The Nintendo Knitting Machine was never a commercial item, but it was shown at trade shows and the software was released in Japan.
This product was geared toward girls prior to corporate managers being aware that girls liked video games (duh). I suppose the suits sat around a boardroom table discussing the likelihood of some guy's little sister using his NES to make a sweater. I can't see this as a promising entry into any market or demographic, but it got to the "presentation/demo" stage.
It looks as though an NES controller would be placed into a cradle to allow interaction with the Knitting Machine. This makes me wonder if Player-2 could jump in and try to sabotage the design with some crafty up-up-A-A-B action.
Or perhaps the crafty "little sister" could customize her design with some dual-controller madness. Obviously, I don't know a thing about sewing or knitting, but I'm fascinated to know more about how the knitting program ("game" cart) interacted with the Knitting Machine.
Singer's Izek Sewing Machine controlled by a Nintendo GameBoy.
Singer actually launched this baby onto the market, but it didn't hold the "video game aesthetic" quite the way the Nintendo Knitting Machine did. As sewing machines modernized, many incorporated computer-like interfaces for stich patterns and such. It seems as though Singer harnessed the power of GameBoy to use it to bolster the Izek's abilities.
The interesting part is that the GameBoy Color obviously requires a game cart to interface with the sewing machine. I love these sort of odd relationships where that cart on the shelf next to Donkey Kong Country controls the stitching on your sewing machine. Technology is a wild beast... even if it only knits a sweater.
December 12, 2012
There should be something profound to offer on 12/12/12
...Oh well. There's always next century.
Words of wisdom from Kevin Smith about the benefits of encouraging artists.
Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist and you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.
The hottest band in the world - KISS
As a long time fan of the La Femme Nikita movie and remake with Bridget Fonda, I was stoked to see the Peta Wilson series appear on TV. Then to my surprise, Nikita again returned to TV with Maggie Q as Nikita. I love a good spy story with girls & guns.
The folks at 8 Bit Memory have managed to fit external USB hard drives into Nintendo NES carts. Pretty cool to store several gigs of retro ROMs on a drive housed in your favorite NES game's case!
Seeing a USB port on the side of an NES cart sparks the imagination. You can get increasingly larger hard drives for laptops, so it stands to reason one could wedge a hefty drive into almost anything.
With the average NES game weighing in around 175K, it's fun to think about terabytes of storage fitting into an NES game cart.
We're glad 8 Bit Memory chose NES carts. Very iconic and a slick add-on to have next to your computer. Of course the more one thinks about it, the more likely you are to want that big fat hard drive inside your favorite game cart. MegaMan? Bionic Commando? Street Fighter? The list goes on and on. With a large library, your specific game title may not be available, although I'm sure they'd hook you up if you sent in a donor-cart.
For those Do-it-yourself fanatics, you can get some case building instructions at Indestructibles. This way you can get your hands dirty and use your own special game cart and prove that crafting isn't only about colored paper, doilies and glue-sticks.
However, Digital Playground (adult site - NSFW) knows a thing or two about naked chicks and how to market them. Nudity is one of the more attention getting marketing tools at their disposal, but they've taken technology a step further.
Digital Playground exclusive actresses Jesse Jane & Kayden Kross in porn flick, Code Of Honor.
During the rise of internet technology, the Adult Industry has led the way in several venues including streaming video, e-commerce and digital marketing. They aren't credited with any pioneering prowess, but they did it better than anyone else right out of the gate. E-Commerce as we know it today had a lot of catching up to do to reach what the the porn folks mastered in the 90's.
Setting themselves apart from others in adult video, Digital Playground has a successful history of big-budget films and marketing savvy. They are currently placing QR (Quick Response Code) codes on their movie packaging, products and marketing collateral, giving shoppers instant access to trailers and info while they shop. This is destined to make adult video stores far more interesting as patrons juggle stacks of DVDs while watching X-rated trailers.
We're all familiar with consumers roaming the aisles aiming smart phones at UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes to see if driving across town to the competitor will yield a better price. The problem is that UPC is fairly limited and sometimes retailer-specific as opposed to garnering info from the manufacturer. UPC is designed to be scanned at point-of-sale, so it's info is relevant mainly to those who've already made a purchase decision.
QR tends to offer pre-sale info - in fact, these codes, initially designed for industrial use, now send consumers to brand websites or better still, to landing pages relevant to the specific code.
If you're debating between 2 similar products and one has a QR code that takes you to a wealth of information, which product are most people likely to buy? This kind of instant gratification could easily give savvy marketers a quick edge over the competition who's still stuffing the Sunday newspaper with sale circulars.
In the Digital Playground example, they could have standardized on one QR code across all of their products to send consumers to their main website, but the marketing power of being able to send them to a URL with information specific to the product in-hand is an amazing leap forward in connecting relevant info to a purchasing decision.
Video Games Would Benefit from QR
Having looked at the porn industry's adoption of technology... when are gaming marketers going to get in on this action? I can scan a PS3 cover with my ESRB app and gain access to the number of times the word "fuck" appears in a game or I can scan the UPC and do a price comparison.
QR codes could lead to everything from game trailers to story arcs and marketing info to support a sale. With a vibrant used game market and new games costing $60 + DLC, consumers would benefit from having relevant info at the time in which they are making a purchase. This happens online all the time - QR could bring that immediacy to brick & mortar.
We've all heard of these Jetson-esque GPS marketing strategies where a coupon for a store would appear on my phone when I walk by that store. Until that becomes a reality, why not let me aim my smartphone at a a game's QR and get the info I'd have if I were surfing the web for reviews while a purchase-screen lays dormant in another browser window?
Give consumers a good reason to pay $60 rather than waiting for that game to be relegated to the bargain bin!
Brother, renown for manufacturing typewriters and other products, has make it's last one in it's UK factory, in Wrexham - Nov 2012. One may wonder who's still buying typewriters these days, but rest assured this last relic went to the London Science Museum.
Some folks today may associate a "clickity clack" sound with Thomas the annoyingly polite Tank Engine racing down the tracks in an effort to please Sir Toppham Hat. Others of us think - typewriters.
I learned to type on an IBM Selectric and later pondered it's fast moving "ball" versus other manufacturers favoring the Daisy Wheel. However, when I was a kid, I had the privilege of using my Dad's manual typewriter that would magically ring a bell at the end of each line alerting me to slap the carriage return arm so I could continue my prose on the next line. Those were the days and I was duly impressed when I realized the Selectric automatically returned the carriage - so to speak.
Typewriters may seem as though they belong in the same category as 2400 baud modems, manual-crank car windows and 8-track tapes, but anyone who's sent an e-mail, written a blog or logged into an e-commerce site should sit back and take note that your fancy keyboard full of F keys and features still reads QWERTY the same as any vintage typewriter.
You can't hack a typewriter - in the traditional sense and they don't get viruses. But that simply opens a conversation as to how many Cold War spies garnered info from discarded typewriter ribbons.
Today, a kid's first exposure to a keyboard may likely be a virtual one pushed to the TV via a game console. Type that in your blog and smoke it ;)
This really opened my eyes to the chiptune scene - I'm still learning, but the venture has revealed an insane amount of creativity by those who know how to turn old computers and game consoles into a "band".
Modeled after Korg's MS-10 synth, this is a slick cart that musicians will dig. This isn't a game cart and may be too much for the average person interested in chiptunes. There are 3 instruments: 2 monophonic synths and a 4-part drum machine. AQ Interactive has done a nice job replicating the original MS-10 and it sounds great. There are many limitations, but if one were to force a synth into a GameBoy-ish device, this isn't half bad. I can't attest to much of this, but I'm told this is true - by those in the know.
This cart is an upgrade that adds a Dual Mode for those with DSi units. However, don't discount that old relic - GameBoy. Vintage GameBoys have a relevant role in today's chiptunes thanks to devices like SYNTHBOY+.
SYNTHBOY+ is an interface dock that converts a GameBoy into an 8 bit sound machine. You handheld will need a mod, but this seems to be a pretty slick way to incorporate vintage gaming into your compositions. You can find out more about it at Ninstrument.
AC/DC pinball machine from Stern - the folks who gave us Berzerk in 1980. In my arcade days of the early 80's there were 2 kinds of arcades: The kind that spent more time selling hot dogs and the kind that had pinball machines. So many of the arcades of my youth were all about the latest video rage and often didn't have pinball.
I always suspected that the arcades without pinball simply didn't know how to repair them. Pinball is awesome, but nothing spells demise like tons of moving parts. These days pinball machines can be harder to find than an arcade of any sort. Hopefully retro fever and current production machines like this AC/DC machine will keep pinball active in as many places as possible.
Most Jedi don't possess her laser repelling bikini.
"A" is for Atari... and so goes the Video Game alphabet. Kindergarten teachers take note.
Apple didn't know what they were starting when girls began aiming their iPhone cameras at mirrors. Ladies, check your pose so you don't end up looking like this! :)
This Atari 2600 Edition Xbox 360 Console is being given away by Atari as part of their 40th anniversary celebration in which they had a Pong (for iOS) reboot contest. Enter to win this Xbox and get the winning Pong reboot download free for your iPhone.
Minecraft Pumpkin Pie from Gourmet Gaming is just one of the recipes featured on their game-inspired cooking site.
November 28, 2012
G Fuel energy drinks want shelf space at GameStop - I want @8oclockCoffee on my shelf
Many of us start the day with a cup (or three) of coffee, yet commercialism has taught us that energy comes from energy drinks. As far as I can tell there's no such thing as "natural" food unless you're dining on something you yanked out of your own garden. From farming pesticides to ingredients that are happiest when diagramed on a chemist's white board, there are times when a glass of water sounds devine.
Barraged by ads for mega-super-ninja-energy drinks, I've often wondered what's really in them. Jolt Cola always advertised twice the caffeine - that I understood. Trying to make various chemical compounds household names seems suspicious. The FDA is looking into several energy drinks possibly related to deaths. Hmmmm... you go to a bar and order an alcoholic beverage mixed with Red Bull. Perhaps that gives you wings, but a coronary seems more likely.
So along comes Gamma Labs' G Fuel, catering to gamers, with a deep desire to be sold at GameStop. They've launched quite a social media campaign complete with a catchy slogan (Mission GameStop: More Power to the Players!) and hashtag (#GameStopNeedsGFUEL). I'm not sure I see the connection, but I wonder if the marketing folks at Fruit Of The Loom are aware of all the gamers who may need new underwear after playing ZombieU.
From the Gamma Labs site - It's the only energy drink formulated for gamers by gamers, however it is not available at the world's largest video game retailer... yet.
I'm pretty sure I can get through 20 minutes of Pitfall! with a cup of coffee or a Coke. After all, GameStop doesn't sell Atari either.
November 27, 2012
Is interest in gaming consoles really dwindling or has Gen 7 simply dragged on incessantly?
From pop-culture pieces in USA Today to the gritty innards of game industry journalism, I keep hearing that game consoles are on the decline. Some have ventured to say that game consoles are (or already have been) on the way out. I'm not ready to give in to popular opinion, but when luminaries in the industry begin saying that consoles are in their final stages, I get worried.
I spent countless hours in arcades and even more in front of the family TV with various Atari consoles, then marched forward with Nintendo. As a retro gamer, gaming has always been a console affair. I was never interested in PC games. Gaming for me was about the magic of a home console. How else could one play video games if not on a console?
Today that question has several answers from smart phones and tablets to web-based social games. The allure of 99¢ games is strong in a weak economy in which mobile technology still flourishes. I admit to enjoying Angry Birds and Stupid Zombies on my Android phone, but mobile games are quite different from console games. Their depth is far less than the average console game. This isn't to slight mobile gaming, but most of the nay sayers seem to think gaming is a single entity. It is not.
The advent of mobile gaming has broadened gaming as we knew it. Where we once had PC games and console games, the video game landscape is changing. I don't see mobile gaming overthrowing console gaming. It's a new form of gaming brought on by technology. Phones suck less than they used to and can now handle a wealth of media variations formerly relegated to computers and game consoles.
Computers are now gathering dust as consumers flock to get tablets - which seem to be more like cell phones with bigger screens and hobbled ability make a phone call. Who knows where all this will lead, but you can guarantee that technology will continue to march forward, bringing gamers more options.
So, we've seen the game industry spread from the dedicated consoles from Atari and Nintendo to multi-use devices like the PS2 and PS3 that had DVD and BluRay capabilities. Then we watched as mobile and social gaming took off. This leaves us in the 8th generation with the Wii U and expected updates from Sony and Microsoft. Let's look at the previous generation - seven.
The 7th generation began in 2005 with the PSP. Within a year we had new consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. But what happened between 2007 and 2011? Um... not much. This leaves us with a new scenario in gaming - console fatigue. The Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 have languished without upgrades or any new manufacturer coming on the scene. Up until 2012 there were new consoles coming out almost every year or two and new players coming into the market. Atari really got home console gaming going with the 2600. Then Nintendo came in with the NES, Mattel came in with Intellivision, Coleco with Colecovision and Sega. There were also a host of others from Vectrex to Turbo Grafx. That's a lot of activity compared with Gen 7 and the big three manufacturers with 5+ year old systems!
In Gen 8 we now have the Wii U - which is damn exciting - and a host of mobile gaming options that some worry are taking gaming down a path toward inexpensive mini-game experiences. But wait - Ouya! The upcoming (March 2013?) Android gaming console dares to take the ease of mobile development back to the living room TV in console format. Mobile is a new extension of traditional gaming, but gaming's roots are in the power and focus of game consoles. They may expand in their multi-use (everything to everyone marketing strategy), but I feel consoles are here to stay. Of course I felt the same way about laserdiscs.
I think gaming is simply going through some growing pains as we wait to see where mobile gaming goes and a logical balance between mobile and console settles into place. I'm sure some more chaos will ensue. Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K and that works just fine in gaming.
The Nintendo Wii Mini ($100) is just a bit bigger than a game disc and features an all-new design with a manual release, top-loading disc tray, a red and black color scheme, and a matching red controller. There's still no GameCube compatibility (like the Family Edition releases) or Internet capability. It's Canada-only for now.
As the advent of the Wii U drew near, the web was buzzing with the notion that a cheaper, scaled back Wii would be eminent. Many manufacturers release inexpensive variants of consoles to keep sales and interest during times when consumers are debating the current system or waiting for the new model. The Wii Family Edition seemed to be the answer, but it lacked GameCube support and wasn't really priced to sell.
The Wii Mini seems to be arriving a bit late in the game and only in Canada, for now. Odder still is the lack of internet connectivity. What!?!
On the other hand I loved the GameCube and never needed the modem adapter. Several people have pointed out that the Nintendo online shop (Virtual Console and WiiWare) is very underutilized, so nuking the wifi to lower the price may make this a good choice for kids and families.
I can't lie - It's cute and I'm sure I'll get one at some point :)
Fortunately the folks at Left Turn Only, LLC. have created a new original homebrew game, Christmas Carol vs. The Ghost of Christmas Presents for Intellivision. In true holiday spirit... an Evil Snowman broke into Santa's Workshop and stole some of the presents and Santa sent one of his most trusted elves, Carol Greenleaf, to confront the fiend and bring back the stolen gifts.
This is a great gift for the retro collector who has it all - something brand new, but retro-old in all the right ways. Happy holidays!
NES top-loaders with the 8-Bit Xmas cart from Retrozone complete with built-in Christmas lights!.
The intro screen for 8-Bit Xmas which you can customize at purchase!
These functioning game carts/ornaments come in NES and SNES versions with a 4-player flight game in which Santa ditches the reindeer in favor of a biplane and some holiday carnage. It's clever ideas like this that make retro gaming a lot more fun than sitting around waiting for System Updates to finish. Just when you think your retro collection is complete, something new appears and makes you glad you're a retro gamer.
For a small fee you can even get a customized message on the start-up screen! This holiday delight is made from new parts (no donor carts sacrificed) and offers an abundance of holiday flair from the game itself to the blinking light display.
Although it's likely to work in the original NES, some careful reflection should reveal why the top-loader model may be the preferred console for maximum enjoyment.
They even provide a link to download the 8-Bit Xmas ROM. We gave t a quick whirl via emulator and liked what we saw. I'm sure it will be more fun on the actual cart with the flashing lights and familiar NES controller in hand.
Available on iPhones and Android, this Thanksgiving-themed game lets you descend into an 8 bit scene in which you are a turkey trying to evade hungry pilgrims who want to turn you into a meal. The developers purposely set out to create a simple game with a vintage Atari feel and they succeeded. It's almost unnatural to be controlling an 8-bit turkey via finger swipes - shouldn't I have a joystick?
As he runs frantically, guide your turkey around various obstacles as you finger-swipe the pilgrims to slow them down. Your goal is to see how far (there's an onscreen distance meter) you can run before meeting your Thanksgiving demise.
I love that they wanted to create a game with an 8-bit tribute and pulled it off with Atari-esque flair. So many games get lost in the mix with the plethora of mobile games available. If you like retro gaming, this is worth a look and the 99¢ fee.
November 23, 2012
Family values descend into retail-lust at 1:00 in the morning #BlackFridy
The term Black Friday seems like something you'd see in the warning message on a pack of cigarettes. Alas, it's not a warning, but an invitation to stand in long lines for the privilege of fighting off the other folks shivering alongside you in the same line - as you both reach for the same toaster oven... when the store finally opens.
The Friday after Thanksgiving is when retailers try to capture nearly 1/3 of their entire year's earnings when folks decide to fight for bargains in the wee hours. The sale prices seem too good to be true, so droves of holiday shoppers get up early to get the best deals. This all sounds good when folks used to get up at 5:00AM to go shopping, but as the economy weakens, retails up the ante to entice people to shop.
This year the shopping began on Thanksgiving day - any time from 8:00PM on through the night (in my area). So, you have family getting together in thanks and after the meal, you go to WalMart to get a discounted flat-screen TV? Many studies have shown that the best deals actually occur much closer to Christmas, but retailers lure folks on Black Friday so they can get their accounting adjusted before year-end.
To me - Black Friday is the best day of the year to stay home and play video games! Sleep in - no crowds - just relaxing with an Atari joystick :)
I had a much different reaction when I heard that TBS will be debuting King of the Nerds in January.
My inner geek is drawn to this idea, but it's their contestant, Danielle, that makes me want to give this show a chance. You may know her as @TradeChat on Twitter or as Panser on her YouTube channel. She seems like a cool gal and she's a hardcore gamer (who really should have won that Maxim Gamer Girl contest) so we're pretty amped to see what KOTN has to offer in January.
From the KOTN website: King of the Nerds will take the glory of geekdom to a whole new level as the eleven competitors live together in "Nerdvana." Each week, they must face challenges that will test their intellect, ingenuity, skills and pop culture prowess. In each episode, the nerds will first compete as teams and then as individuals, facing challenges that range from live gaming to a dance-off to life-sized chess. One competitor will be eliminated each week until one nerd stands alone as the ultimate champion off all things nerdy.
I'm hoping King Of The Nerds is done well and will buck the trend with many of the "contest" oriented reality shows. I love Gold Rush, Tanked and even Billy The Exterminator as these shows take you into some pretty unique locations, scenarios and you meet some real characters. Geeks & nerds should offer good fodder for a reality show and hopefully they'll keep a tech-edge to the show. Check it out on TBS in January!
November 20, 2012
GTA 5 for Wii U? Probably not, but I want Nintendo's market perception on par with all of the consoles
One of the premises of the Wii U was to make development easier so that games ordinarily created for Sony and Microsoft could just as easily be ported to the Wii U for maximum exposure across all the major consoles. Nintendo has always been the odd-man-out when it came to multi-platform game releases. Developing for Nintendo hardware always necessitated making a separate version in parallel with those for Sony and Microsoft.
Advertising takes an iPhone cue and goes from the Bathroom to the home console :)
Many companies are willing to do this, but it's an added expense that absolutely must show a return on the investment. In these tight economic times, every development dollar has to generate sales.
Nintendo has traditionally been more of a family-oriented company. They've had their share of controversy over mature content, but in this generation of console development, Sony and Microsoft have branded themselves as the platforms for mature titles and Nintendo has filled the gap for the E, E10 and T consumers. Sure there's a lot of crossover, but Nintendo has catered to kids more than any other manufacturer.
What about the Wii U? It's supposed to be simpler to develop for and remove the past aggravation of releasing games for Nintendo hardware. We can only hope this is the case and that the Wii U will gain more brand awareness with gamers seeking mature titles.
An article in The Examiner suggested that GTA 5 is still a possibility on the Wii U and that Nintendo is trying to broaden their offerings. I hope this is the case as Nintendo really can't replicate the original Wii demographic and begin to compete with the other consoles for market share.
I was initially very turned-off by the original Wii ad campaign. Creepy businessmen showing up at a slumber party saying they want to play was just weird. Aside from the peculiarity of these ads, they clearly showed the Wii as a children's toy. I always felt those ads permanently branded Nintendo as the "toy" option to real video gaming. It gave the feeling that computer retailers sold PlayStation and toy stores sold Wii.
Grand Theft Auto 5 ad.
It isn't hard to see the Apple-induced inspiration for this particular GTA 5 ad :)
I'd love to see GTA 5 for the Wii U, but more importantly, I want to see developers of the traditionally mature titles excited to broaden sales onto Nintendo hardware and add "Wii U" to the bottom of their advertising as an option along with PS3 and Xbox. Everyone will still have console exclusives, but I want to see Nintendo's branding and marketplace perceptions on par with the other game industry manufacturers.
The Wii U locked away from harm in a chasis worthy of deflecting bullets during a Papal visit.
The full Wii U display kiosk glowing and calling out to me. I gave it a wink... I'll be back when the price drops ;)
Few launches are problem-free. With wireless configurations, downloading updates, adding new content to devour and interaction with others - frantic new buyers are eager to put it through it's paces. That can inundate things pretty quick. Until the masses descend on the servers and services, it's tough to anticipate every scenario. Hence, there's been a lot of frustration-induced hate online today.
Sure it's frustrating, but these things will be resolved and the Wii U's awesomeness will prevail. Part of being an early adopter is the risk. You hope all goes well, but if launches always went smoothly, everyone would jump in. Keep the faith - Nintendo does some crazy things, but they always seem to know best in the end.
Jason Brewer of Fryza contacted me with a wild tale of a game he was working on. It was a skateboard game with a retro - think NES - feel to it. All the modern tricks of today's skate scene combined with the blocky pixels that formed my love for gaming in the late 70s. As luck would have it, he was for real and offered to tell us more about it and the kickstarter campaign for Retro Skate.
He has a unique perspective as a hardcore skater as well as a game developer - just the right combo!
We came across a local business touting it's adhesion to ethics that are long gone. Nifty Nate's Computer Repair compares their customer service to that of the 1950s. Yeah, you really have to go that far back to find any hint of ethics in business. Nifty Nate's takes that 50's spirit and applies it to solving problems for customers rather than simply selling them something they probably don't need.
What really caught our eye was one of his ad banners that offered a free tune-up if you beat the high schore on one of his in-house arcade cabinets. Forget Dave & Busters, we're going to Nate's for some Space Invaders while he cleans all the junk off our hard drive.
The modern day crooks of Wall Street and the healthcare industry are doing there best to lower standards and expectations. No one is surprised when their stock portfolio tanks or their insurer refuses to pay a claim. Getting ripped off is the new "fix". No one gets rich by putting in an honest day's work. Riches are reserved for those who hire enough lawyers to remove the need for them to do anything beneficial in return for your hard-earned dollars.
It's refreshing to see someone is still willing to be helpful in their quest to earn a living!
As gaming technology progressed, Tony Hawk became synonymous with skateboard video games - we still think, Bones Brigade - and those sk8 games took on a photorealistic feel that lent itself to accurately depicting tricks. As cool as that evolution has been, Retro Gamers still love pixels and kicktail'd cruiser boards have begun showing up all over. Did the 1970s return?
Fryza is a US based mobile app development company that does a lot more than just phone-games. They have taken 2 of my favorite passions - skateboarding and retro gaming - and melded them into a game called Retro Skate. Taking the modern precision of skateboarding and the blocky pixels that formed my childhood, they have a kickstarter campaign for Retro Skate that outlines everything I'd jam into a game... if I had the skills.
Leaving no stone unturned, they are producing Retro Skate for iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, Linux, MAC, & OUYA! I'm super stoked about the upcoming Ouya and think Retro Skate would be an insanely awesome game to fire up when that little silver box arrives!
Here's a vid from their KS site that gives good incite and a great vibe about Retro Skate...
Searching through Amazon for a historical tome on Atari, all the ones I found warned they were simply amalgamations of Wikipedia entries - nothing new, no incites from past Atari execs or developers. Disappointed I pointed my search at Google and found a Kickstarter project for an upcoming book about Atari's history. But it was long over, already meeting & surpassing it's funding goal. I jumped over to the website for the book, Atari Inc - Business Is Fun to discover it was to be published in the next few weeks. My eyes lit up!
Written by Martin Goldberg (Video game programmer and industry writer) and Curt Vendel (Entrepreneur, and IT Systems Engineer, self-taught Electrical Engineer, historian, founder and curator of the Atari History Museum), this seems to be a very different kind of book. We've all seen much of the public history and specs behind Atari.
This book promises to go behind the scenes and elicit what made Atari the great company that led video gaming into the living rooms of millions of people. With emphasis on what made Atari a fun company to work for, they reached out to numerous former Atari employees to get a look at the inside of the company that redefined fun.
I can't confirm this, but I've seen hints that Atari Inc - Business Is Fun is the first in a series of books. As I understand it, this series is broken down by chronology with later books to explore the ongoing history and experience within the walls of Sunnyvale's infamous company. It stands to reason that Atari's history can't necessarily by summed up in a single volume, so I'm hoping this book is actually the first of several.
It was slated for a Summer 2012 release, but online postings suggest they are now only weeks away from publishing. Stay in the loop and have your credit card handy - this book promises to be a uniquely different look into Atari's history and what it's like to create "fun" for a living!
Lollipop Chainsaw has been highly sexualized from the initial buzz and advertising, right down to "additional costumes". There's an unwritten law about cheerleaders who exist outside the physical world - let's just say they're rarely homely or overweight. Juliet starling was destined to be a cosplay fave and it isn't much of a stretch to imagine her character in some sort of porn movie. We're a little surprised it didn't happen sooner.
