a PS2 at the tail-end of it's retail lifespan and Toy Story 2 was included. My son was at an age where he loved Toy Story and was all over the game. I enjoyed it, but it had nothing to do with my decision to buy the PS2. Toy Story 2 was simply a nice add on.

Like many of us my gaming fascination began with the Atari 2600 and Combat was the pack-in game. I was all about Street Racer and Indy 500 with the custom paddles. I came to like the diversity of games on Combat, but it had nothing to do with my craving for an Atari VCS.

Similarly with the NES, I bought a few games when buying the console - having no clue what Mario Bros was about. I considered Duck Hunt nothing more than fodder for the included light gun accessory. StarFox was the first game I bought with my SNES and although I enjoyed Mario Bros on the NES, I didn't know anything about Super Mario when seeking out the console.

Cybermorph - Atari Jaguar Had anyone heard of Cybermorph when Atari's final console was released? I bought a Jaguar on release day and picked up Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy (and Doom soon after). I really enjoyed Cybermorph, but it didn't figure in to my purchase decision. It was Atari - I had to have it!

OK, I'll admit it... I love Pack-In Games

My lame tale of pack-in game dismissal ends with a confession. Later on - with each console - the pack-in game became a favored title. So, these titles are often included to demo a console's features, but I tend to buy a few games with a new console based on reviews, box art, or other off-kilter metrics.

Isn't the Switch crying out for a title like 1-2-Switch to show us what those Joy-Cons are all about? Buy a cow-milking game? Um, no thanks. If included (as a pack-in) I'm sure I'd give it a whirl and end up loving it! Pac-in games are an essential part of a new console!

Many have said the Switch is expensive, arriving at the same price point as the competition, but this cost apparently came at the demise of a pack-in game. I'm excited about the Switch and I can get behind the portable/home modes and the whacky joycons... but don't mess with my pack-in game!!

January 18, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Chuck E. Cheese's is rumored to be prepping for a mid-2017 IPO with $1 billion in burgers & claw machines

In a move to impress investors, Chuck E. Cheese's wants to differentiate themselves from other chains via an IPO, but may also solicit a buyout under the right conditions.
I've always wanted to visit a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant arcade, but they all seem to be full of redemption, pusher, and claw machines. Not exactly what I look for in an arcade. And I've read several articles about parental fist-fights while the kids play. That gives me the notion that it's a pretty janky sort of place. Maybe they're not so far from being a Burger Kink with a few kiddie games.

None the less, Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell did start it in 1977, so from that perspective.... I should have visited one a few decades ago - lol

Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant arcade Chuck E. Cheese's parent company and its franchisees operate 603 Chuck E. Cheese restaurants and 144 Peter Piper Pizza stores, with locations in 47 U.S. states and 11 other countries. That mouse has been busy over the years. I had no idea they were that prolific.
January 16, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

You gotta stay warm if you're waiting on line for an NES Classic Edition

Nintendo continues saying they were surprised by the demand for mini consoles, yet they are still under-delivering!
NES hat and NES Classic Edition box - Prisma filter Nintendo has been asked if similar shortages will come on the Switch's launch day. While they say no, GameStop is already warning of low inventory on both consoles and games! Will 2 million consoles satisfy global release? If not when will the next wave of consoles be delivered?

Consumers also need to remember that the games may also e in short supply. It would suck to get a Switch pre-order and not be able to get the games you want. With only a handful of available games on launch day, best to order them now.

I'm starting to feel a bit of FOMO on Switch's launch day. I decided to hang back and see how things played out, but now I kinda want a Switch. More accurately - I want one before Summer, but I'm fearing a similar inability to deliver product. I'd hate to see a Wii U scenario unfold, fueled by investors and morons. It's a tough call. Cool product, but the Wii U could so easily have been a big success.

Maybe I should drown my FOMO in a few rounds of Nestor's Funky Bowling Nestor's Funky Bowling - VirtualBoy
January 16, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Has purchasing a new game console become bland due to the games or my advancing age?

Video game consoles
I understand why Kids get excited to buy anything, but games today just don't rev me up the way they used to.
I'm not opposed to accepting my age and facing the fact that youthful exuberance may be a thing of my past. At the same time, I still get excited about new products coming to market - from music to games. I haven't lost the ability to get stoked! Yet, the last few consoles didn't come close to the excitement I had for an Atari 2600 when I was a kid.

Over the last several years, I've picked up a PS3, NeoGeo X, Wii U, and PS4. The PlayStation buying experiences were pretty bland compared with the Wii U.

Kids always want the latest greatest thing, without regard for history. As my son delved into gaming several years ago, I ensured he played the classics from 8-bit to 80's arcade favorites in tandem with modern games. From this he still loves the 8 and 16-bit games from my past as much as the modern games. He racks up astounding scores on Robotron:2084 and has a keen sense of navigating through Uncharted 4!

NeoGeo X

SNK NeoGeo X handheld unit I was excited for the NeoGeo X due to it's unique handheld-to-TV capability and I'd never owned an AES, but loved many of the games. The AES was the first console to duplicate the arcade games on a home console. Being able to share these games with my son was really cool.

However, it became quickly apparent, the product was going nowhere and promised game additions were canceled as disagreements played out between SNK and Tommo. Despite this, we enjoyed many of the games and it fueled our passion for Metal Slug, Cyber Lip, and others. Neither of us had much of a frame of reference for these games, but we came to love them and it became part of our retro gaming arsenal.

Wii U

Nintendo Wii U I really wanted the Wii U since it launched. However, it quickly became apparent it would have a short life cycle and the game library would be small. I held out for a price drop that never happened. Finally, I gave in and bought it with the launch of Splatoon. There were plenty of titles I wanted to play.

Splatoon turned out to be one of my favorite games. Along with Nintendo must-haves from Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze to Mario Kart, there were plenty of titles to excite me about the console. My son and I bought it one Summer and his excitement certainly rubbed off on me.

PlayStation 3

Sony Playstation 3 game console I bought the PS3 toward the tail end of it's life cycle with zero fanfare. I simply didn't want to be left behind and was curious to check it out when the price dropped - probably a holiday sale. While the graphics were obviously improved, the games were more akin to watching/controlling a movie. Pushing boundaries while playing seemed rife with cut-scenes and trying to guess what to do next.

I'm not a big fan of FPS full of idiots yelling into headsets. it astounds me that so many of these games are approaching double-digit sequels. I'm more of a Plants Versus Zombies or Splatoon kinda guy. The PS3 game library doesn't excite me. There hasn't been a game I really craved and couldn't wait to buy. Most of the few titles I have were impulse buys.

PlayStation 4

I yawned as the PS4 came to market. There weren't any games that excited me. When I spoke with friends, they could only point to a handful of titles to recommend. Even the PSVR didn't intrigue me. I've tried a few VR options and while impressive in their own right, it's not the experience I seek from a video game.

To be honest, I bought the PS4 so I could play the 2 Atari compilations from AtGames. It was a Christmas gift this year for my son. He gets stoked about new consoles and the possibilities that come with them. We picked it up together at a WalMart, but I wasn't dying to get home to start playing. In fact, we got home rather late and didn't open the box until the next morning.

I also picked up the Megaman Legacy game along with Rising Star's SteamWorld Collection. I'll admit Uncharted 4 was awesome, but the titles don't jump out at me when I'm shopping.

Age Plays A Role

I won't deny my age has a lot to do with my feelings toward new purchases. Kids have a remarkable ability to ratchet up their enthusiasm and that may wane as we age. However, I assure you I'm not very mature. I'm just fed up with games these days. Maybe this tale would benefit from some info about my earlier purchases that really got me pumped up.

