Category: Non-Video Games Related

While I write things about video games, I like sometimes writing about stuff only tangentially related to gaming. These are those posts.

Come on Down! It’s the Price is Right Electronic Game!

This post is gonna talk about something that isn’t really a video game. I mean, an electronic toy could be considered a “video game” in the loosest sense, but it’s one of those things that is so cool to me that I can’t help but write about it. Plus it’s game show related, and anyone who follows the blog knows I’m a big game show nut.

While I’ve written about cool board game things I’ve gotten over the years, such as the Pocket Player Trivial Pursuit, Pac-Man side games published during Pac-Man Fever, even the first Pokemon-themed Monopoly, I think this fits.

20170825_121542

It’s so weird seeing the familiar pudgy Drew Carey nowadays. Even these days he seems a bit slimmer than how he used to be.

It’s the fabulous, less-than-sixty-minute Price is Right electronic game! Released in 2008, this tries to replicate some of the iconic elements of the classic TV game show. This features Drew Carey on the cover, and was released during the “growing pains” period when Drew took over the show after Bob Barker’s retirement.

While there were some good moments during those first few years, Drew was still trying to find his footing, especially after taking over a show hosted by a television legend. Disappointingly, his voice isn’t in the game, he’s just on the box art.

20170825_121542

The device in all its tiny glory.

This particular one is produced by Irwin Toy, a company that’s been around for a long time and seems to still be kicking around making stuff. They’re not as big as Hasbro, but they’re certainly not dead, compared to Tiger Electronics. They’re kind of one of the B-tier toy companies.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first electronic game based on The Price is Right. The first one was made by the infamous Tiger Electronics, makers of quality LCD games. While it wasn’t inherently bad, it did try to follow the formula their previous LCD game show games did, but now with lots of unnecessary cards that made it a lot less convenient for the format. Made it a pain to play if you were traveling, that’s for sure.

20170825_121231

Cards, cards and more cards! Try not to lose them.

Up to four players can play in this version of The Price is Right. The electronic game plays like a loose version of the TV show. You input the 3-digit code for each prize or game, and the game goes from there. Cards with a green border are used as item up for bids on Contestants Row. Cards with a blue border are for the pricing games. Finally, cards with a red border are saved for the exciting Price is Right Showcases at the end of the show. Continue reading…

Music from the Xbox video game NHL Rivals 2004: A soundtrack review.

In my recent pick-up video, I had mentioned I found this unusual soundtrack: Music from the Xbox Video Game NHL Rivals 2004. Before I get into it any further, I should explain this soundtrack’s existence. Let’s go back a decade, as we talk about Microsoft’s failed attempt at a Sports game brand called “XSN Sports.”

Back in the day, Microsoft tried to make their own Sports franchise against EA and Sega. (This was before Take-Two bought Visual Concepts from Sega.) In 2003, they introduced XSN Sports as their flagship sports game brand. Under this banner, Microsoft’s sport-focused games featured tournaments and leagues that players could make in-game to share on the respective website. The games included NFL Fever 2004, Links 2004, and Rallisport Challenge 2. Alas, they couldn’t make a dent in the competition, and the XSN Sports brand was folded one year later. The XSN service was later shut down in 2006, presumably to shift focus onto the then-new Xbox 360.

As a promotional tie-in, they released the first in the “XSN Sports Soundtrack CD Series,” featuring various songs that come from the game’s soundtrack. However, despite saying “Volume 1” on the cover, there was never a Volume 2, which is funny in retrospect.

The soundtrack CD also comes with a bonus DVD, featuring some NHL highlights from the 2002-03 NHL season, some Wayne Gretsky promos, and DVD-ROM features of the game’s cinematics, trailers, and some wallpaper. Not much to say about all this, it’s a hockey game after all. My experience with hockey games begin and end at Blades of Steel.

Licensed soundtracks are hardly new, sports games have been doing this for a long time. Hell, bands used to be hyped for having a song in the new Madden game. What makes this special is the song selection, which seems unusual for a hockey game. Then again, I don’t watch hockey, so maybe this fits in some weird way. Let’s go track-by-track, shall we?

Continue reading…

A look at CD+G with Rock Paintings.

The Sega CD is a fascinating piece of hardware. A CD addon for the Genesis, it added full motion video and other assorted features. I got a second hand Sega CD off a classmate back in freshman year of High School. I was bored in class and was looking at Sega CDs on eBay, and my friend offered his for $15. I couldn’t pass it up at that price.

It came with the pack-in title Tomcat Alley as well as the abysmal Double Switch, a Night Trap-esque game by Digital Pictures starring the late Corey Haim, Blondie’s Deborah Harry, and R. Lee Ermey. It honestly isn’t that great, and can be beaten easily in an hour. Trust me, go watch this longplay of the game instead, it’s better than wasting time trying to figure out the game’s plot while trapping random criminals.

