Retro Procrastination

Six chapters into the second draft of my novel and I’m doubting my story’s setting so much that my writing has come to an abrupt halt. Not writer’s block exactly, just a mild panic as to my next move.

Do I continue with the current setting and edit everything at the end with a possible 90K+ words to fiddle with or stop and change it now before I go to far?

As I couldn’t decide what to do next I thought I’d go and clean my writing/retro games room instead. The missus has been nagging me to dust for ages as she cleaned the room last time (all the Dr Who stuff is hers) so, sadly, it was now my turn to do it. As the cliche goes, ‘there’s no time like the present’ so I attacked it head-on for over three hours today and boy did it need dusting!

This room has taken several years to complete and several more again to collect all the games, consoles and figurines that adorn the walls and cupboards. We’re still collecting but, as you can see, we’re drastically running out of space to display things properly without piling them on top of each other.

Sarah Andersen’s scribble explains perfectly how we both managed to accumulate such a lovely collection of Retro games:

How I Spend My Money ©sarah andersen
How I Spend My Money
©sarah andersen

So here’s a few pictures of our lovely, neat and tidy (and dust free) writing/games room:

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The demise of ‘Jumpman’ leads to the meteoric rise of ‘MAR10’ – Happy #NationalMarioDay

MAR10 – #NationalMarioDay

Today marks the celebration of one of the gaming world’s most iconic legends, MARIO the Italian Plumber.

It's a me... Mario!
It’s a me… Mario!

March the 10th was chosen as the best day to celebrate this legend, as some of you may have already guessed, because of the fact that the abbreviated date, Mar 10, looks like the name Mario.

Personally I have always loved all things Nintendo ever since I first played Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and my fascination with the loveable plumber has continued ever since, although he wasn’t always a plumber and originally he wasn’t called Mario, either.

Nintendo Playing Card Company
Nintendo Playing Card Company

Nintendo, a playing card company founded in 1889, moved into the arcade video game arena in 1975 and sought to increase their share of the American market with the launch of the arcade game Radar Scope in 1980. However, although initial market feedback on the arcade cabinets was encouraging, things didn’t go as expected. Due to the logistical error in building the cabinets in Japan, rather than in the US, delays and higher prices due to shipping costs resulted in Radar Scope almost crippling the company. Rivals such as Taito, Namco and SEGA in Japan and Atari, Midway and Williams in the US were cornering the market with their successful and cheaper games. The introduction of horizontal scrolling in Defender (Williams, 1980) aged all other vertical ‘space shooter’ games overnight and for Nintendo of America, a fledgling company with very little clout in the gaming market at the time, it was disastrous.

Radar ScopeNintendo had to ‘send another game to replace the motherboards in each of the 2,000 unsold [Radar Scope] cabinets; that way, they would only have to be redecorated with the colours of the new title’ (Audureau, W., 2014). This saw the start of Nintendo’s ‘Popeye Project’ as the replacement game, designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, was originally based around the characters, Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto (as the brute dispatching the barrels at the hapless sailor). Nintendo hoped this new game would tie into the popularity of Popeye after the 1980 release of the film starring the late, great Robin Williams. Unfortunately, due to Nintendo failing to secure the rights to use the Popeye characters, Miyamoto and the team had to re-think the game and design it using their own unique characters. Continue reading

Wishing You A Very Retro Christmas

Just the other day, after a marathon seven hours listening to classic 70s and 80s Christmas songs as I wrapped up all my Christmas presents, I started to think of my Christmases as a child and the vast array of cool toys that were available in the shops. Although as a child from a not-so-well-off working class family I only dreamt of owning most of them.

Aside from writing stories and making stuff up, one of my favourite passions is collecting the retro games and toys that I, or my parents, could never afford during my childhood in the 70s and 80s, whether they be TV video game systems, games consoles, classic board games, wind-up or mechanical toys, electronic ‘vacuum fluorescent display’ (VFD) table-top and handheld games or awesome toys such as the British version of the American GI Joe action figure known as ‘Action Man’ – “now with gripping hands!”

Action Man
Action Man
Grandstand's Munchman
Grandstand’s Munchman

The last day of school term before Christmas or summer break (or the last week if you were really lucky) meant being allowed to bring games into school to play. This allowed the wealthier kids to show off their vast array of electronic games from manufacturers like TOMY, Grandstand and CGL, to name but a few. As the majority of them were only single player games it was always just the popular kids or the bullies that were allowed to have a go, whilst the rest craned their necks to try and get a glimpse of the VFD action. Continue reading