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8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Third Quarter 2012 - July, August, September

September 2012 Retro Gaming Articles:

September 30, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Controversy erupted over 1988 Vixen video game box cover featuring Page Three model

* *Elements of this article are NSFW **

Vixen on the Atari ST 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.

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 ;)
Your Sinclair May 1988
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.

Your Sinclair May 1988 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 :)

Vixen screenshot
September 29, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Star Wars Sushi chops | Expensive Kirby | All Your Base Game Store

Dig into sushi like a Jedi
Dig into sushi like a Jedi.
I think I'll pick up the used one for $11
I think I'll pick up the used one for $11.89
All Your Base Used Video Game store
All Your Base Used Video Game store. If I owned a game store, you can bet you last dollar this is what I'd name it!!

September 28, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

When presidential campaigns use online gaming to target specific markets - include retro gamers :)

President Obama's campaign uses video games to advertise
Many reputable news outlets, like PBS NewsHour (not like Fox News or the drivel on network channels), have reported the use of video games in the presidential campaign. By targeting online gamers, they feel they can reach an untapped audience.

President Obama's campaign uses video games to advertise 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.

Get out the 8 bit vote!!
September 27, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

SFT brings SNES gaming into the new millennium with Nightmare Busters on a cart

Nightmare Busters for SNES in 2012
When you hear of a game in 2012 for a system that debuted in 1991 (and discontinued in 1999), the definition of "Must Have" tends to change a bit. Suddenly it's not about getting the latest greatest game cart. It's about getting a game that's actually ON a cart!

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!

Boulder Dash for Atari 2600
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 ;)
September 26, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Finn saves princesses | Retro nude surprised by the comic rack

Comic bood dress geek girl
Adventure Time! Calm down and tend to the princesses.
nude at  the comic shop
Busted by the comic rack

September 25, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

GameStop stopped taking Wii U pre-orders, but will now wait list you for free?

News of GameStop's Wii U pre-order halt raced across the net as many of us wondered if there would be a Santa Fail on delivering a new game console for the Holidays. Heavy demand seemed to be the cause for this halt as droves of gamers put down full cost to secure a round of ZombieU for Christmas.

Is hardware in short supply? Did GameStop reach an allocation allotment?

GameStop Wii U Waitlist
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.

GameStop Wii U Waitlist
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.
September 25, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Up up down down... Fire up the NES, it's time to play Contra

If you grew up in the NES era or just love the former Pachinko manufacturer's little gray box, you're probably familiar with the Konami Code. Also known as the Contra Code when Nintendo released Contra for the NES in 1988. Gamers already knew this title from the prior year's release of Contra in arcades.

Konami Code
Konami Contra for NES 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!
September 24, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

For the woman who can recite cheat codes like the 80s never ended | Atari Santa

Super Mario Chompie Piranha Plant earrings
Super Mario Chompie Piranha Plant earrings.
Santa realizes his elves need engineering degrees
Santa realizes his elves need engineering degrees.

September 23, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Think game downloads are too slow? Then don't try a CVC GameLine RJ-11 modem on your Atari 2600

Do you ever stop and marvel at iTunes? Were you previously amazed to get a Van Halen vinyl LP in the mail from the Columbia House Record Club? Or are you one of the hipsters that jumped on the Mtv bandwagon as the Martha Quinn era rolled out?
Compuserve and Prodigy logos
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.

CVC Gameline ad 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.
CVC Gameline packaging box
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.
CVC Gameline Masterfile
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.

