Archive for March, 2013

Worlds of Power

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Since we’re talking about books this week, I figured I’d take some time to talk about these babies: The Worlds of Power Book Series

Before Shadowgate and Metal Gear.

Before Shadowgate and Metal Gear.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these things, they’re essentially kids’ books based on NES games that were popular at the time. They try to expand the stories in the video games by fleshing out some of the details that might have been glossed over in the games or the manuals. And was apparently a response to kids of the day not reading books, but playing those pesky video games instead. So, it seems like it would be a worthy endeavor to get kids interested in reading. Especially if you were brought up with those games, and not the full-blown multimedia extravaganzas we have today.

But the books themselves are… unique. They state on the covers that they’re not endorsed by Nintendo, and they definitely only use the story (or lack of) in the games they’re based on as a jumping off point for whatever adventures they were going to talk about.

The Worlds of Power book that I remember getting the most out of was the Wizards and Warriors book, which involved some kid getting sucked into the Wizards and Warriors universe and he has to help Kuros go through the game and defeat Malkil.

Was it silly? Sure. But as a kid, I loved it. I loved pretty much anything that would give me more enjoyment out of the games I was playing. Especially because we didn’t have a whole lot of money when I was growing up, and a $3 book was way more affordable than a $40 – $50 game. Especially when I could get that book from my school library for nothing.

Thanks, education system!

The Pac-Man Riddle and Joke Book

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Finally we come to this. The Pac-Man Riddle and Joke Book. A book that captures what it was like to be a kid in the 80’s. America’s Riddle King serves up a whole book of illustrated riddles and puns all based on Pac-Man (more specifically, based on the words ‘dot’ and ‘pac’). It starts out promising enough, I mean, take a look at this cover.

Pac-Man Riddle and Joke Book Cover
But that’s as awesome as this book gets. We’re “treated” to page after page of bad Pac-Puns after another. Like, “What’s Pac-Man’s favorite city? Dot-troit, remember?”. I’m not actually sure why he says, “Remember?” there. It’s not like I learned that anywhere but in this book.

And it just goes on and on like this. And lots of people on the Internet will tell you how bad this book is. And, sure, it’s bad now to adults who are 30 years removed from the source material. But what about in the 80’s?

Well, I was around in the 80’s, during Pac-Man’s heyday, and when I got this book back then, I didn’t think it was all bad. Although, I didn’t get all of the jokes (how is a 7-year-old expected to get a Rhapsody in Blue reference?). But I didn’t think it was all that bad then. Heck, at that age, I didn’t think much was bad at all. Everything was new and amazing! Which kind of explains how I managed to keep myself entertained with a barely functional tape recorder for an entire summer (blank tapes were cheap entertainment, what can I say?).

And what about America’s Riddle King? Well, here’s his ‘self Pactrait’ (which is an extremely clumsy pun, I admit) and a mini-bio.

Pac-Man Riddle and Joke Book Interior

But he’s apparently the creator of Letterman, a cartoon that aired during the Electric Company, so that scores him some redemption points, I guess.


NES 42 in 1

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Oh, knock-off carts. Where would we be without you? Probably off somewhere doing whatever with a few more dollars in our pockets, but without your unique experiences.

Like this cartridge that has 42(!) games on it. Wow! That’s a lot. Check out this totally bodacious cartridge, too.


Well, I’m in, obviously. So, let’s check out some of the games on tap here (click to enlarge)


Oh yeah, Dig Dug, Lode Runner, and… Millipecle? Ramio Brother? Super Mari Bros? Penguin Adventure? Hrm, these aren’t quite the games I was expecting.

And, it turns out that this is the story with these weird multi-carts. A lot of pirated games with the copyright information removed, and a lot of small, simple games to pad out the numbers. I mean, check out some of this stuff

It turns out that some of the smaller, weirder games aren’t too bad. And the games like Super Mario Bros with all references to Mario subtly removed play like they should, so it’s just kind of a fun curiosity. Especially since these things have no official collectible value. And that means that when you do run across one, it’s either really cheap or way too expensive. But they’re a pretty fun way to spend a couple of bucks on, since playing one is kind of like a treasure hunt to find a good game.

Unless you find an Action 52. That just had bad games on it, so I wouldn’t bother with that.

King James Bible

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I’ve written about this thing before, but I figured I’d retread some of that ground here. Mostly because I just ran across this cartridge again the other day while looking for something else.

Bible Game

This is clearly an unlicensed Game Boy game from our friends at Wisdom Tree, and it’s got the King James version of the Bible on it. How exciting!

When I bought this, it actually had a box and manual, but those are lost to the Mists of Time(tm), but you don’t actually need those to extract the maximum possible amount of enjoyment out of this cartridge. You could, for example, read the Bible. And since the Game Boy screen can only show about 30 words, you’ll be flipping a lot of pages. Kind of like trying to read a book on your smartphone, except much more difficult.

Or you can play a game, like Hangman. Except it’s not really Hangman, it’s the same basic idea, but with sheep in a pen that escape when you get a letter wrong.

I tell you all of this because the first time I played the sheep game the word I got (which is randomly chosen from the Biblical text) was ‘circumcise’. That was exactly one more time than I ever wanted to see that word in the context of a video game.

