Friday, July 31, 2020

My Top 5 Nostalgic Nintendo Games

This fall the Nintendo Entertainment System will become 35 years old! This was the first video game system that me and my brother owned. I remember he got it for his 7th birthday in 1986. Our mom was picking us up from school and when we got in the car, the NES and the game Ghosts & Goblins were in the back seat. We immediately freaked out and couldn't wait to get home to hook it up. Of course, I was only 6 and my brother 8 so we had no idea what needed to be hooked up where, so we had to wait for Dad to get home. Once he did, he hooked up the NES, we pushed in that "Power" button on the front and as soon as that little light went red, we were in a brand new world of fantasy controlled by us! Our system came with R.O.B. the robot, the game Gyromite, the NES Zapper & Duck Hunt. Since that October day I have been a die hard Nintendo fan and in the 80s Nintendo was king. Here are a few of the games I had growing up that still bring out the warm fuzzies in me!
Contra (Konami, 1988)
This game is probably on most people's top Nintendo game lists, but the reason it is on mine is because of the fun we used to have trying to beat this game. This was before the age of internet and we had no idea of the "KONAMI CODE" at the time. When we did discover this code that is now burned into every 80s kids brain (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Select, Start) our minds were blown! At that point it wasn't about if we could beat the game or not, but how fast we could beat the game. This opened our eyes to the possibilities of other cheat codes and hidden treasures in our favorite video games.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge (Acclaim, 1990)
Back in the day, myself and my brother had to save our money and then pool it together so we could buy a new game. This meant money from allowances, extra jobs and birthdays all were spoken for. Most of the time we had an idea of what game we wanted and this was one of those times. We loved the first Double Dragon and couldn't wait to sink our teeth into the sequel. The reason this game stands out to me is because, this was a co-op game which meant me and my brother had to work together to defeat Willy and avenge the death of Billy's girlfriend Marion. We had a ton of fun doing so, but mostly when we played the 2-player game "B". This was the version where you would play side by side, but still have the option to beat each other up. My brother took full advantage of that!
Dragon Warrior (Enix, 1989)
My family got their copy of Dragon Warrior as part of the great Nintendo Power giveaway campaign in the early 90s. We subscribed to Nintendo Power Magazine for 2 years and got the Dragon Warrior game, strategy guide and a cool Nintendo Power pin! I honestly, didn't like the game to begin with, but my Dad became hooked. He would play the game every night after us kids would go to bed and every morning when we woke up, he would tell us what he had accomplished the night before. My Dad's enthusiasm for the game and the game itself introduced me to the world of RPGs. Eventually I became hooked and beat the game on my own, which was very satisfying. Not bad for a FREE throw-in game!
Major League Baseball (LJN, 1988)
This was actually a game from LJN that didn't suck! I remember my Dad got this game for us the summer of '88 along with the NES MAX controller. I remember playing this game on cool summer evenings, with the windows open in our house and listening to the motorcycles drive by. I always played as the NY Mets and to this day I am still trying to top 100 runs in a single game!
Gyromite (Nintendo, 1986)
This was the first ever Nintendo game I played. What a crazy introduction to the world of 8-bit video games! We played the game with R.O.B. the robot initially as we were sucked in by the novelty of the toy, but over time we got bored watching how slow he would react. You would walk up to either a red or blue colored pillar and R.O.B. would recognize this, he would grab a spinning top off the spinner, and slowly turn towards another controller that had a blue or red button. Once the button was pushed by R.O.B. dropping the top on it, the pillar would move. Eventually it evolved to either us being able to push the buttons with our toes while controlling the character on screen or we would play co-op style which led to many unfortunate and deliberate squashings of our character.
Well, there you have it! Some of my fond memories from the early days of gaming. Of course there are a million more like playing Ice Climber and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or that time I left an ice pop on top of our NES and it melted (I can never forget the look on my Dad's face as he took the thing apart and tried to clean it at the dining room table in the dark), but those can wait for another time. Let me know about some of your favorite NES games or memories in the comments below and always remember when your playing Nintendo, you're playing with POWER!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Comic Book Pick 7/29/20

This week the comic book I am most excited to read is...
(W) Tom Taylor (A/CA) Bruno Redondo 
Annnnd he's out! With a pardon in his pocket, Deadshot walks away from the Suicide Squad in hopes of reuniting with his daughter, Zoe, and making things right at last. But you can't outrun your past when it's still looking to kill you, and their family reunion quickly takes a turn for the deadly. To whom can Deadshot turn when he's left behind everyone who once had his back? 
SRP: $3.99
Synopsis Provided By: 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Throwback Jam of the Week: 7/27/20

Throw on your fatigues, and head to your submarines as we take you back to the 90s! Without further ado, here is the 20 Years Before 2000 THROWBACK JAM OF THE WEEK!
Artist: The Fugees
Song: Ready or Not
Album: The Score (1996)
Peak Billboard Hot 100 Position: N/A
Bonus Fun Fact: This song almost lead to a lawsuit by popular New Age artist Enya as the Fugees sampled part of her song "Boadicea" for "Ready or Not" without her permission!