Games offered by CVC GameLine

  • Airlock
  • Alien
  • Atlantis
  • Bank Heist
  • Bermuda Triangle
  • Boing
  • Bugs
  • Cakewalk
  • China Syndrome
  • Coconuts
  • Commando Raid
  • Cosmic Ark
  • Cosmic Creeps
  • Cosmic Swarm
  • Cross Force
  • Crypts of Chaos
  • Deadly Duck
  • Demolition Herby
  • Demon Attack
  • Dragonfire
  • The Earth Dies Screaming
  • Eggomania
  • Encounter At L-5
  • Entombed
  • Fantastic Voyage
  • Fast Food
  • Fire Fighter
  • Flash Gordon
  • Frankenstein's Monster
  • Gangster Alley
  • Gopher
  • Guardian
  • Infiltrate
  • Jawbreaker
  • King Kong
  • Lost Luggage
  • M. A. D.
  • Marauder
  • M*A*S*H
  • Megaforce
  • Mines of Minos
  • Moonsweeper
  • Name This Game
  • Nexar
  • Nightmare
  • No Escape
  • Picnic
  • Piece O' Cake
  • Planet Patrol
  • Polaris
  • Porky's
  • Raft Rider
  • Ram It
  • Revenge of the Beefsteak Tomatoes
  • Riddle of the Sphinx
  • Room Of Doom
  • Save The Whales
  • Shark Attack
  • Shootin' Gallery
  • Sneak & Peek
  • Solar Storm
  • Space Cavern
  • Space Jockey
  • Spacemaster X-7
  • Squeeze Box
  • Sssnake
  • Stargunner
  • Star Voyager
  • Tape Worm
  • Threshold
  • Towering Inferno
  • Trick Shot
  • Turmoil
  • Warplock
  • Word Zapper
  • Worm War I

September 21, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Wild Mouse Films to reboot the holidays w/ an 8-bit flick, @ChristmasBytes! Help make it happen!

Many of us have Christmas memories from childhood that included the deep gut-wrenching craving for a new game console under the tree. The 'Rents said "Maybe", but that wasn't good enough! When the magic of Christmas is compounded by new Atari, Coleco or Mattel hardware - you absolutely must have that cool new console! Your kids want a Wii U this Christmas, right? 8-bit flick, Christmas Bytes by Wild Mouse Films

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

September 19, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The bounty huntress, Mrs. Fett #StarWars & a geek girl comic book dress

The bounty huntress, Mrs. Fett #StarWars
The bounty huntress, Mrs. Fett.
Comic bood dress geek girl
Geek girl in a comic book dress.

September 16, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Kirby turns 20. He still can't drink, but that's quite a milestone

Kirby's Dream Collection Starting with the original Game Boy in April of 1992, Kirby has powered his way through nearly all of Nintendo's hardware offerings including the Wii. He didn't make it to the Virtual Boy, but a pink puffball isn't going to show up in a red world anyway.

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 Game Boy 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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Ouya is manufacturing the 1st factory-made prototype to test design assumptions

Ouya 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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

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!

Mustard 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.

Mustard 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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

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.

GameStop ramps up for the Wii U launch via pre-orders 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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

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?
EA Sports Challenge 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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Trading in games has come a long way, but the customer still loses in the "for-profit" model

Electronics Boutique game trade-in flyer
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.
September 8, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Why can't G4TV retain it's gaming element in a new format?

G4 TV to retire in 2013 Although disappointed, I can't say I was terribly surprised to read of G4's demise reported in The Examiner. Having been dropped from DirecTV satellite and cutbacks to their more prominent gaming shows amidst the exit of high-value personnel, G4's focus has moved from the gaming industry toward generic crap like COPS reruns and the like.

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.
Ryan Seacrest on Cnet Central
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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Promotional oddities: Buy 4 tires... get a free Wii... from Kevin Butler?

Bridgestone wii promotion 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! :)
September 5, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From Virtual Tennis to Topspin, Andy Roddick retires a champion of tennis at the US Open

I've been thoroughly wrapped up in the US Open with periodic interludes of TopSpin and Virtua Tennis and even a few games of Snoopy Tennis on Game Boy Color. I can never get enough tennis during the Grand Slams.

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.

Andy Roddick retires a champion of tennis at the US Open 2012
Maria sharapova charges forward to the semi-final at the US Open 2012 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.

August 2012 Retro Gaming Articles:

August 30, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If GameStop goes retro... prices go up... retro gamers go Berzerk (no pun intended)

If GameStop goes retro... I was watching the US Open, contemplating the retirement of Andy Roddick and wondering if he'll follow Maria and launch a Gummy-Racquet candy company... maybe SugaRoddick.

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 :)
August 28, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Maria Sharapova has tasty lips and gummy balls - via her new candy company, Sugarpova

With the US Open in full swing, in NYC, and Maria Sharapova wiping the court with her opponent, I begin to think PS3 and is Maria in Topspin or Virtua Tennis? And why can't I ever remember that?

Maria Sharapova's new candy company, Sugarpova
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.

