CLASSIC VIDEO GAME: ECCO THE DOLPHIN

Written by: Jenny Foxx, September 2013

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Easily one of my favorite games from the Genesis generation, Ecco the Dolphin stands the test of time. I played this little side-scroller so much as a teenager, that I had no trouble remembering the ins and outs of its sometimes daunting puzzles when I put the cartridge in and gave the dolphin a run for his money this afternoon. Being that I’m not a first timer, I had her shut down after a mere 3.5 hours of gameplay, but it is no easy task. Ecco boasts some of the more frustrating enemies and levels I have ever encountered in games of similar nature.

 

The game follows a dolphin named Ecco (as the title suggests) who has lost his pod to a mysterious wind in the sky. Ecco fights his way through the ocean to uncover the secrets behind the disappearance of his family. Along the way, he gets help from crystal glyphs, whose cryptic, albeit helpful, messages guide you through the plot and help to unveil the evil Vortex –an alien race from a distant planet who feed on the sea life of Earth once every 500 years. As Ecco, you must traverse the ocean, and time, to find and defeat the Vortex queen and return your pod to safe waters.

Ecco runs into a variety of ocean favorites in his travels, including orca whales and giant octopi. Some are friendly, and some are downright a pain in the ass. Ecco is fairly easy to maneuver, though there are some jumps that do require a modicum of patience to achieve. The health mechanics of the game are built around the necessity for air, and schools of fish that you can dash into and eat to revive your dying dolphin.

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The game is broken down into six environments, each with between two and four levels, and each with varying degrees of difficulty. To put it nicely, the easy levels are amazingly simple puzzles or mazes, with plenty of air pockets and fish to replenish you along the way. The medium levels are just slightly more challenging. They added a few more enemies and longer stretches without air, but not made them any more troublesome to solve. The hardest levels however, will unquestionably make you want to pull your hair out. There are virtually no air pockets, frustrating currents, and a heavy smattering of nuisance enemies to knock your life down when you need it the least. Oh, and no to mention the fish are all scared of these levels too. They are nowhere to be seen. There are no checkpoints, so with every death you will start the level over. This becomes increasingly frustrating during some of the more challenging areas. Ecco also does not offer lives or continues, instead working on the level password system, allowing you to return to the start of the level you last played, you know, for the times when you feel like shooting someone in the face.

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I can’t really offer much commentary in the ways of graphics, given that this gem was released in 1992. I don’t recall if I was amazed by it back then, or whether I thought it of no importance. I will say that the areas are rich in color and offer vibrant renditions of life on the sea floor, but most of the time you are looking at rock and water. In the Atlantis areas there are more distinct and detailed backgrounds, which makes up for the completely bland ice zones that are nothing but chunks of white all over the screen. I feel I can offer, however, a valid opinion on some of the sound. The level tracks themselves are genuinely catchy. In certain areas, they are almost strategically relaxing. I find them all to be a solid fit for the environments and goings on of the levels they are featured in. My favorite among them all happens in the Jurassic levels. It reminds me of a percussion ensemble; precise and rhythmical, yet delicate. That aside, this is one game where I would kill for a volume option and the ability to filter out sound effects. Ecco makes some of the most obnoxious sounds when he is hurt, it almost forces me to play with the sound off completely.

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Overall, you will hear me say that this is one of my favorites when I talk about classic games, but what you should hear is that this is a game I can play once every few years. I love it on the outside, but it doesn’t take long before I remember why this game gets set down easily. It is definitely one of the games people are referring to when they say things like “do you remember when games were hard?” Cause it is. Incredibly so, at times.

 

Jenny’s Bottom Line:

Story: Interesting concept. Dolphins v. Aliens. Who would have thought?

Graphics: Often times you get lost in the water/rock combo and lose your sense of direction. Appears as though some levels got more attention than others.

Sound: Super music, horrible effects. For best results, unleash the ipod.

Mechanics: There is really only one memorable spot where you will curse the dolphin rather than the baddies. And believe me, you’ll do that a lot.

