Monday, October 31, 2005

All Hallow's Day

Yay, candy!

(click image for large version)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

We Are Six, I Guess

As previoulsy mentioned, over at Dark But Shining they had a contest to reconfigure some classic lit with a horror bent. I didn't place but I'm sure fun was had by all. They've been posting the top 3 over the weekend at the site, but here's my entry anyways!

The old stage coach was rumbling along the dusty road that runs from Maplewood to Riverboro. The day was as warm as midsummer, though it was only the middle of May, and Mr. Jeremiah Cobb was favoring the horses as much as possible, yet never losing sight of the fact that he carried the mail. The hills were many, and the reins lay loosely in his hands as he lolled back in his seat and extended one foot and leg luxuriously over the dashboard. His brimmed hat of worn felt was well pulled over his eyes, and he revolved a quid of tobacco in his left cheek.

There was one passenger in the coach -- a small dark-haired person in a glossy buff calico dress. She was so slender and so stiffly starched that she slid from space to space on the leather cushions, though she braced herself against the middle seat with her feet and extended her cotton-gloved hands on each side, in order to maintain some sort of balance. Whenever the wheels sank farther than usual into a rut, or jolted suddenly over a stone, she bounded involuntarily into the air, came down again, pushed back her funny little straw hat, and picked up or settled more firmly a small pink sun shade, which seemed to be her chief responsibility -- unless we except a bead purse, into which she looked whenever the condition of the roads would permit, finding great apparent satisfaction in that its precious contents neither disappeared nor grew less. Mr. Cobb guessed nothing of these harassing details of travel, his business being to carry people to their destinations, not, necessarily, to make them comfortable on the way. Indeed he had forgotten the very existence of this one unnoteworthy little passenger.

The second thought of his charge for the day came unexpectedly to Mr. Cobb when he imagined the presence of another person next to him at the reigns. He turned his head slightly to see a delicate, gloved hand flip open the blade of a barber’s razor and bring it against his neck. The blade was so finely sharpened that Mr. Cobb could hardly notice the cut being made across his throat. The horses began to slow their pace as his grip on the reigns faltered, he tried desperately to regain hold but the sickening sensation of lightheadedness mixed with a perplexing fear prevented such a simple exercise. He gave a sputtered cough and spit up a portion of his tobacco, the unsightly trail of spittle made its way down his chin and onto his neck to mix with a surprising volume of accumulating blood. Mr. Cobb’s last thought was that it would be a most difficult stain to remove from his collar.

The coach had rolled to a slow stop, the horses now standing still with indifference. The body of the driver fell limply to the side and then clear off the coach onto the road with a dull thud. Standing at the dash holding a razor in a casually outstretched hand was the dark-haired girl in her calico dress, not a spot of blood on her person nor expression on her face to suggest her part in the events of minutes past. The razor was wiped clean of its crimson blemish on the felt hat that remained on the seat of the stage, and was then folded and placed ever so carefully back into the small bead purse. While Mr. Jeremiah Cobb’s story would appear to have come to an end, the one for the sole passenger of a stranded coach was just beginning.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Comics Day

I didn't mean for it to be a big stack this week, but it just turned out that way.

Showcase: Green Lantern
JSA Classified
Marvel Monsters: Monsters on the Prowl
Solo: Michael Allred
Silent Dragon
Amazing Spider-Man
Strangers in Paradise
Jenny Finn

Those big-ass DC Showcase books, whotta deal. Especially Green Lantern, 500 pages of Gil Kane for 10 bucks-- in black and white-- are you kidding me? I don't lament the fact that it's in black and white, I freakin' love the fact that it's in black and white. It is gorgeous, and as an artist I learn far more from it than originals or old reprints with bad seps, or even the archive editions as nice as they are. Gil Kane as an artist sometimes falls into the realm of a buzzword for espousing about comics greats, but for me so many things I love about comics art starts and ends with him. I can go down a laundry list of equally influential and talented Kane peers, however if it takes one name to define the silver age... Kane remains at the top.

