Video Game Blog
October - December 2007

Blogs are the thing to do on the net.  While I have done a similar thing in my newsletters for years, I thought I would take a shot at a few blogs on this site.  I will start off with one that is strictly about video games and if things go well, I may try one on comics and possibly just my day to day thoughts.  So check back here and see what the latest is I am writing about.

This blog will deal with all video games from classic to modern to arcades and pinball.  Just whatever I am thinking about at the time.  If you see something you want to comment on, feel free to email me.  I will try to respond but I am not the fastest in responding.  Enjoy!

If you enjoy Tom's writing, check out these are sections of the website:

Video Game Blogs from March - April 2005
Video Game Blogs from May - June 2005
Video Game Blogs from July - August 2005
Video Game Blogs from September - October 2005
Video Game Blogs from November - December 2005
Video Game Blogs from January - June 2006
Retrogaming Times - The Classic Video Game Newsletter.
Bit Age Times - Video Game Newsletter for the Second Generation.
Just Newsprint - The Comic Newsletter for Comic Readers.
Arcade After Dark - My other website that features video game comic strips.
KZ Comics - My tribute site to the comic book company I founded and ran in the 1980's.

 

12/30/2007
Had some friends over and we pulled out my Live Aid DVD and watched all the bands from the 1980's as they played for Africa.  It was cool to see all the crazy hairstyles and to see Madonna and Bono in the old days.  It made me think about how they could do something like that in the video game industry.  Maybe an all-star lineup of video game creators and their characters in some wild game.  Not sure what kind of game it would be, but the money could go to charity.  Doubt we would ever see that, but it could be real cool if done well.

Bought my kids a Nintendo Wii for Christmas.  Had to go with a package deal to get it.  We ended up having to buy 6 games and an extra controller to get it, but the kids love it, so it is all worthwhile.  I have not played it too much, but it is pretty neat.  I can see how the controllers are a novelty, but with some time and effort, I can see some good game ideas with them.  Let's hope programmers really take advantage of this.

12/24/2007
Happy Holidays to everyone!  Hope you get lots of video game for the holidays!

12/23/2007
Everyday I get a spam mail about pharmacy.  While I usually never even give these a second glace, this one is different.  It is always from different people (spam bots or email harvesting) and it is always misspelled.  It is spelled "pharmmaccy" or something very close to that.  Maybe it is just me, but if you are going to spam, shouldn't you at least spell the word right?  There is a zero percent chance of me falling for these emails, but when you misspell it, the odds go to way below zero.  Or as you would spell it, "zeerow." 

I know he is not in the news as much, but I really think that Namco should sue Pacman Jones to give up the nickname. 

People always email me asking me to talk about this game or that game.  They will say stuff like "Can you talk about the Rayman series" or "You mention Final Fantasy but never talk about Dragon Warrior.  Why?"  There, I just talked about two games that I have been asked to talk about.  Happy?

I have been listening to alot of Rolling Stones lately.  I especially been listening to "Satisfaction".  When I think about the song, I think about the beginning guitar riff and how instantly recognizable it is.  It is probably one of the most recognizable beginnings for a song ever.  It made me think of what opening music or sound in a video game would be on the same level?  Would it be the beginning of Super Mario Bros or the "wakka wakka" sound of Pac-Man or the theme from Legend of Zelda? 

For video game vultures like myself, the best time of the year is coming.  As kids and adults across the country get new games systems, more of them will be getting rid of their old game systems and games to get more money to buy new games.  This is when the used video game stores start getting alot of trade-in and start cutting prices to move stock.  It is also when the big stores (aka Best Buy, Circuit City and others) start to cut prices on the glut of games that did not sell during the holidays.  You can get some good deals in the next few months.
 
12/20/2007
It will be interesting to see how the sales of the three systems are over the holidays.  It will also be interesting to see if the PS3 makes up any ground on the XBOX 360.  It is pretty much a given that the Wii has first place and the only thing that is keeping them from running away with it, is their inability to produce enough units to meet demand. 

Next year is a make or break year for the PS3.  They finally have the system at a price that is attractive and the blu ray is finally gaining some momentum.  Now all they need is the must have games to get the non early adopters to buy a system.  Right now, they have three big bullets in their gun that they need to all be hits.  Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and Gran Turismo are the three games that can put them over the top or sink them.  There are other games that will help, but these are the big three and they are all exclusive to the PS3. 

I have read on the 1up website that there is speculation that Marvel Universe Online may be cancelled.  While it is just speculation at this time, I do hope this is not true.  But one has to wonder when the only trailer they made (at least that I am aware of) came out in 2006.  It is one of those games that I was interested in seeing.  There is so much potential with the Marvel Universe and all its characters.  I really thought that Microsoft should have bought Marvel outright many years ago, when they were first launching the XBOX.  I also thought they should have bought Wizard of the Coast.  Could you imagine the advantage that would give Microsoft if they had exclusive rights to all Marvel games for their system.  And throw in Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons and the other Wizards of the Coast properties and you have some serious properties.  But instead, they went and bought Rare who gave them such games as Viva Pinata and Perfect Dark. 

12/15/2007
It is not video game related, but I thought I would write about it anyway.  I was at a store looking at those new light bulbs that use less energy and last for years.  I have changed most of my lights in my house over to them.  Anyway, there were these generic bulbs that said on the side "Guaranteed to last up to 7 years."  When I read this, I did a double take.  After reading it again, I could not think of a more worthless guarantee.  If it said it was guaranteed to last 7 years, that would be something.  But what exactly is up to 7 years?  Would one day be up to 7 years?  That has got to be one of the most pathetic things I ever saw on a package.  And know what?  I bet people read that and think the guarantee is 7 years.

