Well, it’s the end of the year. When I wrote about visiting The Last Blockbuster back in August, I had promised a regular post as well as another I Bought Some Stuff article at some point. I’ve since fulfilled the former, and now it’s time for me to fulfill the latter.
Since the last I Bought Some Stuff, I’ve… kinda slowed down on buying things. That combined with my fluctuating mental health gave me little incentive to go out and shop. Though, when I did head out, I found some really neat things. This will cover May to December of this year, and mostly rides the gamut of music and video games. Let’s wrap up this year with some oddball stuff.
I will forewarn you like before that I will nerd out about music in this one, like I did in the last one. There are games in here, don’t worry!
Not long after the previous entry, I ended up checking a Goodwill around my neck of the woods right at the end of May. It’s not one of the usual places I visit, I was doing something that required me to be around that neighborhood and I figured since there was a Goodwill nearby I might as well poke inside. Well, I’m glad I did.
- Back in the High Life by Steve Winwood
- El Oso by Soul Coughing
- The Futureheads’ self-titled debut album
- Mission: Impossible and Other Movie Hits by The American Film Orchestra.
Already I’m starting with some rather eclectic choices. Hey, I never said my purchases make sense!
Back in the High Life is one of those albums that we already have but was in terrible condition, so this is one of those “replacement” discs. Much like a lot of ’60s-era musicians, Winwood mounted a brief comeback thanks to “Higher Love,” which was a Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit. The title track is alright, but otherwise the whole album is inoffensive yuppie pop music. Stereogum’s Tom Briehan in his article covering Billboard number one hits, called “Higher Love” white man’s overbite music, and I agree with him.
El Oso may not be an album you’re familiar with, but if you’re a Person of a Certain Generation and watched a fair share of Cartoon Network in the mid-to-late ’90s, you’re probably familiar with their song “Circles” being used as a montage for Hanna-Barbera cartoons, almost in a proto-Anime Music Video sort of way:
Another song from this album, “Rolling,” was also used the same way as a music video, set to a Betty Boop cartoon. I honestly grabbed this album because I remember those songs, and thought it might be an interesting listen.
The Futureheads are one of those 2000s indie rock bands that populated the landscape around that time. I’m familiar with them because one of their songs, “Decent Days and Nights,” made it into the Burnout 3: Takedown soundtrack courtesy of EA Trax. (Remember EA Trax? That was definitely A Thing.) I basically grabbed it only for that, and also because they covered Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love,” and considering how “Running Up That Hill” was gaining traction thanks to Stranger Things, I figure it was nice timing to get this.
Finally, one of my go to YouTube channels is Oddity Archive, where Ben Minnotte covers the pop culture and technology obscura. One of my favorite series from him is Record Ripoffs, where he’ll cover the myriad of knockoff albums “performed by The Original Artists*” and how they stack up to the original article. That album was basically me being curious how a composer made an album to capitalize on a big Hollywood hit at the time — in this case, 1996’s Mission: Impossible. And according to the album, this is literally one guy, Lee Johnson on keyboards. It’s… an interesting listen.
It took me a while to try again. Alongside visiting The Last Blockbuster, I along with my partner Cass checked a Goodwill in Bend to do some thrifting in a place that wasn’t my usual places. And sure enough, I found some pretty interesting things.
$2: Men In Black: The Album by Various Artists
This was a hell of a coincidence to find. I had recently watched the Men In Black films with a few friends, and thought this was a treat to find. Granted, considering what happened with Will Smith since, it probably feels disgusting to own anything that Will Smith worked on, but hey, “Men In Black” is a bop. And there’s probably some good R&B stuff in here too. The Roots! Snoop Dogg! Destiny’s Child! De La Soul!!
Honestly I kinda miss the days of soundtrack albums with a bunch of songs that weren’t really related to the film. Feels like a dying breed these days in the Age of Streaming. Maybe they’re still around and I need to look more.
$4: Close Combat: First to Fight (PC)
Our first game! So, when America’s Army got popular around the early 2000s for being a video game that doubled as military recruitment propaganda, naturally every other military branch in the USA got in on the act. the Navy SEALs worked along with Sony and Zipper Interactive to make the modestly popular SOCOM series of games. Even places like the National Guard got into the game with the abysmal PRISM: Guard Shield, a game I wrote about way back in 2012.
This is another one of those military games, that features a lot of sponsorship from the United States Marine Corps, so much so that the packaging uses the typical Marine in his uniform with a sword up. Despite that, the cover very plainly states that “The United States Marine Corps nor any other component of the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed or authorized this product,” so this is baffling.
Developed by Destineer’s game development arm, this is a squad driven first-person shooter much like Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon around that time. It’s probably a solid, mostly forgettable game, but I’d like to give it a try sometime next year, as I am just outright fascinated by these kind of games.