Leave it to the Japanese to come up with this one. They seem to have a knack for oddball porn concepts or perhaps we're just too dry in the US. Our concept-porn seems to take the parody route - Star Wars XXX: A Porn Parody. And for those who take the moral high ground claiming to have no interest in a Lollipop Chainsaw porno... relax and take a peek :) If nothing else it can be a research project into gaming's offshoots.
We take this as an opportunity to see how video games effect other media forms. So far we like the effect. It's a ridiculous film, but no more so than This Ain't Star Trek XXX. And we're OK with sci-fi porn when it combines Jenna Haze, Sasha Grey and Aurora Snow!
We've never heard of Tia, but we can't really complain about anyone who makes an adult film about one of our favorite game genres ;)
It's about a rivalry to obtain, and record with Twin Galaxies, the high score on Donkey Kong. Each of the 2 combatants (Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe) come from different backgrounds, yet found no kinship as they each try to claim the Donkey Kong high score. The film reached cult status in record time. In March 2011, Richie Knucklez convinced both Billy and Steve to fly to New Jersey and play head to head in what was called THE KONG OFF. It's success led to people asking when the Kong Off 2 would take place!
Hence the creation of the Kong Off 2 which will take place at The 1-Up Arcade/Bar in Denver Colorado. You may have seen the recent trend of bars adopting classic arcade games. Kids who grew up in the arcades of the 80's are well past the legal drinking age, but still love the arcade games that played such large roles in their childhood. You're never too old to play video games and several bars have stepped up to meet this retro demand. I've never seen a classic arcade gama at a Chuck E. Cheese - even though founded by Atari's Nolan Bushnell.
The 1up is a Vintage Arcade, Bar/Restaurant located in downtown Denver and features over 40 vintage arcade games, 3 lanes of Classic Skee Ball, and 15 pinball machines. It's the perfect setting for the world's greatest arcade competition. The Kong Off 2 is at The 1UP Nov 16th, 17th, and 18th.
We jokingly created the title to this post thinking that a kid's pizza arcade is the last place you'd find liquor. The idea was to compare Chuck's popularity with the trend in BarCades where bars are adding retro arcade games to attract customers. It has come to my attention that Chuck E. Cheese does in fact have some sort of liquor license. Of the several sites with parental complaints over liquor at this kid's arcade, one site stated that 70% of the Chuck E. Cheese locations serve beer and wine. Holy shit - I had no idea.
November 6, 2012
GameStop KIds is geared toward kids but is likely an experiment in retail diversity and policy change
When you look at the layout of the average GameStop, I find that some stores have ample under-utilized space while other locations are closet-sized. Gaming is slowly heading the way of digital downloads and GameStop has broadened their offerings to compensate. It may be time for a larger renovation to keep pace with market changes and the dwindling economy. It would help to have standardized layouts & product exposure in every store by mandating square footage for each location.
We've see them expand to reselling used tablets and even contemplating retro game sales (retrieving GameCube and PS2 titles previously slated for the local landfill). This strategy supports both minimal inventory shrinkage (theft) and maintaining a focused product line. With the ferocious interest in mobile gaming, its not unlikely to think of a game store when contemplating a used tablet or iPad.
GameStop Kids launched in separate retail spaces (although close to existing GameStop stores) and aims to create a family-friendly game store catering to both gaming and toys (for lack of a better term). I feel they are testing the waters for boosting accessory sales while letting go of their theft deterrence mantra - nothing of value sits on the sales floor.
Being fairly singular in product offerings, GameStop keeps inventory shrinkage to a minimum since the "showroom" area is primarily comprised of empty game cases. Actual game discs are in a stockroom or behind the counter. Even accessory items like controllers, memory cards, plushies and strategy guides are displayed on or very close to the check-out counter.
You'll notice GameStop's don't use anti-theft chips or security guards - there's not much to steal. Keeping the valuable items behind the counter has long been a GameStop staple, but an anomaly among most mall-stores.
Placing varied, yet complimentary items, near one another is a well rehearsed retail strategy. Putting Light Sabers and Jedi plushies alongside Star Wars video games benefits the sale of all these items. Allowing customers to interact and touch products greatly increases the likelihood of converting interest to sales.
My belief is that GameStop is using their Kids locations as test-beds for various shrink-defying tactics while staying focused on fun & gaming. Should these Kids locations be deemed successful, it wouldn't surprise me to see GameStop locations moving into larger retail spaces and integrating the "Kids" model with their current game store scenario. Look at how Toys R Us has benefited from Babies R Us and more so when both "stores" are merged into one. I doubt GameStop will ever inhabit the square footage of most box-stores, but I'll bet part of the plan is to test different strategies and then move the successful model into larger standardized locations.
Parents delighted to let their kids roam through E and E10+ aisles may be disappointed when the stuffed animals are much closer to the gore and sex that propel the gaming industry's wider appeal.
There was a time in the early 90s when full motion video (FMV) was gaining momentum in gaming which led to the Control-Vision console (never released). The idea was to integrate FMV via traditional video formats, since gaming hardware wasn't up to the job of presenting realistic motion video. As a result, segments would be filmed in a traditional manner and later integrated into the video game.
Digital Pictures was a US video game developer, founded in 1991, who planned on pioneering FMV in video games. Choosing VHS as the storage/playback medium was likely an early sign of their latter demise. However, plots were designed, scripts written and footage was filmed. Before Digital Pictures began to develop for interactive CD, they had footage for several games completed - sitting around.
One such dormant game was Maximum Surge which, along with other titles, was sold to Cyber Cinema Interactive who dumped it onto DVD and re-titled it Game Over. So, Game Over is actually footage to be integrated into a FMV video game, but wound up as a stand-alone film. As a gamer, it's interesting to see this sort of flick (via DVD), since the game never came to fruition, but you can sort of see how it might have been created. Before I go farther, let it be known that this movie is awful... just dreadful.
Game Over starred Yasmine Bleeth, although the real star is Dominika Wolski as Elaine Barker, but Bleeth sported Baywatch fame among other recognizable features. It's fun to watch from the perspective of a gamer, but it's cinematic value is somewhat lesser than most straight-to-DVD releases. When a super computer is hooked into a gaming network, the programmer who designed the game has to enter the virtual reality world of his fantasies and defeat the computer before it causes worldwide catastrophe. Um... yeah, OK.
I can't say you'll enjoy this as a movie experience, but you may find it interesting as the footage is readily discernible as film and game segments. Bleeth appears in the game footage and Wolski stars in the film footage. Check it out while it's still available on DVD.
November 5, 2012
Video games that draw us toward the art of cosplay
Cosplay has been all the rage for a long time from comic cons to video game promotion. Creative folks take their favorite characters and transform into them with incredible attention to detail. These characters they portray often come to us in video games and their hold over us drives creativity from art to becoming the character - if only for a brief time.
Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw
Lollipop Chainsaw on PS3.
Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw.
Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw art.
Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw cosplay.
Daphne from Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo First Frights on Wii.
Daphne from Scooby Doo.
Daphne from Scooby Doo art.
Daphne from Scooby Doo cosplay.
November 4, 2012
Nintendo seems to have dropped the "Family Edition" labeling which indicates no GameCube compatibility
When Nintendo released the Wii Family Edition in October 2011, they scaled it back and reduced the price. Part of the lower cost involved the removal of GameCube compatibility. As the Wii was aging, certainly the GameCube titles had became outdated as well. Many console manufacturers release scaled back models to boost sales when a newer model is on the horizon. Makes sense. After 6 years on retail shelves there are probably fewer Wii-consumers who require GameCube compatibility.
Where I have a problem is with the packaging - more specifically the description. For a while the boxes were marked "Family Edition" with the inclusion of various titles depending on the promo. This was the main indicator that the unit would not play GameCube games. Lately (not sure of the exact date), the "Family Edition" labeling disappeared on Wii packaging. White models, as well as the black and the blue colored versions, lack GameCube support - yet it isn't labeled.
Perhaps Nintendo feels that the original Wii has been out of the primary sales channel long enough, to assume that all new Wii hardware is the scaled-back version lacking GameCube compatibility. Unfortunately, most retailers I've talked to don't know what "Family Edition" means and they wrongly assure me that the Wii is still GameCube compatible. Those retailers familiar with the Family Edition variants still assure me that only models stating "Family Edition" are the scaled back models. Not true!
I've wanted to get another Wii as a backup and it's particularly important that it supports GameCube. I love the GC games and the birth of the Wii was a rebirth in my interest in GameCube. I know there are still original Wii consoles out there, but the nondescript Wii packaging combined with retailer confusion makes it challenging for consumers.
The best way to tell is the orientation of the text on the console itself. The original was usually vertically oriented as were the "Power", "Reset" and "Eject" labels. On the new Family Edition models, the orientation is horizontal, as is the text labeling each button on the face of the console.
They're offering a blue Wii console with a Skylanders Giants bundled in for free. It's the version that includes the portal and one figure. Along with that you'll qualify for a free Skylanders Giants case (regularly ~$30) for storing figures. I prefer the touret-style cases, but the one they offer for free will fit the larger Giants figures.
I've been dying to get a black Wii, but didn't want to pay the full price. I'd hoped the price would drop on the full-size model with the Wii U release so close, but... no such luck. This blue Family Edition model seems as close to a deal as I can find now - with the Free Skylanders Giants & case.
You'll be the talk of the town when you sport this TMNT dress around the office, at happy hour or just out for a day on the town. Everyone remembers an loves the Turtles even though Michael Bay is doing his best to ruin the franchise with his latest movie which one might describe as being "loosely" based on the Heroes on a half shell. They're not from outer space, dammit!!
A TMNT dress might just add the flair you lack.
When you get serious enough to want to be a Ninja Turtle, TMNT Cosplay is the way to go.
It's not about getting your friends together for a bitchin' group Halloween costume. Being a Ninja Turtle is about passion, nunchucks and being heroic. Your average Halloween gala doesn't showcase these characteristics... and it's hard to be a TMNT at a Halloween party when some jerk, dressed as a pirate, badgers you all night for your phone number. He is likely unaware that you are more than capable & willing to crack his skull open TMNT-style!
The other issue about women's Halloween costumes is the description is usually proceeded by the wore, "Sexy". Turtles aren't sexy - they're kick-ass! Sexy costumes are fine, but seem more authentic after you do a back flip and slice someone's head off.
Becoming April O'Neil
At the higher levels of TMNT fandom are those who's career path takes them into the adult film industry and select a fitting porn star stage name in tribute to Ninja Turtles. Meet porn star April O'Neil! In addition to a passion for the Turtles and Doctor Who, she's a gamer and frequents various Cons. Gotta like a well-rounded lady who does porn and feels at home at a Sci-Fi convention.
But what about those of us who've already grown up and want to revel in retro gaming?
There's a kickstarter for the Picade, an arcade enclosure based around the Raspberry Pi - complete with arcade buttons and a joystick. It's not based on a tablet computer like the iCade (or Atari Duo), so it can take on other useful functions like doubling as a second monitor for your computer. Based on the Raspberry Pi, you can run Linux and do all the slick stuff capable on a moderate desktop PC when not playing games.
The benefit to the Picade is it's design as a shell around a CPU that is far more independent than any tablet OS. Thus you can load up your favoriet emulators and as many ROMs as your HD/SD card can store. The tablet-based solutions require games to support the iCade controls. An iPad doesn't know it's been shoved into a mini arcade with buttons and a joystick, it defaults to touch screen input unless the game is configured for the external controls of the iCade. The game library for the iCade is barren compared to the thousands of ROMs that can be played via emulators. The Picade simply acts as an alternate input device to control games that would ordinarily require keyboard commands.
In this scenario, the Picade becomes a mini arcade that can handle all the ROMs you already have on your PC. This seems like a much more robust and flexible mini-arcade product than the "shove in a tablet" models.
From the Picade Kickstarter site: Don't know what to do with your Raspberry Pi? Want an awesome mini arcade cabinet for your home or desk at work? Want it to double up as a second screen for your computer when not playing arcade classics? Want to build it yourself? You've come to the right place!
Ariel Rebel goes boating. Check out Ariel on Ariel Rebel Unplugged, Ariel Rebel and Zesty & Spicy. In all honesty, we're pretty amped that Adult Model, Ariel Rebel has a kick-ass cooking blog. Most ladies in her line of work are very singular in their pursuits. She's a dynamic go-getter who always seems to master another skill when you least expect it.
8 Bit Weapon is offering a compilation of their chiptunes, The 8 Bit Weapon Collection 1998-2012, featuring multiple albums, singles, remixes and rare demo tracks making this the ultimate collection for any fan new or old. Even the holiday album with Michelle's solo band ComputeHer is included in the deal!
8 Bit Weapon is Seth & Michelle Sternberger. Inspired by classic video game soundtracks and electronic music from the 70s and 80s, 8 Bit Weapon delivers a sound that is as unique as it is original.
They have performed their chip music across two continents using their arsenal of classic video game consoles and vintage computers as instruments. They have independently released 11 albums, created their own series of music software for the Apple II and have worked with Disney, Microsoft, Nokia and Sony as well as influential artists such as Kraftwerk and Information Society.
I highly recommend buying The 8 Bit Weapon Collection!
October 2012 Retro Gaming Blog
October 31, 2012
New Android Gaming console, #Ouya, reaches 1st production run of PCBs
Now slated to run on Android's Jelly Bean version OS, the folks at Ouya reached a hardware milestone - receipt of the first run of production PCBs. For those of us who've collected, assembled and/or repaired a beloved arcade game in it's original cabinet, we're accustomed to enormous PCBs, often stacked 3-deep. The small size (relative to the can in the picture) looks pretty sleek and small.
It's nice to see that they take time to update their kickstarter backers. Their undertaking in creating a new gaming console is huge, so it gives me great confidence that they update us on progress. As their March delivery date looms, I get curious about progress.
They gave a shout out to their first kickstarter backer. Apparently #1 wasn't someone close to the project itself - just a believer. It would be pretty cool to hold that title as the Ouya gains momentum and grows. That kind of ground level access is pretty rare in gaming. Who wouldn't want to say they were the first one to help bring a new gaming console to market? :)
Happy Halloween from all of us at 8-Bit Central where we've imported a case of monster cereals - Boo Berry, FrankenBerry & Count Chocula!
October 30, 2012
George Lucas uses Jedi mind trick to sell LucasFilm to Disney for 4 billion
Disney's deal to buy Lucasfilm will add the Star Wars franchise to it's cavalcade of characters. Disney plans to begin rolling out Star Wars movies every 2 years. I suppose that keeping the franchise alive and expanding could be a good thing, but Disney has this way of homogenizing things. I can barely wrap my mind around the far-reaching ramifications of such a deal, but I can almost guarantee one thing...
Peter Griffin is going to have a broad new spectrum of obtuse references for which Seth MacFarlane will now be accountable to the Magic Kingdom's legal team.
October 30, 2012
The Android-based Ouya game console could become the iPod of retro gaming
I understand the appeal of the iPod, but it's not for me.
I don't need every album I own at my disposal - anytime - anywhere. I'm content to leave the house with a few old-school rap CDs, some Greenday discs or a Kiss concert and be more than content. Instant access to everything seems burdensome and I prefer to have music filling the space around me - not blaring into my head via headphones. So, I can get by with rocking-out to a few select CDs. Music is often secondary to something else I'm focused on. I'll listen to music while reading, working on my computer or driving to work.
But does this same instant access mentality, of an iPod, apply to other collections... like video games?
I certainly don't need to bring all of my Atari 2600 games when grocery shopping. Nor do I need access to the NES library while mowing the lawn. Gaming isn't about portability, for me. However, when it comes to retro gaming, the iPod metaphor (sans portability) becomes quite compelling. If I were to start a gaming session and limit myself to Berzerk and Super Mario Galaxy, I'd likely want some Yar's Revenge, Berzerk or DKC Returns too.
Gaming is a primary or focused activity where I'm not content with just a few selections to fill a void. I want exactly what I want. Despite rarely needing the portability of a GameBoy like handheld, the GPH Caanoo was the first gaming system that allowed me to wander across genres, eras and platforms much like pausing Taylor Swift in favor of some classic Metallica.
Suddenly, I was exposed to the ability to play Atari 2600 Asteroids, 7800 Food fight, Popeye for NES, Burger Time on Colecovision or Star Castle for the Vectrex. WOW! I'd always had several game consoles connected via switch-boxes, but that still meant sifting through different bins to find the SNES game I wanted or a shelf of Jaguar carts, etc... The Caanoo brought the iPod concept to a medium I understood - Retro Gaming!
Of course those who've been playing ROMs on computers are quite accustomed to this diversity of play at one's fingertips, but I'm a console gamer. Those of us who prefer consoles may be quite excited to encounter a gaming console that brings the bounty of ROMs to the living room TV.
The Caanoo being an open source linux-based device makes running emulators very simple. I loaded a few thousand ROMs onto an SD card and saw how easily I could launch into nearly any game I wanted to play. I still have no desire to get an iPod, but when applying it's access to music to instant access for retro games, I began to think even more about the Ouya!
There are scads of emulators for Android devices. The Ouya being Android-based makes the Caanoo's appeal seem possible on a large TV. Part of the Ouya's marketing outreach is to bring the ease of mobile development (as compared to game console dev) back to the TV. I'm all for it and the notion that a bountiful supply of ROMs could then be accessed with ease and displayed on an HD TV is very compelling. I love the idea of that little 'Droid box firing up any number of different console emulators for a cross platform/era gaming session.
That makes me drool with retro excitement! Go Ouya!
I remember when Night Trap came out on CD for Macintosh and the controversy surrounding it - which is likely why I bought it in the first place. However, I had no idea how peculiar the back-story was. Night Trap's evolution began on a ridiculous technology while spanning several others before it finally broke out in controversy.
Night Trap video game for Sega 32X - CD
After it's release, misinterpretation by various interest groups led to Congressional hearings by equally uniformed Congressmen who labeled Night Trap and it's genre as objectionable. But the story is far more interesting than these soap opera proceedings. This outrage occurred after it's release on a variety of platforms including: Sega Mega-CD, Sega 32X, 3DO, DOS & Mac (between October 1992 and October 1994).
As a player, it is your job to rid a home of vampire-like creatures before they kill the ensuing girls sleep-over party. Various Senators, spurred by ignorant interest groups, believed the object of the game was to kill the girls, not save them. These Congressional heroes are the folks that attempt to govern our nation. Most are complete technical novices (morons).
Night Trap's existence goes back to 1987 when it was filmed over a 3-week shoot for an FMV game for the Control-Vision game console (codenamed: NEMO)
Dana Plato Playboy pictorial
developed by Tom Zito, who founded Digital Pictures, in 1991. Night Trap starred the adorable daughter of Phillip Drummond (television's Diff'rent Strokes) Dana Plato. Her inability to transition from child-star to actress led to drugs, arrest and ultimately her early death due to an overdose. Ever desperate to shed the Dif Strokes typecasting, Dana did a pictorial for Playboy in 1989, which didn't help the status of Night Trap's controversy.
Back to the tech...
The Control-Vision's development began in 1985 in conjunction with Nolan Bushnell's company Axlon - he also founded Atari in 1972. You may not have heard of the Control-Vision console and part of the reason is it's implementation of VHS tapes as a storage and playback mechanism for Full Motion Video (FMV) games. At the time FMV was evolving into a consumer possibility since technology was moving along and video tape was well-accepted as a standard for video playback. However, the Compact Disc (CD) format had been commercially available since October 1982 which made analog storage far less appealing than digital. Stranger still was that LaserDiscs predated this as well.
Dragon's Lair on LaserDisc
Remember how popular Dragon's Lair was on the arcade scene of 1983? It was a LaserDisc-based video game published by Cinematronics, featuring animation by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth. LaserDisc as a format appeared around 1978 as a digital storage format (it's drawback being consumer LD players could not record). Most games at the time used sprites. Hardware limitations stifled the amount of possible motion due to resolution and frame rates. Dragon's Lair used the large storage capacity of laserdiscs to create better on-screen motion.
One wonders how VHS could be considered a "good" medium for video gaming. The latest generation gaming consoles all have mass storage and enough processing power to make us forget that full motion video was ever an issue. I've lived through the Betamax -vs- VHS hardware wars of the mid 1970s, the digital format of LaserDiscs a year later, the proliferation of CDs in the mid 80s and finally DVDs in 1995. With such varied storage mediums, from analog tape to digital discs, how could a FMV game begin it's life on VHS tape in 1987?
While watching a movie on your cell phone, it's hard to remember that recordable video formats were available to consumers in the late 1970s. Hearing about movie footage being shot in 1987 for a FMV game, only to be relegated to a hacked Colecovision that had been "Frankensteined" into a VHS-based gaming console (the Control-Vision) seems highly improbable - but it's the truth.
The Hasbro toy company invested in the Control-Vision, but pulled the plug in 1989 leaving a handful of FMV titles stranded until the USS Sega came into port and ported several of the titles to it's new CD-based gaming consoles. The Genesis put Sega permanently into gaming history and they became HUGE... until their CD consoles failed to deliver epic libraries of titles fans had grown accustomed to on the 8 bit Genesis.
Still, Sega was a major player and Night Trap's release on the Sega CD and 32X systems (and Mac & PC computers) put Dana Plato's sleep-over party into the living rooms of the masses. Mom and Dad were not happy. They spoke up about their woes. Suddenly, there was a manufactured outrage at video game companies who these parents (and developing interest groups) said were marketing violent sexual materials to minors. It wasn't simply Night Trap's slumber party massacre alone - Mortal Kombat, Lethal Enforcers and others fueled parental outrage that somehow became a Senate Judiciary and Government Affairs Committee hearing where many titles were lumped together as sick, disgusting and ultra-violent.
We all know that Congress can't solve any problem in less than a decade, but they can delegate problems in mere minutes. 1994 ushered in the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) who would begin to assign ratings to games in Canada and the USA. Those who enjoy the more graphic adult-appropriate video games can thank the ESRB for the letter "M" :)
1995 saw the advent of digital storage arrive in the familiar CD-looking format called DVD which held an epic quantity of game code, computer back-ups or pornography. Thankfully we haven't gone farther awry than the MPAA in regulating the content of movies.
The fascinating part of this odd tale is the overlapping of better technology combined with the Dana Plato drama and Congress feeling the need to chime in. You can't make up stuff like this!
An Easter egg: During the Night Trap credits, you can enter a code to view footage shot in Pawtucket, RI in December 1986 when Tom Zito demonstrated a prototype of the Control-Vision (NEMO) game console for a group of Hasbro execs. This may be the only live glimpse of the unit.
Traci Lords has done it all and now adds Hitman Absolution's Layla Stockton to her resume
The Hitman series, from Danish game developer IO Interactive, began in 2000 and has spanned computers and consoles from the GameCube to PlayStation and Xbox. Traci Lords found notoriety roughly 15 years earlier in the adult industry where controversy forced retailers to suddenly yank their best-selling VHS titles from their shelves. She could easily have reverted back to "Nora" and lived a quiet life in obscurity, but she didn't. Not even close.
In 1988 a film called Not Of This Earth came to my attention, starring Traci Lords. She was back, she could act and she was still Traci Lords! This was just a year after Traci I Love You - her first adult film as a legal adult - came out on VHS and LaserDisc. In 1990, she was cast in John Water's Cry Baby and put her career on the map. She later appeared in Serial Mom, Blade and TV series First Wave. In 1995 she released an album, 1000 Fires and quickly wound up on the Billboard charts at #2 and #11. This girl plays to win.
In 2012 Traci makes her return to video game voice-over in Hitman Absolution as Layla Stockton. By "return", I mean she's been here before on a reboot of one of my all-time favorite games Defender! An arcade hit in 1980, Defender sold over 55,000 units to become Williams' best selling arcade game that went on to grace many home gaming consoles. In 2002 Defender - Saving the Human Race came to GameCube and PS2 with Traci Lords voicing Commander Kyoto.
Whether she's Layla Stockton, Commander Kyoto, Jordan Radcliffe or Rikki Abbott... we dig Traci Lords!
October 25, 2012
If you can't have your cake and eat it too - try some Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized (measures 85.60mm x 56mm x 21mm) ARM GNU/Linux computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard. It's the minimal of Minimalist. Aside from being small, the purpose is to be inexpensive. They estimate it to sell for ~$35. That's pretty cheap!
At that price every kid on the planet (yeah, this planet) could have a computer. Wow, that could make a tremendous difference in the kinds of student we ultimately unleash on the workforce.
When you purchase a Raspberry Pi you get the Raspberry Pi Board itself. A power supply or SD cards are not included but can be purchased from the authorized distributors. You will be able to buy preloaded SD cards too. There are 2 models to choose from: Model A has 256Mb RAM, one USB port and no Ethernet connection. Model B has 512Mb RAM, 2 USB port and an Ethernet port.
Performance-wise, it's graphics capabilities are roughly equivalent to the first Xbox. Compared to a conventional computer, it runs similar to a 300MHz Pentium 2, with much, better graphics. It must boot from the SD card, but a USB HD can "take over" after the initial boot. You cannot boot without an SD card.
Well rested, I rolled in around 10:30 delighted to find that the shelves had not been stripped bare. In fact TRU seemed to have ample stock to keep the shelves full at least until lunchtime rolled around. They were out of the Portal Owners pack for Wii, but I was able to get all the available figures and a few accessories.
I was particularly impressed with the Battle Arena and dog tags.
When my son & I play Skylanders, we each have a character on the portal and a mass of figures-in-waiting scattered all over the table. This simple plastic add-on has a spot in the middle for the Portal and 16 figures can chill out around the edge. Good organization!
Element symbols and platform light up for ultra cool Skylanders fun. Stage and display an army of Skylanders ready to put in to the action.
Features a power cords pass through for the Portal of Power.
Lately I've been buying Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space dog tags. Each one has various bird & pig images on metal dog tags with a short neck chain. I was pretty stocked to find similar foil packs for the Skylanders Giants!
Some of the images appearing on the Skylanders Giants dog tags.
