Friday, June 10, 2016

No Mans Sky Meets Gamings Falling Skies of Behavior

About three weeks ago we first started hearing rumors that No Mans Sky may be delayed by a few months. As someone who pre-ordered the game I just said "cool!" and went about my daily life, I mean sure I'd love to have the game by the end of this month, but things happen in the world of video game development. To be honest I have to gave the developers props on the fact that they are trying to give us a completed and bug free game, and not just ship what they have as other game developers have done in the past. I mean what's really the issue with taking a little more time since this game, like Star Citizen, is an extremely ambitious project and releasing it two months too soon, and full of bugs would undermine everything they have worked so hard on in the past three years.

Not more than 48 hours after word hit the internet that the game was officially postponed for an August release, stories began to pour in about death threats to the developers. It's at that point I began to roll my eyes at the stupidity of those conducting these acts. Somehow in my mind I keep imagining shut-ins huddled over their computers in a dark room, with the general appearance of "Comic Book Store Guy" from The Simpsons. Their minds filled with fevered anger that the game is delayed, and the two months wait will forever ruin their lives, fully solidifying the fact that they've checked out of reality. 

My question is why does the delayed release of a video game require death threats? I mean does this game suck one into it alá Tron, or lead one to being called upon by a galactic alliance alá The Last Starfighter? Do these individuals somehow believe this is honestly a life or death matter? I mean is perhaps one of them the prince of Epsilon Theta III holding a secret that can save the universe, and No Mans Sky will open a Stargate like portal to get him home? I don't mean to poke fun (well actually I do) but what exactly is the logic behind such actions? I mean lets think about this a bit, they're angry the game is delayed so they threaten to kill its creators, hmm!. Doesn't anything register in their heads that murdering the games makers may pretty much postpone the game indefinitely or cancel it all together? 

So here are some suggestions to those who feel their threats aren't getting them anywhere. Try using the "carrot on a stick" approach. Rather then threaten to kill No Mans Sky's creators why not offer then something nice for completing the game before late August. How about offering to, I don't know...make them fresh baked cookies, or buy them a cup of Starbucks, or hey how about sending them a free copy of No Mans Sky on Steam. Better yet how about, as William Shatner put it in his now infamous SNL-Star Trek Convention skit, you "GET A LIFE!", and learn its just a video game. 

All kidding aside though, stories like these have become more and more commonplace in the world of gaming, and its a really disturbing trend. Death threats to developers over delayed releases, glitches, minor changes in game play, and even the firing time of in game weapons are just a few of the many stories we have heard like this over the past few years. Lets not also forget the ongoing joke of pre-pubescent boys angrily yelling obscenities at each other on headsets over games of Modern Warfare and whatnot as well. Sure, I've played multiplayer before and I've seen people do some really dick things, but these kids take it to a whole new level that I'm pretty sure would garner them weeks of detention or community service if they did it at their respective schools to their fellow students. 

Sure there is a serious side to video gaming, and there are many titles out there now with mature themes, but when does someone stop treating it as a video game and instead treat it like a life changing event that justifies being nasty to other human beings in the real world? In a way I have to wonder why people who act this way would want to even play a game like No Mans Sky, when the games main premise is solitude and exploration, and there's no one around to abuse. To be honest I think the most exciting part of No Mans Sky will be the month after it comes out when all these type of folks bail on the game since it wasn't what they where expecting, and those of us looking for a more cerebral and relaxing experience can move more freely. 

So what about you, how do you feel about the death threats to No Man's Sky developers? How do you feel about different types of  behavior in online mutli-player? Lastly, what are your thoughts on No Mans Sky?


Thursday, June 9, 2016

8-bit Friday's - The Diaries: June 3, 2016

Well welcome to the month of June. It's been pretty hot one here in Northern Illinois, which to me is a good sign we'll have a real summer. Anyway, it's been a long week even if it has been only 4 days long, all I can say is Tuesday and Wednesday were real doozies, and I'm happy to have made it to the weekend.

