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

8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Second Quarter 2015 - April May June

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

June 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

June 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

We're taking an extended break to revel in the awesomeness of Summer Vacation!

My son is coming up for the Summer, so we can play video games, get StreetPasses, play air hockey, watch movies, play board games, and chill out at the beach. The website will be fairly dormant during these weeks, but we'll try to update social media along the way.

We had an atrocious Winter, so we're excited to become familiar with the warm sun, salt air, and sand in our toes... and Street Fighter IV local play on our 2DSes. We hope you all can enjoy some time off to play video games and catch up on all the things you love to do.

Play hard, have fun!
June 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Jaws was released on June 20, 1975 and is still a great flick & a nominal NES game

Every Summer, our local theater kicks off the Summer season with a showing of Jaws. Even though it hails from 1975, it always conjures a lot of suspense and is a great flick to usher in the Summer beach season. The 1987 NES video game doesn't come close to capturing that suspense, but if you like shooting jellyfish while scuba diving... give it a whirl!

Jaws for the Nintendo NES Check out our review of Jaws for the NES!
June 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Playboy did a retro gaming photo shoot with geek girl Meg Turney

Geek Girl Meg Turney did a photo shoot for Playboy and they added some nice retro flair to the set with an Atari 2600. The perfect addition to any setting!

Playboy's retro gaming photo shoot with Meg Turney

Playboy's retro gaming photo shoot with Meg Turney
June 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Trump's continual pursuit of POTUS is like that bad game that keeps finding it's way into your console

I think we all have that one game that looks so good, but it's gameplay eludes you. A momentary thought that it might be a good game. In it goes. The startup screen appears and the memories come flooding back... It's an awful game!!

Sometimes the desire to play a game I haven't played for a while falls into this category. When my usual stash of go-to games becomes a bit stale and I need an injection of new game play. I'll comb through my games seeking a title I haven't played for a while. Time tends to take it's toll and I pull out an awful game not knowing it's really terrible until I begin playing.

Trumps continual dipping into faux-politics is just like that awful game. Suddenly, you see how lousy it is. Don't get tricked into playing POTUS Patrol with the Donald! :)

Donald Trump in POTUS Patrol

Trump has threatened to run for President the last few elections, but this year he's taking it to an official level and assaulting us with his Richie Rich rhetoric. If nothing else it's fodder for late-night TV humor.

Trump claims to run for President... again
June 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Geek-girl Meg Turney posing with an Atari 2600

It's hard to resist a geek-girl with an Atari 2600!

Geek-girl Meg Turney
June 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Radioshack hiring ads are met with well-earned criticism

Radioshack hiring ad We've written a few articles about Radioshack and how awesome they were... decades ago. They spurred many of us into learning more about electronics and taking on projects that taught us a love for tinkering.

Then they hit hard times. The world modernized around them and they were not successful in catching up. Ultimately they became expensive providers of things we now buy online. Then they became a phone store of sorts.

After emerging from a bankruptcy buyout, The Shack is attempting a comeback... again. Fool me once... right?

Not all of their stores closed. After shuttering the majority of it's locations, new owners are now trying to revive the brand in brick and mortar. Circuit City became an online-only entity, after Best Buy beat them, and was later merged with Tiger Direct. And sooner or later a better retail solution will shutter Best Buy (remember this when they offer you a pricey extended warranty).

Part of Radioshack's dismal comeback requires employees - more employees than they currently have after laying them off. It's no wonder that posting a big graphic about hiring was met with a lot of well-deserved criticism. With owners coming and going, it's hard to pin down who to blame for which error, but if the current owners want to maintain the Radioshack name, they need a better direction.

A Less Than Stellar Revival

Posting "Help Wanted" graphics on social media after laying off a majority of workers makes it clear that the new Shack will likely be gone in the coming months. The previous revival came with a great Superbowl ad and sense of energy at the store level and across social media. This "Help Wanted" flub tells me that new management is disconnected from humanity and any remaining customers.

It was a great ride and I'm glad I was able to take advantage of their formerly great service and products.
June 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

E3: Microsoft announces Xbone compatibility with digital download of Xbox 360 games

Microsoft announced at E3 that the Xbox One will now be compatible with Xbox 360 games. Better late than never. Moves like this always make me suspicious. Backward compatibility at launch is a benefit to your loyal customers who will want to play their existing games while they wait for the new console's library to grow. Announcing backward compatibility a year and a half after launch is nice, but why were they so staunch about severing 360 ties at launch?

With the exception of the Wii U, Generation 8 was the end of backward compatibility for game consoles. I always though this was shortsighted from the customer's point of view, but I suppose the Big Boys had their reasons. I"ll bet it has to do with... profits.

Virtual console has been a great way to buy retro titles on Nintendo consoles, and Microsoft's announcement seems somewhat similar. They're offering select Xbox 360 games for digital download on Xbone. From what I understand, if you own the 360 disc, pop it in and a digital version will be downloaded for play via Microsoft's new Xbox One emulator. This scenario is free as long as the original game disc is in the slot for verification.

Microsoft announces Xbone compatibility You may recall (Dec. 2013) Xbox 360 compatibility was riling the ranks of the Internet with a fake sequence that would allegedly unlock backward compatibility. some folks fell for this ploy and wound up bricking their new Xbones. 1.5 years later, Microsoft decides to sell digital games and let original disc-owners play for free. This doesn't seem like the sort of move that will sell a lot of new Xbones. I'm curious to see how gamers react and what Microsoft gains from it.

It should be interesting to see how this plays out. I'm not an Xbone owner, but business decisions like this are what makes video games an interesting industry. You never know what might happen.
June 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Intellivision Gen2 project aims to reboot 3 iconic games for Mac & PC via Kickstarter

Retroaction Entertainment logo Retro gaming seems to be expanding in a lot of new ways these days. I'm seeing folks my age jumping back into the consoles they grew up with along with a new breed of younger gamer who are getting hooked on the pixelated awesomeness of days gone by. Most modern consoles offer retro opportunities via online stores.

A lot of retro energy has been coming from Game Gavel founder Mike Kennedy who also started Retro Magazine and the upcoming Retro VGS game console. Currently he has a Kickstarter for Intellivision Gen2. This is a project to modernize (while retaining the original pixel'd glory) 3 Intellivision games for the Mac and PC. The games are: AstroSmash, Shark Shark, and Night Stalker.

If successful, this project seems to be heading toward releasing more 3-packs of rebooted Intellivision games. Much the way M2 is releasing Sega classics for the 3DS... as long as they sell well. Seems like a good plan!

If you watch the game-play videos on their Kickstarter page, you'll see they already have working versions, so they aren't starting this gig at ground zero. The videos also show what a great job they've done updating these classics while maintaining the look and feel that made them iconic to begin with.

Intellivision Gen2 project screen shots Shown above are the original and rebooted screens for each of the 3 games. This sounds like a cool idea, but they have a long way to go to meet their $100,000 goal. Others have commented that this seems like a large figure compared with other gaming Kickstarter campaigns. This is a cool project and we'll have to see if it gains more momentum in it's final stretch.

My First Intellivision

As a kid I opted for the Atari 2600 since it was getting ports of some of my favorite arcade games. Back then, that was the most important thing to me. A friend got an Intellivision for Christmas, but I simply wasn't excited about it. As I grew up and had a wider perspective of gaming, I realized how cool many of the Intellivision games were.

Intellivision certainly had better sports games, but I alway felt Atari took top place with space battles and arcade ports. However, I was excited to find a Collection of Classic Intellivision Games for the PSone and Intellivision Lives for PS2 and Nintendo's DS. After that experience with the Intellivision games, I finally bought an original console... 30 years after it's debut. Better late than never!
June 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
June 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From supermodel to diva, Game of War enlists Mariah Carey as their resident gladiator

Have you read articles about the glut of mobile games being introduced each month? Between Apple's iTunes store and Google Play, new apps number in the thousands - per month! I frequently read articles about wading through this mass of apps to find the good ones. In our case, mobile games are also swirling around in this ocean of mediocrity. So how do you find the good games? Are they the successful ones having advertising budgets including TV ads? Not always.

Kate Upton on horseback in Game of War Fire Age Machine Zone's Game of War: Fire Age is in the news again. Aside from their intake of $1 million dollars each day, they are boosting their celebrity-factor with a new spokeswoman. As we balk at the million dollar per day statement, it's easy to see how this allows them to do almost anything they want in terms of promotion.

Earlier, we noted their casting of supermodel Kate Upton to appear in commercials and the game itself as part of a $40 million advertising campaign by the game's developer.

Game of War Taking Upton's place is singer, Mariah Carey. At 45 years of age with dwindling album sales, we wonder who this deal helps more. It would seem that each party can draw benefits from this deal - beyond the 7-figure paycheck for Carey.

She recently had a clever album release that may not have translated into the desired sales level. If these ads (print and TV) are as rampant as Kate Upton's, Carey could once again become a household need.

Popularity comes and goes. Who benefits more - Maria or Machine Zone?
In all of this, I wonder how large a game developer has to be to select a spokesperson who has zero ties to gaming? Aside from the popular notion that "sex sells", is a random celebrity a better rep than someone connected to gaming in some fashion? Or how about showing footage from the game itself!?!

Pretty girls are used all the time to promote products, but I was surprised to see Upton's likeness be incorporated into the game. If Mariah Carey came out saying she's a gamer, I'd call BS in a heartbeat - lol. I'm interested that Machine Zone is going this route again.

In advertising, Nintendo has gone the route of showing game play and people having fun playing these games. Rarely do mobile gaming ads show the players. I think all gaming promotion should be more closely tied to the games. Neither Kate or Mariah will be playing games with you, so the company that delivers the most compelling game should triumph. If it were only that simple...
June 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Interactive Gaming Toys -VS- Toys To Life, where do you stand?

The first time I read an article using the term "Toys to Life" I had no idea what they were talking about. Some new AI toy? A robot? What the Hell are "Toys to Life"? It sounded Frankenstein inspired! They were referring to the trend started by Activision with their Skylanders Franchise in which 3D figures are placed on a base that brings them into the game. It's not just game discs anymore - now you have to buy action figures. This successful trend has spawned Disney Infinity figures and amiibo.

I saw NPD recently refer to these gaming figures as "Interactive Gaming Toys" which I much prefer. No one is bringing toys to life.

Amiibo, Infinity, Skylanders, Tank Girl Each of these type of figures are used a little differently, although they all use similar Near Field Communication (NFC) to allow a toy figure to initiate some occurrence within a video game. I feel Skylanders has done the best job of integrating the experience within the contest of each video game. Both Infinity and amiibo have weaker ties to game play as the Skylanders' Portal is part of the storyline rather than an accessory.

Regardless which of these games you play, each new release entails buying another expensive starter pack and a new set of characters. If you're like me and somewhat of a slave to these purchases, at least you can voice an opinion about whether toys are being brought to life. They're interactive gaming toys!! :)
June 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

This Lyft driver puts retro gaming in your hands during your ride

I don't know a lot about Lyft, Uber, and other "techie-cab" companies outside of articles claiming they are causing chaos for traditional cab companies. Cab driving is an aging profession that doesn't seem to be modernizing with the times. Many businesses that have operated in a certain manner find it difficult to change their ways with the changing times. Tech companies are applying modern ingenuity to make improvements that are likely difficult hurdles for the established cab companies.

VideoLyft is a Lyft driver who offers in-ride video games @VideoLyft followed me on Twitter recently and I took a look at his account to see if I wanted to return the follow. I did!

If you're not familiar with these new age cab companies, they are based online and use mobile apps to match a driver to a person requiring a ride. Just as you might hail a city cab with the wave of your hand, these new companies let you do it with the swipe of a finger.

Companies like Lyft are not your traditional cab companies and neither are their drivers. For one, drivers use there own cars and some of them provide themed rides of various sorts.

Video Lyft is a driver offering a retro gaming ride! With LCD screens in the headrests and a projector for the ceiling display. From classic flicks to retro video games, you can try to get a high score during your ride or sit back and catch part of a movie. This sounds much better than the cab rides I've had in the past.

Video Lyft retro gaming car service VideoLyft's car is outfitted with screens in the headrests and plenty of controllers for riders.
Video Lyft retro gaming car service Doesn't everyone have an N64 in their car? Think of the fun you'd have on this ride. I wouldn't want to leave.

Video Lyft operates in San Francisco, CA. If you're out that way, he sounds like a much better option than the standard cab ride. I'll bet people would pay to be driven around San Fran while they play Street Fighter II or Mario Kart 64. Sounds like a great way to tour the city and have a blast!

Video Lyft retro gaming car service
June 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Forget movie night- I want to to play retro games on Pizza Hut's blockbuster box projector

Pizza Hut's pizza box projector Upon hearing about Pizza Hut's DIY pizza box movie projector, I was convinced it was a hoax. Someone clever enough to cobble together a convincing video could then let social media work it's magic. Oh yeah, claim it happened somewhere... like China.

However, it seems as though this low tech contraption actually works. People have constructed similar projectors with shoe boxes and a magnifying glass. I'm fascinated by this and love it's simplicity. Why haven't I done this?!?

The heart of Pizza Hut's Blockbuster Box is the 3-legged stand that keeps the box from collapsing on your pizza. It serves 2 additional purposes as a detachable lens that fits into a punch-out on the front of the box holding your phone at the right angle. Next you can scan a QR code to retrieve a movie. They offer action, horror, romance, and Sci-fi selections or you can delve into anything that will display on your phone.

While this tasty entertainment scenario is currently only available in Hong Kong (no, really) there are plenty of online tutorials for making such a projector with relative ease. Whereas I like the idea of having this entertainment solution delivered to my door, until Pizza Hut expands this marketing ploy, you'll have to make one yourself... pizza not included.

Pizza Hut's pizza box projector Pizza Hut's Blockbuster Box This sounds like a fun project with the kids that yields a movie night with pizza. It is recommended you employ Bluetooth speakers since your phone will be inside a pizza box.

Let's Project Some Retro Games

The suggestion of Bluetooth speakers made me think of the similar game controllers available for Android ad iOS devices. Suddenly, I'm ditching movie night to set p a greasy pizza box retro gaming projector. If you hate the way retro games look on a modern LCD TV, this shabby projector may be just retro enough to bring out the best with your favorite retro console emulator.

Slap your Android inside a box and let pixelated bliss splash across your living room wall!

June 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Polybius urban legend is the “Bigfoot” of the arcade world

Polybius marquee Just when I thought the Atari Landfill legend was as crazy as things get in gaming lore, I discovered a Kickstarter campaign to investigate a mysterious early 1980s arcade game said to have been released in the Portland, Oregon area. I don't believe there have been any Bigfoot sightings in arcades, but there are plenty of fuzzy pics of an arcade game called Polybius.

It's mystery is not rooted in anything as sane as debating discarded game carts in a landfill. The Polybius mystery surrounds an arcade game many have heard of, few have seen, and fewer have actually played. One might like to believe that it was an amazing game that lost funding and disappeared or that it was created by an enterprising game company who wanted to test their creation in the real world. But, No. That is not the legend of Polybius.

They say it came. Epic lines formed. Then it was gone. Players were changed by it. Some died. Some went insane.

Allegedly a Polybius Arcade game It sounds like a combination between the films Brainscan and The Ring. I'm all for an eerie tale - especially if it involves video games, but this one is way out there. As much as I love watching Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet, I know they'll never find a Squatch regardless of how many foot prints they cast or how much Squatch poop they think they've found. They've never even produced a single blurry photo.

With tales of endless lines of kids waiting to play Polybius, why are all the pictures Photoshopped or just plain blurry? Where are the news stories. Pac-Man fever was declared in everything from local newspapers to People Magazine. Lines going out the door of an arcade over a single game? OK, where was the news media that day?

Even though those "researchers" will never find Bigfoot, the show is fun to watch. I'm sure this documentary film will have the same appeal and it surrounds video games... Gotta like that!

The game is described as similar to Tempest but seemed to mesmerize players and leave them altered in some fashion. It wouldn't be a complete tale without some Government conspiracy facets - like men in black coming to retrieve data from inside the arcade cabinet.

Allegedly a Polybius Arcade game Polybius even made an appearance on The Simpsons complete with a Gov't Property stamp. Classic! Polybius even made the Simpsons which certainly gives it a lot of pop culture credibility. Although finding more tangible credibility may prove difficult. It was rumored that someone discovered a Polybius arcade cabinet in an Oregon storage locker. Alas, no pictures surfaced. Yep, this tale is steeped in urban legend, but that's what makes it fun and appealing.

Polybius Kickstarter Campaign The Polybius kickstarter didn't make it's goal, but I'm almost positive it made $25,000 in the last few hours. I recall it being around $50K a few hours before it ended and suddenly it was at $73K. That's pretty amazing! Everyone loves a good story - even if if may be as contrived as Bigfoot. Keep an eye out for this film. Despite not making their Kickstarter goal, I'm sure it will be released and it should be a great story!
June 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bally put 6 million into a pinball machine in 1978, but Steve & Jaime wouldn't unite until a 2010 Con

Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors were together at Dragon Con September 2013. I believe this pic is from that Dragon Con event. The bionic stars had previously reunited with Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman) at the Wizard World Austin Comic Con, November 2010.

I loved the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman. I watched Steve Austin each week with my Dad who would point out all the buildings he recognized from the DC area - in particular Oscar Goldman's office.

Lee Majors & Lindsey Wagner at a comic con I had a lot of GI Joe figures and vehicles, so I was never bestowed the Six Million Dollar Man figure. I remember seeing it stores and looking through his bionic eye. My jaw dropped when a friend of mine got Steve and I was able to see how you could access his arm to repair his bionics. Such vivid memories - I'm surprised I never bought one. :)

It took until 2005 for the Six Million Dollar Man's DVDs to appear due to copyright issues with the original book. Martin Caidin wrote four novels featuring his original version of Steve Austin beginning in 1972 with Cyborg. It makes me wonder if that's why there was never a TV show tie-in video game for either Steve or Jaime. Bally released a Six Million Dollar Man pinball machine in 1978.

Six Million Dollar Man pinball machine - 1978 Both shows had board game tie-ins, but no video games. An attempt to make a Bionic Woman TV series in 2007 was met with poor reviews. I don't believe there has been any sort of reboot of the Steve Austin character. I guess you really can't duplicate a classic!
June 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If you don't have the time... Mr. Jones makes a very cool limited edition Super Mario watch

Mr. Jones watch logo It's not often I wear a watch. With digital timepieces embedded in nearly every electronic device, I rarely find the need to wear one. Everywhere I go, I have several options for determining the time from my phone to my 2DS. Most of us do, however, watches have taken on more of an accessory role. Watches have become fashion accessories or statements of wealth. But knowing if you're late for a meeting does not require an expensive watch!

Perhaps the Apple Watch will bring more attention to watches as functional devices, going well beyond the time of day. I certainly see the appeal of cool watches. Take a look at some of the designs from Mr Jones Watches in London. We particularly like the "Sun and Moon Miyamoto" watch.

This watch is a limited edition piece of only 100 units. The website allows you to choose which numbered watch you wish to purchase. It will set you back about $270, but they ship globally.

Sun And Moon Miyamoto Watch

Sun And Moon Miyamoto watch Sun And Moon Miyamoto watch. The minutes and seconds are displayed in the centre dial and these run in the conventional way, so each marker on this dial corresponds to five minutes or seconds.
Sun And Moon Miyamoto watch Sun And Moon Miyamoto watch. "Sun and Moon" watches were first produced in England in the late 1600s during a period of experimentation with ways to represent the time.

We love the elaborate comparison made between playing video games and wearing a Mr. Jones watch. Part of the website's text follows:

This watch has graphics inspired by the world of Super Mario. The imagery on the hour disc pays homage to the cartoon unreality of Mario's landscape - a nostalgic trigger for anyone who spent their childhood exploring this strange world. The watch is named after the designer of the Super Mario games Shigeru Miyamoto.

Beyond the playfulness of the design, I wanted to explore a link between the imagined world of the video game and the mental construct of time telling: both are artful, human inventions that operate with their own internal logic and rules; yet both appear to be entirely coherent and in a curious way natural.

The control of Mario in the game world makes him feel like an extension of our body - we move him, as we move our own limbs, without conscious thought. Similarly we internalize hours, minutes and seconds to the extent that we cannot see them as human invention. Ultimately time, as we measure it, is as 'unreal' as a world of powerups and long-tongued dinosaurs.

Yikes ! That was a mouthful!

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch

VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch

Now this is my kind of watch! I love the LL Bean watch my parents bought me, but I also like video games and watching Johnny Test and Regular Show. Thus my time piece of choice needs to reflect and celebrate my childishness.

With multiple watch faces to choose from, a built-in camera, and a few games, this kiddie gadget is the perfect hybrid for me. It's a little bit Apple Watch and a little bit game-oriented. What's not to like for $45?

Wait - it has a voice recorder with five wacky voice-changing effects? I think my smartwatch needs have now been exceeded!

In all seriousness, this kid's watch is very basic and most kids who've used a tablet or smartphone, will become bored with this Vtech product within minutes.
Party on, Wayne!
June 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Flappy Bird apparel left me on the brink of stylistic indecision

Flappy Bird Hat When the Flappy Bird craze briefly took over the mobile gaming world last year, I had to take a peek. A game so difficult I could barely break a double-digit score, yet fun enough to make me want to try again, was right up my alley. Then it was gone! The developer pulled the game under seemingly odd circumstances and the web went nuts.

It was still installed on my phone an on the phones of others. eBay began to brim with auctions for old phones - with Flappy Bird installed - for outrageous sums. Then the odd little bird came back on Amazon's Fire HD. Wait... what? Instead of the usual memes (OK, there were a few) developers began coding Flappy Bird for a variety of platforms including the Atari 2600. Then it was licensed and released as an arcade game with a full-size cabinet.

I thought those days were behind us. Then I saw a Flappy Bird hat at New Bury Comics - drastically marked down in price. Even at a few dollars, I scoffed at anyone who would buy (or wear) it.

By the time I got home, I realized I needed to have a Flappy Bird hat. I love hats and have a collection of them from various eras and with now-defunct logos, so it seemed Flappy Bird would be a fitting addition to my odd batch of hats.

Flappy Bird Hat I spotted this Flappy Bird Hat at Newbury Comics and decided to pass on it.
Flappy Bird Hat Went back the next day and bought the Flappy Bird Hat.

Flappy Bird Shirt Yes, I went back to the store and figured at it's deep discounted price someone would have bought it. I smiled when I saw it hanging on the rack and brought it to the register. I'm an idiot. But now I have a Flappy Bird hat.

Of course, not everyone shares my enthusiasm for owning some Flappy Bird apparel - - >
June 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The possibility of American Pharoah completing the Triple Crown at Belmont has me amped on Champion Jockey

I don't know a lot about horse racing, but I'm always excited about the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont races and the possibility of a tripple crown winner. Last year we pinned hopes on California Chrome, but he tied 4th at Belmont. Similar to how some tennis tournaments seem very close to one another, these 3 horse races are only 2 and 3 weeks apart. Just as many of the same tennis pros compete in back-to-back tournaments, its tough for a horse to run all three races.

