Billy Mitchell: You play Pac Man?


We all know who Billy Mitchell is especially if you love classic games, but sometimes you can know somebody and get the reason you know them just a little bit wrong as Billy explains in this clip from our Q&A event at the Florida Film Festival for Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Billy Mitchell


The Obsolete Gamer Show returns with its 100th video interview and we welcome video game legend, Billy Mitchell to the show. Love him or hate him, Billy is a champion and world record holder known for his skills in Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and more.

Billy Mitchell has been featured in films such as The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters as well as many other video game documentaries and was part of CNN’s the 80’s.

Being from Hollywood, Florida we got to interview him in person and asked him about his reputation in the gaming world and his thoughts of subjects from gamers hating on each other to what advice he would give a gamer about to hit the big time.

Diddy Kong Racing

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Diddy Kong Racing

While Mario Kart has been king of kart racing games since 1992, it has seen many imitators and rivals.  Diddy Kong Racing was the first kart racer (that I know of) that Nintendo had done outside the Mario series. Though technically Rare (who made the Donkey Kong Country series) were the real team behind it.
Diddy Kong Racing - N64
 It featured a similar set-up to Mario Kart, with racing through colorful themed tracks with power-ups to use. The cast didn’t feature Diddy Kong’s famous uncle, but original characters. Most notable would be Banjo the bear (who would later star in Banjo-Kazooie) and Conker (the star of Conker’s Bad Fur Day) the squirrel.
Diddy Kong Racing - N64
What also set it apart from Mario’s was the ability to use hovercraft and planes. The game received a very positive reaction from critics and gamers alike. It’s often remarked as one of the most beloved N64 games, with many thinking it was superior to Mario Kart 64.
Diddy Kong Racing - N64
No real sequel was ever released as Rare left Nintendo for Microsoft. Though surprisingly they came back to develop a remake of Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo DS. It featured online-play, but Conker and Banjo were absent. Though ironically despite some improvements, the DS remake received a mixed reaction. It wasn’t considered terrible but it was vastly overshadowed by Mario Kart DS.

Donkey Kong Flash Game

 

Donkey Kong Flash Game

One of the most classic and hardest original arcade games out there. The idea is simple, Donkey Kong has kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend Pauline (Way before Princess Peach) and he must jump over the barrels Donkey Kong tosses as well as fire. Besides his timing and jumping skills Mario can sometimes use a magic hammer that destroys the barrels. If he reaches the top he rescues the girls or maybe Kong climbs higher. Funny enough, most gamers never got past level 3 of the original game.

  • Use the Arrow Keys to Move

  • Use the Space Bar to Jump

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr.

Donkey Kong Jr - NES
I remember playing Donkey Kong 64 many moons ago, and I’m pretty sure they included the first game in there as an easter egg for fans to find and enjoy. I found it, and thought it was pretty sweet. I also played the version they included in the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing.
Donkey Kong Jr - NES
However despite all that, I never got to play the sequel Donkey Kong Jr. A notable but forgotten classic. While the first game had you playing Mario trying to save his girlfriend, the roles are reversed this time around. You play as Donkey Kong’s son, who must save his father from the obviously unforgiving Mario.
Donkey Kong Jr - NES
The game plays remarkable similar to the original, yet with a new twist. Instead of being a short Italian dude with concrete shoes, you’re a monkey that can barely jump but can grab hold of vines, ropes, and chains. The game has a few levels to enjoy and can be replayed for high score record keeping if you’re into that.
Donkey Kong Jr - NES
Though I admit it’s pretty short game even though you can have fun playing it multiple times. It’s 4 levels of fun, but that don’t last too long. Yet I can overlook the fact that it’s an Arcade-to-NES game and forgive some it’s natural faults.

Donkey Kong Jr. Math

donkey kong

Donkey Kong Jr. Math

Well, it was bound to happen. Time to review a stinker. Not just a stinker, mind you, but a post-Taco Bell chased by black coffee with a side of Taco Bell for dessert type of stinker. Light a candle and say a prayer because here is the unwashed skidmark of the Black Box games, Donkey Kong Jr. Math. Heaven help us.

donky kong
“I can either play this or a math game like it? Kiss my Huggies!”

First, a quick history lesson in what I mean by “Black Box” since there has been a question or two on the definition. The Nintendo Entertainment System launched in small quantities on October 18, 1985 in selected areas of New York City. Due to the video game crash of 1983 (thanks Atari!), noone was willing to entertain the thought of selling home game consoles ever again. Therefore, Nintendo, steadfast in their resolve, changed the name of the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom) instead to an “entertainment system”. How this actually worked when it is obviously a game console, I’ll never understand. Anyway, on the day of the initial launch, there were 18 titles ready to go. They all came in a black box and in the lower left hand corner, they were marked with te type of game it was.

If you look at the Clu Clu Land and Super Mario boxes in my prior reviews, you’ll notice the symbol for the “Action Series” and “Light Gun Series” with Hogan’s Alley and so forth. Hence, “Black Box”. The NES had a true launch in February of 1986 with more titles and after that is when the third party publishers started releasing games and didn’t want to conform to the labels of their games, so the idea was scrapped. Hindsight 20/20, it was a good move, because what the hell could you label something with multiple genres in it like a Battletoads or Guardian Legend? One of the categories was “Education Series” and while it probably had good intentions and may have had some legs in future titles, it only had one game ever attached to it. Why? It sucked so fucking bad that it killed off the idea completely.

donkey kong
“I warned him if he starred in that goddamned math game, I’d disown his ass for Diddy Kong. Junior is dead to me. There is no Junior”

Which brings us to Donkey Kong Jr, Math. Seriously, all I want to type here is what a pile of shit it is, journalistic integrity be damned. But with heavy heart and mind, there is no choice but to roll my sleeves up and stick my hands deep into the doo-doo and pray I come out of it with a filth that can be washed away.

Donkey Kong Jr. Math
More like calculate how long before this game gets thrown into traffic.

The game sure looks like DK Jr. from the arcades but that’s where the similarity ends. There are 3 modes to “play” but the only difference between A and B are that B uses negative numbers. The gist of it is that Papa Kong gives you a number and you have to jump to a vine with a number (you can only hit one at a time), then travel to the mathematic symbol you want, then hop to another number, etc, until you have the total Donkey asks for. Example, Papa gives me the number 77, you have to jump to 9, then the times symbol, then 8, then hop your baby gorilla ass back to the plus sign, then back to the 5 and you “win”. That is IT. The game booklet never lets on that it is 2 player only so you have this poor, pathetic looking pink DK Jr. off to the right who dies when you complete a problem. What the shit is that? Be great at math so you can slaughter your own kind ruthlessly? Wait, maybe this game did teach a 1%er a thing or two growing up.

Donkey Kong Jr. Math
The unnamed pink twin of DK Jr tugs at my heartstrings. Math = genocide

The final game mode makes zero sense from any sane perspective. You choose the type of problem you want to do and then Kong presents you with one. Sort of. To solve it, all you need to do is push a block up past the Nitpickers who never seem to touch you and that’s the game! This mode can be beaten within 5 minutes and I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is supposed to accomplish. If I watch numbers be added for me, it will instill a photographic memory strong enough to always remember what these two numbers added up equal to?

Donkey Kong Jr. Math
No bullshit, this took me about 2 seconds to beat.

THE FINAL VERDICT
1/10 Widely regarded as one of the worst launch titles ever. Probably started out as a decent concept, but something seriously got fucked up in the development process. That or Nintendo had no beta testers at the time because this game just feels rushed and broken. It killed Donkey Kong Jr so dead that the only other appearance he made was in 1992’s Super Mario Kart for the SNES. The 1 point is for the decent graphic port but to go higher than that simply isn’t possible. The idea was for kids to want to mix games and learning, but who is going to pop this shit in when you have ANY other game laying around? Brain Age this isn’t. They couldn’t give this craptastic cart away. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a shower. I feel violated having played this…

Gamer Profile: Cambria Edwards

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I didn’t have gaming consoles growing up, but my cousins did and I was over there all the time. Donkey Kong was one of the first games I ever played and I fell in love. Whenever a new console came out, of course my cousins had it and monopolized it. So I would go in the other room and play my Donkey Kong on the Nintendo. Even in the early 2000’s I would always ask to play until they finally got rid of their system. I was a bit heartbroken and it still remains one of my favorite games to this day. ~Cambria Edwards

Cambria Edwards

Favorite Classic Video Game: So I don’t know if this counts, but my favorite is Nintendo’s, Donkey Kong.

 The Tomb Raider Project:

Tell us about working on the Tomb Raider Project: It was brilliant! Being able to play the most iconic female video game character, having all of her gear and rolling around in the mud (there was a LOT of dirt involved, half of which doesn’t even register on camera). I got to wield my pickax, hang from trees, and I even build a fire for one of the shots. I do archery, so luckily that came in handy as well. In July I went to Comic Con as Lara and it was fantastic.  A lot of people recognized me from the videos and even more were astounded with the costume. It meant a lot to see so many people as passionate about the character and game as I am.

See more of her Tomb Raider work here.

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Guillaume Bastide: Anuman Interactive

Anuman

Name: Guillaume BASTIDE

Company: Anuman Interactive (through Joystick Replay label)

Profession: PR & Communication Manager

Favorite Classic Game: Donkey Kong (Game&Watch)

Quote: This is one of the first game Very simple but very hard too, especially challenging my father on the high score ranking 🙂

Bio: Created  in 2000, Anuman Interactive is a french softwares, applications and videogames publisher. Launched in March 2013, after Anuman Interactive recovered the “Joystick” and “Tilt” brands, the “Joystick Replay” Label  includes the remastered versions of the big classic titles of the video game history. More informations on http://www.anuman-interactive.com/en/

Project:

logoJR_final_white_bg_SansElipse
Released:
“Crazy Cars – Hit the Road”, “The Bluecoats – North vs South”
Incoming: “Fire & Forget: The Final Assault”, “Prehistorik”

Project Info:

The Bluecoats – North vs South trailer

Crazy Cars Trailer :

Donkey Kong: The start of a collection

Donkey Kong: The start of a collection

It may appear that we are going somewhat off-topic with this post. Strictly speaking, Donkey Kong, the game that is Mario’s birth-ground, does not seem an appropriate subject for a blog titled beforemario.

