Saturday, May 27, 2017

Gaming Ads: Beeshu, Bethesda Softworks, and Bignet U.S.A.

First up today is an accessory company named Beeshu that went out of business in 1995. It made many colorful controllers for 8-bit and 16-bit consoles, as well as home computers. Nothing really too exciting as few game accessory makers are. Next is a game developer and publisher that anyone who enjoys video games today should know well.

Bethesda Softworks was founded in 1986 and is based in Bethesda, Maryland, hence the company name. When one thinks of Bethesda they surely think of The Elder Scrolls as that's its longest running game series having started in 1994 with the release of The Elder Scrolls: Arena. It's also now known for Fallout since licensing the property from Interplay for Fallout 3 and later acquiring it outright following a legal battle. However, before Bethesda was known for its role-playing games, it actually created a number of sports games and the single ad I've got is for a college basketball game. I'm disappointed I don't have more ads too but many magazines of the early '90s focus on consoles and Bethesda only released computer games until 1999. Bethesda publishes id Software (Doom, Quake) games now as well since its parent company ZeniMax acquired the developer in 2009.

Lastly is Bignet U.S.A., a distributor for Japanese company Micronet Co., Ltd. established in July 1990. There isn't much to say about Bignet but it is the company responsible for the ads which is why I'm putting the album in its name. Micronet was founded in October 1982 and has developed games for a variety of genres and platforms. While Micronet is still in business as a software developer, the last game it released was Marionette Handler 2 for the Sega Dreamcast in 2000.

Flickr album: Beeshu
Flickr album: Bethesda Softworks
Flickr album: Bignet U.S.A.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Gaming Ads: Bandai America


Bandai is a Japanese company founded in 1950 with Bandai America opening in 1978. Before video games Bandai sold toys and model kits, such as the Gundam models of the '80s. Some other notable and more recent toys from Bandai include Power Rangers action figures and Tamagotchi digital pets. Bandai got into the video game business in the late '70s and had quite an impact on the industry over the years. Aside from developing and publishing numerous games, it also created the Family Fun Fitness mat controller (and the rare Stadium Events game) for the Nintendo Entertainment System that North American audiences know as the Power Pad. It even took part in the development of the short-lived Pippin system with Apple and released its own handheld platform in Japan called WonderSwan (and later upgraded to WonderSwan Color).

Bandai still makes toys but in the video game world it is known today as Bandai Namco Entertainment. In 2005 Bandai merged with video game giant Namco, makers of such classics as Pac-Man, Galaga, and Pole Position. The company names from that merger have changed a few times and depending on the region each branch was based could be referred to as Bandai Namco Games or Namco Bandai Games before switching to the aforementioned Bandai Namco Entertainment on April 1, 2015.

Flickr album: Bandai America

Monday, May 15, 2017

May Update

Last time I wrote an update was in March when I was looking forward to Mass Effect: Andromeda. I did play and complete Andromeda in a little more than 80 hours. While I encountered a few bugs, nothing bothered me too much even though some of the animations did look funny (possibly patched away by now). Overall it is more Mass Effect: fly around space, land on planets, talk to people, and shoot the bad guys. I found it entertaining though there are a couple of things that I didn't like. One is that Ryder can never be too threatening (just a jerk) -- nothing like when the original trilogy's Shepard used renegade dialog choices -- so don't expect to be able play the game like that. Another is that a major plot point is left unresolved. If it's setting up a sequel then I suppose it could be acceptable but I'm concerned they will place it in downloadable content (DLC) and I rarely play DLC. I'm trying to avoid spoilers so I won't say too much else on it; it's just the way that part of the story was introduced around the middle of the game I kept expecting to investigate it and the fact that I never got the chance to annoys me. There are two other story elements that I believe will definitely be sold as DLC so I'll probably miss out on those.

Since finishing Mass Effect once, and briefly playing a second character with the new game plus option, I've mostly been playing Forza Horizon 3 (FH3) again when I've had time to. I did reach the credits for FH3 back in December though there is so much content in the game I'm not certain anyone will want to do everything (I'm at 40% completion). You actually don't have to always race if you don't want to. Instead it can be more fun to drive around looking for boards (bonus XP and fast travel savings) to hit and PR stunts to complete. PR stunts involve driving as fast as you can, drifting, and launching your vehicle off of ramps. There are tools for making car designs as well, though you need patience for anything elaborate. I made a Cobra logo from the G.I. Joe franchise and have placed that on a bunch of cars. It's not perfect but from a distance it looks good enough. While I don't like having a lot of images on my cars, there are some very impressive designs by other players. The Forza Horizon series is my favorite of what little Microsoft publishes and it's a beautiful series to take in-game screenshots of. Here are some of those Cobra designs (if you ever use Blogger let me warn you that lining up images the way you want can be maddening!):

Storm Shadow (I jumped off a cliff
while moving sideways)
Basic Cobra color scheme, though
I refer to this one as Baroness. 
Eels
Major Bludd

Trubble Bubble
B.A.T.S.