My First Atari

Atari 2600 quarter view After playing Space Invaders at a local bowling alley, I was blown away when my buddy got an Atari 2600 for Christmas... and could play it at home. My eyes popped out of my head! I instantly began a campaign to convince my parents that I needed an Atari VCS!

I adored arcade ports most, since I was familiar with the games, but my heart would always race when my Mom took me to the game store. I'd look through the boxes to see what was new. I'd evaluate each game from the cover art. When something really caught my eye, I'd read the back for more detail. I was bursting with excitement every time I found a potential addition to my small pile of games.

You can bet I dashed home as fast as possible to pop my new game into my 2600. From Defender and Berzerk to Vanguard and Pac-Man I was a happy kid! I was disappointed with Space Chase (but played the Hell out of it anyway) and couldn't believe how awesome Demon Attack was. My son and I still play a lot of Demon Attack.

My First Nintendo

Nintendo NES console - front left view My next big craving was Nintendo's NES. I had been removed from gaming for a while, but couldn't resist the allure of Nintendo's ads and how amazing the games looked compared to what I had played.

A friend and I were going on a week-long ski trip and wanted to chill out with some video games and Nintendo was the hot item. I began shopping around for one and no one had stock - No One! Down, but not out - we stopped at every shopping mall on the 5 hour drive to the ski resort. We must have visited 5 or 6 malls before discovering a Kay-Bee Toys store with inventory.

The clerk told us he didn't think he had any, but would check in the storeroom. We were super stoked when he reappeared with the box! That was a great trip and each night ended in beers and NES. I still own that console and my son and I often play Blades Of Steel on it!

My Next Atari - The Jaguar

Atari Jaguar console with Cartridge inserted Clearly Nintendo brought video games back from the brink of destruction, but the Atari Jaguar launch was an amazing day for me. Just the idea that an Atari product was coming to market was incredible! A friend and I took a very extended lunch break to go to Nobody Beats The Wiz to pick on up.

That night we played Cyber Morph with wide-eyed wonder. We were amazed at what Atari was offering. I bought every game I could get my hands on. It wasn't long before the gap widened greatly between the good and bad games. The good ones were awesome and the bad ones were nearly unplayable. Still I bought them all as the console took a quick exit from retail shelves.


To wrap up my feelings - I'm not stuck in the past. I appreciate many of today's modern games while still enjoying a good game of Yar's Revenge. However, I don't think my current enthusiasm for Uncharted will last 30 years. While I'm always down to battle the Qotile, jumping from ledge to ledge with Nathan Drake probably won't last nearly as long as my passion for jumping on alligator heads in Pitfall!

I haven't lost my passion for video games or the excitement of a cool new console, despite growing older. I'm simply not as excited about story-based games with definitive endings - forcing me to buy the next sequel. I love playing Defender to see if I can beat my high score. It's always a fun and challenging game. It never ends. It just gets more difficult.

The PS4 is a nice system, but the most fun I've had on it was playing games from the 80s. Advancements and technology have enabled games to become almost cinematic, but I don't want to "play" a movie. I want an experience that challenges me while delivering fun. There are no where near enough games that deliver fun.

I bought a ton of games for the Wii. It's a great console and offers a lot of alternatives in the motion control Wiimotes. Ever since that console, I've bought few games-per-console than ever before! Modern games can be fun, but they don't have the lasting appeal of those I grew up with.
January 15, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

If you missed out on the Nintendo Switch pre-orders maybe a pin will assuage your loss

If you pre-ordered a Switch, don't forget to pre-order games too!
Nintendo Switch pre-orders were available Friday Morning (Jan 13) but they were gone by Noon. Nintendo claims to have 2 million consoles on hand for launch day. I'm guessing I won't see a Switch in my living room until the Summer. Remember that the console has no pack-in game therefore you'll want to pre-order a game or two as well. You don't want to wind up with an expensive door-stop. No games = no fun.

GameStop is contacting customers with console orderes to also pre-order games. The games will be in short supply just like the console. I'd be pissed if I got the console, but couldn't find games in stock. My feeling is everything will be in short supply on launch day and those who did well flipping NES Classic Edition mini consoles online will try with the Switch. Pre-orders are already showing up in online auctions!

Metroid Rogue Dawn
January 15, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Check out Metroid Rogue Dawn, an unofficial prequel to the NES game released in 1986

Experience the events that unfolded before Samus's famous “Zero” mission on planet Zebes.
Metroid Rogue Dawn I saw this news on Retro Collect and you should definitely check out this ROM hack that's been two years in the making! With a new soundtrack and amazing graphics seeming beyond the capability of the NES, it's easy to update an existing Metroid RM file. More info, screen shots, and instructions can be found on the Metroid Construction forum, including the downloadable files.

I think you'll be truly surprised by the additions. The homebrew community is full of surprises - you never know what will become released. In the end those who love to expand on the games they love are true heroes of retro gaming and add such amazing games to a variety of consoles.

Regardless how insignificant a console may seem, there are others who love it as much as you do and are still creating games for it.

Metroid Rogue Dawn screenshot 2 Never underestimate a passion for retro gaming!
January 15, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

As Trump's circus invades Washington, the real one is closing due to the economy

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey logo
Ringling Bros' "The Circus Wants The Circus Back" campaign was brilliant during election season. It's sad to see them close down.
As a child, we went to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus every year in Washington DC. I still have vivid memories of sitting in the stands and watching the mayhem unfold. With child-like wonder, I had no idea all that mayhem was part of a well-oiled machine that had entertainment down to a science. It is the greatest show on Earth!

News is rushing through social media about the economy finally taking it's toll on this entertainment giant. On January 14, the CEO of Ringling Bros. parent company released a statement regarding the show's closing in May of 2017. "The decision to end the circus tours was made as a result of high costs coupled with a decline in ticket sales, making the circus an unsustainable business for the company."

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey - the real circus Ringling Bros. provided amazing entertainment and it was passed from generation to generation. Kids grew up and took their kids to see the circus. There's really nothing quite like it!

Taking Back The Circus

But there's another side to the circus - or at least the word "circus". During the recent presidential campaign, the US (and the world) saw things happen that are unheard of in any election. The media likened the whole affair to being a circus. That word has somehow become likened to disarray and chaos. However if you've seen a Ringling Bros. show, you know it's intricately crafted.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had enough and launched "The Circus Wants The Circus Back" campaign. Fed up with political antics overtaking the notion of a circus, Ringling Bros. set out to set the record straight. This was spot-on the best idea ever - the circus demanded to be removed from the idiocy that is our election process. Can't blame them - who'd want to be associated with that nonsense?

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey video game

The Circus in Video Games

Curious to see how much circus I could find in my own video game collection, there were two clear standouts.

Who could forget 1980's Circus Atari - the simple but fun game of popping square ballons via paddle-controlled clowns on a teeter-totter? It's a pretty fun game and the precision with the paddle controllers is quite good!

in 2009 2K Games released the branded, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth for Nintendo's Wii console. While compatible with the balance board accessory, it doesn't quite replicate the excitement of the real deal.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey - the real circus Kristen Michelle Wilson, Ringling Bros. First Female Ringmaster Check out Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's tour schedule and see if they're coming to ta town near you. It's a great show and something the whole family will enjoy. It's way better than Circus Atari. See them while you still can!
January 14, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

I didn't expect Nintendo Switch pre-orders to last long, but I did expect a pack-in game

Nintendo Switch pre-orders
I can't recall ever buying a game console that didn't have a pack-in game- something to play right out-or-the-box!
Over the decades, pack-in games have been a staple of buying a game console. Often they are a mechanism for showcasing a new system's capabilities and giving players something to play right away. Apparently the Switch will NOT have a pack-in game. I find that very strange considering the variety of uses for the joycons and the system itself. It seems like the sort of system that needs a special game to expose and train gamers on new features.

