Video 5
Notes

Aug 29,
2014
Posted 3 hours ago

I almost didn’t cover Twin Cobra II, the 1995 shoot-em-up which happens to be the first game created by Takumi, one of the companies formed from the dust of Toaplan when they shut down in 1994. Although finished off by Takumi, most of the work was done while Toaplan was still active, which is why this game retains much of the spirit of its predecessor Twin Cobra and grandparent Tiger Heli. At first glance, there didn’t appear to be anything special to set this game apart from many I’d played before in the past. Then, as I often do,I played the game to see if there were any backgrounds or other graphics that I could extract (apart from the sweet helicopter/munitions image I’m using for the splash here), That’s when discovered something: there really is nothing special to set this game apart from many I’ve played before in the past and that’s okay.

Twin Cobra II is nothing more than a technologically updated take on games of the genre from the mid-to-late 80s, and it turns out that’s exactly what I was looking for today. The game offers pure, few-frills blow-it-up action, with no complex scoring mechanics or mental genius required to make the most of its mechanics. You have only three weapons, which can be upgraded only a few levels each, and lots of enemies to use them on. After the midpoint of the game, around the third stage, the challenge increases dramatically and the game heads into minor Bullet Hell territory, and that is something definitely to be aware of going in. The graphics here are clean, colorful and use subtle modern touches to separate themselves from ages gone by. For instance, the tilemap for every area is made up of three layers, but there’s no parallax scrolling; these layers are only there to provide depth to the field. Ground units like tanks will roll out from under treetops and become appropriately darkened when they move into the shadows cast by buildings—while everything in the air (including your helicopter) is unaffected. The soundtrack is really nice, with an impressive mix of slow, almost jazzy themes and faster. rock-inspired pieces. The sound balance is good as well; you can always hear the music even in the middle of unleashing fire on everything in sight.

The game isn’t without a couple of faults. The weapon selection is totally unbalanced; the green missile weapon is far and away the most useful in the game, since its heat-seeking ability counters the wide shot offered by the other two, and it does so much more damage than the others that using them makes killing enemies (especially the robust, multi-part bosses) almost a chore. Also, for the all the work you put in (and finishing this game is definitely hard), there’s no actual ending. I’m going to just spoil it here for you to avoid desk-slapping frustration: you’re only given a message that amounts to “Congratulations, you won” followed by “Game over” here. Even in spite of these qualms, Twin Cobra II is a nice demonstration of old-school ideas in a modern setting.

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  TAGS:  Twin Cobra II   Takumi   arcade   1990s games  
Audio 24
Notes

Aug 27,
2014
Posted 2 days ago

Ancient history - Game Sound Fusion. I came across this audio file while gathering up items for my video game radio station (which has seen some setbacks but will happen!) Apart from a single listen by my wife some years ago, the track has never been heard by anyone. Here is its story, which you may want to read before judging the questionable sound on display here.

In the late 90s, before MySpace existed, much less Tumblr, I was still trying to figure out my place in the larger world of gaming (as if I have now.) I was heavily invested in game music, and had designs on creating chiptune music (though the term hadn’t reached widespread use yet), before discovering just how difficult it was to get the music I could compose in my head into actual usage. The frustration, especially given the tools of the time, overrode any creative potential.

Instead, I considered another approach. What if I made video game arrangements? I’d heard some decent ones here and there, as well as some truly awful ones that destroyed the spirit of the originals (I’m looking at you, elevator music Rockman X Alph-Lyra), but I couldn’t play any music instruments. Then I considered remixing. That wouldn’t require me to have traditional “musical” ability but I could use the skills I’d developed in recording and editing video game soundtracks. I would take various official versions of game music and mix parts of them together. In theory, this would allow me to take the best sound portions and most notable voices from the arcade and various consoles and bring them together like some sort of hodgepodge orchestra. I needed a flashy, ridiculous name for it because that’s what the Japanese creators of soundtracks did for their productions as well. So, I called the idea “Game Sound Fusion.”

