G4TV to return?! How, Why and who cares?

ME! I do right here. Super excited. I know everybody is going to be talking about this. I don’t think I can wait for the next episode of the Dark Web Podcast to upload next week to get my thoughts out there on this.

First let me say I am super stoked and I almost don’t even care what it ends up looking like when it returns. I say almost because, well it could be a mess.

G4TV, known once upon a time as TechTV and G4TechTV was a TV network for nerds. With the rise of the internet streaming nerds fled the network in favor of stuff like the (defunct/rebranded The Know turned Inside Gaming, IGN and YouTube for news) but I never lost hope the idea could be revived. In fact what initially drew me to Rooster Teeth in the first place, along with ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com were how much they kinda sorta reminded me of the once  great but never forgotten G4.

I am sorry my thoughts are all over the place. I am torn. I really want Attack of the Show and X-Play to make a proper return I really do, but what I want and what could happen might not be the same. I know as an adult who frequently revisits old flames and is constantly bombarded by reboots that it won’t be the same as the first time around. So what! I want more Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb damn it!

The saddest part of the G4 story always had been the fact it was supplanted by YouTube when it was tailor made to be be a YouTube show. Now there is some speculation if it returns it would be either a YouTube network/series ala Rooster Teeth and ChannelAwesome (ya know to fill the void left behind with Machinema and GameTrailers also now defunct) but there are also those who see it as possibly becoming a draw for Twitch. Sadly this is where I think the majority of gamers might lean and that makes me split. See if they bring back those old shows in a format similar to before but modified slightly to fit on a web series I’d be all in. Sign me up. I’ll even buy merch and sign up for the inevitable Patreon.

However, G4 has a ghost in its past. You see the network failed because it was gobbled up by content giant Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal (and recently launched the less than stellar Peacock (cr)app). This gives me cause for concern. Revitalized as a YouTube channel with shows I can follow easily I am in. Rebranded as a content tied to Peacock I am hesitant but willing to hear you out. However bring it back as just a cable TV station locked to paid cable subscribers and I am forever blocked from gaining access to its content. This was what killed the brand in the first place. It failed to adapt. It had a YouTube presence but it was before content creators knew how to make money off YouTube and before network TV figured out how to utilize it properly, thus it was there but it wasn’t there in a meaningful (read profitable) way. In other words, it will take more than bringing the shows back and getting them in front of an audience. It has to be the right audience, right platform and it has to be engaging and entertaining.

Yes I can see a revised Attack of the Show being viewed fondly on YouTube or even Twitch but quickly dying out as the audience split and ad share won’t be enough to justify a full TV production. On the flip side a full scale cable TV treatment but on Peacock might be the draw that app needs to lure a few suckers like me to stick around. It is already streaming Code Monkeys after all, a show which originally made it’s debut on, you guessed it, G4.

I will have more to say on this subject but my lunch break is over I have to return to work, punch the clock and get my paycheck in so I can keep eating. Be sure to wait anxiously for the next episode of The Dark Web Podcast to get my full thoughts on what this could mean, how it might work and what it would look like to get me on board or lose me forever. Stay Cool.

Why I do my retro gaming on emulators while still collecting original hardware

It’s quite simple really gaming should be platform agnostic and above all it should be about enjoying the games we play. I love owning original physical hardware in almost all cases. For me it’s partially about owning a piece of history. There is something amazing about having a thing sitting in your house that existed in the past. It connects me to the history of gaming and I enjoy that very much. But there is another side to it.

I like to own physical things  because it takes me back in time. I was born in 1982. This means I grew up in a world that had digital goods released on physical platforms. We called it the digital age back then. Of course by today’s standards some might refer to it as the stone age, with good reason.

Collecting and gaming are two different things. You see as a toy collector I absolutely must play with my toys. I am not a shelf collector. I paid hundreds of dollars for a boxed original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Mega Zord set only to open the  box and assemble the team. I have to touch the toys I own.

This is not necessarily the case for video games.

