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

8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Third Quarter 2013 - July, August, September

Check out the retro gaming finds, conclusions and oddities we've discovered in 2013!

September 2013 Retro Gaming Articles:

September 30, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Great website: How Many People Are In Space Right Now?

Man's race to the Moon in the 60's transfixed the world on the idea of humans traveling farther than anyone could ever have imagined. As time passed, a disconnect between NASA, the quest to understand our solar system and the average person led to decreased interest in the Space Program to the point at which the nightly news didn't bother to cover launches of the Space Shuttle.

Every time I see a full moon, I stop in amazement that man has been there, brought a small vehicle and drove around! Satellites have now ventured beyond the boundary of our solar system!

Next time you're star gazing, remember that people are still as fascinated by Space as you may have been as a child. Those people are out there now, exploring an amazing array of things including the celestial body that helped Harold and his purple crayon find their way home...

This is a very simple site that will hopefully spur a lot of thought and interest!

Breaking Bad Story Sync Along with the number of people in space right now, the site also lists basic info about the astronauts currently in Space and links to more info.

Oleg Kotov, Soyuz Commander - 5 Days in space
Mike Hopkins, Flight Engineer - 5 Days in space
Sergey Ryazanskiy, Flight Engineer - 5 Days in space
Fyodor Yurchikhin, Commander - 125 Days in space
Karen Nyberg, Flight Engineer - 125 Days in space
Luca Parmitano, Flight Engineer - 125 Days in space

September 30, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

GTAV advertised on AMC's Breaking Bad Story Sync 2-screen simulcast

Breaking Bad Story Sync logo I often have my smart phone on hand (or a book) while watching TV. This is mainly because few TV shows really engage their audience. "Listening in" while surfing the web is all one needs to do to take in the happenings on the average show. Sure, there are a few exceptions to this and Breaking Bad is certainly one of them.

AMC was heavily pushing their dual-screen TV experience during the Breaking Bad marathon. My experience with this sort of thing is viewing Twitter reactions during a show's airing. In a world of DVR, it's amazing that anyone watches television shows during their airing. AMC's dedicated website for Breaking Bad interaction sounded interesting (Story Sync is available for other AMC shows too). So, I gave it a try.

Breaking Bad is a very engaging show. So much that I really didn't want to look away to see what this Story Sync thing was all about. I think there was a whole discussion element to it, but I certainly wasn't going to devote that much attention away from the TV! What I did enjoy was the website's updates during the show. It offered engaging polls and quizzes along with photos and recaps. Most interesting were the interactive polls/quizzes. They were quick and wonderfully timed with the action on the TV. It all tied together well without being too distracting and there was not lag or other internet issues - which are common with popular sites.

In terms of dual advertising (on the TV and the Web), the first thing I noticed was Grand Theft Auto V ads were showing up quite regularly online. Despite a heavy campaign for the new game title, this was a great tie-in for RockStar Games. Walter White and GTAV - Hell yeah!

Breaking Bad Story Sync Product placement has always tried to maintain a subliminal role in pop culture media. There was always an Apple computer on the Seinfeld set! From cars to jewelry, corporations have entire divisions dedicated to getting their products on-set. Since on one watches commercials any more, it's increasingly important to get products in front of consumer eyes, in an effort to spark those must-have cravings. Walt's Tag Heuer watch made an appearance as an ad on Story Sync.

As I mentioned above, DVR technology and affordability has advertisers scrambling to find ways to get viewers to actually view their ads. Simulcast things like AMC's Story Sync seems like a compelling way to view a really good show, but I'm not sure if it's enough to alter consumer attitude's towards TV commercials or the ability to watch a show when THEY want to.

For the sake of removing boredom from most television shows, I hope that more networks will embrace some sort of simulcast element to liven up their awful programming. On the other hand, maybe I should simply turn off the crap and dedicate time to a good book.

"Have an A1 Day!"
September 29, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Denying Juliette Starling a sequel could yield something even better than Lollipop Chainsaw

I'd be embarrassed to admit how long it would take me to suggest a better game premise than a gorgeous cheerleader who slays zombies with a chainsaw. I'm a pretty creative guy, but I'm not entirely sure there is a better premise than Lollipop Chainsaw by Goichi Suda's Grasshopper Manufacturer.

Jessica Nigri cosplaying as Juliette Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw My mantra is: if one is good, two are better. So you can imagine why I'd love to see a follow up to 2012's Lollipop Chainsaw. Alas the game play didn't live up to the visuals and premise of the game. The fantasy was a bit better than the reality and instead of a sequel we got a low budget Juliette Starling statue that hardly does her justice. In all fairness, Lollipop Chainsaw is a lot of fun

I understand why successful IPs tend to garner sequels until the next big project comes along. Sequels are more likely to be accepted by the general gaming public than a new concept with no consumer recognition. Considering the budgets needed to bring a game to market, there needs to be some assurance that the game won't flop. Hence we get a lot of the SameOldGame II, III, etc.

I'm currently watching the Breaking Bad marathon on AMC. I'm riveted to the TV - I can barely look away - and it's been going for 3 days. This is the level of high-end engagement that is attainable in far more video games than we currently see. The question is can developers come up with enough original ideas to deliver high-end entertainment to gamers. It is said that powerful CEOs usually have one good idea per job/company - which is why you see them jump from company to company. After watching countless hours of Breaking Bad how could anyone want to create another lame sitcom with a laugh track? Oh yeah... they are proven to make money.

Does the next big gaming concept/project "come along" or do some folks have a knack for creating the next big thing? Hiring cosplayer Jessica Nigri to help market Lollipop Chainsaw was certainly inline with the kind of thinking that pays off! An interesting interview with Goichi Suda by VentureBeat in which he discusses his mindset toward creating original titles. He says, "As a cycle, I create one thing, and then I move on to the next one.

This simple idea makes me wish there was more of this strategy in the gaming industry. I realize his concept can't be applied to the enormity of the gaming industry but I believe the gaming public would prefer more original titles than re-hashed sequels. There must be a balance between production titles and profit that would allow developers to produce the titles they know will be profitable while experimenting with scantily-clad zombie killers who may also turn a surprising profit! :)
September 28, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Going Berzerk for Stern Electronics from arcade to the Atari 7800- Frenzy too

Arcade games have always spoken to me. Their colorful marquees flashing and alien sounds belching from one or two speakers. Wandering through an arcade can feel like a slow-motion doppler effect as each cabinet's attract-mode focuses it's thirst-for-quarters enticements to the casual passerby.

Berzerk arcade game by Stern Electronics Then in 1980, Berzerk spoke to me. No, it spoke. Words. Something about fighting. I thought it called me a chicken. This abuse would certainly stop if I pulled out it's plug... or perhaps just one quarter.

That was the beginning of a long love-hate relationship with simplistic looking robots that were actually far more cunning than I gave them credit for. When I was cleverly tucked behind a wall, jumping out to shoot a few bots, one of them would nail me from an obscure corner I hadn't even noticed.

Stern Electronics

Berzerk was Stern's first very successful arcade game. It was released in both standup cabinet and cocktail table formats. The simple premise combined with great game-play and difficulty gave Berzerk a lead over many other games - games who lacked the scariest smiley-face in the world, Evil Otto. But Stern got it's start long before, alongside Harry E. Williams who founded Williams Electronics. Sam Stern was a Philadelphia, PA distributor & operator who purchased half of Williams Electronics in the early 1950s. Stern Electronics came into existence via purchase of the financially troubled Chicago Coin in 1977 by the Stern family.

By 1978 Stern was doing well in the arcade industry, but Berzerk was their big hit and even the follow-up, Frenzy, couldn't bring back success. The video game crash of 83 took out Stern Electronics along with numerous other arcade manufacturers.

Conversely, the pinball industry was drying up in the late 90s and Williams Electronics had shifted to a dominance in that industry. By 1999, Williams had left the Pinball industry. During the same year, Sega also left the pinball industry selling its pinball division to Gary Stern, the son of Sam Stern. Gary, who had been running Data East/Sega pinball since 1986, founded Stern Pinball, Inc. that year.

Stern's Arcade hit - Berzerk

Aside from the appeal Berzerk had with it's vocal attraction mode alone, it was great fun to play a game that "had a voice". It's namesake is the Berserker Series of books by Fred Saberhagen in which self-aware computers more intelligent than humans carve a swath of death through the galaxy. Evil Otto garnered his name from Dave Otto who worked with Berzerk designer Alan McNeil. A unique facet of Evil Otto was his immortality - he couldn't be killed, which was are for arcade games of the time. There was no fight - just RUN!!

Berzerk arcade game by Stern Electronics The Berzerk cabinet was the first that had a patented pull-out drawer that allowed access to the game's PCB from the front of the cabinet. This may have been more convenient than Stern realized considering the high failure rate of their initial optical joysticks.

Technically Berzerk is a monochrome game and uses a special 'color overlay' circuit board to add color to the graphics prior to being sent to the monitor. Many games - like Star Castle - actually had color screen overlays to 'colorize' areas of the screen. Berzerk did it electronically which could also bleed color onto a wall if you walked close to it.

Arcade games came up with an array of interesting ways to produce sound. Techniques ran from cassette play-back units triggered by game events to hard drives full of samples. Typically one would use a Digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to send voice samples to the speakers. In 1980, LPC (linear predictive coding) encoded speech and a dedicated speech synthesizer making the speech encoded data for the particular speech synth. In 1980 computer voice compression was very expensive leading some to say it may have cost Stern $1,000 per word. That's a fairly high price tag considering Berzerk had a 30-word vocabulary!

Berzerk Released for Atari 2600

Berzerk for Atari 2600 Having Berzerk on my Atari 2600 was amazing to me. It wasn't the best port and the 2600 didn't have the power to replicate the voices... or even 2-player capability. Berzerk eventually came to the Atari 800 computer and featured the voices and 2-player options. This has always been the definitive version as far as I'm concerned. Then there is Berzerk for Vectrex.

I have a copy for the Atari 5200, but my heart is with that odd little cartridge that insists on being placed in the left slot (Atari 800).

I always found it odd that Berzerk never made the leap to the Colecovision. At the time, the Colecovsion may have lacked the lavish library the 2600 had, but Coleco had the definitive arcade console - They had some of the best looking arcade ports. But no Berzerk. This is especially strange considering Frenzy was released on the Colecovision.

Frenzy arcade game by Stern Electronics

Stern Electronics' Berzerk Sequel: Frenzy

Frenzy arcade game by Stern Electronics Frenzy was released in May 1982 as a sequel to Berzerk. It never reached anywhere near the acclaim of Berzerk. It's concept is quite similar with a maze full of robots to defeat, however Evil Otto's behavior changes as he is fired on & hit. Additionally, the maze walls are no longer deadly and can actually be shot at to create an escape hole. Frenzy's release date being close to the crash of 83 may be why the Colecovision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum were the only home ports of Frenzy.

Another reason for it's lesser popularity relative to Berzerk was it's difficulty. I always found Berzerk to be a very difficult game. Frenzy was the more difficult of the 2 games.

Berzerk and Frenzy for the Atari 7800!

Getting back to our mentioning of these Stern classics for the 7800, They're coming! There is a forum thread on AtariAge about the progress of these 2 titles for the 7800. I liked the 5200 version and loved the 2600 joystick compatibility of playing Berzerk on the Atari 800, but I think a 7800 release of both games will be amazing!

The rarity of Frenzy, on home game consoles, and the popularity of Berzerk make a 7800 release a real treat for Atari fans. What has me most excited are the play options mentioned in the AtariAge thread. The 2600 offered single-player mode and the 800 featured both 2-player mode and the robotic voices. This homebrew re-write for the 7800 will feature standard 2-player mode, but also the addition of cooperative and competitive 2-player modes!

I always loved the coop play in Joust and can't even imagine how awesome it would be to have that same sort of play in Berzerk and Frenzy. On top of that you can also treat player-2 as a robot and hunt him down as well. This is such a simple change in mechanics (far different in programming) yet make such a dramatic change to the interaction. I'm completely stoked to see this 2-player mode.

In anticipation, I need to find a good 7800 emulator for the Ouya ;)

Frenzy for Atari 7800
September 27, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Skylanders Giants dress up Eye-Brawl for Halloween but did not change his in-game appearance

I was pretty stoked to discover Skylanders Eye-Brawl would be released as a special Halloween edition. I found a surprisingly large stash of Pumpkin-head Eye_Brawl figures at my local Toys R Us! Halloween is a fun time of year with a lot of spooky adornments to things we love... like Skylanders. So, finding a special edition of Eye-Brawl was pretty cool.

Skylanders Giants dress up Eye-Brawl for Halloween Keep in mind that all the available figures are all pre-configured at the time each Skylanders game is released. As you purchase figures at the store, placing them on the portal allows them to be playable based on the info already on your game disc. This means that even a new "just released" character was likely held back from the retail channel, but the code to play the character was already on the game disc you bought.

Lets look at Pumpkin Eye_Brawl as an example. I bought Skylanders Giants in the Fall of 2012 when it was released. At that time I bought all the Giants figures I could find - Eye-Brawl was nowhere to be found. Later I discovered him and bought him. Gotta like that detachable eye upgrade! Then a year later we find a new variant of Eye-Brawl for Halloween.

I rarely use the in-store Skylanders Giants demo station, but I plopped this special edition Eye-Brawl right on the demo unit at Toys R Us. And there he was - identical to the one I had already bought. Interestingly, he is still identified as "Eye Brawl" on the Toys R Us Demo Station. His pumpkin head glows which is hella cool, but his in-game appearance is identical to the original Eye Brawl character.

When I got home I was eager to drop him on my portal with an actual retail game disc (not the TRU Demo version). He still has the original character's appearance, but he's identified on the intro screen as "Special Eye Brawl" which leads me to believe that all the Skylanders figures are coded to recognize a "special" variant. This way, Activision can release alternates and allow the game to differentiate two seemingly identical characters.

Seeing that his appearance is identical in-game was disappointing, but expected. However, GameStop was taking pre-orders on him and Toys R Us had a large stockpile of the figures, so this release doesn't seem geared toward rarity. Hence, the Swap Force game may be programmed to display his pumpkin appearance within the Swap Force game.

Many things like this in the Sony and Microsoft game world are resolved via an update or some sort of download. The Wii and Wii U are certainly capable this, so this makes me wonder why they release a character that is NOT the same between the figure and in-game display.

Of course this means I will be very suspicious if I see a Christmas Tree Rex :)

No in-game pumpkin head for Halloween themed Eye-Brawl Skylanders Giants figure

September 26, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pickle-eating droids evade detection while arranging payment for a SuperGrafx console

Just when I think I know a thing or two, I discover that either retro gaming is bigger than I think or I don't know a whole lot. I'm hedging toward the vastness of retro gaming ;)

I've long been familiar with the Turbo GrafX-16, but had never heard of the SuperGrafx! It was billed as a true 16-bit system with improved graphics and audio capabilities over the original PC Engine. The SuperGrafx came to market several months early in late 1989 with only minor updates to the original PC Engine. It's a mysterious console that needs a closer look.

A Jar of pickles labeled TMNT Turtle Dicks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Dicks - Love the branding concept but this is no way to market or sell a jar of pickles.
Droid Identification for Dummies Droid Identification for Dummies. Storm Troopers seem ill equipped to fend off Jedi mind tricks and let priceless droids slip through their grasp. Hopefully, the Dummies publishing empire can help put an end to this and allow Storm Troopers to round up all the right droids - even when confronted by men in robes.

Sexy girl with a pistol and bag of cash - arranging payments She knows how to arrange payments and close deals
NEC SuperGrafx console The SuperGrafx is another home video game console from NEC, touted as an upgraded version of the PC Engine. It was released exclusively in Japan, to go up against Nintendo's Super Famicom.

Being a Japanese exclusive makes me feel a bit better about my lack of knowledge on this console. It was originally going to be called the PC Engine 2, but seems to have followed the "Turbo" naming convention. Alas, it was only a minor improvement over the PC Engine - this may be due to it's rush to market to compete against the Super Famicom.

It was designed to be backward compatible with PC Engine games, but only 7 games were released that took advantage of the SuperGrafx' hardware. This rendered the console a comercial failure... making it more valuable to collectors.

The SuperGrafx' dedicated game library consisted of: 1941: Counter Attack, Aldynes, Battle Ace, Daimakaimura and Mado King Granzort. 2 games were backward compatible with the PC Engine: Darius Alpha and Darius Plus. Some folks have claimed that 2 compatible games looked better when played on the SuperGrafx - this seems unlikely.

One of the oddities about the SuperGrafx is it's alleged lack of power. Many have described it as nearly identical to the PC Engine's capability. Sometimes assessing two pieces of hardware can be an Apples-to-Oranges comparison where you are really looking at different technologies that are harder to compare by standards that apply differently to each device.

For example a newer processor may appear to have a slower speed, but closer inspection reveals the seemingly slower processor is measured in a different metric than another- leading back to the fact that 2 oranges can yield more fruit than 2 apples.

Despite all this, the SuperGrafx has 4 times the RAM and a separate video chip with it's own VRAM. Regardless of specs, developers didn't flock to it as they had with the prior NEC game consoles. As a gamer, the thing I've always hated about all console releases is the single controller inclusion. Every console purchase necessitates an immediate 2nd controller purchase to play with a friend. Oddly, both the Turbo GrafX-16, PC Engine and SuperGrafx all have one controller port! So in addition to needing another controller, you had to pick up a multi-tap as well to provide the physical connections for other players.

September 25, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sega dreamt of being the epicenter of all "fun"- Welcome to Sega Republic

Sega Sonic cosplay Growing up as an Atari-kid, I had a solid allegiance to Atari that prevented me from even contemplating a Sega product. Financial factors were also afoot. It wasn't until much later in life that I realized gaming was bigger than my beloved Atari. Nintendo was the first company to sell me a console lacking an atari logo. Soon my living room overflowed with PlayStation & Saturn hardware and games. Sega remained a mystery to me.

Sega Logo I identified with Mario, but Sonic evaded my loving dedication. Perhaps my early life as a Nolan Bushnell disciple clouded my gaming judgement. The Church of Chuck E held a powerful allure. Looking back, I'd have pegged myself as a Genesis owner - but no. It wasn't until the Saturn arrived on retail shelves that I laid claims to a Sega console.

In all honesty, I didn't take Sega seriously until I read one of their executives stating that Sega was on a mission to be the focal point of everything "fun". He clarified by saying that Sega would be at the core of everything deemed "fun". If you had "fun" you had interacted with a Sega product.

He said all this in such a bold fashion as though Sega was on a rampage to eclipse the massive identity of the Disney Empire with theme parks, lavish gaming arcades and multimedia centers. i'm sure this grandeur came about the same time as this New York Times article, Sega Takes Aim at Disney's World (Published: July 04, 1993). I was stunned and wanted to know more about this Japanese giant...

Sega was an American Company

I was only aware of Sega after having become a successful Japanese video game hardware and game developer. I had no idea that Sega began as SErvice GAmes in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1940. Ten years later, the 2 American founders moved Service Games to Tokyo to develop and distribute coin-operated amusement games for import to American military bases in Japan.

Again I was stunned by Sega's history in particular my lack of knowledge. We all know the path they eventually went down that made them a dominant force in arcade and home console gaming. But what about "taking over the world" and being the epicenter of all fun?

Sega Republic at the Dubai Marina Mall

Sega Republic logo Nestled in 2 floors of the largest Mall in the World, Sega Republic is a 76,000 square foot indoor theme park complete with 14 major attractions/rides, more than 170 games and Sonic the Hedgehog. It opened in August 2009 and if you know anything about Dubai, it must be FUN! This is what I think they meant in the 90's when Sega proclaimed their intention to dominate the core of all fun.

If you've been to a Disney resort, you have an idea of what Disney considers "big". Dubai is massive by comparison. The city itself is an oasis in the desert offering it's citizens the best of the best. It's citizens are celebrities, dignitaries, royalty and random wealthy folks who like to live large. Sega Republic is one part of the Dubai Mall that is a single attraction within the city. Dubai is insanely big.

Boasting an underwater zoo aquarium, ice rink, a 22-screen movie multiples and over 140 restaurants, Sega Republic is in good company at the Dubai Mall.

Sega Republic Game Zone at the Dubai Marina Mall It looks like a good time, but many of the reviews call it the best in the region. Um... it's in the middle of a dessert. I don't think there's a lot of competition "in the region". Much like the "best in class" moniker used in the auto industry. Many have also stated that some Japanese arcades boast far more games... but they lack the giant indoor roller coaster.

SEGA Republic gives guests the opportunity to explore 5 themed zones - Speed Zone, Adventure Zone, Sports Zone, Cyberpop Zone and Redemption Zone. If you're accustomed to Six Flags, Sega Republic should impress if your looking for some fun in a posh desert oasis.

Sega Republic Game Zone at the Dubai Marina Mall I've always wondered how differently my video game cravings wold be if I lived next door to an arcade. Now I wonder how one can face the real world if your home town offers Sega Republic. Kinda makes those arcade cabs at the bowling alley seem small ;)
September 23, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Drive-in theaters will vanish if they don't go digital by Dec 31. Please help #saveTheDriveIn

The internet is an amazingly big place - so is the planet we live on. Staying up to date on everything is a losing battle as pixels slip through our fingers and vivid paths through local forests go untraveled. Of all the crap I find on the web and in life, I wish I could replace it with more important things.

Project drive in - save the drive-in project logo I've missed epic Kickstarter campaigns and amazing live music events that were literally taking place in my backyard. Once again I've missed an opportunity near and dear to my retro heart - drive-in theaters.

Honda was sponsoring the gift of digital projection for 9 drive-in theaters. Their Project Drive-In website allowed visitors to vote for the distribution of these projectors to existing drive-in theaters that were facing extinction without this generous gift.

There are only 368 drive-in theaters left in the US, and the majority will vanish by the end of the year if we don't do something about it.

Movie studios will stop distributing 35mm film, making a costly $75,000+ upgrade to digital projection a necessity these small businesses cannot afford.