The first and only track I ever put together was this, the opening stage of Dragon Spirit. I used music from the arcade version of Dragon Saber (which includes Dragon Spirit musical tracks as a cheat code but unlike the original game’s hardware, splits the music into distinct channels which I could access in MAME instead of a single mono feed where everything bled together) as well as the Turbografx-16 version of the game and even a tiny, almost imperceptible hint of the NES port. I wanted to use the bright, vibrating C64 version as well, but at the time there was no PC playback software I knew of that would allow individual channels from the SID chip.

The process was lengthy. It took days and gave me huge respect for DJs and other music remixers, because it’s hard work. The result was not as nice as I expected. Although it’s a new way to listen to the great first stage music of the game, trying to sync up the instruments and beats of different releases, which could be off by just fractions of a second, was a trying experience. I eventually gave in and accepted a slight echo effect throughout the entirety. I also found myself without quite the breadth of musical sources I wanted which made adding to the arcade channels of the first half difficult. The second half of the piece, in which the lead voice of the Turbografx kicks in, is harsh and discordant (which is a sound I personally dig), but was the best I could do with TG-16 emulation at the time. I prefer the second half though because it does feel more like an ensemble piece, with percussion and background strings from the arcade, lead from the TG-16 and even a couple of bass selections from the NES.

I conceived of a whole album of tracks like this from games with sufficiently lengthy and memorable themes and which were ported to many systems—Space Harrier, Double Dragon, Final Fight, and so on. Will I ever get around to it now that emulation and computer technology has improved? Who knows.

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  TAGS:  Dragon Spirit   Namco   arcade   1980s games  
Video 29
Notes

Aug 26,
2014
Posted 3 days ago

Cutscenes and background images from TwinBee Yahho!, Konami’s 1995 entry in their TwinBee series. This was the last arcade installment of the series, and a great note to end on. While there have been later TwinBee games released over the years (one just came out last year for the mobile iOS), this was the last opportunity for arcade-goers to plunk quarters down and continue the saga of TwinBee and WinBee, the iconic, somewhat anthropomorphic ships of the franchise which answer the question of what outer space aliens in the Pac-Man universe might look like.

Don’t let the cutesy anime-esque faces and bright, pastelized colors fool you into thinking that TwinBee Yahho! is a cakewalk. That’s the same sort of venus flytrap-esque lure that the series has had from day one, but this final arcade game goes above and beyond the others in terms of challenge. It is quite remarkably difficult and will be beyond the capabilities of casual shoot-em-up fans to deal with. I went through several continues myself on the way to ultimate victory. Laden with the aforementioned arms, your ship makes a nice, fat target for enemies, who are quite aggressive. But the challenge of TwinBee Yahho! involves more than just quick reflexes; it’s about perception and awareness. There is so much going on in each stage that it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed by enemies and their fire from all sides and angles. The game unintentiontionally makes things even harder with its power up system. For those not familiar, TwinBee games feature unique “bell” items that you shoot to change colors (as well as juggling them around on the screen) and grab when they are the right color for the power-up you want. That would be a game unto itself, but coupled with both destroying and avoiding enemies, it can easily get frustrating. The clouds that drop these bells absorb your fire, making it impossible to get to enemies behind them. Considering a shot-blocking cloud with bells descends every time you lose a life, it actually makes it harder to get past the enemy that just took you out.

TwinBee Yahho! isn’t technically a Bullet Hell game. In many ways, it’s harder. There’s no zen-like state to be achieved here as you weave through the nearly microscopic hole in a cascade of hundreds of enemy projectiles. Here, all is frenzied chaos. But it’s a beautiful chaos, an immense challenge, and a quality game that ought not be overlooked just because of its cutesy trappings.

Short of importing Sega Saturn, Playstation 1 or PSP games from overseas, emulation is your only chance at this oft-unnoticed title. Few games from the TwinBee line were ever localized. In fact, unless you played the ancient NES game Stinger (aka Moero! TwinBee, the second game in the series) or the rare arcade export Bells and Whistles (aka Detana!! TwinBee), you’d never know of the existence of the series outside of Japan, and that’s a shame.

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  TAGS:  TwinBee Yahho   Konami   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 5
Notes

Aug 25,
2014
Posted 4 days ago

Welcome to the world of Twin Adventure, a 1995 gane from Barko that’s best classified as… Miscellaneous puzzler? It appears that a princess has been kidnapped by what appears to be a demon, and it appears that two young men (who are only twins insomuch as they both bear a disturbing resemblance to The Noid) will have to get her back—apparently, by performing various mental puzzle-related tasks.