Replay: It’s good for nostalgia, but the ever frustrating death count leaves much to be desired. Hooray for cheat codes!

Score: 8.5/10

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Comic Kingdom: Anything But Just A Comic Book Store

By: Christine E. Boston

 

If you look around at the shops at the corner of Kietzke and Moana in Reno, you will notice one is quite unlike the others.  Nestled among restaurants, a laundromat, and a gas station sits what appears to be an innocuous comic book store.  But don’t let the name fool you: Comic Kingdom is anything but just a comic book store.  Since taking ownership in 2012, Comic Kingdom has grown from its humble beginnings as just a comic book store to being a geek’s paradise.  Cody Laux and his wife have transformed the store, which now carries a variety of action figures (from Star Wars, Marvel and DC characters, to The Simpsons), collectable and game oriented cards (from Magic the Gathering to My Little Ponies), and board games and miniatures (from Warhammer to Warmachine) in addition to a variety of comics and graphic novels for all ages and preferences.  They even have a section for young readers, allowing parents to introduce children as young as two to comic books.  This not only ensures the next generation of comic book geeks but also promotes family bonding time.

 

In addition to these features, Comic Kingdom has a gaming library and pinball arcade games, which are available for play by patrons of the establishment.  Comic Kingdom’s set up allows arcade players to play in back with minimal distraction and board game and miniatures players to play on any number of large tables that are reserved just for gamers.  Laux also ensures to cultivate an atmosphere of friendliness by encouraging patrons to play games together, fostering a pleasant and amiable community of gamers where everyone is willing to help each other out by teaching and learning any and all games-be they available in the gaming library or brought in by other patrons.  On any given day or night at Comic Kingdom, one can find at least Magic the Gathering, Warmachine, or a random board game or two being played, although it is usually a combination of any of those games being played by a number of individuals.

 

Laux said that when he took over Comic Kingdom he wanted to fill a niche market that was not adequately filled at the time in Reno.  There were only a couple of gaming stores, and Laux felt that his vision, which included the game library and plenty of space for gamers to play, would be beneficial to those who shared his gaming interests.  Laux also did not want to specialize in just comic books, which is another reason why he expanded the business upon taking it over.  He wants people to be able to come into the store and “be able to leave with something”.  While Laux admits his prices are not necessarily competitive against online retailers, he says that he and his staff make up for this by being knowledgeable about all of the products the store carries and always being incredibly helpful and sociable.  Upon the occasion of this interview, I saw this firsthand as a family came in with two very young children and were overwhelmed by the selection available to them.  One of the staff members stepped up immediately, asked some inquisitive questions, and immediately directed the family over to the best products for them, which happened to be the young reader comic book section.  The children were delighted with their choices and the parents were very relieved for the guidance.

 

Laux’s vision for Comic Kingdom continues as he hopes to further expand the business by fixing up the remainder of the pin ball arcade games that he has for the purpose of hosting tournaments and pinball arcade leagues.  He has also contributed to local gaming exploits, including lending a portion of his gaming library to the recent RAGECon Gaming Convention and sponsoring the event.  Laux’s commitment to gaming and the geek community is evident in all the things he has done, but it is particularly evident in his store, Comic Kingdom, which will continue to foster a welcoming community for geeks of all ages and preferences.

 

Comic Kingdom is located at 595 East Moana Lane in Reno, Nevada.  Open seven days a week, although hours do vary.  Please stop by to learn more about Comic Kingdom or visit the facebook page: www.facebook.com/renocomickingdomIMG_20140705_124447743IMG_20140705_124455023IMG_20140705_124506167IMG_20140705_124517965IMG_20140705_124525643IMG_20140705_124537192IMG_20140705_124549826IMG_20140705_124627699IMG_20140705_124653869IMG_20140705_124653869_1IMG_20140705_124701182IMG_20140705_124713535_HDRIMG_20140705_125149199

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WELCOME TO GREAT BASIN GEEKS!