Project drive in - save the drive-in project
I'm lucky to have seen movies as a kid at the drive-in theater where my family spent our Summer vacations. Through several twists of fate I find myself a resident of this amazingly insane Summer destination. The Wellfleet Drive-in is still going strong and has been able to make the leap to digital projection this year. In a similar testament to movie magic, the Chatham Theater where I saw countless 80's treasures has given the boot to CVS Pharmacy and been reborn to film as the Chatham Orpheum.

Chatham Orpheum theater re-opened with Jaws Regardless how ginourmous your home TV may be, chances are it isn't the same size as the screen found at your local multiplex. And I'm nearly certain most drive-in theaters boast larger screens than yours. Don't fret and don't buy a bigger TV... go out and visit your local theater.

I know Hollywood produces very few movies worth seeing, but when they do - go see it on the big screen. Let go of preconceptions and soak in the splendor of movie theaters. Then see if there isn't a drive-in near you.

My local drive-in has gone digital and offers audio via FM radio, but most of the spaces still have the mono speaker-boxes that make a retro drive-in a wonderful adventure into the past while viewing the latest blockbuster movie!

Check it out here and help spread the word about Project Drive-In! Don't let them go dark!
September 22, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

5 reasons why Green-Gaming isn't much different from energy efficiency in general

energy efficient green gaming I recently came across an interesting article discussing the energy efficiency of video game consoles from the last ~10 years. They primarily focused on the most recent and upcoming consoles on the market, making it interesting to see how energy efficiency had improved over time. However, this improvement didn't amount to any substantial savings.

Of the various studies I found, they all came out with "Yearly Costs" based on predetermined gaming habits. What I found strange was that none of them would roll back to a unit of measure that could be applied to other gaming scenarios.

When looking at energy efficiency in game consoles, you have to account for the change in their utility too. As anticipated, game consoles reportedly became more energy efficient, but that efficiency also depended on how it was used. Game consoles today aren't like an Atari. They try to fill more needs as consoles struggle to be relevant by taking on other "living room" entertainment tasks.

Atari joystick with CFL light bulb Modern consoles fill much wider needs than playing a game. Even that has changed from the Atari age. A disc mechanism uses more power, to spin, than an older console that simply reads a static cartridge. These days, in addition to traditional gaming, you might be downloading files, streaming video, surfing the web or playing a DVD. Game consoles are powered up under more circumstances than simply gaming.

All the studies I found were based on gaming habits that were much different than mine. The sheer hours-per-week figures were far greater than my gaming consumption. Additionally, I don't use Netflix and I only play DVDs on my DVD player unless it's a blu-ray disc. Overall, the metrics and findings didn't show any significant savings by either habit or specific console model.

It's also worth noting that none of the studies accounted for the fact that all home gaming consoles (and some handelds too) connect to a television. And what about surround sound and PVRs? Gaming's increased sophistication makes it necessary to look at all the components of a game session than just the console.

Saving the Earth's natural resources is not going to come from green-gaming. Who knew - lol! Using a game console for games, streaming media and DVDs didn't amont to more than $40 per year under ridiculous amounts of time. But don't lose hope. Here are 5 things you can do while gaming that will save you money and possibly help the environment!

Saving Energy while you game

  1. Before gaming, don't take a 20 minute steaming hot shower. Try a 3-5 minute shower.
  2. While gaming in the living room, don't leave lights on in other empty rooms.
  3. If you're off to work with your 3DS, turn your heat down to 60°... and when you turn in on a Winter night.
  4. After you're done gaming change your light bulbs from incandescent to CFL/LED bulbs and install ceiling fans to circulate air.
  5. If you get caught in a rain storm on the way home from the Game Store, don't use the clothes dryer to dry only your socks!
Sorry folks - Gaming doesn't need to be green or have sustainable virtues. Game consoles aren't solar powered, but they also don't run on Diesel fuel. If you want to save energy, gaming may not be the best focal point. You'll amass more savings by turning off the lights than altering your gaming habits or hardware.

Saving the planet will take a bit more effort than the choice between PS4 or Xbone. Find a local group in your area that focuses on energy friendly programs... then go pick up a nice used N64. Game on!
September 21, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vintage computer & retro video game console schematics become fine art prints

Art has always been a subjective topic. What is art VS what is not art?

framed retro video game console schematic Overall, art can really be anything. As they say... "One man's junk is another man's gold". I've seen everything from enlarged finger prints to EKG readouts framed and hung on walls. So, why not schematics? I'd love to have a schematic of my favorite retro gaming console adorning the man cave. It's a great conversation piece!

It wasn't that long ago that Washington's Smithsonian American Art Museum featured The Art of Video Games exhibit. Of course the debate arose around the Smithsonian's prominence and the seedy nature of arcades - how could such a reputable organization feature a Pac-Man show? Well, they did and the exhibit made a lot of people view video games in a new manner.

With that in mind how about a schematic? Could that be art? If you ask the folks at City Prints, the answer is, Yes! They specialize in making fine art map prints of university campuses, sports stadiums, world cities, and more. They are giving the same treatment to the schematics of iconic computers and game consoles from the past.

Atari schematic fine art print from City Prints Fine art print from City Prints - Atari schematic.
Sinclair ZX Spectrum schematic fine art print from City Prints Fine art print from City Prints - Sinclair ZX Spectrum schematic.

City Prints seems to have gotten their start by creating prints of city maps, stadiums and other iconic locations. For the DIY enthusiast, I'm pretty sure a hi-res photo graph of a console's logic board could be turned into an interesting piece of art. How about arcade schematics and PCBs? These too would make similarly pleasing artworks to the techie geek in all of us!
September 20, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Konami's RollerGames hit Arcades & NES, inspired by roller derby's national TV show

Whip It Have you seen Whip It (2009) with Ellen Page and Juliette Lewis? It's a great flick - full of passion and kickass girls who know how to throw punches on the flattrack.

RollerGames arcade cabinet Roller derby has this way of rising into the public eye in a cyclical fashion. You'd be surprised how many roller derby leagues and temas exist around the globe today! It always seems to rise into pop culture and video games often enough to remind us of what it's like to give a Whip and then Beaver Cleaver any followers trying to gain ground.

The resurgence of Roller Derby that I remember most was the debut of RollerGames in 1989 on national TV. It was portrayed as a theatrical event more than sport and filmed on a figure-8 track instead of the traditional banked oval track. Despite only lasting one season (the producers went bankrupt), roller derby made an impression on those who tuned in. And of course this impression came partly in the form of arcade and home console video games!

It only lasted one issue, but the Janurary 1990collector's issue of RollerGames magazine hit the stands! They didn't know at the time how valuable that issue would become.

Konami's RollerGames for Arcades

Konami released RollerGames in March 1990 as a 2-player arcade game with an 8-way joystick and dual buttons for Attack and Jump. It was based on the TV show with the action taking you around a figure-8 track as players punched and jabbed each other on skates.

The player controls the team's Jetter. Once every circuit, the jetter skates up the wall and tries to jump the ramp and then tries to score points by getting past skaters on the opposing team - by passing them or knocking them down.

Ultra's RollerGames for NES

It wasn't long before RollerGames was released for Nintendo's NES home console in September 1990 by Ultra. Keep in mind that Ultra Games was a shell company created in 1988 as a subsidiary of Konami. Other gaming companies did this to bypass Nintendo's strict licensing rules. One of these rules was that a third-party company could only publish 5 games per year for the NES in the US. The shell company allowed for an extra 5 games to be published by "Konami".
Roller Derby girl
RollerGames on Nintendo NES Ultra was closed in 1992 when Nintendo loosened licensing restrictions for the SNES console.

I never had the opportunity to play the arcade version, but the NES release didn't follow the same path as the TV show or the arcade game. The figure-8 track is shown at the start, but the NES version is a side scroller on short stretches that resemble roads more than a flat track. As your character travels, he/she puches anyone they encounter and each segment ends in an arena where a fight breaks out.

The main problem with RollerGames for NES is that it doesn't follow the TV show, the arcade game or roller derby conventions. It's a slug-fest on rollerskates. You're not on a team and enemies seem to be lurking as they await you're arrival and attack you. It's a pretty good game, but it isn't roller derby!

Roller Derby on the Rise

Whip It was released in 2009 and is a great film depicting the passion and determination the ladies of the flat track exhibit. It's not as much brutal gangs on skates as it is women finding a wonderful way to express themselves and let it all out!
Jam City Roller Girls on Nintendo WiiWare
Not long after, Jam City Rollergirls was released on WiiWare by Frozen Codebase. The game was similar to RollerGames on NES except it held true to roller derby rules. You could choose a team and various tracks. The action was much closer to Roller Derby and followed it's rules and conventions.

It's a fun game to play, but nowhere near as fun as watching it live. Even in my remote area, there are a few teams nearby that compete. Roller derby is much more pervasive than you may think. Seek out roller derby in your area - it's hella fun. Roller derby seems to jump into the spotlight every 10 years, but teams are vibrant and rocking it. Check into the derby scene in your area!
September 19, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nibbler was the 1st arcade game with a 10-digit scoreboard and the guy who broke 1 billion

An interesting tweet from Kotaku read Looks Like We're Getting A Sweet New Documentary About Retro Gaming, so I had to click it. Is it me or have there been a lot of retro gaming documentaries lately? Retro gaming is really going center stage - I love it!

Nibbler arcade game by Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp The Kotaku article led to info about an upcoming documentary about a high score on an arcade game I'd never heard of - Nibbler, released in Japan by Taito.

Released in North America in 1982, by Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation, Nibbler was a maze game with similarities to Pac-Man and Snake. You guide a snake (Nibbler) through a maze as he eats food dots. Each dot causes the snake to grow longer as he races through the maze. The trick is you can't colide with walls or part of Nibbler himself - as he grows longer with each bite.

Nibbler was the first video game with a 10-digit score-board, making it possible to attain a billion points. Rock-ola even offered a free Nibbler arcade machine to the first player to roll the game over by scoring 1 billion points!

These days, video games award points in an epic flow of numbers, but back in the Golden Age of he 80s, most actions were awarded 10 points. Nibbler scores as follows:
• Food Dot = 10 points x level
• Time Bonus = 10 points per remaining second on the clock x level

You weren't going to amass 1 billion points in an evening at that rate, In fact it was much closer to 2 evenings. This is where the documentary, Man VS Snake comes in. The quest to break the billion score barrier... on Nibbler!

With a Man VS Snake Kickstarter campaign coming to an end (funding was met), the actual filming has been completed. The production company is now tasked with assembling hundreds of hours of film into a compelling 1.5 hour film.

The film's story from their website:
In 1984, 16 year-old Timothy McVey (not to be confused with Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber) walked into the legendary Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa Iowa; 44 hours later he had recorded the highest score in video game history - on a single quarter. For 25 years, Tim's record stood as the highest verified video game score of the "Golden Age" of video games, or so he thought...
Rackspace's NES themed ad with the Konami code
We love their animated chart showing the film project's funding progress. It's hard to resist a Donkey Kong tie-in! Apparently Don Bluth, the legendary artist behind the arcade games Dragon's Lair and Space Ace hear about the project and created original poster art for MAN VS SNAKE.

This looks like a cool film. Hopefully it will garner more press in the various film festivals. We're excited to see how it evolves and what winds up on the final DVD. Check out their web site and Kickstarter (links are above) and join them on social media.
September 18, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

IT company likens their “ease of use” to using the Konami Code on your NES

While surfing the web I came across this add displaying an obvious retro gaming theme. I clicked on it curious to see it the add led to a landing page with a similar retro gaming theme. It did not.

Rackspace's NES themed ad with the Konami code The cloud computing company who sponsored the add are likening their products to having an unfair advantage over the competition - much like using the Konami code to create a similar advantage. This add would have had a lot more impact if they'd carried the retro gaming theme to a landing page. That's sort of the point of a niche ad.

I didn't click the ad because I'm seeking a cloud-base storage solution. I saw the ad and said, "Whoa, Nintendo!"

Yeah, I'm that shallow, but how often do you see a Konami Code reference in advertising?

Here's what really got me interested in this ad. I should be working for a company that has marketing meetings where they align their products with various facets of retro gaming and 80's pop-culture. Yeah, I need that gig!
September 18, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Atari 7800 Expansion Module (XM) will offer more RAM, better sound & expansion ports

Backwards compatibility is an amazing thing. Nintendo has always done a great job of prolonging game life with each new hardware release. In particular, they have had Game Boy options for a surprising number of their consoles. I've always felt that many gamers don't give up on their existing game library simply because a new console arrives.

Atari took more of a self-preservation approach to backward compatibility. The success of the 2600 lasted beyond the life cycle of the poorly received 5200. Atari did some new math and merged the enhanced capability of the 5200 and added compatibility with the 2600 - all rolled into the 7800. For you Mathletes... 2600 + 5200 = 7800.

Atari 7800 Expansion Module (XM)

The Atari 7800 Expansion Module XM There has been a push for a few years to expand the capabilities of the Atari 7800 by creating a pass-through module that would allow homebrew games to take advantage of more RAM and a better sound chip. The guy heading up this project has been updating progress on the AtariAge forum as well as this 7800 XM Status page at the Atari Museum site.

Of particular interest is the design of the 7800 XM. It's a completely external solution that requires no modifications to the original Atari 7800. It rests on top of the console and accesses it via the cartridge slot. By using a pass through concept, new (homebrew) games can make use of XM enhancements while original 2600 & 7800 games play normally.

7800 XM Enhancements

Pokey and Yamaha sound chips - will enable enhanced music & sound effects. The POKEY sound chip was developed at the same time as the 7800 with the intention of placing it inside specific 7800 game carts for enhanced sound beyond what the 7800's native hardware could produce. Due to Atari budget cuts, only the original 7800 games Ballblazer and Commando were released with it. The Yamaha YM2151 is an 8 channel FM sound chip used in some arcade machines in the mid to late 1980's. While never used in an Atari console, it adds the possibility of more accurate arcade sound.

RAM - The XM contains an additional 128KB of ram for use in creating enhanced graphics pallets, additional sprites and larger levels.

Expansion Ports - The XM has 2 expansion ports: a SIO Port and a 15 pin expansion port. The ports are intended add-on projects such as keyboards or storage devices but have no specific purpose at present.

7800 XM games will fall into 2 categories relative to the XM module. Some games will make use of XM features if it is detected in the system (reliant only on enhanced POKEY/Yamaha sound and HSC). Other games will require the module and won't work without the XM (reliant on its mappers and 128K RAM). Its up to developers to decide how their game will interact with the XM.

This project has been ongoing for quite a long time, but one can hope that it will continue to fruition. It seems to have had a few stops and do-overs along the way. Don't be discouraged if some of the online info appears very dated - the project is ongoing.

We recommend joining the rally to give support to this project. The XM is an expensive add-on if more developers don't begin to release games. This can easily become a catch-22 in which the XM will stimulate more game development, but gamers won't buy it until they see there are enough new games to warrant it's price tag. Show support and lets hope this amazing project is completed soon!

The Atari 7800 Expansion Module XM packaging box

7800 XM interaction with Atari 2600 Games

We love the idea of enhancing the 7800! Being a combination of the best of Atari's 2 former consoles, the only thing we don't like is the small 7800 game library. An external (non invasive) upgrade to add hardware enhancements and stimulate additional game development for the 7800 seem great!

But does the XM have any positive effect on a 2600 game? What I mean is- would one be able to make a 2600 game that might take advantage of the additional RAM and/or sound chips. Sure, one can wonder why bother with an enhanced 2600 game when it could be stepped up to 7800 standards and beyond. My main curiosity revolves around experimental games like Halo or Super Mario for the 2600 (both exist). Might games like these be more feasible or enhanced via the XM?

We suspect that 2600 games wil simply be compatible with XM as they were with the original 7800 and new homebrew cartridges will not take advantage of any XM features. But we can dream a little, right? :)

When is a 7800 not a 7800, asked the purist...

Naturally in the midst of insane wonderment over enhancing the hardware capability of the Atari 7800, someone had to come a long and imply that such an upgrade renders the console - no longer a 7800. OK, for these individuals, it can now be a 7801. I understand the purist argument of altering a console in ways outside it's original intent.

First of all the Pokey was to be integrated into game carts back in the 80s, so it's inclusion seems inline with Atari standards. Secondly, the non-invasive nature of the pass-through concept adds features that are essentially inherent to the original. More RAM and improved sound chips simply allow for beter games, but doesn't change the fundamental coding of the game - for the most part. It's not like the Enhancement Module converts the 7800 into an aquarium!
September 17, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

On GTA V release day, Saints Row promotes #GATV on Twitter

Big video game releases have become epic events - Grand Theft Auto V is such a game. In other words, they've blanketed social media with #GTAV hashtags and game stores with release posters for quite some time now. And today the day is here!

GATV trending on Twitter Google was prominently displaying GTA V's release date and even I knew it was today. I'm much more interested in a game of Missile Command, Defender or Bionic Commando (NES, not PS3). It's fairly safe to assume everyone knows Grand Theft Auto V was arriving today.

So, it was no surprise to see the #GTAV hashtag trending on Twitter. Wait a minute. It wasn't trending - it was promoted! I scratched my head. Does GTA need paid promotion on release day? It wasn't until I clicked on it and realized I was having a dyslexic moment. The hashtag I clicked was #GATV. Um, what the hell is that?!?

To my surprise, it was a DLC pack for Saint's Row IV specific to Johnny Gat. Then it became clear. I'm surely not the only one to click on GATV thinking it would lead to more Grand Theft Auto mania. The Saint's Row Twitter account was busily churning out tweets for this hashtag for various Johnny Gat related stuff.

Clever! :)

GATV Twitter posts about Johnny Gat from Saint's Row
September 17, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Microsoft's next gen phone assistant Cortana to battle Siri? When did MS discover sex sells?

Cortana from Halo seems to be the inspiration behind Microsoft's new digital phone assistant Phone manufacturers seem pretty intent on competing with Apple's Siri digital assistant. It doesn't seem to be a competition with Apples massive app offerings or functionality, but rather with their aural deity of cellular maintenance. George Jetson had Rosie and Sam Treadwell had his Cherry 2000 , but doesn't a smart phone's utility transcend it's potential digital hotness?

No one dines at Hooters for a delicious health-conscious meal any more than a bikini carwash can boost revenue by hiring senior citizens. My grandfather taught me a lot of things, but never while soaking wet in a thong bikini. I respect my elders, but not when they rock a g-string.

Is the value of a digital assistant reliant on her hot-factor? What does Siri look like? Isn't her appeal in the user's imagination? So, why is Microsoft attempting to link their digital assistant's appearance to a known entity - Cortana?

Rumor has it that "digital assistants will be at the core of the OS of Windows Phone and Xbox One. ZD Net ran an interesting article about this and how info was leaked via a phone purchased on eBay that contained beta code for Cortana.

My Android phone has a voice recognition app that seems robust enough for some helpful hands-free assistance. However, I have no desire to carry on a conversation with this embedded voice.

Your New Digital Assistant?!?

Cortana takes its codename from Cortana, an AI character in Microsoft's Halo games, who can learn & adapt. I doubt any phone manufacturer is seeking to animate their female-voiced assistants as seen on this mock desktop. But Microsoft's codename "Cortana" elicits more visual than functional virtues.

For me, this digital assistant concept may grow into something truly useful, but the idea of humanizing this feature seems to offset the focus on functionality and utility. I'm all for a sexy voice helping me out, but let's not provide her measurements in the user manual.

As a hands-free extension, by nature of turning physical interaction into voice commands, I see value and use this feature today. But unless they can really ramp up the value of digital assistants at the core of interaction, I don't think my cell phone needs one.
September 16, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Regular Show on Nintendo 3DS makes me want to play “Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land” on a 2DS

There were a few games that made me want a 3DS at launch. However, after seeing the price drop so soon after launch, I figured it would be much cheaper later on. When I tried a demo unit and saw the 3D effect, I couldn't justify the price, for my budget.

Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land on Nintendo 3DS Overall, I've never been a huge fan of handheld gaming. I see it's advantages in some circumstances, but for me gaming belongs on the big screen. Then came the 2DS. It's price and DS compatibility definitely got my attention! I almost prefer it's rigid design without the clam-shell hinge.

With one Adventure Time game for the 3DS and another coming from D3 Publisher, along with the first Regular Show game, the platform is looking more appealing to me. Or course there would also be a slew of Nintendo IPs that I'd have to pick up as well. :)

It makes me laugh that for all my tech research and intelligent though on the matter - I suddenly want a 2DS because there's a Regular Show game in the pipeline.

Mordecai & Rigby game like it's the last game EVER There's already an Uncle Grandpa game on the Cartoon Network website. I'm sure a console release is in the works. As a video game IP, what could be better than cartoon Network's coolest slackers - Mordecai and Rigby?!?

In a few short seasons, their gaming prowess is legendary from video games to bubble hockey, these guys were made for a gaming tie-in. Regular Show is such a great show to bring to gaming. I can only hope that their 3DS debut will inspire console gamers to demand a release!

I haven't seen a lot of info on this game, but I've read that you can change characters during play. Each character has his/her own attributes depending on the challenge at hand. I like the idea of playing as Mordecai to fly or playing as Rigby to run. If this is true (I could be wrong), that's the kind of game play that would motivate me to play more frequently on a handheld. That Nintendo 2DS is sounding better and better. :)

Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land on Nintendo 3DS - screenshot
Mordecai & Rigby in 8-Bit Land on Nintendo 3DS - screenshot
September 15, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Former Irem devs created Metal Slug, but Moon Patrol & R-Type came first

On a recent quest to identify a video game ad, I came across Irem. I'd heard the name, but when a quick search revealed Moon Patrol and R-Type. I had to know more!

Irem logo Irem was a Japanese video game developer and publisher, founded in 1974. They released numerous arcade games beginning in the late 1970s and continuing into the mid 1990s. They also created home console games beginning in the early 1980s As a Japanese developer, I wasn't aware of Irem as a company since many of their titles I was familiar with were licensed to companies that catered to North America.

Irem is known for making arcade games that appear simple in nature, but are extremely difficult. This is an excellent way to get more quarters dropped, but they have to walk a fine line and inspire more plays without alienating players from the game. Many of their arcade PCBs feature a dip switch that allows play in "no death mode" which allows the player to be able to complete the game. That certainly seems like the hallmark of a difficult game!

