Category Archives: Blog

The Mexican Runner’s NESMania Project Coming to an Historic End

By Mike Perry

It’s every 80’s and 90’s kid’s secret life goal come true. After over three thousand hours, almost three years, and 713 total games, the Twitch personality and world record holding gamer known as The Mexican Runner will complete his quest to finish all 714 United States and European licensed games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. No Game Genie. No cheat devices. For the most part, no hints or spoilers, either. Just a man, a console, and a dream.

Known for his hilarious trilingual rage rants, TMR has plowed through every single NES game on stream for the entire world to watch. If that weren’t enough pressure, he’s done it through a move across the ocean to Poland as well as multiple trips to the United States for events such as Awesome Games Done Quick and the 2015 Nintendo World Championships. Fomented and fueled by “Taco Breaks” (which later became pierogi breaks after his move to Poland) and featuring various special broadcasts including live concerts with his brother, DIY game room improvement, and more, TMR’s journey finally comes to an end on Sunday, February 26, 2017 at noon EST.

Along the way, TMR has had to grind through days-long role playing games, frustrating arcade ports with seemingly no ending, and even had to take piano lessons. After each game, there was a raffle where a member of TMR’s lively chat got to select the next game. Even this seemingly mundane task was always made more entertaining as the host would improv lyrics along to the “starman” theme from Super Mario Bros. (“You can win / or lose / but if you win / you pick / the next game in NESMania”).

Legions of NESMania fans, sometimes numbering in the thousands for the more exciting moments, created fan art to commemorate the project. A large majority of the games got TMR-themed parody cover art, usually involving faux titles that fit the host’s personality. Mario Andretti’s World Grand Prix became Mexican Runner’s World GP. TMR’s signature catch phrase, “No mames!” was a favorite. No mames, in short, is Mexican slang for, “No way!”

Along the way, TMR became a legit star in the world of speedrunning (if he wasn’t already to begin with), being featured on the Twitch front page several times. Of course, the aforementioned streaming service will be making an event out of the final day of NESMania, when TMR will tackle his second most favorite game, Super Mario Bros. 3, to complete the project. His favorite game, Battletoads, was already finished by the time somebody in chat suggested that he should pick a good game so that the final game wasn’t “awful.”

Not only are all of TMR’s exploits archived on Twitch and YouTube for posterity, but they are extensively documented in an impressively-detailed Google Docs spreadsheet. All 714 games are listed by genre, play time, and date beaten, along with links to the “Manuel” for each game. Manuel, of course, is a play on manual. The notion became so popular that a cartoon character of the same name was created and became the subject of a popular t-shirt. When all else fails, TMR fans always reminded their host to consult Manuel.

As the project became more popular, fans started to send gifts to TMR in the form of NES cartridges in order to show their appreciation. According to the NESMania documentation, TMR has amassed a whopping collection of 704 games, with only 10 remaining. His goal is to own every single game that he completed during NESMania. The only ones remaining are, of course, extremely rare and valuable.

An event like this has never been completed in the history of gaming. Nobody has ever been able to provide documented proof that they beat literally ever NES game. This is a big deal. We’d like to congratulate TMR and wish him the best of luck in whatever it is that he attempts after this monumental event. Join us on Sunday the 26th at 12 PM EST as we watch gaming history unfold!

While you’re here, wanna win a contest? Follow three easy steps to get your entry in and win some cool Funko Pop! Star Wars swag! Click here to find out how!

Universal Resorts Bringing the Nintendo Experience to Life

by Mike Perry

Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, stands outside Universal Orlando Resort. Nintendo-themed areas a ...

Nintendo luminary Shigeru Miyamoto poses outside of the Universal Orlando Resort.

Planning a trip to one of the Universal Studios parks in Orlando, Hollywood, or Japan soon? You might want to hold off on it for a year or two if you’re a Nintendo fan. The Big N put out a press release this morning announcing that they’ve teamed up wtih Universal to “bring the fun of Nintendo to life with expansive, highly themed environments at Osaka, Orlando, and Hollywood.” If you’ve seen how well Orlando has handled licensed theme areas in their parks in the past, this has to be exciting news.

The press release promises gigantic prianha plants springing to life while visitors are surrounded by question blocks, power-ups, and more. Nintendo’s creative types are working with Universal to bring the characters, action, and fun experience that Nintendo is world famous for to life, right in their parks.

