Because Nobody Asked: Thoughts on Pixels

It’s true.

I went to see Pixels… in 3D, no less. I went back and forth as to whether I would make a video with impressions and opinions on the film, or if I would simply write about it. I decided to go the video route.

Let me warn you here that there are some spoilers in the video above, as indicated in the video title… so if you want to see how the movie is for yourself, don’t watch it (yet). Instead, let me try to sum it up below in written question/answer form, with no spoilers.

What did you enjoy about Pixels?

The arcade games and their respective characters, when the film puts the spotlight on them. There is some creative license taken with how some of the games move from the arcade to the film, but seeing so many familiar games and characters made me smile. A lot. Als0– for me, at least– there were some genuine laugh out loud moments. Some of the humor hits, other humor misses badly… but I did laugh, at least a few times, during the course of the film.

What didn’t you enjoy about Pixels?

The characters ranged from boring (Sandler) to creepy (Gad) to an over-acted Billy Mitchell stereotype (Dinklage), and none of the main characters were interesting or engaging. The story is forgettable, with some random and/or unexplained events. When the story takes the spotlight back from the arcade games, the movie drags… similar to what happened in The Wizard. It’s also worth mentioning here that the 3D effects are nothing special, so you miss very little by seeing it in 2D (if you decide to see it at all).

Do you recommend Pixels?

In the theater? It’s not a must-see. The movie appealed to my younger self, as I was hitting puberty during the Golden Age of arcades. A lot of the imagery, characters, and games referenced withing Pixels hammered on my nostalgia buttons like a skilled Track & Field player. When Pixels comes out on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital? I’d recommend a rental, if only to see some of the ways that the arcade games are adapted for the film. (Fair disclosure: I saw the film on a Discount Night at my local theater, so I didn’t pay full price.)

PixelsTicket

What’s your Pixels grade?

Boy, this is a toughie. I guess I’d give it a C-… maybe a C. Unlike most critics and much of the video gaming community, I didn’t consider Pixels to be a complete failure. Unfortunately, the good stuff is too often cancelled out by or even overshadowed by the not-so-good stuff. Had more of the humor hit, or perhaps if the characters were more likable (or less creepy), then the scenes without video game stuff in them would’ve been more tolerable… or even somewhat decent. The reason that I could bump the grade from a C- to a C would be due to the nostalgia trip that the movie took me on, which I personally enjoyed very much. That’s a bit more personal bias and less objectivity, though, as there are more flaws than fun to be experienced here.

So… what is, in your opinion, the worst Adam Sandler movie?

Don’t Mess With The Zohan. Oh, wow. Sandler’s got some bad movies on his filmography, but this one was just brutal. Hell, I’d even choose The Love Guru over seeing Zohan again… and it doesn’t have anything to do with The Love Guru having Jessica Alba in it. (Who am I kidding?) Seriously, though… Zohan‘s the worst, in my book. Jack & Jill is worse than Pixels was, too.

Whew. Okay. That’s everything on Pixels, I guess. I’ll cop to looking forward to owning it when it comes out for sale and keeping it next to my copies of The Wizard, Shenmue: The Movie, and Wreck-It Ralph. Pixels isn’t a movie for everyone, and it’s got serious problems… but I wound up enjoying it, despite the negatives, and can see myself adopting it as a guilty pleasure or comfort food film in the future.

New Consoleation Video: Every Disc Way But Loose

Post-production thoughts:

This topic of loose disc games is one that I’ve been meaning to cover for some time, and, well… that time finally came. I originally meant to shoot this last week, but the hate train for Pixels generated a more immediate reaction and I delayed the topic until today.

As I mention in the video, loose disc games make up a sizable portion of my Retro Library. I’ve had no regrets in paying a bit less for loose discs– especially given my limited finances and the deals that I found– since all of the games are fully playable and I can still enjoy them any time I want to. Are they lower in value than complete in box (CIB) games? Sure. Does that matter to me? No, not really.