I say “apparently” a lot above because you can’t be completely sure of what’s going on in Twin Adventure. It’s a game whose story and instructions were originally in the developers’ native Korean but then got translated into English for a worldwide release The result may be the most solid evidence yet of the existence of time travel because, with the exception of a typo, this sounds exactly like something out of Google Translate, which, of course, did not exist in 1995.

There are a lot of game types where you can get away with poor translations. Platformers. Fighting games. Shoot-em-ups. But a puzzle game, especially one which does not provide a demo tutorial when you begin playing, is not one of them. Actual instructions that preceded the first two of my randomly-chosen stages were, “Remember the thing in the morse of hippopotamus” and “Collect the above figure into the frikering box.” I eventually figured out that these were for a memory match game (hippopotamus faces would open, with things in their mouth you had to remember) and a sliding tile make-a-picture game (which does not in any way help me to understand the instructions.)

If you’re looking for an extra layer of challenge in your puzzle games—brought on by having to figure out just what the objective is in the first place—Twin Adventure has got you covered.

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  TAGS:  Twin Adventure   Barko   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 29
Notes

Aug 24,
2014
Posted 4 days ago

Art and scenes from Time Crisis, Namco’s 3D graphics shooter from 1995. It’s the first game in the Time Crisis series, and some of the cracks you would expect from an initial installment show. It’s one player only, the (three) stages are a little on the short side, and the graphics, well, they’re polygon graphics from 1995, so you know what to expect. That said, while the characters animate rather stiltedly, they look surprisingly good for the time, better than Namco’s own Tekken 2 which was released that same year. There’s a certain charm in their appearance that seems to mesh well with the cheesy plot and dialogue present in the game itself.

I enjoy the gunplay in this game a lot. Not only is the use of “taking cover” a novel innovation, but the game designers really take the notion of invading an enemy stronghold seriously: you’ll find no innocent bystandars here slowly ambling through the stages and popping up at the most inopportune moments. There are only bad guys here. When you see a human being in Time Crisis, you shoot them first and don’t bother with asking questions at all.

Wondering just what that guy in the last picture is going to do now that you’ve killed his boss? You won’t find out here. Early in the third stage, my version of MAME ran into a (documented) bug which causes an enemy helicopter to become invincible. Since you have to defeat all enemies in order to progress through any scene, that was effectively the end of my game. On the other hand, that means any potential surprise endings haven’t been ruined for you.

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  TAGS:  Time Crisis   Namco   arcade   1990s games  
Text 7
Notes

Aug 23,
2014
Posted 6 days ago

Pinball Arcade on Sale

A quick heads up, pinball fans. Pinball Arcade has announced (three days ago—I’m a little behind the times here) a summer sale—“until September”—on some of their offerings. Here’s a quick rundown, according to which system you might be interested in:

Steam: 50% off Season One Table set/Season One Pro Table set
PS3/PS4/Vita: Free Base Table set (Black Hole, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Theatre of Magic) - normally $8.99; 50% off Season One Table set/Season One Pro Table set
iOS: Free Base Table set (Black Hole, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Theatre of Magic)
Android: Base Table set (Tales of the Arabian Nights, Black Hole, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Theatre of Magic) for $0.99 [Android doesn’t allow free games]

The 50% off prices represent the lowest that the Season One sets have ever been, and I’m going to say right now that this price [$15 for the standard set] is a steal. The licensing costs and work involved in so many tables makes it extremely unlikely that we’ll see this set for a lower price in the foreseeable future. The Season One set contains 21 tables, my favorite of which is Twilight Zone, which I talked about way back in February of last year. The other tables in the set are: Theatre of Magic, Black Hole, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Medieval Madness, Bride of Pin•Bot, Cirqus Voltaire, Funhouse, Monster Bash, Gorgar, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Black Knight, Harley-Davidson 3rd Edition, Taxi, Elvira and the Party Monsters, No Good Gofers, Scared Stiff, Big Shot, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Attack From Mars, and Genie. Included for free with Pinball Arcade by default is Tales of the Arabian Nights (a great game in itself.) All told, this is an astonishing array of tables that should keep pinball fans busy for hours and is really handy for scratching that “pinball” itch when you’re at home. If it still doesn’t sound like a bargain, consider that this is less than 75 cents per table to play all you ever want, and you would likely pay 50 cents for a single play on any of these in a real arcade (like our local Ground Kontrol.)