California Chrome's chances were dashed by the winner who had not competed in either of the previous Tripple Crown races. Some say it should be a closed circuit, which makes sense when a fresh horse appears for the win after the others have endured the Derby and Preakness.

As I said, I don't know too much about the semantics of it all, but I quickly get wrapped up in the charm and formalities of the Tripple Crown. I'd been playing Gallop Racer on the PS2 to get in the mood. This time, I've advanced to Champion Jockey on the PS3 :)

Champion Jockey for PS3 If you have interest in Egyptian history, you may be wondering about this Triple Crown prospect's name. As a kid, I was enthralled by the mysteries of pyramids and the kings who ruled the day - the pharaohs. I was lucky enough to see the King Tut exhibit in DC which left a lasting impression on me. But today you may be curious about the misspelling of American Pharoah. Apparently there was a contest to name the horse and no one noticed the misspelling of the winning entry; American Pharoah.

The last Tripple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. That's quite a long time to be without a 3-time winner. Wired Magazine applies some science to the outcome of the Belmont Stakes. It's an interesting article that shows the benefits of science over speculation and propaganda. We'll see if they're correct!
June 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Skylanders Superchargers looks cool, but ushers in another Fall season of toys-to-life spending

Only recently did I hear the term "Toys-to-Life". I read the term in an article and understood it's connotation to imply the Near Field Communication (NFC) games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity. It struck me as an overly wide descriptor, but I suppose it's more user-friendly than Near Field Communication. None the less - nothing is being brought to life and video games are NOT toys.

Skylanders Superchargers logo Video Games have been a retail category for a long time now. Long gone are the days when a billion dollar industry is described as toy-makers. Toys are wonderful and engage kids in many ways, but "toys" is often used in a negative fashion regarding gaming. When was the last time you heard G.I Joe referred to as a doll?

The Skylanders Dilema

I was getting a bit weary of buying a new Skylanders game with a portal and myriad of figures each Fall. My primary complaint is the lack of game play. Giants was the only game that didn't require a new portal to be played. It added new characters, but was more of an extension to the original game. The Giants were big and lumbering meaning there were areas in the game where a small fast character (from the Spyro game) was helpful. Aside from raw compatibility, the older characters have little value in the latter Skylanders games.

Skylanders games are much too short to justify all the available characters. I've enjoyed the franchise, but financially, I feel the customer is getting short changed, even though the characters work in later releases employing new features.

I've always felt that they should have released more games to support each technology. There are far too many characters to buy that become largely ignored when the next game arrives. Does anyone really want to play as Spyro when you can be Enigma? And are you really stoked to put Spyro in a Supercharger vehicle?

Trap Team re-inspired me about the Skylanders franchise. Although it required yet another starter-pack with a new portal, it added a lot of interesting additions. With Skylanders Superchargers on the horizon, it seems we are again at the precipice of buying more figures... and now vehicles. I will admit that both the vehicles and characters look awesome!

Skylanders Superchargers I'll likely buy Skylanders Superchargers, but I'm going to be far more selective about which characters and vehicles I purchase. Both my son and I have our favorite characters to play which means we tend to ignore many of the other figures... that we paid for. :)

My biggest gripe is the lack of games for each technology/portal. For all the combos afforded by the Swap Force figures, there could easily have been another game designed for that series. We're setting up a model where we buy an expensive starter-pack, play the game and then shelve it when the next game arrives.

As a retro gamer, I'm accustomed to playing games over long spans of time. I recently introduced my son to Missile Command on my Atari 2600. He loved it! At nearly 35 years old, Missile Command has provided more game play for me than most modern games. Naturally, this is a factor of time and the rapid pace of development as tech improves. Still, it brings up some interesting points when looking at the playable longevity of today's games. I feel that longevity is being shortened by the game cycle itself and gamer's acceptance of this shorter cycle. If a game is boring after 6 months... was it ever a good game?

Skylanders Superchargers Skylanders Superchargers
June 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

On this Day 20 years ago Earthbound came to SNES & 30 Years ago Ferris took a day off

I'm not a big fan of RPG video games, but it's hard to argue the enduring success and praise we hear for Earthbound. Celebrating it's 20th anniversary today, many love that the main character, Ness, is included in the Super Smash Bros series. In this 20 year lod SNES game, Ness goes on a crazy and quirky adventure to vanquish evil.

It's a pretty cool game and found it's way to Game Boy Advance. If you've never played it, you can also find it on the Wii U Virtual Console.

Earthbound SNES

Ferris Takes a Day Off

If you take a look at Wikipedia or IMDB, you might be wondering why everyone thinks Ferris Bueller's Day Off came out 30 years ago today. The film came out on June 11 and not until 1986. Did someone take "new math" to new heights? What's the deal? It's all in the wording...

Ferris Beuller Ferris' 30th anniversary of the film's release is next year. But 2015 marks the actual day he took off as seen in the movie. Remember the footage of the baseball game when Ed Rooney was watching on the set in the pizza joint?

An avid fan did some research as to when that game may have taken place and determined it to be June 5, 1985. So, this is the day Ferris took off to hang with his friends.
June 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

You may be surprised at her connection to Black Flag, The Bones Brigade, and elephants

Sometimes the odd randomness of internet searches yields some interesting results. I stumbled across this girl online when, believe it or not, I was searching for her Dad. Coincidentally, my search for pro skateboarder Mike Vallely yielded this pic of his daughter standing in front of 2 combo arcade cabs! My two favorite things - skateboarding and arcade games!

Lucy Vallely arcade pic Her name is Lucy and her Dad is more commonly known as Mike V. He's an amazing skater and an inspirational guy with an unstoppable spirit. As a teen his family moved to Virginia Beach where he rode the legendary Mount Trashmore skatepark which led to sponsorship by Powell Peralta, and becoming part of the Bones Brigade team.

A love of punk rock led him to form his own band and eventually wound up as the lead singer for Black Flag. Along the way he started up his own skateboard ventures including, Elephant Skateboards.

Watching Mike's footage online or on the many DVDs he's been a part of, he's the epitome of hardcore. He sees lines and makes use of every inch of his skate environment. He's a gifted skater to say the least.

Mike Vallely arcade pic His daughter lucy is an aspiring dancer. It kind of warms my heart to know Mike V is a cool Dad. Here's a pic of him at their home arcade cabs. Can you imagine being a kid who's dad is a pro skateboarder and lead singer of Black Flag? I really need to amp up my game! :)

This concludes another interesting foray into the Net. Skateboards and Arcades FTW!
June 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Super Mario Bros turns 30 and Nintendo has a cool anniversary-worthy history lesson

Super Mario Bros. was released for the NES in Japan on September 13, 1985. With that anniversary looming, Nintendo has launched an online history of Super Mario Bros. If you haven't seen it, go check it out!

Super Mario Bros 30th anniversary site Super Mario Bros 30th anniversary site
June 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Upon hearing Star Wars Battle Pod was set for a home release, I assumed PS4 & Xbone

As I neared my teen years, I was at a stage in life where I needed to play Space Invaders and Asteroids at home. I loved arcades, but the thrill of playing any time (pending completion of my homework) I felt like it was grand. I came into the Atari 2600 just as a lot of arcade games were making their way home.

Star Wars Battle Pods As we dropped quarters at the local arcades, we wondered when certain games would be released for the Atari. I was excited when I found a home version of Vanguard. In the early 80s we couldn't check for release dates online. We relied on Mom's station wagon taking us to one of the stores that sold Atari games.

Once in the store, it was a quest to figure out where the Atari stuff was. Retailers didn't know if these games should go in "electronics" or maybe they were toys. We looked high and low until we saw those familiar game boxes on a shelf.

The term "home release" referred to an arcade title that was available for a home console like the VCS or Intellivision. That concept kept going until most of the home game consoles could outpace the traditional arcade game. The gaming landscape changed dramatically to where arcade games no longer have a power supply linked to a PCB. Opening the back pannel of today's arcade games and you'll find a full blown PC, sound system, and internet connection!

Star Wars Battle Pod Home Edition

Namco Bandai's high tech Star Wars Battle Pod arcade game has a home release. Upon hearing this, I assumed it would be an upcoming release for Sony and Microsoft consoles. Then I began reading some of the releases specs... Leather seats? Exclusive carpeting? This was not the "home release" I was accustomed to! :)

Star Wars Battle Pods As it turns out, you can bring the entirety of this arcade game into your home - space permitting. At $35,000 for the standard edition, you can alternately opt for the Premium Edition that goes for $100,000.

If you haven't played this game, don't be put off by the six-figure pricing nonsense. It's a really cool and unique arcade experience. Track down a Dave & Buster's who have one of these units - you can use the Battle Pod locator to find a SWBP near you.

June 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Will backward compatibility remain if Nintendo powers their NX console with Android?

June 2 Update: One day later Nintendo refutes the notion that NX will be powered by Android. Um... didn't they say they were NOT going to talk about NX?
_______________________________________


Rumor has it that Nintendo may be leaning toward Android to drive their next game console, referred to as NX. Having been very tight-lipped about any (and all) NX info, such rumors have to be taken as possibilities rather than definitive plans. Nintendo has stated they won't entertain discussions about NX until 2016.

Many sites are already saying Nintendo's next console will be a smart phone or their games will become lost in the vast wasteland of mobile games with finger-swipe control schemes. It's interesting that so many folks don't perceive Android as an OS that powers many different devices. They associate "Android" solely with phones. Ouya and GameStick are both Android game consoles involving no telephony.

Some of the more thoughtful sites are speculating Nintendo sees the value in attracting more 3rd party developers to it's platforms and "going Android" may be the best way to make those bonds. Naturally, this also makes such games easily available on traditional Android devices from phones to tablets.

Mario meets Android via Maxell Maxell ad One thing I'm not seeing much about is Nintendo's heroic stance on backward compatibility. Even the GameCube had a solution for playing Game Boy cartridges! The Wii could play GameCube discs and the Wii U gave you full access to your older Wii library of games. Nintendo knows that there's a crossover period where fans are excited about new games on a new console, but still want to play their existing games.

Generation 8 may become best known as the era in which backwards compatibility met it's death. Both Sony and Microsoft released consoles incapable of playing the former console's games. This struck me as gravely insensitive to loyal fans and poorly thought out considering the hefty prices being charged for these new systems. Nintendo's Wii U was still compatible with Wii games! Smart move. Often removing prior system emulation is done at the end of a console's lifespan to offer a less expensive model - as seen with the Wii Mini.
Mario meets Android via Maxell
So how about the NX? Will it play Wii U games? My interest in this is driven by Nintendo's commitment to compatibility and understanding of customer needs during transition.

I'm not a programmer, so I don't really know how an Android-based console would affect the ability to emulate Wii U games. I assume Nintendo has powered each of their consoles with a proprietary OS - which makes them less desirable to AAA franchises, code-wise. I wonder if a switch to Android easily allows for backward compatibility. And would an Android OS help or hinder with larger franchises that have skipped the Wii U?

One can see the growth of mobile games and the potential benefits of Android compatibility, but what about the larger franchises that always skip the Nintendo platform? Some have speculated that smaller indie titles are the future of gaming rather than the episodic franchises that can span generations of game console eras.

Whatever their tact, I'm certain they'll continue to make great games on innovative hardware that deliver experiences unlike the competition. I get the feeling that Nintendo plans on twisting the notion of a "game console" and delivering something very different.

May 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

May 31, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

45 RPM vinyl records enabled the first “playlists” long before MP3s or iTunes

Sometimes a revelation can come from simply adjusting one's perspective. I came across a great article, by DoYouRemember, about the origin of 45 rpm record inserts which delivered a revelation that I'd never thought about.

45 RPM vinyl record inserts When I was a kid, the inexpensive clock radio in my bedroom was all it took to spark my interest in music. I loved WPGC, but also liked to spin the dial, amazed at the diversity of music I could find. When I got this Panasonic radio, I could do the same on the go, even though it was just AM radio.

A friend who lived across the street was a Kiss fan and I'd go to his house so we could play Destroyer over and over. I finally reached a point where I wanted Destroyer for myself. It was the first album I ever bought which led me down a path full of Kiss albums. I became strangely obsessed with Kiss and didn't really want to listen to other bands. In my head it was a loyalty issue.

Panasonic AM radio But it wouldn't be long before other bands caught my attention. As a kid, I didn't have the money to buy all the albums containing the songs I liked. I spent a lot of time in record stores looking through the track listings on the back sides of records.

But I discovered one could individually buy single songs on smaller records that often had another interesting song on the flip side. I had a lot of children's songs on 45s, but these vinyl discs contained songs I knew by bands I'd heard about from my radio. I was developing a passion for music.

A Spindle Full of 45s was a Playlist

As I amassed a collection of 45's I'd put in those yellow inserts that let me put them on my Dad's turntable and they would drop song by song. I used to order them from least favorite to favorite and wait in fevered anticipation for that last disc to drop to the platter and bellow out my favorite song. I no longer remember what song it was, but I get the same feeling when one of my favorite bands comes on the local oldies station.

The revelation from that article I linked above was about that stack of 45 rpm records was a primitive version of a playlist! I would sort through my 45s and place them in a stack based on when I wanted to listen to each song. Sometimes I'd put in a B-side or mistakenly put a record upside down on the pile.

I've mixed thousands of MP3s onto CDs each mix evoking a certain feeling, era, or genre of music. Sometimes I'll make a disc full of my favorite Kiss songs (or Judas Priest), while other times it will be an amalgamation of pop tracks. Despite the number of times I've done this and included songs I loved as a kid, the idea of 45 rpm records never entered my mind as a play list! I love that I can now revel in my ability to assembly playlists back in the late 70s with my 45s!
May 30, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Here's a match you can't pull off in video game tennis- The Angus Young/Federer mashup

Among the many pro players available in Top Spin or Virtua Tennis, you can't always get the match you want. I still love Jimmy Connors Tennis on the NES, but that was a whole different era of players and game tech. Connors is recognizable on the start-up screen, but that was about as good as it got in 1993 on the NES.

Tennis pro Roger Federer and AC/DC's Angus Young You can play as Roger Federer in most of the modern tennis video games, but you can't have AC/DC's Angus Young show up! While watching this year's French Open at Roland-Garros, they often highlight some of the celebrities that come out to watch the tournament.

They mentioned Angus Young of AC/DC was in the stands to see Federer. I've loved AC/DC since Back in Black came out and I was the first kid in school to have Dirty Deeds on a JEM import vinyl!

Apparently Federer is also a fan of AC/DC and has been to a few of their concerts. It's rare that a veteran rock guitarist is publicly recognized at a tennis tournament. This whole scene definitely made me smile. Sometimes celebrity is a good thing.

Angus is 60 years old and AC/DC is still going strong. I guess these two guys understand each other's desire to continue doing what they love.
May 30, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cardboard Wall-E mask turns out to be an innovative & cost-effective VR solution

Google Cardboard Each decade some product arrives with the notion that "VR is here!"
With each product trial, we are moderately wowed, but Virtual Reality is still not here. In the last several years several technologies have become available and inexpensive enough to allow greater strides in VR.

It's still not here.

A mall near my home in the 90s had a very innovative arcade featuring traditional game cabinets, but also offered console gaming and 2 VR setups. The VR looked pretty cool, complete with head mounted displays (HMD), but as for reality, you were chasing a stick-figure through a maze in a very Tron-like setting.

Oculus has demonstrated a lot of potential, but it's still a series of tech demos. For next to nothing (price-wise), Google's Cardboard is getting a lot of attention as a $20 VR experience. Coupled with your smartphone, it delivers a VR experience. This is a boon to schools that can inexpensively take a virtual field trip to another country or galaxy. For the rest of us... you're getting what you pay for - a $20 VR romp.

Is VR Necessary or an Overused Buzzword?

The film Total Recall implanted the idea in moviegoers that we could have memories of things we never did or derive pleasure from a an experience we never actually had. That was swell for a 2 hour movie, but I have yet to see how today's VR scenarios might become mainstream elements of our lives.

Google Cardboard Many of us can't live without a smartphone. Encasing one's phone in a Kleenex box doesn't necessarily translate into a new "must have" device. There are some amazing medical and scientific feats that VR can improve, but it's still going to be a while before VR is ready for the masses. I don't believe we are yet in the decade of VR.

The base VR experience is still too similar to sitting very close to a TV.
Already we hear of medical VR scenarios where a doctor in one location can save the life of a person in another. That's amazing and imagine it's benefits on a global scale. But such strides won't reach the masses simply because Zuck lets us easily share vacation photos while he scoops up VR companies. What's the endgame? How does this permeate society and do so towards it's betterment?

VR Games?

As gamers, we've seen nearly all aspects of gaming improve with technology. Long running franchises, like Tomb Raider, can be compared from onset to today showing dramatic improvements. Sadly, much of the comparisons surround heaving breasts. So, anyway...

Despite these improvements, retro gamers still love those simple pixelated games. partly from nostalgia and from the sheer joy of games that deliver amazing experiences in a simpler framework.

8-bit games let us engage our minds to fill in the gaps. Those meager on-screen pixels gave us just enough info to let us believe Harry was leaping on the heads of alligators or that I was saving six cities from devastation with only three laser cannons. The mind is a very powerful element of gaming. One that is often overlooked.

PS4 HMD for VR Unless someone brings the Atari Mindlink to fruition, there will likely be a control element to any VR game that doesn't feel natural or reality-based. Gamers can't decide on the best game controller (GameCube, by the way), so won't we still have the same discussions about HMDs? This will likely delay a significant standard from taking hold. VR can't thrive if everyone has their own set of standards.

Even simple things like basic communication between game and player don't lend naturally to VR. Think about all those on-screen maps, hints and dashboards that exist in games today, but don't gel with the notion that VR is about true sight and sound. Things that go through my mind don't appear in my real-life field of view. :)

I know this technology will get better - that's the natural evolution of tech. I wish everyone would calm down about it until it's ready for primetime. VR as I've seen it doesn't present a dramatically different experience from any other immersive technology. They've converted joystick motion to head-turns, but is that what VR is all about?

Just because we can master field-of-view with head-turns and body motions doesn't create a compelling "reality" in which to explore. Especially when such movements make us nauseous - that's your body's way of saying that VR tech is imperfect.

Even when it's perfected, the end result of buying a bad game still exists in VR. Virtual Reality is touted as a technology comprised of incredible experiences. I start to wonder if there's a marketing initiative that keeps telling us "VR is good." I assure you a crappy VR game or scenario will be just as awful as spending $60 on a crappy AAA console title.
May 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I unleashed my amiibo attainment strategy with flawless precision... sort of

Pac-Man amiibo A quick romp around the web today indicated that another annoying day of amiibo woes would be swirling around social media. I vaguely recalled a late May date for the next wave of critters, but I hadn't thought much of it. I started reading about folks camping out and bringing friends to bypass maximum quantity rules. I was kind of glad I'm not manic for amiibo.

I've bought several of them, but I only think seriously about it when I think I might be missing out on something. Ridiculous, right? I'm the same way about lottery tickets - I don't bother until the jackpot exceeds $300 million. All the chatter on social media started getting to me. I felt as though I might be missing out. I quickly formulated a plan...

I figured I'd drop by Toys R Us after work and see what they had in stock.

Wave 4 ignites another wave of amiibo madness!
With such a dastardly plan, how could I lose. :) A surge of domination raced through me... it was only 11:00am. When 5:00pm rolled around, I hopped in the car and took off for Toys R Us. As I drove, I wondered if there would be fighting in the aisles or rabid customers dashing to the registers with an armload of Nintendo's finest plastic.

Inside the world's greatest toy store all was calm. I went to the video game area's amiibo aisle and saw a full wall full of characters. Most I'd seen, some I'd never heard of and a few seemed new... probably from the latest wave. I dig the amiibo, but you can probably tell I'm not a serious collector.

Amiibo wave 4... and cherry-filled Twinkies BTW - Those cherry-filled Twinkies are damn good! Amiibo purchase limitations at Toys R Us So, I picked up Silver Mario and Pac-Man. They were obvious choices. I also grabbed the 3-pack of Splatoon characters simply because the bundle seemed cooler than the individual figures. They had 4 other ones, but I didn't recognize them and opted against spending any more money.

While many tales across the web spoke of long lines, strict purchasing rules and woeful disappointment - my story is about finding nearly all of them and opting not to get the ones I'd never heard of. I know I'm lame, but I did pretty well considering I didn't even remember they were releasing today - lol.

Now I'm a bit annoyed that I didn't pick Up Wario... maybe another day.

Splatoon themed skateboard park This is a pretty cool promo for Splatoon! Nintendo UK has teamed up with Adrenaline Alley skatepark in Corby to offer a pretty unique promotional event. During the Summer there will continue to be 4 Wii U pods for public consumption. Gotta like that!
May 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Visteon added Game Boy Advance support to their in-car DVD entertainment system

Visteon logo Sometimes at night I get a glimpse of a back-seat LCD screen and wonder what movie the kids are watching. As a driver, I get no such in dash satisfaction beyond the dull GPS screen.

These days people think it's OK to gab on the phone or text while driving. I imagine these idiots would also try to watch a film if it were available to those in the front seat. A guy was recently cited for futzing with his iWatch while driving. Just drive, Dammit!!

A friend of mine installed a headrest LCD pannel and connected a PS2 to it for his kids. I had a lot of respect for him as a Dad, but wondered why so many of these entertainment systems were primarily DVD oriented. No games? I'd have loved to pass the time as a kid with a controller in my hand. The option to watch a movie or play GBA on a larger screen seems tempting from a kid's perspective - kid's don't pay for stuff like this. :)

Visteon Dockable Entertainment System The folks at Visteon decided to incorporate Nintendo's Game Boy Advance into their in-car entertainment solution - the Visteon Dockable Entertainment System. If you are going to entertain.. do it right! Incidentally, they legally licensed Nintendo's GBA hardware, which was an unusual move for Nintendo since they rarely licensed hardware.

I'd never heard of this company, nor their hybrid DVD/GBA system. They weren't a gaming company. They were an auto parts supplier that was created out of the Ford Motor company in 2000.

The Visteon Dockable Entertainment System didn't come to market until July of 2006. Keep in mind that the Game Boy Advance hit retail shelves in 2001. Even the latter GBA PS model with a hinged clam-shell design was out in North America in March of 2003.

One wonders why they didn't incorporate the newer Nintendo DS, but I imagine the cost to license the GBA tech was a good deal cheaper once the DS line was released. Still the Visteon product carried a $1,200 MSRP! Most similar systems were considerably less expensive.

Visteon Dockable Entertainment System Looking like an average portable DVD player, the Visteon unit has a Game Boy Advance cartridge slot as well as a serial port to connect up to 4 other GBA systems for multi-player games. It comes with a proprietary wireless game controller and wireless headphones. It sound pretty cool but it's primarily based around DVD standards like a cinematic aspect ratio of 16:9. It's 10.2 flip-down screen probably looks nice for movies, but I wonder how it handles the GBA's 3:2 aspect ratio. I've heard it didn't fill the screen which is contrary to marketing materials that didn't show that shortcoming.

