October Reader Mail: ’90s Nostalgia

One of the nicer things about not paying to promote my blog is that I have been able to slowly grow and maintain a more personal and intimate group of readers over time. On the flip side, I’ll see articles about certain bloggers and YouTube content creators making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars doing what they do, and I’ll think to myself, “I need to do that!”

Whether that’s a healthy thought or not, I received this email earlier this month that not only made me smile, but gave me some assurance that I’m not wasting my time:

Hey Mike!

I was listening to the latest IGN Game Scoop! podcast today, and they were celebrating their 18th anniversary, as well as the Nintendo 64’s release day too (September 29, 1996). It really reminded me of your blog postings.

I have never really been a big Nintendo fan, but listening to the show gave me a deeper appreciation for Nintendo.

18 years ago, I was competing in local Doom LAN contests on PC and playing console games on the original PlayStation. Since I didn’t have an N64, I basically missed out on Mario Kart 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time & Majora’s Mask, Super Smash Bros, GoldenEye 007, and many others.

I think the only games I played extensively were (a) Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which was one of my friend’s favorite games at the time, and (b) Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which another friend of mine did speedruns on. For some reason, when Conker would curse or torture the other animals, it would crack her up to no end.

And now that I think about all of that, it’s very strange to me. The N64 almost feels like it never existed in my world. I played a bunch of Super Nintendo (in particular, Street Fighter II), the GameCube (Luigi’s Mansion, Animal Crossing, etc.), and the Wii, but other than the funky-looking controllers, I can barely recall what the actual console looked like.

Maybe it was because the N64 was slotted between my PS1 and PS2 purchases, or the fact that I was more active back then. Who knows, but I do know that I like your blog a lot. It makes me feel nostalgic for the days of going to Electronics Boutique, Kay Bee Toys, etc., when I would just eyeball all of the clamshell cases on display. Just really super carefree times. Keep up the awesome work!


Thanks so much for that, Brian! I’m really happy to hear that you enjoy the blog. I totally hear what you’re saying on missing out on consoles almost entirely. I wrote early on about never owning an NES, and even though I played a lot of games on it back in the day, it wasn’t the same as having it in our home, playing it whenever I wanted, and spending the time to truly master its games.

I do have to take a step back and be thankful, though, that I have been fortunate enough over the years to have either bought or been gifted most consoles and gaming platforms. While systems like the 3DO and Neo Geo were cost-prohibitive at the time, I owned many of the other major systems for each generation. I even had a Neo Geo Pocket Color at one point, albeit rather briefly.

Much of what you said about the N64 mirrors what I’m going through right now. We’re 1-2 years into the current generation of consoles, and the only one I own outside of handhelds and PC is a Wii U. I’ve historically been an early adopter, but dropping what would be close to a grand or more on two more consoles and a small handful of games isn’t something I’m ready to do yet, even though I really do want to play games like Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, and Infamous: Second Son.

By the same token, it’s also alarming how behind I am when it comes to games. There’s no conceivable way I could ever play all the titles I want to in my lifetime, many of which are still waiting for me from the 8-bit and 16-bit generations. My personality is such that it’s difficult to just say “Oh well, forget it!” and move on. Easier said than done. So, I try to make it about the quality of my gaming time vs. quantity. While I might not be able to play everything out there, I want to play the best of everything out there. Again, easier said than done, right?

I also like what you had to say about checking things out in retail stores. As much as I love the convenience of ordering things online, I do miss that unmistakable feeling of walking into a store, heading into the game aisle, and looking at all of the game boxes. The Sega Master System sections were so small!

I can close my eyes and still remember precisely where the games were at the Toys R Us in Huntington Beach, CA. You had to take the slip of paper for the game you wanted, pay for it at the register, and then head over to their big, locked cage at the front where they would fetch it for you. I always liked that slightly delayed sense of gratification, and I’d always worry that they wouldn’t be able to find the game in question. I guess it was the modern equivalent of an online order not arriving on your doorstep when it’s supposed to.

Anyway, thanks again for the kind comments, and for giving me another chance to walk down memory lane. As I begin my fifth decade of existence, I can’t wait to see what the future holds, as well as acquainting myself with the many classics that I missed.


Unboxing Bayonetta 2 (Wii U, 2014)

As someone who was never that into third-person action games, Platinum Games’ Bayonetta flew right past me, as did the studio’s other games such as MadWorld, Vanquish, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. However, it only took a few minutes with Bayonetta 2‘s demo on the Wii U to make me realize what a big mistake I had made.

