Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Thursday, August 04, 2021

try me
Think you can keep this menacing-looking character from gobbling up your mouse cursor? Give it a shot, cowboy. It’s mildly addictive, perfect for burning away a few spare minutes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/04/2021 10:41:49 PM
Category: Internet, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, June 26, 2021

free man!
Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. The inclusion of the “1UP” dinger, indicating that Mario is gaining extra lives just for back-dooring his princess, was the little touch that elevated this from mere crudeness to genuine humor.

And for my own peace of mind, I’m going to assume (based on Nintendo’s long-running Mario Brothers storyline) that the sex is consensual.

(Via The Digested)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/26/2005 04:39:25 PM
Category: Comedy, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Saturday, June 25, 2021

Ah, the death of athleticism beckons: The first two innings of a real-life July 16th minor-league baseball game in Kansas City will be played out on an Xbox by fans. The flesh-and-blood players for the Kansas City T-Bones and Schaumburg Flyers will then take the field to contest the remaining seven innings.

Instead of checking for pine tar, I guess the Northern League umpires will have to watch out for any use of cheat codes.

I’ll laugh my ass off if the two-inning result ends up being a lopsided 14-2, and the real-life trailing team bitches long and hard about that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/25/2005 07:35:32 PM
Category: Baseball, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, June 14, 2021

Enough with all the Pac-Man stuff, already! I mean, I like the game, but it’s far from my favorite.

Still, I have to mark this month’s 25th anniversary of the introduction of the arcade classic.

“This was the first time a player took on a persona in the game. Instead of controlling inanimate objects like tanks, paddles and missile bases, players now controlled a `living’ creature,” says Leonard Herman, author of “Phoenix: The Rise and Fall of Videogames.”"It was something that people could identify, like a hero.”

My first reading of that paragraph aroused skepticism in me; there had to be videogame characters that preceded the Pac. But, going strictly from memory, I guess there wasn’t, at least not in a truly identifiable sense: It was hard to give a Pong paddle or Space Invaders ship much of a personality.

Pac-Man was a more definable character, as evidenced by the ease with which spinoff storylines were launched for him. He and Mario from Donkey Kong/Mario Brothers fame were, really, the only enduring and mass-market characters to come out of the early videogaming days.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/14/2005 11:26:05 PM
Category: Videogames, History | Permalink | Feedback (1)

say pac
Wow. Just a day after noting the continuing cultural influence of Pac-Man, I run across MindSay, a blogging/social networking site that liberally uses a blue-hued Pac-Imposter as its logo.

I guess there’s something compelling and universal about that little wedged-out circle.

As for MindSay… Looks like nothing but a warmed-over replay of Xanga, aimed at the slightly older (mid-20s) demographic who (think) they’ve outgrown Xanga. Like MySpace, these kind of sites seem to have a predictable trajectory:

1. They launch amid much hype over attracting groups of enthusiastic, hip, pretty young things

2. They attain a critical mass of a couple hundred thousand members

3. They start to cross-promote and sell ads like crazy, cashing in on what’s assumed to be a captive audience

4. They roll out premium add-ons for nominal fees

5. They get so large and ad-driven that they turn off the very members that flocked to them in the first place, leading to defections and a loss of cool-cache

6. They sputter on, devolving into purely affiliate-marketing/spam-generating subscriber rolls of questionable value

And so on, until a new crop of sites roll out. What I can’t figure out is why people continually buy into them, swallowing the hype about how they’re new and innovative, when they’re far from it. Maybe the average joiner goes into it knowing that it’s got a short shelf life.

If someone can figure out a way to break this cycle and come out with a social networking site that endures, they’ll make a mint.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/14/2005 11:00:39 AM
Category: Internet, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (7)

Monday, June 13, 2021

What is it about Pac-Man? Twenty years after its heyday, and it’s still providing inspiration, often in the oddest ways.

Case in point: Researchers in Singapore have devised a virtual-reality version of the game that melds wi-fi, GPS and other technologies to allow people to play in an urban landscape:

Combining both real and virtual elements, the game allows the human Pacman to ’see’ virtual cookies with the aid of the special headset scattered on the street which the player can then ‘eat’ by walking through them.

