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Week of Neo-Geo – What Games Should Come to the Next MVSX? September 16, 2022

Posted by Maniac in Editorials, Uncategorized, Week of Neo-Geo.
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I hope you all don’t feel the Neo-Geo died after the release of the Hyper Neo-Geo 64. While SNK has had its restructurings, bankruptcies and buyouts, the original games for the platform live on through various means. In fact, two years ago the company UNICO released the MVSX, a bartop arcade machine that comes packed with fifty classic Neo-Geo games. Let’s take a closer look at it in glorious 4K HDR.

The MVSX comes preloaded with slightly over one third of the total catalog of Neo-Geo games including Fatal Fury, King of Fighters and Metal Slug. However, if Wikipedia is to be believed, one hundred and forty-three total games were released for the platform (although that list does include games released on the AES and Neo-Geo CD). UNICO did ship the MVSX with a rear USB port, but that is only for system updates and bug fixes. Sadly, they won’t be offering new games for sale online, at least not to add to the current MVSX platform.

With nearly one hundred games from the Neo-Geo catalog missing in action, what are home arcade enthusiasts to expect for the future? It’s my opinion that UNICO may have decided to hold off offering digital downloads of new games on the MVSX so they can instead rerelease newer revisions of the MVSX with an alternate selection of games. If you remember anything about the Neo-Geo that I’ve taught you this week, it’s that the strength of the platform laid in the fact that the onboard games could be swapped out. With that in mind, there’s nothing holding back the opportunity for UNICO to release a second generation MVSX with an entirely different selection of games.

The best part of this is a potential new release could still be compatible with the existing stool and shelf, allowing players who already own them the opportunity to reuse their existing ones if they wish.

So with that all out of the way, let’s get to the big question then. What games do I think should be included in a next Neo-Geo home arcade release?

Just want to put a disclaimer here that this article is just being written for fun. At this time a successor to the MVSX has not been announced. This is also by no means a complete list and you’re welcome to post your own opinions in the comment section below.

Puzzle Bobble – The MVSX launched with a great amount of fighting titles, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of a single puzzle game that was installed on it. I know it sounds weird to play a puzzle game on an arcade since they are so common on smartphones and tablets these days, but I can assure you back in the day it was common and this is considered the best game on the platform. The game had several sequels, ALL of which could be bundled together in the next machine’s menu.

Shock Troopers (2nd Squad) – The first Shock Troopers has been my absolute favorite game to play on the MVSX, and it’s a shame that the sequel wasn’t included alongside it. You and a second player play as a select member of a squad of commandos in a run and gun side scroller.

Neo Turf Masters – Only one golf game released with the MVSX and unfortunately it wasn’t the specific golf game everyone remembers. Neo Turf Masters is considered the best golf game released for the platform and there’s a heavy demand online to rerelease or I will not question.

Cyber-Lip – I grew up loving cyberpunk shooting games and this classic run and gun game is a perfect example of that. Most people have compared its gameplay to Contra 3 but describe its plot as an adaptation of The Terminator. Sign me up!

Last Resort – A classic side scrolling space shooter on par with several Konami classics in the 16-Bit generation. Would be a perfect addition to a second release.

Riding Hero – The MVSX has no racing games on it, despite the fact several were developed for the original Neo-Geo. Riding Hero was SNK’s answer to SEGA’s HANG ON. The rules are simple, keep your motorcycle on the track and don’t let other players overtake you.

League Bowling – It’s bowling. My wife would not allow me to leave this off the list. It isn’t a perfect bowling simulation (Neo-Geo has no trackball, just joysticks and buttons) but it has a great art style with expressive characters. It also was the only game that took advantage of the Neo-Geo’s ability to link up other cabinets to allow 8-player games, making it a fantastic contender if UNICO intends to ship a machine that allows online play.

Most Requested Home Arcade Game Releases July 7, 2022

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For the past few years we have seen a resurgence in the home arcade market. Several vendors including companies like Arcade1Up and iiRcade have recreated the classic arcade machines from the 70s, 80s and 90s and offered them to consumers to use in their own homes, no quarters or tokens needed. These home arcade machines feature the original cabinet art on the outside, but inside you’ll find modern LCD panels and integrated computer components. In some cases, the machines may not be as big as they originally were designed to be, but that makes them more affordable and easier to store in a home. If you have a basement or spare bedroom you’ve been dying to refurnish, these machines can make your dream of having an arcade in your home a reality.

As a child of the 90s, I have my own era of the arcade that I cherish the most. While some players remember games like Pac-Man or Galaga, I remember playing titles like Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. While all these games have been rereleased as home arcade machines and can be easily obtained through your local electronics retailer or delivery site, I started to ask myself just what games would I want to see come back the most if I wanted to have my own home arcade.

