Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Marvel + Hostess = Superhero Sweetness

As I mentioned in the monthly update, to sort of tie in with the release of the new Avengers film this week I was going to try and scan a few Hostess ads featuring characters from Marvel Comics, and I ended up with more than a few as I found six more for a total of 10. They're a fun read as each ad is designed to look like a page from a comic book. The copyrights range from 1975-1981 and in most of them are ads for Fruit Pies or Twinkies, though one has Cupcakes. A couple of them are from the backs of comic book covers which is nicer paper so they scanned better than the others that were on the lesser paper from the interiors so there is some yellowing going on despite my edits. I'll ad these to the Vault 1541 Facebook page as well if you'd like to share them from there. Enjoy!






6/4/18 UPDATE: I found another Marvel Hostess ad and I also learned that Hostess made similar ads featuring DC Comics characters so I'll have to see I have any of those some time.

The Games That Shaped Video and Computer Entertainment (VG&CE - December 1989)

This is a six-page article that appeared in the December 1989 issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment (VG&CE) magazine. I came across it shortly after Game Informer (GI) released its top 300 games list and I thought it would be interesting to see what a magazine thought were the important games nearly 30 years earlier. Of course, GI's list, which I wrote a little about here, is a mix of staff favorites, well reviewed games, and those that are historically significant, whereas VG&CE's article is not the writer's favorite games or best selling games, simply games that had the biggest impact on the industry (through 1989 which for consoles is around the time the 16-bit generation hit North America).

If you don't want to read the whole article, I'll list the 12 games below. However, you might not understand all of VG&CE's choices without reading it. There are the usual arcade classics and early computer games but there is also a very odd choice at #8.

 

 

 

  1. Pong
  2. Space Invaders
  3. Pac-Man
  4. Defender
  5. Zork
  6. Flight Simultor
  7. Wizardry
  8. Smurf Rescue
  9. Miner 2049er
  10. Impossible Mission
  11. Micro League Baseball
  12. Defender of the Crown
If you're curious, the GI list includes half of VG&CE's choices: Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Defender, Zork, and Wizardry.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Year 2: April Update

Since my last update I posted the usual ads, a short write up about Game Informer's top 300 list and my favorite games, had a week of baseball posts, and made some wrestling videos about the LJN toys and other WWF stuff (mostly books). I also did decide to go ahead and expand the commercials on the YouTube channel, and today uploaded one for the Air Raiders from Hasbro:


The big game news for myself is that Sega announced Shenmue I & II are going to be released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One later this year. It's something I've been waiting quite a while for and mentioned it last year as a possible game to be unveiled at 2017's E3. Normally I don't play re-releases of old games if I've played the original but Shenmue is a favorite of mine and this will be the first time both games will appear on a single platform in the U.S. That's significant in that progress could be carried over between the games in other regions where both games were released on Dreamcast; we got Shenmue II only on the original Xbox here in North America. The next E3 is less than two months away so game announcements and leaks will be ramping up for a bit.


April has also brought some big video game releases that have grabbed my attention, though as usual most are M-rated so I won't talk too much about them. I completed Far Cry 5 which plays and looks great. I wasn't too interested in the story, however, and think Far Cry 4 is better in that regard. I'm playing Yakuza 6 now and am in chapter 8 out of 12 I believe. I'd say Yakuza 0 is better, mostly because the sub stories were more outrageous (at least so far) and Majima is a fun character to play as. God of War is a series I've barely touched, only trying a few of them for a short time. The protagonist Kratos just didn't appeal to me; however, the one released last week is getting very high praise so I feel compelled to check it out when I have time.

MLB: The Show 18 is another one I've put a fair amount of time into. Road to the Show mode is what I play the most of and for that I created myself as a pitcher and the G.I. Joe Wilmer "Hardball" Duggleby as a center fielder (I posted about Hardball during baseball week here). I hadn't been taking screenshots but here are a couple of the trophy auto-pics the PS4 took:


Unfortunately, I'm not likely going to be able to make a video this week either as some family stuff has come up. That might also cause me to miss the next game ads post which would be my first miss since I started the blog. It's possible I'll manage to post it as my weekend plans are still up in the air a bit. I do have a video game magazine article post ready to go for Tuesday. With the new Avengers movie coming out this week I should have got a Marvel video ready but I've been sidetracked by other things lately, including playing too many video games. Sorry! That being said, I don't think my DC Comics week was very popular so I probably didn't do a good job with that. Oh well, maybe I can at least get a few scans together as I noticed some good Marvel/Hostess ads in some comic books recently.

-Jonathan

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Gaming Ads: JVC Musical Industries

JVC was founded in 1927 as a subsidiary of the Victor Talking Company, an American record company. After a merger with RCA, it was known as RCA Victor but when the two split it became Victor Company of Japan which is what JVC stands for; VCJ would make more sense but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it. The branch that would become a video game publisher, at least for a short time, was founded in 1972 as Victor Musical Industries.

