Tag Archives: video games

We Played MLB Opening Day 2018 on the Original NES, For Accuracy (The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Baseball’s 2018 opening day is weird: Instead of the traditional method of staggering their first games, all major league teams open on March 29 — the earliest date in MLB history, and one that will probably find you plopped at work understandably believing the season doesn’t start for another four days. But not to worry, baseball friends! You’ll miss nothing, as we have simulated the ENTIRE DAY already, using sabermetrics and psychotropic research and Theo Epstein’s algorithm-spitting robot from the future and TECHNOLOGY, by which we mean 15 baseball games made for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

LET US STOP YOU RIGHT THERE, because we know what you are about to WHINE: Many baseball teams from 30 years ago contained ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PLAYERS! Many of your favorite squads and also the Marlins didn’t even EXIST THEN! And many video game companies didn’t even spring for MLB RIGHTS so your “Pittsburgh Pirates” might actually be VIOLENT DROIDS WITH ARM CANNONS AND TREADS. To all you haterz we say: This is the INTERNET, where facts don’t stand a CHANCE against cheap nostalgia, so of COURSE much of this is wrong. You can shove your facts into the baseball beat writer at your “hometown newspaper,” hahahaha just kidding, you don’t have one.

Now, with that said and a 2-liter Mountain Dew and a sack of Doritos jammed shoved unforgivingly in between the couch cushions, let’s play fake ball. Some takeaways from taking ourselves out to the 8-bit ballgame.

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The Best and Mostly Worst Nintendo Golf Games for the NES (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — The classic Nintendo Entertainment System was great for games in which overdramatic and cliched Italians hurled turtle shells around subterranean drainpipes, but real bad for golf. Between the years of 1984 and 1992, the original NES spawned a handful of golf-oriented video games, all of which attempted to capture the majesty of the sport and none of which, to our memory, came within a country mile of Ninja Gaiden or Metroid or even Golgo 13, and yeah, I see you out there, my Golgo 13 people.

But was that memory false? Did the games hold up better than we remembered, in our decades-old Super Tecmo Bowl-themed fog? This week we set forth to find out, using a Raspberry Pi, a customizable and probably legal device on which you can basically play every video game released between 1860 and 1993. (Indeed, the entire vast breadth of your video-game childhood now fits on an SD card the approximate size of a Wheat Thin, although of course they taste entirely different.)

With that in mind, a revisiting of Nintendo’s Finest and Only Occasionally Racially Insensitive Golf Moments.

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Thanksgiving Was Immeasurably Improved By ‘Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’ (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

Tooooooooooot

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The Loop / Golf Digest — If over the Thanksgiving holiday you noticed friends and family members avoiding the table’s undying debates about Colin Kaepernick by staring at their laps, there’s a decent chance they were doing more than praying for the sweet release of death: They were probably playing “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp!” The long-awaited smartphone version of Nintendo’s classic sandbox game, “Pocket Camp” arrived on Nintendo’s GameCube in 1697, arrived on pocket phone machines last week, perfectly timed to offer players a fresh reason to ignore the genealogically connected monsters with whom they were required to interact.

If you’re familiar with “Animal Crossing,” my username is Sparrow and FRIEND ME, I need more people with whom to trade olive flounder. If you’re not familiar with “Animal Crossing,” and spent the holiday “playing golf” or “watching Michigan lose” or some nonsense, please read on, and then FRIEND ME, I need more people with whom to trade fruit beetles.

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Atari 2600 ‘Golf’ Remains the Best Golf Video Game of All Time (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

 

The Loop / Golf Digest — Everything was better the way it used to be, which is why you buy vinyl copies of records you already own, watch Netflix reboots en masse and apparently go to theaters to absorb five godawful, synapse-pounding Michael Bay movies vaguely based on toys you broke in 1986. The one cultural region where this aggressively nostalgic approach makes sense is video games, because if you are like some of us, you stopped upgrading/purchasing them 20 years ago, haven’t the foggiest clue how to f—king move your f—cking Boba Fett character in f—cking Star Wars Battlefront in a forward-like direction and would just rather play the games you grew up with, when life was uncomplicated, easy to master and built entirely out of 2 cm-thick squares.

Which brings us to the Atari 2600, and specifically Golf, which remains — at the risk of sounding hyperbolic — the best golf video game on the market (and by “market” I mean the ‘Antiquities and Curios’ shack behind the Cracker Barrel by the exit to 65 South). With that ridiculous premise held firmly in mind, here’s a look back at simply the best golf gameplay the early ‘80s had to offer.