So this is my list of games I feel should get re-released as a stand-alone home arcade cabinet. These are in no particular order and no arcade machine is off the table for consideration. Please note we are not going to include products that have either been released or ones that have been officially announced on this last. That means games like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, Dragon’s Lair and Time Crisis are not eligible, as they have either already been released or have a release confirmed.

With that all out of the way, let’s start the list.

Area 51 – Without a doubt this was my favorite light gun game of all time. Released by Atari, Area 51 puts you behind the barrel of a military special forces member as they attempt to retake the titular military base from an alien zombie invasion. It would be nice to see it bundled with the next game on the list, however I’m sure it would be more likely to see it bundled with the sequel/expansion Site 4.

CarnEvil – Another classic light gun arcade game from Midway where you fight your way through a haunted carnival. This game pulls no punches when it comes to its designs and would easily get an M rating in today’s market. Sadly, for being such a unique game this has never gotten a home release. In fact, I would not have had any idea this game existed if it wasn’t for a review/let’s play by the incredible Ross Scott of Ross’s Game Dungeon.

Splatterhouse – The original Splatterhouse put you in control of Rick, a man who must save his girlfriend from monsters with the help of supernaturally evil mask. Along the way you must use your strength and whatever weapons you find along the way to bash all the monsters that stand between you. This game is great on almost every level and its horror themes really helped it stand out at the time. While some consider it controversial, it’s practically tame by today’s standards. Personally, I would love to see a home arcade release also include the two official sequels that released on the Genesis.

Aliens (KONAMI) – Another incredible Konami side scroller at the same era Konami was developing other incredible games like The Simpsons and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You can take control of Ripley or Hicks and blast away at hordes of Aliens, some of which never made an appearance in the original films. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about this game since I never played it in arcades back in the day and it never got a home release, but based upon the enormous outcry I’ve seen for this game to get re-released, this is something I’d like to check out for myself!

Star Wars Trilogy (SEGA) – I know what you’re saying, didn’t Arcade1Up already release the Star Wars Trilogy? Well, they did release the ATARI vector graphics games, but that’s not the games I’m referring to here. I’m referring to the SEGA Star Wars Trilogy that was released in the late 90s. The game allowed you to play out some of the best scenes from across the three films ranging from the Battle of Yavin, to the Battle of Hoth, culminating with a secret ending where you fight the Battle of Endor. Along the way you can even have QTE lightsaber battles with Boba Fett and Darth Vader. Sadly, if you find the game in the wild most of their screens suffer from horrendous image burn, but if you could look past the permanent Star Wars logo on your screen, you’ll find a fantastic game. Obviously, a re-release with newer hardware can be created to prevent that kind of image burn problem the original arcade machines suffer from. I don’t care if they choose to make it as a stand up or sit down cabinet, I would love to have this game in my basement.

Cruisin’ USA – This is without a doubt my favorite arcade racing game of all time. The game has you participating in an ultimate race across the US with the objective to finish first place in every leg. Starting point, Los Angeles, finish line, Washington DC. Now, I admit this game has seen several rereleases over the years staring with its N64 port in the mid-90s, but I want to see the original arcade graphics restored. There could be a disagreement over how this machine could be sold, as stand up and sit down versions were both available. In fact, there was a two-player machine as well. I personally prefer the sit down one-player version, but I want to see this game released so badly, I would probably get it regardless of how it shipped.

Donkey Kong Trilogy – Nintendo’s most popular arcade games and the titles that introduced us to the character of Mario have been ported to Nintendo’s home consoles many times over the years but to this day has not received a home arcade release. A three game home cabinet would be a no brainer, which could include Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr and Donkey Kong III. Perfect emulation on these games may not be possible, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to use it as an entry to become the next King of Kong, but I just want a chance to see this piece of Nintendo history and view the kill screen for myself.

House of the DeadTime Crisis has already been announced as getting a home arcade release, but a friend of mine wanted to know if they could release that, what was stopping them from releasing a House of the Dead arcade machine? The light guns used in the Terminator 2 arcade would be a perfect fit for House of the Dead, and multiple games could be bundled in the system. Heck, if they wanted to be fancy they could even put a USB keyboard port somewhere on the front panel so people could plug in a PC keyboard to play Typing of the Dead, which you can be sure would be a major selling point for someone like me.

Mortal Kombat 4 – There have been plenty of Mortal Kombat Arcade1Up releases over the years that included Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (on top of other classic games including Rampage) but to this date not a single home arcade release has included the 3D graphics powered Mortal Kombat 4. I remember this game, when I first saw it in the arcades, made me drop my jaw. The ability to fight in a third dimension with graphics that could match and surpass the original PlayStation was just incredible. Forget about bundling eight Midway classic games with a Mortal Kombat rerelease, bundle MK4 with the next one instead.