Friday, July 24, 2020

Online Pick-(me)-ups!

Since this whole Corona Virus mess has hit our great country, myself and my family have been going out less and less. Most of the times it's just for grocery shopping. So in addition to being bored, I have had my regular urges to continue building my collections. Online buying can be addicting and sometimes I went a little overboard. Below are some of the most recent purchases I have made and I would like to share these with you, RIGHT NOW!
I did make a special trip to Wal-Mart so I could see if they had any of The Real Ghosbusters toy re-issues and I lucked out! I found the last two figures on the shelf which happened to be the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and my favorite RGB figure of all time, Slimer aka Green Ghost. I bought the carded E.T. figure and Bow from She-Ra at an online store. I picked up E.T. because he was cheap and Bow because I had always wanted one since this figure was released in the 80s. Did it bother anyone else back in the day that the Bow figure does not include his kick-ass mustache that was featured in the Princess of Power cartoon?
I spent hours looking through these magazines as a kid. My preferred publication of choice was either Tuff Stuff or Beckett, but these two mags from 1990 (Topps) & 1991 (Superstar & Rookie Special) still brought back so many memories of looking up card prices, reading about the "HOT" players and prospects and drooling over the Top 10 cards of the month. I bought these because I am a huge Bo Jackson fan and did not have either of them in my current collection, but the cool thing was that each of these magazines still had their bonus cards intact, but as is my luck there were no Bo Jacksons included. Still pretty AWESOME though!
Sports Cards
Speaking of cards, I discovered a website that was selling every card in their inventory for only 10 cents a piece! I spent around $30 on cards to add to my favorite team collections. Since I am a Jersey boy, these teams include the Mets, Jets, Nets and Devils. They also had some pretty cool non-sport cards, so I bought a few TMNT items and the above included DC Holograms. Beside collecting my favorite players and teams, I love finding oddball cards like the "Burger King All-Pro" set featuring Ron Darling & Steve Garvey! I wonder if BK will still honor that free Whopper coupon?
Men In Black Memorabilia Card
I included this card separately since it was from a different seller. I had been keeping my eye on these cards on ebay for a long time now and finally decided to pick one up. The price was right at $5 and now I can add this relic to my collection. Love the MIB movies and Will Smith aka The Fresh Prince is one of my all-time favorite rappers. Glad I finally got this authentic piece of an MIB agent suit for a fair price, around $5!
A few sites that I shop for comics at were running specials of 40% to 50% off all back issue orders. So, I pulled out my comic wish list and went to work. I like to collect books that have sentimental value to me or are of 80s & 90s properties that I enjoy. So when I was able to pick up the first issue of The Real Ghostbusters for $1.75 and add more books to my Marvel STAR collection, it was a no brainer (plus the wife gave me permission). Overall I knocked a bunch of books off my spreadsheet and I am one happy man!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Comic Book Pick 7/22/20

This week the comic book I am most excited to read is...
(W) Gary Carlson (A/CA) Frank Fosco 
Gary Carlson and Frank Fosco's epic run on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gets a proper ending after twenty-one years! The truth behind Lady Shredder is revealed! What does this mean for the Turtles? What does it mean for Karai?! Maybe Donatello has some answers in this penultimate issue of TMNT: Urban Legends!  
SRP: $3.99
Synopsis Provided By: 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Throwback Jam of the Week: 7/20/20

Throw on your bright white kicks, and head to the United Kingdom as we take you back to the 90s! Without further ado, here is the 20 Years Before 2000 THROWBACK JAM OF THE WEEK!
Artist: Mark Morrison
Song: Return of the Mack
Album: Return of the Mack (1996)
Peak Billboard Hot 100 Position: 2
Bonus Fun Fact: This song was not released in the US until 1997. In 2017 Burger King used this song in a marketing campaign for their new Mac 'n' Cheetos!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Free Comic Book Summer 2020!

This year due to COVID-19 Free Comic Book Day has evolved to FREE COMIC BOOK SUMMER! From July 15th through September 9th you can go to your local comic shop and choose from a variety of great comics from publishers like Marvel, DC, IDW, Darkhorse and more! If you want more info or need to know what shops are participating, check out the Free Comic Book Day website. Every year I take my kids out and make this day an event, unfortunately that is not happening this year, but hopefully it's something we can look forward to in 2021. Here are my top five comics for the 2020 FCBS:

FCBD 2020 X-MEN #1
FCBD is headlined by a brand new X-Men story by Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz that will lead into a game-changing summer for all of X!  Plus: a secret second story foreshadowing an upcoming epic tale by Tom Taylor and Iban Coello. Stay tuned in the months to come for exciting announcements about Marvel's Gold title on!
Marvel's Silver-level FCBD title provides two exciting tales connected to the coming major storylines in Venom, Amazing Spider-Man and Black Cat from top creators Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Jed MacKay, Patrick Gleason and more!
The Tick is back for his 11th Free Comic Book Day featuring an all-new story by Jeff McClelland and Ian Nichols! The Tick has always been one of the most popular FCBD comics. This year's exciting tale is easily summarized: THE TICK IS POSSESSED BY AN ALIEN PARASITE! How will Arthur, Caped Cod and the other heroes rescue their friend when his Tickly powers are controlled by a CREATURE FROM BEYOND THIS EARTH!?! Don't miss out on this exciting new chapter of one of the longest running independent comic books. SPOOOOOON!
Join Usagi on an exciting adventure as he meets his most unusual traveling companion yet... Chibi Usagi! The two worlds of Usagi Yojimbo meld for a hilarious story that's perfect for kids and long-time fans of Usagi alike!
A new era of My Little Pony begins! Join Twilight Sparkle and friends as they adjust to new responsibilities, new friendships and new dangers! This is where IDW's "Season 10" of My Little Pony comics begins, officially picking up where the recently concluded and long-running My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television finale leaves off!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Comic Book Pick 7/15/20

This week the comic book I am most excited to read is...
Savage Dragon #250
(W) Erik Larsen (A/CA) Erik Larsen 
ERIK LARSEN'S SAVAGE DRAGON HITS ISSUE 250! For 28 years, ERIK LARSEN has chronicled the lives and times of the Dragon and his extended family in one of comics' only series set in real time. This monumental oversized milestone issue is a sweeping culmination that sets the stage for the next phase of comics' most uncompromising series with its most shocking story yet! Forces have conspired against Malcolm Dragon and his family-but is this a turning point or...THE END?! Find out as SAVAGE DRAGON becomes the second original Image title to reach its 250th issue and begins the countdown to #300! 
SRP: $9.99
Synopsis Provided By: 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Throwback Jam of the Week: 7/13/20

Throw on your oversized baseball jersey, and head Uptown as we take you back to the 90s! Without further ado, here is the 20 Years Before 2000 THROWBACK JAM OF THE WEEK!
Artist: Mary J. Blige
Song: Real Love
Album: What's The 411? (1992)
Peak Billboard Hot 100 Position: 7
Bonus Fun Fact: This song was the second single off of Mary's debut album "What's The 411" and topped the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 1992. The remix features a verse from the Notorious B.I.G.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Game Player's Magazine: December 1989

Back in the day, before the fancy interweb was a common household appliance, we had to get our video game tips from our friends on the schoolyard. Most of the time these so called "tips" were complete BS. If you really wanted to take your game to the next level you had to pony up some scratch and purchase a magazine like Nintendo Power, Game Pro and even to a lesser extent Game Player's Magazine. I picked up the issue above all the way back in the golden ages of December 1989. Obviously, the main reason I grabbed this specific magazine was to get tips on how to beat one of the hottest games at the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This issue did not dissapoint! It gave us 10 whole pages of coverage on this blockbuster game that I am about to share with you....NOW!

Hopefully this extensive guide gave you the tips and tricks you needed to defeat The Shredder and save your beloved sensei, Master Splinter! I know it didn't help me much, the farthest I ever got was to the giant Mouser! Anyway, Game Player's Magazine didn't just cover games, but it gave us an in depth look at how some of Hollywood's biggest stars enjoy their games.
Wow! That's some great info about Married With Children star David Faustino! Who knew his favorite game was Double Dragon and his biggest thrill as an actor was being on the cover of TV Guide? What's that you say? You want more tips? Game Player's Magazine has your questions answered!
Great stuff! Even though the game content is exquisite, I can't in good conscience finish this post without showing off some of those classic advertisements!

I could do a whole month of posts on the ads! So chock full of greatness! Thank you for going on this journey with me through a 30 year old magazine about retro video games. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! What was your favorite gaming magazine from back in the day/ Let me know in the comments below!