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Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library December 2, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Basketball, Books, Education, Football, Internet, Media, Radio, Sports, Technology, TV, Video, Video Games.
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I photographed my copy of Guide to the SNES Library shortly after completing it Sunday

Two months and one day after completing Pat Contri‘s Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Librarywhich I reviewed here – my pre-order copy of the special edition of his Guide to the SNES Library arrived on my front porch.

Once again, the guide is as big as an educational textbook. Now that I think of it, this book is educational. There’s much to learn about the Super Nintendo Entertainment System within its 445 pages (plus a few pages listing Kickstarter contributors).

When I tweeted on Sunday that I finished reading, Pat wondered what my muscle gains were, considering the book’s heft. I replied thusly:

I was late in boarding the NES bandwagon, not getting a console until February 1990, over four years after its initial release in the New York Metropolitan Area. The Super NES, released on August 23, 1991, is a different story. Besides commercials, my first exposure to the console came at my friend Jessie’s house. I regularly played Super Mario World and F-Zero on her projection TV as 1991 gave way to ’92. After saving up part of the cost, my parents got a console for me and my sister Lauren in late January. In the months that followed, I spent many hours playing games, especially the aforementioned Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart (an 11th birthday present), and Mario Paint. I discovered all of Super Mario World’s exits and repeatedly watched the end credits. I would get emotional at the scene with the Yoshi eggs hatching. I successfully beat all cups in Super Mario Kart in all cc modes, and I loved the Rainbow Road theme. And as a weather buff, I had fun making radar loops with Mario Paint’s animation feature.

In nearly 28 years, I’ve amassed a collection of 46 Super Nintendo games. Reading this guide inspired me to add to that collection, at least somewhat.

Guide to the SNES Library chronicles all games released in North America and PAL territories in alphanumerical order, from 3 Ninjas Kick Back and The 7th Saga to Zool and Zoop. (Yes, those are their names.)

Pat Contri was not alone in reviewing the games. Returning from Guide to the NES Library are Asheton “Ashi” Phinney (I loved his alliteration, puns, and rhymes), Jim Evans, and Karen Niemla. The new recruits are Daniel Anderson, Daniel Greenberg, Dagan Moriarty, Kyh Yang, Alli Flanagan (who, like Pat, appeared in The Video Game Years), Pete Skerritt, and Mike Vito(12/14 UPDATE: Dagan, Kyh, and Pete also wrote reviews for the third edition of the NES guide.) Visual effects artist Yoshi Vu provided cart and hardware images, and additional cover art. The foreword was written by Jirard Khalil, a.k.a. The Completionist.

As with Guide to the NES Library, most pages in Guide to the SNES Library are devoted to two games. An image from one of the games is blurred in the background with two images from each game appearing above and below the review. The top of the page shows the games’ cartridge designs and lists their genre, release date, developer, publisher, number of players, special features, availability during the SNES’s life (from “very common” to “extremely rare”), and star rating. There are 10 ratings that range from half a star (one small star, “poor”) to 2 1/2 stars (two big stars and one small star, “average”) to 5 stars (five big stars, “classic”). Reviews can take up anywhere from a fifth of the page to a third of it, followed by the reviewers’ “reflections.” Reviewers are identified by their initials (i.e. PC, PS, AP, DG).

Eleven landmark titles with five-star ratings got full page reviews, including EarthBound, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World and its sequel, and Super Metroid. Those reviews take up more space on the page than regular half-page reviews. I only own four of the games out of those eleven, and only two that I listed here. Some five-star games only got half a page, such as Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, Super Street Fighter II, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. I have two of those, along with one that I didn’t mention. You’ll have to buy the book to find out which other five-star games were only on half a page and which got the full page treatment.

The tone of game reviews ranged from clinical to critical, but not in your face or obnoxious. I’m just glad the SNES versions of Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie weren’t treated as harshly. As I mentioned earlier, I currently have 46 SNES games, and I plan on buying some of the easier-to-obtain games in the book with ratings of 4, 4 1/2, or 5 stars to add to the collection. If they cost over $100, forget it. No Pocky & Rocky for me.

There were plenty of sports games released for the Super Nintendo that I read about. At the moment, I only have four: NBA Hangtime (which I also have on the Genesis and Nintendo 64), NBA Jam: Tournament Edition, True Golf Classics: Pebble Beach Golf Links and Super Bases Loaded. While reading about Midway games like NBA Jam, I learned who that the voice of most of those games was Tim Kitzrow. Besides NBA Jam, Tim also voiced the NFL Blitz series, which I enjoyed on the N64. He included video of an appearance on FOX Sports West on his website:

NBA Hangtime, Midway’s successor to NBA Jam, was voiced by longtime Bulls TV play-by-play announcer Neil Funk, who is retiring at the end of this season. Other TV announcers and analysts to lend their voices to sports games on the Super Nintendo are Al Michaels, Jack Buck, Pat Summerall, and of course, John Madden, to name a few.

After 400 pages of North American and PAL releases, there are chapters on special and promo cartridges, test cartridges, select games from the Japanese Super Famicom library, a look at some unreleased games (by Evan Gowan of SNES Central), and the SNES console and its accessories.

Guide to the SNES Library concludes with supplemental articles. Three of the articles were based on the authors’ YouTube videos. James Rolfe‘s “The Console Wars: SNES vs. Sega Genesis” was taken from a two-part video in 2012, which was combined into one part on the Cinemassacre Plays subchannel:

James and Pat Contri’s friendship dates back to their early days on YouTube. They’ve occasionally collaborated on videos. In fact, their latest went up on Saturday night:

Kelsey Lewin‘s supplemental article was on the Life Fitness LifeCycle Exertainment Bike, based on her video from last year:

In addition to her YouTube channel, Kelsey is the co-owner with her husband Cody of Pink Gorilla Games and co-director with Frank Cifaldi of The Video Game History Foundation. For you sports fans, Kelsey’s father is play-by-play announcer Josh Lewin. You may know him from his stints with the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers on TV, and the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Chargers, and UCLA Bruins football and men’s basketball on radio. Those and other credits can be found here.

And speaking of sports, the third article based on a video was Norman Caruso‘s Gaming Historian 2016 episode on Nintendo‘s ownership of the Seattle Mariners, which he posted as Nintendo was selling most of their shares. The episode had periodic quote readings by YouTubers, and Pat read a quote – in a sinister tone – from Fay Vincent, commissioner of Major League Baseball at the time of Nintendo’s purchase. Unfortunately, MLB forced the removal of the video, so I can’t embed it here.

As for the rest of the supplemental articles, Chris Kohler’s entry on the SNES CD-ROM originally appeared on Kotaku last September. Roger Barr, Andre Meadows, and Karen Niemla supplied original articles. It’s worth reading each article, especially the ones based on videos so you can see differences in text.

It took 19 days to read 445 pages of Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library. Once again, I kept a journal of how many pages I read per day. Dividing 445 by 19, I averaged about 24 pages a day. I mostly imagined my own voice in my head as I read the reviews, but I occasionally thought of certain public figures narrating them. I had Pat’s voice in mind when I read his reviews.

