HyperZone (SNES, 1991)

HyperZone-cartridgeIt’s like someone made a ROM hack of F-Zero.

The Book of Wikipedia says that HyperZone’s design was based off the trippy climax to “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Well… it sort of looks like that, but it seems more like it just happened because of how the game would look if you made a shooter like this. Mode 7 and those slit scan effects look a bit alike, the way flat surfaces run at you from a well-defined horizon. I suppose they could have seen what they were able to do with Mode 7 and someone said “Hey this looks like 2001” and they ran with it for the backgrounds.

HyperZone-recharge

And they stole the yellow box obstacles from Super Mario World!

But as for the tracks you fly along… basically they took F-Zero tracks and gave you movement along the y-axis. I mean you are flying along the tracks from F-Zero. Same road, same yellow circles and black barrier, same health recharging portions of the track (though they’re colored differently) that are often in the same locations as their F-Zero counterparts. Your ship looks like it could be a car in F-Zero.

The controls weren’t particularly fast or responsive in this game, but on the other hand when you got to smaller areas it felt like the ship jumped a little too fast, like every tap on the D-pad moved you thirty feet. So maybe the struck the proper balance and my varying levels of desparateness shaped my interpretation. I also think you couldn’t fire rapidly enough.

HyperZone-Stage_2_Boss

Cyborg lava monster that shoots blue balls of energy past your HUD? Sure. Whatever.

There isn’t much of a story to the game. Just blast your way through 8 levels because evil alien cyborgs are attacking humanity’s attempt to leave a version of Earth where global warming alarmism was ignored for too long… or maybe we all decided to follow China/the USSR’s model and pollute like there was no tomorrow until eventually there wasn’t a tomorrow. I’m glad it said the enemies were evil anyway, because otherwise it looks like you’re playing as something/someone from Earth who is killing aliens so that we can steal their territory because we screwed ours up too much. That would be morally objectionable if the aliens weren’t already bad hombres.

My Take On It

HyperZone-Ship_Change

For some reason, at the start of Level 3 (you’d be forgiven for thinking this was Mute City) you change cars.

I suck at shooter games of any kind. I think I alluded to that before. But I do like me some Mode 7 effects like what we see in this game. Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, and Pilotwings will always be tops with me, and for weirdos like me who said “I want Star Fox but without the Super-FX chip” then this is the best thing I’ve played like that… well, at least the best dedicated game like that. The Star Wars games have some Mode 7 stuff goin’ on, but A: there’s too much detail dagnabbit! and B: it’s not entirely what the games are about. And C: they are hard. Very hard. I only was ever able to beat Super Star Wars without cheating; the rest I needed infinite lives for. And I’m pretty sure Super Return of the Jedi’s graphics were achieved by infusing the microchips with midichlorians.

HyperZone-Game_Over

Level 3, out of 8. But I think I got to the boss anyway… during an earlier run that I lost a life on leading up to this final life lost.

WCW: The Main Event (Game Boy, 1994)

WCW_Main_Event-title_screen

On the left is Scott Steiner, on the right is Rick Steiner. NEITHER of them had been in WCW for an entire year preceding the release of this game.

WWE’s biggest pay-per-view event, Wrestlemania, is this Sunday. So like I did with the Super Bowl, here’s a wrestling game.

I have played wrestling games, WCW and WWF/E, across multiple systems. NES, SNES, PlayStation, N64, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, Game Boy. They’re all the same, or at least all where you’re supposed to be wrestling. You get some exceptions like Wrestlemania Arcade which are exceptional, but I’ll look at that one next year maybe around this time. Right now I’ll do a “if you’ve played one you’ve played them all” review focusing on WCW: The Main Event.

WCW_Main_Event-Vader-Rude

In 1997, both of these men were in the WWF. Thanks to the “Montreal Screwjob”, R. Rude would only last 3 months in WWF before returning to WCW in anger.

For those not in the know, WCW (pronounced “dubbya-see-dubbya”) stands for World Championship Wrestling and it was WWF/E’s biggest nemesis in the 1990s. WCW was backed by Ted Turner who was siphoning profits from his other projects to support what I’d best describe as a company full of government workers- overpaid, unfireable, and often rewarded for bad behavior because of poor oversight. Anywho, the 1980s and early 90s WWF ended up effectively being the talent developing arm of the WCW. 80s stars like Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage signed up, while folks like Kevin Nash and Scott Hall who were bounced out of WCW ended up finding their footing in WWF and then returning to WCW after achieving popularity- not as a conspiracy on anyone’s part, it’s just that WCW started writing checks they couldn’t cash once they ran out of Ted Turner’s money (Turner’s company merged with another, and the new company found that WCW was a giant loss, and they didn’t really care about wrestling anyway), kind of like socialism and the fall of the Soviet Union really… so yeah, overpaid government workers. But for a time, WCW was dominating WWF. 80 or so weeks. WWF survived the onslaught… and then lost to a greater nemesis, a power neither company could ever hope to defeat- the World Wildlife Foundation. So WWF had to rename to WWE.

