Well, 2023 is almost over. It’s been a tough time around in my neck of the woods, which has affected me writing any substantial articles, and I apologize for this. I’ll try to get back into the swing of things in the new year.
For many years, I’ve documented the stuff I bought because I find it interesting. Around 2022 I started a new format where I post updates every June and December. Naturally, I’ve been keeping tabs of the stuff I bought throughout the year, and since we’re near the end I thought I’d give a recap. Lots of games and really… interesting things. At least to me, anyway.
My collection story resumes in August. My partner and I went to a fancy little restaurant for brunch with a few friends that used to be the home of a pharmacy long ago. So much so that the current owners have embraced that location’s past, which is pretty neat. Better than the sports bar motif it used to hold for a few years. After having brunch with a few friends downtown, me and my partner went to a nearby thrift store that’s about a block or two away from the nearby restaurant we went to. Sadly I didn’t grab a whole lot, but I did grab something that caught my eye:
50¢: Alistair MacLean’s Death Train by Alistair MacNeill
Okay, this one’s a doozy. Alistair MacLean was one of those notable thriller novelists. He passed away in 1987, but before he passed on, he made an outline for a new series of books about UNACO: the “United Nations Anti-Crime Organization.” He wrote the story ideas, of which other authors would put them into actual books. I thought this was unusual, but this is surprisingly more common than I thought. Such as novels in the Ubisoft Tom Clancy games would be written by other writers; or for a more recent example, William W. Johnstone’s books being continued by his daughter J. A. Johnstone.
I am not much of a fan of thriller novels, but I bought this book because I remember a TV movie adaptation released around 1993 called Detonator: Death Train. It starred a pre-James Bond Pierce Brosnan, Patrick Stewart towards the tail-end of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Alexandra Paul, Ted Levine, and freakin’ Christopher Lee. Pretty decent cast for a TV movie, honestly.
A trailer for the film that aired on USA Network around April 1993 (shown above) was being repeatedly promoted during USA Network’s 4-hour game show block that I had recorded around this time. Since I watched these tapes religiously when I was young, this particular promo has been burned into my brain. I eventually picked up a DVD copy of the film many years later and it’s a surprisingly alright movie, all things considered. It even got a sequel, Night Watch, which features a long-haired, handlebar mustachioed Pierce Brosnan. Bet it’s just as goofy as the first.
I bet the book itself is a decent read. If not, hey, it’s a paperback I spent fifty cents on. I’m always looking for things to read when I’m bored, and need something to pass the time besides scrolling on social media all day.
Cut to October. It’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo time! Something I’ve written about going to for years at this point, and this year was no exception. This time, with my partner alongside meeting a few folks I’ve known online for years but never met in person, this was a wonderful time. And of course, I grabbed some retro video games for cheap. And by retro, I mean 360, PS3 and Wii games, because those are pretty much retro games now. (I am slowly decaying as I finish writing this paragraph.)
$2: NBA 07 (PS3)
Remember the time when Sony made sports games besides MLB: The Show? If you don’t, lemme give a quick refresher: Sony’s NBA series of games tackled the burgeoning basketball game genre, mostly as a rival to EA’s NBA Live and Sega/2K’s NBA2K, and it was the first of them to bow out during the late 2000s. Sony released these games yearly through most of the PS2 and PS3 generations up until 2009 or so, before moving strictly to supporting MLB: The Show, of which they still make to this very day.
This game’s important, not just because Kobe Bryant is on the cover (a legend gone too soon), but because it boasted “FULL 1080p VIDEO”. Yeah, Sony was really touting this feature a lot in the early years of the PS3, but then they realized very quickly how silly this was, since the age of HD gaming was still in its early growing pains here in the US around this time.
Though, in hindsight, I should’ve grabbed the PS2 version of NBA 07,as that featured a mode called “The Life, Vol. 2,” which is a create-a-character story mode where you rise up the ranks from being a random nobody B-baller to an NBA superstar. I’ve been fascinated by sports games trying to do story modes, and this one is no exception. I doubt it would’ve been as interesting as NBA 2K16, which featured a campaign mode that was A Spike Lee Joint, but I digress.