While it was created as an audio business, JVC Musical Industries published video games from 1990 to 1996. It released more than 25 games in that span, including a variety of Star Wars console games through a partnership with Lucasfilm Games (aka LucasArts) which was primarily a computer game company at the time. Some other Lucas games from JVC include The Secret of Monkey Island (Sega CD), Defenders of Dynatron City (NES), Ghoul Patrol (SNES), and Indiana Jones' Greatest Adventures (SNES).

Also of note is that JVC brought the Wondermega to the U.S. in 1994 as the X'Eye Multi Entertainment System. The X'Eye is essentially a Sega Genesis and Sega CD combined into a single console. It plays all of the software of the Sega consoles but also has additional features and unique software, such as Top Hits Karaoke and Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia which were included with the console. The Sega CD game Prize Fighter was also bundled with the X'Eye.

Flickr album: JVC Musical Industries

Sunday, April 15, 2018

All-Time Game Lists

I started posting at Game Informer's (GI) website recently as an attempt to attract a little more traffic to this blog and so I wrote a bit about the magazine's top 300 games list that was published in GI's 300th issue and decided to add some thoughts here. Obviously lists like this will be subjective, though I still found it to be rather disappointing. The list favored modern games over 30-year-old games and JRPGs that appeared on Nintendo and Sony platforms. Being someone who grew up with Sega consoles and RPGs on the Commodore 64, I simply cannot relate very well to GI's list.

Admittedly, putting an all-time list together is quite difficult as I struggled to make my own favorite 100 games list. Personally I keep a list of favorite games per platform which is much easier to do and at the very least, I'd say it's better to make separate lists for decades or split the list somewhere in the '90s, when games transitioned from 2D to 3D and the console format went from cartridges to CD-ROMs. When making my own list I found it quite difficult to rank a Genesis game versus a PlayStation 4 game, and impossible to compare classic arcade games from the '80s to modern day games that feature realistic graphics and voice acting. The modern games are more memorable in part because they would be more recently played but also because they can have more of an emotional impact on the player.

While GI did choose games from two series of games from my top 10 list (NHL Hockey and Sid Meier's Civilization), none of my top 10 favorites of all time appear anywhere on their top 300. The most puzzling omission is Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987) as that is an amazing game for its time and is still fun today, and it got an update in 2004. It's an open world game where you are a pirate and basically do what you want as you can ally with any one of four nations, sink enemy ships, invade towns by sea or land, search for treasure, and even get married. Another game that I feel is deserving is StarSiege: Tribes. Normally I have a hard time selecting online-only games for a top list but the Tribes series -- specifically the first two from developer Dynamix -- are too significant to overlook despite not being as popular as games like Quake and Unreal Tournament.

The first Tribes (1998) is an online shooter with jetpacks and large, wide open maps when most shooters of the '90s were still focused on combat in tight spaces. It also has the chat program IRC built into it and a great server browser to help players find teams and organize matches. Tribes 2 added a built-in community with team management, email, news, video recording, and voice chat (didn't work well but it was an early attempt). Fans of the game even created an application called T2TV that was used to stream matches and had people shoutcasting. These games were made for online competition and did things better than many of today's games vying for the eSports spotlight do. I'll write more about Tribes later this year as December marks its 20th anniversary.

Here are my top 50 but the rankings beyond the top 20 or so don't really matter much; they're simply games I enjoyed or still enjoy playing:
  1. Sid Meier's Pirates! (Commodore 64)
  2. StarSiege: Tribes (PC)
  3. Sid Meier's Civilization II (PC)
  4. AD&D: Pool of Radiance (Commodore 64)
  5. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)
  6. Wasteland (Commodore 64)
  7. Shenmue (Dreamcast)
  8. NHL Hockey (Genesis)
  9. Utopia (Intellivision)
  10. Golden Axe (Genesis)
  11. Tribes 2 (PC)
  12. Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360)
  13. Deus Ex (PC)
  14. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PlayStation 2)
  15. Star Wars: X-Wing (PC)
  16. Max Payne (PC)
  17. Snatcher (Sega CD)
  18. Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
  19. Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
  20. Bully (PlayStation 2)
  21. Age of Empires II (PC)
  22. XCOM 2 (PC)
  23. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Xbox One)
  24. Assassin's Creed II (Xbox 360)
  25. SimCity (Commodore 64)
  26. Baldur's Gate (PC)
  27. Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon (PC)
  28. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Intellivision)
  29. Yakuza 0 (PlayStation 4)
  30. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PlayStation 3)
  31. The Sims (PC)
  32. Phantasy Star II (Genesis)
  33. Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Master System)
  34. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear (PC)
  35. Warsong (Genesis)
  36. Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360)
  37. Summer Games (Commodore 64)
  38. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox)
  39. John Madden '92 (Genesis)
  40. Shenmue II (Xbox)
  41. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (PC)
  42. Max Payne 2 (PC)
  43. Valkyria Chronicles (PlayStation 3)
  44. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
  45. Shinobi (Master System)
  46. Hot Shots Golf 3 (PlayStation 2)
  47. SSX  (PlayStation 2)
  48. Airborne Ranger (Commodore 64)
  49. Call of Duty (PC)
  50. Hitman: Blood Money (Xbox 360)
Like I said, I had Sega consoles, not Nintendo, so my experience with Mario and The Legend of Zelda has been too limited to include. Of course, if you've been following the blog since the start you'll know I've mentioned that quite a few times. I don't dislike Nintendo or any game companies but nobody has time to play every game and Nintendo is one I've had to miss most of to this point. However, I did get a Game Boy when it released and did play Super Mario Land and Metroid II, and I've tried some of Nintendo's other games, albeit briefly. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Gaming Ads: Jaleco USA

