Archive for the Forgotten Category

Nerdy Monday 14: “The Secret World of Alex Mack”– WHAAAAAT?

Posted in 1990's, Forgotten, Holidays, Nerdy Monday, Retro, T.V. shows, Ukrainian Women on January 10, 2011 by Divide By Zero

First of all, I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season!  Mine was fantastic.. I’m fatter, I’m tired-er, and I’m happier.  And it’s time to OFFICIALLY take my blog articles off hiatus.  So here I am.. The Jester, is back in the house everyone.

Secondly, I’d like to thank everyone for visiting my blog even through the hiatus.  December was by fay my best month ever!  I love getting the hits, and I hope everyone enjoys what I write, I try to make it fun, and speaking of which, let’s get started on…

NERDY MONDAY FOURTEEN, BABY!!!1  This week we’re talking about…

How awesome was this show?!  Wait a second, before I ask that, do you even remember it?

It was THE SHOW to be watching between 1994 & 1998.  It replaced “Clarissa Explains it All” in the SNICK line-up.  Remember SNICK?  Man, what I wouldn’t give to get back to that time.. it was so much simpler.

Anyways, Alexandra “Alex” Mack was “an ordinary teenager, until an accident changed her life” so says the intro.  If you remember this show, you remember that intro.  A truck crashes, and spills a top-secret chemical called “GC-161” all over Alex.

I guess it wasn’t a coincidence that Alex’s father, George, works for the chemical company, or as it’s called in the show “The Plant” that produced GC-161.

I don't even think he knows he's on a show.


It’s also important to note here that the guy that plays George Mack has a pretty unimpressive acting resume.  BUT, before that sinks in, I want to say that at least he has an acting resume.  Much more than many, many people have.  But that’s the weird thing, I thought back then that he played an awesome dad.  And in doing research for this article, I came across a few episodes and watched them all the way through, he still played a great father figure, and a loving husband.  I think he did an outstanding job as one of the “background characters”.  –Oh come on, this was a kid’s show on Nickelodeon in the ’90’s, all parents were “background characters”.  I think that Mr. Blakely was a very underrated actor, and if he were given the opportunity, would have been a pretty big star.

Moving back to the show itself though, The Plant, was owned by one Danielle Atron.

I didn't feel like looking to hard for a picture of her character.

The mythical Paradise Valley is where all of this takes place, and Ms. Atron is so rich that her name is all over it.  She’s another background character that plays the antagonist of the whole plot-line.  She owns The Plant, she knows “some kid” was affected in the accident, and moves her life goal towards finding “said kid”.  That’s about it for her.  Ms. Atron has tons of money, and blows it all on trying to find Alex Mack, which I can only assume lives less than 30 minutes away from her Plant — Oh come on.. Alex’s dad commutes back and forth from there every day!

This is a family friendly show though, so let’s keep our feet on the ground, shall we…

Danielle Atron hires a “hitman”, or should I say henchman, named “Vince”, the maniacal head of security at the plant.  Vince is supposed to be a contract killer, but he is terrible at it.  In one of the episodes I recently watched (which was one of the ones towards the end of the entire series) Vince comes close to catching Alex.  And the dialogue between him and Ms. Atron go a little something like this:

Ms. Atron: ..and Vince, when you find the child.. this time

Vince:  I can collect our agreed upon price?

MA:  Yes Vince, seven figures, like I promised.

V:  Right away Ms. Atron.

Really?  They agreed years ago on a seven digit price for Alex?  Now realistically, a seven figure price tag is anywhere between $1,000,000 and $9,999,999.  but even more realistically, this was a kids show, so it was probably just a cool, even million.

Which begs the question.. if Vince was supposed to be some cold-hearted, million-dollar-contract collecting evil-doer… how in the name of all that’s pure and sacred in this world, did the show go on for 4 freakin’ years?  Did anyone see that movie “Smokin’Aces”?!  If Ms. Atron hired one of THOSE guys… this show would have been just that.  A show.  ONE show.  Probably only one of those half-shows, like robot chicken, or aqua teen hunger force.

All of that aside, it was fun growing up watching this on T.V.  Alex had wonderful parents, an awesome (and awesomely intelligent) sister who helps her through the whole ordeal.  Her best friend is awesome.  Please forgive me though, both of these characters are kind of minor to the think I want to talk most about.

