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The Lost Collection

The Lost Collection

I was born prepackaged to become a gamer – my childhood was on the lonely side. Separated from the crowd by introversion, deformity, and a penchant for asking questions that the people of Buffalo believed had no business ever being asked, I found solace in games. It was a natural thing to do, really. My games didn’t reject me. They address me using slurs or names. They transported me to different times and places where I was allowed to deal with my foes in the most vicious ways I could imagine and was seen as a hero.

Since I spent so much time playing video games, it was only natural that I ended up building a strong collection of games that are now quite difficult to find. Hell, in some instances they were rare. The first real consoles that were parts of my life were the Atari 2600 and Mattel’s Intellivision. The 2600, of course, is one of the all-time classic consoles. It created and defined the first generation of consoles. Its presence in my own life was courtesy of Rob, who had a dusty old 2600 which was flickery and buggy. He had it latched onto an old black and white television set which was even more flickery and buggy, and that resulted in gaming as if the games themselves were drunk. Stargate was particularly notable because the constant war between the console and the TV would black out the game, restart it, and shut off the console at regular intervals. We could have made a good drinking game out of it. My friend Chris, who lived in the downstairs duplex, was the one with the Intellivision. Like Rob, he had it hooked up to a black and white TV, but he was the one with the deluxe accommodations because the TV wasn’t buggy, and it had sound.

My first home console, meanwhile, was NEC’s TurboGrafx-16. Now, I had the best TV set of the three of us, but the catch with my TV was that it was the only TV in the house. That meant the comparatively advanced graphics, color, and music required me to have permission from my parents. Still, the Turbo was mine. I loved it, and it opened my mind to a world of lesser-known consoles and games which allowed me access to a complex spectrum of gaming. As my parents were able to save money and bring the family from the lower working class and into the middle class, they were able to occasionally gift me with more mainstream consoles, which in turn became a real video game collection when I entered the working world myself and had spending money.

My video game collection became something to behold. I kept my beloved Turbo, and while my purchasing decisions definitely needed work – Sidearms over Blazing Lazers, Sinistron over The Legendary Axe, and Double Dungeons, well, just Double Dungeons at all stand among my errors – that didn’t keep me from creating a collection which included the first two Bonk games (which I continue to argue are among the greatest platformers ever made), Bloody Wolf (everyone compares it to Contra, but it’s actually the better version of Heavy Barrel), Neutopia (The Legend of Zelda’s most blatant imitator, but still a classic in its own right), Ninja Spirit, and Cadash. Even as I started gaming in the mainstream more, my collection included now-obscurities like Shining Force II, Shining in the Darkness, Kid Chameleon, Flashback, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Steel Empire, Eternal Champions, Landstalker, and Mutant League Hockey.

My console collection eventually included the Nintendo 64, Playstation 2, Dreamcast, Gamecube, and Saturn. My collection of games grew to include Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Virtua Tennis, Suikoden III, Fire Pro Wrestling II, Virtual On, Pikmin, Skies of Arcadia (the original version), Sega GT, Mars Matrix, Lunar: Silver Star Story, Dark Cloud 2, Final Fantasy IX, and a few other scarce games that I can’t even think of because I owned so many. Building it up took around 25 years, and even as I got older and grew out of time to play video games, it was a collection I proudly pointed at when talking about my qualifications as a gamer. When I left Chicago in 2011, I made a point of having a friend keep it stored up. Which he did, for three years at what I suspect was more personal inconvenience than he would ever let on.

It took another move to lose it.

Now, to make myself clear, I’m not really mad. Hell, I understand. When I decided to pack it in and move to the West Coast, I knew that I would only be able to haul a couple of bags with me, filled with minimal essentials. That meant that once again, my games had to be left behind and I would eventually have to drive a small truck across the country to grab them again. Well… That never happened. My Mother unexpectedly passed away in November of 2016. At that time, I had been in Seattle for a sliver over a year and had only recently found my foothold. I had a very nice room in a shared house, but was otherwise working one of the worst jobs I had ever worked for a wage that was barely legal. I had no qualms about dropping everything to make a mad dash across the country after learning what happened to Mom, and sticking around for a week to see my Father get acclimated. But once again, there was only so much stuff I could recover and, priorities being priorities, I had to leave my video games behind, with the exceptions of my handhelds.

The day of the funeral, my sister asked Dad to move out to California. While Dad said he would give it some thought, his voice also conveyed one of those tones: He knew there was now nothing keeping him confined to Buffalo, and so he would be joining my sister in California as soon as he could. It took him a year to get prepared, but Dad made the journey to California in December last year. And like me, he had to travel as lightly as possible. The house had been full of little sentimental knickknacks, which Dad had to abandon if he was ever going to be able to find a reasonable place to live in California. My games were simply too much empty cargo.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though. People who got a look at my massive collection who were in the know about video games know I’m probably not getting a do-over on a lot of them. A lot of the games in that collection cost as much as any current release, and a handful of them demand three digits for the hards. And it’s more than just the value – the hards were a source of my pride as a gamer, and infallible proof that I was as serious as I said I was. In the gaming community, a list of games like the ones I owned meant a lot because the few other gamers in my life could say they looked at and played one of the original copies. Many gamers these days know about the TurboGrafx-16, but not many have played any games at all on it, and they probably never got to sniff the original chip copies. The gamers who knew me could give details about everything they loved and hated about Bonk’s Adventure and Bonk’s Revenge.

And so that’s it. I guess it’s time to try to build a new collection.

