Posts categorized “Pictures”

13 June 2014

Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show 2014

Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show

Bright Lights, Big River…

Last Sunday I went to the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show at the Tacoma Convention & Trade Center. I try to go most every year, and I’ve only missed it once or twice in the last several years. It’s a good time.

This year I went with my pinball pal Cassie so we could play lots of two-player pinball and arcade games. The goal I had in mind was to try to play the more interesting and unusual games, the ones that I can’t easily play anywhere else. I think I found some goodies. Let’s run through them!

The Shadow

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

This was the very first thing we played when we got there. It was in a section that was advertising a special, day-glo-style of pinball bulb lighting, which is why this machine looks so funky. I don’t remember much of the game other than it was pretty fun, fast-paced and had a nice, crowded board. There was a fascinating upper floor that had an Arkanoid-like function to it, but I don’t remember exactly how it worked.

Medieval Madness

It's a medieval madhouse! A medieval madhouse!

It’s a medieval madhouse! A medieval madhouse!

Right next to The Shadow was Medieval Madness, also featuring the crazy day-glo lights. This one was a hoot, with lots of crazy stuff going on. In the back-left corner is a castle (you can see it in the photo). If you knock down the drawbridge and then knock down the gate behind it, and then get your ball up into the castle all of the towers start wiggling like crazy and the screen up above shows the castle being destroyed by A NUCLEAR EXPLOSION. A lot of fun, I’d live to play this one a whole bunch.

Rocky & Bullwinkle Pinball

Hey, kids! Watch me make this ball go down a hole!

Hey, kids! Watch me make this ball go down a hole!

This one was just mean. Just mean. It seemed like every single element on the board was designed to aim your ball directly down a hole with no chance of it being intercepted by a flipper. We didn’t enjoy playing this one very much at all.

Lost Tomb

Is there more than one room in this game? The world may never know.

Is there more than one room in this game? The world may never know.

An interesting dungeon-crawling game whose levels were kind of in the vein of Berserk. Problem was, we couldn’t get to any of the rooms other than the first one. See, once you leave the first room you end up in an inbetween area with a couple of staircases that go to different rooms so you can choose your path through the tomb. Unfortunately due to vagaries with the joystick, it was almost impossible to control your character and get him to actually move through this area (even though the controls seemed to be just fine in the first room). And there are enemies in this area that kill you if you don’t move very quickly. So we never got to either of the other available rooms; we just got killed dead over and over. *Sad trombone noise*

Banzai Run

Hot pinball on pinball action.

Hot pinball on pinball action.

A mainstay of any Pinball Expo, and one I always try to play, this fascinating game actually has a second pinball board… in the backstop. Yes, that’s right, there’s a completely-vertical pinball board that takes up most of the backstop. If you hit your ball into the upper-left corner of the main board there’s a chance that a magnet will pick it up and deliver it into the backstop, where pinball madness ensues. You see, in a vertical pinball board the ball is completely within the throes of gravity, so it moves fast. And I mean fast.

Cassie & I split up here for a bit so we could play some stuff that might not interest the other. Continuing:

Taxi

There ain't no one named Gorbachev in Moscow, Idaho!

There ain’t no one named Gorbachev in Moscow, Idaho!

A bit of a cheater due to this machine being at Dorky’s Arcade just down the street, but last time I was in there it was out of order, so… In Taxi you are trying to pick up and deliver some pop-culture icons, like Dracula, Marilyn Monroe, and Mikhail Gorbachev. ‘Cause this game was made in the 1980s.

Pengo

Penguini!

Penguini!

Another bit of a cheater in that this game isn’t exactly a rarity, but it is still always nice to come across it and is a hoot to play. You are a penguin who pushes blocks around in an attempt to squish all enemies before they run into you.

Skull & Crossbones

What would you call me if I swashed a buckle?

What would you call me if I swashed a buckle?

A very bizarre pirate sword-fighting game, with a seemingly intricate sword-controlling system. I never really got the hang of it. But I did kill a bunch of ninjas in one of the levels. It’s also about trying to get your treasure back from a medieval-style wizard, so there’s that. I’d be curious to know if this game is fun if you get good at the controls.

Speed Rumbler

Driven to drive.

Driven to drive.

A fascinating, overhead-view driving/shooting/running around, vertical-scrolling SHMUP. It kinda defies classification. But you spend most of your time careening around in a vehicle, running over guys with guns and shooting other cars. You can get out of your car any time you want, and if your car gets too much damage it starts to flash and then you have to get out or it’ll explode with you in it! Like Blaster Master, you’re pretty vulnerable when you’re not in your car, but there are no dungeons designed to be explored when you’re out-of-car.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Whip the Thugee guards, Indy! Whip them!