My priorities when it comes to game “collecting” don’t have value or worth terribly high on the list, although I have taken advantage of some deals that were too good to pass up. I mention King’s Field: The Ancient City in the video, a game that I got for dirt cheap and which has doubled in value— even as a loose disc– since I bought it. I knew that Def Jam: Fight For New York was pretty valuable when I bought it for $4 loose at a GameStop in Enfield, Connecticut a couple of years ago… and now it’s valued at around $30. I’m awful (or worse) at these games, but I have played them– and have no intention of flipping them for money or other games. They’re part of what makes my library of games what it is.

Killer7 and King's Field: The Ancient City (PS2).

Killer7 and King’s Field: The Ancient City (PS2).

Whether you’re just starting to start building a library of games for yourself, or if you’re financially limited, or you’re looking to beef up your current collection of titles… loose disc games are worthwhile. I do get the “collector mentality” behind wanting to grab games in a complete set, and that PlayStation 2 games are still far too common to not be at least somewhat picky as a buyer. I’m also of the mindset that, as long as the game disc works– and that you can buy it at a decent price– it’s worth at least considering.

One other point that I raise in the video is the availability factor. Finding the Deception games for the PlayStation in the wild, for example, hasn’t been a common occurrence… so it was an easier personal decision for me to buy the games despite being loose discs instead of complete. Stumbling upon a loose copy of Konami Arcade Classics was really a no-brainer purchase at $2, though I would have paid more, depending on what the asking price might have been. I’m willing to make concessions when it comes to games that I really want to own, but can’t find. Perhaps I can find cases and manuals later, but the important part– the game itself– is in my possession, and that’s a personal mission accomplished.

It all comes to down to answering major questions for yourself. Why do you collect games? Is your main priority to play the games you buy, or to collect them for completion or showcasing purposes? Is it worthwhile to you to spend a little less to own just the game disc, or would you rather hold out for a case and manual as well?

I’m sure that everyone who takes the time to ask these questions internally will have different answers, and there are no wrong answers. They clarify our motivation. In the end, we’re united by our interest in buying and collecting these older games and systems, no matter how they’re packaged.

Shameless Self-Promotion:

My latest piece for Retroware is up and it’s all about the GxTV. I talk about how I came to purchase the TV, its features, and my personal experience with it. I shot a video on the topic as well, which is embedded at the end of the piece. I hope that you’ll check it out, as well as the work from the rest of the site’s video and written talent. Game Dave recently came on board, and he’s got a real passion for what he does. All in all, Retroware has done a great job of spotlighting community-created content while its main contributors continue to do fantastic work. It continues to be, as it has been, an honor to be a part of the team there.

I submitted a new piece for Hit The Pass which should be up soon, and another piece will be submitted within the next week or two. Unfortunately, my recent health scare derailed my work, but the piece that’s in the can was fun to research and put together. I’ll let the proverbial cat out of the bag and share that it’s about something called the EA Sports Bio feature, which was implemented for the EA Sports game releases from 2003. I always thought the feature was cool, and replaying those sports games to rebuild my Gamer Level in 2015 was still pretty addictive. I’ll be sure to share on Twitter when the piece goes live.

RetroWorld Expo Update:

We’re now about two months away from the big event, and the pieces keep coming together for what will be a memorable first year. Joey “Roo” DeSena (who can also be seen in The Video Game Years, along with his 16-Bit Gems series) has been added to the lineup of guests, along with appearances/panels including members of RF Generation, RetroRGB, HD Retrovision, and more.

In addition, a slate of video game tournaments has been announced. On the SNES, there will be competitions on titles including Dr. Mario, Mortal Kombat II, and Tetris Attack. For the Genesis, there will be NBA Jam and NHL ’94 events. There will be prizes for the winners of each of these tournaments, and I’m guessing that they’re each going to be pretty tightly contested.

