Category Archives: gift

Valhalla, I am coooominggggg

Visiting Valhalla

Local to me here in Toronto is a great store called Valhalla Cards & Gifts.  Its main trade is a wonderfully eclectic collection of greeting and post cards, most of which owner Chadwick Gendron designs himself.  Accompanying the cards is a wealth of knick-knacks and paddy-whacks on the shelves; Pantone mugs, off-kilter children’s books (Go the F**k to Sleep, why don’t you?), board games, fridge magnets, note books, ect. ect..

Of course, the products that catch my attention are retro game themed.  Here’s a couple of snaps I took of some while visiting the store:

Image of Pac-Man plug-and-play video games

Pac-Man plug-and-play video games

These Pac-Man plug-and-play video games apparently sell really well.  Even though the joystick makes Pac look like he has an orange goiter on his face.

Image of Space Invaders candy

Space Invader candy

An arcade of Space Invader candy.  What’s funny is that, back in its heyday in Japan, storeowners actually did move out all of their stock and installed all-Invaders arcades to ride the game’s immense popularity.  Here, though, Snake Plisskin seems to be scaring the customers away.

Image of Space Invaders candy

Invaders side art

Even the side art on these little guys is great.  Note the Pac-Man greeting card behind the cabinets.

Taking a trip to Valhalla is always pretty cool, with one never failing to find something they didn’t expect.  The store is located at 791 Queen Street West in Toronto, with operating hours between 11am and 7pm on weekdays and 12pm to 6pm on the weekends.  They also have a web store at ValhallaCards.com, as well the Twitter handle @ValhallaCards.

If you want to find out more about the history of the video games featured in these pics, consult your local Dot Eaters articles here:

The History of Pac-Man

The History of Space Invaders

 

 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Ms. Pac Man for iOS

The 12 Video Games of Christmas continues with Ms. Pacman for iOS.

Now, this one was before my time but I have actually played an arcade cabinet of this before. I can remember playing this and Operation Wolf at an old boardwalk arcade when I used to live in the UK. I was pretty young so I had to stand on a milk crate to play them. 

I remember having a great time with this because at its core the game is classic Pac Man action. It’s all here; the classic gameplay is replicated in style with a neat cabinet style controller interface down the bottom of the screen and faithfully recreated gameplay. If you’ve ever played the game before and are wondering just what the difference between the two games is here is the short version: Ms. Pac Man features redesigned mazes in four different styles, moving fruits, random ghost movement making predicting their movements a lot more challenging and new music and sound effects. 

There is a reason these arcade games were so popular (and let me tell you, Ms. Pac Man was one of the most popular arcade games of all time!) and if you want to get in on the arcade action you can drop some iTunes credit here and download the game to your iOS device.

Were you addicted to pellets back in the day? Share your stories of obsessive Ms. Pac Man playing in the comments section. No intervention required. 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Another World for iOS

Welcome back to the 12 Video Games of Christmas! 

Today, we’re looking at another fluidly animated platformer from the past with Delphine Software’s masterpiece: Another World.

Originally released for home computers and consoles in 1991 Another World (or Out of this World) amazed gamers with fluid animation and cinematic presentation that many thought was impossible on a cartridge. Using rotoscoping the visionary developer created a pulse pounding science fiction adventure that roped players into a brilliantly realised world. Who doesn’t remember that massive black monster bounding ominously towards them in the background at the beginning of the game?

With remastered sound, HD graphics and achievement support BULKYPIX has given iOS gamers a great little piece of gaming history if they missed out on it originally or they can’t play it on an original console anymore. I for one will be sticking to my Mega Drive copy though. Head here to drop some iTunes credit!

It’d be great to hear if anyone has played Another World or the equally excellent Flashback. Share some memories in the comments section everybody! 

The 12 Video Game of Christmas: Atari’s Greatest Hits

Wrapping up an entire video game arcade is a little tough.  Today’s entry in The 12 Video Games of Christmas makes it a whole lot easier.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app is a masterfully made collection of classic Atari arcade and VCS/2600 games, available for both iOS and Android.

