Monthly Archives: July 2016

90’s Console War: Sega’s Mini Mega Drive VS. Nintendo’s NES Classic Mini

Three months ago, Sega announced the release of the Sega Mega Drive Classics Hub on the Steam console.  This nostalgic blast into the past featured hundreds of classic Sega titles that players could purchase for their virtual library.  Gamers were transported into what looked like a kids’ bedroom from the 1990s with an old CRT-TV to play their favorite games.  Sega really nailed it with their ingenious marketing strategy, but now they announced something even better.

Sega officially signed off on releasing the Mini-Sega Mega Drive Console.  Designed to look like the classic Sega Mega Drive console from the 1990s, Sega’s newest console features two controllers and over 80 games pre-installed into the hardware.  The device even provides a cartridge slot so that you can dust off those old games you stored away all these years!  This device will also provide features such as becoming a Plug & Play for your TV, AV Cable, AC adapter, and the beloved Sonic the Hedgehog games that made Sega the company it is today.  Fans can expect to get their hands on the Mini-Sega Mega Drive Console starting in October.

The Mini-Sega Mega Drive Console isn’t the only surprise for 90s gamers.  Sega will also be releasing the Ultimate Portable Game Player Handheld Console.  This Sega-branded handheld features an SD card slot to play ROMs on the go.  Just like the Mini-Sega Mega Drive Console, the portable handheld system comes with 80 games installed.  Other than the similar features stemming from the mini Mega Drive device, the handheld system will include a USB charging cable when you run out of battery.

90s gamers will be sure to enjoy from the myriad of timeless classics featured into the devices.  Titles featured will include Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat, Jewel Master, and many other classic games to choose from.  Sega fans are sure to enjoy this virtual blast from the past right into their own homes!

With all of this 90s nostalgic excitement, it’s interesting to note that Sega isn’t the only company peddling this marketing strategy.  Nintendo initiated the strategic bandwagon with their release of the NES Classic Mini.  The NES Classic Mini is a mini Nintendo Entertainment System packed with 30 of the most treasured games to play.  This cute design idea fits into the palm of your hand and comes with an HDMI port to plug into a modern TV.

A freshly manufactured NES game pad will be redesigned to capture that old-school feel of the device.  Nintendo fans can expect to grab their hands on the device on November 11th for only $60.  While you can’t insert your old games into the cartridge slot, gamers can play from one of 30 games stored into the on-board memory.  Classic titles to choose from include Final Fantasy, Balloon Fight, Metroid, Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Pac-Man, and lots of other great games.

It’ll surely be an interesting Christmas season this year.  Millennial gamers will want to ask Santa for either the Mini- Sega Mega Drive Console or the NES Classic Mini.  Either way, both companies are paving the right paths to reach out to both the 90s gamers and modern gamers that haven’t even played the old console yet.  Both audiences are being tapped and both will surely be getting the most bang for their buck.

More than twenty years later and the classic console still rages on!  Who will reign as the top console in this year’s holiday sales?  Will Sonic the Hedgehog help ring in more Sega sales?  Could the Mario Brothers prove once again that Nintendo will be the dominant home console in America?  Or maybe the Tickle Me Elmo will become re-branded as the surprising new toy that all soccer moms want to get their hands on.  The classic console war will resume once again in this year’s holiday sales event!

Sega and Nintendo are really hitting home runs with their unique product strategy!  Other than creating new titles for existing games, both companies are tapping into the millennial audience that are nostalgic of their favorite home console.  I have played the Sega Genesis long before Steam started cranking out Indie games, but Nintendo was always be my home console of choice each time.

Who knows what’s in store for the timeless home consoles we grew up with in the decade of snap bracelets and Nirvana.  Could we see a mini SNES console in the works with hundreds of games installed into the device?  I for one would gladly put my hard-earned money towards that product!  We may be pushing farther into the future, but we will always be nostalgic of our treasured consoles we grew up with.  In the end, we can never really understand our future until we learn about our past.

Stranger Things are Happening!

Every once in a while, Netflix releases a jaw-dropping series that people binge-watch for the week.  Television networks do crank out new series every year, but Netflix seems to push out series with edgier content.  Netflix has become the new TV and more audiences are flocking to the streaming series each year.  This summer has been great for binge-watchers alike, with the new sci-fi/thriller series Stranger Things keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

Stranger Things is a supernatural sci-fi thriller series that was released on July 15th.  The series revolves around the disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers in Indiana on 1983.  Will’s mother Joyce fears for her son, searching to find Will after his disappearance.  Police Chief Jim Hopper launches his own investigation while on duty, only to discover a horrific surprise of his own.  His trio of friends Mike, Lucas, and Dustin look for their lost friend after their Dungeons & Dragons match.  Upon searching for Will, the trio meet a mysterious woman named Eleven who has psychokinetic abilities within her mind.  This storyline runs into even more complications as the U.S. Military is out on the hunt for Eleven.  The shows cast include Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Charlie Heaton, Natalia Dyer, Cara Buono, and Matthew Modine.

