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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Quest Begins!

I've returned from the great white north! I didn't get a ton writing done in Wisconsin, but what I did get down on paper I think made for some decent content to set the stage for today!  

While in Wisconsin, I stepped outside to use the Internet. Yeah, that sentence seemed a bit strange when I wrote it. It’s sort of like the front door was a time warp and it was 1989 inside and 2010 outside. Whatever, the point is I managed to download a Sega Genesis CD 32X emulator for the Mac called “Kega”, which actually works pretty well. Since I didn’t have my Sega CD 32X with me on this trip it was imperative that I found another way to enjoy the copy of MegaRace I picked up at the Mall of America.

Upon getting everything to work by finally saying fuck the directions and just putting the BIOS files on the desktop instead of in the application support folder; I was a bit miffed by the quality of the SCD port of MegaRace. As you know (I hope you do if you’re reading this), The Sega Genesis can only display 64 colors simultaneously. The Genesis with the Sega CD attachment could display… 64 colors. That’s right, besides adding greater capacity for game storage and some scaling capabilities the Sega CD does almost nothing to boost the old Genesis’ features. That is bordering on retarded when you’re talking about using live-action video and pre-rendered computer-animation in a game. MegaRace had a still slim palette of 256 colors on the PC, which -though ridiculous today- was still way more than the Sega fucking CD had! This game never really belonged on the system.

Perhaps this was Lance Boyle's blue period?

I’ll go into more detail about what’s wrong with this version in my next entry, but suffice it to say; I was a bit disappointed when I started playing the game. Then I remembered I still had my old PC copy kicking around my office. Upon my return from the north a feverish search began for my PC version of MegaRace. Not only did I find it, I found it with the original manual completely intact. I don’t think I can hook my old Thrust Master joystick up to my Mac Pro, but that would make it perfect! Please don’t ask me where the box is. Almost all of my boxes were thrown away when I moved east in 1999. It was not my decision…

MegaRace for Dos
The only problem that remained was the fact that this was a DOS era game and I’m on a Mac, which famously works with hardly any games. But one quick search online and suddenly I was playing the 1994 classic on a quad-core machine with six gigs of RAM and a 24” monitor using Boxer. Boxer is a DOS emulator for OSX based on the DOS Box emulator for Windows. Seldom have I felt such glee.

Never before had I thought it possible to play my DOS games on ANY Mac, Let alone my Mac Pro.
Thanks to this crap version of an otherwise great game, I’ve been reminded of what an avid PC gamer I was in 1992 through 1998 and have taken a look at my old DOS and Windows collection that I never thought I’d play again. I think some of these are a pretty good place to start on my quest to beat them all… or at least most of them. The first game on my quest shall be... MegaRace!

Though I've never beaten this game, I have played the shit out of it. I'm going to give it like 3 weeks before (in the interest of brevity), I say screw it and move on to the next game in my collection. This is the beginning!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Spectacle of Modern Commerce

Ok, so I was distraught at the thought of not bringing my Genesis 1 with a Powerbase converter to play me some Phantasy Star and report back; but let me explain. I knew there was only one TV here and I didn't want to monopolize it. I know, I'm a real sweetheart. That said, my thirst for classic gaming has not gone unquenched! First on our agenda was a trip to The Mall of America in Minnesota!

Bask in its materialistic glory.
For those of you who either don't live in the mid-north of the United States, or are simply out of the know (seriously, I grew up in Colorado and had heard of this place!); The Mall of America is a mighty monument to capitalism and consumerism. Located in Minnesota, it is the second largest shopping mall in the United States in terms of usable retail space. The only thing surprising about the mall is that there isn't a mammoth bronze statue of Sam Walton out front with a plaque bearing PT Barnum’s famous, “There's one born every minute”, quote and greeting consumers with a knowing grin out in the parking lot (that distinction goes to Kingfisher Oklahoma).

We were figuring out a plan of attack on the mall. I was driving when Stacy asked what I wanted to see in there while she was glancing over the directory in the backseat. I said “nothing” as I guessed there would probably be two Game Stops and nothing else. It was a good guess in that I was right, but an easy one... Why wouldn't there be two Game Stops in the second biggest mall in the country... There's two Game Stops down the street I live off of... Fuck I hate Game Stop. 

I meandered about the second biggest Mall in the country and had lunch at A&W. On the menu for me was loaded French fries and deep-fried cheese curds (a local delicacy). Yeah, one of those would have been fine by itself, but together I swear they aged me about five years. I still get a sick feeling looking at the image below.