“Options” is the operative word here, and Atari provides plenty of.  The app is available for free, and with that you get Atari’s cold-war influenced arcade game Missile Command.  If you want to add to your classic collection, you can: download 4-game packs for $0.99 each, buy a pack of 15 tokens for $0.99 that lets you sample any games you wish, or buy the whole shebang of 100 games for $5.99.  What’s even better, though, are the myriad of control options you get.  You’d be justified in worrying how a mobile app would handle the wide gamut of control options you get in the long history of Atari games, like the trak ball in Centipede to the thrust controller of Lunar Lander to the VCS paddles of Video Olympics and more.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app serves up multiple ways of playing the game, sometimes with 7 or more configurations; fixed joystick, touch-screen control, fire button on the right, fire button on the left, on the top, on the bottom… it’s a given that you’ll find some way to play the game comfortably, either in portrait or landscape mode.  What’s more, this app was the first to offer support of the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, and Atari has since come out with their own official Atari Arcade joystick for the iPad.  It’s not as retro-cool as the iCade, but it comes in lighter in weight as well as price, selling for $59.99 as opposed to $99.99 for the iCade.

All these options, plus 2-player simultaneous play via Bluetooth for some games.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app lets you defy physics by stuffing an entire arcade into the stocking of the retrogamer in your life.  Get it here from Apple’s app store, or for Android at Google Play.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: iCade

The arcade in your home!

Our entry today in The 12 Video Games of Christmas comes in its own beautiful wooden box:  the iCade.

This squat and sturdy mini-arcade cabinet started life as an April Fool’s Day prank in 2010, part of a tradition at the ThinkGeek website that also spawned the tauntaun sleeping bag.  As the iCade joke post went viral, however, response for a real device was so strong that ThinkGeek teamed up with ION Audio to actually produce it.  ION Audio is the consumer brand of Numark Industries, makers of professional DJ equipment.  Also partnering with the project was Atari, and their classic game app Atari’s Greatest Hits was the sole compatible game program with the iCade’s launch on June 27, 2001.
As stated, the iCade is solidly built, a wooden cabinet into which one slides any generation of iPad.  The two devices connect via Bluetooth, after which compatible apps will display the iCade as a controller.  Since launch, the list of supported apps has been growing, including Midway Arcade and the recently released Vectrex Regeneration.  The iCade’s joystick is professional grade, although its action could be a bit tighter.  The buttons, all eight of them, are rock solid and have a real arcade feel.  Overall, the iCade goes a long way to mitigating the control problems you generally find playing classic games on mobile devices.
The cabinet is available from ThinkGeek and various retailers, usually selling for $99.99.  Currently, however, ThinkGeek has them on sale for $69.99.  Recently ION has released the iCade Jr., a similar device for the iPhone, but I think this is delving a little bit into the ridiculous.  It is a bit cheaper, however, going for $49.99.  
Buy the retrogamer in your life an iCade, and you are truly giving them the gift of the arcade.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Atari Flashback 4

Just wrapped up with Pac-Man gift paper and stuffed into Santa’s sack is our next retro video game present for our 12 Video Games of Christmas: the Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe.

Probably the next best thing to actually going on eBay and bidding on an authentic Atari VCS/2600 game console, the Flashback 4 is a stylized replica of the venerable Atari workhorse video game console.  It plugs into your TV inputs, and included are 75 built-in video games, Atari VCS/2600 classics like Night Driver, Asteroids and Adventure.  Unfortunately, most likely due to licensing issues, third-party games such as Activision’s Pitfall are not on the list.

A nice inclusion, though, are wireless controllers in the style of the originals.  Ironic, considering Atari actually produced wireless 2600 controllers back in 1983, although the ones included in this package aren’t nearly as monstrous.  Replica game paddle controllers also come bundled with the deluxe model, which should make playing games like Breakout and Video Olympics feel much more natural.

The Atari Flashback 4 Deluxe is made by AtGames and sells for $79.99, although at this writing they are currently sold out, so you should keep an eye out for replenished supplies, or you might have to do some searching to see if they are available online at various auction sites and the like.

Here is the AtGames online store page for the Flashback.

Have you gifted Atari today?