Sunday, September 9, 2018

Tomy Mini Nintendo Capsules

If you have a dedicated game room, you may be like me where you like to adorn your room or shelves with video game related toys and knick knacks. You've probably seen these red toy capsules at your local Target or other retail store in your area. When I came across a few that were on clearance I finally took the plunge and bought one out of sheer curiosity.


I believe the MSRP on these capsules is $5.99 and for that price I just wasn't willing to give one a try. Clearance price of $2? Sure, why not. After all, I had the chance of landing a cool Famicom controller I could put on my keychain.


At least with this wave, there were 5 different controllers randomly packaged inside the capsule. The classic Famicom, Super Famicom, N64, Wii and Wii w/ Motion Plus controllers. I was really hoping for either the Famicom or Super Famicom myself. Instead, I was lucky enough to pull the...


The Wii controller. At least I got the black controller w/ Motion Plus. Despite it not being the controller I was hoping for, it's actually not that bad. The level of detail put into it is quite well. The clear translucent A button can actually be depressed. The is a hole in the top of the controller and I initially thought that maybe there was an LED bulb inside...but it's hollow. None the less, it's still a neat little Nintendo branded item to place on my Nintendo gaming shelf. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Retro Store Visit: Matt's Game Exchange

I first learned of Matt's Game Exchange when I picked up managing a few locations for my company in Greensboro, NC. I have visited the store a few times and made a few purchases over the last year or so, but I never thought to do one of these retro store visit type posts. I'm not sure when I last visited the store (I'm going to guess sometime in the fall of 2017) so these pictures are probably outdated now, but I've got them sitting on my laptop's hard drive so why not share them?


This particular store is located at 2924 West Gate City Blvd., Suite A in Greensboro, NC. The store isn't that far of I-40 and it's pretty easy to get in and out of. The store is located in a strip mall and is a rather large store. So large in fact that their shelves help create a smaller shopping area, while the rest of the store is used for storage (?). They never seem to have huge inventory of games, but their selection is pretty varied and they seem to have a good flow of trade ins.


Most of the higher end (i.e. expensive) games are kept in the glass cases over near the register, but that doesn't mean there aren't some good games out on the shelves. The first section of games that you can easily browse is their NES section. Here you can see a decent amount of loose NES carts as well as a few boxed games. Looks like I spy a few boxed SNES games too.


I swear everyone's SNES section these days seems to be filled with the same sports and low budget titles. I don't remember anything in this section standing out to me...though I have been know to buying a baseball game if I find one I don't already own.


Below the SNES section was their Genesis selection. A good bit of boxed games, something I'm always glad to see. I'll buy those cheap priced boxed Genesis games sometimes just for the clamshell case. I believe I purchased Double Dragon 3 from this location in one of my previous visits. Plenty of loose carts on the shelves below, but I rarely even look at those.


My guess is now that Hyperkin has released their Retron 77 that old Atari 2600 carts may start moving a little faster. Their selection was small, but they had a few decent games for just a few bucks each. Crystal Castles anyone?


The next section over contained GameCube games. This is one system I'd like to have more games for, but it's getting harder for me to find games that want and aren't priced too high.


Playstation 2 was the next section and I was surprised to see that it barely filled up the 4 foot section it was given. Usually finding PS2 games isn't hard. At least their selection (on this visit) wasn't all sports titles.


If I thought the PS2 selection was sparse, check out how bare the Xbox 360 section was during this visit! Either they have been moving a lot of 360 games or people just weren't trading them in.


The Playstation 3 section however had a few more games to chose from. Nothing that grabbed my attention, but I wasn't a huge fan of the PS3.



Their Xbox One and PS4 sections were filled in a little more. Decent selection from what I can remember, but I usually look for more retro stuff when I visit these type stores.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any pictures of their display cases, but they had some great retro games under the glass. Everything from NES to TurboGrafx. I enjoyed talking to the guys that worked in the store. They were courteous and I could tell that they knew their stuff. It also seemed as if this particular location was smaller than the the store located in Florence, SC. I haven't visited that location, but I'll have to try and swing by there on my next trip down to Myrtle Beach.

Overall the store is pretty cool, but like with many retro stores you may not find necessarily what you're looking for on your first visit. Stores like this you have to visit often and be ready to jump on that "rare" game when you find it as the inventory is constantly changing. Their prices overall are about what you'd expect to find in a brick & mortar retro game store. Not super cheap, but not quite eBay prices either. If you're ever in the Greensboro area or just passing through, you oughta stop in and give them a whirl.