But it is not too farfetched, to state that without Donkey Kong this blog would not exist. And it is therefore more than appropriate to put a spotlight on Miyamoto’s premiere master piece; the start of my fondness for Nintendo, as well as the start of my collection.

With that in mind – let’s dig in.
Donkey Kong collection

It is not my intention to introduce or explain Donkey Kong. That would be silly. Unlike many of the Nintendo toys and games featured on this blog, I can safely assume that you know all ins and outs of the game’s origin, have played its four levels a zillion times, and watched The King of Kong more than once. Right?

What I would like to show you instead, is my first – ever – Nintendo game. The first piece of what would become a mountain of games. The first snowflake of an eventual collecting avalanche.

Here it is: the actual first Nintendo item I bought, almost thirty years ago.
Donkey Kong collection

Let us rewind three decades of time, to the Summer of 1982. For months, I had been pumping quarters (well, actually, guilders) into Nintendo’s arcade revelation Donkey Kong.

Donkey Kong collection

I did not own a video game console at the time, and got all my pixelated kicks at the local arcade.

Now, I must admit that I had never really liked the Atari VCS 2600, which was the big home video game daddy around that time. I had played it occasionally, but could not get over the difference between its game play and what was on offer at the arcade. As a result, it never made it to my ‘must have’ list.

I remember seeing Atari’s home conversions of Space Invaders and especially Pac Man (two of my favorite games at the arcade) and not warming to these versions at all.

Then one day, I walked into a toy store, and saw a stack of brochures laying on the counter. It featured a new game console about to be released: CBS’s ColecoVision.
Donkey Kong collection

The scan shown above is from the actual copy I picked up that day, thirty years ago. Given the many times I have thumbed through it (and drooled over it), in the months that followed that moment, it looks surprisingly fresh.

The main selling point of the ColecoVision was a mouth-watering home conversion of Donkey Kong. A screen shot of it was put prominently on the front of the brochure. With the yellow high-light behind it, it stood out more than the actual console itself. And with reason. This was its killer app.

Donkey Kong collection

Inside the brochure, three pictures told a clear story, with a simple side-by-side comparison of the three home versions of Donkey Kong, for the ColecoVision, theAtari 2600 and the Intellivison.

Donkey Kong collection
Never mind that Coleco had handled all three conversions, and possibly given the version destined for their own hardware platform maybe a little bit of extra attention and TLC. The difference in quality, foremost visually, was staggering.
Donkey Kong collection

The ColecoVision version of Donkey Kong was no pixel-perfect conversion either. The first level, for instance, was missing one platform (it had five, instead of the original’s six). And more was missing, as I would soon find out. But it was close.
Donkey Kong collection

So, long story short: desire swelled up in me. I had to have it.

And after months of saving up, I became the proud owner of a ColecoVision.
Donkey Kong collection



Unlike in the US, where Donkey Kong came packed with the console, in Europe you had to buy it separately. Which I did, obviously.

Donkey Kong collection
A magical moment. Look at it. Hours of fun, packed in a black piece of plastic.
Donkey Kong collection

I slotted the cartridge into the machine and started playing.

Donkey Kong collection
Initial amazement at the feast of color and sound was suddenly replaced by confusion. After three levels the game started again at the first. Wait a minute… where is the factory level?

After some moments of disbelieve, and re-reading the manual, I had to take in the truth: there was no factory level. My favorite level had been sliced during the conversion process. Alas, no running on conveyor belts. No jumping over pies.

Donkey Kong collection
After recovering from that somewhat disappointing news, I was still very happy with my own home arcade, and played Donkey Kong for hours on end.
Donkey Kong collection

After this first Nintendo purchase came another, and another, and another, and another. But thirty years on, this one remains one of the most special.

Did you Know: Mario Edition

super mario

Did you Know: Mario Edition

Facts about that world famous plumber, Mario and his games that have lasted for decades that you may or may not have known about. Obviously you can find these elsewhere, but together in one spot is always nice. So let us begin.

Mario’s Mustache serves a greater purpose

Super-Mario

Sure it seems completely normal now and without it our turtle battling plumber would be incomplete, but here is the real reason Mario has a mustache. Perhaps creator of Donkey Kong, Shigeru Miyamoto knew that Mario would become a worldwide hit or maybe he just cared a lot about the details, but when making Mario he wanted him to stand out and be distinctive as possible not just a blur of pixels. Now remember the time, he only had seven pixels to work with when drawing his face so the mustache was added to give him that personal touch not found in many faces in games at the time.

The carpet matches the drapes

Super-Mario

Staying in the world of Mario Bros, in the original Super Mario Bros for the NES the clouds and bushes uses the same graphics. Yes, it is true, sometimes you need to save on artistry so why not turn a white cloud into a green bush (insert you own joke here. I bet most of you never even noticed.

Clothes make the man and the animation

super_mario-smb

So we understand the reasoning for Mario’s mustache, but why the overalls. Well, you might think it has to do with a plumbers uniform which makes sense and I am sure was also a part of the reasoning, but if you also notice, Mario’s arms have different color sleeves. This helps with his jumping animation so it shows up well on our old 8-bit systems. With just a normal shirt or a shirt matching his overalls it would make the animation seem less fluid.

Mario doesn’t use his head

Super-Mario

Many people may know this, but just as many do not. Mario does not break the bricks with his head. I mean, come on, he may be super, but he isn’t stupid. If you look closely, you will see that he uses his fist to break them. This also plays into our previous fact that talked about his overalls and shirt color. It just makes more sense that a tough Italian plumber would break bricks with his fist not his head right?

When Video Games Become Board Games: Part 1

The 1980s saw a sudden increase in board games that were based upon classic video game cartridges or the quarter-devouring arcade machines.  Leading the charge was the powerhouse board game company Milton Bradley with an astounding array of video-to-board game titles, but were soon joined by competing gaming companies such as Ideal, Entex, and Parker Brothers.  It was a glorious time for board game enthusiasts!

This is the first of (hopefully) a series of articles listing and describing the various video game to board game properties that provided hours of family fun for a generation of gamers.  Just a quick note of definition: to be included on this list a game must fulfill a number of requirements: have its origin in a video game property, be for at least two players, and be an actual board or card game (not a handheld or tabletop electronic game).

video game board game

 

Frogger (Milton Bradley, 1981) While the fun of hopping across the road, avoiding certain death from a wide variety of sources was a hit as a video game, the translation – authentic as it was – did not have the same charm as a two-player board game, which, really, should not have been a surprise.   More interesting is that this may have been the very first board game to be based on a video game property!

video game board game

Pac-Man Game. (Milton Bradley, 1981) One of the best conversions of the arcade experience to table top board game play by using a game board in the design of the Pac-Man screen, with marbles taking the place of all the dots (the marbles are held in place by holes in the game board).  Four competing Pac-Man player tokens with the ability to capture and store marbles travel the board, avoiding ghosts and eating their way to success.  A brilliant translation!

video game board game

Defender (Entex, 1982) Entex had introduced electronic handheld versions of several popular video games, including Defender in 1981.  Board games were still a hot market, and so they also experimented with a board game version. Up to four players could attempt to turn back the invasion of various aliens, their directions shifting using a spinner to simulate the mobility of the arcade version. An ambitious, difficult to find game.

video game board game

Donkey Kong Game (Milton Bradley, 1982) Players moved their Mario tokens on a game board reproduction of the classic game screen, dodging barrels and fireballs when necessary, climbing up the girders to defeat Donkey Kong and rescue the “fair maiden.” The game was actually a pretty decent conversion from the video game, and a lot of fun to play.

video game board game

Invader (Entex, 1982) As previously mentioned, Entex produced many electronic handheld games, and some based on video game properties such as Defender and Space Invaders. However, the licencing was a bit of an adventure for this California-based company, and in this case, their agreement did not extend to making a board game based on the Space Invaders video game. Their solution? Rename it “Invader” and remove all mention of the game it was based upon!

video game board game

Ms. Pac-Man Game (Milton Bradley, 1982) Although this game is based on the original arcade game and uses its elements, Milton Bradley ensured that the game play is completely different to prevent Ms. Pac-Man from becoming a duplicate of their original 1981 Pac-Man Game. The game board is divided into four quadrants, and players take turns moving the Ms. Pac-Man token attempting collect as many plastic dots as possible from their quadrant. Each player also controls one Ghost token, which he or she can use to intercept and regain control of Ms. Pac-Man. It may not be completely true to the original, but Ms. Pac-Man is still an enjoyable game to play!

video game board game

Pac-Man Card Game (Milton Bradley, 1982) Pac-Man enters the world of educational card games, albeit with very little of the addictive charm that made the franchise so enduring. The mechanic is a bit labored with players attempting to fill lines of three spaces with Pac-Man cards to complete equations and score points.  To enjoy this game you either have to be a complete math or Pac-Man geek. Not much here for anyone else!

video game board game

Turtles (Entex, 1982) This game for 2 to 4 players was based on the Konami arcade game Turtles by Stern, and was another of Entex’s handheld games to board games series.  Just like the arcade game, players needed to rescue little turtles, and whoever rescued the most, won. Important to note that this game has NOTHING to do with any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Possibly the most obscure video-to-board game entry on this list.

video game board game

Zaxxon (Milton Bradley, 1982) Translating the faux three-dimensional Zaxxon video game with its altitude-shifting airships into a two-dimensional board game was a challenge that was met in full by Milton Bradley by using a few standard 3-D tokens in conjunction with ingeniously designed fighter tokens that could be raised or lowered on their stands as needed. Game play was very similar to the original Zaxxon game, but with two to four players attempting to reach and shoot Zaxxon with BOTH their fighters and win the game.