Season Two, which also has a strong (but not as strong in my opinion) set of 19 tables, is not on sale. It is still a decent deal at its standard price of $30, but nowhere the phenomenal grab that Season One is right now. Season Three’s pricing structure changed significantly after its two older siblings, and costs as much as Season One or Two, but only contains 10 tables for $30. It’s still cheaper in the long run than what you could spend in the arcade, but I can’t really recommend it until you at least have the other two sets and really want the tables it contains.

As mentioned, Pro Table sets for Season One are also on sale, and while the 50% off definitely takes a hunk out of its cost, I still don’t find it worth it myself, but your mileage may vary. These special sets allow you to change various dip switches and operator settings on the tables, view indepth tips about gameplay, and even free-form move around the table to view bits of it up close, as if you really owned it. Season One only has five such tables, so even on sale, you’re paying $1 extra per table you can use this ability on. There’s no option to alter table incline, flipper or bumper strengths, and playing the table with any Pro Mode changes disables scoreboards and achievements. I’m passing on that myself.

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TAGS: Pinball Arcade   pinball   Farsight Studios  
Video 13
Notes

Aug 22,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Models and some basic stats for the fighter craft of Strikers 1945, Psikyo’s first entry in their Strikers series, this one released in 1995, fifty years after its namesake. The game is good, although like most Psikyo titles it’s a little on the short side. But this isn’t a full-blown review (suffice it to say that shoot-em-up fans should try this) but rather, I’d like to wax philosophical a bit.

What is it with Japanese game companies and games featuring World War II military battles—particularly air and naval battles which they suffered so heavily in? In the interests of full disclosure, Strikers 1945’s storyline places it after the end of World War II, with the piloted craft taking up the fight against some New World Order-style group. But let’s not kid ourselves with semantics; you can’t have an air combat game set in 1945 that isn’t really talking about World War II. At least Psikyo doesn’t take it to the exteme that Capcom does with its 1942 and 1943 line of games, glorifying the player for how well they decimate specifically-named Japanese warships like the Akagi and Hiryu. 

If my country had incurred the kind of losses and tragedies that Japan faced during this time period, I wouldn’t be making video games that task the player with blowing up our forces. Consider that these games are developed and marketed first to the Japanese population and then to the rest of the world. Is all this a form of atonement or self-flagellation? A subconscious effort to ensure that Japan and the world never forgets its defeats? Or is it just that they know players like to be on the winning side of a battle and the conflicts of World War II provide such a rich atmosphere for gaming? A psychologist would probably come up with more qualified explanations for this strange phenomenon than I.

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  TAGS:  Strikers 1945   Psikyo   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Video 13
Notes

Aug 21,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Character images from the almost unbelievably bad Street Fighter: The Movie arcade adaptation. The movie itself was bad—bordering on mentally damaging if you actually tried to interpret it as anything resembling an homage to the games—but this 1995 arcade release, developed by the same people who brought us Time Killers and Blood Storm, is just dreadful. It has fast action, sure, but that comes with sloppy fighting mechanics, torturous and nonsensical story progression (why in a game based on the movie does Guile fight Cammy? Why does every character fight themself?), and a lack of even the basic frills you would expect like win screens after a battle. Do you remember how I said I was disappointed with Street Fighter Alpha a couple of days ago? Forget I mentioned that. Street Fighter: The Movie cowers in Alpha’s shadow like a misbegotten and best-avoided sibling dropped on its head at birth. I’ll grant that the in-game motion capture characters don’t look bad, but it’s unlikely you’ll notice that as much as the fun that’s being sucked out of the game by its transgressions.

When you complete the game with any character, you get their ending, which features two moderately sized still pictures and text about what they proceeded to do after the game. This sweet, sweet release is easily the best part of the game, and so I captured ten of the most relevant character scenes here (leaving out Balrog, Vega and movie-specific characters Sawada and Blade.) I would ask for your pity if I’d actually had to slog through the game ten times to get these, but I wasn’t about to endure that, so I just used a save state on the final stage to reload and swap out characters until I beat it with everyone. I’m willing to do a lot for the sake of gaming history, but I’m not a masochist.