Ladies & Gentlemen... (mostly gentlemen)...

How hott was she?  During the ’90’s, the show “Alex Mack” was categorized as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Teen Drama, and Comedy. Also during that time, the girl who played Alex Mack herself, was categorized as “one of America’s favorite 15 year olds”, and “the proverbial ‘girl next door'”.  And for good reason!  I don’t know if when she got drenched in GC-161 that one of her powers were to make tween boys fall in love with her, but it certainly happened.  Every guy I knew had a crush on her.

Larisa Romanovna Oleynik:

Was her father Ukrainian for naming her that, or something?  Yes, he was.  Therefore she has a Slavic sounding name.  Now, before you go all xenophobic on me, let’s remember some of the other extremely attractive Eastern European (mostly Ukrainian) woman that have caught our eye as of late…

First off there’s Yana Klochkova, the Ukrainian swimmer who won 5 Olympic medals during her career, 4 being golden in color.  Not to mention, she looked like this:

She's a swimmer. Remember when I told you that?

Next on our list is Olga Kurylenko.  A Ukrainian actress who got her big break in Quantum of Solace.  And seriously,  why is she so attractive?

Maybe it's a little because she was a Bond girl.

Then of course we have Anna Kurnikova…

Never won a single tournament, but everyone knows her name.

Also, who can forget about our favorite character in the Resident Evil movie franchise, Alice?  Also known as Milla Jovovich.

To be fair though, not too many women holding those guns wouldn't be sexy.

There’s also Daria Webowy.  Never heard of her?  She’s been on the Italian cover of Vogue a couple of times, and was the face of Prada’s Fall/Winter line.  And this is why…

She makes a great "Lady in Red".

And last but not least, we have the underrated Mila Kunis.  Some remember her from That 70’s Show, some [younger people] know her from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but mostly people know her from voicing ‘Meg” on Family Guy.  Anyways, here she is…

Totally the opposite of Meg, in real life.

Anyways, that’s enough of that tangent.

Larisa Oleynik, or as her family calls her “Rissy”, went on to play in a few different movies, most notably 10 Things I hate About You, alongside Heath Ledger… one of my favorite actors of all time (for the Joker thing, not the Brokeback thing).  She also played in The Adventures of Pete & Pete, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Boy Meets World, and Malcom in the Middle. Quite an acting resume she acquired before she was able to legally drink a beer.  Right?

Any way you slice it, there were a lot of good moments in the show, and we watched every episode with joy.  It was always great, and I’m pretty sure I can speak for all of the guys my age when I say…. I miss SNICK, and Alex Mack.

*All Images are property of their respective owners, and may be subject to copyright laws.  All images obtained through Google Image Search.”


Top 10 Tuesdays: Thanksgiving Week Special!

Posted in 1980's, 1990's, Alcohol Involved, Cinemassacre/James Rolfe, Forgotten, Halo, Modern, N64, NES, PS2, Retro, Video Game, XBox, Zombies Ate My Neighbors on November 23, 2010 by Divide By Zero

Thanksgiving is here again.  A lot of the “Early Birds” are doing Christmas shopping now, or are anxious to stay up for 36 hours straight and hit all the sales on Black Friday.  This week, families are relocating to other parts of the country for days on end.  Most of us are going to be engrossed in football, and gorging themselves on food until they are legally comatose.  It’s all good times.

In between my gravy-induced black outs, I like to hit up some video games.  Especially if we have little kids, cousins and such, at the house, I like to get them involved.  As many kids as possible.  The more the merrier.  So here are my…

Top 10 Video Games to Play… During Thanksgiving Week.

#10.  Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers.  (NES)

This is an easy to play, fun, nostalgic game.  The game play is smooth, and it’s pretty easy to do well throughout the entire game.  It’s last on the list only because it’s a 2 player game.  Two players only?  We live in a world where we can play with anyone from anywhere in the world!  Yes, and that’s all well and good, but Thanksgiving is a time for family.  No matter how weird they are, it’s always better to spend time with the family than with strangers who have an internet connection.  Suck it up.

#9.  Starfox 64. (N64)

This is an oldie but a goodie.  It helped define the Nintendo 64, as much as the original Starfox helped shape the SNES.  It was an instant classic.

