Totally Tiny Arcade

totally tiny arcade

Totally Tiny Arcade is based on the rather brilliant idea of combining WarioWare styled mini-games with a classic arcade aesthetic. Or is that the idea of revisiting Lazy Jones while liberally remaking some of the best known arcade cabinets ever? Well, we’ll never really know I suppose, but what actually matters is the simple fact that Totally Tiny Arcade is, despite its flaws, a truly great offering for us ageing retro gamers.

Set in a visually pleasing and distinctly 80s arcade, the game has players rush through more than a dozen imaginatively remade classics chasing after a nefarious virus and trying to beat a pretty strict time-limit. Beating the game, leads you to a brilliant boss stage -played in front of a most obtrusive audience- that will in turn unlock a short and lovely finale and -happily- a new arcade venue to tackle. Do this another couple of times and the game is pretty much over and a few extra modes become available.

totally tiny arcade defender

The main attractions of Totally Tiny Arcade are of course the arcade remakes themselves. Impressively, there are more than 20 of them available, each sporting excellent, chunky, retrotastic graphics and some equally impressive sounds, with each game spanning four levels. The games are inspired from an impressive variety of titles including Space Invaders, Spy Hunter, Pac-Man, Joust, Frogger and even the Atari 2600 version of E.T., though -unfortunately- not all of them are equally good. For every two or three excellent remakes there’s a dull or even a completely unsuccessful one, but admittedly the brilliant and imaginative games far outnumber them mediocre offerings. After all, not all arcade games were that good, even back in the day.

You can grab Totally Tiny Arcade (or of course try the hefty demo) via its very own, very retro official site. Oh, and here is the trailer, that will hopefully clear things up.

Verdict: Retro and indie gamers will love it. The rest should first give it a try. Gnomes should indeed instantly buy the thing.

Always movie Review

Score: 9 out of 10

I randomly found this lost 80s gem by Steven Spielberg and it is well worth the watch.

Check out the Always trailer here:

The movie is a remake of the 1943 movie A Guy Named Joe but Jesus, what a remake. The premise of the movie is that there is a team of pilots who help fight forest fires with their airplanes by flying their planes as close to the top of trees as possible and they rain down on the fire to help ground fire fighters. What ends up happening is that the main character Pete Sandich (Richard Dreyfuss) is in love with his tomboy sweetheart Dorinda Durston (Holly Hunter) but their life gets shattered when Pete’s airplane explodes after he helps save the life of his best friend Al Yackey (John Goodman). Pete dies but another dead soul Hap (Audrey Hepburn) explains to Pete that to resolve the karmic cycle he must help out another soul just as another dead spirit helped him become the ace pilot he was. He is charged with helping out the newbie pilot Ted Baker (Brad Johnson) which is kind of a goofball, which also happens to fall in love with his old girlfriend. Quite a dilemma. Nobody can see Pete but he can influence crazy people, animals, and people indirectly by inspiring them if his ghost gets emotional enough.

What a premise for a movie! Sure, people have seen and for many years thought Ghost (1990) was probably the best ghost love movie of all time. I would disagree with them. This movie has the Spielberg charm and style all over it. Many, many scenes have that classic style of shot that seem almost like a painted picture, like a work of art. Let’s just say that if you are a fan of Spielberg, especially 80s Spielberg’s films and works such as the Indiana Jones ones, E.T., Amazing Stories, and Empire of the Sun, you will love this film.

This movie was magical. Hey, I’ll admit it. It made me cry and hey, they sure don’t make movies like this anymore. Since I watch everything, including stuff that you wouldn’t expect a bitter person like me to watch, if you are a girl I would say put this movie in the same group of movies as obviously Ghost (1990), P.S. I Love You (2007), Somewhere In Time (1980), What Dreams May Come (1998), and The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009). Maybe even the Notebook (2004). Still it does feel more like a really long episode of Amazing Stories. Sort of like the movie episode for Amazing Stories, the one called The Mission (1985).