Each platform also has branded Skylanders Giants controllers.
I didn't see any of these at Toys R Us, but Topps is making Skylanders Giants trading cards that come in foil packs.
On a later trip to Toys R Us I found these combo boses of Skylanders Giants trading cards and dog tags for $17.95.
Skylanders Giants trading cards and dog tags single box.
October 22, 2012
October Playmate shines spotlight on Gamer Girls by touting her hardcore-ness
The term "Gamer Girls" likely spawned from some marketing executive's discovery that gaming was being enjoyed outside the male teenager demographic. As women have become more prominent in gaming contests, expos and sales statistics, they've also become a topic of speculative journalism seeking to find a new focus to report on.
Female celebrities who mention an interest in video games suddenly gives the mainstream journalist a new angle. "She" not only stars in a blockbuster film, she plays video games. Wow! (insert sarcasm). Too many of these stories are rooted in 3 hours of Super Mario at a sleep-over party. There are so many real gamer girls out there... why can't journalists find them?
When you mix in nudity, their visibility skyrockets! Girls who game (in the eyes of newsmakers) are suddenly much more interesting when accompanied by nude photos. Meet Pamela Horton, Playboy's October Playmate. She not only touts herself as a hardcore gamer, she wants to get into the gaming industry as a character designer! From print, podcasts and videos, everyone wants to interview Pam.
Let's be clear - we'd love to interview her too, but we lack the necessary connections to do Playmate interviews even if we relegate our agenda to asking her high score on Joust and Dig Dug. Oh wait - she was born in 1988.
Rumor has it she's a die-hard World of Warcraft fan, plays a lot of League of Legends, and recently put 38 hours into beating Final Fantasy XIII-2. Gotta like a gal with those stats and her gaming accomplishments are far more telling than the traditional "measurements". Her background in art could be a good entry point into the gaming industry.
So why don't we hear more about engaging gamers like Pam Horton? Ignoring that she has a lucrative gig being naked, her interviews lead us to believe she's the real deal - a hardcore gamer! We can think of several others, but all the "news" one reads makes female gamers seem like some elusive species. In this day and age, everyone (OK, most everyone) games. Finding interesting gamers - topless or otherwise - shouldn't be too difficult.
The next obvious step is introducing Retro Gaming to tykes like Pam who were born just as arcades were falling from grace. Women of her generation need to be exposed to vintage Atari, Stern Konami and Centuri among others and the myriad of home console games they spawned. Over here at 8-Bit Central, we feel that even the most ardent Xbox supporter could benefit from gaming's history in the form of playing the games that enabled a following from which Xbox derives it's audience :)
Digital Playground contract girl, Stoya is an avid sci-fi reader with preferences leaning toward William Gibson and Anne McCaffrey. Her Twitter posts showcase her smarts and she recently said she wished she had more time to play Sid Meier's Civilization.
I have no idea what Spocktoberfest might be, but put me on the attendee list ;)
Fake LV donning her BatChick Batman Bra.
Fake LV starts mornings with Death Wish Coffee.
Stoya plays Sid Meier's Civilization.
October 21, 2012
Skylanders Giants release day displays at Toys R Us - October 21
By coincidence I was at Toys R US yesterday looking for more Trash Pack toys for my son. As always, I quickly scanned the video game area for any signs of Skylanders Giants. There was a partially assembled Wii U display awaiting a console to be sequestered inside a damage-proof plastic bubble. But no sign of Skylanders Giants.
When I arrived at 10am this morning, it was quite a different story. The entrance, where they have large promotional displays, was decked out in enough Skylanders Giants promos to keep a marketing department well-employed. Off in the corner, the video game area was stocked with Giants, but the entrance display was the place to be!
The video game aisle was stocked with Giants and regular Skylanders figures and accessories. The blue former packaging has been replaced with and orange theme to distinguish the Giants figures. Just the day before the shelves looked pretty barren of even the first series figures. Oh what a day makes!
Last year's demo station had a new Skylanders Giants marquee. I still love dropping packaged figures on it to see the intro info!
The entrance display was a 4 panel area of figures, games for each platform, accessories and more figures.
The left pannel of the entrance display had some original figures and Giants. From the first series, Toys R Us put out some of the harder to find figures. Cool!
The center pannel of the entrance display had the game variants for all the platforms. They were sold out of the Portal Owner version for Wii. Who says Nintendo isn't King? ;)
The right pannel of the entrance display had Skylanders Giants accessories from backpacks and branded controllers to storage cases and trinkets.
This side-corner panel displayed more figures. Toys R Us had at least one exclusive figure.
I opted for a shopping basket, but there was one guy who was manically dumping Skylanders Giants figures and accessories into a shopping cart.
October 20, 2012
I went to school with a Kaypro computer and no one laughed - it was high tech!
Going off to school today seems to require a computer - preferably a laptop. It affords easy note-taking in class and is an indispensable research tool, to the dismay of your school's Head Librarian. College in my day was no different - the "laptop" was just a tad bigger. And the printer cable was of the "ribbon" variety.
I wish I still had it, but it was too bulky to continue with the various housing moves I made along the line. I made a stupid decision and got rid of it. Damn! But prior to it's dismissal, I was the king of high tech at school when it became known I had my own computer. Today, this is the sort of computer that might be sought out by a museum, not someone trying to churn out a research paper the night before it's due.
Dual disk drives allowed the programs to run on Drive A and save documents to Drive B.
Today it feels odd to spell disk with a "K".
Most airlines won't allow something this big as a carry-on item! But this was considered a portable computer in the late 80s.
October 19, 2012
Activision's Super Hit Pack via HES | Noah Optimus Prime Fox greets the world
Upon further investigation as to why I'd never heard of the Super Hit Pak cart for the Atari 2600, it turns out it was an Australian release with HES around 1995. Seems they were trying to eek out a little more bang-for-the-buck with a multi-game cart a few years after the 2600 was officially decommissioned in January 1992.
Among HES' 2600 offerings were: Challenge, Hot Action Pack, Mega Funpack, Pigs N' Wolf, Rad Action Pack, Smash Hit Pack, Sports Action Pack, Star Warrior, Super Action Pack, Super Hit Pack and Wall Defender.
The Activision cartridge showing the 5 games contained on this one cart: River Raid, Grand Prix, Fishing Derby, Sky Jinks and Checkers. In the same vein, HES released Smash Hit Pak, a 5-in-1 cartridge containing: Frogger, Stampede, Seaquest, Boxing and Skiing.
Moving on to Super Hit Racks...
Wow, how time flies! Last I knew, Megan Fox was bent over fixing Sam Witwicky's beater Camaro a few scenes before Mr. Witwicky was cursing giant robots for trashing his front lawn. Now she's popping out kids with Brian Austin Greene.
Um... isn't he the dancey-dance nerd from the original Beverly Hills 90210? I hope Brandon & Steve appreciate the irony of David being paired with Tori Spelling, in the 90s, when Jenny Garth and Shannen Doherty were the obvious hotties and now he's "with" Megan Fox.
Megan Fox fixing Bumblebee.
Beverly Hills 90210 cast ...and Megan Fox.
October 18, 2012
ICHEG acquires 250+ rare Atari drawings to be part of the Atari Arcade Design Collection
When exploring the history of gaming, digital archeologists (if there is such a profession) typically unearth dusty relics from long dormant warehouses as well as attics and basements around the world. Arcade cabinets and home gaming consoles are rescued from these undesirable locations with enough regularity to fuel a vibrant retro gaming community. Along with these treasures come marquees, PCBs, game cartridges and promotional items from flyers to service manuals. Many wind up at flea markets and yard sales, but gaming's rich history exists in these places mainly in final physical form. What about all the development tools, drawings and concepts that predate releases to the public? How many flea markets sell arcade schematics or concept art? Hmmm... none?
As casual gamers or hardened retro fanatics, we sometimes forget the development process that ensued for months or years prior to our dropping quarters into coin-slots or nestling a cart into an Atari 2600. I'm sure there are troves of CAD schematics and concept art for every arcade cabinet I've ever professed my love for.
Many of these industrial and artistic pieces show the great detail that went into perfecting the general shape and size of an arcade cabinet based on game mechanics and number of players. When arcades fell into decline, Atari was very interested in delivering cabinets that allowed 2 players to comfortably play at a single cabinet. Great care was taken in determining everything from sizing & dimensions, the best angle for the video display and positioning of the speaker(s). A lot of preliminary planning and design went into getting optimal specifications.
Many of us have fond memories of Atari arcade games from childhood and all the fun they provided. I hadn't thought too much about it, but would Asteroids have been as amazing if the monitor were improperly angled and caught glare from ceiling lights? Or what if the control panel was too high for you to comfortably play?
A lot of physical factors go into the overall enjoyment of an arcade game that have little to do with the actual game play. I'm sure the diversity between uprights and cocktail designs played a role in a title's success or failure. Cocktail configs always had room for a slice of pizza and a soda :)
The goal of ICHEG is to preserve these Atari drawings and mechanicals for historical reference and public display. An exhibit is planned for 2013 at the Boardwalk Arcade exhibit at the National Museum of Play.
Situated at The Strong, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games collects, studies, and interprets video games and other electronic games and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other. At 37,000 items and growing, ICHEG holds the largest and most comprehensive public collection of its kind in the United States and one of the largest in the world.
Proving that gamers are gamers whether they are into pixels or boards, I was tipped off to this Atari goodness by Kim at The Game Aisle who develops, reviews and craves board games. Check out her site and expand your gaming horizons :)
Hooters added ingredient derails their ability to claim "family dining" moniker
I love reading articles in which Hooters claims to be a family restaurant. What better dining getaway for the whole family - bring the kids too - than a roomful of scantily clad waitresses with big smiles? I wonder if their next leap to establish themselves as a family restaurant will the addition of stripper poles at each table. No offense to the women who work there - the tips must be great - but lets not pretend that the wives are begging their husbands to take them out to Hooters :)
There are some games and franchises that seem to have been around since time began and still manage to bring out new games that top the sales charts. Each console seems to have its own mascot of success. Some of the longest running franchises that are still around today are some of the most popular games to date, such as Mario who started his quest actually in the Donkey Kong in 1981 and then continued on to become the mascot of Nintendo and has appeared in over 200 games!
Mario's main form is in the platformer series "Super Mario", the first was released in 1985 and the franchise has sold 275.73 million copies, not doing too bad the little plumber. So people have been playing Mario on over 14 different platforms in over 200 different games, so what makes him so popular? Well perhaps it's because you can do pretty much anything you want with Mario, from driving go carts, beating up Kirby, or chomping on mushrooms, Mario can do it all.
The Mario series is still going strong we have just had Mario Kart 7, Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Bros 2 come out for the Nintendo 3DS, and the future is bright for the moustache wearing hero, with the Nintendo Wii U on the horizon and the release of New Super Mario Bros U, I believe we will be seeing Mario for years to come.
The Legend of Zelda is one of my personal favourite, the series is a fantasy adventure game once again developed by Nintendo, and focuses on the primary character of Link whose usual task is seeing to the rescue of princess Zelda from the evil Ganondorf. There have been 18 Zelda releases a couple of my favourites were Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask on the N64.
A feature that has made the Zelda series so popular is the complex puzzle scenarios in the dungeons that create a refreshing and unique experience in every game. The music is also another fond memory of mine, Koji Kondo has been a composer for the Zelda franchise since day 1 and can still compose that perfect piece for that frustrating puzzle.
The Nintendo Wii U will see Princess Zelda stolen again, although this time it will all be in stunning HD on Nintendo's latest console. We know little of the next Zelda game, it has not yet been officially announced but I am sure we will be seeing link again and again.
Now for a game that isn't one of the Nintendo giants but was in fact the face of Sega, (and maybe still is), Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic the Hedgehog first appeared on the Sega Mega Drive in 1991, and was Sega's attempt to compete with the growing Mario. He has sold more than 80 million copies of his series and was one of the first non Nintendo characters to walk in the hall of games alongside Mario and Link.
Unfortunately for Sonic he has received a lot of stick over recent years, with endless rereleases of the original games onto different platforms that fall short of the classic experience that gamers loved so much on the Sega Mega Drive, I don't expect to see sonic games around for much longer and perhaps will only be released as downloads for Xbox live and other such services.
Final Fantasy developed by Square Enix has been around since 1987 and is still a very popular series today; originally they were only released on the NES and introduced tons of RPG concepts that we are so familiar with today. The Final Fantasy series is now up to Final Fantasy XIV and the Japanese fan base for the games in still huge, it has had a number of anime series produced and also some spin off games such as Kingdom of Hearts.
The Newest game, Final Fantasy XV of course, has been behind closed doors for some time and speculation suggest that the series will be returning to the Nintendo platform that it moved away from in 2001, with the main series of the game being release on Sony's PlayStation 2. Final Fantasy still has a huge fan base and who knows just how many Final Fantasy games we could get? Final Fantasy XXXX?
The Nintendo Wii U seems to be a redeeming feature of most of these classic franchises and I am very much looking forward to seeing them in HD and with the use of the Wii U game pad just how different can they make these aging franchises?
Author Bio: Matt Robinson is a game-nut for the most part, and sometimes finds time to be a father and a husband. In between these jobs, he can occasionally be found working at Console Deals.
We can't all have the stately luxuries of some retro gaming Mancaves, but there are a few essentials, keeping in mind that outfitting a proper mancave is no cheap affair. You certainly didn't take on that big mortgage so you could seclude yourself in the basement with your worldly goods and pipes that leak onto a cement floor. Hell no!
Unleash your inner interior decorator who knows just how to hang a poster so the tape doesn't show and always answers, "Tits" when decision points are fickle. Stop by the Wall Girls website and see what decorating wonders await the walls of your divorce-to-be mancave when that inner decorator again declares, Tits!
Gigantic flatscreen TV
Music & video media center
CD & DVD collection
Kitchenette w/ microwave oven
Refrigerator full of beer
Bar - well stocked
Seating for 6
Kick-ass fish tank
Outside entrance for guests
and Pizza Delivery Guy
Once you've perfected the look and feel of your escape-arium, begin adding the crude effects that have long been banished from your living room, bedroom and office. If you do it right, you'll wonder why you bother going into any other room in the house. Eventually you may wonder why you haven't seen your wife in weeks nor heard the washing machine running. Be sure to invite your attorney over to take part in the celebration that is - the ManCave!
October 15, 2012
Zines used to be so prolific, now a rarity. Check out this new retro gaming zine: Hold Reset
The 80's were a magical time full of insane arcades, video game console wars and music that still reminds me of all the crazy things we did in that awesome decade. Then there were the zines. Hundreds of them. Zines covered every topic from the myriad of punk rock bands to skateboarding and random insanity. Self publishing yearnings and Xerox machines made zines a cut & paste (with actual scissors) tribute to any topic the mind could dredge up.
I remember kids selling cheat-code zines in local arcades. Crazy times. But where did all the crazy go? Did all those self-publishers grow up and get real jobs or something? Desktop publishing, which long ago gave way to desktop video, fueled by Quark and PageMaker kept readers in the know about everything that was underground. Finding a good zine (or any zine) these days is rare. A few brave souls who understand the power of print and the reward of seeing one's creativity influence others, march on.
Check out Hold Reset, a retro gaming zine written, compiled and published by members of the Queen City Retro Fun Club, based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This is the first issue and is dedicated to the greatness of the NES, its outstanding library of games and the impact and influence it has had throughout the development of the video game medium.
Despite the onset of everything going digital, its simply a matter of time before you are balancing some sort of electrical device on your lap as you "do you business" as they say in polite circles; circles I don't socialize in since I'm more prone to be "taking a shit".
Dropping a $70 Kindle into the bowl would be bad. Seeing that fancy new smart phone, or worse still your iPad, take that fall would be fiscally devastating. None the less, reading in the bathroom is likely to remain popular even as the publishing world races to stay ahead of the curve. You must as well and the folks at Rocketfish have created the PadPivot Go Anywhere Stand just for you.
Through its SureGrip nano suction technology, PadPivot "aggressively adheres to glossy surfaces". PadPivot's uses also extend beyond the bathroom. It can also help you follow recipes while cooking, bring up chords while fumbling with your guitar, or video chat as you do cartwheels around the room.
This iPad Accessory Takes the Throne. It's time to upgrade that warped copy of The Darwin Awards you keep by the can with PadPivot, the mobile device stand that lends hands-free support to your iPad, e-reader, tablet, or smartphone.
October 13, 2012
Do mass-media journalists really believe gaming consoles are dead or are they ignorant lemmings?
I'm a bit of a news junkie and enjoy a variety of news sources from mainstream mass media and local / indy newspapers to niche outlets that specialize in a particular topic. Each have compelling info from their own unique perspectives. However, I must say I grow weary of hearing mass-media journalists jumping on the idea that slowing sales in console gaming is quickly leading to the end of gaming consoles.
Just today I read an article that stated there is now no need to purchase a Sony PS3 because of the proliferation of mobile gaming! WTF! These alleged journalists seem to think a 4" screen on a smartphone is preferable to a 60" flatscreen TV - and that's before we even look at storage and processing power. These stories are rampant in mass-media, but rarely appear in the niche gaming news arenas - where people really know about things.
Do these journalists think the automobile industry is threatened by the lesser cost-of-ownership of a bicycle? Perhaps the book publishing industry is suffering because Ikea is not producing enough bookshelf units. They seem like lemmings jumping on a popular (if misguided) idea and struggling to make new news of it under their own byline.
There are factors both inside and outside the gaming industry that are causing sales to drop. Everything works in cycles. Popularity waxes and wanes for nearly every product on the market. Game consoles and smart phones are no different.
Gaming and smart phone origins
Gaming took off in the late 70s and has gone through a number of iterations (generations) caused by various consumer, economic and technical facets. Combining communication and computing began to emerge around the same time, but the smartphone we all herald today didn't begin to take hold until ~1997 preceded by PDAs (an abysmal concept) a few years earlier.
We've seen gaming evolve over the last 4 decades and gamers have a historical perspective of the causes. By comparison, smart phones have been around less than 2 decades (some would argue that "smart" didn't occur until the iPhone & Android handsets arrived: 2007), yet their sophistication has skyrocketed. As time marches on, we're likely to see innovations hit the marketplace with increasing speed. No wonder people are swarming toward smart phones - they're the new hip gadget. ...which is part of the cycle.
The world is currently in a financial crisis. In the US jobs are scarce, unemployment high and the general feeling of well-being at an all time low. Must-have items have been moved to the "luxury" category and most of us are trying to maintain lower standards with far less financial stability. Probably not the time most of us would be thinking of dropping $250+ on a gaming console. No to mention most new games are priced at $50 - $60.
This combination is going to lead to a slump in sales. Lets also consider the console lifecycle. The big three (Wii, PS3 & Xbox) are about six years old and have not dropped significantly in price. Who wants to pay full price for a 6-year old game console that may become obsolete in a year or so?
Nintendo has a great track record of backward compatibility, but Sony has laid down the law that new consoles will not play a prior system's games. Usually toward the end of a console's lifecycle, prices take a tumble and stimulate new sales as a replacement (bigger & better) comes to market. Not at the moment. The Wii U is the only console with a release date. Still wondering why folks are staving off a $250+ purchase in favor of free games on their phone?
Smart phone allure
Car breaks down
Late for a meeting
On the road traveling
Stuck in traffic
These are all good reasons to have a cell phone rather than a game console. I love gaming, but playing Call Of Duty won't summon a tow truck. When I leave the house I'm grabbing my keys, wallet and phone - probably leaving the Wii in the living room. Smart phones have taken on a role of a must-have item, for many of us, as the systems and apps have become more integrated into our daily lives.
But have you ever priced a smart phone without a multi-year contract? Go talk to a sales rep. Most of those $99 phones are twice the price of a PS3 if you don't take on a contract with the service provider! Most of the phones on the market are poorly designed and usually have significant "issues" after about 2 years by which time most of their features are outdated or obsolete anyway. Still, a cell phone can be a life saver in emergencies and provide a lot of utility via apps.
Big expensive TVs
So, we've gone from big TVs to wide screen TVs to HD TVs and now we're supposed to scrap them for 3D TVs with ill-fitting glasses to make rudimentary elements jut outward in a primitive 3D illusion. Oh yeah, you also need to have apps on your TV too. Why get off your ass to update Facebook when you can do it during a commercial break?
Whatever your reason for buying a big TV, it cost a lot of money. If you're a gamer, isn't this where you want to play games - on the big expensive TV? Angry Birds is fun when you're waiting at the DMV, but if I'm at home I want my Atari cravings satisfied on that big screen, not iOS. I'll play mobile Asteroids while waiting in the dentist's reception area.
Mobile games are fun, but are a very different product than console games. People may favor one over the other for a variety of reasons, but I think most of us would agree that a big screen TV is the best way to play. And what about the folks at Ouya? They're taking the ease and excitement around mobile game development and aiming it back at the living room TV. Yay!
Won't digital delivery be cheaper?
We're starting to hear a lot about digital delivery - doing away with expensive packaging and distribution costs. Game consoles connect easily to home routers and can download gaming content. I'm not sure how long it would take to transfer a 7GB game, but if the cost dropped from $60 to $35, do you really think you're going to get the same game via download?
Removing the retail costs would save manufacturers a lot of money, but not so much that games would actually be affordable. We also need to factor-in corporate greed. You'll download a game at a good price and discover that you can only play one character in four levels. Don't worry - you can buy more characters and levels. In fact, levels and additional characters are cheap - only $2.99 each. That sounds reasonable until you decide you really want all 240 levels and 35 characters. I won't bore you with the math ($822.25 plus tax), but you'll likely spend a lot more than $60 to get what's "in the box" today. That isn't to say $60 is a bargain, but don't think you'll be paying less with a different delivery model.
Back to our mass-media journalists...
So, I hope aspiring journalists will come to recognize that cycles exist everywhere and will always cause sways in the norm whether it's the cost of a video game or popularity of canned vegetables. Cycles move constantly in an ever changing world.
As a news junkie I know the importance of always seeking different sources and weighing what they all have to say. Surprisingly, I haven't delved into the newsworthiness of Naked News, but I am seeing the benefits of reading smaller indy news sites.
An interesting trend - bars opening with arcade themes... and retro arcade cabinets. I'm much more apt to go to a bar in which I can chat up the cute girl racking up a high score on Centipede :)
News is good. Just beware the hype!
Adult starlet and award winning solo-girl Ariel Rebel has launched her flair for creativity into a cooking blog. Not the first thing one would expect from one of the leading "girls on the web", but she does everything full-on with no compromise. From random nakedness to delicious recipes... she's just a super chick!
We won't allege Ariel is a hardcore gamer, but she mentions gaming on her Twitter feed and has done a few Gaming photo shoots like this Atari Flashback one.
Samantha Fox was an English dance-pop singer, actress, and former glamour model. In 1983, at age of 16, she began her modeling career on Page Three of The Sun, and went on to become a popular pin-up girl. In 1986, she launched her pop music career with her debut single "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)", which became a Number 1 hit in 17 countries. She has since sold over 30 million albums worldwide and has also appeared in a number of films and TV shows.
You never know where a career will take you. Pop star Samantha Fox had a string of hit albums, made the cover of several adult magazines and stared (or stripped) in this Commodore 64 Strip Poker game.
Just a few of Samantha Fox's pop music album covers.
October 12, 2012
Don't suffer from Spice Loss. Discover in-game content & prizes via Slim Jim
With prime-time television commercials riddled with dick-pill advertising, it's nice to see someone targeting a far greater cause - Male Spice Loss. I have to admit I gravitate toward chips when traipsing the snack aisle. There's something about a long stick of dehydrated meat that doesn't always register positively in my brain. However, I can assure you that biting into said stick does release a wave of goodness throughout my conscious being.
Most "chips" are not game compliant as they leave my hands with various residues that don't bode well when these gritty substances invade my joysticks and controllers. Whether I'm awaiting my turn while Player-2 battles onslaughts of aliens or I'm briefly hiding from the Qotile in the Neutral Zone, I want to be able to snag a quick hand-to-mouth snack that won't soil my joystick. Slim Jims leave me spiced and ready to game without contaminating my gaming accessories with detritus or unknown sticky crap.
An article in Today's New York Times fleshed out the plight of the spice-deprived and gave mention to how the Slim Jim folks are engaging gamers with the help of Electronic Arts (EA Games). Codes inside Slim Jim wrappers can be inputed to win content and prizes.
Excerpt from the NYT: The Slim Jim Web site cautions men to keep on the lookout for signs of "male spice loss," the implication being that men who stop eating the snacks as they grow older are gradually emasculated. A series of television commercials introduced last year feature, in the parlance of the ads, a manbulance whose crew responds to manmergencies, or situations deemed gravely unmanly.
Now Slim Jim is taking its manly message to that bastion of boyhood: video games. Among the young men to whom Slim Jim primarily is pitched, 71 percent either own or play video games, and more than half play video games for more than six hours a week, according to the brand. Video games are even more relevant to those young men than sports, music, and movies, according to Mr. Marple.
A new advertising campaign that will be introduced Monday highlights a promotional partnership between Slim Jim and Electronic Arts, the video game publisher. Jonathan Byrne, an associate creative director at Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, which is creating the campaign, said the ads are intended to balance promoting manliness with hanging on to the joys of boyhood.
"It's not just about manliness, it's also bucking responsibility," Mr. Byrne said of the ads. "Avoiding the growing-up thing is a big part of it."
A new commercial opens with a man in a hospital bed clumsily pushing buttons of a game console. A voice-over asks, "Feeling shame and embarrassment from your sudden loss of video game dexterity?"
Dozens of Slim Jims tumble from a chute onto the chest of the gamer, who is assured that the products are "packed full of important brolectrolytes gamers need and they also come with a code that unlocks in-game content from the latest E.A. games."
Countless times I've had to wipe orange snack-dust off a joystick, all the while wondering if my desire for a cheese-like snack justified the necessary post-game joystick wipe-down. Had I simply tossed a bucket of Slim Jims on the table, I'd have been nourished and sanitary.
Check out the Slim Jim website. They've done a nice job of creating an amusing and engaging site that is eminently better than most brand-oriented sites.
