Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My Final Trip to Gibraltar

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

Sign outside of Gibraltar Trade Center, Mt. Clemens Michigan

It’s funny how we get attached to certain places, isn’t it?

We all have the usual childhood memories: playgrounds, carnivals, grandpa’s house, the video store.  That said, I know each one of you reading this has super fond childhood remembrances of somewhere not quite as ‘standard’. Places like a skeezy boardwalk, or a gross bar and grill your family would go for dinner, or the weird gymnastics hall you had a birthday party at.

Growing up I loved stuff as much as I do now, a fact you may have gathered from how I’ve posted about toys a number of times already. And as you might have noticed, a lot of the stuff I liked was either from slightly before my time (Ghostbusters and Transformers), a little harder to come by through the normal means (anime crap, import Famicom games), or both. For a very long time, if you lived in Southeast Michigan, the best place to get any of that stuff was a little place called Gibraltar Trade Center.

Clearly using “trade center” as a gussied-up synonym for “flea market” or “dirt mall” (as my sister and I would start calling it after we first saw Mallrats), Gibraltar was a paradise of whatever random purchases the 90s could throw up on you. Unsharpened swords, wolf paintings, comics and toys from the past 10-15 years, overpriced import anime goods, T-shirts with your name lovingly airbrushed over a picture of a sunset, computer parts, and some of the greasiest goddamn pizza you can imagine. Gibraltar quickly became one of my favorite places in the world as a child, and would remain so other than a brief and sad period in the mid-2000s wherein it was overrun by gross white people that super wanted to sell your Confederate flags and “war memorabilia”.

It was a constant fixture in my life, the kind of place I could always go whenever I needed to find some Game Boy games.

And suddenly, I heard it was closing.
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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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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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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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I’m Beginning to Cave In on the New Ghostbusters (And It Feels So Good)

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

If you’ve ever spoken to me for any length of time, or even read a certain previous article wherein I was mega-sad about Harold Ramis passing away, you know that Ghostbusters as a movie series (and, really, just as a concept) remains super-important to me, and has been since I was a child. Few movies have impacted me like the two Ghostbusters movies did, and I’ve met a lot of friends and had a ton of fun memories through the entirety of my life thanks to the very idea of being a Ghostbuster.

So you can imagine my mixed reaction when I found out they were making a new one. I have to absolutely stress that my hesitation is in no way related to the fact the cast is all female – actually, the fact they were going to all be women was sort of a saving grace for me, since I feel like most reboots don’t do enough to set them apart and having an all-female cast was at least a start.

And yet…I couldn’t shake the feeling this movie just didn’t need to exist, just like basically no remake does. Ghostbusters was getting remade, and even if everyone involved was pretty cool, I didn’t see much need for it to happen. But then I saw one picture that started to change my mind, and I’ve been slowly finding myself in favor of it ever since.

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I Should’ve Played This Sooner: Air Fortress

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

I feel like “space” was a really common setting for many games of the 8- and 16-bit eras. And why not? Everyone everywhere was still kind of coasting on the good vibes of Star Wars and Aliens, and the setting itself allowed for a degree of freedom; not that it really mattered a ton on the NES but making your enemies invaders from the stars meant they could look and act like basically whatever you felt like drawing and programming. I was pretty into space as a kid, but not in a scientific way – being an actual astronaut would be boring as hell, but I was always down for Rad Gravity or Solar Jetman or really any game that gave me the slightest pretense of leaving the chains of Earth’s gravity to launch myself into battle against nefarious invaders/native citizens of other planets who weren’t really bothering anyone.

Due to the popularity and/or wide-ranging gameplay styles of ‘games set in space’ (which, let’s face it, isn’t a super helpful descriptor for anyone), obviously there were going to be a few that slipped through the cracks of my youthful video game times. One, however, stuck with me a bit more than others, and now that I’m a grown up with my own money, I can finally put it to bed. Hubcap, Ironhide, what are we playing today?

WP_20140927_003

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So I Own A Sega CD Now, I Guess

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Around Christmas 2013 I got struck with a sudden urge to buy myself a new video game system, because there’s no better time to spend money on yourself than the holidays. Having not bought a new retro console lately and spending most of the summer beefing up my Saturn collection, I browsed eBay for a few options until I found a good price for a CDX bundle, that end-of-life combination Genesis/Sega CD I heard so many good things about.

I’d wanted a CDX for a while since my old beloved Genesis had kinda taken a dump, so I took the plunge and ordered it.

A few bottles of Moosehead later, it dawned on me what just happened: I now owned a Sega CD.

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The Mystery of the Missing Galaxies

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Greetings, citizens of the universe, and welcome to Video-Tron 2000! My name is Tim, and this is my personal platform to espouse opinions about the same pop culture detritus that any uppity suburban twenty-something would take the time to do a website about. There isn’t a lot you need to know about me that you won’t be able to glean from my articles and I’m sure you also don’t need a big wordy introduction to yet one more starving writer’s nerd blog, so I won’t take up any more of your time here.

My inaugural post comes to you on a hint of mystery and tragedy, if you have strong opinions about this sort of thing: the disappearance of Twin Galaxies!

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