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Grocery Store Loyalty

Grocery Store Loyalty

The grocery competition in Chicago really wasn’t much of one. The two major stores there were Jewel and Dominick’s. While Jewel was the more prevalent of the two – and let’s be honest, by far the more convenient if you were in need of an emergency CTA pass – Dominick’s was the clear cut above. After moving into the little West Town apartment there which came to define my time living there, a Dominick’s soon opened up six blocks away, and grocery shopping became easy. My previous option was to jump the Western Avenue bus and take it the distance from Chicago Avenue to Addison Street, so having a brand new Dominick’s within walking distance was a wonderful thing.

This last Christmas, with my immediate family now based entirely on the West Coast, my sister and I compared grocery store notes as we drove through her adopted hometown of Sacramento. One of the big chains down there is Raley’s, which almost came off as two separate stores. If anything, the Raley’s I visited in Sactown bore more than a passing resemblance to Ghetto Tops, a Tops at the Abbott/South Park intersection that my family avoided at all costs. Seattle has three major chains: Albertson’s, Safeway, and Fred Meyer. Albertson’s and Safeway are both glorified convenience stores, so they’re not even worth writing about. Fred Meyer is an excellent store by any standard, and it’s my usual go-to when I’m in need of a particular product that can’t be found at Trader Joe’s. But as I talked grocers with my sister, we both ended up coming to the same conclusion: We miss Wegmans. “I think we got the best of the grocery stores in Buffalo,” she said to me.

That sentiment isn’t unique, either. A few months ago, I was having a chat with a woman I was thinking of asking out. She was a native of Rochester, and when I mentioned that I was from New York, the first thing she asked me was about my grocery store loyalty. I gave her the shpiel: The only objectively good chain I’ve found in the Puget Sound Megalopolis is Fred Meyer, and even Freddie’s at its best is half of Wegman’s at its worst. A friend of mine in Chicago was born and raised in the Syracuse area, and a deep appreciation for Wegmans was one of the things that bonded us as upstaters.

Of all the unique qualities Upstate New York natives are instilled with, loyalty to a grocery store might be one of the oddest. But as my sister and I came to find out after living outside of the state for awhile, we were born into the cream of the crop when it comes to local grocers. The two of us had the fortune to be raised in an area in which Wegmans isn’t some great phenomenon, but something normal. The quality and selection and service in Wegmans is less a treat than something we’ve come to expect from every grocer in the country, and although we’ve both been living outside of New York more than long enough to understand we’re never going to find it again, we’re still downright upset that we’re not getting it.

We learn the hard way the common refrain of Upstate New York natives: There’s no Wegmans. It’s weird to be moving far away from New York and be bragging to people about a chain of grocery stores, but quality is quality, and this is what its come to: A freaking GROCERY STORE may be a tangible reason why the population of several metropolitan areas in New York aren’t smaller. (Wegmans worked this into a TV ad a few years ago, and managed to cop Alec Baldwin into the spot.) The people there have developed a loyalty to Wegman’s normally reserved for ubiquitous national brands like Coke or McDonald’s. No matter how far we get from our roots and how much good the regional chains are, they never quite manage to get out from the shadow of Wegmans.

Upstate New York expats never forget our roots. We wear our Empire State qualities with pride. When the Buffalo Bills recently played their first playoff game in 18 years, I watched the game with a group of 250 other fans, most of whom could recite the lyrics to “A Mule Named Sal.” The Bills, however, are merely a visual representation of our nativity. Not everyone can claim to be a football fan, or even a sports fan at all. All of us know that one of the things that binds us, even above sports, is a loyalty to a grocery store.

The 2017 Acid Martini Award

The 2017 Acid Martini Award

Say it once, and you’ve said it a thousand times: Our Chinese overlords are going to be pissed off when they get to the United States and start remaking English. They have a language with two common variations – Mandarin and Cantonese – and we’re soon going to end up adopting one or both of them as a basic way of making a living. We can complain all we want about foreigners coming in and blurring up the lines between our own wonderfully quirky language and their native tongue, but we’re well on the way to being outright owned by China, so better start learning while we can!

While we start becoming polyglots, though, we can do something that precious few of us know how to do: Start learning to speak proper English. English is in danger of being lost forever, and those placing it in the greatest danger are ourselves. The President of the United States, the symbol that the world over sees as a representation of everything about our country, has a vocabulary only big enough to fit inside a single paragraph. So as people in the rest of the world see and hear Donald Trump, they think to themselves, what on Earth about English is worth holding onto? Let it fucking die! And we don’t do English any favors by mudding it up with bullshit words and repurposed terminology. That’s why we need to learn how to speak. I know many people reading this have been inspired by Donald Trump to believe proper English isn’t worth holding onto, but come on! George W. Bush wasn’t verbose, but he made the effort to try. Bush Senior wasn’t bad, and Reagan was brilliant. We need to follow Reagan. Or Obama, if we’re leaning Democratic.

So with that in mind, I present the 2017 Acid Martini Award, named for the drink I would happily serve to anyone I caught using the following affront to English.

Snowflake

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not talking about snow. I’m talking political speak by right-wing dumbasses who don’t know anything about politics. “Snowflake” is the term adopted by people on the right who whine about the fact that swaths of people who aren’t them are waking up to the fact that they deserve basic human dignity. And they’re all a bunch of white people who are upset that they can’t get away with being racist as hell anymore.

Perhaps the worst thing about this term is that the people using it have managed to get offended by a broadway play, Starbucks cups, and other mundane everyday objects. They’re people who also whine constantly about having their own dignity as Nazis and Confederates – people who are trying to obtain their own dignity through subjugation and outright genocide. Now the American version of Hitler is in office, these assholes have gotten their way, and yet all they can do is find various ways in which the country is trying to oppress them.