Nintendo Switch - Karen playing Mario Kart I think the Switch is a bit overpriced at $299. Discovering it doesn't have an included game (pack-in), kind of makes it more of a $360 game console.

I hope nintendo is on top of things with this launch. To no surprise, the pre-orders filled up quite quickly. By lunchtime on Friday, I couldn't find any. Toys R Us has a "coming soon" mention on their site, but no indication of a pre-order event. Yes, eBay is already full of folks reselling their pre-ordered Switches.

In all likelihood, launch-day will generate a new kind of Nintendo anger among those still trying to get an NES Classic Edition while standing on a long line for a Switch.

As far as I can tell, this will likely be a Summer purchase for me. Over the last few generations, I've learned to suppress my urge to buy on day-one, but from servier issues to insane system updates, I'm content to wait. A great console will still be just as great a few months down the line. with no Mario game at launch... I can wait.
January 13, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

It's Friday the 13th!

The films are better than this game, but if you have the cart... give it a play.
Fire up your NES and dive into LJN's 1988 game - Friday the 13th. While it has a lot of options and details, it doesn't really capture the despair of the films... unless you play too long :)

Nintendo Switch
January 13, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The biggest issue facing Nintendo's Switch is the misinformed chatter filling social media

Nintendo Switch
The Switch seems very cool, but it's success will come from the quality of it's game library over time.
I stayed up late, drank more coffee, and watched Nintendo's latest info-push about the Switch game console. I like it. It's a cool concept and it has just as much potential as the Wii U. For those who've forgotten, the Wii U was very innovative as well.

Specs don't tell the whole story.

Play Like A Madman

The Atari 2600 launched with 9 games. Sixteen years later the Atari Jaguar launched with Cybermorph, as a pack-in, and Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy on retail shelves. I bought the Jag and Trevor and played the Hell out of those two games as I waited for more. I loved Atari and adored the games they offered. I was blown away by having a new Atari console!

I started gaming in the Atari era, but quickly saw the value, integrity, and creativity Nintendo brought back to a dwindling gaming industry. Their NES brought life back to a pastime that could just as easily have vanished in the mid 1980s. I loved what Atari brought to the table and bought the Jag without a single doubt. I even took off from work to make sure I got one on launch day.

Passion Trumps Processor Speeds

As a gamer, the same passion and respect I had for Atari was earned by Nintendo. I don't listen to the drivel online. Nor am I a blind fan-boy craving anything with a Nintendo logo. I'm a historian. I've watched and played Nintendo since their entry into video games. While I don't always understand their actions, they've proven the path they follow.

If you choose specs over fun, you deserve what you get.
Just as I still play Jaguar games with my son (we still love T2K) we also play on my original NES. Nintendo has 4 or 5 games lined up for The Switch's launch day. In addition to misinformation about processor chips, the internet wants you to believe that these lone titles will cause dismay and claim there must be more. Relax. More games will come.

If you have a pre-order - congratulations - play the Hell out of those launch titles. Remember this expenditure you've made is all about having fun and Nintendo has been delivering fun for decades!

The Jaguar was called a failure. So was the Wii U. I still love both game consoles and will continue to play the games I love on each one. I'll bet a lot of you are just like me and love your retro consoles along with newer ones. We love to play! We all have individual ideals and desires when it comes to gaming, but if you've been playing games for decades, then you know the value of ONE GREAT GAME and the fun it instigates!

People complaining and spreading misinformation online, need to find that one game that captures their wonder and leads them into an amazing game. Some of these folks have way too much free time. From Atari to the PS4, I rarely have time to waste. There are too many awesome games to play!
January 12, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Are Retail clerks the new "bar tenders" in the fight against underage game purchases?

M-rated video games
I'm not sure underage gaming can be equated to the perils of underage drinking, but my town is trying it out.
During the purchase of an M-rated game the clerk asked to see my ID. I had to stop and think for a second as I've never been carded for buying video games. I couldn't figure out why he needed my ID. Regrettably, my days of being mistaken as a teen are long gone, so it's been a while since I've been carded anywhere - let alone at a GameStop.

I've had several clerks alert me to the M-rating of a game, but always as a cautionary acknowledgement - no ID required. There have been a few times when I've seen the same warning given to a parent buying an M-rated game for a small child. It astounds me when the parent shrugs and buys a renown violent game for a 10-year-old. To each their own...

So, I remarked that I'd never been asked to verify my age over a video game purchase and asked if there had been a recent change in the law. He said no - the change took place about a year ago! Apparently, my town has equated underage game sales with underage drinking. In other words, a GameStop employee caught selling GTA to a fourteen-year-old could lose his job among other things.

The area's bars and restaurants are wary of underage drinking because the police often send decoys into these establishments to ensure IDs are being checked. I used to object to that sort of sting operation, but seeing the accidents caused by drunks kind of necessitates doing something to keep it in check.

Having said that, I have to do a lot of introspection to see how I feel about a similar categorization for video games. We live in a society where people will get drunk and drive down the highway texting friends from their phone. With that level of stupid in the general populace, I guess there needs to be some accountability. But games seem different.

Custer's Revenge for Atari 2600 The ramifications of a young teen playing a violent video game speaks more to an evolving issue than an immediate one. A drunk driver can easily kill someone as soon as they get behind the wheel. A kid playing an M-rated game isn't susceptible to causing harm in the same manner or likelihood.

The media likes to perpetuate a link between violent video games and actual violence without any proven connection. Reporting on heinous crimes seems to involve mention of the perpetrator's passion for gaming - as if that explains their criminal behavior.

Many have fought hard to advocate for video games and showcase the positive effects of video games. But such arguments entangle many more issues than gaming should have to defend.

I've always viewed the ESRB's ratings guide as just that - a guide. Similar to movies, I know my son can see most PG-13 movies, but I need to be very selective for R-rated flicks. The same is true for video games. I know games and have a pretty good idea of what is appropriate for my son.

Some parents know nothing about games and it may be helpful for them to get a high-level overview of a game's content. That sounds reasonable to me. When a store clerk is fearful an undercover cop might try to bust him for selling a video game to a kid... Well, that's not right. It's a guide. Be a responsible parent. Cops should be arresting murderers, not clerks.

January 12, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The TotalRadNES Goofyfoot NES Controller was just short of it's Kickstarter goal

TotalRadNES Goofyfoot NES Controller
This is an awesome product and it will easily get funded if it relaunches. The holidays are tough on crowd funding projects.
I was sad to see the TotalRadNES Goofyfoot NES Controller fall just short of it's Kickstarter goal. Bringing an innovative idea to market is a tough job even in the age of crowd funding. The holidays are a particularly tough time to get funding. Many folks have allocated money to gifts and all the trappings of the season.

This project must relaunch! While some simply see a backwards controller, others know that placing the D-pad under your right thumb brings gaming to a new level. I'd gladly back it again and hope to have one of these slick controllers in the near future!

Keep and eye on TotalRadNES for details...

TotalRadNES Goofyfoot NES Controller box
January 11, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Every business with a "waiting scenario" should be legally obliged to provide arcade games

No one wants to leave their laundry or have a cold pizza. If you have to wait, you should have arcade games!
Pac-Man Laundry It's tempting to put in an order for a large pizza and run next door to check out the music store. I'll just try out one guitar - just one. Then there's a crazy shaped full-on metal beast on the wall... gotta jam on it. Next thing you know your pizza has been sitting on the counter for 40 minutes and it's desired temperature has long since left. Damn that cool guitar and my inability to just wait for my order!

