Saturday, December 30, 2017

Gaming Ads: GameTek

Founded in 1987, GameTek was based in Florida and, as I mentioned back in the CyberSoft ads post, was a subsidiary of I.J.E. GameTek published a variety of games but is perhaps best known for its titles based on television game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!, The Price Is Right, and even Double Dare and American Gladiators. I also made a brief mention of GameTek in the Fisher-Price ads post as it distributed a line of Fisher-Price-branded software titles. In 1997 GameTek filed for bankruptcy and it closed in 1998.

Flickr album: GameTek

Sunday, December 24, 2017

[YouTube] Star Wars Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments: The Original Trilogy

It's the holiday season and a new Star Wars movie is out so it's a great time for some Star Wars ornaments! I was planning this as a three-part series with videos that featured every ornament but after recording the first two I decided they were too boring. Instead I'm splitting this into a two part series with the original trilogy now and the prequel trilogy in two weeks. There will be short videos for both that only include the lights and/or sounds ornaments. All of the ornaments are from Hallmark's Keepsake series which typically have nice sculpts and the Star Wars ornaments are no exception. The series began in 1996 with the release of the Millennium Falcon and a pack of three miniatures (AT-AT, TIE Fighter, X-wing) while 1997 saw the release of Luke Skywalker, miniatures of C-3PO & R2-D2, Yoda, and Darth Vader. I've got a few from the first couple of years though most of my ornaments are from 1998 and 1999. Unfortunately, I do not have any Luke (outside of his head in the regular X-wing) or C-3PO who didn't receive a full size ornament until 2003.

Many of the ornaments make great display pieces as well since they'll often stand on their own. Boba Fett is the only one in this group that cannot stand which is why his photos are a little different than the others. Also, any ornament that plugs into a strand of Christmas lights has a wire coming out of it that, depending on where the wire is protruding from, may prevent it from sitting flat on a table. While scale may be difficult to determine in the photos, most are in the 3-5 inch range, though the Ewoks are miniatures which are much smaller than the others.

Millennium Falcon (1996)


The Falcon plugs into a strand of lights
to light up the cockpit, top hatch, and...

...the thrusters!

Yoda (1997)


Darth Vader (1997)


Darth Vader plugs into a strand of lights to light up the yellow
base and his lightsaber, though the saber isn't very bright. He
also speaks a few lines of movie dialog from his duel with
Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.

Princess Leia (1998)


Boba Fett (1998)


Boba Fett has a fabric cape.

Ewoks (1998)


Star Wars Lunch Box (1998)




X-wing (1998)


The X-wing plugs into a strand of lights to light up the engine pods.

Han Solo (1999)

Chewbacca (1999)


Darth Vader's TIE Fighter (1999)



The TIE plugs into a strand of lights that light up the cockpit
and laser cannons.

Stormtrooper (2000)


Obi-Wan Kenobi (2000)


R2-D2 (2001)


R2-D2 is powered by two 1.5V button-cell batteries. He makes
his typical astromech droid beeping sounds.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Gaming Ads: GameStar

GameStar was founded by Scott Orr in 1982 and sold to Activision in 1986. It specialized in sports games, developing and publishing at least one tennis, boxing, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, wrestling, and racing game. While GameStar might not be too well known today, Scott Orr is as he was contracted to re-design the first John Madden Football game for Sega Genesis. Of course, that game was a huge success and Electronic Arts hired him shortly after that where he worked on many EA Sports games before leaving the company in 2001.

Flickr album: GameStar

Monday, December 18, 2017

Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary

Although I generally stick to the U.S. release dates for posts regarding game anniversaries, Square Enix is celebrating Final Fantasy's 30th anniversary worldwide this year so I'm going with it. The first Final Fantasy released in Japan on December 18, 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. However, it did not reach the North American market until 1990 which is quite a long wait. Despite the game's significance today, I could only find one review of the game in my magazines.

That review is from Video Games & Computer Entertainment and it actually makes no mention of the game's developer Square, instead crediting publisher Nintendo. When I was younger I didn't have a lot of knowledge of game developers and perhaps that is because magazines primarily mentioned publishers more often than developers. It wasn't until the rise of the Internet and my work on a game database that I learned much more about who is making the games I play. I had to piece the review together from a couple pages and that cut off screenshot is from another game.

