Thursday, December 14, 2017
Before You See Star Wars: The Last Jedi, check out what you need to know in my spoiler-free article. Click HERE to read it.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Christmas is coming, and the goose is getting fat. Hopefully your wallet is fat as well because it’s gift-giving time.
There are tons of nifty new pop culture items you could purchase for family and friends, so I’ve narrowed my suggestions down to a few select items that appeal to me—namely books and special collector’s editions of movies, music, and video games.
If you read my AntiqueWeek cover stories on Ken Kesey’s “Magic Trip” and the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, you may have gathered that I’m fascinated by the Flower Power era, which makes this book a no brainer.
Fully illustrated in color and featuring interviews, history, and more on topics as diverse as The Brady Bunch, The Beatles, Jesus Christ Superstar, and comic book artist Jim Steranko, Groovy is as trippy and as its name implies, taking readers on a psychedelic pop culture romp through a controversial, yet colorful time.
Speaking of psychedelic, Oliver Hibert was born in 1983, but his outré art, displayed beautifully in this book, is clearly inspired by the cartoonish, counter-culture aesthetic and startling colors of such ’60s stylists as Peter Max and Alton Kelley.
Sean Ono Lennon described the young artist’s work best: “Oliver Hibert’s art is like Hello Kitty dreaming of Aleister Crowley on ketamine listing to Syd Barrett while having an orgy with demonic love aliens on a mushroom-shaped UFO.”
KISS: The Elder Vol. 2: Odyssey
In 1981, KISS released Music from “The Elder”, an artsy fartsy concept album that was far different than any of the iconic rock band’s previous work. It was produced by Bob Ezrin, who also produced Destroyer and Pink Floyd’s landmark concept album, The Wall. The low-selling record, which didn’t even feature the band on the cover, befuddled many fans, but others hailed it as a masterpiece.
In the ensuing years, fans have created fiction, films, and comic books based on the story-driven album, and now Dynamite Entertainment has gotten in on the act, publishing a pair of intriguing, beautifully illustrated graphic novels. Written by Amy Chu with art by Kewber Baal, the books take place in a dark, futuristic world without heroes. Four young friends go on a dangerous mission to uncover the truth about the mysterious Council of Elders and their underground home, the city of Blackwell.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a decent collection of live-action movies based on DC Comics superheroes. However, your animated movie library of same may be wanting.
Enter DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection, a Blu-ray boxed set featuring all 30 animated films, plus 5 animated shorts and a variety of extras, including collectible coins and an adult coloring book. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but there’s a lot of good stuff here, including my favorite Batman movie of all time (animated or otherwise): Batman and Harley Quinn.
No, I’m not a big fan of Dirty Dancing, the romantic film starring the late Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, but I’m probably not the target audience. However, I do have a number of females on my shopping list, so grabbing a few of these babies (“Nobody puts Baby in a corner”) would probably be a good idea.
This Blu-ray set is loaded down with features and memorabilia, including documentaries, interviews, dance step cards, a mini theatrical one-sheet, Kellerman's cottage room keychain for Baby's room, and a 108-page shooting script.
Their Satanic Majesties Request - 50th Anniversary Special Edition (by The Rolling Stones)
Everyone knows about the 50th anniversary set of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, so I won’t discuss that here. Rather, I’ll go with a re-release of a more obscure album from 1967: The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, which veered from the band’s blues and R&B roots in favor of a psychedelic sound.
This four-disc set includes mono and stereo mixes on vinyl and hybrid SACD (Super Audio CD), along with a recreation of the original 3D cover and a 20-page booklet featuring photos from the original cover shoot.
KISS fans take note: Their Satanic Majesties Request includes the original version of 2000 Man, which Ace Frehley covered for his 1979 solo album.