Finally, because of overwhelmingly positive reaction– including lots of early ticket sales and strong response from exhibitors– admission has been lowered to just $25 for the day. That $25 gets you a maximum of more than 12 hours (from start to finish) of panels, guests, tournaments, arcade and console game play, musical acts, and access to buy/sell/trade games on-site. You’re bound to run into to someone at the event whom you’ll recognize… aside from me, that is. Southern New England has many video game fans, and it’s going to be special for me to meet as many of them as possible.

I sincerely hope to see many of you at the Oakdale Theater on October 3rd. It’s going to be a memorable event.

And, finally…:

I’m happy to report that the Insert Coin documentary Kickstarter project is making progress toward being funded. Josh Tsui has put a lot of passion and hard work into helming this project already, and his connection to Midway enables access to developers, talent, and behind-the-scenes stories and events that we might never have found out about otherwise. The Kickstarter site has new trailers and footage that’s been recently posted, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

There’s still some work to be done to make this project a reality. Why do I think it’s so important? This video will hopefully make a compelling case:

As always, thank you all for reading, watching, and supporting Consoleation. Look for another episode next week!

Because Nobody Asked: How I Spent My Two-Day-Cation

I just returned from a two-day-cation to New Hampshire. It was certainly nice to get away– I hadn’t been on a getaway from home since May of 2014, so I think that I was due.

The first half of the trip was the main course, as I went to see one of my favorite bands play at a really nice outdoor venue. I don’t talk music too much here, but as a former vocalist and a professional karaoke show host for 10+ years, Breaking Benjamin has been one of my big musical influences… and I patterned some of my singing and stage presence after front man Ben Burnley. Needless to say, it was a pretty big deal to see the group play live. I belted out many songs right along with the band, despite being pretty far away from the stage. Here was my vantage point:

BBShow

The second part of the trip was a return to FunSpot, where I hadn’t been since last year’s Classic Video Game Tournament there. FunSpot was only about 10 minutes away from the hotel that I’d stayed at, and visiting on a Monday meant a bit less foot traffic and more accessibility to the games.

The American Classic Arcade Museum at FunSpot is an important place to me. I have history there, having set two World Records there– one of which still stands– and having been to four Classic Video Game Tournaments since 2000. This place is reminiscent of what arcades used to be like; you’re surrounded by the sounds of dozens of attract modes while you walk up and down the aisles and try to pick out which games you want to challenge. Many of these games evoke strong personal memories. As I played a game of Track & Field, I distinctly remembered spending time in my early teens milking all the time I could off of my last token in my local mall arcade. Track & Field was my “last resort” game… the game I played when my tokens had all but run out, but I just wasn’t ready to go home.

Unfortunately, this recent visit felt… different.

It felt empty.

Unfulfilling.

Sad, in a way.

Unlike my last visit to FunSpot, this visit brought with it the sight of a lot of dark screens and of games that weren’t working. The passage of decades– along with repeated and prolonged use of these coin-operated games– have been slowly taking their toll on the hardware, and the staff there just can’t fix them all. Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator, a game that I played a lot of last year, was not working. Galaga had a memory error. Several games along the opposite side of Pinball Row were dark. Others, which had been out of order during my last visit, continued to be down for the count. Even the venerable Track & Field machine was showing its age; the Run buttons were barely responsive and the screen would jump if I hit the buttons with too much force.

It’s not that I still didn’t enjoy my time there. I played about 15 different games, ranging from Carnival to Hyper Sports and from Vs. Duck Hunt to Space Invaders. I could hear Journey’s Separate Ways playing on the arcade radio as I battled to a personal best on Mad Planets. I had a decent run playing Atari’s Superman and Williams’ Black Knight 2000 pinball tables. I took several pictures of Midway coin-ops, too, since I’ve had Josh Tsui‘s Insert Coin documentary Kickstarter project on my mind and have been crossing my fingers that it gets funded. Here’s a small gallery of photos from my visit:

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I was saddened to learn that there hadn’t been a Classic Video Game Tournament at FunSpot this year. It used to be such a huge event, with decent press coverage and with attendees from all over the globe. To be part of such a tournament in the four years that I had been there was an honor and a privilege. I got to meet many recognized World Record holders at this event every year and being in that select group by having records of my own has been something that I’ve been very proud of since I set my first record in 2001, playing Sea Wolf and rolling over the score for the first time in FunSpot‘s history. Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day honored me with a trading card in my name last year, and that honor came directly from my results and participation in those tournaments.