A Footnote
It is important to remember that board games are not video games and neither should be expected to match the other’s total gaming experience.  Video games of this era were all about constant motion, quick reflexes and split-second decision-making.  Board games, however, are about measured decisions, random die rolls or card draws, and ever-changing strategies based on the play of your opponents.  In addition, board games often have suggested ages for players. I have read several reviews over the years from adults who were unable to understand that a game meant for children would have limited appeal to adults (and who scored them based on their own experience of playing them as an adult), or from reviewers who also expected a board game to be a video game.  These kinds of reviews do a tremendous disservice to the board game genre and to those who are searching for more information on one of these classic games.  To those game reviewers – and you know who you are – STOP IT! Let the game be judged on its actual merits, not on standards that it was never intended to fulfill.

Arcade Classics: What happened to them all?

It is easily the most common question I get when I chat with anyone about the classic arcade games of the early 1980s. What happened to them all?

Tron

They remember those days just as I do. Video arcades were commonplace and practically every type of business out there had arcade games in them. I remember seeing a Defender in the window of a flower shop, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga machines at the local Denny’s and entire gamerooms in select 7-Eleven stores. These machines were literally everywhere.

Over time a number of these machines have ended up in homes, mostly as an addition to a rec room or something fun in the corner of the garage. A smaller number of home collectors are deeply dedicated, some with dozens or even hundreds of machines. In recent years, arcades and taverns with classic themes are popping up around the country, giving an extent of new life to a bygone era.

Atari Football

What most casual and even many die-hard classic arcade fans don’t realize is that the vast majority of machines from the early eighties arcade boom are long gone from the planet. While games such as AsteroidsSpace InvadersPac-Man and Donkey Kong set arcade sales records that still stand today, most did not survive.

Today I provide some insight into why. While none of this is going to cover things in depth, it is going to touch on the basic answers to that common question.

The Great Video Game Crash

Atari Pole Position

While it is becoming a hardly known legend to the younger generations of gamers, the entire North American video game industry crashed hard in 1983 and 1984. The arcade market and home console markets crashed for different reasons, with the coin-ops dropped off first. Things slowed in the summer of 1982 and went into a free-fall the next year, due in large part to oversaturation of the marketplace and aging equipment.

By 1984, a great number of arcade operators had gone out of business. Those that survived had significantly smaller operations and routes. The vast majority of arcade machines seen in non-arcade businesses were never owned by those businesses but rather by vendors who installed the machines in those locations for a cut of the revenue.

Operators were stuck with huge inventories of machines nobody wanted to play anymore, and with almost everyone forced to scale back operations, most older machines had no resale value or potential buyers. Everyone had enough Scramble and Galaxian machines gathering dust in a warehouse already.

Joust

So they trashed them.

Many machines were gutted for useful parts such as monitors and coin doors then had their cabinets smashed, burned or taken to a landfill. Others were left to rot in abandoned warehouses, sheds or fields.

This practice actually still continues today. Me and a friend came across an antique store a few years ago that had obtained a few trailers of early eighties machines. Thinking they had no value they left the open trailers outside and smashed up entire machines until they’d filled their dumpsters. By the time we got there, we found pieces of games such as Donkey Kong Junior andCentipede in the trash and the machines still in tact had been rained on so much they were falling apart.

While there are hobbyists who restore classic machines scattered across the country, it is commonplace for them to use several machines to complete one full restoration, trashing the rest.

Conversions, Multicades and MAME

Mame arcade cabinet

Most classic arcade machines that didn’t end up as scrap were converted into newer game titles, and still are today.

The first successful conversion kit game was Mr. Do! in 1983, starting a trend that helped operators survive at least a while longer. For a far lesser price than a full arcade machine, vendors could purchase kits with new electronics, graphics and sometimes wiring which was used to turn that old Qix or Berzerk machine into a brand new game title.

While most arcade manufacturers resisted this trend as long as they could, they were forced to change with the times and start offering kits to operators. Some, such as Nintendo and Atari, began to produce kits designed to specifically convert their older titles.

Pac-Man

 

This trend continued through the middle of the decade but slowed for a time in the late 1980s. A bit of a resurgence in the arcade market came along with the rebirth of the home console industry during this time, and dedicated machines of newer hit titles began to sell once again. Most converted machines were simply converted again to newer titles for street locations.

The next big period of conversion mania came with Street Fighter II in 1991 and 1992. This game earned so much money so quickly that many operators quickly bought kits for every arcade cabinet they had in storage. Years ago I met an operator that literally converted every remaining early 80s machine he had to SFII when it was hot, and remember locations with classic machines such as BurgerTime and Front Line that they converted at this time.

Donkey Kong 3

In recent years the conversion mania has continued in two forms. Over the past decade an influx of overseas knock off boards often dubbed as “Multicades” have made their way into North America. These bootleg boards contain dozens and sometimes hundreds of games. Many arcade machine resellers have gutted surviving classics in favor of converting them into these multi-game machines in the name of making a buck.

Other home collectors have built arcade machines based on the MAME emulation program. While some of these MAME fans have built their arcade rigs from classic cabinets that were already stripped or converted beyond reasonable restoration, others have posted blogs where they show their process of gutting a surviving arcade machine to build it into a computer-based conversion.

Several arcade conversions have appeared on these popular treasure-hunting television programs in recent years, often without the people on the show seemingly aware of it. An episode of Pawn Stars saw someone bring three “Japanese Arcade Games” into the Las Vegas shop, two of which were conversions from Defender machines. The Ms. Pac-Man machine that appeared on an episode of Auction Hunters was actually a conversion of an original Pac-Man machine, a cabinet that is similar but quite different in many ways as well.

Arcade Passports Required

Ms. Pac-Man

Classic-era arcade machines that weren’t trashed, left to rot or converted may not reside in the country at all anymore. Several people in southern states have confirmed to me in the past that they have shipped and sold entire box trucks of older arcade machines to Mexico.

The current world record holder on Taito rarity Zoo Keeper had his machine shipped to his Australia home from the United States.

Preservation is Key

Trojan

At the present time it seems that the number of people who’d rather turn a retro arcade machine into a Multicade or MAME machine far outnumbers those who would rather try to restore them into their former glory. It is a long and often expensive task to do so.

However, these machines are pieces of pop culture and video game industry history. Just as memorabilia from films, television and various sports have seen efforts to save and preserve their history over time, video games are finally starting to see signs of a preservation effort.

The efforts of groups such as Southern California’s Videogame History Museum and New Hampshire’s American Classic Arcade Museum should be noted for being among the first in the country to take serious steps in this direction as well as many individual collectors across the country such as New Jersey’s Richie Knucklez and Cat DeSpira in the Pacific Northwest.

In time, such efforts may turn the question from “What happened to them all?” to “Did you see all that are left?”

Mythbusting six common video game trivia mistakes

Mythbusting six common video game trivia mistakes

Welcome to the return of Know Your History, a feature column that aims to cover proper video game history. Normally, an edition of Know Your History would compare past history to current headlines in an effort to put current topics into proper perspective. This week, however, the aim is to correct a number of video game history facts that I either seen often or have recently run across.

With that said, let us get started with one of the longest running mistakes I’ve seen.

– Pong was NOT the first coin-operated video game.

know your history

A lot of people think and commonly publish that Pong was the first arcade video game. This mistake is incredibly common and with good reason, as I’ve found this mistake printed in video game publications as far back as the late 1970s. While the first successful coin-operated arcade video game, Pongwas not the first, nor was Computer Space, Nolan Bushnell’s first attempt at bringing one to market.

Galaxy Game actually gets the title of being the first coin-operated arcade video game. This space battle game appeared on the campus of Stanford University in 1971, at least two months before Computer Space and almost a full year before Pong.

– The Pac-Man ghosts only have one name each, not two.

know your history

Another long-running mistake is the misconception that the monsters in the original Pac-Man have two names each, such as Character: Shadow, Nickname: Blinky. This is incorrect.

The term of “Character” on these screens is not attempting to list a name but to describe the personality traits of that monster. As top Pac-Man players know, each of the four monsters has a different AI than the others. The “two names” on the title screen are attempting to point that out with one word each, probably losing something in translation.

The original Japanese listings under “Character” paint the picture a little better, with the red ghost described as Oikake (“to pursue”), the pink ghost as Machibuse (“to ambush”), the blue ghost as Kimagure (“moody”) and the orange ghost as Otoboke (“pretending ignorance”).

Compare those “Character” listings to the American versions and they make a little more sense. The character term of “Pokey” (Clyde) is describing him as “a little slow in the head” or something similar.

Make no mistake, the monsters have only one name each: Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.

– Mario was NOT named Jumpman during production of Donkey Kong.

know your history

Another very common error, despite being easy to disprove with a quick Google search. I’ve heard people tell me that “Jumpman” was the name for Mario in the original Donkey Kong arcade game, with some going so far as to tell me he wasn’t even named Mario until Donkey Kong Junior or even the original Mario Bros.

None of this is quite correct. While it is true that Mario’s working name was Jumpman, and that the instructions on the original arcade version do call him that, the name of Mario came along before Nintendo was even pushing Donkey Kong machines out the door. The original advertising flyer, released at the time the game was released, refers to the character as Mario numerous times.

