27 December 1996

How to Start a Classic Video Game Collection Part 2: The System Choices - The Atari Trio (originally for Suite 101)

[Suite 101 articles introduction]

In this article I'll start discussing and comparing the major classic video game consoles. If you are still undecided after my last article, this should help you decide which one you would like to start collecting. Your best bet is to start with the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 5200, Magnavox Odyssey², Mattel Intellivision, or Coleco Colecovision. In this article, I'll discuss the three Atari systems. Next time I'll cover the latter three.

I'll start with the Atari 2600 and use it as the yardstick by which to measure the other systems. The reason I’m choosing the 2600 is because it was the world’s most popular video game console up until the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and it remains the favorite of classic collectors. You should have no problem starting a 2600 collection, as 2600 consoles and games are by far the easiest to find. Early 2600 games have primitive graphics and sound, but many later games pull off some amazing graphics feats, particularly considering what the programmers had to work with. The 2600 also had a variety of controllers available for it that gives it a larger variation in types of games than most other systems. The controllers are fairly sturdy, although paddles are known to deteriorate with time. This can be fixed, however. All in all, the 2600 is an excellent choice for a beginning collector.

The Atari 7800 is another excellent choice because it can also play 2600 games (with a few exceptions). The 7800 does nothing to improve the 2600 games, but having a 7800 would give you a slightly larger base of games to collect. Atari 7800s are rarer than many of the other systems discussed here, so you might want to pick up a 2600 until you find one. 7800 games have excellent graphics (on par with the NES), although the sound is generally little improved from the 2600. The 7800 joysticks are notorious for giving hand cramps, but 2600 games and many 7800 games can be played with 2600 controllers.

The Atari 5200 was released between the 2600 and 7800. It's generally not too difficult to find one or games for it. Its graphics ability is between the 2600 and 7800, but its sound is generally better than both. An adapter exists which allows you to play 2600 games, but it is hard to find. The main downfall of the 5200 are its controllers. It comes with a pair of joysticks that are notorious for being worn out and very hard to fix. Furthermore, unlike 2600 and 7800 joysticks, they can act as both joysticks or paddles and they do not automatically return to the center position. This makes some games more difficult. Although some alternative controllers exist that are better, they are quite rare.

By now you should have a handle on the Atari systems. Of the three, I'd recommend starting with a 2600, or a 7800 if you can find one. They offer the most variety, larger game libraries, and easier to find alternative controllers. Next time we’ll see how the major non-Atari systems stack up.

Copyright 1996, i5ive communications inc. Used with permission.

02 December 1996

How to Start A Classic Video Game Collection Part 1: Picking a System (originally for Suite 101)

[Suite 101 articles introduction]

If you're new to the hobby of collecting classic video games, you might be wondering how you should start a collection. If you're lucky, you still own your childhood system. If you're not so lucky, I'll give you some advice in this first series of editorials. Future editorials will cover a quick comparison of the systems, where to find them, and what prices you can expect to pay. For now, let's get started by trying to choose a system to start your collection.

You have lots of choices, but you're probably better off starting with something relatively easy to find with a large library of cartridges. By far, the easiest system to find (and find games for) is the Atari 2600. Next would be the Mattel Intellivision. After that, it depends on where you live, but likely choices are the Magnavox Odyssey², Coleco Colecovision, Atari 5200, and Atari 7800. There is one special case: the GCE/Milton Bradley Vectrex. If you see one, buy it! (If it's reasonably priced, which for a Vectrex is $30 and under.) If you don't like it, you'll be able to sell it or trade it for nearly any other system because of its rarity.

Of course, there are other factors to consider. You might want to collect for the system you used to have so long ago. You might even go searching at thrift stores and yard sales and just start with the first system you find. If you're particularly wealthy, you might just go out and buy everything you can find. All of these choices are fine. It's just a hobby, so there is no right or wrong. I would encourage you to start with a system you know or suspect you would enjoy playing. That's the reason most people start this hobby; they simply enjoy the games.

If you're still uncertain which system would be best for you, I'll briefly discuss each in my next editorial. Meanwhile, I encourage you to use the classic home video games resources here at Suite 101 to start learning on your own.

