No, Anya, Au Revoir: RIP Sir Roger Moore

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Roger Moore is the first of the officially recognized James Bond actors to pass away. And in life, he always got way too much shit.

See, James Bond was one of the first ‘things’ I ever got into slightly later on. I always liked video games, I always liked music, I always bought toys. But during my senior year of high school, thanks to a combination of various factors, I got SUPER into James Bond. Like, read all the books, watched all the movies, played all the video games, even tracked down the occasional comic they did.

And in my burgeoning days of Bond fandom, visiting forums and reading articles, one thing seemed to jump out at me – people weren’t too sure how to feel about Roger Moore.

Some said he was too comedic. Some said they hated his portrayal of Bond. Some say he had the worst writing and directing of the series. Whatever the reason, it seemed like the internet just never care for poor Sir Moore.

I don’t exactly think that’s fair. I’ve seen his James Bond, I’ve seen his Simon Templar, I’ve seen his Lord Brett Sinclair, I’ve even seen him in ffolkes, and I think Roger Moore is a fantastic example of an actor who’s always willing to do the best he can with what he has to work with.
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My First Month As A Switch Owner

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Even with as bitter as I am these days, and I freely admit I’m a cranky contrarian who’s hard to talk to a lot of times, there’s a few things in the world that can turn me back into a gibbering nerdy 12-year-old like I’ve secretly (?) always been. It’s a short list of things that include “seeing Weird Al in concert” and “WrestleMania weekend”, but one of the big ones is the launch of a new Nintendo system.

I’ve had a streak of owning every Nintendo system at launch since the 64 (which only technically counts since my parents wouldn’t let me play it until the following Christmas, but it’s not like I’m still mad or anything) and no matter how many system launches I’m there for, or how many times I’ve found myself slightly let down after the fact, the launch of a new Nintendo console or handheld turns me into a frantic child, giddy at the prospect of what’s to come.

To literally nobody’s surprise anywhere, the Switch announcement was no exception to this. In fact, I was probably more excited for the Switch than I was their last few systems, and I say this as someone who never shut up about the Wii U even long after that ship had sunk.

Something about the lineup, the design of the system, and the enthusiasm about the idea that Nintendo seemed to put forth every time they talked about it got under my skin and I spent entirely too much money to make sure I got a Switch at launch.

I’ve spent about a month or so with it (as of this writing) and, as hyperbolic as this sounds, I can honestly say that not only is it my favorite new console in a very long time, it may have actually gotten me excited about video games again.
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Four Toys I Bought At A Car Show

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

(Straight off the bat, I 100% ripped off the format and idea for this post from Dinosaur Dracula, a blog whose author I have been a fan of for a very long time and who is much better at this than I am. Go check out his stuff if you want to see what this post is SUPPOSED to look like, or if you just want to see a grown man drink 20-year-old Kool-Aid packets!)

Recently I’ve found myself getting hardcore back into wrestling. I bring this up because it’s going to be kind of a throughline for the whole article, even if it isn’t strictly about wrestling toys. As a kid I grew up pretty staunchly pro-WCW, watching years worth of Nitro episodes (and furthering my decades-long streak of always picking the wrong side in the important kid’s pop culture battles, having also grown up preferring DC to Marvel and the Genesis to the SNES) and occasionally dabbling in WWF RAW or In Your House when I’d find myself in the company of a fellow wrestling fan, but I really drifted away from it in recent years. I can’t quite put a finger on how or why it happened, but around 2015 I suddenly found myself possessed to watch Wrestlemania that year, and ever since then I’ve been both keeping up on the new stuff and going back to revisit stuff I either watched at the time or missed out on due to reasons.

I bring this up to clarify why, exactly, I was at a car show. I’ve never really been a “car person” as such – there’s cars I like, I tend to get picky about the cars I drive, but like I don’t tend to get as excited about seeing old hot rods or NASCAR vehicles the same way an actual car person would, and as such I tend to find myself skipping the myriad car shows around Detroit.

This year was different, though. I heard through the grapevine that Autorama was going to offer a chance to get autographs from none other than the former leader of the Bullet Club, AJ Styles. As my favorite current wrestler I had to meet him. I did, it was fun, and afterwards while wandering around the show killing time I made a remarkable discovery: there were people at Autorama that sell toys. Elated by having just met the Nature Hoot, I took a poop around the weird toy corner and this is what I left with:

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Drink’n Games Episode 1: Einhander

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Hey everyone! I know I’ve been gone for forever, and while I am beyond positive nobody noticed I’m happy to come back with a somewhat new feature. Sort of.

