Old School Gaming Slapdown

Four Score and Seven Pongs Ago

Arcade games are a sorely forgotten point in gaming history. Before you were “fragging” “newbs” in an ongoing warfare conflict , even before you were eating mushrooms to embiggen yourself, you faced the ultimate enemy. One that learned every move you made, and used it against you. Yourself. The high score.

Old school arcade games were sort of before my time. I didn’t discover my love until Robotron, dare I say in 2005. Sure I played my share of Pac-Man, and Centipede, and Asteroids but I never got hooked. But fortunately for us, downloadable games don’t have to be AAA multi million dollar, over marketed, cut scene ridden “experiences”. They can be a simple goal. A score. XBox Live Arcade has brought some AWESOME modern takes on the arcade game.

Four Score and Seven Pongs Ago

That’s why a simple tweet I made turned into (hopefully) a gaming tradition. On December 30th, 2011 I’ll be facing off against one of the most old school gamers I know. So join us, and follow @4score7pongs on Twitter. We’ll be facing off for at least 8 hours, battling for the highest score of the day on some of the best arcade games available.  We’ll have a live webcam and tweeting all day. So you can root for team @jarbochov or team @morningtoast.

Check out http://morningtoast.com/fourscore for more deets.

Thoughts on Handheld Gaming

Handheld gaming. Gamers are pretty decisive on the subject. Either you like it or you don’t. One criticism I often hear is “I don’t like playing games on a screen that small”. I’ve never really thought that was the reason though. I’ve always believed that people see handheld gaming as something more childish or simplified than their console brethren. I think a true fan of games plays great games regardless of platform.


When the iPhone game out, I don’t know how many articles I read that were predicting a huge rivalry between Nintendo’s DS and the iPhone. I can assure you that’s not close at all nor will it be anytime soon. A friend of mine wrote a very good article on smartphone games that you should definitely read. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Angry Birds. It’s a good time killer but it doesn’t have the depth of some truly wonderful handheld games.  There are some great games that are transitioning over to a smartphone platform that I recommend. Infinity Blade, and Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery are amazing and original.

Graphics are also cited as another reason that people don’t like handheld games. And I think that all goes back to when the Wii came out and people complained that it wasn’t in HD and didn’t have a chance. If it’s a good game, you won’t notice as much, and there are some Wii games that are much more artfully inspired than the other consoles (Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, the Bit Trip Series to name a few.)  The PSP has tremendously better graphics than the DS, but hasn’t sold nearly as well. The PSP also offers a large number of ports or interquels of console games in lieu of original concepts.


If you like games but cite the reasons above for why you don’t play handheld games, give it another shot. With the 3DS out DS prices should drop more and more as time goes on, and there is a wealth of awesome games that you won’t find counterparts on consoles.


Now, I’ll go back to playing Pokemon White. Gotta catch ’em all as they say.


DLC = Downloadable Crap

I’m angry, why? Recently it was announced that Modern Warfare 2’s upcoming map pack would cost $15. Modern Warfare 2 itself costs $60.  And thanks to a new feature on Wolfram Alpha we can visualize the math here. Let’s give it a look.

With a little factorization, we come to the fraction, 1/4, or 25%. That’s right. Activision feels that this map pack consisting of 5 NEW MAPS!!! three new maps and 2 maps from the original Modern Warfare, are worth one quarter (another way of saying 1/4) of the game. People will still buy it, because the 16 maps included in MW2 get stale after a month or two.

DLC has become a joke. I can see why PC players resent console releases like these. They can mod their games and play any maps people have created for the game for FREE. Now don’t get me wrong, DLC has brought wonderous games like Braid, World of Goo, and Geometry Wars among several others. And DLC can make games better in rare (extremely rare) instances (i.e. Burnout Paradise). But when we are going to be charged for content that was originally part of the game, you can count me out. Game companies need to take the route of developers like Media Molecule, and Valve if the their consumers to come back again and again.

Upcoming New Segment: Cheap Cheap Gaming

Gaming on the Cheap

I like video games. You may like video games. However, it’s not always easy to afford gaming especially nowadays. That’s why I’ll have an upcoming regular feature on my blog called Cheap Cheap Gaming. It’s really easy and affordable to play a generation behind on gaming consoles. There are tons of great games for the PS2, Gamecube, and PC that you can find quite affordable. Hidden gems if you will. So if your interested, I’ll whisk you away to 5 years ago (and before), when the world was simpler, the grass was greener, and double jumping was NEW!

Stay tuned!

Review : Shadow Complex (All Your Base Are Belong To Us)

When I first heard about Shadow Complex, I just heard it was a game from Epic (makers of Gears of Wars). I said okay. Then I heard it was a 2D platformer shooter. My interest was piqued. Then I heard it was very much in the style of Super Metroid. At this point I wanted to subscribe to all and any newsletters and blogs regarding the subject. When I heard that the developers all played Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion before starting, I was enraptured. When the game finally came out at the end of Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade, I played the crap out of it and beat it in a matter of days. Few games have captured my attention and time like this one has.

Continue reading “Review : Shadow Complex (All Your Base Are Belong To Us)”

Kid Doesn’t Like Contra, Is It Really A Surprise?

So by way of Kotaku I saw this video (see below) about how a kid was asked to play a retro game and evaluate it. The game of choice was Contra for the NES. Among the questions asked were the difficulty of the game, the graphics, the music, and the willingness to try to beat such a difficult game. The outcome? The kid didn’t really like it. I didn’t find it surprising, but it seems like geeks were in an outcry all over Twitter. Notably, some friends of mine as well. I am having a hard time grasping why people are outraged at one kid.Contra

I think the interview/evaluation with the kid was flawed. The kid didn’t strike me as an avid gamer. He listed three games that he plays: Halo 3, Call of Duty : World at War, and NHL.  Some first person shooters and a sports game. When we were kids we had friends like this – the friends that only played NBA Jam, or Mortal Kombat. Fighting and sports. But some of us played all kinds of games and subjected ourselves to such masochist games like Contra. All of this is anecdotal evidence. I personally overheard two kids at Red Lobster talking about Super Mario World for the SNES and how much fun they were having. This study also doesn’t include Erica’s cousin who plays Contra 4 for DS (not exactly the same, but the music, graphics, and difficulty are not much different from the original) and loves the game.

The point I want to convey is we shouldn’t make assumptions based on the opinion of this one kid. If someone were to provide me a valid poll with a proper sample size (1000 kids of varying demographics) then we could worry about kids and video gaming. There is a plethora of good video games today, and several opportunities for kids to play classics by way of DLC. The biggest problem is exposure to such games. Kids aren’t rocking out to Mega Man 2 or Tetris like we did. They aren’t advertised and aren’t sold on store shelves.

Two last things. I didn’t like Contra when I was a kid. The difficulty was too high for me. I didn’t appreciate the game until college. Also I know people that haven’t played half of this awesome list of 16 bit classics (the best generation in my opinion).