Marvel Age - Cover

Marvel at this issue of Marvel Age featuring Questprobe!

Marvel Age was a sort of comic book that was published from 1983 until 1994. It actually was kind of an extension of the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins. Which of course offered news about upcoming books and events that all of us Marvel Zombies needed to know. Marvel Age went a step further by offering previews of new titles. In addition I was always impressed with the great interviews with some of the superstars of the time.

Furthermore how can you balk at a publication that featured none other than Crystar? I realize I may in fact be in the minority for my love of Remco’s crystal warrior. But that first issue of Marvel Age totally has a cover by the legendary Walt Simonson as well!
Marvel Age

I have in the past shared my memories and thoughts on the line of Questprobe games. The graphic and text based adventures by Scott Adams. While certainly they might appear to be rather dated in contrast to the Marvel games being made today. I think it’s equally important to remember that in 1984 – when Questprobe featuring the Hulk was released. These were a big deal and offered a new way to experience the adventures of our favorite Marvel Comics characters.

For one thing, you should keep in mind that one of the best Marvel Comic games at this point was 1982’s Spider-Man for the Atari 2600!

[Via] Retro Game Commercials

I certainly hope it doesn’t sound like I’m knocking the Atari 2600 Spider-Man game. As it is in fact one of my favorite games for the system. However when your text based actions help to trigger the transformation of Bruce Banner to the Hulk! That is a magical moment indeed!
Marvel Age - The Hulk

Which brings us to this particular issue of Marvel Age. Knowing my love of the Questprobe series of games. The esteemed Gary Burton picked up this issue at a flea market a little while back. Within the pages there are excellent interviews with the likes of then Editor In Chief Jim Shooter as well as Scott Adams of course. To say nothing of what looked like a bright future for the Questprobe series.
Marvel Age - Chief Examiner

How could they fail? They had twelve games in the works with the most popular Marvel Comics characters at the time. The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, and even the duo of The Thing and The Human Torch! In short these were the only three games to be produced which was a terrible shame. The concept was intriguing and moreover they almost had the X-Men game finished when the plug was pulled.
Marvel Age - Spider-Man
Marvel Age - Human Torch and Thing

At the very least we still have those three Questprobe titles and they are readily available to play. Likewise there were 140 issues of Marvel Age to enjoy and they still are an excellent snapshot of the time they were produced.



Now that you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy issue 18 of Marvel Age. Why not check out my earlier posts on the Questprobe games?

For all of you fans of the Incredible Hulk – Here is my article from back in 2011!

Don’t you worry true believers! I also covered Questprobe featuring Spider-Man!

Keith Robinson - Intellivision

Farewell, Keith Robinson – Mr. Intellivision

Keith Robinson - Intellivision
One of the titans of retro video gaming evangelism and business sense within the industry has left us. I’m very sorry to report that Keith “Mr. Intellivision” Robinson, one of the organizing forces who kept the “Blue Sky Rangers” team behind the Intellivision working together both during and after the classic console’s heyday, has left us.

The photo you see at the top of this article is a prime example of Keith doing what he did best – not only was he involved in the Intellivision during its salad days, he evangelized the system and its software (and the many products that kept those games alive on more modern hardware) more capably than an army of Intellvision fanboys could. That was Keith at the 2003 Classic Gaming Expo, introducing a new generation to the menacing mazes of Night Stalker. Now, I can tell you that the time I’ve spent with Night Stalker on the Intellivision in my lifetime has probably reached into the dozens of hours, but watching Keith hand that unique Intellivision controller over to a new recruit was enough to make me want to play it some more.


Believe it or not, he was a better pitchman than George Plimpton. Courtesy Intellivision Productions

Keith Robinson was warm and genuine; he was comfortable being almost a caricuature of himself at gaming events, while simultaneously being totally himself – he was that outgoing. If you were lucky, he might temporarily bestow upon you the cherished Burgertime Chef Hat, as he did here, crowning CGE organizer John Hardie the new Intellivision king for one night.

Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
I crown you Burger King!

