Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Nemesis", Game Boy, 1990.

Konami, who do you think you are fooling? We know this is you, not "Ultra", and that the game's Gradius, not "Nemesis". Try harder!
The power to stop the reign.

You're about to strafe the stratosphere, obsessed with ending the long bloody reign of King Nemesis. Suddenly, that heap of rancid royalty's horde of henchmen swoops down out of a nebula, spraying you with lethal molecular bursts. You grit your teeth, clench the controls of your pressure-cooking starfighter, the Proteus 911, and power up its arsenal of land-blasting lasers and dual devices of destruction.

But wait! A barrage of enertron bullets streaks toward you. With lightning reflexes you fire your mauling missiles as you're hurled into yet another level of terror. Your last hope is to double your firepower and create a duplicate starfighter with the ship-cloning option. What will be your fate?

Bonus levels... or oblivion?

The headline is a little off -- this is ad copy that tries too hard, following strict guidelines on how many words they can go in a row without conceding to alliteration or heinous non-words for SF flavour. "[T]hat heap of rancid royalty's horde of henchmen": not the most elegant phrase. They suddenly swoop... out of a nebula? Just how fast are we traveling here? Their lethal bursts are ... molecular. My starfighter... is pressure-cooking. Then two sick alliterations in a row and a new paragraph discussing "enertron". None of this breathless flavour is contained in the game itself, much to its benefit.

The ad artwork is awesome, perhaps because in a Game Boy context the art has to be awesome, because the visuals the game itself delivers aren't going to be. Say what you will, up against such an array of badnasties (flying space skulls? siiiick!), I'd want my (apparently atomic?) defense to be something a bit beefier than the Zilog-80-powered original pea-soup Game Boy. Maybe a Wonderswan or Lynx?

The box art in the ad perplexes me somewhat also; I gather that the action is taking place occluded behind the dark side of the nearest of three gas giants. (But how is it the same side of the other two planets is lit? Is the star light source between them?)

And that's all my half-baked analysis for today! Not much deep insight, but at least you get some fanciful eye candy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"ZPC", 1996.

To some people it ruins their suspension of disbelief when their video game protagonists respawn, but you can neatly sidestep that thorny issue by making your first-person shooter's hero Jesus Christ.

-MARK 13:20

... all as rendered by the illustrator from KMFDM. Why? Because it's the '90s, that's why. Don't worry, the Bible verse checks out -- though admittedly you don't need to look for too long in that particular set of scriptures to find something appropriately apocalyptic and foreboding.

(I was going to say something about given its perplexing mash-up of theme and genre, "at least it wasn't Halo" -- a game with an explicitly religious name! Then I noticed the Bungie logo on the bottom of this ad... what's the connection? This game licensed the engine from Bungie's Marathon 2.

Ah yes, and the name: an acronym for "Zero Population Count", retooled from "Zero Population Growth" after butting heads with an existing organization with that exact name. (I suppose if the Messiah neither reproduces nor stays down for the count, that's what you get.) This concludes today's archaeological dig. Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Heart of Darkness" sampler, 1996.

No, I won't transcribe the text. I guess this is what happens when your game's entire budget is blown on development and you have absolutely nothing left to cover promotional expenses.

It's such an ignominious way to go down. Eric Chahi, game design superstar, riding the high from his virtuous graphics and animations in Delphi's adventure game Future Wars, goes on to singlehandedly build the unprecedentedly cinematic Out Of This World. His genius is aped by his former employer Delphine with Flashback and Fade to Black and by Delphine's North American publisher with Heart of the Alien, but his next project following his mangum opus is this schizoid platform epic of a boy and his dog, unclear if it wants to play up the innocent boy genius angle (whose ship is a dead-on copy of Commander Keen's Bean-With-Bacon Megarocket) or the gritty '90s moodiness that pervaded that angsty decade.

One thing that's guaranteed to terminate a gloomy atmosphere with extreme prejudice, however, is having to redeem two Gummi Savers wrappers. Yes, Pixar won a Gold Clio award in 1993 for its advertisement for the wobbly chewy candy rings, but they're neon, not nihilist. There is no "dark" gummy saver. (The "Darth Vader" M&M doesn't even come close.)

Chahi is still in the game, even if this particular development studio didn't survive the protracted development hell, and you can check out his 2011 god game From Dust... and see which candy manufacturer sponsored it!

