You Found a Secret Area!

A look back at Throut and Neck.

Okay, I might be pushing it with the whole “video game blog” angle with this one. Granted, it’s video game-like, and had a video games company sponsor the show, but it’s a bit different than what you think.

Just about anyone who was born in the late ’80s to early ’90s may remember Nick Arcade, that awful Nickelodeon game show with an annoying black host, rejected Double Dare contestants, and having a prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on an episode. If you’re older, you might remember Video Power, that weird “video game tips” show turned sub-par game show in its second season. At least that one had the guy from Remote Control doing the music. And for all the old farts out there, you probably remember Starcade when was new. Or you’re like me and remember it when G4 reran it constantly, before the network was total garbage. But I bet you don’t remember this weird video game-meets-game show entity: Throut & Neck, a Game Show Network original that briefly ran in 1999.

The late 1990s was a weird time for Game Show Network. Before they had aired bad Candid Camera knockoffs, before they reran The Amazing Race daily, even before that weird “We’re not just game shows” phase where they thought giving Scrabble host Chuck Woolery a reality show was a good idea, they were on this ridiculously weird interactive TV kick. Interactive versions of The Price is Right were broadcast among other call-in and win shows. Throut & Neck is one of the few examples of GSN experimenting with these interactive call-in shows.

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Game finds 10/2: Game expo edition.

It’s gonna be a double-header for game finds this time around. We’re gonna be covering not only the stuff I got from last weekend’s haul at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, but also what I stumbled upon after PAX back in early September. It’s gonna be a fun one, indeed.

I got these three games after PAX finished in Seattle. I had some free time to kill before I had to get to the train station, so I had a donut at Top Pot Doughnuts — highly recommend you do so if you’re visiting Seattle — and found a Value Village several blocks away from where the main convention center was. After poking around the store, which was in an old building as it had freight elevators, I found these three gems.

Police Quest 2: The Vengeance and The Colonel’s Bequest are classic Sierra-published games. This was back in Sierra’s hey day, when they made a whole bunch of adventure game titles. Granted, most of them have not aged well, but having the complete box copies of both games is a treat. The Colonel’s Bequest was the first game in a mystery series starring Laura Bow, which she returned in another Sierra game a few years later, The Dagger of Amon Ra. I have no idea if this is any good. Police Quest 2 is probably the same silly stuff that most Sierra games did where you had to follow every step of police procedure to the absolute letter. The series had a few games, including a spinoff series, SWAT, which went from being a bad FMV game to a strategy game to a solid squad FPS that rivaled Rainbow Six in its day. Police Quest 2 had copied 5 1/4″ floppies of the game in the box, which is weird since the original disks are already inside. I guess somebody didn’t watch Don’t Copy That Floppy. Both games were $3 each.

Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters, on the other hand, was more of a gimmick purchase. It had never been opened, and one copy there had a dozen price stickers on it, going from $20, to $10, to $5, and probably $1-2 by the end of it. Pat Sajak’s first foray into video games, it’s a hybrid of crossword puzzles with the game show “The Joker’s Wild.” Put into a sleek casual games package, it’s probably worth looking into later. This would also be Pat Sajak’s video game debut, despite being the host of Wheel of Fortune since 1982, he didn’t actually appear in a Wheel game until very recently, in the 2010 Wheel game for the Wii. I wonder why it took him so long before he finally caved in…

The rest of PAX swag was a shitload of buttons, energy drinks, cards and promo stuff, and Guitar Hero: Van Halen. I can thank One of Swords for the last one. Now onto the Portland Retro Gaming Expo stuff.