Retro City Rampage: OUT NOW... but not for WiiWare
I'm not terribly alert at 7:00am. I'm usually awake, but still in that state of denial that it may really be time to get out of bed. This concept was a double edged sword this morning when I got an email from Retro folks at City Rampage, with a subject line that read, "Retro City Rampage: OUT NOW!"
That news is absolutely reason enough to get out of bed and see if my Wii will be able to connect to my router with anything resembling speed. But I was still in bed, so I read a little further before committing my self to really being awake and in any condition to begin facing the world. I'm glad I read more because I really wasn't ready to face anything, except my Wii. As it turns out, Retro City Rampage was out for PC, PS3 & Vita. That's swell and I've heard amazing things about this game - from reviews, to several awards.
Dammit - I want it on WiiWare. All in all, I would have been pissed if it had been out for Wii since I just downloaded Zombie Panic in Wonderland and would be a few hundred points short of being able to snag a copy of Retro City Rampage. I went back to sleep... wishing this awesome sounding game would appear for WiiWare.
The image below appeared in my email as shown. No text - just the image and a link to the Facebook page for the Spy Hunter release.
I'm all for Spy Hunter and I'm glad it's available - great franchise - but I really want it on a console, not handheld. I'm sure it will migrate to consoles if it does well on the Vita and 3DS. But I'm still perplexed as to why Maxim sent this to me. (Yes, I'm aware they appropriated my addy from the Gamer Girl contest and I'm sure there's a per-click contract on someone's desk.) It seems like a line of text would have been helpful. At least let people know they can enter to win a PS Vita.
If you don't think Romney can be an effective President, what do you do if he's elected? Leave the country!
Jet Blue is capitalizing on this notion by letting you cast a vote for either candidate. If your choice loses the election, you'll be entered into a contest for a free flight out of (and back - just in case) the country to any Jet Blue destination.
What a great concept. I've always thought Australia would be my preferred destination to escape to should the US economy come much closer to circling the drain. Despite my patriotism, having Romney in office would certainly trigger my urge to run away. Realistically speaking, I couldn't really do that - which is likely why Jet Blue is offering the winner a roundtrip ticket.
With this in mind, I can't help thinking how much it would ease my pain, should Romney somehow get elected, if GameStop were to give me a free Wii U. Hmmm... Perhaps the Texan management team at GameStop could put together a similar contest.
After all, we can't buy new gaming consoles if we leave the country to escape the Romn-opoly of our already weak economy.
Gotta get the vote out and a Free Wii U might be just the motivator ;)
The 4th version is coming in November, as part of Atari's 40th anniversary, with 75 included games and wireless controllers. Let's take a quick glance at it's predecessors...
The first Flashback came out for the 2004 holiday season and looked much like the Atari 7800 - especially the controllers - and even contained several 7800 titles, including a favorite of ours, Food Fight. 20 games were built-in and accessible via a menu system.
However, all the games, both 2600 & 7800, were ports from the originals since the innards were actually the "NES on a chip" which meant none of the original code would run natively - it had to be ported. These games often looked similar, but there were differences that irked the true Atari fans.
Doubling the included games to 40, the Atari Flashback 2 arrived next Christmas in 2005. This time out, it resembled a smaller-scale 2600 console from which most of it's games were culled. Interestingly, a few of the games were homebrews that had been released after the 2600's life cycle. They even negotiated rights for Pitfall! and River Raid by Activision. It's guts were the original circuitry of the 2600 all on one chip. This allowed the original code to run without emulation or porting.
The games were broken into 4 categories and suffered the oddity of having to hit the power button (reboot) to switch to another game.
In January (so much for the Christmas season) 2010 the Flashback 2+ was released and was very similar to it's predecessor. The game lineup was similar with the exception of removed Activision titles and an added group of sports games. Atari never excelled at sports titles.
Again a year passed and the Flashback 3 came out in the Fall of 2011 with 60 built-in games. Atari licensed Legacy Engineering's Flashback console & name to AtGames. The Flashback 3 goes back to emulation that runs on an ARM-based processor instead of Legacy's "2600-on-a-chip" found in the FB2 series. one nice facet is that the original Joystick and paddle controllers for the 2600 will work on the FB3.
Some borrow the original title, and perhaps the name of the main character, then churn out a game in the hopes of cashing in on name recognition.
Others carefully examine the original game and dutifully bring it's excitement, playability and fun to modern hardware allowing new technology to enhance the original.
Other times the re-boot concept intersects with Sherman & Mr. Peabody who take a new game into the WABAC Machine for an 8-bit retrograde.
We could rain down love & hate on the various attempts at making old games better, but we're currently much more interested in new games that have met the 8-bit mallet to have their anti-aliasing sheered off into pixelated delights. Halo on the Atari 2600, for example.
This isn't new news by any means. Halo 2600 (a Halo 2600 cart was even produced) was created in 2010 by Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP, who was involved in Microsoft's acquisition of Bungie. After reading Racing The Beam (great book, btw) he became interested in fiddling with the 6502 assembler language. Sometimes being limited offers a unique challenge - think about writing a novel with a third of the letter keys absent from your keyboard ;)
The result was a scaled back version of Halo. Take that Xbox!!
It was released at the 2010 CGE and the ROM can be downloaded or you can play it online. The point is: Halo exists for the Atari 2600 and we think that's insanely cool. For one, it's a modern game with an immense following. And it was scaled down and taken back 30 years to be played on the console that really led gaming into the mainstream.
Halo for Nintendo NES
Have you been to the 72-pins website? If not, head over and see how their unique blend of modern game titles and 8-bit art collide in these awesome retro carts with the latest PS3 and Xbox titles.
The best part of this art project is that the "canvas" is a real NES cartridge. It may say Dead Island or Halo on the artwork, but the carts are all functioning NES games. Order up a few and stuff em in your NES to see what classic titles lurk inside!
Vixen on the Atari ST, among other platforms, caused a stir in 1988 with what was considered a controversial box cover featuring Corinne Russell (model, dancer and Page Three Girl). Martech Games Limited in the UK created a platformer where Vixen was the last survivor on Granath and vowed to destroy the dinosaurs and restore mankind to the planet. The game was released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, IBM PC and ZX Spectrum. The title was altered to She • Fox for German release due to phonetically similar slang for masturbation.
Story arc from the manual: The planet Granath has been under siege for as long as the sky has met with the horizon, and for as long as the mountains have rolled into the distance.
For Granath, a world in a parallel universe many eons away, has been at the mercy of the dinosaurs. For millions of years they roamed the planet's surface and its massive underground caves in search of their prey. They have destroyed all but a few of the mammals, and all of the humans.
Or have they?
For a powerful lone female figure still stalks and battles with the reptiles. The cataclysmic catastrophe that hit the scaled beasts on Earth many millions of years ago has not happened here. It is a different world- very different.
VIXEN, found abandoned as a child and raised by the wily foxes, has magic powers bestowed on her by the Fox Sages. With her ability to metamorphize into a fox and her Magic Whip in hand, she is fierce, brave and a match for any of her foes.
The last survivor should consider herself lucky to have a spiffy jungle-print bikini after her planet has been decimated and she's poised to rise up and salvage humanity... by herself. So, anyway...
Despite retailer and activist groups protesting the box cover image, this game did offer noteworthy elements on the pixel'd side of things. For example: on some releases, the character-movement was particularly good due to the animation process used to animate the Vixen character. Despite a technical feat of on-screen motion, critics couldn't get past the cover/outfit. I'm hoping gaming journalists have since raised their tolerance when taking into account the outfits of today's M-rated games.
Keep in mind that this also pre-dated the insane commercialization of the internet as we know it today. In 88, if you were online, you were likely a Government employee or wading through Prodigy, Compuserve or Delphi at 2400 baud ;)
Search engines didn't exist to gather global content for anyone to sift through. Thus, it was long before "sex" had the opportunity to become a dominant search term. Despite this, mass media still put on a masquerade of outrage even when a visit to the town swimming pool would yield bikinis on public display.
The Sun tabloid newspaper first started printing topless girls on the 3rd page of it's publication November 1970. This popularized the term "Page Three Girls" and Corinne Russell, as "Vixen" on the cover of Your Sinclair mag, May 1988, was one of the Sun's most popular Page 3 girls.
Rather than being thankful she was wearing a top on the game's box cover, her Page Three appearances inflamed the controversy. Printing topless models on Page 3 lasted into the mid 80s (and beyond) and during that time the idea spread to many newspapers, even those claiming to be family-oriented publications.
It might also be relevant to the controversy that Corinne Russell appeared on the cover of OUI magazine in Jan 1984, High Society magazine in October of 1986 and was featured again in their May 1988 issue. She went on to also appear on the cover of Playboy (italy), January 1990. I imagine her presence on the Vixen game box got the controversy going, but her appearances in various adult publications probably fueled the criticism.
How many games come with a poster of the box cover? Not many. But when your box cover features a Page Three model, the gears start turning in marketing departments. The May 1988 issue of Your Sinclair magazine also offered a pull-out poster of the Vixen box art featuring Corinne Russell.
Today, it's hard to imagine a bikini causing controversy. The marketing mantra, "Sex Sells", has been around since people discovered sex and commerce :)
From the NewsHour website: The Obama campaign is using advertising in online video games to draw young (and some not-so-young) gamers to the polls. The campaign is running ads inside Electronic Arts Inc. online and mobile video games, including one of the franchises' most popular games, Madden NFL '13, and in mobile games including Battleship, Tetris and Scrabble.
While we feel this may reach out to a segment of voters that are rarely catered to, we believe the breadth of this reach shouldn't exclude retro gamers. Don't those of us who routinely wedge carts into slots need to know where candidates stand on the issues facing us? We applaud the Obama campaign for taking gamers seriously and offering the Democratic position to them as they shoot baskets, blast aliens and save the digital Earth.
In fairness to both parties, 8-Bit Central would be remiss in excluding a Republican mention.
We believe Romney is an idiot.
Super Fighter Team began taking pre-orders for Nightmare Busters in March 2012 and quickly sold out at ~$60 per cartridge. We're a bit "late to the party" with this news, but when discovering a new cart-based game for a defunct retro system... well, that's always newsworthy! :)
In a world of iOS ports and ROMS, the tactile delight of holding a cartridge and wiggling it gently into a console's slot seems like a distant memory. Sure, in the last few days I've done just that with my 2600, but that was with a cart of equal age. There's little satisfaction in seeing Namco Museum get sucked into the innards of my Wii, but a cart just feels right. Many of the home-brew games for the Atari 2600 come to light as ROMs. So, there's quite a bit of excitement when a home brew is released and released onto the original medium - a cartridge!
You can imagine the buzz when Boulder Dash came out for the Atari 2600. It was released (ver limited) on carts with a manual and full boxed packaging. It was like going to Toys R Us in the 80's and seeing 2600 games adorning the shelves. Gotta love that!
Boulder Dash has seen several other platforms, but seeing it come out on a cart is a rare wonder. Seeing Nightmare Busters come to the Nintendo SNES is a wonderful broadening of that platform in the modern era.
It's always exciting to hear of a "new" cart release because it brings gaming back to the original hardware we loved to huddle over for endless hours as kids. ROMs are a great way to experience a rare title or any game you don't own, but being able to play games on vintage hardware is what retro gaming is all about - fond memories and times when life was less hectic. As gaming makes new leaps in technology, never forget that these phenomenal achievements evolved from 4K of storage, a joystick and one fire button. You have to hop a little before you can soar ;)
Is hardware in short supply? Did GameStop reach an allocation allotment?
Then this curious email arrives in which GameStop seems more than happy to add my name (as a Power-Up Rewards Member) to a waiting list - for free. While they won't guarantee a delivery date or even any guarantee that you'll be able to enjoy this new game console in 2012, they will add me to the list.
Um... I'm a bit worried and I'm not convinced they have me covered.
TANSTAAFL is a basic economic premise that tends to always hold true. There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - for those who didn't latch onto this one in Econ 101.
I'm quite certain many of us will wake one day with an overwhelming urge and decide that today is the day - "I'm buying a Wii U!" As this isn't an orchestrated calendar event, but rather a random urge, I'm guessing there will be a lot of walk-ins who want to share the joy of a new Wii U. So what is this wait list accomplishing? Does it give priority?
All I can figure it it will drive dormant registrants back to their Power-Up Rewards account online. I hate being such a skeptic, but should WalMart have Wii U stock before GameStop I'm pretty sure my allegiance will align with the retailer who has inventory on-hand when my urge hits.
One of it's classic hallmarks was it's cooperative play modes both in arcades and the NES release. The Contra Code became renown in the gaming community because it was one of the few ways (along with a friend in co-op mode) to finish the game. The sequence of key-inputs took on a life of it's own as it has been used in many Konami games - some with variants tacked onto the end. However, the NES version of Contra was one of the earliest games to use the Konami Code, which originated with the NES version of Gradius.
The code and it's similarity across many Konami titles was implemented for testing purposes. This code allowed testers to move through the game and verify elements without having to continually endure the challenge of the game. This was particularly true with Contra which is thought of as one of the hardest games!
These cheat codes - the Contra Code in particular - have become so prominent and integrated that the NES keystrokes they originated from have been ported to other controllers, like the Wii that use the 1 and 2 buttons in place of A and B. If you download Gradius from WiiWare, you can still use the code. It's near pop-culture status finds it bleeding over into other games not even made by Konami - even a few mobile ones on iOS.
Next time you hear a reference to Up Up Down Down, we hope it makes you want to grab a buddy and relive the nearly impossible task of surviving Contra on the NES!
William Von Meister had a modem and a great idea. As cable TV became prominent in many households, he figured there must be other things that can be pumped down that cable. Music seemed like a winner since the cable companies had physical conduits (the actual cables) into many homes. However, just like today, legal issue crept in and left Von Meister with a slick delivery system and no deliverable content.
In the early 80s, he switched gears and took to the phone lines. Compuserve had been operating since 1979 via a command line interface in the 2400 baud range (Yikes!). Five years later Prodigy would deliver similar speed with a pseudo-GUI.
Removing the mailman from the delivery scenario was in it's infancy, but was beginning to take off.
Von Meister merged the fledgeling modem market-penetration with the popularity of the Atari 2600 game console. By developing a 2600 cartridge that functioned as a modem - complete with a phone-jack on the sie - he was able to connect individual households with a central repository of downloadable games for the Atari 2600. Control Video Corporation was the hub of the operation to which 2600s would connect.
A yearly membership fee and pin number allowed connection to then select and pay for individual games. As we know the 2600 had no storage, so games could be played a limited number of times (I've heard anywhere from 5 o 10 plays before another download was necessary. Of course turning off the game console was also quick end to further play. It seems to me that this scenario was an early version of the try-before-you-buy notion. I'm not sure how much merit this sort of system has. You may recall a similar attempt by DIVX (Digital Video Express) to create an alternate DVD rental system in 1998 by Circuit City and a law firm. CVC turned the 2600 into a rental mechanism just as DIVX tried to do the same to DVD players (proprietary models). Say, didn't Circuit City go under in 2009? Hmmm.
The GameLine really had a bold vision vision as a download service, because nothing like that really existed and modems were few and far between in many homes. They also offered an interesting selection of games despite not being able to sign any of the big heavy-weights of the game industry. They even had an exclusive GameLine title called, Save The Whales, which was to contribute proceeds to Green Peace.
The strategy behind GameLine was to penetrate households, then offer additional services like email, stock quotes and news. The Crash of 1983 brought on the demise of turning the Atari 2600 into an early download device. Don't fret over the folks at CVC... they went on to become America Online.
Next time you're watching a YouTube video and it stalls a bit due to bandwidth, just be glad you're not trying to download "Save The Whales" from CVC's GameLine.
The folks at Wild Mouse Films seem to know this feeling well! They're making a film that recreates that 1982-era childhood angst of getting what you want whether it was an Atari console or that cute girl in your math class.
This sounds like a pretty cool film and I'm sure you (like myself) would love to see it.
No longer are your being shuttled around in Dad's Plymouth Valiant, wearing bad plaid or wondering why there's an orange deep-pile shag rug covering the living room floor (my 70s childhood). It's 2012 and we're in the midst of the internet age! This being the case, you have the opportunity say you had a hand in making this film happen!!
Check out the Christmas Bytes Kickstarter campaign and see if it doesn't inspire you to reminisce about your childhood holidays. Support them if you can. The world needs a new Christmas film that speaks to Retro Gamers!
Retro 8-bit holiday movie, Christmas Bytes, by Wild Mouse Films
Nintendo is capitalizing on his 20th anniversary with the Wii release of Kirby's Dream Collection. It comes as a deluxe version with 6 games spanning systems from the GameBoy to the N64. It comes the a CD soundtrack and a collectible book.
The CD contains 45 tracks of various Kirby tunes from his many adventures. The book is 40 pages of art, sketches and behind the scenes stuff. The six Kirby games alone make this a pretty sweet deal, unless you already own them all. At the same time, it's pretty sweet to have Kirby's greatest hits, from a variety of consoles, all neatly packaged on one disc.
September 15, 2012
Ouya is manufacturing the 1st factory-made prototype to test design assumptions
I can't say "Bringing new products to market" is an extensive part of my daily experience, but the Ouya team say they are well under way toward meeting their March 2013 shipping date of their new gaming console to Kickstarter backers and pre-order customers. I'm really excited about getting an Ouya despite the very tight timeline they've given themselves. However, I am a tad currious about this line in the last update on their Kickstarter page:
We're manufacturing our first factory-made prototype to test our design assumptions.
That sounds a little dubious or perhaps late-in-the-game. I was rather hoping they were past the "I hope this thing works" phase. As stated I don't know much about product development, so I'm eager to see if their assumptions prove true and the console doesn't overheat in 3 minutes or have a two foot Wifi access radius.
Here's hoping my mailbox is packed full of Ouya's Android lust in March!
September 13, 2012
Does Retro Gaming feel like an exclusive club? Try being an over-priced mustard
I get a certain sense of glee every time I fire up my Atari 2600 and see the intro-screen of my preferred game d'jour appear before me. My glee comes from knowing that this beloved piece of hardware used to sit in front of our living room TV when I was 12 years old. Still works to this day and the games are still a blast to play!
This almost makes me feel as though I'm part of an elite club whose members carefully tend to gaming relics and take pride in their proper operation alongside more modern consoles of similar purpose.
Such grandeur might even compel someone to try soliciting mustard from fellow road travelers while stopped at a traffic light. A Grey Poupon mustard ad from the 80's featured a gentleman leaning out of his chauffeur driven Rolls Royce in an attempt to garner some mustard from a neighboring vehicle.
As a retro gamer, I can relate to that. I'll often scarf a sandwich in the car as I travel from yard sales to flea markets rescuing dusty gaming artifacts. However as a seasoned collector of retro oddities, I've never made a sandwich and forgotten the condiments! I'm a pro. I don't play around.
Buying tonages of game carts for a dollar is hard work and adequate sustenance is mandatory for success. You can't always count on finding a Taco Bell on the way to a dusty field full of card tables displaying video gaming's lost history. Bringing a sandwich can mean the difference between haggling the price down and paying too much because you were fucking hungry. Amateurish! Bring Food - Buy Wisely!
The elitist nature of the proprietors of Grey Poupon mustard have salvaged their snobbery from the 80's and brought it to the digital age via Facebook. They've just launched their "Society of Good Taste" campaign in which the traditional functionality of the "Like" button is altered to allow only the most discerning Mus-Tards to be a part of the GP news feed. To join the yellow-fun, you must apply via an app that will scan your interests, friends and posts to assign a score. From this score, the GP Nation will determine whether to grant you entry. Simply clicking the "Like" button will render you banished from the spice-fest - you have to use their app.
While I can appreciate the sarcastic tongue-in-cheek humor of the campaign, the bottom line is you have to meet some imaginary criteria. This exemplifies the elitist nature that their traditional advertising has conveyed over the years, but from a Marketing position, this seems like a risky way to gain attention. In an age where everyone is fumbling for friends, followers, likes and pins, disallowing folks seems like a bad move - even in jest.
Have I taken the mustard challenge for acceptance? Oh Hell no!
When I shop for mustard with a fiver, I'm expecting at least $3 in change. My mustard comes in a squeeze bottle and is carelessly splashed across the length of several hot dogs. This is hardly fitting behavior of anyone seeking membership in the GP Good Taste tribe.
This is a risky way to attract attention particularly when exclusion is a possibility and there are hoards of commoners, like myself, quite eager to blog about this as a reminder that... It's just fuckin' mustard!
September 13, 2012
GameStop ramps up for the Wii U launch via pre-orders
Nintendo fanatics seem as amped about the Wii U launch as GameStop was to take pre-orders! Rumors began to fly that they had already sold out of the Deluxe 32GB model. The screen shot from the GS website seems to confirm this, although your local GameStop may have some wiggle-room in the matter.
I'm amped to stuff one of these boxes under my TV as well, but in all likelihood, I'll go out the day after Christmas in search of a really cheap Wii - I'm dying to get a black one! Yeah, I know - I'm a retailer's nightmare :)
September 12, 2012
Virgin Gaming is featuring another video game contest. This time for EA Sports
I love video games and am all for a good challenge - a FAIR challenge. You know, a contest should be based on skills, ability or some tangible and quantifiable measurement. Otherwise you wind up with a popularity contest where the winner is chosen in secrecy by a few suits sitting around a conference table with the Polycom dialed into their Marketing Director.
Why the sour attitude on my part...?
Remember Maxim's Gamer Girl contest?
Let's review the rounds of the Maxim Gamer Girl contest. Some of you WOW fans may be familiar with Panser's (TradeChat) YouTube channel where she is followed by 120,000+ fans. During the first round of the Gamer Girl contest she exceeded 60,000K votes while second and third place contestants couldn't achieve 8K votes. She seemed destined to win and I was stoked that a real gamer was so far in the lead.
During this round vote tallies were displayed and voters simply had to surrender their email address to sign up and vote. The second round arrived with the vote tallies now hidden from public view - curious. I was certain Panser's fan-base would come through and deliver an insane amount of votes. I'm guessing they did as she made it to the finals competing against 2 other girls.
In the end, it was pointed out that despite the online voting (which you assume would help determine the winner), Maxim would choose a winner at their discretion. The outcome seemed weighted toward choosing a girl with more Playboy-appeal. No disrespect to Maxim's winner, but I'm a bit pissed that 60K votes seemingly meant nothing and Maxim still sends me idiotic emails. I really need to unsub from Maxim's list - if possible.
September 10, 2012
Trading in games has come a long way, but the customer still loses in the "for-profit" model
These days it's hard to trade in a fairly new game and not feel somewhat cheated. The used game market has become an established concept with an expectation of profit - for the retailer, not you. Still it's not uncommon to walk into a GameStop and see a kid with an armload or box full of games to trade in. I suspect much of the used game market comes from kids with a strong desire to buy the latest greatest game title and are willing to part with numerous titles to achieve the $60 bar necessary for purchase.
This EB trad-in flyer from back in the day shows how different trade-ins were from today's standard. It states there is no cash value only trade in value and the used titles must not exceed the new game purchased. Can you imagine? lol
Further, EB didn't want multiples of the same title and it MUST have the manual. How many used games today are missing manuals - 60 - 70%? Most importantly, the flyer says the games must be in working condition. I can't begin to count all the used titles I've returned to GameStop because they were so badly damaged, the drive won't read them - not even with all the error correction that's built into these devices. They also stipulate all new game sales are final when negotiated via trade-ins.
My how things have changed. The used game market operates in a "for profit" mode complete with built-in margins per title. I'd love to have an inside view on how GameStop sets used game prices and what factors effect that decision.
It seems as if it's owners are calling "Fail" and moving on to a format they feel will be competitive with Spike. I think their gaming & tech shows have a lot of value in that demographic. If the powers that be feel a rebirth is necessary, why not cary over their successful shows?
I loved G4 for it's role in giving video gaming a public face on TV. Where else could you get game and tech updated on TV? Their coverage of E3 always kept me glued to the tube as it was the only way for me to experience the insider-only event. Much of it's programming left much to be desired, but it did a lot for gaming and I feel there is still a niche that needs to be filled. Gamers need a medium, other than the flat-screens festooned around GameStops to tap into the innards of gaming.
I felt the same way when C|net's TV offerings went away. There was a void that they filled well. I enjoyed their web and tech shows despite it being the beginning of Ryan Seacrest's assault on those who owned TVs. He was their "cyber guy" on C|Net Central from 1996 - 1999. He always seemed to have scripted lines as opposed to tech knowledge which falls in line with his current public existence. :)
September 7, 2012
Promotional oddities: Buy 4 tires... get a free Wii... from Kevin Butler?
Bridgestone Tires are running a promotion where buying 4 tires can net you a $70 AMEX reward card or a Nintendo Wii console. OK - sounds good, but wouldn't this have been a better promo in 2006 or 2007? A Wii... now? Stranger still is the TV commercial itself. Um, yeah... that is Kevin Butler (actor, Jerry Lambert who was Sony's PS3 pitchman for several years) Sony's VP of Everything.
Still this seems like it's a little late in the life cycle of the Wii to be offering it as a promo item. It's still more valuable than the $70 card, but a 5+ year old gaming console seems like an odd promo item.
I'm all for video game promotions, especially when they're seemingly unrelated... like tires and a Wii. It puts "gaming" in front of those who might otherwise not have been paying attention. I guess the Mario Kart tie-in works, but it always catches me off guard when an actor changes roles and I still want to believe in the former role.
I think the real problem here is I really want a black Wii, but I bought new tires a few months ago. Dammit! :)
News of Roddick's retirement is such a blow to tennis. He was bold, outspoken and one of the most consistently good players. He strikes me as the sort of guy that'd be hella fun to chill with over a beer or two.
Maria's comeback and win over Bartolli today is equally inspiring. She's such a fighter and always delivers when the going gets tough. I'm pretty stoked to see her advance... not to mention her inclusion in Virtua Tennis 4.
I get a tweet on my phone... with a link. Holy shit - GameStop is contemplating entering the vintage game market!
My mind reels with the possibilities. It would be pretty cool to have a mainstream corporation deliver a jolt of recognition to retro gaming. On the other hand, this could skew pricing quite significantly - GameStop wouldn't go down this road if it didn't see profits on the horizon (or closer).