The 90's were not kind to Irem and forced them to reduce and reorganize, which eventually caused the closing of all video gaming development. Stagnation led some of Irem's dev team to form their own video game company, Nazca Corporation (1994), developing video games for the Neo Geo. Metal Slug is one of the games developed by this team before being acquired by SNK in 1996.

Metal Slug Anthology for Nintendo Wii

Irem in the Arcade

After the Golden Age of Arcades and the decline in arcades of the 90s, I became disenfranchised by the whole scene and dove into console gaming. Unfortunately, this caused me to miss some true gems like Metal Slug... among others. However, after downloading Metal Slug from the Wii Virtual Console, I was hooked. To relive it on the NeoGeo X gave it even more intensity - from a game play standpoint. I sought out Metal Slug Anthology for the Wii and PS2. Along the way I also picked up SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1.

So, Metal Slug was a result of disgruntled Irem developers creating their own company. Prior to that success, Irem created R-Type and released it upon arcades in 1987! It was a huge success due to several aspects that separated it from others in the side-scrolling genre. The game was visually beautiful with detailed animations and engaging game-play. Coupled with that was it's simplicity. R-Type was easy to understand and play, but succeeding for any duration was another chalenge.

R-Type's success led to many home console and computer ports of the game. As with the arcade version, most of the home releases garnered similar praise for it's animation, vibrant colors and visual details. The ZX Spectrum version was reviewed at 9/10 in the Jan. 1989 issue of Your Sinclair and placed #6 in Your Sinclair's top 100. Again, R-Type was a game I eagerly snatched from the Wii Virtual Console.

Irem titles Pulled from Online Stores

I was lucky to get R-type from VC, as I was tipped off that it was soon to be removed. I didn't question the reasoning, I simply hoped on Virtual Console and bought a copy. The removal happened in the Fall of 2011. Other Irem titles were slowly being pulled as well, from all the online networks, not just Virtual Console. The PlayStation Network saw Irem titles removed too.

It has been suggested that rights to these titles were being sold without extending licensing to these online stores, like Virtual Console. After the Earthquake of 2011, Irem cancelled all of their remaining game development and may have gone back to slot-machines and pachinko.

Irem Created Moon Patrol in 1982

Of the more astounding facts I discovered in my Cyber-Lip ad quest was that Irem created MOON PATROL! I love this game - I still hum the music while driving my car! It's also one of the few games for which I bought a PCB, built a cabinet and assembled enough parts to create a fully-functioning homebrew Moon Patrol arcade cabinet - complete with a lighted marquee!

I always thought William's Electronics was responsible for Moon Patrol. I didn't know it was licensed from Irem. This was another arcade favorite of mine in the 80s! Moon Patrol reached acclaim and was ported to many home game consoles and computers, but not for the same reason as R-Type. Moon Patrol was addictive as you reached check points and knew that one more quarter would keep your journey going. Like many Irem games, it was simple to understand, but dealt out challenging play.

Cyber-Lip ad: I remember when he couldn't Keep his hands off me! You never know where retro gaming will take you...
I discovered a company I knew little about (Irem) made one of my favorite Golden Age arcade games (Moon Patrol). Along the way, I found their connection to Metal Slug. All this was due to my desire to demystify a Neo Geo ad that I'd seen for years. :)
September 14, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Barnyard Babies Skee-Ball: Arcade treasure -or- please unplug this annoyingly loud game?

I recently wrote an article about my favorite childhood arcade, the Holliday Hill Arcade, because 30 years later it's still running strong. Naturally, I had to take my son there to soak up some classic retro gaming in the form of Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man along with a few rounds of Super Chexx bubble hockey and air hockey!

Skee-Ball logo Many of the arcades we visit have a few Skee Ball lanes with the modern-day redemption tickets spewing out of their slots. As a Dad, I've come to enjoy these pseudo-bowling games and often challenge my son to head-to-head Skee-Ball-Death-Matchs. Holiday Hill hasn't gone that route, although they have an ICE Hungry Hungry Hippo arcade game. They have a mini version of Skee-Ball called Barnyard Babies.

As we converted bills to tokens and made our rounds, we gravitated to the Donkey Kong cabinet in the back corner. My son and I have played a variety of retro Donkey Kong games on the Atari 2600, 7800 and Colecovision. I insisted he delve into these classic games before DKC came out for the Wii :)

Barnyard Babies Skee-Ball arcade game A few feet from this treasure of the early 80s was a skee ball type of game, Barnyard Babies, that seemed designed for small children as it was barely 5 feet deep. What really drew my attention was it's attract-mode of insanely loud animal sounds. Every 10 minutes, all heads turned in it's direction as loud cackling rooster calls erupted from it. I was on the brink of yanking the plug out of the wall - and I'm a pretty patient guy.

The more these barnyard sounds belted out, the more I kept leering at this machine until I began to wonder about it's history. Holiday Hill has some pretty offbeat games and I'd never seen or heard of Barnyard Babies. I took a batch of photos and then looked it up on the web.

To my surprise there wasn't much info about it. I wondered if it was a limited release or if it was poorly received and arcade operators weren't interested in it. It was created by Skee-Ball Inc, the manufacturer of the popular skee ball games found in many arcades. It's release date wasn't readily available. I found a NJ state filing document for an Amusement Game Certification Number (2-262), that was dated April 1994.

Barnyard Babies skee ball at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod Barnyard Babies: 240 pounds of loud barnyard skee ball with this 6' x 6' x 3' mini skee ball game for kids.
Barnyard Babies skee ball at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod Close up on the "mouths" where the balls will rack up points in Barnyard Babies.

Barnyard Babies skee ball at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod Close up on the front plate with game instructions and the same Chalfont, PA address that Skee-Ball Inc operates at today. And a very similar logo to their current branding.

So, is Barnyard Babies a treasure or aging kiddie game?

Having suffered the insanely loud attract-mode animal sounds, photographed this odd skee ball game and done a bit of online research... I'm still no closer to answering my question about Barnyard Babies' value. Is it a treasure or just a loud kiddie game?

Holiday Hill has a nice collection of games, some vintage, others old and a few current games to keep an interesting balance of machines. I'm guessing that Barnyard Babies is not a sought after attraction, but there's a motel next door that probably brings in enough toddlers to keep Barnyard Babies reasonably full of tokens.

Mobile Skee-Ball game made by Skee_Ball Inc

A brief History of Skee Ball

Despite being invented and patented, by J.D. Estes of Philadelphia way back in 1909, Skee-Ball still flourishes in arcades. I always see kids and their parents going head-to-head in a battle for redemption tickets. In 1914 Maurice Piesen marketed Skee Ball to outdoor arcades. The lanes were very long at 36 feet.

It wasn't until 1928 that the massive lanes were shortened to 14 feet which opened Skee Ball to more players - like kids! Lanes today are often 10 feet. By 1935, Wurlitzer Company acquired Skee-Ball rights from Piesen.

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company (founded in 1904, one of the oldest existing roller coaster manufacturing companies in the world) acquired the copyright, patents, and all rights for the exclusive manufacturing of Skee-Ball Alleys from Wurlitzer in 1945. However, it wasn't until 1974 that Skee Ball was modernized with state of the art electronics. Seeing the value of SkeeBall, they created Skee-Ball Inc in 1977 to focus on various forms of Skee Ball.

Today, you can play Skee Ball on your Smart-phone (pic at right) and Skee-Ball Inc even released an anniversary alley to commemorate 100 years of Skee Ball! Centennial Alley with 1930's retro exterior and 21st century interior, From the Skee-Ball website:
Your beloved Skee-Ball Alley is 100 years NEW! Meet the all-new Centennial Alley. With 1930's retro exterior and twenty-first century interior, this alley is both and enthusiast's and collector's dream. The 13th Centennial Alley boasts traditional colors, authentic flip display, and pull handle activation lever. Also, the oak exterior is gorgeously hand-finished to impart a true representation of the original Skee-Ball Alley.
September 14, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Unlocking the secret of retro gaming is child's play

The secret of retro gaming
The secret of retro gaming
This little boy is going to grow up to be awesome.

If you're grown up and love retro games... you're awesome too!
September 13, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The best worst game translation: Zero Wing- All Your Base Are Belong To Us

Arcade mania flourished in the early 80s. Every new game arriving on the floor of the Electric Playhouse was cause for mass communication. We didn't have social media or cell phones, but we did have telephones - and we used them. News of a new game cabinet set the phone wires ablaze - yep, all that RJ-11. Seeing Stargate for the first time was like having a rock band come back to your house after you'd just seen them from the front row of a stadium.

All your base are belong to us screen shot Mega Drive Zero Wing No one ever called me about Zero Wing. I hadn't even heard of it until 1992 when the European Mega Drive version, by Toaplan, spawned one of my favorite internet Memes. All your base are belong to us. Zero Wing was laden with poor translation from the original Japanese game, but this one was a glorious flub! It appeared in the game's introduction giving it a large audience.

The AYB phrase began to pop up all over. It was spray painted onto highway overpasses and photoshop'd onto even moe places and pictures. It went viral before the term really existed in the mainstream.

It should have read:
CATS: With the cooperation of Federation Forces, all of your bases now belong to us

Zero Wing arcade cabinet However, it was translated onto the screen as:
CATS: All your base are belong to us.

Zero Wing - The Arcade Game

Zero Wing was a Japanese side-scrolling shooter that met with modest success. Developed by Toaplan and published by Taito in 1989, it was later ported to the PC Engine CD-ROM and Sega Mega Drive. You play as the main character, Zig, who's mission is similar to many arcade games: only YOU can save the world!

Due to the poor (but extremely funny) translation, Zero Wing never seemed to get a fair review. Most focused on the idiotic text translation and ignored the game itself. Those who took the game-play into account actually thought it was a fairly good game. It doesn't really inspire me to track down a copy, but it sounds like a reasonably good game.

Actually, I should get a copy because I adore mediocre (even crappy) games. I freely admit that some of my favorite games actually suck. It would be the perfect closing of the circle to have een drawn in by te All Your Base meme and then discover I really like the game that spawned it. OK, I'm off to find Zero Wing!
September 12, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Am I the only one who missed the memo about today being- National Video Games Day? How can there be a National Video Games Day and no fanfare? I didn't hear a thing about this all day. In fact, I didn't hear about it until a few days later. WTF?

September 12, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

General Mills goes retro by releasing Fruit Brute & Yummy Mummy Monster cereals

We try to keep our retro lust focused on retro gaming, but occasionally something of retro value crosses our path that we are unable to wedge into an Atari 2600 slot. Perplexed, we dig deeper in search of answers. Recently we basked in Black Sabbath's 13 - a new CD straight out of their early days. Retro Gold!

General Mills Monster Cereal
Finding Candy Corn on supermarket shelves in mid-August is both good and bad. The good part is I adore Candy Corn and freeze a few bags each Fall so I can scarf it down all year long. The bad part is twofold... Summer is coming to an end and we can't be more than 3 weeks away from Christmas decorations appearing next to the Candy corn.

Every Halloween, General Mill releases their Monster cereals to select markets. If you follow Genera Mills' cereal blog, you may have heard the news and been on the cusp of snagging some classic cereal with a twist! This year they're bringing back Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy!

From the General Mills blog:
Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy are returning to store shelves this fall. They'll join our three other signature Monster Cereals - Franken Berry, Boo Berry and Count Chocula - for the first time, in our annual seasonal, limited time run of the cereals to celebrate Halloween.
Frute Brute Frute Brute was discontinued in 1982, after an eight year run. We're not sure about the differing spellings of "Fruit".
Fruity Yummy Mummy Fruity Yummy Mummy left shelves in 1992, after just five years.

Count Chocula and Frankenberry were released in 1971 with Booberry following in 1973. Frute Brute arrived in 1975, but was short lived and ultimately replaced by Fruity Yummy Mummy in 1987. Since 2010, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, and Count Chocula cereals are only made and sold briefly during the Halloween season. Gotta get 'em while you can!

Monster Cereal Goes Retro

Many of us grew up with blueberry-flavored cereal since the 70s and have suffered later in life as Booberry was relegated solely to the Halloween holiday. This year General Mills is releasing all 5 monster cereals with the inclusion of Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy. The best retro news is some retailers will receive retro packaging of these cereals! I've heard Target stores are one of the locations who should be selling the original retro packages.
September 11, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Area 51 let Atari fans battle alien zombies via co-op light guns running on CoJag

Alien spaceship Atari Area 51 arcade cabinet Veiled in secrecy, north of Las Vegas, is the US Military's Area 51 base whose popularity is fueled by rumors each week on Discovery Channel and in the minds of those who want to believe. Not even Agent Mulder's Federal credentials would get him close enough to find the truth.

Many UFO fanatics have perched at the outer edges of the Area 51 base hoping for answers. These days remote cameras and armed guards dissuade such excursions near the base. Tempers flared when Skylab photographed it from space in 1974, so it stands to reason that you can't simply walk up to the gate these days.

Area 51 - The Arcade Game

Area 51 has always held enough mystery to be a hot topic. The X-Files, which began airing in September 1993, added to the public's interest in UFOs and unexplainable phenomena. In 1995, Atari Games took advantage of public interest in this mysterious military installation by releasing an arcade game of the same name. Area 51 was released by Atari Games as a co-op light gun-based video game.

Area 51 Flyer 2 The story arc of the game involves the main character, Peterson, taking part in a STAAR (Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response) mission to stop the aliens (called, the Kronn) and alien zombies from taking over the Area 51 military facility. Your mission is to breach the facility and begin an internal Area 51 self-destruct mechanism. Area 51 was ported to the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and PC in addition to spawning a 1998 sequel, Area 51 Site 4.

The CoJag PCB for Arcade Games

Atari Cojag arcade PCB Outside of it's popularity, due to subject matter, and it's co-op use of 2-player light guns, Area 51 had some interesting attributes under the hood. I love seeing an Atari logo. Any time I see that iconic logo, a world of home consoles and arcade hits dance through my mind. However, I tend to forget that Atari as been segmented, split and divided to the point at which "Atari" today isn't the same entity as my beloved 2600 VCS.

In late 1993, Atari was back in retail circles with the Jaguar 64-bit game console. It's chipset was licensed by Atari Games to use in arcade games. Named COJAG (Coin-Op Jaguar), it replaced the 68000 with a 68020 or MIPS R3000-based CPU (depending on the board version), and added a hard drive and more RAM. In the case of Area 51, the first arcade game to use the Cojag PCB, digitized video was stored on a hard drive and used in the game along with standard 2D sprites.

The CoJag board was a move to bring a faster chipset to arcade games while leveraging the work already achieved via the release of the Atari Jaguar. Due to this technology being within various Atari entities, I believe it was used exclusively in games released by Atari Games between 1994 and 1996. The addition of a hard drive, made it possible to use pre-rendered assets within a game. The 2D sprites cold be laid on top of a moving background, for example, without over-burdening the processor. I believe this technology is similar to the LaserDisc games, like Dragon's Lair, that integrated FMV footage from the LD while the processor took care of the sprites. The difference being that the Cojag implemented a hard drive as opposed to a fixed-storage medium like LaserDisc.

My UFO Theory

Atari Area 51 extraterrestrial From The arcade game to the X-Files and decades of UFO conspiracy theories, I feel compelled to offer my own theory on UFOs. I think it's safe to assume that most things seen in the night skies are easily explained as military tests or optical illusions of sorts. At the same time it seems ignorant to assume that humans are the only intelligent life forms in existence.

Discovery Channel has no shortage of programming that details unexplainable things from the great pyramids to other grand architectural feats that seem more advanced than the societies in which they are attributed.

Here's the deal - Little green men swooped in and built the pyramids and all this other stuff. So, why haven't they returned? Think about that quiet little beach you used to enjoy before it was "discovered" and now tons of people are all over it. Earth was a quiet place when aliens built the pyramids in Egypt. These days our planet is encased in electrical noise from satellites, microwave towers, radio waves and all sorts of frequencies. I'm sure aliens still zip by from time-to-time, but they probably roll up the windows wondering, "What the Hell is that racket!"
September 10, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

You can't go back to the future wearing glass slippers witout attention to detail

Delorean monster truck Delorean monster truck
Cinderella Monster Coach Cinderella's Monster Coach was on display for the Disney Infinity launch.

Cinderella Monster Coach
September 9, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

TVs have gone from being furniture to requiring furniture & now hung on a wall

Retro gamers know the value of a good CRT. A 72" HD TV with HDMI is swell and looks nice when wistfully masquerading as a picture frame on an otherwise barren white wall. However all that money won't do justice to 8-bit games. 8 bit games thrive when electrons are fired from a cathode ray gun at a phosphor coated glass screen. That'll make your joystick wiggle! :)

Vintage portable black and white tv I remember the portable black and white TV we had in our kitchen. It's screen couldn't have been more than 4 inches. I watched Viet Nam news reels and Walter Cronkite on it while my Mom made dinner and we waited for my Dad to return from work. The concept of family was much different way back then. We also has a larger B&W TV in the living room, but it too was fairly small - maybe a 10" or 12" screen. But things were about to change.

I was so young, this seemed satisfactory to me. Our TV was tucked away and viewed in short spurts until Saturday morning cartoons came on. But television was going to take a big leap and become the dominant focal point of living rooms everywhere.

Vintage Zenith logo Downplayed would be the small table-top TVs. The television was going to become furniture! Beautiful wood grained boxes, raised up on legs, would offer a large tabletop surface in your living room. Family and friends would gather around this wondrous device and revel in the moment. It wouldn't be too long that fascination with televisions would take them from a passive form or entertainment to a life-changing interaction with every pixel on the screen.

Our first color TV was a Zenith console style model on legs Our first color TV was a Zenith console set that I believe we got around 1970. It was a mammoth toy for me to explore. I discovered the pinpoint accuracy necessary to dial in a UHF channel and the lower flap that revealed controls for hue, brightness and other settings. I felt like I was in control of an amazing device - for a 6-year-old I kinda was!

Time marched on and we found ourselves with yet another color TV to replace the behemoth Zenith. I don't recall the model, but it was the same screen size, yet remarkably smaller than the Zenith. VCRs were coming into vogue and the price was dropping accordingly. We got cable TV the same year Mtv debuted and suddenly we realized our TV had accessories.

Gone was the behemoth with that large tabletop surface. Where would we put all these extra boxes? We needed furniture for our TV. The term entertainment center began to take meaning. So we bought a coffee table height entertainment center that had a long top on which the TV sat and 2 shelves below for the VCR and... well it would someday house an Atari 2600.

Any product that catches on will go through changes and improvements, but it's so hard to predict the future. When I was mesmerized by the Zenith's hue dial, It never occurred to me that TV's would grown to 6 foot diagonals, morph to a few inches in depth and hang on the wall like a painting. But it happened - and it happens to all lasting products.

Zenith Electronics - A Brief History

As an American manufacturer of consumer electronics, Zenith was a leader in many facets of modernizing our lives. it was founded in Chicago, IL in 1918. Today, you might have a hard time finding a Zenith product, but they created the TV remote control, pioneered the concept of subscription television (Phonevision) and were first to develop HDTV in North America. In 1995 LG Electronics purchased a controlling share of Zenith and bought out the rest in 1999.

"The quality goes in, before the name goes on"
September 8, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Slim Jim team wants you to play Halo 4 with renown gamer & cosplayer Meg Turney

Last Fall, Slim Jim caught our attention with their "Male Spice Loss" advertising and inclusion of EA game codes in their packaging. We're always interested in how companies try to align with various demographics. We think Slim Jim did a good job making a logical tie-in with their products and a fun campaign. Too often these campaigns feel forced or mismatched. Well done, SJ!

Play Halo 4 with Meg Turney via Slim Jim Keeping up their appeal to the gaming and geek communities, Slim Jim is now giving you the opportunity to play Halo 4 with renown geek-girl Meg Turney.

She's Slim Jim's gaming correspondent and also hosts & contributes on several geek/tech/gaming sites as well as cosplaying at many of the cons. She's fun to follow on social media and her fans never tire of saying great things about her. We've never met her, but she sounds swell :)

Check out the Slim Jim info about their Halo 4 with Meg Turney Event which takes place Sept. 10.

If you had any doubts... Meg knows how to prep a stubborn NES cart ;)
Meg Turney knows how to prep a stubborn NES cart Having been long-time fans of various chips, we decided to cast aside the crumbs and strange orange dust that was destroying our game controllers. We have adopted Slim Jims as our gaming snack of choice.

It's hard to sustain a long gaming session without food. Snacks go a long way whether you're on a marathon session or gaming with friends. Either way, most snacks leave really nasty residues and random gunk on the controllers. Slim Jim puts an end to that by being individually packaged and solid - no crumbs or residue!
Meg Turney cosplaying as Princess Leia Meg Turney cosplaying as Princess Leia
Meg Turney Meg Turney pic.

September 8, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Absent of dialog, the Raving Rabbids finally invaded primetime on Nickelodeon

Rabbids Invasion logo Rabbids Invasion is based on the Raving Rabbids video game series produced by Ubisoft and began airing this past August on Nickelodeon. In October 2010, Ubisoft and Aardman Studios announced a partnership to produce the TV series based on the Rabbids. Aardman Studios is a British animation studio responsible for the 2006 animated film Flushed Away.

One year later, it was announced that 78 seven-minute CG animated episodes would be made by Ubisoft Motion Pictures alone, to be broadcast as 26 thirty-minute episodes. So, after a year and announcements at E3, the squawking antics of the Rabbids have arrived in primetime - with a toned down level of violence.

An interesting facet to both the video games and TV series is that Rabbids don't speak. Most kid's programing is riddled with talking animals, so the lack of dialog makes this a different kind of experience.

The humans in the episodes speak, but the Rabbid's communication is in the form of volume and inflection. This draws you into it's episodes as looking away from the TV (w/ a tablet or book in your lap) removes some of the context. ABC Family aired an episode of Switched At Birth in silence which heightened engagement. I t will be interesting to see if the Rabbids return for a 2nd season.