Oh dear, there’s a lot of stuff here. Let’s go through it from the upper-left forward:

  • Politicians 2009 trading cards: Somebody was giving these away as I left the expo on Sunday evening. Have no clue what they are, what they’re for, nor do I care. Free anyhow.
  • Pitfall! (2600): The 2600 classic. Signed by David Crane himself. I could’ve gotten a better copy of it, but I didn’t have time to look through the vendors to find a more pristine copy, so this will do. $2.
  • Super C (NES): The sequel to Contra. All of the major Contra games are kinda pricey these days due to high demand, including not-quite-a-Contra-game Contra Force. But I was able to get a good price on this one. $8.
  • Dragon Warrior (NES): Never was a JRPG guy, but I had to own the NES classic that started the famed Dragon Quest series, as well as being a common pack-in for Nintendo Power subscribers. Bought it from Chris Kohler’s little booth, which had a bunch of little interesting games here and there. $4.
  • Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge (NES): Ah yes, the bastard childs of the Metal Gear franchise. A few friends of mine were talking about those games, and I decided to go hunt these down for kicks. I found Snake’s Revenge at one booth, and had a random convention goer find me Metal Gear at another booth. $5 for each one.
  • Aphids on the Lettuce: You know that circuit-bending system guy I mentioned in the last entry? Well, he was giving these away as well. His circuit-bending stuff is real interesting, I’d love to know more sometime. As for the CD, it’s some mashup CD of Beck tunes, and I’m not a big Beck fan. Can’t complain about free stuff, though.
  • Double Dragon (NES): The NES brawler classic. That one game Jimmy Woods got 50,000 points in 2 minutes on The Wizard. I owned Double Dragon II, but not the original. And I’m certainly not looking for Double Dragon III, even though I’d love to play as Bimmy and Jimmy. $6.
  • Jeopardy! (NES): Ah yes, a video game adaption of the game show classic. This is a funny story: I once bought a box of Jeopardy! for the NES several years back for $1. The box was beat up, the manual was in good shape, but there was one problem: The game inside was Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition, which was released 3 years later. I still kept it in the original Jeopardy! box and had not realized I didn’t have the original game until very recently. Got this one for free along with Double Dragon above. It also had a metric fuckton of stickers, of which I still didn’t get rid of all of them.
  • John Madden Football ’92 (Genesis): The only Genesis game of the lot, I got this for two reasons: Because it’s a dirt cheap football game, and it’s the one Madden game that had the ambulance for injuries that they took out of Madden ’93. $1. Insert your Moonbase Alpha “john madden” joke here.
  • Star Raiders (2600): Some booth was giving this away for free on Sunday. No idea if it works. Probably does, I rarely hear of busted 2600 carts.

That’s it. Honestly, I could’ve gotten more, but what I got is good enough. I would’ve liked to check out the NES and SNES reproductions, but I ain’t paying $75 to play a translated Live a Live on my SNES. Especially since I could probably get those for half that online. These people need to not jack up the price so damn much on those, I bet they’d sell more if they were reasonably priced, like $30 or something.

Now I’m gonna go and dust off my NES and clean all these games and see if they work. or I’ll ignore them and play more Doom mods instead, which is the more likely result.

Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2012.

Last year, after PAX Prime 2011 ended, I found out there was a local retro games covention around Portland called the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Apparently it had been running for several years, and I was unaware of its existence, so I decided to head over to the event. Despite the small venue – it was in a hotel convention area not too far from the Lloyd Center mall – I had a blast buying a few games to fulfill my ever-increasing collection. Well, a year has passed and the Portland Retro Gaming Expo came back for its seventh year. This time, they kicked things into overdrive as they moved facilities to the much larger Oregon Convention Center just off downtown Portland. Though the ticket prices jumped due to the venue change – $20 for a day, $25 for both days – I still expected to have a lot of fun.

On Saturday, I grabbed a friend along for the ride. He hasn’t played much video games, but did remember messing around with old Kaypro, Macintoshes and Commodore 64s that some of the vendors had, while occasionally talking about the classic Atari 2600 and NES eras. Since it was in the convention center, the place had many different vendors selling off all sorts of things: Old computers, Nintendo Power magazines — since the magazine is due to shut down in a few months — NES and SNES game reproductions, Tiger Electronics handhelds, various toys and figures, comic books and other assorted nerdy things. There was an absolute breadth of stuff there. My wallet took a hit during the whole event, which I’ll chronicle later.

Pictured: John Hancock, Steve Lin, “Gamemaster” Howard Phillips, and Chris Kohler.

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Modern Warfare 3 PC is not very good.

