Toejam and Earl Officially Bringing Funky Back

Attention, Funkotronian aficionados: A fourth installment of the adventures of the beloved 90’s duo, Toejam and Earl, is officially in the works — or it will be in a month, assuming the Kickstarter campaign meets its fundraising goal by then.

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90’s underground comic-style promo art courtesy of Nathan Shorts, the team’s lead artist.

Greg Johnson, co-creator of Toejam and Earl and head of his indie team of four at Humanature Studios, has officially set plans into motion for the series’ next game, Toejam and Earl: Back in the Groove. According to the Kickstarter, the game will make use of mechanics popularized by the first and second games in the series — and thankfully, makes no mention of the third other than to say that the project won’t harken back to it.

“Will it be like game one or game two, you ask?  Well… (holding breath)… mainly like game one. We plan to go old school with this one. Fixed isometric camera, 2D sprites, simple controls, and an emphasis on coop [sic] play. It will also pull in some of the more beloved elements from game two… Things like the Jam Out, hidden presents, and buttons and coin meters. Maybe we’ll even be able to bring back the Hyperfunk Zone! … Don’t worry we won’t make you sick and confused with an over-the-shoulder POV camera like we had in game 3.”

In addition, the upcoming game will bring all new elements to the table, such as a 4-player co-op mode, randomly generated levels, character customization, and headwear that modifies the characters’ abilities — or “hats for stats,” as I’ve decided to call them. The project currently has plans for a PC release, but hopes to spread to other consoles once a foothold has been established.

Of course, all of this depends on the Kickstarter reaching its $400,000 goal by March 27th at 3:00 PM EST. Over $150k has been pledged so far, and some truly amazing incentives have me wishing I could throw caution to the wind and empty my bank account. If anyone out there pledges enough to get those TJ&E vinyl figures and for some reason doesn’t want them, my ever-collecting hands are always open.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not associated with Humanature Studios and do not own Toejam and Earl — nor does Sega, I learned over the course of researching this article. Toejam and Earl is entirely the property of its co-creators, Greg Johnson and Mark Voorsanger.

I am, however, calling dibs on “hats for stats.” C’mon, that’s catchy as hell.

Captain Novolin: Checking More Than Your Feet

Is there anything I should know before writing this article?

When it comes to gaming, few genres face more scorn than educational games. “Edutainment,” as it was often called in the 90’s, typically stuck to the style of a third grade textbook with a few bells and whistles (or a licensed character) attached — and as a result, most of them were either awkwardly hilarious or mind-numbingly boring. Part of the problem was the belief that young kids will be entertained by just about anything, which led to a lack of attention to quality.

And then, of course, there’s Captain Novolin.

Novolin-1

Released in 1992 by Raya Systems, Captain Novolin is a side-scrolling platformer with the relentless intention of teaching diabetic children to cope with their condition. It is, in my opinion, one of the purest incarnations of an educational game one could ask for. It’s wall-to-wall diabetes information at every turn, but also shows at least some interest in making the gameplay enjoyable by (poorly) mimicking other popular games of the time. In their quest to reach out to children facing a long future of needles and rigid diets, they managed to make one of the most spectacularly ill-conceived video games I’ve ever seen.

If you’ve never heard of this game before now, then it’s your lucky day. I recently decided to re-watch Diabetus’ infamous Let’s Play for the first time in years — and this time around, I tripped over something I’d never noticed before. If you can believe it, the diabetic man in spandex fighting giant alien snacks and divulging personal information to perfect strangers isn’t the weirdest element of this medical adventure.

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Obscure Observations: Catch of the Day

Well, it’s certainly been a while, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss this place. Between a much-needed foray back into creative writing and concerns over that-which-shall-not-be-named, the Nerdy Activities this site promises have been a bit quiet. Luckily, it’s not been for a lack of inspiration, and I have all sorts of stories and ideas I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys, starting with a tidbit I tripped over in an unlikely place.

Among the various gifts I received over the holidays, one category that saw a noteworthy influx was plushies — 9 new dolls in total, in fact (due largely to one friend getting me an entire collection of Pikmin). In lieu of simply jamming them into my existing nets and calling it a day, I figured it’d be wiser to start a new one. TO GOOGLE!

Honestly, there’s not a lot to say about searching for a toy hammock; they’re essentially all the same item and sometimes even share stock photos of gently cradling a dozen or so generic stuffed animals that nobody wants or has ever heard of. Perhaps it was due to this slack-jawed parade of blandness that something unusual managed to stand out when I checked out Target‘s online selection.

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Upon closer inspection of the center of the net…

banjokazooienet2Yyyyyep, that’s a Banjo-Kazooie plushie.

