Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Bandicoot Is Back

After a 10-year hiatus Crash Bandicoot returns on Friday as the first three games in the series have been remastered in a compilation known as the N. Sane Trilogy from Activision and Vicarious Visions. The first Crash Bandicoot game was developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony in 1996 for the original PlayStation. Until I started writing this I did not realize that there was at least one Crash game released every single year from 1996 through 2007 for a total of 18 games. That's a lot of Crash Bandicoot! Not every game is of the platform variety as some are spin-offs, including kart racers and a party game, and only four of the games are developed by Naughty Dog.

When Crash Bandicoot was created Naughty Dog was under contract to Universal Interactive so although the character was the face of the PlayStation and Sony published the first five Crash games, it was Universal Interactive that owned the character at that time, not Sony. Vivendi later acquired Universal Interactive's parent company in 2000 and then in 2007 merged with Activision to form Activision Blizzard, and thus Activision now owns Crash Bandicoot. While there hasn't been a Crash Bandicoot game released in 10 years, (Spoiler?) 2016's Uncharted 4 does feature a level of the original game. At this point I don't know if that's a spoiler but I won't go into any details about it, and it's obviously not a key plot point to Uncharted.

For magazine scans I've got four items. First up is an interview about Crash Bandicoot with Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin from a Next Generation magazine article about many popular game characters titled "A Question of Character." After that is a preview of the original game from a 1996 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Next Generation #46
Electronic Gaming Monthly #83

The only reviews I've got are both for Crash Bandicoot: Warped, the third game in the series. Next Generation and PSM said basically the same things about the game but one rated the game three stars and the other scored it a 4.5, both on a five point scale. In some issues of Next Generation you can find a list of past reviews that state the score and issue the review appeared in; if you're interested in scores I can tell you they rated the original three stars and the sequel four stars. Also, I didn't want to crop off the image of Crash in PSM so you'll find a Brave Fencer Musashi review as well.

Next Generation #49
PSM Issue 16, Vol. 2

(6/30) Slight update as I just remembered Crash did have another appearance not too long ago. He appeared in the Skylanders Imaginators: Crash Bandicoot Edition for PlayStation 3 and 4 last October.

Monday, June 26, 2017

June Update

June is just about over and I haven't had a whole lot of time to get enough done this month. I do have a couple items lined up for this week, though I still need to get images ready for the toy article. Yes, I actually have something for the toy section! Speaking of toys, and having already talked about the big video game convention so much, I thought it worth mentioning Hasbro is holding a convention in September called HASCON that looks like it could be fun. It's near the company's HQ in Rhode Island and is likely aimed at kids but for us older folks the voice actors of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Frank Welker) will be in attendance, as will Stan Lee. I'd like to attend though I don't expect I will as it's not too close to where I am now. Anyways, if you have kids or like Transformers and Star Wars toys I'm sure it would be worth checking out. I'd hope for a G.I. Joe presence as well though there is no mention of that on the HASCON website.

As for E3, the game news was fairly standard and the press conferences weren't too great. I posted some comments under the part one post summarizing how my predictions turned out (hint: not so good). Also, an update for the G.I. Joe video games post is that a new Micro Machines World Series trailer released last week and clearly shows that Cobra's H.I.S.S. tank will be a playable vehicle in the game. That releases this Friday and I'll definitely try it out when I get a chance. In other video game news, today Nintendo announced the Super NES Classic Edition will release on September 29th with 21 games built-in, including the never before released Star Fox 2. The NES Classic Edition was woefully under produced and left many fans unable to get one. Nintendo says the SNES edition will have a many more produced though it will also cost $20 more at $79.99. It does include two controllers, however, whereas the NES Classic Edition was packaged with only one.


