Archive for the games Category

10 Awesomely vintage comic book ads

Posted in advertising, comic books, pop culture, Rubik's Cube with tags , , , on April 20, 2010 by Paxton

Cavalcade Comics

I collected comic books from about fourth grade through high school. And even into college a bit. So I’ve got a pretty big collection of comics in my garage right now. I had dipped into the collection the last few months to look for any comics having to do with werewolves as that will be this year’s Halloween theme.  While I had some of my favorite issues out, I started scanning the covers and putting them up on my Flickr Photostream.  I also started scanning some of the advertisements found within the comic books.  Many times, these are even more memorable than the comic book itself.  Many of the toy and video game ads are awesome, but you also see many other ads that showed up for decades within many different comics. Many of them are pretty crazy awesome, if you know what I mean.

Here are some of my favorite comic book ads that I’ve come across in my collection.  Click any of the images to make them BIGGER.

Charles Atlas B&W Charles Atlas Color
Charles Atlas – One of the most famous comic book ads in existence.This ad introduced the “98 pound weakling”, named Mac, who birthed the cliche of having sand kicked into his face by a bully. It’s a classic ad that also got a sequel where a new “weakling”, Jack, is bullied at a school dance instead of a beach.

Sea Monkeys Super Sea Monkeys
Sea Monkeys – Another ad that EVERYONE on Earth knows about because it was just that popular.  Sea Monkeys.  On the left you see your normal Sea Monkeys ad from 1972.  On the right, however, you can see a 1978 ad for Super Sea Monkeys.  These aren’t your average, every day Sea Monkeys, these bitches are SUPER.  They grow twice as fast (and probably die twice as fast, too). I bet the inventor of the Sea Monkeys is right now livin’ the good life in Tahiti drinking umbrella drinks and partying with butt-naked freaks.

Rubick's Cube Lube
Cube Lube – This ad is like a flaming hot supernova of AWESOME.  Cube.  Lube.  “We’ve got what it takes to really move your cube!!!”  I’m speechless.

Spalding Street Ball ad
Spalding Street Ball ad – Originating in the ’70s, this ad could be found in comics all the way into the mid ’80s.  One of my favorite ads that’s on the back of at least 75% of my comic book collection.  I also love the artwork.  Probably because it’s drawn by Mad Magazine superstar Jack Davis.  Check out Davis’ awesome Back to the Future cover for Mad Magazine #260.  I don’t want to burst Mr Barry’s bubble, but there is NO WAY that jump shot was a 30 footer.  It doesn’t even look like it’s a 3-point shot.  He’s lucky if it’s a 20 footer.  A 30 footer would be from almost half court.

Continue reading

America’s love affair with a man named Pac

Posted in 80s, Pac-Man, pop culture, reviews, video games with tags , , on August 6, 2008 by Paxton

Okay, this was meant to be the article I posted after my July 3rd opus on the Perfect Pac-Man game.  However, circumstances being what they are (me = ADD) other things grabbed my attention and I’m just now getting around to posting this followup.  In the last article I discussed a little bit of Pac-Man’s history and also covered Billy Mitchell’s achievement in 1999 obtaining the first perfect game of Pac-Man.  There’s a lot of pop culture crap that happened between Pac-Man debuting in 1980 and Billy Mitchell cementing his status as “king of the nerds” in 1999.  And this is the stuff I love to cover; pop culture crap.

In the ’80s, Pac-Man was HUGE.  He was everywhere.  The Pac-Man logo and video game character were licensed on hundreds of products to capitalize on what would become the most famous video game of all time.  We’ll take a look at some of these products, but first, let’s look at the video game’s lineage.

Pac-Man Sequels

I’m sure you know a few of them, but I doubt you knew there were about thirteen of them, many being exclusive releases on home video consoles.  Let’s take a look at some of the more notable sequels in the pantheon of Pac-Man gaming.

Pac-Man screenshotAfter realizing they had a hit on their hands, Bally-Midway decided to sell the video game rights to Atari to develop a port of the game on the extremely popular VCS 2600 in 1981. The media blitz surrounding the impending release was monumental to say the least. Ironic, because next to ET the Extra Terrestrial, this was the worst game ever created for the Atari 2600. And yes, I owned it. The music was awful, the graphics were terrible, the ghosts were dumb and the fruit you normally eat in the middle changed to a “vitamin pill”. Awful. Needless to say, this game was one of the three reasons, in my opinion, that Atari went bankrupt. The other two? The games ET the Extraterrestrial and Donkey Kong. No company could recover from that Trinity of Unholy Suck-i-ness.

