Sunday, October 17, 2010

Laserdisc Games

Many out there might not know about Laserdisc games.  In the mid eighties (it also had a revival in the very early nineties), a new genre of game came out.  The first one was called Dragon's Lair.  The whole game was basically an animated short (or movie).  The whole game was controlled by a Laserdisc player, along with a regular processing unit.

What would happen is that the game would play an animated sequence, and you would have to react to it by using the control stick and any buttons.  If you put in the correct move, the animation would continue; if not, you would be taken to a "death scene," lose a life, then replay a certain scene.

Though critically panned, these Laserdisc games were wildly popular back in the day.  Some used footage from Japan anime series, such as Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (renaming it Cliffhanger) since creating footage was a massive undertaking: not only in manpower, but also in funds -- remember, this was before the age of computer-aided animation, where everything needed to be drawn and colored by hand.  A few games were also created in Japan, such as Time Gal, or Road Avenger.

In the late ninties, the games came back for a brief time, prodded by Sega's Time Traveler holographic game.  This brought out the abandoned Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp, as well as giving a revival of Dragon's Lair and Space Ace.

Maybe you couldn't really call them games: the general critique was that it wasn't a game, but rather a movie where you hit buttons.  In reality, that was the truth, and without luck, you tended to spend a lot of money getting to the victory sequence, which was often very brief. 

Many of them made their appearances on home computers, and console video game systems.  Dragon's Lair was the most prolific, being the most popular, but some of the Japanese ones made their way to the Sega CD system and even the original PlayStation.  Some were also ported to DVD systems, but a little unwieldly, since DVD players weren't really made to play games.

A number of years ago I made a small program in Visual Basic that would allow you to make your own Laserdisc games, and will be uploading it in the near future to my website. Check the Downloads section of my website for the program.

Getting Older...

I'm not as young as I used to be, and I'm most-certainly not getting any younger.  For those of you "youngsters" out there, there is a bad thing about getting old.

No, it's not the aches and pains (which I'm starting to get).

No, it's not losing your hair (which I am starting to do).

No, it's not getting cranky (sometimes I am).

The bad thing about getting old is: looking back on the things that you should have, or could have, done.

Everyone has their moments in which they say "If I could have said 'that' back then," or "I should have done 'that' when I had the chance."  THAT'S what is bad about getting old.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I remember buying this way back when, when I lived in Ft. Mead, Maryland.  I wasn't as sophisticated back then, and didn't really know how to clear the game.  Eventually I did, with a lot of guesswork.  My dad also enjoyed playing it every now and then.

The reason I bring Metroid up is that some things, even innocuous things, can give one the willies decades later.  I've only actually played through the last stage a handful of times.  The reason being is...

...the music of the last stage FREAKS ME OUT.

I don't know why, but it just does.  Maybe not at first, but when those near-invincible Metroids start popping out, it was panic city.  Add the music in the background, and it was an absolute nightmare.  Eventually, I conquered my uneasiness and handed Mother Brain to it, and finished the game.

But even to this day, the music still gives me the chills...

It Was an Uneventful Saturday...

...until 11:00 PM.

I had finished up playing some games at a friend's house, and was going to take another friend home.  I had to take a leak, but the friend that owned the house was using it.  So, I just decided to use the bathroom at the other friend's house when I took him home.

And would you know it, a block away we hit a train going by, and must have hit it just as it got there.  So, my friend and I were just chatting while waiting for the train to go by.  I still had to take a leak, and was getting a little antsy.

Then my friend says, "Hey, is that a cop car on the other side of the tracks?"

I could see under the train a little bit, but couldn't see for sure.  "Maybe," I answered.

Well, the train finally ended and we went over the railroad tracks.  Sure enough there was not one police car going by, but two.

We thought nothing much about it, and I continued on.  Got through one intersection, and had to stop at another.  Once the light changed, I turned left and got about five-hundred feet when I saw a police car behind me, with its lights flashing.  I slowly pulled over to the side, thinking that he was going to go around me.

He didn't.  I stopped the car and thought, 'Okay, so what's going on?  Did I look like I was driving drunk [I wasn't]?  Is one of my tail lights out?  Are the tags expired?'

Anyway, I rolled the window halfway down as the police officer walked up to the side of the car.  I could see another one in the rear-view mirror, standing next to the police car.  I didn't freak out or anything; just wondered what I was stopped for.

"Yes, sir?"

"Good evening," he said.  "Where are you going?"

"Um, taking my friend here home."

"Where does he live?"

"Near the mall."


"Near the mall."

"Where we you coming from when you passed over the railroad tracks?"

"From a friend's house."

"Do you know the address?"

"Not off hand."

"Could I see your license and registration?" he asked.

"Um, sure."

I reached into my pocket and pulled out my wallet to get my license.

As I handed it over to him, he said: "I'll be honest with you.  There was a shooting in the area.  The reason I pulled you over is that your car matched the description of a car leaving the scene."


"I don't think you had anything to do with it."  He took my license back to his car for about three minutes.  I could see in the rear view mirror that there wasn't one but TWO police vehicles there.  He didn't take my registration, but I was sorting it out anyway, just in case.

A little while later, he came back, handed me my license and said, "Okay.  You're good to go."  He went back to his vehicle, and both made U-turns and disappeared.

"Wow," I said.  "Me, of all people."

My friend got on my cell phone and told our other friend to completely lock up the house.  I dropped him off, and now that I think back to it, didn't have to take a leak anymore.