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

8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Fourth Quarter 2015 - October, November, December

We strive to create quality, original retro gaming content and often look for connections between our favorite games of yesteryear and modern gaming. Retro gaming is as vibrant as ever, even in today's era of video games! Check out the retro gaming things we've discovered in 2015!

December 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

December 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sorry to hear of Meadowlark Lemon's passing- I have fond memories watching the Harlem Globetrotters as a kid

RIP Meadowlark Lemon. The Harlem Globetrotters have a long history with many strong connections to pop culture in games and movies.
Harlem Glo9betrotters World Tour video game I loved watching the Harlem Globetrotters on TV as a kid. I don't recall the type of show they were on, but it seems to me I saw them quite frequently. I vividly remember both Meadowlark Lemon and Curly.

I was a short kid with no interest in basketball, but the Globetrotters mesmerized me. Having seen a few basketball games on TV, I didn't understand why the NBA teams played in such a boring manner. The Globetrotters were a special group both in athleticism and showmanship.

The recent passing of Meadowlark Lemon marks the end of an era for me. I loved those guys! Their stardom even landed them in video games.

The Harlem Globetrotters began in the late 1920s in Chicago and took off from there. In 1991 they appeared in their own NES video game. As recently as 2007, they were set into another video game - this time for the Nintendo DS handheld. I proudly own a copy of that cartridge.
December 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Merry Christmas from 8-Bit Central... and Twisted Sister

We had a great day of holiday music and video games - old & new!
We spent part of our Christmas morning with Twisted Sister and some retro gaming. We soon went to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Splatoon!

Merry Murray Miley
December 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Merry Murray Miley from an unlikely Christmas TV special

The six degrees of Kevin Bacon rings true for Miley defender, Bill Murray who brings our favorite crass-lass to Christmas Town via Netflix.
Bill Murray is a beloved actor and all-around cool guy. From stories of the awesomeness he's bestowed upon couples during various weddings he's crashed to his noble opinions he won't waver from, we dig Bill! As strange as we found his "Miley Cyrus" autograph on a fan's forehead, we began to see his defense of her as another feather in his cap.

Former Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus, like many child-stars has a tough time convincing fans that the TV character isn't real. Disney fanatics wanted to believe the everyday pop star she portrayed would become a reality as she shed that role for a real music career. Alas, Hannah "left the building" as a topless Cyrus brought her own stage show to the masses. It seems like a lot of folks look down on her as if she was obligated to become Hannah Montana - nude or otherwise.

Unlikely defender, Bill Murray has been praising her vocal talents and even had heron A Very Murray Christmas. We applaud Bill for being awesome and encourage others to find the GOOD in all situations or STFU!

Merry Murray Miley
Merry Murray Miley

Happy Holidays from all of us at 8-Bit Central!
December 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The record-breaking Star Wars attendance stats were not on par with the desolation at my local multiplex

When tickets for The Force Awakens were being bought up weeks before the film's release, I was a bit nervous.
No spoilers.

I vividly remember the theater in the mall at which I saw Star Wars back in 1977. This was a time when the film was actually referred to as "Star Wars". I also remember the Summer after Return of the Jedi released and how infatuated I was with a comic book version of the film's story. I wish I still had that comic!

One of my co-workers had bought tickets a few weeks ago for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I've never bought tickets online. I always show up 30 minutes early and hope for the best. Stories began circulating about theaters being "sold out for days" with the upcoming release of The Force Awakens.

My son was arriving the same day for the start of our Christmas vacation and we both wanted to see the new Star Wars film. I had been avoiding Star Wars trailers and hadn't read or seen anything about the story, process, or anything. The day after the film's release we went to the local multiplex hoping for the best.

Star Wars The Force Awakens We arrived to the theater around 11:30 Saturday morning. As we parked the car I looked around to see if there was a line winding around the building yet. it was fairly warm for late December, but I didn't want to get stuck in an epic line only to discover the tickets had sold out.

At the very least I expected to see a few geeks engaged in mock light saber battles. But there was none of that. No battles. No patrons. No indication that the theater was even open for business. I was certain they had a 9am showing before we even arrived. As Ted would have said, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K."

Star Wars The Force Awakens Inside the 12-theater facility (with arcade) there were no signs of life. I looked at the marquee above the ticket window and saw it was almost completely Star Wars. Between the regular and 3D versions, A Force Awakens was playing in nearly every theater from dawn to midnight. So, where were all the people?

We approached the ticket window and asked for tickets to the next available showing. I was certain the first few would be sold out. She didn't understand my question, so I asked if there were any tickets available for the Noon showing. She said sure and sold us 2 tickets for the 3D version. My son and I were going to see Star Wars together! We dashed into the theater to ensure we got good seats. The reality of this outing was slowly sinking in. We were the only ones there.

30 minutes before the noon show time, we were the only people in the theater. By the time the film started, there were perhaps a dozen attendees. I was stunned. All the articles forecasted sold-out scenarios for the first 2 weeks. Everyone spoke of Star Wars as the only event in town... despite being a week away from Christmas. Again I wondered where all the people were. This is Star Wars, dammit!

My son and I had a great time and thought it was a phenomenal movie!

Star Wars The Force Awakens Porn star Ariel Rebel weighs in on Star Wars: The Force Awakens
December 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Holiday Hiatus - Time for Christmas vacation

I'm taking time off to play with Player 2 during his Christmas break!
We hope you all have some time to get away from the busy schedule that dictate so many of our lives and rack up a few "extra lives" playing your favorite games. Enjoy the holiday season!

Nakatomi Plaza
December 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The cartridge-based Retro VGS console is back with Coleco branding - now called the Chameleon

After terminating their first attempt at crowd funding, the Jaguar-molded console returns with a Coleco connection.
Coleco Chameleon I was super stoked when the Retro VGS was announced earlier this year. It was to be an affordable cartridge-based game console designed to bring the gaming experience of the 80s into modern times. The games would be new creations with a retro vibe. It would bring back the era of finalized games distributed on cartridges for a game console with no internet connection.

It sounded great until they doubled the console's price, tried to crowd-fund $2 million, and had no working prototype. I'm a believer and I wanted this system so badly, but without proof-of-concept I walked away. Seeking $2 million without knowing if this console was possible led many to doubt their business savvy as evidenced by their Indiegogo campaign surging backward toward zero dollars. Backers stopped backing.

The Coleco Chameleon

Images of the Retro VGS console with the Coleco name on it suddenly appeared on the Retro VGS website and spread across social media. Those of us who followed the first crowd funding effort discovered all the images we saw were renders - there was no console. It seems odd to initiate a rebirth of the console via imagery with little explanation or info. I own and love my Jaguar and would rather see the new console - be it a Retro VGS or a Chameleon.

It's not a Jaguar nor a Colecovision, but it may play games from those eras.
I'm curious about the Coleco involvement as their name is now shown on the console pictures. The coleco that brought us Cabbage Patch Kids, Telstar, and Colecovision went out of business in the late 80s. It's resurrection in 2005 was not the same company. It was an investment group.

Like "Atari" today, the Coleco name has been purchased by a "group". While they may own the rights to the name and other assets, they aren't the same company that made those amazing arcade ports in the early 80s. The info I've seen implies that Coleco is coming back as a gaming company with this project, but it's hard to know what that really means.

I look forward to more info about the Retro VGS and Coleco partnership and their plan for bringing the cartridge-based console to market. If they can successfully create this console, it would offer a style of gaming and collecting that all but ended with games released on optical media. It could also be a great blend of retro gaming with modern hardware. As fun as Coleco games were back in the early 80s, imagine that style of gaming with more technology to drive it. Sounds good to me! Time will tell what is under the hood of the second iteration of this console project.
December 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Check out how NORAD came to track Santa each year

For 60 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa's flight.
Pine 64 single board supercomputer Each year NORAD tracks Santa and keeps you up to date on the fat-man's location and progress.

The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline."

The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.

In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.

Pine 64 single board supercomputer
December 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Wanna put a supercomputer in your MAME cabinet? Consider the Pine 64

When you need every single video game ever made at your fingertips, it's hard to beat the ease and cost of single board computers.
The need to upgrade a home computer often leads consumers to ponder the fate of their previous cpu. Some will recycle the monitor, mouse, and keyboard while others will cheerfully drive to the dump and fling the whole thing into a bin. I'm guessing a lot of MAME arcade cabinets stemmed from this scenario. Don't fling - Build and play!

Pine 64 single board supercomputer MAME doesn't require a powerhouse to drive it's ability to serve up the history of arcade gaming on a CRT. This makes that old PC a good candidate for a MAME project, since we all want to ditch the keyboard for robust arcade sticks and buttons. The "space bar" is not the best fire button ever designed.

The folks who devised the Raspberry Pi single board computer were about breaking barriers. Their intro product was compact. cost only $25, and gave promise to the idea of mass affordability of computers. One goal was to put computers in every classroom. That's a noble goal, that can also extend to putting an arcade in every home.

Using a Raspberry Pi you wouldn't be expected to resolve the colonization of Mars, run the New York Stock Exchange, or mine Bitcoins. It wasn't about power. It was about giving access to those who couldn't afford computers sold at traditional outlets - with snazzy versions of Windows. Computing had come to the common man. But give things a few years...

Pine 64 logo

Time Will Make It Faster

Time changes everything from emotions to technology. If you don't like the speed of today's computers, just wait for a year - they'll get faster. The same is true for single board computers that have opened up possibilities in class rooms, basement workshops, and many places in between.

The Pine 64 is the latest single board computer to come along, but it packs a serious increase to the computing horsepower found in such small devices. It centers around a 64 Bit Quad Core ARM Cortex A53 1.2 Ghz processor and a Dual core Mali 400 MP2 graphics processor. It's being called the world's first $15 supercomputer - not a bad title to achieve on a budget... while on Kickstarter.

Better Emulation

Along with power comes a great price. On Kickstarter, the Pine 64 can be obtained for $15. I'm sure those with far greater visions than I, can devise incredible projects around it. My first thought was better emulation. Yeah, I'm wallowing in my shallowness in wondering if the Pine 64 might enable improved emulation for some of the more taxing game consoles.

Pine 64 single board supercomputer Emulation is a common way to enjoy a wide array of video games across many consoles and computer platforms. However, one has to realize that recreating a former hardware solution via software takes a good deal of computing power. Stella will play your Atari 2600 favorites with far fewer resources than needed to bring a GameCube title to life. Emulating Sega's Saturn takes even more.

I'm not sure the Pine 64 is up to providing better console/computer emulation, but there are also a lot of front-end apps that might benefit from such a boost. Those emulating games on PCs have the benefit of using the keyboard to launch each emulator and select the desired game. That task is harder when you're limited to a joystick and several fire buttons.

Since it's a hassle to go from a sturdy arcade set up to a keyboard, when switching games on a MAME cabinet, we often use a front end application that lets us use the traditional arcade controls in place of a keyboard. I'm sure such front-end apps could benefit from a faster processor when tasked with combing large repositories of ROMs. It's not just about arcade titles. Homebrew MAME projects often include dozens (if not more) game consoles.

On the cautionary side: if you're interested in the Pine 64 as part of a retro gaming solution, MAME or console emulation, be sure the software you want to use is compatible. I've been looking into the various Raspberry Pi solutions before seeing the Pine 64 Kickstarter. Many of the front-end managers have been ported for the Raspberry Pi. Be sure all the pieces of the puzzle will work on the Pine 64. :)

The bottom line it more speed and processing power will always benefit and advance future endeavors. I hope the Pine 64 can also become a hero in the retro gaming realm.
December 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

iTunes Terms & Conditions is a brilliant graphic adaptation of Apple's lengthy legalese

For anyone who's pondered reading the ridiculously long Terms and Conditions of iTunes, this is the best possible way I can imagine it.
iTunes Terms & Conditions graphic novel Comics artist Robert Sikoryak has created a wonderful graphic novel from the content of Apple's iTunes user agreement. We've all seen it, but very few have read past the first paragraph or two. But before you can install the app, you have to wistfully lie about having read, comprehended, and greatly benefited from it's content.

The text from the agreement fills thought bubbles and speech balloons, in iTunes Terms & Conditions , as though a story were unfolding before you. Each page is done in a unique style with some characters you may recognize... and a story you won't.

I love this idea! For all the "agreements" I've breezed by online, this one is actually fun to read - in small amounts. There are 2 self-published installments that can be purchased online.

The irony of "no one reads user agreements" is just part of the humor. Take a look at the pages posted to Tumblr and see how many artistsand their characters you can name. It's hard to say how Apple might react to such a tome, but on the bright side, I'm sure the iTunes user agreement has been read more thanks to Sikoryak's graphic novel. :)

iTunes Terms & Conditions graphic novel The iTunes Terms & Conditions graphic novel is based on a variety of artist's style including a specific image/character from his or her's work.
iTunes Terms & Conditions graphic novel Of course the iTunes Terms & Conditions graphic novel has frequent appearances by Steve Jobs in his signature turtleneck.

iTunes was first released in January 2001 after Apple bought SoundJam MP and renamed it. The first version was released at Macworld San Francisco.
December 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Did you know Pizza Hut took online orders in 1994?

We don't think twice about ordering food via smart phone apps. Placing a pizza order via the Internet in '94 was a scifi fantasy!
When I first got an online account, it came with "space". I wasn't sure what that meant, but it was only a few weeks later that I had some rudimentary HTML occupying my "space". An amazing world began to unfold. In the beginning so many websites took on this gray background until coders figured out how to set the bgcolor attribute.

The idea that one could use the internet to order pizza was a mind bending concept. Times have certainly changed. Now cable television monopolies restrict your speed so they can charge more for premium service.

Pizza Hut took online orders in 1994 Remember when most web sites looked like this? It was a crazy world out there at 2400 baud.
Pizza Hut took online orders in 1994 My first modem was 2400 baud and prevented me from using my phone to call anyone while I was online. I signed up for Prodigy and was stunned at the communities that existed online. I enjoyed the commercial services. I signed up for AOL back when speeds were 9600 baud and Time Warner would have laughed at Steve Case's online service. I discovered Compuserve and Delphi and explored what they had to offer.

The online world seemed so vast. I loved the diversity of the many Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) out there. BMUG was killer! As I ventured out onto the web with a real internet account, I found a place I never wanted to leave. Today these experiences are taken for granted. My son is quite accustomed to looking up facts and info online and watching Minecraft videos for tips and tricks.

After graduating to a 14.4 modem, I felt on top of the world and would never have thought that a cable company would one day be reducing my connectivity speed in order to charge me more money. I guess it's to be expected that corporate greed will spill into any and every business endeavor.
December 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Were you part of the Christmas-morning-game-console-gift era?

At some point we need to realize video game consoles are no longer a staple Christmas gift. Pics from the 70s & 80s suggest otherwise :)
After the leaves have fallen and the air feels cool & crisp and supermarkets remove Candy Corn from their shelves, we all know Christmas is right around the corner. The other tell-tale sign of the Christmas season are the retro websites posting childhood pics of the game consoles they received on christmas morning - in the 70s and early 80s.

Vintage Atari on christmas morning The furniture is bland, the TVs are round, and the carpets are deep shag - but the kids have smiles wrapped around their heads. It's Christmas morning and St. Nick had a sleigh full of Atari, Coleco, and Mattel game consoles. So these pictures infer.

As a kid, I never got a game console for Christmas. I bought my first Atari 2600 shortly after Christmas, but I never felt the crushing anticipation of hoping to find a game console "under the tree". It seems like a milestone achievement of youth. It's regaled as a classic element of childhood holidays. But not mine.

I don't bring this up out of anger or disappointment due to missing this milestone. In fact I had to stop and do some recollection just to ensure I was correct in my assertion that I'd never received a game console for Christmas. It's such an iconic experience for so many kids, I feel as though I've vicariously experienced it through all the photos I've seen online over the years.

Vintage Atari on christmas morning It seems as though these kids were always getting that game console that was just released. You don't hear of a kid who was stoked to be getting an Atari 2600 on Christmas morning in 1984 or an NES in 1989. It was always the first year's release. Be it Atari, Intellivision or Colecovision, those childhood photos of Christmas mornings were all about being on the cusp of that new gaming experience no one had seen yet.

What a great era! Companies were trying to leapfrog one another in a race to deliver the best new gaming experience. Few consoles would have the staying power of the Atari 2600, but that didn't stop them from trying to unseat the Sunnyvale wonder. New consoles were a frequent thing in the golden age. These days we get stuck with the same 3 consoles for a comparative eternity. Without a new company or bold concept, that lengthy model is likely to remain.

I had high hopes the Ouya would bring the speed and agility of mobile gaming to TVs and give a wake-up call to the Big Three. No such luck. The Ouya simply turned out to be the first in a number of small-scale attempts at micro consoles. The Big Three lumber on with the only hope for change being a mysterious new device from Nintendo. And I suppose some of you are still hoping VR can make an impact somewhere... anywhere.

Growing up, it seemed as thought there were more hardware choices, with more brewing on the horizon. Maybe i'm jaded as an adult and the childhood wonder has diminished. Maybe the "way too long" duration of the 7th generation tainted me as well.

Vintage Atari on christmas morning At the same time, when you're spending $400 on a game console - before buying any additional games - you have to wonder how often the average consumer would be able to buy a new game console. We lived in simpler times at the advent of video games. The offerings have certainly grown in sophistication, but for all the advancements, Missile Command is still a damn good game! How many games today can ratchet up the feeling of excitement and doom like Space Invaders?

I still prefer the simpler games before memory cards and hard drives turned every game into an epic quest. I quickly met my demise in Space Invaders, but I could play Asteroids for long stretches of time. I don't recall any of my high scores. In fact, modern gaming makes me forget that games once had scores. It was fun to just play.

There won't be any new gaming hardware under the Christmas tree this year, but there will be some 2-player Wizard Of Wor going on. We have as many Atari Flashbacks as we need at this point. This year we will simply revel in the joy of having fun playing video games.
December 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Trash Pack toy series has met it's end, but will live on much like Robotron: 2084

Greatness has a way of prevailing - even with toys & games.
My son loved the little rubbery Trash Pack figures (from Moose Toys) and all the vehicles, board games, card games, etc... It was a well merchandised line. I thought they were very clever and loved playing with him and his enormous collection of Trash Pack toys.

Trash Pack figures and Robotron: 2084 for Atari 7800 Nothing lasts forever unless it does so in your heart. I'm seeing my son carry on with toys that have been discontinued, just as I have shared my love of old Atari and Nintendo games with him. While toy stores are lined with all the newest toys, don't forget the amazing toys you already have and those that may be decades old. There's a lot of fun to be had without needing the latest greatest creations. Go retro! :)
December 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With the resurgence of music on vinyl comes the need to update record presses

I never owned a “good” turntable, but I loved my the warm sound of my vinyl collection. Pre-recorded cassettes were awful sounding!
I'm stunned when I go into Barnes & Noble and see a few racks of albums. Newbury Comics seems to stock more albums than CDs. Even the term "album" felt out of place for quite some time. Upon buying new a CD, I'd say I bought the latest Van Halen album, but we all knew I wasn't talking about vinyl. "Album" was a term I used in the 70s & 80s when vinyl was the dominant format.

vinyl record press Even with the surge in retro items and the cyclical nature of trends, I never thought I'd see vinyl reach any any significant sales again. In the last few years, vinyl has made a comeback through a new generation discovering it's warmth and an older generation who remembers it fondly.

At my local Newbury Comics store, I've seen Black Sabbath albums I bought 1n the late 70s (Paranoid) in the same rack as the latest AC/DC album and not too far away is Taylor Swift's latest album, 1989. I adore retro, but this is almost retro overload for me. It's astounding to see those 12" vinyl discs with artwork to boot!

Vinyl Demand Necessitates New Record Presses

Statistics show that vinyl production is rising for the first time in 30 years. As you might imagine, many of the old presses had been dormant for quite some time. However, these old workhorses are being brought back online to meet the demand of music-buying consumers.

German start-up Newbilt Machinery is building new pressing machines, but the process is much the same. They're making the old manual presses with new parts. Pretty cool, eh? :)

Even A Low-end Turntable Was A Delight

As a kid, I begged my parents for a stereo. I wound up with one of those all-in-one units with a turntable above the tuner and cassette player. I loved it! I knew nothing about audio equipment. All I knew was this device connected me with local radio stations.

I owned a few albums and prerecorded cassettes that I used to play on my Dad's KLH turntable and Realistic (i believe) Cassette deck. I was certain 8-track was the way to go, but the salesman told us that cassette was the new format that would dominate. OK, so as I reached my teenage years I began to realize pre-recorded cassettes were awful.

Crosley Cruiser portable turntable When I played them on my Dad's stereo the LED output meters turned red and leapt to the right. I didn't know the terminology, but these things were very distorted at higher volumes. I loved the way my vinyl records sounded and cheerfully cranked up all my favorite Kiss songs.

Once I had my own stereo, I saw how easy it was to record from the turntable and radio onto cassettes. I understood the analog nature of vinyl and how easily it would degrade from simply being played. So I stopped buying pre-recorded cassettes and began recording my albums. Each time I bought a new album, I'd record it and simply repeat the process if anything happened to the tape.

I'm tempted to buy a turntable, but I'm afraid I'll loose control and start duplicating my CDs on vinyl after I spent so much time replacing my vinyl with CDs. What a world - gotta love retro!
December 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Tiny Circuits is making a palm-sized arcade cabinet based on a modular Arduino compatible platform

Tiny Circuits can put an arcade in the palm of your hand, but also check out their electronic system of building blocks for makers.
Tiny Arcade If you've ever wanted to have an arcade in your pocket, your first thought may be to install emulators on your smart phone. But what if you wanted something a little more authentic looking? You probably haven't considered putting an arcade cabinet in your pocket, but Tiny Circuits has a Kickstarter campaign for a Tiny Arcade that's just the right size.

As the name suggests, it's tiny, but it has a joystick, 2 buttons and on OLED screen. Behind the scenes is a USB connection and SD card slot. All this is housed in an arcade cabinet that comes in a variety of finishes from wood to acrylic and a slick 3D printed design.

Tiny Arcade The games are reminiscent of golden age games we all love, but this is not a MAME device. The games are designed for this platform, with more available on their website. Some purists may want to play arcade-accurate games, but I think the strength of the Tiny Arcade is it's kit format. While you can get the Tiny Arcade assembled and ready to play, you can also opt for the kit that will present a wonderfully unique project.

We recently discovered some maker-oriented kits at Radioshack designed to spur the maker movement and present creative DIY projects. If you look at the Tiny Circuits website, you'll discover this arcade project is built on a system they've created that offers a modular approach to electronic solutions. They have a components, kits, and tutorials online.

Tiny Arcade As soon as I read their "electronic LEGO" analogy, my eyes lit up. The Tiny Arcade in kit format requires no tools or soldering and would likely be a great project to begin with. I can't speak to the difficulty of Tiny circuits other kits, but they have a lot of info online.

To get the Tiny Arcade kit (or fully assembled unit) go to their Kickstarter campaign. It's already funded, so sign on if their information and presentation appeals to you. It sounds like a great device and I love the idea of having it in kit format. Be sure to check out the Tiny Circuits website for a look at the variety of kits & components they offer. Wind up your brain and make something cool!
December 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sony's PS4 has eight PS2 games ready for download, but not via backward compatibility

Is it the gamers or the manufacturers who have forgotten the value and basic concept of backward compatibility?
I was very surprised when the PS3 was re-released without the former PS2 compatibility shortly after it's introduction. Similarly, I was shocked when both Sony and Microsoft announced the end of backward compatibility when launching their Generation 8 consoles in 2013!

