Monday, May 21, 2018

The Arcade and Other Strange Tales - Reviewed by Carlos Gonzalez


The Arcade and Other Strange Tales

Reviewed by Carlos Gonzalez


Do you like the horror and mystery genres? Do you enjoy weird stories? If so, then look no further than the book The Arcade and Other Strange Tales, written by the author Brett Weiss. Weiss, who’s known for his other works such as The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 along with the “Classic Home Video Games” series, takes several of the short stories he wrote for magazines in the past and incorporates them into a 109-page book.

The first story, which is the longest, is called “The Arcade.” This 14-page story starts off with an unhappy arcade operator named Jeff who sees a message on a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet that tells him, “Meet us on the roof of the tallest structure in your city.” Being curious, Jeff does what the message says, and then it all goes downhill from there. The door to the roof gets locked, Jeff becomes freezing cold, the wind blows him off the roof, he lands in a flying saucer, a voice in the saucer questions him about his beliefs, and then Jeff goes back time to the arcade where he sees all the cabinets he enjoyed when he was younger. It’s a weird story, but that’s what makes it charming—it plays with the reader’s head and requires an open mind to fully understand.

While “The Arcade” is a fascinating tale, so are the other fiction stories. There are a wide variety of stories from the genres of horror, sci-fi, and mystery. “Wormboy” is about a boy who eats worms. He has a strict mother who is harsh on him, he gets wrapped up in the worms, and then he lives beneath the soil. Another story in this book is called “Strange Children,” where a guy named Bill feeds off these mutant creatures that come during night. He gets eaten by them and turns into one of the creatures.

One of the best stories in the book is called “What Do They Do While We Sleep?” This is a futuristic story where humans live under strict laws by the government and must to hibernate for months while a holo-globe watches their every movement. In this story, a man named Taylor Haynes does everything he can to work around the rules of deep sleep and the holo-globe to found out what the government does while they sleep. This is a nicely detailed story that is fascinating to read through to see if Taylor is successful or not.

These are just a few of the tales from the 12 fiction stories in this book, and each one will keep a reader entertained. The second half of the book features non-fiction articles and essays with a mix of different topics. “The Retro Video Game Craze” details the history of past game systems such as Atari and NES, along with the rarity of some of the games. The “Retro Gaming Non-Fiction Books” chapter discusses some of the authors in the industry, such as Leonard Herman, who wrote the book Phoenix IV: The History of Videogame Industry, Michael Thomasson, who wrote Downright Bizarre: Videogames that Crossed the Line, Tim Lapetino, the author of Art of Atari, and Antoine Clerc-Renaud along with Jean-Francois Dupuis, who co-wrote Coleco: The Official Book. Anyone who loves video games will enjoy that section.

The Kiss Pinball Machines and Video Games chapter talks about retro and modern pinball machines with the rock band KISS on them and the differences between the machines. Also, the video games featuring KISS on PC and PlayStation 1. While some of these articles are on gaming, some are unrelated to video games, including a feature on Stephen King, an interview with horror novelist Bentley Little, and the final section about author Brett Weiss. These articles are intriguing as well.

In conclusion, The Arcade and Other Strange Tales is a fascinating little book. Brett Weiss used a lot of imagination in these stories. For those who are not big on horror and mystery fiction tales, they have the second half of the book, which is comprised of non-fiction. While $10 may seem a bit much for a 109-page book, each story is filled with detail, and some will need a second read to fully understand the symbolism in the story.

Brett Weiss did a great job with this book, and hopefully he will write another one full of fun twisted stories. Overall score: 90 out of 100.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #25 - Zoe Howard


I have yet to meet Zoe Howard in person, but I feel like I know her fairly well, based on the “conversations” we’ve had online, and on the personal stories she submitted to both volumes of the SNES Omnibus. Zoe rented a bunch of SNES titles while she was growing up, and those experiences of her family bonding and laughing while playing the games were perfect for inclusion in the books. Zoe is a fine writer and a super cool person (or so she’s lead me to believe--LOL), and I’m really looking forward to meeting her for real at the Game On Expo in Phoenix this August.