Copyright 1996 i5ive communications inc. Used with permission.

[April 26, 2013: Actually, I think anything under $100 was pretty reasonable for a Vectrex back then. Today, under $100 would seem to be a really good price for one in good shape.]

Thanksgiving finds (Goldmine lost)

[Originally posted to rec.games.video.classic.]

Well, I went to visit in-laws out of town for Thanksgiving. I did a little searching and came up with a few items, but no 2600 cartridges I didn't already have and no 7800 cartridges at all. My best 2600 find was Slot Machine. I did find some interesting 2600 controllers, though. One is actually a Sears Video Arcade II (Atari 2800) controller. The other is a joystick where you can wind the cord into the base by twisting the joystick. Cool! 8)

The most frustrating find was Art Master for the Vectrex. Frustrating because there was no Vectrex or light pen in sight. 8( Now I have a cart that plays pretty intro music and then leaves me with a menu of three choices I can't pick. Thank goodness for the emulator!

I was also saddened to learn that my gold mine, which I posted about a few years ago, is gone now. I had tried to visit it twice before now, only to find it closed at the times. This time it was open but the old owner sold it to another guy who cleaned things out. He still has 2600 cartridges, but he also said there were Sum Guys (Great, he's multiplying. 8( ), who came in regularly and went through the 2600 stuff. Judging from the 5200 cartridges, they go through those too. (Pac-Man, Centipede, Pac-Man, Pac-Man, Centipede, Centipede. Oooh, look: Super Breakout! [That's sarcasm, son.])

01 November 1996

Classic Home Video Games: An Introduction (originally for Suite 101)

[Suite 101 articles introduction]

So just what is a classic home video game, anyway? Well, here is my answer. A classic home video console is any console released in the U.S.A. from the beginning of video games (1972) to the first major industry crash (1984), called simply "the Crash" in classic video games circles. Some of the significant consoles this includes are the Atari 2600, Magnavox Odyssey², Mattel Intellvision, Colecovision, and Atari 5200. The consoles this doesn't include are the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Sega Master System (SMS).

Many people today wish to include the NES and SMS as "classics" because they are no longer in stores, no longer supported by their manufacturers, and over ten years old. I do not include them. The reason is mainly because there is a definite difference between pre-Crash and post-Crash systems and games.

Before the Crash, the industry was young and not afraid to experiment. Cartridges (or the consoles) allowed certain aspects of the game to be manipulated and completely unique games were often released. Admittedly, there were a good number of copy-cats, but you could always find something new. After the Crash, it seems that a significant portion of home games were either Super Mario Brothers-style scrollers or sports games and it was one cartridge, no variations.

One thing many speculate caused the Crash was a glut of poorly done, third party video games. The Crash taught the industry that they could no longer sell a game simply because people could play it on their TV, so they stopped experimenting and stayed with the tried and true. This, sadly, was the end of the classics.

Copyright 1996 i5ive communications inc. Used with permission.

[April 26, 2013: This article did not have a specific date, just "November 1996", but Blogger forces me to pick a date, so I went with November 1.  15 years later, I'm no longer going to argue with someone that the NES & SMS aren't classics, but I'm still mainly interested in the pre-NES systems and games.]

01 August 1996

Tip of the Moment (second opinion for cars)

Tip of the moment: Get a second opinion for your car's ailments, too.

I had a supposed Honda specialist shop do my car's tune up and check on what was wrong with my air conditioner. They told me either of two parts might be broken and how much it would be to replace each. I decided to wait to have it fixed. Eventually, I took it somewhere else to have the A/C fixed. They checked it over and told me that the A/C in some of Honda's models won't work unless it's absolutely full of freon. That was my only problem: it was missing a few ounces of freon. (Mind you, thanks to the EPA, checking it for leaks and filling it up cost almost as much as the first shop's estimate for one of the two parts that needed replacing.) I won't embarrass myself by saying how long I went without A/C because of this.