There is a commercial on the radio from a car dealer that says if you buy a new car from them, they give you a backseat full of presents.  You get a Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, Ipod and a $1000.00 gift card to Target.  At first this sounds like a good deal.  That is if you are in the market for a new car and want a car from them.  But when you think about it and realize that they are probably just keeping a factory rebate, then it is a pretty bad deal.  My guess is you get a $5,000.00 rebate from the manufacturer to buy their 2007 models and instead of giving it to you, they instead give you two grand worth of stuff and pocket the other three grand.  I could be wrong, but that is what it sounds like to me.  Now if they threw in an XBOX 360 Elite system and a big screen LCD television, they may have a deal.  Not with me as I buy my cars used, but maybe with someone else.

When are the quirky titles from Japan going to come over for the PS3?  That was my favorite reason for owning a PS2 was the large selection of unique games.  Stuff like Road Trip (and not the awful Hooters Road Trip), Everblue 2, Dog's Life and Gallop Racer.  I know most people just want more sports games and FPS, but I like the strange quirky games.  The weirder the better and the PS2 was the home to a ton of these.  But will the PS3 be the next place for these games or will they possibly end up on the Wii?  I do not see the XBOX 360 getting them as it does not have a strong Japanese presence.  


12/09/2007
One of the most common emails I get is people wanting to play classic games and wondering where to find them.  Well, I am here to give you a link to a site that has virtually all the NES games to play, for free!  And you don't have to load anything onto your hard drive to play them.

http://www.virtualnes.com/index.html

I read an article in the local paper about how the Nintendo Wii is becoming a big hit with seniors.  Many retirement homes are buying them so the seniors can play bowling and golf.  It seems many of the seniors have problems throwing a 15 pound bowling ball, but the Wii controller is not a problem.  It is good to see that Nintendo has truly made a system for all ages.  This has been the goal of video games since the beginning. 

I remember in the old days (actually the PS2 days, but to some people that is the old days) when a system would be hot and you would see a ton of them for sale in the classified ads in the paper.  I looked in the local paper and did not see a single Nintendo Wii for sale.  I was stunned.  Guess the effects of ebay have made a big difference on the classified ads.

I finally found King Kong for the XBOX for $5.00 and it was in nice shape.  Have not played it yet, but do look forward to it!  Also picked up Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance for $2.50.  I have been wanting to play all three of the gladiator games and already own Gladius.  This one was finally at a price that I could not pass up.
  
12/03/2007
While going through the newsgroups, I found a few cool sites mixed among all the spam and flames.  So enjoy them!

First off, with the holidays here, we have the advent calendar.  But this one does not give chocolates.  Instead each day it has a different classic video game behind a box.  So if you want to count down the holidays in classic game style, check out this site!

http://retrospec.sgn.net/christmas/2007/

The second site is for the person who had enough money to buy the Dream Arcade (listed a few days earlier) and wants a pinball machine to go with it.  Ultrapin is an all digital pinball machine that now comes loaded with 12 pinball tables!  Before it only had six tables, but now you get twice as much pinball for the same price.  Granted, it is almost five grand for the machine, but you are talking about a real pinball machine here.  They say there are more pinball packs coming, but I do not know the price.  So if you have the money, here is the next best thing to real pinball.

http://www.bmigaming.com/ultrapin.htm

I saw a commercial for the Hitman movie and was surprised by it.  I don't remember hearing it was in production.  What surprised me more was a video game movie being made and Uwe Boll is not involved.  After reading the reviews, I am even more surprised he was not involved.  Maybe he will get to do the sequel.

12/02/2007
The big news in the video game industry is how the French company, Vivendi is looking to buy a controlling share of Activision.  While this would give it a huge online presence with World of Warcraft and all the Blizzard games (Diablo, Starcraft, etc...) under one banner, it also means the end of the first third party company in video game history.  And it also means the end of one of the biggest American video game companies.  I know I will receive emails from people saying how things will not change that much and how it is a good thing, but I do not see it.  I see them taking away the identity of Activision that has made it so popular for so long.  The company has a long track record of great games from as far back as Pitfall and River Raid on the Atari 2600 to Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk on the modern systems.  Mark my words, in ten years, Activision will all but cease to exist.  It's name will disappear and its programmers will all either move on or work on Vivendi titles.  Just look at how the Atari name is slowly fading.  Ubisoft bought them and now we are slowly seeing them die off.

I am surprised that no one has tried to buy up the rights to more of the old time video game companies.  I figured that someone would be buying up the rights to the Intellivision game from the Blue Sky Rangers.  There may have been an offer, but it never made the news.  While the games are fairly primitive by today's standards, they could bring in some decent money as downloads on the XBOX 360, PS3 and Wii.  Only charge a buck or two per game (however that works out in points or credits or whatever it is you buy these days) and I bet alot of people who have a few points here or there would buy baseball or Thin Ice or Astrosmash.  I still think if someone had some money and some drive, they could make a good profit from buying up little arcade companies that no longer exist or you don't really hear about.  Companies like Cinematronics with games like Ripoff, Star Castle and Jack the Giant Killer.  Or a company like Exidy that made classic games like Venture, Pepper II and Mousetrap.  There are a ton of companies like this, just look at all the companies that made games for the NES that came and went.  I bet the right company could build up a big portfolio of games that they could put on these systems and sell.

