May 15, 2007
Ex-Girlfriend Playing Virtua Fighter With Some Other Guy Now. The Onion reports.
(It's funny because it's true.)
I know this site isn't updated very often these days. That's partly because I'm enamored of its sister site, Showbits.net. I intend to reformat this site to be similarly more modern, more fully-featured, and more aesthetically pleasing sometime this summer, at which time updates should become more regular.
March 28, 2007
Though character crossovers are not new, they are nonetheless exciting; who else can't wait for Mario and Snake to go mano-el-mano in Super Smash Bros.? I only wish the meeting of Mario and Sonic was occurring in a venue more original and appropriate to their platforming history than a Track & Field game.
March 7, 2007
January 1, 2007
Today I am pleased to announce the launch of a new Web site: Showbits! At Showbits, you can read and respond to news, commentary, and quirks coming from Hollywood and Broadway, with a special attention to the quirky, geeky stuff we all love, like Star Wars, Star Trek, and superheroes. You can use RSS feeds to be alerted to updates in all these topics, or just those that interest you; there are even RSS feeds for readers' comments and responses, or for specific topics of blog entries, like television, film, or "fade to black" obituaries.
Showbits can be accessed immediately and for free at this URL:
And yes, this may bode well for a relaunch of Gamebits as well...
December 14, 2006
November 30, 2006
Sadly, at this same wedding, I was seated next to a woman who had nothing but contempt for gamerkind. When a friend mentioned the lines of people who had waited for the PlayStation 3, she angrily demanded why these people couldn't just wait until the PS3 was more available. When I described the Wii as an alternative and how much more energetic an experience it was, she asked, her voice dripping with disgust: "Why not just play real sports?"
I'm so glad there are people out there who don't let a lack of understanding stop them from demeaning people who passionately pursue and derive joy from life's pleasures. However has she made it this far in life without encountering people who are - gasp! - different from her? How sad to be so angry all the time...
I was much more heartened when I stopped by a local salon (not a saloon, unfortunately) to visit a relative. This conversation also touched upon people waiting in line for the PS3. A little old lady overheard us and chimed in, "Those people are sick and depraved," referring to gamers who sell such wares on eBay. Before I could either defend or condemn capitalism, she continued: "Besides, they should be getting a Wii. It's a much more fun system." Whoa! Will you be my grandma??
Conversely, when I spotted a friend in his forties using some sort of cell phone-PDA, my query of whether it had Tetris was met with, "What's that?" I guess I've been immersed in this culture I call "America" for so long that my small mind is boggled by the existence of people - adults! - who've successfully cloistered themselves from such popular elements as even who Luke Skywalker's father is...
November 29, 2006
Syndicomm Online opened in December 2000 as a refuge for Apple II users fleeing Delphi, another online service that, after welcoming refugees from GEnie (then Genie), decided to drop the text-based access that many vintage computers require. I launched Syndicomm Online's first non-Apple forum - Gamebits - in May 2001. I opened Prolific Quill, a literature and composition forum, in November 2001; took over the Singles forum in January 2002; launched a movie/television/theater forum, Showbits, in September 2003; and helped reorganize the RPG Forum in June 2004. (Ironically enough, it was being single that granted me the time to enjoy all those other pastimes - making me varingly qualified for either all or none of these fora.)
Syndicomm was not my first experience as a sysop: I ran my own BBS from 1993 - 1997, and I was a sysop on CompuServe from 1994 - 2004. But this was my first time as contract holder (CH). And I loved the service, running on software written by Sydicomm proprietor Eric Shepherd and programmer Dave Miller. It was modeled after GEnie, and its bulletin board structure allowed each forum to host 999 general categories with 999 specific topics within each and 999 messages per topic (these may be low estimates). I gleefully, almost obsessive-compulsively exploited its orderly nature for a variety of discussion subjects.
Moreover, I appreciated the opportunity to bring my sysoping experience to the Apple II community. I am not an expert in either the hardware or software of the machine, but I have some felicity both with people and with moderation and maintenance. I used these traits to provide the venues in which this unique neighborhood could discuss something less nerdy than vintage computers - like Star Trek, for example - and get to know one other in these alternative capacities.
The thousands (which may not sound like much in today's age) of messages accumulated on those message boards are a valuable resource; importing them to another system is beyond my ken. Besides, without the Apple II community, there would be little to distinguish such a service from the plethora of other boards out there on the Web. So I will be archiving text captures of those fora and making them available for download; this is all that will come of our time together.
Sayonara, Syndicomm Online. It's been a wonderful six years.