Even when I was a kid I was a PC gamer. If I had to rank my gaming priorities it was arcade first, PC second, console distant third. The reason was simple. Even back then you could trade games with a friend and if you knew what you were doing it was easy to make copies of games (even if it was sometimes shady to do so) and swap those with others. We treated the software as just that, an intangible digital program we could erase and replace at will as needed. Games were disposable. If you wanted to save it for good you made a hard copy. In the early days it was tape or floppy disk, later it was CD, then DVD-ROM. By the time hard drives and flash memory came on the scene PC gamers like myself were decades into moving digital files from one format to the next. Each time we bought a new computer we immediately went through the painstaking process of getting our software ported over.

Once emulation came along most PC gamers didn’t bat an eye. For those writing the software that made emulation possible it was about preserving the specs, the software and the knowledge. For those of us who had a computer hungry for software we just needed to feed our PC’s as much new software as we could get our hands on. For me, I didn’t see a rom set of Super NES games as digital copies of Super Nintendo games, I saw them as PC software I had to have. Games I had to play.

Every single PC gamer on the planet has done their share of what could be considered piracy. It’s what we do. Sometimes we find legal ways or gray areas to accomplish our end goal but in the end it’s all about selfishly hoarding as much electronic interactive entertainment as we can muster.

Now every console loyalist is going to scream piracy or authenticity if you say you game using emulation. Sure let them cry all day long. There are those who try to claim owning a physical copy justifies or allows for the having a digital  back up. Technically under the DMCA yes that is true. But not entirely. Then there are those who say it’s only okay if you rip the rom yourself. This is not entirely accurate either.

The worst is when you have those who say you’re better off buying physical copies of retro games because it supports the publishers. Um no, if I buy a used copy of Contra on the NES that money is going into the hands of John Doe not anyone that had anything to do with the creation of said game.

Those same loyalists might say maybe it’s about supporting  your local game store. Again nope. I can buy whatever they have for sale sure, but at the same time it is their responsibility to provide a product I am willing to buy at a price I am comfortable with.

For me I will always prefer gaming on my PC. I see playing Super NES Roms using an emulator as the same as playing the PC version of certain games. And yes even though I do have a physical copy of Mortal Kombat on Genesis that hasn’t stopped me from purchasing the PC version fro GoG.com, on top of purchasing the digital version of Mortal Kombat Kollection on PS3. And that is on top of buying Midways Arcade Treasures physical copies for both the PS2 and GameCube.

At the end of the day I will always be a PC gamer and a console collector. I think it is perfectly acceptable to be both as far as I am concerned they are one and the same. Stay cool.

The Spiders Lair’s 25 Essential Super NES games every gamer should play

It’s high time I start up some controversy with a list of the MUST play games for the greatest game console ever made.

Here you go. In no particular order.

1. Super Mario World

Not only is this my personal favorite video game of all time, it’s an absolute treat to play. It basically took everything that was great about Super Mario Bros. 3 and beefed it up into a 16-bit masterpiece. Also it gave the world Yoshi so you can’t beat that.

2. Super Metroid

While the first game broke ground on the NES, the sequel shattered all expectations. This is by far the most important story-driven action-adventure sci-fi thriller from the 16-bit era. It’s also the only Metroid I have ever beaten so there is that. Even though it is 2D this game feels like a movie.

3. Donkey Kong Country

Take the Sony Playstation, remove the CD-ROM and shove a 32-bit looking 3D-animated video game onto a 2D 16-bit cartridge with amazing damn-near CD-quality music and you got yourself a game gamers keep returning to year after year.

4. Mega Man X

I’ll say it. This is the perfect Mega Man game, hands down. If you only play one game in the franchise this is absolutely the one to pick. It has has a great balance of zones, difficult but not impossible bosses, fantastic music, neat settings and it’s not nearly as convoluted as its sequels nor as simple yet extremely difficult as its predecessors. It’s by far the best Mega Man game ever. Oh and it absolutely shines on the 16-Bit SNES.