See, a few years ago, I was briefly employed by a British gaming website called The Game Jar. It’s no longer with us now, but through my bumbling and constant need for rewrites I made a lot of friends and learned a lot about writing, both in general and specifically when it comes to video games and the other bullshit I try tackling here.

Along the way, my editor (a gentleman named Sean who I am still pleased to call my friend) stumbled upon the idea that since my Internet presence consists largely of pictures of beer and complaining about video games, why not combine the two? He suggested I make a drinking game out of it, and write rules as to when I should drink and why, and chronicle how well it goes for me. Since the beers were always new to me, and the games were either new or at least something I hadn’t touched in forever, the results generally didn’t go well.

After The Game Jar sadly folded, the idea kind of stewed in my mind until, in a jealous fit upon seeing Jeremy Parish’s “Gintendo” series (as well as a lot of Game Center CX, a series I hold dear to my heart), the idea hit me to bring Drink’n Games back as a video series so you can see my shame live and in person!

So after a few weeks of filming, editing, and hangovers, here’s the first filmed Drink’n Games. I wanted to throw up some more helpful text but frankly this thing has taken too goddamn much of my life in the first place so I’m putting the video up to kind of exist on its own terms.

They’ll get better as I do more of them. Promise.

 

Indoor Living – My Summer Games List 2016

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Look, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I’m a talented enough writer to think that you all need me to explain how important summer vacation was to a kid. We’ve all had them, we’ve all enjoyed them, we’ve all dreaded their passage, there’s not really much I can contribute to that conversation.

With that in mind, it’s fair to say they were just as important to me as they were you. I was never really a family of big summer plans; never went to camp (and thank fuck because I would have hated every fucking second of it if it wasn’t Space Camp), never went away for an entire summer, never even went to the ocean until much later in life – really, my big summer events that weren’t a long-weekend trip to Toronto or Chicago were largely spent sleeping in and/or eating too much at grandpa’s house.

Not that I’m complaining! Then, as now, I was a lonely young man who really valued his free time away from people, and what better way to spend that time than with video games? Any kind of break from school was, to me, the perfect time to catch up on video games and finally make some goddamn progress, whether it was Chrono Trigger or Metal Gear Solid or whatever. As a result, the majority of my most pleasant gaming memories revolve around summertime, and I try to uphold that tradition as much as I can by staying inside all goddamn summer and playing all the goddamn video games I can!

It gets a little harder as time goes by, though, because now there’s too many goddamn video games and as a result anything I want to remember having played in the summer has to compete with like twelve other games I’ve thought about getting into. To that end I’ve decided to try to keep a record of every summer game I play going forward, starting with these choice nuggets! Join me, won’t you?

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The Dream Of The 90’s Is Alive At My House – Dreamcast GD-EMU Review

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

So it’s no surprise to anybody that I’m obsessed with Sega’s final console, some…fifteen years and change after it shuffled off this mortal coil (an event that coincided with me having to start high school, which if I were a dickhead I’d say was some representation of me having to start the journey into adulthood or something). I play mine with a frequency, and I still lug it over to a number of friend’s houses to get back on the multiplayer for a number of games – indeed, it was really the only time I could ever claim to be good at Quake III Arena, and even then it was because I had the mouse & keyboard.

The only real problem is that they just don’t last too long. I got mine shortly after launch and it’s held up fine enough so far, but browse the Internet for any length of time and you’ll see dozens of accounts of people whose Dreamcasts have just stopped reading discs, thanks to the…er…touchy specificness of the GD-ROM laser lens. And while technology has allowed us to emulate the system well enough, it still isn’t 100%, and for a long time there was no Everdrive-like solution to replacing the need for physical games, even if you’ve been able to burn pirated copies since about a month after the damn thing came out.

Until now. Thanks to an industrious young man in Poland with the patience of a saint (and the skill with a soldering iron to match), I now have access to every goddamn Dreamcast game I could ever want to play. Even that shitty fucking South Park quiz game.

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Ghostbusters Is Fine, I’m Fine, Everything is Fine

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Somehow, despite all the doomsaying and gnashing of manbaby teeth, the new Ghostbusters came out and everything was fine. Trump isn’t President, everyone’s childhoods were exactly as they left them, and we’re not trapped under some kind of grand feminist conspiracy that only exists to replace the cherished franchise media of our youth with – gasp! – girls.

As a matter of fact, it looks like it kinda went how all movie openings went – the people that wanted to see it saw it, the people that didn’t wanna see it didn’t, and everyone’s lives went much the same as they would have otherwise, plus or minus one screening of Ghostbusters. It almost goes to show that maybe everyone didn’t need to get so goddamned uptight about the fact a movie was coming out that was called the same thing as a movie they liked as kids, and also had women in it?