It is amazing at how many emails I get every holiday from people asking me which system to buy.  The best advice I can give you is to make a list of your top ten favorite games and then go and check off which system has the most games off your list on it.  One thing to remember with video games is that everyone's tastes are different.  What you like and what I like are probably different.  Personally, I have no interest in the Wii.  My kids want it and they would love it.  They think Mario is awesome.  They just love Nintendo made games.  Myself, I feel like I have played enough Mario for one lifetime.  I have nothing against Nintendo games, it is just they don't have the same appeal to me now that they did years ago.  But that is just me.  If I had to pick one system right now, I would go with the XBOX 360.  It has the most games right now that I want to play.  The new Elder's Scroll, Bioshock, Gears of War, Halo 3, Dead Rising and Blue Dragon are reason enough to want to own it.  But if I had to choose for the long haul, I would probably go with the PS3.  I think that Sony's first party software is better than Microsoft.  Take away Halo and what else does Microsoft make that is a must have?  The PS3 will have the next Gods of War game.  And I can only hope that the guy who made Ico and Shadow of Colossus is working on another title for the PS3.  And I have an interest in Afrika and Aqua, both of which are just coming to the PS3.  Then you have possible exclusives like Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid (I say possible because as we seen with Grand Theft Auto and Devil May Cry, nothing that isn't a first party is guaranteed.), which make the system that much more interesting.  And being able to play Blu Rays without any extra adapter is very appealing.  But I am sitting on the fence on this one and waiting.  Maybe next year I will make the plunge, but right now, I am just waiting it out.

11/30/2007

Just read on USA Today that Evel Knievel died.  What a sad day for people from my generation.  He was the Michael Jordan of my era, the person that all the kids wanted to be.  I can remember my friends, cousins, my brother and I all imitating him.  Granted, he was jumping buses and cars, while we were jumping boxes and big wheels.  The man was a legend and he will be missed.

Maybe there is a video game idea for doing stunts.  I know there is the Stuntman game, but one where you would actually jump cars and as you succeeded, you could use the money to get better bikes and more skills.  And you could design your own type of stunts to pull off and challenge others online to beat them.  Sorta a sandbox kind of game where you start off in small towns, jumping a handful of stuff and as you moved up, you unlocked more stuff to use in stunts as well as more cash and fame.  Then you could create your own crazy stunts like jumping over a pit of tigers and going through flaming hoops.  Or even non motorcycle type stunts.  I bet there is a good game in there somewhere.  I just sending them out and hopefully someone out there is taking notes.  You can make millions off my ideas.  Just send me a free copy of the game when it gets finished.

I have not seen as many of those plug and play joysticks this year.  You know the ones with Pac-Man and a half a dozen other games in a joystick that you plug into the TV and start playing.  I really wanted to see them take those a step further.  It would be nice if they did some stuff like added a battery to keep track of high scores.  Another idea they started to do but never really took any further was additional carts.  If you made one nice controller for $20.00 that came with four games and then sold the carts for $5.00 each that would add an extra 2-4 games, I think you could have something.  But my biggest problem with them is no high score feature.  What good is Frogger or Ms. Pacman if you can't save the high scores? 
 
11/29/2007
Time for another video game song.  While not as good as the Frustrations song, it is still fun.  It is a rap song, which is probably my least favorite kind of music, but it is about Atari and that helps.  It is called "My Atari" and it is pretty funny.  Check it out!

http://www.thefump.com/fump.php?id=144

And here is another link for everyone out there.  Someone sent me a link to a blog he is doing about the rising cost of the Nintendo Wii.  Yes, once again Nintendo is not making enough Wii's.  People are waiting in line for them, kids will have no Wii for Christmas again and profiteers will make a ton of money off them.  What is a parent to do?  Buy their kids a PS3 or XBOX 360.  By the time you add in the mark-ups, you could get one of these systems with a stack of movies.  Or you could tell them that Santa will give them a Wii with a bunch of games after Christmas when the elves make more.  But with the way Nintendo is going, that may be spring of 2009.

http://blog.videogamepricecharts.com/2007/11/make-150-by-not-playing-your-wii.html

With the popularity of the Wii, I figure we should be seeing a story about how someone on ebay paid $500.00 for a Wii box.  No system, just a box.  You always wonder how someone could be so low to try and rip people off.  You also wonder how someone can be so stupid to fall for it. 

Speaking of the Wii, when are they going to get around to releasing an Animal Crossing game for it?  My kids don't even have a Wii and they want it.  There has to be more demand for this than yet another Mario Party.


11/28/2007
Been awhile since I went through my mailbox of emails and looked for anything interesting to add to the blog.  Found a few sites that I think you may like. 

The first one is for the serious gamer.  If you are into classic games and always thought an arcade monitor was too restricting, then this machine is for you!  From Dream Arcades, you can buy a MAME type machine that is hooked up to a projection television.  So you can play Pac-Man or Galaga on a 120 inch screen!  And it comes bundled with a bunch of games (all legal software) including the aforementioned games as well as Midway, Namco and Atari classics and even Dragon's Lair!  So if you have money to burn (it is not cheap) and a wall large enough to display it, you could be the envy of all your friends. 

http://www.dreamarcades.com/120inch.shtml

One question I get asked quite often is where to go to get your old game systems fixed.  Well, if it is a Nintendo based system that needs to be fixed, I can give you a website address that can help you.  The Nintendo Repair Shop is the place to get your NES, Super NES and other Nintendo systems fixed as well as buy games for them.  So if you need a system fixed, this may be a place to look into.  Better than your alternatives that were either doing it yourself or buying a replacement system on ebay.

http://www.nintendorepairshop.com/

Finally, there is a new video game show in my area.  For anyone who doesn't know, I live around Cleveland, Ohio.  And until recently, there was one video game show that did not require an all day trip, the CCAG.  But now we have a second show.  It is the Neo Video Game Convention.  Not the best name, but the shows shows promise.   I just hope they get some work done on their website.  Less than a month from the show and half the site is under construction. So if you are in the area, you may want to check out the show. 

http://neovgcon.lan2unow.com/

I see the new Godzilla game for the Wii is getting bad reviews.  At least it is consistent with most Godzilla games.  They all tend to get average to bad ratings.  And most reviews say "If you are a Godzilla fan, you may enjoy this game."  or something similar to this.  But can't you say that about just about any game.  No matter how great Madden is, if you are not a fan of American Football, the odds are you will not like the game.