So there’s our list! Is there anything we missed? Post a comment below with your thoughts and what games you want to see get a rerelease.

What Games To Download on the 3DS eShop Before it Shuts Down Forever March 3, 2022

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Been a long time since we’ve done one of these hasn’t it? With the recent announcement that Nintendo is planning to shut down the Nintendo eShop for the Wii U and 3DS forever in May 2023, gamers have been scrambling to obtain games through the service that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. I’ve owned a 3DS since August 2012 and it rekindled my love with Nintendo handhelds in a way that I never imagined. We don’t have much time left to make purchases through the service (credit card purchases are expected to end in May 2022 with eShop credit ending in August 2022) I felt the time was right to start sharing some of my favorite games from the 3DS eShop with all of you.

Before we start the list just know this list will be comprised of entirely original games that cannot be obtained physically through other means. We also won’t be including Virtual Console games (including SNES titles) as we don’t consider them exclusives at this time. So let’s sit back and enjoy this truly eclectic list of games I’ve enjoyed from the time I spent owning a 3DS.

Attack of the Friday Monsters -Without a doubt one of the most charming games I have ever played in my life. In this game, you play as the new kid living in Tokyo during the mid-70s. Each Friday, giant monsters are reported to attack the city. Your job is to discover if these monsters are real and along the way learn more about your and your family’s otherworldly past. If this article has any merit, you must download this game RIGHT NOW.

Pokémon: Dream Radar – This AR game is another no brainer, especially if you’re a Pokémon fan. In this game, you must traverse the dream world as you use the 3DS cameras and gyroscope to capture exclusive Pokémon. It’s a major precursor to games like Pokémon Go, and it is fairly inexpensive. You’ll need a copy of Black 2 or White 2 physically inside your 3DS to transfer any Pokémon you obtain in the game.

The Starship Damrey – A first-person sci-fi puzzle adventure game with an art style that that harkens back to Enemy Zero on the Sega Saturn. You’re trapped in a stasis pod onboard an interstellar starship that appears to be abandoned. Thankfully, you gain control of a remote controlled robot with a camera and grabby arm. Your objective is to find a way to free yourself from this pod. But is everything what it seems to be?

Weapon Shop de Omasse – What goes into making the powerful and mythical weapons a hero wields into battle? A talented blacksmith of course! This puzzle game has you decide what weapons to make for which characters, and who will function best with each type of weapon. On top of that, this game’s sense of humor is just great. I mean, we are making weapons for famous gaming character archetypes, now we get to see what these characters are like on their downtime around civilians. I’m a fan of cynical comedians and I think this game’s writing really knows how to appeal to the long-term gamer who is very familiar with all of gaming’s tropes.

Chibi-Robo Photo Finder – This game was my first exposure to the adorable Chibi-Robo and I just loved the gameplay. Your job was to control the titular character as he makes his way through his environment all the way hoping he won’t run out of power. There are puzzles to solve and pictures to take, so keep your eyes on the outline!

How Should Donkey Kong Be Portrayed In Universal Studios Parks? November 2, 2021

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Its Tuesday and I know I typically reserve Tuesday’s for Japan Travel Tips articles but I decided the subject matter for today’s opinion piece makes it perfect to release today. Its been a long time since I’ve produced an opinion piece on this website and that streak ends right now. After I learned that Universal Studios Japan will be opening its own Donkey Kong Country area adjacent to the heavily popular Super Nintendo World in 2024, I paused to wonder just how the logistics of the area will work. Super Nintendo World offers the ability for guests at the park to meet and interact with several characters from the Super Mario games including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad by putting USJ cast members in custom made suits. By all intents and purposes it has been a tremendous success and has set a new gold standard for theme parks worldwide. You may have seen a tease for what this would look like in this famous television commercial.

Okay, I admit I’m being a little silly in posting that here. This commercial may be a little misleading, and not just because the beloved characters are beating the crap out of each other. What I wanted to use it for was a simple comparison of size. According to Nintendo, Mario is a human of average height, but Donkey Kong (even from his earliest days) on the other hand has always been depicted as about four times bigger than Mario. I guess bananas really did make him big and strong. For the proposed Donkey Kong Country area, it is heavily expected we will be able to have meet and greets with many of the famous characters from the DK franchise. Since Mario represents the size of an average adult, that would mean DK should be represented as four times larger than a human being. That begs the question if Donkey Kong be portrayed by a cast member in a fuzzy costume, or is DK just so big he can only be portrayed through some kind of animatronic or special projection affect?