Rabbids Invasion Ubi's Raving Rabbid's series holds a special place in my heart as Rabbids Go Home was the first modern game my son and I played together (Dig Dug was our first retro gaming experience). It was actually the first game we bought when we purchased our first Wii.

What's the Deal with Rayman and The Rabbids?

Here's where things get a bit murky for me. Rayman appeared on the original PlayStation and Atari Jaguar. As time passed he seemed to be joined by raving Rabbids, then the two went their separate ways. I've often wondered about the backstory to their interactions and tried to seek a bit more info about these two characters.

Rayman Raving Rabbids, released Nov. 2006 on the Wii, is the first game to incorporate both characters. It seems that the developers came up with the "army of rabbits" concept while working on King Kong. This "army" became the "ultimate enemy" for use in the next Rayman game. With the release of the Wii and it's unique controllers, they scrapped the platformer and came up with Rayman Raving Rabbids for PS2, Xbox 360, Wii, Windows, GBA and DS.

September 7, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Intoxicated game developer codes Baconator Boss Level for 8-bit Hungry Hungry Hippos

I always associated Hungry Hungry Hippos with board games. It was also an arcade game →

Pam Horton, Playboy Playmate and Gamer Girl We love Pam Horton! She was Playboy's Miss October in 2012 and Gamer Girl Next Door. Usually, this makes my stomach churn, but Pam really is a gamer. She's been a great follow on social media as her desire to break into the artistic side of the gaming industry has taken her to many conventions, comic cons and gaming companies. She's the real deal!

8-bit hamburger Hungry Hungry Hippos Boss level concept art.
Hungry Hippos eat a burger Hungry Hungry Hippos game inspiration.

An Introspective look at Hungry Hungry Hippos The ARCADE Game

Milton Bradley Hungry Hungry Hippos game If you're like me, you recall Hungry Hungry Hippos as an annoying plastic Hasbro game under the Milton Bradley brand that broke long before any discernable fun occurred. As a toddler, you'd maniacally bang the lever forcing the plastic hippo to eat marbles as the entire hippo arena shook. It wasn't long before someone tilted the board and punching & crying erupted. Wow, what fun, eh?

Not long ago I ventured into the Holiday Hills Arcade on Cape Cod and saw a gigantic rendition of this atrocious kiddie game in the form of a full size arcade redemption game! To my surprise it was getting lots of play by little kids. Everything that irritated me as an adult, delighted the kids! It looked as though some Harry Potter spell-gone-wrong had transformed that Milton Bradley nightmare into a jumbo sized 4-player redemption game. It's one of the few games that let all 4 players encircle all sides of the game machine.

Hungry Hungry Hippos at The Holiday Hills Arcade on Cape Cod Closer inspection revealed something quite interesting. Some versions have electronics that operate the hippos with a single button-press. This version used handles in a more mechanical sense. The action is enclosed in a dome with a scoreboard mounted at the top to keep track of everyone's eaten marbles. It looked similar to the Super Chexx Bubble Hockey table set up nearby. As it turned out both games are made by Innovative Concepts in Entertainment (ICE).

in the original version of the game, created in 1967, there were four hippos: Lizzie (purple), Henry (orange), Homer (green), and Harry (yellow). Officially, the plural of Hippopotamus is hippopotami - but more than one moose are not called meese.
September 7, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Prototype games sometimes come to life via homebrew passion, like Power Lords

Power Lords: Quest For Volcan Power Lords: Quest For Volcan was a comic book with a release of action figures, produced by Revel, that was destined for the prominent home video game consoles of 1983. Reaching the prototype stage and advertised in various magazines, it vanished into the mysterious void of unreleased games. Thus it's release on Odyssey, Colecovision and Atari 2600 never happened.

A proto ROM of Power Lords, for Colecovision has been floating around since late 2001. Ten years later, in March of 2011, it was announced on Atari Age that a homebrew version of Power Lords would be released on cartridge for the Atari 2600! This homebrew release was limited to 50 carts (no box or manual) but brought back the excitement that only a rare game release can offer. Folks jumped at the opportunity.

We'd have jumped too but sometimes when you have your "ear to the ground", your target flies overhead undetected. So, were a few years late to this party, but it still demonstrates the value of the homebrew community who stive to bring new and proto releases to the playing public.

Power Lords: Quest For Volcan The Power Lords screen shot to the left is from the Atari 2600 homebrew release. Click it to view other variants for Coleco.

We haven't been able to locate a ROM for the 2600 and are not sure if a second run of carts were ever released. Very often the ROM will surface after the author has sold all the cart versions. Check out the Coloco proto ROM to get a feel for the game play and to experience the joy of a "new" game on an aged console.

Again we come to a circumstance where I can't help but believe that ROMs can serve a good purpose. There are always legal issues surrounding the USE and distribution of ROMs, but they allow the ability to play rare, proto & homebrew games that are not easily available in original format. For those Retro Gamers who weren't able to take advantage of the initial run of Home brew carts may want to check out the Coleco ROM.

Power Lords: Quest For Volcan Power Lords: Quest For Volcan
September 6, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Holiday Hill Arcade was my childhood hangout each Summer & It's still going strong!

Roadside sign for the Holiday Hill arcade and Mototr Inn on Cape Cod Summers in the early 1980s were a magical time. My family spent most of the Summer at my grandparent's house on Cape Cod. I had use of a car, a bit of spending money and arcades were in full glory! Arcades at the time housed the most iconic and insanely cool video game cabinets ever made.

Of course we didn't know that at the time. We just reveled in the awesomeness of a Cape Cod Summer full of Asteroids, Missile Command, Tempest, Star Castle, Pac-Man, Berzerk, Phoenix, Defender, Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Zaxxon, Robotron 2084, Dig Dug, Joust, Q*bert... Does the list ever end?

Most Summer nights ended up at Holiday Hill Arcade. It was the largest arcade we knew of in the area. Today, much of it's floor space is dedicated to an indoor bumper car attraction. Back in the day the entire building was a dark maze of arcade cabinets beckoning us with brilliant marquees and creative attraction modes - both on-screen and belting from each cab's speakers.

On site was an ice cream shop, an outlet store and the Holiday Hill Motor Inn, (now called the Holiday Hill Inn and Suites) in addition to the arcade. We occasionally hit up the ice cream stand, but it was the arcade that had a tight grasp on our attention and all our quarters. Currently, there is a nice mini golf course, but I simply don't remember if it was there all those years ago. Back then we usually played Pirate's Cove mini golf.

The Holiday Hill Arcade in Dennis, MA

The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod These days the Holiday Hill Arcade sign primarily advertises the bumper cars, but 20 years ago the entire space was dedicated to arcade games of all shapes and sizes.
The ice cream shop at Holiday Hill Arcade I love this building. It's iconic shape screams of the 50's when such buildings shrieked of burger nirvana. The ice cream at Holiday Hill isn't bad :)

Inside the Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod

The Holiday Hill bumper cars set up at the front of the Arcade | Cape Cod When you enter the front door, you're diverted into a narrow path that separates you from being run over by bumper cars.
The Holiday Hill bumper cars in action in the Arcade on Cape Cod The bumper cars in action. Tickets are purchased via a vending machine that I kept thinking was a token machine. I mistakenly wound up with a lot of Bumper Car tickets :)

Super Chexx buble hockey at the Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod One of the first games we encountered was this Super Chexx bubble hockey. I had a small table-top hockey game as a kid, but this is one robust machine. I've never seen a tabletop game that was this solid! Tons of fun... and if you've seen the episode of Regular Show, it's "So Fun! So Fun! So Fun!"
Super Chexx is a table hockey arcade game that is still being manufactured by Innovative Concepts in Entertainment (ICE). They began in 1982 in Clarence, New York - near Buffalo. This style of game is also called bubble hockey, rod hockey, table hockey or dome hockey because of the long player-control rods and the protective dome (bubble) covering the playing field.
Super Chexx buble hockey at the Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod Super Chexx bubble hockey at the Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod. In 2010 ICE introduced a Deluxe Home version of the game with no coin doors and started offering NHL and AHL licensed team versions.

Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod Tucked away in a back corner are these 2 gems - Ms. Pc-Man and Donkey Kong. The Ms. Pac-Man cab has original art, but the DK cab looks as if it were repurposed into this cab. I have many memories of playing Donkey Kong at the Holiday Hill Arcade and often wonder if this is the same cab I played as a kid. My 8-year-old and I have had several DK games on this cab!
Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod Ms. Pac-Man (1981) and Donkey Kong (1981) at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod

Air Hockey at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod I've always loved air hockey. Any time I find an air hockey table with a friend, I can't help but play at least one game. A company I used to work for had an air hockey table in their break room. At Holiday Hill, they still only charge 75¢ for a nice long game. The carpet is a bit faded, but check out that hunk they have on the back wall. Does that scream 1980 or what!?! lol

Air Hockey was invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards employees in 1972 who were working on the creation of a game utilizing a frictionless surface. The company subsequently began manufacturing Air Hockey tables. Brunswick Billiards began in 1845 as a carriage manufacturer, but switched to the more lucrative business of making billiard tables.
Mortal Kombat 3 at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod Mortal Kombat 3 (1995) at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod. MK3 was the first Mortal Kombat game to have bi-level battlefields, letting players uppercut their opponent to the level above them. It also introduced the 6-digit Kombat Kodes (and the 10-digit Ultimate Kombat Kode), which were entered at the VS screen in a 2-Player game, to add modifications.

Sega Out Runners at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod Gotta love a 2 player sit-in driving game like Sega's Out Runners (1993). Even if the title-screen says 1992, OutRunners was released in May 1993 in Japan. Out Runners was capable of up to 8-players using link-up cabinets. A very limited edition soundtrack for the game was released during the '93 Christmas holiday by Toshiba EMI - Virtua Racing & Out Runners.
Sega Out Runners at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod Sega Out Runners at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod

Off Road Challenge at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod When we first went to play Off Road Challenge, the game kept dropping into test mode which I found almost as interesting as the game itself. In fact it was more fun than hacking kiosks in Best Buy.
Off Road Challenge at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod Off Road Challenge (1997) at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod

Sega Motor Raid at The Holiday Hill Arcade | Cape Cod We had a good time with this sit-on motorcycle game Sega Motor Raid (1997) - even though one side was out of order. This was a rom swap upgrade for the former Manx TT Superbike arcade game. Marvelous Entertainment released a very rare soundtrack for this game in January 1998.
Barnyard Babies at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod I always want to yank the plug on Barnyard Babies. It cackles the loudest and worst animal sounds just a few feet from the Donkey Kong cab. There must be a story to this odd skee-ball-ish kiddie game.

Hungry Hungry Hippos at The Holiday Hill Arcade on Cape Cod Hungry Hungry Hippos (1991). The dome on top of the game - especially the scoreboard at the top - is sort of reminiscent of the bubble hockey game, isn't it? Would you believe Hungry Hungry Hippos is also manufactured by Innovative Concepts in Entertainment (ICE)? That connection sort of blew me away - lol.

I'm still amazed that the Holiday Hill Arcade is still here and has quite a few retro gems in service. This arcade is the closest thing to the manic frenzy of early 80's arcades that I've found in today's staid world of public responsibility. Let go - go nuts - play like it's 1982!

The Holiday Hill arcade and Mototr Inn on Cape Cod
The Holiday Hill arcade and Mototr Inn on Cape Cod circa 1960 The Holiday Hill plaza around 1960 - showing The Lobster Dory Restaurant!
September 5, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Alyssa Milano should make a fake sex tape to promote retro gaming

I've been a fan of Alyssa Milano since she played Sam on Who's The Boss?
Today she tried to focus attention on the situation in Syria via the allure of a sex tape. Even at age 40, fans were willing to click madly through cyberspace in the hope that news of the leaked sex tape were true. She's still got it! :)

Alas, the sex tape was simply an attempt to get your attention and offer some information about the importance of the Syrian situation. That sort of bait-and-switch can be as irritating as those flashing gif files that thankfully went away years ago (although things have a way of coming back).

So, there is no Alyssa Milano sex tape today even though it was just yesterday that Milano was discussing her bedtime routine with the Huffington Post. Apparently she prefers sleeping in sleeveless pajamas although "I don't sleep with a thong up my butt, that's for sure".

The footage from Alyssa's fake sex tape appeared on the Funny or Die website. Milano herself tried to add some realism to the "leaked tape" with a few Tweets and a link to the video. I was surprised to read that reactions to her video have been somewhat negative. I wonder if folks adverse to being duped into hearing political views or were pissed that Alyssa wasn't naked!

We admire her creativity in getting people to take more interest in global events. Education is a tricky business and Alyssa Milano's vision wouldn't have worked in the narrow confines of our paranoid (and boob-free) school systems.

Alyssa Milano fake sex tape tweets Alyssa Milano fake sex tape video
Alyssa Milano in Mistresses on ABC Overall, we dig what Milano did. Hopefully some people, who may not follow the world's events, will learn something about the Syrian situation. And I'm sure it will put Alyssa's name out there and help promote her latest TV show Mistresses on ABC.

If this sort of virally-motivated sex fakery becomes the norm, we're going to suggest that Ms. Milano put her faux-nudity into exposing the savage joys of Retro Gaming to the masses!
September 5, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It took me a while to realize that video games & toys don't have to make sense

Springer game for Atari 2600 I'm willing to suspend belief to enjoy a movie or a performance such as a magic act. Even the best magician won't really saw a woman in half any more than your neighbor's Camaro is going to transform into a robot. Enjoying such things requires one to "play along" and believe. It's when our suspended belief is "taken advantage of" that we tend to get angry. When a story line gets too ridiculous... or a video game for that matter!

It used to drive me crazy when a video game would go off on a tangent that seemed counter to the entire game. Other times I would read the story arc to a game and wonder how any of it applied to what I'd seen on screen. Very often there was a huge disconnect between the story of the game and the action on screen. Sometimes the mechanics or controls were just bad.

As I aged, I turned off my sense of reason and decided to let others tell their story. For me, whether I'm reading a book, watching TV/movie or playing a video game, if I'm engaging some form of entertainment, I try to let it roll. I used to yell at my TV, walk out of movie theaters and - worst of all - thrash my controllers when things didn't go my way. Getting angry changed nothing.

These days, I try to interact with media with a healthier respect for the story being told and the story teller. Everything tells a story whether it's a print ad, film, museum exhibit or a friend recanting a recent adventure.

Here are a few examples of toys I just don't understand...

Pinkie Cooper And The Jet Set Pets Pinkie Cooper And The Jet Set Pets. So, here we have a series of dolls with a dog's head on a girl's body and human hair styles - on both the doll and her pet. Can't we all be happy with Barbie and Monster High dolls?
Bandai's Pac Panic Spinners Bandai's Pac Panic Spinners featuring Pac-Man and Betrayus in Pac-Man and the Ghostly adventures. I've seen a lot of cool Pac-Man figures that are wonderfully reminiscent of the beloved arcade game. Battle spinners? Huh?

In the end, retailers are trying to make money by diversifying existing brands and creating new lines. I understand and applaud that, but still find it strange to walk down an aisle in Toys R Us, see an item and wonder, "What is that thing?" And I now smirk at video game oddities rather than abusing the controller :)
September 4, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Donkey Kong Timeline - following Nintendo's favorite ape from arcades to living rooms

I've loved Donkey Kong since playing it in arcades, the Atari 2600 and all the way up to the Nintendo Wii. I missed a few iterations over the decades and love this look at DK's evolution from pixels to FMV!

Take a look at Wiki's massive listing of Donkey Kong releases in arcades and home video game consoles. The Official Nintendo Magazine has a great visual look at Donkey Kong over the ages.

Donkey Kong Timeline
September 4, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Jack Tramiel- Business Is War: upcoming documentary about the man who created the Commodore & started the revolution

History was my least favorite subject in school. It wasn't until I better understood Nolan Bushnell's role with Atari and the powerful influence of Jack Tramiel, that I saw the importance of history - video game history! Jack Tramiel I was the right age when the Atari 2600 was released to live through the early phase of video games.

My gaming lust was born with the Atari 2600, but computers didn't come into our home until much later. My first computer was a Kaypro portable (1984) that was the size of a suitcase. During the computer revolution of the early 80s, I was focused on video games and quite oblivious to the power of computers.

Having heard about this upcoming documentary about Jack Tramiel, I've done a bit of reading on him which excites me even more about this project! Just as Steve Jobs caught widespread attention for his role at Apple, I feel Tramiel deserves to have his story told. He was a charismatic leader and brilliant innovator who seemed to have a similar understanding of market conditions and consumers that enabled him to deliver in much the same way Jobs did.

Knowing little about Commodore and Tramiel's beginnings, I was surprised to learn he began repairing typewriters and manufacturing adding machines which would spur Tramiel to go digital. Down the road, Warner Broadcasting came to Tramiel asking him to turnaround Atari. Within 3 weeks Tramiel closed 21 offices, making Atari profitable within 6 months.

Atari jaguar logo To be honest, most of my exposure to the Tramiel family was during the Atari Jaguar era when I was astonished and delighted to see a new game console from Atari sitting on retail shelves. This sparked a new interest, for me, in Atari history. Tramiel was responsible for a great many changes within Atari that enabled it to forge ahead.

I can't wait to hear more info about this documentary project. You can follow @JACKTRAMIELDOC on Twitter for more info, as well as the JACK TRAMIEL DOC - Business is war website.
September 3, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

SNK NeoGeo Cyber-Lip ad: “I remember when he couldn't Keep his hands off me!”

I've seen this image for the longest time and always wondered if it was an ad. I could never find a version with any logos, branding or copyright info. Was there a larger picture that would add needed context? Was it an ad for the game shown on screen? I wasn't sure since I've seen variants with different game screen shots.

"I Remember When He Couldn't Keep His Hands Off Me!"

Cyber-Lip ad: I remember when he couldn't Keep his hands off me! Finally, while playing Cyber-Lip on the NeoGeo X, I saw that iconic (and somewhat phallic) image during an early boss level. I froze in my tracks and sat stupidly gazing at the TV screen. Mesmerized, by having found this screen image that I'd seen in that ad all these years, it felt like a momentous occasion.

I'm doubtful that any national holidays will be declared, but it took Tommo's release of the NeoGeo X and the MegaPack game release, which contained Cyber-Lip, for me to clue in to this formerly mysterious advertisement. I still wonder why there's no branding on any of the versions I've seen. There must be a story here. Maybe it was designed for a trade show or event.

SNK's Cyber-Lip for NeoGeo

Cyber-Lip logo Cyber-Lip was released in 1990 by SNK for the NeoGeo MVS (Multi Video System), which let arcade operators put up to six different PCBs into a single arcade cabinet. Six arcade cabs take up a lot of floor space, so putting six games into the foot print of one was a good innovation that saved money. Cyber-Lip was SNK's first foray into run and gun platformers, but was plagued by the inability to shoot diagonally - your enemies could!

Cyber-Lip is a horizontal scrolling platformer. I've seen several references likening it to Contra due to it's 2-player co-op mode and level-ending boss battles. The players control one of two human soldiers, who are sent into combat on a last-ditch attempt to save Earth from a malfunctioning military supercomputer in charge of all military androids. Prior to it's NeoGeo X release, Cyber-Lip had been ported to the Neo Geo CD console.

A few folks from Irem developed Cyber-Lip and later went on to create Metal Slug. You'll definitely see some similarities between Cyber-Lip and the manic Metal Slug series. Irem is also known for earlier hits like Moon Patrol and R-Type.

Naturally, I had to make an update to this image with all the proper branding... :)

I remember when he couldn't Keep his hands off me! NeoGeo Cyber-Lip Ad Cyber-Lip Ad
September 2, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Create a custom t-shirt w/ @DrPepper & possibly win the Ultimate Game House #UGH

Dr. Pepper custom t-shirt I came across the Dr. Pepper Gaming account on Twitter and decided to snoop around to see if Ultimate Game House was still going on.

On their promotions page was an offer to create a custom Dr. Pepper t-shirt. This seemed like a good time to slap some Retro Gaming on a shirt and chug some Dr. Pepper.
September 2, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nerf began as a foam ball, became weaponized for Nintendo, and now markets girl-power

Vintage Nerf Rocket launcher I grew up with Nerf and all the insane foam products they packed into local toy stores. I had a green football, a yellow soccer ball and a vinyl missile launcher that would send a nerf-missile about 10 feet when pummeled. All that foam let my parents rest easy knowing that internal damage to our home would be at a minimum.

All that foam goodness from childhood rushed back when I became a father. I wanted my son to have a full arsenal of nerf products just as I had. However, I had no idea that Nerf had become a weaponized company that could indeed offer an arsenal. The aisles that housed the foam balls of my childhood were now packed with Nerf assault rifles touting various rapid fire rates. Not a squirt-gun in sight - everything has a projectile.

Sure, I'd seen ads for their various "guns", but I had no idea that they no longer made balls! My last experience with Nerf was the case I bought for my Nintendo DS. I love this Nerf DS case and have not found a better case. What better protection for a gaming handheld than Nerf!?! :)

I never bought any of the Nerf games on Nintendo's Wii or DS consoles. To me a toy is a toy. If I want a shooting or FPS game, I'm not likely to want to incorporate Nerf in the experience. BTW - how many foam darts does it take to rid the screen of enemies? ;)

Nerf Rebelle Then on a recent trip to Toys R Us, I found myself in the Nerf aisle and was disturbed to see that Nerf now wants to include girls in their foam-dart assault rifle product line - Nerf Rebelle.

I guess I'm still too accustomed to boy's toys and girl's toys. However, I hope most parents will see through the absurdity of a pink gun for girls. Just for the record, I'm not against firearms, I just hate to see gender bending in the toy marketplace via a coat of pink paint.

Here are a few of the Nerf Rebelle guns for girls I found at my local TRU:
Nerf Rebelle guns for girls Nerf's pink Guardian Crossbow for girls seems to have all the firepower needed to take out a marauding band of unicorns.
Nerf Rebelle guns for girls Nerf's pink Crush Blaster for those days when single-shot scenarios are at hand.

Nerf Rebelle guns for girls Nerf's pink Heartbreaker Bow seems suited for telling boys that "no" means "NO!"

