Sunday, June 29, 2008

Recently published in...

2600 Connection #94, where I write an opinion piece on The Ten Best Atari 2600 Games.

My list is as follows:

1. Jr. Pac-Man
2. Space Invaders
3. Kaboom!
4. Dodge 'Em
5. The Official Frogger
6. Ms. Pac-Man
7. Phoenix
8. Super Breakout
9. Combat
10. River Raid

The editor of the zine, Al Backiel, disagreed with my inclusion of Phoenix and Dodge 'Em in the list, and thought I should have included Adventure, Pitfall!, and Demon Attack (all three of which are indeed great games, and all three of which I put in the "honorable mentions" listing at the end of the article).

He also mentioned that I should have listed only one Pac-Man title, which is a good point. I probably should have cheated and put Jr. Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man as a single entry. Either way, these types of lists are fun and inevitably spark discussion and disagreement. If the list would have had room for an 11th title, I would have included Warlords, one of the most enjoyable four-player games ever made.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Classic Game Fest 2008!

My wife has mentioned more than once that she'd love to live in Austin, or at least be able to visit there more often. I'm not sure I'd want to live there (I still like me some Dallas/Fort Worth), but I certainly enjoy making the trip to the captial city. One of the many reasons is Game Over Videogames, which just issued the following press release:

Classic Game Fest '08!

Austin, TX – June 23: Game Over Videogames, Inc., an Austin-based corporation that specializes in the buying and selling of classic and used videogames, announced today that it is launching a new and unique summer festival designed to celebrate classic videogames. This new gaming festival, Classic Game Fest, will begin in Austin this summer on July 11th, and it will continue with new shows and events every other Friday night until August 22nd.

While Game Over Videogames currently has two Austin area locations, the events will all be staged at the Game Over Videogames store at the corner of Hwy 183 @ Lamar Blvd in north Austin, TX. Each night will include classic videogame tournaments on a large, 16 x 9 foot outdoor screen provided by the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. Best of all, these events are completely FREE and open to all videogame fans and players young and old, so bring the whole family for some late night fun. Come to watch, to compete for cool gaming prizes, and to enjoy the cooler nighttime temperatures this summer at Game Over Videogames.

The game tournaments will start at sundown (approximately 8:30pm) and run until 10:30pm. Following each game tournament will be a special screening of a videogame-related movie fitting the theme for the night. The movies will immediately follow the tournaments and run until around midnight. Specific movie titles are kept top secret until the night of the show; however, clues will be hidden in each night’s detailed description. See if you can guess the secret movies!

The show dates and events are listed below:

July 11 – “Shall We Play a Game? – Combat Tournament (Atari 2600)”

July 25 – “Tetris Wizard – Tetris Tournament (Nintendo NES)”

August 8 – “Street Fighter Night – Street Fighter II Tournament (Super Nintendo SNES)”

August 22 – “King of Kart – Mario Kart Tournament (Nintendo 64)”

The entire festival will be completely FREE of charge, and it will take place at the Game Over Videogames store at Hwy 183 @ Lamar Blvd in north Austin, TX. The store will be open during the festival for your late night shopping pleasure. Since this is a family friendly event, please take note of the following restrictions:

Items allowed: Folding lawn chairs, non-alcoholic drinks, picnic baskets, food, mad gaming skills

Items forbidden: No weapons, no drugs, no alcohol, no glass containers, no smoking (outside designated areas)

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Truth About Pac-Man

While going through some old humor mags the other day, my son found this Pac-Man strip in an early '80s issue of Cracked. We thought it was pretty darned amusing. Just click on the image to get a closer look at it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Recently published in...Comics Buyer's Guide #1644

Where I review the following comic books:

Batman Confidential #13-16
The Batman Strikes #41
Amazing Spider-Girl #16
Green Lantern #26-27
The Flash #238
Justice League of America #16

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Now Reading...Dead Space #1

Reprinted from CBG #1643, here is my review of the video game-related comic book, Dead Space #1.