Jaleco Ltd. was founded in 1974 as Japan Leisure Co., Ltd. and manufactured amusement games. In 1982 it entered the arcade game industry and in 1983 shortened its name to Jaleco. Based in Illinois, Jaleco USA opened around 1988 to distribute arcade titles and publish home video games. Through 1994 all of its console and handheld games were for Nintendo platforms (NES, SNES, Game Boy) as it didn't publish its first non-Nintendo games until 1995 when the 32-bit generation arrived with the releases of the Sega Saturn and Sony's PlayStation (PS).

While Jaleco published a wide variety of games, it is best known for its long running baseball series of games called Bases Loaded. No less than eight Bases Loaded games were released between 1988 and 1995. Jaleco only released two games for Sega platforms -- Base Loaded '96 for Saturn and Carrier for Dreamcast -- as it focused on the PlayStation in the late '90s, releasing 14 PS games from 1995-2000. In 2000 Jaleco was purchased by Hong Kong-based Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW). Jaleco USA merged with PCCW's VR-1 Entertainment to become Jaleco Entertainment in 2002.

Jaleco Entertainment released a few new titles across the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube, as well as some Virtual Console games for the Wii. The North American Jaleco branch went out of business sometime between 2008 and 2011. In Japan there were a few more company name changes though it went bankrupt in 2014. A company called Hamster Corporation may own some of Jaleco's properties today as it has re-published a few former Jaleco games digitally for current game consoles.

Flickr album: Jaleco USA

Sunday, April 8, 2018

[YouTube] WWF: LJN's Toys & Other Stuff

The World Wrestling Federation was a Saturday afternoon staple when I was a kid in the mid-'80s. If I recall correctly, wrestling came on the TV around 11 AM, maybe noon, after the morning cartoons came to an end. It was 60 minutes of wrestling mayhem featuring some larger than life characters, with good guys vs. bad guys (sometimes gals too!). It was a lot of fun during a time when nobody cared about being politically correct; the personas many of the wrestlers had tended to be rather colorful and over-the-top, which made them appealing to children of the '80s.

https://youtu.be/Sl0xKbY9bP4

LJN capitalized on the WWF's popularity with a line of toys beginning in 1984 and released six series, one each year, with the last one reaching Canadian stores only in 1989. The toys have some heft to them and aren't poseable at all so they aren't exactly action figures. On average I'd say they are around seven inches tall and weigh 10 ounces. They aren't the most exciting toys but they do make great display pieces. A wrestling ring playset was sold as well that had a cage match add-on sold separately. LJN also sold thumb wrestling toys in two-packs; each kid puts a thumb wrestler on, locks their fingers together with another kid, and has the toys battle each other.

 









Hulk Hogan rose to the top and became the face of the league during the height of the WWF's popularity. In 1985 Hogan had his own cartoon called Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling that featured many other wrestlers as well. That only lasted two seasons and used professional voice actors rather than the wrestlers themselves. Many wrestlers did get acting gigs though, some of those highlights include: Hulk Hogan was in Rocky III and his own TV show called Thunder in Paradise; Rowdy Roddy Piper starred in John Carpenter's They Live with Keith David; Andre the Giant is in The Princess Bride; Jesse "The Body" Ventura appears with Arnold Schwarzenegger in both Predator and The Running Man; and Captain Lou Albano was Nintendo's Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

https://youtu.be/0b2_MwZa55M

I photographed and/or scanned the items in the video but not too many pages of the books aside from the postcards. For Hulkamania I did scan one of the pages where it appears Hogan is signing at a Toys "R" Us location and a couple pages from his team up with Mr. T that has Muhammad Ali as a referee.



 

Here is the postcard book where I did scan every page in order.

 

 

 

 

 

The last group includes a sticker album based on the aforementioned cartoon, 1986 calendar, Razor Ramon autograph, and The Wrestling Album.






Although I stopped following wrestling on TV around the late '80s, I did still play some of the wrestling video games in the '90s. I've not posted LJN's ads yet but you can see some WWF video game ads on the blog's Flickr account in these albums: Acclaim Entertainment and Acclaim (Multiple Brands). Here's a preview of LJN which should be posted in June:


By the way, you do need to turn up the volume for the videos (after the intro). I'm sorry about that as I didn't realize until after I had filmed both videos that the input for the recording device was lower than usual (forgot I decreased it for the 2-XL video).