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Tom Zjaba 1997 - 2015      

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Video Game Blog
May - June 2005

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06/28/2005
One property that has never been made into a game and it surprises me is the Little Rascals.  It is probably a good thing that franchise was missed during the Nintendo 8-Bit days as it would have become a lame platformer where Spanky had to find Petey or something.  But with the systems nowadays, it could be a great game.  Think of something along the lines of "My Street" but with more to it.  You would have a large area to go around in and explore.  Different elements from different episodes would be there, whether it be the taxi cab or the caves to explore in search of treasure.  You would have a bunch of little mini games where you would try to make money to either free Petey from the dog catcher or to buy a present or get new baseball equipment.  You could create a central story about some new bullies in town who are causing problems and you have to reclaim your turf.   It would take some more work, but I think there is a real concept here and the Little Rascals are universally known enough that people would be interested.

When I have a choice of what system I want to buy a game for, I will always choose the XBOX first.  Not because of enhanced graphics or online play.  The main reason is for the hard drive.  I like the fact that I do not have to figure out what memory card has what saved game on it.  With the Playstation 2, I have four memory cards and do alot of swapping.  Don't even get me started on the Dreamcast, where I had a good dozen VMUs (bought almost all of them used for as little as a quarter each) and have to have four controllers set up to insure I have the right VMU in there.  But with the XBOX, I have 8 gig of space to save games.  Not 8 meg as on the PS2 or whatever the Dreamcast holds.  Ditto for the Gamecube, which also has limited space.  That way I know I can always find the saved game with no swapping and that alone is worth it.  The enhanced graphics don't hurt either.

I still remember when Sega and NEC came around with their mall tours where you could try out the new systems.  While the Genesis went on to annihilate the Turbo Grafx, for awhile there I really thought the TG16 had a chance.  Good thing I did not bet money on it.  Later on, I bought a Turbo Grafx off my younger brother Joe and went out and got most of the games for it.  There was a store that was clearing out all the used games they had and I was getting them dirt cheap.  I also liked how I was able to store all the games in a small box as they were so tiny.  I spent hours upon hours playing Legendary Axe, Military Madness, Bonk and especially Devil's Crush.  I did later sell it on ebay and was surprised at how much I received for it.  I do miss it from time to time but I found that I only played about eight games on the system and the rest just collected dust.

Saw the preview for King Kong yesterday.  Tivo it and watched it three times.  Good to see they are going to actually have dinosaurs this time, unlike that lame version from the 1970's that only featured one creature for Kong to fight.  While it really made me want to see the movie (the almost six months will seem like an eternity), it also got me interested in the upcoming video game.  As if I need another game to want this holiday. 

06/27/2005
Read a preview of the upcoming Rockstar game, Bully.  Not sure what to think of the game.  The concept is very novel and I applaud Rockstar for going in a different direction.  But it is hard to imagine that there will be enough gameplay to make it a great game.  A big problem with Rockstar is that they have had so much success, especially with the Grand Theft Auto series, that gamers just expect great stuff from every game they create.  And when you create as few games as they do, every game is magnified even more.  It is not like Electronic Arts that releases a ton of games.  If they have a few bad games, it is no big deal as they have so many good games that they get overlooked.  But Rockstar only releases a fraction of the games that a company like Electronic Arts does.  I will expect it to be good as they have a great track record, but it does not ring out as guaranteed like a new GTA or the Warriors.

I am still amazed at how few games I play on most systems.  I have almost all the Colecovision and Intellivision games available to me, but I end up only playing a handful on each system.  For the Colecovision, it is mostly Antarctic Adventure, Cabbage Patch Kids, Beamrider and I rotate through a handful of other games.  On the Intellivision, it is Diner, Thin Ice, Burgertime (still the best version of the game, playing wise), Tower of Doom, Dracula and a handful of other games. 

Now that they Lord of the Rings movies are done, will we see an end of games coming out based on the movies and literary works?  Or will they keep coming out?  I think there is still more they can do with the franchise but one has to wonder how popular it will be now that the movies are done and it is not in the public eye as much.


06/24/2005

Played God of War on a demo disk.  I can see what all the hype is about.  The game looks and plays great!  The battle with the Hydra is exhilarating.  It makes me want to go out and buy the complete game.  If I wasn't so cheap, I would buy it.

It is amazing how far some genres have come.  I remember the old days of strategy war games.  You would have a bunch of hexes on the screen and move your static pieces around and wait and wait and wait for the computer to make its move.  It only took a handful of games to learn how the computer played and you could easily beat it after that.  But now, you have RTS (real time strategy) games that have strong AI that will adapt to your playing style.  The graphics are incredible, the sounds are amazing (where the old games had no sound) and there is seconds between moves.  And many of the games can now be played online, so if you figure out the computer, you can try a live person who will do stuff a computer never would.

Despite how powerful the next generation of game systems are, there are a few givens.  Even with all their power, you will still see games that don't take advantage of the hi res graphics.  They will not offer surround sound and they will not need all the horsepower.  Yet, they will have decent sales.  That's right, games like Tetris and Pacman and other games will be released on the systems.  They will be part of a compilation or have some new features added.  They will be primitive compared to Halo 3 and Gran Turismo 5 or whatever number it is on. 

06/23/2005
In an earlier blog entry, I talked about hoping there would be more western games coming and how much potential there is.  Well, someone else was thinking the same way as I saw in the latest issue of Game Informer that a game simply called "Gun" is coming and will fit that bill.  A western game where you can do many things like gunfight, gamble, hunt animals, pan for gold and more.  While not as wide open as I envisioned, it does seem to be quite ambitious and looks like a winner.  Let's hope it lives up to the previews.

I am always thinking of video game ideas and one just popped into my head.  If you are into comic books at all, there was a series from Marvel Comics called "Secret Wars".  The first one was a big battle royale between a bunch of super heroes and super villains that were brought to a strange planet by a being called the Beyonder.  It was later followed by a horrible sequel.  But I was thinking how the Secret Wars idea could be the basis for a great video game.  Imagine if you will, a turn based role playing game where you lead a team of Marvel Super Heroes, a very big team, against the worst villains.  It would be somewhat like a RTS (real time strategy) but have some elements of fighting games.  It would allow you to choose which groups of heroes to take out at a time and there would be some different variables to keep it interesting.  You could also choose to be the villains if you wish or have two player mode.

