Let’s Kinda, Sorta (Not Really) Play #4: Hydrosub 2021

But, before we “play” Hydrosub 2021…this ultra important clip show! Previously, on…these videos of me commentating over Action Max games!

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

Quadruple The Action Max, Quadruple Your “Fun”…

Four of these. I’ve sat through four mind-numbing, bad special effects-laden, disasters of video game attempts that would go down in infamous history, if it were not for the fact that no one remembers this system.

Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Five people watching this remember Action Max, and all its glory!

So, what exactly is Hydrosub 2021?

Hydrosub 2021: Darling It’s Not Always Better, Down Where It’s Wetter…

It’s like Sonic Fury, but without Trucker and Chief, stupid nicknames, and it happens under the sea.

You know what? Hydrosub 2021 is nothing like Sonic Fury. I just thought it sounded good.

It’s actually a submarine OF THE FUTURE adventure. You’re a crewman on Captain Jason’s vessel, and he’s like a cross between Third Rate Scotty from Stark Trek: TOS and Third Rate Leslie Nielsen. Which is actually an insult to Leslie Nielsen.

I mean, I guess he sorta looks like Leslie Nielsen, just with a goofy accent and a salad bowl on his head.

And what’s with that outfit? Oh, and there’s the crewman whose face we never see except for a “barely there” shot of the side of his face. I could make a joke about that, but there’s about eighteen minutes’ worth that doesn’t necessarily need commentary (but was fun to do anyway!).

We’re tackling the dangers of the sea, complete with robot sea creatures.

I guess fish were either not available, not high tech enough, or demanded an unreasonable salary, resulting in their removal from the finished product.

Consider them lucky.

Let’s Dive Into the Dangerous Seas of Hydrosub 2021!

Of course, seeing is believing. And since I’m huge on “if I have to suffer, so do you,” as well as mutual torture. So come, join me. Click play. We’ll watch together. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll realize this was a ridiculous idea.

I’m just referring to the scene with the submarine re-enters the depths of the bathtub…I mean Not A Bathtub!

Phew, saved that one!

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

We’re getting one step closer to the grand finale of Action Max “gameplay” commentary videos. Next time, we’ll revisit my first Retroist article, and provide commentary on (arguably) the best Action Max video of the bunch.

Only because it lifted footage from an actual movie.

Did I mention that fifth one is a rare gem in terms of quantity? For every twenty copies of The Rescue of Pops Ghostly, there’s one (possibly half of one) copy of this elusive Action Max game.

That’s a story for another time, friends, so until then…

Stay prepared for ACTION!

I have nothing else, folks.

Related Readings/Viewings

Because this isn’t new or novel, folks.

The Halloween I Spent Rescuing Pops Ghostly

Let’s Kinda Sorta Play “Sonic Fury”

Let’s (Kinda Sorta) Play #3 “.38 Ambush Alley”

The Rarest of the Rare Video Game System – Exploring Action Max’s Blue Thunder VHS Game


Bertie the Brain - Danny Kaye

First Computer Game Was 1950’s Bertie The Brain?

It of course depends on how you look at it, friends. However in 1950 Bertie the Brain made a splash at the Canadian National Exhibition. It has been said that awestruck visitors were lining up to challenge Bertie the Brain, matching wits with the computer in a simple game of tic-tac-toe. In fact that image you see at the top of the post? That happens to be none other than Danny Kaye (White Christmas) quite pleased he has bested Bertie the Brain!

How did Bertie come to be? That is thanks to an Austrian-Canadian immigrant named Josef Kates. The ‘first’ computer game came about thanks to another invention of Dr. Kates. The Rogers 6047 Additron tube!

Bertie the Brain - Dr. Josef Kates - Spacing Toronto

Image courtesy of Spacing Toronto.

Named so because Dr. Kates was working at Rogers Majestic. While at the same time I should add building one of the first computers in the world for the University of Toronto. The Additron tube was an electron tube that acted as a full binary adder. Which was of course Dr. Kates’ way of minimizing the amount of tubes and equipment needed in a computer. If you want your mind blown, I beg you to watch this video from Uniservo!

Sadly while patented in 1951, the Additron was never put into full production. As an old time radio enthusiast I obviously love the look of Vacuum tubes. Which is probably why I am so enamored by the look of Bertie the Brain. Rogers Majestic wanted Dr. Kates to build something that would show off the Additron tubes power, which is how the world was introduced to the tic-tac-toe playing computer.
Bertie the Brain - Computer

The fact that Bertie the Brain used lights on it’s display instead of graphics. This of course has sparked discussion on if it can be considered a video game. Hence why most folks will admit it was at the very least one of the earliest computer games. Bertie measured a whopping 13 feet or 4 meters tall and possessed a keyboard. As well as allowing Dr. Kates to adjust the difficulty of the game on the fly.
Bertie the Brain - Dr. Josef Kates

What ever became of Bertie the Brain though? After it’s two week presentation at the Canadian National Exhibition it was dismantled and stored away. As a matter of fact there is a wonderful article from back in 2016 on the Popular Mechanics site. It goes into far more detail and is worth your time to read!