Ghosts get to ‘devour’ the player by tapping them on the shoulder when they catch up to them within the game area.

In return, Pacman gets the ability to temporarily neutralise them and add to his virtual powers when he finds and picks up Bluetooth-embedded physical sugar jars scattered in the real world environment by a game coordinator.

The player’s locations are also wirelessly updated to a virtual 3D Pac-world where online gamers can view their progress and participate by helping either Pacman or the Ghosts through text messaging.

This sounds an awful lot like New York University’s PacManhattan project, maybe ramped up a bit. Which in turn may have inspired a clever Saturn Vue commercial.

Not bad for a game that almost had a potentially damaging original name:

The game was, at first, called Puckman. It was later changed due to the fact that the middle section of the ‘P’ could be scratched away making the name offensive to people.

(Via Diary of the Mad Pigeon)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/13/2005 08:47:13 PM
Category: Tech, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Wednesday, May 25, 2021

the game that moves as you play
Nice cover, don’t you think? It makes you want to read all about Electronic Arts-Tiburon and their Orlando digs, where they try not to play videogames all day.

And yet, looking at it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Why? Just look at it. EA worker bees Laura, Michael, and Joe, all gripping their game controllers with maniacal glee on their faces. Staring directly out from the cover, right at the reader.

My God. It’s like they’re playing me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/25/2005 10:15:17 PM
Category: Videogames, Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Saturday, March 19, 2021

game over
What must those aliens be thinking? The above digital image was sent out into space during the dedication of the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest radio telescope, way back in 1974. No return message has been received, although since the target is tens of thousands of lightyears away, we shouldn’t be expecting one for a while yet.

Here’s how to interpret this pixelated piece:

[F]rom left to right are numbers from one to ten, atoms including hydrogen and carbon, some interesting molecules, DNA, a human with description, basics of our Solar System, and basics of the sending telescope.

I’m looking at it, and I’m thinking it’s an early prototype for Robotron: 2084.

Still, considering it’s from 1974, it could have been a lot worse: They could have sent a Pong lookalike hurtling through the universe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/19/2005 07:03:14 PM
Category: Videogames, Science | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Tuesday, March 15, 2021

The eBay listing for a haunted Nintendo Entertainment System (still a whole day left to get your bid in!) is generating lots of chatter.

Am I the only one who had this goofy item bring to mind the “Video Ouija” episode of “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”?

I’m calling bullshit on this one; it’s a hipster prank. Shoot, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Adult Swim marketing team were behind this, in a viral marketing bid.

Besides, if you really want a spooked-out game console, buy an Xbox. Those eerie alien noises that come out of the audio when the thing is sitting idle and disc-less certainly sounds like a candidate for exorcism.

In a related note: I cannot believe it took this long for the above group picture of ATHF to make its debut on this site.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/15/2005 10:17:20 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, March 14, 2021

Fifteen years ago, I bought Final Fantasy Legend for the original Nintendo Game Boy. It was a trip: A fantasy role-playing game that was designed to take you days — days! — to play and complete. For the early ’90s, this was largely uncharted videogame territory.

A friend of mine quickly took a shining to the game, and would play it for (what seemed like) hours on end. He was borderline obsessed with it. Despite much derision from me and our dormmates, he pressed on, devoting ridiculous amounts of time to it.

He got to a point in the game where it wasn’t at all obvious how to proceed. It turned out to be a real dead end, despite all efforts to try to suss it out. It appeared that the end of the line had come, with an unfulfilled feeling to go with it.

Why didn’t he just do a search for game cheats? This was 1990ish, children, and there was no Internet (to speak of). Dark ages, indeed.

What there was, was a 1-900 number that Nintendo had set up just for these situations. The idea was that anyone who spent hours of effort getting to a certain point in the gameplay wouldn’t mind shelling out some coin to get the inside secret on how to get out of a difficult jam.