Pictured: The good old days.

This is so low on the list, because this one is only a one player game.  I’m only taking into account the campaign mode of the games for this list.  Yes you can compete against each other in Starfox 64, but when you’re with the family you want to move towards a common goal, rather than destroy each other (which is also fun too).  The good thing about this game is that even if you haven’t played it in 10 years, you can beat it in under an hour.  Also, even the younger kids will remember this game.  Most of them have probably played it.  It’s easily substituted so you can hand off your controller smoothly and get to the kitchen before the last turkey leg is gone.

#8.  Duck Hunt. (NES)


If you have the means, this is totally worth it.  This is also only a 2 player game.  THAT’S RIGHT!  Two players, baby!  Did you know that?  If you plug a regular NES controller into the 2nd port, the second player can control the Ducks!  How’s that for a family get together for Thanksgiving?  “You be a duck, and I will shoot you”.  It doesn’t get any better.  This game is also easily substitutable, and it gives an opportunity for the older kids to teach the younger kids what they played when they were growing up.

#8.  Zombies Ate My Neighbors.  (SNES/Genesis)

I did a whole write up on this game.  So I’m kind of biased towards it.  It’s a classic, and it’s perfect for right around Thanksgiving.  All the kids are getting off of their Halloween buzz, and they like seeing all the monsters in one of the games they’re playing.  You can easily learn to play this game in a matter of seconds which makes controller hand-offs really easy.  It’s still two player, but you can let kids play, or if you are surrpunded by adults, you can make a drinking game out of it.

#7.  Marvel Vs. Capcom.  (Dreamcast)

This game made the list because there is something memorable for each age group.  There are easily recognizable characters.  The fights are quick, and the game is addicting.  All the ingredients you need for a room full of people.  I think this is only a 2 player game, but it’s a button-masher and Marvel Vs. Capcom 1 & 2 are pretty much the same game.  This is good if you have about 10 people in a room and they all want to play something.

#6.  Powerstone. (Dreamcast)

This game has all the same qualities you find in Marvel Vs. Capcom, but it’s a 4 player game, and it’s even easier to learn.  There is so much beginner’s luck involved with playing this game, it’s un-comprehend-able.  This is truly one you have to just check out.  And come on, get a nice Dreamcast for about $20, and all the games for free?  This is a game that is both retro and modern.  You can’t beat that.

#5.  Halo. (XBox)

Pictured: The most epic, of the epic.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty biased about this game.  If I were being honest to myself, this game would make number 1 every week on any top 10 list I’ve ever done, or any I will ever do.  The build up of this game when it was new and “all the rage”, the excitement that came with it, was amazing.  For you younger kids, you had to be there.  It was the only reason I bought an XBox, originally.  But it’s great, like I said, if you have the means you can have up to 16 players (if you have 4 tv’s lying around, and a hub… you’re in good shape.  Now, if only I had 15 friends that wanted to hang around me long enough to get through a round.  It’s also weird, the thing about halo, and any alien game all the way back to space invaders are categorized as favorites among people with Xenophobia; the fear of foreigners.  What a perfect game to play while celebrating the British taking a country away from the natives, and calling it their own — creating a new nation/nationality with it?  This is one that everyone will enjoy.  It takes a while to pick up the controls, but it’s well worth it.  And there’s never really a bad time to play it.  Thanksgiving or not, pick up a copy of this, and it’s game on, baby!

#4.  007 Goldeneye.  (N64)

Remember when Pierce Brosnan was on top of the world?

Who can say ‘no’ to this?  Everyone loves 007!  Or at least everyone knows about 007.  It’s great for the kids to play, as the N64 is within their grasp, it’ll bring the 20/30-somethings back to the past, and it will give the older people in the room something to watch.  This game I think helped make the N64 what it was.  It was a yard stick for all 007 games that followed it.  It’s up to 4 players, so it’s great for getting out frustration with your little nephews, or cousins.  Shoot’em in the face!  That’ll show them to take the last of the stuffing.

#3.  Rockband.  (XBox 360)

Making tweens think they can start a band, since its release date.