Or you pop coins into a washer at the laundromat and duck out to kill time only to return to your wet clothes sitting on a table and all the dryers are in use. Which of these degenerates touched my clothes. My skin is crawling already. No touchy. Ick!

You know what would solve both of these tragedies? Arcade games.

Yes, arcade games are the saving grace of free time. Waiting in a restaurant, how about a game of berzerk? Long wait at the dentist's office, lets fire up Defender. If that ancient clothes dryer is taking way too long, a few rounds of Star Castle solves that problem. Arcade games are the solution.

If you own a business, chances are it would benefit from a couple of strategically placed arcade games (preferably of the 80s era). Don't make your customers wait idly, give 'em some Joust and Galaga!
January 11, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Action figure maker NECA announced they acquired the license to BLADE RUNNER 2049

NECA makes great figures - Can't wait to see what they have in store for the upcoming Blade Runner film.
Blade Runner is one of those iconic films I can watch over and over and discover something new each time. In a world of endless spiraling-downhill sequels, It's nice to have a few films in which a reboot takes a new look at a classic.

Toys often accompany film releases, yet seem like cash-grabs. A film like Blade Runner 2049 deserves better, so I was stoked to discover NECA has the license to create figures and collectibles for the new film coming out in October.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 From the NECA press release:
JANUARY 9, 2017 - Leading action figure and collectibles maker NECA announced today that it has acquired the license to BLADE RUNNER 2049, the hotly anticipated sequel to the legendary sci-fi movie. The company plans to release a full range of figures, die cast vehicles, replicas, games and more in 2017. Additional details will be revealed at New York's International Toy Fair in February.

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

The science fiction thriller is directed by Denis Villeneuve (ARRIVAL) and features a star-studded cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, with Dave Bautista and Jared Leto.

Original BLADE RUNNER director Ridley Scott executive produces the dystopian tale based on characters from the novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? by Philip K. Dick. Produced by Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson and Cynthia Yorkin.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 opens in theaters on October 6, 2017. Visit the official Blade Runner 2049 website for more details.
January 11, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Seeing the sale of Craftsman Tools brings memories of playing and buying Atari games at Sears

Super Retro Boy from Retro-Bit
I consider Craftsman one of Sears' stronger brands and am saddened to see them fading away having shopped there most of my life.
Headlines stating Craftsman was being sold to Stanley Black & Decker was quite a shock and for only $900 million. Sure, I could go on an awesome spree with that sort of cash, but it seems like a small amount given the brand and quality associated with Sears' renown tool brand.

Wasn't it just yesterday I was looking through Atari 2600 games in Sears, debating which title looked the most promising? In the early 80s, without the internet's vast resources, box art and word-of-mouth were the primary factors in choosing a new video game.

Super Retro Boy from Retro-Bit However, in my area, Sears was one of the few stores in which you could play a selection of Atari titles! Alas, that was decades ago, but I still shop at Sears for all sorts of things from shirts and tools to Christmas lights.

I have quite a few Sears Tele-Games game carts from the era in which they rebranded Atari as an in-house brand. The Sears Video Arcade was an Atari-sanctioned rebranding of the 2600 game console. These items were found in Sears from the late 70s into the early 80's.

Sears stopped selling video games in late 2014 with the Wii U - oddly timed in the swing of the holiday shopping season. Earlier that year, in late April, rumors of inventory blowouts surfaced with $99 Wii U consoles. In November, the Sears website displayed deep discounts in error for the Nintendo 3DS. Both events led to price-matching fiascos with other retailers.

As a side note: I still own my grandfather's old Black & Decker power drill. It's a beast and still works wonderfully because it came from an era when craftsmanship and quality mattered. Products were built to last. Today, Black & Decker is low quality and resides on box-store shelves. Planned obsolescence is a more modern concept focused on selling poor quality items as a cost-cutting and revenue generating model.

January 10, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Luxtive Arcade System melds 80's retro games with Michelin tires to create the Wheelcade

Luxtive Arcade System - Wheelcade
Yes, it's a beautiful multicade coffee table in a tire, but not just any tire. It's a Michelin Latitude Sport 235/55 R17 99V.
A recent article on Top Arcade Machines highlighted a very cool multicade concept from Spain. The Luxtive Retrogame Arcade System has a familiar foundation.

Luxtive logo The futuristic round table with tinted glass and familiar arcade controls is based on something most of us know well. In fact we typically buy four at a time. Tires! These slick arcade systems are housed in Michelin tires.

Having taken French when opting for a foreign language in school, much of the site is a mystery to my uni-lingual abilities. Those with a better command of the language will likely discern more info about availability and pricing. It's creative and an old tire has more of a sleek look than I would have imagined - very cool!

Luxtive Arcade System - Wheelcade Luxtive Arcade System - Wheelcade features: a JAMMA PCB multiplayer system with 60 Retro games, 2-player arcade kit consisting of 8 classic white buttons and 2 Joysticks for 2,4 and 8-way action.
Luxtive Arcade System - Wheelcade Luxtive Arcade System - Wheelcade

Luxtive Arcade System - Wheelcade From the Luxtive website (via Google Translate):
All the elements of the machine are meticulously integrated to the last detail. The joysticks and game buttons together with the speakers are integrated into the tire representing a surprising shape never seen before.

The image is composed of high resolution LCD screen integrated inside the tire being protected by a subtle dark tone crystal to further reduce the unwanted influence of light.

At the same time the top glass panel provides extra functionality to our machine making it an elegant coffee table or auxiliary to decorate any room or environment.

The two-way loudspeakers are integrated inside the tire taking advantage of the tire's structure as a speaker and are powered by a high-power amplifier and precision.

The lower panel of the machine is composed of 4 small wheels that facilitate the sliding or transfer. As a finishing touch, the chrome-plated console base gives the tire a subtle expression and floating feel.
January 10, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Capcom's MegaMan Mobile games now come in a $10 bundle of suck

These games were derided at $1.99 each, so I'm guessing a discounted bundle does little to better the game play.
Many issues have plagued the MegaMan Mobile games. They originally launched individually for $1.99 each and now are bundled (six games) for $9.99.

From poor controls to changing frame rates, folks are predominantly warning retro gaming fans of this series and suggesting they avoid it and pick up the Legacy collection for 3DS or PS4. I have both console releases and they're a lot of fun - as retro games should be :)

There's no excuse for releasing a beloved series of games when the game-play is so tarnished. I wish they had taken the time to properly bring these games to mobile. The MegaMan Mobile games fuel the fire regarding mobile releases of

MegaMan Mobile Bundle
January 10, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Cozi TV brings back Gage & DeSoto with 1972's medical drama, Emergency!

I was riveted to the screen when Emergency! came on the tube in the afternoons.
Before Ponch and Jon took on the California highways, I was a huge fan of John Roderick and Roy DeSoto who were paramedic firefighters saving lives and bringing people Rampart General Hospital.

Emergency! TV show I'm really psyched to see some of these episodes again. They are available on DVD, but I've never seen syndicated reruns. Emergency! ran from January 15, 1972 until May 28, 1977 with a few 2-hour movie specials as well.

I had the Emergency! board game, but it must have been disposed of at some point. I still have many of my childhood board games - wish I stil had that one. It was a fun game of racing to the scene of an accident.