The game in question here came out prior to WCW’s height, prior to when they’d even think they could stand toe-to-toe like they did with WWE. In other words, prior to when they brought Hulk Hogan onboard. 4 months prior, in fact. The more astute observer might be wondering why WCW giant Ric Flair is absent. Well you’re not the only one! Instead we have the Steiner Brothers, who left WCW two years before the game was released.

WCW_Hulk_Hogan_Dungeon_of_Doom

THERE’S NO HULKAMANIACS HERE! I’VE NEVER BEEN HERE BEFORE!” Image from WWE… not that they’d want it.

So… WCW could’ve pushed back the release date of this game, removed the Steiner Brothers, and replaced them with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan (because by the time they got through removing the Steiner Brothers and drawing Ric Flair, Hogan would’ve been onboard with WCW) thus making this the 2nd video game where you could have a match between the two (the significance of that is Hogan was as synonymous with the WWF at the time as Ric Flair was with WCW, so it would be like playing out the rivalry between the companies, like that weird HHH v. Sting match at Wrestlemania 31). All of the characters used the same moves so all they had to do was replace the Steiner Brothers’ sprites with hastily-drawn Hogan and Flair sprites banged-out in an afternoon! Seems like a missed opportunity to me.

Another advantage to waiting- if the game were released in June or July of that year as opposed to February when it actually did come out then it would’ve A: capitalized on sales of Game Boy games to parents trying to keep their f$%#ing kids quiet for three g#%$@mned seconds on long car rides to summer vacation destinations and B: capitalized on the publicity of Hogan signing with WCW. And no, they did not need 2 years to manufacture the game- Doom on the Sega 32X wasn’t even finalized 2 MONTHS before its release date!

You know what the weird thing is? 5 months after Hogan joined WCW and won its top championship title, WCW released a game on the SNES that didn’t feature him. It would be another 2 years after that before any WCW game was released.

The Game

WCW_Main_Event-outside-ringAs usual, I have no idea what’s going on here. I’m just mashing buttons and hoping something happens. A winning strategy- as in I won two matches. I might’ve done better if I knew how to escape a pin. The computer did that a lot, but I couldn’t. So, in other words, it’s like any other wrestling game I’ve played! I’m sure this would be a trifle more bearable if I had the instructions. Unlike some other games, I feel I might actually have a shot at winning in this one if I had the manual. So… buying used didn’t pay off afterall.

As I mentioned earlier, each wrestler is imbued with the same moves. Punching, bouncing off the ropes and kicking in the air, suplexes (suplexii?), jumping off the ropes which as far as I can tell can’t be dodged and pins you instantly (if the computer does it), and some kind of piledriver.

You get several game modes, but they all end up being the same- pin the other guy more times than he pins you. You can either do a one-off bout to win, or go with the elimination option and systematically face the whole roster. Timed matches mean you get to pin him as many as you can in a set time, or you can do just 1 pin and win, or 2 out of 3, or 3 out of 5. And you can either just compete to compete or set it so that you win a title if you win. Doesn’t matter, none of this affects the gameplay.

The Verdict/My Take/Whatever I Usually Head This Section With

WCW_Main_Event-Ron_Simmons

What is going on with Ron Simmons’ sprite? I mean, DAMN he looks like the Robot Monster got to him.

This seemed easier than other wrestling games like it that I’ve played. The most comparable ones I guess would be on the NES since they too were 8-bit with only 2 buttons to work with, and this came off as easier than those. Even easier than any of the other ones I’ve tried, with three or four buttons or more allowing for complicated move sets.

I like fighting games. I grew up on Mortal Kombat 3 and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. I lost a summer beating Ultimate Mortal Kombat on the DS with every character. Take it from me- WWF In Your House and Wrestlemania Arcade are the only two wrestling games that are like fighting games! The others are… well, wrestling games I guess. Though with fighting games getting more complex, maybe in modern times the two once-distinct styles are blurring together. I haven’t a clue. My fighting games are 2D/sprite-based (except the first two Virtua Fighters)  and that’s the way I likes ’em!

WCW_Main_Event-defeat

Also, when you play as Ron Simmons, apparently the other wrestlers beat the black out of you.

Pac-Attack/Pac-Panic (Philips CD-I, 1995)

Pac-Panic_CD-IWow! Finally something without even a snide jab at politics. Somebody call my momma, I must be going crazy. As it is though, generally these video game entries are supposed to avoid those topics so this is in theory supposed to be the norm rather than the exception.

Pac-Attack_CD-I_TitleAnyway, you might notice that the material I photographed said “Pac-Panic”. As you can tell by the gold CD-I logo on the jewel case for the disc, that’s because this is the European release for this game. I thought it was the U.S. one for the year or two I’ve owned it- the European CD-I games and movies generally don’t have the slipcovers from what I’ve seen. Upon reading the Wikipedia entry though it seems this game wasn’t released on the CD-I in the U.S. at all. Furthermore, the CD-I release is enhanced over the versions seen on consoles in the U.S.