Addendum: After getting to spend a little time with the book, brushmasters Joe Giella and Murphy Anderson cannot be overlooked when paired with Kane. there is a crispness and a balance of black-to-white that is a product of its era, rarely seen or appreciated in today's four-color world of photoshopped rendering. I'm no stranger to the print process, and the fact that the film (or plates) was maintained and reproduced in such fine detail after all these years is nothing short of amazing. I know many of these stories have been reprinted before, but there is something about having them in this fatso format on just the right paper stock. A pig in slop I am, a pig in slop.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Marvel Knights Spider-Man #19

Marvel Knights Spider-Man #19
The Other: Evolve or Die, Part 2

It's easy as humans to lash out and just bash something you don't like without any explanation other than "This sucks!" But whenever possible it is more of a service to be critical of the things we love in order to maintain some level of quality. Marvel has disappointed me greatly with the second part of its massive Spider-Man crossover, "The Other."

The story by Peter David is fine. It's good, it's interesting, David has a standard that has been constant over his many years of offerings to the comic book trade. Sadly, his story for the ever-important follow-up of part one is overwhelmed by the rest of the book's complete lack of respect for it.

The art by Pat Lee is just, well, horrible. Pat Lee has things he does well, he can riff off the anime/manga hybrid his fans seem to enjoy, and when backed by competent studious such as (the defunct) Dreamwave it can look pretty good. However what Pat Lee does not do well is draw Spider-Man. It's a bad match, the editor should have realized this. There is no indication throughout the book that the characters were drawn-- independent of personal artistic style-- to resemble the cast "as we know it." Mary Jane looks like a corpse in every panel, Peter Parker is near unrecognizable, and a cameo by Steve Rogers is bereft of any weight the character deserves.

To start, the cover, man, it's bad. During my time as a comics editor I was fortunate enough to work with a high caliber of artists. It was an extremely rare occasion, maybe once or twice, where I suggested a piece of art was not up to par and asked to have it redone. In one case the artist admitted the piece was rushed and was ashamed to have turned it in, and redrew an exceptional replacement. This type of anecdote I don't think is unheard of in the industry, and I am very curious if my opinion of this cover is in minority. Due to the time and effort involved, having a cover redone is a rather drastic suggestion, but considering "The Other" is a supposed-benchmark Spider-Man storyline, and this is only part two, the cover would seem to be of great import.

Inside the book the gloss of Dream Engine's finishes and colors can barly compensate for Lee's at-times-clearly-amateur pages. Some of these pages would not even get a second look at a convention portfolio review. I do not intend to infer malice in my comments, this is just how I see it and I speak with a small degree of authority.

And speaking of a small degree of authority, there is a section of the story where Mary Jane and Steve Rogers are playing pool. Overall this is not a bad sequence, as drawing people playing pool falls into a challenging category of art. However...

  • In the first panel of the sequence, Lee blows the illusion. Mary Jane is in a very awkward stance for a shot, it's clear Lee did not bother with reference. Also if one were to imagine Mary Jane standing in that same panel, she would tower over Steve Rogers. I know models are tall, but sheesh. Two panels later, their relative heights while standing prove this otherwise.
  • In the forth panel, MJ calls a shot into the side pocket, but the next panel clearly shows a shot into the corner. This could have been the writer's error if the book was scripted after the art. Also, MJ's bridge for this shot is fairly weak, there is plenty of room for her not to have her palm flat.

  • On the second page of the sequence, MJ switches to a lefthanded shot. This is a difficult, and rare, maneuver. Even though the dialogue suggests she is showing off, the only reason to do this is to avoid a "behind the back" shot when the cue ball is too close to the rail at the end of the table. From the position of balls on the table, and MJ's position, there is absolutely no reason to make a left handed shot, show off or not.