I normally don’t do posts like these, but in this case, it needs to be said. If you’re an avid Steam follower, you may have noticed that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is having another free weekend on Steam, where the entire multiplayer component is free to play from now ’til Monday morning. I’m gonna make a public service announcement about this: DO NOT BUY CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3. At least, not on PC, anyhow. I don’t care if you play it through the free weekend, but do not add it to your Steam collection, your $30 is best spent elsewhere.

I should back up a bit. I’m not one of those pretentious jerkasses who bemoan that “Call of Duty is killing video gaming” while jerking off to the newest pixel art indie game that some person made in a week with the littlest of effort. (Okay, I’ll give an exception: McPixel looks pretty awesome.) In fact, until a few years ago, I was a Call of Duty nut. I owned practically every game in the series. I played the multiplayer a lot — perhaps not as much as the maximum level Prestige 10 level 70 players, but enough to have a blast playing it — and enjoyed the campaigns of each. Hell, I even made this dumb video when Modern Warfare 2 came out, which I sat in a mall GameStop after college classes to get:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8QW80hIZiA?rel=0&w=640&h=480]

Man, I was so excited for this back then.

But when I played Modern Warfare 2, I came to a realization. It wasn’t as great as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was. Treyarch’s World at War was better. The story made no god damn sense. It was more on explosive set pieces. The multiplayer was not very well balanced and prone to bizarre bugs like the “Javelin glitch” — where you could prime a Semtex grenade, cancel it by switching to the javelin, and cause a massive explosion when you died — and even accidentally joining hacked lobbies of 16-player Rust where the only winning outcome was the game-winning Tactical Nuke. Coupled with the heavy balance issues, meant that Infinity Ward didn’t seem to care as much as they did. Then that thing happened in 2010 where about half the team left, and then it all makes sense. That was when I started losing interest in Call of Duty: I didn’t pick up Black Ops until earlier this year, and I still don’t own Modern Warfare 3. After replaying the multiplayer again — this is the third “free weekend” the game has had since launch — I realized why.

I loved Black Ops mechanics on how it handled multiplayer: You had to buy guns with in-game credits, which you’d get for completing objectives, contracts and generally during play. You could customize the ever-loving hell out of everything, from gun skins to your in-game emblem. You could dive to prone. It just feels better. Modern Warfare 3‘s answer to that? “Screw all that, let’s keep what was in Modern Warfare 2 except with MORE RIDICULOUSNESS AND EXPLOSIONS!” Terry Crews would be proud.

While there are a few new things, such as the small skirmish Face-Off mode and Kill Confirmed — grabbing tags off of dead players — it’s the same multiplayer stuff that’s been in past games. This time the maximum level goes from 70 in Modern Warfare 2 to 80, and now has a whopping 20 prestige levels! Wow! There’s new guns, new killstreaks, the whole nine yards. Just what you expect from a Call of Duty multiplayer experience. There’s a big problem, though: Much like Modern Warfare 2 had balance issues, MW3 has those same problems. Wanna kick ass and take names easily? Once you acquire the FMG9 machine pistol in multiplayer, equip it on a loadout. Level it up ’til you unlock the akimbo attachment. Combine it with Steady Aim and you have a bullet-spewing death machine. If you wanna slog further through the experience system, add an MP7 as your primary weapon to further annoy your enemies. Granted, they eventually balanced them… on the 360 and PS3. That’s right, Modern Warfare 3 never got those hotfixes on the PC, meaning these guns are still broken like they were at launch. Not surprising that I saw dozens of players use that.

It gets worse: It uses matchmaking instead of dedicated servers, uses host migration, has no mod or custom map support, and if you wanna play the goofy special modes like Gun Game, you need to go to an unranked server browser to play them, for no XP or rewards whatsoever. Coupled with the awful networking code — when I played this back, it gave my NAT level as “poor” when it’s usually excellent in every other game I’ve played that wasn’t a Call of Duty game — and the abundance of hackers with no way to report them, makes it feel like they phoned this port in.

Compare to the experience I briefly had playing Call of Duty: Black Ops on a different Steam free weekend: Server browser, dedicated servers, no host migration BS, a “report player” feature and all the customization features as its console brethren. Granted, the PC Black Ops felt chuggy compared to MW2/MW3, but my PC is old as dirt anyhow.

