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

8 Bit Central - Retro Gaming Blog

Archive of Classic Video Game Blog Articles
Fourth Quarter 2014 - October, November, December

Check out the retro gaming info, odd relics, insane homebrews, and the perverse conclusions we've drawn in 2014!

December 2014 Retro Gaming Articles:

December 25, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Merry Christmas!

We hope you all have a great holiday gaming with friends and family!!

Merry Christmas
December 20, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

We're starting our Christmas vacation today!

With Player2 arriving for the holidays, the site will be quieter than usual, but we assure you this is only due to all the video games we're busy playing. I just picked up Outrun for the PS2, Spy Hunter for the 3DS, and a Colecovision Flashback. We have all the makings of a happy holiday!

We look forward to 2 weeks of rampant gaming and hope your holiday is insanely awesome and full of gaming with family and friends!
December 19, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Namco's Pac-Man themed restaurant, Level 257, is set to open in a Chicago suburb

Almost 2 years ago we heard Namco was looking to oust Chuck E. Cheese's rein over the arcade/restaurant genre. Code named Level 256, Namco set out to create a model centered around their entertainment brand, that could be franchised. Level 257 restaurant & entertainment destination seems to be the result of their efforts.

level 257 restaurant & entertainment destination While we're familiar with Chuck E. Cheese and the barcade scene, Level 257 seems to be ushering in a larger version of this concept that caters to diners and gamers - but on a larger scale.

The focus is on the 180-seat restaurant (presenting fresh, chef-prepared dishes), while also offering a wide array of gaming options. It will feature 16 retro-styled bowling lanes with smart technology, table tennis, pinball machines and a video game lounge with original arcade games alongside modern titles. There will also be custom-built game tables and free-to-play board games to provide a unique entertainment experience. Rounding out it's offerings is a Pac-Man retail shop!

But Level 257 aren't all fun 'n games. When you see a Chuck E. Cheese commercial, they don't focus on food at all. You see that it's available, but they focus on the games. One might conclude that's because the food is not drawing much of a crowd - Yelp reviews support this notion.

Level 257 are adamant about being a serious restaurant. This is not a burger joint with an adjoining arcade. It's 40,000 square foot domain will feature executive chefs to oversee the menu and there will be cocktail lounges with fire pits. It definitely sounds like a more serious establishment than a kiddie arcade.

Balancing Dining and Gaming

Part of the challenge is balancing out the various amenities they plan on offering. While the Pac-Man connection will be subtle, it's hard to imagine fine dining with bowling, pinball, arcade cabinets and a retail Pac-Man shop. That isn't to say it can't be done. I'm actually excited to see how they do it. If successful, they'll have merged several entities into one entertainment destination!

Going back to what we heard in early 2013... Namco was setting out to develop a model that could be franchised. I'm not sure if that is still part of the plan, but if you don't live near Chicago, a Level 257 may one day be opening near you!
December 18, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Uncle Grandpa cut-out Christmas decorations from Cartoon Network are brilliant

Christmas tree with Uncle Grandpa ornaments When I saw the Uncle Grandpa cut-out Christmas ornament on the Uncle Grandpa Facebook page I was stoked. I knew one of those was definitely going on our tree! A few days later I saw Pizza Steve and wondered if there would be more. There were!

Mr. Gus and Giant Realistic Flying Tiger appeared. It was clear that we needed an Uncle Grandpa Christmas tree. Hell yeah!

My son & I are avid Uncle Grandpa fans and full-on devotees to the Cartoon Network. From Adventure Time and Regular Show to Clarence and The Amazing World of Gumball, we could spend hours watching these shows. Fortunately, we have a ton of video games to play from the Atari 2600 to the N64 and PS3.

I'm really excited that Cartoon Network posted these cut-out ornaments for the Uncle Grandpa characters. I wonder why they didn't do it for more of their programs. Uncle Grandpa Christmas ornaments Uncle Grandpa characters Check out Uncle Grandpa on Cartoon Network! Good Mornin'!
December 17, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

ROMs won't give you the experience of game carts, so get “Nintendo Quest” on physical media DVD/Blu-ray

While Netflix sounds like a snazzy way to pluck your favorite movies from the cloud, I prefer owning all of my favorite movies on DVD. There's a sense of permanence when you can hold the disc in your hand. Content won't be added, altered, or deleted. It's YOURS!

Nintendo Quest We're all accustomed to shoddy day-one game releases. You have to wait for all the fixes to become available online. Back in the day, a game cart was final and gave consistent experiences every time you played. No one was mucking around behind the scenes, like today.

Imagine if George Lucas was able to "tinker" with Star Wars... Every time you watched it, he'd have made changes (loused it up) - and you know he would!! Gotta own it on disc!

Nintendo Quest

About the film from their Facebook page:
Follow NES Fanatic and Game Collector Jay Bartlett on his quest to secure an entire NES library in 30 days with no online purchases. Along the way, we talk to industry icons and look at the impact of the NES console and Nintendo. It's the Ultimate 8-bit ROAD TRIP!

Coming in the New Year is your chance to own Nintendo Quest on DVD or Blu-ray via an upcoming kickstarter campaign. If you missed out on their initial kickstarter, this is a great opportunity to get the film in a physical format! The Blu-ray has a lot of additional footage and goodies that one has come to expect on Blu-ray.

You should definitely follow them online - from podcasts to all the major social networks, they'll keep you up to date about Nintendo Quest and gaming in general. They do a lot more than just promoting their film. They contribute to many facets of the retro gaming arena. Keep an eye out for their upcoming Kickstarter for their DVD and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube!

NINTENDO QUEST will again be available on DVD and Blu-ray!
As for ROMS, we love 'em for checking out titles we've never played, but nothing beats wedging a dusty cart into an old console and diving into an amazing game from days gone by. It's a whole experience from the feel of the controller to scarfing epic snacks while Player2 is up.

The same is true of movies. Netflix removes titles each month, but there's something awesome about digging through shelves of DVDs in search of that perfect flick that will make your night. It won't be long before Nintendo Quest could be on your shelf... So, you know you want it on DVD or Blu-ray!

Nintendo Quest Press Release


(LAS VEGAS, NV, December 2014) Life-long friendship, love of games, and passion for nostalgia, fuel film to completion with incredible fanfare.

Writer/director Robert McCallum has put the finishing touches on his latest film, Nintendo Quest, a feature-length documentary that chronicles the enduring legacy of Nintendo, and in particular, their first North American home console, all the while following video game rock star, Jay Bartlett, as he attempts to collect all 678 original retail-NES games in 30 days without using the internet in anyway. McCallums latest Kickstarter Campaign is, possibly, the publics last chance to secure a copy of his film in a physical form  something key to the films theme.

While Nintendo Quest focuses on the iconic titles in the Japanese juggernauts primary library, it places greater emphasis on the human element of gaming like the importance of community, and Bartletts own personal coming- of-age journey as well as highlighting some key differences in video game attitudes between today and yesteryear. Dozens of game celebrities volunteered their time to participate in filming including, but not limited to, Tommy Tallarico, Carrie Swidecki, Todd Rogers, Billy Mitchell, Walter Day, Michelle Ireland, Matt Miller, Mason Cramer, John Pompa and more. Over 50 retail stores believed in Bartletts journey and NBC, CBS, CTV, and CBC RadioOne are only some of the media outlets that have already supported McCallums film with coverage.

The upcoming Kickstarter launches January 6, 2015, runs for 30 days and will showcase a brand new trailer offering a greater look at the polished film. Here are some of the noteworthy rewards available:

  • A Chance to Host an Advanced Screening of the Nintendo Quest
  • Special Edition DVD and Blu-Ray with Extra Content
  • An Expanded Soundtrack with Original 8-bit Music
  • NES-replica Boxes, Cartridges, and Disc Bundle
December 16, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I was surprised to find Mattel (Basic Fun) Electronic Football & Basketball at Toys R Us tonight

When I was in middle school a kid brought in a Mattel Electronic Football game. Most of us had seen such handheld games in stores or catalogs, but they were so new, I didn't expect to hold one in my hands. It wasn't long before it was the focal point of the classroom and our teacher was mere minutes from confiscating it.

Within a week several kids had these electronic wonders. School was never the same. Handheld games seemed to be exploding onto the market into the early 80's. It was the beginning of a new era for kids bound for the digital age.

Basic Fun's Electronic Football Basic Fun's Electronic Football.
Basic Fun's Electronic Basketball Basic Fun's Electronic Basketball.

Although reminiscent of Mattel's electronic games, these units are from Basic Fun. The bottom of the packaging acknowledges the game and trademarks are being licensed from Mattel with a 2014 copyright. Aside from that, the Mattel name is not used on the packaging with the exception of the manual that refers to the product as Mattel Electronic Football.

Mattel's original football game came out in 1977 and I found these units today in 2014. We're all accustomed to seeing retro games , like Flashbacks, appear around the holidays, so I assumed the same was true of these Basic Fun handhelds.

However, I found no mention of them on the TRU website, although they have been selling on eBay for between $25 and $50. Mine was $15 - new in box! I imagine they've been on the market for a while as they don't appear on Basic Fun's site either.

Keep an eye out for these games, if you want to relive a bit of childhood magic in the palm of your hand. I didn't own these as a kid. I had Parker Brother's Merlin which came out in 1978. There have been reissues of Merlin as well as Simon. With the recent passing of Simon's creator, Ralph Baer, I imaging Simon many make a wider comeback than some other games of this era.
December 14, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Are celebrity-based mobile games simply vehicles for their own self-adulation or recovery?

Lindsay Lohan has a mobile game. So does Kim Kardashian. They may be free-to-play games, but I feel they dilute the marketplace that may miss something wonderful like Monument Valley with all the attention given to celebrities.

Lindesy Lohan's mobile game- The Price Of Fame These sorts of games and apps seem more self-serving to the celebrities than offering a good experience to the player. These games are endless loops of activity-reward, then it repeats. I'm not sure I need a "reality show game" wedged into my smart phone's meager memory.

I may be the wrong person to judge this since I also don't understand the appeal of Candy Crush. However, I've found a lot of mobile games that really take advantage of the medium in terms of game-play and timing.

I'm primarily a console gamer who feels many mobile games don't often take advantage of how mobile differs from traditional gaming. For example... are these celebrity inspired games doing anything for gamers? I see more benefits to the celebrity who is all but absent in the entire process.

In Lindsay's case, I can't help but feel a light-hearted game with her guiding you in gaining Hollywood fans is little more than a propaganda piece to boost her appeal as a employable actress. The game, The Price of Fame, involves little more than frantically swiping the screen to gain fans and then spend them as capital on upgrades. I see this as a way to put Lohan's name into the public domain in a way in which she'll be perceived as fun & hip.

LKim Kardashian: Hollywood mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood wants to let you live the glam-life on your tiny screen. I doubt Kim needs more money, but think about the lucky developer who can legally use her name! Still I wonder if this is an attempt to spread her fame to a new platform.

Being famous for "being famous" is about as absurd as it gets. Some of that absurdity shows itself in game objectives from dating & dumping celebrities and ruling the red carpet.

As smart phones become more technically capable, I rather hoped games would escalate in ways that took advantage of new technology and processing power. Peddling to Reality TV genres seems counter to advancing mobile gaming. I understand everyone wants to make money for their efforts, but these "games" benefit the celebrities more than the players or developers. Celebrities are fun and exciting, but when the game advances them without offering much to the player, I get discouraged.

I've played plenty of RPGs and have enjoyed Tomodatchi Life on my 2DS. Where I see a differentiation is in the game's focus. A good RPG, or any game, delights the player which rewards the developer via sales. There is no celebrity in the wings taking a cut of the profit or trying to re-shape their public image via a strategically placed game.

AAron Paul's iOS game- Yo Bitch I loved Breaking Bad as much as the next person, but do I need an app to send "Yo Bitch" to friends and family? The idea is funny, but it's less amusing as an actual app, especially when Yo was already a prior success.

I'll mention it again because when I play Monument Valley I have to wonder about the motives of celebrities who peddle mobile games focused on their name. Games like Hungry Shark, Card Wars or Bad Piggies leave the player with the satisfaction of achievement without bolstering someone's lax acting career. Don't make me get Flappy Bird in here!
December 12, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

You've seen Retronaut on the web & in book stores, now play the completely unrelated retro-themed mobile game

Retronaut 1 mobile game Many of the mobile games I've come to enjoy are retro themed in one way or another. Some have game-play aspects reminiscent of favorite games from the 80's. Others use the blocky pixel art to set a visual mood that also rings in the wonders of 1983.

As a side-scroller, Retronaut 1, from Grok Developments Ltd., takes you on a journey through the familiar visuals of retro games and iconic items of the era. It does this in a very literal fashion.

As seen in the screenshot, a screenful of Space invaders hover above the green shields, but the Retronaut 1 enters from the side firing on the Invaders. Where Retronaut 1 differs from many retro-inspired games is you drift through renditions of several games from arcades to the Atari 2600. There are even some targeting options in the form of retro toys and such.

With further updates promised, Retronaut 1 lets you battle through screens of your favorite games with more on the way. In addition to Space Invaders, you'll come across Pac-Man and Asteroids.

As for game-play, taping the left side of the screen provides thrust and the right side is for firing. As you thrust, you use up fuel and must collect additional fuel in your travels through mountainous terrain.

Retronaut 1 mobile game The game is designed to let you progress with a modest amount of frustration. With only the ability to thrust upwards, you often find your descent too slow to avoid colliding with objects. It takes a while to understand that dodging objects can be more effective than trying to shoot everything. There's a lot of adversaries coming at your from your favorite pixel'd games.

The levels are defined by years - starting with 1978. This is to give you an idea of the sort of enemies (classic retro games) you may encounter in your travels. The included levels of the game are currently 1978, 1979, and 1980.

Retronaut 1 is a free Android game that is entertaining in the unique way in which it presents retro gaming - you fly through the games themselves. It's a nice take on the genre done in a manner I haven't seen before. Like many mobile games, you aren't likely to delve into marathon sessions, but the desire to see which "old favorites" are contained in the journey will keep you coming back to it.

I'd be remiss if I didn't at least acknowledge the oddity of the name. I like the name Retromaut. It's a fitting name, however, it's been used before and is largely associated with a vintage image project. A quick Google search reveals the "vintage picture" website and companion book, Retronaut: The Photographic Time Machine.

A few critics of the game have been vocal about ownership of the name with a variety of allegations. I'm far more interested in video games than copyright law, so I suggest you try the game. If you like it, repeat... otherwise delete. Very simple, but do give this game a whirl since it's presentation of the retro genre is delightfully unusual.
December 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Retro gaming gives perspective to Tekken 7's Lucky Chloe having played Tekken on PSone

It's long been accepted that you can't please everyone, but lately it seems that pleasing anyone is a daunting task. Take a peek at social media for a minute or two and you're bound to find a war of words. One of the latest arguments surrounds Lucky Chloe being too plain and not "right" for Tekken 7.

I'm not even sure what that means. She's programmed into the game to kick ass. Is that not enough? I'm willing to bet there are plenty of other characters to play should one not wish to play her. I wonder how many of those questioning Chloe have played Tekken on the original PlayStation.

Tekken 7's Chloe Nina Williams was an original character from Tekken on the PSone and made appearances in all the main games. Comparing her Tekken 1 image to today's photo-realistic features is like comparing Indiana Jones on the Atari 2600 with Nathan Drake on the PS4.

Some characters progress across a franchise while others are added to balance out the mix.

Game disc and manual from the Original Tekken on the PSone I understad the arguments being made about Chloe when compared to some of the outrageous characters to come along. But having loved Tekken since it's inception back in the mid 90's, I think her upcoming inclusion will work out just fine. And... I can't help but think that trolling would be far less pervasive if more people read books... just a thought.
December 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Stern Pinball offers awesome add-ons for their Walking Dead table, like the Governor's Fish Tank

When you see a pallet full of Stern Pinball boxes, it kind of piques one's curiosity. Stern Pinball's Governor's Fish Tank Too small to be pinball tables... and labeled as fish tanks? We know that Stern made two amazing Walking Dead pinball tables (Pro and LE). They've also developed a few clever add-ons to top off those zombie-inspired games.

Every time I mention Stern, I have to take a moment to yearn for a Berzerk reboot. It's one of my favorite games from my arcade days. That being the case, it's no surprise that Stern is still innovating the amusement industry, but via pinball.

No more video games like Berzerk or Frenzy, but they've cornered the market on pinball tables with amazing tie-ins to blockbusters like The Walking Dead, Ford Motors and on to top-billing rock bands like Metallica and AC/DC.

But it's not about simply aligning their brand with top-shelf entities. The company that engineered the simple brilliance of Berzerk has also teamed up with Whizbang Pinball to revive an electro-mechanical style table, Whoa Nellie. Recently they released accessories for their Walking Dead table.

When I first saw the Terminator Salvation arcade game, it towered over most of the attractions. Those glowing red eyes atop the monitor drew more attention than the crane machine with flashing neon, stuffed full of Cartoon Network plushies! It may seem silly to be the tallest game, but recognition comes in many forms when it comes to getting noticed.

Imagine a row of pinball tables. How do you choose which one to play first. Recognizable characters? Awesome attract mode? Great artwork? How about starting with the one sporting a fish tank full of severed heads? Yep, that's the one... from Stern!

Stern Pinball's Governor's Fish Tank Stern has released several zombie-infused accessories for their Walking Dead table, but the severed heads fish tank is the pinacle. Placed above the backbox, this illuminated tank's electronics tap into the game for synched display and attract mode. They've also released inside panels that add dimension to the playfield, a zombie-head shooter knob, and a blood-splattered armor kit.

I love that they have made the Walking Dead table even more awesome. Innovation can come in many forms, but Stern is offering improvements that fit so well with the theme of the table. It's one of the reasons they are so successful in the amusement arena.
December 9, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Check out this awesome chiptune album on BandCamp- “HEART ON WAVE” from the Slime Girls

HEART ON WAVE from the Slime Girls chiptune album HEART ON WAVE from the Slime Girls We first heard about the Slime Girls in 2012 when they released their EP, Vacation Wasteland. Needless to say it's a great EP and available on their BandCamp page.

They've just released another awesome chiptune album, Heart On Wave.

