Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bubsy the Bobcat

In June Activision released Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy and then in August Sonic the Hedgehog returned to his roots in Sega's Sonic Mania. Now another video game mascot that got its start in the '90s is back: Bubsy! I was going to be sarcastic about the return of Bubsy but I don't know much about the games outside of what I've read, and my memory had me thinking the Bubsy games were considered  terrible. However, while putting together this post I found that the first Bubsy game was very well-received and its sequel, as well as the Atari Jaguar game, were decent too. Apparently it was Bubsy 3D that made everyone want to forget about the anthropomorphic bobcat. Bubsy did get a compilation in 2015 of the first two Super Nintendo Entertainment System games for the PC called Two-Fur. Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back is a brand new game that releases today and returns the title character to 2D, much like the aforementioned Sonic Mania did for Sonic the Hedgehog.

In light of Bubsy's return here are reviews of the first game from Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and Game Informer, and a GamePro review of Bubsy II. For the EGM review I included a couple bonus reviews allowing you to see the competition that Bubsy faced that month and one of them (Cool Spot) is a good comparison as it's another side-scrolling platform game.

Electronic Gaming Monthly #46

Game Informer - March/April 1993

GamePro - September 1994

Monday, October 30, 2017

[YouTube] Tomy Toys


The Japan-based Tomy was founded on February 2, 1924 as Tomiyama Toy Seisakusho by Eiichiro Tomiyama. It was best known for its toy airplanes for a few decades before the company changed its name to Tomy during the '60s, at which time it also opened offices in the United States and Europe. Tomy published video games from the '80s through 2010 as well; the last game it released is Naruto Shippuden: Clash of Ninja Revolution III for the Wii. In 2006 Tomy merged with another big toy maker (and former video game publisher) in Japan, Takara. I mentioned Takara previously when I made a Transformers video as Takara is responsible for creating the toy robots that Hasbro brought to the U.S. and re-branded as the Transformers. Being the more recognizable name world wide, the post-merger company kept Tomy as its name in all locations except Japan, where it is called Takara Tomy.

All of the toys I'm sharing in the post/video are from the mid to late '70s and early '80s. My favorite Tomy toys are the wind-up characters that you simply wind up and place on a hard surface (or in water) to see them move. A few items are games of skill; some require winding and some are small pocket games. One toy is an amusing sentence maker where you shake the item a bit to mix up plastic squares with words on them and then jiggle the item to get five squares to drop into a window and form a silly sentence. I've also got a few Pocket Cars and accessories from Tomy's die-cast brand that is named Tomica, itself a spin-off of the company's Tomica World trains. Many of the toys with internal mechanisms no longer work but I still find them a pleasure to view. Electronic toys like the ferry can probably be repaired with a new motor though I don't think it is possible to repair the wind-up toys as they are not meant to be disassembled.

Individual Wind-Up Toys

Robots (1977)

Mickey Mouses and Plutos (1977)

Dolphin, Penguin, & Turtle (None have a copyright on them;
the penguin is marked No. 4)

Ski Streak Racing Team 351 (1978)

Bumbling Boxing

Hop-A-Long Hoopster (1981)

Skill Squares

Rescue Copter and Shootin' Gallery

Rescue Copter and Shootin' Gallery

Tomy Pocket Games

Feed the Frogs (1977)

Bi-Plane Battle (1978)

Don't see a name on this one; I'll call it Race Track (1975)

Sentence Nonsense (1975)

Pocket Cars & Accessories (Tomica Die-cast)

American Truck (1978), Toyota Type HQ15V (1978),
Alpine Renault A310 (1978), Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (1978),
and Ferrari 308 GTB (1977)



Paint 'Em Perfect Paint Shop

Road Mates Auto Ferry
The ferry is battery operated and is not actually meant to be placed in the water. The wheel on the top is used to rotate the wheels on the bottom that are powered by two "C" batteries.

Tomy Pop Cycle

The racer is missing his legs!

Thanks for visiting the blog and I hope you enjoyed this look at some Tomy toys. 


Takara's Penny Racers which also appear in the video.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Gaming Ads: Empire Interactive and Enix America

U.K.-based Empire Interactive Europe was founded in 1987 as Empire Software while the Empire Interactive publishing brand was created in 1989. The company did develop some games at in the U.K. but primarily published games via numerous offices based throughout Europe and North America. Empire also acquired a few developers, most notably Cunning Developments (Pro Pinball) and Razorworks (Ford Racing). In 2006 Empire was purchased by Silverstar Holdings and in 2009 the publisher went out of business. Empire did publish more than 150 games during its 22 years of business but more in Europe than North America, and I currently only have one ad.

Yasuhiro Fukushima founded Eidansha Boshu Service Center in 1975 as a publisher of real estate papers before entering the video game publishing business and changing the company name to Enix in 1982. Enix is best known for publishing the Dragon Quest games that were renamed to Dragon Warrior when released in North America. The Dragon Quest games were actually developed by Chunsoft, a developer founded as a result of a programming contest sponsored by Enix.

