|Image by GeekTyrant.com
This blog entry is gonna be quite different than my usual ones. I'm looking for help from you guys this time around. I was recently offered a position to write for a local magazine. It has a small area of distribution, but regardless, I'm very excited about it. I get a whole page to write about gaming once each quarter. I can discuss something new, something old, board games, video games, RPGs, card games, and basically, whatever gaming related topic I want. The book will have an overall theme, and I have been asked to try and make my topic relevant to the theme for the issue.
My first article is already printed and out in public. I would like you guys to read over my article below and throw your brutal and honest feedback at me. I had very little time to put this one together, so I fully expect future articles to improve with more time to plan and revise. The theme of this issue was "Revolution." I used this broad topic as a way to introduce myself as a writer and my relevance to the subject matter. Please let me know what you think:
Continue reading Crabmaster Gets Published!
Another year, another RetroWorld Expo. As a show organizer, it is an insanely fun and exhausting experience. It's amazing to see how the expo has grown in just a few short years. Let's take a look at RetroWorld Expo 2016.
Continue reading RetroWorld Expo 2016
Running your own business can be very rewarding. It also comes with it's fair share of headaches. Shoplifting and theft is a constant problem for pretty much any retail establishment. Here are some of our stories regarding the subject.
Continue reading Blog Quest: Batman By Day, Game Store Owner By Night
So many games and so few places to shove them. Atlantic shelves are decent enough, but they are expensive and made of particle board. Billy bookcases are solid, but way too deep if you are just storing games, and also on the expensive side. Is there a way to build nice, shallow wall shelving that will accommodate loose carts as well as boxed games, DVDs, and Blu Rays? Yes.
Continue reading Getting Organized and Staying Organized: Wall Shelves
I consider myself a fair, upstanding, and generous person (*cough*) and I like that some people have that opinion of me. Collecting is an exciting hobby in that many of us see ourselves as Indiana Jones-like explorers who scavenge local garage sales, thrift stores, and "antique" stores in an attempt to upturn games and consoles at great prices and add them to our personal museums. Oftentimes, when we find duplicates or valuable items for games/systems we don't collect, we may turn these over to game stores, sell them on auction sites, or sell/trade them with friends to reinvest in our collections. Of all of these interactions, dealing with friends and people you are in contact with on a regular basis is the most personal, and can sometimes result in awkward or less than favorable interactions. I was recently involved in one of these "transactions" and this is my story. Ladies and gentlemen: "The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent."
Continue reading Buying From Friends: A Cautionary Tale
So you own and/or work at a game store. Pretty awesome, right? You get to constantly be around the things that you love.....but do you actually get to enjoy them??
For the past 2 and half years, I've been running and working at Game Quest as well as a second full-time job doing night shifts. I knew it was going to be busy and cut down significantly on one of my favorite things, my gaming time. Our city had long been in need of a good gaming store, so I felt it would be worth the temporary (hopefully) cut in my free time. The plan was, and still is, to get the store to a point where it doesn't neccessarily need me around to operate so that I can continue to do the things I enjoy and still offer my city a place to sell, buy, and play games of all types.
Continue reading Blog Quest - Enjoying Your Hobbies
The Handsome Group of Organizers Responsible For Power Up Prince George
Being in a relatively small town and this being our first event, we decided that it would be best to make sure the operating costs were as low as possible so that our goals would be very obtainable. We wanted nothing more than to have a fun event that could be considered a success so that we could make it an annual event. With that in mind, we wanted to have at least 100 people attend the event at some point during the day and raise at least $2000 for the Child Development Center.
Long story short we exceed both of our goals. But you want the long story so click the link below........
Continue reading Blog Quest: It's For The Children - Part 2
Two years ago, we started Game Quest exclusively as a video game store. Now that we have the space, we've jumped into all sorts of other games. Many of these, like Magic and a lot of board games, I've played and am very comfortable with, but as we keep getting requests and bring in new products to try, I find myself exploring all sorts of new games, many of which have turned out to be a ton of fun!!
Continue reading Blog Quest: Look at all these games!!!
We've all heard that old chestnut at one point or another during our lives: "It takes a village to raise a Game Store". I've learned firsthand how true that is over the last couple years though.....
Continue reading Blog Quest: The Crew
After a great showing at our local fan convention and nearly two years in our tiny downtown location, we were starting to feel more cramped than ever in our store. It had felt small very early on, but it was just getting worse and worse as we had more customers and product coming in. Especially, since we wanted to add tabletop games in a significant way and didn't have the space to do it properly. It was feeling more and more like it was time to start shopping around for a new home for Game Quest!
Continue reading Blog Quest - Location Scouting
The hook brings you ba-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.
One of the things I love most about RF Generation is the great diversity of members that I get to converse with on our forums. Our members vary in gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, social beliefs, and especially in their game system/developer preference. Even so, our community has always been the kind where difference of opinion is accepted and embraced, and is even used as a means for looking at video gaming in general in a different light. As an older member of the site, I've always felt right at home reminiscing about classics with the rest of the "geezers" (like Duke, who is much older than me) and having great conversations with younger members regarding their gaming history. Though many of us differ in age, there is one thing that many of us have in common.......kids.
At this point in my life, I have two young kids, ages four (a boy) and seven (a girl). Like some of you, I've always had this dream of sharing my collection with my kids and playing alongside them through the same games I grew up on. Though some of you may not be at this point in your lives yet, but may be considering having kids, you've probably at least had the same thought at some point. I'm by no means the perfect parent, and when it comes to getting my kids involved in gaming, I've had my share of failures and successes. However, my kids have really gotten into gaming recently and are begging me every night to go up to the gameroom. Honestly, it's f@*king awesome! So, in the course of coming up with an article for the front page, I decided that reflecting on what methods in getting my kids interested in gaming worked for me, as well as what I could have done better to peak their interest, might be a good topic. Below are a few observations that may be helpful if you want to get your kids to enjoy gaming:
Continue reading What to Expect, When You're Expecting Your Kids to Be Gamers
A couple years ago my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend our first ever Fan Convention in Calgary, Alberta. I was very excited and prior to the event, I had my wife watch through a plethora of nerdy movies so that she would be well-versed on many of the attending celebrity guests. I knew it was something I'd enjoy, but I wasn't sure my wife would find enough to keep her entertained for the entire three days. Much to my delight, she seemed to enjoy herself as much as I did. From checking out the amazing cosplay, to taking in the often hilarious speaking panels, to meeting strange new people while waiting in line for autographs, and even embarrassing herself while speaking with her childhood crush, Sean Patrick Flanery (she was a big fan of Young Indiana Jones), we both had one of the best weekends we have ever spent together.
Much to our delight, we learned that our own city was scheduled to host a fan convention, aptly named Northern FanCon! This time though we had the unique option of attending as a vendor as opposed to a typical guest.
Continue reading Blog Quest: Un"Convention"al Appearance - Part I
Psycho cracks a seal!
Today marks our first point v. counterpoint article where two of our bloggers will go head-to-head to debate one of collecting's hottest topics: the state of collecting sealed games. In the red corner we have the man with the plan, the author of this statement, the most handsome man in the history of the universe, SirPsycho! And in the blue corner, we have the second most handsome man in the same history, slackur!
Continue reading RF Generation Blogger Point v. Counterpoint #1: Sealed Video Games
So you've been operating your retro game store for a few months now and things are going better than you could have hoped. Customers are happy, new stock is getting traded in on a regular basis, bank account is moving in the right direction. Nothing can bring you down. Cue Bylaw Enforcement Officer..........
Continue reading Blog Quest: Getting Political - Part I
I finally got a working copy of Snatcher on Sega CD this week (I've owned the import Playstation version for a long time but can't read Japanese) and went through it mostly in one sitting.
It is quite remarkable, coming from someone who went through the entirety of American Metal Gear games first, to go back and see what is essentially the prototype CD-ROM narrative of Hideo's work. Every major facet Hideo is known for is present in Snatcher, and since both the man's ideas and the technology were both so relatively new at the time, to go back and review it seems to almost distill what makes a Kojima project into its very essence.
The heavy clash of anime and western influences. The repeated fourth-wall breaks and humor. The obsession with humanizing technology while showing the isolating effects. The noir style. The jazz overtones in the drama scenes. The overcooked dialogue and emoting. The crazy plotting and pacing. The stretched out to ridiculousness monologues. The romantic entanglements and hero worship. Humanity needs a savior from outside of humanity mantras. Tons of hidden or easy-to-miss easter eggs and secrets. Walking robots.
***MGS3 and Snatcher spoilers ahead alerts !!!***
Heck, huge chunks of Metal Gear Solid 3, my personal favorite of that series, seems lifted right out of Snatcher, including Cold War east-west tensions, genetic manipulation, father/son legacy issues with elements of patricide, secret government WMDs that fell into private hands, impossible resurrections, double agents, I could go on and on. I was amazed over and over at the copied elements.
The technical elements were very similar in many ways as well. Both Snatcher and every MGS title were known to push technological limits of the hardware at the time; while Snatcher doesn't expand the Sega CD into new territory like the MGS games did with Sony's hardware, the use of the then new CD storage was put to justified use.
Snatcher has lots of voice-overs, CD-quality music, a rather lengthy story, and it's own in-game accessible historical database of game fiction to dig into. It was one of the first Sega CD games that simply could not have been as engrossing on a cart.
It also has almost no gameplay. And I love it for that.
When I wrote earlier that I went though all the American Metal Gear games, that's true, from a certain point of view. I myself completed MGS and over half of MGS2. But the gameplay mechanics began to really frustrate me in 2, feeling overly complicated and unintuitive. All the immersive factors in the world are lost to me when after four hours of play I still fumble with the controls. I don't know exactly why. But I played MSG 3 and 4 and felt the same way.
Thankfully, my buddy Arkyst is a real MGS nut and doesn't have the same hang ups, so he took me through all of MGS 2,3, and 4 and even showed me all of the little tricks and secrets. I love those games, I just can't play them well.
But Snatcher is a different animal all-together. The closest it comes to a traditional video game is the arcade-like shooting scenes, where you use the d-pad and select a quadrant (the screen is divided into a 3 X 3 grid) and press a button to shoot. They get fast-paced, but out of an eight hour experience there are perhaps around half a dozen times you do this (and few other times the game requires you to shoot once or twice.)
The rest of the gameplay is simply selecting from menus, using the look and investigate commands on the same selections of each area repeatedly. It may sound boring, but it turns the experience into more of an interactive graphic novel, or better yet an electronic choose-your-own-adventure book. The story is good enough (and the voice acting and writing tolerable enough) that you want to solve the mystery, and the game's universe consistent and well thought out enough that everything makes sense in the context of the well developed background. Most things in Snatcher reach around to get full circle in a way that even good novels often miss the mark, not to mention the hack job that often passes for a video game narrative.
Unlike MGS 2 and up, I could play Snatcher, and it almost never got in the way. That is, until the very end, in which the shooting sequence took a Mount Everest sized spike in difficulty that saw me getting out the Genesis Justifier light gun to get past, as the d-pad went from passable to yeah-right. This end bit was admittedly a klaxon in a symphony. There has to be a better way to ratchet up the tension at the end.
For a game that requires little more than for you to stay awake and occasionally solve an obtuse puzzle for 98% of the time, you are suddenly expected to have cat-like reflexes for the rest of the 2% of gameplay. Imagine getting through a Zelda game, reaching Ganon, and suddenly you have to play through a Battletoads 3rd stage hyperbike scene with no recourse in order to see the ending. That's comparatively what Snatcher pulled, and while I finished it, it was jarring.
Nonetheless, overall it was a refreshing experience, and now I desperately want to go through the spiritual-successor follow up, Policenauts. Unfortunately that never made it over here in the States, and I'm not sure I'm brave enough to try a patch method. Ah, who am I kidding. One day I'll try.
Snatcher was a great experience that made me briefly re-evaluate what a game is, and somewhat surprised me (even more so than the MGS games) into remembering that for all the critics of cut-scenes over gameplay, everyone's understanding of interactivity is a little different. I enjoyed 'playing' Snatcher more than the MGS games not because it controlled better, but because the 'gameplay' fit like a glove for the format (until the very end) and I could sit back and enjoy it instead of being hampered by gameplay choices that I might not overcome. I doubt I'd have ever experienced the rest of the MGS saga if it weren't for Arkyst (I put many, many hours into MGS 4, I really tried) and it would be a shame if that happened to Snatcher as well.
So, even though it is still pricey, I HIGHLY recommend Snatcher if:
a) you are a Hideo Kojima fan and want to see how much his early stuff fits in with the rest
b) you like Blade Runner (of which the story is 85% derivative of)
c) you are a fan of Cyber Punk and Sci-Fi
d) you enjoy the type of gameplay found in the likes of Hotel Dusk, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, and the Carmen Sandiego series
e) you want to see a game that really needed an M rating for violence, blood and gore (if only for a few scenes)
f) you are collecting Sega CD games and want something to flush the taste of 'Lawnmower Man' down
g) you want to see an inventive and eclectic puzzle design (seriously, the Oleen puzzle was nifty after you recheck your inventory and know what it wants, but the extra letter at the end of the real answer made it a bit too unnecessarily abstract for me.)
h) you want to see a club in a video game that contains people dressed up like the Contra guys, Goeman, Dracula, Simon Belmont, and Sparkster (that scene was so cool!)
i) Dude, you should number lists if they're gonna hit 'I'
j) Seriously, you made it to 'J'?
But enough talk. Have at you!
(Yes, I know the difference between Hideo and IGA. But both the title and end references are from Konami and the title fit. Hush.)