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It takes a village. Just not one built using Minecraft.

minecraft

This thrilling-looking excitementfest is what it’s keeping my son up late at night.

Island Packet — For going on nine years, the video game situation in our house has been happily deplorable.

By “deplorable,” I mean we don’t have video games. We are sans Wii. There is no Xbox here, no PlayStation. One time a friend brought over some device that you control by hopping around your living room like a hysterical lunatic, which wasn’t something I could see doing regularly. Somewhere in the attic there’s an ancient blow-on-the-cartridge-era Nintendo, which essentially represents the precise moment my video game evolution came to an end. And that’s it for video games. Somewhere, we are being pitied by the Amish.

Yet it’s hard for me to stand atop Hippie Mountain and say, “The scourge of video games shall not touch this castle!,” because in place of the Xbox, we’ve become obsessed with something called Minecraft. And apparently if you are the parent of a boy between the ages of 3 and 18, there’s a solid chance you just went, “Oh my God yeah, Minecraft!” — especially if you’re the kind of person who talks to your computer a lot. Read more.

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87 reasons dads should never touch “Angry Birds Star Wars”

 

For real, I've been laughing at this for three weeks straight.

For real, I’ve been laughing at this for three weeks straight.

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GateHouse — The thing that I love most is how the 8-year-old hands me — me! — the iPad to clear a level of “Angry Birds: Star Wars,” like that’s something that I can do better. Like because I am a Grown Person with my own retirement account, flood insurance and cholesterol medicine (ha! just kidding about the retirement account, and possibly flood insurance) I possess magic Angry Birds-Flinging powers available only to graying people whose bones make weird noises when they get up in the morning.

I suppose I should be thankful for this, that at the age of near-9 my son still holds me in enough esteem to shovel me problems he finds insurmountable and I, being a dynamic and powerful father, will not hesitate to squoosh a junta of cartoon pigs who are wearing stormtrooper masks. I should also be thankful that we haven’t encountered any Insurmountable Problems that involve, say, removing a snake from someplace confined and damp, or attending to something in or around an engine block.

But most of the time, I’m just watching the kid squish birds. Actually, I’m sort of watching him, because my aging eyes cannot adequately track his fingers. All they see is hands moving, going from one spot to another without apparently visiting the space in between, like a skinny ninja who cannot remember to brush all of his teeth, and then some pigs explode. He’ll fling a bird and evaluate in mid-flight whether or not the bird’s trajectory is pleasing to his little spongebrain, and if it’s clear the bird isn’t going to splat where it’s supposed to splat he’ll have paused, canceled and restarted the level basically before I’ve realized that the iPad is on. One would think someone with this kind of preternatural grasp on physics and trajectory would be able to walk up a door marked PUSH and not pull it, yet here we are.

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I’m just gonna go ahead and let Angry Birds handle the parenting for a minute

GateHouse — “The best things to kill are the monkeys. Not because they’re evil. Because they give you 5,000 points,” my son says, from the backseat, not looking up for one minute from his game of Angry Birds.

First of all, let me clarify that neither my son nor his parents advocate the killing of actual real-world monkeys, no matter how many points it gets you.

But the real world has little bearing on Angry Birds — a game that involves flinging small animals at boulders and glass in an effort to make pigs explode, which I have determined through rigorous scientific research is mostly not possible — except that it’s the one you leave when you press START. That goes double if you are 7, are in the backseat on a two-hour car ride home and you are playing while blurting out increasingly awesome non sequiturs that make no real-world sense whatsoever.

“You monkeys are MEAN!” the boy shouts, with what I can sense is nonsensical but pretty genuine monkey-centric frustration.

For two hours the little mercenary flung virtual birds at virtual hogs on the trip home, and for two hours he rambled nonstop about his game, a span of time in which my increasingly piteous attempts to listen to “music” were demolished by the sound of reckless avian devastation punctuated by the occasional gleeful shouts of “I GOT THREE STARS!” and the even more occasional disgusted grunt — which was in flagrant defiance of our list of Things That We Don’t Pitch Temper Tantrums About (Nos. 1-15,000: video games).

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Bk_nqUQ0fc&feature=player_embedded#at=17]

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Teaching my son the ways of the World 1-1

super-mario-brosIsland Packet — There’s a kid in our neighborhood — I can’t name him because our neighborhood is pretty thoroughly Facebooked — who comes by a few times a week. He’s a good kid. He’s a little flighty and has some attention-span issues, but he’s a really sweet kid who we disappoint each time he shows up with our home’s deplorable video game situation.