FullCard

 

While I’m not worried (yet) about the American Classic Arcade Museum going away, this trip got me to thinking about how time has become a bit of an enemy when it comes to arcade cabinets. Replacement parts are getting harder to come by, and they’re getting more expensive to acquire. The number of people skilled enough to make repairs to these machines is dwindling, and the hours and effort that it takes to repair these pieces of video game history are increasing. The staff here can only do so much, and they get by with donations and fundraising. The arcade games undoubtedly make some money back, but at the cost of repeated play and the occasional rough handling of a joystick or hammering of buttons by a youngster who doesn’t know any better or by an adult who gets frustrated.

This is a race against time that, inevitably, FunSpot and the American Classic Arcade Museum will lose. That’s what saddens me most of all; I have been fortunate enough to enjoy these machines not only during their heydays… but also decades after they were relevant. What few arcades that we have left are places that we, as video game fans, need to find ways to experience before they’re all gone. I’m not just talking about trips to Dave & Buster’s, here. I’m talking about trips to FunSpot, or to the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Illinois, or even to barcades like The Quarters here in my own backyard of Western Massachusetts or either of the 1Up locations in Colorado.

If you can’t get to any of these arcades, you can attend conventions. Many of these have coin-ops set up to play. For example, the RetroWorld Expo, taking place here in Southern New England in early October, is going to have an arcade area set up for play. PAX conventions usually have their own arcade areas, as does MAGFest. Not only are these conventions great for panels and meeting celebrities and fellow fans alike… but they’re great ways to have a decent arcade experience, even if the dimly-lit room and ’80s music might be missing.

While we’re lucky enough to live in a time that we can play emulations or ports of many arcade games and coin-ops from the past via modern technology, there’s something that gets lost in translation when you don’t get to play these games as originally intended… in a dim room, surrounded by the ambient sounds of other games and players, with music playing in the background. It’s a battle between you and the game, between you and a friend, or perhaps between you, your friends, and the game… and it’s hard to accurately describe how different it is to play these games on their original hardware, using the original joysticks and buttons, and getting lost in the atmosphere.

I sincerely hope that arcades are something that everyone will be able to experience –at least as we once knew them– before they become but uncommon relics and fuzzy memories of a time that once was.

Shooting Straight: Best. Saturday. Ever.

As you age, there aren’t too many days that you can spend just playing video games.

Adulthood tends to put up roadblocks that get in the way. Work responsibilities, family responsibilities, and time limitations often team up and conspire to keep you from living a summer day like you might have as a child or teenager. Life is what it is, and you make every effort to fit everything in to a day, a week, a month, and a year as possible.

I just spent most of this now-concluded Saturday just playing video games. I don’t regret it. I’m not ashamed to have spent my time that way, rather than doing something else that other adults would probably consider a “constructive use” of my free time. I shuffled games in and out of my PlayStation 2… ranging from a blowout in ESPN Major League Baseball, to smashing and crashing cars in Test Drive: Eve of Destruction, to finally getting around to try out Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi.

There was no real purpose to how I spent that time. I wasn’t out to try and beat a particular game, or to take pictures and prepare reviews in my head. I simply scanned my library and randomly picked out some stuff to play. After all, with almost 750 PlayStation 2 games to choose from in my Retro Library, I have plenty of games to sit and enjoy– probably more games than I will ever get a chance to play through over the course of the remainder of my life. And… after my recent health scares, I want– no, I need– to take advantage of my time, spending it doing things that I want to do and balancing that with the things in life that I have to do.

