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002 - Iron Soldier 2 (CD)

Iron Soldier 2
Published: 1997 by Telegames
Developed by Eclipse Software Design   Iron Solidier 2 (IS2) is one of six completed Jaguar games that Telegames published under license from Atari following Atari Corporation's reverse merger with JTS. As the name implies, IS2 is the direct sequel to the 1994 Jaguar title Iron Soldier, a fan favorite among Jaguar owners. In fact, I believe IS2 is one of only two commercially released sequels to first gen Jaguar games to appear on the platform. Like the original, IS2 is a Jaguar exclusive in which the player operates a lumbering, giant mech from a first person perspective, free-roaming in a 3D polygonal world. Beyond that, IS2 improves on the original in nearly every way, including: more and deeper missions, more enemies, more weapons, improved graphics and full CD audio. Telegames released IS2 on both cartridge and CD format. The CD version is the subject of this post.   I actually pre-ordered IS2 from Telegames and received the gold CD-R version. As I recall, this was due to issues they were having with the glass masters. I sold that original copy a few years later along with most of my Jaguar games. When I set out to collect again in 2010, this was one of the first CD games I picked up.   Graphics: For anyone who has played Iron Soldier, IS2 will look very familiar. Stylistically, the sequel uses many of the same simple polygonal landscapes and structures found in the original - fuel depots, factories, skyscrapers, etc. The buildings are generally unimpressive but they do have texture mapped surfaces this time around. Enemy models on the other hand - particularly the tanks and helicopters - are very detailed and are much improved from the original. So too are the explosions. Already cool in Iron Soldier, the fiery polygonal explosions in IS2 are probably the best on the Jaguar. The CD version of IS2 also has an FMV intro and death scene. The FMV is not great but it's not bad. Unfortunately, there is no way to skip through the death sequence - which is a shame because, if you're like me, you'll be seeing it a lot.   Sound/Music: The CD audio in IS2 is used to its fullest. It features compelling explosions, rumbles, gunfire and whooshing rockets. By and large, the sound effects are great. The in-game music on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag. When it's good, it's really good with atmospheric techno and rock that fits the battle at hand. However, sometimes the ingame music is at odds with the atmosphere. Soft, almost meditative tunes accompany the onscreen devastation. While I can appreciate the variety, the vibe on some of these softer tracks is just too weird. Eclipse and Atari should have stuck with darker themed, driving electronic and/or rock music that better matches the game's combative themes.   Gameplay: IS2 features gameplay that is nearly identical to the original. You pilot your lumbering, 42-foot mech - called an Iron Soldier - through various cityscapes on a mission to thwart the evil Penta Corporation. I say lumbering because the pace is a bit slow. Giant robot slow! There are 20 missions which range from convoy escort, to building protection to leveling entire cities! Missions are unlocked five at a time and while it seems like there is variety - you essentially spend the entire time destroying buildings, tanks, helicopters and enemy mechs. Health, ammo and weapons are available in crates found in the rubble of destroyed buildings.   Control takes some getting used to. You press the A button and up or down on the D-pad to move forward or in reverse. Once in motion, you can use the d-pad to aim in 180 degrees while continuing on your path. If you want to turn the mech, you'll need to hold down the C button while moving the D-pad. This sounds trickier than it is and once you get the hang of it, it seems a fittingly awkward way to steer a giant robot. Weapons fire/action is triggered with the B button.   Speaking of weapons, there are lots of them! You start the game with an assault rifle, grenades and a chainsaw selectable. New weapons, including, a Gatling gun, heavy shield and cruise missile, are added as you progress. Weapons selection is made using the Jaguar keypad. The game does not come with an overlay but the weapons selection is easy to pick up. According to the manual there are 13 weapons in all. Unfortunately, I didn't see them all in this go around. IS2 is a beast!   While the game plays almost exactly like the original, the difficulty level in IS2 is markedly higher. I have completed Iron Soldier multiple times but have yet to beat IS2. I put this down to a combination of factors. First, the missions are more challenging. The type of missions that you encounter at the start of IS2 were at the end of the original. Clearly the developers were trying to provide Iron Soldier veterans with more of the same but harder. Secondly, mission objectives aren't always clear. I often spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how to approach a mission, with my delay sometimes resulting in mission failure. This was particularly true of the protection missions. It can be frustrating.   Overall: Iron Soldier 2 is a solid update to the Jaguar original. Its more of the same, but when you're talking Iron Soldier, that's not a bad thing! Improving - albeit slightly - on the graphics, size and variety of its predecessor, IS2 is an example of Jaguar 3D gaming at its best.   Final verdict: If you were a fan of the original, I highly recommend IS2. It's a challenging game that will keep you coming back for more. If you didn't like the original, pass.   Thanks for reading and please share your Iron Soldier 2 opinions in the comments!   The next game is: Pinball Fantasies

atarilbc

atarilbc

 

My YouTube Channel

As some of you may have read in a post on Atari.IO somewhere I am trying to adventure into the world of making videos. My main goal is to have an easier method of expressing my thoughts and adventures surrounding video games. And I've had a YouTube Channel since 2011 with no real reason to have one. The only reason why I had it was because I had a racing game on my first gen iPad I got for college that saved replays on YouTube. You couldn't save replays any other way so I created a YouTube account just for that. One of the replays is below...and I used touch controls instead of tilting the iPad.     So...I created a new opening I plan to use on all my videos and I am presenting it here. I have yet to make any real content but I think I might have figured out what I want my channel to be about and how I am going to present it. Without further ado I present the opening here. This was created with a trial version of Bluff Titler which is why you will see "DEMO" on the last portions of the video.     Any other videos on my channel (mostly those used for college) will be getting removed as they have nothing to do with video games. So...bye bye old videos!   As always feedback is welcomed and Atari.IO will be my main link for any YouTube subscribers to my channel to communicate with me. I don't want to make my own website and I'm not a huge fan of Facebook or Twitter. I feel that it would be simply too much to try to keep up with any comments on all sites. So I plan to stick with here and YouTube for communications. I also feel it might bring more members to Atari.IO.   I still have some gear I will need to get eventually as I still have no way to capture game play from the game hardware yet. I will have to work on that in time. I'm starting simple with at least an HD webcam that is capable of 720p in Widescreen...so that's a start. I'm not going to try to do too much too soon. I am curious to see where it heads and would rather build up over time instead having too much on my hands before I know what's going on.   I hope that people will like what I am doing with my YouTube channel as I really have no idea what I'm doing in the first place. But I'm going to try to do my best.   Here's to 2017 and I hope we can make it a great year for video gaming! Thanks to those who read my posts and taking interest in my writings. I am hoping to bring that formula over to the videos I create. I look forward to hearing feedback about my videos and their content.   See ya around!

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

001 - Bubsy In: Fractured Furry Tales

Bubsy In: Fractured Furry Tales
Published: 1994 by Atari
Developed by Imagitec Design, Inc.   Bubsy In: Fractured Furry Tales is a Jaguar exclusive installment in the Bubsy series, published by Atari under license from Accolade. For the uninitiated, Bubsy is a wisecracking bobcat that runs, glides and bounces his way through hazard laden levels. The game departs from the main Bubsy franchise, which pits Bubsy against yarn obsessed space aliens, and instead places our orange hero in various fairy tale settings like Alice In Wonderland and Jack and the Beanstalk. For his Jaguar outing, Bubsy retains his trademark early 90s attitude from the Genesis and SNES titles. Play mechanics and death animations are also largely unchanged from the first Bubsy game.   Graphics:
Bubsy comes to life in bright, colorful and sharp 2D style on the Jaguar. While it is certainly not a generational leap from its 16-bit predecessors, Fractured Furry Tales looks great. The colors seem somewhat richer and deeper than in the earlier games, likely due to the Jaguar's enhanced color palette. Bubsy himself looks fantastic and the design of the enemy character sprites is fittingly whimsical.   Sound:
The sound effects and in-game music are good. In-game effects are typical platformer boings and pops. The music is competent and fits the levels. It's not memorable in the way that the very best platform music is but it does the job.   Gameplay:
In Fractured Furry Tales, Bubsy runs through each level - called chapters - killing enemies and collecting brightly colored orbs until reaching an exit. To get through each board, Bubsy uses three main moves: jump, glide and look. These are mostly intuitive and largely work as you'd expect. You kill enemies by jumping on them with the B button. Hopping from surface to surface is generally easy. Run, jump and hold A to glide across water and other hazards. Look seems like an odd "move" but trust me, it's needed.   You start the game with nine lives and its not just because you're a bobcat. It's because you will die. A LOT. Bubsy limits you to one hit and it is unforgiving. Enemies can sometimes blend in with the scenery (I'm looking at you rattle snake) and/or are placed in such a way that they're easy to run into. Bubsy also tends to flop around a bit, making it easy to kill one enemy only to haphazardly bounce into another enemy, often just off screen. Because of this, it is necessary to take it slow and look before leaping. If you want to make it past Chapter One, you will find yourself stopping and holding the C button to check your surroundings before moving on. It really is the only way that I found to avoid frustratingly cheap deaths. Patience is rewarded.   The level design in Bubsy is non-linear and the levels are not particularly intuitive. It was not always clear where I needed to go to advance in the game. The levels are also pretty huge! It's easy to get turned around. I guess that I prefer a little more direction in my platform games.   Overall:
Fractured Furry Tales is a great looking title with a lot of potential. The bright colors, fairy tale theme and whimsical characters work well. Unfortunately, the sprawling levels combine with the unforgiving one-hit death and poor enemy placement to make the game more frustrating than it needs to be. The challenge in Bubsy comes from design flaws, not from a need for precision and timing. Still, this is a game I dust off pretty regularly - at least a few times a year - just to see if I get any better. It's not a great game but, for me, it's oddly compelling. Maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment?   Final verdict: If the occasional cheap death is not your thing, pass. However, if you like quirky, colorful platformers and don't mind dying, give Fractured Furry Tales a try.   Thanks for reading and please share your Bubsy opinions in the comments!   The next games is: Iron Soldier II (CD)  

atarilbc

atarilbc

 