I’ve played it several times since its release, slowly improving upon my previous runs. In that sense, it feels like a true arcade experience, similar to how I felt with Volgarr the Viking, one of the best games I’ve played all year.

Upon playing Bayonetta 2‘s demo, I immediately preordered it on Amazon. Since I had just finished LEGO City Undercover, I decided to fire up my Xbox 360 copy of the first Bayonetta. I haven’t finished it yet — and finishing it once is really only scratching the game’s surface — but you can check out my highlights and hear what I have to say about the game so far on YouTube HERE.

Bayonetta 2 arrived late this past Friday, and even with the first game unfinished, I couldn’t help myself; I just had to tear into my copy!

Below is a series of photos showing what’s included. Nothing earth-shattering, but I do hope you enjoy them.


Full shot of the front cover. Standard Wii U blue box. Bayonetta 1 is included on its own separate disc.


Another shot of the front cover, with a more detailed look at the logo and artwork.


Additional detail of first Bayonetta logo. I like that it’s relatively small and up in the corner instead of being plastered somewhere else over the main artwork.


Full shot of the back cover. Hard to tell what’s going on in any of the tiny screenshots, but it does show some of the alternate outfits now available in the Wii U version of the first Bayonetta, including Samus (Metroid), Peach (Super Mario Bros.), and Link (The Legend of Zelda)


Close-up detail of the back cover’s screenshots. For some reason, Bayonetta’s pose on the left looks a little strange to me.


Sega and Platinum Games logos, as well as supported controllers: Wii Classic Controller Pro, Wii U Pro Controller, and Wii U GamePad. I will be using the Wii U Pro Controller.


Game case spine and thumbnail, which is from the same piece of art from the back cover.


Inside of case, a black & white safety/e-manual pamphlet and game discs. Those come in their own separate trays, which is always nice. Case itself is a standard eco type, which I know saves on plastic, but they just feel super-flimsy. No actual game manual of any kind, which isn’t surprising, but is still disappointing.


Bayonetta 1 game disc. Artwork is from the back cover of the 360 version. Screening is nice and of high quality.


Bayonetta 2 game disc. Artwork is from the front cover, and looks great.


Club Nintendo information and registration code are now printed on the back of the game case insert, which makes getting to it a little more difficult. Nearly impossible to miss, though, due to the eco case cutouts.

Be on the lookout for my Bayonetta review and Bayonetta 2 playthrough on YouTube soon. Have a great week!


Review: LEGO City Undercover (Wii U, 2013)

When Lego City Undercover was originally announced back in 2011, I brushed it off as a gimmicky Grand Theft Auto wannabe for kids. It didn’t help that I was already feeling let down by the Wii U after its disappointing E3 debut, where Nintendo seemed to be completely out of touch with reality and the rest of the industry.

The years since then have been a very different story for the console, having built up an excellent library of games, including Super Mario 3D World, EarthBound on the Virtual Console, Mario Kart 8, and this exclusive from Tt Fusion and WB Games.

2014 has been a good year for me and open-world titles. Tomb Raider, Batman: Arkham City, and Grand Theft Auto V are among the sandbox-style games that I’ve played and put extensive time into, and I’ve loved them all.

Like I said, I had initially ignored Lego City Undercover, but I had also seen the very positive reviews and forum threads on it, and figured now would be a good time to see what it was all about.


And I’m so glad I did! Lego City Undercover is one of the most purely fun games I’ve played on the Wii U, providing a wealth of variety and challenge for gamers of all ages.

Its format will be familiar to fans of open-world games. While there is a main storyline full of special missions and unique environments that keeps you moving forward through the game world, it is primarily comprised of a giant, living city that you can explore freely.

What I like about Lego City Undercover’s gameplay is that it blends together the vibrant feel of Grand Theft Auto V with the structural, dizzying traversal of games like Uncharted and Crystal Dynamics’ Tomb Raider from 2012. It also does so through humor, creative design, and violence that doesn’t go beyond that of typical Saturday morning cartoons.


Like many other of its genre peers, collectibles are a big part of the gameplay. Not only will you be picking up a large supply of Lego bricks in order to build things, but you’ll also need money to unlock most of the game’s characters, vehicles, and special abilities.