Enix had two publishing branches in North America during the '90s. The first was Enix America Corporation based in Redmond, WA that was in business between 1990 and 1995. In 1999 Enix America, Inc. opened in Seattle and closed in 2003 when Enix merged with developer Square to form Square Enix. Today Square Enix develops and publishes many popular game series, such as Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Tomb Raider, and Deus Ex.

Empire Interactive albums: Facebook Google Photos
Enix America albums: Facebook Google Photos

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Wolfenstein 2d to 3d

With the upcoming release of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus this Friday I thought it would be fun to take a look at some reviews of id Software's first Wolfenstein game. Since I've said numerous times that I do aim for a family friendly environment at Vault 1541 I should point out that the most recent Wolfenstein games are rated M largely due to violence. The first release of Wolfenstein 3d and the games I'll mention from the '80s do pre-date the ESRB and that's what I am focusing on here but all of the games are violent as they are set during World War II.

Well before there was id's Wolfenstein 3d, developer Muse Software released a game called Castle Wolfenstein in 1981 and a sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, in 1984. Muse's games are what inspired id but they play quite differently as the two Muse games are viewed from a 2D side perspective and while you can shoot enemies, the best course of action is typically to blend in and sneak past the enemy guards whenever possible. Developed by id and published by Apogee Software in 1992 for DOS computers, Wolfenstein 3d is a first-person shooter where players control Allied soldier B.J. Blazkowicz. Both of Muse's games, as well as Wolfenstein 3d, require players to escape from the castle.

Wolfenstein 3d has since appeared on numerous platforms, including the Macintosh computer, Atari Jaguar, 3DO, and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) during the '90s. Later the game was ported to the Game Boy Advance, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and mobile platforms. I've got one review each for the DOS, SNES, and 3DO versions, and two for the Jaguar. As is often the case, I did some edits on the scans from Electronic Gaming Monthly (to line up with the Review Crew) and Video Games & Computer Entertainment  (multiple pages turned into one).

Video Games & Computer Entertainment - September 1992

Electronic Gaming Monthly #55
Electronic Gaming Monthly #77

Electronic Gaming Monthly #63
GamePro - September 1994

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Gaming Ads: Electronic Arts

I'll do my best to keep this as short as I can, though Electronic Arts (EA) has a long history and one could write quite a bit about the company. I've got 135 ads which I believe is second only to what I have for Sega. EA Sports ads could be separated but for now I'm leaving them with the rest of EA.

EA was founded in California in 1982 by former Apple employee Trip Hawkins. A few other Apple employees joined EA and the company quickly grew as it recruited more staff from the likes of Atari and Xerox. In 1983 EA released its first games on home computers, including one of the most significant games in the history of the company. That game is Julius Irving/Larry Bird Go One-on-One, or simply One-on-One. This was the first time professional athletes appeared in a computer game, it was an important income source for EA, and it was the first stepping stone into the sports genre of video games that would shape the future of the publisher.

While EA did develop some of its own games, it also published games for other developers which led to a large number of releases annually beginning in 1986. EA published nearly 20 games in '86, then more than 25 in '87, and over 30 in '88. In such a short span EA became the largest third-party game publisher. Here is a brief list of some of the best known games that EA published in the '80s: John Madden Football (quite different from what would appear on consoles), Populous, Archon, Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer, Earl Weaver Baseball, Starflight, Skate or Die, F/A-18 Interceptor, M.U.L.E., the computer versions of Marble Madness, and some of Interplay's role-playing titles, such as the Bard's Tale sequels and Wasteland.

In 1990 EA entered the console games market as a publisher; previously it had only licensed its games to other publishers. Around that same time Trip Hawkins left EA to found The 3DO Company. The '90s was another successful decade for EA as its sports games became so popular during the 16-bit era that EA created the EA Sports brand that is still used today. As I said above, I want to keep this relatively short so I'll just mention a few more things as the company is still going strong today and it's likely many of you are quite familiar with EA. Along with EA Sports, EA Games became a publishing label EA used for a while and there was EA Sports BIG for the more arcade-like games, such as SSX. Jane's Combat Simulations was yet another publishing label EA used as it licensed the Jane's Information Group brand from 1994 to 2000.

The last thing I want to mention about its past are some of the most recognizable developers that have been acquired by EA (along with a major game each made before the acquisitions): Origin Systems (Ultima), Bullfrog (Populous), BioWare (Baldur's Gate), Westwood Studios (Command & Conquer), Maxis (SimCity), Digital Illusions CE (Battlefield), PopCap Games (Bejeweled), and DreamWorks Interactive (Medal of Honor). There were many others of course, though I'd say those are the most noteworthy due to the popularity of the games each one developed for EA. Unfortunately, some have since been closed or merged with other studios, and some have been renamed. This post also happens to fall during the week EA announced the closure of Visceral Games, one of its internal studios that was originally known as EA Redwood Shores. Visceral had been working on a single-player Star Wars game that many were looking forward to so I suspect EA's popularity is at an all-time low.

Regardless of what you may think of EA today, for better or worse, it's been a very important company in the history of computer and video games. If you were gaming in the '80s and/or '90s EA likely played a big role your time playing games. For myself, I was a big fan of EA during those two decades, especially the EA Sports titles released for the Sega Genesis.

Electronic Arts albums: Facebook - Google Photos