About The Game

The game itself is like Dr. Mario or Tetris or any other of those stacking games really, but your goal depends on which mode you pick. As you can see there are three. I think the bottom one is versus, but since I’m a lonely old man in a 30 year old’s body I don’t have a second player to test with. I also don’t have two working versions of the same CD-I controller to play with, though I do have four different controllers for it.

Pac-Attack_CD-I_Game-Mode-1The first mode you come to basically has you eliminate boxes and ghosts until your pile gets so high that a new piece lands with part of itself sticking up out of the play area. There are three regular pieces- ghosts, boxes, and Pac Mans. Boxes act like blocks in Tetris- complete a row and they vanish. Ghosts block you from completing rows, and Pac Man eats the ghosts to clear a path for the boxes to land. Of course my wording implies an irregular item falls- a fairy. Apparently you have a fairy meter that I paid no attention to (I didn’t read the manual) that fills up to drop a fairy, which I thought was a stick or a poor attempt to draw a cherry (an element from the arcade games). The fairy wipes out all the ghosts when it lands.

Pac-Attack_CD-I_Game-Mode-1-failThe longer you last, the faster the pieces fall. Pac Man also sometimes goes the wrong way, away from where the other ghosts are. He’ll only move downward and left or right, so if you have 4 ghosts arranged in a square the most he’ll eat is three. However if you have a row of ghosts, with empty blocks to the side, and you drop Pac Man on top of the ghost that’s on the end next to the empty space, sometimes Pac Man will eat the one ghost then go into the empty space instead of following the row of ghosts. I don’t know why.

You can rotate the pieces of course, by pressing one of the buttons on the controller (one of the buttons surrounding the thumbstick on the pictured controller). You can also call up a menu for exiting the game by pressing both buttons simultaneously (there are four buttons in the picture, but two of them are redundant).

Pac-Attack_CD-I_Game-Mode-2The other game mode I was able to try has a different goal- you have 5 chances to eat all of the ghosts in the field of play, so you have to place the pieces that fall to facilitate the expeditious consumption of said supernatural specters. New pieces falling can still contain boxes, ghosts, or Pac Mans (whether you’re ready for one or not).

That’s It?

That’s what I thought. It’s a Pac Man game. Where is the Pac Man action?

I suck at these games. However, this was kind of fun at my first try, though next time I’ll probably use the CD-I controller that actually looks like a video game controller. I found some of my reflexes slowed a little because I was doing everything with one thumb.

Pac-Attack_CD-I_menu

I’m sure the game’s main menu would have been more intuitive if I had read the instructions.

Stealth ATF (NES, 1989, residual from the War Games series)

Stealth_ATF-title

Is it really “ATF”? It looks like “ACE” to me.

I don’t know what the “ATF” means. “Absolutely, Transparently Fictional”?

Stealth_ATF-lock

I don’t even know what jets these are supposed to be. They kinda look like Tornados but with just one engine.

In the game, you play as an F-117. The “F” stands for “Fighter”, but that was a bit of gimmickry to attract pilots since bombers and attack aircraft are for Herberts. Depending on who you ask, the “F” was also a bit of legal finaglery due to arms treaties controlling the number of bombers, or because Congress might’ve had a hard time approving a lightly-armed attack aircraft given that a bunch of better-armed ones were already in service and working just fine. The F-117 is designed solely to attack ground targets- it does not have any guns or air-to-air missiles. So… nothing in this game could possibly happen, but I guess in 1989 the publishers wouldn’t really have access to that info. They sure as heck WOULD have known that the ship can’t land or takeoff from an aircraft carrier!

Stealth_ATF-taking_off

I do not know what the hieroglyphs at the bottom mean.

Otherwise this game plays like any other fighter simulation that isn’t After Burner, meaning that when it comes time to land the aircraft I fail miserably. I apparently cost the fictional in-game U.S. government $255,600,000. They let you wrack up a tab of $127,800,000 before you get a game over. $213,000,000 was because I did not know how to land the plane, $42,600,000 is because I didn’t takeoff right on the first try. Every welfare recipient in the U.S. lost a dollar because of me.

The Political Stuff

Being a 1989 simulation, this certainly had Cold War potential. I didn’t get to the level, but there’s one set in Alaska so I can only assume the villain there is the Russkies unless the Eskimos allied with Snow Miser again (that’s what the REAL Aleutian campaign in WWII was about). Had I written for this instead of After Burner, it might’ve gone the same way as that, or the same way as the aforelinked “Flight of the Intruder” went. I’m just speculating; I don’t know where I would’ve gone with it. I know where I can go with it right now though.

Stealth_ATF-briefing

This mission is no more real with Democrats than it is in the game… because you’d never send an F-117 to do that while sober.

The cries to bomb Russia have disappeared. The Left still believes Trump simultaneously exists in both a state of being an intellectually disabled failure of a businessman and a cunning Russian superspy who’s blood kin of Lavrentiy Beria.