I always vowed that I would never buy a video game system at launch.  I always prided myself on waiting to see what software came out.  With the problems that can crop up with new systems, especially since they became CD/DVD based, I always found it better to wait at least six months to a year to see if any problems arise.  But more and more I am being tempted to buy an XBOX 360 at launch.  With games like the new Morrowind and now Gun, I am getting tempted more and more to own one.  I must resist the temptations.  There are still many great games to come for the systems out now and so many games that I have yet to play.  But the lure of better is so tempting.

06/15/2005
I am still amazed that Activision, the first third party game company, is still in business and doing so well.  So often it is not the first that makes it.  Granted, they are one of the only companies from back then to still be around.  Companies that were once big game makers like Imagic, Data Age and even Parker Brothers are all out of video games.  But Activision has remained in the field and has become one of the top companies.

Spider-Man 2 was a big hit last year, but it left some gamers wishing for more.  The web swinging captured the feel of the comic book and the huge city to explore gave people the freedom they wanted.  But the lack of different missions left some people wanting more.  But I have yet to hear anything about a sequel.  You would think with the engine and city already in place and the success of the previous two, they would have a sequel for this holiday season.  I know there is no movie coming out, but fans have shown they want more.  All they need to do is add more to the existing game.  Add more missions, more random events, hide more things in the game and put in more villains.  They could improve the graphics some and make some indoor places to explore and you would have a bonafide sequel that could sell very well.

Why are all the first person war games based on World War II or the Vietnam War?  Maybe it is just me, but there are alot of great battles that could be implemented.  How about the Civil War?  All we ever see for that war is strategy games.  Or what about World War I?  With the trench warfare and the germ warfare, you could have some scary stuff.  There is also the Korean War.  Or go way back to the Revolutionary War.  Granted, it is not as much fun to shoot and then have to load the musket, but the fighting with bayonets would add to the appeal.  Even a battle of the Romans versus Carthage and seeing those elephants descending on you would be cool.  Just something new to the genre. 

Speaking of first person war games, I still remember when Medal of Honor came out for the PS2.  I bought the game and hated it.  Sure it got great reviews and the Omaha Beach scene was pretty spectacular, but I made the mistake of playing it after playing Grand Theft Auto 3.  After having the freedom to move around the city in GTA 3 and having various ways to complete a mission, I could not play Medal of Honor.  The game was just too scripted.  I remember on the opening level on the beach, where you had to talk to the guy to continue.  Then you had to go to this area and do this thing or you could not move on.  It was like connecting the dots.  It did not feel like I was part of a war, rather I was an actor in a play and had to learn my part.  I got rid of the game soon after that.

06/12/2005
I still do not understand why Sega has released its Bass Fishing game to the next generation systems but hasn't bothered with its Marine Fishing.  I felt Marine Fishing was a superior game.  I find more thrill in trying to land a giant tuna or a shark than a bass.  I felt that there is alot more gameplay that could be tapped with the Marine Fishing.  My only guess is that the Bass Fishing was a bigger seller and that is why they went with it.  Who knows, but I would like to see one that allows you to fish for fictional creatures like the Lock Ness Monster, Giant Squid (there is giant squids but I am talking about the ones you see in the movies that take down whole ships) and mermen.  It could be a fun game and be bizarre enough to get attention of non fishermen.

One thing I do hope Sega does in the next generation of game systems is make their games for all three platforms.  It really irked me that you needed to own all three systems to play all their games.  I am a huge Sega fan as they make some of the most unique and enjoyable games of any system.  But I hate that you needed an XBOX to play ToeJam and Earl III, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Jet Set Radio Future and a PS2 to play Virtua Fighter and others that are not coming to me right now and until recently you needed a Gamecube to play Super Monkey Ball among others.  A company the size of Sega should be able to make games for all three systems.  I understand that there were exclusive contracts and such but I think in the long run they lost out.  Tell me Virtua Fighter would not have sold very well on the XBOX and Gamecube in a time before Soul Calibur 2 came out.  And you want to tell me that many of the XBOX titles would not have done well on the other systems. 

Wonder if there will be more western games or if we saw a quick group and that is it.  After Red Dead Revolver and Dead Man's Hand, it looked like a genre on the way back.  But I really do not see any more on the horizon.  There are some odd hybrids like Samurai Cowboy or whatever that is called that has a samurai in the old west.  And there is some horror first person shooter in the old west, but not really anything that is a true western.  I think there is a ton of potential there.  With the bandits, the cowboy and Indians skirmishes, the border fights with the Mexicans, hunting buffalo and other animals, searching for gold, wagon trains and all the outlaws, there is a ton of great material for games.  You could make a great open ended game where you decide if you want to be an outlaw or a lawman and seek your place.  You could either drift from town to town or set roots in one place.  There would be different jobs you could do from robbing or protecting trains to delivering mail, hunting down outlaws to being a card shark.  You could buy and raise cows or sheep, train horses or join the Calvary.  It could really allow a person to star in their own western as they see fit.

06/10/2005
There seems to be a new trend in the video game world, raid Hollywood's back catalog for game ideas.  You have the Warriors coming as well as the Godfather.  Scarface is in the works.  Even Jaws has a game coming out (and promising to be much better than the dreg on the NES).  It is enough to make one think of what would be good ideas and what would be completely absurd.  So here is a quick list of some movies that I think would make good games and some that I think would not.

Good Game Ideas Based on Movies (or GGIBM for people who have a need to shorten things, pronounced Gi Gi IBM)
1. Animal House - Imagine a game that would combine the food fight, the wild parties and the big parade at the end into a game of total mayhem.  It would be hard to pull of, but if you did it right, it would be a blast.

2. The Birds - Think how much fun you could have with this Hitchcock classic.  Trying to escape from the flocks of birds would be a challenge.  Not sure how long a game it would be, but the basic premise is cool.

3. Planet of the Apes - Forget that crap game for the Playstation, what we need is a game that incorporates the whole Planet of the Apes genre.  You land on Earth and you then make your way around the planet.  Do you hang with the humans and try to rally them?  Do you stay around the Forbidden Zone and look for items to aid you?  Think of an exploration game that would be open ended like GTA or Morrowind but set in the Planet of the Apes world.