You knew this game was going to make the list.  I haven’t been to a party that didn’t have this all set up since it came out.  Personally, I hate it, but I have it at my house.  Just in case a party breaks out, it’s there, in a box, in the closet.  This game, everyone knows how to play, but no one is good at.  People pick up the mic, and they can’t sing.  The quiet guy in the corner can play the guitar on expert and get 99% or better on every song, but show him a real guitar and he scratches his head.  The drums are okay, because it’s kind of similar to the real thing.  It’ll make for some good stories later.  Either way, play it if you’re into it, if you’re not, skip ahead to….

#2.  Mario Kart 64.  (You guessed it: N64)

Need I say more?  4 players of competitive Thanksgiving-y goodness.  Everyone loves it, everyone can play it, and everyone will have a good time.  The only thing you have to worry about is gravy on your controllers.  Gross.

#1, and the winner this week.  Guitar Hero 1 or 3: Legends of Rock.  (PS2)

Awesome classic, I like this game.  It takes a while to get used to, but it’s a great way to bond and everyone will try it at least once.  Later on you can say to your uncle Silas: “Whoa dude, you totally melted face on that solo.”  Because I mean, who gets to say that to their uncle?  And more importantly, who has an uncle named “Silas”?  Your family is weird.  It’s also got a little retro mixed in, because of the songs, but it’s more modern than anything.  And I’ve been told if you stare at the screen for long enough, you get some really trippy visual effects that are always good in a party-like setting.

There you have it.  My top 10 best games to play for Thanksgiving.  Pick one and try it out.  Or don’t.  I already got your page view, so if you don’t like my advice, come back next week.  Another list, another 10, another category.

I’ll see you by the fridge, I’ll be the one with a guitar hero guitar strapped to my back.

The Jester. 

*All pictures are property of their respective owners, and may be subject to copyright laws.  Images obtained through Google Image Search.*

Nerdy Monday 9: Zombies Ate My Neighbors!

Posted in Forgotten, Retro, Video Game, Zombies Ate My Neighbors on November 15, 2010 by Divide By Zero

This game is truly a classic.  Well, for me it is.. I don’t know how many people had it back in the early ’90s, but it should be more well known than it is, it’s very underrated.  You get to save all of your neighbors in 50+ levels of different martians, werewolves, Frankenstein monsters, snakeoids, clones, giant babies, and of course zombies.  The original retail price for this game I think was $39.99, at the very most.  Now the very good specimens go for $69.99.  It’s one of the games that, like the Mario, Zelda, and Sonic franchises, have actually appreciated with age.  It’s also made it on the Top 10 Zombie Game list, and rang in at Number 8.  Not bad for a Non-Star-Wars game created by Lucasarts, created by George Lucas.  Weird how those things work out, right?

This is a Snakeoid... and a HUGE pain in the butt to kill.

Remember the commercial for it?  Sure you do…

How cool was that?  I remember the stigma that went with the game back then.  Through Nintendo Power, or something I heard about how Zombies Ate My Neighbors was going to be a really gory game with lots of blood and guts, and all kinds of other things.  Somebody up in the chain of command had them change it last minute to please younger kids, expanding the number of people that would possibly buy the game.  All they did was render the “blood” from a red liquid to a purple gassy cloud kind of thing, and took all the guts out.  For instance, when you kill one of the Fish Men, they turn into a bunch of fish and flop around for a second until you go off screen.

It’s things like that, that turn this supposedly “horror-genre” game into a goofball style, lighthearted, comedy that gives off a sit-com like, Halloween episode  feeling.  Which makes it all the more fantastic to play.  It was pretty much exactly the same on both systems of the day (SNES & Genesis).  I preferred the SNES version back when the game was new.  That was only because I didn’t have an SNES or Genesis until Christmas of that year, so I had to go to my cousin’s house to play Zombies Ate My Neighbors with him, on HIS SNES.  It was awesome, I went over there every other day, we always had to start on level one and work our way through, and no matter how many times we played it, it never got boring, tired, or old!  Even to this day I play through all of the levels (I have it on Sega Genesis now), and sometimes I even use the Game Genie on it, just so that I can start on the level I left off at.  It’s so great to be able to go through a game about 20 years later and still find it just as — if not more entertaining now.  When my brother comes home on leave, we get a couple of levels in, when the students I tutor at my home are done with learning, we unwind with some ZAMN.  It’s a great overall game that is hard to match.

