OPINION: Glitches and World Record Status

Recently a video has emerged of someone glitching Super Mario World to the end credits in about 5 minutes. You’ve probably seen it already as it has garnished almost a million videos on Youtube, was being mentioned on many gamer’s Twitter feeds, and had a write up on Kotaku. The video can be viewed: here.

Some people have argued if whether or not its a “world record” performance, others have questioned the authenticity of the video, and still others have praised the performance. I personally believe its authentic – but whether or not it was done with real hardware I can’t say for sure. If you have an opinion or not about it I think its significant to point out that retro games have really transitioned into something that I can only describe as being “beyond entertainment.”

There is absolutely a nostalgic factor with retro games. It’s an amazing feeling to fire up a console and relive memories from our youths. Youtube has allowed us to see amazing performances in games, and now we’re seeing new generations of fans, who did not necessarily grow up with the games -taking new approaches to unlock their secrets -secrets that many of us have never imagined. Secrets that perhaps the original programmers never imagined would be discovered.

In 2009 an Easter Egg in the Atari 400 version of Donkey Kong was revealed 26 years after it’s release (click here for the article.) And over the summer of 2014 a weird vine glitch was demonstrated in Super Mario Bros (click here for that article.) These two examples aren’t even the tip of the iceberg of the amazing new glitches and discoveries that are being made every day. It was only ten days ago that I encountered a glitch in the NES version of Spy Hunter that I had never seen before (click here to check that out) and I got to tell you, it was an AMAZING FEELING to experience something that weird.

So kudos to those who are trying to unlock the secrets, and kudos to the legions of fans who allow themselves to be amazed by these accomplishments. Retro games have just gotten more interesting!

Intellivision and Colecovision Flashback Review

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I received my Colecovision and Intellivision Flashback consoles yesterday for $32 a piece with free shipping from Dollar General.  Before I go into too much detail let me preface this review by explaining that I never touched a real Intellivision (referred to as INTV from here forward) and as for Colecovision (referred to as Coleco from here forward) it was my first console that i received when I was 7 years old.

Both systems came with 61 games preprogrammed into a form factor similar in size to a Nintendo Wii.  The INTV sports a wood grain finished presumably similar to the original Console where as the Coleco has a silver trim motif similar to the original console.

Both feature controllers based on their original designs.  I can’t speak to how similar the INTV controllers are but the Coleco ones are lighter than the original ones with a smaller stem on the joystick and what feels like a clickable membrane.

Both systems have av cables and use a the same slim factor ac power supply.

My experience with the Intellivision Flashback was not a memorable one.  After less than 30 minutes of play I was already repackaging it up.  From what I’ve read the INTV controllers were an abomination and these ones must be pretty near to the original design because they were equally frustrating to use.  I can’t recall the names of the games I tried but do remember playing the wrestling game.  It looked promising with a variety of characters, moves, a ring, and decent animations.  But the controls were so archaic in this and the other games that it was a pain to even maneuver the menus much less play the games.  Maybe I’m missing something but I felt that even at $32 this was not a value for anyone interested in a retro game system.

Although it wasn’t as bad as the INTV the Coleco wasn’t much better.  The collection of games were a bit more recognizable (which was my concern when I first saw the game list when it was announced) but the system is heavy with homebrew and edutainment games most of which the average Coleco player has never seen before much less play.  Zaxxon, Venture, and Cosmic Avenger were the recognizable games to me with Choplifter and Jungle Hunt being decent ports.  Although I’ve seen copies of Choplifter on eBay, I’m not entirely certain Jungle Hunt was officially released.  Its a decent port.

All-in-all I’d suggest passing on both systems if you are fans of the originals.  Its clear both systems are meant to be impulse buys intended to capitalize on the INTV and Coleco names.  If there is anything good about either of these systems it is that you will likely find these systems appearing in thrift stores come spring time.

