Zap: The Rise and Fall of Atari

Yet another good retro video game book I found on Scribd: Zap: The Rise and Fall of Atari.

Zap is actually about as old as the video game history it covers.  It was published in 1984, a fact that really becomes evident in the later half of the book.  Though it would be easily to laugh at or complain about some of the dated material in that half, it still remains that Cohen gives us a pretty decent history of the very early games of Atari.  If you are reading these books just to connect with your childhood (as I am), this book will suffice.  I recommend checking it out.

 

Also be sure to check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian, or listen to my Atari 2600 podcast with author Justin Kyle.

Contra Evolution

The NES version of Contra is one of all my all-time favorite games.  I remember the first time I played it.  It is a love I’ve never gotten over.  I’ve always kept tabs on the games and its sequels.  Recently, I discovered the Android app Contra: Evolution.

Evolution is an updated version of the NES version.  It has the same levels in the same arrangement.  It has the same two soldiers and the same weapons and same music.  But it has all been improved.  The graphics are finer and the music sharper.  There are also a couple of female soldiers, a boss rush mode, a mission mode (beat certain levels under a certain time and with a certain score), and weapon power-ups.  There is in-app purchasing as well.  I didn’t try that, but you can apparently buy better weapons with it.

It seems like there is some sort of PC version of Evolution out there.  I don’t know if it was only released in Europe or something, but I could never find it.  I only found pictures of a game that clearly wasn’t my Android app.

I also really missed my gamepad.  I would have dominated Evolution if I could play with an actual controller.  Even so, the controls were better than what I’ve experienced with other Android apps.  I was able to play through the entire game and do okay with the mission mode.

Nothing is going to take my heart away from the original.  But if you’re going to remake and expand on a classic, you could do worse than Contra: Evolution.  I highly recommend it.  And if you find out anything about a pc version, let me know!

And if you liked this post, check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian.

100 Computer Games To Play Before You Die

I’ve bragged about my free Scribd account before.  Yesterday, I used it to read this book: 100 Computer Games to Play Before You Die by Steve Bowden.

100 Computer

Bowden fills this book with 100 reviews of great video games from both the classic and the modern eras.  The reviews are short (usually 3 Kindle pages) and yet seem pretty info-packed.  This results in the desire to keep reading.  It did for me, anyway. I always wanted to see which game was next and what he said about it.  The entries are in alphabetical order, and since they span the entire video game era and not just the retro era, they include only a few retro games (Donkey KongDefender) or franchise (Super Mario Bros.Legend of Zelda, and Metroid are each represented by later games, not the originals).  And being limited to 100 keeps a lot of good stuff from being included.  Still, it is a fun and quick read which I recommend.  If you don’t have a Scribd account, you can get it from Amazon.com here.

 

And after you finish with this one, check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian, or listen to my Atari 2600 podcast with author Justin Kyle.

E.T. In Alamogordo

At least one urban legend is true.  Or maybe we should say the story about a truckload of 2600  E.T. cartridges being buried in a New Mexico landfill is not an urban legend at all.  However you parse it, cartridges were indeed found in that spot.  You can read about the discoveries in this article.

On one hand, this is relatively awesome.  Not only is a “stranger than fiction” story true, but a veritable time capsule of Atari 2600 merchandise has been released.  On the other hand, though, this is rather horrible.  I actually like E.T.  I remember playing and beating it as a kid.  I recently gave it a play as an adult and still find it enjoyable.  Do I think it is a great game.  Not really.  But I think it is better than the Pac-Man clone Spielberg originally pitched.  The fact that truckloads of this game, as well as all the other cartridges and gear, were just discarded in such a way is pretty shameful.

Still, it will make a good documentary, and I look forward to watching it.  If you are looking forward to it as well and are looking for something to fill the time until it is released, check out my video game books ANESthetized and Arcadian, or listen to my Atari 2600 podcast with author Justin Kyle.

Atari 2600 Manuals and Nintendo Club Magazines on Scribd

As a Smashwords contributor, I was recently given a free subscription to Scribd. I found a way to sideload the Scribd app on my Kindle and immediately searched for Atari and Nintendo stuff. I was very happy with what I found. There were several collections of Atari 2600 Manuals and several issues of both Nintendo Club and Nintendo Power magazine.
Screenshot_2014-04-19-11-14-39

Screenshot_2014-04-19-11-15-38

Screenshot_2014-04-19-11-16-24

Access to these manuals and magazines is just more of my portable nostalgia. It is bits of my childhood that I can check out and spend a few minutes with anytime I want. If you ate similarly looking for portable nostalgia, I suggest you get the Scribd app and look around. Also, my books ANESthetized and Arcadian are there. Apparently you can get them there for free. If you do, please give me a good review at Amazon.com!

Game Pro TV

I’m finalizing my latest book, TV In My Time. It is about all the TV I watched in the 80s. As I was finalizing it, I remembered a show that times into my video game books: Game Pro TV.

Actually a show from the early 90s, Game Pro TV featured J.D. Roth (who would appear in a host of other youth-oriented shows) and Bren-nan (a Bill and Ted clone) talking about video games. The only clear memories of this show is a preview of Act Raiser for SNES and a clip that ran that was submitted by a viewer. This viewed explained that if you left one creature alive on any board of The Legend Of Zelda, the creatures would not be respawned. So if you left one creature on each board, you would easily be able to navigate Hyrule. I thought it was a lame tip, especially considering that The Legend of Zelda was an old game by that time. Still, I liked the show and am glad I remembered it.

Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters

I was just browsing through Crackle (which means I am really, really at a loss for entertainment) when I came across a documentary I had never heard of before: Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters.

Being a lover of documentaries on weird subjects as well as video games, I decided to give it a watch. As the title indicates, it is about a group of Tetris masters who are gathered together to determine which is the world master. Interestingly enough, the version of Tetris they choose to play is the NES version. I prefer the Game Boy myself. I just think Tetris is built for the Game Boy. But the NES version was a good choice.


Overall, the movie is pretty much as good as The King of Kong and Chasing Ghosts. There are lots of interesting side stories, such as the return of a Nintendo World’s Champion player and his claims to be able to get to level 30 (in NES Tetris, level 29 is considered a kill screen because the pieces fall so fast). Even more interesting is that this guy has his NES standing on its side, something I would never have considered doing in the original NES area and wouldn’t really consider doing today! Check out the website, which is selling the movie for $10, or hit it up on Crackle.