Visteon may have been a better auto supplier than game company. Their triangular controller seems oddly shaped and has 2 "A" buttons, but their docking scenario is compatible with previous players and they'll sell you another dock so you can bring you entertainment along in more than one car. Additionally, the ability to remove the battery powered unit lets you take it anywhere from home to car to coffee shop... as needed. Most of it's best features revolve around non-gaming elements.

This seems like an innovative device. So few gaming systems were integrated into vehicles - most were DVD movie oriented. The price of the Visteon seems prohibitive considering the Game Boy Advance is already portable and an in-car DVD player is nowhere near the Visteon's $1200 price tag. Some consumers will sacrifice price for convenience, but I'm not sure I see the market for a very expensive portable GBA.

Visteon Dockable Entertainment System features Visteon Dockable Entertainment System features In today's world where automobiles are starting to be sold with in-car wifi capability, it shouldn't be long before gaming enters the scene. I'm sure someone will create the ability to "find" players in nearby cars so your passengers can engage in multi-player scenarios with other passengers while everyone jets down the highway at 60 MPH. Sounds as safe as those shiny touch screens they put in some dashboards. There's a reason most driver controls have a tactile feel... It's so we do NOT have to look at a screen while driving.

Mobile gaming has taken on several attributes unique to being on the move and not tethered to anything. I'm curious to see what feats of brilliance game devs can add to a scenario where gamers may be mobile and traveling at high speed!
May 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Did Nintendo just trick me into playing Candy Crush Saga?

Pokemon Shuffle My son is an avid Pokemon fan and enjoys the card game as much as the video games. I'm at a loss when it comes to Pikachu and company - I just don't get it. When I heard about Pokemon Shuffle, I decided to give it a try on my 2DS and see if it would aid me in figuring out what Pokemon is all about.

As I matched up the icons and captured some of the Pokemon, I recognized some of the names from my son's cards. Alas, this game did not unlock the mysteries or Pokemon, for me - I still don't get it. But the game seemed fun enough, even though I usually don't enjoy puzzle games.

Shortly thereafter, I received an email from Nintendo about their Puzzle Dragon game. One look at it and I wondered how they managed to release this game without violating any of King's copyrights. It looked very much like Candy Crush Saga - a mobile game I loathe. Candy Crush has stellar sales and rakes in tons of money... all for matching up candy-colored gems or stones... whatever those things are. Candies? I don't know! To me this flys in the face of everything I hold dear about gaming.

I can't put my finger on the specifics, but King's success enrages me. Their games seem very derivative of one another and get pushed out as new games. To me this isn't gaming. If you enjoy such puzzle games, that's cool. It's just not my thing and I feel it reflects poorly on mobile gaming in general which some folks are trying to say is the future of gaming. Yikes!

Puzzle Dragons SMB So, I'm looking at the Super Mario Bros Edition of Puzzle Dragons and it looks just like a Candy Crush game. How can this be? What's going on? Nintendo are innovators. They create insane things we don't even know we need yet. I don't need Candy Crush with Mario and Luigi. What's the deal?

Then the true ugliness of this train of thought hits me. Pokemon Shuffle is Candy Crush! Arrrrgh! I'd been enjoying it under the guise of learning more about Pokemon so I can sound more intelligent about it with my son. Instead, Nintendo tricked me into playing their version of Candy Crush!

I have no intention of letting a King game stray onto my phone, but I will probably continue to play Pokemon Shuffle. it's kind of fun and my son is into it as well. However, I now live in fear that this will lead to Puzzle Dragons SMB which may cause me to succumb to it's Mario-icity. Could this lead to Candy Crush? Only time will tell. And to think the last game I downloaded was Thunder Blade 3D. Where did I go wrong? ;)
May 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

#MySummerIn5Words: Van Halen - Video Game Arcades

MySumerIn5Words: Van Halen - Video Game Arcades
May 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If Colonel Quest is to save KFC, they'd better hope Chick-Fil-A doesn't develop a video game

Colonel Quest is a browser-based game from KFC When I was a kid there was a Gino's near our house and I loved their buckets of chicken. No, really - the buckets. The chicken was good too, but it was the red plastic bucket it was presented in that got me excited.

My family would pick up a bucket to go fairly often which left me rolling in red buckets that I used in my sandbox, as toy storage, and at the beach. There was a 7-11 next door where I bought my first issue of Skateboarder Magazine.

After we moved, I never saw another Gino's, but it may be the same Gino's that rebooted the name a few years ago. I became a KFC fan years later when Pepsico was experimenting with their branded locations and opened a KFC/Taco Bell hybrid near my home. There was something awesome about buying a few drumsticks, potato wedges and a couple of soft tacos all in one stop! I've since adopted a healthier diet.

In recent years, fast food joints have been trying to use gaming to promote themselves. Atari went with Denny's and Burger King teamed up with Xbox. Admittedly, gaming and fast food tend to come together fairly often, but I'm not sure the promotional tie is very strong. Do browser games, or any form of video game tied to a fast food brand, make you think of that brand when hunger sets in?

Very few of us have a salad while playing Missile Command or enjoy a tofu burger while engaged in Bionic Commando. High calorie meals tend to find there way into the family room or man cave. I'm not convinced the marketing department's browser game will coax us to engage a specific brand at meal time.

Colonel Quest is a browser-based game from KFC Bouncing babies off a trampoline as an oven mit reaches out to snatch them... I'm hungry for some KFC...? Colonel Quest is a browser-based game from KFC From what I've read, Chick-Fil-A has surpassed KFC at the chicken war. KFC has revived the Colonel as their mascot and hired SNL's Darrell Hammond to play the Colonel in ads. They have a website set up where you can play KFC's Colonel Quest browser-based video game. Like most browser games, it doesn't provide much of a gaming experience. The premise is a series of levels that chart the Colonel's life.

The Tweet-share function on the website dispenses this summation of Colonel Quest: "Save babies! Shoot bad guys! Fry chicken! Challenge your friends! ColonelQuest!" That description makes me want to check out the game, but the game's absurdity will have me moving on quite quickly.

I guess most of the advertising executives know that retro is hip - which is why we are treated to an 8-bit Col. Sanders with an NES-esque visual for the game. I'll give them credit for that part, but the in-game action should really have more focus on the brand. The ultimate goal is to get you to buy chicken at KFC! They need a stronger tie-in or a much better game.

Colonel Quest tweet message Take a look at these games that do a great job of brand identity and engaging the player. Duncan's Coffee Quest (browser-based) promote's Seattle's Best Coffee and Happy Badger's Strange Donuts Vs. The World promotes a local donut shop (iOS & Android). KFC and the Colonel should take note and put some more game in their strategy.
May 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mad Max Fury Road is an astounding sequel to this series that began in '79

I loved the original Mad Max film and the 1981 sequel, Road Warrior. Upon hearing it was to be remade in 2015 I was initially excited, but I was leery about it's ability to capture the adrenaline of the original.

Mad Max Fury Road When I looked up the movie schedule, I noticed they had showings in 3D. Oh yeah! Most of the 3D films I see are Disney or Pixar films with my son. Seeing Mad Max in 3D sounded pretty good! I was riveted to the action on the screen. This is one of those films that is so good on the big screen. Ordinarily, I scoff at the outrageous price of movie tickets, but this flick was worth it!

I have Mad Max and the sequel on Laserdisc, but wasn't too fond of Beyond Thunderdome which came out in 1985. It surprises me when I look at the years that passed between each of the Terminator films - Genisys comes out this Summer. Mad Max Fury Road comes to theaters 30 years after the 3rd film, Beyond Thunderdome. George Miller directed all 4 films in the franchise.

Mad Max on the NES - 1990

Mad Max for Nintendo NES Mad Max video game for Nintendo's NES was released in July 1990. Five years after the 3rd film, Mindscape released Mad Max for the NES, a post-apocalyptic action game. The cover art featured Mel Gibson from the film. Each level consists of a road race to the arena where you battle the other rivals for water, gas, and ammunition. The road stages consist of rival gangs trying to prevent you from reaching the arena with dynamite among other things. There is a final arena battle where success grants you the win!

It's pretty cool that a 1979 movie was turned into an NES game a decade later. With the remade film in 2015, both PS4 and Xbone versions are due out at the end of the Summer.

Mad Max for PS4 Mad Max Fury Road games will be released in Sept 2015 for PS4, PC and Xbone.
May 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The dinner plate designed to inspire Instagram pix should inspire game developers too

instagram food photo I don't understand why people photograph their meals and post the pictures to social media. Are they seeking a response to their soon-to-be-devoured meal? Unless you're a food blogger, the whole thing seems ridiculous.

In a similar manner, I post a lot of gaming pics that most people could care less about. I'm confident that folks who don't like old dusty game consoles ignore my posts. I do the same when I see pictures of bagels sitting on outdoor cafe tables. however, I dine out and routinely see camera-phone flashes going off in public dining rooms. This is followed by displaying the phone as the preview window is admired by their table companions. Sometimes this inspires a selfie.

Imagine my outrage when I saw an article on a dinner plate that was specially designed to inspire and improve Instagram food pictures! This is a restaurant that wants patrons to snap photos. WTF?!? Then I understood it all... because of 2 really cool Atari games I recently played!

dinner plate designed to inspire Instagram pix The backstory on this odd plate is an Israeli restaurant wanting to connect with the Internet generation. To engage this audience, they designed the Instagram plate and created an event named Foodography. The chef devised "colorful" meals that were engaging to the instagram photo crowd as opposed to foodies. They created a workshop in which patrons are served a multi-course colorful meal and given photo tips. They encourage attendees to hashtag their photos with #fdgr, which is short for Foodography.

This had led to more patronage than they could have imagined coupled with an enormous amount of free advertising across various social networks. By thinking outside the box and creating a bizarre dinner plate, they opened their business to a new customer base that has vastly expanded their business.

Winkdot's The Deep for Atari 2600 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review I still don't understand why people photograph their meals, but I see the value in the restaurant innovating on the trend and using it to grow their business. I still think the Instagram plate looks ridiculous but I now respect their ingenuity that inspired a new clientele. I'd like to see this sort of thinking in game development!

It's not always about reinventing the wheel - just look closer at how the "wheel" really functions. Not long ago, I discovered a new unique Atari 2600 homebrew game titled, The Deep. It was programmed by Winkdot who has created several titles including The Orb which is nearing completion. Both games are fun, well made, and feel like brand new concepts. Neither one strikes me as reminiscent of other games. Sometimes homebrews seem very familiar as though they were based on an existing game. Winkdot's games are original and a blast to play!

Winkdot's The Deep for Atari 2600 Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review Both Hollywood film and modern video games tend to go for sequels of proven titles rather than risking anything unproven. This tends to homogenize the outcomes, be it film or games. When I see the titles Winkdot has developed for a 3-decade+ game console, it's sad that financial motives drive so many of the decisions.

On the other hand, it warms me to know that folks like Winkdot are out there proving that amazing games can be created in the modern age for vintage consoles. Like the odd plate that inspired a growing trend in foodography that grew the restaurant's business, game developers should strive to create innovative ideas, not only proven ones.

This strange plate really speaks to the idea that innovation needn't be complex and can blend into current strategies without causing a rift. Innovation isn't about going off in a crazy new direction. Often it's a matter of re-examining current trends.

I know my wishes are unrealistic. Entertainment will always follow the safe path that holds the best return on investment. However, Winkdot shows that innovation is possible. And that is a good thing to know!
May 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today is World Turtle Day. Help a turtle out of the road & play TMNT

May 23 is World Turtle Day! This is a day to recognize the importance of turtles and tortoises. World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and knowledge for the world's oldest creatures. Turtles and Tortoises are some of the most amazing and endangered animals on the planet. Armed with knowledge and passion for these gentle animals, we can come together to preserve Turtle and Tortoise species throughout the world.

Take a few minutes to learn about Turtles since these cool creatures were here long before mankind came along and set out to destroy the whole planet.

Then you are encouraged to play some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles....

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle arcade game flyer
May 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Williams' 1979 Gorgar pinball was the first commercial table to offer speech

I recently saw a promotional poster for Williams' Gorgar pinball machine. With a risque promo poster and backglass with a Boris Vallejo vibe, I decided to see what I could find out about it. So many articles often begin this way ;)
Gorgar pinball ad
Released in December 1979, this 4-player William's pinball machine was the first commercially produced pinball table to incorporate voice. It had a 7-word vocabulary consisting of: Gorgar, Speaks, Beat, You, Me, Hurt, and Got.

Some early video games used alternate analog means to produce sounds. Sega's The Fonz video game employed an 8-track tape player to produce motorcycle sounds. In addition to "talking" Gorgar had pretty good sounds for a late 70s table.

Gorgar speaks! Me hurt you!
I don't believe this was the case with Gorgar, as the machine's vocabulary could be put into various combinations to form short phrases. I think each word was stored and triggered via game play. The manual references a Model D 8224 sound board which makes me think the voice was on a chipset of sorts.

If the snake pit captures your ball, via an under-board magnet, Gorgar bellows, "Me got you", as opposed to an ailing "Me Hurt" if you hit the snake pit target. He'll roar, "You beat me" if you hit the 1,2,3,4 targets.

Some of this table's stats can be found on the Internet Pinball Database. While reminiscent of Vallejo, the artwork is credited to Constantino Mitchell and Jeanine Mitchell, both of whom worked on other Williams' tables among others. Eugene Jarvis apparently worked on the sound.

May 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Princess Peach demands Nintendo hire Bowser to rescue Mario from Rob Halford

In a twist of fate, Nintendo has hired Bowser to lead their US Sales division. Seems like a perfect fit since his last name really is Bowser. The Internet has had a good chuckle and created dozens of memes in response to this news. We felt the need to take it a bit farther.

Liz Katz cosplays as Princess Peach Liz Katz creates a nice cosplay of Princess Peach. She doesn't seem to appear at Comic Cons and events the with the regularity of many cosplayers. Katz creates these nicely staged cosplays and releases the photos. Maybe she sells prints.
Doug Bowser Doug Bowser | Nintendo of America has hired a new Vice President to lead the United States sales organization with a name that's well-known in the Mushroom Kingdom. Doug Bowser will oversee a variety of sales-related functions, including Sales, In-store Merchandising, Retail Strategy and Retail Marketing.

Judas Priest's Rob Halford with Mario I love photos like this! Judas Priest's Rob Halford with Mario at the Nintendo World Store in NYC. This photo was taken at the launch event for the New Super Mario Bros. video game for the Wii. The event too place at the Nintendo World store in New York City on November 12, 2009. Initially, I thought Mario had joined Judas Priest, but he doesn't really fit in. Speaking of which, how did Rob Halford come to be at this rollout for New SMB? Is he a gamer?
May 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pac-Man turns 35 years old today!

Pac-Man was released on May 22, 1980 in Japan and quickly became a pop-culture sensation. This iconic game was released several months later in October 1980, in North America. Whether you played arcade games or not - you knew what Pac-Man was.

Pac-Man turns 35 This game was originally titled Puck Man. It would have been mere seconds before someone altered it. Allegedly the Puck Man name came from the character's flat, hockey puck shape. One can only wonder if Pac-Man could have risen to such popularity if referred to as Fuck Man, with a wry grin.
May 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From Retron5 to Retro Freak, these emulation consoles ignore Atari & gaming's entire 2nd generation

For a lot of retro gamers, ROMs are appealing simply because they're easy and accessible. Boot up your computer, launch your favorite emulator, and play! It doesn't get much easier than that. However, a lot of us love to push a cart into a console and feel a familiar controller in our hands. Quite a quandary when you have more consoles than inputs on your TV.

Yes, we know about switch-boxes, but those ports fill up pretty quickly too. When a product like Hyperkin's Retron5 offers 5 cartridge slots for 9 different gaming systems, it piques our interest quickly. It's essentially a box full of emulators that allow the 9 different game types to be played. This is the first console we've heard of that supports such a wide variety of game formats. We have a few that support NES and SNES in one unit, but this one really expands the options. But, no Atari support!

The Retron5 has been so popular, it's price has gone up! That trend may end as a competitor, the Retro Freak, is coming to market in Japan (no news on export to other territories) and supports a similar array of games, and includes support for TurboGrafX games. Additionally, the Retro Freak can store your game's ROMs on the unit itself - much like a ROM dump. But, no Atari support!

Retro Freak emulation game console

What About 2nd Generation Consoles?

Kotaku ran an article titled, Retro Console Promises To Play ALL The Games. How can this title be taken seriously when these emulation consoles ignore Atari games, among others? Both of these emulator consoles ignore the Second Generation of video game consoles. No support for Atari 2600 or 5200, Mattel's Intellivision, nor the Colecovision. Interestingly, all of the unsupported systems I mention, are part of the Flashback series of consoles from AtGames.

There are only 2 things that would prevent emulation consoles from including Atari, Intellivision, and Colecovision: legal issues or financial issues. It's always about money or copyrights. But, there may be a technical hurdle. I'm not a programmer, but there may be some issues with the 2nd gen games and their ability to seamlessly work with the console. But, it's probably about money or legal issues.

When comparing the Flashback consoles with the Retron5 and Retro Freak, they operate under much different circumstances. The Intellivision and Colecovision Flashbacks were released in the Fall of 2014. The Atari Flashbacks date back to 2004 with 5 versions having been released. The Flashbacks are self-contained units with 50+ games built-in to the unit. The Sega Genesis Classic Game Console by AtGames, is similar, but had a functional cartridge slot that accepts Genesis game carts. It's a shame this model didn't take hold and offer both built-in games and the option to play actual game cartridges.

The emulation consoles offer an array of cartridge slots and controller ports with the addition of universal controllers that work with all of the game ports. They offer a level of sophistication lacking in the Flashbacks. For what they are, I'd opt for a Retron5 or Retro Freak over playing ROMs on my computer, but why won't these consoles support Atari's early era?!?
May 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If amiibo-fever is the metric, Mario's venture with Universal Parks could overrun the place

Nintendo recently announced a partnership with Universal Parks and Resorts that will result in a variety of theme park attractions based on Nintendo characters. The latest successful Universal attraction was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter that has enthused fans. Harry is pretty popular, but Nintendo has a staggering array of IPs that lend themselves to interactive rides and attractions!

Nintendo partners with Universal Parks & Resorts I've been to Disney World and it's neighboring Universal Studios Park a few times and I see advantages to each. But hearing that Nintendo is planning to unleash their characters and worlds into Universal is certainly an exciting idea. There are so many options, it's hard to know where to start. Disney has Mickey, so you know Universal will have plenty of Mario attractions, but the possibilities are limitless.

When I think about the expansion of Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong, from humble beginnings to immersive worlds, there are so many possibilities for rides and attractions. If the rabid desire to acquire amiibo is any sign, Universal and Nintendo stand to benefit from a huge success with a Nintendo theme park. The only downside is the limited space for such a venture.

Nintendo's amazing worlds could eat up acres of land at any park location! But where would a Mario-inspired park be located? Universal has parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Japan, and Singapore. Constructing such a park would likely take years, so I'm sure there's plenty of time to discover the location and still have a long wait until opening day....

My head is spinning just thinking about the merchandising opportunities!
May 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo releases 8 Best Buy locations & NES Remix qualifiers for the E3 2015 World Championships

Nintendo recently revealed their plans to bring back the Nintendo World Championships at this year's E3 conference. This coincides with the Championship's 25th anniversary.

Nintendo brings back the World Championships We were all wondering what the format would be, what platforms would be involved and what twists might they add. Today they let out some more info regarding the qualifying locations around the country and the games involved. As some predicted, NES Remix is playing a role.

To get in on the action you can compete for the highest score, in Championship Mode, in the Ultimate NES Remix game for the Nintendo 3DS. The top scorer from each of the 8 regional competitions will move on for a chance to participate in the final event on June 14 in LA.

On May 30, 10am to 7pm local time, don't sleep in because lines will form at Best Buy stores and only the first 750 folks on line will get the opportunity to qualify. If you are #750 in line... expect to be jumped by the person behind you - possibly the 5 people behind you. Additionally, your chance to win may involve a significant road trip unless you live near a Best Buy in one of the following areas:

Arrive early to get your official qualifier's wristband
  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Torrance, CA
  3. Miami, FL
  4. Schaumburg, IL
  5. Maple Grove, MN
  6. Long Island City, NY
  7. Dallas, TX
  8. Tacoma, WA
There will be a total of 16 competitors, 8 of which will come from the national qualifying rounds at Best Buy. Where will the others come from? It should be interesting to see if they are selected based on the game's 3DS leader-board or some other method. Time will tell!

Of course there have been some complaints. This is a much lower number of competitors than the 1990 event. Some folks are complaining about the meager 8 qualifying locations and the fact that it won't be based on a custom-built game. I'll admit it's a bit anticlimactic to have only 16 competitors and Ultimate NES Remix. I would have preferred a slick custom game that the "rest of us" could download via the eShop after the event.

I loved the idea of those competition carts that appear on eBay now and then. Such a cartridge creates a very cool item. In the digital age, I guess there's less cause to develop such a geme, but it wold have ben a great tie-in tot he original World Championship.

I'm still wondering how many kids who competed in 1990 will try to make it back and relive the glory. Multi-Media Personality Patrick Scott Patterson was one of the 1990 competitors looking to come back in 2015. I think Nintendo is doing a great thing that will stimulate interest in Nintendo's current offerings as well as invigorate the retro gaming community.
May 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Hillary Duff breathes in & out after spawning 3 GBA games as Lizzie McGuire

Hillary Duff's Breathe In. Breathe Out album cover When on the Internet there are times when information finds you. As much as I dig around for gaming tidbits, odd info sometimes just finds me. I came across a picture of the Lizzie McGuire cast hanging out at a bowling alley.

That show ended in February 2004 and the bowling shot certainly showed the decade+ gap. I knew Hillary Duff had recorded a few albums and a quick search revealed she has another one, Breathe In. Breathe Out, coming out this Summer.

After Jeannette McCurdy's racy selfies were posted online, I wrote an article about the tie-in games, for iCarly - that's kind of how my brain works. I thought it would be interesting to see which consoles Disney might have released Lizzie McGuire video games for. There are three Lizzie McGuire Game Boy Advance games. The first game was released Oct 14, 2003. A new game followed each of the next 2 years.

The show spawned three video games for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance, but none for other platforms - that I could find. The iCarly games came out on the DS and Wii consoles, so I'm a bit surprised that Disney didn't have a GameCube release. No-show on PS2 either.

Lizzie McGuire Game Boy Advance game

Lizzie McGuire Game Boy Advance game Lizzie McGuire 2 - The Lizzie Diaries was released Oct 18, 2004.
Lizzie McGuire Game Boy Advance game Lizzie McGuire 3 - Homecoming Havoc was released Aug 21, 2005.