Guide to the SNES Library was another great read! Thanks to Pat Contri and his fellow reviewers Ashi Phinney, Daniel Anderson, Daniel Greenberg, Kyh Yang, Karen Niemla, Alli Flanagan, Jim Evans, Dagan Moriarty, Pete Skerritt, and Mike Vito.

For those that grew up with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, are collecting for it, or just want to learn about it, this book is a must. There are eight versions available for purchase ranging from $59.99 to $99.99, or $29.99 for just the digital download. I have the $79.99 special edition, but I recommend the physical/digital combo at $99.99. I should have bought that in the first place, but I didn’t mind paying an extra $10 yesterday for the digital download and paying the same price to download the NES guide. Having the books physically and digitally is the ultimate experience.

There will eventually be an Ultimate SNES Game Guide Collecting app for iOS and Android. I will update this post when it’s available.

Ryan and Mike at LIU Post, Teddy and Abe on exhibit October 30, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Art, Education, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV, Video.
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I concluded my Monday post this way:

With a pair of loose ends successfully tied up, it’s on to the next post, whenever that may come.

It turns out you only had to wait two days for the next post. The focus this time is another trip to LIU Post, including a stroll down memory lane as I recall my undergrad years.

I walked the campus with my friend, Ryan Grabow, who graduated with me in 2004:

I also had a chance encounter with another friend of mine, LIU Post artist-in-residence Dan Christoffel, leading to a tour of his latest art exhibit. More on that later.

For many years after graduating, Ryan Grabow had been living in Fort Myers, Florida, where he directed newscasts for two TV stations owned by Waterman Broadcasting. This year, he decided to look for the same position upstate in Orlando. He now directs the morning newscast at WOFL-TV, FOX 35 Orlando.

My trip back to LIU Post with Ryan, one week removed from Homecoming Weekend, was arranged in a text message conversation we struck up during Instrumental Invasion on Friday, October 18, after I played a song by the Rippingtons. As I wrote in my comprehensive recap:

… [M]y friend Ryan Grabow texted me after I played “Silver Arrows” by the Rippingtons. When he would appear on The Mike Chimeri Show 15 years ago, he’d always say “a ripping good time” whenever I played a Ripps song. Coincidentally, the next song I played was “Dear Friend” by Patrick Bradley, a fitting title.

You can watch the airchecks here:

Ryan told me he was driving up to New York for a week-long vacation and chose Monday the 28th as our day to hang out. He would pick me up at 10AM.

This was our first time at Post together in two years. I brought along my Nikon D5500 camera and the two CDs I made to alternate between for my show. As we listened to the music on the ride to Brookville, we told one another what we’d been up to lately and I provided commentary on what was happening in my show as each song played on the CDs.

Once we arrived on campus, Ryan acknowledged the change in color on the signs, which I had first seen ten days earlier and photographed a day later. Case in point:

He quipped that the speed bumps hadn’t changed. The reference was a running gag that originated with a TV production project: “Speed control: good idea or just plain nuts?”:

Naturally, our first stop after parking was WCWP, where we spoke to receptionist Janine Celauro, my mother Lisa’s bowling teammate, and Dan Cox, Director of Broadcasting.

Ryan’s next task was going to the bursar to update his alumni contact information. So, we walked north to Kumble Hall, passing signs with alumni names on them. One of them was Fred Gaudelli:

Fred is the executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and was inducted into the WCWP Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Another was Brian Kilmeade:

Brian, a Massapequa native, co-hosts Fox & Friends on Fox News Channel, hosts The Brian Kilmeade Show on Fox News Radio, and has authored a handful of books about American history. His latest is called Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History.

Passing Brian’s name reminded Ryan that he helps set up remote guests for Fox & Friends and other national Fox broadcasts for the aforementioned Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, and Fox Sports 1.

I photographed Kumble’s exterior before we walked inside:

Kumble was a place I visited when meeting with my academic advisor each semester. My aunt Robin Rose was an advisor in the 1990s and early 2000s, which is how I ended up at what was then C.W. Post. Her presence was invaluable. It helped that she knew so many faculty, which made things easier for me in my first two years. It turned out the place I had the most success, WCWP, didn’t require her connections.

The bursar’s office directed us to the Alumni & Employer Engagement building, which housed the campus bookstore while Ryan and I were students.

On the way, we stopped in the Crafts Center, home to ceramics:

Professor Frank Olt was among the faculty that was connected with Aunt Robin and she recommended one of his courses to me in my second semester when I switched out of photography. I couldn’t handle film development or manually setting aperture and F-stop. It was overwhelming. I thrived in ceramics, sculpting many works that semester. I would sculpt more works in the spring of 2002, after switching out of an intimidating journalism course, and fall of 2003, the only time the course was my first choice. Via grainy digital camera photos from 2003, here are a few of my works:

I don’t know what happened to those, but here is what I was able to find in my house this morning, starting with the first thing I ever made in 2000:

I called it “Hertz Fieldhouse” because I was inspired by Conseco Fieldhouse, the recently-opened arena in Indianapolis. Since I made an outdoor stadium, I should have just called “Hertz Field.”

Lastly, a piece I photographed on film in April 2000:

I hadn’t visited Frank Olt in years – he wasn’t there when Ryan and I walked the campus in 2017 – so we were both happy to see each other. I told him about the jazz shows I had been to recently: the aforementioned Rippingtons in March, David Benoit in June, and the Bob James Trio last November. I forgot to tell him about seeing John Scofield two weeks after Bob.

Frank and I posed for a picture as he sat at a pottery wheel:

I’m so glad to know Frank, and to have known his colleague Linda Marbach while she was a professor.

This was Linda in April 2000 with graduate student Ji-Hyun:

Frank directed me and Ryan to the back room where Dan Christoffel was situated. I hadn’t seen him since he attended his friend and fellow artist Charlie Fillizola’s exhibit at Wantagh Public Library in 2013; six years and two days before Monday, in fact. Dan told us that he was about to present his latest exhibit in the Steinberg Museum of Art on the lower level of the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library. Ryan would have to wait before updating his alumni contact info. Luckily, he didn’t mind.

Dan spoke to an audience of LIU Post art majors (at least, I think that’s what they were):

Shortly after Ryan and I came in, Dan had us introduce ourselves.

Here are some of Dan’s works, starting with Now He Belongs to the Ages on the Abraham Lincoln wing of the exhibit:

Unfortunately, I can’t make out the title on the left, but the painting on the right is Thinking Beyond:

Justice, a trompe-l’œil (deceive the eye) painting:

Two paintings of Walt Whitman: Oh captain, my Captain, inspired by Whitman’s poem after Lincoln’s assassination:

Walt Whitman in His Prime:

On to the Theodore Roosevelt wing:

In his deepest hour:

Colonel Roosevelt:

Sagamore Hill:

Nobel Prize:

Rough Rider:

At the Elk Horn Ranch, Dakota Territory:

1901 – A Very Young President:

A Young Assemblyman:

Fighting the Good Fight:

A portrait of Booker T. Washington to mark a milestone occasion: First Black Man to Have Dinner at the White House:

His Love of Reading:

Little Texas:

T.R. – His Wife and Mother Died on the Same Day; He Went out West to Deal with His Deep Grief:

The exhibit concluded with Taking the Bull by the Horns:

A Newsday article on Dan’s artistry:

A picture with Dan before departing:

Thank you, Dan, for inviting us to your exhibit. It was wonderful. I highly recommend the exhibit if you, the reader, will be at LIU Post in the near future.