GameStop CEO Paul Raines has revealed to Polygon in an interview at the first ever GameStop Expo that the company is considering selling "vintage" games on their website. "We've got them," Raines said. We're picturing a warehouse like in Raiders of the Lost Ark. "We think there's a vintage sales opportunity, so we're accumulating some inventory. It's a big idea, and there's a few problems with it. The first one is sourcing the product, the condition, the refurbishment, all that stuff. But there's a customer for it. And we're working on some stuff we haven't announced yet."
This notion of buying retro games from a retailer brings me back to my Funcoland days when the walls were lined with NES titles and I could wander from aisle to aisle grabbing all the games I couldn't previously afford in 1985. And my local EB was chock full of discounted retro carts from systems they no longer sold. Ahh, those were the days!
The child in me has visions of entering my local GameStop to find the racks full of 5200, Coleco, Genesis and Intellivision carts, but the schooled adult knows better. This scenario would pan out on the GameStop website and probably be limited to Fifth gen stuff like N64 and PS1 fare.
The more I think about it, I'm excited of the prospect that retro gaming might gain some needed attention and recognition, but the price could be the collapse of the traditional retro gaming market. Prices would get skewed, beloved games would be hoarded in corporate warehouses and those who grew up loving these games would be left with a retro market that's as plagued as a midnight release of a $60 game requiring $40 of DLC and isn't much fun or valuable in 2 weeks time.
All in all, I'd probably be happier if the manic insanity of retro gaming remained the best kept secret of those who love 8-bit games for the sheer joy of playing them... with a couple of beers :)
Then in the post-game interview, she's asked about her new candy company. Candy company? WTF? As Maria put it, "Everyone loves candy. How can you go wrong?" At which point I have to agree... which leads to a quick Google search to find out what this is all about.
Apparently Gummy Bears are passe and require a modern reboot in a variety of new shapes - in this case, tennis balls. OK, I like the tennis ball candy - clever tie-in. She's a sweetheart and I hope this succeeds for her because the millions she reaps from her tennis fame won't last forever. OK, it might.
I smirk at the notion of GameStop having a Back To School sale since it's hard to imagine needing a copy of Borderlands 2 or Lollipop Chainsaw to be properly prepared for the upcoming school year. But I'd rather tackle the new semester with Juliet Starling than this...
This gem found it's way to my in-box and I won't go into the lurid details of how that may have happened, but it makes me wonder how many college bound freshmen are heading off to campus with a pocket-pussy. Isn't the point of going away to school to meet real girls?
August 25, 2012
RIP Neil Armstrong - The first man to walk on the moon
When ever someone says to me, "That's impossible!" I always reply by stating. "Man walked on the moon in 1969 and I've never encountered a problem I couldn't solve with duct tape and a stun-gun. Somewhere in between lies our solution."
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
It's hard to believe Neil Armstrong has passed. When someone achieves something so monumental, we tend to think they're somehow immortal. Alas, this is not how life works.
I have a set of DVDs containing all of Walter Cronkite's coverage of NASA's evolution to the moon. It's amazing to realize the timeframe in which that became a reality. Today, the Space Shuttle makes regular trips to the International Space Station which rarely gets any coverage in the news media. We accept it as a normal occurrence without really admiring the history leading up to this ability. Random billionaires are putting up capital to create "space adventures" for others suffering from too-much-money.
When I look at the celebrities of today, they are predominantly actors, musicians and athletes. Are these our heros? As inspiring as they can be, I hope today's youth understands the difference between a good movie, a hit song, a touchdown and being able to see the curvature of the Earth from the surface of the Moon.
I think we need to raise the bar on who we deem a Hero.
Dial up a company that will deliver a truck/trailer full of gaming right to your door. This is the first "mobile" gaming business I've heard of that doesn't involve the tiny screen on your smart phone. Rolling Video Games will bring a game truck with 4 TVs and allows play by up to 16 people on today's gaming consoles - Wii, PS3 and xBox.
The set-up has the TVs on one wall of the truck's length and seating against the opposite wall. Doesn't sound any more claustrophobic than the average arcades I spent my youth in.
This operation even comes with a "Game Coach" who keeps the party going and helps players with game strategies and mechanics. That's the sort of gig I'd like to add to my resume. Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun!
This is a franchise operation in which I guess all you need is some cash and a vehicle capable of towing a trailer full of gaming hardware. I suppose a desire to work a lot of nights and be able to maneuver a trailer out from a dead-end street when you realize how fallible GPS really is at the consumer level.
A Retro Gaming Business Model
As a retro gamer, I have to say I'd rather see a business model in which a trailer full of vintage arcade cabinets pulls up to my house. Load a semi full of Donkey Kong, Defender, Berzerk, Wizard of Wor, Dig Dug, Rampage and the other perennial favorites found in any true 80's arcade. Dropping that scene in my yard would be awesome.
I have enough modern gaming consoles to satiate my console gaming desires. But I'm a a little short on in-house arcade cabinets. THAT would be a service I'd gladly pay for and I'm sure someone is doing it. I just have to find them :)
Many thanks to my buddy Rob (who was the technical genius behind our homebrew joysticks) for calling me as soon as he saw one of these game trucks barreling down a local highway.
Sporting synthesis hardware based on of classic gaming systems and a 128-note range - along with strap hooks for guitar-like positioning - and traditional 5-pin MIDI & USB MIDI, you can use the Pianocade to control other instruments, or use external sequencers and controllers to play the Pianocade.
All of the Pianocade hardware, firmware, and software is open source and designed for easy hacking for those preferring to customize the experience. Equipped with 1/4" headphone and line outs, this is no toy - it's an instrument!
Then another copy arrives at Medium Bob's Curiosity Shop in Philadelphia, PA. The folks there posted a game-play video and have gone much farther in verifying they have the real deal. Apparently they are taking offers on it, but it's unclear how a sale might really go down.
Numerous netizens are crying bullshit, demanding proof of ownership - which is a clever way of saying, "Please release the ROM file so I can play it." However, the lack of a downlaodable ROM file make many suspicious about it's actual existence.
A gem of this sort would likely find it's way to someone who could extract the ROM from the cart's eProm and share it with the retro community who are chomping at the bit at the possibility of loading this rarity into Stella. I'm certain the game play is horrible and not worthy of more than 3 or minutes of play. But I will admit, like many retro gamers, that I'd gladly donate those few minutes to add Red Sea Crossing to my game play resume :)
Produced in 1983 by Steve Slack under the name Inspirational Video Concepts, Red Sea Crossing was sold via mail order from Arizona.
August 21, 2012
RIP Nintendo Power Magazine: the only mag I looked forward to reading cover-to-cover
I was devastated to read that Nintendo Power Magazine is shutting it's doors. It was my favorite gaming mag and I truly looked forward to every issue and read them cover-to-cover. Most gaming media - including the web - is very Sony & Microsoft centric and almost treat Nintendo as a novelty toy company. The big boys never seem to give Nintendo the recognition they deserve.
I always wondered what connection the mag had to Nintendo Ltd and if there was some bias in the mix, but they were the only print source offering positive and reliable Nintendo info. I loved their reviews and introspective looks at game series, characters and overarching themes. Nintendo Power offered something different from all the other mags. I especially liked their micro reviews of WiiWare and Virtual Console releases.
The first issue published in July/August 1988, highlighted Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES. Since then Nintendo Power Magazine enjoyed 20 years as a Nintendo published entity, but sadly the magazine is shutting down ( according to reports from Ars Technica).
In 2007 Nintendo contracted publishing to Future US, the U.S. subsidiary of British publisher Future, continuing it's 24 year run as one of the longest published gaming magazines in the US. Relationships seem to have broken down resulting in dropping the NP brand and ceasing publication.
--begin eBook diatribe--
As time marches forward, more and more people recite the mantra that "print is dead". Ultimately that may prove true, but there's something awesome about grabbing a mag and reading it anywhere you want. Kindles and Nooks are swell, but they simply digitize the analog characteristics of the analog medium. They offer no more than the ability to view the same content on a screen.
They offer no cross-volume search or any of the advances one would expect of a new digital format. Some replicate page turns - are you kidding me? WTF!?! If you want to rob me of my analog pulp in hand, at least enable the the digital impostor to perform tasks worthy of ruining the publishing business. I love books, so if you claim to be modernizing the experience - give me something new. Allow me to do things that take advantage of the digital age.
eBooks and digital publications have gravitated toward cost savings. Distributing a magazine via iPad simply puts it's access that much closer to eCommerce and my credit card info. I understand the need to cut costs, but I feel digital publishing is about boosting profits, not delivering a better product. Until book and magazine publishers decide to spend the necessary capital to make digital versions open, interactive and reciprocal - I want nothing to do with them. --end eBook diatribe--
RIP Nintendo Power. You were my favorite gaming magazine and stood out beyond the myriad of web sites.
The Flashbacks did give gamers the ability to easily relive their Atari childhoods, but there was something off about those mini consoles. Still, it's pretty cool to see such a retro comeback in the form of rabid fans who desperately wanted to play Combat and Yar's Revenge. Not too many companies have that sort of loyal following.
Retro is a wacky concept with very fickle guidelines. Some old stuff is awesome while other old stuff is simply waiting to be tossed in the trash. It can be hard to tell junk from gold - especially when the criteria is fairly subjective.
Over here, we find value in anything that's old and game-related. Discovering that the NeoGeo is making a 20th anniversary comeback is astonishing news! How many vintage gaming platforms come back to modern retail markets where cash is king and profit dominates the landscape? Very few.
The NeoGeo arrived in 1990 in two formats - one for arcades and one for homes. As arcade owners battled against limited floor space the Neo Geo Multi Video System (MVS) came along with the ability to use plug-in boards to put 6 games in one arcade cabinet. These games could then be linked to any JAMMA (Japan Amusement Machinery Manufacturers Association) compliant boards. At the same time home console fans got the Advanced Entertainment System (AES).
Tommo, Inc., in partnership with SNK PLAYMORE, say the NeoGeo X Gold will arrive in December 2012, below $200, as a handheld console with a charging/docking station that allows output to a TV (HDMI or RCA) as well as connection of the included joystick.
It comes with 20 pre-installed games: 3 COUNT BOUT, LEAGUE BOWLING, ART OF FIGHTING II, MAGICIAN LORD, ALPHA MISSION II, METAL SLUG, BASEBALL STARS II, MUTATION NATION, CYBER LIP, NAM 1975, FATAL FURY, PUZZLED, FATAL FURY SPECIAL, REAL BOUT - FATAL FURY SPECIAL, THE KING OF FIGHTERS '95, SAMURAI SHODOWN II, KING OF THE MONSTERS, SUPER SIDEKICKS, LAST RESORT, WORLD HEROES PERFECT.
Naturally one wonders if it is limited to the 20 built-in games or if there's a way for retro fanatics to introduce their personal collections into it. I imagine it follows the Atari Flashback scenario in which what you see, is what you get.
Either way the NeoGeo X seems like a slick idea with plenty of retro goodness packed into it.
Their URL redirected to their Kickstarter page during the campaign. Now it's become their official site, but contains next to no info. There's a link to pre-order, but I'm not sure how successful that will be for anyone visiting the site seeking more info.
I'm sure they are incredibly busy, but this sparse site makes me wonder what's going on. There is no mention of tech specs, partnership info or onboard developer listings. I'm hoping the site is in a pre-launch phase, but the lack of info on the most public-facing tool they have worries me about my March '13 delivery. Maybe they're putting all their effort into the console. Yeah, that must be it. I hope.
Who wouldn't love to see Jenna Haze writhing with an Atari 2600 joystick in hand or Alexa Lynn's face buried in a VirtualBoy? Could it be possible that such splendors might exist in the "anything goes" world of adult video? Is there a porn director out there with a penchant for gaming and trying to incorporate it into a skin-flick? Might Terra Patrick be reaching into a childhood full of Nintendo bliss and melding it with her adult career? Alas... No.
The catchy title (to gamers like us) is simply a gimmick that doesn't really pan out in the film itself. Gamer girls come in all shapes and sizes and some of them are actually porn stars - in addition to accountants, attorneys and IT specialists - but none of them are in this movie. It's just porn stars doing the porn star thing. It was so sparse on gaming we had to slap a little retro gaming influence on the cover shot.
This flick is definitely not getting any high scores :)
August 17, 2012
A recent trip to PetSmart taught me that retro gaming is everywhere
I stopped by PetSmart with my son to add some Ghost Shrimp to our fish tank (those guys on Tanked make it look pretty easy) and he saw a sign for Pac-Man Frogs. Since he's being raised with an appreciation for retro games, he was very excited when he saw this mention!
OK, I added the Namco logo...
Apparently this frog's namesake comes from it's unusually large mouth and abdomen - making the name "Pac-Man Frog" a reference to Namco's renown yellow dot :)
August 14, 2012
The world's most interesting man needs an Atari 2600
Jonathan Goldsmith is "the world's most interesting man" as seen in the Dos Equis beer ads, produced by the marketing firm Euro RSCG for Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery. He's taken on quite a viral role on the web and we felt it was time he preferred some Retro Gaming.
It was under an open-air tent along with a crane-game and a pinball machine. It was only protected from direct sunlight. Heat and humidity are abundant here in the summer - not to mention the salt-air climate of the ocean. This can't be good for a vintage arcade cabinet that seemed to be in pretty good condition with original side-art.
I casually asked one of the go-kart attendants if this game was out here all the time. He thought so but had no idea what to say when I suggested the heat and humidity was probably baking the internal PCB among other things. He didn't seem to concerned about it. After a quick race around the track we went inside where I asked one of the owners about the preservation of the Ms. Pac-Man cabinet and the outdoor conditions. He shrugged and said it was really old and didn't get much play in the indoor air-conditioned arcade.
I began thinking I should find a hand-truck and rescue that poor cabinet from the heat. At which point it seemed to me there should be a rescue organization I could call who would dispatch a team to remove the cabinet from these atrocious conditions, fine the owners and find a proper home for Ms. Pac-Man. Had that cabinet been a pet in a hot car, then someone would have cared.
FYI - arcade cabinets make excellent pets. Pure fun - No poop!
August 10, 2012
Sizing up the Ouya gaming console - its a matter of inches & letters
I'm pretty excited to see what sort of shake-up the Ouya will create when it's existence is more prominent. Ask anyone about the current state of video games and they'll likely expound about Sony and Microsoft with a slight reference to Nintendo. [Of course we all know Nintendo is renown for creating products that confuse consumers, but later become hailed as revolutionary.]
Those in the know have all sorts of questions about the Ouya - and rightly so! There isn't a lot of info flowing out there. a minor query, but one that was on my mind was it's actual size. When looking at the released photos, it looked like it was very compact, but without any sort of scale - who knows! I t could be the size of a breadbox!! lol.
The photo with the hand shown for scale relieves me that it won't be another behemoth of a console. At the same time, they also released a pic defining how the buttons would be labeled - letters and colors.
I'm glad they didn't go with the over used A,B, X & Y. However I was hoping for something a little more inspiring than the letters of the product name. Something a little more clever would have set it apart - even symbols or pictograms. But I'm just hoping this project comes to fruition and one of those little cubes shows up on my door step in March 2013!
He still loves to play Berzerk and Food Fight along with a few new Wii games we picked up, but when it comes to being a retro dad, I had to get out my Murray Chopper for our bike rides. I'm not sure what the neighbors think seeing us zooming around, but I'm quite certain we're having more fun.
My parents always bought me sensible bikes when I was a kid, so when I grew up I saturated my life with all the wacky stuff they didn't deem fit. A chopper bicycle was atop both our lists - I wanted one and they thought better of it. I'll admit it's not a very practical ride, but it oozes style in large quantities.
I'm not sure what my son will think of this when he's older and wiser, but I hope he remembers his dad was Hella fun! Being a kid is the most fun I've ever had. I'm sure this is why I ride a chopper bicycle and play games like I'm still in an 80s arcade! Play hard!
They also confirmed that OnLive will suport their launch. OnLive delivers top-tier video games on demand to your TV, PC, Mac or tablet.
Top View of the Ouya game console.
July 26, 2012
My local movie theater - of all places - has a Pac-Man Galaga combo arcade cabinet
Last Summer I visited my favorite arcade where I spent untold number of quarters each Summer when I was a kid. It was still there! Granted, much of it's floor space was lost to indoor bumper cars, but it had enough cabinets to still qualify as an arcade in this day and age. Back in the corner I found a functioning Donkey Kong cabinet and I had to wonder if this was the same machine I commanded in my youth. I Immediately challenged my 6-year old to a game, even though he wasn't as impressed with it's historic value as I was. A great experience was had that day.
In the same vicinity, we discovered (this Summer) that our local movie theater has a Pac-Man Galaga combo arcade cabinet. Certainly not as vintage as our Donkey Kong find, I LOVE Galaga and was on it like a bum on a baloney sandwich! There's something special about standing in front of that cabinet, complete with familiar Galaga side-art, that simply can't be replicated by gaming consoles or ROMs. Arcades rule!
My son appreciates the variations of R-Type that we play on the SNES and Wii (via Virtual Console) as well as the satisfaction of discovering a new hat in Skylanders. In addition to the multitude of SpongeBob games we have on GameCube & Wii, he still wants to play Food Fight on the 7800 or Berzerk on the Atari 800. He's at a great age where fun is fun and stigma is a foreign word & concept. I hope he keeps growing up with a healthy interest in games from today and those I grew up with.
We sometimes stop into this movie theater just to play Pac-Man and Galaga... we always play Galaga first! :)
Ideally, we'd like to see Maxim's first ever Gamer Girl contest winner be a real gamer-girl. If she happens to also look like a Playboy model that's fine, but the winner should be a gamer. By allowing the public to cast votes on their website, it leads one to believe that the winner will be the one who garners the most votes. But you need to read the RULES were you will discover obtuse wording that seems to equate to Maxim choosing the winner - not your votes.
I mention this because Danielle (aka: TradeChat on Twitter and YouTube) was 50,000+ votes ahead of everyone else. She was at 50K votes when I made this screenshot on May 14, 2012. I caught this screenshot because I was coincidentally #50,000 :)
She rose above 60K by the end of the round. She's very established and renown in the gaming community with a massive following on YouTube. She seemed like a natural fit for the Gamer Girl title and she had a ton of votes at the close of the first round. Then came round 2 where suddenly the vote tally for each contestant was no longer shown. I wondered why they would suddenly hide the tallies.
So, when Maxim announced the winner of their Gamer Girl Contest in July, I was shocked that it was NOT TradeChat! The non-display of round 2 votes and the unlikely notion that the 60,000 prior voters forgot about Danielle makes me wonder. Ah... back to the rules... which essentially seem to indicate that Maxim was choosing the winner, not your votes.
How clever - I'm forced to give them my email address to sign up and be able to vote in a contest where votes don't seem to benefit the winner. I wonder how many companies my address has been sold to thus far?
All this makes me wonder what the winning criteria was based upon. Perhaps a look at the contestants will shed some light on this mystery. Maxim's Gamer Girl winner Kaitlin has the Playmate look nailed. Similarly, TradeChat exudes the look of a gamer and she's damn cute too. If I were to hazard a guess, it might be that Maxim took the PR approach and picked the Playmate-look to parade around as eye candy for their various promos. Again, I don't say this to demean Kaitlin - she may be perfect for the role. I feel duped by Maxim's Gamer Girl contest and the numbers don't add up. Oh yeah... the rules.
Maybe TradeChat wasn't considered for the winning role since she's already THE Gamer Girl!
July 24, 2012
Google acts disinterested in fixing YouTube's many flaws & fails as functionality circles the drain
YouTube is verging on being a useless tool for me. It's navigation is pathetic leaving the user experience close to zero. Never mind the labyrinth of settings and multiple screens and windows that open like porno pop-ups gone mad... Does Google have any interest in YouTube? Will they ever fix its many fails and flaws? The HELP screens are out of date and offer little relevance to the actual layout and workings (or non-workings) of YouTube.
Then they stir in Google Plus. Google+ is like a gym membership - lots of people have one, but very few use it.
I'm angry that many simple features have simply stopped working and my numerous reporting of these issues go unanswered and un-fixed. This is customer service at it's worst!
Here are the latest things that now cease to function:
The tie-in to Twitter has failed and won't automate simple things like tweeting uploads, likes and other background things it used to do!
I can't reply to any comments made to my channel or individual videos. Clicking the button does nothing!
My age is wrong, but worse the "Hide" option does NOTHING.
I thought about setting up a new account, but it was such an awful user experience, I said forget it - especially after discovering the same flaws existed in the new account. I suspect Google's ploy with YouTube is to purposely entangle people into registering for Google+ account and the equally unnecessary Gmail accounts. If only they's spend some effort fixing what's broken rather than trapping us in their unnecessary nonsense.
But what if your audio solution was so stunningly cool that irritated onlookers couldn't help but tolerate your noise?
In an effort to extend the life of their package branding, the folks at Pringles potato chips decided their delicious message was far too valuable to end up in the trash. Breaking the mould of the familiar "bag", Pringles are packaged in a can. Sometimes novelty works.
Their current ploy is allowing stackable-chip connoisseurs to convert their empty Pringles cans into a rudimentary audio speaker. In exchange for Proof of purchase, they will send you an audio speaker fashioned into a resealable lid with an attached audio cable. Those who relish hi-fidelity will insist that a cheap speaker clamped to an old can is no way to listen to music and I'm certain Bose has confirming research. But such people lack the ability to see genius in the absence of dollar signs.
I think the novelty of this speaker is pretty cool and will stoke a few interesting conversations. As for the fidelity, I'm sure it's similar to yelling into a sheet of wax paper, but if you're rocking some retro games on your Caanoo then this can speaker should invigorate your inner gamer. When friends scoff at your trash-tastic sound system, just wait until some cute girl comes over to talk to you. Tell your friend to go try this trick with his bag of chips!
July 22, 2012
Colorado tragedy spurs instant blame rather than solutions
Immediately following the tragic shooting rampage in Aurora, Colorado politicians, activists and random morons began the blame game. We live in a society of finger-pointers, where leaders and thinkers are in a vast minority.
Entirely lacking shame, these nuts launched their attacks (blame) on the usual suspects:
Violent video games
I'm always stunned that no one wants to ban psychopaths or find a more appropriate way to identify those with mental deficiencies. Apparently psychopaths are free to roam around as long as we ban anything that they could use to do harm. In a country where no one can resolve (or afford) healthcare, its hard to identify the mentally ill when they would have to pay for their own diagnosis. Most of these looneys think they're just fine and the issue is with the rest of the world.
I don't have any solid stance on gun ownership or violent video games, but I do think they have a few commonalities. Neither one is the root cause of deviant behavior. Neither one should be outlawed or over-regulated due to the actions of a minuscule segment of a mentally damaged population. Like many things, "It's not for everyone".
Most of the tools in a carpenter's tool box could be used as a weapon, but I don't see any warning labels at Home Depot or special screening process for those who choose carpentry as an occupation. Plenty of gun owners enjoy target shooting or hunting. A majority of gamers enjoy a wide range of genres in gaming. But these things don't create psychopathic killers. Regardless of your disposition toward such gun-related activities or violent video games, it's important to realize that psychopaths are people who had mental problems long before they played a game or bought a gun. Which brings us back to those individuals who want to blame rather than find solutions.
After the Columbine incident, many schools banned wearing black trench coats on school property. That pretty much sums up why the Government will spend millions of dollars and never come close to a solution. Although there are many people who suffer various mental illnesses, more people suffer from being stupid.
Early-detection has become a buzz word in the medical community. Why are there no wide-spread programs to determine mental illness at an early age? Instead of starting a program to help identify mental problems, we seem to use that money to argue where to place blame and what items should be banned or regulated. Screening for mental deficiencies is "too expensive" but paying lobbyists for ineffectual bickering is deemed budget-worthy.
Had the Colorado psycho not had guns, he could have achieved the same end with fire. Capitol Hill could spend millions debating the need for a ban on matches.
Whether direct or indirect - "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem!"
Flipping through PTOM (Playstation mag), I encountered an odd looking ad for Tic Tacs. Ordinarily I'd flip past it without a second thought, but the ad stated an irrelevant fact in lettering made up from Tic Tacs. Being fascinated by advertising and the often peculiar lengths they go to - often missing the target, I read on.
After closer examination, I discovered that one could download the Tic Tac Viewr app to a smartphone and it would interact with the print ad. It's similar to QR codes, that take you to specific web site URLs. So, I dl'd the app, pointed it at the ad and a a game came up. Then it ended (I lost) before I realized what was happening. Mild disappointment set in.
The app is huge so I figured it must do something more. At which point I realized it jumps frantically from one mini game to the next. Incidentally, I love that! The games are ridiculous - bordering on idiotic - but the quick game-to-game pace is fun. It sort of reminds me of the idiocy of the Raving Rabbids mini games, but these go MUCH faster and are MUCH dumber (in a good way). It's a free download and although the app is gigantic, give it a try. If you like random fast-paced idiocy, this app is for you! Worth a look.
July 17, 2012
Retro styled Instagram camera takes me back to the days of photographing high scores
These days your high scores can be automatically tweeted from your game console via Raptr and the entire game play can easily be recorded to a PVR for eternal posterity once burned to DVD. No one would think of something as primitive as snapping a photograph (digital or otherwise) of a score on the TV screen. but it wasn't always this way...
In gaming's Second Generation - what I refer to as "when I bought my first Atari 2600" - it was fairly commonplace for someone to present a photograph of their TV screen to prove a high score. Some were lucky enough to have a Polaroid and get the instant gratification of proving their score. Others reluctantly shut off their 2600s, hoping the flash didn't obscure the corner displaying the score, and waited for the film to be developed. The rest of us wondered why they used the flash.
Game manufacturers and magazines alike sponsored high score contests where that photograph was your only means of verifying your gaming prowess. I believe Activision let you send in such photos in exchange for patches that would clearly display your gaming wizardry - after your Mom sewed it on your jacket.
