Sunday, June 21, 2020

Kickstarter Update - The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 1 (A–L)

Hi, everyone! Most of my Kickstarter updates go to everyone who has backed the project, but I wanted to reach out to my blog readers this time around so my campaign can do as well as it possibly can. Plus, I thought you guys and gals might be interested!

We passed $15,000 some time ago with more than 160 backers--thanks for your support! I'm really hoping we can pass $20,000 so I can dedicate more of my time to writing books and less to various side hustles. I'd REALLY like to do more Omnibus books, a sequel to my 100 Greatest book, and updating of my KISS Encyclopedia, and more. If you'd like to share the Kickstarter on social media to help make this happen, I would greatly appreciate it! I have plenty of ideas for more books--I just need the time to write them!

Now for my question. The Kickstarter for The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 1 (A–L) has four days to go before the campaign ends. This was my first time to do Kickstarter, so it was definitely a learning process. I'd love your feedback. When it's time for me to Kickstart Volume 2 and other projects, what would you like to see different? What worked and what didn't work about this campaign? Feel free to share your opinions, both positive and negative. Constructive criticism is great for helping me improve, and I can always use a boost to keep doing what I do. If you haven’t seen my Kickstarter, you can check it out HERE.

Again, thank you so much for backing this project, subscribing to my YouTube channel (click HERE for 5 Secrets of The NES Omnibus), supporting me on Patreon, commenting on my Facebook posts, reading my books and just being awesome!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

I was on The Stone Age Gamer Podcast! -- Talking Kickstarter, The NES Omnibus, TikTok, and much more!

I had a blast on the Stone Age Gamer podcast the other night, talking Kickstarter, The NES Omnibus, content creation, TikTok, and a bunch of other stuff. The show is hosted by Kris Randazzo and Danny Ryan, both of whom contributed stories to my NES and SNES Omnibus books. Below is a sneak peek at a story by Kris that will appear in The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Volume 1 (A–L), which is now available for pre-order on Kickstarter. You can listen to the podcast by clicking HERE.

Insider Insight: Blaser Master is one of the best games I’ve ever played. Not just because it’s super fun, or it’s still one of the best-looking games on the system, or even because of its truly amazing soundtrack. What makes it personally amazing was how it introduced me to the concept of being rewarded for curiosity, and paying attention to details. At the start of the game, there’s a ledge you can’t get to. It’s completely unassuming, and I honestly figured it was just there for decoration. But having read the instruction manual, I knew that at some point I was going to get the hover ability and when I did, I was going to go back to that first screen in the game and see what was on top of that ledge. I expected it to be nothing, but I wanted to see that “nothing” for myself. It took me a long time to finally defeat the Area 3 boss and get the hover ability, but as planned, the first thing I did wasn’t search for Area 4, it was head straight back to the beginning of the game. To my sheer bewilderment there WAS something up there! It was more hover fuel and a robot. And another ledge. And another. And a door. And that door lead to the entrance to Area 4! To this day, it’s one of my fondest video game memories, and a fantastic example of excellent game design. A true classic through and through. - Kris Randazzo, host of the Stone Age Gamer Podcast, content supervisor for Geekade

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

I Was on a WarGames Podcast! Shall We Play a Game?

Below is the late, great Roger Ebert’s review of WarGames, one of the best movies of the 1980s. I posed it because I recently was on a podcast called Staff Picks, talking about the film. It was a blast to revisit and discuss the movie, and the host, Mario Lanza, did a great job. You can listen to it HERE.

I am writing this review on a word processor that is connected to a computer that sets the type for the Sun-Times. If I make an error, the computer will tell me. Observe. I instruct it to set this review at a width of 90 characters. It flashes back: Margin too wide. Now things get interesting. I ask it to set the width at 100 characters. It flashes back: Margin too narrow. That's because it's reading only the first two digits of my three-digit number. It thinks I said 10, because 100, of course, is ridiculous.

Computers only do what they are programmed to do, and they will follow their programs to illogical conclusions. Example. This time I tell the computer to set my review at a width of 10 characters. It does! Having read 100 as 10 and found 10 too narrow, it reads 10 as 10, and lets me have my way. I've outsmarted the S.O.B.

Sooner or later, one of these self-satisfied, sublimely confident thinking machines is going to blow us all off the face of the planet. That is the message of "WarGames," a scary and intelligent new thriller that is one of the best films so far this year. The movie stars Matthew Broderick (the kid from "Max Dugan Returns") as a bright high school senior who spends a lot of time locked in his bedroom with his home computer. He speaks computerese well enough to dial by telephone into the computer at his school and change grades. But he's ready for bigger game.

He reads about a toy company that's introducing a new computer game. He programs his computer for a random search of telephone numbers in the company's area code, looking for a number that answers with a computer tone. Eventually, he connects with a computer. Unfortunately, the computer he connects with does not belong to a toy company. It belongs to the Defense Department, and its mission is to coordinate early warning systems and nuclear deterrents in the case of World War III. The kid challenges the computer to play a game called "Global Thermonuclear Warfare," and it cheerfully agrees.

As a premise for a thriller, this is a masterstroke. The movie, however, could easily go wrong by bogging us down in impenetrable computerese, or by ignoring the technical details altogether and giving us a "Fail Safe" retread. "WarGames" makes neither mistake. It convinces us that it knows computers, and it makes its knowledge into an amazingly entertaining thriller. (Note I do not claim the movie is accurate about computers -- only convincing.)

I've described only the opening gambits of the plot, and I will reveal no more. It's too much fun watching the story unwind. Another one of the pleasures of the movie is the way it takes cardboard characters and fleshes them out. Two in particular: the civilian chief of the US computer operation, played by Dabney Coleman as a man who has his own little weakness for simple logic, and the Air Force general in charge of the war room, played by Barry Corbin as a military man who argues that men, not computers, should make the final nuclear decisions.

"WarGames" was directed by John Badham, best known for "Saturday Night Fever" and the current "Blue Thunder," a thriller that I found considerably less convincing on the technical level. There's not a scene here where Badham doesn't seem to know what he's doing, weaving a complex web of computerese, personalities and puzzles; the movie absorbs us on emotional and intellectual levels at the same time. And the ending, a moment of blinding and yet utterly elementary insight, is wonderful.

- RogerEbert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.