He was one of the nice guys of gaming, and yet doggedly sought out new opportunities to continue bringing the Intellivision IP to new audiences – cell phone games, PC and Playstation compilations, plug-and-play Intellivision handhelds and new miniature replicas of the original units, you name it. This not only kept Intellivision alive, but kept cash coming in both for himself and his fellow Blue Sky Rangers, the people who’d originally programmed the games in the first place and had bought the rights to the Intellivision architecture, software and hardware from Mattel Electronics in the late 1980s. As the president of newly christened and independent Intellivision Productions, Robinson was the group’s spokesman, and a powerful organizing force. The difference between Intellivision Productions and nearly every modern IP holder who has acquired game platforms after the fact is that Keith engaged with the fans, and never lost sight of why some of us loved the Intellivision.

Here’s the windup…
Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
…and the pitch!
Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
And it’s off into the stands!
Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
At the end of a gaming convention, any Intellivision swag left over would be chucked into the eagerly awaiting crowd by Mr. Intellivision himself.

You had to love a guy like that. Keith Robinson was the beating heart of the Intellivision community. And the best thing about it was that, hanging out with him, you’d hear some of the best stories – and because his storytelling was near-legendary, you still can.


Courtesy G4icons

Cuphead

Cuphead Announcement Trailer Is Stunningly Beautiful

The Upcoming Cuphead was originally announced back at E3 in 2015. StudioMDHR certainly turned more than a few heads with the below teaser. I was of course blown away by its mix of Fleischer Studio inspired art style. As well as what I have to say looks to be a platformer with shoot ’em up game elements!

[Via] StudioMDHR

As I just mentioned, the game was announced in 2015. Although it was revealed to Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference. Furthermore Cuphead was expected to debut in 2016. In the early part of October 2016, StudioMDHR announced that Cuphead wouldn’t debut until mid-2017. The reason being was a sound one I believe. Instead of forcing themselves to a strict deadline, which would of course mean the excising of certain parts of the game. They wisely decided to delay so that their full vision for the game would be kept intact when it is released on September 29th of this year.
Cuphead - Don't Deal With the Devil

The systems it will be readily available for include the Xbox One, Windows 10, and Steam. I will have to admit that I was rather shocked that the title wasn’t being offered to the Playstation. However I wouldn’t be too surprised if a little down the road it doesn’t make its way over to the Sony fans.
Cuphead - Carnival

Brothers Jared and Chad Moldenhauer are the lead game designer and art director for Cuphead. They started working on the idea for the game back in 2010 in fact. Featuring hand-drawn animation and watercolor backgrounds, the audio includes original jazz recordings.
Cuphead

I should mention the story for Cuphead involves the titular character losing a bet with the Devil himself. Judging from that 2015 E3 teaser our hero and his pal Mugman decide to fill up with some liquid courage and try to repay that debt. Doing so involves overcoming 30 boss battles. Which is five more than the Guinness World Record says a shoot ’em up has challenged Players with so far.
Cuphead

I have also read that Jared and Chad have stated they are aiming for old school difficulty. While I’m hoping they aren’t going as old school as Capcom’s Mega Man I will buy this game no matter what. My love of animation that I share on the Toon In posts demands I play this game even if I’m horrible at it.
Cuphead - Devil

I ask you to look at these beautiful screencaps of the game in action. That anything is possible in a cartoon feel really shines through!
Cuphead

Cuphead

Certainly a lot of work has gone into Cuphead, the team has expertly crafted a title that wears it’s love of the Fleischer Studios on its sleeve. In addition StudioMDHR has a merchandise page that is suitably retro of course. Pins featuring the likes of Mugman and Cuphead are available. As well as sweaters, T-shirts, stickers and even posters. All looking like they were plucked right out of the animated shorts of the 1930s!
Cuphead

[Via] StudioMDHR

Now while we patiently await the release of the game…

Why not delve into those very shorts that inspired the creation of Cuphead?


For your viewing pleasure, we present 1939’s Small Fry from the Fleischer Studios!

[Via] Disney Short Film

Blazing Star has the “ultimate in computer graphics!”

You fail it! Your skill is not enough, see you next time…

Blazing Star, the 1998 sort-of sequel to Neo Geo horizontal shoot-em-up Pulstar is famous for all the best reasons. If you’ve never heard of the game, you’ve almost certainly heard of its supposed contribution to modern catchphrases – the FAIL!

