Saturday, January 25, 2020

Gaming Ads: Virgin Games/Interactive

Virgin Group Ltd. is a British company founded by Richard Branson and Nik Powell in 1970, and Virgin Games was established in 1983. It began as a developer and publisher of computer games, and expanded quite a bit in 1987 after acquiring Mastertronic, a budget publisher that was also a distributor of the Sega Master System in the U.K. Virgin Mastertronic was formed and from there increased its distribution agreement with Sega into parts of mainland Europe, and also distributed the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis). In 1993 the company became Virgin Interactive Entertainment, though the Virgin Games name was still used for some of its development studios.

Following a management buyout in 1998, Virgin Interactive broke away from Virgin Group and was dismantled. Its U.S. operations were sold to Electronic Arts and the French company Titus Software purchased the company's assets in 1999. For the most part that was the end of Virgin Games, however, there was a Virgin brand in Spain until 2009. Most of the ads do say Virgin Games but some say Virgin Interactive or Virgin Mastertronic. Also, there is some overlap with Westwood Studios which I'll be posting next week. It's difficult to say which company is responsible for some of those ads so I've got a few here and a few under Westwood.

Virgin Games/Interactive albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Year 4: January Update

Not the greatest logo, huh? Sort of an
Olympian theme with the colors.
The blog is now more than three years old! I've only received a few comments, unfortunately, but I hope people are reading it. My plan is to continue regular updates through this year and possibly next. Beyond that I'll keep the URL going and post from time-to-time though I don't expect I'll be able to have a regular schedule beyond 2021. As I mentioned last month I was launching a new YouTube channel which is now up. It is called Video Games 2020 as the goal is to provide gameplay clips of most North American physical game releases in the year 2020. At this point there is only one video because only one game released before this past Friday and I've not gotten my hands on the two Friday releases yet. I did purchase a Nintendo Switch so that I could play the exclusives for the new channel. I've not used it too much yet aside from BurgerTime Party! which I did upload a video of on the Vault 1541 channel. This was my first time using a Switch and I was surprised to find just how small the Joy-Con controllers are. I suppose I should have expected that since it is a portable system too.

This should be an interesting year for games as we transition into a new console generation. However, I'm thinking this time things might not move as fast with what will likely be two very expensive consoles and games might have longer development times. No pricing has been announced yet but $499+ seems probable. I wonder most if game prices will increase which is something I've mentioned I have been expecting. Sony is skipping this year's E3 again. Many comments on the news articles have pointed to E3 being insignificant and they defend Sony for some reason. As a game player, it annoys me because I still enjoy the week of E3 and watching the press conferences. Many gamers have given Sony a lot of support this generation and this feels like a slap in the face to all gaming fans. It would be a lot more fun to see the two rivals showing off new consoles during the same week instead of waiting weeks or months in between seeing both systems on stage. Sony did unveil the logo which is basically the PS4 logo with a five instead of a four. The video game delays are also beginning to pick up which is common a few months before the end of the fiscal year. Final Fantasy VII remake only got bumped a month while Marvel's The Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077 are now slated for September.

As far as my gaming goes, I just finished Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales yesterday. It's a game I've been wanting to play since it released in 2018. I spent 35 hours playing to the end so it's a rather lengthy game. Although most Witcher games are rated M, this one is T but then it's not like CD Projekt Red's role-playing games either. It's primarily a card battle game spun off of The Witcher 3's Gwent, though you do spend a lot of time pointing-and-clicking around a map to gather resources and trigger encounters. This is actually the second game I've completed this year with the other being World War Z. It's a M-rated title with plenty of violence as players team up to survive zombie hordes. It's very similar to the Left 4 Dead games with the primary difference being it is third-person rather than first-person. Although it's meant to be played with four people, I played solo and the AI does make it tough to raise the difficulty level much since they cannot use med kits, heavy weapons, stationary turrets, or explosives. All the AI basically does is shoot zombies with a starter weapon and help you up if you go down.

G.I. Joe is making a little comeback again this year with another movie (last one was actually seven years ago, doesn't feel like it!) and a mobile game. The movie's release is planned for October and it focuses on Snake Eyes. Sure, the other movies are not the greatest, and I've only seen them one time each, but since it is my favorite toy and cartoon from childhood I always look forward to more. That said, I wish the new game was something with more substance or at least on other platforms since I do not have a smartphone. It launches worldwide tomorrow and is called G.I. Joe: War on Cobra. From what I can tell it is multiplayer only, has base building, and involves collecting cards.

A few days ago I did see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Yes, I waited a while to see it to avoid crowds and I wasn't too excited after the previous film. This one embraces an early fan theory even though I'm sure that wasn't planned from the start of the trilogy. Lando's role isn't huge as, aside from Chewbacca, many of the original heroes haven't had a large amount of screen time. C-3PO is in this one quite a bit more than the previous two though. One thing I'd have loved to see more of is space combat. The opening has a little ship combat and then there is a battle near the end but it's not in space and the enemy doesn't launch any small aircraft so there is no dog fighting between TIE fighters and X-wings or anything else (not that I can recall, anyway). I suppose the film wraps up the trilogy well enough while novels and comic books can fill in any more details fans might want.

Thanks for reading and here's to a good 2020!


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Gaming Ads: Video System USA and Backfilling #13

Video System was a Japanese developer and publisher founded in the mid-'80s and closed in the early 2000s. I've not found too much detailed information on this company though I did write on Mc O'River previously which was the first name it published games under in North America. It switched to Video System USA in 1997 but it never released very many games in the U.S.

I've only got two ads for Video System so I'm going to do a little backfilling and this will be the last time I combine backfilling with a publisher. Therefore, I'll upload what I currently have which covers Acclaim, LucasArts, Midway, Philips, and SNK. Only four more publishers remain alphabetically for this project that I began about five years ago, though I may need to work backwards to add a few more publishers.

Video System USA albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Sunday, January 12, 2020

[YouTube] LEGO Futuron Monorail Transport System

Released in 1987, the LEGO Futuron Monorail Transport System (#6990) is a space-themed set that, according to Brickipedia, retailed for $155. Along with the 9-volt battery-powered monorail train, users can build a couple small stations and land vehicle. There are 10 pieces of track included that can be arranged in a variety of ways, and additional track pieces could be purchased separately. It also includes five mini-figures, three yellow and two blue. The Futuron mini-figures are slightly different than the standard space astronauts as their chest part is half white.

This is a really nice set even if you aren't a fan of space. Using the motor portion and wheel parts from this set, and bricks from another LEGO theme, one could easily build any type of train to place on the tracks. Also, normally I try to photograph and scan everything but I'm going to skip scanning the full 28-page manual. I've got cover and backs scans, plus a photo of the 4-page fold out portion. The photos don't have the best lighting as most of it is artificial and the length of the set makes getting some good shots tricky. I did try a few dark photos as well as messed around with shooting shadows.

UPDATE: After I posted this I realized I had the contents in the box mixed up. Not sure how I missed that when filming but the cardboard tray should be on the left side and the plastic tray to the right, or the box lid should be flipped around.

Additional Box Shots & Documents

The Monorail

Mini-Figures & Vehicles

Into the Dark

The Shadows