From the Cozi website:
This beloved show stars Randolph Mantooth, Kevin Tighe as two specially trained firefighters, who formed Squad 51, part of an innovative field of paramedics. They're authorized to provide initial emergency medical care to victims of accidents, fires and other incidents in the field in order to stabilize them for transport to Rampart General Hospital. That's where the medical staff (Robert Fuller, Julie London and Bobby Troup) take over. Be a part of Squad 51 weekdays at 1PM/12C.
January 9, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

CES 2017 was very receptive to the Super Retro Boy, but some are berating the front-facing "shoulder buttons"

Super Retro Boy from Retro-Bit
The Super Retro Boy's compatibility with GameBoy, GameBoy Color, and GameBoy Advance trumps the placement of GBA shoulder buttons.
Retro-Bit showed off their handheld console at CES 2017 and most were delighted by it's GameBoy look and feel. Furthermore, it plays game carts from three Nintendo portables. That in itself excites me greatly for this portable console and it's August launch window. It sounds like it will be around the $80 price point and will be powered by a rechargeable battery.

The Super Retro Boy has a backlit display and will come with a 10-in-1 game cartridge. The company says you can play for 10 hours on a single charge.

I love it's reminiscent look and compatibility with later Nintendo games. I loved the GameBoy Advance and bought one on launch day in 2001 - therefore it was the original flat design. I had skipped the GBC, so the color screen was of particular interest back in those days. Additionally, it had shoulder buttons which would expand game control. All these things made the GBA my favorite Nintendo handheld until the 2DS came out.

My love for the GBA was so strong, that I bought a DS lite - at the tale end of it's cycle - because it still retained GBA compatibility via an additional cart slot.

Super Retro Boy from Retro-Bit In reading some online comments, it seemed a larger than expected number of people don't like the button layout with regards to the shoulder button placement - not on the shoulder. The original GameBoy had an A & B button, but you'll see 4 buttons on the Super Retro Boy. the two additions are L & R, which are the GBA shoulder buttons. Placed on the face in a 4-button cluster may not be ideal, but folks seem displeased.

A Word Of Caution

While internet users are fairly reactionary toward anything they don't like, there are 2 things worth noting. The Super Retro Boy shown at CES was a prototype - the "shoulder" buttons could be moved to the sides by the time it launches. The other facet is the Generations console that launched late last year. It was an interesting mixture of built-in arcade and console games similar to the NESClassic Edition. However, it was not well received and the final product seemed rushed.

I'm hoping the Super Retro Boy will be a solid robust console. Hearing of the issues with Generations that should have been caught in early stage QA leaves me skeptical. Ordinarily, I'd pre-order the Super Retro Boy in an instant, but I'm going to have to wait and see how it fares in the hands of the savage internet who won't hold back about every detail they hate.

Of course I'm hoping it is adored and well breathe new life into a series of handhelds largely ignored by such emulation systems.
January 9, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Take a seat and enjoy the simple beauty of the NES Classic Edition... and Ariel Rebel

There's no way to pacify those still unable to obtain an NES Classic Edition, but maybe Ariel will take your mind elsewhere.
NES Classic Edition The "steady delivery" during the holiday season was a joke. Stores were restocked only a few times before Christmas. Those new deliveries were the same paltry quantity as those we saw on launch day - stores getting 15 or fewer units each. Most had far fewer.

Even in the weeks following Christmas, I've only heard of one restocking of Nintendo's mini console. Nintendo is renown for under-delivery, but this is abnormal even for Nintendo! Skeptics have suggested they are purposely doing this to keep a buzz in the air. They say "all publicity is good publicity." Is this true when so many are angry about the product?

The Switch must launch with a deluge of awesome games and plenty of inventory.
I'm beginning to wonder if we'll ever see this product on a retail shelf. By this I mean Nintendo has satisfied the masses and an NES Classic Edition will last long enough to be placed on a shelf. So far, they have flown out the door as soon as stores open.

And what does this say about the Switch? It's launch is only a few months away and the mini console debacle doesn't leave much faith in it's availability at launch. To make matters worse, a GameStop insider hinted that their stores will not be getting enough consoles to meet demand. Labeled as "rumor" in an era of fake news, it's hard to know what will happen in March.

Ideally, the NES Classic Edition should have been plentiful enough to get a large amount of positive energy behind the Nintendo name. This would be a great help in generation 8 where gamers have been led to believe that gaming is all about the primary processing chip. Nintendo knows better - gaming is about having fun and they always deliver - when they have sufficient inventory.

I don't want Nintendo to have to prove anything or overcome the faults of the Wii U. I want them to come roaring out of the gate with a great console backed by awesome games with more on the way. The Switch has to be a must-have both in terms of launch titles and price. Consumers shouldn't start the launch plagued with doubts about waiting on long lines to be disappointed.

Ariel Rebel Are you familiar with Ariel Rebel? If not, let me say she's awesome, a foodie, photographer, and frequently naked. She blends her daily life into wonderful social media posts across multiple accounts, each with unique a focus. Whether in front of the camera or behind it, she graces her kitchen the same way she lights up a secluded photo shoot surrounded by the great outdoors.

She has a flare all her own and it shows in every photo. Check out her free site, Rebel Mayhem and consider a subscription to her more revealing website.
January 8, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The best way to get an NES Classic Edition may be taking down an Amazon delivery drone :)

With Nintendo still unable to meet demand for the NES mini console, your best bet may be taking aim at the skies with a slingshot.
On December 7, Amazon completed it's first package delivery by drone. It was a light weight item traveling a fairly short distance, but it happened without human interaction. That's pretty impressive, but at the rate Amazon ships, we wonder how crowded the skies might get and what's the likelihood of scoring something cool via slingshot.

So, If you've been unable to get an NES Classic Edition, look upward. There might be one flying overhead. OK, we're not advocating abuse of passing drones, but you have to wonder how vulnerable they might be and, well... people do the strangest things.

We hope Nintendo can step up the manufacturing of these units and learn from this mistake when the Switch launches in March. A repeat drought of inventory could be devastating for the upcoming console.

NES Classic Edition on an Amazon delivery drone You can find out a bit more about Amazon Prime Air drone deliveries on their site. I wouldn't expect this service to be widespread any time soon. If you've ever had to look in the bushes for the morning newspaper, you may have some reservations. Imagine getting a delivery confirmation on your phone and arrive home after dark to "find" your package. How much wandering around with a flashlight might this entail?

Delivery-wise, a UPS truck can load up and deliver across a route, but a drone has limited range and capacity. How many drone trips would it take to keep up with a UPS truck? I'm sure Amazon has the tech and logistics dialed in. At the same time, I'm not sure I want a drone leaving a few Wii U games in the middle of my yard. In time we can adjust to anything, but right now, it seems improbable. We shall see.
January 8, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

FuncoLand stores were once full of Atari, Nintendo & Sega games

Funcoland's stores were full of Atari, Nintendo & Sega games
As gaming shifted into higher-capacity disc media, I was drawn to FuncoLand's commitment to game cartridge sales.
Seeing this image of FuncoLand's game boxes brought back memories of many visits to the one near my house, If you look around online you'll find plenty of complaints about their sales process, but where else could you go and browse through 2600, NES, and Genesis games? FuncoLand and similar stores played a vital role in broadening the reach of video games.

Bring Home the Fun!
Long ago when I was a kid, I bought Atari 2600 games in all kinds of crazy places from TV stores to pharmacies. My original VCS was purchased from an appliance retailer. They had to get a long ladder and climb up to the overhead shelves to retrieve the box that would change my young life. My Mom and I stood amidst washers, driers, dishwashers, and refrigerators waiting for the rep to bring down a box... and a copy of Space Invaders!

When video game stores began to pop up, they brought competition which helped level out prices and offered more variety. In my area from the early 80s and beyond, there were Electronic Boutiques, Babbages, Software Etcs, and FuncoLands.

When these places dried up, GameStop moved in. At the time I had no idea who GameStop was nor that they had bought out all of my favorite stores. All I knew was gaming selection was dwindling and the NES and 2600 carts I used to buy disappeared from retail shelves. From my youthful perspective, GameStop was the enemy. They drove away the variety of stores I loved. Dark times indeed.