Considering that all I was interested in were prices, I’m still not sure how I even noticed this. It was an fascinating enough surprise, but even more astonishing was what the minimal amount of research I happened to put into the discovery uncovered. According to Video Game Memorabilia Museum, this particular doll was released back in 1998 to promote the original Banjo-Kazooie for the Nintendo 64. The entry lists this particular doll as “scarce,” and upon a quick search to verify this, I found a single doll on Amazon for $100 and one auction on eBay whose bids have already pushed it over $30.

The obvious question then becomes, how the hell did a 15+ year old super-rare doll end up in a generic toy hammock photo shoot? Obviously the plushies have to be supplied from somewhere, but where IS that? Did they just grab a bunch of dolls from a thrift store and didn’t realize what they had? Did someone bring in a bunch of old plushies from their kid’s toy box? Was someone on-staff a fellow gaming collector and sneaked in a gem from their private collection just for the laugh of an Easter egg?

Out of morbid curiosity, I decided to check the product reviews to see if any shenanigans had gone down; after all, not all companies go out of their way to state that the supplementary items shown with their product are not included with said product, and I could easily see some smartass complaining that their net didn’t come with a vintage Banjo-Kazooie plush. Unfortunately, it seems that the two people who’ve actually bothered to leave reviews either didn’t see it, didn’t know what it was, or don’t have anywhere near as lame of a sense of humor as I do.

However the doll got there, I suppose we’ll never know if it was put there on purpose. I’m still not sure if it’s funnier if they knew or didn’t know, so I’ll leave that for you guys to decide.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I do not own or have any affiliation with Banjo-Kazooie, Target, eBay, or Amazon. I don’t even own the net this article is focused on, let alone the dolls inside of it.

I do, however, own Pikmin. In the plushie sense, that is, not the licensing way.

Humble Store offers Metro 2033 Free for 24 Hours

Humble Store has officially turned a year old! If there’s one thing we all know about first birthdays, it’s that they’re pointless and no one ever remembers them– Er, I mean, that the gifts are usually more entertaining for the attendees rather than the birthday kid. As part of its birthday celebration, Humble Store has acknowledged this trend and is offering some gifts for their customers — including a free copy of Metro 2033.

metro2033

The massive sales discounts — ranging form 40-85% off — will last all weekend, but the free Metro download is only for 24 hours. Get in there and download it by 10 AM PDT tomorrow morning, and if you have a few bucks to spare, take advantage of some of the deals while you’re at it. 10% of every Humble sale goes to charities such as Child’s Play and The American Red Cross.

To review: The Humble Store 1st Birthday celebration sales end Tuesday (11/11/14) at 10 AM PDT. Metro 2033 will only be available for free through 11/8/14 at 10 AM PDT, and the steam keys must be redeemed by 11/21/14 10AM PDT.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not an affiliate of the Humble Bundle website or any of the charities it affiliates with. If anything I would’ve put a free download on the 11th too, as that’s my mom’s birthday, and she actually has a Steam account.

Halloween Special: Playing with Dolls

Today is Halloween! Those of you that were here last year might recall that I celebrated by discussing a spoopy spooky head canon concerning the game Sonic & Knuckles. Since this series has been a hobby of mine for well over three quarters of my life now, I have no shortage of head canons to talk about, and today we’re going to explore the one you’ve all been waiting for. The one that every Sonic fan mentions at least once every October.

Oh yes, my friends. Today, we’re going to discuss the infamous Tails doll, and what exactly makes it tick.

TailsDoll-1

Treat it like a weeping angel: Don’t blink.

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Dragon Age: Origins free on Origin through 10/14/14

Attention, Steam users: Today might be the day you stop making fun of Origin and grab an account. For the next five days, EA is offering the game Dragon Age: Origins for free. Not a demo, not a free trial; it’s simply ‘On the House’ — and once it’s added to your user library, it’s yours forever. If you didn’t already have it but were always interested in giving it a shot, today might just be your day.

DragonAge-Origin

The free download does not include any of the game’s DLC, but after not spending $20 for it, at least the extras will be more affordable.

If medieval RPGs aren’t your thing… Well, Bejeweled 3 is also On the House at the moment, and that’s about as far away from Dragon Age as you can get. Then again there is that whole thing about dragons hoarding treasure, so maybe they’re not as disparate as they appear.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not affiliated with EA or Origin in any way, but I’ll elbow an old granny out of the way to take credit for the graphic I made for this news post. What can I say, I love a bad pun, and this is a bad visual pun.

ThinkGeek partners with major gaming stores, celebrates with $10 coupon

As if ThinkGeek wasn’t the Tom Nook of nerdy online shopping already, today the web-based merchandise company announced a partnership with several gaming publishers’ official stores, including Bethesda, Eidos, Bioware, and Gearbox. The deal also includes the official web stores of Tomb Raider, Plants vs. Zombies, and Forza Motorsport.