Outside of the art, I have one other MA-jor gripe on this book, and it falls on Marvel. The book glaringly showcases more advertising than actual content! The layout goes a little something like this:


22 pages of content... 24 pages of advertising. Shame!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bad Girl

Over at Dark But Shining they are having a little fiction contest. The jist is to take the first two paragraphs of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and within 500 words craft it into the beginning of a horror novel.

I'll post my entry after we learn the outcome...

Friday, October 21, 2005

No, really, it's about cars

Holy smokes! I don't often choose to abuse my influence over my loyal followers, but think it would behoove you all to CHECK THIS LINK.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New Comics Day

Marvel Monsters: Fin Fang Four
Klarion the Witch Boy
X-Men/Power Pack
Green Lantern Corps
She Hulk
MK Spider-Man
Top 10: Beyond
Authority Revolutions
Shaolin Cowboy :-)
Life During Wartime :-(

Books of Magik: Life During Wartime concludes its series, and effectively, the adventures of Timothy Hunter. I have had, at one point or another, every single issue of each incarnation of the Books of Magic. I've sold off the bulk of the collection not for money, but for the hope that in some way I could allow more people to read and enjoy the series. There are perhaps a hundred-sixty or so issues of Books of Magic, Books of Faerie, Age of Magic, Life During Wartime, and various specials-- and every damn one of them was good.

For sheer volume, for sheer consistency of quality, it is a rare book than can compare with Books of Magic. In the earlier days of the series (founded upon concepts by Neil Gaiman) John Ney Rieber and Peter Gross and crafted what I feel is the definitive modern fantasy tale. It was leagues ahead of Harry Potter, and while Rowling's Potter series is certainly creative and engaging in many respects, it is merely a compilation of the genre's more intriguing notions-- many of which were directly addressed in Books of Magic. The original series was one amazing tale after another, drifting both casually and abrubtly between the harsh reality of Hunter's British home life and the surreal otherworlds populated by his many enemies. It was never all unicorns and sunflowers, either, the macabre cast of demons, rogues, and allies often took the story into areas of dark compromises and outright horror.

About halfway through the first Books of Magic series, after Neiber left as writer, the book seemed to blossom into a wonderful second act. This was maybe fifty issues in, where you would think all of the plot-lines had run their course, but it became clear that the surface had just been scratched. Peter Gross had for years amazed me with his dreamy artwork, but he proved himself to be a hell of a storyteller as well. Later series took a character or concept and expanded it further, but all revolved around a single princple: Timothy Hunter was the most powerful magician in the universe. In fact Tim Hunter was just a vessel, the fiction that evolved out of his story proved him to be the very incarnation of magic itself, or at least the current incarnation, which in alot of ways is the point. Tim Hunter is a product of his time, both temporary and eternal, an embodiment of magical prowess endowed with an unbearable responsibility. Over a span of a decade, the books follow this concept from the innocent uncertainties of a young boy to the confident resolve of a young man. With a history of stories so rich and deep, I will remember the Books of Magic as some of my all time favorites.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

It's about cars, really!

As a general rule, I like cleavage. The above picture does fit that description, although its actual purpose is very misleading.

You see, this image is one of several sexified ads for Electronic Arts' Burnout: Revenge videogame. Now it's no secret that videogame marketing is horrendous at best, but this, well, this is just sad.

The rest of the "ads" can be seen here.

See what I mean? Burnout is a driving game, and crashing is involved. It's a great game, it is tons of fun to play and has re-invigorated the driving game genre (personally, I'll stick with Burnout 3, "Revenge" is merely an addendum with a couple tweaked features to get product on the shelf for the holidays). Those ads were crafted on the loose concept of wrecking cars. The one above, here, is the only one I think is clever because it actually lets you think a little about what's going on-- where you'd get a side view mirror, good composition, obvious sex appeal, that sort of thing. The rest of the ads are just bad looking. Bad layout, bad idea... what's the point? They aren't sexy, and I think I know sexy!

