Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 30, 2013
|Star Wars on your TV? No way!|
So in order to support my ongoing quest to prove that I'm right about everything, I present to you one of my favorite retro moments featuring disco, droids and Jedi in hopes that you'll all come to see that George Lucas has, perhaps, a few more skeletons in his closet than he'd like to admit to. Enjoy.
YOU SAY YOU'VE SEEN DANCING STORMTROOPERS? NOT UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN THIS.
MUPPETS MEET STAR WARS…AND 30 YEARS LATER DISNEY BUYS THEM BOTH.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
|Happy Holidays from the Bots|
Monday, December 16, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013
|Illustration by TBottch. Stolen from DeviantArt.com - how's THAT for deviancy?|
Improvements upon graphics and sound had been, up until then, the standard way to attract gamers who were looking for the latest and greatest in what the arcades had to offer, but the computer technology behind most games of the time was already being pushed to its limits. As fate would have it, however, a bright fellow named Rick Dyer, who at the time was the president of Advanced Microcomputer Systems, got the idea to take the basic structure of early computer text adventures and scale it up to accommodate prerecorded audio and photo stills, which would form a sort of visual story in which a player could take part. After several failed attempts at generating investor interest for what he dubbed his "Fantasy Machine," a chance viewing of producer Don Bluth's 1982 animated film, The Secret of NIMH, got him thinking about replacing the static photos with quality, full motion video which, as it turns out, was just what the project needed to get people excited about it. So Rick hired the veteran Disney animator's production company to do the grunt work and on an anemic budget of about a million dollars plus, they produced roughly 22 minutes of animated footage, which could then be played back on standard arcade machine monitors using Pioneer laser-disc players and coordinated by Dyer's "Fantasy Machine" hardware.
In partnership with seasoned coin-op manufacturer, Cinematronics, the first game released to utilize this new laser-disc technology was called Dragon's Lair. It's story revolved around a brave but sometimes reluctant sword and sorcery hero named Dirk Daring, whose purpose it was to explore a dark wizard's castle and battle magical monsters in order to rescue the beautiful Princess Daphne from the clutches of the evil dragon, Singe. As in most video games, the player would interact by using a joystick and button, and had only a limited set of lives with which to complete the game. However unique to the arcade industry at the time, Dragon's Lair cost not just a quarter but a whopping 50¢ to play, which didn't sit well with a lot of gamers. Complaints also surfaced regarding Dragon Lair's gameplay as the pre-rendered video scenes only allowed the player to react to the canned events of the game, which meant that the player could not actually direct character movement or action as in traditional video games like Pac-Man, Galaga, etc.
The initial success of Dragon's Lair did succeed in bringing excited gamers back to the arcades and eventually resulted in a number of sequels, knock-offs and competitors entering the market. But it was a short-lived victory as the Great Crash (known in Japan as Atari Shock) eventually came anyway and obliterated everything in its path, leaving the landscape fresh and clear for a little company called Nintendo to take root and rebuild the video game industry from scratch. But that's a tale for another time.
In the meantime, please enjoy this video which contains all 22 minutes of the original Dragon's Lair footage, as well as about 8 minutes of prototype video, taken from the 2002 laser-disc reproduction of the game.
BONUS VIDEO #1: AN EPISODE FROM THE VERY SHORT-LIVED ANIMATED SERIES
BONUS VIDEO #2: DON BLUTH TALKS ABOUT MAKING DRAGON'S LAIR
Monday, December 9, 2013
|…with a REAL computer inside!|
Aside from the kiddy artwork that adorned the casing, the Little Professor was a fairly standard calculator except that it also functioned as a basic quiz game, randomly generating simple equations to which the operator would presumably input the correct answer, resulting in hours and hours of fun and learning. For example: 6 x 9 = ? And the answer is 42. "ERROR!" The Professor would then shame you with stark computer-speak displayed on its LED screen and then give you another chance to enter the correct answer. At the end of a round of questions you got to see your total score which let you know if you were going to be a Humanities student or not.
For those of you old enough to remember this little gem and who perhaps would enjoy sharing childhood memories with your own modern iPad/Netflix electro-children of the 21st century, you can now pick up an app-ified version for your Android device from the Google Play store and (as far as I can tell) it's free. Check out the video demo below and then click the link to visit Google Play and pick it up. Enjoy!
Friday, December 6, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013
|My kind of smart watch.|
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
|…and a cartridge in a pear tree.|
Tired of hearing the same old Christmas music, year after year? Me too! So I went to the website, 8bitpeoples.com, and downloaded an all-star chip tune artist album, The 8bits of Christmas, absolutely free! Now you too can enjoy soon-to-be classic holiday songs like Jesus Holy, Born So Lowly, Last Christmas Hot Digi Rmx and The First Blip Blop Noel (sample video below) all played on retro game and computing gear including an NES, a ZX-Spectrum and even a Commodore Vic-20. You can preview the individual tracks or download the entire thing from 8bitpeoples' site. Cover art included.
