Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nintendo DS Projects

Within a week or two I happened to find not one, but two Nintendo DS systems at the Goodwill Outlet store. The first one was an original Nintendo DS and the second was a Nintendo DS Lite. Obviously since I found them that means they were left behind by other treasure hunters for one reason or another.

Regardless of others being scared to pick them up and give them a good home, I am someone who is never afraid to bring something home, especially for 79 cents a pound!, and give it a good repair. Both systems were broken at the hinges, ripping the top screen cable, as well as suffering from blown fuses. After some research it seems the latter of which is a frighteningly common issue with the first two inceptions of the DS line.

Since I didn't own a Nintendo DS I wasn't afraid to pick them up knowing very well I would have to pay a little bit to order parts and repair them. But this also gives me a chance to customize them to be my own, by ordering completely new plastic housings. I'm not exactly sure what housing I will be getting for each just yet, but I'm toying with the idea of a red DS Lite and a black DS.

As you can see these things have had rough lives thus far, but I hope that I can get the frustratingly small fuses replaced, keep them from blowing again and get both systems running proudly once more. As a matter of fact, the Goodwill outlet has even yielded some games to play on the DS, although nothing I'm dying to get to play. But even so, I am seriously anxious to get these DS systems back to working order.

And so we begin anew..

Well I had been pondering it for a while and finally decided to kill the youtube channel and start posting more Goodwill outlet finds here on the old neglected blog. Now, the Goodwill outlet store has been going through a slump lately, so I don't know how often I will be updating this, but I will try. So we begin with something I picked up a few months back.

The Goodwill outlet store is rife with treasure hunting goodness, digging through bins without care, dangerous glass everywhere that you could easily slice yourself open with, and I have, and just general wonder of what you will uncover next! A few months ago I found a seemingly untouched metal case, once I opened it up I nearly had a nerdagsm. Inside was a fresh looking Palm TX mobile organizer.

Sure the thing is old, sure its outdated and there are plenty of things on the market that are way further along, have much longer battery life and generally are better devices, but I've always been into older technology, hence the retro video games I adore. It didn't work at the time, so I just sat it in a drawer and waiting to find the charger cable to get this thing up and running. I happened to find a USB cable, but it needed a separate charging cable, still I waited.
Until just yesterday when I happen to find not only the official hotsync cable for the Palm TX, but also a charger that seems to be working quite well! I plugged it in and waited for it to spring to life, which it did. After doing a factory reset, because I'm not an asshole that wants to rummage through someone else's personal files, I did some customizing and continued to let it charge.
My only issue is that it may need a new battery, as the battery life literally drains off this thing by about 10% per minute. Maybe a good long charge will take care of that, or perhaps it was abused as a young PDA and will need a battery replacement. Either way I find it fascinating because its older technology, but it still has utilitarian uses that I can take full advantage of!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kyser Demo Capo

The Goodwill outlet store has been good to me, but perhaps the most interesting find to date has to be this neon green Kyser Capo. Inscribed on it is "Kyser DEMO ONLY NOT FOR SALE". After a bit of internet sleuthing I have yet to find another in this color, or anything similar.
I already own a capo that I almost never use, but when I saw this I figured the color and the fact that it was guitar related warranted me to pick it up and buy it. It is missing the string rubber, which doesn't prevent it from doing it's job, but even so I still had to own it. After testing it on a few guitars and finding that it still works I've become a bit concerns about the strings scratching off paint from where the rubber should be, so I probably won't use this one all that much either.
Perhaps this is a NAMM promotional item? A custom order? So many options, the origins of which I do not know. I've fired off an email to Kyser to see if they can help me figure it out. Hopefully I'll find out something interesting about it, after all, they don't engrave DEMO ONLY NOT FOR SALE on production models.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Well that escalated quickly!

Ok, ok, ok, OK! Ok? Ok. The majority of my entries here have been thrift related, mostly bashing Goodwill and singing the praises of Salvation Army, although not all posts about the latter have been shining reviews. When shortly after my last entry everything seemed to turn on it's ear, drastically!

I'm in a desperate way in need of finding myself Sega CD games to allow my Sega CD to really do it's job, and to enjoy it. I was willing to use all the thrift stores, and even Disc Replay stores, at my disposal, which turned out to be a major, MAJOR mistake. The Goodwill stores had games I wanted, but the games were fairly cheap and I still decided that I would hold off and wait for this weekend's 50% off sale to see if they're still there, if not no big loss.

But its what happened when I walked into the Salvation Army that shocked me to the point of hypertension and the need to march straight out of the store. They had a Gameboy with a 4 player adapter for, what the chicken scratch deciphered to, $6. Which isn't a bad price at all because it was in great shape, although there was no way to tell if it worked or not.

Next up was a stack of cased Gameboy games ranging in price from $1.99 to $2.99, not bad although I don't see why they put the well known titles at $2.99 and the less known titles at $1.99. This shows the store's desire to wring every cent out of thrifty shoppers. Then there was a stack of Gameboy games, all in cases, taped together so that you couldn't tell what was what, except the top game, for $12 (again chicken scratch so it was probably more!), and again for the maybe 7 to 10 games in the lot it wasn't a bad deal, but I can't see what games were there and I'm NOT going to buy something from them unless it is an absolute steal, because I not longer want to support such an ignorant, money grubbing company.

But until I saw the complete in box Gameboy printer, I was ok with them being complete and utter douchebags, but this was my breaking point. Yes, it was complete, yes it looked like it was in great shape, but they wanted (again chicken scratch!) $20 for it! Ok, NOTHING and I mean NO-THING in a thrift store should be over $9.99, unless its furniture or jewelry.

I'll be honest it shouldn't shock me, the manager or duty was the same asshole who argued with me last year over an SNES that he just couldn't let go for less than the number he pulled out of his ass. This guy is rude, arrogant and his only job is to rape the customer, yet it seems the majority of people who shop at Salvation Army aren't willing to fight for a better price, and most video games go to resellers.

Salvation Army used to give me so many good deals and I wanted to stay loyal to them in favor of the deals I've gotten. Over the matter of 6 months I simply can't stand Salvation Army anymore, and I've grown to despise their employees and their business ethics, or lack there of.

This time last year I would have urged anyone to donate to Salvation Army over Goodwill, but today I have to say if you are going to donate, donate to Goodwill! I see the only people Salvation Army is helping are themself and the resellers who buy up all the over priced shit so they can sell it at even more insane prices. If thrift stores weren't the only option to find things for the retro systems I love, I wouldn't shop at any of them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How I long for yesterday..

Years ago you would have found it hard to throw me off my game, simple changes wouldn't have impacted my life in the least. These days with a sudden onset of panic disorder and stressful anxiety, shit really gets under my skin and drives me literally insane. Even just the simple matter of fucking up what should be nothing more than a simple drive to a thrift store.

I know I've complained about them in the past, but thrift stores have been an integral part of my self-therapy for dealing with anxiety, as they've been a part of my video game hunting pursuits for the past 2 years. But it seems that fate or perhaps even big business has other plans for my recovery, since they can't seem to keep a thrift store in the same format I'm familiar with anymore.

I've seen so many thrift stores, that I've literally spent hours at, simply shut down for seemingly no reason, relocate to inconvenient locations or even stop carrying bric-a-brac entirely! The only place that stays halfway consistent has been Goodwill, and by that I mean consistently overpriced! I will give Goodwill credit for the outlet store, but even there has changed up the switch out order, making it less of an experience and more of a trial in patience to see if you can give a shit long enough to find anything good.

Goodwill stores have had some good deals lately, but I'm sure its just another rare occasion of the person with the pricing gun not knowing what they're doing. One controller that I want is $.99 while another is $3.99 simply because it has more buttons, what sense does that make?