5. Super Castlevania IV

By now you are wondering if this list will contain anything you didn’t already know to play? Well if you purchased a Super Nintendo and weren’t planning on playing this game then you made a mistake buying the system in the first place.

I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said before. This game is everything you’d ever want in a horror game. It’s everything you’d want in an action/adventure game. It’s everything you’d want in a side-scrolling, 2D game. Personally I think Symphony of the Night is the superior game but since this is a SNES list this is the game to get.

6. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

There are Zelda games and there is A Link to the Past. This is the perfect blend of suspense, action, puzzle solving and story telling. It’s before the timeline became all Doctor Who timey whimey. The simplistic nature of this beautifully told story that sucks the gamer into a world you absolutely must experience is unmatched even to this day.

7. Final Fantasy III

There is an unhealthy debate among video gamers over which FF is better, this one or its PSX sequel. Regardless of where you fall on that ridiculous debate, there is one truth and it is you MUST play this game before you die. Up till this point not only was Final Fantasy an obscure franchise, console Japanese RPG’s themselves were little more than oddities only hard core nerds new about. This is the game that turned my passing interest in Zelda games into an obsession with D&D and similar fantasy games.

This is one of those rare masterpieces that illustrates you don’t need fancy realistic graphics to tell a heart-felt and charming story. This is the game that proves less is more.

8. Super Mario Kart

What can I say, this is where the whole phenomenon got its start. If you are going to buy any Nintendo console chances are extremely high you’ll only do so after that generation’s Mario Kart has been released. It is absolutely no different here. This isn’t necessarily the best racing game on the system, but it is a truly must-play game for the platform.

This was the game that took Mario and friends from being recognizable by kids the world over to becoming international superstars.

9. Star Fox

Whether or not the game holds up compared to modern 3D shooters is irrelevant. If you are going to purchase a Super Nintendo system you owe it to yourself to play the game that showed Sega you can do amazing graphics without an expensive add on. Never mind the historical context, this game is worth owning for the novelty of playing a game on your SNES that looks and feels like it could have been an early Playstation release, years before the Playstation even existed!

10. Sim City

You are going to have people tell you to play the PC version or any number of sequels. I am going to tell you pff! This is not only the version that features Nintendo characters, which is a neat bonus, it’s also the only version that features the unique gifts that make the game extra enjoyable. It adds a layer of fun to the game you don’t get in other versions. I highly recommend this game as it is my absolute favorite version and a blast to play.

11. Cool Spot

Technically you could get this game on the Sega Genesis and I’d give you a thumbs up. But either way if you haven’t taken the time to play this side scrolling, platforming love letter to 90s marketing then you’re truly missing out. This game is a must play because it’s fun as hell, cute as a button and totally rad 90s nostalgic.

12. Super Star Wars

There’s a bad habit of games on the SNES being enhanced remakes or upgraded ports of NES games. While this is certainly the case here too, it’s probably the best example of that being done right. The game is hard as hell which retains that NES-hard gameplay you’ll no doubt throw a controller or two at the wall. It also fully captures the spirit of Star Wars while letting you explore the worlds in a nostalgic 2-D environment. It might not be the absolutely best game based on a movie but it’s certainly a shining example of how licensed games can actually be pretty damn good.

13. Super Mario RPG

I shouldn’t have to explain why this game is essential. Take two popular franchises, put them in a blender, crank up the graphics to near-PS1 levels and you got yourself a game that proves why the Super NES is probably the greatest game console of all time.

14. Super Mario All-Star

Sounds familiar right? Another Mario game. Except this time you take the three amazingly fantastic original 8-bit NES games, slap some brand spanking new 16-bit paint on them and enhance the gameplay with save states and customizable controls and you got yourself a game you can’t miss. Enjoy.

15. Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage

Oh sure you could also play this on Sega Genesis but since you’ve already invested in the SNES you might as well get this version. And hey even if you already do have the Sega copy, this is still worth owning.