In fact, the Democrats want us to be subservient to the Russians. They want Russia (or China, though as predicted that distinction is rapidly disappearing) to be the world’s only superpower. Their words of yore and actions at present bear this out.

Yore:

  • Russia is not a threat.
  • We should reduce our missile defenses against Russian aggression
  • America needs to invest in Russia’s tech industry and help Russia dominate Silicon Valley
  • Uranium One
  • Paris Climate Agreement, which Democrats would adhere to by imposing its crippling effects on the U.S., at the same time as Russia and China (and other nations on it) would ignore the treaty they backed and fill the economic void left by our absence as producers.
  • It’s ok for Russia to interfere in our elections
  • It’s ok for Russia to take the lead in Syria
  • It’s ok for Russia to violate treaties.

At Present:

  • America should stop building and modernizing its nuclear arsenal as Russia expands its own, in violation of an Obama-era treaty which Democrats tell us our participating in would stop Russia from violating- in other words, Democrats tell you, as Russia violates the treaty, that Russia will only violate it if America stops adhering to it. Liberals are smarter than us, so this can only mean Democrats want Russia to get away with illegally expanding their arsenal while we continue to limit ours.
  • We should make it illegal for America to launch a first strike, a very peaceful and conciliatory move from the same Russia hawk party who claim they want a war, a move which would embolden Russia to attack in any non-nuclear way they can think of knowing that we’d never respond with something that mattered.

In other words, Democrats openly want to strip America of its defenses and economy while allowing Russia to expand its arsenal and polluting power. Does that sound like the same outraged anti-Russia party from 2 years ago, or the same pro-Russia party from over the past 100 years that I’ve discussed before?

Pro-Russia Side Effects

Not speaking to Russia directly, but we also  have the Green New Deal, which in one fell swoop with its extreme expense would eliminate the United States as a world power, or even make us a debt slave of China much as Africa is slowly becoming. But it gets better- Environmental groups are beholden to Russian and Chinese interests. Groups like the Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Foundation, and the League of Conservation Voters. Even without the Green New Deal, these groups are seeking to disrupt our energy industry’s challenge to Russian and Chinese dominance. In other words, liberals talk of war with Russia while trying to increase Russia’s income and decrease America’s fuel reserve which would be much needed for a war.

Stealth_ATF-menu

Not really relevant except that I link to more anti-Left stuff, but you’ll notice a familiar name for the director and programming.

And why do I say this is all deliberate? Well, liberals like to boast of their superior intellects, so if a knuckledragging nitwit like me can figure this out then most assuredly a liberal knows this is happening, thus they either do not care or even want it to happen. This is further easily merged with the Left’s attempts to strip America of its defenses as I’ve discussed before to create a terrifyingly obvious portrait of a political movement serving Chinese and Russian interests far better than Trump ever has, even if we hold the notion that he’s a Russian plant.

Democrats spent years allying with Russia, asking Russia to interfere in our elections, whitewashing Russia’s evils, destroy our ability to deter Russia or fight them, and even now are outright on Russia’s payroll to destroy our energy industry, at a time when Democrats promote agendas that would devastate America and leave us as a country worse-off than Russia, thus by default elevating Russia’s status in the world. They do all of this, and then you turn the TV on and hear them complaining that Trump is the real Russian agent.

Let me put it another way: we have messages sent to a hitman about a job, we have paychecks sent to a hitman to carry out the job, we have the hitman boasting about how smart he is, we have a history of the hitman saying they wanted to do the job, we have the hitman’s arsenal in evidence, but whenever the hitman is asked he says those weapons are for something else and the hitman regularly and publicly says that the guy paying him is really paying his target to kill himself. Would you believe it? If you vote “D” but don’t hate America and don’t have a taste for borscht, you sure seem to.

Stealth_ATF-game_over

John Madden Football (Panasonic 3DO, 1994)

john_madden_football_3do-titleSuper Bowl Sunday is… well, Sunday. So let’s take a break from ramming our political views down your throat and unite around football, where everyone is one and there is no intrigue or politics or… well doggone it. Look, it’s either this or I try to spin the shutdown ending one way or the other and talk about the Left eviscerating the Covington kids despite them being the real victims, with the Left as usual taking pleasure in endangering the lives of teenagers… not so surprising there really since they like endangering babies too. Anyone who can’t vote or doesn’t vote for them doesn’t matter, it seems.

I’m not much of a football fan. I vaguely identify with the Buffalo Bills and their perpetual inability to deliver significant wins (it’s like looking in a mirror I tells ya!), and that was chosen by higher authorities as my favorite team a little over 11 years ago. I watch the Super Bowls, and bits and pieces of a handful of games during the season. All that said, it’s amazing that on the morning of January 12th I managed to narrow down my Super Bowl picks to being either the Dallas Cowboys or the Los Angeles Rams. I just looked up who the top teams were though and guessed the Cowboys for some reason. I knew the Patriots would be in it, EVERYONE knew the Patriots will be in it. That was known back in August. Too bad the only time I ever rooted for the Patriots was in the 2017 Super Bowl, when the media tried to make the Super Bowl into a referendum on white people and Trump. Fun fact: in a contest of athleticism and strategy, it’s totally racist if white athletes end up besting black athletes. Here are some headlines from 2017.