I've even lost Play n Trade, a place I frequented yet rarely, if ever, bought anything at. It was the only place I could go and see consistent pricing on retro games. Disc Replay's pricing is sometimes cheap, but that is mostly the same games everyone already has 3 of, everything else slowly crawls higher and higher the longer it sits on a shelf, it seems.

Since I got my Sega CD I've been on the prowl to find games to use it with, as I really don't like a system just sitting there doing nothing. I've seen them before and I know I'll see them again, but it just frustrates me to no end knowing most of them are overpriced, but people are all too happy to buy them anyway, giving thrift stores the false sense that those prices are totally acceptable.

Its quickly becoming apparent to me that the market I was so comfortable with, to the point I was using it as therapy, is crumbling beneath me. I'm not scared to adventure out from where I'm comfortable, I just don't think it gets any better on the other side. The prices I see other people bragging about are sometimes even higher than what I already think are too high in my local market.

Whether this is a sign to look deeper, look elsewhere or completely move on from where I am, or whether there is a good change upon the horizon, I don't know. All I know is that my price range will not change, no matter what, I'd rather go home empty handed! But the biggest reality shock is knowing as fucked up as I am with my anxiety, the world around me is so much worse off than I am.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

If I plan to plan, I plan to plan on failure.

I'm wanting to change things up for my blog here. I know that I don't get many views, like I, myself, and a poor lost traveler may wander on to this thing on occasion, by accident. But even so, I feel I want to change things up and become more active here.

I'm booked with trying to come up with articles for the vintage gaming website, and I want to devote anything vintage to that site, so that isn't happening here. I do pick up videos on youtube, and much like this blog I only get accidental views. So I feel as though I should take the highlights of my pick ups and show them here.

I see plenty of blogs that show off their pick ups and I know it isn't original, but it is my blog and I'll change it up however I wish. I also know that a long time ago I posted more modern find here, so it really isn't something new, more of a rebirth of that concept. So that is more than likely what I'll be doing!

If you like the blog, feel free to leave a comment! If you've reached this blog in error, please hit the back button until you're in more familiar territory and enjoy your day. If you view this blog regularly, I'm sorry.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Don't know what you've got, until its gone!

I know I've talked shit about the thrift stores I went to for nearly 3 years. Literally hundreds of great deals, between the countless shameful price gouging sessions. But since March I've forgone the traffic jams, gas prices and the very real possibility of wasting time and finding nothing worth buying in favor of the Goodwill outlet, where I rarely leave empty handed.

Today I decided that I wanted to head out to the good old places and see what I could find, most of which were either closed or moved to a different location. Over the time that I've been checking thrift stores I've lost nearly half of them. Strangely enough I've seen more thrift stores close than flea markets.

It hurts to see a place close down, knowing the countless hours I've spent walking the aisles and finding the video game stuff that now clutters my room, instead of the thrift store shelves. The Goodwill outlet seems to be my only source of video games and video game stuff anymore. With the economy being the way it is, thrift stores should be booming, but I see their price gouging has backfired and most of them are shutting down due to their greed and ignorance.

Even though I hated their business practices, for the most part, I have to say that it sucks that I'll never be able to walk down those aisles anymore, looking for good deals. Even though I would often come home empty handed and upset that I couldn't find a deal, at least I was enjoying the wasted time. But once those doors are chained and bolted.. there is nowhere left to go.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

How long ago that seems..

About 10 years ago I remember using Launchcast from my Yahoo Messenger panel. That is how I learned about almost every metal band I currently listen to, almost. It would play songs and have you rate them so it would associate what kind of music you liked.

It took me maybe 5 months to finally get it to where it would play 15 metal songs and then on occasion the current top 10 playlist would creep in, but it wasn't bad because I could skip it. It only gave you so many skips and I reserved all those for the crap that it tossed in on purpose. But eventually the whole service went to hell.

It seems that I woke up one day and I couldn't skip enough songs, all it would play was the music I DIDN'T want to listen to. And only on occasion it would play the songs that I did want to hear. Its sad to see a service like that go so commercial.

I'm sure had it stayed the way it was it would still be very useful today. Technology changes in the blink of an eye, but sometimes we still yearn for how it was yesterday. That is why I'm a vintage gamer.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How GTA Vice City nearly killed me!

I had just acquired my first Xbox, because a friend of mine had one that wouldn't read discs anymore, and I figured the best thing to do was to start buying the GTA series because I had always wanted to play them. I didn't have a PS2 yet, because their's was still working (lol), so after fixing the Xbox I went to work on GTA III. After I was bored with GTA III I moved on to Vice City, the map was smaller but the fun was bigger and there seemed to be more things to do than before.

One night I was cruising the streets of Vice City doing what I would normally do, running people over, collecting my business income and using cheat codes to go on rampage killing sprees, when I received a phone call. Now for some reason I'm not a normal human being, or perhaps I am, in the fact that I simply can not sit still while I'm on the phone, I need to be up and walking around, for whatever reason. Part of my habit of walking around while on the phone was looking out the kitchen window and across the horizon, which had quite a surprise in store for me.

As I looked out from the kitchen window the sky hung heavy over the horizon with lightning and darkness looming eerily in the distance. I had been so enveloped in doing my business in Vice City that I was completely unaware that there was a tornado warning issued for my current area! Normally there are storms that would alert me to any impending alarming weather, but that night there wasn't.

I abruptly ended the phone call and went to switch the TV to the local news stations, which confirmed my fears that the weather was about to become extremely and violently severe. No sooner had I changed the channel to the local news and saw the incoming threat, the power went out. Nothing but the sounds of the wind wishing and washing against the trees and windows outside.

Lightning came closer and closer, followed by deafening crackles of thunder. Soon came the rain, as I collected myself and headed into the central bathroom and listened to a local radio station for further news about the storms. The wind and thunder shook the house and the trees started to bend, it seemed as if the roof was going to come off!

For what seemed like forever, but perhaps only lasted 30 minutes, I huddled in the bathroom hoping for my safety, wishing the storm would go away and leave nothing harmed. When the storm finally subsided I walked into the living room and checked all the windows, to make sure nothing was broken, luckily everything was in tact and ok. But without power the house was quickly heating up inside, so I decided to open a few windows and await the return of electricity.

The electric company came and checked for any down lines, blown transformers and power was finally restored in the early morning hours. Later that day I went to check out any possible damage or evidence that a tornado had come through, and as a matter of fact there had been! Many trees were broken, uprooted and the standard of bare without leaves, but not even a mile south there was a clear path of where a tornado had touched down and carved it's way through some trees, luckily it only went through the trees.

I can't blame GTA Vice City for nearly killing me, it was the storms that would have done the damage. But Vice City was so addictive that I played it so inventively that I wasn't even aware there were storms headed my way. A strange story, but something Vice City and I will always share.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where is home?

Home is a place that makes you feel safe, a place where no matter how you feel you know everything is going to be ok. But what happens when you feel all solace is lost? What happens when not only the physical home in which you live, but the complete society and system in which you live leaves you feeling insecure of your very existence?

Almost a year ago I decided that my health was becoming an issue and I needed to seek medical attention, I walked out of the ER with what was essentially a painful fart and $1200 in debt (I'm dead serious). For something so trivial to be so expensive, how could you sustain faith within the medical system setup to help sustain your health? I can't, and that further dissolved any faith within the system that holds power above said medical system.

Due to deeply rooted brain washed fears, implemented by my parents, I've lived life on the straight and narrow, I don't smoke, I don't drink on any regular basis and I've never tried drugs. I assumed that would have upheld my health further than say, The Rolling Stones, but perhaps heroine is a preservative. But now as the tingling sensation in my legs and sometimes my hands and arms start to grow more concerning, I can't help but feel unnecessarily shunned by the American system.