Think about it: Starbucks cups vs. real discussions about having laws guaranteeing the right of other people to vote revoked. Yeah, whatever.

 

The One Percent Gift List 2017

Herry Christmadays everyone! It’s the most expensive time of the year once again! The gift-givingest time of the year! The fatteningest time of the year! Being that time of the year, it’s time to once again go out and shop the shit out of every mall, retail outlet, mom and pop shop, and box store in the hopes of finding those perfect gifts for those perfect people in your lives! Of course, sometimes we all need a little help getting inspired to find a decent gift, which is where lists come in. And holy hell, does Christmas season gives us LISTS! Lists up the cakehole! Lists for your country cousin, your urban cousin, your dog, your secondhand friends, your friends with benefits, all of them!… Except the person who can afford anything. What kind of thoughtful gift can you give to your One Percent friend? Well folks, that’s why I’m here. Your One Percent friends need things that make them feel rich and powerful. You need to plonk some real cash down for them, so let this short list be your beacon!

 

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Apple I Computer

Now, this is just a cool little novelty gift. The thing about household brands is that they all started out somewhere by some nutjob who, rather than inheriting their money like a good One Percenter, did things the HARD way and invented something! Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs created the original Apple I computer in 1971. They made about 150 of them before creating the Apple II. The Apple I came with 4 KB of memory, which could be expanded to 48 KB. It was also equipped with a 1 MHz CPU. The keyboard and monitor had to be supplied by the poor sap who bought it. That means that the Apple I is completely useless today, which means you could probably get it for spare change is its value was applied in today’s financial terms. But this thing was created in 1971, and apparently it’s now a collector’s item. So when one went on sale at Christie’s in London recently, it cost $210,000, which is probably the 1971 price of $666.66 (yes, seriously) adjusted for inflation. And be sure to buy your friend the keyboard and a TV to act as the monitor as well. They’re in the One Percent. Don’t be a fucking cheapass.

UNICEF Cargo Flight T-shirt

UNICEF Cargo Flight T-shirt

Yes, your friend is a One Percenter. But like their big hero Donald Trump, they feel the need to do something to show that THEY CARE. Remember when Trump went to Puerto Rico and gave paper towels out to people who lost everything in the flood? Yeah, your friend has to do something like that, but, you know, without having to interact with anyone. What to do? Get one of these $300,000 T-shirts. Show a little bit of support for UNICEF without actually taking any time to commit to or, you know, DO anything. Everyone will know they care!

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Super Hello Kitty Jewel Doll

Yes, Hello Kitty is a kids’ item, but your friend hasn’t been so busy doing their One Percent business to have forgotten about their kids, right? Hello Kitty is always popular everywhere! This cute little kiddie toy was created in 2009 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Hello Kitty. Sure, your kids may just want a nice, big plush toy to hug since because you forgot about them, but this cute little toy will make every Hello Kitty hug feel just like one from your One Percent friend: Cold, hard, and no life to be found, with its 1939 pieces of white topaz, 403 pink sapphires, two black spinels to represent your friend’s cold, dead eyes, and a 1.027-karat diamond on Hello Kitty’s signature bow! See, no one says a good parent HAS to be there, especially not when they’re out at business meetings, with hookers, at fancy restaurants, and doing all those other things that make forgetting about their kids a breeze!

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Antarctic Nail Ale

Are you going to give your One Percent friend a bottle of wine for Christmas? Pshaw! That is SO cliche! Yes, I realize wine is timeless, but there are One Percenters who are less interested in being timeless and more interested in being hip, trendy, and just plain cool. And what’s hip, trendy, and cool? Craft beers! Australia’s Nail Brewing Company can help you out with this one. They’ve been producing craft beers for over ten years, and one of their concoctions is Antarctic Nail Ale. No, it’s not an India Pale Ale, which is the go-to voice of cool beers, but tell me something: What IPA was brewed with ice straight out of Antarctica? Yes, it was flown in in the form of an iceberg, melted in Tasmania, then taken to Perth to be used in this brew. Unfortunately, I can’t get a description of the flavor notes contained in this beer, but that’s excusable; only 30 bottles were ever produced. They range in price from $800 to $1815 per bottle. The fact that no one knows what it tastes like is just as well. A good One Percenter isn’t going to drink it, after all. They’re just going to look at it and let it sit, going up in value.

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Blendtec Smoother Q-Series 20 Amp

It was between this or a saucepan, but I thought the saucepan was more of something your One Percent friend would give as a gift to Jeeves. A blender is more of a true do-it-yourself meal-maker, and this sucker is one of the most powerful out there. More to the point is that blenders tend to be loud, but the 20 Amp here is equipped with a copolyester sound enclosure and a muffled motor, so your friend can get their juicing done in peace and quiet worthy of the yoga classes they’re making the smoothie for! And the designers are even willing to reduce the height of it by eight inches by building it into your countertop! This baby costs $1199.95. That may seem a little low, but Blendtec also offers a six foot tall frozen food dispenser with paristoltic pumps that can place six different items into the 20 Amp. It’s sold separately at $22,105.