I bet this will be alright for 2006-era basketball games. I paid two bucks, I’m not going into this with high expectations.
$8: Unreal Tournament III (PS3)
Since Epic Games has basically scrubbed Unreal to the point where all the major Unreal games have been delisted off digital storefronts, I decided it was my duty to grab this. Tim Sweeney can’t take this copy away from me, at least.
This was the last full Unreal Tournament game – I don’t really count that early access one they released in 2014 that was mostly forgotten and eventually shuttered once Fortnite made hojillions of dollars – and for some reason it had a style that reminds me of that grungy, dark Gears of War look that was popular at the time. I played this on a Steam free weekend on PC long ago, it seemed… perfectly fine? Not as amazing as the original 1999 Unreal Tournament but not a slouch either, it was just a case of arena shooters being on their way out.
The PS3 version of UT3 is notable because it had mod support, where creators could make mods for UT3 and have them work on the console version. An interesting novelty that would be the backbone for creations in many other games, including Fortnite. Here’s hoping it actually still works. If not, hey, I bet the campaign mode will be decent. At least I’ll likely be able to use a hoverboard and do taunts like “AWW SMACK!”, like this classic YouTube video from many, many years ago:
$8: Medal of Honor (2010, PlayStation 3)
“But bev,” you’re probably asking, “didn’t you already buy this already last year?”
Yes. I bought it for one reason: Medal of Honor Frontline HD, exclusive to the PS3 version of the game. Them using all those extra gigabytes of storage thanks to the wonders of Blu-ray disc.
Sadly, the copy I bought last year had a visible scratch on the label layer, which you don’t want, as the label is the reason the data stays there in the first place. I noticed this when I got error messages when downloading Frontline HD to my PS3. So I bought another copy for slightly more this year. This time it downloaded perfectly. The downside is that now I have 3 copies of this damn game: One on Steam, two on PS3.
Maybe I can use the extra copy as a coaster.
- Hour of Victory (360)
- Cabela’s Survival: Shadows of Katmai (360)
- Need for Speed: The Run – Limited Edition (360)
All of these were at one booth, so I’m grouping them together.
Hour of Victory is a really atrocious World War II game made in Unreal Engine 3. One of Midway’s last major games they published before they folded during the 360/PS3 era, I’ve heard nothing but bad things about this game. Coming out around 2007 when WWII games incredibly passe, and what with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare looming on the horizon, this game was just dead on arrival.
Though, I have a soft spot for broken, janky games like these, and I couldn’t resist grabbing it. While publisher Midway is gone, developer N-Fusion Interactive, is still around, with some of their recent work being stuff like 1979 Revolution: Black Friday and an HD remake of Deadly Dozen.
This year I tried to look for more Cabela’s branded video games. I picked up Monster Buck Hunter and Dangerous Hunts 2011 last year, and now I can add this one to the collection. This one tries to be more like a third person action game in the vein of stuff like Uncharted. Oh, it also supported the Top Shot Elite, a lightgun made specifically for these games. A shame I couldn’t find one of those in a booth somewhere.
Finally, Need for Speed: The Run. EA Black Box’s final Need for Speed title before being shuttered, and the only one they made where they were forced to use DICE’s Frostbite engine – an engine made for first-person shooters and not much else – to make it. It has a hokey story and is probably one of the more “cinematic” installments in the series. I just wanted to see how bad it truly is.
That is, if it works. Much like EA’s many other past games, the servers for this game shut down back in 2021. I haven’t tested it for myself before writing this article, but I heard that this game is straight up unplayable now, as it requires to ping the game servers to play the game, even in the offline singleplayer story mode. So I might have another coaster in my collection. Maybe it’ll work if I just play it offline and just not connect to Xbox Live…
In hindsight, I should’ve looked out for the Wii version of The Run instead. Kacey, a content creator I follow, made a video about that version and it looked incredibly bad, which definitely sounds like something up my alley:
- The Club (Xbox 360)
- Wolfenstein: The New Order (Xbox 360)
- Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
Again, this was all at one booth. Probably the most I spent in one place. But it was early on Sunday and I was on the hunt for certain games.