While Jumpman was almost the character’s name at this time, he was referred to as Mario far earlier than most websites claim and throughout all the merchandising released for the game.

– Sega Channel was NOT the first online console gaming.

know your history

Sega might have claimed this at the time of their short-lived online console service, but to do so would mean ignoring GameLine for the Atari 2600 and PlayCable for the Intellivision console, both from the early 1980s.

– Wolfenstein 3D was NOT the first of the first-person shooters.

know your history

Saw this error listed a lot during Wolfenstein 3D‘s recent anniversary. Numerous mainstream media reports called the classic the first-ever first person shooter, a fact that is nowhere near accurate, as there were numerous others that came before it.

The first is often credited to 1974’s Maze War, which is shown in the slideshow for this column.

– Oh, Guinness Book, how could you make this error?

know your history

I like the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition books, and not just because I’m listed in them every year. I enjoy the great cross-section of gaming that is covered inside.

However, the 2012 edition lists a pretty harsh error on page 202, calling WWF WrestleMania for the NES the “first wrestling video game” in the bottom left corner. How this was not fact checked is a huge mystery, as this 1988 title wasn’t even the first pro wrestling game on the Nintendo console, nor was it the first WWF title to market, either, which would be Micro-League Wrestling.

Numerous popular pro wrestling games came out going as far back as 1983, including Tag Team Wrestling, Mat Mania and Mania Challenge in the arcades and Pro Wrestling on the NES. How did this error make the book?

Then again, this isn’t the only error I noted in the book this year. Page 47 attributes a quote and some information about Galaga champion Andrew Laidlaw as coming from “local newspapers” when, in fact, that quote and information was obtained and first written by me, the person who broke the story to the mainstream media. Click here and see for yourself.

These are just a handful of the common video game history errors out there, but some of the most common. Hopefully this article can go a long way toward helping fix these misconceptions.

Donkey Kong

Everyone in the world knows of Donkey Kong, so there’s not much I could say about the game that you don’t already know. Still, that’s not going to stop me from talking about it a bit.

Arcade Cabinet - Donkey Kong
In 1981, Nintendo popped this gem out into arcades everywhere. One of the most popular, highly rated, and often ported/imitated games, but unless you have the drive and determination of Steve Wiebe, or the hair of Billy Mitchell, it’s actually a difficult game. I think in the “King of Kong” documentary, Billy said that most people don’t get past the 1st 4 screens. That’s probably correct. I can’t imagine the amount of quarters I went through, sometimes just trying to get a sniff of the 3rd and 4th levels that I saw others get to as I watched over their shoulders. That changed for me, of course, as I got older and discovered MAME. Still, I don’t necessarily excel at the game, even today.
The concept of the game is ineteresting and silly at the same time.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot
For whatever reason, a huge gorilla is loose. Not sure where he came from; The zoo? Escaped from a secret lab? Jurassic Park?? All I know is that he is here, and he wants nothing but to kidnap a cute girl in a dress. Instead of calling the police or animal control, the local plumber decides to take it upon himself to rescue her. Armed with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, and assumingly zero ninja skills, he finds her at the top of a steel structure. “Donkey Kong”, as he’s called, which I believe translates to “stupid monkey”, has taken a defensive stand at the top of this structure. As the plumber (from now on called Mario) ascends this structure, Kong starts rolling huge kegs of beer towards him, trying to kill him.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

This seems like the work of a genius (not stupid) simian, possibly one of those in the old Flash comic books. For now, Mario can only jump over the barrels. When some of these kegs reach the ground floor, they have been known to catch fire (obviously from the alcohol inside). The odd part is it seems these firey barrels can actually defy the laws of physics and move upwards and EVEN CLIMB LADDERS! Along the way, Mario does find weapons in the form of an ACME oversized mallet. But, he never seems to use these on monkey, but to crush the barrels and put out the fires. When Mario eventually reaches the girl, Kong quickly grabs her and runs off. That’s a hell of a lot of work for no payoff, that’s for sure.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Screen 2 has Kong taking her to a factory that makes giant pies. Not only do you need to avoid these pies, but there’s more fire. Didn’t work the first time, but Kong is not giving up. You will find another mallet in which to put out the fires, as well as smash pies, but again cannot be used against the beast himself. Upon reaching the top, Kong will again escape with the girl, making Mario very heartbroken, Clearly he has fallen in love with the girl.
Then, on screen 3, Kong takes her to another steel structure, this one has a lot of missing parts making Mario do a lot more jumping. Kong just stands guard, beating his chest as you try to avoid the fire and a seemingly infinite amount of giant springs that try to knock you to the ground.

Donkey Kong - Arcade - Gameplay Screenshot

Again, after manuvering through this mad gorilla’s Bondish-like trap, Kong escapes with the girl. This is beginning to smell of BS. I’m not convinced I’ll ever get to rescue her.
Screen 4 is a bit different. A straight-forward steel structure that has 8 “pins” in it. As you walk/jump over these pins, you pull them out. More fire, but this time a blue color, meaning hotter and more aggressive. Again, more mallet-action or avoiding the fire, whatever seems easier. But, as you pull the last pin, the tower of steel collapses, and Donkey Kong falls 100 meters straight on his head. The girl is rescued, and it seems she also loves Mario. All is good!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhFV5-qbbIw[/youtube]

There’s a reason this game is a classic. It looks beautiful, everything runs smoothly, fun as hell, and it’s story of the underdog that defeats the big bully and wins the heart of a girl.

Controls: Arrow keys and space bar.
The game earns a 10/10.

Arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior is turning 30

One of video gaming’s most unlikely heroes is turning 30.

Donkey Kong Junior

Arcade classic Donkey Kong Junior is turning 30

Donkey Kong Junior had some big shoes to fill in 1982 as the sequel to Nintendo‘s first hit game, Donkey Kong. In a unique role-reversal, Mario was now the villain of the story as the son of the original antagonist fought through a maze of jungle vines and moving platforms in an effort to save his father.

According to trademark filings, Donkey Kong Junior first appeared publically on June 30, 1982. The suffix in the title was spelled as “Jr.” in Japan but “Junior” in North America. Later home releases moved toward the shorter version, appearing as “Donkey Kong Jr.” Despite the original longer version of the name the shorter suffix is the most common spelling of the game title worldwide.

Donkey Kong Junior Arcade

“I remember Donkey Kong Junior getting a lot of attention in the arcades,” said Mark Kiehl, the all-time high score champion on the arcade classic. “People were excited about a sequel to Donkey Kong.”

The DKJ arcade unit went on to sell 30,000 machines in North America and see releases on every major home platform of the day. It also saw a great deal of exposure on television as one of the key games in a nationally aired arcade game contest, a breakfast cereal and even a Saturday morning cartoon short as part of the Saturday Supercade series on CBS.

Donkey Kong Junior Mini Arcade

In the later 1980s, Junior was among the list of launch titles for the very successful Nintendo Entertainment System. The game was part of a short-run reissue arcade game from Namco in 2005 included alongside the original game and Mario Bros.

“To this day it’s still a staple game for collectors and retro arcade operators to own,” Kiehl added. “It had a lot of staying power.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1KrrnBJ0Vs[/youtube]

Take a look at the video montage to experience some of the mainstream media love given to young Donkey Kong Junior in the early 1980s and post your thoughts and memories of the classic arcade game below.

Java Based NES Emulator

nes
This post could have been a rant about Nintendo’s censoring policies of yore, focusing for example on the convenient paradigm of Maniac Mansion (for NES, apparently). Of course, it’s not.It’s a simple, albeit glorified, post about a link. A link to a Java-based NES (or Famicom, accordingly) emulator, wisely code-named Andre’s NES Emulator. Visit it and play such classics as Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Punch Out, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mega Man and Castlevania. Each one of them a piece of gaming history. Each one of them quite free and without the need for any downloads.

Oh – it almost slipped my mind – here’s the link. Have fun, but don’t break anything.


Super Donkey Kong 2

 

[youtube id=”qra_rvWOws0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

Super Donkey Kong 2

When it comes to pirate originals you can’t help to wonder how much effort these developers must have put into these games. In some cases, a lot, in others probably not much and in certain ones, a very lazy attempt to resell Mario, (Mario hacks) Nothing! You do have to give the creators of this game a lot of credit. They may not have done a great job but the attempt is there, it just seems that it was too much but it would have been a lot better if they weren’t rushed. I’m sure that’s what they are thinking right now, yeah that’s what they are thinking as they are sitting in their desks at Nintendo of Japan headquarters….well maybe, but this game delivers with the little material it brings. This game delivers a very painful gaming experience but you can’t help wonder the possibilities this game could have had. You do have to put aside the fact that this is a pirate original, I mean just think about it. How many people were appointed to create this game, it might have been four or maybe just one. You have to think of the budget and deadline! That’s one of the reasons I appreciate this game.

Super Donkey Kong 2 - Pirated Games - Gameplay Screenshot

The game looks really good for the perished 8-bit console and the gameplay is on the so-so factor. The controls are sluggish but with enough practice and precision (And no whining) You can get through the game with ease. The music mimics the SNES counter part but too much of it can hurt your ears and make you go deaf especially with those annoying rat sounds that sound more like beeps than a rat at all. The game consists of three levels in total which is quite short and the third one ends up being very difficult so beware you whiners.

Super Donkey Kong 2 - Pirated Games - Gameplay Screenshot

You play as Diddy Kong in the ship level but at the third and final level you’ll be the snake mutation of Diddy Kong. This one really creeps me out but being serious and all, it’s just the jumping snake you turn into in the game(Not sure what happened to riding the damn animals). The game does show signs of being incomplete especially since you can collect coins for the shop which you will never reach as the game only has three levels. You can also collect the 1-up balloons as well as the bananas. If you get hit once, you are a dead monkey so make sure you know the controls real well.

