• magisterrex Retro Games


    I've been gaming since the days of Pong and still own a working Atari 2600. I tend to ramble on about retro games, whether they be board games, video games or PC games. Sometimes I digress. Decades after earning it, I'm finally putting the skills I learned while completing my history degree from the University of Victoria to good use. Or so I think. If you're into classic old school gaming, this blog is for you!

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    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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    Got a game or product you want reviewed? Send me an email! Will review board games, PC games, video games and accessories (Xbox 360 or Wii, but also new releases for classic systems - you know who you are!)
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How quickly we forget how well off we are…

We live in the Age of Wonders!

“Now my day is completely ruined.” Sometimes the words come out of my mouth, and sometimes I either read them or hear them from others.  In our microwave society, we demand instant gratification and intimate convenience.  In doing so we forget how well off we truly are versus the generations of people who came before us.  How much nicer would we be if we remembered to count our blessings and thank our Maker for the gift of living in a time of miracles and wonders!

If you can’t see what I’m talking about, watch this classic monologue by Louis C.K. while he was sitting in a guest chair for Conan O’Brien‘s television show.  It’ll remind you just how fortunate you really are!

Warrior Labs Forgotten Classics Goes to the Old West with Outlaws

Here’s another post in the Forgotten Classics series on the great PC games you might not remember at the Warrior Labs website. This entry’s subject is the classic LucasArts shoot ‘em up tale of the Old West, Outlaws.  You can read it here:  CLICK ME

Box art from the 1997 game, Outlaws

Warrior Labs is a gaming website devoted to PC Gaming. Their goals are:

  • Create a strong community of PC Gamers.
  • Get inspiration from each other.
  • Tell tales about our favorite games.
  • Encourage creativity and gather people around original projects.

What’s In That Game Box? – Careers (1976)

Box art for the 1976 game, Careers.

Ever searched the Internet looking for what exactly you were missing from the old board game you pulled from your closet, only to find no succour in your time of need?  Well, stop that fruitless searching through endless google results, as this week we look at Parker Brothers’ 1976 game Careers, where fame, fortune, or happiness or yours to choose.

A much deeper discussion of the game’s origin, gameplay mechanic and the differences between the various versions throughout the years can be found in a previous blog entry, titled,  The Best Classic Board Games – Careers (1955-2009) What’s In That Game Box? deals specifically with the game’s contents, which are:

The game box (with a yellow background and a definite 1970s look to the cartoon characters on the front)

The game board (with a 32 space main path, and eight subpaths, three of which contain 11 spaces, three contain 9 spaces, one with 7 spaces, and one with 13 spaces.)

Six player tokens (blue, black, green, red, white, and yellow)

Two small six-sided dice.

A supply of play money in $50 (blue), $100 (purple), $500 (green), $1000 (yellow), $5000 (pink), and $10,000 (orange) denominations.

A deck of 28 Opportunity Knocks cards, containing:

  • GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to go to the Entrance Square of the Occupation of your choice…meet normal requirements.  May save or sell. [x2]
  • OPPORTUNITY for holiday in Hawaii.  May save or sell. [x2]
  • OPPORTUNITY to enter BIG BUSINESS…meet normal requirements.  May save or sell. [x3]
  • OPPORTUNITY to enter COLLEGE…meet normal requirements. (If all players have gone to College, replace card and draw again.) May save or sell. [x3]
  • OPPORTUNITY to enter POLITICS…meet normal requirements. May save or sell. [x2]
  • OPPORTUNITY to enter SPORTS…meet normal requirements. May save or sell. [x2]
  • OPPORTUNITY to enter THE ARTS…meet normal requirements. May save or sell. [x2]
  • OPPORTUNITY to enter the field of ECOLOGY…meet normal requirements.  May save or sell. [x3]
  • OPPORTUNITY to go into TEACHING…meet normal requirements. May save or sell. [x2]
  • OPPORTUNITY to join SPACE PROGRAM…meet normal requirements.  May save or sell. [x3]
  • SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY to enter POLITICS…because of your great charisma, all expenses paid.  May save or sell.
  • SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY to enter SPORTS…because of your great skill as a mountain climber, all expenses paid.  May save or sell.
  • SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY to enter THE ARTS…because of your great talent, all expenses paid.  May save or sell.
  • SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY to go into TEACHING…Double all Happiness earned during tenure…meet all normal requirements.  May save or sell.

A deck of 28 EXPERIENCE CARDS, which contain:

  • MAY MOVE 1 SQUARE in place of throwing the die or dice on any move. [x8]
  • MAY MOVE 2 SQUARES in place of throwing the die or dice on any move. [x8]
  • MAY MOVE 3 SQUARES in place of throwing the die or dice on any move. [x6]
  • MAY MOVE 4 SQUARES in place of throwing the die or dice on any move. [x6]

A pad of SUCCESS FORMULA score sheets

A blue plastic storage tray to hold the two decks of cards, play money, and player tokens.

The Rule Book (in both English and French, showing the 1971 copyright, not the 1976 publication date)

Aside from the inner cardboard spacers, that’s it!  An interesting tidbit: the 1971 version of Careers has exactly the same components inside the box, and the only difference is the box art, which has a red background featuring four 1970s-style cartoons showcasing some of the occupations available in the game.  The parts are completely interchangeable, which is no surprise since all Parker Brothers did was put the 1971 game pieces into a new box!

Box art for the 1971 game, Careers

A Review of Modemoiselle by ComputeHer

ComputeHer, her GameBoy, and 2 unknown Gnomes

Let me start off by reminding everyone that I’m just some schmuck who’s owned an eCommerce website for years, and not a professional music reviewer.  This blog focuses on my passion for all things related to retrogaming, although I’ve been known to digress slightly off-topic with very little prodding.  And so here we are.