Whip the Thugee guards, Indy! Whip them good!

A pure nostalgia trip. A pizza place down in the Tacoma/Puyallup area used to have this game, and I would play it whenever I was there, usually with Geoff & his family and friends. Remember to whip the Thugee guards! Please! There are two alternating styles of play: running around a dungeon with a whip, trying to save kids; and speeding down mine cart tracks, trying to keep from getting flipped over.

Krull

We'll kill the beast!

We’ll kill the beast!

In truth this isn’t a very fun game. Based loosely on the weird fantasy/sci-fi movie from 1983, this seems more like it was made in 1980 than one year before Super Mario Bros. came out. You advance through several static, non-scrolling boards, each with its own slight variation of goal but all with equally poor controls and graphics.

Time Pilot

It's Time...

It’s Time…

If anyone ever wants to buy me an arcade game, this is the one I would want, hands-down. Time Pilot is my all-time favorite classic arcade game. And I’m pretty durned good at it, too. In fact, that’s my high score there in the photo, still there at the end of the final day of a classic arcade expo. I’d say that’s pretty good. I love this game. Love, love, love it.

Police Force

This police station is like a zoo!

This police station is like a zoo!

A pinball game about fighting crime. Sorry, I should have said “fighting animal crime.” You see, this pinball game is full of anthropomorphic cops and criminals. Here, take a look at the criminal animals:

Marching two by two...

Marching two by two… TO JAIL!

Stratovox

Save the humanoids!

Save the humanoids!

This is a Galaga-style game. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the green planet along the right side of the screen is lined with about 10 humanoid figures. Enemies launch from a cluster in the upper-left corner of the screen. You have to shoot them from your perch on the blue planet along the bottom of the screen before they snatch a humanoid from the green planet and take them back to their cluster. Kinda like a cross between Galaga and Defender.

LaZarian

More that meets the eye.

More that meets the eye.

This game threw me for a loop and consistently surprised me. It seems to change every few seconds into a completely different game.

  • First you’re flying around a planet, trying to shoot weird, irregularly-shaped “zones” on it as they turn yellow, while they shoot at you.
  • Once you shoot enough yellow zones, a ship that looks a lot like yours appears in the planet and you land and attach to it. The shots that the zones put out transform into “meteors” and start trying to shoot you. You can’t leave the planet, but can only move around within its confines while trying to shoot the meteors.
  • Once you shoot all the meteors, the screen completely wipes and is replaced by a back-and forth ascending maze (think the girders in Donkey Kong’s first level), and suddenly it’s almost a platform-style game as you slowly fly through the maze, shooting or avoiding tiny little people that pop out of the walls and charge you, and weird bird-shaped enemies, and a bunch of other seemingly-random stuff.
  • When you get to the end of the maze, you’re confronted suddenly with a Phoenix-style boss, a big ship with a gigantic, central eye that is protected by layers of regenerating shields. And also suddenly your gun can only shoot about 1″ in front of you instead of all the way across the screen. You have to drill through the shield to zap the eye while it tries to shoot you (easy for it to do since you have to get withing point-blank range to hit it). Also there are more of those tiny flying people along the sides of the screen who are also trying to shoot you.
  • If you manage to shoot the eye, the ship it was contained in vanishes, and now the eye starts zooming all over the screen trying to ram into you while you get confined to only being able to move left and right along the bottom of the screen, Galaga-style. If you manage to shoot the eye four times then you win! And you go back to the first board with the planet of yellow zones.

SO WEIRD. But so cool in that it is so many games in one.

Return of the Jedi

Yub-nub, Chief Chirpa. Yub-nub, my homie.

Yub-nub, Chief Chirpa. Yub-nub, my homie.

This one is also a big nostalgia trip for me. I used to play this all the time in arcades when I was a kid. There are three levels: A speederbike level where you try to lure enemy speederbikes into Ewok traps; An AT-ST level where you pilot your stolen Imperial walker and try to avoid logs and other hazards; and a Death Star run level, where you pilot the Millenium Falcon into the heart of the Death Start to destroy its reactor… and then turn around and try to out-run the ensuing explosion. All of this is in isometric, ¾-view.

Star Wars

May the Force be with your balls.

May the Force be with your balls.

A nice, 1980s-style pinball game based on Episodes 4-6. There is a Death Star on the board, and an even bigger R2-D2 who looms over the Death Star. It’s fun to make him squeal and squeak. It’s a pretty well-designed board with a lot of cool features.