Continue reading

Pac-Man Perfect: 1st Perfect game of Pac-Man played on today’s date, 1999

Posted in 80s, Pac-Man, pop culture, video games with tags , , , , on July 3, 2008 by Paxton

On today’s date, July 3, in 1999, the first perfect score was achieved on the arcade game Pac-Man. This feat was accomplished by the very controversial figure, Billy Mitchell, at the Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. Mitchell was competing with a partner in a US vs Canada video game competition over the Fourth of July weekend. It took him over six hours to complete his “perfect game”.

What, you may ask, goes into getting a “perfect score” on Pac-Man? To reach the maximum score of 3,333,360 points, one must navigate 255 mazes, or “boards”, eating all dots, power pellets and point giving fruit. You must also devour all four ghosts every time you eat a power pellet. After successfully navigating the first 255 boards you will reach the final 256th board, or what is known as the “kill screen” (see pic below). On the 256th maze, there is a bug in Pac-Man’s internal code that affects how the screen is drawn. Half the screen is perfectly clear while the other half is a mess of random characters and symbols. The interrupted drawing of the maze renders this final maze nearly unplayable. You finish your game by acquiring as many points as possible on this “kill screen” before you eventually die.

Continue reading

Defending the Galaxy: Reviewing the video game bible of 1981 Part I

Posted in 80s, books, humor, pop culture, reviews, video games with tags , , , , , on May 7, 2008 by Paxton

Cavalcade Arcade

As some of you will recall, I went to the Jacksonville Book Fair a while ago and found a bunch of really cool books, all for about 50 cents each. One of these finds was my favorite. it was a video game book from the early ’80s called Defending the Galaxy: The Complete Handbook of VideoGaming.

Defending the Galaxy front coverDefending the Galaxy back cover

This book, according to the cover, lets the readers in on how to “blend in” and “look like” an elite video gamer. Seriously, it’s written with the assumption that the reader is not currently in the video game crowd, but let’s them in on the secrets of looking and acting like a top tier gamer. Needless to say, the book is funny. Ridiculously so. The book’s assumption that non-gamer folk even want to be “in” with the gamer folk is very presumptuous, but it leads to some really funny “tips and tricks”. What is a non-gamer supposed to do once they’ve assimilated themselves amongst the video game crowd? Study them? Learn their habits? Is this a National Geographic special? What if, while posing as a gamer, the non-gamer is asked to play a 2 player game of Defender? How do they fake their way through that? The answer is, there’s no faking your way through a game of Defender as it’s widely considered one of the hardest games ever created. You’ll have your backside handed to you by the real gamer and then be ostracized by the gaming community. So teaching you to look like a gamer when you aren’t is also teaching you to be a poseur. But, if you follow the instructions in this book, the road to becoming a poseur is awesome.

I was 8 when this book was released. At that time I was a huge video gamer and loved to go to the arcade and play whenever my parents would let me. Any trip to the local mall meant I got to play at Aladdin’s Castle. I could play Donkey Kong or Asteroids at Dino’s Hot Dogs. There was a stand alone video arcade named Wizard’s Palace that I rarely got to visit. We’d go to Six Flags on a family vacation and I’d want to spend a few hours in the video arcade instead of going on rides. My dad kept saying that he didn’t spend 40 bucks to get me in the park to play games I can find in the mall at home. That’s how much I loved video games. In my defense, there were several games in that Six Flags video arcade that I never saw at my local arcade including Super Punch Out!, Return of the Jedi and Mad Dog McCree.

Continue reading

The Amazing Legacy of Rubik’s Cube

Posted in games, pop culture, puzzles, reviews, Rubik's Cube with tags , , on April 25, 2007 by Paxton

Rubik’s CubeA couple of my co-workers brought in their Rubik’s Cubes and started memorizing how to solve them. They’ve been playing with them for the last several days. It got me thinking about my Cube (which I think is in my storage unit somewhere) and the heyday of The Rubik’s Cube in general. I wanted to take a look at the origin of this cool piece of pop culture and some of the marketing that sprung up around it, including other puzzles in the Rubik’s family.

The Cube was invented in 1974 by Ernő Rubik (see pic to the right). Rubik was a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture with an interest in geometry and the study of three-dimensional forms. Ernő obtained a Hungarian patent for his puzzle in 1975 and the first test batches of the product were produced in late 1977. The toy would then be released to Budapest toy shops as “The Magic Cube”.Erno Rubik

It took several years for Rubik to secure a worldwide distributor but finally convinced IDEAL toys on the potential of the little cube. IDEAL redesigned the puzzle to make the cube lighter and sturdier, and then they decided to rename it. “The Gordian Knot” and “Inca Gold” were considered, but the company finally decided on “Rubik’s Cube”, and the first batch was exported from Hungary in May 1980. The rest as they say, is history.

