Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Planet Cool Stuff - My Full Segment on Rob McCallum's New TV Show!


I recently had the incredible opportunity to appear on Rob McCallum's TV series, Planet Cool Stuff. The show features the lives of pop culture collectors and enthusiasts, highlighting their passions and the fascinating stories behind their collections. I’m excited to share that I’m featured in Season 1, Episode 2, where I discuss my long-standing interest in video games, my writing career, and some of the books I've authored.

In the episode, I delve into how my love for video games began and how it has influenced my professional journey. From playing classic arcade games beginning in 1975 to collecting since 1982 (late ’70s if you count handheld electronic games), video games have long been a significant part of my life. This passion, combined with my enjoyment of reading, naturally transitioned into writing about video games, allowing me to combine my love for gaming with my talent for storytelling and research.

During the show, I talk about my Classic Home Video Games series, which offers comprehensive guides to video game consoles and their games from the 1970s through the 1990s. These books are a labor of love, meticulously documenting every US release for each console. I also discuss my other works, such as The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987 and The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment Systemand Its Games, Volume 1 (A–L), featuring a foreword by The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg. I’m very proud of these full-color hardcover books, which I hope are as fun to read as they were research and write.

I also discuss my enjoyment of doing video game conventions, where I sell and autograph books and pose for photos with fans. For those interested in seeing my segment on Planet Cool Stuff, I’ve uploaded the entire segment to my YouTube channel, with Rob’s permission. For those not in the know, Rob also directed Nintendo Quest, and I will be in his next movie, Nintendo 64 Quest.

Being a part of Planet Cool Stuff was an amazing experience. It’s wonderful to see a show that celebrates the geeky hobbies and passions that people have. Whether you’re a video game enthusiast, action figure collector, comic book reader, cartoon buff, Universal Monsters fan, or just curious about different collections, I highly recommend checking out the series. Rob McCallum does a fantastic job of showcasing the stories and dedication behind these fascinating pursuits, making it a must-watch for anyone interested in the world of popular culture.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I enjoyed being a part of it. Keep gaming, and keep exploring your passions!


And, as always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Hollywood Zap - Video Game Movie Review - Troma Entertainment

Hollywood Zap (1986)

Movie Review

Distributed by Troma Entertainment, the company co-founded by Lloyd Kaufman, Hollywood Zap is a peculiar piece of cinema that encapsulates the weird, random, raunchy, and crude humor that Troma is known for. Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker David Cohen, this film ventures into the bizarre with a reckless abandon that is both its strength and its weakness, more the latter for sure.

The movie revolves around two main characters: Zaxxon video game expert Nash, played by Ben Frank, and ineffectual protagonist Tucker “Downer” Downs, portrayed by Ivan E. Roth, who is on a quest to find his father (who turns out to be…oops, no spoilers!). Their journey is anything but conventional, laced with oddball characters and surreal scenarios that defy logic and taste. The plot, if one can call it that, meanders through a series of vignettes that seem stitched together by nothing more than a shared sense of absurdity, which isn’t surprising given the Troma name.

The narrative kicks off with Downs setting out to find his estranged father. His journey leads him to cross paths with Nash, a master of the arcade game Zaxxon, a fun isometric shooter that was graphically amazing for its time (it blew me away when I discovered it at The Land of Oz arcade in the local mall back in 1982). The duo's adventures are filled with eccentric encounters, including a memorable appearance by Chuck Mitchell, famous for his role in Porky's, as a shady lawyer. Mitchell's performance is one of the film's highlights, delivering his lines with a blend of sleaze and comedic timing that perfectly fits the film's off-kilter tone.

David Cohen's direction and writing are unapologetically unrefined. The humor is often gross and crude, pushing boundaries in ways that are both absurd and occasionally funny. Scenes are strung together with little concern for continuity or coherence, giving the film a dreamlike, or perhaps nightmarish, quality. It's a film that revels in its own low-budget aesthetic, with cheap sets, wonky editing, and rudimentary special effects that only add to its peculiar appeal for Z-grade movie fans.

Despite its many flaws, Hollywood Zap has moments of genuine humor. There are scenes so absurd that they transcend bad taste and become oddly endearing, such as the little dance the Zaxxon hustler does just prior to playing the game. The film’s randomness keeps viewers on their toes, never quite knowing what bizarre twist will come next. This unpredictability can be as exhausting as it is entertaining.