As one might expect, none of the 3 Lizzie McGuire games generated excitement in the gaming realm. Too often these games are so loosely tied to their TV counterparts, they feel somewhat generic as though they are part of a formula. Without engaging the elements that drew kids to watch the Disney TV show, a weak video game will only disappoint the real fans who are hoping to expand the Lizzie experience onto their game console.

The gimmick to the TV show was Lizzie's animated alter ego. Interspersed with the live action, her inner thoughts were portrayed via animated interludes with her animated self. Let's face it, animated Lizzie wouldn't play these games. :)

Hilary Duff certainly looks much different today...
Hillary Duff Sparks During an interview at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, Charli XCX said she wrote Boom Clap for Hillary Duff, who obviously didn't use the song as it appeared on Sucker. Duff should have gone for it - cool song!
May 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Van Halen rocked the Billboard Music Awards and Internet behavior promptly circled the drain

Van Halen logo Several weeks ago Van Halen reissued 2 of their classic albums, 1978's Van Halen and 1984's 1984 along with a double-CD featuring a live 2013 concert. I loved Van Halen in the 80s - they were the anthem to our arcade madness. Our weekends were all about Trans Ams, Van Halen and cruising from arcade to arcade. Great times!

Like many of the bands I worshiped in my youth, Van Halen has carried on, released albums and gone full circle to uniting with former frontman David Lee Roth. A few days ago I read that Van Halen would be performing at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards show. I'm not a huge fan of awards shows, but I was determined to catch the Van Halen set! Hopefully it would be near the beginning of the telecast.

Han Halen rocked the Billboard Music Awards After her opening video premiere, Taylor Swift announced Van Halen - They were the first act!! It was amazing to see them on stage performing Panama. I saw them once during their 1984 tour, so this was pretty cool - 30 years later. There are a lot of bands out there that are still rocking decades later and I have a world of respect for that. Apparently not everyone shared my enthusiasm.

Across social media, the comments began to fly. Any mention of Van Halen was met with negative comments - tons of them. I'm used to seeing this sort of nonsense, but it was such a rampant hate-fest, even I was surprised.

Han Halen rocked the Billboard Music Awards Van Halen I'll admit that Diamond Dave doesn't have the voice he did 30 years ago and Eddie is 60, but those guys rocked that show! To see such emphatically negative comments reminds me of how social media is little more than a thin shield for cowards who think a Net connection is a soapbox. It may be a marketing gold mine to those who live within the algorithms, but for the average netizen, social media is simply a cesspool of hateful commentary.

It amazes me that these fools have the time to post so much negativity and feel that anyone cares or benefits from it. I have plenty of strong feelings about all sorts of topics. Within retro gaming, there are plenty of games, companies, and personalities I despise. My days are too full to be spreading hate across social media. Who would care anyway?

The sad truth is some people are so angry that they need to spread their hate across every post on every network in the hope that someone else will feel as low as they do. These people need to die in a fire. Dammit! That was negative wasn't it?

Long live Van Halen... and video games!

Taylor Swift's Custom Emoji

In moderately unrelated Billboard award news...
As I mentioned, Swifts new music video for Bad Blood premiered at the start of the Billboard awards, but she was presented with something else - something quite coveted in the online world.

People are manic for emoji - those odd little symbols that we used to make via ascii characters are now rendered. I know nothing about emoji, but I still use :) to create smiley faces and that's enough for me.

Not so for Ms. Swift. In honor of her video, she was bestowed her own custom emoji for the night - after which, I believe, it expires. The hashtag #BadBloodMusicVideo posted a bandaid with a bullet hole - a lyric from her song. More proof that this girl has clout!

Taylor Swift's Bad Blood emoji
May 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari sponsored the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles

Atari Olympic Logo As the Atari Jaguar's stats were rolling in, it sadly became apparent that this console was not going to have a long retail life. Passionate about it's capabilities, I scrambled to every game retailer to scoop up as many games as possible before they were all shipped back or disposed of. In the mid 90's I wasn't aware of supply chains or retail distribution - I just wanted to arm my Jaguar with as many games as possible before it all went away.

This was a sad realization for me especially when looking at Atari's initial success in the Bushnell era. I sometimes forget how successful Atari was. They grew in leaps and bounds and were a highly respected company among giants in many other disciplines. The video game industry didn't really exist until other companies wanted to become part of the explosive growth in gaming.

When looking at what Atari is today, it seems hard to imagine they were once sponsors of the Olympic games! They negotiated several sponsorships for the 1984 Summer games held in Los Angeles.

Antic Magazine with feature about Atari's Olympic sponsorship Antic Magazine ran a feature story, IT'S OFFICIAL! Atari joins the U.S. Olympic Team in their VOL. 2, NO. 11 Feb 1984 issue. There is no contending the prominence of such a sponsorship, but Bushnell was always thinking ahead. In addition to sponsoring the U.S. Women's Volleyball Team, Atari also became the sole sponsor of home computers, arcade games, and home video games!

In addition to the associated prestige, this move gave Atari the fair use of the Olympic logo and language in their promotional materials. Thus Atari could link themselves to the prestige of the Olympic games within their advertisements. We all know the buzz around the Olympics as the hosting city becomes the epicenter of attention.

Atari donated equipment to be used on-site, as well as set up arcade games for use by the onslaught of media reps covering the Olympics. This would give Atari a lot of exposure both locally and more importantly - globally. Media from across the world would descend on Los Angeles for the Games. How could they resist playing Atari? :)

Antic Magazine
May 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Konami backpedals to assure gamers they won't solely be mobile centric

Konamii Logo Perhaps "backpedal" isn't the right term, but I did a double-take when I read that Konami's CEO stated that mobile is the future of gaming. The Internet, myself included, suddenly wondered if their glory days of iconic arcade and home console games were a thing of the past. Clarification was brought to the matter when the statement was understood to mean that Komani wants to shift more focus to revenue from mobile's popularity.

After playing everything from Frogger to Contra and Gradius to Gyruss (at home and in arcades), I can't imagine a Konami experience comprised of finger-swipes! OK, I do have a version of frogger on my smart phone, but that simply tides me over until I can swap the phone for a controller.

I understand why developers are eager to maximize the revenue of the mobile platform, but I can't help but see it as a departure from the style of gaming I grew up with. We communicate on social media with bits and fragments of sentences and our mobile gaming is the same way. We game on smart phones in small increments. As a kid, I never minded a quick game of Space Invaders, but I'd much rather have a lengthy session of alien obliteration or a game that would take me on a grand adventure.

The Konami Code will live in infamy as it was used in several games, most notably, Contra for the NES.

Konamii code One has to wonder if it will be incorporated into Konami's mobile games. Just in case it does come to fruition to unlock elements of a phone game, we've translated it for you and your mobile device of choice:
Swipe UP - Swipe UP - Swipe DOWN - Swipe DOWN - Swipe LEFT - Swipe RIGHT - Swipe LEFT - Swipe RIGHT - Tap - Tap

Yeah... so, I'm going to go play some Contra, and possibly Super C, on my NES. :)
May 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo brings back the World Championships for E3 in June 2015

Nintendo brings back the World Championships The Nintendo World Championships of 1990 created a buzz that ignited the gaming community and left us with a coveted NES game cartridge that was custom created for the specifics of the contest. 25 years later, Nintendo has announced the World Championship will return during this year's E3 conference in June.

Last year's Super Smash Bros. Invitational at E3 was a success, so it makes sense to capitalize on the World Championship's 25th anniversary this year. The release of NES Remix for Wii U and 3DS, last year, seemed to gauge strong interest in such mash-ups - it's a great concept for the home market!

Nintendo's announcement for E3 has resounded well with most people and brings up a worthy point about Nintendo's strategy. E3 is covered day & night by journalists, so we are accustomed to seeing a lot of information, however, the event itself is not open to the general public. With that in mind, Nintendo has always done a great job in staging events that are inclusive of those who love Nintendo and want to be a part of the excitement. Alongside the general coverage by journalists from all over, Nintendo live streams much of it's news.

They have held events in Best Buy locations for various demos of games not available to the public. Nintendo's ability to reach out to fans is commendable compared with efforts from Sony and Microsoft.

Nintendo World Championships 2015

Mix it up- play the 2015 World Championships on the SNES, including Super GameBoy!
With the passing of 25 years, it will be interesting to see how they create the contest. Will it be a similar mash-up of games, as it was in 1990? Will it be a combination of time and score? Will it be played on the Wii U or will there also be a 3DS component? How about a Virtual Console gaming element? Questions abound!

Nintendo never seems short on good ideas and ways surprise it's fans. I'm really excited to see how they bring the Championships back. Nintendo isn't the sort of company to rely solely on the anniversary element. It's cool to have it back after 25 years, but I don't expect them to re-hash what they did in 1990. I'm confident they will come up with a cool twist we didn't expect!

If current moods on the Net are an indicator, I wonder if Nintendo could turn this into a regular event. We didn't have highly organized e-sports back in 1990. These days, competitive gaming is broadcast on ESPN! Check your local area - qualifying rounds will be held at select Best buy locations around the country.

The Wizard Chimes In

If you recall the 1989 movie, The Wizard, you'll appreciate Child-star Fred Savage's tweet about attending the Championships. He and Jenny Lewis starred in this film about a video game championship in California.

Fred Savage tweets about attending the Nintendo World Championships I'm curious to see how many 1990 Championship players return to take another shot at the title! It could happen...
May 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Retro Magazine is available at Barnes & Noble

I'd heard that Retro Magazine was coming to Barnes & Noble which is a pretty cool feat for a young publication. Having received my translucent Atari Jaguar case in the mail yesterday, I felt inspired to check out my local bookstore for some retro inspiration.

To my surprise, there it was! Retro magazine was sitting on the shelf among all the gaming mags. With Nintendo Power absent from shelves, it was great to see a gaming magazine that excites me. I've always loved magazines of all types, but gaming mags in particular. Next Generation mag kept me stoked during the Jaguar days. It's great to see a retro gaming mag making a name for itself in this era!

Retro magazine and the shell for the Retro VGS If you haven't read up on the Retro VGS console, it will be made from the molds that shaped the Atari Jaguar of the 90s. Like the Jag, the Retro Video Game System will be cartridge based like the good old days, but the games will be of modern origin. From homebrews and retro-inspired games, the Retro VGS is looking to host games in a format reminiscent of older cartridge based games, but with the advantages of modern design and coding.

This should be an insanely fascinating console from the diversity of devs to the gamers who crave such a device. It caters to the gaming I love most with the speed of game carts!
May 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I want Daimler's self-driving truck to bring Deep-Q to my house for some retro gaming

As a kid I fully expected the Jetson's lifestyle to be a reality by now. However, as I navigate the landscape of today's technology, the idea of self-driving cars is frightening on several levels. Part of my doubts come from disbelief it will work when highways are clogged with self-driving vehicles yelling "I am here" into a wifi grid full of HD porn downloads. This leads to my second issue - Skynet.

Human demise may not result from an inbound asteroid or water shortage. We may succumb to Boston Dynamics' robot dogs chasing us into traffic where autonomous vehicles will steamroll us. Solar power seems great until the only things taking advantage of it are transformers roaming the otherwise vacant planet. Don't worry, animals will be just fine - until Apes learn to ride horses and use rifles.

Daimler's self-driving truck In other less frightening tech news, an AI venture has taught a computer to play Atari games without instruction. Scientists have developed a problem solving algorithm, named Deep-Q, that operates on a reward system. Allegedly, Deep-Q tries to solve problems in a way that maximizes reward. They call it a bio-inspired approach which sounds swell, but I'm not sure I understand how you reward an algorithm for good achievements. A computer won't eat a dog-treat, so I'm stumped. Perhaps this is why I'm not a scientist.

Interestingly, this Deep-Q system learned how to play 49 Atari 2600 games simply by keeping track of the pixels on the screen and using the achieved scores as a success metric. As with computers that can "play" chess, I've always felt that we mistake speed for intelligence. With chess, there are finite moves and a computer can evaluate each one very quickly.

As processor speeds increase, computers are able to analyze more info in shorter times. I've never believed that AI is real in the way that the human brain learns and adapts. I've always thought that computers can simulate intelligence, but they don't really know anything they are not told.

Atari 2600 quarter view My son figures out how to play Atari games quite quickly. By the second or third round, he knows the basics and how to maximize his score. Since Deep-Q would have to learn at the pace at which a game plays, there may not be a way to analyze every scenario in an accelerated manner.

Therefore, where my son figures out how to play a game in a matter of minutes - it may have taken Deep-Q weeks of playing 8-bit games to encounter, store, and analyze enough scenarios to figure out how to play.

Sorry, I'm very skeptical of AI, because those I've spoken with about it have never explained to me how a computer learns versus being fed every outcome along with a way to rank them. Here's my analogy- A computer can be programed to understand the syntax of written communication and can probably be programed to "write". A computer will never write the kind of story Stephen King can write. Mr. King is intelligent, while a computer is artificial.

On the other hand, I'm all for Daimler's kooky truck jumping the rails and bringing Deep-Q to my place for some retro gaming. We can start with Yar's Revenge and Space Invaders, but lets see how fast that bucket of bolts can figure out Zaxxon, Tempest 2000, and Tekken in the course of a night!
May 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Jem & the Holograms movie trailer & the SuperGirl TV show preview surprised me

I loved the animated Jem and the Holograms cartoon Jem and the Holograms cartoon ran from October 1985 through May 1988, yet was never made into a video game. THAT would have been a great game! It has all the elements for either a direct tie-in game or somthing musically focused.
Jem and the Holograms movie Jem and the Holograms movie will likely be translated into a game for Xbone or PS4 and will mimic the movie. One can hope that they'll base it on the fantasy elelments of the TV series.

William Shatner brought up the quetions we all had after seeing the "After Schoool Special" style movie trailer for the upcoming movie. I'm'm hoping there's more to it than what was hown in this first trailer.

William Shatner tweets about the Jem and the Holograms movie

Supergirl on CBS

Jem and the Holograms cartoon I wasn't prepared to like Supergirl at all. However, I really liked the preview very much. It was about 6 minutes making it more preview than trailer. Trailers seem to give just enough info to generate a desired reaction whereas a preview tries to give enough info to let viewers make their own decision. I dig it!

Some have criticized it for it's sci-fi intro that quickly went into somewhat of a RomCom mode. I didn't see it that way. I saw the role as being very different from what I was expecting. Seeing her freefall from the roof to prove she could fly was heightened by her doing so and landing tirumphantly in street clothes rather than a costume. Well done!

With a different approach to the series, maybe it will spawn a video game that will also take a new approach to depictin gher as a hero. It all boils down to how good the video game tie-in turns out :)
May 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Is RadioShack on the verge of becoming the new Atari... Here but irrelevant?

Radio Shack seems to be turning into Atari I loved RadioShack in the 80's. I could go in there and find parts for projects, everything I needed to hook up anything electronic, and a DIY vibe that no other store offered. I loved visiting RadioShack - even if I din't really need anything. I window-shopped there frequently.

Then it began to change. Some of it's iconic brands faded away. Their audio selection diminished and some of the video products I loved faded away. Cell phones appeared as well as a slew of kid's toys. My beloved electronics store had morphed into a toy store with a wide selection of batteries.

What I loved about "the Shack" was gone. My visits were relegated to picking up that odd battery for my garage door opener and the occasional cable adapter. It was a sad realization that the store I loved was something very different, yet held the same name. Atari has done the same thing. Their initial innovation created an industry that fascinates me as much as it envelopes me. I love my Atari 2600 as much as my PS3. OK, I love my Atari consoles way more than any sony product :)

But they too have changed. Atari has been bought, sold, split, regrouped, and become a shell of it's former glory. It's past decade has been spent leveraging their iconic arcade brands for a variety of fast-money promotions that has tarnished the brand and made them nearly invisible to the gaming community. I adore Atari. But the Atari I adore hasn't existed for 20 years... maybe more!

RadioShack was up for purchase by the highest bidder. Standard General LP, a hedge fund, bought RadioShack's brand for $26.2 million. Their plan is to restructure the brand by selling a "streamlined array of necessities" along with Sprint cellular items. Hasn't that been tried already? They seem to have already shifted focus and product lines in an attempt to stay relevant. I don't understand how this attempt will be different.

Radio Shack store The Shack I loved existed in a different era. The store tried to change, but the population is also an ever changing element as well. I feel the hobbyist and DIY folks are a dwindling segment. We live in a disposable society where we dump anything that's 6 months old and have a new one delivered to our doorsteps by a myriad of online models. I feel the need and desire to build things isn't what it used to be and that's reflected in the staffing of RadioShack stores.

I mean no disrespect to those tech minded folks who work at the Shack, but 20 years ago, the staff I interacted with at numerous stores were a different breed. They were building things. They were curious. They had solutions. They wanted to help you find a great way to achieve a goal. These days, I predominantly find "kids" who barely know the products or where to find them inside their own store.

I'm nostalgic for the RadioShack brand and what it meant to me. Selfishly, I'd like to see it continue, even though I know it will never be the amazing destination it used to be. This is similar to the placation I get knowing Atari still exists. They are no longer the gaming company that lit up my childhood. They've made games here and there, but their glory days are in the past. They may be able to leverage the brand to some success, but they won't be the gaming innovators that pioneered an industry. And RadioShack won't be a destination for consumers who love electronics.

I'll always have fond memories of prowling the aisles at RadioShack and playing my favorite arcade games at home on my Atari 2600. I'm lucky to have had both.
May 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

This translucent Atari Jaguar shell is a slick preview of the Retro VGS console

We've written a few articles about the upcoming Retro VGS game console. Mike Kennedy, the man behind the new console and Retro Magazine, offered the chance to buy a clear case and cartridges, this past January. I had to have one!

A translucent Atari Jaguar case for the Retro VGS A translucent Atari Jaguar case for the Retro VGS. A Kickstarter campaign for this game console is expected during the Summer.
A translucent Atari Jaguar case for the Retro VGS A translucent Atari Jaguar case for the Retro VGS. The final product to be produced, will not be translucent. This was done as a limited run for fans who'd been following the console's development.

The Jaguar molds were purchased from a dentist who had apparently tried to modify them. There was concern that the lower pegs to hold the logic board may have been altered by the dentist as well as the back panel. They were able to supply the power button and light pipe that displays the "on" state. My units seems to be missing the back plate.

I've already seen some folks transfer their Jaguars into these translucent cases and they look very cool. I'm content to keep mine in it's current state and simply enjoy ownership of a unique piece of gaming history. We're excited to see this project develop.

the Retro VGS I bought my first Jaguar on the day they were released. A friend and I left work for an extended "lunch hour" and went to Nobody Beats the Wiz to pick up the latest Atari console. That was an amazing day and I was dying to get home and plug in my new Atari!

Receiving this translucent shell, as a precursor to the Retro VGS, is similarly exciting. It feels like a new era for an old passion. Sort of like new tech butts heads with vintage gaming to create an insanely wonderful hybrid! Can't Wait!

I feel like dropping into my local Barnes & Noble for a copy of Retro Magazine!
May 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Multi-player online gaming at 2400 baud, in 1994, with XBand for Genesis & SNES

Catapult Entertainment's XBand logo If your had a CVC GameLine for your Atari 2600, you may have been curious to try Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem on your Genesis or SNES. Similar to the Gameline, XBand was a hardware device that interfaced with the game console via the cartridge slot. It provided a pass-through for inserting compatible game carts and an RJ-11 port for your phone line.

In late 1994, the XBand modem was released for the Sega Genesis and six months later for Nintendo's SNES. Such rudimentary devices didn't always perform well, but they were way ahead of their time. The XBand allowed you to connect to a central server, via your home phone, and play select games against other players who were also connected.

Lots of computer users were accustomed to similar connections to BBS (bulletin board systems) where they could chat, search for info, and download files. Prodigy emerged in 1994 as one of the first user friendly services. A GUI interface made navigating simple for almost any user, but the whole experience was severely limited compared to what was available on the average BBS.

XBand Packaging

Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem The front of Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem.
Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem The back of Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem.

The XBand moden cost $19.99 and also worked in conjunction with a less popular Keyboard that sold for $29.99. The keyboard connected via the second player's controller port. I'll bet the keyboard would have been more popular had the XBand been in in production as online services like CompuServe, Prodigy, Delphi, and AOL reached greater penetration.

Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem Of all the online services available in that era, I loved Delphi's online service. I found it offered a great deal of info while other services like Prodigy were more entertainment focused. Had I carried my BBS and Delphi passion to gaming, I'd have loved the XBand! However, I was never aware of it's existence during it's operational window.

Launched in 4 cities, XBand spread out, but it was never on my radar. I wonder how an experience like that might have shaped my later interests. I can't help but feel that I'd have been enthralled at being able to play with friends on the couch or someone across the country!

Operational Oddities

I've read that, players typically challenged one another within their own area code due to long distance charges. This makes sense on some levels, but I also read that players dialed up to connect to a central server. Services like CompuServe and Prodigy had local dial up number to let users call without additional phone charges. With that in mind, I'm not sure I understand why this limited you to local players. I'd have thought that a local dial up number would connect you to a central location where you could connect with anyone who was also dialed in.

Remember that this wasn't a very popular accessory. It was a niche item that certainly had a following, but multi-player gaming was not established the way it is today. In fact a majority of gamers may not have been aware it was possible. With limited membership, how likely would it be to find another player in your area who was also dialed in? I'd love to see the user manual for this devices. That would shed a lot of light on how one found an online opponent to play with.

If you haven't seen the XBand in action, here's a YouTube video showing the interface. It even had a newsletter that could be downloaded to the device and read on-screen. Apparently these newsletters stayed on the Hardware - not long ago some retro gamers were scouring for owners who may still have those old newsletters sitting dormant on their XBand modems.



The XBand service was shut down in mid 1997 as other services specific to newer game consoles offered similar play options. It's interesting to think that modems, like the XBand, expanded game play across every boundary gamers of the mid 90s could imagine. These days, it seems that gaming is exclusively online multi-player. So few gamers would invite friends over to s chill on the couch and play video games.

I grew up loving Atari sleep-overs where we gathered all our carts and had long manic sessions. We discovered new titles and new tactics while wrapped in sleeping bags with a bowl of chips between us. The ability to reach out to other players via the phone line would have been mind blowing.

Having grown up playing with friends at my house or theirs, I've never had much interest in online multiplayers. Today I see many of those games secluding players rather than bringing them together. I much prefer a couch full of friends when it comes to "multi player" gaming. I wonder if I'd feel different had I experienced online gaming in the SNES and Genesis era? I like to think I'd still rather have my friends crowded into my living room!

Catapult Entertainment's XBand modem

SNES Games Supported by XBand

  1. Doom
  2. Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball
  3. Kirby's Avalanche
  4. Killer Instinct
  5. Madden NFL 95
  6. Madden NFL 96
  7. Mortal Kombat II
  8. Mortal Kombat 3
  9. NBA Jam TE
  10. NHL 95
  11. NHL 96
  12. Super Mario Kart
  13. Super Street Fighter II
  14. WeaponLord


Genesis Games Supported by XBand

  1. Madden NFL '95
  2. Madden NFL '96
  3. Mortal Kombat
  4. Mortal Kombat II
  5. Mortal Kombat 3
  6. NBA Jam
  7. NBA Live 95
  8. NBA Live 96
  9. NHL '94
  10. NHL '95
  11. NHL '96
  12. Primal Rage
  13. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers
  14. Weaponlord
May 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Will today's games be remembered fondly 3 decades from now like Space Invaders?