4 friggin Zombies? Call of Duty's got NOTHIN!!

The soundtrack is a tough act to follow, and would be great to have a CD of and play in the background of a Halloween party.  The levels are all very simple when you first try and go through, but there are all kinds of secrets, hidden weapons, ways to get points (the points don’t really matter anyways), or you hang around after every level and just kill zombies.

I love the weapon choices you get in this game.  Along with rendering the blood a different color, they had to change the weapons.  So instead of real guns and knives, you get squirt guns (that shoot one drop of water at a time), soda cans, popsicles (for killing the blobs!), fire extinguishers, silverware (for throwing at werewolves!) and many, many other weapons that make the game entertaining multiplied by entertaining.  It’s entertaining squared!

Along with the weapons, you also find items that you can use to get rid of mummies, the little axe-wielding Chuckie-dolls, or whatever those things are.  There are Pandora’s boxes, decoy blow-up clowns, health packs, sacred relics, running shoes for going faster, invincibility potions, and my favorite.. Monster Potions.  I don’t remember if it was Official (out of the instruction manual) or anything, but my cousin and I would call the Monster “Big George”.  And from there, we called the potion “The Big George Potion.  It was great.

The purple thing is an artists rendition of Big George.

This is a great game that should be cherished.  I’m still on the fence about whether or not it should be remade.  I have mixed feelings about it.  When some of the classics that are near and dear to most of us get rebooted, the charm they originally had doesn’t get translated into the new version.  What I like most about ZAMN is how simple it is.  You’re a dude named Zeke (Or a chick named Julie) running around with a squirt gun, keeping your neighbors in line.  I love the fact that the creators decided to make it more kid friendly… even back then when I considered myself an “older kid” I loved it.  Now I’m an-even-older-than-that kid, and I still love it.  If you’re running around at the flea markets, or yard sales, trying to buy back all the games you grew up with, whether you’ve played this game or not, you need to check it out.  eBay has them for around $20.. but trust me, it’s well worth the money.

Can't go wrong.

**All images are property of their respective owners and may be subject to copyright laws.  Obtained through simple Google Image Search.**

Nerdy Monday 6: Ecco the Dolphin

Posted in 1980's, Ecco The Dolphin, Forgotten, Modern, Retro, Video Game on October 11, 2010 by Divide By Zero

In a world filled with first person shooters, World of Warcraft, Mario making yet another comeback on the Nintendo Wii, RPG’s, and character mission games, there aren’t any puzzle games anymore.  If you look back on the great NES/SNES/Sega games of the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s, there were a lot of games that required you to solve puzzles in order to advance in the levels of the game.  Zelda is the prime example I think of.  Everyone remembers it, it was (I think) the only officially licensed game (that was popular) that came in a golden cartridge.  With the many different worlds, enemies, screens, weapons, and all the other things involved with Zelda, it took time to play.  Nowadays, the die hard fans can beat that 8-bit masterpiece in a matter of an hour or so.  But when we were all going through the levels the very first (or even the second or third) time around, it was puzzling.  The different moves you made in certain levels played a factor in other levels.  There were sequences you had to perform certain tasks in, and I wrote a lot of them down in the “notes” section of the instruction manual I had for the game.  Those kinds of games were great.  I certainly don’t think my parents thought so at the time, but those skill sets carried over into my studies.  Especially in middle or high school when I started getting into more complicated mathematics.  I already had sharpened my problem solving skills to the point of being deadly, and deadly accurate with them.

Which brings me to a cult classic:  Ecco the Dolphin: the Tides of Time.  Yes, I owned this gem growing up.  I recently repurchased it at “Trader’s Village” in Kingsport.  I got it for $2.  If you’re looking for retro video games, go to Trader’s Village, there’s a man named “Tony”, he’ll have just about everything you’d want.  Tell him I sent you.  Anyways, this past week, between interviewing Mrs. Bethany Wilson for the write up on The Blowfish Emporium, lining up an interview for this coming Friday, and typing up the next section of my book, along with looking for a steady job, I re-played, and re-beat The Tides of Time.  It was great.  I had to cheat once or twice, but I didn’t break out my game-genie.  For the most part, I sat down and played and played until I figured out how to get through each level.  20 years after the original release, it was still challenging, frustrating, and aggravating, all in a good way of course.  It’s funny because my buddies and I get together and play these old games.  Big Rod, a friend of mine is all serious about first person shooters, and he and I had a hard time playing Paperboy 2 on SNES one time.  My brother A1C Jeremy Dotson is the same type of gamer as Big Rod, and plays COD 13 or something on 360 Live, but can’t get a handle on playing these older games.  It just goes to show you that no matter how good of a gamer you are, playing ehse old games that came out in the video game industry’s infancy will challenge the crap out of you!

