Foodie Review: Chuck E Cheese’s (San Antonio, TX)

IMG_9555.JPG

Why the hell am I doing a foodie review for Chuck-E-Cheese?

To tell you the truth, I don’t know. Is this where writer dreams go to die?

We’ll see.

The truth is, I randomly posted a few foodie reviews this past week on a whim, because I visited a few cool places recently, and did get some gift cards to Pei Wei, but my daily views on those were actually double of my new movie reviews. With little promotion on Twitter, they are still my most viewed blogposts a few days later, so I am testing to see if people just like reading whatever comes to mind.

So what is this bizarre place?

IMG_9548.JPG

This is a place I wanted to go for my 8th birthday. I still remember the story. My parents called to book the place, and it was all booked. Chuck E Cheese himself would not visit my table. We pressed on bravely, and my mother baked a fucking chocolate cake and we invited my friends and we all went there anyways.

IMG_9514.JPG

Things have changed since then. You buy pizza and tokens in packages (the discount is given with 80 tokens) with the mirage that this is a good deal. Most of the games in the arcade are essentially gambling games where you do various things for tickets. The biggest scores you can get is 250 tickets, if you hit 1/200 odds. If you have an extremely lucky day and somehow accumulate 7500 tickets in one magical session, beating the average of 4-10 tickets per game, what can you get? One frozen action figure that costs around $15 at Walmart.

IMG_9525.JPG

Anyways, back to the foodie review. We ordered a couple pizzas. This was the pepperoni pizza. Behold the weird pizza slice cuts. You can always recognized a Chuck E Cheeze pizza by the unorthodox pizza slicing; it’s almost as if the pizza cutter closes their eyes and cuts. Eating the pizza and rating it is more of an exercise of not saying if it is good or bad, but ranking it. To me, the pizza is maybe a slot higher than Cici’s pizza and frozen grocery store pizza, but a step lower than Little Caesers pizza, which I consider below the big 3 (Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Dominos).

IMG_9552.JPG

Watching your weight? Chuck E Cheese also sports a pretty good looking salad bar. It was constantly getting refilled from tubs that I assume come from some food distributor. I thought the presentation was actually surprisingly clean for what I expected. Taking a quick glance around, I discovered why: The salad bar was the furthest distance from the arcade and there wasn’t a kid within 40 feet, so this was likely the cleanest area in the entire place.

So how was the food? Eh, the pizza might be a 4/10. But how was it while watching the kid running around like a maniac trying to win tickets? Eh, the quality of the pizza didn’t really matter, now did it?

If you enjoy me just blogging on anything instead of focusing on movies, like and share and leave a comment below. I have some big trips coming up and can keep sharing whatever happens.

Travel Blog (Traders Village, San Antonio, TX)

IMG_6798.jpeg

If you have never been to Texas, you have not quite experienced the pride that the people here get by doing everything bigger. This was my first visit to Trader’s Village, and it was one of the largest flea markets I’ve ever been to. The place has so many shops and booths that you might not have the time see everything you wanted. I know I sure didn’t.IMG_1358.jpeg

Almost everything is covered in shed type booths. There are carnivals rides in the “arcade” and food venders, which all seemed to be doing more business than many of the venders. I talked to one owner of a baseball card and action figure themed shop, and he said the rain keeps customers away if the morning looks bad. He pays around $260 a month to keep his shed and seems to be pretty happy with his cash business. His business plan centers of “keeping customers back” by pricing everything for $1, even if he knows he could sell it for $10, so that people check his place first week to week and he can build a customer base weekend after weekend. I nicknamed him the Sam Walton of the Flea Market.

IMG_8961.jpeg

Do you want to buy some birds? There are plenty to buy for cheap. Cages. Food. Why go to Petsmart when you can go to a flea market? Um …

IMG_0779.jpeg

I was pretty impressed with some of the booths. This booth specialized in toys and games and most of it was stuff you can’t find in stores anymore. Maybe 60% was still new in the package and the prices varied. I’m not an expert on prices of newer toys, but it seems they were all priced for collectors to buy. I looked for the owner, and he wasn’t even in the shop. He was chilling 50 feet away at a seating area just watching his place from afar.

IMG_4390.jpeg

And there I was, the reason why I came here. I’ve been searching for an original nintendo, but wanted to find one on the cheap with perhaps a stack of games. I visited one impressive shop and it seemed to specialize in everything electronic. He had gaming systems of all kinds: Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Playstation, Wii, XBOX, and even a few Atari systems. I got straight to the point and asked about the Nintendo in the box, and the owner (who said he’d been doing this since 1990) said he wanted $200 for it. Holy crap. This is beyond even ebay pricing. Okay. He saw the shock on my face, and said he also had two “new in the box’ Nintendos. How much did he want for them? $2000.

