Portable Dragon’s Lair? Count me in.


The 1983 laserdisc classic Dragon’s Lair will follow its cousin Space Ace to the iPhone; Electronic Arts is handling the port. Now you can enjoy Dirk the Daring’s inquisitive grunting and Princess Daphne’s coquettish cooing in a convenient portable format.

The game will feature an arcade mode, faithful to the content of the original cabinet game, and a home mode that includes extra scenes. Space Ace, the other Don Bluth animated game on the iPhone/iPod Touch, was $4.99. No word on price point here, and delivery is listed as just “December 2009.”

Oh, man. I used to play Dragon’s Lair frequently when it came out in arcades. I even got my hands on a book with all of the moves, and quickly learned to beat the game. The first time I did so was at Aladdin’s Castle in Willowbrook Mall; the game had one of those monitors on top of it so others could see you play. When I finally slew Singe (the dragon), I heard applause behind me. I turned to see about 15-20 people watching me beat the game. Let me tell you, that gave a little boost to the ego… heh.

Since then, I’d purchased other ports of the game, for the Coleco ADAM (rather good despite the hardware limitations of the time), NES (wow, that was hard and pretty unplayable), and even the PC. I’d never gotten my hands on an arcade-perfect version yet, even though they’d been available for a while. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this… if only to add another little bit of nostalgia to my gaming catalog. :-)

Toys R Us is finally offering layaway?


NEW YORK — Toys R Us Inc. is introducing a layaway program for larger-ticket items such as bikes and cribs ahead of the holiday season, the company said Monday.

The largest U.S. toy retailer said the program is effective immediately in stores nationwide. Customers can put a variety of items on hold and make a series of payments until the item is paid in full.

Layaway programs are financing agreements in which retailers — without charging interest — hold merchandise for customers until they have finished paying in installments.
Popular during the Great Depression, layaway had become largely a thing of the past before the recession hit. But Sears expanded its program for the holidays last year, and due to its popularity Sears and Kmart introduced an online option this year.

Retailers who have introduced the programs see them as a way to keep customers buying in a time of tight credit and other economic problems. Toys R Us CEO Gerald Storch said his company’s customers were requesting a layaway program.

There’s currently no online layaway at Toys R Us, though there might be in the future, the company said. The Wayne, N.J.-based company said the program is likely to keep going after the holidays, though terms may change.

I’m finding this amusing, simply because I used to work for Toys R Us from 1993 to 1995, and back then it seemed there was no chance in hell the company would ever have layaway. That didn’t stop people from constantly asking if we did have it, though. However, as the store director back then once told a customer who asked why we didn’t have it: “We would need a store two and a half times as big.” I had discussed it with Jennifer while at lunch yesterday, and while she tried to say that people would be trying to get their stuff out and out of the store as quickly as possible before Christmas, I had to point out that the warehouse areas of the store were typically jam-packed with merchandise during the entire Christmas season, even if it’s constantly being sold and replenished. The one saving grace I see here is that the items have to be picked up by December 6th, probably to make room for the big influx of season merchandise. I’ll be interested to see how this pans out.

Rarely have I heard of a bigger epic failure in IT circles…

As many people have undoubtedly already read, Sidekick users are in a whole heap of trouble right about now. For those who aren’t familiar with the Sidekick (also known as the Hiptop), it’s a “smartphone” that acts differently from other smartphones. In essence, other than the phone application, it’s a thin client, where everything (including the address book and applications) is hosted on Danger’s servers instead of on the phone itself. An official posting on T-Mobile’s forums states that all data is lost, even though they’re trying to recover what they can.

As for what happened, well… from the rumors I’ve seen, it appears a SAN upgrade went seriously awry and caused the entire array to get hosed. One would think that they would have backups of this data; hell, my own personal “datacenter” is relatively small scale, yet I have daily backups to tape. Also, I have MK Online on a workable and tested backup system. I’m guessing that the backup system they were using wasn’t being kept up-to-date or even monitored. For something as mission critical as that, not having working and tested backups is absolutely inexcusable.

So, what’s happening right now? T-Mobile is stressing to users to not power off or reboot their devices under any circumstances, or else they will lose all of the data on them. Given how bleak the situation looks, I’d say the best thing the Sidekick users could be doing right now is copying all of their address books to paper as quickly as humanly possible. I have at least one friend who is (or now was) a loyal Sidekick user, so this must come as another huge blow alongside all of the other crap she has had to go to.

For me, I had honestly considered a Sidekick a LONG time ago, before moving to my employer’s wireless plan (which is with AT&T Wireless/Cingular/AT&T). Even then, the thought of having EVERYTHING server-side and nothing stored locally unnerved me. I’ve always been a big believer in hosting my own stuff, from email to blogging. Right now the only real exception is Twitter, and I don’t exactly consider that “mission critical” (like any of this stuff is). :-) That way, I can make sure everything is backed up on my own terms, and if something goes wrong, the only person I can blame is myself. Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t go with the Sidekick now.

So, to all you Sidekick users… you have my utter sympathies. I would wish you luck with your Sidekick, but I’m willing to bet most of you will likely be switching platforms now… and I’m willing to bet that this will be the final nail in the coffin for the Sidekick.

I wish I could say I’ve heard it all now, but I know I haven’t.


NEW YORK (AP) — Looking to beef up your mojo this holiday season?