Sex in advertising is nothing new, but fellas, please, get real. You are Electronic arts. You have money to do it right, or so we would think. Go ahead, show a little T+A, but show the game in a screenshot larger than 1 inch. Show some representation of a race. If you need hot chicks in awkward poses, buy Maxim.

Comics Recap

Infinite Crisis #1
So... yeah. It's, like, Crisis and stuff. Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe Crisis is over my head. Maybe the first issue of the biggest event of the year was supposed to be a barrage of imagery and non sequiturs and cryptic conversations that will all be explained ingeniously as Crisis plays out. Or maybe, just maybe, I've been bamboozled and Crisis is an overthought, convoluted piece of crap.

Villains United #6
This book had an actual conclusion! And it was good, too. There was a rather startling exposure of the duplicate Luthor that got me all curious, altho I think they copped out a little when they suggested Cheshire may have survived what appeared to be a fatal bullet wound. Which I guess is to be expected, when she may or may not be carrying Catman's child... tho that little tidbit seemed farfetched considering her reveal of said fact so soon after the "act." Maybe she's got special woman powers or something, because even though it's a given she would lie about such a thing, it is still a possibility and a good story point. Or it may not be Catman's at all... Cheshire already has a child by way of Roy Harper/Arsenal, don't forget. In any case it would appear that there are more books in the works for the Villains United crew.

Rann-Thanagar War #6
This series is not over! Sure, the first part concluded somewhat, but damn, I want more. I hope the tie into to Crisis doesn't bungle things up, but apparently the story is to be continued in the pages of Hawkman in months to come. But over all, bang up job all the way, probably my favorite miniseries of the year.

Hawkman #44-45
I don't know what it is about Hawkman, but when he's drawn right he looks pretty damn cool. The art team on this book is sharp, Hawkman has got to be one of the most undeniably macho dudes in the DCU. And Hawkgirl ain't lookin' so bad herself, and there was another femme fatal in this arc as well, good stuff. As for the story, well I can't help but feel for Palmiotti and Gray for taking over, and Johns for that matter, since without a doubt Hawkman has the most disastrous continuity ever conceived. They work it out fairly well, but even in a brief recap to help conclude the story, you just have to cringe at what this character has gone through. Will Crisis be the end-all-be-all for a New Hawkman Origin? They've tried before... several times.

All Star Batman + Robin #2
This series is what it is, which I think can be simplified as style over substance. But I sure hope "I am the god-damn Batman" sinks its heady teeth into our lexicon.

Marvel Mosnsters: Devil Dinosaur
This book was a blast, great fun. Eric Powell was a genious choice for art chores on the lead story and it looks fanstastic. The story is great, the art, inks, and colors are equally great, but you know what was the best part? The letters! No one ever said Dave Lamphear was a slouch, but considering how many other letterers completely ignore what the finished page needs to look like, this story comes off as a modern masterpiece. Properly shaped balloons! Even reading type! And sound effects that pull colors from the actual palette of the page! It's a freakin' miracle!!!

Monday, October 17, 2005

I was kinda in Vegas...

Wotta town... I had to make an impromptu trip to the desert to see my buddy play in his band, Revenge and Regret. The show was at the Double Down, a most excellent rocker bar that I have wiled away many a drunken hour/day/morning. And I am soooo glad I went because the show was certified "kick ass" by the UAAK (United Administration of Ass Kickers).

Revenge and Regret opened the night with some down and dirty punk that got the joint hoppin. I was up front but off to the side, safely enjoying the show away from the center crowd lest I be moshed, verily and violently. By the end of the set things got a little rowdy, one of the moshers took a shove the wrong way and the whole place erupted into a fist-flying free for all. It escalated at a frightening pace, going from "Oh, damn" to "Oh, shit" to "Holy fuck, it's time to leave." Luckily the DD stalwarts, bouncers and patrons alike, got things under control, but not before Revenge and Regret finished their set with the bassist destroying his guitar in a post-show frenzy old-skool PVNK STILE.