4. Island of Dr. Moreau - It would hard to not be better than the last few movies (the best adaptation is still Island of Lost Souls).  You land on the island and have to slowly discover the secret.  Then you need to try and stop it, while also trying to get off the island alive.

5.  Cheech and Chong Up in Smoke - While people may say that drugs are not the best idea for video games, it would have to be better than NARC.  The mini games you could come up with would be hilarious. 

Bad Game Ideas Based on Movies (or BGIBM for people who have aneed to shorten things, pronounced Bee Gee IBM)
1. Tootsie - You are a man that dresses like a woman to get an acting job.  Not exactly the best material for a video game, though mini games involved in trying to apply lipstick and stuff like that would be good for a laugh.

2. Look Who's Talking - You are a baby.  A talking baby.  You can talk and eat and poop.  What an idea for a video game.  Not.

3. Xanadu - A muse comes to earth to give the world a roller skate dance club.  I am all giddy with anticipation for this game.

4. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - How they can make a movie based on a Beatles album and cast the Bee Gees in the title role (along with Peter Frampton) is anyone's guess.  The movie was terrible and I am sure the game would be too.

5. Pink Flamingos - If you ever saw this movie, you would understand.  The very thought makes me shudder in dread.  The sad thing is it would probably sell.

06/09/2005
Decided that since this page was getting too big and the load time was going up, I would take off the March and April blogs and put them on their own page.  Every couple of months, I will do this to keep it from taking a few minutes to load. 

Started playing Jade Empire for the XBOX.  Very good game so far.  Graphics are very nice and the voice work is quite good.  Still too early in to know how good the story will be.  Reminds me alot of Fable.  Both are quite similar.  Still have to keep an eye out for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the XBOX and Doom 3.  Father's Day is coming.  What better gift for a man than senseless violence?  I will gladly take either over a Chuck Norris movie.

I was thinking the other day about how many of the television shows and movies that I enjoyed as a youth, I do not care for now.  Same can be said for music.  When I was a kid, I loved a show called "Quark".  It was an odd sci-fi comedy.  I had very fond memories of it.  Someone gave me a bootleg tape of it as a gift and after watching it, I wonder why I liked it.  Same can be said for movies like "The Giant Claw".  I had nightmares about that movie that involved a train and former president Richard Nixon.  Now I see it and cannot get over how utterly ridiculous the bird looks.  It looks like a bad puppet.  But when I look at the video games I played as a youth, I still enjoy them.  The arcade games especially are still as much fun today as when I was young.  Not sure where I am going with this, but I found it an interesting observation.

06/06/2005
I was looking at Lego Star Wars and it started me thinking about what other toy and video game combinations we could come up with.  It seems to be selling pretty well so there may be a niche market there.  Or it could be selling on the Star Wars name alone.  Anyway, here are my ideas for video game and toy combos.

Grand Theft Little People - Sure they are all smiling and they have no arms, but so what.  It would be an amazing combo and with all the different sets, you could have your little people gangster going into the parking garage, the barn (complete with mooing sound) and even hijack the plane and fly to the castle.

Weebles World Wrestling - So what if they cannot fall down, so there are no pins.  It just means you have to beat your opponent the old fashioned way, knock them out of the ring.  That or make them break open.

Barbies Dead or Alive - Tell me you wouldn't want a fighting game where you can have Barbie finally kick the daylights out of Ken.  Add in the Bratz dolls and some other dolls and you can have a real catfight.

06/04/2005
One big difference you will see in the next generation of video games is the attempt to create more revenue streams.  With the price of creating video games going up and the retail price staying the same or going up slightly, game companies need to find more ways to make money from video games than just selling video game.

While the sales of new video games should rise as video games become more and more mainstream, there is still not going to be enough to offset the much higher costs of producing games (especially now that they will be in High Definition).  Here are a few ways that I see companies trying to increase their revenue:

    1. Content costs - Look for more and more companies to start charging for downloading extra levels, characters and more.  The days of free downloads is coming to an end.  The costs to do a few more levels or characters is cheap and can add an extra influx of cash that companies need.

    2. More ads - You will see more and more advertisements in video game ads.  Most of it now is placement ads, a billboard or a logo for a popular brand.  But you will see more and more things like ads at the beginning of the game. 

    3. More special editions - Halo 2 and Doom 3 both offered a special edition of the game.  For an extra $10.00, you received some extra content not found in the original game.  Look for more and more games to offer these editions as a way boost profits. 

06/01/2005
I see that Nolan Bushnell has a new video game idea.  For anyone who does not know (I must ask what you are doing at a site about video games if you do not know who he is), Nolan is the man who found Atari as well as Chuck E. Cheese.  This time he is making an arcade that is geared for adults.  It will have games you can play head to head from a terminal that is at your table.  You can also order your food from it and not have to deal with snooty waiters.  Will it succeed?  The man has had his share of hits, so I would bet on it.

One of the best ideas that I have heard in a long time is Gametap from Turner Broadcasting.  It will be a service where you pay a monthly fee to play classic video games on your computer.  It will cost between $10.00 to $20.00 a month and there will be up to 1,000 games for you to play.  There will also be interviews and more you can check out.  I have two things to recommend to Turner to make this a success.  First and foremost, have a home page of sorts for the gamer.  You can put your favorite games, show any awards you won and be able to see your best scores at different games.  Second, have high score charts that show the top scores at different games both daily and all-time.  One of the best parts of playing classic games is getting good scores.  Also, allow multiplayer on the games.  Nothing is worse than having games that are multiplayer and you have no one to play with.  This would allow us to find someone else to play Joust or Golden Axe with at any time.  Here is a link to the site: http://www.gametap.com/

Went to Cedar Point over the weekend and was depressed.  The roller coasters were fine.  There was plenty to do at the park (even if the crowds were big, but that is expected).  But the arcade left me depressed.  Sure, it has a great selection of games.  There are a ton of great classic games to play, some that you rarely ever see.  It was great to play games like Red Baron and Tailgunner.  But the depressing part was that half the classic games were broke.  Everywhere I looked, I saw "Out of Order" signs on the machines.  Two Robotrons and neither worked.  Gorf was broke.  Most of their classic pinball machines were not working.  It was sad to see so many games in disrepair. 