Funcoland game storage boxes As you can see below, all the places I once loved to shop for video games were swallowed up by GameStop through mergers and acquisitions. Seeing these stores vanish was a great loss to the gaming community in terms of the variety of products they once offered. The worst loss for me was FuncoLand as they were the only one selling older games, like Atari 2600 carts.

From Funding Universe:
  • 1983: James B. McCurry and Gary M. Kusin found Babbage's, Inc., opening the first Babbage's software store in a Dallas regional mall.
  • 1984: B. Dalton Bookseller Inc. creates a division called Software Etc. to open software stores within B. Dalton bookstores.
  • 1986: Dayton Hudson Corporation sells B. Dalton to Barnes & Noble, Inc. (B&N) and partners.
  • 1987: Software Etc. is split off from B. Dalton, begins operating as Software Etc. Stores, Inc., and starts shift to standalone locations.
  • 1988: Babbage's is taken public to accelerate an expansion drive.
  • 1992: Software Etc. Stores is taken public.
  • 1994: Babbage's merges with Software Etc., forming NeoStar Retail Group, Inc.
  • 1996: NeoStar files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; an investor group led by Leonard Riggio buys the Babbage's and Software Etc. chains, operating them within the newly formed Babbage's Etc. LLC.
  • 1999: New strip-mall-based chain, GameStop, is launched; e-commerce web site, later called, begins operations; Babbage's Etc. is sold to Barnes & Noble for $215 million.
  • 2000: B&N acquires Funco, Inc., operator of 400 FuncoLand video game stores, mainly in strip malls; Babbage's Etc. becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Funco, which changes its name to GameStop, Inc.
  • 2001: GameStop Corp. is incorporated in anticipation of an initial public offering (IPO).
  • 2002: B&N completes a partial IPO of GameStop stock; it retains a 67 percent stake in GameStop.
  • 2004: B&N distributes its remaining stake in GameStop to B&N shareholders, making GameStop a fully independent corporation.
  • 2005: Shareholders from EB Games (Electronics Boutique) and GameStop agreed to a $1.44 billion takeover deal.
Time changes everything and that can be a harsh reality when I think back on all the opportunities I neglected. I can recall many sales on old games as new consoles came to market. At the time I couldn't fathom any of this going away. Yet it did. But I did learn form those days and make it a point to pick up games as often as I can and take advantage of shifts in the marketplace. The video game industry is ever evolving and always taking us in new directions, leaving great deals on yesterday's greatness. Tomorrow may hold great innovation, but yesterday was full of good times!

It may seem small, but still works... although it resolves to GameStop. :)
January 7, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Forget this Blizzard nonsense... Mrs. Smith & I are baking a pie and playing retro games

I never get the proper supplies when it comes to riding out a bad storm. This time I went with apple pie and retro games.
Some folks have a pantry full of canned goods and take pride in being self sufficient in times of need. With blizzard conditions across much of the East coast, I felt that pie and Megaman was the best way to survive whatever Mother Nature has in mind.

You might laugh at my preparedness, but while you're putting more gas in the generator and opening a can of beans, I'm living like it's 1987... with pie!

apple pie and retro games
January 7, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Add ROMs to the NES Classic Edition over USB with recent system hack

Hacked NES Classic Edition
A recent hack seems to allow adding more games to the NES Mini console without opening the case or soldering.
Hackers in both Japan and Russia have devised ways to add additional games to Nintendo's impossible-to-buy NES Classic Edition mini console. The method is gaining traction due to it's non-invasive soft-mod. You don't need to open the case or solder anything. You can even use the included USB cable to connect it to your PC.

I've usually been hesitant to mod any of my systems due to the soldering component. That's not my primary skill and there always seems to be some step that isn't quite clear... and I stop. I can't complain. I adore my systems and view mods from a standpoint of technical innovation. There are some truly talented folks out there with a knack for seeing things in a different way.

Basic Background Info

Each game, on the NES Classic Edition, has an associated image file that must be added in addition to the ROM files. These images identify each game in the on-screen selection menu. It's being reported the NES Classic Edition has a total of 512MB for the images and ROMs. Folks are beginning to post the games they have successfully added. I have not yet seen any posts about incompatible games. At this time it's hard to know if any NES ROM can be added.

NES Classic Edition As time passes, it will be interesting to see if hacks delve deeper into actual hardware mods inside the box. It's hard to imagine curiosity not taking that path. Apparently the internal emulator is quite robust and hackers might be inclined to further probe it. At the same time, if Nintendo ever releases the NES Classic Edition in proper quantities for retailers, they may make changes to thwart the mods discussed here.

A word of caution: while this hack may seem simple due to not requiring any soldering inside the NES Classic Edition, you can still damage the unit! During this modification, you will be making changes to the unit's files to facilitate the addition of more games. It's not simply "adding games". You need to change settings that you may not be able to recover from if done incorrectly or something goes wrong.

Some folks are reporting viruses tagging along when they try ti install the applications and files needed to alter the NES Mini console. This is not a point-and-click solution that does all the work for you. If you're not familiar with modding software, you may want to enlist some qualified help. I've seen some folks asking how to connect the console to a PC and others asking it the mod is an automated process. They should not be attempting this mod.

Since this device is very difficult to purchase at standard retail pricing, be careful if you choose to add more games via the hack. Details of the hack have been posted online. Good luck if you choose to add more files!
January 7, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Define “new product” when your Christmas video game console takes a pornographic turn

Squid Sisters
No child should "accidentally" receive porn for Christmas, but this event brings up questions about the reliability of of "new" products.
I recently read a few articles about a kid receiving a Wii U and a copy of Splatoon for Christmas, only to find the game case contained an adult film DVD (Sensual Seductions 2 NSFW) rather than the game disc. I'm sure the parents were horrified and want an explanation from the box-store that sold it to them. They're not likely to get any satisfaction from the store who will become part of a long chain of denial back to the distributor.

In all likelihood, some random idiot with a misguided sense of humor replaced the game disc, shrink wrapped the case and put it on the retailer's shelf. I'm sure this idiot will snicker at their prank and continue to regress in social development.

What I found interesting were the comments beneath the article, focused on various experiences with alleged "new" products that clearly were not. I was not surprised to see GameStop's name appear. Several people complained that the game retailer frequently has opened product on shelves while claiming it as new inventory. I experience this regularly!

Opened Products are NOT New

My local GameStop used to have 5-year-old Wii game cases sitting on the shelves - marked as New. Clearly an old game in an open package would not be deemed "new" by any other retailer, but GameStop seems to get away with this practice. Once a game has been opened, you have no way of knowing if it's complete or missing components. Was there a manual? Other offers? Stickers? A poster? The average consumer won't know. But everyone agrees this condition is NOT NEW and should not command the higher pricing.

Retailers don't care if they sell opened product as new. Consumers must inspect their own purchases!
The only way to truly get a "new" (unopened) game from GameStop is to buy it on the release date when they have stacks of shrink wrapped copies behind the counter. After selling through those, they open the cases, for shelf display, and put the game discs into sleeves, filed among the other games. This is the same treatment for their used games and I'm stunned that they can get away with this!

I rarely buy new video games at GameStop. The cases are always open and who knows what condition the disc is in. Most of their used games are heavily scratched, which probably happens prior to being traded in at the store, but the fact they are content to sell damaged games to consumers doesn't inspire me to pay full retail prices for opened merchandise.

Given the condition of their used games, I also don't buy used hardware (consoles, tablets, etc.) from GameStop since they have such a poor precedent for the condition of used items.