Sony PS4 In my view, backward compatibility is a vital part of introducing a new game console. Regardless of the new machine's blazing speeds, insane amount of memory, or gigantic hard drive, the ability to play a game you loved the week before is very important. Buying a new game console should not invalidate your collection of games unless you change brands.

If you upgraded from a PS3 to an Xbox One there is no expectation that the Xbox would be capable of playing your favorite PS3 games. That's been a constant since the days of Atari's home consoles. However, I am amazed that gamers today think nothing of spending $400 on a new game console and only be able to play that system's launch titles. When I spend money on a new console, I'm lucky to have enough money left over to buy one or two new games.

Sony PS4

Importance of Backward Compatibility

As I mentioned, the ability to play your existing games should be a benefit to both the gamer and manufacturer. Some gamers trade in or sell their old consoles to afford the newest one. Having a pile of games you can no longer play on your new console is awful. But there's a much more important reason a manufacturer should want you to be able to play your previous games.

New game consoles often come with new architectures requiring new programing techniques. Mastering the best way to develop for a new console takes time. Developers must learn the new tricks to maximizing the power of a new system. This translates into mediocre games at launch compared with those arriving a year later. Games tend to become better as a console ages. Even seasoned programmers have learning curves when tasked to develop on a new platform.

Allowing gamers to enjoy prior games simply makes the transition to a new console better for all involved. Nintendo has always been terrific about each new console supporting the games from the previous system. Anyone who doubts this should see how easy it is to play a Game Boy cart on a GameCube - now THAT is backward compatibility!

Sony's PS4 Gains PS2 "Compatibility" (not really)

Recently, Sony announced PS2 compatibility for the PS4. I know the PS2 is a beloved machine with a huge and respected game library, but what about the PS3? I'm no expert, but this whole scenario struck me as strange. Backward compatibility is most important at launch for the reasons I stated. Two years later... it's just strange. Then it hit me.

Your PS2 game discs are not compatible with the PS4. Games are being re-engineered for the PS4.
We're really not talking backward compatibility, are we? Many articles around the web have called this "backward compatibility", but that's a misuse of the term. Additionally, they are introducing only eight PS2 titles (for now) and they're available strictly via download. Your original PS2 game discs will not function in a PS4. This whole thing is familiar to Microsoft's recent "compatibility" announcement. It's an emulation scenario, not true backward compatibility.

Nintendo has been doing this for a long time via their Virtual Console online store for consoles and handhelds. Users can purchase selected games from other eras and consoles which can be played on current generation hardware. At no time did anyone consider this backward compatibility. No one thought it involved physical media. However, Sony's announcement seemed to conjure a lot of misinformation.

The 8 titles being released seem fairly expensive to me, although they have been upscaled in resolution and have a smoother frame rate. I am most familiar with Nintendo's Virtual Console that offers older classic games for between $5 - $10. Sony's games range $10 - $15. Considering many gamers already own the PS2 game discs, it becomes vexing to feel as though they need to pay twice to enjoy these titles on the PS4.

Rogue Galaxy for PS2 These are the PS2 titles being sold for the PS4:

  • Dark Cloud - $14.99
  • Grand Theft Auto III - $14.99
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - $14.99
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas - $14.99
  • The Mark of Kri - $14.99
  • Rogue Galaxy - $14.99
  • Twisted Metal: Black - $9.99
  • War of the Monsters - $9.99
I'm wondering if this is a trial to see how these games perform in sales. More may be on the way.

Backward Compatibility

The basis for backward compatibility is being able to use/play game media from an older game console in a newer console. The ability to play previous media is achieved via emulation at no additional cost to the gamer.

My first experience with backwards compatibility was playing Atari games on a Colecovision via the Expansion Module 1. This gave Coleco a tremendous advantage since they made fantastic games AND enabled the entire Atari 2600 library. Next up, for me, was the ability to play my 2600 games on my Atari 7800. As Nintendo began to re-inspire gamers with the NES and SNES, backward compatibility lapsed.

Wii with a GameCube disc The Super Game Boy enabled Game Boy carts to be displayed on the TV via a SNES console adapter. Game Boy adapters kept appearing for Nintendo consoles through the GameCube. Once they standardized on the 12cm optical disc, they allowed backward compatibility between the Wii and GameCube and more recently with the Wii U and Wii. As a Nintendo fan, this scenario has come to be expected.

As I built up my Wii U game library, it was great to also be able to play all of my Wii games at no additional charge. Prior to that, I hadn't delved too far into the GameCube library until I bought a Wii and could play those games seamlessly with all 4 GameCube controller ports!

At this point in gaming, it seems as though a precedent has been set to do away with backwards compatibility all together. I don't expect to hear that term in the near future. Although we don't know too much about Nintendo's NX, it seems safe to assume it will not be compatible with Wii U game media. However, Nintendo promises not to dismiss the Wii U in wake of the NX.

The only thing we can count on is change. That's part of what makes the gaming industry and it's history so fascinating.
December 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Is it really necessary to make Peeps a year-round item?

I grew up eating Peeps each Easter and even enjoyed some of the new flavors, but I'm not a year-round Peep connoisseur.
Peeps seem to be creeping into daily life as though we all need a sugary marshmallow treat each day. Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted to snag a package of Peeps for Easter, but do I need tree-shaped Peeps for Christmas? Or hearts on Valentine's day? I'm leaning towards, no.

Mario and some Christmas tree Peeps My simple childhood connection to Peeps each Easter may be naive in todays high tech world in which the Peep factory must run year-round to be financially viable. Currently, Peeps are released for five sales opportunities: Valentine's Day, Easter, Summer, Halloween, and Christmas. My son and I tried a watermelon flavor last Summer that was fairly awful.

I'm curious to see what these Christmas tree Peeps taste like. I have a suspicion that Easter Peeps are the best variant. Can't beat an original! :)
December 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Microgee places the “endless runner” in space as an awesome endless floater

This mobile game proves the "Endless Floater" genre delivers all the excitement you've come to expect in an endless runner!
Have you ever seen someone discover there's no break-pedal on a boat as their precious vessel slowly impacts a dock emitting a loud cracking sound? You can almost feel them leaning in the hope it will help avoid that crunch as they frantically try to engage reverse. Even as a spectator, watching the inevitable can induce a fair amount of unwarranted stress.

Moe Bull has a terrific mobile game that induces that feeling of inevitability masked by floating. You may ask, how dangerous can floating be? It sounds so slow, soft, and fuzzy. That's the point! Everything seems wonderful until you realize the hazards that exist in Microgee: Endless Floater.

Microgee: endless floater game With simple and familiar controls Microgee releases your astronaut into an accelerated spin allowing you to alter gravitational pull as he tumbles through the hazards of outer space. Tap the screen to increase or decrease the gravity which lets you control his vertical position. His speed and spin are out of your control, so you'll have to take upcoming obstacles into account to keep him in a safe zone.

What I like most is how much novelty there is within such a familiar framework. We've all seen a variety of "endless" style games, but the mechanics and physics of Microgee feels very fresh and it's a lot of fun! The "floatiness" of the astronaut feels spot-on and the controls are great - even though I've killed my brave explorer repeatedly.

Microgee Endless Floater Moe Bull's Microgee: Endless Floater has a nice long soundtrack that doesn't get repetitive like so many games.
Microgee Endless Floater You'll find a good variety of different obstacles in Microgee.

I'm told this game will also be arriving for Android users. I had to chase down an iPhone to give this game a whirl. I really want to have it on my droid! Check out thee Microgee website and link up to Moe Bull's social media for more info and updates.

2/10/16 Update: MICROGEE - Endless Floater is now available for Android devices!

If you like Microgee, try Moe Bull's Meat Cannon Golf mobile game!
December 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Will retro charitable arcade cabinets be gathering donations in your local airport or mall?

Playing Space Invaders in exchange for a charitable donation is genius, but can this idea expand to other Red Cross divisions?
We've all seen collection boxes for the Red Cross. This past Spring stories began circulating in retro gaming circles about two airports in Sweden that added some ingenuity to this collection methodology. In order to entice more donations by those passing through airports, they converted their donation boxes into arcade cabinets. By placing these Charity Arcade cabinets in areas where people often have a lot of "waiting time" they increased donations by exchanging retro arcade game play. They offer Pac-Man, Galaga, and Space Invaders - great choices!

This is a pretty innovative way to increase donations both by offering 3 of the best retro titles available and by letting these machines take any type currency - yen, euro or pounds. These Charity Arcades were set up at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Goteborg Landvetter Airport. I think we can all agree that waiting at the airport is a miserable experience. I'd welcome the opportunity to play retro games and donate to a cause.

Charity Arcade Charity Arcade machines collect Red Cross donations at two Swedish airport baggage claims.

Was Charitable Arcade Successful?

Charity Arcade I know very little about the Red Cross, but I'm fairly certain they would try to replicate one division's success across the entire organization. One aspect to this story that vexes me is the lack of replication. Was this idea not successful? I'm quite surprised we haven't heard about the Red Cross, or similar organization, rolling this out at other locations!

With the success of Barcades, retro arcades, and a surge in all things "retro", I can't imagine this donation concept failing or not being replicated elsewhere. I find no mention of it beyond the 2 Swedish airports last Spring. I would think this model would take off in a viral sort of way, so I'm curious to know where it stands.

Charity Arcade

Charitable Arcade Modification Curiosities

A project like this raises a few thoughts. Such a project would need to properly account for legal and licensing issues. The Red Cross would not be able to offer such game play without licensing the games' rights. All three games were licensed to Midway for NA distribution which might make licensing them for the Red Cross less complex.

I'm guessing these 3 cabinets are part of a test or proof-of-concept due to the customized marquees, different control deck graphics, and unique control layout on Space Invaders. If this were part of a larger roll-out, there would likely be more conformity to reduce costs.

I don't know much about coin-mechs, but I'll bet most of them are designed for a single currency rather than a catch-all solution. That speaks to some customization or added expense in order to allow acceptance of multiple currency types.

These games are likely running off a Raspberry Pi or similar board allowing for easy integration. If true, that opens the door to expanding the games offered as well as creating a generic cabinet set-up that can play a variety of games based on licensing and matching control schemes.

Legal issues are likely the most complex part of this project and one that could easily derail expanding or even continuing. I'm hoping to hear moe about this project and its future. I can think of a variety of scenarios that would support such a concept.

As a side note: When it comes to charitable donations, you should always research any organization that is soliciting donations. Some organizations do great work while others squander most of the donations and offering very little assistance to their causes. Don't give anyone your hard-earned money unless you know they are truly capable of aiding their causes... even if they promise you a game of Galaga!
December 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Social networking has become a contest, but is anyone winning?

Put the "social" into Social Networking and connect with those who share your interests. Social Media is not a scorecard or contest.
Very often I get the feeling social media has become a contest. Something that can be won. Some people are engaging it as though one's follower-count is a quantifiable score. In that scenario, I'm fairly certain no one wins.
follow unfollow button
Isn't the object of social media to connect with people?

The notion of following someone simply to get a follow-back seems shallow at best. To then unfollow that follower - hoping they won't notice - negates the purpose of social media. The idea is to connect people with common interests. That common interest might be between you and another user, or you might suggest a user to someone you feel would enjoy their content.

Whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social network, most people are here to learn more and connect with those having similar interests. At 8-bit Central, we're into retro video games, but also follow some folks who do other things of interest. On the flip side, we don't expect anyone to follow our social media who has little interest in old video games, as that's the focus of our accounts.

Social Networks We're thankful for everyone who follows us since the goal is to meet cool people with similar gaming interests & ideas. We love hearing about indie games, Atari homebrews, retro-inspired mobile games, new concepts, and retro gaming news in general.

Many of these great finds come to us via social media. It's a valuable tool for current happenings in the retro gaming community. The amount of info exchanged via social networks is astonishing. Along with great info comes great people.

Social Media Has Reach

Very often you can reach out to the developer on a video game project rather than simply reading a prepared PR release. Social media gives users access to info and people that were previously behind "closed doors". Very often developers can benefit from the instant feedback they can get via social networks.

We use social media for self-promotion and to present 3rd party content and ideas that we think are interesting. Sometimes we will promote a Kickstarter campaign or upcoming retro homebrew game. That's part of using social media. We hope folks will promote out site and the articles we post. The social aspect of these sites provides a platform for connecting people with information and other people.

Why Disconnect From Fans?

This article began out of frustration with those who want nothing from social media than more followers, likes, or whatever they perceive as validation. Ordinarily I ignore those with irritating tendencies, but I've come across a few that surprised me. Of note, were a few accounts that were clearly set up to promote new games and products, yet as soon as I followed them back, I was unfollowed. How does that possibly help their cause?

In a few cases, I was going to post an article about them, but their social media behavior was strange enough to make me think their ability to bring a product to market might be equally flawed. That scenario has played out several times. I'm not suggesting that our endorsements are gold, but if a company is promoting something, it's best not to disconnect from potential backers, customers, and fans. Just a thought.
December 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I didn't think Trump would last a week, yet he's still topping the polls

If you wanted to know how much people hate politicians, just look at Donald Trump's ratings in virtually any poll. He may not have a clue about Washington politics, but people are fed up with politicians who do nothing but line their own pocketes at the expense of their constituents.

I'm not sure Trump is cut out for the job, but he's the only one who connects with the people without the usual political jargon. Voter's willingness to support a political outsider, like Trump, should send a clear message to Congress. Unfortunately, Congress will continue to play their games and award themselves more money as middle-class Americans slide into poverty. Only then will politicians consider their efforts a success. They are 100% bought and paid for by the 1%.

Trump 2016
December 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Is that an arcade mounted on your wall? Check out the Bushnell's Polycade Kickstarter

When Nolan Bushnell's name comes up you tend to hear two things: 1- founder of Atari and 2: Some random comment about Chuck E. Cheese's.

Polycade logo Today I discovered the Polycade Kickstarter campaign created by two of Mr. Bushnell's kids - Tyler and Dylan. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to grow up in the Bushnell household? One can imagine arcade cabinets, game consoles, and lots of prototype madness. They discuss this a bit on the site and it's left me with a smile. It sounded like a fun house to grow up in. :)

Polycade flush design So, anyway...
They have an interesting arcade machine that has already met it's $20,000 funding goal. Their Polycade is similar in many ways to the MAME-based cabinets running on PCs or Raspberry Pi computers. The Polycade runs on a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and offers a very unique enclosure.

I had several arcade games in my living room many years ago and they are heavy and take up more space than you'd think. However, I've never really liked the bar-top MAME cabs I've seen and the full size cabs don't always fit in with modern design and layout in the average house.

The Polycade uses a wall-mounting system similar to many HD TVs with a cross-hatch metal bracket secured to the wall and the Polycade. This lets it have a minimal depth of only 17 inches and you can customize the height of the unit. Additionally, it has two 8-way joysticks and one 4-way stick for the older games.

It uses a standard TV and other common parts that can be swapped and upgraded. The list of included games is light, but all the games need to be licensed in order to sell them with the Polycade. I'm sure most of you have gigs of ROMs just waiting for such a machine. Capable of running a variety of emulators, it's been tested with a variety of retro consoles and computers.

Design-wise my only concern is also one of the facets I like a lot. It's slim profile wall mount is a slick looking way to minimize the enclosure size while still keeping an arcade aesthetic. However, I know how much stress an arcade cabinet can be subjected to. From leaning to angry pounding, I'm wondering how well the wal-mount holds up to extreme play. Even the best of us can get carried away in the heat of battle. I'm wondering how securely the mount holds to both the wall and the Polycade.

polycade A side benefit to a Bushnell kickstarter is their Dad is signing Atari 2600 game carts as one of the reward tiers. As you can see... it's not what you know, it's WHO you know! :)
December 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Verizon was giving away BB-8 Google Cardboard- a free competitor to Mattel's View Master VR

vintage Atari sales During my commute to work, I heard a morning DJ talking about an offer at Verizon stores that caught my attention. They are apparently giving out Star Wars themed Google Cardboard VR viewers. The main component is your smart phone, but this holds it and creates a simple environment for trying out virtual reality apps - like Cardboard.

I've seen many offers for free Google Cardboard VR viewers, but have yet to find one that will actually send the device as promised. I've tried. After a brief chat with a Verizon rep - leading me to believe my 2-year-old phone is just as good as the newer model - I walked out with a BB-8 themed cardboard VR... thing.

Verizon Stores Distributing STar Wars Themed Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard Verizon was giving away Star Wars themed Google Cardboard units today. They didn't seem to be promoting anything VR related. People were taking the boxes off
Google Cardboard The box is branded with the Star Wars The Force Awakens release date and the Verizon logo.

Mattel's View Master goes VR

vintage Atari sales Having grown up with a blocky red View Master and a stack of photo reels, I've been looking at Mattel's update, the View Master VR. I bought my son a SpongeBob View Master several years ago and was thinking of upgrading to this new smartphone-driven version. It even mimics the reels, we used to use, as augmented reality items.

One of my issues with the current state of VR is standards and compatibility. In the upper echelons of this technology, each developer has a unique way of creating VR content. Google's Cardboard seems to be becoming the standard for low-end VR. This makes many of the devices out there ready to use this VR standard in the Cardboard viewed as well as Mattel's View Master.

I'd be lying if I didn't say I see a little bit of VirtualBoy in the color and styling of Mattel's updated View Master. If it weren't for the advent of smart phones that handle the brunt of VR's offerings, it might suffer the same fate as Nintendo's 3D foray in '95. From what I see, most folks are touting it's Cardboard compatibility above the proprietary content.

Google Cardboard
Google Cardboard

I'm sure I'm tainted by nostalgia from my View Master days, but I'm going to give the View Master VR a try... even though it's functionally the same as the free Star Wars Cardboard I picked up from Verizon. Oddly, all it took for me to give today's VR-on-the-cheap a try was a free cardboard box with a Star Wars theme.
December 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today's digital photography makes me wish I had the same zeal in my 1980s arcade days

When I visit Toys R Us, GameStop, or Best Buy I often wander the aisles with my camera in-hand. I do the same thing in the electronics section of Target. Very often I find something to shoot for a blog post or to document as something of interest. Having photographed the bottom of a box to capture the company's website for later review, demonstrates my photography is not likely to culminate in a lavish coffee table book.

vintage Atari sales But I feel these photo jaunts have purpose despite my feeling self conscious about randomly photographing retail products on store shelves. It is a bit odd. On the other hand, I wish I'd taken such photos during the 80s!

When I see photos from that era with shelves full of Atari consoles and computers, I regret not having the foresight to have documented any of it. In 20 years, will anyone be interested in photos of the Skylanders' Aisle at Toys R Us or a rare amiibo sighting? It's hard to say, but that specific question is likely why I never photographed much in my early days as a gamer. I wish I had!

When The Atari 2600 came to market, it was a new concept and retailers didn't know how to place it. Was it a toy? Was it a computer? You could find 2600s in a wide variety of stores - from drug stores to toy stores - everyone wanted to be on that bandwagon! I bought mine from an appliance store. Amongst the washers, dryers, and refrigerators was the wood-grained device that would forever change the way I interacted with the television. That would have been a great picture!

vintage Atari sales

Toys R Us NES Vouchers

I vividly remember the game aisles at Toys R Us during the NES craze of the mid 80s. The walls were lined with laminated box covers (and backs) along with matching pouches full of vouchers. They were fastened to the walls letting you flip them up to see the back of the box. It was such an odd scenario to flip up the laminated boxes in the hopes of gleaning enough info to make a smart purchase. We didn't have internet reviews in those days - in fact we didn't have the internet.

After careful selection, I'd take the voucher to the register, pay, and head over to the customer service window where someone would get the actual game for me. I miss those days and wish I'd bought more games. Above all, I wish I'd had the foresight to bring my camera along. My 35mm wasn't as easy as todays digital cameras, but it would have preserved so many great memories.

classic 1980s arcade

Photos For The Future

I take photos of my son everywhere we go from mini golfing and ice cream to GameStop and the arcades. He rolls his eyes when he sees the camera. But every shot I take reminds me of those I neglected when I was a kid. I didn't document any of the things I loved and they exist largely as memories these days.

Compare that to having a half-dozen social media accounts full of photos of your every waking moment. Everything is documented in today's world - sometimes when you don't want it.

When I go through my photos and see my son standing in front of a Joust cabinet, sitting at a cocktail Frogger game, or behind the wheel of an Out Run game I wish I had photos of my arcade days. When he's older, I hope he can appreciate some of the photos he appears in with games that I played when I was just a bit older. By the time he's grown, many of the games we've played (and photographed) will be classics for his generation.

Document everything! You'll wind up with epic memories to savor in the future.
I'd love to have pics of me when Stargate came to the Electric Playhouse in Mount Kisco, NY or discovering Vanguard at Nathan's restaurant. My favorite arcades from the 80's are all long gone. In some cases, the physical buildings have been demolished. All that remains are the memories in my head. I'd love to have photos of some of those amazing places and the incredible games they offered.

When my son was an infant, I took a pic of the two of us at a Tower Records in CT. It was closing forever and I really wanted him to know that he had witnessed the greatness that was Tower Records. It was that moment that I knew I had to document the world I loved, with my son. As he grows up, he may be surprised by some of the cool places we've been and the arcade games we've challenged!
Don't discount the present - you may regret that in the future :)

November 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

November 30, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Radioshack's hobby kits take me back 2 decades to when I loved their electronics projects

Radioshack logo When I found these Radioshack hobby kits online, I was stunned! I haven't seen anything like this from Radioshack in decades. These kinds of projects got me interested in electronics and - more importantly - demystified electronics for me. We need more learning opportunities, like this, for kids!

We live in a disposable society where we throw away everything that no longer works. In most cases, we don't even consider repairing them. As a kid, I remember TV repair shops - try finding that at the local mall these days. With the disappearance of repair shops comes the notion that most things are not repairable. Thus, we find fewer household challenges that might stir curiosity about learning to repair things. It's important for kids to see a need and be a part of the solution.

My son and I got my old Moon Patrol arcade game working this past Summer. Moon Patrol arcade game It was a great project for us and he was really interested in both the electronics and cabinet building. He had previously been interested in Snap Circuits, so this was a fun project for both of us. Now, I'm eager to see how he likes these hobby kits from Radioshack.

Radioshack hobby kits I bought 2 of the kits and I'm excited to share these with my son. The Snap Circuits gave him a good foundation for understanding what we did to get Moon Patrol working. These Radioshack kits will introduce a blank PCB and the need to solder the various components. For more info, Radioshack has a demonstration video showing how one of the kits is assembled.

Of all the false starts Radioshack has gone through to reinvent the brand and build momentum, this is the first product line I've seen them introduce that really brings back what they were renown for. I have fond memories of searching their aisles for hours for parts and ideas. I always felt surrounded by things I wanted to try. I relied on the Shack for so many home projects, It was sad to see them fall from grace and become a phone store.

These hobby kits are a terrific leap forward offering a very unique experience that harkens back to the glory days of Radioshack. This is what they were so good at and I think it's a great opportunity for kids to get some hands-on learning with their parents!

Radioshack hobby kits
November 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

New owner of SNK Playmore vows to follow Marvel model by bringing IPs to comics, film, & TV

Mai Shiranui I loved the release of the NeoGeoX by SNK Playmore and Tommo as it gave me a new way to enjoy some of those games available only on the expensive AES or MVS platforms without going the ROM route. Alas, that console shipped and ceased shortly after the first release of additional games.

