Category Archives: Reissue

GIMMGP Jack O’ Lanterns IV: SO MANY PUMPKINS

After weeks of gorging on spooky video games and consuming mass quantities of Autumnal foods, the day is finally here- Halloween has arrived!  Of course, our favorite time of year wouldn’t be complete without a video game themed jack o’ lantern haunting our doorstep.

This year, Laura and I have chosen an upcoming title for which we are particularly excited as the subject of our pumpkin carving.  As a special treat, we thought a look back at the Ghosts of Pumpkins Past™ would make for a frighteningly fun addition to the usual festivities.  So please enjoy GIMMGP’s Gallery of Gourds, and as with every year, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

2012: Pokemon Pumpkins- Gengar and Pikachu

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2013: Pokemon Pumpkins – Axew and Wobbuffet

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2014: Gaming Pumpkins – Bayonetta 2 Panther/Snake and Shy Guy

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2016: Gaming Pumpkin – Persona 5’s Morgana

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The Horror in Brevity

Many moons ago, reddit users were asked to come up with horror stories that are only two sentences long.  Many of the tales spawned from this request are quite creepy and leave a lingering unease, in spite of their length.  The most effective of these stories play on universal human fears and utilize the reader’s ability to extrapolate the narrative even further.  Due to their nature, these two-sentence musings provide few details as to the setting or the characters involved.  There is no time to explain or to build the surmounting terror; the reader is thrust into a story in motion at the climax of a bad situation.  As I read through these very short stories, I wondered: could a video game scare players under similar constraints?

When gamers make a list of the best survival horror titles, the featured games often have one trait in common: an atmosphere of dread.  From small towns infested with monsters to remote space stations that may not be as empty as they seem, these settings are crafted to put the player on edge.  So much work goes into the ambient sound and visuals of each area, so the player does not need a bulky narrative to explain why he/she should be frightened.

Despite this effort, the developers of such titles take the time to build a complex story.  The best of these games make use of both setting and story to create an engaging game, while the worst of them clutter a potentially chilling experience with unnecessary areas and exposition.  Across the board, these games follow the traditional three-part mold of a feature-length film.  It’s almost as if a horror game has to contain certain story elements and have a lengthy playtime to be a success.

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Enter Sepulchre; a point-and-click PC game from Owl Cave.  From the developers’ website: “It’s a game featuring horror, trains, and huge bags.  It should take most people around half an hour to play through.”  A perfect example of truth in advertising, Sepulchre took roughly forty minutes to complete, during which time I took control of a passenger on a train, eager for a bite to eat.  Like the two-sentence short stories, this game does not require much set-up to cause a sense of dread.  The lack of information, along with striking visuals and sound, created a foreboding atmosphere that lingered long after completion.  It seems a video game can incite fear under heavy constraints.

If you are looking for a short jaunt into an ominous world not so unlike your own, please check out Sepulchre.  Your time together may be brief, but the horror will last a lifetime.

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Ghost Pokémon

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Nearly 18 years ago today, my brother and I set out to be the very best, like no one ever was.  Catching Pocket Monsters was our first real test, but to train them, aye, that was our cause.  Pokémon had hit the shelves not a week prior, and our parents graciously gifted both versions of the Game Boy classic to us.  My brother received Pokémon Blue, and became a great trainer of water-types, with a stately Blastoise at the helm of his troop.  I was given Pokémon Red, but I did not find my true calling in this game until I ventured into the tower at Lavender Town.  It was at this resting place for fallen Pokémon that I would catch my first Gastly, which cemented my destiny as a ghost-type trainer.

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With each new journey into the world of Pokémon, Nintendo would increase the number of ghost-types to catch and raise.  As a young trainer, I delighted with each new phantom that became available; marveling over the new designs and attacks.  But once I grew older, I started to notice that my beloved ghost-types harbored a much darker nature.  With just a quick glance through my trusty Pokédex, I found stories of hauntings and torment; tales of restless spirits that prey on the souls of the living.  Just take a look at some of these examples below!

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Haunter: Its tongue is made of gas. If licked, its victim starts shaking constantly until death eventually comes. In total darkness, where nothing is visible, Haunter lurks, silently stalking its next victim.