I may look into doing something on Instagram soon because Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr are simply not enough. Of course, I'm still trying to get started with a YouTube channel as well so I'm probably spreading myself too thin but those social media accounts are supposed to generate blog traffic. While I did glance at Instagram back in January, I didn't know if it would be of any use. Last week I was shown that it's not only for smartphone users and a single image can generate a lot of visibility so maybe a few ad posts or toy pics will help attract more readers. I'll target July as the time to launch Instagram (next week) and YouTube accounts but as always YouTube is a slow work in progress. Look for the new video game post mid-week as it ties into a Friday release (not Micro Machines); that one will be the typical magazine scans. The toy post might not happen until the weekend and involves some original creations.

Before I go let me thank Kotaku for posting a photograph of mine in their JPGs section a few weeks ago and for being kind enough to drop a link back to the blog. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone noticed the link but it was still cool to make it on there. If you're not familiar with Kotaku it is a video game blog site with a strong focus on Japan. While I enjoy most of their articles, I should mention that its target audience is around ages 18 and up.

7/2 Update: It looks like Instagram is a no go. I was under the impression it could be used on a computer but the official app on PC is only for viewing ( I do not own a smartphone or tablet!). There are third-party programs that may work though Instagram may suspend accounts that use those. Perhaps they will add the functionality to upload images from a PC at some point in the future at which time I will try again.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Gaming Ads: Capcom U.S.A.

Capcom, its name a combination of the first three letters of the words capsule and computer, was founded in 1983 as the sales division of arcade manufacturer Sambi. Sambi itself is a result of a name change for I.R.M. Corporation and its subsidiary Japanese Capsule Computer in 1981. Capcom U.S.A. was established in 1985 while the Japan-based Capcom merged with its parent company Sambi in 1989.

The 1980s saw many hit arcade games from Capcom, including Commando, Ghosts 'N Goblins, 1942, Bionic Commando, Strider, and Final Fight. My memories of Capcom's 80's arcade games do include Commando, though I played more of the lesser known games, such as the very challenging shooter Gun.Smoke and vertically scrolling brawler Avengers. Street Fighter did release in 1987 but it wasn't until Street Fighter II hit in 1991 that the series really took off.

Along with its numerous home ports of arcade games, some of Capcom's biggest console series have been Mega Man, Resident Evil, and Devil May Cry. Of course, there are many other successful video games from Capcom as well, as it has developed and published hundreds of games throughout its history and continues to do so today.

Flickr album: Capcom U.S.A.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Gaming Ads: Camerica

Camerica was a Canadian company founded in 1988. It published games in North America for Codemasters during the 8-bit era as every one of the games it released is for the Nintendo Entertainment System, though without Nintendo's official seal of quality. We'll take a look at Codemasters in a few weeks where some of the same games will be seen, including the popular game Micro Machines that is based on the toys of the same name from Galoob.

A unique feature of Camerica's marketing is that it used a teenage game player to promote its games. While there were no eSports at the time, the Nintendo World Championships were held across the United States in 1990. Thor Aackerlund was named champion in his age group and shortly thereafter was hired as a spokesperson for Camerica. His photo, alongside positive quotations, appeared in many of the publisher's print advertisements.

Camerica also released a variety of game controllers and the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the Game Genie. 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.

Flickr album: Camerica

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gaming Ads: Bullet-Proof Software, Bullfrog Productions, and California Dreams

Bullet-Proof Software was founded in Japan by Dutch game designer Henk Rogers in 1983. Henk started the company to publish The Black Onyx, one of the first role-playing games developed in Japan. His company had close ties with Nintendo and Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov as well, publishing Yoshi's Cookie and a variety of Tetris games up until its closing in 2001.

Bullfrog Productions was a British developer founded by Les Edgar and Peter Molyneux in 1987. It made a name for itself developing innovative simulation and strategy games, such as Populous, Theme Park, Syndicate, and Dungeon Keeper. Electronic Arts published most of Bullfrog's games before acquiring the developer in 1995. Peter Molyneux left the company to found Lionhead Studios (Black & White, The Movies, Fable) in 1997 while Les Edgar left his management position but continued to work with the company as a consultant in 1999. Electronic Arts moved Bullfrog in 2000 and stopped using the studio's name in 2001. I only have two ads for Bullfrog though some of its titles do appear in multi-game ads from Electronic Arts.