You can find Matt's Game Exchange online or check out their Facebook pages for more information.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

PlayStation Days of Play



Well so much for getting this post out on time!! When Sony rolled out their Days of Play campaign Father's Day weekend this year, it officially marked my 1 year anniversary as a PS4 owner. Why is this a big deal? Well for me, I haven't had much of a relationship w/ Sony or the PlayStation brand.

Last year when Sony first unveiled the gold PS4, I contemplated purchasing the gold console. Not because it was gold or limited, but for the fact that it was a good deal. Last year, 2017, the gold PS4 retailed for $249.99 and contained a 1 TB HD as opposed to the 500 GB HD that most consoles at retail currently had. There were a few games that had caught my eye from time to time in my Game Informer magazine and it just seemed as it the PS4 had the "edge" over the Xbox One that I also owned. As much as I loved my Xbox 360, my love for Microsoft's platform was waning and I needed to do something about it.

I ended up grabbing the gold PS4 as a Father's Day / early birthday gift to myself. I started building my library slowly with Ratchet & Clank as my first purchase. I was a huge fan of the series on the PS2 so I knew that was a safe place to begin. Once I finished I wasn't sure where to go next. Thankfully with the PS4 being out for several years there were no shortages of games for me to try. I grabbed a few games from a GameStop during one of their better sales events and I tried The Last of Us Remastered Edition next. I did a post at the beginning of 2018 as I was just getting into the game and after I finished it, I was hooked. While I enjoyed playing the Dead Rising games on my Xbox One, I was falling in love w/ the PS4 after playing just a few games.

Ever since Sony threw their name into the home video game console wars, I've always had a luke warm reception to the PlayStation brand. I have always been a Nintendo fan (and closet Sega fan) so when the PS1 was announced, I was still firmly in Nintendo's camp. It wasn't until the first PlayStation was remolded as the PSOne that I bought my first PlayStation console. I waited a good number of years before jumping onto the PS2 bandwagon. I had bought the original Xbox over the PS2 so it took me awhile to get acclimated w/ the PS2's library. As I mentioned before, the Ratchet & Clank became my go to franchise and the games I played the most. I mostly skipped over the PS3 era because of my love for the 360. I have a PS3, but it rarely gets used these days. Hopefully that paints a decent enough picture of why I was a little hesitant in buying a PS4, but let me tell you one year later it's a decision that I do NOT regret!

Most of my modern gaming has been back and forth between the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. I've enjoyed picking up some of the Limited Run exclusives as well as some of the exclusives from PlayAsia.com for my PS4. I still game on some of my retro consoles as well, but when it comes to modern gaming I have found my two favorite platforms. Microsoft as fallen behind in this modern gaming era (at least for me) and I'm not sure what it'll take for me to buy a new game on release date. Maybe this upcoming Halo game they teased at E3 will draw me back in for awhile, but right night I just can't see my Xbox One getting much use. Currently I'm finishing up the DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn, a game that I have loved every minute of. I find it a little ironic too that this was one of the games that was featured in last year's Days of Play and I knew nothing of the game. Thanks to my public library of all places, I rented HZD a few months ago and instantly fell in love with the story and gameplay.

I don't know what game I'll jump into next. It may not be a console exclusive, but it will be on the PS4. Perhaps I'll visit the Resident Evil universe (haven't played a RE game since RE2 on the N64!) or I try to find a reasonably priced Far Cry 5? I'm still juggling a few other games at the moment, but whatever path I take next with my PS4 I'm assured it'll be a fun ride.


I was surprised to see that this year's Days of Play exclusive PS4 console jumped $50. If anything I thought the price may have dropped if not stayed at $249.99. I wasn't wild with the new design so I'm glad I grabbed the gaudy gold edition last year. My only grip was that I just paid $39.99 for the deluxe version of Horizon Zero Dawn and then it winds up being $20 as part of this sale!

