Monday, February 28, 2011

Build a statue of me, or there'll be... trouble.

The following is a hilarious video plea from Peter Weller about plans in Detroit to build a statue of the character Robocop, a role he played through the movies Robocop (1987) and Robocop 2 (1990). They made another theatrical sequel, a made-for-TV movie and a TV series, but Weller stamped robotically away from those projects.

The movement to cast the metal lawbringer in bronze is spearheaded by a very active  Facebook page, currently enjoying, at the time of this writing, Like nods from 1573 people. There is also a Kickstarter page if you'd like to kick in a buck or two for the effort. The best guess to why this campaign is catching fire, aside from the fact that Robocop is awesome, is that Detroit, being the city the movies are based in, has come up against seriously hard times over the last decade, and people need to make something positive out of it. Sure, it seems like a frivolous gesture in the face of such hardships, but sometimes a frivolous gesture can make all the difference. Having a life-size statue of Robocop would be a tourism-generating landmark, at the very least.

I, for one, welcome our new robot ├╝bercop.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Quick Look Back: The Castles of Dr. Creep

Creep Cover

Playing this game again brings back a flood of memories, of me and a buddy playing hours upon hours of it on the C64 back in my high-school days, threatening each other with the laser, cheering each other wildly as we ran the last few seconds down trying to pass a ticking force-field, and racing each other to be first through each door.

Hobbs, circa 2007
The game was designed by Ed Hobbs, for Broderbund Software.  Broderbund was a powerhouse game publisher from the 80's into the early 90's; the list of classic hits from them would be too large to reproduce here, but some gems include Choplifter!Lode Runner and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?.  Hobbs himself did Seafox for the company, and later the combat flight simulator Operation Airstorm for Expert Software.

There's really only one word to describe The Castles of Dr. Creep:  diabolical.  It's a platform game, but with a heavy puzzle element.  I'm not sure of the plot, but I think it revolves around the eponymous Dr. Creep needing to sell off his 13 castles; perhaps the electric bill for all those lightning spheres got to be too much.  At any rate, players assume the role of a hapless buyer, only out to purchase a fixer-upper with a nice view of the moors, but finding themselves in a battle to escape alive.

The warm and inviting title screen.

The castles are listed in the menu in order of difficulty, but even the early castles present a daunting challenge, equipped with such amenities as one-directional poles, conveyor belts, the aforementioned lightning spheres and laser guns, teleportation pods... along with the (un)dead tenants who populate the castles such as mummies and Frankenstein monsters, each of whom have different abilities in chasing you down.

Frankies go to Horrorwood

There is a single-player mode, but the game really shines when two people get in front of the computer, making their way through the castle simultaneously.  Most puzzles and traps are designed so that two people working in tandem can greatly shorten the time it takes to make it to the exit door.  What generally ends up happening is one player will man a switch that needs to stay open while the other player makes his way through the screen.  Then the second player must either run through the gauntlet alone, with his buddy cheering (or jeering) him the whole time.  Either that, or you must split up and approach the room from another entrance; in these cases, each player move through their respective rooms alternately, until meeting up again.

I Had Four Mummies

The rooms in Creep make for some hilarious moments; controlling the laser and taking pot-shots as your buddy scampers down the ladder; running like mad to slip by a force field before the timer runs out; luring the mummies towards your friend as he flails helplessly on a ledge.  The graphics are clear and bright, if perhaps a bit sparse with simply a black field as a backdrop, although this can certainly aid in the feeling of isolation the game exudes.

It's a real testimony to the quality of a classic game when you fire it up nearly 30 years after playing it last, and you start yelling and giggling and squirming in your seat like you did as a kid.  The hallways and pathways of The Castles of Dr. Creep still hold their chilling allure decades later.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hard Disks On Sale

Here's a deal for you.  If you're tired of swapping floppies with your Apple II, why not buy yourself a hard drive?  For $1995, you can get 5M of storage.  It would take you a long time to fill that puppy up!  Or, if you really want to expand, get a whopping 15 Megs of space for only $2995.  You'll never want for storage space again!

