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A five-course meal of old-school
with a side of new-school

Written : 09/30/04

These days, people have been pretty big on nostalgia. To a degree anyway. We're mostly trying to bring back a period of the 80's and some of the fads of the 90's for children. Just look at how rock 'n roll bands of days past like Van Halen and Guns n' Roses are popping up in the music libraries of countless youth, while rap and pop are slowly starting to take a backseat. See all the teens wearing shirts of TV shows they used to watch when they were just wee tykes. Even Teletoon Retro is bringing back more old shows that people love. If this keeps up, we'll be back to hair bands and ripped jeans in no time.

One of the most prolific examples of this wave of "old-school" is the world of gaming. Just look at all these compilations of old Atari and arcade games that they're putting out on the market these days. Nintendo is playing a huge part in this revival too, and I'm pointing directly at their Classic NES collection. A GameBoy Advance SP that looks like a NES and scores of games from the olden days to go along with it. It's really touching for some one like myself who was around when these were the big thing. Of course, I just caught the tail end of it, but I still know the score.

But today, I'm not looking into Nintendo's classic efforts. No, I've got something even better, that only cost me the price of a single one of those Classic NES games. You see, I was at Toys R' Us one day, and right on one of the eyecatch shelves by the entrance was possibly one of the greatest pieces of technology I've ever seen. Well, maybe not that amazing, but it does play Pac-Man, so it's doing pretty well for itself in my eyes.

A-freaking-mazing. It was just there and it caught my eye right away. The little yellow pie-shape and ghosties had me right there and then. And then I found that there was more than Pac-Man to what I was looking at. Yes. It was the ultimate home arcade wannabe. Aside from a PC. Let's take a closer look at this gift from the heavens.

This is where the magic begins. It claims that you can jsut plug in in and play games on your TV! With 5 classics straight from the arcade! How could you possibly go wrong? There's no hassle of game discs of memory cards or controllers, you just plug it in and go! It's such an amazing concept, I'm shocked that nobody thought this up before now! (Ok, I know it's not a novel concept, but I'm just trying to get a little thing called "hype" across here.)

To further support it's wild claims of being able to plug in and go, it shows what we can assume to be the machine's cable plugging into a TV. And it just so happens that Pac-Man is playing on the TV! So that must mean that they are telling the truth! It can make games appear on the Television! And I can play them! Well, now that the actual playability of the games is confirmed, let's have a look at this "5 games" business.

Yes! It does have five games! It's time I powered up for some 80's Arcade action! Yeah! Too many exclamation points! Anyhow, while the package is adorned mainly with a Pac-Man theme, we can also get a glimpse of the other four games held inside this magic joystick. Along side the Pac are Bosconian, Galaxian, Rally-X and Dig-Dug. And I hadn't even heard of two of those before. I did know that I like Dig-Dug, so having at least two classic arcade games I enjoy for the same price that one would have cost me for the GBA was sounding like a pretty good deal. So natutrally, I picked it up. But you knew that already.

I guess it's worth mentioning that this wasn't the only machine of it's type around. There are four altogether, one shaped like something I've never seen before, one emulating an Atari joystick, one that looks like a small arcade joystick and button, and one shaped like the head of Spongebob Squarepants. The arcade deal and the Spongebob head were the only ones there while I was shopping, or else I probably would have grabbed the Atari-shaped one. I'm not even sure if the Spongebob joystick had a Spongebob game on it, since I didn't care enough.

You see the almost perfect remake of the Atari joystick? Oh it makes me want to go to the cottage and dig up the actual thing. If only we hadn't lost our Donkey Kong cartridge. But I guess Ms. Pac-Man and Kangaroo will cut it. And then... why did they make a Spongebob model in a set of joysticks that promoted old games? There are no old Spongbob games, and if they did put one on there, it would be new, thereby blowing away the point of making joysticks promoting old games. Oh well.

Moving on, there's the thing out of the package. Is it what you were expecting? A little too flamboyantly coloured for my liking, but it does it's job well enough for me to ignore that. It doesn't give the same feeling of a real arcade machine, but it does pretty well on that front, and it's still reminiscent enough to pass as a good alternative of actually leaving the house to go to the arcade. The only real downside is that it has no power-siphoning abilities, and requires batteries to function. 4 of 'em, at that. Again, oh well. Time to take a look at the games.