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Gengar: To steal the life of its target, it slips into the prey’s shadow and silently waits for an opportunity. The leer that floats in darkness belongs to a Gengar delighting in casting curses on people.

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Misdreavus: A Misdreavus frightens people with a creepy, sobbing cry. It apparently uses its red spheres to absorb the fear of foes as its nutrition. It likes playing mischievous tricks such as screaming and wailing to startle people at night.

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Litwick: Litwick shines a light that absorbs the life energy of people and Pokémon, which becomes the fuel that it burns. While shining a light and pretending to be a guide, it leeches off the life force of any who follow it.

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Banette: A doll that became a Pokémon over its grudge from being junked. It seeks the child that disowned it. Banette generates energy for laying strong curses by sticking pins into its own body. This Pokémon was originally a pitiful plush doll that was thrown away.

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Duskull: Duskull wanders lost among the deep darkness of midnight. There is an oft-told admonishment given to misbehaving children that this Pokémon will spirit away bad children who earn scoldings from their mothers. It loves the crying of children. It startles bad kids by passing through walls and making them cry. Once this Pokémon chooses a target, it will pursue the intended victim until the break of dawn.

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Mimikyu: This Pokémon lives its life completely covered by its cloth and is always hidden. People believe that anybody who sees its true form beneath the cloth will be stricken with a mysterious illness. This Pokémon is dreadfully lonely, and it thought it would be able to make friends with humans, if only it looked like Pikachu.

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*Brrrr* That is some creepy stuff!  Little did I know that the most tragic and gruesome tale of all would lie with a normal-type Pokémon.  I am speaking of none other than Cubone, the sad little creature who wears the skull of its dead mother.  When it thinks of its mother, it cries, making the skull it wears rattle with a hollow sound.  Now, when you first look at this little monster, you may feel sorry for it and want to take it home to be your friend.  But put that situation in human terms, and the mood completely changes.  After all, would you be friends with someone who wears their mom’s skull as a hat?  I didn’t think so.

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The Night Warriors

There was a time when I regularly wrote about comic book adaptations of video games over at the Geek Force Network.  While that time has come and gone, you can still enjoy the numerous articles I penned about such media crossovers at the archives.  Here is one such post from those halcyon days, just in time for the spooky October season.


It’s that time of year once more; when the barrier between the natural and supernatural is at its weakest and little ghouls haunt the streets in search of sugary treats.  For this week’s video game comic column, it only makes sense to venture into the darker side of the printed page.  There is a rather massive subgenre of horror comics, and its tentacles stretch far into the video game world.  So let’s dive into a realm where monsters do battle in rounds of two, until only the strongest survives.

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It was back in November of 2004 that Udon Entertainment debuted their Darkstalkers comic series.  At this time, Udon was releasing their work through Devil’s Due Publishing, which included a Street Fighter comic series that launched in 2003.  The Darkstalkers comic ran for six issues, until it abruptly stopped in April of 2005.  In October of the same year, the chief of operations Eric Ko, announced that Udon had become a full-fledged publisher and its lengthy hiatus was due to producing material for the video game Capcom Fighting Evolution.  Since that time, Udon has grown into a massive comic book and video game powerhouse, producing several comic series, art books, and work for video games such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and New International Track and Field.

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For the Darkstalkers comic, Udon had plenty of interesting characters and settings from which to source fresh story material.  This is especially true, since most fighting games have very few details outside of “some people got together to fight in an arbitrary battle tournament held by a mysterious benefactor.”  For example, this story comes straight from the Darkstalkers instruction manual:

“When the sun sets and humanity retreats to the imagined safety of their beds, a mysterious entity appears in the sky to assemble the wicked and the evil. The unimaginable secret power of the dark is unleashed! Ten supernatural beings of destruction have materialized to wage their eternal war for the domination of the night. The Vampire, the Mummy, Frankenstein, Bigfoot. . . their very names conjure fear. But who or what has summoned them? These creatures of myth and legend, the Darkstalkers, have gathered for what is destined to be the greatest battle ever. And the fate of all humanity rests on who wins the epic struggle. The Darkstalkers are coming. . .tonight!”