If Universal plans to bring Donkey Kong to their theme parks, will having him depicted by an actor in a suit be sufficient? My answer is no, I think he should be portrayed by an animatronic. Producing gigantic animatronic apes is something Universal Studios has in their wheelhouse. King Kong, for those of you who don’t know, is ENORMOUS. As someone who remembers dangling from a ceiling track right next to the 35-foot tall animatronic ape as fire and explosions blasted out, I can tell you firsthand Universal is more than capable of pulling of the task. If you don’t believe me watch this video courtesy of Theme Park Crazy.

So that’s how I feel about Donkey Kong. He’s bigger than life and we should see him as such. Before I wrap, I would like to bring up one last point. The closest comparison I could find in size to Donkey Kong that currently exists in the Super Mario universe would be Bowser (or King Koopa if you’re old-school). Oddly, no Bowser costume character exists in Super Nintendo Land, although the character himself does exist and is referenced in the parks. While he is not depicted as an animatronic, the Mario Kart ride depicts him as an Augmented Reality special effect on the ride itself. Before that, we only see his appearance hinted at with an enormous statue and portrait in the ride queue.

I want to close this article by saying I have no idea what Nintendo or Universal actually plan to build, and in all honesty I would be fine with whatever they decided to create. If you have your own ideas for how you’d like to create your own Donkey Kong Country theme park land, post a comment below!

Why Doesn’t Disney Parks Incorporate Kingdom Hearts into a Fireworks Show? May 31, 2021

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Across the US, Disney’s Theme Parks are finally reopening. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California are back open for business. With some of the best theme park rides on the planet ranging from Space Mountain to Expedition Everest, this is a much anticipated announcement.

Now that the parks are opening at close to full capacity within the next few weeks, and Walt Disney World has announced they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Is it just me or is the music that Disney’s been using to produce their recent commercials just not doing it for you like it should? It might be because I’m a gamer. While I do not visit Disney’s parks regularly, I fondly remember visiting them on special occasions as I grew up during the 90s and I do plan to go back and visit again within the next year or two. I may not be the most well-versed on the history of the park (people like Tony Goldmark hold that distinction) but I was lucky enough to ride rides like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout and even Disney World’s Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror all within a matter of weeks of their opening.

Since 2002, Disney has had a relationship with the guys over at Square Enix, who have incorporated their Final Fantasy characters alongside Disney’s incredible catalog of films and shorts to create the beloved Kingdom Hearts franchise, and as a gamer you can be sure I’ve played many of these games. Square Enix’s contribution to Disney’s ongoing legacy, and the fact it is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, should not be dismissed. Let me set the stage for you, starting with the opening of the very first game.

When I think of Disney, I think of how they’re depicted in the Kingdom Hearts games. The games were able to weave all of Disney’s most popular films and characters into one coherent continuity with characters that acted exactly as someone already familiar with Disney would expect them to act. In a way, Disney’s parks function on a similar principle. All the rides, shows and attractions can be fit into each park’s themed land, and guests can visit each land during their stay at the park.

I will admit to subconsciously referring to Mickey Mouse as “Your Majesty”, to recognizing the final battle in the animated film Mulan…because I actually FOUGHT in it. Then I asked myself, why DOESN’T Disney promote the Kingdom Hearts games in any of their theme parks? They’ve had no problem bringing franchises from Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar in to tremendous success, Kingdom Hearts would be a logical next step! The game’s art style is timeless, and new games are still being produced. Heck, that game franchise is still alive with its most recent release being Kingdom Hearts III.

I honestly would be satisfied with a Kingdom Hearts nighttime firework tribute show. There’s honestly no need to overwhelm the parks with Kingdom Hearts versions of each characters, but why not make a stage or night show? It would make for a perfect update to the Fantasmic stunt show! Just use the Fantasmic arena as a stage, Mickey could come out dressed in his King Mickey outfit, wield his keyblade, and team up alongside Donald, Sora and Goofy against the Heartless or the Nobodies. Or, if you’re against losing Fantasmic, you could show a tribute video to the games on something like World of Color’s projection fountain. Square Enix’s cutscenes are so well produced and edited the Disney Park staff would barely have to do anything. Just put the video below up on the giant water fountain screen at California Adventure and not a single patron of the park would bat an eye. Well…except for the gamers who wouldn’t be able to stop crying.

But while there is no question that Disney owns their IP, and merely licensed their characters to Square Enix for Kingdom Hearts, it is a little unclear if Disney has the ability to use Kingdom Hearts characters in their theme parks. It has been attempted, but only for very very limited special events. Disney Parks expert Disney Dan actually did a video about the very few times these events happened, and I recommend checking it out.