Ryan and I made our way east to the Alumni & Employer Engagement building:

Leftover from Homecoming:

Ryan was given a notepad to write down his new contact information and that was that.

We took the scenic route back to Hillwood Commons:

Ryan stopped in the Arboretum Walk so I could photograph him with his iPhone for a Facebook post. I also took a photo with my camera:

Ryan has been inside The Doll House, but I never have:

Post Hall:

As an undergrad, the southwest corner of the building was home to the Academic Resource Center. It was my home away from home. I made many friends in the form of fellow students, directors, learning assistants, and annual social work interns. I remain in touch with some of them.

The northeast corner of Hillwood:

Before going up the stairs to the current campus bookstore, which was once home to the museum, we passed a sign that explained the presence of Dan Christoffel’s exhibit:

Once in the bookstore, I planned on buying a sky blue polo shirt that said “Long Island University,” convinced to buy one after seeing Jeff Kroll (right) and Neil Marks (left) sporting them during the Homecoming game:

I was hoping for a shirt that said “LIU,” but when I initially visited the bookstore ahead of my radio show, it seemed only shirts emblazoned with the full name were available. But seeing Jeff and Neil in the shirts convinced me to buy upon my return with Ryan. On this day, I searched the rack where the shirts hung to look for my size: medium. Once I saw the letter M, I blindly reached for the shirt, and was surprised to find the holy grail: an “LIU” shirt!

Meanwhile, Ryan bought a windbreaker that said “Long Island University,” something to wear on cool winter mornings in Orlando. I’m proudly wearing my “LIU” shirt as I write this post, and it will be part of my warm/hot weather rotation.

We made one more stop at WCWP to say goodbye to Dan Cox and Janine Celauro. I had Janine take our picture:

Coincidentally, our friend Bernie Bernard was on the display behind us.

Ryan planned on stopping at Wendy’s on Glen Cove Road in Greenvale, but it was closed for renovations. So, we proceeded to our next stop – Micro Center in Westbury – looking for a place to eat on the way. We settled on Applebee’s in Roosevelt Raceway Center. Inside, besides eating our entrees, we talked about Ryan’s job at FOX 35 Orlando, about former WCWP Director of Operations Joe Manfredi (now at SUNY Old Westbury where he serves as station manager for OWWR), and other things. We walked around Micro Center for 45 minutes, browsing but not buying. Ryan didn’t leave empty-handed, though, buying a few mouse pads.

Ryan was nice enough to take me grocery shopping at the Levittown Stop & Shop, then we hung out at my house for an hour. After talking about a few YouTube channels in the car, he recommended the channel Technology Connections. I chose a couple of videos to watch on the CED (Capacitance Electronic Disc). (A third video on the subject was released yesterday with a fourth still to come.)

After that, we said our goodbyes until his next visit. It was enjoyable 7 1/2 hours.

It’s always great to see you, Ryan. As I said on the air, you’re a dear friend. I hope you don’t mind that I dipped into the archives with the speed bump video.

My experience at Day 1 of 2019 New York Comic Con October 5, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Blu-ray, Broadway, Comedy, DVD, Internet, Media, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2018 Day 1

Thursday marked my fifth time at New York Comic Con, and third year in a row. It’s become tradition to attend, meet actors, and tour the show floor. NYCC is held annually inside the Javits Center in Midtown West.

I waited by my computer for about two hours back on May 5 to buy my Thursday badge. I didn’t know what guests would attend, but I found out a month later. The ones I was interested in meeting were Paul Reubens, James Arnold Taylor, Laraine Newman, Jennifer Hale, and Tom Kenny. Once again, this was my sole reason for attending because there weren’t any panels worth seeing.

One day removed from record heat, the weather that greeted me when I left my Wantagh home at 8:30 was cool and cloudy. As I stood on the LIRR station platform waiting for the 8:47 train, I briefly wished I brought gloves. Keeping with my train travel routine, I chose to sit in the first car. There were a few people seated ahead of me that were also on their way to New York Comic Con, but I didn’t want to bother them. I just listened to David Benoit and Friends and ate my protein bar with a can of orange seltzer.

The ride to Penn Station took about 45 minutes. When I exited at 8th Avenue and West 33rd Street, I greeted by persistent drizzle. It followed me all the way to the Javits Center. It took a while for the massive throng of attendees to get through security, but my search was quick and scold-less. After I was checked, I walked toward the entrance and then zipped my backpack compartments back up.

Once inside, I made my way to the autographing area:

It turns out there were two autographing areas: 1C and 1E. I was looking for Paul Reubens’ table in 1C, but he was actually in 1E. So, I walked toward there and waited in line at his table. Thank you to the staff members who aided me.

Like most 1980s children, I grew up watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse. I didn’t realize Pee-wee Herman was a character created and portrayed by Paul Reubens until the mid ’90s. That was the first time I saw Paul out of that character, on Murphy Brown.

I rediscovered Pee-wee’s Playhouse on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim in 2006, then rediscovered it again ten years later on Netflix. Watching it there wasn’t enough. I had to buy the series on Blu-ray, especially for the bonus features. I sometimes find myself quoting not just Pee-wee, but other series characters like Globey, Mr. Window (particularly when I see Lynne Marie Stewart [Miss Yvonne] on TV), Jambi, Pterri, Conky, Randy, and occasionally Clocky.

So, it was a thrill to meet Paul, albeit briefly, on Thursday morning. I told him I met Phil LaMarr last year. Phil played Cowboy Curtis in the Broadway run of The Pee-wee Herman Show. I had noticed Paul was making a surprised face while posing with attendees ahead of me, so I tried to do the same:

I look more shocked than surprised, but I still like it.

I returned to 1C to meet four voice actors:

First up was James Arnold Taylor:

I discovered James through Johnny Test, but learned more about his illustrious career through his website, JAT Vlogs on his YouTube channel, and appearance on the podcast Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen. I told him I liked how for his Fred Flintstone voice, he combined Alan Reed’s original portrayal with Henry Corden’s subsequent version. I also expressed my love as the voice of Fox’s Sunday primetime promos, to which he said he recorded the latest set of promos in his hotel room the night before. There was one thing I neglected to discuss. I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, but I am aware of an infamous cutscene he voiced as Tidus in Final Fantasy X. In the cutscene, Tidus let out a loud, wooden, staccato laugh: “haaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha!” James explained that scene in a March 2016 JAT Vlog:

I chose a character collage at his table to sign, and he wrote:

Mike – You’re awesome!!
James Arnold Taylor

5:05 PM UPDATE: James recorded another promo from his hotel room yesterday, as he shared on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

More promos in my makeshift padded room in my hotel while at @newyorkcomiccon

A post shared by James Arnold Taylor (@jatactor) on

After James, I moved one table to the right (his left) and spoke to Laraine Newman:

You may know Laraine from her days on Saturday Night Live, and I’ve seen a handful of sketches from that time, but I’m more familiar with her voice over work. She was Queen Jipjorulac, Mark Chang’s mother on The Fairly OddParents. Mark Chang was voiced by Rob Paulsen as an energetic surfer dude with awkward syntax (pronouncing assistance “ah-sis-TAHN-say,” for example). When Rob interviewed Laraine for Talkin’ Toons, she mentioned Histeria!, the Warner Bros. edutainment animated series they co-starred in. I was not aware of the series when it originally aired, but my curiosity was piqued after that interview. Unfortunately, unlike the other ’90s WB series, Histeria! was not yet on DVD. When it was finally released years later, I bought it, watching for the first time over the 2017 Christmas vacation. I loved it! So, it was that DVD that I brought to NYCC for Laraine to sign. She was thrilled. I told her how much I loved the show and loved her characters: Miss Information, a bubbly Southern tour guide with a penchant for getting things wrong, and Charity Bazaar, a sad girl who frequently lamented, “I’m not happy.” I said I sometimes find myself saying that in certain situations.

Laraine signed the following on my DVD:

To Mike (Heart)
Laraine Newman

Laraine and the aforementioned Paul Reubens, Lynne Stewart, and Phil LaMarr are all alumni of The Groundlings improv and sketch comedy troupe. It’s where Paul created Pee-wee Herman.

Jennifer Hale was next:

Jennifer has a wealth of video game credits, but I know her mostly for her work as Ms. Keane on The Powerpuff Girls, various characters on Johnny Bravo, and T.U.F.F. Puppy. Someday, I will play some of the games she appeared in.

As with James, I chose a collage for her to sign:

To Mike!
Jennifer Hale

And finally, Tom Kenny:

Of course, Tom is the titular character on SpongeBob SquarePants. I love that show, but also love Futurama, where Tom’s credits include the all-purpose commissioner Abner Doubledeal and Leela’s bland eye doctor boyfriend Adlai Atkins, and the aforementioned Johnny Bravo, where he played Johnny’s (Jeff Bennett) nerdy friend Carl Chryniszzswics (“cruh-SIN-uh-wits”). He was glad to hear Carl get some love at the convention, as one attendee ahead of me had a drawing of Carl. We talked about his co-star, the late Larry Drake, who voiced Pops. I even imitated Pops (“Hey, Johnny!”). Tom told me about Larry’s horror film background, which I wasn’t aware of but glad to learn. Prior to Johnny Bravo, I only knew him from L.A. Law.

I thanked Tom for taking the time to meet with everyone in line, as the line extended down to one of the panel “chutes,” requiring security to let people know which side was the panel chute and which was the line for Tom (or “SpongeBob,” as the guard said). I brought my copy of the eighth season of SpongeBob SquarePants for him to sign:

10-3-19
Mike Ahoy!
Best fishes from “SpongeBob”
Tom Kenny

Thank you to Paul, James, Laraine, Jennifer, and Tom. It was a pleasure to meet all of you. Thanks, as well, to Anissa and her eldest son James, who I met in Tom’s line. It was nice to meet you, too, and I hope we can stay in touch.

After nearly four hours in autograph land, I was ready to head for home, but not before touring parts of the show floor:

Within 20 minutes of walking the show floor, I exited the Javits Center:

25 minutes after that, I was back in Penn Station where I boarded the 3:03 Babylon-bound train, which was packed with commuters. The crowd thinned a little at Jamaica, then further at Rockville Centre, but a handful of passengers exited with me at Wantagh one hour later. I was once again in the first car, which meant that I was on the east end and exited above Beech Street. (The first car westbound is just west of Wantagh Avenue.) After walking 20 minutes in the mist, I was home.

Once inside, I unpacked and photographed my autographed merchandise and my badge (with the codes blurred out):

I hope to be back at New York Comic Con next year. In the meantime, thank you for viewing this post.

Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library September 13, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, DVD, Internet, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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A cropped photo of my copy after returning from day 1 of this year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo

Pat Contri was a name I’d heard of since I started regularly watching YouTube channels a few years ago, but I’d never seen his videos, listened to his podcasts, or bought his merchandise. My only exposure to him was the Angry Video Game Nerd episode he appeared in, which he wrote with series creator and star James Rolfe. My unfamiliarity dissolved after visiting Pat’s table last month at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. I got to meet him and his friend and colleague Ian Ferguson…:

…and I bought early episodes of the Pat the NES Punk YouTube series on DVD along with Pat’s comprehensive 2016 book: Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library.

As with Leonard Herman’s Phoenix IV last year, I vowed to read the Guide to the NES Library after the expo. After reading a couple of preface pages on the Uber ride home on August 10, I held off on the rest of the book until 12 days later, August 22. I had another day of the expo, photos to edit, a recap to write, cousins to hang out with while they visited for a few days, and a photo editing project for a friend. In my downtime, I worked my way through the three sets of DVDs. As I neared the end of the third set, my photo editing project was complete, which meant I could finally commit to Pat’s guide.

Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library is as big as an educational textbook and just as heavy. It’s 437 glossy pages long, but the last five pages are a list of the book’s financial backers. So, I read two more preface pages, then moved on to the main 432.

The book chronicles each and every game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America, from the numbered titles like 1942 and 8 Eyes to Zoda’s Revenge and Zombie Nation.

Pat is not alone in reviewing each game, as he is joined by Ian Ferguson, Asheton “Ashi” Phinney, Brett Weiss, Jim Evans, Joe Pingree, Karen Niemla, and Joey “Roo” DeSena.

Most pages are devoted to two games. An image from one of the two games is in the background while four images from each game are on the bottom. The top of the page shows the games’ cartridge designs and lists their genre, release date, developer, publisher, number of players, special features, whether the game is licensed or unlicensed, availability (from “very common” to “extremely rare”), and star rating. There are 11 ratings ranging from bomb (“awful and/or broken”) to 2 1/2 stars (“average”) to 5 stars (“classic”). Below that is the review, which can be a few short sentences in medium type or several paragraphs in small type. Then the reviewer, identified by their initials (i.e. PC, IF, JD), will add their “reflections.”

The landmark titles get their own pages with additional images. Such titles include the three Super Mario Bros. games, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II, the unlicensed Tengen version of Tetris, and Tecmo Super Bowl.

Following 387 pages of North American releases, the book concludes with PAL exclusive games, HES (Home Entertainment Suppliers) games, special and promo cartridges (i.e. Nintendo World Championships 1990), test cartridges, label variants, the NES console and its major accessories, supplemental articles, and images of unreleased games.

It took me 21 days to read 432 pages of Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library. Along the way, I kept a journal of how many pages I read each day. I started with 12, then 14, 18, 20, 24, and 50 and 53 pages on two of my last three days. For some games, I imagined certain public figures in my head reading in their voice. I thought of Bob Costas for baseball games, Mike “Doc” Emrick for hockey games, Ahmad Rashad for basketball ones, Jim Lampley for boxing, Liev Schreiber for football, David Feherty for golf, and even Matt Ezero for some games he evaluated in his LJN Defender videos. For reflections, in the case of Pat, Ian, and Roo, I imagined them reading for themselves.