So be the envy of all your nerdy friends, and get yourself some serious hardware.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pre-order Bonuses: A Cheap Shill


Pre-order exclusive content is the bane of my gaming existence. Things on this front have really gotten out of hand. Case in point: Rockstar's upcoming 40's film noir extravaganza L.A. Noire.

I would like to buy your game, Rockstar.  I am more than happy to pony up 70 bucks to immerse myself in your dark, sinister Los Angeles of the 1940's.  I want to exchange legal tender for your years of hard work.  I know what I want.  I want your game.  What I do NOT want, is to have to figure out WHERE to get your game, because different retailers offer different in-game incentives if you pre-order with them.  Look at this rap sheet of tawdry streetwalkers:

Gamestop - get "The Naked City" vise case, and a badge pursuit challenge

Amazon - unlocks "The Broderick" detective suit, which increases your fist-fighting abilities and lowers the damage you take fighting.

Wal-Mart - get "A Slip of the Tongue" traffic case

Best-Buy - get "The Sharpshooter" detective suit, increasing your abilities with rifles and pistols.

But wait, don't pre-order yet!  Look what else you get!  If you pre-order directly from Rockstar, you get an official L.A. Noire t-shirt.  Or perhaps you'll go to Target and get a $5 dollar gift card and a free Rockstar Games t-shirt by pre-ordering with them.

This is nuts.  All I want to do is buy the goddamn game and get the goddamn game.  The whole thing, without wondering what I might be missing out on because I didn't go with another retailer.  Sure, all this swag is probably in there anyway or will be patched in later.  But they never tell you that before hand, as the heavy beads of sweat pour down your forehead in the harsh interrogative glare of approaching release date.  So you're never quite sure.  I recommend anyone feeling the same way I do shoot Rockstar a tweet and demand that all this extra content be eventually available to everyone, regardless of where they bought the game.

Retail-based pre-order bonuses.  It's a mug's game.  And I don't want to play it.

The Breeding Continues

Any self-respecting  gamer with an Amiga computer back in the 90's had to have a copy of Alien Breed, created by Team 17 in 1991.  It started as a hardcore top-down shooter in the style of Gauntlet, that tested the mettle of many an Amigan with its endless hordes of alien attackers and stingy attitude towards health and ammo.

In the game-changing wake of Doom, Alien Breed morphed into an FPS with Alien Breed 3D in 1995, becoming the first type of game in that genre for the Amiga.  While the view the player had of the world in front of him was shrunk down to avoid over-taxing the Amiga's processing power, the 3D Breeds included more graphical flourishes, such as advanced lighting effects, more detailed floors and ceilings, and more intricate level design.  Labelled a Doom-killer, the dwindling user base of the Amiga computer platform ultimately left Doom developer id Software with little to worry about.

Team 17 has returned to its Gauntlet inspired roots with a new series of top-down Alien Breed games for the PSN, the last of which, Alien Breed: Descent, has just been released.  Both single and multi-player co-operative modes are available for this go-round with the Alien scum.

Check the link here for more info on the new Alien Breed game. 

Forget it, Jake. It's Polygontown.

Rockstar has released a new trailer for their eagerly anticipated next game, L.A. Noire.  Based in late 1940's Los Angeles, it follows a cop as he battles corruption in the ranks, while solving a string of brutal crimes.  The showstopper for this game is probably the facial capture technique the company has used, in order to catch every subtle nuance of the actors' faces as they deliver their lines.  You can see a bit of it in the trailer, and the linked "making of" vignette above, and it really is quite startling.  Whether this is a good or bad type of startling, we'll soon see. So it's L.A. Confidential, only I can walk around and shoot people?  I'm so there.

L.A. Noire is released on May 17, two days before my birthday.  Hint hint.

