Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Twelve Free Games for Christmas!

During the month of December, I'll be posting links to twelve free games. I'll be posting a link to a new free game every other day starting on December 1st and ending on Christmas Eve. I'll still be posting about lots of other neat stuff, so don't worry. Keep checking back as some of these games are seriously sweet!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is a really fun game by Telltale Games. It's similar to the Professor Layton series of games in that the main character has to solve puzzles in order to find clues, get suspects to give information, etc. I just got finished playing it and it's a lot of fun. Plus, Telltale Games is having a 50% off sale on most of the games on their website through November 29th.  They are also giving Puzzle Agent away for free if you pre-order the entire season of  Back to the Future. Now that's a good deal. Now if I can only wait until the sequel comes out...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Donald Duck's Toy Train

Check out this cool Little Golden Book I picked up at a garage sale. It's a copy of  Donald Duck's Toy Train.

A lot of the old Little Golden Books have really gorgeous artwork and Donald Duck's Toy Train is no exception.

The book is loosely based on the Donald Duck theatrical short "Out of Scale."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Video Game Maps

Have you ever played a video game and wished you had a decent map? Then wish no more because vgmaps.com has you covered.

A map for the NES game Maniac Mansion by Jon Leung.

People will play through a game and take screen shots and then stitch them all together to form maps. It's pretty cool.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Get Smart - The Complete Series

The original Get Smart television series is one of the funniest shows ever invented. The show was very well written, the production values were quite good, the actors have great chemistry together as well as great comedic timing. It still holds up well over forty five years later. Get Smart - The Complete Series is one of the best DVD box-sets out there too. It's a very well put together package and deserves a home on your shelf. I've owned it for a while now and am VERY glad I purchased it.   While you can also purchase the show in individual season sets, I don't recommend it as it will end up costing you more to buy them individually and you'll also miss out on the extras that are only available in the complete series box-set. Amazon.com is currently selling the complete box-set for $71.99. The list price is $200. That's a real bargain.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Super Mario World Hacking

Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo is one of those rare games that even after twenty years is still fun to sit down and play. I've lost track of the number of times I've beaten the game and it's still fun. Yet, playing the same levels over and over again does wear a bit thin after a while. That's where Lunar Magic comes in. It's a point and click hacking tool for Super Mario World that let's you change the levels, items, over-world, sprites, etc around.

Create whole new levels, add items, re-arrange the map and a whole lot more. It's a very powerful and versatile tool. Change only a level or two or go whole-hog and redesign all 96 levels. It's up to you. 

The author of Lunar Magic goes by the name FuSoYa. He's been slowing adding features it it for the past ten years and it just keeps getting better and better. Pop on over to his page and download a copy today. If you create a cool Super Mario World hack with it, let me know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Smurf King

As I mentioned previously in this post, the original Smurf comics are finally being re-released in English. The Smurf King, the third book to be released, comes out today. Pick it up and enjoy the smurfy goodness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Secret Agents Four

Here's a fun little book from 1967. "Secret Agents Four" by Donald J. Sobol and illustrated by Leonard Shortall is about four teenagers from Miami that attempt to thwart a worldwide organization of master criminals called Cobra.  It's a good book with camaraderie, inventiveness and a willingness to do what's right. While the author wrote several dozen books in his famous Encyclopedia Brown series, only this one book tells the adventures of Ken, Orv, Bo, Horseshoes and Mary (Ken's girlfriend). Considering how much Mary helps out, the book should really be titled "The Secret Agents Five."  It's a real shame there aren't more books, but at least we have this one adventure. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Philharmonicas perform "Powerhouse"

Here's a cool YouTube video showcasing a harmonica sextet called "The Philharmonicas" performing the classic song "Powerhouse". These guys are really impressive and you can really tell they've spent a lot of time honing their craft. The speed with which they play their harmonicas is amazing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mad Scientists' Club

The Mad Scientists' Club books by Bertrand R. Brinley and illustrated by Charles Geer are some of the most fun science based stories I've ever read. 

The first two books in the series The Mad Scientists' Club and The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists' Club are collections of short stories. Several of the short stories originally appeared in various issues of Boys Life magazine. The short stories are where the Mad Scientists' Club really shine. The action is fast paced and there is a lot of humor.