I can’t vouch if the console versions of Modern Warfare 3 are any better, but if it’s any indication, it’s probably the same stuff as it is here. In fact, it feels like Modern Warfare 2 with more stuff. It’s more than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, it’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Plus! (Hooray for obscure game show references.)

Expect something less full of bile in the coming days.

PAX Prime 2012: The Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Event.

As I sit here in a Seattle hotel room, day one of PAX Prime 2012 has ended and day two will start pretty soon. While I met some people, got some swag to shove into my suitcase, and got to enjoy a few panels like the PAX Game Show Night, there was another video game event happening around the same time. Square Enix decided to celebrate Final Fantasy‘s 25th anniversary with a small event about a block or two away away from the Washington State Trade and Convention Center, which is the central PAX Hub. Unlike PAX which required a badge, attendance was free in this one. So I met with a few local Washington friends and high-tailed it to the event at the ACT Theatre.

Disclaimer: My experience with Final Fantasy is pretty much little to nil. Platformers and first-person shooters have always been my jam, so my JRPG experience is pretty limited to about a few games, which include Chrono TriggerKingdom Hearts and a few Pokemon games. I did play part of Final Fantasy VI on an emulator ten years ago, but I don’t think that counts. Despite my inexperience with the famous Square franchise, I had to go check it out.

First of all, the event was in a tiny room that’s used for small private concerts or something, as it was packed the whole time we were there. It was a celebration of Final Fantasy alright, as all the mainline titles were playable on the main stage. None of the Final Fantasy spinoff games were there, just the main 13 games plus Final Fantasy XIII-2 which came out recently. Sorry, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles fans. All six of you.

The other gimmick was that each of the games were squared off into a small space that resembled a living room from the era, complete with CRT TVs everywhere. Now, you’re probably asking, “Wait, we didn’t officially get Final Fantasy II, III and V until they came out much later!” Well, I’m gonna blow your mind: They were playable. They were the original versions released for the Famicom and Super Famicom respectively. This was an absolute treat, in spite of the small venue. Here’s a picture of FFII just to prove it.

At one point some of the TVs glitched out and some of the older NES and Famicom games weren’t completely working, resulting in my friend to yell to “Blow the cartridge!” Even in 2012 that’s still suggested as a way to fix busted NES games. Alas, FFII, III and V were in their original Japanese, so I didn’t attempt playing them. I’m surprised they didn’t contact the guy who was selling the Final Fantasy II US Prototype recently, that would’ve been an interesting item at the show.

While this was going on, we had music blared by a couple of DJs while we roaming around looking at the PS1 and PS2 era Final Fantasy games. This DJ sucked, mainly because he was just some dude blaring dubstep and Pac-Man techno remixes (Wrong publisher, buddy!). Honestly me and others would’ve preferred to just hear a sampling of the many tunes throughout the series, but there probably would’ve been a massive well of tears once Aria di Mezzo Carattere came on, so I guess I’ll settle with the awful dubstep instead. Thankfully those who would rather hear the game had headphones available to put on in every station, which probably makes the experience all the better.

Also featured there was a tech demo for the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV. While I’m skeptical of its statement of being “real time footage”  — this is Square-Enix after all, king of FMVs — It looked pretty nice and I hope we get to see it in an upcoming game in the near future. One other observation: Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 were played on Xbox 360s as opposed to the PlayStation 3, which is weird considering Square-Enix’s heritage.

The last things at the tiny event were little table games like “Moogle Hop” and Cactuar Ring Toss. Alas, the line to get into them was too long and probably not worth it for the prizes. After that, we high-tailed it out of there, with my friends grabbing a 25th Anniversary poster designed by original Final Fantasy character designer Yoshitaka Amano featuring all the main characters drawn. Most of them look pretty effeminate but it’s better than Tetsuya “belts, zippers and Gackt lookalikes everywhere” Nomura, so it’s a nice touch. The same design was also on all the cards advertising the event, so I’m not saddened that I didn’t get the poster. Besides, it probably would’ve gone in the same place my Kevin Butler PlayStation Move poster and my GFW Radio poster are: Rolled up in my bedroom, waiting to be sold or thrown away.