California Dreams was a publishing brand used by Logical Design Works that released 10 computer games between 1987 and 1991. All of the ads I have for the publisher are on the small side as none of them were full page ads.

Flickr album: Bullet-Proof Software
Flickr album: Bullfrog Productions
Flickr album: California Dreams

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Week Before E3 Week: Part 3

America's Army had a big presence inside and outside the show.
In 2003 I attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for my employer with two co-workers and it was quite a good year to be there but we didn't get to attend any of the press conferences that take place at the beginning of E3 week as we arrived in California the day before the show opened. Let me also point out that I bought my first digital camera only months before the trip and had limited experience with film cameras before that. The camera used was a Canon PowerShot A40; it takes good pictures but my skills combined with the show floor not being too well lit led to average photos.

Many who have never attended E3 probably think it's all fun and games but it really isn't. Being there for work I had to meet with game companies, hand out business cards, and collect stacks of press kits. The show was spread out across the Los Angeles Convention Center and there was lots and lots of walking over the three day period too. Of course, there were games everywhere but the most popular games had long lines, not only to play, but sometimes simply for a demo viewing. If you work for a significant press outlet then you can probably skip the lines but I wasn't part of what the big publishers would consider important press so getting behind closed doors didn't happen. It's funny when I look back at the publishers who were very protective of allowing the lesser press to see their games. LucasArts was one of those companies and it is no longer in business. Sony Online wouldn't let me in either; it has since been sold and renamed.

The large PlayStation set up.
StarCraft: Ghost sighting at the Xbox booth.

Out of the three days I was there maybe two days worth of hours was spent doing the less than fun stuff or simply being too exhausted to do anything else. However, there certainly was fun to be had and I went for it when I had the time to do so. Some of the biggest games found at the the 2003 show included Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Metal Gear Solid 3 (running on screens located near some doorways -- bad placement as the area clogged up frequently), Guild Wars, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Gran Turismo 4, Soul Calibur II, Ninja Gaiden, Max Payne 2, and World of Warcraft (massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs, were everywhere). However, not all of them were playable and some could only be seen behind closed doors. The first Far Cry was also on display and the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was unveiled at the Sony press conference but I don't recall if it was on the show floor; it probably was but I did not play it. One thing I really didn't get to do was play many games. I recall playing a little Deus Ex: Invisible War and Hunter: The Reckoning but not much else.

Nice banner but the game was behind closed doors.
Blizzard showing off World of Warcraft.

Joe Madueira signing Exarch posters.
While I tried to get to the Half-Life 2 viewing (wasn't hands on), the lines were always way too long. When the doors opened quite a few of the attendees who looked too young to be at the show would run to Half-Life so the wait was always long. A lot of unprofessional people somehow get into E3 and with it opening to the public this year I can only imagine how challenging it will be to get to see the most popular games. I did stand in line to see the Halo 2 video despite not being a big fan -- I've only completed the first and fourth Halo games. The other line I managed to get through was for comic book artist Joe Madueira's autograph. He was promoting Exarch which is a MMO that never did get released. Jim Lee was another artist in attendance (promoting Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu) but I had other obligations and simply couldn't get to his line during the time he was signing. Some other folks I spotted around the show included actor Gary Coleman, Tommy Tallarico and Victor Lucas filming for the Judgment Day game review show, Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler dressed up most likely for their E3 awards segment of X-Play, and I believe I saw Will Wright quickly walk past.

Gary Coleman with his Postal 2 entourage.
The Valkyrie model was representing
the unreleased MMO Mythica.
Tommy Tallarico and Victor Lucas filming
an episode of Judgment Day.