The performances range from bizarrely compelling to outright bad. Ben Frank's portrayal of the Zaxxon expert is oddly charismatic, while Ivan E. Roth's protagonist is goofy and weak, embodying the awkward everyman lost in the chaos of a nonsensical world. The supporting cast, including a host of characters that defy easy description, adds to the film's eclectic and erratic energy. And, of course, it’s cool to see a vintage arcade with games like Baby Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, and Moon Patrol. At one point, Nash even mentions Walter Day’s legendary arcade, Twin Galaxies, implying he aspires to go there to break the Zaxxon world record—such a great time capsule!

Released on VHS but never on laser disc, DVD, or Blu-ray, Hollywood Zap has achieved a kind of cult status among fans of obscure and unconventional cinema, and among gamers, at least for those who have heard of the movie—it’s one of the most obscure video game-related films ever released. For those curious to experience this oddity, it is available for rent on Amazon Prime for just $2.

After years of knowing of its existence (in addition to loving video games, I’m something of a film buff), this was my first time watching the movie, and having long wanted to see it, I found it at once perplexing, disappointing, and strangely satisfying. In other words, it was a hot mess, but I kept watching as though it were a train wreck, and I couldn’t look away. Essentially, it makes Joysticks, the 1983 B-movie directed by Greydon Clark, seem like Casablanca in comparison, but the video game angle and sheer weirdness kept me interested and even entertained to some degree.

Hollywood Zap will appeal to a very specific audience—those who appreciate the outré, the gross, and the random. It fits right in with Troma Entertainment's legacy of pushing cinematic boundaries and embracing the bizarre. If you're in the mood for something entirely out of the ordinary, have a taste for the crude and the cheap, and love classic arcade culture, Hollywood Zap might just be worth a watch.

 

Monday, June 3, 2024

YouTube Channel Subscriber Milestone for Brett Weiss - 5000 Subs!


Hello, fellow retro gamers!

I’m thrilled to announce that my YouTube channel my YouTube channel, simply called Brett Weiss, has reached the milestone of 5,000 subscribers! When I started this journey, I had every intention of building such an amazing community of passionate gamers who love the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s as much as I do, even though naysayers said my channel would never grow. Your support and enthusiasm mean the world to me, and I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you.

It’s been a blast sharing stories and reliving the golden eras of gaming with you, from arcade gaming on the cheap to the first console I owned, the ColecoVision, to the first time I played Super Mario Bros., we’ve covered a lot of ground together. Each video, each story, and each game we discuss is evidence of the impact these classics have had on our lives.

Your comments, likes, and shares have not only supported the channel but have also created a vibrant community where we can all reminisce and celebrate the games that defined our childhoods. I’ve enjoyed reading your memories and hearing about your favorite games, and it’s been fantastic to connect with so many like-minded people who share a love for retro gaming.

As we celebrate this milestone, I’m excited to share that there are many more stories to come. We’ll continue cover video game history, exploring lesser-known titles, and highlighting the cultural impact of our favorite classics. I have some special content planned, including more Mount Rushmore videos, where I’ve been showcasing the four most iconic games for each console. These videos will be a fun way to celebrate the games that are famous, great, and emblematic of each system.

I also want to mention how much I enjoy meeting many of you in person at retro gaming conventions, such as Corgs this past weekend. These events are a highlight for me, offering a chance to connect, share stories, and immerse ourselves in the nostalgia of our favorite games. If you see me at a convention, please don’t hesitate to say hello, even if you aren’t in the market for a retro gaming book—let’s talk games and anything else pop culture!

To all 5,000 of you, and everyone else reading this, thank you for being a part of this journey. Your support is the gamer fuel that drives this channel, even more than caffeine, and I’m grateful for each one of you. Here’s to many more stories, many more games, and many more memories together. Please share the channel, and let’s get to 10,000 subs sooner rather than later!

Stay tuned, keep gaming, and, as always, keep it retro!

Oh, and thanks for reading. 😊

Best,

Brett Weiss

Friday, May 24, 2024

Atari Acquires Rights to Intellivision Games: A Nostalgic Revival

In a significant move for retro gaming enthusiasts, Atari has recently acquired the rights to a large selection of Intellivision games, marking a reunion of two iconic names from the golden age of video gaming. This acquisition promises to bring a wave of nostalgia to long-time gamers and introduce a new generation to classic titles that helped shape the video game industry.

Intellivision, originally launched by Mattel Electronics in 1979, was one of the earliest home video game consoles and a formidable competitor to Atari during the early 1980s. Known for its innovative hardware, distinctive controller design, and a library of games that pushed the boundaries of what was possible at the time, Intellivision quickly carved out a niche in the burgeoning video game market. Its games, such as Astrosmash, Night Stalker, and Major League Baseball, became beloved titles for many.