Star Wars: A New Hope--40th Anniversary Box Set (by John Williams)
Walt Disney Records
Even back when the world called the first Star Wars movie by its two-word name without adding “Episode IV” or “A New Hope,” I knew John Williams’ film score was special. From the opening credits to the destruction of the Death Star, the music is as key to the excitement of the action as the lightsabers, blasters, and TIE fighters.
The music in this set is pressed on three bound and sleeved LPs on 180g vinyl, certain sides of which are etched with 3D holograms: one of the Death Star, one of the Star Wars 40th Anniversary logo. The records are packaged with a 48-page hardcover book featuring images of recording sessions, film scenes, and conceptual art.
Short of an actual movie prop, I can’t imagine a better gift for the Star Wars fan in your life.
Sonic Mania: Collector's Edition (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
If you grew up during the 1990s and played a lot of video games, you were probably a Nintendo or Sega kid. I was both (big surprise there), enjoying both the slower, more exploratory pace of Mario and the speedy thrills of Sonic, who dashed, zipped, and looped through levels with reckless abandon. (Okay, I wasn’t exactly a kid during the ’90s, but I was a kid at heart.)
Sonic Mania recaptures the excitement of the original Sonic the Hedgehog titles on the Sega Genesis, but features new zones, new hidden paths, new secret areas, and new abilities, such as Sonic’s new Drop Dash. This collector’s edition of the game is super cool, particularly the Sonic statue featuring a Genesis-style base for him to stand on.
The follow-up to last year’s hottest retro gaming device, the NES Classic Edition, this plug-and-play console features 21 built-in games, including such classics as Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Expensive, hard-to-find role-playing games are part of the package as well, including EarthBound and Final Fantasy III.
No cartridges are necessary, and you even get a previously unreleased title, Star Fox 2, which was programmed during the 1990s, but never officially offered at the retail level. One caveat: you may have to go to several stores to find a Super Nintendo Classic Edition as they are selling out about as fast as retailers can stock them.
Sunday, December 3, 2017
A few industry insiders have had an advance look at my forthcoming book, The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. (A-M). Here's what they've had to say, and down below you can check out just a few of the more than 2,000 images that will be in the book. You can pre-order the The SNES Omnibus Vol. 1 WITH FREE BONUSES by clicking HERE.
* “This book is not only a reference volume, but it keeps alive the spirit of Nintendo's legacy.” - Walter Day, industry icon and founder of Twin Galaxies.
* "I read the whole thing and loved it! My favorite chapters were the more intimate ones, where the contributing writers talked about how the games affected them from a personal standpoint...I kept turning the pages looking to connect with the writers, and it happened a lot...The quotes and factoids are great...Grammatically, it's spotless...There's a plethora of balance, knowledge, and fun here...This is the best book Weiss has written so far." – Patrick Hickey, Jr., author of The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews With Cult and Classic Video Game Developers
* “This book has a great collection of game-related stories that really take me back to the ’90s, when I had so much fun playing the heck out of the Super Nintendo.” - Steve Woita, game designer/programmer of Atari 2600 Taz, Garfield, Asterix and Quadrun.
* “Each one of Brett's books is painstakingly researched, very well written and extremely polished. This Super Nintendo book is no exception and should definitely find a place in the library of every retro-gaming enthusiast.” - Dr. Roberto Dillon, author of The Golden Age of Video Games and Ready: A Commodore 64 Retrospective.
* “Brett Weiss has captured an essential part of what made the SNES indelible and one of the classic video game systems. The personal stories and memories wrapped up in each game are a welcome time warp back to those halcyon days." - Tim Lapetino, author of Art of Atari.
* “Brett Weiss proves again that he is the master of game directories” - Leonard Herman, author of Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry.
* “Weiss puts a heartwarming and personal spin on all that is still great with the Super Nintendo.” - Michael Thomasson, author of Downright Bizarre Games: Video Games that Crossed the Line!