GameStop's Anti Theft Strategy

Games sitting on GameStop's retail shelves do not contain media. All the cases are empty and the actual games sit behind the counter. Their stores do not have the traditional detectors at their entrances. With the actual merchandise behind the counter and sequestered in the storage area, there's not much to steal, thus no detectors at the entrance.

They also don't require the hardware to deactivate the RF tags. Have you ever gone into another store with a used game from GameStop and set off their alarm? I've done this many times. With the inclusion of Think Geek items strewn around the retail floor, I'm wondering how much longer they can go without anti-theft measures.

For now, they seem to be saving money that would ordinarily go toward anti-theft hardware, it's maintenance, and the system's overhead. I'd rather see them cut fewer obvious corners and stop selling used merch at full retail value!

Always Inspect Your Purchases

Next time you are making a purchase - at any store - inspect the packaging to ensure it hasn't been returned and simply put back on the retailer's shelf. You'd be surprised how easy return processes are on items that have spent weeks in someone's house, used, abused, repackaged, and then sold to you. Buyer beware.

While we feel the kid who got stuck with Christmas porn instead of Splatoon, it would have been a non-issue if the Wii U was able to play DVDs ;)
January 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

The dream of taking the arcade home with you... The Neo·Geo Anthology in print

A unique work of reference with over 400-plus pages retracing SNK's incredible history from their first arcade machines to every single game ever released.
NEO·GEO ANTHOLOGY This SNK and NEO GEO reference book is coming to life via the Neo·Geo Anthology kickstarter campaign via Geeks-Line Publishing. It features every AES, MVS, CD, Hyper N.Geo and Pocket game cataloged, the history behind SNK and the Neo·Geo.

NEO·GEO ANTHOLOGIE - french version of the book This looks like a very cool and robust project. The NEO GEO is so unknown to a lot of gamers. I never owned one, but always regarded it on a higher level than consoles of it's era.

Commanding a hefty price tag for the console and it's games, it was the home console that didn't have arcade ports like other systems. It ran the same games you played at the arcade - at home! No other console could make that claim despite the high volume of arcade ports to home game consoles.

Several times, the kickstarter campaign states the Neo·Geo Anthology is a reference tome. I love that! Every book that lays out the history of video games, as a reference tool, helps preserve the history of that segment it covers.

This book is an adaptation of the "Neo·Geo Anthologie" already published in France. It has been reworked and rewritten in order to meet the specific requirements of the American and British markets. This may account for Amazon handling some of the global shipping needs.

Across the retro gaming spectrum we're seeing wider topics being covered in reference-style books. Although many may say print is outdated and fading (it's not), it's a great way to chronicle information in a familiar and useful format.

We encourage you to check out the Neo·Geo Anthology kickstarter and see if this is the kind of project you'd like to support. It looks like a great book and has the advantage of having already been published in French, making it's execution much easier and less likely to encounter problems that plague some crowd funded projects. Give it a look!

NEO·GEO ANTHOLOGY Never having owned the NEO GEO console, I was excited when the Neo Geo X was released. It quickly lost support of the manufacturer, but it was quite faithful - as a handheld - to the original AES console.
January 6, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Skee Ball may not be the highlight of your local arcade, but it has it's merits

I love video games and pinball, but no arcade is complete without Skee Ball and air hockey
Skee Ball Conceived in the early 1900s, Skee Ball is a bowling-like game that became one of the first redemption games. While not the center-piece of any arcade, most of the good ones have a few of these. I'm sure I'm not the only one who digs this game! :)

My son and I always fire up a side-by-side Skee Ball challenge at our local arcade. Long ago I played Space Invaders at my local bowling alley. Could this have translated into a Skee Ball craving? It could explain my interest in the Arcade Bowling Game I found at a local theater a few years ago.

For me, my Skee Ball passion is right up there with Air Hockey. Like the need to flip balls into that tiny 1,000 point hoop, I also can't pass up a game of air hockey. Ice makes a nice 3-lane Skee Ball game and one of our local arcades has it. They also make Super Chexx bubble hockey.

I really love arcades. The experience is just as much fun as the variety of games. I find a great connection to my love of various games and the way I encountered them in the arcades I frequented growing up.
January 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

After MegaMan Legacy Collection arrived for 3DS and PS4, $2 Megaman Mobile is not faring well

MegaMan Mobile
The Megaman games released for mobile platforms are getting mixed reviews - many are not happy.
I picked up the MegaMan Legacy Collection for 3DS last February (my local GameStop had the originals for play on an NES!) and loved it. My only complaint came from having played many of the games on my NES, I really wanted to see this version on a big TV, not just the handheld screen. The PS4 version resolved that issue and I really enjoyed playing the various titles again. I'd forgotten how hard they were! Good fun!

MegaMan Mobile I'm slowly coming around to mobile games, but not to the point where I'm going to shell out money for them. Having the MegaMan Legacy for console and portable, I don't need a phone version...which apparently is a good thing. As Polygon reported (incorporating the word "terrible" in the headline), folks are not pleased with finger-swiping their way through these games.

Unlike the Legacy released, on mobile, Capcom decided to sell each game individually for $1.99 each. Many are complaining about the frame-rate and control scheme. I've not tried the games, but it sounds like they were ported with little regard for the logistics of mobile phones. It should have been possible to publish awesome (and playable) mobile versions of the MegaMan franchise if they were designed for phones and that type of control scheme.

From Capcom:
These lovingly-crafted adaptations will remind long-time fans and introduce newcomers to what made the Blue Bomber such a popular and iconic character. Each game has been optimized for the mobile devices with adjustments to game speed.

  • Mega Man Mobile - The evil Dr. Wily must be stopped in this classic action platformer, the original Mega Man!
  • Mega Man 2 Mobile- Dr. Wily resurfaces to threaten the world again! Only Mega Man can stand in his way.
  • Mega Man 3 Mobile - Fight berserk robots on uncharted planets. Mega Man must set a course for space to resolve this mysterious crisis.
  • Mega Man 4 Mobile - A year has passed since Mega Man's battle in space. A new enemy appears - Dr. Cossack.
  • Mega Man 5 Mobile - Manic robots cause chaos in the city. How is Proto Man involved? Only Mega Man can find out!
  • Mega Man 6 Mobile - The Global Robot Alliance is formed, but this newfound peace is threatened by a new foe - the enigmatic Mr. X!
I'm seeing a lot of online hate for mobile games in general, but that's true for any release - nothing new there unfortunately. It seems strange the MegaMan Mobile games would be so disappointing after the awesome console releases. Who knows? But buyer beware! If you're inclined to try them out, do some research first and watch a few videos to better judge them for yourself.

January 5, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Investor predictions for Super Mario Run seem rash when the Android version has yet to launch

Investors make odd statementsand predictions regarding Super Mario Run
It's harder to compare apples and oranges when no one has seen an orange. Predictions made days after launch prior to the Android release.
While I can see some interesting info in the statistics released around Super Mario Run's fiscal performance, I don't understand why investors want to react so quickly when the Android version has not launched. All the data they have is for iOS players. It seems to me that this makes the numbers even more impressive, despite the ratio of players to payers.

Chill out! The app was just released and Android data is unaccounted for.
After 90 million downloads, it seems investors hoped more conversions would occur even though the 3% rate is higher than many other popular mobile games. At $10 I think the game is doing wonderfully. I think $5 would have been a better price point in a marketplace dominated by Free-To-Play games. I wonder if they are simply assuming the Android community will purchase at the same ratio.

I'm also curious to know how they are making so many predictions based on other games release data without stipulating if these comparisons are also iOS-only releases - or for both platforms.