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  TAGS:  Street Fighter the Movie   Incredible Technologies   arcade   1990s games   Art in Video Games   Capcom   Street Fighter  
Answer 1
Notes

Aug 19,
2014
Posted 1 week ago
post/95201420573 It's interesting the way you phrased your synopsis review of Street Fighter Alpha, because the same could be said of the first Street Fighter III game [albeit arguably without the general success Alpha had (my understanding is that SF III was worse received in general that Alpha)]: a game that was widely speculated/anticipated, ended up being average/so-so compared to predecessors upon release, was greatly improved with subsequent sequels.
Anonymous asked

believe this is correct, although I haven’t done much research on Street Fighter III. It’s not a game I’m that fond of. Something about the art direction and character design really throws me off. I appreciated that, despite some of the thrown fireballs and fiery screen torpedo charges, the characters of Street Fighter II all seemed to at least be human (apart from Akuma, an optional character.) Necro and Gill throw that out the window and I find it distracting. I acknowledge that might not be fair of me, but it is what it is. The gameplay also didn’t really feel like my “style” the few times I tried it.

As it currently stands, I won’t be covering Street Fighter III or its subsequent games when I get to those years (starting in 1997) because I don’t have the hefty CHD (Compressed Hard Drive) files for those and some other late-90s/early-00s games. I may get my wife to grab some downloads for me, though, before we get there.

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  TAGS:  Street Fighter III   Street Fighter Alpha   Anonymous  
Video 25
Notes

Aug 19,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

When I was younger, in the days before the internet as we know it today (for example, when magazines still ruled gaming media), rumors were a rampant thing in gaming circles. Companies couldn’t immediately quash the sort of things players would be spitting out, nor did they necessarily want to. One big topic heading into 1995 was what the next true Street Fighter game would be following Super Street Fighter II Turbo. You know, the next game that wasn’t an iteration of Street Fighter II with a bunch of adjectives slapped on. Yes, jokes about that are twenty years old now.

These rumors as I recall them included everything from a Final Fight-style beat-em-up featuring Ken, Chun-Li and Guile as playable characters against Bison’s Shadooloo operation (which would have been awesome, by the by) to a 3D release, appropriate for Street Figher III.—which eventually happened in the Street Fighter EX series. One thing I never remembered reading was the possibility of a Street Figher II prequel game. I know it’s a lot fo ask for tough deductive reasoning on a Tuesday morning, but guess what kind of game we got?

Street Fighter Alpha is a progression of the Street Fighter series of games that takes place, chronologically, between Street Fighter and Street Fighter II. containing some characters from the original Street Fighter, some from Street Fighter II, a couple from Final Fight, and a couple entirely new faces. It is effectively Street Fighter 1.5, and yet the Alpha name was chosen. Beta would have been more appropriate, but didn’t sound as cool, I suppose. The Asian name, Street Fighter Zero, is even more confusing, since that makes it sound like it would precede the first game. Truly bizarre.

But enough about the name—what about the game? I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty big disappointment, and falls flat in my opinion. The character selection is interesting with its mix of past characters and new faces to fighting games (Final Fight’s Guy and Sodom, and new characters Rose and Dan), but there are only 10 to choose from by default—that’s almost 40% less than Super Street Fighter II’s roster. Only the Jackie Chan fighting games had less characters that year. The graphics are not Capcom caliber. The characters are alright, but look less impressive than Street Fighter II’s, with less detailed colors and what at least feels like fewer frames of animation. The backgrounds are a mixed bag, but many are a drab mess that look rushed (both poor color gradience and a stunning lack of animation or background characters) and some of them are just palette-swaps of each other. Maybe Capcom was trying for a retro feel here that, artistically, bridged the gap between 1987’s Street Fighter and 1992’s Street Fighter II, but it feels dated and unworthy of the series. The fighting is good, and has plenty of complexity if you want it (character AI ranges from nearly brain dead to frustratingly cheap), but the packaging smacks of a wasted effort. You’re better off going with Alpha 2 and Alpha 3, both of which feature mighty improvements in just about every area over this.