Post 000 - An Introduction

Welcome to what I hope is the first of many entries in The Gaming Notebook. In this blog, I will share my thoughts and impressions on various games. The point of this exercise is to reacquaint myself with some of the lesser played titles in my collection.   The main focus of this blog will be Jaguar gaming. I have been playing Jaguar since late 1994 and have a complete retail collection, the majority of post-JTS releases and many homebrews. At last count, this equates to 82 Jaguar games! That said, from time to time I might throw in a non-Jaguar title.   A few notes:   1) I will not be playing the games in chronological order. Instead, games will be selected randomly using Excel.   2) I will play each game featured for at least two hours. I feel that this is sufficient to get a good impression of the game. I have no doubt that I'll play some of these for much longer.   3) I don't intend to get into the minutiae of a game's history, development and contemporary reviews. Other platforms do a fantastic job at that. This is just my personal take on these games from a player's perspective.   4) Feel free to comment and share your own gameplay impressions. I only ask that you've actually played the game on real hardware.   That's all for now. I hope that you check in from time to time!   The first game to be featured will be: Bubsy In Fractured Furry Tales  

atarilbc

atarilbc

 

2016 Atari VCS/2600 homebrews list

This is just this year and just for the Atari VCS/2600.............
2016
Homebrews released
Jan 10, 2016 - Upp! (Jason Santuci "theloon") - self published {sold thru Etsy} SOLD OUT
Jan 28, 2016 - Pigs in the Castle (Rudy J. Ferretti) - self published
Jan 28, 2016 - Checked Inn (Rudy J. Ferretti) - self published
Jan 31, 2016 - Coke Zero <NTSC version> (Thomas Jentzsch) - AtariAge blog
Feb 15, 2016 - Upp!+ - Jason Santuci/self published (contains small feature changes and improvements){sold thru Etsy} SOLD OUT
Apr 2, 2016 (@ 2016 Cowlitz Gamers Show) - ature (2016 re-release) ("Beoran") SOLD OUT
May 22, 2016 - Starfleet Simulation (Mr SQL) {Supercharger cassette} - self published
June 1-30, 2016 (on KS) - Conjoined - Jason Santuci/Joe Grisaffi - based from the movie "Conjoined"/AtariAge - Kickstarter
June 22, 2016 - A New Marauder (Darcio Prestes & Leandro Camara) - MoreWork.com.br
July 23, 2016 - Anguna (Nathan Tolbert/Bite the Chili games) AtariAge forum
Aug 8, 2016 - Space Warfare (AskewTV) AtariAge forum
Aug 23, 2016 - Bigfoot: Family Search (Bobby Alexander/Jason Santuci) Kickstarter
Sept 17, 2016 - Super Trash Truck - Sadai Games Corp./Collectorvision
Oct 9, 2016 - Polybius - Lost Classics (2nd issue) pre-orders started
Oct 10, 2016 - Boss - (Dave Vogt & Jason Santuci w/Gemintronic) - Indiegogo
Oct 15, 2016 - Alien Ooze - (Scott Dayton w/NEO Games) - "Atari 2600 Homebrew" Facebook group
Auctioned off at 2016 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - The End - Lost Classics
At 2016 Free Play Florida Expo - E.T. After Dark, Shoot Shit, Space Invaders Free Play Florida, Godzilla - NEO Games
Dec 18, 2016 - Naughty List (mini game from the 2014 The Byte Before Christmas multicart) - AtariAge forums   Hacks released
Apr 1, 2016 - Fixing the Tempest proto (hack of the Atari prototype Tempest)
Apr 14, 2016 - Trump Invaders (hack of Space Invaders)
Apr 15, 2016 - Hillary Invaders (hack of Space Invaders)
May 10, 2016 - Dragster: The Duel {hack} - Scott Dayton - limited to 20 copies
May 22, 2016 - Ms. Pac-Man Improvements
June 5, 2016 - Plaque Attack TB (trak-ball compatible version of Plaque Attack)
July 2, 2016 - Star Tunnel - Scott Dayton (30 copies only - 15 of each Life/Death label) $30 - thru Facebook
Aug 9, 2016 - Pac Rock - AskenTV (AtariAge forum)
Aug 10, 2016 - Night Grand Prix - Atarius Maximus (AtariAge forum)
Dec 8, 2016 - Budweiser Tapper - alex_79 (AtariAge forum)
Dec. 11, 2016 - Santa's Helper 2016 (Kaboom! hack) - Scott Dayton [exclusive thru "Atari 2600 Homebrew" FB group]
Dec 17, 2016 - Donkey Kong Christmas - neotokeo2001 (AtariAge forum)
Dec 18, 2016 - Santa Falls - neotokeo2001 (AtariAge forum)
Dec 18, 2016 - Bad Elf 2016 - neotokeo2001 (AtariAge forum)
Dec 22, 2016 - Atlantis Man - Out_of_Gas (AtariAge forums)   Releasing Soon (actual software)
Demo'd At 2016 PRGE/releasing soon - Scramble, The Stacks, Anguna 2600, Drive!, Assembloids 2600,
L.E.M., Golden Legends (Gauntlet 2600), The Gizzle Wap and The Strange Red Tree - AtariAge
Soon - Dark Cavern (hack) - Scott Dayton
Soon - Fire Ants - ComiSoft Inc.
Soon - Twist'r-Shark (was "Sharknado") - NeoGames
Soon - Balloon Girl - Jason Santuci
Soon - Legends - Scott Dayton
??? - Alien Greed: Return of Charles - NeoGames
??? - RAM-Pong - Packrat Games
??? (carts signed Feb 2015) - Demons (based on the 1985 movie) - NeoGames
On Hold - Tunnels & Trolls - Jason Santuci
??? - Zombie Road Kill - Scott Dayton
??? - Aaron the Aant - Chris Read/2600Connection
previewed at 2015 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - The Stacks, Panky the Panda - AtariAge
WIP - Laughing Boy - Jason Santuci/AtariAge
WIP - D.K. VCS, DK Arcade 2600, Pac Man 8k, Wizard of Wor 2: The Arena - AtariAge
Future project - Colony 7 TB (Trak-Ball version) - Thomas Jentzsch   WIP (work in progress during 2016)
May 31 2015 - Shadow of the Colossus VCS - back working on it
Jul 6 2015 - Street Fight World - back working on it
Nov 13 2015 - Scramble 2600 (port) - releasing Oct 2016
Dec 3 2015 - Project Eden (2nd attempt)- back working on it
Dec 15 2015 - ChaoticGrill (port of Burgertime)
Dec 18 2015 - Jet!
Dec 21 2015 - Scrollanoid
Dec 27 2015 - Save Earth Complete
Jan 5 2016 - Super Mario 64 2600 (port) - back working on it
Jan 8 2016 - Anguna - completed 7/23/16
Jan 19 2016 - Dragster EX Pro (hack)
Jan 28 2016 - Wal-Rush!
Jan 29 2016 - StarBlitz
Jan 30 2016 - Bird Poop!
Feb 18 2016 - Adventures of the 50 Foot Tall Stalk of Celery - back working on it
Feb 20 2016 - Taxi Panic!
Mar 8 2016 - Drive! - release soon/label design done
Mar 10 2016 - Breakout Clone
Mar 15 2016 - Cat and Mouse
Mar 18 2016 - Ohio Jay and the Last Supper Goblet
Mar 19 2016 - Xybots 2600 remake
Apr 1 2016 - Protocol
Apr 20 2016 - Muppy The Bunny: Light V.S Dark
Apr 25 2016 - JumpBall
Apr 26 2016 - Railslider
May 15 2016 - Star Tunnel - released
May 27 2016 - Gyvolver - back working on it from 2012
May 28 2016 - Bananas Are Good (2K) - finished 6/2/16
June 2 2016 - Bananas Are Good 4K (2 player version)
June 9 2016 - Raindrop
June 11 2016 - Hello World! (demo)
June 16 2016 - Dodgeball
July 9 2016 - The Celery Game
July 10 2016 - Grand Strategy
July 11 2016 - Plasma (demo)
July 13 2016 - Canflag (demo)
July 23 2016 - Color Gotcha 2600
July 25 2016 - King of Mersia
July 27 2016 - Donkey Kong 2: Pauline's Revenge
July 29 2016 - Alien Jail
Aug 2 2016 - Haunted House III: Slashers
Aug 13 2016 - Battle Pong
Aug 16 2016 - Nuka Break
Aug 19 2016 - KickMan (Unicycle Balloon Kicker)
Aug 22 2016 - Spazer
Aug 27 2016 - Spaceman Splorf
Sept 8 2016 - Tie Fighter
Sept 14 2016 - denial '77
Sept 19 2016 - Rock Concert
Sept 22 2016 - Pac_Man Eat n Run
Sept 27 2016 - Neon Run
Oct 3 2016 - "I Hate Vegetables!"
Oct 7 2016 - Hugohunt
Oct 16 2016 - Ms. Galactopus
Oct 25 2016 - Asteroid Escape
Oct 26 2016 - T-Rex
Oct 27 2016 - Berzerk 3D
Nov 10 2016 - Space Car '78
Nov 17 2016 - Bubble Burst
Nov 19 2016 - Polarium - back working on it from 2010
Nov 30 2016 - Moon Master
Dec 1 2016 - The Gizzle Wap and the great Blizzard
Dec 4 2016 - Aardvark
Dec 7 2016 - Golf 2600
Dec 7 2016 - Mine Dig
Dec 12 2016 - Silver Bells (DPC+ demo music)
Dec 18 2016 - City Bomber
Dec 25 2016 - Sunset Forest Rider
Dec 30 2016 - Kuru Kuru Tsuchinoko
Dec 31 2016 - Dominant Amber (2600)