Confessions of a Gamer Dad

A brilliant article over at gamerswithjobs.com, about the perils of gaming while trying to responsibly raise kids.  I doubt any gamer with children can't read something in this story that doesn't mirror their own anguish at wanting to play games when the parasites, er I mean darling kids, demand attention.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

King's Quest III Remake Released


The gang at AGD Interactive have taken it upon themselves to remake several classic Sierra-Online adventures, and have just released their makeover of King's Quest III: To Heir is Human, originally released by Sierra in 1986.  The game graphics aren't completely modernized to today's standards, but are a nice SVGA overhaul.  The addition of a point-and-click interface, as opposed to the original's text parser, is also greatly appreciated.

It also retains the original's epic story of a royal baby stolen and a quest to regain a rightful place on the throne.  It was with KQIII that the storytelling powers of creator Roberta Williams really began to come into full blossom.

At a grand total of free, the price can't be beat. Available for the PC and Mac.

Shhhh!

Chell, Keeping Quiet
Kotaku has an interesting blog post today, coming to the defense of video game characters such as Half Life's Gordon Freeman or Chell from Portal, who stay silent through their games.

Blogger Inspector-Jones makes some good points about how silence allows the gamer to infuse more of themselves into the character they are playing, but I think silent game protagonists greatly affect overall game design, as well.  Half Life 2 hedges its bets a bit by having Alyx Vance often accompany Freeman, allowing her to give some exposition on what is happening.  But when gamers are by themselves, such as nearly the entirety of the Portal series, the lack of being able to guide the player through dialog forces game creators to speak via design: the way the environment is laid out must communicate what is expected.  The iconic signs from Portal are a great example of doing this right.  They give the player an idea of what is coming, without being a giant flashing arrow saying "GO THIS WAY".  And the nature of the icons themselves help shape the overall narrative, that of being a mouse trapped in a maze, given only the most clinical of instructions on how to proceed.
What Say You, Q*bert?

I also believe that, on some primitive level, silent game heroes create a connection in the minds of gamers back to the simpler times of the classic gaming era, when every character was practically mute.  Unless you had a voice synthesis module like the Intellivoice, that is.

In a lot of games, silence is indeed golden.

Speedball 2 Evolution: Ice Cream!

The iOS version of the much-beloved Bitmap Brothers game, originally released for the much-beloved Amiga computer platform in 1990 under the name Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe, is available for purchase in the app store today.

While receiving a slight graphical overhaul, play looks remarkably similar to how things went down in the arena back in the day: fast and brutal.

Here is the official iOS trailer:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Quick Look Back: Aztec


It's not an overstatement to describe Aztec as graphically dazzling, an action-adventure game released originally for the AppleII  and Atari 8-bit computers in 1982, and then a couple of years later for the C64. The game is all the more remarkable when you consider that most common adventure games of the era were limited to mere text to create the atmosphere.

It was designed by Paul Stephenson and distributed by Datamost, a company that produced a few other classic gaming gems, such as Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory in 1983.  Stephenson himself also designed Swashbuckler for the company, released the same year as Aztec.

The Title Screen Sets Us Up For Something Special

A colourful (if one had a colour monitor or TV set attached to their Apple) opening title screen greets you while the game loads.  A couple of screens of white text used to set up the story fool gamers into thinking that perhaps the graphics were a big come-on and that Aztec might be just another text adventure. Apparently the famed (but unstable)  Professor Von Forster found a lost temple, but disappeared without further contact. The player is then presented with a few options, such as choosing either to start a new game or load up a previously saved one.  A difficulty setting is then requested, ranging from 1 if you want to take things easy, all the way up to 8 if one is feeling suicidal.  Charging you with following in the Prof's footsteps, Aztec then puts the gamer in the scuffed shoes of a fearless adventurer, cutting through all that "red line representing travelling through the air from country to country" rigamarole by opening the gameplay with you standing right outside the Aztec tomb of real-life Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl. With the tap of a key, you descend into the mysterious depths.

Indeed, I DO Dare


The game is essentially a platformer, with large sprites for the adventurer and the various creatures he must dispatch or avoid.  It's quite a menagerie down there, with spiders, snakes, alligators, Aztec warriors and even dinosaurs calling Quetzalcoal's tomb home.  While the animations are pretty limited, it's the details of the artwork that really makes things pop.