Too many toys get the "pink" makeover to be resold into girl's markets. On the other hand, I do like the idea of the little girl who whips out a crossbow when a pillow fight erupts at a sleep-over! :)
September 1, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Capcom releases 25th anniversary Street Fighter documentary on YouTube

25th anniversary Street Fighter A documentary chronicling the glory of the Street Fighter video game series came out last year as part of Capcom's Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Collector's Set. This film looks at the fans from the arcade fanatics to those involved with it's development and growth over the span of the series.

Street Fighter has spanned decades of players and has earned the 25th anniversary treatment. Of course this starts a whole war of words from those who can't simply enjoy the 72 minute flick for what it is - a great look at Street Fighter! They begin to argue that SF was eclipsed by Mortal Kombat or King Of Fighters. Then there are those who argue that Pac-Man is far more recognizable and iconic than SF.

Check out I Am Street Fighter on YouTube.

September 1, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bowl & Bistro upscales the traditional bowling alley, but opts out on arcade games

I've never understood the strategy of bowling, nor have I been very good at this sport. I'm sure there's a connection buried in there somewhere. However, I have had a long love affair with the lanes in every town I've ever lived. Amidst the lackluster snacks, rank shoes and the sound of tumbling pins is the faint resonance of 8-bit delight. Arcade games!

The Lanes Bowl and Bistro My latest residency brought me to the beach (again) - a place where I grew up as a kid. I'll spare you the gory details of how I came to live in the beach town I summer'd in as a kid, but the important part is that the arcade I frequented every Summer is still operational!

Knowing the Holiday Hill Arcade was still in existence made me want to explore more. I discovered a bowling alley - always a good source of arcade classics - that had recently renovated and re-opened as an upscale dining and bowling facility.

I dropped endless quarters into the Space Invaders cab at the Armonk Bowl in NY and always considered bowling alleys a formidable source of off-beat arcade games. Their selection process didn't seem to follow the same rules as the larger arcades of the time.

My inclination was to adopt this upscaled facility as my go-to bowling alley of retro gaming goodness. Alas, a deeper perusal of their website revealed that part of the upscaling of the facility led to the removal of the only thing that truly drew me into bowling alleys - video games!

The arcade admission from their website:
Comfortable couches, coffee tables and high-top tables for dining replace the plastic seating and game arcades of yesteryear.

Needless to say, I sought out seedier lanes that offer the kind of entertainment I demand from a bowling alley - arcade games!!

August 2013 Retro Gaming Articles:

August 31, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

August 31, 2013 is National Bacon Day! Today is National Bacon Day! I'm not sure how one should celebrate such a day, but I'm guessing eating bacon is a pat of the festivities.

August 31, 2013 is National Bacon Day!

August 28, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's 2DS handheld is already under fire because 2 is less than 3 #gamerLogic

Some Nintendo fans have forgotten that many consoles and handhelds are re-released (minus a few features) in order to present a more price-conscious device and potentially sell into new demographics. Many of us who do not line up at midnight for new hardware releases, often wait for price cuts. We all remember the large 3DS price drop only months after release. Nintendo even had to offer a kickback to those who paid the original price.

More than two years later, can we really be surprised at a less expensive iteration of the 3DS? I'm not sold on the "2DS" name, but just look at the array of options released for the former DS handheld. Were folks expecting a 4th dimension or smell-o-vision instead?

Nintendo's 2DS handheld game unit

3D has had a tough reality in the world of video games. Thee were some releases in the 80s that didn't really offer a real 3D effect. More recently, from Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy to the pricey Oculus Rift, consumers have been exposed to a wide variety of 3D implementations. There doesn't seem to be one magical form-factor or technology that will become the standard.

The 3DS (released March 2011) was the first 3D device that didn't require headsets, helmets, goggles, etc. It's magical 3D simply sprang a 3rd dimension up at your face... until you tilted the unit and the 3D effect lessened quite a lot. Many users were thankful that Nintendo incorporated a slider switch to adjust the level of the 3D effect - including a zero setting. I've talked with many folks who enjoy the new games afforded by the 3DS handheld, but didn't care about the 3D facet of the device. They shut it off and enjoyed the games in 2D.

I wan't interested in the 3DS until the XL variant came to market. I've heard a few negative comments about how the larger screen was implemented relative to the native screen size and resolution, but the larger screen made me want one. I'm in the camp who doesn't care about the 3D aspect. So, now my quandary is - do I get the 3DS XL for the screen size or save a few bucks on the 2DS?

Nintendo's 2DS handheld game unit Nintendo's 2DS handheld game unit
Nintendo 2DS box Nintendo 2DS box

I'm not sure about Nintendo's claim that this model is for kids - not hardcore gamers. Um... I'm pretty sure a lot of "kids" are hardcore and besides... aren't most video game consoles and handhelds "for kids"? Most adults won't play kiddie games, but hardware doesn't fit the same mould. I think it's great that Nintendo is releasing a lower cost version. It opens the platform to more gamers!

While on the topic... if Nintendo wants to release a 1DS that will play my GB & GBA titles, I'd be all over it!

Nintendo 2DS box
August 27, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Hannah Montana to become newest Redmond hire in wake of Balmer's retirement

Like many child stars in Hollywood, Miley Cyrus has found it hard to shed the innocence of the kiddie-character she portrayed for so long. Following the transition-strategies of Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes, Cyrus borded the crazy train and proceeded to make a spectacle of herself at the Mtv VMA show.

Stranger than that were rumors that Microsoft was interested in making Cyrus the "new face of Microsoft Xbox One's Kinect 2.0". What?!?

Microsoft Xbox Kinect
Miley Cyrus is a Sony / Nintendo gal Ignoring the fact that Ms. Cyrus seems to be more of a Nintendo and Sony kind of gal (release-wise), why would Microsoft hire her to pitch Kinect? Where do these rumors come from? We love that so many sites jumped on the satire - each adding another element to the idiocy that began with Miley's VMA performance.

Long before to her odd routine on the VMAs, Miley's Hannah Montana character had enough star-power to lead Sony to release a PSP 3000 Hanna edition in lilac purple. The PSP 3000 was the final upgrade, prior to Vita, that offered better color reproduction when outputted to TV and a built-in microphone with Skype. These improvements probably weren't significant enough to tempt an existing owner to upgrade, but we're in the Vita era now.

However, you can still buy a lilac hued PSP 3000 from Amazon for slightly more than the Vita :)
Limmited edition Hannah Montana Sony PSP
August 22, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mom should have told me that eating vegetables would give me higher gaming scores

Nickelodeon Partners With Frozen Vegetable Brand Birds Eye for Play With Your Food campaign As a child I had a list of vegetables that were simply inedible. As an adult, I still maintain this list of dreadful tasting vegetables. Even though I was in full belief that Popeye garnered super strength from spinach... that nasty green stuff will always reside on the inedible list.

Healthy foods have always been marketed towards Mothers. The theory is that they did the shopping and were the ones making "food" decisions. That may still be true, but a whining child can also sway purchasing decisions. Have you ever witnessed a tantrum in a toy store? Sold!

Gaming has become an enormous business and BirdsEye - the frozen veggie folks - are banking on integrating their vegetables with gaming and Nickelodeon characters. Hiring Nick star Jennette McCurdy, they are spreading the word about games on and the benefits of healthy eating habits.

broccoli joystick The interesting part is that the online games (that are part of this campaign) allow players to enter UPC codes from packages of Birdseye frozen vegetables to enable special features. As you can see, the screen shot has an input field for the UPC code. I'm hoping there may be mobile variants of these games allowing one to use a smart phone camera to capture the UPC info. The only time I ever fuss with those odd numbers is when a product won't ring-up properly at the grocery store's self-checkout lane.

I've seen several product-to-game campaigns like this that utilize a UPC or other code to promote brand recognition among gamers. However, I rarely see this sort of thing tied to vegetables! There is certainly a "health conscious" mentality emerging in all sorts of areas - even McDonalds claims to have healthy options. the real eye-opener, for me, is the ease with which one can create such a campaign. Obviously, it's easy to put together a Flash game that can take a code from a bag of broccoli, but put that in context with the rigidity of retro gaming!

There are several rare Atari 2600 games that were very product specific like Chase the Chuck Wagon or Pepsi Invaders, but think about how rigid traditional console gaming has always been. A cart is a cart - quirks and defects included. There was no fix or DLC - you lived with what was on the game cartridge or disc.

I love the idea that today's online gaming allows anyone to whip out their checkbook and suddenly an empty wet bag of veggies, that normally went into the trash, has a stately seat beside your iPad as your child wipes their wet fingers across the screen.

There's a reason I'm not in Marketing. Can a child of the age to enjoy Carrot Run, really persuade a parent to buy Birdseye veggies in order to unlock a veggie one-up? Are kids health oriented enough to demand a specific brand in order to improve an online gaming experience?

I rarely found time to fill out GameStop surveys even when they dangled a $500 gift card in front of me. And by the time I get to the grocery store, I'm pretty sure I'd have forgotten if it was Birdseye or Green Giant that was offering me Carrot super powers in the Flash game depths of a website.

Just as there's a reason I'm not in marketing, there's a reason I prefer Atari over web games.

Nickelodeon Partners With Frozen Vegetable Brand Birds Eye for Play With Your Food campaign
August 18, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Disney Infinity release day at Toys R Us - Skylanders did it bigger & better

Disney Infinity release day display at Toys R Us With my 8-year-old son visiting, I knew we had to make a "holiday" out of the Disney Infinity launch day. We woke up early, ate pancakes and called our local Toys R Us to see what time they opened. 8:00AM! We hopped in the car and took off!

Would the store's parking lot be full? Would there be a line outside the front door? Would there be utter chaos?

Disney Infinity release day display at Toys R Us At 10:00AM there were 4 cars in te parking lot and the store looked vacant. A banner had been attached to several over-turned shopping carts outside the main entrance and a small sign out in the parking lot. Classy.

Upon entering, we walked through the Disney Infinity archway. The large display inside the entrance (Where Skylanders Giants had been prominently displayed last October) was stuffed full of Lego City and Chima toys. What? I asked a rep where the DI stuff was and she directed us to the Video Game corner. This was nowhere near the size or excitement of either Skylanders release.

The Skylanders Giants release was staged at multiple locations in our Toys R Us and the products were much more diverse. Granted, the Skylanders franchise was in it's second iteration, but they really blew things up and created a lot more excitement around the new products. Additionally, they did a great job in explaining how Giants worked and how to integrate it with your existing Skylanders or how to purchase it as a first time player. There was very little customer confusion. I entered Toys R Us knowing little more than the 3 IPs they were launching (Pirates, Incredibles and Monsters U). I wasn't sure how the "portal" worked or why it had 2 distinct shapes for placing items. I certainly had no clue what the Power Discs were for.

Disney Infinity release day display at Toys R Us The Video Game area had been moved around to dedicate one wall of an aisle to Disney Infinity games and accessories. All the console releases were on the bottom shelf with the figures surrounding the in-store video display. The shelves were stocked and the rep in the gaming department said 2 other people had been here for DI.

This was not a big showing for launch day! When Skylanders Giants launched, they were constantly restocking the shelves during the short time I was in the store. Today's scene was way too quiet. the staff admitted that only 2 other people had come in for Disney Infinity.

Disney Infinity release day display at Toys R Us

Disney Skylanders ??

When I called Toys R Us this morning, I was told they were opening two hours early for the Skylanders release. She paused and corrected herself, saying it was the Disney Infinity release day. So, even the employees were having trouble distinguishing these 2 action figure video games. However, I don't feel there is much to compare between the 2. Granted they both use a remote base to introduce characters into the game play, but the similarities end there.

Disney Infinity is a ONE player game. Play is split between IP specific playsets (Cars, Incredibles, etc) and the Toybox which is more of a free-for-all involving all the characters you've purchased. The hexagonal shape on the remote Base is used to select a specific playset where you may only use characters from that world. When playing the Incredibles playset you must use Mr. or Mrs. Incredible, Dash, Violet or Syndrome.

Removing the hexagonal charm presents the option of going to the ToyBox. In the Toybox mode, you can place figures on both spaces and two can play together - in split-screen mode.

Skylanders employed a good deal of logic and strategy in selecting which character to place on the portal and switching them frequently added to the fun and strategy of the games. Disney Infinity gives little reason to ever change characters unless you're bored in the Toybox mode. Where Skylanders is beautiful and unique, Disney Infinity is somewhat bland and familiar. Even simple things like option screens and transitions are much weaker in Disney Infinity. Skylanders gives you a vested interest in the characters, whereas Disney Infinity offers characters you may like from their various films.

My son and I have had a great time with Disney Infinity, but I don't feel it has the replay value to rival Skylanders. Giants added a really unique aspect to the Skylanders experience. Disney Infinity seems weak compared to the first Skylanders game. With yet another innovation coming this Fall, Skylanders Swap-Force seems poised to be the must-have video gaming gift of the Christmas Season. As much as I'd love to see Nightmare Before Christmas and Star Wars characters in Infinity, I don't think these iconic characters will make me enjoy Infinity more than the Skylanders IPs.
August 14, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Join in the NeoGeo X All-Star Brawl to determine the fan-favorite character

Get ready to BRAWL NEOGEO X style Via the NeoGeo X Facebook Page! 20 of the Greatest Fighters in NGX history have assembled in one place - YOU will decide the winner! Your votes determine the winner in each matchup. Each vote is your entry to a drawing for a NEOGEO X prizes. Grand Prize is a NEOGEO X Gold System with A Mega Pack Vol. 1 and NEOGEO X Arcade Stick!

NeoGeo X All-Star Brawl
August 10, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Summer vacation - part 2 We're taking a few weeks off to play!

There's nothing better than becoming Player 2 when my son comes to visit. We're taking some time off to have fun from dawn to dusk and much of the remaining time. Updates here will be sparse, but we promise to return with our customary lust for retro gaming.

See you in September!

August 9, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Every Day is Play - A book project to celebrate video games, by Matthew Kenyon

Every Day is Play - A book project to celebrate the game I'll admit that "Print" is in decline, but for those who claim it's dead... they need to be exposed to the amazing stories and incredible art that come alive when bound as a book. Every Day is Play is a collaborative project by Matthew Kenyon who is curating video game tales and artwork into a book that celebrates the imagination of video games through art.

He founded Game Paused in 2005 to be an active promotor of Video Game Culture, combining games and art through various projects, products and platforms. It will showcase the works of designers, musicians, artists, writers and developers that have taken inspiration from the art that we grew up with. Through articles & interviews, covering everything from fan art to game modifications, this book will not only be a beautiful book but a wealth of creative play.

In an effort to self-publish "Every Day is Play", Kenyon decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the effort. This looks to be an elegant coffee-table style book showcasing video games through art inspired by the games we've grown up with. Check out the Kickstarter and official website for more information. This is the sort of project that really should be funded/created/enjoyed

Game Paused
August 8, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Video Game High School can't provide a diploma, but it's entertainment value has a solid GPA

Video Game High School VGHS logo As part of his Women In Gaming series, Patrick Scott Patterson interviewed Johanna Braddy about her role on Video Game High School - aka VGHS. This web series takes place in the near future where video gaming is the world's most popular competitive sport. Video Game High School (VGHS) is an elite school offering a curriculum of video game tactics and strategies. Graduates seek the big money of competitive gaming.

Episodes of Video Game High School can be seen on Rocket Jump's website. Currently in Season 2, VGHS began with a Kickstarter campaign that asked for $75K and wound up raising over $270K. They met Kickstarter funding goals in about 24 hours.

VGHS is an action comedy web show that cleverly cuts back & forth between in-game live action and the kids gaming at their keyboards, who play the same characters we see in-game.

All the games are fictional. The first episode of season 1 shows a game similar to many FPS like Call of Duty. It's very well done and throws in some over-the-top oddities that will bring a smile.
Johanna Braddy from Video Game High School VGHS
Video Game High School was co-created by Freddie Wong, Will Campos, Brian Firenzi and Matt Arnold. In addition to acting as showrunner, Matt is also a writer, along with Will Campos and Brian Firenzi (founder of Jenny Matrix is played by Johanna Braddy and her real-life husband, Josh Blaylock, plays Brian D.

According to the team, VGHS Season 1 cost $636,010 to create. That may seem like a lot of money, but VGHS was a six-month project with a cast & crew of over 160 people. With over 600 visual effects shots, from numerous locations, and a significant portion of the final product being high production value action scenes - the cost is relative.

If you've seen Level Up on Cartoon Network, VGHS is natural replacement. The Level Up characters find a portal into the video games themselves, while VGHS focuses more on gaming and the gamers. The characters are portrayed both in-game and as themselves simply to link the gaming and real world kids. We think it's worth checking out! You can see it on Rocket Jump and YouTube. Season 2 is unfolding online - give it a try!
August 7, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Shark Week leaves education 20,000 Leagues behind, with retro gaming in it's wake

We're midway through Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week and there's a great look at Jaws-inspired arcade games compiled by Patrick Scott Patterson on his website. Some of these unique cabinet designs show the value of a real arcade cabinet versus playing via MAME. Check out PSP's page for some interesting facts on these cool arcade cabinets.

Jaws meets Hostess Tinkies Discovery Channel's shark-centric programming has been a week-long affair since 1987. Each year a frenzy erupts around the wide variety of Shark Week shows featured all week long. Researcher's understanding of sharks grows each year, but sharks themselves are pretty much the same. Even Darwin wouldn't expect much change over a mere 2+ decades ;)

This year, amidst the flurry of excitement is the fact that the hype-factor has been cranked to 11. Megalodon? I'm surprised that episode didn't have a Yeti erupt from the Megalodon's mouth and jump on stage for a seaside Surf Punks reunion!

The issue I have with this year's programming is that the educational value of Shark Week seems to have been replaced with sensationalism. Sharks are damn cool and researchers are learning a lot more about them. Sure, the man-eating aspect makes them exciting, but hype seems to be the driving force. Reality has taken a backseat... as it has in shows dubbed "Reality TV".

Shark Attack arcade game Shark Attack arcade game by Pacific Novelty (1981). A cassette tape loop was activated to provide more realistic screams when the shark attacked. Try getting that on an extracted ROM :)
Maneater arcade game Maneater arcade game by Project Support Engineering (1975). Coolest arcade cab design ever!!

I have to confess to buying Jaws for the Wii not long ago, simply out of passion for the Benchley book that scared the crap out of me one Summer. And, of course the Spielberg flick!
August 6, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

SNK's Metal Slug X on iOS is a leap forward in my acceptance of mobile games

Regrettably, I didn't discover Metal Slug during the mid-90s arcade scene. I didn't enjoy the numerous follow-ups to it either among those flashing marquees and enticing attract modes. It wasn't until the NeoGeo X came to the home market, containing the original Metal Slug that I discovered the joy of this run & gun marvel.

Metal Slug X screenshot After the first few plays, I was on the web ordering the Metal Slug Anthology containing 7 versions of the game including:
Metal Slug
Metal Slug 2
Metal Slug X
Metal Slug 3
Metal Slug 4
Metal Slug 5
Metal Slug 6

I was hooked on this over-the-top game that takes absurdity to bold new levels of fun.

One thing I'm not hooked on is mobile gaming. There are some games I enjoy on my Android phone, but there are several aspects of it that have never really appealed to me. These feelings stem mainly from my separation of gaming and computers. I've always been a console gamer and never liked computer-based games. PC games seemed very different to me from those on consoles, so I've always looked at my computer as a business tool, not a gaming platform. To demonstrate my hypocrisy, I have no issues with playing ROMs on my computer.

I'm happy to admit that my disdain for mobile gaming comes from a few odd standards in my head, Mobile games just don't excite me the way a console game does, therefore I seem to place them in a separate category. I know this is an oddity in my head because the idea of Vectrex Regeneration, Atari's Greatest Hits and Metal Slug - all on mobile platforms - make me want to get into mobile gaming.

Turkey Chase from Happy Badgers Studio I'll admit to enjoying a round of Stupid Zombies or Angry Birds and I think Bad Piggies is wonderfully creative and thought provoking, but I love games from my era. I'm not an "old guy" who hates anything new, but when mobile games reflect my 8-bit lust, I tend to want to explore them. Fruit Ninja? Um... no.

The first game to begin enticing me toward mobile gaming was Turkey Chase from Happy Badgers Studio. It's a simple game, but it's new, original, and heavily steeped in 8-bit appeal. As I mentioned, other perennial favorites, from the golden age of arcades, are making their way to mobile platforms and piquing my interest in finger-swipes in place of a controller.

My utter elation with Metal Slug has made me look at Metal Slug X on mobile. All I can conclude is that my interest in mobile gaming rises as I find retro gaming styles appearing on mobile. I'm a retro gamer and I guess my interest in new gaming technology will always rise when it embraces 8 bit styles.
August 5, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

How smart is a Smart TV when it lets strangers access it's camera? Keep your CRT

CRT Television Retro gamers are not likely to be swept up by the growing Smart TV market - we prefer CRTs (cathode ray tube) that display classic games the way we enjoyed them as kids. Plasma and LCD don't have the same punch as a gun firing electrons against glass. Now THAT's gaming!

But as far at watching movies and shows on television, you might be inclined to look into the features of a Smart TV. I'm not convinced I need apps on my TV, but manufacturers seem to think my computer is too far away.

Technology is an odd thing. Sometimes new products come to market, not to solve a problem, but simply because they can. The Labradoodle is an excellent example of this. Labrador Retrievers are beautiful animals - Poodles... not so much. So what is gained by merging them other than "because we can"?

Smart phones are a nice melding of cellular phone with computer capability. The addition of computer-like capabilities to the portability & connectivity of a cell phone is awesome! The benefit allows people to be connected in important ways that was only possible by taking your laptop along with a cell phone. Merging these 2 technologies bundles their respective capabilities into one very portable device. The one downside is the hidden fees making smart phones cost nearly a thousand dollars over the life of the device.

When cameras first appeared in the upper bezel of laptops, the utility of Skype and YouTube increased greatly. The initial quality was terrible, but higher quality cameras soon became standard on laptops as well as smart phones. No one thought about security. We all assumed that WE were in control of all this technology. Not so. Hackers quickly realized they could remotely control that tiny innocent camera nestled in your computer. Has anything changed with the advent of cameras in new Smart TVs?