The experience will be, “expansive, immersive, and interactive” with “highly themed and authentic environments” and “multiple attractions, shops, and restaurants.”

The press release notes that no timetable has been established, but that planning and creative work for these new attractions is already underway. Each of the three Universal parks will open their Nintendo-themed attractions “separately over the next several years.” Specifics of each Nintendo-themed park area will be announced soon.

Nintendo Announces Back to School Sale Including Amiibo Bundles and a New Mario-Themed Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo just sent out a press release detailing their back to school sale, which starts August 26 and includes some Amiibo/Wii U game bundles that begin on Sept. 9. If you’re looking to get into the current gen Nintendo systems late, there are some decent deals here. The new Mario 3DS is especially cool. We’ve got all the details for you.

Starting August 26, 20162016 Nintendo Back to School Bundle

New 3DS – Mario Themed – $149. Includes system, Super Mario 3D Land (pre-installed), and two interchangeable Mario-themed cover plates (one is current Mario 3D art, the other featuring 8-bit Nintendo character sprites in the style of Super Mario Maker, drawing from games like Zelda, Splatoon, Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong, and more.). This bundle is exclusive to Wal Mart and Target.

2016 Nintendo Selects
New $19.99 Nintendo Selects Games: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS), Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS), nintendogs + cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends (3DS), Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS), The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD (Wii U), Nintendo Land (Wii U), Lego City Undercover (Wii U). Additionally, all other Nintendo Selects titles are $19.99. A list can be found here. Noteble titles include Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and more.

Starting September 9, 2016
2016 Amiibo Bundles

Wii U Games + Amiibo Bundles – $39.99 each: Yoshi’s Wooly World w/ Pink or Light Blue Yarn Yoshi, Mario Party 10 with Peach or Bowser, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker with Toad. The Yoshis activate “Double Yoshi” in single-player mode, which allows players to save their favorite collected patterns to their Yarn Yoshi Amiibo. Mario Party 10 figures allow you to play with and customize your character in Party Mode. The Toad figure unlocks an in-game hide-and-seek challenge.

If you’re looking to stretch your budget even further while still getting into the awesome world of the 3DS, there’s a great bundle deal for the 2DS handheld system bundled with Mario Kart 7.

Field Trip – @ ReplayFX Expo 2016

We took at trip to the awesome ReplayFX Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh, PA to take a look at a huge collection of arcade, pinball, console, and tabletop games! We also ran into the owner of perhaps the most famous piece of video game history on the planet, the Nintendo Playstation!

Comic Review – Image Strikes Gold Again with Glitterbomb (Spoiler Free)

glitterbomb1
Review by Mike Perry

Published by Image Comics
Released September 7, 2016
Written by Jim Zub
Art and Cover by Djibril Morissette-Phan (Cover) & K. Michael Russell (Colors)
$3.99
Get it on Kindle or ComiXology

Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. That’s the story of Farrah Durante, an out-of-work and aging actress who is trying to find her way in a world where beauty and youth get the nod over wisdom and experience almost every single time. Not only is Farrah juggling the stress of being in the twilight of her Hollywood glory, but she’s doing so while raising a little boy and dealing with an obnoxious millenial babysitter who is in search of fame and fortune herself.

At face value, Glitterbomb is a case study in the human condition. It’s about a mom trying to make glitterbomb2ends meet and do the best that she can for her little family. Of course, it wouldn’t be an Image-published human interest/slice of life book without there being some kind of underlying commentary. That’s where this book shines. It’s an evisceration of the Hollywood machine. Farrah has gone from successful young actress to relic, and that’s no more apparent than when she encounters a fresh-faced young starlet in the waiting room at an audition. The younger actress recognizes her from a role she played long in the past, and at first, Farrah is overcome with feelings of pride. That’s immediately followed by a kick in the gut, as the girl bluntly explains that Farrah is nothing more to her than a dinosaur.

Brooke, the young actress, buries Farrah in the most hackneyed of platitudes. Her therapist gave her some piece of advice that you may have seen reposted a million other times on Facebook. Her stylist shared similar advice. Her acting coach gave her more of the same, and Farrah’s frustration wells up as she continues to share. Farrah is an old veteran, and this young girl is hanging on to these trite little sound bytes, until she ultimately snaps, telling Brooke that life is not a fortune cookie. Of course, you can predict how the audition turns out.