Kangaroo

Huh? Oh, nothing. Just punchin' monkeys.

Huh? Oh, nothing. Just punchin’ monkeys.

Another extreme nostalgia trip for me. In Kangaroo you play a mama who is trying to climb a tree to rescue her baby kangaroo from a bunch of punk monkeys that like to toss fruit at you. Don’t worry, you can punch them. For a game about a kangaroo, the jumping feature is extremely limited; you can’t jump very high at all). Like Donkey Kong there are several different boards through which you progress.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

After Kangaroo it was time to re-meet up with Cassie for lunch at the little lunch counter area off to the side of the main expo floor. I had chicken strips and garlic fries. Cassie had a burger, bananas, and a chocolate bar. She then constructed this sculpture, which she christened “Washington Crossing the Delaware:”

What other POSSIBLE name is there for this sculpture!?

What other POSSIBLE name is there for this sculpture!?

Then we continued on in the afternoon with more two-player madness.

Tumblepop

I foolishly did not take a photo of this game! It was in a Magic Sword cabinet, to boot! Tumblepop is a 1990s Bubble Bobble-style game, where you have vacuum cleaners that you use to suck up enemies and then spit them back out at other enemies. Imagine Kirby with Bubble Bobble levels, only you don’t get super powers from the enemies you suck up in the vacuum. Interesting. Not as good as the crazy cactus game in a similar vein that they had last year.

Quarth

Boxy but good.

Boxy but good.

Kind of a competitive, two-player vs tetris style game, except instead of trying to line up blocks you’re trying to make the blocks into quadrangles by shooting one-square blocks that attach to the irregularly-shaped blocks that are descending ever towards you. It’s surprisingly fun. There’s some sorta mechanic that lets you complete multiple rectangles at the same time, but I never got the hang of that.

Raiden Fighters 2

Awash in a sea of bullets.

Awash in a sea of bullets.

Back in the early 2000s, in the early days after Fools Play moved to Olympia, after each show we would go to Red Robin for food and hanging out. In the arcade room therein was Raiden Fighters, and Geoff & I would waste a few quarters on that madhouse of a game every time we had the chance. This is the sequel to that game, an insanely-busy vertical-scrolling SHMUP that lets you choose your ship (each of which has different powers), and then power up either its lasers or its missiles, depending on which power-ups you collect. Plus the screen is always full of a bajillion moving things, many of which can kill you in one shot. It’s P.C. (Pretty Crazy).

Surprise Special Guest:

Lego my deetwo!

Lego my deetwo!

This jaunty li’l fellow showed up at this point and paraded through the expo hall. He was covered in legos.

The Black Hole

Maximilian!

Maximilian!

The Black Hole is innovative for having a second, “basement” board below the main board (under a piece of clear glass) that slants the opposite way as the main one. If you are lucky/skilled, you can get your ball down there for extra inverted fun!

Haunted House

It's a ghostly rhythm.

It’s a ghostly rhythm.

This one has a similar “basement” board to The Black Hole’s, but this one-ups The Black Hole by also having an upper, “attic” board! That’s right, it’s a three-story pinball game! It’s also a very fun one, and I’m a sucker for a good haunted house.

Joust

We don't need no stinkin' pterodactyl!

We don’t need no stinkin’ pterodactyl!

The fascinating, head-to-head, simultaneous two-player pinball game themed around the video game of the same name. The players sit on opposite sides of the board, which slants up from both sides to peak in the middle. You try to score points with the ball(s) on your side of the board, and also try to sink them into the holes on your opponent’s side of the board! There are usually several balls in play at once, especially during the final 30 seconds when ball after ball gets launched until time runs out. This was one of the more fun two-player experiences at the expo.

When Cassie used the restroom I killed time by playing a couple of games:

Stunt Cycle

For our next stunt... one more bus!

For our next stunt… one more bus!

Old as dirt, this game has only one control: throttle. I know, it looks like the controller handlebars should let you steer, but they’re bolted firmly in place. All you can do is throttle up and down to make your little guy on the screen go faster or slower. You have to be going the correct speed when you get to the bottom level to jump over all the buses but not go so fast that you overshoot the ramp on the other side of the buses. That’s it. Whee?

Relief Pitcher

What a - wait for it - relief!

What a – wait for it – relief!

A sportsball game. You use a joystick to aim your pitch and one of three buttons to choose your pitch. And then after three outs you bat. Meh. I was really just killing time with this one.