The Club is a score driven third-person shooter. You had characters with special abilities fighting through various arenas and powerups to grab. One of the rare times Bizarre Creations would dabble outside the racing game genre, but it was a big flop. If you’ve ever played 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, then it wouldn’t take long for you to get familiar with The Club’s mechanics.
I picked up this version rather than grabbing it on Steam, because the PC version is one of the few games that still requires Games for Windows Live, Microsoft’s futile attempt to bring an Xbox Live-like service to PC in the late 2000s. While the PC version probably works, the game itself might suffer from issues on modern systems. Turns out closed platforms like the Xbox 360 are pretty useful in this regard, as I can put this game in my system and it’ll just work. Here’s hoping this is a fun little romp.
Wolfenstein: The New Order is a wonderful reboot of the mostly dormant shooter franchise. Machinegames did a good job bringing Wolfenstein back to life, blending fast-paced action and easy stealth while having what is probably the best dual-wielding combat I’ve seen in an FPS that’s not like, TimeSplitters or something. It came out in 2014, just as the Xbox One and PS4 were off and running. But Bethesda must’ve saw a chance to pander to the millions of gamers who were still clinging to the last generation, thus The New Order got ported over.
Fun fact: This game is on four DVDs on 360. The PS3 version might’ve been a better call to grab, but hey. I fully expect this to be a serviceable if low-fidelity version of the existing game. And I liked The New Order. Maybe those Sony fanboys who were boasting how Metal Gear Solid 4 would’ve been on a dozen DVDs if ported to Xbox 360 were on to something…
I stopped following the Ratchet & Clank games once they hit the PS3 era. Maybe it was because I had – and still kinda have – a bit of a PC gaming bias, but I never really got to play the later games in the series. Thought I might as well grab the first PS3 installment, which will likely be just as good as the previous games on PS2, just prettier. And has superfluous SIXAXIS features, because it is an early PS3 title.
The main problem I had was that there were so many Ratchet & Clank games on the PS3 that I forget which ones are the main titles and which ones are the spinoffs. They put out like, 5-6 of those games during the PS3’s life, and the last one I remember is like, All 4 One, which was a gimmicky co-op title that also had support for PlayStation TV, that TV that supported a pair of 3D glasses. Remember when they tried touting 3D gaming in the late 2000s? That was… something.
- Need for Speed: Undercover (Xbox 360)
- Terminator: Salvation (Xbox 360)
All at another booth. You know the drill.
Another Need for Speed game! This time, the one Black Box made after ProStreet. This was them returning to form and going back to the Most Wanted (2005) and Carbon style of street racing and cop chases. Also this game has absolutely ridiculous live action cutscenes which I bet will be an absolute hoot to watch. Still need to find some of the other Need for Speed titles.
Okay, so Terminator: Salvation is a licensed title made to tie-in to the fourth Terminator film. Y’know, the one that took place actually during the war of the machines with humans vs Skynet, which had Christian Bale as John Connor? Don’t remember that one? It’s okay, most of us have slowly agreed that the Terminator franchise pretty much stops at T2 and doesn’t go any further. Maybe you can make an argument for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but everything after Terminator 2 has been junk. Even Dark Fate, which had James Cameron himself producing was apparently not very good! (I have not watched these movies, to be fair. Maybe they’re fine.)
Terminator: Salvation the game is interesting: It’s made by GRIN, the makers of Bionic Commando Rearmed and the PC versions of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter that play differently than the 360 counterparts. Thing is, Terminator Salvation was the TKO that basically killed the company, as they also put out Wanted: Weapons of Fate and the 2009 Bionic Commando reboot around within months of each other, presumably to hopefully make some cash to stay afloat. So yeah, I’m not going in with high expectations. At least it has an easy achievements list.