This Friday's Buys 

Image Fight (NES) - Yes, after a week hiatus the SHMUP buying has started again. Image Fight is said to be one of the best SHMUPS on the NES, and I'm eager to find out if that's true. In all actuality this is also somewhat of an obscure title too so that makes me all the more glad to get this one. 

Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection (PS2) - I guess I'm following a trend I started last week and adding another pinball themed game to my collection. There are actually a lot of pinball themed games available on a variety of systems but this one is said to be one of the best, not only as a pinball themed title but as a late PS2 title as well. 

Revenge of the Gator (GB) - This is another one I've heard a lot about since it was first mentioned as a game of the week on The Retro League some months back. Yes, this is another pinball add and it goes to show you how many pinball games are out there. To me summer is also the season of the Game Boy, so maybe this will be the start to some additional Game Boy adds this summer. 

This Friday's Plays 

D-Force (SNES) - This is one of those games you've seen in stores and at conventions and probably ignored since you had know idea what it was about. To be honest I had run into it a number of times at my local retro video game store, and thought it must be some sort of Contra type rip off. Believe it or not it's actually a SHMUP, and a mediocre one at that. Now if you do you know anything about this game you know it his reputation for moving slowly, however don't confuse slowly with being easy. I played this game about four times straight and each time died in the same place.  It goes from barely moving to becoming a bullet hell in the blink of an eye. But hey the crashing graphics are pretty cool! 

As far as the plot, something about a nuclear (powered or armed?) Apache helicopter and fighting a “mid-eastern dictator” presumably Saddam Hussein. 

U.N. Squadron (SNES) - I’ll plug my friends at the Retro Rewind Podcast by saying I first heard about this game from them. This is also considered one of the 10 best SHMUPS on the SNES, and unlike Earth Defense Force this is the real deal with being a great game. It’s also a pretty tough one to get far on. U.N. Squadron is an airplane based horizontally scrolling SHMUP, that was ported to the SNES from a Capcom arcade game and you can see that while playing it. What I like most about this game are the aircraft themselves, which are all based on real aircraft sharing the same identification numbers, albeit the flight characteristics are utterly unrealistic. 

As far as the plot, the title should fill you in about the whole U.N. Squadron thing is formed to protect the world against super-baddies. 

Super C (NES) - I don't need to say much about this one other then it's a classic run and gun and excellent sequel to Contra. I'd like to thank the 2 Dudes Traders a trading page set up on Facebook  by the host of the 2 Dudes and a NES podcast for hooking me up with a trusted seller for this one and a few other games. 

Plot- Super Commandos vs Alien Baddies (see Contra)

Well that was some of this weekends plays, and it was definitely a weekend of challenging games this time around. Well, I have another long week ahead so until next time...

Friday, June 3, 2016

iCade: One More Go

I seek to answer the question is it an iCade or just iCandy? 

On a hot summer day in 2014 my family and I set out for the Underground Retrocade in West Dundee, IL. It had been years since I was in a true arcade last, and the feeling of experiencing games that way again was nearly intoxicating. There's nothing quite like those large buttons, full sized arcade sticks, and cabinet speakers pulling you in and making your surroundings disappear. 

After that I was determined to get a machine of my own, but to be honest there wasn't really any room for one at my house of the time so I had to give that dream up temporarily. About a month later I heard the iCade being discussed on The Retro League, and I decided to look it up for myself on Amazon. Here was mini-arcade cabinet with an arcade controller and buttons, and all that had to be added was an iPad, which I did have. The only thing was it was going for about $100 at that time, and I decided I could wait till later or even go without. Than about a month later The Retro League, mentioned it again on their show and that now Toy's R Us was clearancing these beauties for about $30. The "Sold" flag went up in my mind and the first chance I got I took a lunch break to head over to Toys R Us, and pick one up. When I got there though I was a bit disappointed, yes Toy's R Us was clearancing out iCade's but it was the "Core" model which was pretty much just a stand the iPad went in, with arcade buttons and controller. I was tempted but I held out since I really wanted the mini arcade cab model.
ION's iCade Core (photo courtesy ION)

Flash forward to February of 2015 and I've completely forgotten about the iCade. Than by chance a listing popped up on eBay for one with a price of about $45 CIB and unopened at that. I shopped around really quick and after noticing Amazon now wanted more then $100 for this particular item, I hit the "But It Now" button and on Valentines Day 2015 the postman bought it to my door.