As a music business outsider (way outside, like parallel universe outside), my thoughts on reviewing this album are that I should stick to my strengths, should I locate any, and keep my comments related to what I know best.  Ultimately, since music is a bit like a Rorschach test for your ears, any review is as much about the music as it is an insight into the mind of the reviewer.  But I digress…again.  So on to the music!

Cover art for Modemoiselle

Listening to ComputerHer’s Modemoiselle is a delight.  The music is lo-fi digital technopop, with a distinct retro flavor.  As I listened to the album, I kept thinking about what Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene would sound like if it was run through a Nintendo emulator and sped up to dance to.  Sometimes it invoked images of playing oldschool arcade video games, at other times the back beat prompted me to envision 1980’s pop princesses in all their big-haired glory.  I also noticed that there was a definite difference between listening to Modemoiselle on my laptop and listening on my desktop with surround.  It may be lo-fi music, but the detailed nuances within the music are best listened to on a sound system that can deliver them.  And with that public service announcement, on to my thoughts on each track:

1.      Introducing Modemoiselle gave me a heads-up on what kind of music is coming, with a classic modem handshake to let me know it’s time to reconnect with my retro roots.  Put me in a good mood and set the tone for what was yet to come.

2.      SysOp completes the groundwork of the intro piece.  At times this track invoked memories of playing various Command & Conquer games, which probably is a testament to its coolness. I liked it.

3.      New York is a bit like the city it’s named from; varied, big, and eclectic.  So much going on in this track!  Not my favorite – could be my fuddy-duddy nature, though.

4.      Heart Beeps is a bit light, but fun.  I found it difficult to identify within the grander scheme of the album as it seemed out of place compared to the other tracks.

5.      Burlesque Show is a hard one to pin down.  It invoked memories of playing Galaga ‘90 with its high-pitched melodies, but also of 1980’s pop princess tunes with its driving back beat (which might be a bit of a kiss of death for a lo-fi artist, but that’s why I gave the disclaimer above!).  Since I like both Galaga ’90 and 1980′s pop princesses, I liked this song, too.

6.      Naughty Bits seems to serve as a flow-through piece, moving the album along to the next song, and incorporating some of the previous pieces’ sound in the process.  I’m not certain where the naughty bits went to, though; I kept waiting to hear a Leisure Suit Larry theme trickle through to provide them!

7.      Twilight Byte was an odd track, with its strange sounds and notes.  I kept thinking about some of the stranger levels in a Genesis or TurboGrafx-16 arcade shooter, with bizarre background images to match the music.  A bit discombobulating, but still enjoyable.

8.      Dark Pub maintains a driving backbeat which keeps the musical story moving, but permits various musical motifs to flow in and out of the track. What’s going on where this music is coming from?   Hard to say, but there’s a lot of musical characters with bit parts wandering through!  I kept envisioning the cantina on Tatooine (gratuitous Star Wars reference), but without the band.

9.      Sugar Cube was the most relaxing of the tracks, but had an interesting alien vibe going on throughout.  Cool cruising music, too; this is music I could see myself driving the Trans Canada Highway while listening to.  It was certainly my favorite of all the tracks.

Sometimes an artist comes across as lacking a vision of where they want to go and what they want to accomplish, which usually relegates the CD to the dustbin.  Others have a laser-like precision to their musical journey, knowing exactly where they want to go and what musical vehicle will take them there.  Modemoiselle is a work that was clearly composed and performed with a vision, and although not every track made a strong impact on me, I  know I’ll be listening to it again, and recommend it as well worth a serious look.

You can purchase ComputeHer’s music from her website, www.computeher.com Enjoy!

Retrogaming Site Review: OldSchoolJunkie.com

OldSchoolJunkie.com screen shot

Every so often I find a website that simply needs to be shared with other gamers; OldSchoolJunkie.com is one such site.  The site promotes itself as “dedicated to bringing a voice to Retro Gaming and Independently Developed  game projects.”  It is a fairly new gaming site, but it has pushed itself deep into the Alexa ratings, already finding itself in the mid 400K range.  This is a testament to the quality of work being published on the site by its team, led by Jorge Murphy, the founder and editor-in-chief of OldSchoolJunkie.com  Jorge is an experienced and accomplished professional writer, and that professional polish shows throughout the site.

The writing and subject matter is of high-quality, and there is a nice variation between retro games and independent gaming.  A quick glance at the landing page shows this diversity: a gameplay video on the Turbografx-16 classic The Legendary Axe: a video showing the introduction for the Sega CD RPG Lunar: Eternal Blue; a news post on the upcoming upgrade to the Xbox Avatar system; a feature on a retro music remix of Rush’n Attack by an indie musician; a gameplay video on the somewhat forgotten Heart of the Alien for Sega CD; a review and shoutout to the All Gen Gamers retro-related podcast; a news brief on the inclusion of Xbox Live! for the Windows Mobile 7 platform; a quick feature on a contest from another gaming site; a discussion on an indie iPhone game called Surveillance; a retro hardware review on Sony’s PSOne with screen; a long gameplay video of Alien vs. Predator for the Atari Jaguar system; and 14 more articles – all on just the landing page!  With that kind of quantity and quality offerings, it’s little wonder that OldSchoolJunkie.com’s popularity continues to increase.

I heartily recommend visiting OldSchoolJunkie.com…but watch out: the sheer volume of both retrogaming and indie gaming material may seriously impact your day’s productivity.  If you’re blog surfing at work, you may end up spending more time reliving those retrogaming memories than working on that report that’s due…which may lead to your dismissal…which will give you the gift of more time to work through Jorge Murphy’s site!  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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