I have chest pains and I don't know why, but being an American I can only assume it is heart disease, even at 29. I feel things that I assume are just growing pains, but I'm also socially groomed to be hyper aware of my health and it's importance. At the same time I would never want to live the rest of my life being in debt to a scheme set forth to make a portion of the population rich and the other portion fearfully throw money at the problem.

As an American we are told that we are the best country in the world and as a child I fed into that bullshit ideology, something that some people never seem to grow out of, and I now see it as a country that can't get it's priorities straight, unless it revolves around money. Why do we look down at other countries that obviously have their systems sorted out well beyond our own, while we're told that system would never work, no matter how long it HAS worked? When I tell a friend from another country that I don't feel well, the answer is always so simple for them to say "Go see a Doctor", because in their country, THEY CAN!!!

I'll never forget a PBS documentary about Tanzania, where they were interviewing children miners who work the mines to find their nation's export. What struck me as odd was that these children weren't scummy and filthy like the documentary actually said, in fact the children had some of the straightest and whitest teeth I've ever seen, anywhere! Now why would that matter, you may be asking, if these children were so poorly taken care of, as the documentary was trying to portray, why would these children's teeth be one of their top priorities?

I've lost faith in the system and it dawns on me that I probably wouldn't be accepted anywhere else, or maybe that is just another American scare tactic. As freely as the US is allowing illegals to stay and reap the rewards they unjustly enjoy, I can't survive here, but where could I do the same thing the illegals are doing in the US? Where could I freely move in, claim things as my own, avoid taxes and still get all the benefits of being from your country, or even more benefits than they afford their own citizens?

Within the US I fear for my life, health wise, but it seems I'm walled off from being any better anywhere else. All the places I would love to move I would probably just be looked down upon as being an American, much the way Americans do those places anyway. Even if I could become a citizen of another country that would afford me all the benefits to flourish the way I deserve, the US isn't kind to those who find the system lacking and give up US citizenship in favor of a better life the US refuses to offer them.

With a country that forces you to work to survive, because there are very few programs for the unemployed to gain good health insurance, yet supports companies that force jobs off shores, we can't sustain any means of existence. When a case of only the strong becomes only the wealthy, we really need to step back and take a look at the overall system. My health issues may pass, but the fear and uneasiness knowing that if something serious ever happens to me that I would owe a severely flawed system large sums of money that I could never repay will always be a thorn in my side.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FIFA '04: Mini Review

Since I now own a quasi-working PS2 I've decided to pick up games for the system again. This started after yesterday's trip to the Goodwill Outlet store, where I found 3 football games, 2 Madden and 1 FIFA. Sure FIFA is Football, just not to the US.

I started playing the FIFA series in late 2009 with a demo of FIFA '10 on my Xbox 360, which I still have. The game was fun and there was an extreme rush of adrenaline when I scored a goal, thus I was hooked. Later I happened upon a FIFA game for the SNES, and even with it's isometric point of view it was still pretty playable.

This lead me to venture out into Nintendo's Soccer for the NES, as well as Technos' World Cup Soccer, both of which I like. Although I don't fall into the whole need to own every FIFA due to the ever changing roster, I will pick them up due to technical enhancements through the aging of the game. But I don't need every football game ever made.

FIFA '04 isn't really that far apart from it's 6 year younger brother FIFA '10, although a great majority of the changes are undoubtedly due to the whole different system in which I'm playing it. The graphics and gameplay are a bit choppy at times, but overall pretty much on par with what I expect of a game from 2003.

My only real complaint is the over saturation of shitty Euro pop music in the sound track. This isn't an issue strictly with FIFA as EA loves to license completely irrelevant music for games that these songs have no business in. Need for Speed Underground 2 is pumped full of easily licensed, yet completely worthless, rap songs, and they don't make turning them off an easy task.

The reason why this review seems to have very little to do with FIFA itself is the simple fact that FIFA 04 is simply good enough to stand on it's own. It has minor flaws, as all games do, but since I don't know much about football I can't really make judgement on anything other than the gameplay I experience, which is thoroughly enjoyable! FIFA '04 was well worth the pick up and perhaps if I find a newer version I'll give it a try as well, I just don't see myself going and paying retail for any FIFA game.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gran Turismo

Nothing gets my blood pumping like a good old run through Gran Turismo. I don't mean adrenaline, I mean this game pisses me off like no other, especially with the critically impossible license tests! The racing can be frustration, but the absolute worst are those fucking license tests, considering you can't do much in the game without getting your license first.

The whole series is plagued with this fatal flaw, the equivalent of asking someone to take a Ford Tempo and do a 30 second lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speeday. It can't be done! Oh yes it can, if you wish it to be! -- Sure Gran Turismo, sure!

Why the licenses are so aneurysm inducing is because it doesn't play by any of the rules that the rest of the game has to follow, and its a good thing too because if the rest of the game were this strict nobody would play it! But why do we need to follow rules that don't apply in the real thing, the license tests are too much like someone suddenly being burdened by a mathematical equation where they first need to figure out the numerical value of L. Oh sure they taught you that in school, but 99% of the active populous NEVER have to use it.

Tests that require me to apex 3 or 4 corners in a few seconds are frustration as they sometimes set the out of bounds exactly where I need to aim, but what really pisses me off are the whole lap tests. If I aim too far on an apex and get sent back to the starting line, I can do it over and over again, frustrating but no big deal. But when I'm 2 minutes into a 2:20 jaunt around a track and I slide into the wall because the severely under powered car you've sent me out in won't pull out of an over steer, well I want to fucking slit your fucking tires and piss in your gas tank.

You start off with shitty clunkers and they set such impossible goals, its as if they had a robotic Ayrton Senna set these times. They're also quite unapologetic about how hard it is to get gold. I'll take bronze all day long, as long as I don't need to repeat a single test all day long, which is almost what happens the higher up you get.

Gran Turismo makers, cut the shit and lighten up on the fucking license tests. We know how to play the game, just stop being unreasonable about the demands for licensing. Prime example of how a great, fresh idea can be taken way too far and turn a game from a great idea into a complete waste of time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oh, aren't you just the coolest?

I don't understand the fanatical lust for branding and it's subsequent consumerism. I will however take the time now to brand myself guilty of loyalty to almost anything video game related: Nintendo branding, Sega branding, etc, but I don't take it too the extremes as some people feel, or even deem, necessary. But I feel as though those companies are worthy of having such a dedicated following, a TV show is not!

It isn't a new concept, most notably wrestling associations are well known for this, but they are essentially travelling shows and need to promote themselves as much as possible. But even so I don't see the extreme degree of fandom brought on by this than I do from what I'm writing about today. This level of fandom blows my mind!

The second I saw the commercials for the series, before it even hit the air, I knew I wasn't going to watch it, and haven't. The show in question here is Sons of Anarchy, a show about a group of "outlaw" bikers, and as I've never watched the show that is all I know about the series. Throughout many years of having access to the Discovery and History channels I've learned there are large numbers of real motorcycle groups with whom you want nothing at all to do with, but lets face it, a group of highly paid actors isn't going to be anywhere near as rough and tumble as a true group of brothers living what the actors are trying to portray.

Since I've never actually wasted my time enough to watch the show, I'll ease off and get back into the fanatical consumerism that came from this show's birth. Now, it seems, I can't go into any store without some fat, bloated couple with spray tans hopping off their freshly washed Harley dawning a leather vest with a "Sons of Anarchy" patch and local chapter patch adorning the back. I'm going to step out on a limb here and say due to numerous possible lawsuits, death threats and assorted other things, Sons of Anarchy is more than likely a made up name for the television show, rather than a real biker group. So who would be so completely and totally stupid as to pretend they're in a group that doesn't exist!? You're so bad, join a real one!

Another good one is Tapout, a clothing line endorsed by the UFC, or the other way around either way they're affiliated in some way, officially. I used to watch UFC and that isn't my problem here, my problem stems from walking through a store and seeing a fat 10 year old crying to his mother how he wanted more candy, and he was wearing a Tapout shirt. I fear the only ultimate fight for tubby will be his battle with obesity, and I bet he taps out first!