Here is a short video from Mitten Squad, in which the early history of electronic gaming is discussed. Including a segment on Bertie the Brain of course!

Exidy's Circus

Exidy’s Circus

It has been some time since I sat down and wrote something on one of my games. I thought I’d try my hand at it again. Today I’d like tell you about an arcade game called Circus that was released by Exidy in 1977. Exidy’s Circus was the companies biggest hit of the seventies. I’ve read they produced over 13,000 of them and some sources say that number maybe a little low.

That is quite a run for a 1970’s game. For contrast the pretty popular Sprint II’s run is said to be 8,200 and Super Bug’s run was 3,500. They also licensed the game to other arcade companies of the time so you may have seen Taito’s Acrobat and Midway’s Clowns. I believe it safe to say that Circus was inspired by Atari’s Breakout. They share a lot of the same ideas but with enough of a twist to make it feel like a different game and not just a copy.

Let’s dive in to the game play. In Circus the object you control is the seesaw at the bottom of the screen. One side of the seesaw has a clown on it and the other side is empty. When you start the game the a second clown appears on one of the platforms on the side of the screen, He will walk to the end and leap off trusting that you will have positioned the empty side of the seesaw to catch him which will in turn propel the other clown up towards the three rows of balloons so he can pop them and collect the points. He will then fall back down were you will need to catch him and the process repeats. If the clown hits the side walls or the platforms he will somersault off it. If you fail to catch him he will hit the ground and flatten into a small puddle and you lose a life. A clown’s life if pretty hard here at this circus.

You receive points for every bounce you make and every balloon you pop. You will also receive bonuses for either popping a full row of balloons (row bonus) or for popping all balloons (super bonus) depending on the game mode that is chosen, more on that later.

Exidy’s Circus Points “single row mode”

  • 20 points per yellow balloon / 200 points for full row
  • 50 points per green balloon / 500 points for full row
  • 100 points per blue balloon / 1000 points for full row + Bonus jump

Exidy’s Circus Points “super bonus mode”

  • 10 points per bounce
  • 20 points per yellow balloon
  • 50 points per green balloon
  • 100 points per blue balloon
  • 10,000 points for popping all balloons

The play mode was selected by the owner of the game. The difference was that when you popped a full row of balloons in the single mode you would get your row bonus and then a new row will appear. In super mode no new balloon appear after they are popped until you have popped all the balloons and then you’d get the super bonus. Alright that’s my explanation now if you want to see it in action please check out the video below.

Exidy’s Circus Gameplay

I imagine there are a lot of you familiar with this game in one form or another as it was also ported to a number of consoles. I remember playing on my Atari 2600 under the title of Circus Atari, Brickyard Clowns for the Bally Astrocade and P.T. Barnum’s Acrobats for the Magnavox Odyssey 2. I hope you enjoyed a look at this early arcade game and if you happen to see a Circus or one of its variants out there at your arcade you should drop a quarter in and give it a play.

ReBoot: The Guardian Code - Title

Are You Ready For ReBoot: The Guardian Code?

ReBoot blew me away when it debuted on ABC one Saturday morning in 1994. With my love of all things video games and computer related, Mainframe Entertainment, Alliance Communications and BLT Productions certainly captured my attention. In that year I was working a full time job but I made sure I was up and watching ReBoot every week. Which is why of course the news of a…reboot… took me by surprise. As well as the fact that ReBoot: The Guardian Code is totally going live on Netflix on March 30th!
ReBoot: The Guardian Code - Mainframe

When I think about the original series, I generally recall the humor and winks to popular culture the show managed to include in almost every episode. Whether that be throwbacks to the popular video games of the day. Or even film franchises such as the James Bond series, including a fantastic song intro from the third episode of Season three. Firewall!

[Via] Reboot HD

Granted the animation might seem a little dated by today’s standards. I can assure you though it was pretty amazing stuff back in ’94. Of course it was the characters and story line that made so many fans. I think it is safe to say that the show borrowed a few elements from the likes of 1982’s TRON. A lone Guardian named Bob, whose mission was to protect the inhabitants of a city called Mainframe. Not just from the wicked deeds of Megabyte and his Sister, Hexadecimal. But from those of us playing video games, the Users.