Look at him, smirking. He knows he has your ass.

Everything I remember about this game is still there.  The controls are simple and effective, the gameplay seems cut-and-dry-enough, and there are numerous enemies, warp levels, and other dolphins to talk (“sing”) to, to keep you amused for a while.  If you’re lucky enough to still own this game, keep it.  It is a treasure work saving shelf space for.  If you can play it on an emulator or something, do it because you will be thoroughly satisfied.

Each one of the levels teaches you a new skill.  I think it’s the first 6 or 7 levels that teach you all of the possible capabilities that Ecco can do.  After that, you have to remember to use all of them in the more difficult levels.  And if you get caught, do what I did.. go to youtube and look up level walk-throughs for the Tides of Time.  That in and of itself is amazing.  I wish I had youtube back in 1993, it would have saved a lot of controllers from being turned into frisbees, or getting stomped on, thrown in the freezer, off the back deck, or up into a tree.  yeah, my parents were not happy about that any time it happened.

As an added bonus, I also went through and beat Ecco the dolphin: Defender of the Future for you guys on Sega Dreamcast.  It was a little different.  As opposed to the Tides of Time, which is a sequal but can serve as a stand alone game, Defender of the Future took it one step further.  It was a little more difficult getting used to all of the controls.  That’s to be expected though on any Dreamcast game.  That system was not out for very long, not many people had it, and not a lot of people remember the controllers like they do Sega genesis, N64, or playstation.  Once you get past that though, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to get everything down pat.  Playing Defender of the Future (DoF) was more fun to me than Tides of Time (ToT).  I think it may have just been me, but I think Ecco is self aware.  He looks happier to see me in DoF.

We're gonna rock the shit out of this one, boys!

It’s almost as if the dolphin himself knows this will be a better game.  Granted the graphics were better, because it came out on a “Next-Gen” system with a 128K byte processor.  I loved the Dreamcast.  I was one of the first people ever to have Soulcalibur, still have it, and am proud of it.  DoF also brought into the next generation a lot of the puzzles that seemed to fade away with the cartridge consoles.  With DoF, it seemed like you had to remember all of the “strategies” and abilities from the first Ecco, and ToT.  AND it added new manuvers and things of its own.  The levels were longer, and there were more of them.  After beating ToT just a few days ago, I feel like I could beat it in an hour and a half if I really tried and timed myself (and if I cared).  DoF though, you get so frustrated and confused you have no choice but to save it to your handy-dandy VMU, and walk the hell away from it for a little while.  You have to set time aside from it to go think about other things.  And in some cases, figuring out the meaning of life would be less mentally straining than that game.  Keep in mind I had never played it before this past week, so it was all new to me.  But once you beat the entire game, and you see Ecco swimming and he’s all happy, and tells you congratulations, it makes it all worth it.

Overall, both of these games get 8/10 difficulty, 10/10 nostalgia, and 9/10 overall game play.  Not bad for a bloodthirsty, smart-as-hell hunter who catches fish like this.  Play these games.  you can get a Dreamcast at flea markets all around the Tri-Cities for $20.  That’s how much I paid for mine, and Tony threw in about 5 games, 3 controllers, 5 VMUs, a RumblePak, and a controller cable extender.  There are websites out there that let you download Dreamcast games for free, or $6 a month.  Either way DoF is the way to go.  Oh and by the way, downloading/burning/copying Dreamcast games is legal since no one is making money off of the rights to the games anymore.  It’s delicious.  DoF was the first game I downloaded and burned for my Dreamcast, and I have close to the entire Dreamcast library.  You can youtube how to burn the games, they’d explain it better than I ever could.  I highly recommend the Ecco franchise to anyone.  Maybe you played them all growing up, and want a little nostalgia in your life (like me), or maybe they’re just new to you and you want to see what the older Sega games are all about.  Ecco may not be the best thing that Sega ever developed, but it’s up there.  It’s definitely one of my favorites.