One game that I did play alot at Cedar Point and really enjoyed was the pinball machine Monster Bash.  I had a field day with this game.  What a great pinball machine.  Wish Cedar Point would get some more newer pinball machines.

With so many superhero video games coming out, will we get tired of them?  It will be interesting to see if they encompass different genres.  During the 1990's all the superhero games were side scrollers.  Then it was all fighting games.  Games like Spiderman 2 and X-Men Legends has changed things up a bit.  I hope to see more games try to be different things.

05/26/2005
A funny thing happened, I decided to call it quits and I get a bunch of response.  Must have received an email from everyone who reads this.  And the hits went up slightly.  So I will not kill it.  I decided to do it on a more limited basis as daily or almost daily is a bit too much.  I will aim for weekly.  So everyone that emailed, your voices were heard and I will keep it going.  Now go out and tell your friends, tell strangers, tell the mailman about it.

Now onto talking about video games.  Do you remember the first time you played a CD video game?  If you are young, you may have only played CD games.  If you are like me and grew up in the age when carts ruled, then CDs were a whole new thing.  I can still remember my cousin Bobby showing me Sewer Shark on the Sega CD.  I was impressed with the video on the game but after watching him go around the sewer and shoot rats for a half an hour, I kept thinking "Is that all there is?"  There was that Peggy Lee song playing through my mind as I kept wondering what the fuss was all about. 

Years later I did see some games that really took advantage of the CD technology.  Now we have DVD and Blue Ray is right around the corner.  DVD based technology is even entering the handheld market, the last stronghold of cartridges.
 

05/23/2005
This will be the last video game blog.  I tried it for three months and it did not get the response that I had hoped for.  There is just not enough interest in it to warrant investing the time into it.  Thanks to the handful of people who did read it. 

05/22/2005
E3 is over and it looks to be the show people were expecting.  It will take me a few days to absorb all the information.  Right now I think all three next gen systems show promise and for different reasons.  All three will provide online gaming, lots of great games and some amazing graphics.  The amount of third party support will be the biggest difference.

Want to know a game that is itching for an update?  Jungle King/Jungle Hunt.  I think if they redid it in 3D and added new levels and challenges, it could be a fun game.  Not a hit, but a good bargain game or part of a compilation. 

Word is that the Infinium Phantom was nowhere to be seen at E3.  Remember the system that was supposed to allow you to download games and play them.  While the company is still in business, you can all but stick a fork into it.  I think there is a better chance of Sega releasing another video game system than the Phantom ever coming out.

I saw there is a new handheld system out called Gizmondo.  While it shows promise, why would anyone want to enter the handheld market with Sony and Nintendo dominating it?  I wish Gizmondo well but its chances are slim. 

Look for game prices to go up with the next generation.  I think $60.00 and possibly $70.00 games will become a reality.  With the costs rising fast, I do not see the $50.00 price range staying.  It has been that price for more than a decade.  Everything else has gone up during that time, movies, video rentals, gasoline.  Expect games to follow suit.

05/21/2005
I am learning to do this blog early in the day.  I always leave it for later and then I end up falling asleep or something comes up.  Now I will try go get it done early, so I don't miss so many days.

Just grabbed some dirt cheap computer games at Target.  They were in their $1.00 section they put at the front of the store.  But the good thing is they were on clearance.  Funny isn't it, dollar stuff on clearance.  I always thought dollar stuff was someone else's clearance, but I digress.  Anyway, the stuff was 75% off, so I was picking up DVDs and computer games for a quarter each!  You cannot make a call for a quarter but you can get a computer game for that price.  Granted these are older titles, so you won't find no Doom 3 or Star Wars Galaxies.  But they had some good stuff like Caesar 3, Pharaoh for the RTS fans and I picked up a few pinball games and one called game room that has a pinball table, pool table, ping pong table, shuffleboard, table hockey and darts.  Played it some and it is well worth a quarter.  Heck, I would have paid double that amount, maybe even triple. ;)

One of the new games that intrigues me is the Wanda and Colossus.  I think they changed the name again but it is from the people who made ICO, one of my favorite games for the Playstation 2.  It looks like a must have game.  I can add that to the growing list of games that I want this holiday.  I think I may have to start putting money aside now.  But by then, there will be games I want now that I can find for bargain prices and will end up buying them.

I can still think about how much fun I had with the original Sim City.  I played it for weeks on end.  Never really got any of the sequels, not sure why.  I saw Sim City 3000 for $10.00 and thought about getting it.  My only problem with games is they will take a great game and make it too complex.  When you need a degree to learn how to play a game, it is too complex.

05/19/2005
I just watched the HBO show, OZ, for the first time.  I had heard about it but do not have HBO.  I saw season one for rent at the library and rented it out.  Really enjoyed the series and it got me thinking.  Wonder if something like that could be turned into a compelling video game?  The fights, the alliances, the tension could make for a compelling video game.  But it would also have to be toned down.  While the envelope is being pushed in video games, I don't think some of the subject matter that is covered in the show would be appropriate for video games.

Now word is that the XBOX 360 will come with a 20 gig hard drive that is detachable and upgradeable.  I am glad to hear this and hope it is true.  I really think it was a big selling point with the XBOX and it would have been a shame to not have it.  I also heard that it may not be completely backwards compatible.  The latest is that it may only be compatible with some games.  While it is fun to hear all the latest, there is still quite awhile before the actual launch and they could easily change things a few times.  Remember they did modifications on the Sega Saturn at the end to make it more 3D because of the Sony Playstation.

One thing that video games is full of is what ifs.  One that always intrigues me is "What if Coleco did not bother with the Adam computer and instead focused on the Colecovision and worked on a successor to it?"  Coleco was really doing well and it would have been interesting to see if there was a Colecovision 2.  It would have been out around the same time as the Nintendo 8-Bit and the Sega Master System.  I am not sure how it would have done, but it would have been interesting. 

05/18/2005
Still waiting for the complete unveiling of the Nintendo Revolution.  So far it is said to be DVD based, be backwards compatible with the Gamecube, use wireless controllers, be able to be standing vertical or sit horizontal and have online capabilities. 