There is not much left to tell about such a short game. This game is available as a single pirate cart and even comes in multi-carts (I should know as I have it in my clone). For those of you not wanting to spend the average price of 15 dollars for the game, well guess what? Like in other entries you will have the rom to download here.

Site of Last Starfighter, birthplaces of Mario and Lode Runner added to registry

Three new additions have been made to the Registry of Historic Gaming Locations, a project aimed at preserving the stories of locations that have historical importance to video gaming.

The Last Starfighter

The project, which started last summer, now lists a total of 26 locations with plans to add more on a monthly basis.

The newest crop of inductions include:

– Rio Cafe & Grocery in Santa Clarita, CA – The food store where the hotshot gamer in 1984 film The Last Starfighter strutted his stuff.

– Early Nintendo Warehouse in Seattle, WA – The site where the struggling Nintendo of America built the Donkey Kong machines that saved them from bankruptcy in 1981.  This is also the warehouse owned by Mario Segale, the man rumored to be the inspiration behind the naming of Nintendo’s iconic mascot.

– Former Broderbund Software HQ in San Rafael, CA – The place that brought Lode Runner, Choplifter, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Prince of Persia to life.

Some of the other 23 locations previously inducted include competitive gaming birthplace Ottumwa, IA, the original testing locations of classics such as Donkey Kong and Defender, arcade locations featured in films such as Tron, The Karate Kid and WarGames, former headquarters locations of companies such as Atari and Bally Midway and the famous landfill that saw millions of unsold Atari game cartridges dumped in 1984.

In a short time the Registry of Historic Gaming Locations has received press coverage across the world, including recent stories in Japan and Brazil.

The full Registry list, including the newest three entries, can be found at PatrickScottPatterson.com.

 

A look back at the Coleco Mini-Arcades

Coleco Mini-Arcades - Frogger

Long before the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PSVita were even thought possible and even before Nintendo made theGameBoy a household name a company named Coleco echoed through the ears of video gamers who wanted to take gaming everywhere they wanted to go.

Coleco Mini-Arcades - Donkey Kong

The early 80’s video game boom saw gaming literally appear everywhere.  Arcade games appeared in every type of public business you could think of while consoles that hooked up to home television sets brought blocky gaming experiences home.

Coleco Mini-Arcades - Galaxian

Capitalizing on this trend combined with the popularity of handheld electronic games such as Mattel’s Football, Coleco began licensing and producing small “tabletop” video games based on some of the most popular games of the day.

Coleco Mini-Arcades - Zaxxon

Despite Atari holding the licenses for home console versions of Pac-Man and Galaxian, Coleco was able to get the rights to produce the Mini-Arcade versions, both of which became top sellers.  A literal parade of hits followed with the addition of FroggerDonkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man.  A version of Nintendo’s Game and Watch Donkey Kong Junior and a version of Zaxxon rounded out the Coleco line before the mid-80’s industry crash.

Coleco Mini-Arcades - Pac-Man

Rather than make traditional handheld games the Coleco Mini-Arcade games attempted to duplicate the look of the arcade hits right down to the cabinet artwork.  A series of commercials featuring a character named “Mr. Arcade” shrinking full size arcade games down into the Mini-Arcade games drove the point home.  The result was a fun arcade feel that didn’t exist in any home console versions of arcade hits at the time.

Coleco Mini-Arcades - Donkey Kong Jr

The Coleco games are popular collector’s items today.  Some of the later releases saw smaller production numbers and even the more popular releases are difficult to find in good condition after being played to death in their heyday.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKDFoDvs898[/youtube]

Take a look at the slideshow and video to the left to see more about the Coleco Mini-Arcades as either a trip down memory lane or, for younger gamers, a good gaming history lesson.

Patrick Scott Patterson has been a gamer since 1981, acting as a writer, technician and world record holder on several game titles. He has appeared numerous times in the yearly editions of Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to writing here, Patterson has also written for Yahoo!, Twin Galaxies, VGEVO and Gameroom Magazine, and is always looking for unique and positive news to report from the video gaming world.

Mario’s Changing Style

Mario KartIf you were lucky enough to have been born in the late 70s or the 80s, chances are you were hit with the video game bug that was gathering up kids by their thousands in arcades and homes across the world. These video games brought with them a host of new characters who would soon become household names: Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and, of course, Mario. The star of the Mario platform video game series and the hugely popular racing series Mario Kart, Mario, is everyone’s favorite stout little Italian-American plumber, but he’s done a lot of changing over the years to get where he is today.

Created by Shigeru Miyamoto whilst he was in the midst of developing the arcade favorite Donkey Kong, Mario was originally known to the designer as Mr Video and Miyamoto had plans to integrate him into every video game he developed. The character picked up his famous name from the warehouse landlord for Nintendo of America, Mario Segale. Segale had been chasing then-president Minoru Arakawa for back rent and as a way of appeasing him they opted to rename Mr Video in Mario Segale’s honor.

Mario’s distinctive look is a product of happenstance more than design. Back in 1981 when he was still Mr Video, Mario was visualized as a carpenter due to the game taking place on a construction site and gave him a large nose as this made his character design more recognizable as a silhouette. When he appeared again in Mario Bros. in 1983, the setting of the game transformed him into a plumber and this, along with his nose, inspired Miyamoto to give Mario roots in New York. The instantly recognizable red overalls, blue shirt and cap all came about due to design issues owing to the limitations of arcade hardware: Mario’s clothing was designed to make him stand-out and contrast against the background, while his cap and mustache were added to get around the problem of having to animate hair, eyebrows and facial expressions.

After his turn on the arcade machines, Mario finally make his first fleshed out, 3D appearance in 1996’s Super Mario 64. From here Mario’s appearance continued to develop and he was given a white and red “M” emblem on his hat, as well as white gloves, and his costume colors reversed to give him blue overalls with a red shirt. This would be Mario’s final form and the one he has gone on to sport ever since.

The rest, as they say, is history and this feisty little plumber has been making that history ever since
his introduction 30 years ago. He may be one of the oldest venerable video game characters around, but he’s still one of its brightest stars.

James Booth: Distorted Poetry

Distorted Poetry

Name: James Booth

Company: Distorted Poetry

Title: Creative Director

Favorite Classic Game: Donkey Kong G&W

Donkey Kong Game Watch

Quote on why it is your favorite: At my grandparents there was never anything cool there, except for this game. Fortunately this game was all I needed. A classic example of addictive gameplay with the most simple of mechanics. Still playable today and truthfully I prefer this version over the arcade version.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6cPfanPyKk[/youtube]

Are video games finally being accepted by the mainstream?

Jimmy Fallon - Batman Arkham City

Any longtime gamer knows of that gut wrenching feeling that comes along when a mainstream media or entertainment source does a video game story.  From news stories that claim violent video games are kid’s toys to Jay Leno jokes that paint gamers as basement dwellers and virgins, it often seems that the industry stats aren’t known by much of what passes as news and entertainment these days.

The facts are hard to deny, however.  The Entertainment Software Association statistics show the average age of a video gamer in 2010 was 37 years of age with 72 percent of American households accepting gaming as a regular form of entertainment.  All said, the US spent $25.1 billion on video gaming last year alone, nearly two-and-a-half times more than they spent at the movies over the same time period.

While there have still been plenty of head shakers in the mainstream this year, overall 2011 has shown many signs that video gaming is finally gaining acceptance as the mainstream form of entertainment it is.

 The release of Batman: Arkham City made the monologue on Conan last week with a parody clip similar to what is typically done with major new films and political figures.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj9BN3WLHLg[/youtube]

 A lengthy television commercial for Google features gamer Brian Kingrey, the winner of the $1 Million contest onMLB2K11.  The clip shows how Kingrey studied and prepared for the contest by doing research on the search engine and speaks to several of his friends.  He also appears briefly in a shorter Google commercial.  Both ads debuted during NFL football games on Sunday.

 NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon regularly features previews of hot new gaming releases and guests from within the industry.  Shortly after the 2011 E3 Expo the show even featured an entire week dedicated to gaming, complete with special opening credits.

 Former Donkey Kong champion Steve Wiebe makes a short cameo as a security guard in hit film Horrible Bosses.  Reportedly, Colin Farrell’s character of Bobby Pellitt was inspired by another former Donkey Kong champ in Billy Mitchell.

 Members of the US Congress and reps from the video gaming industry formed the Caucus for Competitiveness in Entertainment Technology (E-Tech Caucus) to help continue to foster growth in the video game industry due to its impact on the economy and job market.

 The characters from Angry Birds appear in an ad for Wonderful Pistachios alongside numerous celebrities and pop culture icons.  Costumes from the game are among the most popular Halloween costumes this year as well.

Some 40 years after the release of the video game to mainstream consumers and revenue that trumps the previous kings of the entertainment industry, it appears that gaming is finally taking a seat alongside television, film and music as an accepted form of mainstream entertainment.

 

Classic Arcade Game Show Returns With Online Play

StarcadeWhile competition on the classic arcade games of yesterday has seen its fair share of public attention over the past few years, events such as the upcoming Kong-Off in New Jersey will only be another in a long line of head-to-head gameplay.

One such example is Starcade, a game show created during the original 1980s heyday of the video arcade.

Created by JM Production Company, Starcade debuted in 1982 on WTBS and featured gamers of all ages facing off in both question and game play rounds.   The original run of the show ended in 1984 and reruns of the show ran on G4tv from 2002 to 2004.

In the show, contestants would face off first in a question round.   Whoever got the question right would get to choose from the games selected for that episode to play against their opponent for a timed high score.