From this rather bare bones plot, Udon crafted a solid story about the various machinations of the Darkstalkers who hide in the dark corners of the Earth.  In this six issue series, the conflicts between certain characters take center stage, while the sideline characters are left as mere window dressing.  So while Dimitri and Morrigan prepare for an eventual battle of the ages, Rikuo and Lord Raptor only show up briefly in side stories and single panel shots.  Every issue features plenty of great fighting scenes, complete with signature moves and plenty of nods to the fans of the video games.  There is also loads of background on many of the major characters, including several side stories that flesh out their motivations even further.

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As with most of the comics from Udon Entertainment, the artwork really shines.  The horror themes of the video games allowed the artists to include plenty of heavy contrast and shadows, which really lend to the atmosphere of the comics.  The characters remain in the anime-inspired style of the fighting games, but with more vibrant colors and further detail for better expressions.  In spite of the show-stealing appeal of the characters, the backgrounds have not been overlooked.  There is plenty of detail in the settings of each scene, with some panels exclusively dedicated to moody environmental shots.

Besides the solid story work and gorgeous art, my favorite part of Darkstalkers comes at the end of each issue.  A single page is always dedicated to a gag comic called Darkstalkers Mini.  The fun work of Corey Lewis (pseudonym, Rey), these quick strips feature super-deformed versions of the fighters in silly situations, most of which end with goofy punch-lines.  Unfortunately, when Udon collected the comics into a trade paperback, all of these side stories got the boot.  On the plus side, that has made the individual issues of the comic unique to the trade version, so be sure to track these gems down!

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At the end of the first issue of Darkstalkers (right before the Mini comic), there is a writers’ commentary aptly titled, “From the Darkside.”  On this page, some of the staff from Udon spill their guts about the joy they felt in creating the Darkstalkers comic books.  There is talk of the great chance to write a darker story than the usual Street Fighter comics, along with their mutual love of horror films and fighting games.  At the very end, the colorist, Gary Yeung, says that the goal at Udon was to “make a faithful interpretation of Darkstalkers from a game/animation into a book.”  Through action-packed stories and striking artwork, all wrapped up in a spooky atmosphere, it seems like Udon met their goal quite nicely.

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Reviving the Living Dead: Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse

It’s a rare video game that will let you take control of a zombie.  Most of the time, players are limited to competitive shooters where it’s humans versus the undead (Go Team Zombie!) or in action games via a sort of temporary “extra life” as a shambling corpse(read: SO SLOW).  There have been a few games with undead protagonists like the mummy Chuck D. Head in DecapAttack or the ghoulish Polterguy in Haunting, but these examples are not really “zombie” games, strictly speaking.  You don’t exactly lead Polterguy to devour brains or guide Chuck to create a legion of creeping creatures.  That’s the sort of thing you leave to Stubbs the Zombie.

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Rebel Without a Pulse hit store shelves in 2005, during the appropriate month of October.  The titular Stubbs the Zombie was once Edward Stubblefield, a traveling salesman who met his untimely demise from a gunshot, courtesy of his gal Maggie’s father.  After collapsing in the woods in 1933, Stubbs is reanimated in 1959, at the grand opening of Punchbowl, Pennsylvania.  Angered at the venture capitalist who disturbed his eternal rest, Stubbs decides to hunt the wealthy playboy and cause quite a bit of carnage along the way.  What follows is a comedic and creepy quest through a sort of retro-future metropolis; the “city of tomorrow” that might have been seen in 1950s science fiction.

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Most of the game is spent trailing industrialist Andrew Monday through the city of Punchbowl.  As Stubbs, players can attack the citizens of Punchbowl, eating their brains and creating a group of zombie comrades that devour right alongside you.  Stubbs has some additional actions, most of which involve tearing off his own arm to beat enemies, activate switches, and take control of better-armed adversaries for some shooter options.  There were also plenty of vehicles to commandeer and drive recklessly through the perfectly polished pathways of Punchbowl.