One good thing I heard and hope is true is that Nintendo is looking to have most if not all their older games available for download on the Revolution.  They said it will range from classics like Donkey Kong to modern games like Mario Sunshine.  No word on how much they will charge for this.  I think this is a great move as Nintendo has one of the best back catalogs of any company and could make millions upon millions from this.  Just think how many people would be willing to download all the Mario games or all the Legend of Zelda games.  You also have all the Metroid, Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Kirby games.  And this does not include all the other games like Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and more. 

Speaking of Nintendo, why don't they release compilation disks?  There would be a ton of people who would buy a Mario compilation or a Donkey Kong or any of the other popular licenses.  They are sitting on a gold mine and not taking advantage of it.

 
05/16/2005
E3 is going on and the video game world is watching.  There will be so much unveiled at this show that it is worth paying attention to.  All the new systems, all the great games and who knows what else.  Here is what I have read about (no, I am in attendance, bummer). 

The Playstation 2 has been unveiled and it looks to be impressive.  It will use the Blu Ray DVDs, so programmers will have no worries about running out of room.   It will use the cell processor.  It will have two sets of 256 meg of memory.  And it will support more than two controllers unlike the PS2 (which needed an adapter to use more controllers).  It will also be backwards compatible with the PS2 and PS1 games.  Once again, Sony is going for the vertical design as is Microsoft. 

Here is a link to pictures of the PS3:

 http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v226/FmanFORPS3/41fe9f07.jpg

Here is a picture of the controller (these are all unofficial right now):

http://pwp.netcabo.pt/joaomgcd/ps3c.jpg

The blue ray DVDs will hold something like 5 times as much as current DVDs and are backwards compatible.  Sounds like a great system and already the support is there.  Gran Turismo 5, Devil May Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid 4 and others are already in the works. 

So far the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 look to be serious contenders.  I cannot wait to see what the Nintendo Revolution will be like.  We could end up with another console battle like this one where no matter what system you bought, you got plenty of great games.  All three systems have a ton of games and plenty of great games.  It was a no lose situation.

05/14/2005

 I watched the XBOX 360 special on MTV (more like an infomercial) and came away with mixed feelings.  There was good stuff and stuff that I am not so sure about.  Here are my thoughts.

I read that there will be a 20 gig hard drive sold separately.  That means that most companies will not support it.  The hard drive is something that made the XBOX unique and set it apart. 

I think there is a lot of promise there but I was really expecting a lot more.  The infomercial was short on showing the games and more on showing people and that band.  Also seeing HD games on a non HD channel is half the problem.  Hard to really get an idea of how great the graphics are without seeing them on a HD TV.

 
I am excited about the wireless controllers.  I think it is great that they will come with the system out of the box.  But I am not that fond of the look of the system and having it vertical.  But looks are a minor for me.
 
There are two ways to look at Microsoft being the first system out.  One is since they are getting in first, they will build a big market share like Sony did with the PS2 and have a big head start.  The other way to look at it is that they will have a headstart but Sony and its hype will keep most people from jumping aboard like the Sega Dreamcast.
 
I am not sold on their monthly fees for online or their market to sell you stuff that they give you now.  It looks to me that they are looking to increase revenue.  I liked the annual fee they charge with XBOX live.  I think $50.00 is very cheap and I could see them doubling it without much resistance.  You do get a lot for your money.  And I can see them selling extra levels and stuff if it is cheap.  By cheap, I am talking a dollar or two.  But these are the guys that wanted to charge what, $5.00 for a classic game you could play on your hard drive.
 
Now if XBOX 360 LIVE was $20.00 a month but for that price you would get free games to play (like the classic games they are trying to sell along with card games and stuff like that) and you got something like $10.00 worth of virtual money to use towards levels or outfits or stuff like that, I could see people jumping on it.  If you give people free virtual money (maybe $10.00 is too much, maybe $5.00), it will get them in the habit of buying online and hopefully get them to buy more stuff. 
 
I still want to know if it will be backwards compatible and how quickly will we see the amount of new software for the XBOX go away.  The system was really hitting its stride and it would be a shame to pull the plug on it.  I would rather see them wait until next year but I understand their wanting a head start.  I thought it would be interesting to see all three systems released at once and see who comes out on top.

Personally, I will get an XBOX 360 but not right away.  I just got an XBOX last Christmas, so I am not an early adopter.  It will probably be a few years unless some truly awesome games come out that I must have.  Right now the only game that I see that really captures my interest is the new Morrowind game.  But so little is known right now that be positive about anything.

05/12/2005
We hear about video games in the USA and in Japan and even in Europe, but what about the rest of the world?  What kind of demand are there for video games in South America or the rest of Asia or in Africa?  I know there would be little to no demand in remote areas or very impoverished areas where basic needs are more pressing but what about the areas that are better off?  The only news we ever get from Australia is how they banned this game or that game.  What developers are from that area of the world?  What games originated from there?  The only game you ever hear coming from Russia is Tetris but there has to be more. 

One technology that I think will be used more in the next generation of video games is voice recognition.  Headsets with microphones will become more popular and more games will incorporate their use.  A few games have done it so far (beyond talking online).  Games like Lifeline let you control a character by talking and Manhunt would take the sounds you make and incorporate them into the gameplay (make too much noise and your enemy come looking for you).  Both were quite limited in what they could do.  But look for games on the next system to understand more and allow more to be done with voice.  It is one more way to immerse a player into the game. 

One sport that has not been exploited in video games is the rodeo.  I am not sure if it is due to its limited audience or that many of the events may not lend themselves well to video games (with most bull rides lasting only 8 seconds,  you do not have alot of gameplay there).  But I think under the right team and with a little creative freedom (not trying to be an exact replication of the sport but rather enhanced for video games), it could be a hit.  I always dreamed of being a rodeo clown and want a game that allows me to live out that dream.

05/10/2005
We are almost to the day when Microsoft shows the new XBOX system on MTV.  The XBOX 360 will debut and it will be interesting to see if it lives up the hype it already has.  It will also be interesting to see if coming out first will make a big difference this time.  The one thing I have always said and will continue to say is that if nothing else, Microsoft has the money to invest into the platform and give it time to succeed.  If they get a few great games out of Rare this time to go along with Halo 3 and the next Dead or Alive fighter, they can have a real chance at beating Sony.  Only time will tell.