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If I had all of ThinkGeek’s money to spend on this sale, I’d be smiling too.

What does this mean to you? Glad you asked!

From now until 11:59pm ET 9/29/14, all of these newly allied stores will accept the coupon code “TIMMY” for $10 off an order of $20 or more. The code can be used as many times as you want, at as many of the partnered sites as you’d like, so now may be a great time to get in some early holiday shopping. The only exceptions to the promotion are pre-sale items, deposit items, and Bethesda’s discounted hoodies.

This coupon only works at the partnered sites, not at ThinkGeek itself.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not an employee of ThinkGeek or any of their new affiliates. I’m just a poor blogger that lets them suck money out of me like some sort of financial vampire.

Nintendo announces early SSB4 demo access for select Club Nintendo members

In another example of Club Nintendo getting it right, members who’ve actually shilled out enough money to have become platinum-level members for 2014 have a chance of playing the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros 3DS a week before anyone else.

SSB4demo

While there’s no guarantee that any given platinum member will snag the coveted access, those that do get the e-mail will receive four separate demo codes. If you have a buddy that’s already reached platinum status this year, now would be a good time to remind him or her of all the times you gave them a ride or bought them a taco. A demo code is always an acceptable way to pay back a taco bill.

Personally, I think Nintendo should be giving these early access codes to all platinum CN members. In order to reach platinum status, a member has to earn 600 coins in a CN-calendar year. Most games — new games, that is — net 20-50 coins, depending on platform and age; consoles net 100 or so. The CN calendar begins July 1st. It is now September 12th, aka roughly 2½ months into the CN-calendar. That means that, unless they picked up some codes on eBay already, these members have already spent hundreds of dollars on hardware and software.

If that’s not automatically worthy of early access to a demo, I don’t know what is.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not affiliated with Nintendo in any official way, and my only affiliation with Club Nintendo is just as a rewards member. Sadly, I am not a platinum member by a long shot (I think my account currently has like 20 coins).

Club Nintendo offers free 2-disc soundtrack for registering both versions of SSB

Are you the type of gamer that will buy multiple copies of the same game on different platforms, much to the bemusement of your peers? Well if you maintain the habit with the upcoming Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS, you’ll at least get a reward this time.

SSBCDs

No details have been added yet to indicate a deadline for registration (especially since the Wii U version still doesn’t have a specific release date), but the website promises more information is soon to follow. For now, you can head over to the promotion site to listen to samples of the included music while you put both copies of the game on your holiday gift list.

Remember, kids: If your parents balk at buying the same game twice, just tell them you’ll be getting a third present from Santa Iwata, too!

santaiwata

Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll know what that means.

Obligatory Legal Crap

I am not an employee of Nintendo or in any way affiliated with Club Nintendo. If I was I probably could’ve gotten a better image of the CD than just taking a screenshot of the website.

Wizards and Warriors: The Turmoil of Geoffrey St. John

SO, anyone out there excited about the upcoming release of Lost Hedgehog Tales? Who am I kidding, of course you are! This blog turns up in LHT search results at least once or twice a week, and I doubt it’s due to Ken Penders gnashing his teeth. At this point, I think we’re all in a tizzy over the unofficial sort-of-a-book due to another teaser tweet last month, courtesy of Archie’s lead Sonic the Hedgehog writer, Ian Flynn

Geoffrey-1

Well, my friends, August is drawing to a close, which means we could see a release any day now! In light of the impending euphoria, I’ve decided to share some thoughts I’ve waxed upon with regard to a particular character. This isn’t the same as my comic page investigation; it’s merely the personal hunch I always had while reading the pre-reboot (preboot?) Sonic comics.

One character that has never failed to hold my attention under Flynn’s pen is Geoffrey St. John. After having abandoned the comics over a decade before, I got back into them purely because I was fascinated by the sudden developments surrounding this skunk and wanted to know more about where he was going. Once a particularly bland and frequently unlikable character, Geoffrey managed to gain a significant foothold in the preboot story with his unexpected alliance swap. Despite having spent the history of the comics as one of the kingdom’s highest-ranking soldiers, Geoffrey shocked everyone with the revelation that he had been training in wizardry all along — under none other than Ixis Naugus, one of the most powerful villains of the entire series.

Geoffrey-2

Had Geoffrey really abandoned his former allies in their darkest hour? Was he ever really an ally to begin with? For someone that had always been mercilessly anal retentive about procedure, justice, and fulfilling his duties, how could he pull the rug out from under so many people like this? Didn’t it go against everything he’d ever stood for?

Actually, none of those are the real question. Those queries can be answered by figuring out an even bigger mystery: What really happened to Hershey St. John?

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