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Clash of the Classics: Tetris Plus VS. Tetris: The Grand Master 3 – Terror-Instinct

Tetris Plus VS. Tetris: The Grandmaster 3 – Terror-Instinct? Our first Clash of the Classics for the autumn season might seem a bit redundant, but read on and you’ll learn why these games offer very different experiences!

Tetris Plus (Jaleco, 1990) offers a clever twist on the classic Tetris game play with the introduction of “Puzzle Mode”. Instead of just dropping blocks and clearing lines to score points and keep the level from topping out, you’re helping an intrepid explorer get to the bottom of the level and escape certain doom from the slowly lowering spiked ceiling. How? By dropping blocks and clearing lines, of course! Clear a path for the professor through four worlds, and you’ll reach the final stage, Atlantis. Of course, you can compete against a friend in “VS. Mode” as well! Tetris Plus’ Puzzle Mode is a great choice for anyone looking for a new Tetris challenge, and its cute and colorful graphics make it very approachable.


Tetris: The Grandmaster 3 – Terror-Instinct (Arika, 2005) has a lot going on beneath the surface. Again, you can start off with a pretty straightforward Tetris mode with “Easy” mode. Dig in deeper with “Sakura” mode, where you must focus on clearing special jeweled blocks in order to succeed. “Master” mode offers classic Tetris with the chance to become promoted (or demoted) with occasional challenge trials. You can try to make it to Grand Master, but don’t forget about the uniquely difficult “Shirase” mode, where the blocks appear almost immediately at the bottom of the screen, giving you mere moments to react and place them properly! Tetris: TGM3 is not often seen in the U.S., and it’s got quite a reputation among serious Tetris players.

So, when it comes to dropping blocks, there’s more than one difference between these two entries in the most successful puzzle game franchise ever. Which game do you prefer: The world-traveling action of Tetris Plus, or the intense strategy of Tetris: TGM3? You’ve got from today through Wednesday

Micropalooza XII: Live Chiptune Showcase & Official PRGE After Party – Sunday 10/18, 8pm

Micropalooza XIIPortland Retro Gaming Expo is one of our favorite shows every year, so it’s only fitting that we close the weekend out with one of our favorite events: Micropalooza! Our live chiptune showcase returns with Micropalooza XII, an absolutely epic show with special guest Brent Weinbach!

For 12 years strong, Micropalooza has brought the best chiptune artists in the Pacific NW and beyond to decimate Ground Kontrol with a wide variety of music composed and performed with the help of retro video game hardware. What was once used to compose the background music for your favorite NES games is now armed to take center stage!

Portland chiptune legend Mechlo is joined by Glooms, boaconstructor,Fighter X, Tonight We Launch, greightbit.com and DJ Mr. Smith to keep the party going all night. And since straight-up VGM is still inspiring and awesome; comedian and game collector Brent Weinbach (of The Legacy Music Hour) is going to drop in for a special DJ set of pure video game classics!

Whether you’re a classic gaming fan, a chiptune freak, or just want to be a part of what’s sure to be the most unique show in Portland all month, you need to be at Micropalooza XII!

WHAT: Micropalooza XII: Official Portland Retro Gaming Expo After Party

WHEN: Sunday 10/18 · 8pm

COVER: $5 · 21+ only

Categories: Arcade News

New in the Arcade: NFL Blitz 2000 Gold & NBA ShowTime Combo Cabinet

NFL Blitz 2000 Gold & NBA ShowTimeDuring the 90s, Midway had a great thing going with their pair of action sports titles. It started with NBA Jam and its loose, 2-on-2 free for all gameplay. The appeal of these games was a simple, easy to pick up and play answer to sports, with minimal fouls and rules. With the great success of NBA Jam, NFL Blitz arrived as a football version of that great, simple way to play. NFL Blitz was also very successful, meriting several editions and updates. Jam saw its own share of different versions, eventually becoming NBA Hangtime and finally NBA Showtime, which is noteworthy for its NBC branding and its addition of 3D graphics. Showtime is essentially the same kind of game as the original Jam, with a few minor tweaks. A basic foul system was introduced for Showtime that includes a free throw penalty opportunity. Each team has an expanded roster, with several NBA greats to choose from at both the start and the halftime of each game.

