Matt Barton's blog

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The Search for Retrogaming Booty

Commodore 128: Would you buy this for $20?Commodore 128: Would you buy this for $20?Arikhan of Destructoid has a fun post up about why he enjoys retrogaming. Most of his reasons seem centered on the rather dismal situation of his pocketbook, though he cites other factors as well--more original music, a calming look to the 8-bit graphics, and simpler controls. Normally, something like this wouldn't be very interesting, but he adds one dimension that I hadn't thought of before (but now realize is one of the reasons I enjoy retrogaming): The Hunt. How much of your devotion to retrogaming stems from scavenging in dusty bargain bins and used game shops--not to mention classifieds and ebay--for treasures?

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Matt's First Mac Experience (Please, Be Gentle)

Well, I finally got my new iMac up and running, and I must admit I'm impressed with what I've seen so far. But, you'll have to excuse me if I don't put those Apple decals on my car just yet.

AppleAppleI've been having some problems making the transition (I'm a Windows "power user" in many ways, and it's tough starting over from scratch with a new OS), but I think I'm starting to get the hang of things. Sure, it's a bit disturbing when even the input devices (the keyboard and the mouse) feel strange and unresponsive, but I'm sure I'll adapt as time wears on. The subtle differences are odd and sometimes frustrating. For instance, I use the "home" and "end" keys a lot on my PC to skip to the end of a line when I type. I have these keys on the Mac keyboard, but they don't seem to do anything. I also have a large widescreen monitor built-in, but the text has a habit of being so small I can't read it. Furthermore, the window re-sizing controls are different...In short, it's like speaking Spanish all your life and suddenly finding yourself surrounded by Portuguese. Yes, the basics are the same, and you can understand and be understood on most things, but all those subtle nuances get mangled in translation. I have the distinct impression that I'm "talking louder" at the Mac rather than correctly, and I need to learn its language.

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Armchair Arcade: The Style, the Tone

Well, we've been at this for a couple of months now, and I daresay that we're beginning to settle into a nice groove. Everyday there are at least two news items that we hope you will enjoy checking out--and of course plenty of commentary on these items from your editors. Sooner than you think, we will be rolling out what we hope will be one of the best issues of Armchair Arcade to date. However, I think it's safe to say that we are still officially in a "beta state," and still open to suggestions and ideas about the future. You all have been very forgiving and patient with us during this transition, and I really, really appreciate it. Thanks.

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Interview with Tom Kalinske--How Sega Japan Ruined Sega

Sega-16.com has published an interview with Tom Kalinske, former president of Sega US. If you're a Sega fan or just interested in their rise and fall, it's worth your while to check this out. In a nutshell, Kalinske seems to imply here that what really ruined Sega was the overbearing Japanese division, whose petty jealousy and petulance over the American division's success caused them to turn down opportunities that would've kept them in the ring. For instance, they refused to purchase SGI's technology on the grounds that it "wasn't good enough," yet that same tech ended up in the Nintendo64. The Japanese division also refused to go in with Sony, who (after also being rejected by Nintendo) ended up releasing its Playstation (d'oh!). However, of course we have to bear in mind who all of these views are coming from, and it's no surprise that Kalinske wants to make himself look brilliant and everyone who disagreed with him as idiotic.

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Virtual Reality Super Mario

Well, it had to happen sometime: Virtual Reality Super Mario. There's not too much to see here; just a demonstration of the unit with the game playing in the background. I'm sure the appeal of something like this just can't be captured in a YouTube--you'd have to be wearing that headset to appreciate it. Still, that doesn't look too comfortable (or intuitive) having to jerk your arm up to hit those blocks. I'm surprised they don't have him jumping on a DDR-type pad, but I suppose the logistics for that might be difficult. I think it'd be easier just to use the default NES controller, or perhaps something with dual analogs. At any rate, it's neat and definitely looks better than that clunky, Dire Straits -video type VR we're so used to seeing. YouTube below the fold.

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More "Control Issues" and PC vs. Console Gaming

Nintendo Wii Controller: Wait until you see the foot pedals.Nintendo Wii Controller: Wait until you see the foot pedals.There's been a great deal of buzz this week about controllers, probably (methinks) inspired by Nintendo's innovations with the Wii. Retroblast has a piece up about Roberto Duran, a maker of awesome custom controllers for very serious gamers. $500 "stikz", anyone? If Duran's work is artistic and highly prized, check out this crap from Elecom. Is this supposed to be an NES-style controller for nostalgia's sake, or a gag gift for Christmas? You'd probably be better off recycling your soon-to-be-worthless dual-shocks for PC play for only $11.

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"Out of Control": Chris Kohler's History of Wacky Controllers

Chris Kohler, author of Retrogaming Hacks and PowerUP, has a fantastic feature at 1-UP called Out of Control: The Craziest Game Controllers Ever. This article is definitely a must-visit for all retrogaming fans, particularly those with an interest in novel input devices. Where else are you going to read about Boong-Ga Boong-Ga, the Korean arcade fisting simulator? I thought I had seen some quirky controllers before, but Pom Poms? An accordion? There are also lots of comparisons here between Atari and Nintendo, as well as a look into modern arcades.

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Pole Position will leave SKID MARKS on your SOUL!

"It'll bust your crank...and leave skid marks on your soul!" Oooohh...Shiver. And let's not ignore the bustin' on the corporate execs--the Hannibals at the gate of the Ancient Atari republic. "You're going to play POLE POSITION!" What the heck am I raving about? This classic Pole Position TV commercial of course. The entire commercial is classic vintage 80s, right down to the hair metal-esque theme. You can click the link or see the YouTube here after the jump. For more kicks--The Cult of Leia's Golden Bikini. The belly dance is definitely worth it.

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Free Multiplayer Asteroids Online!

Asteroids--Well, SortaAsteroids--Well, SortaHoly Asteroids! Head over to cogames right now to play Multiplayer Asteroids! Yes! It's about time folks starting exploiting the multiplayer potential of Flash games (Perhaps I will set my sights on this kind of niche soon). I couldn't manage to survive more than a few minutes with this game, but thankfully, respawning is fast and easy.

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Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest

Dead Man's Chest: Great film, mateys--go see it!Dead Man's Chest: Great film, mateys--go see it!Yesterday my wife and I hiked to the local multiplex to catch the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Dead Man's Chest. Although I've always been a big fan of pirate movies, I didn't see the first one in the theater. It seemed like such an obvious bit of cheesy franchise exploitation (a movie based on a RIDE?) that I waited for it on DVD. As soon as I saw the film, I realized my mistake--Gore Verbinski came out with a highly entertaining and memorable film along the lines of The Princess Bride. Part two, Dead Man's Chest, follows the successful formula, and thus results in another great summer movie. I want to talk about a bit about the film here, and then relate it to videogames.

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