The popularity of Rubik’s Cube was beyond anything the creator imagined. National and International competitions sprung up to set world records for solving the cube. Soon, the Cube could be seen in commercials, television shows and movies. Even today, the solved version of the Cube will be trotted out on a TV show or movie to prove how smart someone is (anyone see Will Smith’s movie, Pursuit of Happyness?). It’s the resulting pop culture legacy that I want to look at.

Professor cubeDo you remember any of the other products in the Rubik family? The original Rubik’s Cube is a 3x3x3 cube. I remember a keychain version of the 3x3x3 cube being extremely popular in my elementary school. Did you know they also made a standard Rubik’s Cube in braille (click here for a pic)? Pretty cool. IDEAL also released Rubik’s Revenge (4x4x4) and Rubik’s Professor Cubes (5x5x5, see pic to the left). I can’t imagine trying to solve the Professor cube, look at it, it looks like a Star Trek Borg ship. There are also prototypes of other, harder cubes. Click here for video of Rubik professional, Frank Morris, solving a 7x7x7 cube in just over 6 minutes. Not bad, Frank. I bet Mr. Morris subscribed to IDEAL’s monthly Rubik newsletter in the early ’80s. Check it out here.

As for puzzles other than “the cube”, Rubik himself designed Rubik’s Magic. It’s a flat, plastic folding screen with pictures of rings on it. I had trouble figuring out how to work it and usually broke the plastic mechanism. Rubik also developed the Rubik Twist which was a snake-like puzzle that could be formed into different shapes. The twist always seemed somewhat boring to me. A puzzle that many people assume is a Rubik invention is the Pyraminx, but it was invented by another guy named Uwe Meffert. Although not Rubik, it’s still an interesing time-waster.

Rubik The Amazing CubeSpeaking of time wasters, does anyone remember the Saturday morning cartoon show Rubik, The Amazing Cube? Anyone? Hello…? Well, for some reason, I remember it. Before writing this article I remember thinking the theme song kicked all kinds of ass and that it was a really cool show. Well, after a little searching, I found a clip on YouTube from the show. If you click here to view the clip you will see that I was grossly mis-remembering the theme song. GROSSLY. WTF?! What was I thinking? Yikes. Young and dumb is my only defense. I forgot that the little kids in the cartoon could only bring Rubik to life when they solved him. That’s nice that these 10 year olds could pretty much solve the cube, under duress, anytime they wanted. If I was being run down by a guy looking to beat my ass and steal my Rubik, but to save myself I had to solve the little cube, then I’m a goner. Here take the Rubik, don’t hit me in the face, please.

Astor Park CubeApparently there’s a cube sculpture in Astor Park in New York (see pic left). It constantly gets de-faced with graffiti by the neighborhood youth. For a really good prank, a group of guys got together and turned it into a Rubik’s Cube. Click here for a step-by-step journal of them building the sides of the Rubik’s Cube and the late-night raid to put up the finished product. Or, if you are lazy and want to skip to the picture of the finished product, then click here.

Atari 2600 RubikDid any of you have the Atari 2600 cartridge based on the Rubik’s Cube? I kid you not, Atari created a video game based on the Cube. Click here to read all about that debacle at Atari Age (one of my favorite video game sites, by the way). That game may rival E.T. The Extra-terrestrial as the worst game in Atari 2600 history. Yes, E.T. first, Rubik’s Cube second and Pac-Man is third. WAIT!! Donkey Kong, oh my lord, Donkey Kong blew, too. Ummm…..Note to self, that sounds like the beginnings of a future blog article. Moving on…

Where else can I remember seeing the Rubik’s Cube? There was an episode of Seinfeld where George decided to abstain from sex. Because of this he becomes smarter. The longer he goes without sex, the smarter he becomes. In one scene he’s seen easily solving the Rubik’s Cube. Good episode. I remember there was an episode of Growing Pains where Carol was getting ready to interview with a college recruiter and her dad prominently displayed the Rubik’s Cube she completed in the fifth grade. Why was Carol having a college recruiter come to her house for an interview? I mean, I know she was smart, but dang, man. I never got a recruiter to come to my house for an interview.

Cube PiecesWell, that’s some of the ca-RAZY crap you could find thanks to the international phenomenon that was Rubik’s Cube. Do you still have yours? I have mine. I never actually solved it the “correct” way, I just took it apart and put it back together so it is in it’s solved state. Hey, it may not be the way IDEAL intended you to solve it, but it works.

If you want more info on Rubik’s Cube visit the official site at http://www.rubiks.com. They have tons of pictures, information and games for you to play. You can even play a 3-D online version of Rubik’s Cube (click here).

Technorati Tags –