  • New York Magazine: There Are So Many Reasons to Root Against ‘Trump’s Team’ in the Super Bowl
  • NBC Sports: Curran: Patriots’ Super Bowl win is America’s nightmare
  • The Root: The Trap House vs. the White House: Why Black America Needed the Falcons to Win (they say that the Patriots are “racist-adjacent”, and say that their logo is of a white guy though he looks more like Chief Crazy Horse to me)
  • Colorlines: How the Super Bowl Became a Battle for America’s Soul The subtle—and not-so subtle—roles race, xenophobia and Islamophobia played in Super Bowl LI.

And then the reactions on social media were quite pretty. “I hate seeing white people happy”. Hitler only wishes the Jews gave him that much ammo to fuel hate against them, and then these people spewing their own hate wonder why they in turn are hated. Gotta love these vicious self-feeding cycles; whoever said perpetual motion machines are impossible never tried to transform the human capacity for hatred into an energy source. Just take two people, make them hate each other, then watch as they fuel it themselves! It’s more than a perpetual motion machine; it’s a perpetual motion machine that gets faster and faster! And yes, I am condemning both sides. The whites who randomly hate nonwhites, the nonwhites who randomly hate whites, and the ones like me who think hating the other people because all or some hate you is a useful response.

But I did get a kick out one of the Northeast’s most liberal cities, Boston, being declared the most racist city that a certain comedian ever went to. When the Left turn on each other it’s always fun.

The Game Please…

Like with watching football games, I’m usually not one for football video games. I can piece together what the plays do based on the diagrams, but I have no idea when to use what. It’s a miracle I know which side of the field to run to. Also, they’re all the same. I’ve played Madden ’97 and Madden ’98 on the Sega Saturn (they were the first, and for a while only, games I had on the system so I developed a slight nostalgia for them), one of the 2000s Maddens on my brother’s Xbox 360, and NFL Quarterback Club on the Sega 32X. They all felt the same as each other, the same as this game. RealSports Football on the Atari 2600 though, that was a unique experience. Maybe that will be for next year.

My Stone Cold Lock Of The Century Of The Week

john_madden_football-3do-final_scoreAfter running a simulation on my super-advanced simulating machine so advanced it goes by the symbols “3DO”, I determined that the Dallas Cowboys would beat the New England Patriots at the Super Bowl this year with a score of 35-7. Fortunately since it ended up being the LA Rams, I can still claim that if the Cowboys had made it to the Super Bowl they would have defeated the Patriots 35-7 and never worry about being disproven. As for the real game… oh I dunno… I’ll make up a number. 31-28, Patriots win. I’ll probably end up doing this year what I did in 2017 too- I’ll think the game starts at 8pm and sleep until then, only to tune in during halftime.

The Simulation

john_madden_football-3doOutside of the graphics, this could have been any Madden game or even NFL Quarterback Club game up through I think 2006 (I’m just guessing on when that Xbox 360 Madden game I played came out). And if the formula hasn’t changed after that, it’s entirely possible this is the exact game I’d be playing if I laid down $60 at the store tomorrow. But I’d bet dollars to donuts that the flashy new games don’t come with the ridiculous amount of paper that this had. Look at that play chart!

john_madden_football-3do-packaged-materials

This is why the Amazon faces deforestation.

How The Game Goes, In Pictures!

john_madden_football_3do-kickoff

Start with the kickoff

john_madden_football-3do-plays

Choose your plays. I have no freakin’ idea when any of this is appropriate to use. Sometimes I’d just mash a random combination of A, B, and C until the game started. Other times for some reason I had only 2 seconds to decide before the decision was made for me.

john_madden_football_3do-passing

Pass your ball if you picked a passing play. Otherwise just run around towards the football like a chicken with its head cutoff. I don’t recall the Sega Saturn games doing this for passes though- as far as I remember, the other football games zoom out and put an icon over the people you can pass to, while as you see here this game just splits your screen 4 ways.

john_madden_football_3do-interception

Have the guy you throw to either fail to catch it, or have the other team catch it. Usually for this game, my guy only failed to catch the ball if I took control of the player catching it. Pressing one of the buttons lets you change which player you control, I assume like every other football game. Usually it was my computer-controlled player intercepting the computerized-opponent’s ball.

john_madden_football-3do-alone

Run up the field all by yourself, because the Patriots might as well not have a defensive line.

john_madden_football_3do-touchdown-dance

Watch your player do his touchdown dance because this is 1994 and the NFL has not decided to penalize players for this yet.

john_madden_football_3do-field-goal-kick

Kick that field goal!

john_madden_football_3do-field_goal

Watch as the ball soars over the clearly 2-dimensional goal post!

john_madden_football-3do-negative-yards

Review your stats either at halftime or at the end, and ponder how you beat the other team 35-7 when you just mashed random buttons and got only -1 yards average per run.