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Leiber Precious Rose

Your One Percent friend is rich. But they’re not running around with that cash hanging out of their pockets, are they? Yeah, sure, they COULD do it – they can afford to pay for the protection that would keep them from getting mugged. But there’s also the horrible inconvenience of it. So what do they put that money in? Handbags! And here’s a rich handbag worthy of a rich person. Judith Leiber’s unique handbag has a unique rose shape you just won’t find with other bags, but it also has a whole lot more going on. The $92,000 price tag also buys the metallic kidskin, 1016 diamonds, 1169 pink sapphires, and 800 pink tourmalines which line it. The metal parts are made out of 18-karat white gold. Yeah, maybe it comes across as a little bit extravagant, but you’re rich, and that makes you an elegant, unique snowflake. And yes, this thing is unique; only one was ever made.

Image result for gng golden delicious iphone case

GnG Golden Delicious iPhone Case

If your One Percent friend has to do things that are considered “practical” – like, you know, carrying their wallet in a fancy bag – that means they probably need to carry other things too. And you’re not about to let your One Percenter carry their precious phone in a plastic shell like some kind of sucker, are you? That’s why there’s the Golden Delicious! The culmination of 12 months of development, this kingly $100,000 phone holder has a 1mm subshell made with 140g of 18-karat gold, a carbon fiber inlay, and 200 diamonds. The outer logo features another 400 diamonds, but it can also be customized! Customization prices will vary depending on what’s used for material.

Image result for gold striker 3gs iphone supreme

Goldstriker 3GS iPhone Supreme

The current president of the United States is all about gold. No, he doesn’t know anything about how to actually earn it, or make it in any way, but he certainly knows how to surround himself with it at every turn. This cell phone is something he would be proud to say he created! Stuart Hughes of Goldstriker International is known for giving plebe items like phones and video game consoles the Supreme treatment: Decking out their halls with gold and diamonds. This $3.2 million treatment for the 3GS iPhone places it in a casing of 271 grams, 22-karat solid gold. It trims the screen with 53 1-karat diamonds, covering the home button with a rare 7.1-karat diamond. The price also gets a nice granite case with Kashmir gold and Nubock top grain leather interior lining. It’s exactly the sort of phone that the sitting president, who famously considers the White House bathroom a downgrade from his gold-plated bathroom in New York City, would love! Okay, well, he might consider this beneath him too, but still.

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Detective Comics #37

The May 1939 edition of Detective Comics must have seemed like any other edition of the comic series. It was about a detective, right? Except this particular detective was dressed in a black and gray suit that vaguely emulated a bat. The character caught on, and today, Detective Comics #37 is known as the first-ever appearance of Batman. Yeah, this is an important collector’s item. It can auction for $1.38 million. For contrast, Batman didn’t get his first officially-titled comic until spring of 1940. That one runs for a paltry $359,000.

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Goldloft 18K Gold Dumbbells

From the catalog of Miss Gwyneth this year, you have evidence: Lifting solid gold can make you stronger. So will lifting the $125,000 price tag in dollar bills.

 

The 2017 Extinct List

The 2017 Extinct List

Well, that time has finally come again. We all hate the big stuff, but it’s the small stuff that gets sweated. We like to tell everyone to take chill pills and to not sweat the small stuff, but we can’t really avoid doing so, can we? It’s the small stuff that assaults us every day of our lives. If it weren’t for the small stuff, we might not get so easily triggered about the big stuff, to the point where we get set off in spurts of outrage at points where keeping a cool head might help us prevail. Thus, this list. A list of the little things that have been driving everyone – but mostly me – absolutely bonkers in the last year. And so, without further ado, I give you the 2017 Extinct List, the list of all the small things that drive us (but mostly me) nuts to the point where we (I) need to see them driven to extinction.

Bad Traffic Mergers

Maybe you’re lucky. Maybe you don’t live in a place where the definition of traffic means a two-hour, bumper-to-bumper drive 15 miles to and from work with a crowd of surrounding drivers who can’t drive in the rain, which is supposed to be their element! Traffic always sucks, doubly so if there’s a lot of it, and our seeming inability to merge causes it to be worse. Bad mergers are usually the ones holding everyone up in spots which are hypothetically fast-moving, but where the delays have a habit of hitting us the hardest. You wonder why that glorious 60-MPH freeway is moving so slow at rush hour? Bad mergers are the usual culprit. Perhaps the worst aspect of bad mergers is the fact that in order to survive, you may end up turning into one yourself. I know there’s a way to merge without slowing down traffic, but it seems pointless now.

Limited Release Movies

Maybe that’s not the best term – I’m thinking more along the lines of movies that you’re dying to see only to find out they haven’t been released in any theaters close to you. That kind of nullifies the whole point of advertising or reviewing the movie, doesn’t it? It sort of tells the interested audience, “Here it is! You can’t see it. We only intend it to be seen by a very specific class of people, and, ah, you’re NOT that class. No, we don’t care if the people we’re appealing to are movie nuts or not. We are haughty assholes.” It’s one thing when this happens with an independent flick – those guys don’t have a lot of money, so they can’t be all that concerned with trying to reach people in the boondocks. But even insiders with connections have taken on the habit of doing this to show off how cool they are with the hipster crowd. Cool or not to the hipsters, though, the people who make you famous will think you’re an asshole.

Taxpayer-Funded Sports Stadiums

So, here’s the logic of the right wing, so much as I can tell: Those huge-ass tax cuts? They’re for LE PEOPLE! Except that the people aren’t actually having their taxes cut. The people getting their taxes cut are the rich people, who create all those jobs overseas. Or something? Well, sports stadium logic operates pretty much the same way: Give your sports owners money, and they’ll use it to build a new stadium for their team, and give them more money, and something about community investment? Yeah, this is right wing bullshit. The billionaires can build stadiums all by themselves, but they won’t, but they’ll take all our money and skip town anyway if we don’t do it for them. Because that’s how conservatives think. They’re all about self-sufficiency and pulling themselves up, long as someone else does all of it for them. Yet, when asked to produce proof of any public-funded sports stadium ever coming up with a profit for a city or any civic improvements, everyone has come up short.