The third book is the series "The Big Kerplop!" is a full length book detailing the beginnings of the Mad Scientists' Club.  When the book was originally produced it didn't have internal illustrations like the first two books. Purple House Press recently commissioned Charles Geer to produce internal illustrations for "The Big Kerplop!" which he completed shortly before his death in 2008. The new edition with the internal illustrations came out in June 2010.

The final book "The Big Chunk of Ice" has the gang leaving Mammoth Falls and traveling to Europe by blimp.This is also a full length adventure.

Probably the most economical way to get all the Mad Scientists' Club stories is to buy "The Mad Scientists' Club Complete Collection". This volume has all four books combined into one volume. What a deal!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Oh, Pharaoh!

I really like to play board games but it's been getting harder and harder to find people to play with. People just don't want to spend the time playing board or card games anymore. In order to combat this, I've been keeping an eye out for short games that can be played with only a couple of people in a short amount of time." Oh, Pharaoh!" by Uberplay fits the bill nicely.

The requirements state the game is for 3 to 4 players, can be played in 40 minutes and it's for ages 10 and up. Even though the game says you need at least three players, I've successfully played it with two.The game is quick, fun and the artwork is hilarious. The components are all top notch too, so that's a plus. The bad news is Uberplay went out of business in 2008. Nobody has yet to announce they are picking up publishing rights for "Oh, Pharaoh!" so if you want to get a copy you'll have to hit eBay or boardgamegeeks.com. Good Luck!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Chibi-Robo! is probably the most under-rated game for the  Nintendo Gamecube. Coming at the tail-end of the Gamecube's lifespan it didn't sell as many copies as it should have, at least in the U.S. It seemed to sell pretty well in Japan however.

You play the part of a tiny robot named Chibi-Robo. He's a pint sized robot only a few inches tall that just wants to make people happy. You start off with a very small battery that doesn't last very long, so you'll have to keep plugging yourself into power outlets to recharge. The more nice things you do for the family that owns you, the more happy points you earn that lets you buy more accessories, such as larger batteries, disguises, etc. The more power you have the further you can explore around the house as you try to uncover the mysteries going on in the Sanderson household. It sounds kind of cutesy which I think turned a lot of people away, but they're the ones missing out. Trust me, this game is a whole lot of fun. Hop on over to Amazon.com, eBay, or Gamestop and pick yourself up a copy today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sally Sargent

Here's a pilot episode from a proposed television cartoon called Sally Sargent from 1968. Only the pilot was produced as it was never picked up for a series. It stars a teenage secret agent called Sally Sargent who's really groovy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia

Most books that are published only get one edition and usually only one printing. It's rare for a book to sell well enough to get reprinted and even rarer still to get multiple editions put out. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis is one of those rare book series that have been put out in so many editions it's hard to keep track of them all. My personal favorite edition is The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector's Edition.

 Pauline Baynes, the original illustrator for The Chronicles of Narnia, was hired to take her black and white internal illustrations and create color versions for the new editions and they turned out really well.

(Click to enlarge image)

Printed on high quality thick bright paper the books are just gorgeous. Well worth the money. Especially considering you can get the box set from Amazon.com for only $35.09 with free shipping.(as of 11-15-2010). Talk about a steal.

I have one word of advice however. The publishers have re-ordered the books into chronological order. If you've never read The Chornicles of Narnia before I do NOT recommend you read them this way. There are certain things that take place in "The Magician's Nephew" that spoil events that occur in the later books. You are much better off reading them in the order they were originally written.

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
2. Prince Caspian
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4. The Silver Chair
5. The Horse and His Boy
6. The Magician's Nephew
7. The Last Battle

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Classic Star Wars

Way back in the early eighties (1981 to 1984 in fact) there was a Star Wars comic strip printed in newspapers written by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by the very talented Al Williamson. The strip was very well done and many readers took to clipping out the strips each day and pasting them into scrapbooks. Getting a complete run of the strip was a very daunting prospect but for dedicated fans it was the only way. Flash forward to the early nineties and Dark Horse Comics decides to reprint the entire run of strips that Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson did into comic book format and in color to boot. Al not only had kept all the original art from the strip but he was also adamant about doing covers for the series as well as retouching and/or adding new art as needed .  The series, known as Classic Star Wars, ran for twenty issues. After the series was completed Dark Horse then compiled the issues into three trade paperbacks: Classic Star Wars Volume One: In Deadly Pursuit, Classic Star Wars Volume Two: The Rebel Storm and Classic Star Wars Volume Three: Escape to Hoth.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Darkwing Duck

Out of all the Disney Afternoon cartoons, Darkwing Duck is probably my favorite. As a spin-off of Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck shares several characters from it's parent series such as Launchpad McQuack and Gizmo Duck. The series was smart, funny, and very well scripted with great characters. 