From now-historcial classics such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Dig Dug to lesser known titles that exist in the present day as the rarest of collectibles, such as Major Havoc, Mazer Blazer and others, Starcade featured over 130 different arcade game titles of the day across it’s 139 different episodes.

Donkey Kong, the topic of much discussion these days, was also among the many games played on the show beginning with the 1981 pilot episode.  In the pilot, ChiPs star Larry Wilcox took on and beat the winning gamer from that episode by 300 points in what was the first look at the now-classic game that put Nintendo on the map.

Now, JMPC is set to introduce myStarcade, a virtual online version of the game show.   Using the actual head-to-head matchups and games from the original series, myStarcade will act as both a fun trip down memory lane and a history lesson from the “Golden Age” of the video arcade game.

Players will be able to create profiles and battle for the top ranking on the myStarcade game by competing in other games that appeared in the original show, including the Name the Game Board, where players must quickly identify a screenshot a now-arcade classic.

Virtual prizes given to actual contestants of the original series, including home computers from the era and even a portable record player, can also be won in the online games.

The myStarcade game is currently in testing phase and is set for a launch within the next four to six weeks on the official Starcade website.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt0ObijBvL4[/youtube]

For more information and to watch full episodes of the classic series, visit www.Starcade.tv.

You can view Scott’s website here.

Donkey Kong 3

Donkey Kong 3 - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

Donkey Kong 3

This is probably not the best of the three but it still deserves a mention. You can think of this game as the Super Mario Bros 2 of the trio as it’s the odd one of the group. Of course, Donkey Kong jr had Mario as the villain which was already odd enough but this one had a totally different hero. I remember when I was young I used to think this little guy was Mario when he was younger battling against the big ape. I also though that before Mario turned into a plumber, he used to kill bugs. Of course now we know the truth but enough about that, lets get to the game.

Donkey Kong 3 - NES - Gameplay Screenshot

The game is as simple as any of the arcade games back in the 80s. Your main goal is not to finish the game but to accumulate the highest score. Your skills will be crucial to score big in this one. The usual mechanics of the game work as other arcade classics, which means the further levels you go, the harder the levels get. You will eventually have no room for error as you try to dodge and kill the hundreds of bugs coming after you. That’s not all, you also have to worry about the big ape climbing down and once he does, you are toast! But wait! It’s not over just yet, you also have to prevent the bugs from taking away your plants! If you want to score big, you gotta defend your pot.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWdtYW5U9DI[/youtube]

You will have fun with this game for sure. There is not much too explore but there is sure a lot of replay value as you can always challenge friends or yourself to beat the score and become the king of Donkey Kong 3. Be sure to practice practice practice after all, it’s a NES game and back in those days you really needed to have mad skills to be a respectable player. Games nowadays, well they are more entertaining than challenging. That’s all for this week, take it easy!

Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country - SNES Box
There is a lot to say about this title. Not only did it gave me orgasms back in 1994, but it changed the way I looked at monkeys. According to this game, monkeys kick ass! They sure did when they released this masterpiece called Donkey Kong Country for the SNES. With the enhanced chip it came with the graphics got a big boost to the 32bit level. If you have played the game you will probably wet your pants as you see how beautiful it looks. Then again, with consoles nowadays there is no comparison but back then it was the game to play. If you haven’t played this game then stop reading this and go play it so that you can at least get a feel for it.

Donkey Kong Country Gameplay Screenshot
The game is quite simple. Games don’t need to be complicated to be good you know. There have been games that are just way too complicated which in the end, bores us to death. This is your typical platformer game where you jump, throw, and even hit the floor in order to destroy your enemies. In this game, you play as the almighty Donkey Kong and his sidekick Diddy Kong. Now, I’m not sure what their relation is but it feels that Donkey Kong is taking part of a big brother program and therefore is stuck with the Diddy. Either way, the work as a great time and it shows as from experience, these two work the best from the other two duos in later games.

Donkey Kong Country Gameplay Screenshot
Your main goal in the game is to recover your stolen bananas and you better do it quickly because bananas tend to rot if you don’t eat them in the coming days which makes me wonder why would he go after bananas that might be rotten by the time he gets to them. Poor Donkey Kong, he is sure in a very tight situation. Nevertheless, you go around the “country” and defeat each boss to recover your bananas. How dare they steal your food for the hibernation period!

Donkey Kong Country Gameplay Screenshot

The levels are very well done and takes advantage of your monkey’s abilities. There are secrets around every corner which should keep you busy especially if you want to discover them all. Now that will give you something to do for the whole summer. You also won’t have trouble listening to the game as the music is beautiful and very nature-like.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuZO4qCLY4o[/youtube]
Be sure to practice your monkeys a lot because you’ll be going through some tougher levels later in the game. The game becomes moderately harder but not hard enough for you to say fuck this! I’m out!

Donkey Kong

Donkey KongDonkey Kong

Donkey Kong PAL is quite unique in a very specific way. The game contains a level never before seen in the other releases. Not even the arcade version had it so it’s quite a thrill to be able to play it. Of course, with this game as many of you might already know, will get the original three levels. The game plays the same as the original so it keeps the same great gameplay as well. Lets get to the new level alright?

Donkey Kong
The new level brings some never before seen obstacles to the game. The floor on the second floor moves to either left or right and make it very hard for you to move around. It’s best to use your jump technique to get to the closest ladder and move up. As you can see, the fireballs are there to fry your ass and the oil barrel is up there creating havoc for Mario. The level overall is not as challenging as you would think, it’s the second level in the game after all. As soon as you reach the top level Donkey Kong will take the sexy girl up once more.

Donkey Kong
As usual, the ending is the same as the other versions so it’s all good as I never expected a different ending since there is only an added level to the game. This new added made me think though what if they would have added around twenty levels to the game. The development team would have been wise to at least add something more to the game but then again these were times where you would try to get the highest score you could so getting familiarized with the levels would have been a lot more difficult with more of them altogether. It was all about how much and bad you scored!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr-6j87tqcQ[/youtube]

Fallen Earth Q&A

Fallen Earth logo

Fallen Earth Q&A

Tired of swords and sorcery, of level and faction grinds, of dragons and dungeons, well welcome to the apocalypse. Fallen earth combines the depth of a role-playing game with the action of a first-person shooter all set against a post-apocalyptic earth in the year 2156. This online game brings you all the things you like about MMO’s like player advancement, gear and weapons, crafting and clans and kept out the things people hate like grinding for gear and long boring raids.

Recently Fallen Earth released their state of the game address discussing such issues as PVP, new contact and end game raids. Obsolete Gamer had a chance to talk with Marie Croall, Senior Game Designer on Fallen Earth about the game and the coming changes.

Let’s begin with the basics for those who may not be familiar with Fallen Earth. The game is a hybrid of First Person Shooters and Role Playing Games, can you tell us about this combined dynamic?

 

Marie Croall: All of our weapons use a reticle that you need to have on your target in order to hit them, once you hit them we resolve damage based on stats, skills and resists.

 

 

So in a nutshell, the Shiva virus began to spread across the world and nuclear war broke out leaving a wasteland, sounds like the perfect setting for a story. Can you tell us about the world players will find themselves in?

 

Marie Croall: Fallen Earth takes place 150 years in the future; humanity has just gotten to the point where they are starting to rebuild when clones (players) start showing up. To some, the clones are the solution to all their problems, but to others the clones represent something to be feared or worse – exploited.

 

There are factions the players can join, each one showing how different mindsets handle the fall of civilization: There are the CHOTA—wasteland barbarians dedicated to returning to the “old ways,”  Enforcers—descendants of military and police forces trying to keep up  traditions, Techs—scientists, scholars and engineers, Lightbearers – spiritual healers trying to calm the warring world, Travelers—racketeers and con men out for their own profit and the Vista—guerilla warriors bent on stopping the exploitation of  the healing Earth.

 

Each faction has its own allies and enemies, but there is no guarantee that any member will be friendly. Clones have to watch their backs pretty closely in FE.

 

 

Now some fans liken the world to Fallout. We know post-apocalyptic lands are not owned by any one game, but were there any influences on Fallen Earth from Fallout or other post-apocalyptic games?

 

Marie Croall: We’re all huge fans of the Fallout games, but most of our inspiration came from post-apoc and dystopian books and films.  It’s a genre we’re all very much into and favorites range from “A Boy and His Dog” and “Road Warrior” to “Six String Samurai.”  We’re also pretty addicted to the Post-apoc shows on the History and Discovery channels.  “Life After People” and “The Colony” are two of the more entertaining ones.

 

 

 

Can you give us a breakdown of customization and progression in Fallen Earth?

 

Marie Croall: We are a classless system. As the player gains experience they gain AP which they can put into any of the attributes or skills.  At level 15, players can select a faction, start participating in Conflict towns and begin to develop mutation lines if they choose.

We have a fairly extensive crafting system—about 95% of items are crafted. Scavenging and exploration are large parts of the world and the player experience.

 

Now the world is open and as far as PVP, there are arenas or you can flag yourself PVP and fight other flagged players, is that correct?

 

Marie Croall: There are actually three different ways you can participate in PvP. You can flag yourself for world PVP at all times, you can enter Blood Sports or you can enter an open PvP zone out in the world.  The open world PvP zones are usually found with conflict towns (settlements players can fight to control for their faction), or Faction Control Points. Taking a town generates merchants and questors specific to the controlling faction, gaining control of the Faction Control Points gives a buff to faction members.

 

What would you say is the learning curve to play Fallen Earth; do you have to be a MMO or FPS pro?

 

Marie Croall: There is a bit of a learning curve, but we’ve worked very hard to make sure that the game is challenging rather than frustrating.  Our player base has MMO players, FPS players and those who are new to both genres.