Zoe K. Howard, author of November’s End, is a freelance writer and accomplished video game critic. Zoe has been an avid gamer since the early ’80s, immersing herself in both the culture and community of video gaming. In 2012, Zoe and her partner Wanda Calamia began the YouTube show, The Retro Gamer Girls, where they celebrate their love for classic gaming. The duo quickly became advocates for equality and supported anti-bullying campaigns amongst gamers.  In 2014, Zoe and Wanda were awarded with a Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Card, representing women in gaming. Zoe is the creator and founder of Retro is Life, a gaming hive and review website that creates a platform for gamers to explore and experience current games and trends, all while maintaining the preservation of the games we loved as kids and revere into adulthood.

Monday, May 14, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #24 - Matt Miller


You’re not going to find a nicer guy in or out of the video game industry than Matt Miller, who I met a few years ago at an arcade event in Austin, and then again in Iowa. He became an instant friend and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Super cool dude. I knew Matt was a sincere and kind person, and a fierce competitor at video games, but I had no idea he was such a good writer until I sent out solicitations looking for nostalgic stories for my SNES Omnibus project. He turned in highly polished work with a personal, distinctive voice.

Here’s Matt’s bio as it will appear in TheSNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M), which will be out in June or July:

Matt Miller is a lifelong gamer and multiple video game world record holder, both as a solo player and as one half of the co-op gaming duo, Team Mayh3m. He has had records published in five books in the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition series. Matt has been interviewed in a variety of outlets, including Obsolete Gamer, Twin Galaxies, Extended Play Arcade, TheWalter Day Collection, and The Retro Junkies “Winging It” podcast. He also appears in the acclaimed 2015 documentary, Nintendo Quest, as well as its companion series, the Nintendo Quest Power Tour.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Bits of Yesterday Video Game Documentary - The Foreword


I was honored to write the foreword/liner notes to the new video game documentary, The Bits of Yesterday, which was executive-produced by Adam F. Goldberg (of The Goldbergs fame). The film was directed by Darrin Peloquin, and you can order it HERE.

Here's a description of the movie from IMDB: "In this panoptic documentary on the niche culture of the retro video game collector, follow gaming enthusiasts and fans as they relive their childhood memories, make new ones and champion to keep an antiquated media format alive."

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO READ MY FOREWORD TO THE FILM:


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SNES Omnibus Writer Spotlight #23 - Anthony Frisina


One of the most loyal supporters of my work, Anthony Frisina is a great guy who shares my book posts on social media on a regular basis. He supports other gaming writers as well, such as my buddy Patrick Hickey, and he's a skilled writer himself, contributing excellent stories to both volumes of the SNES Omnibus. I look forward to seeing Anthony at a video game convention somewhere in the not too distant future. If all my readers were like Anthony, an enthusiastic and positive force in gaming journalism, I could retire on book royalties. Thanks for all you do, Anthony!

Here's Anthony's bio as it will appear in SNES Omnibus Vol. 1 


Anthony Frisina is a freelance writer, photographer and independent filmmaker who transferred his love of video games into a lifelong passion. As a child of the 1990s, he prefers 16-bit era games, with the Super Nintendo being his favorite console. In between writing screenplays and novels, Anthony spends his time writing video game reviews and opinion pieces for a variety of magazines and online journals, most notably Review Fix. Anthony’s favorite games for the SNES are Super Castlevania IV and Super Mario World. Check him out on IMDB.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Texas Frightmare Weekend - Dallas - May 4-6


Texas Frightmare Weekend will take place in Dallas May 4-6. You can read my preview of the show HERE and get more info on the event HERE. For my 2014 preview of the show, I interviewed Robert Patrick.    


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

FIRST LOOK at The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M)

I finally received the go-ahead from my publisher to show some sample pages from my forthcoming book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-M). The pages will be bigger and clearer in the actual printed pages of the book (you can save the pages to your desktop for an even closer look than clicking on the images), but you can click on each image below to get a good idea of what the book is all about. For more info on The SNES Omnibus, click HERE.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!