Fans raved over the release of Stranger Things, especially for its homage to the nostalgic 1980s films.  The costumes, trends, and overall culture fit together to create the look and feel of a film right from the 80s.  For the series title sequence, red neon lighted letters are slowly placed together to spell out ‘STRANGER THINGS’ in the end.  Audiences that grew up watching classic 80s films will be sure to travel back to the days of walkie-talkies, communist Russia, and that Atari system that everyone wanted for Christmas!

The 1980s was a golden year for sci-fi/thriller films that hit the theaters.  Customers flocked to the theaters to see John Carpenter’s The Thing or to watch Sigourney Weaver kick some alien ass in Aliens.  Japanese director Katsuhiro Otomo even jumped in on the bandwagon with the release of the classic anime Akira on July 16th, 1988.  It was a great year for sci-fi films since those were all in the rage during that decade.

Overall I thought Stranger Things was an incredible series to watch.  It was a nostalgic series that took me back to the simpler times of Atari and walkie-talkies.  The Duffer Brothers definitely hit this one out of the park because it became one of the most popular series to binge-watch this summer.

While I enjoy new series that take place during the present, I find comfort in the story lines that take place in the past.  There were exciting times before things like smartphones and Facebook were released into the world and shows like Stranger Things help captivate the millennials into those simpler decades.  Watching shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer made me reminisce about the unique trends of the late 90s/early 2000s when the internet itself was a new idea.  If you loved 80s films or just want to watch something to remember the days when Atari was the best home gaming console, I highly recommend checking out Stranger Things on Netflix.

BitBar Salem

Salem is a fun city to roam around in during the day.  Home of the historic Salem Witch Trials, this city provides lots of fun restaurants and shops to poke through with your friends and family.  Because of its popularity surrounding the famed event, Salem has become a popular hotspot on Halloween.  In fact, the whole month of October is booming with tourists from all across the country to get a taste of the witchcraft that go on around the streets.  I should know how amazing Salem is because I graduated from Salem State University not too long ago!

Being that Salem State University is mere steps away from downtown, Salem brings in a great crowd of young adults who want to go bar crawling at night.  Restaurants like Opus and In a Pig’s Eye provide unique dining selections for friends and family.  One popular spot that opened up last month was BitBar Salem.  When I found out that it was an arcade restaurant/bar, I just HAD to check this place out!

BitBar Salem is located on 50 St. Peter street and is set within the old jail house.  This unique bar provides over 30 classic arcade games for you and your friends to enjoy.  The main entrance features 2 long tables within the middle and arcade machines within the side of the building.  A bar area is set up to the right to grab your favorite beer or cocktails while you play your favorite games.  There is a small room to your right that features even more games and another small bar area as well.  An outdoor patio area is available if your finger gets tired from all of the button mashing.

Some classic titles include Galaga, Altered Beast, Mortal Kombat II, Donkey Kong, and many other nostalgic games.  Pinball machines like Hook are also around for those pinball wizards that want to challenge their friends in friendly competitions.  Best part about the arcade aspect?  ALL of the games available take one quarter!

BitBar Salem also comes with a menu featuring comfort food to enjoy.  Some food to snack on include flavored popcorn or BBQ Bit Sticks that are grass-fed beef jerky from the Walden Local Meat Company.  Notable sandwiches include the Elk Burger, a burger featuring smoked cheddar and bacon served on a Doughssant with black garlic icing.  A wide range of beers and cocktails are available at the bar.  One notable dessert on the menu is the Doughssant with maple bourbon bacon frosting and orange jam.  Foodies are sure to enjoy the eclectic range of options available on the menu!

I had an amazing time at BitBar Salem!  This was a great arcade restaurant and I would definitely come back again soon.  Arcade bars are hard to find these days, so it was great to find one so close to my home.  BitBar was a unique experience that blends classic arcade games inside a restaurant with American comfort food at your service.  It was so fun playing these nostalgic games that were created decades ago.  Hopefully there will be new games put in every once in a while.  If you are looking for a fun restaurant with lots of classic arcade games, I highly recommend checking this place out.  So grab your roll of quarters and head on over to BitBar Salem!



Gotta Catch Em’ All! Pokemon GO!

So I have a funny story to share that happened at work earlier.  While working the ticket booth a couple of days ago, I noticed a kid walking by with his eyes glued to his phone.  As he wandered by me, I asked how he was doing and what he was up to today at the park.  His response was that he was heading to catch a Pokémon at the bathhouse of Berry Pond.  He was ready to catch a Pokémon, just like from the hit animated series!  I started cracking up when he informed me that he found a Pokémon on the Pokémon GO app.

Listen to that answer for a minute.  He didn’t want to check out the park or go swimming on Berry Pond on this warm summer day.  This kid wandered into Berry Pond with the intention of collecting a Pokémon.  It seemed as though the world really was changing in this 21st century!

Pokémon GO is a location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for mobile phones.  Players can capture, battle, and train virtual Pokémon that would appear in the real world.  It utilizes the GPS and Camera apps in order to spot nearby Pokémon in the area.  The augmented-reality game has become the hottest new downloadable app that is sweeping the nation.  The game released on July 6th and was the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play within 24 hours.