I just pooped a little bit.

See you at the flea market, and happy gaming!

The Jester.

*All images are the property of their respective owners and may be subject to copyright laws.*

Nerdy Monday: Where’s Duke?

Posted in Duke Nukem, Forgotten, Retro, Video Game on September 12, 2010 by Divide By Zero

Being a collector of retro video games, I like acquiring games that I played while growing up.  I can’t get more excited when I find a good copy of Castlevania at the flea market, or a copy of Atari’s “Defender” for $2 at an Antique Shop downtown (which really happened!).  But nothing gives me the kind of satisfaction that finding a game that I’ve already put hours upon hours into, does.  The Duke Nukem franchise is a good example of this.  That’s right, after hundreds of hours of long, hard, and complicated research, I am writing a Duke Nukem tribute.  By “hundreds” I mean like 5.  And by “long, hard, and complicated research”, I mean sitting on the couch playing video games.

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Duke Nukem was truly a one of a kind First Person Shooter.  I don’t know all of the buzz about Duke on the internet these days, but I was there when it first gained popularity.  It was the bench mark for pretty much every first person shooter to come out after 1993, like Doom. Everyone thinks that doom was the first real deal when it came to first person shooters.  Doom wasn’t on the market until 1993.  Duke Nukem made his first appearance in MS-DOS in 1991.  I always thought it was funny that parents wouldn’t let their kids play, let alone even buy them a copy of Doom.  Oh wait, yeah I do.  Duke Nukem battled aliens that came down to earth for one reason or another.  In Doom, you battled supernatural forces that supposedly burst through the Gates of Hell itself to come take over the earth.   Yeah, there were a lot of the demonic overtones involved with Doom.  Taking all of that into account, parents would then give their children an “acceptable substitute” to get them to shut-up about Doom, which usually meant they came home with Duke Nukem.  Little did the parents know (and I’ll be darned if any of us kids told them) that they were pretty much the same game.  In some cases, Duke Nukem was even worse than Doom, not satanic or anything, but characteristically speaking.  Allow me to explain:

In the Doom franchise, you played as a nameless Space Marine working for the United Aerospace Corp. (the UAC).  Your job as a player is to walk him through all the levels collecting different weapons, finding secret passageways, keeping your health up, don’t forget to look for some ammo!, and killing all kinds of alien enemies like the zombieman, shotgun guy, imp, demon, spectre, cacodemon, lost soul, baron of hell, cyberdemon, spiderdemon, the hell knight, mancubus, arachnatron, arch-vile, and wolfenstein.

All they're missing is clowns.

All they're missing is clowns.

I understand why parents wouldn’t want their kids playing this game.  It was a little too graphic for its time.  It was released in 1993 and has sparked controversy ever since.  Yes it’s fun to play games like this, and it has been scientifically proven to lower stress by playing video games.  But think about this game in the right time frame.  It was 1993/1994, I was 9.  Kids my age wanted this game.  Kids my age almost never got this game from their parents.  I myself, ended up not owning this game until I was 19 and in college.  But I had played it on and off for 10 years before that.

Duke Nukem on the other hand.  What can I say about him that hasn’t already been said?  He is the epitome of hardcore, that showed up on the video game scene to “kick @$$ and chew bubble gum.  And he’s all out of gum!”  Duke brought to his video games (which first debuted 2 years BEFORE doom) a personality.  You weren’t some anonymous marine who didn’t talk.  You were Duke Freakin’ Nukem!  In the game, you could control Duke to pee in the urinals, tip strippers, and most important of all, you had catchphrases!  “But Del, what about the graphic enemies?  Weren’t they just as bad as Dooms?”  They were aliens, or some form thereof.  Were they as bad as Dooms?  I thought they were on the same playing field, just a little.. I don’t know, quirky, or original or something.  It just goes to show you though, that even the enemies in the Duke Nukem franchise gave personality to the game.  Doom is just Doom.  You either love it or you hate it.  Duke Nukem has a cult following.  Not a cult, like a castrating, rat-poison/kool-ade cocktail drinking cult.  But it has had influence all over the internet as more than a video game.  As almost a cultural phenomenon.  The enemies though, they must be horrible, what did I say they were again?