I will support a brand I use, or something I feel strong enough about that deserves the attention, although I believe it needs to be done in the right way. Making sew-on patches for a fake TV biker gang doesn't make you anymore of a biker gang than watching Dr. Quinn makes you a medicine woman. And try as I might, no matter how much I watch Red Green, Kids in the Hall, This Hour has 22 minutes, CBC News, Curling, Hockey and the Trailer Park Boys, I am NOT going to magically become Canadian, eh!?

My Sega Master System.

For the first time in months I spent a great deal of time playing my Sega Master System, and for me that is a big deal. Back in December I had a little extra money saved up so I decided that I was going to buy myself a present, that just so happened to be my Sega Master System. I searched high and low, lost numerous auctions on ebay and finally found one being sold locally, and when I got the thing home I almost couldn't put it down!
Over time the system has started to collect dust, much like the rest of my systems tend to do until I feel the urge to play them again. I play my retro systems quite a bit more than my newer systems, mostly because the newer the system is the less it works (!!!), but I often find myself switching back and forth with systems I haven't played in a while. But what really drives me to desire one system over another is games, the hardware couldn't do anything if not for the software that utilizes it.
As for my Master System I don't have many games so I don't really want to play it as often as I do the system I own more games for, and the Master System is almost impossible to find games for. The only ones I've seen were a few loose carts at Disc Replay and another handful of (overpriced!) boxed games at a flea market. To be honest, the only Master System I ever saw besides my own was one in a glass case at Disc Replay, and my very first game was a loose copy of After Burner I picked up at another Disc Replay.
I was sure that somewhere along my many trips through flea markets and thrift stores I would eventually come across a Master System or games, and short of what I mentioned above I've found nothing! Despite not being able to find more games for my Master System the 11 games I do own, including a complete copy of After Burner in addition to the loose copy I bought before I even owned the system, just don't force me to want to play the system as much as I wish they did. That isn't to say the system's library is lacking, it simply means mine is!
I entered a contest on youtube and had high hopes to win 2 Master System games that I had wanted for a while now, but as it always seems to go I didn't win. Maybe this is yet another way of life telling me that I'll find them somewhere down the road at a good price, but that could be a long shot. But lets move away from me whining about my lack of games and delve into why I don't click with the Master System as much as I would my NES, or even my SNES or Sega Genesis.
I have to say that since I owned my NES, SNES and Sega Genesis well before I owned my Sega Master System, these systems are what I used to judge the Master System. Comparatively the Master system has a few setbacks, albeit minor, when you look at it's overall design. Modern day techies have learned to modify their Master Systems to overcome these setbacks, but I don't even want to take mine apart let alone modify it in any fashion, which leaves me stuck with the original design flaws.
Chief among which is the pause function being literally ON the console itself, as where every other system I've encountered has a pause button function somewhere within the controller. Even the Nintendo Famicom, released 2 years prior, had pause buttons integrated into it's controllers, although they were hardwired to the system and the Master System's controllers were interchangeable. But without the clutter of the two extra buttons the Famicom and NES provide the Master System controllers were comfortable, even with their square, blocky shape.
Even though they didn't add a pause button Sega did release more options for Master System controllers, as well as a light phaser that I personally feel is superior to the Nintendo Zapper. The Sega Control Stick was what I can only assume an attempt at being ambidextrous, an ass backwards controller that had the control stick on the right, instead of the left, as well as the buttons on the left, instead of the right. I do own one and I simply can not use it, mostly because the stick just doesn't feel comfortable. Had they just made a reverse controller like the normal one, perhaps that would have been a success.
Another interesting feature, although it doesn't seem to stand out in the system's favor, in fact it was removed from the model 2 Master System, is the card slot. From what I understand card based games were released as budget titles, and as we've learned through the follies of other systems that budget titles are either good or terrible! I've never personally seen a Master System card game, but if I can find one for cheap enough I'll snap it up, for sure!
With all it's flaws the Sega Master System was still superior to the NES in many ways, but it just couldn't overcome Nintendo's sales power. I prefer the scenery in my Master System games than I do many of my NES games, but still the NES has just a slight edge over the Master System, in my mind. If I owned some of the solid titles that would keep my interest for hours on end, instead of putting it down after 5 minutes and switching to another game for 5 more minutes, I feel that I could really get to the heart of the system and understand it even more.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Ah! The Temptations!

The desire to own things is essential within all humans, although it isn't a natural desire its more of a learned desire as we grow up. There are literally thousands, if not more, things I would love to own and I have to say that I've been greatly lucky to have obtained most of the things I currently have and I appreciate that luck. But there are a handful of things that I really, really want to own that I actively seek to obtain, although I've never seen or even touched them in my life.

First and most important on that list would be the NES top loader, it isn't that I NEED an NES top loader, I have a perfectly working NES as well as a modded backup. So it isn't something I absolutely can't live without, its just something that I would go completely and utterly insane to find at a great price. Other things include NES and SNES video games, again things that I don't NEED but they sure would be awesome to own. I know that somewhere out there these things have my name figuratively written on them, its all a matter of when I will find them.

I'm upset to see others obtain things I want, although I do live a vicarious joy through their happiness. But when they act callous toward a bounty sprawled out before them I feel contempt toward their ignorance. I think we should all be so lucky to have things given to us or be so fortunate to be able to obtain such things by all means, and to act as if it were more trouble than it truly was shows me that person shouldn't have gotten those things in the first place.

I spend a large amount of time on youtube, mostly searching through pick up or other video game related videos. Sometimes I come across stories that make me jealous but I'm happy for that person, while other times I watch videos that boil my blood to a vapor. Some of the most spiteful, hateful and ungrateful pricks get the coolest stuff and it just makes no sense as to why a person who leads a simple life and stays to himself gets fucked on a daily basis while people who just couldn't give a shit less are thrown shit at their very feet.

Without pointing fingers directly at anyone I'll give a general, beat around the bush, description of what the video was about. So this person finds a box of video game items sitting outside next to someone's garbage and takes it home, upon opening it the person seems completely ungrateful throughout the rest of the video, scrutinizing everything as they pull it from the box. Mind you everything was FREE to this person, regardless of whether they already had any of this stuff or not, its still free and should be greatly appreciated!

By the end of the video I wanted to crawl through my monitor and just beat the living fucking shit out of this prick, but I can't and it would just be a waste of time even if I could. Like I said I've found some great stuff and I feel extremely lucky to find the things that I've bought, I say bought because I have rarely found anything for free. That isn't to say I haven't found anything for free, I have, its just the fact that I put everything into my collection and end up forgetting what I've paid for anything.

I would love, LOOOOOOOVE to find a box of the things this person found, and I too would make a youtube video in which I didn't sound like an ungrateful prick as I pulled everything out of the box with a sour look on my face. Even if it were all things I already own, every single piece were something I already owned, I would want to pay it forward to those who aren't as fortunate as myself so that they can have cool things as well. Sure I would probably sell things to make a little profit to support the game hunting habit, but I sure wouldn't be ungrateful to have found them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Current state of "thrift".

This blog has a great deal to do with thrift store hunting and video games, along with random other thoughts that tend to rear their head from time to time. I have officially been video game hunting for 2 years, fairly close to the day give or take a few, and throughout that time there have been great scores and complete droughts. Along the way I've also lost a many of my sources, due to the stores closing, yet I've always managed to turn things around and find somewhere else to take it's place.

Lately, however, I've managed to lose the whole lot as I have little to no respect for anywhere anymore. With so many thrift stores closing the only steady place was Salvation Army and no matter how many times I complained about them I still went back, quite often too! Regardless of how unquestionably shitty Salvation Army can be at times, with their unexplainable price spikes and often times completely uncaring/rude staff, I was always in search of the many, and I do mean MANY, scores I had found previously throughout the 4 or 5 stores I frequented.

