Blast From the Past
There has been a resurgence of full motion video games lately since Dragon’s Lair has landed on the iPhone (and soon to be on the Wii); but now, another game from yesteryear is rising to the surface as well: BrainDead 13. This title has you following the non-linear path of Lance, a computer expert (who looks suspiciously like Shaun White), as he attempts to fix a supercomputer inside of a castle and discovers a plot for world domination; of course, Lance is the only one who can deal with it!
When Michael Bay’s Transformers was released in 2007, I was initially quite excited about seeing my favourite cartoon being brought to life through the magic of modern technology. Big explosions, cool cars, and crazy fights were just about guaranteed to give me my giant robot fix of that summer. But I was immensely disappointed upon seeing it. I remember the experience quite vividly. As the movie started, I was incredibly thrilled. The opening scene was excellent and seemed to set what I was expecting to be the pace for the remainder of the film.
Unfortunately all the special effects in the world can’t compensate for poor acting, a convoluted plot, and stiff, unlikable characters. It couldn’t even justify the creative liberties taken with the characters of The Transformers’ universe. Having Bumblebee, the most humble and gentle of Transformers, urinate on a character was just about the low point of the movie. That, however, is arguable; there was far too much that was far too horrible in that movie for a longtime fan like me to possibly forgive. For instance, why such a huge unnecessary emphasis on the humans who have zero redeeming qualities whatsoever?
This year the world was gifted with Bay’s follow-up to the original crapfest and, in true fashion, the sequel just took everything about the first movie and cranked it all to 11. Sadly this meant out of place comedic sequences were even more out of place, racist jokes and characterizations were even more offensive, the story made even less sense, and the battles were even more confusing. Two years after the first blockbuster raked in millions of dollars, the sequel did the same despite not doing anything differently – or well, for that matter.
A guy in a leather jacket and a mop of dark hair enters A & C Video Games while I’m there. His girlfriend in tow, he marvels at a red periscope-like device on the counter. His girlfriend is confused. “It’s a Virtual Boy,” he tells her. He plays a bit of Mario Tennis, but has to soon stop to rub his eyes. He tells his girlfriend that he played one as a kid during a video game expo at Ontario Place.
It’s a scene that unfolds often at A & C Video Games. A customer comes in for one thing, but quickly finds something else, pulled by the riptide of nostalgia. Despite the store’s size, it’s packed. There are stacks of original Nintendo cartridges slotted into shelves, a wall of Japanese imports behind the counter, DS games arranged alphabetically in a display case, bulky Neo·Geo games just slightly out of reach above, a heap of neglected PC games on the floor, and over all this there’s a computer airing old video game commercials while cranking out iconic 8-bit tracks. It’s a lot to take in.
Chang Toy started A & C as a convenience store in 1998. As competition in the area increased, Chang, with the help of his younger brother Gar, started thinking of ways to change the business. “It’s not fun selling drinks and chips,” Gar recalls. After failed attempts to incorporate soccer jerseys and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, the brothers tried to find a niche.
Batman: The Animated Series has been one of my favourite cartoons since first seeing it when I was in the tenth grade. Its darker approach to the characters of Gotham was new to me, as I had typically only watched bright and goofier cartoons. While the series did have a few absurd and funny moments it was, for the most part, a more serious take on the tale of The Dark Knight.
Roughly 10 years ago I came into possession of a Batman: The Animated Series Animator’s style guide. It was a hard copy that had been photocopied from photocopies. I have no idea what generation of copy my Batman: The Animated Series style guide is. However, it still looks great and for the longest time it just felt cool to have since it was ultimately tied to someone who worked on the show; I was somehow connected to it, via friends of friends of friends.
This morning I was sent a link to an online version of the Batman: The Animated Series Writer’s Bible. It’s a 153-page file that has many of the same art assets as my animator’s style guide, but it also includes a lot of written description of the characters, including an episode guide. Check it out if you’re a fan of the show or if you’re interested in putting your own show together at some point.
Luigi’s Mansion was a launch title for Nintendo’s previous home console, the GameCube. It was also one of the first GameCube games I owned. True to form, I had selected my next console based on which one had the coolest-looking Star Wars title. Back when the Nintendo 64 was released, I had purchased Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire weeks before actually being able to get a hold of the system (as an unemployed high school student with no reliable means of transportation, this was harder than you would think).
But of course with the Nintendo 64, there was also the promise of the arcade hits Killer Instinct and Cruisin’ USA making their home debut, and although these titles haven’t aged well, they were pretty freaking groundbreaking at the time. Nintendo 64 served me well through college, where I was much too busy to game. I only had five games for it, and for me it was my Star Wars system (SOTE and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron would take turns being the go-to game).
When the GameCube was released, I initially sought after it as a successor to my Star Wars-playing console. After all, Star Wars: Rogue Leader looked amazing. I actually bought that game before even owning a GameCube. I didn’t know it at the time of its release, but the GameCube would ultimately become the console that brought me back into gaming after a casual absence. To think: it was actually just part of my ever-growing Star Wars collection at the time.
We blew our graphics budget on this illustration.
Last January, way back when the site only had a handful of readers (oh how we’ve grown!), I wrote a goofy article comparing the NES and Sega Master System Ghostbusters games. With it being the eve of the release of the wildly anticipated this-gen Ghostbusters game, I thought some of you might enjoy the read.