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the fifth tip and ninth post overall. I didn't keep track of the dates beyond the year, so the date is a guess. Unfortunately, I didn't run the A/C during the winter(s) to keep the hoses sealed, so it eventually stopped working again. — 28 May 2009]

23 July 1996

Classic Gaming Poetry Contest

[Originally posted to rec.games.video.classic.]

      by Lee K. Seitz

We "chase the Chuckwagon"
   whenever we can
To own the most cartridges,
   that is our plan

Sum Guy was just here?
   Oh, how cruel fate
He even took Combat!
   That really does grate

But look over there
   amongst the refuse
I spy Lost Luggage
   and a copy of Squoosh! 

For fifty cents each
   I take home my plunder
Upon r.g.v.c
   my brag, it will thunder

For some reason, the half a line about "Squoosh!" popped into my head while I was going through my cartridges today (9 May 2018). (I don't even own a copy of Squoosh.) I knew I'd written it, but didn't remember anything else. One quick Google Groups search later and I found it.

Someone named J. Manazar at the University of Utah Computer Center held the "Classic Gaming Poetry Contest". And there were prizes! Sadly (spoiler), I only received an honorable mention, which is a nice way of saying I entered but wasn't selected as one of the top three. You can find three posts about it: the announcement, an update, and the winners.

03 July 1996

June's Finds [heavy sixer, Chuck Norris, H.E.R.O., blue 2600 catalog, original Odyssey games, Pong coin-op, Scramble handheld, Vectrex]

[Originally posted to rec.games.video.classic.]

Well, I kept meaning to write up weekly finds, but never seemed to get to it. Here's a summary of what I found in June (or thereabouts).

1. A six-switch 2600 (possibly an original) with 40+ games for $18. (Less than $0.50 per game plus the system for free is how I figure it.) Highlights include Chuck Norris (Xonox single-ender), Star Wars: The Arcade Game (my second; no offers yet, please), H.E.R.O. w/manual, and Space Shuttle w/manual & overlay (I bought it new post-Crash, so I got a black & white manual and no overlay, but blue label.). Many other games had manuals as well, plus some game catalogs. One catalog was an original blue Atari which, combined with how heavy I thought the system was, leads me to think it's an original. I haven't had a chance to test it or the carts yet. I seem to have misplaced my alcohol for cleaning them.

One pair of paddles has been "fixed". The guy put new knobs on them, which are stiffer than the old ones. He said he'd been meaning to give it all to his grandchildren, but he never remembered. When he was cleaning out his shed for the yard sale, he decided to put it out, too.

2. Some boxes of original Odyssey games. I was amazed. I never figured I'd see anything like these. I was disappointed to find out each game didn't include a new card. Nevertheless, I now have cards 7 and 8 to go with 1-6, 9. 8) Oh, and they've already been traded for a bunch of neat stuff, so don't ask.

3. Pong coin-op by Atari. Yes, the first commercially successful coin-op video game is *my* first coin-op! Unfortunately, it doesn't work . . . yet. Oh, and yes, I found it at a thrift store. The same day, I saw a Zaxxon coin-op at another thrift store, but it was more expensive and I never really cared for Zaxxon. It was the first time I'd ever seen a coin-op at a thrift store.

4. A few good Atari 8-bits carts: Miner 2049er, Decathalon, Popeye, and Star Trek: SOS. Can you say "trade bait"? I knew you could. 8)

5. Scramble "hand-held" by Tomy. Works great and in good shape. I'm impressed by how fun and challenging it is so far. Between it and the Coleco Frogger mini-arcade I bought last year, I guess I've got a collection started. 8)

6. Something good should be on it's way to my house. I don't want to say anything more for fear of jinxing it. Let's just say I'm adding a new system to my list to collect for (currenty 2600, 7800, and original Odyssey (I guess)) and finding cartridges won't be easy.

7. A co-worker knew I collected old video games, but asked if I also collected memorabilia. Of course I answered yes, so the next day he brought me a Robot Tank poster in mint condition! His parents had brought it down with a bunch of his stuff from their house. It's been a while since I've seen the RT box, but I'm almost positive this art isn't the same. Does anybody know the scoop on how one originally got these? Send UPC's or what?

[The first set of 2600 items came from a yard sale.