Frustrated, Farrah trudges to a local beach where she’s accosted by a homeless man. She deals with it in the exact way that you’d expect her to. The character is written so well that by the end of the debut issue, you almost feel like you’re one step ahead of her. That is, of course, until she steps out into the water and is overtaken by her frustrations, which somehow lures some type of entity that grants her powers that she can’t quite control.

In the beginning, Farrah is vulnerable. She’s a doormat for an industry that long ago used her up and spit her out. Her new “ability” manifests itself in a brutal, surprising, and appropriate way as she becomes a sort of reluctant Hollywood justice seeker. The hunted has become the hunter, to steal an old Hollywood trope.

Glitterbomb is well written, beautifully drawn, inked, and colored, and sets the pace for what should be a very successful run. It’s a beautiful and thrilling companion piece to Snotgirl, especially for readers who can’t stand today’s dumbing down of popular culture.

Imagine if there was a Keeping Up with the Kardashians storyline where The Punisher came through with a chip on his shoulder about vapid celebrities, and you’ve pretty much got this book pinned down. Sprinkle in some of Michael Douglas from Falling Down and the recipe is complete. I cannot recommend this book enough. A fantastic read.

Video Game Review – Dungeon Punks for Xbox One, PS4, Vita, and PC

By Mike Perry

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Dungeon Punks
Hyper Awesome Entertainment
Release Date 7/26/2016
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita (8-16-16), PC (Late Summer)

ss1Hyper Awesome Entertainment was awesome enough to provide us with an early release copy of their new beat ’em up, Dungeon Punks. We spent some time with the game over the weekend and, while the game shows a lot of promise, there were enough glaring weaknesses that it was worth taking a deeper look at. As indie games from smaller developers go, you could certainly do a lot worse.

Releasing on July 26, 2016 at a price point of $15.99, Dungeon Punks holds its own as a fun little budget title to play around with for a while and then eventually move on from. Remember that this game is a callback to arcade beat ’em ups with RPG elements, not Fallout, and you’ll definitely be able to have some fun with it.

The art style is very cartoonish and well-detailed. The playable characters are all very cool ss2looking, borrowing from the classic role playing book of clichés. You’ve got your dwarf, which is very strong but slow and not too great with magic, you’ve got your balanced character that is adequate at everything but excels at nothing, and you’ve got both extremes in either direction.

When you begin, you’re treated to a very thin but humor-filled (especially if you are an old time D&D player) backstory. In a different kind of game, this might get completely bashed in a review, but it’s a beat ’em up game at its heart. I grew up playing Double Dragon, Battletoads, X-Men Arcade, and Streets of Rage, so I understand that the value of a title like this is in the gameplay, not the storyline and cinematics. However, there are plenty of NPCs, each with their own quirks. Some of them fell flat or felt dry, others were quite charming. The one consistent thing was the beautiful artwork.

ss3The gameplay couldn’t be more simple: Walk towards a given destination (which sometimes means “go right” and other times depends on the quest that you’re trying to complete) and kill everything that moves. In the combat lies one of the most deadly flaws of Dungeon Punks, however. With so much action on the screen at a given time, it is entirely TOO easy to damage your own party members. Friendly fire is on by default in this one, and you will be frustrated by it before you finish the first level. There’s just too much going on and not enough real estate. If this were a four player co-op game, this would be a game breaker. As it stands, it’s annoying, but not enough to stop you from having fun.

Of course, between levels, there are shops and different ways to level up and upgrade your weapons, armor, magic, and other miscellaneous equipment. While the difficulty does ramp up fairly quickly, the boss battles are relatively uninspired and, for a game that’s using fast-paced action as a marketing gimmick, seems to move along very slowly. There are twelve levels, each with various quests you can complete throughout the game, and while the character art is great and at times incredible, the environments felt uninspired.

For a short, cheap game, the sheer amount of magic and weapons that are available is enormous. Like any RPG-inspired game worth its salt, different items or spells add to some stats while taking away from others. This, coupled with the tag team combo system, make the battle mechanics more feel more interesting than if they were simply straightforward button mashing. There are strategies and exploits that will make the game much easier, but unfortunately, they don’t make it any faster or less repetitive.

We tested the Xbox One version, but it is available on the aforementioned platforms. It should be noted that the PlayStation versions are cross-buy compatible. If you purchase it for PS4 or Vita, you get it for both.

