Friday, August 29, 2014

Thank You August

I have to admit August has been a tough month for me in my personal life, there’s just a lot going on and my stress level has been at 11 most of the month. The worst part is there is no end in sight for a few more months.


This month has had its up sides with regards to gaming. I have had a very lucky month thanks to a few podcasts I have mentioned previously, as well as my favorite retro gaming store.

 Lucky Break Number 1

I have been listening to The Retro League podcast for a while now, and I am a huge fan of the show, and I even wrote a blog about the show some months back. Now, if you are unfamiliar with the show, let me first of all say you’re missing a lot so start listening but I digress.  Every week the hosts Rob and Hugues pick a question of the week at the end of each podcast that is put on Facebook, Twitter, The Retro League Forums, and that can answered via e-mail. The questions are always really fun and usually create some great conversations between gamers that involve a lot of reminiscing and story swapping. As much fun as it is to answer the questions on social media, answering by e-mail instead has the special benefit of putting gamers e-mail address into a fan of the month contest. The contest draws a random e-mail address monthly, and whoever is chosen wins a game(s).


Pic Cyborg Justice and Medal of Honor

 When I found out I was chosen as listener of the month I was extremely happy, since it was an honor to finally be chosen. I have to admit that I am actually listener of the month for July, and the drawing took place on the last weekend of July, but considering how close it all came to taking place in August though I’m chalking this one up to being an August lucky break.

 Lucky Break Number 2

Putting in 40 hours a week in a job that has you bound to your desk and spreadsheets all day its easy to run through a backlog of podcasts, and find yourself looking for new ones. With that I have added a few new favorites in the past two or three months including the Upper Memory Block podcast. The UMB is retro-video gaming about old PC games from the era before Windows XP, often thought of as being the golden age of PC gaming. In early July Joe the shows host held a giveaway to win a set of Sam & Max games from GOG. Much like The Retro League contest this one was done via e-mail as well, and also like The Retro League contest this one started in July, but was ultimately chosen in August.

Sam & Max Pic

I’m glad to say I one this one this one too

Lucky Break Number 3

Running on the same theme of something in July yielding dividends in August, there is the monthly drawing at my local retro video game store TNT Games. Basically if you purchase a certain dollar amount in merchandise from these stores they will give you a drawing ticket, with the mate for the ticket(s) placed in a fishbowl from which the winning tickets will be pulled on the 1st day of the following month (August). The four winning tickets are pulled and the winners receive a $50, $30, $20, or $10 gift card.  I stopped by TNT round about July 4th, got my tickets and then with the receipt put them on my dresser nearly forgetting about them till last week. I made a quick call over to the store and found out that one of my tickets was drawn, yielding me a $30 gift card.


Pic Tickets

I couldn’t wait to use them and bought Jr Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, Pac-man for the NES, and Pac-man 2 for the SNES, and one non Pac title Wrecking Crew for the NES (Pac-Man, Mario all front men right?). To say the least it was a good weekend for my son who is currently obsessed with Pac-Man, thanks to the Disney XD show Pac-Man: And the Ghostly Adventures.


Pic Games

 Overall, it’s been a good month for video game contests….now if I can only get the rest of the month to end well.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Atari at 200

I’m always amazed at how quickly I have grown my Atari 2600 collection. A year ago I didn’t even own a 2600, by New Years I had 90 games, and now 6 months later I have +/- 200. Of course the rest of my video gaming collection has grown by leaps and bounds as well, but the Atari 2600 has a special place in my heart. When I wrote my first article about my Atari collection after the first of the year I had to ask what it was that separated a casual collector from a serious one. What was it that would take me from someone simply dabbling in an old tech to someone who knows the system and its games with some authority?

I was actually somewhat surprised by the reaction I got when collectors operating in the 300+ range told me that 90 games meant I was pretty much already there as a serious collector. This let me know I was going in the right direction andat this point the serious or casual collector question no longer concerned me, but the future of my collecting did.


Although the climb up to 200 games has come very quickly (less than a year of collecting) that doesn’t mean it hasn’t come with its challenges, and costs. It has required a lot of research, and lot of searching hitting eBay, video games stores, thrift shops, and garage sales looking for any kind of finds. In almost a year the latter two places have only yielded one game to me, Solaris by Atari which I found a few months ago at Savers for $1.99. The rest of my collection has been from eBay or my local video game store TNT Games.