That’s actually something I don’t like about Lego City Undercover’s design. You spend a lot of time finding all of these collectibles, but there is an additional step required, where you have to go to your home base to unlock each one individually for use within the game world.

I hope that if a sequel is developed, that unlockables can be used immediately once you find them. Compounding this problem is the actual unlocking interface, which is slow and unresponsive.


Then there are the load times, which can last up to a minute and a half. These occur pretty often, especially later in the game when you’re going back and forth out of levels collecting all the things you missed your first time through.

I consider myself to be a pretty patient player, but Lego City Undercover’s long, non-interactive loading screens definitely tested me. I give these a bit of a pass, however, since this is one of the Wii U’s earlier releases, so I’m sure if given the time, Tt Fusion would have been able to implement better streaming/preloading technology and get a better handle on the hardware architecture itself.


Graphically, the game looks very good, with excellent draw distance, nice environmental detail, and a decent framerate. It does often dip below 30fps, but given how much is being displayed on-screen, its performance hits aren’t entirely surprising.

There are some inconsistencies in quality when it comes to texture detail too, but for the most part, the game looks nice, and particularly shines during special missions and Super Build sequences, which show various structures being built brick-by-brick.


In terms of audio, Lego City Undercover gets most things right. The voiceover work is wonderful, with some sound-alikes that are pretty close to the real thing, like Morgan Freeman and Joe Pesci.

Music is also good, with a ’70s funk soundtrack that fits the story and style of the game perfectly. Additionally, there are some licensed tracks, and the music for the final stage is particularly amazing.


What’s bizarre, however, is the complete absence of music during most of the game’s open-world and driving sections. Fans of Grand Theft Auto and other open-worlders have become accustomed to different radio stations to listen to, and driving around Lego City without a single chord of music makes these sections feel sterile and incomplete.

It’s a giant missed opportunity, in my opinion, but on the flipside, because of how long it will take to 100% this game, maybe not having a repeating soundtrack during these segments is a blessing in disguise. It’d be nice to have the option, though.


The Wii U GamePad is put to good use in Lego City Undercover, and like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, it’s nice being able to use it as an interactive map and resource without having to pause.

It’s also used throughout the game to set waypoints, check in on your overall progress per area, listen in on conversations, and uncover important clues. It works pretty well, but I found myself feeling rather silly on multiple occasions holding the GamePad up in the air, spinning in my chair looking around the room. If a sequel is produced, it’d be nice to have the option to just use the thumbsticks for this functionality.


There is a lot to do in Lego City Undercover. While the main campaign will take most players about 15 hours to complete, it will easily take triple that — if not more — to 100% it.

The great thing is that most of those additional tasks are fun to do and discover. They usually don’t take that long to complete either, and abilities like fast travel, ability boosts, scanning upgrades, and other enhancements make the collectibles a joy to uncover.

The game does a great job of keeping track of what you’ve found, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself pulling your hair out trying to find that last character token in a given area. Try your best to avoid FAQs, since the game is at its most rewarding when you solve the game’s various puzzles and challenges on your own.


I had a great time with Lego City Undercover. While it doesn’t have the spectacle, controversy, or production value of similar open-world games, it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable in the genre, providing laughs, solid gameplay, varied locales, and no shortage of things to discover and do. I highly recommend it.

  • Graphics & Presentation: B+
    A believable world full of colorful characters, environments, and creative Lego structures. 30fps for the most part, with framerate dips when the screen gets busy. Nice animation, depth, and a fun story that will keep you going until the very end.
  • Music & Sound Effects: B
    A fun ’70s soundtrack with some licensed tunes as well. Excellent voice acting, good sound effects and believable ambient fill. No music during most of the open-world and driving sequences makes those parts of the game feel dull, so hopefully a more robust radio setup makes its way into a sequel.
  • Gameplay & Controls: A-
    The world is a pure joy to explore, and the controls are solid. Some platforming and judging of distance is vague, but with unlimited lives and convenient retry features, it’s rarely an issue. Grand Theft Auto could learn a thing or two from this game’s flying controls, which are wonderful. Tons of gameplay variation and abilities will keep you  going long after the credits roll.
  • Value: A+
    It will take about 15 hours to get through the main storyline, but 60 is more likely to 100% it. Tons of collectibles and post-game content will keep you going for days, if not weeks, after you finish it. Lego City Undercover represents a tremendous value.