I will say that despite the tiny-ass venue, Square Enix did a fine job with this event. For diehard Final Fantasy players, it was likely a treat to play Final Fantasy III on an actual Famicom rather than emulators or the DS port, and there was stuff for the average congoer anyhow. Maybe I need to pick up one of these games and start playing them already, I’ve had enough time to get them…

Game finds 8/29: Pre-PAX edition: 32X junk and loads of Star Wars.

So, the Penny Arcade Expo is coming up. That video game thing in Seattle, that’s two days away. I’m gonna be heading there on Thursday (that’s tomorrow as I write this!) so I may post a few blog entries during or after the event. Today, instead of packing and getting ready to hop on a train tomorrow, I decided to go check some thrift stores and hope to find some stuff. And I definitely found stuff. This’ll be a small, but interesting haul indeed.

The two games on the left are Metal Head and Virtua Fighter, both for the Genesis 32X add-on. At $3 each, I couldn’t resist passing them up, just to build up my 32X collection. I wished one of the games was Knuckles’ Chaotix, that goes for about $30 now, and that’s for just the cartridge! Both of the Goodwills I went to had an unusual influx of NES, SNES and Genesis games, but most of them were licensed schlock, sports games or awful titles like Pit Fighter for the SNES, so I decided to save the $4-5 asking price for those games for something even better, such as the thing to the right of the 32X games.
In the past few years, I’ve stumbled upon various Star Wars and Star Trek video games in thrift stores, but usually passed them all up because I’m not a fan of those series. But the thing above was too good to pass up: The LucasArts Archives Volume IV: The Star Wars Collection Volume II. I never knew LucasArts did any sort of box compilations of their past titles, and having them all in one place seems pretty neat. The games it comes with are:

  • Star Wars: TIE Fighter Collector’s Series — a version of TIE Fighter that uses the engine of one of the later games, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
  • Dark Forces
  • Star Wars: X-Wing Collector’s Series — same changes as TIE Fighter above
  • Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter – Flight School — A stripped down demo version of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter
  • Star Wars: Yoda Stories
  • Star Wars: Behind the Magic: Vehicles Special Edition — An interactive encyclopedia of sorts.
  • Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight — Demo version
  • Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith — Demo version

I’ve heard of a few of these, such as TIE Fighter and X-Wing being amazing flight games for their times, and Dark Forces being a first-person shooter that went against the infamous “Doom clone” moniker that plagued a lot of first-person shooter games of the 90s. Others such as Yoda Stories I had heard were amazingly bad. It’s a bummer half the compilation is just demo discs rather than the full games, but I guess I can’t complain for $5. I’d be amazed if any of this runs, it says it requires Pentium II processors and mentions they were unable to verify compatibility with Windows 98 at the time, so this is pretty ancient. I’m not gonna try to reconfigure these games with DOSBox. At least, not right away, anyway.

It seems this was the last LucasArts compilation, as no other ones were made after this second Star Wars one. Past ones such as Volume I had classics like Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Day of the Tentacle and Sam and Max Hit the Road, which sounds like a hell of a bargain back in those days. Nowadays LucasArts has almost all of these games available through other outlets like Steam, complete with DOSBox compatibility right out of the box, so it’s probably a better deal than trying to hunt down these games. But this was probably a great deal around the ’90s when you probably heard your friends talk about these games but didn’t wanna pay loads for the individual games. I love compilations like this, I wish everybody did this more. It’s great for the late-to-the-party folks who are just getting around to playing some of the greats.

Mods and maps: A tactical Quake-stravaganza!

As much as I love the mod scene for old PC games, I realized I haven’t touched Quake‘s mod scene that much in the past few years. The last mods I played for Quake was stuff made for speedruns, like Quake Done Quick with a Vengeance. So for today, we’re gonna tackle some Quake mods that tried their best to be more like tactical shooters before that was even a popular thing. Both of these were released around the same time, and share a few similarities but both have their own unique quirks.