I rolled my eyes and now understood why his shed was filled with stuff, all the way to the ceiling as you can see. He had nintendo games, supernintendo games, and Nintendo 64 games in glass cases along with maybe a couple thousand playstation/xbox games for each system. I asked how much the games were, and he told me “depends on the game.” God damn. Where the hell was I? His business model is to actually eye each customer and play the negotiation game with each person?  I had $300 in my pocket ready to outfit my game room, but he lost me with this gimmicks. I didn’t feel like negotiating him down from $60 he probably wanted for the original Super Mario, down to the $5 you can get it for on ebay. He probably feels people will believe it’s a win-win to get it for $30 after he haggles you to death. He did point me to a nintendo (console only) that was slightly cracked, for $80. I walked out around 2 minutes after.

This was my experience with many of the shops: Gem shops, antique shops, comic book shops, book shops … even used baby strollers were priced at $100. This is absolutely ludicrous.

We left after spending a $4 for parking and $2 for a slushie for the kid.

 

 

 

Movie Reviews: The King of Kong

6.24_film-cal_king-of-kong-poster.jpg

The King of Kong directed by Seth Gordon

For those of you that read my review of Pixels, the awful movie starring Adam Sandler, I bring you “The King of Kong,” which to me is an example of a good video game movie. The story centers around the competitive world of arcade record holders and the eccentric cast of characters that surround it. At the center is Billy Mitchell, a hot sauce guru and former record holder of the Donkey Kong point record (along with other classic games like Pac-man) who plays the most self centered video game villain ever.

The funny thing is this is not a movie. This is a documentary.

Steve Wiebe, a science teacher decides to to break Billy Mitchell’s world record of 874K and smashed it with a score of over  million. What ensues is the back and forth game of a man trying to get recognition in an entrenched culture that refuses to accept him. The trash talking and mind games of this eSport is worse than some physical sports to a degree. These rivalries and memories last decades and reputations can be ruined in an instant. (Just ask Roy Shildt)

My favorite part when I watched it (and I think many other people based on the memes) is when Brian Kuh, a man who moves near Funspot Arcade just to be near the center of the action, walks around informing patrons of the arcade that Steve is about to get to the famous “kill screen.”

As for the central rivalry, the ending was very on point in how records can change hands fast, especially once everyone discovers accolades and fame that come with it. Since the the movie, the record has been broken many times, but none with the pizazz and paranoia as what is covered in this documentary.

GUEST REVIEW: “DILLY DITCHELL” (VIA MYSTERY REDDIT POST)

Let me point out that greatness doesn’t happen very often in the world. Innate greatness is gifted to a very few on Earth. Billy Mitchell is one of those fine men of high mental agility, physical reflexes, and eyes like a hawk. The documentary is the biggest fabrication of lies is the Zapruder film. Billy Mitchell is an arcade god. Your’re a damn fool if you think Steve Wiebe had a clean board. They cut like 30 minutes of the plot. They also cut out a very unbiased hot sauce taste test that was meticulously set up for the film crew. I’m not gonna say how I know, but sources closes to me say his boards were tampered. In fact, every machine he plays on are tampered with. The only true Donkey Kong machine resides where Billy Mitchell lives. 

Movie Rating 9.5/10 Donkey Kongs.

For those interested in the progress on the Donkey Kong record, below is accurate as of today, per Twin Galaxies.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 4.40.25 PM.png

Movie Reviews: Pixels (aka what went wrong?)

wal3uqjzz31koprctyrf.jpg

Pixels directed by Chris Columbus

From the same director that sailed the ocean in 1492 … I mean, directed Home Alone and Harry Potter, and Adventures in Babysitting, you would think he would have received the script for Pixels and automatically known what to do with a video game movie.

I mean, how hard is this? As a big budget summer movie ($88M) you would think the goal would be to target kids between the ages of 8 and 18. To do this, you would imagine a story involving kids right? You know, you are making a movie about video games and main characters who fight video games, right? Instead the do the most ludicrous thing possible.

They get Adam Sandler (age 48), Kevin James (age 50), and Michelle Monaghan (age 40) to star in the film . WHAT? Not only was the source material old (arcade games from 30 years ago), but they inflict double the damage with old actors, as ex-players. What kid wants to play a video game and imagine an old man playing the game to win? This is crazy.

In the Last Starfighter, the story revolves a teenager who lives in a trailer park, who achieves a high score in a game and then gets taken off to another galaxy after setting a high score. The movie was targeted toward teenagers. Did they go get Bob Hope to be the lead star of the Last Starfighter and expect kids to watch it? Nope. They took an Obi-Wan and fish-out-of-water approach.

But no, the only kid in the movie is a weakling who gets captured. Plus, let’s not make Sandler give a crap about anyone ever and just make him a single Geek-squad repairman. Who cares to make him even try to act anymore. Lame.