16. Killer Instinct

Not exactly a Mortal Kombat killer but certainly a game worthy of your time. Beautiful graphics for the system. Fantastic game play, great characters and fun fatalities (if you can pull them off). ‘Nuff Said.

17. Robocop versus Terminator

Another one of those games you could technically get on the competition, which is fine just as long as you experience it in some fashion.

18. Donkey Kong Country 2

It’s quite Rare, (see what I did there?) for a sequel to surpass the original but this game does so in every single way. If you are going to play SNES you are absolutely going to play DKC games.

19. Knights of the Round

Not exactly a hidden gem but certainly underrated classic. I highly recommend this port if you can’t get access to the arcade board. Even if you can it’s an addicting action game worth every pixel.

20. Kendo Rage

Now this is a hidden gem. I discovered it as a kid and it will blow you away if you’ve never played it. This is one of those fantastic anime titles people often overlook.

21. Super Bomberman

It’s easy to label any random bomberman game on whichever console you own as a must own party game but it’s still true. This game is no exception. You will need a multitap and additional controllers but if you invest in those items it is a real treat.

22. Kirby Superstar

There’s a ton of great Kirby games out there. This is just another amazing game in a fantastic franchise.

23. Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island

The sequel/spin off that launched it’s own on-going franchise is mandatory gaming for every person who wants to be called a Nintendo fan.

24. Super Game Boy

Before you point out this is an add on that lets you play Game Boy carts let me remind you this is also a game itself. It has plenty of activities you can dabble in without inserting a GB cartridge.

25. Mario Paint

You don’t even have to be artistic to enjoy this MS Word predecessor with a fun Nintendo twist. The game that single-handidly justified the existence of the SNES mouse.


Why video games have always been a part of my identity and self worth

I’ve always been a gamer. Some of my earliest childhood memories are playing video games with my family. Now when I say gamer I do go beyond just video games and include  board games, card games, tabletop games, role playing games and other types of games. I love gaming as an activity. But above all I thoroughly enjoy playing video games.

I’ve always struggled with my self identity. I’ve gone through phases where I thought I was a b-boy, artist, musician, DJ, photographer, writer, filmmaker and even gardener. Even before I had a word in my head for transgender I knew there was one aspect of my identity I never questioned, I was a gamer first and foremost.

It took me a while to realize the type of gamer I truly am. I say this because I don’t want to stereotype based on gender but I’ve come to realize I am transgender and I now know that by and large the games I enjoy are very much the types of games stereotypically enjoyed by females. I’ve thought maybe I was a retro gamer but then every once in a while a modern game would come along and get me excited. I thought maybe it was cinematic games I despised and then I would play a game that sucked me into the world depicted in ways even the most engaging book couldn’t.

I’ve always known I was drawn primarily towards Nintendo. Now that isn’t to say if you like Nintendo it makes you gay, or you are a girl. In fact I know plenty of cisgender straight males who love Nintendo. It also doesn’t feel fair to say that I only like the more feminine games in the companies library. What I can safely say is if I paired it down to the core, I could make a broad statement that I am a transgender gamer who prefers fun, lighthearted games, sometimes with a good story other times just good game play and other times chock full of action.

I think it’s safer to say I am a gamer who enjoys games that make me happy. I have always noticed when it comes to entertainment from music, television, books and even video games, with a few exceptions, I have always found myself attracted to things typically associated with feminism. That’s not to say that everyone who enjoys the same games I find myself enjoying is female, trans, gay or something similar. I think it just means that as I flesh out my identity I discover more about myself in the things I like. It helps me refine the things in my life I have struggled to define accurately in the past.

Why bring this up now? Why draw attention to it? Frankly, the more I learn about myself the easier it becomes for me to open up to people. It’s not like if someone asks me what type of games I enjoy I will say gay games. What I might say though is I am a trans gamer and leave it at that. Upon further examination I might just say play video games and not make it such a large part of my identity. Stay cool.


The Spiders Lair’s 25 must play Nintendo games

Since today is National videogame day I thought I would throw together a list of 25 must play Nintendo games spanning all platforms the best of the best.