Maria Sharapova's new candy company, Sugarpova
August 27, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Slick geek jewelry dispenses with Scrabble tiles in favor of the periodic table

Slick geek jewelry dispenses with Scrabble tiles in favor of the periodic table Everyone knows that Geekgasm's Jenny Lorenzo has the periodic table nailed, so we were pretty amped over this clever interpretation of the table. Scrabble game tiles as jewelry has been done and it's nice to see such a cool geek interpretation of the Periodic table.

You can find these doo-dads in Wendy J's Etsy store.
August 26, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Fleshlight's Back-To-School sales redefine dress codes and the proper contents of your pencil case

I'm accustomed to every business on the planet rallying around the notion of a "Back To School" Sale, but shouldn't kids be able to get everything they need at an office supply store and clothing retailer?

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...

Fleshlight's Back-To-School sale
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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

RIP Neil Armstrong - The first man to walk on the moon

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.
August 24, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

That's not a moving van in front of my house. It's an arcade from Rolling Video Games

Rolling Video Games truck Some things never go out of style - like video games and fun. At least that's the mantra Rolling Video Games runs under. We all have game consoles in our living rooms, but they're not really set up for mass play. So, what can you do?

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.

Rolling Video Games truck 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.
August 23, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Simplifying chiptunes for retro gamers and enthusiasts alike, the Pianocade delivers with arcade flair

The Pianocade MIDI instrument simplifies chiptunes for retro gamers and enthusiasts alike For fans of retro gaming music and/or chiptunes with an interest in a very unique musical instrument - the Pianocade by Toronto's Portmanteau Devices may be just what you need! The arcade joystick and fire-buttons make this instrument very appealing even to the musically-challenged, like myself.

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!
August 21, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The controversy of Red Sea Crossing for Atari 2600 surfaces again via online auction

Red Sea Crossing for Atari 2600 ad Ah the Red Sea Crossing controversy rises once again... Forums are buzzing about a guy claiming to have one of only 100 carts produced and sold via mail order. A promised online auction was delayed for unknown reason - perhaps he doesn't really have a copy. Who knows in the internet age of maximum BS.

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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

RIP Nintendo Power Magazine: the only mag I looked forward to reading cover-to-cover

the first issue of Nintendo Power Magazine 1988 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.
August 21, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

NeoGeo X Gold arrives in December to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the NEOGEO AES console

Atari has long known the value of some of it's early works. In fact I'd hazard to say games from the Asteroids and Missile Command era are likely what keeps the money rolling in. OK, I could be wrong, but those early games are still insanely popular and have even made their way onto iOS systems. But did the Flashback console series do justice to the Atari 2600?

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.
Ouya video game console
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).

NeoGeo X Gold arrives in December to commemorate the 20th aniversary of the NEOGEO AES console 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.

NeoGeo X handheld game console
NeoGeo X handheld game listing 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.
August 20, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

After their successful Kickstarter campaign, the Ouya web site is pretty slim on info

Ouya video game console I can't say the Ouya Kickstarter page held all the answers, but it did get me to toss $99 at the effort in exchange for one of their cute little Android consoles. Now that they achieved their goal - as far as the Kickstarter campaign is concerned - I'm a little surprised that their official Ouya website doesn't even contain the limited info originally presented.

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.
August 19, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Video Game Vixens starring Jenna Haze is garden-variety porn that's sparse on gaming

I came across this 2007 gem through a random google search. Everyone knows porn comes up even when not actually searching for it ;) And while we're on the topic...

Video Game Vixens starring Jenna Haze is garden-variety porn that's sparce on gaming Who wouldn't love to see Jenna Haze writhing with an Atari 2600 joystick in hand or Alexa Lynn's face buried in a Virtual Boy? 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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

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!
the Pac-Man Frog
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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The world's most interesting man needs an Atari 2600

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.
August 11, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

There should be a rescue organization for arcade cabinets - like those animal rescue orgs

Ms Pac-Man arcade cabinet left outside I took my son to the go-kart track where they also have a small arcade. I noticed a Ms. Pac-Man cabinet next to the track. I was pretty excited to find it, but I was rather distressed by it's location. Outside!!!

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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sizing up the Ouya gaming console - its a matter of inches & letters

Ouya size comarison 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.
Ouya controller
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!

