• 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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Christmas ReBlog: The 12 Days of Retro Gaming

12 Days of Retrogaming

I just read a wonderful Christmas-related retrogaming post from 2011 that I hadn’t seen before, all thanks to the magic of google! It’s called 12 Days of Retro Gaming, and it’s worth a read!

In 1994 my father decided that it was high time to replace that old Commodore 64 (which wasn’t even considered a PC anymore) with a brand new Pentium 90 mhz PC.  I remember coming downstairs on Christmas morning and there it was, a beautiful boxy white machine with a VGA monitor, printer, and took up all the space our wide oak desk could spare.  CD-ROM was brand new and this bad boy came equipped with it and a few initial CDs, including Myst and an Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia.  At that time, however, not every game came in the CD version and many PC gamers were selling off their floppy disc versions of games to upgrade.  It was at this time that I became enamoured with PC gaming and began stopping by the used PC game shop near my part-time job and blowing my money on classics.

Read more by clicking the link HERE

All Good Things Come To An End…

Way back in 2001, when I was in between stints of gainful employment, I found a little online auction house called eBay, and began to stock up on some collectibles which had been on my wish list for a long time. After an orgy of collection acquisition, it occurred to me that I could sell off some of my unwanted stuff on that site, and with a little luck, make enough to buy even more of what I wanted.

A few months later, in 2002, I realized that I was making more money than I was spending, and there just might be a business model hiding in my hobby time.  I registered my trademark and began operating as a business, always known as magisterrex.com officially, although eBay’s many labyrinthine rule changes eventually required me to call myself magisterrex Retro Games if I wanted to stay selling there. For many years eBay was a good partner, and I paid my fees dutifully and happily, becoming one of their Power Sellers and staying that way until I left.

2004 is the earliest screenshot Wayback Machine has for magisterrex.com, forwarded to my eBay listings from the http://www.magisterrex.com URL.

Eventually, as the market transformed, I found eBay too restrictive and too little value for the money, and left for greener pastures. Before then, and after, I dabbled in other online venues: Bidville, Bonanzle, Dawdle, iOffer, Overstock, Amazon, eCrater, eBid, and others, with limited success. Some of these names you might not even recall anymore, as they have disappeared from the vast online retail landscape.

Looking fancier in the eBay store by 2005, but http://www.magisterrex.com is still forwarded to my eBay store.

What did work was running my own website, which permitted me much more time to devote to inventory acquisition and listing, rather the artificial emergencies of eBay. I learned how to code in HTML, which was the norm of the day, and put up what now would be an ugly, barely functional eCommerce site…but it did the job. Within a year of moving the bulk of my inventory to the website, sales matched my eBay sales, and two years later blew them out of the water, prompting me to shut down my eBay store altogether.

Here’s the earliest screenshot that the Wayback Machine has of the actual magisterrex.com website, a marvel of HTML.

A few years later my website’s stodgy look prompted me to contact a trusted website designer to bring magisterrex.com closer to the modern age. She designed my robot and overall look of the site, and delivered what, for the most part, you see today.

A new look for magisterrex.com, and a more familiar one for current visitors.

Yet the world continues to turn, and things are changing within the retrogaming community. There are fewer and fewer people who want to have the actual, original games in hand, preferring to purchase digital, virtual versions. The rise of digital delivery has meant that GOG and other sites like it can offer someone a game at a few dollars, send it to them electronically, and no one waits for the mail to arrive. Microsoft offers the same type of product through their Live service, as do Nintendo and Sony on their own networks. This, it seems, is a very attractive process to many people, though I still cannot bring myself to participate.  Unfortunately, original game resellers are soon to be a distant memory because of companies like GOG, as the bills still need to be paid, regardless if no one wants to buy a game that day.

Which brings me to my point.

I’ve had a great run, and I know I’ve mailed out a lot of happiness to a lot of people over the last decade. I’m content with that, but I do need to feed and clothe the children, and provide some measure of a lifestyle beyond the poverty level for my family. So, I have accepted an offer from a company to return to work doing what I did a decade ago. My website will stay live for some time yet, as I slowly clear out my inventory and give people the chance to buy what they want, but eventually I will shutter the windows and lock the doors.

So, a profound THANK-YOU to everyone who has purchased from my store over the past ten years. Because of your patronage, I was able to live out and pursue a dream, which is far more than many others get to do. I’ll still hang around Twitter from time-to-time, as my new schedule and responsibilities permit, and I hope to put up a blog post or two that someone might find of interest. All good things come to an end, and this…this was a great thing. Thanks for reading and remember: keep it retro!

