Pinball Hall of Fame
Back in the "day," Gottlieb manufactured some of the best and most memorable pinball machines ever made. There was a time when almost every corner drug store or grocery store had at least one pinball machine. And you'd better believe I found every one in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, the golden age of the pinball machine has come and gone. But it is most certainly not forgotten. And thanks to the developers at Farsite and the publishing team at Crave, we can now carry around 13 of Gottlieb's classic tables in our pocket via the PSP.
Pinball Hall of Fame: the Gottlieb Collection is a PSP compilation of some of Gottlieb's most-popular pinball machines. As such, the tables available in the game span several decades, and although playing pinball on a portable gaming system isn't as good as the real thing, Pinball Hall of Fame does a very good job re-creating these pinball classics. The thumbstick launches the ball, which bounces and rebounds with realistic physics until it falls out of play, and the touch-sensitive shoulder buttons are used for the flipper buttons. Making the shoulder buttons touch-sensitive means you can either slam the ball or put a light touch on it. This only adds to the already-great feeling you get from every table in the game playing and sounding exactly like its real-life counterpart.
Not all of the tables are available from the beginning, as you have to tune your pinball skills and earn enough credits to unlock additional Gottlieb tables. It can be frustrating at times trying to beat certain tables, but this was obviously done to add some challenge to the game. Still, it would have been nice to just choose the table of your liking from the get-go.
As I already mentioned, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection has realistic ball physics and flipper controls, but those wouldn't mean a thing if the machines themselves didn't look good, would it? Fortunately, each table has been recreated in great detail and is brought to life in rich, vivid colors. Keep in mind, of course, that these pinball machines where huge in real-life, so in order to make them fit on the PSP's tiny screen, the developers had to make some compromises. The most notable of these is the camera angles, several of which seem either too close or, when you zoom out to the full-table view, make things appear too tiny. Additionally, you almost always see the table's scoreboard reflected on the glass, which makes it hard to see the ball clearly when viewing the table using the zoomed-out view.
The sound effects are just what you would expect from a pinball machine, with all the dings, bells and whistles load and clear. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear the all-too-familiar sounds from other classic arcade games in the background, making it seem as though you are in an arcade. The final little audio touch is an announcer who tells you some background on each machine and offers tips along the way, but this doesn't really add much to the game itself.
If you're looking for a fun game to pick up and play for a few minutes at a time, or if you've heard about the fun of Metroid Prime Pinball (review) but own a PSP instead of a Nintendo DS, you can't go wrong with Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection.
Great ball physics and flipper control.
The tables look good, but the camera views are mostly too close.
The tables sound like the real things, and the background arcade nosies are a nice touch.
A fun game that can be played for five minutes or five hours.
A good addition to anyoneâ€™s PSP collection.-- Randie Kilgore
All content copyright DailyGame 2002-2005
Bill would keep violent video games out of children's hands
It is no exaggeration to say that video games can help train people to kill. Ask the people we trust most, the United States military.
The military succeeds at the difficult task of getting people to overcome their natural barriers to committing unthinkable acts of violence. They use video games to train our servicemen and women for the rigors of combat.
The same games for children reward cop-killing, auto theft and drug dealing. An underage child should not have the unilateral discretion to walk into a store and purchase such a product. This is common sense.
As regional director for the Parents Television Council, I regularly speak to parents who want all the help they can get to protect their children. Many have trouble keeping up with what is in the latest games or which shows and movies that should not be viewed by their children. They want help to keep these games out of their kids' hands.
Currently, a 10-year-old could purchase a Mature (M-rated) or Adult Only (AO-rated) video game. There are voluntary guidelines that tell retailers not to sell these products to children, but they have been a failure because of their voluntary nature.
A new law (SB 492) proposed by Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, would basically take those guidelines and make them law. Despite the failure of the voluntary guidelines, the multibillion-dollar video game industry is fighting this legislation as it did (unsuccessfully) in Illinois, Michigan and California.