Speaking of Godzilla games, I think they should look into a different approach to the traditional Godzilla game.   I think the problem is they keep trying to do the same game over and over.  A variation of Rampage with monsters from Godzilla movies.  How about instead of being the monster, you instead are a human trying to escape from the monsters.  Before you dismiss this as a bad idea, think about it.  You are in a city that is under siege from Godzilla and other monsters.  It is up to you to not only escape from the city, but also rescue other people and ultimately help drive them out.  It could be a series of missions with some being you driving along, dodging the giant feet of the monsters.  You could have other missions that involve going up a building to save people and looking out the window and seeing a giant Godzilla going past your building.  They could also have a mission where you have to drive a vehicle with some experimental weapon on it to try and chase the monsters out of the city.  All the time, you are dodging falling buildings, huge monsters and their attacks.  Sorta a game that would combine a disaster game with Shadow of the Colossus.  If done right, I think it could be a huge hit (no pun intended)! 


11/26/2008
Looking at the list of upcoming games for the new systems and I see a few that really interest me.  The first is a game that I would suspect most of you don't have on your radar and even after I talk about it, probably still won't.  It is called Aqua (production name, it may and probably will change) from Artdink.  They are a little company that made a few of my favorite PS1 games.  This one is a sequel of sorts of the obscure but fun game, Aquanaut's Holiday.  It is one of those go into the ocean and explore kind of games.  There is a ton of sea life, shipwrecks and more to photograph and explore in your little sub.  I always loved the kind of games where you just explore.  It may seem boring to most people, but I like that kind of game.

There is also an ocean exploring game for the Wii, called Endless Oceans.  It looks to be pretty much the same premise.  It may be the kind of game that makes me actually look for a Wii out there.  While neither one is Everblue 2 (one of my all-time favorite games), it shows promise.

Not sure if it is a good game or not, but I am also intrigued by the new Link shooting game that comes with the light gun for the Wii.  Considering that both are $20.00, it is probably not very good, but at least the cost of entry is low.  Will have to look for some reviews on that one.


11/23/2007
I hope all you Americans had a Happy Thanksgiving.  For the rest of the world, hope your day was good as well.

Went and did my new annual event.  I went and saw how many people were waiting outside of Best Buy for the Black Friday sales.  Went at 11:00 PM and there were at least sixty people camped out.  They still had six hours ahead of them and it was freezing cold with blowing snow.  I looked through the ad and there were some good deals, but nothing that would make me wait outside and risk getting very sick.

The best deal I see so far is the Walmart deal and I don't like Walmart.  If you buy a PS3 with a 80 gig hard drive, you get 15 free Blu Ray movies!  Ten of your choice and five from the mail in offer.  Now that is a pretty good deal.  Not worth waiting out for, but a good deal.  The Walmart deal by the way is on Saturday and not Friday.  Too bad


11/19/2007
I see there are some Simpsons merchandise for gamers and I am not talking about the new game.  What I am talking about is joysticks with Simpsons on it and a cool Otto Axe guitar for the music games.  Now all they need is a Barney Beer Mug to use in a Wii version of Tapper and I will be sold.

I still find it odd that there is not another album of video game inspired music since Pacman Fever.  I know you have groups that do covers of NES songs and stuff like that, but is there another album that is just about video games and not remakes of songs from the games? 

Speaking of music and games, when is Frank Zappa going to make his way into the Guitar Hero and other type games?  His stuff is so out there that it would be interesting to play. 

Read a few reviews on Manhunt 2 and they say it is not very good.  The story is not as good and the character is ho hum.  That and the covered up violence makes for a lame game. 

If you want a stock tip, check into Take Two Interactive.  This is a company that makes most of their money from Grand Theft.  And know what?  GTA is delayed until next year.  Their fourth quarter numbers should suck, which means the stock will take a dive.  And if GTA is anything like the past few, then it should rebound nicely in the second quarter.  But I give no guarantees. 

If you want a long shot stock, buy Atari.  It is under $2.00 a share and is in the midst of restructuring.  But then it was close to be delisting , so it is a big gamble.  Are you a gambler?

Everyone talks about ninjas battling pirates.  I will end the debate, ninjas win on land and pirates on the sea.  End of story.

11/16/2007
Black Friday is almost upon us and for gamers who are willing to wake up early and wait in line, there are some deals out there.  Here are a few I found at a site called Black Friday 2007

Best Buy
Gun for the XBOX 360 - $4.95
Destroy All Humans for the XBOX - $4.95
Resident Evil 4, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Brunswick Pro Bowling or Rapala Tournament Fishing for the Wii $19.99 each
Bioshock (PC) - $24.99
Grand Theft Auto San Andreas for PS2 - $9.99
Spider-Man 3 - XBOX 360 - $19.99
Spider-Man 3 - PS2 - $14.99

Circuit City
God of War 2 with $10.00 gift card - $39.99
Halo 3 with $10.00 gift card - $59.99
Super Mario Galaxy - $34.99
Wii Remote and Nunchuks - $2.99

Target
Atari Flashback - $17.00
The Simpsons Game - PSP - $17.00
Heavenly Sword - $48.00

Toys R Us
All Gamecube and XBOX games are Buy 1 Get 1 Half Off

As you can see, there are some deals but nothing amazing.  Nothing to get me out of bed for.  I am bummed as I usually use this day to get my Simpsons DVDs but no real deals this year.  Oh well.