The boxed original Odyssey games came from a Magnavox dealer that was going out of business. Oddly enough, it was where my regular comic book store, The Deep, is now located at N. Memorial Parkway and Mock Road. These were sets of games still in the shipping boxes. After buying one, the manager (owner?) told me there were more in the trash. They took me around to a room outside, in the back. There were many more of these shipping boxes of original Odyssey games! I left behind many that were water damaged, a decision I now regret some. I wound up trading away all the extra boxes for a lengthy list of items from Jerry Greiner, a major collector who had made a business out of classic video games. They were available from his site, www.atari2600.com, for a long time, but now I no longer see them there.

The story of my Pong coin-op can be found in an 18 June 1996 entry. The Zaxxon I saw at the Downtown Rescue Mission Thrift Store, back when it was still on 9th Ave. SW, just around the bend from Seminole Drive. I'll say more about #6 below. The Robot Tank poster came from the same co-worker who I later bought his complete 5200 collection. — 2 July 2010]

Date: 9 July 1996

In article <4rf1r0$o6h@taco.cc.ncsu.edu>, John Vivian Matthews wrote:
>But isn't there a multicart for the Vec...oops.
>ps And I'm only guessing...

Well, it was a good guess. My Vectrex finally arrived yesterday (Monday) evening. One controller, no overlays, no manuals, Minestorm ('natch), Armor Attack cartridge, and Berzerk on a PROM board with no case. A multicart and converted Sega controller are definitely on my "wish list" now. AFAIK, I'm the first rgvc'er in Alabama to get one. I know one guy has some cartridges, so we'll have to get together some time and test them. (Hi, Ralph.) This is a neat system and it's not going anywhere for a long, long time, emulator or not.

[The Vectrex came from Russ Melanson, who also did the original logo for my website, the Classic Video Games Nexus (defunct). He gave it to me, asking nothing in return. I was amazed. I still sent him some money, not nearly enough, as a high school graduation present.

Ralph was Ralph Hulcher, a collector in Birmingham, who I'd met the year before. We never did get together to test his Vectrex carts and eventually fell out of touch, unfortunately.
— 2 July 2010]

28 June 1996

Lee has a good week (and a riddle)

On Thursday, 27 June 1996, I correctly answered the following riddle, sent to Riddle du Jour by Doug Mattox of Rolla, MO:

Decapitate me and all becomes equal. Then terminate me and I become second. Cut me front and back and I become two less than I started. What am I?

The answer is below, but here's something to make up some spoiler space. I won a 1996 Parrothead Club Caribbean Soul T-shirt for my trouble. And my home page was linked from the "Previous Riddles" section for a week and the "Sphinx's Hall of Fame" for who knows how long. I've been answering their riddles (or at least attempting to) for several months now. I probably get the correct answer about 30-40% of the time, but I was never selected as a winner. This time I was one of 93 people to answer correctly (out of 1316 who guessed). I don't always pay attention, but I'm pretty sure there has usually been more people with the correct answer when I've gotten it right before.

I'm sure this page will seem silly in a few weeks, but I'm writing it shortly after I found out I won, so I'm still excited. It's been a good week, as my (Useless) Super-Hero Generator was selected as a Surfers' Pick by Tony over at Yahoo! on Monday, 24 June 1996. I don't know how he found it since I haven't gone out of my way to advertise it, but I'm not complaining. 8)

Okay, I've wasted enough of your time. The answer is the word "seven."

What, you don't get it? Okay, here's the progression:

even (equal)
eve (2nd person, according to the Bible)
v (Roman numeral five; two less than seven)

Gee, do you suppose my (Useless) Roman Numeral Convertor gave me an advantage? :-)

[This is an early example of what one would later call a blog post. This was posted as two separate pages -- one for the question, one for the answer -- to my personal web site back on 28 Jun 1996. Now I'm putting here, therefore saving a whopping 3 Kb by removing it from my site after twelve years. And yes, it does seem a bit silly now. Oh, and the Riddle du Jour and Yahoo! destinations are long since gone, but the links are maintained for posterity. — 8 Oct 2008]

20 June 1996

Tip of the Moment (washing machine hoses)

Tip of the moment: Replace both washing machine hoses at the same time.