Today, I felt like one of the luckiest people alive. It was just a week ago that all seemed lost, and that I honestly didn’t know how much longer that I would have to do much of anything… whether it was playing video games, as I did today, or whether it was finding a good job, or finally realizing my potential as a human being. Now, I’m happy to not make excuses or have outside factors that kept me from doing the things that I want to do. I’m still not feeling 100%, of course, but I’m eating somewhat regularly again and even sleeping at night for the first time since before my last semester of college ended.

I’m grateful that I got to spend today as I did, playing video games and just having fun. I’m grateful that I managed to get back to writing and shooting videos this past week. I’m grateful for all of the support that friends on social media and family here locally have given me, in willing me back towards feeling well again. I’m grateful to you, the reader, for letting me get these not-necessarily-all-video-game-related feelings out in the open; as much as I appreciate video games and as big a part of my life as they are… sometimes even my life has to be more than that.

Even for a little while.

For those of you looking for more video game talk, fear not. I have a new Consoleation video planned for next week, and it’s gonna be a good one. I promise.

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for continuing to support me and be in my corner. It means more to me that you can ever know.

Shooting Straight: Make Every Second Count

July 18, 2015 1 comment

A week ago, I was certain that I’d never be writing again.

My health had taken a severe downturn starting back on July 4th. My appetite abandoned me. My digestive tract refused to accept any food I would give it. I forced down two meals in the next 8 days. I was in lots of discomfort, and was only getting 3 hours of sleep per day. I spent much of the next 9 days laying in bed, watching YouTube videos to keep me from giving up hope of overcoming whatever was ailing me. I finally began coming to grips with the possible reality that I might even die, fearing that my life would end before I accomplished everything that I had set out to accomplish.

On Sunday, July 12th, I called my mother while fighting back tears. I wanted her to know how much I loved her, and how frightened I was that my life could be drawing to a close. I uttered final words on Twitter. I reflected on my 43 years of life, and reflected on what kind of legacy– if any– that I would be leaving behind. I wept when I realized that I never fulfilled my potential; I always made excuses as to why I so rarely followed through on plans for myself. I was afraid of failure while pursuing any kind of career writing about video games. I became too old to continue to work as a karaoke DJ, and gave up looking for jobs. I had plans for this site and for making videos, and yet I always created reasons why I couldn’t do that when I wanted to.

After my conversation with my mother, I made every effort to keep my anxiety in check… and then, I heard the news: Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo and a relatively young man at age 55, had passed away from cancer.

I was stunned, uttering phrases of disbelief and pure sadness. We had all just seen Mr. Iwata via a Nintendo Digital Presentation a few weeks prior, and he didn’t look to be in poor health. We knew that he had been fighting some health issues in recent months, some of which kept him from travel, but I personally never knew the extent of his ailment. And now… Mr. Iwata was just… gone. He was a bright bulb in an industry where the idea of fun seemed to have worn out its welcome. Iwata was a proponent of fun. He preached it. He believed in it. He created (or at least helped to create) it.

Despite Mr. Iwata’s battles with cancer, he worked until he could not work anymore. His list of accomplishments… his legacy… these things were secure. The sadness came from the fact that fun had lost its champion, its primary representative. Solace was taken in reflecting on all of the good things that he brought into this industry, from his genuinely warm personality to his on-screen persona to his skill with programming that helped to make some games exist and to make other games even better.

As fortune would have it, my health slowly began to recover the next day. The pain had lessened, I was taking in food again (albeit in small portions), and I was controlling my anxiety with medication that I’ve had for years but never needed to use until this crisis. Over this past week, I’ve slept more and have slowly been regaining my strength. I even put three videos together this week, with my sense of productivity returning.

One video was a new Consoleation episode, reflecting on my experience with Metal Gear Solid:

Another was a video that talked about the Insert Coin documentary project, which is all about Midway arcade games from the 1990s. Josh Tsui, who was a Midway employee and has a lot of his own experiences there, has been putting together new interviews and archive footage from the days when Midway Games was practically unstoppable in arcades.