Overly Expensive Sandwiches

Somebody please tell me when we all became rich. Unless we’re going into a national fast food giant that specializes in food with quotation marks, we’re paying upwards of five bucks for a sandwich made with bread and ordinary ingredients we find at the grocery store. For the price we pay at the local cafe for one sandwich, a lot of the time, we could just buy all the stuff the sandwich is made from and eat for a week. There’s such a thing as a good money-to-food ratio. I hate to tell people this, but the quality of big chain restaurants isn’t the only thing forcing millennials to learn how to cook.

Anti-Millennial Raging

People seem to be of two minds about us Millennials. First, they whine about us spending money on smartphones. Then they turn right around and scream about how we’re NOT wasting money on the following things: Diamonds, which are nothing but large, sparkly rocks made at the expense of slave labor and made expensive by falsified scarcity and made into essential marriage tradition by a 1930’s ad campaign from De Beers; the golf industry, which means we waste money on sets of metal sticks which are used for nothing but hitting small white balls – which we also paid for – very long distances in large private organizations for which we pay and arm and a leg; napkins, which are smaller, more bittle versions of paper towels; and gambling, for which we pay very large sums of money for nothing in return. In the meantime, we can’t afford to do much of anything on the meager salaries people bitching about us pay us. Then they whine about how we stagnate the economy. Just so we’re clear.

Sega Classic Game Collections

I guess I’m not quite finished with these things yet after all. Pay $20, you get a collection of 40 games, which is pretty reasonable. Pay $70 for a mini-version of the Genesis with over 80 classic Genesis games… Except nearly 30 are shovelware games, around 15 are Game Gear and Master System games, and the remaining 40 are mostly found on the $20 collection I just mentioned. Folks, those of us in the know about video games call this a scam.

Early Christmas

The morons on the right want you to think there’s some sort of war against Christmas. And they’re playing limitless Christmas music starting in October now, putting up the decorations right alongside the Halloween decorations.

Novelty Flavored Spirits

I just don’t like them.

Long Coffee Shop Lines

When we’re in a hurry, there’s no need to discern between roasts and beans. Coffee, after all, is a medical necessity – we get up and we don’t really function without it. But getting it does present us with the problem of having to wait in line much of the time, which is bad enough in and of itself. Then there’s that one bastard right in front of you who fancies themself a professional taster and expert. They ask where the beans are from, how they’re roasted, and they’ll go out of their way to personally take the coffee cup and write down the recipe, telling the barista what to do. In the meantime, there you are, late for the bus, waiting around while this fucker argues about the price and the exact amount of double skim milk going into his coppa latte. And all you want is your basic drip. Black.

National Chain Pizzas

Has ANYONE ever had one of these that was any good? There’s a reason these places are constantly getting attacked – the pizza tastes like cardboard. It’s pretty much inedible. For some reason, though, no one seems to be able to help reaching for their phone numbers at the earliest inconvenience. It’s not like the small places that are good don’t deliver. It seems to be that people are just too lazy to do the simple Google research that would enable them to find out what is and isn’t worth their money. And so we get A-grade junk like Domino’s, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, and Little Caesar’s ruling over the pizza racket with an iron fist in far too many places.

 

Sega’s Posterity Crap: Sega Games Gamers Hate and are Sick of

Sega’s Posterity Crap: Sega Games Gamers Hate and are Sick of

Maybe it’s starting to look like I’m beating on a dead horse, but I’m just really fucking pissed off with Sega. I’ve been a staunch champion for them going on nearly three solid decades. When the Sega Genesis Flashback was announced, I was excited. Maybe it’s just the young 16-bit Era gamer inside me, but I wanted a good Genesis classic console which would give me a chance to own and play many of the hard-to-find games that I was never able to get my scuzzy little paws on during the Golden Era proper. You know, the very thing NINTENDO IS OFFERING ON ITS MINI-CONSOLES! And what did Sega come up with? The same damned routine Genesis collection available on every other Genesis compilation ever, along with about 30 shitty shovelware games that anyone with a social life could play on their phones during a bus ride! Way to fucking go, Sega. I’m outright cheering for the Sega Genesis Flashback to bomb.

No one is even trying with Genesis collections anymore. They’re all poorly-emulated rehashes. Once in every seven blue moons or so, we get a new port of a great Genesis title, but Sega keeps giving us the same old, same old. I’ll grant that the same old for Sega can still build a hell of a classics collection, but for a mini-Genesis to reach the demand of one of Nintendo’s little brother collections, Sega needs to start eliminating its filler. And holy shit, does Sega LOVE its filler! That’s part of the problem: It loves its filler more than it loves its good games! Next mini-Genesis, it could stand to eliminate the following titles.

Altered Beast

Yes, I get that Altered Beast was so insanely popular as an arcade game that Sega had to throw it into the original Genesis box as the pack-in. But as the people old enough to remember playing Altered Beast in the arcade got older, they started to realize something: Altered Beast just isn’t a good game. It’s a game revolving entirely around a singular gimmick – and one which isn’t inventive. The reason we all loved it was because we were all mesmerized by getting to play as the weredragon in the second level. But the game as a whole hasn’t just aged badly; it was never a good game to begin with. The character design was good, but the action was slow and clunky and marred by the fact that the game used forced scrolling to push players ahead. Also, you had limited chances to collect the power-up balls, which put you in a sticky situation because if you got to the boss without being the were-animal of the level, the boss was literally impossible to beat.