As for NFL Blitz, this edition, 2000 Gold, was the last version of Blitz to get a proper arcade release. This means that all of the additional secrets, tricks and animations made it in to this fully updated and refined version of the game. The rowdy and stripped down football rules are in full effect here, for the best Blitz experience available in the arcade. Not long after this release, Blitz went console only.
This multicabinet really is a great collection of Midway’s well-made and fun to play sports titles. Though it was the late nineties and arcade gaming was entering a somewhat dormant period, the decade’s best action sports games made it in to one awesome cabinet to finish out a great arcade run for both titles. Grab a friend and get your NFL or NBA fix, in one convenient cabinet!

Indie Game Night: 2 by 2 Edition – Thursday 9/24

Indie Game NightIndie Game Night is your chance to try unique and innovative (and often retro-inspired) games that were developed independently by small and passionate teams!
Every Last Thursday, host and GameMaster Rich Lau sets up a variety of games for you to play, absolutely FREE! This month, we’ve got two intense actiongames!
Assault Android Cactus (Witch Beam) is a twin-stick shooter (think Robotron: 2084) in a sci-fi setting. Take on hordes of enemies in transforming stages as you control an assault-class android named, you guessed it, Cactus!
Knight Squad (Chainawesome Games) combines the frantic gameplay of Bomberman with the fantasy-inspired maze-crawling of Gauntlet for a totally new competitive sword (or drill, or laser, or bow and arrow) fight with your friends.
Come down to Ground Kontrol to check out these and more indie game surprises, free! Hang back with a drink and a snack to watch the chaos, and jump in any time you’d like. It’s all about bringing gamers together to try something new!
Indie Game Night: 2 by 2 Edition · Thursday 9/24 & every Last Thursday · 7pm · FREE · 21+

Raiders of the Lost Arcade – Tetris: The Grand Master 3 – Terror-Instinct

Tetris:  The Grand  Master 3 - Terror-InstinctThe inexplicably titled Tetris Grand Master 3: Terror-Instinct is the latest in a series of Japanese tournament style Tetris arcade games. While there are many modern iterations of Tetris in play today, the Grand Master series takes the competitive aspect to a whole new level, and commands the true skill of a high level twitch player.

Someone best acquainted with those timeless editions of Tetris from the NES or Game Boy will be familiar enough with the basic Tetris gameplay here, but the levels of speed with which the “tetriminos” drop is on a different scale. Instead of the basic level up scheme found in the older games, the Grand Master series employs a much finer set of levels, from 1 to 999. Additionally, these speed increases occur often, at just about every move the player makes. The result is an incredibly fast, hyped up Tetris game with the blazing speed and high skills found in the Japanese arcade scene.

The player also earns a grade, something not unlike a chess rank or a bowling average, for competition placement and bragging rights. The highest grade in the game, and the ultimate goal, is that of Grand Master. At the time of writing, only six people in the world have ever achieved Grandmaster, and witnessing one of these runs is a sight to behold.

It doesn’t take long to get used to this new, crazy fast type of Tetris, and suddenly your old school game will feel antiquated and slow. That’s a good thing though, as a good round of Tetris Grand Master is a rush intense enough to make this classic feel like a whole new game!

Did You Know?

  • Achieving Grandmaster involves a quick round of invisible Tetris, where the pieces fall at their highest speed, and become invisible when they land! Geez.

Killer Queen Monthly Mixer Sponsored by Brew. Dr. Kombucha – Sunday 9/6, 7pm


Typically, our Killer Queen Monthly Mixer offers a fun and casual environment to play Killer Queen and learn strategy from other players. This month, our last mixer of the tournament is also offering prizes and product samples courtesy of Brew Dr. Kombucha!

Register for the tournament, and you’ll be invited to sample the variety of flavors offered by Brew Dr. Kombucha. Each one is 100% raw, certified organic and craft-brewed in Oregon. Whether you love “Love” or prefer a to keep a “Clear Mind” for berry running, you’ll find something you like among their 9 unique flavors.