Salvation Army was always a crap shoot, yet they've completely taken themselves out of the game and put themselves square in my shit sights. Within the last month I've noticed they are moving things around the store and completely doing away with anything of particular value, could this be a sign of Salvation Army auctions? Only time will tell! Electronics are now limited to televisions, microwaves and other miscellaneous things that plug into an outlet, which vaguely categorizes them as electronics.

I do greatly adore the Goodwill Outlet store, which forced me to change my views on Goodwill overall. I just can't see paying the prices of a store when the outlet store only charges $.69 a pound. Sure not a lot of things flow through the outlet store, but I seemingly always walk out of their spending less than $5 for stuff that I'm excited to own. When I go into a Goodwill store and get all geeked out over a retro game I'm almost always quickly upset by the $5.99 price tag on it, knowing full well that Disc Replay wants less and if I wait long enough I may just find it at the outlet store.

Another option around here would be flea markets, and I've already explained how they are. Its hard to find a flea market where the booth owner is actually in the booth, they're all indoor, super flea markets where you take stuff up to an actual cashier, which makes dealing with someone an impossibility. While they're always a source of getting out and walking about, I almost always walk out empty handed.

Finally there is the online connection, where everyone lives in a little world where even the most common video game is apparently worth a small fortune. Sometimes craigslist is ok, if you get to the post on time, otherwise you're not going to get a reply and wonder if your message is trapped inside someone's spam filter as you hope they still have the item you wanted and will get back to you before you die of old age. And ebay can go fuck itself, that is all I have to say about it.

The sad truth is that flea markets and thrift stores alike have become one in the same, as the prices are set by some goober who has internet access and thinks the mass of games listed on ebay for any given price is the socially accepted price. As where the reality is if that were in fact the accepted price they wouldn't still be listed. My only way of collecting the games I want to own and play are to keep searching these places that slowly but surely shrivel and dry up.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico [Follow up]

Have you ever watched a tragedy unfold before your eyes and you get that helpless feeling nagging from within that you should do something, yet there is truly nothing you can do? That is how I feel when I play Total Overdose, although to a slightly less dramatic extent. I've made it clear, within this blog, that I enjoy video games for not only their gaming values but also for a sense of traveling through the environments they present. Many games offer many different places, but Total Overdose boldly tries to recreate the since of Mexico while telling it's story, but sadly does both poorly, in my opinion.

I know that you can't judge whether something is truly emulating any given object without being familiar with the original first, and to try and do so is not only unjust to the original but unfair to the item emulating it as well. I don't know Mexico, I've never been but maybe someday I will go, but when I play Total Overdose I get the overwhelming feeling that it was all created by outside observers looking in and making rash judgements to build the product. I can't say this with certainty, but I just don't get the feeling that I do with other games.

GTA San Andreas just feels like you're in the cities and towns that they've obviously emulated, as does Vice City, GTA 3 and 4. Another great one is Just Cause, as it sends you down to South America and leaves you within what almost everyone would consider to be a chain of islands somewhere within South America, with a few minor reality breakers. While I find myself more compelled to play Just Cause, due to it's much better game control and the fact that it still gives that feeling of being in Central America, I'm still compelled to play Total Overdose because it is unquestionably trying to be located in Mexico. Even so I just can't get myself to believe that I am truly walking around anywhere in Mexico.

It isn't a lack of architecture, it isn't a lack of culture and it isn't a lack of the living environment within the game. The failure here seems to stem greatly from the way the city is cut up, and I don't mean how GTA 3 and Vice City were either. The way Total Overdose is chopped up is crude and leaves you (at least it does for me) confused about how you got from point A to point B. As where in GTA you could see what was coming up next, they just simply threw a splash screen in your face for a few seconds before you reached it, in Total Overdose you pseudo-teleport to a different area where you went in and where you come out don't really seem to match.

I wrote a review on Gamespot's website and my review received some negative feedback, but maybe they missed the point. I enjoy the game, but I simply think it doesn't flow as well as the games it was cloning, nor do I think they brought a feel for the environment they were entitled to emulate. The vehicles are almost unusable and I much prefer to walk around the sections of the country unless I absolutely have to use a vehicle. The sections are smaller than I feel they should have been, as well as some of the best areas are only accessible while you're on a mission.

Given all it's downfalls Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico does hold a greater spot in my heart than most of the games that are better than it, but I just can't motivate myself to play it as much as those other games. I heard rumors of a sequel being cancelled, and that is probably for the better. Sure I would have loved to see a sequel, but they would have had to change it so drastically that it wouldn't have been the same game anymore. Nobody likes a sequel that looks and feels absolutely nothing like the original.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For the first time, I'm happy to go to Goodwill!

Since I've started this blog I've posted numerous times about my anger and frustration with the current state of thrift stores, as well as their lack, and abandonment, of any real thrift. But on my birthday I got the wild idea to go check out the Goodwill Outlet store to see what it was all about. I had been before I just didn't find anything to buy, and to be quite honest I was scared to purchase anything being ignorant of the purchasing process.

Luckily my first trip through was a massive success, and I both got a lot of goodies for cheap and become well aware of the whole purchasing process. I learned that if you can avoid it not to purchase things that require a cart, as I have a sneaking suspicion, since they charge you by weight, they include the weight of the cart! Regardless of their tactics I've become very addicted to going to the Goodwill outlet store and sifting through bin after bin in hopes of finding hidden treasures, which it is indeed just that, a treasure hunt.

The simple fact that I can walk out of a place with a bag brimming with things I just hunted down for the past 2 hours and spend under $10 greatly appeals to me! It almost renders going to a normal Goodwill, or any other thrift store for that matter, moot! Obviously, although I wouldn't count it out entirely, I'm not going to find the extremely hard to find items I want at a Goodwill Outlet store, yet it is still a great place to find the retro and modern video game items I'm seeking while I do my thrift store rounds. Thrift stores around here are carrying less and less of the good stuff and even if something good pops up on the shelf they mark it some astronomical price that isn't even in the realm of reality!

As much as I love Salvation Army over Goodwill, even though to be honest I dislike them both GREATLY for their shameless price gouging, I love the outlet store above even that! Its an odd mesh of elements that I greatly enjoy; treasure hunting, inexpensive and they always seem to have something that I want to purchase. As where with thrift stores I almost always leave empty handed, the Goodwill Outlet store has even just a few items that I can't leave without picking up for 69 cents a pound, who wouldn't enjoy that!?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nascar: Dirt to Daytona First Opinions Review

As a former fan of Nascar motor racing, I own a few Nascar games across a few different platforms. Even after I stopped enjoying the real Nascar, I still enjoyed it's video game counterpart. For a modern generation version of Nascar I was highly anticipating getting my hands on a copy of Nascar's career sim: Dirt to Daytona, and I believe this may be a case of don't meet your heroes.

The game was only released on 2 consoles, PS2 and Gamecube, I mostly wanted it for the Gamecube but the PS2 version fell into my hands first, so thats the one I'm playing. Quickly I've noticed the limitations of the PS2 version as the analog X button must be crammed down in such a way that my finger cramps and aches the whole time I'm racing. Everything else pretty much seems like the Nascar Heat game, which this was based off of.

Now I never claim to be Ayrton Senna when it comes to video game racing, but I do find it quite impossible for a car to be 3 seconds behind me and come blowing past me as if I'm standing still at 70+MPH. I'm not sure what this game's settings are at, but it seems to only apply to random cars as it never fails that one will manage to pass me as if I'm just not moving at all every race. With all that said, if I happen to find the Gamecube version this one is getting SOLD!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Open letter to Clattenburg

Dear Mr. Clattenburg, (Mike Clattenburg)

As fucked as it may sound, although I know I'm not alone, over the course of many years of watching the Trailer Park Boys over and over again, I've felt as though they had become part of my family. From the pilot that started it all through Countdown to Liquor day, I've been able to pull myself out of the story long enough to admire the growth of not only the actors, but of the whole crew overall. And as a fan from the US it seemed like as soon as I had heard about the series, the whole thing was already over.