Recently, SNK was acquired by Ledo Millenium, a subsidiary of the Chinese investment firm Leyou Technologies. The recent shift toward allowing the sale of game consoles in China, sets the stage for some interesting expansions of SNK's IPs. Fans have not been pleased by the slim offerings by SNK in recent years.

In Retro Gamer magazine (issue #146) there is a brief sidebar about SNK's change in ownership and the Chinese company's desire to follow the "Marvel model". They intend to expand the reach of the acquired IPs in video games, but also intend to move into comics, film, and television. That's pretty exciting news for a core set of games that garnered a large global fan-base eager to see their favorite games again.

I adore Metal Slug, so I'm excited about the possibilities regarding new games and of course the comics, film, and TV potential!

Metal Slug scene
November 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If you haven't played Looney Labs' Fluxx, get a free card and pick up a game

I'd been hearing a lot about the Fluxx card games from Looney Labs and picked up their Regular Show deck last year. The Fluxx games are a lot of fun since the rules are simple and the games can be quite quick. Combine that with the various themes from Cartoon Network shows to zombies and I'm sure they'll have something of interest.

last year I saw a Facebook post stating they'd send a free card, so I signed up and got a nice package from them. I found the same post this year and received the Ugly Sweater card. In this day and age, you never get something for nothing... but Looney Labs bucks the trend. This wasn't a download or a PDF. They sent the card to me and I found it in my mailbox yesterday!

Ugly Sweater Fluxx card from Looney Labs If you haven't tried a Fluxx game, take a look at their selection and try one this holiday season!
They're lots of fun!
November 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Flintstones video games for the NES are no cereal box affair

Bella Thorne graced the front of Post's Cocoa Pebbles cereal as part of their Team Cocoa versus Team Fruity ad campaign. The real Flintstone battle wages online when you compare the prices of the 2 NES games!

Bella Thorne on Cocoa Pebbles cereal boxes You'll find a considerable price difference when trying to acquire the two Flintstone games for the Nintendo NES.

Flintstones The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy - NES game Flintstones The Rescue of Dino and Hoppy can be found for under $20. It was released in 1991 by Taito.
Flintstones Surprise at Dino Peak - NES game Flintstones Surprise at Dino Peak is often sold for over $700! It was published by Taito in 1993.

There have been rumors that Surprise at Dino Peak was an exclusive release for BlockBuster rental. This title may have originated as an exclusive, but games make money by the volume sold. A title exclusive to a rental chain store doesn't seem financially viable, however, the title may have initially been a rental title to stir up interest in it at retail.

There certainly seems to be something very different between the availability of these 2 games - the later being extremely rare.
November 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Inverse Phase uses some of my favorite computers & video game consoles to create chiptunes

Inverse Phase Chiptunes As a budding guitarist, I used absurd volume levels to compensate for my sparse talent. When it came to playing Asteroids, however, I discovered I had enough talent to play cheerfully on a quarter for more time than most of my peers. Alas, neither my guitar or fire-button-finger led to career opportunities. In fact, it never occurred to me that these two passions had a considerable crossover.

Not everyone suffered this divide. Chiptune musician's like Inverse Phase, have been creating music with the consoles and computers that brought Asteroids into my home.

I came to love the sounds of Nintendo's NES from the various games I played. As I became more interested in chiptunes, it surprised me how much sound could be unleashed from that little gray box. I'm fascinated by musicians who can infuse the sound pallets of various computers and consoles into amazing original works.

Check out Inverse Phase's music. He brings a lot of drive and originality to the genre of sounds I came to love through video games. His website links to streaming and purchasing sites for his albums and singles. He's creating some really great tracks that take me back to my early gaming days, with depth and cool beats. He's also an experienced video game composer.

His track, In the Error Tonight, on Chiplust, brought me back to my Friday night ritual of shutting out the world as I watched Miami Vice. :) Great music with great memories!
November 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

This fascinating music video (Bad Apple) has been programmed to both NES and Atari 2600 ROMs

Bad Apple This image, labeled Bad Apple, of an NES game cartridge caught my eye as it looked more representational than real, yet it linked to an NES ROM file. Naturally, I loaded it up to see what it was. To my surprise, it was what I interpreted as a music video containing both animation and sound.

From what I can understand, this song comes from a genre of indie Japanese games, Touhou Project - specifically a series of games created entirely by one person; Zun. I discovered several variants of Bad Apple by searching through You Tube. Some of the videos linked back to the NES ROM I discovered and played on my Mac via an emulator. I went on to also find an Atari 2600 ROM featuring a scaled back version of this music video.

The dedication and interest shown in these endeavorers is impressive from a variety of standpoints from musicianship to computer programming. I'd love to know more about this to better understand how this music and animation have been replicated to so many different formats and platforms.

Original Bad Apple video.

Bad Apple coded as an NES cartridge.

Bad Apple - Touhou Cover
November 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

These Squids can only wish they were in Metal Slug

When it comes to shooters, I grew up with Galaxian, Galaga, Asteroids and Defender. I loved Time Crisis and Virtua Cop. Never would I have expected an evolution like Splatoon. Some might disagree with it being a shooter, but I think it qualifies.

One of my favorite arcade shooters is Metal Slug! It's such a manic game that goes so far over-the-top I can hardly believe I completely missed it in arcades. In fact, I've never even seen (or played) any Metal Slug games on an arcade setup. As I became aware of this series, I bought the anthology for Wii and enjoyed 2 versions on the NeoGeoX handheld console.

Splatoon Squids with Metal Slug Anthology The arcade scene I loved in the 80s changed considerably as the 90s progressed. Change is to be expected, but the games I loved began to disappear quickly from arcade floors. They were replaced with the next generation of games including various 2D fighting games. To me, these games were enticingly complex and ushered in a new style of game play in which simultaneous 2-player games were standard.

My lust for the 80s caused me to miss out on Metal Slug in arcades.
I'd watch people play everything from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat to Killer Instinct and Tekken. I felt drawn to them, but lacked the skills to pull off the moves I was seeing. I was also hoping that this new wave of games would expand on the space battle theme that I craved.

As home consoles became more powerful, I took to playing a lot of arcade titles at home. Slowly, my visits to arcades diminished. Until I discovered the Metal Slug series, I had no idea what I was missing. I felt arcades weren't offering games I wanted to play... I'd have played Metal Slug until my fingers bled.

Metal Slug originated in 1996 and continued into the late 2000s with several iterations of the game across multiple platforms. I'll play Metal Slug on any platform I can get my hands on - it's that good! And Splatoon is pretty cool too ;)

Splatoon Squids with Metal Slug Anthology
November 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy Thanksgiving! Have a great day with friends, family and retro video games!

HappyThanksgiving! While everyone is trying to watch parades and football, I'm happy in front of the old TV playing video games! The best part of any holiday gathering is discovering who else would rather play Atari than watch football.

Have a great day with your friends, family and retro video games!

Predicta TV with Atari Defender Philco manufactured the Predicta TV in the late 50s with swivel screens that were not as deep as traditional TVs of the era. They were seen as a futuristic concept based on their looks. In 2002, Telstar Electronics bought the rights to the name and intended to bring back the iconic look of the Predicta TVs. Aside from a flurry of initial excitement and PR, not many of these TVs were produced and the Predicta website seemed to go dormant in 2008.

Turkey TV Dinner There are few meals as disgusting or nutritionally bankrupt than a TV dinner, but I loved them as a kid. Getting a TV dinner back then was a real treat!
November 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rental stickers and random sharpie marks are part of a game's unique history

BlockBuster rental stickers on an NES game Each time I glance through my Facebook feed I'll see at least one post asking the best way to remove stickers and marks from game carts and discs. The usual assortment of q-tips and ointments follow with every post suggesting the "best" technique. There are a surprising number of ways from applying heat via a hair-dryer to various percentages of Isopropyl alcohol.

Here's my suggestion - just leave them alone. That's right, don't remove the stickers or names written in colored markers! Video gaming has an overarching history full of fascinating info. However, when was the last time you stopped to think about the history of an individual game cart or disc. Not from an industry or development perspective, but the actual cart that you have in your hand - the one you bought at a yard sale. Yeah, that cart! What sort of history might it have?

BlockBuster rental stickers on a PS2 game I'm all for cleaning up the carts I find in the wild, but rarely do more than wipe the shell down with a wet cloth and clean the contacts. As long as accumulated dust and grime is removed, I'm content with the remaining defects. But are stickers and markings really defects or an interesting part of a game's unique history?

I saw a post complaining about a large Block Buster Rental sticker on a game disc and thought how I'd love to have that! I loved renting games and movies from Block Buster. With 20/20 hindsight we now tarnish the brand with comments about their inability to change with the times, but who didn't use them back in the day? Many of these stickers have store numbers on them which lends to being a primitive GPS for the game's rental origin. And don't forget the vast number of Mom & Pop stores that preceded them. There are some really interesting retail stickers out there!

I couldn't afford an N64 at launch, but I thought it was cool to be able to rent the console from Block Buster for a weekend marathon of gaming. Those were great times and let us try out games without the full-cost of ownership.

Sharpie writing on a game Who remembers a Mom & Pop video rental store that had a small game section? I'm not even sure if they were aloud to do that, but I've seen a few games with stickers branded with obvious rental establishments I'd never heard of. Have you ever encountered a game with an unknown rental company's sticker on it? Did you google the company to see where they operated. I've bought games at yard sales that I tracked back to defunct rental stores thousands of miles away.

That makes me wonder how the game got all the way across the USA and wound up in a box of carts I picked up for $10 at some random person's yard sale. Did some kid forget to return it before his family moved from Oregon to Delaware? Did the original store sell off it's inventory and this cart went off to college with it's new owner who later sold it to buy beer? The possibilities are endless and these trinkets of info, revealed by rental-stickers, can suggest some interesting notions.

Have you ever thought about the names written on carts? If there's a first and last name, have you ever googled the name or searched Facebook? "Hey dude, I have your Bionic Commando game!"

Sharpie writing on a game I see a lot of disdain, across social networks, for kids who dared to write their name on a game cart. I'll bet that kid never imagined his parents would sell all his NES games when he went away to school and that some dolt would later be referring to him as a jerk.

The new owners seem to assume that "Eric" wrote his name on the game just to piss off the next owner. How quick we are to judge the actions of others as though we know why they wrote their name. Most angry netizens who post such complaints malign these kids as though they were evil minions seeking to annoy collectors in the future.

What if Eric wrote his name because he lent a lot of games to his friends. Or maybe Eric was the cool kid who always brought a ton of games to sleepovers and just wanted to get all his games back. I loved bringing games to sleepovers so we could amass our collections and play tons of games all night! I'll bet most kids who wrote their names on games expected to own those games forever. The better question might be what separated Eric from his beloved game?

Next time you get a used game and it's covered in crap... Take a moment to see if some of that crap tells a story. You never know what you might discover in addition to owning another video game!

Video Game history isn't always in a book. It may be in your hand!

November 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Video game record holder Billy Mitchell loses court case by not resembling a giant floating head from outer space

Mitchell apparently took offense to a 2011 episode of Regular Show in which Mordecai and Rigby fight a gigantic floating head named Garrett Bobby Ferguson that he felt looked like him.

A judge threw out his ridiculous case citing: "The television character does not match the plaintiff in appearance: GBF appears as a non-human creature, a giant floating head with no body from outer space, while Plaintiff is a human being."

Billy Mitchell Billy Mitchell
Giant floating head from outer space Giant floating head from outer space

We don't see the resemblance either. Good thing he thrives on any and all forms of attention.
November 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Robotron's price tag brought back great memories of my favorite retro gaming comic shop

I've assumed it's customary to display one's personal gaming items by holding them in one hand and photographing them with the other, as a way of indicating it is indeed YOUR item and not a random picture you are sharing. While I understand the desire to demonstrate ownership in a sea of imagery that floods social networks, I'd make a lousy hand model.

Robotron: 2084 for Atari 7800 & a Cookie Cat button Any game cart clenched in my fist would look more like a Walking Dead promo than pride in ownership. Thus, my Robotron: 2084 game cartridge is uniquely marked with a button I recently came across. I'm a fan of several Cartoon Network shows and thought this "Cookie Cat" button was a clever way to represent the Steven Universe show.

Many of my pictures are similarly litered with whatever trinkets are within easy grasp when taking pictures. That's my way of setting my gaming items apart without any TWD hand modeling. :)

My son and I have been playing a lot of Robotron: 2084 and were comparing the 7800 and 800 versions. Almost always, I prefer the 800 computer versions, but this time the 7800 won out. We prefer the 7800 version's visual clarity.

We also have the Midway Arcade compilation for PS3 (Robotron is one of the included games), but I'm not wild about that style of controller for classic arcade games. For me, the Classics need a real joystick - not a D-pad. Now that we've cleared up why there's a random ice cream pin resting on my preferred version of Robotron: 2084, let's get into the real issue. The price tag!

Robotron: 2084 for Atari 7800 & a Cookie Cat button

Dragon's Den

I suppose $4.95 was a reasonable price back in the mid 90's when I bought it. More importantly is the store from which I bought it. A few days ago when I saw "Dragon's Den" on the tag, a jolt of memories came rushing back. That usually happens to me via music, when an old song comes on the radio - it takes me back to a very specific time.

Dragon's Den was a comic book shop in New York and was a haven for everything cool. Great store! But better still were the circumstances under which I used to frequent this pop culture mecca. From Tank Girl comic books to Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, and Jaguar video games, they had everything I thought I'd ever need!

Tank Girl missile bra cover I once lived fairly close to Dragon's Den, but my job took me farther North resulting in a hour long journey each way. When the weekend arrived, friends would come over and we'd drink beer and play video games. Other times we'd slap our favorite comic books on a flatbed scanner and marvel at the great artwork - while drinking beer.

On a majority of weekends, we found an excuse to make the trek down to Dragon's Den to see what treasures had arrived. Never having a specific goal in mind, we'd hop in the car and see where the day took us. There were a few favorite eateries as well as an arcade and a well-stocked laserdisc retailer nearby.

It's hard to believe those carefree ventures were 20 years ago and that I'm sharing Robotron with my son! I was devastated when I learned Dragon's Den had closed. So many memories I hadn't thought about in a very long time. All it took was a yellow price tag and I vividly remember many of the occasions that filled out my collection of Tank Girl comics and Atari Jaguar games.

Next time someone tells you how to remove a sticker, price tag or sharpie markings from a game cart... tell them it's part of that game's history and might unlock a few good tales!
November 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Small cardboard inserts prevent packaged amiibo from interacting with the Wii U gamePad

Small cardboard inserts in amiibo packaging When I go to the video game corner of Toys R Us, they have an aisle for each Toys-To-Life franchise and locked cases containing everything else. It always strikes me how prevalent these games are at TRU. At GameStop, It's hard to tell if they even sell Skylanders, Infinity, or Dimensions. It's a very different layout.

Regardless, I do like the Toys-To-Life kiosks at TRU that allow me to try each character and get an idea what they can do. It's convenient that you can put a packaged Skylanderskiosk figure on the kiosk portal and it pops right up on the screen. Similarly, the figures will integrate with my home portal while still in their packaging. Infinity figures follow the same scenario.

I began to wonder why there were separate Wii U and amiibo kiosks. It seemed as though the two would be integrated. As I became more familiar with amiibo I assumed their retail separation from the Wii U kiosk was due the way the figures interact with the game. They don't appear in-game the way they do in Skylanders or Infinity - they typically unlock things in-game. OK, fair enough.

My Inner Collector

I have since learned that amiibo will not interact with the Wii U gamePad while in their packaging! How odd. I bought a few amiibo before even owning a Wii U, so I left them in their packaging. Upon buying a Wii U for my son and I, the first game we bought was Splatoon. When we got it home, he was dying to rip open my amiibo 3-pack of Splatoon characters. I wanted to leave them packaged and suggested he try the Skylander trick of simply pressing the bottom of the package against the GamePad. Nothing happened!

Small cardboard inserts in amiibo packaging Since amiibo work differently from other Toys-To-Life figures, if you could use them without opening the package, it would be far too easy to scan them and simply return them to the store. This wouldn't be as profitable a venture if that were the case.

I'm not a serious collector by any means, but I wanted to preserve the figures in their packaging. It wasn't long before the 3-pack was restocked and I bought a second one. My son opened it up and they worked perfectly. Unlike our skylanders or Infinity characters, the bottom of the amiibo packaging had cardboard cut-outs where the base of the figure rested. One side was reflective.

Foiled By The Inserts

Poking around the web, it seems that early figures had a sticker on the base that prevented in-box scanning. It was similarly metallic or reflective on one side. I've seen a few videos in which people are slicing open the bottom of the package and inserting a sharp stick in an effort to scrape away this sticker. That strikes me as an odd work-around when you have to both break the packaging's seal and deface the bottom of the figure itself. Does that somehow retain it's value? I wouldn't think so..

It seems that Nintendo wised up to this and is now (not sure of the exact date) using cardboard inserts that can't be scrapped or removed in the same way. The well in which the amiibo's base rests has a slight depression that would make it difficult to remove or alter the cardboard without excessive damage to the packaging. From a collecting standpoint, I don't see the difference between opening the package versus slicing into it and damaging the base of the figure. It seems to me the value falls equally with both options.

This is also a good reminder for those purchasing figures from auction sites to inquire about the full condition of the packaging.

Small cardboard inserts in amiibo packaging
November 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Small businesses should embrace technology... and arcade games, like the Spin Laundry Lounge

I've been fortunate in never having to rely on laundromats for washing clothing. I say "fortunate" because most laundromats are dirty, run-down, and give the impression you're more likely to die there than escape with clean clothing. But not all laundromats are like this and some, like the Spin Laundry Lounge in Portland, Oregon, are changing the face of cleanliness in some very inventive ways!

Spin Laundry Lounge's pinball Pinball tables on the upper level overlooking the laundry machines and bar. I saw a televised news story about the Spin Laundry Lounge and I was quite impressed with the planning and technology that went into it's design. As it's name suggests, it's a laundromat that offers services that makes doing laundry fun and draws more customers due to the unique offerings... that include arcade games.

Spin Laundry Lounge's arcade loft Any successful business needs a sharp focus on the business, but customers need to be included in that focus. Whether I'm at home or a laundromat, doing laundry is boring. At home, such bordom is easy to relieve. It's not as easy at the laundromat. Morgan Gary put a lot of thought into what she felt would make her laundromat more enticing. Naturally, I love the upper loft of pinball and arcade games, but it's much more.

Efficient Technology

The high-efficiency machines themselves are pretty slick with multiple payment options including thumping your smartphone against them. Beyond that convenience, you can send your washer a text and it will respond with the remaining time until completion! I'd love to have that feature on my home washer... and coffee pot!

You'll also find a coffee shop with coffee, tea, beer, wine, sandwiches, salads. I'm not sure if liquor licenses are easier to obtain on the West coast, but if I can have a beer and play Rampage or read a book on a comfy couch - I'll be a happy customer.

Rampage arcade game
If your customers must endure a wait, let them play!
Doesn't this make you wish more small businesses would view things from the customer's perspective? I love how the Spin Laundry Lounge has taken the drudgery out of doing laundry through technology and a careful eye on what makes customers want to be a part of their establishment.

At a general level, I'd love to see more businesses value the addition of arcade games in their establishments. While restaurants would rather you spend money in the bar while awaiting a table, arcade games are an enticing option. There are a lot of businesses that have a component where customers must endure a wait. More of these businesses should look at arcade games as a solution to the boredom of waiting.

If you live in the Portland area, it's worth noting that PDX is also home to the renown Ground Kontrol Arcade. And for those on the East coast, check out Sunshine Laundry's pinball establishment in Brooklyn, NY!
November 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo Quest movie soundtrack on cassette!

One of the reward tiers for backing Nintendo Quest on Kickstarter was a copy of the soundtrack on cassette. It doesn't get more retro than that! The soundtrack is also available in digital format on Bandcamp via John H. McCarthy.

Nintendo Quest movie soundtrack on cassette
November 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Check out this Kickstarter for collectible retro computer trading cards - 8-bits from the 1980s

I'm a sucker for trading cards - of any kind. I have Kiss cards, Tank Girl comics cards, and all my whacky Packs from when I was a kid. Mis in 8-bit computers and you have me hooked. Check out this Kickstarter for retro computer trading cards.

Retro 8-bit computers This set appears they have over 30 cards, but I'm not even sure how many retro computers there were in those days. It seems that this project is fairly open to expansion in terms of adding more CPUs to the deck. One can only hope that it will catch on and we'll see moe technology card sets. But for now, this one looks pretty cool.

It's also worth noting that this project ha already met it's funding goal - times ten! So, if retro computers are your thing, this might be a fun item to add to your collection.

From the 8BitKick website:
These machines inspired a whole generation, by bringing computers to the homes of millions for the first time. This project is just a small tribute, but a fun and nostalgic one. The first machine I met was the Commodore PET.

As a kid I programmed a BBC Micro, then an Acorn Archimedes. Not to mention playing with my friends on their Amiga, Atari ST, or ZX Spectrum. If these names mean something to you, get involved!

As I said, I'm a sucker for trading cards, but check out the site and Kickstarter info and see if you crave a copy. As an info junkie, I'd be all for having info on both sides, but this seems like the sort of project that could evolve into a much larger set of cards.

Retro 8-bit computer cards
November 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I recall & cherish buying the last Atari game console to adorn retail shelves

I remember my senses perking up when I learned it was coming. I hadn't heard that name for many years. It felt good, like an old friend returning.

It was 1993 and the Atari Jaguar was going to be released! Atari products were going to be back on retail shelves! I wasn't sure who owned the Atari name at the time, but it's iconic logo remained the same and that was enough to excite me.

Cybermorph for Atari Jaguar The day it released, my friend (and coworker) and I took an extended lunch at Nobody Beats The Wiz - a now-defunct electronics box-store. We raced into the store and headed to the video game area. There was a lot of Jaguar signage, Atari banners, and those black boxes with the red text and yellow eyes. It was an astounding site!

We were chastised upon our return to the office. The two of us represented 50% of the Tech team, so our disappearance had not gone unnoticed. We tried to assuage the complaints by semi-confessing to our Atari mission and were quite surprised at how many people had their own Atari stories and were willing to share them on the spot rather than complaining about our absence.

That night we played hours of Cybermorph and Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy without a care in the world about 64 or 32 bit nonsense. The games were fun, new, and Atari branded. What else could one ask for?

Atari Jaguar it was soon clear there were 2 types of Jaguar games - those that were terrific and those that were awful. I was fully stoked to buy Jeff Minter's Defender 2000, but also bought Club Drive because it existed. The Jaguar was the first console where I was aware that it was fading. I went on a buying spree in the hopes of garnering a substantial game library to enjoy down the road. The final games I found via retail were at a huge comic book shop that had a small video game area. They laughed at the games I was buying. I laughed too - they were sealed, and complete in-box for $5.

