Elevator (In)Action

(Thanks, HAMSTER Corporation!)

A few days ago, I got stuck in the elevator here with another guy who, after we let Security know of the issue via intercom and they said they were on it, started asking me about sports. Well, that was a dull, but enlightening (for him, I think) mercifully brief conversation. I told him I didn’t really watch sports except when I popped by a friend’s place and a sport of choice was on TV. If I’m asked who I like, I almost always counter ask “which team is winning?”, which by the way, has gotten me a few mean looks over the years, but quite a few more laughs. Like a perfect pitch, it’s all in the delivery, I guess. Well, and it depends on a good mix of catchers and not some folks who want to hit you hard with bats, as well.

give us that watch

It’s a mugging, I say!

Anyway, I think the guy looked at me as if I was a space alien visiting from somewhere, but my joke about the elevator being a busted TARDIS went a few feet above his head. It’s a good thing I made no jokes about needing a new companion in my travels, as if you don’t get one Doctor Who joke, you certainly won’t get a second one. I did mention that I have played some sports-themed video games and still do from time to time, so at least he was looking at me a lot less suspiciously after that information.

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System Shock (Finally) Now On GOG.com: That Showdown With SHODAN, Now Enhanced

SS_Enhanced 

File this one under “it’s about time!” and then go buy it, NOW. Thanks to Night Dive Studios, the classic System Shock has finally made it to gog.com as System Shock Enhanced Edition, which features not only a version of the game for higher resolution monitors, but also adds mouselook functionality, remappable keys and a few other tweaks. You’ll also get the original game as a bonus if you want to play it as originally intended. Those new bits do make the game a lot more fun if you’re a newer player looking for a more modern control scheme.

Even better, the game is on sale for a limited time for $5.99, 40% off the $9.99 price point. For those new to the experience, System Shock is a hybrid of first-person shooting, role-playing, sci-fi and horror elements as well as (still) one of the best games ever made (well, at least I think so). Yeah, yeah. Some of you out here think six bucks for a game is way too much. But given the reputation of this classic plus the fact that it’s quite replayable (don’t use a walk-through and it has even more replay value), I’d bet some of the more skeptical out there will find this gem right up there with their own favorites.

Sony’s 20th Anniversary Limited Edition PS4: Nifty Shades of Grey


 
I should have figured that Sony would be going back to basics for their 20th anniversary, but seeing that familiar shade of grey on a new model PS4 made me chuckle a bit. I bet it’s not backward compatible at all, meaning some younger folks who buy it, might want one to add to their collection or just hate that color aren’t seeing the complete picture. I still have three of those old grey models here and they get trotted out from time to time, too. 20 years is a long time and I can still recall the initial skepticism some had about Sony jumping into the game console business with the PlayStation after a deal with Nintendo to co-create a game console fell through. How the gaming landscape would been had that arrangement not fallen through is anybody’s guess. Like them or not, you have to give Sony credit for making good on their initial promise to shake things up and continue doing it for so long despite some ups and downs over the years.


 

Anyway, Happy Anniversary, Sony – you’ve certainly earned a place in millions of lives since 1994. Here’s to (at least) 20 more years (provided we’re all still around)…

Dark Horse Comics and Sideshow Collectibles Wish You A Happy Hellboy Day (And How)!

HBDAY FB IMAGEHey! It’s Hellboy Day at comics shops all over the place, kids! Well, now. Sideshow Collectibles and Dark Horse Comics are sure in a celebratory mood, it seems. That explains not only the new BUY ME NOW $20 hardcover collection, Hellboy: The First 20 Years and that awesome $50 77-issue Hellboy Digital Megabundle, but also this pretty killer $399 Mike Mignola Hellboy Premium Format Figure, now available for pre-order for August delivery. Check it out:

Sideshow_HellBoy

Nice, huh? That gap in time will YOU time to find a spot for this big guy, as he’s 23″ H (584.2mm) x 12″ W (304.8mm) x 13″ L (330.2mm) and weighs in at a whopping 15 pounds. Yeah, that’s “small” for Hellboy if he actually existed, but for your real-life place with that wobbly coffee table with the matchbook shoved under one leg for “stability”) or shelf of questionable weight load distribution? Yeah, I’d say it’s time for an actual display case or just some new shelves entirely. Although I’m far from the one you want offering advice as far as shelf solutions. I’m just waiting for the day when I’m buried alive under a former Jenga-like tower of games. I’ll survive, though. Unless I decide to PLAY my way out and forget to eat at some point…

Random Film of the Week: Legends of the Fall

Legends_of_the_Fall_MPI may be a hopeless romantic (okay, okay … only sometimes!) but even I’m not a sucker for the big budget blockbuster romance film. Still, I sit through a few when I have the time to kill or get trapped and its the only damn thing to look at that won’t get me in trouble. Edward Zwick’s great-looking Legends of the Fall made me laugh out loud many times when I first saw it on a long airplane flight and it still makes me laugh today.