There is surprisingly little info about this band... and fittingly, their Facebook bio is brief: Digital Punk Rock Spirit. Perhaps this brevity lets them channel their energy into their chiptune music.

We highly recommend checking them out and buying their albums!
December 9, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The “Father of Video Games” Ralph Baer passed away

My first reaction to playing an Atari 2600 was that the TV was no longer a passive box that one simply sat in front of. Through home video game consoles, the living room TV became an interactive portal to amazing worlds that we had dreamed of... and now we could visit them.

Ralph Baer pioneered the notion of interacting with the TV. TV programs had delighted us for years, but we needed that nudge to realize that our passivity towards TV was far below it's potential. We needed minds like Ralph Baer who saw the potential and acted on it. He gave us the spark that led us to believe we could control what happened on our TV... or any video screen.

Ralph Baer Baer pioneered the idea of a home gaming console and licensed the system he created which became the Magnavox Odyssey. It's success attracted other companies that brought competing ideas to market and the video game industry was on it's way.

Ralph Baer In February 2006, Baer was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush in honor of his groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games.
December 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mixed messages about amiibo cancelations seems like a lame sales ploy- put them in-game!

Animal Crossing Villager amiibo Over the weekend a few websites reported rumors that some amiibos had been cancelled. Soon others said this claim was untrue. All of this is amidst reports that Nintendo is selling tons of amiibos. Um... so which is it?

I think Nintendo is doing just fine and will prevail as always, but who is this mystery Nintendo rep who's sound-bites are perpetuating the rumor-mill surrounding discontinued amiibos? The back-and-forth as to whether the Villager, Marth and Wii Fit Trainer amiibo figures have been discontinued is getting repetitive, annoying, and is beginning to feel like a tacky sales ploy to get more people rushing out to stores to buy NOW.

My local Toys R Us says they haven't even received their initial shipment of these 3 figures. It's hard to imagine they'll be discontinued amidst the busy holiday shopping season. On the other hand, the initial shipment likely takes them into 2015.

I guess I'm done with my rant. It just seemed as though a lot of misinformation was going around in an effort to boost amiibo slaes. The whole scenario was pretty odd. Like any collectable, some will be released in limited quantities and secondary markets will thrive on the price jump. My goal is to find them on sale :)

amiibos One facet of amiibo mania I find interesting is the intent. I picked up the SSB Fox figure out of nostalgia, but I don't own a Wii U (yet) and the 3DS amiibo solution has not been released. For me, Fox is just a cool pick-up. But this sees to be the predominant vibe on the Net. I'm finding lots of folks have them sitting on a shelf awaiting an upcoming dusting. Is anyone using them to compliment a Wii U game?

I've been a collector, so I'm not judging, but for all the sales I'm hearing about, I want to hear that some of these figures are being used in-game! Are we all marveling at our Nintendo action figures... or are we enhancing game-play with these fab critters? I hope they don't get relegated to display cases when there are games to be played with these figures ;)
December 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

NORAD provides air defense for Northern America and they track Santa each December

NORAD tracks Santa With all the fear-baiting by news organizations and rhetoric from politicians about terror invasions of North America, it's refreshing that some organizations still have a sense of reality, kindness and humor.

NORAD is tasked with defending our skies, but a mishap in the mid 50's gave them a Christmas mission that they have dutifully carried out each year since. NORAD tracks Santa.

in 1955 a Sears Roebuck, in Colorado Springs, ran a newspaper ad with a phone number for kids to call and speak with Santa. Unfortunately, they misprinted the phone number and kids began calling NORAD thinking they were talking with Santa. Colonel Harry Shoup had his staff give the kids details of Santa's whereabouts and a tradition was born!

The tradition is so strong that it has a website with a great rendition of how this tradition began and a lot more. Definitely worth a read.
December 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Skylanders Winterfest Lob-Star retains his figure's holiday appearance in-game, unlike Halloween Eye Brawl

When Halloween Eye Brawl was released, I was hoping to see him running through the Slylands with his pumpkin-head. Alas, this was not to be. The figure had not been programmed for the prior October release of Skylanders Giants. Thus, his in-game character was identical to the original Eye Brawl... which was disappointing.

Activision seemed to learn their lesson last Spring when Easter Trigger Happy came on the scene riding an Easter Egg. When I heard a Christmas variant of Lob-Star was coming, I hoped that he would retain the Christmas-visual of the figure when launched into the game. A few websites claimed he did keep his look in-game, but they said the same of Halloween Eye Brawl.

With that in mind, I was off to toys R Us. To my delight, Activision's recently released sequel, Skylanders Trap Team, does have Winterfest Lob-Star coded into the game so it displays his holiday variant with the red suit and Santa-like beard!

Winterfest Lob-Star displays like the character in-game My packaged Winterfest Lob-Star sitting on the Trap Team portal with his intro screen on the TV in the background. GameStop advertised a limited exclusive on the Winterfest Lob-Star figure, which means one-day later everyone else will have it. I wasn't able to get to GameStop on Dec. 6, so I went to Toys R Us today.

Upon scouring the aisles for Winterfest Lob-Star, he was nowhere to be found. An employee confirmed they were in-stock, but no one was sure when they were available to customers. Um... it's today. After a manager looked into it, he came back with a large box full of Winterfest Lob-Star. I was stoked to snag one and rush home and verify his digital appearance in holiday garb!

The ability to "test" this concept in-store is no longer possible at my local Toys R Us since their Trap Team demo kiosk has been broken for over 2 months. Not even the holiday sales season prompted anyone to have the kiosk replaced.

My son is going to be stoked to find this under the Christmas tree!
December 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Polaroid's Socialmatic camera is a mix of retro and modern photography

I miss the instant gratification of waving a "fresh from the camera" Polaroid photo in the air, as the detail slowly appeared before your eyes. I also appreciate the economic benefit of digital photography and the awful photos that are deleted without wasting prints.

Polaroid's Socialmatic camera Is there a middle point? Can a modern camera be viable as a print and digital device? My retro innards want to scream, "Yes," but practicality may be the death of that nostalgic warmth.

The Polaroid Socialmatic camera combines the nostalgic appeal of vintage Polaroid instant print cameras with the ability to share using the camera's built-in Wi-Fi and bluetooth capabilities.

We all know that camer-phones have improved greatly over the initially poor quality photos they once provided. Still, I've seen stand-alone digicams with social media sharing via built-in wifi. Some say amateur photography has gone the way of the "Phone" citing device specific apps like Instagram. For a camera to compete with that, it needs a valuable unique feature.

Socialmatic Camera Features

Due out in January 2015... The Socialmatic runs on Android and features a 14Mp front-facing camera, a 2Mp rear selfie cam, and a 4.5" Touchscreen. The screen, among other things, displays the Mood Assistant that shows a smiley face if you take a lot of pictures and begins to frown with less usage. It has built-in wifi and can connect to your mobile device via bluetooth. This lets it share your pictures to any social network with an Android interface.

Where it begins to differ is with it's Zink (zero ink) 2" x 3" printer and QR implementation. Both the camera and each photo gets a unique QR code that allows you to "follow" other users online and see where your photos have traveled. While these are unique features, I'm not sure it justifies the price of the camera and the photo paper - if you want prints.

Polaroid's Socialmatic camera I love the nostalgia of Polaroid and that they've brought out an interesting hybrid camera with a few new tricks, but I'm not sure it's enough to generate the needed buzz for this product.

While these are unique features, I'm not sure it justifies the price of the camera and the photo paper, should you want prints. Here's what I like most about my 12Mp digicam. It cost under $100 and if it breaks, I can replace it.

The Nostalgia Train Derails

A lot of this devices appeal will come from those who remember the former Polaroid and love the square Instagram look of the Socialmatic. But many companies we remember from the past are much different today. Atari is a great example. It's gone through so many iterations, few know that the only remnant of the company that brought us Asteroids is now engaged in online gambling.

Similarly, Polaroid has been through bankruptcies and it is nothing more than an iconic brand name that nameless venture capitalist's hope to bring back. As much as i love the old Polaroid cameras, I don't think the features or price point will encourage shoppers unless it shows up in a Beyonce video.

It's so cool, I have become a tad obsessed with it, so I hope it does well for the sake of... coolness?
December 5, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A mistakenly released trailer hints that Street Fighter V will be PS4 & PC exclusive (briefly)

Street Fighter V logo As fast as it was discovered, a trailer for Street Fighter V was pulled from Youtube leaving many reports with the same "missing" video message. Street Fighter 5 was trending on Twitter for quite a while this morning which fueled the idea that something was amiss.

Aside from hints that the trailer was leaked, the big news was the exclusivity of this upcoming title for PS4 and PC. Of course we've come to know that "exclusivity" is a factor of time. Back in the day SNES owners were riled when it became known that a popular Genesis title was not coming to the Nintendo platform. Today, we know that eventually, most large franchise games will become available on PS4 and Xbone.

Head-to-head fighting games were one of the first arcade genres to solidify the idea of simultaneous play as a standard. I loved Joust and Rampage for the simultaneous play and the personal - as well as on-screen - interactions it induced. Fighting games like Street Fighter brought a very social element to arcade gaming.

I picked up 2 copies of Super Street Fighter IV for my son & I so we could play locally together and via the Net. Again the social aspect adds a great dimension to the game - even on the small screen. As technology has progressed, the visuals have greatly improved, but the core of what makes this a growing franchise is the way it lets players interact. Sitting on a living room couch with a few friends is a great way to experience the awesomeness of Street Fighter from Nintendo to Sony and all the amazing stops between.

Tekken creator - oops Tekken creator Katsuhiro Harada's comment on the trailer misstep Regardless of the "missing" trailer being a leak, error, or PR stunt, one can only assume that Street Fighter V will be another epic addition to the IP! Don't fret Xbone owners... you're version will come - most likely.

December 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The PS4 gets a light-gray makeover for the original Playstation's 20th anniversary

It's hard to imagine the PlayStation has reached it's 20th anniversary. It was released on December 3, 1994 in Japan. I still remember the September 9 (9-9) campaign the following year in North America.
The PS4 gets a makeover for the original Playstation's 20th anniversary
The first CD I bought was Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard Of Ozz, It wasn't long before Kiss began emerging on that new format as well. When software programs grew in size, distributing them on CD ROM was a natural choice.

Being in the computer industry, I was aware of the storage capacity of those discs. Having backed up computers onto Syquest and Bernoulli drives, the capacity of CD ROM seemed infinite. Hearing that Sony was releasing a game console with games on CDs... well, I could only imagine how much awesomeness could be packed onto on of those magical discs.

I loved their cryptic advertising campaigns in which they never really gave you much information, but got us really hyped for the 9th of September. "You're Not Ready!"

Sony's Red E Ninth of September ad To commemorate the 20th anniversary, Sony is releasing a limited number of PS4 consoles decked out in the original gray color pallet of the first PlayStation. Only 12,300 commemorative PS4s will be sold worldwide. take a look at that number - symbolic of the first PlayStation's launch date... 12/3. In North America, it will cost you $499.

It comes packaged in a pretty slick box with matching gray accessories. If only it would play the original PlayStation discs... then, I'd be pretty impressed.Backwards compatibility has always been Nintendo's strength.

I think it's time to play some Twisted Metal on PSone!
December 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Another Alamogordo Atari landfill auction completed- this time I lost on a Yar's Revenge cart

At the outset of the latest City of Alamogordo auction of Atari games, excavated from their landfill, I had high hopes of getting a Yar's Revenge cart. Again... it wasn't meant to be. I was denied a Defender game in the first auction.

Yar's Revenge from the Alamogordo landfill It seemed that the initial phase of these carts was slower than the first auction. I was hoping that people might be wrapped up in holiday shopping and ignore the fact that another lot of Atari's history was on eBay.

I was in pretty good shape having started off at $35 for a loose cart. I was confident no one would notice this item and I'd sail clear through the process without a competing bid. [I can have dreams, right?] No such luck.

I'd love to have a part of Atari's history that was laying dormant in the dirt for a major portion of my life - my life as an Atari fanatic. See the connection? Sure, it's garbage. But one man's garbage is another's gold. I just want this one nugget. But I don't lose sight of it being garbage. Those $500 to $1,500 bids that took the top prize are out of my reach and far more than I'd want to pay.

I have a copy of the fabled ET game that I picked up long ago for a few bucks, but it would be fun to have any of the carts that were exhumed. I'm sure there will be more auctions, but either way, the whole excavation event was pretty cool and I'm glad was able to peer in via social media that day. I'm sure I'll post a bid in the next auction to see if I can't share in the filthy, foul-smelling game carts.

The Alamogordo certificate of authenticity for the excavated Atari games
December 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

ZeroBit Games' Zotrix blends the best of 1980s arcade space-shooters into a unique classic

Zotrix arcade shooter game There are some amazing pixel artists out there that can take any scene and make a Nintendo-perfect 8-bit recreation of it. We see a lot of games these days that take people back to their arcade roots via modern games with 8-bit zest. I've seen great examples of this from my 2DS to my smart phone. The flashback to childhood arcades primarily comes from the imagery in these games.

I recently found Zotrix, from ZeroBit Games, which took me back to a very specific time in my arcade days in much the same way. However, it wasn't only the graphics that gave it a unique Arcade feel. The vector-like graphics help, but it was also in the game-play itself. I was transfixed on the game-play video because it had elements of several games I loved playing, but had modern elements that were wonderfully blended in.

Zotrix from ZeroBit Games My fascination with this game really comes from the game-play. With elements of Asteroids, Galaga, and Star Castle, the fast play seems reminiscent of games I loved, but then it shifts the focus and a whole new dynamic erupts.

Just when I think I "get it", the action shifts between the aforementioned arcade titles, blending elements of each all at once. Seldom do I get such a strong urge to play a game solely from a YouTube video.

The crazy part is I've only watched a video of the game play, but I'm really excited to play Zotrix! ZeroBit Games developed it for PC, Mac, and Linux. Keep an eye out for this one. It should really appeal to those who loved the manic action of space battles during the golden age of arcades!

Zotrix from ZeroBit Games
December 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
December 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nmesh- Welcome To Warp Zone! An enormous nostalgic musical mix of retro gaming awesome

The latest Nmesh album/mix release, Welcome To Warp Zone!, has been released via popular underground music publication Tiny Mix Tapes on Bandcamp. It's a mammoth 4½-hour nostalgia-obsessed DJ mix of retro video game, PC music, chock full of classic OST's, commercials, PSA's and SFX with a psychedelic touch.
Nmesh - Welcome To Warp Zone!
The mix is divided into 10 themed worlds. The majority of the mix tinkers on the edge of comedy. For example the inclusion of the classic G.I.Joe dubs, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out music layered overtop the infamous Tyson-Holyfield fight, and bonus narration from Duke Nukem and Caleb from the Blood PC game. But builds up to a rather dark ending where the listener eventually destroys the guest villain.

Nmesh - Welcome To Warp Zone! This should be a nice holiday treat to the retro gaming / electronic community, as well as 30-somethings everywhere, who still have cherished memories of unwrapping Nintendo games under the Christmas tree.

A bit of background info:
Nmesh is an electronic musician out of Louisville, active for the past 13 years, who has worked with the likes of The Future Sound Of London, Candiria, DJ Food, and Youth (of The Orb, Killing Joke, The Fireman w/ Paul McCartney, etc) to name a few. Ex-drummer of metal/hardcore bands Execrate, Nemesis, and also Tuscarora (alongside Daisy Caplan of Foxy Shazam) in the late 90's to mid-2000's.

Released a couple critically acclaimed records on AMDISCS over the past couple years, "Nu.wav Hallucinations" and "Dream Sequins", both of which have been featured in numerous year-end lists (including Tiny Mix Tapes & Flavorwire).

November 2014 Retro Gaming Articles:

November 30, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Branded for extinction, G4 clung to the airwaves after being stripped of gaming content

G4 TV tried hard to cater to a wide audience with a man-cave vibe and focus on video games. I was disappointed to hear of G4's pending demise in the Fall of 2012. As the only option for gaming-inspired television, it had many drawbacks, but it it exposed gaming via a medium that could easily escalate interest in gaming.

It's line-up was imperfect, but I think it was (and still is) important for gaming to be exposed to a wide audience, including those who are not gamers. Look at the way skateboarding has blown up to the point at which it has huge impact on the sneaker market. Skating reached beyond the kids with backyard ramps and went mainstream to the point where ESPN televises the Winter & Summer X-games.

Similarly, ESPN also televises e-sports. Stadiums are selling out to those who want to watch others compete in these games. Clearly video games have reached way beyond kids huddled around a 19" TV. A network like G4 was a destination for anyone who wanted to know more about gaming. Info scattered about the internet can tell you anything you'll ever want to know about gaming's past, present, and future - but a TV network dedicated to gaming adds a lot of much needed validation.

It's a shame G4 couldn't be resurrected, but it paved the way for another attempt. As cable TV fades into internet delivery of currently-televised programing, the silos of the current system should also fade. This leaves a much more open landscape for more niche broadcasting - including a myriad of video game "channels".

The future may hold much more than G4 could ever have delivered. I miss the quirks of Attack Of The Show, but it may have been the necessary groundwork for more televised gaming content.

G4 TV logo
November 30, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Droppin' Santa is an 8-bit Retro Xmas game for Android- present bombing at it's best

I'm a fan of themed games - especially at the holidays. This mobile game has 8-bit Santa delivering presents to houses while maintaining flight and avoiding obstacles. Bombing houses with presents is harder than it looks!

Check out Droppin' Santa on Android and coming to iOS.

Droppin Santa game for Android & iOS Someone is trying to ruin Christmas! Help Santa to save the day and deliver all the presents. Inspired by 1980's arcade games, this 8-bit infinite scroller will give you an authentic retro experience and a lot of fun this Christmas.
Droppin Santa game for Android & iOS
With a mild Flappy Bird aesthetic, you tap the A button to maintain altitude (and avoid obstacles) while dropping presents with the B button. Get those presents down the chimneys!

You start with 3 reindeer (lives) and lose them with each collision. Amidst a holiday chiptune and great 8-bit imagery, this infinite scroller will keep your holiday-cheer-meter pegged at 10 :)

While the game is quite simple, it was part of a design challenge in which it was created in 30 days on a very limited budget.