Although the Jaguar was considered a comercial flop and is much maligned, I still play jaguar games frequently. Many titles were exclusive to it and are just fun to play. It's games also bring me back to a time when video gaming sprang to life for me. I've always loved video games, but the intense passion came in waves. The Atari Jag rel;ease marked my permanent return to loving all things comprised of pixels.

translucent Jaguar console shell In May 2015 I purchased a translucent Atari Jaguar console and game cart shell from a company touting a new kind of cartridge-based game console. Called the Retro VGS, they bought the old Jaguar console molds from a dentist who'd used them to create housings for dental equipment. They wanted to use the molds to create shells for their upcoming game console.

translucent Jaguar console shell I was excited to hear about this project, even though it had nothing to do with Atari or the Jaguar outside of physical appearance. They wanted to bring a cartridge based game console to market with games that would last a lifetime and be playable without Internet connections and server farms. Alas, it turned out that they wanted to crowd fund $2 Million dollars without having a working prototype.

I'm glad I bought one of the shells they produced. I was thinking it would be fun to have as a Jaguar fan. I also thought it would be cool to own when the Retro VGS was released. Now It serves as a marker in time when modern gaming tried to go back to it's roots. I hope the Retro VGS can find a way to bring their cart-based console to market... with a slick Jag look!

When my son showed interest in video games and wanted a Wii, I made sure he had intermittent doses of Atari. We bagan with my old 7800 so we could also play 2600 titles and explored the various carts I had for the Atari 800 computer. He really enjoys Donkey Kong and DK Jr since he loves Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze.

I'm glad we began with the 2600 - it made the leap to the Jaguar an amazing change for my son. He was stunned at the difference between 8-bit and 64-bit. He assumed all of my "old" games were much the same. :)
November 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atariana Grande - Will video games meet the same fate as Rock & Roll?

Every now and then my vicious grip on rock & roll falters and I find myself humming a Taylor Swift song or listening to Ariana Grande on my drive to work. Pop songs have an odd way of sneaking into my world before I realize their presence. I've always been a heavy metal and rock fan, but these genres are falling off the map when it comes to radio play.

I know many people have given up on radio and have a smart phone full of music at their disposal. I've always loved radio and it's connection to the local community. While local TV brings news from the nearest metropolis, its probably not as "local" as what's on your radio. Radio used to be the pulse of the latest greatest music, but today, my favorite genres are all but gone from airwaves. Classic rock stations still play a lot of my favorite bands, but when was the last time you heard a recent Judas Priest, Van Halen, or Def Leppard song. They all have released albums recently... so where's the airplay? Gone the way of vinyl. Wait, vinyl has made an extraordinary comeback!

When was the last time a rock band won something on a televised music award show? It's been a long time. The music world seems to revolve around Pop stars and their latest hit song. Albums are seemingly irrelevant in a world full of 99-cent songs.

I can only hope that video games won't go down the same rabbit hole that music fell into. Diversity is what makes gaming fun. We can all enjoy unique elements, revel in our favorite diverse genres, and become excited about new horizons! Music used to be this exciting.

Atari 2600 joystick and Ariana Grande Each time my son comes to visit, we explore a new batch retro games and listen to the bands I grew up with. He loves Splatoon and Minecraft, but he also loves to play Wizard of Wor and Dig Dug. His friends may be influenced by the pop stars who dominate the free airwaves, but how many of those kids know that AC/DC and the Scorpions rock hard?

Kids are the future - ensure they bring a little bit of the past with them! Add diversity to your kid's life. :)
November 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I found this 2-in-1 Genesis/SNES Book, from Retro Gamer mag, at a local bookstore

I found this double book at a Barnes & Noble bookstore tonight. This is one of the many reasons I love dropping into local bookstores - you never know what gems you might find. I almost bought 2 of these before I realized both the Genesis and SNES info is combined in one volume.

I'm looking forward to reading it tonight. It seems to have a lot of good retro gaming stuff from several behind the scenes articles about epic series like Mega Man to top 25 game lists. It's fun to read through publications that focus on a single system. It's a nice change from the wider span of general gaming magazines on today's shelves.

Genesis/SNES book

Remember Next Generation magazine?

Next Generation magazine I'm not sure any mag will live up to Next Generation magazine in the 90's. There was something about that mag that really clicked with me. Each issue had something that intrigued me.

Today we focus on the big three manufacturers, but Next Generation was publishing during an era when consoles were being released fairly often - unlike the horrifically long 7th generation.

Another facet I enjoyed was their focus on the industry rather than on individual games. Next Generation began in January 1995 and went through several iterations before shuttering in January 2002. That time frame saw a lot of great consoles and games!
November 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

GameStop is taking pre-orders on the Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3ds and gold amiibo

Mega Man gold amiibo Set to arrive February 23, 2016 the Mega Man Legacy Collection is coming to the 3DS, PS4, Steam, and Xbox One. We previously looked at what gives this collection enhanced play options. Capcom recently suggested they might support Nintendo's next console, the NX. With that dubious commitment in mind, I guess it's little surprise that the Mega Man Legacy Collection is skipping the Wii U.

GameStop is taking pre-orders on the game bundled with a gold Mega Man amiibo. I'm sure this figure will begin another manic buying frenzy among amiibo fans. For me, I'm just after the game. Even though I have the Anniversary Collection on GameCube, I love to see these games preserved on modern consoles.

Too many games fall into obscurity - it's great to see Mega Man available to gamers who may never have owned or played an NES! Of course it's even better for those of us who grew up waiting for the next iteration to release!

Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3ds and gold amiibo
November 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Rings Of Power on Mega Drive/Genesis was a challenging & unlikely RPG to contain a topless Easter egg

Are Easter eggs, included in games and movies, for fun or profit? We see them across a variety of media from Warren Robinett's name in Atari's Adventure game to Stan Lee's Hitchcock-like cameos in his films. Most often these "surprises" are done in fun and likely give a chuckle to developers waiting to see when they are uncovered.

Rings of Power For Sega Mega Drive by Naughty Dog Most often Easter eggs are harmless things that can add a bit of fun or intrigue to a video game, movie, or other media. But when a video game's hidden surprise is a topless woman, you have to wonder if leaking it's existence might help bolster sales. Sex sells, right?

Rings of Power was both Difficult & Nonlinear

Rings Of Power was developed by Naughty Dog Software and published by Electronic Arts for Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis. The game was met with criticism due to it's difficulty. Few clues or maps made it difficult to know what to do or where to go. Those who enjoy intensive exploration liked the game very much, but many found it frustrating.

The game's nonlinear structure was often seen as a detriment. As you progress, you have to figure out which clues and items are important to which tasks. This game gets right into the heart of the argument over the typical difficulty of a game. Some will find it too hard, but there are many arguments about the relative ease of most games. This one is hard and not apologetic about it!

However, this difficulty may stem from Rings Of Power taking a different approach to the RPG genre. It came out in 1991 and wasn't focused on battles and leveling up your character for more power. While containing those elements, it is based in exploration and finding clues that enable you to solve the game's larger mystery. It's lack of information (hand holding) is part of it's charm.
Rings of Power's topless startup sequence Rings of Power's topless startup sequence Image link above displays 16-bit nudity - NSFW ;) Rings of Power game manual

An Unlikely Easter Egg for a Serious RPG Game

This game seems like a very unlikely candidate for a hidden controller combo that unlocks a topless image. It's especially odd as it's well hidden as an option available only on the Player 2 controller - in a single player game.

Getting back to the opening question above... is such a move to boost profit? Since this game took a much different approach to RPGs, was a the topless image placed to tempt additional sales? Did the developers feel the game might need a revenue boost from a scandalous image?

I ask this because there are plenty of games with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and those with edgy topics where a topless Easter egg would fit right in. But in a serious RPG? It seems very random and rather out of place. While we welcome nudity of all kinds, there must be an interesting back-story regarding this decision. Or was it a hidden revenge tactic by a disgruntled employee? Ooh, the plot thickens.

Rings of Power's controller sequence

The Egg's Access Code...

With the console powered down, use player-2's controller and hold down the D-pad in the diagonal Down/Right position (South East). Depress the A, B, C, and Start buttons. Then turn on the power. Unless you get creative with other appendages, you may need to enlist the help of a friend who is equally interested in a brief glimpse of 16-bit nudity.

If you're a fan of RPG games give Rings Of Power a try to see how it's game play differs from tradition. You may like it's focus and find it similar to early adventure-style games. If you're like me and not a fan of RPG gaming, we invite you to enjoy the nudity available in the game's start-up sequence - requiring no game play at all.
November 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Surge soda is sold in parts of the USA, but Burger King rolls it out nationwide Icee-style

Burger King rolls out frozen Surge Icees nationwide The story of a grassroots movement convincing the Coca Cola company to re-release Surge soda is pretty remarkable. I remember their logo, but I was a Mountain Dew fan at the time. However, I have to say I love te retro vibe around this whole campaign and the way it has grown.

Once Coca Cola had been won over, Surge began by appearing as an online Amazon offering. It seems that test was successful enough for Surge to be distributed across the South East and Midwestern US. Alas, I don't live in a Surge-friendly sales region, but I read that Burger King was going to begin selling Surge nationwide today (Nov. 16).

After work, I stopped at a local Burger King and was astonished and excited to see a picture of their frozen Surge beverage on the overhead menu board. I ordered one to the befuddlement of the clerk. He insisted that I had to choose Coke or Cherry flavor. Nope, I wanted surge... the green one.

Finally, he looked up at the menu and was somewhat perplexed about the picture of the green Icee beverage. He stated their machine only had Coke and Cherry. When I asked if they would be getting Surge, he replied, No. OK... why is there a picture of it on their menu? I'm confident that Surge's citrus power will prevail and be distributed in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile if you've been wondering what Pauley Shore has been up to... I'm not sure, but he's returned as a 90's icon to pitch Surge via video and social media. This scene is getting more retro by the minute!

Pauley Shore for Surge soda Keep an eye out for Surge at your local retailers and in frozen form at Burger King!
November 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Starforce PI tabletop mini-arcade is portable, has HDMI, and is on Kickstarter

Not long ago we wrote about this cool Raspberry PI based arcade unit, The Starforce PI, and loved it! While reminiscent of the tabletop games I played in the late 70s and early 80s, this unit has some great modern features like HDMI output and a rechargeable battery. Check out the Starforce PI Kickstarter campaign for more info.

The Starforce PI tabletop mini-arcade The ability to connect it to a TV is the main selling point for me. I see a lot of value in it's moderate portability, but I love the large screen compatibility. Next to that, the micro-switch joystick and buttons will give it both an arcade feel and durability!

I cringe when I see the enormous MAME cabinets being displayed around the Internet. They are ideal for some folks, but I like the compact nature of the Starforce PI. Combined with it's arcade-quality parts and ability to play games from arcades to consoles, this is a wonderful idea! I'm glad to see how much time and effort has gone into perfecting it's design. That gives me confidence that the unit is robust and will provide many years of gaming.

Check out the Starforce PI website and Kickstarter page for more info as well as their Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you like what you see, we hope you'll back this project.
November 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Do your amiibo display stands come with soup? Yeah, I didn't think so :)

When I saw this cheap plastic amiibo display stand at Best Buy for $15 I was a bit angry. I'm all for this amiibo craze, but this was nothing but a plastic trinket - how about $4.99?

A recent trip to the grocery store led me to a much better (cheaper and delicious) amiibo stand... AND it comes with soup! Top that! :)

The Starforce PI tabletop mini-arcade It never hurts to have a few cans of Campbell's Soup around the house for a quick and simple meal when you don't feel like going out. And the Mario & Luigi theme works well as an alternate amiibo stand.
November 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cheez-It Groves are slowly moving up my gaming snack list

The diversity of video games knows no bounds. With consoles and games that span the last few decades, I can always find something "new-to-me" that will provide a jolt of amazement. Finding the right snack can be more of a challenge.

It's not about hunger or sustenance. I simply want a snack that compliments the monumental awesomeness of an epic golden age arcade game!

Cheez-It Groves game snack
November 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“Coleco - The Complete History” book has been funded on Kickstarter- get yourself a copy

Although this Coleco book project already reached it's Kickstarter funding goal I urge you to sign on to get a copy and help boost the stretch goals. This looks to be a great book about one of my favorite under-rated game consoles! It's described as a beautiful look back on the amazing journey of a very American company that pioneered in so many ways.

Coleco - The Complete History Based in Montreal, Antoine Clerc-Renaud produces a magazine (in French) on the local video game industry in Quebec. He's turned his passion for retro games into a publishing company that will specialize in books focused on video game history. He has chosen to begin with Coleco - a great choice and a great console that deserves a detailed historical account.

Coleco - The Complete History book The focus of the book will be Coleco's game consoles and gaming accessories even though they have created a wide variety of products over their lifetime (including swimming pools). He promises many pictures and info from those who worked at Coleco during their video game era.

I was deep into the Atari 2600 when the Colecovision was released, but I played it with friends who owned one. There's no denying it was a remarkable console that could play the entire Atari 2600 game library via a module providing 2600 compatibility.

Coleco also made games directly for the 2600 like Venture, Donkey Kong, and Mr. Do. Coleco's games for the 2600 were better than most native Atari games.

Check out their Coleco Kickstarter campaign and follow along on Twitter. Hopefully this wil be a terrific start to a series of historical books about video gaming.
November 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

We all stand by France #PrayForParis

We all stand by France #PrayForParis
November 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It's hard to ignore the Star Wars hype, but I want to enjoy the film, not compare it to trailers

Star Wars logo I first saw Star Wars at the theater in Tyson's Corner. As a kid in 1977 I thought it was great! It would be decades before I ever knew it was technically the fourth movie in what I thought was a trilogy.

In those days, the local theater was the best way to see such films. They were grand on the big screen.

As the trilogy unfolded in the early 1980s I remember buying a graphic novel of Return Of The Jedi. That tome went everywhere with me as I read and re-read the story while the film's vivid images flew through my mind. That was a great Summer! The Empire Strikes Back video game was available for my Atari 2600, forming the perfect Star Wars trifecta of film, comics, and video games.

I was excited for each Star Wars film release - even the 3 prequel films. I wanted to know how the story would continue. What would happen? There were sure to be twists, turns, and new story arcs unfolding. It was a great time not to have an Internet full of fans dissecting each frame of each trailer with speculation running rampant. One's imagination ran wild with what might happen in the next installment.

Star Wars Storm Trooper cosplay Living for Star Wars means different things to different people. It doesn't have to be a frantic obsession.

Ignoring the Hype

With social media sending BTS photos and info directly from the film set and a myriad of trailers and promo pieces splashed across any website willing to post them, it's hard to escape the hype. In the past hype has killed my desire to see many movies. I grow tired of all the info and speculation to the point at which I don't care what may happen in the actual film.

Official Star Wars The Force Awakens poster
Trailers rarely inspire interest more than they erode it.
Having experienced the entire Star Wars series in theaters, beginning in my childhood, I decided to cast aside all the modern trappings of promotion that seem to do more damage than good. Episodes II & III didn't resound with me, but I think Abrams has the ability to restore the awesomeness of Star Wars in the upcoming The Force Awakens film.

With that in mind, I opted to ignore all of the Internet and TV promotion. While elements of promotion scatter across the web, I've not been tempted to click on a trailer or read any "inside info" about the upcoming film.

I'm hoping to experience it as I did as a kid - with excitement, not a desire to see if #7 can live up to the hype. Star Wars is an epic tale best experienced on the big screen. I would hate to have it ruined by a Facebook post I chose to view while waiting on line at the supermarket.
November 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Will interest in Virtual Reality stretch beyond a mall kiosk this holiday season?

A few days ago a Virtual Reality kiosk popped up at my local mall. Among venders of e-cigs, sports memorabilia, plush toys, and mysterious beauty creams; VR Pro has a kiosk in the center corridor. Surrounded by the likes of Talbots, Kay Jewelers, and Eddie Bauer, this kiosk was as dormant as the others in the cluster.

I've read numerous articles proclaiming 2016 would be the holiday season when consumers would embrace Virtual Reality. "VR will be here to stay," they decried. I see articles about Sony's Project Morpheus, Oculus Rift and a variety of smartphone solutions, but Best Buy (in the same mall) has only a few Google Cardboard styled solutions. Nowhere near the PS4 or Xbox One demo consoles do I see an HMD (Head Mounted Display) equivalent. Perhaps it's tucked away behind their vast array of refrigerators and laundry centers.

VR Pro kiosk at a shopping mall VR certainly has the potential to become a huge market segment. We've written several articles as to why we feel it's still not consumer-ready. Among it's detriments- the technology is proprietary with no common standards, it's expensive, and it hasn't done something remarkable enough to garner consumer interest or spending.

Why is this technology constantly being pushed? It seems as though it's been "on the cusp of acceptance" for decades. Let's assume it will catch on when consumers demand it. When the mass-market consumers feel they need it - that's when VR will "catch on". Until then, lets begin to think of the scenarios that can be improved via an HMD strapped to our faces.
November 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Night Dive Studios preserves retro games by bringing them back from extinction

If you're a retro gamer, you should know about Night Dive Studios and their take on video game preservation. We've written several articles about this important topic, but this studio has taken an interesting and unique route towards the preservation of games.

Atari breakfast Too often I think about rescuing a box of NES carts from the trash or learning how to fix the issues that plague older consoles. It never occurred to me how many games simply need to be rescued from obscurity!

With price guides in-hand, collectors storm yard sales and flea markets looking for the elusive game carts not yet obtained. As these games are taken from the wild and go into the hands of collectors, they stand a much better chance of becoming valued rather than discarded in the trash. This is a good thing, but there's another sector of games that face challenges when it comes to preservation.

As a console gamer, I tend to think of the physical aspects of games - carts, consoles, accessories. A lot of things can happen to a game beyond winding up in a landfill. There are a lot of legal issues in the gaming industry, especially when a studio shuts down and it's assets sold to the highest bidder. Fast Company published an interesting article about Night Dive's work, by Jared Newman, and how they bring games back to life on modern platforms after languishing in arbitrated limbo.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Legal Entanglement

What Night Dive studios does is insanely cool! Being a developer is more than the traditional roles we hear about. It sounds as though Night Dive does a fair amount of detective work to secure rights to old games.

Imagine the number of games that have disappeared due to studios closing and their assets being sold off. These sales are transfers of ownership. One seeking rights to re-publish a game from a defunct studio needs to secure rights from the owner.

Determining the owner can be difficult when so many different entities have a hand in both game development and subsequent sale of assets. Bringing a game back to life can be an uphill battle before a single line of code is written.

As they say on their website:
Movies are restored, Books are digitized, and Art is preserved to be appreciated for all time. Why should Games be any different? We know there are countless games that are still unavailable, and we're doing our best to bring them back from the depths to be treasured once more.

System Shock 2 for Windows

Detectives & Coders

Night Dive Studios was founded in 2013 by game designer Stephen Kick as a different kind of game studio. Recognizing the loss of many great games to outside circumstances seemed to foster a desire to bring them back. It apparently started with System Shock 2. Unable to get the game working, led to tracking down the rights-holder, an insurance company in Michigan. After some negotiating, Kick was able to bring the title back.

That quest led to more of the same and they seem to have restored over 80 games from various eras and made them run on modern operating systems. They are able to turn around these aged titles much faster than traditional game dev cycles, but the twists and turns of obtaining rights is a large part of the journey to bringing certain games to life again.

We highly recommend you check out the Night Dive site and read Jared Newman's Fast Company article (both linked above). We are very impressed with how Night Dive has chosen to run their company. As with any effort to preserve retro gaming, we love what these guys do and their willingness to navigate both legal channels and the games' aging code.
November 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, start it with Atari

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it makes sense to do it right. A game of Atari in the morning makes the typical drudgery of getting ready for work much better! Have some Moon Patrol with your meal!

Atari breakfast Bacon Joystick If you don't follow the Food Pyramid, try aligning with the Game Plate.
November 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Why Sony's termination announcement of Betamax cassette sales is important to media format choices

If you don't learn from your mistakes... you are doomed to repeat them. Yep - I liked vinyl albums, Betamax, LaserDisc, and currently I'm not fond of today's digital-access model being forced on nearly all forms of media!

Betamax logo For those of you who jumped on the VHS bandwagon in the 80's - you suck! OK, perhaps that's a bit harsh, but Beta was the superior format. The Betamax was an amazing machine and reached iconic status in the first video format war.

Just because the local Mom & Pop rental shop catered to the advances of VHS (especially in their immensely popular "porn" area) was no reason to adopt a low-quality format. On a side note, the long delay in CED VideoDisc release caused the loss to laserDisc and VCRs by their mere existence - CED was old-tech upon it's release.

When it came to VCRs you didn't need a side-by-side comparison to see the difference! VHS was abysmal, from the display quality to the awful recording lengths offered on their cassettes. Beta was better!

For me, the most surprising facet of Betamax is the timeline. The Betamax came on the market in the mid 1970s and Sony still manufactures Beta cassettes! However, stories began swirling around the Net about Sony's announcement to end the manufacturing of Beta cassettes in March 2016. How many people knew you could still buy Beta tapes? Not me.

Format Wars

Beta -vs- VHS was one of the first media wars to have a dramatic impact on consumer choices. In that pre-Internet era, information wasn't readily available about the 2 formats or which one was best. Mom & Pop video shops ruled the movie rental world before the larger chains came on the scene. VHS was the dominant format when it came to a friday night trip to the video store. Every shop had a wide selection of VHS movies and a small area with Beta movies.

Sony Betamax cassette Ultimately, the selection of pre-recorded movies won that format war. If you wanted a diverse selection of titles, you needed to have VHS. Consumers seemed much less interested in the image quality. I have never met anyone who wouldn't admit that the Betamax delivered far better image quality.

The same thing happened when DVD began to challenge LaserDisc. LaserDisc delivered slightly better picture quality, but were not without their drawbacks. LD was not a recordable medium. You couldn't buy blank discs and record movies and TV shows the way a VCR could. Additionally, their lower compression rate necessitated having content on both sides of the disc - you had to flip them over to continue watching. We simply considered that an intermission. ;)

Consumers Don't Always Win

I've often thought that DVD was an effort to deliver video in the same footprint that CDs delivered audio. An exercise in conformity rather than improved quality. Compact Disc was a successful format, but not only because of it's form factor. CDs are one of the few formats I feel really benefited consumers. CDs delivered much better audio quality than previous formats and offered the ability to record. The popular audio format transcended it's own "players" to be integrated into computers, which expanded their utility greatly.

In the cloud or on your shelf... Technology decisions must be right for YOU!
Not all successive formats delivered superior quality. Sony's decision to end Beta Tape production serves as an excellent reminder about the duration of great technology. Living in an information age affords us better access to information, but we now have to be careful about who we believe when evaluating the products we endorse with our wallets.

As we enter further influences of our digital age, be careful when you're told it's OK to purchase music, movies, or video games via download. Upon buying such digital merchandise, what do you really own? An item stored in the "cloud" is very different than the same item stored on your living room shelf.

I feel we are being trained to accept an ownership model where we don't own anything tangible that we can hold in our own hands. Being able to watch a movie or listen to a song on my phone isn't ownership when I look at my DVD and CD collection.

People can make their own choices about stocking up on Betamax cassettes before they disappear, but regardless of the media format be certain your decisions are based on what's best for YOU! As we move forward with media formats and digital formats without physical counterparts, it's important to ensure that consumers are getting the best possible product. Manufacturers only want to deliver the cheapest product they can get away with. Technology is becoming more about economics than quality and real improvements. Buyer beware. VHS won the format war by exploiting market trends, not by delivering the best possible product - Sony's Betamax delivered the quality.
November 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I don't recall the Lizzie McGuire soliloquy where she becomes a Wild Gunman

The tabloids are trying to fabricate news out of a potential gun purchase by actress, Hillary Duff. If the paparazzi want to peg her as a Wild Gunman, we can't resist delving into Nintendo's arcade game brought to the NES in just the right era for a Back To The Future II appearance.