Once registration is closed, randomly drawn teams of five will compete in best-of-three matches. If there are five teams or fewer, the tournament will be run Round Robin style. If there are six or more, the tournament will be Double Elimination. All matches start on day map, but the losing team of the last game can pick the level in the next game.
Registration is from 7pm to 8pm SHARP. The tournament organizer, Dylan, will not take any names after 8pm. Once the list is full, we’ll start drawing colors. Please return to the table at 8pm to draw your color and meet your teammates. We will allow ~15 minutes for everyone to get situated and organized before the first game will start.

One card of each color will have a Q on it. This means that player is the team’s designated queen. If you draw a Q and DO NOT WANT to play queen for ANY REASON, you can put it back and draw a new card.

This tournament is designed for people to make new friends in the KQ community! Competition is certainly encouraged, but this is a bit more of a social event. All skill levels are welcome and encouraged! Best of all, playing is completely free.

The top winning teams will receive Brew Dr. Kombucha to take home!

Don’t forget, Ground Kontrol serves draft beer, draft cider, PBR, Tecate, Coors Light and well cocktails at happy hour prices from 5pm-midnight every Sunday! Be sure to join Killer Queen Mercury Squad Portland to keep up with fellow players, special events and bee puns!

WHAT: Killer Queen Monthly Mixer Tournament Sponsored by Brew Dr. Kombucha
WHEN: Sunday 9/6. Registration opens at 7pm, first match begins at 8pm. Killer Queen Monthly Mixer repeats every First Sunday.
COVER: Free! 21+ only w/ ID.

Clash of the Classics – Robotron: 2084 VS. Congo Bongo

The end of the summer brings with it many difficult realities: Returning to school, saying farewell to sunny weather, and, most importantly: Choosing between two classic arcade games to remain on the floor at Ground Kontrol! This month, Clash of the Classics pits two very different titles against each other: The multi-directional mayhem of Robotron: 2084 is challenged by the pseudo-3D platforming of Congo Bongo!

Released in 1982 by Williams, Robotron: 2084 has an extremely strong pedigree. Designed and programmed by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, Robotron hit arcades years before “twin stick shooter” was a common descriptor for a style of video game. While the style of game play may have first been seen in Taito’s Gun Fight (1975), Robotron was the first arcade game to really make an impact with the unique control scheme – one joystick controlled player movement, the other your attack’s direction. Moving in any direction and shooting in any direction was as easy as rotating each joystick whichever way you needed to escape enemies closing in, or launch an attack. Playing the titular Robotron, your mission is to “save the last human family” from robotic apocalypse. You fire and move in eight directions, and the on-screen guidance is minimal, leaving you to focus on the battle at hand. Destroy everything in sight, but don’t forget to rescue the wandering humans, especially before they’re brainwashed into hopeless “Progs”. Lauded as one of the best arcade games ever created as well as one of the most difficult, Robotron fits the classic mold of “easy to pick up, tough to master”, as the learning curve is essentially non-existent, while the difficulty ramps up just as quickly as your superhuman hero materializes on-screen.

Sega’s 1983 arcade platformer Congo Bongo was introduced to Ground Kontrol as a “Raiders of the Lost Arcade” title, and it’s the perfect example of one – a great game that’s hard to find, and nearly criminally under-appreciated. While on the surface, it seems like a Donkey Kong rip-off, Congo Bongo actually blends the game play and level design of a few landmark arcade titles to create a new experience. You’re the nameless Hunter, and the game starts with a brief scene in which you’re rudely awakened by a hot foot delivered by the game’s titular aggressive ape. From there, your mission is simple: Find him, and take revenge! This isn’t a hyper-violent vengeance story, though – you really just need to avoid his animal allies and catch him snoozing, so you can return the favor. The psuedo-3D isometric angle makes this game stand out, and the graphics are genuinely impressive for the year – take a look at this game, and compare it to Nintendo’s notable 1983 titles, Mario Bros. and Punch-Out!! – Congo Bongo just looks better! Elements of Frogger and Donkey Kong in particular make this game feel familiar. As a platformer, it’s not the tightest, but once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to not drop “just one more” quarter to perfect your next play-through or beat your high score.