The downside, of course, was the stooping to extracurricular aid for a freakin’ videogame; you might as well have gone to a prostitute. It represented a divide: Going from playing a consequence-free game, to demonstrating an unhealthy preoccupation. The feeling at the time was that the shame was too great to actually resort to telephone help for something only a generation removed from Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

But he couldn’t concede defeat. So he called the 1-900 number. He probably spent 2 minutes on the call, but he got the info he needed, got past the game’s sticky point, and went on to solve the whole thing.

And I made sure to ride him about it. A lot. In fact, I just rode him about it today, during lunch. Paying for a videogame after the purchase of the actual software is enough to earn my years-long derision.

So, you can imagine what my opinion is of today’s virtual marketplaces for massively multiplayer online role-playing games like EverQuest, where players pay real-life cash money for game elements and actual businesses have sprouted up around the “pharming” model.

So if you feel like bragging to me about how you landed a coveted Sword of Foofram, and paid only $250 on eBay for it, think twice. Unless you want to be reminded for the next 15 years about what a chump you are/were.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 09:52:22 PM
Category: Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Sunday, December 19, 2021

save the humanoids
Quien es mas macho: Robotron: 2084 or Smash TV?

I’m extreme oldschool, yo. Robotron all the way!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/19/2004 04:01:32 PM
Category: Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

hit hyperspace!
A dimly-lit pizza parlour. Blaring television set, greasy smell wafting throughout. And strategically situated, a circa-1980 Asteriods coin-op machine.

A scene from my long-departed childhood? Nope. It was the scene from half an hour ago, when I hit the nearby north St. Pete West Shore Pizza. I went in due to a craving for a couple of slices of pie, and was happily surprised to see the relic Asteroids sitting right there. And no one else around! I got a few quarters (it was only 25 cents for a game!) and jumped on it.

It was the same as it ever was. I got my name on the high score (which wasn’t hard, as it didn’t look like it had been played much lately), and after my second and last game, my fingers started aching in that old-time Space Invaders Wrist kinda way. Golden!

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/30/2004 09:17:29 PM
Category: Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Remember that Cameron Diaz-Justin Timberlake spat with an overly-aggressive paparazzi?

Nah, me neither. Who has time to keep up with all those celebrity derring-dos?

But even without the full real-world context, Liquid Generation’s “Paparazzi Punch-Out” is a fun little diversion, and a great send-up of the 20-year-old Nintendo game.

While Justin is predictably easy to knock around, Cameron turns out to be one tough cookie in the ring. Must be a result of all that Charlie’s Angels training.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/28/2004 06:59:48 PM
Category: Internet, Celebrity, Comedy, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, November 27, 2021

It sounds like a typically improbable spam email subject line, doesn’t it? (Or else an obvious politician-bashing assessment/joke.)

But no, for real, venerable C-SPAN broadcast unpixelated nude girlie scenes from videogame titles “The Guy Game” and “Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude” earlier this week.

Is it sweeps week for C-SPAN? No, it was just a segment from the Senate’s briefing on National Institute on Media and the Family’s “MediaWise Video Game Report Card”, complete with visual aids. I guess someone forgot the cameras were rolling, or figured the scenes wouldn’t show up too clearly (which they didn’t, but apparently they’re clear enough for a gawk-worthy RealPlayer video stream).

Congress better be careful. It doesn’t take much to bring on the FCC’s wrath these days, cable or no cable. Besides, we don’t need the Federal government levying fines on itself; it’ll only inflate the deficit.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/27/2004 05:48:01 PM
Category: TV, Political, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, November 14, 2021

game on?
Shares in Digital River did some fancy jumping on Friday, caused by the rumor that the company’s software would be used by Apple for enabling sales of downloadable games onto the next-generation iPod.

It would be a break with tradition for Apple, which has kept iPod digital commerce routed strictly through the iTunes Music Store. It’s not out of the question, though; the deal with Hewlett-Packard to produce HP-branded iPods was a departure from standard operating procedure, and that happened.