When my son was 5-years old he found my 10-in-1 arcade joystick and wanted to know what it was. I began explaining the golden age of arcades and how awesome it was to go out and play video games with my friends. He looked at me with confusion.

Disney Starcade arcade token Clearly, a demonstration was needed. I hooked up the 10-in-1 and cleared only one screen of Dig Dug before he wanted to play. We played together for a few more screens before he took the joystick and wanted to do it all himself. I was witnessing the same childhood realization I had with my Atari 2600 - the TV was no longer a passive idiot-box. I was controlling the action on the screen. My son now had that same control.

His interest in playing games expanded and we bought a Wii, then a PS3 and finally a NeoGeoX. As much as we enjoy modern games, we always play retro games on one of my childhood Atari consoles. We play favorites from Berzerk and Food Fight to Spider Fighter and Phoenix. He still likes to look through my cartridges and find something new. Maze Craze and Missile Command have been added to our growing list of favorites.

In local arcades we've found Donkey Kong, Joust, Millipede, and Space Invaders. My son understands that these are relics from when I was about his age - unlike H2Overdrive and other such games with 40" screens. We enjoy a mix of old and new games as I try to tell him that Donkey Kong Country really did result from that original arcade game with the angry ape atop the girders.

1980 arcade I've come full circle because the Donkey Kong cabinet I mentioned is in the arcade I used to hang out in during the Summer when I was a teenager. There are far fewer games, but I remember playing Asteroids Deluxe there 3 decades ago. As you can see, video games have made an impact on me. And I know I'm not alone. The Atari brand has been gutted to the core and is an unrecognizable shell of it's former gaming prowess, but everyone remembers their iconic games from the late 70s and 80s.

Barcades and Modern Retro Arcades

Retro arcades and barcades are on the rise these days, making the news because they are popular and successful. Unlike Dave & Busters or Check E Cheese, today's barcades are typically catering to retro gamers. Inside their walls they house classics from the 1980's that are still beloved by many. Their clients remember Atari and other companies that once populated arcades with incredible games. It's all about the memories - and reliving them with a joystick in hand.

Monument Valley Android game What about the teenager who got a PS4 for Christmas last year... will he/she have fond gaming memories of specific titles 30 years from now? What about the kid playing Flappy Bird on his phone? Will he be telling his kids about the time he broke 100 points on Flappy Bird?

Today's Retro Gamers Have More in Common

30 years from now, few titles will stand out as memorable due to sheer volume.
I think retro gaming has a lot to do with commonality. If you were gaming in the late 70s and into the 80s, there is a core set of games many of us know and played. Most of us, from that era, played Space Invaders, Galaxian, and Defender.

Not everyone may have tried Wizard of Wor or Star Castle. Thus when retro gaming unfolds in a conversation, there's often an instant familiarity and sometimes first-hand experience. Obviously the gaming world is larger than a handful of renown games, but the likelihood of future retro gamers having a common core of games is fleeting.

As we see more folks making MAME cabinets with a Raspberry Pi, it becomes obvious that there were many arcade games available, but the renown titles really stood out. As gaming took hold in the home console market, there were even more games. But those early days left many of us with memories of stellar hits like Pac-Man, Centipede, Missile Command, etc.

Thousands of Monthly Game Releases

My son often tells me about iOS games he's discovered and I haven't heard of a single one of them. I remind myself that there are thousands of mobile games hitting online outlets every month. Who can keep up with all of that? After the crash of 83, gamers were craving new titles - any title... just gimme a game for my 2600! Today the market is flooded and great games routinely slip through the cracks daily!

Animal Crossing for Nintendo 3DS The exponential number of games released will likely create a wider divide between gamers of the future who remember their PS4, Xbone, or mobile games. Thirty years from now, you probably won't be able to find a functional 8th gen console. ROMs will rule the retro landscape and those reminiscing about the "good old days" probably won't find as many folks who remember the same titles.

Monument Valley is a beautiful game, but in 30 years will there be gamers reminiscing about it the way today's retro gamers talk about the first time they played Space Invaders?

We live in a disposable society and I fear that video games are now becoming disposable. If you download an iOS game and don't like it, you easily delete it. It's gone from your SD card and soon your memory. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial wasn't a very good game, but it hasn't been forgotten. There are too many games flooding every available device.

I believe retro gamers in 2045 will know Atari as part of gaming's beginnings, but I don't think any specific titles will stand out to them the way today's retro gamers remember the golden age of arcade games. The number of games released across the available devices are staggeringly high to the point that genre's tend to gain traction rather than titles.
May 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Today we hit 3,000 followers on Twitter

Having tried several different strategies on Twitter to reach more retro gamers, we finally decided to keep doing what we love most and hope they find us. I don't pay too much attention to metrics. As long as we are rising in followers, I assume we're doing something right.

We love retro game and I love finding links from those old dusty game carts to modern day gaming. We wouldn't have the PS4 if the Atari 2600 hadn't created a diverse and dynamic home gaming market.

3,000 followers on Twitter Of course, a few folks came & went so our 3K jumped around a bit, but we're fairly certain some of you dig what we do :)
May 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

ShadowBrain uses 4 colors to deliver a challenging GameBoy-styled experience in 4-Color Taxi

Have you heard about the Retro Video Game System? The Retro VGS is an upcoming gaming console that will use cartridges - solid state, no moving parts like hard drives and disc mechs. It will put modern games with retro style onto game arts for the system.

The Game Boy styling of ShadowBrain's 4-Color Taxi is just the sort of modern game that would be pretty cool on the Retro VGS!

ShadowBrain's 4-Color Taxi There have been some critical reviews, but we dig this game. In a world of free games, ShadowBrain charges for this title on iOS and Android, but I believe they include the ability to also play on computers.

ShadowBrain's 4-Color Taxi

Similar to Crazy Taxi

If you've played Crazy Taxi, then you'll get the gist of this game, but they've thrown in some interesting conventions. You cruise around picking up customers and delivering them for fares. However, you don't really know where to take them. You'll get a general direction, but the familiar on-screen arrows we are accustomed to are nowhere to be found.

You are given the general area which you can head toward, but you only get a small view of the whole area and the steering mechanics make
4-color retro fun with more difficulty than anticipated.
it tough to stay on course while also remembering the course. ShadowBrain describes the game's controls as "hard to master"! As yo can see, it's intentionally difficult in unique ways.

Hitting things causes damage to you taxi and as the desire to make a U-turn grows - know that it causes a lot of damage. Some call this frustration, while others put a check-mark in the "fun" column. Oh yeah... there's no map and your taxi is constantly accelerating until you hit something. Hitting things does slow you down.

ShadowBrain's 4-Color Taxi

Yes, It's Intentionally Difficult :)

We like this game because it is difficult in ways that this genre is not usually known for. The difficulty comes in proper driving, finding your way around and avoiding obstacles. Generally, these types of games assist you in a variety of ways so you don't have to think too much.

Simply finding your destination is a challenge. The balance of staying on the road while trying to recall the overall layout - remember there's no map - makes this game challenging in ways I'm not accustomed to. It's not a casual game - it will make your brain work for each fare collected.

I love the 4-color Game Boy look of this game. It's a modern game that lets me revel in it's retro appeal. My phone is termed a phablet as it is fairly large, but it still doesn't have the blocky heft of an actual Gameboy. But the look and feel of 4-Color Taxi brings retro happiness. Give this game a shot. It may piss you off, but it may also make you smile. It's unique in a lot of ways and we want you to bask in it's retro appeal... even if is pisses you off ;)
May 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners, in Brooklyn, turns laundry night into game night via pinball

Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners pinball I don't particularly like doing laundry at home, so when the machine is on the fritz, you can only imagine my loathing of dragging all my stuff to a laundromat. Clean clothes are a necessity - for most of us. Thus there's really no incentive for a laundromat to be anything other than a destination for nominally functional washers & dryers.

I've read stories that Nolan Bushnell came up with the Chuck E. Cheese's concept while wishing he had something to do as he waited for a pizza at a restaurant.

Several types of businesses have had success with a few video games tucked into the corner. The idea of a hybrid business - involving video games - is less common. But it's an idea I really like! I first saw this posted on ausretrogamer's site, so I had to look this up.

Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners pinball

Laundromat and Pinball

The Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners in Brooklyn, NY is a hybrid business that has melded pinball with a laundromat. The genius of it - to me- is combining something fun like pinball with something people hate; doing laundry. Adding fun to laundry is both clever and inspiring.

Yelp has several comments by people lauding the cleaning services, while others go to play pinball. And there was one guy who had a birthday party there!

A great Wall Street Journal article reveals, co-owner Peter Rose always wanted to own a pinball venue and discovered Sunshine through his love of fixing coin-op games. He seems to keep the atmosphere light and fun as he integrates more offerings. He's currently seeking a liquor license.

With top pinball titles, you get more than just clean clothes!
Keep in mind that this isn't a run down laundry joint with a row of aging coin-ops to keep the patrons entertained. Rose has curated an amalgamation of top titles and even hosted the New York State Pinball Championship! Yes, at a laundromat!

Some folks are quick to point out that offering entertainment in a laundromat has been done before. Yes, it has. But with a renewed interest in retro games and the success of barcades catering to specific gaming genres, I think the climate is right for a hybrid business, like the Sunshine Laundromat, to be much more than a novelty.

This business melding isn't for the sake of quirky publicity. It feels born out of passion and true interest in creating a grand experience... even if you're just doing a load of laundry.

Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners pinball I hope the Sunshine Laundromat & Cleaners finds success because they're doing something different, but not for the sake of being different. I'm sure the pieces fell into place in an odd manner, but one in which they fit well. Adding a liquor license to a pinball laundromat is pretty cool. Most of all, this is a privately held, small business that offers something extremely unique to it's local clientele and the surrounding community.

I applaud the success of any arcade these days, but to read about someone who made it happen out of passion in unlikely surroundings, makes the whole story very special. If you're in Brooklyn, NY stop in and play while you clean a load of clothes - you may even e able to buy a beer too!
May 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With McDonalds updating the Hamburglar will we also get an MC Kids reboot for Wii U? #RobbleRobble

McDonald's newly updated Hamburglar As a kid I was all about McDonalds and their crazy array of characters. From Mayor McCheese to Ronald, Grimace, and the Hamburglar, I was entranced by the whole golden arches burger world. I had plush toys and all the collectable cups and glasses. At the time, they all fit in with H.R. Pufnstuf and Hanna-Barbera's Banana Splits.

I loved the Hamburglar and later in life thought he had swapped jobs to become Kaboom's Mad Bomber. McDonalds recently announced they are bringing the Hamburgler back to their TV ads, but he's no longer the single-toothed masked man of days gone by.

I miss the snaggle-toothed Hamburglar.
His upgrade includes a trenchcoat and red hi-tops. The update portrays him as a suave suburban dude with a bit of "burglar" thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure they've really made it clear that he steals delicious hamburgers as opposed to staging home invasions. I'm not sure I'm down with their "suburban Dad" description. From his original roots he still has his signature catch phrase that will become a social media hashtag - #RobbleRobble.

In 1992 Virgin Games released M.C. Kids, a tie-in game to promote McDonald's Happy Meals. The deal fell through, but the game was released and it's pretty good!

I think the real question regarding McDonald's rebooting the past is - what about an M.C. Kids update? Every platform can benefit from another platformer. When will we get McDonaldland on the Wii U? It could even be a Ronald McDonald FPS - i'm not picky ;)
May 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Taco Bell unboxes their Steak DoubleDilla confident that customers remember the Nintendo 64

N64 taco If you weren't one of those frenzied Christmas-morning kids who went berserk over an amazing gift, you've likely seen videos of kids going nuts over a new Atari, Intellivision or Nintendo console, on YouTube. I certainly hope you were one of those kids lucky enough to awake to a new game console - it was the staple of 1980's holiday cheer!

Taco Bell is trying to convert that Christmas morning excitement into similar emotions for a new food item they're offering. The new Steak DoubleDilla is featured in a pretty cool TV commercial where they show a brother & sister's reaction to getting a Nintendo 64 game console on Christmas morning 1998. They swap between their childhood cheers to the same siblings now cheering excitedly over Taco Bell's new menu item.

The best part is that they are actually the same brother and sister in both eras. Apparently, Taco Bell tracked down Rachel and Brandon Kuzma who appeared in a Christmas morning video when they got an N64 game console. Now the siblings are mustering the same excitement for the Steak DoubleDilla.



I love that these are allegedly the same kids from the YouTube video. Of more interest is that Taco Bell believes their customer base is familiar with Nintendo's N64 console. We're all familiar with exuberant holiday excitement, but to have a successful ad the viewer needs to associate the excitement between the N64 and the Steak DoubleDilla. In other words, value must be associated with the N64 to equate it with excitement over Taco Bell's food.

N64 taco If viewers saw the kids manic for a balloon or trite item, they won't value that excitement nor equate it with any interest in the Taco Bell food. OK, that's my analysis...

The bottom line is that Taco Bell recognizes the coolness of the N64 and are leveraging that to rally excitement over the Steak DoubleDilla. They even use the gaming term "unboxing" referring to the box in which their food is served.

I dig the gaming tie-in and hope other businesses will find ways to incorporate gaming into their commercials in a positive manner. Too often gaming is on the receiving end of dull humor and negative associations.

Feed your face and fire up your N64!



FYI- While I love the idea that they're using retro gaming in a creative and positive way, this post is in no way an endorsement of Taco Bell.
May 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Disney waits for the day after Star Wars Day to announce Infinity 3.0 Star Wars

If Disney was rallying for an early May announcement of Disney Infinity 3 edition with Star Wars... wouldn't May 4th have been a good day for that? You know... Star Wars Day. May the fourth be with you. Seems logical.

However, they chose Cinco de Mayo to send out an email notification. Maybe they were going for that day-after vibe of "Revenge of the Fifth." Who knows.

I have to admit I'm kind of excited about the Star Wars releases. However, my interest in Star Wars surrounds the initial films of the late 70s and early 80s. As I understand it, the Starter Pack includes characters from the prequel trilogy like Ahsoka and Anakin. I'm more eager to see how they adapt the original trilogy with Luke, Han, Leia, etc. Polygon has some good info on the release strategy.

Disney Infinity 3 edition with Star Wars This image arrived in my inbox from the Disney Infinity mailing list. I'm not a huge fan of the Infinity games. For me, the characters they've released seem erratic and incomplete - Jack Skellington and no Sally? They've released characters that have no playset and therefore can only be used in the Toybox. I'd much rather be able to play the characters in their native environments via a playset.

I really hope the Star Wars edition contains a better array of characters and playsets. The Toybox seems cool, but I like the ability to play in the character's world via a playset. There are only so many times I can have a car race with Lightning McQueen and a Stormtrooper.
May 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Drift off with your favorite video game tracks re-imagined as lullabies via Scarlet Moon Records

I'd never encountered video game soundtracks set to soothe in the form of a lullaby. Its an interesting transition between something familiar and something soothing. Whether you want to chill out with relaxing and familiar gaming tunes or drift off to sleep, these two releases from Scarlet Moon Records are really awesome! It's such a different way to enjoy these video game favorites.

Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies offers 10 tracks featuring a wide array of game titles. From Final Fantasy VII and Super Mario 64 to Secret of Mana and Donkey Kong Country, this album will lull and excite you!
Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies Volume II Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies Volume II also features 10 video game tracks set to dulcet tones. This volume delights with tracks from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Shovel Knight to Chrono Trigger and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater!

You can listen to the tracks on Loudr and buy either or both of these albums from Scarlet Moon Productions.
May 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Moms play too- join the #3DSMoms for an online Mother's Day Twitter jam

We hear the term "gamer girl" fairly often, but don't always stop to realize that some of those "girls" are Moms! Here's a pretty cool event for Moms who like to play video games!

Under the hashtag #3DSMoms, the women of Mom Central (cool name!) are having an online jam to discuss Mom stuff and a passion for Nintendo's 3DS. If you know of someone who'd benefit from a hangout with like-minded gamer Moms, pass along this info about Mom Central's #3DSMoms Twitter Party. We hope that some of these Moms like retro gaming. There's a surprising number of genuine retro and retro-inspired games for the 2/3DS.

Mom Central's 3DS Twitter party We see so many stories of exclusion in the gaming community. From Gamergate to random undirected hate, it's nice to see a unifying event that brings gamers together to revel in their passion for Nintendo... and Mom stuff.

Mom Central's 3DS Twitter party
May 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Here's a look at my Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP for Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day, celebrated on May 4th, comes from the tongue-in-cheek pronunciation of "May the Force be with you", sounding like "May the fourth". It's one of those self-proclaimed geek holidays for celebrating the awesomeness of Star Wars and all things geek. Free ComicBook Day is often quite close and created a celebration of geekiness from brick & Mortar shops, online retailers and crafters.

My parents bought me this cool record shortly after we saw Star Wars. It's copyrighted 1977 and features music and voices from the film in a story telling format. I guess "yesterday's" books-on-tape were actually on vinyl ;)

Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP cover Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP cover.
Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP back cover Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP back cover.

Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP , inside Inside the Story Of Star Wars package is one vinyl record and an 8-page booklet with photos from the film. The 8-page booklet was originally affixed to the inner spine of the packaging, via staples, but pulled loose over time. Many albums packaged in a gatefold format had 2 records. The Story of Star Wars is a single album in a gatefold package to protect the inner booklet.

Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP showing the record's sleeve and the 8-page booklet with photos from the movie.
Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP Story Of Star Wars vinyl LP.

Mail-in Star Wars t-shirt offer Enclosed with the record was a mail-in t-shirt offer... for only $5!

Those "Other" Fans (nsfw)

Free Comic Book Day 2015 Star Wars Day tends to encompass a wide swath of scifi interests. For some retailers, It's become a promotional vehicle for a variety of geeky products. At the same time, other retailers use it to promote almost anything.

The folks who make the Fleshlight series of adult novelties (sex toys) are using Star Wars Day to promote some of their wares. You might be inclined to wonder what possible connection their items have with science fiction. Perhaps an alien dildo (NSFW) is appropriate for Star Wars Day. You decide ;)
May 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Britney & Iggy's Pretty Girls' galactic cover art needed more retro gaming influence

Britney & Iggy's Pretty Girls Britney Spears was one of my guilty pleasures of late '99. As a devoted Kiss, Judas Priest, and AC/DC fan, Britney's gyrations and pop glory were a stark contrast to my favorite metal bands, but I couldn't help but like her. I'll admit to having a slight penchant for pop, but Rob Halford is the metal god!

Then Iggy Azalea came along with Charli XCX in tow and I rather fancied that song they came up with. When Brit & Iggy speculations grew about a collaboration on a single titled, "Pretty Girls," the idea piqued my curiosity. When the cover art was released, I wondered where the galactic theme came from. Where they out of this world? What's the connection?

It was clear to me that this album art was lacking in realistic galactic content. Thus, I added a few elements from some of my favorite space-battle retro games.

Britney & Iggy's Pretty Girls I may have slathered retro gaming space craft all over their cover, but I'd love to know where this planetary idea came from. It doesn't seem to have a relation to the song... as far as I can tell.
May 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

On Kentucky Derby Day, I've got a bacon snack and PS2 Horse racing before tuning in

There's nothing better than a bacon-infused snack and a day of PS2 horse racing before the actual Kentucky Derby!

Kentucky Derby Day snack and game Next year I'll have to go with Champion Jockey.
May 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

What books did you pick up on Free Comic Book Day?

Here are the 5 comic books I picked up at my local Newbury Comics store. They're a great source for everything that's culturally relevant in the world today ;)

There were a lot of Dads present with their kids, but they're not fooling anyone... You can't bring your kids to Free Comic Book Day and pretend those books aren't for Dad! :)

Free Comic Book Day 2015 Left to right: Doctor Who, Avengers Magazine, Avengers, Divergence, Super Mutant Magic Academy. Free Comic Book Day 2015 trending on Twitter This year's selection was very Superhero oriented - especially the Avengers with the new movie. At past Free Comic Book Day events I've picked up something from Archie Comics. Those guys are getting downright edgy with those Riverdale kids! Just check out Afterlife With Archie or Archie VS Predator. It's always nice to be able to get something offbeat at this event.

Free Comic Book Day is a great way to get kids interested in comic books. As a kid, I loved Sad Sack and Casper among others. I think books should be an important part of everyone's life, but comics are a valuable medium for getting kids interested in written stories.
May 2, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Microsoft's age-guessing carnival act is stymied by retro gaming royalty

I never thought that IBM designed Watson for the purpose of winning a TV game show. The sad truth is that winning a trivia contest was probably the best way to convince most folks that Watson was genuine and "intelligent". I guess we're not smart enough to understand the concepts behind Watson, but if Alex Trebek thinks "he's" smart... well, who's to argue, right?

Microsoft's new website,
An article on
Fast Company offers some insights by way of the fine print which indicates that Microsoft owns rights to any photos you upload for the age-guessing result. This conflicts with the info on the main page saying they do not keep any of the uploaded photos. Regardless of the truth, I don't want my picture floating around Microsoft servers or ad campaigns.

Here are some results from various video game characters...

Liz Katz cosplaying as Princess Peach Princess Peach is 23 years old. Liz Katz Cosplays as Mario's gal-pal.
Ulala from Space Channel 5 cosplay Ulala from Space Channel 5 is 30 years old. This is a great cosplay - I wish I knew who she is.

Microsoft seems to be able to detect actual human faces, but won't acknowledge the likes of Bill Rizer or Evil Otto. I'm calling outcome of this experiment - somewhat dubious ;)

Bill Rizer from Contra Bill Rizer from Konami's Contra apparently has no face.
Evil Otto from Stern's Berzerk Evil Otto, from Stern's Berzerk, clearly has a face, but Microsoft chooses not to see his evil grin.

May 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The soundtrack to thatgamecompany's game, Journey, will be released on vinyl via iam8bit

thatgamecompanys Journey for PS3 I haven't had the opportunity to play Journey but it's raves and awards certainly make me want to pick up the Collector's Edition. When reviews contain words like ethereal, innovative, and emotional you know it must deliver an experience unlike most of the games on retail shelves.

Of interest is Journey's acceptance as "art". There have been many debates over video games and their worthiness as an artform as well as their display in museums. While the vast majority of video games have received dubious support as "art", Journey's soundtrack, scored by Austin Wintory, garnered an Grammy nomination.

Steps like this may help outsiders see the beauty, stories and embracing values held within so many different games. From the side-art of vintage arcade cabinets, to the modern worlds made up of pixels, video games are indeed works of art. As gamers, we come up against ignorant people who see games as a mindless pastime.