It's funny to think that in today's digital age, someone creates Instagram which will use modern tech to make your photos look 30 years old. And there's the fact that Instagram is seeking to make the dedicated camera obsolete and here's a product that wants to produce a physical device from that smartphone app. But, seeing this proposed Instagram Camera (The Socialmatic, by Antonio De Rosa) really takes me back to my childhood when Dad's camera was carefully pointed at the TV to capture a 2600 high score for posterity.
I remember seeing it at my local electronics Boutique and wondering if I should buy one or spend my money on another new game. The games always won that decision. As interesting as it was, I felt cheating a game was denying me the real experience of playing it. Although I have to admit to entering a few manual codes for the joy of wailing on those Bosses I couldn't quite beat with thumbs and determination alone.
Gaming purists were offended by the idea that anyone could use the device to instantly gain all the power they attained through hours of pixelated battles. Manufacturers were pissed that their games became beatable for less than the cost of the average game cartridge. Nintendo in particular was violently opposed to the Game Genie and brought a copyright based lawsuit. Sega on the other hand joined forces with Galoob and gave Game Genie their seal of approval.
I recall the versions for the NES and SNES. I was always fascinated to see the unit for the NES because of the odd shape, due to the way the cartridge had to drop down on the shelf to initiate game play. However, the NES Game Genie was notorious for destroying the 72 pin connector inside. It would seem the top-loader would be better suited to such an invasive device.
My PS3 doesn't have a cart slot :)
So how does this device move into modern gaming for the PS3? Having it fit in between the cart slot and game cart made sense, but cart sensibility me it's demise long ago in favor of digital discs. And with such advances comes better connectivity. Cartridge based game consoles used the familiar cart slot as the sole input into the device. Gamers simply shoved game carts into it, but the game cart was really a storage device enabling gamers to add info into the system. Today's sophisticated consoles rely on the same principal, with a few more options... and we call it USB ;)
When I read that the PS3 Game Genie was a USB dongle/drive (now from Hyperkin), I hoped it would be an innocuous device that would magically inject cheats into my games. No such luck. Advances in technology are swell, but they come with a new level of complexity that often gets transfered to the end user (gamer in this case). The USB drive contains the Game Genie program allowing gamers to write modifications directly onto their save files using a PC, then transfer them directly onto their PlayStation 3 console. Hyperkin assures us it's easier than you might think.
Additionally, gamers can connect to Game Genie's online component for updates, via computer, that can then be moved over to the PS3. It sounds cool and brings back pin-tweaking memories from my early NES days. Of course I'm wondering why the Game Genie has reemerged for the PS3 so late in it's lifecycle.
Our first color set was a Zenith in the early 70's and it revolutionized my enjoyment of Speed Racer and later, Hong Kong Phooey. But the bottom line has always been "bigger is better". Cell phones are certainly making strides with bigger brighter screens, but retro gamers grew up gaming on TVs and as much as I relish having Frogger on my tiny smart phone, I'll drop everything to navigate that pixelated frog across an HD plasma screen with an absurd diagonal measurement.
Home theaters are swell, but the local cineplex still has bigger screens. Isn't that partly why big TVs sell so well? And don't you know that while I'll pass time on line at the bank with a quick game of Frogger, I really want to be poised in front of a large TV - preferably with a beer.
Enter the Android-powered Ouya gaming console. Yeah, Android powered, like your phone... if you're not an iPerson.
Certainly this would give my frog the proper screen size for rocking that top-left lily pad that seems to elude me via random finger-swipes. But the Ouya isn't about putting phone games on a bigger screen. It's about lowering development cycles, effort and budget. It's about creating console games for an OS that is currently attracting developers and spurring development.
If this sounds intriguing, you're not alone. The Huffington Post reported Ouya raised $1 million on Kickstarter in eight hours and 22 minutes ($2.5 million in its first 24 hours) - making it the fastest million to date, via Kickstarter. As of this writing, the funding is over $3.5 million!
Another benefit is the large mass of existing software - if developers decide to port them to the Ouya - and it's open design. But don't forget it's been designed to handle real console games, not just micro sized phone follies and each console is essentially a dev kit - no licenses or SDKs.
This is the sort of product that could really shake up the presumed path of mobile vs console gaming and development. Its exciting to read about it and imagine how such a console could alter video gaming. Change isn't always welcome, but its often a good thing with hidden benefits. In theory, we might see the reality of this project early next year in 2013.
An ugly Ouya reality
Let's look at the calendar and see if we can figure out how a new console with no announced games can roll out in 8 months. I'm a bit skeptical of this insanely tight timeline and the lack of committed support from developers (in the form of completed games). Finger-swipes on a smart phone won't magically work on a controller. Existing titles will all have to be ported to function (I believe).
One thing the Ouya Kickstarter campaign shows is that gamers are ready for something new - ANYTHING new! The lifecycle of consoles has stretched to the point where they feel like old friends rather than cutting edge systems. What about the Wii U? Nintendo's upcoming console promises to bridge the development gap beween Nintendo and the PS3 & Xbox. In theory, Sony and Microsoft games will be easy to port to the Wii U as opposed to the current ground-up development needed to publish to all three consoles. But the industry never sides with Nintendo prior to release. But Nintendo has a good track record for delivering!
So on what do we base the Ouya's ability to be deliver on time with a strong line-up of game titles? Connectivity is the key to loading anything onto such a console, so there has to be a robust back-end to connect to in order to load games and apps. If there was a solid list of developers who were in the process of porting their Android mobile games to Ouya, I'd be relieved. My stance is: hope for the best - wait and see. As much as I'd love to be one of those receiving a new pre-release console (per the kickstarter campaign) I think I'll wait until this great idea arrives on the scene.
The Ouya Android gaming console raised millions & may benefit retro gaming
July 10, 2012
Jake & Finn invade your TV and Nintendo DS & 3DS in Adventure Time
With today's release of the first season of Pendleton Ward's Adventure Time, it seems timely to send out a big "Fuck Yeah!" for this genius series to be properly released for public consumption. How many "best of" DVDs have to be sold to satisfy proof-of-concept that Adventure Time has a sufficient audience (people who spend money)? And why haven't our heros appeared in a video game yet?
Having started in April 2010 it's about time Adventure Time came to DVD and video games. This quirky show is easily one of the best I've seen on Cartoon Network. Too many series like this come and go without much ado (Chowder, Flapjack...). I can only hope that Regular Show is soon to get it's deserved DVD and game treatment as well.
Slated for a Fall 2012 release, Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage? is coming to Nintendo's 3DS and allegedly the DS.
At 7 years old he has a remarkable eye for detail and points out all sorts of interesting things to me, but I still couldn't believe the local grocery store would sell Wii Points cards. I usually have to drive 30 minutes to the nearest electronics store to pick up point cards. Now I can snag WiiWare and Virtual Console titles after a short jaunt to Stop & Shop. Cool!
I'll have to add retro gaming to my shopping list :)
Happy 40th Birthday Atari! Founded June 27, 1972 by Nolan Bushnell & Ted Dabney #HappyBirthdayAtari
It's hard to believe that the arcade genius that led to my first gaming console (the Atari 2600) and Chuck E. Cheese is 40 years old today. Of course one has to note the various incarnations and transformations the company went through. Their claim to fame has always been insanely clever arcade games, but most of them are from the company's inception. Atari has become synonymous with beloved games of many of our childhoods. The Atari of today is a much different entity.
Founded 27 June 1972 as Atari, Inc.
Split into Atari Corporation and Atari Games in 1984
Became Atari Interactive (division of Hasbro Interactive) in 1998
Nolan Bushnell left Atari before the 7800 was came to market and Atari was under new management when the Jaguar made a valiant attempt at a comeback. Regardless of "who owns what" and "who's behind Atari" today - they are arguably the most famous gaming brand of all time, recognized even by those who's first gaming console was a Microsoft product.
When Sony added the second "stick" to the Vita and blended the handeld into its PS3 scenario, what's Nintendo doing? The folks at Forbes are speculating that this negates the 3DS as a potential "controller" for the Wii U and sends Nintendo down an opposite path from Sony and Microsoft who are trying to tie handheld devices closer to their gaming consoles.
All I can say is everyone thought Nintendo was insane to release the Wii in 2006 and it turned out to be an amazing forward leap in controller interaction. I'm guessing that the Wii U and 3DS XL will again be out-of-the-park winners... but many won't see the genius until later on :)
Having mentioned the former add-on pad - I'm wondering if it is compatible with the 3DS XL. Who knows, but I have to admit I'm a bit skeptical of the new XL model in that the original model underwent a huge price drop very early in it's cycle. Will folks now pay more for the larger screens and battery life?
Time will tell...
The chart above (from Gamasutra) shows an interesting history of the DS life-cycle from it's inception. I'm betting Nintendo will survive and thrive as always!
June 11, 2012
Imagine having protective cases with original artwork for your loose Atari 2600 carts- Retro Game Cases
For retro game collectors, loose cartridges can be hard to manage. Shoe boxes don't do your collection justice, but neither does having them spill off the shelf into a heap. And what about those pristine manuals? How does one preserve them?
The YouTube video below tipped me off to a pretty cool product that I'm hoping is as awesome as it looks! These look like a cool way to protect, organize and store retro games and manuals. These cases will look awesome on a shelf. What Atari collector could pass up such an amazing way to display carts?
I am so amped to discover a company that will make cases for Atari 2600 cartridges. With the original artwork, these are a welcome addition to anyone's collection. I'd be pretty psyched to begin a game of Asteroids by opening a hard-shell case! :)
From the Retro Game Cases web site: Custom protective archival game cases are not only a safe way to protect your vintage video games, but also a very appealing way to show off that collection you've been working on. Each case insert is designed using styles from the artwork of the original boxes, but in a vertical format that matches that of movies and modern games from the Wii and PS3 platforms.
Video game storage for retro game cartridges - Retro Game Cases
There are few things better than playing as Maria in Virtua Tennis 4 on the clay courts of France.
June 8, 2012
GameStop crams it's brick & mortar into your Android smart phone
When I decided I'd had enough of the limited offerings of Blackberry I had to choose between Apple's iPhone and an Android phone.
Despite being a long time Apple fanatic, I really wanted a PHONE, but couldn't justify the added cost of putting an "i" in the front of my phone - not to mention the larger screens I found on several Android models.
The BlackBerry was great for email, but the apps available to it were so minimal, it was easy to jump that ship and explore all the utility that smartphone apps are supposed to deliver.
When I received an email from GameStop mentioning a free Android phone and app, I had to take a look. Of course Verizon would happily rape me to the tune of several hundred dollars if I dared stray from their bloated rates and insidious My Verizon Mobile app that wants to monitor my every move while gleefully draining my battery.
GameStop Mobile App Features
The GameStop app is no speed demon - weighing in at 19MB, on my phone. It chugs along however when it fully loads (about 10-12 seconds), there are a lot of features to it. At first launch, you're asked to put in your Power-Up Rewards account info. From here it seems to present you with recommendations - which I hope are truly based on your account history, rather than random titles they are trying to get rid of. Launching the app several times I get the same 3 recommended titles, but they are all Wii titles, so I'm inclined to think there is some relation to my known buying habits.
The first GameStop app screen displays a search bar that seems to accurately return good selections based on a number of searches for existing and upcoming games. Next are 2 bars showing a tally (and access to) messages and In-Store Offers. Below this are the Wants, Haves and Reservations.
Next several rows with box-cover images for Recommended Titles, Best Sellers, Now Shipping and Coming Soon. Clicking the covers brings up a detail screen offering the ability to buy the title, view a video, screen shots and a text description. This info loads quite fast which surprised me considering the lag in the initial launch.
Many of the features are tied to having your Big Brother setting on so the app can garner your location. As much as I hate the idea of random strangers knowing where I am, it can be helpful for locating nearby GameStop locations and identifying which store you want to pick up your purchased title from. For store locations, you can also enter a zip code and get a listing of nearby stores - a nice addition!
We also liked the integrated barcode scanner which lets your phone's camera snap a code in order to return info on the title. Additionally, it will tell you which stores have it in stock which seems like a nice feature, but aren't you holding it in your hand when scanning it? OK, I guess you could scan a friend's copy and find out if your local GameStop has it in stock so you can buy it ;)
The buttons across the top of the screen take you to the Home screen, Store Locator, Library of games you've bought (via your Power-Up Rewards card), available Rewards and your account details. There is also a Four-Square-ish check-in feature that lets you rack up some Rewards points just for wandering around your local GameStop.
The GameStop App offers quite a few nice features beyond the typical database dump of info that many apps offer. I've only recently installed the app, but I'm pretty happy with it. It would seem that many of the issues about crashes and phone compatibility have ben addressed in the few months since the app's launch. So far, we're digging it!
Soon a clear winner emerged and surged ahead of the competition - way ahead. This is where we first discovered TradeChat (aka Panser). When most of the more successful girls attained 2 or 3 thousand votes, TradeChat had over 40,000. Yes, forty thousand! She didn't stop there and went on to out-pace her competitors by more than 50,000 votes! If you view Tradechat's YouTube Channel you'll see why she shot ahead in this contest.
The chick is the real deal. She is more of a gamer than most of us. With a huge fan-base of gamers and folks who dig pink hair, she'd seems almost destined to become Maxim Magazine's Gamer Girl. Go Vote for TradeChat!!
June 4, 2012
While E3 ramps up in CA, NH offers the International Classic Video Game Tournament at FunSpot
E3 isn't the only gaming attraction this week. As most industry insiders wander the halls of E3 soaking up the upcoming awesomeness in the gaming industry, players congregated at the largest arcade in the world - FunSpot in New Hampshire. An article in the Arts section of the New York Times featured a picture of kid next to an arcade cabinet with the caption: "Zachary watches his father at the International Classic Video Game Tournament".
Now, isn't that the way it should be - kids watching their fathers rack up impressive Defender scores?
Hailed as "The Mecca of Classic Gaming" by MSNBC, The American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot is the first 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and displaying vintage coin-operated amusements and their history. Located on the third floor of the immense Funspot Family Entertainment Super Center, the museum celebrates the origins of the arcade industry with popular games from the past. Asteroids, Pac-Man, Centipede and Gorgar are just a few of the nearly 300 games inside ACAM. The museum also contains static displays of game history and the walls feature many posters of vintage arcade games.
Their Windows Phones have been largely ignored by the public and it often surprises me how successful they've become since buying their way into the video game industry. As someone who greatly enjoys movies, I'm not sure I want to watch an epic flick on a large hi-def TV and then compress that scenario into a tiny cell phone screen despite the Neat-o factor of SmartGlass. I guess the bottom line is Microsoft has never created a product that I felt would benefit my world to the point at which I'd make a purchase. Above all else...
I'm fairly certain a toaster running Windows would ruin toast in the blink of an eye.
June 2, 2012
GameStop Expo opens up to Power-Up Reward members - for 5 hours
If you thought American Express was the only company touting "Membership has it's privileges," apparently GameStop is taking the famous 1987 to 1996 AMEX advertising slogan. GameStop is offering Power-Up Rewards members the chance to get the game-insider treatment.
Each year GameStop managers are whisked away to a boot camp that more closely resembles an E3 event. Each year GameStop managers are given some hands-on experience with upcoming games from all the big boys in the gaming industry.
This year they are expanding the format to offer all 18 million Power-Up Rewards members the same opportunity. Don't get your hopes up. This intimate gathering of gaming gurus only lasts 5 hours and is limited to 6,000 attendees. I guess it's first-come, first-served. Oh yeah, you also have to get to TX to attend. But if you meet the criteria, August 29, 2012 is your lucky day!
May 2012 Retro Gaming Blog
May 25, 2012
Memorial Day still commemorates fallen soldiers despite becoming a commercial-sale holiday
Many people seem to forget the origin of our national holidays in the US. These once sacred holiday's have become little more than 3-day weekends of drinking and shopping. Memorial Day is known to most (who've never served in the armed forces) as the kick-off for Summer and a 3 day sales event in which everything from toaster ovens and cars to gas-grills and dildos are marked down in price. Yes, even sex toys get the resonant mark-down treatment.
The ad below appeared in my email and I swear I didn't alter anything on it - not even the Fleshlight neatly tucked into the picnic basket!
I have to applaud the NewsHour on PBS as the only news outlet that pays tribute to our military forces who have died in battle. To this day, they still give a moment of silence for our fallen soldiers and list their names and photos.
I'm sure some of you are hoping to save a few bucks this weekend on a new PS3 (I might too). But don't stop there! It's a holiday weekend so everyone is obligated to go shopping so the scumbag credit card companies can gleefully charge you 35% interest on items you can't quite afford. This begs the question: who is more horrible - The Banking or Insurance industry? Tough call these days...
Eugene Polley, inventor of the Flashmatic wireless TV remote died
Next time you can't change channels because you can't find the remote, take a moment to think about how the ubiquitous clicker came to be. You didn't create it, but your lazy ass was probably part of an R&D theory. The first color TV my family owned was a Zenith and the first Betamax I bought in the 80's had a wired remote control. My, how times have changed.
Eugene Polley (November 29, 1915 - May 20, 2012) was an engineer for Zenith Electronics renown for inventing the wireless remote control for TVs. The term "clicker" came from a mechanical remote, created by Robert Adler, that used ultrasound to change the channel and volume. When a button was pushed it struck a bar making a clicking sound. Each bar emitted a different frequency which the television detected.
Prior to the "clicker", Eugene Polley devised the Flashmatic remote that turned the set on & off and change the channel by shining a beam of visible light onto a photoelectric cell. However the cell did not distinguish between light from the remote and other light sources and required precise accuracy to work properly... hence the pistol-grip.
Polley and Adler shared a 1996-1997 Technology & Engineering Emmy Award for "Pioneering Development of Wireless Remote Control for Consumer Television.
Even this ad touts the avoidance of commercials!
May 20, 2012
Derek Slaton's The Sega Master System Encyclopedia aims to be the definitive book on the system
There's no shortage of books written about video games, the industry or it's prominent figures. There is however a shortage of good books on these topics. Too many "game books" take a wide focus or feel disjointed as though they've been compiled from various gaming articles. I prefer focus and depth. I love gaming books that take a unique element and delve into it with good tech information while remembering that video games are fun.
Derek Slaton's book, The Sega Master System Encyclopedia, aims to be the definitive publication on the system. I love the idea of this book because much has been written about Sega and their long journey through gaming, but to point the focus on one system is very enticing.
Many folks think "Genesis" when they hear "Sega". So to dig into an encyclopedia dedicated to the Sega Master System and it's game library sounds good to us! I'm looking forward to learning more about this system.
Joust arcade warrior tours the nation topping high scores with ease
As if the sounds and visuals of arcade games' attraction-mode weren't enough to draw in players, high score displays were the next big thing. Until the power was shut off for the night letting those beautiful machines rest until the next day's onslaught. William's Defender was the first game to save high scores even when the cabinet was restarted.
I used to wonder who those 3-character scores belonged to. Some were obvious names like Max or Ted (whoever they were), but many would remain a mystery. I got my initials onto a few cabinets in my home town, but they were always gone by my next visit.
Imagine traveling the country with mad-skills and putting your initial stop every cabinet you encountered? Meet Joust virtuoso, Lonnie McDonald...
He's touring the US on a mission to put 9's across the board on every classic Joust arcade game he can find. There are some great articles and a tracking map on PSP's site that geographically show Lonnie's progress.
I love this idea and it brings back so many great arcade memories. Hell, I'd love to tour the country just to find "real" arcades! I hope his quest generates more interest and excitement in the arcade industry. Two cabinets at a movie theater doesn't do justice to the real arcades that really create a great experience. Support your local arcade... if you're lucky enough to have one.
May 13, 2012
Atari pushes Mothers Day down the 8-bit path
Seeing the Atari logo in a modern context I long for the days when oxidized cartridge contacts needed a quick scrub before Spider Fighter would spring to life. These days, Atari is about Flashback licenses and iOS games that capitalize on the era when Atari ruled arcades and the home video game console market.
Just in case you'd forgotten to snag a Mother's Day gift, Atari is pumping in-boxes full of 8-bit ideas for Mom. Whereas I applaud any Mom who would love playing Missile Command while waiting on line at the Bank or spend her lunch hour with a sandwich and cellular variant of Pac-Man - I'm skeptical about iOS games reigning over standard Halmark-approved items for Mother's Day.
I'm not one to judge, so if your Mom is down with the classics - go for it! But if she's like most Moms, I'd avoid presenting her with a digital present that's conveniently loaded on your phone. ;)
I have to admit that years of exposure to porn has not sufficiently numbed me. I was shocked by the idea of attachment-parenting and by this image itself.
For all the parents who think video games are bad and breed evil intentions in the kids that play them - take a good look at this picture. This kid will be traumatized for life, especially when he awkwardly discovers that his friends have juice-boxes while he's unknowingly living out teenage MILF fantasies.
I'm not one to dole out parenting advice, but I tend to avoid things that seem creepy and make me cringe.
Happy Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you
You are formally obligated to watch the trilogy today (the good one, that is).
Here's a smattering of plagiarized "Force" trivia...
When Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister on May 4, 1979, an advertisement in The London Evening News read, "May the Fourth Be with You, Maggie. Congratulations."
In an interview on German news, George Lucas was asked to say the famous phrase "May the Force be with you." The interpreter interpreted the sentence into German as "We shall be with you on May 4".
All this makes me wonder if rail travel will come back into vogue as a way to see the countryside and read a good book while ambling along the high-speed rails architected for travel at highway speeds.
The rails certainly look like a pleasant way to travel. Peep Peep, Thomas!
April 2012 Retro Gaming Blog
April 30, 2012
You can't have too much security when you're giving away a 911 Carrera
Most of us would like to win $115,000 and a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, but few can do it like Maria Sharapova who won the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.
Watching her kick ass is quite a joy from a number of perspectives. Playing as Maria Sharapova in Sega's Virtua Tennis 4 has some odd joys as well. I'm also a fan of Topspin 4, but the dearth of Sharapova leads me towards Sega's game.
Either way this gal is hardcore as hell and we always admire that in a competitor. Tough chicks are at the top of our list - they usually make the best gamers too ;)
April 29, 2012
Planking at GameStop. How the fuck did THIS become a fad?
When I saw this pic I thought it was some sort of odd PhotoShop gag. Then I saw the term "planking" and realized this might be some sort of thing - a fad perhaps. Something this moronic demanded a 3-minute dive into google which led to a Wikipedia page about Planking.
I won't go into the intrinsic details strew across the consumer-ruined ARPANET, but I'm bewildered as to how the fuck something this ridiculous can go viral to the point at which people "know" about it.
Planking is idiotic. Photographing it is idiotic. Seeking bragging rights on the aforementioned is idiotic. My spending time to bitch about it is idiotic. I fucking hate myself now.
Thanks for nothing, you stiff-spined dopes.
April 28, 2012
If your local tavern doesn't offer 8-Bit Pale Ale from Tallgrass Brewing, drink and game elsewhere
If you're wondering why more bars don't have arcade games for their patrons who don't care for darts or pool, it may be the same reason arcades are dwindling in numbers as time marches on. Maintaining arcade games is a labor of love if you own one or two at home - tenfold if you have a roomful of them and an LLC (like most arcades). Things frequently go wrong with them and most bar owners have enough issues having to tend to a roomful of drunks. Besides, video poker machines tend to be small, solid-state and spill-proof.
But that doesn't mean your trip to the local watering hole can't be infused with some retro gaming spirit. Enter Tallgrass Brewing, makers of 8-Bit Pale Ale in Colorado. From their website...
Just like those classic video games we all grew up with, 8-Bit Pale Ale is spectacularly simple at first glance yet remarkably fun and complex when you get into it. Our Hop Rocket infuses the character of Australian grown Galaxy Hops into an American Pale Ale, giving a unique tropical, almost melon aroma in a classic American style.
Too often novelty items show up to cash-in on a current trend or fad. This has occurred across many product lines including wine labels. However, Tallgrass Brewing shows a lot of love for retro gaming with their 8-Bit Pale Ale as well as having a sense of humor about it with their beer-altered slogan on t-shirts.
We applaud their retro gaming love and look forward to their mid-western distribution making it's way East!
These unlikely entities are now promoting awareness of that gross gunk that forms in the corner of one's eyes when extreme yearnings for retro game reboots and crown-adorned burgers come to a head. Burgers. Boogers. Whatever - play hard & eat! Next time you wipe away that ooze don't forget to have a hearty meal and play a retro game.
OK, we made this shit up...
Last April (yes, in 2011) I saw a press release about MonkeyPaw Games making a reboot of BurgerTime. I was elated - then heard nothing about it. I began to suspect I'd fallen victim to some sort of April Fools gag. "Where the fuck is my BT reboot," I'd scream as I cried myself to sleep after playing BurgerTime on my Data East Arcade Classics disc.
Every few months there was a brief rumble of it's impending release. Throughout last Summer I stressed about it's absence as the heat faded to Fall and finally I had to have some dude plow the snow off my driveway. Then as Valentine's Day drew near my hopes rose that I might really be able to amble around a 3D structure constructing burgers as I lept over & pepper'd contentious condiments.
And so it was to be! I finally had BurgerTime World Tour on my Wii. It didn't seem as slick as the PS3 trailers, but I had mad passion for the idea that BT had been resurrected, rebooted, and made available! I have to say that all the negative reviews pissed me off. I felt as though gamers were perhaps comparing it to modern games as opposed to playing it with the arcade original in mind.
I suggest the nay-sayers check out the arcade version, then play BurgerTime on the Atari 2600 and see if this reboot from MonkeyPaw isn't a nice update that adds a lot of creativity to the original game. This reboot may not be a stellar creation, but it's priced for online download and I say it's a fine addition that brings me back to my passion for retro games. If you want to be pissed about a game, how about the latest $60-wonder that totally sucked. Now THAT pisses me off!
Give it a shot and see if a smattering of arcade-lust doesn't ripple through you :)
April 26, 2012
Not everyone is distressed by Best Buy's recent demise and store closings
Every time I buy anything at Best Buy they ask if I'd like to purchase extra insurance through Best Buy. Even if I'm only buying a used game for $12 they still want to snatch an extra few bucks. I always decline. The ratio of insurance cost -vs- my purchase always seems way out of proportion.
