Wednesday, March 30, 2016

HoldSquare Video Game Podcast Episode 1

Here’s the inaugural episode of HoldSquare Video Game Podcast, where a couple of friends and I discuss such topics as Broforce and Tom Clancy's Division for the PlayStation 4, Bayonetta for the Wii U, The National Videogame Museum, and everyone's worst nightmare: balls getting stuck. Enjoy!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Super Bitcon April 2-3

Super Bitcon this Saturday and Sunday in Oklahoma City!

April 2nd from 12-12:45 PM, check out "Dispelling Vidiocracy: Mythbusting Through Gaming History," with Patrick Scott Patterson, Brett Weiss, and The Gaming Historian!

Only at Super Bitcon!

Moderated by Patrick Scott Patterson, this historical gaming perspective will explore some of the common myths and misconceptions woven throughout gaming lore. Was the Atari 2600 was the first programmable console? Can Mario really jump over the flagpole? Did Saddam Hussein stockpile PlayStation 2 consoles as part of some grand evil scheme? Find out the answers to questions like these and more in “Dispelling Vidiocracy: Mythbusting Through Gaming History!”

SUPER! BitCon 2016 will take place April 2nd-3rd, 2016 at the Oklahoma Expo Hall at Oklahoma State Fair Park. Like us on Facebook to stay up with the latest news! RSVP and let us know you’re coming!

Event address: 3213 Wichita Walk, Oklahoma City, OK 73107

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Preview of The National Videogame Museum!

New video!

If you want to drool over the Stadium Events cart or play the world's largest Pong machine, you'll have to visit the museum (which opens April 2), but here's a sneak peek at some of the things you'll find at the first dedicated facility of its type in the U.S.:

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Space Firebird -- A Lost Arcade Classic

During Spring Break, I had a chance to check out Free Play Arcade in Richardson (north of Dallas), which is about 45 minutes from my house. I was surprised to discover that they had a game called Space Firebird, which I had never played before, but had read about in Classic Gamer Magazine #4. It's a quirky "slide-and-shoot" game, and my son and I had a lot of fun playing it. I'm glad I finally had a chance to check it out.
Click on the images for a closer look--Kyle Snyder wrote a nice article on the "Lost Arcade Classic."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

YouTube Book Review: The Complete NES by Jeffrey Wittenhagen

Check out my new video, where I review Jeffrey Wittenhagen's recent book, The Complete NES.
And please subscribe to my YouTube channel--thanks!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring 2016 Video Game Guide

Spring, a busy time for the video game industry, doesn’t officially begin until March 20, but North Texas gamers already have much to be excited about.

Two events will vie for gamers’ hard-earned dollars: the Texas Pinball Festival, occurring in Frisco March 18-20, and All-Con, taking place in Dallas March 17-20. The latter has added a number of video game-related activities for this year, including a  tournament and an assortment of panels, including one on how to forge a career in gaming.

After many delays, the National Videogame Museum in Frisco has finally nailed down a grand opening date: April 2.

And, of course, there are many new video games coming out. These include such popular titles as  for the , Tom Clancy’s The Division for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and  for most every current console.

Here are nine more new and forthcoming titles that will keep gamers occupied at least until summer.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: Teen
Available Now

A new  game for the Wii U was supposed to release in 2015, but Nintendo has delayed it until later this year. To bide their time, fans of the beloved franchise, in which an elfin, green-clad swordsman named Link solves puzzles and battles his way through labyrinthine dungeons, can play this remastered version of .

In addition to a visually spruced up overhaul of the original game, Twilight Princess HD adds Amiibo functionality and even includes a Wolf Link Amiibo. Not only does the Amiibo add features to  HD, it will add bonuses to the next Legend of Zelda game.

EA Sports UFC 2
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher: Electronic Arts
ESRB Rating: Teen
Release Date: March 15
Step back into the Octagon with EA Sports UFC 2, a virtual version of Ultimate Fighting Championship, the popular and violent mixed martial arts competition. From the comfort of your couch, you can punch, kick, jab, elbow and otherwise pummel your pal or the computer-controlled player into submission.

The game has a variety of upgrades over EA Sports UFC 2, including more realistic graphics, a Knockout Mode (with onscreen hints, quick pacing and an adjustable health meter for each fighter) and a revamped Career Mode, which adds playable females, including fan favorite Ronda Rousey, who’s pictured on the cover with Conor McGregor.