Arenafoot

Arenafoot

 

Character Rendering Ideas for Jaguar Sidescroller

Seeing as how fast it is to create photo realistic renders in about 30 seconds per frame, I figured it would be interesting to attempt a very short animation of a female character, meant for possibly a sidescroller:     ... things like this make me think of Donkey Kong Country and just how incredible it was for the SNES. I've always felt that something similar could have been done on the Jaguar, just not at the time due to the rendering requirements involved. Things have changed... and with TRF being in the light again and realizing how easy fighting games could be with rendered scenes, making up a slew of characters with various animations could be done very quickly and easily. Take this scene for example in a jungle like setting:     Then I feel characters like this could fill the scene (the red area is panning space left and right)     Not really sure what you could do with a 6MB ROM with this sort of thing, but I imagine it would have to be an extremely limited amount of characters and/or scenes if that were the case. Going the JagCD route would almost be mandatory in a sense or maybe a combination thereof utilizing both 6MB cart for character data/assets and Jaguar CD to load backdrops and other scenes that aren't required to be loaded so much in realtime.   and just to show what the original character I started out with looks like in hi-res:  

Clint Thompson

Clint Thompson

 

First real render since Bryce in the 90s and Roland 2080

Modern rendering capabilities have far exceed beyond imagination of what was possible in the early 90s and I find it interesting to take the idea of using everything currently available and incorporate that into some sort of game for a much older system. In this case, the Atari Jaguar.   After about 3 test renders, I was able to make a few more for a quick idea/view of what's possible and am really excited at the possibilities here.  


  The renders aren't complete but give you a quick idea of what a 30-45 minute render is capable of. The idea is to use various scenes and models in a somewhat silently being developed or worked on in the background game, Midsummer Dreams. I would love to have 64-characters and an endless amount of scenes but I think the realistic target range will be between 12-16.   On the flipside in regards to music - The Roland JV 1080 synthesizer was one of the well known items used to create the music in the award winning Tempest 2000 soundtrack and I finally have one coming my way, only a slightly better version. The Roland 2080 with up to 8 expansion modules, MIDI controlled by a Roland S50 and ultimately programmed using an Atari STe. Look forward to diving head first into all of that and see what I can come up with for this game. It's all just for fun but it's still a blast to do and is a nice hobby on the side.  

Clint Thompson

Clint Thompson

 

Nintendo Entertainment System

For my 13th birthday, in 1987, my mother picked up a game system I never knew nor heard of. It just mysteriously appeared. For I had unwrapped a game console that would forever change the way I perceived video games. That gift was the Nintendo Entertainment System. At first I didn't like the controllers because there was no joystick. In a joystick's place was this "thing" that controlled on-screen movement of a playable character or other image. Then again when the only games you have are Gyromite and Duck Hunt the controllers really didn't get a chance to show their worth until a while later.   Mom and I were living with my grandparents, her parents, and the town had barely 2,000 people. Mom had got the system from the only video rental store in town at that time on a payment plan. And with every payment she made I got a ticket to rent a game. So the controllers eventually got to prove how good they really were. This is when I would come across games I would eventually declare as the best on the system. These games include Gradius, Castlevania, and most of the initial issue titles. As much as others enjoy it I am really not a huge Donkey Kong fan but the NES really got a spot-on port of that one. Really well done.   It took us (Mom and I) month after month to locate a single copy of Super Mario Brothers. That game was very hard to come by. But...I wasn't too worried because I had come across a different game one time while paying a visit to the hometown's Wal-Mart. As luck would have it I was planning to spend the weekend with my Grandmother in my hometown and my NES was back at the other grandparents' house. But, this visit scored me what I am assuming was an initial release of the adventure game everyone would talk about decades later as well as spawn a huge franchise with a large fan base following. Zelda had made it to store shelves.   I had to sit for an entire weekend admiring a game I had no way of playing. I took the game out of the box, read the instructions front to back, read the back of the box, rinse and repeat, over and over. Mom could not have come to pick me up any sooner. But, once back to my NES I didn't hesitate one second. I made a bee line to the system which was setup in the room we were sleeping in. On went the TV, in went Zelda. I started my adventure not realizing just how involved this game would become.   At school I could hear others talking about the game I picked up over the weekend. Some were getting stuck in areas I had not reached yet. One couldn't find the first dungeon. Mom and I paid a visit to one of her friends who's son was a friend in school. He also had Zelda and we spent a few hours on that game trying to get through dungeon after dungeon. What was really happening was that the NES and Zelda had triggered video gamers to socialize about the games being played, how to beat this or that boss, and getting unstuck in troublesome levels. This was before Nintendo Power so the only thing left was pretty much word of mouth.   Once Mom and I moved back to my hometown there was a change in schools and atmosphere for sure but there was one thing that didn't change...the talk about the NES and its games. Call me weird or crazy, or both, but there was nothing I wanted to do more than stay at home and play Nintendo games. After school I would come home and spend time on it before doing my homework. On the weekend, if I wasn't sleeping, eating, using the bathroom, or doing something for my grandmother, or visiting my other grandparents (I love them dearly so don't get that wrong...I just don't know how else to word it), I was on the NES playing games.   The little console had revitalized video gaming on a massive scale. I still have one here that works without issues. Well...there are times it will do the screen flashing thing but that doesn't bother me. I just clean the carts and keep trying. I rarely blow on them.   For what it's worth I really owe a lot to the NES. The game play was addictive because once you had that latest game in your hand nothing else mattered except beating that game. If you got stuck you turned to a game magazine or call the hotlines at 99 cents a minute, give or take a few cents. You see, I was so involved with the NES that I didn't go out of the house much. I had no need to. I sat, in my room, playing video games. At the same time the NES was keeping me off the streets and out of trouble in a lot of ways. I might have gotten into trouble sometimes for not always doing my homework but I wasn't being arrested for being intoxicated or under the influence in public like some of my high school friends were. I didn't have a girlfriend because, now that I think about it, I was already married...to the video games. As crazy as that sounds that's pretty much how I was.   I still play the NES on a regular basis. As much as I love my Atari stuff the NES is the only non-Atari console that has a large place in my heart. It is a well balanced system with lots, and I mean LOTS, of games. If you've never had one before for one reason or another pick one up. Before you do, however, do your homework first and ask around about what games you should lookout for. Whatever you do don't compare the system and its games with modern stuff. The system and games have already proved their worth years ago...they should simply be enjoyed as they are.   To think that any gamer who lived and experienced the NES during its production run spent countless hours if not months or more on a single game just to beat it. With a few exceptions like Zelda had there really was not much of a way to save the game progress. You started and endured the challenges. Later the idea of writing down a password to save game progress was seen in most NES games like Metroid and Kid Icarus but if you got one character wrong, guess what...you had to start over again.   The real value of the NES is the overall package. The games, the system, the controller options, and I have never seen ALL of the NES games. There are sooo many that I would most likely need another lifetime to try them all. So...NES...solid entertainment that will challenge you. I would love to hear favorite games of other NES gamers so be sure to post those in the comments section below. Thank you for reading and I will return with more thoughts running in my head. Well...that might be a bit scary.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Mouse Trap (Atari 2600)