There Be Dinosaurs Here

The layout of the tomb is randomized each time you play, and most of your time is spent searching for, opening and looking through boxes and piles of trash on the ground, which can contain weapons, health potions or just the scattered remains of poor Prof. Von Forster.  As you delve deeper the creatures get more dangerous, and the traps more cunning.  The end goal is to snatch a valuable jade idol that is hidden somewhere in the tomb, and then get out with your life.

Fresh Calamari For Dinner Tonight

Joining the creatures in their fight to do you in is the clunky control method.  Each action is assigned a specific key, so to walk you press "W" and then a direction key, and you'll keep walking until you hit "S" for stop.  You can also crouch, crawl, plant dynamite, jump, run, climb... it gets to be a bit much fumbling around for each key, although one you get the hang on it you can navigate the tomb quickly while playing the keyboard like a virtuoso pianist.  You also can enter a fight mode, where you wield either the machette or a pistol, but often it is unsure why you hit or miss something. The sound isn't any great shakes either; just the bloops and bleeps from the Apple's internal speaker, but this somehow adds to the game's spartan charms.  And being able to blow your way out of a jam with a well placed stick of TNT is a play mechanic that is still fairly unmatched in adventure gaming, decades later.

My Bones Will Serve As a Warning To Others

I have a particularly fond memory of Aztec, because when I was going to high school the first computers we got were two AppleII's for the science class.  For some reason there was a copy of Aztec in the library of disks, so every chance I got I put that bad boy into the floppy drive and loaded up the game.  After a few times of him catching me and telling me to stop playing games with the computers, the science teacher banned me from the keyboard for a week.  I learned my lesson well; when I regained computer privileges I was more careful he wasn't around when I played.

Sure, it's no Uncharted, but at the time, this was as close to living out the Indiana Jones dream as you could get on a computer, with Raiders of the Lost Ark having been released just the year before.  Aztec, complete with all its bugs and quirks, makes for an unforgettable AppleII gaming treasure.

Helping Preserve Video Game History

Hoping to find a suitable, convenient display space to house their extensive materials concerning the history of video games and other digital media, MADE or the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment has launched a campaign to raise funds for the endeavor. Kickstart, the service they are using to drum up the cash, is the Groupon of fundraising; it provides a venue for people to find projects they might be interested in funding, and easily enables them to donate towards the cause.

MADE is based in the San Fransisco Bay area, and will showcase playable video game artifacts as well as provide a venue for various gaming events and talks.

A space where gamers can go and physically relive the history of the medium? Sounds like a worthy cause to me.

Follow the Kickstart link here: http://kck.st/fFXWhb

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Breaking You Bit By Bit

An interesting retro video game-themed anti-smoking ad.  Supposedly from thetruth.com, an anti-smoking campaign that takes an abstract approach on the subject.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Quick Look Back: Raid Over Moscow

Glancing over our shoulders to the games that were, we see Raid Over Moscow, released in 1984 by Access Software for the Commodore 64. It was released for most of the other major computer systems of the day the next year.

RoM was done by Bruce Carver, for the company he founded in 1982. This game and the terrific Beach-Head released in 1983 would be enough to put Access into the history books. However, Carver and his brother Roger also did the seminal golf game Leaderboard for the C64, likely the first true golf simulation most people had ever played. Not resting on their laurels, the Brothers Carver would take what they learned from Leaderboard and produce the wildly popular Links series of golf simulations for DOS computers, the first game appearing in 1990. When Access was purchased by Microsoft in 1999, the Links series absorbed Microsoft's Golf games, continuing as further Links games up to 2003.


RoM puts the player in the shoes of squadron commander of a U.S. space station, on shift just as those godless commies decide to start WWIII. Once a launch as been detected, the clock starts ticking towards nuclear annihilation. You must get your pilots into their futuristic fighter aircraft, out of the hanger of the space station, and down to Earth where they match up against the defences of the city that has launched missiles towards North America.



Once on the ground, you enter a kind of Zaxxony mode where you fly through city defences in a psuedo-3D view. Dodging tanks, helicopters and trailing anti-aircraft missiles, you try and deal as much damage to the city before taking on the Soviet control silos.