I didn't get to see the game but I did get a Ninja Gaiden bag!
Also in the photo is my wrinkled, never worn Gran Turismo 4 t-shirt.
Tecmo caused quite a commotion at the 2003 show because of its Dead or Alive fashion show. Apparently it led to huge crowds that impacted the surrounding booths and I believe it was also a fire hazard to have so many people in one spot. The odd thing is that nothing was done until the very end of day three which is also when I decided to to see what was going on over at the Tecmo booth. Someone must have complained enough by that point that after the fashion show, just as the Ninja Gaiden video had begun, the power on Tecmo's booth was cut. That was disappointing and is really the perfect example (well, that and whatever ridiculous thing Eidos had going on in a boxing ring) of what E3 had become at that point. It started as a retail trade show and still is one but over the years it grew and grew, the Internet turned game fan-site admins and bloggers into press, and eventually it all got a bit out of control. Companies competed with one another to have the best booth with many hiring models to hand out swag and get people's attention. That might be what the public attending this year expects to see and perhaps they will, though I think it's at least a little more tame these days. The show's floor space has been slowly shrinking and publishers like Electronic Arts and Rockstar Games no longer attend E3, with EA doing its own thing nearby.

There were quite a few cars around the show.
These two are crashing for True Crime.
Remember the N-Gage? It was for sidetalking!
It also actually had more than 50 games released for it.

Vice City postcard book and Deus Ex mints along
with lots of stickers and postcards on top of a
Nintendo GameCube bag. 
Now, about that free swag. Many of those that attend E3 want free stuff and I got my fair share of that. My favorite is the aforementioned autograph by Joe Madueira (on a free Exarch poster) and my second favorite is a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City postcard book. I had a Mitsurugi Soul Calibur II t-shirt that I probably should have kept but I let a co-worker have it in exchange for a Gran Turismo 4 shirt. I also got lots of stickers, a couple key chains, Deus Ex mints (gave away my Tomb Raider mints), and other random junk. Overall, E3 was definitely something I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience though I really should have spent less time walking in circles and more time playing games. I imagine the second time someone attends they'd be better prepared to tackle the show in a much more organized manner. I've still got press credentials and am becoming a super popular blogger (I say sarcastically) so perhaps I'll have the chance to get back to E3 at least once more. Enjoy the show next week and good luck navigating the show floor if you're attending.

Sega had a variety of games two years
after exiting the hardware business.
(Destruction Derby and Hulk are another
booth.)
Nintendo rocked a soothing ceiling.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Week Before E3 Week: Part 2

Next Generation #55
For day two I'm highlighting Next Generation (NG) magazines's coverage of E3 1999. Next Generation is a computer and video game magazine that ran from 1995 to 2002. It was the primary magazine I read in the late '90s/early '00s, which is also the time frame myself and likely many others started using the Internet for video game news. The July 1999 cover features Soul Calibur as this issue released just a few months before the Dreamcast launched in the U.S. Excitement for the PlayStation 2 (PS2) was also building and Nintendo had just unveiled the GameCube, known at the time by the code name Dolphin.

With all of the new consoles just around the corner 1999 made for quite an interesting E3. There was a lot happening as E3 returned to Los Angeles after a two year stint in Atlanta. I'll do a little summarizing and add some of my own thoughts on each of the six scans as there is quite a bit here to take in.

Although Sony was dominating with the PlayStation, it sounds like it felt a little pressure from Nintendo's surprise (intentional) leak of the Dolphin specs. The PS2 was less than a year away from launching in Japan (March 4, 2000) but Next Generation says that a rumor was Sony didn't want to show off PS2 at all at this E3. However, after Nintendo made its last minute move Sony added a demo station showing off some PS2 games. Sega was the star of the show though with the aforementioned Dreamcast releasing exactly three months after E3 week. Three Dreamcast games -- NFL 2000 (NFL 2K), Soul Calibur, and Ready 2 Rumble -- were NG picks for bext in show and we now know two of those games turned out great, especially Soul Calibur. Ready 2 Rumble is a flashy game and being a launch title surely sold well, though it's not one of the games you hear many talk about when they discuss their favorite Dreamcast games (it was multi-platform too, unlike the other two).

NG also selected the Gran Turismo PS2 demo which must have been Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec which wouldn't release until 2001. The first Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PlayStation) was a hit at the show and would go on to be a very successful video game series. Other PlayStation choices include Dino Crisis, the survival horror hit from the same team as the original Resident Evil, and Crash Team Racing, a kart racer starring characters from the Crash Bandicoot series. Ultima: Ascension (Ultima IX) and Drakan were selected as best in show PC games. The final Ultima released in a buggy state to average reviews while Drakan was loved by some and is considered a good game overall.