The bands kept coming, next up was Canadian punkers Million Dollar Marxists who I thot really rocked. The had a great sound that showed they'd been doing this a while, they are on the Gearhead label if anyone's looking. After them was Vegas locals 1/2 Ast, I happen to know one of those dudes, too, from when I lived in Vegas. They put out some brief punk riffs, scolded the crowd for dancing, and pretty much gave the 1/2 Ast show they're known for.

Last up was a Sacramento band called Sans Sobriety, and they fuckin' rocked out the house. Metal the way it's meant to be played, fast and loud. Driving guitar and mad-as-hell drums, just all-out rockin'. Many beers and two ringing ears later, things finally filtered out and it was time to call it a night. It was a good trip, it's great to see live shows and hang out with the bands. How the hell else are you going to get a souvenir like this?

I didn't ask for it... the dude just handed it to me as he made a bee line off stage and out the door!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Comics Day

OMFG! OMG!!! Crisis is Heeeeere!!!!!

Infinite Crisis
Villains United
Where Monsters Dwell
Ghost Rider
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Y the Last Man
The Goon

I only flipped thru Infinite Crisis, but I saw alot of punching and things blowing up.

As if IC wasn't enough, I'm going to give Spider-Man's "Origin" crossover a chance. So Peter David better step up for the fist chapter, which I beleive he can. I'm stating now, for the record, that the result of Origin-- at least one of them-- is going to be Spider-Man having organic web shooters, like the movie. Seems a rather obvious extrapolation from what little is known, but we'll see. I don't know exactly how much one can "shake up" the Spidey world so my interest is piqued enough to find out.

Last week's "Marvel Mosnters Group" with Eric Powell drawing Hulk vs. Devil Dinosaur was awesome, so I hope Where Monsters Dwell proves as entertaining. But really I'm waiting for Fin Fang Four... I needed more Powell so this week's Goon 25-cent special is good timing. Also the collected Goon, "Fancy Pants Edition" looked really keen, it may be a pickup sooner than later.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Those That Walk As Gods Upon This Land

Typographer Mark Simonson does what I wish I had the patience, time, and academics to do myself: point out typeface anachronisms in historic-set movies. In this case it's Gangs of New York. I would say this is better than porn, but it's merely porn of a different color.

Over in Shangri-La, the font deities of House Industries have started a blog, Show and Tell. When you can hear wisdom from the craftsmen who chiseled the actual commandments into stone, who the fuck needs Moses?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Studio City

I've always been an admirer of all things architectural, and here is just a small sampling of classic Hollywood taken on a Sunday walk.

Studio City Gallery

Comment Challenge! Where does Edco live? One of the buildings featured is my humble dwelling.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Gameboy Retrospective: Evolution

Finally I have gotten my Gameboy Micro, picked up at Fry's Electronics last week. My all-silver theme was achieved by swapping faceplates with a buddy who bought the black body version-- it comes with a silver faceplate while the silver body version comes with a black faceplate. Thus I've got a nifty gleaming silver bullet, and my friend has a solid black device. We are both very pleased. The Gameboy Micro comes with two other faceplates, I kinda like the blue one, too... The faceplate option is ingenious of Nintendo, the secondary market will soon be flooded with faceplate variations, and I even assume forthcoming details on how to make your own. There are also several case variations on the Japanese market, including a super-cool version that mocks the original Famicom controller. No doubt I will soon be able to add a bright green face to the latest addition of my Gameboy Family.

The Micro feels great in your hands, it certainly feels better than a PSP. While it has a smaller screen than the SP, it is a damn nice screen. I do tons of work with mobile devices and I know a nice screen when I see one. The ultra-tight resolution gives every GBA game a sharp, new look.

The Micro only plays Advance game cartridges, and has a unique power supply. It would have been nice to share the GBA/SP power supply, but Nintendo is notorious for creating device-only peripherals. Thankfully, the Micro does have a standard headphone jack, which the SP lacked. Another nice touch was the inclusion of the felt carrying-case. I haven't really tested the battery life yet, but I would expect it to be at least the 10-11 hours of the SP, maybe more.