I wonder if these actors thought they were doing something amazing or were just there for a paycheck.

While I was perusing for some other Sega CD games to buy, I had stumbled upon this little gem, and it’s not even a game: Rock Paintings, a CD+G sampler featuring a multitude of Warner Bros. Records artists — Chris Isaak, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, Information Society and Little Feat.

While it’s advertised as a Sega CD product, any console that supports CD+G — from the Philips CD-i to Sega’s successor CD console the Saturn — can play this. Hell, if you got a karaoke machine lying around, it’ll probably play this disc too.

I thought this was simply just a silly little CD compilation, but it’s so much more.

Oh good, I can learn things while listening to music. Thanks, Information Society!

CD+G is a short-lived media format used to show graphics on your television while listening to music CDs. The concept was that you’d hook up a CD+G enabled device into your television set, insert any supported CD+G disc, then listen to the music with video playing in the background.

The only record label that bothered to care about the technology was Warner Bros. Records, as a gamut of their offerings from 1989-1992 feature the CD+G tech. However, it was not popular enough, so it got shelved in the early ’90s. While the original purpose for CD+G died, the system would later be used for karaoke machines. Though the CD+G used in those isn’t 100% compatible with the traditional CD+G in most cases, which is a shame.

The Rock Paintings sampler features two tracks from each artist above, with embedded CD+G tracks for each, plus a blank audio track for disc information. For the most part, they were little more than just tacky screensavers. For example, the samples they used for Information Society being somewhat informative and goofy (as seen above), while Jimi Hendrix’s Smash Hits brought us this wonderful gem:

Not pictured: The flashing colors that played during this Hendrix montage. Great for stoners, bad for epileptics.

 

Rock Paintings also came with a second, non-CD+G disc titled Hot Hits, which featured a sampling of other artists on the Warner label. Most of them are a bunch of unknowns I hadn’t heard of — The Wolfgang Press, Saigon Kick, Throwing Muses — while the rest are artists with minor hits but bizarre track choices. For example, They Might Be Giants, one of my favorite bands is featured on the compilation. They used “Mammal” from Apollo 18. Of all the songs from that album they could’ve chose, they chose the worst track of the bunch. I guess executives wouldn’t have appreciated a compilation having a song titled “The Statue Got Me High.”

While doing my brief research for this article, I found out there is actually a site dedicated to chronicling all the CD+G media ever released. It’s called The CD+G Museum, and it’s worth a look into the weird history that was CD+G technology. They even catalog the CD+G graphics themselves on a YouTube channel, so you can experience the tracks for yourself. It’s great someone is cataloging this obscure piece of tech history

Now I wanna find those CD+G versions of some of these albums, just for kicks. Though, I definitely want Hendrix’s Smash Hits so I can Experience Hendrix the way it was meant to be: on a Sega CD in mono audio.

Updated on 7/21/2019 for grammatical changes and updated links.

Trivial Pursuit On the Go: The Pocket Player Set.

When I started doing this blog, I wanted to specifically cover goofy stuff about video games. That’s still the case, but I do dabble in other subjects from time to time. We’ll still be talking about games, board games to be exact. Well, the closest thing to a board game, anyway.

Remember Trivial Pursuit? Yeah, that board game where you’re given ridiculously hard trivia questions about history stuff and maybe a question or two on something you actually know? Considered a game of strong intellect, it has moved past its original goal of being a challenging trivia game to having special editions based on various TV shows and movies. Ever wanted a Rolling Stones Trivial Pursuit? There you go.

Back in the 80s, before Hasbro acquired Trivial Pursuit and made a bunch of spinoffs based on Lord of the Rings and Saturday Night Live, there weren’t as many spinoffs of the game. Most of them were based off subject matter like the roaring ’20s, movies, Disney, and even several kids editions.

You might have seen these and many others at your local thrift store, as Trivial Pursuit seems to be a common thrift store dumping ground, next to other board games like bad licensed TV show games, unfinished puzzles and an incomplete copy of 1970s-era Monopoly with unknown stains on it. But what I saw at a recent thrift store visit was something I hadn’t seen before, and I couldn’t resist snatching it up.

That little game piece looks like a handheld communicator from Star Trek.

It’s a travel version of Trivial Pursuit. This is the Trivial Pursuit “Pocket Player Set”: Boob Tube edition. I believe this is the only attempt by Selchow & Righter — the original Trivial Pursuit publishers — to actually make a travel version, because I had never seen anything like this before or since.
Continue reading…