Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Classic games for the Personal Computer

Who didn't love 8 bit graphic computer games as a kid.  I sure know I did.  Yes Nintendo and Sega Genesis were great and easy to use but if you had a solid game for your PC computer, you knew you were in for the best home video game experience EVER.  Here's my list of the top 10 computer games ever.  I'm going prior to 1999 and the PlayStation explosion.

10.) Oregon Trail - The game that taught me about dysentery and cholera.  Most people had this game or played it in elementary school. It was a pretty hard game to win, especially when trying to navigate with no food and theives ran off with your clothing. Some of the terminology in this game described my way off life senior year of college (grueling pace with bare bones rations). Very rudimentary graphics but I always got a morbid kick at seeing friends die.

Best Part: Seeing something like "Cousin Mike has a broken leg"
Worst part: Whenever you tipped over while trying the ford the river or caulk the wagon.

9.) Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - There was one night when I lived in Boston that a friend and I tried to beat the game and we used another friend on Long Island to help us out via a "phone a friend" feature. I think the $1,000,000 question asked who the purple teletubby was. All in all, a fun game to play and Regis Philbin was there to ask all the questions. Regis is my number 3 all time video game announcer behind Verne Lundquist in NBA Live 98' and Vin Scully in MLB 99'.

Best Part: The scary goofy music.
Worst Part: When you ask the audience and they give you the wrong answer...damn them!!!

8.) Shuffle Puck - An Apple 2 GS staple...the type of computer where you'd put a 3x5 disc into it. I can't remember all the characters but there was the really big fat guy with an evil laugh and an alien. I was terrible at this game.

Best Part: All of odd looking characters and their random catch phrases.
Worst Part: Losing almost every time I played this game.

7.) Mean 18 - I had this for my old Mac Plus (with a state of the art 5 inch black and white screen at the time). There was only one course but you could also design your own holes. I think my friends and I would play for skins here using real money even though we were only 13 or 14 years old.

Best Part: Its golf! On a computer!
Worst Part: The graphics looked like an 18 month old threw up onto a white paper plate.

6.) PGA Tour Golf -  Since this was on a PC and could hold a little more memory, this was one of the first sports games with a real announcer. I don't think you ever saw a golfer, just your shots. The best part was when the announcer would whisper "this putt...will break slightly to the RIGHT". I think you could play 4 round tournaments but that was it. It featured cutshots using classic videos of golfers.  The best was Craig Stadler on his knees on a blanket hitting a shot underneath a tree. That shot is illegal by the way.

Best Part: The whispering voice.
Worst Part: The putting was nearly impossible.

5.) Phantasmagoria- I'm not sure if anybody else had heard of this game and its sequel but it was about a couple moving into a haunted house and the husband going absolutely crazy and trying to murder you. It featured real actors from TV and there was brutal violence, gore, and even a rape scene. Yes, your husband rapes you during the game during a cut scene and there's nothing you could do about it.  There's also a scene when the main character's (the wife) face literally gets ripped apart. The sequel was even more weird involving S&M clubs, aliens, and even more violence. Ironically, I loved these type of games.

Best Part: Getting revenge on the demon that possessed your husband.
Worst Part: Getting raped.

4.) Murder In The 1st - This was another one of those games featuring real actors using green screen and not the more common computer generated character. This was in the "choose your own adventure" style but instead you play as a lawyer. A hard game to beat as the witnesses always clammed up if you asked the wrong questions. Some of the acting and cut scenes are just terrible but winning this game by getting a first degree murder conviction was the most satisfying thing I've ever accomplished in life just behind getting married.

Best Part: When the jury foreman says "we find the defendent, James Tobin, guilty as charged.  Murder in the first degree".

Worst Part: When the guy who worked with the accused murderer gets nervous when you start intimidating him. He goes ballistic and calls you an asshole.

3.) The Beast Within - Gabriel Knight 2 - Another stop motion game about werewolves infesting a small town in Germany. You play as a detective trying to find out why children are disappearing  Spread out over 6 discs, it was only like playing in a real movie. Plagued with bad acting, it had a really good story. Also featured lots of violence and gore.

Best part: Any werewolf scene was awesome but it took forever to get there.
Worst Part: This game took months to complete.

2.) Ripper - The only computer game to feature Christopher Walken, Jimmie Walker, Ossie Davis, the fat indian guy from the Indian Jones movies, and Karen Allen in the same game. The only game on this list I couldn't finish because there was one puzzle I couldn't figure out even with a cheat guide. The story played out as you being a detective for a murder but involves then budding virtual reality parts and impossible puzzle solving. I wish I could see Christopher Walken's bad line reading again.

Best Part: Christopher Walken in a video game?
Worst Part: You literally can't win the game.

1.) Red Alert - Command and Conquer. Possible the greatest game ever made (including the PS3 and XBox era). I would miss meals and spend hours on a single mission. The best was linking my campaign to my college roommates together (very old school considering it was 1999) to fight missions against each other. The connection always broke after 10 minutes though. Great cut scenes...the girl who tried to help you was crazy, dogs were vicious, and you always wanted to have at least 4 tesla coils guarding your base.