Smart TV showing apps

Are Smart TVs Smart?

The advent of the Smart TV market seems counter to anything smart. Adding a browser, social media and Skype apps to a TV set don't seem like a natural fit the way they were on smart phones. Adding these features to the dashboard of a car seems even dimmer, but that has happened too. Will someone be able to avoid vehicular manslaughter by claiming he was simply updating his Facebook status at 60MPH?

I can't find any value in adding apps to the TV other than catering to shows and advertisers who like to douse the screen with hashtags in the hopes you'll post wonderful things about the show or product. This can easily be done on other devices without taking up screen space during the show you're watching... as if those animated promos on the botom of the screen weren't taking up too much viewing area!

But lets get back to those hackers who could remotely turn on our laptop's camera and watch YOU. Guess What? They can do the same thing with your Smart TV's camera. Mashable's article on the Smart TV hack is as enlightening as it is frightening. The news media was treated to a live demo of the Smart TV camera hack at the Black Hat Briefing in Las Vegas, NV.

So, as much uproar as we heard about the Microsoft Kinect camera falling victim to hackers (long after it happened to laptop cameras), folks seem content to buy Smart TVs and let the technically crafty watch them watch television. Small price to pay for the ability to update your Facebook status while watching network drivel. If televised entertainment is so lax that we can surf the web on the same screen, maybe we need to evaluate how we spend our time.

No one ever stopped to Tweet during a co-op game of Joust or while blasting their way through R-Type. Spend your time carefully - it's the most valuable thing you have... besides your 84" LCD TV.
August 4, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

There are 2 solutions for bad video games. One is to celebrate Review A Bad Game Day...

This is the other!

Revieww A Bad Game Day ribbon RABGD

Sometimes a video game is so bad it's good. Other times... it's just bad.
So, What are you to do about it?

Swing by the Review A Bad Game Day website and contribute a review of your favorite (or most hated) bad video game!
August 4, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

New ESRB ratings icons? It must be time to play Boggle - The ESRB Edition

While quickly sifting through a bin of games at GameStop, exciting cover-art takes on a new meaning when you see that big ESRB "M" in the corner. Little cues like this can give better context to an unfamiliar title. Suddenly, a seemingly innocent My Little Pony game - when given a 2nd look - might be more akin to Raging Horse From Hell. Thanks ESRB! I'll take the death-horse game, please.

As much as I feel there are gaping holes in this ratings system (much like the gaps in MPAA movie ratings) these ESRB icons do give you a sense of the type of game you're considering and how appropriate it is for those seeking to play it.

Updated ESRB icons These new icons from the ESRB are designed to be more legible online for the wider array of mobile devices with internet capability.

It's odd that the large bold letters, that are most visible, are the same size as before and the tiny descriptive text is only nominally larger and on a white background.

ESRB Boggle Edition

After choosing some age-appropriate games... lets play Boggle - the ESRB Edition!

ESRB Boggle I'm sure I've missed a few letter combinations, but Boggle is epically more fun than Scrabble. So, head out to your local toy store and snatch up Boggle. It's a great game that's fast and fun!

You can even pick up 2 or more copies and put the boards together for even more combos. Afterward, I suggest a rousing game of Joust!

ESRB Boggle words
August 3, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

As cosplay becomes a 1040-eligible gig, the entrants come from more diverse backgrounds

Every year when I file my taxes (the dreaded 1040 form) I always wonder about the "Job Title" field. Does it matter? Can I write in Aquatic Ballerina or Rodeo Clown? I always fill it out honestly since I'd rather not draw any unnecessary attention from the IRS. However, there are some new jobs cropping up that the average IRS agent may not have seen on these yearly forms. Cosplayer, for example!

Cosplay has become a job worthy of Federal Tax withholding Walking the aisles at comic cons and working the booths at trade shows, cosplayers are coming into their own. Their dedication and knowledge of the characters they portray (and the IPs they are a part of) is very enticing to attendees and vendors/sponsors. The former trade show staple, bikini-clad booth-babes, are falling in popularity at trade shows in favor of fan-girls who are devoted to the character they portray. Don't fret if you're a fan of booth-babes... wet t-shirt contests will never go out of favor.

Cosplayers often costume themselves as their favorite comic book, anime or video game characters. These brave souls can appear in a simple home-made outfit while others don elaborate costumes that you might expect to see fabricated in a Hollywood design lab. These more adventurous costumes are also homemade, but have elevated cosplay to being a career opportunity.

Part of this transformation from dress-up to professional cosplayer comes from the folks (primarily women) who are passionate enough about a character to become the character. From all walks of life, cosplayers are doctors, lawyers, students, accountants, etc... Their devotion is what makes the critical difference.

Part of their growing popularity (and replacement for booth-babes) is that cosplayers offer visual-appeal while also being industry savvy. That is to say, a cosplayer working at the Marvel or DC booth at a comic con also provides a wealth of knowledge about those comic IPs. They not only look representative of the company - they are also knowledgeable about it. I've been to plenty of computer trade shows and not once has a woman in a bikini offered me a compelling reason to make a purchase.

A New Breed Enter the Cons

Tanya Tate at San Diego Comic Con 2013 - SDCC I've attended lots of computer trade shows and a few comic cons. The cons always bring out a fun element from the on-floor insanity of the event itself to the roster of Playmates and women from the more hardcore segment of the adult industry - porn stars. Playmate Pam Horton has been making the rounds at cons as she tries to get into the gaming industry as an artist. Porn star Tanya Tate has done the same, but she's become a cosplayer. She appeared at SDCC '13 as Cathy Lee Crosby - Wonder Woman.

Tanya Tate at San Diego Comic Con 2013 - SDCC Tanya Tate Reviews Not long after I discovered Tanya Tate's cosplay website where she has pics of her cosplaying and comic and game reviews and interviews. She's actually been doing cosplay for 2 years.

When a porn star, like Tanya, branches out and gets into cosplay it makes me realize that this art form isn't just a grass roots sort of explosion. People with existing careers are getting into cosplay as a second career! It's a lot more than dress-up, eh?

It should be interesting to see how cosplay widens as a career path with it's gaining popularity and all sorts of interesting people getting involved. From porn stars to students, cosplay is getting a major injection of new faces that can elevate it from fandom to a requisite 1040 form!.

Cosplay is a great form of promotion from the standpoint of a tech or entertainment company. The days of the booth-babe are numbered - "smart" is the new "sexy". Of course being a babe is one of the facets of being a porn star. It's an odd world we live in.
August 2, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Vectrex 3D Imager -vs- Oculus Rift. The 3D battle is on, Baby!

The Vectrex 3d Imager from 1984 We've read good things about Oculus Rift including an endorsement from Miss October 2012, Pam Horton (semi-NSFW). So, we're confident this device is pretty kick-ass, but it didn't come out of left field - 3D has quite a history in gaming.

We hear many Nintendo 3DS owners turn off the 3D feature and there are still those who insist the Virtual Boy made them vomit. Then there was Sega, who had to pull ads in the late 80s, claiming their SegaScope 3-D Glasses were the first 3D accessory for home gaming. but history will show that Vectrex beat Sega to retail by about 4 years!

The Vectrex 3D Imager came out in early 1984 as a 3D accessory for the Vectrex video game console. This goggle-like headset provided color 3D via a Color Wheel that shipped with each the compatible games. The color wheel was put into the Imager prior to plugging the device into the vacant controller port.

The 3D effect was simulated by spinning the translucent Color Wheel in front of the player's eyes. Half of the Color Wheel was black, the other had colored bands radiating from the center. The image was drawn twice on-screen with a slight shift to give the appearance of depth.

Only 3 3D Imager compatible games were officially released for the Vectrex: 3D Minestorm (bundled with the unit), 3D Narrow Escape and 3D Crazy Coaster. Despite the limited release, the homebrew community delivered 2 un-official games: 3D Sector-X (2010) using the 3D Mine Storm color wheel and 3D Lord of the Robots (2006). Both games were released by Fury Unlimited.

Vectrex - Distributed by General Consumer Electric (GCE) & later by Milton Bradley

The Vectrex video game console There are 2 kinds of Vectrex fans - those lucky enough to have played one and those lucky enough to own one! Arriving on the cusp of the video game crash of the 80s, the Vectrex was a surprisingly robust console, featuring a built in vector-based screen. Each game came with custom overlays to provide both color and static images that were difficult to display via the vector-based graphics.

At the time many popular arcade games were being designed for release on a wide array of home gaming consoles. Considering the short retail life span of the Vectrex, there were a lot of arcade ports released for it.

If you don't own a Vectrex, you can experience the games via ROMs but these obviously lack the overlays that often provided a lot of graphic detail to a game. For a more realistic view of these games, check out Vectrex Regeneration for iPhone & iPad.
August 1, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Ouya's search design is reminiscent of WiiWare & Virtual Console

Google is a useful tool for avoiding the overwhelmingly massive amount of stuff the internet has to offer - all at once. Their ability to wade through internet crap is highly regarded by many people as evidenced by Google being both a company name and a verb. No one says they're going to "Keebler" themselves to indicate a desire for a cookie.

For me, Nintendo's Wii was the first console I owned that allowed me to try independent titles outside those shiny discs lining the walls of GameStop. When I wanted a new thrill, I could jump onto WiiWare or Virtual Console and download something brand new or an old arcade favorite. I still love 2 Fast 4 Gnomz by QubicGames! The problem was always FINDING games.

Nintendo's online game search menu

Nintendo's Online Store

Nintendo's online store, accessible for me via the Wii console, contained a lot of great games - both new ones on WiiWare and old favorites via the Virtual Console. Nintendo's keyword search was dreadful and sifting through multiple screens (5 games per screen) was slow and robbed me of my will to live.

I relied on reviews on the web of Nintendo's online offerings. I always turned to the WiiWare page in each issue of Nintendo Power to see what they recommenced. Overall, finding games was the main challenge due to the limited features and slow speed of Nintendo's online store.

Just to see if Virtual Console had Q*Bert was an effort in frustration. Did you need to use the asterisk? Could it be omitted? Should I use an underscore instead? There was no sign of interpretation - if you typed it wrong, you got no results nor indication why. All of these options involved too much time and pointing the Wiimote at the on-screen keyboard. Frustration often set in long before a good game could be found.

Ouya's main menu

Ouya's Online Store

I had high hopes that Ouya would innovate search in the same way they seemed to be innovating the mobile game experience. However, they appear to have replicate much of the former Nintendo Store's model. The same drill-down scenario exists and search seems limited to exact-matches with game titles. I can't type in "Galaga" to find similar vertical space shooters.

Thus there appears to be no keyword search options. The saving grace to this scenario is that all games have a free component, so IF I can find something interesting, I can try it before purchasing it.

Again I find myself on the web seeking Ouya titles and then searching directly for them on the Ouya. I was a Kickstarter backer and got an early release, but I find that I'm not becoming more proficient at finding games. Short of using the primary "recommended" tiles, I'm not able to search in any intelligible way. The menu option for searching is labeled as "Discover" which really doesn't let me explore the available games in a meaningful way.

Ouya's game search menu As we've seen search results improve and become more sophisticated on the web, we begin to expect that standard in other "search" models. In particular, the ability for search engines and e-commerce sites to classify items as similar in a meaningful way to customers. This needs to be applied to the Ouya's search capabilities to offer more meaningful results than simply drilling-down.

I'd really like to see some sort of categorization that would allow me to view similar games in much narrower niche categories. I'm sure as the Ouya matures and customers are able to contribute manually & by way of back-end stats, the search will become more refined and beneficial for finding great content. I like my Ouya very much, but this mediocre search is the sort of thing that will keep the shining reviews from flowing (and the controller). It only takes a little bit of frustration for reviewers to throw their hands up dole out a poor review. That's a shame, because it's a pretty slick little cube!

An article on Kotaku stated that 73% of Ouya owners have yet to purchase a game. I wonder if the truly worthy titles are simply difficult to find. As helpful as the web is, the Ouya console should be the best source for finding games as it's really the POS for any developer publishing on Ouya.

The Ouya is a good way to play ROMs on your large TV

July 2013 Retro Gaming Articles:

July 31, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A small game library for NES' R.O.B. makes Robot Girl a sweet deal

In the mid 80s I nearly bought a robot (not R.O.B.) but opted for a Betamax instead. The robot I was considering was equal in price to VHS' rival, but in the end I concluded a robot's true utility would be short-lived and become an expensive novelty. The Betamax, on the other hand, was a great purchase even though Sony's foothold was quickly slipping. I already had a significant investment in recorded Beta tapes, so I wanted to snatch up another VCR before they were relegated to the Smithsonian and set behind red velvet ropes.

R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) is an NES accessory released in Japan as the Family Computer Robot. His Japanese release was in July 1985 and later released in North America in October 1985. Only two games were released as part of the "Robot Series" - Gyromite and Stack-Up. I don't know if the lack of games or lack of functionality caused R.O.B.'s demise, but he became quite collectable due to this short shelf life.

In all honesty, I didn't know anything about R.O.B. until years after his NA release. I was familiar with the Power Glove, but R.O.B. didn't seem to capture anywhere near the exposure.

The robot I was considering was close to 2 feet tall. R.O.B. was just under 10 inches tall, giving his appearance a toy-like classification - rather than a robot. Having seen George Jetson's Rosie the Robot doing chores and engaging in conversation, a 9.5" robot that lacked significant articulation and function wasn't too impressive... with only 2 compatible games. Some folks speculate that R.O.B. was designed to be a unique over-the-top accessory to assure retailers and customers that the video game crash hadn't killed innovation in video games.

R,O.B. the Robot for Nintendo NES R,O.B. the Robot for the Nintendo NES
Robot Girl by ~Simon93-ITA on DeviantArt Robot Girl by Simon93-ITA on DeviantArt.

Robot Girl may be a 2D work of art, but the folks at RealDoll (NSFW) will gladly ship a 3D version to your door for about $6,000.
July 30, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Moose Toys in Australia brings Trash Pack Rescue to the iPhone

Moose Toys' Trash Pack Rescue on iPhone When I first saw Moose Toys' Trash Packs in a Toys R Us catalog, I knew my son would love them. I knew this because I thought they were totally cool! They're small rubbery 1-inch tall figures that are gross looking and have disgusting names. Full-on guy stuff!

They began with a trash truck vehicle and a dumpster with a carnival-game theme. From there, they expanded on the "trash" theme and released several more series of sticky figures and trash-themed vehicles. A board game and Nintendo DS game ensued. Card games arrived capitalizing on the grossness mantra. Each new release is progressively more creative!

The Ultimate Fighting Trash Packs arrived with a Spin Bin that allows them to enter an arena and spin like tops - trying to eject the opponent from the ring. Taking on the wrestling metaphor - complete with a battle arena - with custom characters that held various weapons that would engage as

When we saw the Wheely series arrive, suddenly Hot Wheels cars took a backseat to these disgusting (in a good way) figures on wheels. Play sets arrived for the "Wheely" gross cars offering them a Gas 'N Go gas station, a fast food Burger Flip Out and a Junkyard. All the play sets can be connected allowing one to build a small town for the Wheely series.

The ingenuity behind Trash Packs astounds me. This toy line keeps growing and expanding with ever more creativity and options. Very few toys have this level of expansion and longevity. My son is wild about Trash Packs and eagerly awaits the next innovation. I have to admit, I too, am enjoying Moose Toys' gross little characters.

Moose Toys' Trash Pack Rescue on iPhone

Trash Pack Rescue for iPhone

Their website has Trash Pack webisodes and a few interactive games. The borders of the entire site turn your cursor into a fly swatter and tracks how many flys you smack. Expanding on the digital front has not brought Trash Packs to the iPhone as an app.

From the iTunes description of Trash Pack Rescue:
The Trash Pack have taken over the vehicles to rescue their friends. Its up to you to help collect all the Trashies from the streets, sewers, roads and tracks. Play through 6 awesome levels driving the Street Sweeper, Garbage Truck and Junk Truck. You can unlock and choose from any of the 16 Ultra Rare Trashies to drive the vehicles. Collect trash and coins to unlock more Ultra Rare Trashies and power-ups. Save all your Trash Pack friends to unlock more destinations.

Moose Toys has the retail formula down like I've never seen before. Each new release is tied to the core product but takes it to new innovative levels. They honed their ability to create highly collectable items with Mighty Beanz - which my son also liked. Keep your eye on Moose Toys - you never know what insanely awesome toy they'll deliver next.
July 29, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My NeoGeo X handheld experience from firmware failing to mail-in repair

Twitter is an amazing tool! We've heard of it's use in times of disaster where real-time reports of devastating weather or civil outbreaks have helped thousands of people. Through Twitter, those with access to the social network could be directed to shelters and assistance.

Tommo logo For me, the discovery of the upcoming NeoGeo X Gold Limited Edition handheld came via tweet. I jumped on the NeoGeo X website and quickly logged onto Amazon to place a pre-order. I didn't know a lot about SNK and even less about Tommo. But the beautiful tribute to the AES (Arcade Entertainment System) game console was a retro dream come true. An emulator can grant playtime to nearly all of retro gaming's past releases, but to have a handheld released with a docking station (for HDMI TV hook up) that replicated the AES was too good to pass up. And the replication spread to the arcade-style controller too!

NeoGeo X Gold Limited Edition ad As the Christmas delivery date neared, I checked Amazon daily to see if there was any sign of stock. On December 24, 2012 a large package arrived and Christmas revolved around the NeoGeo X and it's installation in my son's Game Fortress - his main Christmas present. We discovered the joy of Metal Slug and promptly bought Metal Slug Anthology for his Wii.

My son was 7 at the time and didn't know about the AES and what an amazing tribute the NeoGeo X is to that console and the games it could play. But as the menu-screen appeared on the TV and he cycled through the 20 built-in games... we were both hooked.

Of course the internet soon erupted with desires (in the form of vile complaints) for more games. Was the NeoGeo X a one-hit-wonder? Would new games be released? Before ushering in the New Year, the NeoGeo X was hacked and gamers were cheerfully loading ROMs onto it.

But new games were on the horizon - 20 of them due in late June 2013 in the form of a singel bundle, the MegaPack, or as 5 individual releases with three games per box. I knew there would be some games I didn't care for, but it seemed easier to get 'em all!

The timing was quite auspicious since my son wold be returning at that time for his Summer vacation with me. More NeoGeo X games seemed like a good addition to all the things we love to do together. I even decided to order a second arcade controller so we could play the 2-player versions.

NeoGeo X Classics game release
The boxes began to roll in from Amazon. I was super-impressed with the packaging of the MegaPack. Considering the games were all on one small SD card, the large foam-padded case provided a space for the manual, update adapter and a space to store the NeoGeo X handheld!

The problem came when I determined I did need to perform the firmware update. I was on V337 and the new games required V500. The process seemed simple enough, but it didn't do what was described in the directions. We let it sit - as if it would correctly perform the update if it had a bit more time.

Finally, it was evident that something was wrong. The update would not run as specified and the unit now locked up when connected to the Station. Dammit! I turned to the web and quickly found that some folks with Firmware V337 were unable to run the firmware updater. Worse still was that the solution involved sending the handheld, the MegaPack SD card and receipts for both back to Tommo in Pomona, Ca. Needless to say, I was pissed. Aside from the unit not working as described, it was to be another activity for my son and I.

We live in a disposable society - nothing is repairable. TV breaks... buy a new one. So, I wondered if sending it back to Tommo would result in a resolution of the issue. Following the instructions on their Facebook page, I reluctantly packaged it up and dropped it in a Fed Ex drop box. At their suggestion, I used the MegaPack case to protect the handheld during shipping.

How are SNK and Tommo Intertwined?

At this point I became far more interested in SNK and Tommo and just how the NeoGeo X came to be. We all know SNK from their arcade and AES home consolle days. I know that Tommo was a U.S. video games publisher who had licensed rights to several Japanese IPs. I dug around a bit and concluded that SNK Playmore had licensed the NeoGeo brand to Tommo to release the anniversary tribute to the AES and many of the beloved games.

SNK created many arcade games and consoles during the 80s and many more in the 90s. In the early 2000s, it seemed apparent that SNK had run it's course and Playmore was founded. Eventually the TWO were combined and became SNK Playmore.

RMA & Repair by Tommo

In about a week after sending it out, my NeoGeo X was returned and now works both in portable mode as well as when hooked up to the TV via the Station! Despite the inconvenience, I have to say that Tommo's customer service was very helpful, promptly responded to multiple e-mails and returned the unit fully functional. I can only hope that future updates will go smoother, but I'm looking forward to more of the SNK catalog being licensed for the NeoGeo X!

My NeoGeo X experience - return & repair for faulty firmware V337

July 28, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Fez's Phil Fish got fried, but leaves a useful lesson in etiquette

Fez character Fez is a puzzle/platformer game on Xbox Live and a few other platforms. It's garnered a lot of attention from the merits of the game as well as it's outspoken creator, Phil Fish of Polytron. Fez isn an interesting concept in that you play in a 2D world that really has a 3rd dimension that can be pivoted in 90° increments.

For me it's reminiscent of many retro gaming platformers with the slick addition of pivoting "around the corner". But Fez 2 is where it gets really interesting. You might be wondering what awesomeness awaits with the follow-up game. Keep waiting, it could be a while. After an angry online tirade, Fish alleged to have quit the game industry and a Fez 2 cancellation notice appeared on the Polytron website.

Phil Fish's final tweet Fish's final tweet (at right) was left as a final farewell... after he locked his Twitter account to casual view. Apparently a lot of people were sending him death threats, threats against his family and all sorts of awful wishes. Fish has been known to have controversial opinions, but the attack on him seemed motivated by stupidity.

People seem to think that online anonymity grants them license to say anything they want. Everyone has a gripe from time to time, but if you haven't seen it for yourself, you might be shocked at what some folks will tweet when a game release is delayed or a politician states an unpopular opinion. We can all agree to disagree, but these radicals are sending death threats, and an array of "I hope ______ happens to your family.

How Anonymous is Your Online Account?