Burger King Corp. may have just the thing. The home of the Whopper has launched a new men’s body spray called “Flame.” The company describes the spray as “the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat.”

The fragrance is on sale at New York City retailer Ricky’s NYC in stores and online for a limited time for $3.99.

Burger King is marketing the product through a Web site featuring a photo of its King character reclining fireside and naked but for an animal fur strategically placed to not offend.

There’s only one thing this brings to mind.

Midway appears to be doing a lot worse than I thought.


In an extremely surprising move, news came out today that Sumner Redstone, whose National Amusements, Inc. owned 87% of Midway Games’s stock, has sold all of its stock to a private investor named Mark Thomas for $100,000 USD. The move comes as Redstone is looking to pay off $1.6 billion USD in debt; according to the Wall Street Journal, this sale would secure a hefty tax benefit.

In addition, the Los Angeles Times is reporting a bit more information, in that the sale may not be as much of a steal as it seems. The company is valued at $30.4 million USD (with shares at $0.33 USD), but currently has well over $150 million USD in outstanding loans, not to mention the $70 million USD loan from National Amusements that is now owed to Thomas. With the company losing money this past quarter and Thomas reportedly being only a passive investor (with no plans of sitting on Midway’s board of directors or engaging in management decisions), the LA Times could very well be right that Thomas may be looking to divide and sell the company and hope to make a profit by the end of the day. However, this is only speculation; Mark Thomas has only released scant information on his plans through the attorney arranging the purchase, and is not granting interviews.

We’ll keep an eye on this story. As we learn more, we’ll report it here.

To read the Wall Street Journal’s announcement of the sale, click here. To read the LA Times analysis of the purchase, click here.

More and more, it’s looking like Midway’s getting closer to oblivion. While I have no doubt that Mortal Kombat will continue (if probably another developer and/or publisher), I can’t say I feel the same way about Midway itself. A shame, really, considering how many of Midway’s games I’ve liked over the years. We’ll just see how it goes…

Even worse news for Bennigan’s…


Hundreds of Bennigan’s and Steak & Ale restaurants across the country will not open today.

Phones went unanswered this morning at several Houston locations and others had been disconnected.

Plano-based MetroMedia Restaurant Group confirmed that its subsidiary, S&A Restaurant Corp., has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. All corporate locations of its well-known storefronts, including Bennigan’s, Steak & Ale and Tavern, will be shuttered for good.

Company spokeswoman Leah Templeton said franchised locations should not be affected, and it could not be determined immediately which of the Houston-area’s 11 Bennigan’s and six Steak & Ale locations will remain open.

Well, this is a drag. Granted, the only Bennigan’s restaurants I go to nowadays are the ones by the office and by the Galleria, but I have to say they had my favorite quesadillas, and I always loved their John Bacon’s burgers. Of course, since going on this diet/lifestyle change, I haven’t had much chance to have either of those recently. I don’t know if either of those restaurants are affected, but we’ll see what happens.

UPDATE – 2:20 PM – Well, according to one of my coworkers, the Bennigan’s by the office is one of the locations that closed. Ah, well… on the other hand, I realized earlier that there is one other location I’ll miss: the Villahermosa one, as that was one of the few places I’ve eaten at while in Mexico. Ah, well… hopefully it is a franchised location, but we’ll see…

I guess Shifter, for one, will be picking up the habit again.


Well it’s official folks! You can all scream like little girls and then pass out from complete exhaustion as Blizzard officially announces Diablo III at the 2008 Worldwide Invitational. Mike Morhaime told the audience at the opening ceremonies that they had a special announcement to make, the lights dimmed, and a guitar player took the stage, playing the unmistakable opening strains of the Diablo overworld theme. A trailer played, and Jay Wilson, lead designer of the game took the stage…to demo the game.

Interesting… so now Blizzard has upcoming games based on their two other big franchises (other meaning “other than Warcraft“). I was already planning on picking up StarCraft II when it comes out; I guess I can add this one to the queue as well. No matter… knowing Blizzard, it’ll be a while before either game is released. :-)

Uwe Boll has hit a new low.


There is no kind, soft lead into this story, so I’m just going to say it: 200 people walked out of a free screening of Uwe Boll’s Postal, because the opening scenes of the film, which depict terrorists deciding to turn their planes towards the Bahamas rather than crash them into the World Trade Center, only to crash them into the World Trade Center after passengers storm the cockpit.

Let me reiterate so this doesn’t slip past anybody: Two hundred people… walked out of a free showing of Uwe Boll’s Postal… in the first ten minutes.


Boll defended the film, saying that while he didn’t want to hurt anybody, he wanted Postal to break the rules, and bring into question what exactly is “taboo”.

All the same, two hundred people, give or take a handful… wow… however sad that this story may sound, it begs the question: Which is more pathetic? The fact that the film itself was already available for free showings, or that the audience still stormed out in droves?

Damnation. I knew Boll’s films were horrible, even going back to when Ain’t It Cool News savaged House of the Dead. His movies have been universally panned, and it amazes how he manages to get the casts he does. (His budgets, on the other hand, are no mystery: they come from German companies trying to exploit loopholes in German tax laws.) Still, this is probably rock bottom for him, and that says something about a man who hates his critics so much that he more or less tricks them into a boxing match where he promises to go easy and give free training, but reneges on the training and pounds them into a bloody pulp instead.