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For my college self, the gameplay and visuals in Stubbs the Zombie felt like second nature, since the game was developed using the Halo engine.  As an avid Halo 2 junkie, the co-op campaign and Xbox controls made the transition from space marine to dopey zombie salesman rather seamless.  My friends and I would switch off between stages, playing as a pair of zombies on a mission of revenge (and eating tasty, tasty brains).  As we shambled through Punchbowl, a fantastic soundtrack of 50s and 60s era hits covered by modern alternative rock artists kept us bouncing in our seats.  The whole game was a delightful tribute to the goofy-spooky horror movies of the past.

Just like the previous title in our zombie game round-up, Stubbs the Zombie is a tough title to track down.  Our zombie friend was briefly ported to the Xbox 360 as an “Xbox Original” download, but the game was removed from the Marketplace in 2012.  There are still original Xbox, PC, and Mac hard copies floating around the internet, but an appropriately retro system is required to play any of these versions.  Since the developer, Wideload Games, was purchased and closed by Disney Interactive, it is unlikely that Stubbs will rise again on any modern offerings.

Even for the heady price that most of the original Xbox copies are calling for, Stubbs the Zombie is worth checking out.  It is a hilarious and gory co-op romp through a quirky science fiction setting.  There is a lot of fun to be had and brains to be eaten, so shamble forth with a friend and help Stubbs find his fate!

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MAGFest: Then and Now (and Now Again)

After three long years, GIMMGP is finally returning to MAGFest!  We had a fantastic time playing a pile of rhythm games and watching the Protomen perform at our last visit.  This year, Chip is looking forward to seeing all sorts of amazing video game composers in their element: a huge celebration of video games and music.

As we prepare to head out to the convention center, let’s take a look back to January 2012, when Chip and his good friend Jeremy attended the tenth anniversary of the festival that started in their little hometown of Roanoke.


About ten years ago, my friends and I began frequenting a local video game store called Captain Gamestation.  The selection was rather eclectic: a couple of bins of used games, accessory odds and ends, a pile of EGM and Nintendo Power issues from years gone by, and (oddly enough) some rare Turbo Grafx-16 pieces.  Most of these items came from the personal collection of the owner of the store, Joe Yamine.

Joe was an intelligent twenty-something who had a snarky attitude and a ponytail (both of which contributed to his overall coolness).  As gamers who were just out of high school and pretty jaded with the world, Captain Gamestation was the place to be.  We would drop by the store after our summer jobs and just shoot the breeze with Joe, all while looking for any rare finds he had come across and put up for sale.  Then one day, he mentioned that he was trying to get the Minibosses to come and play a show on the east coast, and that maybe this could become a sort of Mid-Atlantic Gaming festival for our small town.  A MAGFest, if you will.

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All of us thought this was a great idea, but we were young, and such an idea could never come true.  I mean, the only idea of a video game convention that we had was E3; that joyful world of new technology which seemed like a fairy tale that EGM told from time to time.  So how in the world could we have a video game festival in our town, much less one that would be cool enough to have the Minibosses play at it?  Well, somehow Joe and his friends pulled it off, and very soon, we were promoting this little game festival throughout the city of Roanoke.

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Since that fateful day, my friends and I have attended three more of the iterations of MAGFest (the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th versions), each of which were fun in their own way (save for the 3rd, which was a bit rough).  But none have compared to the joy we found in the first festival.  This year, my buddy Jeremy and I decided to join in the festivities at the Gaylord Hotel in Maryland for the tenth MAGFest.  As we journey down MAGFest memory lane, you will find that the top pictures are from that first festival, almost ten years ago in September of 2002, while the bottom are from MAGFest of this year, in January of 2012.  Hence why my good friend Jeremy looks much more refined (read: older) in the second set of photos.

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Here we have Jeremy in front of the sign of the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke and standing before the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland.  Quite a change in just ten years for the little festival!  We are still not sure why the sign at the Holiday Inn welcomed the Woodmen of the World.  The average person would assume that there was an outdoorsmen convention at the same time.  We just assumed the hotel really liked Mega Man 2.

