Author Archives: Michael Mertes

I.Q. Final / Intelligent Qube – Import Boken – GAMER LOGIC

On this month’s Import Boken we are checking out an enhanced version of Intelligent Qube for the original PlayStation. Its been many years since I’ve played the original, which in actuality was just a demo of the game off an early PS1 Demo disk. Let’s check out this unique puzzle game together and try not to fall off the edge!

 

Night Trap from Limited Run Games!

I just popped my Limited Run Games cherry! I was just able to score a PS4 copy of Night Trap. I’m really looking forward to playing this version of the game as I’ve only played the SEGA CD version and the video quality is a little lacking. I’ve actually been on the hunt for a SEGA CD copy for a few years, but it’s always extremely overpriced when I find one.

I certainly will never forget the controversy Night Trap caused, even though it really didn’t deserve it as the scenes in question were quite tame. I can remember watching the Senate hearings on the game and “violence in video games” in general and being afraid that video games were going to be banned in all aspects. Or even worse, that I wouldn’t be able to play them again until I was an adult. Ah, the mind of a child.

Thankfully, even if they would have been banned; I’m pretty sure my parents still would have bought them for me. My parents taught me at a very young age the differences between fantasy and reality and games like Night Trap were just that: fantasy. I always felt bad for some of my friends growing up that were not allowed to play these games because I always got the impression that their parents didn’t believe in their intelligence enough for them to depict the difference between fantasy and reality.

Contra Original Video Soundtrack – Bleeps On Wax

Mondo released the soundtrack on 12 inch vinyl for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Arcade classic Contra just a few weeks ago with an exclusive San Diego Comic Con variant and a player one blue & player two red color split available on their online store over at www.mondotees.com. Not having the opportunity to attend SDCC or wanting to drop big bucks for the cool looking variant, I decided to pick up the regular edition. For whatever reason, this release took some time to get to me; but it arrived none the less and I’m quite impressed with the overall package. The record jacket contains some fantastic artwork from Eric Powell that completely captures the essence of Contra, something Mondo occasionally misses with their home-grown artwork for their VGM soundtrack releases.  The same can be said for the record cover artwork itself as its equally top notch. The color split of the actual record is decent, but doesn’t quite stack up to the SDDC version that Mondo was offering.

Let’s start backwards and talk about Side B of the record which features the arcade version of the soundtrack. If you’re like me, chances are you experienced Contra first on the NES and in the arcade second. In most cases the common response to your first arcade experience with the game is “Man, the NES version plays better.” Along with “Man, this music just doesn’t have the same feel as the NES version.” For me, these statements follow through with this record as well. I do appreciate the fact that the music from the arcade version is included and the audio recording is engineered wonderfully; but it’s just not my thing with its somewhat plodded instrumentations.

Side A of the record itself contains all the excellent music you remember from the game and features tracks straight from the superior Famicom version of the game with all the extra tracks that the Japanese release had on it. James Plotkin, the audio engineer on the project did an excellent job of mastering the music to vinyl and captured the crispness of Konami’s punchy drums and melodic synths that everyone starts humming as soon as you mention the name “Contra” to them. Its great hearing the intricacies of the music separate from the game itself.

Playing this record not only takes me back to playing this classic side scrolling shooter, but reminds me of all the times I took my little boom box and strategically placed it next to my TV so I could record music from my NES. Music from Contra was featured predominantly on those old video game mix tapes I made as a kid and now it’s nice to have an official copy of the soundtrack without hearing the occasional sound of my little brother banging toys around or my mom suddenly calling from upstairs to let me know that lunch was ready.

If the Contra music has touched any one of your 30 lives, I highly suggest you pick this up.

It’s-a Me, Mario Doll!

Walking through the vendor aisles at the Video Game Summit this year, I came upon something that I haven’t seen with my own eyes since probably 1991 or 1992. Sitting together with a bunch of other classic video game memorabilia was a 1989 Super Mario Doll from Applause. Immediately after seeing it I was hit with a surge of nostalgia, followed by the suspicion that the thing was going to cost me a arm and a leg. Anything Super Mario Bros usually fetches a pretty high price, but I decided I would ask the vendor to see how bad the sticker shock was anyway.

“Hey man! Is that a vintage Mario Doll there?” I said.

“Yeah! He’s missing his hat, but he’s from the 80’s.” He replied.

“How much are you asking for him?” I said, getting ready to be hit with an absolutely ridiculous price.

“20 bucks.” said the seller.

“That’s it?!” I said.

Usually I don’t let my poker face show like that, but I was pretty happy with the price and decided to pick it up.

The first time I saw this Mario doll was at a video game rental store located in Crystal Lake, IL called Video Game Adventures. The store itself was pretty amazing, featuring a vast library of games to rent for all consoles and even handhelds. Games with blue tags only cost a dollar to rent for the weekend, where newer black tagged games cost 2 dollars to rent.

Located up front at the register was a glass display case with used Nintendo games and along with those games was the same Mario doll keeping watch over the grey cart goodness. I immediately asked if it was for sale, but the owner explained to me that it was gift to her from her daughter in celebration that she opened up the store. I can tell you that I coveted that thing every time I visited that store. Sadly, one day we went to Video Game Adventures to pick up some games for the weekend and the store was gone! It pretty much vanished without a trace and I was crushed.

I explained this same story to the vendor and I could tell that he felt really happy that he was able to hook me up with my long lost little buddy. I think I made his day as much as he made mine. Sure, by today’s standards this Mario doll looks pretty goofy; but this was my childhood Mario and I’m really pleased to finally have one.