The evidence is conclusive: Countless independent studies confirm that repeated exposure to graphically sexual, violent and profanity-laced video games has a harmful and long-term effect on children.
Most recently, researchers at Michigan State University used functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to observe which areas of the brain are stimulated when a subject plays violent video games. Researchers concluded, "there is a causal link between playing the first-person shooting game in our experiment and brain-activity pattern that are considered as characteristic for aggressive cognitions and affects ... Violent video games frequently have been criticized for enhancing aggressive reactions such as aggressive cognitions, aggressive affects or aggressive behavior. On a neurobiological level we have shown the link exists."
If these games are marketed to and manufactured for adults as the industry insists, then their sale to minors should be restricted. This solution protects our children without interfering with the rights of adults. We place similar restrictions on the sale of firearms, tobacco, alcohol and pornography. This is no different.
Video game retailers have failed to police themselves. A year ago, the Parents Television Council conducted a secret shopper in several cities across the country and found that more than 50 percent of stores were willing to sell M-rated video games to children under 16 without asking for identification.
Law enforcement in Michigan found about half of the stores they investigated sold adult-rated games to minors without asking for ID. In New York City a sting found 88 percent of stores selling M-rated games to minors.
The children of Florida are being bombarded with sexual and violent images through video games. The more than 67,000 members of the Parents Television Council in Florida are calling for the passage of SB 492 to give parents another tool to protect their children from such harmful influences. Florida must follow the lead of Illinois, Michigan and California and show that we care about our children as much as they do theirs. Parents should contact their legislators about this bill to urge a quick passage. Remember that our children are watching!
Bandai Namco Games Opens Doors in March
The operation is complete.
by Anoop Gantayat
January 11, 2006 - Starting March 31, you'll be buying games published by Bandai Namco Games rather than just Bandai or Namco. Bandai Namco Holdings, a holding company formed to take care of all the details regarding the planned merger between Bandai and Namco, announced today the formation of Bandai Namco Games, which will oversee all game content-related operations of the Bandai Namco Group. The company, which is officially considered a successor to Namco, will open its doors on 3/31.
Bandai Namco Games is comprised of five former divisions: Bandai's videogame contents division, Namco's home game contents division (known formally as CT Company), Namco's arcade game contents division (AM Company), Namco's Mobile Contents division (CX Company) and elements of Namco's Incubation Center, a division devoted to exploring new fields. The company will house a total of 1,705 employees, with 55 coming from Bandai and 1,650 coming from Namco. Namco chairman Masaya Nakamura will serve as chairman of the new firm with current Namco vice president Shukuo Ishikawa serving as president.The standard Namco name will carry on. Namco's ET Company, which managed Namco's amusement facilities, and the remaining elements of Namco's Incubation Center will form a new company carrying the Namco name. This firm will also have Nakamura as chairman.
Video Games Get Sexy Con At the "Nob Hill Masonic Center"...
Evergreen Events today announced the "Sex in Video Games Conference: Exploring the Business of Digital Erotic Entertainment." The con will be held at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco, California from June 8-9, 2006. As the name suggests, the conference will focus on the incorporation of sex into videogames and how adult themes are changing the market. This event, the first of its type, will apparently become annual. "This conference is long overdue," says Dave Taylor, producer of Doom and Quake. "The staggering progress in PC rendering and simulation technology that has been relentlessly driven by the game industry for years is now poised to turn the entire adult entertainment industry on its ear."Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka, President of Evergreen Events added, "In an effort to focus on the business of digital erotic entertainment this conference will help to facilitate conversations that will enable both the game industry as well as the adult entertainment industry to develop a more mature perspective on Adults Only games as well as ways to grow that segment of the industry."by David Radd
Teaching history with video games
Mike Antonucci, 05:28 PM in Gaming, Mike Antonucci
There's a lot of hype about teaching history with video games -- particularly World War II games.
And I've slowly reached the conclusion that there's some credibility to the notion.