 

Fallen Earth - Gameplay Screenshot

Can you tell us a little about Terminal Woods?

 

Marie Croall: Terminal Woods is a bit of a bridge between Kaibab and Alpha County. It’s got quite a bit of mission content and introduces players to the Scavenger Bosses—group encounters that players will be able to craft a lure for the Boss. Rewards from the bosses can be used to upgrade existing gear.

Can you give us a hint about some of the long-term projects you plan to add in Alpha County?

 

Marie Croall: We’ve got quite a few new features coming. Progress Towns, settlements that players can build and defend, World Events and a crafting augmentation system are some of the new features we will be adding.  We will also be expanding our skills set with two new skill lines for players to add to their builds.

How important has feedback from the community been to the Fallen Earth team?

 

Marie Croall: We work very hard at reaching out to our players, getting their feedback and incorporating it in a way that works for our design and for the benefit of the community as a whole.

 

Can you tell us about Blood Sports and the changes you are working on?

 

Marie Croall: The changes we are implementing for Blood Sports revolve around fixing stability and team creation bugs.

 

About raid content, in your state of the game address you talked about not wanting the have people grind raid instances for gear, what would be a raid style that you feel would fit with Fallen Earth?

Marie Croall: Although we want to maintain the strategic element to battles. we will be focusing on smaller team size  and goals that fit well with the existing Fallen Earth systems.  It’s important to provide compelling motivation.

 

Can you give us a bit more info on the large-scale instance you are working on to be release post Alpha County?

 

Marie Croall: I can show you some concept art, but further info gets a bit spoiler-y.

 

What are some of the classic games the Fallen Earth team likes to play?

 

Marie Croall: While not all of these may be classics in a traditional sense, our list includes: D&DDonkey Kong,  Final Fantasy Tactics,  Super Mario, Madden Football, Russian roulette, Planescape: Torment, Ultima games, Diablo, not to mention board game nights that include Dominion, Carcassone, Infinite City, Dungeon Lords, Cash & Guns, Civilization, and Castle Ravenloft.

There you have it. If you are looking for a new experience in the MMO world then Fallen Earth is right up your alley. You can pick up Fallen Earth using their Online Download for about twenty bucks. The subscription fee for Fallen Earth is $14.99 monthly.

Check out our Gamer Profiles on some of the Fallen Earth team members:

Jessica Harper

Marie Croall

 

 

King of Kong Movie Review

King of Kong Movie Review by Honorabili

“A modern day video game version of the story David and Goliath.”

Steve Wiebe at the arcade
Steve Wiebe at the arcade

This movie is about people who strive to be the world champions at the games they love the most. In this case we are talking about classic arcade games such as Donkey Kong, Pacman, Ms. Pacman, Galaga, and Defender.

Throughout most of the movie, we see this build up of rivalry between Steve Wiebe, the underdog, and Billy Mitchell, the top champion for many arcade games. Billy Mitchell comes off as an arrogant person but after having seen this movie many times I do see the point behind some of his speeches. For example, he says that you will know in World War I aviation who the Red Baron is because he was the top ace fighter pilot but you probably won’t know the name of the other aviators because they weren’t number one.

The movie has many famous arcade top players and influential people such as:

Steve Sanders, Billy’s friend and the author of Master’s Guide to Donkey Kong
Walter Day, top referee for video game world records and founder of Twin Galaxies
Brian Kuh, a Donkey Kong expert, was the number 2 DK player for years
Robert Mruczek, head referee at Twin Galaxies
Greg Bond, the MAPPY world champion
Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt, the Missile Command champion and a controversial player
Mark Alpiger, Crystal Castles (foot category) champion

Billy Mitchell
Billy Mitchell

The movie touches on what it takes to be a champion. Not only that but it explains that these old arcade games require a level of dedication and reaction that is no longer found typically in modern video games. Getting higher and higher scores in these classics is a real achievement that requires true skill building and mastery.

King of Kong shows world class competitive gaming since its roots in the 80s. It shows that people lie about their achievements and that when that lie won’t protect you when it’s time to compete against a real champion that does get a real high score at an official competition. In this case I’m referring to the competition between Billy Mitchell and Steve Sanders, where Billy Mitchell humbled Steve.

The competition shown reminds me a lot of the kind of drama and competition behind world class chess games. Bobby Fischer and some others always come to mind.

Pacman Kill Screen
Pacman Kill Screen

We see Billy Mitchell succeed in his gaming, personal, and business life. He owns a chain of restaurants and sells Rickey’s, a very successful hot sauce as well. In 1999, he played a perfect game of Pacman reaching the kill screen, the point where the game crashes because it runs out of memory. He even says that he feels as though all this good fortune happens to him there’s probably some poor bastard out there with the reverse fortune.

The movie presents us with Steve Wiebe who at the time got inspired to go for the Donkey Kong world record, was unemployed, and looking for something to do with his life. His family and friends talk about him saying that he was never the best at anything but he always tried and failed. He played sports and music and drew but they say he never did anything successful with those talents. Steve Wiebe is a good guy that’s a teacher and a family man. He’s the average Joe.

The experts talk about Donkey Kong and picture it as pretty much the most brutal arcade game ever. Billy Mitchell himself says that the typical Donkey Kong game lasts less than a minute.

Walter Day at Funspot
Walter Day at Funspot

We are presented with Twin Galaxies, the international score keeper organization for video games for the world. They were created by Walter Day and started out as him going around to different video arcades and eventually opening up his own arcade. Twin Galaxies has grown into the official record keeper for video games according to the Guiness World Book of Records. In the movie, we see the meticulous review process that these gaming world record referees go through. They must analyze every second of every footage submitted either through VHS or DVD usually, unless it’s a record that is taking place live at a tournament.

Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt
Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt

The conflict in the movie starts when Steve Wiebe beats Billy’s high score for Donkey Kong and the Twin Galaxy people discredit the achievement by going to Steve’s house when he wasn’t there and inspecting the insides of Steve’s DK arcade console. Since Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt had sent Steve the motherboard for his DK machine, they said it was not authentic and disqualified the high scores. There’s bad blood between Mr. Awesome and Twin Galaxies with Mr. Awesome saying that they approved a bunch of scores which weren’t valid and TG saying that Mr. Awesome is a liar.

Since Steve’s high score was discredited, he decided to travel to Funspot, one of the top classic arcade tournament locations in the world, where Twin Galaxies would see him perform live. Steve calls Billy to challenge him to go to Funspot to compete live against him.

Billy Mitchell and Doris Self
Billy Mitchell and Doris Self

Now although the movie paints Billy to be an arrogant villain, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Sure, he might be arrogant but that doesn’t mean he’s evil. We see him donate a Q*bert machine to Doris Self, an old lady that wants to enter the tournament. I don’t agree with all of Billy’s actions through the film but if you follow up on what happened with Steve and Billy after the film, the story gets much more interesting.

When Steve goes to compete and Funspot, he’s met with people that treat him well like Walter Day but also he’s met with people that are spies and asskissers to Billy like Brian Kuh, the former 2nd place record holder for Donkey Kong. Kuh even hangs out behind Steve, watching him play, which adds stress to Steve as he tries to attempt a live world record on the machine. Billy doesn’t go to the tournament but he has Doris Self deliver a video tape with a new high score that Billy shot for “fun” to further try to discredit Steve’s attempt. Doris even says that Billy is a pretty devious person as towards his strategies of attacking his competitors. Steve actually beats Billy’s score live at the event and even triggers the kill screen for the game, which crashes the game. It was the first time ever that the kill screen was triggered at Funspot. As the machine was going to reach the kill screen everybody at Funspot was standing in awe around Steve Wiebe as he earned the high score and the achievement. However, Billy submitted a video taped game with a higher score, around a million points, undermining Steve’s attempt. “Not even Helen of Troy had that much attention,” Billy says regarding people watching the video of his achievement. I thought it was an underhanded thing for him to do, sending in a video rather than show up in person to compete against Steve like a real warrior. When Steve wants to see the tape, they refused to show it to him which was a dickish move from Brian Kuh.

Robert Mruczek
Robert Mruczek

What’s kind of fucked up for me, according to what the movie shows, is that although they discredited Steve’s original video tape after they spent much time dissecting it, they pretty much immediately accept Billy’s tape as a legitimate submissions although he sent in a copy of a tape and it wasn’t really a good copy. The copy had VHS lines and the tape skips during some moments, something that according to what Robert Mruczek says earlier, is not allowed for a video submission. You see Steve’s face full of pride for getting the high score and the next day his face is filled with disappointment as Billy even from Florida steals his moment remotely from the comfort of his home. This part of the movie ends with a heartbroken Steve Wieve crying as his attempt and achievement is undermined yet again.

The movie shows Walter Day playing his guitar and that was kind of neat to see him at his home doing an everyday normal thing. He’s been running Twin Galaxies for a long time and although he should be retired from it he continues to do it for the benefit of his friends and colleagues.

Sad Steve Wiebe
Sad Steve Wiebe

9 months later, Steve starts to train to compete live again because Twin Galaxies let him know that the Guiness Book of World Records will hold a new tournament. It’s funny to hear one of Steve’s kids quote Billy Mitchell, “Work is for people who can’t play video games.” The way the movie is made obviously favors Steve and it’s kind of one sided in that way, with Steve calling and leaving Billy messages (since Billy doesn’t pick up from what the movie showed) but I thought Billy could have done a better job trying to defend his honor. I felt like Steve had everybody against him, even his family from the things they said to him like his girl saying that some people ruin their lives to break records.