Part of what helps elevate gaming as art is the overall experience from creation to presentation to engaging the players. When it comes to presentation, iam8bit is one of the most innovative digital marketers working with the gaming industry. They are going to release Journey's soundtrack on 2 vinyl picture discs with artwork by Mark Englert.

iam8bits soundtrack release for Journey on vinyl Journey art by Mark Englert There has been quite a resurgence of music being released on vinyl. When I first fell in love with music as a kid, I listened to my favorite songs on a clock-radio with an awful built-in speaker. When I was old enough to buy my own music, vinyl was the dominant format even as cassettes began to oust 8-track tapes for storage.

tiam8bits soundtrack release for Journey on vinyl The first album I ever bought was Kiss' Destroyer at a Giant Music store in VA. It was the beginning of my discovery of sonic awesomeness and the various emotions that came with different artists. That wouldn't be the last Kiss album I ever bought, but it was my gateway into a passion for this form of artistry.

As far as gaming soundtracks being released on vinyl, it dates back to the Atari era in which songs and stories tied into popular video games emerged on records. The Missile Command 45RPM record is such an example. I have an Atari Asteroids album and have seen a similar one for Yar's Revenge.

It's fun to see modern albums recently released on vinyl in stores along with Crosley portable turntables. It reminds me of simpler times when album covers were coveted works of art and my friends and I would get together just to listen to a new album. Before I dawdle too far down memory lane, check out iam8bit's release for Journey's soundtrack and take a break from iTunes and buy an album on vinyl! :)

April 2015 Retro Gaming Articles:

April 30, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Clean your game carts without q-tip fuzz or blowing- try a 1UPcard cleaning kit

1UPcard logo I too fell victim to the notion that blowing on game carts had some sort of positive effect. That was during the NES era. I should have known better. Oxidation woes were nothing new to me as an Atari owner, yet something about that new gray box led me to believe that my pizza-breath had some effect on it's circuitry.

Now and then (and yesterday) I've had to re-insert 2600 carts a few times before the start screen would apear. I never blew on an Atari cart, but that gray box seemed to demand it. The problem is blowing tends to feed part of what causes oxidation in the first place - moisture! Re-inserting the cart simply scuffed off enough crud to make the contacts connect and run the game.

Q-tips seem like a good solution, but they're much better for ears than cleaning video game cartridges. Bits of fuzz always seem to snag on the cart's innards and that can't be good - especially if you're pushing that cart into a ZIF slot that might deposit your renegade fuzz inside the console. Anyway... There has to be a better way.

Adam Stephey, creator of the 1UPcard, has a solution. His solution is 99% isopropyl alcohol (see what I did there?) and a durable polypropylene felt card that applies the alcohol and buffs cartridge's contacts dry. It works with any game cart and comes with a small bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol and cleaning card. Check out the video on his site and see if his 1UPcard system seems better than blowing on your game carts.

1 UP Card cleaning system

Bypass q-tips and try the 1UPcard next time you need to clean a game cartridge

April 29, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Marilyn Manson took creative inspiration from Playstation One discs when pressing his latest album

As a long time fan of Marilyn Manson's music, despite his peculiarities, I was excited to see another studio album come out. I often feel as though I'm one of the last people on the planet who still buys CDs - pre-recorded CDs. I'd much rather buy a band's CD than download the files from iTunes. The physical product is part of the awesomeness of buying music. Isn't that part of the appeal in the resurgence of album releases on vinyl? You can even buy Taylor Swift's recent album on vinyl at my local Newbury Comics store.

Marilyn Manson - The Pale Emperor Demand for CD's is certainly low these days. This forces record labels to devise new strategies to lure buyers into buying a physical copy rather than a digital download. Manson's traditional "dark" motif has been carried over to his release of The Pale Emperor. The inner packaging is black as is the CD itself - front and back!

You may remember the initial run of game discs for the Playstation were black on the read side with a standard label on the top side. Tehy looked pretty cool, but were actually an early technique for dissuading illegal duplication. This was a time when CD burners were the biggest threat to digital media. It was also a time when video games were trying to differentiate themselves from other digital packaging and employed a few different packaging styles before they went to a DVD-like case.

My first music collection were vinyl LPs. Album art was an intrinsic part of buying an listening to music. Very often the inner sleeve that protected the album also contained artwork and/or info. The same was true of Laserdiscs which were also packaged similarly to LPs. When CDs were first released they came in long boxes that often replicated the cover art on the outer box and the insert in the CD's plastic case.

Battle Arena Toshinden for Playstation That was quickly dispensed with due to costs and we really lost the concept of album art. Both cassettes and 8-tracks had artwork, but the media was small and didn't offer the vast canvas of a vinyl album.

To go back to his gothic roots, Manson's faction chose the black polycarbonate discs used by those early PlayStation games. They even sourced them from Sony and used the same plant from where the first PlayStation discs were manufactured. His camp says the decision was purely aesthetic for the "dark" look of the media.

They took the visual an additional step by applying a thermal layer to the top of the disc. As the disc heats up spinning inside your CD player, it turns from black to white and returns to black as it cools. Pretty slick!

Criticom for Playstation
April 28, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If Mario only knew how I attained Club Nintendo Platinum status

When Nintendo announced the shuttering of it's Club Nintendo rewards program, I went to the site to see the status of my account. I'd bought a 2DS for my son and one for myself, so I was curious to see if I had enough points to qualify for anything before it was gone for good.

My points were pretty low. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time I'd logged in to register anything. I don't often buy new games, but I had recently bought NES Remix so I decided to look for the redemption coupon. It was still in the case behind the manual, so I entered the code. Then I remembered buying a Wii Mini the year before - I was sure I must have that coupon as well.

Soon I was searching through all my games looking for Club Nintendo redemption codes. Many of the used games still had the cards inside the cases and they were still valid. In about an hour or so I had racked up enough points for Platinum status - almost entirely from the unused codes still hiding inside my game cases.

Club Nintendo Platinum I can't call this my proudest moment, but I am enjoying a free copy of Yoshi's Island.
April 27, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Neca's Cornelius Scaler reminded me of the lost Planet of the Apes game for the Atari 2600

Planet of the Apes, Cornelius Scaler While perusing Toys R Us for a birthday present, I saw cornelius, from Planet of the Apes, out of the corner of my eye. I loved the early films and remember watching the short-lived 1974 POTA TV series! In the action figure aisle, I'd seen a Scaler - a 2" figurine from Neca that clings to all sorts of cables and cords. For no good reason - I had to have it!

The original Planet of the Apes trilogy of films bring back so many memories from childhood. The films fascinated me and terrified me. I particularly loved the original film in which the astronauts wake in a new world unaware of what had happend during their journey. When they first see apes on horseback corralling humans, always sent chills through me. And when they encounter the Statue of Liberty's torch, the realization of what transpired rushes into one's consciousness. There's only one first-time for that realization and I still remember the feeling I got from it. Such a classic film!

Planet of the Apes But what about video games? With the original film dating back to 1968, there obviously weren't any tie-in games at the time, but It's a film that resonates with many people and has been re-made a few times now. Interestingly, PlayStation and Game Boy Advance games were released in support of a re-make, but followed the plot of the '68 film.

Planet of the Apes for Atari 2600

I was most interested to learn that there was a POTA video game in production for the Atari 2600. Never released, this prototype from 20th Century Fox was scrapped as the crash of '83 came to fruition. Deemed "lost" for many years, it was determined that the POTA proto was hiding in plain sight as "Alligator People" - another proto from 20th Century Fox! this was discovered by Matt at Atari Protos.

Planet of the Apes Screen shot Atari 2600 Neither the PlayStation or Game Boy Advance versions of Planet of the Apes were well received. The cinematic cuts in the Playstation game were quite well done for it's era, but the game play on both was quite bad. With mad passion for the original POTA films, I wasn't too stoked about the re-makes and didn't really pay any attention to the game releases. I assumed they'd follow the remade plots.

Having seem some play-through videos, the game play is below par for both platforms.

Planet of the Apes for PlayStation Planet of the Apes video game for the original PlayStation uses a over-the-shoulder view, but the camera tends to lag too far behind the character which restricts viewing of upcoming enemies.
Planet of the Apes for Game Boy Advance Planet of the Apes video game for the Game Boy Advance is a side-scroller.

The real take-away here is that you can fire up Stella and play Planet of the Apes for the Atari 2600! Yay!
April 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Join Retro Game Base at the Four Quarters Arcade Bar for Console Collective in London

Are you a retro gamer in London seeking a few beers and the opportunity to play your favorite classic game consoles? How about a full blown retro gaming tournament?

London's only dedicated retro gaming store, Retro Game Base and the Four Quarters Arcade Bar are teaming up for a weekly game night - Console Collective!

Console Collective in London Peckham's hottest new venue The Four Quarters teams up with London's only dedicated retro gaming shop Retro Game Base to bring a regular retro gaming event to South London!

Retro Game Base in London Retro Game Base A range of authentic, classic home video game consoles are set up in the upstairs area of the Four Quarters bar on Rye Lane. With a cosy, man-cave in the attic feel you will be in a nostalgic heaven when faced with the consoles of your childhood. NES, SNES, N64, Master System, Mega Drive, Dreamcast, Saturn, Atari 2600, Playstation 1 and Gamecube are all here to be played.

With a lack of a regular, sociable, retro gaming event Retro Game Base has taken on the task of running the Console Collective, a themed event, free to enter and play and designed to show off games across the consoles of yesteryear within a genre theme. Expect VS Fighter showcases, classic platformer showdowns, pixelated sports game marathons and intense racing grand prix's.

With a focus on player selection of games for upcoming events via their Facebook events polls you can be sure to have an input on games that will be available to play at future events. Due to the collaboration with Retro Game Base many games across all the represented systems can be obtained so each Tuesday will be a new experience!

Four Quarters Arcade Bar in London A pay-to-enter tournament will also be arranged each week for those with a competitive streak with bar tabs for the Four Quarters as well as Retro Game Base vouchers up for grabs.

What could be better to get over those mid-week blues than grabbing a cool craft beer from the bar and chatting and playing with like-minded nostalgia-filled gamers?

Whether you regularly play video games or haven't picked up a controller in years (or maybe ever?!) the Console Collective is the perfect get together for retro lovers.

The next Console Collective has a SHMUP theme on the 28th April!
April 26, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

One year ago today, a crew excavated a New Mexico landfill revealing numerous Atari games

Last year on April 26, I was transfixed in front of my computer refreshing Twitter as images rolled in from a long-defunct Alamogordo, MN landfill. I had been hearing rumors that a documentary team was getting permits to try and unearth the Atari legend. Along the way various state agencies had concerns and there were delays. I assumed this would be a never-ending bureaucratic nightmare.

Then I began reading posts saying: join us Friday and Saturday for the Atari Dig. Suddenly, there seemed to be plans, permits and a DIG! And it was happening in a few days. Reading all this last Spring gave me chills. I'd have loved to have been on-site, but I didn't really think it would happen. Next thing I know Ernie Cline is in Alamogordo, renting out a local arcade for an Atari Dig party and excavators were doing preliminary clearing. Wow - this thing is ON!

ET games found in the Alamogordo Landfill When I saw a tweet reading, "They found something", I was on the edge of my seat. I wished I was there, but excitement ripped through me as folks posted images on social media.

This past Fall, the documentary film, Atari: Game Over was released and is now available on Netflix. The local historical society helped auction some of the recovered games on eBay.

Most folks believed the Atari legend was true and that Atari had indeed dumped a lot of merchandise in the landfill. Where things became murky surrounded the quantities and game titles. The myth was that Atari failed because they produced millions of copies of E.T. The Extraterrestrial for the 2600 and it turned out to be the worst game ever.

They actually found over 30 different titles (some for the 5200) along with some miscellaneous parts. If we learned nothing else; know that E.T. The Extraterrestrial is not the worst game ever. Most people who say that have never played the game!

What shocked me most was that they were able to figure out where to dig. The Alamogordo landfill is massive and the filmmakers gave no indication that they had any idea where to look. The Atari Dig made for an exciting day - even online - and should be remembered as a notable point in gaming's history!

We have a summary of the Atari Dig with the list of games, participants and a lot of images. Check it out!
April 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Remember when games were shipped complete and offered Expansion Packs for additional game play?

I saw a version of this graphic online and wanted to expand on it's brilliance. I'm not sure who the original creator is, but they have my admiration for a great analogy!

It doesn't seem that long ago that one could buy a game at Babbages or Electronic's Boutique and later return to buy an expansion pack to extend the game's longevity. These expansion packs were often separate from the original game, but relied on it's engine and other resourced to function. In an RPG, an expansion pack might offer access to another realm or world along with a new character and/or weapons.

Expansion Packs extended the experience of a properly released game.
This is a term that has yielded to the newer Downloadable Content (DLC) term. Not long ago, buying a game felt rewarding and complete. There was an expectation of quality that has eroded greatly. In the cartridge days, once a game was on an e-prom, that was the end. There were no updated, fixes, alterations, etc. It was complete and sitting on a retail shelf.

Contrast that with today's computers and game consoles that have hard drives and internet connections. Developers can almost reach out and change your game at will. Over the Net, they can send updates, fixes and all sorts of stuff - stuff that used to be expansion packs. Now called DLC, developers offer expansion to their games, But they aren't really adding value to a beloved title as much as tempting you to spend money - a lot of money. Possibly more than you spent on the original game itself.

DLC versus Expansion Packs Check out our Fast Food gaming analogy. Looks like games and burgers were better in the past Games today seem lighter, shorter, and offering fewer options. You want options? Buy 'em! It's all DLC these days. They call them micro transactions. They are small and frequent in the hope that you'll be more inclined to buy ten $3 items as opposed to one $30 item. Next thing you know you've spent twice the cost of the game and don't always feel as though you had the same robust experience one found 15 years ago.

DLC should expand a great experience, not bolster a mediocre one!
It's worse than that. The digital age allows developers to fix things. That sounds like a good thing, but it's drawback is the increased amount of fixing that now happens. Many games come to market with numerous problems. Over time the developer fixes these problems, but most of them should have been acknowledged and resolved prior to being on a retail shelf.

While it may be nice to breathe some life into a game by "selling" a new adventure or world as DLC that can be added. Think of it from the opposite perspective. Why wasn't that content included in the original game? Too often it feels as though developers hold back elements of a game in order to later sell them to you!

How many times have you seen the inclusion of a character in a game's advertising only to learn that you have to pay extra to obtain the character? There are a lot of shady things going on with DLC. That isn't to say that all DLC is motivated by greed, but too often I see it as a way to increase the revenue for a game that was not properly completed prior to it's release. If you spend $60 on a new game, you shouldn't feel like a beta-tester!
April 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Even nomadic porn stars crave the immersive worlds offered only through video games

If you've never heard of porn star, Ariel Rebel (NSFW) - you really should. And not just because she's naked. She isn't your typical adult star who pumps out endless movies with no plot and bad music. She's more of an entrepreneur solo girl - a cam girl some might say, but we think she's much more than that. She's built a business for herself that affords her some options we'd all like to have. I don't simply mean endless sex :)

Her biz is primarily on the internet, so her "office" is anywhere you can find a Net connection - which is increasingly easy in the digital age. What impresses me is her ability to converse with fans and be a very genuine person. Across social media, I never get the feeling that she's promoting or selling anything. She's just there chatting it up with fans and keeping them in her loop.

She's a foodie with a food/recipe website and always has something interesting going on. Unless you knew... you might not even know her business is being naked... OK some pics might tip you off.

Ariel Rebel is Zesty & Spicy Of those options I spoke of, Ms. Rebel and her boyfriend/photographer have gone nomadic! They put their physical lives in storage and have headed out to explore the world... sometimes in the nude. With no need for a physical address, they're traveling the globe to see what is out there. That is an amazing thing to do - to be able to do! Just fantastic.

I know so many people that still live in the town they were born in and have never traveled across this country, let alone one on another continent. The world is a big place and so few of us get to see that without watching a televised documentary. How many of us could pack up our lives and take off to discover the world? It's such a rare opportunity.

Ms. Rebel is an outgoing sort of gal and will have an amazing story to tell after she's done globe trotting. She'll see more of the world than many of us are even aware of. This is why she's such a great follow on social media. Look her up from the links above and follow her adventures.

But like many of us... she still needs to play video games now and then...

Ariel Rebel video gaming tweet Ariel Rebel arcade Donkey Kong game Ariel Rebel arcade Donkey Kong game Ariel Rebel arcade Donkey Kong game
April 25, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From HD TVs down to mobile screens, are gamers willing to play on the iWatch?

Retro gamers from my era likely sat on the floor in front of the TV when playing video games. So prevalent is that scenario, that we recently wrote an article about moving to the couch, as we age. Along with gaming on the couch with friends, as time passed, TVs grew larger - really big. Then the mobile craze hit... for some of us.

Apple iWatch logo I'm slowly embracing mobile games, but I'll always prefer gaming on a large TV. I'm not fond of the finger-swipe controls nor the tiny screens. However, I adore my 2DS and understand the desire to game-on-the-go, so mobile gaming's success is little surprise.

Then I came across an article about game devs creating games for the iWatch. Wait, what!?! It's a wide open space and a new platform from Apple. This makes it a target-rich environment for games, but when it comes to tiny screens, a watch is about as small as it gets. I've heard of games for the Pebble smartwatch, but I was still surprised to hear of the strong desire surrounding developing games for iWatch.

Space Invaders Photoshop'd onto an Apple iWatch I PhotoShop'd Space Invaders onto this pic. Were it real, my desire to own an iWatch might rise ;) I know little about the iWatch other than I've yet to be convinced I need one. At this stage the iWatch needs to be coupled to an iPhone to be of any utility, so as an Android user, it doesn't make sense for me. Still, I wonder how it might work game-wise. With the the device attached to your wrist, you'd only have one hand available. With such a small device, two hands might be cumbersome at best. I understand the attraction to new virgin territory, but can't see the appeal of mobile gaming on a screen even smaller than a phone.

Apple's entry into smartwatches will likely open the whole market to gaming.
Nintendo's logic has often been to develop for the platform. They understand that a 3DS game needs to be enjoyable in shorter time spans on a smaller screen, while the Wii U can support an all-day marathon gaming session. I wonder if the iWatch as such a new (and small) device will be looked upon in that manner. Or will Grand Theft Auto and Assassin's Creed be ported over. As ridiculous as that sounds, I'm sure if gaming is successful on watches, every dev out there will want to put their game onto the platform.

With smartwatches still being a luxury rather than necessity, it will be interesting to see how initial games are designed. smartwatches have a unique set of challenges, but how long can it be until the iWatch becomes a second screen for an iOS game?

Play Tetris on a Cannon calculator If it has a screen, you can play games on it! :) Gaming has become an enormous force in the industry, eclipsing other entertainment leaders like the movie and music industries. I suppose it's inevitable that gaming will gravitate towards any device with a screen and a button or two. The journey should be interesting to see as the devices become more powerful. You know the screens won't get any bigger :)
April 24, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The biography of Hewson Consultants and 21st Century Entertainment has a killer chiptune soundtrack

If you remember game development company Hewson Consultants, you'll be excited about the upcoming biography on their rise beginning in the early 80's. If not, this is a great opportunity to learn about this innovative company and the amazing games they made. Hints and Tips for Videogame Pioneers is the biography's title as well as that of the chiptune soundtrack taken from their infamous game library.

Hewson Consultants logo In the early days of video games, there were no rules or limits. Best practices would evolve over time as gaming grew, but anarchy ruled the day as far as game development was concerned. As an Atari kid in the early 80's, my 2600 let me play some amazing games. Across the pond, as they say, gamers were playing amazing games on the ZX Spectrum.

Unlike my 2600, the ZX Spectrum enabled development! Kids who loved playing games could then create their own. That was a powerful difference and Speccy owners took advantage of it and created some of the most insane game concepts ever! It was an interesting time as computers came to market and consumers weren't sure if they should play games on a computer or if game consoles should have computer capabilities.

Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers soundtrack Regardless, those who took to gaming and learned to code games had the power to create anything they could dream of. One such coder was Andrew Hewson who went on to write books that helped others. They began sending him the games they'd created which led to a publishing and development venture in Hewson Consultants and 21st Century Entertainment.

Both companies were well respected in the gaming industry and delivered renown games like Paradroid, Uridium, Nebulus, and Pinball Dreams. Their games were quite innovative and often pushed the limits of the various platforms for which they were designed.

The Book

Andrew Hewson tells this story in an upcoming biography. From the Hewson consultants website:
Hints and Tips for Videogame Pioneers is about more than just the history of Hewson Consultants and 21st Century Entertainment, and it's about more than just the games. It's a book which digs beneath the surface to examine the forces which made those companies such prolific hit-producers, unearthing a rich tapestry of expertise for the new generation of bedroom coders. It's a story of triumph and disaster, ecstasy and turmoil and perpetual market forces in an industry which is constantly reinventing itself.

The Chiptune Soundtrack - Hints and Tips for Videogame Pioneers

The biography has a companion soundtrack comprised of music from 10 classic Hewson games, remade by legendary artists. I'm loving this soundtrack and highly recommend it! It will liven your next game night and bring back memories of gaming's golden era. Give it a listen!

  1. Firelord: The Orchestral Mix, Ben Daglish & Max Hall
  2. Uridium, PRESS PLAY ON TAPE
  3. Avalon, Steve Turner
  4. Dragontorc, Norbert Weiher
  5. Battle Valley (feat. Tess Fries), Tess & Tel
  6. Rana Rama, Steve Turner
  7. Eliminator, Jeroen Tel
  8. Exolon, Ash Read
  9. Deliverance: Stormlord 2, Matt Gray
  10. Cybernoid II: The Revenge, Jeroen Tel
  11. Firelord: The Acoustic Live Version, Ben Daglish & Max Hall


You can purchase the Hints and Tips for Videogame Pioneers soundtrack on Bandcamp.
April 23, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Sega CD game, Snatcher is being ported to Virtual Boy in memory of the initial dev

I was an Atari kid and didn't have the money to support games for multiple consoles, so I built a strong bond with my VCS and latter Atari systems. I progressed to Nintendo and remember buying my NES on route to a ski trip in VT. When the VirtualBoy was released I remember seeing it on the shelf and debating whether I should drop that much money on an unproven console.

Snatcher ported to Nintendo's Virtual Boy I couldn't resist and remember thinking that I couldn't pass up something so bizarre! I'm glad I made that decision because the Virtual Boy is such an oddly unique system unlike anything else. It's also a lot of fun!

Part of the joy of retro gaming is doing so on original equipment. An emulator on the computer may allow you to try various Virtual Boy games, but it robs you of immersing yourself inside that flimsy black visor and seeing 3D worlds wrap around you.