Alien Storm

Anyone who’s gotten around to playing this on one of Sega’s earlier nostalgia packs has noticed a more-than-passing resemblance to a Sega classic which people actually loved: Golden Axe. This game is basically the exact same premise, in fact, only the fantasy setting everyone loved about Golden Axe is thrown out in favor of a modern day alien invasion motif. Although Alien Storm does add the innovation of a bunch of short sections which can be roughly described as first-person shooting scenes, you have no control of anything during them save a moving target cross. The vast majority of the game, though, is the same kind of beat-’em-up action, but without the attack variety, without a jump button, and without a few other little gimmicks the beat-’em-up genre is known for. And speaking of Golden Axe…

Golden Axe

Golden Axe was one of Sega’s original killer apps. It’s remembered fondly as one of the early arcade conversions that helped push the Genesis. The appeal of the game was that it took hold of the traditional beat-’em-up and plopped it into a fantasy land teeming with creative attacks and weapons, excellent character design, and creative and colorful level design. It was the rebel alternative to the popular Double Dragon, and it had much smoother controls. Unfortunately, all of that was by the standards of the time. Age came and walloped Golden Axe, especially once the beat-’em-up formula was revolutionized and streamlined by the likes of Final Fight and Streets of Rage. Both of those series still play beautifully today. Now Golden Axe feels more like a popcorn game that was shoved out by a developer looking for a quick couple of million; it’s comparatively short and clunky and doesn’t even hold up well when compared to later 16-bit brawlers.

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle

Yes, I know Alex Kidd was the closest thing Sega had to its own version of Mario during the Master System years. But there’s a reason Sega let him go, and it’s more than just the appearance of Sonic the Hedgehog: Alex Kidd is just not a good character, his games are HARD, and a lot of that difficulty is due to fundamental gameplay issues. His only outing on the Genesis was plagued by aquaplane-like sliding, atrocious hit detection, a control interface which could never seem to decide when Alex was or wasn’t in the middle of a midair kick, and graphics which never bothered to differentiate between the foreground and background. Not everyone could relate to Alex’s sickly cutesiness, either.

Revenge of Shinobi

Another one of the early Genesis pushers, Revenge of Shinobi continues to eke out a life as the defining title of its series. But the trouble with this one is that it doesn’t even feel as modern as the other games in its own series. Shinobi has long been a series where the developers have torn down their work and rebuilt everything from scratch with every new sequel, and so Revenge of Shinobi comes off as slow and stilted compared to the two games that came afterward. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master both offer better level design and more gameplay depth. They also both offer better gameplay mechanics, which don’t necessitate resource sacrifice against your better interests in order to see anything beyond the first two levels.

Columns

This was supposed to be Sega’s response to the timeless Tetris, but from the smaller playing field to the sudden speed and difficulty surge that hits once you’ve been playing long enough, it comes off as nothing more than a pale wannabe. More to the point is that Tetris is now the most-downloaded and most-played video game of all time, so Columns is out of selling points with the real thing so readily available.

Sonic Spinball

Sonic the Hedgehog going into a pinball-style fortress to act as the pinball. It’s not quite as good in practice as it is in theory, which is saying something because it doesn’t sound like a great idea in theory. Sonic Spinball took everything we loved about the Blue Blur and yanked it out of the game. So here we are, left with a Sonic game in which Sonic can’t get a good run going, set in a closed environment which leaves no room for any exploration, and that’s without even bringing up the worst pinball physics on Earth, floaty gameplay, and clunky controls. Sonic has endured one of the hardest falls from grace ever seen in video games. We like to keep saying his transition to 3D is the culprit, but it can be traced all the way back to this game, which just preceded Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Sonic 3D Blast

This was the game that technically made Sonic into a 3D hero. It was made under a different developer than Sonic Team, and you have to give them credit where it’s due: Sonic 3D Blast is REALLY well-made. It also recognized the fact that a lot of Sonic’s appeal was in exploring the expansive levels in the core series. But it was also a combination of a fetch quest and an escort mission, which is sin enough as it is, and the isometric presentation made all of Sonic’s signature abilities nearly useless. Even the loops Sonic runs through were forced into the game.

Super Thunder Blade

This sucker goes WAY back – it was one of the Genesis’s launch titles, but that’s about the only thing that warrants its continued posterity. It was there to show off the console’s wonder technology and that’s it. There are only four levels in Super Thunder Blade, presented in a third-person behind-the-chopper view. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the Genesis never did mode-7 scaling as well as the Super NES, so this game’s fast pace is betrayed by its clunkiness. It’s too hard to move, too hard to get a straight shot at anything, too hard to avoid crashing into the scenery, and battered by its age to boot. It can’t even be written off as a relic of its era, because Space Harrier II was also out there.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

Well, okay, Sonic’s spinoff puzzle game is more original than Dr. Mario. It’s also deeply frustrating and unfair if you’re trying to go through the story mode.