And, finally, this video sums up what will be the rest of this post… about making every second count:

Though my health is slowly returning to as normal as it will probably ever get for me, Mr. Iwata’s passing and my own fears and expectation of life ending too soon have given me a lot to think about. Life is a finite gift, and with each second of each minute of each hour of each day, the sands in our own individual hourglasses continue to drain. We can’t stop this process, and the inevitability of finality shadows each and every one of us.

How we choose to live our lives is important. What we choose to accomplish with the time that we are given is up to us. It’s easy to create reasons why we can’t achieve our wants and goals; there’s work, there’s family obligations, there’s lack of inspiration or motivation, there’s the struggle of finding enough time in a day, week, or month to do what it is that we feel we want to do. For myself, I’ve been a seemingly endless fountain of excuses and circumstances for much of my adult life– and it will be a regret that I take to my final resting place.

I could have worked hard enough and made enough sacrifices to get a job writing about video games. Heck, I took a year off from work and lived off of savings to try and get my foot in the door somewhere… but I never took the big chances when I needed to. I was too afraid to fail. I was too afraid to ask the right questions. I ultimately didn’t believe enough in myself to take that necessary next step. Heck– I even had chances in 2012 and 2013 during E3 events to create networking opportunities and make something happen… but I gave up at my first major rejection, contrary to the pleadings from my then-editor-in-chief to not walk away. My failure was my own fault… and nobody else’s.

I made excuses to avoid going back to college in my 30s, when I had my best chance to do so. I told friends and family that I couldn’t hack it. It would take too long. It would be too expensive. I was too old. I spent my 30s working as a karaoke DJ… and, while it was a blast over that 10-year cycle, it was a finite career that ended before I was ready and before I had a backup plan. Had I not made excuses, I could be teaching today. I could be working for a living instead of trading in cans and bottles. I didn’t make the best use of my time… and while those 10 years were generally good for me at the time, I’m paying for a lack of planning and effort today.

Despite these errors in judgment… these gaps in inspiration and motivation… I know that I must make what time I have left on this Earth count for something. The time for excuses, the time for procrastination, the time for failing to execute on ideas and passions… that time has to be over. When my time is up, I want to leave a legacy. It won’t be the same as Mr. Iwata’s legacy, or the same as anyone else’s, really… but it’s a legacy that I can still create for myself by transforming ideas and plans into realities, striving to treat everyone I meet with respect and care, and demonstrating my passion for the things that I love– my family, video games, writing, and even shooting videos (despite their amateur quality).

I must strive to make each second that I have left count for something, rather than just idle time and excuses. I think that realization is Mr. Iwata’s final gift to me, even though we never met. As grateful as I am for all of the joy that Mr. Iwata gave to me (and countless others) in all of his years working in the video game industry… I’m even more grateful to have my eyes opened wide to see that I still have lots of things to achieve in my life, while there’s still sand in my hourglass.

It’s not too late– it’s never too late to make every second that we have left count for something.

As always, thanks for reading.

Consoleation Status Report: July 2015

After being very sick over the last few days, and feeling generally worn down since E3, I’m slowly on the mend and finally got back in front of the camera. I figured that it was as good a time as any to shoot a video showing many of the recent additions to my Retro Library, and there was a lot to show– nearly 30 minutes worth!

Game Hunting / Retro Library Update:

My focus in game hunting this year has been mostly on titles for the original PlayStation, and I’m quietly approaching 300 games for that platform. It might be a stretch, but I’m hoping to luck out and get there before September 9th. I’m 21 games shy, as of this writing. We’ll see if I can get there. I also did find a couple of SEGA CD games, and am building that platform up as much as I can… but games are pretty scarce around here. Maybe I’ll strike gold at the RetroWorld Expo in early October.