11/11/2007
Just read where they killed Captain America in the comic books.  Maybe it is just me, but after they killed (and then brought back) Superman, any death in comics is no big deal.  When you kill off the biggest star in the industry, how do you top that?  I remember when I had my comic store and after the death of Superman, someone asked me what character's death could be as big as Superman.  I could only think of one character that could have the same impact...Mickey Mouse.  And we all know the chances of that happening.

If you read enough of my blogs, you know that I always come up with ideas for video games.  Some good and some not so good.  One that I think would have a chance of being good is one that would feature many of the early anime characters.  If you could somehow come up with an idea that could incorporate Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Tobor the 8th Man, Speed Racer and Gigantor.  I think there is some potential here and it could capture the attention of middle age men and women in both the US and Japan.  And to help build the interest, they could add a DVD that had an episode or two from each show.  That could also be used to help sell the DVDs of the series.  Not sure what kind of video game it could be.  Possibly it could be a bunch of smaller games, each one capturing the feel of the show.  You could have a racing game for Speed Racer, a platformer for Astro Boy, etc...

Stopped at Target yesterday and looked at the computer games.  While I rarely buy computer games as I hate having to go online to load patches to get a game I paid money for to work, I am always interested in what is out there.  A few games caught my attention.  The first was Zoo Tycoon 2.  Not so much for the game itself, but for the expansion that featured Extinct Animals.  I think it would be cool to have a zoo with wooly mammoths and dodo birds in it.  Especially dodo birds, one of my favorite extinct animals. 

Another game I saw that made me scratch my head was Prison Tycoon.  Why would anyone want to simulate a prison?  I thought it was a stretch with School Tycoon and Cruise Ship Tycoon, but Prison Tycoon?  What are they thinking?  Exactly what market are they aiming for?  I guess with all the people that are going to prison these days, it may have an audience. 

11/06/2007
Just picked up Superman Returns for the XBOX.  I know it is a Superman game and that means it sucks, but it was cheap and I wanted to play it.  Plus, most of the negative reviews said things that didn't bother me.  They complained how it didn't follow the movie and there was no battle with Lex Luthor.  I can live with both of those things.  Well, so far it is hard to really like it as I suck at it.  I cannot get past the first level.  There are all these meteorites heading towards Metropolis and you have to blow them out of the air like Missile Command.  The only problem is I miss half of them and the city gets destroyed.  And in this game, it is not how much damage Superman takes, it is how much the city takes.  It wouldn't be so much a problem if I could just go and punch the meteors.  No, you have to either shoot them with your heat vision or freeze breath.  And this runs out after a few minutes, where your fists never run out.  Maybe I will do better tomorrow.

I have not mentioned the Odyssey 2 in this blog yet.  And know what, no one has written to complain.  I shouldn't put down the system as it was my first system.  Not by choice.  I wanted an Atari 2600, but my parents bought us an Odyssey 2.  There was some good gaming on it.  Quest for the Rings was as close as you could get to Dungeons and Dragons (which speaks volumes of the times) and KC Munchkin let you make your own mazes, even if you couldn't save them.  Pick Axe Pete was a fun game as was the Great Wall Street Fortune Hunt (which got me to start buying stock).  If only it had more than 50 games.  Third party support was all but non-existent.   Parker Bros had a few games and there was Power Lords and that was about it. 
 
11/01/2007
If you are interested in Rock Band for either the PS3 or the XBOX 360, I would recommend ordering it now!  Word is that it will have a limited number out this holiday and it will be a sell-out.

It may sound crazy, but I cannot wait for next year's version of Madden.  I know a bunch of you are saying, what is wrong with this year's version?  Well, my home team, the Cleveland Browns sucked in this years version.  But if you watch them, they are playing quite well (the fact that the season is not half over and they already have as many wins as last year.  And they are scoring points in bunches!  It will be enjoyable to actually play as them for once.

Did they ever make a video game based on the old MISL (for the 98% of the world's population that doesn't know what the MISL is, it stood for the Major Indoor Soccer League)?  I know it was small and overlooked, but the same can be said for the Arena Football League and it has had two video games.  Even American Gladiator had a game.   That could be an idea for a video game, make one that featured various defunct sports leagues.  You could have the MISL, the USFL (the old football league that challenged the NFL and lost, big time) and the CBA or one of those basketball leagues.  Heck, you could even throw in the very short-lived attempt by the Canadian Football League to expand in the US. 

Is it me or has it been awhile since there was a new Scooby Doo game?  Its not like I am asking for one to come out, but I used to remember a new one like every few months. 

10/31/2007
Happy Halloween!  Don't worry, I won't make some lame list of the best horror video games to play on Halloween.  Personally, I prefer a scary movie to a video game on this day.  But if you must play games, Doom, Resident Evil or Silent Hill will do the job.

Received an email about a list of video game travel destinations.  A good list, but I think it is missing a few shows.  One in particular, the Classic Gaming Expo is a must have on a list like this.  But no list is perfect.  Still some good ideas for the traveling gamer.  Here is a link to this list:

http://www.airlinecreditcards.com/travelhacker/top-25-ultimate-gamer-vacations/

Just saw the trailer for the new Aliens vs Predator movie and it looks incredible!  While I enjoyed the last movie (especially when I bought it used for $5.00), this one looks to blow it away.  And if you watch the trailer, that pun is very applicable.  I hope the video game is as good as the movie.