Billy Mitchell with Steve Sanders
Billy Mitchell with Steve Sanders

So Steve Wiebe goes down to Hollywood, FL for the tournament, which is Billy’s hometown and expects to compete against him but Billy never does. Steve Sanders, which is one of Billy’s close friends even goes to the competition and he’s enough of a good sport and decent that he introduces himself to Steve Wiebe and his family. I thought that was a noble thing for him to do. He was even talking to him and praising him and his efforts and this is a guy that wrote a world famous strategy guide on the game. What’s kind of disappointing is that Steve Wiebe isn’t as well off as Billy yet Billy won’t compete against him even in his hometown. That seemed like a really cowardly thing for him to do. Wiebe even goes to Billy’s restaurant but Billy refused to talk or see him.

Mitchell ignoring Wiebe
Mitchell ignoring Wiebe

Billy does eventually show up to the tournament but he walks in and ignores Wiebe. Steve Wiebe says hello to him and Billy passes by and says “There’s certain people I don’t want to spend too much time with” which is kind of like a slap to the face. I wished he would have been a better sport and although yeah you can say the movie favors Wiebe’s view, even this should have been obvious to Billy that he was making a mistake reacting like that, especially when he knew he was being filmed. Billy says that if you don’t compete when the pressure is on that you’re not good enough but he refused to do that during this movie. He painted himself as a hypocrite by saying that and then not following his own words.

Steve Sanders thinking 'are you serious?'
Steve Sanders thinking ‘are you serious?’

I was particularly proud of Walter Day and Steve Sanders for the way they treated Steve Wiebe and recognized his struggle and true merit. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Sanders is sitting next to Billy and Sanders says he believes Wiebe is trying to do the right thing and then Billy says that he’s not familiar enough with the situation and they’re just sitting there with Sanders looking like “are you seriously going to be like that?” Walter Day apologized to Steve Wiebe for the way that Twin Galaxies had treated him and they made peace finally.

Although the film is now outdated because the rivalry continued, you can always check up on the Steve Wiebe vs Billy Mitchell rivalry at Twin Galaxies.

To view the latest scoreboard for Donkey Kong, click here. When I wrote this article Steve Wiebe was the current world record holder for Donkey Kong. You can view the high scores for Donkey Kong Jr. here.

***

Steve Wiebe cheers
Steve Wiebe cheers

Overall, the movie I thought was shot with good taste and it was put together in an exciting way that keeps you glued to the screen. Even people I know that don’t care too much for video games thought it was an amazing movie and were glad to have seen it.

I recommend anyone who has an interest in video games to watch the movie.

You can visit Steve Wiebe’s website here.

You can read up more on Billy Mitchell at his wikipedia page here.

In conclusion, Steve Wiebe’s struggle is an inspirational story to all of us.

The Gift of Giving

giving a gift box
giving a gift box

The Gift of Giving

Something about Christmas brings out the good in all of us, encouraging us to help others that are less fortunate than others.  Sometimes, we are the ones that receive the help.

This year, ObsoleteGamer.comEOGamer.comGirlgamer.netHard4Games.comUOForums.com, and UOHomeDecor.com are reaching out to you to give to a family in need.

Imagine loosing everything you had in a fire.  Imagine the Christmas tree, presents, keepsakes, mementos, clothes, gone a  little more than a week before Christmas.  Your five member family made it out of the home with their lives and only the clothes on their back.  This is what happened to the Conley Family of Flint, Mich., this past weekend.

Their 4-year-old son, Rylee, lost his Nintendo 64 and Donkey Kong game in the fire, a game he absolutely loved playing with his family.

The Conley children, Riley, age 4, center
The Conley children, Riley, age 4, center

Seeing as it’s Christmas, all of us at the above mentioned sites want to reach out and help this family and provide them with a gift for their son.  So our sites have teamed up in an effort to reach out to our readers during Christmas time to acquire the following items for the family before Christmas:

  • Limited Edition Wii (The 25th Edition Red One)
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii
  • 3 Wiimote + Chuk bundles
  • Wii Charge Station Quad

Our goal: To raise at minimum $500 before Dec. 22 to purchase and deliver these items before Christmas to this family.

To make a donation towards the purchase of these items, please click here.

Conley family photo
Conley family photo

Once the purchases have been made, I will scan copies of the receipts as well as take pictures of the boxes etc. being shipped to the family.  I will also be trying to contact a local group up there to perhaps have them deliver it and get pictures to show the family receiving it.

Personally, I’d like to raise up to $1,000 so the family can have the gifts and extra cash in this time of need.

Donations for this Christmas gift are being made to my Paypal account.  I have been a verified Paypal User for many years.  In addition, I also have a Paypal Debit card, which will allow me to easily access and purchase the items without any transfer delays.  My past history with donations for causes is well known.  If anyone questions my integrity, please feel free to follow up with the Sara Routh family who received the money donation to bring Sara home for the Big Bang event this summer.  You can see this here for more info.

Other Donations are being sought and accepted as well.  If you do not want to donate through us, you can read the following and donate directly to the family.  Below is a request from a family member for the Conley Family:

Please HELP! My aunt’s house burned down today! They lost everything in a fire!!

Sizes: boys 4t or 5t, women XL top, 14 pants, womens size 5 & 2, & mens Pants: 28-30 Shirt: small/medium. Please send donations to:
Laurie and Ryan Conley
c/o Don Sorensen
3354 Lynne Ave.
Flint, MI 48506.

Thank you!!!

Please help this family to have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year despite this tragedy.

Games to Buy: Console Edition: Nov 21 2010

video games store
video games store

A new name and a new way of doing our weekly report on games coming out the following week. With so many games out there the fact is some will be worth the cash and some will not be. Beyond that some games may be worth picking over the others and so we have come up with a dollar sign rating system. One $ means it can wait until it’s in the bargain bin and five $’s means you should be waiting in line to purchase it.

This week we have a good mix of new games and classic games being released, in fact pretty much every game is either a follow up of the old or a remake of an old game. This is just more proof of how important classic games are. So sit back enjoy the trailers and commentary and get your wallet warmed up.

Gran Turismo 5

With over 1000 cars and 71 courses to choose from Gran Turismo 5 is a racers wet dream. Sure, there has been a ton of delays for this game but with the way it looks now it seems to be worth the wait. Of course you will be able to race basic cars from Honda and Ford, but you will also be able to get behind the big boys like the Lamborghini Murcielago and McLaren F1. A ton of brand new tracks have been added including the Top Gear test track and many more tracks offering night driving and the new dynamic weather system. All in all if you are a racing fan or just a car aficionado and have a PS3 then you have to pick up this game.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$

Donkey Kong Country Returns

I have to bow to the Wii on this one because I loved the original DKC and this version looks incredible. Donkey and Diddy are back and you have never seen two apes go through so much for some bananas. The game is as massive as it is beautiful offering various lands including a jungle, beach, ruins, caves and a forest. As with the classic Donkey Kong Country the environment matters from knowing where and when to jump to the assortment of enemies on the screen and in the background.

This game brings back all the love and frustration of the original. Honestly, if you are not a pro platformer or haven’t played DKC before you might have a hard time because this game is tough. The mine cart level alone can drive you as crazy as Ninja Gaiden did me. In addition, even the boss fights will not be simple and it takes timing and recognizing the right pattern to win. However, it is totally worth it and with the visuals, the music and the awesome controls Donkey Kong Country is a must have for fans of the series and platform game lovers.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$

Splatterhouse

If you love beating the holy hell out of demons and monsters then this game is for you. The folks over at Namco Bandai have taken a bit longer than expected to release this game and they have gone through some troubles, but all in all the new Splatter house looks to be a fun game.

The game pretty much is a reboot and you play as Rick who was murdered when his girlfriend Jennifer was kidnapped by the evil Dr. West. As you lay dying a demon mask bonded with your body brining you back and now the two of you need each other. Rick needs the masks power to make his way through the horde to his girl and the mask needs rick to feed it the blood of pretty much anything.

The visuals look really good and the game is more than just blood and guts, though that is most of what it is. There is also a puzzle component to the game and you have to take time moving through some levels. However, what makes the game is the gore and you can pull of spectacular murder moves on your enemies and use the environment to take them out as well.

All in all if you liked the original and have a flair for eviscerating people then this game is worth a pick-up.

Buy Worthiness: $$

Honorable mentions

We have a bonus this week, two classic games that are sure to give you some enjoyment.

Crazy Taxi

The incredibly fun taxi driving game from the Dreamcast is back. Choose your driver and transport your passenger across town in the craziest manner possible. This game is loads of fun and it’s good to see this Dreamcast game coming to the 360.

Worms: Battle Islands

War on an epicly small scale, take control of your worms and battle against your friends using tons of different warfare tactics. Believe me, don’t let the cute voices and visuals fool you. In Worms you have to have some strategy or you will be…err worm food.

Low Balance

So that’s this week’s top buys. We will be back next Tuesday with another rundown on what games to buy.

PIXELS by PATRICK JEAN

[youtube id=”QA2PQrDXCbk” width=”633″ height=”356″]

PIXELS by PATRICK JEAN

Alright this is just too cool, if you love classic video game characters like Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Donkey Kong you are going to love this video made for the Paris-based visual effects company, One More Production.

Pixel World

The video, directed by Patrick Jean shows the pixelation of New York. Highlights include Donkey Kong lobbing barrels from atop the Empire State building, Space Invaders descending upon unsuspecting taxis, Tetris blocks raining down on Manhattan, Pac-Man chomping up a subway and — my personal favorite — Frogger simply hopping across the street.

While I personally loved this video I couldn’t help but think of the flyover scandal that hit New York in summer 2009. Could you imagine if this was broadcasted how many people would believe it was real and go into a panic. Oh you don’t believe people would think this was real? Well they thought this was a freaking bomb!