Hello, my name is Michael Ford. I am a life long geek that lives in Reno, NV. Back in early 2013, I grew fed up with having very few friends and nothing to do that interested me in my area. I decided to take action into my own hands and told my wife that I wanted to throw a big birthday party that would coincide with the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi. My wife was skeptical, but supportive. I posted ads online for the party. I annoyed a lot of people, posting in Facebook groups without asking permission. I also shared on Craigslist and in a few smaller forums. I contacted the 501st, the Rebel Legion, and the Jedi Assembly. My wife contacted Aikido of Reno to see about a live demo.
After several months of planning, the day finally arrived. The weather looked great that morning. We put out tables and tablecloths. I rolled out the R2-D2 cooler I had been lucky to find and filled him with Mountain Dew. We got the BBQ going and setup games.
Then something amazing happened, people showed up! I met people from the local area who I actually had common interests with!
Being Northern Nevada, the weather turned. It started to rain and we had to quickly pack up everything. One of my new friends helped me move the now monumentally heavy R2 under cover. And then the party moved inside. It was cramped, but no one seemed to mind. We talked for hours. We talked about Star Wars and Star Trek and Firefly and all the great geeky stuff that I loved. I got to show off a couple of my prized collectibles.
We all had a great time and I met some amazing people. I never wanted that night to end.
Out of that night was born the idea of a local group for like-minded people. A group was formed and a few meetups took place, mostly to go see the latest geeky movie. Life and money eventually got in the way and the group stopped meeting.
A recent change in jobs has finally given me the time and energy to dedicate to getting the group moving in the right direction.
This is an exciting time to be a geek in Northern Nevada. Every month there are events that celebrate geekdom. More and more groups are forming dedicated to special interests within geekdom. Northern Nevada is becoming a place where geeks can thrive.
Together we can help that process. Together we can make Northern Nevada a place for geeks of all kinds to come and share their love of all that is geeky.
I look forward to meeting all of you. May the Force be with you.

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Bridgewire

bridgewirelogoWelcome to Bridgewire, Northern Nevada’s Makerspace

Bridgewire is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, scientific, and recreational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding section of any future United States Internal Revenue law). Its mission is to foster a collaborative environment wherein people can explore and create intersections between technology, science, art, and culture. We have come together to create a community resource for creating, learning and sharing. We have provided a space to work on projects, an open community classroom and a forum for sharing knowledge and ideas. We will focus our efforts on enabling members to realize projects themselves for the benefit of the community and individuals.

What is Bridgewire?

Bridgewire is a member-funded, non-profit Makerspace/Hackerspace/Workshop located in Sparks, NV serving the Reno-Sparks area. We are open 24/7 to all members and open to the public every Thursday from 6pm-9pm during Open Space Night. Please come down and see what we’re all about or participate in whatever project we have going on at the time. If Thursday nights don’t work for you, or if you have any questions, please contact us and ask to schedule an appointment.

Home

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Green Light Gaming
Green Light Gaming organizes Video Game tournament events for local northern Nevada and surrounding areas.
Mission

To hold very successful LAN tournaments in the local Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada

Description

Green Light Gaming organizes tournament events for local northern Nevada and surrounding areas. Based in the Reno/Tahoe area, GLG works to support players across multiple different video games and video gaming platforms. “Competition Connected” focuses on the main goal which is to connect and promote various different gamers, professional and amateur, in our local area. GLG encourages gamers to hone in on personal skill and team awareness to compete in our monthly events. Our website is based to inform and connect our gaming community, you can sign up and register for events, chat, and meet other gamers in our forums.

We hope to see you at our next tournament event! ~GLG Administration

General Information

Visit our webpage at http://glgreno.com/ (subject to change, and we will keep you updated if it does), and if you or your team wishes to be a part of this tournament, you may sign up there. Keep in mind that registration fees do apply.

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Wizard World Comic Con 2014

“The Biggest Little City in the World” has a big new attraction, as Wizard World announced the addition of Reno, Nevada, as the 16th show on its 2014 Comic Con calendar.