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Young Merlin", SNES, 1993.

Kids these days think they invented graffiti? Here's someone kickin' it oldschool style -- roughly hewn from the living stone!
We don't need twee rhymes and alliteration to pander to your minuscule attention span! No catchy slogans! Instead, we will just sway you with the sheer epic, uh, epic-ness of it all. Look upon my brand, ye mighty, and weep! Westwood Studios was known for lush production values and those took them far to differentiate them from competitors. FTL's Dungeon Master solidified its genre but you could have bowled me over with a feather the first time I saw and heard the intro to Eye of the Beholder -- a feeling only extended in their own Lands of Lore. Maybe there were one or two RTS games before Westwood's Dune 2, but looking and sounding as good as it did, it made the argument far more compellingly. If it hadn't looked or sounded as good as it did, the Legend of Kyrandia would have been a sub-Roberta Williams graphical adventure game, full of an unlikeable combination of randomness, arbitrariness and walking dead-ness. Instead it's a fond memory of a likeable but flawed attempt -- likeable enough to parlay out into a trilogy!

Most of their success was on home computers. They did branch out, occasionally, to home consoles as they do here (and on their heartbreaking final title, where you can practically count EA's tread marks on their face), but the results weren't always, to paraphrase another company's name, PF Magic. Still, better an interesting failure than a boring success, and if you end up with a zero-for-two boring failure it can at least be a handsome one. Sometimes it can almost fool you. (And rest assured be failure here I just mean "fails to distinguish itself and rise above the competition" -- it's not a fatally flawed work, the SNES just had a large library.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"The Neverhood", 1996.

This one is obviously a must-play, albeit a must-get-around-to-playing-someday, as its release date hit somewhat of a gutter in my gaming life; sometimes you have the free time but you don't have the hardware needed to play the new games, other times you have the hardware but no time. Then of course there are the moments where you have free time and beefy hardware but no money in your games budget. Wait too long for that account to fill and the software becomes commercially unavailable, and then technology advances and the software actually becomes inaccessible completely. I hear that support for this lovely clay-filled game is gradually staggering forward in SCUMMVM... so someday I may again be in a position to experience this unique (well, it spun off a series, but all quite different) and idiosyncratic title! At that time I will have to make time for it, as it doesn't seem like much innovation has since been done in its field of gumbymated game aesthetics. (In a sense, it seems a precursor to Amanita Design's organic textured exploration games, but that may not be a fair comparison.)

You're fighting to protect good and
restore the Rightful king to power.

The bad news is you're the guy on the right.

"Clever, an utterly different vision and experience from all the lookalike games..." - NEWSDAY

The good news is you're a lot smarter than the guy on the left. Good thing, considering you'll have to solve more than 60 puzzles in order to succeed in the twisted, clay-animated world of Neverhood. You'll help Klaymen avoid pitfalls, collect clues, and kick a little clay butt. All to defeat the evil Klogg and bring the Neverhood back to normal. At least, as normal as it ever gets. []

"Embark on a clay adventure that breaks the mold."

I hear that Doug TenNapel played a key role in this game's unique visual design. I first heard his name as a sound effect in an issue of Scud: The Disposable Assassin (game ads pending, stay tuned!) and of course he made quite a splash inventing Earthworm Jim also (ditto). Of course, he's just one man on a team here (what would one man do with 3.5 tons of clay?) so his singular influence perhaps shouldn't be overstated, but I'm unfamiliar with any of the other big names on its roster.

I'm just thinking out loud here since the ad doesn't actually give me that much to dissect and analyse here: 60 puzzles, eh? That would add up to ... a very brief Sierra adventure game. Though the intent of the phrase is understood, Kicking a little clay butt will never mean anything to me other than kicking a small posterior formed of clay. Klaymen is a better invented name than Klogg. "Neverhood" itself is a brilliant '90s empty signifier, a contemporary (down to the same year!) of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, a suitable legacy for a decade that kicked off in '91 with Nirvana's Nevermind.

I could go on, but... why not just enjoy the brilliant ad art, celebrating its flawed artifice and physicality of fingerprints like Brechtian theatre apparatus? Making this game using 3D software to simulate clay would just be somehow a species of surrender. Certainly you can make it better, but you can't improve on it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chequemate C-3D Imaging System, 1997.