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When we arrived at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood, the festival was in full swing.  One of the ballrooms at the hotel had several banquet tables set up with rented televisions and donated video game consoles of many different varieties.  People were encouraged to bring some of their own equipment from home, so that there would be enough gaming to go around. Overall, the competition was friendly, and the wait for each game wasn’t too bad.  The highlights of those days were the original Halo and Super Smash Brothers Melee.  As for this past gathering, Jeremy and I arrived as they were setting up the MASSIVE main gaming room, which also served as the Dealers’ Hall, LAN Party Area, and the Tabletop Gaming Room.

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Here we have the orignal LAN Party Area in its entirety.  All the computers were donated, and only a few official tournaments actually happened (I recall Quake 3 and Counterstrike).  In the second photo, the significantly larger LAN Party Area is towards the back of the photo, and the table of tabletop games (ha!) in the foreground.  This year, any person could walk up and rent a board game to play with their friends.  Everything from Settlers of Catan to Clue to Snakes and Ladders were ready to be set up and enjoyed.  A nice touch, indeed.

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Good gravy, the arcade corner certainly has grown!  From the meager two arcade cabinets of Ghouls N’ Ghosts and Pac-Land, to dozens and dozens of machines!  The arcade corner at MAGFest 10 was rather impressive, with a combination of vintage titles, import rhythm games, and tons of home consoles rigged up to arcade machines.  Jeremy and I even played Ehrgeiz as an arcade game (which did little to change how odd that game is).

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During the first MAGFest, we took a little break and dropped by our parents’ house for some lunch (which was both delicious and free).  When we made our way back across the hotel parking lot, we noticed this magnificent truck.  Someone had done a very custom (read: spray paint) job on their truck, making it a vehicle covered in video games.  Each portion of the truck had different stuff on it, adding to its… uniqueness.  At MAGFest 10, another video game themed car was on display.  While the Pikachu Bug had a more uniform theme, it just seemed to lack the individuality of the original MAGFest Truck.

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Poor little Lulu.  She was the sole cosplayer at the first MAGFest.  Can you imagine that?  Of the roughly 275 people who attended the original convention, there was only one person to endure the constant harassment and photo-taking of the crowd.  This year, Jeremy and I kept a tally of cosplayers throughout the course of the day, which came out to 31 people in costume.  Here we have one of the better cosplay: a couple who came as Scorpion (with sky blue contact lenses!) and Jill Valentine.  What’s this? A Carl Winslow cosplayer is seated right next to them!  I guess that bumps the count to 32.

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Most conventions will feature several discussion panels, which will give insight into a business or industry, or allow the attendees to meet and speak with high profile celebrities and associates.  Back in 2002, MAGFest hosted a single panel on the topic of video game rock music.  It featured the Minibosses and a band known as Everyone, and it was pretty laid back and awesome.  This year, there were panels going on in five different halls throughout the course of the festival, but the only one we were interested in was the MAGFest Origins Panel.  From right to left, this panel was hosted by two of the original coordinators of MAGFest- Pernell and Rez, along with Joe Yamine and his younger brother, and two of the members of the Minibosses.  The main topic was how MAGFest began, where the idea and inspiration came from, and lots of reminiscing about video games.  I believe Joe is trying to get a video of the panel posted, and I will repost here if he is successful.

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The very euphoric highlight of the first MAGFest was the concert on Saturday night.  We were all excited to see the Minibosses play, but we were also floored by the other two bands who performed: Everyone (hence the giant “E” in the photo) and the One Up Mushrooms.  Everyone went on first, and was made up of three talented guys (two of whom were twin brothers) playing smooth electronic/rock covers of music from titles like River City Ransom and Silent Hill 2.  The One Up Mushrooms (now known as The OneUps)were an amazing video game jazz/rock band that focused on Super Nintendo classics like Mario Kart and Chrono Trigger.  The Minibosses were the headliner of the night (and the festival, I suppose) and they played a fantastic set of video game rock medleys from the early Nintendo days, featuring games like Metroid, Castlevania, and Contra.  At MAGFest 10, the Minibosses played a concert earlier in the morning (10AM!) on the “second stage” concert set-up.  I am very pleased to report that the Minibosses still rock so damn hard, even at such an early hour of the morning. (Note: We unfortunately had to miss the later concerts, sorry for the lack of coverage.  But really, who cares?  We still saw the Minibosses play).