So, your September challenge is this: Decide whether you’d rather retain the non-stop intensity of Robotron, or the charming and careful platforming of Congo Bongo. How do you make a choice? Well, by dropping a quarter in one or both games and inviting your friends and fellow arcade fans to do the same! From Thursday 9/3 through Wednesday 9/9, we’ll monitor each game’s earnings. At the end of the challenge, a winner will be decided – and the loser will be temporarily retired. It’s the Clash of the Classics, and it starts… Now!

No Pun Intendo – Stand-Up Comedy Night & MFNW Giveaway – Thursday 8/20, 9pm

No Pun Intendo - AugustStand-Up Comics & Stand-Up Games! Every Third Thursday, No Pun Intendo brings fantastic comedians to our lounge! Plus – tonight, we’re giving away free passes to Musicfest NW and copies of hilarious books from The Devastator!

Each month, we feature fantastic comics from Portland & beyond. This month’s lineup:

Ben Harkins
Jason Van Glass
Scoot Herring
Caitlin Weierhauser
Anthony Lopez

Hosted by Portland’s Funniest Person 2014, Steven Wilber!

Just $3 at the door to support local comedy at your favorite arcade-slash-bar! Show starts at 9pm. It’s 21+, so bring your I.D.!

We’d like to thank our sponsor The Devastator – Funny Books for Humans – the only all-comedy publisher featuring writers and artists from Adult Swim, The Onion, The Daily Show and Marvel Comics. Pick up their books at your comic book shop of choice, Amazon or direct from http://devastatorpress.com/

All Ages Free Play Party – Back to School Blast! Wednesday 8/26, 11am-5pm

It’s almost time to go back to school, but not before one more All Ages Free Play Party!

Bring the entire family down for a day of Classic Gaming 101 with an A+ lineup of arcade and pinball games, all set to play with no quarters necessary. Our full food menu will be available, too, so take a break with a hot dog, nachos or grilled cheese fixed just how you like it, and cool off after an intense bout of DDR with a root beer float.

We know back-to-school shopping can be expensive, so all we’re asking at the door is $5 per person – and gamers 3 years or younger get in FREE with their parent or guardian’s paid admission!

Refresh your puzzle-solving skills with Tetris Plus, enroll in Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters with 6-player X-Men, or travel the world while defending the human race from marauding Martians in Attack From Mars pinball. There’s plenty to learn at the arcade!

Over 90 arcade games and pinball tables, delicious snacks (with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options), cold soft drinks and house-made cold-brew coffee: It’s a crash course in arcade gaming!

WHAT: All Ages Free Play Party – Back to School Blast!

WHEN: Wednesday, August 26. Doors open at 11am. Minors are welcome until 4:50pm.

COVER: Just $5 at the door! Gamers 3 years or younger get in FREE with their parent or guardian’s paid admission. Access depends on capacity: If we’re full, we’ll have to hold a line at the door, so arrive early!

Raiders of the Lost Arcade: Congo Bongo

Congo BongoThis month, we’re featuring a rarely-seen Sega classic: 1983’s Congo Bongo!

Each of the four levels in Congo Bongo provides some variety to make up a fun, interesting title. While obviously influenced by Donkey Kong, Congo Bongo also draws from Sega’s own Frogger, and arranges it all in a 3D type platformer, with a perspective similar to a game like Marble Madness.

When starting the game, the player is treated to a short cinema of a mischievous monkey pranking our hero with a “hot foot.” This kicks off the gameplay where a vengeful explorer must ascend a mountain ridge, dodging coconuts hurled by the gorilla foe. Smaller monkies, snakes and rhinos join the fray, each of them difficult to dodge. By the fourth stage, the Frogger influence is very obvious, where our hero must traverse a busy stream, populated by logs and hippos. To finish his journey, the player gets revenge, returning the fiery favor from the opening screen.

Difficulty increases as the game progresses, bringing us back to the first screen to start the adventure all over again. Congo Bongo is a playful, amusing title that was early to utilize the isometric perspective, in a time before such a scheme was more common. Fans of Donkey Kong, Frogger, and the colorful classic appeal of Sega’s arcade titles should feel right at home in this wacky jungle adventure!