Mutated Pig-Cops? I knew it.

That’s right, mutated pig cops.  There were other enemies sure, but these were the most memorable.  They made appearances in a lot of the games throughout the franchise.  Duke had to save different cities throughout the U.S. from these guys.  Which is why you don’t see any of them running around today, thankfully.

Duke Nukem or Doom, can you tell the difference?

My favorite game, which I more recently snatched off of eBay for $6, is Duke Nukem: Zero Hour for the Nintendo 64.  It’s the last Duke Nukem game I remember playing for a long time, to the point of beating it, erasing the file, then beating it again.  It was classic Duke with a little twist.  The plot of the game involved aliens who traveled through time to kill Duke’s ancestors.  It was cool seeing Duke in new outfits instead of his standard red tee, black pants, and suspenders that looked like they were made out of tire treads.  It was also pretty cool seeing the historical accuracy (not perfect, but better than most video games of the ’90s); for instance in the Victorian Era level.  Duke transports to that time and winds up at a fresh murder scene in 1888 in London.  That’s right, a huge reference to Jack The Ripper.  This is the game parents handed over to their kids because “Doom was waaaaaaayyyy too violent.”  Also, towards the end of Zero Hour, Duke runs around New York City after an atomic attack.

So like I said, there were similar ideas there.  I’m not certain, but I’ve heard rumors that the software engineers in the 1990’s were notorious for quitting one company in order to start at another company for higher pay.  So it’s entirely possible that some of the Id software team (creators of Doom) got a better offer at 3D Realms (creators of Duke Nukem), brought some of their ideas over, and vice-versa.  Same concept, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Duke Nukem inspired the people at Id software during the creation of Doom, even if team-member-swapping didn’t happen at all.

I know it’s widely accepted that Doom was THE pioneer of first person shooters, but by the time Doom hit the market, Duke was releasing his sequel.  And since then, there have been at least 4 graphic novels released about Doom, along with a movie, comic books, and I vaguely remember there being some doom action figures in Spencer’s here and there.  What about Duke?  Where is he?

If you look around the internet for Duke Nukem, you’ll quickly read about the probably-never-going-to-see-the-light-of-day Duke Nukem Forever.  I really hope it happens, and would even go as far as saying that I would sign up on whatever list I had to, to reserve a copy.  Duke’s memory has been kept alive through internet memes and they even had Duke Nukem backpacks, action figures, and clothing lines.  They were expensive during the initial public offering, and are even more valuable today as collectors items.  I can only guesstimate that prices will go through the roof if Duke Nukem Forever hits the market in 2011 like it’s supposed to (still pretty doubtful though).

In any case, I’ll still get a lot of enjoyment hunting down copies of the N64, playstation, or even PC versions of the game.  I love anticipating game releases, but I don’t get deeply saddened if it never happens.  The classics are just as good, and in some cases even better than new releases, to me.  While I’m playing those old cartridge games though, all I can think about is where Duke is today.  There’s a lot of conspiracy theories out there, but I know the truth.  I had a phone conversation with him, a few months back (he’s a hard man to get a hold of).  Duke Nukem is relaxing in his own country (read: not his native country, but a country that he bought).  He’s surrounded with all of the beautiful pixelated women left alive after the video game franchise came to an end.  He spends most of his time staring at his bank statement.  Because god knows, 3D Realms brought him so much money that Duke’s bank stopped printing the amount on his statements because it took too much ink.  All it has on it under account balance is an “8” on its side.  He’s pretty excited about Trident Layers, as a bubble gum aficionado.  He also has a firing range, throne (both royal, and toilet), and vending machines made out of alien skeletons.  Every one of them represents a confirmed kill.  As you can see, Duke never has to make an appearance again.  He lined his pockets, the company’s pockets, and a lot of plagiarizers’ pockets with a metric crap-ton of dough.

Just so we're clear, I'm talking about this guy.

*All photos are subject to copyright, and are property of their respective owners (I obtained these images off of Google Image Search)*