From Mrs. Peterson (RIP) to Sam Lasco (that greasy caveman fuck!) and even the Shitmobile (RIP) nothing ever felt like it was on screen for the sake of being on screen. I know when you're finger prints are deeply ingrained into a project you tend to see the flaws shining brightly, but as a fan I have to say that rarely did an episode of Trailer Park Boys feel less than a perfectly connected and formed circle. The stories flowed well from episode to episode and although I already knew the boys were never going to succeed in their goals, I always had that undying hope they would. To me that is a sign of solid writing and the cast's ability to transform words into the purest of acting art.

To paraphrase an interview with Barrie Dunn, he said the goal was that when you shut off your TV at night, you still believed that Sunnyvale was still a real place and that the boys were still getting themselves into trouble, and if that was in fact the goal you've done nothing less than achieve that goal to the finest of degrees.

From shit analogies, Grade 10s and greasy cheeseburger guts, I feel as if the stories were all a part of my life, my past. As if I were watching it unfold from the first person perspective. To hear that it was long gone by the time the show was even brought to my attention was unfathomable, I couldn't believe that the story had come to an end, or that it even could! (Reaching back to the goal of it still going on outside of the show)

I try to watch as much related to Trailer Park Boys as possible, documentaries, the whole series, movies, etc. just to feel as if I understand the show even more. To know that the Trailer Park Boys had to give way to real life progress made me feel as if I were losing my childhood home. To see the trailers sitting in the lot, destroyed was really heartbreaking. That set, and the many before it, were not only sets, but dare I say lands where dreams were set in motion to the tune of liquor, gunshots and bad country music.

I'm not giving anyone a fuckin R!

Animal Crossing, Part 1: The Return

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time playing Animal Crossing knows how extensively complex it is, and at the same time how boringly shallow it can be. With me, Animal Crossing sits somewhere between Sim and RPG. There are many tasks that won't take care of them self, as well as tons of things to be done and tons of dialog to be read. After the initial euphoria of the game wears off, you'll get bogged down in repetitive tasks, seeking the enjoyment you once felt, shortly after beginning.

With the many things Nintendo did right with the game, I also feel they executed some things poorly. But I also feel that level of quality control only comes through trial and error, which Nintendo couldn't foresee, obviously.

Back in 2005 I got my first Gamecube from a friend, who was about to toss it into the trash because it wasn't reading discs anymore. Since I love tinkering with broken video game systems, I decided to take on the project. After I managed to get the system open, I adjusted the laser and gave it a test, to which it passed. After buying a few games and playing the system regularly, the system quickly reverted back to having trouble reading discs. Soon, the only game I could play was Animal Crossing because I believe it only uses the disc to boot and save the game.

The system didn't last long and soon I packed the poor dead Gamecube into it's box and put it on a shelf in the closet, never to see light again until it was time to go into the great dumpster in the backyard. I kept the memory card and sold off the games, which now I wish I hadn't. Only on occasion did the poor people of my Animal Crossing ever enter into my mind as a "What Ever Happened to?" thought.

When I picked up another Gamecube I was eager to get back to Animal crossing and get the ball rolling again, just to see what may have happened to my slum town. I popped the game in and loaded my town, aptly named Hell. "Have a good time in Hell", the NPC quipped after loading my game.

Once I was back in Hell, things slowly started to come back to me. My town was overrun with weeds, as anyone who has played Animal Crossing would understand, and the towns folk all greeted my with a hint of anger as they proclaimed they hadn't seen me in 77 months! This puts the last time I played Animal Crossing approximately in July 2005, which makes sense because I still have 5 May tickets for Nook's drawing.

As I started to regain my knowledge of Animal Crossing I also had to refer to online sources that opened my mind to totally new options that I never knew about, mostly the Gameboy Advance features. I knew there were special things hidden throughout the game that were unlockable through various manners, but I never knew some involved attaching the GBA to Gamecube cable to your Gameboy Advance and turning it on to sync up with Animal Crossing.

After much exploring and acting as though those 77 months never occurred, I was back in the saddle and playing through the game like I had previously. After playing for about 4 hours the game started it's slow draw into grinding. I had spoken to everyone in town, I had sold all the things I didn't want, shipped off all the fossils I had forgot to (some 77 months ago!) and I had even went to the basement and played through my NES game collection.

What else was there to do...? Part 2 below!

Animal Crossing, Part 2: This is fun!

One of the major redeeming qualities of Animal Crossing are the collectible NES games, which look like NES systems with an NES game box sitting atop them. You can use them and play them through the Gamecube or use Advance Play and load that game into your Gameboy Advance/SP's temporary memory and play it on there. But the systems are pretty hard to find without using cheats.

Like many games that have no true ending, must like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing gets boring and monotonous after a while. You can only talk to everyone in town so many times, you can only wait to receive the last fossil you need for the museum so long and you can only shake so many trees hoping to get money and not stung by bees.

But there are collections such as bugs, items for the museum and other things that keep the game interesting. The town changes with seasons, there are random visitors who will stroll through your town on occasion and there are town events on real holidays, tracked by the Gamecube's internal clock. But the hype of events and the fact that the game coincides with real life really tends to ware off after a short while.

I haven't played any of the sequels, even though I want to, but I imagine they were built off of what Nintendo learned from the first one here. The game hit with a huge bang, as it was almost all I read about when it first came out and I was eager to give it a shot. The buzz lasted for quite a while and it seems everyone who owned it really loved it longer than I could seem to muster, thats not to say I don't love the game, but I've simply let the novelty wear off with newer games having more replay value than taking the time to visit the poor folks who inhabit my Animal Crossing town of Hell.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Travel, through video games. Part 3: The Latin Element

In parts 1 and 2 I established my undeniable affinity for sandbox style games, and my adoration for their individual environments. But for some reason I absolutely love games that take me to places that are lush with Latin flavor, namely games such as Just Cause, Total Overdose and Mercenaries 2. While Just Cause only built the illusion and feeling of being a set of islands off the coast of South America, Mercenaries 2 and Total Overdose take it one step further and use the names of real countries, Venezuela and Mexico respectively.

The first Mercenaries was set in war-torn North Korea, and it seemingly fit the feel of what a real war-torn North Korea would be. But Mercenaries 2 took you to Venezuela and brought a great landscape of the country they're trying to portray, even though I've never been to North Korea or Venezuela to really know what they're like. Although Just Cause and Total Overdose asked the player to exercise larger than normal amounts of suspension of disbelief, they too bring a good feel to the table with the seemingly endless land and possibilities of things to keep yourself occupied with.

I greatly enjoy South American architecture, landscape and culture, all of which these games seems to feed me in some small, vicarious manner. Although the games don't get the feeling down perfectly, most notably is the fact that people around town speaking English with a Spanish accent, the landscape and architecture seem to bring it all together and make me feel as if I'm truly driving through small South American villages, cities or just down one of many dirt roads.

I know it will never happen, but I wish that I could go visit these places, and even though Mercenaries 2 and Total Overdose were inspired by real locations, the landscape is probably only based loosely off their real counterparts. Maybe someday we'll be able to feel the heat and humidity of the jungles we travel in, the dry crispy air of the deserts and feel the sands beneath our feet, but for now all we can do is control the game's protagonist and enjoy the view.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Travel, through video games. Part 2

In part one I explained how I enjoy video game environments as if I were traveling through a real destination. Almost any video game with an environment I can explore draws me in, and once I'm pretty familiar with the landscape, to the point I know how to get around, I tend to feel as if its a small vacation, of sorts. In part 2 I will be taking on the environments themselves (strictly through the games that I've played) and explaining how closely I feel they represent what they were inspired by, starting with the most often cloned city for video games, New York City.