I'd like to see slightly better sled control, but the graphics are great and I love the Xmas chiptune playing in the background. This is the sort of game that restores my faith faith in gaming. Sometimes it's just about creating something that's awesome, simple and fun.

It's currently available for Android and is slated for iOS release as well.
November 29, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I wasn't expecting to see a Colecovision Flashback discounted at my grocery store so soon

Colecovision Flashback at my grocery store Last year my local grocery store was selling older versions of the Atari Flashback (FB4's I believe). I hoped this would become a trend, since they were very inexpensive. Yesterday, I discovered Flashbacks had made a return to the toy aisle of my local grocer, this holiday season.

To my surprise, the recently released Colecovision Flashback was on the shelf for $29.99! They also had the the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console, but it's been out for a while. I wouldn't have expected it here at such a discount in it's first holiday sales cycle. I was hoping to find it cheap next year, but here it is.

Grocery stores have notoriously low margins and can't afford to bring on products that don't perform. This makes me suspicious about the sales figures on the ColecovisionFB (haven't seen the Intellivision FB at the grocery yet).

I'm wondering if the Coleco product is not as recognizable as the Atari Flashbacks. Atari Flashbacks seem to have sold well enough to have arrived at version #5. Perhaps the Coleco doesn't have the same mass-appeal as the Atari version. If true, the same might be said of the Intellivision FB. It seemed curious that they released both Colecovision and intellivision FBs at the same time. I would have thought they would space them out and introduce one per year.

It will be interesting to see how these new mini-consoles from AtGames perform. Seeing them both arrive on retail shelves simultaneously and then at my grocery store makes me think they are not performing as well as expected. It may be wise to purchase them sooner rather than later.

November 29, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Ouya's proprietary game store reaches 1,000 game milestone

Getting their start as a slick alternative to mainstream game consoles, Ouya capitalized on the popularity of mobile gaming. Running a modified Android OS, the Ouya took the faster development cycle of mobile games and aimed it at the living room TV. Quicker development cycle for a bigger screen - the worst part of mobile gaming is the tiny screens.

Their journey hasn't been without problems. Initial delays became larger issues with consumer dissatisfaction with the controllers and hardware specs.

Despite this, Ouya now has reached the 1,000 game milestone in their online game store.

Ouya's boasts 1,000 games This is the first I've hear from the Ouya camp in quite a while. I don't even recall the last time I saw an Ouya on a retail shelf. Amidst rumors that they were seeking to turn the brand in to a platform that would run on other devices, there were also rumors of demise and a buyout. It's hard to say how things are at Ouya, but they've achieved a milestone that few indie companies have achieved with 1.000 games in their shop.

Keep in mind that these games are not only from smaller independent, developers. Ouya attracted several AAA devs (SEGA, Telltale) who have lent needed credibility to the platform. They began with a requirement that all games must have a free component, like a free level or demo version.

This strategy was abandoned and I felt it was a slap to the consumers who had been promised previews of games prior to purchase. One could say that it was unreasonable to expect that scenario to last, but the reasons given seemed weak and not motivated by any benefit to consumers.

I hope they can maintain the Ouya console and grow it into a contender. With other companies bringing android game boxes to market, it's hard to say if that will diffuse the Ouya's market to ruin or if Ouya was simply the first to break into this open market. Time will tell and I'm still loving all the emulators that it will run!
November 28, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It's interesting to see video gaming continue to appear in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ad 2014 Each year there seem to be new additions to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while older classics disappear without mention. Popeye was a favorite balloon many years ago, while video games are joining the roster of floating participants. Social Media posts hinted that a Skylander would be afloat this year!

The TV broadcast began inside with Taylor Swift shaking it off as we anticipated the arrival of Kiss to add some rock 'n roll appeal to all the marching bands and Broadway musical numbers.

This year Thomas the Tank Engine led the parade in big blue splendor while Ronald McDonald followed in a "Superman pose". This was followed by Snoopy, the Red Power Ranger, and Toothless the dragon. A few balloons passed and it became clear that Eruptor was floating along representing the Skylanders. Go Activision!

Skylanders Eruptor in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Overhead view of Skylanders Eruptor in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Skylanders Eruptor in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Skylanders Eruptor in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from the street.

Spiderman was followed by Finn and Jake representing Adventure Time. The KoolAid Man is still present as was SpongeBob SquarePants. However, Sonic The Hedgehog was absent. He was the first video game character to apear in the parade back in 1993 and later updated in 2011.

Picachu in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Picachu in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
I guess it's highly unlikely that an enormous Atari logo will be floating down the parade route. How about a few iconic 8-bit characters form the early 80s? Yeah, it's all about money, brands, and advertising. But I'll be spending the rest of the weekend.
November 27, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy Thanksgiving! Forget the crowds - stay home and play video games!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at 8-Bit Central!

Happy Thanksgiving The best sales of the season are always closer to Christmas, so stay home with friends and family and be sure to play lots of retro video games this holiday weekend!
November 26, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pixel Perfect's book, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, was denied Nintendo's sanction, now it's a free PDF

Punch-Out arcade game Punch-Out was released in February 1984 in the arcades. It became a classic that went on to be ported to subsequent Nintendo consoles. The arcade version featured the player's boxer in wire-frame so the opponent is visible.

I always thought it was odd that the viewpoint wasn't from the side or a ¾ view. I suppose it makes the Left and Right buttons more intuitive during play, but this also caused issues when ported to the NES.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out game cartridge for NES The NES didn't have the horsepower to run the arcade version in the same manner, so they decided to shrink the player's boxer so the opponent could be seen over him. This gave the opponent a looming menacing vantage point. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out was released in Oct. 1987(North America).

It was rumored that Tyson was paid $50K for a 3-year contract to use his likeness in the game. After this time, they opted not to renew the deal, as Tyson was recently defeated. Mr. Dream replaced Mike.

Punch-Out was released on the Virtual Consoles for the Wii , Wii U and 3DS. This game definitely has a strong following even today!

Pixel Perfect: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! Book

Imagine knowing everything there is to know about this game. I mean everything! If you took your compiled knowledge of Punch-Out and put it into a book.. how many pages could you fill? 25 pages? 50 pages? How about 240 pages!?!

Pixel Perfect created an unofficial encyclopedia of the NES classic Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! to celebrate its 25th anniversary. They had Kickstarter campaign that met funding goals, but they were unable to get Nintendo's approval to release the book. Nintendo cited complicated licensing issues, but the Pixel Perfect folks marched on.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out book from Pixel Perfect It's fitting that Mike Tyson got a copy, but also a shame that they weren't able to release the limited run of 200 hardcover books. It's an amazing looking book. How do I know this? There's a bit of good news despite the cancelation of the Kickstarter and returning funds to all Kickstarter backers. The "book" has been released as a PDF!

Go to the Pixel Perfect website and fetch the PDF link by clicking on the Start button on the controller image. Voila - you now have more info than imaginable on Mike Tyson's Punch-Out game. Don't you wish more NES games would get this treatment?
November 25, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Numerous entrees for “Game Of The Year” won't beat our pick, Star Castle - here's why

Yes, we are familiar with Bayonetta 2, Shovel Knight and Super Smash Bros. All are excellent games, but we like old stuff...

Each year I've watched the Video Game Awards on Spike TV, I've cringed with regret. For all the amazing games and talented developers in this diverse industry, it's hard to imagine how an awards show can be so low-quality. I want it to be a grand celebration of gaming, but all awards shows are fairly awful.

Game of the Year This year, The Game Awards 2014 will be streamed on the web, on Dec. 5, without the involvement of Spike TV. There is a detailed list of award categories on Polygon for those looking to see who was nominated by the group of 28 publications (including Polygon).

Star Castle for Atari 2600
** Game Of The Year 2014 **

Alas, all the hoopla over Best Game, Niftiest Cover Art, and Best Supporting Sprite in a First Person Shooter is all for naught since the clear winner for 2014 is Star Castle for the Atari 2600.

Allow me to elaborate...
Many will declare that Star Castle was never released for the Atari 2600 and that is precisely where our story begins.

Atari programmer Howard Scott Warshaw was tasked to create the arcade hit, Star Castle for the Atari 2600. He concluded that it was not possible to make a viable version of the game on the 2600's limited capabilities. His work did not go to waste, he turned this effort into a new original game, Yar's Revenge (1981). It became a runaway hit!

The following year, Warshaw was tasked with creating a movie tie-in game for E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Atari had rights to create the game, based on the Spielberg flick, and wanted it in time for holiday release. This afforded Warshaw 5 weeks to deliver the game - an impossible goal. But he still delivered it!

The game was not well received and was later labeled the "worst video game ever," which is a ridiculous statement. Anyone who has actually played the game knows it's merely a mediocre title. The manual aided in understanding the goals and there was a glitch or two, but it's not a bad game. However, the Crash of '83 ensued and rumors spawned that ET was to blame for bringing down Atari. It was said that Atari massively overproduced copies of the game and then buried millions of overstock cartridges in a landfill - in 1983. All untrue!

Star Castle for Atari 2600 screenshot In 2013, another former Atari programmer Scott Williamson, took on the challenge to see if he could create Star Castle for Atari 2600 (2013). He did and went beyond simply replicating the game. He designed a very cool translucent interactive game cartridge for it.

In April of 2014 an amalgamation of workers, documentary filmers, journalists, archeologists, and Atari fanatics watched as excavators pulled 30-year-old Atari games out of the Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill. Many different games were un-earthed... including ET. A documentary film was released which vindicated Warshaw as creator of the "worst" game and heaped praise upon his programming skills.

Thus, the failed attempt by Warshaw resulted in the amazing Yar's Revenge and prompted Williamson to code Star Castle while a team prepped to prove the Atari landfill legend and vindicate Warshaw's ET game. Star Castle for Atari 2600 - Game of the Year!

How might social networks have effected Star Castle becoming Yar's Revenge in the 80s?

November 24, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's Swapnote devolved into a 3DS scandal- I hope Teyon's Chat-A-Lot will fill the void

Chat-A-lot icon Once my son and I each had a 2DS, I wanted to find something a little more interactive than simply StreetPassing each other. Swapnote seemed like the ticket.

Excited about the premise of using a 2DS to communicate with him when he was at his Mother's house, we both installed it. Unfortunately, like many good things, the minority of morons had abused it to the point where Nintendo restricted it's SpotPass use, eliminating any long distance interaction.

Chat-A-lot screenshot When I heard about Chat-A-Lot, from Teyon and Japanese developers WaiSI, I hoped that it would fill the void where Swapnote now falls short. I'm excited to install it on our handhelds. It features text and voice chat with those on your Friends List. It also includes the ability to create groups.

I'm interested to see how it differs (if at all) from the Swapnote app and if there are similar concerns of abuse via this app. Nintendo is very protective of it's brand, but shutting down the SpotPass capability of Swapnote really crippled the app and punished the entire user base. Nintendo should know that any communication capability will always be abused and exploited.

Part of the problem stemmed from kids publicly posting their friend codes on the web. If you post your email or phone number... someone's gonna call. It's a simple premise that probably escapes those who forget that Nintendo's family values can't protect you when you go out of your way to invite trouble.

In an age where young kids frequently use their parent's web-connected phones and tablets, they have to be aware of how to responsibly use such technology. I'm sure oblivious parents are as much to blame. We're all quick to leap at any innovation without stopping to evaluate it's impact or potential drawbacks.

Thinking - never a waste of time. Do more thinking.

November 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Pick up a Nintendo Holiday Gift Guide from your local toy or video game store

Stop off at your local toy or video game store and grab a copy of Nintendo's Holiday Gift Guide and check it out online! It has a sampling of consoles and games for the 2DS, 3DS, and the Wii U. You'll find consoles, games, accessories, and amiibos.

It's not a robust collection of "all things Nintendo", but it's a pocket-size guide that you might like to stash in your collection ;)

Nintendo Holiday Gift Guide Nintendo's Holiday Gift Guide
November 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's Amiibos arrived on retail shelves Nov. 21, so I went to take a look at the mall

Nintendo's Amiibo logo When the new Atari, Colecovision and Intellivision Flashbacks arrived on the shelves at my local Toys R Us, there was a curious void in the neighboring shelving with an Amiibo poster slapped up in that space. It seemed odd that they were establishing space for a product that was 4 weeks from arrival, but I checked in now and then to see what updates (if any) might appear.

It wasn't like the Wii U display that sat as an empty shell for several weeks prior to it's launch date. Amiibos arrived on November 21, 2014 and I was on the scene a day later. Would they be sold out? Both Best Buy and Toys R Us had stocked shelves of Amiibos! I have to say they look good. I dig the poses and expressions. Well done!

Overcoming Activision

Activision has trained us to have a fairly rigid view on how physical figures work with video games... and Disney reinforced that notion. So, what is an Amiibo?

Nintendo's Donkey Kong Amiibo Like Activision's Skylanders, Amiibos are similar figures that integrate with any game that is coded to work with them. We wouldn't likely want to see Skylanders romping around in other games, but Nintendo IPs are accustomed to some cross-over. Games like Mario Party, Smash Bros, and Mario Kart gather up Nintendo characters into a single game.

So just as we expect to see Skylanders within the Skylands, we don't balk when Princess Peach is kicking ass in Smash Bros. For this reason, Amiibos can bring characters into varying titles as easily as they can add customization to a character or act as a power-up.

While Disney chose to follow Activision's lead, Amiibos can have games designed specifically for them or enter into games that allow their inclusion.

The popularity of video game figures and portals has enabled enough cost reduction to bring the concept to the familiar all-in-one units. Jaks Pacific has released the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Hero Portal game which is based on a similar premise.

It should be interesting to see where these technologies go in the next few years. Nintendo seems off to a good start in brining a next-gen feel to video game figures. The Wii U game pad has RFID built into it, so it supports Amiibos without any additional hardware. The 2DS/3DS will get some form of Amiibo compliance in early 2015.

Nintendo's Amiibo display at Toys R Us Nintendo's Amiibo display at Toys R Us.
Nintendo's Amiibo display at Toys R Us Nintendo's Amiibo display at Toys R Us. And a Domo photo-bomb version.

My Amiibo scenario wasn't working out too well. Toxie just wouldn't appear in any of my Atari 2600 or NES games on my Caanoo.

The Toxic Avanger on a Caanoo handheld My Amiibo isn't working. What am I doing Wrong? -- The Toxic Avenger on a Cannoo handheld.
November 22, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's Pokemon Snap Stations let players print stickers by bringing their Game Pak to a store

Blockbuster membership card Nintendo has a great way of thinking "outside the box" when it comes to marketing promotions. We're accustomed to seeing console kiosks that let consumers try upcoming titles, but rarely do such kiosks promote sales and elongate a game's life span. The Pokemon Snap Station did just that in North American Blockbuster Video rental stores.

Now viewed as a bleak lesson in retail history, Blockbuster was formerly a bright hub for making weekends special. Many of us remember going to these rental outlets for the latest movie or video game and even game consoles themselves. Your Blockbuster rental card granted access to weekends packed full of fun for the kids (and adults).
Nintendo's Pokemon Snap Station
Watching a cool new action flick followed by an all-night gaming session was a great way to make weekends special. As time marched on, Blockbuster offered games for the latest systems along with rentable game consoles. Marching time also brought competition. Netflix's initial venture replaced a drive to Blockbuster with a walk to your home's mailbox and later removed the need to go outside with streaming services. As much fun as it was to see all the titles at Blockbuster, it wasn't a similar highlight for a lot of parents.

I'm one of those people who delights in being surrounded by a flurry of movie and game titles. Similarly, I enjoy the convenience of Amazon, but I'd much prefer to be in a book store surrounded by possibilities.

So anyway...
I'm amazed that an entity as large as Blockbuster would neglect upcoming technology to the point of their own demise. After all, they pioneered ways to make video game rentals a viable business. They were even pretty creative in that they took on a partnership with Nintendo for game-centric kiosks that not only promoted titles, but engaged players to keep playing (or renting) Pokemon Snap and later, Pokemon Stadium.

Pokemon Snap Stations

Called a Pokemon Snap Station (Nov. 1999), this kiosk allowed players of these 2 games to bring game data on a memory card to Blockbuster (other stores participated in other regions) and print a sheet of stickers. These stickers contained in-game images taken by the players and laid out in 4 sets of 4 different pictures. This is a level of interactivity that few games could muster. A player at home would go to Blockbuster to garner a pretty cool item (custom stickers) based on their game play. It seems like a genius way to bring gamers back to one of the more prevalent game rental stores of that era.

Pokemon Snap Station game cart On the left the game cartridge is disengaged from the vertically mounted N64. On the right, the cart is inserted. A customer would play the game at home and save the photos. They could then bring their cartridge or memory card to Blockbuster and buy a snap station card. These cards were one-time-use and had a credit on it. Both the game cartridge and snap station card would be inserted which prompted them to pick which photos they want printed. The Snap Station would print out the sheet of stickers.

These kiosks were modified N64 game consoles whose only visible link to the platform was the N64 controller fastened to the front of the kiosk. In addition to the stickers, one could play the game in 15-minuit timed sessions to dissuade loitering.

The promotion ended in late 2000. Interestingly, these kiosks are quite rare and you don't find them for sale too often. Additionally, they used some proprietary components, not to mention the paper and cards needed to generate output. Nintendo took some units back, but it was also possible to convert them into demo stations that would play any game Blockbuster wished to showcase. After the N64's popularity, many kiosks were likely trashed.

Pokemon Snap Station paper and cards

Pokemon Snap Station Instructions

Print the pictures you have saved in your Gallery!

With Pokemon Snap, you can print out your pictures at Pokemon Snap Stations!

First, on the Gallery screen, select the four pictures you would like to print and then Save. Next, bring your Pokemon Snap Game Pak to the nearest Pokemon Snap Station. Visit or call 1-800-859-4521 for locations.

Purchase a prepaid card at the counter. Insert your Game Pak and prepaid card into the appropriate slots in the Pokemon Snap Station. (Follow the directions on the Pokemon Snap Station.)

Select the Print option and press the A Button.

When you are done, press the "Finish" Button on the Pokemon Snap Station, then remove your Game Pak.