Looking back, this was a terrible decision.
After punishing my colon for no good reason, I continued perusing the vast consumer wasteland. Then, far off on the horizon; I beheld a store that did not appear on any directory, yet there it was before me. My eyes widened and I let out a stifled "woot" under my breath as I saw first hand...

Words cannot express... *sniff
This place is probably the coolest store I've ever been to in a mall since Funco Land vanished, and definitely only one of two kiosks I've every actually bought anything from (man that other kiosk woman was pushy). The only irritating thing about it was that Game Stop gets two full storefronts, and in the same mall this place is relegated to a crumby kiosk by some shitty comedy club. Is there no justice? Still, despite being in a crappy location on Level 3 (of 4!), they did have an incredible selection of... Well everything!

The guy behind the counter opened this up for me and it even smelled new.
They had games for the Neo Geo, Turbo Grafx 16, Genesis, Sega CD, Saturn, Dreamcast, 32X, NES, SNES, Game Boy, Game Cube, N64, X-Box, X-Box 360, Wii, DS, Virtual Boy, Atari 2600, and a bunch of Playstation crap and used DVDs. Really, the best selection I've seen outside of eStarland in Virginia. My mother in law had given me a $25 Visa gift card just the day before, and though I knew it went against my quest, I could not not support this store and the awesome business they run. I ended up buying two Cryo-developed games for the Sega CD: Dune and MegaRace.

Coincidentally the music for both games was composed by the talented St├ęphan Picq.
Call it a moment of weakness if you like, but I defy any one of you in the presence of such a thing to deny its siren call. Besides, I didn’t actually spend any of my money on these two. There’s some more images if you click the link below. You'll get the full effect and perhaps you too will succumb to her wild charms.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Traveling Abroad

Well I chose an awful time to start writing online. Not that in the beginning it matters much as the one person reading this is... Well me, but it will affect getting the ball rolling so to speak and finding an audience. That said, I suppose I owe an explanation to... well myself and the one troll surfing through the tubes late this night looking for something to complain about. Well, I don't really have a good excuse. I got sucked into my third play-through of Mass Effect 2 to gain the aptly named “insanity achievement,” with my second Shepard imported from one of my four saves in ME1. It's funny really, in Mass Effect 2 you must complete various loyalty missions to gain the loyalty of your team so that they can focus on the mission without distraction. That's sort of how I felt while going through my final play through of ME2. I can now focus on the mission, er, blog without distraction.

Nick Shepard with his trusty Dr. Pepper recon hood from 7-11. Truly the most stylish devil in the galaxy.

That's not quite the only thing though. I also forgot that I was going far north to Wisconsin to see my wife's family. If you’ve never been to Wisconsin I can sum it up this way. WIFI is sparse and it's typically cold. Beyond that, there are tons of delicious beers and cheeses, which are great for getting fat and shitfaced, but not so conducive to healthy blogging practices. There’s also plenty of serene, if not, “awe-inspiring” landscapes to scope out. 

This trip also reminds me of why I no longer watch television. What do I mean? I mean I don't pay for sports, movies, gameshows, shit reality TV, soaps, and biased news channels that I never watch. That's like paying a crazy old woman to yammer on about her irritating, going nowhere children all day! Why would you do that?! Tell me America, what's so fucking great on TV that I can't find on the internet? Keep this in mind; I hate game shows, sitcoms, sports, and wasting money on a service I didn’t use when I had it. Why would you waste your time waiting to get information from a flickering box when you can have the Internet at your disposal? Granted, there are some decent shows on air right now, but I’ve got Hulu for that, and I get em without commercials. The reason I'm even mentioning the degradation of American television in recent years and why it irks me is that there's no Internet connection where I'm staying. All of my favorite articles, videos, comics, all out of reach of my Mac Book. Sure I can still see the majority of the content on my iPhone, but AT&T's crappy 3G network doesn't really extend to the region of Wisconsin I'm visiting so everything loads at a snail's pace; and the screen is puny.

Beyond the television, her family's well, and I can't fault them for not having an Internet connection. It's not something they use everyday and they can get to the library which provides free WIFI broadband easily enough. When that becomes too much of a chore however, I think they should really look into getting the tubes hooked up to their place.

I've written this and the following few posts here in Wisconsin, but I will be posting them a bit more spread out than the last few. I understand that I still have yet to pursue my end goal of beating some of my games, but that IS coming, trust me on this. Hopefully the next few posts are entertaining enough and then we'll get to the point the thing!