Atari, a name synonymous with the early days of home gaming, has been a significant player in the industry since the release of its first console in 1977, the Atari VCS (later renamed the Atari 2600). The company's rich history and enduring legacy make it a natural custodian for the Intellivision game library. By acquiring these rights, Atari aims to preserve and rejuvenate these classic titles, ensuring their continued relevance for today’s gamers.

Fred Chesnais, CEO of Atari, expressed his enthusiasm about the acquisition. “Bringing Intellivision's library into the Atari family is not just about preserving these games but also about celebrating the rich history of our industry,” he said. “We are excited to introduce these classics to new audiences and offer a touch of nostalgia to long-time fans.”

The plan for these Intellivision titles includes re-releasing them on modern platforms, making them accessible to a broader audience. This move is expected to involve not only straightforward ports but also enhanced versions with updated graphics, sound, and additional features to meet contemporary gaming standards.

Furthermore, Atari's acquisition is seen as a strategic move to bolster its catalog of retro titles, positioning the company as a leader in the retro gaming market. As gaming technology continues to evolve, and as nostalgia remains a burgeoning market, there is a growing appetite for classic games that offer simpler, yet profoundly enjoyable experiences.

As a fan of both Atari and Intellivision, I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Double-Edged Sword of Video Gaming: A Balanced Perspective


Playing video games captures the imagination, interest, and money of millions and millions of people worldwide, presenting a form of entertainment that blends interactive storytelling with visual artistry. On one hand, video games offer substantial benefits, enhancing cognitive skills, providing community, and serving as a stress reliever. On the other, they pose certain risks, potentially leading to unhealthy habits if not approached thoughtfully.

Exploring the Benefits

Video games are designed to entertain, offering players worlds rich with challenges and storytelling that can truly be rewarding. The fun derived from these games is palpable, as they provide a break from the routine of daily life. For many, games are a primary source of relaxation and a temporary escape from the stresses of the real world, effectively serving as a tool for stress relief. They can also give you a confidence boost if you are good at them.

The sense of community in gaming is also significant. Many gamers find not just camaraderie but also a sense of belonging and connection through online platforms. These communities often extend beyond virtual spaces into real-life gatherings at conventions and events, celebrating the culture and advancements of the gaming world. These social gatherings highlight the cultural impact of gaming, with events like E3 (may it rest in peace) and PAX pulling in huge crowds and fostering a shared enthusiasm for new releases and technological advancements. Retro cons like PRGE, Classic Game Fest, Game On Expo, The Midwest Gaming Classic, Corgs, and too many others to mentions are some of my favorite events each year.

Moreover, the educational potential of video games can't be overlooked. Strategic games encourage critical thinking and problem-solving, while other games have educational content embedded in their design, teaching everything from history to physics to money management in a fun and interactive manner. True story: I learned to type during the 1990s by playing Mario Teaches Typing on my Mac.

Acknowledging the Hazards

However, alongside these benefits are potential hazards. The immersive nature of video games can lead to extended periods of physical inactivity, often exacerbating unhealthy lifestyles. Long hours spent gaming can contribute to a sedentary existence, which is associated with increased risks of various health issues, including obesity and cardiovascular disease.

The structure of many games also encourages lengthy sessions of play, which can interfere with normal eating habits. Snacking and on-the-go meals become commonplace, often replacing nutritious meals, which can lead to poor dietary habits. I love my fellow gamers, but even many of them will acknowledge that they would benefit from more exercise and less junk food and soda (god knows I could certainly cut down on sweets).

Moreover, the addictive qualities of video games can be concerning. The rewarding feedback loops and the continuous challenges that encourage just "one more game" can lead to excessive gaming. This prolonged engagement can interfere with daily responsibilities, sleep, and even social relationships, leading to isolation and sometimes exacerbating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Finding a Healthy Balance

The key to a healthy gaming lifestyle is not necessarily moderation but making sure you are taking care of yourself and those you love. Setting and adhering to limits regarding how much time is spent gaming each day compared to other stuff can help mitigate the risk of addiction and the encroachment of gaming on essential activities and relationships. Integrating physical activity and social interactions into daily routines can help balance the sedentary nature of gaming.

Encouraging healthy gaming environments also involves parents and caregivers being actively involved in the gaming habits of younger individuals, promoting a balanced lifestyle that values physical activity and social interaction as much as virtual achievements. In short, regardless of your age, use that pause button to take walks, shoot some hoops, go visit friends, and even do some volunteer work.