Friday, November 24, 2017
In this new episode of The ColecoVisions Podcast, Willie Culver, John "Gamestar81" Lester and I discuss ColecoVision controllers. Plus, we catch up on what we've been up to lately, such as the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. You can listen HERE.
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
The big budget, highly anticipated “Justice League” film has finally arrived.
Following in the wake of the apparent death of the Man of Steel in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016), “Justice League” finds Batman and his new ally Wonder Woman facing a sinister threat: Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons, who are searching Earth for a trio of ultra-powerful Mother Boxes.
To deal with the fiendish, otherworldly foes, the iconic duo forms a new super team, recruiting The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Thus, the Justice League is born.
To prepare for the movie (or if you want to see it again), which is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (after “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad” and “Wonder Woman,”), check out my primer on the movie’s primary heroes:
Alter Ego: Bruce Wayne
First Appearance: Detective Comics #27 (1939)
Played in the movie by Ben Affleck
When it was announced in 2013 that Ben Affleck would play Batman in the then-untitled Batman/Superman movie (2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), the internet couldn’t handle it, and the haters starting hating, despite Affleck being a perfectly reasonable choice, with his square jaw, tall stature, solid acting abilities, and classic good looks. Although it wasn’t as controversial as casting Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight Detective in 1989’s “Batman” (and 1992’s “Batman Returns”), social media wasn’t a thing during the 1980s, so the Affleck flack was more immediate.
Batman is the leader of the Justice League in the movie, a role he has taken on in certain modern comic book incarnations of the super group. With his “wonderful toys” and largely serious demeanor, he’s a good, classic, manly take on the character, but without Affleck resorting to the growling and grumbling of Christian Bale’s somewhat depressing (if still effective) portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy.
Alter Ego: Diana Prince
First Appearance: All Star Comics #8 (1941)
Played in the movie by Gal Gadot
Wonder Woman was the brainchild of Dr. William Moulton Marston (writing as Charles Moulton), a psychologist known for creating a systolic blood pressure measuring device that would play a significant role in the development of the polygraph machine. Unlike most intellectuals of the era, Marston embraced the comic book medium, and his creation became a feminist icon, as evidenced by her cover appearance on the cover of Gloria Steinem’s “Ms.” magazine #1 (1971). .
Sadly, it took more than 75 years for the Amazon Princess to get her own live feature film—this past summer’s “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot. The Israeli actress and model absolutely nailed the part, making the wait worthwhile. Gadot Wonder Woman, who tantalized audiences with a supporting role in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” doesn’t appear to be able to fly like the comic book character (giving her something in common with Lynda Carter from the 1970s TV show), but neither does she pilot in an invisible jet. She’s super strong and beautiful, though, and wields a mean sword, shield and magic lasso, a.k.a. the Lasso of Truth. In short, she’s wonderful.
Alter Ego: Barry Allen
First Appearance: Showcase #4 (1956)
Played in the movie by Ezra Miller
The creation of the Barry Allen version of The Flash kick-started the Silver Age of comic books (Jay Garrick was the original Golden Age Flash, debuting in 1940). The Scarlet Speedster of 1956 and decades after was a blond-haired, blue-eyed, supernaturally fast, near-perfect hero whose only fault was, ironically enough, running late. Like many superheroes, he has a convoluted history. He died, was replaced, came back, etc. He was approximately the same age as Superman and Batman.
In the “Justice League” movie, Barry is more like the Wally West Flash from the “Justice League” cartoon of the early 2000s. He’s young, impressionable and hyper, providing comic relief in contrast with the other, more stoic heroes of the group. The dark-haired Ezra Miller is a curious choice for the role, and many fans have complained that Grant Gustin, who plays Barry/Flash on the current Flash TV series, wasn’t brought onboard to play the character. Regardless, Miller Flash remains the fastest man alive, but, like most incarnations of the hero, he’s slower than the Silver Age version.