New York City has been in many games, or at least a well designed copy of it, such as; Grand Theft Auto 3, Driver Parallel Lines, The Godfather (albeit an earlier New York), True Crimes Streets of New York, Grand Theft Auto IV and even Forza Motorsports, just to name a few! Having played all of these games gives me a pretty decent idea of what New York looks like without having been there, even though Google maps pretty much does the same thing on a much less enjoyable scale. And although each game represents NY in it's own way, they're all pretty well done as I feel like I'm actually in New York as I play all of those games.

Miami is represented in both Grand Theft Auto Vice City and Scarface The World is Your's and again everything seems to feel as if I'm really cruising around sunny (and humid!) Miami Florida. Los Angeles has been reproduced in True Crimes Streets of LA, LA Rush as well as cloned for part of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, all of which seem to represent LA pretty well in their own rights. The other 2 parts of San Andreas, Los Vegas and San Francisco, seem to fit their respective inspirations quite well also.

In The Italian Job we saw Turin, Italy and London, England, which was also represented in the Getaway series, and although I'm even more shaky on the exact landmarks and other styling of foreign landscapes than I am of domestics, I feel confident enough to say that I feel as if they did pretty well. The whole Grand Theft Auto series, as well as Driver Parallel Lines, not only give off a feel of the city, but a since of time, which are always an ambient bonus that feel spot on. Not to mention games like Mercenaries, Total Overdose and Just Cause, which is going to be a whole other entry of it's own!

But when I play Starsky and Hutch there seems to be a pretty large disconnect between what they should be trying to convey and what was produced. Both officers Starsky and Hutch feel as if they're from the 70's, the vehicles within the game look as if they're from the 70's but the city just feels like San Francisco to me. Sure the series was based in a fictional city based on San Francisco, and it does kind of feel like it, but there is not era to be felt while driving around Bay City. The big question is when does it all take place as all they really did was build fictional cars in a fictional world and set you loose to live out a simulation of the television series of the same name.

I often find myself watching television and seeing a landmark from one of the many places I've visited in a video game, and I often want to play that game simply because of that. Most of the time, when I find a similar landmark in a television show that has been in a video game, I'm shocked at how closely the game's version represented the real thing. Hopefully part 3 will be the end to this series, but not the end of feeling like every time I start up a free roaming video game, I'm taking a passport free vacation to anywhere I want to go!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Starsky & Hutch Gamecube Review

As a child I grew up in a house with no cable, just the basic channels that the aerial picked up. I consider myself lucky as I got to watch, enjoy and appreciate the older shows such as; Taxi, CHiPs, Sanford and Son, Good Times, All in the Family and the list could go on and on! But most notably I grew an attachment to Starsky and Hutch, a show about 2 fictional police officers who drove around "Bay City" California in a red 1976 Ford Gran Torino and fought crime in an unconventional manner.

So in 2004 when they announced there would be a Starsky and Hutch film, I wasn't too excited to see Ben Stiller would be playing David Starsky. It was only after I bought the DVD for $1 at Disc Replay did I realize I liked the movie. In 2003 a video game of the same title was released, I assume to drum up hype for the movie to be released the following year.

It wasn't until I was given my first Gamecube back in about 2006 that I even knew about the game, I still hadn't watched the movie! I picked up the video game at Shamestop for pretty cheap and took it home to see what it was all about. When I popped it in, the game I was playing wasn't exactly what I had expected, yet it wasn't bad.

The game offers Story Mode, which is the main mode and offers 18 missions cut up into 3 "Seasons" of 6 "Episodes" each. Free Roam, which isn't truly free as you have to keep finding ways to give yourself more time on the clock, where your main objective is to collect 15 hidden police badges spread throughout one of the 4 selectable parts of the map. And finally there are 3 TV specials which are additional missions unlocked through achieving secondary objective along the Story mode.

Story mode seems to be a bit overbearing, you need to achieve the main story goal while keeping an eye on raising and maintain your viewer rating, which gives you a Bronze, Silver or Gold badge depending on how well you do, while collecting power-ups to help you finish the main objective AND keeping an eye out for hidden keys to unlocking items! While you're trying to do all this and finish the mission, you may get side-tracked just enough to make yourself lose the mission. Now you may think that all the unlockable items are now safe and secure so the next time around you can focus purely on the mission, WRONG! You absolutely have to finish the story mode mission to be credited any hidden items you may have attained along the way.

As I said there are power-ups strewn about the city which hang above the road ways, to obtain them you must align the car in such a way that it will highlight the icon and then you have to make Hutch shoot that icon. Although you can pick and choose which power-ups you need; Speed boost, siren, handling boost, etc. I find it much easier to just shoot what I can and keep going so that I don't run out of time and lose the mission completely.

Throughout the story mode, each mission will start and follow up with a comic book style piece of the overall story. The art is really well done and they are narrated by Antonio Fargas, aka Huggy Bear, himself! Each mission will start with an in-game graphical part of the story to get you set into the mission and get you started.

In the game you can unlock many things, such as new vehicles for Free roam, photographs from the TV series, an interview with Antonio Fargas and a few other things. By far the most rewarding are the vehicles you can use in free roam, although there really isn't any performance difference the only change is cosmetic. Sadly I wish there had been some more interesting unlockables, considering how difficult it can be to find the item needed to unlock it.

The gameplay feels much like The Simpsons games (Hit and Run/Road Rage), yet not as polished as those games were. Cars all have the same shiny, cartoony look and goofy handling as they do in The Simpsons games. The load times can be down right horrendous, although nowhere near as bad as The Italian Job for the PSOne, they're pretty painful in their own right.

Overall this game was worth what I spent on it when I originally bought it, and when my original Gamecube died the game gave me a little credit toward more games. Now that I've bought the game again, I can say that $2 was well spent just to be able to drive around in Zebra 3 once more. The game isn't going to draw me back as much as most other free roam, driving games do, but I bought the game twice just to be able to play it, and that says a lot.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


In a world of platform wars, some people refuse to purchase a certain console for whatever their own reasoning is. I prefer to own as many consoles as I can as sometimes games are released only on a certain system (ie: the Stories series of GTA for Sony PSP and PS2 only). But for the vast majority of games released these days, they're released across many different systems and the only difference between them is simply hardware limitations.

I own quite a few systems and once I own a game for any given system I find it hard to desire the same game for another system, unless it is far more superior than the one I already own. Even so, one example of a game I bought for 2 different systems was Mercenaries 2 for both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 2. My Xbox 360 stopped working and I wanted to continue playing Mercenaries 2, yet when I bought the version for PS2 I found that it was completely different than the Xbox 360 version.

Since most of my systems live in boxes in my closet, because I have nowhere else to keep them organized, it becomes a pain in the ass to pull one system out and pack up the one I'm currently using. Lately that has resulted in me giving more thought to buying games that I liked on the system I originally bought it for and just buying it for the system I'm currently spending time on. But I still have to get a good deal on it, no matter how bad I want to avoid dragging out the other system to play it on.

I recently acquired Bully: Scholarship Edition for the Xbox 360, which promptly stopped working due to damage and once I tried to go back to the PS2 version, I simply couldn't bridge the gap! I also watched a gameplay video of 18 Wheeler for the Nintendo Gamecube, since I already own it for the Sega Dreamcast I don't see any reason to purchase it, other than my Dreamcast doesn't always work. There are a handful of other games I've been tempted to act on my impulse, but I haven't yet.

If I happen to find a version of a game I already own for another system while I'm out game hunting (and its cheap!) I'll more than likely pick it up just to have it. But to purposely go out and buy the exact same game for 2 different systems, when there is a great chance that there is absolutely no difference between the two just doesn't interest me in the least. Sure I would like a backup of a video game on another system, in case a system goes south, but otherwise I don't see any reason to just throw money at the same game without reason.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Shipping shit list!