The Game In Video

Remember, this is in 1994 when full-motion video in a video game was a novelty. And when it took forever to load! It was a conscious decision to have valuable chunks of my time used to load these video clips that generally lasted only a couple of seconds, sometimes the loading time was longer than the video!

john_madden_football_3do-video-coin_toss

Start with the coin toss

john_madden_football-3do-video-penalty

Flag on the play!

 

 

 

 

 

 

john_madden_football_3do-video-measuring

Is this a first down? I don’t know! Let’s stop the game for an hour to show a 5 second clip of us checking!

john_madden_football_3do-video-touchdown

Touchdown!

 

john_madden_football_3do-video-touchdown_crowd

The early 1990’s cheers for you.

john_madden_football_3do-video-field_goal

His arms are in the shape of the field goal posts to signal your field goal is good.

 

john_madden_football-3do-video-field_goal_missed

And sometimes your field goal kick does not make it.

john_madden_football_3do-video-halftime-madden

John Madden drops in at the beginning, halftime, and end of your game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Was It?

I only wanted to play half a game. I needed to only play half a game. I needed to go to bed because I had a long day ahead. Instead I stayed up an extra half hour to finish the game. So I liked playing it. Like I said though- it felt like any other modern football game, except for the cutscene loading times. But FMV was novel in a video game, and I guess they liked showing it off. Probably was a selling point too.

 

So… enjoy your Super Ball! Go spend Sunday watching burly men toss pig skin around.

john_madden_football-3do-game_over

 

 

PSP UMD, GBA Video, And The Future

umd-vs-gba videoOk, I broke my promise to myself and did a political thing for both Christmas and New Year’s. There were seasonal issues I felt had to be looked at. So here’s something different.

Home Video Game Units

You may be wondering: “why just those two? Didn’t the CD-I have its own video format?” Well, yes, but it also played generic video cd’s, and the CD-I video format itself was actually just an MPEG file with the file extension changed to something else. I think it said “.DAT” instead of “.MPEG”. Copying it onto my laptop and relabelling it would give me access to the video if my CD-I were not around, which is like half the time because I have one of the gigantic models and I am not lugging that thing up and down the East Coast!

philips_cd-1_james_bond_collection_uk_release

The Philips CD-I was region-free, which allowed me to cheaply snatch-up and watch this collection of James Bond movies.

But since I brought it up, and since it’s a precursor to our modern consoles that double as home video players, I’ll just note that as far as I could tell the CD-I videos looked exactly like VHS tapes, but without a sort of haze subtly graying things out a little. While the image is sharper in that regard, you also get some artifacting in there.

While CD-I was on the maybe pile because of its early CD-I exclusive format that was only exclusive because they changed a filename on the disc otherwise it’d work in any VCD player, there are some units definitely in the “not at all” pile for this post. That’d be things like the PS2, Xbox, Gamecube (Panasonic Q to be specific), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. While these play DVDs and Blu-Rays, there AREN’T home videos released exclusively for formats that only those units can play. Same thing for the Pioneer LaserActive which one day shall be mine. As my earlier post might indicate, I do have me some laserdiscs. And spellcheck for WordPress indicates that “laserdisc” is not a real word… how much we forget in 19 years!

Game Boy Advance Video

If you didn’t know what I meant by “artifacting” when talking about CD-I videos, you’ll see in these screenshots. It looks terrible, but they had to make some sacrifices to fit them onto cartridges. Besides, Game Boy Advance Video came out early in 2004. At that time, the best you could see is whatever image the frontlit SP provided so the resolution would necessarily be quite low anyway.

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“Mumblin’ Morays Mermaid Man, one of the aliens from Space Invaders consumed my foot and has latched to my chest!” Image from SpongeBob Squarepants episode “Mermaid Man”.

There is a small library of Game Boy Advance Video titles, compared to UMD releases. 34 cartridges by my count. All of them are children/pre-teen shows. Disney, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Pokemon dubs, things like that. I just bought ’em up for the SpongeBob episodes, though I think I got my Cartoon Network one for free. I wasn’t disappointed- it meant I got an episode of Courage The Cowardly Dog.

Nintendo entrusted this endeavor to Majesco (except the Pokemon releases, Nintendo handled that differently). This seemed like a bad choice to me, after my most recent experience with a Majesco product. A product that surely would’ve been on Nintendo’s mind and on Majesco’s resume, since it came out less than 6 years before Game Boy Advance Video hit the marketplace.

gba-video-majesco-logoMajesco was responsible for releasing the Sega Genesis Model 3 in 1998. No Sega CD compatibility, no Sega 32X compatibility, didn’t work with some Sega Genesis games, and they’re prone to rusting. I have an Atari 2600 that runs smooth and looks new despite being purchased in the 70’s and having spent 20 years in my dad’s closet, yet both of the Model 3’s I got looked like someone drizzled salt water in them and they only turned 20 this year. The cashiers at the shop I bought the first one from noted that Model 3’s were notorious for their unreliability and lack of durability. But hey, as long as it works, right?