But prior to declining I always ask, "What happens if you guys go out of business?"
This question is always met with a chuckle, from the clerk, as though I just asked where their complimentary customer-appreciation fondue bar was located.
In my head I reel through the list - Crazy Eddie, Tweeter, Nobody Beats the Wiz, Circuit City, KB Toys, CompUSA.
"Just give it time," I think to myself. So here we are and Best Buy is closing 50 stores. Didn't Borders Books just do the same thing in an effort to stave off the inevitable? Hmmm...
It's always interested me that box-stores of this sort don't adapt to the times. It always seems to take another company to do it better and put the competition out of business. Someone always has the next innovation, but the current stores plod along business as usual. I guess great thinkers don't save the world, they build new ones.
Good luck, Best Buy. Now I really don't want your extra insurance.
April 23, 2012
Put down the game controller, it's World Book Night!
World Book Night is an annual celebration designed to spread passion and the importance of reading and books. To be held in the U.S. as well as the U.K. and Ireland on April 23, 2012. We're pretty sure this festive event is supposed to spur one to read such works as Homer's The Iliad & The Odyssey or the lofty War and Peace, but reading is reading and many of us don't do enough of it.
I find it hard to set aside time to enjoy a good book, but once I do I'm glad I did. Reading has an interesting effect on the mind. It seems to awaken dormant areas that suddenly come to life as a good story unfolds, but it also has a lasting effect that adds a wave of interest to other less literary activities.
Since It's World Book Night, I heartily encourage everyone to put down the game controllers and yank out a good book - even if only briefly. Get lost in a cool story and see if those video games don't pop a bit more once your noggin' gets a little jumpstart from a good book.
I've long been impressed with Nintendo's Wii controller by both it's utility and the level of creativity it adds to gaming.
Just the simplistic notion of shaking the controller to effect game play adds many dynamics to the standard norm of controlling a game or character. Add in various swinging motions and you're well on your way to being more engaged with the game as well as being "in motion" as a player.
Sony & Microsoft have been stumbling along, years after the Wii's launch, to replicate the wireless experience delivered on the Wii. No luck, for the most part. Its no surprise that the uniqueness of Wii control has extended itself to a variety of fitness and dance games that really get your body moving.
I look forward to seeing the health benefits of gaming in motion for myself as well as those choosing to demonstrate their video game induced flexibility in public!
April 21, 2012
Dearth of Skylanders: swapping DLC for actual action figures means keeping them stocked!
I bought my son (and myself) Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure for Christmas. The more I read about it the more excited I became for him to open it up and play with me. As this excitement mounted, it fed my craving for MORE. We're all accustomed to unlocking or downloading new/additional characters in games, so buying them as physical action figures is quite a change.
My local Toys R Us kept offering buy-one-get-one-free deals on video game accessories and to my amazement, they considered Skylander figures to be accessories. Needless to say, I bought every 3-pack they had. By the time Santa tried to fit his fat ass down our chimney, we were knee-deep in Skylander awesomeness. I think my son opened 18 Skylander figures on Christmas day. We loved the game and the uniqueness of plopping action figures onto the portal to bring them into the game.
It wasn't long before we wanted more. Skylanders are classified by clans and each one has special powers in their own world, so we wanted to have at least one from each clan. In some cases, this is necessary to access certain areas of the game. Off we went to the store. Then another store. And yet another. No fucking Skylanders! We assumed that stock was low after the Christmas rush.
Not the case! It wasn't until April that we saw ANY skylanders on retail shelves. None at Toys R Us, WalMart, Best Buy or GameStop... until April! WTF!?! We snagged the ones we could and hoped that Activision was resolving the issue.
I'm wondering if Activision is more accustomed to the re-stocking routine for game titles, not realizing the different landscape of the toy market. Who knows, but I can't believe that they simply figured they could restock once each quarter and be done with it. People were ravenous for Skylander figures in the first quarter of the year. Reports claim that Activision is doing their best to stock retailers, but prior to April 2, I've seen nothing but baren shelves at every Skylander display in my area.
One really awful part about this shortage is the price gauging that's occurring on auction sites like eBay and by affiliates on Amazon. I can't say I'm surprised. Every time I discover a toy shortage, I see the prices jump on such sites. As a manufacturer, Activision needs a punch in the face for letting this gauging, due to stock shortages, occur so early in the Skylander lifecycle. You expect rarity to cause price spikes, but Skylanders aren't rare (for the most part). Activision simply underestimated demand and hasn't been able to rectify it. OK, 2 punches in the face!
Now GameStop is taking in used Skylanders and reselling them as "used". Quite a change from the dearth of figures for the last 4 months. Thankfully I was obsessed as I was at Christmas and bought all the ones I could find. Lesson learned ;)
The current economy is horrible and developers are shrinking as costs rise, not to mention that each new generation console adds more cost to development. So consumers need to make up the difference? Developers need to realize that price ceilings are very real and consumers dictate them via their purchasing decisions.
Change or be left behind
Home owners suffer the same delusion. Sure a $100,000 house in the early eighties could easily quadruple in value over 15 years. Do you really think it valued-up to 8 times it's original worth in the following 15 years? It's still the same $100,000 house! Have you ever purchased a $30 hamburger from Ronald McDonald? Fuck no! PRICE CEILING!
Perhaps developers need to change with the times. If it takes an 8-figure budget to produce a game, maybe you're doing something wrong. That isn't to say they aren't making exceptionally awesome games. But it may be necessary to achieve this awesomeness via different means. Multi-million dollar movies often do very well and take in an incredible amount of box-office money before the flick even hits the DVD market. Then some dudes make a kick-ass indy flick with a camcorder and it makes the same insane profits as the Hollywood blockbuster. Hmmm...
I've purchased and played some outstanding games that obviously had enormous budgets behind them. I've also played some phenomenal games that were brought to market on a shoe-string budget. Hey, didn't the US Government bail out General Motors because they were filling car lots with gas-guzzling SUVs when consumers wanted eco-friendly vehicles? Plenty of people were content to see GM sink like a rock. My tax dollars? Fuck that noise!
How many of us remember 2008's Game Of The Year? How about 2009's?
It wasn't THAT long ago.
Raise your hand if you remember the joy of playing Space Invaders?
We live in a disposable society where everything has an expected duration. There has been an obvious shift in gaming from games being a lot of fun whenever you chose to play them to having games with endings and conclusions. Space Invaders never ended... keep shooting at shit! It was awesome! These days we've been trained to know that games have endings. When you finish a game, stop playing. You're done. Go buy the next expensive game in the series.
Benefits of the used game market
The used game market opens up both hardware manufacturers and developers to new audiences that may have just been introduced to a great title and want to check out the other titles in the series or other games by that developer. Shifting everything to the here & now eliminates a lot of consumers and opportunities for the retail gaming industry.
Nuking the used game market is like telling folks they can't have yard sales.
"Sorry, you have to keep all your old shit."
Selling off old or unwanted games has always been a help to those who need this scenario to buy more games. Used games give gamers a less risky way to try a game. Maybe that inexpensive used game will prompt them to buy the latest $60 game from the same developer. Conversely, no one likes to be told what to do. If the used game market is nuked by retail greed and an inability to change with the times, consumers aren't going to shrug it off. They're going to find other outlets.
Smart-phone game proliferation = wake up call
Who owns a smart phone? Anyone wondering why these games are taking off at an epic rate? They're free or a few dollars. Would these phone gamers rather have an immersive PS3 experience? Probably. Angry Birds is no Skyrim, but the price difference makes a casual game of Angry Birds a new and different sort of gaming experience. Sure, that's a simplistic example, but the trend in cell phone gaming is taking off at a rate that console devs can't compete with under their current regime of spending millions to bring a game to market over a long dev cycle.
A horse used to be a good way to get from one place to another. Not many horses on the turnpike these days. Wake up!
Change is good and so are used games.
Word has it that her pink costume's V-neck was a bit too risque for Pax attendees - forcing her to revert to a less revealing costume. What has the world come to when a gorgeous cheerleader is asked to leave an event for being too revealing. Is there such a thing? Don't cheerleaders have free reign to be as sexy and revealing as need be? I guess one has to draw the line when a plunging neck-line goes south of one's waist-line.
Apparently, Pax-goers complained quite a bit about the Juliette costume and Ms. Nigri was asked to change or leave. Apparently, Penny Arcade has a "no booth babe" policy at its expos in an effort to squelch the bimbo-factor. We agree with this policy as far as bimbos go. Sexy is good, but "smart" always trumps skimpy clothing (yeah, we really believe this). As long as the the booth babes know the product and represent it, as opposed to simply standing around, we're down with that!
April 9, 2012
Founder of Commodore Computers, Jack Tramiel passes at 83
Renown for bringing low-cost computers into homes, Jack Tramiel (December 13, 1928 - April 8, 2012) began with the Commodore PET in 1977 via Commodore International.
Two models sold for $595 and $795. It was then followed by the Commodore VIC-20 in 1980. In 1982 the Commodore 64 arrived and became a best-seller that initially sold for $595 and dropped to $199.
In 1984, Tramel Technology bought the Consumer Division of Atari Inc. from Warner. A few laters he put his son Sam in charge of day-to-day operations at Atari. Both the 7800 and Jaguar were released under the Tramiel reign at Atari.
GameStop is creating a used Skylanders market by reselling used figures
Finally, my son and I found 6 Skylanders figures on retail shelves that we hadn't seen before. When I say "before" I mean since Christmas! We went to WalMart, Toys R Us and 2 GameStops. We asked the various clerks what the problem had been, they all reiterated the same tale... obviously they didn't know.
GameStop had some interesting news...
GameStop will now buy your used Skylanders figures for resale. The used game market now has some bulky companions destined to take up more retail space than any corporate HQ would like. Stump Smash requires a lot more space than a PS2 disc in an envelope.
An odd request that they stressed very intently was that figures could not be traded in unless they were reset - no upgrades. That's easy enough to do, but what's the point?
For some gamers, it might be fun to buy a used figure to see what upgrades came with it. Others may want the challenge of building up the character's powers. I found the request odd because GameStop has always sold current-state memory cards. They don't require traders to erase memory cards, nor does GameStop erase them prior to resale. And... how would they know anyway?
My only issue with this is: when was the last time you bought a used game from GameStop that wasn't badly scratched? I've bought MANY used games from them that were so badly damaged they wouldn't play. Their liberal return policy is mainly due to the abysmal quality of their used games. Are we to expect any better from this newfound Skylanders figure business?
How many busted-up Skylanders do you think you'll see in GameStop's familiar "Used Product" baggies?
March 2012 Retro Gaming Blog
March 30, 2012
It's National Cleavage Day! #NCD thanks, Wonderbra
When something as ridiculous as National Cleavage Day is trending on Twitter, our inquiring minds demand more info. Our calendar shows no mention of NCD or similarly themed nationally recognized holiday. Did we miss our town's annual Tit Parade? Is there a "Whip Em Out" email stewing in my spam folder waiting to shed light on the proper celebratory actions for this event?
What the fuck is National Cleavage Day? NCD to you hipster types.
Apparently, the folks at Wonderbra - who we presume have admitted defeat to the cavalcade of winged beauties from Victoria's Secret - created National Cleavage Day in 2002 to celebrate women's power and independence. Breasts seem an odd choice for an iconic stand on girl-power, but they are a bra manufacturer after all.
Anita Meiring, public relations consultant for Wonderbra, explained the event. "It is a day for women to realize that their cleavage is something unique and that they should be proud of it."
This quote from Wikipedia leads us to believe that these are likely the same folks who return to anti-porn rallies after the festivities of National Cleavage Day have subsided. In any event, we hope everyone had a pleasant day and celebrated in an acceptable manner... or not ;)
You can transfer funds, send a tweet or reply to an email while waiting on line in a store. Are you going to boot up your laptop on that line? Hell no!
In a world full of tweeting and texting, brevity has become the norm when communicating digitally. This brevity has even reached the point where common phrases become acronyms, with new ones appearing weekly. Smartphone cameras have improved in quality allowing photos and videos to be delivered as effortlessly as a text message. In some cases a picture can be a thousand words making such communication a vital part of staying connected in our fast paced lives.
So naturally the cellular broadband networks have become clogged with porn. As that becomes the new norm, we feel all "Whatcha doin?" texts to your girlfriend include this photo as the response. Because "standing around looking hot" takes too long to type on a tiny keyboard.
One might like to believe all this has been an elaborate April Fools prank, but it seems that Michael Bay is hellbent on putting his mark on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He's shortening the name to Ninja Turtles and making them aliens from outer space. Fans of TMNT went balistic in a variety of ways.
few expressed their outrage as succinctly as Jenny Lorenzo from Aggressive Comix's YouTube show, Geekgasm. If Turtle fans worldwide needed a hero to rally around, she's it! check out Geekgasm's "Fuck you, Michael Bay!" episode on Youtube. It's awesome!
Changing the name seems like an odd thing to do to a remake that has such a large strong following. Fans know Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so who is benefitted by shortening the name? Secondly, this is a REMAKE which infers there is already a backstory and a history. Changing that is a trite attempt by the studio (or Michael Bay himself) to put their own mark on the film. Fuck that!
Fans want a new TMNT story! How about delivering that? No one needs a new backstory that alters the premise of the Turtles existence. Just make a compelling adventure for them. Why does Hollywood think a classic story arc needs to be changed? No wonder theater ticket sales are down - Hollywood delivers crap!
The Violence in Video Games Labeling Act has reappeared to haunt gamers and make people believe that good parenting is the result of legislation. Do politicians really believe they are doing anything good by rallying around bullshit when the economy is in the toilet, unemployment is rampant and questionable foreign nations are threatening to start more costly wars? Of all the truly important things happening in the world, we need to re-brand video games that might cause aggressive behavior?
Is it possible that the minority of dumb-fucks who need hand-holding at every decision point will get special warning labels to coincide with their every action? And the rest of us have to suffer the idiocy because some people can't get their shit together and just play a fucking video game? How many warning labels do we need on video games to help consumers make decisions? I'm pretty sure most people can function on a daily basis with only a mild notion of common sense.
The ERSB won over the right to plaster their ratings decisions on all video games. To some degree I think a ratings system provides some needed clues as to a game's content and age-appropriateness, but one rating or label will suffice. Do we need government to add another sticker telling us what perils may befall us if we are to play these games?
If we really need another sticker on games, then here are 10 other warning labels we obviously need:
Warning exposure to Ex Lax has been linked to aggressive shitting.
Warning exposure to pornography has been linked to aggressive masturbation.
Warning exposure to sunlight has been linked to aggressive squinting.
Warning exposure to stubbing your toe has been linked to aggressive profanity.
Warning exposure to hot dogs has been linked to aggressive stomach upset.
Warning exposure to alcohol has been linked to aggressive vomiting.
Warning exposure to knives has been linked to aggressive bleeding.
Warning exposure to fast-food has been linked to aggressive obesity.
Warning exposure to automobiles has been linked to aggressive accidents.
Warning exposure to idiotic legislation has been linked to congressional impeachment.
I was told that many of GameStop's retail locations will cease sales of pre-owned GameCube and PSP titles in the next few days! Remaining inventory will be shipped to larger stores that have more space and better sales figures for these platforms.
I've loved collecting GameCube titles since they are compatible with the Wii. On top of that, I was just getting into the PSP. Oh well...
GameStop locations are few and far between in my area. I'll have to gas up the pimp-sled and venture out to other locations. These titles will be abundant online, but I love the thrill of the chase to see what goodies await. Awaiting the mailman or UPS guy isn't nearly as adrenaline-inducing or fun.
When I hear "Smithsonian" I tend to think of Apollo rockets, Van Gogh and dinosaurs. On the other hand I attended an amazing arcade gaming exhibition (all games were on free-play) at the National Press Club in DC, so I'm willing to tune in and see what it's all about.
There is also a companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, which briefly showcases the games in the exhibit.
The Art of Video Games
3rd floor North, American Art Museum
March 16, 2012 to September 30, 2012
The Smithsonian American Art Museum let anyone join in the selection of the video games to be included in the exhibition. The 240 games on the ballot were selected by Chris Melissinos, who worked with a wide variety of luminaries from the gaming industry. The games were selected based on a variety of criteria, including visual effects, creative use of new technologies, and how the game fit into the narrative of the exhibition. Online voting was open from February 14 to April 17, 2011. Apparently more than 3.7 million votes were cast by 119,000 people in 175 countries! That's a lot of gamers!
The following games topped the public vote and will be featured in The Art of Video Games exhibition. In addition to the 80 games below, five playable games will be included in the exhibition: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.
Donkey Kong (Action), Zaxxon (Target), Pitfall II: Lost Caverns (Adventure), Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (Tactics)
TRON: Maze-Atron (Action), Star Strike (Target), Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Adventure), Utopia (Tactics)
Jumpman (Action), Attack of the Mutant Camels (Target), The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate (Adventure), Pirates! (Tactics)
Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario Brothers 3 (Action), 1943: The Battle of Midway (Target), The Legend of Zelda (Adventure), Desert Commander (Tactics)
SEGA Master System
Marble Madness (Action), After Burner (Target), Phantasy Star (Adventure), Spy vs Spy (Tactics)
Earthworm Jim (Action), Gunstar Heroes (Target), Phantasy Star IV (Adventure), Dune II: Battle for Arrakis (Tactics)
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Mario World (Action), Star Fox (Target), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Adventure), SimCity (Tactics)
Tomb Raider (Action), Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei (Target), Panzer Dragoon Saga (Adventure), SimCity 2000 (Tactics)
DOOM II (Action), Diablo II (Target), Fallout (Adventure), StarCraft (Tactics)
Metal Gear Solid (Action), Einhander (Target), Final Fantasy VII (Adventure), Final Fantasy Tactics (Tactics)
Super Mario 64 (Action), Star Fox 64* (Target), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Adventure), Worms Armageddon (Tactics)
Sonic Adventure (Action), Rez (Target), Shenmue (Adventure), ChuChu Rocket! (Tactics)
Shadow of the Colossus (Action), Gradius V (Target), Okami (Adventure), Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Tactics)
Halo 2 (Action), Panzer Dragoon Orta (Target), Fable (Adventure), Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Tactics)
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (Action), Star Fox: Assault (Target), The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Adventure), Pikmin 2 (Tactics)
Portal (Action), flOw (Target), Fallout 3 (Adventure), Minecraft (Tactics)
Microsoft XBox 360
Bioshock (Action), Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (Target), Mass Effect 2 (Adventure), Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II (Tactics)
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Action), Boom Blox (Target), The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Adventure), Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Tactics)
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (Action), Flower (Target), Heavy Rain (Adventure), Brütal Legend (Tactics)
*Goldeneye 007 was the winning game in this category but cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions. Star Fox 64 received the next highest number of votes.
If you're in the Smithsonian's neighborhood, this might be cool to check out if for no other reason than visiting a video game exhibition in an art museum. Speaking of which, The Smithsonian is more accustomed to paintings and relics - items that can be enjoyed in quiet sanctity. Video games are loud, bright and demand your interaction (not an interpretive gaze from afar).
Some are saying this exhibit is too staid and lacking the energy that gamers create in their native gaming environments. You can't please everyone, but it's important to note this is not a curated exhibition. In other words, their was no central person/group maintaining a focus or organization of the exhibits. A curator is traditionally a keeper of a cultural heritage. Some are saying the lack of curation shows in the randomness and process of selecting games and then combining them into an exhibition.
Pre-History Era (pre-1971) - Games such as Spacewar proved popular on major university campuses, but no consumer video game products existed yet.
Consumer Era (1971-1977) - Video games became available to consumers in both coin-op form and home products that could be hooked up to television sets. Few games truly caught on during this time, however.
Boom Era (1978-1983) - Video games arrived in a big way starting with Space Invaders and went deep into the mainstream in both coin-op and home console form. Arcade machines set sales records that still stand today. However, this generation was unable to sustain itself. After sliding in 1982 the industry began an unstoppable downward spiral in 1983.
Crash Era (1984-1986) - The video game briefly joins the list of dead fads as most arcade locations close and retailers refuse to carry any video game products. Personal computer gaming managed to thrive. The Nintendo Entertainment System came along toward the end of this era and gained some steam...
NES Era (1987-1990) - Nintendo's console dominated the home console scene while surviving arcade locations stabilized behind strong titles not yet available for home play. While the NES manages to more than double the lifetime sales of the Atari 2600, other consoles struggle. Handheld gaming comes to be, starting with Nintendo's GameBoy. Video games are still considered "toys" by the media as the decade ends.
Nineties Era (1991-1999) - The 16-bit console wars split the gaming audience between Nintendo and Sega but increase the overall scale of the industry. Arcades see a semi-comeback behind popular fighting and sports titles. Consumers were unable to keep up with the majority of new console product, however, until Sony's PlayStation comes along, becoming the first console in history to sell more than 100 million units.
Millenium Generation (2000-2006) - The PlayStation 2 comes out to product shortages and an eBay frenzy, eventually trumping the lifetime sales of the first PlayStation. Microsoft's XBox brings new blood into the marketplace while Sega bows out. Nintendo finally moves on with the introduction of new handhelds, continuing their dominance in that area but struggling to regain the top spot with traditional consoles. Video games leave consumer toy labels into electronics and entertainment labels.
Modern Generation (2007-present) - The Nintendo Wii brings the Big N back to the top of the traditional console market with motion control. The PlayStation 3 stumbles out of the gate but helps Sony's Blu Ray win the disc format war. The XBox 360 brings Microsoft ahead of Sony in the console race. The Nintendo DS blows past the lifetime GameBoy sales numbers while all three traditional consoles reach the top five best selling consoles ever. Numerous titles break all-time gaming sales figures.
Atari never saved the music industry by hot-gluing game carts to 8-track tapes (Double Ender)
Every now and then I encounter this image and wonder why forums occasionally light up with eager collectors seeking this mystical music/gaming item.
I'm sure the quest begins with Googling "Tape Barn" in the hopes of chasing down a lead for the Atari Double-Ender. Disappointment must settle in when no such retailer appears. Most searches targeting this rare collectable point to a single page which, while convincing, is part of a site that parodies many things.
For the truly determined I suggest periodically checking eBay. In tough economic times I'm sure someone is willing to part with their Atari 2600-8-track Double Ender wonder to stave off foreclose.
One might even go to an independent gaming store in search of a clerk who might provide clues. Indie shops tend to harbor more retro knowledge. I'd avoid GameStop since their clerks were all born a decade after CD's came to market.
As a last ditch effort you may want to track down the Atari 2600 controller/dildo. Anyone who owns one of these must surely know about the elusive double-ender :)
BTW - You can download a trial copy of PhotoShop from Adobe and see what other bands you can add to the Double Ender play list. Don't forget to pick bands that pre-date the retail demise of 8-track tapes circa 1982. Proper fakery is all in the details.
Not long ago I worked near a Krispy Kreme and passed by on my commute to the office. Whenever the "Hot Now" light was lit up on their outdoor sign, you knew they were cranking out a fresh batch of glazed donuts and more often than not they'd give you a free one. If that light was on we'd stop in for a cup of coffee and a donut. At the time I thought this was an amazing marketing tool. We saw the light - we went into Krispy Kreme.
I'm delighted to see that this analog idea of "see sign - eat donuts" concept has crawled up the hill of technology in the form of apps and widgets. krispy Kreme has a suite of iPhone, Android and computer widgets that digitally light up when your local or nearby Krispy Kreme shop is rolling out a hot batch of donuts.
You can set it for your local shop or have it fire up when you are near a lit sign elsewhere. You can also manually launch it to validate donut status.
The problem with this app - aside from battery drain (I keep the auto alert off) - is it redefines frivolous. No one needs an app to alert them to that baking status of Krispy Kreme. That said, this thing is hella cool! Totally unnecessary, but who cares. Considering it serves no great purpose, it's nice to see that it works. Sure, some folks run into compatibility issues, but who doesn't?
For me, it's a fun app that caters to my passion for Krispy Kreme donuts and it's a clever marketing tool from the KK folks. So many apps are equally useless, but don't even work properly. In light of what it is (no pun intended) its nice to see that both the app and widget work well. It really sucks when an app like this doesn't even have the proper checks to ensure it works. Kudos to Krispy Kreme for scoring some well deserved points with this clever (albeit unnecessary) suite of donut tech tools!
If your behave yourself and respect the goodness of Krispy Kreme, perhaps their Donut Cruiser will roll into your town.
My amazement and confusion surged higher upon finding a whole site full of NES cartridges donning labels from recent PS3 and a few iPhone titles. I was certain that Bioshock did not originate from a 1985 gaming console.
Bottom line: these guys are creating art on NES carts!
But it goes beyond the final product. The designs are geared around currently released video game titles and rendered in a insanely appealing 8-bit fashion replacing the original "label area" of the cart with a retro-modern label. The coolest part is these are actual functioning NES carts. Upon buying one, you never know what game might be lurking on the carts innards, despite the cart being clearly labeled Halo, Red Dead Redemption or Super Meat Boy.
The cool-factor kept rising the more I read about 72 pins - like the name. Who doesn't remember all the tricks for getting NES carts to play when they didn't want to? That 72 pin connector was gaming nirvana's link from a plastic cart to the guts of the NES. And the rationale behind naming this creative venture, 72 Pins. Check out 72 Pins, their stuff is crazy-cool, imaginative and creative.
Hosted by Jenny Lorenzo, Geekgasm will definitely make you smile and quite likely laugh out loud. Full of tech, video game and geek references, the show moves fast so you may have to rewind to fully enjoy tidbits of inspiration such as:
"I don't like being an Ass-tard"
And if you're one of those annoying folks who dashes out of theaters the second the credits appear - sit your ass back down. Acknowledge the talented crew who make Geekgasm a joy to beg, behold and bookmark - then you will be rewarded with another classic Jenny dance.
Then - before you scurry off to hide that tube-sock at the bottom of the hamper - tell all your friends about Geekgasm and implore them to view it as many times as it takes to realize _____________.
(You fill in the blank. We don't know your fucking friends)
Somewhere among the minds of Warner Home Media, James Gunn and Suda51 Studios- Juliet Starling was created as the blonde avenger of San Romero HS. That's all well & good in the digital world, but someone (someone gorgeous, ruthless and sweet) has to "be" Juliet and rep the product at trade shows, do PR junkets and become Juliet Starling.