My first encounter with Mouse Trap, the video game and not the board game, was not until 2011 when I had, for a short time, a Colecovision console with some games. I ended up selling that off to help with holiday funds that same year. I would not see Mouse Trap again until about Spring 2016. This time the game would be for the granddaddy of all consoles...the Atari 2600.   Mouse Trap is a different take on the Pac-Man theme. The player controls a mouse that is hurrying to eat up all the cheese scattered about the house. Trying to keep our mouse from his rewards are three pesky cats who are hungry...and our mouse would make a perfect snack. To aid our mouse are "cheese enhancements" that can turn our mouse into a dog for a short amount of time, allowing the mouse to attack the cats. Sounds like a game that should have been called Tom and Jerry because it sounds like the game was based on those two cartoon mascots. So, in goes the game and on goes my 2600. The game starts instantly with a short tune.  
Mouse Trap on the 2600 is actually OK. Moving around the "house" I manage to get all the "cheese" without being eaten by a cat. Next round...same thing. I spent a good hour on this game getting all the cheese, turning into a dog when needed, eating cats, collecting "bones" to change into a dog, racking up points. I stopped once just to see what would happen and, guess what? The cats only move a short distance in a continuous loop. They only relocate when my character, the mouse, moves. Try it sometime. There is an invisible mode by moving the TV Type switch from color to black and white (B/W) which is very challenging but the rest is the same. After an hour I'm still going with plenty of extra lives left. With each round advance the cats move faster but it's not enough to take me out completely. Tired of playing I put down the controller.  
Mouse Trap is made well. I like the fact that I can alter the "house" design a bit by holding the fire button down. Areas in the maze can be moved to help alter the path the cats are taking. The colors in the game almost seem like those on the early computer systems that couldn't do graphics and had a monochrome monitor. Even with the cats being of a slight yellow color the game has that monochrome appearance. The only other color that is noticeable is when the mouse changes into a dog which changes the player from the same green as the maze to a brown color. The maze also changes to a pinkish-purple when the mouse is caught by a cat. The game does control well and sounds are not annoying.   Mouse Trap is a game that should be in a game library for a bit of a variety. However, once mastered it might not hold as much replay value as it did before being mastered. It is a fun game none the less and maintains an arcade feel that is easy to pick up and learn without instructions. I have the Atari release that Atari bought once Coleco left the video game market during the crash. And I am not sure if any changes were made during the ownership switch. Either way I recommend the game to offer a bit of variety in a 2600 collection.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Please Allow Me to Ramble

My apologies in advance for this post. You may think this is a strange place for this but I can't think of another outlet for it and I can make an Atari connection.   My stepfather is dying. Quickly. I'm not even sure if he's technically my stepfather, but he might as well be.   Growing up, I hated him. I realize hate is a strong word but I HATED him.   Now, I'm pretty devastated by this.   My parents divorced in 1979, when I was six. My mother remarried a true a-hole a year or two later. I'm not certain of the exact date but it was in my 2600 heyday. Those were not good times for me but that's not even worth sharing. They would be divorced by 1983. That's when she met the subject of this post.   She was working for the local newspaper in the classified department and he was the local dog warden. He would place ads for dogs they rounded up and they hit it off.   The summer before I started sixth grade (1984), they moved in together. (This would be my fifth different elementary school since kindergarten.) My disdain for him was immediate.   He had a son and daughter from a previous marriage. The daughter lived with her mom & would visit every other weekend. The son was a year older than me but we didn't get along that great.   He was ridiculously strict. It honestly felt like I was in prison. No candy, no soda, being sent to bed super-early, etc. There was one TV in the house & we had to watch whatever he wanted. (A vivid memory is me coming home from school, finding a cartoon to watch or even an afternoon playoff baseball game (Cubs/Padres), him driving in the driveway, eventually sitting down in his chair in front of the TV & snapping his fingers, demanding the cable box. He would promptly change the channel & eventually settle on some horrible kung fu movie.) My Atari, which I used to shuttle back & forth between my father's house & my mother's was no longer to be connected to the TV.   I remember him arguing with my Mom about my father. Things like the child support check, or him calling to talk to me, etc. Stuff that made me super uncomfortable.   The best times would come from when he would go play cards with his friends. I'd have a few hours with him not in the house but he would come home drunk. If everything would work out, I would be asleep before he came home.   My mom never married him but I'm not sure how the common-law marriage thing works in my state. Regardless, they never split up. He was present in my life until I graduated high school.   I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut & do whatever he ordered me to do. Chores, eating every last bite of foods I despised (I haven't eaten a pea in 25 years and I never will again.) He never hit me, although there were times I wish he did so I could find a way to leave. I used to fantasize about walking the 85 miles to my father's house, while not being exactly sure how to get there.   I do remember blowing up during my senior year of high school. I had a girlfriend (SHOCKING!) and he would limit my time on the phone with her. I don't remember exactly what happened but I remember being in my bedroom with the door shut and hearing him outside complaining about something. I threw a Trapper Keeper (or something similar, it was a notebook/folder) at my dresser, which left a mark. The details are hazy now, but I remember just finally yelling back at him. I knew my days of being under his thumb were almost over.   My escape from him was visiting my Dad every other weekend, vacations & summer. I can't even begin to describe how amazing it felt to be picked up on a Friday after school or Saturday morning. And the feeling of dread I had when I had to return...   Once I graduated high school, I went to a college close to where my Dad lived and I never looked back. To this day, I hate visiting the town where my Mom lives and I'm pretty certain it all stems from these experiences.   Since I left, I would visit my Mom & him on holidays, etc. He would always give me $100 for Christmas and our relationship became amicable. He seemed to love my daughter and she had no problems with him. Things were fine.   This past February, my Mom called me during the middle of the day, which was bizarre. I assumed it was bad news about her Mom, my amazing grandmother, who has Alzheimers and isn't in good shape. It wasn't that. Howard has cancer, it's aggressive and the doctors give him six months to live.   I was shocked & saddened but I wasn't sure how to respond to that news. As much as I hated him, I certainly didn't want this to happen. And I was heartbroken for my poor Mom, as now she has to deal with this.   Since the diagnosis, I've only seen them one time, around my birthday in May. I kept saying that we'd do some things during the summer but it never worked out.   Just this past weekend, the pain of chemotherapy and everything else became too much for him. He decided to stop fighting and is now in hospice care.
I'm going to visit him tomorrow. I'm not sure if my daughter or wife (not my daughter's mom, that will be a WHOLE other series of blogs ) will join me but I'm going.   Again, the feelings I have are so conflicted. How can I be so upset about someone who caused me so much pain? Yet, here I am, extremely upset. Part of it is pain for my Mom, imagining how she must be feeling. When the calendar turned to 2016, everything was fine in her world. Now, before Thanksgiving, completely turned upside down.
As I spend time thinking and reflecting, I'm continuing to remember things that weren't so bad. How he attended my Student of the Month ceremony in seventh grade when no one else could. How he coached my Babe Ruth teams. How he took me fishing & camping.   It's so strange, so bizarre and so painful. I apologize if this isn't the proper use of the blog but I consider myself amongst friends here and I don't feel like going back to a therapist. I have no interest sharing something like this on Facebook, so here I am.   Thanks for listening to me ramble.

StormSurge

StormSurge

 

Xevious (Atari 7800)

(Hums theme to Xevious). Xevious. A shoot 'em up game developed by Namco. I still have no clue as to what exactly the player is suppose to do other than destroy everything. As well it is unclear whether the game actually has a purpose or if the player is locked in an endurance mode lasting as long as they can. I never figured it out. But I believe I read somewhere that Xevious has 8 rounds.  Xevious is a vertical-scrolling shoot 'em up game. The player gets no power ups and is equipped with a twin shooter and ground bombs. Difficulty switches on the front of the 7800 console can help the player select whether one fire button fires both simultaneously or if one button fires the twin shooter and another button fires the bombs. It has to be selected before starting the game though as you can't switch in the middle of a game.   With my best 7800 controller connected, I put Xevious in my 7800 and power it on. On my screen is the Atari logo (which is striking similar to the one used on the 1200 XL home computer). After a few seconds the Xevious title screen appears. I use the joystick to select a beginner skill level and press the fire button to start the game.  

I do pretty well starting out having taken down a few flying enemies and bombing a few "tanks" and other ground enemies firing at me. Before too long I am zoned in to the action on my screen. Before long I come across these barriers that are flipping in mid air. These can not be shot down. Every shot I make that hits one is met with sudden death.  As the game play continues it is not long until I am up against a rather large enemy. Surrounding this enemy are large black dots that turn into shots aimed at me. I have no clue as to what I'm suppose to do. After a minute the thing flies off the top of the screen and my mission continues on.   After a while I am up against more flying enemies and tanks that can run on top of water. I never knew they made such things. And before long I make a wrong move and lose a life. I finally find my trouble spot and lose life after life and before I know it I run out of extra lives. Game over.  
Xevious, while it is a fun game, can make the player feel like they have no purpose to keep playing. Yet, at the same time, it can be difficult to put down. If any game shows what the 7800 is capable of I would have to say that Xevious is one of them. The graphics look really good, the characters are well done, and even the sounds are spot on. Controls work well but, as an issue with the 7800 standard controllers, my hands started cramping before I made it to that huge enemy. This is from the 7800 controllers being so uncomfortable to use for prolonged periods of time and not because of the game.  Xevious is a good game that captures everything that makes the arcade exciting. It could also be considered a 7800 exclusive since no other Atari console every received it. Considering the 7800's rather short life span and game library I couldn't see a 7800 gamer without this game in their library of 7800 games. It's worth owning.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Jungle Hunt (Atari 2600)

Jungle Hunt was one of many games Atari would bring to their consoles, meaning the 2600 and 5200, that I would not have the joy of experiencing. I'm not sure why this game never made it in my library of games in the past unless we simply could not find it. But it is here now and I have been trying to enjoy the game.   Jungle Hunt is a side-scrolling, run-and-jump style game. You play as a guy trying to rescue a woman who has been captured by savages. Sound a bit familiar? The game offers four stages of game play and two difficulty settings. Difficulty switches are not used in this game. So, in pops the cart and on goes my 2600. I grab the controller and press the fire button.  