NG's choice for best booth was Sierra which had Homeworld, SWAT 3, Orcs (set in Tolkien's Middle-earth universe), Tribes 2, Diablo II, and Team Fortress 2. Both Homeworld and SWAT 3 are great games while Orcs was ultimately cancelled. I'm surprised to see Tribes 2 here since the first game, StarSiege: Tribes, was released in late 1998. Developed by Dynamix, Tribes 2 wouldn't release until 2001 and required many patches but eventually it reached great status in my mind. As the article states, Diablo II isn't a Sierra game, however, Blizzard and Sierra shared the same parent company. Lastly is Team Fortress 2, a sequel to a Quake mod that was aiming to be a realistic military game. That game underwent many delays and changes, eventually being self-published by Valve in 2007 as a rather humorous game far from the original military theme. Interplay may have been NG's surprise of the show but the statement "Interplay may have been down, but it proved it's far from out." didn't hold true for very long. Titus acquired controlling interest in Interplay in 2000, its stock was de-listed by Nasdaq in 2002, and the company went into bankruptcy in 2004 (I should add a version of Interplay is currently in business, though it is far, far from what it once was). Worst of the show choice Daikatana is no surprise as John Romero's game failed miserably. Dreamcast exclusives D2 and Red Dog generally fall into the average range. NG's other choices were more about poor decisions than the games themselves; Shenmue turned out to be quite popular and the PlayStation was nearing its end as the PS2 was looming.

 

The one title on the "Conspicuously Missing" list that stands out is the infamous Duke Nukem Forever. Little did anyone know at the time that Duke Nukem Forever, which was first announced in 1997, would not be released until 2011! To summarize the first set of booth reports: Sony had a strong, if aging lineup; Sega was all about the Dreamcast of course; Nintendo had games from Rare and the Game Boy Color's Pokémon, plus they took a jab at Sega stating more Game Boys will sell in a month than Dreamcasts will by the end of the year; Ubisoft showed off a few games including Rayman 2 and a kayaking game called Wildwaters that never got released; LucasArts had Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine plus a bunch of Star Wars Episode I games; and Namco's showstopper was Soul Calibur. Continuing to the next page of booth reports: Acclaim focused on the South Park license; Crave Entertainment was banking on the Dreamcast with three launch titles; Konami also had a variety of Dreamcast titles and Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions; The 3DO Company primarily showed Army Men games; Electronic Arts displayed the soon-to-be-huge-hit The Sims, Motor City, and a variety of sports titles (EA had no Dreamcast games since it never did support the console); Midway's booth had Ready 2 Rumble, NFL Blitz 2000, Hydro Thunder, NBA Showtime, and Mortal Kombat Gold; Infogrames was showing a couple of Test Drive games and Slave Zero; Microsoft's big games were Age of Empires II, Motocross Madness 2, and Freelancer; and Eidos' booth featured worst of show game Daikatana which was offset by Deus Ex, Anachronox, and Omikron.

As mentioned at the start of the post, Nintendo chose to reveal the specs for the GameCube, here being referred to by the Dolphin code name. GameCube turned out to be a rather unique console with its small size, featuring a handle to make it somewhat portable, a gamepad that had buttons of different shapes and sizes, and it played small game discs. Although there is no mention of the original Xbox at this E3, it released just three days before the GameCube in November 2001. The PlayStation 2 would be the primary competition as it was already dominating the market following its October 26, 2000 U.S. release. Sadly, despite some great games, we know the Dreamcast didn't last very long as Sega announced in January 2001 that they'd be discontinuing the system at the end of March 2001.



