Videogames Hardware Handbook

January 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Videogames Hardware HandbookI’m a big fan of Retro Gamer magazine, despite how expensive it is to get here in the US (it’s a UK import).  It’s a fantastic classic gaming mag, jam packed with lots of great content in every issue (the typical issue is 114 pages, with virtually no ads).

One of my favorite parts of the magazine is their recurring “Retroinspection” feature.  With this feature, they give an overview of a particular gaming platform. They go into its history, its strenghts and weaknesses, relevance in the marketplace at the time, and oftentimes even interview key players involved with the platform in some way.  These articles are a great introduction to the different platforms that are out there, and the “Perfect Ten” portions where they recommend 10 games everyone should play are a great way to figure out where to start when exploring a new system.

So, when Retro Gamer released a compliation of past Retroinspections over the holidays, I knew I had to have it — especially considering how interested I am in collecting hardware.  Videogames Hardware Handbook: The Game Machine Collector’s Manual covers a 22 year timespan from 1977 to 1999 and covers everything from consoles to handhelds to odd British 8-bit computers that we never saw over here (but are crazy popular over there).  You get info on all the platforms you’d expect, like the Atari 2600, NES, Genesis (or the Mega Drive, as they call it), plus some of the more obscure, like the 3DO, Jaguar, NEC PC-FX, and 8-bits like the ZX Spectrum and Dragon 32.  Basically, it’s 256 pages of pure content covering 35 different platforms.

Unfortunately, though, it’s not comprehensive.  Since this is a compliation of past articles instead of fresh content, anything that wasn’t already covered in a Retroinspection isn’t included.  So, no Colecovision, no 32X, no Neo-Geo, and no PlayStation.  Nevertheless, if you’re into retro game collecting, I’m finding it a fascinating compliation and a great value.

Note that I’m in no way affiliated with Imagine Publishing and this isn’t a paid ad or anything.  I just really like Retro Gamer magazine and this special edition.  I want everyone to know about it!  And I want it to sell well enough that they make a second volume covering all the platforms that weren’t included in this edition…

RetroTube: Bound High video (Virtual Boy)

October 3, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Now that I’m starting to do more with the site the last few weeks, I figured I’d start up some of the old features I used to post. So with that said, I have a new RetroTube for you. This isn’t exactly new or groundbreaking footage or anything like that, but I stumbled upon it for the first time a couple of days ago and thought it was really interesting — especially since I’ve been recently reacquainted with the Virtual Boy after repairing mine last week.

There are a couple of holy grails in the Virtual Boy “scene” (what little scene there may be). Right before the system was killed off, a second generation of games was nearing release that were supposed to take better advantage of the hardware and really make the system shine. The two most anticipated games were Dragon Hopper and Bound High. Both were nearly (if not totally) complete, but were never released. As such, Virtual Boy fans still crave the games to this day, but with only a few accounts of sightings at tradeshows and a handful of low-quality screenshots to whet their appetites. Well, it turns out that Bound High has actually made it into the hands of at least one member of the public, and he’s posted the only extended video footage of the game that I’ve ever seen:
YouTube Preview ImageAnd a second (shorter, lower quality) video with a sample of the game’s sounds:
YouTube Preview Image

Maybe Dragon Hopper will be next?

A Virtual Spanish Surprise

September 30, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

I recently bought a few Virtual Boy games off of eBay and they came in the mail yesterday.  The interesting thing about this transaction is that I bought them from a seller in Mexico.  The set came with Panic Bomber (loose), Wario Land (complete), and Teleroboxer (complete).  Well, when they arrived, I discovered that not only were Wario Land and Teleroboxer complete, they were still sealed!  But then, on closer inspection, I noticed they weren’t quite sealed.  Both games were very purposefully slit open at the top.  Collectors sometimes do this to keep everything in the most pristine possible condition, so I didn’t make much of it.  Until I noticed that, strangely, the shrinkwrap wasn’t cut enough to actually open the flaps and get the games out.  What was the point of that?