I did pick up some super-cheap PS2 sports games (which I didn’t mention in the video) from my local FYE store, which were mainly to add boxes and manuals to games that I originally had as disc-only. Those, along with the games for the PlayStation seen in the video, have strengthened my rather large library of older sports titles. This has been an important step for me since I committed to contributing to Hit The Pass. I’ll soon be writing a piece there about why getting these older sports games has been a fun journey for me. It’s very much a “one man’s trash is another person’s treasure” scenario… plus it helps that sports games are usually super-cheap.

Unfortunately, I did run into some money trouble (thanks to my recent ill health) and had to sell off a few valuable cartridge (NES/SNES/Genesis) games. It’s always painful to have to do so, but when money is necessary for medicine and care… you do what you have to. Admittedly, it’s very tough when something like this comes up and you’re not bringing in a paycheck, but at least I was able to cover my expenses. Hopefully I’ll get them back at some point, but it’s not a priority at present; they were valuable games, but not games that I was playing at all. The point of my Retro Library isn’t as much its overall value as it is having games that I want to play at will or have a desire to play down the road. In any event, my libraries for those systems are smaller as of now.

For the most up-to-date listing of what I have in my Retro Library, you can check out this link. PureGaming.org and its iOS apps have made cataloging my library very easy to do, and having a page that shows everything as I catalog is a pretty cool feature. You can also check out a list of games that I’m looking for there, as well.

Content Update:

So, yeah. June really didn’t go as well as I wanted. I started to feel lousy during E3 week, and it got progressively worse until the last week of June. I was bedridden for much of that week, with no appetite, abdominal pain, and the inability to sleep for more than an hour at a time. At one point, I made do with a ham sandwich as my only food for three days. After rest and medication, I’m finally on the mend… though my recovery is slow. As I mentioned in the video, I’m feeling about 70% of normal. That increases a bit every day, but I still do get periods of exhaustion or discomfort– the latter is attributed to trying to ease back into a normal eating schedule after not eating much for a time.

Right now, I’m hoping to get back onto a weekly video shooting schedule starting this coming week. I’m crossing my fingers for a relatively cool day or two in order to shoot, and the next video won’t be anywhere near 30 minutes. I do have my next topic for the Summer of PlayStation miniseries in mind, plus I have some thoughts on Consoleation episode topics as well. My aim is still to keep the length between 8 and 12 minutes, and to shoot in fewer takes; the latter is important because it’s all unscripted and unedited, so even a couple of miscues mean a complete redo.

As for writing, I’ve decided to back off from the Summer of PlayStation series over at Retroware and instead will be keeping to Consoleation-style topics only. The pilot Summer of PlayStation piece didn’t get much of a response, and I think a tribute piece in time for the September 9th anniversary will fare better. My goal is to write it next week, once I capture some photos to go with it.

My next Hit The Pass topic is already in my head, and it’s a case of capturing more photos and then just getting it written. In fact, I have two topics already in the chute. If you missed my first piece for the site, you can check it out here. I’m also active on the site’s weekly roundtable topic discussions. Being a part of this project is meaningful to me because I love writing about my experiences with older sports games as much as I enjoy playing them.

Last but not least, I’ll be back to my goal of writing here once a week. I have a lot of things to catch up on, and now that my health is returning, I can finally get started again. One thing that I’m strongly considering is to salute some of the YouTube content creators who have inspired me by writing about their work and sharing it here. One of the best ways to compliment a content creator is to share his/her work with others, so that more eyes and ears can experience and consume it.

RetroWorld Expo Update:

We’re three months away from the RetroWorld Expo, and time is quickly ticking by. I’ve talked about it on camera already, but as we get closer, it’s worth reminding everyone about what is already shaping up to be a great event. The guest list is already stacked, with awesome people including The Game Chasers (Billy & Jay: Chodes Supreme), Alpha Omega Sin (whose passion for gaming is fiery), The Gaming Historian (one of the smartest guys I know), Pixel Dan (all-around good guy), Eric Lappe (of LET’S GET! fame, from Retroware), Banjo Guy Ollie (musician extraordinaire and also part of the Retroware family), and John & Lance (Retroware co-creators and all-around passionate guys). There are more guest announcements coming, too.