[Via] Shout! Factory

Now then, we have a new series. Entitled Reboot: The Guardian Code. Immediately upon watching it I paused the official trailer. Some things have certainly changed in this updated version…like it has live action elements!
ReBoot: The Guardian Code - Bad guy

That took me quite but surprise. Granted this show is being aimed at an audience younger than myself. I will admit I am okay with this as it also appears to possibly have ties to the original series. At the very least it looks like Megabyte has been resurrected by the series’ mysterious villain.
ReBoot: The Guardian Code - Megabyte

Much like the first series did with borrowing elements of TRON it seems that ReBoot: The Guardian Code will do the same. Although in this case it is a mix of TRON: Legacy, Pacific Rim and even Ready Player One.
ReBoot: The Guardian Code - Guardians

ReBoot: The Guardian Code - Firewall

Which seems quite appropriate, friends. As Ready Player One of course hits theaters on March 30th. Which I am sure that Netflix is very well aware of. Will it be any good? I have no idea but I am certainly going to at least give it a chance. Things always change and I for one won’t begrudge a new generation their own joy of being introduced to ReBoot.

I’ve talked a bit about the first series, so without further ado, check out the trailer for ReBoot: The Guardian Code!

[Via] ReBoot The Guardian Code

Do YOU Understand The FuncoLand GAMES Process?

Believe it or not, there was a time when a certain craze/addiction/collectors item called “Funko” didn’t exit, but another Funco did. They called it FuncoLand, and, well…other stores of its type killed it.

The Story of FuncoLand

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Funco, Inc. opened in 1989. Like GameStop after it (and Game Crazy during its time), FuncoLand sold consoles, games, and peripherals, but emphasized their used games. In 1999, the company was purchased by EB GameStop (EB Games is part of GameStop as well – remember them?), and by 2005, started selling lifestyle, accessories, and toys, marketing their products toward boys ages six to fourteen years old. By 2015, FuncoLand stopped selling video games altogether, and by 2017, the chain was sold to Dave-Spin Retail Group. Most stores are closed now, but some are now 77 Kids (the children’s brand of American Eagle).

For the uninformed, Dave-Spin Retail Group owned Blockbuster and Chi-Chi’s. I compel you to find one of those places these days.

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In 1998, FuncoLand released one of those “oh-so-entertaining-for-the-easily-amused” training videos that outlines the company’s sales process, featuring an employee who is having trouble (of his own design) learning the FuncoLand Sales Process, G.AM.E.S.

Adam, FuncoLand, and the G.A.M.E.S. Process

Our journey through learning the ins and outs of the G.A.M.E.S. process begins with Adam.

He’s a FuncoLand new hire, who’d rather play his Game Boy Pocket (because 1998!) than learn the policies and procedures. His manager (actually FuncoLand Director of Sales and Service, Chuck Simmons) gives him an hour to learn the G.A.M.E.S. process, and wouldn’t you know it, Adam falls asleep.

Because that’s what happens in training sessions, right?

Adam journeys into the terrible special effects-laden land of…The Game Master! Here, Adam must learn FuncoLand’s sales manual and apply it to his job, mastering the skills in one hour. Sounds easy, except Adam looks like a deer in the headlights.

If he doesn’t learn the G.A.M.E.S. Process, he’ll be doomed there forever. Or fired. We’re all rooting for Adam to lose his job. It isn’t our faults he fell asleep during his training. What happens in his “sucked into the instruction manual dream” is his disaster in the making.

We’re also loving Chuck Simmons as The Game Master, and his freakin’ huge hourglass!

And of course, he not only has to collect each letter, he has to apply them to his real world experience…

This guy.

And his son, complete with mid-1990s Mariners baseball hat.

In 1998.

I kid you not. I have not seen a hat like that in years!

Dad here has this perpetually confused look, but then again, Adam just randomly shows up next to him while he shops. I’d make faces like this too, if I were him.

Speaking of which, what is this G.A.M.E.S. Process Adam must learn?


G.A.M.E.S. Process



More Information

Encourage Add-On Sales

Saying Goodbye, and Thanks for Coming in!

Will Adam successfully learn the process?

You’ll find out when you watch…

That Crazy FuncoLand Training Video!

So go on, click play, The Game Master is waiting for YOU!

Both videos: Upload via Rad Universe

And there you have it, another walk though employee training in its finest moments. They don’t make employee training videos like they used to. I’d say this was the end life of those “so great they’re terrible” training videos, but Game Crazy was a few years away from jumping into the waters FuncoLand was already swimming in.  Barely. Because GameStop was ready to catch them in their net.

I hate when a business I write about is effectively not longer in existence. But I love the cheesiness of training videos!

Anyone else think Mr. Simmons enjoyed his role a little too much?