When I wasn’t reading on the first 11 days, I finished Pat Contri’s DVDs, watched all ten episodes of The Video Game Years on Amazon Prime, and caught up on most of Pat’s non-podcast videos from 2012 to the present. That included all later Pat the NES Punk and Flea Market Madness episodes.

It was neat to read about games that I previously saw in Punk episodes, like Baseball Stars, Dance Aerobics, Sqoon, and Wall Street Kid. It was also satisfying to know that some games in my collection were uncommon, such as Wario’s Woods.

The tone of the book’s reviews range from clinical to overly critical. I was satisfied with all but three reviews: Tetris 2, Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White, and Yoshi’s Cookie. I liked those games growing up, getting plenty of mileage out of them. I treated Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie as endurance tests, playing until a game over. For Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White, I played solo, hitting select during the puzzle selection each round until I finally got a big one. That meant more money to win on the wheel. In …Guide to the NES Library, Tetris 2 and Yoshi’s Cookie were dismissed as lousy cash-ins. Wheel of Fortune: Featuring Vanna White was considered a step down from the Rare-developed games that preceded it. “Pat Sajak would not be pleased,” wrote Pat Contri in the reflections.

There were sporadic typos or word omissions, and (counting Console Wars author Blake Harris’s foreword) six instances of my pet peeve phrase “at the end of the day” (thank goodness there weren’t more), but ultimately, the book was a great read.

If you grew up with the Nintendo Entertainment System, are collecting for it, or you just want to learn about the console that revived the video game industry, buy this book, available for $59.99. You’ll love it. And when you’re finished with that, be sure to pre-order Pat’s next book, a Guide to the SNES Library, which will focus on the Super Nintendo’s games. It’s also available for $59.99, or you can buy the special edition for $79.99.

Lastly, there’s a $4.99 app called Ultimate Game Guide – on Android and iOS – which contains all NES games from all regions, as well as accessories and console variants. If you select a game, it includes the statistics and review from the book, though not the reflections. You can even keep track of the games you have in your collection, and go to Amazon or eBay to check listings for the ones you don’t.

11/13 UPDATE: The special edition of Pat’s Guide to the SNES Library arrived on my front porch yesterday. I will begin reading today and will dedicate a post to it when I’m finished, likely sometime next month.

12/3 UPDATE: Here is that post.

2019 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 14, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous LIRGE recaps: 2017 (Sunday), 2018

This is a long and comprehensive post, so buckle up.

Last weekend, I attended the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo for the third year in a row and my second year for both days.

John Hancock and The 8-Bit Guy weren’t at LIRGE this year, but making return appearances were Bob Neal from RetroRGB, Jeremy Parish of Retronauts and Video Works, Kurt Kalata and Rob Russo of Hardcore Gaming 101, and video game historian and author Leonard Herman.

Among those appearing for the first time were Frank Cifaldi of the Video Game History Foundation, Pat Contri (a.k.a. Pat the NES Punk) and Ian Ferguson of the Completely Unnecessary Podcast and The Video Game Years, and the My Life in Gaming duo of Coury Carlson and Marc “Try4ce” Duddleson (as in the Triforce from The Legend of Zelda).

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo is held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum along Museum Row in East Garden City, as indicated by these signs I took on the way there Saturday morning:

Based on the “date taken” info of the above pic, I arrived at the museum at 10:09. Before getting in line to get inside, I photographed a historic marker:

The weather outdoors was much better this year: sunny, warm, and comfortable. You could leave the rain gear at home or in your hotel room.

While on line, I passed a trailer with arcade machines inside:

This was the only time I noticed it. I was focused on what was in the museum.

I set foot inside Cradle of Aviation half an hour after arriving:

The rest of this post is divided into four parts:

  1. Panels
  2. Meeting and Greeting
  3. Pictorial Tour
  4. Pickups

Part One: Panels

After walking around the first floor for nearly 15 minutes, I made my way into the theater planetarium for the first panel:

It was Jeremy Parish (center) along with Kurt Kalata (right) and Rob Russo (left):

Titled “Love for the Unloved,” the trio discussed several underappreciated consoles, accompanied by Powerpoint slides.

Before we see the slides, here are close-ups of Jeremy:

Kurt:

…and Rob:

A few wide shots:

The slides of underappreicated consoles:

The slide for the Bandai WonderSwan went up, but they didn’t have time to discuss it:

9/26 UPDATE: The expo’s YouTube channel has posted video of the panel:

Next to speak was…

Frank introduced himself…

…and his work with Digital Eclipse…

…before moving on to the main topic:

Frank is pictured with Kelsey Lewin, who was at Game On Expo in Phoenix, Arizona, that weekend hosting a similar panel:

The last 35 minutes of the panel were Q&A:

10/10 UPDATE: Video of the panel was posted today:

I spent the next two hours touring the exhibits, buying games from vendors, meeting and greeting Frank Cifaldi, Coury and Try, Pat and Ian, and Leonard Herman. You’ll see photographic evidence in parts two and three. I made time in between to eat a few snacks from the Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Red Planet Café.

Pat and Ian had a panel after Frank’s, which you can hear in part in the latest Completely Unnecessary Podcast, starting 17 minutes in.

Then, it was on to Leonard’s panel, which was in Panel Room 2:

Leonard talked about the late Ralph Baer and Ted Dabney, and the friendships he developed with them.

After arriving on Sunday, I tried out Ralph Baer’s Brown Box with a man named Jeff:

I played poorly, but had a good time.

There were two panels that I attended on Sunday. First, the My Life in Gaming RGB Master Class:

As noted earlier, My Life in Gaming is run by Coury Carlson:

…and Marc Duddleson, better known as Try:

Coury and Try periodically ran excerpts from upcoming episodes profiling figures in the fields of video game modding, repair, and history:

Bob from RetroRGB, who was seated next to me, was included, but I kept his screenshot out of this post since he told me he didn’t like how he looked.

I found those excerpts enlightening. It put faces and voices to names I’d heard of in previous episodes. I was already familiar with Bob, Kevin, Frank, Ste, and Dan.

The excerpts can be seen in this unlisted link.

Time for Q&A:

I asked what it was like shooting the M2 documentary, seen here:

(NOTE: Unless you’re fluent in Japanese, I suggest selecting “English – Japanese Translation” in the CC [closed captioning] settings.)

More Q&A shots:

Coury made the panel available for listening here. (My attempts to embed it failed.)

After exiting the theater, Bob talked shop with fans:

10/30 UPDATE: Video of most of the panel (ending abruptly after 57 minutes) was posted today:

The second panel I went to on Sunday, my last of the weekend, was Jeremy Parish, Frank Cifaldi, and Coury Carlson:

It was like the finale of a revue where all the acts return to play together.

After introducing themselves for those that hadn’t seen their other panels, Jeremy, Frank, and Coury talked about what avenues are available for playing old video games.