Anyone know how the NGage is doing?  I know it started out very rough but they redesigned it and came out with some good games for the system.  Has it helped sales of the system or are they still slow?  I know two people who bought it (when they put the original on clearance) and they both like the system.  I have not tried the games but they look decent.  Not great but allright. 

How long before more reality shows are made into video games?  I know they have American Idol and Amazing Race but that is all I have seen.  Tell me that a game like Amazing Race is not a natural for video games.  Or how about The Apprentice?  Knowing Donald Trump, it is probably already in the works.  I really don't get into reality shows but I know they have big followings and some sound like they perfect formula for a video game.

I have a complaint to voice towards Nintendo.  Why is it that in the latest Super Smash Brothers Melee, you have put in characters as obscure as the guy from Ice Climber and the Game and Watch Guy but you still pass over Stanley the Bugman?  Give the guy some love already.  For anyone who does not know, he starred in Donkey Kong 3 when Mario left for his solo game.  The problem is that was his one and only appearance.  Why does Nintendo diss this man so bad?  You make him follow Mario and then saddle him with a name like Stanley the Bugman and then just dump him like last week's trash.  We need to let Nintendo know that Stanley deserves better.

Speaking of forgotten, is there any way we can get Koei to release something other than Dynasty Warriors and Romance of Three Kingdoms games?  They have a great body of work to choose from.  From Genghis Khan to Liberty or Death to Gemfire, yet they keep doing the same games over and over again.  Come on Koei, take a few chances and do something new.  I can say that most gamers are sick of Dynasty Warriors.  There are five bloody editions plus a few director's cuts or whatever of the game.  Move on!

05/08/2005
Happy Mothers Day!  Hope you had a good day.

One of the more interesting games for the Gamecube and one that I would like to see a sequel to is Animal Crossing.  Not too often that a non violent game comes out and is alot of fun.  My favorite part is trying to collect all the NES games that they have hidden in the game.  Especially because it is much cheaper to play them that way then to pay $20.00 each for one game on the Gameboy. 

After talking about how I was not a big fan of sports games, I received numerous emails asking what genres I do like.  My favorites are probably RPGs, followed by classic arcade games and pinball.  I also do enjoy some action/adventure games and puzzle games are fun.  It is not that I dislike sports games, it is just that I do not have the time to invest into them.  It is not like the days of the Intellivision or even the NES when you could play a game and that was it, it was over.  Now you can play full seasons as well as the offseason.  The one good thing about a sports game is that you get your money's worth. 

Was playing some Q*Bert today and wondered why he fizzled out while Pacman has kept going.  They tried to do some updated versions of Q*Bert but they just did not do very well.  I always liked Q*Bert and enjoyed it more than Pacman.  Maybe because it never had a great sequel like Pacman did.  Ms. Pacman is still one of my favorite games.

One genre of games I have been getting into more lately is racing games.  I stink at them but I am getting into them more.  I am more into the arcade racing games like an Outrun than a more realistic game like Gran Turismo but you have to take it one step at a time.

I must admit that I still miss Next Generation magazine.  It is by far my all-time favorite video game magazine and I was sad to see it come to an end.  It had the best interviews by far and the reviews were for the most part, accurate.  They really did a good job with the articles and really took a more adult orientated approach to game journalism.  Next Generation, you are missed.

05/07/2005
Wonder why no company has tried doing dating games for the US market.  They are a huge hit in Japan and who knows, with some marketing they could do well here.  We are not talking GTA sales but some respectable sales.  Advertise in all the teen and preteen magazines.  You know the ones with pictures of all the popular boys of the day on it.  When I was young, it Tiger Beat magazine but I am sure it is something else now.  You would think that someone would give it a try.

On derby day, I thought I would tip my hat to one of my favorite game series.  Gallop Racer is one of those series that I have been playing since the first one came out for the Playstation.  I am not sure what it is about it, but I really enjoy raising, breeding and racing horses.  And each version keeps getting better and better.  The only problem is that since it is such a niche title, you have to look for it.  None of the box stores carry it and most of the specialized game stores only get a few copies. 

Know how Sega redid some of their classic games on that Sega Classics collection?  You know the one with the games having pretty much the same gameplay but with updated graphics.  Another company that  I would like to see do that is Activision.  They have a ton of great games that would probably find new audiences if it was not for the Atari 2600 graphics.  Either keep the gameplay the same or maybe add a few extra levels or challenges, but for the most part don't mess with perfection.  It is the sound and graphics that need a major overhaul.  Think of a collection that would have Pitfall, Kaboom, River Raid, Keystone Kapers, Megamania, Fishing Derby, Freeway and others, all with souped up graphics and sounds.  Add in the ability to save high scores (and more than just the top score) and two player modes for the games and sell it for $19.99 and I think you would have a winner.

Has there been a video game with Popeye since the ones released in the early 80's?  Nintendo had that arcade game and it was released on the Atari 2600, Colecovision, Intellivision and more by Parker Brothers.  Maybe it is just me, but this is one person who needs a new game.  And not just one where he fights Bluto or Brutus or whatever you want to call him.  Add in the Sea Hag and the goons.  Have him sail to Sinbad's Island.  Let him battle ghosts in a haunted house.  And all the while, using spinach to gain strength.  The character is well known enough and I think there would be a market for a solid game starring Popeye.

Do you have any idea how disappointed I was when I found out that the Zookeeper game for the Nintendo DS has absolutely nothing to do with the classic arcade game from Taito.  Zookeeper is one of my all-time favorite arcade games.  And it has yet to be released for any system (other than on the computer thanks to MAME).  I wish someone would release this game as part of a compilation.  Taito could do it with some of its other classics like Front Line, Qix, Darius, Elevator Action, Jungle Hunt, Wild Western as well as a few newer games like Double Dragon and Operation Wolf.  There are alot of great games there.

05/06/2005
I was interviewed yesterday about video game blogs.  Here is a link to the story Click Here.  Not sure how long it will be up.  I only have two lines but it was fun to do and how many times does a man make it in the cover story on a MIT website?  Too bad there was no link to the website, but what can you do?

I was happy to hear that Sid Meier's Pirates is coming to the XBOX.  I wanted to get the PC version but as I said in this blog before, I am not a big fan of PC games.  So when I heard it was coming to the XBOX I was ecstatic.  I have been a big fan of Sid's works for decades and even had the chance to meet him.  He was at the Phillyclassic a few years ago and as he made his rounds, he stopped at my table (back when I used to sell video games).  We talked about ten minutes about games.  He is very interested in what gamers think of his games and asked quite a few questions about what I liked and disliked about his games.  A very nice guy and one amazing game designer.

