Category Archives: pac-man

The Namco Museum and Xevious

Just to show you all what a big old fart I am, and how out of touch gaming-wise I am, the very first free download I ever got from the PlayStation Store was this – Namco Museum. Yeah, I’m old. Deal with it.

As the name might imply it’s a small collection of old games from the 1980s, namely Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, and Xevious. To be fair, it’s actually the trial for Namco Museum Essentials, and has much more available but I haven’t purchased the whole package yet. And I have looked, but there doesn’t seem to be an option to buy it. One problem with this one is that the games are presented in their original arcade form – vertical, on a horizontal screen. Oh well.

With the exception of Pac-Man, these are all games I spent a generous amount of time with at the arcade. I was never big into Pac-Man, but the others I loved. Dig Dug I’ve talked about before, everyone knows about Pac-Man, and Galaga is really just a color evolution up from Space Invaders. Xevious is the one I want to talk about today.

Xevious was a vertical scroller from back in the day, 1982, known for its bouncy tunage and unique breaking glass sound effects when you blasted the disc things that spun through the air at you. That effect is recreated here but the controller again makes what was easy on the arcade game difficult here – shooting and bombing simultaneously.

Xevious is a fun game without becoming too monotonous, although it remains much the same throughout. I remember the ship you pilot is called oddly the Solvalou, and that the sides of the arcade game showed pics that didn’t exactly match the game itself. Always fun, even in this format.

Wreck-It Ralph

This review, in a slightly altered form, has already appeared on my pop culture blog, Welcome to Hell. Since it’s videogame topical, I figured I’d share it here too. Enjoy.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. “Paperman” was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see “Paperman” first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we’re not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero’s Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It’s a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of “Pac-Man Fever” fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren’t into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

Barcade and the Frustration of Getting Old

A few months back The Bride and I attended a birthday party for two friends, at a place in the Philadelphia/Fishtown area called Barcade. Barcade is exactly what it sounds like, a bar/arcade. It has a couple dozen old school arcade games, and an assortment of local and obtuse brews, all for a quarter – the games, not the beers, that is.

I was stunned to how close to an arcade of the good old days this place was, what with the variety of games and their placement around the bar area. They even had high scores posted. They had a bar menu, but no fries. But it’s all good, they carded me, the first time that’s happened in years, so I was very happy.

When I looked around at the selection of games, at first I had little interest, then as I walked around, and got a closer look my memory kicked in… I realized I had done time, serious time, with all of them at one point or another in my younger years. Among the games at Barcade: OutRun, Gauntlet, Ms. Pac-Man, Mr. Do!, Golden Axe, Track & Field, Frogger, BurgerTime, Centipede, Double Dragon, Punch-Out!!, Tetris, and Robotron 2084, just to name a few. A full list can be found here.

Spy Hunter, Rampage, Tempest, Dig Dug, Paper Boy, Space Invaders, Galaxian, Joust. I knew them all intimately. And yet I was no longer capable of playing them. The muscles and reflexes honed to each particular set of skills for each game had deteriorated over the years of disuse. Man, playing videogames sure wasn’t like riding a bike, you can’t just get back on. In other words, I was old.

Lead photo by John Donges.

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph ~ After helping friend Marni celebrate her birthday at Red Lobster, The Bride and I decided to continue the evening as a date night, despite the raging rainsnowstorm outside. We hadn’t been able to see Wreck-It Ralph since it’s been out so we trekked across Route 38 to my least favorite theater to see it.

It was a rainy/snowy Wednesday night, and that may have something to do with it, but I was pleased to see the place nearly empty and doing very little business. I couldn’t wish it on a nastier movie theater. That said, to be fair, we had no problems on this trip. As a matter of fact, the young man who took our tickets was very helpful. But you know, too little, too late. Gonna take a lot to change my mind about this place.

First things first, Wreck-It Ralph being a Disney/Pixar flick, we get a Pixar cartoon before the main feature. “Paperman” was a sweet short utilizing different animation than usual for Pixar, and it also had a bit of a Japanese anime vibe to it. I liked it a lot, a big reason to see this movie is to see “Paperman” first.

Wreck-It Ralph, the newest from Disney/Pixar, is loosely at first glance a cross between Toy Story and Tron. Like the first movie we discover that the entities in our videogames actually live, especially when we’re not looking, and like the second flick we discover that they live in their own little universe with its own physical and moral laws, all within the confines of one arcade.