I know I must not be alone. After twenty years and millions in sales, there have to be tons of other people who’s primary exposure to Disney was through Kingdom Hearts. What Kingdom Hearts themed content would you want to see Disney bring into their parks and where should it go? Post a comment below! Here’s hoping they could sell some sea salt ice cream.

Kingdom Hearts games are currently avaliable on multiple platforms including the PS4.

More Content that Should Go On Disney+ May 1, 2021

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Contrary to the popular theory, not everything that Disney (and the studios it now owns) has ever produced is on Disney+. A few months ago, we listed a group of television shows, shorts, and specials that, for one reason or other, was not on Disney+. Well, we’re currently in a bit of a lull for gaming news, and some of the things we mentioned in that article (particularly the Marvel One Shots) were added to Disney+ since we published it, so we decided to make a new list.

Unlike the last list which would not include Disney-owned content we knew for sure was licensed for other streaming platforms, we will be including ALL Disney-owned content we feel deserves to go on Disney+, regardless of who currently owns the streaming rights. However, we will not include content Disney has flagged as “coming to Disney+” like Loki, since that content IS coming to Disney+, it just hasn’t been released yet.

So, with that all out of the way, let’s get started with the earliest Disney content we can think of.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Shorts – The modern myth is that Disney was a company that “all started with a mouse”. That story is a complete lie, the animal is that Walt Disney actually started with was a rabbit named Oswald. Disney regained the rights to Oswald some time around 2008, as well as the rights to his original animated shorts. The shorts were included on a DVD bundled with the Epic Mickey Collector’s Edition, but I haven’t seen them anywhere else since. These shorts are a piece of Disney history and should be offered on Disney+.

Runaway Brain – Produced in 1995, the short film follows Mickey Mouse as he tries to earn some money volunteering for a scientific experiment. He ends up unleashing a terrifying creature, and must find a way to save Minnie from its path of destruction. The short film was darker than anything Disney had attempted up to that point (Mickey’s animator for the short had previously had experience animating the Disney villains during Disney’s renaissance era). It would get attached to a film called A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (which ironically enough IS on Disney+), and from what I heard it would get RE-attached to other later Disney films when they were in theaters (depending on region), but I can’t confirm that. It’s a great short with incredible animation and should be featured on Disney+.

Cloak and Dagger – Prior to Wandavision, a now defunct arm of Marvel labeled Marvel Television produced several television shows featuring auxiliary characters from the Marvel Universe. However, unlike the current Disney+ shows, there was absolutely no reason to watch the old shows since they would never be referenced in the Avengers films. That, plus, well, many of them (like Inhumans or early episodes of Agents of SHIELD) were just terrible. In fact, most people have argued they would not get good until Marvel Television started producing series for Netflix. Well, Forget about Daredevil, Agents of SHIELD, or Defenders, my absolute favorite show from the Marvel Television era was Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger. Starring the titular characters and taking place in New Orleans, the show is about two young people from different walks of life who gain complementary superpowers. Once they rediscover each other years later, they must learn to use their abilities to stop the company responsible for their powers from causing a disaster.

Building WildBuilding Wild was a National Geographic television show which followed the Cabin Kings, a group of cabin builders who every week would build a brand-new unique log cabin for a happy customer. Hosted by Paul and Tuffy, two men with VERY different personalities, they must plan out and construct the perfect cabin based on the environment and the personality of the customer. It’s a great show, and I honestly believe the only reason it hasn’t ended up on Disney+ already was the show’s need to add bleeps to nearly every time Tuffy spoke.

Springfield of Dreams – Directed by Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock and Produced by FOX SPORTS, Springfield of Dreams was a monumentary made in tribute to one of the best episodes of The Simpsons ever made, “Homer at Bat”, which got Homer Simpson inducted in the real-world Baseball Hall of Fame. The documentary treats the episode as if it really did take place when it aired back in 1992, and featured a mix of live-action interviews with the real baseball players who appeared in the episode and animated interviews with the characters from the show. It’s a great nostalgia trip and since it was pulled from FOX SPORTS Video on Demand (VOD) I haven’t been able to rewatch it.

Miss Fritter’s Racing Skool – This Cars 3 short film was included on the Cars 3 Blu-Ray Disc…and no where else. As we stated above, Disney+ has had no problem including short films along their lineup, including animated shorts that were included for home video release (like Auntie Edna from the Incredibles 2 Blu-Ray), so why isn’t this Cars 3 short film included?