Ouya button labels
August 1, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

When you're a retro gamer you tend to have a lot of other retro tendencies bouncing around

Murray Chopper My son is here with me for the second part of his Summer vacation with me. From the beach and arcades to bike riding and console gaming - we pack a lot of fun into a few short weeks. And they're the best weeks of the entire year!

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!

July 2012 Retro Gaming Articles:

July 27, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Ouya gaming console exposes a little more skin (or plastic) and partners with OnLive

full view of the Ouya game controller The Ouya team released a few more images of their upcoming Android-based gaming Console. Prior they had released a partial picture of their controller - now they present it in full view. The Ouya Kickstarter page (which seems to be their only web presence at this time) indicates that "the design is still in progress". I'm interested to know how this "in progress" status effects the schedule for mass production.

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. top of the Ouya game console
July 26, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

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.
My local movie theater has a Pac-Man Galaga combo arcade cabinet
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! :)
July 25, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Maxim Gamer Girl contest involved a keen understanding of the new math

I'm a bit skeptical of this contest. I don't mean to take anything away from Kaitlin, as the winner. I'm sure she can parlay this into something pretty cool if she makes some good industry contacts.

Gamer Girl contest winner 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.

Tradechat Maxim Gamer Girl vote tally on May 14, 2012 = 50000
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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Google acts disinterested in fixing YouTube's many flaws & fails as functionality circles the drain

Google seems disinterested in fixing any of YouTubes many flaws and fails 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.
July 23, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pringles extends brand-life by turning garbage into an impromptu audio speaker

Pringles speaker-can When gaming in public on your Lynx, DS, PSP, Vita or other device of choice you may get leering looks from those who don't appreciate your desire to game in public. Headphones are the typical resolution for continued gaming enjoyment while keeping the din to a minimum.

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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

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.
Colorado tragedy spurs instant blame rather than solutions
Entirely lacking shame, these nuts launched their attacks (blame) on the usual suspects:
  • Gun ownership
  • 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!"
July 19, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Minty fresh-breath candy company deploys a fun frantic-paced mini-game app for smartphones

screenshot of Tic Tac mini game app for smartphones- mobile gaming If the truth be told I'm a chocolate fan. Hard candies, mints in particular, just don't cut it for me. I've never bough Tic Tacs in my life and don't intend to, but that doesn't mean their marketing arm can't reach out and pique my curiosity.

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 Gaming Blog Post:

Retro styled Instagram camera takes me back to the days of photographing high scores

Retro styled Instagram camera 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.

Retro styled Instagram camera
July 16, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Game Genie gets a cart-slot upgrade for a USB cheat bonanza on your PS3

Game Genie logo Remember the Galoob Game Genie from days gone by? Such controversy over cheat codes! We could type in endless strings of A B UP UP etc, but was a lot easier to sneak a Game Genie beween cart and console for an automated ascent to God Mode and all the power that came with it.

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.
Galoob Game Genie for NES
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 ;)
Hyperkin USB Game Genie for Sony PS3
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.
July 11, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Crowd sourcing stats show Ouya Android gaming console a promising addition to your living room

Retro gamers often have gripes with mobile games on smart phones. It's not that we don't like the games - it's the fact that we grew up playing games on a TV, not a tiny mobile screen. Add all the bell & whistles you'd like, a 4" screen is no match for the 19 inch TVs (some black & white) of our childhoods.

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.
Ouya Android gaming console
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 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Jake & Finn invade your TV and Nintendo DS & 3DS in Adventure Time

first season of Pendleton Ward's 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.
Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd You Steal Our Garbage? for Nintendo DS and 3DS
July 9, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Wrap some retro gaming style around your iPhone

As savvy as we found the Etch-A-Sketch iPad cover, we also approve wrapping a Game Boy look around your iPhone ;)

Wrap some retro gaming style around your iPhone
July 8, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Super N64 Girl fights crime 64 bits at a time

Super N64 Girl fights crime 64 bits at a time While making a recent video we had the need for Super Girl combined with Nintendo's prowess, so we concocted Super N64 Girl.

Feeling it wold be a shame to have her exist only in the small framework of 2-seconds of video, we opted to give her a home right here ;)
July 4, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy Fourth of July! Happy Fourth of July