Well, it's Pac-Man. Not a whole lot to say about that one. Other than it rules. You don't really need me to tell you about Pac-Man, do you? I mean, come on. Everyone has played Pac-Man. He's probably the second best-known video game "celebrity", losing first only to Mario. So yeah. I'm not describing Pac-Man. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Hooray for Dig-Dug. It's fun and repetitive like every other well-known arcade game out there, but this is the only one where you pump little animals full of air until they explode. And like the obscure NES game Banana, the music only plays while your character is in motion. So yes, basically you wander around under the soil trying to explode all the enemies and hoping that they don't maim and kill you. Just a tip if you're ever playing this game: the dragons' fire breath can go through the dirt! Attack from above or below to ensure your safety!

Now we reach the midway point. Galaxian. I'd heard of it, but never before played it. And as it stood, it seemed like a Space Invaders clone. Which would have been OK with me. But it's not. It's a hard Space Invaders clone. With enemies who swoop in to get you and shots that require perfect timing and placement to avoid, it's a real bitch to get past three levels of this one. Heck, making it to level three is an accomplishment in itself. But it's still great shoot-em-up action, so I'mma stop complaining.

Possibly the worst game magically implanted into this joystick machine, Rally-X really stinks up the joint. Galaxian may be tough, but this one is the spawn of some sort of twisted love between Satan and a video game machine. Yeesh. The goal is to drive around avoiding the other cars whilst grabbing the flags littered around the place. But the other cars are both faster than you and out to get you. it is impossible to outrun them, You may be able to confuse them with some quick turning, but usually it'll just get you killed faster. I hate Rally-X.

The second best title the joystick offers, Bosconian is a monument to space shooting games. You've got free control of your ship, unlike most space shooters, and you shoot from both the front and back of your ship, meaning you can kill stuff while running away! The object of the game is to blow up all the space stations and get to the next level. And you can do it in one of two ways. The longer is to shoot up all the pods surrounding the station, or you could wait for the core to open and give it a mortal blow right there. This is a very sweet game, and together with Pac-Man and Dig-Dug, totally justifies buying the joystick.

So that's that. but there were supposed to be two things reviewed is this article, right? Yes. I'm getting to that. Next up, is not quite as universally appealing as the joystick, and definitely more for really little kids or one who absolutely loves the host franchise. Guess which category I fall under. And with that alone, you know that it's going to be something to do with MegaMan. Though I guess the background kinda gave that one away.

Dun dun dun! I'll get it out into the open right now, the Advancet PET (PErsonal Terminal) is basically just a Tamagotchi mixed with some obscured gameplay from the MegaMan Battle Network series. You really have to love MegaMan to buy one of these (or as I stated before, real young), and moreso a fan of the Rockman.EXE/NT Warrior anime than any of the games. Me, I bought it mostly for the sake of having it and for aesthetic purposes. Thankfully, it's proven useful and has a built-in clock. This is good because I have a curse of breaking watches. I also like to pretend I'm Netto/Lan when nobody's around.

Ooh. Eez so preeetty. And it comes with three battlechips! Which will be useful if Capcom decides to release Rockman.EXE 4.5 and the BattleChip Gate outside of Japan. But things aren't moving too smoothly as of now, as far as I've heard. Seems like it's gonna be one of those things I'll never get my hands on because they're too damn lazy to reconfigure it for us North American folk. (See Battle Network 4's removed E-Reader support. Damn Capcom.) But moving on...

I was actually looking for the MegaMan and ProtoMan figures when I found this, having no idea that they'd actually gone through the trouble of making some for us over in the West. I'd heard of the PET toys on Rockman.EXE Online, but never heard anything about them coming overseas. Very much an impulse buy, I grabbed it without even thinking. Just look at how much fun those kids are having. It was an obvious choice. I wish they'd had the ProtoMan version too. And the worst part is that I still haven't found the action figures. There was only GutsMan there on the day I found this, and right now I really regret not picking him up too. Live and learn I guess.