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Finally, we leave you with a random picture of awesomeness from each convention.  In the first photo, we have a picture of the four of us (well, poor Christian is kind of there, behind my brother) with the Minibosses and Virt after their amazing concert.  On the second image, we have a shot from the Dealer’s Hall, featuring some interesting robot sculptures made out of video game consoles and accessories.

It’s a bit strange to look back at these photos from ten years ago; to see how much things have changed.  MAGFest has gone from a small gathering of concentrated awesome to a gigantic festival, brimming with fantastic things to do.  But even though the venue is bigger, and the amount of stuff to do has multiplied, the core value of the original  festival is still there: get a bunch of people together, play video games, see some solid concerts, and have a great time.  I guess the same could be said about us, though.  No matter how far apart we may be, or how much we grow, my friends and I still value the time we spend playing video games with each other, and always have fun when we’re together.

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Great Gifts for Gamers: 8-Bit Jesus

Every family has their holiday music traditions. Many families enjoy hearing the original Alvin and the Chipmunks (not the computer animated abominations of today) sing joyful little ballads with their surrogate father, Dave.  At my parents’ house, John Denver and The Muppets: Christmas Together is a yearly staple. Every department store in America is playing some sort of pop music amalgam of seasonal messages. Truly, the sounds of Christmas are in the air no matter where you go.

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So as you are deciding what music to play as you decorate, wrap, and basically eat yourself into a stupor, may I suggest 8-Bit Jesus for your holiday gatherings?

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A fun interpretation of classic carols, 8-Bit Jesus is an album of Christmas songs which have been arranged in the style of excellent games from the early days of Nintendo. Doctor Octoroc (the creator of this wonderful mix) has done a great job putting a digital twist on these songs, with my favorites being “Carol of the Belmonts,” and “Have Yourself a Final Little Fantasy.”  There is a preview of the album on his website, so you can hear just how awesome it is before you decide to purchase the music for your friends and family.  So if you are looking for a nice video game twist to add to your holidays, check out this album!

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Great Gifts for Gamers: Video Game Collages

It can be rather difficult to find ideal gifts for your friends and family who play video games during the holiday season.  Sure, there are plenty of overpriced trinkets and novelty t-shirts available on store shelves, but so many of these items are nothing more than mass-produced clutter.  They lack the love and care of a gift that is tailored to a loved one’s personality.

For those of you who are looking to create an amazing gift for those who game, we here at GIMMGP have an excellent suggestion and how-to article from December 2011.


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My friend Grant is a bit of a genius. A few years ago, he found himself in a predicament many 20-somethings do: you have a bunch of awesome friends, Christmas is around the corner, and the economy is in a bit of turmoil. Undeterred by this quandry, he came up with a novel gift idea, as well as a way to productively utilize his old video game magazines: turn them into gorgeous video game collages.

Collage BannerFirst, he went about the task of harvesting useful images and screenshots from most of the magazines he owns. Many of you may take issue (hah!) with mutilating your magazine collection.  But let’s be honest: the classic articles are only good for reminiscing, while most modern magazines are only good for toilet reading. Take some scissors to that pile and recycle the rest.

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Once he had a sufficient amount of material (several folders worth), Grant used scrapbooking and double-sided tape to apply these cutouts to posterboard in very artistic and methodic fashions. As you can see from these photos, there is true love in these creations. Every collage he made had different characters and screens depending on the receipient of the gift. He did this for SEVERAL of our friends. Each one is unique and equally fantastic.

Collage4Since receiving such a great gift, I have shredded several of my own magazines to craft little collages for friends and relatives, and I encourage you to do the same. Trust me, your friends will appreciate the gift, and your significant others will be glad to have more closet space now that the boxes of EGM are put to better use.

 

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GIMMGP Pumpkins Return In: Anger of the Gourds

On the very first year of this blog, Chip and Laura compiled a list of pumpkins that appear in video games.  Keeping in the tradition of so many horror movie franchises, GIMMGP has decided to release a remastered post, now with 30% more spooky squash!  We hope you enjoy this gathering of gourds in gaming.