Its no secret that USPS, FedEX, UPS and practically anyone who destroys ships packages are pretty incompetent at their job. One time I ordered a cellphone and the tracking number indicated it was coming from Indianapolis, IN. Great! I live 30 minutes from Indianapolis, it should take no time to get here! WRONG! It literally took 5 days before that item moved and FedEX's excuse was... "other packages take priority over your's."

Really!? I can fucking drive up there and smack your dumb, incompetent ass across the face in 30 minutes (or less) and my package didn't move for 5 days because it wasn't prestigious enough? It doesn't stop there, USPS is just as guilty. When I sell on ebay I prefer to get the package to the people as quickly as possible, because I know how I agonize over where my package is when I purchase something. And that point is exactly why this very entry is being written!

On February 27th I won 2 auctions from ebay, the first of which claimed to ship that day and the other shipped today (March 1). The first is coming from Champaign, IL with an expected delivery window of 02/29/12 - 03/06/12, and the other is, apparently, coming from Akron, OH with an expected delivery window of 03/03/12 - 03/05/12. Lets keep in mind I live 30 minutes away from Indianapolis, where all packages come through to go to local post offices for delivery, which neither of these places are really all that far from.

As I'm writing this the first package hasn't showed up yet, 3 days from Champaign, IL to here? HAHAHAHAHA! The second package took them 3 days to even ship, which I expected due to the lapsed time it took them to reply to my emails, as well as it is stated in their auction "Orders are shipped within 3 business days", I guess they wait to the last minute. The first item didn't have a tracking number, but when I received the tracking number for the other auction today, I was shocked to see what it said.

As you can see above, the package was shipped on 1:25pm (March 1) and is expected to be delivered March 3. Well, lets take a look at the map here...

5 and a half hours away and they can't send that item out the same day it was shipped to arrive the next day? No! Why you may ask? Because that would constitute overnight shipping standards, for parcel post prices! OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Now if I ran a parcel service my policy would be to treat every single package as a hot potato, in the sense that you touch it as little as possible, otherwise leave it in a well protected area, and deliver it as quickly as you can! The less time the package is within our possession, the less liable we are for something bad happening to it! Does that make sense? No, I guess not!

I've heard the horror stories of people claiming insurance for a fucked up package and on the side of the company it would be easy to ease these headaches on both ends by simply limiting the time the given package is in your possession! But it seems their policy is the exact opposite, hold the package as long as possible and if we happen to break it deny, deny, deny! Then refuse to pay out the insurance someone clearly took the time to pay extra for, knowing full well you and your business are all complete and total fuck ups.

Monday, February 20, 2012

PS2 Review: The Getaway Black Monday

If you've read my review for the first part of The Getaway, you should know how disappointed I was with it. After seeing how poorly received, and rightfully so, the first one was, I was shocked to see there was a sequel! After doing a very short bit of research I set out to pick it up from a local Shamestop and give it a go.

When I got to Shamestop the PS2 games were all in disarray and I searched for nearly 30 minutes before I was fed up enough to ask the kid behind the counter whether they had it in stock or not. Sadly they did! I demand my games are mint and complete in their cases with the manuals, but for $2 I was willing to let that slide in this game's case. Although I did ask for a spare PS2 case, and instead got a broken 99 cent store black case...

After cleaning the disc, thanks to Shamestop's lack of give-a-damn, I popped it into my PS2 and off I went! I played the first mission and was pretty well over the experience right there. Same overly simplistic, shove it in your face BS as the first game, with minor (and I do mean MINOR) improvements. The game is pretty much a mirror image (or as one review I read online stated "More of an expansion off the first, instead of it's own game.") of the first!

I had to suffer through all this to get into Free Roam, the only reason I even bought this game!? Well... No! From the start there is a Free Roam option, but the hidden cars are all locked up depending on how far you've progressed into the story. Well hey, that just means I'll free roam about London and when I feel like I give enough of a shit, I may just go through the story mode!

I do have to say that while healing is still done in the stand by a wall and wait for your character to rest, resting doesn't drag out as long as it used to. Also, driving doesn't seem like such a pain in the ass, traffic has a flow that allows for quicker speeds with less (less doesn't mean none) crashes. The headaches of the first game are still present, yet they are alleviated with the aforementioned, minor, improvements.

My only issue is that now I own a game that I may want to keep in my collection that doesn't have the original case or manual. Although the game still doesn't earn it's stripes to be called a GTA clone, this one does work better than the first as an open world, free roaming game. I just hope this is the last we see of this franchise, perhaps the lack of a third is a good sign!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

After use put it in it's CASE!

It baffles me, the amount of games that originally came in perfectly good, plastic cases that are now just a cartridge, or disc, all alone in the big world of video games. When it comes to Nintendo, they always gave you a cardboard box that typically ended up in the trash, thus boxed games for the cartridge based Nintendo systems are always going to be harder to find. But when it comes to Sega, or the disc based systems, there is absolutely NO excuse for these games to be loose, none!

I've seen a lot of loose Nintendo games, and since I understand that people trashed the boxes, and sadly the manuals, I understand why they're loose. When it comes to Genesis games, they're either loose, or boxed with no manual. I'm pretty strict when it comes to Genesis games, I see no reason in why they should be loose, albeit I won't turn down a good deal on loose Genesis carts that I really want to own.

Now that I'm going to be building up my Sega Master System collection, all of my games are complete (with the exception of my very first game before I even owned the system) and that is the way I want the collection to be! Master System games are hard to find as it is, let alone having to find them complete with the manual and in good condition, but that isn't to say it will be an impossible feat, and again I couldn't turn down a good deal on a loose SMS cartridge.

While reading through the manual for Hang On/Safari Hunt, under cartridge care it states "After use put it in its CASE", which hit me as funny. Sega knew people should return the cartridge to the case, why was it so hard for people to put the games back? The plastic case wasn't like the cardboard Nintendo offered, it was reusable.

Many of my Genesis cartridges are loose, but I would rather have them all complete. When it comes to disc based video games, I will almost never buy it without a case and manual, but if I find one super cheap in a bin at a thrift store I may pick it up. But it truly baffles me as to why people let discs and cartridges that came in plastic cases just float around loose.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Let me reiterate...

It never ceases to amaze me how life will take things out of my hands to give me a better deal. I had decided to treat myself to a rare holiday gift and finally own a piece of video gaming history I had wanted for a long time, a Sega Master System. As an avid thrift store hunter I had always hoped I would run across the system and some controllers, or anything from the Master System, and I never did.

I took to ebay to see if I could get a lot with some games, as the only other options were Disc Replay ($50 system alone) or a local indoor flea market, which had a Sega Master System sitting in there since July ($40 or $45 for the system), so if I ran out of options that would be the way to go. After losing 4 auctions I decided I would just go ahead and buy the one sitting in the flea market, but when I went down there to get it... it was gone! That thing had sat in the case for nearly 6 months and now it was gone? Wow!

Back to ebay I went, watching auction after auction exceed the limits of what I was willing to spend. One day I noticed a local listing, so I shot the person an email and asked if they were willing to sell it outside of ebay, after agreeing on a price we setup a meeting. That day was filled with anxiety and excitement as I was within hours of collecting my Sega Master System, taking it home and playing it.

The thing is, I was willing to spend $40 on the system, hookups and controllers, and when life took that option away I spent $20 more and got 10 games, one of which lists for the extra cash I ended up spending on the whole lot anyway. Everything looked as if they were only played on rare occasions, the games were all complete in the hard cases and the only real issue was one controller's cord is a little worse for wear. Had I bought the system alone, I would never have found the games for $20, hell I have a hard enough time finding Sega Master System games period.