As with all my lists this is not a ranking it is just numbered for organizational purposes.

1. Super Mario World – SNES

2. Donkey Kong- arcade

3. Super Metroid – SNES

4. Super Mario 64 – N64

5. Dr. Mario – NES

6. Splatoon – Wii U

7. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Brothers 3 e- Game Boy Advance / eReader

8. Metroid Prime – GameCube

9. Star Fox Adventures – GameCube

10. Super Mario Bros./ Duck Hunt – NES

11. Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past – SNES

12. Donkey Kong Country – SNES

13. Super Mario 3D World – Wii U

14. New Super Mario Bros. – DS

15. Paper Mario – N64

16. Wii Sports – Wii

17. Legend of Zelda – NES

18. Star Fox 64 – N64

19. Tetris – Gameboy

20. Pokemon Red and Blue – Gameboy

21. Arms – Switch

22. Super Smash Bros. Melee – GameCube

23. Mario Party-N64

24. Super Mario Kart – SNES

25. Nintendogs – DS

THE RAT’s top 25 Science Fiction movies

This is another list of movies to see what comes up. This time we’ll be taking a look at the best sci-fi movies. As with all lists the rank is not top to bottom they are numbered for sorting purposes only. Let’s get started.

1. Star Wars

You can call it space opera, space fantasy or whatever you want it’s still science fiction even if only on the surface. Easily one of the greatest films of all time and definitely a movie all sci-fi fans need to experience.

2. Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn

Not the only good Star Trek movie but certainly the best. It has everything you’d want from a science fiction movie and it still holds up well today.

3. Sphere

In some ways this could be considered a thriller. Either way it’s still a great movie all the way around.

4. Alien

It’s a slasher movie. It’s a thriller. It’s a horror movie and it’s a sci-fi masterpiece. What more do you want?

5. Jurassic Park

Some would claim its more of a monster movie, which it is, than pure sci-fi but what are you going to do it has Dinosaurs and retro computers.

6. The Matrix

If you make a list of the best sci-fi movies and you leave the Matrix off then you failed. This is probably the most sci-fi of all the movies on this list.

7. Inception

More known for being a mind trip, and it does rely heavily on a pseudo-science rather than hard science, it still counts.

8. Back to the Future

Sure it’s really a comedy  but it’s also a sci-fi comedy and by far the best time travel movie around.

9. The Terminator

Often overlooked because of its action-movie sequel, this one is pure science fiction at its best. Also the special effects still give me chills.

10. Starship Troopers

This movie wins on so many levels. The action. The violence. The spaceships. The naked people. A+ Sci-fi film right here.

11. Total Recall

One of the best movies Arnold Schwarzenegger ever starred in. Similar to Inception and The Matrix in a lot of ways but still pretty damn cool.

12. Robocop

Part robot. Part cop. All bitching kick ass action sci-fi roller coaster.

13.  Guardians of the Galaxy

It’s probably the only MCU film that counts as legit sci-fi rather than superhero fluff. Also it just rocks.

14. Aeon Flux

Some will say it’s a bad movie. I say give it another shot.

15. TMNT

The original. It’s campy but it’s still pretty interesting.

16. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Visually stunning. Classic premise. Superb story telling.

17. Batteries Not Included

Cute, endearing and fun at the same time.

18. The Fifth Element

Must watch film. Beautiful special effects. Funny and solid action flick with interesting plot.

19. Men in Black

The actual good sci-fi movie Will Smith was in.

20. The Time Machine

The original. Very solid film. Very iconic. Very thought provoking.

21. Planet of the Apes

The twist ending alone makes it worth it.

22. Star Trek First Contact

I tried to keep it to one film per franchise but this movie absolutely belongs on the list.

23. Superman

The original superhero comic book movie and still a fantastic sci-fi adventure.

24. Demolition Man

Cheesy, yes and still light years ahead of the competition.

25. Independence Day

By far the best flying saucer movie ever made.