Each time you print, you will receive four stickers of each of the four photos in your Gallery. You can print any picture you like, but pictures of a Pokemon centered in the middle of the picture will print best. Collect and trade stickers with your friends!
November 21, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Jaleco was a video game developer of arcade, console, & computer games- and an acronym

Jaleco info Retro Magazine frequently posts retro gaming factoids and this one caught my eye this morning. I had no idea Jaleco was an acronym for:

I recognize their logo instantly and had a few of their NES games, but it never occurred to me that their name might be abbreviated. I was similarly surprised, long ago, upon discovering that Coleco was originally the Connecticut Leather Company.

From the original NES era, I purchased both ShatterHand and Metal Mech, Man & Machine. I loved ShatterHand as a side scroller with some vertical reach as well. Metal Mech enchanted me because... who doesn't like controlling a mech? But it was the brief side missions in which you had to get out of the mech to travel that fascinated me.

In it's heyday, Jaleco was a well known game developer - even I recall their Bases Loaded series on the NES, and I'm not a fan of sports games. That baseball title was ported to the Game Boy Advance and later appeared on the Wii's Virtual Console.

Jaleco's Shatterhand game for NES Jaleco's Shatterhand game for NES.
Jaleco's Metal Mech, Man & Machine game for NES Jaleco's Metal Mech, Man & Machine game for NES.

Founded in 1974, they were active developers by 1982 with offices in Tokyo and North America (Illinois). Jaleco went through some business changes, but even in 2000 they were active in game development - although their days of popular titles like Bases Loaded were behind them. The name lives on today, but they seem to be part of a holding company with no involvement in gaming or entertainment.

Go sift through your game collection and see what Jaleco gems might be lurking in there. We're always down for some Shatterhand - What Jaleco titles are heading for your NES today?
November 20, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I'd rather not buy a new Starter Pack with every Skylanders game, but Trap Team is worth it

Toys R Us Christmas catalog For the last few years (maybe more) Toys R Us has mailed their Great Big Christmas Book in an envelope that unfolds into a Skylanders' promotional piece and checklist for the latest figures. This year they are promoting the Trap Team figures. I've always enjoyed this delivery at the holidays and feel the Skylanders' envelope/checklist is brilliant!

My local Toys R Us recently split Skylanders and Disney Infinity into separate aisles to accomodate the wide range of products. Each IP has their own way of implementing the RFID scheme for bringing characters into play via a physical action figure. As the Skylanders IP has evolved, they have changed the technology enough to require a new Portal (with Starter Pack) for 3 of the 4 games released (SKylanders Giants was the exception).

The kiosk for each of these games plays a big role in letting customers understand the Portal and how it integrates with the game. I thought it was particularly helpful with the Swap Force game so customers could see how the mix-and-match figures effect game play.

Broken Skylanders Trap Team kiosk at Toys R Us In my opinion, the Portal has been little more than a clever gimmick. I admit it's a slick way to change characters, but that's something we've always been able to do. With the Trap Team release, the Portal handles characters swapping in the same way with the addition of "trapping" enemies for later play. More importantly, is it's use of sound!

The Trap Team Portal has a speaker that comes into play when trapping an enemy and playing with that enemy. From random utterances to the volume fade as the enemy is drawn into the trap. It's a very cool effect and when you have the Portal closer to the players than the TV, you get a nice audio swoosh from the screen to the Portal's dungeon. Well done, Activision.

I was glad to see another facet added to the Portal, because the concept was getting a bit stale. My son loved the Skylanders figures, but with only one game being released for each set of figures, it was becoming an expensive one-trick-pony. The innovation with the Trap Team Portal's use of sound has reinvigorated my interest in the Skylanders.

The Skylanders kiosk at my local Toys R Us has been broken for almost 2 months. It sat in the aisle with a series of screens rotating various error codes. Now it is powered down and dormant. With the holiday season fast approaching, it's hard to understand why the unit has not been replaced. Perhaps Skylanders have reached that magical realm in which they simply sell regardless of marketing promotions.

In my opinion Trap Team offers a lot more than prior versions and the kiosk would help sell to parents who are tired of spending $80 on yet another starter pack.
November 19, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

If CNN's Don Lemon is fired, we can only hope he doesn't start covering video games

CNN have long been ratings mongers. They exploit view's fears and cover tabloid-stories rather than news that truly effects people's lives. Journalism has been on the back-burner there for years now as they circle the same drain that Fox's fabricated news has been circling since their inception. Informing is no longer a goal of most televised "news" channels.

Don Lemon has a tendency to speak before thinking prompting the resurgence of popular hashtag, #DonLemonReporting.

CNN is circling the drain His latest flub was telling a rape victim how to avoid forced oral sex. Sure Don, that's newsworthy.

Stay away from Gaming, Don

If Don Lemon covered the game industry, this is what we'd expect from his unique inability to understand the "big picture".

• If you can't afford a PS4, you should focus on not being poor. #DonLemonReporting

• The problem with the Atari Jaguar surrounded this animal's popularity. No one goes to the zoo to see a Jaguar. #DonLemonReporting

• Since 1983 was detrimental to the gaming industry, we should skip years like that. #DonLemonReporting

• The NES could have been a real success if Nintendo hadn't confused people by renaming it SNES. #DonLemonReporting

• If the Colecovision was such a great system, other companies really wasted time making those other consoles. #DonLemonReporting

• Why do people write books about video games? Don't they know you need a TV for that? #DonLemonReporting

• If games dug up from a landfill are worth thousands, Atari should have kept them and sold them in stores. #DonLemonReporting

• Stop complaining about backward compatibility. You can't play games if you don't face forward. #DonLemonReporting

• GameStop would have a brighter future in the age of digital downloads if they'd thought more about their name. GameGo is clearly the way to go. #DonLemonReporting

• They should only make video games for phones since everyone owns a phone. #DonLemonReporting

• Didn't the marketers behind 16 and 32 bit systems know that "Bit" is an abbreviation of "bitch". #DonLemonReporting

• Intellivision sounds a lot like television, so who would think it was a game console when it sounds like a television? #DonLemonReporting

• GamerGate was a bad idea. Sure, you need to keep toddlers away from dangerous stairs, but putting a gate around your games is ridiculous. #DonLemonReporting

Don Lemon Reporting Watch the PBS Newshour - it's the only televised news worth watching.
November 18, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cubic Ninja for the 3DS goes from $4 to $50 as the key to a handheld homebrew channel

UbiSoft's innocuous title Cubic Ninja came and went will little fanfare in June of 2011. It was touted as a revolutionary game in which you didn't need to touch a single button. This puzzle game could use the gyroscope for all control... or the circle pad if you preferred.

Cubic Ninja for 3DS Recently, this $4 used title began to climb the charts! Game developers delight in this sort of jump in value. Could a secret level have been discovered? Is there an amazing sequel on the horizon that's driven gamers to experience the original? Nope... and it never got very good reviews.

Today, Cubic Ninja was on Amazon's Best Sellers Rank at #28 in the Video Games category. With all the Gen-8 games coming to market for the holiday season, something was awry. As Ted Theodore Logan might have put it, "Strange things are afoot at the Circle K."

A French coder has been working on an exploit that will allow a 3DS Homebrew channel and games. Keep in mind that this is not an emulator, nor will it play 3DS ROMs. This is about innovation, not piracy - although some folks don't recognize a difference.

I just heard of this 3DS homebrew exploit today and I'm fully wrapped up in the secrecy and technology that will soon allow this to happen. Some aspect (or defect) to the Cubic Ninja game allows a "tunnel" to an exploit to bring a homebrew channel to the handheld.

You'll discover that the game is not available for download on the eShop, but sources say a game cart is required. This fact ties in neatly with the soaring cost of a Cubic Ninja game cart. Apparently we are mere days away from finding out how UbiSoft's game cart will give access to a world of late-night programming of homebrew creativity.

It's no secret that Nintendo will not be pleased with this. Further, they will likely try to thwart if via system updates. It should be interesting to see if Nintendo can block this homebrew channel without ruining the Cubic Ninja experience for those who simply enjoy the game.

Another useful lesson is to remember that not everything you read on the Internet it true. I have no inside information. I'm writing this from other sources that seem reliable. Of course the key to this exploit may actually be Atari's Centipede Infestation cart. So, before you drop $50 on a mediocre game, do your own homework! :)
November 16, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sears phenomenal discount error on Nintendo's 3DS-XL generated furor among those unable to reap the benefits

Um... yeah, I'll take the blue one.

Sears discounted 3DS XL This $59 Nintendo 3DS XL was quickly disabled on the Sears website and certainly offered a Lower price than amazon.. I wonder how many orders they processed before realizing the deep discount was a mistake. Apparently this was not an isolated incident at Sears - they also had a mis-priced Wii U at a similarly amazing discount.

Last Spring, Sears had a blow-out price on the old Wii U Nintendoland bundle to make room for the new pack-in game. I wondered if this could be similar, but the price was much too low - something was awry.

I certainly tried to add one of those sweet blue 3DS XLs to my cart on the Sears website, but alas, the error was known and in the process of being remedied. A tad disappointed, I went about my day not giving thought to the boundless possibilities that Sears has actually offered forth.

Price matching. Sure, I'm familiar with the concept, but I don't bother since the savings often aren't very much. However, there were those who took to the streets in an effort to amass as much discounted Nintendo product as possible. They went from box-store to box-store asking weary employees to match the offer that Sears was running (in error).

Some stores were familiar with Nintendo pricing and knew something was afoot, while others honored their store's price matching policy allowing customers to buy multiple units at ridiculously low prices. At some point, one likes to think that a consumer's moral compass will engage and they may realize that using Sears' error to obtain discounts at other retail stores borders on fraud and may even be illegal in certain circumstances. If Sears makes an error, they have to own up to the consequences of their sales, but I'm not sure other retailers should be duped in the same scheme. It's a complicated mess.

A hoard of discounted 3DS XLs * Wii Us Yes, this is an assembly of all the discounted Nintendo product this person amassed on Sunday.

Retail Protection

Lets look at this from the perspective of Sears as a retailer. They get regular shipments and have a fairly accurate expectation of how long that stock will last. This is why you don't find rampant "Sold Out" signs posted in box-stores. They always have stock on hand. This is part of their inventory software that takes cues from their Point Of Sale system. As they sell down inventory, they are alerted to order more - I'm sure much of this is automated.

Wouldn't you think part of this system would detect large price discrepancies? This was greater than a 50% discount! I would have thought that any proper retail system would recognize the discrepancy in comparative pricing and note that the item was not on sale. There should have been some checks and balances that would root out this issue on the first order. I guess Sears, like other retailers, have no such protection for their price points.

Here's the interesting facet that most consumers don't think about - especially when we hear of hackers gaining access to the private information of millions of customers. If retailers don't have software to protect themselves from discounting errors, like we saw at Sears, what makes you think they have ANY protections in place for YOU - their Customer?

The truth is, they don't! They have insurance to cover issues arising from data breaches. Insurance is a much more cost effective way to mitigate such a scenario. No, that insurance protects the retailer, not YOU! So, it should be fairly obvious that retailers do not care about customers. They care about money.

Disgruntled Gamers Lament Retail Resolution

The day after, the internet is afoul with disgruntled gamers who were not able to capitalize on this amazing savings (error). Posts on websites and social media were rife with disdain for those who gloated about buying five 3DS XLs or four Wii Us. Angry admins forbade the sale of these devices in their Facebook groups, while others stated that this greed would result in children being deprived of such electronic delights come Christmas.

Um, are you kidding me!?! These lofty windbags are simply angry that they missed out on buying cheap merch to be resold at grand profit or to be enjoyed themselves. The amount of whining in the vein of "do gooding" was pathetic. Accusations flew that "real gamers" would hook up their button-mashing brethren with their retail spoils.

We live in an era of extreme capitalism and social media breeds self-importance. Such factors make any divide seem greater than reality might reveal. I can understand both sides of the gleeful and the irritated, but it seemed as though some folks on both sides needed a double dose of STFU.
November 13, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The Alamogordo Landfill auctions are completed for the first run of Atari detritus

How could I resist bidding? I couldn't, so I went so far as to bid $50 with the hope that no one else would be interested. That was not the case.

I was pretty excited about these discarded carts coming to auction. I understand that they are non-functional, crushed, and likely foul smelling. That's not really the point. This "garbage" is part of an urban legend that was discussed over many beers on many game nights. It's a part of Atari history!

If nothing else, these carts were buried in a landfill for 30+ years and they were found! They found them. Many will see this as money wasted on garbage, but were all different people and not everyone grew up with Atari.

My bid for a Defender cart excavated from the Alamogordo Landfill I was fairly sure the ET carts would break $!,000, but I have to admit I was surprised to see how far past 1K they went.

The lowest price was a Missile Command game that went for $157.50.
Missile Command from the Alamogordo Landfill The highest price was an ET game that went for $1,537.00.
E.T. The Extra terrestrial from the Alamogordo Landfill This first auction was only a sample of what the Tularosa Basin Historical Society has stated they will auction off. Their lot of ~100 games was to test the market and gauge the price they will command. They have indicated they will auction off 800 more carts. It's hard to say if they will do this in smaller lots or simply begin posting items and see how it goes. I don't believe they've released any strategy or clues.

E.T. carts from the first Atari Landfill auction on eBay surpassed $1,500 for a single game

November 12, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Flappy Bird has certainly made the rounds and has been released for the Atari 2600... on a cartridge

If you've followed the Flappy Bird phenomenon, you'll recall it's quick rise to fame and fortune (for the developer) and then disappeared just as quickly under somewhat peculiar circumstances. After it was removed from both Apple and Android sites, having a copy of Flappy Bird on your phone was a status symbol of sorts.
Flappo Bird for the Atari 2600
Developers reacted accordingly and released dozens of clones featuring other birds, animals, Sesame Street characters, and Miley Cyrus among others. in the midst of the Flappy Bird idiocy, clones were released for a variety of retro platforms.

Naturally, I was delighted to see Flappo Bird for the Atari 2600, earlier this year, along with several other platforms like the Vectrex. The original was frustrating and fun in a way that compelled people to keep playing despite. I loved that this odd game took on a life of it's own as it became ported to several retro platforms.

Flappy for Atari 2600 in cartridge Format

Flappy for the Atari 2600 Michael Haas created this version of Flappy Bird for the Atari VCS. This version has added some nice details including a city scape and fluffy clouds. The bird has also been refined. The best part of this release is that it's on a cartridge (in NTSC and PAL60 formats), with a manual!

This version was released as a ROM around February (I believe), but this announcement is about the recent cart release. There is mention of a Flappy box in the forum, but no specific mention on the ordering page, so I'm not sure if it ships with a box or not.

Flappo Bird was released around February which was the perfect time as mobile gamers were in a tizzy that Flappy Bird had been removed from the app stores. Clones abounded, but the ones for retro consoles and computers warmed my heart because the notion was funny, but the intention was genuine!

This cartridge release really adds something unique to a 2600 collection. The game is as frustrating as the original mobile app, but it's a unique tribute to the Atari 2600. The whole odd tale of Flappy Bird's rise and demise is commemorated in a real Atari VCS cartridge game. Gotta love that!

Flappy for the Atari 2600 Flappo Bird for Atari 2600 - on a cartridge! Flappy has a great look to it, but it's mechanics are a bit different, so we still like to fire up Flappo Bird for additional frustration. Developers who put their skills into homebrew games are heroes!
November 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo's 2 new Crystal Red and Blue 2DS designs give the handheld a classic look

When I was a kid I had an educational toy called the Visible Man. It was rather like a puzzle in that you had 2 transparent halves of a human body, into which you assembled all the internal organs. When the halves were joined, you could see where the organs were located and how they all fit together.

My GameBoy Color was similar to this as it's translucent case gave you a peek at the electronic innards of the Nintendo handheld. This treatment was carried forward on the GameBoy Advance. Nintendo has announced the Crystal Blue and Crystal Red 2DS models.

translucent Crystal 2DS designs These 2 variations on the existing red and blue 2DS models will arrive on November 21 for $99. With the simultaneous release of Pokemon Omega Ruby and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, one wonders why they didn't brand the colors to align with Pokemon's Ruby and Saphire as opposed to Crystal red and blue. If I had to guess, I imagine they are planning to release Pokemon themed 2DS in a different style at some point in the future.

2DS toast If all else fails and you want a 2DS with more culinary flair, you can ask your local game store to order you one of these crispy looking 2DS Toast models.

White bread is pretty plain until you add dual screens, a cart slot, and the ability to StreetPass. Toaster ovens yearn to bake up this kind of trendy electronic wonderment.

I wasn't impressed with the 3D aspect of the 3DS, but the lower priced 2DS has been a blast. If you haven't entered Nintendo's 3DS era and want to play along at a more reasonable price point, the 2DS is an awesome slab of gaming fun.

Of course you dont want to overlook the New 3DS with the extra C-stick/nub/thingie.

Although part of the latest generation of handhelds, the 3DS and 2DS have a nice selection of retro games via the eShop and quite a few retro-inspired games. I love the Regular Show game, Mordecai and Rigby in 8-bit Land, and recently downloaded 3D Streets of Rage. Good retro stuff!
November 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Senator Ted Cruz sums up the bloated ignorance of Congress regarding technology

Technology issues constantly baffle Congress. Voting might be the downfall of the Internet when we see how uninformed Congress really is about technologies we use daily for basic functions. If this is the caliber of those we elect to office, we're doomed.

Watching Congressmen discuss technical issues is a stomach turning experience, but it shows how completely out of touch they are with the world around them. We think these people are representing their constituents in Washington DC when in fact they are simply toddlers squabbling over the last cookie.

Ted Cruz, like most Congressmen, knows nothing about technology Today Ted Cruz tried to liken Net Neutrality to Obamacare. This is par for the course with politicians. Without any understanding of either concept, they use the term as an identifying moniker and try to sully their opponent with it. Say, aren't all of these idiots on the same side... trying to improve the country?

This is truly sad. No wonder this country is falling farther behind global educational standards with each passing year. Congress lives in a vacuum where the outside world is a trivial nuisance that gets in the way of them enjoying their mammoth incomes.

Next time your online game lags or that Lets Play video stops suddenly, take a moment to remember who you voted for. Remember that mouthpiece that promised the world if you'd send him to Washington to become a millionaire? He's rich and is getting paid to regulate your internet speed... because you're poor.
November 9, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

These Intellivision trading cards were made by the same guy who made the Atari 7800 cards

I've always loved trading cards from the first day I saw Wacky Packages at a local convenience store in the early 70s. There was no game involved with them - they were just funny and all my friends loved discovering a new card no one had seen.

