One of the enduring video game urban legends is that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 was singlehandedly responsible for the killing the video games. The game was so bad, it took down the Atari juggernaut and the rest of the industry with it. Supposedly, there were *so* many returned copies of E.T. from disgruntled customers that Atari had to bury millions of cartridges at an undisclosed location in the desert. Or so the legend goes. Continue reading Atari: Game Over documentary available for free
Star Wars Episode VII has been in the news on a couple of different occasions this week. First off, the official title was revealed: “The Force Awakens.” Continue reading Star Wars Episode VII official title announced: The Force Awakens
The ColecoVision and Intellivision Flashback consoles headline AtGames’ Fall 2014 lineup, which will be available this October at Toys R’ Us, Dollar General, Sams Club, and other retailers. While the ColecoVision and Intellivision never achieved the popularity of the Atari 2600 or the Nintendo Entertainment System, they each sold millions of units and are still beloved by many. Continue reading Colecovision and Intellivision Flashback consoles coming this fall
35 years after his career started with “My Bologna” (a parody of The Knack’s “My Sharona”), “Weird Al” Yankovic has scored his first number one album this week with Mandatory Fun, featuring parodies of recent hits by Lorde, Pharrell, Robin Thicke and others. Continue reading “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun tops the charts
Known for his unintelligible interviews and superhero-like physique, former WWF champion “The Ultimate Warrior” is a professional wrestling legend, despite his relatively brief time in the industry.
In a bizarre consequence of timing, the wrestler formerly known as Jim Hellwig died a day after speaking to his own mortality during a live taping of WWE RAW – his first appearance in the show in nearly two decades:
Two days prior, Hellwig (who legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993) was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame – something most wrestling fans assumed would never happen due to the bad blood between him and Vince McMahon.
While he made enemies later in his life due to his outspoken political views, I’ll always fondly remember watching him (via a scrambled cable signal no less) come to Hulk Hogan’s rescue at Wrestlemania VIII, as well as me and my wrestling buddies marking out over his WCW debut in 1998. I’m glad he was able to make his peace with the industry that made him famous, and say goodbye to all his fans during the days leading up to his death.
Currently there is no official word on the cause of death, but as with most wrestlers who die early, it’s not a stretch to assume he had heart issues stemming from steroid abuse.
He leaves behind two young daughters, his wife, and his mother.
Rest in peace, Ultimate Warrior.
I spend a solid 90 minutes on the road every weekday commuting to and from work, so I spend much of that time listening to podcasts. I’ve always been a fan of gaming podcasts, but recently I’ve been listening to several geared around older consoles and computers.
This list is by no means comprehensive, just some of the ‘casts I’ve found to be both entertaining and informative:
- Retronauts: Old Games and Junk – Gaming consoles, fairly Nintendo-centric.
- ANTIC: The Atari 8-bit podcast – Atari home computers.
- Chicken Lips Radio – Commodore home computers. Only one episode – hopefully there will be more.
- Retro Gaming RoundUp
- Open Apple: An Apple II Podcast
- 1 Mhz: An Apple II Podcast
The Polygon has published a great retrospective on the arcade classic Missile Command and it’s creator Dave Thurer – a game inspired by, and the inspiration for, nightmares of nuclear armageddon.
While I had experienced the arcade version of Missile Command (1980) at the local movie theater, my definitive version was the Atari 2600 port. It was the first cartridge I purchased with my own money – a big deal for a kid who hadn’t reached double digits yet.
I spent hours upon hours playing it, taking down the incoming missiles as they approached faster and faster. While there were limitations compared to the original – only one missile base, fewer enemy types, no trackball – it is one of the more faithful 2600 arcade ports.
At this point in my life, I was still trying to convince my family to partake in my burgeoning video game hobby. My brother was too young, and my mom had absolutely no interest. Though my dad would play with me occasionally – he enjoyed Galaga, and join in for a round of Combat with me from time to time.
I remember watching him play Missile Command in our living room, but after a while he said he was done. While I don’t remember his exact words, he conveyed a sense of unease with the game’s premise – probably for the same reason the game haunted the dreams of its creator. While I may have known that “Russia” was something to be feared, the concept of nuclear war was not something I was capable of grasping at my young age.
For me it was just a fun, albeit tense, video game. For baby boomers who grew up under the specter of mutually assured destruction, Missile Command was less a game and more a bad dream come to life.
Just in time for it’s 25th anniversary, CBS has released the first season of Star Trek The Next Generation on Blu-ray. While I haven’t seen the full season in high def, I do own Star Trek The Next Generation – The Next Level sampler, and it looks fantastic.
It’s hard to believe that a TV series from the 80s could look this good. The series was shot on 35mm film, which transfers well to high-def, but all of the effects and compositing were mastered on standard definition video. So, there is a massive amount of work necessary to essentially recreate each episode from scratch – and the end result is well worth it. Yeah, some of the sets of the first couple of seasons look like they would be at home in a low-budget soap opera, and Worf’s makeup is a bit too obvious in Encounter at Farpoint, but overall the final product is excellent.
There’s something that just draws you in about TNG in high-def in a way I couldn’t have expected. Even given their 1.33:1 TV aspect ratio, the A/V quality here is just so good – the colors so lush, the detail so engrossing – that you’re drawn in as though you’re watching a movie. And the bigger your screen and better your surround sound system, the more you’re sucked in.
Count me in. Star Trek The Next Generation on Blu-ray is stunning, the restoration is surprising beyond expectation and the set and its extras are more enjoyable than I could possibly have imagined. Here’s looking forward to six more seasons like this!
It’s a bit pricey at $80, but for 26 one-hour episodes, that’s not bad at all.
Buy Star Trek The Next Generation – Season One [Blu-ray] at Amazon.