Overall: A-



Review: Don’t Move (Android, 2014)


Shortly into STVR’s Don’t Move, I asked myself, “What in the world am I playing?”

Ten minutes later, I was like, “This is incredibly annoying… the point of this is what again?”

Half an hour of staring at my tablet, and I said out loud (quietly, since my wife was sleeping), “I’m going nuts, but I can’t quit now!”

Two hours and two playthroughs later, I concluded, “The message here is a good one.”

Don’t Move is a cautionary tale.  I doubt most players will see its ending, and those players are probably the types who aren’t completionists, don’t like grinding, or scoff at the thought of getting all of a game’s Trophies or Achievements.

I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle. I don’t have to get everything in all of the games I play, but there are certain ones that will totally hook me and not let go until I’ve seen all it has to offer.


Dragon Quest IX on the Nintendo DS is one such game. I put over 250 hours into it, farming Metal King Slimes and Gem Slimes for hours upon hours, maxxing out my job classes and working towards the game’s best and rarest gear.

I used online tools to get rare drops in dungeons and like the monster farming, spent weeks going through certain dungeons again and again to meet my goals.

I eventually got to the point in the game where I was happy with what I had, and so I stopped. I wasn’t even close to 100%, but the damage was certainly done! I stuck with it for that long because I was having fun. I mean, if it’s not fun, why keep playing?

Don’t Move asks similar questions and more in a deceptively simple way, and somehow, even with only the ability to move left and right, and requiring almost zero skill, kept me going all the way through. Twice.

The graphics are very basic and uncharmingly 8-bit, the music is repetitive, and the sound effects of you dying every second will absolutely drive you bananas. I can only remember a couple instances that required any sort of finesse or timing. Otherwise, you’re either moving left or right in a single room. You can practically play it in your sleep. It’s just not fun. Or is it?

That hint of doubt that Don’t Move raises is why this game is important. If all you did was walk a few steps and die, you’d probably turn it off after a minute or so. There’s no payoff or bridge to the next thing. However, the game presents goals. It has specific Achievements that can be earned. There are endurance-based ones that reward you based on distance, time, deaths, and medals. You can also level your character up just by moving, get new outfits, and if you’re persistent, see the game’s ending (and it does end).

But to what end? Or does that matter? Why do we do things in games we know are menial, but we do them anyway?


I’m reminded of the game I’m currently playing: Lego City Undercover. Just in this screenshot, you see that I’m going out of my way to collect a big piece of Lego to go build something later. In the background is a platform where I can use those Legos, earn a Gold Brick, collect money, and maybe unlock a character costume. On the right is a statue that I can blow up for similar rewards.

Don’t Move is interesting in that unlike Lego City‘s various tasks, distractions, and sidequests, everything you do in it is a requirement. If you don’t do them, you can’t progress. And so, against your better judgment, you go ahead and do them to see what happens next, no matter how arbitrary, boring, or absolutely pointless.

20141008_dont_move_02Without a glossy exterior, fancy production, or even good controls and gameplay to mask this “carrot on a stick” approach, you realize that what is happening here is borderline-illogical busywork designed to make the game longer. Sound familiar? You can probably think of a few games you’ve played in recent memory that felt the exact same way.

Do you need a game to be fun to feel satisfied when you reach the end? Does a game need to be challenging in order for you to enjoy it? Is variation in gameplay and locations key to keeping you interested in a title?

Don’t Move will make you ponder these questions and more, long after you reach its Game Over screen. For something to make me think about games like this is a sign of something worth looking at, no matter how painful the experience was to get there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a dozen more pigs to go find in Lego City.

Overall: B


Review: Bones Brigade: An Autobiography (Digital, 2012)


First, a bit of history and context: 1985 was the year skateboarding became something I wanted to try, and my guess is most kids in the ’80s felt the same way too. Seeing Michael J. Fox ride his Valterra deck in Back to the Future — at least to an 11-year-old — was amazingly cool. While that particular skateboard was mass-produced and sold complete at big department stores for cheap, it didn’t matter. Kids who had one were the targets of jealousy. Mine in particular.

Earlier that same year, my dad had tried to get me into surfing. It was his favorite pastime, and it was something he had done most of his life growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii. I had a few good rides, but I never did fall in love with it. Most of my resistance had to do with the fact that I didn’t like getting up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of the best conditions. Still don’t. I’ve never been a morning person. Oh, and those best conditions tend to occur in the winter, which in Southern California means the Pacific is more or less freezing.