If you think you can hide behind your online account, there's a test you can conduct if you really need to determine your level of anonymity.
I do NOT recommend doing this - ever!
You could send a death threat to the POTUS' twitter, facebook or any online account. Your level of anonymity is equal to the time it takes the Secret Service to knock on your door and arrest you. I'm guessing this takes about an hour or so. :)

The Golden Rule

In my youth there was a mantra for basic conduct - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". It seems self-explanatory, but in today's society this complexity may need a modern translation - "Don't be an asshole".

Through medical defect, there is a small segment of the population that are unaware they are being assholes, but the other 98% of us know absolutely when we cross over from "disagreement" to "being an asshole". And online communication seems to bring out the worst in people.

Being a part of the Retro Gaming community, I see a few online arguments, but genrally, most folks are civil when they disagree. Often disagreement can lead to new points of view or a new way of doing something. In other words, something productive comes from differences of opinion. This is a good thing as long as it stays "friendly" and we can agree to disagree or discover something new we hadn't considered.

The point at which death threats are sent because of someone's opinion, one has to wonder about the growth of our society and the type of person we each want to be. Being an asshole is almost always unnecessary and I can only hope that people understand that disagreement is a part of learning, but being an asshole teaches nothing.

Fez screenshot
July 27, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Should you marry a woman who can't beat Contra or is there a larger gaming question involved?

Wedding proposal modded into an NES Contra game There was a cute story on Kotaku about a guy who proposed to his girlfriend with a message embedded in the final screen of the NES game, Contra. She had to beat the game to view the custom screen he modded. This is similar to the guy who modded Donkey Kong so his daughter could play as Pauline.

Naturally, a ridiculous debate ensued as to whether she could actually beat the game, did she use the Konami Code and the punctuation of the modded message itself. It's odd that some people can't read a story like this and simply smile at the sentiment while admiring the skills needed to do such a thing. How many carts have YOU modded?

A similar "uproar" occurred around the Donkey Kong mod, but that discussion evolved into a more ethical and interesting debate. Most people thought he should be nominated as Father-of-the-year for his modding efforts for his daughter, but also questioned whether games should be altered via such mods.

Remember the outcry over Bioware's Mass Effect 3? Fans were so enraged by the game's ending, they started an online petition demanding that Bioware change it. I've always thought that you make such demands with your wallet. If you don't like a game, don't buy it. I suppose a game's ending may fall outside the "don't buy it" scenario as not everyone is aware of endings when they purchase a game. But a petition demanding the developer change the ending? What then - are you going to pay another $60 for the new version... or were you assuming it would be a free DLC?

Regardless of how you feel - it is becoming increasingly obvious that YOU can mod a game. You can't just hop into your favorite PS3 game and insert yourself as a character. There is a steep learning curve for many of us. But retro games offer a more reasonable scenario in which to mod a game to some degree.

In the Donkey Kong mod, he changed the mario sprite to display the moving appearance of Pauline. No longer did she await his rescue, she was racing up the girders with the mallet in-hand. Go Girl! The recent Contra mod primarily altered some text elements, but don't think this was a simple QWERTY assignment. Text displayed in-game isn't of the ascii variety. You can see some of the techniques on this Imgur account.

Do Software Mods Diminish the Original Game?

The larger question is how such software mods alter games from the golden age. I'm sure someone is dying to replace the ship in asteroids with a penis or change many of Nintendo's gleeful textual outbursts with, "Fuck Yeah!", but what does modding do to gaming classics?

I believe that software modding adds a new element to games we've come to love. Many programmers have improved Atari 2600 classics with better game-play and/or new elements via homebrew releases - some as ROMS others as packaged cartridges. A MS exec even made a playable version of Halo for the Atari 2600! There's an Atari 2600 Defender homebrew that retains the Defender look and feel, but allows it to play without flicker like Defender II (Stargate). My distinction is that it doesn't have an effect on the original.

These alterations simply offer a new viewpoint or improvement to an existing classic. In modern gaming, I'm not sure I'd like a DLC that made a permanent change to a game I loved. But with retro games, the original will always exist alongside any mods. One simply decides which version to play. I've heard many complaints that such mods alter the intent of the original or diminish it's glory. To those folks, I'd recommend they stick with the original they love.

Modding allows an expansion on what was possible or "dreamed of" during original development. I feel modern modding of classics simply shines new light on the original game. It affords a new option that didn't exist before. Nothing is written in stone - new things are flashed to an EPROM chip!

As for the Contra mod - he put it, "I hacked Contra because she's worth it.".
July 26, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

In a myriad of retro gaming shopping options, check out GameNTrade's video game trade model

Disclaimer: We have not used this particular online service. This article invites you to consider what GameNTrade has to offer, but makes no explicit endorsement.

catalog shopping used to involve mailing checks or money orders I remember the days when sending checks or money orders to catalog retailers was a perfectly normal form of shopping outside the brick & mortar scenario. These long-distance retailers gladly footed the bill to ship me glossy color catalogs as long as I kept purchasing.

Today, the US Postal system is in shambles primarily due to "sending a letter" being a primitive delivery format. OK, there's also been a fair amount of mismanagement within the USPS.

The internet has become the primary method of communication and delivery of all things digital - leaving the Post Office to dwindle. Of course this phenomenal boom in e-commerce results in boxes being shipped at a frantic rate, which may benefit the USPS to some degree. But, what's in all these boxes? Very often they are stuffed full of retro games! Maybe that's an exaggeration, but having a specific product dropped on your doorstep sounds a lot better than driving from store to store in search of a specific game.

What if that game you want is for an Atari 7800 or Nintendo NES? There are almost no options for this in brick & mortar retail. The internet connects consumers with the goods they crave - in our case... anything with an Atari logo.

Everyone knows that GameStop will gladly offer you a meager percentage for games you trade in and ruthless eBay thugs will take your payment with no intention of ever sending you anything. It's a cruel world we live in, eh? This in turn may account for some of the more creative online shopping sites. Some of them ask you pay fair market value while others offer the lure of insanely low prices based on a low-cost bidding system. Regardless, the model for online shopping is ever evolving.

Another Retail Model Melding Online & Brick & Mortar - GameNTrade

gameNtrade logo An important distinction to make in the gaming world is that buying is often the result of trading. People bring in old games or ones they are no longer interested in and trade them against the price of another game. This is a simple model in the brick & mortar world. Drive to the store and make the exchange. Online... well, the internet is more about authentication than physically handing something to a person.

Despite this, more businesses are springing up to "authenticate" these physical transactions - online. GameNTrade is one such company that lets you trade and sell your used video games online. You can buy from them like any online retailer, but they have the ability to let you send them your used games (among other techie items) and receive credit against your purchases or they will issue payment for your trade-in.

This model could easily kill GameStop's used game/trade-in program. Hopefully the trade-in value of a game to an internet company would be greater as they don't have the overhead of nationwide locations. Gamers seem quite unhappy with GameStop and will likely welcome a scenario that offers them a better value for the games they want to trade in.

gameNtrade process One of the hurdles for an online retail, like GameNTrade, is recognition. Almost every mall has a GameStop, so how does one get the word out about a website that can do many of the same things GameStop does? Happy customers and social media are a good start. Hopefully GameNTrade can prove themselves as a viable alternative to other trade-in scenarios and let their customers spread the word. We like the business model and think it has great potential against many of the others we've seen. We also noted they had a listings for Atari product going back to the 2600. That always wins us over :)

GameNTrade also has a charitable arm GameNTrade for a Cause through which they collect tech & game hardware to help raise funds and awareness for charitable organizations and causes.

Check out their website and give them a try. If you have a good experience, tell your friends. Word-of-mouth is till a powerful too even in the age of social media - post to soc nets too. Before you know it everyone will want to trade video games with GameNTrade!
July 25, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The GTIA chip enabled Atari computers to leap ahead of the 2600's TIA. Now GTIABlast! emerges

GTIABlast! is a game in progress that showcases the power of the Atari 400/800 computers. The demo video is displayed below showing what GTIABlast! is capable of - check it out!

Neither the simplistic Atari 2600 games nor the ROM hogs that used bank-switching to simulate additional memory are simple when it comes to optimizing a "good game" to play well with limited memory. I remember when upgrading computer memory shifted from megabytes to gigabytes. My 4MB Mac was a savior to my desire to tinker with computers. The notion of a computer running 4GB of RAM made me think I could design and launch a spaceship all by myself. 4 GIGS!?! Wow, that seemed like a lot to me!

Alas, I was not able to send a ship to Mars. The extent of this added memory simply provided better performance when streaming video or re-sorting an obscenely large Excel spreadsheet. How disappointing. What happened? Shouldn't a seemingly large jump in standard RAM do wonders for home computing? Nope - not really. The bottom line is that code tends to become sloppy and bloated when there seems to be endless available memory in which to run it. But that would take us to a different article.

I loved my Atari 2600 and the simplistic game-play of Asteroids and Space Invaders. It wasn't until decades later that I realized putting Asteroids into a 4K cartridge was nothing short of genius even though it seemed like a simple game. Part of technology's advancement came from miniaturization of parts and better ways to design them. This in turn lowers costs. At the advent of the Atari 2600, RAM was insanely expensive. From a financial perspective of bringing a product to market, console design focused on using as little RAM as possible.

The success of the 2600 came from the TIA chip (Television Interface Adaptor) which controlled the display, sound, and controller input. It was the center of the 2600's viability. The TIA's duties make it seem like a lifesaver for the 2600, but it was difficult to program despite the flexibility it offered in the mid 70's. Racing the Beam by Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost, will give you a good deal of insight into programming for the Atari 2600 and how the console's design (often the TIA) impacted aspects of it's most prominent games.

The GTIA chip found in Atari computers and the 5200 We know that the 5200 is ostensibly an Atari 800 computer hidden in a more consumer-oriented case and sold as a game console. Despite the 5200's poor reception among gamers, it's innards enabled the previously released 800 computers to do some pretty miraculous things!

The TIA chip, designed by Jay Miner, gave way to the GTIA (Graphic Television Interface Adaptor), among others, that was implanted into Atari Computers. This advancement enabled Atari computers (and the 5200 game console) to out-perform other technologies of it's era. This leads to an interesting point... We live in a disposable society in which new products brainwash us into believing that the former products are no longer viable or even 'good'. Even today, the Atari 800 is a capable device that can dazzle retro gamers with it's abilities.

GTIABlast! Dazzles Retro Gamers

GTIABlast! game screen shot GTIABlast! is a game in progress and the demo clearly shows that the Atari 800 is a more capable system than some may believe. As I understand it, the name is a tribute the the chip that can still do amazing things in 2013 as it did ago. Created by by Paul Lay and Harvey Kong Tin for the Atari 400/800 series of computers, it looks like the sort of game that will initiate more interest in the old Atari computers.

Check out the video below showing GTIABlast!'s ability. you can keep up with development on the GTIABlast! website as well as follow GTIABlast!'s on the Atari Age forum.

July 24, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Google can restrict Glassware content, but can't control Mikandi filming porn via Google Glass

Google is discovering that consumers often use technology for things it wasn't designed for as well as things they'd rather it not do. Just as game console mods allow playing out-of-region games as well as backup copies, some products are used for things the manufacturer would rather not publicize or allow.

Last month we wrote an article about an upcoming tech-savvy porn company, MiKandi and their attempt to publish Tits & Glass as the first porn-centric Google Glassware app. They thought they had followed all their terms & conditions outlined by Google, but didn't realize Google amended their porn-policy - due to the release of Tits& Glass - without any formal disclosure. In a respectable move by Mikandi, they altered their Glassware app to conform to the new restrictions.

Glassware apps are distributed/sold via a controlled environment, like iTunes or Nintendo's Virtual Console, but Google Glass as a device can be used at consumer's discretion. Just like any camera, you can film anything you want (for the most part). So, MiKandi has now released their first Google Glass POV porn flick (NSFW) in which the 2 participants each wear a pair of Google Glass-es and film each other going at it.

Personally, I love to see someone adopt a technology and find a creative use for it that may be outside it's intended use. Mikandi's spoof flick is pretty funny, but more importantly, it shows what Google Glass can do when you think outside the box. Just as the Go Pro cameras have brought amazing footage from the tip of skateboards, the hoods of race cars and the helmets of skydivers, Google Glass will do the same - and the adult industry beat everyone to the punch as usual.

play Stargate via Google Glass Many people don't realize how much the adult industry contributes to the success of new technology. From CD ROM and DVD to streaming video and e-commerce, it was the adult industry that first incorporated these technologies into their businesses. And the fact that many folks don't want to admit - the adult industry led the way in optimizing these technologies for their business models long before other businesses.

For retro gamers like us, we wouldn't shun the opportunity to watch some porn via Google Glass, but we really want to jack our Atari 2600 into it and look out over a scenic vista and play some Stargate. Maybe we can download a few ROMs in the background too. EMUs on Google Glass? We'll see :)

Google Glass provides an office manager all the distractions the web has to offer

Of course there will always be a contingent of nay-sayers who consider technology costly and disruptive. These people are often the ones who trend toward repetition until their businesses are leap-frogged by those who take risks and aren't afraid of change.

An office manager's view via Google Glass:

New technology will always succeed or fail on the creativity of it's customers. Products don't always meet expectations while others are adapted to solve problems no one even thought about. Innovation exists in both the manufacturer and consumer. When they meet - great things happen. Don't be afraid to think - the adult industry wasn't built on nudity alone. Technology is very cool if you have the ability to see past the obvious!
July 23, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Handheld electronic games from the 80s get a new lease on life online

I remember when kids began brining Mattel handheld games to school. Mattel Electronics Football is the one I recall best. Kids would huddle over it and race down the field as red dots flashed along the screen.

Mattell Electronics Football handheld game I didn't know too much about football and the lights flashing around the screen didn't seem to mimic the game I'd occasionally seen on TV. Still the excitement around these games fascinated me and I had to be a part of it even though I didn't really get it. It wasn't long before Atari brought out the 2600, but it would still be years before Atari invaded my parent's living room.

Once cartridge-based game consoles became prevalent, I lost interest in the primitive handheld games, like the many Mattel Electronics ones and Merlin The Electronic Wizard - one of the few handhelds I owned. However, I did occasionally see the more sophisticated ones at school, in the 80s.

Having now aged well past those distant grade-school memories, and become a retro collector, suddenly those old electronic handhelds have a new interest to me. I still have my original Merlin, yet I've managed to hold the urge to expand my collection of handhelds in check.

Then I found Hipopotam's Digitalised Collection of Handheld Electronic Games (thanks to @RetroGamesColl). Wow! Great pics and all the games are playable online in the same visual format of the games I vaguely recalled. You can't hold the game in-hand, but the visuals are richly recreated in Flash. For those who don't own any of these games, this site offers a unique experience with them.

Below are a few examples:
Aerogun Field game by Tronica 1987, Sub Attack game and Octopusgame by Nintendo Game & Watch 1981.

Aerogun Field game by Tronica 1987 Sub Attack game Octopus, Nintendo Game & Watch 1981

The site features 26 handheld games from various manufacturers including Nintendo, Tronica and Tiger. All are playable as flash modules that retain the visual look of the original games. this is a great site for retro info as well as game play!
July 22, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Facebook is aggressively taking "social" out of social media

The downfall of Myspace seemed quickly filled by Facebook while Twitter chugged along besting both of them. TV and print ads that were once festooned with Myspace logos, urging consumers to tag along, were now similarly plastered with Twitter & Facebook logos.

I never liked Facebook. All the screens looked identical regardless of function and the secret algorithms seemed aimed at NOT displaying the information they had available. These days you can pay to "boost" your post or your account. What this really means is Facebook will restrict your info less. WTF!

broken logo Look at the accounts you know you're following on their individual Facebook landing pages and then look at the feed on your page. Missing a lot of posts aren't you? Facebook's algorithms deem which posts are important and hides those that are not. Pardon me, but I can better determine what is important to ME!

There are a lot of retro gaming accounts on FB that provide good info and pictures. Very often I share such info on our FB page, but there are times when I want to pin an image to Pinterest or send an interesting topic to Twitter. This is where FB fails - they are very restrictive outside the FB website. I understand they want to "retain" users within their system, but that should be balanced with the ability to share great info.

Facebook, in my opinion, is becoming more of a closed system. They want to retain their user's content and restrict it to other FB users as well as deny it to other social networks. Most social media sites are about sharing info across the web - not just within their own site. FB doesn't allow direct sharing with Pinterest. It's still possible, but not in a smooth or open manner. The purchase of Instagram has resulted in the same exclusion of image sharing from Instagram accounts.

After suffering through a few years of feeling as though we had to have a FB presence, out comes the mobile app - with no ad revenue model. A recent update to the app has removed the ability to share FB or Instagram content on Pinterest.

Facebook's narrowing of functionality and utility has caused me to use is far less than ever. As a result I'm finding Twitter to be a much more useful tool and allows me to choose what content I view and doesn't impair my ability to share great content. Social media is about sharing information, not driving up the price of stock shares. For those who have success with Facebook, that's great, but I think their model is contrary to what a social media site should be and the free flowing of information to anyone interested in it. Facebook is the Wal Mart of social media and Twitter is the indie shop that listens and understands the medium and their users.
July 21, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Always check for scratches on used game discs before leaving the store

When I buy used video games at Newbury Comics I don't worry about missing manuals or defective discs. Every used game (CDs and DVDs too!) are in pristine condition. They don't accept any trade-ins if the media shows any damage.

scratched video game disc GameStop has a fairly liberal return policy on used games which is a good thing. I buy a lot of used games since, in my opinion, $60 is way to much to pay for a game I might not like. but buying used games isn't always the bargain it appears to be.

I'd estimate that 60% of the games I buy have visual scratches - not the faint little ones that rarely have an impact of functionality. I often find deep scratches that make me question if the disc will even work. On many occasions these discs have failed on launch or at some point during game play.

On a recent trip to GameStop I decided to buy a fairly expensive used game since my son was really anxious to play it. The copy I bought looked horrible - full of scratches - so I took it back to the register and asked if they had another copy.

I waited as the clerk looked in the drawers for another copy. I was worried that this may have been the only copy. I was momentarily relieved when I could see he was pulling multiple copies from the drawer. My optimism faded as he removed discs from the sleeves and put them back. He did this several times - 6 to be exact. He turned to me and told me that the copy he sold me was in better condition than any of the other 6 copies!

I never leave GameStop without a scratch-check. Sure, I can return damaged copies, but that requires a trip back to the store where I'm likely to buy another game... possibly with scratches/
July 20, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Could simply strolling past a GameStop leak info of your gaming habits?

Who doesn't want a cookie? I love a nice fat chocolate chip cookie! I might even pour a tall glass of milk to go with it. On my computer... I'm not so much a fan of those cookies. But the term 'cookie' offers a false sense of what it means to accept a cookie on your computer.

Plain and simple, it's a tracking device. When you accept a cookie from a website, you don't really know explicitly what will be tracked and what it will be used for. Privacy advocates are always on the prowl for abuses of such technology. Paranoid, you ask? Not really considering what could be inferred as a cookie "watches" your internet session.
Smartphone cookies
But what if the same thing happened on a trip to the mall? From free wifi to GPS a hacker could garner a lot of info about you simply by following the digital footprint of your smartphone. What if this hacker wasn't a devious person in a black hat, but a marketing team from a retail store?

That free wifi at the mall is awfully convenient, but what if it served a larger purpose or could be used in conjunction with other technology to track your trip through the mall? Even if you don't connect to the free wifi, it can still detect and through software track your path as you walk around. The mall could possibly charge it's tenants for shopper's paths through the mall. In my case they'd see me go from GameStop to Newbury Comics and then out the door :)

Companies like RetailNext, a leader in Applied Big Data for brick-and-mortar retail, enable retailers and manufacturers to collect, analyze, and visualize in-store data. From counting the number of customers who pass by versus those who enter to gathering data about how long you stopped to look at a product before you bought it - this type of analysis is making it's way into stores.

Such technologies tout increased sales and theft reduction, but the methods used for seemingly good purposes can also be quite invasive to shoppers. I you install a retailer's app on your phone or offer any personal info while connected to their wifi - you, as an individual person, are linked to their system which allows them to track every visit and compare all your habits.

How this might work in a gaming retail store

Let's use GameStop as an example, although I doubt their sales of used iPads would support such an endeavor. Sales stats can be quite revealing, but being able to link that to a shopper's behavior in the store can reveal much more. In my opinion all this data when linked to retail sales strategies seems like a lot of guess-work.

In theory, if you linger for 5 minutes at the PS3 game rack and then leave the store sends a different message than a customer who looks for 1 minute and then brings 3 games to the register. Folks like me are more likely to spend a few minutes at the Wii and PS3 used-game sections and then leave in favor of Mad Mikes Retro Game Mart (totally made-up) a few doors down.

GameStop might use such technology to see if a better window display attracts more visitors. That seems useful to them and harmless, but the outcry is about the possible uses. In-store cameras have become more sophisticated to the point at which they can capture facial expressions and determine your mood (as well as gender and approximate age). Some of these technology snooping packages purport being capable of generating a "Happiness Quotient". For example they would see me frowning at the egregious cost of new PS3 games while they wonder why I laughed when I walked past the Xbox games (don't own an Xbox & never will).

Privacy Uproar

Today's tolerance of snooping, prying and invasive behavior is at an all time low due to recent child safety issues and the NSA data collection efforts. As a guy who occasionally finds the mall a convenient destination, I'm not too worried about this technology in general. However, if I were approached by store security because their software indicates I've lingered near an area from which merchandise was stolen or I can't get help because they know I don't spend much money at their store - then I might begin to wonder how well this technology can draw valid conclusions. Yeah I know - no once cares until it happens to them- lol.

Don't forget that digital information tends to exist much longer than one might think. This applies to data collected (stolen) from your smartphone via a tech snooping app or photos you deleted from Facebook. This content will live on for many years.
July 19, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Who wants to play video games? An Adventure Time app staring BMO

We thoroughly enjoyed Cartoon Network's Video Game theme last week across Adventure Time and Regular Show! Who wouldn't want a game console like BMO?!?