Was is das, a piece of video game equipment I don't know about? Or, hm, an elaborate scam to defraud investors?

Don't laugh. You just might wet yours when you see the in-your-face 3D effects the Chequemate C-3D Imaging System adds to your video games. Connect C-3D to your TV and game system, and BAM! -- images explode out of the screen while awesome visual depth sucks you right into the game's environment. Best of all, C-3D works on any video signal from any source -- so if you can see it on TV, you can see it in 3D. Think you're ready for something this wild? Call 1-800-889-9791 for the C-3D dealer nearest you. And tell 'em the big bad wolf sent you.

I always do a quick keyword search before transcribing these things to save myself the effort if someone's already done so. I can safely report that nothing remotely related to this product comes up when you search "red riding hood just wet her pants".

It's a curious story: buy a company with an intriguing product, hire someone to improve on the product, build stock value, fail to manufacture improved product, announce fictitious business deals, sell your stocks, be exposed as fraudulent, close the company... then self-publish a book celebrating your shrewd business acumen. But it makes you wonder at what point the plan shifted -- whether there was ever any intention of implementing the improved design, or if calling up the number would have revealed any dealers of the product nearby. It's a strangely elaborate set-up for a scam, or perhaps the scam was just a Plan B?Is this an ad whose purpose is not actually to sell product, but just to give the impression of being a viable company?

Utah always has an interesting tech culture -- remember WordPerfect? (I'm tickled to hear that one of WP's main beneficiaries is spending his fortune opposing gay marriage in California, while his business partner is spending his supporting it.) I have a hard time however reconciling my conception of techie Mormons with the panty-soiling ad copy.

I'm puzzled by the company's use of the very British spelling "cheque", especially when logos depict a chess piece. Spelling of the position that way does happen on Google, but it is in a steep minority. Also a kick, the premature Emeril-ization of the ad -- BAM! 3D visuals kick gameplay up a notch. And I suppose if you can't think of a better adjective to describe visual depth, "awesome" will do -- like the Grand Canyon! ("Profound" would be bit unusually philosophical for ad copy.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

"Burger Time", 1982.

Here's some iconic game ad artwork, illustrating a high-concept game of the old school.
Burger Time

A feast of an arcade game to go! For your Intellivision, Atari 2600, Apple II, or the IBM Personal Computer.

On casual scrutiny, the ad bears some similarity to Bump 'n' Jump's -- both games by Data East licensed to the Mattel Intellivision. The odd logos on top underline the connection. So much condiment-squirting!

"Graphics vary by system." What gets me is that I can't imagine that on any system the graphics looked as bad as the drawn screenshot presented!

I know of this game well, but never clocked much time against it, as I felt it lacked a certain purity, epitomized by the limited pepper use. Either this is a game about strategically sandwiching your enemies beneath burger-trimming platforms, or it is an action game wherein you zap evil sausages and eggs. In a sense it wanted to be both, but the split in focus irritated my immature brain, not wanting to have to play both games simultaneously. The restricted quantities of pepper telegraph Data East's lack of faith in the action game here, like they wanted to try multiplexing genres but couldn't commit to the second.

Of course, I always resented games with respawning bad guys anyhow. Lode Runner and Pac-Man were suspect, while Asteroids and Space Invaders could be counted on. This was part of why the persistent enemy bodies in Golden Axe were so reassuring: these opponents were down and you could keep your eye on their defeated bodies to make sure that they stayed down!

This may well tell you more about my psychology than about the game.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Solar Fox", 1983.

If you like this blog, you'll love World 1-1 and their "From the ads of the past, games of yesteryear" series. Since discovering it a few days ago I've been catching up on literally years of back-posting there, as its author essentially does everything I do here, only more so. Why just analyse the ad when you can also give a balanced critique of the game in question in its historical context, with gameplay videos to boot! In light of that work, with my trivial observations about strange artwork and unusual word choices I feel like Duchamp painting the moustache on the Mona Lisa. (... Actually, that's a role I'm content with.)
Nonetheless, while things have ground to a halt here with me busy reading over there, the long tail has delivered me my 5000th reader here -- in honour of which, I'd better give you folks a post! This one is a guest submission from my only regular commentator, Matthew Harris. You, also, can make guest submissions of game ad scans or related materials. I'm still processing my partner's parents' garage sale load of comics for new ads, but eventually those, too, will run out. And then what? Get on with my life, you say?