In addition to the guests and panels, there will be a free play arcade, a console gaming area, pinball machines (my favorite!), tournaments, and lots of gaming stuff to buy. Members of the Retroware family will also be on hand, likely manning the Retroware booth, and you’re almost certain to run into new faces who enjoy the same kinds of things that you do. It’s a great networking opportunity, and it’s going to be an absolute blast. Plus… I’m gonna be there! (What more do you need?)

Tickets are still on sale for $30. If you get them at the door, it’ll be more expensive– so grab ’em as soon as you can!

That’s a wrap for this Status Report. Thanks again to all for your get well wishes and continued support of the website and the YouTube channel. I’m sure looking forward to having turned the page from June to July, and to getting back into the swing of things.

Shooting Straight: Don’t Call It A Comeback (Yet)

 

If you missed my E3 2015 wrap-up piece from last week, I hope that you’ll check it out. It was a fun piece to write and, honestly, it was the result of a rekindled interest in modern console gaming… something that I haven’t felt in awhile.

In fact, I’ve given some thought to getting back into writing about modern console video games again, perhaps as part of a website. E3 week really made me stop and reflect on some things, most notably whether walking away from gaming press back in 2013 was really the best move. When I look back on why I walked away, a lot of it had to do with putting pressure on myself to try and make a career out of what I was doing… and when I found out that it wasn’t going to happen, I decided to move on. I recall being told by several people when I made up my mind that I’d probably regret it… but when I didn’t feel it after the first year of my “retirement”, I never expected to feel the way that I’ve felt over the past week or so.

I feel engaged. Invested. Interested. Excited.

My attitude about writing is a bit different now; I’m interested in coming back because I honestly had fun doing what I had done for all of those years. My writing improved over time, I fulfilled long-standing dreams by getting to go to E3 for three years, and I learned a ton about video games in general. I enjoyed writing reviews, which is something that I’ve done since I first dabbled in writing online back in the late 1990s. I really enjoyed writing sales analysis pieces, even though frustrations crept in as time went on and data was scarce. I thought that I held my own pretty well, but gave in for the wrong reasons.

I don’t know what the next step will be at this point, but I will say that the change in perspective and motivation has been pretty inspiring. As with this website, my videos, and my collaboration projects… money/career isn’t really my main goal. It’s hoping that my work gets read or seen, and hoping that people will enjoy or learn something from my work. My career path lies elsewhere, and I’m okay with that. I can focus on the aspect of just having fun and enjoying writing about something that I have a fair amount of knowledge and passion about.

I guess that the E3 wrap-up piece was an indirect audition, to see for myself if I still might have what it takes… and whether I really can go home again.

In the meantime, this week’s video will be a little bit later than usual. I’m recovering from a fairly serious health scare which had me bedridden for much of Father’s Day weekend, so I’m continuing to take it easy for another couple of days. I’m also hoping that the severe thunderstorm outbreak expected here in Southern New England today doesn’t cause too much damage or extended power/Internet outages. In any event, I won’t be doing much of anything productive until Thursday or Friday this week and using the time to recover and get my strength back.

I can’t wrap this up with bad news, though… so let me share this photo:

June22Pickups

I picked these games up for $10 total at a local Salvation Army recently. It was a timely find as I’ve been gradually building my library of original PlayStation games, and it was also a bonus to find these games all complete with discs and manuals in excellent shape. The copy of Resident Evil 3 even has the Dino Crisis demo disc, which is awesome. Finally, it was an amazing deal, in comparison to market value. PriceCharting has a combined value for these five games at $45, so I saved $35 thanks to this find. Obviously, Resident Evil 3 is the jewel in this set, commanding nearly $20 alone. I guess this means that I need to seek out the first two Resident Evil games and give them another try, huh?

Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading, and I’m hoping to have the new video up by week’s end.

 

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