For $14.99, you’re getting a quick and dirty beat ’em up that is fun to play for a while but is certainly not going to be appearing on anyone’s top ten lists at the end of the year. We do have to give a ton of credit to the team at Hyper Awesome for putting out a game with a deep item optimization system by the standards of the genre, but they may have been reaching a bit far in trying to incorporate RPG elements that sometimes worked and sometimes felt out of place.

We give Dungeon Punks a 6/10. If you love this kind of game, give it a shot. If it’s not your bag, it probably won’t reel you in.

Comic Review – Snotgirl #1 is Obnoxious by Design.. How does it stack up?

snotgirl

Review by Mike Perry

Published by Image Comics
Released July 20, 2016
Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art and Cover by Leslie Hung
Get it on Kindle or ComiXology

When it comes to millennial bashing, how far is too far? In a world where political correctness is the status quo and online bloggers struggle as mightily for social justice as they do for website hits, what place do the vapid, fashion-forward, Kardashian-worshipping youth fall within this strange new order of things? Bryan Lee O’Malley (of Scott Pilgrim fame) has teamed with Image to explore this issue in the rather unfortunately titled (yet appropriate) Snotgirl.

snotgirl1Snotgirl is the story of Lottie Person, a self-proclaimed professional fashion blogger, age 25 and three quarters. She’s vain, self-important, and undeniably self-conscious. She’s insufferable. At the start of this series, she has zero redeeming qualities. She readily projects her own self-loathing onto other bloggers and her supposed friends. While she completely lacks awareness, perhaps even sentience, of her own self, she is acutely informed and terrified of her extreme allergies, which constantly cause her eyes to puff up and her nose to run.

snotgirl2Lottie, of course, masks this by escaping into an online world where each photo and each blog post can be expertly manicured to capture her at her best. In contrast to this perfect existence, Lottie’s real life is pretty much devoid of actual human relationships. As she checks her phone (which she cannot imagine being without for one second), she realizes that she’s got tens of thousands of notifications from strangers but none from actual friends. Again, Lottie escapes into her world of perfectly posed selfies. In her mind, she is perfect; except for the damn allergies and that disgusting snot.

Lottie refers to her own “reality” as her online life. You know the drill, wake up and experience reality. Log on to Instagram, stalk your ex-boyfriend, drink an expensive coffee by yourself, and get worked up over the fact that your ex has tagged a girl in a photo who is less pretty than you. After literally doing only that, Lottie declares that her day is over. It’s at this time when Caroline (Lottie’s internal dialogue, presented as iMessage-style text bubbles, calls her “Coolgirl”), a stranger, notices that not only does Lottie order the exact same coffee drink as her, but also that she’s a fellow blogger.

Lottie explains her ritual of giving all of her fellow bloggers (and eventually people she sees more than once) disparaging or ironic nicknames, like Cutegirl for the anime-style manic pixie dream girl blogger, Normgirl for the basic Meg, a “normie,” Trashboy, Gothgirl, Shoegirl, Scandigirl, and so forth. Of course, Lottie doesn’t give herself a name, because she is essentially a walking, breathing tree stump of a human being and doesn’t really know anything about herself.

She becomes friends with Coolgirl and gives her her phone number. Eventually, she sees a new snotgirl3doctor who prescribes her new allergy medicine that is sure to help stop the snot episodes. The new medicine gives Lottie hope that she will be able to overcome her only perceived flaw, and she goes out to meet Caroline at a bar, where the allergy medicine proves ineffective. Caroline finally gives Lottie the nickname that she has been avoiding, dubbing her “Snottie.”

I won’t spoil the ending, because it’s pretty interesting, however, I will offer my analysis.

Snotgirl completely lacks subtlety. It takes all of the themes of a lost generation that doesn’t know how to deal with face to face reality and socialization and beats you over the head with them. Lottie is an insecure, fragile girl who creates a front online as a perfect, hip girl with no flaws. Of course, this facade means that Lottie has little to no experience in dealing with actual problems. She meets the much more down-to-earth Caroline and immediately, her insecurities turn to self-loathing, perhaps even jealousy. This might be offputting to some readers, and that’s understandable. However, you have to remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

The book is obnoxious. That’s fine, though. It’s supposed to be. This first issue is a complete send up of an entire generation that has custom-tailored their own personalities online, testing out different characters like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, until they find one that fits. Of course, some of them never translate to the real world, and that’s the story of Lottie. You hate her guts instantly, while all at once finding yourself wanting to root for her to figure it out. We’ll see how the story progresses, but it will be interesting to watch (and perhaps rage silently inside) as Lottie becomes less of a character and more of a human (hopefully).