Speaking of movies, how long did Underdog last at the theatre?  A day?  I cannot remember a movie coming and going so quickly.  Good riddance.


10/25/2007
Just came up with a great idea for a video game.  Granted it would be a legal nightmare to figure out, but I think it would sell like gangbusters.  Ready?  Have a first person shooter where you hunt and kill cartoon sidekicks.  Each level would have you going after a different lame cartoon show sidekicks and blowing their head away.  Of course, they would be surrounded by henchmen, traps and more.  Without that, there is no game.  So here are some of the mascots that you hunt down.  You would start off with some of the lesser known ones like that lame like Aquaman's pathetic walrus, Tusky.  Go under the sea to blow that hunk of blubber away.  Then you could move on to Uni the unicorn from Dungeons and Dragons.  You would work your way up the levels, taking out one embarrassment after another including all the Superfriends sidekicks (Wendy, Marvin, Wonderdog, the Wondertwins and their stupid monkey, Gleek), Herbie the Robot from the Fantastic Four and Jan, Jace and Blip from Space Ghost..  We could even add a Jar Jar Binks level for the Star Wars fans out there.  That would guarantee big sales.  Then at the end of the game, you would face the unholy trinity of cartoon mascots.  The big three of terror - Orko from He-Man, Bat-Mite from the Batman show and last and definitely least; Scrappy Doo.  Now tell me that game would not sell?  About the only thing that would sell better is if you had a game with neighbors from television shows on there to shoot.  Goodbye Urkel.  Goodbye Monroe.  Goodbye Ralph Mouth and Potsy.  That game is pure gold.
 
10/23/2007
Just read where there is a new movie as well as a video game coming based on the Richard Matheson novel, I Am Legend.  I read this book years ago after reading the comic adaptation first.  A great story that was later made into two different movies.  One starred Vincent Price and is named "The Last Man on Earth."  It is true to the story and pretty good, but quite slow.  The other is named "The Omega Man" and starred Charlton Heston.  It starts off good but then completely butchers the story.  I did not like it.  The new one stars Will Smith and while I have my reservations, at least it will have a good budget.  The video game sounds promising and much like a video game idea I had written about in an old issue of Bit Age Times (#15).  My idea was more based on the Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead movies but instead of set objectives, you only had to survive.  The game had you try and live as long as possible.  Each night, you had to find shelter and each day you had to find food and water.  All around were thousands of zombies who wanted to eat you.  They were slow and you could outrun them, but they were everywhere.  You would eventually die, but it was an open ended game with tons of places to go.  There was no set way to go, you could hole up in a house or head to a mall or a city.  Drive a car until it ran out of gas.  Find weapons, sometimes out of ordinary items.

Everytime I turn around I am hearing or seeing someone selling a get out of debt book or tape or program.  Want to get out of debt?  I will give you a handful of tips and save you the hundreds of dollars you will pay most of those people and I will give it to you for free.  Grab your pencils and paper (or better yet, just print the page):

    1. Credit Cards are like guns, they are very dangerous if not handled properly.  Only use credit cards when necessary and pay them off.
    2. Get into a 401K as soon as possible.  Compound interest is your best friend.  The younger you are, the better.
    3. Don't buy a new car, always buy used.  You can save up to 50% by buying a car that is a few years old.  Let someone else take the depreciation
        hit.  Cars lose a tremendous amount of value once they are off the lot.
    4. Why rent movies when you can get them at the library for free?  Don't buy movies that you won't watch at least 3 times.
    5. When grocery shopping, always use coupons.  The money you can save is immense.  If you don't use coupons, you are either rich or stupid.
    6. Never buy anything from a phone solicitor.  Same for email solicitor. 
    7. Wait 24 hours before making any large purchase.  When buying a big item (tv, fridge, etc...) always ask for a better price.  You can always go
         elsewhere. 
    8. If you are getting take-out and eating at home, stop at a store and buy a 2 liter of pop.  For the cost of one pop, you can have pop for the
         whole family.
    9. Save something every month.  No matter how little, you need to save something.

There you go, that will help.  There is alot more, but that will help.  The biggest thing is to live within your means and not to get caught up in need for material possessions.  I know it sounds odd coming from a video game blog, but it works.  I do the stuff on this list and I have a great life with no creditors calling.  I am one of the minority in this country that has more savings and less debt each and every month.


10/22/2007
I love newsgroups.  I don't participate in them as I find there are too many kids who want to just make problems or people who cannot accept that people have different tastes and their taste does not make the absolute.  But I enjoy reading them.  I love to see some of the people's opinions on things and how upset they get about little things that should not make anyone upset.  To make a point, I was reading a long thread about how Jack Tramiel was doing a public appearance.  The very mention of the name Tramiel will bring one of two emotions in people who know who he is.  One is happiness as he is the man behind the success of the Commodore 64, a computer that has alot to do with affordable computer and really sparked the home computer market.  The other emotion is hatred because he was at the helms of Atari when they went under.  The sad thing is that Jack and his brother Sam, get alot of the blame for Atari.  Did they make some bad moves?  Yes, they did.  Were they the sole reason for the demise of Atari?  Heck no.  What people forget is that Atari was owned by Warner Communication before it was sold to Jack Tramiel.  And at the end of its time at Warner, Atari went from being a very profitable part of the company to being a big money pit.  There was a ton of mismanagement from paying a fortune for the rights to make an ET game and then to rush it out, to passing on the NES when they had a chance.  So when they sold it to Jack, it was a company hemorrhaging money.  Remember that Warner did not get to be a huge company by selling off profitable branches of their business.  In fact, the whole video game industry was in chaos.  Mattel was losing tons of money with the Intellivision, Coleco was losing money on the Colecovision and Magnavox was dumping the Odyssey 2.  It was not a healthy market.   So the company that the Tramiels bought and the market they entered was alot different than the Atari of a year earlier.  What they essentially did was keep the Atari brand alive longer than it would have under Warner.  If they did not buy it, I am certain that Warner would have closed it down, just like Mattel and Coleco did with their game divisions.  So they were not the saviors of Atari, but they were not the people who killed Atari either.  Take that as you like.