Quantum Break
Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+
Release Date: April 5

Promising a “holistic entertainment experience” that “blurs the lines between television and gaming,” Quantum Break casts players as Jack Joyce, who, thanks to a faulty time travel experiment, has gained time manipulation powers enabling him to stop time, speed up time, unleash time blast projectiles and use a time shield to deflect bullets. More traditionally, Jack can solve environmental puzzles and do some 3D platforming, the latter complicated by objects that get caught in a time loop and become hazards. The objective is to stop an evil corporation from destroying time itself.

After you work your way through each level, an episode of a live action-style TV show will play (featuring Shawn Ashmore, Aidan Gillen and Courtney Hope), augmenting the game’s storyline.

Dark Souls III
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+
Release Date: April 12
Winner of “Best Role Playing Game” at the massive Gamescom 2015 video game convention in Germany, Dark Souls III is similar to its progenitors, offering ample action to go with the RPG goodness. Equipped with armor, shields, bows, arrows, firebombs, swords, magic and other weaponry, you’ll battle an assortment of enemies, including monsters, undead soldiers and tricky bosses that change tactics mid-fight.

Bonfires return as checkpoints, but now there are also small gravestones that light up, acting as torches and supplementing the storyline. Player movement is quicker and attacks are stronger than in previous games in the series, and the levels are larger and more interconnected, encouraging gamers to explore the darkly beautiful environments.

Ratchet & Clank
PlayStation 4
Publisher: Sony
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date: April 12

Released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002, the original  kicked off a popular series that includes such titles as Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (2007) and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (2011) for the PlayStation 3. The PS4 Ratchet & Clank, which has a movie tie-in releasing April 29, is a reimagining of that debut game, enhanced with a fresh control system, better graphics and sounds, new boss battles, new flight sequences, new planets to explore and several new weapons, including the Pixelizer, which turns enemies into 8-bit pixels.

To save Solana Galaxy from the evil Chairman Drek, Ratchet the robot, aided by Clank, must navigate sci-fi worlds, collect bolts, and fire bullets, grenades, flames and other weapons at an assortment of enemies.

Star Fox Zero
Wii U
Publisher: Nintendo
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Release Date: April 22
The popular “Star Fox” space shooter series, which began on the Super Nintendo in 1993, gets a new adventure with StarFox Zero. The highly anticipated game, which was supposed to release last year, features the return of Fox, Falco, Peppy and Slippy, who are anthropomorphic animal pilots of an assortment of airborne and ground-based vehicles, including the Arwing (which features a new Walker transformation), the Landmaster Tank and a new Gyrowing plane.

As legendary star pilot Fox McCloud, you’ll fly through the air, lock onto enemies and blast them out of the sky (with the help of Team Star Fox, who you should protect), using both the GamePad (cockpit view) and the TV screen (cinematic view of the full battlefield) to monitor the action.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
PlayStation 4
Publisher: Sony
ESRB Rating: Teen
Release Date: May 10
Taking place several years after Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Uncharted 4 brings fortune hunter Nathan “Nate” Drake out of retirement for one final adventure. Nate’s older brother Sam, who was thought to be dead, comes asking for help, and the two embark on a global quest in search of conspiracies surrounding a lost pirate colony and treasure.

According to , demos of Uncharted 4 offer much promise, including “stellar visuals, harrowing traversal and shooting gameplay, pithy dialogue and a robust new multiplayer mode.”

PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher: Bethesda Software
ESRB Rating: Mature 17+
Release Date: May 13

The series that popularized the first-person shooter genre returns with Doom, which was originally going to be titled “Doom 4.” The game employs a new “push forward” combat system that emphasizes players completing the fiendishly devised levels quickly, dishing out tons of mayhem along the way. Instead of automatic health regeneration, you must kill enemies in order to heal, meaning you’ll want to confront big bad monsters even when you’re heavily damaged. The ability for players to sprint and double-jump makes the game speedy as well.