Monday, June 5, 2017

The Week Before E3 Week: Part 1

Next week is the 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) and this week we'll take a look back at Next Generation magazine's recap of the 1999 show (Wednesday) and my time at the 2003 show (Friday). This year's show is actually open to the public for the first time. The tickets were a bit expensive but they did manage to sell out of all 15,000 that were available. I'm curious to see how that goes because as I'll mention on Friday, the show may not be exactly what the public expects and there's a good chance that the professionals attending for work will have a more difficult time getting hands on time, and thus the press coverage from the smaller outlets may suffer.

Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 2003

Now I'll kick off the week before E3 week by attempting to make some predictions for fun:

Activision
Activision has already revealed Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny 2. Although Spyro appears in Skylanders, that series is taking the year off so I'm going to guess there will be something else with the character similar to the upcoming Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Also, it's not much of a secret but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will almost certainly be getting a solo retail release ($49.99). That will probably be announced during the Sony press conference and release that day for PlayStation 4 and a month later for Xbox One and PC.

New Game Predictions: Spyro the Dragon remaster
Retro Long Shot: new version of Pitfall

Bethesda
Bethesda has a press conference and hinted at two new games, possibly original properties. Another Elder Scrolls must be in development but I don't know if Bethesda would want to overshadow the Switch release of Skyrim coming later this year so I could see the publisher waiting until next year for an unveiling of a new entry in the series.

New Game Predictions: Wolfenstein, at least one original property
Early Long Shot: The Elder Scrolls VI

Electronic Arts (EA)
EA isn't technically at E3 anymore but it does set up its own thing nearby and holds a press conference. I'm not expecting much in the way of original properties here and it probably already announced just about everything ahead of time (FIFA 18, Madden 18, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Need for Speed Payback). Maybe there will be a trailer for the Star Wars game in development at EA's Motive studio but that's not a new announcement either. Is Dead Space 4 in development? That's been rumored on and off. EA Sports could return to boxing and although highly unlikely, I'd like to see another college football or MLB game.

New Game Predictions: Dragon Age 4
Lester's Long Shot: Skate or Die 30th Anniversary Edition (I was going to guess Skate 4 but this is more fun!)

Microsoft
The Scorpio version of Xbox One will be the main event with Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, and State of Decay 2 being the primary games we know of. A reveal of Forza Motorsport 7 and Gears of War 5 seem likely as those are definite games at some point in the future. The Xbox One needs more exclusives and the old properties are wearing thin so I'll guess there will be at least one original game and one revival of an older property. Microsoft is the most difficult to predict as it is most in need of exclusives but doesn't have as large of a back catalog to draw from or as many in-house development studios as the other console makers have. Perhaps it will do another one of those deals like it did for Rise of the Tomb Raider or maybe purchase IO Interactive to acquire the Hitman series? Agent 47 would be right at home with Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, though the Xbox brand could use some characters with personality.

New Game Predictions: Forza Motorsport 7, Gears of War 5, original property
Long Time, No Siege Shot: Age of Empires IV (highly unlikely but possibly the best older franchise they own), Hitman acquisition

Nintendo
Nintendo already announced a 2DS XL is coming in July, and we know the Switch is getting Splatoon 2 in July and Super Mario Odyssey before the end of the year. It might be too early for a Switch Smash Bros. but an announcement doesn't mean a game will be out this year or even next. If Nintendo announces a new Metroid will it be for Switch or 3DS? Although the 2DS XL isn't new in the sense that it is part of the same family as all of the other 3DS and 2DS handhelds, Nintendo may want a new game to help push sales of the 2DS XL.

New Game Predictions: Smash Bros. (Switch), Pokémon (Switch),
Alienating Long Shot: Metroid (2DS/3DS)

Sony
Sony has quite a few games in development that were announced at the 2016 E3 or earlier that are still a ways off (Gran Turismo Sport, Spider-Man, Days Gone, God of War, The Last of Us 2, Death Stranding, Detroit, Wild). Plus Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Everybody's Golf will be out in a couple months. Could Sony really be working on more than that? Sony probably has at least a couple titles in development for PlayStation VR and something for PlayStation 4 (PS4). It really doesn't need anything else immediately for PS4 though, with the aforementioned games and the strong support the platform receives from third-party Japanese companies.