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy in a game called Fix-It Felix, Jr., essentially close to Donkey Kong in many ways. Ralph, shunned by the other denizens of his game, determines to leave his game and make good. He goes off to Hero’s Duty, a hybrid of Halo and Starship Troopers, to win a medal, and recognition. When things go awry, he becomes stranded in Sugar Rush, a mix of Mario Kart and Candyland. There, Ralph must decide if truly is the bad guy, or a hero.

It’s a complex plot that is quite dark in places, but for the most part, it’s an enjoyable journey through 1980s videogame nostalgia. It has a sharp sense of humor, great characters, and the voice work of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, and especially Jane Lynch is first class. There are also many cameos of classic videogame characters that make the flick a real treat.

An added trivia bonus for old school videogamers is the song that plays over the closing credits, “Wreck It, Wreck-It Ralph” by Jerry Buckner, formerly of Buckner & Garcia of “Pac-Man Fever” fame.

I liked Wreck-It Ralph quite a bit, and while I wonder if this might be over or under the heads of some folks who weren’t into, or alive for, 1980s arcade games, I highly recommend it. Great flick.

Pac-Man from Hell

Now I know Pac-Man. Heck, we all know Pac-Man. This thing, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, that I downloaded from the PlayStation Store is not Pac-Man. I don’t know what the hell it is, but it scares me, it scares my heart, my poor poor pacemakered heart.

The board is horizontal, rather than vertical, much like the Atari 2600 Pac-Man game. Unlike that version, this does look like Pac-Man, and the graphics are very precise and very vibrant. Psychedelic acid trip vibrant, and the music is pulse-pounding house techno that seems to get faster and the game gets more frantic. I could feel my heart beating in time to it with the pressure of the game.

There are advantages. You get bombs to blow up the ghosts, but it doesn’t really seem to help as they recover quickly, and there are ghosts everywhere, sleeping until you pass near. They just keep coming. It’s almost as if someone decided Pac-Man wasn’t hard enough, it needed to give you a nervous condition as well.

Malibu Grand Prix and the Mystery of Dig Dug

One of the games I have downloaded from the PlayStation Store has been Namco Museum Essentials. Yeah, they’re old arcade games. I figured they would be way more my speed. One of the games included was Dig Dug.

I used to play Dig Dug all the time, probably for the first time at Maibu Grand Prix in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The big draw was the miniature Indy car raceway in the back, but inside, it was a huge arcade, back in the day when videogames were played in such places. Now it’s just at home on the computer or video console. Us old people did it differently.

Malibu’s been gone for a long time now. They tore it all down and there’s now a medical complex there. Before that, it was closed and abandoned for years. Rumor has it that when they went to demolish it, a body was found on the grounds. Weird. There are still some Mailbu complexes open, in California and Texas, but for the most part, the arcade is a dead thing in our time.

I discovered Malibu in high school. A friend’s mother used to work in the offices nearby and he would pick her up after work every day, and take his brothers and his friends with to play at Malibu while we waited ’til the working whistle blew as they say. Malibu was where I first played a lot of great games, stuff like Star Castle, which I used to be able to play for hours on only a quarter – that was my game, as well as Centipede (though I preferred Millipede), Warlords, Popeye, Galaxian, Qix (another favorite I was very good at), Astro Fighter, Time Pilot, Pac-Man, Zaxxon, and another old favorite, Sinistar – and of course, Dig Dug. Hmmm… I guess I’m really dating myself with that list, huh?

Anyway, as I was playing Dig Dug, and getting my ol’ skillz back after navigating the PS3 controller, I started to wonder about the game. I mean, what the hell is it, really? It’s a guy named Dig Dug, who dresses like an astronaut and digs through the ground… and when he encounters weird creatures and dragons he shoots a hose at them, and inflates them until they explode. That sound about right? Wow. You can not tell me there were not drugs involved in the creation of this game.

After a bit of research (always a dangerous thing to do when you don’t know what you’ll find), I discovered Dig Dug’s real name was Hori Taizo, and he was the father of the guy in the Mr. Driller videogame (never heard of it) and the ex-husband of the heroine from Baraduke (that one either). The creatures are Pookas and Fygars respectively. Collectively they represent a weird incestuous hierarchy in Japanese videogaming. They are everywhere, in dozens of games.

I still got no explanation of what the game actually means. Sometimes a little knowledge, or a lack thereof, is a bad thing. At least it’s fun, and at least I can play it without embarrassing myself…