Solar Fox: "DON'T WORRY"



Sadly as the dated gen(d)re conventions of the ad reveal, the fox in the game's name is not the stone cold fox in the dotted dress, but the grey fox gentleman behind the throttle.

The quest for solar cells Earth needs to survive seems as timely as ever; "streaking" however no longer means the same thing it did in the late '70s, though I suspect the use here is in keeping with our current usage. (Streaking through 26 fields of solar cells... would require some judicious application of sunscreen.)

I'm not sure what the author was thinking with the perpetually bored-looking Roy Lichtenstein lady uttering then cutting-edge valley-girl-isms. Suffice it to say this ad could better present a game that everyone can enjoy.

I was unable to find any compelling hooks about this particular game on Mobygames or KLOV, so the analysis will have to stall at that shallow point. Wow! Five thousand views! Here's to a less half-baked ten thousand!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Arcades in the landscape of the popular imagination II

I've noted before that I dig when comic books incorporate video game arcades into their settings and backdrops. Over Christmas I found that my partner's parents had come into possession of some sad sack's comic collection (3 or 4 long boxes, an eerie parallel to my own collection liquidated through their garage sale) for cheap in hopes of selling it dearly at their sale next year (to the same mystery buyer who snapped up all of mine!) This has resulted in my having temporary access to a huge pile of new-to-me old comics, a huge boost to my pile of scanned ads, and indeed several further specimens of comics partially set in video arcades. This amazing recent history of the rise and fall of arcades, paralleling my most recent game ad post here, reminded me of this trove so here I share the most extensive comic book arcade appearance. Robin and his unwanted protegee Spoiler have infiltrated a pinball and video arcade where members of an organized crime group are rumoured to be conducting business (paralleling, silently, the actual association in North America of pinball to gambling and its ties to organized crime.) The criminals are found there in droves, and our heroes only escape with the help of the arcade's rotund mascot, "Fatso". And as usual, I dig the fake video game names the artists come up with.
Here in Shoot'em Up Alley we see arcade cabinets for "...nal Rampage" and "Die Trying III", upping the ante of its two earlier sequels. Also on the scene are the pinball machines "Crocky's Revenge" and the (perhaps Back to the Future-themed?) "Great Scott!" getting caught in the crossfire.
Someone alert Nintendo, I see a "Dario's World" cabinet with a mushroom -- much clearer infringement than the Great Giana Sisters. Also "Lethal Webbin" and "Galaxy Demonz."
Wrapping things up here we see a "Hell Hockey" air hockey table, a "Major League Football" cabinet, one for "Death Galaxy", and the hilarious "Street Combat" with a wholly plausible catchphrase: "If it moves... kick it! If it doesn't move... kick it 'til it does!"

OK, admittedly there's not much for readers to sink their teeth into here, but I get a kick out of these. Maybe this explains what happened to video arcades! Sadly, future illustrators will have to refer to photographs and blueprints rather than personal experience to draw on to lay out future such battlezones.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"Williams' Arcade's Greatest Hits", 1996.

In retrospect, this ad is tragic, without knowing why at the time.

Sorry... we're

Open All Night. No Quarters Needed.

Williams began as one of the big pinball companies in the '40s, consolidating its electromechanical domination when bought by a jukebox (!) company in the '60s then eventually, briefly, introducing a handful of classic early arcade games (see the box art for details) before ditching the sinking ships in favour of an industry with some serious profit potential for their gaming specialists -- video gambling terminals! So while it is dead to us, it did what it had to in order to evolve and surprise in a mercurial market. Still, it's a perhaps ironic fate for a company which saw its pinball business declared illegal in the US for decades due to its association with gambling.

Of course, the shift in gaming from arcades to homes was a big upheaval, but at the time of this ad the arcade industry wasn't as effectively defunct as it is now, 15 years later. How could they have known... the Funtime arcade wouldn't be re-opening, ever?

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Codename: Viper", NES, 1990.