At the start of the game I'm swinging on a vine and have to jump from vine to vine to reach the next level. Timing of jumps is vital as a mistimed jump can lead to death from a nasty fall. One jump after another what seems like a few seconds and I'm on the next lever before I know it. 
That was a breeze. My guy is swimming in what I believe is a really huge river. In this river are alligators or crocodiles, not sure which, and I don't think it would matter should one have me for lunch. On the right side of the screen just above the "water" is a diving meter. If you dive below the surface of the water the guy can only hold his breath for so long...and that meter is a timer for how long he can hold his breath. Stay underwater too long and you lose a life. I lose two lives in this round; one from an alligator and another one for not paying attention to my breath meter. Opps.  
The next round our guy has to avoid boulders either by jumping over or ducking under them. There are two size of boulders. The smaller boulders are not difficult and only require timed jumps. The larger boulders, however, are a bit more difficult and I soon learn it is easier to duck under them than to try to jump over them. Before I know it  
...I'm suddenly standing next to a jumping savage. It takes me a few times to figure out this area and I lose all my lives and have to start over. By the time I make it back here I have managed to keep all of my lives from the start. I study the movement of the savage. Jumps to the right and then jumps back left and seems to pause for a second before jumping again. That's it! I manage to get next to him on his jump right and as he jumps left I move close to him. As soon as he lands I jump over him. Ah HA! Success!! Another savage, same move as before, and jump!  
And I have managed to save our jungle lady in distress ... for the first time. After my bonus points have been added up we are back at the beginning of the game, ready to do it all over again. This time things are a bit tougher than before. I only manage to make it to the swimming round because the alligators are faster than before and I can't hold my breath as long as I could before. So...game over at the swimming round.  
Jungle Hunt is a good game. The graphics are not that bad for being a 2600 game. It's easy to visually tell what everything is suppose to represent. There are not many sounds in this game other than when jumping, the bonus points being counted up, drowning or being eaten by alligators, and short tune between levels and at the beginning of the game. Other than that the game is pretty much quiet. The controls are tight and respond very well. It might take a while, however, to time jumps in later levels but as soon as a direction or button is pushed the game responds immediately.  Jungle Hunt is fun and looks good. I especially enjoy the label artwork that I would have expected to see on the side of the arcade cab. Jungle Hunt is sure to provide with a few minutes to an hour of entertainment. It should also be enjoyable sitting next to more games in a 2600 library.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Ms. Pac-Man (Atari 5200)

During the first year of the 5200's production run, the system received many ports of popular arcade hits. Every dot-munchin' gamer loved Pac-Man, a game the 5200 received shortly after initial release. To Atari ... it only made sense to bring the Queen of Video Games, Ms. Pac-Man, for SuperSystem owners to enjoy in the comfort of their homes. 

Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 contains everything the arcade hit has including very accurate multiple mazes, intermissions, music and sounds. Pressing the start button gives the player the first maze along with the opening music Ms. Pac-Man is known for. Going around the maze, munching dots, the ghosts don't take long to come chasing after me ... forcing me to use a power dot. It's not long before I finish up the first maze with one life down because I made a turn the wrong way when I was expecting a ghost to move another way.  
Down with the second maze and I'm down two more lives. Pinky managed to head me off when Blinky was hot on my tail. Not once but twice. Time for a break to watch the first intermission! OK...new maze now. The speed of the game seems to have picked up by now. I barely manage to eat all of the dots on this round and am on my last life by the time I reach the pretzel round. I don't last long because I take a turn into the bottom left tunnel without noticing that Inky had already entered the same tunnel on the right side. Game Over.  
At first the game seems a bit sluggish, almost like it is stuck in slow-motion. The animation and game play is not as smooth as it was in Pac-Man but the controls are a bit more responsive. As the player advances a few more mazes the game play speeds picks up a bit. The graphics are really good but I think the eyes on the ghosts could have been done better. And I know that the 5200 is very well capable of producing a purple color so why do we have a brown Sue??? That is the only real complaint I have with this Ms. Pac-Man is the one ghost that is not colored like the arcade. Then again the fourth ghost in Pac-Man was not the right color either.    As for sounds...eh...they are not too bad but I feel some more effort could have been made to make them more arcade-like. Especially after playing a prototype version of Super Pac-Man on the 5200 that showed just how close the 5200 can sound to the arcades. So for Ms. Pac-Man I did expect sounds to be a bit better than they were.   Controls are actually not too bad nor difficult...providing a good working standard controller is used. My copy is used so I am not sure if Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 came with overlays or not. Pretty much standard with 5200 games, * usually changes skill levels and # changes number of players....or is it the other way around? Oh well...just mash 'em 'til ya find 'em. They are the only keys used on the keypad anyway.   All kidding aside, Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 looks and plays well but it also feels like it might have been a bit rushed as there are some things that could have used a bit more polishing. And, while the sounds are not too bad, Atari should have spent a little more time perfecting them. The only pet-peeve I have with this game is the one ghost that is not colored like the arcade. If you are going to try to port an arcade game to a home console at least get the colors right. Other than that Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 is a solid and fun title so 5200 owners owe it to themselves to enjoy a game with the Queen of Video Games.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

2016 Atari VCS/2600 homebrews as of 10/15/16

This is just this year and just for the Atari VCS/2600.............
2016
Homebrews released
Jan 10, 2016 - Upp! (Jason Santuci "theloon") - self published {sold thru Etsy} SOLD OUT
Jan 28, 2016 - Pigs in the Castle (Rudy J. Ferretti) - self published
Jan 28, 2016 - Checked Inn (Rudy J. Ferretti) - self published
Jan 31, 2016 - Coke Zero <NTSC version> (Thomas Jentzsch) - AtariAge blog
Feb 15, 2016 - Upp!+ - Jason Santuci/self published (contains small feature changes and improvements){sold thru Etsy} SOLD OUT
Apr 2, 2016 (@ 2016 Cowlitz Gamers Show) - ature (2016 re-release) ("Beoran") SOLD OUT
May 22, 2016 - Starfleet Simulation (Mr SQL) {Supercharger cassette} - self published
June 1-30, 2016 (on KS) - Conjoined - Jason Santuci/Joe Grisaffi - based from the movie "Conjoined"/AtariAge - Kickstarter
June 22, 2016 - A New Marauder (Darcio Prestes & Leandro Camara) - MoreWork.com.br
July 23, 2016 - Anguna (Nathan Tolbert/Bite the Chili games) AtariAge forum
Aug 8, 2016 - Space Warfare (AskewTV) AtariAge forum
Aug 23, 2016 - Bigfoot: Family Search (Bobby Alexander/Jason Santuci) Kickstarter
Sept 17, 2016 - Super Trash Truck - Sadai Games Corp./Collectorvision
Oct 9, 2016 - Polybius - Lost Classics (2nd issue) pre-orders started
Oct 10, 2016 - Boss - (Dave Vogt & Jason Santuci w/Gemintronic) - Indiegogo
Oct 15, 2016 - Alien Ooze - (Scott Dayton w/NEO Games) - "Atari 2600 Homebrew" Facebook group  
Hacks released
Apr 1, 2016 - Fixing the Tempest proto (hack of the Atari prototype Tempest)
Apr 14, 2016 - Trump Invaders (hack of Space Invaders)
Apr 15, 2016 - Hillary Invaders (hack of Space Invaders)
May 10, 2016 - Dragster: The Duel {hack} - Scott Dayton - limited to 20 copies
May 22, 2016 - Ms. Pac-Man Improvements
June 5, 2016 - Plaque Attack TB (trak-ball compatible version of Plaque Attack)
July 2, 2016 - Star Tunnel - Scott Dayton (30 copies only - 15 of each Life/Death label) $30 - thru Facebook
Aug 9, 2016 - Pac Rock - AskenTV (AtariAge forum)
Aug 10, 2016 - Night Grand Prix - Atarius Maximus (AtariAge forum)  
Releasing Soon (actual software)
Auctioning off at 2016 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - The End - Lost Classics
At 2016 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - Scramble, The Stacks, Anguna 2600, Drive!, Assembloids 2600, Golden Legends (Gauntlet 2600), The Gizzle Wap and The Strange Red Tree - AtariAge
At 2016 Free Play Florida Expo - E.T. After Dark, Shoot Shit, Space Invaders Free Play Florida, Godzilla - NEO Games
Soon '16 - Dark Cavern (hack) - Scott Dayton
Soon '16 - Fire Ants - ComiSoft Inc.
Soon '16 - Twist'r-Shark (was "Sharknado") - NeoGames
Soon '16 - Balloon Girl - Jason Santuci
Soon '16 - Legends - Scott Dayton
??? 2016 - Alien Greed: Return of Charles - NeoGames
??? 2016 - RAM-Pong - Packrat Games
??? 2016/carts signed Feb 2015 - Demons (based on the 1985 movie) - NeoGames
On Hold - Tunnels & Trolls - Jason Santuci
??? 2016 - Zombie Road Kill - Scott Dayton
??? 2016 - Aaron the Aant - Chris Read/2600Connection
previewed at 2015 Portland Retro Gaming Expo - The Stacks, Panky the Panda - AtariAge
previewed at 2015 Houston ArcadeExpo - Laughing Boy - Jason Santuci/AtariAge
WIP - D.K. VCS, DK Arcade 2600, Pac Man 8k, Wizard of Wor 2: The Arena - AtariAge
Future project - Colony 7 TB (Trak-Ball version) - Thomas Jentzsch   WIP (work in progress during 2016)
May 31 2015 - Shadow of the Colossus VCS - back working on it
Jul 6 2015 - Street Fight World - back working on it
Nov 13 2015 - Scramble 2600 (port) - releasing Oct. 2016
Dec 3 2015 - Project Eden (2nd attempt)- back working on it
Dec 15 2015 - ChaoticGrill (port of Burgertime)
Dec 18 2015 - Jet!
Dec 21 2015 - Scrollanoid
Dec 27 2015 - Save Earth Complete
Jan 5 2016 - Super Mario 64 2600 (port) - back working on it
Jan 8 2016 - Anguna - completed 7/23/16
Jan 19 2016 - Dragster EX Pro (hack)
Jan 28 2016 - Wal-Rush!
Jan 29 2016 - StarBlitz
Jan 30 2016 - Bird Poop!
Feb 18 2016 - Adventures of the 50 Foot Tall Stalk of Celery - back working on it
Feb 20 2016 - Taxi Panic!
Mar 8 2016 - Drive!
Mar 10 2016 - Breakout Clone
Mar 15 2016 - Cat and Mouse
Mar 18 2016 - Ohio Jay and the Last Supper Goblet
Mar 19 2016 - Xybots 2600 remake
Apr 1 2016 - Protocol
Apr 20 2016 - Muppy The Bunny: Light V.S Dark
Apr 25 2016 - JumpBall
Apr 26 2016 - Railslider
May 15 2016 - Star Tunnel
May 27 2016 - Gyvolver - back working on it from 2012
May 28 2016 - Bananas Are Good (2K) - finished 6/2/16
June 2 2016 - Bananas Are Good 4K (2 player version)
June 9 2016 - Raindrop
June 11 2016 - Hello World! (demo)
June 16 2016 - Dodgeball
July 9 2016 - The Celery Game
July 10 2016 - Grand Strategy
July 11 2016 - Plasma (demo)
July 13 2016 - Canflag (demo)
July 23 2016 - Color Gotcha 2600
July 25 2016 - King of Mersia
July 27 2016 - Donkey Kong 2: Pauline's Revenge
July 29 2016 - Alien Jail
Aug 2 2016 - Haunted House III: Slashers
Aug 13 2016 - Battle Pong
Aug 16 2016 - Nuka Break
Aug 19 2016 - KickMan (Unicycle Balloon Kicker)
Aug 22 2016 - Spazer
Aug 27 2016 - Spaceman Splorf
Sept 8 2016 - Tie Fighter
Sept 14 2016 - denial '77
Sept 19 2016 - Rock Concert
Sept 22 2016 - Pac_Man Eat n Run
Sept 27 2016 - Neon Run
Oct 3 2016 - "I Hate Vegetables!"
Oct 7 2016 - Hugohunt