Lizzie McGuire star, Hillary Duff bought a Glock It's been reported that former Lizzie McGuire star, Hillary Duff bought a Glock. I'm not sure this is of any importance since she may have purchased a power-drill and a bottle of shampoo rather than a gun. But after all of Lizzie's soliloquies it makes one smirk a little bit - many of her self-induced convos would have had better outcomes with some firepower. :)
Wild Gunman for NES As for Wild Gunman, the recent Back To The Future II Day gave reason for everyone from USA Today and Pepsi to Nike and Nintendo to join in the anniversary. Nintendo brought it's NES game Wild Gunman to the Virtual Console. A version of it was used in the 80's Cafe in BTTF II, in an arcade cabinet.

This electro-mechanical Nintendo arcade game was released in 1974 and later updated for it's 1985 NES release. Like the original, the NES version used the zapper light-gun.

November 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Villager amiibo goes from collectible to re-stocked

Villager amiibo When amiibo began showing up on store shelves last year, I didn't own any console hardware that would make use of them. To me they were simply collectible figurines. I bought Mega Man and Pac-Man amiibo since they were retro icons from a great era in gaming. I was also interested in the Villager and Wii Fit Trainer because they were such unlikely characters to be released as amiibo.

Now that I have a Wii U and an NFC Reader for my 2DS these figurines take on a whole new meaning. My son was excited to dive into the Splatoon 3-pack of figures for the extra challenges and rewards they offered. I was interested to see what features the Chibi Robo amiibo would bring to Zip Lash.

About a month ago, my local Toys R Us got 4 Wii Fit Trainer figures on one of the days I did not stop in. Isn't that how it always goes? But that gave me hope that I might find one on a shelf rather than on auction. I don't need one that badly.The dearth of these early figures gave them a natural collectability.

The massive restocking of Nintendo's Villager figure ruined it for me.
Recently I heard that TRU was getting a large restocking of Villager figures. Ordinarily, this would have excited me, but part of the thrill was it's rarity. If Nintendo cranks out a hefty batch and keeps shelves stocked, it's not quite as desirable. None the less, I went out to TRU and picked up a Villager.

Unlike other releases, they only had 4 on the shelves, but I heard most stores received close to 50 Villagers. TRU usually puts all the amiibo stock on the shelves when it arrives. This time they seemed to be restocking in stealth-mode as figures were sold. Sneaky :)

Best Buy's Expensive Warp Pipe Stands

A few weeks ago I saw these amiibo stands mixed in with the amiibo figures on Best Buy's shelves. It caught my eye due to the unique packaging with the amiibo logo and Nintendo seal under the product bubble. It took me a few minutes to discover what they were. It was priced at $14.99 (most retailers were at $9.99) so I assumed it was some sort of NFC thing. Nope - just a cheap plastic stand. I did not buy one!

Warp Pipe amiibo stand I thought the Warp Pipe Stand packaging was very cool as it fit in with the figures, but was distinctively different... and over priced.
Warp Pipe amiibo stand I'm sure a lot of people bought this thinking it was an amiibo figure with NFC abilities.

November 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It only took me 30 years to find a storage solution for my NES cartridges

As the NES lost favor to it's successor, the SNES, the individual NES storage cases were very inexpensive. For about $20 I outfitted my entire NES collection with the protective cases used in rental stores like BlockBuster. I was pretty stoked to do this so cheaply.

However, the carts still needed to be stored in a box. Over time that box needed to be replaced - several times. I was never able to find a good plastic tub to store them in. The odd size of the NES carts - inside their individual cases - were always too tall for most of the storage solutions I found. Yeah, I was pretty picky about it.

Finally I found a low-height tub that holds a lot of carts in a single row, and isn't too heavy to lug around. It only took me 30 years - success! :)

NES storage tubs I'm sure there are plenty of plastic tubs that would have sufficed, but I really wanted one that held a singe row of games without a lot of wasted space and wouldn't be too heavy.
November 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The video game packaging that once told epic stories will become: Box Art- A Gaming Documentary

Video Game Box art was glorious, colorful, exciting, telling, but sometimes misleading. Back in the day, I knew I had to have Space Invaders and Asteroids for my Atari 2600, but what was Yar's Revenge? The weaponized insect on the box cover looked hardcore and the small screen shot on the back was different from any game I'd ever seen. I was sold! When I put that cart into my 2600, I knew I'd found a gem. That box art began a story that continued on my parent's TV and left me with vivid memories that I now share with my son!

Box Art Documentary If you love gaming box art... The team that created the Nintendo Quest documentary, are back with Box Art - A Gaming Documentary to explore the origins, people, and history of box art in the video game world!

The film will delve into the world of video game box art with a story that probes the origins of the cover art by talking with the people responsible for making some of the most iconic images we love. Learn the process, impact, how things changed over time, and where box art will be in the future.

Keep up to date via their Box Art Doc website , Facebook, and Twitter accounts. If you followed Nintendo Quest on social media, you know these guys will immerse you in their journey often providing unprescedented access. We're loking forward to this new path into gaming box art.

In A World Without Info...

Imagine a world with no Internet. A life in which information had little real-time connection and was often out of date long before it reached it's intended audience. This sounds like a post-apocalyptic scenario, but in tandem with this odd world... the economy was booming, retail was thriving, and people were happy.

"Impossible!" you say. Hardly. It was an era I remember fondly. We called it the 1980s.

Games at Toys R Us in 2007 I loved arcades in the 80s and the ports to the Atari 2600 were amazing to me. I knew the arcade versions were far superior, but being able to play these games at home was way cool. However, there were a lot of original games designed for home game consoles that were unknown to consumers.

Yar's Revenge, for example, arrived on store shelves without anyone knowing it evolved from a failed Star Castle port. It became one of Atari's most successful games, but who would have known how good it was when it was first released?

Box Art -vs- Game Play

Prior to the Internet, it was hard to get the word out about new games. It was equally hard to get reviews or info about new games. Once the NES had a foothold, the problem intensified - there were lots of games on retail shelves, and it only got worse.. How were we to figure out which ones were good? The box art! Many of us used those beautiful artist's interpretations as a guide to the inner contents. This resulted in some successes as well as the purchase of some awful games wrapped in beautiful artwork.

During the early NES era, I could easily spend hours flipping through the laminated box covers adorning the gaming aisles in Toys R Us. I loved space battles, so that was the first thing I looked for. After identifying some candidates, I would begin examining the back-sides of the laminated packaging to see what morsels of info I could glean. After all, this was my hard earned money I was wagering on finding an awesome game.

Video game box art The wealth of information on the web makes evaluating games much easier than simply relying on box art. None the less, many of us have an affinity for the elaborate box art that sometimes gave valid hints about a game's content.

Statistically I think I bought an equal amount of bad games with great artwork as great games with awful artwork. There was no correlation between good art and good games, but that didn't stop me from believing. I'm surprised I don't walk down the game aisle with dowsing rods to find that perfect game. :)

I started out as an Atari kid and graduated to Nintendo, but there are many different consoles and computers, each with their own unique games and amazing box art. Having been very impressed with the quality and professionalism that went into the Nintendo Quest project, I'm confident that Rob McCallum's next film, Box Art- A Gaming Documentary, will be a terrific foray into the art adorning our favorite video games. It's an exciting topic that we're really looking forward to following!
November 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mario amiibo invades Disney Infinity

Mario Infinity amiibo
November 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My Mom never played Super Street Fighter II with me

Several days ago Women's Tennis Pro Serena Williams posted a picture of a Hypperkin SupaBoy on her Instagram account. It clearly shows a Super Street Fighter II cartridge and her comment, "Saturday with Mom."

Serena and her Mom play video games together? Retro games? That's pretty cool :)

SupaBoy handheld SNES game console However, I'll still root for Maria Sharapova.
November 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Console Crusaders' new album, Synthality, is an epic retrosynth-style Mortal Kombat tribute

Console Crusaders album Synthality Console Crusaders album Synthality recreates the unforgettable music from the original Mortal Kombat trilogy. Brought to you by 30th Floor Records - dedicated to bringing you the most exciting electronic artists around.

Synthality features 22 tracks by a collective of electronic producers. Each track is ordered by the stages as they appeared throughout each game. As with all Console Crusaders works, these are not simply cover versions, these are full blown reinterpretations according to each artist's unique sound and vision.

We also loved Console Crusaders' Synths Of Rage album and think you'll find Synthality similarly awesome! Be sure to also check out 30th Floor Records' Bandcamp site for all of their offerings. RIDE THE SYNTHWAVE!
November 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If you're seeking a new Christmas ritual, we'd like to suggest Santa's Special Delivery

Santa's Special Delivery Is it the chill in the Autumn air? Could it be the colorful leaves drifting from the trees? Maybe it's the holiday spirit that's been enveloping the lands since mid-September when the supermarket put up their fake Christmas tree.

Whatever it is, you know the holidays are near and it's time to help Santa deliver presents to all the good boys and girls. As for the rotten kids who don't even deserve coal, Cerulean Games has just the thing in a delightfully crude holiday game Santa's Special Delivery. Fly through the air delivering gifts and when you encounter one of those wretched kids, give 'em code brown from Santa's downtown.

We discovered this nasty holiday treat last Xmas on Android and Ouya. This year you can enjoy Santa's Special Delivery on Macintosh, Linux, and PC! You can help get this game on on Steam Greenlight - give them a vote.

Santa's Special Delivery has a great retro look & feel along with a chiptune soundtrack. You can even download it's sonic genius from their website! It's hard not to smile when playing this game. It's simple to play and makes a great conversation piece when you're playing it at the office Xmas party.

It features Crude holiday themed humor, exploding reindeer, exploding houses, festive chiptune music, and more. It's the game that keeps on giving. Get your copy today!

Santa's Special Delivery Cerulean Games' Santa's Special Delivery was deemed too extreme by Apple. Thus it is only available on Android. As much as one hates to see it limited in such a manner, we all know this is just another great reason to get this game! Kinda makes you wanna go 'Droid and perch Santa on that naughty kid's chimney. Happy holidays are assured because tasteless humor never goes out of style.
November 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Soda has been riding the retro wave recently via revived brands and pop culture classics

Back in the day I was a soda fanatic and lusted after Jolt Cola. Baring that, I was all over Cherry Coke, Mountain Dew, and A&W Root Beer. Over the years, various soda companies have experimented with some pretty odd ideas and flavors. Some caught on while others faded into their own obscurity.

The retro movement has really spanned all of pop culture from video games and action figures to toys and even food items. Soda has had a resurgence as both a pop culture icon and taste treat. Who'd have thought Pepsi Perfect would emerge or that SURGE would come back. Did fans of Fallout ever expect to find Nuka-Cola Quantum for sale at Target? Retro is a fascinating ride :)

Surge soda The Coca-Cola Company created SURGE soda in the late 90's to compete with Mt. Dew. Lagging sales led to it's discontinuation several years later. A fan-based campaign hounded Coke about re-releasing SURGE via a SURGE Movement Facebook page.

Coke gave in and released SURGE in September 2014 via Amazon Prime ini the USA and later in limited retail markets. Last I heard, SURGE was available in the South, Mid West and parts of the North East. Not bad for a fan brigade!
Nuka-Cola Quantum Bethesda Softworks partnered with Jones Soda to bring Nuka-Cola Quantum to life exclusively at Target in the Fall of 2015. This blue soda first appeared in 2008's Fallout 3 video game.

With the Back To The Future II anniversary, Pepsi jumped in with a very limited run of Pepsi Perfect, as seen in the movie. Apparently fans wanted more and Pepsi agreed to sell it again on their website.

Pepsi Perfect
November 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Activision Blizzard purchases King, maker of Candy Crush Saga, for a multi-billion dollar fortune

When I think of Activision, I think Pitfall, not Call Of Duty. I've always liked the story of the disgruntled programmers, in the 1980s, bonding together to form Activision and prove that those writing the code were indeed deserving of credit. After all, they created the games we loved playing.

Fast forward a few decades and how many of those 80s companies are still active? Activision has persevered and managed to stay in the spotlight as the gaming industry evolved and it's customers demanded more.

In late 2007 mergers were happening that created Activision Blizzard. In late 2015 Activision bought mobile game company, King. This 5.9 billion dollar transaction gives Activision an instant presence in mobile gaming. King was mainly known for their Candy Crush mobile games involving matching puzzle-based game play.

King had wild success with this seemingly simplistic game and went on to create spin-offs. Similar to what Rovio did with Angry Birds, King suddenly had a lot of the "same game" making up a significant share of revenue. Rovio wasn't able to grow the Angry Birds series to keep pace with player interest and lost a lot over time. King was seeing some of this effect as well. King's success also led to many similar games by other developers which flooded the market with bright-colored matching games. Too many, if one were to ask me.

Pitfall Candy Crush I'll always go first to Activision's Atari 2600 titles like Skiing, River Raid, Kaboom, and of course Pitfall! I was also a fan of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise that I first discovered on the GameCube. With recent stories of Konami showing more interest in mobile gaming, it will be interesting to see how the King acquisition affects Activision. Regardless, I'll still favor my beloved 2600 cartridges - from an era when gaming was focused on having fun!

October 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

October 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy 8-Bit Halloween!

Stay safe out there on your ghoulish trick-or-treat quest!

Happy 8-Bit Halloween
October 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Swedish rock band, Europe, gets a download boost of their 30-year-old hit, from a Geico ad

My understanding of why advertisers use classic rock songs in commercials is - cost. Almost anything can be tracked back to the money, right? Once a song has passed a certain age, it becomes much cheaper to use it as background music in an ad. You may have thought it was due to all those hip dudes in advertising who appreciate classic rock. Alas, it is more likely they simply can't afford to use the latest Taylor Swift tune.

I'm OK with that... as a fan of classic rock. In recent years, I've greatly enjoyed the family singing Ozzy's Crazy Train in a Honda car commercial as well as Judas Priest's Electric Eye appearing in Honda's minivan ad.

Currently in rotation is a Geico insurance ad featuring Swedish rock band Europe playing "The Final Countdown." As an office worker waits for the counter on a microwave oven we hear the familiar wailing of The Final Countdown.

It's hard to say how impactful such an ad really is... not for Geico, but for the band. Obviously they are paid for the commercial itself, but its surprising to me how it effects the band's music sales. Hearing that memorable chorus really brings back memories of when that song ruled the radio charts in 1986. You may be surprised at how many others got a kick out of seeing Europe again and delved back into their music catalog.

Europe - The Final Countdown Geico has breathed a bit of new life into this Europe song. Billboard reports since Geico started running a commercial featuring Europe's The Final Countdown,the song is seeing quite a resurgence in sales. Before the commercial aired, Europe sold about a thousand downloads of the song per week for the past two years. In the five weeks since the ad ran, Europe sold 31,000 downloads of The Final Countdown. It tops Billboards Hard Rock Digital Songs chart.
October 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today, 32 years after Pyromania, Def Leppard released a new self-titled CD

Today I bought a new magazine about old games and a new CD from an old band - both from the UK! It was a good day!

Def Leppard's new CD was rleeased today I loved Def Leppard in the 80s, discovering them when Pyromania was released in January 1983. At the time I knew they had 2 previous albums, but didn't know they formed in 1977. Then, after all these years, I realized I'd never bought a copy of it - so I was stoked to find Pyromania at Best Buy.

Today, in an odd twist of fate, Newbury Comics had sold out of Def Leppard's new self titled CD, so I found myself buying it at Best Buy. It's kind of ironic to find 2 Def Leppard CDs at Best Buy in a month - one a new release and the other 3 decades old. I love retro!
October 30, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Will Namco re-boot their arcade favorite as Galaga Assault via Raw Thrills videmption?

Galaga Assault videmption An article on Arcade Heroes suggests that Namco may be in the testing phase of releasing Galaga, in partnership with Raw Thrills, as a videmption game. Galaga Assault is listed on Namco's UK site. A thread on Neogaf mentions a Galaga Assault sighting in Illinois the Summer of 2014.

This suggests to me that Namco may be testing the cabinet to see how the game performs in the wild. Galaga is certainly a favorite from the golden age. I see Galaga (and the Galaga/Ms. Pac-Man combo cabs) fairly often in my travels, so it seems like a great game to revive. There's a lot of excitement about this, but I wonder about the game play.

The game consists of 2 stages. You begin by annihilating 100 enemies for points. If successful you move on to the Mothership and claiming the jackpot if you destroy the ship. As far as redemption, it runs on a points-to-ticket conversion. Like other Raw Thrills games, it also provides QR Codes to scan and the ability to buy more ships. I'm not familiar with "buying more ships" outside of the obvious scenario of putting in more money to continue.

Addition of Redemption

The purpose of redemption is speed. Regardless of the type of device, the goal is to get as many people playing as possible. This is largely achieved by devising short games. We see this with Pindemption where the traditional pinball game is shortened to ensure many players rather than a skilled player occupying the table for an hour.

A nice facet of some of the pindemption tables is their ability to be converted to a standard pinball game. In other words it is not necessarily a dedicated redemption machine and can toggle between redemption and regular pinball by the owner/operator. A similar mention with Galaga Assault is something called "Amusement Mode". I'm hoping that this means it can play a standard Galaga game as well as the redemption version.

Galaga Assault videmption To be honest, aside from keeping the Galaga name alive on a 42" LCD Screen at 1080p HD, I'm not too interested in a videmption version. I can play the arcade original at my local movie theater as well as on several home consoles.

There's certainly a strong desire to give Galaga Assault a whirl, but I'd be far more excited about it if I thought there as an amusement mode that offered a real Galaga gaming experience, rather than a shortened redemption version.

As for the Raw Thrills connection - They're a company I tend to revere more than most as it's headed by Eugene Jarvis who created arcade greats like Robotron: 2084 and Defender. Coupled with Namco, this makes me feel that they will develop Galaga Assault with a stronger regard for the original Galaga.

There are 2 arcades near me that often have Raw Thrills games, so I'm hoping that Galaga Assault will appear someday!
October 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

An archeologist from the 2014 Atari Dig in NM challenges Alamogordo and Atari to shape up

I thought the Excavation of the fabled Atari landfill in Alamogordo, MN was both fascinating and successful. Through social media, I was riveted to my screen as they dug and dug and dug and found a ton of Atari artifacts (I call 'em games). The town donated some of the recovered games to museums and auctioned others on eBay.

Atari dig artifacts In and open letter to Atari and the NM EPA (reprinted below), one of the archeologists who was on site for the dig in April 2014 wants to exhume more games.

I'm not sure I understand the intent of this letter when the New Mexico EPA is certainly aware of e-waste procedures and Atari is simply a name that has been bought by numerous entities who attempt to squeeze profit from it's initial success.

I'm all for reopening the dig site and puling out all those discarded games. However, my desires are selfish as I simply want to roll naked in a large pile of filthy Atari products. Call me crazy, but I doubt I'm the only one with this thought :)


Reprint of Andrew Reinhard's open letter:

Frederic Chesnais, CEO and Chairman of the Board

Auralie Ashley-Marx, Bureau Chief
New Mexico Environment Department

Dear Frederic Chesnais and Auralie Ashley-Marx:

As you will likely recall, in April 2014 employees and citizens of the City of Alamogordo, New Mexico partnered with two media companies (Fuel Entertainment and Lightbox Media) to successfully discover, excavate, and then rebury the "Atari Dump Site" where Atari, Inc. had dumped over 800,000 video games, documentation, and hardware in 1983. A team of archaeologists was on-site during the excavation, and I had the very good fortune to be included as the team-leader.

Thanks to the incredible efforts of Joe Lewandowski at the city's old landfill, he was able to pinpoint where to dig over the weekend of April 25, 2014. The success netted over 1,300 recovered games, which were later distributed to museums worldwide as well as to buyers on eBay. Nearly 18 months later with the documentary Atari: Game Over still streaming on Netflix and several papers published in professional archaeological journals, one might think that the story of the Atari dump is over. I would disagree.

By locating the deposit of games and gaming hardware within the context of a landfill, the Atari deposit should now be classed as e-waste. I would like to know if Atari, SA (or its holding company Atari, Inc., or trademark holder Atari Interactive), and/or the State of New Mexico have any plans to revisit the dump-site, recover the remaining Atari e-waste, and dispose of it according to current solid waste management practice?

It would seem to me to be the right thing for Atari, SA to do as part of its corporate responsibility as it (and its related companies) recovers from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and rebuilds the brand. It would also seem appropriate for the State of New Mexico to fully excavate the Atari landfill cell, removing the e-waste for proper recycling instead of letting the plastic and metal cartridges and chips continue to occupy the desert a few hundred yards from US 54 in town. Granted, laws governing the disposal of e-waste were likely enacted in New Mexico after 1983, and the dump will have been grandfathered in under old laws. Be that as it may, I should hope that the State would consider doing the environmentally responsible thing anyway.

I am also writing out of a sense of enlightened self-interest. As an archaeologist, and one who was present for the Atari excavation, I would love to be able to finish what we started, to examine and document the full extent of the Atari dump. We only reached the tip of the iceberg last year. Excavating the rest of the games would benefit archaeological science, too.

By completing the full excavation of the Atari dump from 1983:
  1. Atari, SA could improve its corporate image, build its Atari brand, and turn this into positive publicity as it restarts its interactive entertainment division;
  2. The State of New Mexico could recover and recycle (or continue to sell) the Atari e-waste, netting a positive impact on the environment while potentially recovering costs through sales;
  3. Archaeologists, garbologists, historians, gamers, and the general public would get the complete picture of the now-historic Atari burial, the first (and likely only example) of its kind.
Thank you for considering the above. I am quite willing to volunteer my time in order to help plan and complete this project.

For your reference, the original find-spot of the Atari e-waste is: 32.887941, -105.963671 at a depth of 10 meters below the surface.


Andrew Reinhard, Archaeogaming
October 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Could Dirk the Daring be heading to a theater near you in Dragons Lair?

How many of you remember helping Dirk the Daring rescue Princess Daphne? Those familiar with Cinematronics' revolutionary 1983 arcade game Dragon's Lair will want to check out a project involving animator Don Bluth. He and producer Gary Goldman have collaborated on several animated projects and are helping to take this story to the big screen in the form of a full length movie!

Dragon's Lair arcade marquee A Dragon's Lair Kickstarter campaign is already underway, but be certain you understand it's goals and purpose. Most crowd funding for such a project results in backers receiving a copy of the film. As you may know, animated films are time consuming and costly to create, thus the Kickstarter will fund a ~10 minute short film that will later be used to entice investors into bringing in the big bucks. Be aware of the risks as the movie industry is a whacky place with no guarantees.

That aside, I'd love to see Dragon's Lair adapted to fit in at the multiplex! Bluth was the animator on the arcade original, so his involvement in bringing it to film would be a definite asset.

Playing Dragon's Lair

When Dragon's Lair came to the Electric Playhouse in 1983, we were excited to line up and give it a try. As arcade fanatics in the early 80s, we were accustomed to the look and feel of vector and sprite-based games. While displaying wildly different game play options, these games all had a distinct visual. Dragon's Lair changed that!

Dragon's Lair was closer to the animation you might see on TV than playing a video game. Full motion video hadn't made it's way into arcades of that era. We were stunned by what we saw on it's screen. Most games needed a lot of processing power just to fly a small ship around a screen full of attacking enemies. We stood in that dimly lit arcade wondering how they achieved this animated game.