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  TAGS:  Street Fighter Alpha   Street Fighter Zero   Capcom   arcade   1990s games  
Video 6
Notes

Aug 18,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Scenes from Stakes Winner, a 1995 Neo Geo release from Saurus in the rather unusual genre of derby horse racing. Not betting for tickets that you can use to redeem on some sort of prize, mind you, but arcade-style horse racing for a high score position and glory. After picking one of eight horses, you’ll proceed through a series of races, steering, reining and whipping your horse as necessary to outrace the competition. Based on the stats (speed, strength, stamina) of the horse you select, you’ll need to find the right balance of conservative and aggressive behavior on the track. You can jostle with other riders and even grab power-ups (and power-downs if you’re not careful) in mid-race.

One of the (few) things I found interesting about the game was that the races weren’t entirely pre-fixed. In multiple games I faced different racetracks and even different weather conditions, like rain and muddied tracks. That wasn’t enough to elevate this above one-session-and-I’m-done curiosity, though.

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  TAGS:  Stakes Winner   Saurus   Neo Geo   1990s games   Art in Video Games  
Answer 1
Notes

Aug 17,
2014
Posted 1 week ago
post/95015383729 Those EGMs and Gamefans, did you get those from the Newsstand or were you a subscriber? If so, for how long? Are the PC Magazines yours or your wife's and were you or your wife a subscriber or picked those off the Newsstand?
Anonymous asked

I was a subscriber to EGM for many years. Starting around issue, I dunno, twenty or thirty, I held a subscription until the day the magazine shut down (and Ziff-Davis transferred my remaining subscription to Maxim, which I quickly canceled and got a refund for.) So, I have a lot of EGMs out in the garage. Gamefan was a different matter. I had a subscription for a time (in some of the magazines in my photo, you can see an address mailing box that I blanked out), but nowhere near as long because I started much later; they canceled that magazine in December 2000, which stopped my collection short. It was a good magazine, and I liked their approach. I should have bought them earlier.

The PC Magazines are entirely my wife’s; her household held a subscription for a couple years, which makes sense as she was more into the computer side of things than I was. The Comics Scenes are also hers—I only ever bought a couple issues of that.

Other magazines that I subscribed to at some point but weren’t in this box include GamePro, Nintendo Power, Official XBox Magazine, Official Playstation Magazine and Official Dreamcast Magazine. Many of those, since they were part of the new CD/DVD generation of consoles, came with demo discs that I still have lying around. Then there are the one-offs I would get on occasion like Edge and Nintendo Dream (which I imported an issue of from Japan just to get this mini-CD to complete my Nintendo Game Sound Museum Famicom set.)

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  TAGS:  Anonymous  
Video 8
Notes

Aug 17,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Ancient Loot, day seven - part two. So, I lied, but unintentionally. I forgot that while going through the magazines, I had snapped various shots of interesting advertisements, which I mentioned yesterday. These particular ads all come from around the 1999-2001 era, which, if I recall correctly, is very near to the end of when using live people and environments was the dominant form of video game advertising. Later, it simply became quicker and easier to use computer-generated imagery for advertisements. The technology wasn’t quite there yet for most companies in 2000 though, and as the NBA Live 2001 advertisement demonstrates, in-game graphics were yet to be super-impressive (as Nikki remarked, “he looks like he was taken apart and put back together by timber wolves.”)

Sadly, short of actually tearing apart and scanning in my magazines—something I am not going to do at this stage of my life—I can’t give full justice to these ads. Clumsy photos taken of magazines opened as far as I can go without creasing them is the best I can do here, but they still get the point across in most cases. There are some, like the Wild Arms 2 ad, that really suffer from the lack of high-res details, sorry about that.

If it looks like I’m featuring Sega ads heavily here, it’s not bias; they were marketing the Dreamcast very heavily and with, in my opinion, some really sharp (and sometimes disturbing, as in the case of Seaman) ads. Check out that Jet Grind Radio ad. The contrasting colors pop and grab your attention, which inevitably leads to you finding the indignant face of an old lady caught in a drive-by spray painting. Compare their advertisements for NBA 2K1 and NFL 2K1 (my favorite polygonal football game) with the NBA Live 2001 ad next to them. Sega goes for a creative approach and while you can argue that EA’s Roman-style text and talk of “centuries” is crafty, the actual text of their ad gives away the all-flash mindset: "Bench catapultin’ rainmakers. Nighty-night moves and how’d-he-do-that air shows. Think you got that kind of game?" I may have “that kind of game,” but that’s not the kind of game I want.