$5: Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30 (PC)
Granted, I didn’t need to grab this. I already own and have beaten this on the Xbox, but I figured at this point the PC versions are probably the more definitive ways to play these.
Brothers In Arms was a WWII shooter that mixed the typical FPS with squad tactics, complete with a real time strategy-like angle, this was probably one of the more interesting games that came out during that period. And this would basically be the first original game that Gearbox Software did that wasn’t based on another developer’s IP like Half-Life or a licensed property like 007: Nightfire.
It wasn’t Borderlands big, but it was enough for people to give Randall S. Pitchford II a stab at making bigger, more ambitious games. A shame that in the years since, Randy Pitchford’s antics have tainted an otherwise inoffensive game company.
I wonder if we’re getting close to this franchise getting a comeback. I liked the concept of it being more of a strategy game than an FPS. And I mean an actual comeback, not that “Furious 4” proof-of-concept that was gonna rip off Left 4 Dead and basically became the trainwreck that was Battleborn.
Cut to October. It’s spooky season, so I figured it’s time to head to a Goodwill and find some good stuff. And boy, I found some interesting stuff.
$2: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis
An iconic britpop band that made immense waves in the UK and the USA, so much so that they were constantly called the new Beatles. Then the tale of the two Gallagher brothers constantly bickering and overambitious third album cratered their legacy.
They’re a solid band with some good hits. Can’t wait to listen to them proper. I really don’t have much to add here. Another “replacement” album because the original got lost. Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.
$4: Slingo Mystery: Who’s Gold? (PC)
Okay, when I saw the Slingo logo on a DVD case, I had to check to see what the heck this was about. Apparently it’s a Hidden Object game with bonus Slingo minigames?! Either way, I was curious and couldn’t resist grabbing it, just to see what it was all about. Hidden Object games are one of those genres that have become immensely popular among the casual gaming audience, and I’ve always been amazed at how popular they are.
But more than anything, I wonder where the heck Slingo comes into play here. I know the brand was being tossed around like a hot potato around this time, but this just seems bizarre. I genuinely have to give this game a try in the new year.
$7: The Last of Us (PS3)
Everyone keeps talking about this game. The sequel, Part II came out in 2020 to critical acclaim, and not only did this get a remaster on PS4, it’s getting remade for the PS5 and PC in 2023! So, rather than give Sony money to fund PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan’s bizarre AAA Hollywood obsession, I just went and bought the original game.
Naughty Dog is a developer whom I hold with high regard. They make good video games, but it also feels like this was the turning point where they stopped making fun action games and tried to really dig into the “dark, strong, emotional” games that get fawned by critics, basically becoming the oscar bait of gaming. I bet The Last of Us is a solid game, but with how overhyped this franchise has been treated over the years has me definitely going in with little expectations.
And it’s not like I haven’t played it before, I tried it very briefly on PlayStation Now years ago. Remember PSNow? That cloud gaming service that’s probably serviceable but not really a reliable way to play old video games? I know it’s still around, but I only found interest in it because of some of the junk on offer. I played stuff like Bodycount and Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard on that service, and that’s the kind of stuff I’d want to play on it.
Not long after, I went to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, which was having its first expo in two years. The COVID-19 pandemic ravished a lot of local stuff, which meant they didn’t have the expo in 2020 or ’21. Thankfully I went to the expo without catching it, and got myself a decent amount of stuff.
- McCartney II by Paul McCartney (cassette)
- Heartbeat by Don Johnson (cassette)
- Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 by Daryl Hall & John Oates (cassette)
Since I talked about unearthing my old My First Sony cassette player back in September, listening to a bunch of tapes, naturally I was on the hunt to find more of that. Granted, while it is the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, a lot of other folks sell their retro wares as well, and that includes an absolute gamut of tapes at one vender.
McCartney II was really only for one thing: “Temporary Secretary.” An absolute goof of a song that’s become an absolute meme. I guess having “Coming Up” was nice too.
The reason I used a crude shot of me grabbing them rather than the usual framed shot everything else has is because in the months since I bought these tapes, I actually destroyed McCartney II by accident.
When I initially got this tape, it was missing the adhesive foam pad on it, having fallen off. I tried gluing it back on, which worked. Then I got an actual set of replacement adhesive pads for tapes and tried to replace McCartney II with one of these. Since it was glued, I destroyed the metal bit that the foam pad was on while trying to remove it. I ended up throwing away the tape afterwards. It’s a tragedy, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time listening to Temporary Secretary on my dumb little tape player. Plus hey, doesn’t mean I won’t find another copy.
Heartbeat is kind of a meme in itself. Miami Vice star Don Johnson had some connections and decided to make a pop album, which has all the 1980s hallmarks of gated reverb and smoky saxophones. The title track’s alright but I’m more partial to songwriter Wendy Waldman’s original version.
Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 is why I need to look more into greatest hits albums on cassettes. Daryl Hall & John Oates are one of my favorite R&B groups, with a myriad of soft ballads and catchy jams. In addition to the new songs “Say It Isn’t So” and “Adult Education,” this has basically all the songs that made them famous before stuff like “Out of Touch.”
- Bee Movie Game (Wii)
- Medal of Honor (2010, PS3)
- Quake 4 (360)
All of these were at one booth. Got some particularly interesting ones.
So there’s this guy I kinda know who collects copies of Bee Movie. I don’t know why he does, but hey. Since he’s a Portland native, I decided to make it my mission to find a copy of Bee Movie or the associated Bee Movie Game. And on Sunday morning, I caught him slipping. I don’t know if the game’s any good, but hey, can’t be too bad. Do need to get it resurfaced, though.
Now Medal of Honor 2010 might be a headscratcher for some of y’all. “But bev,” you’re probably asking, “don’t you already have this? Why buy it again?” Well, honestly it’s because the PS3 version comes with a bonus on the disc: Medal of Honor: Frontline HD. Yeah, this is one of several PS3 games where they make use of the extra space on a Blu-ray disc and just add in a game or something to the mix.
There is a downside: my copy has a very tiny hole on the surface layer of the disc. If this happens, this means data will likely be corrupted. And this was the case when I tried to install Medal of Honor: Frontline HD: It kept giving me errors while downloading to my PS3. Oh well, finding replacement copies shouldn’t be that hard. And I might wanna get around to it soon, as the servers for the multiplayer are shutting down in early 2023!
Quake 4 is the same reason: It’s a release from the launch window, where it came with some behind-the-scenes stuff, including a port of Quake II. This was only in the original Activision published version of Quake 4, later budget releases by Bethesda after the id acquisition omitted the Quake II bonus disc. This is something I had to check, as the booth had both the original pressing and the later budget pressing. Heard this version is kinda rough to play as it was a launch title, but hey, I’ve played games on lesser setups and suffered through them.
- Starsky & Hutch (Xbox)
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (360)
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (360)
My Call of Duty experience has a considerable gap between Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. I’ve played the multiplayer for these, but never their campaigns. These will be interesting to play, especially Advanced Warfare as that’s around the time that the Xbox One/PS4 versions of games were starting to look and run better than their “last-gen” counterparts. I also saw Black Ops III on 360 but they were asking $12, and that’s too much for a game that basically had a troubled history.
Starsky & Hutch was a game I grabbed and then immediately got rid of. Back in 2019 I wrote about finding the Silent Scope Light Rifle at a thrift store. In the years since it had been collecting dust. I didn’t have a TV that could run it, let alone any game that could support it. I wanted to get rid of it for a while, but I wanted to make sure it went to a good home.
When I found out Derek Alexander of Stop Skeletons from Fighting was gonna be at Portland Retro Gaming Expo, I packed up the Light Rifle, snagged a copy of Starsky & Hutch as that’s one of the three light gun games on the Xbox — the others being the aforementioned Silent Scope and The House of the Dead III — and handed it to him as he was trying to do an experiment of playing 16-player Faceball 2000. I hope it eventually gets a treatment on the channel at some point, because if I can’t do it, I might as well give it to someone who might.
$6: Far Cry Vengeance (Wii)
Okay, this one was a sheer garbage purchase. One of the Wii’s launch titles, this was a Far Cry game back before Ubisoft used the free-roaming formula of climbing towers and infiltrating bases. This was during the era where they saw the mutants in the original PC Far Cry and decided to go that route by making it so your character could have mutant powers.
It’s in the same vein as Far Cry Instincts and Instincts Evolution, the other console-centric Far Cry games. Though contrary to popular belief, this is a unique installment and not a port of Instincts Evolution as some like to claim. I figure that comes down to Vengeance using the same cutscenes as Instincts Evolution and it getting misinterpreted as just a port of that game.
Oh yeah, this game looks and runs terribly. I’m not a tech snob by any means, but the Wii was not built for Far Cry Instincts‘ style of gameplay. Even if you gave this game another six to twelve months it would probably be pretty rough. With this and Red Steel coming out, people expecting a good Wii FPS was still a bit of a ways away.
$3: Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 (360)
I’ll admit, I have a fascination with Cabela’s video games. During the 2000s to early 2010s, you just couldn’t get away from them. They were everywhere, like clockwork, often published by Activision and either developed by Cauldron (based in Slovakia) or FUNLabs (based in Romania). Whether they were actually any good is up for debate.
That’s kinda why I bought it. Will it be good or just janky trash? Guess I’ll have to find out for myself.
$5: Who Wants to be a Millionaire 2nd Edition (GBC)
I find this game fascinating. A port of the Jackbox Games (back then known as Jellyvision) game on PC and PlayStation 1, this was handled by Eurocom, who did a fairly faithful adaptation. Also it has Jake Kaufman arranging Keith and Michael Strachan’s wonderful Who Wants to be a Millionaire score for the GBC sound chip with absolute success.