Close-ups of Jeremy:

Frank:

…and Coury:

Wide shots:

Part Two: Meeting and Greeting

I caught up with Frank Cifaldi after his Saturday panel. I told him I was in a similar situation preserving photos, videos, and documents digitally. Then, Try took our picture:

After that, Frank took a picture of me with Coury and Try:

I caught up with Leonard Herman his table before his panel:

I was finally introduced to Pat Contri:

…and his colleague Ian Ferguson:

I spent a lot of time at the table shared by Coury, Try, Pat, and Ian, along with Ian’s wife Vani. I watched as fans came by to meet them and had in-depth conversations with them. The topics ranged from games to travel to video production to my running. Coury was surprised that I had run 8.8 miles early Sunday morning.

I briefly spoke to Bob Neal from RetroRGB once I got back to the table after the RGB Master Class and Try took our picture:

Following my last panel, I briefly spoke to Jeremy Parish, complimenting him on his recently-wrapped Virtual Boy Works series. After 21 proper episodes on the 22 releases (13 in North American and Japan, 9 exclusive to Japan), he posted this retrospective:

Ryan, a staff member I grew accustomed to in the theater planetarium, took a picture of me and Jeremy before I left for the weekend:

Part Three: Pictorial Tour

This is a pictorial tour through all three floors of the expo, starting on the first floor:

This game is actually part of the museum, unaffiliated with the expo:

The second floor:

Among the musical performers were the band Consoul, who played music from several video games:

At the time, they were playing the main theme from Super Mario 64. For reference, here is the original music:

…and the third floor:

Meanwhile, the Long Island Tabletop Gaming Expo was occurring on the other side of the museum:

Next year, the Tabletop Gaming Expo will be held separately on April 18.

Time to go:

A parting shot:

Part Four: Pickups

Saturday’s pickups:

Sunday’s pickups:

Yes, even these count as pickups:

Summing up in writing, the pickups were:

Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy
  • American Gladitators
  • Blades of Steel
  • The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout
  • Golf
  • Gyromite
  • Gradius (“GRAHDius”)
  • The Legend of Kage (“KAH-ghay”)
  • Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf
  • Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
  • R.C. Pro-Am
  • Super C
  • Track & Field
  • Track & Field II

I played Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! at friends’ houses, but never had that version. I only had plain Punch-Out!! with Mr. Dream replacing Tyson after the licensing agreement wasn’t renewed. Now, I have the original. I don’t have R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), but that won’t stop from using two controllers to play Gyromite. I already do it with sports games.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • Gradius III
  • Paperboy 2
  • Pilotwings
  • Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
  • Saturday Night Slammasters
  • Wario’s Woods
  • Zoop

I had Pilotwings 64 for the Nintendo 64, but never the original for Super NES. My sister took Wario’s Woods to her new apartment a couple of months ago, so I bought a new copy to replace it. Paperboy 2 is worth getting for the music alone, as seen in Jeremy Parish’s review last June:

Sega Genesis:

  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
  • Paperboy
  • Road Rash
  • Shaq-Fu
  • Super Monaco GP
  • WWF Super WrestleMania

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker was my most expensive pickup; more than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist last year. I remember Super Monaco GP in the arcade room at Baldwin Lanes. According to Joe Redifer of Game Sack, the Genesis port is better than the original. (Since I cued the video to the relevant portion, I can’t embed it.) I bought a loose cart on eBay in 2016, but I now prefer to have Genesis games in their original boxes. So, I bought one in its box on Sunday. The same goes for Columns. I bought Super WrestleMania to complement the Super NES port I’ve had since childhood. Coincidentally, today marks 30 years since the Genesis was released in North America. Last October 29 was the 30th anniversary of the initial Japanese release as the Mega Drive. And last Tuesday marked 25 years since I purchased a Genesis of my own. It was the Sega Sports bundle with a seat cushion and NFL Football ’94 Starring Joe Montana.

Microsoft Xbox:

  • Tetris Worlds

I played the Game Boy Advance version a lot in the mid 2000s. I never knew it was ported to other consoles. I like to collect Tetris games for as many consoles as I can. I even bought the unlicensed Tengen arcade port for NES that predated Nintendo’s official version. It reminded me of playing the arcade machine at Kutscher’s Resort and Country Club in March 1995.

Non-games:

  • The Legend of Zelda official keychain
  • My Life in Gaming pin
  • My Life in Gaming sticker
  • Night Trap: 25 Years Later (Blu-ray) (signed by Coury and Try)
  • Pat the NES Punk, Volumes 1 to 4 (DVDs) (all signed by Pat)
  • Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library: 1985-1995 (signed by Pat, Ian, and Frank)
  • The Video Game History Foundation sticker
  • Phoenix IV bookmark

Pat’s merchandise is available here. As with Phoenix IV last year, I will review Ultimate Nintendo when I finish reading it. And I’m enjoying Pat’s DVDs. (8/31/19 UPDATE: I enjoyed them. I watched later videos on Pat’s YouTube channel, as well as all ten episodes of The Video Game Years on Amazon Prime Video.)

This was another successful and enjoyable year at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. Thank you to everyone I met, met again, and bought from. Until next year.

My experience at Day 1 of 2018 New York Comic Con October 5, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Art, Audiobooks, Baseball, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Media, Personal, Photography, Sports, Technology, Travel, TV, Video, Video Games, Weather.
4 comments

Other New York Comic Con recaps: 2012 Day 22014 Day 1, 2017 Day 1, 2019 Day 1

Yesterday marked my fourth time at New York Comic Con, held annually at the Javits Center in Midtown West. It was also my second consecutive year at NYCC.

I’d been looking forward to going ever since I bought my badge in June. Grey DeLisle (a.k.a. Grey Griffin), Phil LaMarr, and Richard Horvitz were among the voice actors that would be signing autographs, recording video or audio messages, and taking pictures with fans like me. Like last year, this was my sole reason for attending. None of the panels interested me.

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. I spent the next three hours watching the American League Wild Card Game on DVR (the Yankees won handily), a couple of episodes of season six of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In on Amazon Prime, working out, and of course, getting ready to leave for the day.

My mother drive me to the Wantagh LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) station at 8:30 for an 8:47 westbound train. When I went there last Saturday on the way to see Chieli Minucci & Special EFX at The Cutting Room, the elevated track platform was partially closed off while the west half of it was being renovated. Little did I realize that renovation would complete two days later. Finally, after two years, when boarding a Babylon-bound LIRR train at Penn Station, you no longer have to ask if you’re in one of the six cars that lets out at Wantagh. When the east half was being renovated, only the last six cars could exit. When the west half was under renovation, you had to be in one of the first six cars.

I didn’t feel like taking out my DSLR until I got to the Javits Center, so I used my iPhone to take pictures on the platform:

It felt good to sit in the first car again.

The train ride to Penn Station took nearly an hour. Upon exiting, I walked up West 33rd Street to 10th Avenue, then north to West 35th to enter the Javits Center’s south side:

I endured a quick bag search (including emptying my pants pockets and holding up the contents) and tapped my badge in. Unfortunately, I was scolded for not moving beyond the area where the badge was tapped when I replenished my pants pockets. I felt like a fool, but felt better when I got inside and relayed my situation to an empathetic staff member when she asked if I needed help finding something.