UMD

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Can’t say they didn’t warn you

UMD is just the general title for PSP discs. This got way more traction as far as putting videos on it went. The videos looked better, like DVDs. Evidently there was 900MB-1.8GB of space to work with on the discs. Unlike with the Game Boy Advance Video format which had lockouts preventing you from playing your movie on the TV (in case you wanted to pirate the pixelated mess), the PSP has no such lockout and can plug directly into your TV. Or at least mine could.

The video selection is much more vast. Soooooo many discs. Family Guy seasons 1-3 come to mind right away (because I bought them off a friend, who threw away their original cases and had them in specially-bought UMD cases that I had to sort through). The first time I saw some movies, like Godzilla: Final Wars, it was on the UMD release. But as you can tell just by Family Guy and Godzilla being mentioned, UMD discs had a pretty broad set of videos put on them… and upon looking at my collection when desperately trying to reunite a loose UMD with its case, I found some films I didn’t remember having, one of which the venerable founder of this blog referenced to me a few times but I never understood because I never saw it.

Not A Fair Comparison

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No reason to include a UMD screenshot since it was basically the same as you’d get on a DVD, but here is a picture comparing UMD to DVD anyway. All that we say and do is right.

Yes, the PSP was principally in competition with the Nintendo DS. But Nintendo did not make any DS-Video releases, and as point of fact UMD movies only started coming out in 2004, the same year as Game Boy Advance Video. Nintendo’s next video attempt didn’t hit until the 3DS. This was called “Nintendo Video”, but didn’t seem to go far (and had content from notorious Leftwingers CollegeHumor, but this was in the pre-Trump time so maybe it wasn’t so bad). Since then video content has been relegated to stuff in Nintendo’s eShop, but by now with Netflix and the like available on your consoles (my mother’s friend uses her Wii for Netflix of all things) I guess stuff like UMDs and Game Boy Advance Video are going the way of the CD-I video.

Why’d They Do It Anyway?

Sony had the discs, Nintendo had the cartridges, and people like movies on the go. This was before Wi-Fi was everywhere. I in fact bought the PSP and some movies in part because I was going on a long trip, so I guess that means those reached their target audience of travelling teens. UMD allowed for quality transfers, and had more content than just programs aimed at younger audiences, so it makes sense that’d takeoff. It was also a cheaper alternative to portable DVD players- it cost me $50 in 2008 to buy one from a pawn shop, whereas that much money got me probably two UMD movies in 2006. Since people already had the hardware, why not take some movies on the go in a convenient travel size?

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If we’re going to dig deep and be honest with ourselves, we’d find that the largest flaw with GBA Video is they did not also include something where Tim Conway was doing his best to make the other actors break character with unscripted acts, like puppetry.

Now, this kind of thing wouldn’t make any sense today. And questions on the future of gaming are raised- what is the fate of having your own disc copy? Will we eventually just be playing Xbox games from Microsoft’s server farm, with the Xbox Three being merely a box with an internet connection? Enter your card, play online and pay as much as you would for the discs? It cuts down on distribution, for sure! Given the controversies about excessive paywalls in games and paid extra content, why wouldn’t we expect gaming companies to cut disc production from their expenses? With the popularity of outlets like Steam, and doing stuff like just buying the games online and downloading them to your console (I remember when I bought Rare Replay for the Xbox One and watched in horror as it simply downloaded the games to suck up memory space on my console, the disc contained almost nothing on it).

Its Future Is History

This will pose a major problem for game collectors in the future. Take this hypothetical: Lloyd Bridges Games creates “Super A Walk In The Sun”. We play it, it’s a good game, but it’s entirely online. The company goes out of business. All bonus content that was stored in their servers- GONE! All your save files stored in their servers- GONE! The game itself can’t be played anymore- GONE!

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The only reason I’m not mad at Lloyd Bridges Games’ Founder is that he turned down the role of Captain Kirk, allowing William Shatner to fulfill his destiny.

Or how about the problem with something like Rare Replay, where the disc only contained download codes. What if my Xbox One didn’t connect to the store? What if this is 20 years from now and Lloyd Bridges Games had put Microsoft out of business? Rare Replay would be worthless.

I saw an example of this in the store a few weeks ago. Final Fantasy XI. Unless you transferred to a Windows PC (not Apple, apparently) then all that time you spent on your console version meant nothing, and video game stores are full of copies of the game that are now unplayable. There is no single-player campaign in it, it’s entirely online. So what happens when Square dumps the Windows version too? I guess the same thing that happened to all of those PS2/Xbox 360 owners who only had Apple computers available or didn’t have the money to get a copy of Windows. Final Fantasy XI, part of one of the longest-running video game franchises, will be consigned to the depths of LostMediaWiki despite millions having played it and invested years in it.

