Thursday, April 27, 2006

More Comments on eBay

I recently acquired a lot of used equipment for The Personal Computer Museum and in there were some great software gems. I've mentioned this before, that this software in the box is just the only way! Well, I went through a lot of it and discovered that I had doubles of quite a few of them. Doubles are GOOD in my books because I can sell the duplicate on eBay, make some cash, and put that towards obtaining different equipment that I don't have for the musuem. I mention this to donors and they have all agreed that's a good thing.

So one of the games I had two of was "Loom" from Lucasarts. This might be the actual first game I ever played through to completion back in the 80's and it really captivated me. It was an adventure game and you caused certain actions to occur by playing musical notes on the staff. For example, you could learn the "notes" to turn straw into gold, and then use that gold to buy something else you needed to progress in the game. Later, when you are faced with a scary and daunting Dragon, you appear to be stuck with nowhere to go. If you figured out (as I eventually did) that playing that previous little diddy backwards would turn gold into straw, you would find that the precious gold the dragon was guarding was suddenly dry straw and his mere breath set it all on fire, causing him to flee the cave and allowed you to continue on. Sounds a little silly now, but it was pure genius at the time.

So I throw this copy (complete with the audio cassette covering the backstory) onto eBay and yep, it's already gotten a bid. I imagine I'll get $5-$10 for it (because that's all it's worth). I take a quick look at some other auctions. Wow. Loom for the PC, on CD-ROM (with voices) and the PAL edition to boot sold yesterday for over $170 US. Is this just me, or is this NUTS? And then to top it all off, I check the history for previous copies of Loom being sold and discover that the FM-Towns edition (autographed by the author mind you) went for over $650 US!!!!!!! For a game over 15 years old. See the comments from my last post to understand where this comes from.

Yet, other times I list things and can't get $0.99 for them. It's all about the right person(s) at the right time....which I guess is true in real-life too!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Shopping in the land of eBay

Why are people stupid? I ask myself this everyday but never seem to get an answer. I see it all the time on eBay though. I just wish people would be stupid when they bid on my auctions and not be that way when they are bidding AGAINST me. .

eBay is a great way to find just about anything you are looking for. I, for example, am looking for an Apple Lisa, an FM Towns machine amongst others. Why do people have to be dumb though? Either they ask too much for machines, or some idiot comes along and pays too much. Is it a lot of shill bidding going on or what?

If you have an original PET or a Spectravideo computer (or the ones mentioned above)...I'd like to talk to you! But please, don't be dumb.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Old style gaming

There has been some recent buzz about bringing back "abandonware" ... you know, the software the has been abandoned by companies because it's a million years old (in computer years like 10 in real years) so that people can buy it legitimately. Many "console" game companies have already been doing this, dipping back into their libraries for the "ultimate" collections. These are "OK" and I do buy them, although I've not been entirely pleased with all of them. The problem is that most of the titles you don't know or don't care about (and it's kind of hard to get addicted to Bionic Commando in 2006 if you've never played it before) and the titles that you MIGHT want to play could be from some obscure company you've never heard of.

I love The Underdogs because you can download your favs (at least the PC versions) and play what you want. They are great about respecting Copyright issues and most companies only complain about their IP if they are still making money off it somehow.

I must admit though, recently when I received a great donation of old Commodore equipment for The Personal Computer Museum there was nothing better than holding those oringal game boxes. I've said it before, but it's soooo true! Emulators are ok but nothing beats the real thing with the disks, joysticks, keyboards etc. in your hands. I guess I'm just fortunate enough to have the space and systems set up to do this with.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Problem with Easter

You know, I've been thinking about Easter as a Holiday and I've decided I know what's wrong with it. There's no associated "sound" you can make that says "Easter" definitively. I'll give you an example. When I was at the grocery store, going through the checkout, I was bored as usual and thoughts entered my head. I wanted to say "Have a great Easter" to the cashier, but sometimes I'm just lazy with saying words. Had it been thanksgiving, I could have uttered "gobble, gobble". If it was Christmas, "Ho, ho, ho!" or rang some jingle bells. Instead, with Easter, I'm stuck twitching my nose like a freakin bunny rabbit in the hopes that she'll see me.

Yeah, sure, you might think that the Cadbury cluck like a chicken commercial should work... but it just doesn't. The only chicken sound I can make sounds like "krbaaaaach" which in turn actually sounds like a chicken getting goosed (get it!?).