New Game Prediction: Ape Escape VR, Another VR Shooter
Sneaky Long Shot: Syphon Filter

Ubisoft
Assassin's Creed took last year off and there have been some leaks about the next one being in Egypt so I won't predict that since it's about as official as it can be without actually being officially unveiled. We also already know about Just Dance 2018, The Crew 2, Far Cry 5, and a Rabbids + Mario Switch game.

New Game Predictions: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia
Cobra La-La-La-La-La Long Shot: G.I. Joe (I just want someone to make a new Joe game one of these days!)

Here are a few other random guesses from the publishers I didn't get to: LEGO Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Borderlands 3, Tomb Raider 3, and the next Game of Thrones from Telltale. What I want to see is for Sega to announce Shenmue I & II HD remasters for PC. I'm not someone that typically plays remasters but I need to replay Shenmue before the third game (which is probably a long ways off) and in the U.S. we never got the first two on the same platform so it would be nice to replay them with the ability to play the sequel using the first game's save file.

This article really needs more images so here is a photo of the 1998 show's daily magazines. At every E3 there is a show daily handed out to attendees each of the three days; they used to be over-sized but more recently they've shrunk closer to a standard magazine.

E3 1998 Show Daily

This year Microsoft moved its press conference up to Sunday because they like to be first but it isn't first if Electronic Arts counts as being part of E3. Here is the current schedule:

Electronic Arts - Saturday, June 10th @ 3 PM EDT
Microsoft - Sunday, June 11th @ 5 PM EDT
Bethesda - Monday, June 12th @ 12 AM EDT (Yes, it is at midnight for some of us; 9 PM Sunday for the West Coast)
PC Gaming Show - Monday, June 12th @ 1 PM EDT
Ubisoft - Monday, June 12th @ 4 PM EDT
Sony - Monday, June 12th @ 9 PM EDT
Nintendo - Tuesday, June 13th @ 12 PM EDT (not a conference; live stream event)

The streams can typically be found on YouTube, Twitch, and many of the major video game media websites.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Gaming Ads: Black Pearl Software, Blizzard Entertainment, Bondwell, and Broderbund Software

This week has a couple big name publishers but only 15 ads overall between the four companies. Black Pearl Software was acquired by THQ in 1993 and used as a publishing brand for the company. It published a number of 16-bit games and many handheld ports of console games, such as Madden 96, Shaq Fu, and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Blizzard Entertainment was originally known as Silicon & Synapse when it was founded in 1991 and often worked with Interplay in its early years. Before being acquired by Davidson & Associates and changing its name to Blizzard in 1994, Silicon & Synapse's best known games were The Lost Vikings and Rock 'n Roll Racing. Four other companies purchased the developer over the years and it became part of Activision Blizzard following Activision's merger with Vivendi's games division in 2008. Blizzard continues to develop for its three biggest franchises, StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo, and last year launched the very successful online shooter Overwatch. While I only have one ad for the Blizzard album, a few of the games it developed do have ads under other publishers.

Bondwell was an accessory maker that acquired the QuickShot brand in the mid-'80s. It released a variety of game controllers for both home computers and video game consoles.

Founded in 1980, Broderbund Software was a major developer and publisher of home computer software during the '80s and '90s. Broderbund found success in both games and non-gaming software, such as The Print Shop and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. It created one of the biggest game franchises in Carmen Sandiego which even became a television game show for kids from 1991-1995. Other significant games from Broderbund include Karateka, Prince of Persia, Choplifter, and Lode Runner. It also published Will Wright's (SimCity, The Sims) first game Raid on Bungeling Bay. In 1998 Broderbund was acquired by The Learning Company and then proceeded to change hands many times over the next five years with portions of the company being owned by Mattel and Ubisoft at one time. Ubisoft now owns the Prince of Persia property while what remains of Broderbund continues to operate as part of Encore Software.

Flickr album: Black Pearl Software
Flickr album: Blizzard Entertainment
Flickr album: Bondwell
Flickr album: Broderbund Software