Alright, to the blog update. Looks like the comments I've received thus far are spam and here I thought someone actually had something nice to say. The statistics Blogger provides indicates that I do get some views on each post from a variety of countries but mostly from the United States of which a majority of those are probably myself (just now added something to Chrome to block myself). Feel free to post a comment even if it is just to say hi! I've not advertised or even told too many people I know about the blog so it's not surprising the web traffic isn't very big right now. I was waiting until I had a fair amount of content and maybe it is at that point now. I've not written a whole lot either as I post more scans than anything else but as I stated in the About section, the video game magazines were the inspiration to start a blog. I'm also still considering a YouTube channel for a few things.

E3 wasn't always in L.A.
Aside from the usual Saturday morning ad updates I'm also planning an upcoming post about my one visit to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which was all the way back in 2003. The 2017 E3 begins on June 13th with the press conferences taking place the few days before. E3 doesn't typically have as many surprises as it used to due to online leaks, yet it's still one of the most exciting weeks for those of us that like video games a little too much. Watching (and analyzing) the press conferences and absorbing all of the game news in that one week is great. It's too bad Nintendo doesn't still do a press conference; it has been releasing prerecorded video presentations followed by live streams since 2013. Nintendo has the newest console and recently announced the New 2DS XL so it seems like a great time to try a press conference. Oh well.

I'll look into posting an article or two from the '90s as well if I have any. E3 began in 1995 which is a little after most of my magazines. However, I do have some of the Show Daily magazines that are handed out each day at E3. The older ones are over-sized and don't fit on my scanner which makes getting ads from them a pain. Scanning text is easier though since it doesn't all have to be pieced together perfectly. The plan is to post the week before E3 because I'll be too busy reading about all of the new games the week of E3 like everyone else!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Gaming Ads: Acclaim (Multiple Brands), Balistic Software, and Ballistic

Before I put a cap on the "A" publishers I'm revisiting Acclaim. Acclaim had a few subsidiaries and brands, and some ads feature two or more of them. While I could have copied them to every publisher in each ad, I decided to place them in one grouped album. The publishers involved are Acclaim, Arena Entertainment, Flying Edge, and LJN. Arena was another we've already taken a look at and we'll see the other two in their own albums later.

Next are two very similarly named companies, one being a brand of another big publisher we've already seen. First is Balistic Software, a publisher I know nothing about beyond the single ad I've got that's of a role-playing game for the Commodore 64.

The other Ballistic was a publishing brand used by Accolade from 1991-1994 primarily to get around the licensing contract it had with Nintendo. Nintendo blocked most publishers that wanted to release games for the Nintendo Entertainment System from releasing games on competing platforms so some publishers simply created another publishing brand to do so (like the aforementioned Acclaim and Flying Edge). None of the Sega Genesis games from Ballistic carried Sega's official seal of approval which led to a legal battle between the two. Ballistic was dissolved shortly after that was resolved with future releases carrying only the Accolade name.

Flickr album: Acclaim (Multiple Brands)
Flickr album: Balistic Software
Flickr album: Ballistic

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Gaming Ads: Aura Systems and Avalon Hill

This week there aren't too many ads. Up first is Aura Systems, a company that made the Interactor vest that works with the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Aura calls it "Virtual Reality Game Wear" which is a way of saying it makes players feel more like they are in the game. It's basically a device you wear that provides vibration feedback and having released in 1994 it does predate Nintendo's Rumble Pak and Microsoft's Force Feedback controllers. Similar technology was used in arcades but the Interactor is likely one of the earliest home devices to add vibration feedback to games.

Avalon Hill began as The Avalon Game Company in 1954 as a maker of strategical board games. It was acquired by Monarch in 1971 and started a computer games division in the early '80s. Toy maker Hasbro purchased Avalon Hill from Monarch in 1998 and it currently operates under Hasbro's subsidiary Wizards of the Coast. While Avalon Hill made many war games in the '80s, the only two ads I have involve its sports titles.

Flickr album: Aura Systems
Flickr album: Avalon Hill