With the control silo taken out, you rinse and repeat until you get down to just Moscow. One last run through the city, and you come to the Soviet Defense Center. With your bazooka, you must open the door to the reactor while comrades snipe from the walls and a strange UFO-looking tank tracks your every move. Once you open the white door to the reactor and have cleared out the enemy soldiers, it's in to the reactor base and a duel with the robot maintenance crew. If you dispatch them with enough time to spare, you escape to fame and glory. If you fail to leave enough time to make it back to your ship, your family will be notified of your heroism.

RoM is one of the more compelling games in the C64 library, even though it is a mish-mash of other games such as the aforementioned Zaxxon, and it is sometimes not obvious what you have to do to continue the mission. The graphics are nice and clean, however, and pretty advanced for a C64 game. Although I often wonder why the U.S. bothers with fighter jets when they obviously have a team of giants that tower over these fighter jets to do their bidding. They actually have to shrink these big guys before they fit in the jets. Where is the efficiency in that? Just strap rockets to the back of those bad boys and let them at it. And another question to leave you with... why are they wearing tap shoes?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Yar's Return


A remake of Yar's Revenge, a classic from the Atari 2600 library, is due soon on Xbox Live and PSN.  Originally released for the 2600 in 1981, Yar's Revenge had started out as a home game licence of Cinematronics' successful arcade game Star Castle.  Atari programmer Howard Scott Warshaw juggled the play mechanics around when the deal with Cinematronics fell through, and Yar's Revenge was born.

The sequel boasts updated graphics, of course, but loses the free-wheeling feeling of the original by being a rail-shooter, keeping the player on a straight track from which there isn't much deviation.  In this regard, it appears much less original than its 2600 brethren.  Expect it to hit consoles soon.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Prepare Your Portals


Valve's Gabe Newell has confirmed that the eagerly anticipated Portal 2 has been finished, and will be going gold imminently.  Looks like the April 19, 2011 release date will hold.  Good news for those of us who have been drooling over this bad boy ever since finishing the wonderful original.

Here's to you, GLaDOS.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Human Trafficking Awareness

This is a terrific animated video made to raise awareness of the issue of human trafficking. It is really quite something.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Return the Avatar

Play Ultima IV online, complete with saves, with this link. It is a slightly updated, but completely faithful version of one of the best Ultima experiences ever. Ultima IV was the first of the vaunted "Avatar" trilogy of Ultima games, and its feeling of epic accomplishment was a gaming revelation.




You can read more about it, Origin, the Ultima series, and Lord British, in this article on TDE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Filming Rapture


Anyone who has played the two Bioshock games knows that the partially destroyed, underwater city that they are set in, called Rapture by its founder Andrew Ryan, is a big draw of the series. So gamers were jazzed that a film based in this fallen world, helmed by serious director Gore Verbinski, was in the pipeline. But even though Verbinski helmed the first three of the phenomenally successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he apparently doesn't have enough clout to get the Bioshock movie made, in a way that he sees fit for the source material.

Comingsoon.net has an interview with Verbinski, who jumped ship from the Bioshock project two years ago, where he states that the reason for his departure is that he could not raise financing to do the film with an R rating. The combination of a dark vision and the high price tag of creating Rapture evidently sunk the project.

It's a sad tale, because with all the crap movie adaptations of vaunted video games we get nowadays, the Verbinski Bioshock project looked like it had all the makings of a classic movie of a very special video game. You could also look at the silver lining: at least Verbinski refused to water down the material to meet a PG rating. Current development of the Bioshock movie is unknown.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy V-Day


For the perfect Valentine's Day present, why not give her a portal... to your heart? Portal 2, sequel to what has to be the most delightful game ever created, is now available for pre-order. And with the new co-operative play mode, you both can have hours of fun jumping into each other's holes.



Er, that didn't sound right.

Portal Page

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Continuing Legacy


Watched Tron: Legacy for a second time last night, with friends.  Every one agreed it was a good movie, that like its predecessor has a lot to say above making a lot of noise, looking good, and selling toys.