Another challenge with collecting something like this is always picking a place to start, and deciding how you are going to collect. In another one of my hobbies Record Collecting I find myself wandering around a bit collecting somewhat aimlessly, adding music I like but without any key goals. It’s nice to do things that way, but you really never know what to collect next. Luckily, having been a 2600 owner once before I knew what games to get, but at the same time once I re-bought all the games I owned years ago there was no direction following, but that didn’t last for long. Being a fan of the Atari 2600 Game by Game Podcast, and a user of Atariage’s website it didn’t take long for me to find direction. Thanks to Ferg and his amazing podcast I was inspired to begin collecting based on game publisher/developer, something that has worked out well and allowed me to navigatethrough the 700+ games of the Atari 2600 world with a little more ease.

Collecting by publisher/developer provides you with a challenge, as you try to figure out what games the publisher/developer made for the platform and then try finding them. So far I have collected iMagic, CBS Games, Mythicon (yuk), and the Xonox complete libraries, with the goal of polishing off Activision, Parker Brothers, and Absolute this year. Of course collecting via this method can come with some costs since some titles can be far rarer than others, part of why the latter three are still in progress.

Crossing the 200 barrier does come with some caveats though or so I have been warned by other collectors. Once you reach the 200 mark the climb to 300 isn’t so easy as games become rarer and rarer, since the first 200 games tend to consist of the more popular, and readily available titles. I have no doubts this is true as every tier (as one collector told me) of a 100 games brings you deeper and deeper into the rare. You go from $.99 copies of Space Invaders to $150.00 copies of Swordquest: Waterworld, and Chase the Chuckwagon.

So to all my Atari 2600 collectors out there, where do you stand on all this? What is collecting to you? How have you built your collection? I look forward to hearing from you all.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Podcast of Retro Gaming: 2 Dudes and a NES

Tom Arnold would be impressed!

I always find podcast after they have been on for 6 months or more, with 2 years somehow being a magic number. Not, this time though not with 2 Dudes and a NES I managed to find them a month after they started the podcast which made catching up on past episodes really easy.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself aren’t I? After spending the first few months of this year building up my Atari 2600 collection, and I got my NES fixed and decided it was time to start building up my NES collection a little more.  Having a gotten a lot of guidance on Atari 2600 game collecting  from the Atari 2600 Game by Game Podcast I decided to poke around the Throwback Network a little more to see if they had any podcast on NES collecting, and they did the 2 Dudes and a NES. Seeing how the podcast was only about a month old I decided the first episode I would listen to would be the podcasts first episode as well Super Mario Bros. The first episode was good but not what I would call awesome, but I decided to listen a little more. I was glad I did because the third episode Double Dragon had me laughing almost from beginning to end. After that the shows just got better, including a the “Tom Arnold would be impressed!”, remark that was made in one of the early episodes and continues to be used as a running gag.

What I like the most about the show is its energy. The “2 Dudes” Justin and Michael pretty much talk very quickly and with a great deal of excitement through the whole episode, which makes it a lot of fun. In addition to that the shows format is just a little different than the norm. Sure they discuss the games development, music, and gameplay like other gaming podcast do on their respective games, but the “2 Dudes”, cover these topics very quickly not getting in-depthpersay but providing you with enough information to understand the how and why behind the game, which is actually kind of refreshing.

There are also two original segments that I like as well, “Where did Justin Find the Game”, and “Retro-Fitted Trophy’s”. The “Where” segment gives you some idea as to how easy it is to find the game, the host Justin will let you know if the game is easily found in retro video game stores, if it’s an online find, or if your best off emulating it due to rareness and price. The “Retro-Fitted Trophy’s” segment is a really great one as well since it takes the rating segment of a lot of other podcast to a different and more creative level. The hostsassign each game a trophy, that wasn’t part of the original game. In the Anticipation episode for instance the trophy’s where: These heels are going to walk all over you -   beat the game as the high heels (icon), or Skynet take over – Beat the game over the three AI opponents on very hard setting. These make challenges for the game that weren’t originally part of it, but that you might see in modern games. Then there are the ratings themselves, for the Anticipation episode the theme of board games was chosen since Anticipationis a board game of sorts, Justin chose Candyland, and Mike Life these unique ratings are not only fun but give you an interesting comparison as to the game of the week may be like.

Now, if you have read my past reviews of podcasts you will know that music playing in the background the whole time is a pet peeve of mine in podcast, and sadly it is done during 2 Dudes and a NES. The good news is that the shows energy and format is such that annoying music in the background can be pretty easily overcome as the host keep your attention, by keeping the podcast very fun and fast moving.

Be sure to check this one out. You can find the on iTunes at 2 Dudes and a NES part of the Throwback Network, as well as on Facebook, and Twitter, you can also check out their website at