Monthly Archives: September 2011

Game haul: Retro Gaming Expo edition.

Hello gentlemen (and ladies!). I am back with some random goodie buys, partially because of a recent event called the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. a small little convention for old and new school gamers alike. Most of the booths were selling old games from the 2600 to the PS1, but also some current and last-generation games, so it was more of a gaming flea market than a mini-version of PAX or anything like that.

Among seeing plastic statues of Master Chief and Naked Snake, I saw a bunch of arcade units including Capcom Bowling and Vs. Super Mario Bros. I also met Pat the NES Punk but missed out on the opportunity to see David Crane of Pitfall and early 2600 fame. Clearly I had my priorities straight. I also spotted a dude wearing a Whiskey Media shirt (Giant Bomb, Comic Vine, etc), didn’t catch his name though. Perhaps that was for the best, he might’ve been a fan of Comic Vine. (I kid, I also saw him at the convention).

Game haul for 9/24Game Haul for 9/25

Picture on the left’s the haul from Saturday the 24th, the other is from yesterday on the 25th.

So there’s a lot of Quake games in that first picture. Quake (Saturn), Quake II (PS1) and Quake III Arena (Dreamcast). The PS1 Quake II has a few features unique to that version, as well as a prologue level not seen in the PC version. I honestly bought it because I was curious how that version handled.

Quake Saturn was made by Lobotomy Software, and actually uses the Slavedriver engine used to run PowerSlave on the consoles rather than reverse-engineer John Carmack’s Quake engine to run on a system not built for 3D. Duke Nukem 3D on the Saturn was also a Lobotomy project and reused the Slavedriver engine as well, which is baffling because the Build engine is not a taxing piece of hardware.

Quake III for the Dreamcast was rare at the time for having cross-platform play with PC owners, as well as mouse/keyboard support. If you were still rocking a 486 in 1999 and couldn’t play any modern game, the DC version was probably one worth checking out. Granted, you wouldn’t get levels like Chronic on the DC, but maybe that’s for the best.

Soldier of Fortune on the Dreamcast was, like almost every game I bought, more for curiosity’s sake. See, back in the day PCs were drastically more powerful than the average console, thus it was interesting to see developers tweak and modify PC games to run on older, weaker hardware. Soemtimes to even give incentive they’d add new stuff to that version. I bet Soldier of Fortune was a bare-bones port but hey, at least I can play it since my PC copy refuses to install on my Vista box.

The World is Not Enough for the PS1 was a random impulse buy because I’m always curious on the James Bond games not called “Goldeneye.” While many people still think there hasn’t been a good Bond game since Goldeneye, some of the EA games barring junk like Goldeneye: Rogue Agent were actually pretty good. This was made by the same guys that gave us the Syphon Filter-esque Tomorrow Never Dies a year prior, but this is a FPS. I have no clue if it’s any good.

I bought considerably less on Sunday, but I bought Aladdin on the Genesis (Pre-Shiny Entertainment game, complete with Dave Perry and Tommy Tallarico!) and Toejam & Earl III (mostly for my mom, she loved that game). Lastly, that Nintendo Power is to replace a destroyed copy I’ve been mysteriously holding onto for years. I knew a friend who had a cousin who had Nintendo Power issues, and most of them got damaged or ransacked, but I was able to pilfer a few issues from them, including issue 28, which featured the new SNES hit Super Mario World. My copy was missing the front cover and the first 10 pages. Now that I have a complete issue, I should probably use the destroyed issue as a firestarter. You think retro game fans will go nuts for me destroying an old gaming magazine? 😛

Spotted: Sega CD SnatcherWhuh... why do you exist?

Also spotted at the convention was a copy of Snatcher for the Sega CD for too damn much ($250!) and Cardcaptor Sakura Tetris for the PlayStation ($50). Yeah, I don’t know what to say about that last one.

I wanna say the Retro Gaming Expo was pretty sweet, and I hope they do it again next year, because I’ll totally go again. Maybe the price of Duke Nukem 3D on the Saturn won’t be $25, or how one booth was selling Mr. Gimmick and Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels reproduction cartridges for $65-75. (Another booth was also selling SMB: Lost Levels for a more modest $35.)

(Crossposted to my Giant Bomb blog.)

Game Center CX, Prince of Persia, and random buys.

