[ Retro Scan ] Game Boy, All Grown Up

November 2nd, 2016 by Benj Edwards

Nintendo Game Boy Political Campaign Speeches GQ 1992 Presidential Election advertisement scan - 1992"Have you had your fun today?"

So we've got this election coming right around the corner in the US. It hasn't been fun. In fact, it's been pretty nasty and stressful for everyone involved. But there's a solution: video games.

In this October 1992 ad from GQ magazine, Nintendo offers its Game Boy handheld console as an antidote to our grownup troubles during a long, grueling campaign season. Among displays of men's fashion, cologne ads, and strutting female models, you can find a rather remarkable sales pitch for this groundbreaking gadget aimed at adults.

In 1992, portable electronic entertainment pretty much meant one thing: Game Boy. There were no smartphones in everyone's pockets to twiddle away the time with. And the alternative handhelds like the Sega Game Gear, NEC TurboExpress, and Atari Lynx had such horrible battery life that very few people actually took them on the go. Of course, one could tote along a Walkman or a portable TV, but they weren't interactive.

The Game Boy was different. It was compact, light, durable, ran over ten hours on four AA batteries, and it had that killer app: Tetris.

I remember reading news reports, not long after the Game Boy's launch, about how adults were playing Tetris ("the jigsaw puzzle that fights back," the ad says) on long commutes. In retrospect, Tetris seems like the first video game for adults — especially since it had no cartoon protagonist, and its single-screen drama unfolded in four serious shades of gray (or green, technically). It was a thinking man's game, and it was addictive.

Or thinking woman's game, I should say, since we have this amazing 1993 photo of Hillary Clinton playing the Game Boy. While commuting, no less. So maybe the ad worked. Or maybe Tetris was just an essential, can't-miss game that finally legitimized video games for an older audience.

[ From GQ, October 1992, p.150 ]

Discussion Topic: Did your parents ever play console video games when you were younger? What games did they like the most?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Hand-Drawn Golf Reference

June 3rd, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Chris Apple IIc hand-drawn Golf Map and Reference - circa 1980sIf there were only 40 degrees in a circle, this is what it would look like.

There is a certain rustic beauty in hand-drawn video game notes that I will never cease to enjoy. Case in point: this map/reference key created by family friend Chris when he was a kid in the 1980s. I'm not quite sure what game it was for (other than "Golf"), but it was likely a game for the Apple IIc, as I found it among related Apple IIc ephemera when I acquired his collection some years ago.

For more hand-drawn video game goodness, check out this VC&G post about my friend's Deadly Towers maps from 2006.

[ Update: 06/03/2013 - I was just talking to my brother, and he thinks that either he drew this alone or I wrote the letters and he drew the numbers. It was either a reference to a Golf game he programmed in C in 1991, or an old Atari 800 golf game that I haven't found yet. I still think it's possible that Chris wrote the letters. ]

[ From Chris' Apple IIc papers, circa mid-late 1980s ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you ever hand-draw maps for modern video games?

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Old-School PC Copy Protection Schemes

August 8th, 2006 by TheGameCollector

Finest Hour[This is Eric Lambert's second submission to VC&G, with contributions and editing by RedWolf.]

Nothing seems to make headlines more these days than war and copyright infractions. Whether it has to do with movies, music, or games, "piracy" is now a household word, and media providers are searching for ways to reduce it and make money off of it at the same time. Hollywood's Broadcast Flag. Sony's rootkit debacle. Starforce. So much time, effort, and public goodwill has been wasted on the quest to prevent people from copying things.

Don't Copy That FloppyAll right. Did I scare off the casual passers-by yet? Because this isn't a crusade to rail against the evils of modern copy-protection. No, I just needed a legitimate sounding opening to introduce what I really want to talk about: old-school copy protection. We're talking "Don't Copy That Floppy" here, folks — back in the days when men were men and boys had to learn how to handle boot floppies and extended memory.

Don't Copy That FloppyThe early copy protection schemes were much more analog than digital, and tended to fall into two categories: code wheels and manual lookups. That's right, they used documents and devices that were physically separate from the program. While the games themselves were easy to duplicate, copy protection (C.P.) implementations weren't. Moving parts, dark-colored pages, esoteric information scattered throughout a manual all meant that photocopying (when possible) could be prohibitively expensive. And without a world-wide publicly available Internet, digital scans and brute-force cracking programs were almost unheard of. For the most part, the C.P. methods were an effective low-tech solution to a high-tech problem.

So let's take a look at a couple of them and revel in their oh-so-simple glory.

[ Continue reading Old-School PC Copy Protection Schemes » ]

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The Official Golf Ball of Ultima III: Exodus

April 8th, 2006 by Benj Edwards
Official Ultima III Golf Ball
Here it is: the Official Golf Ball of Ultima III: Exodus. Back in 1983, if you found this ultra-rare object included in your Ultima III game box, you won an all-expenses paid trip to Lord British's backyard swimming pool.

Ok, so I made that up. I actually found this golf ball in my back yard recently and thought it mildly amusing. The ball's shape looks warped purely because my flatbed scanner wasn't designed to scan 3D spherical objects. I wonder if Richard Garriott uses this brand when he hits the green.

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