Nintendo has given us the Micro in order to keep the Gameboy install base intact... or... perhaps something more sinister. The Stockholm Syndrome I've been under with Nintendo has gone on for so many years I just don't know anymore. And here comes the DS. Oh, Nintendo, you had me at "Hello," and love means never having to say you're sorry. Or whatever the hell Ali MacGraw was rambling on about.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Gameboy Retrospective: Rayquaza

My Gameboy prayers were answered when Nintendo announced a special, limited edition "Pokémon Emerald Rayquaza Gameboy Advance SP" in 2004. Holy shit.

But it was only being offered in Japan... this proved to be a bit of an obstacle as it was being released on a certain day at a certain place and numbers were scarce. And the fact that I was living in New York. I thought since I actually knew someone living in Japan at the time that I could achieve my goal. This "friend" turned out to be totally lame and completely wussed out. Hopefully he is reading this right now and is still burdened with guilt for not helping me with the only thing I ever asked of him. Just kidding, buddy, you're the best. But not really, you suck.

As the release day came and went, I panicked. I really, really hate missing opportunities like this, as trivial as you might find it. I needed an Emerald Green SP. I had devoted so much to Pokémon, and I even have a Rayquaza, one of the most difficult captures in the Pokémon beastiary. And he's green!! Sure enough I found an Emerald SP being offered on eBay, and I bought it on the spot. Maybe I payed slightly more than I should have, but considering it needed to be shipped from Japan the price sort of evened out. I had thought it possible that the Emerald SP may be offered in America, especially when Pokémon Emerald was released, but I have that much more pride knowing I got mine from the source. To date, I've never seen another Emerald SP, and whenever I whip mine out it always garners attention.

I love you Pokémon Emerald Rayquaza Gameboy Advance SP!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Comics Day

Gameboyus Interruptus....

Devil Dinosaur
Rann-Thanagar War
First Thunder
The Other, Sketchbook

The sketchbook was a bit of a fence-balance but I'm a sucker for Mike Weringo. I guess the biggest news this week is what I didn't purchase, Absolute Watchmen. My store had an open copy and I was able to flip thru it. Damn, that's a nice book. Is is a hundred dollars nice? Maybe. Maybe. For a bookhound like myself that's not as much of a stretch as you'd think, but Amazon lists it for a mere $47. I'm pretty sure I should get this book, and soon, I don't know how many of these Absolute editions they make. And if you're going to get any of them, Watchmen is surely the one.

Gameboy Retrospective: Clamshell

One of the most demanded features of a new Gameboy was a backlit screen, to the point where you could even buy a kit to hack a backlight into your Gameboy Advance. Nintendo wised up and introduced the Gameboy SP. It was a completely redesigned Gamboy Advance with a folding "clamshell" backlit screen.

It was not hard to trade in my GBA for a significant price break on the SP. At first the SP only came in two colors, silver and a bluey-indigo "Cobalt." I opted for blue as it seemed to add that little extra and I was generally going through an all-things-blue phase. I had hoped more colors would become available, but none ever excited me. Eventually, more case colors were introduced, Onyx Black and Flame Red. Pokémon released four special Pokémon editions over time: Pikachu Yellow, Mudkip Blue, Torchic Orange, and Treeko Green. The green one was kinda cool, but it was more of a pastel-off-limey color that wasn't quite for me. There were a couple other variations offered in Japan, notably two Hello Kitty editions, pink and sky blue.

I feel the SP brought Pokémon playing-- and GBA playing in general-- to its highest level.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gameboy Retrospective: Advancement

By the time Gameboy Advance came around, I was well into making games for Gameboy Color. My company, 3d6 Games, renewed its license with Nintendo and applied for a GBA development kit (at the time actually called AGB). As an artist, the floodgates were opened. It was even better than a Super Nintendo! Layered backgrounds, transparency, alpha belnding, scaling, rotation, 16 color sprites, 256 color objects. Hot damn!