Aw, how I want the ProtoMan version. Not that I don't like the MegaMan version, it's just that I want both. It sounds nuts, but you have to remember, I'm a huge MegaMan fanboy. And it's buying useless crap like this that makes me who I am, so I must! It's not that I still actually play with the toys anymore, it's just my thing that I collect. Like some people collect bottlecaps or coins or comic books, I collect video game paraphernalia. Particularly of the Mario or MegaMan varieties.

Glee! I was totally overexcited about the thing, and sort of still am. As you can see, it's a little bit smaller than the anime would lead one to believe. But still, I press on, knowing that I totally have a PET. No more pretending. And it doesn't do jack except tell me the time, but it makes me happy to see it laying about in my room. Ah. Well, I guess anyone reading this piece will definitely think I'm a little strange in the head.

Probably the coolest thing you can do with the PET is to open it up. You just kinda pull on the bottom and flip! there it is. It can be used to make people think you have a cool piece of technology, as long as they're a safe distance away and have no idea that you're actually playing with a toy intended for children aged 5 to 9. But it's still fun to flip it open. Why? I don't know. It's kind of like a Transformer. All the real fun is in making it change from a robot to a car. Playing with it is all well and good, but it's in the transforming that you get the most joy.

Holy smokes. For something so seemingly simple, you'd never expect to see so many instructions. And it's double-sided too. When I got it, I had no idea that it was a actually a little game you could play. I know I said it's kind of like a virtual pet, but it's just the very base of the idea. You see, MegaMan never craps or needs feeding. You just shake it around a little bit, activating a motion sensor, and you get into battles with viruses. Where they came from, I have no idea, but if the anime is to provide any answers, they wirelessly beamed themselves in, much as MegaMan would beam out to go into computer systems. Wow. To me this all makes sense, but you guys have probably never even seen an episode of MegaMan NT Warrior, nevermind Rockman.EXE Axess. So I guess I'll just stop running your brain in circles and explain the toy a little more.

So you start a battle, right. And then you have a choice. Either slot in a battle chip or just shoot with the buster. Above, you can see the three chips which came with the PET. There are tons out there, all packaged in with different figures. So you do that, and then it goes all Battle Network, where you have to blast the enemy that's moving around on a 3x3 grid. The battle chips' abilities are strikingly similar to their real game counterparts, but the enemies are a lot different. Most enemies have movement patterns in the GBA games, but here, they all just move about randomly, so it's harder to judge where you should aim for.

I'll just explain these battlechips so that you have a little better idea of what exactly they're for. This one here is the Sword. It's used exactly as you might imagine. In the BN games, it only affects one panel in front of Mega, as you might expect, and in the PET it can only be used to attack the first column. Of course, with such a limited attack range, it is a rather strong chip. Good for taking down weaker foes in a single hit.

Next is HeatShot, the fire-attributed version of the Shotgun chip. In the GBA games, if it hits a target, it causes damage to anything on the panel behind whatever was hit. In the PET, that's a useless feature (cause there's a max of one enemy at a time), so they just made it have a horizontal range of two panels. It's got a decent attack power, and being a fire chip, will do double damage to wood-type enemies. God it sounds like I'm writing a guide to battlechips or something.

Nerd express, last stop: Attack +10. In the GBA games, using this chip enhances the power of any chip selected before it. But with the PET, it simply makes your buster shot more powerful. That's all there is to it. I guess I'll also mention that after beating so many viruses, you get an "invite" to a "tournament", which consists of you having to defeat another Navi (the guys that live in the PETs), which is way too have with only three battlechips. You see, the buster is very weak, and there's no way you can win with only the chips included unless your enemy misses all the time. But if you do win, you move to level 2 and start it all over again. So much for "tournament".

And that's pretty much the extent of how the PET works. There's also a 2-player battle mode, but that's nothing special or worth writing more than a sentence about. It's not a very impressive toy to speak of, but I don't regret buying it. Like I said before, it was mainly for the sake of having it that I bought it, so no worry about lost money here. And that's the end of my show! DONK!

E-Mail: Mr_Hotshot64v2@hotmail.com