Honestly, I might look into these games more. I own all three of them, and I think it could be an interesting thing to play and maybe write about. Maybe for next year.
$6: GSN Presents: Family Gameshow (Wii)
I haven’t forgotten about the Wii. The problem is now all the good stuff on the system is like $30 or more. So I have to settle with the C-tier quality stuff like this.
This is a typical shovelware title that’s game show themed which features minigames and trivia and whatnot. Sponsored by Game Show Network, which was the go-to game show channel for many years, until Fremantle decided to make their own game show channel and graced us with Buzzr just a few years later.
Funny enough, this GSN branding only applies to the North American version. Releases of the game in Europe don’t have any channel branding. Bet this ended up in the bargain bins pretty quick over there, in line with stuff like Chegger’s Party Quiz.
At least we didn’t get the ghastly cover they got:
Free*: Call of Duty: Black Ops III (PS3)
I say “free” in this case as this was gifted to me by my partner (and Patreon supporter), who had joined alongside me for this year’s journey through the gaming expo. It was normally $14, which was a bit much for a game this old.
So the PS3 and 360 versions of Black Ops III are an incredibly stripped down version that lacks the singleplayer campaign, and run absolutely terribly compared to the PS4 and Xbox One versions. I remember it mostly for this meme:
Honestly, I’m kinda baffled this even exists. Ghosts I could understand, as you needed a launch title for the Xbox One and PS4, and you already had 360/PS3 versions in the pipeline. Advanced Warfare I could understand because not everybody jumps to next-gen in the first 2-3 years. But Black Ops III should’ve been the hint to ditch the 360 and PS3 entirely, and yet they didn’t.
The development was a bit more harsh. Beenox and Mercenary Technology had to bang out a port of this in less than a year, and it shows. If I had to guess, maybe Activision was hoping to cater to underprivileged markets that still had 360s and PS3s, and thought they could still make bank? Maybe they did, I wouldn’t know for sure.
This game often tends to be used as a punching bag by Call of Duty Youtubers, who will show the ugly graphics and say it “looks like cheeks” and use that “MY EYES!” meme from The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. But honestly, Kacey’s review of this covers this much better than those COD YouTubers do. (Yes, I know I’ve linked to two of her videos in this one article. She makes good stuff that I relate to, okay?)
I honestly expect this to be a trainwreck. But hey, I like trashy stuff sometimes.
It’s November. I got the feeling to do some thrifting. So I did some. I got some clothes, but for the purposes of this blog I’m gonna talk about the other things I got.
- Glass Houses by Billy Joel
- Document by R.E.M.
Glass Houses is peak Billy Joel. At this point he was starting to become a pretty famous pop and rock star, and this album had a myriad of hits: “You May Be Right,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Just a Fantasy” and “All for Leyna” are just some of the notable songs on this album.
I only owned one Billy Joel album on CD before this – The Stranger, which is undeniably one of his best – and I’m glad to own this on CD. I do own Glass Houses on cassette, but since it’s a 40+ year old tape, it suffers from squeaky tape problems which makes it hard to really enjoy. Turns out when I was gushing a bit about cassettes sometime last year, perhaps I was being a bit too optimistic. Oh well, that’s how old technology is sometimes.
Document is the album that brought us “The One I Love” and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” R.E.M. is another band that I’m aware of and know some of their hits, but never actually owned an album of theirs. This might not have been the best first choice – perhaps Green or Monster would’ve been better options – but hey, when you’re at a thrift store you don’t have much of a choice, y’know?
I will say “Fireplace” is a good album cut, but only because they just add a random saxophone solo by Steve Berlin in it, and I am an absolute sucker for saxophone solos.
And that’s about it, really. Mostly games, a few bits of music, and a book. There was a lot of time where I just didn’t get the opportunity to head out and go thrifting, which is a shame, as I might’ve missed out on some cool things. But that’s okay, there’s always 2024.