Richardson-based developer iD Software promises new enemies and a variety of new weapons in the game, in addition to such fan-favorites as the chainsaw, super-shotgun and plasma rifle. Multi-player action will be represented by such modes as clan arena, freeze tag and classic four-player death-match.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Publisher: Electronic Arts
ESRB Rating: Teen
Release Date: May 24

The prequel to 2008’s Mirror’s EdgeMirror's Edge Catalyst focuses on the origin of Faith Connors, who runs, jumps, climbs, zip-lines and uses urban exploration and parkour movements to traverse the beautiful, but oppressive city of Glass, which is lorded over by totalitarian corporations. The game dispenses with the levels and linear action of the original in favor of an open-world, free-roaming environment, which gives players more freedom of movement and multiple paths to complete objectives.

An agile, spritely protagonist, Faith engages in melee-style battles to evade or defeat enemies. The action is viewed from a first-person perspective, but switches to third-person during finishing moves. Faith must also complete time trials, run races and solve environmental puzzles.

The Westin Dallas Park Central
12720 Merit Dr.
Dallas, 75251
March 17-20
Free on Thursday (registration required); $55 weekend pass; $35 Friday ($20 children ages 5-12); $35 Saturday ($20 child); $20 Sunday ($10 child)
(817) 819-1353

Texas Pinball Festival
Embassy Suites
7600 John Q Hammons Dr.
Frisco, 75034
March 18-20
$60 weekend pass ($35 children ages 5-12); $25 Friday ($15 child); $35 Saturday ($25 child); $20 Sunday ($10 child)

National Videogame Museum
Frisco Discovery Center
8004 N. Dallas Pkwy.
Frisco, 75034.
Grand Opening: April 2
$12; arcade games cost 25 cents per play.
(972) 668-8400

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mario Puzo -- The Godfather Auction brings in $625,000

BOSTON, MA—At the  and Literary Rarities sale held Feb. 18 at RR Auction, an anonymous bidder from the U.S. made the auction house an offer it couldn’t refuse. He or she bid $625,000 on a treasure trove of items from the estate of the Italian American man who wrote The Godfather and co-wrote (with director Francis Ford Coppola) the movie trilogy that the novel inspired.

Born Oct. 15, 1920, Puzo passed away July 2, 1999, leaving behind a body of work that included  (1955), his first novel, The Fortunate Pilgrim (1965), which he called his “best and most literary book,”  (1969), the Mafia novel that made him famous, and  (1996), which was adapted for a 1997 TV miniseries.

Puzo, who served in the military during  before attending the New School for Social Research and Columbia University, also co-wrote screenplays for such films as Earthquake (1974),  (1978), Superman II (1980), and  (1992).

In addition to a prolific writing career, Puzo was also something of a packrat, which, as collectors and antique aficionados know, is not necessarily a bad thing. He left behind 45 banker’s boxes of archival materials spanning a half century of his work, including thousands of pages, drafts, storyboards, notes, and varying versions of both  novel manuscript and movie screenplay, along with the 1965  he probably used to write the book.

With such a wealth of material from such an iconic author, the winning bid of $625,000 seems like something of a bargain. However, the auction house, which was hoping for at least $400,000, was definitely pleased.

“It is a rare glimpse into the mind of the author of two of the most iconic films of the 20th century,” said Executive VP at RR Auction Robert Livingston, referring to The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. “The archive covers his entire literary career and provides extraordinary insight into his artistry. We are honored to have been selected by Puzo’s estate and couldn’t be more thrilled with the results of the sale.”

The  and Literary Rarities auction had a number of other noteworthy sales as well, including: a signed 4 x 6 photo of Ernest Hemingway posing next to a huge marlin (circa 1950s), $10,803.28; a letter from Hemingway to New York Times literary critic Charles Poore (1953), $9,551.33; a signed copy (later printing) of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Wind, Sand and Stars (1939), $8,997.63; a signed first edition of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Ballads and Sonnets (1881), $8,179.33; a letter from Marcel Proust to his lover, composer Reynaldo Hahn (1907), $6,144.60; a signed 5 x 7 photo of Leo Tolstoy (1909), $5,519.85; a signed copy (later printing) of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (1920), $5,519.85; a signed 10.75 x 13.75 portrait of Ayn Rand (1948), $4,788.53; a letter from T. E. Lawrence to J. B. Acres (1926), $4,446.75; and a signed first edition, first printing of Margaret Mitchell’s  (1936), $4,145.40.

In addition, books and other autographed items by the likes of , Jules Verne, Thomas Wolfe, Victor Hugo, Beatrix Potter, Ezra Pound, , Rudyard Kipling, and Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) realized prices ranging from $250 to more than $2,600.