I might need to write about this at some point…
$10: Critical Path: How to Review Videogames for a Living by Dan Amrich
This was an impulse purchase. I’m familiar with Dan Amrich’s work going back to the days of him being “One of Swords,” Activision’s overall community manager. He’s pretty much kept that going, now doing community management and support for Digital Eclipse on their recent games, like Atari 50. He always seemed like a real neat and fascinating dude from the things I’ve heard from him, so I expect this will be an interesting read.
Finally, we cut to yesterday. I felt like I wanted to find something good alongside doing some post-holiday shopping, so I checked a nearby Goodwill as well as a local thrift store. The latter I’ve covered before as that’s how I found El Matador, complete with the original GameStop receipt. It’s been a decent place to find good stuff. Though it also made me realize how much downtown Portland has changed from what I remember: One Goodwill I used to go to has been converted to a liquor store now. I felt a bit of melancholy when I found that out.
$4: Spider-Man (PC)
Oh hey, one of the rare cases of finding a PC game just shoved in with the music CDs because they used jewel cases. This is the game based on the Sam Raimi film of the same name, published by Activision and developed by Treyarch and Gray Matter Interactive. These games were held with high regards, and I figure this will probably be somewhat enjoyable.
At least it’s not like the PC game based on the second film. While on consoles they got a game that was so revered that people keep referencing that game as the Gold Standard for Spider-Man games, the PC version got a severely watered-down version that was made more kid friendly. Absolutely baffling, really.
$5: Madden NFL 18: The G.O.A.T. Edition (Xbox One)
My first physical Xbox One game! And it had to be a damn sports game from a few years ago!
As far as I know, the difference between this and the base edition is the chance to play as a legendary player, some Ultimate Team stuff, and the chance to play the game a few days earlier than everyone else. Also this was the first Madden to use the Frostbite engine instead of the previous year’s Ignite engine. And apparently that hasn’t lead to good results for the franchise.
I will admit my Madden experience is very little. I’ve played some of the Genesis games as well as some of the more recent installments, so I really bought this more as a lark than anything. I don’t even have an Xbox One or an Xbox Series console to play this on yet, so it will stay there unused until I find a console for me to futz around with for an hour before quitting. Maybe I can channel my inner Jon Bois and Kofie Yeboah and do my own version of Breaking Madden.
$1.20: Mini Ninjas (360)
A dirt cheap bargain for a cutesy little action game made by the same developers who brought us the violent Hitman series of games. Released in that time before Eidos became a scapegoat for Square Enix, this is probably a serviceable little action game. Also at that price, I couldn’t say no.
$1.20: Cabela’s Monster Buck Hunter (Wii)
Much like getting Dangerous Hunts 2011 earlier, I just wanted to see what this game’s deal was about. It being $1.20 because the thrift store does end-of-month sales, thus I couldn’t resist at that price.
I also saw a few other games there, including Titanfall and Battlefield 4 for Xbox One. I nearly grabbed those, but since I already own those on Origin, I’d have to have a good reason to grab them on console. Now, if it was the 360 version of Titanfall then I would’ve grabbed it in a heartbeat. (Not Don Johnson’s.)
And that’s everything. I’ve found a fair share of absolute junk these days. Which might have some of you wondering if I’m okay or not. Well, I am. But to be honest, and I’ve alluded to this before, but the modern AAA gaming landscape is kinda uninteresting to me now. While I do play things like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, I’ve mostly fallen out of keeping tabs with current stuff. This is partially due to me not really checking out new stuff often.
So to compensate, I usually look at stuff that may have gotten overlooked. Stuff that seems bizarre. Or in some cases, picking up popular stuff years after it was popular. Which is kinda my MO these days when it comes to a lot of media. I don’t want to be a cynical bastard, after all.
Plus, some of this stuff I get is prime blog fodder. Granted, I also have stuff from years back that I also prepared for a blog, but I’m gonna try to change that up for 2023.
For all those who stuck around with me this year, thank you. From sharing posts, to leaving comments, to even helping me in some regards, I really appreciate it. When I started this blog way back in 2012, I wanted to have a place to share the fascinating dumb stuff that maybe others might like too. And now that I’m still at it ten years later, it’s probably my most proudest accomplishment.
Will I still be here writing about stuff ten more years from now? I hope so, but I try not to think that far ahead.
And a super special thanks to all the people who pledge to me on Patreon. I’d been doing this as a labor of love for many years, and I wasn’t really expecting to get any support ever, but it’s slowly grown over the past few years, and I really appreciate anyone who supports me.
If you want to support me for future articles, you can do so here. You don’t have to pledge to support me, but it certainly helps, especially in this economy.