Arenafoot

Arenafoot

 

Atari 5200 Game Rating List

Well...here it is; my 5200 game rating list. This list will grow as I obtain and review 5200 games. Just like the 2600 list I have going this list will show how I rank the 5200 games I come across.                              
5200 Game Ratings Moon Patrol Ms. Pac-Man
 
October 17, 2016: Ms. Pac-Man on the 5200 is a solid title but does suffer from a few aspects that differ from the arcade smash hit. One of the ghosts is not colored correctly and the sounds seem to fall a bit short for my tastes. Controls are actually good and very responsive. However, as much as I love Ms. Pac-Man I would play Moon Patrol more often so the Queen is currently defending 2nd place.   September 30, 2016: Moon Patrol is a great arcade port the 5200 received. The multi-scrolling background, the enemies, and the moon buggy's animation across the bumpy terrain are very well detailed and close to the arcade. Sounds are good and close to the arcade but at times will seem flat in comparison. Since this is the first game I reviewed on the 5200 it is the only one on the list at the moment. There will be more games reviewed soon. This game will give your 5200 controller a decent workout.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Moon Patrol (Atari 5200)

When Moon Patrol hit the local arcade it quickly became one of my favorites. By the time my 11th birthday came I had pretty much faced the reality that games for my 5200 were no longer going to arrive. This would have been in the spring of 1985 and after 1983 showed up the 5200 games seem to have stopped. For two years I kept hoping that I would see a new game for my 5200 show up somewhere. Nope. The only thing I really seen was the sudden rate at which prices were being dropped on anything for my 5200 and some 2600 titles as well. So I was surprised when I unwrapped a brand new 5200 game called Moon Patrol. Where Mom found it I had no clue and I still have no clue but it was the only gift I got that day and that was enough for me.  It took everything in me to wait until after my birthday to play Moon Patrol on the 5200. And that time is when I believe I started to pick up the habit (a bad one) how to block out anything else around me to concentrate on a game. And what seemed like a few minutes was actually a couple of hours. The friends I had sitting next to me were no longer there...and, yes, I shared the game with them. I remember taking turns for a while and then it seemed like the asking to play stopped all of a sudden. Other than that my eyes were stuck on the purple moon buggy on the screen, watching for holes and rocks, while firing at enemies.  
Just before writing this review up I took some time to play this game again on the 5200 to refresh my memory and to get my mind set on what to write about. The memories of getting this game as a gift came back. The timed reflexes also returned to aide my quest. I managed to make it to "Y" before a second rock caught me off guard after I jumped over a rock while trying to shoot at enemies above me. After that my whole thought process seemed to not want to work any more. I guess you could say I lost my mojo. 
Moon Patrol is a side-scrolling arcade-style game that is a bit of Space Invaders and a bit of something else. The side-scrolling action is automatic but the player can adjust the speed at which the moon buggy is traveling with the joystick. It's not just the enemies flying down out of the sky that the player has to worry about either; there's rocks (which you can shoot or jump over), holes, mines, robot tanks, and if you manage to make it to the Advanced stage, there is a hovercraft that will attack you from behind. Basically anything possible to destroy you was put in the game...and it actually works well.  The player travels from A to Z in five rounds; A to E, F to J, K to O, P to T, and U to Z. As the player progresses the more challenges the player faces. The nice thing about Moon Patrol is that the rounds are pattern-based, meaning that no matter how many games you play the way the rounds are setup will remain the same. Where ever a hole or rock was before it will be in that exact same spot the next time through.  
One of the things that I really love about Moon Patrol on the 5200 is the artwork. While it is the same used on the 2600 with the exception of the red sky the 5200 Moon Patrol has the blue sky background to match the system's dedicated color. It's one of my favorite box arts on the 5200...it makes you want to play the game instead of trying to figure out what the artwork is doing.  The 5200 version of Moon Patrol does not include a keypad overlay so if you get a complete, or new, copy of this game don't think they are missing. There simply wasn't any made for this game. I will say this; Moon Patrol on the 5200 may require you to use your best working controller. Immediate responses from working controls can make the difference in the overall experience of this game.   Moon Patrol is one of many arcade titles that made it to the 5200 ... and it is a well make port. The graphics, sounds, and controls are good even with the analog controls. It will not disappoint. I couldn't see my 5200 collection being without Moon Patrol and you shouldn't either.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Missile Command (Atari 2600)

Ahh. Missile Command. A game that reminds me of the ABC Network movie called The Day After. If you've never seen the movie I will share it on the forums here at Atari.IO. Watch it and you will see why I feel the two are almost connected.  Missile Command is an arcade-style game where the player is protecting six cities from wave after wave of attacks. First a few missiles, then a few more missiles. These are soon joined with bi-planes, satellites, and more to increase the challenge as if there already wasn't enough. It's enough to make one pull their hair out.  
Popping the cartridge in the 2600 I am greeted with a game screen where I can change skill levels and settings. I go with default settings. First wave of missiles I fend off easily. The next round introduces a few more missiles than before. By the third round I'm fending off bi-planes as well, by the fifth round there are these little, annoying, small triangles coming down that manage to avoid my shots. But I manage to save all six cities. I lose my first city by round eight. As the game progresses the speed at which things are coming out of the sky is overwhelming and by the tenth round it's game over.  
Being played on the 2600 Missile Command is a very well made port. But it is also a game where the player will lose, it's only a matter of how skilled a player is and how much time they are willing to spend playing it. The visuals of the game are not too different from the arcade. I didn't notice any flickering and the sounds are OK. Despite being a track-ball game the controls are very well done for the joystick controller.   Missile Command appears to be about an era when worries of nuclear attacks were an everyday fear. I'm not so sure if those fears still exist or even if the underground facilities for such an event are still around either. Missile Command might have more to do with history, not video game history but actual history, in the fact that it portrays what would happen in an all-out missile attack anywhere in the world. Even with the most sophisticated technology to help protect against such an attack, cities would be wiped off the map, lives would be lost, civilizations destroyed. But, it is only a game and well made one at that. And the 2600 does a very decent job of bringing home the arcade that was once a hit.   Missile Command is one of those games you either like it or you don't. It is a very common 2600 title so it shouldn't be too difficult to find. No Atari 2600 would be the same without Missile Command in a game library. I'm just not too sure how often I would play it.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Atari 5200 Guide