I found this to be the most moving performance by Richard Dreyfuss for a movie that was everything except a straight up drama. I would classify this movie as being an action movie, comedy, fantasy film, and drama. It has something for both male and female viewers of all ages and there are many things one can learn and feel by watching it. Yes, a kid might not know how to deal with death but it is a fact of life and this movie shows death in a great light. Death is not always the end, it’s sometimes the beginning, and sometimes it’s a chance to put things right, even if nobody living will know about it. Would you love somebody enough to lose them? To let them go?

Always 1989 Richard Dreyfuss is a ghost

Atari’s Pac-Man

Atari Pacman box art
Atari Pacman box art

On May 22, 1980 Pac-Man was released in the arcades of Japan where surprising enough it did not garner a warm reception. At the time more action oriented shooters such as Space Invaders were the games of choice, but when the game made its way to the states it became a monster hit and a worldwide icon.

Created by Namco the original title was Puck Man, however, the name was changed because it was felt ill-mannered children (and adults) would change the “P” to an “F” and we all know what that spells. In addition the artwork and cabinet design was changed to fit a style that could be sold to the masses.

Pac-Man’s success came from the fact that it was different than a shooter. It appealed not only to a wide age group, but made the jump to female gamers, something even the great Space Invaders could not do. Though the challenge of eating all the dots on a small maze seemed simple enough most players never made it past level 20. In fact there are 255 levels in the game and only a few have seen the 256th kill screen.

Pac-Man was ported to pretty much every computer and console system of the time and many copies, unauthorized squeals and bootlegs have been made for it. Pac-Man also made its way into merchandising, food and even its own cartoon. Pac-Man is truly one of the most famous video games on the planet.

The story of the Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man was that it was developed by Todd Frye and released in 1982. The game sold over 7 million copies though over 12 million were manufactured. The port was criticized for not staying true to the arcade from the graphics to even the sound of Pac-Man munching away on dots. Critics and fans alike felt the game was rushed and poorly developed with many asking for refunds for their purchase. In the end Atari took a huge financial hit on Pac-Man second only to the disastrous E.T. Many believe this failure coupled with E.T.’s lead to the downfall of Atari and the video game crash of 1983.

E.T. The Video Game

Atari ET game box art
Atari ET game box art

There are far too many stories and reviews on this game to rehash, but simply put, E.T. was one of the worst games in gaming history. The game was released in December of 1982 and was highly anticipated after the success of the film, but due in part to an only six week development cycle the game was extremely unpolished, buggy and downright boring.

Now what a lot of people don’t know is that E.T. sold over 1.5 million copies and was a commercial success, at first. The problem was over 3.5 million copies were not sold and many of the copies that were sold were returned. When you add in the cost to get the rights to make the game the end result was a total financial failure. In fact many site E.T.’s failure as the event that led to the gaming crisis of 83 and the end of days for Atari.

The game consisted of you controlling E.T. in his search for three interstellar phone pieces; you had to search various screens to find them. On each screen were various pits you had to navigate into to find the phone pieces and then levitate out of. You had a health bar that would decrease as time went by and you could replenish your health by eating Reese’s Pieces left scattered across the world. If you collected enough candy Elliot would come and give you one of the phone pieces. Once you had all the phone pieces you needed to go to the spaceship call area and call your ship. The ship would land somewhere on the world and you had a time limit to find it. Once you got to the ship it would take off and the game would restart.

Atari ET game screenshot
Atari ET game screenshot

Sounds riveting does it, let me see if I have this right. So E.T.’s Metro PC phone broke when his interstellar date kicked him out of her car. E.T. landed in the pothole capital of the world and had to go ditch diving to get his phone pieces back. Somehow his life force is being drained so he needs to eat discarded candy to replenish. If he eats a lot of candy he goes into some kind of alien diabetic shock and a kid hands him a piece of the phone. Once he has his phone back together he has to find high ground because his super phone only works if within three feet of a cell tower. E.T. calls his dad who totally owns a dealership to come pick him up. However, it is his older brother B.E.T. who comes to get him and parks the ship on the other side of town making E.T. run over to him. Yeah, I don’t see why this game wasn’t a winner.

If there is one thing E.T. did help it was the people of New Mexico where their Mount Craptastic was created with the help of over 3.5 million unsold or returned copies of E.T. It is the second largest mountain of crap in the world with the largest being Mount Why-the-hell-do-you-keep-sending-me-theses created by the fine folks over at AOL.