While the original Tron strived to create a religious allegory out of the world of computers, its sequel creates a parallel between the quest for digital perfection and Nazi puritanism.    Flynn attempts to create the perfect system, but in the end realizes that his son represents his greatest creation.

And yes, it's easy on the eyes, to boot.

Friday, February 11, 2011

But No Bubblegum


Joystiq, among other sites,  has the goods, and I mean goods, on the Duke Nukem Forever "Balls of Steel" Collector's Edition. The official price is listed at 99 bucks U.S., and will at least initially only be available through Amazon and Gamespot in North America. It comes with a plethora of pack-in items, including a large bust of our wise-cracking hero, although unfortunately no roll of dollar bills for the peelers is included.

And definitely no bubble gum.

Too Much Bioshock

Funny comic, if you've ever experienced Rapture.

You know you're playing too much Bioshock when...

Skyrim Pics

These are purported to be hi-res snaps from Skyrim.  Yes, I know, don't judge a game by its eye-candy, but these look pretty spectacular.  The forest ones look like a photograph.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take Two Takes Top Spot


On review aggregate Metacritic's list of top game developers of 2010, Take Two Interactive has nabbed the top spot. The site provides all game reviews worth mentioning all under one roof, assigning its own average score for a game based on these scores, as well as providing an average of its user submitted scores. Their list ranks devs on how well their games have scored on the site.

Not surprising that Take Two came out ahead, with it releasing both Red Dead Redemption and Civilization V last year. RDR was a massive hit that turned the FPS genre on its head with a strong story and amazing production values. Civ V takes the vaunted Civilization series, dumps what isn't needed, adds its own twists, and rounds out the whole package with impressive graphics.

Take two bows, Take Two.

Metacritic Best Developers List

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Culling the Herd

You know you're playing too much Mass Effect 2 when you find yourself thinking when somebody bugs you, "I wish they'd develop a genophage for your kind.".

Come Get Some!

Some hands-on previews of the fabled Duke Nukem Forever are surfacing, from such gaming outlets as:

Kotaku
Ars Technica

And soon many more, I'm sure.  I'm also sure that there a lot of long bearded mad prophets in the streets right now, armed with the game's scheduled release date of May 3, 2011, holding up signs and screaming "It's the end of the World!  Duke Nukem Forever is coming!".  First announced in 1997, DNF is, without a doubt, one of the most infamous pieces of vapourware in the history of gaming.  Bearing the burden of being the sequel to one of the most beloved FPS games ever made, the project has faltered many times, not the least of setbacks being the closing of its developer 3D Realms in 2009.

And now, Duke is back.  Handed to developer Gearbox, makers of the terrific SF FPS Borderlands (2009), we'll soon see that cigar-chomping lady-killer back in action.  Hail to the KING, baby!

Here's some gameplay footage of the original I made a few years ago.




Official Duke Nukem Forever Webpage

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Good News, Everyone!

Skyrim, the 5th installment of the vaunted Elder Scrolls RPG series currently in development at Bethesda, is being reported as dumping the scaling difficulty that marred the previous entry in the series, Oblivion. In that game, as you levelled up, the world around you would level up as well. So you'd be travelling in the countryside and get accosted by highwaymen with high-level armour. Kinda puts a crimp in the joys of getting better gear if everyone else just gets it by default as you increase in levels.  In Skyrim, the game will scale downwards in difficulty if you suck at it, not increase everyone if you're good. There will be definite signs given if the player finds an area that's currently way above their pay grade, as well.

That's one major annoyance from Oblivion cut down. Hopefully they will also have more than three actors doing the voices for every character.

Check out the link here.

Could the PS3 Be Pulled Off the NA Market?

This is an interesting story. LG patent infringement case could potentially force Sony to pull the PS3 off the market in North America. So much for Sony's "10 year plan" for their console, heh.

Check the article here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Incredible Rollercoaster Tycoon park.