Muppets Go to Disney World – This Muppets special was produced in either the late-80s to early-90s and featured the Muppets getting into hi-jinx on a trip to Walt Disney World. I first saw it on the Disney Channel back when it was a premium station and I just assumed it was a Disney Channel made for TV movie. It is currently unavailable on any streaming platform. SOMEBODY Disney owns seems to own this, so other than the fact the version of Disney World featured in the show is out of date (and Mickey Mouse is played by a 2D animated character) I see no reason it can’t be brought to Disney+.

The Last of Us Part II – Ellie’s Revenge Live-Action FanFilm April 26, 2021

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A short film that looks nearly exactly like a live-action adaptation of The Last of Us Part II has just hit the web. Directed by Tommy Jackson, the film recreated several gripping moments from the game franchise. The attention to detail is just incredible. The actors casted look almost exactly like their in-game counterparts. The atmosphere is color corrected with the same palate that I recognized from playing the game on PS4 Pro.

Is this real? Check it out below:

As someone who just watched this at home on their 4KTV, I thought I was watching a short film at my local cinema. The cinematography and production value was just that good. I hope the director and crew can do a commentary track version so we can learn more about what went into making it. Until then, I must say I am impressed.

The Last of Us Part II is out now for the PS4.

What We Lost Because 2020 Sucked March 7, 2021

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I know it’s Sunday and we typically have a Gaming History You Should Know today but 2020 sucked, and I wanted to say that to the world. But the most ironic thing about 2020 was for nearly the entire year the human population had to endure what it was like to live as a gamer. Staying home, limiting all inter-person communication to phone and online, having meals be by take out and delivery was completely intolerable for some people, but for people like me that would be considered was any random Tuesday. Sadly, there are consequences for a society that needs to stay home for an extended period of time, and one of those consequences is a lack of income for businesses. Leisure activities and venues were closed for extended periods, either by government order or plain common sense, and without government assistance to keep them afloat while being shuttered many businesses we’ve known and loved forever did not survive the year 2020.

Let’s talk about some of the major businesses that didn’t survive 2020 that I’m really going to miss. We are going to include companies that we believe will never be coming back, and while it is possible these companies could be revived (either through restructuring or buyouts) as far as we know as of the time this is being written the companies we talk about in this article are no longer in active operation.

The VOID was a Virtual Reality (VR) experience which allowed free movement through a mixture of motion tracking and rudimentary sets to produce what has been reported to be a pretty seamless 3D VR experience. The company even did a deal with Disney and ILMxLabs to create exclusive VR experiences based on Avengers, Wreck it Ralph, and even Star Wars. However, when a global pandemic is happening, it is not a good idea to go somewhere and use the same equipment that had recently come in contact with the eyes, nose and mouth of people unknown to you. In September, the company was no longer able to pay its bills, and Disney broke their agreements with them shortly afterwards.

Leading up to 2020, VR centers were actually gaining popularity. When you’re looking at images displayed on decent HD headsets rendered high-end computers, VR is a thrilling experience. While other VR locations ran stock programs people with the money could play in their own homes, the VOID provided an environment people could actually move around in, touch, and feel. I never got to experience one of their games, and I really regret it. It will be interesting to see how the world adjusts to VR cafes post-pandemic, and I have my own theories about how I think they could move on in some way but that’s an article for a different time.

Laser Quest was laser tag, but it was really FUN Laser Tag. Imagine an experience where you’re playing in a real-life multiplayer DeathMatch arena. You fire at your opponents with a special laser weapon that has the ability to ricochet off mirrors. If you make a hit, depending on where in your opponent you struck, you get some points and temporarily disable your opponent for a few seconds. You could try to gain a high ground but that leaves you visible to the entire arena. You could try to stay hidden on a ground floor maze but you have less opportunity to score points that way. You have to decide how best to position yourself for the high score. Before I played my first game at Laser Quest, I would be forced to play Laser Tag at awful venues which never maintained their equipment. At Laser Quest, they told me that each player was marked by a GamerTag of their choice, proving to me these guys knew how to run a real-life DeathMatch. When I was handed my first ever fully working piece of game equipment, I was unstoppable, and I still have the score cards to prove it. Seriously these guys did Laser Tag better than ANYONE else. They even had an online service that kept track of your stats in a National leaderboard.

I last went to Laser Quest last February as a Valentine’s Day trip with my fiancée and we both had a blast. Sadly, an enclosed arena is expensive to maintain when nobody is paying to use it. I should’ve noticed something was wrong after the official Laser Quest app was pulled from Apple’s App Store, preventing me from installing it on my new phone. If the world hadn’t gone to hell, we were talking about doing more trips with more friends.