Darkwing Duck Volume One is available on DVD and features the two part pilot (Darkly Dawns the Duck) as well as an additional 25 episodes.

Darkwing Duck Volume Two features an additional 27 episodes on DVD. Here comes the bad news however, ninety-one episodes of Darkwing Duck were produced but only fifty-four have been released on DVD so far. Volume two was release back in 2007 and volume three is still AWOL. When we'll ever get the remaining episodes is anybody's guess.

BOOM! Kids recently came out with a four issue Darkwing Duck mini-series comic book earlier this year that proved to be so popular they decided to turn it into an ongoing monthly comic series instead. I'm not talking mildly popular either. The first issue sold out and they had to go back and reprint it SEVERAL times. This was totally unexpected and Disney is taking notice. Hopefully with all this excitement over Darkwing Duck, Disney will finally release the final episodes on DVD. In the mean time, pick up the currently available DVD sets and check out the Trade Paperback collection of the first four issues of the Darkwing Duck comic called Darkwing Duck: Duck Knight Returns.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Little Big Love

 "Little Big Love" is a very well produced stop motion animation short about a little robot who falls in love. I'm really quite surprised at how well the little robot is constructed and how much emotion he is able to portray.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Robot's Life

Here's a cool little animated video by Elad Offer. According to Elad, Robbie the Robot and the boombox are both computer generated. Hopefully we'll see more of Robbie.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is a gorgeous three volume box set with almost every Calvin and Hobbes strip included. What do you mean almost? Well for some reason the following strip has never been reprinted in any of the Calvin and Hobbes collections.  Nobody knows why.

(Click on the strip to enlarge it.)

Calvin and Hobbes is probably the best comic strip ever invented. It's consistently funny, has gorgeous art, the dynamics between Calvin and his tiger as well as Calvin's interactions with his parents, schoolmates, baby sitter, etc. are comic gold. Not to mention Calvin's over-active imagination lets the strip wander all over the place. If you're going to have one comic strip collection on your bookshelf, it should be this one. Run, don't walk on over to Amazon.com and pick this baby up. The MSRP is $150 but Amazon is selling it for under $100. Not to mention they have free shipping. Considering how much this thing weighs, I don't know how they can be making any money off of this. Get it quick before they change their mind.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Super Nintendo Game Genie 2 Prototype

Those of you who like playing games on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) might remember the Game Genie. A neat cartridge that you would plug your game into and by punching in codes could give yourself infinite lives, unlock secret levels, give yourself invincibility, etc. It was a great idea but compared to  some of the cheat cartridges released for other systems it was lacking a few features. Codemasters, who created the Game Genie, had one of their employees create a new Game Genie for the SNES but it was never released due to marketing reasons. An interview with Richard Aplin, the employee tasked with creating the SNES Game Genie 2, can be found here.

Here's an image of the SNES Game Genie 2 Prototype. This image and several others can be found at http://gshi.org/images/snes_ggii/  It's too bad it was never released as it appears to be quite a slick little device.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Synopsis Quest

Synopsis Quest is a fun little browser based adventure game that can be played and beaten in 10 to 20 minutes. It's a collection of little mini-rpg type games. Each game is usually no more than a screen or two with a simple goal. If you've ever played an old-style Japanese role playing game on the Nintendo Entertainment System you'll be right at home here.

The absurdity of some of the things in the game come straight from some of the silly things Japanese RPGS do on a regular basis. It's fun, fast, and FREE! Give it a try. I'm still laughing over the "Act Like a Hero" level.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Assignment is Space With Rip Foster

Assignment in Space With Rip Foster is a fun young adult science fiction novel from the 1950's. The book was written by Blake Savage (A pseudonym of Harold L. Goodwin) and details the attempt to move an asteroid of almost pure thorium from the asteroid belt into earth orbit. Of course the evil Consops (a thinly veiled bad guy replacement for cold war communists) will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening. All in all it's a quite enjoyable read, though the part where they deliberately track radioactive dust into the ship still makes me cringe.