Gaming with BMO won't be quite as interactive as Finn makes it seem, but There's a new iphone and iPad app mentioned by Destructiod - Beemo - Adventure Time. You can play Adventure Time games with Beemo in a football punting competition (more games to be added), incorporate Adventure Time stickers into your photos and listen to sound bites from your favorite Adventure Time characters.

Check out Beemo - Adventure Time on iTunes.

BMO from Adventure Time (above photo is not from the Adventure Time app)

Adventure Time logo
July 18, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It took Twitter to really enlighten me to the global nature of retro gaming

Part of my childhood occurred before video game consoles came into living rooms. Another part occurred before I had a video game console in my living room. OK, technically it was my parent's living room. None the less, the addition of an Atari 2600 changed the way I regarded the television, much the same way it again changed when I could see Martha Quinn play videos on Mtv. The TV had become more interesting and less passive. I was astounded to discover the dumb box I sat in front of was suddenly interactive!

Earth surrounded by game controllers Despite this widening of my horizons, my gaming was relegated to local school friends and solo play. I didn't appreciate the notion that there was a kid on the opposite side of the globe who loved Missile Command and Demon Attack as much as I did.

I was aware of NTSC vs PAL and that the TurboGrafX-16 was released as the PC Engine in other regions as was the Genesis vs Mega Drive. Why had it never dawned on me that there were other kids like me playing these consoles?

I don't live in a cave, but as a concept, "thinking globally" hadn't permeated my brain, regarding video games, until the advent of the internet which gave me the opportunity to find more information about gaming and gamers.

It really wasn't until social media came on the scene (yeah, that recently) that I fully wrapped my head around the diversity of retro gamers around the globe. Twitter, in particular, delivers a one-on-one experience for retro gamers to which anyone can "listen-in". Through Twitter I've "met" folks who are far more diehard about gaming than I am. Wow!

Social media touts the "social" aspect of this genre of technologies, but Twitter is the one that delivers a feeling of connection. It gives me the feeling of "talking" to a person, rather than a PR or marketing entourage. I've encountered amazing gamers from Australia, the UK, Germany, South America, the outer reaches of Canada and beyond. I've also discovered some of the people I respect greatly live very close to me. It's a global community that feels much closer.

So, just as I wrap my head around the global aspect of retro gaming, I begin to feel as though all these awesome people are much closer than geography suggests.

Nothing beats having the crew over for a night of retro gaming and pizza. I wish I could sit down with a joystick and share a slice with some of Twitter's retro gaming community. Alas... it is indeed a big planet.
July 17, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cosplay gals are seeking credit where social media meets with tech & code

Sharing information on the web is easy. Optimizing it so your content can best be viewed and shared often goes ignored by many site owners and social media users. Cosplayers want credit to accompany their photos, but making that happen is a challenge that must be met by both owner and visitor.

Lets take a look at various social media sites and web code to see how you can take steps to make your credentials easy to share from your website to sites like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. As irritating as it may be to see someone using your image without proper credit, part of the burden rests with you and how you choose to share your info and pictures online.

Raychul Moore as Leia - cosplay I saw a post by a cosplayer who was referring to some of her fans as "Dickbags". What!?! Her point was that people share cosplayer's photos without giving credit or providing links to them. That seems like a fair request, although name-calling seems a bit harsh.

Having gone to a lot of work to research a character and fabricate a costume, these cosplayers deserve credit when their photos are re-posted around the web. However, the "credit" issue rests with both the cosplayer and the rabid fan who posts a cosplayer's pictures!

These sexy, yet work-safe, photos are appearing on private websites and public social media sites. Their exotic nature tends to make them quite popular where ever they appear. Publicity is good, but better if it contains identifying info!

Crediting a photo is a technical feat

Lisa Foiles as Lara Croft - cosplay Posting a cosplayer's picture can be as easy as sharing it from their Facebook account to yours. You might share the image from a cosplayer's Twitter account to your Pinterest account. Or maybe you download a cosplayer's picture and upload it onto your website. The web makes sharing info & images easy and Social Media makes it even easier. But within the meager clicks and finger-swipes lays a certain amount of technology that everyone needs to understand if they want to give/receive proper photo credit.

Chiquitita as Supergirl - cosplay The web has lept off of computers and is fast becoming more dominant on mobile devices, like smart phones, tablets and handheld game consoles. This necessitates another level of care when displaying and sharing cosplay photos. Copy & paste is a different beast on a smart phone which makes adding text-based credentials to an online post fairly difficult. Many apps and circumstances don't allow for easy copying of a cosplayer's info to go along with a shared pic.

Sharing Cosplay photos on a hosted website

Operating a website gives you the best control over your content - the text and images. It affords title tags, meta tags, image alt tags and general SEO practices that can maximize the reach, impact and value of your content. As a cosplayer looking to display images and info about their craft, a website (not a templatized WordPress site) is the best option. As Web Master, you have complete control over the elements of your site. Most importantly, you have code-level access to tags in the head and alt tags within images.

Making your website social-media-friendly is more involved than simply dumping Tweet and Like buttons on each page. These buttons allow your content to be easily shared and potentially go viral through sharing by visitors to your site. If your site isn't optimized for those buttons, they are useless!

Using Open Graph tags ensures what information is shared onto Facebook pages Facebook requires a few lines of Open Graph code to ensure that your image, URL (link), title and blurb always travel with the information that is shared. This example shows a blog post from our site about an upcoming book release. All the info you see comes from our site. Without the Open Graph tags inserted into our page about this book, we wouldn't be able to ensure which images and text would comprise this FB post.

The title tag at the top of every web page plays an important role for the Tweet button. By default, clicking a Tweet button allows the API to use the contents of the title tag as the text of the tweet that displays on a Twitter feed.

The title tag is very often ignored by web developers. You may have seen sites who's title is "HOME" or "Welcome". These innocuous words would be displayed as a tweet on a visitors Twitter feed. Not very descriptive or useful!

Using image alt tags ensures what information is shared onto Pinterest boards As a cosplayer you may have multiple images on each web page that are organized by event. By putting descriptive text in each image's alt tag enables search engines and Pinterest to use this text to categorize and describe the image. This would be a good place to put the "credit" you wish to have associated with each image.

There's a whole scheme to optimizing your text and pics so visitors to your site can share your pics, giving you exposure, while also offering the credit for your images. Look into a website and then use social media in conjunction with it. Your website should be the hub of all your cosplay info and the social media sites help get people to your site!

Pinterest will make use of an image's alt tag. Therefore a cosplayer should make sure any descriptive and credential info is contained in each image's alt tag. In the BatGirl example you can see how the contents of the alt tag are used when the image is shared to a Pinterest board.

The same is true of Twitter, but it uses a web page's title tag to create the text. Your web page titles should contain SEO keywords, but also formulate a sentence or blurb that can also be useful as a twitter post.

Using the title tag ensures what information is shared onto Twitter

Only YOU can protect your content

I hope some of this has been useful. To those who develop their own sites, it's pretty basic stuff, but I see a great many sites who don't take advantage of these simple ways to make sharing content more productive. You can't really complain that someone used your pic without giving you any credit, if you don't design your site to easily offer up your info.

The bottom line is - any piece of content that is displayed on the web, can be taken, shared or otherwise regardless of various protection methods. The simpler approach may be to ensure your content is coded to easily offer your credentials when it is re-purposed. From water-marking photos to implementing html tags to provide your credentials, you as a site owner or soc net account owner bear some responsibility in ensuring you get credit for your work.

Not everyone is a Dickbag!
July 16, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Slime Girls chiptune EP, Vacation Wasteland, is jammed full of great music

The Slime Girls chiptune banner
We highly recommend buying the Slime Girls chiptune EP Vacation Wasteland on BandCamp. The whole EP has a great vibe and will stoke your need to feed carts into your favorite retro gaming console.

You can keep up with the Slime Girls on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.

The Slime Girls chiptune EP Vacation Wasteland
July 16, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

We wonder if Playboy was aware that Pam Horton really is a gamer girl

Far too often "Gamer Girls" turn out to be a woman who recalls playing SMB at a sleep over party. They are then handed a controller and a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and the Geek Girl/Gamer Girl headlines roll forth.

Playboy's Gamer Next Door, Pam Horton We dig Pam! She has an interest in the artistic side of game dev and frequently posts sketches. She's been making the rounds at gaming conventions and comic cons oozing vast amonts of geek knowledge and experience. She's a welcome breath of fresh air compared to all the girls who are propped up and touted as gamers.

Pam was Playboy's Miss October 2012 and Gamer Next Door. We can't help wondering if Playboy knew they had a real gamer on their hands.

From her profile...
It is a little bit ridiculous how much of a nerd I am. I love spending my time playing video games. More specifically, League of Legends and World of Warcraft. Some of my favorite games of all time are any Legend of Zelda (yes even Majora's Mask!), Chrono Trigger, EarthBound, Portal 1 and 2, I could go on forever.

Although I am a Nintendo girl at heart, I love and appreciate games of all consoles and genres. God of War, Assassin's Creed, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Devil May Cry, Aliens: Colonial Marines, etc.

We think she's hella cool and hope that Playboy is smart enough to capitalize on all the smarts she has to offer. I'm certain she'll have a fascinating career in gaming. If only a touch of nudity could get me into the gaming world... ahh never mind ;) Playboy's Gamer Next Door, Pam Horton
July 15, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The return of Hostess! Once again gamers have sustenance to play hard

Our eternal thanks fo out to those who brought Hostess back from the grave greedy employees who opted for unemployment over making Twinkies.

The return of Hostess Twinkies
On March 12, 2013, it was reported that Twinkies would return to store shelves in May of that year. Twinkies, along with other famed Hostess Brands, were purchased out of bankruptcy by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co for $410 million.

Twinkies returned to US shelves on July 15th, 2013. The new Twinkies are smaller than the original, containing 135 calories and weighing 38.5 grams - the original Twinkies contained 150 calories and weighed 42.5 grams. The new Twinkies also have a longer shelf life of 45 days, up from the 26 days of the original Twinkies.
July 15, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Power of Glove: A film about the world's most notorious video game controller - NES Power Glove

1989 - in an era of Nintendo-mania, toymaker giant Mattel unleashes a bold technological experiment to an eager public. The POWER GLOVE: the first video game controller that allows players to operate Nintendo games with intuitive hand gestures. Despite immense hype surrounding its release, the product is a critical failure, disappointing thousands of children with its subpar gameplay. However...

The Power of Glove documentary film logo
More than two decades later, dedicated fans continue to repurpose the Power Glove for art pieces, hacking projects, electronic music, and more. For the first time ever: the story behind the world's most notorious video game controller. The Power of Glove is a documentary film chronicling the story of how & why the Power Glove lives on.

There doesn't seem to be a timeframe listed on The Power of Glove website, but you'll find a lot of info about the concept and filmmakers. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

We posted a few photos of our NES Power Glove.

The Power of Glove trailer:
July 15, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Slap up these Skylanders Giants wall stickers and give your room some game

Activision's Skylanders franchise has been branching out from video games to include toys, clothing, trading cards and dog tags among other things... like lunch boxes!
Skylanders giants wall stickers rom Roommates Decor

I found a post about Skylanders Giants Wall Stickers by Robert Welkner at COIN-OP TV and had to put up this pic. He also had a post about Skylanders Giants metal lunch boxes on Amazon. I'm a huge fan of metal lunch boxes since I took my Peanuts lunch box to school during the 70s. Back then there weren't the lavish selections we see today, but ALL lunch boxes were sold with a matching thermos. Now THAT is a lunch box! :)

You can buy these Skylander Giants Wall Stickers from RoomMates Decor and plaster some game onto your walls. These are the removable kind that won't damage walls and can easily be repositioned. I sort of prefer the retro gaming screen shot stickers seen on Think Geek, but these are pretty cool if you're imaginative enough to create a good looking theme. That's not my strong suit ;)
July 14, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With several feature similarities, Xbox One and Comcast's X1 box also share a similar name

As a general rule, I don't allow Microsoft products into my house. I've had to use them at most of my jobs, but I draw the line at my home. Suffice to say, I could care less about the Xbox One and the various reversals that MS has recently made to stave off angry consumers. I am interested to see if MS keeps their word on newly promised changes to "Always On" and used games. Have you seen the movie, Say Anything?

Comcast's Xfinity X1 box Even as social media fiends, frantic to scale all communication to 140 chars, truncate it to Xbone, Comcast comes out with their X1 box. With several similar features, one has to ask why choose such a similar name? The "chicken or the egg" analogy rises, but I'd guess that the Xbox One came first.

The X1 won't play games - unless you think it's fun to navigate 4 levels deep to dismiss a pay-per-view offer for an over-priced wrestling event - but it's interactive TV features seem close to those touted by Xbone executives. The same executives who were quick to tell detractors to buy their 8 year old Xbox 360 product instead.

Xbox One touts itself a living room hub that will tie together gaming, TV and internet. That's an enticing concept for those of us who have a separate box for each of these options. Of course the constant vigil of Kinect is enough to make me cringe. Windows has been notorious about "noting" what applications you are running (some of us call that spying), so I can only assume the MS market research folks will be collecting your dating habits, farts and poor eating habits that cross the inspecting eye of Kinect.

From tracking your most watched channels to allowing you to speak commands, there are a few too many similarities to then have a near-identical name. Is Comcast hoping you may opt for an X1 instead of an Xbone? Will they license a variant of Angry Birds and begin marketing their interactive TV game console? Who knows.

All I know is... if I were to develop an new auto manufacturing brand, I wouldn't name if Ferd, Chovrolet or Toyoto. Although Lamborghinoo has a nice ring to it.
July 13, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Some days it's video games. Other days you dash home for other reasons Dashing home for all the right reasons

July 13, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Did you think Atari was the only company to reduce over-stock via landfills? GameStop does it too

Upon inquiring about the Outlaw series of games on the PS2, a GameStop employee told me GameStop no longer carried any of the titles and that copies were destroyed and disposed of!

I'm not a sports fan and that extends from real world events to video games. Personally, I find most sports are comprised of thugs with multi-million dollar contracts who play games I dismissed in grade school. My one exception is tennis. I enjoy playing it as well as watching the grand slam matches. Both tennis and golf are considered "gentlemen's sports" as they seldom involve in-game fights or rioting fans causing death and destruction. Of course, golf is a viable sport only if you're putting a ball through a clown's mouth or banking a shot around a miniature windmill.

The "gentleman" moniker attached to these sports made Hypnotix's Outlaw series of games adds a fun juxtaposition of perception with the magic of digital entertainment. No one attends Wimbledon with the expectation of seeing a stripper meet a biker in the singles final... or a punk rocker vs a ninja. That was the fun behind the Outlaw series that spanned the sports of Tennis, Golf and Volleyball.

Outlaw Tennis by Hypnotix

Hypnotix Outlaw Tennis Outlaw Tennis by Hypnotix
Hypnotix Outlaw Tennis Outlaw Tennis by Hypnotix adds all the needed seedy elements to make tennis a thug-sport and inject some unexpected fun into this "gentleman's sport.

Outlaw Golf by Hypnotix

Hypnotix Outlaw Golf Outlaw Golf by Hypnotix
Hypnotix Outlaw Golf Outlaw Golf by Hypnotix lets you tee off with a variety of shady players who aren't afraid to kick some ass - your's included - to prevail.

Outlaw Volleyball by Hypnotix

Hypnotix Outlaw Volleyball Outlaw Volleyball by Hypnotix
Hypnotix Outlaw Volleyball Outlaw Volleyball by Hypnotix puts a new element of grit onto these sandy volleyball courts.

About a year ago we heard that GameStop was considering selling retro games. We yearned for aisles of 2600, Intellivision and Coleco titles, but knew that this news was more akin to putting PS2 and GameCube games back on the shelves and/or online store. This doesn't seem to have materialized in any prominent manner. Our local GameStops have gone as far as removing GameCube titles from shelves and disposing of PS2 game boxes in favor of dumping the game discs into racks, clad only in paper envelopes. This reduces the collector's value of any PS2 game if they dispose of the case with cover art. Quite a fail for those seeking these older titles - removal and poor repackaging.

GameStop Implements Landfill Strategy for Inventory Management

Getting back to my recent visit to GameStop...
Still seeking a few of Hypnotix's Outlaw titles for the PS2, I asked about them at GameStop. The clerk looked them up in the computer and said that the company was no longer offering these titles. His explanation was that they were in low demand and it cost more to store the games and allow them shelf-space than they were worth. I'm no accountant, but I do understand the cost of retail space and how every square foot must return maximum value. But it sounded as though GameStop had somehow "removed" their Outlaw inventory.

The clerk went on to say that the copies had been destroyed and disposed of. My eyes went wide in disbelief that games would be relegated as trash and my thoughts went to the legendary Atari landfill tale. Could GameStop, after proclaiming enough value in vintage games, be tossing them into landfills Atari-style? When estimating overstock, I have to believe that a company the size of GameStop could fill and endless line of tractor trailers destined for town dumps across the nation.

Despite the economics behind GameStop's landfill solution, I love video games and know that every game - awful or not - has a fan-base. Throwing games in the trash is an epic marketing fail in my opinion. Are those beaten-up iPads really generating profit for GameStop's HQ? The industry is in a bit of turmoil as the 8th generation gets going, but trashing games seems like a waste of a good asset that must have value to someone. Couldn't these games be donated to hospitals, shelters or the countless charities dedicated to improving lives via gaming?

Alas, many companies take this tactic. In 1989, Apple disposed of approximately 2,700 unsold Lisas in a guarded landfill in Logan, Utah, in order to receive a tax write-off on the unsold inventory.
July 11, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Summer vacation with my son let me catch up with Ben10. So where's Gwen Tennyson?

My son and I have long been fans of Ben 10 on Cartoon Network. It's been fun to see the show evolve over the years and see how they have allowed the characters to age, keeping the series fresh.

Gwen Tennyson from Ben 10 Omniverse Gwen Tennyson from Ben 10 Omniverse Debuting in 2005, the creator, Man of Action (a team of comic book writers & artists) have done a great job progressing the characters and story.

I've always liked the Gwen character and how she's evolved in the show. I love the new Gwen character's design - by far my favorite image of Ben's cousin. Now with the Omniverse story arc, she and Kevin have gone off to college and are essentially absent from the series. The Ben/Gwen dynamic was always done in a interesting and compelling way. It's a shame for her character to be removed.

The plumbers were always depicted as a secret society that worked in the background without public knowledge or recognition. Omniverse seems to have cast Ben as a public super hero who openly changes into various aliens to "save the world" as well as entertain in a sideshow manner.

Anonymity has always played a role in the super hero genre to some degree. I'm not to happy with the new "look at me turn into an alien" tone or the removal of Gwen & Kevin. Both Tennyson's had interesting relationships with Kevin that brought a lot of emotion and useful conflict to the show. Now, it seems to be following a typical formula.

I hope they begin to bring Gwen & Kevin back. How about a college dropout episode to bring 'em back? :)
July 8, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Google commemorates the Roswell Incident's 66th anniversary with an alien UFO doodle game

"The Intelligence Office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer."

Article in the Roswell Daily Record about the FO crash This article sparked an intense interest in UFOs and questioned whether we are alone in the grand scope of galaxies beyond. It may also have led some "researchers" to leave the woods to track the skies and leave Bigfoot to his own devises. Regardless, folks seem to love the idea of flying saucers even though the TSA has completely ruined the joy of air travel.

To commemorate the 66th anniversary of the Roswell crash Google created an interactive doodle that lets you help an alien fix his ship and return home. Yes, it carries a very "E.T." vibe. We tend to think aliens would be cute and friendly despite all the invasions waged on this planet are ugly and savage.

Google celebrates the Roswell Incident's 66th anniversary with an alien UFO doodle game Google's home page on July 8 featured this doodle that leads to a short interactive game about helping an alien fix his ship and leave Earth.
Google celebrates the Roswell Incident's 66th anniversary with an alien UFO doodle game Successfully geting the alien back into space reveals this newspaper-ish headline.

You can check out Google's Roswell UFO Crash anniversary doodle or fire up your Atari 2600 and join the fun because Atari's ET game is a lot more fun than most people will admit!
July 6, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My NeoGeo X MegaPack & Arcade Stick arrive just in time to discover the defects in Firmware V337

The Atari flashback's design is certainly reminiscent of the original 2600, but few retro gamers would mistake it for the real thing. Not true of the NeoGeo X's Station - a device that enables the handheld to be connected to your TV. It's design, minus the faux cartridge slot, is very true to the original AES console. Even the Arcade Stick controller looks like the original. It's a wonderful device full of retro charm and memory-inducing game play.

NeoGeo X firmware display screen V337 Where it's fallen short is some firmware versions do not update properly when performing the necessary update for the 15 newly released games. Some customers who have handhelds with the V337 firmware, will discover that the update to V500 will not work and the unit must be shipped back to the manufacturer for resolution. WTF!?!

Determining Your Firmware Version

NeoGeo X firmware display screen If your upgrade went as described in the instructions - power to ya! If you're still considering the new games and want to determine your handheld's firmware version, remove the unit from the station, power it up and press the MENU button. A screen will appear displaying your NeoGeo X's firmware version. A successful upgrade will display version 500 and your handheld's serial number.

Customer Service, as well as many owners, say that this firmware defect only effects some units with V337. It's hard to say how many customers are effected by this. I pre-ordered the Gold version from Amazon and it arrived in late December 2012. Having ordered it early, I may have received an earlier release than other purchasers.

I'm about to send my unit back for "repair". Getting the info from Customer Service was simple and they were very nice to work with. They pay for shipping - both ways - but the hassle is fairly steep for me. I bought the unit for my son and I this past Christmas. For his Summer vacation with me, I ordered a second Arcade Stick and the MegaPack of 15 games. Discovering that the update wold not work and the unit had to be shipped back is a major inconvenience and irritates me quite a bit. I have to sent the handheld unit and it's receipt. Additionally, I have to send the MegaPack game card along with it's receipt. Fortunately the MegaPack comes in a package that offers a protective cut-out for the handheld unit. All of this is a pain in the ass, but we'll see how the process goes and if the unit is returned in a fully functional state. Here's hoping :)
July 4, 2013 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy fourth of July! Retro Gamers Happy fourth of July!