It is amazing at how much fun a child can get out of one game.  My kids (I have three of them, all boys) love sim games.  Roller Coaster Tycoon has always been a favorite of theirs.  Lately, they have been playing Sim City on the SNES.  They enjoyed it, but craved more.  They found an old Sega Saturn that we had lying around and one of the games we have is Sim City 2000.  That really peaked their interest.  When I told them that there was newer versions than that, they got onto google and started checking into it.  That is when they found Sim City 4.  When I told them that we could go to the local Microcenter and look into buying it, they were ecstatic.  So we headed up there and found it for $19.99.  We bought it and they have been playing it ever since.  It is amazing that in this day of $500.00 game systems and $60.00 games, that two boys could be so happy with a $20.00 computer game. 

Speaking of Sim City, I can remember when it came out.  I remember how much fun I had playing it.  It was one of those games that my wife and I both played (along with Dungeon Master).  What a fun game!  I can still remember building ridiculously huge cities and then having a disaster hit and having to get the city back on its feet.  It was alot of fun.  I had so many great memories of playing games on the old Atari ST computer.  I remember buying it to play Dungeon Master and finding a world of great games.  Sim City, Shadow of the Beast, Lemmings, Populous, Championship Manager and more games took away alot of my time.  It was amazing at how much fun it was.  I still had it up until about five years ago, when it finally bit the dust.  But it was a long and enjoyable ride.

Speaking of old computers, my first computer was a TI computer.  I had bought out a local movie rental store of their video games.  They tried renting games and found it to be unprofitable.  So I came in and bought out their 300+ games for $800.00.  I was only a junior in high school, but I knew a good deal when I saw it.  I sold them that summer at flea markets.  I also scoured the classified ads for more games and kept buying more.  By the end of the summer, I had made my money back and still had a bunch of games left.  So I ended up selling them to my uncle who was into selling computer software at flea markets and shows.  He gave me back what I paid for them, plus a TI 99/4A computer with about twenty games and speech synthesizer and a set of joystick and adapter (the TI joysticks sucked big time, but they had an adapter that allowed you to use any Atari 2600 joystick and my uncle sold the Prostick II, still my all-time favorite classic joystick).  So I had a nice profit on the games, got a new computer with software and had a fun summer.  I still remember how for two weeks before I sold any of the games, my friend and I had to test them to make sure they worked.  That was our excuse, but really we were having a field day playing all these great games.  It was two of the best weeks of my life.  Imagine being a teenager with over 300 games to play.  It was sheer video game heaven!

10/17/2007
Let's do some word association.  Ready?  What comes to your mind when I say "Video Game Music."  If you are like most of us, it is either Pac-Man Fever or the theme to Super Mario Bros or possibly music from Final Fantasy.  OK, now let's try another.  What comes to your mind when I say "Sexy Video Game Music."  Drawing a blank?  I thought so.  Well, there is a band out there named The Frustrations which is fronted by Kristen Soltis that has done just that.  She sings a song called "Nerdy Little Secret" that mixes video game references with a sexiness that is both very unique and works really well.  And the best part is the song is really good.  So if you want to hear a unique song (and see how many video game references you can pick out of the song, not to mention Star Wars) and see Kristen and the band (including a picture of her dressed as Lara Croft), check out their MySpace page.  Just click the following link and look for the songs in the upper right hand corner.  Scroll down to the song and enjoy!   http://www.myspace.com/frustrationsdc

Since I am on the subject of video game music, I have to wonder why there aren't more bands out there putting video game references into songs or making songs about video games.  Video games have become such a part of popular culture that it seems like a given.  If I had any musical talent, I would try to do a version of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" but make it for video games.  It could be a timeline of sorts for all kinds of video games and milestones in the industry.  Granted, it would probably sell like five copies, but it would still be pretty cool.  Maybe I will do some work on it. 

Haven't talked about my other video game site in awhile.  For anyone new to this blog (and from the numbers, there are a fair amount of you), I also do a site called Arcade After Dark.  It is a collection of video game comic strips.  I currently have four different strips I do.  Besides comic strips, I have also put up a bunch of video game clip art and backgrounds for anyone who wants to get a program like "Comic Book Creator" and do their own strips.  You may ask why I would do this.  Well, I want to read comic strips that I haven't done, so I am making it easy for someone to do it.  I must say that the Video Game Artwork section of the site is growing very fast.  And the hits are growing on it, so hopefully I will see some more video game comic strips soon.

Time for the video game flashback.  I can still remember how much I wanted to play the Intellivision game Dungeons & Dragons.  Being a fan of the role playing game, I was ecstatic when I heard it was coming out, even if I didn't have a system.  But my good friend, Davey, did have one and so I pitched in some money to help buy it.  I remember we rode our bikes a good ten miles each way to go to a store to buy it.  It was a long bike ride home as we could not wait to play it.  Little did I know that the game sucked.  Actually, it was horrible, but it was nothing to write home about.  Too bad that I didn't play the sequels back then.  I would have been much happier with them as they were actually quite good.  The moral of the story is to read reviews first (which back then meant waiting a few months after the game was released for a magazine to review it).