The book was also released under the title Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet. The book isn't too difficult to find but what's nice is the book has fallen into the public domain and is currently available for free download from Project Gutenberg. Read and enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Popcorn Hour C-200

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm the owner of a Popcorn Hour C-200 media player. You hook it up to your television and then store your video and audio files on a hard drive (either in the internal drive bay or via USB) or stream them across your network.  I've owned it for over a year now and I don't know what I would do without it. It plays almost any media file I throw at it. A lot of media players claim to be able to play a lot of different types of files, but the Popcorn Hour C-200 is one of the few that actually live up to that promise. The manufacturer also seems to be doing a decent job of releasing firmware updates to fix bugs and add new features. When the unit was first released, the firmware was quite buggy and a lot of people were initially disappointed. As an owner of one of the first batch released I can attest to this. However, since then several firmware updates have fixed most of the issues and the unit should not be overlooked because of some early problems. There is also a lively forum where users are quite willing to help each other and several employees of the company can be found there as well.

I have over 600 dvds and managing that many dvds can be a bit of a pain. The nice thing about the Popcorn Hour C-200 is it will play DVD images (either ISO or video_ts format). What that means is I can dump all of my DVDs onto hard drives and play them on my C-200. Now when I want to watch a DVD, instead of fumbling around looking for the disk, I just turn on my C-200, select the file I want and it starts playing just as if I had popped the disc into a normal dvd player with menus and everything. Sweet!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Count Duckula

Count Duckula is a hilarious British cartoon from the late eighties and early nineties produced by Cosgrove Hall Films. They also produced another cartoon you may have heard of called Danger Mouse.  The series originally aired in the United States on Nickelodeon.

Only the first season has been released in the U.S. and that was back in 2005. Capital Entertainment, who brought it out on DVD, appear to have gone out of business and it is no longer available. The future of Count Duckula on dvd in the U.S. is uncertain.

Fortunately, the complete series of Count Duckula has been released on DVD in the U.K. Normally dvd releases are region locked, preventing someone from one country from buying a dvd from another country and playing it on their dvd player. When they authored "Count Duckula The Complete Series", they encoded it so it is playable on any dvd player in the world. There is one catch however. The dvds are in PAL format, so if you want to watch them in the United States on your NTSC television it usually won't work. You have several choices. You can:

1. Buy a DVD player that can automatically convert PAL to NTSC such as the Norcent DP-300.

2. You can rip the DVDs on to a hard drive and watch them on a media player such as the Popcorn Hour C-200 or Popcorn Hour A-200.

3. You can just watch them on your PC.

4. You can rip the DVDs on to your PC, convert them to NTSC and then burn news discs that are NTSC that will play in your DVD player.

5. Buy a television that can display PAL. (Very rare in the U.S. and usually quite expensive.)

For most people, option 3 is the easiest and allows one to quickly and easily enjoy the hilarity that is Count Duckula. I personally own both a Norcent DP-300 and a Popcorn Hour C-200 so I was set. I ordered the complete set off of eBay from someone in the UK and it arrived a couple of days ago. Well worth the $30 I spent on it. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Forgetful Robot

The Forgetful Robot (1968) by Paul W. Fairman is a fun young adult science fiction novel about a robot found in a junkyard who can't remember who is owner is. The book is a little unusual in that it is told from the point of view of the robot. At 163 pages it's a quick read, but the story is good and I like how Barney the robot has to figure things out in spite of the gaps in his memory banks. Keep an eye out and if you find a copy at a thrift store or used book store, pick it up (especially if it's cheap). If you don't mind buying things online you can usually find a copy at Amazon.com or on eBay. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another victim of the economy

While at the grocery store picking up some more Pineapple Jarrittos soda pop, I noticed that they've shrunk the bottle size. They used to be 13.5 fluid ounce glass bottles, but now they are 12.5 fluid ounce. If you look at the photo, the smaller bottle is on the left. The bottle is the same height, but if you look closely, you'll see that the upper part tapers in more. Another victim of the crummy economy I guess. It's still a good deal even at 12.5 fluid ounces as most other pop comes in only 12 fluid ounce bottles. Not to mention I can pick it up for only $0.79 a bottle plus deposit.