First on our list is a mod called Navy Seals Quake. This mod features a bevvy of new weapons such as the Mark 23 SOCOM pistol, the MP5 (and its silenced variant), a Mossberg tactical shotgun, even an M16 assault rifle with grenade launcher. There are three unique levels made for Navy Seals Quake, though selecting New Game oddly takes you to the default Quake start level. The levels all feature you going in and killing everything while completing objectives like destroying a jet and disarming “RADEK” bombs. You can also play through regular Quake with these new weapons, giving you a different taste of the game, but only a handful of characters were replaced, leaving you with custom marine models mixed in with default Quake enemies like Ogres and Scrags.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOwPcmcOSNY&w=640&h=480]

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From the Rising Sun: Yakiniku Bugyou

As you probably noticed on this site, I’ve covered almost nothing but American and/or European video games. Some of you may think I’m xenophobic, or just plain biased against Japanese video games. Well, the truth is I haven’t had much to write about Japanese video games, plus that’s become such a common thing for gamers to cover on the internet that I don’t have anything to write about that’s particularly unique. Well, that’s gonna change today.

I am was a member of Raptr, which is basically a social networking site for gamers where you can track achievements and keep up with friends and stuff. I keep forgetting I have it, but then I get emails from Raptr saying I have fulfilled a requirement for Raptr Rewards, where if you track a certain amount of time on a certain game, system or genre, you can redeem some reward. They were doing one in collaboration with Monkey Paw Games, a noted publisher of import games for PlayStation systems. So I decided to throw my hat in the ring and hope I get something good. I get some game I’ve never heard of: Yakiniku Bugyou. I was hoping for something cool like Arc the Lad, Alundra or even Tomba!, but I guess I got the short end of the stick. I’ve been on a weird train of getting free stuff lately, I even got Darksiders thanks to a Game Informer contest around the same time I got this.

Now, there is a slight problem to this particular game: It’s entirely in Japanese, this isn’t something that’s been translated by the publisher. I know a total of about three words in Japanese, so forgive me if I’m stumbling through this game and make it look crappier than it actually is.

A screenshot of the game in action.

From what I gathered very briefly from playing the first option on the menu, the game works like this: You have three customers, each with specific requirements. Yakiniku refers to the grilling method, from what I glanced on Wikipedia anyhow. You place meat, fruit and (presumably) tofu on the plate and try to cook them without burning them, and serve them to the respective customer for points. If you don’t fulfill their requirements enough or run out of time, it’s game over. You also have to flip the items for even grilling and chip them off the grill if they get too burnt. That’s the gist of the game, with later levels introducing different characters and new items to work with. Since the language barrier coupled with the frantic gameplay hindered me, I couldn’t get past stage one, so I may never get to experience this game properly. From what I did play, it’s a fun arcade game, but me not knowing a lick of Japanese makes it really hard to play for more than five minutes.

Oh well, I can’t complain too much. It’s $6 on the PlayStation Store, and it’s probably an enjoyable little game for the price if you’re into Japanese culture. Still wish I got something else from Monkey Paw Games instead, like Cho Aniki. That would’ve been a hoot to cover.

Game finds 7/31: Video game… comic books?

So today I was gonna write something about a Doom conversion that I decided to replay recently, but got sidetracked on other things (including preparation for a camping trip in a few days). So I decided to head out and buy some stuff in preparation, but also check around for random game stuff. Let’s talk about some game buys, it’s been a while since I did so.

Alas, on the video game front it was kind of lackluster. While I did find Perfect Dark Zero for mad cheap at a GameStop ($2), Boom Blox was considerably less so ($13). I’m trying to burn off the excess store credit I have with GameStop so I don’t have to do much business with them anymore, especially with some of their dick practices over the years. Since I bought games on the Steam Summer sale from a few weeks back, I had games I didn’t need. Namely, a shrinkwrapped copy of Saints Row: The Third for Xbox 360, since I bought the PC version for $12.50. GameStop wanted $18 credit for it, so I hopped on the train and headed to Video Game Wizards, a local Portland game store I’ve gone to for years, just to do a price comparison. Since it was unopened, they were gonna sell it for $42 and offered me one third that value in cash or half the value in store credit. Naturally, I went with the store credit, which was more than GS was gonna give me. I then rebought 007: Agent Under Fire007: Everything or Nothing and 007: Nightfire all on the PlayStation 2 for a total of $8. I’m trying to replace my multiplatform released games from the GameCube with PS2 or Xbox equivalents, mainly because most of the multiplatform ports on the GC suck control-wise or for other reasons. Now, those buys were relatively uneventful. What I’m about to talk about next is more interesting.

