• 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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Happy Belated 10th Birthday to the Microsoft Xbox

I cannot believe that 10 years has passed by already since that fateful day of November 15, 2001, when Microsoft launched the first Xbox system in North America.  The Xbox was a sweet gaming system with a custom 733 Mhz Pentium III processor powering up 64 MB of RAM and a 233 MHz nVidia NV2A graphics card, and it was the first gaming system to use a built-in hard drive and to use  Dolby Interactive Content Encoding Technology.  Best of all, you could play Halo: Combat Evolved and (eventually) its sequel, Halo 2.   Gamers loved the Xbox, too, as it sold out on its launch date, and would go on to sell over 24 million units before going out of production, replaced by the Xbox 360.

The Original Xbox by Microsoft

Of course, no mention of the original Xbox would be complete without mentioning the “Fatty” controller (also sometimes called “The Duke”) that was included with the North American release.  This was a big controller, both in girth and width.  Some people loved it, but many people did not, and eventually Microsoft swapped out the “Fatty” for the “S” model that was included with the Japanese release.  10 years later, with the Xbox now a retrogaming machine, there are still requests for the giant-sized original controller.

Xbox Fatty Controller Origin by Penny Arcade

To celebrate the classic Xbox’s 10th Anniversary, Microsoft has released a free Anniversary Prop for users’ Avatars.  You can check it out HERE.  Also, magisterrex.com is celebrating the Xbox’s birthday with a coupon for a combined discount of 30% off original Xbox in-stock games and strategy guides.  The coupon code is 10YEARXBOX and is valid up to November 30, 2011. (Just enter it during the checkout process.  You can see what’s available using this link: http://magisterrex.com/products.asp?cat=43) Happy 10th Birthday, Xbox – here’s to another 10 years of gaming goodness!


New Obsolete Comic Review at OGR!

A new Obsolete Comic Review is up at oldgamereviewer.com, this time focusing on the miniseries that introduced Nekron to the DC Universe.  Find out what I think of Joe Staton’s art, the metaphysical confusion of the DC afterlife, and the historical significance of the year 1981.  All this and an actual review of what’s inside the three issue DC Comics miniseries, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps.  LINK HERE

One More First…Or What Do I Sound Like, Anyway?

Well, this week I’ve finally pulled out my digital camera and made a quick video of some of the new listings at magisterrex.com.  I’m not a huge fan of video, as I prefer the depth of written works, but enough of my Twitter friends use the medium that I decided to give it a go, for a short time, at least.  It’s a bit rough, and my mind wanders in mid-sentence here and there, but I take comfort in the fact that it’s my first attempt.  Have a look if you’re curious about the games or what my voice might sound like!

Advertising From Yesteryear…Mortal Kombat

Fighting games have been around as long as there have been video game consoles.  Most of these games I found mindless and devoid of much fun, as they tended to be simple “hit-’em ’till they drop” exercises.  Then along came Mortal Kombat, and the genre became much more interesting.  Mortal Kombat’s appeal speaks for itself, as long after its initial Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Game Gear, and GameBoy releases, the franchise keeps marching on.  For fun, here’s a full-page full-color advertisement found on the back of an early 1990s comic book.  They weren’t lying when they called it the “Fighting Game of the Century.”  Enjoy!

ReBlog: Jane Jensen Returns with Cognition

Anyone remotely familiar with the beautifully crafted Gabriel Knight series recognizes the name Jane Jensen when they see it, and should get a small spasm of joy at the thought of her involvement in a new gaming venture.  The game stars Erica Reed, an investigator with a supernatural ability to “read” objects to “see” where they’ve been, who handled them, and what happened.  She’s chasing down four serial killers, The Hangman, The Wise Monkey, The Cain Killer, and The Oracle.  Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller will be released in episodic format, which Sam ‘n’ Max and Tales of Monkey Island have recently showed is a good choice for an adventure game franchise.  And as if the involvement of Jane Jensen is not enough, so too are artist Romano Molenaar (X-Men, among other work) and Phoenix Online, the developers of the King’s Quest homage, The Silver Lining!

The project is currently looking for funding through a Kickstarter campaign.  Give them a visit, and if you can afford it, a few dollars, too.

As ever, thanks to Gnome for the information that I’m sharing with you!

Forgotten Classics: Wonderland (1990)

“Forgotten Classics” is a celebration of obscure PC games that weren’t released to widespread fanfare – or simply fell of the radar of gamers at the time of their release – and deserve a second look. In this installment: Wonderland, an adventure game developed by the British game developer Magnetic Scrolls and published by Virgin Games in 1990.

Box art for Wonderland

Wonderland was a game set in the Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland mythos. You played Alice as she made her way through the bizarre Wonderland landscape, solving puzzles and enduring plenty of puns. However, the plot of the game did not follow that of the book, although familiar characters, such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Duchess, and the Red Queen all appeared to delight the player (or confound them).  However, only the characters from Alice in Wonderland appeared; there were no characters or scenes from the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass (which meant no Tweedledum and Tweedledee!).  Even so, there were still around 110 locations to explore in all their surreal glory.

Magnetic Scrolls developed an interesting game engine called “Magnetic Windows” which they used for Wonderland. Rather than one game screen, Magnetic Windows permitted several game screens to be opened at once (much like Microsoft Windows), and each window could be moved or resized as needed. So a player could have their inventory screen, a screen with details about a particular object, the game map, a specific room item list, a compass, a help menu, the main screen with a graphic, and more all open at once. Particularly enjoyable for those who tired of the constant switch between game map – inventory – action screen that most games used.

Wonderland received generally good reviews: “…very simply, it’s fun stuff to play” (Computer Game Review, June 1991); “Wonderland has shown me that the adventure-game genre is alive and growing” (Compute!, August 1991);  “an atmospheric and cerebellum-crushing adventure game…”  (Amiga Power, June 1991).  It was (and is!) an enjoyable romp through a classic landscape. It doesn’t have much repeat play value, but being of the adventure game genre, it’s not really fair to expect it to. For those who have never parsed a text, give Wonderland a chance to show you what gaming was like twenty years ago!

R.I.P. Dawdle.com

Back in 2008, a new video game marketplace debuted which offered an easy and convenient way for gamers to sell their new and used games.  This site was called dawdle.com, and I was fortunate to be part of its early growth, being the very first Canadian seller and also one of the first storefronts that offered hundreds of games.  However, sales at dawdle.com were always a fraction of those on other sites, so eventually I pulled out and put that inventory directly into magisterrex.com.  A couple years passed, and I just looked in on dawdle.com to see if things had changed, only to receive the dreaded, “Oops! Google Chrome could not find http://www.dawdle.com”  Did they change their name (unlikely, as one would assume they would forward the old domain to the new one) or did dawdle.com simply pass into Internet history?  It certainly looks like the latter to me, and I’m sorry to see it go.   If so, rest in peace, dawdle.com.