I played this game a lot when it came out in 1999, it's a terrific entry in the 'God Game' category. I played a lot, but I never could have built something like this; a multi layered monstrosity with what looks like four gargantuan coasters squeezed into it.


I mean, it was hard enough just trying to lay down the ride queues in a competent manner, let alone trying to weave coasters amongst each other in such a small space like that. It would have driven me insane!

Kudos.

My Gaming History


Here's my path through gaming history. It most likely started with me and my sister in the lobby of a motel my family was staying at on vacation one year, probably in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. They had a sit-down PONG machine, and we spent a lot of time batting that little white dot back and forth. On another Florida vacation, I remember being at the heels of my mother, shopping at a grocery store that almost certainly Winn Dixie. I saw a tall machine with a big scope standing off to the side, with an apple box conveniently placed so little ones could reach. This was, of course, Sea Wolf. I drifted over to climb up and peer into the scope, and after hitting a few buttons on the console to my surprise the game started up; someone had left a credit in it. Sweeping left and right with the scope, I did my best to sink ships while avoiding the floating mines, trying to line up a shot on that pesky, speedy PT boat.

One day in the back seat of the car one fall, thumbing through the real Christmas bible, aka the Sears Wish Book, I saw the Atari VCS. And all those games! "Mom, can I have this for Christmas?", I asked. The answer was unexpected. Instead of a "Heck no!", I got a "maybe". My parents had to drive a couple of hours to over the border, and pay 400 bucks for it, but I got an Atari under the tree that year.

A couple of years later I sold it at a huge loss for a ColecoVision, the epiphany of which I describe in this article on the site, here. Then I migrated to computer gaming, selling the Coleco at another big loss to buy a Commodore Vic-20. It would be over 20 years until I tried console gaming again. Next, of course, came the C-64. Then I got an Amiga 500. The Amiga was an amazing computer, which I will talk about in an article coming soon. Then an Amiga 600, and as Commodore and the Amiga regrettably went bust, went dormant for awhile, until picking up a Pentium II somewhere along the line, then moved up the rank building ever-increasingly faster PCs.

I finally broke my console exile with the Wii... I was fascinated by the control scheme. From there, I picked up a PS3 and fell in with a great group of gamers over at The Beautiful Peoples Club, an organization for gamers over 30. These days, if I do gaming on the computer it's with the sorry selection available for my 27" iMac, although with Steam now supporting the Mac things have gotten better on that front.

So that's my long, strange trip. Hopefully I'll live long enough to take a run through a holodeck someday.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Massive and Effective, Too

As I was toiling away on the aforementioned latest article on the site, about three video game movies that mattered, towards the end of work on it, I started to be remiss on editing it. I had taken a months-long break from gaming on my PS3 while putting the page together, and suddenly I was turning on the console again to play.

What was dragging me away? The marvellous Mass Effect 2, that's what, by the RPG wizards at Bioware. Yes, the game mechanics are top notch, the RPG elements simple yet incredibly effective, combat is endless joy, all these are true. But what really startles me the most when playing are the production values of the game. I don't think I've ever played a game that looked and felt so good, not just with the graphics but with how the whole thing is put together, from ship design to character models to the voice acting to even the diverse and brilliantly designed wardrobe.

It's like you're watching a new Star Trek episode, one that has miraculously brought the series back from the smoking pit that it has been thrown into with the last few incarnations of the show, and doing it with great style and practiced storytelling. But this is no Star Trek. It is an intricate and stunning universe that keeps you guessing and constantly pushing forward. And it's not to be missed by any gamer worth his salt. Or Iridium, either.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A GAME?

After 13 years online, I guess it's time to put up a blog on TDE. It will be a repository of my thoughts, with a focus on site updates and other happenings with classic gaming and gaming in particular. For this 1st entry, I will call your attention to the first major article I've published in awhile.

It is a retrospective of three video game focused movies from the early 80's, the three that really shaped me as a gamer: Tron, The Last Starfighter and WarGames. It's an epically sized article that took about five or so months to research and write. So, if you have some time on your hands, please check it out:

Three Video Game Movies That Mattered

Later.