Additionally, surf shops didn’t interest me all that much outside of the stickers and t-shirts, but I was always drawn to the skateboard walls and counters, particularly the awesome and slightly scary Powell Peralta decals. The first ones my dad ever bought me were for Mike McGill, Tony Hawk, and Steve Caballero. The art was amazing, and even though I really had no idea who they were, I treated them like gold.

Around the same time, and likely due to me still talking about Back to the Future a lot, my dad thought it would be a good idea to buy me a skateboard to practice surfing moves like bottom turns and off-the-lips at home in our driveway:


I don’t remember who made that board, but I do distinctly remember the giant red, white, and blue “Kilroy Was Here” graphics on it, which didn’t mean anything to my pre-teen brain. After we got home, I gave it a try on our backyard patio. Almost instantly, it went flying out from under me, I fell on my ass, hurt my wrists, and it slammed right into the concrete wall. Needless to say, I didn’t ride it again for a while.

Over the next two years, my skateboard was little more than a mode of transportation to my friends’ houses, parks, and sneaking to the liquor store to play videogames. It wasn’t until junior high that my friends and I started hearing about things like some “Animal Chin” video and stylish skaters like Christian Hosoi and a name that came back from my then recent past: Steve Caballero.


Thrasher Magazine started circulating around classrooms instead of Mad Magazine, and almost overnight, everyone I knew had the latest skateboards, with the ones from Powell, Vision, and Santa Cruz really standing out, like the Mark Gonzales, Keith Meek “Slasher”, and Psycho Stick. I was obsessed with the art, and would do my best to copy them in pencil during class. Especially that Slasher. There are elements from that which still sneak their way into my art today.

When it came to actual skate equipment, though, I was still rockin’ my old Kilroy deck, which had a blue noseguard and speedbump-like skidplate on the back. By 1988, I had swap meet-sourced copers on the trucks — you know, for protection — and a lapper on the back to supposedly make climbing curbs easier. Plus, those socks and that haircut. Needless to say, the girls weren’t exactly knocking down our front door.

Even when I got my first real skateboard for 8th grade graduation (a Vision Psycho Stick, coincidentally), I protected that thing like it was a new Ferrari. Maybe no lapper this time, but my small circle of friends and I all had Tracker trucks with those massive wraparound copers and plastic baseplates. Skidplates, rails, and noseguards too. Funny looking back, but I think we were all of the same mindset that we had to make these things last.


Then one day, along came the Powell Peralta video that changed everything for me: 1988’s Public Domain. I’d never seen anything like it, with names I’d never heard of before, like Ray Barbee (misspelled as “Barbie” in the video), whose clean, technical style I immediately latched onto and of course was never quite able to replicate.

Also, unlike a lot of other skateboarding videos at the time, Public Domain had a very polished, professional feel to it, like you weren’t just spending money on a cheap home video, but something that folks had put a lot of time, money, and effort into. I credit this video for inspiring me to become a better skater.

For the next couple years, up until about mid-1990, skateboarding was my life. But as we all began to get our driver’s licenses, started dating, or became more involved in clubs and sports in preparation for college, it wasn’t long before the vast majority of us stopped skating altogether. Thinking back on this actually gets me a little choked up, since it was such a glorious time of freedom, individuality, creativity, and adventure.

And that right there is at the heart of what makes Bones Brigade: An Autobiography such a special documentary.


Everyone is here: Stacy Peralta, George Powell, Tony Hawk, Mike McGill, Tommy Guerrero, Rodney Mullen, Steve Caballero, and Lance Mountain. Plus a lot of other big names like Christian Hosoi, Mike Vallely, and Tony Alva. Even Fred Durst and Spike Jonze make appearances.

The interviews throughout are thoughtful, funny, personal, and at times painful. From its very beginning, even though I was smiling throughout, there is an undercurrent of nostalgic sadness here that permeates all of the interviews.

20141007_bb_tgThat’s not to say that this film is a downer. It’s the furthest thing from it, and is as wonderful a history lesson in Powell Peralta the company and its riders as you’re likely to find. It’s not just a look back on the historic rise, fall, and rise again of skateboarding, but an intimate look at its principal players and how they each responded to their meteoric rise to worldwide stardom.

It’s absolutely mind-blowing to look back on the early days of the skateboarding industry, its advertising, and how things we take for granted like “street skating” weren’t even things yet until the likes of Tommy Guerrero made it so.