Best Part: The voices in the game are still ones I use to this day. "Engineering", "Building..." "Noooooo!!!!", "Repairing" "Affirmative"

Worst Part:  It literally could take hours up on hours in a single session to build up enough man power to win a mission.

Honorable mentions - Space Quest 2, Zany Golf, Jeopardy, Goldrush, Blade Runner, Tender Loving Care, and Microsoft Golf.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The History Of Movies from A-Z: The Abyss

This is a semi-regular piece where I review my DVD collection in alphabetical order.    
This will take me approximately 38 years to get through.  Today, we look at The Abyss.

Where I bought this movie: Picked this one up in my Boston days.  Its one of those rare double DVD’s that came in a twice the width box.   What a waste of space.

* Why Own It?: This was James Cameron’s first attempt at showing his love affair of the ocean and what lies beneath (the second being Titanic).  Besides hearing it has a decent story, it was mainly for the cool sequence at the end where the water alien creatures take the shape of the crew’s faces.  I’m reading this last line back to myself and its no wonder cocaine was HUGE in the 80’s with screen writers coming up with ideas like that.

* Had I seen this movie before?: Twice (the last being in 2004), but the movie is so long that I forgot a lot of the minor details and subplots…which are actually pretty good.

* Time collecting dust: 12 years.

* What I thought of the movie: A very very good movie.  I don’t know what to call it…it’s a drama, but based on science fiction, so it’s a sci-fi drama I guess.  Since almost the entire movie takes place under water, it’s amazing how they filmed a lot of it.  It does make you think...the ocean is a HUGE untapped area so why not assume there are some alien creatures watching us from the deep below.  Of course all they see us doing is dropping bombs on each other so they decide to drop a few tidal waves around the Earth.

And the cast:   Great cast here.  Ed Harris is in his cranky prime as the leader of the crew trapped below.  Just a great performance (though his name Bud is a little corny).  Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (too long of a name if you ask me) is good too as the love interest and does her best to act like another James Cameron mainstay, Ellen Ripley from Aliens.  My favorite though is Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese in Terminator).  I love this guy and the character he plays (a guy slowly going insane) is awesome.  I’m a sucker for guys who slowly become ill or go insane and he pulls it off convincingly. There are some other memorable minor characters as well but those are the people you’d know.

Favorite Scenes:  1.)  Michael Biehn’s death scene (lots of pressure down there in the bottom of the ocean). 2.) The gooey pink liquid that Ed Harris has to ingest so he can breathe underwater.  3.) The entire CPR scene where Ed Harris tries to save his ex-wife…its riveting and I almost…ALMOST shed a tear.

Recommended?:   Yes.  This is James Cameron’s underrated movie.  Yes, it’s long but it’s worth the payoff at the end.  The special effects are very good and you can see some primitive ideas that he used later in Terminator 2 and The Titanic. 

Cut the BS about the movie, I just want to know if there is any nudity:  Yes, but it’s not very titillating.  You get to see Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s boobs but it’s only because they are trying to shock her back to life after she nearly drowns.  She has nice cold looking boobs though.

Previous Movie: A.I.
     Next Movie:  Adventureland

Friday, November 2, 2012

Terrible Songs To Blast At Full Volume While Driving Home From Work On A Friday - "Love Takes Time" by Mariah Carey

Its Friday and who doesn't get that extra adrenaline surge when they're driving that first mile from work...maybe going straight home, or maybe going a happy hour?  It's a great feeling and sometimes that feeling can be enhanced by a great song on the radio...a horribly great song.  This semi-regular Friday column talks about some of the songs that I have enjoyed at a very loud volume, sometimes even singing along to, during these drives. First up, "Love Takes Time" by Mariah Carey.

Mariah Carey has had two musical styles to her career.  There was the balladry pop side of Mariah which was from 1991-1996 ("Vision Of Love", "Emotions", and the entire "Unplugged" CD.  Then there was her urban side from 1997 and beyond (songs like "Honey". "Butterfly", "Dreamlover").  I'm a HUGE fan of the early days (ANYTIME YOU NEED A FRIEND...I WILL...BE HEEEEEEEEERE!!!) and this song is no exception.  I give you the brilliant "Love Takes Time".

I'm not going to do a running timecode commentary for these but instead, you should just let the music play for your enjoyment....at full volume.

Part that gives me those extra special douche chills: the first time Mariah hits that chorus at the 0:46 mark....mmmmmmm.

Enjoy the weekend everybody.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Garbage Pail Kid Of The Week - Sidney Kidney

This week's honorary Garbage Pail Kid is a pretty random one.  It's Sidney Kidney.  What's odd is that Garbage Pail Kids were mainly targeted at 8-12 years old.  How many 8-12 year olds know what a kidney is?  I know I sure didn't.  I knew two things about kidneys as a kid and they weren't about the vital internal organ....1.) I hated kidney beans and 2.) I loved when a boxer gave another boxer a "kidney shot".  That sounded awesome.

Anyway, lets take a look at this card.

So it appears that Sidney has filled his diaper with a sizable amount of urine and he still has to relieve himself.  Sidney does not appear to be aware that the bathroom door is double bolted shut.  We've all been there before having to go the bathroom so I feel for the little guy.  This is probably one of the more graphic depictions of a Garbage Pail Kid...but isn't that what made them so awesome?