CLICK HERE TO GO TO 8BITS OF CHRISTMAS AT 8BITPEOPLES SITE
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
|Disturbingly representative of my childhood|
It's now a whole bunch of years later, but I still miss that shabby little basement with the faux wood panelling and the Suzanne Somers poster hanging next to the baseball-themed dartboard. I miss all three static-filled channels that endlessly streamed the same holiday drivel every year until we'd all had our fill of Alf, He-Man and Smurfs Christmas Specials. And I miss the TV Guide, dammit.
So as fate would have it, a few years ago I discovered a way to relive those warm and fuzzy memories without having to steal a Tardis and, even better, without having to go back to Wisconsin.
The site is called BetaMaXmas.com and basically it's a virtual recreation of the childhood memory I just described, lo-fi and complete with wood paneling. Upon entering the site, you'll be greeted with a couch and an old TV that loops 80s commercials and holiday specials from YouTube ad infinitum. Appropriately, the boob-tube sits atop an 8-Track player and Betamax machine whose clock keeps flashing 12:00. The experience is pretty complete: Don't like the channel? Use the clicker. Too much snow on the screen? Adjust the rabbit ears. Wanna know what else is on? Check out the TV Guide (if anyone under 35 is reading this, their head is probably exploding right now).
Over time, BetaMaXmas become a regular tradition for me and nowadays we turn it on around the Holidays and leave it running for hours at a time. And now that I have kids, I've found that it serves as an excellent historical pop-culture tool I can use to teach them about the time-honored tradition of commercializing Christmas, retro-style.
CLICK HERE TO ENTER BETAMAXMAS.COM
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
|White, white robots, for white, white families.|
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THEOLDROBOTS.COM
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
|Sounds like two 8-bit weasels having sex.|
CLICK HERE TO VISIT RANJIT'S 8-BIT VIOLIN PHOTO PAGE
Friday, November 22, 2013
|Pew! Pew! But tiny.|
Don't have the cash or space to add a full-sized arcade machine to your retro-gaming collection? Sure, we all do! These pint-sized and portable video games from BasicFun, makers of the ViewMaster and Bop-It, not only fit in your pocket, but fit your budget as well. You can pick one of these up for as low as $7.99 so they make great little stocking stuffers. Choose from Tetris, Space Invaders, Centipede or Breakout. They used to make a Frogger edition as well, but you'll have to check eBay or your local Target's bargain bin if you want that one, sorry.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT BASICFUN'S OFFICIAL SITE
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Retro-gaming pundits frequently refer to the "Great Video Game Crash of '83." But rarely do they mention the "Great Video Game Frenzy of '79" - the furious wind-up that propelled us deliriously through the heyday of '80-'83, and made the prospect of a "crash" a possibility in the first place.
In 1979, the shorthand word arcade changed its meaning from "pinball arcade" to "video arcade" as operators swapped their assortment of coin-eaters from majority pin to majority video. The affordable microprocessor began to change coin-op gaming dramatically.
Take a quick look at the field of game releases in the late 70's. As flocks of new developers and players entered the arena for a piece of the action, many uninspired copies emerged as new developers got their footing. But some innovative standouts foretold the sensation to come. Amidst the generic gunslinger games and near identical driving clones you'll see a few inspired standouts that led to the defining classics of the early 80's: Berzerk, PacMan, Galaga, etc.
Monday, November 18, 2013
|"And the question is "what is Pong?" Alex"|
WATCH STARCADE ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
1. Open SETTINGS app and go to GENERAL
2. Tap on DATE & TIME
3. Toggle off SET AUTOMATICALLY
4. Change the date to anything in 2012 (your Messages and data services will be disabled for a minute)
5. Tap HERE to go to the page to download the free GBA4IOS app
6. On the page tap the drop down and choose GBA4IOS and then tap INSTALL
7. Important: BEFORE you change back your dat & time setting, OPEN the GBA4IOS app and leave it up and running
8. Go back to SETTINGS app and toggle on SET AUTOMATICALLY to restore the date & time - your data services will be restored
That's it, the app has now been installed on your non-jailbroken device without going though the App Store! Crazy! Now, you'll need to download some game roms for your GameBoy emulator app but it's way easy too:
1. Your GBA4IOS app should still be open from before so go to it
2. Tap on the magnifying glass button at the top right of the app's screen
3. Tapping the button opens Safari and pulls up a web search with game rom sites, tap the first link
4. You'll be taken to a mobile site where you can download all the game roms you want - woo!
5. Pick a game and tap DOWNLOAD NOW which pops open a box asking you which app you want to open the download with, choose OPEN IN and then choose GBA4IOS
6. Wait a few seconds and you'll be taken back to the GBA4IOS app and your download should appear in the rom list
That's it, just tap on your rom and start playing!
I know it looks like a lot of steps, but honestly it took be about 2 minutes to complete, and it's worth it!