Dragon's Lair - Dirk It would be several years before I was aware of Laser Discs, but as soon as I understood the concept, I bought an LD player. This initiated the long and costly process of replacing my favorite VHS titles with those big shiny, double-sided discs (then DVD came along). The clarity was so amazing to me, that I was willing to accept that one could not record onto these discs.

I had a large collection of my favorite shows recorded onto VHS. It wouldn't be until the advent of DVD that television shows would be released as complete seasons. Changing (incompatible) technology has altered my world with each new advance - some good, others not so much.

When I had a better grasp of the LD technology behind Dragon's Lair, I was far more appreciative of what they had achieved. While some video games used cassette or 8-track players to add specific sounds, Dragon's Lair used the A/V capabilities of Laser Discs. Pretty cool!

Dragon's Lair was the first commercial arcade game to charge 50 cents per play. At the outset, we would have paid anything to get in front of that machine. Everyone at the arcade was stoked to get the chance to drop 2 quarters. It's novelty in our pixel world was worth the extra cost. All these years later I have vivid memories of playing Dragon's Lair and I'm not alone. There is a huge following for this innovative game and many of them would love to see this movie made.
October 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Oliver twins release a lost 20-year-old NES game from the Dizzy series

Codemasters logo Codemasters is a British game developer founded by brothers, David and Richard Darling in 1986. Highly regarded and widely renown, they developed games for a variety of computers beginning with the Spectrum ZX. Many of their games involved solving puzzles and were often less expensive than most competitor's releases.

I first became somewhat familiar with Codemasters via the Game Genie product that was distributed in the US by Galoob. Originally called the Power Pak, it was a hardware cheat code device that interfaced between the NES console and game cartridge. Part if it's infamy came from Nintendo's lawsuit claiming copyright violations - a suit that eventually went nowhere.

More recently my son and I dove into Codemasters' Overlord series of games on the Wii and PS3. It's always great to see companies that have spanned gaming's history and evolution, transitioning from 8-bit to modern console games.

Oliver Twins Bring Dizzy To Codemasters

Codemasters logo A popular series brought on board by the Oliver twins was Dizzy, who is an egg on a mission. The first game was released in 1987 as Dizzy  The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure. Philip & Andrew Oliver created three games (I believe) in the series before moving on to other gaming opportunities. The franchise continued onward and still has an avid following today from those who played the Dizzy games on computers and consoles of the 80s and 90s.

While having moved on from Codemasters, the Oliver Twins are still developing games and recently came across a former NES title, Wonderland Dizzy, which was never released! Created over two decades ago, they set out to bring it to life and release it in a modern format. It's playable in a brownser or you can download the ROM from their website.

You can play Wonderland Dizzy in your browser in all it's early 80's glory, via their website. Also on the site is an interesting history of their game development and a cool video about the discovery of this unreleased Dizzy game. Poke around - you'll find a lot of good stuff including a link to the Kickstarter for an upcoming book, The story of the Oliver Twins.

Wonderland Dizzy Had Wonderland Dizzy been released, this is apparently what the box art would have been.
Wonderland Dizzy This is a screen shot from the ROM file that is downloadable from their web site.

October 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The debut of Supergirl on CBS

Supergirl on CBS Having seen several trailers for Supergirl, I was finally excited to get behind a superhero show on TV. I've always liked superhero movies, but superheroes on TV haven't rally worked for me. I liked Supergirl's "hero" moments and the casting of Calista Flockhart.

I haven't read superhero comics since I was a kid. My comic cravings took me toward more indie characters outside the traditional Marvel and DC fare. I loved Tank Girl, but Supergirl just wasn't my thing ;)

I was surprised at how fast they moved the story along. I don't know if all the episodes move so fast, but this is not the sort of show you can fiddle on your phone while you watch - you'll probably miss something.

As far as the story itself, it seemed a bit weak. I liked that she has a sense of wonderment about her powers, but I expected her to toughen up a bit more across both sides of her character. This is only the first episode - and I did enjoy it a lot - so I'm excited to see how it unfolds.
October 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bluff your way up the corporate ladder in Pass The Buck- a satirical reality card game

Pass the Buck: A Game of Corporate Responsibility Management As much as I love video games, I'm still a fan of tabletop games. Before my Atari 2600 took me down a pixelated path through arcades and console madness, I loved board games. From Monopoly and Life to Water Works and Which Witch, there were so many inventive games that added some strategy and/or fun to a popular theme.

My son and I have been playing some of my childhood games as well as a few newer ones we've discovered in our travels. Our current oldies favorites are Bermuda Triangle and Go For Broke! More recently we've been collecting the various releases of Adventure Time's Card Wars and playing a lot of Zombie Dice. Great stuff!

Happy Badgers Studio logo It's always fun to come back to board, card, and dice games after a few Splatoon battles, killing the Qotile, or saving Skylands. In the same way we see innovations in video games, tabletop games also have the same dynamic. Take a look at Pandemic or Sushi Go. There's no shortage of innovation in tabletop games.

Happy Badgers Go From Pixels to Cardboard

One of my favorite indie developers is Happy Badger Studio in St. Louis. They create truly diverse games ranging from simple addictive mobile games to retro styled runners, and PC games that invoke emotional choices. Regardless of the medium, they find a way to inject fun and novelty into their games. In true form, they are again expanding on their diversity by releasing a tabletop card game called, Pass The Buck: A Game of Corporate Responsibility Management, created by Carol Mertz.

Pass work off to your colleagues and bluff your way up the corporate ladder in this satirical card game. It's a simple premise with some good twists that get players to interact both socially and within the game's rules. As you move up the corporate ladder by dumping your responsibilities on other players (coworkers), they can bluff their way out of taking on your tasks. But - they may be lying to you. Better call HR and get to the truth!

Check out the Pass the Buck kickstarter. If you dig it, consider backing it and be the first person at your office to pass the buck...
October 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Are Gamefly, Netflix, & Zipcar solid trends or signs of a declining economy?

Seeing CDs descend into MP3s on iTunes and DVDs become replaced by Netflix, I feel as though I missed a major sign - an indicator of an ailing economy. The fall of CDs has removed album art and the concept of a cohesive album full of music. Netflix lets us watch anything - as long as it's within their offering.

A recent report on CNN discussed online clothing rentals. I'd never heard of such a thing, but it's apparently popular with women allowing one access to an infinite wardrobe without needing a huge budget or closet. OK, this seemed similar to GameFly's rental concept where you can play a lot of different games without having to buy or store them. But a comment by the reporter stunned me.

rental clothing She said that this rental-model is trend that's here to stay! Access to things without owning them is the future. Wait, what!?!

When I think rental, the first thing that comes to mind is housing. Lots of pople will rent an apartment if they can't afford to buy a house. Renting a home has traditionally been something one did while saving up to buy a home. Renting sometimes comes with some stigma in that respect. Certainly there are plenty of folks who don't want to be tied down to a house or bother with all the work that comes with home ownership.

I feel as though we are slowly being trained to accept access, without ownership. Our movies, music, and games are in the corporate cloud. As a result, the physical media is becoming scarce in retail. Is this rental clothing model going to effect the clothing industry in a similar manner. I feel we're in the transition with video games disappearing from stores and stored in the cloud or offered in digital DL formats. Is this the beginning of clothing going toward access without ownership? Can you imagine if clothing and shoes begin declining in retail and go toward an access-only model?.

Some of these subscription services do offer convenience, but I feel there's a larger scheme at work where ownership is diminishing and being replaced with notions of convenience and value. That may be the case in some instances, but I don't want to rent clothes or other items, like entertainment media, that have traditional ownership rights. It's upsetting to see video games, DVDs, and CDs dwindle in favor of subscription services.

I already have enough passwords and I like owning media especially since I have many CDs and DVDs that aren't available via these streaming services. I know what's mine and I'd like to keep it that way. By the way... "the cloud" is simply a server farm in some remote warehouse. There's nothing fluffy or "up in the sky" about it. All sorts of catastrophic things could happen that would sever your access to all of your media.

Everyone needs to do what best fits their needs and lifestyles, but I prefer owning a physical copy of the things I own. I've downloaded some games and some music from time to time, but it feels much better to see it all on my bookshelf. :)

Renting video games sounds good, but as a lone option, it represents access with no ownership

October 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Would a custom meme generator be a valuable promotional tool for video game marketing?

Creed movie's meme builder The first DIY promotional meme generator I'd seen came from the film, Straight Outta Compton. The website let you select your own photo and layer the movie's slogan, "Straight Outta..." and add your own phrase. We made a few focused on retro gaming and arcades. We also got a kick out of the page for Donald Trump's "Make America Great" hat generator.

The latest example I've seen is for the upcoming movie, Creed. Sylvester Stalone is starring in this Rocky sequel. The website lets you create a personalized meme based on the films "I fight for..." message. Get creative with it - folks bring their own thoughts and ideas to these generators that are far outside the . As always we added a retro gaming theme to it...

Marketing Should Engage and Inspire Gamers

The ability to let pople inject their own photos and ideas into a promotional campaign is genius! I think this would lend well to promotion of video games. It adds a personal touch for the consumer who can also help propel a marketing message or brand. This DIY generator concept seems more engaging than your standard social media sharing scenario.

Think about Mario Maker - a game in which you can custom create your own Mario game levels. Wouldn't it have been a cool promotional campaign if you could have created a custom meme that promoted Mario Maker, a game with custom levels. It seems like a great match for gaming marketing & promotion from individual title releases to the rising e-sports phenomenon.

I grow tired of the idea that all promotion must involve Liking, Sharing, or ReTweeting. Social media plays a large role in promotion, but Id love to see more creativity in this area.

gamer Give gamers a real reason to engage a brand or product via social media. Letting us inject our own images and ideas seems like a natural step in the evolution of social marketing. Of course there will be those who use it for nefarious purposes, but I think the benefit outweighs the troll-factor.

Who's going to be the first dev to take customer engagement to the next level and break away from having to pay Facebook to bypass their constriction?
October 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Retro Gaming: if I knew then what I know now

Tax Avoiders for Atari 2600 I remember the day I bought Tax Avoiders for my Atari 2600. I had no knowledge that video games were a business. I knew arcades were awesome and some of those games were available for my Atari. That was the extent of my knowledge back then.

When I saw Tax Avoiders hanging on a rack, I lunged for it and begged my Mom to let me buy it. I'd never heard of this title. I had no idea what it was about. Was it a good game? I didn't know that either. All I knew was it was in my hands and I hadn't seen a new Atari game in... well, a very long time.

This must have been in late 1982 and I vividly remember how excited I was to be buying a brand new Atari game. I was going to go home and play that game like I'd never played a game before. Decades later, I'd have a better grasp on the impending crash of '83 and why it was so hard to find games at the time I found Tax Avoiders.

As it turned out, there were a lot of things I didn't know. Life got busy and many new things came into my world - none of them new game consoles. I experienced Colecovision and Intellivision through friends who hadn't gone the Atari route. It wasn't until the dawn of the NES that I was buying a new game console.

I wasn't a kid anymore, but I was a long way from being a viable adult. Spring Break was on the horizon and while most of my friends were stoked to stumble drunkenly around southern Florida's beaches, I was getting my snowboard in shape for our yearly trek to VT. It wasn't that we didn't like beer and bikini-clad girls - we preferred these wonders in a slope-side hot tub. Those were the days.

Nintendo NES

My Search For A Nintendo NES

My buddy and I were driving to VT for a week of shredding the hills and collapsing in bikini filled hot tubs at night. But we had a side mission. A new company released a game console that was all the rage! At the time, there were only two kinds of people: those who owned a Nintendo Entertainment System and those who did not. Despite a full schedule of manic vacation fun - we were determined to add an NES to the mix.

Stores were sold out. No one had an NES on the shelf or in the stock room. We were young, dumb, and determined. As we headed north on the highway, we hopped off at any exit with a nearby mall. Back then malls had various electronics box stores like Circuity City, game stores like Electronics Boutique, and toy stores like Kay Bee. Some one between home and VT had to have an NES for sale!

We grew tired of getting on and off the highway only to have teenage store clerks laugh at us. No one had Nintendo in stock - no one! What we didn't consider was the real estate reality of malls. They exist in highly populated areas - areas where lots of people shop for things like video game systems.

About two thirds of the way to our slope-side ski lodge, determination had not waned. We were getting an NES - one way or another! Being a good distance from home, all of these malls were unfamiliar to us and they all began to look and feel alike. I don't remember the final mall, but inside it's Kay Bee Toys store I remember dashing to each part of the store where it seemed likely that a game console would be displayed. Nothing. I asked a store clerk and he said he'd go out back and get us one! They had the Nintendo NES! My buddy and I were stopped in our tracks with wide-eyed amazement. We bought an NES and a few games!

I don't recall if we met any girls on that trip, but we rode all day and played Nintendo most of the night. It was a great trip and reignited my desires to play games. In that pre-Internet era, we didn't know about upcoming games or if the games we saw were any good. We used an age old technique - if the box cover was rad, the game had to be great.

Games at Toys R Us That selection process didn't always prove true and often led to atrocious games. I often bought NES games at Toys R Us and remember flipping through their wall-mounted plastic-wrapped game offerings and bringing that paper chit to the register. With receipt in hand, someone in customer service would go "out back" and get the actual game. Great memories and some great games (a few duds).

What I Learned

One day when perusing the NES titles at Toys R Us, I saw the NES Top Loader console. I didn't think too much about it other than it was different looking and cost less than my NES. I bought a new game and left. Each return visit, I saw that top loader and began to realize it's price was dropping. Should I get one? I thought, No. I already had one. Finally, that odd looking NES was $39. I seriously thought I should get one. I didn't because that was the same price as a new game and I already had an NES.

I regret that train of thought to this very day. I should have bought 2 or 3 of them! I wouldn't realize this for several years, but the experience did impact me and my retail video game decisions.

Wasn't the Virtualboy cool looking? It was crazy cool looking! Kind of VR-ish, but had a controller - a controller with dual D-pads. Hell yeah! Gotta have one! I shelled out the money and jumped head first into this new form of gaming. It was very red, but I liked it. However, the learning component came a few months after it's official failure.

Virtualboy The EB near my parent's house was blowing them out for about $25 each. On a visit to see my parents, I stopped at that EB and bought 3 Virtual Boys. The kid behind the counter thought I was a 3X loser for buying a failed system on clearance. I quickly explained the shortness of his lifespan if he didn't change his attitude and went on to my parents house with 3 Virtual Boys! Hell Yeah!!

I did the same thing when the Jaguar failed. I bought a few of them at ridiculously low closeout prices. I was slowly learning the benefit of buying consoles toward the end of their retail lifespan. I wasn't savvy enough to snag a 3DO, but I did pick up a Wii Family edition and Wii Mini. I wish I'd had more foresight in this area in the 90s.

Atari Jaguar
October 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Did USA TODAY go retro or futuristic with this reproduction of their BTTF edition?

USA TODAY logo from Back To The Future The front page of USA TODAY, featured in Back To The Future II, was reproduced and acted as a faux front page on today's (Oct. 22) printing of the paper! That's a pretty cool thing to do for Back To The Future Day.

I remember when USA TODAY first came on the scene as a national paper. My family always regarded the New York Times and Wall Street Journal as reliable news sources. Seeing a paper with color images brought about many comic book comments. I didn't like that comparison since I felt comic books delivered stories that were intricate and sophisticated.

This newfangled paper ran condensed and easy-to-understand articles... for who? Getting all the news that's fit to print seemed to hinge on being able to read. I thought TV news was the entity in charge of dumbing-down the news and the papers ran with the full details.

USA TODAY Back To The Future reproduction USA TODAY brought about a new model for newspapers. Their stories typically didn't continue on inside pages - the entire story was delivered on one page. The inside-continuation practice enabled other papers to present more articles on the main pages.

On July 2, 1984 USA TODAY published their first edition with full color in all 4 sections of the newspaper. it wasn't until 06/06/1993 that the NY Times used color in the Sunday Book Review and other Sunday sections followed soon after until the first full color image ran on 10/16/1997 - Page 1: Tony Fernandez's 11th-inning home run put the Cleveland Indians into the World Series.

I hope everyone got out to a newsstand to snag a copy of the BTTF edition of USA TODAY. It's a really cool nod to the Back To The Future franchise. Everyone really came together around BTTF - pretty epic!

If you got out early, you had a far greater chance to get this slick newspaper reproduction than a bottle of Pepsi Perfect. :)
October 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

BTTF Internet debates raged on by those incapable of screen-capture or proper pausing

I remember numerous online debates about the date which Marty and company traveled to or from. I largely ignored these discussions since all the relevant info was contained within a 2-hour movie. Find the spot and capture the screen or just hit pause to reveal the answer to this non-question.

So, the Internet overwhelmingly tells me that today (October 21, 2015) is THE day. The Back To The Future II date. Um... OK. Isn't this the same Internet that seems unable to get facts right across a sea of awful Wikipedia entries on a multitude of topics?

In all fairness, it would seem that today is the day on which it's appropriate to release all those Back To The Future memes without having to argue over the accuracy of the date. I'm sure there will still be plenty of folks happy to assuage us with "better" info and cause the rifts that satisfy their dreary lives so much.

We have a screenshot from I'm sure there is some unwritten law about the correctness of any information contained within a URL. On the other hand you may remember that 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah got his misspelled name from a contest entry that no one felt was important enough to spell check.

Back To The Future Day Any day is a great day to watch a BTTF flick, so whip out the trilogy today and imbibe it's time traveling goodness. While you're at it, don't forget that various iterations of the BTTF Trilogy were released as video games for systems spanning from the NES to the GameCube and various computer platforms. Watch the movies, track down some of the games, and enjoy the fact that no on has destroyed the BTTF franchise with a lame reboot.

Bck to the Future DeLorean BTTF Terminator When it comes to time travel, I'm more of a Terminator fan, but Marty's DeLorean is pretty cool too.

Marty McFly cosplay Hey wait, that's not Marty!
October 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

By 2020, President Lohan may have to protect us from space invaders as well as terrorists

Typical of child actors, Lindsay Lohan has had her share of ups & downs as she's outgrown the cute roles that made her famous. Like many celebrities, Lohan has an active social media footprint including Instagram via which she recently announced an interest in running for President in 2020. As things stand today, such a run for office might have to derail reelection efforts by The Donald.

In a climate that tolerates Donald Trump as a viable presidential candidate, why can't Lindsay Lohan run for office in 2020? Legally speaking, all sorts of dreadful people are eligible to run for POTUS, but thankfully we have a series of checks and balances to prevent Hollywood stars from launching nukes from the Oval Office in a fit of fury over a nasty Twitter-feud.

President Lohan 2020 Lindsay Lohan announced her Presidential aspirations on her Instagram account. Only one year ago, Lohan was suing Rockstar Games for using her likeness in their Grand Theft Auto V game and advertising. Amidst legal issues of her own, this move only made her look foolish. In this world, anything is possible. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Maybe by 2020 Disney will have cast her in a Star Wars spin-off to keep her mind off becoming a world leader.

What Foreign Policy Will Lohan Adopt Regarding Space Invaders?

Threats in our ever changing world range from terrorism to destructive mega storms, but Edward Snowden may have some more gems for us in terms of discovering alien societies light years away. Will Lindsay's be able to defend us from all these threats or will she simply opt for Black Milk fashions and Taito arcade cabinets in every home. I'll vote for anyone promoting bikinis and video games. As mentioned, this is a strange world we live in.

Space Invaders fashion Lohan 2020!!
October 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Share the stuff you love with your kids- especially retro gaming and music

When I see how much video games and music have changed during the course of my life, it makes me want to share my favorite Atari games and rock bands with my son. It seems that overpriced video games rule the roost on systems costing as much as some laptops. Rock & Roll has been replaced with pop stars and buying single songs on iTunes. Do kids remember Atari or the idea of buying a whole album or CD with songs carefully arranged to deliver a sonic experience?

Several years ago, I decided to begin sharing my old game consoles with my son. I wanted to do so in a meaningful way so he wouldn't simply associate it with "old stuff". At the same time, I wanted to pull him away from the Wii a little more often and expand his gaming arsenal. When Donkey Kong Country came out for the Wii, I got out my Coleco cart for the Atari 2600 and showed him how Donkey Kong started out. We also found a Donkey Kong game at a local arcade - bonus! Not long after I showed him how 2600 games could be played on the 7800 - then we began playing Food Fight... lots of Food Fight.

He loved Berserk on the 2600, but was blown away by the speech synthesis of Berzerk on the Atari 800. We've also played a lot of Missile Command and Wizard of Wor on that old computer. Asteroids was my all time favorite when I was a kid, but he doesn't like that one. However, Dig Dug is always a favorite along with Robotron 2084.

The latest console I unleashed on him was my old NES with about 100 carts. When he saw how many games we had, his eyes went wide. We found old favorites like Donkey Kong and Galaga, but also discovered Metroid which he'd played on his Game Boy Advance. So, it's been about connecting retro games with modern games he's familiar with and adding in others along the way. He was psyched to have Outrun on his 2DS after playing it at our local arcade.

Good parenting I've done the same thing with music. I like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, but there's not as much rock & roll. Many of the bands I grew up with are still releasing albums, so I've done the same thing of focusing on a few bands to see what he likes and doesn't like. So far he's become a fan of Kiss, AC/DC, and Judas Priest.

The release of the Van Halen remastered CDs this past summer was a great opportunity to relive the glory of Eddie and the gang. When Iron Maiden released Book of Souls they also had a retro inspired game on their website... a great tie-in for some of Iron Maiden's early albums.

I've found that exposing my son to some of my favorite games and music has opened him up to more genres. Some things he likes more than others, but he's developing a taste for games and music outside of what he is ordinarily exposed to. Diversity is a good thing especially in the entertainment sphere. It just goes to show, old games and music can be just as good 30 years later!
October 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The first trailer is out for the upcoming 2016 CGI Ratchet & Clank movie

Ratchet & Clank PS2 Last November (2014) we heard about a CGI movie for the Ratchet and Clank video game series. My son and I discovered these two on the PS3 and have enjoyed the games very much. The characters are quite interesting (and allow for 2-player co-op) and we found the puzzles were pretty inventive.

Mr. Zurkon?

The first thing that came to my mind upon hearing of a big-screen flick was - they'd better include Mr. Zurkon in any Ratchet & Clank movie! In one of the games he was a device, selectable from the weapons menu, who aided Ratchet. I'm not entirely sure of his role, but he spoke in random quips that are hysterical. With a quiet monotone voice he would announce that, "Mr. Zurkon is here to kill you." That was only one of the similar phrases he would randomly utter during game play.

He was definitely my favorite aspect of these games and I was pleased to see a voice credit for him in the upcoming film. Marc Graue will be tasked with those witty, yet menacing, death threats. He's an excellent choice as he also voices Mr. Zurkon in the video games!

Ratchet & Clank Began on the PS2

Ratchet and Clank is a Sony IP that debuted on the PS2 in 2002, worked it's way through the PSP & Vita, and graduated to the PS3. By the time the film arrives in 2016, there should be a Ratchet and Clank installment for the PS4. It would certainly be odd to release this film without a video game in the pipeline. Not all films get a video game tie-in, but we're confident this one shall.

Ratchet & Clank Vocal Tallent

James Arnold Taylor voices Ratchet and David Kaye voices Clank. They may sound familiar as Kaye voiced Clank beginning with the first game released in 2002. Taylor began voicing Ratchet the following year. Both resume these roles for the film.