I came home from lunch one day to find water coming out from under the door. One of the washing machine hoses had burst and been shooting water out for up to three hours. Two days later, the other hose did the exact same thing. We had to replace the floors in three rooms. If I had been thinking straight when the plumber was there the first time, I would have had him replace both hoses. It's hard to think straight while you're trying to clean up a flooded house.

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the fourth tip and eighth post overall. At least we got some nice hardwood floors out of it. — 28 May 2009]

[A more complete account can now be found in the 14 May 1996 entry. — 17 June 2010]

18 June 1996

Pong found

[Originally posted to rec.games.video.arcade.collecting as "Pong found & help needed."]

Well, I'm *this* (| |) far away from being able to join VAPS. Today I finally bought a copy of Atari's Pong. (I figured I'd start at the beginning. 8)

I collect Atari 2600 cartridges. This is the only extent to which my finances have allowed me to collect video games. (Otherwise, I'd have a house full of coin-ops.) When looking at a local thrift store, I saw Pong standing there. I looked closer, and it said "Atari" and "Syzygy Engineered" on it. Wow, an original Pong! It was $40 and the electronics guy said it worked. I didn't have the money right then, knew my wife would kill me if I just brought it home, and didn't have a way of getting it home by myself anyway.

That evening I discussed it with my wife and we (okay, she) decided I could get it if the money didn't come out of the bank accounts. (This was incentive for me to finally sell my old computer.) A week and a bit later, the computer was sold, but I hadn't cleared out a space for the coin-op yet. Monday evening, she asked if I'd bought it yet and I said no, but took that as a go ahead. 8)

Today I went back to buy it with a coworker to help. We started to look around, and discovered they'd removed the TV and taken the cabinet outside! Aiiigghh! It didn't look like it had been outside long enough to get rained on, thank goodness. Unfortunately, one of the paddle knobs, which I'd noticed had been loose before, was

I went inside and talked to the people there (and found out their electronics guy was "no longer with them"). They said they'd tested it and it didn't work. Further discussion revealed that the TV didn't work. We went back and examined it. We came to the conclusion that it didn't seem to be missing any pieces, it was just empty because there wasn't much to it. I got it for $25 and we hauled it home.

[VAPS is the Video Arcade Preservation Society. It was a group of people owning arcade video games at home. They established a web site in the early days of the Internet. Being able to join it seemed like a big and unattainable honor at the time.

This post was originally made to ask a bunch of questions of coin-op collectors about my new acquisition. For the sake of the blog, I've edited them out. —11 June 2009]

14 May 1996


[This appears to be an e-mail I sent to friends. Unfortunately, the only copy I have of it is not as an e-mail, but a text file called "flood.txt" that I apparently prepared separate from my e-mail client. I determined the date by pulling out my old calendars, where I'd noted it.]

Yesterday, I went home during my lunch break. As I pulled into the carport, I noticed water trickling to the side of the house. After going through a few possibilities, I came up with water being left on inside the house. It was about this time I saw the water was indeed trickling from underneath the door. I quickly opened the door to about an inch of water on the kitchen floor. Water was shooting up from behind the washer in the laundry room, soaking half the room.

I immediately tried to shut off the water at that valve. It wouldn't turn. I grabbed some pliers and a wrench and went to the turn off the water to the house, but couldn't find the valve. I called some plumbers, but no one could get there immediately. Finally, I started thinking a bit straight and used a rubber-backed bathmat to block the water spraying up in my face and managed to get the valve closed. Then I called Dorothy and waited, dripping, for her to come home. Thankfully, upon calling our insurance agent's office, they suggested having a carpet service come to get the water out of the dining room carpet before it spread. This hadn't occurred to us yet. We spent the afternoon cleaning up.

What happened is the hose from the water tap to the washer burst. (I'm glad it was the *cold* water.) This happened sometime between roughly 8:30 and 11:30 AM. Thank goodness I went home during lunch. We'll have to replace three rooms' floors: the dining room, the (newly tiled by Dorothy) kitchen, and the laundry room. We'll also have to replace the carpet in the living room and hall, at least, since it all needs to match.