So, until somebody comes up with a sound that is Easter, I guess I'm stuck. I ended up spending a small amount of time with the Tomb Raider: Legend demo on the XBox 360 (oh, so yummy) and playing a little bit of Zathura on the PS2. Man, that game is awful looking yet I keep playing it. The framerate is terrible and the character models were obviously recycled from some unreleased Nintendo 64 game. I tried to think up an Easter sound during that game, and all I can say is that it was all so painful, so painful.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Escaping those Apes

I just recently finished Ape Escape 3 for the PS2 ( Great game but it's got me thinking about a few things.

I've never played the other Ape Escape games for more than a few minutes. I understand that this one has some new elements (monkeys can capture YOU) but it pretty much looks like Ape Escape 2 that I've booted up and played only briefly.

So the thought is this .... when are graphics considered an 'art style' versus just lower production values? Ape Escape 2 came out in 2003 and surely in 2-3 years time they could have made the graphics better. Did they leave that that way because that's what we expect an Ape Escape game to look like and would they piss off just as many people with new graphics as they are with the outdated ones?

It's clearly a decision every developer has to make at some point when working on a sequel. I think most opt for improving the graphics in some way or another. Maybe the Ape Escape 3 developers did improve them with more on-screen items or something else that I can't see-- but maybe I can experience.

Preserving the art style or being lazy? You decide. Me, all I care about is nabbing those damn monkeys.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Next gen gaming

I had a game party on the weekend and it was great. Smaller crowd than usual but you know, it was actually better because people got to play some actual games with each other instead of a few people hogging all the systems (and couches). I went with a music theme, having the Nintendo Gamecube running a dual-set of Bongo drums and Donkey Konga, the Dreamcast with the maracas (I'm really not sure if they were working right, they need to have a 'calibration' test or something) and of course, Guitar Hero on the PS2. Can you believe someone actually coded a Guitar Hack to let you use the controller as a real instrument on your PC? Check it out at

Anyways, we had Jeff's XBox 360 hooked up at the museum on the 122 inch wall and ran the Tomb Raider: Legends demo out there. Personally, I found it amazing. What I don't understand is that everyone out there is bitching because the 360 version just 'looks prettier'. Yeah? Your point? I would hope it does! And it's HD. These are advancements people! Was I expecting it to be different from what was on the current generation? No...and neither should you. It takes time to design a game and the developers always leverage existing assets where they can. I'm not surprised at all. Did they take the time to redo some textures and improve the normal maps so we can see her jiggle in even more detail? Yes and the rest of the benefits just come with it.

With Microsoft entering the Next-Gen battle earlier than anyone predicated, it's going to take time for the software to catch up. This is not unusual and has happened in all of the other console launches that were first too. The nice thing is that by the time the 1st generation of PS3 titles hit and there is some excitement there, the 360 will start getting some titles that leverage the hardware more than they are doing today. Progress takes time.

Do I feel ripped off paying $10 more a 360 version? Not really. I wish it was the same price (duh) but I understand I'm getting a better product. I don't understand why everyone thinks everything (especially things that are better) should be free. Don't like it? Buy the other versions then.

Well enough of my bitchin' for the day. I gotta write my column for the Expositor ( -- maybe I just gave myself a column idea.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why Game-X-Change Sucks

So I'm in Oklahoma City (again) and I'm out on the great video game hunt. I love coming to new cities looking for games, and when I stumbled upon this Game X Change ( I got excited. Why? Well....they had boxed Super Nintendo (SNES) titles out the wazoooo. And cheap! $1.95 for some sports titles and $6.95 for some others. Yep. Bought a lot. Had a stack so high that I couldn't see over it and spent a good deal of time just trying to figure out how I was going to get all these games home.

Then, the worst thing happened.

They pulled my games from behind the counter (common practice to not put the actual game inside the box for security reasons) and then started putting the boxes back OUT! What!? I said "Don't I get the boxes?".... uh ... NO. The boxes are for display only!

How unfair is that? I buy only boxed games for my N64 and most of the other titles weren't such a deal sans box. So I said "Well, I don't want any of them then" and had them put 'em all back. What a croc. So what happens when they sell the last copy of "insert game name here"? They are going to throw that box out eventually, aren't they!?

I couldn't be more po'ed. I went from being the most elated gamer to the most pissy in 0.5 seconds.

To the management of Game X-Change: you just lost yourself a ton of business and do everyone a favor: put up a sign if you are not selling the boxes, any other way is just false advertising.