Bella Thorne on a NexBoard Classix Bella Thorne Some of the other voice talent heard on the Ratchet and Clank film is Sylvester Stallone (Victor Von Ion), Rosario Dawson (Elaris), John Goodman (Grimroth), and Paul Giamatti (Chairman Drek) - among others. So there's no lack of well known voices bringing these characters to life.

Bella Thorne - seen at left resembling a Hot Wheels car - provides the voice of Cora. Cora is a young Markazian working for the Galactic Rangers and grows fond of Ratchet after he saves her on Metropolis.

Trailers can rarely be relied upon to give a realistic viewpoint for any movie, but this one looks pretty good. That's a good sign. The duo seem like good candidates for a film, but too often movies have video game tie-ins. Not too often are video games turned into movies. Thus those making the film need to have played the games to get an idea of the characters.

It's easy to watch a 2 hour movie and get a feel for the story and characters, but making a film from a series of video games requires quite a bit of game play. I hope someone within the production crew has played these games and understands the characters and can make a film that gamers will enjoy. I'm interested to see this film since I like the characters and have played several of the games.

October 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The season of no-name game consoles marches onward with Lexibook's TV Game console

Lexibook logo We've certainly seen more off-brand no-name gaming devices than usual at the start of this holiday season. I use the term "holiday season" loosely after finding both Halloween candy and Christmas lights for sale at my local grocery store in mid October. But over at Toys R Us, they are bringing back the newest Atari Flashback 6 and updated Sega Genesis console containing the Mortal Kombat trilogy.

They are also stocking a few off-brand "consoles" containing 200+ games each. We saw the Gamer Portable and the Retro Machine both from DreamGear. Gamers know that these devices contain random mini games perhaps loosely based on actual games, but no actual licensed video games.

The Lexibook console pictured below is the latest one I've found at Toys R Us. They sell the various Flashback consoles from AtGames, so I'm not sure what market they think they're catering to with these no-name knock-offs. They began displaying them in their board game area and have since moved them to the video game shelves next to the Flashbacks.

Toys R Us are doing a disservice to their customers by trying to align these clones with other known video game products. We all know the Flashbacks have built-in games, but they license the ROMs from Atari, Sega, Coleco, and Mattel. Thus they offer game play that is nearly identical to the games consoles on which they are based.

The Wii-looking device shown below is from a French company, Lexibook. The "console" uses an SD card to supply games to the unit that hooks to your TV via the typical RCA connectors.

TV Game Console 200 Jeux Referred to on their website as "TV Game Console 200 Jeux", the Yeno Games sticker may be for certain regions.
TV Game Console 200 Jeux The rear of the box is oddly similar to the front and hints at the content of some of the games.

If you're shopping for a gamer this holiday season, try to avoid these low-priced no-name game consoles. They don't offer real games and certainly no actual arcade games. Go for a Wii U, 3DS, or PS4 instead :)
October 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Melding redemption with arcade video games - can Videmption be a good thing?

Not long ago an odd Flappy Bird amusement appeared in one of my local arcades. I'm usually quick to ignore such things as I'm now accustomed to mobile games being expanded into enormous arcade machines as well as the vast array of ticket-spewing redemption models. However this machine was a hybrid I'd never seen and I posted a few pics of it.

It was an instant merchandise machine displaying various "prizes" around the periphery of the monitor... wait what? Yes, this contraption had a video monitor against the back wall and prizes abounded behind a large glass window. It was the first combination of video game and redemption that I'd seen. Not long after I read an article about Videmption. Yikes.

Pindemption - Pinball Redemption

Earlier this year I heard the term Pindempton regarding a Wizard Of Oz pinball table from Jersey Jack Pinball that could be outfitted with a ticket reel system for redemption. To see redemption spread to actual video games - to the point where it has the moniker, Videmption - is a new hurdle for me.

Regardless of the types of amusements on the floor, I admire anyone who runs/owns an arcade these days. While I'm excited about the barcade and retro movements that focus on games from my arcade life in the 80s, keeping an arcade fiscally sound is a tough job these days. I understand the financial reasons behind the change in arcades from gaming to redemption and the competition to arcades posed by home game consoles. That doesn't make me nostalgic for the simpler days of arcades.

The Ever Changing Arcade Model

Classic arcade games As a teenager in the 80s we loved playing video games. Arcades were the primary source, although we found some choice games in various restaurants and other businesses. I could play Asteroids at home on my Atari 2600, but I knew damn well that the version in the arcade was much better. Playing at home was fun and convenient, but was nowhere near the experience of being at the arcade.

I watched as arcades changed and the home gaming scene rocketed upward in technology. Today there are generations of kids who grew up with great games at home and have no knowledge of how awesome arcades were or can become. Younger gamers consider gaming with friends on an Internet connection to be "playing with friends". Look around - you're alone.

In my day you weren't playing with friends unless they were on your couch getting Cheese Doodle dust all over your controllers. At the arcades we loved the co-op games like Joust, Rampage, and Wizard of Wor. This led to multiplayer arcade games being the standard as multiplayer fighting games like Street Fighter came along. Even at that stage, arcades were the best place to get the real experience.

Classic Arcades

Classic arcade games What we loved about playing arcade games were the amazing places a game could take your mind. From blasting Asteroids to navigating Zaxxon or entering a Stargate - playing these games was fun. For 25 cents we could venture into a place that gave us the freedom to conquer alien armies, save a princess, and evade Evil Otto.

When kids packed into an arcade and the neon lights were aglow amongst all the attract mode sights and sounds, there was a vibe in the air that was unlike anything else we'd ever seen.

The experience was the "prize". These games were fun! We didn't need a cheap toy at the end to brighten the experience. We wanted to put in anther quarter for more time in the amazing worlds created on those CRT screens.

Can Videmption be a Good Thing?

I despise redemption because the majority of games are simply random flashing lights and poor odds of getting lots of tickets. Most of these games have zero skill and are 100% games of chance. You'd think that these machines would be regulated under gambling laws - as pinball once was only a few decades ago! You don't even get a decent play experience.

Ghost Town videmption video game The notion behind pindemption is more of a value-add than traditional redemption. At least you get to play pinball (often with a different set of rules that shorten the game).

Looking at the Ghost Town videmption machine - it looks like fun! A four-player shooter might create a good gaming experience... that also doles out tickets. Such amusements use redemption as a lure rather than the entire experience. Videmption amusements, that I've seen, seem to let you play video games. I'm not against videmption as long as it provides a good gaming experience that challenges and engages the player.

I'm tired of seeing kids push a button or pull a lever and stand idly waiting to see how many tickets pour out. It seems as though the kid walking around with the largest jumble of tickets in their ars is the "cool kid". I want kids to cherish the game play. If that generates tickets, that's fine. I want them to have fun playing games rather than exchanging money for tokens to get tickets to buy cheap toys at the redemption counter. I challenge my son to everything from Skee Ball to Time Crisis and air hockey. We play together and then go to Toys R Us to see what they have. To me this is much better than garnering cheap toys via redemption tickets.

However, redemption is here to stay (for the time being), but the notion that it might be used as an add-on to real gaming experiences is hopeful. As long as arcade games provide a great gaming challenge, I can't complain about redemption. I hope such amusements push the zero-skill ticket spitting cabinets out of arcades. Offering arcade owners a path to financial stability while delivering great gaming will be a win for all involved.
October 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

8 Bit Universe did an awesome chiptune cover of Taylor Swift's entire 1989 album

I still remember the day I bought my first album; Kiss' Destroyer. It set me on a track to grow up with a passion for 80's hair-metal and a wide variety of rock & roll. From Led Zeppelin and AC/DC to Van Halen and Judas Priest I loved the driving beat of those bands.

8 Bit Universe - 1989 As a kid I couldn't imagine ever liking any other kind of music. It just didn't feel right. Of course that's not how things work and along with a passion for metal, acts like Madonna and Britney Spears lured me into other genres. Then Taylor Swift came along and conquered the world with her 2014 release titled 1989.

Swift's album was so popular that Ryan Adams covered the entire LP, even releasing his version under the same title. That was the strangest thing I'd heard of in quite some time. So, let me tell you about the best thing I've heard in a long time...

8 bit Universe Covers 1989 in 8 Bit

As a retro gamer, I love chiptunes. The music from video games is so iconic to each platform that it's amazing to hear new and existing music recaptured in 8 bit tones. 8 Bit Universe has released Swift's 1989 in wondrous chiptunes.

We highly recommend you grab their 8-bit 1989 on iTunes.

Taylor Swift's album has been played constantly on radio this past year, so hearing those familiar tunes in 8-bit is a real treat. For any retro gamer, this is the definitive Taylor Swift album... thanks to 8 bit Universe. Check out the 8 bit Universe Youtube channel where you'll find everything from Meghan Trainor to Greenday. Great stuff!

It's hard not to like her 1989 album. It's catchy from start to finish and adheres well as a single release. She's sold over a million copies the first week - most artists are considered successful selling half that amount in a whole year. She also made #6 on Fortune's 40 Under 40 list, but not for her musical talent.

She stood up to both Spotify and Apple when it came to "free music" and the rights of the artists who create it. Her actions made both companies yield to her. She quickly became a hero to many who derive a living from published music.

8 Bit Universe - 1989

8 Bit Taylor Swift 8 Bit Taylor Swift 8 Bit Taylor Swift 8 Bit Taylor Swift
October 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As a collector of video games or anything else, one battles with “want” vs “need”

I routinely deny being a "collector". There's nothing wrong with collecting things. I certainly didn't end up with a small mountain of video games by being selectively choosey - I have a weakness for things that are not-in-my-possession. On the other hand, I feel too disorganized to align with the title, collector.

I couldn't quote the current price of any single retro game. I don't prowl yard sales for video games. Ebay turns my stomach. For such reasons, I don't call myself a collector, but I do have a lot of stuff and the quandary between needing something and wanting something often comes into play.

When a friend was recently debating an amiibo purchase, he posed, "Do I really need this?"
I laughed. Of course he didn't. Who the hell NEEDS an amiibo? In fact, Toys R Us is comprised of products that nobody NEEDS. They do have a bountiful supply of things I want. Therein lies the difference.

TMNT shopping dilema Children get into a panic if they can't buy a toy they've fixated upon, but adults have the cognitive reasoning necessary to make choices - even tough choices. When it comes to food, shelter, and medicine, most of us recognize the need and can sacrifice our "wants" as required. When I'm standing in a toy store with an armful of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures - that's more of a "want" situation and the mortgage had better be paid before bringing that stuff home.

My clothes dryer has been on the decline lately and now sounds as though there's an angry cat stuck inside it. The washer is not in great shape either. While I'd love to buy a PS4, a dune buggy, and an Apple Watch - I have to buy the things I need first. So, I'm often baffled when the checkout clerk at Toys R Us asks if I found everything I needed. I usually just say I found everything I wanted. :)
October 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If I thought Pepsi knew anything about telecommunications I'd be interested in their Pepsi P1 Android phone

A recent online leak has alluded to Pepsi releasing a branded Android phone in China. One article stated this was Pepsi's "First Ever" smartphone release. Did I miss Pepsi's entrance into the telecommunications field? I'm confident that this is a licensing deal, not a manufacturing feat. Seems pretty close to putting a Mt. Dew sticker on your walkie-talkie.

By the way- are they releasing a phone or a Sasquatch? Are blurry pictures a secret signal that the contents of the photo may be illicit? You have to work pretty hard to take blurry photos these days. Cameras have become pretty idiot-proof when it comes to taking a decent photo. Leaked or not, photos like this seem staged.

leaked Pepsi Android smartphone I was always a fan of Coke, finding Pepsi to be too sweet tasting. Recently I decided to stop drinking soda after seeing some photos of the spectacular results one gets from cleaning a toilet with Diet Coke. Yuck - no thanks.

I'd Rather Go Back To The Future

When it comes to Pepsi, my interests surround the upcoming limited release of Pepsi Perfect from Back to the Future II. Prior to it's Oct. 21 launch date, Pepsi was giving away bottles at New York Comic Con. It is said that there will only be 6,500 bottles released in the wild. I believe it is available online and in select stores. Most are saying to check Pepsi's social media outlets as the date draws near.

TPepsi Perfect Hoverboard not included. This is a really unique opportunity for BTTF fans to get a cool keepsake from the second film. I applaud Pepsi for bringing back Pepsi Perfect, but I think they could have made a larger production run and garnered even more publicity and possibly profit. I'm sure the exposure is worth far more than the cost of producing these bottles.
October 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
October 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The last run of 300 Analogue Nt, NES-compatible consoles, are up for pre-order

Analogue has carved out a high-end niche for themselves in retro gaming. That may sound like an oxymoron as most vintage game consoles are far from high-end compared to the current crop of high-tech consoles. Analogue makes consoles that are functional works of art - with an injection of updated features.

Analogue Nt I first discovered them when the released beautiful woodgrain renditions of SNK's AES console. From there they progressed to making beautiful aluminum NES consoles. I believe all of their creations use the original hardware as a base and then add features along the way. Their NES console, the Analogue Nt, offeres 4 built-in controller ports, HDMI output, and both NES and Famicom cartridge ports.

In addition to a beautiful console, you get some additional value. However, the time has come to move on. Having sold out of the first run of consoles, Analogue announced the final (second) run of consoles is now available for pre-order. They are not inexpensive, but if you want one - now is the time! This will be the last and final Analogue Nt production run. They are making 300 more consoles before ceasing and moving on to the next project.

In an e-mail sent to their mailing list, they cite that critical components are no longer manufactured - namely the CPU and PPU. I'm not sure I understand their statement as NES components ceased production long ago (I'd have thought).

One new facet to the second production run is the transparent polycarbonate baseplate that lets you take a look at the innards of the console. There are also some additional color choices that will add to the base price of $499. It's not a cheap console, but Analogue is definitely tapping a market that wants a few more modern acoutrements while cost is not a concern. Analogue Nt If you've followed the Analogue Nt, you may have encountered some owners claiming compatibility and lag issues. I don't own a unit, but it bears mention that some people have had these issues. It's important to remember although the Nt uses Nintendo parts and is essentially an NES, it does contain changes by Analogue. For example they added 2 additional controller orts, HDMI output, and Famicom cart compatibility. Such changes do alter it from being a genuine NES in a fancy case. Internal changes have been made that may effect opperation.

Considering it's hefty price, you may want to research these issues prior to making a purchase.

Analogue Nt Standard Analogue Nt Analogue Nt Analogue Nt shown in "Famicom red"
October 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I had high hopes Terminator Genisys would reignite the franchise & spawn a new video game

Terminator Video Games I vividly remember seeing Terminator and T2 in theaters decades ago. It's hard to believe the debut was over 30 years ago and we just got a new addition to the franchise in the Summer of 2015. These days, most sequels follow year after year until revenue or interest drops and the series disappears.

Terminator has never followed that model. Many of the films were separated by nearly a decade in some cases. It's story arc is as compelling today as it was in 1984. My son became a big fan of the Terminator last Summer when we discovered the ReAction action figures at our local Toys R Us.

Terminator Genisys poster This past Summer we went to see Terminator Genisys the day it was released in theaters! Being able to share it with my son, after I'd seen the original nearly 3 decades ago, was a great experience. I was glad Arnold Schwarzenegger was up to reprising his role again.

With all the hype about the film this past Spring combined with the allegation that Genisys was the first part in a trilogy made me feel certain that Terminator toys and games would begin appearing. The last time I found Terminator merchandise I bought an HK Ship shortly after the release of Salvation. This toy along with the Salvation video game helped fuel my son's passion for the Terminator world.

We loved the film, perhaps nostalgia was part of it, but we had a blast with it. The rest of the U.S. felt differently as it only grossed about $80 million. Worldwide it was close to $500 million, but it was not considered a success. Stories are surfacing saying that the trilogy is on hold and it may be more fitting to a TV series.

Terminator Genisys imagined as an Atari game cart We were excited to see Terminator return as a trilogy and hope that it's global success will be enough to put forth the remainder of the trilogy. Arnold can't play this role forever. I'm eager to see Terminator Genisys again when it comes out on DVD to see how I feel about it after my initial viewing.

Unfortunately, there were no tie-in toys or video games. I was really disappointed with the "wait and see" attitude for the merchandising. Despite less than stellar returns on the big screen, it may do very well (as do many films) on DVD and as a plot for a video game. I remain hopeful that the Terminator franchise will turn itself around and make strides in other ways than film alone. I'm still gunning for a Terminator Genisys video game!
October 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I really want the TMNT Hero Portal & have no idea why I didn't buy it (or why I want it)

Sometimes I try to apply logic to things that don't require any smarts. Last Fall when I saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Hero Portal, I wanted it, but didn't buy it. I've bought a few electronic toys/games by Jakks and they're not spectacular, but this was such a Skylanders wannabe type of product and featured the Turtles. What's not to like - lol. I really wanted it, but opted not to. What was I thinking?

I was reminded of this odd game, when I found these 2 add-on figures for the TMNT Hero Portal the other day. Alas, Toys R Us only had the super hero version which isn't compatible with TMNT figures. Perhaps, they'll get more of the TMNT version. I assure you it's sub-par to any console game - turtles or not - but it's a quirky arrangement that appeals to my sense of idiocy.

The Turtles version of Hero Portal features 6 Levels and 18 Missions with a few expansions via booster packs. Powered by 4 AA batteries, it uses RFID to determine which figure is on the portal base. Similar to Skylanders or Disney Infinity, characters are brought into the game by placing them on the portal. I'm sure I'll find one eventually and promptly grow tired of it minutes later, but it's the chase that keeps me going.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Hero Portal figures I'm quite aware that it's a $10 item that sells for $30+ for parents who don't know anything about video games. I'm also aware of the quality control on these units. There are many complaints of freezes and random shut-downs after 30 minutes of play. I want one for purely juvenile reasons and wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

The lesson I've learned so many times you'd think I'd follow my own advice is - Buy it when you see it!
October 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Even retro games seem to require downloading updates and bug fixes

Sony's original Playstation was my introduction to the notion of compilation games. Wonders like Williams Greatest Hits and Namco Museum were the kind of titles that really excited me. I enjoyed the new aspects of disc-based games and the epic gameplay they offered, but the idea of having a handfull of my favorite arcade games at my disposal was king!

Releasing buggy games on carts in the 80s & 90s would have ruined a developer's reputation.
These compilation discs contained games I'd seen ported to previous Atari and Nintendo platforms, but to have the true arcade versions was mind-blowing for me.! Even the discs dedicated to older console games like Activision Classic Games for the Atari 2600 were pretty cool on the PlayStation. It was likely the combination of the new games along with favored classics that made the platform very exciting to me.

These gems were released long before the "fix it with DLC" model arrived on store shelves in the digital age. In the cartridge days, we knew there was no such thing as perfection, but anyone who tried to sell us the un-finished bug-ridden games we buy today, would have gone out of business. Games were simpler in the cart days, but they were also rigorously tested. Developers knew their reputation was on the line with every new game shipped to stores. In present time, everything is correctable via download - they let customers do the testing. Shameful!

Rare Replay Is Still Releasing Bug Fixes

We declared Rare Replay as the only game that would likely get us to buy an Xbox One. 30 classic video games for $30 seems too good to be true. I read a short Destructoid article about recent updates and fixes for Rare Replay. The author was glad to see the game was still being upgraded and fixed - being given attention by the developer. This got me thinking...

Rare Replay seclection screen How can a title containing games that are in some cases decades old require fixes!?! It's only fair to mention that the fixes were not to the individual games, but to the ancillary aspects surrounding them. None the less, it makes an interesting statement when a compilation title was released and still needed multiple releases of new bug fixes.

Rare Replay seclection screen Even though most of the fixes were to the leader boards and the user interface, it stuns me that even a game like this requires fixing. If you loved the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise (THPS), the attempt to reboot it and bring it to current generation consoles failed miserably due to an incomplete game being released. Bugs are still present after a huge downloadable fix. Most reviews warn gamers not to even buy the game! What does that say about the gaming industry and the crap they try to get away with?

I love skateboarding and the THPS series of games. It's the sort of game I would simply buy without hesitation. Had I not read so many articles questioning how such an shoddy product was even released, I might have been stuck with that $60 dud.

Next time you go to play your favorite game and have to wait 30 minutes for a patch to download, you should be thankful that anyone cares enough to bother fixing anything. You should also wonder why a completed game needs fixing. Some games are expanded and enhanced by downloads, but too often bug-fixes are included there as well... hoping you won't notice.

Don't forget that the cartridge era held developers to much higher standards. A buggy game could easily been their ruin. Today, a buggy game is the standard. Why? Because we continue to buy their unfinished games.
  • Never buy a game on release day
  • Never buy a game without reading multiple reviews
  • Never buy a game without knowing it's development history
  • Never buy a game until gamers/consumers have played it
Good luck out there!
October 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

This Flappy Bird contraption is the first video game and prize redemption merger I've seen

As arcades have been financially forced to adopt a redemption model, we've seen traditional video game nearly disappear from arcade floors. In their place are redemption amusements that dispense tickets or actual prizes.

I've seen Bay Tek's Flappy Bird ticket redemption as well as the various "crane" games that let you try to snatch a plush or other prize. This 2015 machine, also from Bay Tek, is the first I've seen myself that incorporates both a video game with instant prize redemption.

It is housed in a crane-like cabinet with the prizes dangling in the forefront and the video display mounted against the back wall. The vertical orientation of the monitor.

Gamer Portable Bay Tek's Flappy Bird prize redemption machine offers an array of different prizes that surround it's 32" LCD monitor.
Gamer Portable Flappy Bird offers prizes from plush to plastic junk that is all displayed in a crane-like cabinet with the monitor against the back wall. Like it's predecessors and Android original, there is a single action - flap button that will make the bird rise the more you press it.

The only setup I've seen that was more unexpected was the pindemption model in which a pinball table can be outfitted with a ticket redemption unit to spew tickets based on points/milestones.
October 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Chibi Robo is a wonderfully unlikely character to become an amiibo with a new game, Zip Lash

Years ago, I randomly purchased Chibi Robo for GameCube and discovered it was really quirky, very strange, and a lot of fun. I later grabbed Park Patrol on speculation, but didn't enjoy it as much.

I was excited to hear that Chibi Robo had a new game coming to the 3DS and that there was an amiibo. For all the supply chain issues with amiibo, I have to say Nintendo has done a great job in selecting both popular and eclectic figures to bring to the amiibo world. Most of us would have expected the major Nintendo IP characters to appear as amiibo, but there have been some great surprises. Chibi Robo is as obscure a coice as the Wii Fitness Trainer.

Chibi Robo Zip Lash I went to GameStop to pick up a copy of Zip Lash and the Chibi Robo amiibo. I arrived just as they were rolling up the gate. When I told the clerk, what I wanted he looked confused and attempted to look it up on the computer. He asked if it was a DS game. I reminded him again that it was release day for Chibi Robo! Zip Lash on the 3DS. Then he found it on the computer. They had 8 copies... somewhere. He began to look around the back room, but was unable to find the shipping box.

I suggested he call the store manager and find out where the box had been put. By this time another employee arrived who had also never heard of Chibi Robo. She offered to help, but then said she couldn't help because she hadn't clocked in and she'd get in trouble. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I left in disgust and said I'd be back. I couldn't bear to watch 2 adults who lacked the skills to find a large shipping container full of games. They both seemed stumped as to how to go about the search.