Thanks to developer Yumekobo’s fabulous “Engrish”, the use of the word “fail” became an interjection rather than a simple verb. It’s not certain that this is the case, but this post from the New York Post believes it is, and who am I to argue!

Obviously the unusual English isn’t a reason to try the game though. What you should look for is some spectacle, and Blazing Star delivers the goods with its pseudo-3D pre-rendered graphics. Lots of arcade shooters look ‘nice’, but Blazing Star looked (and still looks) incredible. It’s impossible to show you this with a few screenshots though. You really need to watch a video of the action, like this one:

I’m in awe of how this game looks. And if you make it to the end of the game, you’re rewarded with a fight against a baby! I’m not making this up!

Hey poor player!

Thanks to a recent update on smartphones, SNK have some nice character visuals on their website. I’ve never understood why shmups really need highly developed character bios and storylines, I’m just in it for the space-based kills!

Character Profiles for Blazing Star

Thanks the wonders of the internet, you can find lots of further reading about this classic game. I was particularly pleased to find the website Shmupulations which has gone to the trouble of translating some Japanese developer interviews from Neo Geo Freak magazine.

You can also check out the always-awesome SNK Wikia site which handily informs you that Blazing Star can be played not only in the Arcades, but also on a Neo Geo, the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console, via Microsoft Windows, on a Nintendo Switch, or on iOS and Android devices.

This post continues a new series from me:
An irreverent and artistic A-Z of Neo Geo Gaming.

Rock-afire Explosion - Billy Bob

At Maker Faire The Rock-afire Explosion Finds New Life!

It should come as no surprise that I’ll talk about the Rock-afire Explosion at the drop of a hat. While Showbiz Pizza is of course a cherished memory for me. It was in fact Creative Engineering’s delightful animatronic band that is such a vivid memory.
Rock-afire Explosion

Well, in addition to all of those video games that Showbiz Pizza provided a vidiot like myself.

Perhaps when you have time you might enjoy my own memories of Showbiz Pizza on the Diary of an Arcade Employee Podcast?

Now the reason we are still talking about the Rock-afire Explosion is because of the work of Creative Engineering. The blood, sweat, and tears that creator Aaron Fechter and his company put into the characters paid off. As a result they obviously transcended their original purpose.

I have mentioned on the Diary Podcast as well as on The Retroist before of my first encounters with the Rock-afire Explosion. It wasn’t just the kids that were being entertained by the likes of Billy Bob’s gentle nature and humor. The adults also were being captivated by the melodious cover songs of the Rock-afire Explosion themselves.

[Via] Fan Programs

Not only did Aaron Fechter and his staff create the band, they also provided the music and voices to the characters. Fechter in fact voiced Billy Bob, Rolfe DeWolfe, Looney Bird, and Earl Schmerle to name a few.

[Via] Rockafire Explosion fan

Now having said all of that, thanks to Caseen Gaines, we have this fantastic YouTube video. Uploaded by Norman Chan of Adam Savage’s Tested, it focuses on Jack Turner at Maker Faire 2017. A young man who in fact with the help of his Father has begun to learn firsthand the amount of work it took Creative Engineering to bring the Rock-afire Explosion to life.
Rock-afire Explosion - Mitzi - Jack Turner

Rock-afire Explosion - Solenoide Valve

As well as restoring the characters, in this case. Billy Bob and also Mitzi Mozzarella, to as near as original working condition as he can. In regards to the parts and method used to bring them to life.

I think the work that Jack Turner has done is of course amazing. However, I would quibble over his statement about Chuck E. Cheese purchasing Showbiz Pizza. As it was in fact the other way around. Due to them attempting to buy the Rock-afire Explosion from Fechter and his obvious refusal. They decided to rebrand everything to Chuck E. Cheese as they owned the rights to it.

Furthermore, regardless of the title to my post. The Rock-afire Explosion are doing quite well. Fechter is releasing brand new YouTube videos featuring his creations. As well as in the case of this video uploaded by Michael’s Short Films. Fans are using Minecraft to bring Dook LaRue’s cover of Heartaches to life!

While it is natural for younger generations to compare the Rock-afire Explosion to Five Nights at Freddy’s. I would have them watch this vintage commercial showing what the characters really do after closing.

[Via] SPP California