Snotgirl comes highly recommended for readers who can’t make heads or tails of our modern “influencer” culture, and here’s hoping that it ultimately serves as a tale of redemption which humanizes people like Lottie (we all know a few) rather than simply laughing at them. Given O’Malley’s track record of brilliantly dealing with awkward characters, this series should be a slam dunk.

Comic Review – Horizon #1

horizon
Review By Mike Perry

Published by Image Comics for Skybound Entertainment
Released July 13, 2016
Written by Brandon Thomas
Art by Juan Gedeon w/ Cover by Jason Howard
Colors by Frank Martin
Get it on Kindle or ComiXology

zhiatransformWhile not exactly a completely original concept (and what is these days), Brandon Thomas’ take on the “Earth is the invading force” alien invasion angle is fresh, unique, and worth checking out. It’s not so much because Thomas and his collaborators, artist Juan Gedeon and colorist Frank Martin, have successfully avoided the tropes that made such standards as Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders” timeless classics, but more because of the unique way in which the plot of Horizon unfolds and the characters that move the story along.

Earth in the not-so-distant future is a place where our home is nothing more than a dying rock. Its inhabitants are looking for a new place to call home. The leaders of Earth covertly target the planet Valius as their new home, and with this basic premise, Horizon gets off to a roaring start.

Our main character in issue #1 is Zhia Malen, a Valian who visits our planet, where she quickly zhiatranslatelearns that fresh water has reached pre-Iraq War gasoline prices and international conflict is the norm. It doesn’t take a literature degree to see the parallels to our world, as our environmental mismanagement and piss poor diplomatic skills have created a constant state of multi-theater global warfare.

Zhia has been sent to exact some revenge on the Earthlings, but in what capacity we’re not quite sure. What we do know is that she has a translator that seems to be malfunctioning, as Earth language often times comes out as complete gibberish. She is, however, able to use some of her tech to make herself appear human.

While not a lot is accomplished in this debut issue action-wise, it sets the tone for a slow build that will ultimately reach a rolling boil before eventually exploding into full on war. It’s a very neat concept, and the juxtaposition of a confused, disoriented, and frustrated yet clever and well-equipped female lead against our own planet turned heel is a fresh dynamic.

The pace is quick, almost distressingly frantic, as the pages turn quickly with very little dialogue to read. This helps to add to the isolated feeling that Zhia must be experiencing, and dovetails nicely with the echoes of previous “lost in space” epics like Alien or Metroid. There doesn’t need to be a lot of dialogue, because Zhia is essentially alone… For now.

zhiastop

Top Five Things that ‘Stranger Things’ Fans Will Love

By Mike Perry

stranger-things-banner-600x300

Stranger Things

There isn’t much to be said for the latest Netflix Original Series, Stranger Things that hasn’t already become a cliché. This is one of those shows that everybody has been buzzing about, from the brilliant 80s-inspired set pieces to the kitschy cinematography and the innumerable homages to nostalgic tech and toys.

Mike shows Eleven how kids communicated in the 1980s
If you haven’t watched it yet (and you really should have by now), here’s a brief recap. Small town boy in early 1980s suburbia goes missing. Search parties ensue. The missing boy’s friends team up to try and find him against the wishes of their parents. They meet a strange young girl with incredible powers who warns them about bad men and monsters. A mother’s grief and a geeky older brother’s isolation drive the emotion as the search becomes more and more desperate. Strange things happen as yet another person goes missing. Meanwhile, 1980s high school goes on as usual, with all of the cliques and cruel harshness that teenagers can deliver. Strange alliances form as everybody tries to solve the mystery, resulting in a kick ass climax that you’ll have to see to believe.

Without spoiling anything, that’s about as much as can be said for the series. As mentioned, this will not be a recap, but more so a look at all of the incredible influences that Stranger Things borrows from to create this brilliant little hybrid of a show. In no particular order, here are the top five awesome inspirations that the creators combined to make this awesome new Netflix Original Series. If you haven’t seen them, you NEED to check them out!

