Filed under Game trail; Comments Off on Lazily revisiting Retro Fever
Last March, I followed up my unboxing and Let's Play of Zéphyr with a video about Retro Fever. This game by Brian Picchi might be better called a metagame, as players assume the role of a retrocomputing enthusiast charged with adding as many classic computers to their collection as possible — a game most of us already play every day.
I'm no Internet celebrity, and my video did little to bring attention to Picchi's work. Finally, Retro Fever is getting the spotlight it deserves: Lazy Game Reviews (whose website looks quite familiar!) has nearly a quarter million YouTube users who were recently exposed to founder Clint Basinger's own unboxing and Let's Play of Retro Fever.
In November 2012, I stumbled into success on YouTube when I posted an unboxing video. It's a genre I discovered during my six years at Computerworld: point the camera at a new tech product and narrate as you open its packaging and dissect its contents. A month later, I delved into another genre, this one introduced to me by the narrator of Open Apple: Let's Play videos, in which gameplay footage is captured and combined with running commentary.
Yes — people actually watch me open boxes and play video games on YouTube, such that humanity has spent an aggregate of fifty years on my channel.
I don't understand it, but if the interest is there, I'm happy to bring it to bear on the Apple II. I applied these two video styles last year to Zéphyr, the 1987 action game recently published by Brutal Deluxe. Today, I bring my attention to Retro Fever, a new game from budding programmer Brian Picchi.
An unboxing video of a new Apple II product may be even more pointless than the average unboxing. Says PBS of the genre, "[Unboxing] videos show what the products ARE, without the annoying filter of marketing." Yet almost no Apple II product has a marketing budget to begin with, allowing for a more WYSIWYG experience from conception to purchase.
Nonetheless, there you have it: my first experience with the first Apple II game to be published in 2014. Get your own copy for free or in hardcopy, or play it online, at Brian Picchi's website — and learn more about how he became the programmer he is today in the March 2014 issue of Juiced.GS.
Back in November, with no scripting and little forethought, I shot an unboxing video. Those outside the tech world may be unfamiliar with the genre, which is essentially a step-by-step documentary of the opening and unpacking of a new product. My product was the Nintendo Wii U, a video game system released on November 18. Much to my surprise, viewers were enthralled with the product and my stream-of-consciousness narration — that, or I had really good SEO. Either way, the video is now nearing a staggering one million views. Despite being only 1.4% of the videos on my YouTube channel, this single video accounts for 78% of my channel's total views.
Not that popularity makes me an expert, but I decided to revisit the genre when I purchased Zéphyr, a new, physical game for the Apple II. Once my copy arrived via international mail from Brutal Deluxe, I touted it, my Canon Rebel T2i DSLR, and my tripod to my office, where resides my Apple IIGS, and recorded my experience with the game. The camera is good for only ten minutes of consecutive video, which was more than enough for the six cuts I shot, which when edited together happened to add up to exactly ten minutes.
It'd be disingenuous for me to not acknowledge the influence of Brian Picchi, aka TanRu Nomad, who has produced dozens of excellent video reviews of Apple II hardware and software. His reviews are more stylish and edited than my "start rolling and see what happens" approach, so there really is no comparison between the two — otherwise, I'd lose! (Horribly.) But the idea that one could produce a video about the Apple II and have fun doing it was enough of a precedent for me to try. (Now if only I could get the hundreds of views he does!)
Although the Zéphyr video was openly posted to YouTube, it was primarily promoted on Facebook, where users were invited to "like" Juiced.GS's Facebook page to view the video. I don't know if anyone found that "fan gate" cumbersome or pretentious, but I received no complaints. Nonetheless, I figured two weeks later, the promotion has run its course, and I won't be cutting into the page's appeal by sharing the video here.
There aren't many opportunities to shoot unboxing videos of new Apple II products, especially one of a sort that aligns with my YouTube channel's other gaming content. I enjoyed this experience, even if there won't be another one like it. I hope the Internet enjoyed it, too!
A hallmark of the 1 MHz podcast are unboxings. The show's host, Carrington Vanston, often gets his hands on new-in-box Apple II games and will record the audio of breaking the seal, horrifying collectors worldwide. His philosophy: games were meant to be played, and these classics aren't doing anyone any good in the box.
Unfortunately, the video stops short of an actual review of the game as 1 MHz would do. But it's still a fun look at the tangible aspects of a game that you don't get with an ADTPro-reconstituted disk image. As we move more and more toward digital distribution, these "feelies" will become artifacts with no modern counterparts. How long before there are no more boxes to unbox?
About this time three years ago, Dan Budiac made headlines when he bought a new-in-box Apple IIc for $2,553. Although Apple II hardware is sold on eBay every day, this purchase was unique for a combination of three factors: the high price it fetched; the rarity of an Apple IIc whose original packaging had never been opened; and the fact that Budiac, rather than preserving that state as any collector would, instead removed the computer, booted it up, and played Oregon Trail.
Another such opportunity has come about, this one landing in the hands of Alabama's J. Scott King. He purchased the IIc from a dealer in Chicago for a sum far greater than Mr. Budiac paid: according to the eBay auction, the final bid was $4,995.
That's a lot of money to pony up for a 25-year-old machine, and Mr. King won't even get the joy of the machine that Mr. Budiac did: this IIc is staying in its box. He justifies his investment and decision: "I didn't buy the machine for its utility value, or even its stand alone value as a new machine," he explains. "No, I bought it because it was new in the sealed boxes and might be (maybe not) the only sealed factory box set left — to me that makes it highly collectible. I'll promise you this: in 10, 20 or 30 years from now and I going to be worried I might have paid to much — I don't think so."
Mr. King emailed me earlier this month with the offer of an interview; unfortunately, his email response landed in my junk folder, which is why this blog post was beaten to the punch by the latest episode of the RetroMacCast podcast, which interviews Mr. King starting at time index 16:56. My apologies for the late report.