Wacky Packages wrapper Wacky Packages were stickers, but I remember them coming with a cardboard card that I think was part of a puzzle when you collected all of them. These things became popular when introduced in 1973, but the first series had actually been released several years earlier in ~1968. They didn't catch on until the '73 release.

Sports cards didn't interest me much although I did go through a baseball card phase. My son loves Pokemon cards and the ensuing game, although I was never into trading card games when they first came on the scene. When Tank Girl cards arrived, I bought cases of them - I adore Tank Girl!! I also have some Kiss (the band) cards.

Imagine my surprise when I got an Intellivision newsletter talking about the imminent release of a game-centric set of Intellivision trading cards. Each one is specific to a game title with a pic and stats. Very cool! Here is some ordering info.

Intellivision Trading Cards Intellivision Trading Cards - Tron Deadly Discs (front).
Intellivision Trading Cards Intellivision Trading Cards - Tron Deadly Discs (back).

Wacky Packages wrapper The first set of Intellivision trading cards is comprised of about 54 cards. The exact number may vary slightly as the set is finalized.

Atari 7800 Trading Cards

So, I receive this email newsletter with a link to a awesome set of Intellivision trading cards and I'm scanning through the info delighted by the entire concept when it gets better. Apparently, this set was inspired by the now completed set of Atari 7800 trading cards created by the same person!!

Atari 7800 Trading Cards Atari 7800 Trading Cards - Tank Command (front).
Atari 7800 Trading Cards Atari 7800 Trading Cards - Tank Command (back).

Here is some more info about the Atari 7800 trading cards. I'm not sure if they are still available, but both of these sets seem perfectly suited to multiple print runs as demand grows. Great stuff!
November 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Alienware's Alpha brings PC gaming closer to a console experience... at GameStop?

Earlier today I was pondering the future of gaming and coincidentally(sarcasm) GameStop sent me this email to sway me into thinking that they are the right destination for PC hardware. Alienware are doing a nice job in designing a computer that caters to console gamers. However, the Alpha's console appearance doesn't prompt me to investigate it at Game Stop.

I still consider GameStop a game store - not a PC retailer. I'm more likely to fire up a browser to find more info and I doubt I'd go to GameStop to purchase one. Perception is a powerful thing - as any marketing exec knows.

This email mainly reminded me of Computer Factory and Comp USA - you know... computer stores. Such retail havens have gone the way of TV stores and camera stores. Gone forever.

The closest "computer store" in my area also sells refrigerators and cell phones. In the absence of Crazy Eddie, Nobody Beats The Wiz, and Circuit City, I'm left with Best Buy. I don't consider them a "computer store". Making matters worse... Radio Shack no longer sells any of the products for which they had my undying devotion a decade, or so, ago. But that's another story...

Alienware Alpha game console I know very little about PC gaming or Alienware. I'm a console guy - a retro console guy. OK, I have a Wii and a PS3, but I'm more apt to push in a cartridge than insert a disc. But, at my core is a desire to learn and explore. I yearn to put a Vita cart into a PSTV in the same way I enjoy playing Paperboy on my SNES via the Super Game Boy adapter.

My PC experience with Microsof products and Windows preferences that are 18 mouse-clicks away soured me to the whole platform. I'll blow on an NES cart, but I'm not interested in odd incompatibilities that seem to run rampant on PCs. Even Macs are getting to the point where random things go wrong. I can't burn DVDs without deleting a buried pref file prior. Ugh!

Basically, If I'm to own a PC - Alienware game console PC or otherwise - I'll need help. I'll need a lot of help. Will GameStop help me? Can I bring in my PC and ask them to diagnose a problem? Will they be able to HELP me or is this like buying a laptop at Wal Mart where there is no expectation that the greeter has ever owned a screwdriver. Is there an different colored vest for employees who can repair a laptop?

I'll go to GameStop for a 3DS and a few games - both items that we are conditioned to know are un-repairable. I know I can find a $300 laptop, but I'm still stuck in an era where a "computer" should be repairable and I want to know the seller will be capable in times of blue screens of death.

This post totally got away from me, but I think GameStop has some customer-conditioning to attend to before they can send me an e-mail touting their PC sales. After all the unplayably scratched games I've had to return, I wouldn't buy a table at GameStop let alone a computer. That isn't to say they can't change customer perceptions, but I'd resolve that task before rolling out another new product.

I guess alternate game buying options from the cloud are further constraining GameStop's finances. Damn clouds - I liked the way things were... when Crazy Eddie's prices were INSANE!! :)
November 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

2015's Ratchet & Clank movie got a bump in promotion w/ release of the official poster

My son and I have been fans of Sony's Ratchet & Clank franchise for a few years. I'd heard there were plans for a Ratchet & Clank movie and it seems as if 2015 is still on target.

Ratchet and Clank movie The film will be a 3D CGI flick based on the Insomniac game series unique to Sony consoles. It's being made by Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment and features voice-overs by the same cast from the game series.

IMDB summarizes it as:
Ratchet and Clank tells the story of two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way they'll learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one's own identity.

Ratchet and Clank's Mr. Zurkon We began playing Ratchet & Clank on the PS3 and later picked up a few earlier PS2 releases. With a co-op mode I can play along while letting my son take the lead. It's a good co-op set-up for parents who don't always feel comfortable playing video games with their kid(s) ;)

One of the game's hallmarks is over-the-top weapons that are pretty cool. My favorite feature is available via the weapons menu - Mr. Zurkon. He's a robotic assistant (assassin) with a wonderfully dry sense of humor. He'll help you take on enemies and randomly drops awesome quips of badassery. He's more fun than function.

It's hard to resist such retorts as:
"Mr. Zurkon does NOT come in peace!"
"Mr. Zurkon is here to kill you"

We're looking forward to this movie with the hope that it will inspire more folks to bring successful gaming IPs to the silver screen. Wreck It Ralph was fun with an amalgamation of beloved video game characters. It would be nice to see more game characters in movie-developed story lines that tie into the video game story or enhance existing story lines from the character's franchise.

Ratchet and Clank movie poster It's imperative that Mr. Zurkon be a part of the Ratchet & Clank movie!! :)
November 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Amazon's Echo digital assistant for your home seems cool... and reminiscent of Furby

When Tiger released Furbies in 1998, it was a pet, a friend, a robot, and an electronic mystery. Part of the mystery surrounded it's alleged ability to learn. In theory, the more you spoke to it, the more words it would learn. Some folks swore their Furby was indeed learning new things while others lost interest when the first set of batteries expired. BTW- Furbies did not learn. They simply said more english words as time marched on.
Amazon Echo digital assistant
Amazon has launched a very ambitious product - Echo. If you use a digital assistant on your phone - like Siri, Echo is an assistant for your house. Connecting to Amazon's services via wifi and to your music via bluetooth, Echo's gig is catering to your voice commands from filling a room with music or answering a question.

Amazon Echo logo From the current time to weather conditions and trivia, this home device is also said to "learn" your routine. From Amazon- The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. In 1998, that notion didn't hold much value. I hope we've progressed beyond Furbies in terms of Echo learning about you and your routine.

At a high level, I love what Echo can do in terms of looking up info via voice command. Many will say it's a gimmick, but I can see some utility in such capability. Building a grocery list as I shout out random items would be a boon to my disorganized shopping habits. I'd love to be surfing the web and let Echo keep track of random things as I encounter them. I'd love to task Echo as my list-maker. A new band, book title, topic of interest, a DVD release, a game to research... the possibilities are endless.

I like the idea of this product, but I have a few reservations about it. The video shows it being used as an alarm clock int he bedroom and an assistant in the living room... do I need to unplug it every time I want "services" in another room? How many of these $200 assistants does one house need?

Amazon Echo digital assistant We saw IBM's Watson take on Jeopardy contestants and deliver a lot of info in an instant. I wonder about Echo's diversity when it comes to delivering information. I can dive into Wikipedia and other sites to seek a fact. What about when I go to Arcade History to see how many sequels there were to Sega's Out Run. Will Echo know how to find such info?

Breadth of knowledge is one of my primary concerns. Echo is not a toy and not a Furby. If it is to operate in an always-on capacity and deliver as Amazon claims, it has to have access to a lot of diverse info and a mechanism for parsing requests. This is a fascinating product that will likely need vast improvement before it's ready to satisfy a demanding consumer. It may still be too Furby-like.

Artificial intelligence has come a long way since Eliza, but a $200 wifi appliance only knows what it is told. The human brain works in mysterious ways that science is still unlocking. Products like Echo attempt to imitate aspects of intelligence, but products like Echo need to fill specific roles that are helpful to consumers. I think it's a cool product, but it may simply be an expensive way to cheat at trivia games.
November 5, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

World of Yo-Ho brings your smart phone into a pirate-themed board game

World of Yo-Ho I grew up playing board games. From Monopoly and Water Works to Battleship and Uncle Wiggly, I loved a good romp around a board. Even as my Atari 2600 later enveloped me, I still loved playing board games. Any time I'm in a toy store, I'll look through the board games for a new gem.

That "gem" is getting harder to find. Even though I couldn't resist "Kiss" and "Adventure Time" themed Monopoly, I still strive to find captivating board games that my son and I can play.

As he and I delve further into video games - we currently love local co-op games between our 2DS handhelds - I try to keep some momentum behind board games.

He still loves playing them and I hope that wonder will continue. We always play Treasure Pools in the Summer and Zombie Dice whenever the mood strikes. My son enjoys playing Card Wars on my Android phone as much as likes explaining the physical card game to me. It's based on a crazy card game depicted in an episode of Adventure Time.

Iello games logo I love the mechanics of the Card Wars app and seeing how the action plays out when we get out our 4 decks and Floop the pig... among other things. But wouldn't an integration of digital and board be a possibility? Seeing the Wii U tablet used as a separate info source during game play on the TV, has made me wonder if personal screens could be an interesting element in a board game.

Board Games Meet Digital

Iellow Games have been working on this idea and have come up with World of Yo-Ho that lets each player use their smart phone as a playing piece and a private screen to track items. They have a Kickstarter campaign with more info and a few videos to give you an idea of how the game play works between smart phones and the board.

From their Kickstarter account:
A board game where your smartphone is your pawn! A video game that brings people together around a board.
'World of Yo-Ho' is a fantasy game of adventure and piracy on the high seas! It's a new type of gaming experience that combines the tangible and social pleasure of a board game with the interactive and adaptable mechanics of a video game. The game is for 2 to 4 players and features a Large, two part, high quality board that represents the minutely detailed world of Yo-Ho. At the same time, a free downloadable app turns your smartphone into a ship. Simply place your phone on the board and set sail for adventure!

What I like about this game is that the integration of smart phones isn't simply to capitalize on mobile gaming's popularity. The phone is your ship and also can be removed from the board to monitor and update your holdings. The phone has a specific purpose in conjunction with the board. They seem to compliment each other rather than being a novelty.

There are several play modes including one in which game play is possible with only one smart phone or a tablet. This is nice feature if all players aren't smart phone owners. It lets you play as a family without everyone needing a phone to play along. I like the concept and hope this will spur more interest in board games and using modern technology to enhance certain elements of play.
November 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
November 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The first 100 Atari-Dump games from the Alamogordo landfill are listed on eBay

The following 9 Atari Landfill games have been listed on eBay. All are for the Atari 2600 and the starting price for games with a box is $50 with the exception of E.T. The Extraterrestrial which opened at $100 with a box and $75 as a loose cart. One anomaly is Centipede #8225 that may have been posted in error regarding the minimum price.

  1. Asteroids (with box) $50.00
  2. Missile Command (with box) $50.00
  3. Warlords (with box) $50.00
  4. Defender (with box) $50.00
  5. Star Raiders w/ Keypad (with box) $50.00
  6. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (with box) $100.00
  7. Swordquest (with box) $50.00
  8. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (loose cart) $75.00
  9. Phoenix (with box) $50.00
  10. Centipede (with box) $50.00

When viewing or bidding on items, be certain you are dealing with eBay seller tbhs575 (Tularosa Basin Historical Society + local telephone area code). I'm sure all sorts of fakes will begin to emerge as we see the bids increasing.

Low quality photos

An unfortunate side to this auction is the photography. It's quite poor. There is little clarity to the images suggesting they were photographed with an cheap digital camera - some using a flash. Lighting and quality varies quite a bit which suggests they may have been photographed in batches in different locations. I hope the next phase of auction features better photos and uniform lighting conditions.

I was glad to see that each item had it's own code and auction listing. This way you can bid to own a very specific item based on it's condition. Some of the loose carts appear to be intact while others are clearly crushed. There is also a lot of variation in the condition of the boxed games. This lets bidders choose in a fairly unique manner.

Atari ET game cart Atari ET game cart.
Missile Command box Missile Command box.

Even though the auction is only in it's first few hours (as of this writing) many lots have no bids. Even a few ET games had no bids. Primarily, the ET boxed games were getting a few bids - the highest being $405.00.
November 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The treasure trove of excavated Atari games are leaving Alamogordo via eBay auctions

Journalists, Filmers, Archeologists, Construction crews, and Gamers arrived from points across the globe to witness the excavation of Atari product dumped in a New Mexico landfill over 30 years ago. They found the discarded excess of Atari's heyday and it's heading to auction!

The Atari landfill dig-site in Alamogordo, NM Museums around the world expressed interest in displaying Atari landfill artifacts. Fans plotted the likelihood of obtaining one of those soiled CIB games. I sat wide-eyed at my computer as images flowed in from social media accounts of those in the smelly windblown landfill on April 26, 2014.

From the start, everyone wanted to know what would happen with the excavated games. Some went to museums, but they all belonged to the city of Alamogordo, since it was all contained in their now-defunct landfill. We hear that they have around 800 recovered items.

Recovered Atari games from the Alamogordo landfill A recent article in the Alamogordo News indicates that the long awaited auction is happening soon on eBay. The city through the Tularosa Basin Historical Society has made the decision to allow a limited number to be sold to the general public. An initial auction of 100 items will allow them to gauge prices before putting the remaining items up for auction.

They settled on eBay to offer the items to a global audience. No eBay links have been posted, nor have any dates been specified. It sounds as though the Atari treasures will be online in the next few weeks.

Thousands Still Remain Buried

James Heller, a former Atari manager, was tasked with a disposal solution for Atari's Texas warehouse. He says over 700,000 items (mostly unsold games) were dumped in the Alamogordo landfill. If you do the math, only a handful of the total have been recovered. Alamogordo claims that digging them up is too costly.

This leads me to believe they have no clue how rabid some folks will be to own a piece of Atari history. I have an ET cart, but to own one - or any excavated title - is a whole different thing. A game certified from the Alamogordo landfill will be worth a lot more than any cart that's survived 30 years in someone's attic.

I wonder if ET carts from the landfill will be worth more than other titles - they found over 30 different games buried in the muck. Personally, I think the initial eBay auction will be very telling of the real cost of digging up more Atari games. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a battered cart in a disheveled box netting well over $100 in the first auction. As Items become more plentiful, the price may drop, but I think their value will be higher than the Alamogordo town council or Tularosa Historical Society is aware.

Auction Details are Minimal

So, far there is very little info other than being able to soon find these items on eBay by searching "Atari Dig Cartridges". There will be nine different titles of games available which are Asteroids, Missile Command, Warlords, Defender, Star Raiders, Swordquest, Phoenix, Centipede, and E.T. the Extra-terrestrial. The games will come with a City of Alamogordo property identification tag and a certificate of authenticity to insure that it's a game unearthed from the Alamogordo Landfill.

These auctions should be interesting and may indeed warrant another foray into the landfill with an excavator. This could be a lucrative business for the next few years!

Joe Lewandowski, who managed the dig site, said Atari dumped over 3.5 million other games in different landfills across the country but cannot disclose where. Someone get Zak Penn and an excavator... there's more out there somewhere!
November 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

DataSoft created a motion sensitive video game joystick, Le Stick, in 1981

DataSoft's joystick for the Atari 2600- Le Stick Before the advent of the consumer Internet, information traveled slowly. For example, if an expensive new joystick came to market and had a revolutionary control mechanism, it could take months for word to get out that it's mercury switches made for a dismal twitchy experience.

Today, a tweet would get re-tweeted and that would be the end of it.

DataSoft's odd controller consisted of a joystick with no base and a single fire-button on it's top. It's odd look alone may have given gamers pause to spend nearly $40 to own one.

The device "acted" like a standard joystick - tipping it in the desired direction (as a normal joystick would be moved) would send that movement down the wire to an Atari 2600 or compatible.

It's use of mercury switches made it react to any movement. While a standard joystick can be held at an angle and jostled around without effecting game-play, Le Stick felt twitchy because any movement was perceived as a directional command and sent to the game console.

Le Stick was release only 2 years before the '83 crash. As the game industry was approaching this critical juncture that would eliminate a majority of game developers and companies, an expensive joystick with an unproven gimmick wasn't likely to sell to well.

Oddly, consumer reaction deemed Le Stick as a novelty. The motion sensor aspect didn't seem to impress anyone on a technical level. In 1981, joysticks came in a variety of sizes and shapes, but for the most part they had similarities. Le Stick was a different beast - visually and in how it functioned.

I had a Wico Joystick for my 2600 and found the fire-button on top of the stick very awkward. Fortunately, it also had the standard button on it's base. The awkwardness of a stick-top button would have caused me to move the stick - especially without a base to stabilize it. DataSoft's Le Stick in the 1982 JC Penny Christmas Catalog DataSoft's Le Stick in the 1982 JC Penny Christmas Catalog. I'm also liking that Atari dust cover :)
November 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

CED players were a low-cost option to laserdisc w/ more similarity to phonographs- stylus included

RCA SelectaVision logo When I bought my first Laserdisc player, it was hard not to draw comparisons between it's shiny media discs and the vinyl records than formed and enlivened my childhood. Every LP I bought was meticulously recorded onto a cassette and then the record was placed safely on a shelf. Knowing I could make endless copies on tapes, I stored my records - largely unaware of the uniquely awesome tones that can only come from vinyl.