Off to the autographing area:

I was third in line to meet Grey DeLisle at Table 1 after waiting about 45 minutes before her scheduled arrival.

As she and Richard Horvitz arrived, they spoke to each other in their respective voices on The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. Richard was Billy and Grey was Mandy.

Grey was very nice. In my brief time with her, I told her I’d been a fan of hers since Clifford the Big Red Dog and three Butch Hartman cartoons – The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom, and T.U.F.F. Puppy. She did the voices of Emily Elizabeth (Clifford) and Vicky (FOP) for me, which led me to respond as Mark Chang, voiced by Rob Paulsen, whom I met last year. Then, we posed:

After we said our goodbyes as Vicky and Mark, I headed to Table 6 for Phil LaMarr:

I let him know how the chronological order in which I’d seen his work: FuturamaFamily Guy, MADtv reruns on Comedy Central, and Butch Hartman’s Bunsen Is a Beast. He was complimentary of Bunsen, and I lamented that it was a shame the show was canceled after only one season.

I concluded at Table 3 with Richard Horvitz:

We didn’t have time to chat, but I’m still glad to have met him. Shortly before our picture, I saw him record a video message for a fan as Zim from Invader Zim. As with his conversation with Grey as Billy and Mandy, it put a smile on my face and made me laugh. I applauded when he was finished.

After that, I headed back to civilization, so to speak…

…and walked the show floor:

I happened to pass by the SYFY Wire stage…

…as Cher Martinetti spoke to the creator/showrunner and cast of the new Netflix series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
\

The creator/showrunner is Noelle Stevenson, who was accompanied by Aimee Carrero (Princess Adora/She-Ra), Karen Fukuhara (Glimmer), and Marcus Scribner (Bow).

You can watch the interview here:

I commented on the video:

I walked by the stage during this interview. I was curious about this series after seeing The Power of Grayskull documentary, but now I’m all in. I’ll definitely be watching.

11/20 UPDATE: I have unfortunately fallen off the bandwagon. While I wish nothing but the best for the series, it plays out like a soap opera, and I’m more into episodes with self-contained plots. I don’t know how I would have managed watching the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons when they were new with story arcs lasting several weeks. The “Jet Fuel Formula” arc took 20 weeks, “Upsidasium” lasted 18 weeks, and “Missouri Mish-Mash” played out over 13 weeks. Now, back to the recap…

I pre-ordered Mega Man 11 for PlayStation 4, but have yet to play it.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is on my Xbox One wish list:

Having seen all I wanted to see on the show floor, I headed down to the main entrance:

Then, I left:

It’s a good thing I didn’t wear a jacket because it was warmer than it had been in the morning.

Within 20 minutes, I was back at Penn Station, where I boarded a Babylon-bound train. An hour later, I was back in Wantagh.

I walked about a mile and half home, listening to Marion Ross’s memoir on Audible along the way.

Once I had unpacked my things at home, I took a picture of my badge (blurring out the codes):

It was a nice few hours at New York Comic Con. Thank you to Grey DeLisle, Phil LaMarr, and Richard Horvitz. It was a pleasure meeting you all.

Leonard Herman, Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry September 13, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Technology, Video, Video Games.
1 comment so far


Posing with Phoenix IV moments after completing it

One of the last things I picked up last month at the annual Long Island Retro Gaming Expo was Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry by Leonard Herman.

Leonard co-hosted a panel with The Immortal John Hancock on the second day of the expo.

Copies of Leonard’s book were available in the vendor hall, so I bought one for him to sign. On the dedication page (“This book is dedicated to my friend & mentor Ralph H. Baer”), he wrote:

To Mike,

Best Wishes

Leonard Herman

In my recap of the expo, I noted that I would read Phoenix IV from cover to cover, no matter how long it took. I kept my word. It took 31 days to read the blurbs, forewords, introduction, 43 chapters, four appendices, endnotes, and the About the Author page. In all, I read 781 pages between August 12, the day after the expo, through Tuesday. My copy was the black and white paperback edition. The color hardcover edition is slightly longer in duration with more illustrations.

The “IV” in Phoenix IV indicates that it is the fourth edition of a book Leonard first released in 1994. The original title was Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Home Videogames.

Phoenix IV is a treasure trove of information, spanning from 1951 to 2015 (with the endnotes extending into 2016). Leonard introduced facts and figures that I’d never known about while also providing a trip down memory lane. I recalled my experience with certain games and consoles, and where I was in my life when they launched. I learned more about certain events in video game history, as well as video game consoles and accessories, including lesser-known consoles like the Coleco Adam. I found out that the Atari 2600 was first called the VCS (Video Computer System) and didn’t take its numeric name until the 5200 was released years later. I got used to the initials SCE to describe Sony Computer Entertainment when the various PlayStation consoles were referenced. I was educated on the yen-to-dollar ratio in a given year for Japanese console, game, and accessory prices.

There’s so much more to learn about when you read Phoenix IV. My only complaint is it has occasional typos and formatting errors, but if that’s my only complaint, then you know it’s a great book. It’ll take a while to read, but it’s a journey worth taking.

Thank you, Leonard.

2018 Long Island Retro Gaming Expo recap August 13, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Internet, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Technology, Travel, Video, Video Games, Weather.
2 comments

Last year marked my first time at the annual Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, held at the Cradle of Aviation Museum along Museum Row in East Garden City. I was only there for two hours, though. This year, I deeply immersed myself in the event, buying a weekend pass back in March. I did that after learning that legendary video game collector and educator The Immortal John Hancock would be there:

If that wasn’t enough, David Murray, The 8-Bit Guy, would be back, as well. And on behalf of Retronauts, Jeremy Parish was there. I’ve only listened to one podcast so far, but I regularly watch the Works series of videos for NES, Super NES, and Game Boy on Jeremy’s YouTube channel.

Hancock, 8-Bit Guy, and Parish all had panels on Saturday afternoon in the museum theater. Before I did anything else, I made sure to sit in on those panels.

I left for the Cradle of Aviation Museum at 10:20. A light rain fell in the wake of thunderstorms that plowed through an hour earlier. By the time I arrived, there was only drizzle. I had to wait in line to present my ticket and get wristbands for both days. While waiting, I photographed a couple of historic markers:

…and the museum exterior:

Once inside, attendees were greeted by this sign:

My home for the next four hours:

First panel up, Jeremy Parish (center) with Kurt Kalata (left) and Rob Russo (right) of Hardcore Gaming 101:

Kurt plugged the appearance a few days ago on the site.

The topic was the history of Super Joe in Capcom games, including Commando and Bionic Commando.

Jeremy Parish:

Kurt Kalata:

Rob Russo:

The lone picture I took with my iPhone X all weekend:

The panel wrapped up with Q&A.

Afterward, I got to meet Jeremy, letting him know how much enjoy his videos. Then, we posed for a picture:

He let me know what the next episode of Super NES Works would be about, including the correct pronunciation of one of the words in the title.