I came back about 20 minutes later and they'd found the box which was about 3-feet long. I was glad they found it, but next time I'm going to Toys R Us. How can multiple employees not even know about a game on it's release day, when it's bundled with an amiibo? Next time you hear about civilian volunteers on a search party - remember these two and pray for the missing.
October 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

AMC's 1980s tech drama Halt And Catch Fire has been renewed for a third season

If you haven't seen Halt and Catch Fire, we highly recommend this drama set against the race to bring computers into consumer homes. Season one set the stage and the following season went toward online gaming, communication, and the beginning of the Internet. Season 3 will easily establish this as the definitive drama about early technology companies racing to dominance.

Halt And Catch Fire
October 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

General Mill's Halloween monster cereals join forces to create a giant castle via Target exclusive

Every year I look forward to Boo Berry, Franken Berry, and Count Chocula cereals around Halloween. Growing up I remember them having a cut-out mask on the back of the boxes. I've just discovered there are multiple releases and I'm loving the Target cereals. With cut-outs on the back of each of the 3 cereals, you can construct a large (sort of) monster cereal castle complete with the 3 spooky figures themselves!

I wish this was my picture, but since it isn't... I need to make a run to Target!

General Mill's Halloween monster cereal castle
October 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Create virtual headwear with the Donald Trump Hat Generator - Make America Play Retro Games

This is about as dumb as it sounds. Donald Trump began his bid for President wearing a baseball hat with the slogan, "Make America Great Again." A page offering a Donald Trump hat generator has caught on and now you can create your own online message to slap onto a virtual hat.

We chose to go the retro gaming route... as always. Check it out with the Donald Trump Hat Generator.

Donald Trump Hat Generator
October 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A new Sega portable appeared with the standard Genesis and Atari Flashback consoles

I've grown accustomed to a new Atari Flashback (from AtGames) appearing each holiday season. This year is no different regarding the Flashback 6 with 100 built-in games. The Sega Genesis console returned as well and still sports a functional cartridge slot, 80 built-in games including a Mortal Kombat trilogy.

Sadly absent, although last year's models reappeared, were updated Colecovision and Intellivision consoles. I can see how four different consoles on the market creates a divide when it comes to retail shopping behavior. As a retro gamer, I wanted one of each, but most casual shoppers will pick one and go. This is likely why we continually see updated Flashbacks. Perhaps next year will bring back Coleco and Intellivision consoles.

The new surprise was the handheld version of the Sega console. It seems to be a handheld version of the console from AtGames.

Atari Flashback 6

Atari Flashback 6 Game list: 3D Tic-Tac-Toe • Adventure • Adventure II • Air Raiders • Air·Sea Battle • Aquaventure • Armor Ambush • Asteroids • Astroblast • Atari Climber • Backgammon • Basketball • Black Jack • Bowling • Breakout • Canyon Bomber • Centipede • Championship Soccer • Chase It • Circus Atari • Combat • Combat Two • Crystal Castles • Dark Cavern • Demons to Diamonds • Desert Falcon • Dodge 'Em • Double Dunk • Escape It • Fatal Run • Flag Capture • Football • Frog Pond • Frogs and Flies • Front Line • Fun with Numbers • Golf • Gravitar • Hangman • Haunted House • Home Run • Human Cannonball • Indy 500 • International Soccer • Jungle Hunt • Maze Craze • Millipede • Miniature Golf • Miss It • Missile Command • Motorodeo • Night Driver • Off The Wall • Outlaw • Polaris • Pong (Video Olympics) • Radar Lock • Realsports Baseball • Realsports Basketball • Realsports Soccer • Realsports Volleyball • Return to Haunted House • Saboteur • Save Mary • Sea Battle • Secret Quest • Shield Shifter • Sky Diver • Slot Machine • Slot Racers • Solaris • Space Attack • Space Invaders • Space War • Sprintmaster • Star Ship • Star Strike • Steeplechase • Stellar Track • Street Racer • Strip Off • Submarine Commander • Super Baseball • Super Breakout • Super Challenge Baseball • Super Challenge Football • Super Football • Surround • Sword Fight • Swordquest: Earthworld • Swordquest: Fireworld • Swordquest: Waterworld • Tempest • Video Checkers • Video Chess • Video Pinball • Warlords • Wizard • Yar's Return • Yars' Revenge

Sega Classic Game Console

Sega Classic Game Console Game list: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle • Alien Storm • Altered Beast • Arrow Flash • Bonanza Bros. • Chakan: The Forever Man • Columns • Columns III • Comix Zone • Crack Down • Decap Attack • Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine • Ecco • Ecco Jr • ESWAT: City Under Seige • Fatal Labyrinth • Flicky • Gain Ground • Golden Axe • Golden Axe II • Golden Axe III • Jewel Master • Kid Chameleon • Ristar • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master • Streets Of Rage1 • Streets Of Rage2 • Streets Of Rage3 • Sonic & Knuckles • Sonic Spinball • Sonic the Hedgehog • Sonic the Hedgehog II • The Ooze • Vectorman • Vectorman II • Virtua Fighter II • Cross the road • Jack's Pea • Jewel Magic • Curling 2010 • Mahjong Solitaire • Warehouse Keeper • Chess • Memory • Snake • Air Hockey • Spider • Naval Power • Mr. Balls • Cannon • Fight or Lose • Bottle Taps Race • Bomber • Checker • Hexagonos • Reaction Match • Whack-A-Wolf • Mirror Mirror • Memory Match • Treasure Hunt • Sparkling Truffle • Fire Fly Glow • Panic Lift • Black Sheep • Air Hockey • Space Hunter • Table Magic • Color Puzzle • Brain Switch • Mega Brain Switch • Bulls and Cows • Logic Dial • Match Eleven • Formula Challenge • Sudoku Quiz • Dominant Color • Mortal Kombat I • Mortal Kombat II • Mortal Kombat III

Sega Ultimate Portable Game Player

An interesting, and very appealing, aspect of this portable unit is you can load games via an SD card. This lets you run a whole slew of games on it in addition tot he built-in ones. I don't know the specs of the SD card or how it interacts with the handheld. This is a feature that bears more research.

Sega Genesis Ultimate Portable Game Player Game list: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle • Alien Storm • Altered Beast • Arrow Flash • Bonanza Bros. • Chakan: The Forever Man • Columns • Columns III • Comix Zone • Crack Down • Decap Attack • Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine • Ecco • Ecco 2: The Tides Of Time • Ecco Jr • ESWAT: City Under Seige • Eternal Champions • Fatal Labyrinth • Flicky • Gain Ground • Golden Axe • Golden Axe II • Golden Axe III • Jewel Master • Kid Chameleon • Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master • Streets Of Rage1 • Streets Of Rage 2 • Streets Of Rage 3 • Sonic & Knuckles • Sonic Spinball • Sonic the Hedgehog • Sonic the Hedgehog II • The Ooze • Vectorman • Vectorman II • Virtua Fighter2 • Ristar • Sonic 3D Blast

BONUS GAMES: Cross the road • Jack's Pea • Jewel Magic • Curling 2010 • Fish Story • Mahjong • Warehouse Keeper • Chess • Memory • Snake • Air Hockey • Spider • Naval Power • Mr. Balls • Cannon • Fight or Lose • Bottle Taps Race • Bomber • Checker • Hexagonos • Reaction Match • Whack-A-Wolf • Mirror Mirror • Memory Match • Tresure Hunt • Fire Fly Glow • Panic Lift • Black Sheep • Space Hunter • Flash Memory • Table Magic • Color Puzzle • Brain Switch • Mega Brain Switch • Bulls and Cows • Logic Dial • Match Eleven • Formula Challenge • Sudoku Quiz • Dominant Color

October 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

iZombie is back for Season 2!!!

October 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Next, Dream Gear releases a handheld console full of games you've never heard of

Not long ago I saw The Retro Machine at Toys R Us. It's a faux game console touting over 200 arcade games. I don't know what arcade they've been visiting, but none of the arcades I've played feature any of these games. Essentially, this unit from Dream Gear is loaded with Flash-style games. I suppose it might appeal to little kids who haven't been exposed to real video games.

Gamers know to avoid such devices, but these things show up around the holidays when everyone wants to maximize their budget. Too often a parent or grandparent will buy one of these devices thinking it contains real video games. It sounds tempting to have 200 arcade games in one small unit, but don't believe it.

You'll be much better off buying a Flashback or a Genesis Classic with built-in games.

Gamer Portable Gamer Portable packaging touts 220 games, however, none of them are games you've heard of or seen in arcades.
Gamer Portable The Gamer Portable offers Flash-like games that are short and have no real depth.

October 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I had to ask OreIda about the disappearance of my favorite retro gaming snack, Crispy Crowns

No, These are not tater tots. Crispy Crowns are delicious discs of potato awesomeness. Tater tots are generic dreck. I usually don't get so wound up over a snack... unless you take it away from me. Not that you'd ever do such a thing, but let it be known that I'm pretty territorial about snack food.

It's rarely a good idea to mess with a man's gaming snack.
The last few times I went to Stop & Shop, I was unable to find OreIda's Crispy Crowns. As my sense of unrest grew, I decided to ask customer service if they were still selling this product. I hoped this would lead to a database, however it led to speculation that the product may have been discontinued. I found their lack of technical resources and low concern disappointing. I discovered the OreIda website had just what I needed.

I could select the product, enter my zipcode and find all the stores that sell it. As much as I liked this specific search ability, my search led me to discover that every Stop & Shop except mine carries Crispy Crowns. Until I get to the bottom of this mystery, I'll have to drive to the next town to get my potato fix.

I sent the pic below to the OreIda Twitter account in the hope they could redirect my snack-of-choice to my local store. I guess they sympathize, but didn't offer any logic to omitting one store in my area.

OreIda Crispy Crowns

In Other Snacking News...

Pepsi Perfect Pepsi Perfect returns in very limited quantities (and a high price tag) for the Back To The Future II anniversary. Pepsi Perfect will be released on October 21 the day Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future II. It's always nice when a deft product placement payes off decades later!
Burger King's Halloween Whoper Burger King's Halloween Whopper is infused with A1 sauce to enhance flavor and give it a darkened look. The excretion of this spooky Halloween concoction has spawned the #GreenPoop hashtag. I sense a marketing blunder somewhere in this mix.

October 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Since collectors scoop up amiibo for their display cases, here's a view they may not have seen

When I heard about amiibo, I was excited about their ability to have different effects in different games. Activision used NFC in it's Skylanders games to bring characters in and out of each game. It seemed pretty cool to have similar figures that would have effects on various Nintendo Wii U and 3DS games.

Amiibo gained popularity quite quickly, but I've found very few articles about their in-game attributes. I conclude that most amiibo buyers are collectors keep their NFC figures in-box on shelves. They don't open and play them in games, they take the incessant shelfies we see across social media.

With this in mind, I decided to post this photo for all those collectors who've never seen the bottom of an amiibo.

bottom of an amiibo I completely understand the increased value in keeping a collectible in the original packaging, but it seems strange that so few folks ever mention amiibo in a game playing sense. I think most amiibo go from sitting on store shelves to sitting on owner's shelves. Buy and extra one to play with :)
October 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Toys-To-Life may be growing, but so is my intolerance for excessive video game add-ons

After buying tons of Skylanders and trying the Disney Infinity franchise, I have little interest in adding another "toys to life" game to our repertoire. Analysts keep saying this is an ever-growing segment of video gaming, but I don't want any more games that require so much extra detritus to play.

All of the aisles in my local Toys R Us' gaming area are comprised of Toys To Life add-ons. They have 4 aisles in the gaming area. They are dedicated to amiibo, Disney Infinity, Skylanders, and LEGO Dimensions. This floor space is predominantly dedicated to ONLY 3 GAMES! The hundreds of other games they sell are crammed into locked glass cases!

LEGO Dimensions The LEGO Dimensions add-ons at my local Toys R Us Between DLC and NFC collectible figures, video gaming is becoming ridiculously expensive for all the wrong reasons. The novelty of Skylanders hooked me, but after being disappointed by Disney Infinity, I'm not at all excited about the LEGO entry. My son loves LEGO, but I am no longer buying dozens of figures for a single game. I'm very surprised that none of these manufacturers will create more than ONE game for each deluge of figures. They must think their customers are wealthy or dumb. Compatibility is nice, between games, but no one wants to recycle old figures in a new game that is really designed to take advantage of the latest release.

I'm glad my son still likes to play Missile Command and Wizard of Wor. I doubt I'll be playing Skylanders or Infinity thirty years from now, but if i'm still alive, you can bet I'll be playing 8-bit games. :)
October 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I hope Expedition Island, an Atari 2600 port of Wonder Boy / Adventure Island, will be released

Wonder Boy Earlier this year an interesting thread began, on AtariAge in March, from a user who was porting Sega's Wonder Boy / Adventure Island (1986) to the Atari 2600. Titled Expedition Island, he posted 2 demo versions as he progressed. The messages only continued for a few days before there was no more activity on the thread. I hope this project is still in development.

The demo is fun and holds a lot of promise. You can download it from the Expedition Island thread. Currently it is an endless demo that lets you encounter all the circumstances of the level. You can't die, so enjoy the run!

I wasn't familiar with the arcade game Wonder Boy, but was familiar with the series of side-scrolling games under the name Adventure Island. It has several sequels on Nintendo platforms among others. If you take a look at the former games in this series, you'll see how cool this Atari 2600 port really is. I hope all is well with the developer and that a finished game will emerge in time.

Atari homebrew Expedition Island
October 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Star Force Pi is an upcoming Raspberry Pi based tabletop arcade game with HDMI output

Here's a tabletop game with a twist. I've seen countless Raspberry Pi inspired Mame projects that range from small enclosures and bartop designs to full size arcade cabinets.

Star Force Pi What I like about the Star Force Pi is it's portability, micro-switch joystick, and the ability to connect to a TV or monitor. A rechargeable battery lets you to easily move the device and the HDMI output ports the video to a larger screen - like your TV. As I understand it, it's HDMI does not transfer the audio, but they will have another output for audio.

From what I've read, the Star Force Pi is a relatively new concept that is still in the development phase with updates coming as ideas are implemented. The designer is working to perfect the design while gauging interest in such a device.

The design itself mimics the open design of Raspberry Pi itself. Many of the components are designed to be replaced/upgraded with ease. While it runs Mame, you can imagine the vast number of arcade games you can run on such a system. I've seen other RP-based designs that use SD cards to supply RMS to the computer. The Star Force Pi seems to have an 10T Ethernet jack that allows one to download files.

Star Force Pi This project is to be crowd funded once they determine some of the base attributes. Keep an eye out for that and follow the progress online. There's a lot of good info and interaction on this AtariAge thread and you can follow this project on Facebook and Twitter.

October 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

MY local arcade sports this slick Flintstone's car

During the Summer, my local arcade has this Flintston'e car out front. It's not a a motorized ride, but a wonderful relic with plenty of play potential. Alas, I've never seen a kid sit in it, which makes me think the age divide between their patrons and myself is further growing. I always take a picture of my son sitting in it... and then he photographs me sitting in it. Who doesn't love the Flintstones?

The Flintstone's car
October 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Britney Spears' Vegas residency has garnered her a signature slot machine by Aristocrat

A story about Britney Spears' signature slot machine in Las Vegas got my mind spinning about casino slots, retro gaming and music. Pardon the following randomness...

One facet of having kids is there's someone to pass things down to. My son will be inundated with CDs, DVDs, and video games after I expire. However, it's not just about physical things. There are plenty of things I want to expose him to that are really not part of his generation. Music is something his generation sees differently from mine.

Britney Spears signature casino slot machine In the 80s, I laughed at cassingles (single hit songs on a cassette tape) and thought the same when it's tech graduated to CD singles. Aside from the infrequently interesting B-sides, singles-media took up the same space as the full album - a strange idea in the midst of the physical media movement. My son has most of his favorite music on his iPhone. His generation doesn't value the idea of an album - rather, they want to pick the songs they like at 99 cents each. Very similar to cassingles... in my view. I want the whole album experience.

This past Summer, Van Halen released 5 remastered CDs of their original albums. A grand excuse to splurge on Eddie and show my son the value of albums and how songs were carefully arranged on them by the artists. When you can peruse iTunes at your leisure, it's hard to imagine waiting a year (or more) for your favorite band to release another album.

Britney Spears signature casino slot machine We also delved into Dio and Def Leppard, but I've been saving System Of A Down for his next visit. These are all bands that are still releasing albums, but the music industry has all but forgotten rock & roll. Everyone is a pop star or into hip hop. My job is to ensure that AC/CD and Judas Priest are revered above today's domination by Taylor Swift - recently added to Fortune's "40 under 40" list. My son and I still like to sing along to Iggy Azalea's Fancy, but we know Kiss is far preferable.

Britney Spears signature casino slot machine by Aristocrat I freely admit I like Taylor Swift along with Miley Cyrus and a few Ariana Grande songs, but that form of music lacks the driving beat that rock and roll has always provided me. These lady's seem like overnight sensations, but I suppose they are rooted in similar time lines as earlier successes like Britney Spears.

/ Hold on tight, Stern Electronics segue approaching /

Stern Pinball

I can't put into words how much I loved playing Stern's Berzerk in arcades. While owning a few ports for various home consoles, I have never seen a Berzerk arcade game since I was a teenage arcade addict. While now defunct in the video game world, Stern has evolved into the premiere pinball manufacturer in the world. Much of that success comes from creating tables themed after iconic bands, pop culture, and high profile commodities. This model has served them well.

Their AC/DC, Metallica, and Kiss pinball tables have garnered a lot of attention outside the gaming industry. Their tables have mass appeal and part of this has to do with their quality and ability to capture their subjects within the confine of a pinball game. From elaborate art work to infusing icons of Kiss' magnitude and popular shows like The Walking Dead into the tables, they remain high profile and on the cutting edge of melding pop culture into gaming. The Governor's Aquarium topper was astounding and wildly unique.

This is a model I wasn't very familiar with. I wouldn't have though it possible to create a pinball games around a rock band, TV show, or pop culture and enable the game to remain pure while garnering it's audience. My confusion came from the relationship not being a celebrity endorsement for Stern as a company. These tables seem to add validity to the artists. It's similar to musicians who would ask Weird Al to parody their songs - it was a badge of honor. Well done, Stern Pinball.

Britney Spears signature casino slot machine screen

Britney Spears Slot Machine

Hedging back toward my affinity for Britney Spears, I find a similar affiliation in her signature casino slot machine released by Aristocrat. She has a residency agreement in Las Vegas and now a signature slot machine. It boasts multiple 4K curved monitors with images from various phases of her career.

Her fans can see her Vegas show and play her slot machine. Britney has no connection to gambling aside from the performance venue, yet there she stands in front of her signature casino game. Her celebrity creates a draw which has been turned into a high-end slot machine.

I wonder if this will happen in video games. Which celebrity do you think has the star-power to be put into a video game as themselves, but removed from their persona or character - unlike the myriad of movie tie-in games. Kind of like The SNES & genesis game, Shaq Fu. If anyone can pull it off, my money is on Taylor Swift. There's a lot of power and business acumen behind that country gal gone pop star.


I began writing this after discovering Britney has a signature slot machine in Vegas. The only thing I could liken it to was Stern's iconic pinball tables for Metallica, AC/DC, and Kiss. This reminded me that I need to expose my son to Metallica as he already has an affinity for Gene, Paul, Ace, and Angus. It's really important that today's youth doesn't dive blindly into what the times see fit to offer. They need to explore the niches of music and gaming and find the treasures buried there. I feel bad for the kid playing Xbox who's never played Yar's Revenge while listening to Detroit Rock City. The world has much more to offer than the costly trinkets from devious marketing execs. Make the world your own!

Britney Spears is No Stranger to Video Games

Britney was put front and center in this button-matching dance game. It's a good example of a celebrity being placed in a video game as their persona. In this case Britney is auditioning "you" as a dancer for her upcoming tour. Pretty much what we'd expect to see. I want to see celebrity taken out of their expected context. Kind of like Shaq Fu being a fighting game - we expect Shaq to be in a sports oriented title, not a 2D fighter.

Britney's Dance Beat Screen shot from Britney's Dance Beat video game
Britney's Dance Beat for Game Boy Advance Britney's Dance Beat for Game Boy Advance.
Britney's Dance Beat for PS2 Britney's Dance Beat for PS2.

Let's remove celebrities from the roles that brought on their celebrity status and drop them into a video game. Am I the only one who wants to see Taylor Swift in a 2D fighter?
October 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A good cocktail is hard to come by- especially with Frogger

No one seems to invite friends over for cocktails anymore. It's always a meet-up at a bar. The notion of crafting a fine alcoholic drink at home feels like a lost art. This skill has seemingly been relegated to behind-the-bar professionals who are better suited to pour. It's a lost art, I say.

Frogger arcade game Alas, I can't say I have many skills in the art of the mixed drink, but I grow weary of the lite-beer offers I get. Just once I'd like to be offered a gin and tonic before we delve into the night's festivities. I'd be hard pressed to say a gin and tonic is the proper beverage to accompany 4-player Warlords on an Atari 2600, but it wouldn't hurt to try.

Cocktails have taken a backseat for quite some time - even in the arcade realm. You saw this segue coming, right? The arcades of the 80's predominantly featured upright game cabinets. Even before maximizing the earnings-per-square-foot was financially paramount in arcades, cocktail style games were few and far between.

I recall seeing them in restaurants or spaces that traditionally didn't have arcade games. They certainly took up more floor space than their upright counterparts, but there was something really unique about the cocktail arcade game experience. Sitting across from your opponent/friend waiting for the screen to flip around for your turn was pretty cool.

Naturally, the setup had to include 2 sets of controls which necessitated having enough floor space for the unit as well as 2 chairs. This wasn't the sort of machine you could jam up against another one. If you've ever dined where the tables are much too close to one another, then you can imagine having a few cocktail arcade games jammed together. Not much fun for anyone. But upright cabinets didn't suffer that personal space issue. Cocktail arcade games set a different mood.

Frogger arcade controls Player 1's view. This cocktail Frogger game was situated in the front of the arcade by a large window. This glare was constant during daylight hours. This is clearly a nighttime setup :)
Frogger arcade controls Player 2's view. It was a bit unnerving to sit on the back side and have only a joystick. I felt naked without a fire button of some kind.

Cocktail Tempest & Pizza

My favorite one was in a pizza restaurant where my buddy and I would each get a few slices & sodas and precariously rest our meals just outside the viewable screen area of Tempest. We would sit there for an hour dropping quarters and eating - alternating playing. The owners seemed content to have us dine off the Tempest's glass top.

Frogger arcade screen The unique spinner control had a heft to it and spun like greased lightning as your Blaster seemingly danced across each vector shape. It was a break-through machine and our eat & play routine was an epic part of that Summer. This was during the summers about 30 years ago, so it's been a while since I found a cocktail arcade game in my travels.

As luck would have it a local arcade has been slowly expanding their retro games and my son and I discovered they had a cocktail style Frogger! Konami has done a great job in keeping Frogger relevant on consoles, mobile, and arcades over the years. My son recognized it immediately and we sat down to "play in traffic".

Even though I routinely sit in front of the TV to play video games, I had forgotten how wonderful that experience is with a cocktail arcade game - especially with a classic like Frogger. If you feel as though your home is inundated with video games - and why would you ever leave that - seek out an arcade.... You may likely find a completely different gaming experience.

It always feels good to step into an arcade.