Anyone know the fate of the XBOX game B.C.?  I heard it was in hiatus but that is all I heard.  It was one of the games that I have been waiting for.  I heard one rumor that it was being made for the XBOX Next or 360 or whatever they are calling it.  I heard the same for the sequel to Fable, that it will also be made for the successor of the XBOX.

Speaking of rumors (or maybe it has been validated), I heard that the next Nintendo system will be backwards compatible with the Gamecube.  All I can say is that it is about time Nintendo got with the program.  I understand in the past because they were always cartridge based systems but now that it is disk based, I am glad to see them jumping on the bandwagon.  I know it will influence my decision on whether or not to buy it.  Now if they use DVDs or something other than those mini discs, I will be happy.  And I am sure many other gamers will be too.

Remember Starcade?  It was that video game show from the 1980's.  If you don't do a google search on it.  Anyway, I was wondering if something like that would work now?  Could there be a game show about video games but a modern one?  I think there is potential there.


05/05/2005
In my grand tradition of video game ideas, how about one where you work for a tabloid journal and have to come up with ridiculous stories about stars.  You have to come up with stories that will sell copies but you don't want to cross the line or you may be sued for slander.  You could also doctor photos and other things to sell copies.  The hard part would be making it something that you could play over and over and not just memorize the game.

I see that Atari is going to create a second version of its somewhat popular Atari Flashback console.  It must have done well enough to warrant a sequel.  This one will allow you to plug in Atari 2600 compatible controllers and will have more games.  Now I can play it with joysticks of my choice and finally play paddle games with real Atari paddles.  No word if they will be selling paddles separate but if they don't you may see a spike in the price for paddles on ebay.  That is a hint for you investors to start stocking up now.  Just don't blame when if you get stuck with a garage full of them.

Time for a few shameless plugs.  The first is for the arcade controller (I learned not to call it a joystick as people look at you weird when you tell them you have a huge joystick) that I use for all my MAME and other computer gameplay.  It is the Devastator II from Treyonics and while it is costly, it delivers.  With two joysticks, a trackball, spinner and a ton of buttons, it gives a realistic arcade experience for most games.  It even has pinball buttons on the side and when you are a pinball fanatic like myself, that is a must have feature.  Here is a link to the site: http://www.treyonics.com

Now the second shameless plug.  I received another email from a site with free online games to play.  One nice feature I saw on this site is that they post high scores for the various games.  Sorta like the arcades of yesteryear.  If you are into playing video games online and want to show the world how skilled you are, this is a good place to start.  http://www.junglearcade.com  is the link.  It has a good selection of games from classics like Space Invaders to card games to more modern stuff.  Have fun and put up some high scores!

There is a pizza place/arcade that I take my kids to about once a month.  No, it is not Chuck E. Cheese.  I hate that place.  Too many kids who are not supervised, very few real arcade games (just those lame redemption games) and pizza that is to be kind, not very good.  This place is called Play to Win Arcade and it is Chuck E. Cheese done right.  The pizza is better, the games are better and even the redemption prizes are better.  Anyway, being a classic game fan, I find myself gravitating towards the classic games.  They don't have alot of classic games but enough to keep me happy.  I find myself playing Ms. Pacman, Galaga and Centipede.  My goal is to get the high scores on Ms. Pacman and Galaga before I go (most of the time it is quite easy to do).  Centipede has high scores that are out of this world.  We are talking like a half a million points.  Well beyond my ability.  I can get over 50,000 with some luck but a half a million is out of my league.  One thing I have found with Centipede is to concentrate on the spiders.  I see too many people bother with tha scorpion.  Sure it is worth a thousand points, but after the first few you have almost no chance of getting them.  They zip across the screen so fast you have little chance to hit them.  But the spiders keep coming and are worth anywhere from 300 to 900 points (the closer it is to you, the more points it is worth).  So if you are a little daring, you can rack up 900 points and keep doing that.  Personally, I usually go for the close but not too close which nets 600 points.  Also if you don't get the spider quickly, it becomes a royal pain. 


05/04/2005
When I tell people that I do not play sports video games, I get some strange looks.  They say stuff like "You don't play Madden?"  I tell them that the games just don't interest me.  I do not have the time or desire to play through a full season or to become good enough at the game.  What amazes them more is when I tell them that I do not play games online.  They think I am nuts to have both a PS2 and an XBOX and not play online.  Once again, it just is not my bag.

There was a time when I did try online gaming.  But I had bad experiences for the most part with it.  It first started with Ultima Online.  I thought about how great it would be to play online.  I have visions of grand quests with people from around the world.  Then I got a dose of reality.  I went online and into the forest I went.  I saw a nice little deer walking around the woods.  I figured that I had a bow and arrow and could easily kill this creature.  Bambi, look out!  Well, I shot the deer with an arrow and know what?  The thing turned around and kicked the tar out of me.  Character dead.  Talk about a horrible tombstone.  "Here lies Tom the Valiant, killed by the first deer he came across".  Things never got much better in the game.  I soon realized that I had too much of a life to be successful at the game.  You really need to have a good chunk of your day available to build your character up.  I did not have enough time available to have a chance at being anything other than fodder.

When the Dreamcast came along, I tried online play again.  I tried NFL 2K1 (not sure which one it was, either 2K1 or 2K2
) and had bad experiences again.  That is when I learned that my skills were weak.  Nothing is more demoralizing than thinking your skills are good, only to have your head handed to you over and over again.  After a few helpings of humble pie, I hung up the spikes.

I did have better experiences playing Phantasy Star Online.  I did find some good people and have some good adventures.  Then came the people who created something that could wipe out your character.  Soon the bustling rooms became quite empty as people feared of losing their characters that they built up.

So that is why I am not a big fan of online games.  Sure I am probably missing out on a bunch of fun.  I hear all kinds of great things about City of Heroes or Everquest.  But when I see that you have to pay month after month for the game, I think it is better to not go down that road.  It is enough to pay $50.00 for a game.  But to then pay another $10.00-$15.00 a month to keep playing the same game is more than I am willing pay.   