BTW, the cats seem to be unharmed. We later had visions of one of them eating or using the litter box in the laundry room when it blew, but upon recollection, neither was wet. They were a bit agitated, but seem okay now.

Dorothy has two theories on why this happened:
  1. We booked a trip to Disney World for later this year. It was just after we paid for our plane tickets to Australia that the tree fell on the house and we had to get a new roof. Therefore, big trips cause personal disasters.
  2. We threw away the chain letter she received. We're both "rational human beings," but the letter, which we estimate arrived Friday, said to mail out 20 copies in 96 hours. It's an interesting coincidence. If you sent us this chain letter (there was no return address, but it came from Huntsville), please don't do send any more. We will still throw them away.
We've learned a few things from this:
  1. How to turn off water to the house. We should have learned this a long time ago. Now we even own a water meter key.
  2. Turn off the water to the washer when not in use. Dorothy says this is too much trouble (and the valves are hard to reach), but we will probably at least turn it off when we go on trips. Thank goodness it didn't do it Sunday. We spent the day in Birmingham with my mother and grand-mother.
  3. The floor under the carpet in the dining room isn't hardwood.
  4. Always go home during lunch.
[This also became one of my "Tips of the moment." The day after I wrote this (two days after the first hose burst), the other hose burst under the same circumstances: I came home from work to find water leaking out from under the door again. I had to call the plumber and carpet service to both come out again. I think the plumber didn't charge us that second time, but I forget. If this happened now, all of these years of home-ownership later, I wouldn't bother to call a plumber just to replace a washing machine hose.

One thing I left out of this is that when I called my wife, I just told her to come home and didn't explain anything. She was worried to death, but luckily it was a short drive from work back home.

Rather than replace the carpet, we opted to have the hardwood in the living room and hall refinished. We also expanded the laundry room and had hardwood put down in the dining room. It wasn't until August that the repairs were finally finished. — 17 June 2010]

[Incidentally, no collectibles were harmed by the events related in this post. Thanks goodness! —2 July 2010]

12 April 1996

Tip of the Moment (laser surgery)

Tip of the moment: Don't walk on fresh laser surgery wounds.

I recently had some laser surgery done on my foot. Although the doctor insisted I would be able to walk on it, it began bleeding profusely the next day. He insisted it was okay and I should just walk on my toes instead of my heel, where the bleeding wound was. I couldn't seem to convince him I was doing this already.

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the third tip and seventh post overall. — 28 May 2009]

13 March 1996

Thought (Bad Hair Day)

Current thought:
Just then the floating, disembodied head of
Colonel Sanders started yelling:

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down, and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
important doesn't matter
Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong
This is a snippet of the song "Everything You Know Is Wrong" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, from his new album, Bad Hair Day. What are you waiting for? Go buy it now!

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the fourth thought and sixth post overall. I didn't keep track of the dates beyond the year, so the date is my best guess based on the album's release date. — 28 May 2009]

26 February 1996

Thought (fortune cookie)

Current thought: "You will receive a fortune. (cookie)"

This was the fortune in a fortune cookie I received, misplaced period and all. With accuracy like that, it's a shame Alabama doesn't have a lottery. I'm sure the numbers on the back would have been the previous week's winners. 8)

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the third "thought" and fifth post overall. I didn't keep track of the dates beyond the year, so the date is a guess.

This fortune cookie was too stupid not to share. The "8)" was a smiley indicating that I wear glasses. I'd been using it since back in my BBS days. (Yes, I typically skipped the "nose".) I stopped using it when a saw a emoticon list saying that the 8-) emoticon indicated the writer was rolling his eyes. That's not at all what I meant by it. — 28 May 2009]

10 February 1996

Thought (babies don't take holidays)

Current thought: Babies don't take holidays.

When recently carded while buying some alcohol, the cashier noted my birthday is Jan. 1st. As is typical, she asked if I was the first.

"Not even close," I replied. (I was born around 11:00 AM.)

"That's funny," she said, "you'd think there'd be fewer born that day."

This struck me as about the stupidest thing I'd heard in a long time.

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the second "thought" and fourth post overall. I didn't keep track of the dates beyond the year, so the date is a guess.