It’s an intriguing concept. The iPod already comes pre-loaded with four games, all of the simple time-killing variety. Apple’s not going to give the iPod a major hardware/interface redesign for the purposes of gameplaying, so I’d expect any games they try to seel would be of a similar vein (and very much like the game-lettes sold by wireless providers on mobile phones).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/14/2004 06:36:58 PM
Category: Tech, Videogames, Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, October 31, 2021

political jungle
I have a weakness for oldschool videogames on the Web. And in this campaign season, I get a kick out of politically-repurposed ones.

So, in the vein of “White House Joust”, New York’s Gotham Gazette presents “Donkey Con” (aka “Elephant Evasion” — keeping it nice and bipartisan).

Practice your jumping skills, Mario, because there are no hammers in this version. And don’t plan on any marathon sessions, because there are no bonus rounds, either.

(Via Greedy Girl)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/31/2004 11:54:56 AM
Category: Politics, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

So, is it a bad sign when a chunk of plastic chips off your Xbox S-Controller while you’re playing?

I’m not talking about a button or joint coming loose and dislodging. I mean a strip of plastic actually breaking off, due to excessive pressure from overuse.

You might tag me as a hopeless gaming geek. But really, it’s taken two full years to damage the controller (it still works fine). And comparatively, I’m tame. I just took a survey on my gaming habits, and it turns out that my couple of hours a week of blasting pixels is bush league when stacked against the 8-hours-per-day zombies out there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/31/2004 11:34:34 AM
Category: Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

virtual lock-out
Because we’re missing out only on the mostly-invisible training camps, the almost-week-old NHL lockout hasn’t really hit home yet. Much like all the hurricane prepping we’ve grown used to in these parts, diehard fans can see the hurt coming about a month from now, when regular-season gamedates start biting it.

But if you’re a hard-core hockey fan, and still wanna get your geek on, G4techTV got the remedy: A season-long videogame simulation of the NHL season, game by game.

I don’t get G4techTV. Darn. Then again, I’ve got my own copy of NHL 2k4 for the Xbox, so I can go to that. Of course, I haven’t fired up that disc in months…

This could turn into an unexpected boon for the league. If ratings for this cyber-ice tourney look strong, NHL owners could reason that they don’t need to hire flesh-and-blood players at all — just run videogame matchups every night! That’s your cost-certainty for you.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/21/2004 07:33:24 PM
Category: Hockey, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Earlier this year, I wondered why Apple hadn’t joined in on the videogame console race. It turns out that ten years ago, they were ready to do just that, with a project code-named Pippen.

I wonder why it was aborted. Steve Jobs came back to Apple at right about the same time, so I’m assuming it’s one of the non-core efforts he eliminated (along with the Newton and the Power-PC clones). If anyone has the full story, or a hyperlink to it, I’d love to get it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/14/2004 10:05:47 PM
Category: Tech, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

70s stylin
I guess I know the next Xbox disc I’ll be buying (or getting as a gift). “Atari Anthology” is coming, a collection of 85(!) ancient games from the ’70s and ’80s, part of a wave of retro-gaming products the latter-day Atari Inc. is preparing to release.

Oldschool videogaming rules. As it is, the only games I play on my Xbox anymore are Robotron: 2084 and Joust, off the Midway Arcade Classics disc.

Yes, I still have the same Atari 2600 from my childhood, along with a mess of cartridges, and they all work. And I can get plenty of Java/Shockwave versions of these games off the Web. But it’s all about convenience, and that’s well worth the $20-30 this disc will cost.

“They are not easy to master,” [Atari CEO Bruno] Bonnell said. “Some people believe that because they are old games they will finish them very soon. But I think people will be sweating to finish.”

The concept of “finishing” games is one of the key things that separate these old-timers from latter-day and modern games. You were never finished with a game like Centipede or Moon Patrol — that was the point. These games were built for the arcade, and the object for gameplayers back then was to shoot for a high score; therefore, the game never ended, it just kept going to higher and higher levels. I think when game structures evolved to include a game object that eventually ended, something was lost.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/07/2021 05:30:16 PM
Category: Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Monday, September 06, 2021

prepare to
Inspired by arcade classic Joust, it’s White House Joust.

Because if ostriches can fly, then so can donkeys and elephants.

(Via DrikoLand)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/06/2021 01:39:23 PM
Category: Internet, Politics, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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