October 14, 2006
This was the first console I'd ever waited in line to get. Since it was only 100 minutes total in an enclosed mall to by just the core unit, not some forced bundle, I consider it a relatively painless experience.
October 12, 2006
October 5, 2006
I never thought I'd actually enjoy a video game as opposed to just being flustered that I don't get it. But it's fun! (The flusteredness is rapidly ceasing) I just didn't expect that I would enjoy games on the level that I am--that I would get into a game like Zelda. I'm loving it :-)
September 29, 2006
I came home Tuesday night to this email:
I am seriously close to conquering the first dungeon in Zelda. If I weren't so tired from a long day! Grr. You have created a monster!
Okay, I got to the dragon in level one of Zelda...how do I kill that thing? Boomerang? Sword? Superior wit? I can get there with full strength! I'm so close!!! (I didn't do any homework yet again tonight. Damn Zelda!)
I know I declared a moratorium on Zelda tonight. I don't know if that's going to hold. It's been a long day and I'm exhausted. Not sure how studying will go...Or I could amuse myself with Mario. Or break out Tetris...I haven't played that yet. Options are endless to avoid my homework.
I made it to 2-2 in Mario last night without losing my life once! That's a serious accomplishment in my world. (Of course, I played NES instead of sleeping, so I'm sleepy today and feeling like I'm catching a cold! Oh, AND I didn't get any homework done.)
I've corrupted the innocent. This is awesome.
September 10, 2006
September 7, 2006
August 22, 2006
However, the use of Skype to sing karaoke is highly unrecommended.
August 21, 2006
"The Digital Leisure products (Dragon's Lair, Space Ace and Dragon's Lair 2) included with the Dream Arcades cabinet are fully licensed and authorized for use in this cabinet. However, we cannot verify the authorization of any other products sold with the system other than our own. If you are concerned about licenses, GlobalVR, through their newest acquisition Ultracade, sells fully licensed coin-op cabinets similar to Dream Arcades, if you are looking for other options."
August 20, 2006
And, the icing on the cake: after too long a wait, The Wizard finally hits DVD in two days. Just like the Power Glove, it's so bad!
August 15, 2006
Highlight of the day: watching a six-year-old and an eight-year-old eagerly take turns playing Pitfall. Kids don't need 128-bit, Blu-ray, 12-button, M-rated games today anymore than we did 24 years ago.
Witnessing the enthusiasm such simplicity invoked prompted me to research the coming of the Wii - especially after my evangelism of its technology and the ensuing revolution failed to solicit belief in the afore-mentioned arcade virgin. My sources for this investigation were both Wikipedia and Nintendo's own web site. I found the primary benefactor of this mission to be me: watching the variety of uses of the controller and reading the confidence behind the text invoked days of poring over Nintendo Power, drooling over what was to come. Am I reverting to fanboyism? If that's what it takes to rekindle my interest in gaming, I will happily swear fealty to the company that started it all. (Besides Atari.)
It has been a good - and holy - three days.
August 14, 2006
That attraction is a room filled with more than a hundred arcade games from the Seventies and Eighties. This is the arcade where Billy Mitchell achieved a perfect score in Pac-Man on July 3rd, 1999. He is one of many whose pictures are framed on the Wall of Fame, while nearby are hung original posters advertising new games such as Dragon's Lair and Space Ace. Along the perimeter of the main room are dozens of pinball machines, from Superman of 30 years ago to more recent devices such as The Addams Family and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The games cost what they did back then: a quarter, unadjusted for inflation. I went to Funspot with someone who had never been to an arcade before - in fact, before last month, she had never played any video game whatsoever. We split $10 in tokens and squeezed out more than two hours of entertainment. We then played air hockey and skeeball, exchanging our tickets from the latter for a Chinese finger trap and some Pixie sticks, before heading from the cold, dark hive of electronic activity out again into the glaring sun of midday to take on Funspot's go-kart track.
Throughout the weekend, I neither stepped foot onto Weirs Beach nor spent any moment of the fading hours of summer sunlight in the waters of New Hampshire's largest lake. I am home again now, thinking to myself of all that I've missed - not the natural wonders of New England, but the 20 years of arcades that have witnessed increased expense and decreased popularity. Fortunately, the fall of that empire can be, at least temporarily, reversed as decades past rise once again by this simple trek to Funspot - made possible by the determination and passion of people such as manager Gary Vincent, technician Randy Lawton, and donors like Curt Vendel, who detached themselves from their own precious gaming artifacts so that they could be made available to all generations at this living museum.
April 2nd, 2006
February 21st, 2006
February 4th, 2006
Speaking of juvenile delinquency: I don't know if this ad is authentic or not, but this Xbox 360 commercial is a humorous and gentle poke at the belief that video games cause violence.