By “deplorable,” I mean we don’t have any. We are without Wii. There is no Xbox, no PlayStation. Somewhere in the garage, there’s a plastic tub with an ancient, ’87-vintage blow-on-the-Double-Dragon-2-cartridge old Nintendo, which represents the precise moment that my video game evolution reached its bitter end, much like real evolution did with Charles Krauthammer. I’m not even sure my TV — a fat, bulbous horror that is hopelessly confused by widescreen broadcasts — can handle these fancypants new systems without exploding. Somewhere, we are being pitied by the Amish.

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He’s the one they call Dr. Mario

GateHouse — As my job here often involves mocking others in a vain and pathetic attempt to increase my underdeveloped sense of self-worth, the reader can be forgiven for assuming that I’d begin a column about people who meet regularly to play “Tetris” with a joke, a throwaway funny, something about living in their parents’ attics and how one day, with a little gumption, they might in a couple of years make manager down at the Chick-Fil-A.

But mocking others isn’t my business today, least of all my Nintendo-obsessed brethren, who, according to a story from Denver, meet once a month in an underground “Tetris” tournament. This regular event brings people together, offers the promise of a little spending money and is, by all accounts, a pretty big deal among those who do this sort of thing. It’s probably more people than you think and no one you can make fun of if you’ve ever participated in a fantasy football league.

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Oh yeah you can play Dr. Mario right now.

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‘King of Kong’ recalls the glory age of really boring video games

Island Packet– When video games were first invented 400 years ago, things were, to say the least, a little different. There were no epic-feeling sports games populated by disquietingly lifelike-looking athletes (the “Madden” franchise), no sprawling quests that took sunshine-free weeks and a swimming pool’s worth of Mountain Dew and beef jerky to complete (“Final Fantasy”) and no obsession in senseless violence without repercussions (“Grand Theft Auto,” “Dance Dance Revolution”).

No, back in what I rather devastatingly refer to as “my day,” we entertained ourselves far differently, when we weren’t milking the pigs at 4 a.m. and standing on street corners hawking the Extra edition in song. Why, I vividly remember my grandparents purchasing the game of Pong, the first home video console, which cost them $43,000, was the size of my high school and was tremendous fun to play for precisely 35 seconds, after which it was stupid. My home also boasted a fully functional Atari 2600, which boasted both “Breakout” AND “Super Breakout” and resulted in many nights that found my brother and I engaged in brutal, combative contests of “Sky Diver.” This was a game in which you controlled a parachute guy whom you had to skillfully prevent from crashing into the ground, except that it was way, way more fun let the parachute guy hurtle directly INTO the ground, because it resulted in the Atari 2600’s best approximation of a squishing sound effect. Seriously, if you’re 8, that NEVER, EVER GETS OLD. I’m sort of snickering now thinking about it, honestly.

I bring this up because of a new film called “King of Kong,” a documentary that tracks the two grown men regarded as the planet’s current reigning players of “Donkey Kong.” (Needless to say, these guys barely can go outside without paparazzi just driving them nuts.)

If you are under the age that might remember playing “Donkey Kong” in an arcade or on the Atari, you’re probably not reading this column if “High School Musical 2” is on. “Kong” arrived in the early 1980s, right alongside “Pac-Man,” “Q-Bert” and “Zaxxon,” which I bring up under protest because “Zaxxon” was stupid, because to fly your spaceship down you had to pull up, and some of us just couldn’t get a handle on such complexity no matter how much we were made fun of by our friends at Showbiz Pizza.

Anyway, as befitting a cultural icon in the immediate post-“Star Wars” age of consumption-crazed marketing, there was a “Kong” cereal, “Kong” cartoon, “Kong” toys, “Kong” flamethrowers and “Kong” comforter-and-sheet sets, always a good early indicator of someone whose parents will probably want to keep the basement open for after college. (This all despite the fact that hilariously, “Donkey Kong” starred exactly zero donkeys; the game’s evil namesake was a murderous gorilla, although his visage in the Atari game was such that my brother took to calling him “Fudge Brownie Kong,” which would be a cool game too).

Anyway, the film “King of Kong” tracks these two men, Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, who evidently are the yin and yang of “Kong.” One set a record in 1982, the other broke it, and these two developments set off a steaming, chaotic chain reaction of events that continues to this day. Oh sure, it seems silly and petty to most of us, but it probably makes for an entertaining movie, even if I’m reasonably sure that neither of those chumps could hold a candle to me at “Sky Diver.”


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