Monday, November 11, 2013
|Future consumer being molded|
|John poses for a group of urban legend enthusiasts next to an autographed box|
And just to demonstrate the lasting legacy of this 70s nugget of awesome, here's a parody of the commercial from the Jacksons 1976 variety show (nearly four years after the original first aired) starring a kid that did eat too much of something and died, although in his case it was propofol and benzodiazepine, both of which are safe to consume in tandem with soft drinks. Still too soon? Sorry.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
EXCELLENT PAC-MAN RESOURCES:
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE PAC-MAN DOSSIER
CLICK HERE TO VISIT SUPERPACMAN.COM
Monday, November 4, 2013
Saturday, November 2, 2013
|Can't possibly fail.|
...I pause for a long, long sigh as a look of saddened defeat takes over my face. I'm not even going to go into all the different ways that the mere thought of a Highlander remake offends every facet of my being, so I'm going to adopt a more positive, gee-whiz attitude about it. Let's start over ok?
Hold on to your hats cats and kitties cuz the baddest-assed, sword-swingingest, head-choppingist scifi-fantasy flick of 1986 is coming back with a vengeance! It's real and it's happening! Apparently, Summit Entertainment (you've heard of them right?) has snagged director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan to helm the flick that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) dropped out of back in 2012. And word has it that Ryan Reynolds, who never, ever sucks worse than putting a red-hot, ant-covered knitting needle into your eyeball, has been tapped for the lead. This is going to be huge! And while the classically awesome rock-band Queen probably won't be on hand to provide the soundtrack again, due to the death of singer Freddie Mercury, I'm sure the producers will find someone to take the musical helm who is WAY better and more up to the task. Probably Seether. Anyway, stay tuned for more awesome news about a movie that totally deserves to exist! Until this sure-to-be-fantastic remake is thrust upon us, take a peek at the trailer for Russell Mulcahy's original epic adventure starring Christopher Lambert: a Frenchman doing a Scottish accent. Enjoy! (but not too much, cuz the new movie's gonna be SO much better! How could it NOT be??!!)
Friday, November 1, 2013
The candy procurement ritual is postponed in my area due to inclement weather, so I've plenty of time to jam retro.
Ministry | Everyday is Halloween
First up: Ministry - a trendy poseur band that all the kewl kids dug, singing about how they dress goth every day of the year. Whoop-dee-doo. But scary good à propos video, which seems to be repurposed footage from the Nightmare Before Xmas.
Oingo Boingo | Dead Man's Party
Classic Oingo Boingo from an era when Carrot Top sang lead.
Fun random fact: In 1985, by decree of the big 3 record labels, all snare drums in the Top 40 were replaced with this monotonous, patented, profit-maximizing snare sample. The Genero-snare 3500™ was installed in radio stations across the country, automatically replacing snares on the fly for bands who refused to comply.
Dead Kennedy's | Halloween (live)
Jello Biafra indicts conformity using Halloween—the one day of the year it's acceptable to express oneself freely without fear of ridicule.
"Remember what I did?
Remember what I was?
Back on Halloween!
But what's in between?
Where are you ideas?
You sit around and dream...
For next Halloween!
Whodini | Haunted House of Rock
The first Whodini song I ever heard, played on a mix-tape by cool older kid, Freshman James Carr. His comment: "This kicks Thriller's ass."
Do they know it's Halloween?
Not strictly retro, but this one's a clear homage to to Band Aid's 1984 "Do they know it's Christmas" - a song that urged listeners to "Thank god it's them instead of you."
Flashback Fun! Fundraising singles featuring gangs of pop superstars became a hot trend in the mid-80's. By all accounts, these projects fulfilled many needs, including alleviating trace feelings of guilt in over-privileged, excessively-rich rock stars. Count up the benefits:
- Rock's biggest superstars get a much-needed ego boost
- Child laborers in Angola get a care package in the middle of their 16-hour shift and
- you get an unforgettable rock experience.
For a deeper exploration into the 1980's charity rock phenomenon, see: We are the World, Band Aid, Farm Aid, Live Aid, Sun City, and Canada's failed attempt to find native superstars, "Tears are not Enough."
For similarly-pukeworthy arrogance, see Sting's: I hope the Russians love their children too. It's gross. It really happened.
Alkaline Trio | Over at the Frankenstein Place
Because covering anything from RHPS is cool.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
|Electronic Games - Nov. '83 - Porn Not Included|
Electronic Games magazine was created in 1981 by the publishers of Video Magazine, Bill Kunkel and Arnie Katz, just when the first video game boom was beginning the America. As the first monthly periodical to feature video and computer games as its central topic, Electronic Games quickly became the de facto standard for stats, reviews and exclusive announcements until the end of its run in 1994. Thankfully, the wonderful and increasingly-relevant Internet Archive now hosts nearly the entire collection of issues and has made it available to anyone who'd like to relive the early years of video game publications. Want to find out which home gaming platform had the best version of Pole Position, Joust or Mr.Do? Well then put your time-travel helmet on and click the link…
CLICK HERE TO READ ELECTRONIC GAMES ON THE INTERNET ARCHIVE
Friday, October 25, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE CUBEWORKS SITE