Well, once I opened them the rest of the way (yes, I’m a dirty sealed-games opener), it became obvious.  Remember, the games came from a seller in Mexico.  They’re identical in every way to the US release.  In fact, they probably are the same as the US releases, except for one thing — someone went through and slid a printout of Spanish-language instructions into them!  It’s pretty trivial, but as an enthusiast, I found it to be an interesting discovery.  In fact, it made me realize I hadn’t even considered Mexico as much of a gaming market.  I wonder if this is how they get most of their games?  Hand-me-downs from the US, stuffed with Spanish instructions as almost an afterthought?

Anyway, for you collectors out there, I guess there are a few extra pieces of official documentation you have to pick up to have a complete set!  Have a look:

Official Spanish instructions for Wario Land and Teleroboxer

Latest Haul and Impressions: TurboGrafx-16 Edition

March 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Latest Haul (3/19/08)Boy, I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of money on games lately.  But between the 3DO Testing Station last month and this haul this month, that’s not far from the truth.  In fact, it is the truth!  And to think, I’ll be going to the Midwest Gaming Classic in a couple of weeks, too…  Argh, good thing it’s tax refund season!

Anyway, the latest group of stuff contains Space Squash for the Virtual Boy, which I already reviewed, and four titles for the TurboGrafx-16: Air Zonk, Blazing Lazers, Keith Courage in Alpha Zones, and Parasol Stars.  Between getting these four games just recently, Buster Bros. not long ago, and all the games I already had, I’m building a nice little Turbo collection.  I love this system!  Anyway, here are my thoughts so far:

  • Space Squash (Virtual Boy): See the review.  ($48 new, eBay)
  • Air Zonk (TurboGrafx-16): A bright, colorful, cute-em-up in the spirit of Bonk, but in the future.  This is a great little shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously, so it’s hard not to have fun with it.  The graphics are some of the best the Turbo has to offer, and the sound ain’t too shabby, either.  (~$30, pcenginefx.com member)
  • Blazing Lazers (TurboGrafx-16): Another shoot-em-up, but this one is a little more standard than Air Zonk.  A little easy for the first half, but the difficulty ramps up later.  It’s a vertical scroller and the graphics are solid but not stunning.  The sound is good and even includes some (fairly muffled) voice samples.  Just a good, solid game in general. (~$10, pcenginefx.com member).
  • Keith Courage in Alpha Zones (TurboGrafx-16): This was a pack-in for the original TG16, but since I have a Turbo Duo, I never got to experience it.  As far as pack-ins go… Well, NEC could have done better.  It’s not a bad game, it’s just no Mario or Sonic, you know?  Anyway, it gets trashed on a bit, but I’m having some fun with it.  It’s better than I expected. I love the revolver-heads!  (~$2.50, pcenginefx.com member)
  • Parasol Stars (TurboGrafx-16): aka The Story of Bubble Bobble 3.  If you like Bubble Bobble, you’ll like this game!  And who doesn’t like Bubble Bobble?  The play mechanics are different in that there’s no blowing bubbles — you use a magical parasol (yes, you read that right) to stun and throw enemies.  It’s bright, extremely colorful, and ridiculously cheerful and appealing.  (~$30, pcenginefx.com member)

The TG16 prices are estimates because I bought them as a lot.  I assigned a price that totals what I paid, but divided according to their approximate individual value.  All in all, I’d say this is one of my best hauls yet (and it better be, considering how much it all cost).  I’m enjoying all of these games!  Naturally, stay tuned for the full reviews of each (whenever those may come).

Oh, and one more thing.  Given how much I’ve spent on games the last couple months, I’m putting a one month moratorium on new game purchases after MGC.  Hey, maybe I’ll actually play all these!

Space Squash (Virtual Boy)

March 16, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

Space Squash - Title ScreenSpace Squash - GameplaySpace Squash - Map Screen

It’s a lot of fun when this happens.  I’ve wanted Space Squash for the Virtual Boy for something like 10 years now — since a little after I got the VB.  I never really bit the bullet because it’s an import-only game and was always kind of expensive.  Then I packed up the system for several years and never really touched it.  Well, I got it out a couple weekends ago, dusted it off, and started playing again.  Naturally, that made me want to buy more games for the system (such is the plight of the classic game collector).  Then, when some fairly reasonably priced new copies of Space Squash showed up on eBay (as they seem to be doing regularly now), I decided it was time.  But would it live up to 10 years worth of anticipation?  Surprisingly, yes!  And maybe more!

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