The second thing I learned when studying economics and statistics is: you can make any assumption you want regardless what the numbers show. Numbers alone don't correlate directly to reasoning, thus can be used to "validate" any BS you want to embellish.

The first thing my Stats Professor told us was the cornerstone to economics is TANSTAAFL.

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
January 4, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

My local GameStop (in the US) has a marketing poster in the window for Nintendo's Switch

Nintendo Switch marketing poster at US GameStop
I've seen pictures of the Nintendo Switch marketing posters on social media for other territories, now my local GameStop has it up.
I'm getting excited to hear from Nintendo on January 12 as I continue to ignore all the unfounded Switch rumors. It's sounding more and more exciting simply from the uniqueness of the console and it's ability to play the same titles at home and on the go. I've loved my 2DS and won't abandon it, but this new way to play has my interest.

For me, it's nintendo's commitment to altering the status quo that makes them an exciting company. No one thought the Wiimote was a good idea, until it changed the way we could control a game. Next Sony and Microsoft were stumbling to replicate it (poorly). So, I'm getting a similar vibe about the Switch and the way it will alter my play time by letting me take my games on the road. Can't wait for more info from Nintendo. The rumors are largely ridiculous and spreading click-bait across the web.

Happy to wait for real info.
January 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

I've read Archie Comics since I was a kid and hope the CW TV drama is good

Archie is coming to the CW in Riverdale
The Riverdale Gang has gone through a lot of changes and now we'll see how they fare as a TV drama.
Archie is coming to the CW in Riverdale Welcome to a town where everything is perfect, but nothing is as it seems. Riverdale premieres January 26 on The CW!

This looks like a crazy-dark version of Archie. Some of the latest magazine-style comics took on darker topics. This should be interesting if nothing else, but I hope it has enough tie-ins with the comics since the trailer looks pretty dark.

I guess the zany days of sharing milkshakes at Pop's have come to a close. But with Mädchen Amick as Bettie's mom and Molly Ringwald & Luke Perry as Archie's parents... it's gotta be good, right?
January 3, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

It took me 11 months to find a GameStop employee who could resolve my Game Informer problem

I still want to punch the kid who switched me to the digital magazine! Print rules!
Last February, while making a purchase at GameStop, when the clerk said my Game Informer subscription was expiring soon. I agreed to have it renewed and upon looking at my receipt - in the store - I asked why he had switched me to the digital version. I've always received the print mag. He said the stores could only renew for the digital version and I had to call the 800 phone line to switch it back. He was lying - about everything.

My hate for GameStop rose quickly... and brewed for nearly a year. There are plenty of reasons to hate this company, but I don't like lazy employees who take the easy way out by lying.

My passion for "print" isn't about being retro. Digital mags suck!
I asked EVERY GameStop employee I"ve encountered in the last 11 months how to resolve this issue. They ALL referred me to the 800 number. Yeah, I tried that many times. Never reached a human. Sometimes it rings forever. Sometimes it picks up and the line seems dead - no menu or human. I gave up and went back to questioning GameStop employees about changing it. It became a joke. Some were sympathetic, others just repeated the lie about "nothing can be done."

A few days ago, I was again asked if I wanted to renew my Game Informer subscription. This was the moment I realized it has been nearly a year of not enjoying the mag - which I do like a lot. I emphatically said, "NO." She asked why, so I gave her the abbreviated version of my plight, stating I wanted it to expire so I could start anew - with PRINT.

She says she can change it for me. What? Tell me more. Via the same computer all of GameStop employees use, she made the change. She even gave me the latest print version! This is one of the few times I was absolutely delighted with GameStop. I've missed reading GI.

Game Informer I tried to give the digital magazine a try. It's such a poor substitute for a print mag. I won't say "print" is without issues, but why do digital versions of print pubs not resolve any of the issues, nor offer any advancements of improvements? I did not like the digital version of Game Informer.
January 2, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Moving on from The Matrix, CNN uses game footage from Fallout as a backdrop to a hacking story

CNN uses Fallout game footage
In a world laden with stock photos and generic video, it seems odd to use content from a copyrighted game.
Did CNN not realize the backdrop to their Russian hacking story was from Bethesda's video game, Fallout? Or are they so lazy they simply grabbed some "computer footage" and dropped it in?

A Reddit user saw the Pip Boy similarity and the debate has rolled on encouraging CNN in this new direction and cease using footage from The Matrix for "computer" stories. One can only wonder if Fallout will be the new Matrix for conveying "complicated stuff".

Simulation from The Matrix The sad truth is - none of this matters. News has ceased being an informative enterprise with actual journalism. It's simply bait to garner advertising revenue. Coverage of Foreign Affairs has sunk to new lows as metrics indicate viewers don't care.

Folks are content to sit at home and watch stories about potatoes that look like Jesus while "reacting" to things appearing in their Facebook timeline. Complacency is the norm these days. Apathy is a way of life for some people.

Technology is getting smarter while, as a population, we delight in becoming dumber. As time marches forward, the likelihood we'll be wiped out by an army of robots seems more likely... or maybe we'll just all be run over by Elon's smart cars. Either way there's going to be a Cyberdyne logo on our demise.
January 1, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Article:

Ariana Grande's guest appearance in Square Enix's Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius speaks to the uncertainty in mobile

Ariana Grande meeting with execs
Introducing a character associated with Grande's celebrity may open new revenue streams enabling enhancement of the renown IP across it's other platforms.
And the Internet reacts as one would expect... Detractors are filling message boards with their varied opinions of Grande as a person, actress, singer, and human. That would be significant if anyone cared. Aside from her star-power, I'm not sure how Grande got on Square's radar, but she could easily have a dramatic PR benefit.

Entertainment outlets are jumping on this story as if Grande is branching out into video games. Some gaming fans are reacting as though the woman herself was being inserted into Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. It's a character, based on Grande's likeness from her Dangerous Woman album cover.

I highly doubt you'll encounter an in-game Citibank arena headlining a world tour with magical creatures out front scalping tickets and selling swag. You can also rule out any impromptu a cappella numbers - it's a video game with a long respected history.

By the way, Square Enix is a video game company and large parts of managing & growing any business involve day-to-day decisions based on changes in the marketplace. A franchise that began in the NES era has to adapt over time in a number of ways - both direct and indirect to the actual games themselves.

Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius

The game was first released in Japan in the Fall of 2015 and worldwide in June of the following year. It's available for both iOS and Android devices.

Ariana Grande playing Dance Dance Revolution If you follow mobile gaming news, you may have read stories about it's success. Some AAA games have done very well as have some shot-in-the-dark indie games that came out of left field, but there is little consistency or trending to these successes. Articles about mobile gaming these days often reveal the frustration of predicting what truly makes a successful game! Developers can't point to a sure-thing with any guarantee of success.If you've played any of the mobile versions of Final Fantasy, take a moment to look at Flappy Bird and see the disparity in success.

Benefits of Final Fantasy With Ariana Grande

Whether you like Ariana Grande or not, she has a huge fan-base that may skew outside your traditional gamer profile. Integrating her likeness as a Final Fantasy character could broaden the appeal of the game and bring in a whole new group of players. That translates into money. Her massive online following alone could tip the scales in favor of Square Enix's presence. Grande's mention of the company and game on Instagram and Twitter is tremendously valuable.

As I read the toxic online comments about her character's inclusion, I'm reminded why people suck. The hate aimed at Grande and Square shows a phenomenal lack of knowledge about business and the human condition. Grande's inclusion in FFBE may well enable the series to generate new revenue streams via mobile that enhance the IP across all platforms. Wake up folks - the world doesn't revolve around you, Ariana Grande is quite talented, and video games are fun! STFU and play :)
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