I got to cut my teeth on GBA development with Disney's Atlantis, it was actually one of the first GBA games to be released and I still think it holds up today. It was a traditional platformer based on the animated movie, and we sure put damn near everything the GBA was capable of into that game. While Pokémon Advance (Ruby) took my passion for monster training to new heights, the GBA brought with it tons of great games, not to mention the games I was creating at work. The re-releases of Mario were welcome reminders of how great the historic games are, and rare RPG's like Golden Sun harkened back to the wondrous RPG offerings of the Super Famicom. Other highlights of the GBA include Advance Wars, Mario vs Donkey Kong, and Metroid Zero Mission.

The GBA form factor, in my opinion, was a bit clunky. I never really liked the case colors and as nice as the full color screen was the lack of backlighting failed to showcase the graphics. The games were really where it shined. Even with the subsequent introductions of the 3D based PSP and DS, for my tastes the Gameboy Advance will always be the platform of choice.

Gameboy Retrospective: Poketo

The introduction of the Gameboy Pocket did not give gamers anything new as far as hardware, but it did give them a slimmer, more compact Gameboy and a new selection of case colors. The kelly green version immediately caught my eye, and Nintendo once again suckered me into purchasing a new version of essentially the same device.

My Pikachu mastering kicks into high gear with Pokémon Silver on the Pocket. This would last a good while, until...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Gameboy Retrospective: Color!

When Gameboy Color was introduced--- in four case colors, the gaming community went kind of nuts. I knew without a doubt I had to get my hands on the apple green Gameboy, and I did. "Color" as far as the games was a bit of a loose term on this generation of Gameboy. It had a palette of very limited colors and the screen was years from being backlit. At their core, most every Gameboy game is tile based, and the new hardware allowed only four unique colors for every eight pixel square. That sounds limited, and it is, but it was quite a jump from the strict greyscale limitations of the original Gameboy.

Game development split for the Gameboy with the introduction of color: Games developed and playable for any Gameboy device, and those developed exclusively for Gameboy Color. The Gameboy Color was backwards compatible, meaning it could play all of the original Gameboy Games, thus keeping Nintendo's install base incredibly strong.

For me, memories of playing on my first green Gameboy pretty much revolve around Pokémon. Completing Blue version and moving onto Silver... Little did I know what an obsession it would create. Sure, there were other games, but for a very long time, practically until the introduction of Gameboy Advance, my Gameboy was merely the device required to play Pokémon.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Gameboy Retrospective: The Golden Age

I purchased my first gameboy shorlty after it's release in the early 90's, I was about to graduate high school and my fever for videogames was well developed. To most observers it was just a toy, a bulky digital watch that played games. Soon after the Gameboy began sinking its toothy grip into the videogame world I would begin working at Electronic Arts, where a Gameboy was a necessary accessory and "gamer culture" was being born.

My early days with Gameboy were spent almost entirely with Tetris. Addictively, endlessly, Tetris. I was-- and to this day, still am-- wickedly adept at the quad-based puzzle game. It came to a point where I wouldn't even start a casual game on less than level 9, and if starting from the beginning could play a single game for an hour trying to best my own records. I find the original Gameboy version of Tetris to be one of the best ever, it's only close competition being Tetris Attacks for the Playstation. Coincidentally, I played a hand in a more recent version, Tetris Worlds (2001), for Gameboy Advance. The game's design and feel was hampered by a very un-Tetris like vision held by the license holders, but I can't really complain, I've been collecting royalties from its sales ever since. Me and Tetris got roots.

Other games that hold fond memories include Mario: Six Golden Coins, Spider-Man, Prince of Persia, Castlevania, and of course, Pokémon. The Gameboy ushered in the age of mobile gaming, and is in many ways responsible for my current career. I ended up selling my first Gameboy to a co-worker after getting myself a Gameboy Color, as I wanted a green Gameboy very, very badly. Still I remember it fondly, and the hours wiled away crafting me into the gamer I am today.