But hey, I’m not an expert, just a guy who talks a lot on the internet, and besides this article isn’t about jean shorts and Reddit – it’s about Ghostbusters!

And as you should not be at all surprised to learn, I went opening weekend with my super best friend in the world (and longtime fellow Ghostbuster) to see a screening at the theater back in my hometown that had recently installed some fancy-ass seats. Full of peach schnapps and overpriced mac ‘n cheese from a nearby restaurant, I braced myself for what was to come.

Guess what? I liked it. I really fucking liked it.

ghostbusters 2016 cosplay and proton pack

Yes, a grown adult who looks like this was really okay with the new Ghostbusters movie. QUELLE SURPRISE.

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Solutions for the Future – RetroPie Review

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

So ever since I was a kid and I first learned they existed, I’ve been obsessed with emulators. There could be any number of reasons for this, but after some soul-searching I think it’s fair to say that my interest mostly stems from the idea that I could access a console’s entire library whenever the hell I wanted without the time or expense of actually, you know, going out and buying them.

But even ahead of that, the idea of having access to them was way more important. No matter what game it was, whether it was a forgotten title from my youth or some random Japanese game that we never got over here, I always found a great deal of psychological comfort in the idea that basically any game I wanted was right there waiting for me on the internet whenever the mood should strike me. It’s allowed me to keep up with old, long-lost favorites and try out all-new experiences. Illegal? Inarguably. Morally dubious? Absolutely. But convenient as hell and oddly comforting? Goddamn right.

The only kicker is that sometimes emulating it just seems so…fake. Call me a big whiner, but to me the experience of sitting in front of the TV, controller in hand, isn’t exactly the same as being cooped up in an office chair in front of a monitor watching Nesticle fake its way through Contra Force or Little Samson for you. So over the last year or so I’ve been experimenting with a number of methods to better replicate the whole “TV-and-console” experience with emulation, whether with different EverDrive cartridges, my modded Wii, or whatever.

During a trip to a friend’s wedding that required me to dress like a Viking, I was exposed to the wonder and convenience of the Raspberry Pi, and specifically the RetroPie software suite/GUI that offers access to a number of different system emulators and the capacity to play whatever damn game I felt like, so long as it wasn’t any newer than, say, the Dreamcast.

Is it perfect? No. But it’s pretty awesome in its own right, and it’s sure as hell easier than actually, you know, buying video games.

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New Adventures in Hi-Def: iScan VP30 Video Upscaler Review

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

(So let’s make this obvious right off the bat – for as nerdy as this shit gets sometimes, I freely admit that this particular article is gonna get a little out there, so apologies in advance if this isn’t a subject any of you find particularly appealing. I still felt like it was information worth getting out there.)

Thanks to a recent Retronauts episode dealing with the pains of playing old video games on modern-day TVs, I found myself confronting a problem that I’d tried so hard to run from so many times before: I didn’t have a good way to play retro games on my TV.

That isn’t to say I’m for want of systems, by any means – at this point I own god knows how many Famiclones for various purposes and needs, and I’ve recently started investing heavily in Everdrives and flash carts to make sure I’ve always got whatever games I need right at hand.

But…they just never looked that great. My current (and probable future) living situation is fairly prohibitive of me owning a CRT television, or at least one worth any kind of shit. Plugging a non-HD system directly into an HDTV will never not look like pure ass, and while there are a few clone systems out there that offer HDMI output they come with their own unique problems.

So I researched my options and finally did the thing I tried to stop myself doing so many times before: I bought a video upscaler.

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Learning to Love The Nintendo Wii

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

So, for people like myself that can’t stop talking about old video games, toys, and movies, there’s one constant, unavoidable problem that I (and assume others) find myself running into:

Given enough time, everything is old.

The march of time and its resulting onslaught of entropy and decay means that every single thing you experience will one day be considered ‘retro’ until you no longer experience anything. I bring this up not to be morbid, merely to illustrate the existential dilemma anyone on the internet is inevitably going to face when trying to discuss old movies, retro video games, old bands, or anything. I primarily spend my time on this blog writing about things I liked as a child (NES games, Ghostbusters, Transformers) but the farther my life goes the more sobering truths I have to face about how everything I like will be old one day.

Such as this: the Nintendo Wii is going to be TEN YEARS OLD in November.

And you know what? I almost like it more now than I did then.

nintendo_wii_box

Fuck off, 2006, I spent most of that year wearing skinny ties looking like a dipshit in a ska band (because I was) cruising in a haze of caffeine and X-Files torrents, I don’t need to feel bad about that

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