ReBlog: NES Cartridge Hard Drive and Console Dock

Recently I was asked for permission to use some pictures I made and used in my guide for replacing a Nintendo Entertainment System 72-pin connector to help show some steps in creating a hard drive and docking station out of an old NES cartridge and console.  How could I say “NO” to that?  The guide is now uploaded into the instructables website, and you can read the guide and watch the video to see some fine retro-themed hacking. Check it out here: http://www.instructables.com/id/NES-Cartridge-Hard-Drive-and-Console-Dock/?ALLSTEPS

Indie Game Review: Martian Marine Lander

Here’s a little indie gaming treat for cheapass gamers like myself: Martian Marine Lander. The premise is simple: guide your Martian spacecraft full of Martian Marines down to Earth so that the invasion can begin. Of course, Earth has defense forces, and they’re keenly interested in turning your craft into space dust, so the lander needs to be protected by dexterously angling your force fields to absorb damage while floating down to the surface. It’s harder than it sounds, as inertia tends to keep your craft rolling in the wrong direction just when you need the shields to be facing elsewhere! And don’t think you can just plummet down at a breakneck pace to avoid all the weaponry altogether: making a run for it causes the Lander to explode into so many little pieces from the stress.

My meager Martian Marine Lander skills in action.

This game reminds me of classic retro games you could find on your Atari 2600 in that the game difficulty adjusts to your level, giving you new challenges to overcome, yet with modern music and graphics. In fact, I found myself sucked into the game for a considerable length of time before realizing that food and water were also an important part of my regular routine.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, check out http://www.martianmarinelander.com/ and shell out the mere $4.95 it costs to download the full game, and enjoy!

Bundle in a Box – DEEP SPACE Has Launched!

While sitting here coughing up a foreign substance and generally feeling miserable, the thought crossed my mind that I needed some cheering up, and what better way to do so than by checking out Kyttaro Games’ latest limited time offering, Bundle in a Box – Deep Space.

For an absolutely absurdly minimal investment you receive five space-themed games: Armalyte (the classic Commodore 64 game redone for today’s technology), Dark Scavenger (a black-humored adventure game with turn-based combat), Death Ray Manta (a psychedelic and fully customizable arena shooter designed exclusively for Bundle in a Box), Space Giraffe (a mesmerizing shooter in the Tempest-style), and The Wreckless (a space combat simulator in the spirit of TIE Fighter). Pay a little more (beat the average price!) and you receive three more games: Miner Wars Arena, RobotRiot, and Sol: Exodus! Sounds like a great deal to me!

Just like the previous Bundle in a Box release, part of the proceeds are paid into the Indie Dev Grant, a fund created by Kyttaro Games to help Indie game developers by providing them with a little extra cash. For every 100 bundles sold, $10 will be added to the grant, and the cumulative total will be handed with no strings attached to a lucky developer. That’s awesome enough, but it gets even more awesome (awesomer?) with a portion of the proceeds also going to charity. Kyttaro Games is donating a portion of the proceeds to The Hellenic Centre for Mental Health and Treatment of Child and Family, also known as To Perivolaki (The Little Garden), a non-profit and non-governmental organisation established in order to diagnose and treat children and adolescents with autism or psychosis, while simultaneously supporting their families.

Between the charity, dev grant, and just plain selfish desire to play some nifty games, how can you go wrong? Get thee hence to the Bundle in a Box website, located HERE, and bask in the glory of supporting indie game development while playing some great games, all for a ridiculously low price tag! But you better hurry…the Bundle in a Box – Space Bundle offer will expire soon!

Posting pictures of retrogaming memories…

If you haven’t been following the magisterrex.com Facebook account, you’re missing out on some great pics of classic games being posted every day. Rare board games, classic video games, even old PC games that you may dimly recall…after a decade of selling retrogames, many of the pictures of those oldschool beauties are being posted for all to enjoy. Check out the Facebook page HERE, give it a LIKE, and join the conversation!

Is PayPal Changing For The Better?

I’ve written a few blog entries about some of the past injustices that PayPal has perpetrated upon people who deserved better. I’ve always seen them as a potential danger, not a trusted partner, due to their shoot-first-ask-questions-later method of dealing with problems. I was pleasantly surprised to see a story on CNET this morning that indicated that those days may be over, and that PayPal may be returning to its roots of strong seller support. It appears that David Marcus, the new President of PayPal is looking to drive reform, and restore the payment giant’s online reputation among sellers, starting with the onerous and well-disliked payment freeze policy.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come!  Read the full article from CNET here: PayPal exec gets personally involved in account dispute