Looking forward I have my eye on the new Spider-Man game coming. I don't buy many games new anymore these days (for many reasons), however this may be a day one purchase for me. I feel like I've come a long way in a short time with Sony and the PS4 has really helped renew my interest in the PS brand and the company as a whole. Not sure what lies ahead w/ their next console, but for now I'm loving my "new" PS4.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Initial Thoughts: Horizon Zero Dawn (Playstation 4)

My two daughters love to read and my family takes frequent trips to the public library for them to restock on books. Not too long ago my wife informed me that the library started to carry video games for modern consoles (Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One). My first trip to see what they had wasn't all that successful, ended up w/ Street Fighter II for the Switch. However last weekend I was pleased with the larger selection. They had several games for the Switch that interested me (Disgaea 5 on the Switch), one of the Forza racing games for the Xbox One and something else on the PS4 that I can't quite put my finger on at this time. I went home with Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite for the Xbox One and Horizon Zero Dawn for the PS4. I'm not a huge fighting game fan, but the Marvel vs. games usually are good. Horizon Zero Dawn was just one of those games that I've heard a little about, but never looked too much into it. Unfortunately for me it was a full week later before I had time to sit down to play. Good thing I get to keep both games for 2 weeks!

This weekend I finally had a chance to jump into Horizon Zero Dawn. I knew of the game, but really hadn't looked into the game. I watched a Facebook friend livestream some gameplay, but that's about it. When I first started the game, I really didn't know what to expect. I was a little surprised to find out I started playing the game as a young Aloy. I knew the game would be a big budget cinematic story and the story itself had to be set up. However I thought it was a little on the sluggish side starting out. Now that I've played a good 12-15 hours I now see why the beginning was necessary as it helps advance the story that much better. I was expecting combat right out the gate, but instead I was given a lot of story and a little exploration.


I knew that I needed to give this game time and I'm glad that I was patience as I am marveled by everything about the game. Of course the visuals are absolutely stunning and pleasing to the eye, but the musical score also fits the atmosphere as well. The voice acting for the most part is top notch and the story is something I actually like.

I've leveled up my character to level 16 thus far and have enjoyed every hour. I'm still getting used to the combat, but part of that is I'm not as familiar w/ a Playstation controller as I am other controllers. For the most part the controls and combat are very intuitive, however I don't like the jumping/scaling/climbing system. That's a very small complaint as overall the game is magnificent. I kinda hated I didn't pay this game any attention until now it's so good. I will most likely purchase the new version of the game that contains the DLC pack as I hate that I have to return the game to the library next weekend.


I haven't played many AAA PS4 titles, but I can see why this game has sold so well. I look forward to advancing the story and eventually getting to the aforementioned DLC as well. If you are a fan of open world style games with a action RPG element, then this game is for you. Then again, I'm sure most of you reading this have already discovered what I'm just discovering for myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Berzerk (Atari 2600)


Berzerk
Stern Electronics
Stern Electronics, 1982



I have a lot of fond memories of the Atari 2600 as it was the first home console my family had. Long before I received my very on NES, all of my gaming occurred on the 2600. Of the many games we owned back then, Berzerk was always one of my favorites.

The premise of the game is very simple. You control a stick looking figure across simple mazes that filled the screen. Robots were littered around the room, trying to prevent your exit. Depending on the level, there may have been one or two exits, represented by an opening in the outer wall. Your objective was to advance level from level. 


Shooting the robots was essentially optional, but necessary most of the time if you wanted to advance. Later levels the robots would return fire. A single shot from them would kill your character. You could also lose a life by touching the walls...which were apparently electrified, or by being touched by a robot. Your character's arch nemesis is Evil Otto, who in the game looks like a large smiley face. Otto is indestructible and pretty much is there to prevent you from lolly gagging on the level. He can advance through walls and be a real pain in the butt.

Two players can play the game, but alternate turns using the same controller. My older brother and I would play this game often, competing for the highest score since the levels weren't really numbered. The game still holds up well in my opinion and I often pop it in my 7800 to play when I'm in the mood. Berzerk began its lift in the arcade, but was then ported to the 2600 and eventually to the 5200 and Vectrex. The 2600 version of the game is the only version I've played and can be had for just a few dollars typically on the secondary market.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

RIP Nintendo Wii Shop Channel

As most video game fans know by now, Nintendo will be closing the Wii Shop Channel in just 4 days, 03/26/18. After March 26th, you'll no longer be able to add Wii Points to your account. Come January 2019, the entire channel will be shut down.

With the deadline quickly approaching to add Wii Points, I accessed the Wii Shop channel last weekend on my Wii U and grabbed several games that I've been putting off. It's been a long time since I've even accessed the channel, so it was a little overwhelming looking at all of the titles that were offered across the different gaming platforms.