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  TAGS:  Ancient Loot  
Video 14
Notes

Aug 17,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

Ancient Loot, day seven. Short of finding something unexpected in the remaining boxes in the garage, this will be my last post here on stuff brought up from our old place in Louisiana. I will be posting more non-game items to my other Tumblr blog, though, if that interests you.

This box turned out to be less full of gaming magazines than I thought; once I got past the issues shown here, the remainder of the box turned out to be old PC Magazine issues (announcing such newfangled things as the upcoming Windows XP and the advent of 1GHz computing!) and Comics Scene. That makes sense as I do already have boxes chock-full of confirmed gaming mags in the garage; these must have been leftovers.

Why hold on to old magazines, anyway? Well, there’s obviously the nostalgia aspect. I can remember reading through these things when they came out; going cover to cover to check out all of the news, previews, reviews and the state of the industry. It was an easier prospect back then; today, the industry is so large and the information is so diluted and spool-fed that unless you check and read half a dozen websites every single day, there’s no way to keep up.

The historic archival component is what really gets me about these, though. It’s one thing to check out a Wikipedia article—even a really well-written one—on the history of some gaming company or other. It’s another entirely to have in your hands the information as it was announced at the time. You can’t replace that visceral feel, and the perceptions and reactions of people without the benefit of hindsight as we have it today. I mentioned yesterday that some issues being discussed in these 15+ year old magazines were still relevant today. I snapped shots of just a few of the developments back then that still ring out in the industry as I type this. I have articles on the death of the Dreamcast; the introduction of the XBox [“I see the XBox as an oddball system that’ll only appeal to enthusiasts (if it even comes out)”]; the rise of cell phone gaming, which would eventually become the mobile gaming scene of today; the advent of online gaming, which has become a dominant force of the industry; images from a time when cheat codes were still built into games and not stripped out for the sake of DLC sales, trophies or fair online play; and even the issue of game prices and development costs [“Will you pay $70 for Rare’s latest?” in 1999, and “a lot of developers are saying that stumping up the $5 million to produce a PS2 game is difficult for them.”]

Things like this provide us perspective nowadays of where the industry has truly come from, and in some cases how quickly. It lets us know that some of the perceived problems being faced today aren’t all that new, and many of them could have been foreseen if people had just sat down, read about them and considered it.

Man, I miss cheat codes.

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  TAGS:  Ancient Loot   EGM   Gamefan  
Video 12
Notes

Aug 16,
2014
Posted 1 week ago

I am two magazines into my box of 60 or more, and thus far I am disappointed. Not by the news about old games, discussions of antequated topics that were relevant in the day (and sometimes still are), or even mentions of GameMusic.com, the long-defunct site where I bought my first game soundtracks. That’s all good stuff!

No, it’s the advertisements that are bringing me down. There are some really good, novel ads in these old magazines that make use of settings, props and even live people in ways we just don’t see much today now that CGI and pre-rendered graphic screenshots have taken over media. Those are not the ads you see here. I will post about those later. These… These are the things that make me embarassed to have been a gamer during this time period—and sometimes today. The sexism involved here—the usage of women as nothing more than sex objects at best, is depressing. The most disgusting ad to me so far comes from Polaroid’s I-Zone, which not only features one of the creepiest looking dudebros I’ve seen, but implied it would be a “good laugh” to make it look like you were copping a feel on a woman and then upload it to the internet.

Thus far, one single video game advertisement has featured a woman as something other than a sexual prize, object of ridicule, or both, and that is Ornith’s Q-Ball Billiards Master, a PS2 game which features an intense looking woman as a pool shark on the cover of the game itself. She might even be facing off against the other woman for all we know! Maybe the man is just their arm-candy.

(Even here, we get a shot of cleavage due to the angle and choice of clothing, but I’m taking what I can get.)

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