OPINION: Why I Won’t Be Purchasing The Games From The Atari Landfill

For as much as I love video games and appreciate the history of the industry there comes a point in time where you have to draw the line.  The line in this case being the fact that the Atari landfill games, are coming from… well, a landfill.  If you’re not familiar with this story here is the short version: this past year a team dug up thousands of Atari games from a New Mexico landfill.  The event was filmed for a documentary and some of the games themselves were sent to museums and the remainders are now up on eBay.

Game collecting is my life and the Atari, just like other games from my youth holds a very special place in my heart.  In fact I love Atari so much that I programmed Desert Bus for the 2600 which you can purchase here: Desert Bus 2600  if you are interested.  But there is something disturbing about collecting games that have rested in a landfill for three decades.

Landfills are dangerous.  And some might argue that the games were buried so deep that bacteria couldn’t possibly survive the depth that the games were found.  I don’t believe that.  It’s also been argued that in the areas to where the games were found no chemical hazards were dumped.  I don’t believe that either.  People have always found ways to dump trash where it shouldn’t belong, and unless every tiny piece of trash was examined before dumping into the Atari landfill its likely there is something dangerous out there.

And looking past my phobias, it’s just gross.  Perhaps I’m being a hypocrite.  All of us willingly exposes ourselves to toxic chemicals and dangerous situations the difference is we normally don’t purchase it from eBay, crushed and filthy, and hang it from our wall our mantle.

OPINION: Are These Amazing Video Game Finds A Bunch Of Bull?

So one guy got a copy of Power Blade 2 for $5 from a retro store that “he’s friends with”. Another found a complete copy of Earthbound for $2 at a yard sale he just happened to walk by. Then there was the 50 cent copy of Chip and Dale 2 for NES that a grandmother bought at a church flea market.

After decades of collecting I am astounded by the luck some of these collectors have.  I have had a bit of luck myself over the years:  A $5 copy of Dusty Diamond, $4.99 for Alex Kidd in Shinobi World.  $3 MegaMan X3.  Now that I think about it, those are probably the most significant finds I had the privilege of stumbling upon.  Each had a bit of wear on them, Alex Kidd was missing the manual, and Mega Man X3 I never bothered to test to see if it even worked.

But it seems to me that there is a sharp increase in the amount of “luck” that game collectors are having nowadays – especially those who are fairly new to the scene.  I scan about 12 different “game find” threads across a variety of different gaming sites every week and more and more allegedly rare and uncommon games, like Power Blade 2 and Earthbound seemingly keep being discovered.  If true, I am happy and jealous for them.  I’m excited just to find games out in the wild, much less uncommon games, or dare I say “rare” ones.

But I’ve concluded that the majority of these “rare find” posts are a bunch of crap.  Although I don’t doubt that these collectors have these games, I am just highly suspicious of the stories behind them.  I won’t call out any specific posts, but I’m sure you’ve seen the formula before: “You won’t believe what I found!  Insert amazing story!  Insert amazing price!”  Then the kicker, the reason why I have to call bull on these posts: why do these collectors ask “How well did I do?”

Well, I’ll tell you how well you did: Congrats on this ‘rare find’ and ‘great price’.  Your story was captivating and interesting.  The label on that cartridge is amazing, as if it was hand plucked or meticulously selected from a sea of other eBay posts.  OOPS!  Did I just say that?  I’m sorry  – I meant to say great find.  And as for your question of ‘How well did I do?’ – you clearly got an uncommon game, in great shape, for a great price, so how about you tell us how well you did?’

Perhaps if there was the occasional post of someone over paying for a copy of Anticipation on NES and asking how well they did I wouldn’t be so cynical.  Perhaps if I spent less time on those threads and more time making corrections and improvements on this site I’d be able to report more accurate prices.  Perhaps all of these stories are true and I’m just jealous because I don’t have that kind of ‘luck’ or perhaps I’m right and the stories are bull.

But even if they are bull they are entertaining, so please don’t stop.