Virtua Fighter 2

Yes, I get that this was where the 3D fighter really caught on, and I aso get that it was Sega’s baby. The Super NES got a scaled-down version of Killer Instinct, and it was a lot of fun. This was meant to be a response to that. But where Killer Instinct and Virtua Fighter differed was in the fact that Killer Instinct’s primary strength was in its over-the-top dark humor, its accessible gameplay interface, and its easy Street Fighter II-like control scheme. Killer Instinct was still a 2D fighter no matter how much power it was packing, so the Super NES scaleback didn’t deprive the little version of its big personality. Virtua Fighter 2 Genesis took the godfather of 3D fighters and axed one of the defining features of the game, as well as the two new characters introduced in the game, Shun and Lion. So what the Genesis version of Virtua Fighter 2 was left with was an uninteresting block fighter with zero identifying markers are ways to stand out from the crowd – or ways to stand apart from the original Virtua Fighter. Why did Sega place this on its nostalgia packs instead of Eternal Champions?

Genesis Classic: A Game Collection People Would Actually Want

Genesis Classic: A Game Collection People Would Actually Want

Well, I’ve decided I’m not yet finished laying waste to Sega. If you didn’t hear, they recently gave a developer called AtGames permission to launch one of those mini classic consoles that were recently made all the rage by Nintendo. The result was the Sega Genesis Flashback, which will go down in gaming history as a ripoff, a gouging attempt, a typically bad Sega release strategy, and the work of a bullshit artist. I can’t say the Flashback sucks, because I haven’t yet played it. But I do know what the game list looks like, and that’s all I need to not only know I’m not interested, but to tell you everything Sega and AtGames fucked up about the thing.

Now, I want the mini Super NES Classic so badly that I consider the 80 percent markup price I’ve seen private collectors selling them for perfectly reasonable. I don’t want anything to do with the Flashback. Maybe things would be different if I didn’t already own a couple of different versions of the Flashback; the main problem with the Flashback is that almost every game on it was released multiple times in the past on Genesis compilation collections. And most of those collections have more impressive games than the Flashback. I own Genesis collections for the Playstation 2 and Xbox 360, and between the two of them, the Flashback is totally useless. The reason the NES minis caught on was because they included libraries of hard-to-find classics that get sold in used game stores for three figures. They also contain a wide variety of different games which includes work from second and third party developers. And since Nintendo is still in the hardware market, they haven’t released 700 different compilations of their old games. What has Sega done? Release compilation after compilation of the same games until you hate your Genesis favorites. They don’t bother with their third party classics or their rarities. Plus, they loaded up the Flashback with app games you play in the dentist’s waiting room. You want to know what games Sega SHOULD be putting onto a mini Genesis to make it as desirable as the Super NES Classic? Here is a sizable list of what Sega keeps missing – games that SHOULD be going onto a mini Genesis. (Here’s a quick note: For this list, I’m sticking with only the Genesis, not the Sega CD or the 32X, basically going by Sega’s unwritten rule and also to show how badly gamers are getting screwed.)

Toejam and Earl

Weird, wild, fun as hell, and coming with an option for a random world in which no two games would ever be the same, Toejam and Earl was like nothing else ever released. The story of two funky aliens looking to repair their spaceship, this game gave us two characters who could have been among the 16-bit Era’s strongest. Toejam and Earl as more or less an early sandbox game – it gave gamers complete control to go in any direction as far as the literal edge of the world. It had characters like Cupid, a talking carrot, giant hamster wheels, and wizards. It had weird power-ups and an incredible in-90’s vibe. The lad characters had franchise potential written all over them. What’s more, this game is hard to find now, and Sega hasn’t seen it fit to release on a classic collection.

Earthworm Jim

While an outstanding and memorable game on both the Genesis and Super NES, the Genesis version is the quintessential version because it contains a whole extra level. As for the game itself, much of what I just said about Toejam and Earl applies to Earthworm Jim: Weird, wild, fun as hell, strong lead character. We can also expand that list to include: White-knuckle, manic, intense, and hard as fucking rocks. Earthworm Jim’s challenge is infamous. By the second level, you’re in the depths of hell. The third level runs you through one of the most painful underwater levels of all time. Later in the game, you get to be the escort of a happy-go-lucky pooch that turns into a hulked-out beast if it falls into a pit, slug it out with a piece of snot in a bungie contest, and the game climaxes in a brutal spike-laden level called Buttville.

Contra: Hard Corps

Castlevania Bloodlines

By the time the Genesis came out, Contra and Castlevania were already popular commodities on the NES and Super NES. These two games were the Genesis entrants in both series, released to both audience and critical acclaim. It was the point where Genesis fans could tell their Super NES peers, “Yeah, how nice. We got one of those too!”

NHL ‘94

The Genesis was THE go-to console for sports games during its time, and NHL ‘94 holds a particularly high perch among the bunch. Gamers nowadays can afford to take their sports games for granted, but among gamers of my own generation, there are two sports games held almost sacred: One is Tecmo Bowl for the NES. The other is NHL ‘94 for the Genesis. The exalted status is held less for the accuracy than the sheer amount of unlimited fun we had exposing the game-breaking glitches and overpowered players. Tecmo Bowl had invincible Bo Jackson. NHL ‘94 had unstoppable Jeremy Roenick. NHL ‘94 also had goalies who could nearly kill players just by standing around, rowdy audience animations, the ability to score a goal by shooting while just skating by the goalie almost every time… Well, few sports games have reached this level of arcadey accessibility since. Hell, the entire sports genre doesn’t get there these days. The only post-16-bit game that approaches this level is ESPN NFL 2K5.

Gunstar Heroes

Here’s a hardcore action run and gun title that most people who played it would gladly dump Contra for.