In many ways, it reflects that of the videogame industry, how it started small, but that even then there were innovators shooting for the stars (like Electronic Arts and Broderbund at the time) who set their own paths, gave their designers top billing, killed it in terms of presentation, and put out the very best games, giving everyone else something to aim for. I remember the Bones Brigade team doing exactly that, raising the bar for everyone else.

20141007_bb_10One thing that really stood out for me here was Lance Mountain. As a young teenager who was always looking up to the best of the best, Mountain seemed like an anomaly. I thought he was OK, but nowhere near the level of the Hawks, Caballeros, and Mullens of the world.

I remember the silly clip from Public Domain where an English Bulldog steals his skateboard, but I don’t remember any of his actual skating. Bones Brigade spends some time on this very topic, and I came out of it with a much deeper respect and understanding of why he was on the team, what effect he had on other skaters, and him as a human being. These sequences that focus on Mountain are wonderfully done and some of my favorites in the film.

20141007_bb_11I was very happy to see that equal time was spent on the other members of the original Brigade. I was half-expecting most of the coverage to be on Tony Hawk, just because he is the Mario and Mickey Mouse of skateboarding: everyone recognizes him, and deservedly so due to his skills, drive, and business acumen.

Watching the old clips of him brought back some of my fondest memories of the sport, and even though I was a street skater and never did skate halfpipes, when guys like Tony Hawk skated, I stopped and watched. I liked him because he was such a technical wizard. He rarely messed up, and his innovations in bringing so many street-based techniques to ramps was amazing to see.

20141007_bb_6One of the things in Bones Brigade that really got the nostalgia juices flowing was its focus on the stylistic dichotomy between Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi. I was always drawn to Hawk’s quieter, more technical approach to skating, while my best friend’s favorite was Hosoi.

Their real-life rivalry, as it was portrayed in magazines and contests at the time, perhaps seeped into our own approach to skating and friendship. These guys really were huge influences on us all, and many of us projected the pros’ personalities and styles on ourselves. I think there was also a quiet voice in the back of our minds that told us we would be doing this for many years to come, if not forever.

20141007_bb_13That sentiment is echoed throughout this documentary, bookended by fascinating bits of history, including the creation of two of skateboarding’s most iconic moves: the McTwist and ollie. I was engrossed hearing firsthand accounts about their development and how they — particularly the ollie — became the foundation for just about everything that has followed in the sport since.

It’s also during these looks back that we see who did well for themselves and who didn’t, whether it was due to bad choices, grudges, or other negative influences. These moments are sobering, and are a good reminder of how quickly things can change, for better or for worse.

20141007_bb_5Besides Lance Mountain, the most revealing and interesting person in this film is Rodney Mullen, who was one of those guys whose skating just blew me away. He was on a whole different level, captivating me with his flawless runs full of gravity-defying tricks. I also remember how I used to make fun of the way he talked, with his high-pitched voice and odd, stream-0f-consciousness way that he described things.

Here, we see someone who looks like he’s been through the wringer of life; someone looking back on his years in the Bones Brigade with razor-sharp clarity and wisdom. He provides some of the most insightful and crushing interview footage, with a candid and unfiltered look into his personal life and his struggles with success… and himself.

20141007_bb_3Steve Caballero, even with his thick, graying beard, still looks like the skater I and so many others emulated back in the day. The guy had this smooth but goofy-shy style, but he also exuded pure power when he skated. It was no surprise that he was a favorite of mine and so many of my friends, and everyone liked to do his little head-cocked-to-the-side thing.

The Half-cab, derived from his own Caballerial/Full-cab was always one of my favorite tricks, and I loved doing them up and down curbs, stairs, benches, and anything else in front of me. It’s interesting that when I look back, the original Bones Brigade skaters that influenced me the most — namely Tony Hawk and Steve Caballero — were vert skaters. It wasn’t what they were skating so much as it was how they were skating them.

20141007_bb_16Skateboarding was an important a part of my life from 1987-1990, just as videogames were. In retrospect, I would say perhaps even more so. While I was enjoying gaming at home on my Sega consoles and Apple II, it was skateboarding that provided not just a creatively challenging outlet, but a bonding, social, free-spirited activity that both spoke directly to me and reflected who I was and still am as a person today.