Later, when we were taking a class in preparation for our first child, our instructor had a similar saying: "babies don't read calendars." This was to express that the baby will come when it's ready, not when the doctor claims it is "due." — 28 May 2009]

30 January 1996

Thought (blank disk)

Current thought: No one cares how well a blank disk spins.

This was inspired while I stood in the Newark airport, waiting for my luggage. We (the passengers) stood there for quite a while watching the empty luggage carousel spin. It basically means that no one cares how well something works if it doesn't have anything to do. (e.g. an empty luggage carousel, a blank disk.)

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the first "thought" (as opposed to a tip) and third post overall. I didn't keep track of the dates beyond the year, so the date is a guess. Not a very good aphorism, but you gotta start somewhere. — 28 May 2009]

25 January 1996

Forgive me, for I have sinned

[Originally posted to rec.games.video.classic.]

Forgive me, fellow classic gamers, for I have sinned. For my birthday this year, I agreed to let my wife get me a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). While it is true she bought me a Game Boy last Christmas, I had nothing to do with that. She came up with it on her own. (Of course, I might have expressed an interest in the new Game Boy version of Donkey Kong.) This time, however, I'm the one that actually went out and bought the system. And, worst of all, it came with Donkey Kong Country (DKC), a game only mildly related to the classic roots in its name, and I . . . enjoyed it (*gasp*).

Isn't it just another platformer? Yes. However, it does of some variety with mine cart levels and underwater levels. I do not expect to be buying many platformers at all.

Doesn't it have all those stupid hidden areas? Yes. While it sometimes is a challenge to find them, there is *usually* some sort of clue as to where they are. If I didn't have the DKC FAQ to fall back on, though, I probably wouldn't be doing nearly as well.

Isn't each level exactly the same each time through? Yes, but what about Pitfall! and Pitfall II?

Aren't there difficult points that keep you from advancing and finding new challenges? Yes and it is frustrating. But compare it to Scramble or Super Cobra and there's not much difference.

Don't the end of the levels have bosses? Yes, and most of them aren't particularly challenging.

Doesn't it have power-ups that it's impossible to make it through a level without? No, it doesn't.

Doesn't it have an ending? Yes, but once you're done you can go back and try to find all the hidden areas you missed. Once I find them, I may quickly lose my interest. Of course, you can always try to finish the game faster, a la trying to score more points in Pitfall II after you've finished it once.

Anything else? Cranky Kong's (supposedly the "original" Donkey Kong (I don't agree with that bit.)) comments are a riot if you've been reading r.g.v.c for a while, although you might tend to agree with him sometimes.

Lastly, if it helps lessen my sin, the only other games I have so far are Starfox (given to me) and Space Invaders via the Super Game Boy. Space Invaders is wonderful and beats having a full sized cabinet or cocktail unit taking up all that space. As far as I can tell, it's just like the arcade version. I also have Defender/Joust, Qix, and Donkey Kong (quite a departure from the original) that I can play with the Super Game Boy. The next SNES game I intend to get is Q*Bert 3.
Then I'll have to see what other classics or re-vamped classics there are.

Oh, and I had a video game party at my house a couple weeks ago. I don't have any SNES games that truly let two player's play simultaneously, so it wasn't touched after I showed it off as a new toy. We played Indy 500 and Combat and Super Pong 10!

[A bit of humor from me about "betraying" my fellow classic video game players/collectors by getting and playing a current console. —11 June 2009]

10 January 1996

Tip of the Moment (company in the red)

Tip of the moment: Don't work for a company that's been in the red for 10 quarters.

I, along with a few hundred others, was laid off from Intergraph after working there for two years. They were unprofitable during that entire time and eariler. Ironically, Intergraph kept hiring during this period. Although they did indeed manage to get back in the black the following quarter, it wasn't long until they were back in the red.

[From my "Past Tips of the Moment and Past Thoughts" page. This was the second tip and second post overall. This one was listed as being in 1995, but the page creation date is 10 Jan 1996. Since I was let go at the beginning of Q3 1995, it would have had to be at least Q1 1996 before I'd know Intergraph was back in the red. — 28 May 2009]