But this game did come in handy a few years later when my Humanities class in college started to study a few chapters from the Bible. I was able to bring in and use a Game Boy for a college-level class, and the teacher was Ok with it.

And that is awesome, no matter how you slice it.


Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Right, I still don’t have an Intellivision, but I do have this.

Intellivision Frogger 1

That’s right, a copy of Frogger. A game that people who don’t even like video games have heard of.

Awkward sentence aside, it’s pretty great that I found a copy of this, in its original box, with all the trimmings, 30 years after it was released. It’s the actual reason I have Bomb Squad the other day. I saw this thing and jumped at it, and the guy threw in Bomb Squad for $1. How could I refuse?

No, really, I’m asking because I have a hard time refusing things.

But check out the innards of this box. This thing even smells like the 1980’s. Apparently the 1980’s smelled a lot like old books.

Intellivision Frogger 2

And if that doesn’t get you excited, maybe this excerpt from the manual will:

Each time you bring 5 frogs home, you’ll hear a short tune. The game will continue at a more difficult game level with your remaining frogs. The speed of the cars and trucks will vary from lane to lane. Traffic patterns will change. There will be fewer floating objects on the river, and the speed of the objects will vary from fast to slow. Frogger-eating snakes will appear on the riverbank and otters will swim around in the river.

Great stuff, right? The excerpt also talks about the music, and I did kind of want to bring that up, too. Check out the first song that plays when you start a new game of Frogger.

Pretty catchy, right?

Now check out this Japanese kids’ song called “犬のおまわりさん – Inu No Omawarisan” (literally, The Dog Policeman)

What’s that? They sound the same? You’re darn right they do.

And who says that finding old video games can’t be fun?

Bomb Squad

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

While growing up, I never had an Intellivision, and I never was friends with anyone that had one (or if they did, they kept their mouths shut about it). But, I happened across this gem at a yard sale, and the price was right, so I jumped on it. No, that’s not why the box is flattened.

Bomb Squad Box

But why would I get a game for a console that I don’t have? Well, I might get one some day, but that’s a pretty flimsy excuse. The bigger reason is that it was bundled in free with the game I actually wanted… which we’ll talk about later this week. A third reason is because I really like the package art of a lot of the older titles.

But there’s not really a lot of art to be had here, either.

Bomb Squad Box Innards

I was intrigued to find that this was a game that talks (or so the box says). I didn’t think that this capability came into use much later, especially for home entertainment devices. And even then we were restricted to a word or two, at maximum, compressed so much that it sounded like the clip was recorded by putting a microphone against the wall of an apartment and hoping your neighbors said something you could use in your game.

But this one was different. It uses a synthesized voice, of course, but it actually sounds decent.

Now I feel like I need to find an Intellivision system, and an Intellivoice module.

Shouldn’t be too hard, right?


Asciiware Game Boy Portable Carry-All

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

So, let’s just suppose that it’s 1990, you’re 11 years old, and you have this snazzy handheld gaming device that you want to take everywhere because you’re 11 years old and video games are rad to the max. Sure, you could just carry the thing around with you, but that gets old fast for a lot of reasons:

  • You can only carry one game with you unless you have giganto-pockets
  • You have to keep it in your hands at all times, lest you lay it down and forget about it somewhere. Or if you have the aforementioned giganto-pockets
  • Link cable? Giganto-Pockets
  • Spare batteries? Giganto-pockets

Yeah, this is going to get out of hand really fast. Wouldn’t it be so much better if some company made a thing that you could use to hold your Game Boy, a few games, and some accessories?

Well, you’re in luck, because someone did. Well, technically, lots of someones did, but this is what we’re going to take a look at today. The Game Boy Case Thing


This thing has everything to take care of all of the problems listed above. It swings open and protects your Game Boy from the dangers of being carried around by an 11-year-old, it holds a few games and accessories, and has a convenient shoulder sling so you can do whatever with both hands free.


It’s amazing!

The only downside is that I didn’t get one of these until much later than when I was 11 years old. In fact, I didn’t get my mitts on one of these until the Nintendo DS was already a thing, so it kind of had limited use to me.

I did, however, use a fanny pack instead for all my Game Boy transportation needs until that thing fell apart. I’m not really going to go into too much more detail than that, because the less we talk about fanny packs the better.


Super Mario Collector Pin Set

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Chances are, if you’re reading anything on the Internet, you don’t need me to tell you who Mario, Luigi, and Princess Toadstool are (if you somehow just arrived on this planet, now’s a great time to read up).

And for a time (roughly from about 1985 to now) you could get practically anything you wanted with Mario and company on it, including these things.

Super Mario Pins

This is a set of four pins (kind of like lapel pins, I suppose) that featured Mario, Luigi (Fiery Luigi, no less), or the Princess that you could wear. They don’t really do much except look mildly interesting, but, hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Super Mario Pins - Closeup

Back when I was in grade school, I actually was friends with a kid who had had a set of these. At least I presume he had a set of these, I only ever saw him wearing the Princess Toadstool pin. And, the Princess Toadstool pin appeared to be oddly weighted, since every time I saw him with that pin on, she was upside down. In fact, it took me a few weeks to realize that he was wearing a Princess Toadstool pin at all, and not a hot-air balloon.

And, I guess that’s not really much of a story, but it’s all I’ve got, man.