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography is a fascinating watch for anyone into skateboarding, and particularly essential for anyone who was part of that culture throughout the ’80s.

Overall: A



Backlog Blitz: The Games of September 2014


Hmm, going from a peak of +14 back in March to a +2 in September is not a good omen. After a good recovery in July and August, I’ve once again slipped into near-negative territory. As you’ll see, several nice bundles are to blame, but I did finish a couple high-quality games.

Anyway, the format, as with previous updates, is Game Title (Platform, Purchase Price, Play Time).

Games purchased (-6, $27.75 spent):

    1. Bundle Stars Night Dive Bundle (PC, $3.50)
      I recently discovered this bundle site based out of the UK, and so far, they’ve been great, with amazing deals and game quality that is pretty high, depending on the bundle. I do hope they’ll allow Steam account linking soon so that it’s easier to add games to the library. Anyway, this bundle included: System Shock 2, Bad Mojo: Redux, Wizardry 6 & 7, Wizardry 8, Harvester, 7th Guest & 11th Hour, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and Shadow Man.
    2. The Humble Indie Bundle 12 (PC, $7.75)
      Humble continues to offer some of the best bundles out there, even though prices and unlocks seem to be going up. I don’t mind so much, though, since the quality of their offerings remains high. This one was no exception, and included the following: SteamWorld Dig, Hammerwatch, Gunpoint, Gone Home, Papers Please, Luftrausers, The Bridge, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine, and Race the Sun.
    3. Bundle Stars Indie Jam 4 Bundle (PC, $2.50)
      Another one from Bundle Stars, this one came with a staggering 10 games for just a couple bucks, including: Akane the Kunoichi, They Breathe, Mini Motor Racing Evo, Ichi, Rhythm Destruction, Oozi: Earth Adventure, Oknytt, Hammerfight, SOL: Exodus, and Gearcrack Arena.
    4. The Humble Bundle: PC & Android 11 (PC/Android, $6.00)
      Humble kinda went nuts this month, with three great bundles spanning PC and Android. This one, which covered both platforms, included their trademark collection of high-quality games: Blackwell 1: Legacy, Blackwell 2: Unbound, Blackwell 3: Convergence, Bridge Constructor Playground, Cubemen, Cubemen 2, Don’t Move, Quest of Dungeons, Small World 2, SpaceChem, and one of my favorite games from earlier this year, Thomas Was Alone.
    5. 20141006_leoLeo’s Fortune (Android, $3.00)
      My only non-bundle purchase of the month, this gorgeous puzzle/platformer from 1337 & Senri is a great example of a premium game done on mobile platforms without a free-to-play model. I’ve only just started, but it’s a wonderfully beautiful game full of good puzzles, physics, and challenge.
    6. The Humble Mobile Bundle 8 (Android, $5.00)
      Finally, the latest mobile bundle from Humble was a pretty good one, although admittedly not their best. I’m starting to wonder how many more premium mobile games are still available for this format. Whatever the case, I’ll keep buying them as long as they provide a good value and quality. This bundle included: Doodle Devil Premium, Doodle God Premium, Epoch, Epoch.2, Little Big Adventure, Mikey Hooks, Tentacle Wars, TowerMadness 2, Wave Wave, and Zombie Gunship.

Games finished (+2, $25.50 value):

      1. Kero Blaster (PC, $8.00, 5 hrs.)
        Excerpt from my review: “Kero Blaster is short, at just about 5 hours for two complete playthroughs. However, it’s the kind of game you can’t stop until you’re done, and even after that, it compels you to come back and discover all of its many secrets. While it may not have the historical significance that Cave Story did, it’s still a very fun game that represents all the best qualities of Daisuke Amaya’s incredible talent.” Overall: B+
        REVIEW LINK 
      1. New Super Luigi U (Wii U, $17.50, 20 hrs.)
        Excerpt from my review: “As someone who absolutely loved Mario’s first outing on the Wii U, playing through this world again with completely different levels and character physics was a welcome challenge that at times pushed my abilities to their limits. How Nintendo will top this brotherly combo is something that’s hard to imagine. New Super Luigi U represents some of the finest in Nintendo 2D platforming.” Overall: A

Anyway, there you have it for September, and with only three months left in 2014, we’ll see what happens. I’m currently playing LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U, and based on the amount of content in that game, it could very well be the only game I finish this month. Now to convince myself that I don’t need to buy anything else!

See you next time and have a great week!