I've never been too interested in downloading NES or SNES games, so I kept to the titles in the TurboGrafx-16 library for the most part. Even though I own the original TG-16 hardware, the games have become stupid expensive on the secondary market and these digital versions were about $6 each. While I don't always care for digital games, this just made sense.


The first game I downloaded was the arcade version of Ninja Gaiden. I had fond memories if playing this game at a time share resort my parents used to take the family to up in the NC mountains. The download was reasonably priced so I went with it. After playing it the other night I'm afraid to say that this is one of those games that hasn't aged well. The controls seemed really stiff and the gameplay was just average. Granted I was playing with the Wiimote and not my Classic controller. I'll have to give it another go with the better controller and see if that helps.

I already owned a few of the excellent titles that were released on the WiiWare channel, such as Blaster Master, the Konami Rebirth titles (minus Gradius, that will be my last download) and even the shmup I never see mentioned anywhere, Star Solder R.

Thanks to several recommendations online, I grabbed the Famicom game Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa. I'm a big fan of Hudson and I've always wanted to play this, however I figured I'd just pick up the actual Famicom cart instead. This is another one of those games that thanks to YouTube, the price for the cart has steadily risen so this just seemed like the logical way to own the game (for now). I already had Ice Climber (my wife's choice) and Super Mario Bros. 3.


I grabbed a few TurboGrafx-16 shmps that sadly I don't own anymore, such as Blazing Lazers and Dead Moon. Again, the US version of the games are getting expensive and so are the PC Engine versions. I'll still pick up physical copies eventually, but for now that was a good $12 spent in my book. I also grabbed Ninja Spirit, a game that I've never played but have always heard good things about. I had a great time running through that game the other night.

I looked at several Neo Geo games as well, but I own an AES console and have an MVS adapter cart and have a pretty good SNK compilation on the PS2. Between the MVS games and the PS2 collection, I am pretty well covered. I do plan on going back and downloading the CD exclusive shmup Iron Clad while I still can.

I know I and many others keep waiting for Nintendo to make some kind of announcement for the Switch, because otherwise there are a lot of great games that will be disappearing very soon. Many of these games aren't available digitally on any other platform so I hope Nintendo works something out before the WiiShop Channel closes for good in January 2019.

Monday, March 5, 2018

New Acquisitions: February 2018



February seemed to come and go before I even knew it. It's already a short month and it went by so quick. I don't have a lot to show for the month, but I did pick up a few new games and one item for my game room. You can see above that my pick ups were all for Sony platforms, a rarity for me.


Hermie Hopperhead is a game I first saw on somebody's YouTube channel. It's an import friendly action platformer from Japan. I've only played it in small quantities thus far, but so far it seems to be a lot of fun. Best of all it was really cheap too!


I'm a shmup fan at heart so it's always a good day when I land a new shooter. I've always been a big fan of the original Raiden, but surprisingly I don't own a version of the original game since I sold the Atari Jaguar version. Just need to find myself a good arcade stick for the Playstation and then I'll be all set!


I originally imported this game from PlayAsia.com, but the language barrier was just too much for me to get past. I didn't think a game with anime chicks that transform into cars would get a western release...well I was wrong. What I have been able to play of this game I liked. Now that I'll be able to follow the story I'm looking even more forward to revisiting this game.


I know nothing of this game. I ran across it last month when I found Drive Girls and it was priced pretty cheaply and looked interesting. Haven't played it yet. Haven't even searched out any YouTube Let's Play videos. I noticed after I bought the game that it was also released on the PS4. Hopefully the Vita version holds up well.


Early in February I was treated to perhaps one of the best new additions to my game room in a very long time...a nice couch. Previously I had two Lazy Boy recliners, but they were hand me downs and starting to show a lot of wear. My chair in particular wasn't very comfortable after an hour or so. Playing games with my whole family meant my girls either had to sit in someone's lap or on the floor. I've been wanting to upgrade my seating for awhile, but couldn't find what I wanted that was in my price range. Finally my great step-father was able to find this like new couch at a Habitat for Humanity retail store and gave me a hand picking it up.


Now regardless of what system I want to play, I have a good view of either TV in a very comfortable setting. This makes long video game sessions much more fun as I melt into the couch. I'm starting to feel like my game room is nearing completion with this latest furniture addition.