I've been spending a lot of time with "Call of Duty 2: Big Red One,'' which honors the famed 1st Infantry Division. The Fighting 1st, also known as the Big Red One, saw extraordinary action during WW II.
The game (for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube) made my 2005 top-10 list for reasons unrelated to historical significance. And there's no doubt in my mind that its selling points are related entirely to its entertainment value, not its educational bonuses.
But I can't just dismiss the historical factor.
I don't think you can play the game without absorbing SOMETHING in the way of WW II history, and besides, people under 25 don't seem to know much about anything that happened before 1980. In other words, it's not like the core gaming audience already knows this stuff
At a minimum, you become highly conscious of the war's scope, as the opening missions unfold across Northern Africa instead of starting in Italy or on the beaches of Normandy. Is that enough to get a gamer interested in the full history of the real Fighting 1st or to Google a mini-biography of German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel? I'm dubious. But there's still a residue of information left behind in gamer brains.
If you're a parent, consider this: If your child emerged from playing a trendy war video game with an awareness that a famed U.S. infantry division fought its way from North Africa to Sicily, was in the vanguard of the D-Day invasion and then battled across Europe, wouldn't you consider that a plus?
Why did the game make my top-10 list? What I probably liked best was the balance between moments of frenzied combat -- forcing me to make urgent assessments about the location and tactics of the enemy -- and the game's ability to keep moving you along. You get a sense of being at risk and under pressure without being so confused that you can't progress from one mission to the next.
Dean, of course, raved about the "Call of Duty 2'' that was developed for the Xbox 360 and PCs as his game-of-the-year selection. But that sets the bar a little high for people who want to share his fun, especially given how challenging it has been for the average consumer to even acquire a 360 machine.
Think video games are just for the young? Think again
Thursday, January 5, 2006
By Jose Antonio Vargas
The Washington Post
Barbara St. Hilaire, 69, is known in the video-game world as "grandma gamerGrandma won't let go of the controller.
For more than a week, Barbara St. Hilaire has been logging heavy leather recliner time, snacking from a big Tupperware bowl of jalapeno-flavored popcorn, yelling unprintable words at her 35-inch TV - all the while trying to kill ghosts in the horror video game Fatal Frame 3. St. Hilaire, 69, is a gamer, no joke.
Like many gamers, she owns a PlayStation 2, a GameCube and an Xbox, and subscribes to Electronic Gaming Monthly, Computer Gaming World and Game Informer. She drives her red 1997 Pontiac Grand Am to a nearby GameStop, where she buys and exchanges games, and also to Hollywood Video, where she rents them. Unlike many gamers, she's been gaming since the early 1970s. Even with her hearing aids, she turns up the volume on games until, one of her grandkids says, "her room literally starts to shake." Her treasured strategy guides - the Cliffs Notes of tough-to-beat games - are tucked next to her equally treasured cookbooks.
"I was a little frustrated last night. I was a having a real hard time with one ghost. Kuze Family Head. That's spelled K-U-Z-E. He'd throw stuff at you. I'm on Chapter 8 and there are - let me check - 12 chapters. It's a tough game. It was 2 in the morning so I said the heck with it and I shut it off and I went to bed," St. Hilaire said from her home in Mantua, Ohio.
There is an AARP generation of gamers, a group that logs on to Gamegeezers.com and would qualify for senior-citizen discounts if game stores offered them. In fact, 19 percent of computer and console gamers are older than 50, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the industry's trade group. They play a variety of games - from laid-back fare such as solitaire and mah-jongg to first-person shooters (military-themed titles are hits). Dorothy Rosencrans, a 73-year-old bridge player from Boca Raton, Fla., last year wrote Playing Around: My Adventures on the Zone.com, referring to a popular site for casual gamers, especially women.
Still, a 69-year-old who spends a Saturday afternoon in Wal-Mart test-playing Xbox 360s is no ordinary gamer. "I'd kill for one of those," St. Hilaire said.
"She's done this gaming thing all these years," said Jean Breznai, 74, a longtime friend of St. Hilaire's. "We'd go to bingo then she'd go home to get on the Nintendo."