Sometimes when I’m in downtown, I poke my head inside a couple thrift stores in the area, as I’ve gotten a few interesting things from them in the past, such as finding a Japanese copy of Hot Shots Golf 2 for the PlayStation at a Goodwill once. My usual thrift store haunts in downtown Portland were a bust, except in one store. This thrift store had a comic book I saw, which I decided to snatch up immediately. While I was there, I decided to thumb through their surprisingly vast comics section. I then walked out with about $2.40 of comic books. I’m no comic book nerd, the last comic I bought was Archie Comics’ Sonic the Hedgehog many years ago, but I couldn’t pass these up.

 

What I got follows:

  • Mass Effect: Redemption issue 1
  • Mass Effect: Invasion issue 3
  • Mass Effect: Evolution issue 4
  • Hellgate: London issue 0
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – The Lost Suns issue 5
  • Timecop issues 1 and 2

It was the Mass Effect: Invasion issue that caught my eye and made me thumb through their comics. With the exception of Timecop — that’s based off the cornball Jean-Claude Van Damme film of the same name — they were all video game tie-ins. It also seems these were done as special editions, as my 5 minutes of Google searching revealed that every comic here was a 4-5 issue special edition. Two of the comics were a mere quarter, while the rest were 50 cents each. Coupled with the thrift store doing an end-of-month drawing where they cut a random percentage off the sale — mine was 20% — meant that I spent $2.40 for all seven.

Coincidentally all the comics are published by Dark Horse, about a good 95% of the comics there were Dark Horse-published. This is kinda funny as Dark Horse’s main offices are nearby where I live, in Milwaukie, Oregon, and my dad knew the founder, Mike Richardson, so I feel like I should give them the difference I paid as compensation. Except for Timecop, though. I’m okay with paying 75 cents for those.

Angry Birds Space Fruit Gummies

Hi. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Forgive me, I’ve been swamped with many ideas and have not put any of them to paper yet. I’ll have some more stuff up real soon. Instead, here’s a fluff post about video game candy.

Heard of Angry Birds? It’s hard not to, they’ve permeated the public conscious about as much as Call of Duty and Madden NFL in terms of video games. A goofy game where you fling birds at buildings to destroy enemy pigs, it has appeared on every system that could possibly play it, and is apparently really addicting. I played the Google Chrome browser version and didn’t see the appeal. Doesn’t mean it’s not a multi-million dollar success for Finnish developer Rovio. There’s Angry Birds T-Shirts, Angry Birds toys, Angry Birds board games, there’s probably Angry Birds whack-a-mole if I looked around hard enough. Now they’ve invaded the food space with Angry Birds Fruit Gummies.

Love the sci-fi motif they decided to go with their silly bird game.

I was in a Wal-Mart, getting a few things here and there, when I saw these in a bargain section for 98 cents. I thought, sure, why the hell not. I remember fruit snacks from my youth. Plus I’m reminded of how the X-Entertainment guy would buy dumb things like all the food and toy tie-ins to the Shrek movies. While I’m not gonna go out and do the same thing with Angry Birds here, I did want to see what these fruit gummies were all about. These seem to be based on the most recent Angry Birds game, Angry Birds Space, which is probably the same as the original game except now IN SPAAAAAAACE!

The box tells me to “Collect all four” box covers. Each box randomly features either the Red bird, the green pig, or the black and purple birds nobody cares about. Opening the box reveals a plastic bag with the gummies wrapped inside. Why they didn’t just make a bag is a mystery. There’s six flavors all based on the characters, which are standard candy fare of cherry, lemon and raspberry among other flavors. After tearing the package open, I decided to give each of them a try. I then come to a startling conclusion:  these aren’t like the chewy delicious fruit snacks I remember. In fact, they taste like gummy bears.

They’re gummy bears. Freakin’ gummy bears. I paid 98 cents for Angry Birds gummy bears, shaped like the birds. Oh well, for 98 cents it could’ve been much worse. Such a disappointment though, I was hoping for something like traditional fruit snacks, but I get what I pay for.

(Your regularly scheduled programming will resume next week.)