 
10/16/2007
When I first heard about a new Conan video game, I was both excited and apprehensive.  I love the Conan universe and always felt there was alot of potential there.  But I was worried that they would just take a Dynasty Warriors game and slap a barbarian in the lead role.  You know how they took Super Mario Bros formula and slapped in every conceivable character in the role.  But now that I see more about the game, I am getting interested in it.  More so the console version than the computer version.  What I would love to see, but there is no chance is physical damage.  When Conan gets cut with a sword, leave a scar.  Ditto for when he is shot with an arrow.  I know he will heal like he is Wolverine, but I can hope.  I always envisioned a story where he became so scarred that the women ran from him, instead of to him.

I know that Sherlock Holmes had a video game (a CD game for the Turbo Grafx), but did Charlie Chan ever get a video game?  I think he would make an interesting sleuth game.  And I doubt the licensing fee would be much.  Only problem is most young people never heard of Charlie Chan.  Ask them who Charlie Chan is and they will probably say he makes candy or something.

There are all these music games with guitars, but how about one with a keyboard?  You could put a bunch of those synth songs from the 80's in the game and have people try to master songs from such music giants as "Flock of Sea Gulls" and "Falco."  It has hit written all over it.  That or tax write-off.


10/15/2007
The Halo 3 reviews have been very favorable.  Good to see a hyped game live up the the hype. 

It's that time of the year when Toys R Us has their buy 2 get 1 free sale.  I know in the past, I used it as an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.  But not this year.  Everyone I am buying presents for, have not moved up to one of the new systems. 

I keep meaning to look for more information on the new Simpsons video game.  Since they took some time off between games, it may be really good.  When they did their one game a year and based it on the popular genre of the time, they really did not have the time to make a great Simpsons game.  Yeah, they got a little better.  Simpsons Hit and Run was better than the previous games (especially the awful skateboarding game and the lame wrestling game), but that was not saying much.

I bought this cheap watch, because I tend to break them anyway, so why buy a nice one.  I do alot of physical stuff that ends up smashing the watch.  Anyway, it comes with a five year warranty.  The funny thing is if you need to send the watch in for replacement or repair, it costs you $5.95 shipping and handling, not counting the cost to ship it.  So you are looking at $8.00 cost to get your $10.00 watch replaced.  Great way to get out of a warranty.


10/13/2007
I think Popeye needs a new video game.  Imagine a Mario 64 type game where you go around and live out some of Popeye's greatest adventures.  You could go and battle Sinbad the Sailor with his two headed giant and roc bird.  Then you could go to Goon Island to battle the Goons.  From there, you would go battle the Sea Hag with her magic and vulture pet.  I think there is some potential here.  Oh yeah, you have to have the customary lava level.

I saw the Ghost Rider movie and I must say that it was better than I thought it would be.  Did they make a video game version of that?  I would be surprised if they didn't.

I applaud Nintendo for going after the non gamer market and succeeding.  I especially like their commercials showing men and women bowling, playing tennis and playing baseball on the Wii.  And the Brain Age commercials for the DS are also good.  It is good to see a company that doesn't just talk about expanding the market, but actually doing it.  My hats off to you Nintendo!

I wonder if Burger King will ever do another set of games like they did for the XBOX.  I bought two of them and have enjoyed them.  Sneak King was so stupid, it was fun.  I like to see stuff like that.  Sorta like the Ed Wood version of a video game. 


10/12/2007
I will try for a third time to talk about Justice League Heroes.  Hopefully by creating a new page for the Blog, I will have corrected the problems. 

I bought Justice League Heroes for the XBOX used for $10.00.  Being a big comic fan (well, actually I am not that big a fan anymore, but I digress), I wanted to play this.  I really enjoyed the Marvel Ultimate Alliance that came out at the same time and hoped for more of the same.  I was sorely disappointed.  Let me tell you why.

First off, the biggest thrill for me with the Marvel game was all the different villains you fought and all the characters you could play as.  It made for a really enjoyable game.  Well, in Justice League Heroes, you can play as quite a few characters, but all you fight is robots  (granted I am only on the fourth level, but still).  The DC Universe has all these great villains (Sinestro, Joker, Gorilla Grodd, Bizarro, etc...) to use and what do you get to fight?  Tons and tons of robots.  I thought I was playing a video game version of "I Robot" or "Magnus the Robot Fighter" instead of Justice League Heroes.  Where is the Legion of Doom when you need them?

Second, the game borrows heavily from games like Gauntlet.  There is even respawn machines to make even more robots.  In Gauntlet, it was huts to make more grunts.  That was really unique, in the 1980's.  But now we expect more.

One thing  that bothered me a bit.  Like every dungeon crawling game, you have to go around and smash stuff to find hidden power-ups or shields.  Here I am playing Superman and I am going around the city I swore to protect and smashing up all the cars, hot dog stands and anything else I find.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?  Why can't I use my x-ray vision to look in the boxes or something.  Heck, why can't I use that x-ray vision on Wonder Woman or Zatanna?

One cool thing about the game is that you can pick up cars and smash people with them.  It is great fun to bash a robot over the head, repeatedly with a car.  But mindless fund does not make a game. 

10/11/2007
Unfortunately, I had to redo the page.  Some errors popped on it and I had to fix them.  So I lost a few months worth of blogging.  But look for the blogging to continue and I will get more frequent.

 

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Tom Zjaba 1997 - 2015      

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