St. Hilaire lives with her daughter, Linda, 44, an office manager, and Linda's four kids, ages 12 to 22. The eldest, Tim, started a blog last June, chronicling the goings-on in a one-story, five-bedroom abode where everyone is a gamer - there are no fewer than 17 game consoles in the house, from a Nintendo 64 to a GameBoy SP to a Dreamcast - and Grandma is the most addicted of them all. On a recent post, written after Grandma finished Growlanser Generations, a two-disc strategy game of magic, weapons and kingdoms, he wrote: "Last night, Grandma did it. Final time on Growlanser III: 64 hrs 45 min. Final time on Growlanser II: 31 hrs 10 min. Total combined time on Growlanser Generations: just under 96 hours. Solid. Total bags of popcorn consumed: 37. Total cans, 12 oz Diet Coke consumed: 54."
Tim calls the blog OGHC - "Old Grandma Hard Core."
"My friends know Grandma, and I was writing the blog for them. It was more of an Adam Sandler humor kind of thing - look at grandma, look at what she's doing. But then other people began reading it, and I had a hard time convincing people that it's not a hoax. People wanted proof - show us some photos, some videos. Grandma thought it was all so hilarious," Tim said.
Then things got out of hand. The blog has gotten more than 52,000 page loads a week. In the past month or so, St. Hilaire has been featured on Web sites in Norway and Germany.
In August, Michael Novak, 14, of Ashtabula, Ohio read Tim's blog, watched the video feeds and told his dad, Jeff, about it. "She reminded me of my grandma," said Michael, whose grandmother Gayle passed away in 1996. "The way she talks, the way she laughs. If my grandma were around right now, she'd be playing video games with me." Jeff contacted Tim through e-mail, and Tim asked Grandma to call Michael, which she did. "They talked about video games for 20 minutes," said Jeff, "and Michael was in heaven."
She's been playing since the early years of Pogo, Asteroids and Space Invaders, when she was in a bowling league and spent countless coins hitting arcade games in the bowling alleys. She'd play games before and after work; she was a bookkeeper at a bank, then a machinist at Black & Decker. "I remember us being the first one to have an Atari on our block," said her daughter Linda.
Two very good things have come out of all this gaming, her family says: One, she's always busy. Two, they always know what to get her for Christmas and her birthday.
Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection
January 5, 2006 - The further the game industry progresses, the stranger playing pinball on modern consoles becomes. But it's as though technological wonders such as Half-Life 2 or Halo 2 take anything from a classic (read: real) game of pinball. This is especially true in the case of portable pinball.
What's more, each table comes with an original flyer advertisement and a brief, narrated biography recounting its history. Both these additions offer a little insight into the pinball universe, and since nostalgia is one of the game's selling points, The Gottlieb Collection would be less of an experience without them. And if you're confused about the goals of a specific table, or want hints to improve your game, the game offers narrated help as well.
Essentially, pinball is a game of timing and physics. And while the timing part is completely up to the skill of a player, the physics is up to mother nature, or in this case, the programmer. The physics driving The Gottlieb Collection feel a tiny bit floaty, but not too bad. That aside, pinball fans will find a lot to like, such as the analog-controlled ball launcher, multiplayer for up to four people and multiple viewing cameras to ensure you get the best view.
It features five flippers, with four dedicated to the lower half while the remaining two create a mini playfield on the upper right portion of the table. Genie is all about scoring huge bonuses. To do this, you need to concentrate on several chunks of the table, namely the rollovers found on the edges of the table and the red targets located at the top and on the left. It's fast, fun and challenging. Everything a pinball game should be. The same goes for Black Hole. Only Black Hole features a groovy lower-reversed playing surface in the center of the table
The tables themselves, although technically accurate, would benefit from a bit more graphical detail. Sharper textures would have brought out the visual nuances of each board and made them look like spinning images of their physical brethren. Having said that, the action is easy to follow and interface easy to read. The high score sits on the upper left side of the screen, accompanied by a table-specific logo. Remaining credits sit on the upper right hand of the screen.