Alas, the Virtual Boy was a commercial failure. Amidst allegations of headaches and nausea, Nintendo's 3D wonder was deemed dangerous by many. With a limited life cycle and minimal game library, you might be surprised to know that the Virtual Boy has a vibrant homebrew community. A recent story on Planet Virtual Boy really highlighted the dedication and passion of VrtualBoy fans. Here's the story of a developer's motivation to port Snatcher (Sega CD) to Nintendo's Virtual Boy

Snatcher

Snatcher for Sega CD

Snatcher is a cyberpunk-themed graphic adventure game that was released on several platforms, but the Virtual Boy was not one of them. Snatcher is heavily influenced by the cyberpunk genre and takes place in a futuristic dystopian city. The main character is an investigator named Gillian Seed who's investigating a breed of bioroids known as "snatchers". The Snatchers are killing humans and taking their place in society.

The game play is an interesting first-person perspective with a menu-based interface. You choose from pre-defined options in order to interact with the environment and other characters. If you're not familiar with it or this menu driven genre, checkout a play-through video of Snatcher.

Snatcher Ported to Virtual Boy by a Fan

Snatcher ported to Nintendo's Virtual Boy This is where our tale takes a sad turn. Apparently, a developer entered a coding competition with a great deal of excitement about porting Snatcher to the Virtual Boy. Not long after, his online posts stopped. A year later, another developer learned that Snatcher's original dev has died. He was struck by this and decided to research the game and continue it's port to the Virtual Boy.

You can download the current Snatcher for Virtual Boy demo on Planet Virtual Boy and check out this game play video. Just when you think you're the only one who loves a particular element of retro gaming, there's bound to be a whole fan-base who love it just as much. Seeing the vitality of users on Plante VB reminds me of the passion we all have for our favorite game or console. It's a great feeling!
April 22, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“Saving the planet” is a #retroGaming mantra that applies well to our planet #EathDay2015

Being sequestered to an underground bunker durring horrific storms sounds like the plot from a video game. Don't wait until it leaps from the TV to the real world. If you love playing video games... you need a planet if you want future generations to play too.

Earth Day 2015
April 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Joan Jett re-released I Love Rock & Roll on 33 1/3 anniversary along with 1981 concert

Classic remastered albums are the rage as of late. So many great bands are re-issuing their classic albums lately. In the last few weeks I've picked up remasters from Bad Company and Van Halen. It's been a good year so far!

Today I picked up Joan Jett's remastered 2-CD set of I Love Rock & Roll along with a 1981 concert. It occurred to me that some other cool things occurred in 1981 as well. Defender and Video Pinball came home on the Atari 2600!

Joan Jett re-released I Love Rock & Roll on 33 1/3 anniversary I wish that Van Halen had taken Jett's cue concerning the era of live concert choices. Joan Jett released a disc of tracks from the year I Love Rock & Roll was originally released, 1981. Van Halen chose a live concert from 2013. Diamond Dave sounded much better in the 80s. However, it's so amazing to hear these updated recordings and relive some of the insanity that ruled the 80s when we cranked music while driving to our favorite arcades!

Miley cyrus and Joan Jett Miley cyrus and Joan Jett Jett's 33 1/3 release also coincides with her band's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The HOF has been under a lot of scrutiny regarding their method for inclusion into their exclusive club. Kiss was the latest band to have a public feud with the HOF regarding their induction. I guess the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame figured a low-key figure like Miley Cyrus would keep them on the level. Yes, sarcasm.

I'm sure much craziness ensued. As an overall point of reference - 1981, when I Love Rock & Roll and Defender & Video Pinball for the VCS were released, pre-dates Miley's existence by over a decade. :)

Despite that gap and other apparent differences, Cyrus gave a pretty cool induction speech. Maybe Miley isn't as crazy as the world paints her to be. Either way, Joan Jett is a unique person who continues to rock her heart out. You have to admire a career as long and successful as hers.
April 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Clinton Presidential Library released an Instagram pic of Hillary playing a GameBoy

Does someone at the Clinton Presidential Library, in Arkansas, know today is the Gameboy's anniversary? Could that be what prompted this Instagram photo post? All across the Internet, this 1993 photo of Hillary Clinton playing a GameBoy has appeared.

Hillary Clinton playing a GameBoy Polygon ran a good article on this pic citing a New York Times article in which it was said that Mrs. Clinton was a fan of Nintendo's first handheld - Tetris in particular.

With a run for the Presidency, this is the sort of photo that really makes her seem like an every-day person. You wouldn't expect a Presidential candidate to be playing video games... or admitting to such a thing. Seeing a pic of her playing on a Game Boy is certainly better than listening to all the political rhetoric we're accustomed to.

Some folks have wondered why she wasn't playing on an Atari Lynx. Come on folks - we all know that both a Lynx and a Game Boy will fit in the average purse. There's no telling how much game Hillary was carrying around that day. :)

I promise not to turn this into a political debate - lol - but on a jaunt in her campaigning, Hillary and her entourage stopped at a Chipotle Mexican Grill where no one recognized her. Security cam footage confirmed her meal-stop, but not a soul knew it was Bill's wife stockpiling burritos. If Justin Bieber walked in there, pandaemonium would have ensued.

If it weren't for Instagram and a few game-related hashtags, this photo could easily have escaped notice for years and years. This kind of tells us something about people, voters... or perhaps non-voters. Hard to say. Know your candidate! And play Tetris daily!
April 20, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mash-ups aren't just for music. Play this Pac-Man/Pong/Space Invaders video game mash-up, Pacapong

When I hear the term "mash-up" I begin to think of seemingly disparate tunes being joined in a sonic blast of WTF. Sometimes they mesh well and other times... well, not so much. Often I seek them out due to the oddity of the merged artists. Did you catch that Taylor Swift/Korn track?

In a similar vein, can you imagine playing a mashup of renown retro games, Pac-Man, Pong, and Space Invaders? It's a lot more fun than you might think. In fact... it's pretty awesome!

Pacapong mash up game I discovered Pacapong in an article on Nerdist. You can download Pacapong for PC, Mac, and Linux. It may seem like a silly endeavor to code such a game, but it's surprisingly addictive and difficult. I have to wonder how one decides which three games would work best together.

Suddenly I'm thinking about a Yar's Revenge/Phoenix/Demon Attack mash-up. Hmm, I'd play that!

Of it's many features, what I love best is that it's a 2-player game! One player can use AWSD while player 2 used the arrow keys on the keyboard. Yes, you can also play as both players if your mind can wrap around that challenge. :)

We recommend downloading this gem. While it downloads, take pause and remember that ingenuity like this can offer yet another way to play retro games. Never stop thinking. Great ideas are just one thought away!
April 19, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

amiibo are in short supply while Disney Infinity figures are routinely discounted

I inderstand that people love Nintendo. Many of us grew up with the NES or SNES (or both) and have fond memories of gaming childhoods. Intertwined with that I would also expect to find people clamoring over purchasing Disney Infinity figures. Didn't a lot of us also grow up with Disney movies and the Disney Channel?

There are mountains of social media posts about Disney Infinity's toy box mode and all the crazy stuff you can built within it. Let's contrast that with the empty echos across social media regarding amiibo game play. Does anyone use them in-game?

amiibo vs Disney Infinity figures I know that amiibo are only recenly compatible in the 3DS world with the new 3DS hardware and the Wii U hasn't been the stellar success of past Nintendo consoles, but I can't find anyone discussing amiibo game play. Everyone seems to be complaining about supply shortages and boxed figures on display shelves!

We discussed collecting vs playing amiibo, but their ever-surging popularity makes me wonder why Disney's Infinity characters haven't been flying off the shelves. I'm not fond of the Infinity game itself (despite the apparent popularity of the Toy Box mode), but the characters are really nicely done. I'd say they are on par with the quality of Nintendo's amiibo.

When Jack Skellington came out for the first Infinity game, I went downt to GameStop to get the Jack Skellington Infinity poster, free with the figure. I remember that day. GameStop was a ghost town - not a soul in sight. And that was a really cool NBX poster on heavy stock paper! Yet, very few people showed up to take advantage of a really cool giveaway.

I'm really impressed with the quality of Disney Infinity figres and think they are equally as collectible as amiibo. It baffles me that amiibo are in short supply and high demand while Infinity figures are frequently on sale. It seems as though retailers can't get Ininity figures off the shelves fast enough.

The amiibo craze makes me wonder why Disney Infinity figures aren't equally desired

April 18, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I discovered Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler while connected to local mall wifi

After work yesterday I stopped by the mall to check out Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze on 7" vinyl. Yes, a vinyl album in 2015! It's available at Newbury Comics for Record Store Day on April 18. I'm also curious about those portable Crosley portable turntables. So, anyway...

Mii Plaza Bunny I'm always on the prowl for StreetPasses while at the mall. The SP Relay Stations did not disappoint. I also got word of 2 new Mii PLaza games that were available! I was stoked to download Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler, but mall wifi isn't very reliable so I had to wait until I got home.

In the mean time, I was excited to discover games involving zombies and fishing! Everyone loves zombies (right?) and I've been on a fishing binge in Animal Crossing New Leaf. So these 2 new titles were right on the money for me! I've been a big fan of the Mii Plaza games since they are at the heart of the 2/3DS' connections to other players and motivate communication and interactivity.

Having 2 new games to play with StreetPass gamers has breathed some new life into the experience. I'm sure many of us have completed the first set of Mii Plaza games and had been wondering... what next? The novelty of new games will soon wear off, but for now, I really like both of them and look forward to discovering better strategies. Fishing and killing zombies has jumpstarted my StreetPass fetish.

Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler Battleground Z is the first Plaza game to get an "E10+" rating from the ESRB. Apparently the level of violence merits the rating. While Warrior's Way has large scale battles, it's all done in a harmless animation. I guess the first-person perspective of the zombie slayings is too much for the former "E" rating. I still think Nintendo has provided a family-friendly zombie killing game. ;)

In addition to the new games, the Mii Plaza also has a paid upgrade that offers a few new elements and a new StreetPass tool. Collecting Mii birthdays now populates a calendar that will dole out Plaza Tickets at certain milestones. There is a VIP room that lets you keep Miis that might otherwise be removed as new ones appear. Actually, I didn't know there was a cap on the number of stored Miis. I don't know if this is part of the free update or part of the paid offering, but you can also customize your speech bubbles that appear when greeting at the Plaza Gate.

International StreetPass week Each Mii PLaza game is designed around meeting other gamers. Various cart-based games employ the StreetPass tech, but don't always integrate it well. Both Tomodachi Life and Animal Crossing New Leaf use StreetPass in creative ways that benefit the game. Other titles simply send notifications that someone with the same game passed by - not a real asset to the game itself.

In addition to the two new games, Nintendo is having an International StreetPass Week from April 16 - 26 across North America and Europe. I finally picked up Alaska! Go get some new regions added to your map!
April 17, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Gael Monfils' insanely awesome shot trended on Twitter- Go play him in Top Spin 3 & 4!

Tennis pro Gael Monfils I've often wondered what the criteria is for being added to one of the many tennis video games. Some games seem to have exclusive pros while others appear in multiple titles. I was really excited when Gael Monfils appeared in Top Spin 3 and again in Virtua Tennis 3 & 4!

He's such a unique player in that he always creates a great rapport with the tournament crowds. From his sense of humor to the amazing shots he makes, he's a crowd fave. It doesn't hurt that he's also a hardcore player!

A few days ago he was trending on Twitter as a lot of folks were talking about yet another insane shot he made. I'm glad his game and hardcore insanity has earned him a place in tennis video games. He deserves it. If only his vibe could be coded into the game! :)

Tennis pro Gael Monfils I recently picked up Mario's Tennis Open for 3DS to see how tennis games were progressing in the wake of Top Spin and Virtua Tennis falling off in mid-2011. It's a well constructed game and a lot of fun. Still, I miss the "reality" of the other franchises that enlist actual pro players. I wish those games would make a comeback or a new developer would explore a better way to deliver a tennis game.

If you haven't played one of Nintendo's family friendly tennis games or the fairly realistic action in Top Spin or Virtua Tennis, you may want to start at the beginning. You can thank Nolan Bushnell's Atari for Pong which is likely the first "tennis" game to appear in a publicly accessible coin-op or invade televisions via home game consoles. It's success led the gaming industry down a path that has resulted in all sorts of amazing digital wizardry - including being able to play tennis on-screen as Gael Monfils!
April 16, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Teen Titans Go has an 8-bit episode on Cartoon Network with a great Spy Hunter segment

I have to say that the Cartoon Network has really grown on me. There's a core set of shows keep getting better. From Staples like Adventure Time and Regular Show to newer shows like AMazing World of Gumball, Uncle Grandpa and Clarence, the plots stay inventive and these shows appeal to my sense of "bizarre".

Teen Titans in 8-bit games Nearly any successful show on Cartoon Network has a series of online and mobile games for each show. The CN site is literally littered with online games. It doesn't seem that long ago that such sites offered wallpaper and screen savers. Now it's all about gaming. The large number of such games suggests it's both profitable and gets the word out about the shows. I wonder if that translates into better TV ad rates.

My son and I began watching the Teen Titans TV series that ran between 2003 and 2006. The latter re-booted comedy version that began in 2013 has won us over and tonight they had a great episode, Video Game References. In a Nintendo-like 8-bit tribute each titan entered an 8-bit world of cool pixel art! They even showed Robin blowing on a cart to make it work - lol.

They went with the traditional Mario and Zelda themes, but also featured Beast Boy in Frogger and Cyborg was inside Spy Hunter. Spy Hunter! How cool is that!?! I have to give credit to whoever enabled Cyborg to seek pies inside this Playtronic creation.

Teen Titans' cyborg in Spy Hunter The Teen Titans themselves appeared in a video game for the Game Boy Advance and another title appearing on the PS2, GameCube, and Xbox. Some of the most popular CN shows have also earned console game releases while others have received the less-risky online/mobile treatment. Alas, none of the Teen Titan games were met with any critical acclaim. Having played the GameCube version, I can see why.

Regardless, I was pretty stoked to see the Titans in 8-bit pixel art, especially the Spy Hunter segment.
April 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Tax Avoiders on Tax Day....

Tax Avoiders
April 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cool 90's Moms wanted an Oldsmobile Expression with built-in NES- IF it's real

When I first saw this story today, I was enthralled. Then I began to think about how a GM automobile - a concept car shown at a major auto show - with a built-in NES could go unnoticed by gamers... since 1990. Today the web exploded with images - the identical images - of the Olds Expression and claims of a built-in NES, VCR, and a 4-wheel steering system.

I searched for non-gaming references to this vehicle with an NES and found very little info - nothing conclusive! There are a few car-oriented websites mentioning the Expression and one that mentions a built in VCR and Nintendo. The bottom line for me is sources. Many gaming sites are relaying (copying and pasting) this story without references, yet I can't find any reality to it from those in automotive circles.

I'm very skeptical about the reality to this potentially tall tale. I hope I'm wrong, but the lack of third-party photos and info, of something this cool, makes it's reality unlikely.



If the Nintendo-infused Expression isn't a PhotoShopped fake... read on

Somewhere between station wagons bearing wood-pannel stickers and the hemi-equipped Dodge Magnum was Oldsmobile's concept car called the Expression. It may not have been a station wagon, as they were calling it a sports sedan... OK, it was a station wagon. Displaying at the 1990 Chicago Auto Show, the Expression is my kind of car!

I come from a long legacy of station wagon owners. My family always had one. I finally parted with our 7-passenger '88 Chevy Caprice wagon last year. Our family owned station wagons from the 60's through the SUV and Crossover craze. Station Wagons are amazingly versatile and I deeply regret not owning one anymore.

I think the Expression had a pretty slick look, but it's built-in Nintendo NES game system is what really sets it apart!

Oldsmobile Expression The Oldsmobile Expression was fairly high-tech and even featured a built-in Nintendo NES. The Expression's 7-passenger capacity with 3 rows of seating is very familiar to me. Most of my family's station wagons were equipped like that. I was driven to and from school each day seated in that back row that faced the rear of the car. I'd have loved a built in video game system to pass the time.

Oldsmobile Expression Oldsmobile Expression Oldsmobile Expression I'm starting to think that there may be some truth to this story. Autos of Interest states that those sitting in the rear facing seats could access various entertainment options:
Piaskowski made a notation about the tailgate, in his sketch above. More accurately, it was about things that he envisioned to be built into the tailgate for use by third-row passengers. Things such as storage bins, a video entertainment center and power outlets.

An NES would be a fine addition to a pretty cool looking station wagon... I mean, Sport Sedan :)
April 15, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Unity support for the New 3DS opens the platform to a slew of indie developers already in place for Wii U

News from Unity's Unite conference in Tokyo brought new potential for Nintendo's New 3DS and XL models. Unity support for the New 3DS will allow many more independent developers to design games for it. This certainly sounds like great news as it should add new diversity to the dev pool for the 3DS platform.

Unity support for the New 3DS The New 3DS is one of the last game consoles to forge a partnership to make use of the Unity engine. The Wii U already had an agreement in place, so it's odd for the 3DS platform to be so late to the game, so to speak. Perhaps the added horsepower of the new model Made Unity feasible.

I'm not a developer, programer, or game designer. I wish I had the background for such tech wizardry, but my station in life is in other pursuits. Despite this limitation, I still enjoy poking around where I don't belong.

Along these lines lets go back in time to the Fall of 2012 when Nintendo's new console (the Wii U) was poised to launch and gain a foothold with gamers an entire year before the PS4 & Xbone releases.

My excitement for this platform revolved around developer news. Nintendo's Wii was always the odd-man-out. Developing for it was a much different process than either the PS3 or Xbox. Thus, many games destined for Sony and Microsoft consoles often did not come to the Wii - it wasn't possible to easily develop a Wii version of a game. A separate development effort was necessary.

But the Wii U claimed to be different. It was designed to play-nice with the other consoles. Games made for Sony and Microsoft were supposed to be just as easy to release for the Wii U - no longer would Nintendo be excluded from the dominant franchise games. So, what happened?

The Wii U launched with few titles and remained with few titles for a very long time. Slowly, amazing games were released for the Wii U, but damage had already been done to it's reputation.

With folks guessing about Nintendo's "NX" news, things look gloomy for the Wii U... with Unity Support. So, why weren't tons of amazing games developed for the Wii U? Remembering that I'm not a programmer, I can only assume that the Wii U was not actually developed to co-exist with the other major consoles. What of the New 3DS and it's coming Unity excitement?

I hope this will greatly extend the 3DS platform's life - I think it's amazingly innovative! My purpose in writing this article is to provoke some thought about why the 3DS is still striving to new goals, while the Wii U languishes in it's shadow. I certainly don't think Unity had any negative effect on the Wii U and it will undoubtedly benefit the New 3DS, but the Wii U should be in the limelight too - but it's not.

I'm excited for the success of the 3DS and it's Unity news, but I still wonder what became of the compatibility promises of the Wii U and all the titles that would easily be ported to all three - Sony, Microsoft, AND Wii U.
April 14, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From selfies to belfies, if you've got game, it's all about gaming shelfies

When it comes to selfies, I love the concocted notion that it was devised by the NSA to obtain current photos of citizens. Other than that, the whole concept seems sort of pointless. But, when someone pointed an iPhone at their butt and declared, "belfie" I figured it had to be better than all those bathroom mirror photos.

Next up - I got a chuckle out of this Spaghettio's "SHELFie" pic, before realizing where this might wind up. I'm hoping more gamers will jump on the Shelfie idea and post pics of their games on display. I've grown tired of Paris Hilton selfies - we need more gaming shelfies!

Amiga Shelfie

game shelfie

game shelfie

game shelfie

game shelfie

If you don't have a shelf full of games to photograph... you can always assemble this sweet little Busch shelfie unit and load it up with Atari or Intellivision games! I'll bet it works with Colecovision too - lol. Model G 800, Baby! :)
April 13, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Is Mariah Carey forging a better way to promote new video games & gaming press releases?

I can't say I'm a fan of Mariah Carey's music, although I think I own one of her Christmas albums. When I saw #RevealMariah trending on Twitter, I admit to being curious. Was it Mariah Carey? If so... what's she revealing? It turns out she's revealing her latest album cover.

Mariah Carey's album cover reveal at 25% Mariah Carey's album cover reveal at 50% Mariah Carey's album cover reveal at 75% That awkward point where we wonder if anyone cares anymore: 90% Via social media sharing, her album cover was revealed in an interesting way. If you went to Mariah Carey's website, you'd see a black and white photo of her along with a progress bar vertically traversing the image. As her website is shared on Facebook and Twitter, more of the cover is revealed based on the number of shares.

I like the strategy being used here to tease the new album cover in unison with the amount of social media sharing. Share more - see more! I see a lot of appeal to this. So, often news is "leaked" or info is strewn across many outlets - some reliable and others not as much. This strategy kind of focuses the attention on the one site doing the reveal.

Couldn't this technique be used in the video game industry? Sure there are plenty of news outlets and info sources, but this approach (if done correctly) would focus gamers and fans on a central site - presumably the developer's website. This seems preferable to the numerous rumor sites and those rehashing and regurgitating the same info.
Gaming has plenty of viral assets for a reveal campaign

There was an awkward spell with Mariah's album reveal when it reached 90% and seemed to hang there for a while since the website's incentive was effectively complete. Obviously this technique relies on a visual with mass appeal that people will want to see and be excited enough to share it on social media.

Shantae This tact may not have worked on traditional box art from the 80's, but gaming these days has no shortage of sexually charged imagery. Tekken 7's Lucky Chloe would have fit the bill - even though there was a lot of chatter about her being too plain for the franchise. And how about a character's updated look, as with Shantae few years ago. These are just a few potential candidates for a reveal campaign.

Video gaming is probably at the same pace as the music industry in terms of pushing the "sex sells" mantra. So finding viral content to "reveal" via a social sharing campaign should be easy. What I liked most about Mariah's campaign is the single point of focus and the idea that YOU matter and are a part of an outcome - almost like a Groupon. The sharing is good for the brand and it brings people together in a unique manner.

The gaming industry needs to get away from midnight launches & staged leaks - and begin promoting content in new creative ways. There's no reason gaming shouldn't be on the forefront of advertising technology and pioneer new forms of engagement. They have plenty of exciting content that should reach gamers through innovative strategic campaigns, not the same paragraph copied onto every pseudo news outlet the internet can serve up.

Game companies: Please be bold. Delve into new territory. Use new technology to embrace gamers. Engage us with great games that exude your creativity. We're tired of going to GameStop at midnight for glitch-ridden games.

Mariah Carey's Reveal Campaign

Mariah Carey's album cover Mariah Carey's album cover started at 0% revealed.
Mariah Carey's album cover Mariah Carey's album cover finished at 100% revealed.

April 12, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Regardless of your Harry Potter fanaticism, it's important to know there are 2 ways to play Quidditch

I loved the Harry Potter books as much as the next person. Well, perhaps my enjoyment wasn't quite as strong as other fans. I say this not because I didn't enjoy the books, but because I've become aware of how maniacal some folks are about their dear Harry.

The fantasy of reading about Quidditch tournaments in J.K. Rowling's books or playing the video game on a GameCube or PS2 is starkly different from running around a playing field with a broom between your legs.