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We can start with the NES oddity, Monster Party!  In the first level of the game, our hero Mark comes across a pumpkin-headed ghost who spits smaller pumpkins from its mouth.  Even more odd is the fact that this boss was originally an ape-man riding on horseback.  Since it was a bit risky to feature such a blatant parody of Planet of the Apes, the simian rider was replaced with a pumpkin ghost.  You can read all about the various changes to Monster Party at The Cutting Room Floor.

SMLPumpkinZoneSuper Mario Land 2 featured good ol’ Mario traveling to six different worlds to retrieve coins which will open a door to the palace where his Princess Daisy is being held.  One of these areas is the Pumpkin Zone, which is filled with spirits, slashers, and a wicked witch as the final boss.

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Thanks to the efforts of Disney and Hot Topic, The Nightmare Before Christmas saw quite a revival during the early 2000s.  Along with piles of other merchandise flooding stores, a pair of video games was released in 2005.  While there were plenty of pumpkin decorations and sprites in the Game Boy Advance title, it was the PlayStation 2/Xbox game The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie’s Revenge that allowed players to take control of The Pumpkin King.  Developed by Capcom, this game featured combat similar to Devil May Cry, where players could switch between different forms for Jack Skellington: Santa Jack (who battles with booby-trap presents) and The Pumpkin King (who sets his foes aflame with lantern magic).

MM7PumpkinEven robot pumpkins exist!  A mid-boss in Mega Man 7, this cyber-pumpkin (adorably known as Van Pookin) has three gourd-geous layers that protect a tiny seed-spitting pumpkin robot core.  A fun secret in this level, if you only shoot the eyes on the outside of the pumpkin, he will bust through the floor, allowing Mega Man to face his brother, Proto Man.

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Mega Man isn’t the only robot fighting mechanical pumpkins.  The 1993 arcade game Ninja Baseball Bat Man features a variety of odd robot ninjas, including some pumpkin-headed foes.  Although this game was extremely popular in Japan during its initial release, Ninja Baseball Bat Man had a rather limited run in North America.  Since then, this strange and wonderful beat ’em up has become a cult hit in emulation circles.

OgreBattlePumpkinOgre Battle was an interesting strategy game for the Super Nintendo.  One of the bosses you fought was the witch Deneb, who commanded pumpkin-men to do her bidding.  After defeating her, Deneb would offer to join your party, providing you with the ability to produce pumpkin soldiers who would gladly throw their gourds at your command.

FFIXPumpkinA bit of a tribute to the attack of the pumpkin-men from Ogre Battle, Quina, the blue mage/weird clown maid in Final Fantasy IX, could learn the attack Pumpkin Head.  This attack was rather strong, but very risky, as the damage it would inflict was equal to the difference in your max health versus your current health.

PersonaPumpkinContinuing with the pumpkins in role-playing games theme, the developers over at Atlus have featured the character of Pyro Jack in several of their series.  This little spectre has shown up in the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei games as an enemy who can be convinced to join your team as a fire-based familiar.  Pyro Jack also starred in his own title…

JackBrosPumpkin

Jack Brothers on the now (very) defunct Virtual Boy gaming system!  Three goblin brothers Jack Lantern, Jack Frost, and Jack Skelton had to conquer several puzzle based levels on Halloween Night.

SMPumpkinSilhouette Mirage was an obscure Sony PlayStation title from Treasure Games.  In this game, the heroine Shyna has to shoot her way through two equally dangerous races, the Silhouettes and Mirages, with the basic enemy for the Silhouettes being little green pumpkin men.  Like so many other Treasure titles, Silhouette Mirage is cute, fun, and deceptively difficult.

LoMPumpkinThere are several pumpkins to be had in the wonderful PlayStation action-RPG Legend of Mana!  One of the missions in the game culminates with a battle against an evil little doppleganger witch in an enchanted pumpkin patch.  A victory in this fight unlocks a new piece of produce to cultivate in your garden in the game: the Bumpkin!

ZeldaPumpkinHead

Even Link has faced his share of orange gourds.  The boss Pumpkin Head appeared in Oracle of Ages for the Game Boy Color.  Link would have to knock his gourd off and then throw the pumpkin at the dungeon walls to smash this poor creature’s head.