November 10th, 2005
Of less national/global appeal, but just as interesting if you happen to be in Central Massachusetts, is the exhibit "Save the Princess - The History of Storytelling in Video Games" at the WPI Gordon Library in Worcester. This exhibit is fairly static, displaying boxes of key pieces of software, from Wizardry on the Apple II to Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo, though a playable NES is present.
Speaking of working consoles, the last Xbox 360 demo unit I saw was running a first-person shooter. I was a bit saddened at the lack of gameplay advancement this console promises. I'm reminded of the emergence of 16-bit consoles, which empowered designers to create the worlds they'd always envisioned and had attempted with 8-bit machines. By contrast, 32- and 64-bit machines enabled entirely new kinds of worlds to be built, and the 128-bit generation clarified those aspirations. I had hoped that every other console might be something truly unique - not an improvement on what already exists, but the creation of something heretofore unimagined. The Xbox 360 does not seem to be the home of such inspiration.
If you want inspiration, check out Business Week, which has a brief yet pointed online interview with Shigeru Miyamoto. I think it's an understatement to call him "the Steven Spielberg of video games". We'd have movies without Spielberg; I seriously doubt we'd have video games without Miyamoto.
October 30, 2005
We changed servers two months ago; the new host provides much greater storage and bandwidth capacity, and also allows numerous shortcuts or redirects. Though all the old links still work, the following URLs are now also valid and lead to the indicated pages:
Unfortunately, the new server does not support our old "Contact Us" form, the developer of which has been promising to fix it since March. We'll see.
Though I've mentioned it before, it's worth mentioning again the ChatterBox Video Game Radio Show. Since they were last mentioned here on Gamebits, they have settled on a dynamic host panel that works, have been successful in getting interesting interview subjects and neat prizes to give away, and have also been made available through the iTunes Podcast Directory. (With the iTrip transmitter, I'm able to listen to the radio show in the car - just like an actual talk show - without being anywhere near Phoenix.) It's the only podcast I've found worth subscribing to.
As for the coming next-generation console war, it's impossible to predict what will happen. Is the Xbox 360 launching too early? The Sega Dreamcast was first out the gate in the 128-bit era, and look where it got it. Of course, Sega was supporting too many consoles simultaneously, a trait that is currently exhibited not by Microsoft - but potentiall¦ ‹P×@hich has on ˘°market the GameCube, DS, and various iterations of the Game Boy Advance. However, i you didn't catch it previously, this article outlines the logic behind the Nintendo Revolution and why it may be just what the industry needs.
It will certainly be an interesting holiday, regardless.
August 7th, 2005
I flew Delta Song this past week, which I apparently had not done in awhile, as I was surprised to experience my first domestic flight that provided its passengers with video screens in the rear of the seats. Headphones and access MP3 and live television were provided free-of-charge, and games (such as Bejeweled and movies were $5 (less than the food, which was decidedly NOT free). A mouse-sensitive game like Diner Dash would work great in a touch-screen environment such as this.
June 20th, 2005
For a more effective element of movie-game reality, download the Peter Gunn Theme from the iTunes Music Store. I've put it on a CD mix and find it a most addictive and appropriate highway toolin' tune - though it does leave me searching my dash for the smoke screen and SAM buttons...
June 16th, 2005
April 22nd, 2005
Read this gentleman's recollection for a more detailed description of the competition process.
In the meantime, all I can do is hope for a DVD release of that wonderful SMB3 commercial known as The Wizard...
March 22nd, 2005
March 16th, 2005
I remember celebrating May 5th, 2000, at Sega World in Sydney, Australia. Some of the classic games Andy had the fortune of spying were present Down Under as well; it was one of the best Cinco de Mayo I've ever had.
March 15th, 2005
Beware the ides of March!
March 13th, 2005
The series' new sense of realism in this entry makes the game look like a cross between Lord of the Rings and Metal Gear Solid. It's strange that, this is what the fans have always wanted - but now, having seen it, I wonder if it's what's best... The original Zelda game was, for all its mystery, a rather colorful and well-lit world populated with odd monsters. But everything about this new game seems threatening.