Lately I’ve been watching fan-made subtitled episodes of the Japanese TV series Game Center CX. The premise is that Shinya Arino, one half of a Japanese comedy duo, plays random old video games with the goal of completing them. These were usually Famicom (NES in the US) titles, some well-known such as Super Mario Bros. and Ninja Gaiden (the original on the NES), others that never came to the States like Umihara Kawase. Unlike some gamers, Arino is somewhat of an amateur, sometimes making the most simplest of mistakes. Kotaku, a site I’ve voiced my opinion of in the past, has been recently airing episodes of these under the title Retro Game Master, with a overdubbed announcer and subtitled everything else. Problem with their dubs is they’ve chosen games like Clock Tower and S.O.S., little known text-heavy games that they don’t translate the in-game text, which make it hard to follow. Not only that, they remove any segment that’s not part of the “Arino’s Challenge” of the show, so it’s basically castrated for American audiences. Avoid the Kotaku dub at all costs.

Anyway, a random episode I stumbled upon was Game Center CX tackling the Super Nintendo version of Jordan Mechner’s platforming classic Prince of Persia. The SNES version featured additional levels (20 levels to complete in two hours as opposed to the original’s 60), a remastered art design and a specially made soundtrack, making it feel like a “Deluxe Edition” of the original game. This lead me to watching a play through of the SNES Prince of Persia on another channel, then to me finding Mechner’s website, where he compiled all his old journal entries from 1986-1993, which mostly go over the history of him making Prince of Persia as well as his brief dabbling into scriptwriting. To realize that when I was a baby that this 20-something (at the time) man was making one of the more influential video games of the early 1990s is really fascinating. Unfortunately he stops before he goes into his later work, including The Last Express, which would probably be more of a fascinating tale today.

In addition to finding this stuff, I went out on a brief buying spree yesterday. Found two games, Illusion of Gaia and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask at a Goodwill for $7 total, and snagged The Running Man, Hard Boiled and Navy Seals on DVD for about $30 total. The games were because I thought they were both rare (they weren’t), and the movies are to start a more robust DVD/Blu-ray collection. I’ve also been wanting to do reviews/retrospectives on those action movies, which is another one of my ideas brewing in my head. Hopefully I’ll act out on it, I think it’s fascinating stuff.

Remembering September 11: Where was I that day?

It’s the tenth anniversary of the day when some religious extremists decided to hijack some of our airplanes and killed a bunch of people, destroyed one landmark and damaged one other. It’s a day that will live in modern infamy. I guess I’ll tell my story on what I saw that day, before I get into a little rant.

I was 15 years old, going through high school at the time. I wake up at 7AM, which was the normal time for me to be awake. Dad tells me to turn to channel 8 or 6 or one of the networks. I saw the first tower already attacked. I kept watching the news stories reporting this, stunned in horror at what was happening. I think I even saw the second plane hit the second tower. By then I was running late for school, so I had to get in the car and miss what happened after. Back then, it was harrowing to find out a tragic event has happened in your country and you were alive to see it.

That being said, it’s unfortunate for all the losses we suffered, as well as all the families who grieve for their losses daily. It annoys me that even ten years later I have to be constantly reminded of it every damn year. Sure, the first anniversary and the second I could let it slide, even remembering the tenth year of the tragedy. But every September 11th since the attacks, I’ve had people go “9/11 NEVER FORGET” and to remember who we lost and such. Haven’t we given enough of our condolences during the attack and in 2002 on its first anniversary? Why must we constantly remind ourselves of this every year? We don’t do this during the anniversary the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor during World War II, we don’t do this during the anniversary of one’s death, so why must I constantly be reminded to remember and grief for our losses every year for the past ten years?! In fact, I’d honestly rather forget that it happened. Telling someone who lost a family member in the attacks to remember 9/11 has to be even worse for them than for me, considering how much their life changed in that one instant. To me, it’s inconsiderate and insulting.

If you lost somebody on that fateful day, somebody you cared for, somebody you loved, I am terribly sorry for your loss. If you’re one who constantly beats that drum of “9/11 never forget,” forget about it already. We’re at that point where the 9/11 tragedy should be a footnote in a news story, and only remembered on specific anniversaries. If I didn’t see any more 9/11 dedications until 2016, that would be perfectly fine by me.