ZeldaPumpkinNot all pumpkins in the Zelda series are sinister.  In Twilight Princess for the Wii, Link collects an Ordon Pumpkin as an ingredient for a very tasty looking pumpkin soup.  Be warned, this soup is prepared by a yeti, so expect some stray hairs in the broth.

EBTrickorTreatKid

When Ness and Paula enter the cursed town of Threed, they are accosted by several spooky foes.  Violent ghosts, possessed dolls, and shambling zombies are all wandering the streets, looking for humans to terrorize.  Marching right along with these monsters is the Trick or Treat Kid, a maniacal little ghoul that will spit pumpkin seeds at our heroes, which deal a surprising amount of damage.

CastlevaniaPumpkin

Most of Castlevania’s entries into the world of the third dimension have been… lacking.  Castlevania: Lament of Innocence was forgettable, save for a hidden character that unlocked once you beat the game twice: Little Pumpkin!  An enchanted pumpkin toy who decided to join the fight against Dracula, this hero is seemingly harmless, yet…

LoIGrandPumpkinHe can unleash a super-powerful attack known as the Grand Pumpkin, where giant pumpkin spirits rise from the ground and destroy his enemies with seasonal magic.

LBPPumpkinLittle Big Planet is a great reason to own a PlayStation 3, as it provides hours of super fun co-op play.  One of Chip and Laura’s favorite things to do in this game is dress the little Sack Boy (and Girl!) in silly costumes.  Sure enough, a jack o’ lantern mask was provided for Halloween fun!

CFIckybodClay

When Street Fighter II released for home consoles in 1992, a glut of other fighting games soon followed.  Many of these games were pretty basic imitations of the Capcom classic, but there were some titles that stood out, such as Clay Fighter.  This goofy game featured digitized clay characters who were brought to life with the magic of stop motion photography.  The aesthetic of Clay Fighter was appropriately silly, featuring punny characters like the pumpkin ghost Ickybod Clay.

BanjoPumpkinMy friend Grant would be sad if I didn’t include the pumpkin transformation from Banjo-Kazooie for the Nintendo 64.  In the Mad Monster Mansion area, our hero Banjo the Bear is shrunk down into a pumpkin in order to sneak through the hedge maze and small corridors.  He even got to keep his little blue backpack, adorable!

Well, there you have it boils and ghouls!  A list of digital jack o’ lanterns to light your way back home on this Halloween weekend.  Be safe, have fun, and make sure to dress as your favorite video game characters!

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I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1

Lately, it seems like all of the proper scares have been popping up from independent studios.  Horror games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender: The Arrival make players quiver in fear more often than the triple-A offerings sitting on store shelves.  Without having major focus groups to please or sequel expectations to fulfill, smaller studios can more clearly represent the frightening concept they want to convey.

Similarly, if an independent studio wanted to make a relatively simple and fun game about friends eliminating hordes of zombies to a goofy theme song, then keeping other cooks out of the kitchen might be the best way to go.

IMadeAGameWithZombies2

Officially titled as I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1, this delightful game debuted on the Xbox 360 in August 2009. Sold for only a dollar through Xbox Live’s Indie Marketplace, this game let up to four players mow down legions of increasingly difficult and absurd zombies in a top-down, twin-stick shooter fashion.  The simple controls and gradual difficulty curve emulates the arcade games of old, where a player’s only goal is to survive and set a high score.  What sets this fun little gem apart is the glorious music that serves as a single-song soundtrack to the carnage.

Instead of a chiptune background beat or a symphonic movie-style score, I Made a Game With Zombies In It features a roughly 14-minute hard rock journey from the developer himself.  The tempo of the song flows with the gameplay, featuring slower beats when the action cools and shreddin’ guitars when things get frantic.  Even the lyrics fit the on-screen onslaught, as they center around the game itself.  Right from the start, developer James Silva melodically welcomes you to his game and gives you basic instructions on how to play (zombies come shambling out from all si-aye-ides/you’d better shoot them, or you’re gonna die-aye-aye).  Since the game lasts as long as the song, the whole experience feels like some sort of awesome concert you have to fight your way through.

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