Steambot Chronicles: Bumpy Trot and Rock

Finding out about games that I never knew existed is one of my favorite parts of the retro community as a whole. Libraries are extensive for many of my favorite consoles, but I’m still amazed upon finding something that seems perfect for me or just wonderfully unique. That second part is what had me keeping an eye out for the 2006 PS2 title, but buyer beware because sometimes there are reasons games remain in the shadows. Steambot Chronicleswas developed and published by Irem Softwear Engineering, though Atlus was brought on to take over publishing duties in North America. It’s a late in life title for the console, having come out a year earlier in Japan, but it seems many didn’t hear about it due to a combination of a small advertising campaign and less word of mouth at the time.

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NES Oddities and The NES System Compendium

I enjoy receiving new books on video games, and it’s a huge bonus when you have an article in one. This week I received The Nintendo Entertainment System Compendium and NES Oddities & The Homebrew Revolution, which are really long titles for two items that will share some insights on a lot of games most don’t know about for one of retro’s favored systems. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve written for Hagen’s Alley before in the Complete SNES Collector’s Book & Ultimate Guide and the SNES Compendium, but I’m not here to sell anyone on anything as much as to make everyone aware of some cool resources that are out there. The two I’m mentioning today are the latest in a series of titles, but are a little more off the beaten path than simple resource tools.

Both books are the product of successful Kickstarters and available on Amazon or anyone interested could find out more information about all of the projects on the Hagen’s Alley website. These aren’t slim either. Each one has a hefty weight and comes stacked with plenty of pages on good quality paper. NES Oddities covers a slew of different games from around the world, carts and digital releases alike, with many uncommon selections. The entries here give basic information along with an image of the cover art and a screenshot. The write-ups feel like they need to be longer and go more in depth , but there is enough there to spur some genuine interest. The games are organized well and bookmarked by artwork that solidifies the warm tone of the project and had me reminiscing on several older ads. The cover for this one is really attractive as well with some great original artwork that I think will catch several eyes.

The NES Compendium though is a different type of collection, having many articles, extensive interviews, and a little more about the homebrew community. There are also many more full color beautiful nostalgia-inducing pictures as well as some excellent backgrounds for the writing pieces. Reading through some of these is incredibly satisfying. They are all personal accounts, much like my piece on Mega Man 3, but several of them are incredibly interesting for insights, even into my own stuff. Both of these have an extreme personal touch. Hearing why someone else loves a game is even more inspirational at times. I find this one comforting in a way, because my eyes will never get tired of seeing some of these pictures and the memories I associate with them.

These are both good coffee table books, but I plan on going through each again a couple more times. I have this ever growing list of games to check out and these books are constantly making that longer as I keep finding interesting titles. They take up a good bit of space on the shelf, but worth it, and it is nice to have a short reference guide for homebrew games if I need it. There is something cool about checking these out again when I can’t actually play games for whatever reason. I’ll show these off like the others, and look forward to the future books that are in the works, whether I’m a contributor or not.

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Wilds’ Comics Conundrum: Assessing Comics at Dragon Con

This Dragon Con was a return to form in a way for me, as I wanted to catch more panels and especially focus on the comics side of things this convention. The recent years there had been fantastic, but held less time for sitting in on things I wanted to see and didn’t allow me time for any interviews. Scouring through the list of upcoming events for the Con I managed to find more than enough, but so much of it was all taking place around the same time that I quickly had to give up on a few things. I think I chose wisely though, because my experiences this year showed me a couple of things many readers have been asking about, all from some still fresh voices in the industry and several independent creators.

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In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale – God Save Burt Reynolds

So I just finished the season finale for Game of Thrones and wanted something similar, but I picked up In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale by accident, and suddenly I’m reconsidering my DVD collection and a few life choices. Admitting I actually own this thing is the first step, but I think if I had to suffer through two plus hours of it, you guys should at least read a write-up so I can complain and try to drop a couple of interesting facts about one of Uwe Boll’s masterpieces (his best movie is Rampage, everything else is subject to ridicule). As with many of this director’s projects, this movie is based off of a video game franchise, Dungeon Siege, which I have only played a small bit of, but I doubt any extra knowledge about the games would have made me like the film more.

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IT: Good Makeup Hides Flaws

I’ll attempt to write this review without comparing the 2017 version to the 1990 original miniseries, but that is a bit difficult because of how much I loved that production. I saw IT when I was too young to do so and couldn’t look away. It’s great, for all of the right and wrong reasons, but that is what made it fun and cherished by a whole generation. Many are often too quick to boil the experience down to Tim Curry—who was fantastic—carrying the whole thing on his shoulders, but there are a lot of great moments and truly memorable ideas that have a ton of power from King’s book, with visuals that were rushed and did not age well. Just as it is hard to compare the book, a collection of captivating ideas that seems to have gone too far, to the film, it is difficult to try and analyze an older miniseries with a much different budget against a shorter movie that had a lot to live up to. I was worried, but went in hopeful.

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Wilds’ War Cry: Xavier Woods, Dodged at Dragon Con

It’s that time of year, the only part of convention season I usually get into—Dragon Con. Oh, you haven’t heard of it? It’s a big deal here in Atlanta, mostly a science fiction convention, but they’ve been branching out and always have Dragon Con Wrestling, which is worth it. Furthermore, superstars Ricky the Dragon Steamboat and The Monster Kane—gracious enough to fill in for Ric Flair, due to his health—made several appearances and signed autographs. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was seeing Glenn Jacobs in street clothes but with the Kane mask on talking it up with fans like he was hosting a chill barbeque. I hate I missed the Legends panel with those two, but I had bigger game to hunt.

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Retro Review: Darkwing Duck

I hate that I never knew about this game when I was a kid, because it might have rivaled DuckTales for me as a top platformer. The show only ran from 1991-1992, but it remains the cartoon I revisit the most from the Disney Afternoon—other than Gargoyles possibly—to this day. I didn’t actually find out about Drake Mallard starring in his own game until looking into emulation many years later, and I just recently acquired my own physical copy of this game after some searching and patience. There were rumors of a new version of the duck defender for years, but he will finally make his triumphant return in the new DuckTales cartoon it seems, which means it is as good a time as any to type this one up!

“When there’s trouble, you call DW!”

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