Putting the iCade together was actually a snap, it did require a screw driver but that was pretty much it. As for hooking it up to my iPad, that was also very easy and completely painless, the BlueTooth connection worked really well and the iCade gave off a very strong signal. Now comes the painful part, being a mini-arcade cabinet I wanted to use it as such, especially since the iCade was designed to be paired with the Atari's Greatest Hits app available through the iOS app store. So I download the app and used the free Missile Command game within the app, it worked well but Missile Command can get boring quickly so I decide to just go ahead and spend the $9.99 for everything the app has to offer. So with the purchase complete I go to download Battlezone, and it doesn't work, than I try Centipede, and than Major Havoc nope to both of those too. I write iTunes right away and after a few days of messing with them they credited  my money back, and say they will send word on to the app developer. I take that with a grain of salt and happily great my $9.99 back in my account.

To be honest I was a little disappointed after that, since a lot of the other games the iCade was compatible with at the time were merely rip offs of better more well known games. The iCade soon found itself sitting on a worktable near my gaming area collecting dust till I moved last summer, after that it sat in a box until just recently. Pretty much to me it was iCandy, and really had limited use.

iCade Arcade Model - side view


So fast forward again, now its mid-may of 2016. I've been in my new house nearly a year, and I've just recently added my first pinball machine and arcade machine. I have to admit I would like to add a few more of each but my pocket book doesn't agree. Of course there is always my Vectrex which is like a mini-arcade machine in itself, but than I remember the iCade. I debate getting it out of the box and messing with it briefly, but I stop to ask myself why. I had my doubts the Atari app had been fixed, or that the system added more games, and I quickly remembered they where probably clearancing them for a reason back in 2014. Than purely by chance I caught Lord Karnage's review of the iCade on Classic Game Room, and suddenly I had a new appreciation for it. It seems in the years since I abandoned the device a lot more apps became available for play on it, and the review made light of several different things I didn't even know the iCade could do, like its ability to support the iPad in landscape mode via a special notch on top. This made it able to support the Activision Anthology app, and many more. In addition to this, the list of apps supporting the iCade nearly exploded since I had used it last, including now supporting my recently purchased Raiden Fighters Legacy app which I had previously spent countless hours playing through touch.

iCade Arcade Model - front view
Featuring Ataris Greatest Hits app with Major Havoc

So I quickly dug through my boxes of gaming stuff and pulled the iCade out, bought it upstairs, and put my iPad in. To my surprise the Atari's Greatest Hits app now worked pretty well and I was able to download the arcade games I wanted from the app easily. In addition to that I began to add a few more apps to enhance my iCade experience like Midway Arcade, and Spectaculator a ZX Spectum emulation app. I was also surprised how well it worked with my previously mentioned Raiden Fighters Legacy app, as well as my R-Type I & II apps, and Double Dragon Arcade app. To say the least it pretty much transformed from last years paperweight iCandy to its actual name the iCade, as the device has now received hours of play by my family and I.

With all that said I'm glad to have it now, and glad to have purchased it when I did. Now the iCade sells for about $150 new on Amazon, and eBay is dotted with a lot of used ones for $50 or more. If you have an iPad, and need a little arcade fix from time to time, you may want to pick one up.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to share your experiences with the iCade please feel free to let me know.

You can catch the Lord Karnage Classic Game Room YouTube review here: