Just recently I received a package in the mail. It was a flat pack type envelope addressed to me. Perplexed as I had not ordered anything recently, I opened the package. A small book slid out of the packing onto my desk. It took a moment to realize; Oh yes I had asked for a review copy of the new CoCo book. I finished the book this last Monday and I have spent the last 5 days collating my thoughts and opinions before sitting down to write this review here. Due to a hiatus on my podcast, I will be posting a review there as soon as possible, and may have to do a side recording specifically for the book. Read more below.
Retrogaming Times Monthly (RTM), Issue 166, January 2014, has a review of our new book, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer. This is the last issue of RTM under its present editors, so be sure to check out the rest of the content in this historic issue. Thanks also to Brian Blake for writing such a nice review.
I'm pleased to announced that Armchair Arcade is officially aligned with the upcoming Retro Gaming Magazine (RGM). Not only will RGM's staff be bringing you great editorial content each month, but so will the Armchair Arcade team--all in the style you've come to expect from us since our founding in 2003. On a personal note, a magazine is something those of us at Armchair Arcade had always wanted to pursue, but for various reasons, including industry volatility, it never quite got off the ground through traditional means. Of course, as many of you may remember, Armchair Arcade itself originally started as an online magazine, which ran for seven issues before we became a general purpose site, with on-demand articles, features, news items, blog posts, forums, videos, etc. That also allowed us time to better focus on other projects, including our popular books and even a documentary film, which should finally see release in 2014. In any case, this is an exciting new chapter in Armchair Arcade's continued evolution and we plan to fully support the RGM team in making the magazine - which is available in print and PDF versions - a success. Click here to see the worldwide purchasing options. You can check out RGM's official Facebook page, here, as well as Armchair Arcade's page, here.
Another excellent podcast, The Retro League, has picked up on our new book, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer. In Episode 214, starting a little after two minutes and 50 seconds into the podcast (YouTube video stream of their podcast embedded below; though that's the raw, unedited version), the book is discussed, with a positive recommendation. This precedes several other reviews on various other podcasts, Websites, and magazines that will be forthcoming, as well as (to date) seven five star reviews on Amazon!
If you'd like to read more about the book, you can visit the Amazon link or go to the publisher's (CRC Press, part of Taylor & Francis Group) Website.
Here's the raw video version of the podcast episode:
This video shows a bit of Ridge Racer 6 running on the Xbox 360. Reiko Nagase - the series mascot - has even more loose strands of animated hair and is rendered in gorgeous detail in the full motion video opening sequence.
This game is the single outing on the Xbox platform of this series; the rest can be found on various PlayStation consoles. The goal of the game is to place 1st in a series of races. Nitro is introduced, which a lot of racers from around that era have--it temporarily boosts the performance of your car. To me, it always feels a little like cheating. The cars themselves are the familiar fictional cars that the Ridge Racer series is famous for.
There's a career mode called 'World Explorer' that allows you to 'live through' a career making choices on what races you want to race. There's new cars on offer but also mirroring and reversing of known tracks.
Ridge Racer 7 for the PlayStation 3 is a 'sequel' to this game, but basically seems to be something of a 'director's cut,' adding more vehicles and tracks. The PSP and PS Vita versions are quite similar to this game.
If you are looking for another game in the Ridge Racer series that is often overlooked, it's R:Racing Evolution on the PlayStation 2.
Ridge Racer V by Namco, a very early PlayStation 2 release. Reiko Nagase - the series mascot - got a lot of media attention as her hair seemed to exist of loose strands that were animated separately, showing the awesome power harnessed inside the PlayStation 2's Emotion Engine. Quite a cool racer I hadn't given much attention when I first got it. The release of the Dreamcast back in the day and Metropolis Street Racer may have had something to do with it. But, lately, the game has gotten a lot attention from me.
Check it out. It's a long one and I just waffle though it on various topics: Android, Nvidia Shield, Gamemid, Archos Gamepad, and some more.
Episode 64 of the Retro Computing Roundtable (RCR) mentions my new book, written with Boisy Pitre, CoCo: The Colorful History of Tandy's Underdog Computer, at approximately the 32 minute mark. Unfortunately, despite my efforts to reach out to them for reviews copies of both that book and the upcoming Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, Earl Evans, Paul Hagstrom, and Carrington Vanston were apparently previously unaware of the book's existence. It seems Earl was first made aware of our CoCo book after his appearance on Randall Kindig's excellent Floppy Days Podcast, where both Boisy and I will be interviewed soon (Randall should receive his review copies soon). Whatever the circumstances, the mention on RCR is greatly appreciated and some of the reminiscing that follows just happens to be covered/clarified in the CoCo book, so I hope they enjoy it. By the way, like the Floppy Days Podcast, RCR has always been in my podcast listening rotation!
Trog is a classic arcade game released in 1990 by Acclaim. You are a dinosaur collecting your eggs, protecting them against the cloned Trog cyclops. I couldn't show the excellent multiplayer mode in this game now, but it's there. Do you think the gameplay is a little familiar? Well, that's because it's similar to Pac-Man and Amidar.
From searching the Web, I learned there are MS-DOS and the arcade original versions of this game as well. Enjoy.
A little while ago I got a second VIC-20 which was in a cosmetically almost mint condition. Sadly the motherboard has a fault where it fails to read the joystick and the keyboard correctly resulting in the controls in games not functioning. The VIC-20 I had works great but cosmetically has seen better days. The label has come off and there has been extensive yellowing of its case. One has a serial number only in the ten thousands while the other machine has a serial number well into the hundred thousand. The cosmetically good looking machine being the oldest of the two and the yellowed machine being the younger system. So the younger system works great but looks sh*t and the oldest system looks great but runs sh*t.
Micro transactions in full priced games with the gameplay being so much of a grind that people are motivated to buy the advancements in the game rather than going to the process of actually playing the games is what kills modern gaming for me. Games that have that mechanic will far less likely get played by me.
Whether or not I buy a new console depends on the publishers getting their act together on the new systems. Full price games like Forza 5 and Gran Turismo 6 (on the PS3) still have microtransactions in them. If the majority of full price games will contain this mechanic, what does that mean for gaming as a whole?
Micro transactions are meant to squeeze even more money out of customers' pockets, they have nothing to do with better gameplay or enhancing the game mechanics. They largely ruin the game experience. And I believe micro transactions are something you don't want to expose kids to as they don't teach you the value of things at all. Kids need to learn to be able to deal with money responsibly and such transactions won't help them - it will most likely confuse quite a few of them. Or does it?
Ad ridden free to play games are fine for some perhaps. The model does provide people with a full game and that's fine for some and also very enjoyable. It's comparable to watching a movie that is hacked to pieces with 15 minutes of commercials thrown in every so often. I'd much rather watch without interruptions and commercials and I think I get a better experience. I choose to do the same for my gaming.
I am of the opinion that if you opt to play those free to play / Micro transaction-containing games you basically support that marketing model and the masses of people choosing to do the same will make the game developers think they have something good there.
I choose not to expose myself to that kind of marketing mechanic or as little as possible as I am human and have a right to be irrational at times. Just give me a full game for a good price that I am able to play when I want - even a couple of years down the line - which with activations and online passes and closed systems needing day 1 updates and games that are basically broken when released today can only be dreamt of.
What are your opinions on the matter?