From 'The Monsters are Due on Maple Street'

If you love Stranger Things, you will love The Twilight Zone
Borrowing from the genius writing of Rod Serling in ways that almost any successful science fiction teleplay must, Stranger Things has all of the tropes that make for a great Twilight Zone marathon. A child with strange mental powers calls to mind Anthony Freemont in ‘It’s a Good Life.’ The paranoid middle school aged boys wondering who the real monster is and the paranoia that it creates echoes ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.’ Even the very idea that a dimension where everything is similar, but just different enough to be horrifying exists is heavily inspired by the entire premise of The Twilight Zone.

freaksIf you loved Stranger Things, you will love Freaks and Geeks
From Winona Ryder playing a role that is essentially a hybrid of Kim Kelly’s blue-collar, almost white trash mother Cookie on Freaks and Geeks and Lindsay Weir’s caring yet still flawed mother Jean to the Dungeons and Dragons playing middle school troupe of the dorky but loveable Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and Will and the quotidian school bullies who torment them day in and day out, this is an ensemble cast that works perfectly to capture the temporal and geographical setting of the show. The brilliant Natalie Dyer (who is going to be a monumentally huge star in short order) plays Nancy, the Lindsay Weir of the series, stuck between pretty, popular girl and social outcast. The eclectic cast and the character dynamics that play off of one another in such a way that all of us can relate to everyone in some way is what evokes that same hard to explain feeling that you get when you watch Freaks and Geeks.

goonies-thenIf you loved Stranger Things, you will love 1980s Steven Spielberg movies
If there is one word to describe the cinematography, set design, pacing, and overall story arc of Stranger Things, it’s Spielbergian. The entire series feels like a nod to the fine works of the apex of the master filmmaker’s career, most of which were set entirely in 1980s America. From the creepy but warm vibe of Close Encounters of the Third Kind to the obvious influence of The Goonies, it is obvious (but not so much that it feels like you’re being beaten over the head with it) that creators Matt and Ross Duffer were huge Spielberg fans. Oh, and there’s also the whole narrative where a young boy hides a strange, alien-like creature with limited ability to communicate or understand our world from his parents and the adult world at-large.
Twin_Peaks_sign

If you loved Stranger Things, you will love Twin Peaks
Missing teenager in a small, insular town where seemingly nothing ever happens. Check. A small town cop competing with another agency which has asserted its authority. Check. Characters just peculiar enough that you’re never quite sure who you can really trust. Check. An alternate world where nothing is quite as it seems (think the red room on steroids). Check. From the claustrophobic feel of the town of Hawkins to the brilliant casting and character development that makes you suspicious of even the most obvious of the good guys, Stranger Things is just weird enough that the influence of David Lynch’s television masterpiece is evident throughout.

MachPizza_Exterior_ThreedIf you loved Stranger Thingsyou will love Earthbound
Following the established lead of beloved RPG games before it such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, Earthbound (Mother in Japan) twisted the genre in a fresh new way. This SNES role playing game changed all the rules. Gone were the erstwhile fantasy worlds and Medieval settings, replaced with a modern, American backdrop. Instead of gallant knights fighting dragons, Earthbound introduced us to our first real taste of kid heroes in gaming. In fact, there were four of them. Ness, an average American kid, was joined by Paula, a young girl with psychic powers, Jeff, a techno whiz kid who could fix just about anything, and Poo, a strange visitor from a far away land who also possessed the aforementioned mental abilities. There’s even a bit of a love story between Ness and Paula. This is echoed throughout Stranger Things, as Mike and the mysterious Eleven (“Elle” for short) join their friends on their journey.

If you simple watched the show and have never heard of any of these, you absolutely need to check them out! We’ve made it really easy for you to find everythign in one convenient place, so click on over and discover (or re-discover) these classics today!

Twilight Zone: Essential Episodes (55th Anniversary Collection)

Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series

Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection (Jaws / E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial / Jurassic Park / The Lost World: Jurassic Park / Duel / The Sugarland Express / 1941 / Always) [Blu-ray]

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery [Blu-ray]

EarthBound – Wii U [Digital Code]

Check out our review on YouTube! (Spoilers!)

Comic Review – Paper Girls Volume 1

The main cast of characters from Paper Girls
By Mike Perry

If you’re a regular listener to the podcast, you know that every week, I like to try and step outside of the usual Marvel and DC superhero realms and experiment with something new. Whether it’s old standards like Archie, ancient issues of Tales from the Crypt, or the new DC Flintstones run, I’m always surprised at the little treasures that I find along the way. From one-off series like Marvel Infinite’s Deadpool: Too Soon to the aforementioned random finds, there’s never a dull moment. This week, however, I didn’t just find something cool. I didn’t just find something worth reading. I fell in love.