Users create an avatar during the start of the game.  Customized avatar comes with hair, skin, style, eye color, and a limited number of outfits that best suits you.  Your avatar is displayed at your current location, with a map that showcases your immediate surroundings.  You are now on your way to become the next Pokémon master!

Augmented Reality broke grounds in the 21st century as the demand for smartphone soared throughout the years.  The concept involves a live direct or indirect view of a real-world environment where elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory inputs.  Such inputs include video, sound, graphics or GPS data.  Sony’s EyeToy was the first to implement augmented-reality software for a video game back in October 2003.  EyeToy was a digital camera device for the PlayStation 2 that utilizes computer vision and gesture recognition to process images taken by the system.

Even with the vast criticism people have about the game, Pokémon GO has proven to be help for people with mental health illnesses.  Pokémon GO has been encouraging users to go outside and take a walk in order to learn more about their surroundings.  People suffering from depression or mood disorders find it difficult to exercise, so the game has been proven to provide a reason to go outside.  Playing the game is a lot of fun and users feel rewarded for capturing a Pokémon, providing behavioral actions for gamers.  Because the game has become so popular, it has now become an easy conversation starter for those suffering with social anxiety.  Leave it to Nintendo to provide a healthier alternative for people to get outdoors!

Pokémon was my one of my favorite games as a child.  I can remember riding the bus to Doyon School with my Gameboy at hand, scouting out wild Pokémon in the virtual world.  Almost 15 years later, Pokémon has become more relevant than ever.  The Pokémon brand isn’t too hard to flourish each year because a new group of children will discover a world of pocket monsters to collect.  There will always be a new wave of kids who want to become the next Pokémon masters of their time.

Pokémon embodies one of America’s greatest values: becoming the very best and conquering all that you discover in the world.  Just look at the beginning of the lyrics of the Pokémon TV series:

     I wanna be the very best,

                 Like no one ever was,

                 To catch them is my real test,

                 To train them is my cause.

            Just those four lines implement the theme of capturing every Pokémon and becoming the very best trainer of all.  It seems no surprise that Pokémon GO has become the hottest downloadable app for the Android and Apple market.  Just like that random kid wandering into Berry Pond, millions of other Pokémon masters are scurrying the streets to locate Pokémon in the area.  Pokémon won’t be going away anytime soon because all Americans want to become the next Pokémon master of their time.  So what are you waiting for?  Go out and collect some Pokémon!


From CHiPS Officer to Police Officer

After being the lead star of a hit series, most celebrities move on to another project for work.  Tom Selleck became the star of CBS’s hit series Blue Bloods after his notorious role as Thomas Magnum in Magnum P.I.  Whether it is another role of an upcoming series or a new project unrelated to the entertainment industry, celebrities are always keeping themselves busy to make a living.  Actors and actresses are people too, paying their taxes to live another day in America.  Erik Estrada was known for playing a California Highway patrol cop on CHiPS, only to become a cop almost 40 years later.

No, CHiPS is not getting a reboot on television.  Erik Estrada was officially sworn in as a REAL cop for the state of Idaho.  He shared the news on Twitter on July 2nd, informing his fans that he was sworn in with the Saint Anthony Police Department.

The former CHiPS star will be working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, a program dedicated to developing an effective response towards internet crimes against children.  The program works to protect kids from sexual predators and pedophiles who reel children into their home for conducting sexual acts.  It was established in 1998 with 10 task forces and blossomed to a nationwide network of 61 task forces as of 2016.

CHiPS originally aired on NBC from September 1977-May 1983.  The show starred Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as Highway Patrolmen of the California Highway Patrol (CHP, hence why the show was named CHiPS in the first place!).  It was an action crime drama that featured light comedy elements in every episode.  There was very little violence in the series and the officers rarely drew their guns at their enemies.

Erik Estrada was already heavily involved in numerous advocacy groups.  He was named the international face of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program (D.A.R.E.) back in 2000.  Back in 2008, he worked the midnight shifts three nights a week as a reserve officer for the police department of Muncie, Indiana.

This story was hilarious to hear about on social media!  While I haven’t seen the show yet, I remembered learning about Erik Estrada’s role through other TV series.  It was almost like hearing of a real-life CHiPS episode happening in Idaho.  Even though he played a pretend cop on TV back in the 70s/80s, Erik Estrada did work as a police officer more than 30 years later.

I always enjoy reading about what celebrities do after their breakout roles in Hollywood.  Celebrities are people just like us and some of them get tiresome of the work they do over at La-La Land.  If Erik Estrada became a real cop in Idaho, who knows what other surprising career changes we will see among celebrities!  Maybe Tom Selleck will shift careers to become a REAL private investigator in another state!  He certainly has the experience from being on Magnum P.I. back in the 80s.

Congratulations on Erik Estrada for becoming police officer in Idaho!  We at MakeSandcastlesNotWar look forward to the work you do against sexual predators on the internet.  Its people like you who make the world a better place by going after potential cyber criminals in this country.  Good luck on your future endeavor as a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force!