Fry’s Electronics was a brick and mortar PC part retailer I remember fondly. I visited it one time back in 2003 after I discovered my GPU was damaged and needed to be replaced quickly. In a time when Newegg and Tiger Direct were making waves for themselves for competitively pricing their parts, Fry’s seemed willing to compete, something CompUSA never was willing to do. I was able to find not only a new GPU there, but one that was faster than my previous one at a decent price. Heck, they would even sell plushes of Tux the Linux Penguin, and anyone willing to sell those are awesome in my book.

Unfortunately, after I moved away from California, I never saw Fry’s stores again. As far as I know they never expanded into the East Coast and because of that most Americans probably aren’t even aware of the store. Over the past few years I’ve been hearing horror stories about Fry’s operating with completely bare shelves, giving some credibility to the theory the company had been on the ropes for a while, and the pandemic merely was their knock out blow.

Who knows what else could go next? Was there a business or venue I missed? Post a comment below and we might feature it next time.

If You Upgrade Your Pokemon Pass Device, You Will Lose Your Completed Activities Forever February 22, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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I’ve talked a bit about Pokémon Pass here in the past, but for those of you who may not be familiar with it I’ll talk about it briefly here. Pokémon Pass is a smart device app which awards digital goods for completing tasks assigned by The Pokémon Company. Pokémon games have a long standing tradition of offering free digital in-game goods during limited-time promotions (in fact I think they’re the first company I can think of to do that). However, over the first half of the past decade, this has been a hassle. Typically, major retailers hold these promotions, and while my local GameStop has always been reliable for sharing digital codes and goodies during promotion periods, larger retailers like Target and Walmart have been utter failures at it.

When Pokémon Pass launched, it let users skip the middleman so to speak and would automatically generate Mystery Box codes just for being in the GPS range of the participating retailer. That meant you could go to a store during the event period, shop a little, and get your goodies without bothering a single employee.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned about a flaw with the app that I wanted to tell people about here. And that is that despite the fact that you must have a digital account and online access to use Pokémon Pass, completed missions don’t actually save to your profile, they save to your device. That means if you ever upgrade your device (like I did recently) you will lose access to all the content you unlocked during the app’s lifespan. If you had participated in limited time events that are no longer available (such as the Pokémon Detective Pikachu movie event) you will not be able to reobtain them. I have even confirmed this with The Pokémon Company, as this is how they designed Pokémon Pass to work.

I know what you’re thinking, would keeping a backup of your app’s old data and loading it into your new device fix the problem? No, sadly. Because the information is device locked, it’s impossible to complete new challenges running your old device’s data on your new device.

Perhaps it’s time we move all events to Pokémon Home?

Pokémon Pass is out now for iOS and Android smart devices.

Is Best Buy The Next Circuit City? February 5, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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For those of you who weren’t born in the 90s (or haven’t read my You Will NOT Be Missed article on the subject) Circuit City was an electronics megastore that sold Televisions, Stereos, Video Games, PCs, CDs, and DVDs. It died in the mid-2000s, and as far as I know, all its stores are shuttered. Most pundits and mainstream “journalists” blamed the company’s failure on the online marketplace, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people to this day believe Circuit City to be Amazon’s first corporate kill. Anyone who believes that is wrong.

Circuit City did not fail because people preferred to shop on Amazon, Circuit City failed because they were so comically mismanaged they made people WANT to shop on Amazon. In a non-fantasy scenario, a consumer will choose the path of least resistance to get what they want. Going to a store and picking up something can be easier than buying it online, especially for people who lack credit or debit cards. But when a retail store is run badly, it can become more convenient to order something online and wait several days for it to arrive at your house than it is to go in person. What am I talking about? Keep reading and find out.

While Circuit City had been highly successful during the mid-90s to early 2000s (mostly on the popularity of CDs and DVDs), after the year 2002, Circuit City entered a downward spiral for reasons I just can’t explain. I may have only taken one college-level business course in my life (which was more an IT class than about business) but I must assume a retail store is only successful if it actually SELLS THINGS. At some point in the 2000s, Circuit City just gave up selling things. They actually stopped staffing people at their registers, which meant all purchases would have to be made at Customer Service. This may be okay for a simple retail store that sells things like clothes, it’s rare people don’t know their own sizes, but this is the dumbest policy ever for a high end electronics store to adopt. How? Imagine being forced to wait for hours behind retirees trying to talk their ways into returning computer accessories (without having to pay restocking fees) they likely purchased knowing absolutely nothing about what would or wouldn’t be compatible with their equipment. I’m not kidding, it would be common to see people that shouldn’t even own computers trying to scam refunds for stuff they never should’ve bought in the first place. Instead of opening a register so I could actually pay the company cash money for a GameCube game, they chose to waste their actual paying customers time. For at least five years, that would be the bare minimum for what I would have to endure EVERY time I shopped at Circuit City.