I laugh more now because I believe the airplane cut was a tiny bit shorter than the theatrical version, but back on that trip, I laughed louder because I’d fallen asleep during the screening and woke up a few hours later only to find the film replaying again almost exactly from the same spot as if it were waiting for me like a long lost love. Burning up the screen with more testosterone and scenery chewing from about everyone in the cast, this is one of those films that may have led to a few breakups among couples where one dragged the other to see this expensive pot-boiled turkey and the aftermath was about as wild as the fast-motion/freeze frame bear fight that pops up near the ending.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Read on for more… Continue reading

Random Art: Another From The Vaults, Fan Art Division…

Dark Horse Melange 

Did I post this old art already? Who knows? I don’t think I did, but I can’t sleep tonight (well, this morning) and needed to do something before I went bananas. Anyway, this is a scan of a bad photocopy of postcard fan art I did for Dark Horse Comics back around 1994.I did a bunch of these in black and white and color and I believe all got published in a few issues of Diamond Previews catalogs over the course of a year or so. I haven’t done much color art since, but I’m tempted every so often. I’m not a big fan of digital color myself (well, I can’t do it very well), so if I do dive back into this illustration thing, it’ll be old school watercolor and mixed media for me. Hmm… I’m feeling a bit sleepier just typing this post, so perhaps this is working after all…

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Video Game Appreciation 101: PlayStation Evolution (US and Japanese Versions)

 

With Sony getting ready for next week’s big worldwide reveal, their Japanese branch is doing a bit of nostalgic reminiscing on YouTube. Here’s part one of what’s looking to be a fun little series (those quick bits of Japanese PlayStation ads are hilarious and make me wish Sony would devote a channel to the MANY awesome TV ads for PlayStation systems that have been shown there since 1994). Given the console’s huge impact on the gaming scene, I’m hoping we get to see this series show at some point on a Blu-Ray or online in full with additional focus on how the system hit North America in an equally spectacular manner (er, Polygon Man, the whole ENOS campaign and those silly Toshinden “Sofia Says” ads aside).

 

Thanks to dionisio for the Sofia ad!

Videogame Appreciation 101: The Sega Letters (Found!)

Back around 1990 or 1991, I recall my younger brother and I getting hopelessly stuck in Phantasy Star and in dire need of assistance. Nope, we weren’t mapping the dungeons at all, so some areas of the game were total nightmares. Still, we slogged through the game , managing to make it all the way to the infamous Baya Malay dungeons where we finally threw in the towel. Almost. Out of sheer frustration, I said, “Eh, go write Sega!” and a few days later, we’d worked out a letter asking for help and sent it off hoping for a response. About two weeks later, an envelope arrived with that familiar logo and we were both thrilled to open it up and find a photocopied walk-through of the game that helped out quite a lot.

Amusingly enough, in the interim, we’d managed to level everyone up so they were all pretty much invincible. When it came time for Myau to “flap(s) his wings ploudly” (heh) and take off for that Sky Castle, that big ol’ mandatory bird boss battle was over in something like three hits. On the first turn, yet.  The final boss was a breeze as well, but were were even more impressed by the end credits of the game, which showed off the pseudo 3D scaling in a really cool way.  To date, the game is still a truly great example of a few things including full screen “corridor” style movement that even developers making games for more powerful 16-bit systems from Sega and Nintendo failed to get running as smoothly or as fast (or even full screen, for that matter).

Anyway, during the wait time between when we mailed the letter and when it arrived, a few other games ended up stumping us for a bit. However, once that PS walk-through arrived, another note went out asking about Lord of the Sword, Spellcaster and Golvellius: Valley of Doom. I think we got two of those in one envelope and a third in a separate mailing, but by then, we were on a roll with the letter writing. I even wrote Nintendo about a NES I’d found that needed service and got a really speedy reply with a few local spots that happened to be authorized Nintendo service centers. I ended up not having to spend a dime on repairs, as a friend managed to get that system up and running with about five or so minutes of tinkering.  More money for games is always a good thing, I say…
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Random Art: One From the Vaults: Sonic + Mega Man

Quick backstory: I did this back in 1993, so perhaps I was a tiny bit psychic. About a year later, gamers were getting all excited reading about Sega making some sort of big publishing deal with Capcom which some thought would also bring Mega Man to the US on a Genesis cart. Of course, that didn’t exactly happen and Rockman Mega World/Mega Man: The Wily Wars is to date, a highly desired collectable. It was released in Japan and PAL territories in English, but Sega decided to ONLY give this game a shot as part of their innovative Sega Channel service.  Blast you Sega for being so damned forward thinking!

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What Team Ico “Should”* Do Next (After The Last Guardian, That Is)…

I’ve been kicking this silly idea around for a while (over 10 years), but I’m no game developer at all, just an old gamer and sometimes “idea guy” with a lot of thoughts about how to make good games better and better games even more fun. By the way, game companies DO NOT HIRE IDEA PEOPLE (trust me, I’ve asked). So er, don’t get any wild ideas about becoming that person who thinks it’s a good idea that Nintendo or whomever will want you and your notebooks full of Mario or Metroid levels just because you and your friends think they’ve never been done before. Now, where was I? Oh, right.

Since Fumeta Ueda and company are so great at making beautiful worlds and combining them with thought-provoking stories that don’t use a ton of words to express a wide range of emotions, I’d actually love to see them remake an old favorite of mine that, while not a “classic” at all, is a very intriguing game that has a number of similarities to their work. Continue reading