If you are here then you either have a 5200 console and not sure what to do with it or you have had one for a while that is not wanting to work right or at all. In either case the system is most likely used, has not been played in quite sometime, and the controls are not working. Am I right?   Then welcome to the Atari 5200 guide! I will do my very best to help you get your system cleaned up, hooked-up the way it was intended, so that it can be enjoyed the way it was intended. Be advised, though, that the 5200 is a delicate console. It will last for a very long time if knowledge is shared on its operation and such. It is not a console intended to sit on a shelf, closet, basement, or where ever, for months on end without using it. Not using a 5200 will do it more harm than good, even after giving it a lot of tender loving care. This will be a multiple-part series covering how to use, clean, and maintain the 5200 console and its controllers. Ready? Let's get started! I'm already excited!!   What You Should Have   If you have just purchased a 4-port 5200 (four controller ports on the front of the system) you should have: A 4-port 5200 console An Original 5200 A/C Adapter (do NOT use any other adapter or you may destroy the console!) An Original 5200 Automatic RF Switchbox At least one original 5200 controller At least one 5200 game of your choice

If you have just purchased a 2-port 5200 (two controller ports on the front of the system) you should have: A 2-port 5200 console An Original 5200 A/C Adapter (do NOT use any other adapter or you may destroy the console!) A 2600-style RF Switchbox or a Cable-Ready Adapter is OK At least one original 5200 Controller At least one 5200 game of your choice

NOTE: There has been known identity problems with an A/C Adapter included with the 5200 and those included with the 400/800 Atari computers. This adapter looks almost identical to the adapters used for the 400 and 800 computers. Whatever you do please, before connecting any adapter to the 5200, make sure it has the Atari logo and says on it "Use only with model CX-5200". This is an AC to DC adapter meaning it converts incoming AC current into DC current. The 400/800 Atari computers have circuitry built in them to do the converting of the current to DC, the 5200 does not. Using an adapter for a 400/800 Atari computer on a 5200 will fry it the second the Power switch is pressed because the 5200 can not handle the AC current. I mention this here because I have seen this and once got a 4-port off of E-Bay with a 400/800 adapter included...and I didn't notice it until it was too late.  
If anything is missing or damaged/worn out, replace those before trying to use your 5200 again with original equipment. Using aftermarket parts, especially on the 4-port console, may be more costly and more harmful to your equipment than the original-issued equipment.   How To Properly Hook-Up A 5200 To Your TV (4-Ports Only!)   You may have seen online videos or other reviews/blogs mentioning about a spark that comes from connecting the system to the RF switchbox of the 5200. This spark is caused from connecting the 5200 in the opposite order of the instructions that were included with the console. What is causing the spark is the power adapter being connected to the RF switchbox first and then connecting the 5200 to the switchbox last. You are essentially creating a surge of power being sent to the 5200.   In the words of the late Gene Wilder when portraying Willy Wonka, "Strike that, reverse it." Connect the 5200 to the RF Switchbox first and then connect the switchbox to your TV. After that connect the AC adapter to the switchbox and finally plug the AC Adapter into the wall outlet. Always plug the adapter into the wall last. This will eliminate any chances of a spark or power surge from happening.   Use the same steps to connect a 2-port 5200: console to switchbox first, connect switchbox to TV, connect console end of AC adapter to console, and then plug the adapter into the wall outlet.   Testing The Console   Cross your fingers at this point as this is the do or die moment. Hopefully you managed to pick up a game or two (or more) along with your 5200. Grab any one of those and insert it in the 5200's cartridge port, making sure the label is up-right and facing you. It will fit snugly in the port. Try not to force the cartridge in the slot as this should not be necessary. If the cartridge springs back up, however, you may need a little more force to make it fit all the way in the cartridge slot. Once it is properly seated press the Power switch.   If you have an Atari released title you should see the Atari Logo with the game's name and copyright date at the bottom. Any third-party games, like those from Parker Bros., Sega, and Activision, will go directly to the game screen or a title screen.   If you don't have a power light on the console then double-check all of your connections to the RF Switchbox. Make sure that all connections are fully seated in their sockets and that the AC Adapter is plugged into the wall. If you still have no power there is a way to safely check the AC Adapter by simply placing the AC Adapter to your ear. If you hear a buzz or humming noise then the AC Adapter is getting power and working (we will get to that in a moment).   If you have a power light on the console but no TV signal check to make sure that you have the Automatic RF Switchbox in NORMAL mode and not in STANDBY mode. Also make sure the TV is set to the proper channel (2 or 3). For 2-ports make sure the RF Switchbox is in COMPUTER or GAME mode by moving the switch to that direction completely.   If the AC Adapter is making a humming noise, and still the 5200 is not coming on, the AC Adapter may still be at fault. Inside the 5200 adapter is a fuse to help protect it against a large power surge. The AC Adapter will still hum from the transformer inside working but the console end of the adapter will be dead. Unless you know how to fix electronics, and are comfortable with taking things apart and fixing them, it is recommended to get a new 5200 adapter from an Atari dealer (which in this case would be Video 61 or Best Electronics).   If the system still refuses to work at all it may be defectively unfortunately. The good news is that the above mentioned dealers can also fix the 5200. I can only offer things to check for such as a damaged or worn-out RF cable, AC Adapter, RF Switchbox, etc. I have not had any issues with a 5200 that is cause for parts repairs or replacements other than those already mentioned. Others may know more than me and, if so, I would hope they would share that information in a comment below.   If your machine is working then we now need to test the controller or controllers if you have more than one.   Testing The Controllers   All 5200 models should have the same controllers unless you are lucky to find a Wico controller. But this is about standard equipment that would have been included with the console when bought new decades ago. For that reason this section will be discussing the original 5200 analog controllers.   This is the most picky part your will find on the 5200. These are what makes and breaks a 5200 because of the nature on how they actually work. I will discuss the insides of these in another post because I want to keep how to fix these separate from this post so it is easier to find.   First, turn off the console. Please do not connect a controller to the 5200 before turning it off if this is your first time using one. There is a reason for this which I will discuss in another post. Plug a controller into the Control 1 port of your 5200. Turn on your machine with a game already inserted in the cartridge port. I recommend Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Missile Command for testing controllers. Press the START button. You shouldn't have to press these buttons hard at all. If they are not responding well or at all they may just need to be cleaned. You can either find a video or other post about how to clean these controllers or wait a bit for me to write mine. I have a few secrets that some of those other do-it-yourself instructions may not have.   If your controller is working then try to have fun. Play a full game. Play all the games you have for the 5200. Take notes on how the controller is working, responding. Is it sluggish? Are the buttons working instantly? Are you having to mash the buttons with too much force? Keep a mental record of your findings with the controller for each game played. If you have more than one controller then try them all out taking notes on which one works best or which ones have the better response in the joystick handle and which ones have the better button responses. This will be important later.   A Bit About The 5200 Controllers   One thing you can not do with the 5200, and really shouldn't do, is approach the 5200 and treat it as if it was the 2600. While it is an Atari console it is not a 2600. And in some ways it simply can not handle the rigor a 2600 can.   One of the ways I have witnessed some people play a 5200 game is by holding the controller with one hand and working the joystick with their other hand by covering the top of the joystick. While there is no set way to use a joystick controller, and maybe I'm being a bit picky here, the 5200 controller is not an 8-way joystick with contact buttons inside. It is a 360 degree analog joystick meaning that it is very sensitive to movement. How I hold the controller is shown in the image below.     It's kinda hard taking a picture while trying to hold the controller but what I am trying to show is how I use the joystick portion. Cradle the controller with one hand where the fire buttons are comfortable to use. With the other hand try using the joystick handle by its base instead of the top. By playing the joystick handle inside your fore finger and thumb you can actually get better control and movement of your character on the screen with games that are analog sensitive. I hold the 2600 and 7800 controllers this exact same way as well to help eliminate or prolong cramps or other hand pains.   What All The Buttons Do On The 5200 Controller   The buttons on the 5200 controller are somewhat self explanatory as far as START, PAUSE, and RESET are concerned. But... START BUTTON -- Starts a game PAUSE BUTTON -- Freezes the game. Press again to resume where you left off. NOTE: Some games will return to the title screen if the game is left paused for too long. Others will put the 5200 in an attract mode just like the 2600 does, changing the colors on screen to protect the TV screen from burn-ins. This is normal and not a defect. RESET BUTTON -- Returns to the Title Screen or another screen where you can change game settings if available. This feature usually only works when a game is paused. So, pause your game first before pressing RESET to return to the game's title screen.