My stereo at the time was of the lo-fi all-in-one variety, so I wasn't really robbing myself of the tonal joys of a phonograph. Many audio and video technologies came to fruition long before I was even aware of their possibilities. Back in the 70s it wasn't uncommon for a lengthy time between technological advances and appearances on retail shelves. These days, we seem to churn thing out and try to make a profit minutes later!

size comparison: vinyl record, laserdisc, CD Betamax, VHS, and laserdisc were introduced, respectively, in 1976, 1977, and 1978! My first Laserdisc player came home in the early 90's and I had no idea the technology was over a decade old! It took me a long time to realize how behind I was. But there were other formats I'd never heard of... CED VideoDiscs, for example.

Capacitance Electronic Discs (CED)

As Laserdiscs gave way to DVD and as Blu Ray fades in popularity today, it's hard to imagine an analog technology involving a physical stylus reacting to grooves, producing both audio and video for your TV. RCA's brand, SelectaVision, delivered this technology known as CED players, in March 1981.

Unlike a phonograph in which the needle vibrates in reaction to the grooves, CED's stylus (needle) had an electrical component and didn't rely on the same physical "touching". In fact, the stylus' pressure against the disc is very minimal - partly due to design and for the preservation of the media.

At that time, this technology seemed behind video tape and CED was not a user-recordable medium. Like laserdiscs, you bought prerecorded media. This technology emerged in the mid 1960s but several factors allowed it to stew for nearly two decades before being available to consumers. Worse still, was the small number of titles released for CED - around 1,700 titles.

RCA ceased CED sales in 1986 when sales were significantly behind projections. One has to wonder how realistic any prediction could be when there were 2 video tape formats that allowed you to record show and movies from the TV. Laserdisc's in ability to record was problematic, but it's digital capability was clearly above the CED's analog stylus.

RCA Spectravision VideoDisc player Didn't we call "Playing sound and pictures through your TV" - playing a movie? Just as I feared my vinyl records would degrade and become scratched, CED media was subjected to this. Over time, the media would degrade from the physical contact with the stylus navigating the high density grooves. Of course Laserdisc aficionados claimed laser-rot to be a detriment to laserdiscs, but that resulted from circumstances outside the normal use of the heavy discs.

Superman CED VideoDisc From the start (delayed into the 80s) CED players were a "low cost" solution in the prerecorded entertainment. Like laserdiscs it was necessary to flip the disc to view an entire movie. CED discs only held 60 minutes per side which was fine for a majority of features. Studios often pared down longer films for CED release to avoid the costlier option of a 2-disc release.

My first form of external television entertainment was my Atari 2600. From there, I decided Betamax was superior to VHS and enjoyed that format until is ceded and VHS took over. Impressed with laserdisc technology, I bought a player which I loved dearly for several years. Alas, every format is usurped by something better that forces me to buy my favorite media on yet another platform.

This has happened to video games too. I have copies of the same game across as many as five different consoles. As we enter the "cloud" era, I worry that this hails the end of what was formerly known as "ownership".

Even though I'd never experienced CED, I see how interesting it is as a phonograph-like technology and it's release among other more formidable devices. As one who has downloaded both songs, movies, and video games - I always have great respect for any form of media that I can hold in my hands and share with my friends.
November 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Indie game studio, Team2Bit, unite Reagan & Gorbachev in a fun top-down puzzle battle

Reagan Gorbachev game I received an email from the folks at Ouya announcing a new game available on their Android console - Reagan Gorbachev by Team2Bit . With such an unusual name, I had to check it out.
Reagan Gorbachev game
Reagan Gorbachev is a top-down, local co-op stealth game set in a 1980s alternate timeline. Historical icons Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev have been kidnapped during the 1986 Reykjavík Summit by mysterious assailants.

Players take control of the leaders and use their unique skills to puzzle and battle their way out of dozens of grueling levels. Two players can play simultaneously or one player can control both leaders.

Reagan and Gorbachev combines puzzle solving with top-down battle and a 2-player co-op mode. I love that Reagan and Gorbachev have to team up - They have some great conversations during cut-scenes

With a sense of humor and a nice retro look, we suggest giving it a whirl. Check out the trailer on their website where you'll also find all the available platform releases and social media links.

Reagan Gorbachev game Team2Bit is an indie game studio run by two brothers, Matt Kain Lewandowski and Jake Lewandowski, They make retro-styled games infused with modern twists.

October 2014 Retro Gaming Articles:

October 31, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Happy Halloween! Leave a bowl of candy on the porch - it's game night!

Happy Halloween! Stay safe, have fun, and be sure to play some spooky video games while scarfing piles of candy.

Joystick pumpkin
October 30, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Playmate's Bayonetta cosplay prompts the Internet to invent a Nintendo-Playboy partnership

I've seen several reputable gaming sites attempting to explain the "new marketing relationship" between Nintendo and Playboy. WTF!?! These gaming sites are reveling in the comic mischief of Nintendo's family-friendly history bedraggled by Playboy's Miss October 2012 dressing up as Bayonetta.
Bayonetta logo
None of these sites have cited a corporate press release, Ad Week article, or even a reputable national newspaper column - yet gaming journalists seem privy to a Nintendo-Playboy partnership that no one else knows about. Nintendo has released Bayonetta for the Wii U and Playboy has a photo album of Pam Horton cosplaying Bayonetta on their Facebook page.

Yes, there is a Bayonetta ad on the Playboy site. Yes, there was a photo-op at Nintendo World in Manhattan. To interpret this as a marketing partnership is similar to saying the CBS television network partnered with the Ford Motor Company because they ran an F-150 truck ad. Sure there's some form of partnership, but to liken it to Nintendo shedding their values for some sort of scandalous promotion is ridiculous.

Pam Horton Bayonetta Playboy Playmate and Gamer Next Door Pamela Horton cosplays as Bayonetta. Bayonetta is an M-rated title which is rare for Nintendo, but one can assume they are widening their customer base. The Wii U is certainly a solid platform on which to maintain and grow the Nintendo brand. There's no reason they can't be like the "other two" and cater to both kids and adult gamers. Naturally, we all think of Nintendo as being more family-friendly than it's competitors, but ratings exist so gamers can gravitate toward appropriate titles.

Numerous comments were derogatory toward Horton's Playboy affiliation and gamer status. Pam Horton is quite attractive which tends to go along with the Playmate gig, but in the years since her naked achievement, she's aptly demonstrated her gaming chops. She's even carved out quite an interesting niche for herself that could lead to working for a game developer.

The internet has become a public megaphone for poorly planned rants. Once a soapbox for interesting debate, it has circled the drain to become a platform of rumor innuendo, and hate.

October 29, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From Brain Games to the Video Game Brain, we look at Atari's 2600 multi-game loader

Brain Games for Atari 2600 I came across a 2-page manual for RG International's Video Game Brain and was curious to find out a little more about it. There's often a good story behind 3rd party accessories.

It's a six game hopper that holds 6 Atari 2600 carts selectable on the fly via corresponding buttons. It attaches via the cartridge slot. In seeking more info it was hard not to keep getting search results for Atari's Brain Games (which has nothing to do with this accessory). Still, I felt compelled to add a pic of the Brain Games box art... since it has no relevance to this article.

Game Brain box I was particularly interested in it's ability to infinitely daisy chain these units by plugging a connector cable into the sixth cart slot of another unit. I'm not sure how many of these devices one would want to have attached at once.

It has no function other than being able to have up to 6 carts connected at once. It saves the effort of removing and inserting the next game you want to play.

As a new item on a retail shelf, I'm sure I could easily have passed it up. Come to think of it... I must have ignored it since I don't seem to have one. But as a collectable, this is one of those oddball items that's fun to have.

As manuals go, this is the sort of product that could probably suffice with a a half-sheet. Still they were able to reach a second page. This may be due to the additional artwork needed to show how 2 units are connected. Notice that the first diagram labeled slots one through six and felt the need to denote the "name" of each one.

It is listed as having 2 "cartridge storage compartments". One wonders why leave 2 blanks, but I'm guessing it's length corresponds with the dimensions of the Atari VCS.

Game Brain diagram Game Brain diagram Just so we're clear - this is a fairly bland item with little intrigue or functionality. But - if I found one of these at a flea market, I'd be totally stoked and all over it ;)
October 27, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Sunset Overdrive was trending on Twitter this morning

"Take me down to the Sunset City where the monsters are green and the carnage is pretty"

Sunset Overdrive was trending on Twitter You know someone did something right when a new game title is trending on Twitter. Sunset Overdrive is getting a lot of hype and good reviews. It's an Xbone exclusive title and my favorite reviews are calling it absurd - in a good way!

This is the first Microsoft console title to come along that makes me want to play it. I'm not a fan of the Redmond boys or Windows, but I'm pretty excited about seeing this game. Interestingly, it was created by Insomniac Games, best known for PlayStation games like Ratchet & Clank.

I'm not likely to add an Xbox One to my collection, but I am impressed with what I've seen and read about Sunset Overdrive. I love when a game injects some real fun - even if it's laced with F-bombs - into an original game!
October 26, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I always guard my NES collection unless I eat a pizza cake that gives me bad indigestion

Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack on cassette Guardians of the Galaxy's soundtrack, Awesome Mix #1, gets the retro treatment with a limited edition release on cassette. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. throughout it, Star-Lord cruises the galaxy while listening to the tunes on a tape labeled "Awesome Mix Vol. 1," filled with his mom's favorite songs.
Pizza cake 40 times, eh? I'd much rather have all the carts!!

Pizza cake Pizza cake! This is a real thing. If you think it's too difficult to make... think again. The folks at Pillsbury have an easy to follow pizza cake recipe.
Human Centipede Human Centipede... the game?

October 25, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

SuperCell's mobile game, Clash of Clans, gets a Halloween makeover

Supercell logo My son gets more "iPad time" than "console time" at his mother's house, so he's always telling me about mobile games he and his friends are into. One of the first ones was Supercell's Clash of Clans. I downloaded it so we could join a clan and play together when he was away.

I play it on my Android and it's one of the primary games that has led be - begrudgingly - into playing some mobile games. It's well designed to make you yearn for more and possibly spend some real money to boost your efforts. Normally, I don't like such obvious "give us money ploys", but Clash of Clans is a fun game that has held my interest for quite some time.

Clash of Clans Halloween start up screen The main reason, I've stuck with this game, aside from playing with my son, is that it's well supported on Twitter and Facebook and they make regular updates. It's not one of those games that gets flung out the door and the team moves on to the next project. I feel as though someone is out there maintaining and improving it.
Clash of Clans barbarian
Not long ago, they released an update that gives your village a Halloween theme. From the spooky start-up sound at launch to the pumpkins and skull adornments, they've done a nice job at adding a subtle theme without going overboard and ruining the game. It's quite well done!

Too many mobile games are frivolous and I feel that the developers are going for the quick-money, knowing that interest in their game will fade fast. I've loved asteroids across many different platforms from arcades to Nintendo DS. Clash of Clans Perhaps as a retro gamer, I'm more accustomed to long-term involvement with a specific game. We live in such a disposable society, that the concept of longevity may have transformed.

That isn't to say a game with a simple premise or mechanic can't have lasting value. It's a subjective thing, but I feel there are more frivolous games on mobile than other platforms. But I like Clash of Clans and their Halloween update is a fun reminder that this game isn't wasting away on forgotten corner of a server farm.

If you haven't tried Clash of Clans, it's a free download... give it a try and enjoy the Halloween theme.
October 24, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

In 1981 my favorite video game company was planning to enter the Home Networking arena as AtariTel

Long ago I bought my parents an intercom for their home. The 3 units simply plugged into any A/C outlet and instantly had the ability to communicate over the wiring within the walls of the house.
AtariTel logo button
It was as simple as pushing a button and your voice would come out one or both of the other intercom units. It seemed like a pretty cool technology that could be applied to all sorts of applications.

As the Home Networking and Automation technology started to grow, Atari created AtariTel to pursue this market. According to a press release from the 1983 CES convention, Atari had created a new line of consumer electronics outside of video games. This work had begun in secrecy in 1981.

Not long after I gave that intercom to my parents, similar devices began appearing from security systems to automation devices that let you control lights and appliances from a central location - all using only your home's internal wiring.

Led by Steve Bristow, AtariTel was going to revolutionize communication within your home via automation and connect you through innovative telephone systems. Atari wasn't seeking to become a phone company, but rather show a unique approach to the way we communicated.

AtariTel phone Many features we take for granted today were cutting-edge in the early 80s. Features like full-duplex, speaker phones, Flash buttons, volume controls were part of what Atari wanted to offer in one phone. These features could be found on various business phones, but not all in one device. Atari wanted to invigorate the business and home phone as a concept.

When the FCC legislated it "OK" for AT&T subscribers to connect their own privately-owned devices to Bell's lines, in 1968, the telco industry was changed forever. Companies like AtariTel could offer products that would be compatible with existing telco infrastructure. Atari saw the inroads being made as companies offered equipment to customers outside the traditional phone company outlay.

This insight by atari that led them into an entirely different segment of consumer retail from gaming really shows the kind of company they were trying to become. They made huge contributions to creating a gaming industry, but even in the early 89's they weren't content to simply build better game consoles. They had interests in using their savvy to penetrate multiple markets. And they even had a unique retail concept for all of their wondrous toys...

Revolutionary AtariTel products, along with Atari games, computers, and business solutions were to be part of lifestyle brand sold in an upcoming chain of stores called, Atari Adventure Centers. Alas all of this came to an end with economic conditions, business decisions and consumer perception.

All this makes me realize Atari was a larger entity than I was aware when I first pushed Asteroids into my 2600. What a cool company and such a unique time to be in the tech sector.
October 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo declares Halloween as the next National StreetPass Weekend w/ a network mash-up

When I pass a large group of people and my green Streetpass light remains dim, I have a few questions. Streetpass light
  • Not ONE of them owns a 2DS or 3DS?
  • Not ONE of them put their 3DS into Sleep-Mode?
  • Not ONE of them brought their 3DS with them?
Come on folks - what's going on here!?! It's pretty simple: Buy a 3DS, bring it with you, and leave it in sleep-mode. It makes 2DS & 3DS ownership a lot more fun and interactive - for you and others. Additionally, in sleep mode, the pedometer gives you some healthy feedback and play-coins.

Nintendo Zones originated in 2008 as "hot spots" at which you could access the Internet and Nintendo's networks for their handheld consoles. This was a boon to those seeking connectivity on the go. Wireless networks were not as prevalent as they are today, so it gave DS owners a welcome boost in connectivity.

As networks expanded, many Nintendo Zones were upgraded in 2013 to be Streetpass Relay stations. This expanded one's ability to get Streetpasses in more remote locations with less pedestrian traffic. A relay station stores info from those passing by and doles it out to you (as you pass) rather than relying on the peer-to-peer method in real-time.

I've often wondered what the statistics were that led to creating relays. Where I live, it's quite difficult to get real-time streetpasses, so the relays are a great addition. But, overall were they a reaction to declining Streetpasses among 3DS users? I bring my 2DS with me and am always set for a Streetpass so I can build up my army in Warrior's Way ;)

Nintendo Zone Map This is the first I've heard of a coordinated Streetpass weekend or event. I think it's a great idea and I hope it spurs a lot of folks to revisit the quirky joy of pseudo-meets via Nintendo handhelds.

Of particular interest is the network "mash-up" that is mentioned on the Nintendo site. Apparently the Streetpass Relays will be doing out connections from both near and far. It sounds to me as though they will be mixing things up and sending a few Miis from Phoenix over to a mall in Chicago. Sounds like fun! Get out on Halloween weekend to take advantage of meeting some distant Miis.

October 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 1023), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry

Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 1023), which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. Schools around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry and/or moles.

Happy Mole Day For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the molar mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an molar mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams. Similarly, a mole of neon has a molar mass of 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro's Number of molecules or atoms of that substance.

This relationship was first discovered by Amadeo Avogadro (1776-1858) and he received credit for this after his death.
October 22, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:
October 21, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The PlayStation TV has a Vita game slot and plays PS1 games but is it just another microconsole?

In a world where consumers initially thought the Wii U was a tablet for the original Wii, lets see if Sony has done enough marketing to let customers knows what PlayStation TV is all about. I haven't seen much buzz about it yet.

PlayStation TV Right out of the gate, I've seen very little TV advertising for ANY of the available microconsoles. There have been a few Chromecast TV spots, but PlayStation TV is a different beast. And when did we last hear mention of Amazon's Fire TV?

Who's in this market and when will this market truly be defined? As an emerging market, each vendor has their own notion of what they can and desire to produce. Standards will be lacking for quite some time.

I have a PSP that I like and a 2DS that I adore, so the idea of buying a Vita didn't fit into my portable plan... financially. But discovering that the PlayStation TV has a Vita game slot makes me perk right up.

PlayStation TV size comparison The idea of playing Vita games on my TV with Sony's microconsole is right up my alley. I've heard rumors that Vita games don't scale-up very well for the larger screen size, but that may appeal to my 8-bit mindset.

I love jamming a USB stick full of ROMs into my Ouya, so playing a variety of PlayStation games on this device seems pretty cool. I'm a tad odd in that respect.

It's compatible with the Dual Shock 3 and 4 controllers, which are not included with the base ($99) model. I guess the target audience for PlayStation TV are already Sony customers, eh?

What does PlayStation TV do?

With similar innards to the Sony Vita, it's as affordable as most of the other microconsoles at $99. It plays a variety of Compatible Sony games via the PlayStation Network. This includes PSP and original PSone games. As far as it being a set-top box, it's media capabilities seem hampered by a lack of software at launch. This is expected to be corrected over time. However it's inability to output in 1080p is more permanent.

It streams your PS4 games over wifi or ethernet. Does anyone use those 10BaseT connections in our wireless world? PSTV owners do. Apparently, the PSTV has quite a bit of lag over wifi, so bet your extra long network cable ready.

To be honest, I've seen little marketing of this system and the Sony sites I've visited are fairly vague about the PlayStation TV's features and purpose.

PlayStation TV ports If it weren't for my irrational desire to play Vita games on a big TV, I probably wouldn't have poked around online for more info.

Despite not really knowing how to take full advantage f PSTV, I'll admit I want one. Actually, I've wanted every microconsole that's been released. I see, I want, I get a snack and my mind drifts away from my "wants".

However, I am a big Sony fan and the idea of being able to delve into Vita with a $99 box from Sony appeals to me - on a big TV! Just as I don't own a Chromecast or Fire TV, I do have an Ouya and I'm Hell-bent for a PSTV!