Alter Ego: Arthur Curry
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (1941)
Played in the movie by Jason Momoa
Poor Aquaman. Even though he’s been dubbed King of the Seven Seas, and even though he’s extremely powerful (super strength, super swimming speed, the ability to breathe under water and communicate with sea life), he’s been the butt of jokes for decades, from people making fun of his orange and green costume to his oceanic powers being deemed largely useless on “Family Guy” to Raj on “The Big Bang Theory” saying he doesn’t want to be Aquaman for Halloween because “He sucks.”
In the “Justice League” movie, Aquaman, a.k.a. Arthur Curry, has yet to become king (he’s heir to the throne of Atlantis), but he’s leagues above the campy character many of us old timers remember from the classic cartoon, “The Super Friends,” and he’s even more imposing than some of his more impressive comic book incarnations. Covered in tattoos and muscles, clad in a regal, but tough looking battle suit and wielding a long trident, Momoa’s Aquaman is no fish out of water.
Alter Ego: Victor Stone
First Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (1980)
Played in the movie by Ray Fisher
Although he’s appeared in various live action and animated shows, including “Green Arrow,” “Teen Titans,” “Smallville,” and “The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians,” Cyborg is easily the least famous of the six featured superheroes in the “Justice League” movie. The character was created as a member of the Teen Titans, but was made a founding member of the Justice League during a pair of modern DC Comics reboots (2011’s “The New 52” and 2016’s “DC Rebirth”).
Fisher Cyborg appears fairly faithful to his comic book counterpart, wearing a hoodie to obscure his half-man, half-machine appearance and using his bionic powers to fly, manipulate technology, perform feats of super strength and turn his arms into cannons. Cyborg looks smashing in action, despite his relative obscurity. Some argue that Cyborg was only included in the film strictly for racial diversity, but the John Stewart version of Green Lantern, a more well-known character, could have filled that role.
Alter Ego: Clark Kent
First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (1938)
Played in the movie by Henry Cavill
Ah, Superman. The Man of Steel. The Man of Tomorrow. The Last Son of Krypton. The Metropolis Marvel. Whatever you call him, Superman is the prototypical superhero, fighting for truth, justice and the American way. He’s super strong and nigh-invulnerable (among many other powers), and he’s as willing to rescue a cat from a tree as he is to die saving the world from doom (and Doomsday). He died (sort of) in the comics in 1992, sparking a media frenzy, and he apparently died in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
However, as Bruce Wayne says in the “Justice League” movie, “The world needs Superman,” so he does return. Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Superman, which debuted in 2013’s “Man of Steel” (the first installment in DC’s shared movie universe), is darker and more conflicted than most versions of the character, but he certainly looks the part and does a more than serviceable job. For longtime fans, no one will ever replace Christopher Reeve as the definitive live action Superman, a sentiment Cavill himself would probably understand.
Friday, November 10, 2017
There's a great new publication called Old School Gamer Magazine, featuring an all-star cast of writers, including Leonard Herman, Michael Thomasson, Walter Day, and yours truly, plus art by Thor Thorvaldson. Features in #1 include the National Videogame Museum, Classic Game Fest, Galloping Ghost Arcade, Qix, Q*bert, arcade gaming in the 1970s, text adventures, an interview with Ed Averett (K.C Munchkin!). and more. You can read the first issue for FREE by clicking HERE.
(click on the images below for a closer look at my column in the mag)
My Nintendo Switch wouldn't go online, so I called customer service, and they changed a setting on my computer, and now it works. They were very friendly and fast in helping me. I had to be online because I have a code for Super Mario Odyssey instead of a physical copy.
Unsurprisingly, the game looks and sounds great. There are plenty of cool new moves and characters to control/inhabit, including a dinosaur and a frog (not the frog suit from Super Mario Bros. 3). The much-lauded cap maneuvers work great (the variety of uses shows typical Nintendo inventiveness), and the 2D scenes are a nice blast from the past. The game is a little on the easy side, though, at least so far, but I’m having a blast.