Decorated writer Brian K. Vaughan released Paper Girls in 2015 to universal critical acclaim. Somehow, I completely missed it. It wasn’t until I was doing my weekly random browsing that I stumbled upon what would instantly become my favorite comic.

Set in 1980s Cleveland suburb of Stony Stream, the Image series follows the adventures of four teenage newspaper delivery girls who band together in order to fend off mischievous youth on All Saint’s night. The unassuming Erin, after being accosted by a couple of kids in typical 80’s Halloween costumes (think Freddy Kreuger), is saved by tough-talking, cigarette smoking Mackenzie and her friends, techno geek Tiffany and KJ, who carries a field hockey stick for self-defense.

Ah, the 1980s. Mackenzie calls Freddy Kreuger an AIDS patient.

The series is rife with nostalgic, but not intrusive pop culture references, touching on everything from horror and sci-fi to video games, fashion, and even the occasional throwback reference to some 1980s brand that you forgot even existed. It’s done tactfully and never overtakes the story, and really adds to the perfectly captured set pieces of suburban anywhere, USA during the time period which are beautifully done by artist Cliff Chiang. The pastel colors and use of pale pinks and subtle purples contrasted with heavy inking and lots of darkness further brings this world alive. I felt like I was reading a comic drawn on a Lisa Frank trapper keeper, but in the best way possible.

Before long, the girls encounter an even bigger looming threat than the trick or treating teens whoThe gals run into some strange, shadowy figures in the night.
had harassed them. Strange looking men appear, some of them speaking an alien language (translated to English with the help of a handy device), while another faction speaks in a very broken, simplified English dialect reminiscent of the American Deep South. Watching the girls try to figure out who they can trust is brilliant; a true comic book moral dilemma juxtaposed with some truly over the top science fiction with just the right amount of period-relevant social commentary drizzled on top.

The dialogue perfectly captures the teen culture of the setting, as well. There’s plenty of use of the kind of coarse language that was widely accepted in Reagan’s America that would never fly in today’s politically correct climate. Mackenzie refers to the kids who assault Erin as “fags” and “AIDS patients” without a second thought. The erstwhile lone wolf, Erin takes offense to Mac’s choice of verbiage, but the other girls seem to just accept her for what she is. Of course, this attitude foreshadows a lot of what’s to come, but this is a spoiler-free review.

Eventually, the girls stumble upon some kind of strange, futuristic, almost organic device in a basement which spooks them, leading immediately to a run-in with some deformed human-like creatures, followed by the discovery of a device with a strange logo on it (modern readers will instantly recognize it, however), leading them to wonder just who or what could be causing such havoc. KJ wonders if it might be time travellers or perhaps nuclear mutant Russian spies from Chernobyl. Erin, always the sensible one, recognizes the logo from the new computer that her school recently bought.

Before the discussion gets anywhere, the girls find the sky filled with gigantic dinosaur-like creatures, but for some reason, the creatures do not attack them.

Mac's cynical, alcoholic stepmother contemplates life.They run back to Mackenzie’s house, where her alcoholic stepmother informs them that the end of the world has come. They find themselves tangled in a strange and instantly-changed world as they struggle to determine who they can trust. All of the classic 80’s tropes are here; the girls learn after school special-ready lessons about playing with guns, talking to strangers, and more.

As the girls unravel the mystery piece by piece, they grow as friends and their resolve becomes stronger. The dynamics of the group do change, but in the end of each set piece, they’re still just middle school-aged girls. It works perfectly, as even the hard ass Mackenzie frequently shows her hand as just a scared kid.

Image describes Paper Girls as “Stand By Me” meets “War of the Worlds,” but I’d also throw The Twilight Zone, Back to the Future, and Star Trek into the list as major influences on this thrilling, amusing, and captivating series.

The books are easy to collect as both trade a paperback (featuring issues 1-5) and as individual books. If the first seven issues are any indication of where Paper Girls is going, you will forever regret it if you don’t get in on the ground floor before it’s too late. This is the best regular, non-superhero book going today, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Click here to order Paper Girls Volume 1 on Amazon.com!