*****

And that’s pretty much everything that I played that I couldn’t really easily play elsewhere. There was another one I forgot to take a photo of, a 3D racing game in which you controlled a kind of flying ship.

That may seem like some good games (good games), but the best is yet to come. For, you see, at the NWPAS in 2014 was one of the greatest pinball machines ever made:

Team Les Schwab

Is this real life?

Is this real life?

Yes, this is “Team Les Schwab.” Yes, the same Les Schwab that offered FREE BEEF if you purchase tires!

Because Les Schwab is a tire company, the game is car-themed:

Les Schwab is More Fun!

Les Schwab is More Fun!

There are a lot of weird and wacky touches throughout the game and the case, such as a “Blue-Light” special that spells out Carrera:

Now on aisle 6: a Carrera.

Now on aisle 6: a Carrera.

Instead of a start button, there is actually an ignition key that you turn:

Take a key for coming in.

Take a key for coming in.

But by far the best part about this pinball machine is contained in two simple words:

FREE BEEF! IT'S REAL! FREE BEEF AT LES SCHWAB!

FREE BEEF! IT’S REAL! FREE BEEF AT LES SCHWAB!


I always have a metric tonne of funne at the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show every year I’m able to go. Since they’ve moved it to Tacoma it’s been a lot easier for me to do so! Hooray!

The scent of nerd sweat in the air...

The scent of nerd sweat in the air…

Perhaps next year you will join me there! PERHAPS!

Categories: Articles, Pictures, Tacoma, Video Games.

9 June 2014

Hello Kitty Around the World: Afghanistan Edition

A friend of ours was stationed in Afghanistan for the past nine months or so. She just got back and presented this to Carrie:

Hello Afghani Kitty :-/

Hello Afghani Kitty :-/

We were told that she is holding an AK-47. Something tells me that this might not be official Sanrio merchandise. Maybe it’s the gun. Or the fact that she has a mouth that is making the :-/ emoticon face. Dunno.

Categories: Pictures.

21 May 2014

The Great Yard Purge of 2014

So it turns out when you have a baby and you and your spouse are both working full-time, one of the things that gets pushed WAY down the list of priorities is yard work. It just doesn’t seem like the most important thing in the world, especially if there’s a giggling, wiggly, adorable baby you could be cuddling with right inside the house.

Thankfully there are actually people who will do yard work for you. It’s true! People will exchange services for money! The yard absolutely exploded over the past month, what with it being Spring and all. So I hired someone to come clean it out… with a vengeance.

Just take a look-see:

Before...

Before…

 

Not quite done yet...

Not quite done yet…

 

After! Hey, look at what was under there!

After! Hey, look at what was under there!

Hooray! There’s actually a usable yard back there once more! This is especially important as the wee beb becomes more mobile. We would really like for her to actually be able to, you know, enjoy our yards. Weird, I know. But that’s how it is.

Oh, the person I hired? I hired The Lawn Man, of course. Kyle the Lawn Man. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! He did a metric tonne of work razing that jungle down to the ground and re-seeding it for the future. He cleaned out many a thorny bush and unwanted sprouting tree, and he scraped the patio completely clean.

I’m super glad I hired him. SO CAN YOU!

Categories: Pictures, Tacoma, Yard.

19 May 2014

Julia Massey & The West at Columbia City Theater

Musical Ladies: The West and JMass!

Musical Ladies: The West and JM+FFD!

On Friday evening Carrie & I left the wee beb with the Grandparents and jetted on up to Seattle’s Columbia City Theater to see our friends do some of the rock and roll. And I took photos!

We arrived late enough that we only got to hear a couple of songs from the opening band, Bandolier, so apologies to them but I didn’t hear enough to really give them a fair review. Sounded good, though. You can listen to their musics on the Bandcamp.

Up next was The West. I’d only vaguely known of their existence prior to this. I think I saw their name on various show flyers around Seattle and on some Facebook events. But I knew nothing about them.

Turns out they are a very talented pop/rock/disco/dance quintet: guitar, bass, drums, and two keyboards (including a very cool Korg) and two vocalists, a husband-and-wife team (who are also the two keyboardists). Adrienne (pictured at the top left of this post), had a super-engaging stage presence and spent the whole set rockin’ out with her punkish outfit and fiery mop of red hair. They put on a very enjoyable show, so Carrie & I were really happy we got there in time to see them.

Plus, I made an animated GIF of them! Look at them go:

The West Animated GIF

The West: The Animated GIF!

Speaking of stage presence, Julia Massey was up next. Their set included the song they wrote for my baby daughter! Squee! I got some pretty good photos of them individually:

Julia Massey!