This is an uninteresting ad for an uninteresting game. But the circumstances of the ad can make it interesting even if the end result is a yawn! To wit -- why is this basically the same ad template that Bionic Commando received? (Bionic Commando actually had two ads -- as we've seen here, the other one shared a layout with ads for Willow, and MegaMan 2 and Strider. None of these games enjoyed an ad layout unique to itself, but Bionic Commando is unique in that it was advertised using two different generic Capcom advertising templates!)
Code Name: Viper
You're The Drug Lord's
Worst Nightmare!
Your commander has instructed you to destroy a powerful drug cartel in South America, free innocent hostages, and bring in the murderous Drug Lord. No Sweat, Right?
Within minutes of landing in the South American Jungle, you've infiltrated the drug cartel's bases. Dodging bullets, you stumble into a hidden door to find better fire-arms and ammo. Hostages, too. Things are lookin' up!
You must now locate your fellow agent and collect the explosives you'll need to finish your mission -- and the murderous Drug Lord.
  • Power Jumping: A great skill when you need to dodge bullets or mount sneak attacks.
  • Hidden Doors: Behind them, find hostages, additional weapons and ammunition.
  • Secret Communique: As you advance through the 8 levels, you'll uncover the message -- and the dreaded Drug Lord.
  • Bombs: Handed off by a fellow agent, use these to escape to a more challenging level.
  • Spectacular Graphics: Sensational graphics make South America's dangers come alive!

The game may not be forgettable but the ad copy sure is! I have lots of practice in the gentle art of coming up with something to say, and even I'm dangling here -- not only is it a lousy ad, but it's an uninterestingly lousy ad, a cardinal sin for this blog. So let's skip the analysis and get right to the ad comparison. (Hope this animation works!)

(Way to auto-quash animated .GIFs, Blogger! You stink!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wrath of the Black Manta Sweepstakes, 1990

The text in this ad is wholly unremarkable. The picture, however, is worth a thousand words at least. When last seen, the Ninpo master Black Manta was traveling between New York, Tokyo and Rio trying to clear out a pestulent nest of underhanded international terrorist kidnappers. But to unwind a little between extrajudicial executions, he also engages in a little Ninja-style recreation -- like a good old-fashioned shopping spree!
Call now and talk to the Black Manta for your chance to win!

Tell him you want to enter the Black Manta Sweepstakes and win a wild $5,000 shopping spree. Money you can spend any way you like at your favorite store! CALL FREE TO WIN!

Only one call per person
Expires June 5, 1990

One Mitsubishi 35" big screen stereo TV and Nintendo Entertainment System
10 Winners! Mongoose 18-speed Hill Topper BMX bicycle and Trail and Tour helmet
200 Winners! Limited Edition Black Manta T-shirt

Play Wrath of the Black Manta, the action-adventure game packed with suspense and intrigue. Travel the back streets, alleys and underground tunnels of New York, Tokyo and Rio with Black Manta, super ninja crime-fighter, as he strives to squelch the mis-guided efforts of international terrorists bent on kidnapping innocent kids. Help Black Manta master the awesome powers of ten magical martial arts and go on to exterminate these vermin from the face of the earth.

A New, Exciting Thriller From Taito!

I like "call now and talk to the Black Manta for your chance to win!" Martial arts mastery is really a boom and bust industry, and in lean times Ninpo masters actually work at call centres.

Much of the text is surgically transplanted, if not entirely intact, from the earlier ad. Most of the dubious lexical choices are still in effect ("squelch" & the assertion that the terrorists are "international" and must be "exterminate"d after kidnapping "innocent" kids.) I do like how they clarify that the terrorists' efforts are "misguided" here -- these aren't the noble justified terrorists of SNK's Guerrilla War. Describing them as "bent on kidnapping innocent children" suggests that this is the primary end unto itself of their terroristic organization. Their goal: to kidnap ALL the childrens!

Black Manta is clearly seen scowling in the initial ad (complete with great Ninja toe-shoes!) while here he appears more exuberant. Say what you will, I bet entering a store in that get-up would garner you a request from security to unmask. Of course, his presence would never be detected -- since he is a ninja. But is the cart pushing itself?