What I like best about PSTV is where most set-top boxes want to be media hubs that play a few games, the PSTV is the opposite. It seems very game-centric with streaming media as a secondary feature. I'd love to break away from the expensive evil cable TV monopoly, but I'm not sure which magic box will satisfy my need for awful TV shows with a focus on gaming.

If I venture down this path, I'll write a review that's far less miscellaneous than this post. I wanna Vita my TV!
October 19, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Finding Joust at my local arcade was a physical and social media joint-venture

My local arcade announced their Joust game acquisition via Facebook Recently, I was musing about discovering my local arcade had acquired a Joust game. My discovery came via a Facebook post made by Wackenhammer's Clockwork Arcade. I was instantly reminded of the early 80s, when Joust was released, and how differently communication of this sort actually was.

Back then we'd randomly visit one of the local arcades and find a new game on the floor. We'd excitedly drop quarters until we'd made an objective decision about the new game. I can also recall several occasions on which a friend called me to say he'd seen a new game at the arcade.

Communication of new arcade games was made by phone - there was no consumer Internet in the early 80s. These days people use cell phones for everything EXCEPT talking and social media delivers a significant amount of our news intake.

I'm a believer in the power of social media on a large scale, but I discover that locally, it is only a companion to face-to-face encounters. From world news to upcoming Wii U games, social media is great. However, when it comes to local discoveries, much of the praise I dole out to social networks is really born of physical encounters!

I was marveling at my local arcade's Facebook post, about their Joust game, when I realized that social media was only part of the connection. I followed them on Facebook because I'd driven by their location and decided to look them up on the web to find out more. If I hadn't seen their physical location, I wouldn't have had any reason to search specifically for them online and may not have found them by organic reach alone!

This realization leads me to take a wider approach to social media and how limiting it can be when used alone without any real-world accompaniment. Social media delivers an astonishing amount of info, but it's real strength comes when combined with other forms of communication - even forms that may seem primitive or eclipsed by the advent of social networks.

My local arcade announced their Joust game acquisition via Facebook

We have more info on our video post. Take a look at the article we wrote about Wackenhammer's Clockwork Arcade for a look at some of the awesome games and items they feature. You'll also find links to their website and social media.
October 19, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Does Hannah Montana's rock 'n roll alter ego own a Wii U?

Miley Cyrus holding a Wii U Controller I saw a blurb on My Nintendo News referencing a photo that Miley Cyrus had posted on Facebook. In the poto she's wearing a fluffy onesie and holding a Wii U Pro Controller (interestingly, many commenters on the pic thought it was an Xbox controller).

I love the idea that she may be a Nintendo fan. I dig what she does and accept a lot of her antics are a way of shedding her former Disney persona.

So many people assumed that she was just like her Hannah character. Playing Nintendo is probably as close to that as she comes. But you can't deny her popularity. She's always in the news for one reason or another. And she was popular enough to have been appropriated for a Flappy Bird clone.

I like some of her music, but what I like most is her ability to live life as she wants. She seemingly has no fear and that's a much better way to go through life than being one of the huddled masses who are afraid to utter a peep.

Drop Miley into your Nintendo world as a Mii...
Miley Cyrus holding a Wii U Controller Live wild. live long. Play retro games.

October 18, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Cadbury Eggs - not just for Easter anymore...

I've always looked forward to Cadbury Eggs around Easter and often wondered why this delicacy hasn't gone "year round" like other seasonal candy. This is the first year I've seen Cadbury Eggs for Halloween - Screme Eggs! I can only hope success will expand Cadbury to deliver eggs all year long!

Cadbury Screme Egg for Halloween
October 18, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Stern's upcoming electro-mechanical style pinball game, Whoa Nellie, is very... Melony

Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons I've always loved Stern Electronics' Berzerk. From that amazing 1980 arcade classic and it's sequel, Frenzy, I've had an interest in Stern as they went into the pinball business. They've carved out an interesting niche by creating high-profile themed pinball tables. They've released such tables as The Walking Dead, Mustang, Metallica, AC/DC, Star Trek, The Avengers, X-Men, Tron, and more.

As much as these tables enhance the arcade scene, they are amazing promotional tools for the companies, studios, and musicians behind them. It's a very clever way to boost the visibility of Stern's creations and pinball in general!

Their upcoming table, Whoa Nellie, is a partnership with Whizbang Pinball to create this entirely original concept/design pinball table. It incorporates both vintage and modern elements including real bells, mechanical score reels, a solid state control system, and a digital soundtrack. Additionally, it has a custom stand that ties in nicely with the overall theme. About that theme...

Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons features a farming theme... a melon farm... with Melony Mellon and her twin sisters, Ellen and Hellen :)

With all original artwork and design, this table sounds really cool. In particular, I love the mix of old & new styles along with the melon crate stand that really sets it apart visually. You may notice a few "crushed beer cans" at the rear, give the playfield just the right angle. Whizbang Pinball's co-founder Dennis Nordman says it's the first new electro-mechanical style game in over 35 years!

While the electro-mechanical aspect of this table in 2014 is very cool, I hope folks respond to it's vintage style and retro pin-up art, as opposed to the "Melons" aspect. These days everyone is eager to denounce for all the wrong reasons.

"The playfield, backglass, and cabinet art and styling, central to the game's unique visual quality, feature detailed original characters and fresh hand-drawn artwork that blend elements of mid-century pin-up art and classic pinball themes."

Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons Originally created as a limited series of 3 hand-crafted games (completely redesigned from a "chopped" 1957 Gottlieb pinball machine) the partnership with Stern is to build and distribute Whoa Nellie in 2015 via Stern's Chicago factory.

A garage full of Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons Keep an eye out for Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons in 2015 and let's hope it sparks a resurgence of original artwork to accompany larger runs of classic-styled pinball games! The past blends nicely with this modern game and could create a new trend!

September 2015 update:
The woman who did the voice-over work for Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons reached out to us after our tweet about National Watermelon Day.
October 17, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

It's that time of year again... time to buy an ugly Christmas sweater

Once a reality of everyday life during the holidays, the "ugly Christmas sweater" has become an entity unto itself. We used to smirk at awful knitted garb seen at holiday gatherings. Now we seek out such atrocities for the sole purpose of trying to don the worst of the worst.

Regardless of your motive, you can snag one of these sweaters at Middle of Beyond.

Gremlins sweater The front of the Gremlins sweater from Middle of Beyond.
Gremlins sweater The front of the Gremlins sweater

Here are a few more styles that might get you a prize at the office Christmas party.
Gremlins sweater
October 17, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

GameStop initiates a new revenue stream via PowerUp Rewards credit card with a 27% interest rate

Are you dying to buy a Wii U or PS4, but lack the funds? GameStop would love to qualify you for their PowerUp Rewards credit card and charge you a high interest rate to become a Generation-8 console owner. But is it worth it?
GameStop credit card
Credit cards are evil. While they may be helpful from time to time, their existence is solely to lure card holders into spending money they do not have. This takes the form of a "loan" upon which interest is charged. Since this form of credit/loan is liberally dispensed, the interest rates are often ridiculously high.

Most retail transactions involve a clerk asking the customer if they want to sign up for the store's credit card. Often they dangle a 10% discount on your current purchase. Don't be fooled - this is generally a bad idea. Going into debt over a game console or video games is not a financially wise move with a standard variable APR of 26.99% based on Prime Rate.

Video games are fun, but being charged an exorbitant interest rate and going into debt is not fun. If you were to pay the minimum payment on the charge for a PS4, you may find yourself paying 3 times the price of the console over several years. The monthly bill seems low, but over time you've spent a king's ransom on a game console!

All the while, this puts money into GameStop's pocket (in this example) via the credit card program financed by a backing bank. Keep in mind GameStop is not offering better service, better prices or anything that benefits gamers. They are simply deriving revenue from your bad decision to pay for merchandise via their credit card!

Luxury vs Necessity

As a consumer, I might be willing to pay more if I get more, but extending credit to customers of a video game store seems suspicious. Video games are a luxury item and as consumers we need to send a message to retailers that they can't generate more income by preying on consumer desires to own the latest, greatest items.

Buying above our means with credit cards is almost a way of life for some folks, but you may want to regain some perspective. Retailers and the banks backing these store-centric credit cards are getting rich off of your interest payments.

I'd rather save up for 6 months than contribute to a system that rewards greed at my expense. I would applaud GameStop for devising an innovative way to boost sales of gen-8 consoles and get these wonderful machines into the living rooms of more gamers. But that is not the focus of a credit card program. It creates a revenue stream that exists for no good reason. Luring consumers to overspend so the retailer can benefit from the financial arrangement is awful.

I shop at GameStop and I don't mean to single them out as though they are the only retailer who attempts to benefit from consumer credit card programs. What I don't like about most retailers participating in these programs is the greed and deceit they exhibit toward their customers - aka: their lifeblood. GameStop does not sell anything that should be promoted to consumers as a vital necessity. Their entire inventory is luxury items. Badgering consumers to sign up for a credit card in order to buy a video game is pretty low.

So, stop asking me if I want to save 10% on the $8 used game I'm purchasing... I don't want your credit card.
October 16, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

With an 18-square-foot playfield, Atari's massive Hercules Pinball table (1979) uses a cue ball!

Atari released it's 4-player Hercules Pinball table in May of 1979. It wasn't a tie-in project - it's name came from it's sheer size! Having an 18 square foot playfield, it is Herculean in proportions. It measures 39" wide by 93" deep and stands 83" tall. Many often refer to the size in relative terms, but I believe this table uses an actual cue ball - straight from any standard pool table.

I recently heard about this large pinball machine from a press release about the grand opening of the Replay Amusements Museum arcade in FL. They had a Hercules table and were touting it's size in order to draw crowds.

Atari's Hercules Pinball table References to this machine always include some mention of it's size, but never do we see "fast play" or "exciting challenge" in those mentions. In today's arcade era, this sort of machine may attract first-timers or those curious about it's size, but it won't generate much repeat play. The main complaint is speed. It's a slow table due to the large heavy ball - more novelty than playability. Some suggested it might be more fun with a tennis ball!

Atari's Hercules Pinball table It's size was the main attraction. Thus, as an earning machine, it didn't do well in localized arcades where boredom set in quickly. Tourist destinations or locales with higher player turn-overs could get by on it's novelty. Obviously, it took up a lot of space which didn't help it's earning factor when operators needed income from every inch of floor space.

Atari's Hercules Pinball flyer The other issue was repairs. Few of the parts were standard issue and it wasn't scaled up for durability. In other words that big cue ball wreaked havoc on the flippers and wore out many of the posts. It really wasn't designed for such a heavy ball. The novelty of a cue-ball was a nice touch, but the weight was part of it's demise.

This machine came in the early days of solid state electronics and evolved from it's electromechanical predecessor via Bally's, Bigfoot (1976). After a prototype was created, Bally opted out of production and sold the rights to Atari who turned it into Hercules. I'm guessing that many operators thought it's size would attract crowds without knowing much about it's slower game play and repair issues. Also at that time, floor space wasn't as much of a consideration as it would be in the next several years.

This machine is likely in more demand as a collectable item than it was an an arcade fixture in the early 80s. Sometimes "bigger is better" doesn't always pay out.
October 15, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Late 80’s mall arcades arose from Atari Adventure Center’s attempt to create a lifestyle brand

Atari Adventure Center The folks at Atari I/O have a great article about Atari Adventure Centers. I was unaware of this early 80's plan by Atari. They were buying up real estate as part of a plan to become a lifestyle brand via stores selling complete Atari solutions and goods.

In 1983 Atari was on the cusp of rolling out stores that would sell everything Atari! From computers and business solutions to home video game consoles, arcade games, and even their upcoming telephone technology, AtariTel. These stores were to be situated in malls and prominent locations where they would have high visibility.

Visibility and accessibility were the keys to bringing "Atari" to the masses. The wide span of Atari products and the ability to interact with them in a hands-on environment was a new concept for what was ostensibly a retail store. Part of the attraction was the "fun" element of the arcade and Atari games for sale in an environment where one could also learn about Atari business solutions.

Atari Adventure Center Ataritel was a telephony technology that Atari was planning to launch via it's Atari Adventure locations. I always focus on the 2600 when thinking of Atari in the early 80s, but they were really quite progressive in expanding the Atari offering - they weren't just a video game company.

Michael Current listed 9 known locations where Atari Centers opened. Atari was moving full steam in acquiring real estate to house their retail vision for the Atari brand. An interesting side note to the rollout of Atari Adventure is the number of locations where it did not appear. Warner Communications was in the process of divesting from Atari and the lifestyle brand came to a financial end. But what about all that real estate?

Apparently, many of the sought-out locations became arcades due to a sale to Space Station amusements. If you recall a lot of arcades opening in California malls in the latter 80s... you can thank Atari :)

Space Port arcade

October 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Taking a few days off with Player 2

My son is coming to visit for a long weekend, so I'll be gaming like a madman for the next few days...
Game on!
October 11, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

NJ arcade uses crowd-funding to get an Initial D7 game on site... from Japan

The Break Arcade in New Jersey The 8 on The Break arcade in Dunellen New Jersey, is know to locals as The Break and it's the longest continually operated arcade in the US. Originally opening in 1973, they have been under current management since 1985. That's pretty impressive in today's economy and the drastic decline in arcades.

But have times become so hard that operators need crowd funding to get new games on the floor? Well, not exactly. The Initial D Arcade Stage 7 AAX was released in Japan in 2012 by Sega. INITIAL D7 is the next arcade game in the Initial D racing series. It's a 2-player driving game with a much more authentic and technical side than most driving games. There are 43 different vehicles, 14 different courses, a 32" monitor, and 3 different racing modes!

As to crowd funding... The Break has an Indiegogo campaign to raise $8,500. Arcade games are no longer simple upright cabinets with a monitor, 2 joysticks and a few buttons. The attraction features of arcade games today involve fairly elaborate set-ups. Initial D7 is a sit-in style game (aka - it's really heavy) and it's coming from Japan. At a base cost of about $6,000 games and shipping, it may well take $8k+ to get it stateside.

Bring the Initial D7 to The Break Arcade in New Jersey Part of their Indiegogo campaign is to reward backers with tokens, for Initial D7, in the amount of their donation. I wonder if this will become a standard for arcades to be able to offer larger games like 2-player drivers.

Obviously this is a local effort, but if you love arcades and can spare a few bucks, I'm sure every dollar is valued. If your local to this arcade, it makes this a cool opportunity. Being a Japanese release, you may have a hard time finding this game, so this is a unique opportunity to get in on some Initial D7 playtime.
October 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“Best Nintendo 64” was trending briefly on Twitter this morning

Best Nintendo 64 twitter trend Sometimes it makes perfect sense, while other times I can't figure out how certain terms begin to trend on Twitter. I saw this one briefly this morning, but I couldn't figure out how it came to be trending. A quick refresh and Nintendo was gone and the usual celebrity detritus resurfaced.
October 10, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Proceeds from “Grand Theft Lindsay V” will be used to purchase dignity

Over the Summer actress Lindsay Lohan seemingly gave up her film career to pursue opportunities in the gaming industry. She doesn't write code or do voiceovers, nor does she have any artistic credentials. She does a unique form of 3D modeling. Unlike many in this field she doesn't work on a high end computer work station. Rather, she determines which of her charming photos best resembles GTA's Lacey Jonas.

She brought a lawsuit against developer Rockstar Games and publisher Take-Two Interactive for using her likeness. Her photo compared to the GTA advertising piece has circulated the internet.

Lindsay vs Lacey Lindsay's grueling work in the game industry is taking it's toll and yesterday she asked for a raise in the form of having her legal team claim her likeness was used throughout the game and in advertising materials. She should have stuck with her Hollywood career, since frivolous lawsuits tend to be a poor source of revenue.

Incidentally, the photo of Lindsay in the red bikini has been cropped in most of the GTA comparison photos I've seen. The full view shows her ankle monitor which is a friendly reminder that she's already had some experience with the law... and the law won.
October 9, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo finally injects some fun into their website with the launch of Play Nintendo

While the browser on my phone is often convenient, and more robust than Nintendo's 3DS browser, neither one can completely replace the experience of surfing the web on my computer. Mobile browsing, for the near future, lacks many of the capabilities of a computer. I'll always opt for my computer when it comes to serious surfing or research.

We all know that kids are web-savvy and want to sop up info just like Mom & Dad do on the web. However, Nintendo's web offerings have been fairly dry and not really destination sites as far as kids are concerned.

Nintendo's official website is a fairly high level site that integrates many Nintendo resources under one banner. It's pretty easy to find a lot of good info from release dates to technical how-to tutorials. But it isn't a lot of fun. It's too darn serious. Nintendo has always had a tough time of translating the epic fun of their gaming to their online experiences. Kids may use the site as a resource, but that isn't a lot of fun.

Nintendo launched a new area on their main site called Play Nintendo which is a grand stride in putting their "fun" on the web!

Play Nintendo screenshot Those of us "older kids" know that this area is simply a marketing venture under the guise of fun - which is not a complaint. In fact, this sort of area is long overdue. Nintendo is a business and they want to make money like any other business, which involves marketing. Their new area, Play Nintendo, is fun!

It's loaded with character info, polls, quizzes, activities, videos, and more. It's a nicely designed area for kids to learn more about their favorite characters and games. Naturally, most areas offer links to games, but we shouldn't forget Nintendo is a business.

They also included a "Parents" area for those folks who feel disconnected from their kid's gaming habits. It has ideas for family gaming and ways to play Nintendo with your kids. Most importantly, this area helps parents keep up with the world of Nintendo so they feel up-to-date when talking about games with their kids.

I think this is a great addition to the Nintendo website that provides fun for the kids and relevant info for parents seeking a better understanding of the gaming world their kids love so much.
October 8, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Schulz kept Snoopy on a tight leash, but Atari still developed Puppy Pong

Puppy Pong from the official arcade flyer when I was a kid, a visit to the pediatrician or dentist was a harrowing venture in which everyone was full of smiles... except ME! And I can assure you, no one ever let me play video games while I was waiting to meet my fate with the medical community. Nope - all my angst-ridden waiting in the doctor's lobby was spent worrying about getting a shot.