Julia Massey!

 
Geoff B. Gibbs!

Geoff B. Gibbs!

 
Dom "The Nizzle" Cortese!

Dom “The Nizzle” Cortese!

I tried to make an animated GIF out of Julia, but the series of photos I took were just too wobbly and it came out all crazy. So instead I made an Instagram video of Geoff playing the bass. My cameraphone couldn’t handle the volume of the music, so it sounds pretty crazy, but just look at Geoff’s hands go:

One of Julia’s songs was also filmed for some sort of video, so there’s a really good chance that Carrie I will be in it! I’ll keep you posted on that as I learn more myself.

At the end of the night I purchased The West’s album In Low Light on CD and showed the animated GIF to Adrienne. I posted it on their Facebook page when we got home, and they seemed pretty impressed:

Hooray! I’m SOMEONE!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Pictures, Videos.

1 May 2014

Three Ninjas & Joshua Stephens as Animated .GIFs!

Tuesday night I went up to Three Ninjas’s Album Release Party for his newest album, Alcohol & Isolation. His opening act was the folk punk one-man dynamo, Joshua Stephens.

As is my way when it comes to music shows, I made some animated .GIFs of the festivities. Partake and enjoy!

I’ve made many an animated .GIF in my time. ‘Tis true! Look at ‘em all!

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Pictures.

21 February 2014

Olympic Skeleton Helmets

Helmets for a Skeleton's Skull.

Helmets for a Skeleton’s Skull.

I’m not much of a sports guy. I attended a Superbowl party this year, but it was one of only 3 sports events I’d watched in the past 12 months.

But I do enjoy me some Olympics. One of my favorite things about these 2014 Sochi Games?

Skeleton.

A relatively recent addition to the Olympics (apart from two early competitions some 50+ years ago), Skeleton is basically the luge, except you go down the track on your belly, face-first.

Awexome.

What’s even more awexome than the sport itself is the fact that they let the competitors customize their own helmets. This has led to some spectacular sights careening down an ice track.

I don’t want to step on anyone’s copyright toes (lame) by including images here on my website, but just click this link to do a Google Image Search for “Sochi Skeleton Helmets” — http://goo.gl/EaPzx9

You’ll be glad you did.

Whelp, I’m off to work now, and then this evening I’m off to Seattle to see Robb Benson and Nice Garçons! You should come to that, too! You’ll be glad you did.

Categories: Pictures.

18 February 2014

Nocando, Open Mike Eagle, Milo, and Busdriver of the Hellfyre Club were at The Crocodile Last Night!

And so was I!

Hellfyre burns up the Crocodile.

Hellfyre burns up the Crocodile.

The Hellfyre Club represents pretty much the best in rap today. I always try to see them whenever they’re in town, so it was especially nice to have four of them in one show for efficiency!

My friends Cassie and Sandy were there before the show, and we all hung out with Open Mike Eagle and ate pizza and geeked out about Netflix shows. Sandy made home-cookies for the Club, even! Mike left to go get prepped, and we three wandered to the stage area where we found Jason “Three Ninjas” Brunet.

The show started out with Nocando:

Nocando can actually do raps.

Nocando can actually do raps.

Then came my pal Open Mike Eagle, who had a very special guest guarding his equipment setup:

The Ice King watches over us all...

The Ice King watches over us all…

Since this is me, I managed to make an animated .GIF of Mike doing his thang:

Open Mike Eagle Animated.

Open Mike Eagle Animated.

It was a great set. After it he and I talked about his fandom of They Might Be Giants (I suggested he could do an entire set of just songs that reference/quote TMBG songs).

After Mike came Milo:

Milo was all highs and no lows.

Milo was all highs and no lows.

I’d never seen Milo before, and had only ever heard songs where he was one among many peformers, never his solo stuff. I was terrifically impressed! That was some good stuff.

And finally came the meistro Busdriver:

Busdriver likes to ushnu.

Busdriver likes to ushnu.

I managed to capture two animated .GIFs of him:

An unusually calm Busdriver.

An unusually calm Busdriver.

 
In the driver we trust.

Get on the bus! In the driver we trust.

And then once everybody had gone solo, all four of ‘em got on stage together for another set of songs!

It was funtimes. Why weren’t you there? Oh, yeah, prolly ’cause it was on a Monday night, and I didn’t get home until almost 2:00 in the morning and had to get up at about 5:30 to get baby to her Grandparents and then get to work on time. Y’know. I’m feelin’ the sleeps today, but I tells ya, it was worth it.

Categories: Concerts/Shows, Pictures.