Video Games & Computer Entertainment - November 1990

I scanned a review of Final Fantasy III from Electronic Gaming Monthly as well just to have some more content here. Following the first game in the series, the Final Fantasy games are numbered differently in North America which can be a bit confusing. What we received as Final Fantasy III is actually Final Fantasy VI in Japan. This put the series into the same release time frame for both regions as it released in Japan and North America for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994.

Electronic Gaming Monthly #63

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gaming Ads: Fujitsu Interactive and Galoob

Fujitsu was founded in Japan in 1935 and is still in business today but is not involved in gaming any longer. It made Japan's first computer in 1954 and during the '80s manufactured its well known FM (Fujitsu Micro) series of computers, and continued the FM Towns system through most of the '90s. While Fujitsu Interactive published many games in Japan for its own computers, it also had a branch in San Francisco to distribute games in North America. However, I cannot find any games in that market beyond the one I have an ad for that Fujitsu was involved in. The ad is for Battle Arena Toshinden 2 for Windows 95, and the company GameBank also appears on the ad. GameBank helped Microsoft bring Windows 95 games to Japan.

Founded in 1957 as Lewis Galoob Toys, Galoob is primarily a toy company as the name would suggest and is today part of Hasbro. I previously mentioned Galoob in the Camerica and Codemasters ad posts as its primary involvement in video games was as a distributor of the Game Genie in North America. I'll repeat some of the Camerica post about the Game Genie here since it is relevant:

The Game Genie was a device created by Codemasters that allowed users to alter their video games with cheat codes. Nintendo viewed the device as a copyright violation and sued both Camerica and its U.S. distributor Galoob. During the lawsuit sales were halted in the U.S. but not in Canada which is what the ad you'll see thanking Canada is in regards to. Ultimately, Nintendo lost the lawsuit and Galoob would go on to release Game Genies for the Super NES and Game Boy as well.

The Canada ad mentioned in the quote can be found in the Camerica ads album. Not surprisingly, all seven of the Galoob ads I have are for the Game Genie.

Flickr album: Fujitsu Interactive
Flickr album: Galoob

Friday, December 15, 2017

December Update

As Vault 1541 approaches its one year anniversary this is the 100th post! Last week I renewed the URL for two more years so I'll be sticking around for a while, or at least the blog will be available for that long. I don't plan on going anywhere but it's hard to say what the future holds. After having a week of posts for DC Comics the week the Justice League movie released I'm disappointed I couldn't do the same for Star Wars. The new movie came up on me quick and then the weather this week has kept me a bit busy as I've had to shovel snow 10 times between two properties over a six day span.

I couldn't find a good #100 image so here is some snow. This is a
Star Wars Galaxy trading card from 1993; the artist is Geof Darrow.

Last night I played the free campaign extension for Star Wars: Battlefront II which quickly ended any speculation of what the game's epilogue meant. I was vague when I talked about it last month as I stated it seemed unlikely that a video game would be the reveal of such big news in regards to the new movie trilogy. I'm not sure if it's a spoiler to mention it now though I don't think it is, however, I'll still stay as vague as possible. The epilogue of the game involves Kylo Ren and some thought it could be revealing who Rey's parents are but with The Last Jedi now in theaters, that part of the epilogue is irrelevant and has little impact in regards to the film. I've no idea why the game did that as it seems completely unnecessary now.

This morning I did see The Last Jedi and I'm still unsure what to make of everything in it. Leading up to the release of the movie I avoided all but the very first trailer, though I had seen some photos of Porgs. While the Porg humor isn't great, I could have lived with it if it was kept on the island but it is not. In fact, there are more than a few attempts at humor that I could have done without. I'm not saying I don't like some humor; some of the dialog is funny but some also seems out of place. The audience at my theater had people that were laughing loudly though I wasn't one of them. My biggest problems with the movie is what happens with the Resistance fleet (can't say much without spoilers) and the overuse of the Force. The story relies heavily on pushing the limits of just what is capable with the Force. I know it's science fiction with an emphasis on fiction so I'll go along with it as best I can. Also, since it is Star Wars I'll still mostly like it though I wouldn't say it's amazing and I'd still put all three of the original trilogy movies at the top.