That's probably a familiar scenario for many of us. Occasionally, Goofus and Gallant made me laugh in Highlights - that Goofus was a hoot! Nolan Bushnell had other ideas in mind. At Atari they were seeking to capitalize on the kid-friendly Snoopy (created by Charles Schulz) in the form of Snoopy Pong.

What better way to alleviate the stress of a doctor's waiting room than a round of Pong - for FREE!

Puppy Pong prototype In the mid-70s, Atari's marketing team was looking for ways to expand into non-amusement areas, like offices. They began with the idea of delivering the fun of Pong with the familiarity of Snoopy. Unlike Atari's standard Pong game, this kiddie variant had no coin mech and featured a Start button that would initiate a new game.

They targeted pediatricians due to the constant flow of kids. Unlike arcades where such machines were a revenue stream for operators, the hope was that doctors would want to purchase Pong for their waiting rooms.

I've read a few accounts regarding Snoopy Pong. The short story is Charles Schulz did not want his Beagle (and Red Barron, Sopwith Camel pilot) Snoopy associated with Pong. I'm not sure if Schulz got wind of the project or if Atari sought licensing from him... but he said, No.
Dr. Pong prototype
We all know that Bushnell wouldn't be stopped by that, so Puppy Pong replaced the Snoopy motif and still retained kid-friendly attributes. True or not, we've all heard the story of Bushnell yearning for something to pass the time while waiting for take-out food. So, Dr. Pong was the same internal components housed in a wood grain tabletop enclosure that would visually appeal to kids.

I'm not sure how far along production was for these Pong variants, but the flyer touted an optional coin mech for those offices seeking a modest profit. It was designed to sit atop any end-table or Atari would sell you a shelf unit for storage. If that wasn't enough, another PCB was available that could replace the original one in order to convert the enclosure to a volleyball game.

Business professionals of the mid 70s seemed disinterested in either the canine or office pro variations of Atari' Pong game. It's longest public display was at a Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater where units were available for play while customers waited on their food.

Puppy Pong arcade flyer I wonder if the idea of putting disguised arcade games into non-arcade settings was simply ahead of it's time. It seems like a great idea for a pediatrician's waiting room. Who knows. I'm a gamer and I'd have loved to play games rather than read Highlights.
October 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

“Johnny has a 25¢ habit” - even in the early 80's the news media pointed a finger

If Johnny had a heroin habit, they'd know how to treat it... how to fix his problem. Why do you suppose the news media felt he had a problematic habit? Some kids spent money in arcades, others spent their allowance in comic book shops. Why has the gamer always been targeted as a bad person?

I'm pretty sure Johnny's excessive arcade gaming led him toward productive employment in the tech sector.

Johnny has a 25 cent habit If you ask me, Johnny has a 25¢ passion!
October 7, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Why hasn't the money & innovation of the adult industry prompted a crossover into video game development?

Just mentioning the adult industry conjures a wide variety of mental images... predominantly naked images. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the technical savvy of this industry. Looking back at media storage and internet evolution, you can thank the adult industry for solidifying VHS and CD ROM as formats. They were the first to perfect streaming video and e-commerce. This led to successful business models long before the average retailer was able to reliably accept credit card info via the web.

Digital Playground logo I've been a fan of Digital Playground (NSFW) from a both tech perspective and their insanely awesome content! Two things that impressed me when they released Code of Honor in 2012. One was their use of QR codes on their packaging. The proliferation of smart phones makes this a great use of technology for retail strategy.

The ability to offer pre-sale information for all of your products is a huge boon to manufacturers who rely on a variety of distribution channels to multiple retailers. It's a way for the manufacturer to remotely influence a customer at the point-of-sale. Digital Playground has done this wisely and I am stumped as to why the video game industry - or even a lone developer - has not implemented QR codes on their packaging!

The second impressive facet to Digital Playground is their ability to deliver big-budget action films which is contrary to many adult movies that are rife with stereotypes (the pizza-guy never does that, lol). They can produce and market big-budget films in an industry that leans toward quick, cost-effective turnarounds. They just released Apocalypse X (NSFW) which is another pornographic blockbuster film. They've done other big-budget films like Body Heat, Top Guns, and the Pirates series.

Apocalypse X from Digital Playground Digital Playground's Apocalypse X starring Stevie Shae Film synopsis from the Digital Playground website:
In a future, after years of demolition, the Earth's natural resources have withered away and the world is now a deserted pit. A woman named Razor seeks vengeance upon a bike gang called Reapers. To the community, Razor is known as The Ghost. From stealing gasoline and food, to using men to feed her sexual appetite, Razor always takes what she wants. She has one last score to settle with the Reapers' gang leader, Scar. In an effort to avenge the murder of her beloved husband, Razor will use every womanly advantage she has to seduce anyone in her path for retribution.

Atari 2600 game Ignore that this synopsis is from a porn film. It could be a video game story line, right? Perhaps the apocalyptic storyline ropes me in, but I think a powerhouse studio like Digital Playground, that can create big-budget films, would welcome the opportunity to branch out and create another revenue stream via video games. With the tech savvy and ability to produce big budget adult films, why not leverage the story lines and create tie-in games?

I'm not suggesting they should or would jump into developing for PS 4 or Xbone. There are a lot of ways to add gaming to a variety of business models. Many websites use browser-games to bring traffic to their websites. Similarly, many brands use games to reinforce their brand/product line.

There are certainly a wide variety of pornographic video games out there now, but many of them are fairly formulaic. I'd love to see an adult video game from an adult film studio. In particular, a studio like Digital Playground that can develop and produce big-budget porn films that are atypical to their industry. They've taken their track record within adult films and added a bit of Hollywood action to almost create a new genre of adult film. I'm not sure this is a recognized or established genre, but it's sufficiently different from their competitors, that I think they could do something pretty revolutionary in the video game arena.

More than anything, the idea of an action/porn film breathes new life into the routine of many adult films. A company with the desire to reshape that genre might do the same for video games. Where as adult video games have largely been mocked, I believe there's a viable genre waiting to be created in gaming that truly caters to the adult audience already familiar with Digital Playground. It would be pretty cool to see names like Kayden Kross and Stoya in gaming blogs.

Watch the trailer for Apocalpse X on YouTube (non-porn, but NSFW).
October 6, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

My digital offspring pass along “Retro Gaming” on their travels from my Tomodachi Life island

When we're not hammering out content for 8-Bit Central, we're looking for ways to keep retro gaming prominently fixed in people's minds. There are many ties between moder gaming and retro classics, so I always love blending the two and finding a way to highlight retro gaming!

I got into Tomodachi Life this past summer with my son. We developed our islands and marveled at all the crazy food we could dispense. Soon our islanders developed crushes, got married and had kids. This is where the game makes perfect use of Nintendo's StreetPass system. Once "kids" have grown up - about a week's time - you can opt to let them "travel". Designating them as travelers lets StreetPassing, with other players, send your traveler to their island and vice versa. Thus travelers can visit many islands via StreetPass and occasionally send letters back to you

As "Mayor" of your island you can have your travelers deliver a short message to each island they visit. This is where we again spread the retro gaming love. Each of our travelers announces,"Retro Gaming!" upon reaching a new StreetPassed destination.

Tomodachi Life traveler A Tomodachi Life traveler waiting to depart.
A Tomodachi Life traveler imparting Retro Gaming Each of my Tomodachi Life travelers delivers the message, Retro Gaming!

Modern gaming evolved from all the gaming that came before and that's a point worth promoting to those who may have forgotten that Microsoft and Sony did not "invent" video games. There was actually a time when the term "PlayStation" wasn't followed by a number and referred to a revolutionary new game console in 1995!

I hope my digital kids can help spread the word - lol.
October 5, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Skylanders Trap Team went on sale today with more options than former releases

Skylanders Trap Team logo Like in years past, the ushering in of another Skylanders game had me at my local Toys R Us, but this year I slept in for a while. The store opened at 8:00am. Prior years, I was glad to have arrived when the store opened as there were some Skylanders items that sold out quickly. This year, I arrived around 11:00am and much of the fanfare had died down, but they did attract a lot of gamers at 8:00.

Toys R Us opened at 8:00 am for Trap Team As usual, the entry was loaded with Skylanders Trap Team as well as figures from the former games. They'd also expanded the Skylanders' aisle, in the video game area, to fill both sides of the aisle. This Skylanders expansion displaced Disney Infinity to another aisle. There was a lot of Skylanders stuff!

Toys R Us often has a cardboard archway inside the entrance festooned with Skylanders imagery. They repeated the archway this year too, but it was Ninja Turtle themed - what? Hey, TMNT are cool too ;)

Regardless, I snatched a shopping basket and began filling it with Trap Team stuff. The Starter Pack with the portal and game was obvious, but as I mulled over the figures I discovered they had the standard ones, minis, 3-packs, single-packs, and additional traps that came as a 3-pack or single. Yikes!

I realized that I was under-prepared for this expedition. The magazine ads and TV commercials made it seem simple enough, but when you're faced with shelves full of options, questions arise. I forged onward...

The Skylanders display in the entry of Toys R Us The Skylanders display in the entry of Toys R Us.
The Skylanders aisle at Toys R Us The Skylanders aisle at Toys R Us.

Skylanders Trap Team lets you "trap" villans and use their powers for good. OK. I had a lot of questions about this release. They offer the standard characters, but you can also buy additional traps - which look like random hunks of cheap plastic. The Starter Pack has the game disc, Trap Team Portal, 2 characters, and 2 traps. Do I need more traps? They sold 3-packs and single-packs. Fortunately, my local Toys R Us game area is run by a gamer who knows such things and is a great resource.

I'm sure the mechanics of this will become more apparent once I've played with it, but Activision has not done a great job in marketing this to customers who want to know what they need to buy. Your old characters can play along with the new Trap Team and they even have Mini characters that resemble the sidekicks from the Frito-Lay contest, but I believe the minis are playable as opposed to simply following the other characters.

Skylanders Trap Team in-store kisok I wound up buying two 3-packs of extra traps. I'm not sure if that was the smart thing to do or if I wasted money on too much stuff. Traps are specific to the various elements. The Starter Pack comes with "Water" and "Life" traps and the two 3-packs gave me one of each element without duplicating anything. Time will tell if that was wise.

My Skylanders Trap Team Dilema

Since 3 out of 4 yearly releases have required a new portal, I wasn't sure if I was going to jump in as usual this year and buy everything in sight. Overall, I get the sense that a lot of folks are wondering how many more figures they really need around the house. Which is similar to wondering how much more money do we need to spend on plastic figures. We have close to 100 of them and usually play with 5 or 6. As ratios go... that isn't too good.

I think each game they have released could easily have supported another title before requiring us to buy another starter pack with another new portal. The transition from the original Spyro to Giants was fun. It was just what I wanted - the next game in the series with new characters and it supported all the previous characters.

Activision could easily have released another Giants game and certainly another one making use of the Swap Force figures. I feel as though I'm not done with the figures when I complete the game. I want another game in which to play with them!

I'm sure when my son gets his hands on the Skylanders Trap Team game, all will be well in the world of Skylanders :)
October 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The grand opening of Replay Amusements Museum arcade is covered by local news in Florida

When was the last time an arcade had a grand opening?? It doesn't happen often, although the barcade trend seems to be on the rise. However, the Replay Amusement Arcade is celebrating their grand opening this weekend, in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The best part... they're a retro arcade!

Replay Amusements Museum logo Although the term "museum" appears in their name, Replay has no velvet ropes or hands-off policies. In fact they encourage everyone to play to their heart's content. From those reliving childhood glory to kids seeking some amazing fun, Repay Amusement Arcade has all it's machines on free-play.

They operate on memberships and offer daily, monthly or yearly passes. Which ever you choose, you can play all day on over 100 video games and pinball tables! When I was frequenting arcades in the 80s, a yearly pass wold have been my golden ticket! We think it's pretty cool to hear of an arcade opening with a goal of preserving arcade machines and presenting the history of gaming.

From the Replay website:
Replay Museum promotes the art, science and cultural significance of mechanical amusement machines to preserve these historical artifacts for future generations. Pinball, jukeboxes and video arcade games have always been considered more than entertainment. They are a scrapbook of America, a looking glass of culture, and a pleasure-filled journey winding through a wonderful marriage of art, science and technology.

Replay Amusements Museum TV news interview TV news interview.
Replay Amusements Museum TV news interview TV news crew doing an on-site report about the arcade.

Another nice facet of Replay Amusement Museum, is their use of social media. They have an arsenal of outlets to show the world what they're all about and they're off to a great start. Check out their website for links to all their social media sites. Hopefully an active social network and attention from local media will help publicize what they're all about.

Replay Amusements Museum's pinball tables Replay Amusements Museum's pinball tables We think it's great that they're able to get local media coverage outside the traditional gaming community. Having your new business - especially an arcade - featured on local TV news is a boon. Any attention Replay can get will be good for them and for retro gaming. It's hard to project the awesomeness of retro gaming outside the general gaming community - many of whom don't care for vintage games.

Seeing a lot of attention on Replay gives me hope that more arcades might open and not rely on redemption tickets, coin pushers and cranes. Video games and pinball are FUN!

Too Often TV News is the Enemy

Fox Mulder rubbed off on me in a couple of ways. Most prominently, I trust no one.

The news media these days are reactionary alarmists who seemingly have nothing better to do than stir whichever pot will generate the most ad revenue. Crisis is a great selling point and generates viewers, so most news stories are reported with a focus on fear.

Look at the two news interview pictures above. Without any context, the news media have taught us to be suspicious and to make rash assumptions without any facts. When video games appear on the TV news, it's often another story in which some violent criminal owned a game console... which is the root of his evil.

The other Mulder-ism that strokes me is - I want to believe... We wish Replay Amusements Museum success and hope that their venture will inspire others to follow suit. Owning a retro arcade sounds like more fun than most jobs!
October 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bandai Namco is debuting a new Star Wars arcade game at New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con logo Being an East coast person, I'm more excited about New York Comic Con than the San Diego con. Maybe some of it's awesomeness will flutter up to where I live. Alas, I won't be attending, but the New York con is just around the corner and there was some interesting news on Polygon today.

arcade game Comic Cons have become pop culture events and while they still center around comics, there are plenty of film, video game, and toy vendors on the massive show floor. This year Bandai Namco is going to showcase their Fall line of games from 3DS and WiiU to PS4 and Xbone.

I'm a big fan of Namco from the early days of Galaxian, Pac-Man, and Dig Dug. These days finding an actual arcade can be a challenge. Arcades still exist in relative obscurity, but they occasionally get new games. It seems that Namco will be debuting a new arcade game at NYCC for the press - not the general public.

Apparently, it will be a new Star Wars arcade game according to the post on Polygon. The games they will showcase on the convention floor are listed on Bandai Namco's Tumblr where they seem to post news items.

From the arcade to computers and game consoles, Star Wars has a long history in video games. Probably the most infamous of these games is the 1983 vector graphics game from Atari. It came in a standard cabinet and an amazing sit-in.

1983 Star Wars arcade game from Atari There was something so awesome about vector games. My first experience with them was Asteroids and then Star Castle. The crisp graphics always drew me in. The first-person perspective of Atari's Star Wars was a perfect match for a vector game. The game play was reminiscent of the film.

The Polygon article indicates that this new Star Wars arcade game won't be on public display. I'd probably be more upset about the press-only display, if I was attending. However, I'm sure word around the con will be rampant and I'll bet a picture will be "leaked" at some point ;)

I'm dying to know what this new game is. Dammit... I wish I was going to NYCC!!

Update: October 8

On the eve of New York Comic Con, Bandai Namco unveiled their new Star Wars arcade game for the press. It's a sit-in dome screen arcade system designed to offer an immersive experience for a single player. It combines some slick elements. Fans simulate motion speed, a seat that reacts with explosions, and vibrating controls. Polygon has a good article on their first experience with the game.

Star Wars Battle Pod arcade game
October 3, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

One innocuous line and Lindsay Lohan gifts us with Mean Girls Day! Party on Wayne Cady!

Before spinning out of control one would have guessed that Lindsay Lohan was on her way to a long lucrative career. Once can only hope she can get it together in time to resurrect the cast for Mean Girls 3.

From the movie Mean Girls, in which Lohan plays Cady Heron, her utterance of October 3 has caused fans to declare that date a holiday on which one watches Mean Girls and frolics in its ironic lessons. Pop in that DVD and enjoy the day!

Mean Girl: It's October 3rd Last year we took a look at Mean Girls on the Nintendo DS :)
October 2, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

I hope Ello can handle the bandwidth generated by Facebook defectors

With promises of no ads and no intention to sell your personal info, Ello has made quite a splash as they've been ramping up over the Summer. Some are ecstatic to discover a new social network while others preach of their demise. It's hard to predict success, but there are certainly a lot of folks out there who are tired of Facebook's behavior.

I'm excited to explore another outlet for our retro gaming content! All social networks evolve over time. It should be interesting to see where Ello goes and how they might be different from other networks.

This letter arrived in my email today:

Ello letter I'm jealous of all the folks who've already received invites to Ello. I want in!! :)
October 1, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A new Ms. Pac-Man maze will benefit the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Bay Tek Games logo Bandai Namco has created a new maze as an add-on to several of it's popular Ms. Pac-Man mobile gaming titles as part of it's Ms. Pac-Man Pink Ribbon Campaign. This 99¢ update adds special a pink Hope maze. Proceeds from sales go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation during the month of October.

The 1980 success of Pac-Man inspired Ms. Pac-man to hit arcades in January 1982. She was ported to numerous Atari consoles and computers as well as Sega consoles and the NES... among others. She was (and still is) a popular gal ;)

Ms. Pac-Man was available for Apple's iPhone since 2008, but her android release did not come until 2013. She hit the big screen (iPad) in 2011.

The Pink Ribbon Ms. Pac-Man Hope Maze is available for the following mobile games:
  • iOS
    1. PAC-MAN / Ms. PAC-MAN
    2. PAC-MAN Lite / Ms. PAC-MAN Lite
    3. Ms. PAC-MAN for iPad / Ms.PAC-MAN for iPad Lite
  • Android
    1. Ms. PAC-MAN
    2. PAC-MAN + Tournaments

Ms. Pac-Man Hope Maze After making a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation... who's going to hack this new maze for the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man? :)