I must confess, I am slightly confused by the disparity between what I read on one part of the page and what I read elsewhere: is this a contest to win a $5000 shopping spree at my favorite store or to win a 35" TV and NES? Or is it just assumed that those objects are what any red-blooded American child would blow their credit on? (I get a kick out of further scrutiny of the cart -- are these items all the child's pick, or is Black Manta also picking up some things on his shopping list? Now, the pile of goods includes: a Wrath of the Black Manta NES cart, a plastic jet fighter, a choo-choo train, a baseball bat and glove, soccer ball, Bubble Bobble cartridge (good pick!), Turbo Hero, and I think I see some miscellaneous sporting goods in the bottom of the cart -- tennis racket, tennis ball, baseball. Does that add up to five grand? Oh yes, the unaccounted difference manifests in the form of crisp bills in the young master's fist. Could I actually just redeem the entire shopping spree as cash-back? No?)

Ah, the '80s, when all you needed to have a modelling career was ownership of a ninja costume.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Wrath of the Black Manta", NES, 1990.

One hopes that Taito got a lot of bang for their buck for this game's ads, ubiquitous in a certain vintage of comic book. Sure, everybody knew about it -- but did any of them buy it? Certainly it's not instantly-recognized by name as a classic for the ages and doesn't appear to have been remade or re-released for Virtual Console etc! Mostly I'm writing about it here and now so I can share a frankly hilarious related cross-promotional sweepstakes tie-in ad next.

Crime and kidnapping have put a death grip on New York, Tokyo and Rio. A solitary figure strives to squelch the misguided dealings of a bunch of underhanded terrorists bent on kidnapping innocent kids. Only the Black Manta possesses the powers to save them.
  • Master the awesome power of magical Ninpo martial arts
  • Gather clues that allow you to track down El Toro, the evil drug lord
  • Exterminate international terrorists
  • Sensational color graphics
  • Exciting soundtrack
  • Furiously challenging
As Seen At The
World Championships
Rated 4 out of 5 for graphics and sound, challenge and theme/fun on the Power Player Meter!
Nintendo Power, March/April 1990

There is a persistent rumour that this game began as an unlicensed Aquaman game, with the player controlling his SuperFriends nemesis, Black Manta... but needing to be re-skinned as a generic ninja game after failing to land the license. This is obviously false since -- c'mon, Aquaman? That's not the kind of license one petitions for and fails -- it's the kind one accepts payment under duress to incorporate into one's game.

One imagines that whether the Black Manta was a practitioner of Ninjitsu or Ninpotsu varied depending on your region, for local reasons the same as the ones that rebranded a certain clique of Ninja Turtles to less ambiguously protagonistically Hero Turtles.

"Crime and kidnapping have put a death grip on New York, Tokyo and Rio" but on the plus side, violent crime is way down everywhere else. (White-collar crime on the rise in Shanghai, Brussels and Zurich. Not as fun to depict in video game form.)

The next sentence gives me so much to work with: "A solitary figure strives to squelch the misguided dealings of a bunch of underhanded terrorists bent on kidnapping innocent kids." Technically, squelch is an acceptable word there, but not what we would call a best fit. But it's very in keeping with the rest of the sentence. What kind of terrorists? Underhanded ones! (Not the clean-cut, above-the-board kinds.) What kinds of children do they kidnap? Innocent ones! Corrupted kids they recruit!

The bullet points are pretty compelling; "El Toro, the evil drug lord" (evil since stepping down from his position on the board at Pfizer) knows not to dip into his own supply, and instead drinks Red Bull religiously. In the interest of furthering international order and the rule of law, we don't merely apprehend these underhanded terrorists -- we "exterminate" them. (Perhaps they are partially insectoid?) And to up the ante, we are reminded -- these are "international" terrorists, not the white-bread domestic variety, unworthy of squelching or extermination. (How they could operate in Tokyo, New York and Rio and not be international, I'm unclear.)

Finally, there's "Furiously challenging". Is it only a challenge for those who are enraged? Or is it rather guaranteed to send you into a lather of incense with its difficulty? It's nice to see "Action! Adventure! Mystery! Intrigue!" -- yes, those are four words I like also, but I can't say that I've ever seen all four successfully attending the same video game party together. Maybe three.

Where can I get an "As Seen At The Nintendo World Championships 1990" badge to go with my "U.S. National Video Game Team Player's Seal of Approval" one?

Now for the small print: Why is the address they provide North Vancouver, a short bus trip away from my house? Was that really Taito's North American office? Was this ad printed and localised for a Western Canadian audience? These questions and more, I will never have the answer to. But while we're down there -- Why defend the trademark of Taito's other, not-named-here game Bubble Bobble?