Landstalker

Let’s be honest: The Legend of Zelda will always be THE LEGEND OF ZELDA. Always replicated, never duplicated. That didn’t keep anyone associated with Sega from trying, though, and reaping the fruits of their labors brought adventure RPG’s as deep and rewarding as any of Link’s games. The Genesis managed to produce a few gems in that area, most notably Landstalker and Beyond Oasis. Both of those games are amazing, but Landstalker is getting the nod here because Sega DID manage to find a brain for a minute and place Beyond Oasis on a compilation. While the triangular plane can take some growing used to, Landstalker was every bit as capable of bending minds as A Link to the Past.

Herzog Zwei

This is considered one of the forefathers of the real-time strategy genre. Are you into Starcraft? Fire Emblem? Advance Wars? Of course you are. And this is where the genre found its legs. (Well, this and Military Madness, if you owned a TurboGrafx-16.)

Disney’s Aladdin

Yes, it’s the funniest thing a game like Aladdin could be included on a list like this, especially if you know the reputation of movies turned into video games during the 16-bit Era. But Aladdin not only bucked the odds, but managed to turn into one of the Genesis’s iconic titles and one of the era’s great action platformers. With animation worthy of the movie itself (this game was animated by the same people who animated the movie), all your favorite tunes from the film, a level that took place inside Genie’s lamp, a sense of humor, and some of the tightest controls a gamer could ask for, and there’s a game which is not only fun, but far better-made than a game based on a movie has any right to be.

Eternal Champions

Sega’s attempt to go into fighting games isn’t going to make anyone forget about Street Fighter. Truth be told, I didn’t think Eternal Champions was great – the combo-free interface will probably put off a few purists. But a lot of people seem to love this game, and there are a lot of good reasons to love it. There’s a measure of internal strength which adds an element of strategy that makes up for the lack of combos, and you can’t press two buttons at the same time without running into a special move. The characters have some of the best designs in fighting games, ever; they all look like comic book heroes. But the thing that really pushed Eternal Champions above and beyond in the minds of most gamers is the training room and the option to create a level, complete with obstacles, all of your own.

Shadowrun

A dark horse title which people seemed to love or hate, Shadowrun offered a lot of open-world exploration along with a dark cyberpunk atmosphere.

Super Street Fighter II

We need to include the fighting game to end all fighting games in this collection. I know Special Champion Edition has its fans (myself included), but I’m going to go with the uber edition of this classic, which included four new characters.

Road Rash III

Today, driving games are all the rage because the technology makes it easy for designers maximize a console’s engine and provide plenty of tracks and cars for dedicated gamers to collect and drive. Back in the 16-bit years, though, driving games were a lot more hit or miss… Okay, well, let’s be honest: They were misses. Road Rash was one of the few series which managed to create a fun formula which got the most out of the Genesis, and it did so by adding a simple twist: It made a motorcycle race into a street brawl. A good way to let off steam, a good number of iconic driving titles these days owe a debt to Road Rash.

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition

This game was a title for those who wanted to enjoy sports games without the pesky trouble of the actual sports. NBA Jam took basketball and stripped it down to the bare essentials. Giving us a two-on-two game, it took all the fast action of a basketball game and gave it concepts like hot spots, power-ups, exaggerated dunks, secret celebrity players, and being On Fire. The controls used an arcade setup which included a turbo button and quick release shooting to maximize accessibility, and the Tournament Edition included better music than its predecessor and an option to include four players.

Thunder Force III

MUSHA

Air Buster

Although the Genesis is probably more celebrated for its contributions to sports gaming, it holds a dear spot in the hearts of shooter fans as well. The pantheon of available shooting games for the Genesis is second only to that of the shooter library on the TurboGrafx-16, so we need to include a set of shooting games made to show it off. Although the Super NES had better technological specs overall, Nintendo’s dirty little secret is that it had a slower processor than the Genesis, so shooting games on the Super NES would get marred with slowdown while the Genesis counterparts in the genre were smooth and uninhibited for a faster, more intense experience. There are three acclaimed titles which give a taste of what the Genesis can do with such a genre.

College Football USA ‘96

Yes, yes, everyone is keen on the Madden series, for reasons I will never begin to understand. And the Joe Montana Sports Talk series was a breakthrough in play by play. But if it’s football you want, you don’t necessarily have to settle for the NFL. You can go back to college and pretty much have your way with available teams and playbooks. This game was one of the first to really show the grand spectacle that is college football, with an offering of 108 teams, and if we’re trying to give away a sample of what the Genesis could do with sports titles, this one is more indispensable than anything a developer could do with an NFL license.

Rocket Knight Adventures

Sparkster: Rocket Knight Adventures 2

A pair of beloved and acclaimed platformers starring a possum named Sparkster who wore a knight’s armor and flew with a jetpack, these games have plenty of fans.

World Series Baseball

Before Sega went third party and started making the greatest NBA games on the planet, it had baseball locked up with this series. The dramatic view from the catcher’s eyes was a big deal at the time, and it still looks great today.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

An outstanding variation of a shooting game, this one is another open-world setting where you get to wander wherever the world lets you go, shooting up everything in sight while keeping your neighbors safe from an unending zombie horde. Zombies Ate My Neighbors has the sensibilities of any B-movie, and it takes itself about as seriously.

Notably, I haven’t played all of these, but they’ve all reached cult status in the hearts of 16-bit gamers. But here we have it: A good collection of breakthrough games and scarce games that Sega has seen it fit to ignore in the hopes that it can cash in on Sonic the Hedgehog re-releases for fucking ever. If Sega wants in on the mini-console gravy train, it would do well to take a page from Nintendo’s book and ask itself what its fans might have the most difficulty finding, and what games are really worth preserving for posterity.