Same can be said for any online game like that, such as ones for the Sega Dreamcast, but this was the first example that popped into my mind.

Flight Of The Intruder (NES, 1991, residual from the War Games series)

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It was ported to the NES in 1991, but still says 1990 on the title screen. Believe it or not, I played this game in July of 2018- it took 5.5 months to review it.

As promised, here is one of the leftovers I mentioned from the midterm series I did. I suppose I should’ve just finished up on a current events post I was working on, but I have less than 3 hours and my day job to do, so here we all are. Lesson learned: don’t gamble on your sleeping schedule.

The Game

It’s a fairly generic flight sim. It didn’t seem appreciably different from games like F/A-18 Hornet on the Game Boy Advance or G-LOC on the Game Gear. A step up from After Burner, but a step down from full-on flight simulator.

You takeoff from an aircraft carrier in an F-4 Phantom II, your thrust readout looks like the silhouette of a Harrier, you fight what appear to be F-18 Hornets, and then you bomb surface targets and land your airplane as the titular A-6 Intruder. Take a look at the pictures and tell me that I’m wrong.

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I’m willing to allow for the possibility that in this game you start as an F-4 to soften the enemy’s defenses, and then come in playing a separate pilot in an A-6 to attack surface targets. It would be nice if there was a definite transition indicating this was the case. Perhaps it was in the manual, I don’t know because I bought it used.

Flight_Of_The_Intruder-NES-Mission_MapThe first mission, the only one I could play because I could not land my plane, has you in the Gulf of Tonkin, so presumably this is happening during the Vietnam War, back when F-18s did not exist.

Aside from magical transforming aircraft, there isn’t much of note here. If you want a slower paced version of After Burner, this will work alright if you figure out the carrier landing portion.

Brief Background On The Game

It was released for computers first, and was almost as loosely based on the book it takes its title from as the movie “Battle of the Bulge” was based on the real event (I just watched it again last Sunday, so bear with the references to the 167 minute time eater).

What Would You Have Said If This Were Part Of The Midterm Stuff?

I would’ve lumped it in with After Burner, but then that post might have turned out way different. Granted, Vietnam I suppose was the prototypical Democrat war in some respects. The Democrats in Congress decided to bail on South Vietnam when a Republican was in office advocating continuing funding for South Vietnam, which as I mentioned would’ve led to a different outcome. We would naturally see this Democrat change on war with the Iraq War, which was fantastic when it started but quickly denounced by Democrats.

So that’s what they do when they have the advantage of not being in power- they support the war until it becomes unpopular in the public, or perhaps until they themselves make it unpopular just to score points against the Republican Administration. Then they denounce the war they once were united behind.

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I suspect she will run for President again in 2020. Conditions are favorable for her to win the DNC nomination- the media has a shortlist of 40+ candidates that will run for President. All Hillary has to do is win a little more than the others, which shouldn’t be a problem even if it’s her winning 5 votes compared to 4 for everyone else.

Democrats also learned something else- make your wars short. Even though Eisenhower started sending advisers, it was Democrats JFK and Lyndon Johnson who escalated our involvement. So we ended up with 18 years of Vietnam in one form or another, trying to save a friendly regime (and topple it to replace it with another friendly regime, because CIA or something). Now with Libya, Democrats showed they had studied well. Go in, destroy the guy you inexplicably hate after lying about what he’s doing (actually doing what they alleged George W. did), and then hurry on to the next headline.

No wonder Hollywood votes Democrat- it’s like a war movie to them! In “Battle of the Bulge” we don’t see the months of training or Nazi staff officers sitting around for hours doing the calculations about how much fuel a Tiger tank guzzles, we don’t see the rest of World War II up to that point, we just see a vaguely accurate dramatization of the battle (“vaguely” in the sense of if you squint real hard at a Ferrari Testarossa it will look vaguely like a Ford Focus). We don’t see what happens after the battle either- the fall of Berlin for example. Just like in Libya- Democrats hid the buildup with their shroud of lies which ignored how Gaddhafi was actually playing nice for years, and Democrats didn’t bother filming the aftermath either. Like anyone viewing “Battle of the Bulge” where everything not in the movie was ignored, everything not depicted by Democrats with Libya was ignored. At least until Trump came into office and they could finally start yelling at a Republican about the chaos Hillary Clinton created.

So… I guess I’m saying it wouldn’t look much different to what I said in the After Burner post afterall, since I covered the same Vietnam and Libya ground.

Anything To Say Now?

Not really. Hard to make this apply to Trump backing down on the border wall, Comey yet again saying nothing to Congress, Trump still not ordering unredacted FISA warrants on Carter Page be released, and noted liar Michael Cohen getting tangled in his own web. Look forward to me touching on some of these items coming up.

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You’ll be seeing this a lot if you can’t figure out how to land. I heard that Top Gun on the NES was quite similar to this game.