I already told you a horror story, but that’s just stories that happen when management gets cheap, what evidence do I have about incompetent management costing a company sales? In 2008, I wanted to pick up a Blu-Ray Disc of one of the biggest movies of that year, Iron Man. I went to Circuit City to pick up a copy around 3PM on the day of its release. The store manager (apparently he was the only person working that day if he was working the Customer Service line), told me off the cuff as he was ringing me up I bought their last copy, as he had only ordered nine Blu-Rays of Iron Man for the entire store. They had literally sold out before happy hour even started.

I looked at him as if he was the dumbest human being who ever set face on the earth and asked him, “This is the most critically and commercially successful new movie release of the year on a format that cemented its install base and has been itching for a good looking film to show off what it can do, why would you only order NINE copies?”

I never shopped at Circuit City again. The store shuttered in less than a year after that story happened.

Best Buy came into being during Circuit City’s heyday, but did not share Circuit City’s downfall. When the market shifted away from CDs and DVDs, Best Buy shifted to stocking video games, big screen HD (later UHD) TVs, and household wares (washing machines, microwaves, etc). Unlike Circuit City, Best Buy was willing to price compete with their competitors, which is probably why they got the name Best Buy. They also had a store where employees actually WORKED! Registers would be manned, and you could buy something quickly whenever you concluded your shopping. I know, who would’ve thought that would make them successful?

Over the years, however, Best Buy has seemed to be moving further and further down Circuit City’s dark path. First, it was the little things, like occasionally leaving all their registers completely unmanned, which to me still remains one of the more curious incompetencies of a retail store. If you run a company and want to save on having to employ cashiers, change the sign out front and say you’re a museum. It’ll save me thinking I can actually buy things there. However, to Best Buy’s credit, this has not been a permanent problem. Their issues lie elsewhere.

Over the years I’ve had other issues with Best Buy, but most of it has boiled down to poorly trained staff and mismanaged managers. For example, I can’t remember a single video game release day where a game’s stock was ready to sell, either on store shelves or held in the back for people who preordered the games. How can I buy something if you won’t actually put it on a shelf? As for evidence of poorly trained staff, there was a time I once asked an employee if they had a new game in stock which had came out that day and gave them the exact title of the game. The only person actually working there that day asked me, “Is that for the DS3?” and I shook my head and said, “No, there’s no such thing as a DS3, the game I want is on the 3DS.” Apparently I know more about what Best Buy sells then their employees do. I felt bad for the people coming in there that actually knew less than I did.

In my recent trips to Best Buy, I see all the familiar signs of a company running on fumes. I once tried to pick up a Collector’s Edition of a new game I had preordered, and that was a complete hassle. Instead of being given what I was ordered I was incorrectly handed an different game that, had I accepted, was worth thirty dollars less than the game I had actually ordered and paid for. Good times.

I last visited Best Buy to make a major purchase of something their website assured me they had in stock. After arriving at the store, they told me to sit and wait for someone to assist me. It was just about 11am and the store hadn’t been open for an hour at this point. After waiting for at least twenty minutes, the store’s manager realized whoever was supposed to help me was MIA, and offered to help me herself. After spending five more minutes doing someone else’s job (the person who was supposed to assist me never did show up by the way), thirty minutes into me being there she finally asked me why I was there in the first place. I asked if the item I was seeking was in stock, and if I could pay for it in full immediately and be on my way. She (incorrectly) told me it was not store policy to outright sell me what I wanted, and if I wanted to buy what I wanted from them, I would have to pay it in installments over the span of thirty months. After wasting thirty-five minutes of my life I would never get back, I told her to cancel everything she was doing, got up and walked out. I was literally shocked by the utter arrogance of their incompetence. While I could understand my wait due to understaffing caused by the current world events, there was absolutely no legitimate reason they couldn’t sell me what I wanted, since I was able to buy exactly what I needed somewhere else with no hassle.

These stories are not the angry squabbles of an entitled consumer, never once have I ever asked for a freebie or any bonus for all the trouble I have endured. In several cases, had I not spoken out before being sold something, Best Buy’s employees would have sold me incorrect products at higher prices than their value, or put me on grueling payment plans I did not want to be a part of. In a sane world, successful companies are successful because they provide either a better service, lower price, or higher supply of an in-demand product. I mean, that’s probably written on the first page of every basic business textbook ever printed. You can’t blame Amazon for a failing company who chooses to hire incompetent people, poorly train them, and set incorrect priorities for their managers, you blame the failing company. When Best Buy fails, like Circuit City before them, it will be their own fault.