The sad thing is the story itself was ok. A story of has-beens could be decent if it was a father son story maybe. I would have had the main cast like the Goonies, where the kids play modern day games and the father tries to bond with his son with his old games and they make fun of it, but when the shit hits the fan, the father’s skills come into play. Make the father like an Obi-Wan character, but the cast as young. What kids want to see the banter between Monaghan and Sandler? Is there an Obi-Wan type character in the film? Yes. How, you ask? Go older of course! They get 61 year old Toru Iwatani, the programmer of PACMAN, to make a cameo. Does anyone in America know who he is outside of arcade circles? I think 99% of arcade players back in the day have no idea who he is. But yes, he loses an arm … then gets it back in the end (How? Why? Are you kidding me?)

What is especially disappointing is how awesome Peter Dinklage was. He played Eddie Plant, an ex-champion and bonafide asshole with a heart of assholeness, until the last minute, of course. He plays it so over-the-top, it is entertaining to watch. He tried to play a character while the three lead actors above essentially played themselves.

The special effects in the movie were actually pretty cool. The PACMAN chase was a good sequence. The Donkey Kong ending would have been epic if it was kids facing something foreign, and not Sandler playing the game. Come on, really? A 48 year old man has issues about a video game contest he lost? But wait, he has the confidence now to play?

So bad, but the concept had so much potential. I could have written 2 better scripts in a month. They could have done such cool stuff. What a waste.

GUEST POST: “DILLY DITCHELL”

What is with you? Are you out of your damn mind? This movie had everything a growing kid in 2015 wants. Pacman and Donkey Kong and Space Invaders will always be popular and relevant. These games age like fine wine. Did you see PACMAN chomp down five city blocks? Come on. That itself was worth the price of your Redbox 99 cent rental. The fine character study of Tyrion Peter Dinklage was a work of art. He was channeling his inner arcade champion like the best of them. They probably had some of the best consultants in the business on the movie set. You best back the hell up from this movie and focus on that art house shit you seem to love on your blog. Ditchell Out. 

Movie Rating: 4/10 PACMAN GHOSTS (2 of the ghosts is for Dinklage, 1 ghost for Donkey Kong, 1 ghost for PACMAN)

Game Reviews: Contra (NES)

Contra.jpg

For those of you born after 1990, you do not know the awesome that is known as Contra. This was the game where you could enter the secret thirty-man code (up up, down down, left right left right, B, A, start!) and boom, you and your buddy would run the through the game blasting the enemy as if you were invincible.

img.png

And do you remember the S-gun? Spreading red balls of glory to an enemy near you. It was glorious and epic and deadly. I don’t remember how many times I beat the game without the thirty-man code, but it doesn’t matter now, does it? It was the coolest feeling you could have without having a damn game genie.

I played this game with friends whenever they came over. The coolest thing you could do to help a bro out was to lend them a life. To ask, “Can I borrow a life” was like “Shit man, I suck.”

I don’t know how many times I beat it, but I think I want to beat it one more time. It is time to search ebay and score myself a great copy.

Classic Game rating: 9/10

CHECK OUT MY STORY ON BUYING THE XBOX 360

Game Reviews: Clash of Clans – Mobile

unnamed.pngIt all started on a trip with three work associates. We decided on a Friday morning to take a trip to New Orleans. Think of it.

Bourbon Street. Bars. Gumbo.

We acted like we were in college a decade ago and took a road trip. It was everything I thought it could be.

Canal Street.Saints Fans. Hand Grenades. The music acts.

Then, at 2 in the morning I decided to walk to Harrah’s and play a little poker. On TV, I saw a little commercial. It was a little game called “Clash of Clans,” which I eventually learned was the number one downloaded game in the world. Sitting at the poker table, I started my journey as a town hall 1.

Before I knew it, I was a town hall 2, then 3, then 4. I was kicked out of a dozen clans for redefining how bad of a “clasher” one could be. Then, as a town hall 6, the new coleader option was added to the game in an update, and slowly, I began to take control of the clan. I added rules and structure and a process to expand.

Then other coleaders convinced me to start my own clan. So I did. Two years later, it has been quite the addictive journey. The attraction of the game was clearly the social aspect. The game clearly copies many games before it by using upgrades and a micro purchase structure to get players to buy gems. Clan wars. Late night chats. Stories of divorces and bankruptcies and hook-ups and deceit and vocational decisions.

Now, about $800 in gems later, I’m what you call a seasoned player. I’m town hall 11 with everything but walls upgraded to max. My clan has expanded to feeder clans and even started playing Clash Royale together. Obsession doesn’t really define what the game did to my life, but one thing is clear, it helped inspire me to write my first book documenting the many themes I learned the last couple years with online gaming and the social culture that comes with it.

As for my clan, we reached the #15 ranked clan in the United States. If you read this and decide to download the game, just be warned, there is a hidden cost with the “free to play” game.

Game Review: 10/10

NEXT: REVIEW OF SUPERCELL’S NEWEST GAME, CLASH ROYALE (IS IT FUN?)