[ 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 ] A TurboGrafx Halloween

October 31st, 2016 by Benj Edwards

TTI TurboGrafx-16 Turbografx TurboExpress TurboDuo Dead Moon Ghost Manor advertisement scan - 1992Ghost Manor and Dead Moon on a Zombie Console

[ From VG&CE, November 1992, p.47 ]

Discussion Topic: What's the scariest 16-bit era game you've ever played?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Air Zonk

August 3rd, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Air Zonk TTI TurboGrafx-16 TurboDuo Bonk in Space Shooter advertisement - 1992The 4-inch Michael Jordan

I remember seeing a playable demo of Air Zonk in my local Toys 'R' Us around the time it came out (probably early 1993). I remember it being marketed as a pack-in for the TurboDuo. Upon playing the demo, my first thought was along the lines of: "Wow, the TurboGrafx-16 is still around? They must be desperate."

(For those of you who don't know, my brother and I took the TG-16 plunge circa 1990 or 1991.)

By 1993, the SNES and Genesis were in full force — I owned a SNES and enjoyed it quite a bit. I was deep into Street Fighter II fever at that point. I drooled over the TurboDuo when it came out, though, and I always had a soft spot for the TG-16.

My second about Air Zonk was, "Hmm, this game isn't very good." So I released the controller and didn't play it again until perhaps 20 years later on an emulator. I still don't like it very much.

[ From VG&CE, November 1992, p.46]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Which do you like better: Air Zonk or Bonk's Adventure?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Connectix VideoPhone

December 29th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Connectix VideoPhone video chat software QuickCam advertisement - 1996Even black and white was amazing once

Once upon a time, companies tried to achieve video phone calls using non-networked, proprietary point-to-point devices such as the AT&T VideoPhone 2500 (RSOTW, 2010) — almost all of which utilized traditional telephone lines or ISDN.

Then the Internet came along and blew the field wide open. Suddenly, video chat could happen over any data transfer medium that supported TCP/IP, and it could be routed around the world to any node on the Internet. Connectix's VideoPhone software (circa 1995) was one of the first consumer video chat products to take advantage of the Internet. Using the software and the company's QuickCam digital camera (arguably the world's first webcam), folks could video conference all over the world — albeit in black and white.

For more on the history of video phones and video chat, check out this piece I created for Technologizer back in 2010.

[ From Internet World - February 1996, inside front cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: When was the first time you ever made a video call or did video chat?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Lure of Game Graphics

October 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Microdeal Leatherneck Tanglewood Atari ST 1040ST computer games - 1988Microdeal's Leatherneck and Tanglewood for the Atari ST

I've never played either of these Atari ST games by Microdeal, but they look like fun. "Look" being the operative word. That's because, as we all know, a screenshot alone is a poor judge of a game.

In fact, I recall being burned by screenshots many times back in the day. While browsing at Babbage's or Software Etc. (former software retail chains), my brother and I would flip over various game boxes and ogle amazing, colorful in-game shots that would make us want to buy everything on the shelf.

If we did buy a game, we'd rush home and load it up. Nine times out of ten, those glorious box screenshots turned out to be the only pretty graphical scenes (often static) in the game. Or — even worse — the screenshots were from the uber-colorful Amiga / VGA / etc. version when in fact we were buying the Apple II version of the game (or we only had an EGA graphics card). Doh.

[ From STart, Summer 1988, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever buy a game based on graphics alone — then come to regret it later?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TurboGrafx-16, Fully-Loaded

October 7th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

NEC TurboGrafx-16  TurboGrafx-CD Turbotap Turbopad Turbostick Fully-Loaded Setup - circa 1990TG-16 Accessories: Designed specifically to tease children

I don't usually isolate a photo from a document I've scanned these days, but I found this neat TurboGrafx-16 pamphlet scan in my older scans folder and thought I'd share it. It's from a small accordian-style fold-out pamplet that likely shipped with a TurboGrafx-16 game or accessory. (If I had previously scanned the whole pamphlet, I'd share it with you. The pamphlet is currently packed away somewhere.)

I particularly like this photo because it shows a fully-loaded TurboGrafx-16 system, complete with TurboGrafx-CD add-on, TurboStick, TurboTap, and of course, a TurboPad. The only thing missing is the TurboBooster, which plugged into the back of the TG-16 (currently occupied by the CD unit in this photo) and allowed composite video and stereo audio output through RCA phono plugs.

[ From NEC TurboGrafx-16 fold-out pamphlet, circa 1990 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite TurboGrafx-16 game?

See Also: TurboGrafx-16 Logo (RSOTW, 2009)
See Also: Too Little, Too Late? (RSOTW, 2008)
See Also: Keith Courage in Alpha Zones Mini Comic (RSOTW, 2007)

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How China Warrior Ruined My Childhood

March 4th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

China Warrior kicks MarioI've read a lot of bad press about China Warrior recently due to its re-release on Nintendo's Virtual Console service. Many make fun of the simple beat-'em-up as being a completely horrible game, which is not far off the mark: playing China Warrior is about as fun as eating a brick. But they don't know exactly how horrible it can be. In the early nineties, I had a personal run-in with this TurboGrafx-16 non-classic that still haunts me to this day.

[ Continue reading How China Warrior Ruined My Childhood » ]

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