05/03/2005
I don't know about you but I am more excited about this year's E3 show than I have been in years.  Most shows we have a pretty good idea what is coming.  But this year there is so much uncertainty that it makes it intriguing.  We all know that the XBOX Next will debut but after that it is all guesses.  Will Sony show the next Playstation?  Will Nintendo show either of their new systems?  What will the software for these systems look like?  How will the second generation of software for the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP look?  How many films will be available for the PSP?  How many more big hits will still be coming to the current systems? 

I saw a commercial for Gamefly where they showed these people at a fictional rental store and the only games left were games like "Waiting in Line" and "Paint Peeling".  I actually laughed at it.  Made me think what other funny games I could come up with in that mode.  Think about absurd ideas for video games, ones that are so stupid that no one would ever think of making them into a video game.    You could have "Housecleaning" where you get to walk into a dirty house and try to get it clean as fast as possible.  You would then get judged on how fast and how clean the house is.  There could be a "Clapping Simulator" where you would make a big pair of hands clap.  You could control how hard and how fast they clapped.  And once you finished a few levels, you could unlock the ability to snap your fingers as well.  And last but not least, you could have "Grooming".  This is where you are given a shabby looking man or woman and have to groom them as well as possible in a given amount of time.  Do you just clip the finger and toe nails or do you also file them and possibly paint them?  Do you spend your time trimming your nose hair or getting rid of that unibrow?  These are the decisions that await you.  You would start off with simple stuff like going to school or work.  As you progress through levels, you would go on dates, go to parties and even the opera where your skills would be tested to the max.  You would get points you could upgrade from a straight razor to an electric one.  These would improve your looks and speed.

I look back at past games and I see a stack of memorable characters.  Some like Pacman, Mario and Sonic have stood the test of time.   They remain popular today and still can sell games.  It makes me think about how many characters today will have that same staying power.  I don't see too many that have that potential.  But then there are not that many characters in the history of video games that you can really say that about.  There are maybe a good dozen characters that non video game playing people could recognize.  And that is out of over 30 years of video games.  And most of them are from Nintendo. 
 
05/02/2005
This is the second month in a row with a big release for the XBOX (actually you can make a case for three big releases as Doom 3 came out recently as well).  Last month it was Jade Empire and this month it is Forza.  If Microsoft is releasing games of this caliber now, it makes you wonder what they have for the holiday season.  We know there is no Halo 3 coming out this holiday season, so what will they offer other than the XBOX Next if it makes it out this year.  I personally think it will not release this year.  Why would they release it?  Sure they can get a jump on the others but the XBOX is riding high, so let it go another Christmas. 

The one company that is very quiet is Nintendo.  They have a new system in the works as well as another Gameboy system.  Sure they are not the company they once were but they have enough money, clout and properties to cause a battle.  If they would just once embrace the new technology and being different.  The Nintendo 64 was a mistake with its cartridges when the rest of the world embraced CD.  Then they released those infernal mini disks.  Yeah, it has not really had much impact on the quality of the games as the new Resident Evil can prove, but it has affected sales.  Trust me it is much easier to get the significant other in your family to agree to a new system if it doubles as a DVD player.  Nintendo needs to forget this whole "we are making a game system only" crap and get with the program.  If the Gamecube had a DVD drive instead of that mini disk thing it would have sold much better.  It also would have had more support from third party as they are more reluctant to support a format that Nintendo controls.

 

Onto a different subject, did you know there is a video game price guide?  Not the Digital Press which is considered the bible of the industry but also only comes out every 18 months or so, but a magazine that comes out somewhere between bi-monthly and quarterly.  Did you also know that yours truly is one of the writers of the magazine?  If you answered no to either one, you need to check it out.  It is called Video Game Collector and issue #3 just came out!

 !
(Click on the cover to go to the website or go to http://www.vgcollector.com/)

Check it out as it is a good read and this issue has some great features including an interview with Nolan Bushnell, article by Howard Scott Warshaw, two page timeline on Atari by Leonard Herman and a chance to win an Atari 2600 with 100 carts!  As you can tell, it is an Atari themed issue.

Speaking of plugs, I just received an email from a guy who did a Gradius review and used one of my box scans.  The cool thing is he put a link for my site on it, a very classy gesture.  One thing I will always say is that I am willing to share the scans on my site with other sites.  I have had scans from this site used in hundreds of websites a few magazines and elsewhere.  I have no problem with it and only ask for a link in return.  I was fortunate enough that a guy sent me a CD full of Nintendo box scans that had almost every one made.  At the time I had about 250 scans up from a huge collection of boxes I bought off a person for that very purpose.  So I will eventually have all the scans up.  Here is the review for anyone who is interested in Gradius: http://www.superbusnet.com/nes/gradius.htm.


05/01/2005
I am back!  We made it without the site going down.  With the expanded bandwidth, I should be alright.  I upgraded my web hosting package to increase the bandwidth by 33% and double the available space, so I can move forward in my quest to have every Nintendo box up and then some.

Just returned from a week long visit to Walt Disney World.  I must recommend to any video game fan to go to Disney Quest.  It was the highlight of my vacation.  Well worth the money.  I plan on doing a big review of it and may turn it into a special issue of Retrogaming Times.  I wasn't planning on doing anymore but I have felt a need.  I planned on just doing articles for the Retrogaming Times Monthly that has gone on since I put the newsletter in hiatus but lately when I send an article, it does not get posted.  So maybe I will do a small issue with a big review of Disney Quest.

Speaking of gaming in the Magic Kingdom, they have a great selection of pinball games in the arcade under Space Mountain.  I had a field day playing Roller Coaster Tycoon Pinball, Star Wars Episode One pinball, Elvis and Revenge of Mars.  I played five games that I paid for and ended up winning two free games and four free balls!  I was on fire.  I almost won a second game on Roller Coaster Tycoon pinball but just missed it. 

I see that there are even more video game shows coming out.  From someone who has attended a ton of classic video game related shows including possibly the first one (Electronicon in Philly back in 1997), I think it is a good thing.  It is a great way to find some games for your collection, meet other gamers and play a ton of games.  They are getting more mainstream, which means they are losing their small town feel but that is the price of success.  But with bigger size means more games to play and better guests to meet!