February 27th, 2005
January 30th, 2005
January 10th, 2005
January 1st, 2005
Two-thousand four saw the end of my tenure as a system operator (sysop) on CompuServe, where I joined the staff of the Video Gaming Publishers' Forum on May 10th, 1994. (It was later rechristened the more general Video Gaming Central Forum.) In November of 1997, CompuServe discontinued their text- and telnet-based access to their fora, so I adapted to their other interface, HMI (host micro interface), employed by proprietary software such as MacCIM and MacNav. In fall of 2003, VGC closed as part of a restructuring and streamlining of the entire service, and was absorbed into the even more general Games Site Forum. In 2004, the service further eliminated support for the HMI protocol; the interface they exchanged it for is web-only, designed by Prospero, the same firm responsible for the online service Delphi's fora (another service of which I am a refugee, along with GEnie). This time, I chose not to adapt. But the ten-year run was fun and introduced me to many friends (Joe, Jeanne, Alissa, Arc Nova, Rudy, and innumerable others), whose company, both online and at E3, and gaming insights I've appreciated. I've now closed my personal CompuServe account, opened in the early Eighties with a 1200-baud modem, and my sponsored account will likely disappear with the next round of renewals.
Speaking of accounts, my registration for E3 2005 has been approved.
December 22nd, 2004
Jeri Ellsworth's C64 joystick has been reported on in the New York Times; the story is available for free at news.com - but remember, you heard it here first! (thanks to Carl Knoblock and A2Central.com for this link)
Ever try to make words out of refrigerator magnets? At Just Letters, you can try doing so while up to 50 other people are playing with the same magnets at the same time. (thanks to Tony Ward for this link)
November 28th, 2004
November 25th, 2004
And don't gamers have plenty to be thankful for! Both new hardware and new software is plentiful this season, a veritable cornucopia of gaming goodness. I have Metal Gear Solid 3 and Metroid Prime 2 to look forward to, though the likelihood of me tackling either anytime soon is slim. It does not help that I am torn between a game that I think will be more enjoyable, or one I expect will be more engrossing with a more complex storyline...
I finished Silent Hill 4 last month, and was disappointed not only in the ending, but the lack of frights in getting there. Despite the innovations this entry brings to the series' control and level layout, it's really little that has been done before, and the connections to the other SH games was tenuous at best. Give me Silent Hill and Silent Hill 3 for a freaky and interwoven tale, thanks.
October 11th, 2004
September 27th, 2004
September 26th, 2004
September 21st, 2004
This announcement goes against popular theory that Sony would want at least one holiday season at its current price point to deplete its current inventory before replacing the PS2 with a newer model. Fascinating.
September 20th, 2004
Review of Resident Evil: Apocalypse is up. Several aspects of the movie are left uncommented on, such as the Russian troops being faithful to the Resident Evil 2 game in appearance if not personality - but I believe I got the gist of the film (which is written by Paul W.S. Anderson, who wrote the medicore [and ridiculously PG-13-rated] Alien vs. Predator, and the excellent Mortal Kombat film).
Prior to the film was shown a trailer of The Grudge, which, along with another movie that was previewed, I initially thought might be a Fatal Frame film. But The Grudge made up for it by starring Sarah Michelle Gellar in a dark and spooky setting - a real stretch for the vampire slayer.
I recently splurged on some DVDs, most of them items I'd missed upon release: Buffy Seasons Six and Seven; Quantum Leap Season One (Season Two'll be out for Christmas!); ReBoot Season Four (it's been too long since season three); and the Star Wars Trilogy (duh), which releases tomorrow.
I spent the weekend in Boston, doing extra work in Fever Pitch, a movie based on the Nick Hornby book and starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. Comedian Steve Hofstetter has already succintly outlined the lack of gratification involved in being an extra, so I shan't expound on it otherwise here except to say that the real pay was having another entry on my resume; that 17 hours of freezing cold in Fenway is not an experience I wish to have again (I knew I was tired when, on the drive home, my vision suffered from pop-up); and that I'll probably have to wait to freeze-frame the DVD (due in 2006) before I see if I'm even in the darn thing. (my "appearance must be visible in the final cut of the film" in order to submit an update to the IMDB, says they)
September 11th, 2004
If you're into storytelling (then again, don't see Resident Evil: Apocalypse), then Fable is out soon - as is Demon Stone, which should be well-received if for no reason than the involvement of acclaimed fantasy author R.A. Salvatore.
Street Fighter: Anniversary Collection is a repackaging of little that we haven't already experienced on other consoles, but surprisingly, contains the feature length film Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (doubtless the rated version, sans Chun-Li shower scene).
Speaking of surprises, I was accepted into the World of Warcraft stress test. But this short-term phase of the beta-test runs only through tomorrow (Sunday the 12th), and I didn't get the notice until Friday the 10th, which is exactly when my DSL connection decided to crawl at dial-up speeds, which was not conducive to downloading the 2.2GB installer. So, no test for me. Ah well.
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