Published by Image, Dead Space is a six-issue series that acts as a prequel to Electronic Arts’ survival horror video game of the same name, which will be released in the fall for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The first issue sets the dark, brutal stage as a deep space mining colony unexpectedly uncovers a huge, totemic artifact. Various members of the outpost claim that the mysterious object is a “marker” holding great significance to the fringe religion of Unitology.

The art is by Ben “30 Days of Night” Templesmith, whose nightmarish renderings make the outpost seem bleak and forlorn, even though it has a relatively large population, along with many of the luxuries of home, including a coffee bar, a Tai food restaurant, and a toy store. The character interaction is a little hard to follow at times (Templesmith is better at enhancing the mood than telling Antony Johnston’s nuts-and-bolts story), but the overall effect is one of mystery, desperation, and impending doom.

Although it lacks labeling, the gruesome cover practically screams “recommended for mature readers.”

2.5 (out of 4) stars.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alter Ego #78 Now Available

One of the pleasures of being a writer is working with certain individuals who I grew up idolizing. One such figure is Roy Thomas, the legendary scribe of such comic books as Savage Sword of Conan, The Avengers, and All-Star Squadron. Thomas was an important part of early fandom, publishing Alter Ego, an influential zine that is still alive today via a slicker, thicker, more professional incarnation. The new issue of Alter Ego is now available online and in finer comic book stores everywhere.

So, what does this have to do with me (other than the fact that I like comics and magazines about comics)? A few months ago, Roy and I worked out a deal. If I would agree to email him some cover scans to some early fanzines that are in my collection, he would run an ad for my book free of charge. Since this was a win-win situation (I had already scanned the zines for other purposes, so the process cost maybe 10 minutes of my time), I gladly agreed. Shortly thereafter, my lovely and talented wife designed the ad below, which appears in the aforementioned issue of Alter Ego.

I think she did a great job. I like the simplicity, the composition, and the economy of phrasing.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Video Game Trader #6 Now Available!

The new issue of Video Game Trader is now online. It's a professional looking mag with lots of coverage of classic games. You can read it for free here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Now shopping at...Lone Star Comics!

Recently, while working on an interview with Lone Star Comics owner Buddy Saunders, my former boss (and current boss, actually, if you consider my writing work for gave me the grand tour, driving me from his office on Abram Street to the newly relocated Central Arlington store.

Long gone are the dusty, musty mom-and-pop shops I grew up frequenting in the late 1970s and throughout the 80s. These days, better comic shops are spacious, clean, brightly light, family-friendly establishments, epitomized by Lone Star's eight comic, game, and gift stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Buddy was one of the first comic book retailers in North Texas (the original store opened in 1977) and remains one of the most powerful forces in the industry. He's also a heck of a nice guy.

For a brief history of Lone Star Comics, click here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Now reading PvP #38

Reprinted from CBG #1643, here is my review of the video game-related comic book, PvP #38, from Image Comics.

PvP #38 gives readers a handy “who’s who” listing of each character, three of whom are described in terms of their expertise at videogames. Player Versus Player Magazine is dubbed “a hive of nerds and geekery.” So it was a little disappointing (at least to this game geek) that the lead story had nary a videogame reference: not a blip, a bleep, or a Pong.

Aforementioned nitpick aside, there’s plenty to enjoy here, thanks to clean, consistent art, solid storytelling (in a sitcom kind of way), and some laughs. The PvP geeks are less than geeked over the prospect of a new tenant who makes their lives a little less convenient by being a stickler for the rules. This leads to a covert operation, partly involving jealousy over a ping pong table (okay, maybe there is a “pong” reference).

Conversely, the backup feature dishes out videogame vernacular in spades, even going overboard by using the slang word “pwnage,” which seems abrupt and unfunny (in an otherwise amusing yarn).

Written and drawn by Scott Kurtz and Derrick Fish, PvP is A-OK (and then some).

3 (out of 4) stars. $3.50 cover price.