Wizard World will host Reno Comic Con, November 21-23, 2014, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

Norman Reedus of “The Walking Dead,” fellow Boondock Saints stars Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco, and “Green Power Ranger” Jason David Frank were the first celebrities to commit to the event, which will feature additional top-level celebrities for autographs, photo ops and panel programming. Thousands of fans, many cosplaying as their favorite characters, will also enjoy meeting superstar comics creators and celebrating the best in TV and movies, pop-fi, sci-fi, video and table gaming, toys, original art, collectibles, contests and everything pop culture.

Other celebrities to signup are Manu Bennett of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Arrow,” Jon Bernthal of “The Walking Dead,” Michael Rooker of “The Walking Dead,” William Shatner of “Star Trek,” Kevin Sorbo od “Hercules.” Jewel Staite of “Firefly”; “Serenity”; “Stargate: Atlantis”; and “Warehouse 13,” and Sara Underwood Host of “Attack of the Show!”

A slew of artists and creators have also signed on, including, Neal Adams, Tom Cook, Michael Golden, Bob Hall, Greg Horn, Kevin Maguire, Pop Mhan, Phil Ortiz, Arthur Suydam, B. Alex Thompson, and Renee Witterstaetter.

General Admission tickets start at $35 in advance for Friday, with a 3 day pass for only $75.  Special VIP tickets are also available starting at $199 for the 3 days, which include special early admission, Lithographs, CGC Comic, and can also include experiences with celebrities.

http://www.wizardworld.com/home-reno.html

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“The ‘Verse” a Firefly/serenity costume club

The ‘Verse is a costuming club for Firefly/Serenity fandom worldwide, with hopes of becoming the public face of the Firefly/Serenity costume community through costuming, public appearances, promotions, and charity work. Think of them as the 501st (official Star Wars Costuming organization) of the Firefly ‘Verse, minus the “official” title (although they’d eventually like to acquire that as well). This is a costuming club that accepts any and all costumes related to the Firefly ‘Verse with hopes of bringing together Firefly enthusiasts all under one roof. A place to share info on costumes, how-to’s, sources, and anything else costume related.

Read more: http://theverse.proboards.com/

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SNAFU Con – Sierra Nevada Anime Fans United Convention

Sierra Nevada Anime Fans Unite Convention (SNAFU Con) is a collaborative effort of local anime, game, comic-book, and science-fiction fans. 

Our goal is to provide a convention that will benefit both the producers within the local area and community at large. The primary goal is to connect local fans to each other as well as producers and retailers, allowing them to interact with their customers in a fun and relaxed setting.

Our reason for choosing the greater Reno-Sparks area is a simple one: We live here and so do numerous other people who share our interests in all things nerdy. This will be the biggest little con(vention) in the biggest little city. 

http://snafucon.com/

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Sands Reno Comic-Con

Reno’s Newest Comic-Con! Sept. 14th, 2014 Comic Books, Art, Fantasy, Anime, Cosplay and more.

http://www.renocomiccon.com/

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HIGH DESERT STEAM


High Desert Steam, a Northern Nevada Steampunk organization based in Reno/Sparks, formed in 2010 to help promote a Steampunk Party and Toy Drive for the Washoe County Charitable event: “Christmas on the Corridor.”


High Desert Steam now produces three annual Steampunk events: a Spring Steampunk Expo; a fall Steampunk Victorian Ball located at the historic Piper’sOpera House in Virginia City; and the December Yule Steam party and charity gift drive, which continues their involvement with “Christmas on the Corridor”. 


Throughout the year, High Desert Steam members also attend local costumed events, informal meet-ups, and maker events such as the 2012 “Steampunk U” teaching series. They have also hosted movie nights and have participated in parades such as the “Sparks Hometowne Christmas” parade, where they wonbest costumed group in 2012!

 Taking a cue from their sister group, “The Great Basin Costume Society”, costumed attendance at High Desert Steam events is “admired not required.” High Desert Steam encourages participation whether you’re a lifestyler, cosplayer, or any part of the realm in between. Please join the enjoyment of a past that never was and a future that could have been! 

http://www.highdesertsteam.org/

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