Conclusion

Video gaming is a multifaceted activity with the potential to both enrich and complicate lives. Understanding both the benefits and risks associated with gaming is crucial. By actively promoting and practicing balanced gaming habits, individuals can enjoy the vast positive aspects of these virtual experiences while avoiding their pitfalls. This approach ensures that gaming remains a positive addition to life, providing entertainment, education, and community without adverse effects.

I certainly love gaming and do plenty of it, but I try to incorporate it as a part of a well-rounded lifestyle, not something that takes over my life. I did a recent video addressing this topic. You can watch it by clicking HERE.

Best of luck and happy gaming!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

New YouTube Series from Brett Weiss - Mount Rushmore of Video Games & Consoles

Discover the Mount Rushmore of Video Games for Classic Consoles!

Hey gamers, have you ever wondered which games truly define each video game console? Well, you’re in luck! I've began a YouTube series where I unveil the "Mount Rushmore of Video Games" for various legendary gaming consoles. Each video dives into the top four most iconic games that have left an indelible mark on their respective systems. Whether you're a retro enthusiast or a curious newcomer, this series is your ticket to nostalgia!

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Years ago, before I had the idea to film a series, I did a Mount Rushmore of games for the mighty Super Nintendo. In the video, I explore four games that not only define the SNES but also helped shape gaming in general. From the platforming excellence of Super Mario World, the primary pack-in title, to the brilliance of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which was even better than the original Zelda, these picks are sure to spark debate and fond memories. Check out the short video to see which other two games made it on the list!

Nintendo 64 (N64)

To kick off the actual series, I tackled the Nintendo 64, a console that revolutionized 3D gaming. My Mount Rushmore for the N64 features titles that brought friends together and turned gaming into a shared adventure more than ever before, or at least since the heyday of the Atari 2600 and Intellivision. Remember the countless hours spent on Super Mario 64 or the intense multiplayer battles in GoldenEye 007? Relive these moments and find out the other two games that complete the N64’s Mount Rushmore by watching the video.


PlayStation (PS1)

The original PlayStation changed the game with its groundbreaking graphics and expansive game library. In this video, I delve into the four games that are quintessential to the PS1 experience. From the revolutionary Final Fantasy VII to the heart-racing action of Metal Gear Solid, these selections highlight the innovation and sheer mass appeal of the PlayStation. Check out the video to see which other games are immortalized on this virtual monument. Plus, I just had to include an honorable mention.

Why Watch the Series?

Each video in the series more than just a rundown of great games; they’re a celebration of gaming culture and the impact these consoles and their games have had on both the industry and players across the world. I blend fun facts, personal anecdotes, and a deep dive into what makes each game worthy of its Mount Rushmore status.

Join the Conversation

After watching, don’t forget to hit the like button, subscribe, and ring that notification bell to never miss an episode. Plus, jump into the comments section to share your thoughts. Do you agree with my choices? What games would you put on your personal Mount Rushmore for these consoles? Let’s get the conversation going!

What’s Next?

The journey doesn’t stop here! Stay tuned as we continue to explore more consoles in upcoming videos, including the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, and Sega Saturn. Which console should we tackle next? Drop your suggestions in the comments, and your favorite just might be the next feature!

Get ready for a blast from the past and celebrate the legends of gaming. Watch the series, share with friends, and let the nostalgia take over. Here's to the games that made us and to the adventures yet to come! See you in the next video! 🎮🕹️👾


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998 Writer Spotlight - Brian "Civicminded" Lesyk


A machine. That’s what comes to mind when I think of Brian “Civicminded” Lesyk. Other than me, he wrote the most essays for my most recent book, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1988-1998, and he turned them all in well before the deadline. He’s also collaborated with me on several long-form articles when I was simply too busy to write them on my own, doing most of the heavy lifting and always turning the work in ahead of time. Not only is he punctual and prolific, he writes clean copy, and his words reveal just how much he cares and knows about the subject of retro gaming.

Brian is a bundle of positive energy and a fantastic writer, and I’m super stoked that he’s started writing for Old School Gamer, a gig he definitely deserves. And I’m sure he’s super stoked as well--he's extremely enthusiastic about every writing project he takes on. Additionally, listeners can enjoy his insights on the Pass the Controller podcast. More importantly, he’s a staunch ally for various marginalized communities, as you can see if you follow him on social media. If more people mirrored Brian's dedication and inclusivity, the retro gaming community would be an even cooler space to inhabit. I’m proud to call him my friend, and I always look forward to running into him at the next convention. See you soon, Brian!