Warm weather, convertibles, girls, palm trees, fast cars, sandy beaches, more cars, the ocean, tons of highway, blue skies… What could it be? California, of course. And what game reminds me of California more than any other? Outrun.
January. The coldest month of the year for the middle of the eastern half of the US. Living here nearly all of my life has made me expect a few things out of this month: snow, cold, ice, sunsets at 5:20, overcast skies, heavy coats, scarves, dead trees, dead grass, cars powdered with road salts, snow tires…
So, it’s much to my happy surprise to find that I’m shipped off to southern California for a couple of weeks in January.
Two things immediately stick out: The weather is great. And the traffic is horrible. (more…)
Out in California, on the opposite side of the US, and what do I happen across? Something I thought I may never see in person: an authentic Virtual On arcade cabinet.
In a semi-random situation, I found myself on the opposite side of the US for the past couple of weeks, and somehow I ended up at the Redondo Beach Pier outside of LA. Little did I know that when I stumbled upon the “Fun Fish Market & Restaurant,” that I’d actually be wandering into an awesome arcade. The place definitely looked the part; Unlike the glitzy sheen of the neon-coated GameWorks and Dave & Busters of today, the dim lighting and concrete floors felt a tad grimy and very well-worn.
So, I perused the place, and in a corner, found some retro machines with classics like Centipede, Galactica, Tempest, and Mortal Kombat. It was definitely worth a quarter to play the original MK, which unfortunately my brain had completely forgotten over the years. The result: Sub-Zero kicked my ass.
I was afraid I spent my quarter too soon, though, when I ran into an arcade rarity: a Virtual On machine
This may be the first time that I’ve ever seen one in person. I checked my pocket and, lucky me, there were enough quarters left for the ultra-expensive, 50-cent Virtual On. I sat down, adjusted the seat, leaned back, grabbed the twinsticks and hit Start.
Virtuaroid… Apharmd, of course.
Now, it’s time to get down to business. The twinsticks on this game seem very natural, and after a couple of seconds, I was jump cancelling like nobody’s business… because I soon realized that the right trigger was broken. Shit. I’ve only the bomb to work with? No melee attacks? No shotgun?
Sucks, but I managed to beat Temjin, and was well on my way to taking out Viper II via clock stoppage until I got cocky. Damn, I wish Sega had made more of these machines.
Earthworm Jim arrives on the XBox 360 with enhanced graphics and extra play modes. After all of these years, how does the 16-bit platformer hold up? The Local Ditch finds out.
Oh, Xbox Live, how you’ve enabled me to relive the missed games of my youth. Welcome to the club, Earthworm Jim. Back in the 16-bit days, I had EJ2 for my Genesis, but never the first one.
So, how do I view it with modern day eyes? I really had to step back and get in the right mindset to play this one. I’ve grown accustomed to the auto-saves and constant progress of modern games. It’s a bit of a blast from the past to go into a game that’s designed to last for a few hours and be played from the very beginning every time that it’s started. (more…)