Quidditch Is this the difference between reading the books and seeing the movies?

Quidditch for Gamecube How I play Quidditch.
Quidditch World Cup How others play Quidditch.

From the Quidditch World Cup website:
On April 11 and 12, 2015, the top 80 teams in US Quidditch will converge on Rock Hill, SC for two days of intense competition to crown the league champion. Come join the crowd, cheer, and be part of the most unique event in sports. After all, there are lots of championships, but there's only one WORLD CUP!

April 11, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Twin Blast: Galaxy Shooter brings a fun space-shooter to your Android with a fast-paced EDM track

There's no shortage of mobile games. If anything there are way to many of them. How do you choose? How do you find the gems among the flops? It's not easy and I don't have a good solution either. Fortunately, Toolhead Games asked me to check out Twin Blast: Galaxy Shooter!

Twin Blast: Galaxy Shooter for Android Twin Blast: Galaxy Shooter for Android I'm an arcade fanatic from the golden age when there was a lot of innovation and competition. What I love most about Twin Blast: Galaxy Shooter is the controls. Tapping on the screen fires your dual weapons from both sides of your ship while tilting your phone/tablet rotates your aim. This lets you target the asteroids honing in on your centered position. I like that they didn't take the traditional finger-swipe approach - it adds a cool dynamic to the game.

You would think that the dual weapons would make this game too easy. Not true! I'm sure somebody studied the right discipline to properly explain this, but the twin blasting often focuses your attention away from incoming danger. Often it lines up nicely where aiming your right blaster at an asteroid takes out another on the left, but suddenly that alignment doesn't match up and you feel a frenzied panic as you decide which blaster to aim.
pumping music, good controls and arcade shooter fun!

It's worth noting that this isn't a one-trick shooter. Your blast meter measures the power of your blasting and may grant rapid fire bursts or targeted charged blasts among other power-ups. It also has leader boards to chart your scores against other players.

It features a cool background track that serves up a tempo of speed and urgency. Download a copy and get shooting! You can find Twin Blast in the Google Play store.
April 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Not many arcades allow food or drinks, but only Level 257 offers a 5-course wine dinner

When I was hitting arcades in the 80's many owners considered food & drink the epitome of all evil. Kids had the habit of putting drinks on the control deck or on top of the cabinet, while playing a game. This led to a lot of spills - especially since most upright cabinets had sloped tops that instantly send extra-large sodas flowing down the back of the machine.

ARCADE:
Absolutely no food or drinks allowed!
As you can imagine, that caused a lot of problems. In my town, the dedicated arcades had a NO FOOD OR DRINK policy. The exceptions were the bowling alley and Nathans Famous restaurants. Both served food, but kept it separate from the video games and pinball.

During Summer vacation, I found a pizza joint with a cocktail-style Tempest! My buddy and I ate there almost every day with a Coke and slice of pizza resting on the corner of the glass top.

Namco's Level 257 Restaurant

We heard about an upcoming Namco experiment about 2 years ago. They were looking to create a gaming themed restaurant that melded fine dining with video games. Now open outside Chicago, Level 257 is delivering a high-end dining experience coupled with gaming. This isn't like dining at the bowling alley next to a few arcade games. They offer an array of gaming options from Pac-Man to board games... all with hors d'oeuvres!

Inspired by Namco's classic 1980s video game PAC-MAN, and named for the game's legendary final level 256 kill-screen that few have ever experienced, Level 257, the next level in dining and entertainment, is a multifaceted urban-chic space where food takes center stage and play is encouraged.

Level 257 offers a 5-course wine dinner Don't feel left out if your local arcade isn't offering a 5-course wine dinner. This seems like an amazing way to "raise the bar" on what an arcade experience can be! Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Busters began business just a few years apart. Either could be credited with starting the idea of a restaurant being a gaming destination.

Where I'm seeing the most innovation is with the barcade explosion. These guys are melding retro games with a full service bar. While Chuck and Dave seem to offer modern video games and redemption, barcades are becoming the hardcore option for those seeking nightlife and Galaga! There seems to be a resurgence of interest from both gamers and entrepreneurs.

Ask your local bar to check out the potential profits from a Game Night!
I'm excited to see what Level 257 does. With a restarant, a barrage of varied video games, and an in-house retail store full of Pac-Man collectables, this is more than an arcade. I see them offering a new type of gaming experience with similarities to other ventures, but also enticing higher-end patrons into the mix. All of these arcade-inspired business start ups may well bring video game arcades back into vogue in a more mainstream manner.

I get very excited at the possibility of an arcade renaissance. I keep reading about new arcades, barcades and gaming events companies sprouting up to the delight of locals. Who wouldn't love a local game-oriented destination? It feels like we're on the cusp of a new social gaming experience. What if your favorite bar began having a weekly Mario Kart tournament or Street fighter? Suggest it to your favorite local bar and check out how Games Done Legit has infused gaming into a wide variety of Cleveland destinations!

Level 257 Level Up Card From the Level 257 website:
Level 257 is the brainchild of a few minds at Namco Entertainment Inc. Known around the world for providing arcade design and delivery, they wanted to find the next great entertainment concept, the next level of play.

We wanted to turn the conventions of a restaurant and entertainment venue on their head and create something that is equally exciting in both areas. Taking socialization as the key theme for it all, we aim to provide you with the most unique dining and entertainment experience that encourages play and friendly competition with an exceptional food service, in a chic and comfortable environment.
April 10, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'm this close to running for President... Just 1 more castle #HillarysBigAnnouncement

The #HillarysBigAnnouncement hashtag appeared on Twitter and the Hillary Clinton memes began to flow. Naturally, we had to concoct our own :)

Hilary POTUS
April 9, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Check out the Saturday Morning RPG soundtrack for the episodic RPG inspired by 80s Saturday morning cartoons

If you were as addicted to Saturday morning cartoons as I was you may like this video game soundtrack inspired by that Saturday vibe. Last year Scarlet Moon Records released the Saturday Morning RPG original soundtrack featuring the work of musician Vince DiCola - known for his work on Transformers: The Movie and Rocky IV - and his writing partner, Kenny Meriedeth. This is DiCola's first videogame score.

Saturday Morning RPG soundtrack Saturday Morning RPG is an episodic role-playing game set in world heavily inspired by 1980s Saturday morning cartoons - released in 2012 by Mighty Rabbit Studios. Players take the role of Martin "Marty" Michael Hall, an average high-school student who has just been granted an incredible power.

Saturday Morning RPG's story is structured in an episodic fashion, much like the Saturday-morning cartoons it draws inspiration from. Episodes can be played and replayed in any order.

It's been released for iOS, Linux, PC, Mac, and Ouya. The game was met with positive reviews for the most part. Those who weren't as enthused with it complained of it's difficulty - which isn't the worst sort of criticism compared to the myriad of simplistic games released by the dozen! Most who complained were satisfied with updates to the game - available on Steam.

Saturday Morning RPG game I tend to become much too focused when playing games to really appreciate a game's soundtrack. So, it's a lot of fun to be able to play the soundtrack without the distraction of having to save the world! We suggest you check out the Saturday Morning RPG soundtrack on Bandcamp or iTunes. It's a cool mix of Saturday Morning memories with gaming inspiration!

Founded in 2013, Scarlet Moon Records aims to make available amazing game music that otherwise wouldn't be heard. The label works with a wide network of composers and musicians around the globe to identify and publish original soundtracks for games that developers or publishers have no intention of releasing, as well as producing arrangement albums featuring the same global talent.
April 8, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vintage items like the Stick Station show how wide open gaming was in the 80s

Long before Funcoland and others melded into gaming conglomerate, GameStop, there weren't any "game" stores. Neither consumers or retailers knew what to make of video games. Stores that sold TVs and stereos seemed a good fit, but toy stores seemed a likely destination too. In the early 80s, video games had not yet categorized themselves. Anyone with the means to sell Atari's 2600 wanted to!

Stick Station for Atari 2600 joysticks I bought my first 2600 at an appliance store. Amongst washers, dryers, and refrigerators was that amazing device that would let me play Space Invaders in my living room! The market was wide open and all sorts of products came into the fray.

As odd as the Stick Station (made by Skywriter in Louisville, KY) may seem, it wasn't alone in being a fairly odd product. The Atari was making a fortune and the VCS was insanely popular. Everyone wanted to be associated with it, thus a lot of "unique" products came to market.

I found the Atari 2600 joystick very comfortable, but I love the idea of the Stick Station. As much as the 2600 joystick was similar to arcade controls, it obviously lacked the stability of an arcade setup. I'd have loved something that would have given more rigidity to the stick for extended play.

Stick Station for Atari 2600 joysticks Folks laugh at the enormous 2-player custom joysticks we made, but the purpose to the size was to offer a stable play surface that would allow manic play without the sticks moving around. Rubber feet helped too :)

Despite the size, I'll bet the Stick Station would be a great benefit in a long gaming session - and you can't beat $14.95!. I know the custom (enormous) sticks we built made game play a delight. I recall frequently adjusting my grip and position with the 2600 sticks over time, but having a more immobile setup really makes a big difference.

I'd love to see a Station Stick. It must be routed from the top to nestle the controller, but I'm curious about the routing for the cable and how the bottom is constructed so the Atari stick doesn't slip through.

This Station Stick ad says it works with Atari and Wico. I have Wico sticks for both the 2600 and 5200, but I'm not familiar with all their sticks. The Wico I have for the 2600 has a larger footprint than the stock Atari stick and wouldn't fit in the routed area of the Station Stick. Perhaps they have a smaller model.

Although a simple device, I think it's pretty clever and would love to own one. I've seen this item on several lists of "useless game accessories" and being blatantly dismissed. I can't help wonder how anyone whose played in arcades wouldn't at least be curious about the Station Stick's effect on game play. Nothin beats the solid feel of an arcade stick and this slab seems to be a very easy way to add a more robust feel to Atari's home joystick!
April 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bad Company released 2 remastered classic albums from the mid 1970s

Bad Company had so many hits over the years that I'd forgotten how awesome their first 2 albums were. These remastered versions bring great sound quality to songs that elicit amazing memories from long ago. Great stuff!

Bad Company
April 7, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As I matured, gaming moved from the floor to the couch, but the games remain the same

Was it short cords or the fact that there were cords? The cables on my Atari 2600 joysticks didn't allow much distance between me and my new console. Even our Betamax's "remote control" had a long cable attached to it's front panel. Wireless - what's that?

Video games were meant to be played on the floor, right in front of the TV!
Despite such physical limitations, everyone I knew sat on the floor while playing video games. Be it Atari, Colecovision, or Intellivision, we sat in arms-reach of the console with the TV looming above us. We didn't worry about eye-strain warnings from passing parents. We were fixated on those moving pixels that created a brilliant world to explore. We sat on the floor because we loved games and wanted to be close to the action on the screen.

Our first color TV was a Zenith console style model on legs No boring afternoon soaps. The evening news was miles away and we had the opportunity to do more than just sit idly at the TV. Like our favorite TV shows, video games provided story lines... but WE controlled them. The TV was no longer a static experience. It was a dynamic interactive adventure!

We may have been an animated character or a single pixel moving about the screen. The key was that WE were moving that pixel. We jumped, ducked, dodged, ran, and always fired back! We were saving the world, after all!

How could you not sit on the floor? You had to be at the forefront of such interaction. As an Atari kid, I wanted to be close to the action, but also wanted the Game Select Switch close at hand for games like StarMaster.

You had to interact with the consoles switches to play. Activision's Space Shuttle game had a Flight Deck Console overlay that re-labeled all of the 2600's switches for use in the game. Playing video games as a kid always involved sitting on the floor.

Moving to the Couch

I game from the couch, but I'm a kid at heart!
I was probably in my early thirties when I began to consider the possibility of maturing and begin sitting on the couch to play games. By this time I was a Nintendo convert and loved my NES and the endless stream of games that seemed to appear for it. I was quick to jump on the SNES and still have vivid memories of sitting on the floor with both my NES and SNES.

As the Jaguar came to market, I was acting like an actual adult and was gaming from the couch. Although the first few games on any new console always take place on the floor, after setting it up. I had made the move to that cushy place that adults tend to sit. when I was playing Asteroids on my Atari 2600, my parents sat on the couch reading the paper and other worldly pursuits of those who don't game.

gaming on the couch with friends Just as the gaming industry shifted to shiny discs, I discovered a new passion in gaming. I loved arcade ports on the 2600 and they only got better on the NES & SNES. When the PlayStation came on the scene, it's storage capacity enabled what became the compilation disc games.

From Activision Classics and the Atari Collections to volumes of Namco Museum, I was in arcade heaven! THESE were the games I loved! I was astounded to find so many arcade games on a single disc. I enjoyed a lot of the modern games for the PlayStation, but it was the arcade and classic console games that won me over. As I bought new consoles, I was eager to see which classics would be released.

My friends felt the same way - we were astounded by the advancements in game development, but nothing beat a game of Galaga or Dig Dug. Even today my son loves games on his Wii and PS3, but we always pop in Metal Slug Anthology or Midway's Arcade Classics. You just can't escape the awesomeness of retro gaming.

Whether I'm sitting on the floor or the couch, the games remain the same. I sat on the floor playing Yar's Revenge, Bionic Comando, Starfox, and Tempest 2000. I still love those games and play them while sitting on the couch.
April 6, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Not all pictures are worth a 1,000 words, but some warrant more exploration than others

Throughout this article you can safely assume you'll find a few NSFW images.

Pocket Full Of Monsters arcade cabinet at 2008 Iam8bit I've seen this image online countless times. Often random "arcade" searches return it and it pops up on Pinterest with great regularity. I'll admit to finding it an appealing image, but I often wonder how such a scenario occurred. I doubt she was wandering about seeking an arcade and a pair of pants. So what's the deal?

Aside from the scantily clad woman, the cabinet's shape was of the old school design that you really don't see in entertainment venues these days. The marquee seemed simple, lacking the purposefully bright colors geared to attract players to it's coin slot.

Speaking of which, the coin slots are illuminated, some iteration of Mario Bros is on the screen, and it seems to have custom side-art. So, there are a few things that don't add up to a standard arcade game.

Don't misunderstand me - I'm always down to drop a few quarters and play SMB on a mystery arcade cab with a scantily-clad Player 2. But, I really wanted to find out more about this cabinet... and it's player!

Nerd Core logo The marquee read "Pocket Full Of Monsters", so that seemed like a good starting point. Unfortunately that website that is no longer operational, but they were responsible for the cabinet's artwork.

Next I tried looking up Nerd Core - the emblem on her shorts. That website is also defunct, however, among other projects they had been making an anual calendar with various pin-up models and themes. Many of those assets (NSFW) are still floating around the web.

From here, I found iam8Bit who have hosted some epic parties including this one (8.14.08 on Hollywood boulevard) with the Pocket Full of Monsters arcade cabinet.

Obviously, I need to amp up our game nights
As a digital think-tank, iam8Bit created the intro sequence for the Midway Arcade Origins video game as well as the trophy for Machinima's annual Inside Gaming Awards and the custom vinyl picture disc for Tron Evolution. They certainly seem to know games and interesting ways to promote them.

The photo above seems to have come from a 2008 party at which they featured girls from Nerd Core. Primarily featuring a variety of 8-bit inspired art, these parties highlight retro art in a playful scenario for guests.

Set up like manequins in a retail store window, several girls were placed in street-facing windows as they played retro games among other things. The arcade cabinet above was also placed in a window for passersby to see. This mystery arcade cabinet was a MAME and emulation project that melded tons of games with artwork by Pocket Full of Monsters.

Nerd Core toilet diorama Karlie Montana and a Power Glove Nerd Core girls on display playing classic video games an an Iam8Bit party Foundation 9 holiday card The entrance to Iam8Bit's gathering featured this live diorama which I believe was staged in a street-facing window. I can't say I've solved any great mysteries, but I discovered a few cool companies and unraveled some info about that Nerd Core gal and the custom arcade cabinet. All in a day's work... :)
April 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Shavo Odadjian directs Mortal Kombat X trailer featuring System Of A Down's song, Chop Suey

System of a Down and Mortal Kombat X I remember my nephew telling me about a new band he was into. I was in awe at their sound. System Of A Down released their first studio album in 1998 and I was hooked instantly. Very few bands have a sound and style that ropes me in so quickly. Their first album made for a memorable Summer for me and I soon wanted more. They have such a stern, driving sound with all the elements tightly wrapped in sonic power.

They released 5 albums by 2005 and had a few Grammy nominations. Then they dispersed only to be heard during an extended concert tour. For me, this left quite a void in a style of music I had come to love. Their sound was extremely unique to me and I've never found anything else like SOAD.

Recently, System Of A Down has been linked to the upcoming Mortal Kombat X release. When one sees these casual mentions across multiple social networks, it rather solidifies the notion that SOAD is creating the soundtrack for the game... right? Not exactly.

SOAD bassist Shavo Odadjian has been working on music for the game and a trailer unmistakably has SOAD's Chop Suey playing in the background. Numerous sites almost make this assertion then trail off saying that System of a Down may be working on a new album. So which is is?!? Are they creating a soundtrack for Mortal Kombat X and/or writing a new album?

No SOAD album in the works, but enjoy this Mortal Kombat X trailer
It seems that Odadjian directed the trailer that was released and incorporates the band's classic song. That's cool, but how does the Internet let rumors blossom into soundtracks and album releases? Many of the articles I read used this morsel to engage readers that a new album may be in the works... without much evidence.

As a System of a Down fan, I'd love a new album, but I'd settle for honest reporting from sources that should know better than to troll for clicks & Likes. Billboard was one of the few music sites that correctly stated Odadjian's directorial contribution to Mortal Kombat X without trying to leverage it into a new SAOD album. One can hope, but reality will bite those sites that
April 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy Retro Easter!

Paint some eggs and play some video games! This is the best day ever to look for easter eggs... in your games :)

Happy Retro Easter!
April 4, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Digital icon “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future” debuted on this day in 1985

Max Headroom If you survived (or existed during) the 80s, Max Headroom was tough to ignore. His glitchy mannerisms and stuttered speech captivated us with his message. Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future was the production that brought him to life 30 years ago!

We were told that Max Headroom was a feat of computer animation and that "he" was a digital character. Such technologies were in their infancy and audiences were thrilled by the "innovation".

In truth, Max was actually a prosthetic and makeup routine performed on actor, Matt Frewer. Frewer was a bit frustrated by Max's fame because he was sworn to secrecy about being the actor behind Max Headroom. Consequently, the show won awards for it's graphics (of which thee were few) and was restricted from the "makeup" categories because they didn't want anyone to know it wasn't computer generated.

From the original production debuting April 4, 1985, Max Headroom went on to become a TV show in both the UK and America. It ran for two seasons with a total of 14 episodes. It focused on the power of large corporations by poking fun at their relentless (and ridiculous) attempts at domination.

There is an interesting article on The Verge with some great behind-the-scenes pictures and info from the creators.
April 3, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari declared National Pac-Man Day in 1982 to herald it's release for home consoles

Atari declared National Pac-Man Day in 1982 In an era where arcade games held a sense of futuristic entertainment, space-oriented games were very popular. Who would think that a yellow dot-eater, with cute (and cuddly) appeal, would take arcades by storm?

Originating in a Tokyo movie theater in 1980 as Puckman, he was popular overnight. The name was changed to Pac-Man to avoid a few obvious problems and off he went as Bally/Midway held the license to manufacture Pc-Man in America. They sold 100,000 arcade cabinets which set a record only to be broken by the sequel, Ms. Pac-man.

With such success, this game was destined to become a success in the home console and computer market. Atari was obviously eager to put Pac-Man on their current game system, the 2600. As the release date neared, they came up with a campaign to get the word out about Pac-Man coming to home game consoles. National Pac-Man Day was born on April 3, 1982.

With ads in the New York Times and other prominent media, the word did get out. This was before the days of Twitter and Myspace being prominent outlets for reaching a gaming demographic. Yep, there was no Facebook either. So, they did their best to create a word-f-mouth campaign - the equivalent of a "viral post" in today's digital world.

For Atari's effort, they wouldn't get the game right until it's release on their next console, the 5200. The 2600 VCS version was fairly awful. Full of flicker and mazes that did not mimic those in the beloved arcade game, it was largely panned. That isn't to say it didn't sell well. Arriving long before social media made it difficult to get timely information about video game releases. Thus, many copies were sold before everyone realized how inferior it was to the original.

National Pac-Man Day in 1982 The 2600 never got a proper version, although several homebrew hacks have cleared up the problem. Pac-Man went on to become heavily marketed and successfully so. Even today, Namco has opened a Pac-Man themed restaurant and Google Maps have added the ability to play Pac-Man in your hometown's streets!

Play Pac-Man in Google Maps

This probably warrants a separate post, but it shows how Pac-Man's recognition is still strong decades later. Google Maps (as of this writing) has placed a "Pac-Man button" in the lower corner of their map screens. Clicking it initiates a game of Pac-Man in that location's streets. Some areas don't have the proper layout and you'll be told you can't play in that location. Check it out and send Pac-Man down YOUR street!

Play Pac-Man in Google Maps Play Pac-Man in Google Maps
April 1, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

April Fools Day is the worst day to surf the web - They're lies... all lies

It happens every year. Some folks must plan months in advance. They conjure, calculate, and create the most link-bait enticing lies all for... well, for what?

Online April Fools pranks have reached a level of irritation that sucks the fun away.
I guess they fabricate intricate stories for April Fools day as some odd badge of honor for having fooled someone. I'm a fan of the Jackass series of movies, but pranks should be left to professionals with a keen edge for tapping into fecal funnies. Those attempting to lure gamers into advanced release dates, reboots of beloved classics, and random bullshit, should find a more productive outlet for their creativity.

Every April 1st, I remind myself to ignore anything remotely enticing on the web. I'll check into it on April 2nd for validity. Of course something always fools me. It's not the magician-like deception, but my desire to believe. Now I better understand Fox Mulder's world.

I managed to avoid all the video game posts that were crafted to disappoint. However, I fell for a post stating that Miley Cyrus was onboard for a 2016 Tank Girl film sequel. The first film was awful, but I adore Tank Girl comics so much that I can't help but love that dreadful flick.

Miley Cyrus Some of us love TV celebrities to the point at which we forget they are playing roles. The hated villan from a show is likely portrayed by a really nice guy. Similarly, when Miley Cyrus cut her hair and informed us that she was not actually Hannah Montana... well, TV viewers couldn't handle (or believe) that.

Despite the world's love affair with all-things-Disney, Miley was probably always this girl (NSFW) we saw on Disney Channel as a pop star.
Tank Girl comic book Tank Girl is an amazing comic book created by Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett in the 90's. The Tank Girl legacy has been kept alive by writer Alan Martin who has taken Tanky to new heights in graphic novels and actual novels. Give Tank Girl a look!

When I first saw Miley's "new look", my first reaction was that she looked like Tank Girl! So, seeing this posted online was awesome... until I realized it was BS. Till next year... liars. :)



Printed: