Archive for October, 2012


Okay, I might be pushing it with the whole “video game blog” angle with this one. Granted, it’s video game-like, and had a video games company sponsor the show, but it’s a bit different than what you think.

Just about anyone who was born in the late ’80s to early ’90s may remember Nick Arcade, that awful Nickelodeon game show with an annoying black host, rejected Double Dare contestants, and having a prototype of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on an episode. If you’re older, you might remember Video Power, that weird “video game tips” show turned sub-par game show in its second season. At least that one had the guy from Remote Control doing the music. And for all the old farts out there, you probably remember Starcade when was new. Or you’re like me and remember it when G4 reran it constantly, before the network was total garbage. But I bet you don’t remember this weird video game-meets-game show entity: Throut & Neck, a Game Show Network original that briefly ran in 1999.

The late 1990s was a weird time for Game Show Network. Before they had aired bad Candid Camera knockoffs, before they reran The Amazing Race daily, even before that weird “We’re not just game shows” phase where they thought giving Scrabble host Chuck Woolery a reality show was a good idea, they were on this ridiculously weird interactive TV kick. Interactive versions of The Price is Right were broadcast among other call-in and win shows. Throut & Neck is one of the few examples of GSN experimenting with these interactive call-in shows.

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It’s gonna be a double-header for game finds this time around. We’re gonna be covering not only the stuff I got from last weekend’s haul at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, but also what I stumbled upon after PAX back in early September. It’s gonna be a fun one, indeed.

I got these three games after PAX finished in Seattle. I had some free time to kill before I had to get to the train station, so I had a donut at Top Pot Doughnuts — highly recommend you do so if you’re visiting Seattle — and found a Value Village several blocks away from where the main convention center was. After poking around the store, which was in an old building as it had freight elevators, I found these three gems.

Police Quest 2: The Vengeance and The Colonel’s Bequest are classic Sierra-published games. This was back in Sierra’s hey day, when they made a whole bunch of adventure game titles. Granted, most of them have not aged well, but having the complete box copies of both games is a treat. The Colonel’s Bequest was the first game in a mystery series starring Laura Bow, which she returned in another Sierra game a few years later, The Dagger of Amon Ra. I have no idea if this is any good. Police Quest 2 is probably the same silly stuff that most Sierra games did where you had to follow every step of police procedure to the absolute letter. The series had a few games, including a spinoff series, SWAT, which went from being a bad FMV game to a strategy game to a solid squad FPS that rivaled Rainbow Six in its day. Police Quest 2 had copied 5 1/4″ floppies of the game in the box, which is weird since the original disks are already inside. I guess somebody didn’t watch Don’t Copy That Floppy. Both games were $3 each.

Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters, on the other hand, was more of a gimmick purchase. It had never been opened, and one copy there had a dozen price stickers on it, going from $20, to $10, to $5, and probably $1-2 by the end of it. Pat Sajak’s first foray into video games, it’s a hybrid of crossword puzzles with the game show “The Joker’s Wild.” Put into a sleek casual games package, it’s probably worth looking into later. This would also be Pat Sajak’s video game debut, despite being the host of Wheel of Fortune since 1982, he didn’t actually appear in a Wheel game until very recently, in the 2010 Wheel game for the Wii. I wonder why it took him so long before he finally caved in…

The rest of PAX swag was a shitload of buttons, energy drinks, cards and promo stuff, and Guitar Hero: Van Halen. I can thank One of Swords for the last one. Now onto the Portland Retro Gaming Expo stuff.

Oh dear, there’s a lot of stuff here. Let’s go through it from the upper-left forward:

  • Politicians 2009 trading cards: Somebody was giving these away as I left the expo on Sunday evening. Have no clue what they are, what they’re for, nor do I care. Free anyhow.
  • Pitfall! (2600): The 2600 classic. Signed by David Crane himself. I could’ve gotten a better copy of it, but I didn’t have time to look through the vendors to find a more pristine copy, so this will do. $2.
  • Super C (NES): The sequel to Contra. All of the major Contra games are kinda pricey these days due to high demand, including not-quite-a-Contra-game Contra Force. But I was able to get a good price on this one. $8.
  • Dragon Warrior (NES): Never was a JRPG guy, but I had to own the NES classic that started the famed Dragon Quest series, as well as being a common pack-in for Nintendo Power subscribers. Bought it from Chris Kohler’s little booth, which had a bunch of little interesting games here and there. $4.
  • Metal Gear and Snake’s Revenge (NES): Ah yes, the bastard childs of the Metal Gear franchise. A few friends of mine were talking about those games, and I decided to go hunt these down for kicks. I found Snake’s Revenge at one booth, and had a random convention goer find me Metal Gear at another booth. $5 for each one.
  • Aphids on the Lettuce: You know that circuit-bending system guy I mentioned in the last entry? Well, he was giving these away as well. His circuit-bending stuff is real interesting, I’d love to know more sometime. As for the CD, it’s some mashup CD of Beck tunes, and I’m not a big Beck fan. Can’t complain about free stuff, though.
  • Double Dragon (NES): The NES brawler classic. That one game Jimmy Woods got 50,000 points in 2 minutes on The Wizard. I owned Double Dragon II, but not the original. And I’m certainly not looking for Double Dragon III, even though I’d love to play as Bimmy and Jimmy. $6.
  • Jeopardy! (NES): Ah yes, a video game adaption of the game show classic. This is a funny story: I once bought a box of Jeopardy! for the NES several years back for $1. The box was beat up, the manual was in good shape, but there was one problem: The game inside was Jeopardy! 25th Anniversary Edition, which was released 3 years later. I still kept it in the original Jeopardy! box and had not realized I didn’t have the original game until very recently. Got this one for free along with Double Dragon above. It also had a metric fuckton of stickers, of which I still didn’t get rid of all of them.
  • John Madden Football ’92 (Genesis): The only Genesis game of the lot, I got this for two reasons: Because it’s a dirt cheap football game, and it’s the one Madden game that had the ambulance for injuries that they took out of Madden ’93. $1. Insert your Moonbase Alpha “john madden” joke here.
  • Star Raiders (2600): Some booth was giving this away for free on Sunday. No idea if it works. Probably does, I rarely hear of busted 2600 carts.

That’s it. Honestly, I could’ve gotten more, but what I got is good enough. I would’ve liked to check out the NES and SNES reproductions, but I ain’t paying $75 to play a translated Live a Live on my SNES. Especially since I could probably get those for half that online. These people need to not jack up the price so damn much on those, I bet they’d sell more if they were reasonably priced, like $30 or something.

Now I’m gonna go and dust off my NES and clean all these games and see if they work. or I’ll ignore them and play more Doom mods instead, which is the more likely result.

Last year, after PAX Prime 2011 ended, I found out there was a local retro games covention around Portland called the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Apparently it had been running for several years, and I was unaware of its existence, so I decided to head over to the event. Despite the small venue – it was in a hotel convention area not too far from the Lloyd Center mall – I had a blast buying a few games to fulfill my ever-increasing collection. Well, a year has passed and the Portland Retro Gaming Expo came back for its seventh year. This time, they kicked things into overdrive as they moved facilities to the much larger Oregon Convention Center just off downtown Portland. Though the ticket prices jumped due to the venue change – $20 for a day, $25 for both days – I still expected to have a lot of fun.

On Saturday, I grabbed a friend along for the ride. He hasn’t played much video games, but did remember messing around with old Kaypro, Macintoshes and Commodore 64s that some of the vendors had, while occasionally talking about the classic Atari 2600 and NES eras. Since it was in the convention center, the place had many different vendors selling off all sorts of things: Old computers, Nintendo Power magazines — since the magazine is due to shut down in a few months — NES and SNES game reproductions, Tiger Electronics handhelds, various toys and figures, comic books and other assorted nerdy things. There was an absolute breadth of stuff there. My wallet took a hit during the whole event, which I’ll chronicle later.

Pictured: John Hancock, Steve Lin, “Gamemaster” Howard Phillips, and Chris Kohler.

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