The 5200 controller has two fire buttons on either side of the controller known as "Top Button" and "Bottom Button". This is to accommodate left- and right-handed players because the right-side buttons do the same as the left-sided buttons depending on the game being played. In some games the Top Button is not used.  
The Keypad is the 12-buttons on the controller under the joystick handle. These keys perform various functions in the games and are very dependent on the game being played. In most games, however, the STAR (*) key is used to select the number of players and the POUND (#) key is used to select the skill level.   There were not many games made that make use of all the keypad buttons but some do. And without instructions, if you have never played the 5200 game before, can cause frustration. Most games came with keypad overlays that detailed what each button did in those games and are hopefully included with the games you find. Atari-made 5200 game cartridges had an area on the back of them to store the keypad overlays. Look there if you buy loose carts for the overlays.   How To Approach The 5200 And Its Games   The 5200 is a game console...nothing more, nothing less. But, due to the nature of its controls, the controllers movements and limitations will need to be learned first. Once you turn a game on move the joystick in a full 360 degree movement a few times. Then wiggle it some more in a left to right and back to left motion. This will aide the 5200 find the controller's center a bit better since it really doesn't have any programming to detect the controller's dead center.   If you have it, play a few games of Super Breakout to get use to how the joystick moves the paddle on the screen. Try a combination of slight movements to fast movements while playing the game. Practice this as much as you can because this is the true learning curve of the 5200; to harness the feel of the analog joystick.   Once the feeling and movement of the joystick is harnessed with one game try another. This is usually where the 5200 rules will change on you as each game performs differently. This is another learning curve with the 5200, the ability to learn the controllers on a game-by-game basis. If it sounds like a pain it really isn't. Usually a small amount of time is needed to pick up on how the game controls work the game on the screen. The main thing is to practice how to work the controller first and then learn how to play the game. That...that is where the 5200 is best approached. I know that statement is the same for any game but it applies more so to the 5200 and its games.   What To Do When Finished Playing   You will save yourself a lot of headaches, and prolong the 5200's functionality, if you do the following when done playing the 5200 for the day: Turn the machine off Remove the game cartridge from the cartridge slot. You can remove it completely or let the cart rest in the slot. It is not recommended to leave the cartridge completely seated inside the slot. Unhook the controller(s) from the controller port(s). You don't have to wind the cords around the joystick handles and you do not have to use the provided storage space on the console. Considering the age of the controllers, winding the cords around the handle could cause the small wires inside the cable to break, thus causing a controller not to work until the cord is replaced. You can place the controllers inside the storage area of the console and feed the cables in the small holes provided on either side of the console, then close the lid. However you store the controllers try to place them somewhere where dust can't reach them. Unplug the AC Adapter from the wall outlet. It is no longer necessary, nor a requirement, for power plants to give warning of a power surge. If a power plant was to perform a power surge without warning, and your 5200 was still plugged in, the surge could cause the 5200 to fail prematurely. So, if you plan on keeping it plugged in at least put it on a surge protector. Otherwise unplug it from the wall when not in use...even if for a few hours or so.
 
What NOT To Do With Your 5200   There are a few things not recommended to do with a 5200 console. Some of these are common knowledge while others are things I've ran into and would like to share with you. Do not leave a game completely seated in the 5200 while it is powered off and the AC Adapter is still plugged into the wall outlet for too long. Others I've mentioned this to have said they have never experienced this issue. But, just for the record, when I was I think 7 or 8, I had played a game of Space Invaders before having to go to bed. When I woke up the next morning to get ready for school I tried to get in a quick game of Space Invaders again while Mom fixed breakfast only to discover that the game no longer worked. Some have said that the game may have been faulty. And while that may have been true we (meaning Mom and me) had never had any issues with buying a game and it not work. I had left the system on the coffee table, game plugged in the machine, and the AC Adapter still plugged into the wall. Because of the experience I had I don't recommend doing this. I can't be 100% certain if this is what caused my Space Invaders to fail or not but, just to be safe, I am mentioning it here. Do not let the 5200 sit more than a month without using it. This is mainly for the controllers as letting them sit can cause the buttons to stop working completely or make them hard to use, resulting in a cleaning job to be performed. Let it get exercise once a week to at least twice a month if you can. If you can't do that then at least once a month playing it for at least an hour. Do not attempt to clean the cartridge slot while the power adapter is sending power through the system. Even when turned off the cartridge slot is still receiving 5 volts of power. Cleaning the cartridge slot while the power is still being provided will short the system out for good. Remove the source of power and press the power switch to drain any stored power before cleaning the cartridge slot.

Remember, while it is an Atari console, it is not a 2600 and should not be used as such. It will benefit you more to treat the 5200 as a delicate computer than a game console even if it is a game console. It is a beautiful machine that will last you years of enjoyment as long as you play by its rules. Treat it with respect and it will treat you to some of the best gaming you will ever experience.  
A Few Tidbits   Did you know: The 5200 is only one of two Atari consoles that is Made in the U.S.A.? This is something not seen very much in the modern world. The 5200 was only released in the USA? You can get extra balls in Super Breakout? It's true! On your 5th ball press the one button to reset the ball counter back to 1.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

Solaris (Atari 2600)

Before I get too far along, I had previously reviewed this game on this website here. So if you would like to read that first for a memory refresh, or if you haven't read it yet, the link to it is provided. Because this review is revisiting the game and adding to that review. Let's see how well Solaris still stands after a few months.   Without repeating myself too much, Solaris was an attempt at creating a Star Raiders-like title for the Atari 2600. Instead of a first-person flying perspective we get a third-person view behind our ship. And the galaxy map? Forget it! That is old school. Solaris has a large world that is really impressive. Seriously...every time I play this game I am overwhelmed by the sheer size and amount of maps that make up this fictional space. It's really good.  
So, every time I plug Solaris in my 2600 I forget what I am playing this game on and, for a while, I am a spaceship captain and pilot out to find Solaris. I manage to take out a few Zylons, a Zylon Planet or two while rescuing a few Cadets along the way. It's not long before I find a wormhole where I can jump to another location on another map. After doing so, however, I find that the only way to advance is to attack some kind of space pirates where I get destroyed ... rather ... easily. Dang it! So I try again. And again ... and again. I finally give in and play something else.  
After returning to reality I turn off the console, realizing that the game was on the Atari 2600 system. It's hard to believe that a system originally designed to play pong and tank games is capable of producing the game play I just witnessed. The graphics look really good for a 2600 game, the sounds don't seem 2-channel at times, and the controls are easy to use and master. Where Solaris' heart lies is within that large map the developer called a "Scanner". Solaris has 16 quadrants, or maps, with each quadrant made up of 48 sectors. All sectors combined create this space maze, if you will, where it is easy to get lost, trapped, attacked. At the same time the urge to explore the quadrants to see what all is out there remains a driving force that becomes an enemy itself because you simply don't have the time. In-game time that is.   Solaris will take you on a trip that is like no other on the 2600. If you love a good space action/adventure then Solaris on the 2600 will fill that bill. And quite easily I might add. This is one game I don't play very often. Why? Because of the time it takes to play it. When I don't have much time to play a 2600 I will pass on Solaris and grab a game I know will last only a few minutes...like 5 to 10 minutes tops. But, when I know I have plenty of time Solaris is my go-to title when I want to spend that time on the 2600. I still have not mastered this game but I know I will someday. I highly recommend this game for 2600 owners just as I did in my original review. It is a marvel of what could be done on the 2600. It will not disappoint. Might take some time to get use to but it will not leave you thinking it was a waste of money.

kamakazi20012

kamakazi20012

 

The Many Faces of....Pac Man

I'm stealing the bit from Retrogaming Times. "The Many Faces of" was one of my favorite articles. Comparisons of the same game for various systems. Ordered from worst to first. Here are the various versions of Pac Man for classic systems. No homebrews or hacks allowed. These are the versions I've played...please let me know if I missed any.   Last Place:
Atari 2600 - People like this version for nostalgia's sake...but it's not a good game. Main sins: Pac Man doesn't face up or down. No fruits. Weird colors. No intermissions. Sounds aren't even close to arcade.
  The "also rans":
VIC-20: They tried. But it's too choppy to be fun. And the maze is way too small.
  TI 99/4A - Looks GREAT. But way too slow and easy. And the lack of multi-channel sound hurts it.
  Atari 8-Bit: The game is good. Great graphics, great sounds. But no intermissions. Game is easy.
  Commodore 64: Almost identical to the Atari 8-bit version. No intermissions. Too slow and easy.
  NES: It's really good. But Pac Man and the ghosts are way too big. Plus the game is slow.
  5200: They took the 8-bit version, added intermissions, and ramped up the difficulty. It's great. But those controllers will cause you to die sometimes.
      Medal Winners:
Bronze:
Intellivision: I'm giving this version a medal for technical achievement. it's amazing how good this version is, given the hardware. Control is no issue. Tight and fun. It has intermissions. The sounds and graphics are great. I love this version so much.
  Silver:
Sega Game Gear - It's just about perfect. The screen scrolls, but that's ok.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKzZyAFqUNM   Gold:
Colecovision: It's a prototype. It should have been released because it is AWESOME. It's so fast. There are intermissions. Ghosts have eyes. Amazing.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-3OOdjnTq4

RickR

RickR

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