8/15 UPDATE: The episode is about Darius Twin, with “Darius” pronounced like “Elias,” but with an “R” instead of an “L”:

Jeremy explained the pronunciation in a pinned comment below the video:

Fun fact about this video: I looked up the pronunciation of Darius to make sure I got it right. So anyone who posts a comment to “correct” it will be (1) wrong and (2) sent to the salt mines for a life of hard labor.

For the next panel, The 8-Bit Guy talked about the demo scene:

For Q&A, someone asked how David’s Planet X3 game for DOS was coming along.

He showed us:

A few more questions and answers followed.

8/14 UPDATE: I recorded all the panels for personal use, but in the case of David’s presentation, to vidcap anything I couldn’t get with my DSLR. Here are those vidcaps:

David stuck around to watch the third panel of the day: The Immortal John Hancock:

John shared his backstory, discussed collecting, and of course, took Q and gave A.

John’s video game binder:

The panel concluded with a group shot, which was one of a few pics posted to John’s Facebook and Twitter pages:

After leaving the theater, I met up with David and John at their booths. David’s wife Leslie took our picture:

…and The Eternal Sarah Hancock took my picture with John:

8/14 UPDATE: In his latest YouTube video, John reflected on his time at the expo and shared some of his oddball game pickups:

On the upper left and right corners of the screen, he mixed in B-roll from the first and second floors. The group shot is the video thumbnail and was also shown in the upper left in the last 30 seconds.

Before my shopping spree, I walked all three floors, taking pictures along the way. We start on the first floor:

Second floor:

The music of Super Thrash Bros.:

LAN play on the third floor:

Here’s the end result of my shopping:

When I got home, I photographed my pickups.

Sega Saturn:

  • Console with cables and two controllers (second bought separately)
  • Daytona USA
  • Sega Rally Championship
  • NBA Jam Extreme

I was so proud to finally get a Saturn and games for it. I have fond memories of playing Daytona USA, among other games, at my cousins’ house in Massapequa.

Super Nintendo:

  • Aladdin
  • Killer Instinct
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

Sega Genesis:

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist

Nintendo Gamecube:

  • Super Smash Bros. Melee

Nintendo Wii:

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1

Nintendo Wii U:

  • New Super Luigi U
  • Super Mario Maker

And from The 8-Bit Guy’s booth, I bought a pair of Retro Grooves cassettes by Anders Enger Jensen, whose music can be heard in David’s videos.

I will be getting these in MP3 form by e-mail, but for now, I used my Sony TC-WE305 cassette deck – which I bought in 2004 for digitzing my WGBB shows – to record both sides of each cassette to my computer, via Adobe Audition 3.0, and save the tracks separately. I love them.

I spent a couple of hours editing Saturday’s pictures and then went to sleep.

I left a half hour earlier yesterday morning, attaching my Sunday wristband beforehand.

The Long Island Retro Gaming Expo runs concurrently with the Long Island Tabletop Gaming Expo. I didn’t walk through the section on Saturday, but I made up for it when I walked in yesterday:

John brought his R2-D2 from the Tabletop area to the vendor hall:

After John delighted kids with his astromech droid…

I asked if he could pose for a pic. He obliged:

When I finished shopping from vendors on Saturday, I thought that was it. But I wanted more, and got more yesterday morning before the one panel I planned on attending: Leonard Herman and John Hancock, the latter of whom I saw with a couple of the vendors I bought from.

Leonard and John covered many topics in their 11AM panel:

Their backstories, how they met, video game history, Leonard’s history books (such as the latest, Phoenix IV: The History of the Videogame Industry), and Leonard’s stories about Ralph Baer and Ted Dabney.

It ended with a lengthy Q&A.

I learned so much during the panel. Afterward, I bought Leonard’s book from one of the vendors and he signed it for me.

To Mike,

Best Wishes

Leonard Herman

I look forward to reading Phoenix IV from cover to cover, no matter how long it takes.

That counts as one of my pickups, which I photographed when I got home around 1:45:

As for the games I picked up…

Nintendo Entertainment System:

  • Double Dragon
  • Mega Man 3

Nintendo Game Boy:

  • Alleyway

Sega Genesis:

  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Sega Saturn:

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links
  • WWF In Your House

Sony PlayStation:

  • Tekken

Sony PlayStation 2:

  • Tekken 4
  • Tekken 5

Nintendo Wii U:

  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition

At home, I bought the Action Replay 4M Plus for Saturn, and six more games on eBay: three for Genesis (World of Illusion, Quackshot, Rocket Knight Adventures), two for Saturn (Virtua Fighter Remix, Virtua Fighter 2), and one for N64 (Yoshi’s Story).

I’m so glad I was more involved in the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo this year. Thank you to everyone I met, met again, and bought from. Until next year.

10 years of blogging! April 15, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Personal, Technology.
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13 years ago, I created MikeChimeri.com, which was a WYSIWYG site created in software called Yahoo! Sitebuilder. One of the pages on the site was “News from Mike.” Before I knew what a blog was, I used that page to periodically update visitors on the latest events in my life. Over the next three years, I learned what a blog was, learned that WordPress was a common site for blogging, and decided to create my own blog.

Ten years ago this evening, The Mike Chimeri Blog was born. I published four posts that evening. I linked to the first two sentences ago, but here are the second, third, and fourth posts.

I kept MikeChimeri.com up for four years before deciding to merge that site with the blog. I completed that merger on May 14, 2012. As I wrote that day…

The Mike Chimeri Blog is now the new MikeChimeri.com. This change was two months in the making. Resources from the old MikeChimeri.com were moved here, the domain was transferred to a different host, and the nameservers were transferred to WordPress. It’s the old MikeChimeri.com pages and files combined with The Mike Chimeri Blog pages, posts, and files.

But don’t worry. You can still reach this site from the old mikechimeriblog.com domain. You’ll just be redirected.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading The Mike Chimeri Blog and the current MikeChimeri.com for the last ten years.

The end of the Wii Shop March 21, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Personal, Technology, Video, Video Games.
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The Wii Shop Channel on the Nintendo Wii is closing for good on January 30, 2019. Next Monday is the last day to buy points to download Virtual Console and WiiWare titles in the shop. Buy now. You have until 4PM ET/1PM PT that day. 3/27 UPDATE: Points can no longer be purchased.

I didn’t know about the Wii Shop’s fate until last Thursday when the YouTube channel My Life in Gaming, run by Coury Carlson and Marc “Try4ce” (or just “Try”) Duddleson, posted this video:

The video highlights select Virtual Console games from retro consoles and arcades, as well as select WiiWare titles. Each console segment has a guest selection from other YouTubers. Those YouTubers are Jonathan Williams a.k.a. The 8-Bit Duke, John Linneman from Digital Foundry, G Gracin III of G to the Next Level, Joe Redifer of Game Sack, Derek Alexander of Stop Skeletons from Fighting, Anthony Cavallo a.k.a. AntDude, Chris Alaimo who runs the Classic Gaming Quarterly channel, and Erin Plays.

$1 is equal to 100 Wii Shop points. Points are sold in $10 increments between $10 and $50, plus tax.

I was reluctant to buy points for the first few days after the video went up. I had