But where does one go to find "Juliet Starling"? The internet!
Meet Jessica Nigri - winner of the Search for Juliet contest!
Ms. Nigri seems to embody the spirit and look of Juliet Starling. I'm sure she'll do amazingly well at comic cons and PR junkets. What's not to like!
Bit 'O Trivia:
In the Lollipop Chainsaw game Ms. Starling is voiced by Tara Strong, a Canadian voice actress, who has worked with a number of animated children's programs, where she is well-known for providing the voices of male characters.
From it's capabilities to it's sleek lines, the Sony Vita gives off an air of perfection and sophisticated elegance - titles it deserves. But where does this leave Nintendo's 3D brainchild, the 3DS? Should comparisons be made on looks? Are we really going to dismiss it as "the kid's Mario machine"?
We all remember that dork in elementary school who grew up to become a legendary CEO and the president of the Chess Club who retired at 37 as a successful entrepreneur. None of us saw that coming when we were preoccupied with taunting them.
But we're fucking adults now, right?
So the above image arrived in my in-box declaring the 3DS as a "serious game machine". No shit, I thought... then my next conclusion was the thrust of my opening idea that the 3DS is somehow not serious when compared to the visual sleekness of the Vita. I've seen online posts making these same visual comparisons and trying to label these devices based on criteria we should have shed in grade school.
I welcome the tech-savvy discussions about processing power, integration and capabilities, but posts saying a bright red gaming device isn't serious when compared to a jet-black competitor is nonsense!!!
I still love my DS Lite for it's backward compatibility with my GameBoy Advance games, but I'm equally stoked about some of the 3DS titles to recently come to market. At the same time I'd love to delve into a Vita and revel in it's integration with the PS3. There are some delineations between the Sony and Nintendo handhelds, but I think there's a lot of crossover as well.
Go buy em both so I won't feel compelled to publish this sort of adulating drivel. Thanks ;)
Understandably, she now dons a laptop, cell phone and perhaps an updated prescription on those glasses she so conveniently loses at the worst times, but I'm skeptical that time has been this kind to her. Daphne - yes. But we always expected her to age well.
It'll be interesting to see how far the aging process (sexification) will go as the Mystery Gang forges ahead solving new mysteries and de-masking more villans hiding inside increasingly unlikely costumes.
From the Emotiv web site: Based on the latest developments in neuro-technology, Emotiv has developed a revolutionary new personal interface for human computer interaction. The Emotiv EPOC is a high resolution, neuro-signal acquisition and processing wireless neuroheadset.
It uses a set of sensors to tune into electric signals produced by the brain to detect player thoughts, feelings and expressions and connects wirelessly to most PCs.
If I had to guess... I suspect both products function about the same. Advances in such technology are likely more fashion oriented than tech-based :)
February 21, 2012
Knitting doesn't always have to result in a really shitty sweater
The concept of an "awful Christmas sweater" has become so cliche that some folks go out of their way to wear the most ridiculous one they can find. It must be some sort of honor among fashion-haters who want to send an official "fuck off" to bad wool traditions.
I think the true nature of the "awful Christmas sweater" needs to be taken a little more seriously. It doesn't really count unless a family member knitted it for you and destroys you with guilt if you don't wear it every fucking day in December... and a few days after New Years. Buying a ridiculous sweater at Macy's or Neiman Marcus takes away from the spirit of an obligatory shitty sweater.
On the other hand - knitting doesn't have to result in a demented Christmas scene plastered across an ill-fitting itchy garment. This Contra Sweater is awesome and brings Yuletide tears to my eyes. It restores my faith to know that handmade sweaters can still be placed in the "Kick Ass" category while retaining some holiday savvy.
Choke on this shit, Fashion Week!
February 20, 2012
Radio Shack sells gaming consoles? I must have missed that memo
Radio Shack has always been my destination for audio and video connectors, adaptors, cables, soldering irons and a few other electrical oddities. Their President's Day sale circular wound up in my in-box and nostalgia got the best of me and I clicked to see what scanners and whacky antennas they were hocking these days.
To my amazement, I saw a Sony Vita on the front page! WTF?!?
When did Radio Shack start selling video game consoles? A few more clicks revealed a Sony PS3! Was I in the fucking twilight zone?
Never in a million years would I have thought of The Shack when contemplating a gaming console purchase.
Nothing against them - but their last memorable marketing campaign I recall was that they offer cell phones with plans from the major carriers. And their stores resemble toy stores around Christmas. So when the Hell did they start selling video game consoles? Is this just a Sony venture? I didn't see any Xboxes in that sale flyer.
I venture into a Radio Shack on a monthly basis so I'm a bit phased that I can't recall ever seeing a PlayStation sitting on the shelf. Could I have glossed over such a sighting? Doubtful. That would be like ignoring the firearms section at my local bakery - kinda stands out, right?
So, I dropped into a local Radio Shack to ask one of their employees how long they've been selling game consoles at the Shack. The experience proved that not all clerks are created equal. One woman said they'd been selling them as long as she'd worked there - 6 months. Another Shack rep stepped to the plate offering the same conversion - 9 months. Both clerks seemed confident that they did not sell the games. I'll have to hit up another location in order to score some actual information on the matter. WTF!?!
The only reason I'm curious is that they're now selling the Vita and a few web searches revealed some great sale prices on gaming consoles during the last few holidays. I'll have to keep them in mind if they're offering a kick-ass sale on a needed console or handheld.
General Mills goes retro with cereal brands, including Cheerios, for Target
Aside from stocking up on Boo Berry, Frankenberry and Count Chocula around Halloween, I don't pay too much attention to the cereal aisle. I'm a staunch fan of Cheerios despite the FDA recently alerting General Mills that Cheerios don't actually cure Cancer. So you think I'd know if Atari was being promoted on a Cheerio's box.
I heard about this online and then discovered it's exclusive only to Target stores. I don't have a Target nearby and I tend to buy food at grocery stores since I rarely need tube socks or an oil filter when I'm stocking up on Pop Tarts, vegetables and hot dog buns.
The cereals that are available in Atari-themed packages include Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Honey Nut Cheerios, Cheerios, and Cocoa Puffs. General Mills said that the cereal boxes will feature graphics and trivia from popular Atari games, including Asteroids, Centipede, and Missile Command.
If you have a Target nearby, check out the cereal aisle!
Knowing only what we've read and seen in trailers we fully intend to snatch up a copy of Lollipop Chainsaw. We can't honestly give a review or lend any credence to the game's actual quality, but an inner compulsion demands we own this title! Here's hoping it's as good as it looks and people are saying.
February 7, 2012
Just when I thought I'd played Pac-Man. THIS is Pac-Man!
Officially released in January 2011, Pac-Man Battle Royale, by Namco Bandai, celebrates the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man with single-player and 4-player versus option in which each player has a unique colored Pac-Man that can eat dots as well as opponents.
Official description from their site:
Pac-Man Battle Royale is the first four player competitive Pac-Man arcade game. The original Pac-Man game concept has been given a cannibalistic twist: Eliminate your opponents by eating them and the last Pac-Man standing wins the round. When players eat a power pellet, they power-up by doubling in size and increasing in speed.
Once powered up, they are now able to eat non powered-up blue players and ghosts. Players of the same size simply bounce off each other. Players can also be eliminated by running into ghosts if there aren't any powered up players. Eating a piece of fruit or all of the pellets resets the maze with a fresh new set of power pellets.
At the end of the game, statistics are displayed for each players such as "Won Most Rounds" and "Ate Most Pac-Man", etc. The game is simple, competitive, and highly addictive.
My first reaction was to laugh, but that isn't to ignore the numerous gamer-girls out there who'd be stoked to get a 3DS on the 14th. Nearly all the girls I know would scoff at such a gift and assume - despite the pink color - that it was an attempt by their suitor to retain the handheld for himself.
It's a special girl who wants a portable gaming system for Valentine's Day in place of the traditional roses, jewelry and other sanctioned detritus. We heartily admire any woman who craves gaming hardware over flowers and baubles for Valentine's Day.
However if your have to travel the "rose" path, try these Thong-Roses. Each "rose" is a tightly wrapped thong, so it's really a gift that gives a little back to you. If your girl isn't down with thongs, perhaps you'll have to go with the $39 Zales heart pendant that every other chick is getting as a last minute gift.
Here's hoping your girl wants a 3DS - all the ladies want to go 3D for Valentine's Day, right? In the end... if she's the one, you'll get her whatever she wants :)
February 5, 2012
After conquering Hello Kitty, KISS sets video game sights on Angry Birds
Gene Simmons has set out to put the KISS logo on every single product, service, building, bumper sticker, etc... on the planet. Having recently teamed up with both Archie Comics and Hello Kitty, I've always wondered why there's never been a KISS video game. It seems like the perfect outlet for everything that KISS is!
Think about it - you could play as any of the 4 band members, each having unique powers. The sky is the limit for that sort of thing. It seems like just the over-the-top kind of venture that Gene & company love to delve in. Then I find out they may partner with Rovio's Angry Birds. Huh?
Yes, the screen above is fake.
I get the fact that Gene's mission with KISS is to make insane quantities of money so I guess Rovio makes financial sense as they are the gaming darling of today's smart phone oriented world. So, am I going to be downloading an app that lets me fling Gene, Paul, Peter & Ace at various structure? Yeah I know Ace & Peter are long gone, but that was MY Kiss back in the day. Destroyer - fuck yeah!!
The problem I have with this is that KISS is a huge brand - mammoth! A KISS video game should be run from six PS3s wired into a force of one and projected on a jumbotron in Times Square. KISS - the brand - seems bigger than a mere smart phone app. Apps are small by nature of the devices they operate on. KISS is fucking huge - too big to be wedged into a tiny screen with poor sound.
I hear KISS is also talking with Sony about gaming. I'm hoping this yields a larger-than-life game fitting of the Hottest Band in the Land!
I'm always down for some Angry Birds on my Android, I still adore my Atari 2600 and believe the PS3 has more compelling games with each coming year. Gaming spans many genres, styles and functions. Some of these overlap while others are quite unique. Nintendo cornered the market on mobile gaming with it's successive GameBoy products by filling that niche and doing it better than anyone else.
Suddenly cell phones have become ubiquitous and increasingly more powerful and the gaming industry took notice. The floodgates of games opened wide. And what's not to like? Most are free or a few bucks - no big deal.
I'm all for some Angry Birds or Stupid Zombies while waiting on line at a store or if I need to kill a few minutes. Most of the games fit that bill. They're simple and can be played on the fly without much care or investment. When I'm at home and have time to invest in a game, I head for the console or a portable (DS or PSP).
The gamer who will play an RPG for hours at a time isn't going to give up a real gaming platform for a cell phone. That isn't to say there aren't a lot of compelling games for phones, it's just a different experience. A PS3 or Vita can outpace a cell phone in a heartbeat in every way except file size. So, getting back to that article on Vita's certain demise due to cell phone market share seems a bit reaching. If you trade in your DS for a Razr, I'm pretty sure you're more interested in tweeting and texting than gaming.
I love that Atari classics are available on iOS, but I'd rather play them on a vintage console even though the arcade ports may not be as good. Maybe I'm a victim of my own generation. Having grown up on a progression of home consoles - it's just how gaming is done... for me.
Sony Vita's Potential Pitfall
I think the Vita's success is dependent on price point, perceived value of future game titles and extra offerings outside pure gaming. The nearly instantaneous price drop of the 3DS makes me nervous about the initial Vita pricing. Nintendo still has not - in my opinion - released a compelling enough selection of self-branded or 3rd party titles to entice the masses to make the 3D leap. On the other hand, Nintendo offered some interesting non-gaming add-ons that I think the Vita could leverage.
People view smart phones as the end-all be-all of mobile devices. In a way that's accurate, but perception is always dominant to any reality. Adding games to phones makes them seem more valuable. I feel some of the 3DS' non-gaming features made it a more compelling device. The dual lens camera with the merge feature offered some interesting effects as well as the photo-to-Mii tool and StreetPass. These add-ons give consumers the idea that they are getting more than a handheld gaming platform.
I hope the Vita and 3DS flourish as dedicated handheld gaming certainly has a strong hold. I can only hope the economy turns around so more people will feel comfortable investing in these devices. Go Vita!
It's a great story that has become renown as a great work of modern literature. In today's world of high tech gadgets and frantic pace to get by, books are falling by the wayside as e-readers and digital entertainment vie for our time and dollars.
Just when you think everything that can be invented has been... let your literary cravings double-duty as an iPhone charger!
As you lay down Scout's realization of Boo Radley on your coffee table to go send out a few tweets and Facebook updates, drop your iPhone on Lee's work and raise your battery bars.
Stop by this Etsy shop and find your favorite book (lots of available titles) with a built-in iPhone charger. The beauty is that the book is not a hollowed out shell crammed with chips and wires. It's an actual readable tome with the charger tucked into the cover. People seem to like oversized coffee table books... why not get a timeless classic and show off your literary standing while it charges your phone?
I love the ingenuity of this product, but can't help wondering if this is the only way to get people to read books these days. Go read a good book - even if it won't charge your phone! :)
I was on a business trip and seeking out some breakfast at the hotel's buffet where I encountered a guy shouting at the food. Naturally, I assumed he was insane or very displeased with the fruit salad. Standing alone, making no eye contact, he was spouting off angrily about something. I didn't want to get close enough to possibly become snared in his lunacy. At the same time, if he wasn't going to move away from the muffins, I was going to have to swoop in and snag one quick - hoping I wouldn't become his next imaginary friend. As I reached for my muffin, I saw the giant ear-thingie and it dawned on me he was "on the phone".
Next thing I know, every douche at the mall is sporting a wireless dongle of sorts and loudly shouting into the air with whomever they decided to call as they gazed around hoping to be noticed as geek-worthy, cool, hip... Who knows, but they definitely wanted the attention of strangers more than a meaningful phone conversation.
So, the precedent has been set that it's far too much effort to take out your phone and hold it to your ear to talk. Of course no one makes phone calls anymore - they fucking text everything. The only time a phone leaves one's belt or purse is to text or play a game. I'm all for wireless headsets for driving safety, but this constant need to yell into open space is fairly disturbing.
The next logical step is to remove that occasional need to glance at your phone by porting morsels of digital info to a move convenient location - like your arm. The smart watch is born!
Now that annoying vibration of cellular interaction can be met with a turn of your wrist to see who texted, tweeted or "liked" some dumb shit on your Facebook page. The technology is pretty cool but is this necessary?
My inner geek really wants a smart watch, but the very notion of owning one takes me back to necessity -vs- curiosity. I'm still OK with having all the bells & whistles of a smart phone combined with the need to actually look at the damn thing. God help us if these smart watches don't have a clock somewhere in the mix!
I guess the time to be hat shopping is in the sweltering heat of Summer. No wonder "fashion" is such a strange business. Odder still, retail stores don't seem to find this at all strange. As you can see I don't do a whole lot of clothing shopping. So, anyway...
Black Milk Clothing seems to be the force behind these galactic and gaming swimsuits. They appear to have come out last season, but isn't every year a good year to geek out? We think so. I guess we got deleted from that fashion-forward mailing list. I'm sure you ladies can find these wonders out there somewhere. And it's worth the look, because showing your geek side, sea-side is a cool as it gets especially if you have an Apple Airbook in your beach bag - way cooler than going Kindle at the beach!
We're not sure what sort of guys will start hitting on you when they see your Pac-Man classic retro splendor, but you'll be sending a message that will be pleasantly received by those of the Atari and early Nintendo generation. However when you do the math on this set, you might be better off attracting their offspring.
Either way, we'd love to see the ladies exhibiting their inner and/or outer geek by the pool or ocean. Suit up!
History can be a fascinating thing as long as it's not part of a 45 minute drudge session in an overcrowded classroom. World leaders and famous battles tend to be boring topics as explained by most school teachers. I remember the days of memorizing the order of U.S. Presidents and renown dates throughout history. Boring stuff in my book.
However... tell me how soon Asteroids came out for the Atari 2600 after debuting in arcades and you have my full attention and interest!
Today I received a message urging me to sign a petition to "Save Flynn's Arcade", I drew a blank - save a fictional arcade? (so, much for my knowledge of gaming history). One Google search later and I was suddenly outraged that Flynn's Arcade actually exists and I knew nothing about it. WTF! And it's going to be closed down!?! Fuck that noise!
Discovering there was an actual Flynn's Arcade based entirely on the fictional arcade in Tron got me pretty pumped up. As a tie-in to the 2010 release of Tron Legacy, Disneyland, in Ca, tried to beef up a quiet part of their amusement park with an area called ElecTRONica, complete with a replica of Flynn's Arcade. Game play is 25¢ and comes in the form of custom Flynn's tokens. Awesome! And it's home to the only coin-op version of Space Paranoids, the game from the original Tron film.
I loved the 1982 original and was stoked when Tron Legacy emerged complete with Jeff Bridges reprising his former role! That was brilliant... as was casting Olivia Wilde;) Speaking of brilliant: The Commodore 64 debuted in 1982 and had a Disney tie-in with the original Tron film. So, HOLY SHIT! Disney built a replica of Flynn's Arcade and stocked it with 1980 retro gaming goodness. How cool is that!?!
So upon discovering the existence of this gaming Meca, it seems as though it's outlived it's value to Disney's cash flow and is slated for closure. I remember when my favorite skateboard shop became a laundromat and y childhood arcade was bought out by the furniture store next door. As a kid I felt helpless in losing those treasures.
Just recently the web stood up and told Congress that SPA & PIPA were shit and it seemed to have an effect. I'd hate to see something as cool as Flynn's Arcade vanish. If the petition I was sent could help, I'm all for it. I don't know the whole story behind Flynn's closure, but if this petition will get the powers that be to reconsider - I say sign it! Check out the petition to save Flynn's Arcade.
ElecTRONica is a melding between club kids and Sci-Fi fanboys in an effort to create the ultimate futuristic party zone. Combining elements of Tron's visual appeal and alcohol with classic arcade games housed in Flynn's Arcade.
Shoes of this sort are often manufactured with kids in mind and don't come in adult sizes. My recollection was that these came in a full rage of sizes. I'm pissed I can't finde the site I saw them on. Anyone have a source? Give us a shout.
I guess the answer is Mickey Mouse when inquiring, "Who do I have to fuck to get some attention around here?"
OK, this one looks like it must have been PhotoShopped!
January 18, 2012
Even as a small site we tried to raise awareness about the evil in SOPA
It was awesome to see some of the internet giants going dark and raising awareness about the evils of lax piracy laws like SOPA that would likely cause more ruin than justice. We feel SOPA is a ruse to allow government unfettered ability to shut down any web sites they feel are "not in their best interests."
Awareness is such a key part of defeating moronic legislature. Until the masses understand the ramifications, there isn't a large enough group of people (voters) to send a significant message to government bureaucrats. With sites like Google and Wikipedia raising awareness via the huge amount of traffic to their sites, more people become knowledgeable of the facts.
Every single person who realizes the dangers in bills like SOPA and PIPA is a win for the cause. As a minuscule site on the web, we can only hope a few folks saw our SOPA page and thought, "Fuck SOPA!"
January 16, 2012
Project Fiona: a Razer gaming tablet or a hot chick with a gun?
As far as PC gaming goes I have to admit I'm a console fanatic. Playing games on a PC never really appealed to me. I never liked the idea of pounding the space bar to initiate a kill. Ya know, I can't lose the functionality of the keyboard because I was wailing on it in the pursuit of zombie kills. And I'm not wild about smudging my phone's screen in an attempt to fling a bird at a pig. But Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) from burn Notice is another story.
I had to mention Razer's Project Fiona due to the wacky look of it with the dual controller/handle thingies. In theory it was designed to mimic existing console controller schemes so games don't have to be overly re-worked for porting to Fiona. It's geared for gaming but has all the attributes of other tablets in terms of functionality.
Running a hybrid variant of Windows 8 on a third generation Core i7 processor with audio claimed to have been certified by THX it sounds good. But for $1,000 I'm still thinking I'd rather not suffer the perpetual oddities of Microsoft products and go with an iPad shoved into an iCade.
However, if you think about the progression of portable gaming and computing, the iPad has taught us that tablets are here to stay and will only get better. Smart-phones are used for all sorts of things... but rarely making a phone call.
Gaming has taken over the previous pursuit of having a phone/PDA sort of device. You can't game on a cheap-ass phone and you can't call your friends on a Nintendo 3DS. Smart-phones are filling a void we may not have known was void until we saw all these gadgets begin to merge. Rumor has it that Fiona will run PC games effortlessly.
Incorporating accelerometers and a multi-touch screen gives it the ability to take on gaming oddities known primarily on smart-phones - tilting, shaking and getting fingerprints all over the screen. New games will inevitably be developed to take advantage of these more physical factors that will likely reinvent gaming yet again.
Why can't everyone just be happy with Atari classics ported to every new device? Seems cheaper than al this new tech :)
January 12, 2012
If your gaming-snack of choice is a box of Twinkies or Ho Hos- start stocking up!
If you're in the habit of snacking while playing video games, and your favorite snack is a Hostess product, you may find such things as Twinkies in short supply. A recent bankruptcy filing could leave junk-food aficionados in the lurch when it comes to getting fat in front of the TV. OK, it's not that dire. Hostess will march on, but it's hard to imagine a privately held company of 80+ years failing.
How many Hollywood disaster-movie scenarios depict massive runs on banks and grocery stores? All of em! So when it comes to getting a fix of Ho Hos or Twinkies - expect the worst. It's been rumored that Twinkies might be one of the few packaged foods capable of surviving nuclear armageddon with a shelf-life of 25 years. More accurate sources confirm that Twinkies tend to become toxic after 25 days. Sorry, survivalists...
Personally, I grew up with stronger tendencies toward chocolate, so my desires tOok me down the Ho Ho path. Now THAT is a damn good tasting snack. I love the way the brittle chocolate covering cracks, when bitten, letting the cake and filling ooze freely. It's not part of any diet plan, but Hostess knows how to make snacks. I love Ho Hos! Who could forget Chief Big Wheels? Hell now I'm thinking about the Frito Bandito - oh shit!
Participation is simple - in fact all the instructions fit into ta single Tweet which is how the Review A Bad Game Day holiday came to be. Fire up your computer and write a review of a bad video game and have it posted online for August 8th. It doesn't get easier than that!
The date 8/8 likens itself nicely to retro gamers' passion for 8-bit games. Created by Nintendo Legend on Twitter, Review A Bad Game Day evolved from a tweet which garnered the attention of gamers who liked the idea and wanted in on the celebration.
An official press release lays out the full story, conditions and list of participants. Check it out and join in with a bad review.
Tell everyone you know about Review A Bad Game Day! It's a fucking holiday - let the Review A Bad Game Day celebrations commence!
January 6, 2012
Amazon's Retro NES bundle breaks the bank
If you're down for some classic retro gaming, the NES is a good place to start. Ok, we'd advise taking the Way-Back Machine to the late seventies for some 2600 action, but Nintendo is still a winner. Combining this hankering for retro 8-bit gaming with a money saving bundle sounds good, but this one seems a tad pricey for our budget.
Once Amazon began selling underwear and lawn chairs, it was evident that this digital retail giant was poised to take over the web. These days you can buy anything from Amazon and occasionally they have some great deals.
The Retro Entertainment System (an NES clone) seems like a fair price at $18, providing you don't have an original, but these cart prices are unreal! Maybe I'm missing something in the realm of rarity, but I can find either cart for around $20 on eBay. I'm wondering how "frequently" Amazon sells this bundle for nearly $1,300!!
At these prices, I'm happy to downgrade the full experience and find a few ROMs to play!
I scoff at those "office-style" chairs with built-in speakers that are sold as gaming chairs. Why are they "gaming" chairs - because they have speakers? Not buying it!
Sound is an important element, but a chair deemed a gaming-chair should be ultra comfortable. And nothing is as comfortable as a beanbag chair. I've loved them from my childhood, but today you can purchase gigantic ones in which you can lounge, game and eat! What could be better?
Give your ass a break and get really comfortable in front of the TV. The one pictured here is from Sumo. I'd gladly evict that chick and plant my butt in it and absorb all the delight of sinking into a kick-ass beanbag chair with an amazing video game!
Apple logos are appearing in some fairly unusual places. And who doesn't benefit from all these Apple branded self-shot pictures?
Go buy an iPhone!
January 1, 2012
Why did Activision's brilliant Skylander marketing campaign end so abruptly after Christmas?
I was (and still am) awestruck by the brilliance behind Activision's Skylanders game. The idea of adding characters via a wireless portal on which actual figurines are placed, is genius! A welcome change to the traditional "unlocking" of extra characters based on points or achievements. This ensures gamers will adopt the idea from the 3-character starter pack, then flock to the stores to load up on more characters. Seems logical, right?
Before Christmas, Toys R Us had BOGO offers on all video game accessories and considered the Skylander figures "accessories". Hence I went nuts buying the 3-packs of figures smiling to myself about the Buy One, Get One Free offer. Yay! I believe I bought all the 3-packs that Toys R Us carried. I'm guessing other retailers were given exclusive rights to other packs to spread the wealth... so to speak.
My son was delighted to be inundated with Skylander figures on Christmas morning. We were able to open all sorts of areas, but lacked any characters from the "Air" clique, so we waded back into post Christmas retail-Hell to see if we couldn't find a few more. To our dismay, every Skylander display we found was barren - no figures to be found. We tried two GameStops, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart. No one seemed to have any Skylanders the entire week following Christmas! WTF!
I was certain we'd find a festive trove of Skylanders at some of the stores, but NO. I guess retailers looked at this "toy" like most others deeming it a "space hog" if it was still on the shelves on Dec. 26. How short sighted! This is the sort of game that motivates folks to crave/buy MORE! I'm sure stock levels will rise in the coming weeks, but I can't help but wonder how many sales will be lost by not being able to expand people's Skylander collections immediately. We live in a world of instant-gratification!
Hope everyone had a great holiday and did at least a little bit of skylanding ;)
January 1, 2012
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to all you retro gamers!