Mastering each table requires precision timing and a thorough knowledge of the obstacles. The Gottlieb Collection offers a list of unlockable extras for those who can brave the challenges of each machine and rack up a ludicrously high score. You can unlock a Tournament Mode, good for groups of competitive pinball junkies. You can also customize the look of your ball using the Custom Ball option and watch a historic slideshow on the Gottlieb factory. These extras, while mildly cool, only serve to increase the nostalgia factor and don't really increase the time you spend with the game.
The only bonus you can spend time with is the unlockable Play-Boy table and accompanying Payout Mode. You can select one of two modes to play, either poker or blackjack. The goal in poker is to launch ten balls and attempt to make the best hand possible. In blackjack, you need to launch one ball at a time to try to get as close to 21 as possible. Both these games offer some amusement, but lack the appeal of the main pinball machines. Interestingly enough, some of the unlockables are "hidden" by the in-game menu (all you see is a series of questions marks but are clearly listed in the manual.
One of the cooler aspects of the game, however, is the fact you can share some of the tables with other PSP users by using Game Sharing. You can't share them all, but you can still send over Black Hole, Genie, EL Dorado and six others.
Closing CommentsPinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection offers a decent experience overall by providing 10 classic boards. The physics feel a little off, mainly due to the ball's lack of weight, but it gets the job done in the end. The game also packs a history lesson through authentic game flyers and factoids, so those looking for a bit of nostalgia will find it. Furthermore, it just plays well on the PSP. There's no doubt fans of real (or virtual) pinball will find a lot to like here. NOW CALL THE GAME GALLERY AND BUY THE REAL THING
Action mouse: Amusement machines
Auction Mouse once spent two days in Las Vegas and hated it. After 48 hours of pumped oxygen and supersize burgers eaten against the constant aural background of pinging slot machines, I was ready to burn my Celine Dion ticket and crawl out on my hands and knees.
All of which makes me mildly concerned about the news that Blackpool is supposedly becoming the new Vegas after the deregulation of our gambling laws. So in an attempt to get myself in the mood, I'm planning to go along to the forthcoming Christie's sale of vintage amusement machines on January 19.
More than 150 amusement machines dating from the 1880s to the 1950s will be auctioned and Christie's is inviting potential buyers to visit its showroom in South Kensington to given them a whirl.
Highlights of the sale include three mutoscopes - coin-operated machines that showed moving reels of photographs - featuring ladies undressing, dancing and massaging each other. The estimates for these start at £1,000.
Several pinball machines from the 1930s ranging in estimate from about £120 to £200 are available, as well as fortune telling machines from 1890-1950 (estimates: £150 to £1,800) and a rare Charlie Chaplin wall machine dating from 1916 where the player must aim a ball at his trademark bowler hat (estimate £1,800 to £2,200).
Given the obvious difficulties of postage and packaging, eBay has fewer amusement machines on offer but there are still some intriguing offers online.
A 1958 "Rocket Ship" pinball machine restored to factory specifications was going for more than £3,000 last week, while a 1980s "Attack From Mars" pinball game provoked furious bidding between 22 potential buyers - eventually going for £3,753.
According to Laurence Fisher at Christie's, collectors should keep an eye out for the earliest Sega games (currently worth about £1,500) and machines from the 1980s because they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity.
"Vintage amusement machines have held their value over a considerable amount of time so one can assume it's a safe area," he says.
"But it's a very specialist market and often collectors tend to go for what they like rather than pure value.
"Condition is vital. You should consider not only whether it is scratched but also how original it is and how many replacement parts have been added."
Unrestored older machines are also rarer because production was limited under tighter gambling and prohibition regulations. At the turn of the century, English law dictated that an amusement machine could only be considered legal if it was a question of skill rather than chance.
In one Christie's lot, a wall machine manufactured in London circa 1910, there is a card displayed below the ball guide asserting the legality of the game. It reads: "Protected by the Skill."